Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hey remember that time?

Way back in 2010 when we were trying to put our house on the market?
The same week Jon was in Austin for a week then came home and had a vasectomy?
And I worked all day to come downstairs to find the entire house had been covered by the painters?

House painting

And I swore that when we moved into our BRAND NEW HOUSE that we would NEVER EVER do home repairs UNTIL AT LEAST the boys were in college because I get PTSD thinking about the fridge and the TV being covered in plastic?


Today I watched a 6'4" Jon crawl under plastic tarps on the stairs to go get us lunch because everything on our first floor (YES EVEN THE FRIDGE AGAIN) is covered.


But this time, we have two other floors to hide in.
And Jon's in town.
And the boys are almost 8 instead of 4.
And Jon's not having another vasectomy nor are we buying a house and putting another one on the market.

So mostly, I'm just recording this for posterity because I CAN NOT WAIT to see the looks on Nate and Alex's faces! SURPRIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSE.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring cleaning, big kid style

Between Sunday and Monday, it was time to wash down the pollen from our screen porch and do some spring cleaning of the outdoor toys. I quickly went through the outdoor toys with the boys, discarding anything broken and setting aside anything they don't use.

We had a large plastic baseball bat and ball, and was surprised to hear the boys say they didn't want to use it because it's for babies. Yeah, I guess it is. Once everything was cleaned out, the outdoor toys now consist solely of balls, frisbees, and weapons of all sorts - swords, shields, and Nerf guns - and made me realize we are firmly in big kid world.

I got a recommendation for the Nerf Triad EX-3 Blaster from a dad in Target with 5 boys in the Nerf aisle. It is, by far, the best Nerf gun in the entire arsenal, despite being one of the smallest.  At Target it's $7. If you're looking for a gift for Nerf enthusiasts, this would be the one we'd recommend.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter at the beach

On Thursday evening, we picked the boys up from their sleep away camp and headed straight to the beach. The first hour or so of the trip we chatted about camp. They were both so exhausted and overwhelmed from being sick and away from home for the first time that they were not excited at the prospect of going back. Now that a few days have settled, they are already talking about going back. This photo from camp shows just how much fun they had. (Main complaints: throwing up and cold weather.)

Beach house Easter

This was our last trip to the beach house before fall and we had a long list of homeowner items to complete. The forecast was horrible but we decided to make the most of it. Just to highlight how much packing goes into these trips, please enjoy my little game of beach house elevator Tetris. (I refuse to make more than one trip!)

Beach house Easter

On Friday I worked while Jon dragged the boys to the cable company, the hardware store, and the grocery store. After work, Nate wanted to surf before it started to rain so I took him out.


I keep posting photos of him standing but just like regular surfing, there is a lot of waiting around, a lot of paddling, and a lot of wipe outs.


Only one way to warm up - HOT TUB TIME!

Beach house Easter

Overnight there was a huge storm and the forecast said all day rain on Saturday. When we got up, there was a break in the rain so Alex and I went for a walk. On the walk, he asked if he could still visit the beach house when he is an adult. I told him he is always welcome, even when he has a family and (maybe) little kids. Particularly little kids!

Beach house Easter

The storm washed up lots of rocks and random other things that were super fun to throw into the ocean.

Beach house Easter

As the day wore on, the wind picked up substantially. I suggested a kite to keep the boys interested in staying out. Nate said it was a terrible day for kites..... BAHAHAHAHA. This left-behind kite suppppperrrr sucked but it was insanely fun to fly it and watch it crash as we tried to jump up and grab it.

Beach house Easter

The boys realllly wanted to go inside so I busted out some sand skills to keep myself warm and keep them outside.

Beach house Easter

After warming up, we dyed eggs.

Beach house Easter

Sunday morning the Easter bunny came. There was a mad rush egg hunt and many jelly beans were consumed.

Beach house Easter

The storm also brought a huge surge that wiped out parts of dunes all along the island. I got out for a walk (in the rain and insane wind) and many feet of dunes were eroded again. This has been a tough year for storms and beach erosion.

Beach house Easter

The rain and wind never let up on Sunday so we packed up early, and headed home to 70 and sunny skies. It's sad to say good bye to the beach house for a few months but it's nice to know we already have a plan to be back out there in fall.

Beach house Easter

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Joshua Tree and AZ legs of the trip

When we found out we were going to Palm Desert, I really wanted to fit in a visit with Jen. She suggested Joshua Tree National Park to let the kids rock scramble. Despite going to college in LA, I never made it to Joshua Tree. I now understand why it is a huge national park because the landscape was foreign and breathtaking.


For reference, here is what the kids looked like the last time we met up with Jen and family. Jen and Joe are so nice and laid-back that it felt like we had just seen them as we chatted and hiked through the park.


The boys loved hanging out, climbing on rocks and trying to keep up with Jake and Jadyn.


And of course I had to take some jumping photos.


The rock is granite and the formations were amazing. The science is freaking cool - magma cooled below the surface and hardened. Water got in, eroded the magma into roundish shapes, then flash floods eroded ground cover until the formations were visible. It was quite a surprise to find this gem eroded into a big granite boulder.


Jadyn was happy to be a model, and wanted her photo taken at tons of spots...


while Jake was happy to rock scramble and not have his photo taken.


And my kids? Went to Joshua Tree National Park and made farting noises.


(I kid - they LOVED it.)

It was a really great side trip to see the Funny Noses and I hope we can make it back to spend more time.


After that we hit the road to Phoenix to see my sister and family.


And guess what? Minecraft was a huge hit with these kids also!


It was hot in Phoenix as well, so we spent a lot of time hanging out at the house with the kids swimming at the pool. Both boys were excited to play with their dog (who loves having water squirted in his mouth).


It was great to get a chance to catch up in person, and made me sad that geography is stupid and they live far away. I actually had a chance to reflect a lot on geography on this trip because the southwest is such a different landscape than the southeast. It made me really want to see the pacific northwest sometime soon.

We came back, unpacked, did laundry, then packed the kids back up for Camp Seafarer. Unfortunately both kids puked yesterday morning when they woke up, so they spent the first half of the day in the infirmary. They both took naps then woke up fine so they stayed at camp. We pick them up tonight.

And as much as I thought I was super brave to let my boys go to overnight camp, when I heard they were sick and in the infirmary, I just wanted to get in the car and drive 3 hours to pick them up and give them a hug. I've said it before, but the hardest part of parenting is all the little ways you have to let them go over time. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Palm Desert leg of the trip

In Palm Springs, we hung out with Jon's brother Chris and family, Jon's sister Liz and family, and Jon's dad Lloyd and wife. Every day it was 13 of us. Our rental house had two golf carts so we drove those between houses.


We quickly learned Minecraft is The Game to play.

The four big kids got along like gang busters - they were all born within 15 months of each other. They played and played and laughed and laughed. It was fantastic to see.

Besides swimming and day drinking, we had a lot of other fun adventures, like going to the wildlife preserve.


(This zoo also happened to have my favorite animal exhibit of all time.)

There was a traveling exhibit I would highly highly recommend. It was a big dome filled with birds and you could feed them. Before we went in, we all imagined we'd quietly hold sticks as we fed them.


Instead what happened is birds swooped all around us, landed on whatever part of our bodies they wanted, and pecking us all over. At one point, one climbed in Jon's shorts pocket. One climbed on my shoulder and Jon said, "You're a pirate!!" and I laughed so hard I cried. (The other adults watched this horror from outside and laughed hysterically.)


And if there is only one thing you take away from my entire blog ever, it would be the power of cognitive behavioral therapy to help treat anxiety. Alex EXCITEDLY jumped onto a camel and took a ride. A year ago, this kid would run the other direction when seeing dogs on the street.


We also had a photo shoot of the entire family. The kids were dressed to kill.

The big event was Jon's dad's retirement and there was a party one night to celebrate.

(Jon and I should have coordinated colors better.)


The restaurant had an outdoor putting green next to our table, which was a life saver as it entertained the kids for four hours.


The kids did a mock newscast as part of the evening (Lloyd was in media). Nate stole the show when he repeatedly asked Lloyd who his favorite grandchild was. Over. And over and over. He's got a future interviewing people, asking hard questions, and possibly making them cry.


It was a special trip, one I'm sure we'll remember for how well the kids got along. I know I force the kids to take photos but they'll thank me one day as they see how they've grown each year they get together.


After the end of the trip, we got in the car with snacks to hit up a huge national park..... more on that tomorrow. I'm still dreaming of these perfect, perfect chips.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm baccckkkkkk

I mentioned we had a few things planned for the April track out. Last Friday we flew to Palm Springs to meet up with Jon's family to celebrate his dad's retirement. We spent 5 days with this bunch of crazies:


(Do you know what kind of mad skillz it takes to get four 7-8 year olds and two 2 year olds to all look at the camera at the same time???)

 Then we hung out in Joshua Tree with Jen and family for a day before driving to Phoenix.


Then we hung out in Phoenix with my sister and these crazies for 3 more days.


I obviously have many more photos of the trip to share. For now, I'm still jet lagged and tired. We took the boys to the YMCA early this morning for their first SLEEP AWAY CAMP! 3 days 2 nights at Camp Seafarer. I am both excited and nervous for them. Mostly excited.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Art show!

On the last day of third quarter, Alex had a note in his folder.


It was a tough day to be a twin mom, as Nate was upset his art work did not get selected. But we reminded Nate he won his class spelling bee and that overall, it was super awesome that someone from the Case family got selected for the honor.

Since Jon was out of town, I took the boys to the art exhibit and the reception. Alex's art is the butterfly all the way at the top. The reception was a bust as they only had oatmeal raisin cookies (boys' reaction: WHAT!) so we celebrated Alex's night with ice cream (Nate's favorite) and pound cake (Alex's favorite).

Sometimes the small things are so very, very big.