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!!
I know what you’re thinking…Easter in August? Really? I know, it is ridiculous that I’m just getting around to writing about it. And the fact that this post is completely out-of-order kind of drives me nuts. But write about it…I shall. I love these pictures and memories too much not to post them into history on the blog!
So what do Easter and pirates have in common? Typically, I’d say nothing. But this particular Easter at our house they had everything to do with each other. Ben is really into pirates right now. It all started when he saw a show on TV called Jake and The Never Land Pirates. It’s a cartoon about Jake and his buddies Izzy and Cubby and their journeys throughout Never Land to find hidden treasures while their nemesis Captain Hook and his sidekick Mr. Smee try to spoil their plans. One day I asked Ben who he’d rather be…the hero, Jake, or the villain, Captain Hook? Without hesitation (and a little to my surprise) he replied, “Captain Hook!” When I asked him why he said, “Because Captain Hook always gets all of the toys!” Nice, Ben, real nice!
So back to Easter. The day before Easter I picked up a couple of pirate swords and some gold doubloons (that’s pirate talk for gold coins), and I made a treasure chest out of a cardboard box and some construction paper. After an amazing Sunday morning Easter service at our church (you should check out this link… http://www.northlandchurch.net/media/easter_christ_is_risen/ … it is our worship team singing Matt Maher’s song Christ Is Risen) we hid eggs stuffed with gold doubloons in the front yard so that the boys could have an Easter Egg Treasure Hunt!
Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt
A couple of weeks before Easter we took the boys to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in our neighborhood. It was Jude’s first egg hunt and first time meeting the Easter Bunny. You may recall Ben’s first meeting with the Easter Bunny:
Jude’s wasn’t much different:
This is the best shot I got. I love how Ben is trying to console Jude. But even with his big brother nearby, Jude was having none. of. it. They called Ben and Jude’s age groups down for the hunt soon after I snapped this picture. Our plan was to return to the clubhouse and at least let Ben take a picture with the bunny by himself, but when we returned after the hunt the Easter Bunny had left the building. So sorry Ben.
After the hunt, Ben quickly made his way over to a grassy area to inspect his loot. He was thrilled to find that of the many eggs he had collected, most were filled with candy (the others were filled with stickers, temporary tattoos or little toys). So while Ben was devouring his candy, Jude was completely content to sit beside him and dump out his basket of eggs, refill said basket and repeat. Here’s a fun picture progression of the action.
No community party is complete without Ben getting his face painted. He chose the gator. Jake decided if Ben was going to have a gator painted on his face it should at least be wearing a University of Arkansas t-shirt!
I saved the questions below from a cute interview a friend posted on Facebook between her and her daughter back in 2009. I’ve been waiting to interview Ben (and one day Jude) and I thought today would be the perfect occasion! I changed the original version from questions about “mom” to questions about “dad”. So here it goes…my interview with Ben (age 3) on Father’s Day!
1. What is something dad always says to you? Clean up your toys.
2. What makes dad happy? Cleaning up my toys! (Can you tell that teaching Ben to pick up his toys is a BIG deal around our house right now?!? At age 18 months the kid LOVED to sing the “clean up” song and pick up his toys, at age three he acts as if he’d rather get in trouble and have them taken away than clean them up the first time he’s asked! People weren’t kidding when they said the third year is hard!!)
3. What makes dad sad? Hitting daddy.
4. How does your dad make you laugh? He says, “Skippy!” (At the library a few weeks ago, we checked out a Skippyjon Jones book for the first time…Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones to be exact. He loves this book so much we read it at nap time and bed time and he pretty much has the entire thing memorized. He’ll make sure to correct you even if you get a “the” out of place and he quotes it ALL the time.)
5. What was your dad like as a child? He was a daddy.
6. How old is your dad? One, Two, Three, Four (holding up another finger each time he counts), FIVE! (Ben thinks turning five is the coolest. He tells us all the time, “I’m three and I’m in the 3’s class, then I’ll be four and I’ll be in the 4’s class, then I’ll be FIVE and I’ll be in the 5’s class!!” He’s referring to being moved up to a new classroom each year at our church…he just got moved to the 3’s class at the beginning of June.)
7. How tall is your dad? This much bigger. (Showing me with his hands…one is on the ground and he’s stretching the other one as high as he can in the air.)
8. What is his favorite thing to do? Play.
9. What does your dad do when you’re not around? He plays by himself.
10. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for? For presents.
11. What is your dad really good at? At playing “bad birds”. (He’s referring to a recent game Jake downloaded on his iPhone called “Angry Birds”.
12. What is your dad not very good at? At playing hard games.
13. What does your dad do for his job? He works at Northland. (Northland is the name of our church…Jake does not work there. But, we were just there for church this morning so he must have Northland on his mind.) 🙂
14. What is your dad’s favorite food? Peanuts. (This answer made me laugh only because we don’t really eat peanuts all that much. Funny that he would pick peanuts of all the foods available to choose from.)
15. What makes Daddy proud of you? Cleaning up my toys again! (I wasn’t kidding was I?!? See Q&A #1 and #2)
16. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be? He would be a puppet.
17. What do you and your dad do together? Play a race. (He’s referring to the Wii game “Mario Cart”…it’s always a special treat!!)
18. How are you and your dad the same? You and Daddy are alike. Jude is like me.
19. How are you and your dad different? I am short and Daddy is tall.
20. How do you know your dad loves you? On Jesus Christ. (I’m not entirely sure what he’s trying to say here, but I think it’s cool that he mentions Jesus when asked a question about love.)
21. Where is your dad’s favorite place to go? To the sandwich shop. (When Jake runs out to grab lunch for us on special occasions, Ben loves to tag along!)
Happy Father’s Day, Jake! You are such an amazing daddy to Ben and Jude! Thank you for leading and teaching them by example about what it means to be a man and a father! We love you muy much! 🙂
A Father’s Day post wouldn’t be complete without giving a big shout out to my dad too! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thank you for being such a wonderful dad and friend! We are blessed to have you in our lives! We love you lots!
p.s. Wasn’t this such a fun day at the beach!?! It is one of my favorites!!
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!
At the beginning of the year, we had a special visit from Jake’s brother, Matt and his wife, Yvonne. They had tickets to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans for the Arkansas vs. Ohio State football game and decided to take a little detour to Florida on the way! I love this picture of the all the boys! This was the first morning after they arrived. Ben and Jude were sooo excited to see their aunt and uncle!
In the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, Matt and Yvonne headed down to the parks for the spectacular fireworks show. I heard a clip on the news that day that said New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days of the year at the parks! That being said (and the fact that we’d just gotten back into town and had no babysitter lined up for the boys) we opted to stay in for the evening. Although it was crazy crowded, Matt and Yvonne seemed to really enjoy the show! I think it will be a lot of fun to take the boys there when they get older!!
On New Year’s Day we stopped by the mall to ride the train (of course!) before eating lunch and checking out some of the after-Christmas sales!
The following evening our babysitter came to watch the boys while we enjoyed a night out to dinner and a movie. First, we headed to the theater to watch the latest film in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We all really liked it! Next, we ate a late, but very tasty dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Seasons 52.
Yvonne bought Ben some really fun projects to work on while they were here. All of them involved painting and Ben was all over it! He loves to paint! So on the morning before they left, Yvonne and Ben painted an airplane, a dragon and a picture frame! Ben thought they all turned out super cool! Thanks, Yvonne!!
Matt and Yvonne, Thanks so much for coming to visit! We hope to see you all out on the West Coast this Fall!
The night before we flew home from Arkansas in December, Jake and I took the boys to their first ever Razorback basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville! Opi, Hunter, Tim, Candice, and Laci also joined us and we all had a great time!
Walking from “The Pit” to the arena. Two of my favorite things about this picture…1.) Laci, Hunter and Ben holding hands and 2.) Laci’s pig tails…they’re absolutely adorable!! The kids were all so excited about the big game that they didn’t seem to mind the long, cold walk to the arena.
Finding tickets. So we didn’t exactly have all the tickets we needed when we arrived at the game. Ben was eager to help out by proudly displaying four little fingers. I mean, really, who could turn him down?!? We quickly found tickets, made our way inside and grabbed our seats just in time for the tip-off!
Snacking on concession food! Ben loves popcorn and he and Hunter are sharing a box of it in this pic. He also munched on nachos and a hot dog! A couple of times I heard Ben holler out “defense” even when we had the ball and he’d clap anytime anyone on our team or the opposing team scored a basket!
Cheering on our team! I wasn’t sure how Jude would hold up considering game time was his normal bedtime. But, in typical Jude fashion he was pretty chilled out and quite content to hang out on Opi’s lap. (This picture really doesn’t show just how excited he was…he was bouncing, clapping and letting out little squeals for most of the game!) I’m pretty sure he was in Hog heaven and happy to be out and about with all of us!
And the most anticipated event of the evening…
meeting Sue E.
and Big Red!!
(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!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Ben’s preschool class celebrated Valentine’s Day last Thursday by exchanging cards and small goodie bags. This year we opted for homemade Valentine’s Day gifts. We took our inspiration from a car show that Jake and Ben stumbled upon while out running errands one Saturday afternoon. Jake just so happened to snap some cute shots of Ben standing by various cars and trucks and I thought they’d make great Valentine’s Day cards! So, I let Ben pick out three of his favorite photos, we printed them, glued them to colored card stock and then wrote some catchy little Valentine’s Day phrases on them.
Here are the photos and phrases we used…
“My heart REVS for you!”
“Have a MONSTER sized Valentine’s Day!”
“Glad you DROVE into my life, Valentine!”
A special card just for his teachers…
“You make life SWEET!” (This is a photo from Ben’s Christmas party in December. That’s his teacher Mrs. H on the left and the assistant Mrs. B on the right. We absolutely LOVE them both! They are really REALLY wonderful!)
Ben decorated the back of each card with Valentine’s stickers and we attached each one to a bag of homemade chocolate dipped pretzels with heart sprinkles.
Ben had so much fun acting as the “sprinkler”. His philosophy…some for me, some for you. Each time he sprinkled a chocolate covered pretzel, he sprinkled his mouth! I got the pretzel inspiration from my sister-in-law. She made these for Christmas and Ben loved them! Thanks, Candice!
The finished products! Ben was really excited to hand these out to his friends!
The day after Thanksgiving we surprised Ben and Jude with a special package. Inside the package Ben found a scout elf sent to us by Santa Claus himself straight from the North Pole. Thankfully our scout elf came with an instruction manual. Here are a few things we learned: The scout elf acts as Santa’s eyes and ears observing children and sending “naughty and nice” reports back to him during the Christmas season. The elf was under orders not to speak to the boys and the boys had to follow one simple rule…they were not allowed to touch the elf or his Christmas magic might disappear. Our elf was in hibernation in his box until we adopted him. As soon as we opened the box and gave him a name he received his Christmas magic. What is his name? Well, we let Ben name him. When we asked Ben what we should call the elf he, without any hesitation, exclaimed, “Frickie!” And there you have it…a new Christmas family tradition began.
So each night after the boys would go to bed, Jake and I would find a new place for Frickie to reside for the next day. And every morning Ben would wake up and hunt around the house until he found him. Can you find him in the picture above? Oh, yes, there he is…observing meal times from the light fixture! On this particular afternoon the boys were sitting at the table while I finished making lunch when I heard Ben in typical bossy big brother fashion shout, “Nu uh! That’s naughty, Jude! You can’t thow your sippy cup from the table. Santa won’t bring you any presents!” I had a good laugh there in the kitchen and over lunch I explained to Ben that Jude wasn’t quite old enough to know any better. We really enjoyed having Frickie in our home this Christmas season (he even traveled to Arkansas with us), but for now he’s “hibernating” in our attic until next year!
p.s. Want to know more about scout elves? Check out http://www.elfontheshelf.com/#/home