Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to ME!

I absolutely love birthdays!  Yesterday was mine.

Rob brought me a muffin and cup of coffee for breakfast in bed before he left for work.  Apparently Mosaic had not caught on that it was my birthday and they should be closed to celebrate such an occasion.  Maybe next year.

So, with Rob gone and all the kids piled in bed with me I laid down the ground rules. 
  1. It was my birthday.  MY birthday.  MY day.
  2. There would be no fighting.
  3. Everyone would do what I asked the first time I asked.
  4. We were all going to have fun.
A mom can dream, right?  Austin actually responded quite well to my wishes.  Everytime the girls started to bicker he would chime in "It's Mom's birthday...no fighting!".  It only sort of worked but I appreciated his effort.  When my parents stopped by to drop off a gift Austin told them "It is hard work following her rules.  I get kind of bored with them, but I will NOT quit!"  What a trooper!

The kids also obliged me by going to Chipotle for lunch.  It's not their favorite restaurant by any means, but the chance to go eat somewhere other than our house was enough to keep them engaged.  Actually, Riley might be a bigger fan that I thought.  She devoured her lunch and then ate half of Austin's.  She's the only kid I know who will eat guacamole by the forkful.  No chips needed.

After lunch it was home to make brownies for me.  I'm not much of a cake fan and the kids have been getting pretty good at baking.  I helped crack the egg and measured some ingredients but the majority of it was all them.  The girls took naps and I let Austin play computer games for over an hour while I read my book.  Peaceful.

Rob got home and cooked my favorite dinner and I opened presents.  Or rather, I sat on a chair and watched Ellie open my presents! 

The kids gave me some lotions and potions for the shower and some slippers.  Rob's gift was a "Tracy Day" set up for January.  A day of shopping just for me while his parents watch our kids!  I can't wait!

It's like extending my birthday a whole 'nother month!  I was sad to see the day end but I sure enjoyed it.  My family is pretty great.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let's go to the Movies!

Today, after having been in our house for about 4 days straight, I was going a little stir crazy.  But, at 12pm it was too close to nap time to really go anywhere, not to mention we hadn't eaten lunch yet.  Then, at 12:05 Rob asked me how brave I was feeling.  Not wanting to fall into any traps I asked him why before I answered.  He told me that the movie "Tangled" was playing at 12:25 in Shakopee. 

Ellie and Riley have never been to a movie.  I think Austin was late 3s when he first attended one and I have been wanting to take Ellie to this particular movie since it was released.  However, I had NOT intended to take Riley with on the adventure.  Four days in a house makes you a little crazy I guess.  Half of us were still in PJs so we quickly got everyone dressed, I packed some sippy cups, whatever snacks I could find, and Riley's blanket into a giant purse and away we went!

I didn't think it would be too busy.  I figured most parents probably had Thursday and Friday off from work and were back to the grindstone today.  I told myself it would be no big deal if Riley was...well, a 2 year old, because no one would really be there.  I was wrong.  It is probably the most people I've ever seen at the Shakopee theater (I'd wager 30% of Shakopee citizens don't even know we have a movie theater because it's off the beaten path).  But, from the moment the kids sat down they were perfect.  Rob came back with a popcorn/pop/candy tray for each of them and I don't think we heard a word from any of them for the next 2 hours.  Except laughter.  Oh, and Riley's demand for "More Sugar!" The candy included in the popcorn tray was pixie stix.  It would be an understatement to say Riley loved them.

Ellie was a movie natural!  She loved every minute of it.  While Riley and Austin wanted to get out of their seats and into our laps Ellie was content to sit in her chair the entire time and didn't utter a word.  She was too busy shoveling the popcorn into her mouth. 

I've been looking forward to this stage of our young family for quite awhile.  To be able to just pack into the car and do fun things without having to worry about missing naps or where to change a diaper.  I can't say the movies will be a routine for us, as 5 of us at the movies with treats isn't cheap, but it's nice to know that plenty of adventures await us without the time constraints of naps.

Of course, you better believe that if I am home those girls are taking their naps!  Four days in this house might have made me a little crazy, but not THAT crazy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Preparations!

We've  been enjoying a wonderful Christmas Eve in our house!  The kids slept in (relatively) and after breakfast we all headed to the gym to do some swimming.  Austin went down the two story slide all by himself (several times).  Ellie and Riley also enjoyed their fair share of slide rides, but on the laps of Rob or myself.  Our kids definitely have no fear of the water which is fun for us all. 

We worked up an apetite swimming and treated ourselves to yumy lunches of Chipotle (for Rob and me) and McDonald's for the kids.  We even splurged for Happy Meals.... ho ho ho!

After lunch was naps and while Rob was running some last minute errands I took Christmas carol requests at the piano while the kids had a dance party behind me. 

When Rob got back with the eggs, we got down to the business of making cookies for Santa.  We've either waited until the last minute, or we wanted to make sure the jolly old elf received fresh cookies - however you want to look at it.

Austin added the mix, Riley added the butter, and Ellie added the egg.  They each got a turn to stir and then they were completely in charge of stuffing our new Christmas cookie pan.

That part took a little trial and error.  By the finall three cookies, I finally figured it out.  Less is more.


Cookies are done.

We've cleaned up the house so Santa and his Prep and Landing team (if you haven't already seen this little movie, put it on your to-do list...it's one of my new Christmas favorites!) don't trip over toys on their way in, and I think we might let each kid open one present tonight.  That one present will most likely be selected by me and it will most likely be a new pair of pajamas for each of them.

Bring it on Santa, the Runchey's are ready!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Like a Rose

There's an ongoing debate in our house every time the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer comes on (which is often because we start Christmas music fairly early in the year around here).

When you get to the echo part of the song:  "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer {Reindeer} had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would really say it glows. {Like a _____}"

And this is where the debate begins.  Back in 1983, when I was sitting in Mrs. Stenberg's kindergarten class, the perfect little angel that I was, we were told to sing "Like a rose"!  Down in Iowa Rob was sitting in his kindergarten class, probably goofing off, and claims he was told to sing "Like a light bulb".

Okay, so probably the rest of the world was taught light bulb as well but I have to agree with Mrs. Stenberg on this one.  I like things to rhyme.  Not only does "light bulb" not rhyme, there is just one too many syllables to squeeze into one beat of music.

As I am the self-appointed music director of this household, guess what my kids have been taught to sing?

But, light bulb or roses, we can agree on one thing:

Riley makes a pretty cute Rudolph.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waiting for Dad

Most days are the same around here.  There are certain routines the kids don't like to break from.  Some of them I'd get rid of in a heartbeat...like waking up at 6am (ahem Riley, I'm looking at you!).  Others I would be sad to see go...like morning hugs I get from all the kids.  Another routine I enjoy, from the sidelines, is the wrestling match the kids insist on having every night with Rob.

Rob barely walks in the door and the kids all greet him with "Let's wrestle!!!"  But the wrestling ring doesn't open until after dinner.  Tonight I took a little video of their typical brawl. 

*No dads were hurt in the filming of this video (at least not tonight)

After the wrestling match, while Rob was laying defeated on the floor, they all climbed onto his back and demanded a horsey ride.  Rob isn't one to disappoint.

When Rob is traveling I try to step into this role, but the truth is, I don't really enjoy being pummeled by my children and I don't have a big enough back to hold all three for a horsey ride.  There is absolutely no replacement for him.  We'll let him stick around a bit longer to take more of our abuse.

Monday, December 13, 2010

21.5 inches!

I'm going to join the ranks of the rest of the Minnesota bloggers to report on our snowy conditions the past week.  Shakopee came out on top with 21.5 inches.

Did you ever watch Little House on the Prairie?  Do you remember the episode "The Christmas They Never Forgot"?  It's the one where they all sit up all night reminiscing about Christmases past and throughout the night the snow continues to come down so hard and fast that by morning they are completely snowed in.  The open the door only to find out the snow has completely covered the door and is at the level of their second story window.  Luckily, Pa and Almonzo had the forethought to tie a rope from the house to the barn so all the presents were retrieved by simply strapping on a pair of snow shoes.

Ahhh....one of my favorites.


Anyway, that whole synopsis because that's all I could think about as I looked out our bedroom window.
 The plows didn't come through our streets until Sunday so there were plenty of cars getting stuck around the neighborhood.
 And unlike most of our neighbors, we chose not to snow blow anything until all was said and done.  So, the first time we opened our garage door, this is what was waiting for us.  And by "us", I mean Rob.

We didn't leave the house on Saturday.  Until dinner came around and we realized we really had nothing to eat.  Then I sent Rob out to Target to pick up some goodies....oh, and a Christmas dress for Ellie.  The kids were due to sing in church on Sunday morning.
Ellie, the modest girl that she is, couldn't stop commenting about how beautiful she looked in her dress so it made Rob's crazy drive to Target and back completely worth it.

On a side note, the only reason we made it to church is because my mom and dad came and picked us all up in the Explorer.  Then on the way home we all stopped at Perkins for a late breakfast.  All 15 of us (the Smith's and Murphy's were there too!).  It was kind of fun to play Little House on the Prairie for the day (minus the Target trip and the 4 wheel drive!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ellie's Dance Class

After running around and attending all her brother's classes and programs, I figured it was finally time for Ellie to have a class of her own.  We have been playing "dance class" at home for a few months.  I am the teacher and she is my student.  It's a great game with the minor flaw that I have never taken a dance classes in my life nor do I have any natural talent.  So, our "class" has been limited to spinning in circles, pretending to tap dance, and plies. 

When I saw our Commumity Center was hosting dance classes for ages 3-6 for the bargain price of $35 (six 45 minute lessons) I immediately signed her up.  She has absolutely LOVED going to a real dance class.  However, the windows of this dance class are covered in black paper so what she has been doing for those 45 minute sessions has been a complete mystery to me.  Until today.  Today they took the last 15 minutes of class time to show us what they learned.  See for yourself:



I guess it was a dance class with a Jazz emphasis as well as some tumbling.  I have a couple more video segments of her "cartwheels", jumps, and balance beam walking.  During the dance Ellie was pretty mesmerized by the video camera the lady in front of her had....but I'm not sure she would have done anything different if the camera were not there.  She's always kind of done her own thing.  It was a really cute recital of sorts.  On the way out the door I signed her up for the next session of Tap....no tap shoes required. (Isn't that the whole point of tap dancing?)

Here's Ellie with her teacher Ms. Deanna:

(Ellie pulled her pant leg all the way up...channeling LL Cool J)

Then Grandma took us to Caribou to celebrate her success.  Yum!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Donut World

Last night the kids all stayed at my parents house.  We were suppose to be attending a party in Woodbury for  Rob's internal audit group.  However, it took Rob almost two hours to get home from Plymouth at 3pm.  After dropping the kids off with my parents, getting ready, and then consulting some friends out on the roads, we estimated it would have taken us another two hours to get to Woodbury.  We decided to stick around in Shakopee.  We had a nice dinner out and came home to watch a movie.  Despite not getting to meet any of Rob's coworkers I hear so much about, we very much enjoyed a night to ourselves (Thanks Mom and Dad!).

This morning we picked up the kids at 8:30 and took the kids to get donuts.  Nothing out of the ordinary there.  But, this time we stayed at Donut Land to eat said donuts.  It was a dream come true for Austin.


Donut World has these tiny little stools set up around a short kid-sized counter and Austin has been dying to eat his donuts at that very counter since he first set eyes on it.  Today was his day!

Despite the scowl on Riley's face (which is her usual look these days as I can do nothing right by her) we all enjoyed our breakfast.

Once we got home everyone geared up and headed outside.  Ellie and Austin love to play in the snow.  Riley....not so much.  She pretty much wants to be held the whole time unless the snow is only an inch or two deep.  And although Ellie enjoys her time outside, her endurance for cold weather is a work in progress.  Therefore, the girls and I are inside right now and Austin is going on hour 2.

He is, no doubt, playing dinosaurs of some sort.  While I was out there he wanted to be buried like a fossil so that I could pretend to be a paleontologist discovering the very first Iguanadon.


I'm going to go get some hot chocolate ready for when my little dinsoaur wants to thaw out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our week

The flu ransacked our house for the last couple weeks.  I was the latest victim but it has now been close to a week since I was sick so I think we're in the clear.  We are now onto a virus that causes a fever for about a day followed by a hacking cough and loss of voice. 

I did rid of my flu turn just in time for Thanksgiving.  Kerry and Mike graciously put together a feast for us.  Mike grilled/rotisserie the turkey which was new and good.  As usual, it was nice to hang out with the family.  Even more pleasant because none of the guests needed to lift a finger.  Thanks Murphy's!

The day after Thanksgiving we loaded up and headed to Iowa to celebrate Christmas with Rob's family.  His parents will be traveling to Australia over the holidays so we celebrated early.  As usual it was an eventful time with everyone making it back to partake in games, food, presents, football, and more food.  It definitely put me in the holiday mood!  This is going to be a busy upcoming month full of a lot of fun!

Our drives to Iowa and back are getting mentally longer.  Once upon a time all three of the kids would sleep at some point during our drive.  It was peaceful.  Those times have been replaced with Austin not ever sleeping, Ellie sleeping for about 45 minutes, or until one of her louder siblings wakes her up, and Riley maybe sleeping for about 30 minutes and whining for the last 45.

While Austin is NOT sleeping, he takes it upon himself to ask 140,000 questions or make random comments.  His latest fascination is a series on BBC called "Chased by Dinosaurs" (or "Sea Monsters"....he's equally enthralled with both).  In which a zoologist named Nigel Marven travels back in time to various Jurassic or Cretaceous time periods to reveal these fearsome beasts.  Honestly, it's actually kind of intriguing how it's all done.  You see Nigel standing amongst a beach of "sea scorpions" and it truly looks like they are there with him, but then you have remind yourself sea scorpions died out 100 billion years ago (my facts are probably wrong there...just ask Austin).  It's very Crocodile Dundee meets Jurassic Park.  Anyway, my point is that on the way to Iowa he bombarded us with facts about dinosaurs we couldn't begin to pronounce.

Austin:
"Hey Mom!  Did you know that a Megaladon was even bigger than a great white?"

Me:  "Huh...nope.  Didn't know that"

Austin:  "Hey Mom!  Did you know that Megaladons ate whales but when the whales went to cold waters, the Megaladons couldn't so they died because they had nothing to eat?"

Me:  "Wow.  Fascinating.  I had no idea"  (said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster)

"Hey Dad...did you know that when Nigel was swimming with one sea monster it burped up the bones of the fish it had just eaten and Nigel said 'well, that's not good table manners'... ha ha ha ha ha"

Rob:  "Ha ha.  Yep, that Nigel is a riot!"

Austin:  "Umm...no Dad.  He's a zoologist." 

And that's the type of conversation that took place most of the way there and back.  Only to be interrupted by Riley whining to get out of her seat.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flu Palooza

Rob just returned from another 2 week trip to South America.  Chile this time.  He arrived just in the nick of time!  Well, actually, his assistance could have been used a day early, but I'll take what I can get.

The first week went smoothly.  Austin had one of his fevers for 4 days, but it was easily controlled with ibuprofen and ran it's usual course.  The second week Austin came running into the bathroom at 9am and threw up in the toilet/floor.  He had acquired a cough somewhere so I thought he had just been coughing too hard and sort of gagged himself.  He seemed fine.  Twenty minutes later he came running down the stairs and lost it half way.  Lucky for me, he hadn't had breakfast yet so cleanup was easy.  He continued to vomit for the next 20 hours every 30 minutes.  It was a long day to say the least.

Friday morning Rob came back late morning and we picked him up at the airport.  Austin still wasn't feeling 100% so we just went home and watched more movies.  Saturday at 3am or so Ellie came running in the room saying "Mommy!  Mommy! I'm sick!" and as I was trying to wake up and understand it all, Rob jumped up on his side of the bed and said "What's wrong?"  Now, normally that would be no big deal, but he hasn't been there for 2 weeks, and in my drowsy state I had completely forgotten he was home so you can imagine my shock that there was a man in my bed.  He was seconds away from being kicked in the face.  Luckily, I came to my senses. 

We turned our attention to Ellie who also vomited every 30 minutes for the next 20 hours.




Eventually she started to get some color back and cracked a small smile.

Riley had a 102 fever all yesterday but no puke (yet).  I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet.  Austin had a late night episode last night but it was just once and he's been fine since.

Hopefully we're over the worst.  It was a nice "Welcome Back" for Rob I'm sure!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Trouble with a capitol T

I always thought that the terrible twos were a myth.  Austin never hit them.  I remember some Troublesome Threes with him, but never twos.  And Ellie, maybe I have amnesia on her, but she's always been fairly sweet.

Enter Riley.

She has taken, among other things, to skipping naps.  She will NOT stay in her bed, or even her room.  I have tried, what I feel, is everything!  I even borrowed a child proof door knob thingy to put on the inside of her room so she could not get out.  Her answer to that was to take it apart, open her door, and bring it downstairs to me like she was doing me some sort of favor..."Here mom....this thing was on my door and made it hard for me to open so I took it off for you!"

Well, the other day I thought I had won.  All was quiet on the home front and I was back to enjoying an hour or two to myself.  Or so I thought.  At 2pm I heard a "thud" come from upstairs.  As I approached the top step, this is what I found:


She decided to see what I had in my nightstand.  Now, my nightstand is kind of a catchall for random things I don't know what to do with, so I'm sure it was like a treasure chest to Riley.

She had found my old Indian Princess necklaces, a headband, swim goggles, my teddy bear "Bud", various cards from Rob, a pencil, a pen, and who knows what else.

The pen proved fun:
 She was equally creative on her hands with this tool.

When I saw her, she was trying to put my swimming goggles on Bud.  Below she is probably pondering how politically incorrect her mom was to join a group of Caucasian girls who paraded around like Native Americans with tribe names, arrow head and bear claw necklaces, and Chiefs that banged on a drum to call the meetings to order.
 Yes, this is the face of trouble:
My mom and sister claim to see me in many of her facial expressions but I'm positive her current mischievous attitude is all Rob.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hello Snow!

We woke up to a winter wonderland (like the rest of MN).  It sent me into a tizzy to try to find snow gear for everyone.  I know snow was in the forecast, but I was a doubting Thomas.  Or, I thought it would be an inch that melted immediately.  At least 3 inches of the heavy white stuff has now made me a believer.

So, for my children, with current shoe sizes of 12.5, 7, and 7.  I have snow boots that are sizes 11, 9, and 6.  Thankfully everyone's snow pants still fit from last year.  The only other gear we had to improvise on was mittens.  Everyone wore mittens too small and had to double up on them to make them a bit more water proof or warm.

But, by 9:45 or so we were outside in the best gear we could muster. 

When Riley flashed me this smile I was hopeful that her days of hating being outside in the snow were over.
 This was her first, and last smile.  The happiness was quickly replaced with pleas to "Hold me!".

Austin and Ellie both got down to business of tromping through all the fresh snow.
 Then Ellie got down to the business of eating all the snow.  She did this all last year and she picked up right where she left off.
We threw together a quick snowman, went down our little sledding hill, played "follow the tracks", and played on the swingset.

Once we were all thoroughly drenched, and once my back was near the breaking point from holding a heavy wet Riley for over an hour, we all headed in.

Now we're munching on chex mix, drinking hot cocoa, and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

Our gear is in the dryer getting ready for round 2!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mess Free Painting

Ellie has had this "water wow" Backyardigans book for at least a year.  It's pretty cool.  The pages are all white and then when the child use this special water filled paintbrush to paint the pages the pages fill with color.  Not like the old "paint with water" books where it was actual paper and you'd use the water and then whole page would run together in a watery mess of brown.  She loves this book and recently found it again after about a 6 month hiatus.  The only problem is that there are only 5 pages and so it only takes her about 10 minutes to finish.  Nonetheless, it's popular.  We've since given up on the special paintbrush, but a regular paintbrush and a cup of water works just as well (maybe better).

The only problem is that we have just one of these books.  Therefore, Trouble....eeerrr, I mean Riley, does her best to take it away from Ellie and ruin her fun.  Well, yesterday I solved this problem. 

Not wanting to drag out any real paint, I gave Riley a sheet of construction paper and a paintbrush and some water.  I let her paint the paper.  Construction paper turns darker when wet so she saw the results of her efforts and the two of them painted harmoniously.  Without a mess!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mountain Climbing

Yesterday Riley decided she was going to have a "camp out" on our stairs.  Having a camp out isn't unusual, but the stairs was a new location.  When Austin stumbled (literally) upon her he decided to join in.  Then Ellie didn't want to be left out either.

The result was all of their bedding and stuffed animals and pillows piled high on the stairs.  This then led to a mountain climbing adventure.  For almost an hour (and probably longer had I not ruined their fun by sending Austin to school) they would build up their mountain:


Then they would scale up their mountain:

This took immense concentration on Ellie's part:


Then Austin would yell something akin to "Geronimoooooo!" and leap onto the pile of fluff.
 Then Ellie, and by the time it was Riley's turn there wasn't much left on the stairs so she would slide down on her butt and land in the pile at the bottom.

Now, I know as far as safety goes, this probably isn't high on the list, but boy they were having fun!  And, I completely remember playing on the stairs with my brother and sister, and having pillowcase races down the stairs.  We all turned okay...well, most of us.  The jury's still out on Dan ;)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

We were a little behind in the whole Halloween holiday this year.  Despite numerous reminders from my kids, I didn't get any of our Halloween decorations up until midway through the month. 

We solidified costume ideas about 2 weeks ago.  Ellie, who has wanted to be a princess since last Halloween threw me a curveball last minute.  She requested to be a unicorn.  And although we knew Austin wanted to be a Jedi, short of his cloak and a lightsaber we didn't have a costume planned. 

We never did get to the pumpkin patch, but luckily we had a pumpkin from Austin's field trip with school.  It was on the small side, but it worked.  I gutted it while the kids were sleeping Sunday and once everyone was awake enough post-nap we thought about what we wanted it to look like.  It was unanimous that it be spooky and Austin kind of took it from there. 

 He didn't want to touch one single part of it, but it was suppose to have angry eyes, a small nose, and a mouth like a ghost.


Voila!




 Pretty spooky.


At 4:30pm Rob figured out a wardrobe for Austin and at 5pm we headed over to a friends house for some pre-trick or treating snacks. The kids were very excited about trick or treating this year! It was Riley's first year, and although I carried her most of the way to keep up with the older kids, she really enjoyed it.


Here's their costumes:



 Anakin Skywalker (always in character)

 Unicorn (thanks Kmart...wasn't sure how I was going to pull that off)




 Froggy


Midway through the neighborhood Rob and I switched duties. I thought Riley would stay in with me to hand out candy while the older two went to more houses with Dad, but I thought wrong! There was no way that she was getting left out of round 2!

So, while everyone was out scrounging for more treats I did a preliminary check of their first treats (which they unloaded so their buckets wouldn't get too heavy). I came across this:


 Now, I'm all for saving a buck and I was thinking this household probably just bought the clearance Valentine's candy to hand out at Halloween. But, Valentine's day was 8 months ago and I figured they had enough candy that I could toss this out and no one would know. So, I searched through the other two piles to find the other heart suckers. That's when I found this:



 So, I guess it wasn't so much "clearanced" valentine's candy, as much as it was just saved from actual valentine cards. Both went into the garbage. Then I did a taste test on a few snickers just to make sure they passed my safety test. I've been doing a little quality control here and there since last night. Everything seems to be checking out just fine but you can never be too sure.




HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Meal = Happy Mom

Rob just got from Argentina.  He was there for 2 weeks.  I didn't have a mental breakdown until Day 9.  Not bad.  And, my parents must have used their "Spidey-sense" because they came to my rescue that very night with a surprise invitation to dinner.  When I told them it was my hardest day yet they offered to take the kids a couple days later for a whole 24 hours!!!!  All of the sudden there was a light at the end of this travel tunnel and all was well with my world again.  Aren't they the best?

Anyway, the point of this post is to tell you to rush out to McDonald's and get your kids a happy meal.  If you know me at all, you know I'm frugral.  Typically, when I offer the kids McD's I order two 6 piece nuggets, two medium fries, and a plain cheeseburger.  This gets split up at home and we are all fed for under $9.  However, Rob told me via web chat (just before he dined on his 23rd steak) to just do whatever I had to do to make it through the last week. 

Well, what I had to do was take the kids to McDonald's for real happy meals.  I usually forgo the happy meals not only because they cost more, but also because I don't want more cheap toys laying around the house.  However, this month, the Happy Meal came in a Halloween bucket with some silly Mr. Potato Head stickers.  No toy.  My kids LOVED this.

The rule is that you have to finish your food before you get your toy (or bucket in this case) and we were having a late night so by the time we got home it was 8:30pm and the kids went to bed with a promise of Happy Meal toys first thing in the morning.


Yes, first thing.  Including hair.

This easily kept my kids busy for 45 minutes.  Far longer than they ever would have played with one of the usual toys.

It's exactly the kind of morning I needed to get me through the last day before Rob got back!  Thumbs up McDonald's.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Accessories Make the Outfit

Awhile ago I came across some very cute little crocheted hats at a store.  But, being that the store was "Oh Baby!" I knew they were going to be out of my price range (where the average sweater..for a baby...is $90).  As fate would have it, a couple days later I came across almost the exact same hats on a blog with a free pattern to make them!

I don't crochet.  I don't knit.  I don't need another hobby.

I brought the pattern to my mom and asked her pretty please to make some for my girls.  It took a little rearranging of the instructions to get the perfect result.  You'll have to consult my mom for that part as I have NO idea what she was telling me about stitches even though I nodded my head like I was part of the conversation.

But, the results were great!



I didn't even plan on these outfits when I picked the hat colors, nor did I know my mom had the hats finished that day when I dressed the girls, but these outfits are just a sample of the options that will go with these cute hats!

Thanks mom!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sleepy Head Fred

One of the reasons I requested afternoon Kindergarten for Austin was selfish.  If he got into afternoon Kindergarten then he'd get on the bus at 12:50 and the girls would get in bed at 1pm.  I'd have at least 2 whole hours to myself every day.  Heaven!

Well, recently Ellie and Riley have both been boycotting naps.  Riley doesn't stay in bed and when she does finally fall asleep it's for 30 minutes (which leads me to wonder if she even sleeps) and then she's out again and downstairs. 

Ellie will go to sleep easily enough, and I'll wake her up 2 hours later, but then at 9pm she's still singing to herself at night.  At 10pm she finally falls asleep and at 6:15am she's wide awake again.  Which leads me to believe she doesn't need the nap anymore.  For the last couple days I've been letting her skip it (and Riley...but that is not my intention...it's Riley's).  She does well until about 5pm.  Then all hell breaks loose and my sweet little girl turns into Lucifer.  Well, maybe not that bad, but it's not pretty.

Yesterday she just plain passed out.

I was running around the house, Riley was being completely noisy, Austin was building legos and when I glanced at Ellie, who was playing in the family room I found her like this:

We could NOT wake her up.  Riley was pushing on her arm, yelling in her face, and being her best annoying little sister, but Ellie didn't even flinch.  I had to physically set her up into a sitting position before she even thought about cracking an eye open.

Makes me wonder if she's ready to skip nap or not?  I know I'm not ready to give up my two hours!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flower Power

I'm lucky in that I live next door to a woman with great fashion sense and a 5 year old daughter.  Lucky because when her daughter outgrows her super cute clothes, I get first crack at buying what I like (or what Ellie likes - because she definitely tells me these days) before she puts them in a sale or brings them to Goodwill.  Lucky because I've never seen Mia with a stain on a shirt in her life.  I'm convinced she has never spilt anything!  Lucky because when the clothes do come to our house they are practically  new.

But, of course they aren't.  I mean, I've seen the Jedi training Austin puts Mia through.  And when Ellie gets through with them some of them come out a bit more thread-bare than they came into this house.  And then I get sad because the cutest pair of jeans has a small hole in the knee.

Then another friend of mine gave me some jeans from her 5 year old daughter that had some cute appliques on them.  I was told that this 5 year fell and tore the knee of the jeans the first day she wore them.  But, I thought she had bought the jeans with this applique because they were that cute....I was inspired.  Afterall, these clothes need to make it through one more girl.  Riley doesn't look good with holes in her pants.

So, I rifled through Ellie's jeans and picked my first victim:

 First, I reinforced the inside of the pants with some iron patches to stop the raveling that was already going on.  Here's the only true hole so far, but the other side was one wearing away from a hole too.
 Then we went to Michaels and picked up some cute iron on flowers.  Well, actually, I picked them out while the kids looked at toy animals with Rob.  If I had let Ellie in on the decision of what patches we were buying I would still be at Michaels.

And in less than 10 minutes:


This was far too easy and I think they are still super cute jeans.  Ellie gave them a thumbs up and hopefully they hold up so next year Riley can share in her enthusiasm.