Saturday, June 25, 2016

Riley turns 5 (x3)

Riley had a bunch of birthday parties. Like, three of them. Everyone wanted to celebrate with her because they don't usually get to. She didn't mind.

Riley loves being 5. Inspired by this article, I started giving her more responsibility in the kitchen and she is totally game because, "I'm 5 so I can do this now!" It's a great motivator! Yes I'm a little stunned that she will start school in just a couple months (now that makes my heart jump right into my throat. A couple of months!?) but she will take it by storm, that girl. She is so sweet and enthusiastic and friendly. She loves making friends - lots of little kids all over the complex know her name, just from the park or pool, because she wants to play with all of them! Lol, an older boy, maybe eight or nine years old, was doing flips around a bar on the playground and Riley went over and joined him. He was painfully shy but she just chatted companionably and admired his speed of flip. :)

Well, it is way past my bedtime. But here's one more thing, and it's a treat :) (I think so, anyway - you grandparents out there definitely will). It's Riley's first dance recital! Grandma's ballerina outfit made her feel so legit that she made some tickets, ordered flowers (thanks, Ant Ander!), with specific instructions to the audience to "throw them at her" when she finished, and made me play her a dozen "ballet songs" before she found the perfect fit. We all thoroughly enjoyed it - it was just a lovely evening. Uncle Jon and his clan caught the second showing when they came a couple days later.

Without further adieu:

I wish I could get in her head and see what she sees. A darkened stage, probably, spellbound crowd, armfuls of roses and who knows what else. You definitely get a sense of grandeur just in her demeanor... like she is a the star of all the shows. I let her watch some youtube videos of ballerinas and one of them was in Russia, about what it takes for young girls to get into ballet school, and so I had to read the subtitles to her and Joe, as the people were speaking Russian. One of the mother's said, "Every mother wants her daughter to be a prima ballerina." As soon as I read that, Riley perked up and said, "is that true? Do you want me to be a ballerina?" I think she really really wants to please me. Of course, I told her I want her to find joy in life, and if she liked dancing, she should, but there are many things she could do, not just ballerina...blah, blah, blah. I was on the spot. But I hope she knows I will always love her and be proud of her just for who she is and her good heart. That is something like what I tried to tell her after, but I think she is more excited about the challenge to be a ballerina. :)

Happy birthday, you awesome kid!

Em Takes MN

Last week I got to take the kids to visit their Grandma and Grandpa McClure in VA. Em came to assist me on our flights. Luckily, or someone undoubtedly would have gotten lost in the airport (Joe) or ripped out their hair in frustration (me), as the journey there was not the smoothest. But it was worth it! I love going home to the place I grew up with the people I grew up with. And best part was: introducing Handsome Henry in the flesh. He was charmed by both his grandparents, as well as aunts, uncle, a cousin, a great-grandma and great aunt.

So obviously I have a billion-hundred (as Joe would say) pictures to share. Onward!

Boom Island park picnic and evening stroll
Em got in Sunday afternoon so we had to make the most of the rest of the evening. We packed a picnic (fried chicken, grapes, cheetos, and powdered donuts - Dad would have been proud!) and headed out to one of our favorite picnic spots: Boom Island Park. It has a nice playground and riverside walk as well as a fantastic view of Minneapolis. We also got to see...drumroll...a little red caboose! We stood on an overpass and watched it go under, Riley and Joe cheering and singing, "Little red ca-BOOSE!" at the top of their lungs. We also got to collect some gravel...Joe filled his pockets so heavily that his pants unsnapped and started to fall down! That squirrely boy, he just loves to collect things. Especially rocks. Future geologist perhaps?

Como Zoo and Conservatory
Monday we went to the zoo. It was, well a zoo! Hot and muggy to boot but we soldiered on!

Em made some real headway with baby Henry.

Lake Como
After our VA visit, before Em had to go back, we took her to walk around lake Como, stopping at the restaurant on the shore for beniets (sopapillas).
Nevermind how the double stroller broke and we had to leave it there, or how Joe lost his beloved "Moosie" and I had to run halfway around the lake (NOT in running clothes either...) only to find it later, in the car by the carseat. Or that my GPS was wigging out and led us NOT to the airport, and then TO the airport but I was too confused and, long story short, Em missed her flight and had to fly back the next morning...Yeah, that day actually was kind of a bummer. But the lake was beautiful! The company was lovely. And the beniets get two thumbs up!

Thanks for coming Em! It was so fun to show you our neck of the woods. Come any time! Or else! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day 2016!

I'm blessed with a bunch of good dad's in my life. My goodness. First of all: my Dad dad - the very best of examples of what a Dad should be and how to live life, full of wisdom and "dad" jokes and always generous when it comes to other peoples faults and shortcomings. If we ever didn't get along, I don't remember it.  Then there is Don, who made me feel totally part of the family, is caring and concerned for all his children and the most attentive of grandfather's, loves unconditionally and always available to help anyone and everyone in need. My brothers and brothers-in-law are excellent fathers and inspire me with their devotion to their families and the joy they show in their roles as dads. The Texas contingent, Gary, who I don't know as well but who always spoils the kids with scooters and presents and always so happy to hear about our crazy life.  Joe, kindness itself, and wisdom and humor and heart. Our mission presidents, our dad friends...dads to look up to and admire.

And then of course, there's Dave, whose fatherhood I have had the pleasure of seeing develop from day one and have adored every minute of it. Nothing, not nothing, is more attractive than the way Dave loves, cares and provides for his kids - I could want nothing more for them in a Dad. He is so good, and so fun, and we thank God for him everyday.

Thank goodness for Dads! They have such a huge impact. We love you!

Here's to the dads!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

We moved!

There's been some murmuring amongst Grandparents at the lack of activity on this blog, so...give the people what they want :). Even if you have to get up at 6am on a Saturday morning to find the time (not that I could have gone back to sleep anyway). Um...we moved to MN. New baby, new job, and a move! 3 of the 5 major stressors! I know that we're not that special - a lot of people in our stage of life are doing this. And it certainly is exciting, the time has absolutely flown by. Keeping up is a challenge! We've been in our new home for almost three weeks and still have boxes laying around waiting to be unpacked. But we're chipping away! When we moved the first time we got rid of most of our furniture so we've been trolling Craigslist and thriftstores (which, admittedly, we love to do) and we just got a new couch set which I'm super excited about (you try fitting a family of 5 on one recliner for three weeks! haha!) so things are coming together. Just be prepared for some chaos if you visit us anytime soon!

Dave loves his new job and his co-workers are cool. He has already gotten back with his hockey team and played a game at an indoor rink.

Riley is having a ball being a big sister to not 1 but 2 brothers - turns out it's not as hard as she was worried it would be. Her outfit of choice: ballerina leotards and tutus. We gotta get that girl in dance! Although she also loves playing soccer with me, so... we can still connect on that level :D.

Joe had a growth spurt and nothing fits him anymore, but luckily, he likes tight pajamas. He is still allll boy. Lots of feats of strength and tackles and charging head first around the playground. And hallway and store and everywhere. He, too, loves having a little brother, but we tend to protect Henry a little from his brand of love. "Don't high five the baby's belly!" If at anytime I am busy in another room than Joe and I can't see what he's up to, it is generally still safe to yell, "Be gentle!" and have that be useful advice. It's something I say a lot. "I'm ok, Mom!" is something they say a lot.

Me, I'm doing well and loving reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. I'm already a visiting teacher at church and I've joined a mommy's play group. I did have a case of mastitis, that was fun (underwire bras while nursing...just don't do it.) But I'm recovered from birthing now and exercise-approved, which is awesome. I can't wait to be strong again! Was preeetty useless moving that beast of a couch in the other night.

In pictures:
Leaving UT. It was sad to say goodbye to all our awesome people. We are grateful to have such awesome people in our life to say goodbye to!

The drive from UT to MN is about 20 hours, and I have to say, the kids were champs, it could have been so much worse! But, we ate our gummi worms and played games ("I spy with my little eye..."), sang songs, and watched movies on the tablet. And Aunt Emmy, bless her heart, gave the kids their own road trip bags full of little toys and games and spending money, which they have been trying to give me ever since haha. We planned to stop at Mt. Rushmore but didn't reach it till late at night so we just drove by it and I have to say: Mt. Rushmore at night = creepy. Seeing the white, floating in the darkness heads of dead presidents...not my thing. We had to wake the kids up to see it because we told them about it and they'd been excited and all Riley said was, "Huh. I'm going back to sleep now, ok?" Maybe next time we do the UT road trip we'll stop there, and this time try for better timing.

Once we got to MN, we stayed with Beth and Tom while we house hunted and God bless them - they were so gracious to have us, with our energetic little kids and 2 week old newborn baby. We celebrated Mother's day there (Tom's a good cook!) and Don visited for a couple days (missing us bad, I know. Nevermind about visiting your mother because it was Mother's day :)

After a couple weeks we found a great apartment in White Bear Lake and moved in! After having most of our stuff in storage for the past year, it was like Christmas for Riley and Joe, rediscovering their old toys. (And like an episode of hoarders for me. Who needs these many toys! We dropped off a lot of stuff - toys, clothes, shoes, etc - at the donation center. Living on less has been really good for us this past year, I do believe.)

Dinner on our first night in our new home: McDonalds, eaten on a miniature picnic table. Riley and Joe's table was the only table we had for the first week or so :) PS: they didn't really eat - too excited running around exploring the new digs.

 Kisses from Riley and Joe from MN
That time I decided cuddling > unpacking.
This place was a war zone. It will make the "after pictures" look that much better :) Oh, and everyone was on their phone.
 Miscellaneous other:
Henry in Sunday best, circa 6 weeks.
 Memorial Day babies, born a month apart.
 Baking muffins, playing twister.

Will Henry have blue or brown eyes? Looking like Team Blue!
 Dave's been busy painting furniture, including this new bunk bed for the kids! Lots of "Rapunzel "play at work!

Girls day - icecream, shopping, and Choo Choo Bobs. The boys went to see Zootopia. Joe says the toilet scene is hilarious!

 Scored this sweet reproduction of Sunflowers at the thrift store that needed some work on the back of it's frame, and when we took it apart we found this old timey marriage certificate, missing the pictures, hidden in the back. 1907! Ernest and Nellie of Pocahontas County, Iowa, how cute are you, hiding your marriage certificate in this painting only to forget about it or have one of your careless offspring lose it. But I thought it was pretty cool, was seriously freaking out.

Well, my family is awake now and it's Saturday morning, pancake morning, so I'm done!

One more thing, luckily made last night: a video of lots of happy moments in our new home (it's not really MN-specific - we don't get out much yet, so could be's mostly just moments that make me smile.)