Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September Happenings

Compared to the summer months, I didn't take nearly as many pictures during September. I guess it's a welcome sign that our lives have slowed down a bit this month, or at least that we've settled into more of a regular routine. Here are some of our special activities from the month:

Lego Build
My sister Kim invited us to this great event at our nearby Lego store in the mall. Each month, the store sponsors a completely free Lego-building event. The best part of all is that we get to keep the Lego sets! Cody and Jaden were so eager to attend their first ever Lego mini-build, particularly when they found out they were building a school bus. The pieces in this set were a bit small, but these two Lego-fanatics did a fantastic job of following directions and were able to complete their buses with very little help. What a fun event! We're already signed up for next month!

Our Little Entrepreneurs
Guess this was a month of some firsts for Cody and Jaden. In addition to having their first Lego build, the boys also experienced their very first lemonade stand. Our family decided to participate in our neighborhood garage sale this month (mainly so we'd have the motivation to sort through some home items before baby's arrival). We figured that the boys would be much more engaged in our sale if they had a specific task too-- thus, the lemonade & brownie stand was born. Cody and Jaden took the preparations very seriously and counted down the days until the garage sale for several weeks. Each boy mixed up his own batch of brownies and then helped to color in our sign. (We actually lowered the price to 25 cents per brownie and cup of lemonade once we saw how small our cups and brownies were.)

On the day of our sale, we perched a table halfway in the garage in an attempt to give the boys at least a small amount of shade. (Go figure, it was a blazing hot and humid weekend here in the middle of September.) Not surprisingly, Cody and Jaden spent very little time actually sitting behind their lemonade "stand." Mostly, they'd play with their vehicles or bikes in the empty garage and wait until we had a larger group of customers. Jaden was very brave about approaching people at our sale (once we assured him that in this instance it was okay to talk with strangers!) and asking them if they'd like to buy a cup of lemonade. He was a hard little fella to turn down! Cody was content to stay in the background and help to fill up the lemonade cup when called upon. 

By the end of our two-day sale, the boys had earned a grand total of $26. Not too bad when the money came in a quarter at a time! It certainly didn't hurt that the boys got several larger tips from a few generous family members. :) Also, we had a troop of three neighborhood teens who visited the stand twice on Saturday and bought nearly a dollar's worth of treats each time, remarking, "These are the best brownies ever!" Ha! That's a hungry teenage boy for you! :) Cody and Jaden were so proud of their hard-earned money. After giving a tithe to church on Sunday, the boys happily spent the rest of their money on matchbox cars and two small Lego sets. We were proud of our little salesmen!

Zoo Visit
Our annual zoo membership expires in October, so we thought we'd sneak in another visit while we still could. Grammy and Papa joined us in what was their first trip to the Houston Zoo. The day we visited was cloudy most of the day with a few light showers that cooled the weather down even a bit more. It ended up being a very comfortable day! One of the boys' biggest highlights was riding the zoo carousel.

I didn't take my camera out for very much of our visit since we already have tons of pics of this zoo, but I did get a smattering of shots...

We had never seen this monkey actually swing side to side on these ropes. At one point, the monkey even showed off by tight-rope walking along the top of the rope! He was quite the entertainer!

Probably the boys' biggest highlight of the day was something completely unrelated to animals at all-- visiting the zoo splash pad. I couldn't get over the fact that we were enjoying water play outdoors at the end of September. I'm definitely still adjusting to this Texas "fall." 

Unfortunately, Mommy came only halfway prepared this day... I grabbed the towels but left the boys' swimsuits in the car! The splash pad is way at the back end of the zoo, so rather than retrieve the suits, we just let the boys play in their regular clothes and then changed them into dry swimsuits for the ride home. They, of course, didn't mind this backwards plan one bit! The refreshing water play was exactly what Jaden and Cody needed to re-energize their spirits.

Thanks, Grammy and Papa, for joining us on this zoo outing!

Lowe's Build and Grow
We hadn't attended a Build and Grow event for several months since the summer building projects were all related to Avengers characters (something Jaden and Cody know nothing about). This month, however, the project was back to something normal-- a fireboat. Matt and Kim and family joined us for this event. Right away, we noticed how the 4-year-old boys had all advanced so much in their ability to complete the project much more independently. I guess a summer full of following Lego directions has really helped! After looking at the directions, Cody knew exactly which pieces fit together and where to put the nails.

There he goes, the little builder! :)

Mommy is always thankful that Daddy accompanies us on these events. Even with their increased independence, the boys still need some guidance, so having an extra parent present makes our time much more enjoyable! Daddy and Jaden worked together to assemble Jaden's boat.

The finished products turned out to be quite nice! 

 As soon as we got home, Cody and Jaden spread out a blue blanket on the ground so that they could "float" their boat around on the "water." At the end of the day, they created a trailer out of MagnaTiles to carry their boats in. A pickup truck from a former Build and Grow is used to steer the trailer + boat around. Their creative little minds sure make me smile.

Time at the Park
By now, the last week of September, the weather has finally started to cool off a bit. Visiting parks during the daytime actually sounds much more enjoyable! Just this week, the boys and I loaded up their bikes into the van one morning so they could take a ride along this beautiful lake-side path.

I didn't feel comfortable riding a bike with my growing pregnant belly, so I got to power walk behind the boys. They did a great job of stopping periodically to let me catch up.

After one loop around the pond, the boys enjoyed time on the playground equipment as well as the climbing trees.

A Bedtime Pic for Daddy
This last week of September has been an out-of-town conference week for Jason. Every time that Daddy goes out of town, we try to send him at least a picture a day to give him a taste of what we are doing. On this particular evening, I was trying to get Cody and Jaden to blow kisses to Daddy for the picture, but this is what they gave me instead. Wrestling buddies forever. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Off to School

It's hard to believe that this season of life is already upon us! Cody and Jaden started pre-K this fall, and suddenly, my little boys don't seem quite as little anymore! At the end of the summer, we bought school supplies for our school-going 4-year-olds. Cody and Jaden took a long time to pick out their backpacks, waffling back and forth between many different kinds. I actually got teary-eyed in Target when I was taking this photo... Wearing backpacks makes them seem so big!

Cody finally ended up with a "soft Minions backpack," as he likes to call it. Jaden selected the Hot Wheels backpack. Our other school supplies were minimal-- markers, Kleenex, and baby wipes. Both boys seemed eager about the idea of school.

We signed the boys up for the Tuesday/Thursday pre-K class at our church's early childhood center. Their days are fairly lengthy-- from 9:15 to 2:30-- so we figured that easing into only two days per week of school would be helpful. 

Jaden and Cody officially started school on a Thursday, following a meet-the-teacher day on Tuesday. They both admitted to being a little nervous before the day started. Of course, Mommy made the boys take those traditional back-to-school photos by the front door. :) 



New backpacks filled with supplies and lunchboxes... we are ready to go!

Cody and Jaden get to hang their bags up right next to each other in the school hallway.

Here is their teacher, Ms. Kelly. We have heard so many positive things about her classroom, which is known as "the butterfly room."

Mrs. Hayes is the assistant teacher.

Jaden and Cody both seemed very nervous about leaving Mommy and Daddy on their first day. I will always remember the precious image of the two of them looking over at each other and grabbing one another's hand as they walked into the classroom together! Neither boy cried as he left, which surprised me somewhat. Later, however, we heard that both boys cried shortly after Mommy and Daddy left their sight and that they each cried off and on throughout the day. :( The full day of school was a big adjustment for them both!

 By the time we picked them up at the days' end, though, Jaden and Cody were both smiley and excited to tell us about their day. Without hesitation, they both said the favorite part of their day was the long recess. They told us about being in two different "small groups" and about learning how God created day and night. 

School drop-off still causes a bit of anxiety at times, especially for Cody, but neither boy struggles with crying throughout the day anymore. We love hearing them sing songs and recite rhymes that they learn at school. We continue to pray for a smooth year of learning and growing for them both. We are proud of our little preschoolers!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Summer Days

Here are a few pics from a variety of miscellaneous events during our summer:

Anniversary Festivities
On our anniversary in June, Jason and I planned a couple special family activities. First, we went to one of our area's free summer movies. Love these! This one was a showing of Minions. Jaden and Cody seemed to enjoy it well enough. Unlike last summer, we could actually sit through the entire movie! I love that the boys are unwilling to take their eyes off the movie screen for even a few seconds for a picture.

Later that afternoon, we visited an ice cream soda shoppe that boasts homemade ice cream. It was a little pricey, so we won't return often, but the treat was quite tasty!

Jason and I did get a bit of couple time as well, although it wasn't on our actual anniversary. Matt and Kim babysat for us so that we could go out for dinner and go bowling. What a treat! We returned the favor for them on a different evening-- a nice benefit of sharing an anniversary is that we'll always remember one another's special day! :) 

Activity Obsession #1
Jaden and Cody definitely went through "activity obsession phases" this summer. They would both get hooked on one certain activity for several weeks at a time. The chosen activity would be the first thing they'd ask to do after waking up, after lunch, after naptime-- multiple times a day! Their first activity obsession of the summer was coloring. Often, Cody and Jaden would sit at the table and each color 8 to 10 pictures in one sitting!

Our Little Gardeners
We were SO excited to see our sunflowers (the ones we first planted at the Texas Rodeo in October) grow into tall, beautiful flowers over the summer. It was most enjoyable when the flowers actually opened up and we could watch them follow the sun throughout the day.

Splash Pads
We spent quite a LOT of our summer in the water, visiting various pools and splash pads around town. Many times, we met friends or family members at these water sites. On this particular outing, we met up with a group of teacher friends from school. Jaden and Cody always loved their time in the water! Jaden's excitement is practically overflowing in picture #2. :)

Family Time
Although we weren't able to have extended family dinners weekly like we did last summer, we did schedule family dinners as often as we could. How fun to add Mom and Dad to our regular family dinner guest list now! We just LOVE having them live down the road. One of Cody and Jaden's favorite activities to do at Grammy and Papa's house is to read books with them. These are books that I enjoyed from my childhood, so it's a fun trip down memory lane for me to hear these books too!

Wedding Dances
We attended a total of 3 weddings over the summer but only enjoyed reception dancing at this one. (Our first wedding was the one that had bowling instead of dancing and the second one was when Cody got sick before the dancing even started!) This particular wedding was for a young couple at our church. Cody and Jaden jumped right into most of the reception dances, especially since a lot of their little Sunday School friends were out on the dance floor too!

Activity Obsession #2
Cody and Jaden's next activity obsession over the summer was building Legos. They'd often build an entire set and then immediately ask to take it apart and rebuild it. Mommy and Daddy's fingernails were constantly broken from all of our Lego dismantling during this stage!

Free Summer Bowling
Our local bowling alley offered free summer bowling coupons for kids during their non-peak hours. Of course, we took advantage of this opportunity! The cost for shoes was a bit spendy, but it was great to have the actual bowling cost covered. Jaden and Cody were only interested in playing 1 of their 2 free games but seemed to have fun.

Special Outings
These pics from my phone didn't come out very clearly, but they capture some fun memories. At the end of the summer, Mom and Dad gave Jason and me free tickets to an Astros game. It was my first time visiting the ballpark. The Astros just barely eked out a win with a walk-off homer, so it was a very exciting game! Jason and I loved the date night too. Thanks so much, Mom and Dad, for these tickets!

That same weekend, Kim and I bought tickets to a Sound of Music sing-a-long at an outdoor theater. We're both HUGE fans of this musical, so it was a glorious time. :)

I heard at the end of the summer that this kids' play place was going out of business. We hadn't yet had a chance to try it out, so this was our last opportunity. The boys raced excitedly from the slides to the big pillow to the climbing gym. Such a fun place to play! Mommy enjoyed the cool indoor temperatures too!

Children's Museum
One Friday while Mommy was busy, Daddy took Jaden and Cody to the Children's Museum. We didn't realize it ahead of time, but that day was a special end-of-summer bash full of special activities like magic shows and face painting. Jason said that the museum was very busy! Jaden and Cody were thrilled to get their faces painted that morning. I was impressed with how intricate the designs were!