Friday, July 31, 2009

bella & parker

What: Playtime at Applefest at Kelley Park in Apple Valley (which just happens to be the park that we play at all the time that is right beside our apt complex)
Who: Bella & Parker
When: Friday, July 31 6-7pm

"Just give us juice & goldfish & we're good to go!"

These two went up & down the slides together so many times that I lost count!

The instrumental band that was playing, the warm weather & cool breezes, & the Culvers ice cream stand attracted a lot of oncomers. I think the party was just getting started as we were leaving!! There were lines of cars filing in as we were heading home! these two...
...laughed & played so hard together... books together...
...even watched a little tv together...(I think it was a commercial that had dogs in it!)

Bella, let's play again soon please!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

laughter & cherries, evening playtimes & more!

What do pizza, a little wine, good friends & great conversation usually mean?!
Girls Night In!!!
Last night, I was so excited to join Kelley, April, & Cathy for a fun Girls Night at Cathy's place. We haven't all gotten together since spring 2008...sad, I know...but we seem to all live quite the busy lifestyle through work & our families! :) Though it had been awhile, we had 4 great hours of catch up time, a lot of laughs, & for dessert sweet cherries & wine! Yum!
Remember girls, we promised each other it wouldn't be so long before the next time!
(It's a fun story how we all met...I'll have to share sometime!)
And guys, if you ask us really sweetly, we might let you tag along for the fun on our next get together! :)
Tonight, Parker & I joined Michelle & Bella in Burnsville for Wednesday in the Park fun! The kids really enjoyed some end of the day playtime while the moms relaxed (well, when we weren't chasing the kids, that is :)) to some easy listening from Paula Lammers & Cloud Nine

Enjoying the easy music & the gentle breezes...

So cute watching the two of them playing together & enjoying the night out!

Bella & Parker were having so much fun dancing, picking up sticks & walking up to random people to excitedly hand them their treasure find (aka the branches) :), walking up & down & up & down the hill, & playing in the grass!

Our little place on the hill...
yep, that would be Parker playing with one of the many sticks that he found!! By the time the night was through (ahem, we were there for an hour), we had collected enough branches to build a small raft for our next outing at the lakes!!! Watch out Huck Finn, this kid could probably build a raft by accident faster than you could spit out a fib!

Kisses to you!
Love my little man!

A view from the top...everyone was sitting on the slope of this hill in lawn chairs, on blankets, & at tables to listen to the jazz style band that was playing tonight.

P.S. On the "chasing the kids" note, after I ran to grab Parker 3 times when he made his way down the hill, behind the staging area, beside the parking lot & around the other side of the hill, Michelle asked me why I even bother going to the gym when I have him to keep me busy & in shape. I laughed & told her that I work out to keep up with him! It's amazing how even after 5-6 days of intense, high aerobic & strength classes, my 18 month old can still run around a playgym faster than me! Go figure. ;)

Monday, July 27, 2009

cute things at 18 months & other randomness!

While working around the apartment late yesterday afternoon, I paused to take a quick pic of this...Clay had Parker out on the balcony so that they could watch the people, cars, dogs & airplanes go by! :)

Fun times at the park in Apple Valley yesterday evening

A sneak peak of the mini album I'm working on... :)

A few other random things about Parker at 18 months:
Parker eats cauliflower like candy...
His last tooth is coming in (before his 2 year molars)...his bottom right canine
Parker begs for strawberries, blueberries & grapes like a little boy begs for a new toy...he whines for more until we either run out or give in :)
Parker now sleeps in our bed for his afternoon naps...wish I had been doing this all along...he slept for a whopping 2 1/2 hrs today (I think we checked on him like 12 times to make sure he was still breathing!!!! Clay was like, "Should we wake him?" I looked at him & replied, "Don't you dare! He'll wake up when he's ready!" :) I actually have some time to get things done during the day now!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

cookout+volleyball+fireworks+FOOD+friends= Good Times!

Last night, we went over to Jami & Tom's for a cookout & just some good 'ole summer fun! Jami did a great job of planning...delicious food & drinks, a volleyball game down at the court, visiting time & dessert inside the house & then the firework show (courtesy of Leprechaun Days at Rosemount!) :)

It was fun meeting new friends, enjoying the incredible weather, sharing good food & watching the kids play together! I only wish I had gotten some better pictures!!! Here are a few random ones from the evening...something you can't see from the pics...Greta & Parker playing together most of the evening. After the volleyball game, we were getting ready to head back up towards the house. Parker decides to take out towards the playground instead; Greta starts to follow close behind. It was so cute watching Parker stop for a quick second to turn around & check to make sure Greta was still behind him. He did that like 6 times! We were cracking up watching it!!!

Yummy food! (I brought my fruit pizza!) :)

Lynnette & McKenzie - After like 5 pics of McKenzie, I finally got one that wasn't too blurry; she was in between her dance moves in this one!

Kim, Lucas, Kim & Jami watching the volleyball game! (Parker & Greta have close-up seats on the outside of the court!)

Just happened to catch this shot of Clay jumping up to hit the ball!
P.S. All the guys were really going out during this game; afterwards, they were all talking about how sore they were going to be the next day...hey! it's all about the game though, right?!

Parker was into everything outside...especially getting Greta to tag along & try & "help" their daddy's on the volleyball court!

Doesn't Greta have killer eyes?! I keep telling Jami they're going to have problems when she gets a little older!! "Watch out boys! Here I come!" :)
Thanks for the fun time Jami, Tom & Greta! Same time & place next year?! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Marketfest fun

I have to toot some horns for my hubby! He just got back from a trip that put him over 1000 hours of captain flying might not make a lot of sense to anyone, but it's really good for him! And I am sooo proud of him for working so hard to make that happen! I love you, baby! :)

So to celebrate, I wanted us to do something fun for the day. After lots of research in the late hours this week (late hrs meaning 10:30pm for me! ha!) I decided on a MN State Park...I changed my mind this morning & decided we were going to White Bear Lake for the afternoon & early evening. I wanted to visit a park there & pop in for their annual Marketfest! So first, we stopped at Lakewood Hills Park to let Clay...oops, I mean on the playground.

I have to say that we really are blessed to have an amazing playground area right outside our apt complex in Apple Valley. Though I wasn't impressed with the playground area here, the park itself had gorgeous picnic areas & rolling hills with great walking trails!
My silly husband trying out some of the kiddie playground equipment at the park! He was impressed with this little contraption that spun you around and around and around...
"Look Ma Ma & Da Da! There's an airplane!"

Parker helping Clay push his stroller through Marketfest

Where we ate dinner downtown...The Washington Square had a fun come & go atmosphere as well as good food! We enjoyed watching the vendors setting up & seeing the people walking by from our table...we had a great view of the bustling downtown area!

People were lined up on these walls to relax & enjoy the band playing nearby...I thought it was cute!


lots of people enjoying the games, vendors, bands & food

Every Thursday night during Marketfest, they have a different band come out & play! The whole time we were walking through the crowds, Parker was dancing to the cute!

One of Clay's favorite parts of the evening...looking at the antique car show!!! Parker wanted to take a ride in this 1960 something Cobra...I wonder why?! ;)

...glad we ventured out to a new area to enjoy a special annual tradition of the community! Another fun day comes to a close...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

his newest climbing spot...

First, it was the couch & daddy's recliner, next it was the coffee table & mama & daddy's bed, now it is the desk in his bedroom! This is where I've caught him when I've turned my back on him for 2 minutes the last several days! He is such a little monkey! ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a week of memories

Trips to the Mall of America...Mani's & Pedi's at the spa for the girls...Niagara Caves...the quaint town of Harmony...passing the beautiful countryside...all the luggage (& this was just for 3 of them!!! :)...the car rides when we were ALL together (what a hoot those were!)...the way that Aunt Ash & Aunt KK could sneak Parker those last bites of food in at every meal (way to go girls!)...our cookout at the Ainsley's house...listening to Kaylee & Ashleigh goofing off singing & laughing in the backseat of the car on the way to Harmony...our "July 4th" cookout at the apt...chicken & rice...Parker getting into Aunt KK's makeup every morning (I still don't think his daddy knows about this! :))...the calls to Lacey in Waco (we missed you so much!) night to see the new Harry Potter movie (I'm really behind on these; I might be hooked now though!) curtains for Parker's room...Parker sleeping like a konked out freight train in Poppie's lap...Ashleigh's incredibly natural "motherly" instinct (any child within a 2 mile radius is just drawn to her!)...Nana's yummy cooking...Kaylee cracking us all up with her "lack of cell phone usage" on the drive to Harmony & her thoughts during the week on life in general (she always gets me rolling with her matter of fact thoughts & words...I love it!)...those delicious homemade pies at The Village Square of Harmony...Parker talking up a storm while everyone was here & living up the fact that he was the constant center of attention!...the unending sweetness & love that Poppie, Nana, Ashleigh & Kaylee showed us the whole time they were here (and Lacey, we could even feel yours from Waco!)

These are the things that I will remember most about our visit from PNA&K this summer! Thank you for coming to see us up North!! We had so much fun during the week y'all were here; please come play again soon! :) We love y'all & miss you already!

Monday, July 20, 2009

summer salad

We LOVE to eat salads in the's one of my favorites! This is a recipe my mom gave me from her recipe box; it originally came from my Aunt Christy (and I believe she got it from one of her cookbooks.)

You will need:
1 bag baby spinach
1 bag mixed green lettuce
Broccoli pieces
Cauliflower pieces
(can also use mushrooms, purple onions, avocado)
mandarin oranges or strawberries (I used strawberries this time)

Toss greens in large bowl. Top with all of above ingredients that are desired. Mix dressing. Do not pour dressing over salad unless you plan to eat it all at one time. (Just use dressing as you need it.)

1/4 c sugar or splenda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 TBS onion juice
1/4 c cider vinegar
3/4 c salad oil (olive oil)
1 TBS poppyseed
1/4 c cottage cheese
1/4 c soft bacon bits

Shake well.

Note: The measurements in this recipe feed a larger group; if you are cooking for two & will not be able to eat the leftovers within a week or so, I would use less measurements.
This time, I cut up extra broccoli, cauliflower & strawberries and put in a ziploc bag to be able to use for future salads. I doubled the dressing recipe & put all of the dressing in a water bottle so that I could shake it again prior to use at dinner. (I just took a cute serving bowl to pour it in immediately before use.) I originally made this for a cookout on Wednesday, but am now able to enjoy the yummy leftovers for lunch this week. All I need is the lettuce, my ziploc bag with the goods, the cottage cheese, bacon bits & pecans (which I don't measure in my personal salads) & the dressing in the water bottle to shake and pour. Vwaahla! You have a yummy super-delicious salad!

(It's also great for Parker's lunch because I can just take a spoonful of the broccoli, cauliflower, & strawberries from the ziploc bag, a little turkey & cheese & he's good to go!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"too-cold-to-be-summer" days

What do you do on an overcast, "too-cold-to-be-summer" day? Well, we only had a couple of hours to work with, so we stayed close to home & did some warm, simple things. First, it was a Chai Tea Latte (Carrie), Mocha Latte (Clay), & Orange Juice (P-man) at Caribou. We started inside by the fireplace then worked our way outside when Parker started to run around the place! :)

Then it was a trip to the bookstore to discover many new adventures and characters. I was sooo excited to sit Parker in my lap & read some new books to him; he had other things in mind today. He wanted to sort the books on the shelves, wander & play with the Thomas the Train train set. So, after about a half an hour, we gave up on storytime, Clay took Parker to play with the train set (which made Parker so happy!) while I found some fabulous future books for Parker's library!

Parker loves to wear daddy's shoes! "Let's go play! I'm ready!"

Parker got a boo-boo today while playing at Lifetime. He tripped and landed on the book that he was holding. It pushed his nose up & cut it a little bit; Clay took him to get a happy meal & play at the McDonald's playground as a treat. It seemed to do the trick!

The Nolen's flew out early this morning, so we are missing them already! We enjoyed such a fun week with them! Watch for more pictures from our week together soon! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

conversations, cave exploration & scenic byways

What: About a 3 minute conversation in our Tahoe on the way back from Niagara Falls on Thursday....just to show you a fun glimpse of what it's like with 7 of us in the car together! :)
When: Thursday, July 16
Who: Poppie (driving), Clay (front passenger seat), Nana, Parker & Carrie (all in middle seat), Ashleigh & Kaylee (sharing the backseat)

(Ashleigh & Kaylee in the back seat belting out the theme song from the Disney movie, "Pocohontas" after passing a river...Kaylee has now started to get over the fact that she has not had cell phone service all dare the cell phone companies!!! :) LOVE my KK!)

...the two then decide singing is a great idea & start singing random childhood songs...Clay is in the front seat trying to turn on the radio to drown out the voices...ha ha! That didn't work work very well! :)

Carrie: ...thought of "The Sound of Music" after passing a rolling hill & randomly sung out, "The hills are alive, with the sound of Griswold..." Ok, so my mind went to one of my all-time favorite movies, "Chevy Chase's European Vacation"...
Clay:"I jumped a copperhead at Canyon..." (I must have missed a conversation somewhere as I was thinking of the Griswold's family vacation)
Kaylee: "Why do Texans not say "H's?"
....4 minute discussion in the car of "H" words...
Ashleigh: "This is a cute little town!"
Nana: "Look Parker! There are some tractors!"
Parker gets all excited to see the big machines
Nana then goes back to reading Parker his book
Kaylee randomly breaks into singing some song about rehab...once again, must have missed part of a conversation here!
Clay (to Poppie or anyone who's listening): "What makes them magnetized?" (Referring to the rocks that Poppie had gotten from Niagara)

Yesterday, we drove SE to Harmony, MN for a tour of Niagara Cave. It started by us leaving town around 11am (we actually left the apt around 10:00 but had to make a few stops first...Poppie was so patient with us girls! the time we hit the road we decided it would be a good idea to run through a drive-through & get some cold drinks. Great idea! Last stop Poppie...we promise!)

It took about 2 1/2 hrs of driving time to get there. We ate lunch at this quaint little restaurant in town called The Village Square of Harmony...Clay & I shared one of their famous was oh! so yummy! Ashleigh & I shared a delicious slice of homemade pecan pie for dessert; after taking one bite, I decided that I should just order a whole pie for myself. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't have whole pies for you to order on this day...oh well...I saved myself a few pounds! :)

We then walked downtown (which was maybe a total of 1/8 of a mile), went to the Visitor's center so I could get my brochures & postcards :), & then drove on to the Niagara Cave site.

Can't say enough about this tour! We loved it! Parker did great in his backpack carrier again!
Just to give you a quick run-down on this place & this tour...

Harmony, MN is a VERY small town known for 2 things: being an Amish community (the largest one in MN) & Niagara Caves. This cave has been rated as one of the top ten commercial caves in the US. It has not only beautiful stalactites hanging from the ceiling & stalagmites reaching up from the floor as seen in many caves, but also a variety of soda straws, draperies, ribbons, flowstone, columns, and fossils dating back to between 325 to over 450 million years. One of the most noted features of Niagara Cave is the famous underground stream & waterfall. This cave has a lot of narrow passageways & "high-can't-see-top-ceilings." (There were a few areas that were a little difficult getting the backpack carrier through.) The cave is still active & stays at a constant 48 degree temp.

Funny story how the cave was discovered: In 1924, 3 pigs from a local farm disappeared. A few young men went in search of the pigs & their search led them to the soon to be famous sinkhole located east of the homestead. When they determined the pigs had somehow managed to fall through a narrow crack at the bottom of the sinkhole, they got ropes & lights & made their way down into the hole. After descending over 50 ft, they found the pigs still alive on a rock ledge. Not only that, but they had discovered that the vast rooms & passageways extended far beyond what their dim lights could pierce. When the boys told their adventure to others, no one really took them seriously until about 8 years later when 3 cave explorers from Iowa got word of the interesting hole. The rest is history. The cave was officially opened to the public for tours on June 1, 1934.

Carrie, Kaylee, Nana, Clay, Parker, Ashleigh, & Poppie inside Niagara

After the tour, Parker had fun playing outside Niagara with Aunt KK, Aunt Ash & Poppie..Parker would have happily jumped in & sat in the water if we had let him! :)

Aunt KK & Parker

We chose to take the "scenic route" on the way home. (aka Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway). GORGEOUS! Clay & I have decided we have to drive it again this fall! Beautiful rolling hills, green, green & green, clear lakes, flowers & crops everywhere you look. "The unique geology of the area brings you to the very edge of the giant glacier that once covered almost all of MN from 25,000 to 12,000 years ago. The very southeast portion of the state remained untouched by glacial activity and is known as the 'driftless area,' meaning it is free of the glacial 'drift' or deposits that glaciers leave behind...West of Spring Valley are the glacially smoothed flat prairies, full of fertile lands and abundance. To the east are older natural landforms containing unique biological systems and the majestic limestone bluffs created by thousands of years of outwash from the melting glacier."

I definately feel another road trip coming up this fall! :) Who wants to come with us?