Monday, August 30, 2010

Away he goes!

Austin just got on the bus for kindergarten.  Literally 10 minutes ago.

He was excited.  So was I.

Ellie was not.  She wanted to go.

Riley didn't care one way or another as long as we all "oohed" and "aahhhed" over her new Dora shoes.


He still hasn't grasped the concept of just smiling normal for the camera.  Someday...

My highlight came when he got on the bus, turned around and yelled "Good bye Mom and Dad!  I love you!" with a grand farewell way.

And my second highlight was once Mia and him selected a seat (almost the very last, while all the other kids were in the first 5 rows) and he waved to me and blew me a kiss.  All on his own, no prompting on my part.

That's Austin blowing me a kiss!

My neighbor followed the bus to school and just called to report that they all happily marched off the bus and are standing in line behind their teacher ready to go in for their first day.  She said Austin stopped right away to say something to his teacher but she couldn't make out what it was he said.  Typical Austin.  Mia and Austin are keeping an eye on each other and making sure the other is near.  That's how they roll.

Now my girls are asleep and Austin is in school and I have my 2 hours to myself once again.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sound of Silence

Friday afternoon Rob came home early, packed up the eagerly awaiting kids, and headed off to Iowa.  I stayed home. 

By myself.

I cannot believe how quiet this house is!  All weekend I have been stopping to listen to various sounds of the house that I never knew existed.  It's almost eerie.

I went right to work the second they left.  I had big plans this weekend.  I was going to spend all day/night cleaning on Friday.  Not just cleaning, but purging.  I went through each child's room selecting toys and clothes they no longer used.  I even went through my own closet.  The result was 3 boxes of clothes for an upcoming garage sale, one large tote of toys to sell, one large tote of classic toys to save for future generations, and two bags of clothes and toys to give to Goodwill.  It was extremely satisfying but it took up about 4.5 hours of the day which meant I didn't get a chance to actually clean the house like I wanted.  Saturday morning I slept in, made some coffee, read in bed for awhile, and then got back to work.  I cleaned places that haven't seen a rag in 5 years.  Gross.  I took down our wood blinds and cleaned those for the first time ever (and maybe the last time - what an awful job!).  I even cleaned light fixtures.  Then I got even crazier and started wiping off the walls.  They are only dirty from my waist down with little grubby fingerprints. 

It's while I was cleaning the walls that I realized how much destruction our children have caused to the walls.  My dad brought me over some spackle (he was in the neighborhood at Lowes...convenient!) and I got to work.  Patching small holes in our walls.  Then I painted those spots.  I have to say, I HATE painting.  But, this was one of the most satisfying jobs from the weekend.  I'm already planning the next set of walls I'm going to tackle.

My weekend wasn't all work.  Saturday afternoon I met my friend Carrie at Parley Lake Winery.  We tasted a flight of wines, bought a bottle, and sat in their peaceful little garden area to enjoy a glass of wine.  That particular day, only the tasting room (garage) was open, but on September 1st, they have an orchard store that will be open as well.  Decent wines but nothing that I loved.

From there we made a pit stop at my house and then headed to another winery called Crofut.  For some reason, I wasn't expecting much of this place, but I enjoyed it more than the first.  I still didn't walk away with any "must have" wines, but the ambiance was great and we ordered a cheese and cracker plate to go with our wine.  In addition to the snacks, they clipped a bunch of grapes straight off the vines and gave them to us to eat.  These were the best grapes I have ever had.  I might go back there just for the bunch of grapes.

Following the wineries we headed back to my house to make some dinner.  Carrie brought along her home made pasta, we made a salad with our fresh garden veggies, and garlic bread.  Our other friend Michelle joined us and we had a good old fashioned girls night.  It has been a long time since the three of us have gotten to just sit at some one's house and enjoy a nice dinner.

Something about red wine renders me incapable of sleep so I have now been up since 3am, but, oddly, I'm not that tired.  I tackled the last wooden blind, read the paper, and had some breakfast.  I believe I have about 3.5 hours left of my "staycation".  I know my kids are having a blast, and as quiet as it is here, I will probably be able to hear their protests when Rob announces it's time to go home.

It's not every day you get to go to the park in your PJs:

(sent from Rob yesterday)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Aaaand Theeeeyy're Off!

This past weekend we deliberately disobeyed our naptime ritual and took the kids to the horse track instead.  Canterbury Downs has been free admission all summer and we had yet to take advantage of such close and free entertainment.  With only two weekends left of racing, we decided to act quick.  Sunday is "family" day and so we ate some lunch, skipped some naps, and got there for 1:30 post time.

On Family Day they have free face painting, free pony rides, and a free petting zoo (of sorts).  It was a bit much for Riley to take in.  Especially without a nap. 

All of those out of the ordinary opportunities, and our kids just wanted to play here:

But, we did eventually get to see a few races.  For the first race we had them stand right at the fence so the horses would go racing right past them.

The next couple races we took in from the bleachers.  Actually, I think we may have been sitting in seats reserved for owners.  But, no one said anything, so apparently it wasn't a big deal, or we fooled them all!

We also lucked out with some added entertainment.  Apparently it was "Mascot Day" so they loaded up six or seven local mascots into the gates and they had a foot race.  The kids thought that was pretty funny. 

The Shakopee Saber was running as if his life depended on it, while the others were just being goofy mascots.  I have a feeling that Saber didn't want his high school buddies making fun of him for being beat by a gigantic pee cup.  Yes, one of the mascots was a pee sample cup.

On our way out the kids rode some horses in their own race.

Riley won by a nose.

It was all too much for our littlest jockey to take in.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Outie Surprise

Austin's always had a cute little belly button.  It was sort of an innie and sort of an outie.  Then, at his 5 year check up, the pediatrician told me that what I thought was an outie was really an umbilical hernia.  They are not uncommon in kids, but usually they fix themselves by age 5.  Austin's didn't, so he needed to get it fixed surgically.  We decided to have it all taken care of before school started so he wouldn't miss any fun in Kindergarten. 

Wednesday was surgery day.  I had been preparing Austin for it a little here and a little there.  Mostly, he understood that he was going to have surgery on his belly button, that there was a "hole" in it, and that afterwards he would get presents.  I'm pretty sure he focused most of his thoughts on that last part.  He was actually excited to go to the Dr. on Wednesday.

The whole process before the surgery was kind of a "hurry up and wait" game.  We were told to get there at 12:30 for a 2:00 surgery.  We spent most of that time sitting in a little ER cubby hole watching cartoons.  Austin met all the nurses and doctors that would be in his operating room.  He told one nurse, when sat next to him, that she smelled.  She said "Well, I promise I brushed my teeth this morning!" and he said (through a pinched nose) "I don't think it's your breath, I think you need a shower".  Nice Austin.  Rob and I squirmed in our seats and offered up apologies.  But, truth be told, she was a smoker, and she did stink.

The anesthesiologist came in to ask us the same questions for the 4th time (we were prepared for this repetitiveness by the nurse) and he was a complete spaz.  I'm fairly certain he was the same Dr. who came into my labor room when I was having Riley.  He was wearing a filthy pair of jeans, a ratty shirt, and mud caked boots.  I thought he was the janitor and then learned he was the anesthesiologist and would be poking a needle in my back.  After talking to him yesterday I decided it is a good thing he is only around women in labor for a few minutes and that he is bringing relief because he would surely have something thrown at him if he were around any longer.  Anyway, I digress.  He told Austin "I'm not the bad guy in there you need to worry about..." at which point I interrupted him and said "There are NO bad guys in there you need to worry about."  He was trying to use some sort of analogy about a good guy in a western movie (what 5 year old watches westerns?) and then settled on saying he wasn't a bad guy like Darth Vader wearing black, he was a good guy wearing white. To which Austin replied, "Well, the clones are white, and they are bad."  We were okay to see him stop trying and just leave us to our cartoons.

The nurses, as they usually are, were fantastic.  Austin was extremely nervous/sad/anxious about having to put a mask over his face to fall asleep.  One nurse came back and made a big production about making a deal with him.  If he would wear the mask, she had a really cool Cars surprise for him.  They shook on it, and Austin received this:

I was shocked.  I was expecting some more stickers for the boy.  He was happy and it calmed him down until he was wheeled away.  I was able to go with him and he enjoyed riding on the bed into the operating room, and he liked that the operating table had a heated pad on it, and he even thought it was sort of cool that the thing they taped on his finger glowed, but he still did not want that mask on his face.  But, I held his hand, sang him a song, and he squirmed under the mask for 30 seconds before he fell asleep.  Or, at least they told me he was asleep.  He sure seemed tense for a kid that was asleep, but I'm guessing they just meant "out of it enough to let go of his hand and leave".

Rob and I went to the cafeteria for a cookie and pop and by the time we were done eating our snacks it seemed like the surgery was over and the Dr. told us everything went perfect.  It took about another hour before we got to see him.  The nurses said he was just a "Chatty Cathy" back there and they were all enjoying his conversation.  One of them said he was very funny and should be in theater.  Makes me wonder what he was telling them.

After another hour or so we were finally released.  He had a local anesthetic on his incision so he was bouncing off the walls, feeling no pain.  He ate a bit of a happy meal and enjoyed some Star Wars. 

This morning he woke up a little slower.  He has had a low fever most of the day and is complaining that his shoulders hurt.  All things we were told to expect.  My guess is by Friday morning he'll be back to normal.  With a regular innie and hospital booties (he hasn't taken those off yet).

Terrible Twos are Here

I should say they are "officially" here.  Riley has been testing out the "terrible two" stage for awhile now, but now she is officially the age to match the adjective.

We celebrated on the 9th by going to Minnesota's Largest Candy store.  It's in Jordan.  I think it's actually called Jim's Apple Barn or something like that.  I am not sure the claim of "Minnesota's Largest" is a verified fact, but it was fun nonetheless.  The Murphy's (minus Mike) and Grandma and Grandpa Smith joined us. 

We each picked out something.  They had quite a selection, including candy filled with real bugs.

I was happy to find some old favorites like Big League Chew and Candy Cigarettes.

Grandma bought each of the kids a pack of smokes.  Riley picked it up right away...should I be worried? 

As kids we used to love going up to the nearest gas station and getting these in the winter.  Then we could eat them outside and blow out "smoke" if it was cold enough.  My how times change...I'm fairly certain that type of activity would be discouraged these days.

After the candy store we hit up the Jordan McDonald's (or "Old McDonald's" according to Ellie) because it has a Playland attached.  Maddie told us it was extremely gross smelling, but the other kids didn't seem to mind and were effectively worn out for nap time.

When Rob got home Riley opened her presents and we all enjoyed a pizza party and cupcakes.
"Make a wish!"

The celebration continued on Saturday when the extended family gathered to celebrate one more time.  Rob and I set out to test the State Fair recipes again.  I screwed up the onion rings some how, but the rest was still good.  The birthday girl received a deep fried candy bar instead of a piece of cake.  Come August, with four summer birthdays, we are pretty "caked out" in this house.

Riley has adjusted well to her new two year old status.  She eagerly defies us at any opportunity.  But, in the blink of an eye melts our anger with her "look".  Chin tilted down, big brown eyes looking up at you, with a slight tilt of her head like she's shy....works almost every time.  And she knows it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Which is worse?

About once a week my kids become best friends.  They spend the morning playing with each other, everyone gets along, and there is no screaming or crying.  It's really quite blissful, on my end.  There are other benefits as well.

Because this "once a week bond" always involves the same thing, there are other benefits to the activity.  You see, they have a "sleep over" in Austin's room.  Yes, it's 9am, but they are pretending to have a sleep over.  When they have a sleep over, they drag everything for the girls' rooms and put it in his room.  Heaven forbid they be caught at a sleep over without something they need.

I mean everything.  They really clear the place out.

This is perk #2  Once a week Ellie and Riley's rooms get an incredible vaccuuming job. Perk #1 obviously being the break from sheer madness.

However, there is a lot of things in the girls' rooms.  And, it all has to go somewhere.

Hello?  Can I come in?

Hmmm, this door seems to be stuck on something...

This is where it all goes.  And this is where it all stays.  Putting things away is not nearly as fun as dragging them all out.

But, once a week, I choose cleaning up after them (they help) instead of interrupting their sleepovers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Re-creating the Past

Growing up, we had a nice in-ground pool.  Around 5th or 6th grade, we got a trampoline.  Around 8th grade I finally put the two together.  Sometimes with my brother's help, sometimes without, I would drag the large trampoline over to the edge of the pool and then bounce and leap off the trampoline into the pool.  It was hours of entertainment.  Then one day my parents discovered what we were doing and that was the end of that.  Or so they thought.  Really, we would just make sure everything was back in place by the time they came home from work.

It was a good time.  But my kids, they do not have a trampoline.  Rob has made it quite clear that they never will.  We don't have a nice in-ground pool either....but I'm not ruling it out yet.  What we have is a small 5 foot in diameter plastic pool that, completely filled, is less an a foot deep.  And a swing set with a slide.


(That's Riley in there)

It's not quite the same creation, but it sure was fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Build-a-Bear x3

My parents have a few things they like to do with each of their grand kids.  One of which is to take them each to Build-a-Bear to make a stuffed animal and dress it in their favorite outfit.  Well, Build-A-Bear recently hosted a great deal for an animal of your choice, outfit of your choice, and shoes of your choice.  No restrictions.  So, of to Build-A-Bear the Runchey's went (with Grandma and Grandpa). 

My kids were EXTREMELY excited.  This trip was my bargaining chip for 2 days.  Tears were instantly stopped, clothes put away, and food was eaten all with the mention of possibly canceling this trip.  Finally, the day was upon us.  I tried to prep the kids with options prior to going to the store so that 1) they understood what would be happening and 2) we weren't there for 3 hours.  Within 30 seconds of seeing the animals, Ellie settled on the horse.  Austin wanted a bear.  I showed him his 5 options and he knew immediately which one he wanted.  Riley wanted one of everything but was very happy with her scruffy puppy.

Next they each picked out a heart for their new animal and rubbed it on their own heart for love, their muscles for strength:

Their ears for good listening skills:

And probably a couple other places I'm forgetting.  Then they each placed their heart in their animals and pushed the button to stuff them.

After a quick squeeze to make sure it was cuddly enough, the animals were sewn up and off to the air bath:

Then it was time to pick out outfits.  Austin knew exactly what he wanted and there was no swaying his decision.  Ellie was also fairly quick to pick between the princess options.  Riley wanted nothing to do with the outfits, but absolutely had to have the rainbow shoes for her puppy.  I picked out an outfit that sort of went with the shoes and she agreed to it. 

On our way out of the store Riley insisted on holding her puppy box.  She was not letting go of it for anything!

After Build-A-Bear it was off to Perkins for lunch.  Chocolate Chip Bear pancakes (and pizza) were the dishes chosen. 


Once we got home everyone was very anxious to get their animals out of their travel boxes.  I'm proud to present...

Ellie's Sleeping Beauty Horse (who she named Elleigh...after her new friend with the same name):

Austin and his Captain Rex bear:

And Riley and her Scruffy Puppy (with Rainbow shoes!):

And if you think the fun was over, you thought wrong.  The boxes are almost as fun as the animals!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Too far

The other day Austin took his Star Wars obsession to a new level.

He has been working on his chart all summer.  His chart is my way of keeping up any sort of academic skills he picked up in preschool.  Writing his name, working on coloring (which he hates), legos for dexterity, and a little bit of reading for letter sounds and recognition.  It's just enough to keep him going, but not bog him down.  Also, he earns a sticker for each item accomplished and the stickers have earned him various awards (his pick of a park, a popsicle, a Star Wars guy, etc). 

This past weekend while he was working on some letters I ran upstairs to take a shower.  When I came down, I came down to this:

Austin decided to turn the markers on himself and draw a scar on his eye, just like Anakin.

He probably should receive an extra sticker for creativity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Runchey Reunion 2010

A couple weeks ago we headed down to West Bend for the first planned Runchey Reunion. This involved just Rob’s immediate family. Being that his immediate family involves his parents and 4 busy siblings, this is no small feat. But, thankfully everyone was able to rearrange schedules and spend the weekend in West Bend.
The first order of business was updating the family picture. The last professional picture of their family I remember seeing was when Jon was about 6. Jon is now about to start his second year of college. It was time. There were 10 young grandkids, two older grandkids, and 11 adults. It took some time to organize us all and I think, for the most part, the kids did great.  But kids will only sit still for so long and after 10 minutes, and with the photographer still placing people, pretty much the first half of the group was done. Kids got squirmy and cranky. The rumor is that Patti has been able to find one nice picture of us to order. The other rumor is that the photographer has one crazy picture of us that she is entering into the County fair under the title “The American Family” because of the sheer amount of chaos captured. I see a blue ribbon in her future.

Once the picture was over, the fun began. We headed to Godfather’s for their pizza buffet and then back to the house for everyone to get settled and for the youngest ones to take naps. And for the oldest to wish they could join them. Those who didn’t nap warmed up on the Baggo boards or headed to the pool.

That evening Grillmaster Kerry made us a feast of ribs and brisket with side dishes by Shelly. It was delicious!

After dinner we started our Baggo tournament. There were some heated matches but the final match had to be postponed due to bedtimes. It was completed the next day and I’m happy to report that Rob and I were victorious.

The next day involved crafts and more swimming followed by golf for the adults. Patti arranged for a couple babysitters to come and watch all 10 kids while the adults went to the course for a best ball tournament. Patti was trying to remember the last time she golfed and estimated it was about 25 years ago. Kristin had never golfed. A couple others had golfed once or twice. So, I’m not really sure how we decided to have a golf tournament, but we did. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I sure enjoyed my team. Here they are:

Post golf it was back home for Rob’s Carnitas. We followed up dinner with more Baggo and the we decided to break the best ball golf tie-breaker with a Baggo match. Kerry and Shelly came out the lucky winners for this and thus take home the golfing title as well (along with their two other golf partners Jon and Kristin). Baggo went long into the night and was moved closer to the house to utilize the outside lights. While the guys were busy playing, Shelly and I went for a night bike ride. We biked to the hotel to drop in on Kristin and Lynne, and then back through town, past the Grotto and the Bar (not much going on there) and back to the Runchey’s. Later on, we may or may not have tried to race the guys (who were in a car) back to the hotel on our bikes. I may or may not have missed two or three crucial turns leaving us at a dead end thus ruining our chances of beating them. Not that we had a chance but it seemed like a great idea at the time.

Sunday morning came all too quickly. Nothing else was planned but it was nice to just hang around with everyone. With the kids all so close in age, there was never a shortage of buddies to hang out with, no shortage of popsicles either.


However, there are two girls we need to keep our eyes on. They are nothing but sweet right now but Claire and Ellie will surely give us a run for our money in the future.  Bob was able to break some ground with Kaitlyn and I'm sure they will be best friends in no time!

Rob pulled together a pretty great weekend and hopefully we can make it an annual event.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My old (only) Roommate Visits

Three weeks ago we had some semi-long distance visitors. Well, about a 5 hour drive, but for me, that is a long time in the car. My old roommate, Jessica, and her two kids Liam (7) and Elleigh (5) came to visit us. They arrived Friday evening and stayed through the weekend leaving Monday morning. My Ellie was in Girl Heaven the whole time! Not to mention her elation that her new best friend shares her name.


They spent their time playing Strawberry Shortcake and dressing up as princesses. They shared a room at night (and a bed for that matter) and when it was time to go to sleep they were nothing but giggles. In the morning the girls were the first awake and they came downstairs, sat on the couch, and my Ellie declared “We want to watch a princess movie! [turning to her new friend] We don’t like Star Wars, right? We like girl movies!” It was the first time that Ellie has taken a girly stand in this house.

Liam and Austin, in the meantime, focused their attention on Star Wars and general ruckus. Unfortunately, Austin was having one of his mysterious fevers, so he wasn’t quite up to his normal abilities to fly around the house and keep up with Liam.

They did all bond over the same thing at one point. The Splash Pad. We took them to the Splash Pad in Burnsville in an effort to wear them out. It was only mildly successful but thoroughly enjoyable.

Jessica and I even found some time to sneak away without the kids for a couple hours of hardcore shopping.

But, before we knew it, Monday morning was here and we were saying our good-byes.
Riley became completely attached to Liam, who she called "my buddy" and spent the next couple days waking up and immediately asking where he was.

One of these years the Runchey’s will have to make the trek down to Iowa City to visit them. Until then, I maintain 5 hours is too long in a car.

Thanks for the visit, Jessica!