The dear husband and I just returned from our weekend away without the boys. We had a very relaxing and uneventful weekend, which is to say that all went well and the boys did great. My sister, mom and nephew came to take care of the boys and they had a great time while we were gone.
We left on Friday afternoon and returned this morning around 10:00ish. It was a perfect amount of time to be away for a first time without the boys. I was ready to get back to them but felt I had had a nice break and a good time reconnecting with my husband. We went out to eat a few times and saw a movie and held hands and had long visits without being interrupted. It was all very nice and we both came back feeling well rested.
We went to Arkansas. We stayed in Springdale which was not as pretty as I expected. We took a drive on Saturday afternoon and drove over to Fayetteville, which was really pretty. The University of Arkansas is there and it has a very pretty campus and the old timey town square was lovely. We just missed their Saturday farmers market. They were putting everything away when we arrived but we got out and walked around anyway. Overall, Arkansas is a very pretty state. Lots of big hills / small mountains and tons of trees and winding roads. It is nice that we can get there by car so quickly and we will look forward to exploring more of this beautiful state. We also need to get out in Oklahoma and explore a bit more. We have very pretty parts of our state also and we have not done much in the way of seeing it. But we have plenty of time, Lord willing.
Other things going on around here. I am considering what I want to do this year with the boys for "preschool". I know it will still be mostly informal, since they are still just three years old and boys need a lot of time to run and jump and play, so they will have lots of time for that. I will likely try to start having a short (15 to 20 minutes) dedicated time with each child to focus on solidifying what we have been learning about phonics and pre-reading, maybe three times a week. I also want to set aside regular time for character development, regular devotions and Bible scripture memory each day. We will likely try to also do some preschool math but we will do it in a fun, playing kind of way. Everything else will just be coloring, pasting, cutting and all of the fine motor skill activities that will prepare the boys for writing. They like to try to write letters now and I will work with them when they are interested but I will not push this type of work until they have stronger fine motor skills.
I forgot to mention that Ben found a pen (one that Zoe-cat left on the floor after playing with it) and wrote on our leather ottoman. He had already written on it once before with a red ink pen, just a bit of scribble. This time it was a black pen. I had explained to him the first time that we don't do this (I went into more detail) and that he would be punished if he did it again. He knows where to find paper, if he wants it. He deliberately disobeyed and I did punish him for it. Afterward I was trying to clean it off with some leather cleaner (didn't work) and comet (didn't work). He was standing there watching me and told me, very proudly, that he had written an 'A' and a 'B' and, I must admit, he did a pretty good job of it. I never got it off. If anyone has any suggestions for how to get ink off of leather, please let me know.
Here are some pictures from K.C.:
We went to this great public park. We call it The Farm, although it has a formal name "somebody's name Farm Stead" but I can never remember who it is named after. It is a beautiful place. We had taken the kids there a couple of years ago but they were too little to remember it. They had a great time.
The boys were climbing on the rocks. This is right at the entrance. As we were walking away, I noticed the small signs next to the pond that say "no climbing on rocks". Woops.
This is also one of the views as you walk in. The flower gardens are just beautiful. I wish I had this kind of green thumb. This picture does not do it justice. It was actually much more beautiful in person.
Feeding the goats. The boys really enjoyed this and this place is great because they have nice hand washing areas in all of the right places.
This guy was sleeping in the trough the whole time we were feeding the others.
A hay ride. The boys weren't quite so sure about this because I was not going on the ride with them and dad was not on yet because he was taking pictures. My friend's mom is in a red shirt and is sitting just behind and to the right of Ben. My friend's two daughters are both in pink, the dark haired one is to the right to Ben, sitting next to her grandmother. The other one is sitting just behind Ben, kind of between Nick and Ben.
These are the huge horses that pull the hay ride. They have bells on them and they sound like sleigh bells when the horses trot. They walk around this wooded area and then they let them trot on the way back. It sounded very Christmasy as the horses were trotting back. The kids really enjoyed it.
Nick, looking out of the window of the kid-size log cabin. It is right next to a play ground.
Ben and my friend's youngest daughter inside of the little log cabin. It was extremely hot on this day and poor little Ben was sweating profusely. He kept going up to the dad, grabbing the dad's shorts in both of his hands and using them to wipe the sweat off of his face. He would put his face right into the dad's shorts and turn his head back and forth, back and forth. It was very cute but I felt bad for him that he was that hot. I tried to cool him down with some ice but he was not very into it.
Ben's first try at fishing. He accidentally got hooked in the arm once but fortunately it was pretty minor. The hook just barely went into his skin and didn't get in far enough to get past that thorny part that makes it hard to pull it out. It came out easily and just left a tiny hole.
And Nick's fishing debut. We told him he was suppose to hold the pole up but he like doing it this way better...and we had to keep an eye on him or he would try to catch the ducks. I don't know who this guy with the baby is behind Nick but he was really in jeapordy of being hooked. Sitting this close to a three year old with a sharp fish hook on the end of a pole is not the best idea. Luckily nothing bad happened.
Both boys loved the horse ride. They were led around a track by a volunteer of the park. Many of the workers are volunteers and look as if they are high school or college students.
All four of the kids had such a wonderful time together and got along so well. It was fun to watch them all together. They were all born in Volgograd, Russia and three of the four are from the same baby home (the three youngest ones). My friend and her mom were in Volgograd to bring her youngest daughter home when we were there to meet Ben and Nick. We all hung out together and played with our kids for 7 or 8 days and then we all flew from Volgograd to Moscow together, where we separated because they had to stay in Moscow to do paper work stuff for their daughter / granddaughter and we were headed on back home to finish our paper work and wait for our court date.
Here is a picture I took of the boys after we got home. Ben sat on Nick's lap and they thought that was very funny. I took advantage of the opportunity and snapped a photo. Aren't they growing up so fast? They both need a hair cut badly. We were going to do it tonight but the dad ended up taking them over to that neat park over by the river and they didn't get back in time. Just enough time for a bagel and a little playing and then time for bed. We are thoroughly enjoying the bagels we brought home from K.C. We still have three left so tomorrow will probably be the last day. The boys really like them too, although it took a Ben a bit to decide he really likes them.Time for bed. Good night!