Ends & Beginnings

There's been a lot that has gone on in the last couple of months for us that I've wanted to document but haven't had the chance to get my thoughts together enough to do so.  Well, my thoughts still aren't fully together so how about a post with a lot of photos and a few captions?  Those are always my favorite anyway!  :)  We'll start at the beginning...or, eh, the end.

I really can't write about this experience without tearing up.  But I also can't not post these photos...Cole and his best buddy, Will.  We got to take Will out for a birthday/goodbye lunch the Wednesday before we moved.  We then went to the zoo, which was a bit disappointing because not many of the animals were out yet.  But these pictures show the bond these boys have with each other.  I've never seen a friendship made faster than Cole and Will.  We miss him so much!  Okay, seriously...I have to stop.  Here are some pics:
This last one kills me...they are the sweetest!

Cole had his last day of school at Kent City Elementary on April 14th.  We said goodbye to his teacher, Mrs. Serba, whom we LOVE so much.  She brought so much out in Cole in these last months together and her heart for preschoolers is incredible.  We are Mrs. Serba fans for life!  :)

We went that afternoon to my mom and dad's.  My sister and her family came and we got to have a "last" sleepover.  It was so great that they were able to spend the night on our last night in Michigan.  We pulled out that next morning and Cole got to ride in the truck with Jake.  Oh yeah...and not just ride in the truck...but he got to play his Leapster the whole way to Wisconsin...a boy's dream come true!

Do you think he was excited?

Our well-wishers:

Off they go!

After the most horrible moving trip I've ever had, we arrived at our new home 7 1/2 hours later and found these beautiful flowers on the dining table next to a card full of "welcomes" from the staff at Westbrook and our fridge and cabinets full of food...all gifts from our new church family and it was just what we needed!

Our new church:

Not knowing where we were moving, this was an absolute step of faith for me.  God definitely blessed us with a wonderful farmhouse, more than big enough to fit our family.  And the yard!  We've never really had a yard for the kids to play in before...we are definitely getting spoiled!  I've had a few people ask for photos of our home so they can picture us in our new surroundings...here are a few!

This is our view out that large living room window:

One of the large oak trees has a swing hanging from it so you can sit and enjoy the lake view.  I snapped this shot of my mom and dad when they were here and I love it:

We have TONS of animals around us and our favorite is this one:

Breezy is our neighbors' dog and we LOVE her.  I've always wanted a golden retriever and this is great because I don't have to do the work with her, I just get to love on her and give her treats now and then.  She comes to visit us almost every day and every day, Laina chases her down, calling, "Bee-sy!" until she gets her to stay.  What can I say?  She loves animals more than people, that's very evident!  :)

We have deer (which is so weird because as I typed that, four of them ran right in front of me and scared me half to death!), a "pet" groundhog and a "pet" chipmunk, and this guy has come to ruffle his feathers once or twice with a few friends of his:

We have gone on more walks with the kids these last three weeks than we probably have in the last three years.  The other night, Laina walked an entire mile around the property without asking to be picked up once!  We call her "Roamer" for a reason!  ;)  It's so great that the kids can go way far away and we don't have to worry about a thing...they love it and I love that I'm not worried about busy streets or bothering neighbors.  It's a win-win for all of us!

Oh - and mud puddles are the best.thing.ever around here:

Cole's favorite thing is having a basketball hoop.  So far, we've played kickball, basketball, baseball and football.  It is SO fun having all of the different places to let him learn these skills and even more fun watching him enjoy it!

The transition time around here was incredibly hard...way harder than I thought it would be.  After we entered the second week and nothing really changed in Cole's attitude, I asked him if he'd want to go to school.  He didn't miss a beat and instantly answered yes.  I, of course being the worrier mother that I am, cautioned him that it would be a new building, new teachers, new friends...it didn't matter one bit to him.  I'm so thankful that he is as willing and outgoing as he is to try these new things that come his way.  I know that I would have just stayed by my mom's side if it was my choice as a kid.  But now, looking back, I realize that I probably missed out on a lot of fun things growing up just because I wasn't willing to take that leap of faith.  Boy oh boy, am I used to taking leaps of faith now!  But it's the biggest blessing to watch my children do the same.  So here is Cole's first day of school in Wisconsin picture...and apparently the sun shines brighter here than it does in Michigan.  ;)
He is loving school and has a spring concert this Friday where he is the Big Bad Wolf in The 3 Little Pigs.  His teacher told me today that he is the best wolf she has ever seen...I will be sure to post pictures if not a video!  I can't wait to see him!  And I'm so thankful that we are once again blessed with great teachers for him.  You couldn't keep this kid away from school if you tried!

So that's it!  I hope you've enjoyed the tour of our little neck of the woods here in Wisconsin!  We sure are... :)

Happy Mother's Day!

This Mother's Day was all about keeping it real.  Laina had a horrible, throaty cough that she is still fighting.  She gets these colds so often and we're sort of lost here without the nebulizer that we had in Michigan.  I'm thinking she struggles more than the other kids because she was born four weeks early and the doctors had questions about her lungs when she was born.  I'm not sure they're as strong as they should be...but that's another story for another day.  (And before anyone comments, I know the twins were way earlier than her...they still struggle with this too.  Again, another story for another day.  :) )

Back to Mother's Day.

Like I was saying, Laina and I stayed home from church.  The house was sooo quiet as she took a nap but I was able to shower without someone barging in and I also had a cup of coffee without the threat of a kid on my lap knocking it out of my hands.  It was nice...for the first hour or so.  Then, it was too quiet and I couldn't wait for everyone to return home.   I hate too quiet.

When everyone did get home, we sat down to a lunch of my Grandma's chicken salad recipe (Jake's and my favorite!), cold veggies and dip, chips and then we finished it off with dirt cake that the kids and I made the day before.  Isn't it fun?!?  The kids made that coffee filter flower too when they made the ones they sent to all of their grandmas.  And of course, worms...what is a dirt cake without worms?  :)
It was delicious!!

After lunch the girls laid down for naps and Cole and Jake went to work on our next project of the day:  a real-life Candy Land game.  The backstory on this is that Cole has been asking us over and over if we could please jump into the Candy Land game board just like they do in the chalk drawings in Mary Poppins.  Finally, Jake said, "We could do it!"  I saw the youth pastor gleam in his eye and knew he'd figure out a way to make it work.  Sure enough, he drew the candy trail on our driveway and we played the game!  He's seriously the coolest dad ever.

The kids had SO much fun and, really, so did we!  At each candy stop, we got to take some candy out of the dish and munch on it throughout the game.  Skittles were at the Candy Castle once you passed the finish line.

Here are the kids all on their first turn.

Laina liked walking around and taking pieces of all of the candy.  However, she did not enjoy the gumdrops...after taking a bite out of every single one!
I am loving Maurah's sense of right and left on this one:
I got this sweet picture of Jake and Hayden while we were on a "potty break" for Maurah.  I love them.

1st Place:  Sassy Girl Maurah

2nd Place:  Wild Haired Hayden

3rd Place:  Cool Kid Cole - who did not have his photo taken for some reason or another

Jake played also but had bad "luck" with the cards.  ("Luck" as in, I kept giving him bad ones so the kids could feel like they'd have a chance to win...I know, I know...lame.  But truly, it was way more fun to watch while he was still playing!)

Here are all the Candy connoisseurs:
I was showered with cards from the kids, tissue flowers Cole made at school, pictures they colored in church and lots of hugs and "I love you, Mommy"s throughout the day.  And Jake gave me a gift I've always wanted...a massage from a real masseuse!   One.whole.hour to relax....ahhh....just thinking of it makes me sleepy.  I cannot wait!

And here's our lovely Mother's Day picture.
 Isn't it just the sweetest?  Ha!  Like I said, we are keeping it real!  I crack up at the moms I've seen on Facebook complaining about their pics where their kids are all dressed up and maybe one isn't looking or it's just not the perfect photo.  Then you have ours...Laina screaming, me in my comfy pjs and forced grins all around.  :)

Ours may not be one to hang on the wall...or is it?  All I know is that I will look back on this day with so much fondness and love in my heart.

Because being a mom in this family is awesome.

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...