Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Day of Summer Vacation

Greg just asked Ben,"What was your favorite part of summer vacation?" Ben's reply was, "Going to Aunt Kathy's!!!!!" He and Eva have spent the last week hanging with Aunt Kathy and Uncle John, going to Chuck-E-Cheese, the pool, and catching fish on the dock! Yes, I am sure last week was a blast (and, of course, it sticks in his mind because it just happened), but what about the previous eight weeks? We did a lot and had lots of fun. Here are some highlights from the past month:

We made ice cream in a bag.  Ben was only able to shake it for like 1 minute before his arms got too tired and too cold. I think next time, we'll put the ice cream bags in a pillowcase. He can hold one side and I'll hold the other, then we'll shake it. That way, neither of us has to deal with freezing hands! The ice cream was a little (well, a lot) soupy, but it was actually very yummy.

Summer Movie Nights! Once a week, we let the kids stay up a little later than usual, set the little couch up with a cozy blanket and began a movie after bath. The movie title was always a surprise. Eva's favorite was Tangled. Ben hated Tangled. He said it was the second worst movie ever. I asked what the worst movie ever was, and he said he didn't have one. Soooo, I guess Tangled was it! That didn't stop him from watching it from beginning to end without taking his eyes off the screen!

As part of my birthday celebration, we went to The Melting Pot for dessert. It was really fun and the kids were very well-behaved. They looooved dipping the treats in the chocolate!

Ben complimented our server on the best chocolate ever and asked for his autograph. Heehee.

Believe it or not, Eva didn't get too messy. She did good!

We went to Lowry Park Zoo again with Aunt Susan and Makayla.

Ben rode the Tiger Chase (?) ride all by himself, like, three times! And no hands!

He looks happy here.

He does not look happy here. Such a pre-teen. Eva, on the other hand, thought the train was awesome.

She also enjoys The Flying Bananas.

Feeding the fish

The Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom - these guys were especially excited to drive the race cars.

We were super hot.

Getting ready to take off - Ben drove, but Greg had to press the pedal. Greg said that Ben did a great job steering around the track.

And, oh my lord, this had to be the most stressful five minutes of our Disney Vacation. Eva HAD to drive. You know how little kids pretend steer by moving the steering wheel from left to right all herkey-jerkey? Well, that was our Tomorrowland Speedway experience. We were bouncing around like crazy, but she wailed when I tried to gain some control over the wheel. There were a few times when I felt like we were going to bounce right out of the car (even though we were securely belted in). My back hurt when we got off the ride! Not fun! I'm driving with Ben next time!

The teacups were fun for the three of us, not so much for Greg. I figured that we would just rotate around the center teapot, knowing the Greg doesn't like spinny rides. However, Ben was able to spin us round and round pretty well! I was impressed. Greg was queasy.

An attempt at a family photo

The awesome pirate ship pool at Caribbean Beach hotel. Ben, especially, had a blast! He must have gone down the big kid slide more than 50 times. Literally.

Did I mention the rain? Ugh.
While I love summer vacation and it's great to look back at all the fun things we did, I am also excited about the upcoming school year. I am lucky to be a teacher and have so many vacations in common with the kids. Many people don't have that opportunity, so I am grateful for all the time that I do have with my very awesome Ben and Eva.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I love taking photographs. I have not devoted a lot of time to studying techniques, but it's definitely something I'd be interested in doing at some point in the future. In my Google Reader today, I came across a contest from iheartfaces. The theme was "water" and the photo must include a face (at least one, I would imagine). So, figuring that I had hundreds of beach and pool photos, I started making a mental inventory of ones I really liked. One stood out in my mind, but I had to think back to where it would be located. My photo files are organized by year (and then by month), and I knew the photo in my head was taken in November and that Ben was little, so I went to November 2006, and there it was! This is one of my all-time favorite pictures:

It was taken at Fort DeSoto, and like I said, Ben was just over a year old. We walked out on the North Beach to play a little bit in the sand and on the playground. At the point that this photo was taken, Ben was whipped. I love everything about it. Here are some more from that day:

See, told ya he was tired!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fastest 18 Holes Ever

Today, we went miniature golfing, at Ben's request. I recall the last time we went mini golfing at the old course on Gulf Boulevard (the one I remember going to as a kid!), and I had to post pictures from back then. This was almost exactly three years ago (Ben was just shy of three years old) and he had a major meltdown on, I think, Hole #16. Check it out:

What a difference a couple of years makes! Today's golfing experience was just as hot, but our kids are a whole lot more laid back now. Phew. Makes for a much more enjoyable time. I noticed that I took very similar photos this time that I did last time:

When we got home, Grandpal (that's Grand-paaawwl, in case you are wondering, and how Ben actually spells it) came over and we went to the pool. Eva and I were hanging out on the raft, and Ben was pulling us around the pool when somehow, his very loose bottom tooth got caught on one of the holes in the raft and got yanked out! AAAHHH! He freaked out a little bit, since this was his first tooth that came out totally on its own (the first three were "wiggled out" by the dentist after his playground accident). Unfortunately, we could not find the tooth that fell  out! We did our very best to search the pool, deck, and even the raft, but no luck. I am certain the Tooth Fairy understands that these things happen, right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Why do all of my posts titles look the same? It's always the subject and an exclamation mark. I need to try to vary that!

Anyway, today was a very lazy day, but we did undertake a big cooking project - cakeballs! I've made them before, last Christmas I think it was, and thought it would be fun to get the kids involved since it does take a lot of steps.

1 box of the cake mix of your choice
1 can of cream cheese frosting
melting candy/chocolate of your choice (I used milk chocolate, but you can use white chocolate, dark chocolate, whatever!)

1. Make the cake as directed on the box (be careful not to undercook)
2. Let cake cool completely
3. Crumble cake into a large bowl
4. Mix in cream cheese frosting
5. Put mixture in freezer for a while (otherwise the ball-forming is much too gushy and mushy)
6. Use your hands to shape the mixture into smallish balls (mine were about 1" in diameter, Ben's were...of varied shapes and sizes!)
7. Put balls on a cookie sheet and put in freezer for a while
8. Melt chocolate candy/bark/chips slowly (don't overcook)
9. Roll each ball in the melted chocolate with a spoon (I don't know of any easier way...suggestions welcome)
10. Put balls on wax paper to harden
11. Store in the fridge (my favorite) or on the counter in an airtight container

Ben did an awesome job measuring all of the ingredients

Eva did an awesome job trying to sneak chocolate

Ben's first time using the electric mixer

Eva's first time being one inch from chocolate and not putting her finger in it

Of course I let him taste a little cake batter

My princess ballerina had some, too. Can you tell?

What happened to the shirt? Cake batter happened! Bowl licking happened! (I spared you those photos)

Check out those cakeballs!

Very carefully dipping the cakeballs in melted chocolate. We didn't have any wax paper, so I used printer paper. Yeah, I said it.

Ta da! Not pretty, but mmm-mmm-good!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

House Party!

 Well, no, not really. Sounds exciting, though, right? This week, we're sticking close to home. No big plans, other than tennis lessons and possibly hitting the beach on Friday. I try to keep things sort of fun, even if we're just hanging out around here.

We do some science-y kinds of things a lot. Ben has been creating potions, generally consisting of water, salt, liquid soap of some sort, and maybe even some sprinkles thrown in for good measure. We also did a little sink vs float investigation, in which Ben made predictions, observations, and recorded the data (gosh, I sounds like a teacher...oh wait...)
Check out those goggles: Safety first!

Eva has to lend a helping hand  

The results (I don't know why it's turned)

The happy scientist
Inspired by my new favorite time sucker, Pinterest, I made a hopscotch grid in our living room with painter's tape. While I was making it, Ben kept commenting, " you think Dad's gonna get mad? I think Dad's not going to like this." I had to reassure him multiple times that painter's tape would not stick to the floor permanently.

I've been on kind of a croissant kick, so we've had two delicious croissant based snacks this week. One was this AMAZING cinnamon sugar cheesecake croissant thingie:
(Forgot to take a picture - this is from the recipe!)

The other was a peanut butter chocolate chip croissant thingie. Seriously yum.
Eva was my helper (when she wasn't stealing the chocolate chips. See that face? That cute little mouth is filled with chocolate chips)

It was a hit! Ben ate three! And, yes, that's spilled milk. Welcome to my world.
 And finally, we have been spending a lot of time at the pool. Eva is getting to be a great little swimmer. She has absolutely no fear (which is kind of scary), loves to jump, and actually swims under water. She doesn't even try to keep her head above water. The key is getting her to use her arms and legs all the time! She is pretty good about swimming either to me, to the step, or to the side, though. Ben, of course, is an awesome swimmer. He has learned a bunch of different kinds of floats in swimming lessons, and has a sort of crazy free-style thing going on. He also loves to jump in, and I would like him to learn how to dive.
This is the first time that I feel confident to not be in the pool while the kids are in the pool. Of course, I am right there, and I tell Eva to stay on the stairs if I am not in the pool. She likes to play on the stairs, so it's okay.

Doing the crab crawl


Blowing water out the back of the noodle

Taking a breather and looking adorable

Silly faces!

Riding a horsey - "Heeheheeheeeheeheeheee!!!" That's Eva's version of "Neigh!"

They both loved jumping on to the raft

Next week, I have a couple of trainings to attend, so the kids will be with Aunt Kathy and Uncle John (Helllllloooooo, Chuck-E-Cheese!!!). They are looking forward to it!