If there’s something strange in your neighborhood…
Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!!
I mean, really? Who could be afraid of these two
scary adorable ghosts!!
and Ghostly Jude!!
Soccer Ben #17!!
Standing on one leg, balancing the other on a soccer ball while keeping your hands on your hips and smiling is no easy feat for a three-year old. It took a few tries, but he finally got it! I love how even with the extra-small jersey it still hangs on him. And look at those little shin guards and cleats…love this adorable soccer player!!
Team Galaxy!! (That’s Ben…first row on the far left sitting on the ball!)
At the beginning of Spring we thought it would be fun to let Ben try out soccer! A few of his buddies from our neighborhood also registered for the season and they were all put together on the same team. Team Galaxy!! As an added bonus one of our good friends David S. (a.k.a. Olivia’s daddy) was one of the coaches. Ben was beyond excited to play, but before he could begin we’d first need to pick up a few soccer necessities!
First up, soccer shoes. Finding soccer shoes in a 9.5 wide toddler size proved to be a little more challenging than expected. After a couple of trips to two different shoe stores we finally had to settle for a size 10 shoe and decided he’d just have to wear double socks. Next up, a soccer ball…he picked out a navy blue one. (For his age group they had to have a size 3 soccer ball…this was a great learning experience for me…I never even knew soccer balls even came in various sizes!!) Finally, shin guards. A more experienced soccer mom recommended I purchase the soccer socks with built-in shin guards versus a separate sock and shin guard and I’m so glad she did! When your three-year old can barely sit still because he is so excited to join his buddies out on the field, a two-in-one sock/shin guard combo is so much easier to slip on those squirmy little legs than trying to assemble the others. And once again, finding the shin guards proved to be a challenge. I stalked the sporting goods aisle for weeks at Target looking for shin guards before I found a peewee sized pair in black! Thankfully, the official team jersey was supplied by the soccer league!
Practices began at the beginning of March. At the time Ben was also taking ISR refresher lessons in our neighborhood. So every Thursday we’d leave ISR after his ten minute lesson, meet Jake back at the house and then head over to the soccer field for an hour of practice. Thankfully practice was held at a nice park just a few miles away! I should point out that Ben was the youngest on his team. He managed to meet the age deadline by only a few days! Watching practices was pretty interesting and quite comical at times. The coaches did their best to come up with fun and interesting ways to teach the kids the basics of soccer. Even so, Ben was often seen picking up the cones that marked the sidelines and wearing them on his head. During conditioning exercises (running sprints while kicking the soccer ball) Ben liked to take his time. He usually waited for the ball to stop before he’d kick it again and he only wanted to kick with his right foot! And, yes, there were even a few tears. During a scrimmage at practice one evening Ben came over to the sidelines crying. When I asked him what was wrong he told me the other team wouldn’t give him the ball to score. I told him this was his chance to actually take the ball away from his buddies (using feet only of course) and score! I’ll never forget the look on his face. He looked thrilled beyond belief that I’d just given him the okay to take a “toy” away from someone!
Finally, the first official game day had arrived! Ben seemed very excited. He was even sleeping with the soccer ball in his bed! When we arrived at the field on the morning of March 12th, Soccer Ben made time to pose for a picture with two of his biggest fans…Daddy and Jude!
Then he was happy to take his ball, run out on the field and warm up with his team. However when the whistle blew to start the game, he was content to watch from the sidelines while guzzling water from his water bottle. Seriously, the entire first half we couldn’t get him to step a foot on the field.
Bet you can’t guess what we did at half time? Yep, we made a trip to the potty. The kid had to pee! So I seized the opportunity for a pep talk. In a nutshell, I told him to think of it like a game of chase…all he needed to do was run after his teammates and if the ball came close to kick it toward the goal. Maybe the pep talk, but certainly his good buddy Bowen did the trick.
The two decided to hold hands and chase their friends together. I also love how Ben is #17 and Bowen is #18! So sweet!
The soccer stroller crew (a.k.a. the younger brothers and sisters) loved cheering for their team and eating snacks together!
The final count of the number of times Ben kicked the soccer ball during a game the entire season was three. They played eight games. So while he may not have been interested in kicking the ball, he was very much interested in having a lot of fun!! Mission accomplished! In this picture Ben and a few of his gal pals are enjoying a tea party smack dab in the middle of the playing field during a game!
And here he is playing goalkeeper. He loved wearing the special blue jersey that only goalkeepers get to wear. While no balls ever came his way, I’m confident that if they did he would have defended his team’s goal amazingly well!
They ended their season on May 21st with seven wins and only one loss (they lost the last game of the season). After the game we made our way over to some picnic tables for the end of season soccer party! The highlight of the soccer party was the presentation of a trophy and goodie bag for each player! Ben keeps his trophy on his dresser in his room. Every now and then he’ll ask to hold it and when he does he’ll tell us, “They gave me this trophy because I am the best soccer player!” And that’s the way he should feel! Well done, Soccer Ben, well done!
I just so happened to save Ben’s little t-shirt from the St. Patty’s Day right after he turned one. As luck would have it (it is St. Patrick’s Day after all), it was the perfect fit (size 12-18 months) for Jude to wear today! I couldn’t resist putting Jude in the back of the same dump truck and snapping a few pictures. Love love LOVE the comparison shots…so cute that they are both waving!
Staff Appreciation. This year Ben’s preschool implemented a new monthly Staff Appreciation. Ben’s class was responsible for hosting one day during the month of March…we picked today! All of the parents signed up to bring lots of yummy “green” treats! We had such a great time putting this together…everything turned out super cute! It was a fun way to honor all of the wonderful people who make a difference in the lives of our children each day!
The Spread. We served muffins adorned with green shamrocks, cupcakes with green frosting, fruit salad, mini quiches from Panera Bread, munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts, sweet tea and green punch. If you’re looking for a green punch recipe check out this one. I made it for the first time today and it turned out great! A couple of recommendations…don’t add any of the sugar it calls for (it’s already sweet enough) and add some lime sherbet. You won’t be disappointed! A few other favs from the day…the round paper decor hanging from the ceiling, the green flower bouquet and a “pot of gold” for each staff member (little black pots filled with Hershey’s kisses)!!
Leftovers. While the mommies cleaned up at the end of the day, the kiddos did a little “clean-up” of their own. They sipped on punch and ate cupcakes, and they enjoyed every. second. of. it! (I snapped this pic on my phone. I know, the quality is terrible, but the pic is too cute not to post. From left to right: Anabella, Will, Miles, Madison and Ben.) They are all classmates! They are also the usual suspects that make it out on all the class play dates so it’s been fun to get to know them and their mommies outside of the classroom. We love our friends!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Ben turned three years old on February 26th! We celebrated his special day in the cul-de-sac in front of our house with family and friends and a train to pull us all! We had a magnificent time!
As the kids boarded the train we handed out engineer hats and whistles! They got to take them home along with train-shaped rice krispie treats (as seen on the table). We made the rice krispie treats, cut each one with a train cookie cutter, wrapped them in cellophane bags and tied a ribbon around them. We even put some of the treats on lollipop sticks and used them as decorations. They turned out super cute! We also set up a sand table and train table for the kids to play with when they weren’t riding the train!
The train was a hit! It seemed that the adults enjoyed riding it just as much as the kids. It was actually quite relaxing…I know…a toddler birthday party and “relaxing” typically don’t go together, but seriously, the train was fantastic! There was a light breeze blowing through the little train windows and the train played music. It was fun to just sit back and enjoy the company of the other passengers on board!
Some of my favorite things about the party…
The pom poms (as seen hanging above the entrance by the gift table)! Candice made them by taking ten sheets of tissue paper, folding them accordion style, tying a ribbon around the center and then fluffing them into pom poms.
The kids’ tables and chairs! I went back and forth about whether or not to use these cute little tables and chairs and I’m so thankful I did! I hesitated to even bother setting them up because I didn’t know if the kids would actually sit down to eat, but they did…we used them a lot!
The train engine! We also tried to carry the train engine from the invitations throughout the decorations for the party. The day before the party I started having second thoughts about the pull-apart train cake I had ordered. It seemed to be a little more cartoon-like than engine-like. Just hours before the store closed for the evening, I changed the order to red and blue cupcakes. That night I bought a train engine die-cut craft punch, a circle craft punch, lots of card stock and some lollipop sticks from Micheal’s. Candice and I spent most of the night (and early morning…try 4 am) making cupcake toppers and finishing up the rest of the decorations. Thank you, Candice. I couldn’t have pulled it off without you! A big thanks to Tim and Jake too…they were very helpful as we instructed them on where to “hang this” and “put that there” while setting up everything outside for the big day!
My most favorite thing about the day…the birthday boy, of course! Here’s a cute clip of him blowing out his candles!
Another favorite…the little round revolving metal cake stand Ben’s cupcake is sitting on in the video. It plays the “Happy Birthday to you” tune. It was my mom’s and she used to play it at our birthday parties! Love love LOVE that I get to share it with my kids!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Ben! We love you!
Since I had so many photos I thought I’d show the rest of the party in a slideshow. Enjoy!
A little sidenote: I found most of my inspiration for Ben’s party from these two websites. Check them out…you will be inspired too!
(I know…I’m posting about Christmas in February…)
Back in December, the Family Events Committee put on the annual holiday party for all the kids in our neighborhood. The kids sang Christmas carols while they waited for Santa to arrive. And arrive he did, on a fire truck!! (Don’t forget to turn up the volume to hear the cute carols!)
This was Ben’s first official meeting with Santa! I wasn’t sure if he’d be scared to meet him this year, but as you can see he was very eager to make his way to the front of the crowd! Before we left for the party I asked Ben what he was going to tell Santa he wanted for Christmas. “Guido, Luigi, and the Leakless Truck,” he replied. Forget about even letting Santa sit down, Ben was ready to give him his wish list right away!
There was plenty to do at this party: a DJ played music for the kids to dance to and he led them in some fun games; craft tables were set up for kids to make Christmas ornaments and decorate sugar cookies; and there was lots of yummy food to eat. While Ben had fun doing all of these cool things, this window seal overlooking the lake below is where he and a few of his buddies (Kaden, Sophia and Kailyn) enjoyed playing the most while the party boomed on behind them.
And just in case Santa forgot, Ben sat on his lap and reminded him one more time about the things he’d like most for Christmas! (Is anybody with me on this one or does Santa seem just a bit…odd? I know he’s missing his glasses and all, but we all felt Santa was just a little, well, strange. When referring to Santa, I overheard a party goer say, “All he’s missing is his bottle of whiskey!”)
Jude was well into his morning nap when the Christmas party started so when he woke up, Jake brought him up for a visit with Santa.
We managed to get both of the boys to sit together on Santa’s lap for half a second. I love their cute smiles in this pic (even if Ben is covering most of his mouth with his hands)!
Oh, and did I mention face painting? Ben chose the tiger design!! He’s very into tigers these days. He loves the book Rumble in the Jungle because it has a tiger that goes “Grrr”! Every time we get to that page Ben pretends to put his finger in the tiger’s mouth and we have to make pretend noises like the tiger is eating his finger. Funny, that boy!
The day Ben’s preschool let out for Christmas break they put on a small presentation in the corridor right outside their classroom for all the parents. The older preschool kids put on a much larger Christmas production in the church sanctuary, but since Ben is only in the 2’s class they scale it way back for the little ones. Ben is considered to be in the “older 2’s” class based on the date of his birthday so that’s his class you see standing up behind the “younger 2’s” class sitting in the chairs. I should also note that I was only able to record a little (and I mean a little) bit of the actual singing because my camera memory card ended up being full. Bummer, I know. I even made sure to clear all the pictures from the card the night before, I guess I just had more video on it than I thought. The good news is that my friend Steph (the one you’ll see in the video) did get all of it filmed so I hope to get a copy from her and I’ll try to get it posted here at some point! Anyway, Ben did a great job! The first song they sang was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…I love his little twinkling fingers!
After the big show we mingled with Ben’s classmates and their parents while munching on muffins and juice! Before we left, Ben handed out these little bags of cookies to his classmates…
…and he delivered boxes of homemade fudge to his teachers, the office staff and security personnel!
This homemade fudge is to die for! I just so happened to have the Food Network Channel on one lazy Saturday afternoon while Ben napped and Jude played on the floor next to me. The show Dessert First with Anne Thornton came on and she was making her Fabulous Fudge recipe. I grabbed a pen and jotted it down while she cooked. Here it is…you should tuck this one away for next Christmas…it’s yummy and so so so simple!
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
In sauce pan combine sweetened condensed milk, milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir to make sure condensed milk coats chocolate chips. Stir in pinch of salt. Put on stove and heat stirring frequently. When melted remove from heat. Add vanilla and walnuts. Stir to coat walnuts. Pour into foil lined pan and smooth out. Let fudge come to room temperature then put in refrigerator for three hours. Remove from pan, cut and serve. Enjoy!
Ben kicked off Jake’s birthday weekend by surprising him with balloons at work on Friday. I can’t even tell you how excited Ben was about making this special delivery. I also can’t remember the number of times Ben reminded me about going to pick out the balloons. Jake brought them home with him at the end of the day…Ben’s been playing with them ever since.
After the balloon surprise we took Jake out to eat lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Amura. A Bubba roll for Jake and a boxed lunch of chicken teriyaki for me. Yummy! Ben scarfed down Subway and enjoyed a special cookie treat while Jude played happily in his Bumbo. It was a wonderful lunch!
I’d like to note here that I would have posted this earlier, but we had to make ourselves scarce around the house today while Jake reviewed his study materials one last time for the CPA exam he’ll take tomorrow afternoon. We found out about a week ago that he passed the second section, Regulation!! Two down, two to go. Please pray that he’ll pass the Auditing section tomorrow! He’s also scheduled to take the fourth (and hopefully final) section of the exam on November 30th! While Jake was studying, we met up with some friends from Ben’s preschool class at Leu Gardens. Madison, Miles and Ben had a ball chasing after the butterflies in the butterfly garden, smelling (and picking) the roses in the rose garden and playing chase in the open fields. This afternoon Ben said, “Mommy, Miles is my best friend. He talks louder and louder and louder!” They loved being loud together today and playing tackle!!
After Jake finished his studying for the day and both boys took good afternoon naps, a few friends and neighbors arrived to help celebrate Jake’s birthday. The weather has been beautiful around here lately! So, we asked everyone to bring their favorite lounge chair and outside toy and we had a party in the cul-de-sac. The kids rode their bikes and motorized toys, splashed in the water table and colored on the sidewalks with chalk. We at pizza, cupcakes and killer cake and toasted to Jake on his special day!
So I guess there are just two words left to say, “Traditional Transitional!” (hee hee hee…just kidding) “Happy Birthday!” Jake, you are a wonderful husband and father! We love you!!
Oh, and another thing…Ben made this for you before he went to bed. He was adamant about singing Happy Birthday one more time so I thought I’d film it!
And another thing…Happy Birthday to Jake’s cousin, Derek!! We hope you had a wonderful day!!
And another thing…Congratulations to Jake’s cousin, Shannon and her family…today they welcomed Savannah Reed Sellinger. Born at 8:43. 7 lbs 11 oz, 18.5 inches long AND to my cousin Molly and her family…they welcomed a baby BOY today! Molly was told she was having a girl and, surprise, she had a boy! What an exciting day!
And another thing…just kidding!! That’s all folks!
We decided to enroll Ben in Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) class this summer. For those of you not familiar with ISR you should check out their website here, but in a nutshell it teaches aquatic survival skills. So at the end of April, lessons began and for the next eight weeks for ten minutes every evening Ben had a one-on-one lesson with Mrs. Rhonda. Ben LOVES Mrs. Rhonda! Here’s the incredible thing, Ben went from crying and screaming, “Help! Help!” the first week to THIS at his graduation…
Pretty amazing, huh!?! I should point out that in the graduation video above he had to come fully dressed with a regular diaper and tennis shoes. He weighed a TON when we took him out of the water!! No floaties allowed either. The intent is to simulate a child accidentally falling into a body of water. In order to graduate he had to swim for a short distance, then roll onto a back float position to get a breath, and then turn back over to swim again in search of an exit.
Another really cool thing about the swim lessons, we met some really awesome people in our neighborhood! Steve and Kara opened their home to us (and four other families) every night during lessons. They let the kids play in their house, loaned us dry clothes and fed us on many occasions. Here’s their kids, Kaden and Kylie, greeting Ben in their usual fashion before swim lessons. They have become great friends!
And if all of that wasn’t cool enough, Mrs. Rhonda had a super-duper special surprise the night Ben graduated…a visit from a fire truck!!! It turns out that her husband is a firefighter so she pulled a few strings and had some of the men drive the truck over to Steve and Kara’s house. It was complete pandemonium when they pulled up. Ben was elated! Real firefighters AND a real fire truck! He got to tour the truck, sit in the driver’s seat, and wear a firefighter badge!
Okay, so maybe it’s more like…sittin’ on a table…s-l-e-e-p-i-n-g!! Lucy’s mommy, Jenn, and I call them boyfriend and girlfriend. Lucy was born just two weeks before Jude and here they are at their first playdate together!!
We decided the table was the best place for the babies in order to keep them safe from their older siblings. Meet Elle and Ben! Don’t let the “calmly coloring at the table while sitting ever so sweetly in our chairs” picture fool you. For those of you that know…hmm…how can I best describe it…how active Ben is…Elle is the female equivalent. It works out quite nicely because they play wonderfully together. We met them at our neighborhood playgroup when Elle was eight months old and Ben had just turned one. It’s so much fun watching them grow up together!
On Saturday morning we made our way down to the clubhouse for the annual neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. Before the hunt began we enjoyed some yummy snacks while talking and playing with friends, neighbors and (drum roll, please) the EASTER BUNNY! Many of you might remember Ben’s encounter with the Easter Bunny last year. He wanted nothing to do with that bunny! This year it was a complete 180. Ben LOVED the Easter Bunny. LOVED him! From the moment Ben spotted him, he followed the bunny around everywhere. If we wanted to find Ben all we had to do was look for the large furry white mammal with big ears and a fluffy tail and there was our Ben. We laughed and said that Ben was stalking the Easter Bunny. I begin to worry that the other kids (and parents) were going to get upset because Ben was literally next to or in the bunny’s face at all times…not really allowing for much face time with the bunny for all of the other kids. Thankfully, no one seemed to mind a bit and Ben was polite enough to step aside so that others could take pictures with the bunny too!
Ben couldn’t wait for the hunt to begin downstairs on the back lawn. He kept asking Jake to take him downstairs and Jake kept telling him “no” since it wasn’t time for the hunt to begin. So what did our sweet boy do? He asked the Easter Bunny of course…over and over and over again. “Bunny, go downstairs?” Thankfully bunnies don’t talk so all he could do was shrug his shoulders at Ben.
Finally, the much-anticipated hunt began!! Ben was quite the skilled egg hunter and filled up his entire basket! This is the best “hunting” picture I got. The boy was serious about hunting eggs! If I stopped for a second to talk with someone, Ben (and Jake) were gone. I actually lost them during the egg hunt for about 30 minutes!!
Once the hunt was over Ben was ready to check out his loot! We had stuffed some of the eggs with jellybeans and he was delighted to get to eat them. He kept asking for “more jellyfish please, Mommy!” Since the day of the egg hunt, Ben has been carrying his Easter basket full of empty plastic eggs around with him everywhere! We were playing in his room this afternoon when he stood up and said, “Be right back, Mommy.” And sure enough he did come right back with his Easter basket full of eggs in tow. We took them out of the basket, put them back into the basket, opened them, closed them, counted them and named them by color. I had no idea eggs could be this entertaining!
Just about every time we drive by the clubhouse now (which is often since we pass by it every time we enter and exit the neighborhood) Ben likes to point at it and say, “Ben hunt Easter eggs right there!”
Last Saturday my friend Christy S. hosted a shower for me with all of our girlfriends from the neighborhood. We had lots of fun chatting, eating, chatting some more, eating some more and opening sweet little baby presents. (Jen’s five-year old son, David, took the picture of us below. Nice work, little David!)
Fun baby Jude decorations! The candles were a gift from Christy for all of us to take home. They each had a tag that said, “Here is a candle for you to light once the stork has made its flight. With the flicker of its flame, please say a prayer in Jude’s name.”
Christy has been taking a cake decorating class. Here is the cake she made for the shower! It was delicious! She sent me home with some of the leftovers…it made the perfect midnight snack! Yummy!
If you’re on the hunt for a fun baby shower game, I’ve got one for you. Christy spelled out the baby’s first and middle names on the little bags below. She then filled each bag with a baby item that begins with that letter. She sealed them shut and we had to guess what was inside by only feeling the outside of the bags. We had a great time coming up with silly guesses! (It was a lot harder than we all thought it would be!)
And in closing, here are a couple of shower gifts I received from my friend and next door neighbor, Kristina (not pictured above). Her mom made these burp cloths and I think they are just adorable. My first baby item with Jude’s name on it!! And for Kristina to give me anything with a Razorback on it is truly amazing. This girl is a die-hard Gator fan! Check out the cuteness!