Saturday, February 21, 2015

Looks like we have some catching up to do on our blog. It's been very cold here, as cold as -12 this week with more snow. Luckily, we haven't had a lot of snow at once but we do currently have 10-12 inches that seems to be hanging around.

A couple of weeks ago, just before all this snow started, we headed out to Shipshewanna. We went there for supper but first we had to stop at the carousel.

Sam as "Monkey George" outside the toy store.

Look who found us at the carousel...Grandma and Pop Pop Stephens! We had actually decided to meet up with them but surprised the boys.

Church has been cancelled twice in the past month because of the blizzard conditions. One morning we decided to use Ben's Christmas present to talk about God's creation and make bird houses.

The boys had a lot of fun building and painting. We can't wait for the birds to enjoy them.

Today Ben had an idea of going to the dog park to go sledding. Since it had warmed up (in the 30's) we decided it was a good idea to try to enjoy all of this snow.

Izzie loved running around playing with the other dogs.

Sam just looks so grown up so I had to take a picture in his snowsuit. He did a great job sledding. The boys had so much fun. With Sam's size, the dogs loved to try to give Sam kisses, so we had to hold him.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy birthday maple tree

Call it cabin fever but we decided to celebrate our maple tree. Yes, the tree in our backyard had a party. If you remember, last year about this time the boys built a snowman and had a birthday party for it. This was again Ben's idea.

What do you eat for a birthday party for a maple tree? French toast bake with maple syrup of course! And green Christmas tree shaped rice crispy treats for desert.

Instead of pin the tail on the donkey we played pin the leaf on the tree. This is Sam's new favorite game.

Since the maple tree couldn't join us for the party and neither could the outside animals, we decided to invite all of the boys' stuffed animals instead.

We even made party hats for everyone to wear. I think it was a successful party and the tree would be proud.

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.