Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Leaves...

Our neighbors are leaf nazis.

One guy doesn't have a single leaf in his yard. Really. I'm not sure how our yard can be completely covered, and he doesn't have any. I see him out there all the time either raking, gathering, or blowing leaves. He probably looks at us and shutters. We wait until all the leaves fall before we start the raking process. It's like shoveling before it stops snowing...it's just not worth it. So we waited until the trees were sufficiently bare and then Steve spent a whole afternoon outside with the yard. We then pushed them out into the street where a street sweeper comes by multiple times a week to clean the roads.

After Steve gathered a large pile, the kids had a ball. The ran, they jumped, they made leaf angels. And when the pile started to look a little dull, Steve would rake them back up into a large pile.
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We had plenty of older neighbors watching us enjoy ourselves.

I know deep down inside they were wishing their knees had the strength to jump in our big pile of leaves! :)

Instead, they enjoyed the giggles from our children.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birthday Growth Chart...

A couple years I bought a growth chart from Pottery Barn Kids that I absolutely love. It hangs in our playroom and each year on the kids birthday we take a picture with the kids and the chart and then we mark their new height. What's interesting to see is Hunter is as tall at two years old as Hallie was at 3 years old. I've told Hallie for sometime that she better be nice to her brother because he will definitely be bigger than her, I just didn't realize it would happen so quickly!

Yes, Hunter's birthday was several weeks ago - Here are the pics!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life is sweet. And wonderful...

After being gone for three weeks, Steve came home for a visit. He's here for the week doing some work and then we all head out for Arizona as a family.

This was by far the longest time I've been away from Steve, without staying with family members. Oh boy, does my appreciation for single mothers go through the roof. It is not an easy or fun road.

The first week was brutal. Hunter especially struggled with having his daddy gone and cried constantly for him. Fortunately, by week two that subsided!

Every morning we were out the door bright and early to take Hallie to school, we also picked up her friend which meant I didn't have to pick her up from school, someone else brought her home. This was a huge help.

Hunter and I spent our mornings as we usually do: Cleaning, laundry, a few errands. By the time Hallie got home from school it was lunch time followed by nap time. Hunter chose an ideal time to start giving up his nap. More than anything he needed his rest, but he fought it and fought it and refused to nap. This made for longer than usual afternoons.

There were a lot of tears from that little boy. There were fights with his sister which always resulted in someone getting hurt. I found myself often shutting myself in my room as the kids nearly killed each other right outside the door.




I spent plenty of time with my parents on Skype. Some days that was the only adult interaction I received. In the afternoons as the kids were in "rest" time I enjoyed the conversations with my mom and dad. It made the long afternoons bearable.

More than anything I looked forward to dinner time. Which meant bedtime was trailing. Due to the lack of naps, there were nights the kids were in bed and asleep by 6:45. Although these days seemed to drag on the longest, that bedtime was precious time for me.

I had great friends who always seemed to be there when I needed a little boost. We ate dinner at a friends house each week, the kids were still able to enjoy their babysitting group on Fridays and I was able to have a few moments with some girl friends.

There was one night I had scheduled to host some friends after the kids were tucked away in their beds. I canceled last minute. More than anything I just wanted to be alone. Peace and quiet. It was all I could handle.

I looked forward to the phone calls I received from Steve 2-3 times a day as he made his 40 minute commute to work. We talked about nothing, things that needed to get done, our new life that we were about to start in Arizona, the kids, everything. I needed it. And every day it was the highlight.

With each passing day it got just a little bit easier. We got into a routine, the kids knew what to expect and I got used to being exhausted and frustrated at the end of most days. It became manageable.

But no doubt, it was a dream come true when Steve said he was coming back for a week to do some work. It was as if a choir of angels sat behind me singing praises. I was giddy. But I kept it a secret from the kids. I typically try and keep anything of great interest from Hallie until I absolutely have to tell her because the questioning and constant talking about it gets so old. (Like when a friend sends a birthday invitation two weeks early, it's pure punishment. Every day we have the same conversation. How many days until the party? What should we get her? What are we going to do there? How many people are going to be there? And the questions are the same every day!)

So I didn't tell Hallie her dad was coming for a visit. It was dark outside when we drove up to the airport. She says, "This looks like the airport. Are we flying somewhere?"

I dodged the bullet by explaining I got turned around and we would just need to drive by in order to get home. As we pull up by the baggage claim, I see Steve standing on the curb. At first Hallie doesn't notice him. She then glances out and sees him, but is a little confused. She looks at me and back at him as we slowly pass by him. Steve starts running along the car until we pull over to the curb and she just starts screaming. Which of course results in the same excitement from Hunter. Steve opens the door and gives her a big hug as Hunter is still screaming at the top of his lungs. As he pulls away from the hug, Hallie has tears rolling down her cheeks. "I'm so excited that daddy is home." Such a sweet moment for that little girl, made my heart melt.

So we are now soaking up Steve time. The kids are in heaven with their wrestling buddy back in town and I'm pleased as punch that somehow breakfast was made this morning and cleaned up. And I didn't have to move a finger.

Life is sweet. And wonderful.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Apple Orchard...

Right before Steve made his departure we made our way to the apple orchard. The previous weekend was frigid and miserable, but we lucked out with some beautiful weather. It was even a little on the warm side. We had been to this particular orchard just one other time, when my mom had come to visit over two years ago when Hunter was just one week old and I had been craving their caramel apple dip ever since.

We started the morning with some apple cider doughnuts. They really are a little slice of heaven. And although there was just the four of us, Steve walked back with a dozen! A dozen! How could we possibly need a dozen doughnuts for our small family.  Steve explained that they only sell them in dozen bags. The marketing people over there are genius!!
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We got on the tractor which took us around to the back side of the farm where we were able to choose from a wide variety of apples to pick. We spent some time scoping out the best trees.
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Picked our favorite varieties and our 1/2 bushel basket was only half full.
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So we then opted for the cheater version of picking apples where they have huge bins of pre-picked apples you can pull from! We topped off our basket and hopped back on the tractor. We bought some lunch while we were there and grabbed a caramel apple pie baked in a brown bag for the road. (It really is the best pie you'll come across!)
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I become nostalgic as I realized our time in Wisconsin was ending. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself that some of the traditions could be carried on wherever we lived, until Steve brought that dream crashing down by saying, "There are no apple orchards in Phoenix, this will probably be our last time for a long while!"

Seriously?

We go every year to an apple orchard. I suppose people in Arizona buy their apples at the store. Perhaps we could carry on the tradition with orange groves...it just doesn't sound as cool.

It was good thing we had a good go around this last time!
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rock Bottom Brewery...

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When the weather turns frigid and water is too cold to enjoy, the next best way to use a boat is to launch it into Lake Michigan and drive up the Milwaukee River and dock at a great restaurant.
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We spent a Saturday afternoon/evening, without children, on the beautiful Milwaukee River with our good friends the Tysons, Egberts and Crosbys.
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We docked at the Rock Bottom Brewery where we enjoyed some delicious food (the pork nachos are amazing!) and great conversation. It was so peaceful to drive back under a sky full of stars and the lights of the city reflecting on the water.  I could of stayed in that moment much longer if I had the chance!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween...

Growing up I remember dressing up for Halloween year after year. But if my memory serves me correctly, I wore that costume once, on Halloween night. That was it. Perhaps, one other time for a ward party, but that's it.

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Of course, now with children of my own, it seems that Halloween is no longer a one night holiday...it's at least a week long extravaganza! I'm not complaining, I love it, and so do the kids. Plus we get a lot more use out of each of the costumes!!

So the kids dressed up on Monday to trick-or-treat at the medical college, and they scored a fair amount of candy.
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I love that these three girls are all the same age, within weeks of each other, Hallie being the oldest, and by far the smallest! And no the other girls are not wearing high heels!!

Later in the week, Hallie had her classroom party where she also dressed-up. We opted out of the Halloween party we were supposed to go to Friday night at the school knowing very well we would be back in the costumes the very next night for some "Halloween Eve" trick-or-treating.

I was a little disappointed to have Steve so far away during all our activities. It didn't seem right doing it without him! But the show must go on, and we were fortunate to spend the evening with great friends. We had a selection of soups and breadsticks at the Smith's home before we headed out for a night of candy. It was chilly. 45 degrees and windy. It was then and only then, for just a split second I thought of Steve in Arizona with all our nieces and nephews in short sleeves enjoying the nice weather and there was a smidge of jealousy, but it was a fleeting moment and I moved on to soaking in our last Wisconsin Halloween.
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The neighborhood we walked was amazing. The houses were all close together, they had decorated and shut down one of the streets and everyone sat in their driveways with buckets of candy. It was the easiest and fastest candy gathering I've ever experienced. Which was welcomed considering the weather and the age of our children!

We went back to the house and enjoyed some hot chocolate, while the children devoured what candy they could with distracted parents! It was a good night. Sad Steve missed sharing it with us!
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