Sunday, December 6, 2009

The halls are decked, the stockings are hung... it must be time for Christmas!  The month of November was a busy one - a baby shower, a wedding reception, 3 straight weeks of home games for the Vikings, and oh yeah, Thanksgiving - so the month just flew by.  It went by so fast, we didn't even take many pictures, which is unusual for us.  We had a very nice Thanksgiving, spending a relaxing day up at Mom & Dad B's house and enjoying Mom's yummy turkey dinner.

The boys check out the ornaments as Mommy unpacks them
The boys check out the ornaments
as Mommy unpacks them

Never ones to want to venture out into the chaos that is Black Friday shopping, we spent that weekend making the change from Autumn to Christmas, getting all the Christmas decorations up around the house and, of course, decorating the tree.  Now that the boys are bigger, they were thrilled to be able to help Cole and Mommy hang ornaments.  They had a lot of fun with each ornament, as you can see in the pictures in the Nov-Dec 2009 album.  As always, the finished tree is beautiful, all ready for Christmas.  Happy Holidays to everyone!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween and other Fall fun

Shaggy and Daphne
This Fall has been a busy one for the Vandermarks, but it's been a lot of fun - trips to the zoo, a couple of football games, the circus (and not just the one at our house!) and a couple of Halloween parties.

Joe and I had a great time at our friend's Halloween party.  The theme was 80's TV characters, so we went as Shaggy and Daphne.  There were some really great costumes there - the Love Boat, Who's The Boss, Falcon Crest, the Jetsons, Baywatch and more - even Clara from the Where's the Beef commercials and the Trix bunny.   We made some Jello shots to share, including a special chocolate-covered cherry one that we chronicled in the photo album (Yum!!).

Zach and Alex went as Thing 1 and Thing 2 this year.  It's the perfect "twin" costume, and well, it really fits them. :mrgreen: They were particularly excited about their blue hair and really loved it when people commented about it.  They got to wear it two days in a row, going to Joe's company Halloween party and visiting Grandma's office one day and then to the HallZOOween party at the MN Zoo the next.  Cole reprised his costume from years past as a Roman soldier (why change when it's a great costume, right?).  Check out the Sept - Oct 2009 album for pictures from zoo, plus other Fall fun, like pumpkin carving and more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's time for school!

Zach and Alex really like Teacher Becky
Zach and Alex really like Teacher Becky

It's September, and as in most households, that means it's time for school!  Cole started in 9th grade this year at his junior high (yep, you read that right: he's a freshman already!), while Zach and Alex started preschool.  As you can imagine, Zach and Alex were just a little more excited about going to school than their big brother - but then, they didn't have homework looming over them like Cole did. :)  The little guys really had a great time at school.  They played with cool toys, read a story, sang some songs and even had a popcorn snack (does it get any better?). They had so much fun that they were totally worn out and quiet the whole way home.  We don't have pictures of Cole's first day (for which I'm sure he's grateful), but we do have pics from Z&A's first day in the Sept - Oct 2009 photo album.

Also in that photo album are a couple of pictures we took when my cousins Angie, Josh and Aubrey came up to visit us and go to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" - the State Fair.  I think Angie and I had both planned on taking more pictures than we did, but somehow we were too busy eating all the yummy foods on a stick.  We don't have many pictures to prove it, but we all had a great time. They hope to come back another year if for no other reason than Josh needs to get his deep-fried pickles again (my faves too)!

The July - Aug 2009 album also has some new photos, including some food fun, a trip to the zoo, a visit to the BP Fire Station for their open house, and the cool Star Wars ships Z&A earned with potty training.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A family stay-cation

A family portrait in a beautiful garden
A family portrait in a beautiful garden

I have to say, I'm really not a big fan of the term "stay-cation" - it's just too much of a trendy buzzword for my taste - but it is a word that pretty well describes what we did for our vacation this year. Instead of going to the Dells like we did the last couple years, Grandma Pat thought it would be a good idea to just hang out in town and enjoy some of the fun things the Twin Cities have to offer.  We got to sleep in the comfort of our own beds (and save a bunch by skipping the hotel), which was nice especially for the boys.  So what did we do?

The first day was Papa Bob's birthday, so it was fitting that we spent the day at a train museum.  We went to the Jackson Street Roundhouse, where they have restored engines and cars of all kinds on display to give visitors a glimpse of life on the rails.  We even got to see the roundhouse in action as they brought an engine out to give visitors a ride on a real caboose.

The next place we visited was the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park at the Mall of America. Zach and Alex had a great time on all the rides - they are pretty fearless. One of the funniest moments happened on the Frog Hopper ride. As Zach was getting off the ride, his shorts caught on the seat and he ended up upside down with the shorts still hooked (I still can't believe they didn't come off!).  Amazingly, he thought it was hilarious - and so did we!  We managed to get a pretty good picture of that. :)

The next day we went to Como Park, which houses a zoo, a conservatory (both of which are free to the public), and an amusement park for younger kids called Como Town. It was the first time in a long time that any of us had been to Como, and we really had a good time.  Como has more of the traditional zoo animals than the MN Zoo, of which we are members and therefore go to a lot, which was fun to see.  Z&A loved the rides, of course, and can't wait to go back.

Then we had a low-key day.  Mom and I drove up to Fargo to shop at a specialty store there and see how campus had changed at my alma mater.  Joe and the boys were busy too, planting a new birch tree in our front yard.

The rest of the week looked like this: First, it was off to the Water Park of America (right next door to the Mall).  Our little fishes loved the slides in the kids' play area.  They also have some fun slides for the big kids too, as well as a lazy river and a place to surf (which we didn't try).  The next day, it was the Scott County Thresher Festival, where Z&A were in tractor heaven, and a stop at a park most here know as "Chutes and Ladders".  Our last outing was to Stages Theater to see their production of "The Wizard of Oz." This was the first live play Zach and Alex had seen, and they were completely enthralled, which was cool.

Check out the pictures of all the fun in the Stay-cation 2009 photo album.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More summer fun photos added

As with any sports program, the BP Preschool Sports program has individual and team photos taken.  The boys' pictures came out really cute, so I scanned them in to share.  They're on the last page of the May - June 2009 photo album. The expressions on their faces are just too cute. :)

In the new July - Aug 2009 album (seriously, how is it that July is almost over already???), there are some pictures and video clips from the tee-ball part of Preschool Sports.  The videos are pretty funny - it's complete chaos (I think even more than soccer was, if that's possible) and it's obvious we need to teach Zach and Alex about how the bases work in the sport.

Zach, Daddy and Alex
Zach, Daddy and Alex

Also in the album are pictures from shooting "booms" on the 4th with Robert and Kwo Ue, a mini-golf and go-cart outing with Grandma Pat and Papa Bob, and a parade and carnival at BBQ Days, the town festival.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer fun

We've had a lot of fun so far this summer playing outside and enjoying some great weather.  One of our highlights was the night we camped out in our new tent in the backyard.   We had a lot of fun reading stories (all camping or sleeping related :) ), checking out the stars and just hanging out.  We even managed to get some sleep - although I've realized my body just can't handle the hard ground like I did when I was a Girl Scout oh so many years ago!

Zach and Alex were really excited to play sports this summer, joining a Preschool Sports program where they get to play a little bit of soccer and a little bit of tee-ball.  They had soccer the first couple weeks and just loved it.  They both looked really good and had a blast doing it.  They were just non-stop all over the place (not a huge surprise, knowing them).  The tee-ball portion started this week, and again, they had a ton of fun.   I think they're especially proud to be out playing baseball just like their big brother.

Speaking of big brother and baseball, Cole's baseball team had a great regular season, finishing first in their league!  The playoffs are this week, and they won their first playoff game tonight!  Yeah, Cole!

In totally separate news, both Zach and Alex are finally potty trained.  Yeah! No more diapers!!  Zach was finally motivated to do it once he realized that he had to use the potty if he wanted to go to preschool in the fall.  It's funny what motivates kids sometimes, but hey, whatever works! :)

New photos on the site include pictures from our camping trip, all three boys playing their sports, a fun afternoon playing with squirt guns at Grandma Pat and Papa Bob's, and more.  Check them out in the May - June 2009 photo album.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A visit from Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn

Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn with their grandsons
Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn
with their grandsons
We were thrilled to have Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn come to town to visit us for the weekend a couple weeks ago.  It was so wonderful to see them!  We all had such a great time.  Zach and Alex showed off their Lego-building and lightsaber-fighting skills to Grandma and Grandpa, and they had Grandpa read any book they could get their hands on.  On a rather chilly Saturday, Grandpa Dan helped Joe and Cole with a little yard work.  That evening, the adults, joined by Grandma Pat and Papa Bob, went to nearby Suzette's to celebrate our 6th anniversary.

The next day was spent at the Minnesota Zoo, where Grandpa Dan and Cole had the amazing opportunity to spend 3 hours backstage with the dolphins.  They got to interact directly with the dolphins, work with them on their tricks by giving commands and rewarding them with a treat for a job well done.  Pictures (and a couple video clips!) from the weekend, along with a few other random pictures from the last month, can be found in the May - June 2009 photo album.

In other family news, we were excited to hear that Cole's band and jazz band both won first place at a recent competition.  We were also proud of Cole himself, who sounded great in a solo at a recent concert.  His baseball team is off to a great start this season too, with an 8-2 record.  Way to go, Cole!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finally catching up on posting photos

Wow, it's crazy how fast a couple months can fly by!  I've finally gotten around to posting all the photos from the past couple months.  Some have been up on the site for a while, as you may have seen from the changes in Recent Photos, but I never got around to publishing the links to them.  The highlights:

Cole's 14th Birthday: Grandma Pat and Papa Bob came by to celebrate with us, and after having cake and opening presents, we all went bowling, a fun birthday present courtesy of Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn. Even Debbie and Ben joined in the fun.
Mar - Apr 2009:
- My birthday, which I celebrated by making a donation to Locks of Love with 11 inches of my hair.  We also spent a day at Mom and Dad's house.
- Trip to the Children's Museum to see the Clifford the Big Red Dog exhibit along with the usual fun stuff. It was Cole's spring break, so he joined us, as did Grandma Pat.
- Easter: the egg hunt in town, a visit from the Easter Bunny, and special Easter baskets from Grandpa Dan and Grandma Marilyn
- Baseball: Zach & Alex get their first gloves, and Cole's first game of the season
- Alex wears big boy underwear for the first time after staying dry for 2 days!  He was really excited to wear his new Star Wars underwear.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy 14th Birthday, Cole!

Cole is one more year closer to getting a driver's license, turning 14 yesterday. :shock: He got all sorts of great birthday wishes from what we heard, with a singing voice mail from Grandma Pat and phone calls from (among others, I'm sure) Grandma Marilyn and Grandpa Dan, Grandpa Bob, and of course us.  Zach and Alex even sang "Happy Birthday" to their big brother, which made Cole giggle.  Cole's got a pretty fun weekend lined up to celebrate, with a birthday party with his friends on Friday night and a party with our side of the family on Sunday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Terrific Twosome turned three!

Alex, Cole & Zach at the concert
Alex, Cole & Zach at the concert

Zach and Alex turned 3 on January 29th, so we all helped them celebrate the big day.  The Sunday before their birthday, Grandma Pat, Papa Bob, Debbie and her boyfriend, Ben, came over for a little party.  The boys had a ton of fun opening their presents, although they were a little confused as to why no one else had presents like at Christmas.  They got a bunch of great games, cars and other toys and even got a set of their very own tractors! After opening the presents, the boys went downstairs to try out the tractors and some of the games. To cap off the day, we had a chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting that was decorated with Star Wars figures, which they thought was pretty darn cool.

Their checkup was on the 28th, and they are doing great, although they are of course still skinny.  Zach measured in at 25 lb 15 oz (under 5th percentile) and 36.75 inches tall (30th percentile).  Alex was 26 lb 8 oz (under 5th percentile) and 37 inches tall (30th percentile).  Both of those marks are pretty consistent for them so far.  They are doing great in development too - they exceeded most of the development marks expected at their age, esp with speech and reading, and the only thing on the list they couldn't do yet was pedal a trike, which they are close to doing.

On the day of their birthday, Debbie surprised them with a breakfast treat of donuts and then Joe took them to the Children's Museum.  They wore little "Birthday Boy" buttons that they had picked out at the store - they were SOOOO excited to wear them (their "ties" as they called them).  They've been working really hard at holding up just three fingers and telling people how old they are.

We of course have a ton of pictures that we took, and they've all been posted in the Zach and Alex's 3rd Birthday album.  There are also a number of pictures in the new Jan - Feb 2009 album, including photos from Cole's recent band concert.  Cole's band did a fantastic job - we were all so proud of him!

Also, I never posted the link to it, so if you're interested, you can check out the Christmas 2008 album to get a peek at our celebration.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oh my, they're getting so big!

Zach and Alex crossed another milestone today, when we took the crib tents out and changed the cribs over to "big boy" beds this morning.  They were SO excited - they even helped Daddy by using their own tools on the bed and hanging on to the screws.  The last time we tried this at 18 months old when they started climbing out of the cribs, it did not go well - hence the crib tents that, to me, are easily one of the all-time greatest inventions.  Now, 18 months later, the tents are falling apart and the boys seemed ready for the transition now that they are almost 3.

Right now, at nearly 10:30 PM, I'd say it's going fairly well even though we went in to shush them about 15 minutes ago. I think that had more to do with the excitement of birthday presents and cake from their party today than it did the bed.  Besides, they've stayed in their beds the whole time even though they were still talking. That's a huge win in my book, esp compared to last time!

The other big recent milestones? We now have them in booster seats instead of high chairs at their meals.  They've done so well that we've cleaned up the high chairs in preparation to give them to someone else.  They're also wearing Pull-ups a lot now, which they are quite proud of, although they still don't use the potty real consistently.

All this and they turn 3 in a couple days - my little babies are turning into big boys so quickly!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Damn it's cold!

For those of you that left the great state of Minnesota or those that never had the privilege of living here, you missed a cold one! With low of temp of -20.3 °F and dew point low of -25.8 °F it was one of the "hot" topics of the day. Weather forecasters (if you are to believe them) say the coldest day will be this Thursday with a HIGH of -6 °F.

A little sample of our temps and dew points for today, the source of the data is my personal weather station in our yard (Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 Plus).