Summer 2015, winding down

The lazy days (evenings) of summer are about over…. Tomorrow we go back to school and back to evening homework battles and the stress of school.

There is a lot that has been going on around here that I haven’t blogged about, where is the time?!?

So I am going to try to catch it all up in one post, here goes:

This summer we have been to:

-Wolf Creek camping

-Big Splash Indoor Water Park, French Lick, IN

-Flora Charley Brown Park camping

-Ferne Clyffe camping

-Six Flags, St Louis

-Mattoon Lytle Pool for swimming

-The boys had their first Charger ride

-Rend Lake camping

-Tuscola, Champaign shopping

-Pond swimming several times

-PLUS all the other countless trips and day outings that the grandmas have taken the girls to do this summer!

We had such a good summer, the kids LOVE camping and swimming and I am so glad that they do, because Jason and I love it too.   The kids have had their 1 year anniversary at a different sitter.  The girls spent 4 days a week there this summer, and I think they completely enjoyed it, never complaining about having to go.

We have more camping trips and maybe a day trip to celebrate Jake’s birthday in the works for this fall, so the fun is not over yet!!

An update on the kids:

Kyle  (Carl) – SO SO ornery….  He is constantly getting into something he shouldn’t be, with a look of determination on his face.  He RUNS everywhere he goes, he can’t sit still for more than 3 seconds and he has a very large obsession with THOMAS the TRAIN!   He is still in speech therapy and we are hearing more words, but he’s got a ways to go.   Jake was the same way, he was in speech a good 8 months before everything clicked and he took off talking.  He thinks he is ready to be out of the crib, but has proven the last few nights that he still needs to be caged….we do let him roam the room for a few minutes before putting him in now, which seems to satisfy him.

Jacob (Jake) – The other day he informed Jason that his name was not Jacob LEE Thoele, it is Jacob Wii Thoele…..   Seriously this kid has an addiction to Mario Kart and nick Jr on the ipod.   He will be starting school in a few weeks (2 days a week) and he can’t wait.   Since he is 3 now he is allowed to jump off of the dock at home and swim, and boy does he love that too.   He is the first one in – hollering CANNON BALL  – as he runs off the end and always the last one out, being pulled out unwillingly by me or Jason.   He has taken to sleeping on the floor of his room instead of his bed, for whatever reason he sleeps much better, so I don’t question it and just go with it.   He cracks us up daily with his comments and observations on life.

Katie – Katie started piano lessons this summer.  She is picking it up and I think she really likes it.   She is nervous about school starting, but my fingers are crossed that this year she will open up at least a little bit with her classmates.

Abby – Abby is maturing so much…. It blows my mind that I am starting to see little snips of time when she totally acts like a mature person!   She loves her brothers, fights to the death with her sister and loves to talk!    She tells many, very detailed stories on a regular basis!

Wish us luck with the upcoming school year, and we wish the same to you!!

Rain Rain…..

It’s Sunday morning and I am watching it rain outside, again….. that is totally the theme for this summer… Rain, Rain, Rain!

Today we were suppose to take the kids to a pool to swim and we woke up to rain and it is not looking promising that it is going to clear up anytime soon today.  Disappointment abounds in this house right now.

I told Jake that his sisters were sure upset because they want to go swimming and we can’t because of the rain.  He responded, “I know what to do!  I will blow this rain right out of here!” then proceeded to walk up to the window and blow as hard as he could.   He shrugged his shoulders, turned around to me and said “Hm, I guess that didn’t work.”    :-)

Despite the rain, I think we are making the most out of our summer.  We have been on 3 camping trips already, Big Splash for an overnight trip, Six Flags for a day trip (without the boys) and been swimming in the pond a couple of times.  Friday evening we even had our friends over to hang out and have a few drinks.   So all in all a great summer.

Kyle is still in speech and we are hearing new words on a regular basis, but still not putting words together or saying things that other people can understand easily.    But he will get there, slowly but surely.     The girls are not ready to see summer come to an end and a new school year start, but Jake sure is.  At least 4 times a week he asks if ti is time for school to start yet!

That’s all I know on this dreary Sunday morning!

French Lick – Big Splash – 2015

Sunday morning (in early June) we got up and got dressed, ate breakfast and hopped in the van for the drive to French Lick, Indiana.   We got on the road even a little earlier than we had hoped too.   The ride was pretty uneventful.  Lots of questions, little bit of whining, etc.    We made one stop in a no name town for Jason to use the restroom and get a drink.  I had him ask the gal in the gas station where the city park was so that the kids could stretch their legs, as we had been driving for a couple of hours.   The clerk laughed at him and said “in this town?” so we pulled over on a side road by the fairground barns and let the kids get out of the car and walk around for a couple of minutes.  We piled back in and headed back down the road.   The last part of the trip was very curvy roads and lots of hills, but was very pretty country.   We stopped again at the last town before French Lick for Katie to use the bathroom.

We finally arrived in French Lick and drove straight to the train museum, I was expecting this to be Kyle’s favorite part of the trip…. But I was wrong…. Too much stuff that he could not get into, onto, or touch and he just basically freaked out the entire time we were there.   I took the 3 older kids to the bathroom while Jason handled the screamer; in there Jake managed to get LOTS of hand soap IN his eyes – so I had to deal with my own screaming mess.  By this point I was ready to get away from the stares of the other people and out of the heat, it was hot and humid.  We headed for the McDonalds in town (knowing that chicken nuggets – ALWAYS calm Kyle down) and went in.   The place was packed, only one open table and it was a table for 4 people.   We made it work, with Kyle on my lap.  We got our bellies full and then headed out to go to the water park.  As we left the very crowded restaurant, Jake was sure to tell everyone we saw “Goodbye!  See you later! I am going to the pool park now!”

We went to the Big Splash hotel and indoor water park.   We got there several hours before check in, but they had our room ready so we were able to go right in to get changed and go down to the water park.  Our room had 2 sets of bunk beds and a king size bed in it.  It was a cool setup and I wish more hotels had it for traveling families!     Kyle LOVED the top bunk; I wasn’t such a fan, as he kept leaning over the wall to wave at me!    We all got our swim gear on and headed down to the water park.  It took the kids a bit to get comfortable with the new surroundings, but once they did, they had a great time.  If we would have had  a fit bit on Kyle and Jake I think they would have easily each got a million steps in!!  They were constantly on the go running up the play structure to go down the water slides or to play with the water features.  Jake made friends with every kid playing and Kyle would drag Jason and I up to the slides and go down with us – covering his eyes with his hands each time!   The girls’ favorite part was swimming in the outdoor pool.     After swimming a few hours on Sunday afternoon, taking a break for the boys to nap in the hotel room and eating pizza in the room and the n going back down to the water park for a while – we lured the kids out of the water park with the promise of ice cream.  We went to the local DQ and waited in line for an eternity to get the ice cream, luckily we opted for the drive thru and had the DVD player to keep the kids occupied.  We ate our ice cream (or threw it on the ground, if you are Kyle) and then went to sleep.


Monday morning we got up and went down for breakfast and then back up to the room to pack up. Loaded up the car and then went back to the water park for another couple hours.  Kyle was shot after the first 45 minutes and just cried after that.  So I sat down in a chair with him and he actually fell asleep in my arms.  I held him for 30 minutes while everyone played and then decided it was time to get going.   We changed into dry clothes and then headed to DQ for lunch.   After that we got back in the car for the long ride home.  The ride home was very uneventful.  The kids couldn’t have been better!  No whining or complaining or crying!   Kyle was the only one awake in the back for quite some time, and he made it until we were about 10 minutes from home and then conked out.

Once home we got unpacked and laundry started then went out and played softball out in the yard with the girls.   Jake came out about 45 minutes later and wanted to try his hand at T ball – that was the biggest laugh I have got for a while, as he would scream “WHACK IT!” and hit the ball off the tee with all his might, and a little jump-spin for good measure.

Overall it was a great trip and I am glad we have made our maiden voyage with the boys and know that staying in a hotel room with them won’t be completely miserable!

PS – 4 weeks later, Jake still asks me to check him on regular basis to see if he is big enough for the red slide yet… he will ask – drink a glass of milk and ask for me to check him again 2 minutes later so that we can see if that milk helped him get big enough for the RED slide at the “Pool Park.”  (42 inches is his goal!)


One of our “summer bucket list” items this year was to camp 1 time a month – May – October.  So far we have made good on the promise, with July looking promising too (reservations are already made!).

Our first trip out in May was to Wolf Creek just our family of 6.   We originally planned to go with other families to Ramsey, but at the last minute they all had to back out and the forecast was for rain the entire weekend…. so we changed our mind to Wolf Creek and got a concrete site next to the park.   The location as excellent, as Jake and Kyle could go play at the park and we could stay at camp and see them the entire time.   Because we were on concrete, we could walk out of the camper barefoot, and sit around without worrying about mud, bugs, etc.  I actually kind of liked that part a lot, although it didn’t feel like “real camping.”     We realized that the girls prefer to be with other families after the 60th time we heard “I’m bored.”   We ended up getting decent weather that weekend and it was a good first trip out for the year.

This past weekend we went to Charley Brown Park in Flora.   It was the first time we had ever been there.   The Lawrence family got a new camper, so they were ready to go along so they could try it out.   Again the forecast was calling for a good chance of rain and storms the entire weekend, but again we lucked out!   We only got a little rain and it was in the evening and through the night (oh and when were cleaning out the camper at home… )  The campground is in the city park, so the playground was great compared to the state park campgrounds.   It also had a pool and a train that you could ride on.  The kids really enjoyed it.   Jill and I decided it felt like we were camping in some ones yard, as it didn’t have the “campground” feel to it.   The kids had a great time and LOVED having an entire weekend to play with their cousins.   Baby Weston couldn’t have been better and besides Wyatt’s kitten that was along, the kids couldn’t have been better.  Katie did have her first major bike wreck and road rash, but thankfully she was over it pretty quickly.   We have had a good start to our 2015 camping season and I hope that it continues!!  Stay tuned for more!!!  :-)

Camping 2015 Lawrence and Thoele Familes

Camping 2015 Lawrence and Thoele Familes

I really thought I was getting a good picture of our group with my camera and self timer, the top picture was me testing the timer and making sure that it was pointed in the right direction before Jill and I jumped in….. apparently I didn’t have it right, as I had to use both pictures to get all of us in the group!!

Part of the same group from a  2009 camping trip.... (Lawrences had a neighbor with them that year)  Katie and I were missing from the photo.

Part of the same group from a 2009 camping trip…. (Lawrences had a neighbor with them that year) Katie and I were missing from the photo.

More random pictures of the weekend – apparently Jason is a baby whisperer!  ;-)

The post where I just ramble!

Spring is more than half over and summer is just around the corner, unbelievable!     The kids just keep growing and changing and Jason and I just keep chasing our tails in circles, or so it seems!

I am so very glad for the end of the school year.  Katie and homework make for some LONG evenings on occasion.  85% of the time she does her homework with little to no coaxing, but that 15% of the time that she decides she doesn’t want to do it – YIKES!    Abby is glad to get a later bedtime (first summer ever we have allowed her to stay up late on a regular basis, even during the week, with the agreement she can’t be a grouch in the mornings when it is time to get up!) and to not be forced to read every night.   Jake and Kyle are happy to have their sisters at daycare and to get to have “camp outs” in their room some nights when the girls sleep on their floor.

So far this spring we have already been able to go camping 1 time (with more trips planned!!), have hit the park several times, been to several of Abby’s softball games, and spent lots of time outside in the yard.   Jason and I are getting little tastes of “big kids” here and there when Kyle gets the urge to go and play with his siblings and not beg us to go with him everywhere.  When that happens, it is a moment to be celebrated (like by sitting down in the lawn chair and having a drink!)  :-)

Kyle started speech back in March and is doing well.  He picks up new sounds every day.   He is at the point where he knows exactly what he wants, but doesn’t know how to communicate it to us and so there are lots of tantrums and fits until we figure out what he wants.   It leads to some frustrating moments for him and us.   I will be so glad when he has his speech mastered and can tell us outright what he wants.   He is all boy, every time we see a tractor, car, truck, van, anything with a steering wheel, he wants to be in it “driving.”    He runs everywhere he goes and falls down a lot, his legs are just bruises on top of bruises from all the wipe outs.  He could care less though; he just hops up and keeps going.  He gives me a heart attack each time we go to the park because he goes to the top deck of the playground equipment and runs straight for the openings that are for the big kids to use to climb up them…. I really think one of this days he may just jump, just to see what happens!  :-/may2015

Kyle is still is a picky eater and prefers lots of fresh fruits and very little else, with the exception of breakfast food, that he loves!  We moved him out of his own room and in with Jacob about a month ago.  We moved the crib in, so he is still caged.   It takes him quite a while to settle down and go to sleep, but I think Jake likes having him in there.    I have converted his old room into the office/homework room, and I think I am really going to like that.

Jake still is having trouble sleeping in his own bed all night.  He wants me or Jason either in the room or to be in our bed.   I waffle between feeling like he HAS to stay in his bed and the fact that he is only little once and if he wants to sleep with us once in a while, as long as he isn’t still doing it in high school, what’s it going to hurt?   He talks NON stop, he has an opinion on everything and most of what he says cracks us up on a daily basis.   This weekend we were eating lunch and he always wants his food cooled by me blowing on it.  I said that my food was too hot too and he said “Mom, let dad poo on your food! That will help!”   Of course Daddy and the girls got a HUGE kick out of that and it was repeated at least 50 times during the meal! :-) He and Kyle have been attending Abby’s softball games so far this year.  The games are 1 ½ hours long, but the boys usually don’t stay much more than an hour.   We bring  the ipods along and let them play those, it  keeps Jake occupied and quiet,  but doesn’t work for Kyle.  So to keep Kyle in his seat I pack LOTS of food and just keep feeding him, it usually works for about 25 minutes before he is up and running and on the lookout for trouble.

Back in April we celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Dad’s death.  The day was harder than I thought it would be, but I made it through.  I got several texts and emails from good friends and even had beautiful flowers delivered to me at work by a very thoughtful friend.   I miss dad like crazy,  I think about him daily and sometimes out of the blue the missing him hits me like a ton of bricks, but I know he is pain free and in a better place now, so that gives me comfort.   The girls and I planted some trees and shrubs this past week, I told them the story of how I would try to help Dad plant things when I was younger, always wanting to use the shovel (like they were begging too) and he would let me try, but I was never strong enough to dig a very deep hole.  I explained that whatever dad planted grew, he had a wonderful green thumb, so we sent a little request up to him while I was planting, that he helped my plants to grow and not die…… we will see if it helps!  :-)

We have a busy weekend coming up with 3 different places to be over the course of the weekend and then a week of work and then family vacation!  First time we are taking all 6 of us off on vacation and staying in a hotel room!!   I am curious to see how this all goes down!


I took the boys for what feels like their annual hair cuts, although in reality, it is more like their quarterly haircut.  I don’t take them often because Kyle HATES having his hair cut.  He literally screams and wiggles through the entire process.  It is exhausting for me and my niece Megan who is doing the cutting.    I am hopeful that a year from now Kyle will sit as well as Jake does now, time will tell.  I am amazed at how different the boys always look post hair cut.   Tonight I took before and after pictures:

Hair Cuts

(I have no idea what happened to Kyle’s nose between the before and after picture.  And as you can tell, they are both still working on a “real” smile for picture purposes.)

Jason and I were sitting here this evening looking at this picture and talking about how different they look with their short hair and discussing why so many people question if they are twins.  To us, they look nothing alike.  But it seems like every time we have them out together we get asked at least 1 time, are they twins?  Maybe it is because they are pretty close in height or maybe because I have a slight obsession with dressing them alike…… :-)

In other brother news…. Jake has requested that Kyle’s bed be moved into his room, so he doesn’t have to sleep alone (with the gorillas… which he says only show up in the middle of the night) anymore.   I told him we could possibly try it and see how it goes, but if Kyle has a hard time sleeping in his room, we were going to move him back to his bedroom.  So cross your fingers for us, that it works out!!!

No Fooling.

If you ever want to pull a practical joke on April’s Fool’s day that you KNOW will be taken seriously…. make a three year old your victim!  :-)

Yesterday the girls were in the back room getting ready for school and putting on their shoes and checking back packs and started singing “Happy Birthday to you… you live in a zoo, you smell like a monkey and you look like one too…”   They were singing it to no one in particular, but just because it is a funny song.   I was walking through the room with Jake to get to the back door to leave.  So I shouted “Happy Birthday!!”   Jake looked up at me and then at his sisters singing and said “Is it my birthday??  It’s my birthday!  Yea!! My Birthday!!!”  with a HUGE smile on his face.

I immediately started laughing because it was not my intentions, at all, to trick him!  I quickly explained that it was NOT his birthday and sent him out to the garage, while the girls roared with laughter and giggles because they had tricked their brother (unintentionally).

Jason helped Jake get in the van and said, “You know Jake, it is not your birthday today.”   Jake looked at him and replied “I know, I know, I know!”  (in his disgusted, annoyed voice that he has perfected already at the ripe age of 3.)   :-)

3 year old Preschool – JT

I registered Jake for preschool this week….. I don’t even understand how he got this old without me realizing it.   I took him to the preschool screening last week and he did fine in everything, but was a little low in fine motor skills.   He also flunked his hearing test, so we have to have that followed up with his pediatrician sometime.

I was on the fence for sending him to preschool this coming year, because he will not be able to go to kindergarten for 2 more years.   But after much internal debate and discussions with Jason, we decided to send him.    Jacob is constantly asking us when he can go to school, so I think he is ready.   He is VERY excited about the idea of school.   I told him that he gets to go to school next fall and shortly after he asked me if there would be toys at preschool.   I told him that there would be, which seemed to make him happy.  So now every night before he falls asleep, he declares the same statement: “There will be 4 playgrounds, and a bounce house and a Chucky Cheese at my school!”  (It all stems from his birthday trip to Chuck E Cheese last year; he has spoken about Chuck E Cheese EVERYDAY since then….)   Jake is also pumped that one of his friends from daycare and his cousin will be in his class.  And of course, Abby and Katie are excited about the idea of Jake in their school a couple days a week!

Tonight at bedtime

Jake: “Mommy, can I go to school now?”

Me: “Oh buddy, you have to wait a few more months?”

Jake: “Why?”

Me: “Because that is just how it works.”

Jake: “Okay, we will count to 10!  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11!!  Now we go to school!!”

It may be a long 5 months until preschool starts! :-)


Lent 2015 – Electronic and Social Media Free

We are having another “electronic free” lent in the Thoele house.   All the kids devices (kindles, ipods, etc) were put up.  Jason and I still have our iphones, but the only time the kids get to touch them is on the couple times were at the doctors office and I needed to distract the boys in the waiting room.  It was high time to get the electronics put away, as we were to the point that the kids were not at home without a Kindle Fire or Ipod in their hands.   The boys would fight over them and it was just a constant source of fights and distress.

So how are the kids doing with their Lenten sacrifices this year?   Let’s see….. Abby and Katie are pretty okay about it and have only asked for our phones on a couple of occasions when they really want to listen to Pandora.    Jake on the other hand, asks EVERY chance he gets if he can have an ipod or Kindle and tries to steal our phones when he sees them laying within his reach…. he just doesn’t “get it.”  But that is to be expected for a 3 year old.  Kyle seems unaware that we have no electronics in the house, kind of how Jake acted last year about it.   In addition the girls are bringing home Lenten sacrifices that are suggested at school and doing most of those.

What about Mom and Dad — since I have to use an iphone on a regular basis for work, I gave up social media (facebook and instagram.)   I am missing it a little bit, but not terribly.  It is nice to have the extra time and I really do think it is a bit less stressful when I am not looking at them on a regular basis.  ((And for all of you worried about me cheating with Facebook….. WordPresses posts automatically without me getting into Facebook, so I am not violating any Lenten promises!))  :-)

Jason gave up chocolate, because he could care a less about electronics and cares even LESS about social media, which is a major sacrifice for him.  He loves his chocolate!

The end of Lent is very near (it’s Palm Sunday already!) and so I am pretty sure we will all make it through to the end again this year!!

Kyle – Early Intervention – Speech

For the record books…..

Kyle started speech therapy today.  He will have the same routine (and therapists) that Jake had, 1 hour a week of speech and 1 hour a week of developmental therapy.    Our therapists are AWESOME, and were so absolutely great with Jake, that I requested them again.   I got word that Kyle did excellent for his first session, so fingers are crossed it continues to go well!

At this point Kyle knows several more sounds than Jake had at this age, but no actual words are used.   He will sometimes say something that sounds like a word, but will never repeat it so we can confirm it was a word and not just an accident that sounded like the word! :-)    I will be so excited when he can talk, and I am just not guessing what he wants/needs, which is a very frustrating task as he gets older and more opinionated about what he wants.

I hope the therapists are ready for Kyle, they thought Jake was a character, but Kyle has him beat when it comes to getting into mischief and trouble.   Exhibit A:


(Marker, not food)

Best of Luck Karen and Julie……..and don’t turn your back on him!  :-)