Thursday, December 31, 2015


just using this as a placeholder, more info to come

Going to See Santa

We took the kids to see Santa at the coffee shop by our house.  The girls were super excited, but Nathaniel was not amused.  Mrs. Claus was very sociable and friendly and made the girls feel at ease right away.

Amelia and Megan both asked for the same things - Legos and "a penguin stuffed animal with big sparkly eyes", meaning a Ty Beanie Boos penguin.  I think their eyes are a little creepy, but the girls love them.  They told Santa that Nathaniel would like anything that has to do with construction trucks, trains or tractors.  They know their brother so well!

Frozen Dance Recital

Megan's little friend Amelia's mom convinced me to sign the girls up for a little ballet class in the fall that culminated in a Frozen dance recital.  The girls all got to be winter snowmen, dancing to the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"  They had fun in the class, although I think Megan has realized that dance isn't what she really wants to do.  It was interesting to see that Megan (who has only taken a few short dance classes through parks and rec) danced about the same as her friend (who has been taking dance classes for the last three years at the most expensive place in town.)   Anyway, they all had fun dancing together, they loved their costumes, and they loved getting to watch the show from the wings.

I thought I was taking a video during the dress rehearsal, but it turned out that my phone wasn't recording, so all I have is a few photos.  Amelia was the first girl in line, she got to lead the rest of the girls on and off the stage; she was very excited to have that responsibility.  :)  Amelia is the girl on the right, Megan is next to her, and their friend is on the left.

December fun

We had a relatively low key December, but we did plan a few fun things to get us in the holiday spirit.  One Saturday I announced that we were going to go out to lunch and then go see the Christmas tree at the capitol building.  We ate at The Great Dane, which has delicious burgers, and Megan decided that she liked the smell of Ben's beer.  She didn't want to taste it, but she thought it smelled delicious.  Amelia, however, thought it smelled vile.  I guess I know which child I'll have to watch out for in ten years (as if that is a surprise to anyone).

Nathaniel was thrilled to watch the train underneath the huge Christmas tree.  In fact, everyone liked the train so much that I decided I ought to just take a photo of everyone's backs.  The ornaments on the tree are made by school children throughout the state; this year's ornaments were sports themed.  We went up to the second level to see the tree from higher up and look at all the various holiday decorations - a Nativity scene, a menorah, a Kwanzaa candle setup, and a festivus pole (the kids were so confused by that, but Ben thought it was hilarious).  We decided that the tree was not quite as large as the one last year.  They were setting up chairs for a Christmas brass concert, which would have been fun to listen to, but there was no way we were going to be able to wait another hour for it to start.

Amelia lost two more teeth in December, her top lateral incisors, within a three day period.  The tooth fairy brought her a dollar bill for the first one, and then a handful of random change that added up to $1.96 for the second one.  The poor tooth fairy had a $2 bill for the next lost tooth, but she stashed it away so well that now she can't find it.  So she had to take a little break from the lessons about various denominations about money.  Amelia asked for the first time why some kids in her class get $5 for each lost tooth when she gets much less.

The children's director at church organized a Christmas caroling party one evening, so I took the girls for about 45 minutes.  We walked around one street right near the church and sang to a few people.  Lots of people weren't home, but the people who were home seemed to enjoy it.  The kids didn't get discouraged about all the empty houses, they actually really liked singing to the dogs who would come bark at the windows.

I had bought tickets to the Nutcracker for the weekend that Mom and Dad were supposed to come; since they didn't make it, we invited one of Amelia's friends to come with us.  Everyone enjoyed the performance, although I think they were all getting a little bored by the middle of the second act, since there wasn't really any story line to speak of by that point.  During intermission, some of the first act dancers came out and posed for pictures with the audience.  Amelia was the only one who wanted her picture taken with the girl who danced Clara.  Nobody wanted their picture taken with the mouse king, although I thought that would have been really cool!  I loved going to see the Nutcracker again!

 Ben took off the entire week of Christmas, but the girls still had to go to school Monday through Wednesday, so we took Nathaniel to see the trains at Olbrich Botanic Gardens by himself.  He LOVED it.  The train setup is much smaller than either the St. Louis or Chicago Botanic Gardens setups; it had two different train tracks that ran short loops with Lego scenes in the background.  But Nathaniel could have watched it for hours.  In fact, I think we spent about an hour just in that one small room, walking back and forth between the different trains.

He didn't want to be taken away from the trains to get his picture taken with Daddy:

And he got really mad when we had to leave to pick the girls up from school.


just using this as a placeholder, more info to come

Nathaniel's Second Birthday

We celebrated Nathaniel's birthday when we went to Glenview a week before his actual birthday.  Mom and I made him a three layer chocolate cake, and we borrowed Natalie and Noah's little construction trucks to decorate the cake.  This is a super easy cake to decorate.  :)

Nathaniel wasn't quite sure what to make of his cake; he wanted to take the diggers off the cake and play with them.  He also wasn't fond of the candles, and didn't have any idea how to blow them out.  Thankfully, there were a few other kids around who were excited about helping him blow out candles.

He was, however, excited about eating the cake, even though you can't really tell from these photos.

The bigger kids were also very helpful when it came time to open presents.  Nathaniel was very excited about playing with his new fire truck that makes all kinds of crazy loud noises, and ALL the kids wanted to play with his set of battery operated power tools, especially the CHAIN SAW.  How cool is it to have a toy chain saw?

The girls thought we needed to celebrate his birthday on his actual birthday, too, so we made him a pan of brownies.  Nathaniel absolutely love construction trucks right now, so we made another construction scene.

Once again, he wasn't very excited about having his favorite trucks on the cake, or about having candles lit in front of his face.

Somewhere I have photos of him eating his cake, but my photo management system is messed up, so I'll have to add those photos later.  He decided to use his trucks to eat his cake, so he was licking cake out of the digger bucket; it was very cute.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I'm always curious what my kids will want to dress up as for Halloween, so I start asking them a couple months in advance.  This year, Amelia decided right off the bat that she wanted to be Kiersten the American Girl, who lived on the prairie around the same time as Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Amelia picked out the fabric for her costume herself; she decided that she didn't want her dress to be exactly like Kiersten's (because Kiersten's is dark red and has no ruffles) so she went with purple instead (I'm sure you are all surprised to hear that.)

Megan kept changing her mind about what she wanted to dress up as; various ideas included a cat, Jessie from Toy Story, and ice Elsa.  About two weeks before Halloween, she settled on Princess Aurora, which was perfect because we had that costume in our dress up box already.

I took photos of the girls the weekend before Halloween when they were dressed up for our church's trunk-or-treat, because the weather was lovely, and I figured it would probably be cold and rainy on Halloween (and I was right!)

I chose Nathaniel's costume for him - he loves minions even though he doesn't really know what they are.  And while he would probably have been thrilled to be a backhoe or a train, those seemed like complicated costumes to create, and a minion costume was EASY.  Especially since Becky dyed the shirt for us.  Anyway, he was very excited to be a minion!

Halloween didn't turn out how we planned, but we still had a fun evening.  The Weidners were supposed to come visit us over the Halloween weekend, but Amelia had been struggling all week with an on-again off-again fever, and it came back Friday evening, so they ended up not coming.  We were all so sad.  :(  Randomly, though, my friend Lori from Kraft called up to see if they could come trick-or-treating with us, because they were up in Beaver Dam at a hotel while her husband went goose hunting.  So we had fun company for trick-or-treating anyway!  Amelia was feeling fine most of Saturday, but by the time we got back home in the evening, her fever was back.  It was cold and rainy most of the day, but the rain stopped around 5:15, and by the time we headed out around 5:30, it was actually reasonably nice outside.  So here are our kids with Michaela and Kasey:

You might notice that Megan is wearing her Halloween costume from last year.  She decided it was too cold to wear her thin Princess Aurora costume, and she was really happy to dress as Coronation Elsa again.  And I was happy that the costume got used again after all the time I spent making it!

We had also met up with a few friends on Thursday to go trick-or-treating around downtown Sun Prairie.  Here's our group of friends, along with the only photo I have of my three kids together in their costumes:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What have we been up to all fall?

It's been a long time since I've posted; I got tired of sorting through photos and journaling about our lives.  But the kids and I really enjoy looking back at posts I've written in years past, so I decided that I should try to keep it up.  So here goes.

Amelia got a tie-dye kit for her birthday, and I was a little nervous about how it would go, so I delayed and delayed and delayed actually using it.  Finally I decided that if we were still going to try it out this fall, we needed to do it before freezing weather arrived, so we picked a warmish fall day and gave it a try.  I was surprised at how easy and fun and minimally-messy it was!  Megan needed help getting the rubber bands or zip-ties tight around her shirts, but Amelia could do it almost entirely by herself.  We did the actual tie-dyeing outside on the deck, which was a good idea because some definitely got squirted on the picnic table and the floor, and it was much easier to clean up outside.  We also put the clothes we were dyeing on cooling racks so that they wouldn't soak up other colored puddles.  The girls did shirts, leggings and socks.  Coincidentally, the next Thursday was a spirit day at school - Tie Dye Day!  The girls decided to wear all their tie-dyed clothes at the same time.  I'm sure they were the most colorful kids at school:

The girls had to look at every single pumpkin at our nearby farm before they would choose one to take home (they really remind me of me and Becky when we were little!).  Thankfully I had procrastinated long enough that there weren't too many pumpkins left.

The farm has a little petting area with some goats and chickens and ponies.  The kids tried to feed the animals, but the goats weren't interested in the grass, the chickens tried to peck their fingers, and they were afraid of the ponies.  They did, however, LOVE the barn cat, who was very tolerant of children.

When we went to the pumpkin patch, Nathaniel wanted to choose small white pumpkins (they're actually a kind of gourd, I guess) instead of a big orange pumpkin.  When we got home, he wanted to sleep with them.  That was three weeks ago, and they are still in his bed!  He calls them "baby" and refuses to lay down unless he knows they are in his bed with him.  Sometimes he even says "bank" and tucks them in with his blanket.  He is wearing his "reer reer" jammies (or firetruck jammies, for those who don't speak toddler.)

I signed both girls up for Lego Club at the library last month, since Megan is finally old enough to go.  They sat next to each other and cooperatively built a castle.  I asked Amelia if she would have wanted to sit by someone else, and she said "No, I always want to sit by Megan because she's my sister!"  The library has some really interesting building pieces.

The little maple tree in our front yard dropped half of its leaves all at one time, and they didn't blow away immediately. So for the first time ever, we had enough leaves to rake up a little pile.  The kids were ecstatic!  The girls took turns burying each other, and they did such a good job that you can barely see them in the following photos.  Even Nathaniel got in on the fun by throwing leaves in the air and running through the pile.

We decorated our trunk for our church's Trunk or Treat.  I showed the girls a few examples of decorated trunks on Pinterest, and they quickly decided that they wanted to do an under the sea themed trunk because they wanted to play the fishing game.  So I asked them if they would make some sea creatures to live under the sea, while I taped three sheets of foamboard together to make our fishing area.  Their friend Aiden was over, so she helped with the shark.  This was a great project for them - it kept them busy for ages and they were so proud of their decorations.  Everyone at the trunk or treat loved the fishing game, too, and thought it was clever that their "fish" were actually little bags of goldfish crackers.