Friday, September 2, 2016

fun with Gardner cousins

My sister, Mara, recently moved from Arizona to Texas putting her much closer to us. She needed to take boards for re-certification to be a PA this year. Since she was significantly closer to Iowa she decided to drive up with her three girls so she could study while they hung out with family for a couple of weeks. We were all more than happy with that arrangement. We love time with cousins!

We met mom and the girls at a nearby park one day to play at the playground and the splash pad.

Ella and Declan were selling something to grandma. 
I loved Ella's hair when she got to the bottom of the slide. It totally reminds me of an old picture of Mara.

Oh cousins. They make the best of friends. Tatum and Jade actually fight like cats and dogs a little bit. They sure love each other but they both have strong personalities and although they are the same size they are over a year apart which probably causes some difficulty as well. The fighting makes pictures like this extra sweet.

No better way to end an afternoon at the park/splash pad than with ice cream.

That evening we headed out to Palisades for a little cook out.
Rich even made homemade rootbeer which is always a hit with the kids.

 And the kids got to walk down to the river with cousins and aunts and uncles that are more fun than their parents. :)

The girls spent most of their time at Grandma's and Papa's, although we met up with them a lot for some fun. One day they came and spent the day at our house though. Fun was had by all!
I started reading a book to one or two kids and all of a sudden they all wanted to read. Of course!
These next few pictures are so random but I just kind of love them. Weird kids being weirdos. :)

We invited Jade and Ella for a sleepover but in the end Jade decided to go back to grandma's house with her mom. Ella was brave and stayed though. Tatum's first sleepover at home. :)
Declan was thrilled to have a friend to play with in the morning.
And someone to hang out with during swim lessons.

We stopped by the library after swimming. They were having a pokemon hunting activity for kids to do. They all got so into it and totally loved finding the pokemon.
Horsey rides with Papa. I don't know what it is about the lighting at my parents' house but it doesn't mix well with my iphone camera. Oh well.

Horsey rides turned into attack Papa. I love Declan's face in the next picture. :)

Papa is always willing to read and read and read.
Grandma is another willing reader. These kids could listen to books all day.

We all headed to a Kernels baseball game one night. The weather was beautiful and it was a fun evening.
The kids earned wristbands for the bounce house area through a summer reading program. They had a blast doing all the activities.

If you can, you need to zoom in on Ella's face in this pictures. Hilarious.

Ella and Declan were good sports as we had them put their arms in the air and cheer forever waiting for the nearby cameraman to get them so they could make it on the big screen. Clearly it was an exhausting task but they kept at it.

And it finally paid off. :)

We enjoyed a peaceful hour or so while Jade played with Declan and Tatum with Ella. No fighting!
At our neighborhood park being silly.
 On their way to look for pokemon with Brennan. Don't ask me about Tatum's face. I have no idea.
 Enjoying our backyard swing. Declan loves that Mario hat and thinks he is a police officer when he wears it.

They ended up being here for over 2 weeks. It was a whole lot of fun but also involved a lot of missed naps and late bedtimes. Clearly some of us were exhausted by the end.
Zoned out in front of Little House in the Prairie (or Little House on the Fairy as my kids call it hahahaha) and coloring pictures.
Mom and I took the kids to the free summer movie to see Despicable Me 2. It was weirder than I expected but the kids are easy to please.

Bowling always seems to be on the agenda.

Check out that score! I have never bowled so well in my life. Apparently something about a huge belly makes me a better bowler. :)
Whoa! A picture of Mara and I. Unheard of!
Oh Kelbie. Always a favorite. The kids just gravitate to her. She thinks she wants to be an elementary school teacher and clearly she would make an excellent one.
Their last day in town was Ella's birthday. We got to have a little party with her which was a lot of fun.

You can always count on mom to have some fun party games. She is seriously the ultimate party planner.

One day Mara, Mom and I headed out to Kalona so Mara could by a million pounds of popcorn. ;) The kids got crazy, not surprisingly, so I told them to go wait on this bench by the checkouts while we waited in line and checked out. I couldn't resist snapping a few photos of all of them lined up. The only trouble is none of them turn out perfect or anywhere close and yet they are hard to narrow down. It's just too fun to look through the sequence of poses and faces and general craziness.

What a great few weeks that was. And the extra good news is that Mara passed her exams!

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