Thursday, December 11, 2014


We made a surprise trip to Utah for Thanksgiving. Up until about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving we had no plans to go back to Utah this year but Andrew had a bunch of vacation days he needed to use and we happened upon some super cheap plane tickets and so off we went!
It was a blast! We got to stay for eight whole days! We spent tons of time with cousins and at Aunt Gayle's house. On Thanksgiving we went up to Uncle Phil's house which was awesome. They just built a new house and they even have a play room that has a basketball court, a rock wall and a huge slide. The slide was surprisingly fun (yes... I tried it... multiple times)
Our kids were in heaven. Between the good company, and the good weather (not to mention all the animal friends we have been missing so badly) We couldn't have asked for anything better.
 AnDee (of course) rocked the climbing wall. Even her older boy cousins that live in the house couldn't compete. The girl is a natural... to bad we live in Illinois and its not a skill that she can put to much use right now.

My kids got reintroduced to their Uncle Caleb. Its been while since we got to spend some good time with him and Im pretty sure he reached favorite uncle status within minutes.

Ike got to learn how to drive the truck (He was so serious about it. Super funny)
 and ride a camel

 My kids miss their dogs almost as badly as I do. We all wanted to go visit Betty but never had the chance. It probably would have just resulted in tears anyway.

Every morning when the kids woke up, the first thing they asked was if they could go to Gayles. The poor lady was pretty worn out by the time we left but when you do cool things like fishing and making cupcakes and planting gardens my kids are gonna spend every second they can with you!

We are so so so blessed to have such awesome family and friends. This trip was so relaxing and pleasant. Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to spend time with us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Halloweeny Stuff

We kicked things off this year with pumpkin carving with the missionaries! Im sure they LOVED every minute of it. Hehe. The kids sure did though.
Unfortunately I got approximately zero pics of the finished products but we went old school this year with the good old Jack-O-Lantern style. Except Andrew "helped" Ike do a pretty sweet witches hat.

Next up was our ward trunk or treat. The kids loved it and all the the attention they got. Ike caught on to the trick or treating thing pretty quick. He would run up, yell something that sounded vaguely like "trick or treat" and hold out his hand. Once candy was placed in his had he would do a little dance, put it in his bag and say "dee do" (which obviously means "thank you") and give a little wave and then he was off to the next car!
The older kids in the ward wiped out our candy pretty quickly but it ended up being Okay cause after our kids made their round they quietly climbed in the car and got their buckles on and waited patiently for mom and dad to be ready. (Im sure the candy had NOTHING to do with their patience.)

Next up we went to AnDee's school to watch the Kindergarten Halloween parade. It was FREEZING and the parade lasted about 10 seconds but it was worth it cause she was SO excited to see us there!

This is a shot of her make up. In AnDee's world this is by far the most important part so we of course had to have a picture of it.

Last but not least we took the kids out on Halloween night to trick or treat.... at the outlets... because we don't know anyone around here and going to the people in our ward would be far more driving than it would be worth.
The outlets were actually quite perfect though. We stayed decently warm and got a ton of candy. Not to mention that the Disney outlet was so awesome with the kids. They took individual time with each kid to make a Mickey or Minnie Halloween crown and then gave them a whole snack bag.
Before we left our house to go to the outlets AnDee had taken a note pad and had written "Happy Halloween" (to the best of her ability) on about 20 of pages. As she received candy she said thank you by giving everyone  one of her happy Halloween cards. It was super cute and super funny to see the reactions of some of the people. Some thought it was the cutest thing ever and told her they would cherish is forever. Others looked slightly disgusted as they hesitantly took the crinkled little paper from her and others looked completely confused and occasionally some even refused them. It didn't deter her though. Im pretty sure she was far more happy about handing those little papers out than she was about getting candy.

This is the only pic we got of the evening. We suck at picture taking.

The next day we got to "join in" on the Cowley cousin Halloween party via FaceTime. I thought this was going to be hard on the kids to see their cousins all having fun at Nana's house without them but it had quite the opposite effect. They got to talk to all of their cousins (that were in attendance) and got to see everyones costumes. I think they were on the computer for over 2 hours. Somehow they even managed to play games like hide and seek over FaceTime. It was fantastic and they were so so happy. We are SO grateful for the crazy technology that exists these days.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things...

When Ike gets out of the tub and takes off naked running around the house. We have a few of those hooded towels for the kids. We have a ladybug, a tiger and a shark. Ike really couldn't care less which one he gets but every time he gets out of the tub he waits just long enough for me to put the hood on his head and then he lets out a little giggle and takes off running. It then, of course, turns in to a big very giggly game of chase. Its adorable and if I wasn't afraid of him peeing on my carpet Id probably just let him run around like that all day every day.

When Pep is trying not to laugh but the laughter bursts out anyway. Pep doesn't like people to know he can be happy. He has a consent poker face. But sometimes... he just can't contain it. Its like when you are in church or in the middle of a prayer and you know its totally inappropriate to laugh so you hold it in and it just makes it more funny until finally you can't hold it in anymore and the laughter just erupts from you making it so much worse than it would have been if you could have just quietly giggled. The best part about all of this is that his laugh is completely and totally contagious. The. Best. Laugh. Not kidding. It melts me.

When AnDee happy-sings. AnDee does a lot of emotional singing. She sad-sings. She happy-sings. She angry-sings. She lonely-sings. I enjoy and/or laugh at all of her emotional singing but her happy-singing is the best because you can't help but feel the happiness too. She will spread her arms out wide with her palms pointed to the sky and she will spin a big circle and say something like "This is the best day ever!!!" and then the magic happens. She bursts in to the sweetest most positive and uplifting lyrics anyone has ever heard. Some times its sweet and princess like and other times it is rockin' booty shaking kind of music but whatever it is, its always adorable.

When one of the kids come in to our bed in the middle of the night and instead of getting angry and frustrated (like I do) Andrew scoops them up in his arms and holds them. He will stay this way all night. He never asks them to move or makes them go back to their beds. No matter how uncomfortable he might be, he toughs it out and my kids have no doubts about coming to their dad when they need a little comfort.

These things, among many others, make my days happy lately.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Visitors

We are loving the amount of visitors we have had lately. If any of you would like to visit we would be more than happy to welcome you and show you a good time.
We consider all of our visitors special but this time we had an extra special one. We got to see Uncle Stevie for the first time in over 2 years! This was Ike's first time meeting Stevie and I was honestly astounded by how quickly they became best buds. Ike is usually a little standoffish. Like with Grandpa for instance... he wouldn't have a thing to do with him until the last day they were here and I wouldn't call their interactions overly friendly at that point either. Mostly Ike just didn't cry when grandpa talked to him. But with Stevie he was like this from day one...
 As apposed to this photo of him with Grandpa on day 5...
Poor AnDee was forced to go to school while they were here but that did mean that we all got to take walks together to pick her up. The look on her face when she walked out to see them all waiting for her was priceless.
 Pep got to show off his "wilderness" peeing skills on one of those walks.

We took them to eat at our favorite restaurant in downtown Naperville and took them to see the bell tower and the river walk and our favorite big tree.

We took them to Starved Rock which was AMAZING this time of year. I have never seen fall colors like that. The trees here turn this amazing bright red/pink color. Incredible.

 And while Andrew and Ike looked like this (yes. they really did sleep like that in the middle of a hiking trial... for an hour.)
 We all hiked through the leaves and gathered acorns

And of course we took them on the train to the city. This time we took them to the Field Museum, Millennium Park and of course to get pizza at Lou Malnati's. It was a bit chilly and we did a TON of walking but it was good fun and the company was great.

Its always hard to say goodbye but we are always so happy to have family and friend here. We sure miss hanging out with these awesome people on a daily basis.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wisconsin Dells

Last weekend Andrew surprised us with a little trip up to "The Dells" as the people around here refer to it. Basically its a little town in Wisconsin that is full of giant resorts with the Country's largest indoor water parks. This place was way too fun. We decided to stay in a different suit each night we were there just to check them out and see the differences because we plan on returning. The first night we stayed in an awesome room with a fire place and a loft for the kids to sleep in. The second night we stayed in a slightly smaller room that had a separate little room or "wolf den" with bunk beds for the kids.

The water park was SO awesome and so good for the kids. Our kids never get to go swimming and therefor are somewhat terrified of deep water but buy the end of our little trip both AnDee and Joseph were swimming around by themselves. The park included a wave pool, a lazy river, regular swimming pools and "warming pools" (which is like a less hot version of a hot tub so the kids can get in too) kiddie slides, tube runs, and body slides. Not to mention the giant optical corse type deal that had the giant bucket on top that pored out every few minutes (yes... I did FORCE AnDee to stand under it with me) AnDee got brave and started doing the big slides all by herself. Ike was a champ and pretty much just went down any slide we told him to without complaint. Pep was probably the most impressive as far as overcoming fears. At first he didn't even want to get in the water. That progressed to him playing in water only if he could touch the bottom easily but little by little he transformed in to a full on swimmer (with a life jacket of course) All in all we pretty much just had a blast.

Wisconsin is really beautiful too. Especially with the leaves changing. And their cheese and maple syrup really is as good as they say it is.  Plus they had this wicked awesome train restaurant that not only had a train deliver your food to you but it also had guy on a buffalo.... which is pretty much the coolest thing to ever happen.

and as always, you know a trip was a success when the ride home looks like this