Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Holiday Recap

It is always difficult to go back to the daily grind after a nice, long, holiday weekend and this past Thanksgiving holiday was no exception!
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Even though Allie was feeling pretty yucky, we were able to make the best of our time together as a family (especially since sick kids usually sleep in...7:30 a.m. on the digital bedside clock never looked so good!). I even had the opportunity to sneak away to see the new Twilight movie with my sister on Wednesday evening while Ben and my brother-in-law hung out with the kids.
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Upon our return from the movie, we decided to begin our food indulgences early this year with Minnesota's own self proclaimed largest doughnuts from a bakery in Austin, MN (where one of Ben's job sites is located). The doughnuts, I swear, are at least the size of a small child's head and are some of the best tasting baked goods I've ever had (they even make German Chocolate doughnuts...my favorite cake morphed into a doughnut?! Sublime!). Subsequently, Ben is not allowed to bring any more home.
We had a fantastic and relaxing Thanksgiving Day with my family. While the guys watched the Packers game, the kids played remarkably well together, and the gals helped with some craft preparations for my sister's preschoolers.
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Dinner was divine...as is always the case when my mom is the one cooking.
And, because I always seem to neglect picture taking on Thanksgiving day, I made sure to snap a few (or encourage Ben to) so the day was well documented.

We were able to spend plenty of time at home watching movies and decorating the house for Christmas on Friday. We even had our first Christmas light viewing excursion on Friday evening.
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With Allie's fever finally down, we took the opportunity on Saturday morning to get out of the house to do some Christmas shopping and go out for lunch. Allie's birthday money was also burning a hole in her pocket, so she picked out a few things of her own to purchase (a carriage and horse for her new Princess dolls, a few coloring books, and a Mulan Princess doll to join her other Princesses). Allie was a bit distraught that she actually had to give the cashier her money in exchange for the items she chose...apparently she thought she could keep both the money and the merchandise!
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Unfortunately, by the time we arrived back home early Saturday afternoon we noticed Zach was not looking good. The thermometer reading of 102 degrees proved that he was indeed beginning to feel crummy. So, we took the rest of the day to relax at home. Ben and I even wrapped all the Christmas presents after the kids went to bed that evening and placed them under the tree.
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Sunday was mostly spent at home with the exception of Allie and my short girls' shopping escapade where I was able to purchase some new running shoes (which I LOVE! I ran this morning with absolutely NO knee pain!) and some small Christmas gifts for her preschool teachers.
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If the duration of Allie's fever last week is any indication of what Zach's will be, it looks like we will be spending the remainder of the week at home. Although it is difficult for me to slow down, I've been trying my best to come up with fun things to do around the house. So far, we've painted, made play-dough, watched Christmas movies, colored, read lots of books, built choo-choo tracks, and had our first attempt at creating shrinky-dink Christmas ornaments. I was hoping to make some Christmas cookies too, but am thinking it may be better to wait until all coughing and hacking are a bit more under control. Any other suggestions are definitely welcome!
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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Stir Crazy


Seven days straight of fever and flu-like symptoms have delirious effects on not only the patient, but her care givers as well. Although patient #1 is fully recovered (minus the nasty cough that I've been told will hang around for a while), patient #2 is on day 3 of his 102 degree fever. Both caregivers have yet to contract the formidable H1N1 virus, but have instead fallen victim to insanity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MN Orchestra Tickets: 2 for $10

I thought this offer was too good to keep all to myself--2 tickets to the MN Orchestra's Inside the Classics Concert Series' performance of Debussy's La Mer and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun for $10 on 1/27/10 and 1/28/10 (regularly priced tickets are anywhere between $20-$60 a piece)! I just ordered my pair today and the offer is good through November 30, 2009. Here's what you need to do:

Visit the MN Orchestra Inside the Classics website featuring the information for the Debussy performance and click on the "Buy Tickets" link.

Select the 2 seats that you prefer and click on the "Purchase Tickets" link.

Before purchasing tickets, enter the promotional code DISCOVERY and your ticket price will be reduced to $5 each! There is still a $4.75 handling fee for Internet orders, but I am curious if that would be waived if you called the box office to secure your tickets (612-371-5656).

Enjoy the concert!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Allie!

Well, Allie-babe, today you are 4 years old. When I asked you yesterday at lunch how in the world you grew up to be 4 already, you answered matter-of-factly, "I don't know! I'm just big now and I get bigger every day!" So simple...yet, so true.
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On your very first November 24th, you were so tiny and so quiet.
By your second November 24th, you had found your voice and also your love for all things pink.
Your third November 24th was spent gushing over Hello Kitty while we admired your still chubby cheeks and baby curls.
By your fourth November 24th, you filled the room with your giggles and we all couldn't believe how you went from being a baby to a little girl seemingly overnight.

Today marks your fifth November 24th and you still continue to amaze us with how fast you are learning and growing into a little lady with your very own shining personality.

As you enter this 4th year of life, with views, opinions, and experiences all of your own....
Favorite animal-kitty
Favorite color-pink and purple
Favorite food-macaroni and cheese
Favorite place-Mall of America (to visit Disney World-aka The Disney Store-and to ride the rides)
When I grow up, I want to be-a Princess
Favorite thing to do-play with my castle and princesses
My one wish-a puppy (a REAL one)
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...know that we will always love you, simply for being, YOU. Happy Birthday, Allie-Babe!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some Monday Ramblings

First of all, a HUGE thanks to all of you that supplied comments to my previous post regarding your lack of brain function. How good to know that I am not alone in the brain loss department!
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In other news, the streak of no sickness in our household has officially come to an end with the arrival of a 102 degree fever this past Saturday. The victim? None other than the birthday girl herself. With a cough, fever, and several complaints of just "not feeling too good," I'm wondering when or if we decide to blame swine flu or the common cold. Who really knows anyway?! So far, no one else has exhibited any symptoms, so I guess we just wait and see.
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On to happier things...
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Like preparing for the princess' birthday tomorrow. Yum. Cupcakes.



And, yes, I am fully aware that this is the second year in a row that we will be hosting a Disney princess birthday party. But, if the birthday girl wants princess cupcakes and chicken chili for dinner, I aim to please.
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I also wanted to report that Zach is jumping now. Fortunately he's not jumping off of things...yet. He's just learned to jump with two feet off of the ground at once (we won't tell him that he only manages to get about a half inch off of the ground and almost falls down with every single attempt). He is intensely proud of himself and practices this new skill all. day. long. He no longer walks or runs around the house. Of course not. He jumps. And he also slams doors. And opens them. And slams them again. And throws himself on the ground, kicking and screaming, when I remind him that we do not slam doors. Or he tells me that he is playing "scare" with Allie (apparently, he is really into being scary as of late?).
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Lastly, (wow this is probably one of the most random posts I have ever written) I want to sing the praises of Facebook. Ok, I know what you are thinking. Facebook...what a waste of time. But, honestly, I posted on Facebook this morning about how my knee has been painful lately after running and asked for suggestions and within 2 hours....whammo...I had several comments, tips, advice, etc. Basic conclusion: I need new running shoes and if that doesn't solve it, I probably have bigger issues. I know this sounds like quite an obvious solution to my dilemma, but it didn't even occur to me that the reason for my recent knee pain was old shoes. I mean, seriously, I have never EVER had to buy new athletic shoes before because I have actually worn them out! In fact, I assumed the shoes I bought in February were still new. Apparently I was misinformed.
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Well, I think that about wraps things up for this rambling post. Off to prepare for tonight's flute lessons while I still have 32 minutes of nap time remaining.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Little November Catch Up Post

Alright. Since it is now officially mid-November and I still have yet to feel a surge of bloggy inspiration, I am resorting to my all time favorite post format. I bring to you (drum roll-please)......
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THE TOP TEN LIST OF THINGS I HAD GREAT INTENTIONS OF BLOGGING ABOUT, BUT COMPLETELY NEGLECTED TO DO SO:


10. We put up Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time EVER this year. The warmer than average November paired with our enthusiasm for the Christmas season (read--the first year we were married, we bought an artificial tree and had it completely put together and decorated in our apartment by November 1) resulted in a mighty fine display of white lights in the front yard. We have only had a brief inaugural lighting to ensure that all lights were working, but have been informed by Allie that the lights will make their nightly appearances beginning on her birthday.

9. Allie made a fruit loop necklace at preschool last week. Allie brought me a blue string this morning and, in between tears, asked me what happened to her necklace. Zach came running into the kitchen a mere five seconds later muttering something to the effect of "Allie's necklace....ate cheerios...yum."

8. Ben and I enjoyed this past weekend in WI without kids. We were able to catch up with some family and friends, spend lots of time together, and attend our 10 year high school reunion. We stayed up later than we have in months (we even ate pizza at midnight...wow...I'm feelin' a bit old mentioning that we ordered a pizza late at night like it is a noteworthy achievement) and although we feel completely rejuvenated from our time away, the lack of sleep is starting to take its toll.

7. The kids spent this past weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house and weren't too thrilled upon our return. Although they said they missed us, Allie has already asked no less than 50 times when she can stay overnight at Grandma and Grandpa's again and Zach's first words upon waking up from his nap and seeing my face were "GRANDMA?! GRANDMA?!"

6. I am well on my way to being completely done with Christmas shopping and have already ordered and received our family Christmas cards. And, no, I'm not sure why that is blogworthy.

5. The princess birthday requested by Allie has been sufficiently planned. In addition to her upcoming family birthday lunch, we will also be having her BFF spend the night for the first time. I have a whole slew of princess crafts planned for the evening in addition to the viewing of either Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty (complete with popcorn). For dinner, Allie has requested breakfast. So, I'm thinking a little stack of pancakes with candles are in order.

4. My best friend from college just welcomed her 3rd baby into their family! Much to Allie's disappointment, Zach and I visited Baby Elena while Allie was at preschool. I had a great time talking with Sonia and Will, cradling Elena, and watching the 3 older kids play with the awesome train set (while also being reminded of my total lack of engineering ability when their 4 year old son had to show me the correct way to construct the train bridge so that it would actually remain upright and stable when a train was placed atop of it).

3. I was a bit concerned when no one responded to the post in which I discussed my massive brain dissolution. I mean, seriously, I know I haven't been very consistent in posting lately, but I checked and I now have over 45 subscribers--which is shocking in and of itself because I still can't fathom that there are that many people out there who are interested in the ramblings of my mostly mundane life--and absolutely no one else has evidence of brain decay? I feel so alone.

2. I am really struggling to come up with 10 things. I guess maybe I should have thought of the items in the list before composing the title to the list. Obviously, I could go back and change the title, but THE TOP 8 THINGS I HAD GREAT INTENTIONS OF BLOGGING ABOUT, BUT COMPLETELY NEGLECTED TO DO SO just does not have as pleasant a ring to it as THE TOP 10 THINGS I HAD GREAT INTENTIONS OF BLOGGING ABOUT, BUT COMPLETELY NEGLECTED TO DO SO. You know how on these lists you're supposed to keep reading because item #1 is the best or funniest? Well...ummm...you've read a long time and if you choose to continue reading, I don't want you to get your hopes up to high.

1. It is now 3:54 pm. Both kids are still napping. This is not normal. I better go check to see if they are still breathing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weight Loss/Maintenance Update

Due to lack of blog posts recently, I realized I haven't provided a weight maintenance/weight-loss/healthy living update in quite some time. Despite the fact that I have a new found obsession with peanut butter (which is weird because I haven't really enjoyed peanut butter with this much gusto since I was about 5 years old), things are going pretty well.
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I managed to secure my lifetime membership with Weight Watcher's last week, meaning that I have maintained my goal weight for the necessary six week period. Strangely enough, I was worried that I wouldn't make lifetime membership not because I would weigh in 2 pounds over goal weight, but because I would weigh in 2 pounds under goal weight. If you are more than 2 pounds in either direction, lifetime membership is withheld until you are between those parameters. So, I made sure to wear several layers of clothing (just in case) to my weigh in, but it wasn't necessary since I weighed exactly 2 pounds below my goal weight. Now, to maintain lifetime membership status, all I have to do is weigh in once a month. Easy enough, huh?
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In other news, I had to go jeans shopping again. Crazy. I am now officially wearing a pant size that I have never, EVER, worn before (4 sizes smaller than last year at this time). In fact, I look at the new pants and jeans in my closet and still can't believe that they fit me. They all look so small. Yesterday as I was boxing up and re-organizing all my too-big clothes I couldn't help but think that I must be crazy because everything looked like it would fit just fine. I had to try on a couple pairs of pants one more time just to prove to myself that they indeed did not t fit (and yes, they fell completely off my hips).
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Ben says he thinks my problem is that I have a "fat mental image." Well, I guess that could be the problem, but I'm honestly more concerned about the fact that it seems my husband has a secret obsession with watching Dr. Phil and Oprah in his free time.
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In all seriousness, though, I think Ben may be on to something. I have spent the last 8-9 years of my life being overweight and wearing plus size clothing. In a way, it is what I became comfortable with. And, honestly, even though I knew I wasn't skinny, I was in complete denial about being overweight. I had pretty much convinced myself I was healthy and when I looked in the mirror, I saw something completely different than what everyone else saw. That is one reason why I didn't initiate a lifestyle change sooner: I wasn't convinced there was a problem.
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So, although I know that I am not overweight anymore (obviously the scale, my clothes, my activity level, and blood sugar levels can all testify to that truth), I definitely don't feel skinny. Is that weird? Don't worry, I have definitely not gone all psycho with the desire to lose more and more weight at the expense of my health. I am happy at my goal weight, I know I am making healthy choices right now, and I feel physically great. I just also still feel like I'm the fat one...to the extent that I will often do a double take at the reflection in the mirror just to make sure it is really me staring back.
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Obviously my mind has a bit of catching up to do with my body in this respect. I'm sure it will just take a little more time before I can eye a pair of pants at the store and know whether or not they will fit.
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So, while I'm waiting on that to happen, I am going to come up with a whole lotta healthy ways to incorporate peanut butter into my maintenance plan....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Which I Discuss My Brain...or Lack Thereof

So, apparently I'm suffering from blogger's block lately as exemplified by my lack of posting anything for well over a week...which is unfortunate because it is definitely not due to a lack of experiences to record.

In fact, I haven't even taken the opportunity to share with you all how I have obtained newly acquired scientific evidence that my brain is slowly dissolving away. Ok, so maybe using the word "scientific" isn't entirely accurate, but I do believe standing next to the wrong mini-van in the preschool parking lot last Thursday morning, desperately pushing the button on my clicker, yet not comprehending why the automatic doors refused to open despite the loud beeping noise coming from across the parking lot, is proof enough that the brain cells that were once fully intact inside my skull are most definitely dissolving into thin air.

In case the above example is not evidence enough...

I was at Wal-Mart a week and a half ago to pick up some more diapers for Zach and I stood in the middle of the diaper aisle for no less than 10 minutes while racking my less than fully functioning brain trying to remember exactly what size diapers we buy. As I stood there, staring at the plethora of choices, I remember becoming extremely irritated over the increasing price tag (along with the decreasing number of diapers included), subsequently found myself wondering where Zach's potty training switch is located so that we could just flip it on and be done with all the blasted diapers for good, before quickly deciding upon and grabbing a jumbo box of size 3 Pampers.

After an entire week's worth of mornings waking up to a little boy with soaked pj's and crib sheets, after also having fully vented my utter frustration regarding Pamper's complete lack of absorbency quality and continued attempts to rip us off, Ben kindly consulted the diaper size and gently reminded me that Zach hasn't worn a size 3 since he was 8 months old...Zach is now 25 months old. So, I relayed the above story to Ben about not being able to remember the correct diaper size in the middle of the Wal-Mart diaper aisle and he sweetly asked why I just didn't look at the size on the diaper Zach was wearing at the time. Fighting the urge to blow steam from both my ears, I instead blamed the whole unfortunate incident on the steady depletion of what little healthy brain cells I have remaining.

Further proof of my malfunctioning brain cells include:

  1. Putting a bib on Allie the other day before lunch and setting a sippy cup of milk in front of her. She looked at me like I was a crazed lunatic, politely asked if I would take the bib off, give her a real cup instead, and patiently reminded me that she is almost four years old and has not worn a bib or used a sippy cup since she was two.
  2. Closing the garage door the other day while the van was inside with the back hatch still opened (again, I know, I believe this has to be at least the 4th time...shhh...don't tell Ben...I can't have him thinking I've lost all my marbles). In my defense, the garage door clicker we have looks an awful lot like the van clicker and it was definitely my intention to push the van clicker...so you can imagine my shock at pressing the clicker button only to see the garage door begin to close instead of the back door of the van.
  3. Washing my hair no less than 3 times in the shower this morning because I couldn't remember if I had washed it yet.
  4. Losing my cell phone on a walk outside a couple weeks ago and not even realizing it was missing until my dad called me at home and left a message because some weird kid called him at work to let him know that I had lost my cell phone.

I would love to be able to provide you with concrete reasoning behind the sudden dissolution of my brain. I have lots of ideas: tiredness, stress, aging, raising two kids and a husband, pregnancy (haha...gotcha there...just kidding...no, just to clarify, I am NOT pregnant). But, alas, I cannot pinpoint the exact impetus for my brain loss.

The only hope I have is that there are others out there experiencing the same phenomenon. If you are one of them, please comment. I need to know I'm not alone.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trick Or Treat

Wow, for us not usually making a big deal of Halloween, we sure had a full day!

We ended the day with Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood. Allie, upon remembering Trick-or-Treat last year, was extremely excited to dress up and go door to door. She insisted upon being a Cinderella bride this time (in favor of Princess Giselle). She needed no reminders of how to Trick-or-Treat, and was always the first one to the door so that she could ring the bell and yell in her loudest, most princess like shriek "TRICK OR TREAT!" After we went up and down our street, Ben even took her to a few more houses on the neighboring block while Zach and I held down the fort and handed out treats at home.
Zach, on the other hand, was a little bit more skeptical and was definitely NOT excited about wearing his costume. Although he went Trick-or-Treating last year, he obviously had no recollection of the event. We were finally able to convince him to keep his costume on after several attempts at explaining the fact that he would be carrying a bucket that people at different houses would fill up with candy if he kept his costume on. After he heard the word "candy," I'm pretty sure he was convinced that this might be something worth enduring. By about the third house, we had won him over and he also began chiming in with his own cute little "TWICK O TWEET!" Somehow I was able to get both kids to stand next to each other and got a fairly decent picture!And, you know Ben and I, we can't let the kids have all the fun. So, I went dressed as a bunny (thanks to Allie's dress-up box and some skillfully applied lipstick and eyeliner) and Ben went as a construction worker (thanks to...well...umm....his job). I still can't believe how much candy we came home with--at least five pounds (most of which got sent with Ben to work today so that he can pawn it off on his coworkers...of course after we both sorted through and ate the good stuff...mmm...Almond Joy...). I also can't believe how much candy the kids ate! I pretty much let them go nuts and they were on such a sugar high that it is a miracle they even went to sleep at all.

For the record, I did keep some of the candy for the kids...things like suckers, tootsie rolls, sweet tarts, smarties, and maybe a few chocolates. However, surprisingly, neither one of them has asked for any. We'll see how long that lasts!

Halloween Festivities

When you live in the same county that is also home to the city which is known for being the "Halloween Capital of the World," then it goes without saying that there will be plenty of family friendly festivities to participate in on Halloween day. Although we have lived in our present home for over four years, this past weekend was our first time to attend the acclaimed Halloween parade in our northern neighbor city.

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We weren't quite sure what to expect out of a Halloween parade, but had heard that quite a lot of people from all around the Cities come to see it. So, we made sure to arrive over two hours before the beginning of the parade to reserve our spot with blankets and chairs (apparently we were lucky to get a spot...the people around us reserved their spots before 7:00 that morning!).

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After our spots were sufficiently claimed, we walked through the quaint and somewhat touristy downtown area where we happened upon a kids' Halloween carnival. For under $5 the kids were able to participate in almost an hour's worth of games (complete with prizes) and took a turn in the inflatable jump house.


Allie even got to make her very own bracelet:And after Zach won a sucker by spinning a huge wheel, he was sufficiently satisfied.
We had picked up some sandwiches from Subway before arriving, so after the carnival we went back to our seats and ate a chilly picnic lunch. And because we were starting to feel the effects of the brisk wind and chilly temperatures, we also indulged in some steaming fries and hot chocolate.


The parade itself was way more than any of us expected! The kids loved seeing all the marching bands, horses, fire trucks, police cars, and floats complete with princesses, Sponge Bob, and Cars characters (to highlight a few of the kids' favorites). I was a little concerned about gory-themed floats, but was pleasantly surprised that only one creation boasted severed heads and blood (and thankfully we had enough candy to quickly avert both kids' attention).


After about an hour and a half, upon the realization that we had heard "Thriller" booming through the sound systems of at least 15 of the floats and the kids' candy bags were more than overflowing, Zach had a major meltdown upon temporarily misplacing his green Gideon's New Testament, and we realized it was probably time for us to head home.

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In an effort to see if we could stay until the end of the parade, we gave Zach another sucker (at this point, we lost count of how many he had consumed)...
...and he was temporarily appeased.


We stayed for another fifteen minutes before realizing that our fingers and toes felt numb. So, we didn't see the end of the parade, but we did enjoy an hour and forty-five minutes worth of it (which is honestly the longest parade I believe I have ever witnessed in person).

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To further extend the Halloween festivities, we came home and decorated pumpkin cookies.
Although I'm fairly sure there was more licking of frosting and snitching of sprinkles than actual decorating, it was still fun!
Through the pumpkin cookie decorating extravaganza, I learned that black frosting is not the best option. Ta-da! The finished masterpieces:

Halloween Breakfast

Ben and I have never gone to great lengths to celebrate Halloween. But, since Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, we thought it would be fun to make the day special for the kids. So, with a little prep work on Friday night. . .

. . .we were able to enjoy a hot breakfast on Saturday morning complete with Ben's authentic Jack-O-Lantern Juice (more commonly known as Minute Maid OJ from concentrate),scrambled eggs, pumpkin fruit (ok, so it was really cantaloupe, but it is orange), and pumpkin shaped french toast.


The kids loved it! When Zach first saw the table he declared it to be "PERFECT!" Allie was also just as excited to discover upon waking up that there was a party in her own house for breakfast.
What a fun way to begin the day!