Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Darin's family came to town...

...we had a TON of fun. Seriously, we never stopped moving : ) A week and a half after getting home from seeing my family in Washington, we were privileged to have the Fey, Moss and Van De Berg families come to spend a few days with us in Hudsonville. This was the first time that the whole gang (minus Evan and Jordan, so I can't really say the WHOLE gang) has been up here at the same time.
Okay, I guess we did stop moving for a little while

Darin's parents got in first, around noon on Tuesday. They were just in time to watch Tyson while I took Jori to her preschool doctors appointment. 3 shots and many tears later, we arrived home to greet Darin's sister Daci, Justin, Brooklynn, Makenna and Zachary. A few hours after that, LaShawn, Kyle, Kaden and Neveah showed up. The kids had fun getting reacquainted and the adults enjoyed chatting and keeping track of 9 kids! Then, we headed off to celebrate my birthday (July 20 in case you missed it) at Pizza Ranch and headed to the hotel where the girls were staying so the kids could go swimming.
Jori opening her new Leapster Game-PetPals!
Tyson with his new Legos!
Wednesday came and we tossed around a few ideas, but finally decided that the women should go shopping and the guys (minus Darin who was working) should watch the kids. So we headed off to Rivertown, found a few good deals, had lunch with Rachel, Jenna and Becka, then raced home so the guys could go fishing on Lake Michigan. After they left, it was decided that we should take all 9 kids to the outlet mall in Holland. Daci and I shopped first for about 45 minutes, then after having our fun, we had to keep 9 kids entertained while Karen and LaShawn shopped. I preferred my shopping time to my kid watching time : ) We did bring plenty of hamburger buns along so the kids could feed the ducks in the pond. They had fun, we all found a few new things, and then we headed home to either put kids to bed (that would be me) or let the kids swim (the rest of the fam). The guys finally made it home after 11. Other than a little seasickness for Darin and Rick, they seemed to have had a great time.
The kids hanging out on the bridge at the outlet mall

The guys and their salmon
Thursday morning all the women and girls headed to Kalamazoo for a bridal shower for Darin's cousin Nicole. It was fun to see some other family members that had come out for the wedding and the girls were able to swim at Nicole's parents too. Then we headed home and drove right into a torrential downpour. We were home for about an hour, then we decided to head out again to the Grand Rapids Children's museum for family night. The kids all had so much fun. The girls found a little craft area, where they glued to their hearts content, there was a Curious George exhibit, which almost all the kids thought was cool, and then there was the post office, bank and grocery area. If you live in GR and have never gone to family night, you totally should. It was only $1.50 a person and was totally worth it.
Curious George!
Jori with her groceries
Mail Men!
Friday came and Darin had the day off work. In the morning, he and some of the fam headed off to Holland to run a few errands. The rest of us went to the hotel so the kids could swim for a while. Then we came back here and had lunch, during which time most people decided to go to the beach. I had a mini breakdown/hissy fit and went to my friend Rachel's house and Darin took the kids to Playworld for a could hours of bounce house and sliding fun. Then I got over myself, and came back home to help Karen and my dear husband make dinner. We had the salmon that the guys caught, fresh beans from Huisman's garden, cucumbers from the Leenstra's and some other tasty treats as well. It was a huge meal that was very much enjoyed after the rest of the fam came home from their very enjoyable time at the beach. Friday night, we got a babysitter for our kids and then headed over to the hotel so all the grown ups could hang out and play games. Other than being extremely hot in the little lobby area, we had a wonderful time.

Saturday came and there were a few more errands to be run, some pizza and swimming, and then it was time to get ready for the wedding! We all got prettied up, then headed to my alma mater, Calvin College, to see David and Nicole get hitched. It was a beautiful ceremony and seeing as we had 9 kids all sitting in close proximity, I'd say we didn't cause too much of a disturbance! After the wedding, we headed to the reception where all the kids ran wild in the hallway. We talked to some more family, then around 8, LaShawn and her crew decided to head for home. Around 9, we decided it was time for our kids to go to bed, and Daci and her family came back with us. They ended up heading for home sometime in the middle of the night. Darin's parents came home sometime after 10 and we all headed to bed.
Swimming fun

Sunday came and we said good-bye to Darin's parents, Israel and Rosa, then we headed to church. I think it was easier saying goodbye because we are planning to head to Edgerton sometime this fall or winter. The kids LOVED seeing all of their cousins. Jori loved playing dress up, and Tyson loved having some boys around to play guns and teach him how to build stuff with his new Lego's!

Thanks for coming everyone! Sorry it took me so long to get this posted!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge

On Thursday morning, we left Puyallup and headed for Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound.

We decided to take family pictures right away while we were all dressed and dry. It was kind of a bust. The kids wanted to swim, the room was too dark, the grown ups were getting cranky...

Here is one of Papa and Gram and the grandkids.

Grandma Karen had mailed Birthday cards to Grandma Willie's house in Washington. The kids were excited to open such a special surprise!
There was so much to do and see in the water park. Our kids were so excited to be able to do so many fun things, like the wave pool. They LOVED the huge waves and I think Jori swallowed half the pool because she had her mouth open smiling and laughing the whole time. There was one "incident" in the wave pool. Gram was in charge of the kids so Darin and I could go on some of the big water slides with the rest of the adults and cousins. We are almost to the front of the line, way up the stairs, when we see the kids leading my mom to the wave pool. Now, my mom is not a huge swimmer, so she just sends the kids in (with their floaties) and she is standing in the very shallow part. We are up high watching as Tyson and Jori head out for the deep end and Gram just stands there watching. I said to Darin "I don't think she knows it's a wave pool". Nope, she didn't. You should have seen her when the waves started up. She was on the side lines pointing our her precious grandkids to a life guard. I am way up at the top of this water slide telling Darin "Our kids could be drowning out there, just swallowing water and no one would know". It was like a little bit funny, but I also was getting that feeling like "GET ME TO MY KIDS!", but we were about to get in the tube and fighting my way through the others in line didn't seem like the best plan, so I took the tube down. As soon as we got to the bottom, I booked it to the wave pool. My kids were standing there with a staff person. I got a little lecture about needing to watch my kids and I was like "See that lady right there? She WAS watching my kids, but didn't know this was a wave pool". Oh Gram!!

Where Jori spent most of her time
Our swimmers in the BEST floaties ever!

My very persuasive sister in law, SooHee managed to get my mom to go on one of the big slides. There was a 5 person tube, so me, SooHee, Laurie, Kristi and my mom made the long climb up the stairs. Oh my, even getting my mom up there was funny. Then we are sitting in the tube and she is like "I don't want to do this!!" and then we take off. I almost peed my pants. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen and I mean that with all the love and respect I have for my sweet mama, but it was just the best! I think it might have been my favorite vacation moment-just the girls, seeing everyone laughing so hard, and the look on my mom's face! Priceless.

We let the kids swim til almost 7. They were loving the hot tub that had a tunnel that led from inside to the outdoors. Tyson was able to go on all but one of the water slides, so he had a great time with that. We finally decided to go up and get pizza, and after we got our kids to bed we spent some time telling family stories in my sisters room. It was just such a great day.

3 of my handsome nephews-Caden, Gage and Cameron
My mom and my beautiful sister in law
Uncle Josh
The 2 princesses, Kelsey and Jori
Jori doing the back float

Tyson on the lilypads

The next day Darin drove off to a grocery store and got donuts and fruit for breakfast. Then it was back into the water for a few hours. We left the kids with my sisters and headed up to clean up and pack around 11. Then it was time to say good-bye to everyone. That is my least favorite part of vacation. The only thing that made it a little less painful is that we are planning to go out that way this Christmas!!

At 1 we finally drove off. My parents took us to a car rental place, where we found out that instead of a compact car, we would be taking a 12 passenger van on the 6 hour drive to Spokane (long story and a change of plans). The drive was actually not that bad, and with so much space we could easily split our kids up and keep them from fighting with each other!

After we arrived in Spokane we had dinner, found our hotel, then Darin left to meet up with a friend he hasn't seen since college. The next morning we flew out of the super friendly Spokane airport. We had over a 4 hour layover in Minneapolis, so we took the train to the Mall of America. Our kids had a great time playing at the Lego store. We finally made it home around 1:30 and the kids and I slept til 10 the next morning.

It was a fantastic vacation and I am so glad we could spend so much time with my family and that the kids got to know their cousins and Aunties and Uncles better. We miss them all!!

Puyallup, Washington

On Sunday we went to my parents church in the morning and played games all afternoon. I think there was some packing as well. On Monday morning, Darin, Josh, Danny and SooHee left for a Poker Tournament. Around 1 the rest of us left for Puyallup, where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. Our hotel was super. Seriously, when you are staying somewhere with such a big group, it is nice to be in a place where you don't feel like you are being an annoyance.

We got to the hotel right around 3 and checked in. The kids wanted to go right to the pool, so that is what we did. An hour or so later, the Molan's finally arrived! It has been 3 years since my kids have seen any of Laurie's family and close to 2 years since they've seen Kristi's family, so it was wonderful to all be together again. Everyone swam for a while, then we got dinner, swam some more, put kids to bed, tried to play games, talked and went to be ourselves.

Tuesday we were up bright and early so we could head to Wild Waves and Enchanted Village. This was a combo water park/amusement park. Tyson was SO excited to be tall enough to go on almost all the rides. Poor Jori was just a little too short, but we still found plenty for her to go on. We hung out in the amusement park first. Tyson went on a roller coaster that had upside down loop-de-loops! He loved it. If I ever get pictures from my parents, I will add them because my dad was daring enough to take pictures while we were going upside down. Jori was starting to get pouty because she kept having to wait for the big people to go on rides. The kiddie stuff didn't open up right away, but once it did, she made sure she told us all about the fun stuff only SHE got to do.

After running out for lunch, we came back and enjoyed the water park. Well, most of us enjoyed it. My poor brother Josh has terrible allergies and he could hardly stand being outside. He finally left and went to the mall until we were ready to go back to the hotel. Again, Tyson was big enough to go on most things, so he was loving it. There was a nice kiddie area and the cousins were pretty good about staying with Jori so she wasn't totally alone. At one point Kelsey came and told me Jori had to be pulled out by a life guard and I was like "where, the water is not even 6 inches deep here". Well I probably should have checked out the whole kiddie area, because I didn't realize the kids had access to water slides that ended up in a pool of water that was 4 feet deep. Live and learn. Sissy kept her floatie on after that! We did find one "grown up" water slide that Jori was tall enough to go on. We had to wait in one line to get a tube, then climb up a bunch of stairs for a ride that wasn't even that thrilling. We decided to only do that once as it was NOT worth the wait!

After playing for several hours, we decided to dry off and go back to the amusement park. Tyson really wanted to go on the big roller coaster again and Jori wanted to see what other rides there were for her. Sadly, I have NO pictures of our whole day. I didn't want the hassle of a camera, but now I have nothing until some of my family members get on the ball and send them to me : )

You'd think after swimming all day the kids would be done with water, but no. After dinner they were back in the pool at our hotel. Then Jori watched some "Hannah Matana (Montana)", which she thought was SO SO SO cool and Tyson hung out with the big boys.

Wednesday we all just kind of hung out. The pool was the place to be. We had thought about going to see Toy Story 3 or do some other activity, but we were all ready to chill. We went to Applebees for dinner that night, swam, played games and that was that. Or maybe there was something more and I just waited too long to blog about it and can't remember because I didn't take any pictures!

Coming up next: Great Wolf Lodge!


Although the 4th of July was on Sunday this year we decided to celebrate on Saturday night. Here are some pictures of our night:

Tyson and Gage with sparklers

Jori and Uncle Danny watching a worm grow
Still watching
Watching something exciting happen, I am sure!

Our kids were excited about the fireworks...until we started lighting them. If you look at the picture above, you can see how Tyson spent much of the night. (and yes, I am aware that his pj's are a little snug. I happen to like them, so there is no need to point it out to me!)

Here are some videos as well. They almost all have Tyson covering his ears or backing away in anticipation of what is to come. Poor kid.

This one is my favorite.

The worm

More ear covering

God Bless the USA.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pebble or Pebbles, we love you the same!

Late, late on Friday night, Darin, my dad and Josh arrived in Lynden. My sister Kristi and her boys had arrived on Wednesday night and Danny and SooHee came all the way from Korea on Saturday morning. We didn't get to see the Molans until Monday afternoon. However, while my children loved seeing their dad, Papa and numerous Aunts, Uncles and cousins, no one and no thing could compare to Pebbles, er, Pebble the dog.

Part rottweiler, part black lab, all love
My kids had first met Pebble (that is her real name, but Pebbles just rolls off the tongue) at Uncle Josh's house, which he so graciously took us too the day we flew in. There he fed me homemade spaghetti and let my kids eat his last two yogurts. They really were not that interested in eating because they were IN LOVE with Pebble.

Just look at her. I am not a dog person and even I was won over!
So calm and so patient (and as Darin kept reminding me, still a rottweiler that could snap at any moment).
Sweet Tyson spent every waking minute with Pebble and Pebble even laid by him for a few minutes one night at bedtime. Pebble went on a lot of walks and played a lot of ball too.If I could have flown Pebble home with us, I would have. I am sure Tyson would have approved.

Tea Party in Washington

Seeing as we were gone for just under 2 weeks, I've decided to write some smaller posts to tell (and show) all the fun things we did! One special thing that my mom had planned was a little tea party for Jori with some of the girls from her church.

Jori, Addie, Tabby and Kayleigh

A whole row of silly 4 (or almost 4) year olds!
Grandma Willie pouring the tea

We weren't sure if the girls would drink the tea, but once we let them add their own sugar, it was a real hit!

After drinking their tea, the girls headed to the basement for a little dance party. Jori was rocking out in her new outfit from Greece that Pop and Gram brought back for her.
Thanks Gram! I love you, you, you!

Our Trip to Washington-2010

On June 27th, we started our trip to Washington. First stop, the Grand Rapids airport to see Papa John! Yes, on the same day we flew out to Washington, my dad flew in to GR. We were so happy to spend a couple hours with him at the airport before we took off.

A little after 1, Tyson, Jori and I got on the plane and took off. It was not the worst flight I've ever had, and it was not the best. I did learn that letting kids drink pop on a flight will cause their trips to the bathroom to go from excessive to extremely annoying in a very short amount of time. After arriving in WA, I learned that nothing can make a bad flight become a distant memory like seeing your mom pop out of the side door of a van when you are not expecting her to be there! Hooray for Grandma Willie and thank you to Uncle Josh for helping pull off such a fun surprise.

We spent the first few days in Lynden just hanging out. It was not the most pleasant weather, especially coming from the hot hot Midwest where we've been playing outside all day. We did manage a trip to Million Smiles Park, Edaleens ice cream, the lovely Lynden Library and a very fun trip up to Canada to go swimming! Hot tubs, water slides and diving boards, oh my! Throw in a rope swing and you are all set to have a great time, which we did. The kids loved swimming, Tyson loved being able to go on the water slide by himself (while Jori was a bit put out that she was too small to go on it at all), Gram and I enjoyed watching the kids "dive" off the diving board and we all had a great time in the kids hot tub.

Sadly I have no pictures of our first few days in Lynden. Let's just say I was settling in... read on for more!