Friday, July 26, 2013

never gets old

When the boys complain that it's too hot outside--splash pad! When we're bored, need an activity, but I don't want to waste a bunch of money--splash pad! When we just feel like doing something quick and fun--splash pad! You get the idea. The splash pad is my go-to summertime activity.

Pioneer Day!

Since we had other plans on the 4th of July and weren't able to set off any fireworks, we decided to enjoy our own little firework display on the 24th of July/Pioneer Day instead. The boys had been saving their hard-earned allowance money for a few weeks to buy their own fireworks and were quite disappointed when we took them to the firework stand and they discovered that their combined $14 budget might be enough to buy a pack of sparklers and a couple pop-its. Dang, fireworks are such a rip-off! Being the awesome parents that we are, we took the boys to Costco where they used their money to "chip-in" on the Costco-special assorted fireworks package. Ordinarily, I would probably be a scrooge about buying fireworks because the entertainment is over within just a few minutes, but I actually felt like we got our moneys'-worth with these fireworks. The kids (our boys plus cousins and second-cousins) squealed and delighted in every single smoke bomb and ground flower. As it got dark, and we lit the fountain sparklers, the kids all lined up side-by-side and watched the mini-display with that pure excitement that only kids seem to possess. I feel like those are the magical moments of childhood that really matter, and, for that, I'm happy to get ripped off by the firework stands.

Feeling Crappy

Fair warning: the photo you are about to see is graphic and disturbing, proceed at your own risk.

I debated about whether or not to include this picture, but I didn't feel like our family journal would provide an accurate depiction of our summer if I didn't include anything about the little bout of health issues that have been plaguing Ben since mid-June. Out of the blue, without so much as a common cold for advance notice, Ben came down with pneumonia. Long story short, I've dragged this poor boy back and forth to the pediatrician, urgent care, and even an eventful trip to the ER to try and get his pneumonia/infection/breathing difficulty under control. It's been a rough couple weeks of doctor's visits, long nights, breathing treatments, shots, and numerous antibiotics (and subsequent GI issues as evidenced below) for this little dude. I'm so glad he is finally feeling better and crossing my fingers that he's kicked this infection for good.

Switching it Up

Earlier this month, we finally made the bed transition and moved Benny from the crib to a big boy twin bed and moved Joey from his little pack 'n play to the crib (poor Joey only gets a short turn in the crib before he'll be ousted by baby brother and will have to move up to big boy twin bed, too). I feel like we've been slackers about making the change, but it's just so hard to rock the boat when you've got a good thing going. I'm pleased to report that Ben has been sleeping in his big boy bed like a champ--he lets himself out of his room when he's ready to wake up in the morning and has peeked out of his doorway here and there during nap time, but so far, no sleep protests--and, as you can see from the picture below, Joey is getting plenty of beauty rest in the crib.

my boyfriend

I don't really have anything to add as a caption to this picture...ten years of marriage and we still look like goofballs?? Perhaps. All I know is that I absolutely LIVE for our bi-monthly-ish date nights. Even when we don't do anything special, just the dinner and a movie date night usual, it is so very much-needed to get a few hours together to be us. Not Mom. Not maid. Not cook. Just to be this guy's girlfriend.

Sweet's Candy Factory Tour

The things we do for our kids, I tell you. When you consider the work involved in an ordinary trip to the grocery store, for example (diapers checked, car seats strapped, troops loaded, toddler lugged, baby carried, boys kept on task...oh, and any leftover part of your brain focused on price-checking, list-completing, and nutrition-calculating), you can appreciate the exhausting amount of work put into a fun, free, educational tour of the Sweet's Candy Factory. Due to the safety regulations imposed by the factory, Mindy and I both had to bjorn one baby (that would be in addition to the one I've already got protruding from my belly) and push another in strollers as we walked about the factory and learned about each stage of the candy-making process. For added fun, we all got to wear hair nets (except that Joey didn't find this to be fun at all)! I think the kids had a really good time--they were amazed watching the 90lb bricks of taffy get stretched out and cut into tiny bite-sized pieces--so I guess in the end it was worth the workout. On to the next adventure!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Neighborhood Gang

This picture pretty much sums up our summer to date. I had very ambitious plans of taking the boys on lots of excursions and planning lots of creative activities, but seriously, all they want to do is play outside with the neighborhood gang! We usually have friends knocking on the front door before we've finished breakfast and I have to physically drag the boys to come in for lunch and dinner time. They race up and down the street on their bikes, play trains and trucks in the basement, and always find ways to get into trouble with hoses and sprinklers. I love that the boys have made such great friends with our neighbors...this is what summer is all about!

Man Camp

Last Friday Aaron took Hank and Max to Big Cottonwood Canyon for "Man Camp," aka our ward's annual Father/Son campout. Sometimes it's hard not to grumble just a tiny bit about Aaron's endless weeknight obligations (evening policy reviews for work, weekly priesthood visits, hometeaching, and mutual for church, and the occasional softball game), but I 100% support, shoot, I insist upon, Aaron participating in this engagement. I really feel strongly that it is important for the boys to have quality time with their Dad, commune with nature, and associate with the priesthood holders in our ward. And for that, I am willing to make the sacrifice to stay at home all by my lonesome (kind of, if you don't count Ben and Joey), watching boring chick flicks and eating way too much chocolate while snuggled in my warm, cozy bed. Oh the sacrifices I make!

Picnic Party at the Canyon

With 9 busy kids to consider, compromising on an appropriate way to celebrate an adult's birthday--that doesn't involve a giant inflatable or chicken nuggets--is challenging. Mindy and I settled on a waterfront picnic lunch in the canyon to celebrate her special day. Our attention was divided a million different directions with trying to keep our grade-schoolers from drowning one another in the river, keeping our toddlers from covering themselves in firepit soot, and keeping our babies from eating bugs and rocks, but in between those moments we shared a nice picnic and hopefully helped Mindy feel loved on her birthday.

27 Weeks!

Yikes! I'm kind of starting to freak out about the fact that this whole Baby #5 thing is actually going to happen! I guess it's too late to change my mind?! I do feel very lucky that this quite possibly may be my easiest pregnancy yet (it gives Aaron a heart attack every time I joke that maybe I'm just getting warmed up with #5! hahaha)...I just don't think enough time has passed between my last labor and delivery to forget all of the awesomeness that is childbirth that awaits me just around the corner.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

About Dang Time

This little dude has been taking his sweet time to get on his feet. Ordinarily, I would be in no hurry to rush my baby through his milestones. However, in this case, I'm already carrying quite a bit of extra weight everywhere I go with Baby #5, so I am thrilled to have 25lb Joey on his own two feet. Plus, there are few things sweeter than my little blond-haired cutie toddling along, one little step at a time.

Epic Family Reunion

I think that anytime you bring a large group of people together, for an extended period of time, in close living quarters, there is potential for disaster. When I invited my entire family--my complex, diverse, oh so difficult, but wonderful family--to join us at our house over the 4th of July for a first-ever family reunion, I knew there was the possibility that things could go badly. Very badly. So, with my expectations set realistically, I felt like our four day Zollinger family extravaganza was quite successful! Between parade-spectating, barbequing, and firework-watching on the holiday, swimming, lots of trampoline jumping and go-fish playing, family video sharing, eating/picnicing, hiking, BYU-visiting, board game playing, family photo-taking, church-going, and minute-to-win-it competing, there wasn't any time for much drama and disaster! I'm so glad we were all able to lay differences aside to bring our families together to create positive cousin memories.

Reunion Highlights: