Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend Recap

All of the kiddos
This Easter we decided to host an egg hunt with several of our friends and their children.  Everyone brought a dozen stuffed eggs to hide, and then we let the kids loose in our backyard.  Two of the older kids (Lily and Landon) helped me hide the eggs, and then we allowed the other 11 kids to hunt in the yard.  Steve was worried they would push each other down the stairs at the beginning, so we made everyone come down the steps before they actually started.  With over 150 eggs hidden, I was shocked to have the entire race over in less than 5 minutes!

And they are off!
The kids were racing all over the yard, comparing eggs and eating some of the goods along the way.  When things started to slow down, the "hiders" started walking around helping them find the harder ones.  Once all of the eggs were gathered, they all convened to barter and show off their goods.  Shortly thereafter the kids ate dinner, and the adults continued to hang out while nibbling on appetizers.  It was a successful first (soon to be annual) egg hunt!

Racing to find the "Golden Egg"

Enjoying their popcorn, refusing to open their eyes for me!

After a late night with friends, we continued the Easter traditions and dyed eggs with the kids Saturday morning.  Each child had a dozen, and we had everything ready for them to work.  They started off with plain, solid eggs, but advanced to two-tone ones, and tie-dye eggs (made by using a little olive oil in the dye).  The kids had a blast, and it took about an hour to complete (SCORE)!

Pres showing off a tye-dye egg
After a busy afternoon of birthday parties, we met up with Brian and Shannon for a tasty dinner and a little fun at their house.  It has been way too long since we had all gotten together, so everyone had a blast together.
The 5 Banta grandkids
On Easter morning, we finished up our long holiday weekend by having a lazy morning, and then heading to church to celebrate the day Jesus rose!  Though it had been a rainy night and early morning, the rain stopped by late morning so we could continue the tradition of placing a flower on the cross and getting our photo taken.  Afterward, we gorged ourselves with all of Steve's family at his parent's house.  What a fantastic weekend with our friends and family!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break-Rosemary Beach

Caroline, B & Pres on the beach
This year is dedicated to trying new things, and one of those is staying somewhere differently when we visit the beach.  Therefore, we decided to book all three of our beach trips on the Rosemary Beach side of 30A.  Though Spring Break is always a hit or miss weather-wise, we decided to risk it and go for the week.  Several of our friends were going down too, so at least we would have built in entertainment.  We found a great 3 bedroom condo, and booked it with the Criggers.

We left bright and early on Saturday, and arrived just after noon.  We quickly unpacked and headed straight to the beach to enjoy the beautiful day.  The ocean was a frigid 60 degrees, so we didn't expect anyone to get in, but the kids all frolicked in the surf.  However, after several hours, the kids were anxious to try out the heated pool.

That night Steve and I cooked dinner for everyone (17 people).  The kids had fun playing together, and we had fun planning the week!

The following day was my favorite holiday: St Patrick's Day!  We all awoke bright and early, but Pres and I decided to go for an early morning bike ride to the donut truck to get breakfast for everyone!  After breakfast, Steve and Pres played a little baseball in the cul-de-sac.  Since he has started t-ball, he has really enjoyed learning the sport.  Therefore, this ended up being a fun activity that he and his daddy did on this trip.

We enjoyed the day in style, and ended it with all of the kids at the Sugar Shak (an overpriced candy/ice cream store in Rosemary Beach that is  MUST DO for every kid and teenager).  It was absolute heaven for my two sweet tooths!
St Patty's Day!

Our Sugar Shak Sweeties!

William burying Pres
Queen B
Our pumpkins cuddling to stay warm

Carson, P, Mary Ellis, B and Caroline at Alys Beach

After a couple of days we had created our routine: get up and enjoy our coffee, do a quick work-out, go on a bike ride with the kids (which sometimes included a lesson with B on two wheels), stop off at Alys Beach playground so the kids can burn off energy while the temperatures got warmer, and then head to the beach and/or pool.  However, mid week we decided to switch it up a little.  That morning, we rode bikes to Alys Beach and did the nature trail with the kids.  Shanon had the bright idea of having a scavenger hunt, so all of the kids actually enjoyed the walk since they were so busy looking for items!  It was sunny and warm on the walk, but by the time we got back to our villa it started getting cloudy and cool, and we were all hungry.  We decided this would be the perfect day to drive to Panama City Beach's Dusty's for some of the best food I had that week!  Pres fell asleep on the way, and continued to sleep while I held him for the first hour and a half.  I finally woke him up when my food arrived.  The girls did great, coloring and playing on their itouches.  Shockingly, we were able to really enjoy ourselves for several hours with no unhappy children.   
When we got back, the kids were itching to go swimming, so the guys took them to the pool while Christie and I started getting ready for our only night out without children.  We had several Homewood Middle School students babysit the kiddos so we could dine at V in Seagrove.  After a delish dinner AND dessert, we came back to our villa so we could release the girls.  We all hung out a couple more hours, chit-chatting and telling stories.  It ended up being our latest night by a long stretch!

The last couple of days were spent doing more of the same!  Except for Thursday, where we finally managed to make it a beach afternoon and watch the sunset.  We played in the sand and surf all afternoon, and then went home for warmer clothes so we could watch the sunset and play wiffle ball on the beach.  It was such a fun day!

Kids at Alys Beach playground

Pres hanging out in his tunnel
Sunsets at the beach are the best!
On our last day there, we treated the kids to the donut truck for the third time.  After playing some at the playground, the girls broke off to get a jump start on packing, and boys went for another bike ride.  By midday, it was still a cool day due to the wind. We ultimately decided to not even put bathing suits on, and instead opted for play clothes so the kids could be comfortable, yet warm while on the beach.  We built more castles, listened to fun music and just hung out all together.

All of the girls!
Pres representing Homewood!

All and all, it was another wonderful beach trip with another set of great memories!  We are already looking forward to our next visit!

Friday, March 15, 2013

And They Are Off to the Zoo!

This morning I accompanied Bennett on a field trip to the zoo with the rest of the kindergarten classes.  Though it was sunny, it started off as a VERY chilly day.  We didn't expect it to be as cold as it was, so we sought refuge in the various animal buildings.  Bennett and I were paired with Katharine, and the girls were asked to find various items for their scavenger hunt.

When we broke for lunch, the day was just starting to get warmer.  So we had a picnic with the rest of the class, and then went back in to see what else we could squeeze in before the bus left.

Henley, B, Caroline and Katharine
B & Kat checking out the new dino exhibit
They loved getting frightened by the hiding dinos
At the petting zoo
We're monkeys!
Attempt #4 of class photo
Though I have visited the zoo a hundred times, it was a special time hanging with just Bennett, and watching her interact with her classmates.  It is hard to believe my little girl is almost 6 years old and out of kindergarten (sniff, sniff).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Debut of T-Ball!

The day finally came when Preston had his first practice and t-ball game!  We went shopping earlier in the week to buy his pants, belt and practice t-shirt.  He was SO excited about the belt!  In fact, Thursday morning (at 5:45), he woke me up.  He was already in his baseball pants, but couldn't reach his belt which he insisted on wearing!  Funny kid....

Anyway, when Saturday morning came, he was very excited to wear his uniform!  However, as we were driving to the ballfields, he said "But I don't know how to play t-ball."  We all laughed and told him he will learn.  We hadn't practiced with him at all, so he knew nothing!  Thankfully the coach started out with them running the bases so they at least knew where they were supposed to go.  Then we did a little hitting, throwing and catching (which didn't go well for any of the kids).  After 30 minutes, they started a casual game with the orange team.

Listening to the coach for instruction
It didn't go far, but he made it to first base
Each child had a turn at bat, and Pres managed to connect both times (though neither went past the pitcher).  When they were in the outfield, every child was on the field (primarily the in-field).  Initially, the coach was standing at first and the other fathers were in the dugout with the kids, but it quickly became apparent that more hands were needed in the field.  Kids were staring into the sky, playing in the dirt and overall just afraid of the ball and unsure of they needed some positive reinforcement. 

The game was hilarious!  All of the kids were so cute in their uniforms, and everyone made at least one error.  When Pres was up to bat for the second time, he carried the bat with him all the way to first base (that was a common one with the kids).  There was one kid on the other team who hit the ball, ran up and got it (before anyone on our team could), then threw it to first base and got himself out!  It was so much worse than the bad news bears....just comical!

Getting some help from Daddy
However, all of the kids had a blast!  Pres has several friends on the team, so that always makes it better.  In fact, after the game the coach offered to stay and practice with whoever wanted to stay.  It ended up only being the coach's son, Pres and his two buddies.  They each hit the ball 20 times in a row and then fielded the balls when they weren't at bat.

Following the game, Steve bought Pres a good tee, 10 balls and a glove for himself so they could practice in the yard.  I was happy he did it because he worked with Preston for an hour this morning!  Hopefully Pres will really grow to enjoy it, and will improve drastically over the next couple of months.  They are off for two weeks due to Spring Break, but then we are back at it until school ends.

Mimi and Papa came to watch his first game!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Good-bye Cricket

Now that the warmer weather is here (hopefully to stay), I finally convinced the kids to let the lizard go!  Everyone has lost interest in him, and I was the only one taking care of him, and I didn't want him in the first place.

Both kids wanted to hold him before we released him, and surprisingly Bennett was the brave one.  She reached right in and tried to grab him.  The little guy was so fast though, so Steve had to catch him initially.
Passing "Cricket"

Releasing him in our Japanese maple tree in our backyard
Cricket was so happy soaking in the sun and fresh air!

Though the kids were a little sad to see him go, we all know he is much happier, and will do better in his natural habitat.  It is also nice to know that he is living in our backyard somewhere.  Good-bye buddy! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Preston's Derby Race

Every year the three year old class at Preston's school does a Derby Day where the daddy is supposed to create a "race car" for their child. After discussing options with Pres, he decided on Lightening McQueen. He is the star of the movie "Cars," and Pres just loves all of those movies!

The school provides a page with a couple of photos on how to make it easy for the kids to run while carrying a box.  We didn't adhere to it that much when we made Bennett's car a couple of years ago, and she did have a few problems.  So we definitely stuck to their suggestions of using a computer paper box this time.  Steve brought a couple of empty ones home from work, and then brainstormed about how he wanted to make it.  Pres and I were in charge of buying some spray paint.  Since cardboard absorbs so much paint, we bought primer this time...which made the red paint that Pres chose look MUCH better.

A couple of days passed, but then Steve came home with tons of colorful pages that he printed.  He began cutting them out, and I realized that they were exact replicas of Lightening McQueen's decals.  After gluing them on, the car was really taking shape.  Steve said it needed the spoiler too, so he cut out some more cardboard and shaped it up before attaching.  When he finally finished, we were all thrilled!  It was just darling, and fit Pres perfectly.

Race day was a success, as Pres was ready to run "super fast" and really only competed with one friend in his class.  The other kids either didn't have any interest in winning, or couldn't because their cars were too big, so there wasn't much competition.  Pres and his buddy, Banks, were side by side racing the whole time....just smiling.

Look at that cute boy and car!

Pres with Ms Ginny
Pres and his proud Daddy
Pres and Banks
I hate that Steve had to work so hard to make the car, all for a 2 minute race.  But it made Preston happy, and the car received a lot of compliments!