Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Look Back at 2013 - MARCH


This year we set up a leprechaun trap and he left the kids some Starburst candies, Lucky Charms and gold coins!  We had homemade shepherd's pie and sparkling cider for dinner.  Iron man was Jaren's 'plus one' for the event. 

We went to Clinton to visit my grandparents for Easter this year.  It was the first time I got to see my cousin's sweet baby, Logan.  He wasn't very happy in the photo below!  Jaren sitting with great grandpa, showing him things on the iPad, the kids sitting on the front steps, my cousin's little family, G & G, and Jaren being goofy in the hotel room.

 Easter Sunday.  We went to church with Grandma and Grandpa and then the kids had an egg hunt in their back yard.  My mom is pictured with them on the bottom right.

Before we headed out of town, I wanted to visit my grandparents graves and make an arrangement for them.  It was the first time I'd been out there since my grandma died.


We attended our first Wartburg DM in Waverly.  It was quite a bit smaller than UNI's or UI's since it is a smaller campus, but the hearts and compassion of the students that volunteer is just the same.  They raised $30, 479.13!  We were only there for a bit, but the kids had fun dancing, playing with blocks, ping pong, having races and playing catch.  Eden sniffed out the mustaches, of course! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Look Back at 2013 - FEBRUARY Part 2

This was the first time we'd ever gone to California Adventure and we had so much fun.  The boys loved Cars Land, especially Phineas.  It was his VERY FIRST TIME going to any theme park.  He had a ball!  They were excited to see the cars driving through the streets to their photo op spots.

They saw the army men from Toy Story as well as Phineas and Ferb.  Goofy conducted the water orchestra and later did some swing dancing in the square.  Cousins Addison and Aubrey on one of the rides.

Jaren was conked out in the stroller so Ed and I walked around with him and Finn in A Bug's Life area.  Finn loved going on all of the rides.  He stayed on a few of them for multiple rides since there were no lines late at night.  Ed sporting some Mickey ears, Eden getting sassy with her light up Michael Jackson gloves and finally ending the evening in their bunk beds.

The kids had a blast at Storyteller's Cafe.  We ate breakfast while many characters walked around greeting the kids at each table.  I had to get a photo with Dale, who I love!  The bear came around and gathered the kids for a conga line and dance party in the lobby of the restaurant.  Such a cute place!

This was the Grand Californian Resort and Spa.  It was such a pretty place to stay.  They had story time near the fireplace and it was just really spacious, but cozy at the same time.  The bed in the corner is where I spent many hours as I had a touch of the flu while we were there.  Awesome.  It was cool because you could enter both theme parks from here and we got to enter the parks an hour before everyone else.  We stayed overnight... or maybe two nights.  Heck... I can't remember since it was over a year ago that we went!


The kids playing around after we ate breakfast, Finn was having fun driving the car, Eden and cousin Nat holding hands while walking (too cute) and Jared cringing... reminding us NOT to wipe your butt with white princess gloves on!!!

The kids with Aladdin and the Genie.

I had found some cute fabric to make the boys each a pirate head scarf/sash for their swords and the girls each a pirate head scarf.  I also added the girls names to their scarf with white crystals.  They turned out really cute!

Since this was Finn's first time at Disneyland... it was also his first time meeting Mickey Mouse!  Some fun snapshots around 'Mickey's Movie Barn'.  Ed sticking his finger in a butt crack.  We just can't help ourselves.  Our nieces, Addison, Natalie and Aubrey relaxing on Mickey's couch.

Sassy Eden and the boys in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.  It was the first time we ever walked through it as well.  The boys trying their hardest to pull the sword from the stone.  Ollie used to love that movie.  I have a similar photo of him trying to unearth it as well!

It was the first time we'd been to Mickey's Toontown during the day and actually got to really see it.  The kids had fun with the interactive parts of the buildings.

Ed and me outside the fairies garden.  I didn't realize that Ed was wearing his Iowa Hawkeyes pj's until later.  Oi.  Eden and her favorite fairies.  You'd have to ask her their names.  I only know Tinkerbell!  Finn was so cute when he was meeting all the characters!

Jaren the Jedi Master!  He was picked out of the audience to participate.  Oliver would have LOVED this.  I'm sure he was looking down smiling.  Jaren was fun to watch on stage, but was the first one they wanted to go up and he was scared, he didn't know what they wanted him to do.  They had him sit down and I saw that he was trying to tell them he wanted to go, but they must have thought he had already gone.  He had fun anyways!  I think the boys were in awe to see these guys in 'real life'!  

 Phineas on the plane ride home.  Thank heavens for iPads!

Our good friends live in DeKalb so we stopped there to see them for a few days on the way home.  The two photos on the left are to their neighborhood "Eden's Garden" and "Eden's Gate Dr.".  The upper right picture was from the hotel we stayed at the night before our flight.  We got a kick out of "Eden's room".  There was a local frozen custard shop that we had to stop at on our way out of town... "Ollie's Frozen Custard" and yes, it was delicious!

Our friends... Kael and Jaren, Eden-Kael-Jaren-Cullan, Phineas fell asleep with his ring pop stuck to his forehead, Jaren and Briea, Eden-Kael-Jaren, Jaren and Cullan.  For some reason I don't have a picture with little Ayla.  She was most likely making a mess somewhere!  *wink*  Her and Finn are the mess makers of our families!  I just realized Cullan was wearing his "Team Ollie" shirt that day!  Our friends have since moved to North Carolina and we miss them terribly.  A short trip to DeKalb was only about 4 1/2 - 5 hours for us.  We were happy to have been able to make memories with them and look forward to some beach trips in the future!


While the weather was rainy at times on our trip it was pretty sweet for the most part.  This craziness was what we came back to!  It was nice to have a trip to plan and look forward to during one of the most difficult times of the year.  Thank you to Jared, who always opens his home to us when we go to California, and the Gillespies who do the same!  We love you guys!

A Look Back at 2013 - FEBRUARY Part 1

FEBRUARY - Jaren lost a tooth, we took a trip to California to visit Ed's brother and honor Oliver over his 1st Angelversary, stopped by to stay with our good friends in DeKalb, Illinois and went to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.  A VERY packed February.

A candle wax Ollie heart.

Ed took all the kids down as I just was too depressed to go.  I watched the family introductions online and heard them read all the children's names that have passed.  I just cried and cried.  My mom and I went down the next morning and spent the rest of the day there.  Rachel was our family rep. and she was so sweet.  She danced with Eden as my heart just wasn't in it.  It was the first DM that we'd gone to since Oliver's death and it just wasn't the same.  The joy of the event was gone.  They had a Dancing in Our Hearts luncheon for the families that have lost a child to cancer.  It was difficult to hear everyone's story.  The kids also met Sam, whose brother, Ben had passed 10 years earlier.  He was a sweet 13 year old that the boys clung to.  He reminded me a lot of Oliver.  It was hard to see Oliver's name on the quilt.  Just unreal really.  I'm glad we went, but it's a lot more difficult to be there now.  We are truly grateful for all that these students do in order to raise money and support the families and children that have to deal with cancer.  They have such big hearts.  We will ALWAYS be grateful for them.

We planned a trip to California to see one of Ed's older brothers over Oliver's first angelversary -- the anniversary of his death.  It was nice to actually have something to look forward to rather than dread.  We planned some things to honor him as well as some fun family outings.  I'm so glad that we went.  It was nice to keep busy and continue to make memories.  I KNOW that is what he would want us to do.

Some randoms from our trip - Finn on the bed in the hotel before our flight to CA - Ed's brother's dogs - Phineas on a pink scooter - the boys on the balcony of the hotel we stayed in on the beach - Eden with Jared's dog, Chloe - Eden and Finn in a near empty airport - Ed, Eden and cousin Aubrey with their sweet mustache hats.

Valentine's day celebrations.  The girls were at their mom's on Valentine's day so Jared and our family went to Mimi's Cafe on the actual holiday.  We got a little crazy with the chocolate syrup!  Jaren was pooped and conked out on the floor.  Good thing the restaurant was pretty barren.  The center picture is our Valentine's family candlelit dinner with Jared and the girls.  It is a tradition that we have always done since Ollie and Eden were little and just because we weren't home doesn't mean we don't do it!  It was nice to spend it with them this year.

Sunrise and sunset.  We splurged and stayed the night of Ollie's one year angelversary on the beach in the Hilton.  We had a corner room with a beautiful view of the beach and the pool.  I set my alarm so I could see the sun rise (lower left corner) as it is something I rarely see when looking over the ocean.  So beautiful.  I'm a sucker for nature's beauty.  I secretly wish I lived near a beach.  I'm sure it will never happen though.  It's a treat to get to visit them every so often.

I wanted to go to the beach and send up some lanterns to Ollie on his day.  We went near sunset and got some beautiful pictures.  Eden and Aubrey wrote Oliver's name really big in the sand.  It was Finn's very first time at the beach.  I wish we would have gotten there sooner, but it was fun to have the beach to ourselves for a bit.  We forgot the lanterns in the hotel room and ventured back only to realize that the gates to the beach were locked!  We had to pull a picnic table over and hoist ourselves over the tall chain link fence.  I about biffed it.  I could just imagine Oliver laughing at the sight.  We then got the lanterns and drove up the beach to a campground and found a staircase leading down to the beach.  We stopped about halfway up and let Eden, Jaren and Finn send up lantern and then Ed and I tried... yes... tried.  Mine went up without a hitch, but Ed's wasn't filled with enough air so down it went.  It fell onto some dry shrubs on the bluff overlooking the beach.  We panicked as we imagined the beach going up in flames!  I took my shoe off in a frenzy and threw it down toward the lantern trying to dislodge it before it started the brush on fire.  One of the guys went down and climbed up to rescue it and sent it on its way.  I wanted a nice way to honor Oliver and everything just went awry, however it was the perfect way to honor him as I'm sure he loved all the crazy hijinks that came along the way!  I could seriously just imagine him either laughing or rolling his eyes... probably a little of both! 

After the craziness on the beach, we went back and ate at the hotel restaurant.  It was so good!  We got a bunch of appetizers to sample and I had to take a picture of the beautiful desserts we ordered.  I didn't want to eat it and destroy the masterpiece!  Jaren was conked out under the table of the restaurant and then on the lobby sofa.  That kid can sleep anywhere!  It was a good day.  It was nice to do something for him that we wouldn't normally do.

The following day we went to Tamarack beach in Carlsbad, CA.  I think that is where it was located.  We've been to this beach before in 2007 when Oliver and Eden saw the ocean for the first time.  We got family pictures there again in the same spot.  It was Phineas' first time at the ocean this time.  We made messages in bottles with Oliver's picture inside and each kid got to throw one into the ocean.  I wonder if anyone found them.  I would have liked to have spent more time at the beach this trip.

More photos from the hour we spent at the beach.  The kids are all pointing up to Oliver in the bottom photo.  I could have spent all day there, but we were going to Disneyland that afternoon as well so we had to cut it short.  It was such a beautiful day.

 2007 -- the kids' first trip to the ocean.  It was in the 50's that day, but they swam anyways!  So grateful for our memories!