Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The week of Halloween, sans binky for Riley: THE HORROR

Holiday season is upon us and I'm already sputtering, "Whoa, whoa, whoa - let's scale back some and free up the schedules - I need a nap!" Haha - I'm not the party animal I like to think I am. Well, I do enjoy the festivities though. And I die for the looks on the kids faces when we are doing something amazing. Like when we got Joe's dragon costume on for the first time and he caught his reflection in the mirror. Grinning from ear to ear, he then immediately chasing after his sister, growling, "Imma get you, pwincess," Riley, squealing, lifting her sparkly pink gown with one hand and steadied her tiara with the other as she dashed away. Priceless. Absolutely will never forget it.

But I'm not going to show you their costumes yet - have to leave something to post for the big all-hallows day! But I have plenty of other material that needs covering.

First: Riley is binky-less (in case you missed the title). It was a problem because she wanted it day and night and would talk with it in, not helping her lisp at all. So one night while she wasn't looking, Dave clipped off the tip, making it unsuckable. She was none too pleased when she found out. She initially blamed Joe, but has since been persuaded that binkies get old and break and that's ok because she is too old for binky too.

Anyways, between missing bink and having colds that cause coughing at night, it has been a rough couple weeks sleep-wise, tantrum-wise, etc. Last night we finally got a night of unbroken sleep and it cheers you right up! Makes me want to blog, apparently!

Ok, so next: we went on a farm excursion with our student housing co-op. It was awesome! We went to the farm that supplies the co-op with weekly, organic, local produce orders - how cool is that - and we got to ride a genuine school bus! Those things are a lot smaller than I recall. I distinctly remember sharing a seat comfortably with two or three other people, and now my knees barely fit in! And I am not long-legged! The kids cheered when it pulled up, as if it were Santa's sleigh pulled by reindeer, and not a retired, faded old school bus. Whenever a bus passes us, Riley asks when can she go to school, so it was kind of a dream come true.
 Once there we split up to either pick apples or try the corn maze. We got on the hayride to the corn maze.

 Joe's preschool friend who is smiling so nicely taught him how to make faces and Joe thought that was the best ever. Kept at it long after pictures were over.
We were stuck in that maze for over an hour! It was fun to get to know our neighbors though - there are some cool people living in student housing.
And Joe ended up getting a free ride.
 The old farmer in charge of driving us back with his tractor eventually came in after us. We were almost done!

Then we finished off at the apple orchards and petting zoos, picking and munching really delicious apples, just out of reach of the poor, poor little goats..
Fun group, fun day. And cold enough that when we got home we had our first hot cocoa of the season and watched "Elf" while huddling under a flannel quilted blanket.

Saturday we went to Sever's Corn Maze with the MBA peoples. It is gigantic and intricate, or so I hear - we didn't actually take the kids in there. Because we aren't insane. Luckily, there is more than enough to keep you occupied and we spent a very pleasant afternoon with friends, petting animals, listening to jazzy musicians who actually sounded more blue-grassy than jazzy, in a good way, rolling around in forty million tons of corn in the corn pit (my professional estimate, that. It was a lot of corn), playing on playgrounds and running through a mini-maze made from bales of hay. We brought a picnic but Riley and Joe were way to distracted by the goings-on and didn't actually eat till we got back in the car at four o' clock! I tried, heaven knows. I tried so hard that they have started playing a game where Riley is me and Joe is Joe and Riley says over and over again, "You wanna sandwich/apple/chip?" and Joe says, "Nah!" over and over. And then they laugh. It's endearing, really.
 The jazzy/bluegrassy band were really fun to listen to. Kids kept walking up and putting bills in their tip jar too, and afterwards the singer did a public "thank you" to their grandchildren for the generous tips! Haha!

I should mention that I did abandon the men and children for a time to visit the mouth-watering food vendor line. I finally got my roasted sweet corn on the cob mmm.....dripping with butter, sprinkled with sea salt, pipping hot off the grill. I went back to the corn pit to share with Dave and babies but...well, I didn't look too hard. I gave up after a minute and went and sat at the jazz band stage, and it was a real pleasant moment.

Then I found them here:
Our big Carlson School group.
 If only there'd been more time to do it all! We didn't do the actual maze, pumpkin blaster, magic show, pig race, camel rides, or partake in lots of other deep fried things I would have liked to try. But after three hours, our kids were like the living dead - staring, drolling, and trying to bite me. Riley scarfed her lunch in the car and fell asleep with a sandwich crust half-way to her lips. She woke, incidentally, half a mile from home, sicking up down her shirt and car seat. Too much party will do that to a kid! I worked a summer at a girls scout camp, so I have known for a long time how often kids can puke, without warning or provocation, but it always seems to shock me in the moment. I threw off my seatbelt and lunged toward the back, catching a handful of puke that I then kind of whipped toward the (closed) window. It was a mess. The good news is she felt fine after and tucked into pizza for dinner, never missing a beat.

Lets end on a nicer note. Here's a sweet little dragon to take us out:
Lots more to follow!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Toddler Tribute to Fall (aka what we do when we aren't blowing our noses)

We are in the late stages of peak fall colors hear in Minneapolis. So says the news (yes, that's news! It's Minnesotan code for "enjoy it while it lasts! Suckas!"). This afternoon, well, I slept my life away - so worth it - but Dave and the kids carpe diem'd the heck out of those leaves!

Filming creds to Dave - thanks for allowing me to both nap and not completely miss this iconic fall activity. The song is one of Riley's favorites and is a popular request for a bedtime lullaby.

Oh man, there is nothing like seeing the world through a child's eyes. Or, rather through the phone camera of your spouse, who is seeing it through their eyes. Dave was in Seattle this week, scoping out potential employers, and boy did we miss him. These kids, they woke up and went to bed with Dad on the brain, and Friday night was a blessed reunion.
We have had a semi-stressful week with a nasty cold that lasted much longer than it should have, but there have been several bright spots too. I finally got to teach our preschool class two days this week. Up till now I have just dropped the kids off and had my own free time, not a bad thing, but I was glad to play teacher and do fun crafts and things with the kids. We have four energetic boys and Riley and it. is. a. party. 
She's a classy reader. Above her you can see several of their preschool projects.
 Also of note: MN Children's Museum. Funny story, it is located in St. Paul, our city last year, but now that we live in Minneapolis, it is much closer! Ok, maybe not that funny...But we were going to do another apple orchard that day till I decided I didn't want to risk wind aggravating Joseph's cough. (You know I think I call him Joseph more when I am feeling maternal. But also when I'm angry. It is a name for emotion, I guess). So our friends thought up this great plan B of going to the museum and we had a great time! New displays around every corner too!
The skeleton display.
 The not-new but ever-popular water display.

This weekend has been phenomenal. Joe's feeling better, Daddy's home and totally giving me a break, letting me sleep or shop or do what I want. Yesterday we had a date too! But not with each other...I took Riley out, for a "double date" with her bestie, Gracie, and her mom, and Joe and Dave went to McDonalds and the park, just the two of them. You just don't know how much that one-on-one means till you are actually doing it! Riley was tickled to be out having a "girl's night" - she and Gracie were thick as thieves during the movie (How to Train Your Dragon 2 - soo good - I really enjoyed it. Oh, and so did Riley). Then we went to lunch and the park (Riley and Gracie mostly ditched us there, but that's ok - we adults like to talk too), and then Riley and I went shopping for new pajamas but she was more interested in a my little pony journal and pen set so we got that. 

I have such fond memories of one-on-one dates with my mom or dad. I remember going for ice cream with Dad and then he took me to the toy store after and I got to pick out a Pound Puppy - I couldn't have been more than eight...teen. :) And then, later, a lunch date with mom followed by hours at JoAnne's picking out fabric and a pattern for a prom dress. It must have been difficult for them to organize dates with each of their 8 children, when time and money were both in high demand, but you know what: THANK YOU, Mom! THANK YOU, DAD! I will never forget those times and how you went out of your way to make me feel special.

Oh, one last thing - some pictures from Dave's trip to Seattle. There is a chance we'll be moving there next year (so far! But so cool!). Dave stayed with mission buddy, Mike and his wife, Shayla and their two little ones, which he really enjoyed, and he also got to check out the city a little. 'Bout near got hit in the face with a fish at the Seattle Fish Market, which he visited mostly for me since I've seen it on the Food Network enough to be weirdly star-struck about it. The things we do for the people we love! (that was a shout out to Patti Smith, who went with Joe to an 8-hour bluegrass festival this weekend. Ah, so much love :).
 Mike and Shayla's baby is just a few weeks old, and Dave took a picture for me. Sooo sweet. Makes my uterus feel a little dusty.

Too much?

Good night then!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Afton Orchard

Saturday was another perfect fall day. So perfect, in fact, that I turned down a "mommy's morning off" when Dave and some other dudes take the kids for an outing without us for a morning. Some days, I would be all about that, but this particular Saturday was meant for a a fall outing with the ones I love the best!

We decided to head to Afton, after a good 30 seconds of debate in the car before we hit the freeway. Right or left? Right! No, left! It is a little far but we went last year and loved it, and with this gorgeous weather, you don't mind driving a little ways. Afton is primarily an apple orchard but also has some great pumpkin and raspberry patches, playgrounds, petting zoo, hay ride, kiddy cow train, a cider press, store/restaurant/bakery, and a corn maze (might not be part of the property, actually, but they at least share a parking lot). It is a great place to revel in the season. Don't mind if I do!

There was this ghost lady in the field we thought maybe was there as part of the Halloween theme, but turns out, she just dresses like that. She was there to buy a pumpkin.

 Oh yeah, did I mention the pile of tires to play on? It's a big pile. Which leads us to the "kids jumping off stuff" portion of this post.

Apple donuts. This is at least 34% why I visit these places. The apple donuts are to die for. Says me. Dave couldn't care less!

I also got a pumpkin to try but it was just 'meh' - tasted it just like regular pumpkin bread rolled in sugar. But the apple are so moist, with little chunks of spiced apples throughout. Yummo. I'm not sure if they are as yummo as the ones we had at Apple Jacks last year - those left an impression! I might have to make a trip this week to compare. Someone should.
 Three hours later and the babies were about ready to conk out, but we stuck around for the magic show. Magic Morti, maybe? He was funny, but the kids didn't get it - slight of hand is lost on them.

I am so thankful for days like this. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday, out of the city air and crunching leaves under your feet, celebrating the season. If I had to find one flaw it would be when Joe pointed at a rather round lady with an orange sweatshirt and yelled, "Great! Pumpkin!" I don't think she heard him, but you can be sure I hustled him away quickly before I told him that people aren't pumpkins. They have been watching too much Charlie Brown, perhaps. 

But the rest of the day went off without a hitch. The kids had a blast, even with their runny noses - which also are celebrating the season! Cold season. We spent most of Sunday and Monday inside, downing the liquids to try and get these babies better. We did take a short walk though yesterday and it felt like a gift - perfect temperature, and just walking with the stroller is very theraputic for us all. Then we got home and Joe fell asleep on the couch while I was making chicken soup for dinner. He was so tired, and Riley didn't know what to do without her playmate. She stayed kneeling in front of him trying to wake him up till I stopped her, and even then, she sat there pretending to have a hot cocoa party with him, pouring fake mug-fulls and making all sorts of small talk with his comatose form. That girl! She loves to talk. 

Wonder where she gets it from?