Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cousin Weekend

"Cousins? Cousins?"
"No... Imma see Cousins."
- Ethan Mark

Ever since camping this June, Ethan has been all about his cousins,
Andrew (8), Hannah (6), and Titus (3.5).

I better not mention their names unless we are meeting up.

Otherwise he goes into the saddest longing for them
(reminiscent of his longing for Grandmas' houses... another button I don't push)

Jeremy and Katie are getting ready to pick up their adopted daughter from the Congo, Trinity Faith.
Trinity will be about Ethan's age... could this get any better for the little guy?

We are so excited to meet our newest niece this Fall/Winter!
Until that time, Mark and I thought we'd reach out and try to bless J&K with some alone time before their family physically grows from 3 to 4 kids!

So... we took our nephews and niece for the weekend.
{So I know I'm biased... but I seriously have the cutest, sweetest, and funniest nieces and nephews ever! I could go on and on and on about them... just wait!...}

*****

Lets start the day before they came.

Right when Ethan woke up, I told him that his cousins, Andrew, Hannah, and Titus were "coming to spend the weekend with us tomorrow!"

His response?

"No... Imma see cousins. Imma see cousins nooooow."

I responded by saying, "We'll see them tomorrow. Today we'll have bath time, breakfast, playtime, lunch, nap time, Daddy will come home, dinner, and then after you'll go night night... when you wake-up, we'll go get your cousins."

He stopped for a beat. Blank look in his eyes. Then said,
"No.... Imma cousins now."

(as if that were that.)

"Ethan, you have to go night night first, then when you wake up tomorrow, we'll see them."

After that he left the room, ran to his bedroom, and shut the door.

I thought to myself, "Great... what kind of depression are we getting into now?"

When I opened the door, I found Ethan in his big boy bed, covers on, eyes closed.

He was going to make tomorrow come sooner than later.

{Cute Boy!}

At any rate, we "survived the day" and by the time tomorrow came, he woke up with his first words being, "Cousins?" as if to say, "You're good on your promise, right Mom?"

"Yes, Buddy! Cousins!!.... We just have to take a quick bath and eat breakfast first ;)"

He was pleased.

I meet Jeremy, Katie, and the kids at Chipotle in Roseville.

Now this was just about the sweetest thing EVER!

Once we stepped into Chipotle, Andrew and Ethan locked eyes as the same time... ran to each other... and full on embraced - Andrew holding Ethan - and looked into each other's eyes, beaming for a good 10 seconds. (Ethan was squealing of course).

Ahhhh cousins.
What's not to love about them??

Unfortunately, Ethan was so pumped that he couldn't sit still for lunch. In fact, he decided to run laps around the restaurant most of our meal.

We said our good-byes and loaded up the truck to... the Dollar Tree!
The surprise was that each kiddo could pick out any 2 toys that they wanted.
Auntie's a big spender ;)

Andrew and Titus got a small collection of guns, "policeman stuff", and action figures.
Hannah got arts and crafts that had to do with unicorns, ponies, or something of the sort.
Ethan got 2 foam swords.


Driving home, the game "I Spy With My Little Eye" turned into a HUGE conspiracy...
"That one's following us!"
"All the cars but the blue ones are bad guys!"

The boys used their new guns to get the "bad guys" and all the way home we were bringing justice to the streets of Granite Bay, Folsom, and El Dorado Hills.

You're welcome.

The excitement didn't stop in the car... it spilled over and into our home.
Mean while, Hannah asked to see her room.

She was thrilled to see that her room had her own bathroom.
She then wanted to play in her room by herself... 
I don't blame her. Who wants to get sprayed by bullets or pinned by ninja stars?
(all imaginary of course... but it's the principal that I totally get, being a girl ;))

I didn't count on E going down for a nap... but he surprised me!
A, H, & T have "quiet time" everyday because they don't take naps anymore.
During quiet time they read, did crafts, etc. independently.
Ethan fell asleep the last 20 minutes of their quite time.
Oh well... he still napped so... I'll take it!

When quiet time was over, I asked the kids if they wanted to go out and pick some berries to make pie for tonight. 
Hannah said, "Oh, no thanks. I don't like the stickers. They're too pokey."
Luckily I bought all my berries thornless as they come!

She was a real trooper!
Hannah was on raspberry duty while Andrew, Titus, and I attacked the blackberry bushes.



Andrew found a praying mantis!


I told them to only pick the blackberries that were all black because otherwise they will be too tart... Titus, however, had a difference of opinion.

He said, "The red ones are good!" as red dripped down his chin.

There you have it.

Then Andrew said, "He always does that."

:)






Andrew and Hannah's reaction to our Mile High Blackberry Pie!



The play by play...
Harvest to Feast!

When Ethan woke up, there were more battles to be won!




Once "Uncle Marky" got home, we made our own personalized pizzas!



When I was pregnant with Ethan, Andrew and Hannah spent the night and we made Ratatouille... it was lots of fun!




Cutest Hannah Bug!
(told you I'm biased)



Pizza Party!
Uncle Mark took a vote and both Hannah and Andrew decided they liked this dinner better than Ratatouille.
Gotta be honest, I didn't see that one coming.
;)
That night we watched the first half of the Disney Classic, Robin Hood.

Oooh-da-lolly!

Brushed our teeth, prayed, and hit the pillow... quite hard, might I add ;)

The next day we had pancakes for breakfast... packed a snack, and headed out to the Promontory Sprayground in EDH.

We had 2 purposes there:

1. Get wet
2. Revisit a classic "science experiment", Diet Coke and Mentos.

And by revisit I mean, the first attempt (3 years ago) was a dud. 
Here is some evidence:

Materials: Diet Coke & Mentos



Going for the drop...


Eh... not impressive
(we had filled our minds with youtube videos of sychronized explosions coordinated to music and "rocket bombs"...)



A little afraid...


"Oh no!"


Dud!


We discovered that you needed some kind of tool to drop all the mentos in at the same time.
(Also, I just now discovered how much I love or new camera. So long, farewell point and shoot!)

Here's a video of the latest Science Experiment with Uncle Mark:


video




And the video of the kids getting sprayed at the Sprayground!

video







Best Uncle, ever!




Snack time!



On our way home, we stopped by a strawberry field to buy more fresh strawberries.
I'm becoming quite the fresh produce consumer these days... even got myself a Farmer's Market app for my phone ;)

Andrew and I hopped out of the truck together to gather the goods.
We got strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries (they were sweeter than ours...)

When we were all done, I said, "Thank you! God Bless you!"
The lady in turn said, "Please pray for me."

Andrew and I stopped in our tracks... we asked what she needed prayer for.
She said that her husband was cheating on her.

I looked at Andrew and his face fell, eyes widened, his entire expression morphed with empathy.
My heart sank... not knowing all the details and not wanting to dive into them with Andrew, I offered to pray for her right there.

Andrew nodded then bowed his head as we prayed for God to intervene. 
We prayed for strength and peace for her... We prayed that her husband would turn from his sin and
that God would heal their marriage and be ever so present.

As we walked back to the car, Andrew said, "We need to tell Uncle Mark, but not in front of Hannah. She's extra sensitive about this kind of thing."

I agreed.

When we got a minute, we told Uncle Mark... and this is the part I'll never forget...

Andrew said, "When we got the strawberries, the lady selling them to us asked us to pray for her so we did. She said her husband was cheating on her.."

Mark said, "Oh..."

Then Andrew said, "I wasn't sure what she meant exactly by that. Was he cheating her out of her money? I don't know... but she needed prayer."

Mark and I looked at each other and then I said, "Well, I guess we don't know for sure what she meant exactly, but we know that she needed prayer because her husband was betraying her and his sin was separating them and him from God..."

Andrew nodded his head some more.

He was the sweetest picture of innocence. His heart was in the right place and I'll never forget it.
Andrew has many shining qualities, but one that has always shone brightest (to me at least) is his sensitivity and empathetic heart. God will truly use these gifts to bring glory to His Kingdom and light up this dark world of ours. It's so amazing to see God working and molding his heart!

*** Ethan fell asleep on the ride home - another praise! ***

While he napped we had quiet time.
This quiet time ,Hannah and I had special girl time...

We painted our nails and talked about what was going on in her 6-year-old world.

This is what her feet looked like when we were done with them:



We promised the kiddos a "special surprise" all weekend.
The suspense killed them!

When Ethan woke up, we loaded up the truck and headed to the special surprise!

What was it?

Hawaiian Ice Cones from Shiver Sisters
(Groupon Score!)

This "place" is a mobile silver bullet trailer converted to an icee stand/shoppe.
They had fun flavors that instantly drew the boys like "Tiger's Blood" and "Spider Man"

Mark and I split a Serrano Sunset and added cream and ice cream
(I thought we deserved it ;) )

It was pretty yum! :P


That night we had dinner, watched the 2nd half of Robin Hood, bruised teeth... and then Andrew read us all 2 Bible stories. 

The scene was Hannah's bedroom... all 4 monkeys on the bed.
Andrew reading, bible in lap, back to the kids... Hannah creeping closer to see the pictures, and Ethan and Titus giggling uncontrollably, not listening to a word Andrew was saying.

Andrew, would stop... exhale heavily to express his disapproval of E & T's blatant disrespect over his reading, then say, "I'm just going to stop until everyone is quiet".

I encouraged him to keep reading (knowing that time would be never come)

Meanwhile Ethan and Titus are sharing a pillow, facing each other, inches between them while E pretends to sleep. Titus is so tickled by the sight that he bursts out laughing causing Ethan to explode in laughter too.

Mark and I smiled at each other while Andrew rolled his eyes.

All 4 kiddos were in bed by 8:30pm... so Mark and I kicked back and watched an episode or two of 30 Rock on Netflix.

******

The next morning there were more wars... of course... 



They played dress-up


...and more timed clean-ups.

Oh, I didn't mention those?
They are the best.

Tapping into the "leader of the pack's" competitiveness... I would conclude each activity transition with a timed clean-up.

{Insert halo and innocent smile... "What?"}

I would start by asking how many minutes each thought it would take to clean up the house.
They would take turns guessing.
Then I would time it on my iPhone stop watch.

Once I said, "Go" they scattered like cockroaches (super cute, cockroaches), racing to put everything away.

GeNiOuS!

Each time we'd finish, we'd see who guessed closest to the time and say that person "won".

Each time the kids tried to beat their time and needless to say, their cleaned-up quicker...

:D


 We ate pancakes, packed up, went to church, then met up with Jeremy and Katie in Roseville.

Ethan crashed on the ride home and I later get a text from Katie with a picture of her 3 kiddos knocked out in the back seat.

Cousin Weekend A Success!