Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brain Dump

I have lots of things floating around in my head today that I wanted to formulate into a blog post and it appears I have approximately 15 minutes to do so while Olivia is napping and the kids are with Ben for lunch.  Ben is working late tonight, so he decided to swing by home, pick Zach up, then pick Allie up from kindergarten, and take them both out for lunch.

I just finished a mountain of laundry and I can officially say for the next 15 minutes there will be absolutely no dirty laundry in the house.  After Olivia wakes up and the kids and Ben return home, that may not be the case.   

Besides needing to go to the doctor for Allie's 6-year old well-check, I'm not really sure what the plan is for the rest of the day.  Other than the fact that we are having leftovers for dinner, I haven't thought much about what to do to occupy our time for the remainder of the day. 

Yesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of me saying yes to the most important question I have ever been asked.  After we put the kids to bed early, we celebrated our engagement anniversary (that seems so silly--I don't think anyone else but us probably keeps track of the day they got engaged!) by watching the newest episode of "Glee" on the DVR and eating the rest of the Halloween Milk Duds my sister pawned off on us over Thanksgiving before falling asleep at approximately 9:15 pm.  We live wild and crazy lives around here, people. 

Olivia is officially 13 months old today.  I do believe month 12-13 was the quickest one yet, but I say that every month, so I'm not really sure it means much anymore.  She is sportin' another tooth (the top left), talks constantly (although we can only guess at what she is saying), loves to be "walked" around the house, crawls everywhere, gets into almost everything, climbs a few steps, had her first play-in-the-toilet incident, is down to taking only one nap a day, loves to color, loves to read books, and loves baby dolls most of all. 

She is also getting interested in helping me with chores and last week, while she was "helping" me with laundry, she successfully put 5 pairs of underwear on her head.  I was going to take a picture, but then realized most of the underwear she was wearing were mine and I just didn't feel right about my underwear being posted for all to see...atop my one-year-old's head. 

Anyway, when I told the kids today that it was Olivia's 13 month birthday today, they both assumed we would be having cake.  When I told them we don't really have cake to celebrate monthly birthdays (although, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea...they may be onto something) Zach said that it was ok because Baby Jesus' birthday is coming up and we can just have some of his birthday cake then.  Alrighty.  I guess I will be making a Baby Jesus birthday cake this year.

Speaking of Zach, he told the checker at Target that he sometimes sins.  She complimented him by telling him he was such a good boy and Zach responded, "Yep, but good isn't enough.  I sometimes disobey and sin."  Can you tell what we've been talking about lately?  Or, that the kids have been working on Romans 3:23 for their memory verse this week?

And, it looks like my 15 minutes are up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Tuesday Afternoon

Due to the lack of snow, it has been hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the Christmas season is upon us.  So today, during Olivia's afternoon nap time the kids and I created our own Christmas cheer by making some holiday crafts together.  After we gathered the glue, paint, scissors, and construction paper, we put on some Christmas music and got ourselves into more festive spirits.  Granted, the kids have been singing "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" since this past July, so the music was definitely more for my benefit than theirs. 


After we exhausted our supply of watercolors and completed our gingerbread boy and girl cut-outs....

....we put the finishing touches on our hand print angels.

I thought that the angels turned out really cute and since I didn't want Olivia to feel left out, I helped her make her very own after she woke up from her nap.
Even after all that crafting, the kids were still looking for more Christmas activities to keep them busy, so I provided them with a few Christmas mazes and a word search I had printed free online earlier this morning. 

We also spent quite a fair amount of time reading "Judy Moody & Stink:  The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt."

And, that was our Tuesday afternoon. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday, Allie!

This year Allie had to share her 6th birthday with Thanksgiving.  Instead of being upset about sharing her special day, she was overflowing with giddy excitement.  For us, celebrating her birthday on Thanksgiving day definitely brought back a lot of great memories because Allie was actually born very early on Thanksgiving morning in 2005. 

My family, who was still living in Wisconsin at the time, had decided to travel to Minnesota to celebrate Thanksgiving with us because I was already 5 days overdue and they didn't want us to be alone on the holiday.  Although we weren't able to be at our table that year to eat Thanksgiving dinner, my family made sure to bring the leftovers so that Ben and I could still enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the hospital while they met their brand new grand daughter and niece. 

A lot of that day is still a bit of a blur to me.  I was exhausted and in complete shock as the weight of parental responsibility began to dawn on me while I stared in awe at the beautiful baby girl that had made me a mom.  Despite my body feeling like it had been run over by a Mack truck and there not being a ton of nurses on staff that day to help us figure things out like how to change a diaper and what to do when the baby opened her eyes, that particular Thanksgiving changed our lives forever and I will always remember it as my very favorite. 

We knew that Allie wouldn't be able to wait very long to open her birthday presents on her birthday, so as soon as we arrived to my parents' house on Thanksgiving morning, we gathered around and let her begin. 







She was thrilled beyond belief to receive her very own American Girl doll, Marie-Grace, complete with book and several accessories. 

Since Thursday, Marie-Grace has become a full-fledged member of our family that eats when we eat, brushes her hair each morning, completes art projects with Allie, and follows Allie around wherever she goes.  On Friday, I read the entire "Meet Marie-Grace" book to Allie and she was even more thrilled to discover that Marie Grace loves to sing and attend costume balls.    
After lunch, we brought out the Rapunzel-themed birthday cake, complete with raspberry cream filling (Allie's favorite!):


We had a great time celebrating six years with our Allie!  True to Allie's nature, the day was full of fun and excitement!
I can't believe how fast these six years have gone by, yet I can hardly remember a time without your laughter and love for life.  Happy Birthday, Allie-Babe -- We Love You!

This Past Week

I'm a little sad that it is Sunday night already.  We've had a fantastic time celebrating Thanksgiving with family and I'm just not ready for it to end yet.  After a weeks' worth of mornings lounging in our pj's eating leftover cinnamon rolls (seriously, my mom makes THE BEST cinnamon rolls EVER) and pumpkin pancakes and late nights (after the kids are tucked into bed) spent cuddled on the love seat watching "Super 8," "Pirates of the Caribbean 4," and whatever else we haven't gotten to yet on the DVR, it seems weird that tomorrow is back to school, work, and reality. 

So instead of thinking about everything that needs to get done between now and then, I'm simply going to spend the night remembering all the fun we have had this past week....

Like....

When the older kids spent the night at my parents' house, we decided to hit up PF Chang's for dinner where Olivia ate her weight in chicken lo-mein and lettuce wraps.  Chinese is always a treat for us because the big kids won't even look at vegetables and meat co-mingled with rice or lo-mein noodles, let alone allow it to come close enough to their mouths to actually consume.  So, we took our easy-going third child and enjoyed a quiet dinner while we talked about all the things we had to be thankful for over the past year. 

Then, on the way home, we had to swing by Baker's Square to pick up a pumpkin pie because I burned the one I was supposed to share at our family's Thanksgiving the next day.  I'm not sure how anyone can ruin a pan of pumpkin pie bars, but I did, and I did so extremely well.  Fortunately, the homemade honey-wheat crescent rolls and corn bread-cranberry-apple stuffing I made earlier in the day turned out amazing. 

Or...

How Ben spent lots of time this week making sure the outside Christmas lights were just right.  After he had them finally set up, we all piled in the mini van so that we could drive by from every direction to ensure the lights were perfect.  I think he did an awesome job and needless to say, he was pretty proud of himself.


Or...

How Ben and I laughed like two immature 13 year olds at some of the scenes in "Breaking Dawn."  And then, how we kept on waiting for the seizure inducing scenes that my brother-in-law told us he had heard about on the news.  Then, how Ben bought Reeses' Pieces and we laughed all over again about the time when we were in high school and went to a movie and in my haste to rip open the bag of Reeses' Pieces we bought to share, I ripped the bag completely open and every single one of them spilled all over the entire movie theater floor during one of the quietest moments of the movie.

Or...

How Zach still calls desert, "fesert."  No matter how many times we correct him, it still comes out, "fesert."  


Or....

How much Olivia loves cake. 






Or...

How cute Zach is....even though he throws a complete fit at the dinner table every time he is asked to eat something green on his plate. 

Or....

How the guys' Thanksgiving was made even better by quesadillas, chips, salsa, and cheese dip while they witnessed the Packer's victory.


Or...

How Allie could not contain her excitement over her 6th birthday.

Or...

How fun it was to watch Olivia ham it up with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Stephanie, and Uncle Chris.


Or...

Zach falling asleep on Ben's lap while watching "The Muppets Christmas Carol" and waiting for Thanksgiving dinner because he just couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. 


And....

Remembering Thanksgivings past, realizing that our family has officially doubled in size, and how next year we will be adding one more little one to the table as well.  That's right--I'm going to be an aunt!  Congrats to my sister and brother-in-law are in order!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top Search Terms to Find My Blog

Every once in a while it is fun to look at my blog stats and see how people have found my blog.  My favorite part is where it lists the different google search terms that have brought people here.  Today, for your enjoyment, the top search phrases used to find my blog:

1.  ana caban 

I'm guessing this is from the posts way back when I was into pilates and Ms. Ana was such a calming presence in my life and weight loss efforts. 



2.  edy yogurt blend ice cream

Yum...I really don't recall writing about this...and if I was a good blogger, I would search my blog and link up to the particular post where I mention Edy's yogurt blend ice cream, but it is 6:45 in the morning and I have yet to drink my coffee and it just isn't going to happen.  However, it doesn't surprise me at all  that I wrote about ice cream.

3.  little kids rides 

I'm guessing this search led right to several Mall of America posts or summer vacation pics from Bay Beach in Green Bay, WI or maybe even the State or County Fairs. 


4.  allie all in the fingers

What?!  Seriously, I have no clue. 



5.  beautiful preggo portraits

Wow...this one really made my day because I'm fairly certain the only preggo portraits I've displayed on my blog are ones of me.  Thank you, google...that was extremely flattering. 


6.  cars 2 backpack 

Pretty certain this search brought them to Zach's first day of preschool pictures. 


7.  ear bug bite pictures

Hahahahahaha!!!  This is definitely in reference to Zach's humongous ear after being bitten by who knows what.


8.  peanut brittle, pecan pie painting

So I've never made peanut brittle and I have yet to paint a pecan pie, so google....I have absolutely no idea with this one.


9.  11 weeks pregnant with bloated stomach and chubby waist

Yep.  That definitely sounds like an accurate depiction to me. 


10.  tangled birthday

No surprise here...I guess I'm joining the ranks of birthday party inspiration for all moms of soon-to-be six year old girls. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Allie's Tangled Birthday Party

We always celebrate the kids' birthdays each year with a small family party, but we decided a while ago that on their sixth birthdays we would hold a "friend" party as well.  Allie has known about this milestone for quite some time and began planning her very first friend birthday party in celebration of turning six this past spring. 

The only problem?  She turns six on November 24....meaning, we have had well over seven months of birthday party planning from a very excited soon-to-be six year old.  Now, I know I can be a little crazy in the birthday party planning department, but Allie's sixth birthday party was definitely not on my radar last May (which was extremely troubling to Allie because it has been of utmost importance to her since she turned five). 

Anyway, my birthday party planning lunacy kicked in around mid-October when we officially decided on a Tangled birthday party theme with Allie's favorite princess, Rapunzel.  After lots of brainstorming and looking for ideas online, I think we came up with a pretty awesome party. 

Ready for some pictures? 

First up, decorations.  We decided to host the party in our basement family/play/game/craft/exercise/laundry-folding room.  The space was pretty full of furniture and toys, so we cleared out as much as possible to make room for the dozen 5-6 year old girls that would be coming to the party. 

Here's what we came up with:


This was the sign Allie made to hang by our basement stairs.








I actually don't think the pictures do it justice.  It looked so amazing!  The time I spent sponge-painting those flags was well worth the effort.  Ben was the mastermind behind hanging them all (which took a lot longer than I anticipated), but I'm fairly certain that he felt the same way when it all came together. 

I think the most fun part of the entire party was watching the girls' faces as they ventured downstairs and took their first peak into the room.  Allie was completely thrilled and was more than willing to pose for a few pictures amidst all the Rapunzel decor:



Because several of the girls we invited were from Allie's kindergarten class and had not ever been to our house before, Ben manufactured this cool balloon and flag banner that he set up in the front yard.  Unfortunately, because it was super windy and snowing outside, it was completely destroyed by the end of the party.  Thankfully, it stayed intact long enough for everyone to locate our house easily. 
Once the girls began to arrive, Allie morphed into full hostess mode.  She made sure to talk to every girl, welcomed them to our home, and showed them all where to go downstairs.  We set up the TV with the Tangled DVD so that the girls could all watch a portion of the movie while we waited for everyone to arrive and the official party to begin. 

We planned to begin the party by making paper bag luminaries...reminiscent of the floating lights/lanterns in the Tangled movie.


I made sure to do a lot of the prep work ahead of time:  cutting out the golden tissue paper suns, dividing up beads and pipe cleaners for the handles, punching the holes in the bags for the handles, sorting out tissue paper colors for each lantern, setting out glue sticks and scissors, making sure there were crayons if the girls wanted to color, etc.  I also purchased some flameless battery-operated tea lights so that each girl could take one home and their lantern would really glow. 

I was a little concerned that the craft would be too overwhelming, but it went off without a hitch. 


The girls spent close to 45 minutes decorating their lanterns and the ones that got done early simply colored the Rapunzel coloring sheets I printed online.  When everyone was finished, we made sure to turn on all the tea lights and turned off all the overhead lights so that we could all see everyone's glowing lanterns. 

After the craft, we divided up into two groups for games.  I made name tags prior to the party, ones with pink flowers and ones with purple flowers, so that we could easily divide into two groups.  Ben took one group and supervised a game of toss the bean bags into the frying pan (a frying pan because Rapunzel's defense weapon of choice was a cast iron frying pan) and I led the other group in a rousing game of pin the braid on Rapunzel.  Unfortunately, we didn't get many pictures of the games because both Ben and I were a little preoccupied at the time.  I did manage to get a shot of both the pink and purple groups after playing pin the braid:



Bingo was next up on the agenda.  I managed to find a website that generates free bingo cards and call cards (with words or pictures or a combo of the two) and I would highly recommend it.  It was great to have a game that all the girls could participate in at once instead of having to wait for a turn.

Our last game (which I have no pictures of) was a pass the present game.  I wrapped 15 fun-size packages of M&M's in one small box, nestled in another wrapped box, nestled in another wrapped box, and another, and another....you get the idea.  I think when it was all said and done, there were about 15 layers of wrapping on that box.  We then had the girls gather in a circle where they passed the present to each other to music from Tangled

After all the girls were happily sugaring themselves up with M&M's, we gathered round for Allie to open her presents.


She got lots of cool girly things:  a Barbie doll with pink platform shoes, princess craft items, color-your own stuffed animals, a color-your own book a bag, a horse board game, a Rapunzel figurine, a Rapunzel stuffed doll, a glittery Minnie Mouse t-shirt, a stuffed horse in a purse (called a "Pucci Pet"--haha!), and a walking stuffed dog...to name a few.  She did a great job of thanking her friends after opening each gift. 

Since we didn't have a lot of time during the party, we read through the girls' birthday cards afterward and it was so fun for Allie to see all the pictures they drew and read their kind words.  She is really excited to get started on thank you cards!

Cupcakes followed the present opening:
We all made sure to sing "Happy Birthday" to Allie and watched her blow out her candle:


The girls also enjoyed pretzels and caramel corn in addition to their chocolate cupcakes.  To drink, we served ginger-ale floats with raspberry sherbet. 


By the time we were finished with cupcakes, parents were already arriving to pick up the girls.  Allie happily handed out the treat bags and thanked everyone for coming.  While we waited for the rest of the parents to arrive (the snow had started falling and the roads were getting slick and delaying quite a few parents), the girls continued coloring and watching Tangled. 

In short, the birthday party was a blast.  Upon leaving, one girl even told me to make sure that I send her an invitation for Allie's birthday party next year.  I'm not sure how we are ever going to top this party, but I think Allie and I are already up for the challenge come next year!