Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa through the years







2008 (remember this?)













2014 - 1

This year we went back to the mall Santa because I didn’t plan well and the awesome (and free!)  Bachman’s Santa had a tight schedule.  This Santa was still great and the kids enjoyed their visit….but their customer service was pretty bad and with only 12 (probably less) families in front of us, we waited over an hour.  Kind of takes the fun out of a Santa visit.  Next year we’ll be going to Bachman’s the weekend after Thanksgiving to beat the rush.  Also I thought I was done Christmas shopping and apparently I am not.  Another reason to visit early!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Time to Catch Up

I always thought once all the kids were in school that I would be a blogging machine.  I’d have all this extra time and life would be smooth.  I’m sad to report that is not the case.  Most days, before I realize it, it is 1pm and I haven’t even eaten lunch.  Some days it’s because I’ve been running around and other days it’s because I got involved in a project and just lost track of time.  Either way, I am enjoying each and every day.  I’m only slightly worried for the upcoming holiday break from school.  It seems I have lost my high tolerance for kid craziness and I’m afraid I’ll be ready to ship them back to school after only a couple days.  Note to my neighbor ladies:  Let the happy hours ensue!

So, in no certain order, here is a recap of the last month or two (or maybe three?).  I just grabbed some random pictures off my phone to give you all an update.



Okay, so I guess this doesn’t really have much to do with us, but this guy has shown up on our house and in our backyard mountain multiple times.  This picture does not do his/her size justice.  It sat on our roof for over 4 hours one afternoon.  It’s a snowy owl.  The kids and I looked it up.



Our porch is done!  It was finished either late September or early October. I can’t remember.  But we LOVE it!  It is my favorite spot in the house.  The kids love to curl up on our lamb skin rug in front of the fireplace.  The floor is toasty warm, the couch is great for napping, and when it’s snowing you feel like you’re in a snow globe.  Special thanks to all my family who helped us with the floor and my mom who handled the curtains!  LOVE it!



Mia (and her parents) came to visit the day after Thanksgiving!  Ahhhh, young love.  These two are so fun together!  They pick up exactly wherever they left off and have so much fun together.  They are inseparable the second she walks in the door.


Austin, though he’d never say anything, just loves the extra attention he gets from her.  There’s an extra twinkle in his eye when she’s around. It’s very cute.



My kids are wearing out their welcome at my parents house.  And for the record, that’s me saying that, not my parents.  They seem to have endless patience and energy for them.  The first weekend in December the kids slept over while we attended Kerry and Mike’s card party.  The second weekend they slept over while we attended Rob’s work party.  This Friday they will stay again while we host a neighborhood party for the adults at our house. And just to round things out, my parents are watching them again on Monday night when Rob and I head to “Motown the Musical”.  This is Grandpa taking a beating.  Grandma is more the crafty type and is teaching my kids about different art techniques by drawing Digimon with them.



We all went to see Rudolph the Musical at Stages Theater.  It was very cute, very much like the movie.  The kids really enjoyed it (especially when I caved and bought them each a stuffed animal….I’m a sucker).  We’ll get some good use out of these fancy duds tonight when we go visit Santa and then out to a fancy dinner.  Friday, Riley will wear her dress for her kindergarten holiday performance.  And, if they stop growing maybe again in the spring for the piano recital.



She is funny.  These kids make me laugh on a daily basis.  Life is good.



I’ve been knitting up a storm.  I made a hat for Ellie, a poncho and hat for our neighbor girls’ American Girl Doll, and I recently finished these two pair of boot cuffs for teacher gifts.  I made the tan ones first and decided that I don’t like cabling that much (but like the look) so I picked a different pattern for the second (gray) pair and it turned out to be much more work.  My fingers hurt.  But they’re done.  I’m not sure what is next on my list, maybe something for myself?



Christmas movies are in full swing around here.  We touched on all the standard kid films and are delving a little deeper into our collection.  This year we have debuted “White Christmas” for the kids.  Riley loves it.  The other two only like it.  Here is Ellie and Riley reenacting the last scene per Riley’s request.  Great movie, less great when Riley asks 800 questions.  “Do they have a crush on each other?”  “Why is she mad?”  “Did he really break his leg?” “Does buttermilk really give you good dreams?”  etc. 


And that’s it.  I mean, that’s not it, but that’s what I’ve got for now.  I’m missing lots of other things, probably some more important than an owl landing on our house, but off the top of my head, that’s what’s going on.  I’m hoping the snow sticks around for awhile, I’d like to use my cross country skis soon and I just bought some ice skates so I can use the rink across the street with the kids….so long as it doesn’t become 45 degrees again!  I’ll try to do a bit better at keeping this up to date!

Friday, October 24, 2014

My boys

Time for a long overdue update.  This one is specifically about the males in my life.  First, Rob.

On August 8th, Rob did not have to go to work but being the overachiever he is, he got up at 5:45am and drove to the gym (20 min away) to play basketball.  He had started playing with a bunch of guys there early in the morning a few times a week.  He had not played at all that week yet because his achilles were feeling tight.  But, that morning he decided to give it a shot.  He did some light jogging, felt good, so on with the game!  Towards the end of the game he was driving to the hoop and thought someone hit him in the back of his leg.  And the rest is history.  He ruptured his Achilles tendon.  The guys in the gym said they heard it happen (gross!).  They wheeled him to his car, he drove home (it was his left leg) and then called me from the garage to see if I could help him into the house.  Kerry came over to watch the kids, and then we went to Tria.


The doctor confirmed what Rob thought and then we went and visited a surgeon to get his opinion.  Basically you can choose to have it repaired, or you can choose to let it heal on it’s own.  He said both options work, both take about the same amount of time, but healing on it’s own “might” not heal correctly, and then you’d have to have a much more invasive surgery to fix it.  Since Rob plans to continue playing basketball when he is healed, the surgeon suggested he have surgery.  Which brings us to August 21st:


Once he got his muscle relaxer (or something like that), Rob was the chattiest I think I’ve ever seen him.  He was trying to convince the nurses and surgeon that it was not his age or tight tendons that caused this, but his explosive athleticism.  The politely agreed.

So, now he is 2.5 months post injury and was just cleared to stop using his boot.  He even got on a bike at the gym yesterday (but he was pretty sore afterwards).  All in all, I think he’s doing really well.  I’m sure he wishes he was doing even better but he has taken everything in stride.  He’s a pretty active guy so I’m sure it has not been easy to be sidelined for the last 2 months.  Hopefully in another 2 months he’ll be feeling really good.

Meanwhile, the little man in my life had his own run in…..literally.  He ran into a tree.  The actual events are not completely clear since no one saw it happen.  But, I was there (50 feet away) and all his classmates and teacher were also right there.  The story, we believe, is this:  Austin’s class was outside taking a picture for “Anti-bullying day” and afterwards they all went to grab their jackets on the ground.  It was insanely windy that day so his jacket blew off his head and he quickly bent down to grab it and then on his way back to standing and running to catch up he ran into a tree.  His teacher sent him to the nurse and then came and told me what happened.  Mr. Wiener didn’t think he was hurt badly so I didn’t want to run in there and be “Mama Bear” so I waited until my volunteering duty was on break and then went and checked on him.  The nurse was running him through the concussion tests and he was doing fine so we both agreed he’d put a pack of ice on his head for 15 minutes and then go back to class.  Austin seemed fine with that plan.  An hour later I came up to the office from my other volunteering and was told the nurse wanted to see me.  Austin had come back and was “not doing well”.  I pulled back the curtain and he was moaning/sleeping on the cot.  I tried to wake him up and he just started crying and said “I just can’t talk very well”….only it was totally slurred because the left side of his face couldn’t move.  He was drooling and couldn’t sit up….he was a mess.  I ran to grab my car, had the nurse wheel him out to me and basically threw some car seats at another mom and asked her to take my girls home.  He couldn’t stay awake the whole way to the ER but did walk in with my help.  The nurse brought him immediately back to the ER and then he had a CT scan.  Thankfully that came back clear.  So they said we could just let him sleep.  But he was out of it!


He’d wake up for about 90 seconds if he heard my voice or Rob’s voice but didn’t stir for the nurses or Dr.  He also kept vomiting.  Eventually the Dr. said he wanted to keep him overnight because he was still vomiting (after Zofran) and still so sleepy.  But, he said he’d like to give him an IV too.  We figured we’d be there for awhile yet and by now it was 6pm and Rob hadn’t eaten anything most of the day (and had just gotten there from his own PT appointment).  So, I ran home to get him something to eat and when I got back Austin had gotten his IV.  Rob said that didn’t go over really well and that Austin put up quite a fight.  But the fight and the IV must’ve worked because this is what I came back to:


We did get to come home that night and Austin pretty much went right to bed.  The next morning he seemed fine.  Because Maddie recently had a concussion, we knew we weren’t supposed to let him watch TV, or anything with a screen, no running or anything more than a walk.  He listened to a book on tape for most of the day.


So, he is now 3 weeks post-concussion and to us, he seems fine.  He is eager to get back to his normal activities but his physical therapist (and recently his new occupational therapist) still want to restrict his activity.  Apparently, there is some problems with his left eye (that’s the side of his head he hit) tracking objects.  So, we’ve been going to PT 2-3 times per week and she said he’s making good progress.  He no longer has any stiffness in his back/neck, he no longer gets any headaches during the day, and he hasn’t felt dizzy lately.  So, now during his visits she is working on increasing his heart rate more and more and then we have to see how his head feels in the next 24 hours.  A lot of his visits have been in the morning before school, but sometimes they are after school, which means bringing the girls.  But, Riley LOVES this because the office has a therapy dog.  His name is Mason and Riley is in love:


So, my boys are healing well.  Us girls are trying to be patient with their inability to do anything, but we have been having some good times with game nights.  Austin is the new Trivial Pursuit master in our house.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Austin’s Birthday!

Where did the time go?  This summer went so fast and before I knew it, it was already Austin’s birthday!  As usual, we made the day all about him.  And since I happen to think he is a pretty awesome kid, with awesome ideas, we had a pretty awesome day.

Rob had to work, being a Tuesday and all, but we made plans for him to meet up with us later.  Austin chose to go to the ZRS Fossil store in the morning.  We had been there once before, but we were rushed.  This morning we had more time!  Also, Austin chose to receive money for his birthday, rather than a bunch of little gifts.  So, he made the store clerks day when he walked into the store and announced “It’s my birthday and I have $50 to spend!”  What he failed to tell the guy was that he was not spending all $50 in that store, he had other plans for most of the money.  But, the clerk probably spent over an hour with him showing him all the cool fossils and rocks in the store.  The majority were way out of Austin’s price range (even if he chose to spend all $50) so I know the guy was just showing him to be nice.


And, as you can probably see, the store contains a myriad of fragile items so I spent my time making sure the girls were not touching every shiny object in sight.  I’d say we left with our pockets a little lighter…but since we were buying rocks, that wasn’t the case.

Afterwards, per Austin’s request, we headed to Boston Market where we met up with Rob.  Austin and I had recently gone here for our date night and he loved it.  I told you he was awesome!  One of my favorite fast restaurants too, but one I rarely go to anymore.

After we stuffed ourselves with mashed potatoes and gravy we headed back to our stomping grounds and Shakopee’s SandVenture pool.  We spent our time building sand castles and swimming. It was a beautiful day for this!


We capped off the night with a family dinner at Lion’s Tap, where they stuck a candle in his burger and sang. He was terribly embarrassed by that but that’s good for him!  Once we got home Rob and Austin had a nerf gun battle before bed.

A week later we had his friends over for his birthday party.  Instead of spending the money to play laser tag or something like that, we decided to have his friends over to our house for a nerf gun war and campout.  For about half the price of those party places, I bought each boy a smaller nerf gun and we set up some wood barricades in our backyard (they were thrown out of the basement during the flood so we put them to use before we threw the away!).  This was the easiest birthday party ever.  They played non-stop!  Inside to eat pizza for  20 minutes and then back out.  I think Rob had just as much fun as the kids.  He was marveled by what great snipers they were.



I finally got the tent set up around 9pm and after an outdoor movie (The Avengers) I think they went to bed around 1am.  There were quite a few boys going in and out of our house all night.  Bathroom breaks.  I told Rob it would have been easier to rent a port-a-potty.  But, I think it was also a lot of “nerves” as it was a first sleepover for a handful of the kids, and a first camp out for many as well.  All in all, a great party.

Happy Birthday Austin!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Prairie Fossil Center

In honor of Austin’s 9th birthday, and his love for dinosaurs/fossils/exploring, we decided to make a side trip on our way home from the 4th of July festivities in West Bend.  We made a pit-stop at the Prairie Fossil Park in Rockford, IA.  I had read about it online about a year and have been meaning to take him there since but never found the best opportunity to go.  We had decided that we would take a road trip down there on Tuesday, for his birthday.  But, then I figured it would be easier for me (less driving) if we just made the stop on the way home from West Bend.

It was kind of a dreary day for fossil hunting, and also, due to the holiday, the visitor center was not open.  However, we made the best of it.  It was a pretty cool area.


I really had no idea what to expect.  I was not expecting these kinds of bluffs/cliffs though.  The girls were a bit hesitant to be walking around on all the loose grave and steep drop offs, but Austin was in his element!  I (of course) had to take Ellie back to the car and the bathroom within minutes of hiking out to this place, and when we came back Rob and and Austin had found their way down the bluff and up the other side.


The girls and I eventually made our way over to them, but using the path, instead of climbing up the rocks.

I guess it used to be a gravel pit of sorts. I never did get the history of the place.  We ended up finding quite a few fossils of shells but nothing too awesome.  I think we probably spent more time crawling around than actually looking for fossils though!


Austin and I eventually made our way to the lake to test the water temperature.  Although it felt nice, this ended up being a very messy mistake.  One that the girls had to get in on too.


The ground was made of a clay/silt.  It got all over our shoes, and did not come off easily. Oh well, a little dirt never hurt anyone.

If it weren’t so far away, I think we’d go back here again some day when we were weren’t pressed for time and wanting to get home.  Maybe bring a picnic and check out the visitor center too.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Little Mermaid Jr.

I guess over a month off is a long enough hiatus.  So, as I last posted, my kids spent the majority of their summer rehearsing with the River Valley Children’s Theater to perform “The Little Mermaid Jr.” at the end of July.  The whole process was very interesting and organized.  The kids spent the first day learning a song and dance.  They spent the second day “trying out” for parts.  They had to do the song, dance, and then read some lines for the directors.  That night they were assigned parts.

Backtrack a little bit with me.  We all know Ellie loves being on a stage.  Any stage.  But Austin doesn’t seek the spotlight like that.  And Riley runs from it.  So, I wasn’t sure Austin was going to like this at all and before we signed him up I went over the various “boy” parts that would be available.  Sebastian, Prince Eric, King Triton, Flounder, Grimsby, Chef Louie,….  He ended giving a shrug and saying “Okay, I’ll try it. I just do NOT want to be Grimsby”.

Fast forward to the cast list.  Austin Runchey……Grimsby.  Too his credit he just laughed.

Ellie was awarded the part of Gull #1 (one of Skuttle’s friends) and Riley was given Princess #2 (and various sea creatures and ‘the wind’).

Rehearsals were closed so I only ever saw about 3 minutes each day I picked them up.  But finally the show dates were here!  We went with my sisters family and my parents on Friday night, opening night.  Despite the microphones not working, and not being able to hear most of Austin’s lines, I was so proud of them!  I didn’t know what to expect from the group for 5 weeks of work, but I was really impressed with what they did!  And of course, I thought all my kids were awesome, but I was really excited about Austin’s performance.  He had quite a few lines to remember, and even a little song to sing (by himself) and he did it all wonderfully!  Riley went out and did her lines and roles without trouble and Ellie shined as a seagull!


I never did get a great picture of them in their costumes (which were far more elaborate than I thought they’d be!).

I ended up going back for Saturday night with my brother’s family:


And then figured I might as well finish off the trifecta by attending Saturday afternoon’s show too. 

I’m fairly certain Riley’s theatrical days are over.  She was a trooper but it just wasn’t her thing.  I do think that Ellie and Austin will try again next year if the show interests them.  There have been rumors of Annie and that makes Ellie really excited.  Stay tuned…

Saturday, July 26, 2014


My kids have spent almost every weekday for the last 5 weeks practicing from 9:30 am-12 pm for a play through our community education group.  They have been extremely good sports about it.  That fact doesn’t surprise me for Ellie, since I know she loves this kind of thing, but it did surprise me a bit for Austin.  Austin doesn’t typically like things that go on and on like that for weeks at a time.  I’m hoping he is having a good time at the practices, just like Ellie.  Riley….well, Riley is Riley.  She liked it for about a day, maybe two, and then she figured out that while she was gone every morning her friends in the neighborhood were playing without her and that didn’t sit well with her.  Still, to her credit, she didn’t complain (much).

Then comes Thursday.  They had just gotten back from practice and we were discussing how they just have one practice left and then their 3 performances.  Then the phone rang.  It was their director asking that the cast all stay until 3:30 the next day to practice.  They would get two hours off, then the kids were due back at 5:30 to get ready for the show.  This information was received with groans from all three kids.

I decided that a distraction was in order.  So, we piled in the car and headed to Minnesota’s Largest Candy store.  The kids and I tend to make a trip there once a summer and we hadn’t gone yet so it was time!

We picked out some weird flavored sodas to try, scoured every aisle, walked by the fresh baked pies twice just to inhale the yummy scent, everyone picked out two treats, and Austin danced in the aisles to the polka music.


My attempt at distraction worked well.  Who can be grumpy with a bagful of candy?

Bring on the weekend!  My kids are ready to perform (and on a sugar high)!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Flood

I know it’s been forever since I posted.  No giant reasons other than we’re busy enjoying summer.  Except for last Thursday.  Last Thursday I could have done without.

It started out fine.  I knew it was going to be a rainy day so I invited my sister over to work on a puzzle with me for a bit.  She showed up around 10:45am and said “There’s a car stuck on Thrush”.  I asked what she meant.  How could a car just get stuck in the middle of the street?  So, I looked at saw this:

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Wow!  I had no idea this was happening in front of my house!  So I quick texted my neighbor and let them know water was halfway up their driveway and they might want to come home.  Then a police officer walked by (the lady wouldn’t get out of her car so she eventually had to be rescued by the fire department) and said “They have water in the basement?” and I said “I don’t know, I was just telling them to come home.” and he said “No, They HAVE water in their basement.”.  Which made me walk around the corner to find out how he knew this:

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Oh.  Yep, I bet they do.  That was at 11:08am.  Which reminded me I should look at my backyard:

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Then I told Rob he really needed to come home.  Then my sister and I spent about 15 minutes running from the front of the house to the back willing the water to stop rising.

11:35….it wasn’t stopping.

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Kerry went to pick up Austin from his camp because I didn’t want my van to be the second victim on the road and then took all my kids to her house.  Then she came back just in time to help us start moving everything out of our basement because it had started finding it’s way into our house.


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We had a wonderful support team come to our rescue.  A few neighbors showed up to start moving stuff to our garage and two teenagers from down the street, that I’ve never met, jumped in (literally) to help us move stuff.  We were fortunate to get most things out before it got too deep.

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At 3:30pm it was still pouring into our neighborhood.

By 4:00 we were starting to see the level decrease in our front yard (but hold steady in the backyard), and increase in our basement.

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We think our basement ended up with just under a foot of water.  The water stretched over a foot up our lookout windows.

The backyard cleared our 6 foot fence and then some.  A lot of our lumber for our porch construction floated two houses away.  That night Rob called a restoration company and they showed up around 10:45pm and left around 1am.  It was a LONG day.  Clean up was a drag (and still is) but we still feel fortunate to have lost very little.  It was also wonderful to see a neighborhood pull together like ours did.

Let’s hope this NEVER happens again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Our Weekend

We had a really great weekend.  It encompassed a little bit of everything. 

This year we decided to purchase season passes to Valleyfair.  I think it’s something most of the families around here have done for a long time but it has just never made sense for us.  In the past, due to  the height restrictions I couldn’t be the chaperone for more than one of my kids at a time and it’s not like I could just leave the other two standing there while I rode a ride with one child.  Furthermore, Rob doesn’t like rides so I wasn’t counting on him going with us much.  Fast forward to this year and Austin no longer needs a chaperone for most of the rides and the girls can go on almost all the kiddie rides without me.  Plus, we committed to going at least once with some summer visitors we are having and if we go just one more time, the season pass pays for itself.  Long story short, we are now season pass holders to Valleyfair and we’ve already gone twice!  Friday night we were just going to go to get our photos taken for our IDs but not stay for any rides.

Well, that turned into the photos taken, touring Dinosaurs Alive, playing in the ball playhouse, riding a couple rides and having some mini donuts.


And a quick visit with Snoopy.  Austin grudgingly posed for this picture with Snoopy on the premise that it would be the only one all summer I would make him participate in.  However, when Woodstock later came out to visit and the girls gleefully hugged him Austin said “Well, I suppose since he’s my favorite character I will hug him too.” and then shuffled over to him for a hug.  For the record, I’m fairly certain Austin has never mentioned Woodstock in his life or even knew his name. 

Saturday the kids eagerly awaited the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa Runchey!  When they got to our house we went to karate to grab Austin and then all headed to El Toro for a yummy lunch!  We watched a movie after lunch (some of us, namely me, took a quick cat nap) and then Rob and I headed out to a Hawaiian themed party at the CEOs house.  They had a pig roast, which I had never seen before.


It took the chef about an hour to carve the pig and prepare all the meat but it was delicious and worth the wait!  It was a perfect night for an outdoor party on Lake Minnetonka!

Sunday morning we had donuts and, after a tearful good-bye to the Grandparents, Rob and Riley headed back to Valleyfair for their “date night”.  Lucky for Rob, and Rob’s ride-hating stomach, Riley ran into one of our neighbors, Elly, and rode most of the rides with her.


Picture Rob and his legs in that car….it’s been done and it’s funny.

While they were seeking thrills at Valleyfair Austin, Ellie and I were relaxing on the deck at home.  I decided it was the perfect weather to sit out on the deck with a good book and I was soon joined by these guys.



Austin was really enjoying his book but Ellie only lasted about 30 minutes and then decided to play “waitress”.  She opened up a cafĂ© called “Ellie’s Buffet” and served us Nilla wafers with chocolate sauce, Goldfish crackers covered in Fruit Roll-ups, and water.  The service was amazing.

Once Riley and Rob rejoined the group we headed out to get the plants for our garden and the girls decided to plant more flowers in the front yard.


The weekend ended up being the perfect blend of productivity, fun, and relaxation.  I hope more of the same are in our future!