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!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Time to Catch Up

I always thought once all the kids were in school that I would be a blogging machine.  I’d have all this extra time and life would be smooth.  I’m sad to report that is not the case.  Most days, before I realize it, it is 1pm and I haven’t even eaten lunch.  Some days it’s because I’ve been running around and other days it’s because I got involved in a project and just lost track of time.  Either way, I am enjoying each and every day.  I’m only slightly worried for the upcoming holiday break from school.  It seems I have lost my high tolerance for kid craziness and I’m afraid I’ll be ready to ship them back to school after only a couple days.  Note to my neighbor ladies:  Let the happy hours ensue!

So, in no certain order, here is a recap of the last month or two (or maybe three?).  I just grabbed some random pictures off my phone to give you all an update.

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Okay, so I guess this doesn’t really have much to do with us, but this guy has shown up on our house and in our backyard mountain multiple times.  This picture does not do his/her size justice.  It sat on our roof for over 4 hours one afternoon.  It’s a snowy owl.  The kids and I looked it up.

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Our porch is done!  It was finished either late September or early October. I can’t remember.  But we LOVE it!  It is my favorite spot in the house.  The kids love to curl up on our lamb skin rug in front of the fireplace.  The floor is toasty warm, the couch is great for napping, and when it’s snowing you feel like you’re in a snow globe.  Special thanks to all my family who helped us with the floor and my mom who handled the curtains!  LOVE it!

3.

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Mia (and her parents) came to visit the day after Thanksgiving!  Ahhhh, young love.  These two are so fun together!  They pick up exactly wherever they left off and have so much fun together.  They are inseparable the second she walks in the door.

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Austin, though he’d never say anything, just loves the extra attention he gets from her.  There’s an extra twinkle in his eye when she’s around. It’s very cute.

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My kids are wearing out their welcome at my parents house.  And for the record, that’s me saying that, not my parents.  They seem to have endless patience and energy for them.  The first weekend in December the kids slept over while we attended Kerry and Mike’s card party.  The second weekend they slept over while we attended Rob’s work party.  This Friday they will stay again while we host a neighborhood party for the adults at our house. And just to round things out, my parents are watching them again on Monday night when Rob and I head to “Motown the Musical”.  This is Grandpa taking a beating.  Grandma is more the crafty type and is teaching my kids about different art techniques by drawing Digimon with them.

5.

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We all went to see Rudolph the Musical at Stages Theater.  It was very cute, very much like the movie.  The kids really enjoyed it (especially when I caved and bought them each a stuffed animal….I’m a sucker).  We’ll get some good use out of these fancy duds tonight when we go visit Santa and then out to a fancy dinner.  Friday, Riley will wear her dress for her kindergarten holiday performance.  And, if they stop growing maybe again in the spring for the piano recital.

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She is funny.  These kids make me laugh on a daily basis.  Life is good.

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I’ve been knitting up a storm.  I made a hat for Ellie, a poncho and hat for our neighbor girls’ American Girl Doll, and I recently finished these two pair of boot cuffs for teacher gifts.  I made the tan ones first and decided that I don’t like cabling that much (but like the look) so I picked a different pattern for the second (gray) pair and it turned out to be much more work.  My fingers hurt.  But they’re done.  I’m not sure what is next on my list, maybe something for myself?

8.

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Christmas movies are in full swing around here.  We touched on all the standard kid films and are delving a little deeper into our collection.  This year we have debuted “White Christmas” for the kids.  Riley loves it.  The other two only like it.  Here is Ellie and Riley reenacting the last scene per Riley’s request.  Great movie, less great when Riley asks 800 questions.  “Do they have a crush on each other?”  “Why is she mad?”  “Did he really break his leg?” “Does buttermilk really give you good dreams?”  etc. 

 

And that’s it.  I mean, that’s not it, but that’s what I’ve got for now.  I’m missing lots of other things, probably some more important than an owl landing on our house, but off the top of my head, that’s what’s going on.  I’m hoping the snow sticks around for awhile, I’d like to use my cross country skis soon and I just bought some ice skates so I can use the rink across the street with the kids….so long as it doesn’t become 45 degrees again!  I’ll try to do a bit better at keeping this up to date!

Friday, October 24, 2014

My boys

Time for a long overdue update.  This one is specifically about the males in my life.  First, Rob.

On August 8th, Rob did not have to go to work but being the overachiever he is, he got up at 5:45am and drove to the gym (20 min away) to play basketball.  He had started playing with a bunch of guys there early in the morning a few times a week.  He had not played at all that week yet because his achilles were feeling tight.  But, that morning he decided to give it a shot.  He did some light jogging, felt good, so on with the game!  Towards the end of the game he was driving to the hoop and thought someone hit him in the back of his leg.  And the rest is history.  He ruptured his Achilles tendon.  The guys in the gym said they heard it happen (gross!).  They wheeled him to his car, he drove home (it was his left leg) and then called me from the garage to see if I could help him into the house.  Kerry came over to watch the kids, and then we went to Tria.

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The doctor confirmed what Rob thought and then we went and visited a surgeon to get his opinion.  Basically you can choose to have it repaired, or you can choose to let it heal on it’s own.  He said both options work, both take about the same amount of time, but healing on it’s own “might” not heal correctly, and then you’d have to have a much more invasive surgery to fix it.  Since Rob plans to continue playing basketball when he is healed, the surgeon suggested he have surgery.  Which brings us to August 21st:

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Once he got his muscle relaxer (or something like that), Rob was the chattiest I think I’ve ever seen him.  He was trying to convince the nurses and surgeon that it was not his age or tight tendons that caused this, but his explosive athleticism.  The politely agreed.

So, now he is 2.5 months post injury and was just cleared to stop using his boot.  He even got on a bike at the gym yesterday (but he was pretty sore afterwards).  All in all, I think he’s doing really well.  I’m sure he wishes he was doing even better but he has taken everything in stride.  He’s a pretty active guy so I’m sure it has not been easy to be sidelined for the last 2 months.  Hopefully in another 2 months he’ll be feeling really good.

Meanwhile, the little man in my life had his own run in…..literally.  He ran into a tree.  The actual events are not completely clear since no one saw it happen.  But, I was there (50 feet away) and all his classmates and teacher were also right there.  The story, we believe, is this:  Austin’s class was outside taking a picture for “Anti-bullying day” and afterwards they all went to grab their jackets on the ground.  It was insanely windy that day so his jacket blew off his head and he quickly bent down to grab it and then on his way back to standing and running to catch up he ran into a tree.  His teacher sent him to the nurse and then came and told me what happened.  Mr. Wiener didn’t think he was hurt badly so I didn’t want to run in there and be “Mama Bear” so I waited until my volunteering duty was on break and then went and checked on him.  The nurse was running him through the concussion tests and he was doing fine so we both agreed he’d put a pack of ice on his head for 15 minutes and then go back to class.  Austin seemed fine with that plan.  An hour later I came up to the office from my other volunteering and was told the nurse wanted to see me.  Austin had come back and was “not doing well”.  I pulled back the curtain and he was moaning/sleeping on the cot.  I tried to wake him up and he just started crying and said “I just can’t talk very well”….only it was totally slurred because the left side of his face couldn’t move.  He was drooling and couldn’t sit up….he was a mess.  I ran to grab my car, had the nurse wheel him out to me and basically threw some car seats at another mom and asked her to take my girls home.  He couldn’t stay awake the whole way to the ER but did walk in with my help.  The nurse brought him immediately back to the ER and then he had a CT scan.  Thankfully that came back clear.  So they said we could just let him sleep.  But he was out of it!

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He’d wake up for about 90 seconds if he heard my voice or Rob’s voice but didn’t stir for the nurses or Dr.  He also kept vomiting.  Eventually the Dr. said he wanted to keep him overnight because he was still vomiting (after Zofran) and still so sleepy.  But, he said he’d like to give him an IV too.  We figured we’d be there for awhile yet and by now it was 6pm and Rob hadn’t eaten anything most of the day (and had just gotten there from his own PT appointment).  So, I ran home to get him something to eat and when I got back Austin had gotten his IV.  Rob said that didn’t go over really well and that Austin put up quite a fight.  But the fight and the IV must’ve worked because this is what I came back to:

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We did get to come home that night and Austin pretty much went right to bed.  The next morning he seemed fine.  Because Maddie recently had a concussion, we knew we weren’t supposed to let him watch TV, or anything with a screen, no running or anything more than a walk.  He listened to a book on tape for most of the day.

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So, he is now 3 weeks post-concussion and to us, he seems fine.  He is eager to get back to his normal activities but his physical therapist (and recently his new occupational therapist) still want to restrict his activity.  Apparently, there is some problems with his left eye (that’s the side of his head he hit) tracking objects.  So, we’ve been going to PT 2-3 times per week and she said he’s making good progress.  He no longer has any stiffness in his back/neck, he no longer gets any headaches during the day, and he hasn’t felt dizzy lately.  So, now during his visits she is working on increasing his heart rate more and more and then we have to see how his head feels in the next 24 hours.  A lot of his visits have been in the morning before school, but sometimes they are after school, which means bringing the girls.  But, Riley LOVES this because the office has a therapy dog.  His name is Mason and Riley is in love:

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So, my boys are healing well.  Us girls are trying to be patient with their inability to do anything, but we have been having some good times with game nights.  Austin is the new Trivial Pursuit master in our house.