A Bit of Down Time and Father’s Day Traditions

We’ve been go, go, go for days and days now. There are always ebbs and flows in life, and recently I’ve really felt in over my head. To top it all off, I start work on Monday so cue crazed mommy!

Because it is Fathers Day this weekend and because it is my last weekend before starting work, we decided to schedule in some down time this weekend. We got to go to a fun birthday party in the morning, get in some outside play and a leisurely lunch. Then, we went on our annual Father’s Day weekend tradition…swimming!

We went to the Conestoga Rec Center, which has a pool with a warmer temp, water features, and a water slide. All four of us had a blast. Both of the boys said they loved going down the slide the best. Elias went down all on his own, and Simon could be heard giggling on mine or Nathan’s lap all the way down the slide!

Here are my boys in their annual before-swimming pose.

P1230041My boys are so lucky to have a Daddy who chooses a Father’s Day tradition that we can all participate in together.

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Baby James’ Baptism and A Building Dedication

Today we had some really great events we got to attend. We woke up and headed to Ama and Baba’s church to see baby James get baptized. Afterward, we headed to my parents house to celebrate.

Here’s the man of honor:

P1220997I couldn’t get him to smile for the picture, but he was all smiles before this when I was singing and playing with him.

P1230002All of his cousins got to help James open some gifts.

P1230005After most of the guests left we stayed for a bit of swimming. The boys had a blast.

P1230015P1230024Baby James even got in for a bit. It was his first experience with a swimming pool!

P1230014He wasn’t too impressed.

P1230016 P1230019Simon was curious. He fell in from this position and splashed James. James let us know that he  preferred to sit in the shade with Mommy.

P1230022After much fun was had we all ate lunch in the shade outside.

P1230029We went home for nap time and pretty much wished we had popsicles or something else cool to snack on. Then we headed to our own church for the dedication of the new office building.

The church was so hot we pretty much roasted alive. Simon’s head was literally soaking wet from sweat. He looked like he had been swimming. And of course…both boys wanted to sit on me. Oh the body heat!

But truth be told we made it through the service with relatively little disturbance. The boys did great. It was afterward that was tricky. There was a reception. The boys were hot, tired, and hungry, and Simon pretty much had a meltdown. He was crying and screaming and throwing strawberries. Ugghh!

Luckily, we were able to calm him down with some brownies and broccoli. (Who would have thought?) The rest of the evening was relatively uneventful.

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Side Yard Craziness

Nathan and I, being home-owning rookies, didn’t really look at our side yard from about October until March this last year. Last summer, we grew vegetables over there and it looked ok. There was a bit of moss, some dead leaves and plant debris, but it was ok. Leaving it unattended for six months was not a good idea. When we went out there in the spring the entire thing was pretty much covered with weeds and moss. We even had some wheat growing out there. Nathan joked we should just let it grow and try to get a federal subsidy. The place was a mess and we wanted to have a vegetable garden again. But it was just so much work and we didn’t have time or energy for it.

We finally buckled down and decided that we were going to get that side yard fixed this weekend no matter what! And…we chose the hottest weekend of the year so far! Friday evening we had my parents over for dinner so that we could discreetly use their babysitting powers to entertain the boys and put them to bed while we weeded for hours and hours. I wish I had taken a before picture, but didn’t think of it until we were almost finished. Here was the last small area before we weeded. Just keep in mind that this is basically what the entire 10 foot by 50 foot area looked like:

P1220978Don’t judge me too harshly. Remember we are yard rookies?

Anyway, we worked and worked discarding weed after weed on Friday night. We got the area cleared and ready.

On Saturday after swimming lessons, we borrowed my dad’s truck, picked up some bark dust, and got to work. Yes. We were shoveling bark dust in the 90 degree heat. Actually…Nathan wouldn’t let me shovel it because of my “delicate condition.” So he shoveled it all and I raked and spread it all.

Here are the boys helping get the bark of the truck. They were so proud and happy to help.

P1220970 P1220973We didn’t let them stay out working for long, though. After the bark was offloaded we sent them inside for nap time and quiet time.

After many hours of sweat and discomfort, we were finished. We are very pleased with the results!

P1220988 P1220990I think I may have the boys make some pavers or something for the area. We even saved this hosta plant that was being eaten alive by weeds! We can finally plant a few vegetables. I know it is a bit late in the season, but I don’t think it is too late yet!

There ended our crazy side yard adventure. Let’s just hope whatever weekend we decide to do the other side is not this hot!

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Is It Summer Yet?

Who cares if it isn’t officially June 21st yet….I’m declaring it officially summer. Preschool has been out for a couple of weeks. Spring rec classes have ended. Our house is as dark as a cave because we have all of the windows and blinds closed to keep out heat.

But how do I really know it is summer? (Besides the fact that we pretty much just want to lay on the hardwood floor in front of the fan?)

1. Splashes!

Look at the fun these boys are having. You really just can’t get this kind of picture unless they are having some summer fun.

P12209562. Slides

The boys were trying to slide off the deck with the slide so instead I had them slide into the pool. They had an absolute blast. The pictures only capture about a tenth of the fun they were having. And….you know it was really warm out because the water was splashed out of there so fast I eventually had to just keep the hose running into the pool so there was enough water for it to be safe. That water was freezing, but they didn’t care with all of the fun they were having.

P1220960 P12209623. Trees

Little boys climbing trees. I knew it would happen some day, but I was surprised it happened so soon. Elias has been expressing interest in this tree, and has stood on it’s lowest branch a few times. Yesterday, Nathan and I were in the side yard working and the boys were playing in the back. All of a sudden we heard, “Look how high I am!” If that doesn’t cause worry, I don’t know what would! We rushed around to see him actually in the tree. He wasn’t actually high enough to cause me any worry, but please don’t tell him that!

P12209854. Sunbathing

Look at this perfect spot Elias found on my parents’ wading pool this afternoon after swimming and before lunch. Could this spot not be more perfect? I wished it was me!

P1230026So there you have it. It’s summer!


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Our Grand Adventure – Part VII – The Wedding

Well we finally made it to the best day yet…the real reason we even came on this whole adventure…THE WEDDING DAY!!!!

I had to be over to the brides room early with all of the ladies so that we could begin getting ready. The boys got to sleep in and have a nice leisurely breakfast and some play time. I guess that is just one of the luxuries of being a man.

After I got my hair and make up done, there were still hours to go and a bunch of the girls still to get ready. Since I was finished other than getting dressed, I decided to go hang out with my family. The last of us was getting married!

P1220726I checked back in on the bride, who had plenty of company and was still getting her hair done and figured I wasn’t needed so I went to check on the rest of the boys…my husband and children. They were doing just fine. The boys got to hang out in the tavern room all morning. There were snacks and drinks, a jukebox, shuffleboard, high-backed leather chairs, and much more fun. They were doing just fine. Greg was so relaxed he was even doing the Tunak Tunak Tun dance.


Simon, however, was not having any of the make up. When I first walked in with  my hair and face all done up, Elias gave me a long look and then told me I looked beautiful. Simon, though, refused to let me hold him, and when I tried to kiss him as he was in my mom’s arms, he pushed me away. It was pretty heartbreaking. But I stole him away anyway and leaned him against my shoulder, and when he couldn’t see my face he was just fine. Eventually I left him back in the care of the men and went on my way.

I wandered around and took pictures of all of the beautiful decorations. I was most impressed by the arbor. This picture has bad lighting, but it helps you imagine how beautiful it was.

P1220741Finally, it was time for the boys to get ready. It was Elias’ first experience in a tux. He was so cute.

P1220742My mom and I stopped to pose for a picture together.

P1220751Simon, who had just woken up from a nap was not really into pictures, but we tried to get a few family shots anyway.

P1220759Then was time for the actual ceremony. It was beautiful and I admit I was holding back the tears pretty forcefully. I don’t have any pictures because I was a part of the ceremony, but I’m sure when they come from the photographer they’ll be great. After the ceremony we had pictures taken, and then the long wait began.

At first the boys were pretty good about waiting for the reception to begin. Although they couldn’t enjoy cocktails, they found ways to entertain themselves. Such as posing in front of the golf course.

P1220775Or finding a seat on a windowsill.

P1220779Nathan and I posed for a selfie…..

P1220783and while we did so the boys found a way to get dirty. It only takes a few seconds…but it was enough.

P1220782So we waited inside and enjoyed the company of Auntie Kristy’s daddy again.

P1220785Then, we were all told to head outside and down the street for another surprise. We did so and waited some more. Here is Auntie Kristy and baby James.

P1220790And the boys finding more ways to get dirty while waiting.

P1220792Pretty soon we heard a low hum in the distance.

P1220799Guess who it was!

P1220802Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina making their grand entrance!

P1220803 P1220811 P1220812It was pretty cool to watch.

Look what Simon found while we all had our backs turned! Typical. At least one of the junior bridesmaids seems to have it under control.

P1220816We headed back to the reception hall and helped Shaina get ready for her entrance to the reception. She looked stunning on her wedding day!

P1220819While we were waiting for the wedding party to be announced into the reception, Elias got pretty nervous around the girls again. I was inwardly laughing and outwardly taking pictures. I’m such a mean mom.

P1220823Here he is being forced to hold hands. I overheard the flower girl tell him quite forcefully, “You have to hold my hand!” It was all a show he put on, though. I heard from people who watched him walk in that he was smiling and waving, and once he reached the dance floor he ran and slid on his knees to his spot amidst cheering and applauding from the crowd. Who would have thought?

P1220828After the wedding party was announced, the cake cutting happened first, then dinner.

P1220830During dinner there were toasts. My brother, Scott, gave a very heartfelt toast. I was very impressed and proud.

P1220836After dinner the boys took over the dance floor.

P1220853They had to give it up for the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the mother-son dance. But then when dancing started in earnest the boys were very into it, and Elias got us all involved.

P1220867He took a turn with Uncle Greg.

P1220876And Uncle Scott.

P1220878No one took a picture, but I was out there dancing with him a bunch. He also got Ama and Simon involved.

P1220879And Baba too.

P1220882They even slow danced together.

P1220892Then after quite a while of exerting themselves, they sat down to rest. Look at those rosy cheeks and that glazed look in his eyes. This boy was tired!

P1220883There was still about an hour left in the reception, but the boys were pretty much expired. It was a beautiful day and went pretty much a smoothly as anyone could have hoped. We got to be with family and have fun too. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the inn for bedtime.

Congratulations Greg and Shaina! We love you!

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Our Grand Adventure – Part VI – Wedding Prep

After arriving in Westfield Center, Ohio, the next two days were the most relaxing of our trip. I hate to say so because my brother and his fiance were so stressed getting everything ready for the wedding while we were relaxing and having fun family times.

We started out Thursday morning by playing out on the big grassy field with some small bat and ball toys we purchased for the boys at the Pirates game.

P1220636We also spent some time climbing trees…something the boys have been really interested in lately.

P1220645We hung out with family.

P1220651We even got to enjoy some large chocolate coins we had purchased in West Virginia.

P1220660On Friday we visited a nearby strip mall that had a train ride. We weren’t quite sure what to expect but it turned out to be really great! It was a twenty minute ride.

P1220670P1220663After the train ride it was lunch time, nap time, and then time to get ready for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Here are my handsome boys.

P1220672Here is my brother unloading the doors he built for his future wife to walk through.

P1220676Elias was pretty nervous to walk down the aisle as the ring bearer, but he warmed up with some of the junior bridesmaids took him under their wing.

P1220682And my handsome husband at the rehearsal. We got to be partnered and walk together.

P1220685The location was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to see it all decorated on the wedding day. We headed to the rehearsal dinner. Here is Elias and Uncle Scott practicing a magic trick that Elias learned from Auntie Kristy’s dad.

P1220700Nathan was quite happy to receive this shaving kit from Greg as a groomsmen gift.

P1220704We had a lot of fun and were ready for the big day!

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Our Grand Adventure – Part V – Our Anniversary

We woke up on Wednesday, May 20th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it was our 9th anniversary. Most of our trip had been planned out well in advance, but we had about four plans for our anniversary day, and none of those was what we ended up doing! We had been wanting to see my brother’s house just outside of Columbus, but we never thought there would be time to make it out there. At the last minute, we were in touch with my parents and my brother and we all decided to take a few extra hours in the car to make a visit.

This excited Elias because he would get to see his Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina an extra day, but also because it changed our route south enough that we would pass through West Virginia! Another new state!

We pulled off at a Cracker Barrel in West Virginia so that we could get out of the car, stretch our legs, and claim we had actually been there. Here we are overlooking some beautiful hills in West Virginia on our anniversary.

P1220566We timed our departure from Pennsylvania to meet up with my parents at this Cracker Barrel. They had just flown from Portland to DC the night before, and were also driving to Greg’s house. Elias and Simon were very excited to see Ama and Baba in the Cracker Barrel.

P1220573We ended up taking quite a long stop because after the Cracker Barrel we went to a nearby Target to get some much needed supplies (bread, etc.) and then we got hungry enough to eat lunch.

Finally in the late afternoon we made it to Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina’s house. They just moved in a few months ago, and it really is a beautiful place.

P1220577The boys enjoyed fishing in the pond behind their house.

P1220581Elias and Simon, who are both pretty wary of dogs warmed up to Chesney when they played fetch in the backyard.

P1220595All the men had to go pick up tuxes for the wedding so the women and kids were left behind to relax at the house. Elias got to enjoy some cousin time. Uncle Scott, Auntie Kristy and James had also flown to Cleveland the night before and met us at the house. It was a family reunion!

P1220614Picking up the tuxes took forever, and by the time they got back we were all starving for dinner. We went to a pretty fun grilled cheese place called “Melt”, and then made our way to Westfield Center, Ohio, where the wedding would take place in a few days. We arrived so late that the boys were long asleep. We were exhausted (it’s the theme of the trip), but we were super relieved to finally be at a destination where we’d stay for quite awhile. We were also looking forward to all the family time and wedding festivities to come.

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Our Grand Adventure – Part IV – Pennsylvania

Our adventure continued on the shores of Lake Erie. We wanted the boys to be able to dip their toes in the water. The beaches were closed for just a few more days until Memorial Day, but we didn’t actually want to swim anyway. Just dip our toes. The day was beautifully sunny, but there was a pretty frigid wind coming off the lake. And the lake itself was absolutely freezing. But dip our toes in the water we did!


I was a little worried with no sand toys and no swimming that the boys would get bored. That was silly of me! With rocks and sticks around, who needs toys? The boys hunted out the best rocks to throw into the waves.

P1220506 P1220513Everyone got into it.

P1220496After playing on the beach we found a nice park with a playground for a picnic. The boys had fun testing their skills on the big boy play equipment.

P1220532 P1220534Next, we drove down to Pittsburgh to catch a Pirates game. Nathan has always wanted to see PNC Park.


The boys really enjoyed watching the game, and got a kick out of shouting “Let’s Go Bucs!”

P1220545 P1220555 P1220563Unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness a Pirates win, but we stayed eight innings and got to witness many home runs, including one that cleared the entire park! We got back to the hotel extremely late and tried to rest up before the next leg of our trip…Ohio and my brother’s wedding!

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Our Grand Adventure – Part III – Canada!

There we were waking up on the 37th floor with the beautiful Niagara Falls right outside our window. We decided to take it easy. We would go sight seeing, but we also would make sure the boys had some normalcy. Naptime/quiet time. Normal as possible meals. Relaxed schedule. We slept in, ate a leisurely breakfast, and then finally headed out to see the falls up close on the Canadian side. We decided to try to use the Niagara bus system. Here is Elias learning how to read the schedule.


When we had seen the falls on the American side, the boys had seen the boat tours down on the river. We decided to do the Hornblower Cruise first since the boys were so excited about it. The timing was perfect and we walked right on the boat, bright red ponchos and all.

P1220258The boat tour was pretty amazing. We got to get very close to the falls and hear the water pounding. There was a ton of mist. Here is our first family picture of the trip with the American Falls in the background.

P1220277After the tour, it was already time for lunch since we had had such a leisurely morning. We stopped at a food court-ish place where the food was terrible but the views were amazing.

P1220287After nap time, we decided to take the boys on the incline railway for fun. Basically, it is a glass case that rolls down a nearly vertical track with an excellent view of the falls.

P1220299The view from the railway car.

P1220301We hopped at the bus at the bottom and went to Clifton Hill, which has a ton of entertainment and shops. The Rainforest Cafe was our destination. We ate a yummy dinner, and then let the boys have some fun in the arcade. Simon even hit the bonus on one of the games and got 500 tickets at once! Those tickets were coming out for a really long time!

P1220309Then we just had to visit the Hershey’s store. Who wouldn’t?

P1220312Then Simon did this which I thought was both really cute and really gross at the same time:


Finally, we headed back to our hotel for an evening of swimming and relaxing.


That concluded our first full day in Canada.

The next morning we woke up a bit earlier in order to drive to Toronto and visit the zoo. We were excited because they host a few animals that we’ve never gotten to see in person before. The day was beautiful (Nathan and I even got slight sunburns), and Nathan got some real Canada driving under his belt. The boys enjoyed seeing the animals, but overall were still pretty tired and insisted on riding in the stroller…which was a problem since there were two boys and one stroller. They were innovative, however:

P1220395We got to see pandas, gorillas, kangaroos, wombats, and many many more interesting animals. The boys were also thrilled to see some of the more common animals such as lions, giraffes and rhinos.

P1220324 P1220329 P1220344 P1220376 P1220388We got stuck in a bunch of traffic on the way back to Niagara, which put me in a terrible mood since I am pregnant and did not have access to a bathroom. However, we made the best of our situation, and got in an early bed time for the boys. Finally!

Our final morning of our time in Canada was also a beautiful day. We decided to head back down to the falls and take the “Journey Behind the Falls” tour. It was cool to see the falls so close, and walk through tunnels behind the falls.

P1220439 P1220450We had a bit of driving to do that day to reach our next destination, but we decided to stick around for a few more great views and lunch before setting off.

P1220419 P1220430P1220467As we pulled out of the parking lot, the boys were yelling “Bye bye water!” They had a wonderful time, and overall we wished we had more time to explore the area. We were off, though for the next leg of our trip…Pennsylvania!

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Our Grand Adventure – Part II – The First Look at the Falls

After such a long travel day, what did we have in store for us when we woke up the next morning? More travel! We rented a car and drove to Niagara Falls! The drive is only about four hours from Cleveland. The boys did really well in the car for the first three hours, but we were glad that my parents had loaned us their ipads for the last hour or so.

P1220167We drove through the very top tip of Pennsylvania, and a bit of New York. I had never been in either of those states. The scenery was pretty but a bit repetitive. Deciduous trees. Lots of deciduous trees. Although, there was a long stretch of the New York thruway in which the entire first row of trees along the freeway was just dead. It was very creepy and made me dub New York as “The Land of Dead Trees.” I’m sure that’s not all there is, but it’s what we saw.

Before crossing into Canada, we decided to see the falls from the American side. We had heard from many people that the Canadian side is much better, but we still wanted to see it. Plus the boys needed a break from the car! The day was overcast so we didn’t get the most beautiful pictures, but the falls were just as majestic as ever, I’m sure.

Here is our first view, standing next to the river just above horseshoe falls.

P1220172We wandered around looking at the falls from different angles.

P1220187The boys really enjoyed looking at the falls, the tour boats down below, and most of all running around.

Who can look at the falls when there are rocks to jump off of?

P1220213Or wet ground to get dirty from?

P1220218Here is our first view of the American Falls.

P1220203Walking around the state park was great. We got to stretch our legs and see such beautiful sights. There was hardly anyone even there.

P1220223However, it was quickly approaching dinner time, and we still had to cross the border, get to our hotel, and get all the luggage inside before finding something for dinner. Luckily, the border crossing was uneventful, and we made it to our hotel.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites and had a gorgeous view of the falls right from our room.

P1220232P1220235We were glad to finally be at our destination. We were looking forward to a few fun days in Canada!

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