Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Road Trip: Part I

During Jaden and Cody's first year of life, we took 4 major family vacations. On 3 of those 4 trips, we ended up calling our pediatrician about some important health issue, and during all 4, our boys had pretty rotten sleep habits. Hmm... we began to wonder if perhaps family "vacations" should only include trips to the grocery store or to the neighborhood park.

Since our entire family lives spread out all over the country, however, and since we always have such wonderful memories with our family members, we knew the boys would just have to learn to get used to travel. And perhaps even more importantly, Mommy & Daddy would just have to get used to traveling with little kiddos!

So... here we go... off on a major summer road trip of nearly 2800 miles in the car with wiggly 1-year-olds. Are we crazy or what? :)

Thankfully, we are happy to report that we made it through a whole vacation with NO calls to the doctor and NO sick boys. Overall, Jaden and Cody traveled well-- with lots of snacks, a pile of toys to rotate through, mounds of books, Praise Baby videos (Thanks Carstens family! We love them!), silly songs to sing, frequent rest area breaks to walk around, and a constant entertainer in the back seat.

On our journey towards the Midwest, we were blessed to have Grandma along with us. She loved reading to the boys, singing songs with them, and feeding them occasional ice cream treats.

Our first stop was to Uncle Andy & Aunt Beth's house in Rochester, MN. Andy grilled a delicious meat selection for our dinner, while Beth made many tasty sides. Cody loved learning from Andy's expert grilling techniques.

Aunt Beth even surprised Amy with an early birthday dessert-- s'mores bars that were SOO yummy!! What a thoughtful treat! Thanks, guys, for the wonderful meal! Following the meal, Cody and Jaden discovered Uncle Andy's Huskers sandals.

Uncle Andy was excited that perhaps our boys were picking up a new favorite team! Daddy wasn't so sure...

In the morning, Uncle Andy and Aunt Beth entertained the boys while Mommy & Daddy got ready and repacked the van.

Grandma let the boys get a close look at the HUGE rainstorm. The sounds of thunder and rain were fun to listen to.

Our overnight stay was a short one, but we were thankful to see you, Beth and Andy! Thanks for being such gracious hosts!

Our next stop was to Camp Cilca (a Lutheran camp just outside of Springfield, IL) for a Schleicher/Dahn family reunion. This campground was a perfect place for us to relax and visit with family. We stayed in hotel-like cabin rooms (with bathrooms and showers) and had dinners cooked for us by the talented camp cook. 

We were most excited to see lots of family members during our stay here. Grandma continued to be a fun playmate for the boys. After spending the last couple of weeks with our family, she knew exactly how to entertain the boys. Cody loved handing her all kinds of  toys,

...and then later begging for rides on his push-toy.

Grandpa was the next playmate that we were excited to see. He brought along whole box full of new toys for the little boys to explore. Cody and cousin Ryan didn't hesitate to dive right in.

The boys loved having Grandpa and Daddy play on the floor right alongside of them.

Grandpa was a great reader before naptime. He even attracted a crowd of other family members for the storytime as well.

It was a big blessing that Great-Grandma Schleicher was able to attend the reunion. The boys had met her over Christmas, before they could even walk. Now, Great-Grandma was able to see how busy and active the boys had become. Great-Grandma Schleicher has always been very active herself, so we're pretty sure the boys take after her! Thanks for sharing your love with our little ones, Great-Grandma!

Of course, it's always great having new playmates just your own size! Cody and cousin Ryan hit it off right away (don't be deceived by the back-to-back position). :)

Ryan was even willing to share some of his favorite toys with Jaden and Cody. What a gracious cousin! Jaden especially loved Ryan's ball popper.

Cody was SO excited to ride yet another push-toy!

Peek-a-boo games under the table are a lot easier when you're the same height!

Of course, simply staring at one another is a pretty fun game to play with your fellow 1-year-old as well!

Ryan and Jaden continue the staring contest...

Cousin Ian was a ton of fun to play with, too! We can tell that he has a 1-year-old brother because he knew just the right ways to entertain our little guys and make them smile. Ian was very gentle with Jaden and Cody, often giving them kisses or rubbing their head. He showed Cody how to pull his rider,

... and then willingly gave Cody a ride.

Most of the time, though, this was our boys' favorite game with Cousin Ian-- pushing HIM on the rider!

The boys also enjoyed connecting with their second cousins. The Dahn grandchildren did a wonderful job of including our boys in their games and activities. Here, Erin helps Cody walk out to the grassy field for balloon races (more on that later!).

Nate was extra caring with our boys, often rubbing their hair and reading books for them. Nate was determined to tell the twins apart and was nearly always correct.

Another fun aspect of this family reunion was connecting with a lot of aunts and uncles! Aunt Kim got some smiles out of Jaden with her tickling.

What a wonderful aunt and godmother! Aunt Kim knows just how to make our boys happy.

It's obvious that Aunt Kim is an expert mom of boys! Here she is with her sweet son Ryan. Love those smiles!

Uncle Matt also was quite familiar with the ways of 1-year-olds! He knew just how to entertain Jaden and Ryan.

He was also an expert reader! Matt balanced Cody and Ryan so well on his lap that we're pretty sure he's ready to have his own set of twins...

...or perhaps even triplets! :) What a great uncle!

Uncle Jonathan was also always ready to play. Cody loved his pushes on the rider...

...and Jaden loved the funny faces that Uncle Jon would make.

Aunt Chelsea made sure our boys were safe outside. Yet another caring aunt!

She even jumped right in to help comfort Jaden when he was sad. 

Amy & Jason also enjoyed their roles as aunt and uncle on this trip as well. Aunt Amy loved pushing Ian-- who knew how to steer himself and tell Amy where and how fast he wanted to go!

This push-game eventually became a sort of mother duckling follow-the-leader chain!

Uncle Jason loved that his nephew and his cousins' kids were old enough to sit still through an entire story!

Uncle Jason also helped to encourage Ryan in the eating department.

Aunt Amy and Ian had fun standing in funny positions and tracing their shadow people on the sidewalk. 

What a creative little guy Ian is! He had so many great ideas about how to position himself in order to make funny-looking drawings.

What a joy it was to see and spend time with all of these family members! Here are some of our group shots from the week together: 

The Grandchild Photo
 Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa, for all the fun matching shirts!
Grandpa & Grandma
Cody, Ian, Ryan, Jaden

The John Schleicher Family
Matt, Kim, Ryan, Jon, Chelsea, Amy, Jaden, Cody, Jason
Ian, Grandpa, Great-Grandma, Grandma

The Schleicher Family silly photo
 (Don't you love the difference between the front row and the back row??)

The Dahn Family
Cliff & Cris, Mark & Julie, Mike & Jenn, Doug & Mary, Kim & Greg
Nate, Kayla, Chloe, Great-Grandma, Karissa, Jordan, Erin, Joel

The James Family
Lonnie & Sandra (+baby on the way!), Great-Grandma, Carol & Doug

Great-Grandchildren Photo

All the parents attempting to get a good child photo...

The Whole Camp Cilca Crew!

What a FUN group of people to spend time with this summer! We loved our time with all of you!
Stay tuned for our adventures at Camp Cilca...

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Festive Fourth

"Happy Fourth of July!" say Cody and Jaden. Life has certainly changed in the Schleicher household since last July 4th. Take a look at last year's photo taken on the same flag.

Cody's on the left in both photos. The boys were just barely a month old in the above picture. The flag was latch-hooked by Grammy in honor of her father, the boys' Great-Grandpa Sylvester, who loved this craft. Taking this flag picture may become an annual tradition. It's fun to see how the boys have grown in a year's time.

On this July 4th, we were able to involve our 1-year-old boys in a few more holiday activities. Since Daddy was still out of town, Grandma was a wonderful companion for all of our adventures. In the morning, we attended a parade.

Cody and Jaden, wearing their "Mr. Independent" T-shirts, watched the parade from the comfort of their jogging stroller. It was a warm day, so the stroller provided some nice shade.

Mommy sat next to the boys to feed them snacks and keep them hydrated as we all watched the various floats and groups of people pass by. The boys especially liked the floats that played special music or drummed out a rhythm. They didn't even jump at the military gunshots that started out the event. We didn't get any shots of the actual parade, however, so you'll just have to trust us that we were really there. :)

After a break at home for lunch and naptime, we headed back out for an event called Celebrate Freedom. A local church sponsors activities like inflatable games and dunk tanks at a park very near our home. They also have music and lots of food booths. 

The heat was starting to zap a bit of our energy!

Grandma treated the boys to their first taste of chocolate ice cream. They were both BIG fans! Here is Jaden, taking his first bite.

Cody and Jaden show off their chocolate chins!

At the end of our visit, we were pleased to discover a special toddler area. The toys, like this little helicopter, were just our boys' size.

Cody was the first one to discover this little riding dragon.

Of course, Jaden wanted a turn, too!

Splashing around in the toddler pool was a great way to cool off.

Grandma even helped both boys down the slide.

By the end of the day, Cody and Jaden were tired out! Mommy & Grandma were the only ones awake to enjoy the fireworks. Thankfully, we are blessed to have a perfect view of the show right from our backyard.

 All in all, we had a full day, but a very festive Fourth. Thanks, Grandma, for being with us to celebrate!