Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sever’s Corn Maze

When Ellie was just a baby, and Austin was 2, Rob and I attempted to take the kids to Sever’s Corn Maze for some fall fun.  When we got to the gates (via a very muddy trek) we realized for our family to get in would be near $40, we turned around and went home.

This year I found a Groupon to get our whole family in for $25 so we decided to try again.  We went last Sunday.  It was a perfect day for some outdoor fall fun!  I had done my research so I sort of knew what to expect but Rob was pleasantly surprised at all Sever’s had to offer.

We started off with the “Jumpy Pillows”.  Kind of like the bounce castles…only huge pillows.  It was a long wait to get their turn (from a kids perspective) but I think they thought it was worth it.



Austin was all over the place but the girls mostly stayed in the middle and just concentrated on staying standing. 


Well, Riley might have concentrated a bit harder on tackling Ellie.

After the Bounce Pillows we headed to the corn pit.  Appropriately named as it was a HUGE pit filled with seed corn.


At first just the kids and I went in, but Rob eventually joined us once he saw how much fun we were having.


We buried everyone a couple times.  Riley did some “corn angels”.  I think the kids would have stayed in there for a much longer time but eventually the dust was getting to me and we left for the next adventure.

Up next was the hay bale maze.  Only, none of the kids had any interest in treating it as a maze.  Mostly, like everyone else there, they just wanted to jump from one bale to the next.  Austin made it look really easy but the girls were quite challenged to make these leaps.  They were so proud of themselves after every leap.



After jumping around for a bit, we headed to the exotic animals area to check out kangaroos, porcupines, emus, zebras, and lemurs…among other things.  Next to the exotic animals you could shoot cobs of corn at some targets.  Rob helped each of the kids give it a shot:


Finally it was off to the main attraction, the corn maze.  Although it’s what draws people to Sever’s, it was the kids least favorite part of our trip.  I suppose walking through a bunch of corn really doesn’t sound very fun.  Rob and I had fun trying to follow our path on their maps.

After the corn maze it was back for more hay bale jumping and some snacks.  Austin declared the corn on the cob “the best he’s ever had in his whole life”.  I declare his standards are pretty low and he must have slept through our other meals this summer that included corn on the cob.

All in all we had a really great time.  I wouldn’t pay full price, but if you can find a deal, it’s worth it.  Except that I’m still finding corn kernels in my washing machine.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monthly Date Nights!

Rob and I decided that we’d start a new tradition of sorts with our kids.  We thought each of the kids would really love some one on one time with us.  We set up a schedule where, once a month, one of us parents takes one of the kids on a date.  The lucky kid gets to pick what it is we do.

Last Wednesday Ellie and I had our first date!  Her agenda was as follows:

Lions Tap, rides at MOA, Lego treats.

She made a last minute change to eat at McDonalds at the mall, instead of Lions Tap.  That worked out for the best since the two aren’t exactly close.  Ellie was so excited for our date that I couldn’t stop smiling myself.  Ellie tends to be the kid who hates walking places.  She is the slowest walker in the family, hands down.  Now I know all this time she just wasn’t looking forward to the destination enough because when we got to the mall she took off dragging me behind her!

Despite it being 6:30, and me being starving, Ellie informed me “This is my date mom!  I get to pick!  Let’s do the rides first!” so that is what we did.  She has no fear of any of the rides.


This was her first.  It’s the toddler version of Tower of Terror.  It brings them up and then drops them randomly (and gently).  She was all smiles!  We rode rides until 7:45 when I finally convinced her we should eat.  At about 7:55 she told me her eye hurt.  This is what happens to Ellie when she is beyond tired.  I had a hard time convincing her we should go home and thought I’d sweeten the deal with a stop at the Disney store.  She finally relented and we got there via the Lego Store.


I let her pick out one toy at the Disney Store before we left.  I steered her to the stuffed animals that were buy one get one free!  We picked up her Lego Treats, and she fell asleep about 3 minutes into our car ride home.

I really enjoyed our little date and I’m looking forward to this new tradition.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Riley’s time

I might very well create a monster as Riley and I enjoy our one on one time together. 

This past Wednesday while Ellie was in preschool, and I was teaching swimming lessons, Riley went to Kids Stuff where she sat on the floor by the entrance for 2 hours straight and waited for Ellie.  The teachers in the room all tried to encourage her multiple times to come and play with the other kids but Riley said “No, I just want to wait for Ellie.” and that’s what she did.  Two.  Hours.

When I picked her up today she was happily playing.  I was so ecstatic that when we ran our errands I did something I know I’ll regret and I finally gave in to a horse ride at this gross little “arcade” room at Walmart.  This particular little hole in the wall is a place I have consistently avoided with all of my kids any time we shop there.  It’s kind of dirty looking, but I mostly avoided it because I don’t want every trip to Walmart to end in my kids begging for rides.


But, it was 50 cents well spent.

Let the spoiling begin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to School Updates

We’re into our second week of school here and things are going well.  Austin has adjusted just fine and seems excited when he gets on the bus each morning.  I think he’d still answer that recess is his favorite subject…followed by Gym.  I’ve noticed that reading and writing has already started to “click” a bit more with him, but math is still an easier subject.

He brought home this creation the other day:


It has a sweet poem on the back about loving his family.

He said “Ms. Gross told me not to worry because the heart didn’t have to be perfect.”

I said “Well, it looks perfect to me!”

He said “I think it looks like a ship heart with guns.”

Isn’t that lovely?


Meanwhile, things with just me and the girls is….well, it’s girly.

When we’re not at the Y or Ellie’s preschool (which she is loving!), we are usually at home playing ponies, house, coloring, or baking.  This morning I did a lot of babysitting for their dolls.  And if either Riley or Ellie caught me neglecting my duties, by say, emptying the dishwasher while the dolls “played on the floor”, I was sure to hear about it.  When we were getting into the car to go swimming the girls each brought their babies with them.  Ellie suggested I hold the babies up front with me while I was driving.  I suggested they hold their own babies.  She suggested the front seat.  I said the front seat is not safe for babies.  Then I went inside to retrieve something I forgot.  I came back to this:


Problem solved.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

11 Years and Counting

This past weekend Rob and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

We were really romantic.  On Friday, I ran around with the girls while Rob and my dad worked all day on our mudroom redo (which will someday be it’s own post).  A big huge thanks goes out to my dad for helping and to my mom for lending him to us!  Friday afternoon I picked up Austin from school and we went directly to Amboy, MN to meet up with Bob and Patti.  They then took our car, and more importantly, our kids back to their house in Iowa.  So, a big thanks to them too!  When I got home, Rob had prepared our favorite meal!

Promptly after eating, we went to Lowe’s to purchase what we needed for the next day.  I told you it was romantic.

Saturday morning we were downstairs working in the mudroom by 8:30am.  Rob put another layer of mud on the sheetrock and I tried to plan out how we were going to cut our cement board before tiling.  I found out I am not a pen and paper planner.  I’d much rather plan as I go….which I guess really isn’t planning.  So, Saturday we spent the majority of our day laying cement board and working on more mudding/taping.

We did call it quits at 2pm to go get pampered with massages, then shopping for Rob’s work clothes, and then dinner at Wildfire.

Sunday morning, while Rob went back to Amboy to get our kids, I tiled the mudroom.  My dad swung by 1/4 of the way through and helped with a lot of cutting.  I’m certain there were many instances were he could have just stood there and laughed at me…to his credit, he didn’t.  He left 3/4 of the way through and I was literally laying the last two tiles when Rob and the kids walked in the door!


11 years doesn’t really feel any different than 1 year (aside from the 3 obvious differences we added halfway).  I think that is a good thing.  He’s still the person I am most excited to see each day and the person who knows when I need a break from a crazy day.  It’s amazing what all he does for me and our family and I think I will renew his contract for another 11 years!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Day of Pre-K

Ellie had her first days of preschool this week!  It is an event that she has been eagerly anticipating and equally dreading for the last two weeks!  The first day was called “Hello Day” on Wednesday and both Rob and I went with her on that day. 

On Hello Day we spent an hour wandering around the classroom figuring out the routines, testing out the new toys, and checking out the other kids.  We discovered Ellie has two other Ellie’s in her class.  To boot, one of them is also Ellie R.  So, the teacher said they would have an Ellie Re, and an Ellie Ru.  My Ellie does not like this.  She is Ellie…plain and simple.  The other two are actually Elliana and Elenaor (I have no idea how to spell that name)…so I figured they would just use full names for the other two girls;  I figured wrong. 

Her 2nd “first day” was on Friday.  I think the hardest part of her day was waiting to go.  Austin gets on the bus around 8:30 and we don’t need to leave for Ellie’s school until about 8:55, so she has an agonizing 20 minutes that needs to wait patiently.  I think she spent the whole 20 minutes with her backpack on.



She LOVES her backpack!


So excited!


Maybe if I stop taking pictures under the tree I’ll get less shadows and closed eyes! Love this pic anyway!

The pictures are actually from “Hello Day” – In case you can’t tell I’m conflicted on which day was her actual first day.

When Riley and I dropped her off on Friday Ellie went through the routine she learned on Wednesday and then immediately went off to play with some of the toys.  By the time I signed her in she had no use for me or Riley.  She barely acknowledged our leaving and that is just how I like it!  Strong and confident. 

Now, I have spent the last two weeks of summer really pumping up the older two for the beginning of school.  What I neglected to realize was the change that Riley was going to have.  After I dropped Ellie off at preschool, I walked over to the YMCA next door and put Riley in Kids Stuff (their on-site childcare while you work out).  Riley was beside herself.  She has only ever been in that place with her brother and sister.  What on Earth was she going to do by herself?  She was bawling.  One of the teachers in there had to hold her for the first 15 minutes.   Gulp.  I felt awful.  I know that she will get used to it, but she’s fairly stubborn and I see her putting up a fight for at least a month!  In the meantime, my guilty conscience bought her an Icee afterwards!

Back to Ellie – she had a blast!  She said she met one new friend already, she played outside, she had a snack of cookies, and she learned a song she already knew! (And then she promptly sang it for me 3 times).  When Austin got home from school she sang it for him twice more and on the third time he said “Ellie!  I heard you.  You’re driving me crazy!” but then he politely said “Ellie!  Tell me about your day!  I was wondering today, during Media, if you had a good day!”  Absence makes the heart grow fonder I guess.  Just not for Riley.  Absence makes her hold a grudge.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A less than ideal start

Today is the first day of school for Austin.  Specifically, his first day of first grade where he will spend the whole day in school!

Austin has had a mixture of emotions this summer regarding first grade.  He was not excited whatsoever about it (maybe a tiny bit about getting a new backpack).  Then he had his open house night last week and left the school bouncing off the walls he was so excited!  Hurray!  I thought we were set.

This past week he has been a little extra clingy and back to not being excited.  Last night he just broke down crying at the dinner table about being away from home for so long and how he was going to miss his mom (yes, I will admit, I was a tiny bit glad to hear that…even though he was sad)!

To top it all off, he got another fever yesterday.  So, he will spend the first three days of school feeling less than perfect.  I will spend the first three days of school praying each day someone remembers to give him ibuprofren after lunch.

As we put the finishing touches on his morning and were getting ready to head outside for some pictures I saw a bus drive away.  I yelled to our neighbor, who confirmed, that was Austin’s bus.  Great. 

First day of school, my son already has anxiety (and a fever), and now we’ve missed the bus.  It was 12 minutes early.  Lucky for me Austin has always wanted to be a kid that gets dropped off so he was able to roll with the punches pretty well.

We had plenty of time to snap some pictures in the front yard.


My first grader!

The girls were very anxious to get in a picture with him too:


Then, mom and dad:


LOVE this picture of them!


And then it was off to school. 

Half the neighborhood got rides to school since the bus was so early, so Austin met a lot of his friends right when we got there.  We took some more pictures with Mia.  Austin declared he was going to be “fancy” in these photos.  I have no idea where he got the idea he was looking “fancy”.  He looks to me like he’s flashing gang signs in one of the pictures.


And then Mia put his arm around him and they shuffled off to their classrooms.


The girls and I have had a pretty fun day.  Though, if you mention any of this to Austin I will deny it all.  We went to a new park, had a picnic lunch, and hit up Chuck E Cheese for a few games with some friends.

I’m hoping when his bus pulls up at 4:06 (or maybe 3:54?) he has a smile plastered on his face and only good things to tell me.  At least we can have a good ending to the day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Backyard Camping

This past Saturday, at about 5pm, we decided that we would camp out in our backyard.  It’s a notion we had been tossing around for a week or so, but never settled on a day until just that moment.

Both Rob and I have always enjoyed camping (though Rob is a bit more particular about what the weather needs to be), so we have quite a bit of gear on hand.  For this particular experience, we just settled on our larger tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats.  Oh, and TV.

It’s the beauty of camping in your own backyard.


Whenever my dad took us kids camping in our backyard, he always put the TV out there for us.  And the mattress from the pull out couch too.  Granted, the TV he brought out was probably less than 13 inches, and it was black and white.

Anyway, so after convincing the kids that they didn’t need to relocate every toy from their room into the tent, we all got our jammies on, piled into the tent with popcorn, pop, candy, and a movie.  After the movie, I was surprised at how fast everyone went to sleep.  Each child awoke at least once.  Well, maybe they weren’t fully awake, but they were making a lot of noise and I sat up each time to rub their back while they fell back asleep.  Around 1am, Riley somehow wedged her way in between Rob and I, eventually taking over both of our sleeping pads and leaving us on the bare floor.  No surprise there.

At about 7am, Austin woke up and crawled into my sleeping bag with me.


By 7:15am everyone (mostly Captain  Crazy Hair a.k.a. Ellie) was awake and declaring this the “best night ever!”


And because we have a very strict “monkey see monkey do” policy around here….Riley also made her declaration.



Overall, it was a success and something we’ll do again.  However, both Rob and I thought we might kick up the luxuries a notch and use our air mattress next time.  Riley will undoubtedly accept the challenge of commanding that queen size mattress from us as well.