Monday, June 28, 2010

Pseudo Vacation

This past weekend we broke into my sister's house while they were out of town and utilized their pool.  Or, maybe I called her and asked permission even though they repeatedly tell us we can use it whenever we want.  But, it sounds more rebelious to say we broke in. 

Anyway, the point is, we had access to a nice pool this weekend and we definitely took advantage of it.  We first went there on Saturday morning.  When we originally had this great idea, it was steamy out and a pool sounded completely refreshing.  By the time we actually got together all the swimming gear and got to their house, the clouds had arrived and the pool was freezing.

But, everyone enjoyed themselves anyway.

On Sunday, we headed back (and had bumped up the temp of their pool a bit).  We brought some friends with us, and the weather cooperated much more.  Intermittent rain followed by bursts of sun.  The bursts of sun did a number on all the adults.  I think each of us received at least one patch of burned skin.  I can't speak for our neighbors, but between Rob and myself, I win for most burned surface area.  I must have completely skipped my stomach and legs (and two or three other random patches) when the sunscreen was being applied.

We also managed to save over 20 of these little guys:

I think the last count was 26 frogs, and most were still alive.  The others succumbed to the chlorine...or a bad throw on my part that may have landed them against a fence.  I was shocked that Austin held one.  He usually talks a big game when it comes to critters, but retreats when he's actually confronted by one.

Everyone really enjoyed themselves but hanging out in a pool all day is exhausting!

I'll give more notice the next time the Murphy's go out of town and you can all join us!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inaugural Movie Night

This past weekend Rob and I hosted a fairly impromtu BBQ in the neighborhood.  We had tossed around the idea with a couple neighbors earlier in the week, but never solidified any plans and most of the neighbors were invited about an hour before the BBQ started.  Oh, and also, our neighbors are awesome.

As parties typically go around here, Rob did all the cooking.  He was the grill master for the evening.  I made a some appetizers and a pasta salad, and we made some steak fries as well.  Add this to the treats and other food the neighbors brought and we had a feast!

There were some heated Baggo matches down on the lawn while the kids played on the swingset and the ladies hung out on the deck.  And during a break in the Baggo action Rob settled down on a swing.

And three kids settled down on him.  Can you see Austin?  He's in that tangled web of legs and arms someplace.

As the sun went down, the movie screen went up.  Rob had been promising Austin some outdoor Clone Wars for awhile so he made good on his promise that night before we all put our kids to bed and came back for the feature presentation:  The Hangover.

Due to the Clone Wars, our movie was started a bit later so not all of us (me) could make it through the whole movie.  I knew that with the next morning being Father's Day that I would be getting up early to deal with some overly tired children.

It was a great night and I can't wait for more of the same the rest of the summer!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tracy's Small Appliance Repair Shop

I'm going to have to come up with a catchier name, but I'm on my way to opening my shop any day now.

On Saturday, prior to our BBQ, we noticed our fridge was kind of warm.  Or, maybe not so much warm, but not as cold as it should be.  The freezer worked fine.  By Saturday night it got worse and by Sunday morning we officially declared it broken. 

It just so happened Sunday was Father's Day so after we let Rob sleep in and offered breakfast in bed (he doesn't usually accept this because he likes to eat at a table...weirdo), we promptly put the Father of the household to work.  He worked on first getting the plastic cover off the back of the fridge, where we believed a fan was located, only to find that it was the damper of the fridge, not the fan.  Then he did some research and found that the evaporator fan (which is what we were looking for) is actually located at the back of the freezer, so he set about getting access to that.  After 20 or so frustrating minutes, he gave up and called Sears for a repairman.

Sears said that it would be $75 just to come to our house, then parts and labor on top of that.  In addition, the earliest they would be able to come was Tuesday morning.  That was 3 whole days without a refrigerator, and also very expensive (in my opinion).

I grew up in a house where you didn't call repairmen.  You just called Dad.  So, I was determined that we could fix this ourselves.  Surely I must have some "fix it" genetics?  Right?  When Rob left for his Father's Day massage I was able to get to the fan in the back of the freezer.  I gave it a little tap and it started up.  I thought our problems were solved, but after further investigation, they were not.  The fan was not moving fast enough to force air up into the fridge, and it also would not start on it's own.

This morning I had my dad come over to investigate further with me (Thanks Dad!!).  We got the back cover completely off the freezer and he declared it was a bad motor.  Next I called Sears parts and for $69 I could have a new motor in my hands the next day.  I called Rob and he did some digging and found one in Coon Rapids for $40.  Sold!  Rob went on his lunch hour to pick it up, I went on my "lunch hour" to get it from him (Thanks Mom!).  Now I was back at home with the following:

And this:

The whole process probably took me close to an hour and a half.  If I had to do it again (and I pray that I don't!), I could probably do it in 45 minutes.  I have decided that the back of our freezer is aesthetically pleasing, but completely inconvienant from a repair standpoint.  Tiny screws in tight spaces.

I finally installed the motor, plugged it in, and it whirred to life.  Satisfied that air was reaching the fridge, I went to work putting everything back in place. 

I spent 15 minutes fitting these awful four screws into their correct places only to realize I forgot to pull the plug on the left (labeled "Grrrr!) through the hole in the freezer backing.  I had to unscrew all those awful screws and start over.

Now I'm left with a refrigerator that is working and this:

Only one extra piece....not bad.

Okay, just kidding.  I mean, I'm not...I do have an extra wire, but I have confirmed with my Dad that the green wire is unneccesary.  If you're in the market for a green piece of wire, I have one I'll sell you for $40.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

We're doing our best to spoil Rob today.  He definitely deserves it!  I hope that all the other fantastic Dad's out there enjoy a wonderful day as well!

Friday, June 18, 2010

New at the Zoo

We finally had a nice day in a string of wet days.  The kids and I have been going a bit stir crazy in the house so we were eager to visit zoo yesterday.  As a bonus, the zoo just opened up a couple of new attractions. 

New Monkeys:

And new Bats:

Cutest animals I've ever seen.  In all reality, they did open some new exhibits and they were fun to see.  Once we passed the new animals, we did the obligatory walk through the rest of the tropics trail and we were pleasantly surprised to find the Komodo Dragon actually moving around so we stopped to watch him for awhile.

Randomly, I have to say that every time we pass the Komodo Dragon I think about how dangerous this seemingly docile animal is.  It is incredibly difficult to survive a bite from a komodo dragon because of the immense amount of bacteria in their mouth.  It enters your blood stream and usually kills a person within a week. (Austin and I just watched a Nature episode together about these guys) point is, when Austin climbs on the side like this, not even close to flipping over the railing (I swear Mom, not even close!), I always think "What if he fell in..."  What, as a parent, would you do?  Me, I'd jump in too.  Past that, I don't have much of a plan. 

Back to your regularly scheduled program.....

The main attraction for this zoo visit was the splash pad.

The kids wore their swimsuits (and I forgot towels) and they were eager to get splashin'!  Austin and Riley wasted NO time getting wet.

Ellie was a little hesitant at first, but I ended up having to drag her away when the rest of the kids were done.

Watching the kids offered a bit of comic releif for the adults.  Those little floor spouts shoot up water and the kids go wild and stick out their hands to block the flow and randomly, the spouts stop.  Well this, of course, sends the curious kids to their hands and knees to look into the spout hole to see why the water stopped. I bet you can guess what happens next.  The water randomly starts again and gets the kids right in the face when they least expect it.  It didn't bring anyone to tears, but it definitely shocked them every time (and yes, no lessons were learned and they continued to stick their face right in the line of fire time after time).

Without towels, the kids were a bit cold.  Austin found an empty bench that he could lay out on to let the sunshine warm him up.

We followed up the splash pad with lunch, playing at the new zoo park, a bloody nose for Austin, and a quick visit with the grizzly bears.  All in all, another great zoo visit.  I see a couple more splash pad visits in our future (hopefully with towels).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Riley's Photoshoot

This past weekend Ellie received a tiera and earings set for her birthday.  Riley insisted on trying them on.

"What?  This old thing?"

"Darrrrrling, you look just divine!"

"Awwww, shucks!  You guys are making my blush!"

Okay, so maybe at first we giggled at her because she looked just a teensy bit like a drag queen.  But, now that I look back at the photos, all I see is the cutey-patootey she really is.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Twins Territory

Rob, his dad, and brothers started a tradition a few years ago.  You see, Bob, Rob's dad, is a huge Braves fan.  Huge.  With the intensity of which he watches the games, you'd think he is part owner.  Maybe he is.

But, I digress, the guys have started to attend Braves games at a different stadium each year.  From what I can remember, they've been to Atlanta, Washington D.C, Milwaukee, and this year the new Twins stadium.  It just so happens that the Twins played the Braves this past weekend, and since the Runchey's were already in town for Ellie's birthday, it worked out well.  Or, maybe we planned Ellie's birthday around the Braves....either way, it worked out well.

The guys went to the game on Friday night.  The weather was crappy all day, but cleared up just in time for the game.  The Twins won.

On Saturday night Patti and I joined the guys for the second game.  Hence, my camera came too, and this is the game I can document.

The weather:  not so great.  It could have been much worse, but it was a steady drizzle until the 6th or 7th inning.  Around the 7th inning Rob and I went to go walk around the new stadium and I used the weather as a perfect excuse to get a new shirt!  I may, or may not have underdressed just a tad thinking about a cute new twins shirt.  The world will never know.

New shirt in hand (or actuallly, on body) we headed back to our seats with renewed zest and warmth.  When we sat down we realized it had stopped raining and it turned into a nice night for some baseball. 

There were a few suspenseful plays and the Braves pulled off a victory.  Although I am a Twins fan no matter who they are playing, I was happy that Bob was able to see his team win.

Here's the guys after the game:

I tried to get a shot of Patti:

Once Rob convinced her that the steady rain did not completely ruin her hair:

And proof that I was there as well:

I am not a huge baseball fan, but that game was a lot of fun and I would have even gone back for the last game of the series on Sunday, if I had tickets.  But, since the Braves pounded the Twins during that game, perhaps it was for the best we didn't go.

Thanks Bob for taking us out to the game! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ellie's Family Party

We capped off Ellie's birthday celebrations this weekend with her family birthday party.  Typically, the kids get one party with their friends and one party with their family.  Since Ellie is 3, and since I decided that "friend" parties should start at 4 or 5 (depending on if they have friends!), she had a small party with this household on her actual birthday, and then her extended family came over on Saturday. 

The weather did not cooperate, but luckily, I had a plan for this.

I borrowed my neighbors jumpy castle and set it up in the garage.  As jumpy castles tend to be, this was a hit.

Not that the cousins need any help entertaining themselves.  They all seem to play so well together whether there is a jumpy castle involved or not.

After a nice lunch, Ellie was finally able to open presents.  She ripped one open, gasped as if it is the most precious gift she had ever seen, and then set aside to tear into the next one and repeat the drama.  She truly did love every single gift though, so maybe she wasn't as rehearsed as she seemed?

We followed present with cake.

And my favorite picture from the day:

She absolutely LOVED her birthday and I love this photo because that is just one truly happy girl.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sneaky Snack

This morning, after I stepped on yet another piece of granola bar on the floor, I decided I would vacuum.  After I finished the first floor, Ellie declared the vacuum was too loud.  I suggested that when I went to finish on the second floor, she could remain on the first floor.  It would be quieter and everyone is happy.  Fair enough, she says. 

Well no, she didn't say that, but she thought it was a great idea. I could tell.

When I finished vacuuming the second floor, which generally takes about 20 minutes, I heard Ellie yell "Mom!  Come and see what I did!!"  A little nervous, and even though I heard her perfectly clear I said "What?" and she replied "Come and see what I ate!!!"  She was terribly excited about whatever she consumed and I was terribly anxious about what she could have gotten into.  As I rounded the corner she shoved her frosting stained hands up at me and said "Look at my hands!  I had some cake and it was DELICIOUS!"  She was as proud as can be!

On her face, on her hands, and in her belly.

She's a problem solver that Ellie.  The cake was out of her reach, no big deal, she pushed over a stool and fixed that problem lickety-split!  She even retreived her Strawberry Shortcake pool while she was up there.  I'm sure it was a delightful little treat and play time.

The cake has seen better days.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ellie is 3!

Today my little princess turned three.  Her only requirements for her birthday were that it was pink and princess-y.  When she went to bed last night I decorated the downstairs with pink crepe paper.  Check.  The "princess" part mostly came in the form of presents.  Double check.

When she woke up this morning, my normally grumpy morning girl popped up in bed and said "Is it my birthday?"  After being awake for 10 minutes, and being told 15 times she couldn't open presents until Daddy got home, she decided she wanted donuts for breakfast.  In typical Runchey kid fashion, we went to Donut World in our PJs.  Ellie waltzed into the small shop, threw her hands up in the air and declared "It's my Birthday, everybody!!!" She was ecstatic because they had pink donuts (they get these every June) and she was convinced they were just for her birthday.

After donuts, Ellie selected the park we were going to play at.  After close to two hours at the park, we headed back home where Ellie chose to dine on Mac and Cheese.  Then the three amigoes ran around the house chasing each other stopping each time they entered the family room to aggressively hug until they all fell over.  They did this, non stop, for 30 minutes.  I was tired just watching them.

Thankfully, shortly after I woke the birthday girl up from her nap, Daddy came home and she was finally able to open presents!  She ripped them open, tossed them aside and started on the next one.  Austin, who helped me shop, blurted out what each present was just before Ellie had time to find out for herself.

This microphone is going to be a hoot.  Ellie loves to sing made up songs for us with the dramatics of a Broadway star...this plastic thing makes her voice an amplified echo of sorts.

I struggled through putting together her Strawberry Shortcake pool. 

Not because the directions were all that tricky, but more so because Riley insisted on "helping" and her idea of doing such was to take away my directions and/or vital pieces.  Thanks Ry.

After playing with the presents a bit, Ellie chose McDonald's for her birthday dinner and then it was home for cake and ice cream.

Ellie is our spunky, strong-willed, fairly independent little girl.  She loves to make a new friend anywhere and everywhere, and she never ceases to make us laugh.  There is a lot of love in that little girl and a lot of love surrounding her too.

Happy 3rd Birthday Ellie!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


None of my babies took to pacifiers.  No one has a favorite stuffed animal (except me).  No one sucked their thumb.  In fact, until Riley, there weren't really any vices that needed to be "broken" with my kids.

Enter Riley and her blankets.  Or, her "stinkies".  That is what she calls them...or used to call them.  She has recently transitioned to "bankies".  There are two of them, one pink, and one yellow.  Or, one that used to be yellow but has taken on a new shade of dingy.

Today was blanket washing day.

This is not Riley's favorite day.  She stands by the washing machine and cries until I find something to distract her with.  Today, it was a "stand in" blanket that finally calmed her down.

And, she is holding onto that blanket for dear life, lest her horrible mother throw it into the blanket eating machine with the others.

Today when I went upstairs to retrieve her prized posessions she called up the stairs "Mommy!  Wer are oooo?"  and I answered I was upstairs and she yelled back, clear as day "Didjoo find my bankies?" with a hint of excited anticipation about the impending reunion.

And then it was something straight out the movies with a slow motion run to retrieve the blankets (that yellowish blob in the bottom of the picture).  Look at her face...she is SO excited.

The expression on her face is the very reason I am hesistant to follow through with my plan.  My plan to extract a part of her blanket that grosses me out.


That is straight out of the wash.  I do not know what kind of blanket eating, hybrid bacteria lingers in my baby's mouth, but that is disgusting.  The plan is to cut it off and re-hem the blanket good as new.  But, I'm afraid I'll screw up, and then I will see this face 24 hours a day.

This "my bankies are perfect as they are" face is so much cuter.