Monday, July 26, 2010

Noah Turns Six

Noah turned six on January 5th, and so, according to tradition, he found his chair at the table decorated. That night, he also got presents from us, which included some shirts (Phineas and Ferb and Star Wars) and, of course, some video games.

A king among men

A Wii game? For me!?

Then, on January 16th, he had his birthday party with his friends at Adventure Gymnastics, and he was delighted to have a great turnout. The environment was perfect for a wild six-year-old and his closest friends: a gigantic padded room filled with trampolines.

“Is anyone here having fun?”

Next up was cake and gifts, for which the padded room would have still come in handy...

Digging in

The party was a great success, and the kids didn't want to leave. We look forward to going back for future parties!

Friday, July 23, 2010


The day after New Year's Day, we had some time to go down the street to Epple Park ("the frisbee park" to locals, since it features a frisbee golf course) which happens to have a perfect hill for sledding. We have four saucer sleds, one of which we have a long rope tied to, and of course we had four very excited kids ready to use them.

Jayden makes it almost all the way down

Jayden and Noah, for the most part, were content to glide down without any assistance, although they had to be reminded almost constantly to walk back up off to the side, out of the way of oncoming sleds. Owen and Sofie, however, did better with the "sled-on-a-rope," which allowed us to slow the trip down a little, as well as pull the sled back up for another run.


...and back up...

...and back down again

Andrea and I even joined in for a few runs, usually with one of the kids on our laps.




Finally, before heading back home to dry off and warm up, I took each of the kids for a run down the icy street and back, which elicited the most excited squeals of the day.

Riding the "slingshot"

Sitting here next to the air conditioning unit at 9:00 pm when it's 81° outside, I don't imagine we'll have enough snow to pull the sleds out again anytime soon, but I do look forward to doing it again... sometime!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ringing In 2010

Perhaps as much as the kids look forward to Christmas Morning, Andrea and I look forward to another tradition we've been privileged to be a part of: a New Year's Eve Party with our closest friends. This year, it was held at Ryan and Shannon Paul's home, and in addition to the Moses family who attend every year, we were joined by the Staples, Marions and Williams families and had a wonderful time.

I made a chocolate cheesecake for the occasion, which was fun to make and even more fun to eat (working off the calories, though, was not as fun).

Staring at it too long may cause weight gain...

We were sad to celebrate this tradition for the first time without Ryan and Terra Hall and their family, who moved to Canada last year, but we felt their presence, especially when Mark Marion opened his Secret Santa gift: the Jessica Simpson poster which has been given as a gag gift for the past four or five years.

Who's going to get it? Who's going to get it?

Finally, it was time to ring in the new year, and with each kid getting a noisemaker, my hearing still hasn't completely recovered some seven months later...

Tired AND noisy

Ryan makes the ceremonial pronouncement

We are fortunate to be part of such a wonderful group of friends!

Christmas 2009

The Christmas season last winter began in our family with our advent calendar, which contains a small ornament behind each door. The nightly ritual is for Andrea or I to review the previous ornaments ("What's on number one?" "What's on number two?") until we get to the current day. Then, the kid whose turn it is that evening opens the door and we discover what the new ornament is. Such a simple thing, but it's one that the kids adore, and one they'll remember for a long time, I'm sure.

What's it going to be tonight?

With the advent calendar up, it was time to start preparing in earnest... it was time for Christmas shopping for Andrea and I, and the kids were confronted with the arduous task of being good in preparation for the big day. In the midst of all the hubbub, though, we were amazed to have a surprise visitor at Owen's Preschool Christmas Program: Kris Kringle himself!

"Santa, just how good to I need to BE?"

The other boys enjoyed Christmas parties at school as well, which were simultaneously exciting...


...and exhausting:

Who says you have wait until nighttime to dream about sugarplums?

We were blessed to have my parents join us for Christmas itself, and we were able to enjoy a tradition my family used to do growing up: driving around on Christmas Eve to look at Christmas lights (while listening to John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, of course). We were able to take my parents to see the biggest displays in Greeley: the house just North of King Soopers on 35th Avenue, and of course the Greeley Grizwolds in Northwest Greeley. After all the oohs and aahs, we took the kids home, set out the milk and cookies, and tucked them in.

And then, it was time to see what Santa brought...

As happens every year, I started out the Christmas season thinking that we wouldn't have a lot, and we of course had far more than we could have imagined.

Here it is, almost August, and the kids still enjoy playing with the many, many presents they got... that is certainly a pretty good measure of success.

Sofie Turns 2

Next up on our tour through the last year is Sofie's second birthday, which started out with a tradition we've recently begun: decorating the birthday kid's seat at our kitchen table so they get to see it first thing in the morning. We even put out the Bob the Builder tablecloth (which we had used for Jayden's third birthday) which she was very happy to see, having become a great fan of the show.

This is going to be a great day!

Next up was gift time, and Sofie was in heaven when she found a new outfit and a purse in the gift bag...

SOOO stylish!

What good is a new outfit if you don't have anywhere to go? We let her choose the restaurant for lunch, and that meant the haute cuisine of Chick-fil-A.

A playland, you say? Why, yes, I would love to.

Lastly, as a bit of a surprise to all of us, we were invited to our friend Cricket's house for cake and ice cream, where Sofie shared her position as guest of honor with her close friend Kaylee, Cricket's daughter, who had celebrated her third birthday just the week before.

All in all, a wonderful day for a wonderful little girl. Hard to believe she's a few months away from being three!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Visit from Karen and Steve

The weekend after Jayden began school last August we were delighted to have some old friends come up from Denver for the day. Steve and Karen Shea brought up their son Liam to spend the day with us, and we enjoyed lunch and conversation. Karen and Andrea attended Adams State College together, and Karen is now a doctor with a part-time practice in Denver. She has a special place in our family because she was in the delivery room with Andrea and I when Jayden was born. Steve, who also attended Adams State and who has served in the U.S. Army in Kosovo as an MP, is spending time now as a stay-at-home Dad. It was a joy to spend time with them, and we were able to see them again soon afterward when we attended a Labor Day barbecue at Steve's parents' home in Loveland.

Karen and Sofie have a heart-to-heart talk

Taking down an Army guy looks so much easier on TV!

Good friends

This past June, Karen and Steve were able to give Liam a little brother: Henry Shea was born June 1st. Congratulations, you two... we look forward to meeting Henry and seeing you all again soon.

First Day of School 2009

August 2009 brought three separate First Days of School, one for each of our growing boys. It was even more exciting because it was a new school for each of them. We began with Jayden on August 13, attending Second Grade at Chappelow with Mrs. Wheeler. Jayden loves school, and was beyond excited to make new friends and learn everything he could.

Ready to learn!

A few short days later, on the 17th, Noah started his first day of Kindergarten at Chappelow with Mrs. Miller. Noah is extremely smart, but can also be pretty strong-willed, and we were very happy to find out, over the course of the school year, that Mrs. Miller had a perfect balance of consistency, patience and attention to give Noah a great experience.

Gearing up to be a "Miller's Monkey"

Working on his dissertation

And finally, on September 1st, after what seemed like an eternity for him, Owen began his first day of Preschool at the First Congregational Church with Mrs. Holmes. Mrs. Holmes' class was heaven for Owen, who drank up every minute of his school time and was always sad to leave.

"Can I go in yet?"

Rockin' the cubby

We can't believe it's time to do this again: Owen will be in the 4-5 year old Preschool class with Mrs. McQuitty, Noah will be a First Grader, and Jayden will begin Third Grade. Sofie is one year away from beginning Preschool, and I'm sure that will be here before we know it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chronological? What's That?

Ah, so in checking my work Andrea points out that I skipped to Halloween and completely missed the first day of school among other things. So, with me helping out, this blog is going to be like LOST, where there are flashbacks, flashforwards, and people traveling through time. Awesome, right?

Halloween 2009, Part Two

Well, really, what else were we going to do with all those pumpkins?

Halloween 2009, Part One

We enjoyed carrying on our Halloween tradition of dressing up as a family in a similar theme (Having done The Incredibles and Peter Pan in the past) and chose characters from Pixar's WALL-E. Andrea outdid herself by creating all the costumes from scratch (with a little help from me and Kinko's) and, as always, we had a great time with both the preparation and trick-or-treating.

First is Jayden as the title character, WALL-E. We found a site online that had a printable papercraft WALL-E figure you could create, and blew them up to fit the size of a packing box. We added some iron-ons attached to gloves, and a cutout posterboard glued to some lab goggles. Lastly, we put a flexible and imaginative kid inside:

Next came Noah as one of the steward robots aboard the luxury liner in the movie. I figured this might be a hard sell for Noah, since they don't have a starring role in the film, but he was very excited about it and, to be honest, I think the costume turned out exceptionally well (I was particularly proud of the swappable "screens" in front). Noah expecially liked having the light bar on his head.

Owen's costume was that of M-O, the small cleaning robot who befriends the main robot characters and provides a lot of comic relief and cuteness in the movie. We loved this costume, though it was the most difficult to get on and off of Owen (which we did a LOT, since he couldn't wear it in his car seat). The helmet was fashioned from an insulated box used for transporting medical specimens, and the brush was actually a replacement brush for a Roomba vacuum cleaner robot.

Next came Sofie, who was a shoo-in as the sleek, cute, and incredibly destructive EVE. This one was simpler, using a sweatshirt with velcro-attached "tails" and a bicycle helmet that fit underneath the hood. The best part was Sofie's pitch-perfect imitation of EVE's plaintive cry for her trouble-prone friend: "Waawee! Waawee!"

Lastly, Andrea and I dressed up as the primary human characters of the film, the grossly overweight John and Mary. Andrea wore the wig I used when I dressed up as Syndrome three years prior, and we both donned huge sweatsuits with most of our furniture's throw pillows stuffed underneath.

It was, of course, an absolute blast, well worth the time and effort it took. And here it is nearing August and we haven't decided for sure what we're doing this year... we have some ideas. Regardless of what we decide, you can count on it remaining a well-guarded secret until October 31st!