Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bike Ride Redeemed

It has been HOT, HOT, HOT. So when the temperature only got to the high 80's, 
we decided to try out a bike ride. We really wanted an active family outing. 
 What did we learn? High 80's is still hot especially without shade. 
We had some unhappy participants, but we pushed on. 
We biked at a new location that is an office park. 
The only traffic we saw was other more serious bikers. 
 What an unexpected and welcome surprise to see a sprinkler head malfunctioning!
 We may have gone through it more then once. ;) How refreshing!
Amazing how the grumbling stopped. 

 And then we found a worksite. The boys are still very enthused by dirt and big trucks.

A little off roading was a great way to end our ride; followed by popsicles at home. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Champs

Both Aaron and Ethan qualified for summer champs, so as soon as the regular season was over we started a week of focused practice for the two of them. From a learning perspective, it was really cool. Aaron worked several days one on one with a coach on his butterfly stroke. There were less kids and the opportunity to work on refining starts, turns, and stroke skills. They had fun too!
On the last day they had donut relays. They were each given a donut and had to swim the length of the pool keeping the donut dry. Then they had to eat the donut before the next relay swimmer could start. It was hilarious to watch. 
 Yikes! Don't choke Aaron. 

 Finally it was time for our two day champs swimming marathon. All the teams gathered in the big tents seen below. When the swimmers events were called they reported to the clerk of course. Then we went inside to wait for the event. 
We spared Luke and Irina from hanging out in the hot tent, 
and they spent the two days with friends and family. 
You can see how bored Aaron and Ethan look. 

Ethan swam in the 50 meter backstroke, 50 meter freestyle, 
50 meter butterfly and a freestyle relay team.
 Aaron swam in 3 relay medleys (1 butterfly, 2 freestyle). 
He also swam in a 25 meter butterfly and 25 meter freestyle. 
It was two loud, overstimulating, hot, and fabulous days!
Personally, I loved the competitive fever in the pool area 
and got butterflies in my stomach before each of their races. 
They did well and most importantly enjoyed the thrill of competition. 
Pizza dinner after the last day of champs. The coaches presented all the ribbons and medals. 
Shh... don't tell anyone, but this Momma is living 
vicariously through these swimming kids. I love it! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2016


When we weren't celebrating birthdays in July, we were VERY busy with swim team. 
(and just trying to keep up with day to day chores and responsibilities.)
Our practice schedule kept us at the pool M-F from around 8-11am. 
Many days we would head back to the pool for playtime with friends in the afternoon. 
Ethan and Aaron liked to pretend they were assistant coaches.  I was a 
little concerned the coaches were irritated by their regular shadowing 
and close observation, but when I asked the coaches they said they didn't mind. 
The boys were very eager to watch the older kids and I think 
the coaches appreciated that they were always willing to help out. 
(Putting in lane lines, pulling in lane lines, gathering kick boards, etc..)
They especially liked belonging to a team and showing their team spirit. 

Swim meets were so much more fun with long time friends!
All four kids set goals they wanted to achieve by the last swim meet. Every one of them did it! 
 The reward was the opportunity to "pie" a coach at the swim team banquet. 
(The coaches were great sports to motivate the kids this way.) 
Irina thought it was too mean, so she opted out. ;) 
We did do other things in July... some painting...
and gathering with other girls. My good friend Jessica and I led a middle school girls Bible Study for 6 weeks on Thursday evenings. I'm so thankful I was invited to participate in this. Such a gift to study, prepare, and lead these girls alongside my friend. I think it may have blessed me more then them!

All this swimming and activity sure did tire them out. Although Aaron had a habit 
of relocating to my bed after we tucked him in his own bed at night. He's almost 
getting to big for me to carry back to his own bed at night. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ethan is 10

I should have known we were destined for ingenuity and creativity 
from my middle boy the day I looked back during our road trip and 
saw him stringing his cheerios on his shoe laces. 
He's the kid who can take apart a broken toy, figure out what's wrong and with some trial and error put it back together working! He has the confidence, determination, intelligence, and impulsiveness to not worry about getting into daddy's tools (even though he's been repeatedly told to ask before helping himself.)
Those big brown eyes can almost get him out of the trouble he stumbles into. ;) 
The past 10 years have been remarkable having him a part of our lives. 
He is passionate and expresses his likes and dislikes with fervor. I love him fiercely! 
He asked for a camera for his birthday as well as more art supplies. (Do you notice his favorite Doggie has been in many pictures for this post. I suppose Doggie is celebrating his 10th birthday too!)

On his birthday, both sets of grandparents were in town to celebrate. 
What could be better!
The requested chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. 

It was Ethan's year to have a birthday party. He decided he wanted a paint your own pottery party. I told him he could select four friends (in addition to his siblings). The day before his party, he told me he wanted to make fondant paint palettes to lay on the brownie cupcakes he made for the party dessert. What??! My little artist has very specific ideas and opinions. 
I had never made fondant before, but I indulged his whims. He promised he would do most of the work and he did.  I'm sure I did everything wrong, but that fondant was a sticky mess. Luke grabbed my camera and was cracking up at me trying to knead it. I let it sit overnight and this is what Ethan made. Not perfect, but he was pleased with himself. That's all that matters. 

The party was a success. I have no idea where the time went, but it just flew by.
Oh my dear Ethan, you are a treasured gift from God. 
Can't wait to see what God has planned for your future. 
I will love you forever!

Aaron is 8

My squishy, smiley, cuddly red headed baby turned 8 years old in July.
He's still smiley and snuggly, but definitely not squishy any more. 
His red hair is more strawberry blonde in the sunshine of summer. 
This boy of ours is charming, extremely affectionate (he gives the BEST hugs), is always trying to squeeze in more kisses at bedtime, and quick to learn. He fits many of the stereotypical "baby of the family" characteristics and golly he brightens my days. (Except for when he doesn't. ha! He has his moments like the rest of us.)

With Ethan and Aaron's birthdays being a day apart, they expressed an interest this year in not having a joint birthday party. Our new family birthday plan (oh, you know how I love a plan!) is to alternate between a party and a family outing. This applies for all the kids and of course they can always choose a family outing if they don't want a party. Aaron's family outing was to an indoor go-cart racing facility and he was pumped! 
Darin and I watched them and then did an adult race with the two of us. Darin surprise! :) So fun to see their personalities behind the wheel. I'm not going to name names, but one child was very careful to follow the rules posted and another crashed into the boundaries multiple times. Two others were aggressive and fearless. Maybe you can guess?

Aaron actually came in 1st in the second heat, followed by Ethan, Luke, and Irina.

He's growing like a weed and it won't be long before he catches up to Ethan in height. This coming school year will be the first for him to take classes away from home. He'll be taking 2 classes on Mondays at the homeschool academy the older boys attend. He's nervous, but he tends to approach all new activities that way. Give him a day and he'll be begging for more. 

The family outing was the day before his birthday leaving us plenty of space to just enjoy him on his actual birthday. He requested a fruit pizza for his birthday dessert. (sugar cookie bottom, with a cream spread, and fruit on top... google it. It's yummy!)
Happy Birthday Aaron! 
I hope you never stop throwing your arms around my neck. 
We love you to the moon and back!