Fun with Friends

Adventures in Fatherhood, Part 4

My adventure was done two weeks ago, and just now I’m posting details of the final day. That’s how it goes.

It was a beautiful day. The kids were up in plenty of time for me to get them dressed and fed before Eliana had to go to preschool. Jonas refused to sit in his chair at the kitchen table, but he did okay sitting in my lap.

Aunt Sue came over and watched Jonas for the morning. She also brought lunch for all of us, which was much appreciated. We made it to preschool with time to spare, so Eliana and I walked around, looked at the fishies in the fish tank, and had exploring-type fun for a few minutes until the teacher arrived.

I headed over to the company fitness center, right next to the child care center, for a few miles on the treadmill. In hindsight, I could have run outside on the available trails, but I didn’t think of it until I was done. In any case, I managed to go running all four days during which Jenelle was in Mexico. Yay.

My original post-run plan was to go to Panera for a bagel before grocery shopping. I simplified things a bit by going straight to Pick N Save and buying just a muffin. I sat on the bench outside the store, ate the muffin, and then went back in for more groceries. Yeah, that worked. And I probably saved a little money, too. 🙂

For whatever reason, Eliana was very happy to see me after preschool. I don’t think she had a lousy time at preschool — she really enjoys it — but I got quite a big hug when I arrived to pick her up.

Back home, Jonas was also happy to see me. He was crying when I left. Aunt Sue said that he was pretty tired, so as soon as Sue left, I quickly got Eliana set up with some lunch and a TV show before heading upstairs to put Jonas to bed. Sue gave him most of the bottle, so I gave him just a few more ounces in the hopes that would speed along the process.

Jonas did not want to sleep. Despite calming him down and laying him gently in his crib, he popped back up, and he cried / screamed for 20-30 minutes before I went back up and got him, made one more try, and had no success. Eliana had been patiently waiting for me to take her outside, so I decided that Jonas would be coming along. One nice thing is that I was able to eat lunch while Jonas was upstairs sleeping.

I am writing this next sentence specifically for Jenelle. I let the kids play in the dirt and get all messy. I tend to hover and be a lot more hands-on when I am watching the kids outside, attempting to minimize any potential injuries / spills / post-playtime clean-up needs. Jenelle would probably just open the back patio door and let them do whatever while she attended to important housework. I actually like that we are very different in our approaches, as we can learn from each other.

Playing in the dirt

Playing in the dirt

We got another playhouse recently, because our neighbors three doors down put it on the curb. Yay for free stuff. Now there’s no hurry to get the other one up from the basement.

Eliana in the new playhouse

Eliana in the new playhouse

Jonas loving it outside

Jonas loving it outside

After approximately an hour of outdoor fun, we headed back in and got cleaned up. I also tidied up the house as best I could, because I had company coming that evening in the form of our small group Bible study. While we took it easy in the late afternoon, nobody got any naps. The kids were still pretty happy, though I could tell Jonas was fussier than usual.

Next up, a trip to Papa Murphy’s to pick up pizzas for the group. It’s only a five-minute drive, so I had no concerns about anyone falling asleep on the way. The pizzas were ready when we arrived. I set the kids down, paid for them, and was about to head out, but then I noticed Eliana and Jonas sitting calmly on the bench, both super-smiley. Rather then rush them back to the car, I sat next to them. Jonas would occasionally stand on the bench and look out the windows. I was engaged in a conversation with Eliana, but I don’t recall what it was about. This moment of relaxation lasted so long that the store employees asked what I was waiting for. “Oh, nothing, just hanging out for a bit. Thanks, though.” We left a minute or two later, and I still had lots of time to get ready for the evening group gathering.

Relaxing at Papa Murphy's

Relaxing at Papa Murphy’s

Thanks to Jeni, who came a bit early to help watch the kids and do some other preparatory tasks before the cavalry arrived. I made one of the three pizzas so that the kids could have dinner ahead of time, and they also enjoyed the kettle corn that Jeni brought. Jonas still wouldn’t sit in his chair, but once again I managed.

With the house in good shape and plenty of adults to cover the kids, the meeting went very well. The two moments I remember the most:
1) Kristin successfully keeping Jonas away from me for a little while so that I could tend to the pizzas in the oven. He was especially clingy because of not having a nap, so this was not an easy task — thanks!
2) The arrival of Rich and Maryke. For whatever reason, Eliana does not like Rich. She was playing in the family room having a wonderful time when she suddenly scurried up to me and requested in a quiet voice, “Daddy, hold me.” She seemed really scared. I held her as I queried the group, “Did anyone see what happened?” The voice of Rich from the family room — “Uh, I think I can explain that” — made it clear. Eliana must have bolted once she caught a glimpse of Rich as he came in the front door. To Eliana’s credit, she did sit in my lap for a while later that evening while Rich was sitting ten feet away from me.

Putting the kids to bed was very easy, since they didn’t get any sleep earlier in the day. Everyone in the small group was gone by 9, and I had plenty of time to clean the house up before I left to pick up Jenelle at the airport. Thanks to my friend, Mark, for coming over late on Tuesday night just in case the kids woke up while I was gone. They didn’t.

I was ready for Jenelle just outside security at the Milwaukee airport. She had a huge smile on her face as she approached me. It reminded me of when we were dating, and I’d pick her up when she flew back from Oregon in late summer / early fall for her upcoming year at Northwestern.

We had to wait a while for our bags, but that gave us more time to chat and catch up. She had a wonderful time in Mexico, and I had a wonderful time with the kids.

So, that sums up my four-day adventure. I would be more than happy to have another adventure like this in the near future.

Purple Homecoming

We keep in touch with lots of people from our college years, but it’s rare that a bunch of us get together in person. NU’s homecoming was on October 22, so we spent some time in Evanston. It’s amazing how we’ve all grown up. It’s also amazing how many kids were present! I’ve posted several photos on Shutterfly from that day.

I also had a chance to stop by the Delta Chi house, where there’s still a few pictures of me and my friends on the walls. Ah, memories.

Serving as Senders

Last month, we went to Duncanville, Texas (just outside of Dallas) for a weekend to visit our friends, David and Amanda. They have a cute two year-old daughter named Adelaide. Eliana really enjoyed spending time with her.

Here’s some photos! Enjoy!

While our trip was pretty short, and the weather was quite warm, we did have lots of fun and get some important things done. David and Amanda are missionaries in transition with Pioneer Bible Translators, an organization working to get the Word of God into every language. If all goes well, David, Amanda, and Adelaide will be heading overseas next year.

Jenelle and I have a special role in their efforts. We serve as their forwarding agents, handling incoming funds and helping out with newsletters and a web site. While in Texas, David and I went to a PBT financial workshop to ensure we’re following all the procedures correctly.

If you are interested in partnering with David and Amanda, don’t hesitate to ask me for more details. Thanks!

Birthday Fun Times

I’m 33 years old. Wow, I’m getting up there.

Anyway, here are a couple of videos. The first is from our party last night, and the second is from earlier this afternoon. Enjoy!

Yay for Visitors

In the past four days, we’ve had lots of visits from family and friends.  The latest Eliana photo collection shows off most of them.  It is a joy for us to share our little blessing.

Liz, Randy, and Amanda dropped by on Thursday night.  On Friday, my parents brought dinner over, which was really nice.  I forgot to take pictures of them, but I remembered my camera when Nancy and Jerry came by a little bit later.  Jacob and Kristin, friends of ours from Kenosha Bible Church, dropped by on Saturday with their young children, Gabriel and Anneliese.  Lots of fun with kids of all sizes!  Sunday was also a blast with friends Nick & Sam, who bought and brought us lunch, followed by a visit from Uncle Nick, Aunt Lisa, and cousin Rachel.  While Rachel is only nine years old, she seemed much older when I watched her holding little Eliana.

To each of you who visited, and even those who just called or sent a card, we are truly thankful.

Though she is eating more, our baby girl is still so tiny — we’ll find out exactly how much she weighs tomorrow at our two-week check-up.  Everybody says, “They grow up so fast!”, so I better enjoy this time to the best of my ability.

Independence Eve Extravaganza

July 3rd Party Photos!

This year’s party was another success.

As usual, we had plenty of food, including an oreo-shaped cake with vanilla ice cream (see the photo album).

My friend, David, drove in from Ohio for the celebration.  I was thankful that he arrived a bit early because he helped me with some of the last-minute preparations. I’m also thankful for Pastor Rick, who pitched wiffle balls to all of the kids from the moment he arrived at the party until he and his family left that evening.

As usual, there were tons of kids in attendance, and we went though what seemed like hundreds of sparklers, which was the perfect kick-off to the fireworks extravaganza. As I lit off each item, the kids chanted, “Do it again, Uncle Ben!” as I got the next one ready.

The other highlight of this year’s party was the pre-meal prayer, during which I thanked God that Jenelle was pregnant, which caught most of the attendees by surprise.  I’ll have more on that in another post.  🙂

Cottage Adventures 2010

Go straight to the photo album.

It was another fun trip up north.  Jenelle and I made the drive up on the afternoon of Friday, June 25. Janet & Jamie joined us on Saturday.  We spent a few days enjoying the crisp air of the northwoods before returning home on Tuesday.  If you want to know everything we did, you’ll have to drive up to the family cottage in Arbor Vitae, WI and read the log book in the desk drawer. However, I’m happy to post my favorite memories here.

Kayaking — Jenelle and I didn’t have the energy to lug our kayak all the way up north, so we rented a pretty fancy one on Saturday afternoon.  We spent a couple of hours on the water, as it was a very nice day.  Thankfully, we didn’t get too tired.

Celebrating My Birthday — After Janet & Jamie arrived, we all went to Monical’s Pizza for dinner.  I ate plenty of pizza and breadsticks.  After a round of mini-golf at Kastle Rock (which is in need of groundskeeping and other maintenance), I had just enough room for some ice cream.  I enjoyed a double-scoop of “birthday cake”-flavored ice cream, which was chocolate with bits of cake batter flavoring in it.  It was a fun night, but I was completely STUFFED when I went to sleep.

Freedom 5K — For the third year in a row, I ran the Freedom 5K in St. Germain.  I posted a short recap in the running log.  The race was on Sunday morning.  Thankfully, all the food from the night before didn’t slow me down.

Mike & Gail’s Cabin — For the first time, we visited Uncle Mike and Aunt Gail’s cabin in Mercer. They made lunch for us and took us out on a pontoon boat tour of Long Lake.  It was another beautiful day, so it was great to spend it with both family and friends.

St. Germain Fireworks — We ventured back to St. Germain in the evening for an amazing fireworks display.  Just like last year, we had great seats.

That about sums things up.  We look forward to another trip next year, when we’ll hopefully bring even more friends with us.

Party Hearty

Four weeks ago today (my goodness, has it been that long?) was our annual Independence Day party. We always invite a bunch of friends and family for a cookout, fireworks, and general outdoor fun. Did I forget to invite you this year? My apologies — e-mail me, and I’ll make sure you’re on the list for 2010!

This year’s party was another great one. The thing that I will remember most is the large number of kids in attendance. Thankfully, we had lots of things for them to do. Jenelle has three bins full of her old toys in the basement. We also have a set of bases, about ten wiffle balls, and a big red plastic bat. We have a firepit that we used to help the kids (and adults) make s’mores. And when Jenelle told the kids that there’s a frog (or is it a toad?) that hangs around our yard, the kids were following her all over. It was pretty cute.

We STILL have tons of beverages left over. This year, we had about 50 alcoholic beverages, and approximately 7 of those were consumed at the party. The same goes for soda. We obviously overbought. Jenelle and I are not big drinkers, so I think we’re covered until the end of the year. 🙂

The cutest kid pictures are below, and here’s the full photo album.

Adventures Up North, Part 2

From June 26-30, we ventured north to the family cottage for the second time in a month! This time, we were joined by three other couples — Mark & Heather, Rich & Maryke, and Jamie & Janet.

The photo album covers most of the stuff we did.

We went kayaking on Clear Lake on Saturday afternoon. Rich & Maryke came along. We did just fine alternating who was paddling and who was relaxing on shore. It makes me wish we had another two-person kayak. Hmmm….

Miniature golf was the big activity on Saturday night. In a match play format (four singles matches), the gentlemen managed a 3-1 victory over the ladies. It was great fun, as we had pretty much the entire course to ourselves.

On Sunday morning, Janet, Jamie, Mark, and I (Ben) ran the Freedom 5K in St. Germain. I set a new personal best, finishing in 21:12. Mark wasn’t far behind. Jamie & Janet each finished their first ever 5K, so congrats are in order for them as well. We celebrated by going to Paul Bunyan’s for breakfast after the run.

One thing that’s not in the photo album — we went back to St. Germain that night for fireworks. It was an amazingly impressive show. They seemed as good as (if not better than) the fireworks we saw in Racine on July 4.

We tried a new pizza place on Monday for dinner – the Minocqua Pizza Co., which is outside of town (south of the bridge). Not bad.

The weather was a bit cool for late June. On Monday night, before heading out for one last fishing trip on Little Muskie Lake, Jamie and I bundled up in some old clothes we found in a closet in the cottage (there is a picture of it in the album). We didn’t catch that many fish, but we still had fun.

I’m not sure if we’re heading back up to the cottage again this summer, but if we do, I know it’ll be a blast.