Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Great White North

Garret and I had the last of our Toddler and Me classes this past week.  The learning discussion was on tantrums...how we react to them, how to handle them, what calms them down, etc.  I thought that G was going to have his usual 7pm meltdown at class, so I could practice what I learned, but to my surprise, he was very well behaved and sat on my lap during the last 15 minutes of class...until he threw a plastic duck at the girl sitting next to us.  Sigh.

My week was pretty busy getting ready to head out of the country. On Friday, I told Ava that she needed to help take care of Daddy while I was gone.  She gave me a really funny look and said, "Isn't he supposed to take care of us?"  Scott will have no problems taking care of the kids while I'm gone...it's all the small things, like remembering to pack her lunch, getting her dressed in the right, required outfits for Summer Power, paying daycare, etc., that he needs help with.  He even told Ava that she needed to help remind him about those things.  Tough luck, kid, you're not off the hook for helping!

Emilie and I had a great flight to Montreal...first class is the way to go! Wine, food, and a free movie (I choose Lucy, and was just 10 minutes short of the end, when the wifi was cut due to the descent...10 minutes!  And it's a pretty intense movie!!)

I'm pretty sure we walked the entire airport just to get outside...and it was really empty. Like, we walked for 10 minutes, and saw only a handful of people from our flight. At one point, we were talking to the guy behind us, and he disappeared, mid-sentence! Creepy!  And, I thought our northern neighbors were supposed to be friendly...the immigration agents that Em and I had were both very intense. Thank God I had been paying attention to what we were planning on doing while here! Em's lady wasn't satisfied when Emilie said we were going to go shopping, to the spa, and do touristy things...she wanted more details. And then when she asked who she was there with, and couldn't see me, she got snappy with her. Yikes!

Regardless, we were finally allowed to enter the country, and have had a very pleasant time since then. We have an amazing room at the hotel...it's on the top floor, which doesn't even exist on the hotel map (don't worry, Mom, I scoped out the fire escape route!) It has vaulted ceilings, and a HUGE private terrace (20x20) that we share with just one other room. We've spent a lot of time out there, relaxing and chatting in the sun.

We did finally venture onto Rue Sainte Catherine, which is a street well-known for shopping, people-watching, etc. I've been doing my best to help increase the power of the Canadian dollar. You're welcome, Canada

We have a very loose itinerary for our time here...hop-on/hop-off tour of the city, going to Old Montreal, checking out a spa, more shopping, more eating, etc...and whatever else pops up. Looking forward to the next several days of adventures!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Closer, But Not Really

Last weekend, we went out of town to visit our good friends, the Winfields, who used to live south of the cities.  Recently, they moved west of the cities, and even though the mileage is shorter, we have to drive through many small towns, which means the speed limit is constantly changing.  So, while they're physically closer, it still takes us over an hour to get there.  Maybe one of these days we'll be able to start up our Wednesday night dinners again with them! :)

Regardless of the distance, we always have a great time when we're with them...and the kids got along pretty well.  The only time they kids started fighting was when it was late, and Ava and Isabel couldn't agree on where to put their feet in the bed they were sharing.  Easy to resolve!  We noticed both Ava and Isabel are getting to that sassy stage where there's a lot more attitude and exclusivity.  We had to remind them to include the younger kids while they were playing, not to exclude the boys, etc...

But, really it was a blast!  Even better is that our other friends, the Nelsons, showed up (they live maybe 20 min away from Darren and Tiff now), so it was a full house, with lots of catching up to do.  Even G did pretty well...he tried to keep up with the older kids, but honestly, as long as he had some type of ball to play with, he was a happy camper.  Over the last week, he's learned the fast trick to sliding down the stairs to get to the bottom - I blame the older kids for teaching him that! ;)

On our way!


They have an amazing view from their deck...their property is over an acre, and if you look closely, you can see the lake poking through the trees to the right of the light colored house.  And there is such beautiful landscaping at their new house...they found and purchased a winner with this property!!

Ava and Evy burning off some energy


"Ball!"


G and I started a "Toddler and Me" class two weeks ago, so this past Wednesday was our 2nd night.  He has done pretty well each time (no biting, decent sharing, limited crying) but as soon as 7pm comes around, he hits his wall.  He's fascinated by the kid-sized sink they have in the room (takes place at an awesome new facility: Dakota Valley Learning Center) and it's hard to pry him away.  The teachers finally told me that we could leave around 7 if he was just done for the night...but we stuck it out.  I just had to distract him from the sink!

I'm having a good time watching the other kids, seeing where G is at in his development, and learning what we can do to encourage his learning.  You'd think this is old hat for us, but since we're not experiencing the "first time newness", it allows us to focus on what we can do differently than what we did with Ava.  The biggest thing that I'm trying to do is not say NO as much, but try to direct or offer an alternative.  He still doesn't like it, but it's not as negative. 

On Friday, Ava, G and I headed over to our old neighbor's new house (still in Rosemount) to have a playdate...fun, but total chaos!  12 kids and 4 adults...wow!  The house is beautiful, and it was good to catch up with this group of friends.  Once we got home, though, it was time for a break...G went down for a nap, Ava went to her room to play for a bit, and I hung out on the deck with a new cooking magazine.  Totally relaxing, and a great way to spend a Friday off of work.

Did I mention we also ate breakfast out on the deck that morning?



Friday night we had severe storms, and we're debating bringing down another tree in the backyard...it's a 30' cottonwood, and you can move the whole tree at the base.  The ground opened up about an inch, and it's leaning at a 40 degree angle into the neighbor's yard.  We think the next big windstorm will bring the whole thing down.  Our neighbor's boulevard tree snapped in half, but it was a sick tree, so not surprising it didn't make it. We didn't lose power, like many people in the cities, so I'm thankful for that.

And then there was Saturday.  The busiest day of the summer, so far.  5 birthday parties, 1 Norwex party, and 1 evening out with neighbors.  Ava skipped two of the birthday parties, and went to the one for her classmate.  When I dropped her off for the party (at a Lifetime) I had G with me.  The area was right next to the gym, where kids were playing basketball.  G had a meltdown when he realized we were leaving and he wasn't getting to play b-ball with the older kids. He threw a little ball at me while I was shutting his car door, he was so mad!  Hello Terrible Twos - you're a bit early! 

We have a round, metal decoration on our wall in the hallway, and it must look like a basketball hoop to G.  Yesterday, he kept trying to throw a ball up at it, like he was trying to make a basket.  Guess what we're going to buy for him...the Little Tykes basketball hoop setup.  He's going to love it!

Anyway, Ava had a great time at the party, I had a good time ordering Norwex (if I only had more time to clean...) and then the kids stayed with Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey, and Scott and I headed out for dinner with the neighbors and their friends.  We enjoyed good drinks, food, and company at I Nonni (Italian) just south of St Paul.  By a crazy twist of fate, we ended up having a private dinner in their wine cellar, which was a unique (and fun) experience.  It was great to get out, adults only, and meet new people...the conversation flowed well, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend the evening.  We were both so tired that we opted to come home, instead of going to the comedy club with the group, or go to another bar for drinks.  Good choice, as we were both sleeping by 10:30!

Enjoying an Amalfitini!


Saturday was also Grandpa Doug's birthday, so we're wishing him a happy start to his new year!!!  We managed to get in a quick chat to see how he was going to spend his special day.  All I know is that it involved eating an egg. :)

Today will be another busy day, getting ready for the week ahead.  But, for now, it's been a peaceful morning...just me, my coffee, and the laptop.  Scott's already out working on a truck, the dogs are snoozing, and the only outside noise is the neighbor working on his fence.  Works for me!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July...You're Finally Here!

The month of Hell is officially over.  I survived, but barely.  All three of my projects launched successfully in the last two weeks of June, and now I can scale back my work hours to those of a normal human, and not a workaholic robot.

This has been a fantastic 4th of July weekend....we've had a (literal) blast with friends, family, and fireworks!  After I left work on time on Thursday (hooray), Ava called her little friend in the neighborhood, and I walked her over to her house for a fun playdate, complete with trampolines, and a gaggle of other 2nd grade girls.  Back at our homestead, after G went to bed, Scott and I headed over to the neighbor's house for an adult evening of drinks and a bonfire.  Someone in the 'hood was setting off those floating lanterns, so it became a game to see who could spot the next one.  It was a GREAT way to start of the long weekend!

Bringing Annie on her playdate...



The next day started off bright and early with chainsaws and augers.  It is a darn good thing no one wanted to sleep in on Friday, as our little island of houses was a noisy one.  Scott has been talking about cutting down some of the trees in our backyard, so he finally had a chance.  And the neighbors decided to take down a few of their trees, as well, so it became a party!  A total of 5 trees came down, but the hardest part was removing the stumps.  There are still a few left to remove, but after working on this project for hours on end, it was time to stop and have a beer.  Or two.  And then head over to the "new" (been here since last August) neighbors to help them with the fence they are putting up (that was the auger part of the morning...had to dig holes for the fence posts!)  I got to hang out with my neighbor, her mom, and all of the kids...and it was relaxing!

G and LP are interacting more, so it's pretty cute to see them together.  LP is only 7 months older than G, and they are going to be T-R-O-U-B-L-E!


Cooling off with freezies...


That afternoon, Ava and I headed to the pool to meet up with Emily and her family.  Without G, I was free to sit by the side of the pool, and keep a close eye on Ava in the water.  I even had a chance to finish a magazine...what??  That never happens! It was perfect weather to be outside, and to dip into the pool once in a while.

We had a nice dinner out as a family that night, although, someone must be creeping up on the terrible twos because, man, there was a massive meltdown brewing.  And food throwing.  And tears flowing.  The best part is that there was a table behind us with a girl just a bit older than G, and I heard her parents thank her for being such a good little girl.  Sigh.  Oh well.  At least he's cute!

Saturday was a day full of running errands (like 5 hours of running for me and Ava...Scott and G bailed after 3 hours...but, we did see Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey at Menards, so that was bonus.) Then another few hours in the afternoon watching Scott help with the fence, and chatting with the neighbors while the kids played in the sprinkler.  Pretty darn great.  We purchased a new fire pit yesterday, so we invited people over for s'mores and a fireworks show.  Although, some of the fireworks were duds, so it was more of a guessing game on what was going to happen when they were lit.  The "new" neighbors also came over, and Amanda and I scouted out the perfect location to watch the Apple Valley fireworks, without leaving the neighborhood, and having to fight with traffic.  Not kidding...that's what we're going to do next year.  Why fight with traffic for an hour, when we can see it perfectly in a three-minute walk from our house?!

And today is another new day...we'll be finishing up some projects, and spending more time together as a family.  I think we will all be refreshed for the new week to start tomorrow.  And I haven't looked at my work email/laptop since Thursday - and it feels GREAT! :)

A few random pics from earlier in the summer:

Having fun with the pool and sprinkler...and drinking from a shovel!




A nice little surprise I found on my car door one day...and then again the next day...


Because I've been so busy at work, I didn't have a lot of time to plan anything fun for Ava's birthday, so two co-workers surprised me with a birthday-in-a-box for Ava.  She LOVED it!!  

Although, G hated the balloon...like tears and shaking.  It stays safely tucked away in Ava's room now...




Happy Birthday, America - we've had a great time celebrating YOU!