Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Carnival

Last weekend, pre-appendicitis, we spent the morning at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.  I used to go to this a lot with my aunt and Grandma and I always enjoyed it and I thought our kids might too.  So, after swimming lessons we piled in the car and make the trek to St. Paul to check things out.  It’s not really a trek, but anything longer than 10 minutes in the car seems like forever to Riley. 

It was a beautiful day out but each kid in our car was grumbling about my idea of fun.  Fortunately, right before we turned into our parking ramp Riley spotted some ponies and her day was looking up!

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Ellie also joined in on the horse action.  After all, the girls have been checking out horse books from the library because they decided that instead of opening up a cupcake shop when they’re adults, they are instead going to run a horse farm and give rides to kids.  So, in the name of research, Ellie decided to also get a ride.

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Once we were done horsin’ around we headed over to the sculptures.  They were just finishing up a couple of them, and the sun was not helping any of them.  Inside the sculpture garden we found the Ice Slide that was advertised….quite a bit smaller than I envisioned, but the kids tried it out many times, none the less.

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Down the slide into a pile of mud.  Nice.

And Austin found a nice place to practice his Gallum impersonation. 

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We found an ice stage where I intended to get a nice picture of my kids, but instead received this:

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But, there was King Borealis’ throne inside the sculpture garden and we did manage one normal picture, under Austin’s protests.

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As for the actual sculptures, this was my favorite:

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And about 10 minutes after we took this picture, it collapsed.  The sun ruined a couple pieces while we were there.  That’s the judge in the background so it was scored just in the knick of time!  I’ve been trying to find out the results with no success.

We had a fun afternoon after all and the kids declared I may know a thing or two about planning fun activities.  I’m sure they’ll promptly forget that the next time I suggest something.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Didn’t see that coming!

No school (again) this past Monday so we enjoyed our day off.  I took the kids to Edinborough park:

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(That’s not Austin in the picture).  I’m not sure where they are in the picture, but they’re in there somewhere.  We met our neighbor friends there and spent a little over 2 hours running through the park and gym.  Well, they ran, I observed.

Then it was home for lunch and some more playing.  Overall, a typical day off.  Come the evening everyone seemed a little tired and Austin complained of a stomach ache, but I figured that was to be expected since we had a full day and the threat of school the next day sometimes leaves the kids with mysterious ailments.

That night/morning, Austin came in our room at 3am complaining that his stomach still hurt and he felt like he had to “go” but couldn’t.  I let him rest with me for a bit and then sent him back to his room at 4am with the promise of lots of fiber with his breakfast.  At 7am he came back in wondering if he could have that fiber yet.  Meanwhile the girls both got ready for school and I told Austin he could stay home with me until he got the job done since he seemed to be in a bit of pain and I figured he wouldn’t be able to concentrate at school anyway and he’d probably end up at the nurse, and frankly, I’m tired of hearing from the nurse.  Anyway, so he stayed, the girls went.  Then he “went” and I asked if he was feeling better and he said he was but that he was tired.  I told him he could take a nap for a bit and then I’d take him to school.  But, he slept for a long time.  By the time he was awake there wasn’t much point in him going to school. 

When the girls got back home I was looking at Austin who was hunched over on the counter and thought he looked like he was maybe a little sick after all so I took his temp and he did have a mild fever.  I told him to go rest on the couch and he walked to the couch hunched over like an old man.  I got the girls started on homework and then thought….hmmm….stomach ache, fever, no appetite.  And his pain was worse when he moved.  I asked him where his stomach hurt and it was his lower right side.  I pushed on his side a bit and he confirmed with his wincing that I hit the target.

I ended up sending the girls to a neighbors and Austin and I headed to the ER.  They took him straight back, did an ultrasound, confirmed appendicitis and prepped him for surgery.  We got to the ER at 4:45ish and his surgery was at 6:30…pretty quick I thought.  He did great and was in his hospital room feeling MUCH better by 8:30 that evening. 

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After Rob left I got him all cozied up for bedtime but all that sleep during the day left him wide awake!  He asked the nurse at 11pm if he could have some crackers and broth.  A little (almost) midnight snack while he watched TV.  Finally around 11:30 I told him we had to go to sleep.  Only to be woken up by the changing of nurses at midnight, and then again every hour on the hour (for me).  Austin slept well, ordered breakfast in the morning (he woke up at 5:30!) and deemed the whole experience “kind of fun”.  He enjoyed being waited on, thought his bed was kind of comfy, and thought watching TV with me all day was entertaining.  The surgeon came to see him around 9:15 and said we could go home.  The nurse said she’d just print the papers and we’d be on our way.  At 11:15 we were still there.  Apparently the surgeon forgot to actually electronically sign off on it all and she got busy with other things.  I hate hospital checkouts….they never go as fast as I think she should.

Austin got on the couch and got right to work on some of the “get well” gifts that he received.

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We laid around most of the day.  He got his appetite back too.

He is going to stay home with me the rest of the week. Though I think by tomorrow he’d probably be ready to go back.  To his dismay, his teacher sent home enough homework to keep him busy  for a week.  I guess it’s nice to know how much they accomplish in 4 days of school.  He’ll work through it but we might have to stop for some lego building and movies here and there.  It’s not everyday I get one on one time with this guy.

I think Rob is happy to not be in charge of the mornings.  He was a little nervous about doing the girls’ hair but I assured him he could just comb it and they’d be fine.  The girls came home and informed him “You gave me too much food in my lunch, and you put both lunch boxes in my bag so I had to run to Riley’s classroom in the morning, and I didn’t get my binder in my bag…..”.  He said “But your hair was combed!”

We’re happy Austin is doing great and we only had a hiccup in our routines for one night.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Recruiting New Members

Wednesday I did my best to recruit a new member to my cross-country ski team. 

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She’s smiling in the picture so that’s a good sign I think.  But, following our loop she did admit she was undecided about her membership to my exclusive club.  We exchanged her skis (which were longer than mine) for a shorter version to see if that improved her glide, and I think it did.  I’m hoping after another loop with shorter skis she will be ready to commit.  I think our first club action should be to ditch the downhill ski attire for sleek looking ski tights and cute hats.  If nothing else, we’ll look like we know what we’re doing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can’t stop staring

At my pantry!  I know it’s not polite, but come on over, I won’t judge.  I’m that excited about it.

My pantry is actually pretty large, I think.  I probably think that because growing up we had a cupboard(s) and now I have a whole closet devoted to food storage.  For the better part of 9 years (with a couple weeks here and there of cleanliness) the pantry has been a bit of a catch-all.  All of the kids’ craft items are stored there, some small appliances, the majority of our board games (and we LOVE games), and anything else that didn’t seem to have a proper home. 

Like I said, there have been a few times that I have cleared it all out, and put it all back in and it has stayed nice for a week but old habits die hard and it’d be it’s messy self within 14 days.  This time I enlisted help.  From both my bank and Kerry.  If you read Kerry’s blog…or know her at all, you know she is a bit of an organization freak devotee.  She volunteered to help me. It was probably giving her heart palpitations every time she saw the inside!  I tried to just tackle it on my own.  I went to Target and bought some cute wooden crates with chalkboards on them and labeled a few things, and it got me here:

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Which was a giant improvement (yes, that is improved).  But, I knew it wasn’t complete and I needed someone to kick my butt in gear so I accepted her offer and last Friday we spent four hours fixing the eyesore.  She instructed me to remove everything.  Then while I was cleaning off the shelves she walked around and grouped things into categories.  Then I had to go through each category and get rid of things I didn’t need (or know when I purchased…gross).  The amount of crafty items I pulled out of there for the kids was insane.  I bet Kerry secretly took pictures of the piles and sent them to Mike with an “eek” smiley face.  Because I would…and more often than not, we’re one and the same.  Anyway, so after sorting, the fun began and we headed to the container store and I practiced Rob’s technique of purchasing what I needed without looking at the price.  That’s hard for me, but I did it!

And I’m happy to report our results:

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I love it.  And it’s been almost a week and it’s still clean.  I may or may not have threatened each person in our house about placing things back where they belong, but I’m not above that.  It is working.

I think my favorite addition is the lazy susan in each corner.  I still have one more to buy and one more soup can holder to buy, but otherwise it’s done.  I think Rob’s favorite part is my labeling, or more so, my choice for words.  I have a bin labeled “Indulgent Snacks” not to be confused with “Snacks”.  The difference is that the kids can eat of the snack bins.  My precious chocolates and treats that they will not enjoy any more or less than an M&M are in the “indulgent” bin.  Plus, it makes me feel like I shouldn’t eat too many of them.  It’s a nutrition program AND a pantry!

If you have any questions, please contact my designer, Kerry.  (Thanks Kerry!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sunday Funday

One of the games we received with the Xbox was Sports Rivals.  With this game, we can challenge each other to bowling, tennis, soccer, rock climbing and a few other sports.  The Xbox uses the Kinect sensor to watch everyone’s movements and that is how you control the game.  So, in bowling, you pretend to grab the ball, hold it in front of you, and make the normal bowling movements.  It makes the ball roll down the lane depending on how fast you moved, whether or not you twisted your hand to spin it, etc.  It obviously has some flaws, but for the most part it’s fun and decently accurate.  Anyway, we have been having a few bowling challenges since Christmas and this past Sunday we decided to head to the lanes to try the real thing.

Apparently Sunday is $1 bowling in Shakopee until noon.  We found the place rather full, but they did have a lane open for us.  We all got suited up with our fancy shoes and picked out our balls. 

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The kids each grabbed a 6 pounder from behind the desk.  Ellie was extremely disappointed that the 6 pound balls were all “puke green” instead of the beautiful hot pinks she saw everyone else selecting.  She was able to eventually look past that and enjoy her game.

Austin was particularly grumbly about our bowling adventure.  Though he will never admit it, he is quite competitive and wants to be good at everything he tries upon his first attempt.  This makes trying new things very much not fun for him.  He was happy to see that all the kids could use bumpers, that helped tremendously.  He started to get the hang of it once he decided to not “play it cool”.  For awhile he was trying to pool with one hand in his pocket.  It was not pretty.  Eventually we got to this:

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And he did get one or two balls down the entire lane without hitting a bumper.  The girls did not.  But, they had a blast from the start.  None of them wanted to “granny roll” the ball down the lane and we were concerned a couple of the balls were never going to make it all the way down, but they all eventually did.

We did learn an interesting tidbit though.  Apparently, recovering Achilles tendon patients are not good bowlers.  Now we know.  I told Rob he might have been better off learning to bowl with his left hand, thereby making his right foot the last step in the sequence, which could then hold all his weight instead of his left.  He did not attempt this.

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Here’s our scores, top to bottom is: Ellie, Riley, Austin, Rob, Me.  To be fair to Rob, the kids did have bumpers and he did not.  Maybe we will put them up for him next time.  And the girls have already requested a “next time”.  I think Ellie was impressed with the bowling lane food selection.  It’s all right up her “alley”!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Super Quick Christmas Review

Since I’m already getting behind on the blog again, here is the abridged version of our Christmas festivities:

We started off the weekend before Christmas with the Smith Family Christmas at my parents house.  With enough food and alcohol to last us at least a week it always promises to be a good time.  Kerry and Maddie started us off with a piano duet.  Apparently, until this actual performance, they had never made it from start to finish.  You would never know as they made it seem effortless.  It was an awesome arrangement of Sleigh Ride. I wish I had a video instead of a picture, but nonetheless:

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After the performance we started binge eating which extremely quickly led us to this:

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and this:

 

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Who are these people?  I know that us Smith kids all have trouble sleeping, but if this is seriously how my siblings attempt to sleep then I’m pretty sure I can diagnose their issues.  I am the only normal one.

After our Smith Christmas we celebrated at home on real Christmas.  We all drew names this year and purchased gifts for each other with the intent of opening them on Christmas Eve.  Well, by 11am (maybe 10 even) Riley had convinced us we should open our gifts.  So, we had a little celebration mid-day on Christmas Eve.  We all got in PJs and watched some Christmas movies and then the kids were eager to go to sleep.  The sooner you sleep, the sooner Santa comes.  They were all up by 7am if not earlier and periodically checking on Rob and I to see if we were stirring.  They finally caught me flinching and deemed us all awake.  Some of us were more awake than others….like these three:

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Santa was fairly generous and brought us all an Xbox One and everyone, including Rob and I, also got a game to go with it.  Unfortunately there are some scrooges in the world who did their best to thwart our merrymaking by hacking into the Xbox cyber-land making it almost impossible to use our new toy.  Jerks.  We made the best of it and enjoyed all our other new toys and games.  I think Ellie played at least 3 games of Life this day…and I think she won every single game.  And, that is a LONG game.

The day after Christmas we headed to West Bend for the Runchey family Christmas!  Most everyone arrived on Friday night and it quickly resembled the Smith Family Christmas:

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Except the Runchey’s sleep in normal positions.

That’s Rob next to me (slightly snoring) and Kerry and Shelly on the ground (not snoring…yet).  Bob is tucked away behind Patti taking a snooze and Jon and Patti are checking something out online. 

Once everyone was rested we spent the next 48 hours playing games:

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I like this picture a lot for some reason.  Everyone is so intent on the game (Blokus, which is very fun!) except Jon, who held his grin nicely while I fiddled around with my camera setting.  Thanks Jon.  We also had some marathon runs of Pegs and Jokers.  One 6 player game was particularly intense until we had to take a time out for a meal.  We carefully set it off to the side so we could take it up again later, only to find that Mckinley had found or unorganized mess of pegs all over the board and took it upon herself to rearrange them nicely by color where they belonged.  Oops.

As usual we had a wonderful Christmas wherever we were celebrating.  I just love being our family.  They’re the best.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa through the years

2005

2005

2006

2006

2007

2007

2008 (remember this?)

2008

2009

2009

2010

2010

2011

2011

2012

2012

2013

2013

2014

2014 - 1

This year we went back to the mall Santa because I didn’t plan well and the awesome (and free!)  Bachman’s Santa had a tight schedule.  This Santa was still great and the kids enjoyed their visit….but their customer service was pretty bad and with only 12 (probably less) families in front of us, we waited over an hour.  Kind of takes the fun out of a Santa visit.  Next year we’ll be going to Bachman’s the weekend after Thanksgiving to beat the rush.  Also I thought I was done Christmas shopping and apparently I am not.  Another reason to visit early!