Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Snow Days

For most of the fall, we've had fairly mild weather for Montana. Snow has fallen only a couple times, and each time it didn't stay around for long at all. When it did snow, the outdoor temperatures were nice enough that we could explore the snow a bit. Here are some of our first snow experiences of the season.

The last time we experienced snow, Mommy brought it into the house on a cookie sheet! This time, Jaden and Cody were excited to touch the snow all on their own. Putting our hands into the snow sure didn't last long, however. It was cold!

It was pretty amazing seeing how the snow just stuck to the trees.

Jaden discovered a way to get the trees de-snowed!

Cody tested out making various prints in the snow with his golf club.

And then, Cody took over the task of shoveling the driveway. Thanks, buddy! Way to go!

By the time our second snowfall came, we were a little more prepared with coats that fit and boots for both boys. (Thanks, Jenna, for outfitting us for the winter. What a blessing!)

This time, we experienced the snow in the backyard. What a strange thing to create footprints wherever we walked!

Thankfully, the snow wasn't very deep, so it was still easy to walk around.

Mommy took us for a ride in our sled (one of our great garage-sale finds from this summer!).

And then we built a snowman together! (Actually, Jaden was lounging on the sandbox cover where it was warm, while Cody wandered around after Mommy as she was rolling the snowballs.) It was fun to shake the snowman's hand when Mommy was done, though. Turns out, it was a good thing we spent time with this snowman. He disappeared by the time Daddy came home in the afternoon!

Our first few experiences in the snow were quite brief, as the boys quickly grew cold. Growing up in Montana, however, they will likely get quite used to snow and the cold weather. Our snowy adventures are just beginning!

SchleicherFest VI

Once upon a time, two brothers married two sisters. The brother-sister pairs got along very well. One of their favorite pastimes together was game-playing. After they were first married, the couples lived only two hours apart in Michigan. They would visit each other often to talk and... you guessed it-- play games!

Now, both brothers were a bit competitive (and of course, the sisters were always calm and collected :) ). The younger brother loved designing competitions of all kinds. Never a game went by that he didn't keep score or remember the stats. 

On one of their game-playing weekends, the younger brother had an idea. "Let's play a series of games," he said, "come up with 'team' names for ourselves, and keep a running score of our places in all of the games." With that comment, SchleicherFest was born.

Over the next few years, the brother-sister pairs held 5 SchleicherFest competitions. The games involved everything from athletic events and relays to video games and board games. Each of the teams-- Sunshine, Dissection, Amaloo, and Willis-- was in it to win it! The scores were usually very tight, the competition was high, and the fun limitless.

Eventually, the couples moved to different states and then had children. Visiting one another just for a weekend of games was no longer possible. It seemed as though the last page of SchleicherFest had been written. The story was done.

But, oh, never fear! The pages have turned. The story lives on. The couples recently reunited in Texas. And late, oh-so-late, after dark, when the children were all fast asleep in their beds, the torch was re-lit, the teams were reborn, and the games, oh the games, were begun once again.

So here are the pages that just have been written. The story of the games, from so long ago, now continues with SchleicherFest VI. 

In honor of the Games' re-birth, the brothers and sisters selected new team names: Popcorn, Lefsnofuthiss, Double Trouble, and Manifest Calamity. Team Manifest Calamity had been the previous SchleicherFest champion and trophy-holder, so he did the honorary torch-lighting.

Let the Games begin!

One of the first competitions was Washers, a game similar to horseshoes. After drawing names, Team Popcorn found herself up against...

...Team Manifest Calamity.

So Team Double Trouble played in Round 1 against...

...Team Lefsnofuthiss (left snow for this, pronounced in a gangster-type way).

During the Games, the children typically entertained themselves quite well-- playing with toys,

playing "catch,"

or running up and down the walkway and climbing on the porch.

Sometimes, though, the children would need a bit of adult supervision.

(Sure looks like Matt and Kim are ready for 4 kids of their own, what do you think?)

The last outdoor competition was quite a creative brainstorm. The game was a relay, starting with the memorization of a hymn.

Each 'team' had as long as he/she wanted to look at the hymn and memorize one verse.

The hymn verse had to be recited perfectly to a nearby judge. If even one word was incorrect, the team had to start again until it was just right.

After correctly reciting the verse, the team moved on to the hockey goal. Three "pucks" had to be hit inside the goal.

Then, two frisbees had to be tossed inside the hula hoops.

Next, the 'team' had to maneuver around a few of cones, followed by a series of jump-roping.

Three balls then needed to be tossed through the basketball hoop,

and two marshmallows caught in one's mouth.

The relay ended with the assembly of a small children's puzzle.

Mostly, the SchleicherFest games were made up of indoor events that could be played late at night. The indoor games not pictured included Loot, Amazing Labyrinth, Samurai, Greed, and Pitch. Here, the teams compete in a round of Guesstures.

Points were awarded for correct pantomimes AND accurate guesses.

Quite likely, the most unique event of the year was the Sock Throwing game. Each team selected 10 socks (either pairs or individual socks) to throw from the stairs. We could choose to aim for a wide variety of targets (couch cushions, kids' toys, a bucket, a laundry basket, the fireplace mantel, or the window ledge). Each target was assigned a point value (points were doubled for hitting it with the more difficult to throw single sock).

Team Lefsnofuthiss had great throwing form.

Team Manifest Calamity was a pro at hitting the highest point-value target, the laundry basket placed all the way in the kitchen.

Team Popcorn also showed some mad skills as she aimed for some difficult targets.

Team Double Trouble loved the strategy of throwing single socks on the easy-to-hit couch cushions. She also loved aiming for the fireplace mantel.

Definitely a crazy, yet memorable event!

In the end, the scores were so tight that it came down to the last game... wii bowling. Team Manifest Calamity was ahead, but not by enough that he was out of Team Double Trouble's reach. If Double Trouble could pull out a first place, with Manifest Calamity getting 3rd or 4th, Double Trouble could nail the win. The game was intense. With an early-on turkey, Team Double Trouble sure looked like she could pull out ahead. Unfortunately for her, the strikes disappeared as miraculously as they had come. Team Lefsnofuthiss eeked out ahead and won the wii bowling, sending Double Trouble into 2nd.

So... the defending champion held on to his trophy, as the new SchleicherFest VI winner was crowned. Congratulations, Team Manifest Calamity!

Team Lefsnofuthiss wasn't quite as pleased with his 4th place finish.

So for another year, the SchleicherFest games have been recorded in the history books. Despite the intense competition, fun was had by all, and each of the teams lived happily ever after.

The End

Monday, November 18, 2013

Time with the Texans

While we certainly enjoyed all the great activities in Texas, our very favorite part was just hanging out with family! 

Each aunt & uncle was able to spend some quality time with the kiddos. Here is Daddy/Uncle Jason reading to all four boys. He did a great job of watching all 4 kids often while Kim & Amy were preparing meals during the day.

Aunt Kim is quite an experienced Mommy! Cody & Jaden sensed her love right away. Cody enjoyed time with his aunt on the swings.

Aunt Kim and Ryan taught Jaden & Cody some new songs.

Uncle Matt was a perfect snuggler! Jaden loved getting cozy with his uncle. Also, this picture captures what a loving cousin Ryan is. Jaden REALLY took to Ryan's stuffed dog and had a hard time letting go of it. Right before this picture was taken, Jaden crawled up onto Matt's lap and stole the doggie right out of poor Ryan's arms. Good thing Ryan was willing to share!

Aunt Amy loved giving hugs to little Ryan. He feels much more similar in size to Jaden & Cody these days!

Aunt Amy also loved sharing in devotion time by reading to Ian from The Jesus Bible Storybook one morning.

Cousin time was a joy to watch! With each new stage the boys are in, they show the ability to interact with one another more and more. Here, Ryan and Cody goof off together on the couch.

Cody thought that Ian's lap was an ideal resting place! Ian actually stayed in this position quite a while for Cody.

Ryan showed Jaden some of his toys and musical instruments. Both Ryan and Ian did a wonderful job of sharing their toys during our weekend together.

Ian often found creative ways to make Jaden and Cody laugh.

His head "nuzzles" got great belly laughs from the boys!

Cody and Jaden enjoyed having a new home to explore. After discovering Matt and Kim's laundry room, this little area became a favorite get-away.

Cody would often shut himself inside and do who-knows-what!?

Of course, with four active little ones in the same household, we often created quite a ruckus...

AND a mess!

It's a good thing Aunt Kim and Uncle Matt were very patient about having stuff constantly strewn about their floor. Our boys were into everything!

Mealtimes were quite an adventure in themselves! Ian, as usual, was very helpful in entertaining our boys during the waiting times. Matt and Kim served up many wonderful meals that all four of us loved.

Ryan was a particular fan of the blueberries. :)

On one evening, we decided to let the boys all take a bath together.

Ian chose the bath color... purple! Jaden and Cody had never been in colored water before-- what a fun experience!

This was the best shot we got of their silly, soapy hairdos. It was about time to get out by this point. :)

When we weren't out on the town, we LOVED playing outside in the comfortable weather. Cody had a blast pushing or pulling Ian around.

Jaden and Ryan explore the washers game that the adults were playing.

All four boys squeezed into the sandbox. Thanks again, Ian and Ryan, for being such patient, sharing cousins!

Ian also showed us what a great driver he is in his fancy pink Mustang! Aunt Amy loved trying to keep pace with the speedy driver.

Ian gave each of the little guys a turn in the car. Cody LOVED every minute of the drive and beamed the entire time!

In fact, when it wasn't his turn to ride, Cody would often sadly follow the car, usually while whining.

Our cautious Jaden wasn't too sure what to think of his fast ride. He firmly gripped the front of the car as soon as it started moving and wouldn't let go!

Even though Ian was a careful driver, Uncle Matt and Daddy typically held on to the little ones in the meantime.

Another day, we enjoyed a nearby park. Aunt Kim was a great helper at the top of the slide.

Her quick reactions also stopped a few near-twin crashes! :)

We loved the slide and the spinning objects on top, too.

What a great day to be outside!

What a joy to spend some quality time with you, Texas Schleichers. Your family is so gracious and accommodating! You certainly spoiled us during our visit. Thanks for letting us come to Texas! We love you bunches!!