Sunday, January 31, 2016

Time to Exit the Ride

I'm pretty sure I'm getting too used to this time off thing. I was supposed to be on vacation from work this entire past week, but for a variety of reasons, I worked on Monday and Tuesday.  Working those two days allowed me to enjoy Wed-Fri without checking in on work, whatsoever, so, it was worth it in the end!

I did manage to knock off quite a few things on my to-do list, plus, I enjoyed a 90 minute massage, had lunch with a few friends, and even managed to cook dinner on Friday night. That right there is a shocker. Generally, by the time I get home from work, it's way too late for me to make dinner, so Scott always manages that task. Based on her reaction when she saw me in the kitchen, I'm certain Ava thinks that I don't know how to cook. I should probably change that perception...

Ava had a super week as the Star Student in her class. We practiced having her read aloud to us, as she needed to read a favorite book to her class...it sounds like she did a fantastic job, and loved having this week be all about her!

G didn't have as good of a week...he was sick from Wednesday on (thank goodness for Grandma Deb...she watched him so I could still get my massage), so we've had a lot of cuddle times over the last several days.  I think he's finally managed to kick whatever has been ailing him. Poor little guy.

Ava decided these two are the guard dogs in G's room - I think they were just staying out of the way.


Yesterday was a fun family day...Scott took the day off from his side jobs, so we had the whole family home, all day!  We met up with my parents for the best tacos ever at the VFW, and then we decided to add a brand new tv to our family. For some reason our current tv never hooked up to the Internet once we moved to this house, so we haven't been able to use all of the smart features.  This time we went with a 65" curved screen, and it connected without any issues! The biggest thing that floors me is how we barely have any wired connections to our tv...just one for the cable and one for the blu-ray...everything else is wireless. It made the set up so easy!

Totally relaxed...eating popcorn, watching a movie on the new tv...


We also had an unexpected overnight guest for Ava last night...one of her neighborhood friends showed up in the late afternoon, and ended up spending the night. I have a feeling there are going to be two tired little girls today!  They both seemed to have a lot of fun, and that's what matters!

January was a bit like a roller coaster, but I do believe that things have settled down a bit.  2016 is underway, and I like where things are heading!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bits and Pieces of Time

I had a very strange schedule this week, which made the time go by super fast, yet, by the end of the week, it felt like it was ten days long.  My time was chunked into pieces, and everything felt very distorted. All I know is that today is my day to do nothing but enjoy my time at home...no errands, no commitments, nothing. Just an unstructured day.  I need it.

After working a full day this past Monday, I thought it would be fun to hop on a plane to NYC. To add to the enjoyment, I decided that's there's no better way to travel than in the last row of the plane, where seats don't recline, and windows don't exist. Who needs windows when it's a bumpy flight, and you have no idea how close you are to the ground?  Not this girl!  (Hahaha...I hate flying.) 

Once I landed in NY, I had the joy of standing in the cold (it was SO cold, the wind was brutal!) waiting for a cab. I did end up getting a super nice cabbie for my commute to the hotel. Thank goodness he was nice, as all three of my credit cards were declined when I was trying to pay for my cab ride...trust me, I have no issues with my cards. It was just another battle to face at midnight on Monday. But, nice cab guy took me to the closest ATM and even knocked off part of his fare to make it easier to pay in cash.  My hotel was a welcome site and I got to bed at 1:30am.  Side note: my cards were fine for the rest of the trip...

We had a fantastic meeting on Tuesday (seriously...even though I fought going on this trip, it ended up being a worthwhile excursion,) and then had a really nice dinner out with my coworker, before catching a late flight back to Minny. I was wise this time and spent some of my own money to upgrade to a Premium seat.  Brilliant, I thought my flying luck had changed!  Wrong.  Dude in front me of leaned his seat back the entire flight (actually hit my head as he was reclining), played his music so loud it's the only thing I could hear on the flight, and then proceeded to jump over the seats in front of him so he could deplane before his row (the 5th row, for ridiculous perspective.)  I do believe my jaw dropped on that last one.

Good morning NYC! 


The fountains at the 9/11 Memorial Museum...I didn't have the time or the emotional capacity to tour it at that time.


The new World Trade Center

But, Ava met me at the door at 11:45pm on Tuesday night, and welcomed me home, so it the day ended on a positive note.  It was a rough 24 hours that I don't want to repeat anytime soon.

I took a half day on Wednesday to recover, and prepare myself for a 7am dentist visit for both kids on Thursday.  Ava did great - no cavities and three loose teeth!! It's a good thing that she's a pro at the dentist, as this was G's first visit, and he wasn't having any of it, so I had to focus all of my attention on him.  I had to sit in the chair with him and pin his arms down, so they could do a quick count of his teeth, and apply a fluoride treatment.  His teeth also look good, but we need to work on stopping the thumb sucking...not sure how to do that?

Yesterday afternoon/night I headed off to Wisconsin with a friend to partake in a birthday celebration.  It was an hour drive, but so worth it! We did a tour of the 45th Parallel Distillery. We had no idea what that meant...I've done several brewery and vineyard tours, and now I can say that we've learned how spirits are made.  And we tasted ten different kinds...vodkas, aquavits, whiskeys, and cellos...the cellos (lemon and orange) were definitely my favorites!  We capped the night with a yummy dinner, more drinks and games, and then made the long drive back last night.  But, I slept in until 8 today, so I'm feeling good!

At the tour...with the booze!  Steve, the tour guide on the right, did a fantastic job!


Happy 29th, Grace!

Ava had a great week...she didn't have school on Monday and Friday, and she was able to go roller skating and then make a tie dye bag through the school release program. She had a blast! Plus, she was awarded Student of the Month in December and was chosen as Star Student for this coming week...we're working on her "presentation" today!  We're so pleased with how well she's doing in school this year...she's not getting into trouble at all, thank goodness!

Ok, time to enjoy my day with no commitments...except to watch football and spend it with my family! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Magical Game Day Bunny

I often feel like I have a checklist of things to do for Ava's school and G's daycare...this week we had to take a family picture and find shoes for Ava to donate (school wide competition on which classroom could collect the most pair of shoes for donation...at last count, Ava's class had 70 pairs.  Pretty impressive!)

I always start the day off with good intentions, and have a running list in my mind of everything we need to accomplish that day, but by the time I get home at night, that list is often out the window, and all I have energy for is eating dinner, getting the kids ready for bed, and then crashing on the couch.  But on Thursday, I realized we had run out of time for the family pic, so we all squished onto the couch after dinner and said cheese!  Kind of.  It was really hard to get a decent pic of all of us, and the look on Ava's face made me laugh in this one.  We all look exhausted!




G was home sick one day this week...he had a fever and a cough, and just wasn't acting like himself.  He's doing better now (still not 100%)...I'm sure it's because of the love and attention that Grandma Karen paid to him when he was home from daycare during the day.  Thanks for watching him, Grandma K! :)

It's important to match your food to your utensils.



Yesterday was cold.  Like, really, really cold.  So, of course Ava came downstairs dressed in a skirt and short sleeve shirt...with all sort of accessories.  She called this look "the Magical Game Day Bunny"...pretty interesting since I don't think she knew there were some important football games yesterday.  She can dress however she'd like today if it helps the Broncos win the game against the Steelers!  I wonder if we have a horse-ear headband stashed away in her dress-up clothes somewhere...



Just to mix things up a bit, we met up with some friends last night for dinner.  They're on a plane to Mexico right now (we decided not to go this year) and were staying right by the airport, so it was easy, in theory, to get together.  Much like we had movie theater issues last Saturday night, we had serious parking lot issues last night.  We circled the parking lot at their hotel for at least 15 minutes, and there was no place to park!  Thank goodness everyone is flexible, so we changed the plans and went to Friday's for dinner instead. 

I ran into a lady in the restaurant bathroom who had her son (3 years, maybe?) with her, and as he was walking out of the stall, his pants completely fell off.  She sighed heavily, and at that moment, we totally bonded.  I said "It's exhausting, isn't it?" to which she replied "I'm so ready for bed."  It was 8pm on a Saturday night.  This is the life of a mom with young kids!

Dee and Tiff - and crazy G!


Scott, Darren...and G!  That kid gets around.


Isabel, Ava and Evy...entranced by the phone...


Scott and my dad are headed off to the Sportsman's Show in St Paul today, so the kids and I are going to hang out at home, where it's warm, and hopefully Grandma K will come over to keep us company!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Little Shadow

Each stage of Ava and G's relationship has been so different.  She was such a protective big sister when he was a little newborn...always wanting to hold him, and help take care of him (except for the diapers - that was a NO GO from her before he was even born.)  When he became a little more mobile, she played gently with him, and looked for age-appropriate ways to entertain him.  And now that he's running, talking, counting, laughing at her jokes, poking at her, and basically being her little shadow, she's upped her game a bit.  She loves to read to him, watch Mickey Mouse with him, and even introduced him to watching CookieSwirlC (don't ask) when she has control of the iPad.

In one word, she is amazing with her little brother.  And she very rarely exhibits any jealousy, which I think is incredible.  I'm really excited to see how their relationship grows and changes - I hope it remains strong.

Watching TV together, while also playing with G's drumsticks


Tucked in the corner by our desk...and totally entranced with whatever is playing on the iPad!


Ava drew the cutest little card for G. Personally, I like that he's either cute and nice, or funny and fun - but not both!


If you're familiar with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, you'll know who Tootles is (the thing on the right.)  Mickey and Minnie are depicted, as well.  I'm excited that Minnie got her ears pierced and is wearing some crazy dangle earrings.  Ava took so much time drawing this for G, knowing how much he loves these guys!


On a non-kid related note, Scott and I had date night last night.  Both kids were with Grandma Deb and Grandpa Whitey for the evening, while Scott and I had an adult-only dinner out.  It was SO nice to be able to eat a warm meal with my husband, and have the time to focus on our conversation, without little hands and voices interrupting us.

Our big plan was to go to a movie after dinner, but when we showed up at the theater, it was absolute chaos.  Like, insane.  There were people everywhere, no orderly lines (a big blob of people instead), and shows were getting sold out, right and left.  We bailed on that theater and decided to check out the one closer to home.  It was NOT chaotic, and there were short lines, but the movie we wanted to see was sold out.  Huh?  It's been out for several weeks and there are other movies out that have been way more hyped up (um, Star Wars?!)  So, we gave up on our sad movie dream, and then laughed bitterly at the DJ on the radio when he said, "It's a cold night, no one's out doing anything."  Wrong, Mr. DJ.

I was pretty bummed about not getting to see a movie, and didn't really feel like sitting at a bar, so we went home and watched a movie on demand.  And both of us stayed awake for the entire thing!!  That is HUGE!  It was a riveting movie, which made it easier not to fall asleep, but dang, I am so proud of us! In the end, date night was a success!  We're also going to try to make a point of at least once a month, after the kids go to bed, playing a game, or work on a puzzle, or something, just so we don't sit down and always fall asleep watching TV.

I came home on Thursday night, and Scott was making a wonderful dinner, which included a modified Greek salad (my favorite.)  And this lovely glass of red wine...you may notice it's right next to a bottle of red wine vinegar (for the salad), so I did question him on the contents of the glass...is it wine, or is it vinegar?  All I got was a shrug and a smile. 

Definitely red wine!


Ava has a busy social calendar today...after I pick her up from one set of grandparents, she's going to have dinner with the other set.  She's going to enjoy my family's traditional German butterball soup, and Grandma Karen made her promise not to sneak any back to me.  Boooo!  Ava made it clear she wasn't going to put any in her pocket.  We'll see if I can bribe her to bring some back to me...

The company I work at has a focus on wellness (treadmill walking rooms, monthly incentives to go the gym, using FitBits, etc.)  We are going to be starting a new challenge tomorrow regarding steps accrued over the next 12 weeks.  I opted for the highest goal (1 million steps in 12 weeks) and also registered for a 7K in March.  I'm excited to have a more healthy year...we're going to be eating better, getting more exercise, and drinking more water (which is the hardest thing for me to accomplish...water is so blah.)  Our treadmill at home is getting lots of action lately...the house is quiet before the kids get up, so it's perfect time for me to log some steps.  Once the weather gets warmer, I want to take advantage of all of the great trails around here, and even check out the clubhouse in our neighborhood - lots of equipment to use, and it's included in our monthly association fees, so why not?  AND, I think we'll be focusing on bike riding this spring/summer as well.  I can't wait!

The next few months at work are going to be tough, so it will be nice to have a positive goal to focus on during that time!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016: Divisible by Four

Well, this is it...the last day of my vacation. I have officially forgotten what it feels like to go to work.  Or to wake up to an alarm. Or drive during rush hour. Should be a rude awakening (literally) tomorrow morning.

What a busy week this was...I got lots of stuff done on my to-do list. There were items that had been lingering there for a while, and being able to check them off that list was an incredible feeling! No worries, though, the list has been filled up with brand new tasks...it looks like I'll need to take some more time off soon to work through those (good thing I have another week off at the end of January!)

While I was off being productive, the kids had a great first half of the week. Ava went bowling, to the Mill City Museum, and to The Works with the Y group, and G continued to practice counting, learning his colors, and sharing nicely with others.

Love that quality mommy-son time!


And then we all packed up and headed south to ring in the new year with our very dear friends. We've been celebrating NY with them for the last 10+ years...the location may change, but we're always together!

Although there was food, there was also really, REALLY strong Jell-O shots. These were made with 99 proof booze, and absolutely burned as they went down. Sometimes, they didn't go down all the way, though...And they just kept multiplying...when we thought we were near the end, more would appear on the tray...


Nicely posed - you wouldn't believe what it took to get this pic


So much fun, with lots of laughing...the best way to end 2015!


Tiff putting on her responsible mom hat (figuratively...the literal hat was already taken) to talk to her daughter for a moment.  Love this with the shot in hand!


Friends forever!


Tiff and I stayed up until 4am chatting, and I didn't fall asleep once during the chat! Many people were proud of that achievement. Let's just say the next day was a bit tricky, and I was napping in my pjs by 8:30pm.

Ava and the other little girls stayed up to see 2016 arrive, and then we hustled them off to bed.  We noticed that this was the first time they all played really well together...they hung out in a fort, watched movies, and there was absolutely no fighting. Once G went to bed, we were able to have true adult conversation, without being interrupted a million times by bickering little girls.  Amazing!  It gave us a glimpse of what it means to have older, more independent children...

2016 started off with a beautiful morning on the farm


On Friday night, we had a yummy pizza dinner out, and a happy trip to Best Buy...we got a new sound bar, and the kids each got to pick out a new movie. Ava's been obsessed with the Home Alone movies lately, so we've added a little bit of Kevin into our movie collection.  And we have some new "Mi Mou" (MEE-mow, in the event you converse with G about this) to help with his addiction to the famous mouse and his friends.  We made popcorn when we got home and snuggled in for a great family night! Pretty sure Ava was the only one who saw her entire movie, since this was the night after NYE...

We celebrated our last Christmas yesterday, with Scott's mom, step dad, and brother. G was excited to give people "their" gifts, and it didn't really matter that he was actually giving away all of his gifts to open! It was a wonderful afternoon/evening spent with family.  I just realized our kitchen hasn't been used much lately, since everyone keeps feeding us!

G loves his little Mickey Mouse couch!


Loving Elmo!


Taking a break from opening a gift...


Near the end of the night G was using the couch as a gymnastics mat to flip onto and roll off of


I'm thinking about what I can knock off the list for today...G is looking pretty shaggy, so we're going in for a haircut this morning.  And I'm sure I'll find other things to do to fill my time before heading back to work tomorrow!