Thursday, June 30, 2011

As Promised....

We found a beach.

After spending time on the beach at the Dehner reunion we promised our kids that we could find a lake by us with a beach to play at.  On Tuesday, we delivered.

This week seems to have been, so far, a rush of one water activity to the next.  Swimming at the Y, splash pad at the Y, sprinklers in the backyard, water tables, swimming at the Murphy's, a pontoon excursion, and now we can add the beach to the list (and this is all by Wednesday...only three days into the week). 

I still maintain that lakes are icky.  But, the kids loved it.  I even caught a fish in Ellie's sand bucket.  It looked like a tadpole or baby catfish.  Rob observed and confirmed it was a little tiny bullhead.  Nice.

Austin spent his time running into the water.

And then back out.

The girls only went into the water to fill their buckets to make their "sand castles" which really just involved them dumping buckets of water on the sand.

I guess as far as lakes go, this one was nice.  It wasn't crowded (granted, we went at 6:15pm), it didn't have weeds everywhere, it was very calm water, and they had roped off the "shallow" end.  And the "deep" end at it's almost deepest part didn't cover Austin's head.  We went there so that Rob could practice swimming in a real lake for his upcoming triathalon.  I'm not sure if this was great practice for that since the water was so smooth, but I guess at least he got a taste for it.  Probably literally.

Up next, we are going to compromise.  Shakopee has a sand bottom community pool.  The best of both worlds....right?  Clean water with a beachy feel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shrinky Dinks!

Remember these??  I do.  I don't remember ever actually getting them, but I was Captain Craft so I'm sure at some point I did.  Either way, a couple months ago I found RoseArts version at Target on clearance for $1.25.  I bought it and stashed the box away for a rainy day.  Only, I stashed the box away so well that I didn't remember it until just this week.  Now I wish I would have bought more!

In typical fashion here, we did this craft in our pajamas at 9am.  It's been a pretty awful week weather-wise and this was just what we needed.  The kids did these for an hour straight and requested 3 times yesterday to do them again.  (I denied them so we have something for the next rainy day).

First they picked their designs off the sheet and traced them (Austin) or had me trace them (Ellie and Riley).

Then you cut out the design (Austin) or have me cut them out (Ellie and Riley)

Then it was time to color....Ellie LOVES to color!

And then you perch on a stool and peek at them while they are in the oven shrinking.  And if you are the mom, at this point you stand back and tell them every 20 seconds  not to touch the oven.

Here's our final products.  All of them are about the size of a quarter.  I had to get in on the fun too!  Austin even drew a couple of his own designs (the car and heart....as a side note..he gave me the heart "because I have all his love"...I may never let him marry).

Anyway, so if you have kids and are looking for a fun project, my kids loved this one!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Watch Your Step!

Riley is on a huge "I hate sleep" kick. She NEVER wants to go to sleep no matter how tired she is. If we put her to sleep on her bed, she moves all her stuff to the floor and sleeps there. If we put her to sleep on the floor, it's not surprising to find her on her bed.

What is surprising, is to shut off all the lights downstairs and feel your way to the staircase, and then trip on a large lump on the stairs. Actually, not being able to see a thing, I accidentally kicked this lump pretty hard....and it just grunted and went back to sleep.

Earlier that night we had sent both Austin and Riley back to their beds after hearing them whispering on the stairs while we were in the family room. I guess Riley must have snuck down for another round but since she didn't have a partner in crime, she was very quiet and she just tuckered out.

Rob carried her up to bed and she probably muttered "I'm not tired" on the way.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bribe Worked

This is an update that has been requested by my 5 (almost 6) year old.  He wanted me to record him riding his bike, without training wheels, so I could put it on the blog for everyone to see.

Seems like forever ago that we started this quest.  Shortly into the training I stooped down to a bribe.  Austin runs off bribes.  It's not a habit I'd like to continue...I'd like him to be the type of kid who just works hard and does well for his own gratification, but when times are tough....and teaching him to ride without training wheels definitely falls into this category.....the tough bribe.  The bribe was this:  If he can start by himself and ride from our end of the street all the way to the far end (about 15 houses away) and back without having to stop, then I will take him to the new Lego store at the Mall of America and he can get a new Lego set (within my price range).

He's been getting better and better and although he's probably had the skills to complete this challenge for a couple weeks now, he just yesterday was up for the official challenge.  We took a Father's Day bike ride to the park and he had absolutely no troubles.  And today he requested we ride to a park even further away.  Mid-way there, out of no where, he said "I'm awesome!".  Gotta love that modesty.

So, without further ado, here he is:



And after he got back to our drive way I turned off the recording and he said "I'm not done with my commercial!" so I started it up again and got this cheesiness:



Yes, that is a wink at the end. We are heading out for our Lego date next Wednesday night.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dehner Reunion 2011

This past week we finally made it, as a family, to the Dehner Reunion.  The Dehner's are Rob's mom side of the family.  The reunion is held in Yankton, SD which is over 5 hours away for us and not a drive we have previously been eager to take with our 3 young kids.  They have it every 2 years, so last year with kids 3,2, and not quite 1 I opted to hang back while Rob went solo.  This year we all made it.  Admittedly, it was still a drive I was not eager to make, but definitely more manageable.  In true kid fashion we were asked 453 times if we were "almost there yet".  And the word "Mom" was said approximately 1,287 times.  Give or take.

Our first night there was "Nautical Night".  I really struggled with this theme as far as costumes go.  In the end, Austin had a fish on his shirt.  That's as nautical as we got.  We dined on fish, shrimp, and other yummy goods.  We followed it up with the Dehner Olympics.  Partners were chosen out of a hat.  My kids couldn't have been happier with their random partners.  Especially Ellie.  I think Mark and her were the cutest contestants.  He was dressed like a pirate for a Nautical Night which threw her off a bit at first but after a few minutes she had him wrapped around her finger!

She was so smitten with him that the morning after we got back from the reunion I woke to her crying in her room and I went in to see what was bothering her and she sobbed "I just really miss my Mark!"

After the games the kids each got to make a shell bracelet.  Notice all the adults struggling to string these shells.  No easy feat!  But, the kids loved their finished products.

The next morning most of the guys went out fishing.  The grandkids and some of us parents went down to the lake and spent some time throwing rocks into the lake before hitting the beach.  I honestly didn't think my kids would like the lake.

They started off small.  Just putting their feet in.  It was still fairly chilly.

Then they got a little more brave.

And finally they were all up to their waist in the lake and we finally decided to just put swimsuits on and come back.  The highlight of this trip back was when Uncle Kerry pulled an almost dead fish out of the lake and showed it to the kids.

Having grown up with a nice clean pool in the backyard, I really had a hard time letting go and just letting the kids roll around in the sand and muck.  But, they had a blast so I guess we'll have to put "beach visits" on our list of things to do this summer.

From the lake we hit up the pool.  Mostly to rinse off.

Then the group that didn't go fishing decided to take a break from the little ones and head to the bar across the street from the resort.

A pretty small little joint, but they had a jukebox and that was entertainment enough for us.

Probably not the most flattering picture of Kristin....I think she's singing.  I think she enjoyed the jukebox more than anyone.  Bob and Patti walked back to the resort and sent Rob and Kerry to come get us ladies.  Then when that didn't work they sent Jaci and Tara to get us.  And finally Justin was sent over.  Honestly, I think Justin barely got in the bar before he ordered his own beer; clearly he wasn't putting forth his best effort in retrieving us!

We all made it back for Western Night.  I'm going to admit that from this point until about 10pm, the night is a bit of a blur.  I never did get a picture of all my kids in their western gear but I had a cowboy hat for everyone, jean skirts for the girls, boots borrowed for Ellie, and a cap gun for Austin.  He was quite upset he didn't have boots but the cap gun made up for it!

Before we knew it, it was Tuesday morning and time to drive back home for T-ball (Austin) and class (Rob).  It was a fun-filled weekend and we're glad we got the chance to see everyone.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ellie is 4!

On June 7th I came home from the gym at 7:15am to find Ellie dancing a little jig in the doorway of the garage.  I rolled down my window to listen as she sang "Birthday! Birthday! Birthday!"  I asked her if she knew of anyone that was four years old and she shot her hand up in the air and said "ME ME ME!!!".  Since everyone was awake we decided to have her open up presents first thing.  Her big present was a new bike!

But, it turns out it was way too big so it was returned.  She wasn't too heart broken because what she really wanted was a ride-on Power Wheels Jeep and she was certain someone would bring one of those to her "family birthday" party.  Only those are about $320 new and $190 used....but she was sure someone would get it....gulp!

The rest of her presents were new crayons, a pretend hair/makeup set (I may or may not have picked this in hopes of her playing for hours on end with my hair!), "Don't Break the Ice", and a crayola wonder princess set. 

I asked her what she wanted to do for the day.  If you remember, Tuesday was crazy hot and reached a high of 102 around here.  I strongly encouraged water activities early in the day.  I said we could go to the splash pad at the Y, run through sprinklers in our yard, maybe go on the pontoon and ride in the new tube, etc.  No short of 10 times did I suggest something involving water.  But, everyone insisted that we go to Chutes and Ladders in Bloomington.  It was 87 degrees already when we arrived at 9:30am.  I really dislike this park.  As a kid I'm certain it's a blast, as a parent, it's just a matter of time before I am called for help.  First I have to find the kid in trouble, and then I have to find a way to get to them. 

Both girls lost their shoes through the fish net/rope stuff that makes up this playground.  Do you see how Ellie is bent over at the waist to fit through there?  What does that make that space....less than 2 feet?  That is what I was crawling through to get to them.

And this picture below...I have titled it "Mother Knows Best"

Don't they all just look miserable?  They were begging me to do something with water at this point!  But, at this point it was already 95 degrees and lunchtime.  Too late!

From the park we went to Target for Icee's and later on to McDonald's for lunch and then home to play inside since it was now over 100 degrees out.

For dinner Ellie chose Chuck E Cheese.  The kids had been playing with our neighbor, Mia, for a couple hours so we decided to invite her with.

The kids each got a bowl full of tokens and immediately were off to play games and ride rides!


Rob really got a kick out of this picture below because it looks like I am Chuck E. 

And I really like the picture below.

Pictures like that crack me up.  I get the same satisfaction when I need to pause the DVR and catch someone on screen making a weird face mid-sentence....what can I say, I'm easily entertained!

It was a spectacular, and busy birthday.  I'm quite certain I was more tired than the kids after that day.

Two days later I was scouting out some garage sales with all the kids in tow.  Lo and behold I drove by one with a Power Wheels jeep out front!  I jumped out of the car, saw it was only $60 and immediately put $15 down and said I'd be back later to pick it up.  I got back into the car where Ellie was going balistic because they have a Jeep there but I told her someone already bought it. She immediately burst into tears.  But, an hour later I had it in our garage and had cleaned it up and it was looking almost brand new.

She was beyond excited!  It's definitely the new favorite toy for both Ellie and Riley.

And it only sort of concerns me that Riley is a much better driver than Ellie.  Actually, Riley's favorite thing to do is race it down the driveway and then at the very end (and this thing gets going pretty fast!) she spins it out in a 180.  In 14 years no one will be safe on the roads.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Catch up!

I'm super behind on blogging.  I have good reasons, but it bothers me nonetheless.  I recently increased my hours at Cargill.  I'm still working from home, but 10x as much.  Now, it's only ~10 hours/week, so still not a lot by anyone else's standards, but it's a lot more than the ~4 hours/month I was doing.  In addition to the Cargill hours, I picked up a job at our local YMCA as a swim instructor, and then, of course, have that full time job of Youth Director at our house.  So, things have gotten a little bit hectic around here until I find my groove.  In the meantime, the blog (and housekeeping) takes a back seat to everything else. 

So, here is my bulleted list of things we have done:

May 28th:  Rob, Mike, and my dad installed what will someday be a new closet off the mudroom.  Our mudroom is small and Rob is in the process of gutting it and making all new built-in cubby/lockers for us.  To add to it, Rob suggested we utilize some of the space in our garage to make a candilever closet (is that the right word?) where I can house the vacuum, broom, etc.  Sounded good to me!  So, while they were doing that, I took the girls and headed to my mom's house where my girls proceeded to, literally, sit on Grandma's counter and make cookies with her.  They had a blast!

June 1st:  This guy turned 34!

The kids were really excited for him to come home so we could give him his remaining presents and order pizza, which was Rob's dinner request.  I also made some strawberry shortcake.  Rob got a Nook Color before Vegas as his birthday gift.  I think he is really enjoying it.  And when he's not using it, I try to sneak a game of suduko on it!

June 2nd:  That was the last day of school for Austin!  He is very excited to have the whole summer off.  More excited than a kid, who only goes to school for less than 3 hours a day, should be.  Makes me a bit nervous about him having to be there for the full day!  To celebrate they each had two popsicles when he got home.

June 3rd:  For the first official day of summer break, we headed to the zoo.  Grandpa Smith came with us and we finally got to tour the outside animals again after a long winter of only doing the inside animals!  I had this brilliant idea that it wouldn't be crowded because Shakopee got out earlier than other schools in MN, and nobody plans field trips this late in the year.....except that was not the case at all, and everyone apparently plans field trips for the end of the year.  It was a bit crowded, but being that Austin didn't need to catch an afternoon bus, we were in  no hurry.  The kids wore their swimsuits to have fun in the splash pad after lunch, but the zoo splash pad was not on yet.  No worries!  We stopped at the Burnsville splash pad on the way home and they had a great time there.  It was raining a little bit...but I guess when you're there to play in the water - who cares!  Within 15 minutes of getting home from the zoo and the splash pad I was informed my kids were bored and "what are we going to do".  It could be a very long summer....for me.

June 4th:  First outdoor movie.  We set it up on our deck this time.  I'm not sure why we switched it up, but it was nice.  The kids all had their sleeping bags layed out, the adults took some chairs, and we (and our neighbors) settled in to watch Tangled.  Popcorn, candy, and juice.  It was the perfect night for it.  Austin fell asleep halfway through.  Riley missed the last 15 minutes after she requested to go to bed, but Ellie made it the whole way and was giggling in bed at 10:40pm.  Once the kids were all in bed, Rob and I headed back out for an encore performance.  We watched an episode of True Blood.  After our movie was over I could have fallen asleep out there.  The weather was awesome!

June 5th:  More great weather.  Rob had some errands to run so the kids and I went out on the pontoon with my parents.

We had a little lunch and each of them got to drive.

That might have been the best boating weather I've experienced yet on their pontoon!  The highlight for Austin was probably seeing all the dead fish.  Nice.  But, we also saw a loon, which was a first for us on Spring Lake.  I can't wait to set sail again!

There ends the recap of our life lately.  Of course, by the time this post is published, we'll have had one more big event.....someone is turning 4 this week!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Class of 2023

On May 31st, Austin had his kindergarten graduation ceremony.  I'm guessing there was about 85-90 kids in the kindergarten class at his elementary school (4 seperate afternoon classes). 

They all filed in to Pomp and Circumstance but we know who the cutest was:

And yes, I'm bias.  The kids sang a few numbers, recited some end of the year poems, each of the teachers got up to talk, and then they announced each kid, one by one.  For each child they said:

This is Austin Runchey.
Austin is 5 years old
In school, Austin likes to play with everything.
When Austin grows up, he wants to be a zoo keeper.

Except obviously, not each kid was Austin Runchey, and the items in italics were different for each kid.  Except for doctors....lots of doctors on the horizon. 

It was a nice personal touch, but in my opinion, it got a bit long.  After only about 30 kids Ellie asked (quite loudly) "When is this going to be over?".  She gave a couple people a giggle.  By the last class of kids those kindergartners up front weren't the only ones getting fidgety!

When they announced Austin he stood up and looked like this:

I was in the front row and immediately signaled for him to put his hands down at his sides.  Then I got this:

A kind of sad face.  So, I felt really bad and next time I'll just let my kid stand up there and grab whatever he wants!

Here's a picture of Austin's class:

They were a pretty great group of kids.  I had the opportunity to volunteer in his classroom and worked one on one with all of these kids so I felt like I knew them pretty well.  And his teacher was equally great.  It was Mrs. O'Neill's last year of teaching.  After 32 years she is ready to just be a Grandma.  Austin was lucky to have such a veteran teacher.

A couple more shots from the day:

And his whole cheering section:

So, from here it's off to 1st grade and a FULL day of school!  He's most excited to eat lunch at school.  If he takes after his mom at all, that is a novelty sure to wear off during the first week.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Terry Fator

Typically, when we go to Vegas, we end up seeing a Cirque show.  This is usually because they come free with the package we've bought off of Orbitz.   Once there was the treat of the Blue Man Group from our friend, and the same friend hooked us up with tickets to a comedian, but aside from that, we don't go to a lot of shows while we are there.  This year we used Rob's student ID to get a discount on tickets for Terry Fator.  I thought this was money well spent.

They said it was fine if we took video and pictures (just couldn't record the whole show) so I took a couple short videos but they really don't do the show justice because the quality is pretty crappy.  Oh well, you'll get the idea:


I was amazed at his impressions (and without moving his lips!).  His impressions through his dummies were actually better than him singing on his own.

Towards the end of the show (spoiler alert) he picked an audience member to come up on stage.  This particular night he happened to pick a big guy in the 2nd row.  Only, he had no idea how big this guy was until he got up on stage.

By no means was Terry a short guy himself so this guy was nearing 7 feet tall and bulky too.  And Terry dressed him up like a woman.  Dolly Parton to be exact.

The creepy mask that he has on is actually controlled like one of the dummies so Terry would ask this guy questions and then respond for him.  Then he dressed himself up as Rod Stewart and sang "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a duet (him doing both parts).  It was one of the funniest parts of the show.  And Rob and I couldn't get past how creepy the mask was on this huge guy.

So, if you're in Vegas while he's there, we suggest you check him out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vegas: Days 2-4

After our day of hiking, the rest of the days were kind of a blur.  We only slept in until 8am or so.  I know that is not sleeping in by anyone else's standards, but that was pretty great for us.  Then we took advantage of the 60 yard pool and did some lap swimming in the morning.  That was quite a bit different than the 25 yards we're used to at the gym!  After our workouts we typically went to the restaurant at the Paris hotel called "Mon Ami Gabi" where we dined on strawberry waffles and chocolate and bacon waffles (kind of counter productive after a workout I suppose).  From there we headed to the pool where we stayed until 3pm.  It was perfect!

On our last day Mary ditched work and came to the Bellagio to hang out at the pool with us for the day.

It was nice for me to have someone to chit chat with because I was usually too ancy to just sit still by the pool.  Rob had no problem just laying there and reading.....see:

Doesn't he look annoyed that I'm bugging him to snap a photo!  He wasn't really, and did partake in some of our pool shenanigans.

Mary recently purchased a waterproof camera for her work so we decided to take some fun underwater photos.

Self portraits aren't as easy to do when you're under water.  Sometimes they're just plain crazy looking:

Our last night in Vegas we finally hit up a show. 

We opted to see Terry Fator.  He's the ventriloquist that won "America's Got Talent" a few years ago.  I took a few videos I'll save for the next post, but he was pretty amazing.

Most nights we did a little bit of gambling.  I have a new favorite slot machine there.  It's a Wizard of Oz game and it's pretty interactive.  The first night I played I won $20 (not bad when you're betting pennies) but I'm sure I lost that the 2nd time I played.  We also played craps, but only once this year.  We're too frugal to play the $10 tables and the $5 tables were pretty packed.
It was an extremely relaxing vacation.  Just what we were looking for.  Once again, we owe a big thanks to our parents.  Rob's parents drove up for the first half of the trip and my parents took over on the second half.  It's easy to go on, and enjoy, a vacation when you know your kids are in great hands!