Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter break

Today, for the first time in January, the temperatures climbed above the freezing point for nearly the entire day. Not knowing when we'd have the chance again, we jumped in the truck and decided to make a day of it. And by "it", I mean Michigan.

First stop, the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan (that blur of blue on the horizon) in St. Joseph. 

Silly faces.

Then we crossed the street and entered the Curious Kids Museum, now celebrating it's 25th year. We've never been as a family, but Dave visited with his 4th or 5th grade class (probably the year that it opened - he's THAT old.)

At the entrance, ready to explore.

Apple picking basket? Nope. Sam says it's a hat.

We almost lost Ben to this hungry dinosaur, but thankfully, it's a plant eater. 
This is a face-painting station, but Sam just wanted ink on his hand. He received probably the worst looking Mickey Mouse tattoo in the history of copyright infringement. 

Dave's favorite station: build a house that can withstand an earthquake.

Ben the Builder.

Sam the Veterinarian .
"Who wants a shot." 

"Sam Stephens, DVM"

Not sure if this thing will pass code.

Ben pumping some iron. Literally.

Sam is hard at work in the kitchen.

Here you go, some carrots. I don't want them. 
Capt. Sam at the Coast Guard Boat.

Ben in the broadcast booth.

Ben's favorite exhibit - making a bubble around you.

All this work tires a guy out. 
Have no fear. Sam is here. In the ambulance.
What could possibly go wrong?

Ben, in the back of the ambulance, with the best paramedic ever.

Which way to the hospital?

Fireman Ben, preparing for duty. Fireman Sam is manning the truck.

Let's get these hoses hooked up, stat!

Today's forecast calls for a storm of unbearable cuteness.

We have a late-breaking news story to report. But first, let's go to commercial.

After leaving the museum, we headed to lunch at Clementine's Too  in St. Joseph. The food was great and the boys did pretty well eating at a restaurant that didn't feature a play place. We'll probably be back, maybe in summertime, when you can watch the boats in the marina next door.

After lunch we headed to the beach to see the ice and snow. It's hard to tell from this next photo, but we're actually about 50 feet from the shore. The "shelf ice" looks like it's stable enough to walk on, but we didn't risk it.

Dad, are those icebergs?

Ben: "Ice skating!" 
The St. Joseph lighthouse, frozen over.

Sam said it's too cold to walk.

The three handsomest guys on the carousel just happened to be riding together.
Plus, they have awesome hats.

Ben got his hands on some cotton candy.
Then, some cotton candy got stuck on his hands.
 After the carousel, we thought about heading for home.
But we didn't. 

Instead we headed north to the town of South Haven, hoping to stop in at the Sherman's Ice Cream stand and factory, possibly the best ice cream in the world (OK, not possibly, but most likely). 

Sadly they were closed for the season. Apparently they're unaware that people like ice cream in January.

But we lucked out. After a short drive into downtown, we discovered Capt. Nemo's restaurant and ice cream parlor, which was still proudly serving Sherman's ice cream (possibly last year's stock, but even old ice cream is better than no ice cream). After sharing scoops of salted caramel, Superman and chocolate peanut butter, we were ready to explore town.

Stops included The Gold Brown Bakery, where the second dozen cookies only cost a penny, and a toy store, Harbor Toy Company, where the owner gave us one of those looks that all toy store owners give to parents of young children, when he knows they aren't going to buy anything, 
We stayed anyway.

Of course, we didn't take pictures of any of that. So we'll leave you with a picture of the South Haven light house. The last time we were here was July 4th, 2010, when Dave and Jackie took a ride on a wooden sailing ship, and Ben was just a big belly bump waiting to make his way into the world.

What an amazing four and a half years it has been.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Christmas 2014

We hope everyone is having a very happy 2015 so far. We have all been taking our turns fighting colds so we are hoping the new year will bring better health with it!

Here are some pictures from Christmas.

Grandma and Pop Pop Wallace came up to visit for a couple days to celebrate Christmas. While they were here we went to the South Bend Chocolate Factory for a tour (hence the hair nets). 

What a good looking group!

Ben had a great time on the tour and kept talking about it for days afterwards.

Playing with some of our new games.

Showing off new Christmas pjs with Grandma and Pop Pop.

The family gift this year was a new fish tank. The boys love talking to the new members of our family: Rudolf, Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, and Catwoman (the sucker fish).

On Christmas morning I made pancakes and put candles in them to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus after reading the Christmas Story.

Another present we gave the boys was a new Spiderman tent which they played in all day long.

Another new game we love.

The day after Christmas we headed down to Huntertown to spend some time with Grandma and Pop Pop Stephens, Uncle Jim, Aunt Andrea, and Joshua. Katie was also there and very tolerant of all the hugs from Sam.

Sam shooting spider webs.

Christmas cousin love.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thanksgiving and more

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were able to spend Thursday through Saturday with Grandma and Pop Pop Stephens, Uncle Jim, Aunt Andrea, and Joshua. The boys had a great time playing together.

Here are a few of the pictures I took over the weekend.

Ping pong! Luckily, the boys are tall enough that they don't need adults to help them as much.

These boys love to have races with cars down the ramp. We do the same thing at our house.

Sunday evening we went to our church for an event that the ladies bible study hosted. There were various stations that had ideas about how to keep Christ in Christmas and celebrate the Advent season. The boys had a great time and we were able to find some ideas for this year and in the future.

They told the story of Jesus birth and everyone had a piece of the Little People Nativity to add to the story.

I think Ben enjoyed eating cookies the best. Sam liked spending time with some of the teen girls who were gracious enough to spend time with him. Sam is such a flirt and loves spending time with the older girls while Ben is content to play by himself and get lost in his imagination.

Grandma Stephens stayed with us for the week while Dave and Pop Pop Stephens were in Pennsylvania for deer hunting.

Sam keeps growing up so quickly. He is Ben's shadow and copies everything big brother does. Just today he started calling himself Sammy instead of Sam and says Ben rather than Bubba. Of course Sam still has is own words for things such as "blub blub" for fish, "brrrr" for pacifier, "roar" for bear or lion, and makes an airplane noise or says Dusty when he sees an airplane. Right now he is very aware of emotions and will tell us about going to play with other kids at the gym and not getting to play with the bigger kids "me sad". Sam also likes to show us all his emotions and change the intonation of his voice going from sad, happy, and mad. 

This year we were able to participate in our church's annual ugly Christmas sweater and bowling for the first time. The boys really enjoy bowling and getting a chance to spend time with their friends.

I had a hard time convincing Ben to not always stand right next to his ball. Here he is with his friends Ben and Isaac (identical twins) who have given us so many hand-me-downs. Ben always looks up to these boys. 

Ben has really started to grow up to. His imagination is always at work. Right now he is fascinated with the world of superheros. 

Sam and his poses make me laugh. I tried to get a picture of him shrugging his shoulders which he does frequently but was only able to capture this with his hands behind his back.

Today was a very busy day. After bowling we came home briefly for supper then walked to the park next door for Mishawaka's Winter Extravaganza. Last night we went downtown to see the lighting of the Christmas tree by the local police station. Tonight they had a petting zoo by a live nativity scene, horse-drawn carriage rides, bonfire, movie, Santa, and refreshments. It was a little cool but the boys had a great time.