Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Applewood Orchard - it's Apple Pickin' Time!

This past weekend we headed out early Saturday morning for Applewood Orchard. We met friends Jami and Tom and their sweet girls Greta and Hannah. I was so excited to be able to spend the morning outside picking apples with my boys! ...and get some cute pictures. :) And did I get some good pictures? Well, they weren't exactly what I was going for but they make me smile because it's so them. ha ha!
Cooper was all into crawling on the "hay mountain." Parker wanted to jump off the pile of hay. And crawl and jump they did...

I so desperately wanted to get that "perfect and precious" picture of them together sitting in the hay flashing their big adorable you can see, that did not exactly happen. However, I have to admit, the photos do make me laugh because they are true representation of our day...busy, busy into play and uninterested in posing for pictures. ;)

After about 16 more attempts I decided that was enough of that...time to start pickin' some apples!

(I am aware that my youngest is not wearing shoes...we are working on that. It's actually hard to quickly find little boys shoes! Any suggestions? We always got Parker's from Stride Rite but the nearest Stride Rite is not exactly convenient for us to visit so I've been looking elsewhere...very disappointed with Target's two options for boys. Ideas?)

We were lucky we came home with any apples.

I almost posted our family outtakes, since they were quite the entertainment for us when I scrolled through them on Sunday, but decided the ones of the boys in the hay were enough. :) The one below was the best one. (It's actually pretty good of the boys. I think it's more of the "ahem" baby fat middle on the mama that made me not so very happy about this picture. We're working on that..well, not actively yet, but soon...very soon.) :)

One of the highlights of Applewood Orchard is their scrumptious "Apple Doughnuts." Mmmmm..

So thankful for the time to be able to get outdoors and enjoy the cool, fall weather. It seems to be passing us by quickly. I plan on sitting down tomorrow and making my Fall Bucket list for the remainder of the season. So fun!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Surprise Guests at Small Group...

Every Sunday night, we host Small Group at our house. As of to date, we are the only couple with kids...though that will soon be changing. ;) I think it would be a fair statement to say that our friends have seen, heard and learned a lot (probably more than they care to know) about life with a 3 1/2 year old and an 11 month old!

Typically, Parker is pretty good about going straight to bed when we tell him night-night and return to our small group, but some Sunday's he would much rather be up with us than laying in his bed trying to fall asleep. After tucking him in and re-tucking him in his bed tonight...almost an hour later when we went to check on "surprise little footstepts upstairs," this is what we found.
Parker and his "friends" were happy to listen in and be a part of the Small Group discussion tonight...hidden and out of sight, of course!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet my new friend, Liz.

Meet my new friend.

It was 2007. I was re-discovering my passion for scrapbooking and photography (after a 2 year hiatus). I was given a Creating Keepsakes magazine by a friend. Inside the magazine, was this spread about the most recent Scrapbooker of the Year, Elizabeth Kartchner. CK posted a link to her blog. I had never been to a blog before (didn't really understand what they were.) And then I went to Liz's...I was hooked immediately. I appreciated this girl's passion for life and her amazing creativity inside and outside the home....she was adorable! Additionally, I noticed several similarities between the two of of which was that her father had passed away due to a lifelong battle of diabetes, much like my daddy. I don't know at that time if it was that, the adorable scrapbooking pages that she often posted, or the "mommyhood" moments that frequented her posts that kept me coming back daily. Maybe all of the above plus some.

To this day, her cute little self and precious family are one of my favorite reasons to visit her blog. I have often thought, "If we lived closer we would be such good friends. I would love to meet her one of these days." (in a totally non-weird, non-stalker kind of way) ;)

Fast forward to this past weekend. My boys needed clothes. Mall of America, here we come! And guess who I got to meet and visit with! :) Liz was teaching at Scrapfest at the Mall of America this past weekend. On top of a brief visit on Saturday (that I would have loved to have continued for 2 hours!), I was able to drive her to the airport on Sunday. After dropping her off and bidding her a safe flight...and encouraging her to stop for a little chocolate along the way, :) I left for home smiling because I had a new friend.

Her name is Liz and she is Amazing!
photo credit: collin kartchner

Liz, I am so thankful to have finally met you face to face. You are even cuter and more fun in person (who would have ever thought that to be possible?!). You know, you always have a place to stay up North if you find your way to our little area of the country again. We could eat chocolate, talk about kids stuff, and scrapbooking, and photography, and random things...If we ever plan a trip out y'alls way, I'll be sure to give you a call. Would love to book your talented hubby for a session of family photos and a video. Hmmm...maybe I could start sweet-talking Clay into a weekend trip in the near future...I'll work on that :)
I am so glad God enabled our paths to cross.
Until next time...
(at least we have our blogs...and facebook...and twitter...and email...and snail mail...and the telephone ;))
Take care, girl.

Check out Liz's website at and her Dear Lizzy line at American Crafts. She also has a book out through Creating Keepsakes that is incredible for some quick, crafty inspiration.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

what's been going on around our house lately...

Our beloved "Duckie" has sat its last days in the warm, clear waters of the upstairs tub. (An undetected hole slowly promises to take the last bit of air out of our yellow friend.)

We have enjoyed many a nights splishing and splashing, laughing and babbling in our floaty friend.
Picture taken of  Cooper in July 2011

Before handing Duckie over to the garbage, the boys are having one last hoorah with their little friend. Over the last 4 days, Duckie has acted as a recliner, a boat, and a storage container for race cars just to name a few.

In other news, this little tike --who does not seem very little anymore-- is as usual, getting into anything and everything his curious hands want to get into. I definitely need more childproof locks for this house.

A few weeks ago, Cooper started walking with his riding toys.
...but mostly, I just wanted to post this picture because of his dimples and the monkey outfit that totally reminds me of his personality. :)

I Spy...something that does not fit in this picture....besides the terrible landscaping

Yep. That would be a bottle in a tree in our front yard. (some of the best afternoons are spent outdoors, with a Tball set, a soccer ball, a bottle, and sidewalk chalk. Usually when the bottle is in the tree that means hard core kickball time... :))

This is what a typical night looks for us around 7:30pm. For fun this summer, I picked up this fabulous game for Parker and all of us to play together around a campfire. Though we did not actually get it out near a bonfire and smores, we have enjoyed many nights before bathtime of the Camp boardgame. I look for it to be one we play together for many years. GREAT gift idea for little boys!

...some fun (and entertaining) storytimes before bedtime

And even a little couponing after the boys go to bed.

The days of summer are gone and we are starting to transition our closets and drawers into fall/winter items. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Fall? (It's what comes after it that I am not so fond of!) The weekend after Labor Day I put out my fall decorations; every day it makes me smile to see the vibrant reds, the muted yellows and the aged orange colors in my house. Pictures of home decor will be posted soon...I say this to remind myself to actually take some pictures :) Have a Happy Day!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Six families, eight kids and one terrific evening...

I think I mentioned in the last post about friends flying in from out of town on Labor Day Weekend. A bunch of Lauren and Jonathan's friends decided to come crash the relaxing evening they had planned for their little family of 4 at the hotel in St Louis Park. :) Six families and eight kids later (one family unfortunately didn't make the group picture), we were laughing it up at the Homewood Suites that Friday night.

I pity those walking in the front doors to check in between the hours of 6pm and 10pm that particular evening. While we were sitting out on the back patio eating supper --amongst a variety of other things that one can only understand if you have that many children in one area at suppertime-- and having a good ole' time, we managed to scare off more than a couple of families who were apparently planning on enjoying a nice dinner outdoors as well.

Do you think it was the 3 1/2 year old, the 2 year old, the two 18 mos olds, the 10 month old, the 7 month old, the 4 month old or the 2 week old child that made them change their minds on joining us? Hmmm...that's questionable. I'm not sure what was more intimidating...seeing the men out on the basketball court trying to play like they were in highschool again (did I mention this is a really great hotel for a family atmospere?!) , the 3 1/2 year old and one of the 18 month olds pulling patio chairs up to this pitifully small decorative garden tree so excited to try and climb it, the other 18 month old going around screaming, "Wah wah!!! (aka water) excitedly grabbing any and every water bottle that she could get her sweet little hands on and drowning her precious little sundress with the liquid, the moms sitting at two tables trying to "easily and effortlessly" feed the smallest of the tikes, or do you think it was just the pure madness of it all?

I'm not really sure myself, but whatever the reason, our group of friends had quite the time chatting it up and letting the kids (those that could walk anyway!) roam free for a couple of hours. That's about as relaxing as we have it these days..but we love it that way. :) It was just the dose of "end of a busy work week" medicine that everyone needed. After it got too dark and chilly to remain outdoors, we then ventured inside where the hotel offered quite the large sitting area next to an almost as large television complete with a fireplace...and lots of safe running space for the kiddos.

Truly, we don't know who had the most or the kids. Doesn't matter. I'd call it a terrific evening either way and would request for a repeat in a heartbeat., I don't feel as if the couples and families who walked by all the diaper bags, bottles and strollers and shook their heads with disbelief and laughter would feel the same. However, one couldn't argue that they didn't get 3-4 minutes of fast-paced, childlike entertainment for the evening...or the desire to run to the nearest convenient store to stock up on a variety of birth control methods for the weekend. ;) No need to thank us people; this is how we roll!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fair, Food and Friends '11

We didn't realize until we were walking into the gates that we were ALL dressed in green...seriously. Clay thought it was smart. I thought it was cheesy.

1st time on the giant carpet slide...gets an A+ from Parker and me.

I would recommend taking your biggest, widest stroller to the State Fair. It's definitely the way to go. The crowds part when they catch a glance of these things...just be careful going through the barns  :)

...always a favorite of Parker's...big trucks and big machinery

Clay has introduced me to Lemon Lime Hawaiian Shaved Icee's. New favorite.

Minnesota State Fair - Take 2
Friends of ours flew in from Chicago during the second weekend of the State Fair so we met up with them on Labor Day Weekend for more fun!!! I prayed that my husband would not get called out to fly that day so that I would not be stuck with the stroller, 2 kids and the bags by myself. Prayer answered.

You don't come to the fair without leaving with a face filled with chocolate! Martha's Cookies are a must-have. "Hmmm, I wonder what I should get into next..that water fountain over there or the chicks in the barn. Why not both?!"

Eleanor, we miss you sweet girl!! Tell your mommy and daddy to come visit us again soon!

How do 3 guys manage to bring back enough food for 8 people without spilling anything?
Answer: see below (sadly, this was not all of the food...for lunch)

= Good times.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How and Why to Document the Not-so-Great Moments of Mommyhood

After reading my last post, several people asked the question, "How did you capture Parker in the moment without him catching on to the camera and hidden smile?" I know that's a big question among us moms with always-on-the-go children and one that I am still trying to perfect every chance I get. :)

To answer the question frankly: by remembering to grab my camera and not getting caught up in what could have been the fury of the moment. ha! That's the hardest part. And then prayerfully, carefully, thoughtfully...and a little shrewdly.

Not so long ago, and every once in awhile still, I have to watch myself and my temper. To this day, I wonder if I received a thicker dose of that Creek Indian bloodline than my other relatives. Family, what do you think? ;) Anyway, at that moment of walking in to disaster zone and being completely stunned, all I could think about was 1. how to react best to the given situation in order to teach his little heart versus hurting him and  2. grabbing my camera!

So, to keep from laughing and/or blowing up at his little toddler creativity, I set the tone quietly but firmly and left the room. I was actually excited to have this opportunity to teach Parker something and do it in a calm and rational way unlike a few times in the past! I ran downstairs, called Clay and hooted, grabbed my camera and ran back up the stairs to deal with the situation. By that time, Parker was horrified that I had not come back in...he wanted to know what I was going to do. When I opened the door again, he almost seemed relieved that I was back. Poor thing...didn't know what was coming to him. ;)

I quickly and seriously dropped down to the floor and snapped a couple of not perfect pictures (did you see the terrible lighting in those bathroom pictures?!..but I didn't care. I just wanted to capture the moment and to teach him a lesson at the same time. Spending several minutes fiddling with the perfect settings on my camera just wasn't going to cut it.) Parker asked what I was doing. I slowly raised my head, looked him dead in the eyes and told him "If he knew what was good for him, he would be very very quiet right now." hee hee. I'm so bad. It wasn't long after that that he asked if he was going to jail. :)

And as for the close-ups of him, I don't even think he knew until the last picture was taken that I was taking pictures of his expressions. I had him focusing on my face at that point. As I talked and he listened, the camera was out to my side (no flash) snapping a couple of "mug shots." It wasn't until the last one that I got right in front of his face with the camera. Then while still talking, I nonchalantly put the camera aside like it had never even been there and did not pick it up again until everything was said and done...I then went back and took pictures of the towel pile up after he was in the bed.

Sounds easy right? Well, it wasn't. ha ha! If it were that easy, I would take a lot more "mug shot" pictures after catching the little man in action...wouldn't we all! Sometimes, when things are backsliding fast and furiously it is hard to pause to even think about grabbing your camera for a quick snap. More times than not, smoke can be found coming out of my ears when I "discover" another mess or tantrum. One of the things I have found though, that helps me in ridiculous situations such as these, is to grab my camera and document the moment. It doesn't have to be perfect; remember, you can always edit and crop it later. Just get it on camera!

This past year in MOPS during our very first week, the moms all went around and mentioned one thing that helps them "get through" the tough days and moments. My one little tip for the table was to document it. Document the crazy, insane, torturous moments of the days...not just the good ones. Because those times are the ones that will break you down then build you back up to become a better mom for your little ones. Those instances, in addition to the good ones, are the ones that will cause you to look back and laugh when your children are all grown up. Those horrible in-the-day moments are the ones that we will look back on with happy tears and wish we could go back to...maybe not an hour later...but one day.

This one little thing has helped me a TON with the not-so-great moments since I have had kids. I hope you find that it helps you too! (just remember to charge your camera first so that it is ready to go!! :))

So, here's to the all the moms with plenty of chances to document "the-not-so-good-moments." May you find a peace and calmness to help and to not hinder the situation, a remembrance to document so that you can laugh later...and a tall glass of wine (and maybe even a little chocolate) as soon as the kids go to bed that evening!

True story: One particular afternoon Parker decided to pitch an all out kicking and screaming fit while we were out running errands. Thankfully, this does not happen very often with him, but on this particular day he was done. And I was done with the fit. I happened to have my camera with me and pulled that baby out and started going to town snapping pictures of his fit. Upclose, upside down, vertically...I mean that camera was all over the place. Once he realized what I was doing, he looked up with those tear-filled pitiful eyes like his mom had grown a second nose. "What are you doing, mom?"

I kept snapping...He asked again...a little louder this time..."Mom! What are you doing?!"

"Oh, me? I'm just taking pictures of you pitching a fit so that I can show you how silly you look!" That was the end of that tantrum. So moms, try pulling out your camera a little bit more.  You never know when it can come in useful! :)

"It's all good Mom! Just put me in Duckie with those warm bubbly things and I'll be good as new!"
Happy Snapping! (with the camera that is!!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

3 year old mischief..."in the bathroom"

No, this is not our super slick and shiny clean bathroom floor. This is standing water. Water that my 3 year old decided would be fun to dump outside of the bathtub one recent evening while I was putting Cooper down in his crib.

Lesson learned: Just because the 3 year old behaves most nights during bathtime doesn't mean he can't turn around and flood the bathroom the next night by submerging his clothes and towels in the water and chunking them at the walls and floor. Also, please note for future reference that there are creative ways of getting water outside the bathtub wall without making a lot of splashing noises for mothers' ears to hear. You may think he's contentedly playing with his boats and sponge letters, but in reality please know that he is up to no good.

After walking in to the flooded bathroom to see my son sitting in the floor playing in the standing water and a big grin on his proud little face, I quietly and quite firmly said --with a look to kill I am sure--, "Son, you'd better get back in that bathtub right now and not make a move until I return." With a stern look on my face I left (to hide the laughter and to call my husband...and to make Parker sweat out the absence of my presence) and returned to a wailing 3 yr old who wanted to know what was going to happen to him. As soon as he saw me, Parker wailed, 

"Mmmmmommmmmm! --{insert exaggerated short and quick sucked in breaths and gasps}- Am I going to --gasp gasp-- jaaiiilllll?! {insert another extremely loud and pitiful wail}

I literally had to pinch myself from busting out in laughter. With as straight of a face as I could muster, I replied, "Well, I don't know Parker. What do you think? Silence for a second. Boys who do naughty things go to jail. Maybe a night in the slammer would do you some good."
"NOOOooooooooo Mom! I don't --gasp gasp-- want to go to jail!!!!"

To make a very long story (and night) short, it was not long after that I looked around the room and realized how big of a mess it actually was (water all over the bathroom mirror, changing table--I actually had to take EVERYTHING out of each of the dripping wet baskets--toilet, walls...what had he been doing in here?! There truly wasn't an area untouched.)

I looked down at him again and this is what I saw.
Warning: Do not be fooled by the pitiful looking angelic face that is shown below. There was (I'm sure) a mischievious little plan already brewing inside his mind as this picture was being taken.

My heart did go out for him...a little. After a long talk about being naughty and not dumping water outside of the bathtub ever again, the discussion ended with lots of hugs and reassurance that he was not actually going to jail...or getting thrown away. (At one point during our little talk, I explained to him that because he had dumped water on everything in the bathroom, certain things were going to have to be thrown away since they were ruined. Parker misunderstood me and thought I said that I was going to have to throw him away. My heart tore in two when I realized why he was so upset at that point. Poor baby.) 
Though he knew he was in deep trouble and had his "bathtime play" privileges taken away for a night or two, he went to bed with a smile on his face. He knew his mama still loved him even though he had been a little troublemaker that night. I love that he knows that.


Fact: It actually took all but 4 clean towels in our house to wipe up the mess in the bathroom.
Fact: My bathroom floors finally got cleaned and are shinier than ever...Note: do not thank Parker for that...he is to never find that out!
Fact: No matter how exasperating some evenings get with him and his little self full of constant creative energy, I love him so much I could just burst.

What's been on your bathroom floor lately?