6th Annual Trip

For our 6th annual trip with the Maurer family, we spent the weekend in Kansas City.  We are nearing (if we haven’t already reached it) the point when we will need to do some repeat locations, but this year was a new spot for us again.  We all enjoy spending time together and it’s been such a special treat to watch our children grow up together.

We usually spend a fair amount of time at the hotel just talking and playing.  We also all like parks and legos, so we fit in both of those activities this year.  A hike is often on all of our lists to do, but it was way too hot to spend much time outside that weekend.  We spent Friday night grabbing dinner out and playing at the hotel, Saturday out and about and Sunday back at the hotel before going our separate ways.

Here are some shots from around the hotel, including a few selfies the kids took (as requested) from their explorations around the hotel on their own.  Favorite memories include watching various plays of Piggie and Gerald books, watching all the kids try to catch the football with their elbows, sending messages/emojis/pictures with Ellie (mostly Mike and Ellie/Adam), and how sweet those girls are to my boys who want to show them their paint-by-sticker books and Legos.  Lots and lots of laughter!

Mute the video if you don’t want to hear my crazy loud laugh:

Pics from our dinners out:

Pics from the park, Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium:

All too soon it was time to say goodbye.  The kids hugged too quickly, so we missed any cute pics of that…but I snapped a couple of Mikey saying goodbye to some of his favorite girls!  We parents left exhausted, having stayed up until midnight or WAY later both evenings we had together.  We sure enjoyed spending time with this crew again!

Quick throwback of our group from just last summer and a link to all the previous years:


Celebrating with Cass and Adam

Every year we go back to Wisconsin for Christmas we make sure to find time to spend with Cass and Adam and their family.  We usually do something with the whole family during the day and then we go on a double date that evening.  This year, the only shift in that plan was that Mike ended up being swamped with work and needed to opt out of the day date.  So, I took the boys to their home and we enjoyed a few hours of playing and eating dinner together.

The kids have a lovely friendship.  They played and played as if this was something they do all the time.  There was very little hesitancy this time around and it was such a treat for us to see their home and to play with their toys.

Later that evening, Mike joined us (after we got the kiddos in bed) and we enjoyed our annual double date.  This was our third year in a row going to the same restaurant/bar – why mess with something so fun??  We SO enjoy their company!


Thanks for maintaining such a great friendship over the years, guys!  We are blessed by your friendship and look forward to many more years of meeting up for dinner and late-night laughing!


And now, here is the post about our long weekend trip with the Maurer family.


We met up with them in the afternoon on Friday.  Ethan wanted to surprise them, so he hid behind a pillar until they were close.  We spent some time playing at the hotel until Mike got there.  Then we went out for a yummy dinner walking distance from our hotel.  The kids never missed a beat – they began playing right away!

After dinner we headed to Minnehaha Falls.  We walked around a bit, made a little campsite and played at the park.

We read books together that evening before bed, as usual, and then the kiddos slept while the adults stayed up chatting late into the evening.



We began our day with breakfast at the hotel.

Then we headed out for a little hike at the wildlife refuge nearby.  It was a great spot and a really fun visitors center.  The kiddos (mostly the girls) did a little play for us during our hike.

After all of that fun, we had lunch at the Mall of America and spent the rest of the evening there.  The Maurer family had been before and had some favorite rides and great suggestions for us.  Our boys were a little more timid about rides, but they had an awesome time!  Milestone alert: the boys rode their first roller coasters (neither were big fans, but we were glad they gave it a go!).

We also played mini golf at the mall that evening and had dinner there.

The evening went much like the night before…stories and bed for the kids, stay up late for the adults.



Another yummy breakfast at the hotel to start our day.


We spent a pretty chilly morning at Lake Calhoun playing frisbee, doing a little workout, building a cabin (AKA cabinet), and climbing trees.  A couple of us just sat and chatted, too. =)

After a late lunch at the Mall of America, we bowled a round (another milestone for our boys) before saying our goodbyes.

The Cleve Crew stuck around for a little more bowling and then flew home that evening. We arrived at our home about an hour after the Maurer clan finished their drive.  Awesome!

Thanks for another great trip!!  We loved it!

Annual Trip!

We are now officially five years into a wonderful tradition that I begged to have created: a long weekend trip with the Maurer clan.  We started this back in 2013 with a meet-us-in-the-middle trip to Louisville, KY.  In 2014, we headed to Indianapolis.  We celebrated the 4th of July together in 2015 in Nashville.  Last year, we were in Omaha.  And for the big 5 year trip, we spent the long weekend together in Minneapolis.

We’ve had a whole lot of fun over the years and are so thankful for this family.  We have had approximately two “fights” between our children (I’m rounding up…I can’t even think of anything that really would qualify as a fight) and maybe one we’re-super-tired/hungry meltdown (again, nothing that stands out…but it seems like it had to happen sometime when we were together) and hundreds of sweet moments captured in our hearts, if not also on camera.  More than anything else, there have been laughs and fun memories.

Here’s a review of the past 5 years (because it’s fun to see those kiddos growing up together) –

I’ll do a separate post on the actual 5 year annual trip.  If we had been on our game in year one, we would have come up with some sort of tradition to go along with our trips… like incredible matching t-shirts or postcard souvenirs or something.  Alas, we just take loads of pictures and have a good time. =D

Catching up…

I want to do a separate post about the last week of homeschool and another one highlighting my parents’ visit, but for now I wanted to do a quick catching up post of some happenings over the past couple of weeks:

Micah finishing off a bottle of fish oil. =D


Silly boys outside of Target posing for a picture for Hana and Ellie:


Magnatile creations:

We watched cousin Matthew perform in The Little Mermaid.  He did a great job playing King Triton!  Neither boy is interested in being in plays in front of that many people, but E wondered if his book might someday be made into a play…


Mike was the substitute coach for Ethan’s soccer game a couple weekends ago.  He’s great with those kids and E was really happy to have his dad out there with him.  I don’t ever get good shots of the actual game, but I did snap this one during practice and one of Micah watching E’s practice.

Mother’s Day was a fun celebration for me.  I didn’t make a meal all day and got lots of hugs, kisses and flowers from my doting guys! =D  We walked around REI after lunch out at one of our fav places downtown.  The last pic is of Micah and me “camping” in our tent at REI.

Next up…posts about ending the school year and my parents’ visit!

Our hangout with the Maurer clan

One added bonus that we especially love about going back to Wisconsin is that we get to see this family.  We love spending time with them and always make it a priority to schedule something.  

We met up as families (which included Adam’s brother, Tony) for supper at a local Italian place. The kids had a great time together – especially Hana and Ethan. They laughed and joked the whole night – so sweet! 

That night after getting the kids all tucked in – we headed out again just as couples for our annual double-date!  They are so much fun to be with and we are thankful to have been double dating with them for over 13 years now!! 

Celebrating Micah!

Micah John turned 5 years old last weekend.  This means two especially exciting things for him: #1) he can officially chew gum! (that’s just a Cleve Crew rule) and #2) he can officially play Dart Warz!

The day before his 5th birthday was another homeschool day at Dart Warz, so we headed over there with Aunt Jennie to play.  Our cousins joined us, too!  At first Micah wasn’t interested in playing, but eventually he decided it would be fun.  He absolutely enjoyed himself out there!  It was particularly fun to have Aunt Jen to aim at the whole time. =D

His actual birthday fell on the same day as the Global Bizarre (a post about that is on its way shortly), so he spent the day with Daddio before celebrating a bit with all of us that evening.  He opened a present from Jen and J before the three of us headed out and then opened one on Skype from Grandma Cleve with Daddio.  He was pretty pumped up about both gifts!

That evening we went out for an early dinner at Mod Market after the Global Bizarre.  Unfortunately, Ethan started feeling sick when we were finishing up at the sale and was pretty miserable for the rest of that evening.  He even fell asleep at the restaurant and then threw up in the car on the way home.  He has an incredibly sweet heart and desperately wanted to watch Micah open his gifts that evening, so we moved the festivities into his room where we took a couple breaks for some more throwing up. =/  Thankfully, Micah was over-joyed with all of the generous gifts and kept us all entertained!

Check out his excitement with his remote control dragon!

The following morning I made Belgian waffles for breakfast (even though Ethan was still a bit sick and couldn’t enjoy them with us).  And we celebrated with lunch and birthday cake with cousins that afternoon.

Micah also got these adorable videos to celebrate his birthday:

Micah is growing so much, physically and otherwise.  In fact, he has been having a lot of growing pains in the more recent weeks.  He’s wearing mostly 5T now, but I don’t have any other measurements recorded for this milestone quite yet.  The thing that stands out the most about Micah is his thoughtful, self-less heart.  He will always give away bites of his special treats (and this boy LOVES special treats!), is the first to remind me to buy granola bars for homeless people, would like to give away toys and the guest bedroom to people in need, shares most things with his brother or anyone else, and is the first to offer to pray at every meal (and usually includes something thoughtful about the people around the table or asks for someone to be healed).  I’ve learned so much as his mama.  He blesses me daily and I am thankful for him!