Saturday, May 10, 2014

The House That Grandma and Grandad Built

I didn't think it was possible, but now Grandma's house is even better.  My parents have a great backyard full of lush green grass that the kids love to play in.  It has a fence all the way around, which makes it perfect for young kids.

Over the course of the past couple weeks, my parents had been "fixing up" the old cedar play structure that was in their backyard when they moved into the house.  After a week of withdrawal from playing at Grandma's house, we went over one Sunday afternoon.  This is what we found:

Grandma and Grandad bought an entirely new play structure and had spent a solid week constructing it.  It is complete with a climbing wall, ladder, slide, swings and a clock.  The kids squealed with delight when they saw it and have been loving it ever since.  When we were there a few days ago after stopping by for lunch, before we left, Miles said he wanted to go play in the "house that Grandma and Grandad built".  Well, who can say no to that?  And so we stayed and played for nearly 2 more hours.

Thanks for being such amazing, loving grandparents, Mom and Dad!

Friday, May 9, 2014

First Swimming Lessons

Miles and Vivienne just wrapped up their first official swimming lessons at the local Y.  The loved it.  There was only one other child in their class besides them.   Well, there were 2 other kids, but one of the other kids did not enjoy lessons so he was only there for a few seconds.  Their teacher, Julianne, was great, and the kids looked forward to their lessons each day (twice a week in the evenings).

They did all the standard stuff, swimming with flotation devices, floating on their backs, blowing bubbles under the water, dunking their heads, etc.  They don't exactly swim like fish yet, but they definitely enjoy being in the water.

And someone was ready for her pre-lesson close-up.  (I did not encourage her to pose.)

She clearly gets this from her father.  *cue crickets*

At the last lesson, they got to ride this boat contraption.  We have no idea what this has to do with swimming, but the kids thought it was fun.

On a related note, Evelyn took a "First Strokes" kind of lesson with me.  She was very, very timid in the big pool.  We have had her in the toddler pool a couple times this year, but she seemed terrified of getting in the big pool with me.  She had a death grip on me and it took nearly 30 minutes to get her to relax in the pool with me holding her.  Something tells me that she'll warm up to it quickly once our neighborhood pool opens, but this surprised me because Miles and Vivienne never had any nerves around the water (at least that I can recall).

There are rumors that our subdivision pool will open this weekend.  Keeping my fingers crossed that that is true.  We will have some happy kids on our hands if that is the case!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cupcake Lady

Over the past couple of years, I have developed a love for cooking and baking.  I have also slowly started to purchase more specialized tools that make cooking more efficient and more fun (like a micro grater… freshly grated ginger has changed my life), and I have become more adventurous in the types of recipes that I prepare.  I still have my standard staples (because 3-year-olds and 1-year-olds are not the most adventurous eaters), but it is fun to try something new every once in a while.

I have also taught myself to pipe icing and I love it.  I started making cupcakes for friends' baby showers and children's birthday parties.  A few months ago, our church asked me to bake for our baby dedication.  This is an event that happens a couple times a year where they dedicate 10-15 babies at the same time.  For this event, they needed over 200 cupcakes.  That's a lot of butter… and flour… and eggs.  Our refrigerator was out of control.

My parents watched the kids so that I could spend one entire day baking.  I spent the next entire day icing the cupcakes, and I think they turned out beautifully.

I learned a lot doing this.  Make the pastry cream first thing… not just before you need to leave.  Because you might forget to add vanilla to it and then realize that you don't have enough time for it to firm up in the fridge before piping.  Hypothetically speaking, of course.

This was my first paid baking gig, and it was a blast.  I realized that the reason that I like making cupcakes for people is that they are always eaten around some joyous event… a birthday, a baby dedication, a holiday, a family gathering.  For the baby dedication, I prayed for all the babies as I was icing the cupcakes.  This past week, I made cupcakes for a friend's son's birthday (miracle Will) and I reflected on his story and the miracle of his life while I iced his blue and green M&M cupcakes.

Maybe someday I'll open a Foxy cupcake shoppe.  Each cupcake comes with a free prayer.  You never know.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hold My Hand

Vivienne rarely sleeps during the day without me lying down with her.  I'm not going to lie… this is often frustrating because I want to get things done during their nap time.  But I'm trying to remember to soak up these moments when she falls asleep with her tiny hand in mine.  And I'm trying to relish that she finds peace and comfort in my touch.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter this year was a blast.  Miles and Vivienne are old enough to learn that it's a day when we're thankful for Jesus.  And they are definitely old enough to know that hunting for eggs is awesome.  I was surprised when they said that they remembered the egg hunt last year in Grandma's back yard.  Well, this year certainly included an egg hunt or two as well.

On Saturday morning, we went to our neighbor, Marie's, house for an egg hunt and potluck lunch.  The weather was pretty dreary, so we did the hunt in her living room.  Regardless, all the kids had a blast and enjoyed diving into their goodies.

We attended the service at our church on Saturday night and then grabbed a quick dinner at Chick-fil-a before heading to the Y for their egg hunt.  Because of the rain, they did the hunt indoors.  The kids loved it.  There were eggs everywhere.  They divided the kids into ages, so Evelyn hunted with kids under 2.  Then Miles and Vivienne hunted with kids 4 and under.  It was a blast.  The kids got so many eggs that we started opening their eggs just to make room in their baskets for more.

Miles and Evelyn both found some "prize eggs", so we got to bring home some pretty big gift baskets in addition to all the stickers and candy and other goodies in their eggs.

Evelyn was not shy about diving into her spoils.

Because we went to church on Saturday, Easter morning was free for brunch at Grandma's house.  Our friend, Jessica, came to join us (and brought some adorable treats for the kids), and we all shared baked french toast and ham and frittatas… fruit and lemon poppyseed bread… just tons of amazing food.

After that, we noticed that the Easter bunny had left eggs throughout Grandma's beautiful backyard.  And so the hunt was on again!

It was just a wonderful day to celebrate Jesus and enjoy our family and friends.  As always, there is so much to be thankful for.

And we're thankful for chocolate, of course.