Tuesday, February 21, 2017

we had chicks! aka: don't count your chickens before they hatch

Sometime towards the end of last year, Kade mentioned to his grandpa (Bart's dad), that he would like to learn about egg incubation and hatching chicks.  So, the middle of December, Grandpa Zen gathered an incubator, egg turner, and eggs so that we could watch them hatch and have baby chicks for a few weeks.
After 3 long weeks of incubating them, we had our first "pip!"  Sadly, that's as much as that egg hatched.
But, within a few hours, more eggs started to hatch!  It took some serious patience, because even once an egg pipped, it was hours before the chick hatched.  It was days from the first hatch to the last.  (I'm not sure I have the patience to hatch chicks again!)

It was pretty exciting for all of us to come check in the incubator every hour or two to see what had changed.
I posted the above picture on Instagram because it was so exciting to have our eggs hatching.  Within a few hours of taking this picture, however, it became clear that this little chick was in trouble.  Now, I know they say to NEVER help a chick out of their egg, and I know I'm no chick expert, but the membrane was turning hard and the little chick was going to be glued in the egg if we didn't intervene.  So, Bart performed a very delicate surgery and freed the chick from her egg.  We weren't sure if she was going to make it after all of that, but she ended up being one of our healthiest chicks.  And Everly named her Minnie.



We didn't have a very good hatch rate. With 14 eggs, only 6 hatched.  We had 3 fluffy yellow ones: Minnie, Tallulah, and Julie. We had one brown one, Odell Peckham Junior (ha, ha, get it?), and two black ones, Garret, and Curry (as in Stephen, not chicken curry).

This is the only picture I have of all 6 of them, and you can see the sickly black one. That's Curry.  He only lived a few days.  Julie had a deformed leg, and only lived about a week.  The kids were all sad when they died, but it was probably a good lesson for them.  


 Everly loved the chicks and always wanted to hold them.  She would go downstairs to see them multiple times each day.  It was so fun to watch her.





All of the kids liked watching them, making sure they were fed and had enough water.  We all liked watching how fast they grew up and how much they changed from day to day. 


 Here's what they looked like the day we sent them to live on our friends farm. I think they were almost 3 weeks old.  They look completely different than they did those first few days!  The kids were sad to say goodbye to them, but I'm sure they are much happier on the farm than in this cardboard box.  Maybe we'll have to incubate eggs again sometime.  The baby chicks were definitely easier to take care of than the baby ducks we once had!



Sunday, February 19, 2017

ky and kade turn 11!

What???  How is it possible that these boys turned 11?  That seems quite impossible, yet somehow it happened.  We spent their entire birthday celebrating them.  The festivities included breakfast from McDonald's, swimming as a family, going to see Rogue One (the newest Star Wars movie) with mom, and dinner as a family at Buffalo Wild Wings.

A few months ago we made a deal with the boys that we would pay for them to have a big birthday where we would rent out the indoor sports complex and invite all their friends, but only if we didn't buy them any birthday presents.  They did have a few gifts to open from grandparents, but instead of gifts from us, they got to open heartfelt letters that Bart and I wrote each of them.  I'm not sure they thought the letters were better than gifts, but they did agree that having a big party was a good deal.

Instead of cake, they requested brownies with the most delicious peanut butter frosting.

I'm dying to know what his wish was, because it looks like he was taking the whole thing very seriously!




I sure love celebrating these two great boys of mine.  It's heard to believe that they are already 11, but I'm so happy that we've already had 11 years together.


Here are some pictures of their birthday part at the sports complex.  They played everything from dodge ball to flag football, capture the flag, soccer and probably some other games that I don't remember.  They had about 15 friends there, and everyone had a great time.






We ordered some pizza, had some Gatorade, and the boys all seemed content.  This was the first birthday party I've thrown for them outside our home.  I usually love planning and hosting birthday parties.  I love coming up with themes, and then making invitations, decorations, party favors, games, and food that all match the theme.  I love that.  But last year we had twelve 10 year old boys in my brand new house and it about drove me insane.  It take a bit for me to let go of the idea of matching everything to a theme, and I even let Ky and Kade create and deliver the invitations themselves.
I even purchased the birthday cake from Costco, which is the first time I've ever ordered a cake from a store before. (It was yummy, by the way).  I have to say that although this birthday party was totally different than how I usually throw them, it was way less stressful and the boys had just as much, if not more, fun.  I guess there really is more than one way to do something ;).

One thing that I thought was strange was I just discovered that (at least around here), it's not normal to open the gifts at the party.  When I was growing up, we always watch the birthday child open all the presents, but that's not how things are done anymore.  As weird as I thought that was, it was kinda nice to watch Ky and Kade open all their presents from their friends with just our family.  Plus, there was no pressure for them to act like they loved each present exactly as much as all the other presents. And the other kids didn't have to feel bad if their present wasn't as big or expensive as ones the other kids brought.  Plus, I know those boys enjoyed the extra 20 minutes of playing sports instead of watching Ky and Kade open gifts.  Anyway, probably not a big deal, but again, I'm learning that there can be more than one way to do something!

Happy Birthday Ky and Kade!  We sure love you two, and we're glad you are a part of our family!
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

our 2016 family christmas letter

Here is a copy of our annual family Christmas letter for those who we missed sending a physical copy to:


2016 Highlights:

2016  was a year of traveling!

February: We went to Wisconsin Dells for some indoor waterpark fun! The twins love swimming, so a trip centered around water was a dream come true for them. 

May: We went to Pella, Iowa to visit Bart’s relatives and celebrate Bart’s Dutch heritage at Tulip Time!

July: We drove 23 hours straight to get to Utah, where we spent 2 weeks with Ashli’s family, swimming, celebrating the 4th of July, hiking, visiting with friends and family, eating yummy food, attending a Jazz game, and dreading driving back home.

September: We went to Nashville, TN to watch the Florida Gators football team win a super fun game! We visited with a few friends from Bart’s PA program and spent time with some dear friends we hadn’t seen in years.

November: We traveled back to Iowa for a wedding, and enjoyed seeing many of Bart’s relatives.  

Bart: Stayed busy serving as the Young Men’s president at church, playing his guitars almost every evening since he got his first guitar last Christmas, and continues to enjoy working as a PA in family practice.

Ashli: Loved watching princess movies with Everly, going on one-on-one mommy/son dates this summer, and seems to be getting busier and busier shuttling kids from here to there. She wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Kade: (10) Won his 3rd Flag Football championship in a row, ran cross country, started playing on a basketball team, and played sports outside with his friends nearly every day, all summer.  “Football is my life!” ~Kade

Ky: (10) Also won his 3rd flag football championship, ran track, started playing on a basketball team, and practiced his sketching nearly every day all summer. HIs favorite thing to draw is famous athletes.

Krew: (5) Started 4 year-old kindergarten, learned to ride a 2-wheel bike without ever using training wheels, rides his new scooter like a pro, watched a million sports highlights on YouTube, and can tell you about dozens of pro athletes and teams.


Everly: (2) Is either smiling or shrieking, nothing in between.  She loves babies, doggies, Anna & Elsa, and Princess Sophia, and the color pink.  She spends her days telling people, “I wanna talk to you!”

May your family have a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful 2017!


christmas morning 2016

Christmas morning with children has to be the best day of the year!  The laughter, the love, the happiness, the "thank you"s and the memories make it something to savor!
Since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, after we opened our stockings, we all got dressed in our Sunday best and headed to church.  Singing Christmas hymns, and hearing the messages about the birth of our Savior was the perfect way to start the best day of the year!  I know the kids would disagree, but I think Christmas should be on Sunday every year.

My kids were so happy and so gracious as they opened each of their presents this year.  That isn't always the case, but it was this time.














I realize this last picture seems a bit random, but Krew was most excited about the pet fish he got from Everly, and his face in this picture is priceless!