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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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…