September 25, 2014

Family Pictures

It's a bit embarrassing to admit but we've not taken the opportunity for family pictures (not even for our wedding)...and after 16 years finally decided that it was time. :-) Especially since Ayla is five and we are not getting any younger.
Jen Schow Photography is AMAZING!
Jen holds a special place in our hearts as she also donated professional pictures of our angel daughter Zoey during her passing and donated her talents and time to photograph Ayla for a picture which now hang inside the St. Luke's NICU 'Wall of Hope'. 
Below are a few of our favorites...there were so many it was difficult to choose! 

September 13, 2014

Wisconsin Trip- 4th annual Batz reunion

In mid-August we ventured to Wisconsin for a week to visit family and have a bit of fun!
I forget how beautiful and green Wisconsin is...and how many bugs try to eat you and carry away your children :-) 

There is something soothing and "feels like home" when driving into the country with views of gently rolling hills, towering trees, endless crops, homestead farms, silos and rays of sunshine peeking beneath the blue cloudy skies....

 Ayla was sooo happy when we arrived at the Sher-Den Farm in Bloomer. Sher-Den is short for "Sherry & Dennis" which is what my dad and Sherry have named their little slice of heaven in the country. We were lucky enough to crash their farm for the week and enjoy some much needed R & R. 
 A few of my favorite pictures and memories from our time there:
Chinese Dinner Buffet with the fam! and to which dad sneakily paid for.....

Camping at Sherwood Forest for the weekend and the opportunity to visit with Grandma Ethel Batz, Aunt Suzie, Linda and Cousin Shelley which we haven't seen in a very long time. 
Below is a siblings picture with dad and grandma (sans Barry who was working in Alaska and couldn't make it out for the party). 
 Beautiful Irvine Park...the entire area is green like this....of course it rains frequently....and the mosquitos and humidity but the view! 
 Picture with dad...he's only getting younger :-) 
 ...and a few of my crazy sisters! I love how we all have the same smile. 
 At the park in Eau Claire goofing around! 
 Relaxing at tranquil Round Lake with Ayla and of the most beautiful days during the week (not raining or about-to-rain). 

Heart-failure picture #1
 Heart- Failure Picture #2
 The story behind Ryan-on-the-roof in the pictures above: 
Ryan is NOT the type to simply sit and relax and enjoy doing nothing- he must be moving or working or doing something productive. Fittingly, my father's farm always needs work so Ryan happily volunteered to assist. 
Trim needs paint? No problem! Nasty, vile wood bees living in your roof and under the siding? He'll teach them to fear caulk and bee spray....sort of. That is where the heart-failure pictures come in.
Ryan climbed atop this crazy-high ladder to re-attach some trim and in the process, annoyed some bees happily living inside the roof. As a result, he was stung several times on the head, chest and arms before making a hasty escape down the ladder (soooo glad he didn't fall!). If it were me on that ladder getting attacked by bees, I would have totally screamed like a girl and promptly fallen off the ladder, just sayin'. But cool-as-a-cucumber-Ryan merely shrugged it off and he and dad continued to eradicate bees and their nests from other farm equipment.
About 30 minutes later I noticed Ryan was extremely red in the face, his eyes were bloodshot and what raised concern was....his wheezing. 

We decided to take Ryan into the Emergency Room when he began coughing and wheezing louder several minutes later. It was about a 20 minute drive to the hospital and thankfully, my sisters were at the farm and offered to stay and watch Ayla while dad and I drove Ryan into town. Stupid bees! A few hours later after an Epi Shot, Breathing Treatment, Steroids, and Benadryl his face returned to normal and he was released. Ryan is not allergic to bees but because he was stung several times upon the head and chest area, the poison concentrated to the airways which caused the swelling and difficulty breathing. STUPID BEES!!! They messed with the wrong Batz Girl!
Thankfully that was all the negative excitement during the trip. Whew!    
My dad also runs a pie delivery route a few days during the week and Ryan enjoyed accompanying him on the route. I enjoyed visiting with Sherry and chasing Ayla around outside while dad and Ryan were away. It was great to relax and watch Ayla explore and enjoy the animals on the farm.  

Below: more fun at the park!   

At the end of the reunion Ryan was gifted with a Honey Bear in honor of his narrow escape- quite funny! 
 A Batz-family tradition is a cheeto-eating contest...silly and fun and who doesn't love imitation cheesy puff balls?! The object is to try and stuff as many cheesy puffs into your mouth without choking or spitting them out. Every year we crown a new winner :-) 

 We camped at Sherwood Forest at the Wisconsin Dells and enjoyed spending time together goofing around, eating, visiting and hosting an "Ugly Pajama Contest".
Below, Ellie is testing dad's strength with a piggy-back ride. Go grandpa!  
 We did lots of lounging and visiting = awesome! 
Below: lazing at Justine's house with Josie and Justine.
 The contestants for the 'Ugly Pajama' Contest.....starring 'ugly faces' to match! 
and our semi-normal faces (BOR-ING)! 
 ...and the winners of the adult Ugly PJ's are: Seth, Heidi and Carrie. 
 I neglected to capture many pictures of Ryan and I (too many cute ones of Ayla of course!) at the Kalahari Water Park but did manage to capture Amy and Tim striding around the indoor section...go Havels! 
Kalahari was a blast and Ryan and I spent most of our time entertaining Ayla. However, my sisters kidnapped Ayla for a bit and took her along the lazy river and into the wave pool so we could have some fun. It was an awesome Friday! 

The next day we decided to explore The Dells a bit more and toured the 'Upside-down Whitehouse' exhibit, ate ice cream and raced go-karts. There were miles of water parks and theme parks and the people-watching is always a fave! 

We had a blast and sadly, time seems to fly when having fun. Before we knew it, the week had ended and it was time to depart.
Good-bye for now WI- see you soon! 

July 30, 2014

Home Improvements: Part I

It's been a busy year in keeping-up with Ayla and our crazy schedules and we realized: our home is almost 16-years old already! 

(See Ayla's blog here for the latest updates in Adventures-in-Ayla-Land)

What began as a temporary 'starter home' for us newlyweds has become a permanent residence and we cannot imagine moving. We've made many small home-improvements and upgrades throughout the years that our little home has become quite comfortable and "customized" to fit our needs. 

We noticed that the outside needed a bit of care and set about the plans for: new roof, new lights, new paint and new fence.   
BEFORE Picture: this picture has the new roof and shingles already but the rock along the sides of the garage is removed and the exterior paint is the original all-boring-white.  
 New rock which provided a bit of a boost for the exterior. 
Below:  Ryan and Jake laying down the new shingles. Those guys worked HARD in the heat and were able to finish the new roof within a few days. Impressive! 

Almost finished painting:

AFTER: The house and shed are three colors: brown, cream and with black accents which provides a more updated look and we are pleased with the results. 

Ryan worked hard to roof and paint the house and am blessed that he has the talents and resources to accomplish home projects that would otherwise, be quite costly. He is an awesome all-around handy-man! 

The next summer project: new fence and possibly, a covered porch onto the back of the house. We'll get the fence finished first.....

During the winter months we will work on updating some of the interior rooms- starting with the bathrooms. 
Busy hands keep us out of trouble!   

Also, a family picture- amazing! We haven't had a family picture in....years. Another goal for this year: professional family photos.