Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Birthday weekend

I am definitely a lucky girl--I had the chance to celebrate my birthday with lots of family over the weekend and had a great time.  On Friday, I woke up to some thoughtful gifts from Abby and Dave--they had made a video of them playing guitar and singing "Call me Maybe", made a card with several "coupons" enclosed for things like free chores, back rubs, 30 minutes of "mommy time", etc., and gave me a cute handmade purse/bag that I had admired at a craft fair.  After breakfast, we headed to Stillwater for the day.  Abby thoroughly enjoyed the Teddy Bear Park.  We ate lunch at Leo's Grill and Malt Shop (SO delicious!) and spent some time walking around and checking out a few shops.  We ended the Stillwater visit with one last visit to the park before heading down to Rochester.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect for our day!

We celebrated with my mom, brother, and sister that night--my mom made a delicious birthday meal and Abby and Dave made a yummy birthday cake.

On Saturday, my aunt Miriam and cousins Ben and Sarah came up for the weekend to hang out and play some games.  So much fun!  A new favorite this time was "We Didn't Playtest This At All" and we all enjoyed "Minute to Win it" on the Xbox 360/Kinect.  Abby and Norah loved the extra attention as well.

Miriam brought up an old sewing machine that had been at my grandma's for me to use for a project that I needed to work on.  After a sewing tutorial from Miriam, I was able to complete the project over the weekend and am excited to work on a few of the ideas I've pinned on Pinterest.  I definitely need more practice, but had fun picking out fabric and creating this "20-minute tote" bag for Abby today:

A couple more projects in the works soon--making the most of the time I have before school starts!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Watermelon Day

On Saturday, we had fun at Stanhope, Iowa's annual Watermelon Day.  We lucked out and had cooler, cloudy weather for the morning parade--even the few sprinkles we got felt nice after such a dry spell.  After the parade, Abby wanted to be sure to get right on the rides.  She's definitely a lucky girl--her great-uncle, great-grandma, and grandma all gave her some money for tickets, so she was all set for the day.  Over the course of the day, she rode the train and airplanes several times, and even tried the swings and bouncy house a few times, too.  She loved them all!  Another fun new thing for Abby this year was a nickel hunt--the police officers threw a bunch of nickels in a pile of sawdust, and had different age groups hunt for nickels for an allotted amount of time--a good way to earn money for more tickets, the duck pond, or the ring toss!

After lunch, Abby enjoyed "helping" my dad and aunt Miriam at the ring toss:

We're lucky to have a nice place to cool off and have lunch, right across the street from everything at my aunt Lori's.  Norah spent quite a bit of time there, and enjoyed hanging out with her buddy Trice, my cousin Megan's little guy.

We always enjoy the free watermelon, of course!

Abby usually doesn't like face-painters, but this year, she decided to get a watermelon painted on her arm like my sister and cousin Jessica:

Before they started closing up the rides, some of the cousins decided that it would be fun to all go for a train ride and take the babies on their first ride.  Luckily it didn't derail!  Then they thought it would be fun to go on the swings...seriously, I don't think I've gone on those since I was probably 10 years old...  They needed me to help balance it out since there were more adults than little kids, so I took Norah on her first swing ride.  We were definitely a little motion-sick afterwards and decided that something must happen as you get older, because we don't remember that from when we were kids.

I'm glad that the girls are getting in on some small-town fun, making memories like I did growing up!

Connor's visit

Last week was a busy week at our house--my cousin Connor (age 12) and Dave's parents' golden retriever Jessi stayed with us for the week.  I planned lots of fun, cheap/free activities to keep us busy, and Connor did an awesome job taking the time to play with and entertain Abby while we were at home.  Here is what we fit in during the week:

Monday:  Dave had the day off, so took Connor to Albert Lea to do some fishing--it was hot, but they had a good time!  To cool off, we went to the Northfield pool for their "Twilight Swim" (after 5:00, it's only $2.75 per person).  We all had a blast, and Abby was finally brave enough to jump off the side into our arms.  So brave that she told us she wanted to jump in by herself at the end.  We love this pool because of the zero-depth entry and the little splash pad area that you can go in even when they have the lifeguard break.

Tuesday:  In addition to lots of playing, Connor, Abby, and I baked chocolate chip cookies and we played out in our kiddie pool.  Dave and Connor took Abby to her first t-ball practice in the evening.  Abby also needed to turn in her completed summer reading log at the library, so she took Connor to help her pick out some new books there.

Wednesday:  We went to the free movie at the Lakeville theater, "Puss in Boots" with Abby's friend Olivia and her mom, Tiffany.  All of the kids enjoyed it, and Norah even did really well and ate/slept during it.  After a rainy afternoon and an unexpected cool-down, we went over to Tiffany's family's place for dinner and a swim.  We are so thankful that they invited us over--Connor and Abby had a blast, and Abby even tried the diving board once!

Thursday:  Dave took a floating holiday at work, so took Connor fishing in Dundas at the river.  After naptime, we headed out to the zoo for our bank's special night at the zoo--free admission to both the zoo and the dinosaur exhibit.  It was pretty crazy there--the most people we've ever seen there--and hot, but we still had a good time.  Abby enjoyed cooling off in the splash pad at the end, and we all enjoyed some yummy Raising Cane's chicken fingers on our way home.

Friday:  We went back to Tiffany's family's pool for another swim before Dave had to head to work.  After naptime, we loaded everyone up and met my parents in Owatonna, where they took Abby and Connor down to Iowa (we met up with them Saturday, since Dave had to work late).

We had a great time!  Connor kept Abby entertained, Jessi kept Sadie entertained, and we found some fun things to do throughout the week.  We're looking forward to planning Connor's visit for next summer!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Girls' cabin trip

Every summer for the past several years, my college friend Kristina and I have been taking a trip up to her family's cabin for a few days or a week--just the girls.  It started out being us and our dogs, then we added Abby for a few years.  This year we added two--Norah and Rhua, born just four days apart.  We weren't sure about how we'd get up there with one vehicle, but we made it!  Thank goodness for the extra row option in our car and the fact that all floor space in the back two rows was available.  The babies were well taken care of by Abby in the middle, and the dogs slept in the back row.

We enjoyed two full days up there--went to the beach to swim/picnic twice, went for a walk with the babies in Kristina's Chariot stroller and Abby in our Bob stroller, danced in the rain--the only little bit of rain the whole trip, played with the dogs by the dock/lake, played some games, relaxed, and I even managed to read a book while up there!

On Saturday, Kristina did a triathlon nearby, so her husband, Matt, came up to help with Rhua.  We took the kiddos to cheer her on, then Abby, Norah, Sadie, and I took off after lunch.  The ride home was long, but we made it 3 1/2 hours before needing to stop to feed Norah, then survived the last hour home.  All in all, a successful, fun, but fast trip!  We proved that we really can keep up the tradition, even though things are a little busier up there...we'll see about next year, when we're keeping one-year-olds off the dock and out of the lake!

Swimming lessons

Abby just finished up swimming lessons (or swimming "lentists", as Abby liked to call them) last week.  After doing two summers of the "Mommy and Me" type class in Montgomery, where I was in the pool with her, we tried out the lessons in New Prague this year.  For the first week, they spent their time in the kiddie pool, practice some front/back floats with help from the swim teachers, blowing bubbles in the pool, and getting more comfortable in the water.  Last week, for the last three days of lessons, they strapped on the life jackets and practiced jumping in the pool and swimming to the ladder, then worked up to jumping off the diving board.  Abby was too nervous to jump by herself, so needed some assistance getting into the pool.  A couple of times, she did go underwater and did just fine when she popped back up.  She told me that she knew to close her eyes and mouth for that part.  We were hoping for a little bit more out of swimming lessons this year, but Abby had fun going to the pool with her friends.  At least she's gaining confidence and enjoyment in the water, and hopefully next year, she can learn even more independence in the pool!

Friday, July 6, 2012


After 2 years of living in our house, we finally did something about the landscaping!  It has been an eyesore the entire time--when it was a model home, they had mulch down, but the wind has blown most of it away since then.  The weeds have also been out of control, and it has looked terrible.  Thanks to D & J Landscaping (family of good friends of ours), we now have river rock and some edging along our front walkway that wasn't there before.  Also, the area right out front by our electrical box was especially obnoxious, but now looks so much better.  We love the final product, and it will be so much easier to take care of!  Here are some pictures (not the greatest, due to the afternoon shade, but you get the idea):