Monday, April 20, 2015

When It's Winter

It's the middle of April but we had nearly 1/2 a foot of snow last week so this seems as good of time as any to share a few of our 2015 winter activities. 

The kids tried desperately to play in the nearly non-existent snow. It was an unusually warm and dry winter.  Thank goodness for our mid-April storm!
 
"Mom, is there enough snow to build a snowman yet?"

Cooper and Dave built some pretty cool projects at Lowes and Home Depot.

This week's creation: a monster truck.

We checked out the Lego buildings at Fashion Place mall.

Yep, this was built entirely from Legos. Those Lego builders have a whole lotta patience!

TamTam and Poppa took us to Kangaroo Zoo.

Cooper loved the giant slide.

Two cute cousins.

Sloan spent the entire time playing with TamTam's phone. I tried taking her in the bouncy houses and she freaked out! One thing about Sloan is she never ceases to surprise me. I would have guessed she'd love a room full of things to jump and climb on.

We made lots of art projects! And I mean LOTS of art projects.  Cooper would make something from cardstock, toilet paper rolls, empty boxes, and paint every single day if he could.

Cooper dreamed up these masks all on his own. Cooper is Iron Man and Sloan is Wonder Woman. The yellow arches on Sloan's mask are her hair -- hee, hee!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Year of the Sheep

We rang in the year of the sheep at a Chinese New Year celebration at the Red Dragon restaurant (our favorite Chinese eatery). Sloan was less than impressed with the dragon dancers and drummers.


Luckily, she got some Egg Drop Soup and quickly calmed down.  Cooper had his money ready to feed to the dragon and ensure his good luck for the year.


That dragon was fast but Cooper was able to accomplish his mission.


Cute Graham had to duck to avoid a tickle from the dragon's tail.


We were glad that Graham and his parents could join us for the fun night.  The Hoeppner/Suggs family came too.  I need to remember that reservations for this event fill up quickly!  I tried to add two more families to our group a few weeks before dinner and they were already booked solid :(


Megan, Maggie, and Cory were our across-the-table-buddies. Maggie made sure she stayed close to mom and dad whenever Mr. Dragon approached our table.


Since the dragon show consumed the entire restaurant, we didn't end up eating until much later than expected.  This problem was only exacerbated by the inclusion of 2 pregnant women and 4 preschool-age children in our group.  Note to self: Make earlier reservations next year so you can eat BEFORE the show.

For pictures from our past Chinese New Year escapades, click HERE.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cooper Turns 5

Cooper turned 5 last month.  When it comes to celebrating the kids' birthday we alternate friend parties and more low-key family parties.  This year was a friend party and Cooper requested a Ninja Turtle extravaganza.

Since Grandpa was going to be out of town on Cooper's birthday, he came over the night before for dinner and presents.

Two good looking fellas.
Cooper had preschool on his birthday so after school we took him to Build a Bear.  All he wanted for his birthday from Mom, Dad, and Sloan was to build his own Ninja Turtle.  Request granted. 


Washing off Leo.
One happy birthday boy!
Sloan clearly enjoyed her shopping experience.
Taking Leo home!
That night we had family come over for Ninja Turtle cake. 
Five looks good on you, Coop.

The next day Cooper had his friend party. 

The turtle-tastic decorations.
Cooper helped  color all the favors.
Cake numero 2.
First, the kids played Pin the Pepperoni on the Pizza.
Then they decorated their paper pizzas.
Those are some good lookin' pies!
We played the Candy Bar game. We also unintentionally played Try-to-Keep-14-Kids-in-a-Circle. It was less fun than the Candy Bar Game. 
Hey Miles. What candy did you get?
Dave taught everyone how to be Ninjas. Namaste. 
The kids had to hold onto their pizzas through the entire Ninja obstacle course.

The training was serious business.
Balance beam.
Cooper's Ninja Turtle loot was substantial!

We're so proud of our 5-year-old.  He's smart, observant, considerate, grateful, kind, funny, and every other positive attribute you can think of.  We're also so glad that he has such a great group of friends.  All the kids at his party were so well behaved and generous.

Happy birthday, buddy!  We love you to the moon and back.   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Island Park

In January we joined some neighbors for a trip to Island Park, Idaho.  This was our family's first foray in winter vacationing.  So when I went to Walmart  (in January, mind you) in search of winter boots and gloves for the kids I was shocked to find they had nothing.  But if I wanted flip flops, I had a plethora of choices.  Thank goodness our fabulous friends came to the rescue!

The kids were great on the drive.  When we got there the roads were super snowy so we got to load all our stuff on a snowmobile, change the kids into their snow clothes (while in the van), and ride the snowmobiles the remainder of the way to the cabin.  It was so much fun!

Jill and James were expert hosts.  I told them they need to open a bed and breakfast when they retire because they're so good at it!  Dave took Cooper on a snowmobile ride and even let Coop drive.  We went tubing, built a snow cave, watched football (which normally isn't my thing, but it was highly entertaining with this crowd), and played games.   

We weren't sure what Cooper would think of everything, but he loved it!

Cooper and Dave, ready for their snowmobile ride. 

Cooper mastered tubing and head-first sledding!

Two handsome guys.

Sloan loved being outside, but was content building "houses" in the snow (a.k.a. breaking holes in the snow and eating it).

Kristen and Justin  were kind enough to watch the kids so Dave and I could go snowmobiling.

I put my life into James and Jill's hands as we covered some pretty steep terrain. AHHH!

Everything was beautiful. Hi Dave!
 
Night tubing was a big hit too.

The snow was perfect, the food was delicious, the games were HYSTERICAL, but the best part was definitely the company.  We're lucky duckies, indeed!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Christmas Novel

PROLOGUE
Christmas with kids is the best! We spent much of November and December looking at Christmas lights, picking out the perfect gifts for our loved ones, and doing random acts of kindness for our neighbors and friends.  These two kids make every holiday better than the last.

CHAPTER 1
Cooper has been in speech therapy since October.  His teacher, Miss Emily, has helped him with lots of sounds but the K was certainly his biggest challenge. Just getting Cooper to produce this sound was difficult and a real source of frustration for all of us. One night Cooper was riding in the car with Dave and he suddenly said, "Cooper" (instead of, "ooper").  We were so proud of him and told him he could celebrate any way he wanted.  His pick? Decorating Christmas cookies. 


Our handsome little man.

I decorated the trees.  Cooper did Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread. 

We had extra frosting and couldn't resist adding a green mustache to the Cooper Boy. 

Sloan was more than eager to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
CHAPTER 2
We had a Christmas party at our church where the gymnasium was transformed into Bethlehem. We were supposed to wear our finest shepherd attire.  We can only assume that Sloan saw us dressing up in"costumes" and decided now would be the perfect time to FINALLY wear her Minnie Mouse costume in public. Read here for Sloan's Halloween costume shenanigans.  

We made a few attempts to get her to change, but after cooking food for the event, spilling cooked roast beef all over my kitchen, and trying to find a shepherd ensemble for Cooper that he deemed acceptable (I think he finally settled on my 72nd proposal...at least it felt like that!), it just wasn't worth the fight.  It was a stressful afternoon (helped only by my angel, Megan, who stopped by and truly saved the day) followed by a lovely holiday party.  We all slept well that night.
   
Three shepherds and one Minnie Mouse, worshiping the baby Jesus.
CHAPTER 3
Cooper's preschool put on a darling Christmas program. The kids sang songs, recited poems, and even had a surprise visitor -- Santa!  

Cooper loved his cool shades from Miss Amy and Miss Lisa.
CHAPTER 4
The kids spent Christmas Eve morning playing Santa.  They would lay down and pretend to be asleep.  Then Cooper would say, "Sloan, wake up! It's Christmas morning.  Let's go see if Santa came."  Then they'd run into the family room and pretend to play with their imaginary toys.  This went on for nearly an hour (and yes...I have it on video!).

On Christmas Eve we took dinner over to Grandpa Oscar's house. We enjoyed a quiet meal and then prepared for the arrival of cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Cooper and Sloan adore their big kid cousins!  Sloan was in heaven sitting with Clare while Grandpa read the Christmas story from the scriptures.

Costumes, cousins, and cookies.
CHAPTER 5
The kids were so excited for Christmas that I think they wore themselves out.  Much to my surprise, they actually slept in on Christmas morning!  Around 8 AM we went into the family room to find eaten donuts (Santa called the kids and told them he wanted donuts this year...thanks for the last minute assignment, St. Nick!), an iPad video of Santa IN OUR HOUSE, and presents.  Cooper got a Ninja Turtle Super Sewer Headquarters and Sloan got a crib for her baby dolls. 

In years past, we've always spent Christmas morning at our house and have then gone to TamTam and Poppa's house for the afternoon.  But since they live out of state, they stayed at our house which meant we got to stay home all day!  In fact, Santa left presents for the kids upstairs and and downstairs.  The only catch was we couldn't go downstairs until Graham, Jared, and Cassidy came over.  

The kids were pretty pumped about their Christmas Pez.

Daddy was an excellent present un-wrapper. And Sloan got her first American Girl doll. *SPOILED*

As expected, Sloan tried on every article of clothing and every accessory she received. Outfit from TamTam and Poppa, bow from cousin Amy, and hat and gloves from Aunt June. 

Cousins who slipper together, stay together!

EPILOGUE
Dave and I were so proud of the kids this year.  While they were obviously itching to receive presents, they were also very quick to think of others.  Cooper picked out a Leap Frog toy for Sloan and could hardly wait for her to open it.  He would often say, "Mom, I'm so excited for Sloan to open up Violet.  She's going to LOVE IT!"  

We also got a random act of kindness calendar from church and Cooper loved completing each task.  We made cookies for friends, secretly took in our neighbor's trashcan, and gave money to the Salvation Army bell ringers.  We even helped Dave's team at work with a sub-for-Santa.  Cooper and Sloan were both very helpful in selecting toys and clothes for the sweet family we were lucky enough to serve.   

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