Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ben Turns 9!

After we recovered from the Valentine's Day Massacre, the next day was Ben's birthday! February 15th, 2006 at 10:55am, Baby Ben entered the world and made us parents. What a true blessing! We had a low key day planned, so he got to open up his gifts right after Church.  He loved reading the cards.
And he was super excited about this new book he had been asking for.
But then he wondered what was in the large packages...so the kids worked together to open them up!
A new air hockey table and a fooseball table!  The air hockey table required little assembly, so the kids got to playing it right away!
And then they played with the box...because there are so many things you can do with a giant box!  This time, they made it into a space ship.  The girls (in the box) are at the controls.  They even drew the buttons and steering wheel!
I loved this - now they are in space so the girls turned sideways to show how they were floating in space - ha!

Even Matthew really enjoyed the table!

He got a big kick out of the puck flying towards him!
That night I made spaghetti (at Ben's request) for dinner.  And for the first time, he did not want an elaborate themed cake.  I was slightly disappointed as I really do enjoy making them and flexing my creativity to make what they want.  But, he wanted a Texas Sheet Cake, which is a family recipe and the cake I grew up loving for my birthday, so I couldn't be too disappointed with that!
Big guy - can't believe he is 9!
This year, the Spongebob movie came out right around Ben's birthday.  So he took 9 boys (plus his cousin and sisters) to see the movie.  This is not my type of movie, but it is perfect for 9 year old boys, so it worked out well.

After the movie we walked over to Yogurtland for a treat.

Just a good shot of Abbey.
Ben is in third grade this year and it has been a big year.  For some reason, third grade feels big.  He is not a little kid anymore.  Even his teacher has stressed to them all year that they are big kids in school now.  He has learned a lot this year, questioned a lot, and grown a lot.  We have seen him mature and handle himself really well.  Of course there are still times when he doesn't handle himself well, but we have seen a lot of growth in him.  He is an amazing big brother to Matthew.  He is usually a good big brother to the girls, although he does tend to tease and annoy them - I guess that is part of being a big brother too.  He is a funny kid, fun to be around, and really smart.  He loves all sports, although he chose to do travel soccer this year so that limited his access to other sports (which he didn't like, but we can't do everything).  Part of getting older is making these types of big decisions.  He is an avid reader - can't keep new books around fast enough! Luckily, he does not mind rereading books several times and we go to the library quite often, but it is challenging finding quality books for him to read that are age appropriate!  He loves to learn and it is really enjoyable to have real conversations with him about what he is learning.  His teacher has been able to challenge him this year by having another teacher come in to work with him and a few other students as they step up and learn 4th grade math.  He is really enjoying that.  It has been a good year and we can't wait to see how things keep going for him as he enters his 10th year, which I think is another big year of growth and changes.  Fun times to come!!

On to his stats...Ben weighed in at 71 pounds and was 53 7/8 inches.  He is getting big and will surpass his mama before too long! 

Happy Birthday Buddy - we love you!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Massacre

Valentine's Day 2015...a day that will live in infamy in this house... 

The day started out great. We got to use our heart shaped pancake cutter to make a festive breakfast because we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and even more important in the case of children who only eat breakfast, like Juliette!).  The pancakes were a big hit and have become a tradition (because when else can you really use this heart shaped cutter!).

The kids came down in the morning to find a bit of candy and cards at their place at the table.  And most importantly, they got their new coupon books.  Every year, I hand make coupon books for each of the kids and the kids love them.  They include things like extra dessert, extra chapter or story at bed time, 30 minutes of playing on my phone (this one gets used quickly), special mom and me date, mom cleans my room, etc.  

I am the type of person who runs on routine and while that serves well for keeping things in order (or at least, less chaotic), I find that it causes me to say "no" a lot.  In fact, "no" has become my default answer.  These coupons give me an easy way to say "yes", even when I don't want to.  They force me to say "yes".  Just like any coupon, some restrictions do apply (homework and chores must be done).  Not only are these fun, but I like to think that they are helping the kids learn to budget (there are usually about 5 passes to each coupon...do you really want to use one of your mom cleans my room coupons when it really isn't that messy?  This is your last extra dessert coupon, do you really want to use it when we have limited dessert options in the house right now and we are going to the store tomorrow?).  Who knows if it is actually helping anything, but they did at least learn to save their mom cleaning coupons for when their rooms are really huge disasters (why did I teach them this again?).  Anyway, the coupons are always the favorite part of Valentine's Day for the kids.
Sometimes holidays are all about traditions.  My Dad has given me flowers on Valentine's Day for as long as I can remember.  He used to give my mom a dozen roses and me one rose.  Eventually the arrangements varied  but even when I went to college and left home, he has always sent me flowers and I love that tradition.  And ever since the girls have been born, he has sent them a small bouquet of flowers too, often with a teddy bear attached.  It has become a tradition that they have grown to appreciate as well.  Thank you Daddy!

Once you have kids, things like Valentine's Day change from being a couple's holiday to a family holiday.  At least it does for us as we like to celebrate things as a family.  But this year, Paul decided to try to make it more special and cook an amazing dinner for the family.  So, off he went to the store and he came home with two of these babies!
Of course he had to have a little fun with it by chasing the kids around with it, which freaked them out.
But the real surprise came when Ben had a total melt down about the prospect of killing the lobsters.  He was sobbing and begging Paul not to kill the lobsters, saying things like, "What did they ever do to you?!?" and eventually yelling at Paul that he was a murderer!  It was so unexpected and while we were trying to be sympathetic to his emotions, we were also trying hard not to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  We honestly did not know what to do.  We explained that we could not take them back to the store.  He wanted us to go set them free in Lake Arlington, but we had to explain that wouldn't work either.  Basically, we told him that as soon as lobsters are brought into the store, their fate is sealed.  If we brought them back, they would die.  If we put them in a lake, they would die.  If we left them alone, they would die.  No matter what at this point, they were going to die.  So, he asked that we please not kill them by boiling them.  We decided to say some prayers over the lobsters and lay them out in the snow.  Once they had died in the snow, Ben said we could cook them.  Friends, I can not make this stuff up...we literally had a funeral for these lobsters where we quoted the Bible saying we could eat creatures of the land and sea and then laid them to rest (with many tears) out in the snow and prayed for a peaceful passing.  Finally, Paul was able to continue with his planned course..


Of course, none of the kids would try the lobster after the whole debacle!  It was delicious, but probably not worth all the drama.  Paul titled it the 2015 Valentine's Day Massacre and it is something we will never forget, I am sure.  If that wasn't enough, in the middle of the night I woke up to a crunching sound.  That's right, Belle had fished the lobster shells out of the trash and was crunching on them in our bedroom.  The next morning, the kids found lobster shell pieces all over the house, which is really what we needed, a reminder of the drama from the night before.  People ask me all the time what it is like to have four kids...this is a perfect example!  Life is unexpected and crazy and chaotic and funny and loving.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Other January Happenings...

It is cold up here in the winter, so we do a lot of hanging around the house and playing with each other. These are great times for Matthew, who loves the attention he gets from his siblings!
And Matthew dreams of summer while playing with the ice cream maker and smoothie cup that he pulled out of the cabinet!
Juliette and Matthew playing.

Ben is reading to Matthew.
For Christmas this year we got the kids tickets to see Frozen on Ice, so the day finally came and the girls got dressed in these cute outfits (that we gave them with the tickets) to show their love of Princess Elsa and Anna.

Matthew really enjoyed it.
They got an icee in cool take home mugs.
Ben even got an Olaf one (and check out his blue lips!).
Matthew liked it!
We had pretty good seats.  By the way, Abbey decided that her Elsa outfit was itchy so she changed before we actually left the house :(

The show was very well done and everyone had a good time!
At the end of January was Catholic Schools Week, which has a fun variety of activities during the week, but ends with Mass on Friday.  This year, my family was one of the families selected to participate in Mass.  So, Ben and Abbey both did prayers of the faithful.

And while Ben and Abbey read, Juliette brought up a symbol to the front of the Church.
And that afternoon they had the variety show, which we went to see.  Ben sang the song, "Happy" with the choir.
And then he participated in this "Belly Whistler" Act of all third grade boys.  He's in the middle with the orange tie.
And the first grade girls performed a song/dance to "It's A Hard Knock Life" which was super cute.  Thanks to the moms who organized these acts as the kids had so much fun participating in the show!
Ben finished up his indoor soccer season, which was a lot of fun to watch.
And we got hit with more snow.  I love this picture of Matthew and Belle looking out the window at Paul!

So the kids got all bundled up and ready to go out and play in the snow.

While Daddy cleared our walk way and drive way.

So much fun!

That was a lot of snow!

And Paul took the girls to a Daddy/Daughter dance that they really enjoyed.
So sweet!