Saturday, August 25, 2012

Becca's Bike

A little bit ago we found a bigger bike for Michael and gave the training wheel bike to Jon.  While Jon has liked it, he has been pretty cautious about it.  Becca, however, wants to ride it all the time.  Her feet don't really reach the petals on it and so it means me pushing her up and down the driveway.

This week I found the perfect bike for Becca.  She absolutely loves it.  As long as we are a bit downhill, she can already petal all by herself.

She saw me putting these pictures up and kept saying "Me Bike" and pointing to herself with a smile that crosses her whole face.  She is so proud of herself for being like her big brothers.

While the pedaling is fun, Becca gets just as much fun out of stopping every couple feet to honk the horn.  :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School

We had a back to school ice cream social this week.  And while it freaks me out a bit, I now have two children who will be going to school.  We got to go and visit their classrooms and talk to their teachers.  Jon will be in 4s preschool 3 afternoons a week and Michael will be all day everyday (sob) in 1st grade.  Here are my big boys showing off their lockers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Vacations are done with for us now and we are starting to settle back into the school year routine.  I love vacations, but I have to say I do love returning to routine also.  There is a rhythm now to our days that allows for peace and productiveness that just aren't always there in the summer.

Michael has been very excited about going back to school.  He has spent many hours in the past few weeks on Khan Academy.  This is a math website (although I believe it has broadened beyond math now) that has instructional videos followed by practice exercises, and you earn badges by how well you work through it all.  Michael has long since left the beginning levels and has been challenging himself with multiplying decimals and learning about conic sections.  He finally got stuck when he couldn't understand the distributive property, which we assured him was like sixth grade material and it was ok for his first grade brain to not get it yet.

I did feel a bit bad for the poor kid in the neighborhood the other day.  Michael was trying to talk to him about all the different math problems and he looked totally uninterested.  So Michael has taken to talking to pretend students around him while he is on the computer.  He narrates through how to click on different things to find the videos or practices problems.  Then he explains how to solve the problem, how to enter the answer, and so on.  (I know what you are all thinking - Like parent like child!  And we love it!)  The other day he talked Jon into joining his class.

Jon is still my child that plays the best by himself.  He loves playing with Michael for a time and Becca for a time, but it is always broken up with some time on his own.  And what does he do?  Car races, car football games, car boxing matches, car soccer games, car whatever.  I use to think that after Michael's one track mind for sports it was so refreshing to have a son who liked to other things, like play with cars.  I'm now realizing that his mind is equally one tracked, just around cars.  Here is blue team vs. red team.

Becca has been getting into puzzles recently.  She won't try it on her own yet, but we sit down and pick out the pieces one by one and she carefully puts them all together.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scrapbook pages from vacation

As a bit of way to wrap up our summer review I thought I'd share some scrapbook pages I have put together with some of our vacation photos.

These first two are a two page spread about some of the beach/water activities we did at the cape.
Credits: Peace, Love, and Flip Flops by WM[squared] and Crossbone Cuts; Template from Be Inspired - Heidi J v2 by WM[squared]

And then one from our week with the DeJong cousins:
Credits: Cupcakes and Lemonade by Alissa Jones, Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs and Find Your Bliss Designs, font is Nueva Std.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Catch Up 9

We had one more vacation to head out on this summer and that was a week at the DeJong cottage with all 8 cousins together.

The week was suppose to run from a Wed to Wed.  At the beginning of the week my Uncle was going to be installing new and bigger windows overlooking the lake.  I was to call and check on the status that week before going up.  As is usually the case we found out that there was unforeseen trouble and the project was taking longer than planned.  We were told that we could still be up there but the when I talked with my sisters we decided that keeping the kids away from construction was not the way we wanted to spend our vacation, so we delayed the start a few days.  It turned out that we were there for the very end of the project, but then we got to take full advantage of the magnificent view the new windows provided which was perfect!

Going into the week we were also unsure as to how relaxing of a vacation it would be with 8 children in the cottage age 1 month through 6 years.  It sounded a bit daunting.  However, I think my siblings would agree that it went much smoother than we feared it might.  First, the two babies are such laid back and easy things. They were content to lay around and watch things most of the time and when there was some fussing, there were anywhere from 6-9 adults each day to take turns holding them.  (Of course I say this as one of the moms who didn't have to nurse 8 times a day or get up with them in the middle of the night.)  Second, the older kids got along great together.  They each had their day to be grouchy, but for the most part they entertained each other more than they fought.  And we didn't have any child in the crawling or just learning to walk phase which meant we didn't need an eye on them every second to make sure they were safe.  Third, even though we had 8 kids we had a bunch of adults too.  This meant that we could play tag team parenting. We each got a day, evening, or hour here and there to go off without the kids while someone else was watching them.

So here are some pictures.  Water was by far the favorite thing to do and Sam brought out his family's boat for the week.  Here are the kids all ready to go on the boat:

Michael was the first to want to go in the tube.  The others had a blast watching.

Becca had a turn too.  While she seemed to have fun she was content with just once and didn't want to go again any other day.

Jon actually became the star tuber and asked to go again and again.  He loved that he could control the speed by signaling the boat driver.

The cousins got in the action too - driving the boat,

hanging out,

and tubing also.

In addition to the boat, the water was fun to just play in.  The turtle was a favorite.  Since the water was so shallow and we had life jackets for the 2 year olds it was a pretty relaxing time for the adults to cool off too.  Oh, and you can't see Michael here because he is running and jumping off the end of the dock which was his favorite water activity.

We also took the kids out on some excursions.  We found out the Fremont library has a great children's section and that Fremont has a wonderful air conditioned McDonald's with a fabulous play place.  We also found a fun park at one of the local elementary schools.

This car was made perfect for our group:

Ever since we had three of us pregnant together people have been commenting on how much fun these three will have growing up as same age cousins.  I think that they are finally getting old enough to really begin to see that happening.

Meals for the kids became a bit of an assembly line process to put together.  It was a good thing they all like eating the same types of food.

The six of them really did just about everything together that week.  In fact when poor Luke had to spend some time on the potty and his mom set up a movie on the computer to keep him sitting to do his business, none of the cousins wanted to be left out.

Oh, and like I said there were 8 cousins there.  I think this is the first time I have way more picture of the big kids and not the babies, but they were there.  Micheal especially took on his roll of big cousin by helping to play with them and attend to them when they fussed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Catch Up 8

We came back home to find our yard almost entirely brown.  The temperatures in Holland had been steadily in the 90s and without rain while we were gone.  This picture shows it much improved already after a couple days of watering but still lacking in much green.

Jon is still resolutely avoiding sprinklers so he chose to play in the pool more and race boats up and down the new slide we got.

As temperatures were still boiling, the kids couldn't be outside too much so they resorted to games inside to blow off energy.  A favorite is chase each other in circles through our house.  Unfortunately for Becca she misjudged a turn and ran into the corner of a doorway.  Ouch!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Catch Up 7

Our East Coast tip next took us to Boston for time at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  The backyard was a favorite play place where Becca worked hard to master the rope swing.

We also went out one day to meet Great Grandma at a playground followed by a yummy lunch at Friendly's.

And of course we went down town to take a ride on the swam boats.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Catch Up 6

So are you ready for some more pictures?

One of the great almost daily adventures at the cape was to take the boat out for some water and beach play.

Jon and Becca all ready to go.

Not everyone could go in the big boat, so some people road in kayaks.  The kids LOVED this and we had to make sure to rotate turns evenly.  Usually they would share a kayak with an aunt or uncle.  However one time Aunt Anne gave the kayak over to Michael with the intent that she would swim along side him to help him out.  Turns out Michael had four fabulous first strokes with the paddle and I turned to see him taking off across the lake himself with Aunt Anne left far behind.  Too bad I don't have a picture of that.

Becca, our little water rat was in absolute heaven.  We had to make sure she kept her life jacket on at all times because she would just take off into the water.

Jon found a fun game with Uncle Andrew were he got pulled along for a fun ride.  He laid on the board yelling out commands for slower, faster, and medium!  Mom and Dad were happy to have Uncle Andrew around to supply the adult energy needed for this game.

Michael was in heaven when Grandpa went out and bought a tube.

But it was Uncle Andrew that really did the stunt work.

The kids had a great time on the boat and water playing with family.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Catch Up 5

Our next stop out east was Cape Cod.  One of things we always need to do when by water with Grandpa is to spend an evening at the pier.  The kids had a blast.  Grandpa saw some great boats, the kids tried to run and climb on everything, and Grandma and Mom survived a night of heightened nerves for fear kids might fall in the water.

One of the highlights of the evening was a clamming ship that was unloading huge bins of clams.  We had so much fun watching all of the cranes, gears, and other equipment they used.  The boat owner also opened up one of the clams so the kids could take a look inside.

Another highlight of the evening was fabulous lighting for some fun family photos.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Catch Up 4

While in New Jersey we also got to spend some great time with family.  When we could stand the heat we attempted to get outside.  This included a fun day at the park with tennis,

swings, and slides.

We had a great time with you Aunt Sue and Great-Grandma!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Catch Up 3

Our second summer trip was three weeks out east.  Week one was spent in New Jersey with Tim's Grandmother and Aunt Sue.  However, we also took time that week to head back to Sesame Place.  As last year, this place was so much fun for us all.

Favorites again included the flying Elmo fish

and Big Bird's balloon ride.

Jon also fell in love with the big trampoline.  Poor Becca though was so overwhelmed that she just sat down and cried.  (That is her in the middle with the blue striped shirt.)  It took me a couple of minutes standing on the side lines to encourage her enough to get up and come over so I could take her out.

Michael had the most fun on the roller coaster and the water slides.

We stopped by Elmo's world

and watched the big parade.  Here Jon and Becca are watching their favorite characters: Jon - Abby and Becca - Elmo