Change is Good

Monday, November 9, 2015
Though I know that change is good, I'm generally a "comfort in routine" type of person.  But I'm also in a constant effort to better myself and I know that embracing change would make me better.  Because change is coming.  Change in the form of:
  • The types of problems we come across as parents of slightly older kids (hint: it's not about pacifier habits or sharing toys anymore).
  • Weather.  Frosty grass just this morning, but not before an annual mega leaf day:

  • My daily schedule, which may involve commuting to a job in the near future. 
  • This girl.  Full-fledged teenager next month!

  • This blog.  I wish to keep it up, as it ends up being my only hard-copy photo album since I don't print pictures much these days.  Yet without my kids around many hours of the day, it's hard to report the little details in their day-to-day lives - the reason I began in the first place. 
  • My health...if I keep rummaging through my kids' Halloween bags at night!

Thank You Notes

Sunday, October 18, 2015
Since it's been a solid month since an update (and there has been a lot to update on!), I'm going to do a quick run-through of events as of recent in Jimmy Fallon thank-you note style.  Here goes:

Thank You...younger sibling,
For still bearing little kids I can cuddle and dote on and give right back!

Jacob Eli Fox...born 8.28.15     

Thank You...Midwestern weather,
For giving us reason to wear layers, but allowing us to fully appreciate a beautiful day!
A day at nearby Starved Rock on a gorgeous day off school
Thank You...cheer schedule,
For having the one day off that another kid has a commitment!

Thank You...mums,
For giving us color when all the other flowers have given up.

Thank You...Halloween stores,
For offering the choice of either Frozen costumes or sleaze costumes for tween girls.

Thank You...last camping trip,
For giving us a glimpse of imminent death as we looked down from some the awesome hiking.

Devil's Lake, WI
Thank You...pumpkin patches,
For being considered an October "must" or we would be "ruining a childhood," per Will.

Corn maze + Animals + pumpkins + climbing castle = happy childhood
For still being here even though it looked as though I had given up.

Thank persons, 
For predicting a milder winter. 

When Kids Get Bigger...

Saturday, September 19, 2015
I'm not just talking size bigger...but older bigger.  I've had many reminders lately that ours are bigger and I LOVE the things that come with it.  Of course I miss the other things like long snuggles, naps, a bin of cars keeping them busy for hours, etc.  But this big kid stuff can be pretty awesome and it takes taking a moment to step back and take a look to realize it (because it also comes with its share of bigger issues, homework and schedules).

Take last Saturday, for example.  The Illini game had been rained out Friday night and rescheduled for Saturday.  Which we had wide open.  So after having breakfast we decided to ride down for it.  It was easy!  I didn't have to pack a diaper bag, major snacks, changes of clothes, strollers, or think ahead to meals for the day.  We just went.  It was great!  And super hot.
The Alma Mater! (Or, putting it like the kids, "We have to take our picture with the statue again?"

Block I

New the shade!

An Illini Win!

And then there's the maturity.  (Well, some of the time there is maturity).  Will was home sick for a day and so I was getting him what he needed and making him comfortable.  At least three different times he thanked me for taking care of him.  Instead of saying that I kind of had to otherwise DCFS comes and takes him away, I simply filed that away for times I fear he might be insensitive or acts like he doesn't care.

After returning to school, he had a TON of make up homework.  It took the rest of the week to slowly trudge through it all.  Some of it required my help to decipher assignments.  He must have thanked me 4 times for this help.  Proof he is more and more self-sufficient.  We don't have to do as much for him.  When we's noticed.

Similar types of proof of "bigness" have come from Paige and Cole as well.  Don't get me wrong.  We still have our moments and complete lapses of judgement here and there.  And then there's this question from Cole, "Do you think I can use some of my college money to buy a new iPod case?" And the tidbit from Will tonight that he's not ever having kids because he wants "lots of motorcycles and toilets with heated seats and stuff." 

So, there's still some "getting bigger" to do!

School's In Session!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
It has been a great start back to school!  Kids are happy with teachers.  Homework hasn't become too cumbersome and there's still time to play outside in the evenings!  Life is good.  We did, however, have our first absent (1/2) day today.  It seems about 2 weeks is the perfect amount of time for germs to spread and flourish.  Will has a cold with a sore throat and headache, while Cole just has the sniffles...not enough to keep him home yet. 

First, we finished off flag football for Cole (narrowly escaping a treacherous storm one night).  He thoroughly enjoyed playing his first season!
As center.  Or snapper.  Yeah, I didn't play.  He's the guy holding the ball.

And the day before school began, we had Farm Day, where the kids worked like always and Olivia got to attend for the first time!
Will and Grandpa.  This is just a joy ride.

Then it was Cole and Renee's turn.

Workin' the Country Kitchen

And here they were - raring to go the next morning...
7th grade!

2nd and 5th

And just this past weekend, we traveled up to Grand Rapids for Sarah (Kutsche) and David Mohr's wedding!  Wedding's are long.  Long to be in dress clothes.  But the kids toughed it out for the sake of tearing it up on the dance floor until midnight!  It was a great time!
Dressed our best

Things look calm now.  It was the beginning of the night.  After the shirts and ties came off and they were more uninhibited, things got crazy.

Same picture 5 years apart.  So cool!

"Dancing award winners" - awarded the following morning at brunch!

So, now we need to get rid of this first dose of sickies to enjoy our first 3-day weekend!  We're ready!

Vacation (and more)

Sunday, August 16, 2015
Driving to our first real camping destination to Michigan and getting some great quality family time was fantastic!  Just what we needed!  Staying at a kid-friendly campground with plenty to do and a short drive to beach towns was a perfect mix of relaxation and fun.  So glad we got this in and so glad we have another camping trip planned!
Dune buggy bikes, pool, store, activities, movies - Fun at Jellystone.

Downtown South Haven

South Beach.  Would have come back here if it weren't for high winds the next day.

At a State Park beach where waves were VERY strong.  Cole and I did more sand playing than anything.

Wave-jumping.  Paige and Will's favorite.

Since then, we have been helping Rich's mom move.  Paige had a cheerleading camp.  Rich and I got a great adult night out.  We got a Six Flags day in.  Cole has gotten a green light to eat more milk-containing foods!  Cole continues flag football, and we're continuing to enjoy our free days.  Until tomorrow when school starts.  I'm excited about the kids' classes and love that no one has anything too "new" to adjust to this year.
Big time riders

Taking a time-out for a more kiddie-like ride.  Still fun!

Obligatory shot

Cheer team

I just can't believe this is Will's final year at the elementary school.  Wasn't it just last year when he would bury his face in my belly as the Kindergarten bus pulled up to our driveway?  And Paige mentioned high school "in two years."  High school.  Where you get actual names like "freshmen" for your year instead of numbers!  I mean, do they even give them time in the morning for their healthy snack there?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm looking forward to silence.  And hearing my own thoughts.  And cleaning a house that stays that way for at least a bit.  And productivity.  But for now, I'm completely enjoying the Nerf darts whizzing past my head as I type this and the sound of 12 (I think) feet running around the house as kids work together to create a new game...if that will help time slow down a bit.

Wait, what?

Sunday, July 26, 2015
Yeah.  It's been a solid month since I've updated our summer!  It's been a good mix of fun, more to-do's and some better weather.

First, we had our maiden camping voyage at a State Park.  (Note to self: state parks are full of pretty much trees and mosquitoes.  Seek out more adventurous, interesting destinations soon).  We did well as first-timers and had Jamie and Olivia join us for one of the two nights, which was a riot!

Then, there was the 4th of July.  This could almost be my favorite holiday!  Maybe it's because it's mid-summer.  Maybe it's because everyone celebrates it, but it's just a fun one!  We had a great time with our tradition of Fox Fourth camp out.  A bounce house, lawn games, parade and fireworks...this time with our own camper in attendance!
Centered around the bonfire!

The girlies in the bounce house

Ready for the candy-throwing parade!

Next, we had a visit from the uncle Jim and his kids from Austin, Texas. The kids love to get together and are instant pals when they do! 
One of the many gatherings (photo missing David)

Spent some quality time shootin' guns, driving the go-cart and more lawn games.

Visiting prerequisite: eating at Lou Malnati's
And right now we're wrapping up a full weekend of celebrating Will turning 10!  He got to go to the races and have a slumber party with a few friends followed by a party with the whole fam and then a surprise gift from the to the Cubs game today with Rich, Steve and Tim!  So far, 10 is treating him well!
Not gonna lie...They liked the crashes the best!

Family party in the kiddie pool!  (Perfect for Olivia to test her swimming skills)

This is the perfect visual depiction of how Will feels about all things birthday. 

Cubs! (We won't mention the score)

We've also had some time to play baseball and volleyball in the backyard on slower evenings.  The kids and I finally got a day in at the public pool.  Cole has started flag football (see also: mouth guards...why they're cool if they're for football).  And we finally have more of a vacation camping trip up to South Haven, Michigan planned!  Despite the fact that we went school supply shopping today, we are STILL soaking in summer!

Summer Update

Thursday, June 25, 2015
I should be reporting days at the pool, or maybe a spontaneous zoo trip, but these couple weeks have flown by and seem to be filled with so many "to-do's" that I'm not yet feeling the "laid back" summer days.  Of course, having rain or a threat of rain just about all the live long day hasn't helped these matters either.  

Also, here's a news-flash: kids don't get easier when they get older.  They get stronger opinions, make bigger messes, and are just plain trickier.  I'll use grocery shopping as an example.  I mean, I remember when I thought grocery shopping with babies and toddlers was difficult.  Little did I know how wonderful it was that they were strapped to me or jailed in the cart seat at least. The worst I could expect could easily be thwarted with an emergency Dum-Dum sucker from my purse.  Not anymore.  First, they're big.  They literally take up more space - as if maneuvering a squeaky shopping cart around end caps and displays wasn't hard enough.  Also the begging.  And the not realizing that person approaching with a cart PROBABLY WILL NEED ROOM TO GET BY.  And the fighting amongst each other.  Or the getting in cahoots with each other against me to lobby for yet another junky food.  And the still begging while I'm talking to the checkout person.  And the complaints of cold temperatures in the freezer aisles (because everyone LOVES liquid ice cream).  So like I said...still not easy.

Don't get me wrong, even though I've done more deep sighs and raising of my voice (and maybe not unlocking the rest of the car doors once inside for a 10 second rest in silence - which, by the way, they thought was hilarious) than I'm proud of, we have had some super fun times as well.  Here is a list!

1) We built our new deck landing! Next comes some railing, a longer, full step, and improvements on the brick pavers.

2) Rich's Mom bought a house nearby!  We are all very excited for this.  The place is beautiful and has access to a pool!

3) We opened our cool-off pool! Despite the awful weather we've had, they've still managed to spend some time in it.

4) We got our camper!  It's SO fun!  We've done a driveway camp out and this weekend will do a first trip up to Chain 'O Lakes, where Jamie and Olivia will spend one night with us!

5) PRAIRIEFEST!  We so look forward to this.  However, our late night got...stormed out.  We still managed to get some fun in.
Unlimited ride time!  Renee, Will, Jesse, Riley

6) We did our annual trip to the races in honor of Rich's dad.  It was another beautiful evening!

7) We celebrated Father's Day in style: a cookout and BB gun shooting.

8) The kids got to fish at the neighbors' and Will finally got a chance to try out his very own pole.  They caught nothing and Milo tried to take off with the beef jerky bait, but fun!

9) Cole had his first baseball game!  He had a couple hits and a great play at 1st for an out.  He had another game tonight, guessed it....rained out.

So here's to the end of June and more summer-like weather and slow days that allow us time to breathe it in...and maybe some solo grocery shopping.