Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Austin!

On July 8th, Austin turned 8!  His Golden  Birthday!

We started the morning with donuts and presents.  He was extremely excited to get his very own tablet!  We probably could have called it a day at that point and he would have been quite content, but instead we all headed to Chutes and Ladders for a little park fun.  And since I’m horrible about keeping up with this blog and his actual birthday seems eons ago…I can’t really remember what we did after that.  I think we had lunch from his favorite sandwich shop in town, and Rob had class that night so the kids and I had Domino’s with a movie.

His party with his friends was a couple weeks later when we got home from Georgia.  For the first time we elected to have the friends parties outside the house.  That just might be the way to go.  At least until the kids are older and want sleepovers.  Austin decided to have his birthday party at Grand Slam, in Burnsville.

We played bumper cars:

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And the most popular activity was laser tag:

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That’s Ellie up there hunting down her enemy.  Actually, I’m fairly certain she ran out of ammunition about 15 seconds after loading up and didn’t really understand how to refuel so she spent most of her time harmlessly stalking the other team.

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Along with laser tag and bumper cars the kids each received a few arcade tokens and unlimited mini golf (and pizza, cake and pop).  Unbeknownst to them, they also received batting cage tokens but I didn’t want to deal with finding the right helmets and bats for each kid, or someone getting beaned with a baseball, so I told Rob to just hold onto those and he can come back with his friend for a batting cage day.

I tried to get a nice picture of the kids, followed by a silly picture, but as you can see, there isn’t much difference:

Nice

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Silly

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We’re glad he enjoyed his birthday(s)!  He’s been in lego heaven ever since.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Georgia On Our Minds

Back in January I got a hair-brained idea that the kids and I (no Rob) would drive down to Georgia to visit our friends (old neighbors…Mia!) for a week or so.  Yes, I am that crazy.  I had given it a little bit of extra thought and decided that my dad could drive down with us (I’m not sure I ever asked if he wanted to…just assumed he wouldn’t be able to resist 18+ hours in a van with me and the kids) and then I would buy him a ticket from Atlanta back to Minneapolis.  He could then return to Atlanta when it was time to drive home and we’d do it all again, backwards.  In theory, it wasn’t a bad idea.  However, when I went to research how much his ticket was going to cost, I found round-trip tickets for $174.  After you include gas, wear and tear on the car (and my sanity), food stops, and all the bribes I would have to buy my children, I decided at that price it would be cheaper to fly.  So, I booked 4 tickets to Georgia.

We lucked out in that Rob was able to book a work trip to Florida Monday through Friday, and then fly home Friday with a weekend layover in Atlanta.  It still left me flying alone with 3 kids, but at least he was able to enjoy the weekend visit with the Haefner’s! 

Kerry came and picked up the kids and me at 8am on Thursday morning.  We were all ready for our 4 night trip with 2 backpacks, a carry-on, and carseats!

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We didn’t have to pack much because Chrissy informed me she had a basketful of clothes for my girls.  Yahoo!  We love Mia’s wardrobe!  The plan was that Rob would shove everything into his extra large suitcase, on his way home, since he can check bags for free.

I have to say, flying wasn’t nearly as hairy as it could have been.  The kids did fantastic!  Even with 3 gate changes in O’Hare.  I was pretty proud of my crew.

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And seeing our friends in Georgia was awesome!  They live in Peachtree City which is a really cool community.  They get around mostly by golf carts; to the grocery store and everything!  I had a blast driving that thing around!  They also have a community pool in their neighborhood that is pretty much deserted at all times?!  We enjoyed swimming and driving around, but the kids just had a blast being together.  When we were at their house we barely heard from them for 5 days!

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My girls are sporting their “new” PJs.  They just love going through all the clothes and picking out their favorites.

After over a year it was fun to see how the kids just pick up where they left off.  I hope we will get to visit them again soon around the holidays.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

7:30am…what are you doing?

Riley stumbled into my bed at 7am chattering about her frogs. 

Yesterday she was at our neighbors house and came home with 3 baby frogs that they caught.  Actually, they got about 10, but she only brought home 3.  She spent the better part of the evening making a nice habitat for them in an ice cream bucket.  I told her she could keep them one night but then we had to let them go so they could go find their mom.  Well, she woke up very nervous about them missing their mom so she was quite insistent that we let them go right away.  So, at 7:30, we went outside to free some frogs.

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First she had to say “Good Morning” to each of them.

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There is three in there….I can only see 2.  It’s like a hidden picture game!

Then she decided to let them go in the shade of the swingset.

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And guess what, about 5 minutes after she let them go I decided I wanted to mow the lawn.

So, then we re-captured the frogs, I mowed, we set them free again, and currently she is outside with her friends capturing more frogs.  All by 9am.

We don’t have a pond that close to us so I’m not sure where they are all coming from but I won’t complain because she sure is entertained!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Camping (Attempt to anyway)

A few weekends ago we took the kids camping.  To a real campsite, not our backyard.  We went with the Murphy’s to St. Croix State Park.  There seems to be hundreds of campsites there, but we stayed on the Old Logging Trail and I have to say, it was really nice.  The shower/bathroom facilities were extremely clean and nice than some hotels I’ve been in.

I love camping.  Something about being outdoors and “living off the land” (yes I use that term very loosely since we packed half our house) appeals to me.  Unfortunately, living off the land during severe storms does not appeal to me (or anyone else) so our camping trip was cut short.  We arrived Friday, and immediately set up our sites.  I was in charge of dinner Friday night and I’m happy to report that my campfire quesadillas were awesome!

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I made them ahead of time at home and just packed them in the cooler.  I also made breakfast sandwiches and froze them to heat up over the fire the next morning.  Also delicious!

My other contribution was our new screen tent.

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The plan was to have it over the picnic table and even have enough room for a chair or two but the picnic tables at the campsites were ginormous!  Easily 9 feet long.  So, my 10 foot screen just barely fit over it and there was little room for anything else.  But, we enjoyed bug free meals so that was nice.  It also kept our wood dry during the storm that night.

Riley was loving the nature around us!  She spent her time capturing caterpillars and making little homes for them.  We all went on a couple little hikes down by the river but the bugs were so bad it was hard to enjoy it.

On Saturday morning, having all woke up to various sized lakes in our tents, and with the forecast of another storm on the way, we decided to pack it up and head home early.

I’m anxious to try again though.  I think the next time we won’t book our sites until closer to the actual date and then we can keep en eye on the weather and make a game time decision.  On the plus side, while we were up North, apparently the South got pummeled with a huge storm.  And, on Saturday night when we were back South, the North had their turn.  So we successfully avoided both nasty storms!

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy 4th!

We had a pretty fun-filled week for the fourth of July!

We spent the actual 4th at my brother’s house.  That party was set to start at 5pm and at around 9am the girls started asking if it was time to go yet.  They just LOVE their cousins!  Everyone spent the evening in their pool before we ate dinner.  Then, it was out to the front street for his neighborhood fireworks display.  It started off innocent enough with the legal MN variety of fireworks.  Austin stood a bit too close to a smoke bomb and suffered a couple small burn blisters on his ankle.  Then we the crew busted out the illegal variety imported from surrounding states Rob questioned their use and had no problem convincing Austin to head inside with him.

After a missile-type firework zipped way too closely over our heads I was okay joining Rob and Austin indoors (the girls were out back playing on the swing set).  We decided to call it a night and headed home before too many of the “big ones” were set off.  Apparently, we missed out on another couple near misses.  I guess home-firework shows are not our thing.

On Friday we headed to West Bend to celebrate the fourth of July with Rob’s hometown.  It is also a reunion of sorts for his brothers and sisters and all the grandkids.  More cousins!!!  My kids were in heaven!  Before we headed to the festivities on Saturday Rob snapped a picture of all the girl cousins:

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They were excited to all be wearing skirts.

And the boys:

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They were all excited to be playing Minecraft.

The Ankeny Runchey’s didn’t arrive until mid-parade so they aren’t in the pictures…but were definitely present for the festivities. 

After the parade and lunch, we headed to the carnival for some jumpy castle things and games.  This might be the last year the kids are interested in that part.  Austin was not into it this year and even Ellie and Riley were pretty anxious to get to the pool.  Austin and Taylor spent their time jumping off the diving boards while the girls tackled the slide.

Isaac put together a tournament for the grown-ups to play bags.  Sadly, Rob and I were eliminated after our first game.  We were just getting warmed up!  We spent the rest of our time hanging out on the porch cheering on the rest of the groups and catching fireflies with the girls.  Riley REALLY wanted to bring her fireflies home but was finally convinced she should leave them in Iowa to visit next time she is in town.

As usual, it was a great weekend.  Everyone keeps telling me summer is half over now.  I refuse to listen to that nonsense because we have plenty of fun-filled days ahead!