We consider our dog to be a member of the family, and so of course we have to celebrate his birthday every year. This year he turned 11! He's an old man dog. He's stubborn and grumpy and lazy and yet we love him more than ever.
He had to have several teeth pulled earlier in the year so we've switched him to soft food which he has been enjoying. Instead of serving him a birthday dinner of table food like we've done in the past, we just stuck with dessert this year. We had an ice cream party and served Cracker up his own little scoop of plain vanilla. (And no he does not normally eat at the table, I'm just a big nerd and wanted to stage a photo op.)
Our new house looks out onto a somewhat busy road and Cracker loves to be able to sit by the front windows and watch for any danger that might pass by. You know, like a kid on a bike or another dog out for a walk. Then he turns into full on crazy mode and growls and barks his most ferocious barks until he's scared them off. Then he returns to his post to protect us from the next passerby. Unfortunately he is too short to see out any of the front windows unless we give him a lift, so he usually has to rely on his ears to alert him of potential villains.
For Mother's Day this year Charlie bought me a beach cruiser! We went a week ahead of time to pick it out so that I could choose the color and everything. I was a little hesitant about getting on a bike again. I had only ridden once in the past 20 years (the day Charlie proposed) and that was a wobbly ride! But I actually love my new bike and love riding it. The boys brought their scooters out for my test ride around the cul de sac. We've been on several family bike rides since then and it's so much fun!
On Mother's Day Charlie made us a nice dinner and then helped the boys to make a dessert pizza. It was a giant brownie topped with a cream cheese icing and all sorts of crazy toppings. It ended up being just a little overboard, but the boys had SO much fun making it, so what's not to love about that?
I am so grateful for my little family and love the opportunity that I have to be a mother to my crazy, sweet, and handsome boys.
The Stran Family
It is hard for my sister Sandy and I to get our kids together much during the school year since we both have busy schedules and we live 30 miles away from each other (plus traffic). One night when both of our husbands were traveling for work she loaded up her van and brought the cousins out to play. It was a fun and crazy night with six kids exploring the new house and dragging out as many toys as possible. We managed to gather them all together for dinner before setting them loose again.
My boys have been obsessed with "riding scooters on the road," which means around and around the tree circle in the middle of our cul de sac. It's actually really great because there are never any cars except for our neighbors. It looked kind of like a roller rink with so many kids going in circles that night.
We finished the night off with ice cream. Cute Emma was so excited to get her own little cone.
At the end of the month my parents drove down from Utah to help my brother Brian and his girlfriend Sarah with their move. I hadn't seen my brother in nearly two years, so it was great to finally get together - even if it was just for an hour. It was a quick trip for my parents and unfortunately Lisa and her family weren't able to make it, so we were one sibling away from having our whole family together.
I didn't bring the nice camera and my iphone photos didn't turn out that great, but this is Sarah (Brian's girlfriend), Wendy, and Brian.
My parents with six of their wiggly grandchildren.
Isaac & Luke
These boys are always up to something! Isaac came in one day with all of his light sabers, Longy the snake, and some of his other "gear" and asked me to take a picture of him. I can't remember now what he was playing (probably either spies or snake hunting or something), but I thought it was funny.
Luke wanted me to take a picture of him with Mousey. Mousey, also known as Cookie Monster Mouse, was a Christmas gift from my sister Lisa. It's actually a little stuffed hamster, but when Luke opened the present he immediately declared that it was a mouse and he has been in love with it ever since. It's funny what kids get attached to. Anyway, Mousey disappeared for almost a month. I turned the house upside down looking for him and had a new "mouse" sitting in my amazon shopping cart when we finally found the original Mousey zipped up inside one of Isaac's stuffed animals. Isaac! Anyway, Luke was absolutely delighted to have his little friend back and has resumed sleeping with him every night since.
Luke acquired a second pet mouse when my parents were visiting. My mother had asked me what Luke wanted for his upcoming birthday. He had some pretty funny requests, including "a pet mouse that's blue and talks." Well, never say never because my Mom brought Luke this blue squeaky cat toy and he is over the moon for it! Apparently it's exactly what he wanted. His name is Blue Mouse and he has taken his place right next to Mousey in Luke's bed every night. You can see him sitting atop one of the spires of Luke's block castle in the photo below.
Luke had to do a make-up OT appointment in the afternoon one day. It wasn't enough time to leave and come back so I brought Isaac's homework along and we sat in the car under a tree with the windows down. It was a beautiful day and Isaac loved sitting up in the front seat. When it was time for reading he stretched out and put his feet up on the dashboard. It was one of the few times in the entire school year that he did all of his work without one bit of complaining. He asked me if we could do homework in the car everyday. I wish we could buddy, but I think with Luke climbing around and honking the horn it probably wouldn't be quite as productive.
Isaac's school had a Star Wars themed family fund raiser night. They did a good job of selling this event to the kids while at school because Isaac came home in a whirlwind of excitement telling me all about it and begging to go. So of course I bought tickets, and being the mean mom that I am, used them as bribery for a few weeks leading up to the event. It was a fun night filled with Jedi training, Storm Trooper shoot-outs, droid building, and the ultimate light saber battle with Darth Vader. Isaac and Luke both loved, loved, LOVED it. I should have taken more pictures.
On another day the Kindergarten classes invited all of the parents to come in and read with their children. It was fun for Isaac to be able to show me the journal he'd been writing in and read me some of his entries. Afterwards we all sat at the lunch tables and had snacks. I was also able to volunteer several times throughout the school year and Isaac always loved it when I was there.
One day while out riding scooters, Luke decided that he needed a rest. So he pulled up to the driveway and just laid down. I guess Isaac thought that seemed like a good idea too because he quickly came and joined him. So though this may look like an epic scooter crash, it's really just a relaxing little break. Silly boys.
We have a squirrel that frequents our backyard. We have a row of trees lining the fence and we often spot him climbing around in there or running along our fence and sometimes he comes down and explores around the yard. The boys go nuts whenever they see him out the window and usually race outside - because Isaac is convinced that he can catch him. But of course the moment that squirrel hears them open the door he bolts. So one day Isaac & Luke decided to set a squirrel trap. I'm not exactly sure how it was supposed to work, but they were convinced that the stuffed squirrel with a big plate full of food would certainly be enough to lure in the real squirrel. The only one that was ever fooled was Cracker who spotted the decoy out the back window and went berserk.
A few weeks before Luke's 3rd birthday the school district evaluated him to determine his eligibility for continued services. We knew that he was likely just fine, but went ahead with the evaluation anyway. He got to attend their preschool for three weeks and he loved every second of it. Each morning the teachers would come out with their wagons and a few lucky students would get to ride back to the classroom. Luke loved those wagons. He also loved playing on the new playground and all of the new toys and songs and the teachers. One day they even got to attend an assembly with the Lizard Wizard who brought all kinds of snakes, turtles, frogs, and other creepy crawly things. Luke got to go up on stage and hold a tiny blue frog. I'm a bit sad that he won't actually get to attend ECLC in the fall (Isaac spent three years there and it's a great little school), but of course thrilled to know that he is right on track with all of his milestones now.
Here's Luke all wrapped up after a bath. We don't typically do baths everyday but we had a long streak where Luke would request baths multiple times a day just so the he could play in the water. So we had a lot of baths and a lot of soaking wet floors. Good thing he is so cute.
Isaac, all stretched out and ready for bed. Every night we say prayers and I tuck him in and kiss him goodnight, and then he hops right back out of bed and plays in his room until he feels sleepy and asks me to come back and tuck him in all over again.
One day I came in the family room to find them sitting like bookends on the arms of the couch and watching TV. I'm not sure how this came about as they are usually fighting and sitting on each other in order to claim the couch seat that is closest to the TV.
After spending a Saturday afternoon at the pool, Isaac came home and wanted to lay in the backyard sun to get warm. Luke loves to do everything that Isaac does, so he sprawled out right next to him. My two little sunbathers.
Charlie wanted to take Isaac to an Angels' game. He kept asking if I wanted to come too, but I assured him that I was fine staying home and that it would be too difficult to keep Luke entertained through a whole game. But Charlie bought four tickets anyway, and this is where I will admit that I was wrong. Luke was thrilled to be able to go the baseball game and we all had a really fun night.
Luke was in awe of the fireworks during the opening part of the game when they introduced all of the players. He called them "rockets" and talked about them for days afterwards.
We brought snacks from home but every time the vendors walked past our seats shouting about popcorn, candy, and ice cream the boys would beg to have some. We bought them each a cup of those dippin' dots ice cream things. Despite their solemn expressions in this photo, they loved the ice cream.
Isaac's favorite part of an Angels' game is always when the Rally Monkey comes on the big screen. They show funny video clips with the monkey starring in random scenes from famous movies and then they play the song "Jump Around." So of course Isaac has to jump around too!
The Angels played the Tampa Rays that night. The game was kind of slow, the Angels were losing, it was late, and the boys were getting tired so we left somewhere around the 7th or 8th inning. In the bottom of the 9th they scored four more runs to win the game! And we missed it. Boo. But we still had a great time and hopefully we can make it to another game before the season ends.