Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lake House Activity

Last weekend our branch had an activity at our High Councilman's house. He lives in a beautiful house right next to the bottom of Seneca Lake. The view of the lake from their living room window was just stunning and then the stairs leading right down to the water...just so beautiful. 

It didn't take us long to hop on the boat and go out for a little cruise. Shae loved it. Belén got through it.

 Some of our friends taking off after us.

 Shae has become so brave with water. He just jumped right in this lake water off the deck with no fears in the world. My mama heart felt that itty bitty bit of fear for him when I watched him jump in though--what if his floatie fails and he drowns!? I mean, I was right there in the water when he jumped in, but you know me, always fearing the worst in life.

 This is her, "I want to get in the water but my parents won't let me get in without a floatie on and I don't want to wear a floatie" face. Life is hard as a 2 year old.
 Our friends watched the kids for a little bit so that Darin and I could go out on the tube together. It was so fun, and we never flew off! I think Brother Snedekor took it easy on us--although my arms were pretty sore from holding on so tight afterward. Should not have gone out so soon after eating lunch though...not my smartest move. Is it possible to have a blast and feel like you are going to be sick at the same time? 

After we got back Shae and I went out. It was so fun to be out there with him! He was smiling and giggling and at one point yelled out over the waves, "I love you mom!" It was pretty sweet.
 After 2 hours of yelling, "No! No Mickey!" (the Mickey floatie that is), I was shocked when she finally let us put it on her and lower her into the water. She is so timid in the water, but it was nice to swim around with her and watch her face change from smiles to terror within seconds (if you let go of her for a second--even with the floatie--she freaks).
The boys going out for one last trip around the lake before we took off.

Already can't wait to do this activity again next year!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Splash Pad--Seneca Lake Style

We took a little journey up to Seneca Lake State Park a couple Saturday's ago with the Halls (minus Evan who was studying his life away in prep to take the bar). 

We were hoping that along with playing on the amazing playground and splash pad that we could swim in the lake as well, but it was a no go. I mean, we could have, but the water was just so gross. It was extremely full of seaweed and smelled like dead fish. It was pretty disappointing. The kids didn't mind as they could have played at the splash pad and playground ALL day long.
 These two kids are just the biggest frenemies. So happy and cheerful, imagining together one second and then marching off in separate directions saying, "I need alone time" the next. I sure will miss watching this sweet friendship unfold.

 That first rule though. 
 It was so fun to spend the entire day with these sweet friends of ours. We sure did make an effort to hang out as much as possible before they left us (which happened last week. Insert all the sad face emojis in the world). Love these people so much, with an extra special affinity for this one...

 This girl's smile is contagious. She is the cutest. She also started calling me "mommy" last week which I thought was just the sweetest. 

We ended up leaving during the late afternoon and headed over to Sampson State Park where we swam. There was still a good bit of seaweed over there, but it was much more maintained and did not smell like the other area did. It was a really beautiful state park and I just soaked it in and took absolutely no pictures...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fourth of July

The Saturday before the fourth we went to one of our local farms to pick raspberries. It rained on and off and the raspberries were picked over, but we still found a good bunch and enjoyed playing.

 Ithaca does their fireworks on the 3rd (not sure why, but I really loved starting off the holiday with the fireworks rather than ending it with them--staying up late the night before you have the day off just makes so much more sense to me). 

We parked at the Farmer's Market and walked over to Stewart Park where we played for awhile and then stood in line at an ice cream stand for way too long to find out that all the ice cream was gone. We got the kids some mediocre ice pops instead and life went on.

While waiting for the sun to set and the fireworks to start we played "emotion selfie." Belén’s faces in these first two where we were just trying to get a good Fourth of July picture are epic.

 Her silly face was also pretty killer.

 This one is of our courageous faces...maybe a little harder to tell than the others...
 Found some friends while we were there.
 Belén’s face during the entire firework show:
 Shae didn't love how loud they were and Belén has told us at least once a day for the past two weeks "Fya wowks wowd" (fireworks loud). 
 Crashed as soon as we got in the car. It was a long evening but I'm so glad we stayed up to do it. Good quality family time right there.
 On the morning of the fourth we made Red, White, and Blue pancakes (we put raspberries, bananas, and blueberries in them :). 
 The kids earned their money the day before the fourth so we thought it would be a good day to go see it since Darin would be home. Oh man, the excitement leading up to the movie! We were all stoked. 

The movie was a little slow for me, but the end was amazing and I loved the overall message of it. Really, you just can't go wrong with Mater and Lightning. Belén now refers to herself as the "Yellow Car" (Cruz Ramirez, aka the new kick butt female car). 

After naps we went to our friend's for a fun BBQ. They are amazing and had so many fun games planned, including kickball, water balloon throwing, and a piñata.

It was such a fun day to spend with family and friends and celebrate our country!

And after keeping our kids up so late two nights in a row, we definitely paid for it on the 5th! Poor guys--cranky and tired, but we took it easy that day and I still think it was all worth it. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

June Randoms

Helped my parents clean out the mud room. Convinced them to let us rip up the carpet too (not that it took much convincing, Mom was on board from the start). It needed to be done. 

 After our zoo trip last month, my parents took the kids home while I went to Dulles to get Darin. They went through the McDonald's drive through for dinner and Shae got this mini beanie baby in his happy meal (Bongo--he would want you to know). He fell in love with it and I just loved walking in to see him sleeping with it on his neck one night. Belén got a "wolfie" named Timber--let it be known. (They are super in to beanie babies lately--the two that they have other than these ones--and it's bringing back all my childhood memories of LOVING beanie babies. They were my life for a period there, before baseball. Wish I still had them to pull out for the kids!)
 Belén and I went on a walk at Stewart Park one morning while Shae was at Joy School. It just so happened to be Free Carousal day, so we made sure to jump on before leaving. She actually didn't love the horse and started clinging to me about 10 seconds in. Thankfully, there was a little carriage seat right behind us that I fell in to with her and we enjoyed the rest of the ride from there.
 It was such a beautiful day, so we packed up a picnic dinner, picked up daddy and headed back to the park for the evening to play and ride the carousal over and over again.

 After the Dryden library cow themed story time (it was Dairy Days weekend which is a pretty big deal out there). We are so in love with this little library. The librarians are just the sweetest and do THE best story times. 
 Library days are the best days for so many reasons. My favorite being when we get home and pull out all the books and the kids sit and look at the pictures for quite awhile before we stack them all up and read through them together while eating lunch. There's just something so special about reading a new book that none of us has ever read before, together, and then talking about it, or laughing through it, or reading it again immediately. And getting old ones that we have loved and remembering them together. Reading picture books is my favorite favorite FAVORITE part of my day job right now. 
 This kid can SWEAT. Check out that sweaty head...after doing a puzzle!

 I started doing some ESL volunteer work last month. Currently I am doing one on one tutoring with a super sweet girl (Thao) from Vietnam. She is just the best. She crocheted this adorable flower headband for Belén and she loves it so much. She puts it on just about daily saying, "Me, flower." 

 We watched our dear friend's kids while they took a few days to head up to Maine on a little get-away. I braved a little walk with all 4 kids one day, just to the pond down the road a bit from our house. I got some great looks from people, walking with 2 small kids in the double stroller and two more small ones walking next to me. We were having a great time throwing rocks in to the pond when sweet Franny just books it right in and falls flat on her face. Of course the one day there were people sitting out on the bench right next to us...I must have looked crazy. Needless to say, we went straight back home and locked ourselves inside for the rest of the day.

 My parents stayed with us for two nights during this period as well on their way back from a Canada trip. Our house was packed, but I'm so grateful they were there. With two vehicles and extra hands and eyes it made it possible for us to actually get out and have some fun. We went to Taughannock (will I ever be able to spell that without looking it up first?) one day and enjoyed the playground and beach there.
 This girl was just so snuggly with me and I loved it so much.

Shae and Eppie doing the best quiet time of their lives together while the little girls napped. I didn't expect this to actually happen, but when I told them it was quiet time, they just curled right up on the blanket beds I had made for them and listened quietly to audiobooks. Over time Shae played with some toys quietly and Eppie just watched while I worked in the hall way (since the rooms were occupied with sleeping babies). It was a quiet time miracle.
 The kids first sleepover. Aka: The best night ever.
 Started playing on a co-ed city softball team which has been so fun, but has also made me realize that I am just not as young as I once was. One thing that does not change with age, how badly a sliding abrasion tear up on the leg hurts. So bad.

The Saturday we were watching our friend's kids there was a tournament that I got to participate in. I was gone in Cortland most of the afternoon/evening and it was just so refreshing to be outside playing ball, meeting knew people and letting Darin watch all 4 kids for the day :) (Thank you love!)
 So completely in love with this sweet and sassy little two year old. She's just so much fun these days.
 I felt SO bad taking her away from this tea party she was having at the library with three other girls she met there. They were so nice to her and included her in everything. She seemed so grown up! It was just so girly and totally adorable to watch (with the barbie and fairy books all over the table). It amazes me (and slightly frightens me) how easily she picks up on things that she sees other girls do. 
 Raspberry picking at Indian Creek Farm with our friends Lydia and Everett. Shae was actually really excited about it, despite his face in this picture.

Darin found a place to rent a cello and has been trying his hand at it to see how much he remembers/reteach himself. 
 We started a little chore system for the kids for us to earn money to go see Cars 3. We had a gift card that we wanted to use to go see it, but we didn't want to just go see it, and felt like it was a good opportunity to teach the kids a lesson about work. I know there are a lot of feelings out there about chores/money for kids and we still haven't figured out a normal routine yet that works for our family (which I'm totally okay with at this point since they're still so young), but this was a good "testing the waters" experience for us and the kids loved it.

Shae had 3 things that he had to do each day to earn a quarter to put in his Cars 3 money jar. 1. Read a book to mom or dad (simple super easy beginning readers) 2. Practice math with dad 3. Do a special chore (not just the everyday pick up toys, put your clothes in the hamper kind of chores. We wrote down a bunch on popcicle sticks and they got to pick one per day. Ex: wiping down all the door knobs/light switches, mopping, cleaning the toilet, dusting a bookshelf, etc.) We tried really hard to make this a choice for Shae. If he didn't do one of the things, he just didn't get his quarter that day and that was okay. However, he only missed like one day. He was actually really stoked about doing his 3 things each day--especially the chore! While mopping he said, "Mom! This is so fun!" Somebody please tell me this excitement about chores lasts forever. Please?! Somebody?!

I'm excited to do some more reading about this topic to establish a system that works for us. I've never really found myself to be a believer in paying kids to do chores. That should just be expected of them as part of the family, right? But then I also don't really believe in just giving them money (or big treats like a movie theater movie) without some sort of work involved (unless it's a gift I guess). And I do really believe in teaching kids/teenagers how to use and manage money when they're young...ahhhh! This has been on my mind so much lately. Give me all the tips people! But like I said, our kids are still young so I won't stress too much about this much yet. But I will say that this first experiment went very well. Shae really enjoyed doing everything and it was impressive to see how well he got with his math flashcards and reading while being so consistent with it.

I win the worst Watermelon Picker ever award. Give it to me. This was just so sad.
The Halls introduced us to Circus Truck, which was SO GOOD! Can't wait to go back.
 It was pretty rainy while we were there, and while there was a little tent to eat under, the kids had a blast playing in the warm summer rain.