Saturday, February 26, 2011

$3 for 15 minutes

Still struggling with keeping the kids busy and away from other kids, we hit up Michaels today.  We went there with the intention of buying a craft for everyone to work on together.  The consensus was we would buy jumbo fuse beads.  Then I realized my 40% off coupon was expired and the beads were $10 so I steered them towards the $1 aisle. 

After much deliberation we walked out of there with 3 wooden toys to be painted and a promise to come back next week with a coupon to get the jumbo fuse beads.

Once at home I prepped the table and the kids.  I got everyone their own paints and paintbrush and suggested the use one color at a time.  I'm all for creativity and doing your own thing, but it drives me a bit nuts when the smear their colors together into one big brown mess.  Also, I was hoping it would take them longer to paint their little masterpieces if they concentrated on one color at a time.

At first I was impressed.  They were actually heading my advice:

Then they each finished their projects.....but they still had paint left.  What's a kid to do?  They just could not resist not using ALL their paint so they kept layering it on.  When I noticed this was happening I busted out the paper for them to use up the rest of their paints.  But, that wasn't as fun.

All that work and clean up really only bought me about 15 minutes of entertained kids.  I think we're going back to fort building.

Friday, February 25, 2011


My kids have been sick for what feels like weeks.  Really, it's probably only been a week, but the day one starts to feel better, the next one comes down with "the cough" (Just like Little House on the Prairie...."She's got the cough Pa!"). 

I don't think it would be particularly nice of me to bring the kids to Playworks to spread their germs so I've been trying to come up with indoor activities for us.  Namely.....forts.  Wednesday I got tired of constructing forts so at 8:30am we decided to hit up the zoo.  I was hoping the Tropics Trail would fool us all into thinking it was a beautiful sunny day.

When we got there each kid picked up map to find their way around.  Then within 30 seconds the maps were all piled into the stroller and forgotten about.  When we got home Riley immediately wanted her zoo map and even took it with her to bed.

On Thursday morning I was looking at the pile of maps and decided to summon my inner teacher and make a lesson of it.  I told all my pajama clad kids to come into the kitchen because we were making maps!

First we studied the zoo map to find out what types of things we can find on a map.  They took turns pointing out lakes, roads, words, pictures (symbols), and a train track.  Then I showed them the "key" and explained how it worked.  Then we used the key to locate all the bathrooms by looking for the restroom picture.

Then I gave each kid a piece of paper and some crayons and told them to draw their own maps.

My goodness it was quiet in our house for the next 15 minutes.  They all got right to work and drew out their maps.  They also wondered why I wasn't making one so I joined in on the fun.

Here's our results.


Her map was a map of Shakopee.  That black thing in the middle is a book and is representing the library.


Her map was a map of the zoo.  She was particularly focused on getting some lakes in there.


His map was a map to Grandma Runchey's house.  He said there were train tracks the car was following.  That curly headed person is Grandma Runchey, and the orange vertical line is the "tower" in West Bend (grain elevator).  And he used a label to tell me what the map was for.


My map was a map from our house to Target.

After Austin saw my key he went back to work.  He added a key to his first map.  Then they each wanted to make second and third maps.

In the end, we put my map to a test and drove to Target.  Austin was quick to show me everything along the way that I forgot to put on my map.  Including every speed limit sign he saw.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter Fun Day

Yesterday I had a full day of outside fun!  I've been spending a lot of time outside with the warmer weather we've been having.  A couple weeks ago there was a Groupon deal for a $27 lift ticket to Trollhaugen ski area in Dresser, WI.  I called my friend, Carrie, who does all my adventures with me and she agreed we should check it out.  She'll be moving to San Diego in a few days so this would be a fun last day together before she left (which, by the way, is a complete bummer).  She bought her Groupon but when I went to buy mine, the deal was done.  Oh well, no big deal and it would still be fun if I paid full price.

When we arrived I quickly realized I forgot my ski pants....again.  I forgot my ski pants last time Carrie and I went skiing.  The cheapest pair they sold was $70 so I passed and decided to try my luck.  When we walked in to buy our lift tickets a guy pulled me aside and said he had a buy one get one free coupon and was looking for someone to split it with.  Lucky me!  I got my lift ticket for $20.50!  Even better than the Groupon deal!

We decided Trollhaugen was okay, but maybe not worth the drive out there.  I also finally decided that any "black diamond" in the Midwest really just means a blue square run with just a tiny bit more of a slope for the first 20 feet.  Which isn't a big deal....I'm not really a "need for speed" kind of skier....but it's nice to challenge yourself now and again.

The real fun happened after we called it quits with the skiing.  Right next door is Trollhaugen's Snow tubing!

For just $5 we got an hour of tubing.  You ride the magic carpet up to the top of the hill and tube down.  This was far more fun than I anticipated!  A person can really get going on this hill.  Carrie and I both caught some air off their small "jumps" on more than one occasion.  And you can link your tubes together to make huge chains of people too.  This would be a really fun place to have a winter birthday party.  Look for your invitations next December around the 29th!

As I look out at the first snow starting to fall (of the up to 20" forecasted) it looks like  my winter adventures aren't over yet!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's done!

Call me crazy, but while Rob was in Argentina I decided to tile the kitchen back splash.  My original plan was to just surprise Rob with the completed project when he returned, but being that it's such a permanent upgrade, I did ask what he thought of the idea before he left.  He gave me the thumbs up and said he completely trusted whatever I chose.

My first step was to recruit some help.  My neighbor, Chrissy, recently tiled her own back splash and I know my sister is always up for a new hands-on home improvement project.  So, with the ladies backing me up I began the process.  The kids and I made no less than 5 trips to Home Depot and Lowes before finally settling on the perfect tile and purchasing all the necessary supplies.  I knew I'd need to cut some of the tiles and one of Rob's friends lent us his tile saw and gave me a quick tutorial so by Friday night I was ready to go. 

Kerry came over on Friday night after the kids were asleep to help me do some prep work before our big day started on Saturday.  We prepped the counters with tape and newspaper, laid out the tiles, and made a couple easy cuts.

We started around 11:30am on Saturday.  The first few sets of tiles went up very smoothly and we thought we'd be done in just a few hours.

Then came the window.  That awful window.

Every single one of the top row of tiles needed to be cut, lengthwise by about 1/4 of an inch.  The tiles are only 1x2 so 3/4 inch didn't leave a lot of finger room when using the saw.  Also, the slate tiles split along the plane over and over again.  The tile saw is a "wet saw" and we had it set up in the garage.  My sister and I did all the tile cutting but we could each only be out there for about 10 minutes cutting tiles before we had to switch because the person cutting could no longer feel their fingers with the freezing water spraying on them constantly.  Maybe future tiling projects should be done in the summer.

Chrissy started on the other wall while we worked on the window pieces and she got over halfway through before we finished that 2 foot strip under the window.

Once all was said and done, it was about 6 hours of work.  My mom had the girls the whole day and Austin played with Mia (Chrissy's daughter) at our house non-stop the whole time.  We barely knew they were there.

After the tiling was done I had a lot of "hurry up and wait" things to do.  I had to wait 24 hours for the tiles to set before I sealed the tiles on the wall.  (From what I read, slate can be easily stained by grout so I sealed before grouting).  The sealant then needed to set for 4-6 hours.  Grouting was next.  Chrissy came back over to help with the grouting.  It was about 2 more hours of labor.  One of us would spread while the other wiped it off.  The grout was allowed to dry for 24 hours and then I put a final sealant coat on.  The next night I worked on replacing all the outlets and covers.  It was then I noticed two areas that weren't going to match up perfectly.  It was also about that time that I was mentally done with my kitchen be a wreck.  The next morning I called in the professional.  My dad.  I knew he was an expert with a caulk gun and so while I took the girls to Ellie's final dance class I left my dad at the house with a plea to finish the caulk and make my outlet troubles vanish.  It wouldn't be a home improvement project without a little help from my dad!  I didn't want him to feel left out!

6 days after the start, and only $270 in, the project was finished!  Here's the before and after photos:






I learned a lot and I'm anxious to try it again on a floor.  A special thanks to everyone that helped me!

And yes, Rob likes it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Poor Rob

Today Rob is returning from another 14 days in Argentina.  He left for Argentina 10 days after he returned from his trip to Florida.  I really am having difficulty finding any sympathy for him this winter.

On day 7 of his absence he sent me an email with this picture:

And a note that said "I wish you were here."

I was only halfway through my single parenting stint and although it's nice he was enjoying himself, it's not what I needed to see at that point in my day/week. 

I sent him an email with the exact same sentiment, and this picture:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tapless Tap Dance

Ellie had her final tap class today.  I know you've all be eagerly waiting for the video of her latest 'recital'.  Your wait is over!  Enjoy!

My mom and I struggled a little bit trying to see her since she was in the back (for the first half) so I apologize for the shaky video skills.  But, Ellie solved that problem for us by finding a new spot in the front row halfway through.  Thanks Ellie!  When you can't see Ellie, just watch the other little girl in the front row, with the curls and black/pink outfit...that's pretty much what Ellie was doing.  I think the routine got a little long for the younger 3 year olds attention span.

After the dance she showed off her cartwheel skills.  That's a whole other video.  Poor girl just does not trust herself enough to give the cartwheel a real shot.  I can't blame her as I'm fairly certain I'd be scared to try one right now.  Cartwheels are awkward...I was always more of  "Round-off" kinda gal.

I still haven't decided if the next session is in her future or not.  It's another session of "Jazz" which she has already done so I'm contemplating having her sit this one out and rejoin the group when it switches to ballet.  Both girls are kind of bears in the evening when they miss their naps for these lessons, but at the same time Ellie really loves them so it's hard to say no.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lost in Translation

As I mentioned earlier, when the girls wake up (always before Austin...bless him) they come into my room and lay in bed with me and usually request to watch a cartoon.  We have the ability to stream Netflix in our bedroom, so they usually request some sort of Nick Jr. cartoon.  Today Riley was up first so Riley picked Dora. 

On a side note, Dora drives me nuts.  She doesn't say anything, she screams everything!  It's annoying.  Even more so when it's the first thing you hear in the morning.

Todays show was about....well, I don't know what it was about becuase I was pretending to still be asleep but I do know that Dora's spanish word of the day was "abajo" (ah-bah-hoe).  It means down.  And in order to get a balloon out of the sky Dora requested that her little viewers yell "Abajo!".  Well, Ellie and Riley did not want to disappoint so they started yelling it as loud as they could.  The louder the better in Dora's eyes.  So, Ellie is yelling "Abajo...Abajo!!!" and Riley was right along with her.  Only Riley wasn't quite as articulate as Ellie and what Riley was yelling came out "A butt hole!  A butt hole!"

It definitely started my morning with a smile.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

She knows it

Ellie is on a very big "Aren't I sweet" kick.

She is usually the first one up.  She sneaks into our room, gets right next to my face and loudly whispers "Mom!  I love you!.....Can I lay next to you?"  and when I let her crawl in next to me she says  "I dreamed of snuggling with you." and when I barely acknowledge her statement because I'm still hanging on to the last few minutes of sleep she says "Mom....isn't that so sweet of me to say?"

The majority of the day is filled with more of the same.  It's as if someone has been telling this girl all her life how cute she is.....oh wait.

I can't take a picture of Ellie without her first striking this pose that she is positive illustrates her inner most sweetness.  Then she runs across the room and yanks a toy from her little sisters hands.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Excuse the Crime Scene

What a day.

The last child woke up today leaving me with 20 minutes to feed him breakfast and get him dressed before we needed to leave the house to get to church.  Yes, I could have woke him up earlier, but part of me was hoping he'd sleep even later and then I could just skip church because my child obviously needed rest.  No dice.

Post-church we headed to Super Target to pick up some breads for the "Soup"erbowl party my sister was hosting.  We got home around 11:30 and I noticed that our home phone wasn't working.  This happens from time to time and it is typically related to our internet cable.  Sure enough, the internet was also not working.  I went in the basement to jiggle the usual wires to no avail. 

Next step is to call Comcast. Only, I don't know their number. I can't look it up because we don't keep phone books around here because we have the internet for that (usually).  I can't find my cellphone because I really don't use it that often and I can't call my cell number to make it ring to help me find it because my home phone doesn't work......see where this is going?  I did finally find my cell along with a comcast bill to get me talking to a service tech.

During all this, the kids have eaten lunch and were playing nicely upstairs.

I was down in the basement re-jiggling the wires because the service tech didn't believe my earlier attempts.  That is when I heard it.

Thump thump thump smash!  ......WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

I looked up the first flight of stairs to find Riley coming around the corner with blood pouring out of her mouth.  She had ridden her toy firetruck down our stairs (backwards I think).

I stammered something to the tech on the phone about needing to go and blood and threw the phone down.  I grabbed Riley in a football hold, cupped my hand around her mouth, bolted up the stairs and set her in the sink.  I sat there trying to examine her mouth to figure out where she was bleeding from but it was everywhere and just kept coming.  I finally soaked up enough to find that she had almost bitten through her bottom lip.

I got the bleeding to stop, gave her some tylenol and a popsicle (my effort at icing the area) and called my parents.  Her teeth didn't go through the lip, but it was close and I wasn't sure what protocol was for a mouth wound that seemed under control but still looked really bad.  I was still without the internet so I had my parents give me numbers to the urgent care.  An hour later and I had Riley down for a nap, a confirmation from the Dr. on call that unless she bit all the way through her lip I didn't need to take her in for stitches, and had cleaned up most of the blood.  Can I mention one last time how much blood there was?

With that out of the way I called Comcast back to figure out my internet situation.  They were sending someone out to help me.  Finally, at 2:30 I sat down to eat lunch.  Once that was done I set to work sealing the tiles of the backsplash I installed yesterday (I promise to reveal it once it's complete later this week).  When I was done with that I played Star Wars with Austin.  Then our comcast guy showed up.  He needed to go down the basement to jiggle those pesky wires one last time and on his way down the stairs he stopped short and gave me a weird look.

If he only knew the day I was having.  I was proud of myself for what I was able to clean up, but these spots were a little stubborn.  I just said "Oh, yeah, that.  Please excuse my crime scene".