Monday, January 2, 2017

New basement!

We finally had our basement finished after living here for almost 7 years.  Unfortunately, we didn't save a lot of money by doing much ourselves, but it did get done very quickly with our great contractor.  We did all of the painting, and my uncle did our doors and trim.  We love it all!!  Here are some pictures of the final product (most before furniture):

Doorway to storage area

Hallway to bathroom/playroom/bedroom

Under stairs room for more storage

Bedroom closet

Blinds in family room

Blinds in bedroom

Guest bedroom

Bedroom closet

Playroom

Door to under-stair storage

Wet bar

Family room

Playroom closet

Empty guest bedroom

New (amazing!) couch and TV

Bathroom

Winter Break

While this has been one of the longest winter breaks I've had/will have, it has also felt like it's gone incredibly fast!  It was a good mix of busy/slow, family/friends, and lots of time relaxing and enjoying our newly finished basement.

I got a surprise early start to my break on Friday, the 16th, when school got out an hour early due to snow (Abby was out 2 hours early).  Dave was able to pick up the girls, and we all made it home before the roads got bad.  That evening, we had a Christmas party to go to down at a neighbor's house.  

Saturday morning, our driveway was luckily plowed out by a neighbor so we could make the slow drive to Christmas program practice.  Dave worked that day, but the girls and I enjoyed the afternoon at home/playing with neighbor friends.  On Sunday was the girls' Christmas program.  Because of the weather, Dave's parents stayed home, but my parents came over for the second service.  Dave came to the first, but then had to go into work.  Abby was a reader, and did a great job!  Norah was an angel, and did great the first service, but definitely lost interest toward the end of the second service.  We went out to lunch at Pizza Ranch with my parents after church, and they came over to our house for a little bit that afternoon.




Abby had school Monday, so Dave and I dropped Norah off at daycare and Abby at school, then headed up to Mall of America for some Christmas shopping and a "date day".  The shopping was a success, and we had fun riding the FlyOver America ride, and eating lunch at Burger Burger.  We had a little time to relax at home before picking up the girls.

On Tuesday, I was able to spend the afternoon in Abby's classroom helping with a 3-D snowflake project.  It was a lot of fun being on the other side of the classroom!  After school, we went to the orthodontist so she could get her expander out.  She'd had it in for about 4 months to correct a crossbite.  She got awesome news--no braces needed!  We had prepaid, so are waiting to get some money back soon!  That night, we drove to Jordan to see a house known for Christmas lights set to music--very fun to see!


Wednesday was a rare day just to myself.  Dave worked, Abby was at school, and Norah went to daycare.  It was the perfect day to clean, bake, get ready for Christmas, and relax.  That night, Abby had "Special Person's Night" at JAM, so since my brother was in town, he was able to join her.  We ate at Subway together before he took her to church.  Abby had a great time, and was so excited that Greg could join her.

Thursday was the girls' last day of school before their winter break.  I spent the morning in Norah's preschool classroom, hanging out/playing, and helping with a number bingo station.  We also sang/danced to some fun YouTube songs before I left.  Norah was sad, but they were having a pizza party for lunch, so I knew she'd perk up.  I went to lunch with my friend Kaysie, then we did some boutique shopping.  Fun girl time!  After Dave picked the girls up, we did our family Christmas at home.  We opened presents, had homemade pizzas, played, watch a movie, and slept on the new couch by the Christmas tree (all except Dave this year--he slept on the guest bed).  





Greg and RoseMary came to our house late Thursday night, and the rest of my family came later Friday morning.  After everyone finished wrapping gifts and we had lunch, it was time to open gifts.  The rest of the day we spent relaxing, playing, and eating.  Everyone spent the night at our house.

Saturday morning, we all got up and drove to Iowa.  Lunch was at my aunt and uncle's house for our Christmas Eve celebration with my mom's side of the family.  We had supper at my aunt Lori's house and got ready for church.  It was a late service, so when we got to Miriam and Scott's, the girls quickly put up their stockings and set out cookies/milk for Santa, then it was time for bed.










The girls were up and ready to see what Santa had brought by 7 Christmas morning.  Norah was excited to get Ginger, a Target-brand "American Girl" doll, and Abby had asked for a double stroller to fit her dolls in.  We had caramel rolls and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and when everyone was up and around later that morning, we opened gifts with my dad's side of the family.  We had a later meal that afternoon, and had some time to play, but our time was shortened because of the weather.  We decided not to stay another night, since it was supposed to get really windy and Dave had to work the next day.  It was a foggy/windy/dark ride home, but we made it and were happy to sleep in our own beds that night.









The week after Christmas was full of rare down time/time at home.  Dave worked part of Monday and part of Saturday, so was otherwise home with us.  The girls had some neighbor friends over Tuesday morning, and we went to see a movie and have dinner out on Tuesday afternoon/night.  The girls went over to a neighbor's house to play for much of the day on Wednesday.  Thursday, Abby had a dentist appointment and we met up with my friend Kristina and her kids to play at Edinborough Park.  In the afternoon, I took the girls to see "Moana".  On Friday afternoon, my parents came up and later on, so did my aunt, uncle, and cousin.  All but my mom and Norah went up to the Timberwolves game (my sister met up with us there) that night.  We had special tickets, so sat right up close for their practice time.  Our regular seats were pretty good as well.  It was such an exciting game!  That night, everyone but my sister spent the night at our house.

Saturday morning, Mara, Bryan, and Connor took off after a yummy breakfast (Mara taught Abby how to make omelettes).  My parents stayed and we had a lazy New Year's Eve.  The girls stayed up until about 10, and I think I dozed off for a few minutes around 11, but did see midnight.  It was a nice quiet night in, with yummy food, games, and a puzzle.  

Sunday morning, my parents took off after breakfast, and we ended up deciding to go up to the science museum after lunch.  We saw an omnitheater movie, and spent most of our time at a couple of exhibits that were closing the next day--one was full of mindbending puzzles and the other was a room full of cardboard, tape, markers, etc. where the girls could use their creativity to build anything.  After the museum, we went out to Punch Pizza for supper.  

Today was our last day of relaxation for a little bit!  Dave worked for a little bit this morning, and the girls went between our house and the neighbors to play for most of the day.  The "Winter" candle was burning on my kitchen island all day, making the house cozy.  We cleaned up and did some organizing while the girls were at the neighbors, and it was a sad night getting back into our routine of getting everything laid out for the next day, setting an alarm, and putting the girls to bed early.  We know we have a lot to look forward to--Christmas next weekend with Dave's family, Disney in just a few weeks--but we will truly miss the slower, relaxed pace of this winter break.  

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas in Albert Lea

Christmas with Dave's extended family came early this year--mid December.  The weather wasn't great, but Dave was able to get off of work early and drive us down for a late lunch.  Santa came, and the kids opened gifts.  Norah was definitely suspicious of Santa this year, and said, "that's Grandma".  We tried to convince her otherwise, but she was still pretty suspicious.  It was a quick afternoon, but fun to see everyone!






Saturday, December 3, 2016

Santa visits

The girls were able to visit with Santa a couple of times this year--once was our new tradition, taking the light rail up to downtown Minneapolis to Macy's early Thanksgiving week.  This year, all of our siblings were able to join us.  Greg had even flown in for Thanksgiving, so could join us.  We had fun walking through the elf village, meeting Santa, writing letters to Santa, and enjoying some yummy treats from the bakery.  This year, Norah asked for an American Girl doll named Ginger (actually a Target brand doll--Norah wanted her specifically because she wears a red dress).  Abby asked for a double doll stroller.  She really wanted an American Girl one, but when I showed her how short it would be, she and I found a taller one on Amazon.  She had to show Santa my phone to make sure he knew which one she wanted..  After our visit, Tracy even rode the light rail back with us until her stop at her apartment.







The first weekend of December, Dave's parents came up and went to see Santa with us at a local realtor's office.  Norah was excited that Mrs. Claus was there, too!  His parents came back to our house to make gingerbread houses with the girls that afternoon.