Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earrings For Allie

Today was a big day for Allie.  According to her, she has been waiting ever since she was 5 years old for this day to come to pass.  In fact, it was "a dream come true!" 

Following church today, in an effort to combat some severe cabin fever, we made our way to the Mall of America for the afternoon.  We visited a few stores and rode a few escalators before finding ourselves inside a Claire's where Allie immediately began admiring the earrings. 

On a whim, I asked her if she wanted to get her ears pierced.  Usually she is hesitant (she has always wanted the earrings, but hasn't been so sure about the method), but today she immediately replied "YES!  YES!  IT IS WHAT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED!"

We tracked down the store's associate and within a couple minutes she was seated in the chair, ready to go.

We picked out a pair of pink sparkly flower earrings and I signed the consent form three times.  They gave her a special Claire's bear to hold.

Then, they marked her ears.

I believe this is when she got really nervous.  She wouldn't admit to it at the time, but tonight while I was helping her clean her ears, she told me she got really hot and felt VERY nervous!  Good thing she had a team of cheerleaders to root her on. Zach could really have cared less.  However, at the end of the ordeal he became suddenly interested as the ear piercing lady began handing out lollipops.

Anyway, back to the piercing....

After the marks were made and before Allie could change her mind, the ear piercing lady worked at lightening speed to get those suckers in Allie's ears.

And just like that, her ears were pierced without a tear or any drama whatsoever!  She emphatically proclaimed that it did not hurt at all and couldn't stop smiling all afternoon!

She happily posed for photos during our time at the Mall.

Zach, on the other hand, was NOT having a good time and he didn't have any problem letting everyone know about it.  Apparently shopping and jewelry isn't at the top of his priority list.

After a few more stores and lunch at Noodles, we headed home where Allie spent the rest of the day admiring her new earrings in the mirror. 

Zach has no desire whatsoever to ever pierce his ears (totally fine by me, buddy!) and was extremely disappointed upon being told that he has to be extra careful playing with Allie...especially no more full body tackling or head locks! 

I thought Olivia would want earrings too, but she seems to be pacified with stickers for now. 

It was definitely a big day for my big girl! 

Another Weekly Recap

It looks like it is about time for another one of my infamous weekly updates.  While I always have great intentions of posting more frequently about our lives, the living of them seems to take precedence over the documentation of them.

Basically, we're all still desperately awaiting the arrival of Spring:

Our attempts at running through the house in bare feet and sun glasses are not working.  This Thursday morning as Zach, Olivia, and I returned home from swim lessons at the Y, the first snowflakes began to fall. 

What was supposed to be 2-4 inches of snow turned into about 8-10 inches when it was all said and done.  Even the ducks were wandering the street, aimlessly searching for any sign of spring.

By Friday morning, our backyard looked a little something like this:

A snow day was called in the school district we live in, resulting in the cancellation of Olivia's ECFE class and Zach's preschool.  Allie's school called a severe weather day and after the nasty road conditions we experienced the previous evening (resulting in an almost 2.5 hour siege for Ben to pick Allie up at school), we opted to keep her home. 

Needless to say, we've been spending lots of time indoors.  We've read lots and LOTS of books.....

We've also played board games, card games, watched far too much TV, and  baked WAY too many chocolate goodies.  It seems my initial reaction to snow in the forecast in the middle of April is to whip up a batch of brownies or cupcakes.  Our waistlines desperately need to see the arrival of spring!

It looks like snow is in the forecast again for tomorrow evening, but I did see a 70-degree toward the end of the 10-day forecast.  Heck, at this point, we would be elated with 50-degrees and a little sun!

Other highlights of this past week include a visit to Ben at work with Zach and Olivia, celebrating my mom's birthday with lunch at Panera and a trip to the mall, attending my very first Zumba class at the Y (it was a blast and I'm going back tomorrow), and date night with Ben to Paza Luna in St. Paul (thanks mom and dad for watching the kids).  All in all, a busy, but another great week! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Last Week's Highlights

Last week started out promising enough.  Sunday was sorta sunny and kind of warmish so the kids spent most of the afternoon running around the backyard grass.  Yes, I said grass!  Last Sunday our backyard was completely devoid of ALL snow.

Then, Thursday happened and this was the view from our back door approximately 10 minutes before I left to take Allie to school. 

The kids were a little apprehensive when it started thundering during the morning snowstorm, but when I assured them that thundersnow causes no harm, they were more enamored than scared of this weird Minnesota spring phenomenon (that I initially mistook for a very large snow plow barreling down our quiet street).

Unfortunately, it has stayed cold and not much of that white stuff has melted, even after the cold downpour of rain we experienced all day today. 

The rest of the week was fairly uneventful.  Monday brought loads of laundry, school and dance for Allie, and a preschool conference for Zach where I was told he is more than ready for kindergarten. 

Tuesday was filled with errands and catching up around the house, including putting all of my winter boots, mittens, and scarves away to make room for shorts and t-shirts.  I'm not sure why I felt compelled to do that when I knew a winter storm was coming...maybe just wishful thinking?

Wednesday, after BSF when I asked Olivia what she wanted for lunch before we had to pick Zach up at preschool, she replied enthusiastically, "MAC AND CHEESE FROM PA-NE-WA!  And, you can have a sa-wad, Mommy."  Being the sucker that I am, we went to Panera for mac and cheese and a mommy salad. 

The snowstorm hit on Thursday and Zach decided that it was one of his stuffed animal's birthdays, so we made cupcakes.

After dinner we all sang "Happy Birthday" to his stuffed UW-Wisconsin Build-A-Bear Badger, blew out our candles, and ate cupcakes.  Zach, true to fashion, merely licked the frosting from his cupcake and proclaimed he was finished.  I'm certain his favorite part of the day was when I provided him with pretzels to dip in the remaining frosting from the jar after we finished icing the cupcakes. 

This week, I also found a series of notes in Allie's bedroom addressed to Ben.  They are actually quite cute and I was a little bummed to not be the recipient of any letters. 

Then she came home from school with a worksheet that listed four things that make her happy.  I felt pretty special for ranking right up there with Bedtime Bear, Minnie Mouse, and Disney World.

The highlight of Friday for the kids was popping the bubble wrap that accompanied a package that arrived that morning (a brand spankin' new sink protector...ooohhh...the excitement!).

Oh, and Allie and Zach helped Olivia channel her inner-pirate as Captain Olivia Hook:

Saturday was spent organizing kids' rooms and the basement storage one was very thrilled about it, but I tried to make the day a little happier by whipping up some blueberry pancakes for breakfast and promising swimming at the Y if we finished our jobs.  After lunch and completing our projects, we made a Goodwill drop-off run and a quick trip to Target before heading to the Y to spend the remainder of the afternoon swimming. 

Following church this morning, we went out to brunch with my parents to celebrate my mom's upcoming birthday.  The kids even wrote their own special song for her and practiced it the entire way to church (fun times, fun times...).  The only complaint came from Zach regarding the absence of birthday cake...and that was after he managed to consume four humongous pieces of French toast.

On the way home from my parents' house, we made a short stop at the grocery store and then came home to finish homework and get ready for the week.  While Allie completed her spelling, reading, and math, Zach finished up his all about me poster. 

I'm not sure how ready for the week I feel, but I'm definitely ready for bed.  I'm hoping, somehow miraculously, that when I wake up tomorrow morning the snow will be gone and green grass will be in its place.  A few buds on the trees and flowers would be alright too.  If not, I think I just might make a batch of Christmas cookies with the kids....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

An Impromptu Visit to Wisconsin

Last Monday I was thinking about my nephew, realizing that I hadn't seen him since he was six months old, and wishing there was a way to see him before our planned annual family vacation at the end of June when he will be over a year old. 

I know from personal experience that kids grow quickly, but they seem to grow at lightening speed when you are only able to see them every few months.  Granted, my sister shares many pictures of Drew and I hear him "talking" in the background as I chat with my her on the phone, but that just isn't the same as spending time together in person. 

So, after consulting our calendar and realizing that Allie had Friday off of school, I decided to call my sister to see if she would mind if the kids and I came to visit at the end of the week (Yes, I basically just invited the four of us to her house, but fortunately she seemed a-OK with it!). 

Early Thursday morning, after Ben helped us pack up the car and made sure I had correct driving directions, the kids and I made the 5-hour trip to Wisconsin, stopping at Subway for lunch where the sandwich-artist-lady discovered I was road-tripping alone with three kids, had pity on me, and gave the kids all a free cookie.  I really wanted to ask her why she didn't think I deserved a free cookie too, but I thought it better not to push her generosity. 

After a couple movies and only one stop, we made it to my sister and brother-in-law's house where this little guy had no idea what he was in for.

My three extremely talkative and loud lively children definitely made their presence known in his normally quiet home.  They invaded his space, played with all of his toys, hugged him, kissed him, monopolized time with his Mommy, but yet he still seemed to have a smile for them when they entered the room! 

We had a fun time visiting and kept the kids pretty busy.  The weather when we arrived was almost 50 degrees so the kids enjoyed playing outside and meeting my sister and brother-in-law's neighbor kids.  We also tackled some shopping at the local outlet mall, had lunch at McDonald's where we let the kids go crazy in the indoor play land, went swimming at the local YMCA, and enjoyed plenty of cartoons together.

The kids loved using my sister's leftover preschool supplies to bead their own necklaces.

I especially enjoyed visiting a local cake shop (the same bakery that made my sister and brother-in-law's wedding cake) that had amazing cupcakes.  Allie and Zach picked cotton candy cupcakes, Olivia chose a princess glitter cupcake with bubblegum flavored frosting, and after much debate (and coming to the sad conclusion that I couldn't justify eating one of every cupcake in the store) I chose a cherry cheesecake cupcake while my sister snagged a salted caramel filled chocolate cupcake.  Truly...the best cupcakes I've ever had!

Drew and Olivia especially bonded...over reading books together with Uncle Chris at bedtime, joint bath time, and coloring together. 

We all had a great time, but we did miss Ben.  Although the kids were sad to leave this morning, they were especially excited to see Daddy when we got home today.

The only traveling snag we ran into was this morning when Zach got carsick and tossed his cookies all over the back seat.  I learned very quickly that a paper McDonald's bag isn't durable enough to hold throw-up and that a gas station supplies everything needed to clean up after such an unfortunate incident:  paper towel, disinfectant spray, and air freshener (in addition to a whole role of free plastic shopping bags thanks to the grossed-out teenage clerk who saw Zach covered in upchuck).  Needless to say, after today's road trip, I am happy to be home.

The kids are already planning their next visit with Aunt Stephanie, Uncle Chris, and Drew.  I am excited for these four as they grow up together...I'm sure there will be many more memorable visits to come!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter 2013

In anticipation of Easter Sunday, as a family we continued our Resurrection Egg tradition.  Each evening during the week before Easter, we opened 1-2 eggs that held small objects to remind us of the Easter story.  Each egg also had a corresponding scripture reference attached that we (actually Allie read most of them this year!) read together.  This year, we also used our favorite children's Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, to help us focus on the true meaning of Easter.

By the end of the week, I was amazed at how much the kids retained.  Allie and Zach remembered most of the eggs and meanings from last year, but the whole experience was brand new to Olivia.  Regardless, she was also able to recount many details of the Easter story by the end of the week...including the cracker that symbolized the Passover Meal, the thorns (from our backyard rose bush) that remind us of Jesus' crown (or "hat" as Olivia put it), the brown shoelace that symbolized the whip that (in the word's of Olivia) "hurt Jesus," and the purple piece of paper that reminds us of the robe Jesus wore as the soldiers mocked him. 

We had some great conversations as a family throughout the week about what Jesus' death and resurrection means for something so horrendously unjust as the death of God's blameless son was in fact His plan from the very beginning of time to rescue us from sin.  By Easter Sunday, all three kids were excited to celebrate Jesus because HE IS ALIVE! 

Sunday morning was a bit crazy because I played flute with the worship team and sang in the choir at church, meaning I had to be awake, ready, and out of the house by 5:45 am for our final run-through before the three morning services.  Since absolutely no one else was awake when I left, Ben was on his own to get all three kids ready for church.  The only request I made was that he take a picture of them in their Easter outfits before they left.  Not only did he deliver on the photo, but he also made sure to curl the girls' hair and make sure Zach's bed head was tamed as well! 

Although I had a great time participating in worship at church, I was definitely tired after that third service and so incredibly thankful that my mom offered to host Easter at their house this year.  After the last service, I headed over to my parents' house where a full Easter meal of Beef Tenderloin, potatoes, veggies, mushrooms, salads, bread, and fresh fruit was waiting to be served.  For dessert, we indulged in the kids' Easter candy and cupcakes (carrot cake, red velvet, raspberry-almond, and chocolate). 

Since I didn't think to pack the kids' snow boots and it was pretty cold and blustery, we opted for an indoor Easter egg hunt this year.  Ben and I hid the eggs on the main level of the house while my parents kept them busy upstairs.  Before the hunt, I made sure to snap a few more pictures.

Then, the Easter egg hunt began!  Each kid had 10 specific eggs just for them (filled with Tinker Bell Squinkies for Allie, Disney Animal Squinkies for Olivia, Toy Story Squinkies and small Disney marble Cars for Zach) labeled with the initial corresponding to their first name, and the rest of the eggs were fair game (filled with all sorts of candy).  There were eggs hidden in baskets, candy dishes, on bookshelves, under tables, on top of pictures, on the refrigerator, and in the chandelier (just to name a few places). 

After all the eggs were found, the kids had fun sorting through their toys and consuming far too much candy.

Then, after the sugar-high subsided, we all crashed.  And by crashed, I mean as Ben gave the kids baths and showers at home at 7:00 pm, I actually fell asleep on the couch. 

Then somehow, when all three kids were squeaky clean (and apparently still reeling from their sugar-highs...probably because we let them eat leftover cupcakes for dinner), they managed to climb up on the couch, nestle underneath my blanket, and in between slobbery kisses and full-body-tackle-like hugs, they proclaimed they were helping me rest.....

Only half awake and laughing uncontrollably, I was reminded of just how much I love my blessed I am by my family, my husband and undeserved it all is....and how very thankful I am for the sacrifice Jesus made so that by God's grace I can experience joy, life, and freedom to the fullest---now and forever.