Our Butterflies

A couple of months ago, as I was planning a children’s worship event for Holy Week, I decided I wanted to include butterflies. Real live butterflies, which are an excellent comparison with the resurrection. I started researching caterpillar/butterfly kits, and decided on one. I wrote down what day I’d have to purchase it in order to make the timing work out so that I’d have butterflies (or at least caterpillars in their chrysalis). When the time came, I ordered.

Somehow, I got the timing drastically wrong. When Holy Week came, my butterflies were still caterpillars. I lived and learned, and the caterpillars were still interesting.

My boys were lucky, though, and got to observe the whole process at home.

We received our caterpillars in the mail and they were tiny.

They ate and grew for fourteen days.

They grew and grew.

They grew some more.

Finally on day fourteen of life in the Smith house, they started to take their long sleep. They hung upside down in little “j’s”.

They shed their skin one last time, and formed a chrysalis over night. I really wish they had done this during the day so I could have seen it. I would have been glued to the jar, but I suppose it may have been more like watching a pot boil or whatever that saying is…

After three days of hanging in the cup, we transferred them to their butterfly habitat. Eventually, the first one emerged!

These, by the way, are painted lady butterflies. They look a bit like moths when their wings are folded, but they are quite bright and beautiful when they open their wings.

On Sunday, the other four emerged and we had five butterflies.

We fed them fruit and sugar water and put flowers in their habitat. We observed them for a few days.

Today was a good day to release our butterflies since it was such a beautiful day. After we walked Elias home from school we went into the backyard to let them go.

Once we were outside, they got really active so I think they were excited that they’d have more space to stretch their wings.

In case you’ve never been up close to butterflies, it is actually pretty difficult to catch a good photo with their wings open.

Two butterflies flew out right away, and two more a few minutes later. The last little guy wanted a good snack before he flew off. You can see his proboscis in the sponge drinking the sugar water.

The boys enjoyed watching him for a few more minutes.

After another minute the last butterfly flew into the air, and just like that we said goodbye. Goodbye butterflies!

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T-Ball 2017

After a great experience with Reedville t-ball last year, we were excited to sign up for another baseball season this spring. This year is special because it is probably the only year ever that we’ll have two boys on the same team. To make it even better, Nathan got roped into coaching the team so Elias, Simon, and Nathan are all involved.

We are the maroon team this year, and our team name is the “Giraffes.” Elias is number 8 (he’s grown a lot – last year he was number 1, the smallest on the team), and Simon is number 4.

On Saturday was the jamboree, and the team had their first two games. The weather was perfect for baseball. They warmed up with some catch, and then the games began.

Simon, who just wants to be like his big brother had his first at bat:

He was excited to run super fast and make it home.

In t-ball, the kids all get equal playing time, and they all get to try each position. Elias got to try pitcher, catcher, first base, third base, and outfield positions during the jamboree. Here he is making a play at first base:

And his first at bat:

Caleb was along for the ride. He did really well sitting and watching from the stroller. If I let him out, all he wants to do is run on the field so he pretty much gets trapped in there for the duration of the game. Afterward, I let him out and he tried to climb on the bench like his brothers.

Earlier this evening we had another game. Unfortunately it was raining. It never rained hard, but it was definitely a heavy mist, which made everything muddy and dirty and wet. 11 of our 12 players showed up, though, and we still had fun even though the other team was a no show. Each of our players got to bat twice before we headed home. Caleb was a hard core fan and braved the mists to watch.

Elias connected bat to ball well, and I even got one of them on camera:

Simon got in some good batting practice too!

We are looking forward to the rest of the season!

 

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Caleb – 16 Months

Caleb turned 16 months a week or so ago. Every time I look at him he just gets bigger and bigger.

As always, Caleb spends most of his time trying to keep up with his brothers. If he can’t do that, he gets into as much trouble as he possibly can. He does stuff his older brothers never even thought of…(or did I just block it all out?) Whether its moving dining chairs around the house so that he can climb on new surfaces, standing on the kitchen counters to get himself a water bottle, sneaking into the pantry to get food, flushing stuff down the toilet, turning the computer off when I am answering an important email, or any of the other mischief he manages to find…he can sure drive us crazy.

What really has amazed me in the last couple of months is how much Caleb notices about us and how much he attempts to mimic. Sometimes he tries to mimic words or sounds (today “Hola!” was his favorite). Sometimes its our actions or body movements. I love watching him learn and grow.

Below are some fun pictures of Caleb over the last couple of months:

Caleb the “helper”

Caleb’s first time on a tricycle. He doesn’t actually have a helmet yet, so he was borrowing Elias’ which is too large, but it worked for the slow speed we were going. He loved riding around on the trike.

I was trying to make dinner, and the big boys were in the backyard playing. Caleb wanted to go out there so bad. He was distraught… crying and pounding on the door. His brothers went around the corner out of sight and I gave him a piece of cheese to distract him and I got this fun smile as a result.

Caleb wants to eat his food just like we do. He does not suffer those childish small chunks of fruit, for example. He wants to eat his apples whole.

The boys are really into helping me weed right now. I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can. Whenever we go into the front yard, they really want to weed the small patch of dirt just outside of our yard next to the driveway of the flag lot next door. It is not technically our land, but I’ve never seen any of them do anything to maintain it, so after weeks and weeks of saying they couldn’t weed there, I finally let the boys have at it. They were in weed heaven, and Caleb joined in the work.

The weather is finally turning. We’ve had a few non-rainy days in the last couple of weeks, so we’ve gotten into the backyard to do some swinging. Caleb had a lot of fun when Simon pushed him.

I walked into the children’s sunday school a few minutes late after working a bit in the food pantry, and I saw this cute scene. Notice how Caleb is holding the card. He likes to hold it and pretend he is reading it just like we do.

Just this afternoon we were able to stay after school and play on the playground for an hour or so in the sun. Today was Caleb’s first time on the big slide. I got a kick out of his static-y hair too!

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Great Wolf Lodge

About six months ago, my sister-in-law (Auntie Kristy) and I started talking about what we wanted to do to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. My mom has always loved swimming and water parks, so when Kristy suggested we might look into Great Wolf Lodge, I jumped at the chance. It was one of those things that I’d always wanted to try out with our family, but it was a bit spendy and I wanted to boys to be old enough to be worth the expense. My mom’s 60th was a perfect excuse to go check it out.

Originally, we had scheduled the weekend for January, but we got snowed out! After re-coordinating everyone’s schedules, we decided on March 11th-12th. You are allowed to enter the water park at 1pm the day of check-in so we piled in the vans and headed north Saturday morning.

When we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge it was a madhouse! Simon claims that you have to be a wolf to go there….an idea they helped him believe by giving all the kids wolf ears.

Eventually, we made it in to the locker rooms, got changed, and started having buckets of fun. The kid pool was amazing with a couple of slides that Simon wanted to go down over and over again. Even Caleb enjoyed going down one of them on Baba’s lap. There was a great wave pool, and some bigger slides that the adults and Elias were able to take turns going on while some of us stayed back with the littles. I couldn’t believe how fast some of the water slides go! On one of them, I was actually a little scared for Elias who was coming behind me. He made it down just fine, though, with a smile on his face and I no longer worried. They also have a great family raft ride that we went on a bunch.

We stayed for a little over three hours, then took a break for dinner. Against my better judgement, we decided to take the boys back down for more fun after dinner. Their usual bedtime is about 7 pm, and we went swimming from about 7-9 pm…on daylight savings time eve….when all three of them had colds. But you only live once, right?

We hurried up to our room at 9 and gave them a rinse off bath. Needless to say they were wiped out and fell right asleep. It was a restless night, and we lost an hour of sleep, but we got to wake up for more fun so it worked out! My parents took us to a great breakfast buffet as a thank you for taking them on the trip. Caleb tried his first french toast sticks and really loved them.

After breakfast, we had to get everything ready to check out before we headed to the pools. While Nathan, Auntie Kristy, and Baba took everything to the vans, the rest of us stayed and played upstairs. Uncle Scott came up with a fun game which involved the boys jumping/being thrown into a nest of pillows. It was right up their alley.

When we finally got down to the pools, Auntie Kristy let me borrow her phone case so that I could take some pictures in the water. We took advantage of the wave pool when the waves weren’t on. Caleb really enjoyed walking around in the water on his own.

And with his best buds.

When the waves started, Elias and Ama went to get to the biggest ones. Elias was really in his element the whole weekend. I think he could stay and play there forever.

Caleb didn’t like the waves, but he did like the fountains. Something about this one really made him tickled. He was laughing so hard!

We all enjoyed going down the slides with Elias because he loved it so much. Here is Ama coming down. Being 60 hasn’t slowed her down at all.

Simon, Caleb, and James mostly stayed in the kids pool but there was always plenty to do there. Here is Baba playing with them.

Alas, all good things come to an end. By lunch time, the three youngest boys were toast. While Elias could have gone all day, we decided to pack up and head home before the meltdowns really began. It was a wonderful weekend, and we really hope to visit again some day! Happy birthday, mom!

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Simon – 4 Years Old

Simon turned four years old today. We celebrated a bit with family over the weekend, and again today  with just the five of us on his big day.

Over the weekend we had a big February birthday bash with all of the Bartle boys. Baba, James and Simon all have birthdays within a week of each other. We went out to Red Robin for a family meal, then went back to my parents’ house for some dessert and presents.

Simon was excited to open this baseball helmet from Ama and Baba.

Birthday cupcakes were a hit!

The boys also had a blast getting in their usual Uncle Scott wrestling session.

This morning Simon woke up and immediately remembered some garden tools my parents had given him. It was still pitch black outside, and he wanted to go out and use them. I made him wait until the sun came up. I let him try to tend to this area under our Japanese Maple that got completely overgrown with weeds and grass last year when I couldn’t properly tend to it.

Simon got to go to his soccer class, then I took him to go pick out a cake. After getting Elias from school, the boys got to play outside all afternoon until Nathan got home from work. They loved riding their bikes. Simon is proud to ride his green bike now instead of the tricycle.

After Daddy got home we went inside and talked with Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina on the phone. Then Simon got to open some presents from Mommy and Daddy. We got him a sleeping bag, two books on cd, a small wooden treasure box to keep his rocks, and a monster truck toy. He was a happy boy.

Finally after dinner (Simon chose mac and cheese), we got to eat his chosen birthday cake. A chocolate monster!

It’s been a big year for Simon. In his 3’s he was potty trained, stopped using a binky, started preschool, began swimming lessons, soccer, and basketball classes, joined AWANA, and much much more. We are so proud of the thoughtful and joyful little boy he is, and while I sometimes am driven to my wits end by his antics, I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Happy Birthday, Simon!

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Reaching Milestones and New Heights

We recently logged a nearly perfect weekend in the books. I think my happy feelings towards it partly come from the fact that it was definitely a spring weather weekend with beautiful blue skies, sun on our backs, and cool, comfortable temperatures. But there was a lot more to it than that.

For starters, I got in a few hours of much needed yard work, and I hadn’t gotten to do that for almost two years. Last year I was probably only able to put in a few total for the whole season due to Caleb being an infant. I really missed it (and so did our yard!).

We reached some milestones this weekend, though. Elias learned to ride his bike with no training wheels! This was something he has been wanting to try for some time, but winter is a hard time for bike riding. He was so proud of himself, and he picked it up very quickly once the training wheels were removed!

Nathan also reached new heights this weekend. He climbed up on the roof for the first time. Our gutters really needed cleaning and in one spot was even starting to bow out. He was also able to clean a bit of moss off the roof, although that still needs more work.

I made Nathan wear a bike helmet when he went up on the roof. He didn’t want to wear it because he thought he might look foolish, but I made him do it nonetheless.

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Caleb – 14 Months

Caleb is 14 months old today. How time flies! The last blog update I wrote for Caleb was at his first birthday. In the last two months I really feel the changes. He is not a baby anymore, but a little boy. The two biggest changes in the last two months are that Caleb is now walking and he is feeding himself with a spoon. He also experienced his first big snow and met his Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina. Caleb has four new molars, and finally, I can say he has made peace with our daily routine, which proved so hard for him since Elias’ school pickup was right during his nap time. He is (for the most part) just a happy little guy. He is persistent and a good problem solver. There isn’t a shelf he can’t climb or a brother he can’t bother. He also has an annoying habit of hitting an unsuspecting person on the head with his toys…a habit we are teaching him is wrong! But despite his flaws he brings us so much joy every day.

Big Snow

Caleb loved the snow if he got to go sledding. Other than that he kind of just sat in it like a big lump. He wasn’t stable enough of a walker to try to toddle around in it, and crawling in the snow is just no fun.

Walking

Caleb has been taking a step or two since about 13 months, but really got going about a week and a half ago with walking full time. He walks everywhere now, and was particularly interested in our shadows when he and I walked in to pick Simon up from preschool. Now that he is walking there is a lot more he can explore. He loved stomping on leaves and picking up sticks in the parking lot. Luckily he is content to stay close to me (for now!). Here he is exploring the hallway outside Simon’s classroom:

Feeding Himself with a Spoon

Caleb loves to feed himself with a spoon. His favorites are yogurt and re-fried beans. He makes a pretty huge mess, but also gets a fair amount in his mouth. Now that he knows he can do it, he won’t have it any other way.

The Explorer

Now that Caleb is walking he loves to explore. He seems so tiny in such a big world, but I love to see his confidence and his perseverance. I snapped a picture today at the playground after school. He wandered quite far from me (but toward his big brother), and just wanted to explore the bark chips, the grass, the pavement, watch airplanes fly overhead, and watch all of the big kids playing. I was trying to imagine all that must be going on in his little head. He sure is growing up.

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Bartle Family Beach Weekend

My brother (Uncle Greg) and his wife (Auntie Shaina) came to visit over the long weekend. We were eagerly anticipating their arrival since we hadn’t seen them since their wedding almost two years ago.¬† I was worried the weekend would go too fast, and it certainly did. It was a whirlwind of fun and good family times. In order to squeeze in as much family time as possible, my parents decided to treat us all to a weekend at the beach. If we were all together in the same house, we wouldn’t need to leave at the kids’ bed time. While it made for some pretty tired adults, their genius plan worked and the eight adults got to laugh into the wee hours of the night playing games and more while the kiddos slumbered below.

Getting to the beach was tricky. While we have 100% consumer satisfaction with our van, it is not really a snow vehicle. We had to chain up on the Hwy 6 pass.

We were annoyed at the need for chains, but at least the view was beautiful.

We made it to Rockaway Beach and the boys instantly got in on the family fun. Neither of them had ever played pool or foosball.

Friday night we just hung out around the house. Saturday morning we drove in to Cannon Beach because Uncle Greg wanted Auntie Shaina to see Haystack Rock. We brought some sand toys, kites, and the winter coats. It would be a cold time to play on the beach! Despite the cold, it was a beautiful day and much fun was had. We played with the stomp rocket that Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina got Simon for Christmas. That was a huge hit!

The cousins played in the sand.

Even though there was not suitable wind for kite flying, Simon really wanted to make it work. Auntie Shaina helped him get it in the air.

Caleb took to the sand like a pro just like he did last summer.

Elias tried to scale this large sand wall just like his Uncles were doing. He eventually made it up and was very proud of himself.

We managed to get a selfie of all twelve of us with Haystack Rock in the background. Good thing Uncle Greg has long arms!

After the beach we headed back to the house where Auntie Kristy and Baba cooked us a delicious turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all the fixin’s.

In the evening we went to the beach just outside the house and had more stomp rocket fun. I caught this picture of the sun near dusk.

Sunday morning we headed out to the beach one more time. It was absolutely freezing, but again, just so beautiful. It was nice for the boys to get so much cousin time!

Caleb and James really hit it off. They played together a lot. Now that Caleb is walking a whole new world of play has opened up to him. He and James were mirroring each other’s movements and Auntie Kristy reported that the two even played hide and seek together.

On the way back to Portland we stopped (of course) at Tillamook for some ice cream and fudge. Can you believe in all our visits we’ve never actually sat in the bus? This was a first.

We were sad to see our weekend end so quickly, but are so thankful for the time we had together.

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Geocaching Fun

I’ve wanted to try geocaching for a few years now, but we were waiting until the boys were a little bit older. We finally tried it out a couple of weekends ago, and we loved it! We found our first two caches just a short walk from our house in Noble Woods Park. We plan to do many more in the coming weeks.

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Snow, Snow, and More Snow

The boys don’t know how lucky they are this winter with so many snow days. They don’t remember that last winter we didn’t get any good snows. After tomorrow they’ll have had eight snow days off of school, and currently we are still in the midst of getting 8 inches at our house. In other places of the country, people wouldn’t blink an eye, but in Portland, that’s definitely something!

We’ve done it all in the last couple of days, and all without leaving our house. We built a snowman in the backyard, we’ve gone sledding at the end of the street. We’ve shoveled snow and had a snowball fight. We built a huge mount of snow and jumped in it enough times so that it became almost flat. The boys have giggled with delight and complained of cold. It has been a lot of fun, but I am looking forward to the days when they can all put on their own snow gear and can stay out a little longer at a time!

Here is the snowman the boys built:

Caleb definitely liked being pulled around on the sled the best. Here he is when we forcibly removed him from the sled:

And after we put him back on to be towed around the neighborhood:

Mommy and Daddy stopped for a selfie. Nathan worked from home and was able to take a long lunch to come outside and have some fun with us.

Simon had a great time on the sled. Unfortunately he did have one crash and now has a big “chain link fence” print on his forehead. It’s all the rage these days….

Even though there were some bumps and bruises, everyone is safe and healthy and we are glad we’ve had the opportunity to play so much in the snow!

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