Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Jeff and Jane were here visiting this weekend, and they helped us celebrate Ben's birthday on Sunday.  They watched the kids in the evening while Ben and I went out for a really nice steak dinner.  Thanks, Jeff and Jane, that was so kind of you to do!  We had a fantastic time!

But, of course, the girls did not want to miss out on birthday cake, so I made a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and caramel sauce, and we sang happy birthday and ate cake after lunchtime.  Even Nathaniel got to have a few little pieces of cake - he made quite a face after the first bite, but he scarfed down the rest, so I think he must have liked it!

Here are birthday photos from the last few years, for a fun comparison.  Hmmm, looks like I have them sitting on the wrong sides of Ben's lap this year.

I asked the girls a few questions about Ben this morning, and here's what they had to say about him:

1. What makes Daddy happy? 
Amelia:  Being with me and Megan and Mommy and Nathaniel
Megan: Playing wii

2. What makes Daddy sad? 
Amelia and Megan: Crying

3. How does Daddy make you laugh?
Amelia: By doing silly things like teasing us
Megan: He teases us and does tricks

4. How old is Daddy? 
Megan: 29
Amelia: 36

5. How tall is Daddy?  
 Megan: Really tall
Amelia: I would say he's, like, six feet tall

6. What does Daddy do when you're not around? 
Amelia: He goes to work!
Megan: He goes to the bathroom

7. What is Daddy really good at? 
Amelia: Making cream cheese
Megan: Playing wii and jumping and running and walking and riding his bike
Amelia: And he's really good at going to the bathroom!  Giggle giggle giggle 

8. What is Daddy not really good at? 
Megan: Reading the numbers on the clock
Amelia: I don't think he's really good at long meetings
Megan: And ballet!  He doesn't even know how to do ballet!

9. What is Daddy's favorite food? 
Amelia:  Bratwurst...
Megan:  ...and corn on the cob

10. What do you and Daddy do together?  
Amelia:  Eat cake
Megan:  Play wii and fall down

11:  How are you and Daddy the same?  
Megan: We both wear pants
Amelia:  If Daddy's hair was long, he would have curls like me.  I think Daddy should grow his hair long so he could have curls.

12. How are you and Daddy different? 
Amelia: He has brown hair and I have blond.
Megan:  He has more teeth than me.
Amelia: We both have different color eyes.  And he doesn't do ballet.  And we don't like the same colors.
Megan: And I don't have a computer and he does.

13. What is Daddy's name?  
Megan: Daddy
Amelia: Benjamin

14. How do you know Daddy loves you? 
Megan: Because he always hugs us
Amelia: Because he likes to give us hugs and kisses

15. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? 
Amelia: Benvenuto's Italian Restaurant
Megan: Liliana's Cajun Restaurant

16. What is Daddy's favorite color?  
Megan and Amelia: Green

17. What does Daddy do at work?
Megan: Make cream cheese...
Amelia: ...and have long meetings

18. If Daddy were in a movie that you liked, who would he be?
Megan: Prince Eric (from the Little Mermaid)
Amelia: Olaf

19.  What does Daddy like most about Mommy?
Amelia: That you have a really cute baby.  The cutest one in the whole world.
Megan: That you love him.

20. Do you want to be just like Daddy when you're 35 years old?
Megan: Yes.
Amelia: No, because I want to have babies.  And I would like to be a teacher.

21.  What present should we give Daddy for his birthday?
Amelia: A picture frame with a picture of us in it.
Megan: A sock monkey.

22.  What is Daddy made of?
Amelia: Pickles!
Megan: Blood and bones.

23. Who is Daddy's best friend?
Amelia:  What's that girl's name?  The one that we stayed in her house when we were going to Colorado?  Christi?  Yes, her.
Megan: Aunt Anna

24. What did Daddy like to do when he was the same age as you?
Amelia: Go to school and play on the computer.
Megan: Watch movies.

25. If Daddy could go anywhere on vacation, where would he go?
Amelia: Florida
Megan: Illinois

26. What do you want Daddy to get you for Christmas?
Amelia:  My own car!
Megan: A blanket.  And a new baby.

27.  What does Daddy look like?
Megan: Like Daddy!
Amelia: Like Mr. Potato Head

28. Which of Daddy's clothes do you like best?
Megan: Ummm, the black shirt that he goes to work with
Amelia: I like his "Real Men Use Duct Tape" shirt

29.  If Daddy was going to take you out on a special date, where would you want to go?
Megan: Costco
Amelia: McDonald's

30. What is Daddy's favorite book to read to you?
Amelia:  The Cat in the Hat
Megan: The Berenstain Bears

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Ok, this is a random post, but I discovered a new free app, and the girls and I have been having a lot of fun with it lately.  It takes photos and turns them into a kaleidoscope.  The girls and I have turned it into a game; one of us will take a few photos, and the others have to guess what the photos are of.  Can you guess the subjects of any of these photos?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Little Amerricka

It has always driven me nuts that this place is spelled Amerricka, but Ben figured out why during our trip there.  Apparently the guy who used to own the property was named Merrick.  So, now I understand.  Anyway, it's a little amusement park designed mostly for little kids.  Amelia was at the perfect height to do almost everything, as long as Ben rode along with her.  We chose to buy her the same wristband as Megan, though, since we thought she would be too timid to try some of the bigger rides.  And we were completely right....

The girls saw the carousel first thing, and rode it a couple of times.  They always love carousels.

Then we convinced them to go on the ferris wheel; they were pretty nervous the first time, but they quickly realized that it was fun.  

They were also nervous about trying the tilt-a-whirl, too, but as soon as it started spinning around, they laughed and laughed.  When they came off it, they told me that they loved it!  It's a good thing Ben doesn't get dizzy very easily because they went on the tilt-a-whirl twice.

Little Amerricka has a section of little kid rides, too, where the girls could ride all by themselves.  They liked pretending to drive the boats, planes and fire trucks, and they had to go on some of them twice so that they could each have a turn sitting in the front.

We convinced them to try a teeny tiny roller coaster, and they did NOT like it at all.  To be fair, it was very jerky, Ben didn't like it either.  But after that, we couldn't convince them to go on the bigger roller coaster.  You can see their scared faces here:

They rode around the park on a monorail.

And they rode the train into the countryside.  Nathaniel and I got some popcorn and sat in the shade for a while during their 20 minute train ride.

Then they tried out the bumper boats, but the boats had squirty guns on the front, and so they got pretty wet.  Megan didn't like that at all and started crying so much that Ben had to return to the front so the guys in charge could get her off the boat.  She and I sat and watched the rest of the time.

It was a good experience for the girls to try a few things that scared them and realize that the rides were actually quite fun.  Megan has been asking if we can go back to the ride place again, but I told her we'd have to wait until next summer. 

Nathaniel was, once again, a very happy baby.  He didn't get to ride on anything, but he enjoyed getting carried around, and I think he liked to watch everything that was going on.  There was a lot to see.

I love that shirt of Noah's!  I am so thankful to have lots of cute hand-me-downs!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nathaniel is nine months old!

Don't you love babies in overalls?

 If I had to summarize Nathaniel's ninth month in one word, it would be sleeplessness.  He has been going through a stage of waking up 2 to 4 times a night almost every night for the past few weeks.  About a week ago, he started waking up only once at night, and I was thrilled, but the last two nights he's regressed to waking up a couple times.  It is amazing how much more refreshed I feel when he only gets up once at night.  But sleep aside, Nathaniel has been a delightful baby this month.  He still loves to eat baby food, although he wasn't thrilled when I introduced the textured chicken noodle dinner.  He chows down on Cheerios and is starting to use his pointer finger and thumb in the pincer grasp to pick them up.  I've given him little bites of other foods, like hamburger and corn bread, and he has loved all of those, too.  Today for dinner he had watermelon, cornbread and squash, and he made a BIG mess, but I think he really enjoyed getting to eat so much finger food.

He was not a fan of plain yogurt, however.

I've tried giving Nathaniel a sippy cup with apple juice, and he is certainly interested in it, but he seems to want to just chew on the spout rather than actually drink the juice.

 Nathaniel is working on learning to crawl, but he hasn't quite figured it out yet.  He gets up on his knees, then tries to push with his feet and flops onto his tummy.  But he's figured out how to move across the room anyway, with a combination of rolling and scooting on his head.

He is starting to be interested in standing up.  Today I helped him stand up at the end of Ben's recliner, and he crept along the edge of it and tried to play with Ben's toes.

He loves to shake his head, and will continue to shake it when he sees people smiling back at him.  We like to ask him questions like "Do you want to take a nap?" and then laugh when he shakes his head no.

This next photo is specifically for Ben's Grandma Marion, who doesn't believe that Nathaniel knows how to cry.  He doesn't cry often, but he certainly knows how!

 Nathaniel has been dragged around to all kinds of places this month and copes pretty well with having his nap schedule completely disrupted.  He is generally easy going and will take little cat naps in the car seat or when I'm carrying him.  He would rather be carried in the Bjorn or the Moby than sit in the stroller. 

We took him to the splash pad earlier this week, and he wasn't thrilled with the cold water splashing on him, but he didn't fuss at all.  He seemed to prefer just playing with a bucket of water on the ground.

I've started playing around with taking my camera off auto mode, and I've found that Nathaniel is the best subject.  He mostly holds still and he always gives me beautiful smiles.  The only problem is that he tries to eat the grass.  :)

I also am trying out different angles.  I kind of like the slanty bottom one, but I couldn't tell you exactly why.  Other than the fact that the baby is precious!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Classes

The girls had the chance to do all kinds of fun things this summer, including a few different classes. Most of them went very well.  Megan tried out a six week long ballet class at Dancing Through Life and she really liked it.  She was mostly a good listener, and she tried hard to follow the teacher's instructions.  When the teacher said to scissor jump (echappe) across the floor, Megan took pride in jumping as vigorously as possible.

Both girls took tumbling through the parks and rec department.  They mostly did different obstacle courses, which they enjoyed.  Amelia learned how to do a backward roll, and Megan excelled at the balance beam.  Megan has a very good sense of balance and was adventurous enough to try hopping on the high beam and doing big kicks over the obstacles.

 Megan loved to do flips on the bar, but while she could get upside down by walking her feet up the wall, she needed the instructor's help to finish the flip.

Amelia was able to do this flip all by herself.

Both of them also took swimming lessons, which did not go particularly well.  The girls claimed to like swimming lessons, but neither one made any progress.  They are both still scared of putting their heads under water.   And Amelia is afraid of not being able to touch the bottom of the pool - when the teacher told them to float or swim, she would hop along the pool with one foot still touching the bottom.  The teacher let her get away with it, so I think we are done with parks and rec swimming lessons and will have to start lessons somewhere more serious this fall.  This not very good picture shows Megan splashing when she is supposed to be listening to her teacher.

Our occasional high school babysitter held a dance camp for all her little girls.  Both Amelia and Megan attended, but poor Megan had a terrible cough the first day and missed out on participating in the dancing.  She was better the second day, but then she had a bit of an attitude problem.  They both really enjoyed getting to try tap dancing, but Megan thought the noise of the tap shoes was too loud.  The little recital they put on at the end was so cute!

Amelia spent most of her time watching our babysitter, Rachel, to see what she was supposed to be doing.  But cute little sister watched Amelia instead, and tried to copy her!

We spent every morning last week at VBS, where I led Amelia's class to all the different stations.  The theme was the Sea of Galilee, so we all have the theme song "Gangway to Galilee" stuck in our heads now.  Both Amelia and Megan said that their favorite part of VBS was snack time, but that after that, they liked the science.  We made a tornado in a jar one day, and each kid got to bring one home.  Our jars are still on the kitchen table, and we swirl them to make tornados every time we sit at the table.  They also did a colored water/paper towel/capillary action experiment and a colored water/bleach/baking soda experiment to show how God wipes away our sins.  I thought the Bible storytelling time was very nicely done.  After telling the story, the leader (who was a teacher) helped all the kids act it out.  The first day, Amelia was a fisherman casting out her net and waiting for Jesus to call her to be a disciple.

On the last day, she got to act as Jesus, and she told the fisherman to throw their nets out so they would catch fish.

 During outside time, we played with water balloons and got a little wet.  One of the mornings it was in the 50s, so we had to stay inside and play a funny game where the games leader was captain of a ship and bossed us all around.

Everyone's favorite art project was the scratchy fish, which Amelia is working on next to her friend Sophia.

Nathaniel was supposed to be in the nursery every day, but he's going through a stranger anxiety phase, so he spent most of the time with me in the Moby wrap.  The kids in my group all loved him, and enjoyed getting to touch him and give him toys.

Megan said she had a nice time at VBS also, and I promised her that next year I would be in charge of her class.  Her leader said she was very well behaved.  So I guess it's good that her behavior issues only show up for me.