Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Annual May Cleveland Trip

We try to make it up to Cleveland in May to visit Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul before summer's craziness starts. We've been fortunate that both last year and this year we went up when the Reds were in town to play the Indians.

We thought it was only the weekend we were up there, but it turns out that every weekend they have "Kids Fest" where the lawn outside the stadium has great activities for all the kids. They had to sign a "contract" (waiver) first, then they could do speed pitch, hit in the batting cage and run the bases.

Charlie is our little Southpaw. He threw the lowest speeds that day, but he has great form and you better keep your eye on him--he's going places that only left-handed pitchers can.

I was surprised at how well the boys hit in the cage--all three of them. I don't think they've ever hit a ball pitched from a machine like that and they made contact with almost every pitch.

They had to of changed up the speeds depending on what age the kid was because the two boys that went in before them weren't hitting anything. And it cracked me up that the one right before was "waiting for the right pitch" even though it was a machine getting the ball across the plate each time. Louie, Benny, and Charlie get in there and start whacking the ball. You can see Uncle Paul and Grandpa looking on while Louie hits.

They even had little sets where the kids could get their picture taken. I thought Benny looked pretty believable here.

It was a hot, hot day and what brought out smiles in these sweaty babies? Well, besides shade and a cool breeze, Grandma bought waffle cones filled with soft-serve! Because the Reds certainly weren't bringing any smiles to their faces that day.

The Good Guys went home losers that day, but we enjoyed the rest of the weekend. After the game we went back to their house for a seafood dinner and once again Benny cleaned house with the beloved mussels. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that--Benny, Grandpa and Uncle Paul with a big bowl of empty shells.

We look forward to our next trip up North, and if I can get the pictures off my phone, I'll post some of the boys fishing at Lake Erie before we left to go home.

Pictures from the last day of school

There's times that I go to pick up the boys from school and it is a downpour. That would not have been fun on the last day of school, and we've been lucky that both last year and this year it has been a gorgeous day.

We got there early and Charlie and Meredith ran around the school yard with some of the other little siblings.

The preschoolers and kindergartners get out first, so this is Benny (and Charlie) with some other kindergarteners. I couldn't get over how nice they all stood together--and this is with no instruction.

Apparently something happens between kindergarten and first grade because this is about the best shot I got of Louie and his friends. Although, two of the goofiest are Ben and Char. Louie's wonderful teacher was kind enough to step in for the picture. I kept thinking that must be relieved to have a break from these goobers, but I swear that when I went to say goodbye she had a tear in her eye. I think she grew very attached to our little monsters, and they in turn were very good for her.

This is afterward at the water party. It cracks me up that they are choosing to stick their heinies and faces in the spray of the water. Is that a boy thing? (Look at Benny's face.) And Charlie also chose to wear black sweat pants. It was part of his "baseball" outfit, that also included knee-high gray socks and a plain green T-shirt. He said he was on the Green Sox team.

The Garden Party

On Sunday we celebrated Meredith's second birthday with family in our backyard, making use of our newly planted vegetables and flowers by having a garden party. This suits Miss Meredith because she's is quite the little gardener herself, helping in all aspects of keeping up our yard. She loves to mow, weed (sometimes not the right "weeds"), and she especially loves watering, but what kid doesn't?

But we did more of a "dressy" garden party, wearing nice outfits and drinking lemonade out of jelly jars, and then we threw in the theme of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to help come up with ideas for the food.

This is the happiest, bubbliest baby you'll ever meet--Miss Maggie, my goddaughter. She and her sister Gracie were wearing matching outfits that had flowers on them and they coordinated well with their cousin!

I got this idea from one of the many sites out there that used the book for a theme. I really wanted the menu to include food that didn't require a lot of heat (the oven or the grill), so we made deli sandwiches and because the caterpillar ate sausages, I used the slowcooker to make a peppers, onions and sausage recipe. Easy, and it did make anyone too hot (poor Kev, always stuck with the grilling!).

Instead of individually serving it, we cut up the caterpillar's fruit and tossed it in a bowl, except for the watermelon, which the kids love eating by the slice. I saw another cute idea where you use a watering can to serve "bug juice." At our house the "bug" was a lemon.

The caterpillar ate a piece of chocolate cake, so I just threw a box of devils food cake in a bundt pan and then used a 4-inch Pyrex bowl to bake a little topper to make this grassy hillside where paper butterflies hang out. I made some icing for the cake but that did not work because the frosting is supposed to drip over the sides and the stuff I made kind of clumped. What's funny is that I got the idea from a variation of a cake Katie Brown did on her PBS show. Lou and Ben watched it with me and they thought it would be the perfect cake for Mere's bug/garden party. When Lou saw me struggling with the icing he said,"Remember what she said, Mom. Wherever there's a mistake, just stick a flower." Such a smart kid, I have. Unfortunately, there weren't enough flowers or butterflies to cover this cake!

Benny's batteries were worn out by the time we sang "Happy Birthday." We went ahead and sang anyway. (You can see the caterpillar's cherry pie in the picture, courtesy of Grandma H.)

That Mere is one excited little candle-blower-outer! She blew it out a few times before we were done with the song and I had to re-light them.

All in all, we had a nice time and the weather cooperated with us this year, as opposed to the catastrophe that was her first birthday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Most Wondeful Time of the Year

For many of you who know me, you may think this is contradictory, but I absolutely love the relaxed pace of the summertime. Yes, I schedule things entirely too far in advance and I can be wicked-good at planning out each minute of the day. But when it comes down to it, I like the kids (and me and Kevin!) being able to wake up when we're ready; go to bed when we feel like it; play whatever game interests us at the moment; go to the park when it's warranted; or go swimming whether it's 10am or 6pm. I just love summer.

Yesterday the boys got out at 12:30pm and we went to a friend's for a "water party" consisting of water guns, a sprinkler, water balloons, and a game of "chase the deer in the park behind the house." It was a perfect way to end the year!

Last night, Kevin and I were getting the house and yard ready for a busy weekend of cookouts and celebrating Meredith's birthday and the kids played baseball into the twilight, with one of my favorite backyard accessories lighting up the night for them (my globe string lights--thank you Joe and Erin!).

They went to bed two hours later than usual and I wish they would have slept in a little more, but as I type this, one by one they are waking up and heading downstairs to watch Spiderman, from the sounds of it. It'll take about a week, I'm sure, but soon they'll be taking advantage of sleeping in, if for no other reason than that the activities of summer wears a body out!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baby Mere is all grown up :)

Today is Meredith's second birthday and she will be greeted with a beautiful, sunny day...when she wakes up. That is one thing about Mere, she loves to sleep!

This little girl doesn't speak a whole lot, but she has plenty to say! She has her words she likes to say, but regardless of that Meredith is very expressive. She is so funny--and she knows it. She has a whole slew of faces that she uses to get a laugh. She will find a hiding spot and actually stay there until you find her, which can be nerve-wracking for a mom!

Her favorite song to sing is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." She loves to color (especially on herself). She loves to mix it up with her brothers, diving on top of them, wrestling around. But then she'll turn around, put on her purse and walk off with her shades and cell phone!

She loves playing "Mommy" for her cousin Maggie and her second cousin Thomas. She is a big help around the house--unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and using every last diaper wipe to clean the surfaces of the house!

LinkWe are so lucky to have this little pistol in our lives. She sure makes each day fun and exciting!

These pictures our from our community's Memorial Day parade this past Monday. To read about the day Meredith was born click here.