Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

Omaha has been updating her blog and got some great pics of some things I didn't. Like me on the Skyfari. And Jack's gum behind his ear. Another link you'll love:


I've been talking to John about going on a family camping trip, because it's always been a tradition in my family. He's been resisitant...and then this sealed the deal. My kids will NEVER go camping. Killjoy.

The Divine Miss M. Turns 3

It is hard to believe that my 'baby' really isn't a baby. She's 3. She starts school in a week. And she is all Sass and (to borrow a fab. word) Moxie. She is Madders, Maddie Cakes, Madditude, Maddie Grace. She's a really cool chick who does monkey bars and Bitty Babies.

For her birthday party, I decided to do a "Princess Theme". We had a handfull of 3 and 4 year old neighbors and such, and everyone was supposed to dress up and come over to get their hair, nails and make-up done. I had asked our Awesome Babysitter Haylee to come over to do nails and she brought a friend as well. Haylee is so great, she wouldn't even let me pay her...I tried and she walked out my door to leave. Not many jobless 16 year olds would do that. Not to mention she's a super cheerleader. She's been on the varsity squad since she was a freshman and takes it very seriously. Aaaaandd, she and her friend were a big help with cleaning and organizing too. Makes you think there's hope for future generations and knowing there are still 'good kids' out there makes me a hopeful parent that people will like my kids in the same respects.

This is Haylee and her friend doing make-up on Maddie, and nails on Brooke. My sister donated her expertise and did the girls' hair do's. She's talented that way. I bought all the stuff she requested, because she knows hair. I do not. I DID add on the glitter spray to my list. The girls loved that. And they all loved their crown like circle braids on top of their heads. Thaks Steph! Maddie and her Oma. She's an Oma's giral. Or so she says. I put Oma in charge of Maddie, because even though she was excited about her party, she clearly was overwhelmed and did not want to participate. She never put on the princess dress, and getting a smile from her was like trying to get a frog to do gymnastics. But Oma pulled it off nicely, don't you think?
More make-up shots. She looked Mahvalous I tell you. Mahvalous.

This is Brooke's new modeling picture, or something like an 80's style Glamour Shot. She looks a helluva lot older than 3 here, but it's cute anyways. The fun thing about Brooke is she likes all this girly girl stuff. And she gets Maddie involved too. So it all works out. Brooke and Auntie help accessorize, and Uncle Johnny and Auntie Jenny spoil in other which you'll see later.

Yummmy! Cake part one. Brooke got to eat 2 cakes that day, because she is both friend and family and stayed for both parties.

This is the cake I made. It was supposed to be more 'pastelly' but came out an outrageously pink color with hot purple accents. The hearts on top are chocolate hearts I made from a mold. Part of the girls' favors were chocolate suckers I made from princess molds, so the hearts were like an added bonus. As a non professional this cake totally beats out Nate's professional wreck job. You can check his out here, if you need a refresher:

I wonder what she wished for? What would YOU wish for? Hmmm...

Mmmm...Cake. And yes, even the cake was pink. I kept that theme going, which is highly unusual for me. It was nasty too...strawberry flavored and all. But not a crumb of it was left, believe it or not.

This is cake #2, the Dairy Queen poo cake as my dad refers to it. It's a long story, but it's a great cake. And in case you're wondering, I was a good mom and made Jack a special Jello dessert. Okay, I take that back. I've NEVER made Jello in my life. I think it's disgusting and I'm allergic to it anyways, so JOHN made the Jello. Yay for daddies.

This was after her 'panana'. It was a Tinkerbell panana and damned if I didn't buy the good candy...chocolate and all. Isn't that the whole point of Costco? To buy crap in bulk?

This is what good daddies do. They show you how to take aggression out on an innocent spit-fire fairy. Just to get the candy. And then they yell, "Pretend it's your brothers", because that usually seems to do the trick when you're beating something you want to kill with a plastic bat.

Present time! She got so many fun many cute outfits in size 3T we're hoping will fit next year!

Second cake candle blowout. Look at Brooke eyeing the cake. She knows it's ice cream. And that girl and her mother do not mess around with ice cream. Presented with ice cream, they go into stealth mode, a certain one track mind fastidiousness with devouring it all before it melts. When Brooke gets married, her dessert will be ice cream. I'm pretty sure about that.

This is how WE spoil our Godchildren. We give them sweets. In some regards, sweets are so much better than accessories. Look at Bryce. He's SO excited. And John was certainly amused as well. The kid is awesome. He likes him some good eats.

This is the singing card that Opa had to run out in the middle of the princess party to get. I guess I'm glad he did (sort of) because it's pretty much the only present that mattered to Miss M. She carries it everywhere. It goes in the jeep with her when she and Nate go for rides outside. It sits on her dresser. It comes to mealtimes. I have the song memorized. Yes, "Every girl can be a princess...." and every mother can want to pull her fingernails out with tweezers and toothpicks.

Some fun Maddie Stats:
Height: can't remember inches, but she's in the 67th percentile.
Weight: 27 pounds, or the 13th percentile
Bloodtest for anemia: Pending
Hair Color: Barely there (it's so thin) but mostly blond.
Eye color: Blue. Very big and very blue.
Looks Like: Daddy. Spitting freaking image of him, actually. Even though every time I start a sentence with the words "Your daughter" he tries to whip out a retort as "Allegedly". Dude, she's your freaking twin. And I barely have the time and patience for you, let alone any other member of the defective "Y Chromosome Species" so own it already.
Clothing size: if pants or shorts- 18months to 2 T, but only if elastic adjustable waist bands are involved. Dresses: Mostly 2T but can so SOME 3's.
Likes: Gymnastics (we started today, she's a total natural...thanks to her low-tone), princesses, Barbies, Tom and Jerry and He-Man Cartoons, Dora, and Max and Ruby, her Barbie Guitar and anything else musical, popcorn and CHOCOLATE!!!
Dislikes: Strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, actually, most fruits and veggies, cleaning up after herself, being told telling Jack that he's stupid is "Not okay", and pretty much any other adult direction she happens to disagree with.
Excited about: School and being a big girl already. Wow. How time certainly flies. Only of course, because I've been having so much fun. Of course.

A Fun Little Find

Last Saturday, my friend Amy from church hosted our annual "Circle of Friends" potluck with spouses at her house. For those not in the know, COF is a group of women, my age, with kids my kids' age and older who meet once a month at someone's home for food, wine, and what we like to call "purposeful fellowship". Did I mention food and wine are involved?

I am the person in charge of our "Angels in Aprons" ministry, meaning I coordinate meals for people who need them due to surgery, illness, new babies, etc. This being said...

Amy knows I love food. And I'm always cooking. Amy's sister is a chef at Food Network. She's in the test kitchens and featured in the new magazine from time to time. She has a blog that is super great, and all about food. Check it out....

And for the record, I can verify that the quiche entry is 100% true. Every word of it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finishing up The Omaha Stuff

I know, I know. I have to really get my booty moving on keeping everyone updated with the whole blog thing. Especially since I've still got to post an entry about Maddie's birthday, her first fishing experience, and then, well, 1st grade starts in less than a week already. The summer has just gone by too fast, mostly I think because it took it's sweet time getting here.

These photos are from the Omaha zoo. It's a great zoo, and now they have a new "exhibit", if you will. It's called the Skyfari, and it's basically a ski lift you ride from one end to the other. It actually worked out really well for us, because between the 3 adults that were there, we had 8 kids, and still lost track of Nathan no less than 4 times. The Skyfari takes you over the giraffes and Ostriches, rhinos and elephants, which is super great because it was a far, far walk to see them, and with 8 kids, one of whom is chronically lost, it would have been a very long day.

Check out that Madditude before heading in to the zoo. LIke she's all in charge. Seriously? She and Gwyn are vying for "coolest chick with glasses" awards. I think they both won.

I love this picture. I'm not sure why. This is inside the aquarium part of the zoo, and I had turned off my flash. I took my picture at the same time someone else took theirs, so it's borrowed flash. It looks so space-agey, or something like that.

I looked up, the stingray hovered and looked down. So, if you've ever wondered what the underside of a stingray looks like, this is it:

Behind the glass in the penguin house. I HATE penguins. They're smelly, foul birds. I hate them ALMOST as much as I hate cats and goats. I think it's a 3 way tie actually. They're just gross animals. But they lend themselves to fun photos.

Getting our picture with Spongebob. That's a weird cartoon, but sadly it makes more sense than "Max and Ruby" and is slightly less annoying than "Caillou". Hey, we all have standards, right?

We went into the bug house and this little beauty was pressed up against the glass. I think those holes in the abdomen are it's ears.

I love this grin. This is one of the few times we didn't lose him coming out of an exhibit. That little devil smile is exhasting.

More naturey pics from the butterfly house. I really love playing with my camera.

Action shot of discovery. You can almost hear him saying, "Look at that one mom!"

The group minus the baby. What a great bunch of kiddos!

It was a great day. It was a great trip. The ride home to IL two days after the zoo was extra long, what with Maddie having an episode of diarrhea and all, but otherwise the trip was untainted, relaxing, and a fabulous experience. We couldn't have asked for better hosts to stay with (THANK YOU TIMES ONE MILLION!), and I know that someday we'll go back.
Just as soon as I get over the 9 and 1/2 hour car ride home. Aaaaany day now.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oh Omaha, How I Had Missed You!

I can say A LOT about Omaha. They do have a great zoo, where the animals are in very natural habitats. Like in the jungle. The hippos swim in water with jungle plants surrounding them, unlike at my local zoo (which I love in it's own way) the hippos are in big concrete cages.

I think the best part of the trip for the kids though, were the 2 waterslide parties we went to. One was at Julianne's house, and because the yard gets so completely saturated, the other was at her friend Leslie's. This waterslide is so cool, and it was like going to a waterpark for free. The boys had a fabulous time, the baby wouldn't go near it. I enjoyed the parties mostly because there was really good food involved. And I got to meet some of Julz's friends and their kids. Surprisingly, a good chunk of the people at the partays were transplants from the Chicagoland area. Interesting.

Check out this almost surfer dude pose! I love it.
This is the waterslide assembled and in all it's glory. So very cool. Literally. And he goes down!

Okay, isn't this the cutest baby? I couldn't resist putting her pic up. She was soooo sweet and happy and just able to roll with the flow.

Here's Julz filling her bladder. It's part of the waterslide, I swear.

The trip inevitably went very fast. I can't believe we've been home just over a week already. The funniest thing was every night we'd put our kids to bed around 7-8 or so, and sit down and start chatting. The next thing Julianne and I knew it was almost midnight. We have that gift...we just have so much to talk about I suppose and it goes easy. Everyone should have friends like that.
Can't wait to share my zoo photos and dish on the "Skyfari" experience. And oh, it was an experience!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Came for a Visit!

Whilst we were in Omaha enjoying a fabulous waterpark vacation in Julz's own backyard, her oldest, Olivia, lost her first tooth. Since that moment, Jack has been wiggling away at one of his teeth that may have been slightly loose at the onset of the trip, and now is gone. He lost his very first tooth on August 12.

Check out that gaping hole in his mouth! What kills me (besides the fact that he's now such a 'big kid') is that this little tooth caused so much pain and sleep deprivation coming in a mere 5 and 1/2 years ago. And now it's just gone, just like that. Sigh.
Our tooth fairy left 2 bucks and some baseball cards. She really wanted to leave some Chuck-E-Cheese tokens because they're gold, and the kid would find them totally cool. Oh well. The experience did get me interested in the history of the tooth fairy, and though there's not much out there I did find this:
I think the Santa Clause 3 explains it all anyways.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fun in Iowa, Day 1 part 2

After we left the children's museum, we checked into our hotel and had a lovely swim in our hotel with some chick I picked up via the internet and reading her blog. Don't worry, she's totally legit-I went to the same college as her hubby. And she made me the art for my kitchen/family room area. And she made a pretty rockin' picture to remind my friend Nicole what she'll be missing when she moves to Florida and away from book club. Sigh...

Anyways, Keri is a very cool chick, and brought her 2 boys to swim. Her oldest is Nate's age and the baby is cute as can be, but pays more than a little homage to "Captain Chaos". He's very busy. And she's very skinny because of it. And I'm jealous because I'm not. It was VERY nice to talk to another grown up and mommy though, because I'd felt isolated for the past 8 hours with no one but Jane Eyre as an adult voice in my head.

Moving on. After they headed out, we took a half hour dinner detour and checked out that fossil gorge I mentioned in a previous post. As you will see from the photos, this place is really pretty. It's neat-what with being able to find fossils everywhere. It's a heart-attack and ER visit waiting to happen rolled all into one nice ball if your kids are as talented at falling as Nate is, or your daughter is wearing shoes with NO gription. Sigh...this is probably the one place I wished I had an extra hand, just so I could take pictures unmolested.

I'm not sure what the boys are looking at here. I'm pretty sure I probably don't even want to know.
Welcome to artsy fartsy 101. Amid all these craggy unstable rockages, plants grow big and beautiful. Upon closer inspection...ooooh....a bee!!!

Okay, this is why I damn near had a heart attack. Look ma! No hands! Look Ma! Large bleeding and gaping head wound! Look ma! I broke my leg AND my neck!

This landscape shot just gives a good idea of what the surfaces of the rocks were like. A lot of climbing and unsure footing.

Thanks to the tutelage of my friend Jen and her SLR, I have been sort of working on the "preference"setting on my camera, instead of having everything be automatic. I have also been working on portraits. Here's my latest stab (nowhere near what she can do) at it, when I had about 2.2 seconds before the Divine Miss M decided pictures are no fun and she'd rather be climbing.

Here is another landscape photo. I wasn't kidding with the unsure footing thing.

I should really show this to his occupatinal therapist. After I take my tranquilizers. I'm not really a nervous Nelly, but this place put me over the edge just a little bit. Incidentally, we didn't stay long and headed back to IHOP for pancakes for dinner.

Talk about the one kid I didn't worry about in the least to navigate the rocks. Jack was totally fine and even enjoyed scouting for the fossils.

I have nothing to say about the next pic. You all know how I feel by this point.

It was a great stay in Iowa that night. After pancakes and baths, Nate literally passed out in 2 seconds. Jack was sleeping on the couch that pulled into a bed because he thought that it was SOOO cool, and I had my own bed. Nice. However, the only thing I could find on t.v. as we were winding down was "Futurama". How bad could that cartoon be? Speaking from experience, as it turns out, that cartoon can be pretty bad. There was a lot of swearing that I'm pretty sure my kids in their cartoon comas did not pick up on, thank goodness.
In the morning, we had a lovely FREE breakfast. Not just an icky old oranges and crappy cereal continental breakfast either. There was a waffle machine, and chafing dishes full of 2 different kinds of scrambled eggs, and dish of breakfast potatoes. There were 5 different kinds of juices and 3 different brews of coffee to choose from. There was cereal, rolls, pastries, bread and bagels, yogurt, fresh GOOD get the idea. It was, on the whole, a fabulous experience.
We left around 10 for Omaha. And I realized I had forgotten to pack Maddie any underwear....
(How's that for a cliffhanger?)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Apparently, Nobody Gets the Real Reason I Do NOT Want a Dog

This morning: "Good morning Madders! Hey, your birthday is in 4 days. What do you want for your birthday?

"Uuuummmm, I want a ewipint. I LLLLUUUBBB ewipints."

Really? An elephant? And I want your dad to clean up after said ewipint. End of story.

Iowa/Omaha Day 1 Part 1

I'm going to have to write these blogs in increments because we were sooo busy. And I took almost 300 pictures. So bear with me.

We left on Monday the 3rd of August. Packed the car with a few backpacks of clothes, our swimsuits and bikes, and transformed and rolled out by 8. We had planned a stop overnight in Iowa in a cute little city near Iowa City called Corallville. I looked, but did not see any coral.

The Iowa Children's Museum was located there. It was so great. Mostly it was great because we already have reciprocal museum passes, so it cost me nothing to get the kids in when it would otherwise have been $25. I love our museum pass.

There is a grocery store in the museum. These pics are all in random and backwards order because...well there are lots of reasons. For now, just because.

This is Nate buying bread. The bread looks a little phallic to me, don't you think? Okay, the next 2 pictures will shock and surprise you. They are pics of my three children playing together. And not fighting. And they are playing without swords or other weapons.

Maddie makes her purchasse while Nate waits somewhat patiently (another oddity) and Jack is the "checker outer guy". Jack was trying to build something here. This room is cool. There are wooden sticks and things and bolts and nuts and you can put them together to make a structure of sorts. The only problem is, everytime Jack went to refill his supply bucket the pseudo-Nazi cleaner/volunteer kept picking up after him. I was like, "Dude, he's NOT done yet."
Anywho, Note the Orange hat. He wears orange almost as well as his Opa.

There was a room full of displays about kids from various parts of the world. This one was Maddie's favorite. It was about a little Russian girl named Olga who lives and breathes ballet. I thought it was a bit stereotypical, but maybe not since the exhibit was more 'ballet' centric than 'gymnastics'. Still, isn't the Bolshoi ballet pretty famous?
This is Maddie doing ballet to Olga's favorite music.

Nate, somewhere in the Amazon found him a resting place. Only thing missing is the t.v.

More ballet. It was really cute to watch her dancing.

Chef Willie, making me a scrumdiddlyumptious pizza. With EVERYTHING on it. And I mean EVERYTHING.

Oh, please, please please please PLEASE let this be a glimpse into the future. Add to it the scholarships he will win because of his genius-ness.

The kids also had fun putting my broken foot in a boot and driving me to the nearest hospital in via the ambulance that was in the museum. Nate stole my crutches and broke the other foot. Two boots and one wacked out ride with Nate (that boy is NEVER getting his real license if the simulator is any indication of future performance) I was right as rain and able to take the kids to the fossil gorge.
Stay tuned....