Sunday, July 31, 2016

Arizona Trip - Part 2

On our flight out to Phoenix, both Cody and Jaden were suffering with a slight fever. We contributed this just to a result of the 4-year-old shots they had received a couple days prior and assumed they'd bounce back to full health soon. By the end of the trip, we realized a different truth-- Jaden and Cody had both picked up hand, foot, and mouth disease. Blah! The worst part about it was that we took them to a couple different touristy spots and unknowingly spread their germs around. Our apologies go out to the patrons of Legoland that day. :(

Thankfully, Cody and Jaden felt decent enough with some medicine to enjoy our time at this Legoland Discovery Center. It truly was a very unique place. After receiving two Lego Jr. sets for their birthday this summer, Jaden and Cody have become huge Lego fans, so they could really appreciate the center's activities.

Even though we got advance tickets online (with specific time reservations), there was still a fairly lengthy line to wait in. Aunt Kim came up with some fun races for our active kids to do to pass the time.

Finally after getting in, we were told to stand on a Lego dot to await our factory tour.

We filed into this room where the kids used a control panel to select their own animated Lego minifig features.

Then we toured a fascinating Lego village.

At various locations, the kids could press a button to make some of the Legos move. Here, a minifig construction worker started jack-hammering the street after Abby pressed the button.

Each of the Lego buildings was so detailed. I am so impressed by the people who put these creations together.

Occasionally, the lights would dim and we could see the Lego city nightlife.

This spot allowed the kids to use controls to race these ships across the water. So fun!

Next, we rode a small Lego-themed ride.

Quite likely, one of our boys' favorite spots was here in the Lego Workshop. Jaden and Cody followed directions to build a small helicopter.

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to keep the final Lego creation, but the boys still enjoyed building.

Our next stop was free-building with these gigantic tubs of Legos.

Cody tried out the Build & Test station in which he could design his own Lego car and then test its speed down various ramps.

Both boys enjoyed this earthquake Lego table. They could build something with Duplos on this green mat and then turn the dial to simulate an earthquake. A successful builder would make his creation withstand the shaking ground!

Another favorite spot was the 4D Lego movie theater. The boys were quite surprised when water sprinkled on them from above!

At the end of our visit, we went on this ride that gave us an opportunity to shoot at various Lego villains and collect points. I'm not sure our boys really grasped the concept of how to aim their laser gun at the villains, but they definitely had fun with it regardless!

As we were leaving the Discovery center, we briefly walked through the Lego store and got to meet this Lego guy and his extremely excited co-worker. :)

On Sunday, we had the joy-filled opportunity to witness Ben's baptism, the primary reason for our trip! Here is the cutie-pie with his loving Grammy prior to the service.

Andrew and Sarah asked both Matt and Kim and Jason and me to serve as sponsors for Ben. Of course, we were honored and readily agreed! It was neat that Papa could be the pastor to baptize Ben, too.

This moment always puts tears in my eyes. What a joy to know that Ben is a beloved, cherished, and forgiven child of God!

Our many post-baptism photos:

the baptism family and sponsors:
Jason, Amy, Abby, Andrew, Sarah, Ben, Kim, Matt, conked-out Nathan
the beautiful new family of 4

Ben's two sets of grandparents pose with the Arizona Walquists

The whole Walquist-Schleicher crew
One final outing that Andrew and Sarah planned for us was to an absolutely delicious new sweet-spot in Phoenix. I hope that they expand to the Houston area soon!! This dessert shop was called the Baked Bear, and it featured build-your-own ice cream sandwiches. We could choose any two types of cookies or brownies for the top and bottom of our sandwich, any variety of ice cream for the inside, and select from a wide array of toppings to add to the yummy sweetness.

Now doesn't this dessert just make your mouth water?! 

We were all instant fans!!

Because this shop had only been open for a few weeks, the line for ice cream was very long (stretching far outside the door), and the whole establishment was fairly packed. Hands-down worth the crowds and wait, though!

We ended the trip with a somewhat successful grandchild photo for Grammy and Papa. Perhaps the pics are just getting easier because the kids are all getting older, but quite likely it was due to the fact that they had all just finished their delicious ice cream. We were excited that every child's face was visible in this pic and that only Ben is showing signs of slight distress. Success! :)

Ryan, Jaden, Ben, Papa, Ian, Cody, Grammy, Nathan, Abby

Thanks for being such wonderful hosts, Andrew, Sarah, Abby, and Ben! We loved our time with your family and were honored to be a part of Ben's big day.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Arizona Trip - Part 1

Over Father's Day weekend in June, our family flew out to Arizona for our newest little nephew's baptism. Little Benjamin Frederick Walquist is such a cutie-pie! He definitely got spoiled with a lot of attention over the weekend.

almost 6-week-old Ben

Ben enjoyed 2 sets of doting grandparents over the weekend!

Ben knows how to tucker people out!

Cody and Jaden say hello to their newest cousin.

Uncle Jason tries out a few lullabies on Baby Ben.
Even though our time in Phoenix was fairly short, Andrew and Sarah packed in some great activities for our families. Right after arriving in town (our family actually went there straight from the airport), we visited a local train park. Because the temps were quite hot that day, we had the park nearly to ourselves! The cousins enjoyed riding the train around the park. 

We also took a spin on the carousel.

After a tasty picnic lunch...

...the kids climbed on this Family Circus statue that was underneath the pavilion. The shaded area felt nice!

Back at Andrew and Sarah's home, the kids listened to a LOT of stories over the weekend. (These precious reading pics are always some of my favorite!)

The kiddos also enjoyed checking out all of Abby's games, puzzles, and toys.

For mealtime, the kids' table was reserved for the 4-year-olds. I'm not sure very much eating ever got done at this table, but they sure giggled a lot!

We cooled off one afternoon with some refreshing homemade popsicles.

Every single day of our visit (at least once per day), we spent time in Andrew and Sarah's pool. They have a beautiful backyard and a great-sized pool. Plus, the temps were extremely high (Sarah likened it to walking around in an oven), so swimming was an ideal way to survive the heat! Notice this thermometer is stationed in the shade...

These cousins are ready to jump right in!

Happy Father's Day to a wonderful Daddy!!

Our family hadn't yet spent much time in the pool this summer, due to all the rainy weather we've been getting in Houston. After 3 days in a row of swimming at Andrew and Sarah's, Cody and Jaden gained quite a bit of confidence in the pool. Their favorite thing to do was to jump off the edge into Mommy or Daddy's (or another aunt or uncle's) arms. By the end of the weekend, Jaden was jumping directly into the pool and didn't mind getting fully submerged. This was a big step for him!

Cody and Jaden also practiced some back floating.

Andrew, Matt, and Jason enjoyed throwing and/or catapulting the kids high into the air.

Each of the kids took a turn or two off the diving board, though only Ian and Abby were comfortable enough to jump straight into the water.

Abby was such an awesome little swimmer! She seemed to have no fear in the water. She loved when her Daddy launched her off the diving board, and then she would swim confidently over to the pool edge on her own. Pretty impressive for a 3-year-old!

Surprisingly, because of the low humidity in Phoenix, the breeze upon getting out of the pool actually felt somewhat cool... at least temporarily. We often just sat around a bit after getting out of the pool or used the time to play on Abby's playset.

Cousin-love: Cody, Ian, Jaden, Abby, Ryan