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.