This first event really isn't a "Little Thing" - Laina turned 7! All she wanted was to have a birthday where she could "actually be with her cousins." As she was falling asleep one night, she turned to me and whispered, "Mommy, please don't let me down." Well, how could we ignore this request after that?!? We made arrangements with family to pack up our bags and spend that early October weekend in Michigan. And boy, was that girl celebrated or what?!?
We started our trip at the Mannes where Laina got her dream "animal party." She has always loved animals more than anything, so this was perfect for her! My sister-in-law Rachael made fun animal decorations, came up with some amazing (and hilarious!) animal games, and even included face painting. It couldn't have been anymore like Laina's personality if she had tried!
We then traveled to the Ainslie side where we celebrated the big 7 year-old at the pumpkin patch. My mom and dad had rented out the place for a couple of hours so we got to have all of the rides to ourselves. Ziplines, tractors, large slides, picking apples, eating donuts and cider, and even trying to walk through their spooky haunted maze (emphasis on trying - we're not the biggest fans of scary things!) made for a great day for all!
After the apple orchard, we headed back to my sister's house where we could celebrate Laina's birthday with cake and with my Grandma, who turned 95 at the end of October! What a gift it is to have my daughter be able to share a birthday celebration with my grandma.
Laina had her THIRD birthday celebration on her actual birthday at home. I think this girl knew what she was doing when she asked for a cousin party - - - what is usually one celebration quickly turned to three! We started the day with birthday donuts and later opened gifts as a family.
We got our little artist a pottery wheel and this was way more fun than I even thought it would be. It even made me want to take a real pottery class! I see a mother-daughter date coming up!! :)
Gosh, we love this girl to pieces. She has added so much joy to our family since the very day she was born. I cannot believe it's been 7 years since that day!
A family in our school allowed the kids to use their home for a barn dance as a fundraiser. I was a little skeptical, but it was one of the most fabulous things I've ever been to! Their barn was simply magical! The kids went on hayrides, fed the animals, and danced under sparkly lights to music from a live band. It was truly such an awesome night!
This little guy was my date the night of the barn dance. He is the son of good friends of ours and he was in the classroom I student taught in this past semester, so we toured the barns together and even showed our moves on the dance floor! What a little cutie he is!
The night wouldn't have been complete without these girls having a sleepover! All these cutie cowgirls went to our friend's for the night and had to stop at the store for treats along the way. The sass just cracks me up!
Here they are the next morning, still as smiley as can be! I think I've said it before, but these girls are like sisters. They sometimes fight, but they love each other so deeply and always work through everything. It's so fun to watch this foursome's friendship!
Cole was invited by our neighbors to go to a preseason Bucks game where he got to sit right in the fourth row and eat our neighbors out of house and home. Ha! I kid about the last part, but he was pretty darn close to doing that. As much as he loves sports, that boy's favorite thing about sporting events is the food!
Jake went to his first ever NFL game, the Packers game, with our friend. There was a bit of drama because his ticket was actually pickpocketed, so they had to go to customer service and just hope that they got there before the other person got into the game. Thankfully they did and he was able to watch from the inside of the stadium instead of sit on the outside!
I came home from grocery shopping one day and was on the phone having an important conversation. Of course, the kids can't stand it and have to climb on the car and make silly faces at me. I love how they welcome me home!
I found this prayer and it so fit my heart this month. We left our church in October after it merged with another and Jake resigned. We're still in a season of searching for where God would have us go, but this prayer still brings me so much encouragement.
As we were contemplating leaving, my friend, Erin, was a great source of encouragement to me. The very morning after Jake and I made the decision that he needed to resign, Erin sent me this post from Jen Hatmaker, knowing that I'm not on Facebook to have seen it. Again, so much encouragement for God's leading us, even though it's so scary to walk out and not have a lifelong plan of where we're headed:
I still love getting emails from my kids. Cole's emails are rare, so it's always a fun treat, especially because he's always so darn funny:
Maurah and Hayden came grocery shopping with me and I couldn't resist having them put on these Halloween masks. This is so creepy and so hysterical all at the same time!
I went to the Belong Tour in Minnesota with these lovely ladies. It was such a sweet time of connecting with them and with Jesus again. So thankful for each of them!
While I was gone, we needed some help with the kids, so some friends took our kids with them during their Saturday activities. This photo is to remember our kids' first time at Taco Bell - - - - our friends were stunned they had never been there! Remember last month and our attempt to give them REAL Mexican food (at Los Tacos, which Cole now affectionately calls Gross Tacos! Ha!)? Well, these tacos they LOVED of course! I think Taco Bell is basically like a school's hot lunch tacos, so they must have tasted familiar to them!
Jake began his new job working at Hartland Overhead Door. Our friend sent me this photo from his first day on the job putting in these huge doors. Definitely a way to initiate him!
Right after Jake began work, he came down with a terrible case of pneumonia. By the time he went to urgent care, his oxygen level was at 85%. The urgent care doctor told Jake to go to the ER because that was really dangerous. I had friends come and take the kids while I rushed to the hospital. It was so scary seeing him hooked up to monitors and hearing the nurses whisper about his condition when I passed them in the hallway. We were worried that he was having a pulmonary embolism, but thankfully a CT scan ruled that out. I honestly sat there, watching my husband's oxygen levels not raise even though he was on oxygen, and I could picture myself with our four kids at his funeral. It was one of the scariest days of my life. He was finally able to raise his oxygen level and we were sent home with him on multiple antibiotics and inhalers. His health still hasn't been the same since.
With all of this going on and our kids doled out to all different families, we realized that it was the only night left in our town to trick-or-treat. Our amazing friend and Wisconsin grandma, Wendy, made sure the kids were all taken care of so they could trick-or-treat. Maurah and Hayden went to their friend, Ally's, and had an amazing time.
Soccer player Hayden - I'm so thankful for all of these friends of mine taking photos for me so I could see them on their Halloween!
Vampire bat Maurah!
Check out that loot!
Laina ended up with our friends, the Voigts. We didn't have her costume with us, so they let her rummage through their daughter's dress-up and she found the perfect dress. Of course, her favorite part of this trip was the dog and the fact that she got to walk the dog as they went around the neighborhood!
Laina and Lylah!
Cole opted to not trick-or-treat and instead went to see the Chinese Lights downtown with the Jones'. He had a blast!
The end of October was not what I expected at all. But we have such a village that rose up to love us and support us during this time. Cole ran into one of his teachers when he was out with the Jones' and I soon got an email from her offering to clean my house, cook us meals, do laundry, anything! I still well up with tears of gratitude for our family here who steps in in the most beautiful and perfect ways whenever we need support. Community is everything for us and this community is just the best.