Thursday, July 22, 2010

Monkeyin’ Around

My oldest brother and his wife are the parents of four fantastic kids.  Morgan will be a college freshman this fall and is working to save money this summer.  Zack (9), Grace (8), and Lillee (5) have been visiting us this week {“Cousin Camp” as we like to call it} and it’s been such a great time!  On our first day together, we visited the Krispy Kreme store to watch the doughnuts being made from their “observation” window.  Of course, we ate a few just to make sure their work was okay.  It was.  Feast your eyes on these cute little kiddos.  From left to right: Grace, Lillee, Luke, Sam, Caleb, & Matthew.  My handsome nephew, Zack, is way too cool for this silly photo opportunity.  He is super cool, by the way.

2010 340 After this fabulous outing, we headed to Wal-Mart for school supply shopping.  With lists in hand, we all worked together to find everything the school-aged kids needed.  My parents enjoy this annual event…and the parent’s enjoy this generous gift!  It was fun to see what each kiddo chose…all individuals, for sure. 

We finished the day off with some time playing outside, a yummy dinner, and grandma’s brownies for dessert.  We also made a quick trip to the park before a bath and bedtime.  Whew…we were all tired.


Day two of “Cousin Camp” took us to a local inflatable “jungle.”  Our 30 minute drive to “Monkey Joe’s” was worth the effort.  The kids jumped, bounced, slid, ran and all had a great time.  Check out Monkey Joe below with Lillee and Sam posing.  Such cuties.

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Zack proved once again that he is an incredible young man…following fearless little Matthew all around the place and helping him to climb up and through things.  Zack got a workout from shadowing him, for sure.  Matthew spent nearly 2 hours running from inflatable to inflatable…no “little jumpers” area for him.  Caleb was as predicted, more timid.  He loved being in the “little jumpers” area…it was safe, small, and he was content.  He did venture out a bit, trying some bigger inflatables.  When he did, he big cousin Grace was was right behind him to help.  She was amazing…and Caleb loved having her attention. 

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Zack and Matthew after the big slide.

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Matthew followed by Zack, & Caleb followed by Grace.


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Luke thinks that Monkey Joe’s is heavenly!  All the bouncing and running a busy boy like him could handle…and no one even says, “no!”

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Caleb happily jumping in the “little monkey’s” play area.

The kids were all really tired and hungry…so, we headed for a bite of lunch.  We filled our bellies and then came home to chill out a while.  The little boys napped and the big kids entertained themselves as follows:

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Zack tutoring Sam in the ways of Star Wars Lego video game.

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Grace lounging and watching the video game playing.

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Lillee and Luke reading books together.

We’re tired and the day isn’t over yet.  Hopefully, we’ll have a low-key evening of hanging out and playing together.  We don’t often have this much time together…living nearly 4 hours apart from one another.  I am so thankful that our boys have this special time with their cousins…what a blessing. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Visit From The “Old Codger” and His Crew

Brad is a blessed man for many reasons… a lovely bride with mad cooking skills among  among the reasons are his grandparents.  His maternal grandparents {affectionately known as MaMa & PaPa – pronounced maw-maw and paw-paw} have lived long and faithful lives and played an important role in our boys lives.  MaMa had a stroke in January of 2009 and her health began to decline pretty quickly afterward.  She went to be with Jesus in May of that same year.  We miss her…a lot. 
PaPa has done his best to adjust to this “new normal” of living without his wife of over 60 years.  He recently took a trip “down home”, to his birthplace.  He visited with old friends and his siblings and their families who still live in North Carolina.  At 88 years old, PaPa has finally given up driving.  Brad’s brother drove PaPa, NeeNee Linda {Brad’s mom}, and Aunt Sherri {Linda’s sister} on their big adventure.  After a week full of fun, they stopped by our house for a sleepover before heading home to Indiana.  I guess they were looking to end their vacation with some extra excitement!  {snicker}  The Johnson boys excel in creating excitement!  This photo is proof.  Notice young Luke smiling politely for the camera.  Sam has PaPa’s hat and cane, pretending to be an old man.  Caleb and Matthew have stopped squirming long enough to capture this image.  George {the dog} seems to be the most obedient. Amazingly, PaPa is grinning from ear to ear.  What a good sport.  He loves these little squirrely great-grandsons of his. 
On a previous visit, PaPa had been working on a cross word puzzle {one of his favorites hobbies before his eyesight began to fail} and Sam was intrigued.  He very patiently explained the puzzle to Sam, clues to down words here…and across words there.  He asked PaPa how he knew all of the answers.  PaPa laughed {his grin is so broad that his eyes disappear – it’s adorable} and told Sam that when you live to be an “old codger,” you know lots of things.  So, thus began a new “inside joke” for PaPa’s stay.  We all called him the “old codger” and he loved it.   
All of the boys love crawling on PaPa and asking him questions about everything.  They took turns wearing his hat and walking with his cane…and he just took it all in.  It seemed like his heart was full.  I sure hope so…we love that “old codger.”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Potty Training Twins

For months now, Caleb and Matthew have been going “potty” occasionally, at convenient times when they are already sans clothing : before & after a bath or a diaper change.  They have shown some interest,but not overwhelmingly so.  I am not a fan of changing diapers…but, I also know full well the challenges that potty training brings.  I have not been in a rush to get the twins potty trained.  Sam and Luke were both potty-trained just a few months shy of  their third birthdays – and it was effortless.  In just one day – SHAZAM!  We had success!  Only one or two accidents in the following days.  So, I was comfortable waiting a bit longer if it meant an easier transition.  I have heard so many stories about potty training that takes place over a period of months.  I wanted no part of that misery.
Potty-trainers get really fired up about their new-found skill and want to “go pee pee” in every possible location…each restaurant, store, or home you visit – and for my boys, each tree or bush they find along the way!  Potty-training also involves a bit of OCD on the parent’s part: repeatedly asking(as if your life depended on it)  if they have to “go potty?”  It also involves remembering to bring an extra change of clothing (or two in our case) everywhere you go…just in case!  However, the process doesn’t last long and the rewards are well worth the effort.  Perhaps the greatest blessing has been the reduction in diaper changes around here.  For nearly seven years, we have been changing and wiping the bottoms of at least one of our sweet boys I have tried to erase the brief period when three were in diapers from my memory. 
With all of that said, I must admit that I am a bit sad.  My “baby’ boys are growing up.  I am choosing to focus on the freedom that this new phase brings…and to celebrate that God is growing my boys up just as He should!  I just wish that it didn’t happen so quickly.  {sniff}
Caleb (left) and Matthew (right).
Isn’t the difference in their skin tone remarkable? Matthew isn’t more “tan” than Caleb – all natural coloring.


Sam has reached another childhood milestone…losing his top front teeth.  Several months ago, he lost both of his bottom front teeth within a matter of days.  So, we’re waiting patiently for the other top tooth to come out.  However, Sam prefers to allow nature to take it’s course rather than aggressively move forward on his own (read: he allows the tooth to fall out…really, fall out.).  He doesn’t enjoy wiggling or moving his loose tooth…I think he’s fearful it will hurt.  My man Sam does not enjoy pain.  So, for now we enjoy his sweet little grin and talk about how cool it is to have a “window” for his straw to fit into when he drinks.  {grin}


Can hardly believe he is about to be a first-grader.  {gulp}