Friday, September 30, 2011

Thankfully Max was feeling better today as we had plans to meet up with my friend Amy and her two girls. It was cold for the park today so while we did stay there for an hour and a half, I spent most of my time chasing the kids to keep warm.

But I did get this picture. I thought it was cute and since I'm practicing new settings on my camera it was fun to try to figure out how to get the shot to work with the sun directly behind the teddy bear.

No, definitely not professional worthy, but it was still fun to play around! I think I found a new favorite hobby, next to books of course but certainly ahead of cooking. And by favorite hobby, I mean I'm actually enjoying trying to improve my photography skills instead of just taking a bunch of pictures in hopes to get one good shot. I'm aiming for better odds!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

There should be a law that states, "When one visits a zoo, one should expect a child to fall ill the next day." Seriously you guys? How is it that every time we go to the zoo one of my kids get sick?

So today we're hanging out inside, making bigger messes then is necessary, and trying not to get on each other's nerves. Hopefully tomorrow will bring healthier children.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today called for a beautiful, 77 degree day. So I loaded up the kids and we headed out to the Minnesota Zoo! (Caution, adorable pictures ahead.)

The kids and I posed outside the zoo next to one of the many statues. Hello giant bison!

While we were on a walk outside we came upon the prairie dogs and I told the kids to look at the camera through the glass. They took that as a "smash your face against the dirty glass and don't think about all the germs" type of pose. Pretty sure I'm in love.

We stopped to visit the farm on the zoo and we even got to watch a cow being milked. Max is showing off his ability to moo like a cow.

We also got to check out the new Penguin exhibit. It was actually pretty anti climatic for how much advertising has been done regarding this new exhibit. But the kids still had fun checking them out. Rory got to get up close to two of them.

Becca and Conan met up with us at the zoo later in the morning. Obviously I was pumped to get to spend some more time with her since we had just hung out last weekend, and Conan was an adorable flirt with his big blue eyes. The kids were acting like monkeys while watching the cute red butted baboons out the window. (Or at least, I think that is what they were.)

I love this picture of the kids. They are watching the dolphin swim overhead. My pictures really would not focus while we were in the aquarium (hello, I want a dSLR Dusty), but this one is pretty cool looking.

Oh, hello giant fish, how about a high five to the mouth?!

Becca and I have decided that Conan and Rory will be married when they're older. What? You can't arrange marriages anymore? But how am I supposed to guarantee that Becca and I will get to be related someday? Well the good news is that we have yet to figure out who owes which family what yet, so maybe we aren't breaking any laws...

And this last picture is sort of an inside joke with Max, Rory and I. You see, a long time ago we read a Panda book from the library and it talked about how Panda's ate bamboo. At the time, I would yell out "Yuck!" as soon as I'd read that part and tell them that bamboo was yucky. It got carried away after that and now we like to ask each other if we want bamboo sandwiches, bamboo ice cream, you get the picture. So imagine Max and Rory's surprise when I told them that the potted plant they were walking around was actually bamboo! So we had a little fun with the plant and they decided to "lick it like ice cream" for the picture.

It was a great day at the zoo and a perfect way to spend a much warmer then average fall day. I mean who's going to complain about spending the day at the zoo? And better yet? I got to spend some time with one of my favorite Mommy friends! Now we just need to get them to bed a little bit earlier since naps were skipped. Anyone want to come help us out with that?

Monday, September 26, 2011

We had a great time at Rory's birthday party yesterday! Rory did amazing and was happy and accommodating, I couldn't have asked for a girl in a better mood. Both her and Lyla let me crunch up their hair with a little mousse and snap it to the side with a clip. Then we had a photo shoot where I'd snap a picture, then they'd look at it, then they'd go back for another picture so they could look at that one. I didn't get to practice my new photo skills much yesterday since I was busy running the party but I'm really happy with this picture. In fact, I'm a little giddy about it.

Meanwhile, outside, Daddy was letting Max try out the pellet guns. I was not thrilled but at least Max had some styling safety goggles!

Also? I spent hours working on these cupcakes. But they turned out pretty cute, so I guess it was worth it. (Note: It wasn't. I don't like cake and if I won't eat it why do I bother? Those kids are spoiled I tell you.)

We put on our party hats to sing happy birthday to Rory. Even baby Nora participated!

Of course we sang and Rory blew out the candle. Thanks to my angle and the lighting my pictures turned out horrible after this one, so this is all I have of the birthday girl and her candle.

And there were of course present to be had. Here she is modeling the new rain boots, tricycle and bike helmet she received. She was a very happy girl and of course, very spoiled in all her great gifts!

I made everyone run outside for a group shot before dinner. While there was certainly some grumbling I have to tell you it was so worth it. I hope I do this every time so then I know I have a picture of everyone that attended the party. What a great memory! (Remember you can click to make the image bigger.)

Thank you to everyone that attended, we had a great time celebrating Rory's birthday with you. And thank you to everyone that sent her birthday wishes, our children are loved by so many!

See this beautiful dress? And that shiny scarf on Auntie Ta-Ta? 

You should check out where they both came from. (Love you Brookey, your work is amazing.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I picked up my niece yesterday so she could stay the night with us and help us prepare for Rory's birthday party today. Little did she know, she'd be cleaning windows with her cousins.

Just for the record, they were thrilled and thought it was so fun they were mad when the window was clean. And by clean, I mean completely full of streaks. Totally worth it!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A couple weeks ago I purchased Mamarazzi: Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids because I've been getting more and more interested in photography. I'm 2 chapters in and already so excited about the little bits I've learned. For those of you that are artistic, unlike me, you're probably well aware of the Rule of Thirds. But I wasn't, and it's already got me excited to try, so the kids and I headed to the park and I practiced getting my kids into those thirds, with the help of my camera's preset lines that I never used before! (The lighting, focus, everything else is not at the degree I'd like, hence needing to read more!)

I'm already excited about this new knowledge and how obvious it was yet I didn't know it. Last night I sat in bed disappointed because I'd really like to take a class where there is a teacher that looks at your work and shows you how to improve it. I figured I'd look into it some more when I got a moment and lo-and-behold this morning Groupon was offering a 2 hour photography class specifically for moms!

You guys? It was my sign! So I'm going to take a 2 hour class and see where that gets me. Maybe I can find a photography class at nights? Maybe I can start saving to buy a DSLR camera so I have even crisper pictures? I am so dang excited I just had to share!

P.S. If you're interested in the class, sign up! What a steal! I can't promise we can all go to the same class but we can sure try to get it to work out. My goal for now? Get the class and the book read before the holidays so I can have some AMAZING photos!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Remember how I talked about how great my kids were, that they rarely fought and usually just moved on when one of them was bothering the other one? Yeah, that stage has passed. The fighting, hitting, screaming and crying stage that, I understand, will continue for many years to come? It's here. So I went online to find some crafting ideas since it's getting too cold to send the kids outside when they drive me crazy.

So out came the paints and Mom's cutting skills.

We even got a scraper involved as I saw this on one of the craft idea sights.

And voila, a pretty banner for the birthday party this weekend!

Now, to decorate some cupcakes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've got some stories to share again today. You know, those small stories that are sure to make you laugh or just beam with pride at how big these two kiddos are getting. Well, at least that is what they do for me.

To start, we had Rory's 3 year check up today. She is doing awesome and was very excited to show off her big girl undies to our pediatrician! She weighed 28 lbs, putting her in the 74th percentile for her age. She was 2' 11.5" putting my tall girl in the 90th percentile, and we already knew she was really smart with all her talking but her head was in the 98th percentile at 19.75"! What a big girl we have, and we couldn't be more proud.

Rory has also developed a small sarcastic attitude. I mean, she's 2, not 14. The other night, Max wouldn't give her a kiss goodnight. So Rory stomped off to her bedroom, turned around just outside her door and yells out "I love you Buddy." And it was the most direct, sarcastic voice I've ever heard her use. I started laughing and I hear Max yell back, "I love you Rory." As if she was not trying to be mean. Typical male. (Sarcasm applied.)

Max has continued on his streak of sneaking things into his bed after we have gone downstairs. We usually find an apple or apple core lying in his bed in the morning if he does it. But we've also been surprised by the salt shaker (what a mess) and wrappers from fruit snacks. I wonder what we'll find next?

Another Rory story, because she's been so dang funny lately, has to do with potty training. Whenever she announces she has to go to the potty, she'll stand up right where she is and drops her pants. So anybody that is in the room? Gets to watch Rory's little naked butt shaking from side to side as she waddles to the bathroom. And I assure you, it is hilarious.

My last story, actually makes fun of me, because I can be a funny girl too you know. Dusty and I are always arguing about the fact that I take hot showers. And by hot, I mean steam is usually rolling out of the shower and the warm water tends to disappear after I've been in there. So imagine my surprise this weekend when I turn around to see the meat thermometer poked into my shower and aimed at the shower head! I could have killed that man for his little scare had he not triumphantly declared, 108 degrees shortly after I found him. Seriously people, 108 degrees at the top of the shower, it cools down by at least 8 degrees by the time it hits my body. Don't mind the scalding red marks on my chest and back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You guys? Take a moment to let it sink and and laugh a little with me.

Yup, that is Rory, showing off that she is two years old today. The baby girl that only a year ago was just learning how to show us the sign for "more" is talking and walking and jumping and running full speed ahead!

At the playroom at the gym today she got a special sticker to let everyone know it is her birthday and after we picked up Max from preschool we stopped at the cafe next door to order a nice lunch to celebrate. It's funny, while I know she is just turning two and it's a big milestone, I also am shocked that she is only turning two because she has just seemed so much older then that for such a long time now. I mean, she has grown by leaps and bounds this year you guys. She was signing a year ago! If you've ever met Rory you would have a hard time believing that with how much the girl talks now.

I can't wait to celebrate her birthday this weekend with the family! Cupcakes, cousins, and lots of people that love her. What more can a girl ask for?!

We love you baby girl. You make us prouder and prouder every day!

P.S. She is definitely Cochran, did you not see the shocker picture in the pictures above? I love that silly girl!

Monday, September 19, 2011

This weekend we went out and bought Rory some big girl underwear. Since our weekend was so hectic this required everyone going to the store so there were lots of opinions as to which character Rory should get. We finally settled on the Hello Kitty undies and left the store. Twenty minutes later, Rory had her first accident in 3 days. Of course, we were at another store buying stuff for our yard and she really hasn't done a lot of errand shopping while potty training, but I still found it a little ironic.

Fast forward to later that day, we get home and I realize I bought the wrong sized underwear! Where I thought Rory would fit into a 4T I have no idea. I blame it on the rush to get in and out and on our way. So guess who had to go back to the store to get the right size? Yup. And this time I left them all in the car while I ran in. (You do realize I mean Daddy and the kids, right?) Of course the kitty cat underwear were not in Rory's size, but I was able to find some Mickey Mouses and she didn't seem to mind when I showed them to her.

So as of last night, Rory is now in big girl undies. Well, unless we are going somewhere. I'm a bit lazy this time around and have no desire to carry around an extra change of pants. At least not yet. I think we'll give her a week and see how she does in the new undies at home and for short errands first before converting full time. And maybe, just maybe, I'm trying to keep my little baby the baby she is just a little bit longer. I plead the fifth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Today Max and Rory had a special treat. First off, their Daddy is home from work today and secondly, Uncle Randy dropped off Maya this morning to play with us. Since it was still pretty chilly this morning I was able to convince Dusty not to work on the garage this morning and instead to take us to a new place to try out some fishing.(And also some photos.) Say hello to the Apple River!

We didn't catch a single fish but it was still fun to be there and the kids got to throw rocks in the water while Maya ran up and down the shoreline.

Dusty got a little excited casting and got his lure stuck in a tree on the other side. Look at that mountain man, scaling sharp rocks in pursuit of a three dollar lure.

I love that he just waded in, clothes and all, the kids and I got to laugh at his feeble attempt to use a stick to find shallow water!

And lastly, Maya was hilarious. There was a downed tree and she just kept attacking it thinking she'd be able to walk off with this tree as her new stick. What a silly puppy!

It was a nice morning together, and we were even able to take some family photos that will probably be used for our holiday card this year. (Thanks for the tripod Mom!) A perfect relaxing morning after all the craziness of yesterday. Tonight? Dusty and I are going out to celebrate our wedding anniversary. A day early but I'm just happy we were able to find a night to ourselves to celebrate the best decision Dusty ever made!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

So last night, Dusty and I went to bed with the understanding that there may be some frost overnight and some of our crops may not make it. Imagine our surprise when we woke up and found that even the water in our hose was frozen! So much for that frost, Dusty heard that it dropped down to twenty two degrees last night.

We pretty much lost everything. No green beans from our garden this year. All those beautiful peppers that were just starting to turn red and yellow? Lost. Needless to say, I'm just a little sick about it.

Look at my hydrangeas! Would you believe they were still mostly white yesterday?!

And here's a look at one of the jalapeno plants. Obviously the leaves shouldn't be black and wilted.

So today I spent the day trying to use up as much of the veggies that we could save. I roasted a ton of peppers and tomatillos. I cut up onions and peppers and froze them. I even shredded zucchini. Hopefully we can score some of the missing veggies at the farmer's market this weekend. I'd really like to can some green beans if nothing else this year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I lied, there will not be any pictures posted of Max at his swimming lesson. After taking my camera and snapping a picture a parent warned me that they don't allow you to take pictures or even use your cellphone while in the pool area. Apparently people were complaining about the pictures being posted online. Oops. So, while I did snap one picture (and I'm keeping it, dang it) I won't be posting it. I do believe we can take pictures during the swimmers' showcase at the end.

Swimming lessons did not start out as smoothly as preschool had. The first 15 minutes I sat in the bleachers and watched my son refuse to get in the water outside of sitting on the side of the pool. So I finally walked over there, did some Mama magic, and he got in the water and participated for the second half of the class. Seriously? The boy who leaps off the dock into the water didn't want to get into the pool? I know, I was a bit shocked too. We'll see how his second class goes later this week.

Thankfully I did snap a couple cute pictures yesterday afternoon. We have a few apple trees that are still pretty young but one of them had some apples so we set out to pick them with Daddy.

And afterwards I turned them into a delicious apple crisp!

Nothing like apple crisp for dessert to remind you that fall has started. Of course, this below 60 degree weather today doesn't really allow you to pretend summer is still here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OK family and friends, I have a small request to ask and hopefully some of you will feel moved to do it. (I'm really not expecting everyone to.) Max has become our resident mailman. He walks to the mailbox every afternoon after his nap to get the mail. He gets so excited when he finds a card in the mail even though they are usually addressed to me. He has to open them to see what it looks like and who sent it and if we can we even point out the picture on our refrigerator. (Yes, I keep all my Christmas and Birth announcement pictures on the fridge and clean it off at the end of each year to make room for the new ones. It's a great way to feel surrounded by family. Now that you know that, be sure to send your picture this year!)

No, requesting your picture was not the actual request. Requesting mail for my son was. If you have an old card laying around, can you spare the 44 cents and send Max a little note? I promise you he will be required to send a return letter, so you can look at it as an investment since you're sure to get one of Max's masterpieces in return. (No, I don't think he's Picasso, just work with me here.)

And that's it. I should have pictures tomorrow of Max at his first swim lesson, so be excited! And thanks in advance to anyone that takes up my request!

Monday, September 12, 2011

While the funeral was depressing, we did manage to have some fun too. The kids had a great time spending the night at GG's. They got to feed the fish, eat pizza and snacks, watch Buzz Lightyear and Rory even got to spend the night in GG's bed with her. (OK, maybe I threw her in there after she refused to fall asleep and was threatening to wake Max up, but hey, it worked.) GG loves showing the kids her fish in her pond and point out that Daddy wired it so that the waterfall and crane worked.

Friday evening the kids spent the night at Dido and Grammy's while Dusty and I headed to the Walker Family Benefit. We had a nice evening with my parents and Andrea, and a bunch of friends from high school that we hadn't seen in a very long time.

Saturday was spent taking care of errands and watching Maya. Rory is obsessed with Maya and would not leave her alone. Poor Maya just had to put up with her!

Sunday we had Grammy, Dido and Auntie Rosie over to celebrate Grammy's birthday since we were at the lake for her actual birthday. Don't worry, the kids and I made cupcakes and sang, and Grammy did a great job going along with all of the fun!

This week I'm trying not to make many plans. Between Rory's tumbling class and Max's preschool and swim lessons we've got a full week on our hands. And the kids have a bit of sleep to catch up on after all the adventures from last week. Here's hoping for a calm week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yesterday was a hard day; the funeral for my Great Uncle Andy. His death was sudden and unexpected and left everyone a bit shocked. The kids and I headed to GG's Wednesday where we spent the night with her and the kids did a great job of distracting her. What with their refusal to go to bed and constant need for GG's affection.

Thursday we drove the 3 hours to the funeral. I didn't get to see much of the services as the kids were overtired and wound up from being in the car so we spent most of the service outside. The visit to the grave site was somber, until the kids showed up with Max and Rory running right in front of the pastor and Rory yelling "Hey Guys!" to the group when we got there. Thankfully it led to some much needed laughs. (Even if Mom was mortified at first.)

Afterward we all headed back to the house where we got to talk and visit with cousins and second cousins (and even thirds or seconds once removed, however that works.) It was a beautiful day and so nice to get to visit with so much family we never get to see enough of. It was a bit surreal, and soon enough we were on our way back to bring GG home and then head home ourselves.

I'm exhausted today, emotionally and physically. You will be missed Andy. And if you could send a couple big fish Max and Dusty's way, they'd really appreciate it.

Andy's obituary, if you'd like to know more about this great man:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This labor day weekend we headed up to the lake house. Unfortunately it was cold, cloudy and even sometimes rainy while we were there so it didn't make for a good end of the summer celebration. We made the most of it though.

Dusty and Max went and picked up pizza, via boat. Which always makes for some good stories and smiles.

We convinced Bano to go wakeboarding in the cold since he hadn't gone yet this year.

There were not many fish biting but Max made sure to at least snag something with his hook.

And of course, there were long luxurious bubble baths to be had.

So while we didn't get to lay around in the sun as we had hoped, we still had a pretty good time!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

So today was Max's first day of preschool. Yesterday while we got his backpack ready for school and talked about all the fun things he would do I started to tear up. Now, I'm not opposed to crying, but I was completely blown away as I had only been excited since we signed him up. So then I got nervous, and that night, I started to tear up again thinking about it. I mean, what if I started crying in front of Max and got him upset?

Thankfully that morning started out great! Max and I snuggled in bed like every morning then we got up for some cereal and to get Rory from her crib. We got ready and then we waited. Yup, we were ready to go at least a half hour before we had to leave. So I sent my excited boy outside where we took picture after picture after picture to distract him. And he was so proud he actually cooperated. I mean, look at this happy child!

Oh and that arm you see? That would be Rory.

Who insisted on finding a bag she could bring to Max's preschool. Because little sister has to be like big brother, right? And how can you not love her for being so excited too?

Max continued to tell Dusty and I how he was going to take the bus to school, and we continued to tell him that Rory and I would be bringing him to school, there would be no bus. I made sure to point out that he got to open the doors. And don't worry, he took his duty very seriously and made sure we all stood back while he yanked and pulled at those doors!

And lets focus on this backpack for a minute. You see, Max and I made a special shopping trip together, just the two of us, to get all his school supplies which included his backpack. Max has been looking forward to having a backpack for at least 6 months as he knew he'd get to have one when he went to school. So when they didn't have the Buzz Lightyear backpack Max wanted at the store? I gave him the option to either pick one out that was already there and he could bring it home that day or we could quick order a Buzz Lightyear backpack that the delivery man would have to bring to our house later. Five days after I sat down in the middle of the backpack aisle and helped Max pick out his backpack he is tearing into the box that came just for him.

Max did great when we dropped him off at preschool, we said goodbye, I told him I'd pick him up at lunch time and we turned and left. No tears, no screaming, he ran to play with the big trucks and Mama walked out with Rory. I may have teared up a bit on the walk to the car but it was short lived. And when we got back and picked Max up? I got the biggest kiss ever from him, and Rory even got a hug. I think it's going to be a great school year!