Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jedi Training

I'm feeling fairly clever today.

Austin woke up first this morning and emerged from his room with his light saber clipped to his pants.  He told me he was Annikan. (I'm sure I'm spelling that, and all future Star Wars words wrong).  He sat on the couch for all of 3 minutes before he declared that Battle Droids were coming out of the fireplace and he jumped to his feet to fight them off.  They were no match for him.

Here's where my cleverness comes in.

I invented Jedi Training.  It goes like this:  I take three baloons and throw them up into the air repeatedly and Austin (er...Annikan) uses his light saber to knock them down.  As soon as he knocks them down, I throw them back up and so on.  It's slightly dangerous for me (and my furniture), but he sure had a good time!


We had to call the training off once the little Jedi-ettes were both awake.  Riley's "light saber dodging" reflex isn't quite up to Jedi training standards yet.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It starts....again

Do you remember about a year ago when my days were filled with pretending to be various characters?  Mostly Scooby-do characters.  Phrases like "zoinks!" were uttered routinely.  Very slowly (VERY slowly) Austin has been phasing that out.  However, Ellie....Ellie is picking it up.

That's Karen and Frosty.  Or, Ellie and me depending on who you ask (Ellie).  That's right, I'm the fastest belly whopper around.  You probably won't get that unless you've seen the movie 900 times, like we have.  Ellie has been calling me "Frosty" non stop since 9am.  And if I even start to refer to her as Ellie, instead of Karen....watch out.

I guess I should be thankful for the new characters.  It allows me to expand on my repertoire.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting blog crazy here

I'm getting ready to roll out a new blog here.  I'm honestly not sure how the whole process works, but I've been developing it for a couple months behind the scenes and it's just about ready to launch.  I just wanted to tell you ahead of time in case I really screw it up and then the whole thing comes crashing down.  If you come to check the blog, and there is nothing here, then be patient and hopefully things will be back up and running in no time.

But, if it works, it should be pretty cool (at least I think so) and it's been a fun learning process.  The new blog will offer new content.  The Grandparents will still get their fill of my kids, but I'm also going to have a link for my frugal finds, new recipes, and fun parties people have put together (not just mine).

Wait for it......wait for it....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I don't want to know

I think in general my kids are funny. For example, this morning, after I dropped Austin off at preschool, Ellie spent the ride to the gym saying "Oh my Gosh! I'm freakin' out!". Over and over.
They are especially goofy when they are all getting along. During these rare moments I tend to stay out of their business. Why interrupt something that is going so well? However, after lunch the laughter turned to screams and I ran in their direction to investigate.

My first thought was "gross!". Then I just had to laugh. Ellie did not think it was one bit funny. After I put the camera down I tried to help her out and it was actually stuck on there pretty good. Kind of like one of those brain teasers where you have to manipulate the metal shapes just right to get them apart.

No? Don't know what I'm talking about?

Ok. Well, that's too bad because it was just like that. I do love a good brain teaser.

At any rate, I don't want to know what she was thinking when she put it on her head in the first place. My kids are funny. Yes.

But smart? Ummm......

(Just kidding Ellie, I think you're brilliant. I mean, it took me at least 4 minutes to get it off, so it must have been tricky to get on too.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apple picking

It's been business as usual around here. Austin's been starting to fall into the preschool role better and Ellie is adjusting well to her big brother not being around to torment. Luckily, she has not made Riley her next target (yet). I haven't taken many pictures lately so I'll go back into the archives and a trip to Minnesota Harvest we made a few weekends ago.

I received a tip from a friend that MN Harvest was a nice weekend outing for the family. There are several horses there available for trail rides and there is a tractor-pulled wagon ride out to the orchards. Once you get there, you are given a bag and left to pick to your hearts content. It's $10 per bag. I guess I don't know how much the bag weighed at the end, but I'd say there were 20-30 apples in our bag.

Upon arriving, Ellie immediately talked a big game about the horses. I took her over and she pet a few and talked to them all. "Oh, hello horsey."....."Nice nose horsey." She neighed and whinnied to a few. She's a horse whisperer.

After the tractor ride, which was loud and bumpy and a bit too long for Austin's like, we hopped off to pick our apples. We didn't do any research ahead of time so we're not really sure what kind of apples we picked. Ellie tasted a few and decided they were edible.

Everyone was able to pick some.

Some were easier to get down than others.

After the tractor ride back, we headed inside where we split a cookie and a cinnamon roll. Austin then revealed that he "needed something colorful and delicious". Austin and Ellie each walked away with a lollipop the size of their heads.

After we got home, both Rob and I realized we weren't a huge fan of the apple variety we picked. What do you do with 30 apples you don't care for? Make applesauce. Kerry had a recipe for me.

10-12 apples; peeled and cored and sliced
1 c sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a crockpot and stir to coat the apples. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

The kids gobbled this up. It was very tasty and REALLY sweet. I'll cut down on the sugar a bit next time. It was gone within 24 hours and yesterday I gave Austin some store bought unsweetened applesauce. The very same kind he used to love but he has now deemed "gross".

Friday, September 18, 2009


This is Bud. I got Bud when I was 5 or 6 during my first trip to Indiana to visit with family. It was love at first sight. I could probably count on one hand how many nights I slept without Bud from kindergarten all the way through college.

I mean, look at that nose...I LOVED this bear!

Bud has resided in the bottom drawer of my nightstand now for about 5 years. Ellie found him yesterday and immediately claimed him as her own.

There's just something about Bud that makes a girl wanna give him a hug and snuggle. He makes you want to grab your pillow and blanket and declare it nap time right in the middle of the hallway. He's magical.

Nobody is immune to his magic.

Something about him just makes a girl smile.

And fight. Fight for the right to hold him and hug him.

I'm not quite ready to hand him completely over, but he does deserve to be brought out for a nice snuggle session every now and then.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Anniversary weekend!

This past weekend Rob and I spent Saturday kid-free to celebrate our anniversary (again). We started off the morning with a quick 9 holes of golf. I wasn't feelin' it, so I played a nice game of "Tracy golf". This involves about 3 mulligans per hole and a few good kicks or throws. It's a much more enjoyable game that way.

After golf we headed to the MOA for some shopping. Rob was in desperate need of new work shirts. He managed to find quite a few non-work items too. It's rare for Rob to go on a shopping spree (for clothes) so that was fun. We ate lunch at Twin Cities Grill, shopped a bit more and then headed downtown.

Downtown, we stayed at the Hyatt right on Nicollet. Great location. We were able to walk to our dinner and the show. We dined at Dakota Jazz club (meh.) and we saw "Mary Poppins" at the Orpheum. It was a great show.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our kids were busy entertaining Grandma and Grandpa. Sunday morning Grandma decided donuts were in order so Bob and Austin (in PJs--Austin that is) packed in the van and headed out to get the tasty treats. As Bob turned left to go towards Cub Foods, Austin told him, in true Austin (screaming) style I'm sure, that he was going the wrong way. Austin then gave him turn by turn directions to Donut Connection, Austin's preferred donut shop. Yes. My son knows the way from our house to Donut Connection. Furthermore, Austin was greeted by name when he walked in.

It was a very proud moment for me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big guy on campus!

Austin started preschool yesterday. We started the day with donuts. Our family loves donuts (except Ellie, who prefers a muffin...she might have been switched at birth...only kidding Ellie). Rob kept his schedule clear so that he could go with to drop off Austin.
He couldn't leave the house without his McQueen hat. But, he did take it off when he got to school and he put it in his cubby hole.

On a side note: That hat is getting really gross.

I brought Austin in, he found his cubby, hung up his backpack and then he found his name and traced the letters. I gave him a hug and kiss and sent him off to officially begin his education. Then I looked around at the 5 or more other moms just standing in the classroom watching their kids and talking with each other. Is that what I'm suppose to do? Seemed kind of odd and a bit distracting so I took leave. I'm hoping it was just a "first day" thing and the moms don't always hang around like that. If that's the case, Austin will be the odd man out because his mom has two little girls waiting in the car who would protest, quite loudly, if I left them there for longer than 5 minutes.

Speaking of protest...Ellie was NOT okay with the idea that Austin went to preschool and she did not. She wore her backpack all morning and suggested every 5 minutes that it was time for her to go to preschool. She even said "pretty please". I hope her enthusiasm lasts a couple more years until it is her turn. And when it is her turn, I hope her backpack fits a little better.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Family Picture time!

We just had Kerry take our family photos again! One of these years we will get all of the children to sit and look at the camera with normal smiles. Austin prefers to give us his cheesiest smile. Ellie just says "Cheeeeeeeese" over and over, but that leaves her with a scrunched up face, and Riley just looks at us like we're crazy. Which we are as we make all sorts of goofy noises behind Kerry trying to get any (or all) of them to smile. But, as I've mentioned before, Kerry is amazing and we walked away with some nice shots. Here they are:

Thanks Kerry!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

9 Years!

It's not about the kids today. It's about us!

Today is our 9th anniversary!

Have I mentioned yet how wonderful Rob is? Did you know that since my rant here, Rob has brought me coffee in bed almost every morning before he leaves for work (his idea). It is my signal that I have 15 minutes to wake up before I take command of the ship. He's also an awesome cook. I'm learning here and there, but he does about 70% of the cooking around here. And anyone who's seen him around the kids knows what a fantastic dad he is. I could go on for pages about how wonderful my husband is, but there is no need. It all boils down to the same thing. I love him and I think I'll keep him around for the next 90 years.

And of course, it is about the kids today, as they still need to eat and what not, but tonight....tonight as we celebrate by going out to eat by ourselves (Thanks Mom and Dad) and this Saturday, when we celebrate by staying downtown for the WHOLE day and night (Thanks Bob and Patti)...then it is about us.

Friday, September 4, 2009

When the Cat's away...

My little mice girls will play!
Austin had an impromptu sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's last night. This morning the girls thought it was the perfect opportunity to raid his room and destroy play with his train table. I would have stopped them, but they were having such fun. That, and I was able to clean out the linen closet while they were entertained. Now there is a fresh slate for Rob to come up with another track creation! Us girls, we only aim to please.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Wild Time

Austin has been a pill lately. A horrible, hard to swallow, pill. Boy do I love that little guy, but man oh man it's hard to like him lately. I'm just being honest. I know it's just a phase (Please God, let this just be a phase!!!) I've tried everything I can think of. Today I have decided that he is under stimulated. He's bored. I'm boring.

Because he is so bored, he has taken to crying. Nonstop crying. Whining. Tantrums. It's not pretty. I have found if I spend every waking moment entertaining him he is just fine. But, realistically....who has the time (or the creative energy) to spend every waking minute entertaining a 4 year old? I think my girls might protest such actions.

Therefore, I am trying to fill the last couple weeks of summer with fun activities. At least one fun activity per day. They don't need to be extremely fun or cost money, but just force myself to put a bit more creativity into each day.

Today, we ventured to Wild Rumpus. If you've never heard of it, it's a fantastic children's book store in Minneapolis. It's geared completely towards kids. Right down to the front door. See that purple door?

That is kid size. Austin and Ellie entered first, then I used the full size, boring black door to get Riley and myself inside. Once inside, you're greeted by all sorts of creatures. There is a lizard/iguana in there named Spike. There is a tarantula (which I didn't see in the cage so I was a little nervous), several birds, two ferrets, one chicken, two chinchillas, one rat, and 3 cats (all missing their tails). The ferrets, cats, and chicken all run free throughout the bookstore. This was fun and exciting until the ferret got a little too close to Ellie. Then the chicken came a'cluckin' and all bets were off. Ellie recovered quickly but Austin remained on guard.

Here's Austin in the "spooky shed" (where they keep all the scary stories) looking at the glass floor where the rat runs around.

My pics are a bit shaky because every time I tried to take a photo Riley would squirm in my arms and make the camera jiggle.

Now the girls are sleeping and Austin and I have just finished reading his new snake book for the 12th time. He is hard at work drawing all of the snakes while I type.

Tomorrow's adventure: Daytime camping.

My dear Ellie

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon is going in to get Ellie when she wakes up. This activity can only be made better by actually being the one to wake up Ellie before she wakes up on her own. Generally she is in a good mood and happy to see me. She's still full of sleep and wants nothing more than to snuggle with me and her two prized blankets. Snuggle time with Ellie is rare. That isn't what makes me happy though.

It's that! You never know what you are going to find waiting for you on this girls head. This afternoon, it's a tangle of curls...and a barrette and a string of pearls (red ones...really expensive ones). Does she know how to accessorize or what?

If you catch her from the right angle, you might not think anything is amiss on the other side. This side is fairly normal, but could definitely use a comb.

I'm not putting a comb anywhere near this though. I think Rob finds equal enjoyment in seeing his little girl and her nap-induced crazy hair.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Breakfast Guest

Yesterday morning we had an early morning visitor. A hawk (of some sort...red tailed??) perched up on the swingset to enjoy a nice morning meal. We can't tell for sure, but my guess is it's a mouse. Although, when I zoomed in a bit on the computer, it sort of looked like it had frog legs. Both are prevalent around here.

The whole scene sent Austin into hysterics. When I finally calmed him down enough to understand him, I found out he thought the hawk was eating our rain gauge (also perched on the swingset). When I explained that was not the case and that our household would still be "in the know" about the days (nonexistent) rainfall, he calmed right down and enjoyed watching the bird.

Some of the neighbors near us might be against the large berm in their backyards. I have no beef with it. Easy for me to say since it's not actually in my backyard, but it's close enough. It gives us complete privacy from the back, and brings all sorts of wildlife into view. Coyotes, various hawks, a bald eagle, HUGE jackrabbits, feral cats (I'm okay with those never coming around again), and other little critters.

This hawk also cleaned up after himself so he's welcome back anytime.