Saturday, May 14, 2016

Warm Winter

We had such a warm winter - I really enjoyed it! After the snow we enjoyed for Ben's birthday, it quickly melted (YAY!) and we were back to warmer temps within a few days. So we took advantage of the warmer weather and got out our bikes.  We put together Matthew's new tricycle that Madgie and Patch got him for his birthday.  Juliette showed him how to use it.

Then Matthew decided to try his hand at golf!
And in big exciting news....Juliette learned how to ride her bike!  She told me that after 2 seasons of playing basketball, she was probably strong enough to do it now.  She did awesome and took off pedaling down the street.  She was having trouble keeping going because she kept veering off into the grass, so I let her go on the street to get the feel without worrying about running into the grass and that helped immensely.  She just took off down the street!  After a few tries on the street, she was able to take it back to the sidewalk and do it well.  She just needed that practice on a wider pavement.  There is something so exciting about watching the kids learn to ride their bikes for the first time!

Matthew isn't quite big enough to pedal yet, but he really enjoyed Daddy pushing him on his new bike!

What a great day February!!!  And I took the kids in for their 6 month dentist check up.  I went back to talk to the dentist with Juliette really quickly and came out to find this adorable scene - Matthew and Abbey sitting so nicely in the waiting area reading books!  I had to snap a quick picture.

Ben's Birthday

February 15th was crossed a milestone....we now have a child that is double digits!!! That's right, Ben turned 10 years old and I can hardly believe it. Didn't we just become parents to him? This year, Ben's birthday fell on President's Day, so the kids were off from school. We started the day with breakfast and opening a few presents.  Ben was pretty excited about his new magnetic dart board!
The whole week leading up to his birthday, Ben kept telling me that all he really wanted to do on his birthday was to go sledding with two of his best friends.  I kept telling him that the temps were unseasonably warm this winter and we hadn't had snow barely at all this winter, so that likely wouldn't happen.  Well, behold a birthday miracle.  It snowed the entire day and night before his birthday!  AND, his two buddies were free to go sledding with him!  So, Paul took the kids over to the big sledding hill while Matthew napped (as you know, I do NOT like the cold and snow, so I happily stayed home while he napped, as long as Paul took pictures of all the fun I was missing in the nice warm house!).
The girls had so much fun too.

Pure joy.

After spending almost 2 hours on the sledding hill, Paul brought them home (after a quick stop for hot chocolate) and we had spaghetti for dinner and then Texas sheet cake at Ben's request.  
I kept asking him if he wanted me to decorate the cake at all, but he didn't.  So I wrote on it in red gel and he asked for all pieces of cake without the red gel!  So we got some really cool glowing candles to make it extra special.  You can't really tell from this picture, but the candles glowed in different colors.
Still hard to see in this picture, but the candles are glowing in colors.
It was a really fun day for him.
You can tell he was happy!
The next weekend we had Ben's birthday party with his friends.  This time, I looked for ways to decorate the cake without using other types of icing.  He was having a sports party, so little candy footballs and soccer ball candles is what we went with for the cake.
We rented out one of the park district gyms and had about 15 of his friends to play a few sports for a few hours.  Uncle Brandon helped Matthew get in on the basketball fun too!
Thankfully Paul joined in to referee the games because it was very competitive - I can now see what recess is like and why they tend to have some issues during recess!
I was proud of Abbey for getting right in there and playing with the boys too.
The girls that were working the party brought out a Matthew sized basketball net for him to play with.  He still wanted Uncle Brandon's help though!
They played football, soccer and then floor hockey.  The kids had a blast!
Then it was time for cake!

I love how Matthew joins in everything the big kids are doing.  He is not intimidated at all - he just watches, figures that is what he is supposed to do too, and goes for it!  Big boy joining the group for cake!

This picture sort of shows how crazy the party was - the boys look riled up and this was the calmest we could get them to try to get a picture!  It was a lot of fun for them (and I think the parents all appreciated picking them up after they had run around hard for 2 hours!).
Then we went home and opened presents.
I just can't believe Ben is 10!  He has grown so much this year and is maturing so quickly.  He has had a great year and we are so proud of him.  We took him in to the doctor and discovered that he is 56.5 inches and 82 pounds (that puts him only 3.5 inches shorter than me!).  He was consistent in his percentages at 78% for both height and weight.  It won't be long before he catches me!  We love you buddy - welcome to double digits!  We can't wait to see what is in store next for you!

Valentine's Day Festivities

February brought two exciting events....Valentine's Day and Ben's birthday.  Let's start with Valentine's Day.  That weekend, there was a Daddy-Daughter dance that Paul brought the girls to and they had a great time dancing and having fun.  The girls got all dressed up and looked beautiful!

 Looking good!
 This is the promised crazy picture after the nice picture - even Matthew got into this one! It actually turned out cute.
While Daddy took the girls out, I stayed home with the boys.  After Matthew went to bed early, Ben and I had our own date.  We made pizza from scratch, which was a pretty funny experience with the dough.  Ben enjoyed watching it cook too. 
Here is our final product - we decided it looked like the United States.  We divided it up with pepperoni on Ben's side (he picked the southern states) and tomato and goat cheese went to the Yankee states :)  It was really tasty so Ben wrote down everything we did and added it to my recipe book, titled, "Pizza by Mom and Ben - Homemade and Finger-Licking Good".
Valentine's Day brought the tradition of flowers being delivered to the girls in the house by Patch - thank you!  The girls are loving this tradition!
And the kids were all excited to find a few goodies on the table for them in the morning.  Their favorite part was actually the coupon books I made for them.  This has become a tradition, but I try to change it up a little each year.  This year's coupons included an extra dessert coupon, Mom or Dad does my chores for the day coupon, 30 minutes of screen time and you get to pick dinner for the next night (which is Juliette's favorite coupon as she is picky about dinner).  Those were a few of the favorites this year.  
 Daddy then made us heart shaped pancakes for breakfast - plain and chocolate chip!
The rest of the day was spent at Ben's Valentine's Day soccer tournament, but it was well spent as they came in second in their division! 
 Trophies earned are so much more meaningful!
 After our Valentine's Day Massacre dinner last year (remember our lobster story?), we went safe this year and made a heart shaped meatloaf, which everybody likes.  It was a nice dinner to top off a nice day!
Paul and I even managed to get out for a date right around Valentine's Day.  We went to one of the wine and painting places and had a great time.  We worked on the Chicago skyline together - it was really fun!

 Paul's painting is on the left and mine is on the right, but they ended up looking really good together!
 Our finished product!  It was a very fun evening!
 Happy Valentine's Day!!