Thursday, November 12, 2015

Charlotte’s Web

Back in August Ellie tried out for another community theater production.  This one was Charlotte’s Web.  She was delighted to find out a couple weeks later that she was cast as a farm animal and fairgoer.  She later found out she would specifically be a cow and then even more excited when she found out she would have one line as a fairgoer.  She’s moving on up in the theater world!

Well, the photos are hot off the presses from the show so I’m finally updating the blog with her performance.

Rehearsals started in September and I think she loved every second of it.  In our house it seems to be rare to find an activity that your kid loves 100% of the time but that is how Ellie is with these shows.  I never have to drag her to practice.  She only pouts if she doesn’t have practice.


This is her, and her fellow cows during a rehearsal.  She doesn’t have her cow shirt on because I am currently sitting in the auditorium sewing black cow spots on it.  And a special thanks to my mom who sewed up some white sweatpants for the costume.  Because no one sells white sweat pants.  Because who would ever buy sweatpants in white?

Rob and I also got a bit more involved in this show than in past shows.  Each of the animals needed face paint.  I volunteered to do it and then I volunteered Rob to do it when the original “duck” lady couldn’t continue her role.




It was quite a process!  I think that is probably one thing all of the farm animals were happy to be done with after the show was over.  It’s a process to put on, but also to take off at intermission when they all turned into regular people again for the second half.


Above is Ellie watching fireworks at the fair with her older “sisters”.

And for the final rehearsal they surprised their directors by all dressing up as zombies.


Ellie did not want to participate in this idea.  She thinks zombies are creepy and was even a little scared about going to rehearsal if everyone was going to be dressed as zombies.  But, knowing my daughter, I knew once she was there that she’d change her mind and want to take part in it.  So, at the last minute I convinced her to let me put some face make up on her before the rehearsal and after I saw this picture (taken by someone else there that night) I guess she got over it.

Thanks to everyone who showed their support by coming to see her show!  That is, by far, her favorite part!  She had lots of family, quite a few neighbors, classmates, and even her two favorite teachers showed up!


And because I haven’t included enough photos in this post already, and because everyone loves a good “soldier comes home” story.  I’ll include a video clip of another cow and her dad surprising her (and her siblings) by coming home from 8 months of deployment.  Tear jerker.

Click here for the video!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Halloween 2015

I thought I was going to be totally prepared for Halloween this year. Ellie decided pretty early on that she wanted to be a minion. I found a pretty costume at Walmart and I was already "one down two to go"! This was in September. Riley told me in early October that she was going to be a mixed up creature and use a bunch of parts from old costumes. Free and clever...I like it! However, with a little 2 weeks until Halloween she switched to a witch. No problem. I picked up a hat and some tights and decided we'd be able to make the rest. With some help from my mom and sister on the Sunday before halloween we made her a really quick smock/dress, I bought some tulle to tie around her waste, used the rest to make a broomstick and she was done. "Two down, one to go!"


In the past few years he has just come up with his own costume and it is usually great so I didn't give him much thought. He had been tossing around the idea of being someone from the Hobbit for quite awhile and he usually has very specific ideas of what each costume will include so I generally don't get involved much. I think it was perhaps Sunday night that he decided on Voldemort from Harry Potter. He said he just needed a black cloak, white face paint, Voldemort's wand, and something for his head to make him look bald. Just that. No biggie.

We had face paint.

Cue my parents!

Sunday night I went through my mom's patterns and found a cloak that would be perfect. She said it would be no problem and I specifically said "Don't worry about any details because it's just a costume. Skip anything that you want". But, of course she came back 3 days later with a perfect replica of what Austin was envisioning. Plus she added on a cummerbund type thing with loops to hold Austin's wand. An added bonus!

Back to the wand. I mentioned in my last post about trying to find Voldemort's wand and finding out it was $50 and saying "No way, Jose!". So, I half-jokingly and half-hopingly (that's a new word) sent my dad a text with this picture:

And asked if he could quick whittle this for Austin.

And, also in three days, when my mom presented the cloak, my dad presented this:

Because of course he can.

I'm pretty sure I officially give up when it comes to costumes because this team just can't be beat.

Here's the pics from the great night! Big thanks to my mom and dad!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Love This Kid!

His imagination is amazing and he is always thinking. Always. Lately he has been devouring the Harry Potter books. Rob started reading the first book to him in first grade because Rob had never read them either and thought they might be good to read together...which they would be, except Austin got completely terrified about 1/4 of the way into book one. Fast forward 4 years and I strongly encouraged (maybe forced) him to give them a second try. They are completely up his alley! And, as I suspected he loves them. He started them in September and he is about 1/2 way through book 6. And, like everything Austin does, he does it full speed ahead. He found a stick in Rob's workshop and it immediately became a wand. He uses his old Jedi robe Grandma Smith made as a cloak. He is a professor at Hogwarts for his little wizard students (Ellie and Riley), and he's constantly shouting out incantations or reminiscing about funny parts in the book expecting me to remember them (which I rarely do...I should re-read them). So, it came as no surprise that Austin wanted to be a character from the books for Halloween. It did surprise me that he wanted to be the evil guy. Lord Voldemort. I think it's the first time he's wanted to be something scary.

So, as we're coming up with his costume he really wanted a new wand. His stick from the workshop wasn't cutting it anymore. I took him to the Halloween store at the mall and he found a really cheap-o plastic Harry Potter wand there. $5. I could tell he wasn't thrilled with it. We tried both Target and Barnes and Nobles for a different option. Target had nothing and Barnes and Noble had a $50 exact replica of Voldemort's wand. Nice, but no way. So, we bought the $5 wand and went on our way. Right when he got out of the store he said "Man, I can't wait until we get to the car and I can open this!" and I took it out of it's package, handed it over and said "have at it!". And he walked through the whole rest of the mall in his own world throwing curses and spells out in every direction. God only knows what sorts of things were happening in the mall (in his head). I didn't think until the end that I should video it, so here's a short clip:

YouTube Video

I'm bummed I only caught a few seconds of it before he realized he was going the wrong way and turned around and saw me. When he saw me filming him I thought he would be embarrassed but instead he said "Were you videoing me? Cool, can I see it?". So, I also love that he sees nothing wrong with dancing through the mall with a pretend wand, wearing his jacket on his head like it's a hooded cloak.

He's an amazing kid. I'm a lucky mom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I bet not everyone has to avoid be shot (with berg bullets) in their own kitchen.

And his opponent:

I'm not sure who won. But is there ever really a winner in war?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Puppy Love

Back in June we decided that Riley deserved a pet that did more than swim in a tank (or in Hades case, lay at the bottom of the tank and rarely swim). Rob and I thought that we were ready to graduate to a hamster or guinea pig and that it would be the perfect present for Riley's birthday in August. I set out to do my homework and found out that we should get a guinea pig because hamsters are nocturnal and apparently don't like being held. Then we went to a pet store to hold a guinea pig and see what they were all about. We asked some more questions checked out food prices, etc. I decided right then that I'd rather have a dog. Guinea pigs aren't cheap to feed, poop non-stop, have to have baths, get their nails clipped, and require at least 8 square feet of soon to be really stinky space. You have to clean up their poop at least once a day....and they aren't nearly as awesome as dogs. It took a little bit of convincing but not nearly as much as I thought it would and Rob was on board. Next up was finding our dog.

I started out with shelters and pounds. I checked their websites daily to see if anything arrived that fit our criteria for size and shedding (non-shedding because I'm slightly allergic to pet dander). After a month I realized that all I could find in the shelters were pit bulls, chihuahuas, beagles, and other large breeds that shed. I then turned my search to figuring out what would be the perfect breed for us. After much consideration and changing of my mind, I settled on a Cavapoo and made my pitch to Rob who agreed it was a good choice.

Next I had to find a breeder that didn't border on being a puppy mill. That was easier said than done but I finally came across a place in Albia, IA who was going to have a litter of Cavapoos in min-September. While we were in Hawaii, at a Luau, I was emailing back and forth with this lady. In that 20 minutes she sold two. I asked a few more questions and then sent her our deposit and we were officially on the list to get long as her mama had at least 5 dogs.

So, at the beginning of August we hoped we were getting a dog but told the kids we were only thinking about it and to not get their hopes up because Dad still wasn't' sure it was a good idea. We dragged out that story for what felt like forever. The mama dog ended up having 9 puppies! This weekend it was finally time to reveal our secret!

We told the kids we were driving down to Iowa to go watch Taylor, our niece, play in a basketball tournament. The kids were quite excited about this. So excited in fact that I was afraid they would be mad that we weren't actually there to see Taylor!

The breeder lives on a farm really in the middle of no where. We had to drive down a gravel road to get to her house and I was wondering how long the kids would continue to think we were going to a basketball game. I think Austin was the first to pipe up after about 5 minutes on the gravel road suggesting it was a weird place to have a basketball game. We had passed our breeder's house but she is also a teacher and wasn't home yet so we had to waste some time. Riley was getting worried because she absolutely hates being lost. So, we agreed we'd turn around (once we were sure she was home) and ask someone at that farm we passed for directions.

It wasn't until we were actually in their fenced in dog yard that we spilled the beans. All three of them just sat there mute looking at us. Then they just kept saying "Really?" Then we went in to see the puppies and their excitement became a bit more noticeable but I think they still weren't sure what was going on. I don't think it was until we were sitting on the floor with the 4 boy puppies that they finally figured it out.

It took us about 10 minutes to settle on our favorite (though any would do, they were all adorable!)

Meet Loki:

Rob picked the name. I tried out a few others (Roscoe, Finn, and Ole) but decided that Loki (pronounced Low-kee) was the best. He's the Norwegian God of Mischief so we're hoping we're not type-casting him here....

He's incredibly sweet. We are all in love.

Riley asked us at least a dozen times if this was for real. Do we really get to keep him. And then she was concerned someone else would want him (there were other people there picking up their Golden doodles that were 8 weeks old).

We're all pretty excited and we'll be able to bring him home mid-November. Time to read up on Puppy Training!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bathing Beauties

Sunday was beautiful! Beautiful enough that after Ellie's last Charlotte's Web performance of the weekend she was able to join her neighborhood friends (and sister) outside for a little run through the sprinklers and sun tanning on the driveway. I could get used to weather like that!

Unfortunately it was followed with ridiculous winds and sub 50 degree temperatures on Monday. Yuck.

Our leaves are changing and fall is in full force. I have mixed feelings on this.

The kids are on Fall Break the rest of the week so hopefully we'll find our way outside to see some of the colors!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chef in training

Every morning Riley wakes up first. She wants to snuggle. It's like having a life-size teddy bear in the house. This morning as we were snuggling she offered to make me coffee. All of my kids have a general idea of how to make my coffee (we started that training years ago) so I agreed and off she went. I came down as it was dripping out of the Keurig and remembered that I had some decaf cups in the coffee drawer and was worried she grabbed one of those (no decaf in the morning!). She said "Nope, I used the only blue one in the whole drawer!" which I realized was hot chocolate. So, Riley made herself hot chocolate.

Then Austin came down, grabbed the waffle mix out of the pantry and said "I'm making waffles." Ummm.....I'm fairly certain he's never done this before. My first instinct was to say "no" because I didn't want to deal with the mess. Then I realized he'd never been eager to cook before and the benefits that can come from someone else making breakfasts in the morning far outweighed a mess. So, I showed him where the directions were and off he went. I gave him a tiny bit of help but it was mostly him. He then even served up everyone's waffles for them according to their preferences (Butter & Syrup vs. Peanut Butter & Syrup)

Not bad. And the girls raved about how tasty they were so his ego isn't hurting either.

I think we might be on to something here.