Monday, April 27, 2015

March Playdates

Last month, our playgroup chose a St. Patrick's Day theme and a basketball theme (for March Madness). We had great fun, as usual!

Ruth brought a wide selection of green foods for our St. Patty's Day snack. Cody sampled the kiwi and green grapes and then dipped his snap peas, broccoli and cucumber in his green-tinted Ranch. Creative ideas.. and healthy too!

Our two activities were ideas borrowed from my sister, as she has started a themed playgroup of her own now, too. The kids LOVED these ideas! (Thanks so much for sharing, Kimbo.) The first game was a rainbow color hunt. Each of the kids got a sheet of paper which had the outlines for the various color strips on it. 

The kids had to hunt for the color strips (all hidden downstairs) one at a time. After finding each color, they had to run upstairs to put the color strip on their paper. The kids enjoyed hunting for the colors, and they got GREAT exercise with their multiple trips up and down the stairs. 

Abby proudly displays her green color strip.

Kenzie locates the tricky hiding spot for orange.
The paper included the words AND colors for each of the color strips, so all of the kids could match up their colors independently. This made them all quite proud! Here is Jaden's completed color-strip rainbow.

The second activity was also a winner for the kiddos. Before the playdate, I had hidden 8 pennies and a couple shamrocks underneath a layer of baking soda in each of these containers.

The kids' job was to go on a treasure hunt for their St. Patrick's Day items. They slowly poured vinegar into their containers and were quite excited to see the bubbling that ensued. 

When the bubbles settled down a bit, the kids could catch glimpses of their hidden "treasures." Then, they could fish out the items with a spoon.

Jaden and Cody worked together on their treasure hunt.
The kids laid their treasures on this paper, on top of their items' pictures. This way, they knew exactly what they had left to find. This activity kept them very interested and occupied for quite some time. 

With all the activity fun, we ran out of time for the craft. Thankfully, Samie was well-planned with all of the craft supplies in individual bags. This made it super easy to send the crafts home with each child. Jaden and Cody made their craft (these cute rainbow & pot of gold chains) later that afternoon.

The chains made a beautiful addition to our St. Patrick's Day mantle. What a festive idea!

Our second March playdate was on a beautiful Montana spring day, so we spend the first part of the playdate just enjoying some freeplay in the nice outdoors. After a while, Samie led the kids in a "Crazy Shot" activity. The kids had to find ways to shoot the basketball in the craziest way possible. This first shot is obviously not a crazy shot, but I thought Jaden's arc and follow-through looked pretty good for a 2-year-old. :)

Cody did a little drive-by layup type shot...

....while Jaden attempted a behind-the-hoop shot. Ha!

Kenzie's behind-the-hoop shot had a little better result. :)

Abbie actually made this on-the-tricycle shot. Way to go!

After playing outside for so long, the kiddos were hungry! Can you tell they're all ready to eat? :)

Landon, Jaden, Ryder, Kenzie
Jenna prepared this super-creative string cheese and carrot basketball net snack. This idea wasn't even a Pinterest pin... Love it, Jenna! :)

Now that they're eating, the kiddos look a bit more content.

Ruth put together the craft for our March Madness theme. Each of the kids had to decorate their own basketball player.

Our playdate was right before the Final Four showdown, so the kids got to choose from basketball jerseys that represented the remaining 4 teams in the tournament. Ruth had about three times as many Wisconsin jersey as any other team... not that she was trying to persuade anyone to choose red... :)

Cody happily chose a Duke jersey and decided that his player needed to be kicking his basketball.

After selecting their jerseys, the kids added hair and facial features. These four were all apparently Wisconsin-lovers, too.

Abbie decided that her basketball player needed some purple shoes!

The kids' basketball "team" turned out fairly cute. Be sure to notice Jaden's basketball guy (second from the left on the bottom row). Jaden insisted that his player was catching the basketball, and that's why it needed to be stuck right in the middle of his face. :)

Again, another month of fun playgroup memories!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Things

Here are some recent spring happenings for our family...

St. Patrick's Day Parade
Okay, it wasn't technically spring yet for this parade, but it was close. The weather was beautiful on this weekend before St. Patty's Day. In Montana, when the winter coats can stay in the closet, we call it spring! :) Our whole family walked in the parade with our Mothers of Multiples group to advertise our spring garage sale. Both boys wore green (underneath the jackets at least). This is the only time all year we ever put Cody in green!

Here is a better view of our decorated wagon. This year, the boys helped me with the shamrock stickers.

Our group probably had 9 or 10 families walk in the parade. The older kids rode bikes, while the younger ones (most of us) used strollers or wagons.

Daddy wore his Shamrock Shake shirt and a stylin' hat. :)

Our family post-parade:

Spring Car Washing
It's finally warm enough to wash the cars outdoors again, so I enlisted Jaden and Cody's help for the task. They stayed busy for probably a whole 45 seconds, so I was lucky to get these couple of pictures!

Recently, my sister-in-law Sarah posted an Instagram pic of my brother Andrew and niece Abby washing their car in Phoenix. Her picture looks a lot more natural with Andrew wearing shorts and Abby looking very summer-like, too. :) Our Montana spring car washes include a few more layers!

The Big Transition
We finally took the plunge a couple weeks ago and moved Jaden and Cody into toddler beds. We tried to drag our feet on this transition for quite a while, but the cribs were becoming more like pieces of gymnastic equipment in our household. So, the decision was clear. The cribs had to go. Cody and Jaden have really loved their new beds, and we've been pleasantly surprised at how well the boys stay in them at nighttime. Hooray! Unfortunately, the beds don't necessarily help them sleep better (they still call out to us 3-4 times at night for a drink, going potty, help with tangled blankets, etc....), but they still wait until nearly 7:00 to climb out of bed in the morning so we can't complain too much!

The beds were given to us as hand-me-downs from a church family. We didn't realize until picking up the beds from their home that one bed was bright pink with stickers of Dora the Explorer! I had planned on painting this bed a different color before we transitioned, but Jaden saw the bed and immediately fell in love with the pink. Part of me feels a bit guilty that one of my sons has a masculine red Lightning McQueen bed and the other has one that isn't quite so masculine (what kind of issues might I be creating in the future??). But, hey, free is free, and if Jaden is pleased (for now, at least), then so are we! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

MI Road Trip - Part 2

Following our time in Saginaw, our family returned to Holland, MI, just about the time that the rest of the family was starting to arrive for the retirement celebration. Jaden and Cody loved seeing all of their cousins again. Jaden, our little baby lover, was often seen right next to his cousin Nathan.

Both he and Cody took a (brief) turn at holding their little cousin.

Amid the busy-ness of the retirement celebration for Jason's dad, the family still had time to just hang out. We spent some of our days reading...

(We were particularly impressed with Ian's reading abilities, as he read aloud to Amy, Jaden and Cody one day.)

playing games,

wrestling (Cody often sought out Ian for this...),

and playing with cars and trains.

Ryan and Cody thought the spot under the chair made for an ideal parking garage!

Here are a few random cousin shots...

Cody, Ryan, Jaden

Jaden and Ryan

Uncle Matt, Nathan, Jaden, Ian

Ian, Jaden, Cody
 The whole family made sure to get some quality time with little Nathan (perhaps because he was the only little boy willing to cuddle for extended periods of time!). Uncle Jason elicited a few laughs from the little guy.

Aunt Amy did a few baby calisthenics with Nathan another day.

Nathan was often up quite later than his brothers and his cousins, so he was able to get in some special time with the ladies. :)

Who wouldn't want to spend time with this handsome little guy?! We love you, little Nathan!

Beth, Matt, and Jason spent an afternoon helping their parents with some of the packing/organizing/cleaning in Dad Schleicher's office.

After 40 years in the ministry, a pastor can sure accumulate a lot. They made some great progress together!

Holland still had quite a bit of snow on the ground during our visit, so we got in on some good outdoor playtime. Cody and Jaden must have been inspired by their Texas cousins' excitement. This day was the first time our boys have EVER willingly worn snow pants!

The boys tried out sledding (though the sled kept on sinking into the snowbanks, so this didn't work too well),

we had quite a few snowball battles (mostly the adults and the kids picking on each other),

and we even built a small snowman.

I don't recall if the snowman toppled over on its own or if he had some help... :)

The Texas Schleichers attempted some downhill sledding one day, too. It was fairly hilarious... the "hill" basically ends at the bottom of the picture, so the entire sled ride was probably less than 2 seconds.

The weather was actually very nice for enjoying some playtime in the snow.

During our visit, Grandpa and Grandma graciously let all their grandsons (and parents) stay at their apartment, while they went to a local hotel. We really appreciated having the extra play space and the conveniences of a home for our kiddos. At the same time, we were able to enjoy a few of the hotel amenities-- like the indoor pool!

Last summer, Cody and Jaden weren't at all excited about anything water-related, so we were curious to see how they'd do in the pool this year. We borrowed a couple of puddle jumpers from a friend who has 2 girls, hence the pink and purple. :) It took a bit of adjustment (i.e. whines and some crying) to get the boys used to the water temperature. After a few minutes of moving around in the water, though, Jaden and Cody started loving it!

Despite wearing the puddle jumpers, neither boy wanted to paddle too much independently. They were happiest when they were launching themselves off the edge of the pool into Mommy and Daddy's arms.

We repeated these off-the-side jumps over and over and over again for our entire pool visit. The boys were so excited!

Here's the whole swimming bunch:

Matt, Ian, Kim, Ryan, Amy, Cody, Jason, Jaden

At the very end of our stay, we spent a morning at a local bouncing gym, Crazy Bounce. This also was a big hit with Jaden and Cody (despite their lack of enthusiasm shown in this pic).

Some of the slides were HUGE, so the adults started off going down with the little ones.

The boys didn't need our help for long. Jaden surprised us by being our daring slider. He whipped down these slides in all kinds of crazy positions!

Cody was a bit more traditional in his sliding but still seemed to have just as much fun.

Crazy Bounce also had bouncing balls...

...and competitive games, like this bungee game where competitors had to stick a velcro baton as far as they could on the middle lane. Aunt Amy and Ian competed first, and Amy got smoked. :)

Jason and Matt even took a turn. We discovered that one of the bungee vests was tighter than the other, so whoever was on the right side typically won. Still, it was an enjoyable competition. 

During our visit, we gathered for quite a few community meals. Lots of out-of-town guests traveled in for the retirement celebration, many of them members from the Schleichers' previous congregations. Mom and Dad Schleicher's current congregation prepared delicious meals throughout the whole weekend for all of the out-of-towners. What a treat this was! This particular meal was at the apartment community center. The cousins are relaxing after a tasty lunch. 

We also ate at the hotel one day... This special meal was provided by Beth Young-- Chicago deep dish pizzas. YUM! Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Beth. What a great meal!

Most of the meals were at the church. After this particular meal, we were served an ice cream dessert. The little boys even got cones. Talk about being spoiled! :)

Of course, the main point of our visit was the retirement celebration. Unfortunately, I didn't get very many pictures of this event. The service, however, was just wonderful. So many musical groups performed (handbells, choir, and even a kids' chimes group), and many kind words were spoken about Pastor John and Carol. All of the Schleicher kids (Beth, Matt, Jason, and Andy reading for Jonathan) gave a speech sharing memories from their dad's various congregations. We even had the 5 grandsons stand on the altar steps and sing "Jesus Loves Me." They actually did surprisingly well, considering only one of them is over the age of 2! Then, all of the Schleicher kids sang a song that Jason had written to the tune of "Let us Ever Walk with Jesus," a song that had been sung at Mom and Dad Schleicher's wedding. 

Dad and Mom Schleicher received a few gifts and spoke a bit at the end of the program, too.

John and Chelsea joined us for the program via Skype and were broadcast on this TV in the front of the church. We missed their presence during this celebration, but we were VERY excited to welcome their new little baby boy, Isaiah, into the world two days later! Here is the rest of the family at the end of the program... 

It was obvious that Dad and Mom Schleicher were well-loved in all of their congregations and that they served the Lord and His people faithfully. We are happy for them to be starting on this new chapter of life.
 It was a blessing to be with you, Mom and Dad Schleicher! We are thankful for your lives of faith and service. We love you!