Wednesday, September 30, 2015

These two . . .

 . . . be still my heart! 


Friday, September 25, 2015

Autumn in the Air

During the past several years, we've started a tradition of going to visit my parents (who live in another state about 3 hours away) during a weekend in September. Two years ago, we did this and visited Rutledge Farm just down the road from where they live. While at the farm, we participated in the Fall Festival, and I felt like that visit was our kick-off to the Autumn season (my favorite!). And seriously, looking at these pictures makes me miss those little babies. Eeeep!

This year, we decided to visit my parents over Labor Day weekend. We headed back to Rutledge Farm on Saturday - and while they hadn't started their Fall Festival season yet - I still feel like this trip was the beginning of our Autumn. Now, if the weather would just get on board with me, that would be great *grin*. 

The Farm is complete with lots of animals for viewing and petting, a pond where you can fish and feed ducks, a playground, and these old tractors. Brenson is currently obsessed with big equipment of all kinds . . . cement trucks, bulldozers, tractors, etc., so he was beyond excited to climb on these old tractors and pretend to drive and work. 

I posted here about our attempt at taking family photos. My parents had much better luck than we did!

Ha! The best out of the group is still not so good.

One thing that really fascinated the children this year were these water pumps. They stood pumping and pumping the water until we finally made them move along to give others a turn. Who would have thought?!?

Look how happy he is pumping that water!

We walked all the way around the {busy} pond for the first time this year, but we didn't stop to feed the ducks. There were lots of people fishing, so we did watch a few fish get reeled in . . . that was pretty exciting for Brenson, especially. After our walk around the pond and an ice cream treat provided by Grampy, we let the kiddos play on the playground for a while. My kids just love to run, jump, climb, scream, slide, swing, etc and are so content to do so for long periods of time.

Brianna, our climber

They think these big slides are fantastic!

Brenson had no time to stop for a photo!

Bren isn't generally one to like to climb too much, but watching Big Sister do it gave him the confidence boost he needed.

He made it!

This next series of photos made me laugh. Brianna plays hard and crashes hard. She always has.

Once we left the Farm, we went to eat lunch and headed back to Grampy and G-Jo's house for naps. After a lazy afternoon and dinner in, it was time for baths. I just love my sink full of babies!

Brooke, Brecklyn

I always buy my kiddos each a set of Halloween pjs (even though Halloween is NOT my favorite), so we busted those out that night for the first time. Everyone was super excited to wear their "bone jammies", but of course Brianna had to give hers a few accessories, ha! Love my spunky girl!

All of the "bone jammies" glow in the dark, so that provided quite a bit of entertainment for all of us. The babies weren't quite sure what to think, but next year I'm sure they'll really appreciate it. Looking at this photo from this year,

compared with this photo from two years ago makes my heart both hurt and sing at the same time. Oh, those babies!

Brecklyn was so funny on this trip. She really turned on her charm for Grampy and G-Jo and popped out with several things (such as shaking her head "no" and waving bye-bye) that we didn't know she could do. Brooke had been doing both of those things for a while, but Breckles had been holding out on us. She was just so sweet and smiley all weekend long, and both babies were just a joy on this trip. One night during our family devotional, we were singing a song that said "no, no, no, nobody . . . ", and Brooke would shake her head "no" each time we would sing that part. It had us all laughing. I love this age!

Sunday morning, we snapped a few pics before heading to church. 

I probably go overboard with the constant picture taking, but I'm always thankful to have photos.

I have very few photos of my mom holding both of the girls. One of my goals this trip was to get photos of G-Jo with both babies!

WHY do my babies look so big?!? *tear*

On Monday, we had a relaxing morning just playing and visiting, grilled for lunch, then headed home. The babies have become such great travelers, and the days of them crying for hours on car trips are quickly fading into a memory (thankfully!). I'm so grateful for every day with my babies, but I just love the Autumn season and am ready to embrace it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Farewell Sweet Summer!

Since today is the first official day of Autumn, I thought a Farewell Summer post was in order. I remember last summer - after finding out we were expecting twins - I pretty much thought that this summer would be one spent trapped indoors caring for two infants. Honestly, I couldn't really wrap my brain around what it would be like to have two babies in addition to my 3 year old and 5 year old. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the summer of 2015 would be one devoid of any kind of outings, fun, or adventures. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

While it certainly took me some months to find my groove with two new babies in the house, it wasn't the impossible task I thought it would be. I didn't feel trapped or too overwhelmed to plan outings. Once I started getting out by myself more with the babies, I quickly gained a bit of confidence and learned that it is doable! And, this summer turned out to be pretty great, after all.

One of the first "bigger" outings I took with all four littles by myself was to visit Daddy at work. This little adventure is what I consider to be our kick-off to summer. The Bigs LOVE going to see Daddy at work, but it had been well over a year since we had done it because it can be a little complicated with finding parking, walking to his building, registering as guests, going up to the 27th floor where his office was (he has since moved), etc. However, I was finished with excuses and ready to make some fun happen, so we did it! It was a gorgeous day, and Daddy enjoyed showing off his little crew to his coworkers. 

I tried to be smart about what I took on when it came to outings this summer. For the most part, we kept it local and low-key in case things went downhill in a hurry, and I needed to get everyone home. We have a nice little park that's just a few miles from our house, so the kiddos and I enjoyed several play and picnic days there.

These photos are from the middle of May . . . the babies have changed SO much since then!

Both babies love being outdoors, but it is a happy place for Brecklyn, especially.

It only took Miss Brooke about 10 minutes to find the dirt, ha!

I really need to invest in a decent picnic blanket!

Back at the beginning of the summer, Brecklyn was still outgrowing her little inconsolable crying fits she would often have. However, when we were outdoors, she was perfectly content.

It was such a nice change!

After a winter where we stayed in almost all the time, Brianna and Brenson were beyond ready for some adventures!

The babies have always been so good to take their naps on the go if needed. This is the life :-).

Later in the summer, as they got a little bigger, Brecklyn and Brooke enjoyed playing instead of napping.

At the park with our friend, Sadie:

Brecklyn loves swinging!

Swinging tends to make Brooke sleepy, but she enjoys it, too. 

My big kids no longer need to be pushed on the swings . . . they can both pump their feet and fly high!

Another local outing that we frequently enjoyed this summer was visiting our splash pad. It's just a few miles from our house, so we would often go play in the water for an hour or so, eat a picnic lunch, then make it home in time to read books and take naps.

Brecklyn was super excited for her first splash pad experience!

The first time we took the babies to the splash pad (at the beginning of June), we got them both a little wet and they cried. As the summer went on, however, they learned to like to water much more.

Of course, Brianna and Brenson always had a blast in the water!

We invited our friend, Sadie, to join us one day.

And, our cousin Chloe Jo joined us a few times, as well.

One of our go-to summer outings is our local zoo. We LOVE the zoo and typically visit several times a month all summer long. This year, however, we only went one time (at the beginning of August, right before school started). I was brave and took the kiddos lots of places by myself, but the zoo was one outing that I really wanted back-up on, so we waited until Chris could take a day off work and join us. 

Since we only went once, we rode the carousel (twice!). This is something we rarely do.

Waiting for the carousel:

So many times, I wait with the babies while Chris takes the Bigs to do whatever we're doing. This day, Chris stayed with the babies and I got to ride! Yay!

The second time we rode, though, we just brought the babies on with us. They enjoyed their first ride!

Our zoo had a few things that we hadn't seen since we hadn't been there all summer. One was this giant ladybug.

These two are so close!

Behind the giant ladybug was this giant grasshopper. Creepy, if you ask me.

Of course, we had to ride the train. It's one of our favorite things about our zoo!

Brianna, Daddy, Brecklyn:

Momma, Brooke, Brenson:

Miss Brooke enjoyed her first trainride:

Breckles liked it, too!

This day, I remember feeling very nostalgic and emotional about Brianna starting school. I hated thinking about my big girl not being with me all day.

We were so thrilled to have Daddy with us for the day!

The Rhino Reserve is a new exhibit that we hadn't seen yet. Exciting!

The Wild Life Trek is one of our favorites.

My four :-)

Chris was a pro at handling our four littles. I think he may be ready for a solo outing :-).

This tiger statue is at the entrance of our zoo, and my Bigs love it. They acted like they were seeing an old friend when they spotted it, ha!

While we did venture out quite a bit this summer, we also spent quite a bit of time finding adventure in our own yard. Overall, we had very few extremely hot days this summer, so that made spending time outdoors extra nice! 

I love the sight of my four littles on our swingset!

Miss Brecklyn thinks her little infant swing is just perfect. 

Brooke concurs!

This was one of wettest summers we've ever had, so that did make playing outside a bit tougher on some days. We had some standing water in our yard, so I had to be careful where I set up our sprinkler ball, even on sunny days. 

Brianna and Brenson sure didn't care how soggy the ground was, though!

In fact, one day when Daddy got home from work, they had a water gun fight in the super-soggy yard. The wet, soggy, and slippery ground caused several falls, and all three of them ended up being muddy messes!

Brianna was a mess, but she was still hardcore :-).

All the rain also meant a few extra reptilian visitors in our yard. One morning, we saw a snake in our yard, and we were having a perfectly teachable moment until it moved and I screamed. Oooops :-). Another day, we found this friendly turtle hanging out by our fence.

The children were very interested in him - and even wanted to keep him - but I thought he was a bit large for a pet.

One thing we didn't do much of this summer due to the rain was use our smallish inflatable pool. It's hard to set up a pool when your yard is soggy. We did enjoy it a few times, though.

A super-wet summer = plenty of opportunity to play in the rain! There's something so liberating about playing in the rain. 

We made a special effort this summer to have family fun nights. Sometimes, this meant going somewhere, but often it meant being together at home. We so enjoyed spending evenings together outside.

When you have a cooler-than-normal summer, it means you can make a fire and have s'mores without feeling like you're going to suffocate. Mmmmm, s'mores are my favorite!

Bren thought his s'more was okay, but he really just preferred to eat marshmallows.

The anticipation was almost more than Brianna could handle :-).

The babies were so good toward the end of the summer to sit and play on a blanket in the yard. They would be content like that for long periods of time.

No s'mores for Brooke Ellie, but she's smiling anyway.

Brecklyn wasn't so happy with the arrangement :-).

S'mores are certainly a yummy treat, but nothing is "summer" quite like a sweet, homemade popsicle. 

Healthy and delicious!

Because the popsicles were made strictly from fruit, I let the babies have a taste. Brecklyn wasn't too impressed with how cold it was. 

Brooke, on the other hand, got after it! Ha!

Another classic summer treat that we made sure to have this summer was snocones!

Brecklyn really wanted a taste of Brenson's "Finding Nemo" flavored snocone, but mean Mommy wouldn't let her have any.

Brooke was also super interested in our treat. Next summer you can have one too, Brooke!

Snocone tongues!

I'm pretty sure my teeth are blueish in this photo from my "Spiderman" flavored snocone. It was worth it!

Of course, this summer also included our usual favorite activities such as VBS. Well, maybe is isn't a favorite for the babies yet, but it will be! Our VBS was the second week in June, so the girls were only 4 months old.

Our theme was "A Backyard Adventure".

Brianna was at the perfect age for VBS and loved her sweet class!

We also spent most of our Friday mornings with Miss Shelly this summer. When I first started taking the babies at the beginning of May, they weren't sure what to think.

The Bigs always love it, though!

Brooke and Brecklyn soon warmed up to the class, and now they love going every week. It won't be long until they're ready to participate!

This day, we learned all about lemons.

We even made our own lemonade. Yum!

Chris and I really enjoy surprising the children with things, so one night we blindfolded them, loaded them in the car, and took them on a little outing. 

They were super excited when they realized that we were going bowling!

It had been a LONG time since I had been bowling. I had a great time, but I'm just as terrible as I've always been. Apparently, bowling skills don't develop when you don't ever play.

The babies, as usual, were along for the ride and happy as could be.

It was all smiles from Brooke and Brecklyn! 

We all had a great time on this family outing!

Last summer, we tie-dyed shirts for the first time with our cousins. My kids still talk about how much fun it was to tie-dye (and they love wearing their shirts), so we made sure to plan that activity again. In honor of the event, my kids wore the tie-dye shirts we made last year. Of course.

Bren and Aunt Lisa worked hard to make the perfect shirt. 

The big girls are big enough now that they hardly needed any help. Tear.

 Working so diligently . . .

 I tie-dyed two little onesies for the babies.

This year, they just watched, but next year they will be in the middle of the action!

Bren takes his tie-dying very seriously. 

It's so fun to have family who are friends come and do activities with us!

Along with all the outings and planned activities, we had a great time this summer just being together, spending time with family, and hanging out with friends.

We went to see Meme at work one day:

Another day, we set up a tent in our living room and had a family movie night. We watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Brenson was terrified of the Oompa-Loompas. For real. He legit cried every time they came on!

Brianna and I snuck away one afternoon for a little one-on-one time and pedicures. 

We had several playdates with our friends, Caroline and Julia. 

Our friend, Angie, came to hang out with us a few times.

And, we spent some time with our friends, Raelyn and Ryann who moved to Minnesota but were back visiting their grandparents for a few weeks.

Even though I didn't know what to expect out of this summer, it certainly turned out to be so much fun and full of adventure. The best part, though, was all the time we spent together as a family. So, farewell sweet summer. You were good to us, and we look forward to meeting you again!