Friday, July 31, 2009

Young Love

Austin has been skipping naps lately. He takes one every few days. This has been giving him more time to drive me crazy hang out with his friend Mia. Given the opportunity, these two would spend every waking moment together. Austin has always said that Mia is his "girlfriend" but I just figured he meant she was his friend and she was a girl. As opposed to Cole, who is his boy friend. Apparently he means what he says though. Chrissy (Mia's mom) told me that Mia has been running around the house saying "Austin is my boyfriend". Chrissy took it a step further than I thought to do and said "What does that mean, Mia?" and Mia's response was " means I love Austin!"

How can you blame her....what's not to love?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An interesting outing

Yesterday Austin had swimming lessons. It's always a bit of a rush to get through dinner and get to lessons. Yesterday was no exception. I think he had to leave a few fish sticks on his plate. (I know, dinner of champions).

The lesson went well, and afterwards I was drying him off and asking if he had fun. Just then his teacher walked by laughing and said that as they were nearing the end of the lesson, and each student was suppose to jump off the diving board, Austin sat in the back shivering while each kid trepidly walked to the end of the board and hesitated for 3 minutes until a teacher would finally walk down the board and just drop them into the water. After 3 students Austin yelled "Hurry up guys, I want to get home to finish my fish sticks!" Priorities.

What he didn't know was grocery shopping was next, not fish sticks. While we were in the dairy section I parked Austin next to the butter so I could dart across the busy aisle and grab some milk. As I looked to the right, the burliest, meanest looking guy ever started coming down the aisle. I'm guessing his motorcycle gang was just waiting for him outside. As he got closer to Austin the congestion in the aisle got worse but everyone was doing their best to stay out of this guys way. Undeterred, Austin looked him in the eye and said "Hey, watch out for our cart!" A hush fell over the aisle and I darted back over and said "Austin, be polite to this nice, distinguished man" (or something to that affect).

Having finally collected all our goodies, we were waiting in the checkout lane when Austin, always the observant boy, said "Wow, look at that big boy". Figuring there was just a tall kid behind me I stole a glance. Nope, "big boy" was an understatement. He was probably 6 years old and about a buck fifty. He was also 5 feet away, clearly in hearing range. So, I quietly told Austin to keep comments like that to himself. Austin's retort? "Mom, I'm just saying, he's a big boy!"

Thinking that this crazy trip was almost over I was packing up the groceries wondering if I could get out of there without further incident. As I was packing the last bag, Austin yelled to no one in particular (and I mean YELLED!), "Excuse me guys! 'Member when my mom and dad got married?!" it was the event of the year and he felt like chatting about it over a (root)beer. I didn't stick around to see if there were any offers. For all I knew the Hell's Angels guy was probably still in the store and just might have taken him up on it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

To Milwaukee and back

This past weekend, Rob was gone on what is becoming an annual Father/Sons getaway to watch the Braves play a few games of ball. Last year was out to D.C., this year was a bit closer to home in Milwaukee. I wasn't there so I asked Rob to summarize it. Here is, word for word, what he said (he's sitting in the other room as I type):

"Game on Friday night, game on Saturday night, at the bar in the hotel on Friday night we sat next to a guy who was a huge UNI fan and knew who Bill was [Rob's uncle, who now lives in Australia but was a bit of a basketball star once upon a time at UNI]. Saturday we got up and drove around for about an hour trying to find a restaurant for breakfast. Found one downtown, went to the brewery tour [Sprecker], drank all the pop I could, went downtown to Lake Michigan, walked around, back to the hotel to get ready for the game, went to the game. The Braves Lost. They won the first one."

I bet you are all glad now that I write this blog!

He took the camera, but left the memory card, so there are limited pictures, but they did get a nice shot of the group.
And just in case anyone was feeling bad for me...don't. (I doubt anyone was to begin with), Rob did not come back empty handed. He imported one of my favorite and increasingly difficult to locate treats.

The only place in Shakopee these can currently be located is the Junior High vending machine. I think I would look a bit creepy going into the school to buy candy so I've gone without. My Junior High source is now in High School. I'll probably be down to two boxes by the time I publish this blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I don't' remember much from 7th grade Greek Mythology, but I do remember Narcissus and I believe we have a blooming version of our own here. Whenever Ellie finishes going potty she stands on the step stool, looks into the mirror and says "Hurray Ellie! Hi Ellie....(wave). Ooooh, so cute!"

But, she is pretty cute, so we let it slide.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Zoo - Trip 249

We hit the zoo again yesterday. The kids and I just went there last Thursday, but it looked like a nice morning and the kids love the zoo, so why not? As usual, Austin had specific instructions on which exhibits we should go to. We started with the "cold area with animals". It took me awhile to figure this one out, but he was referring to the Minnesota Trail. The last time we went to that area, it was January, and cold. From there it was off to the Snow Monkeys. Once we deemed them lazy and boring to watch, we headed toward the Grizzly Coast. However, we had a bit of a detour because the zoo just completed a brand new Adventure Park.

This park is quite something. Ellie, Austin, and I checked it out while Riley and Rob checked out a nearby bench. I think the kids could spend an hour in there alone, but be warned parents: There are numerous small openings that kids fit in far better than adults. It took Ellie and myself about 10 minutes to descend through a tree trunk together, and then I was asked to go back in to help another child who's mother was claustrophobic. By the time I was out (again), Austin was long gone on another adventure. We found him climbing the spider web.

After we finally made it to the Grizzly Bears, we had to stop to play at the sand box. Austin LOVES this sand box because it reminds him of the "Great Elephant Graveyard" from the Lion King, which is his current favorite thing to play. It really isn't that big of a stretch.

Movie version:

Zoo version:

We left about 75% of the zoo unexplored yesterday. That's the beauty of having a membership there. We're already looking forward to visit #250.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10 days later...

We have finally stopped celebrating Austin's birthday. Yesterday was his last hurrah! We had the family over for pizza, cake, and ice cream. Around 11am, I realized that in order to have cake I would need to make one. Austin was wondering if the dinosaur should be blue this time. I informed him, that there was only one dinosaur cake, and it was gone. This time we would just make a circle cake and draw a dinosaur on it.

Pretty? Nope, but it was tasty.

We had a pretty fun night playing some lawn games while the kids tested out the new sandbox.

Every once in awhile, during a game of ladder golf, Mike would toss a baseball to Jake who was ready with the bat. I'm not sure when the transition occurred, but before we knew it, we had a game of baseball going on in our backyard. The rules were a little sketchy. For example, I'm pretty sure MLB doesn't allow you to peg the runner with the ball to get him/her "out". But, in backyard baseball, that is fair game. There were some fairly amazing "outs" made from across the yard. As well as some fairly acrobatic dodging by runners. A few too many "home run" (over the fence) hits forced us to reevaluate which direction home plate should be. I'm sure Jake enjoyed the climbing, but it caused too many delay of games.

I'm pretty sure we have the rules squared away now. The deck is an automatic ground rule double, catching a ball that bounces off the house is still an "out", hitting the ball over the house or the small section of fence is a homerun, the runner gets one base on an overthrow, and throwing the ball at a runner is still legal simply because it's fun.

I'll keep you posted on when our next game is scheduled. Seating is limited so reserve your seats early.

Oh, and Happy Final Birthday Austin!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Rob and I recently started something new so that we could each get out of the house and do things without feeling guilty for leaving the other one to fend for themselves (and the kids). He gets Tuesday and I get Thursday. The person doesn't have to stick around for dinner, they are free to go when Rob gets home from work, or I guess in Rob's case, he is free the minute he leaves work. I can't speak for Rob, but I am really enjoying this system. There was only one flaw...we never really got to go out together.

Thanks to my parents, problem solved. I called them early last week to see if they could take our kids after naptime so that I could cook Rob an adult meal and that we could enjoy in the peace and quiet of our home. They obliged and even one upped me. They offered to take the kids over night! After I stopped dancing in excitement, I cooly accepted the offer.

Thursday arrived and Rob asked what I was doing that night. I told him I had plans to go to a movie and asked if he could be home a little earlier. Then over naptime Austin and I started making everything. The menu: Pineapple glazed tilapia, buttercup squash, terryaki wild rice, and for dessert, individual cherry and raspberry cobblers. Austin was mostly responsible for tasting the sugar to make sure it was sweet enough.

We were going to hit Canterbury Park for some horse racing afterwards, but it was pretty cold out so we opted for a movie instead.

It was a fantastic night! Thanks Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Unhappy Box

I was so excited after the garage sale to have emptied out all those tupperware boxes full of toys. I was left with empty tupperware boxes. However, I have implemented a new system in our house, effective immediately, that will take care of one empty box.

It is called the "Unhappy Box"....until I can come up with a catchier name (ideas are welcome). Play time at our house has taken a turn for the worse lately. Austin will be playing happily with his toys. Ellie will find a toy to play with and sooner or later Austin notices it is his toy. Not one he was playing with, but his nonetheless. He cries and tries to grab it. Seeing this irritate her brother, Ellie then eggs him on by claiming "Mine!" which does indeed send Austin into hysterics. It continues and eventually ends with Ellie trying (and usually succeeding) in hitting Austin. There are variations in the story, but it ends the same: Austin's crying, Ellie's crying, Riley is wondering what kind of family she was born into. It's good times.

I'm very tired of the whole non-sharing vibe in this house. I have now come up with a simple solution. If anyone fights over a toy, it goes into my cute little unhappy box. It stays there until naptime and no one gets to play with it. At naptime I will put all the toys back in the community toy box and start over. If anyone cries over it (note: fake crying is also very popular around here) then they can sit in their room and either play by themselves or come down when the waterworks are over.
We'll see how this works. My guess is I will get sick of this big box sitting around before any sort of lesson is learned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Need a New System

My ideal morning goes a bit like this:

I would wake up on my own terms. Either because my body naturally wakes up, or because I set the alarm for a certain time that I wanted to wake up. I'd amble down the stairs and have some semblance of breakfast and I would eat it all without talking or being talked to.

I mean, if we want to talk fairy tales, the time would be 8am that I woke up and the breakfast would be Caribou Coffee and donuts...but I'm not trying to be picky here.

My real life morning goes a bit like this:

Between 4 and 5 am Riley wakes up. She can typically be fed and put back to bed. Then my body, startled awake, tries to fall back into a slumber state. It is unsuccessful until about about 6am. At 6am I hit a hard sleep again. At 6:30 Ellie wakes up. Rob will take that one, but at some point he has to go to work (pesky job) and I'm up no later than 6:45. I go downstairs where I'm bombarded with constant "Mom!" pleas. Ellie doesn't have anything she wants to tell me, but thinks it's great to yell "Mom!" 16 times per minute (I actually counted). Austin is down by 7am and does not stop talking until 13 hours later. Riley scoots into the picture from wherever she was hanging out and pleads for me to hold her.

I don't like to talk when I wake up. Never have. I want at least 15 minutes to sit in a chair with my breakfast and a computer to check email and read headlines. After those 15 minutes I am fully awake and at that point I would consider myself a "morning person" ready to attack the day. Therefore, I need a new system. I'm not sure what to give up. Do I just stay awake after Riley wakes up? I could put her back to bed and hang out downstairs and prepare for the day, but that means I'm up at 4:30am everyday. Not cool. Do I go back to bed and set an alarm for 6am so, in essence, I will never truly go back to sleep, but will rest after putting Riley back to bed? Or, do I continue as usual, but purchase some noise cancelling headphones to block out the morning soundtrack of the house?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Birthday Celebration - Part 4

Saturday marked Austin's birthday party for his friends. This is the party that we've been planning for what seems like a long time, but really was probably only a month. And by "we", I mean "I". Austin was good for coming up with the initial theme (dinosaurs), but his only other contribution was asking me 600 times a day if his friends were coming over for his party yet.

The guests arrived at 10:30 and were given their choice of dinosaur tattoos. Once everyone was present and accounted for, it was outside for the only activity I had planned. A dinosaur hunt. But not your average hunt. There were four little dinosaurs for each kid, all in different places. There was one dinosaur frozen in ice (and floating in the water table), there were 2 sepearate dinosaur nests with dinosaur eggs (a cool little craft found here), and then one more dinosaur hidden in the sand that the kids had to dig out. Once the hunt was over and the dinos were all extracted from the eggs, most of the kids retreated to either the swingset or the water table. Most of the parents hung out on the deck and enjoyed one of the most beautiful days (weather-wise) we have had this summer.

Then it was on presents and lunch. Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and dinosaur shaped PB&Js, chips, and juice boxes for the kids. Perhaps the most peaceful time of the party for us adults. It seems all the kids worked up an appetite during the hunt and wanted to eat and not talk. We finished up with the previously mentioned cake.

A fairly "Dino-mite" party! (You knew that was coming....)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A break from the weekend

This weekend has been a lot of fun, but it has also been one of those weekends that you end a bit more tired than you started.

Friday we kicked off the weekend by grilling out and inviting the neighbors over for a bonfire. At 10pm we remembered our children and put them to bed. At 11:45 pm, the bonfire turned into a movie screening of "Old School". All Rob needed was a little prompting from one neighbor who slightly suggested he bust out the movie screen. He disappeared for 10 minutes and emerged with the outdoor theater (Dad, I don't know if you'll ever get your wagon back, it's proved very useful at our house!). We didn't need to worry about how loud it was because all the surrounding neighbors were with us.

Obviously, the picture above does not do the movie's picture quality any justice. The movie really is quite a sharp picture. But, the picture above does give you an idea of the set up Rob has.

Knowing that the next day was Austin's birthday party, and knowing that meant preparing for 16 people to eat and have fun (10 of them kids), I left the inaugural movie viewing at midnight. Only to be awoken by Ellie a few hours later.

Saturday morning we ran around the house like crazy getting everything ready for the guests that arrived at 10:30. It was a busy morning, but the party was a lot of fun (another blog post to come). Everyone left around 1pm and we put the girls down for naps. I'm including myself in the "girls" column. In fact, I was probably the first to fall asleep. Rob and Austin entertained themselves.

Saturday night we invited the neighbors back for a full feature movie. We intended to watch Wall-E with the kids but, after hanging out with our incredibly crabby son, we decided he was in no shape to stay up late another night. Instead, all the kids went to sleep and the adults watched Kingpin. Another late night, and another early morning. I'm happy to report that all the kids are currently napping and gearing up for Maddie's birthday party this afternoon. Party after party! That's how we Runchey's roll.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Piece de resistance!

With Austin's birthday party tomorrow I'm planning all sorts of fun activities for his friends. I'm having fun with this dinosaur theme! First, I made the shirt. That is actually something I've wanted to make for awhile, so that wasn't that big of a deal. Then I googled cakes and found just what I was looking for!

Well, that's not exactly how it looked online, but for my first attempt at a cake that is not the shape of a rectangle, I'm pretty proud. My toughest critics have already praised my work so that is enough for me. Austin told me his dinosaur cake "looks pretty cool". Ellie said "Wow!" and Riley said "Ahhhhhh!!!" (which translates to "Mom - that's the best dinosaur cake I've ever seen!") Those remarks are both a great compliment, and my biggest fear right now. The cake is drawing too much attention and I'm afraid if I leave them alone with it, they will try to get a closer look....with their mouths.
Off to go make some dinosaur eggs....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Man!

Four years ago today our lives were changed for the better in this house. Austin Robert Runchey came into the world a whopping 5 lbs, 10 oz. He's still as skinny as can be, but he's full of spirit and we're going to use some of his energy to celebrate in style this week (several times)!
We already celebrated once in West Bend. Last night Rob and I took him to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. He loves this place and wants to go into the store every time we're at the mall. He has had his eye on a big snake there for almost a year. Last night he finally got it.

That's him, with his snake, under "Tracy the Tree"....that's really the tree's name. I hear it is a very wise tree.

He was not a big fan of the singing that accompanied his dessert, but in general, he really enjoyed the restaurant, particularly when the monkeys started moving around.

Today he wanted to wear his brontosaurus shirt because he is having a "Brontosaurus Birthday party" on Saturday. I think he thinks if he wears the shirt today, then his party will be today. No dice. But, since I made that shirt for him, I will let him wear it every day this year to make sure he gets his use out of it!

Happy Birthday Austin!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Have you ever seen a cuter cowgirl?
I doubt it. Potty training has been going well (all 1.5 days of it) and I had to get out of the house to run to Michael's to pick up some items for Austin's birthday party. Ellie was fairly insistent that she was NOT going potty before we left. So be it. She wore that thick underwear, the plastic over-underwear stuff, and this cute dress. Of course, halfway there I heard the infamous plea for a "Potty!" I figured that was more likely an "I just went potty" rather than an "I have to go potty" so I just told her to hold on and we'd be there soon. My mom was with so she watched Riley and Austin while Ellie and I ran to the back of the store (of course) to use the bathroom. To my surprise, she was dry AND went potty. Awesome!!!
She tried this hat on and it was too cute to pass up (especially when Grandma is with). Maybe it will take the place of Buzz? After one more trip to Michael's bathroom, it was homeward bound and we arrived back with one dry cowgirl. Hurray!

Lockdown - Day 1

Can you guess what we are finally doing?

Potty training. Ellie has been mentioning the potty (with very little consistency) for the last 4 months or so. She has even done the deed in her potty chair a handful of times. I always had a reason to put it off though. Trips here or there, the garage sale, waiting for summer, etc. Just about any excuse I could think of, I used. I know that I need to jump on board her enthusiasm train and get it done so today was Day 1 of seriously potty training Ellie. No diapers, no pull ups; just me, Ellie, and the potty. Oh, and a bottle of carpet cleaner, a pile of rags, and a bowl full of treats. And I can't forget a curious 11 month old. She adds a new dimension to the mix.
The worst part of this for me is not leaving the house for at least a week while Ellie gets the hang of things. I really don't like using Pull-ups. I remember going through this with Austin and he pretty much just saw them as a cool diaper and would treat them as such. However, I'm sure by the end of the week I'll be whistling a different tune.

Day 1 went far better than I expected. There were only two accidents and far more successes!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth Celebration

We had a pretty great 4th of July weekend! We headed to West Bend on Friday afternoon. We always leave at naptime in hopes of the kids taking their naps en route. It doesn't always work for Austin these days, but we can usually count on the girls falling asleep...unless Austin is watching The Lion King and bursts out in a high pitched laughter. Lesson learned - mellow DVDs in the car from now on.

There's plenty of activity in West Bend on the 4th, but our family's highlights were the parade, the carnival, the jump castle, huge blow up slides, bingo (okay, maybe that was just a personal favorite), the park, swimming (private pool hours since we're in good with the manager - Thanks Patti), hanging out with cousins, tractor rides, fireworks, and when asked, Austin's favorite part was his first birthday celebration!

Austin's least favorite part would definitely be the parade. It started out high on his list because, come on, who doesn't love a parade. Especially when they are throwing handfuls of candy at you. He was scurrying around like a madman picking every piece of candy he could find. I think he was enjoying himself quite a bit until he ventured a little bit too far into the street. You could tell he was trying to hurry because he knew he shouldn't be out that far and both Rob and I yelled his name to get his attention. About, 2 seconds after that, a firetruck just happened to honk it's very loud horn (not at Austin) and that scared him to pieces. He came running back in tears and cried quite a bit. But, the parade people kept throwing candy at him, probably in an effort to cheer him up. Only Austin wanted nothing to do with it. He kept yelling "Sorry! No Thank you! No more candy, sorry!" I'm sure they couldn't hear anything and just saw a boy who was yelling something to them and assumed he was asking for candy, so they would throw some more. Vicious cycle. Austin ended up like this for the rest of the parade:

Ellie, on the other hand, she loved every second of it. Especially when her competition was safely in the arms of Dad. She danced, she picked up candy, she got a bracelet, necklace, and a beach ball. Life is good.

Riley enjoyed the parade from her new backpack carrier. She didn't get any candy or jewelry, but she did get her fill of people watching, which she enjoys.

Here's a slideshow compilation from the weekend to save me the time of sorting through all the pictures for my favorites.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!!

Ellie ripped her glasses apart before we could get a picture, so she tried on Austin's.

Riley ate Ellie's glasses after Ellie ripped them apart, so she too tried Austin's (with some help).
We hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th!!