Sunday, January 31, 2010

1 in a 300 million!

Going from Tracy Smith to Tracy Runchey was an adjustment 9+ years ago.  As Tracy Smith, never once was I asked how to spell my last name.  Well, there was that one time...but that person was an idiot.  As Tracy Runchey, I no longer wait for anyone to ask for the spelling.  When someone asks for my name (and is writing it down), I reply "Tracy Runchey...R-U-N-C-H-E-Y".  And of course, no one knows how to pronounce it, even though I don't find anything phonetically challenging about it.

But, there is one feature of my married name that I didn't have before!
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Over 300 Million people in the US and I am the one and only Tracy Runchey.

I always knew I was one in a million (or 300)!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


We're trying to come up with fun indoor adventures for our kids that don't cost an arm and a leg and get us all out of the house.  Today's adventure took us to the Minnesota Children's Museum.  I had been there once before in that brief window of time between the births of Ellie and Riley.  I remember enjoying it then, and after today I am trying to remember why.

First, the price was $8.95 each.  Even Riley.  In my opinion, that is steep.  I am okay with it for someone Austin's age and older, maybe even Ellie, but to charge a 1 year old $9 is steep.  Luckily, I get a discount through Cargill so everyone enjoyed a $6.95 admission.  Even luckier, about 2 seconds before  that transaction was complete I found a coupon on the floor for $5 admission for up to 6 people so I had him use that instead.  I ended up saving us about $20 and was happy with the $25 price tag to get us all in.

The place was packed.  Also, for a place that caters to children and families with young children, it is one of the least stroller friendly facilities I have ever been in.  All complaining aside, the kids did have fun.  First we hit up the water area. 

My kids miss their water table (and summer).  Riley just might have stayed here all day if we had let her.

From there we went to the area that is set up like a city for people under 4 feet tall.  Rob stuck out like a sore thumb.  Our kids immediately piled into the dog house.

This was only about 30 minutes into our adventure and I was ready to pack it up and head home.  Instead, we headed down the "street" to the recording studio.  It's cute.  The kids get up on a blue screen stage with fake instruments and jam to some tunes and they can look up at the TV screens and see themselves being added to a music video.  Like a meteorologist giving the latest (cold) forecast.  We learned a few things here.

  1. Austin does not know how to play the guitar
  2. Ellie does not like being picked on and does a good job sticking up for herself(other small girl trying to steal Ellie's maraca and sticker)
  3. Riley is a dancin' fool!
After we signed our record deals we went to the "ant hill".  This is perhaps my least favorite part.  Remember when I write of the zoo and the little tunnels and how I don't like not knowing where my children are?  Well, multiply that by 10 and you have the "ant hill".  It's a maze of tunnels WAY too small for a parent and you cannot see the kids crawl around in there except for a small 12 inch square of screen every 10 feet.  Plus, there are numerous ways in and out.  At one point I could hear Ellie asking for my help but I could not find her anywhere.  I might have suffered a minor anxiety attack if we would have stayed there any longer than the fifteen minutes we did.

Moving on.  We went to see their dinosaur exhibit.  We thought Austin would really appreciate this part.  He zipped through most of it showing only mild enthusiasm.  Until he came to the Troodon nest.

He sat perched on these eggs for quite some time.  One lady came by and thought she'd strike up a conversation with him.  It went a bit like this:

Lady:  You sittin' on those eggs to hatch them?
Austin:  Yes.
Lady:  Do you think True-don's ate..
Austin:  It's Tro-o-don
Lady:  What do you think True-don's ate?
Austin:  Tro-O-dons ate leaves, and all kinds of stuff.

And then at this point the lady turns to me and says under her breath "Judging by the possum in that one's mouth, I'd say he's mistaken and they were meat eaters".  I was going to tell her that my son probably knew more about dinosaurs than most people in that room combined, but I didn't want to sound like the overly proud mom I am, so I instead just told her that, in fact, Troodons were omnivores and ate both meat and leaves.

By this time I wanted to bathe in Purell and we rounded up the troops to go home.  On our way to the car we went to a McDonald's that needed to be about 4 times the size it was.  Close quarters.

But, we made it home and accomplished our goals.  We all got out of the house and the kids had fun.  I didn't get my Purell bath, but I did take Austin to the gym to go swimming while the girls were asleep and I think the chlorine has never felt so wonderful.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fear no longer

I crave organization in my life.  For that very reason, I cringe every time I needed to open up this cupboard during the day.

This cupboard is home to the kids' coloring books, work books, random candles, scissors, stickers, play doh, and basically anything else that I wanted out of reach but accessible on daily basis.  Everytime I opened it I was afraid I would be drowned in an avalanche of craft supplies.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I took the remaining $10 of our home improvement budget for the month and went to Target in search of solace.  Solace, and the cheapest container systems to get the job done.

This was no easy matter as this cupboard is only ten inches in depth and most of the containers I was attracted to were eleven inches.  I finally settled on some clear, 99 cent shoeboxes and a larger double decker container.  I added a couple upright file holders to the cart and went home with a smile on my face having stayed under budget, and confident I had what I needed.

As I emptied out the cupboard to adjust some shelves, I found a lot of out of place items.  This was the best find.

I meant to get that framed about 10 years ago.  It's been perfectly preserved under a pile of finger paints and construction paper.

This double decker storage container did not fit appropriately into my plan, but I will say it is my favorite purchase from the night.  If you are looking for a suitable play doh and play doh accessory container, look no further.

Here's the result:

Sadly, it does not look much different to me.  Though, I no longer fear opening the cupboard. 

Someday, when I no longer worry about someone chopping off their hair with a scissors, or scribbling on my walls with their crayons, I will find a better solution at ground level and this kitchen cabinet can go back to housing kitchen things.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jedi Training

I tell you what...if Jedi's were this cute:

I might be more inclined to watch the Star Wars series.

Maybe she is closer to one of those cute teddy bear Ewok things.

As Kerry mentioned here, Austin was the recipient of his very own Jedi cloak.  I'm told it's what Padawans wear.  Furthermore, I'm told Padawans are Jedi's in training.  He lived in this for the full first day he received it.  He ran around the house doing this:

And I pretended to fall victim to "the force" every time.

Then came Sunday.  That sad, sad day when the Vikings decided to throw the ball when they could have instead run it and kicked a field goal to land them in the Super Bowl (in my opinion).  My mom (like anyone) does not do well with anxiety and stress and that very game was putting her over the edge.  To get away from it all she went off in a corner and threw together a couple more cloaks for the girls.

Now I have a trio of monks playing around my house.

Austin is quick to help the girls adjust their outfits and teach them the ways of the Jedi. 

He stops short of suggesting they call him "master".

Look that youngest Padawan and how eager she is to learn how to use "the force".

"It's like this, Riley.  Spread your fingers wide, in your best "jazz hand" and scowl."

It was a proud day for Austin when his two little sisters joined him in his attempt to take over our house.

They need to work on their scowls.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Go Vikings!

We're off to cheer on the Vikes!  The whole family is dressed in their purple and gold (well, except Ellie, who prefers pink...but it's a Vikings jersey).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Clip-Clop Clip-Clop!

Today, after we dropped off Austin at preschool, we skipped the gym/Playworks and ran errands instead.  That left us with a little bit of time at home before we needed to pick him up.

I kind of like days like this because the girls seem to bond a little when their older brother isn't around giving them orders of who they should pretend to be at any given moment.  Instead, Ellie gets her chance to order Riley around.  It's the Chain of Command around here.  Today, Ellie's orders where that Riley dance with her..."princess style".  This involves Ellie holding both of her partners hands and  dancing in a circle and singing "la la la" to no tune whatsoever. 

Well, today, Riley was having none of it.  She did not want to dance.  She informed Ellie she did not want to dance no short of fifteen times.  When that was not working, she took to her usual retreat.  The table.

And Ellie followed.  Great. 

Now I have two cheeseballs climbing on my table. 

However, I was a little bit impressed with Ellie.  Not because of her ability to climb.  I've seen her climb far greater obstacles. No, I'm impressed because she climbed up there sporting her high heels.

I can barely walk in high heels and my daughter walks, runs, jumps, dances, and climbs furniture in them.

If she is home, she is wearing them.  They are by far the most used, and most annoying toy in her posession.  Fake plastic high heels clomping around wood floors = one irritating noise.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Caught in the act

Riley is mischevious.  She is also a climber.  She is also a scrapper.  If she sees something that she wants, she is going to get it.  For example, Ellie left a bit of her granola bar on the table after breakfast.  This is what Riley did when I "left the room".
First she pulls out the chair and climbs up.

She zeroes in on the prize (if you look at her cheekbones, you can tell she is smiling at what she sees in reach).  "This will be easy!"  she thinks.

She heaves herself up onto the table.  This is no small feat given the size of her belly.

She spots the flash of the camera.  Busted.  But she's smiling.  She is trying to play the "I'm cute" card.

She realizes I don't think it's so cute and starts on her way down.

"Who me?  Nope, I wasn't doing anything.  Just sitting here hanging out, Mom."

Friday, January 15, 2010

A little story

This past week Austin was laid up with a fever for a few days.  Despite his fever, I usually had to remind him to take it easy and lay around on the couch.  I believe it was Tuesday that he suggested we watch Scooby-Doo.  We have three Scooby-Doo DVDs.  One is Austin's, one Austin gave to me for my birthday, and one Austin gave to Rob for his birthday.  Austin refers to each DVD as his, mine, or Rob's.  I don't know who's is who's but you better believe he does.  On this particular occasion Austin requested we watch "Dad's" DVD.  Not knowing what DVD that was I asked "Is that the one called 'Sofari, So Good'?"

Without skipping a beat, and completely serious, Austin replied "No Mom.  It has demons in it, so I would say 'So far it is NOT so good'".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Riley is a bit of a trendsetter in our house.  Our perhaps it is more that she is only one year old and doesn't have much of her own stuff (not hand me downs) and so everything she puts on, or plays with, is/was once somebody else's and when that somebody else sees her wearing or playing with said item, they immediately want it back. 
That was a hard sentence to read. 
Anyway, this brings us to slippers.  Riley will happily wear either Austin's or Ellie's slippers all day.  Not that she gets the opportunity, because once Austin or Ellie see Riley wearing their slippers (the very slippers they wore for 5 minutes and ditched in some corner) they immediately want them back.

Today Riley had had enough.  She found the next best thing and has been wearing them all morning.

And here is proof that I take too many pictures:

I didn't suggest this pose.  All of their mouths are forming the word "cheese".

Today on our errands, and before the other two decide that snow boots and footy pajamas are the new trend, we are going to go find Riley a pair of her very own slippers.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Time on Skates

Austin has been talking about ice skating a lot lately.  I'm not sure if there is a hockey player in his preschool class or how this notion got in his head, but he was fairly certain that he should go ice skating.  Since our weather has been less than pleasant lately, I was very happy when my sister reminded me that our gym has two indoor skating rinks attached to it.  I was even more pleased when I leared that they had open skating every day and that it was free for members and only $2 to rent skates!

Austin and I set out to try it out this past Tuesday.  We dropped the girls off at Playworks and headed over to the rink.  In preperation, I spent the entire drive there, and any other opportunities I could find, debriefing Austin on what was about to happen.  It was going to be cold.  It was going to be hard.  He was going to fall.  It was going to be hard.  He was going to fall.  You get the point.  After the 8th time I explained that he wasn't going to be able to just skate off on his own right away he replied "Okay Mom.  You mean because I'm not that coordinated yet?" 

Ummm...yes.  Why didn't I just think of that?

I took to the ice first to get my ol' skating legs back.  It was more slippery than I remember.  But then, I don't know that I've ever skated on a real, well maintained, ice rink.  My experiences stop at flooded baseball diamonds.

Once I was prepared to keep myself standing as well as Austin, I let him join me.  His enthusiasm started out high.  The pictures are horrible because I couldn't stop moving.  But, see:

He's still smiling.

After about 5 minutes, his enthusiasm wained quite a bit.

After about 10 minutes, he declared he was done.  However, I don't believe in letting my kids quit things becuase they find it difficult.  Whether they are 4 or 14, I will make them keep trying.  We took some small breaks, he spent a lot of time laying on the ice to rest his knees.  Why his knees hurt when I was the one carrying all his weight around is beyond me!  Then we took to the benches for a real rest.  At this point I think Austin started crying out of frustration and wanted to be done.  But, I'm evil.  Also, I didn't want to end on that kind of note so I forced him out on the ice once again.

This time I finally thought up a game:  "Red light, green light".  It worked like a charm.  Soon there were giggles along with great progress.  Austin tweaked the game a bit.  He suggested I say "Carbonite" when I wanted him to freeze.  He is a Star Wars geek.  He is lucky I have seen that small part of one of the movies (I'm not sure which one) where Hans Solo is frozen in carbonite.

But, if it made it fun, I was game.  So, I would yell "Carbonite" (and the other parents skating by looked at me like I was crazy) and Austin would do this:

Then I would skate back about 4 feet and say "Unfrozen!" (I couldn't think of a better word) and then Austin would skate, all by himself, to me.  We did this over and over and then I decided that although he was still having fun, it would be a good time to call it a day.  I like to leave 'em wanting more.

I had my doubts about this being a successful trip, but Austin has already mentioned several times that he would like to go again!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thanks PBS!

On New Year's Eve, PBS ran a segment called "The Best of Nature".  Or, something to that affect.  I would like to say Thank You to PBS.  As a family without cable, I can't just flip on the TV at any moment and find something that will entertain my child when I want to do something like....shower.  However, Rob saw this was on, recorded it, and Austin is in television ecstasy.  I'm not sure he moved until the show was over.  Then he spent the next half hour reinacting every animal he learned about.  It was a great show (and shower).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Christmas Celebration!

This past weekend we traveled down to West Bend, IA for our final Christmas celebration.  The kids were completely excited at the thought of opening more presents, spending a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's, and hanging out with their cousins!

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, everything was pretty normal and under control.  The only other visitors at that time were Shelly (Rob's sister) and her family (husband and two little girls).  And I guess Jon (Rob's brother) was a visitor from college.  But, my point is, things were fairly tame. 

That night, Shelly and Kerry introduced us to a new board game.  It's called Settlers of Catan and it pretty much consumed our free time from there on out.  It's a strategy game which I have never really cared for in the past, but this game was a lot of fun!  Unfortunately, it also is a very long game and usually took us around 2 hours to complete which meant we were all heading to bed around 11:30pm and waking up with kids 6 hours later.  And Shelly, check out Kerry's eyes.  Seems to me you now know how he wins at home so much...having a little looksie at your cards! (Just kidding Kerry).

On Saturday morning the rest of the bunch, and five additional kids arrived.  There were 10 grandkids present ages 8 (almost), 4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, and 10 months.  Just to give you an idea of the craziness Patti and Bob had on their hands having us all there!  Taylor (the oldest) generously packed up all her old princess and dress up things and gave each 2 year old girl their very own princess backpack full of girly gear!  Ellie was in heaven!

I can't believe I used to think she was going to be a tomboy.  I'm in trouble.

On Saturday afternoon, when almost everyone was awake (Kaitlyn, 10 months, was sleeping but we were assured she wouldn't mind), the kids were allowed to open their presents.  Chaos ensued.

For some, the commotion was a bit much.

Riley retreated to the safety of Dad's legs to decompress and read a book.

On Saturday night the adults had a gift exchange game.  Our family walked away the proud owners of a cute "Welcome" sign for our house and a Snuggie.  I have to say, aside from the massive amounts of static electricity it generates, the Snuggie isn't so bad.

Sunday, everyone came back for more food and fun.  And tackling.

The boys decided Uncle Jon was a good target.

We polished off a great weekend with some birthday cake.  Hunter turned one year old on December 29th.  Perhaps the greatest day of the year a person could be my completely biased opinion.

Thanks for another great Christmas celebration Runchey's!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

I love my birthday!  Everyone should!  That is, everyone should love their birthday.  Not everyone should love my birthday (though I can't think of a reason why not).  Well, maybe if I could make a bit further away from Christmas (it's the 29th) that would be okay, but that's my only complaint. 

Rob knows how much I enjoy my birthday and every year he does his best to make it special.  Back when I was a "working woman" I once worked on my birthday.  It turned out to be one of the worst work days ever and I never repeated that mistake.  Now that I stay home with the kids (and work harder than ever), I don't really have the option to take the day off.  But, in my requests to Rob, I did suggest I receive Caribou first thing that morning, along with donuts, and as much time as he could spare before he needed to leave for work so I could lay in bed and enjoy my treats in tranquility.  It was a beautiful half hour.

After Rob left, the kids and I hurried through the morning routines and headed to the zoo.  I thought, as a treat to myself, I would let the animals entertain my children instead of trying to come up with ideas on my own.  It sort of worked.  It sort of was an ulcer in the making too.  The nice thing is that the MN Zoo does a great job of giving little kids all sorts of cool ways to get closer to the animals and their habitats.  The bad thing is that this involves tunnels far too small for me, but tunnels that my children LOVE to run into.  Furthermore, there are usually 3 exits from said tunnels which means once my kids enter, I have to dart around the outside rounding them up from each exit.  This is why it's usually best to come to the zoo with at least one other adult to play more of a man to man defense.  Lesson learned.  But, to credit my kids, they did ask before they entered each tunnel and they honored my request to hold hands while inside  so that no one (Ellie) got lost or scared.

Rob had also asked what I wanted to do that night.  I said that I would like to stay home with the family, have someone cook my favorite dinner, and to be present, but not be a "parent".  Around 2pm, as I rounded hour three of playing "Komodo Dragon" with Austin, I questioned my response to Rob.  Why didn't I just say "I would like to celebrate my birth by leaving the house...alone".  Rob did great though.  Sausage and Peppers, and a "cake" to boot! 

Onto the presents.  A new whisk, a caribou gift card, and a mini muffin pan.  All things I asked for! 

I wasted no time breaking in my new utensils.  For dinner the next night, I made the cutest little corn bread muffins you've ever seen!

Seriously....tiny!  Tiny things are fun to eat.

It was a great birthday!  Thanks to the fam!