Weekend Work & Weekend Fun

I haven’t posted in the last 5 days. It is not often that I get time with my entire family, so my focus has been on them.

The weather has been just perfect. Even though we are officially still in Spring, it felt like Summer! We’ve got a water table that the kids love to play at, but we took advantage of the warm weather and set up their new sprinkler.

We picked this huge fire hydrant up at Sam’s Club and the kids love it. Water shoots from the side “plugs” and there is water that spins out of the top. Even my wife knows that you are never too old to run through the sprinkler.

Memorial Day was very laid back and I worked on some projects (more on those in another blog), but Tuesday was just the best day! Sam planned a day at the beach with the family. She also knows how much I have talked about my childhood summer vacation destination ….

As a boy, we spent many summer days in Caseville. I have written about it in the past. Prior to having kids, Sam surprised me with a day trip there. I was like a little kid! I remembered so many places. I have since told her that I would love to take the kids there. So we combined their first trip to a beach with their first trip to Caseville.

Choosing to go on the Tuesday after a holiday weekend had perks! We pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves! It was perfect! We lathered the kids up with sunscreen and before we could get some on ourselves, the kids were running toward the water!

Andrew loved every second of being there. At first he spent his time chasing seagulls, but eventually made it over to the water.

Neither kid has ever been to the beach, so they had no idea just how hard it is to run in the water. Both of them fell almost immediately and freaked out a bit. The main beach at Caseville is perfect for them because it doesn’t get too deep for a while. You can walk out pretty far and still be above water.

Ella was a bit scared after she fell in the water, but I walked her out a bit and held her hand all the way back because she was scared.

The water was cold at first, but that was always the way it was growing up. You know how it is, you go under water and then you are fine. There was a bit of wind that day, which made it a little chilly, but it was still fun to be there with the family. We even tried to build sand castles, but Andrew thought it was more fun to step on them once they were built.

Sam prepared a fantastic picnic lunch for us. She made sandwiches, packed some fruit, and plenty of water, iced tea, and juice boxes. She found this cool beach blanket that was perfect for us.

Of course, once the food came out, the seagulls were very interested in our picnic! Andrew wanted to throw them food, but we stopped him, thankfully. You know once they get a nibble of food, they want it all!

There was a point where the kids were cold and shivering, so we brought them up to the playscape and let them run around a bit. We were both surprised when Ella said that she was done with the beach. She said she would like to come back, but was ready to go home.

One thing we didn’t do was go by the old place that my grandparents had just out of town. We figured the kids were pooped, so we’d just head home. We did, however, stop by the new Caseville sign and get a family selfie.

The sign is a new sign. From what I read, they did a big upgrade to a lot of the signs in town to make them more “uniform.” What’s cool is that on the left of the sign the word “Caseville” is spelled out in the International Nautical Alphabet. You can see it a bit better in this picture of the kids.

After our long drive home, we decided that we didn’t want to cook. So we took the kids to the local pizza place and had a nice family dinner.

It was a fantastic day! Sam and I, however, realized soon enough that we had forgotten to put sunscreen on. Sam’s back and shoulders were just fried and my head was also pretty toasty. So we’ll be keeping the Aloe close by for the next couple days!

A Happy Weekend

Tuesdays mean back to work for me. Technically, Mondays are still part of my “weekend.” Yesterday, I wrote about the amazing birthday I had Monday, but wanted to share a few other highlights from the past couple days.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. Sadly, Sam had to work that night. That didn’t stop us from celebrating. The kids made sure to spoil mommy with a card and cake.

We also made sure she had plenty of flowers to brighten her day.

We got her a Grey’s Anatomy sweatshirt that she wanted and of course, she got the porch rocker we built. Before she left for work, I was able to snap one of the best photos of her and the kids!

Today, the weather in Michigan was perfect. I wanted to go to Menard’s to pick up the wood that I need to rebuild part of the playscape in the back. However, because it was so nice, I took the kids up to the park to play first. They had a blast!

For Andrew, there were so many things to play with. Slides, rocks, and even tic tac toe.

Ella just loved running around and playing with the other little girl who was there, too.

Every once in a while, they stop at just the right time for perfect pictures.

After the park, I ran up and got the wood. I also got a couple shepherd’s hooks and two hanging flower baskets for the front of the house. On the way home, I stopped and got the kids lunch and we had a picnic on the porch before naptime.

Along with the fun of my birthday, this weekend was just loaded with wonderful memories! I hope your weekend was just as happy!

Another year passes …

Today I finished my 53rd trip around the sun. Birthdays stopped being special to me a long time ago. They are just another day. However, I will tell you that today was a birthday I won’t soon forget. Let me tell you why …

Ella has been talking about my birthday for months. She’s known that mine was coming up and eventually the “next” one. So she told Sam that she was going to get all the stuff for my “party.”

So her and Sam went to the store to order my cake. She told the woman that she was positive that I loved princesses, so this was the cake they brought home:

Ella sang Happy Birthday loud and proud and both kids helped me blow out my candles.

Yes, I did wear the tiara and hold the scepter after cutting the cake.

Sam and the kids got me the coolest card and a book I have had on my Amazon wishlist for some time. Once I get through the library books I have, I will be diving into this one.

They also got me an amazing shirt. The card and shirt go together as they are both from Bluey, the cartoon I just love! Perhaps mom was trying for a Bluey theme, but the princess won out!

We even had princess plates!!

If you are wondering about the tiara and scepter – don’t worry, there is a princess at our house making good use of them!

I also heard from my dad first thing this morning. He got a chuckle out of my cake. My oldest son called me this morning too. My middle son texted on his way home from the bus stop to send birthday wishes. There were countless text messages and birthday wishes on Facebook, too.

As much as I hate counting the years (and still claim to be 39 every year like Jack Benny) it is nice to know that so many folks will take a brief moment out of their day to send a birthday greeting. It’s almost overwhelming, but it is a reminder of just how blessed I am.

Much Needed Time

Yesterday I was supposed to work. When I woke up, I saw a text from work saying that we were down patients and it was my turn to stay home. There was a staff meeting that I had to call in and be a part of, but after that, it was all family time! The downside is that I lose hours. The upside is that I got some MUCH NEEDED time with the entire family.

The minute I hung up from our meeting, we piled the kids in the car and drove to the local ice cream place. It’s a few miles further than Dairy Queen, but worth it! On the way, Ella told us she wanted “pink” ice cream with sprinkles. We asked Andrew is he wanted blue ice cream and he said yes. When we asked about sprinkles, he said no.

We got there just before a bunch of people lined up behind us. Sam took the kids and grabbed a table for us to sit at. One by one, the worker passed me each of our items. Ella was happy as a clam eating her sprinkles. Andrew ate some of his Blue Moon ice cream, but eventually wanted to eat from mommy’s cone. This led to Ella wanting to “try” mine, and by the end of the visit, Sam and I lost our ice cream!

“I like mint ice cream, Daddy!” I do, too, kiddo!

I just love this picture of Sam and Andrew. He is a real “mama’s boy!” They have such a special bond.

After we were done, we went home and started the bedtime routine. It was already long after their normal bed time, and because they were outside a lot earlier in the day, they both fell asleep almost immediately.

Sam and I actually got to have some time to ourselves last night. Because of our work schedules, we don’t get much quality time with just the two of us. It was so nice to have that last night. As we sat in bed talking, Sam said she could go for Taco Bell. This made me chuckle, but it also reminded me of those nights before our kids arrived where this would be a very common thing to say. Without hesitation, I got out of pajamas, back into my clothes and drove to Taco Bell to grab us each a Nacho Bell Grande!

The two of us sat in bed for a while, each with our late night snack, laughing and talking. It was something that both of us really needed.

Our plans for today were altered a bit, but in a good way. Sam had a bunch of clothes she wanted to take to the resale shop. She was going to take the kids to her mom’s house so that I could paint the nook we build recently. At the last minute, I decided that I wanted to go with her. We dropped the kids off, and we drove up the resale shop about 30 minutes from us.

We had decided to have lunch together while they sorted through all the clothes. We were going to grab Panera, but Sam noticed a steakhouse across the street, so we went there instead. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch together and then went and walked around Target. We didn’t intend on buying anything, but we saw some cute stuff for the kids and ended up buying more than we needed to.

Once the resale shop called to tell us they were ready for us, we stopped there and loaded up the items that they didn’t take, and drove home. Sam dropped me off so I could nap before work and went to get the kids.

I was awakened by my daughter who was very excited to show me all the “prizes” we bought for her at the store. I could have used a few more minutes of sleep, but waking up to her smile was worth losing a few winks.

I may have to start scheduling days off. The last 24 hours really refilled my tank. It reminded me of what life should be like. It reminded me of just how important it is to share that special time with family. It reminded me of how important one on one time is with my wife. Those moments are few and far between and that needs to change!

Early Gift For Mommy

When Sam got home from work today, we packed up the kids and took a drive to Lowe’s. The purpose of the trip was to get a teeter totter for the swing set/playscape in the back yard. Once we were there, we asked around and found out that the only way to get pieces for swing sets was to order them online. There was nothing in the store.

Sam noticed some patio furniture cushions and wanted to look at them for some chairs we have. It was then that she saw a beautiful rocking chair. I had bought two rockers for our porch a few years ago, but they were poorly made and just didn’t hold up. As we were looking at the chairs, Sam noticed that they had a bench rocker. After discussing things, we decided that we were going to get that for our side porch.

I had every intention of getting in the car and saying “Well, Happy Mother’s Day!” to Sam. But on the way out to the car, Ella asked her, “Is this your Mommy’s Day present, Mommy?” She said, “I suppose it is!”

Just like your typical man, as soon as we got home, I pulled the box out of the van, placed it on the porch and grabbed my tools! I was going to get this thing together today! Of course, I didn’t stop to think that Sam had worked all night and wanted to go to bed. She was in the house getting lunch together while I was glancing over the instructions.

It didn’t really take too long to put together, especially when I had help!

Andrew was all about trying to help me out. He wants to help SO bad. He kept bringing me pieces I didn’t need yet and pulling sockets from my socket wrench box. I look forward to the day when I can actually sit and build something with him and have him understand what we are doing.

In the end, the rocker came out great and really is a nice addition to the porch.

As I finished it up, mom went in the house to get some sleep. She should have been the first one to sit on it, but of course, that wasn’t the case.

Looks like this bench is like that cereal, “Kid tested, mother approved!”

Happy early Mother’s Day, Babe. I look forward to being able to rock with you on this over the summer. They even have a beer I can bring …

Heading into the Weekend

Ah, Saturday! A day of rest and relaxation, right? The weekend is here and there is nothing to do, right? Well, not for me. It’s gonna be a pretty busy weekend.

This week was full of events for our family. Big changes and some stress (no need to talk about my wallet anymore!).

The biggest news was the addition of our dog, Maizy. If you missed that blog – here it is:

I’m happy to say that she is fitting in quite well. She’s making the place her own, and getting up on the furniture …

She loves to cuddle up to us. She and Sam seem to be getting along nicely.

And Ella loves that Maizy will sleep in her room with her at “quiet time”.

Andrew just gets really excited to be around her. Especially when we’re outside. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure who is harder to get to come in – Maizy or Andrew.

Maizy loves to run around in the yard. She especially loves to play fetch with a ball.

She waits with baited breath for me to chuck it out in the backyard.

I don’t mind being outside with her. The baseball team has been outside practicing and getting ready for the season. One of the best things about our backyard is the free admission to watch a good game –

Of course, Maizy LOVES when the kids are eating. There is NO shortage of food that falls on the floor, unless it is peanut butter. That peanut butter pretty much gets worn by the kids….

Maizy became a member of our family from the onset. What a blessing she is to our home.

The rest of the weekend is loaded with some projects. I’m hoping to finish painting the nook we built and then we’re grabbing one of those playscapes from a friend of Sam’s and moving it to our yard. In between all of that, we’ve got people coming to give us estimates on what a fence is going to cost. Busy Busy!!

Have a great weekend!!

We’ve Gone to the Dogs!

We’ve talked about getting a dog for some time. Sam has always wanted a dog, but there were so many things that we needed to do first. We don’t have a fully fenced in yard, for example. We also were concerned with how the dog would react to the kids – not to mention our cat. We always knew that at some point, we’d be getting a dog. However, I don’t think either one of us thought it would be … well, today!

Here’s the scoop. Yesterday before Sam left for work, her sister texted. She asked if we would be interested in a four year old lab who is good with kids. The story behind this is that her friend’s daughter had diabetes and epilepsy. It was recommended that they get her a service dog. I guess the dogs didn’t really get along. So her owner wanted her to have a loving home.

Her owner said that if things don’t work out, she will gladly take her back and try to find a home for her. They obviously love this dog a lot. I think we both figured that it would be a trial run, but we knew pretty quickly that this will be her new home.

This is Maizy. Coincidentally, Maizey is also our cat’s name. She made herself at home after sniffing around a lot. The kids were MORE than excited to have a “puppy friend” of their own!

I guess by the look on my face, I was pretty excited, too.

The one thing I worry about is that when the kids are at my mother in law’s, they can lay on top of their golden retriever. They climb all over her and she takes every bit of it. I’m not sure Maizy will be as happy about it. So we have to tell the kids to be very careful with her and to use nice hands.

After she got used to all of us, we piled into the van and headed to PetSmart. We had to get food, food and water dishes, a lead for her to run around in the backyard until the fence goes in, and a pet bed. It was an expensive trip, but we expected that.

She is making herself at home and at one point curled up in front of me and fell asleep … and so did my leg!

The only one who is still not too sure about our newest family member is Maizey our cat. That hasn’t stopped her from sneaking up on her while she is asleep to check her out and make sure she is ok …

I laughed when I told Sam, “Well, one thing is for sure. We won’t have to worry about cleaning up food on the floor anymore ….”

We are all looking forward to having our new puppy friend living at our house!

Phone Upgrade Headache

A while back, my phone’s screen cracked despite having one of those tempered glass screen protectors on it. I called Verizon and because I had insurance on it I was able to get a replacement. Sadly, the replacement they sent was a refurbished one that really never seemed to perform like the one I had.

Within the last couple months, it has been getting slower and slower. At times it would just turn itself off and reboot. It has a turbo charger on it, but lately that worked only sporadically. We really did not want to increase our cell phone bill any more, but the phone was becoming unreliable.

Knowing I needed to get a new phone, I did something I rarely do. I went online to the Verizon site and ordered a phone without seeing it first. I’m weird that way, I suppose. I want to hold it in my hand. I want to ask questions. I read a bunch of reviews and went off of those.

The phone arrived today and I began to set it up tonight. In the past, I have been able to just log back into my Google account and then restore from a back up. This time around however, we were running into trouble. Because the account was connected with my old phone, the set up wasn’t going like it should and I actually got blocked by my Google for too many attempts to get in.

I was able to go online and “chat” with an “expert” who walked me through countless things to try to get things rolling. Eventually, we were able to finish the set up. I called the phone and it rang. Text messages were coming through. It seems as though all my contacts are in place. The only thing that it didn’t do this time was load the apps that I had. So I had to go into the Play Store and reinstall them. Time consuming, but I got them all back.

The issue I am having now is that there is a notification that keeps popping up on the top of the screen that says, “To finish set up, click here!” If I click on it, it tries to walk me through all the stuff I have already done. I don’t want to do that. I went back and “chatted” with another “expert,” who told me that I’d have to call back and talk to a tier 2 person about this.

Urgh. Such a pain in the behind. You would think that as often as people upgrade their phones, they’d have come up with an easy and hassle-free was to go from old phone to new.

(As sarcastically as I can muster…) I can’t wait to be on hold with someone later today to try to figure this out ….

Side note: My wife has been wanting me to switch to an iPhone for years. She gently joked that if I had one, the transition from phone to phone would have been easier.

I doubt it.

Spring Is For Splashing!

We have had a lot of rain over the past couple days. It has rained so much that the small city park near us was completely flooded!

While I slept today, Sam said there was torrential rains. When I got up, I could see that the backyard was flooded.

I have to give credit where credit is due – my wife is the “fun” parent. I really don’t think that I would have been the one to say, “Let’s put on your rainboots and go jump in the puddles!” to the kids. She did! Ella lit up! She couldn’t wait to get outside. Andrew was just as excited.

So we all went out and the two of them jumped and splashed! It was really fun to watch.

It was 70 degrees with a slight breeze and the kids loved every minute of it! The smiles and laughter were worth every ounce of mud they brought back in the house!

Andrew was walking by out and you could hear the water sloshing in his boots. Both kids had a cup or more of water in each boot, so the boots came off.

They had a blast jumping and splashing. Oh, to be a kid again!

The wind started to pick up a bit and the sun went away, so it was time to come inside. Neither kid wanted to come in! Despite the chattering teeth, they still wanted to play in the puddles. Sam had gone in and started a bath for them. There was some major coaxing by me and they finally (and sadly) walked inside.

I wish I had gotten a picture of them when they came in. Two wet kids, with mud in the hair, and noses! The warm bath cleaned them up and wonderful memories made – all thanks to Sam’s playful suggestion!

My Next Project

I have been informed by my Project Manager (my wife) that I am tackling a new home improvement project this week. Thankfully, I will once again be under the direction and guidance of the Site Supervisor (my father-in-law). All joking aside, I couldn’t really do anything without his help! He helped me redo our laundry room (with tile and grout), he helped me transform our dining room into Ella’s room, he as helped me with plumbing issues more than once and now he will be working with me on the new project.

In our living room, we have a closet. If you don’t count the linen closet in the bathroom, it is our only closet. Currently, it stores our winter coats and some other things that are hanging in there. It also has shelves off the the side and up top which are holding tools, various boxes, and other things. My wife wants a nook with a bench – so that is what we are going to give her.

The space itself isn’t too big, but I know we need to tear a bunch of stuff out of it to get what my wife is thinking. I am not 100% sure what she is looking to have, but I know she wants a bench, some coat hooks, and basket/bins to go under the bench.

It could look something like the above picture, but this one seems really in the open.

It could look like the picture above, but again, I think this is more complicated than she wants. If I had to guess, I would say that she wants something more like this:

This is deep, like our closet. The coat hooks are perfect for what she was saying. I’m not sure how she wants the baskets under the bench, but it is probably a bit more simpler than the above picture.

It looks like we will get supplies, and do demo of shelves and such on Sunday and finish it up by Monday. I’ll keep you posted.

Pass me that hammer …..