navygreen: ('Affairs:' magically gifted)
Oh, today! Today was a blast! I'm glad it turned out so wonderful and fun, as I had originally planned to take these four kiddos berry-picking on Sunday afternoon. I called up the farm, however, and I learned that Saturday night's mega-rainfall had flooded the fields, and they were closed. The farm is closed on Mondays, and I wasn't available yesterday either, so I was bummed that I would have to wait until Tuesday - today, but at least the weather looked promising (clear, a cool 68°, low wind)...

until this morning, when it began raining. AGAIN. And it was a heavy rainfall for quite some time. I was lamenting while I worked that berry-picking just wouldn't work out this year (strawberry season is over in just a couple more days, the farm had told me on Sunday), and I was bummed. :-/

But by the time I left work, I was really thinking that maybe we could swing it anyway. It hadn't rained in a few hours' time, and the skies looked okay. So I set the plan back in action, and Aimée sent over her kids. We all headed to the fields, and ALL the kids were excited: A.J. and Jack because they were so stoked to share the secrets of the farm with Drew and Natalie (who'd never been there before), and the other two because they were getting to do something entirely new! And *I* was so giddy that the plan was working out that I became distracted once we made it to the farm myself! I was pointing out this and that, and I completely forgot to park, driving right into the farm entrance and walkways - OOPS!

And then we all set to work! The boys had their Berry baskets, and I had pulled a Medium Fruit basket for Drew, as well as a Collector's Club Gathering basket for Natalie. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I picked baskets with the same volume (as we learned later on in the weighing process), and that was pretty nifty. :-)

Jack was the most dedicated about filling his basket with berries. I'd promised the kids they could have lots of time to play in the farmyard once we were done (there's a cool zipline, lots of hidey-holes, lots of climbing structures, swings, playhouses, and more), and by golly, he wanted to be sure he got to do so! He finished filling his basket with berries first, and then he helped Natalie finish hers. Once she was done, the two of them split into "teams," with Natalie helping A.J. finish up, and Jack helping Drew to finish his basket.

Along the way, I took pictures. I took a handful as they began picking, and then I put the cam away. I then helped pick berries (and I might be the reason why we ALL finished as timely as we did! *wink*). When the kids were almost done, I pulled the camera out for some last-minute shots, too. Natalie was an absolute ham, always wanting me to, "take a picture of me like this, Miss Nicole!" I was happy to oblige, and it was just SO MUCH FUN!

While picking, we had some great conversations. I explained the meaning of "crop dusting" (yes, we talked about tooting - hey, there WERE kids involved in this adventure, remember?), and Natalie spoke of her holiday Barbie® collection. A.J. and Drew would retreat to the back of the fields and talk about "boy stuff," and Natalie would say, "Oh, they're just being boys again, Miss Nicole. Aren't boys funny?" A.J. cupped a berry in both of his hands and shouted, "Hey, mom! Look, I'm making a mini-Twilight cover - see?!" And all the kids pretended that the red berry juice staining their fingers was blood, and they'd chase each other across rows. And, of course, we all spoke in "Berry Talk" (remember 'Strawberry Shortcake,' the cartoon? "Berry" instead of "very," etc.)

I loved it. :-)

When all baskets were filled, we walked back up to the weigh station, and we were all surprised to learn that, though the baskets were very different shapes, each contained three pounds' worth of berries. We had picked TWELVE POUNDS altogether! The kids couldn't wait for me to pay for them so that they could begin snacking! Everyone chose a soda, and we settled near the play area for some yummies.

And oh, the berries are good. Heavenly! Warm, fresh, bursting with juicy deliciousness. They are tiny strawberries, to be sure, but they pack a wonderful punch. Andrew and Natalie each ate close to 1/4th of their baskets before I made them stop, warning them that their mom would kill me if I let them completely ruin their dinner appetites!

The kids decided to play a game of Hide-and-Seek, and of course, no one wanted to be the first "It." I volunteered to get the game going, but I told them I wouldn't close my eyes - I wasn't done eating berries, so I turned my back to the play area, and I mumbled numbers to 30 with bites of strawberries in my mouth. Finally, I set off to search for them, and wow! They were well-hidden! I found Natalie first, then Jack, then Drew. At long last, we had to call for A.J. to show himself, as none of us had been able to find him - he was that good! The kids all continued playing for a while longer, and I just enjoyed the cloudy sunshine, the fresh air, and the yummy berries.

Perfect.

And I have pictures to share, and how! I wish you could all experience the fun we had, but these pictures are the best I can offer you. :-)

Our great berry-picking team
Our great berry-picking team.

The fruits of our labor - TWELVE pounds' worth!
The fruits of our labor.


And many more! )

And if you want to see all of the pics, you can find them in a slideshow HERE. :-)

Whoa.

Aug. 4th, 2008 11:25 pm
navygreen: (Autumn)
I just filled out all kinds of dates on our calendar through January.

...

DID YOU REALIZE THAT FALL IS ALMOST HERE?! Halloween is, like, two months away! There is sooooo much going on in these next few months, despite my always thinking that, "in a month or so, we'll be less busy." Yeah, right!

My calendar is weeping right now. It has eaten too much ink and feels quite full.
navygreen: (Boys: hug)
I should be sleeping already, in fact.

Tomorrow, we are taking the boys to their first amusement park! We've waited YEARS for this day - literally! - wanting both of the boys to be tall enough to ride all of the rollercoasters and such, and tomorrow is finally that day! We're headed to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, so we'll be pulling out of here early tomorrow morning.

The plan is to then spend the entire day (the park closes at midnight!) at Worlds of Fun tomorrow, sleep in a hotel in the area, then spend all of Sunday at the partnering water park - Oceans of Fun. I've already bought and printed out all of our tickets, and we've been counting down the days for a couple weeks. The boys are SO excited!

I imagine that we will all be ZONKED by the time we pull back in the garage late on Sunday night. It's going to be hard and get up for work on Monday morning, I'll bet!

Here's hoping we don't all get *too* sunburned. *crosses fingers*

To bed with me. See you on the flip side!
navygreen: ('Affairs:' 101 creative ways)
While out window-shopping, I spied a humorous photo-op. We were strolling by shops, and Philip is very tolerant of my shutterbug tendencies, so he did immediately as I requested when I shouted, "Ooh, ooh, ooh! Stop right there! Now, look at me! Smile pretty!"

So I took this shot:

Mother of the Year, right?
Mother of the Year, right?


Heeheehee. I couldn't suppress the giggles as I was clicking. Not only that, but as soon as I took the first picture, something else began to happen.

A perfect photo example of our family right now. )
navygreen: ('Affairs:' recap)
On Thursday afternoon, I sped through my tasks so I could leave work a bit early. I changed clothes there, then headed up to the boys' school for A.J.'s recorder concert. It was an hour-long program, and he did very well playing several tunes on his recorder. I was proud. :-)

Yesterday, Friday afternoon, I again left work a bit early, changing clothes as well. I then sped to the boys' school once more, this time for Jack's kindergarten celebration concert. Yesterday was also 'Rainbow Day' for school spirit, and the kindergarteners had been assigned to wear red (A.J.'s fourth grade class was wearing green.) Jack sang his songs and did the hand-motioning, all the while not falling off the top tier of the stadium rows. He had another speaking part, too! (I didn't know that previously, but I stood up quickly and got a good picture of him during it.) After his program, he munched on some sweets at a cookie reception, and then we grabbed A.J. to leave school about fifteen minutes early.

Then last night was 'Family Fun Night' at the Lied Activity Center. We had hotdogs, chips and soda, and the boys went swimming. (As an aside, it is SO nice now that, after being in swim lessons for a year - and still continuing them - that the boys can easily swim on their own. Not just tread water, but officially SWIM. Philip and I don't have to get in the water, and instead, can watch from the sidelines for now. ROCK.) Jack waited in line for minutes on end to meet with a clown, and he was then rewarded with a balloon bow-and-arrow (orange, of course). A.J. left the pool to join a rowdy game of dodgeball, and - surprise! His team won, though it was a long, hard battle. He was breathless and sweaty, but just grinning as we watched the end of the game.

Everyone went to bed early last night and slept WELL. I don't even remember waking once!

Today, the boys and I shuttled off to the commissary to pick up a few sundry items (stopping on the way to deliver a special card). We grabbed a bite to eat at the BX, then came home quickly to drop off our goods. It was colder and wetter than anticipated, so we grabbed jackets before then heading back out, this time to the Rose Theater to catch a performance of "Horrible Harry." We all really enjoyed the quirky, fun play, and then we drove out to ColdStone Creamery for a special snack afterwards.

Now we're back home, and we've got church in an hour. The rain has been coming down gently for a few hours now, and I can't wait to get back in from church, light some candles and heat up a few pizzas for dinner. It'll be a cozy night in after the craziness of the last several days!
navygreen: (High)
Philip and the boys left a little bit ago for Coco Key. We all went back on Jan. 13th, with tickets to the boys as Christmas gifts from [livejournal.com profile] squeak_a_chu's family, and it was so much fun. Philip got free tickets from the squadron earlier this week, and we'd been planning to go, but we didn't tell the boys until yesterday at dinner. They were so jazzed, of course!

...

Except that I just couldn't do it this time. I just couldn't get excited. I tried all day to get revved about it, but I still wasn't once it was finally time to go. I even put my contacts in for the first time this year (I wore my glasses the last time, and naturally, the water spots on the lenses made it a bit hard to see well at times) to prepare for going. But then I just stood there and stood there in the bathroom, and I couldn't make myself put on my swimsuit and get ready - even when I knew that all three of them were already suited up, ready to go, and waiting in the living room.

I'm happy that they're going to have a good time, and I know that they will. I don't think I would have, as I've got no interest today in riding waterslides or rafting down rivers. I didn't even feel like taking the camera and just taking pictures. I just wasn't excited about it. I'm disappointed in myself for that, but I'm rational enough to know that, sometimes, I just need to go with what I'm feeling and feel it.

I'm really at peace with the decision. I haven't shed a tear over being here alone, and I've been getting some things done that I've wanted to. There's something to be said about being alone on a nice day, with the windows and doors open, the tunes that *I* want to hear cranked all the way up, just enjoying the time to hear myself think and sort through things that I've wanted to. I'm tackling a pile of pictures and memorabilia on my bench, sorting it into different years for scrapbooking later on, and it feels nice to make such good progress.

But I don't want anyone to think Coco Key isn't fun, and I've been meaning to post these pictures forEVER, so I'm finally doing it now. :-)

A.J., Jack and Nicole
A.J., Jack and me - floating away on our rafts.


Lots )
navygreen: (Zippy 2 Thunders)
On Saturday, the Zippys had plans to take on the town. It was so nice to get out with Heather for an afternoon - it's just something we don't do nearly as often as we should, anymore.

Where did we go? Well, first, she picked me up at the house (all my boys stayed home, giddy at the prospect of getting the oil changed in the car... okay, maybe not really giddy...). We had decided on WheatFields Bakery for lunch, and it was a wonderful choice! There was just so. much. good. food, and we didn't know where to begin. Heather finally settled on shrimp & cheese fondue, and I chose a chicken salad plate (because I wanted the pastry and fresh fruit that was to come with it). While we waited for our food in the very crowded little place (a sure sign of good eats!), we browsed over the delectable desserts. We were seated right in front of the bakery buns and pastries, and we walked over to see the cakes, mousses, cheesecakes, and cookies. Oh, I wanted one of everything!

Our food arrived, and it looked scrumptious. Heather's tealight burnt out shortly under her fondue pot, but the cheese stayed warm enough for her to dip her chunks of shrimp, veggies, and ciabatta bread cubes. My salad arrived, but... it didn't look right. Instead of a cold chicken salad plate with fruit and pastry, our waitress brought me a honey-fried chicken salad (a HUGE breast of honey-fried chicken, cut-up, and tossed over a bed of fresh greens, toasted hazelnuts, bacon, and shredded gruyere, served with a Creamy Ranch Herb Dressing). I was so hungry that I asked her to leave the salad instead of waiting for a correct one. It was so good! I typically don't like ranch dressing, but this one had a bit of a tangy kick, and it was PERFECT for blending with the sweet, honey-fried chicken (which was VERY sweet). Heather had a few bites of my salad and agreed. After our meals, we shared my pastry - a Shaggy. The 'Shaggy' was a large, fluffy croissant rolled in cinnamon-sugar and toasted almonds. It was delicious!

Even as Heather packed up the leftovers of her fondue (I didn't take my salad home, though there was half of it left), we remarked on how incredibly full we both were. We gazed some more at the desserts on our way out, only to learn a wondrous thing: they had free samples of many of the desserts at the counter! We both chose the Oregon Cherry cheesecake - a rich, pink cheesecake with swirls of cherry and a chocolate cookie crumb crust. It was the perfect amount of dessert, and we marveled that anyone could eat an actual slice at one time.

Then we rolled out the door and over to Heather's car. Honestly, it's a miracle that we still fit into our seats. ;-)

A short, pleasant drive later found us pulling into a parking spot on the Main Street of downtown Louisville, Nebraska. I grabbed my camera, and we headed into Coop-de-Ville for a chick-fest: a free chocolate buffet! Heather had received an invite earlier in the week from their mailing list, and that's how our entire girlie afternoon plans had begun. Of course, we were *so* full from Wheatfields that we weren't sure we could handle more chocolate... but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right?

We browsed the super-fun rooms of massive girly decor, and we giggled over cute pillows and hilarious travel mugs. We mused over Christmas decorations (yes, in February!), and we pondered martini-shaped candles and redecorating our own homes with more pink and pizzazz. Finally, we entered Cafe Poulet for a bit of the festivities. Heather helped herself to a few pieces of chocolate, and I asked permission to take a few pictures. I also ordered a Pink Hot Chocolate before sitting down with my own chocolate spread: valentine M&Ms, a krispy chocolate bar, and a fudge brownie. When my hot chocolate arrived, it was covered in whipped cream and hot pink sprinkles... and it was definitely pink!

Neither of us could finish our goodies, but we leisurely enjoyed our time chatting as we tried to finish up. I burned my tongue on my first few sips of hot chocolate, but it was still so very good. We walked all around Cafe Poulet, and we entered the tiny bathroom together (not to use, silly!) just so we could laugh over the ornately decorated toilet seat and fun girl phrases pasted all over the walls. The pipes were even covered in hot pink fur!

We left Coop-de-Ville after I paid for my hot chocolate, and we walked a block up the street to enter Feathers. Feathers is a fun, hip, girly retail shop, and we laughed and giggled as we pored over the items in each room of the house (the shop is in a remodeled, older home). I ended up purchasing a few baby gifts while we browsed, but I resisted buying anything for myself (though the temptation was great, I promise you!). We ooooh'd and ahhhh'd over a great many things before finally stepping back out into the cold wind of Main Street and heading back to Heather's car.

There is one more shop related to the two we visited - Art Chicks - but both of us had been there previously, so we decided to head back home (a fun place for lunch, you are required to play 'dress-up' in their costume room before sitting down for your meal). We stopped at Baker's for Heather to grab some milk, and at Hallmark for me to pick up a few cards on the way home, and then she dropped me off. It was a very nice afternoon, and I'm so glad we got away. :-)

Me and Heather in fifty years
Me and Heather in fifty years.


More pictures - beware of the pink! )

And though it was a quick turn-around (which is a good thing!), we also went out together on Wednesday night. I had given Heather tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Orpheum Theatre for Hanukkah, and it was an amazing show! We arrived early, and we both dressed up. In fact, if I'd worn black slacks, we'd have been twins! (Instead, I wore a red sweater, short black skirt, black tights, and strappy black heels.) I loved the show, and I'm glad I can now say that I've seen the off-Broadway production. It was really hard, however, not to burst out singing in so many of the songs. I resigned myself to trying to tap my heels quietly instead. ;-)

(Oh, but neither of us brought a camera to the play. Sorry!)

CoCo Key.

Jan. 13th, 2008 11:13 am
navygreen: (PotC: Barbossa - which way?)
We're heading to CoCo Key Water Resort today for a day of fun! [livejournal.com profile] squeak_a_chu bought the boys tickets for Christmas, and she and her family are coming as well. We'd set aside this day several weeks back to make sure that Philip would be able to attend, too (work schedules and whatnot). Though I'm not crazy about wearing my swimsuit again, I am VERY excited to see the boys enjoy and experience this new, fun place! Hopefully Jack will be just now tall enough that he can go on all the waterslides - he's got the swimming skills for 'em.

(I keep meaning to post on that subject, but then I forget. The boys have both been in constant swim lessons since last April. A.J. is currently in Level 4, and Jack is in Level 3. Both are doing fabulously - quite the little "fish" we have!)

As for taking pics, I'm torn, torn, torn. The wishful side of me so badly wants to take my new cam with me - it's faster, better and - long lens! However, the practical side of me screams, "A water park?! Are you insane?!" So, me? Completely undecided. *sigh*
navygreen: (Christmas - blue)
It has become a new family tradition to check out the amazing gingerbread displays at the Mormon Trail Center. We ventured out to look for the first time last year, and we headed back last Friday evening to see this year's entrants. Once again, the displays were AMAZING!

The boys played a game again this year, finding letters next to certain built items among the gingerbread. Once all the letters were found, they unscrambled them to guess the special words: Winter Wonderland! A nice man gave them each a sticker for figuring out the game, and we all had a good time.

I wasn't going to take pictures this year, but the displays are just TOO amazing not to share! Enjoy!











I'll be nice and put the rest of the pictures behind a cut. There are a TON of them, but they are so very worth the look - I promise! :-)

84 pics. )
navygreen: (Shakespeare: quill)
Well, I've given myself a strict bedtime of midnight tonight. I've got lots and lots of things to post about, but I'm not sure how many I'll be able to get to in the next 41 minutes.

I'm now showered, powdered, lotioned and dressed in my jammies. Though I'm tired, I even took the time to dry my hair - since I had such a late, late shower (it was about 10:50pm when I hopped in the bath), I won't have to do my hair in the morning. Yay!

And I just ate a cheese stick. Without touching it, of course. ;-)

The washer is washing a small-ish load of dark laundry, and I hope to pop the load in the dryer before heading off to bed later. I'm sure I'll crash HARD tonight.
navygreen: (Christmas: cookie cutter)
hetterrific Heather watched the boys for me yesterday for a few hours while I worked lunch, and she took the boys back to her house for a special baking "adventure." I'd been begging her for a week or so to make me some more Hamentaschen, and she had a great idea to have the boys help her do it!

It's an adorable post with pictures and summary, and you should really go check it out! :-)

She's done so many cool things with the boys over the years, and they love spending time with her. In fact, "Um - Hedda?" was practically Jack's very first word, and he said it that way for the longest time. She's a very cool "aunt" to the boys, but too cool for labels, so we dropped "aunt" long before we ever started using it. ;-)
navygreen: (Thirsty?)
Or snowed in, I guess.

We'd been out of milk all day, and I finally braved the roads with the boys this evening to run and get some. I'd called a few places beforehand, as I didn't want to get all the way somewhere and find them closed, their milk trapped inside behind locked doors.

So we got in the car. And we backed out of the clear driveway and onto the street, and we set off. A-aaa-annndd wwwwwww-we sttt-taaaarr-tted bu-ummmmmpp-ppping arrrr-rrround ssoommme-th-thinggg likkkke tth-thiiiss.

The icy roads were quite bumpy, in case you couldn't tell. ;-) The boys were talking to one another, and I felt a bit guilty, but I explained to them that I needed them to be very quiet - that the roads were icy, and it was dark and that made me nervous, so I needed lots of quiet so that I could concentrate on the roads.

And they didn't utter another peep, either one of them. Once we pulled into the convenience store, we all hopped out and headed in together to get the milk. I bought a gallon of regular milk, and we each picked up small containers of flavored milks as a treat (chocolate for both me and A.J. and strawberry for Jack). Then we trooped back to the car and loaded up again.

I drove a different route home so that I wouldn't have to contend with the ice-covered hill entering Lockbourne Drive. We took it very slow - never getting above 20mph - and we made it easily back home with the new route. As we pulled into the garage again and I shut off the car, A.J. wiped his brow and said, "Whew! I'm so glad we made it back home. Those bumps were really scary!"

And we all laughed about it as we came inside to eat. We talked over 'Grandma's Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bake,' and we enjoyed our milks.

I feel accomplished. :-)
navygreen: (AJ: camera)
Two nights ago - the night before Philip left - something special happened. We had all been in our jammies, ready to finish up the last bits of laundry that he would need to pack, and I told A.J. that it would be bedtime soon, for he and Jack would need to wake up so much earlier than usual the next day.

He looked at me with big eyes, and his lip started to quiver just a bit as he said, "But Dad promised that we would go to Target together and spend time just looking at all the toys."

Well, I knew nothing of this plan. I told him that he'd need to ask Dad about it, and I explained that it was getting pretty late in the evening already, so I really didn't know. A.J. walked into the living room where Philip was still packing, but he was too shy to bring it up. I told Philip that A.J. needed to ask him something, and that propelled A.J. to spit it out.

Philip's eyes grew big, and I could tell that he'd forgotten this promise. Over A.J.'s head, I nodded that he should go ahead, even if it would make the night a bit later. So the two of them changed back into real clothes and headed out for some special time together at the last minute. Jack stayed home with me, and since he was in his room listening to his CD player, he never even knew they left, nor did he care to ask. He was happy as a clam doing his own thing, and I knew that A.J. would relish the special "Dad time" with just Philip while they did something they both enjoy: look at new toys.

They came home about an hour later. No purchases in hand (it wasn't part of the deal, and it's not about the toys - it's about the time shared), and A.J. was all smiles as he changed back into his jammies. I think they had a nice time together. :-)
navygreen: ('Affairs:' 101 creative ways)
I had a long, long phone call late last night, and I think it cleared quite a bit of air. It was a nice feeling.

I had some really great plans for this weekend, but now I need to come up with something else. Philip and I are both off from all work(s), but I can't come up with anything that's not just incredibly spendy. And it's supposed to be "colder than a witch's tit" this weekend, says hetterrific Heather.
navygreen: (Cars: life is a highway)
af_cop Philip had planned to take the boys to the 2007 Auto Show at the Qwest Center for some time, and that's exactly what they did this afternoon. Even though he worked last night, he woke up early and set out with just the boys for some special "dad & boys" time, sharing with them his love of cool cars.

And the boys were super-excited too, as a few really cool cars were to be at the Show: life-size versions of Lightning McQueen, Sally and Mater from the movie Cars! Even neater, a life-size version of Mack was there as well, and that was a surprise to all of them!

And they took pictures while they were gone, of course. :-)


Both boys sit on the steps of Mack.


Vrrrooooooooom! )

And I'd like to share these two humorous "car" clips. To get the maximum amusement out of the clips (videos on YouTube), it's essential that you watch the European link first:
European vs. Iraqi Burnouts

- European burnout
- Iraqi burnout

*grins*
navygreen: (Rock - you do.)
Girly time last night was hard, but it was needed. I think we all know exactly how much we mean to one another, and nothing feels quite so good as knowing that we're not holding back. I really have the best friends.

In addition to girly time, I got to spend several hours rocking, walking, swaying and generally playing with the cutest baby boy I know - Douglas! He gave us some monstrously huge smiles last night, and wanted to talk so much during dinner and playtime. I didn't eat when we all went to La Mesa (I just wasn't hungry, if you can imagine that), so I offered to entertain Douglas while everyone else ate their meals. We had a game going on - we tried to sneak drools while his mom and dad weren't looking, and we succeeded a few times! ;-)

I can't wait to see the new buglet this summer. 26.5 weeks is a loooong time from now!

I've got this mini-adventure rolling around in my brain, and I might take the boys out with me this afternoon for it. The adventure itself is for me, but I would let the boys pick a place for a quick dinner for a reward. Hmmm.

I have to have them fed early tonight anyway. We're heading to a Parents at Home get-together this evening from 5:30-7:30, and the kids will be playing while the parents enjoy "sweet and savory" appetizers and a white elephant gift exchange. It should be a fun time.

Philip made BLTs for lunch, and I'd snuggled in the bed to play with Baby under the comforters, so he brought one back to me, fixed up just the way I like them. I swear, sandwiches taste so much better when they're made by someone else. However, now the house smells of bacon, and it's too cold to open the windows and air it out.

I'm in the mood for a drive. A fast drive with the music blaring. Too bad I don't really drive much.

I think I'll go toss a load of laundry in the washer. I'll thank myself later, I'm sure.
navygreen: (Default)
A week before Christmas, we went on an adventure together. A friend had told me of amazing displays of gingerbread each year at the Mormon Trail Center in historic Florence. It's a free event, and I wanted to check it out. Philip was a bit skeptical - how amazing could gingerbread houses really be? - but he obliged me and we drove off in search of the place.

It was SO worth it! We found the place easily enough, only about 25 minutes away. We parked our car and entered the Center, where we were greeted by two women. They handed us small programs, and the boys were set on a mission: find certain things on a list (example: a melted snowman), and then make note of the letter near that item. Once all letters were found, they had to be unscrambled to come up with the title of a Christmas carol, and then they received a prize (a small candy cane).

A.J. was excited about the excitement, and he rushed around the tables with Jack following closely behind him. Philip helped Jack to complete his work, and then a sweet lady listened as Jack guessed through every single Christmas carol he knew before finally getting the right answer!

Meanwhile, I was taking pictures... and HOW. There's really nothing I can say to fully impart the magnitude of some of these works of art. Each gingerbread display was created by a family or a ward in one of the many Mormon churches in this area, and they were amazing! I'd never heard of this event before (though it takes place each year), and I fully intend to go back next year as well!


A gingerbread shepherd, complete with candy "cane" and his adorable, fluffy marshmallow sheep - so cute!


There was also a giant, life-size gingerbread house for kids to play in, and of course the boys spent some time in there. Oh, and a cut-out for folks to pose in. I snapped a picture of Philip as a gingerbread woman - heehee!

Pics of our family at the event. )

As for the rest, if you are curious, I will put the images behind a cut. There are many, but they are so worth the look. There are temples, carols, candy lakes and even a Sydney Opera House! I promise you - you've never seen gingerbread quite like this!

This way to the sugar high! )

navygreen: ('Affairs' - 101 Creative Ways)
Last Tuesday, hetterrific Heather and I had a special outing with my mom. I wanted to show my mom a cool place here in Omaha, and Heather needed to use up a gift certificate I'd given her for her birthday, so we all traipsed off to That Pottery Place once again (it's where we hosted starrchld Annie's shower back in September, too). And we proceeded to paint. Heather and I both had certain projects in mind, but Mom couldn't decide what she wanted to paint for a little while. I made a tic-tac-toe board for each of the boys, and then I decided to make a small snowman figurine while I was waiting for them to finish up their pieces. Heather ended up making a second piece as well.

Painting in progress... )

And then I returned today to pick them all up! I took pictures, and I need to mail my mom her piece tomorrow. I don't have pictures of Heather's pieces, as I figure she might want to post them herself.

The finished pieces. )
navygreen: (Cheshire cat)
I told the boys last night that we were going on an adventure this morning, and all evening they tried to trick me into giving them clues about what we would be doing. They were so excited!

This morning I got up early and dressed, and I went out to put down the first signs of our adventure before they were up. I wrote a message on the sidewalk, and then I came inside and helped them get ready to go. Once we were all ready to leave, we went out the front door. Jack went straight to the van, opened the door and started to get in - he was pretty shocked when I told him we were walking! We scurried across the street and onto the sidewalk to begin our adventure. After passing just a few blocks of pavement, the boys screeched to a halt in front of my sign:


Alphabet Walk.


I told the boys we were setting out on an adventure to find something that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Our first find? Ants! In an Anthill! And we were on our way!

Pictures. )

It took us just over and hour and a half to find everything, and the boys had to get very resourceful for some of the letters. Once we came inside, I loaded the pictures up for printing and ordered them for one-hour developing. The boys and I then went to a late breakfast/early lunch together, and we stopped to pick up the pictures on the way home. I bought two small photo albums for them as well, and we set to work making their 'Alphabet Walk Albums.' We punched small square pieces of paper out and then drew the letters of the alphabet on them and mounted them to the corresponding picture - ta-da!

And each of the boys has a favorite page... )
navygreen: ('Affairs' - magically gifted)
Yesterday (Tuesday) was a glorious day. It was the kind of day that fills my heart with peace and love - a perfect, relaxing day with my family.

I had showered the evening before, and I tumbled out of bed earlier than usual to make it to a 9am dentist appointment for myself. The dental technician and I had lovely conversation, and a typical 30-minute check-up turned into over and hour and a half, but it was so nice.

When I arrived home at almost 11am, I woke up Philip for the day. The boys had been happily playing in the living room, and I got them dressed and had them clean up their toys. We all headed out for a yummy and slow-paced lunch at La Mesa, our favorite Mexican restaurant. Afterwards, we went to Wal*Mart to find Philip some shorts for the summer (we'd donated his old ones to the church a few months ago for their garage sale). He picked out some jean shorts (without trying them on!), and then we meandered around in the toy aisles for a good while. We ended up snagging a few more DVDs for our collection, and then we came on home.

We quickly got the boys changed into their swim trunks, and then we all walked down the block to the Fire Hydrant Party. The boys played until the hydrant was turned off, and then we all walked back home. Philip had a flight chiefs' meeting to attend later in the afternoon, but he called in and asked if he could skip it this week and was told, "No problem." When we learned that we'd all get to spend the afternoon together uninterrupted, we tried to decide what we'd like to do.

We talked for a good while about setting up the waterslide, but in the end, we decided to head back out to the pool for more fun. We waited until a little later in the day to leave, and Philip and the boys played X-Box while I played online. Once we were all in our swimsuits and ready to leave, we loaded up into the car.

We arrived at the pool quickly (we'd gotten lost trying to find the place the day before, having never been there and not been given directions), but we found it was closing for an hour for swim lessons and dinner breaks. We didn't feel like grabbing any fast food, so we drove to a local grocery store and picked up some things. We chose 1/2 a large deli hoagie for us to all share, a bag of chips, chocolate milk for me and the boys and a soda for Philip. We drove back to a large playground we'd seen, and we spread our towels on the grass under a tree and had a picnic dinner together in the shade. We played music from the car while we ate, and it was a really nice time. We even fed the purple onions to the ants. ;-)

Finally it was time to head back to the pool, and we swam there until it was closed for the evening. The waterslides were shut down yesterday, but we'd taken life jackets for the boys, and they were each able to go off the diving board in the deep, deep end. I've got to say, the boys have no fear - especially Jack. Rather than being cautious and scared walking out onto the board for the very first time, he RAN down the board and jumped right off. They did a few cannonballs off the board as well. A.J. tired of the board more quickly than Jack, wanting to go swim in the regular sections of the pool, but Jack just kept going. After watching several of the older guys do fancy flips and dives off the board, Jack started imitating them by jumping/bouncing on the end of the board a few times before launching into the water. I *so* wished I'd brought my camera last night!

Philip and I both went off the diving board a few times as well, and then we finally made Jack stop so we could all swim together. Since the slides were shut down, we played together as a whole family in the shallower sections, chasing one another and having lots of water-tickle fights. It was a good time, and we'd even gotten in for less - only $6.25 last night for all of us (though we don't know why, since it had been $12.50 the night before).

We came home and stayed outside until we'd dried off a bit more. Philip dipped ice cream cones for everyone - vanilla ice cream on Oreo® chocolate cones - and they were so yummy! (I dripped some on my shirt in my last couple of bites.) I weeded the garden, and Philip and the boys used the hose to drown out the ground squirrels from their hole-y homes. They were excited to get three drowned squirrels out of one hole, and they played with the poor, waterlogged creatures for the next fifteen minutes or so (I took pictures!). Though I'd like to kill the critters for eating my tomatoes, we just set them free several yards away from our own.

The boys hopped in the tub, and then it was bedtime. Philip used the movie gift certificates we'd given him for Father's Day to see the late showing of Cars at the theater, and he got out after midnight. He picked up some bananas and strawberries for me on the way home, as I needed to make a fruit salad to take the lake today. We went to bed shortly after he came home, and I slept SO HARD.

It was a really great day, and everything was pretty much spur-of-the-moment (well, except for the dentist appointment, of course). I think we all need more days like that. :-)

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navygreen

February 2014

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