Monday, July 15, 2013

Santa Keeps Promises

Santa gave Max and Sullivan this little model playset on Christmas morning.  A note was attached explaining that he had commissioned this playset to be built for them, but they would need to wait until spring for the life size version.  
The boys didn't forget.  And neither did Santa.  

Our very generous and talented friend, Matt, took my vague sketch of an idea and turned it into this...
Daddy and Matt worked tirelessly.  The boys spent hours sitting in the yard watching them work.  
A little dinner entertainment watching Dad prep the space.
Max couldn't believe that out of everyone in the world Santa hired his Uncle Matt to do the job.  How convenient!  And how cool that Uncle Matt knew Santa.
 I love for Max and Sullivan to see their Dad creating something with his hands (Billy is more of a sidekick in these situations, but our little guys don't know any different :) .  Billy is the opposite of "handy", but we're determined that this handicap will stop with our boys.
 They were so intrigued with the measuring, leveling, sawing and drilling.  Learning that you can create anything you want with your own hands if you have the skill and knowledge to do so.  To me learning a trade is as important as earning a college degree.  I hope my boys have the desire to accomplish both in their lives.

While Billy was digging up the grass he found a (large, disgusting) worm and put in a box for the boys.  Max decided the worm should return to his home after watching it try to escape.

The worm didn't seem to bother Max, but when Sullivan touched it he shuddered.  A whole body convulsion.  I laughed so hard.  That's what my exact reaction would have been if I touched a worm too :)
They were fascinated watching the worm burrow into the dirt. 
 And just like that he was gone.

The guys worked so fast the boys were able to enjoy their snacks on the bridge in just a couple days.

Finishing touches were added including a picnic bench underneath one of the towers and a pirate telescope in each "fort".

Don't mind the naked baby climbing the ladder.  I cannot keep clothes on these boys in the summertime.  They love to strip down.  Many times the only thing they're wearing outside is a layer of sunscreen. :)
This has provided hours of entertainment already.  Max puts on concerts, they play games, read books and eat most meals in the fort.  Billy and Matt already have ideas for additions to be made, but the boys love it just the way it is.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Vacation: Part II

Next stop: Nashville, Tennessee!

The drive from Branson to Nashville was a little more of an undertaking than we anticipated.  The boys did great and the only complaining came when we were about 20 miles away from our destination.  I was so proud of them and their patience with the long drive.  I think I had a harder time keeping my cool in the car than they did.

But, we made it.  

And, oh, was it worth it to see these sweet faces we miss so much.
Arrington Vineyards
Billy's sister and her clan were incredibly welcoming.  And my boys were in heaven with their "big" cousins.

We were excited to see the beautiful new house they're building, their schools, the lovely countryside and the adorable town of Franklin.  It really was just a relaxing trip.

The house that they're currently renting while their home is being built has chickens and cows within steps of the back door which was a huge hit with the boys.  My guys are city-dudes, so waking up with a petting zoo right outside was a special treat.

Fiona and Max.
Max and Ella riding the scooter down the driveway for the 87th time :)
One afternoon, while the boys were napping, Billy and I got to go into Nashville to explore.  Our goals were to find a seedy bar and listen to some country music and then grab a little lunch.  We found a great bar that had lots of music history inside.  We sat and listened to a talented duo while I savored my ice cold O'Douls :)
We had lunch at another bar down the road and then spent way too much time in a candy shop across the street.

We were heading back to the house when we got this picture via text:
The boys were up from their nap!

We stopped by Whole Foods to pick up some goodies, regrouped and then headed to a nearby (like, across the street from the house) winery for a picnic dinner.
Sully, I'm so glad we've kicked the pacifier habit.  You just look silly with this thing in your mouth!
Cade and Sullivan. Buddies.
Playing catch with Cosmo.
We're really looking forward to a trip back once they're in their new home and Baby #3 is here. 

On our way home we stopped in St. Louis for the night just to break up the drive.  We were able to swim, have a nice dinner and then have Father's Day breakfast in bed before hitting the road again for the home stretch.

We had so much fun and were so exhausted when we got back.  Max asked me when we were going on vacation again.  I told him not until next year.  
"Oh, good" he said, relieved. 
"Didn't you have fun??" I asked him.  
He said, "I did, but I really missed sleeping in my bed."  

I know how he felt.  The long drive, busy days, late nights and so much fun you can barely stand it.  It's all a lot to handle for that period of time and by the end of our trip their behavior started to show it.  I couldn't blame them.  

We're happy to be back home with these memories tucked neatly away in our minds treasure chest. (and here on the blog :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Strawberry Pie

The boys saw a picture of miniature cherry pies on the cover of a food magazine recently and hadn't been able to get the idea out of their heads.  Sullivan would carry the magazine over to me every couple days and point to the picture and say "eat dis?"  And Max asked me multiple times when we were going to bake pies.  

The answer would be "never" if I had my way.  I'm not really into sweets.  And I'm definitely not a baker.  But I know how it feels to get an idea in your head about food.  I can't watch a commercial break without catching a major craving for something...especially these days.  Even if I fast forward through the commercials.  All it takes is one quick image from Outback Steakhouse and we'll be having filet for dinner.

Anyway, I had a spare pre-made pie crust in the freezer and half a container of deteriorating strawberries, so I figured I was out of excuses.
Pressing out the crust.
Cutting out circles for the mini pies. 
Adding the filling we made with sugar, cornstarch and strawberries.
By the time we were finished filling the pies it looked like a crime scene.
Ready for the oven!

Sullivan loved them and ate three.
Max was a little pickier since strawberries are on his "no thank you" list these days.  I think he had more fun making them than eating them.
 I ended up being pleasantly surprised with way they turned out and finished off the rest with Sully.  Not that I'll be baking again anytime soon :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Independence Day

We had a traditional, all-American July 4th this year.  A parade, lemonade, swimming, sunburns (for momma at least), grilled food, bomb pops, fireflies and fireworks.

Max had his heart set on seeing and/or being in a parade.  We had no specific parade plans, which didn't make Max very happy.  However, I did have some festive streamers that had been packed away in a box for years (I don't even remember when or why I got them.)  So I dug them out and told him we were going to put on our own parade for the neighborhood.  

They got busy decorating their tricycle and toy tractor.   

We set off down the street, Max ringing the bell on his tricycle.  Sullivan decided to carry streamers rather than ride the tractor.
 We were lucky that there were actually quite a few people out on their front porches to witness the parade.  Carley, their babysitter, was even outside her house with some friends.  The boys felt so cool. They smiled and waved...thinking everyone was there just to observe their parade.  

We also spent a good portion of the day with some friends at their club, swimming and eating.  Once the boys were good and pruned-up and cranky we headed home.

No Independence Day would be complete without red, white and blue bomb pops.  Max devoured his immediately, but Sullivan took his time.  He was nice enough to share the rest with Max.

Bathed and jammied, we let the boys stay up and wait for the sun to set.  
Max was all about the fireworks, but Sullivan wasn't too sure.  

"Too loud!"
 Max kept asking for more.
We ended the night catching fireflies and listening to the boom of nearby fireworks displays.  

I put my sweaty boys to bed way too late, but I could tell that they enjoyed the extra time and freedom.  And, after all, that's what this day is all about.