Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas catch-up!

Trying to sum up our Christmas events in a short little blog entry seems impossible! We had so much fun everywhere we went. It started in West Bend on the Friday before Christmas. We arrived around 4pm. Austin and Ellie both got Santa presents right away which was a big hit, especially with Austin. All of Rob’s brothers and sisters were able to make it home so that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Lynne had to stay back with Isaac because both were feeling under the weather and Lynne actually had Strep. So, we’ll have to catch up with them another time but appreciated her thoughtfulness in not passing on anything contagious! We did get to meet our new niece, Claire, who is every bit as cute as we thought she would be….perhaps more. Here’s the family picture (minus Lynne and Isaac).

We drove home Sunday and got caught up in a bit of a snow storm/blizzard. That wasn’t too great but Rob handled it smoothly while I took a nap in the back (I just wanted to distribute the weight in the vehicle for maximum control). For the record, I did do the driving on the way there. I usually offer to drive about 2 or 3 times a year just to keep Rob guessing. I don’t remember much of the time between Sunday night and Tuesday but I’m sure it involved eating leftovers from our trip and Christmas movies. Monday night we put out cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolph which left Austin bawling on the way to bed because Santa was going to eat HIS cookies. But, Santa was back in Austin’s good graces on Tuesday morning when he saw all the presents. Christmas is a whole new adventure now that Austin understands how it works. Even yesterday he said “Open presents Mommy!” Like he is going to wake up any ol’ day of the week and have a million presents to open.

Tuesday afternoon we headed to my parents house. Craziness ensued. Austin lives to play with his cousins Jake and Maddie. He even had some fun with Katelyn towards the end. I’m sure Ashley and Ellie will join in the fun next year. Ashley might be the most calm baby I have ever met. She is just content no matter where she is. That is a foreign idea in our house. Here is the Smith family picture:

We all managed to gorge ourselves with even more food and we rolled home around 7pm. Just in time for the kids to go to bed and Rob and I to collapse. For some reason this year Christmas has just worn us out! We have already decided that we are looking forward to our kids being a bit older and more self-sufficient and then we can enjoy the holidays more ourselves, maybe take a few naps, and not think about when the last time Austin went to the bathroom was. We hope you all had a great holiday and have a safe New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Frosty chooses Case IH

For whatever reason, one of the things I've enjoyed most about staying home is watching Austin play. He is a busy little boy, that's for sure, and I definitely get tired of the constant dialogue he insists we have between Lightning McQueen, Luigi and Guido (we don't actually have any of these cars, but he improvises with other matchbox cars). But, he also has a great imagination and I love to watch it come out when we're playing. We don't watch much TV during the day. It was kind of a rule to myself when I took this new job that I wouldn't rely on the TV to entertain us. So, there is no TV between 8 and 5. He gets to watch a cartoon while he wakes up a bit more on the couch, but then it gets turned off. There are definitely days when I break my own rule for sanity's sake, but for the most part it stays off. Last night we had a TV treat: Frosty the Snowman came on at 7pm. We were admiring the Christmas tree and discussing Santa's plan of attack when he reaches our house and Austin heard the Frosty the Snowman song in the other room. His face lit up and we raced in that room to watch it. Now, we own this on DVD and have already watched it several times, but for some reason, it's always a bit more exciting when it is actually on TV. So, we started watching it. I'm not sure if you're as familiar with the movie as this household is, but Austin will reenact parts for you in pictures:
First, there was a magician who had a magic hat:

The magician was suppose to pull a rabbit out of his hat but the rabbit wouldn't cooperate so the magician tried to stuff him in the hat:
(that's his dinosaur Sarah being stuffed in the hat like a rabbit)

When he gave up on the hat being magic he tossed it aside. The kids picked it up and put it on their snowman, Frosty. He immediately came to life:
(Austin is clapping and singing here)

But, when he took the hat off, he went back to being just a regular snowman:

(regular snowmen have closed eyes)

That's the best I could do snapping pictures of Austin and his imagination without getting in the way too much. The night also involved "Frosty" dancing through town, riding on a train, and melting. My favorite part of it all is he did this all on his own. Including going upstairs to find the perfect hat for the job.

Stay tuned for Austin's next performance. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brace yourself. This is a long one.

There are only 7 shopping days left until Christmas....are you ready? We just have a few last minute items to purchase and we'll be done. And by "we" I mean "me". The kids and I have done all the holiday shopping during the day. A lot of times that has involved great distractions on my part so Austin doesn't see me put anything under the cart that might be from Santa. I imagine this is the last year it will be so easy.

We got into the holiday spirit even more this weekend. We've been in the spirit since early November but added to it this weekend with a Cargill holiday dinner, a dinner and movie night with some friends, and a visit to Santa.
I don't have much to say about the dinner on Friday other than it was delicious, with great company, and didn't involve the kids so it was a success in my book! Saturday night we invited a few friends over for pizza and Christmas movies. Carrie suggested she make the pizzas from scratch because she recently took some cooking classes and has developed "Mad cooking skills" (that's a direct quote). We took her up on it, and she definitely has some skills.

That's Carrie at the stove. Here's the rest of the group for good measure:

I think Austin was a bit smitten with Catrin (gray sweater and scarf above) because he wasted no time showing off in front of her by hopping on one foot and saying "Ouch ouch ouch!" I think he wanted a little kiss to make it better. Mike has greatly improved on his baby holding skills. We have a picture of him holding Austin that isn't quite so tear free (for them both).

Sunday we went to Nordstrom's at the Mall of America to visit with Santa. He is hands down the best Santa in town. There's a few reasons for that: 1) He wears the real santa suit instead of the overalls and flannel shirt (and of course has the real beard) 2) He is SO nice to the kids and really takes the time to make them comfortable and talk 3) He's free! You take your own pictures. My neighbor recently told me about her trip to a mall where they got in line for Santa and were handed an appointment card to come back at 2pm. 4 hours later! Austin did great! Santa showed up about 15 minutes early and took us all by surprise. Austin walked right up to him. He had a lot of business to cover.
Ellie didn't have any smiles for the camera. This didn't have so much to do with Santa as it did her bottle. She was getting ready to eat when Santa showed up early. So, the bottle was taken away for the picture.
We don't know what Austin talked to Santa was a private conversation. But if you ask him now, he says he asked for a candy cane. Santa delivered early. We got him back in the stroller, unwrapped the candy cane and he had the hook part gone before we could make the 50 foot walk to the mall. He started eating it like a piece of corn on the cob. He had the whole thing devoured in a matter of minutes. Seconds maybe.
Santa has already made a life long friend in Austin. I'm sure the holidays are going to be here just as fast as Austin can polish off a candy cane.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Teeth Coming, Naps Going

All Ellie wanted for Christmas was her two front teeth. Santa delivered them a little early this year. Actually, she's had them for a few weeks now, but this is the first time I've been able to get a photo of them. I know...what a wonderful picture it is. She is so busy chewing on her little gums that I've had a hard time getting my finger in there to take a peek. I was holding the camera with one hand, pulling down her lip with the other, and that left zero hands to protect the camera from my curious little girl. Out of the 10 or so pictures I took, this is the best I have. She has been in good spirits though despite the teeth.

Austin is doing well too. Although, I'm afraid that my threat of Santa Claus watching him has already worn off. It was nice while it lasted. As I write this, he is upstairs "napping". I'm done putting him back in bed and have just resolved to close the door and let him play by himself. The last time I went in there I said, "Austin, what are you doing?" and he said "I'm dancing." complete with a look on his face that said "Duh, mom!" This shouldn't have surprised me given the noise level that is coming from his room. But, until he figures out how to work a doorknob, I still get an hour or two to myself. And you still get an updated blog.

Monday, December 3, 2007

First Video Attempt

The weekend after Thanksgiving Rob took the kids to West Bend to visit his family. I stayed back in a kid free zone. I was sad as they pulled out of the driveway without me but I think by the time I got back in the house I realized the potential the weekend had. I accomplished a lot and Christmas decorations was on the list. I tried to hang the kid-friendly ornaments at Austin's eye level. Here is what we do 8-10 times a day.

He is also learning Christmas songs. His favorites are (including my best translation of what he is singing on the video):

Santa Clause is coming to town:

"Better watch out. Better watch out. Santa Clause is coming to town...mommy" (apparently he is warning me)

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer:

"Rudolph Reindeer had shiny a rose"

Many people will argue it's "like a light bulb" but I learned like a rose in kindergarten and that rhymes better so that is what Austin will learn too (sorry Rob).

Mr. Grinch:

"Mean one! Mr. Grinch"

And he ends the video when I say "Can you say bye?" and he says "Say Bye!" Smart alec!

Friday, November 30, 2007

We need a bigger couch

Rob has complained about it for years. When we first got married we had very little furniture. I think I brought a desk and filing cabinet into the deal and Rob came with a dresser. But otherwise, nothing. So, when we outfitted our first house, price was definitely a factor. We’ve had our blue couch for 7+ years and I think Rob has complained about it for 6 years 345 days. With his height, it was hard to find a couch that met his requirements and my requirements ($). Now Austin has been inviting some friends onto the couch to watch his morning shows with him. It has gotten even more crowded. Furthermore, the blanket, though big enough for two, is just his. Try to sneak your toes under the blanket and your liable to lose them.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Better late than never! We headed to Ankeny for Thanksgiving this year. Unfortunately we (I) forgot the camera so there aren't any pictures to accompany this post. But, we had a wonderful time with Rob's family. Our clan headed down on Wednesday afternoon during what should have been nap time for our children. They apparently did not get that memo. However, I can't complain because they behaved wonderfully. Austin was entertained by the DVD player in our new van. Ellie was entertained by me in the backseat of our new van. She slept a little bit. Austin watched Shrek the Third once, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town twice, Rudolph once, and the start of It's a Wonderful Life (in a failed attempt that a black and white movie might bore him and put him to sleep). We have now learned that if we want him to sleep there shouldn't be a feature film for the drive.

Wednesday night was spent in the family room watching Rob and Dave trying to navigate several cords through a pipe in the wall to a built in cupboard below. It probably wasn't the most entertaining way to spend an evening but we were so tired, it was just nice to relax. Then Doug (Lynne's dad) showed us a "magic trick" involving a rubber band and his left hand. Amazing. Lynne, Taylor, and I all mastered it after about 30 minutes and then Taylor continued to wow us with her new talent for the next 2 hours or more. I'm sure if you are lucky enough to be hanging out with Taylor over Christmas she will be more than eager to show you. Austin got down to the business of exploring all the new toys right away. He found a few "Cars" cars and was set for the rest of the time. Isaac was busy helping the older boys hang up the TV in his Bob the Builder attire. He is pretty handy with a tape measure.

Thursday was a whirlwind of activity as the kids played and everyone else showed up (we missed the Affield's) and the food was prepared. The turkey was scrumptious. And I typically don't care for turkey so that's saying something.

We left at bedtime on Thursday night. No videos to start off this trip but about 30 minutes in Austin was still awake and Rob couldn't resist, so it was another barrage of Christmas classics. Austin finally fell asleep around 9:45. We got home at 10:45 to find our furnace was not working. It was 55 degrees in our house. The kids got packed back in the van and we drove to my parents house to spend the night. Rob and my dad headed back to our house to shut off water and drain pipes. They came back around midnight. My mom and I tossed around the idea of going to a mall to shop at 1am for Black Friday but decided to just call it a night. All in all, it was a fun holiday.

Our family has plenty of things to be thankful for. Family, friends, Rudolph, turkey, and heat to name a few.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Cookie Man

Ever since Shrek was the feature film during one of our movie nights, Austin will turn into "Cookie Man" at any moment. He's referring to "Gingy" the gingerbread man. But, his alter ego pops up in the middle of a meal, while we play dinosaurs and trains ("Oh! Cookie Man has Thomas" -- the cookie man always uses third person when he talks), or when he is sad (he covers his eyes and whimpers "Cookie Man sad"). He also likes to point out other cookie men wherever he sees them. Now that the holidays are here, gingerbread cookie men are out in full force. During a recent trip to Michael's Austin pointed to every single one. We were there a long time. So, I relented and bought him a cookie cutter.
Before nap time we made some dough. Not gingerbread because I didn't have those ingredients on hand and don't really care for the taste; we made chocolate dough. It chilled over nap time and then after supper we made cookie men. My cookie man was quite a help. Okay. Not really. Mostly he ate the flour. Blech! I tried to teach him that he should eat the dough but he preferred the flour. At any rate, we pounded out about 15 cookie men and then I got tired of the process and just made regular cookies after that.

Ellie thought they looked pretty good. They were.

Friday, November 9, 2007


The majority of our days follow a certain routine at the Runchey house. Rob gets up early to go to work and tries to be quiet as he gets ready. He's not successful, but I give him an A for effort. Austin wakes up shortly after him (always too early for me) and Ellie isn't far behind. Austin puts up a bit of a fight when we suggest the first morning trip to the potty. Ellie squeals with glee as she sees her bottle. I'm allowed to play with either "Sarah" the dinosaur or "Percy" the train, but never any of the other dinosaurs or trains. Sometimes we hit the gym, sometimes the library, and sometimes Target. But, in general, our days are routine. So, when changes come along, no matter how small, they feel gigantic to me. Here are a couple we have had.

First, Ellie. Previously she has held the belief that if she is awake she should be: a) held b) played with or c) eating. Nothing else was acceptable and she would let you know. But, after months (seems like years) of trying, she has now decided that the swing is an acceptable alternative to the previous options.

Second, Austin. He often thought that the minute he was bored or sad that he should have a sippy cup. Since I can only play dinosaurs for so long (especially when I am only allowed to be one character), bored popped up a lot. But, since he's potty training we can't have him constantly sipping on liquids, because then he is constantly peeing. So, we have switched to a regular cup. No more sippy.

It was received without much protest and a few spills. Every once in awhile he asks me if his fingers should go swimming. I tell him nothing swims in his cup. His second change....though it's not documented in photos, is that he is wearing pants again. Woohoo! He has been accident free for three days. I don't consider him potty trained quite yet since he still doesn't tell us he has to go, but I think it's a huge improvement. And yes, it's Mardi Gras at our house.

However, with every change that comes my way, there is always a reminder that time isn't going quite as fast as I think.

For example, Austin still thinks this is a good smile for the camera.

Monday, November 5, 2007

50 days and counting

Another weekend come and gone. The majority of it was spent in Cedar Falls, IA at the Runchey reunion. But, I don’t have any pictures to accompany that post yet. Details of our trip will come later. We ended our weekend ready for Christmas.
After we got home and unloaded the gear (it’s amazing how much we brought for 24 hours) and while our kids were still walking around in the daze brought on by the time change (note: Austin now wakes up at 5am again) I pulled out the Sunday paper and took out all the ads. I don’t remember the last time I actually read the paper. No, wait, I do. It was Mother’s Day of 2006. I got coffee and donuts in bed and 2 hours to read the paper without interruptions. It was heaven. But, I digress; I was perusing the ads and came across the Target toy catalog. I handed it off to Austin thinking it would occupy him for 5 minutes. But, instead it turned into a half hour or more of “I like trains. I like robot too. I like boat too. I like Thomas table too.” and so on. Rob took note and jumped right in. Could it be that his son understands what is coming? The most glorious time of year for Rob! So, they laid on the floor together and pointed out all the cool toys and discussed Santa Claus.

Then, Rob thought it was time to teach Austin the basics of Christmas (the Santa Claus version…Mary, Jesus, and Joseph will have to wait another year or two). So, he opened his drawer of Christmas classics, now on DVD, and selected Rudolph. The clay-mation version of course. I argued that this wasn’t going to explain Santa Claus at all because the majority of that movie is about Rudolph and the misfit toys. And, I think I won my case as Austin sat on the bed and squealed “What?!?” about a hundred times. As in “What?! Herby doesn’t like to make toys?” But, never fear, Rob has approximately 15 other Christmas titles that might do the trick. In the meantime, Austin thinks that if he asks me nicely every 2 minutes, and addresses me as Santa instead of Mommy, I will magically produce a Thomas the Tank table with all his favorite characters.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! We started off the morning the usual way. Trains, dinosaurs, trucks...etc. But, this morning I turned on the Today show to wait for the weather forecast and while we waited Tiki Barber came on TV wearing a dragon costume. Austin said "Look! Dragnone!" and so I took the opportunity to ask him (for the 80th time) if he wanted to try on his Dragon costume. Up until this day he has screamed every time I've tried to coax him into it. We were actually planning on admitting defeat and returning it this morning. He could be a farmer. To everyone else, he would just be a boy wearing overalls and a flannel shirt (and a jacket)...but we told him he was going to be a farmer. But, thanks to Tiki he put on the dragon costume and then wouldn't take it off!
For good measure, I threw Ellie in Austin's old chicken costume. She didn't like it anymore than Austin did when I put him in it 2 years ago. Austin sat by her quick so I could snap a picture. By the way, we are potty training right now, that's why his pants are missing. It also explains the blue sucker (lots of bribing going on in our house right now).
After nap time we headed over to our neighbors house. Chrissy put together a little party for the kiddos. Austin and I baked little cakes for him and his friends to decorate.
And, after a pizza party dinner, it was time to trick or treat.
Austin LOVED trick or treating. He ran up to each door and squealed "We're trick or treating!!!" and he even said "Tank You!" after he was handed the candy (most of the time without me prompting him - so that made me happy). I have to remember to teach him what the good candies are to grab for next year. I don't think he took one Snickers. Rookie mistake.
Finally, what Halloween would be complete without a little:
We hope you all enjoyed the night as much as we did!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A new explanation for an old adage

Sleep tight. Dressed to the nines. The bee's knees.

We’ve all heard them. Do you ever stop and think about where the expressions came from? Every once in awhile I take the time to google the sayings and find out (because everything on the internet is true). But, it’s rare that you come across something in your day to day routine that explains one of these sayings. Ellie does just that for me every time she wakes up.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What weekend?

The past weekend was the type of weekend where, come Sunday, you feel like you need a weekend to recover. On Friday afternoon my college roommate, Jessica, and her two children (Liam – 4 and Elleigh – 3) arrived from Iowa City for a fun-filled visit! I hadn’t seen Jessica in 3 years. In fact, the last time I saw her, Elleigh was 6 weeks old. They arrived during my kids’nap time so that worked well and her kids got right down to the business of testing out all the new toys. I was afraid that when Austin woke up he was going to strut around grabbing his toys away from them, but that never happened. Apparently he only likes to intimidate kids smaller than him. They all played wonderfully together! (Phew!) On Saturday we all went to the MN Zoo. I have decided that while the MN Zoo is fantastic and offers the animals as much of a normal habitat that as a zoo can offer, the Como Zoo is much more child friendly. The cages are smaller and the animals are more “traditional”. The kids weren’t all that into the musk ox or the binturong (what is that?). But, the Como Zoo has giraffes and zebras and the types of animals a kid thinks of when he/she hears “zoo”. At any rate, we enjoyed the beautiful day. It had previously been raining pretty solid for the last 6 days so it was as near to perfect as an October day could be. I think the various aquariums were the biggest hit.

Liam made a point of telling us which animals were wild and which were domesticated (Yes, he used those exact words, and yes, he’s 4).

Those are camels they are looking at. They are wild.

When we got back Austin refused a nap. We spent the rest of the day on the swing set and declared it a movie night. Austin fell asleep mid-sip of milk at about 7:30pm. But, he still managed to wake up at 6am the next morning. Jessica and her gang left pretty early Sunday morning, but not before we were able to snap a few more pictures.

Hopefully it isn’t another 3 years before we get together and lose track of another weekend.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Buy your copy today!

The wait is up, the secret is out, and I just attended my first CD release party. Many of you know that I spent the last week scrutinizing a party invitation my sister and her husband sent us. It stated that they had a big announcement and we were invited to hear it and that it would be like Christmas in October. Last night was the party. Maddie wouldn’t let us enter the house until we told her our guesses. The guesses were mostly 1) They won the lottery 2) They bought a Steinway piano and 3) They are moving overseas for a year or two. My guess was that Kerry recorded a Christmas CD on the piano. As soon as I saw the look on her face when I said that (she couldn’t meet my eyes with her own and mumbled something quietly about how hard that would be) I knew I was right. Well, I didn’t know…but I had a good feeling about my guess. Must be our sister connection.

We were all given gift bags to open which each held our very own copy of “Joy to the World”. A Christmas piano CD by none other than Kerry Murphy. I’m just now realizing that my copy is not autographed. I can remedy that later though. At any rate, she spent the past 11 months sneaking around writing/arranging all 12 songs and going to recording studios and all the other things involved with producing a CD that I know nothing about. The CD is available on the internet at (you can listen to it on her site...I recommend God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) as well as . And soon, itunes and other sources. Of course it’s wonderful and everyone should buy a copy to compliment their Christmas music collection. Once again Kerry has managed to amaze me with her talents. We, all three kids, took piano lessons from kindergarten to 12th grade. My talents peaked around 6th grade. You’ll be waiting many many years for my CD release party but I do play a mean rendition of twinkle twinkle if you ever want to hear it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I love a deal!

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good deal. It’s amazing what a good mood I can suddenly have when I find that perfect sweater, just my size, tucked into the clearance rack. Or, recently I bought a toaster oven for 60% off because the store labeled it wrong (and my mom was there with me to urge them to stand by the price they labeled it – Thanks Mom!). Though I try not to be the girl who immediately spats out a price when she is complimented on her outfit, I can’t resist this time.
A few months ago I was perusing the Pottery Barn catalog. I usually look through it for ideas on decorating since I’m challenged in that area. I came across a page where they had two black shelves hanging on the walls full of black and white pictures and other nick knacks. Something about it caught my eye and I showed it to Rob and I said I’d like something like that. He glanced at it and said “I can build you those.” (Add handy husbands to my list of things that put me in a good mood). He got right on task and pounded out two shelves for me. One 4 foot long and one 6 foot long. I dragged my feet a little bit buying black picture frames and nick knacks (had to find the good deals of course). And then I had to sort through our thousands of pictures and resize them on our computer so they would fit the different picture frames I purchased. So, quite a few months later, we have this:
Pottery Barn was charging ~$200 just for the two shelves. Rob estimates he made our two shelves for about $20. They are identical to PB’s.
Pottery Barn's
Rob's (same box joints you just can't see them because I wanted them painted black)
If you throw in what I spent on picture frames, picture developing and what not (there are two more picture frames I have but have no pictures for since I have to balance out the kids so one isn’t more represented than the other) the grand total for our new home d├ęcor is still less than half the price that PB wanted to charge us just for the shelves. It saves me a lot of time too. Now if I need a little mood lift, I can just look in the family room at my good deal instead of going to the mall and digging through clearance racks for that perfect sweater.

Monday, October 15, 2007

We had an eventful weekend at the Runchey house! Ellie was baptized on Saturday afternoon. So, I spent Friday day running around trying to get things set up for the weekend. Rob's sister (and Ellie's Godmother), Kristin, came into town on Friday night with her son Owen. We spent Friday night visiting with them and trying to stop Austin from yelling at Owen. Owen wasn't doing anything, but Austin was making sure "Oh-none" knew this was his territory. Saturday morning was hectic at best. I started preparing my Cheesy Potato Soup right away. Rob was making Chili for Saturday afternoon and I was making the soup. I can't really call it "mine" since I just got the recipe from a friend (who got it from her mom), but it was a bit of a competition nonetheless between Rob's chili and my soup. Rob's chili won. But, since I've never been known for my cooking, I was happy that the soup was not only edible, but tasty too. The baptism went off without a hitch, except we were about 5 minutes late. I hate being late so I was a little stressed over that but we had arranged a private baptism so I didn't miss anything because it wasn't starting without the star of the show, and she was riding in my car. By 4pm everyone was on their way back home and Rob and I were ready to collapse on the couch. Austin and Ellie had other plans and the rest of the night is foggy but I'm sure involved the usual playing with dinosaurs and trying to get Ellie to roll over.

With two 2 year olds, one 1 year old, and two babies 4 months and under, not to mention the rest of us goofballs, this was the best picture we had of the whole group.

I have to check, but this might be the first family picture taken since Ellie was born.

On Sunday, Ellie had another big day and had her first taste of real food. The word “real” is used lightly in that sentence. Anyone who has actually tasted the Gerber rice cereal knows why. But, she did pretty well despite the awful taste…which is actually a major improvement from soy formula. She didn’t crunch up her face in disgust so I took that as a good sign.

I was making quite a scene of Ellie getting her first food so Austin wanted to make sure we got a picture of him eating too.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Family Movie Night

Every other Sunday, I sit down and make up the dinner menu for the next two weeks. This task is easier said than done in our house. We don't cater to Austin's pickiness and fix him his own meals, but at the same time, he needs to eat. At 37" and 25 pounds he certainly could stand to gain a few pounds. So, coming up with 14 meals that are semi-kid friendly gets tricky if you don't want to repeat anything in the two week span. To make it all easier for me, I have implemented a dinner called "Popcorn and Snack Night". We each get a treat, popcorn and beverage of choice and we eat in the family room picnic-style. This Saturday I finally caved and gave Austin a Thomas the Tank train called "Diesel 10". He is nuts about Thomas and this is his favorite character. It makes me a bit nervous because Diesel 10 is the most belligerent of all the trains.
That's Diesel. He has a claw on his head named Pinchy and he runs around chasing the other trains trying to destroy them. Yes, out of all the Thomas the Train characters, this is the one that Austin puts on a pedestal. I found a small toy Diesel and I've been holding onto it for a rainy day to give to him. Since the last few days have been rainy, I finally conceded after nap time. So, I bet you can guess our movie theme for the night. Thomas the Magic Railway. Both Rob and I have seen the movie close to 50 times and neither one of us can tell you what it's about. We were wondering how "down in your luck" you have to be as an actor to sign on for a script like this. If you ever run into Alec Baldwin, ask for me.
Ellie isn't a huge Thomas fan quite yet, but our little exhibitionist enjoyed Family Movie Night all the same.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Never a dull meal

We had some guests for breakfast this morning. I wasn’t expecting them. I just requested that Austin come sit in his chair for breakfast and when I turned back around Austin was in his chair and the dinosaurs were gathered around. They poked their heads in the bowl a few times but being mostly plant eaters, they didn’t like the Honey Nut Cheerios I had to offer.

Lunch was another exciting meal. No dinosaurs, but plenty of noodles! Austin can eat almost a whole package of ramen noodles on his own. I’m not sure if that is something I should brag about or not. The only problem with noodles is that he eats like a good little boy for his first few servings, but then he eats like cookie monster for his last few servings. Literally, he pretends he’s cookie monster. This leaves noodles everywhere.
That is a noodle hanging from our light fixture. I have no idea how a noodle got up so high. About 90% of the time I stop him from eating like a madman and concentrate on good manners at the table, but there are days when that other 10% slips in there and I don’t feel like keeping up the battle. Today was one of the 10% days. Not because I didn’t want to fight a battle, but because he was telling me he was a “Noodle Monster” and I thought that was cute and clever. Who am I to stunt his imagination? Besides, what’s a few noodles here and there when you have a Noodle Monster to entertain you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A weekend in "the Bend"

We spent this past weekend in West Bend with Rob’s family. We planned it as a time to go back and hang out as we haven’t been back since Christmas but we received the news early last week that our sister in law’s mother had passed away after a battle with cancer. We attended the wake on Friday night and attended the funeral on Saturday both of which were in Emmetsburg, IA, about twenty minutes from West Bend. When something like this happens to people that are so close to you it really makes you sit back and think about all you are blessed with. It was clear that Sue, Lynne’s mom, had lived her life to the fullest and through that had made many great friends and memories. She was completely devoted to her family and spent as much time as possible with them. From what we knew of Sue it seemed she had many of the most important things in life down to a tee. So following Sue’s example we attempted to make the most of the weekend with our family despite the sadness we were all feeling.

Not long after we arrived, Austin had turned the family room into his own personal disaster area. Just like home.

Grandma Runchey has saved some great classic toys for her grandchildren to use.

How many of you remember this one? I know we had the Sesame Street clubhouse growing up and Austin loves it! Especially Big Bird who also rode in a firetruck and helicopter this weekend.

Ellie also found time to play with some new toys


And, we even had the chance to visit with our nephew, Owen, who we haven't seen (or at least I haven't seen) since he was just a few weeks old. His eyelashes go on for miles! Austin was a little unsure of this new guy running around and playing with "his" toys but I think they were just starting to warm up to each other by the time Owen went home.

Just as we promised him, Austin got his very first tractor ride! I think he was excited and scared all at once. I think the tractors were quite a bit larger than he expected, and noisier too! He jumped a bit when Grandpa started it up. And, he was a little nervous to be leaving me by myself. But, afterwards he was pretty brave and all talk...until we offered him a ride in a combine.
And, for good measure, I have to throw Grandma in the blog (Sorry Patti, I know how much you like to have your picture taken). She was soaking up as much grandma time as she could (which was very nice for us too!).
Our drive home was also eventful...and not in a good way. We got caught in a horrible storm. I like a good thunderstorm every once in awhile, just not while I'm driving (or riding as the case was) in the middle of no where. We couldn't even see the road. We stopped at least twice outside of farm houses with nothing else around wondering if we should seek shelter. We called back to Rob's parents house and Jon answered and confirmed that there was a tornado warning for the county we were in, and the neighboring county. But, he didn't have much else to offer. So, we called Rob's dad who had a bit more detail for us and some advice of what to do. Then we heard on the radio that a tornado was spotted 6 miles out of Emmetsburg heading north east. We were about 20 miles northeast of Emmetsburg. That's closer than I'd ever like to be to a tornado. I definitely do not have a future as a storm chaser.