After all isn't the home where life's building blocks are provided. So join us as we roll up our sleeves and confront everyday life on the Rittgers Home Front!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

June 2015

Once school finished, summer kicked off at full speed ahead. No sooner had we wrapped up the school year, then Tim was off to Atlanta for a technology conference. Emma had the kids at home doing a few summer things before she took them to the farm. Judah started his summer with a ear rupture and antibiotics for an ear infection. He still put all his legos sets together from his birthday by himself. And Krissy who was not sure what to make with Judah home all the time, went around singing the ABC's (the whole song for the first time). Emma also changed the nightly routine to singing two songs before bed after lights out followed by a good night.

The kids settled into a long weekend at the farm while Emma traveled back to Des Moines to pick up Tim at the airport and for her Ultimate Journey Class at church. Then we turned around and traveled north in Palmer, Iowa, to celebrate with Isaiah and Sarah (Cutshall) Janssen at their wedding. As a bridesmaid, Emma played dress up with the girls while Tim did whatever was needed, decorate, run errands for the girls, or eat the food available. All the festivities including the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, and reception were very special and a lot of fun.

Staying in Fort Dodge, we drove up to Forest City Sunday morning to see our nephews baby dedication and pick up our kids. We had a nice family dinner before hitting the road to Des Moines all tuckered out from our long weekends.

It was while Tim was in Atlanta, that Emma called Tim to say she was feeling nauseous. Before this time she had been unusually tired but with feelings of fighting to get food down, the writing was on the wall. Thus started the beginning of pregnancy with Baby Boo. The first person to guess was our friend Robin who saw Emma at her Ultimate Journey class on June 4. She took one look at Emma and knew why the food she was eating made her cringe. The secret was out right away. Slowly the neighbors were finding out as well.

We barely had a week to do laundry and repack before we were off on our family vacation to Hannibal and Branson, Missouri. We left on Friday evening in time to reach our Best Western on the River in Hannibal to turn in. The next day, the four of us explored the downtown museums featuring Mark Twain. Judah and Krissy were our very own Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher going from building to building learning about the various adventures. That afternoon we took a break from the heat and storms to go swimming in the hotel pool and have a leisurely supper out for pizza.

On Sunday, we took a riverboat ride on the Mississippi learning about Hannibal history. The kids were not impressed with the sights as much as eating from the concession stand. So then we played at the park for a while and found a place downtown to eat. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was going to visit the Mark Twain cave later that afternoon. While Tim carried Krissy who asked every other minute when we would be done, Judah stayed up front with the tour guide taking in every word. Afterwards, the kids then panned for their own gems and treasures.

Monday, we loaded up the car to begin the second half of our road trip to Branson where we stayed at Table Rock Lake with all of Tim's family. Our house was big enough for each family to have their own room and bathroom. Each family took a meal to cook for everyone. The adults could visit or play games while the cousins ran around or played in the theatre room.

Tuesday, Papa Larry rented a pontoon boat for us to be together on the lake. Those who wanted a turn to ski went in Andrew's boat while those who wanted to stay dry from the rain, went underneath the cover of the pontoon boat. Before we got caught in the rain, we all took a dip in the refreshing lake water. Much of the afternoon it rained so we found some indoor activities for the kids and just relaxed enjoying each other's company. Some of the kids went swimming later in the rain too.

Wednesday, most of the troop went swimming the beach house. All the boys (of all ages) enjoyed playing, wrestling, and jumping of of the big water mat. After a big lunch, the kids took a quiet time while the moms walked around the shops at the Landing. Then everyone went back out to the lazy river for some pool time.

Thursday we cleaned up the cabin and loaded back for the long, tired drive home. We had to get family pictures before we left and it was at this moment we told the Rittgers family our news of Baby Boo. We made it home for supper and ordered pizza to share with those still on the road.

By the weekend, everyone was exhausted, Emma especially.  In spite of rest that weekend and all the next week with lots of help from Tim, Emma came down with a severe cough and cold. She started vomiting enough that the doctors put her on nausea medicine. She recovered slightly enough to see Philip who was in town for his Okoboji 200 bike ride. Unfortunately by the time Philip left, he not only got sick but the rest of the family was on antibiotics as well.

Tim spent most of the end of the month taking care of the family so that Emma could recover. Judah took swim lessons at the Urbandale Public Pool. Several times the kids played with friends so mommy could rest. Krissy finally got to go with daddy to pick out her new big girl bike. she was so excited to find a My Little Pony 14 inch bike. She even helped daddy put it together she was so proud. Practically bigger than her, she still rode around the neighborhood to show off her rainbow dash tassels of hair hanging from the handles.  Such good kids!

June also marked one of the wettest parts of the season. Late June, we had continuous storms all night long. The next day, Tim found that all the roads around us to the East were closed for flooding. Come to find out, Walnut Creek had flooded the entire area. Our own dike kept the water from flooding us but still was five feet from the top of the berm. Our long-time neighborhood resident, Jim, came by to make sure we were ok and said this was the worst flood in our neighborhood since they built the dike. They even had the flood gates closed. This started our rainforest summer. Can't wait for the mosquitoes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

May 2015

Before we knew it the month of May was gone. We had so many spring activities and end of school activities to fill up our month. May 1st started us off with May Day and delivering May baskets. We had the living room decorated with flowers and butterflies. The windows were open to fresh spring air. Many days were spent outside gardening, riding bikes, playing with our neighbor friends, and going to the parks. Spring was in full swing!

The kids were certainly enjoying the outdoors. Both kids helped pick out items to plant in the garden this year: Krissy wanted her pink petunias and Judah found his packet of carrot seeds. Each helped dig the dirt for the large bush we planted on the west side, planted their items, and then went off to watering while Emma was still planting her red snapdragons.

Both of the kids were fascinated by bugs this spring. Krissy thought almost anything was a bug on the ground. Together her and Judah would look for bugs all over the neighborhood and we would look them up to identify them. Krissy would spent many moments digging in the garden to look for a worm, her absolute favorite. When she found one you would know because she would come get Emma all excited, saying "I found a worm, mom. Come see. Awe it is so cute!" Inside, Emma caught both kids sneaking crumbs of food on the ground to feed the ants that were finding their way inside.

Krissy spent several mornings in May hanging out with mom going on bike rides, playing at parks, or going to garage sales. We also had a number of play dates with our neighbor friend Annika. While Krissy pretends to be Annika with her pigtails, Annika likes to be Krissy with her hair. Emma and Annkia's mom, Lindsay took the girls to Tot Town, the parks, and each other's houses. Often Lindsay and Emma would take turns watching the girls to give the other mom a morning off for just about whatever.

Krissy also finished her music class this month even though she sings every moment singing and dancing at home. In the car to pick up Judah, you will overhear Krissy singing to the "Bible" songs. She sings to her dollies. And you can hear her sing at quiet time.

Judah had date night with mommy at Chick-fa-la. We showed up for our meal with our neighbors Denise and Zach and enjoyed an Lego-themed evening out. Chick-fa-la had lego decorations, free dessert, and live music for us to enjoy. The boys brought their lego creations to show off. Emma sure enjoyed her date the most!

Judah's kindergarten class performed their spring program. Each student's speaking part and all the songs walked us through what they learned throughout the year. Their accomplishments were evident in the slide show of pictures Mrs. Basler put together. We enjoyed cookies afterwards with Judah's classmates and their families.

The last week of school, Judah went on a field trip to Living History Farm. Emma helped chaperone the kids as they visited three eras of farmsteads. The next day, Judah had pajama day while they watched Trumpet of the Swan comparing it to the book that they read this year. Finally on the last day, Judah celebrated his birthday with games and a family picnic. He shared his ice pops for his treats.

We are so proud of Judah and all his accomplishments for kindergarten at Shepherd's Flock. According to Mrs. Basler, his teacher, Judah ended his kindergarten career writing like a second grader and reading at a level J. He brought home all his language, math, and writing notebooks with containing all of his hard work from the entire year. He also showed off his box of sight words, where he only missed two out of the whole year.

On Memorial Day, we wore our red, white, and blue, and went to a service at the nearby cemetery to see the flags and hear taps. The cemetery in West Des Moines had a nice ceremony. Afterwards, we had friends over for a fish fry picnic in our garage. The kids played with their friends all afternoon while the adults visited in the nice weather.

On another weekend, we went to the farm to celebrate cousin Gabe's birthday and to help with planting season. Then we also met Papa and Gigi still another weekend at the Marshalltown Pizza Ranch.

Tim was on call one week this month for Principal. Other than that, Tim watched the kids so that Emma could facilitate her weekly Ultimate Journey class at church or attend her Frisbee Park Association Board Meeting. Tim did volunteer with the History Day folks again judging videos. Tim also played the part of Jonah two Sundays this month at church.

We also celebrated Judah's 6 birthday this month the weekend of May 29. He now uses both hands to tell how old he is. Friday was his last day of school where we met him for a school picnic. He finally could be the birthday leader and share treats with all his classmates. Judah opened some gifts from mommy and daddy and we spent the afternoon playing Angry Birds Star Wars. Friday night, we took Judah out for his birthday dinner at IHOP for his favorite meal, pancakes and lots of syrup. The next day we had his mad science birthday party celebrating with family and friends.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Judah's 6th Birthday: Mad Science Party

Judah has always loved science and doing science experiments. So this year, we decided to do a mad scientist birthday party to celebrate him turning 6 years old. 

Judah specifically asked for magnifying glasses for his invitations. Emma got them started but Judah put them together all by himself.

Judah had a few ideas in mind for experiments. He definitely wanted to blow something up and also mix something together that would overflow. After Emma told Tim he was in charge of finding the experiments and making them happen, Tim (like a kid in a candy shop) found experiments that would definitely qualify for a mad science party for these reasons: blow up, foam, use a sub woofer, set on fire, and cold ice water. Here he is practicing his techniques on the kids. 

Next, Judah helped Emma make the items for the gift baggies for his guests. No science party would be complete without glow-in-the-dark-green slime. This experiment in and of itself was awesome. The slime felt like rubber but would run down your hands, making it was so much fun to see green hands in the dark. In addition to the green slime, each guest received color dye bath drops, homemade rock candy (another experiment), and rubber gloves all in a bio hazard bag.

Judah also helped put together supplies for his science peers. Emma also got items for each experiment and put them in a bucket with the directions for the party. At the same time, Tim set up a laboratory out in the garage complete with sounds that he and Judah created. The neighbors probably thought we were recreating Frankenstein.

The food was also an experiment waiting to be eaten. We made jello petri dishes, melon molecules, and periodic crackers. It was quite a spread for the scientists and their families.

Finally, the day and the hour came for mad science to unfold. Scientist Judah was ready to receive help from his fellow scientists. Even Albert Einstein showed up with his little sidekick, princess Rapunzel.

Each budding scientist needed to follow safety procedures with lab coats, safety goggles, and magnifying glasses before entering Einstein's lab out in the garage.  

Our first experiment for the day was to make Homemade Dry Ice Rootbeer. Here Einstein is lecturing his pupils on the safety of dry ice.

Next, Einstein launched Tea Bag Rockets. The scientists stepped back in hopes of not being set on fire.

Third, the scientists tried to make an explosion inside a bag. 

Here Einstein is talking about the importance of fat when surviving the cold in the artic cold regions of the world. Multiple scientists had to test this out.

Importance stuff to study. Interesting findings to consider.

Here the scientists experiment on how to make as much foam as possible. Leading princess inspires other women to get involved in the science process.

At last, the finale! The crowing moment every scientist dreams of. Making Oobleck (cornstarch and water) dance on top of a bass sub woofer. 

Scientists who work hard may now eat and play hard. Here the guys put work aside to enjoy the fruits of their labor by sipping root beer and eating sloppy jacks. At the same time they enjoy reminiscing their research findings.

Here lead scientist Judah opens all sorts of science discoveries with his friends and family.

And for the crowning accomplishment of the day's agenda. Cake and ice cream! Happy Birthday to the best 6 year old scientist, Judah Rittgers! What a fun day had by all in the science world!