Friday, December 18, 2015

Family Celebrations

One of the greatest things about living near family is being able to be present for so many family milestones and celebrations. In mid-November, our sweet nephew Nathan turned one. My sister Kim planned a wonderfully adorable party with a theme based on Eric Carle's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You'll have to check Kim's blog for all of her creative party details. I'm just including a few pics here that show what a great time Cody and Jaden had celebrating with their cousin. Here is our precious one-year-old nephew (already a confident walker!). Happy birthday, Nathan!

Cody and Jaden enjoyed the coffee filter butterfly craft. They each added TONS of color to their butterfly.

Isaiah and Nathan were the quality-control observers. :)

Before heading outside to do a few more activities, Uncle Jon organized a cousin huddle.

All of the boys had to hunt for "caterpillar food" from around the yard. What a perfect high-energy game!

Then, the adults wrapped all the kiddos into caterpillar cocoons. All four boys stood surprisingly still for this activity!

Their favorite part, though, was breaking powerfully out of the cocoon, through the toilet paper, at the end!

The highlight of the party for Jaden and Cody was doing the pinata. This was their first pinata experience, so they were super excited! The birthday boy got the first opportunity to whack at the butterfly.

Cody and Jaden each got a few turns to whack at the pinata as well.

Ian was the one to finally get the goods out of the butterfly!

After the party, Grammy (who had flown in a few days earlier to help Kim with party planning) spent a day and a half at our house. Isn't it great how we get to cash in on the extra family time too? :) Cody and Grammy worked together on his favorite dinosaur puzzle.

Then, we all played the caterpillar dice game that was a party favor from Nathan's birthday party.

We took Grammy to church with us on Sunday, too. She was an amazing help in taking care of the boys while Mommy played an organ hymn for church that morning. We also utilized Grammy's help in another major way-- she served as the photographer for our family Christmas card picture. She was able to get some wonderful smiles out of both boys! We were very pleased! Thanks so much for all your help during your stay, Mom! We only wish it could have been longer! :)

On Monday morning (Nathan's official birthday), we met Kim and her boys at our favorite "tire park." It was a rather muggy morning (middle of November-- go figure!), but none of the energetic boys seemed to mind.

Cousin love! :)

At the end of the month, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our place. Jon, Chelsea, and Isaiah had originally been planning on joining us as well but ended up deciding to travel to the Midwest to see some of Chelsea's extended family. We certainly missed their family but still had a very active, noisy household!

We are very thankful to God for the gift of family and for all the blessings that come from living nearby!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Grandma & Grandpa Visit

Recently, the newly retired Grandpa and Grandma Schleicher spent an entire month in Texas, splitting their time between their three sons' homes. Our house was their middle stop. We had a delightful time during Grandpa and Grandma's visit! Jaden and Cody were so excited about the attentive playmates! :) First, the boys wanted to show Grandpa and Grandma the letter books that we are slowly assembling.

Cody says, "A is for apples."
Jaden says, "E is for eyes."
Jaden reads, "F is for feathers."
Cody showed Grandma his newest favorite pastime-- doing puzzles! He can assemble this dinosaur floor puzzle with remarkable speed for a 3-year-old, in my humble, non-biased opinion. :) All Grandma had to help with was turning the puzzle pieces over. 

Jaden showed Grandma one of his favorite activities-- matching games. He has a good little memory for this game!

Grandpa took Cody and Jaden along with him on a few of his afternoon runs. The boys loved "going so fast" in the stroller!

Thanks for the fun outing, Grandpa! (Can you tell that these tall boys are starting to outgrow this stroller?)

Another day, Grandma and Grandpa were introduced to the fun of Marble Works.

And, of course, Cody and Jaden wanted Grandpa and Grandma to read many, many books! Grandpa and Grandma even accompanied us to the library two weeks in a row to attend story time and check out new books.

On Daddy's day off, we took a full day adventure to downtown Houston to attend the Children's Museum. This was our first time visiting this museum, and we found it quite remarkable! We visited close to Halloween, so the children statues out front were all wearing funny masks. This was the character Cody and Jaden chose to stand next to.

One of the first exhibits we played with was this "ancient" payphone. :) Cody and Jaden got a kick out of the screens and loved being able to see the person they were talking with.

Grandpa lifted Cody up on this little pulley-system ride.

Cody's top choice activity was driving this full-sized ambulance. He loved being able to turn on and off the lights by himself!

We were all impressed by the authentic-looking supermarket. After shopping for some food...


the boys could scan their own food or type prices into the computer register. Jaden and Cody loved this realistic experience!

Jaden's favorite activity of the day was building and launching his own rocket. The picture below is actually of Daddy with Cody, but both boys worked with Daddy at different times to create their own rocket.

Jaden was very proud of his creation!

Best of all, though, was placing the rocket on the launcher inside this caged area, jumping firmly on the launching pad, and sending the rocket flying!

One of the last exhibits we saw was this Mexican-themed area-- complete with an old-fashioned van carrying a chicken coop up top! If you look closely, you can see Jaden's head poking up from the back seat.

Towards the end of our time with Grandma and Grandpa, we took them to our new favorite park, one that Matt and Kim's family call "the tire park." We could literally spend all day at this awesome park! Both boys (even though just Jaden is pictured) showed Grandpa and Grandma their newly-learned skill of sliding down the fireman's pole.

Grandma and Grandpa pretended to be a troll under the bridge for Cody and Jaden.

This may look like just a typical park bench, but it's actually a large swing with benches on both sides of a platform.

And, of course, the reason our family calls it "the tire park" is because it's full of tires to climb on...

... and tires to swing inside of....

...and tires to drive us to new places!

Thanks, Grandpa and Grandma, for being wonderful park playmates!

On the very last night of their stay, Grandma and Grandpa took Cody and Jaden on a little date-night out. Daddy and Mommy were hosting a Life Group (our small group Bible study from church) dinner at home, so Grandpa and Grandma took the boys out on the town. What a treat this was for all four of our family members! Mommy and Daddy appreciated the chance to host and visit with our new friends without distractions. And Cody and Jaden had SO much fun! Their first stop was to McDonald's for a dinner of chicken nuggets and yogurt parfaits.

Our family doesn't eat out often, so this was something really special!

The boys had a ball at the playland.

Then, it was off to a pet store to check out all the animals. Grandma and Grandpa said that Cody and Jaden could've stayed here for quite a bit longer than they did!

What a night of fun adventures! Jaden and Cody came home bursting with excitement and stories to share about their fun evening. Thanks for this night of special memories, Grandpa and Grandma! Your entire visit was a blessing to us. Thanks for spending time with us in Texas! We love you!