Family Gatherings

January 2014 Photo Album

There’s sixty more photos online in the January 2014 album. I’m amazed at how many photos we captured of Jonas climbing on things. He’s still just as active today (if not more).

I can also tell that a lot of these were taken with my old iPhone 3GS that has much poorer quality than my current iPhone 5S.

Looking at this particular picture makes me long for another trip to Minnesota and a big family breakfast at the pancake house. Yum.
Pancake Kids

Adventures in Fatherhood, Part 1

I had the special blessing of spending four days as the primary caregiver for Eliana and Jonas while Jenelle took a much-deserved vacation to Mexico with a friend.

The fun started early on Saturday morning, April 5. My dad stayed with the kids while I took Jenelle to O’Hare. When I got home, Jonas had just woken up, and Eliana was still asleep. After a quick shower, my dad left for a Saturday morning work responsbility, and I was officially ‘on my own’ with the kids.

Saturday’s plan was pretty straight-forward. Aunt Gail and Uncle Mike, who live near Madison, invited the whole family over for a late lunch to visit them and their daughter (my cousin), Laura, who was making a visit to Wisconsin from her home in Canada. My parents joined me on the two-hour trip, which made things easier for me.

I packed the kids into the Highlander with plenty of rations for the day. Two backup sets of clothes, pajamas, enough milk for two bottles for Jonas, plenty of snacks and drinks, and plenty of miscellaneous supplies. Also critical was the soundtrack from Frozen in the CD player. I think every girl between the ages of 2 and 7 is really into this movie right now. After a quick stop to pick up my parents and one last potty break for Eliana, we were on our way!

The kids were pretty good in the car. My mom kept Jonas occupied, and Eliana was full of smiles. The biggest challenge came about an hour and 15 minutes into the trip when E needed another potty break. As you might expect, this came up right after we passed a major exit (the Lake Mills area), so a minor detour was necessary. Here’s the conversation between me (Ben) and Eliana:

E: I have to go potty.
B: Okay, it will be a little while before the next exit, but we’ll stop as soon as we can. Can you hold it?
E: Yeah.
B: Do you want to listen to something until we get there?
E: I want ‘Let it Go’.
B: ‘Let it Go’? Are you sure?
E: Yeah.

See, that song would not be my first choice if I had to go to the bathroom. But it worked out fine for Eliana. We had to go five miles out of our way, but we made it without any issues, and the kids remained in good spirits for the rest of the journey. Jonas got a short nap in as well.

Gail & Mike live in a giant house that was built in the 1890s. Eliana and Jonas explored just about everywhere they could, including an attic full of old toys. Eliana also really liked to play with an old spinning wheel that belonged to her great great great grandmother (per what Gail said). I’m glad my parents came along, because there are a number of hazards where it’s helpful to have one or more adults ‘guarding’ each kid. Meal time was also a lot easier, with my dad handling Jonas and me helping Eliana.

Aunt Gail plays with Jonas in the attic.

Aunt Gail plays with Jonas in the attic.

Eliana plays with the spinning wheel.

Eliana plays with the spinning wheel.

Besides quality time with family, Gail made this trip special for Eliana and Jonas by hiding presents and easter eggs for them. Jonas got some cute pajamas. Eliana’s favorite gift was a purse, which she used to store the two dollars that were inside the eggs she found. I asked her where she wanted to spend her money, and she suggested the bakery, where we often stop after church on Sunday mornings. Sounds great to me!

Eliana, Aunt Gail, and cousin Laura

Eliana, Aunt Gail, and cousin Laura

We left Gail & Mike’s house around 4:00 that evening. As I expected, Eliana was asleep before we reached the freeway. Jonas took a little bit longer to conk out. The kids slept until about 5:40, so the trip back to my parents’ house was very smooth.

Knowing that I was in for a late night, I stayed for dinner at my parents’ house. I think the kids appreciated some more play time in a slightly quieter setting.

I don’t recall exactly when I left my parents’ house, but it was after 7. I would normally get Jonas’ bedtime routine (brush teeth, start bottle, diaper change, cetaphil cream, pajamas, one book, prayer, song, finish bottle, sleep) started around 7:15, but I waited until 8:30 because of his late nap. He still cried a fair amount after I put him in his crib, but he was quiet and asleep by 9:15.

Eliana’s bedtime routine (brush teeth, potty, pajamas, 2-3 books, prayer, song, lights out, another song, sleep) started around 9, about an hour later than usual. I was worried that, at some point, she would demand that Mommy provide assistance, but she didn’t. I think we did a good job of preparing her and telling her that Mommy was on a trip and would be back in a few days.

I probably should have gone to bed at 9:45, which is when Eliana finally fell asleep, but instead I went for a four-mile run on the treadmill in the basement. After a shower and some quick house-cleaning, I was done for the night.

Parts 2-4 coming soon.

Back on the air!

Eliana Daddy Jonas Mommy
Hi, everyone!

Yes, Ben, Jenelle, Eliana, and Jonas are still around and doing great!

As with the last time I posted here, my hope is to have more frequent updates in the weeks ahead. For now, here’s links to TONS of photo albums. All of these are accessible via the “Photos” link above or by heading straight to

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

Wisconsin Marathon 2013 – Ben sets a personal best!

Our Trip to Kauai – a wonderful vacation.

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

Pumpkin Farm (early October 2013)

October 2013

November 2013

Jonas’ First Birthday — if you blinked, you may have missed it. Our little guy is a year old. In fact, he’s 13 months old as I type this. I may share more about this event in a separate post.

Eliana turns 2!


Eight days ago, our baby girl became a big girl. Relatives and friends from near and far came to help us celebrate. It has been wonderful to have so much help, love, and support from friends and family. Our sweet little two year-old has had to make some big adjustments now that Jonas is around, but she’s doing very well.

You can read more about Eliana’s progress at her monthly update page.

The following video has just a few of the fun moments from the past couple of weeks. It includes several instances of Eliana opening presents, and three occasions where we lit candles and sang to her. There are so many things in the video that make me smile. One of my favorite moments is at about 4:22, when Eliana spontaneously hugs Uncle Randy.

Pumpkin Farm Funtimes

I nearly forgot to post photos from our trip to the Jerry Smith Pumpkin Farm in late September. There’s several cute ones in here.

Pumpkin Farm Photos

An Isaacson Family Christmas 2011

Here’s the Isaacson Family Christmas 2011 photo album!

It’s always great when my brother Andrew and his family come into town for a visit. We all gathered at my parents’ house a few days after Christmas to open gifts, play games, and just enjoy each other’s company. There are now TEN of us, so there’s never a dull moment.

The photo of Andrew and Eliana above is great, but there’s also a funny shot of me playing the Disney version of Hedbanz. I used to be pretty smart with Disney-related trivia, but I since haven’t been following the latest movies/shows, I didn’t fare too well against my nieces (Ella and Lily). Oh well — it’s still fun to play!

A Walter Family Christmas 2011

Here’s the Oregon Christmas 2011 photo album!

With Eliana’s birth in December 2010, there was no way we could travel to Oregon to celebrate Christmas with the Walters. So, we were definitely making the trip in 2011. As always, we had a wonderful time. We enjoyed breakfast with the family on Christmas morning and opened gifts soon afterward. We had plenty of days left over to cruise around town and get plenty of shopping and other fun activities done. We also spent some time with our friends the Boedings (Dave, Amanda, Adelaide, and introducing Thaddeus).

Remembering Grandpa Nick

Grandpa Nick, my mom’s dad, passed away last month. I am very thankful for all the great times I had with him.

I’ve put together this page to remember him. It includes his obituary, comments from both me and my brother, and a link to a ten-minute video that we put together when he and Grandma Iz celebrated sixty years of marriage. I hope you enjoy it.

Baby’s First Halloween

Eliana dressed up as a butterfly for her first Halloween. We took her trick-or-treating at just one house. We went to Uncle Nick, Aunt Lisa, and cousin Rachel’s place, which on Halloween is known as Hollows Way.

Eliana doesn’t eat candy yet, but she sure was eager to grab some. You can see her eyeing the bowl intently in the above photograph. 🙂 Here’s the Halloween 2001 photo album.

Here’s a couple of videos as well.

Baby’s First Road Trip / An Amazing Birthday Cake

In late August, we took Eliana for her first car ride longer than three hours. We drove to Minnesota to celebrate Ella’s 8th birthday and Lily’s 6th birthday. Jenelle made the cake, and I think it turned out wonderfully.
Be sure to check out the photo album from the trip. Also, here’s a video: