Thursday, July 29, 2010

our life in pictures

Marcus and Cale are 2 days away from being finished with their YMCA baseball time. I think they like playing, but they act like they're dying when we try to get them to practice at home. Marcus is doing well with fielding and throwing and Cale is a great hitter. Hopefully this was a good introduction to baseball for them and they'll want to play again.

VBS was this week. Three days of fun! The boys all had a good time. I taught the 2-3 year olds again and only had 11 at the most. It was so nice. The kids were mostly ones that I had had last year as 2 year olds, so as 3's they were much better behaved. Ewan was in my class again this year. In fact, every year that I have taught, I have had one of my boys in my class. Next year it's Liam's turn. Andy worked in the kitchen and made it look so easy that a few of the teachers said they wanted his job next year. :-) What a nice highlight to the summer!

Proof that the 4th child does not get shorted on nice things. After trying some Payless shoes that never fit right, Andy went out and got some StrideRites for Liam. He loves these shoes! He will get them when I tell the other boys to get their shoes on. I say "sit, sit" and he will sit right down to let me put them on.

We "forced" the boys to play outside the other day. It was so nice and we gave them the choice of practicing baseball or bike riding. Oh man, Marcus and Cale had a huge crying fit! Probably because going outside was not in their plans. After a 15 minute period of tears, the boys finally came outside. Cale practiced hitting balls and Marcus worked on riding his bike. Once everyone calmed down, I think they had fun! (although they won't admit it!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Andy and the RAIN ride

When we went to Terre Haute last week, it was so that Andy could participate in the RAIN ride. RAIN stands for "Ride Across INdiana" and it means what it says. The bike ride is a 1 day, 160 mile ride from Terre Haute (on the western border of Indiana) to Richmond (on the eastern border). Andy had been eying this ride for a while and was excited for the chance to participate. I made him pose when we picked up his info packet and new RAIN ride bike jersey.

I took this picture in the hotel hallway before he left for the start of the ride @ 7am.

After Andy left, I had to get the kids up and the room packed I took a kind of back-roads way back toward home since we had to pick up Carina from the kennel. I knew we would intersect with the riders. Imagine my surprise when I pull up to the stoplight and see Andy with a pack of bikers waiting to cross the intersection! This was their first rest stop on the ride. The boys thought it was fun to see Daddy, too.

I took the kids home and that afternoon, our sitter came over to watch them so I could go pick up Andy in Richmond, mayber 2 hours from our house. I figured we would get to the finish line about the same time since Andy had texted my from the final rest stop before the finish to let me know where he was. I was able to get there with time to find a spot by the finish to snap this photo of Andy completing the ride.

He did it! And, I think he was very glad to be done! It took him a little over 11 hours total-counting the scheduled rest stops. Andy said the hardest parts for him were the "gentle, rolling hills" as described on the ride's website. Apparently, Indiana south of Indianapolis is a little more hilly than the Indiana just north of Indy. He said the hills were tough to go up, but he made it up on the downward side. I was proud that he was able to accomplish his goal of completing this ride.

our toothless wonder!

Marcus lost another tooth last night (assisted by Andy). It was his front upper left. That makes a total of 6 teeth gone so far. I only remember this because I have saved all his baby teeth-for what reason-I don't know. Anyway, the tooth fairy came through last night and left a note and money for Marcus. Thank goodness she remembered and we didn't have a lapse in memory like last time. :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

a bulleted review

It was a busy week for us here....
*Marcus and Cale had a mini-football camp every night from 5-630. They loved it! It was so hot! But, they actually never complained about going. We went ahead and signed them up for youth football this fall. Cale will be in the flag football league and Marcus will play tackle football. Andy was debating whether or not to put Marcus in tackle or flag and the ladies registering kids said-"we saw him practice, he should do tackle." Funny that they remember him.

*Marcus and Cale also still have baseball on Tues/Thurs @ 7pm. (Yes, there were 2 days when we picked the boys up from football and sped off to baseball-dinner in the car) They are doing okay for kids who have never played organized baseball before. It's coach-pitch and they've both been able to get some hits. I think Cale might like baseball a litte more than Marcus only because Marcus wants to be good at it immediately and doesn't like having to work to improve.

*I have worked 4 days this week! That's a lot. And, this is the last week that will happen because I am going back down to working 2 days a week next week. I'm so excited. I know I will be less sleepy and have more time to spend with the kids and activities and the house (like cleaning and laundry :-) )

*VBS is coming up tomorrow. It's 3 days of fun for some, and 3 days of crying 2-3 year olds for me. I can't believe this is the 4th year that I've taught this age group. I guess once you're in, you're in. Andy will not be teaching this year, but working in the kitchen preparing snacks.
The boys will all be in class, including Liam, who will be in the nursery getting loved on by "Grandma" Kathy.

*We got Ewan an actual mattress for his bed finally. No more sleeping on an air mattress for him! We finally had time to go looking for one. I think he likes it, although last night he ended up in our bed.

*In water news, we went to a new splash park this week. We met some friends of mine from work and their kids. It was nice to see each other not in scrubs. And, we DID NOT talk about work. That was nice too. Saturday, we went to the Y's splash park. I enjoyed that trip because the water was a comfortably warm temp having been warmed by the sun all day. The boys ran around for over an hour. It was great.

*Andy has one more week off before football starts. I get so spoiled in the summer having him home. It's tough to have him go back to work and harder because the first few weeks back, he's gone for over 12 hours each day. We always managed...

That's all I can think of for now. Just trying to get the kids outside as much as possible, especially in the evenings once the weather cools off. Their hair is all a little lighter and their pale skin a little redder :-).

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Marcus's 7 year check-up

Before we went to Terre Haute, Marcus had his 7 year old check up with our favorite pediatrician. She loves our kids! Marcus is doing well. His height is 51 1/4 inches and weight is 71 pounds. He is in the 97th percentile for his weight and 90th for his height. As Marcus was sitting on the exam table, the doctor said "let is be known that I am standing on my tip-toes to see into Marcus's eyes and ears for this check-up" (okay, she's on the tiny side!). I looked in my and Andy's baby books to see if we had anything recorded for that age. No luck. I have a feeling that Marcus was bigger than either of us at this age.

to Terre Haute and back

On Friday, we packed up the car, again, and drove to Terre Haute, Indiana. I had never been there before. Guess what, it's like practically driving to the Illinois border. We were going there because Andy was participating in a bicycle ride on Saturday called the RAIN ride. It's a 160 mile, 1 day bike ride across the state of Indiana. That's a separate post. So we head to Terre Haute and go to our hotel which, for the price, is not near as nice as the one we stayed in near Chicago. It's our fault, by the time we booked, most of the nicer places were taken. (We will not make the same mistake next time!) We were disappointed to learn there was no pool at this hotel (and I was slightly ticked that I had packed the swimsuits and accessories for nothing). Luckily, the local attractions guide had a picture of a park that looked cool, so we decided to try that after dinner. Our dinner plans consisted of going to the mall and looking for a restaurant. We lucked out. Beside the food court, there was an actual sit-down place to eat called Garfield's. I thought it would be fun to actually have a not-fast-food meal on the road and Andy could have something filling to eat before his ride. The food was great! The kids were pretty good and 2 other people having dinner there complemented the kids on their behavior. That felt pretty good. At the mall, they had a play area with large breakfast foods to climb on-a little wierd, I know. The boys loved it and we had to tear them away so we could eat.

After dinner, we went to Deming Park. They had the coolest playground there! It is handicap accessable and there was play area for the little kids and bigger ones. This park also has a miniature train that kids can ride. That was closed by the time we got there.
Where were all the kids? Man, if we lived there, we would be at that park a lot! I guess it was a little hot out for some people. Our kids didn't seem to mind until we had to get back into the car. Then, it was all about the whining.

Ewan said that this park was his favorite park! He even made up a song (to the tune of Jesus Loves Me): Jesus loves me, I love this park, I love this park, I love this park (pretty creative, I know)

After the park, we went back to hotel. It was tougher getting Liam to go to sleep since everyone else was still up in the room when we tried to lay Liam down in his little tent. Andy ended up taking Liam with him to Walmart to get a pair of sunglasses while I settled the rest of the boys in bed. The tactic worked, when Andy got back, Liam laid down with only a little bit of fussing. The boys watched a little more of Toy Story and everyone-adults included-were asleep by 9:30!
(I guess in the middle of the night, Cale yelled out in his sleep "What did you say?". Andy thought that was pretty funny. He said that all the boys were talking in their sleep last night. Marcus and Ewan were mumbling and Liam was giggling. Poor Andy got crowded out of bed and ended up sleeping across the foot of the bed that Marcus and Ewan were sharing. Not a very comfortable sleeping arrangement, but he made do!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Va-cay day 3: all good things must come to an end

It was time to leave for home on Monday morning. Thanks to our eastern standard time zone, everyone was up by 6:30am. There was no way we were going to drive through Chicago on a Monday morning before 9:00am, so we did the next best thing-we were in the pool by 730!

The boys floated around in their life jackets and had fun. Even Liam enjoyed himself. We played and then packed the car to go home.

The trip went fast, only slowed down by road construction we hit in Indiana. We dropped Andy off at his car and he went and returned our flat tire and picked the dog up from the kennel. The rest of the day was spent laying around and going to bed early for the boys. They were ready to be home with their familiar things and some sort of schedule.
End of our vacation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Va-cay part 2: Shedd Aquarium

Day two of our vacation took us to downtown Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. Everyone was up bright and early (thank you eastern standard time!), so we were able to leave the hotel by 9am. We got downtown okay, missed our turn, had to turn around and got a flat tire! Thank goodness for Andy and the doughnut we had to put on the car. We circled back around, missed our turn again and then, finally, made it to the parking garage. How fun to find out that the exit to garage took us right by the Bears Pro Shop! Andy was in heaven! (did I mention that we were right by Soldier Field)

Outside Shedd, trying to get a picture of the boys. It didn't work out so well.

We looked at fish! I think the boys liked it. They seemed interested in all the different aquariums. We got to see a couple different displays-Amazon waters, beluga whales, dolphins-very cool.

We ate lunch at a restaurant in the museum. We knew it was a "nice" restaurant when the server brought Andy's ice tea in a carafe and we had cloth napkins to use :-) (the boys said, "What are these?" "Napkins boys"). We ordered and they brought the food to us. We sat by the window and looked out on Lake Michigan.

Biggest hit of the day, the Polar Play area in what seemed to be the basement of the Aquarium. There was a submarine there the kids could play in. The boys loved it and played and caught up other kids there in their game.

I bet we stayed at Shedd for 4 hours. Then, the boys started getting tired and whiney and were ready to go. They thought it was cool that there were so many seagulls around.

They walked through a sculpture.

Andy got a couple photos of part of Soldier Field. Go Bears!

We took the "scenic" way back to the hotel so that we wouldn't have to drive too fast on the doughnut tire. We got to see some "interesting" suburbs. Andy dropped us off at the hotel and then went to get the tire fixed (thank you Walmart for being open on a Sunday afternoon!). We Andy got back, we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant recommended by the hotel. Hoy's Restaurant was delicious! They gave us a ton of food and were patient with the boys. If we lived up there, I would go back to that restaurant often. After dinner, it was back to hotel, a bath for Liam and swimming for the other boys. Then, a movie in bed for the boys. They didn't hear the thunderstorm carrying on outside.
End day 2.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the Shaffers took a va-cay: part 1-the cousins' reunion

On the road again! What can I say, we like to travel :-)! This weekend, we went to the Spielman cousin reunion (my family) north of Chicago. This is the third year we've gone. It's fun to see some of my family that I only see once a year. This year, we trusted Google maps to direct us on our way. Google decided, the best way for us to go was on I-90, through downtown Chicago. Of course, we got stuck in some traffic, but had time to snap a photo of the skyline. Beautiful! I love Chicago!

We got to the reunion in time for a little bit of cornhole fun. (Andy and Joe W. playing)

We found out that my brother has a tattoo! (hope you know Mom)

The little "cousins" (really, I call all relatives that I don't know the exact title to "cousin") played some games-egg hunt, tag, water balloon toss, sack races. My Aunt Roseann (pictured) kept everyone rewarded with Tootsie Roll candy (since she works there).

Managed to snag a picture of most of the young cousins. In order, it looks like Xander, Joey, Marcus, Cale, Hunter and Ewan. Liam wasn't feeing a photo-he was kind of cranky the entire day. My actual cousin's (Megan) daughter Catherine wasn't in the photo, which was too bad. She is around the same age as Cale as was so excited to see him again. I guess she was talking about how much fun she had playing with him last year and couldn't wait to see him again. Isn't that funny? I mean, they only see each other once a year and just for a few hours and she remembers him. Cute.

The "cousins that came". The Spielman cousins that is-Megan with Natalie (4 mos.), me and Jim (with his tattoo)

So we stayed till around dinner and then left for the hotel, an hour south of the reunion. Andy got a killer deal on Priceline-$30 a night for 2 nights at a Courtyard Marriot. It was a toss-up whether we would get a suite or a regular room. We got a regular room and had to make up a place for Liam to sleep. I got this idea from another blog I had read once. I stored it away for future use.

We brought a sheet and a nail gun and stapled the sheet to the back of the thing in front of the drapery-I can't remember what it's called. It's kind of like we made a tent for the pack-n-play.

Liam did great with it. And, because he was so tired since he hardly napped, he was asleep in ten minutes. I put Liam to bed while Andy took the other boys swimming. They came back, watched a video (I swear, the portable DVD player is the best invention in the world!) and fell right to sleep.
End day 1.

P.S. One funny story that had Andy and I laughing so hard happened on the way up. We had just left a McDonalds and gotten on the interstate. Andy had just taken the boys to the bathroom-we were not stopping until we got the the reunion. I'm not kidding, 2 minutes into the drive, Cale says "I have to go to the bathroom!" We say, "Cale, you just went!" "I have to poop now!" Marcus looks at Cale and says "Just suck it in!" We cracked up! Where did he learn that phrase-not from us! We did stop soon after at a rest area for Cale.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

a Cale anecdote

Cale hates his vegetables. Holy cow, he acts like it's killing him when we tell him he has to eat, like, 4 green beans or one carrot. Case and point, tonight for dinner, Andy served the boys raw carrots and ranch dressing as their veggie. Andy specifically told Cale that he would not be able to play his gameboy (everyone has one now) until he ate his 1 carrot. HALF AN HOUR LATER, Cale has manage to eat his 1 BABY carrot. Okay, now he can get up and leave the table-everyone else having finished their food probably 15 minutes ago. Cale goes outside and is acting a little secretive. Andy investigates. Cale has not swallowed his carrot! He has it chewed up in his mouth! A little gross, I know. But, that is how stubborn Cale can be. Where does he get that from? It can't be me, can it? It must be the red hair. But, I guess he gets that from me too...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a golden birthday

Happy 7th birthday to Marcus today! It's his golden birthday-7 on the 7th. At bedtime tonight, I asked Marcus if he had a good birthday and he said "I absolutely did." How sweet! How did he spend his day? Well, Andy took him to play laser tag this morning. Marcus had a good time and Andy got the high score award in the third game. (Andy was also the oldest player in the group by "about 20 years"-his words) After "nap time", it was time to have cake and open presents. Liam missed out-he was the only boy actually napping-we don't think he noticed. Here is the cake. I tried to get everything in gold-the balloons, tablecloth, cake and cake deocr. You may see the 2 gold-ish Bakugan on the cake with the gold candles. We also wrote Marcus's name with gold frosting as well as the awesome huge gold seven.

This was probably Marcus's favorite gift-a Gameboy Advance. He loved playing on his cousin's Gameboy and was begging for one for his birthday. We found them at a used electronics store along with the games. He's pretty happy....

Andy and Marcus

Mommy and Marcus-I told him would probably hold him like a baby until he was in high school :-)

Singing Happy Birthday-the other boys were already sitting down, waiting for cake-that's why you don't see them in the video.
Seven things we love about our Marcus.....
1. He plays great with Liam (who adores him)
2. He likes to read and likes when we print off math papers for him to do.
3. He has memorized all the books of the Old Testament and is now working on Psalm 23
4. He still likes to snuggle down and play with my hair
5. He likes to be active and play sports-right now he and Cale are doing T-ball with the YMCA
6. He likes to be a leader with other kids
7. He wants to be good at everything-I see a budding perfectionist
This past year he...
*played organized soccer for the first time (with Daddy as the coach)
*was a "hive leader" in his first grade class
*got an award at basketball camp for winning a relay race
*has greatly increased in reading ability
*is still drinking his milk warm and still has a strip of his baby blanket in bed with him
We are so thankful for Marcus and have been truly blessed to have him as our first-born. These years have been a joy with him. We are excited to see what the next year will bring!

Seven years of Marcus!

From 2006

From 2007

From July2008

From July22009