Monday, September 26, 2011

Spice Girl

Before I headed home from work on Thursday I received a text with a picture of Riley lining up our spices at home. I was impressed at her precision and creativity, but she's my daughter so it doesn't take much for me to be in awe of her.

I was especially impressed when I got home and found every spice lined up in an arch.

Look Mommy! I even put the sugar packets out!

Jesse and I proceeded to step over and walk around this masterpiece until Riley knocked some of the spices over when she was practicing her jumping. She's pretty good at that too except for her balance or lack of ability to actually get her feet off the ground. But man she does it with flair!


Saturday wasn't that eventful, but I completed what I set out to do for the weekend (or at least what I proclaimed to my co-workers I would do with my weekend). What's that you ask? Do laundry, change diapers, and buy printer ink. Multiple people had left work early on Friday to do exciting stuff like hiking in nature so I had to keep it real. Although leaving the house to buy printer ink was pretty crazy sh*t for me.

We did go to see grandma Ann and grandpa Frank at the nursing home in the morning. While there my dad decided to go pick some apples off the apple tree in the enclosed courtyard. My step-mom lives at a memory care facility so when certain doors are opened an alarm goes off. Usually they are set off by one of the residents, but this time it was by my dad when he went into the courtyard. Staff finally got the alarm off after setting it off a couple more times and we got some apples. My dad gave one to Riley and she gobbled it right up. It was pretty impressive. I'm pretty sure she ate part of the core, but it didn't seem to phase her.


The nice days are getting rarer and rarer around here and I am anticipating three feet of snow on the ground any day now. At least that's how I recall previous seasons. Keeping that in mind we attempt to get outside when we can. Our first outside excursion for the day was a stroller walk with a stop at the park.

Stopping for a snack... because sitting in a stroller is hard work.

Riley has never been much of a swing lover... until recently that is. Usually she begs to get out of the swing, but this weekend Jesse and I were the ones doing the begging. "Did you say 'all done'? No? Are you sure?" The only time I think she really wanted to get out of one swing was to try the one right next to it. And to be honest I love that she loves the swing.

On this contraption you bounce up and down. Up and down, Up and down. She loved it and we love seeing her able to tackle new parts of the playground. There was another precarious area that she crawled up that neither Jesse nor I thought was possible. Not only did she do it, but the second time she cruised up it.

More bouncing.

Awe, such a sweet picture of my girl with her daddy.

After the park and some lunch my little Monkey crashed for a nap while I watched the first part of the Vikings game. Yet again they dominated during the first half. They couldn't screw up the second half a third time this season, could they?

Riley woke during the beginning of the third quarter and as much as I wanted to watch the rest of the game I also wanted to get back outside. It's apple picking season here so we headed out to Minnetonka Orchards. It's about a half hour drive from our house so I was able to listen to the Viking's game in the car. How things can change so fast! One minute we were up by 20 and the next we're only up by 3. And then we're tied 23 - 23. And it was time to get out of the car. They couldn't possibly lose this one during the last moments of the game just like the first two, could they?

So off we went to check out the orchard. They had all sorts of kids areas to play, a corn maze, farm animals to pet, food, and apples to be picked, of course. Lo and behold the first thing Riley noticed was the swing set. So we swung... and swung.... and swung until a cute little 6 month old girl started giving Riley the evil eye for hogging the swing.

After a little urging we were able to get Riley to move on to the play train which she had a lot of fun with, but isn't quite big enough to take full advantage of. You'll get there soon enough, kiddo.

We didn't go on the hay ride, but I took a picture of one!

They had animals you could pet and feed as well... Sheep, Llamas, goats, and chickens

Riley didn't tackle this mound of hay this year. Maybe next year, kiddo.

Jesse was hesitant to enter the corn maze for fear that we would be deep in the maze and our kid would start freakin' out, but she was really good. We didn't really go very far because she pretty much headed straight towards the corn and pealed off the dried out leaves.  She obviously did not get the concept of the maze.

Dead end.

Finally, we arrive at the apple trees. Apparently the apple season is a bit off and we only had the option of Honey Crisp apples. At least they are one of the good ones. A bunch of us apple pickers stood around while an employee explained where to pick and warned us that everyone has been bitten by a bee today. Everyone? She even suggested that if we had hoodies we better put them on so our necks weren't exposed. And then she continued to talk about the bees and the biting... uh, not sure if I want to bring my kid into the bees lair of death. No matter, Jesse helped Riley steal an apple off of a restricted tree picking area and they hung out towards the end of the row while I filled up a peck of apples.

Risking their lives to come find me.

When we got home I discovered that the Vikes lost, but I couldn't have cared less. I got to spend the day with my family and that was a big win.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Benefit

I know I have mentioned before that my mother in law, Suzie, was sick, but I never really explained how sick she was. Some time ago she had a cough left over from a cold that never went away. Long story short... she discovered it was lung cancer, had surgery, and is in the midst of chemo. She recently confirmed that the cancer is gone from her lungs so we are hopeful for her prognosis moving forward. Suzie is a very special lady and I feel very grateful to be a part of her family. She raised a couple of compassionate, smart, and entertaining sons and I am lucky to be married to one of them.

Since Suzie has been out of work her family put together a benefit for her this past weekend at the Shakopee VFW. Luckily her son, Rich, (Jesse's brother) and his family were able to come in from Pennsylvania to attend. We love having Rich, his wife (Susee), and their two boys (Mason and Cade) visit. One of the best parts of having them in town is seeing how much fun Riley has with them.

They arrived Friday while I was at work so Jesse took them to Edinborough's indoor park with Riley.

The last two pictures are actually from a previous visit, but you get a better sense of the scope of the park. I have a feeling Jesse and Riley are going to spend a lot of time at the indoor park this winter.

On Saturday the benefit started with a motorcycle run at 11:00 and continued with the main event at 4:00 where there was a raffle, silent auction, bake sale, food, DJ... We weren't able to make the bike run, but have the below picture and video to give you a taste of what it was like.

290 people

180 bikes

At first glance the above picture simply looks like Jesse is going in to kiss Riley, but if you look closely you can see his brother's head squeezed between them in the background. It's really not much of a picture, but I found it amusing and had to include it.

The above picture was taken right before most of the bikers returned. Once they entered the building it was shoulder to shoulder standing. It was an impressive turnout.

 Susee, Rich and his aunt Debbie and uncle Jamie.

Back inside the VFW Suzie and Michael thanked everyone for coming out to show their support.

One of Riley's favorite parts of the night was walking up and down the stairs while counting the number of stairs. She's been pretty good at counting to 5, but she stepped up her game this weekend and now sort of counts to 13. There are a couple numbers she struggles with, but she seems to favor 'two', 'tree', 'si', 'eigh', 'nine', and 'tertteen'.  Back at home she even started to point at numbers in her books and say what they were without any prompting. She'd get them right regardless of the order. Kid's brains amaze me.

We weren't able to stay long at the benefit because of Riley's sleep schedule, but we heard that it was quite successful. Before we left we bid on a kid's pink blanket with pictures of ninja monkeys on it and a bacon basket (bacon flavored soda, bacon flavored lip balm, wallet with picture of bacon, etc...). I have a co-worker who is a bacon fan so I was hoping to surprise her with it. Unfortunately, we did not get the bacon basket (sorry Nakeela), but we did get the blanket. Our nephews won the bacon basket and earned their grandma even more money by auctioning off a glass of the bacon flavored soda for an additional $60 bucks. Such innovative kids.

The next day we gathered at grandma Suzie and grandpa Michael's house after the Vikings game was over. Well, at least it was over for me. I watched the game at home while Riley napped, but they tivo'd it so I had the pleasure of watching the Viking's painful loss twice.

Peekaboo or shame over another lost Vikings game?

This was also a rare opportunity to get pictures of the 4 grand kids together.
Riley, Mason, Cade, and Maddie

Where's Riley?

She sure loves her cousins.

"Hand me the football. I'll show them how it's done."

Grandma with her gang (and a tired Riley).

Unfortunately, the weekend had to come to an end and Rich and his family had to go home. We're already looking forward to the next time we'll get to see each other. We miss you guys!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My dad and the internet

My 83 year old father is not internet savvy. He's never been on a computer, but often calls me to get information off the internet. Usually I provide him with phone numbers or addresses, but I've even had the opportunity to settle a dispute between my dad and my brother about chickens thanks to the world wide web.

Recently my dad asked for my email address. He is in the process of getting new renters for his farmhouse in Wisconsin and one of the potential renters asked if he could email his application. This resulted in the following conversation (FYI, you'll probably figure out that I have changed the details of my email so you won't have much luck if you try to email me at

Dad: Do you have an email… email number?
Me: An email address? Yes, I have several.
Dad: Several?! Why would you need several?
Me: [Start to explain and then realize this is getting way too complicated. Back up and essentially say “for work and for personal emails”. This seems to satisfy him.]
Dad: Well, I might as well get it now in case these potential renters need to email us information. [he rummages around to find paper and pen while TV blasts in the background]. Ok, I’m ready.
Me: E
Dad: E?
Me: E as in Elizabeth. E dot.
Dad: What do you mean ‘dot’?
Me: Uh, dot like a period. E period, but it’s called dot in an email. So E dot, J
Dad: E dot J? Hold on, I have to turn this TV down. [returns after background noise is turned down]
Me: Yeah, E dot J dot
Dad: Another dot?
Me: Yes, so E dot J dot Davis
Dad: D or Davis
Me: Davis. E dot J dot Davis at… um [knowing he has no idea what @ is] this is actually the @ sign, not the word ‘at’.
Dad: There’s another dot?
Me: No, after davis is the sign for ‘at’. It’s an ‘a’ with a circle around it.
Dad. An ‘a’ with a circle around it?! [I sense mass confusion in his voice].
Me: Dad, just tell him E dot J dot davis at… and he’ll know what ‘at’ means. Ok, E dot J dot davis at Netwebs… n e t
Dad: n e t
Me: w e b s
Dad: w e b s
Me: dot, or period com. c o m
Dad: dot c o m
Me: yes
Dad: Yeah, this guy is 50 and he said he just started using the computer, but he asked if I had email.
Me: [Envisioning two senarios: 1. Due to 50 year olds inexperience with the computer I get spam email  asking me to buy erection medication from Canada. 2. I never receive an email because he doesn't know what eperiodjperioddavisatnetwebsperiodcom is.]

I know I make fun of the conversation my dad and I had, but I do have to give him some leeway.  The internet world does have it's own language that non computer people are not aware of.And sometimes I am a little envious of him. My job requires me to be on the computer all day and then I often come home and spend more time checking my email, blogs, writing this blog... What did I do before computers? Sometimes I want to go back there. Sometimes.

True to form my dad called back about an hour later and asked for Channel 5's phone number. I can't wait to find out what atrocity he plans to report to their news team. I love my dad. : )

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Living Room Rescue

I know I need to focus on completing the kitchen remodel, but now that the kitchen is open to our dining room and living room I can't help but think about decorating the living room. Because it needs it. The room was once somewhat decorated, but that furniture moved to the basement once the basement was remodeled (and then we sold most of the furniture for something more fitting of the basement).

Now it looks like this.

Obviously we had a kid between the first set of pictures and the second, but you might also ask 'is this where you keep all your spare furniture?". And I'd say "yes, it is".

The Couch: The current couch I bought many years ago and had at my last house (which I now rent out). It was a challenge getting into my previous house to begin with, but when we moved we just couldn't get it out. No matter how hard we tried it wouldn't budge. We couldn't figure out how we got it in there in the first place. So we had to cut off the bottom corner of the couch and then screw it back together once out of the house. Luckily it doesn't squeek and is just as comfy as before. However, it's green and doesn't match the blue walls (the blue color looks more accurate in the first two pictures). We got this couch cover to make it blend in. But it's a couch cover and no matter how nice you try to make it look it still looks like a couch cover. The cats love to sit on the back of the couch so we added a blanket (much easier to remove to wash than removing the entire cover), but it's a pretty ugly blanket. We tried to fancy it up with pillows, but I'm not feeling those either. As much as we love the comfort of this couch I think we one day envision replacing it with something a little less casual. In the meantime we need to make this couch work.

The Chair: The chair was a hand me down from a friend. Part of the wicker has worn away and the cushion design is pretty ugly. The cats will be a little disappointed if we get rid of this chair, but I am ready to let go. My husband has his heart set on a leather chair. I am a little skeptical of this because of the cats, but I do like the look of some leather chairs.

The Tables: The side table and the TV stand (aka dresser) are hand me downs from my family. The dresser has been in my family for some time so I am pretty attached to it. We are using it here, because we didn't have a stand for this TV, but I'm not sure where else I would put it. I think we might put it in the dining room under a large window, but that will depend on how it looks. I don't think the side table fits here at all, but maybe it will next to a leather chair. Otherwise I'm not sure where to put it or if I could part with it.

The Toys: As you can see Riley has taken over the space with her furniture and her toys. Until recently this didn't look so crowded with toys, but grandpa Frank brought over a bunch of toys that are all laid out in front of the TV. I would like to find a way to organize these so they don't always feel like they are taking over the room.

The Curtains: When we moved in this room had cheap, dirty white blinds. The great thing about them was that they let in so much light. The amount of light this room gets is one of my favorite things about our whole house. We were originally planning to get new curtains in the attached dining room so we figured we would do them all at the same time. One of the reasons we selected curtains was that the cats have a tendancy to ruin blinds. We picked the curtains above as we thought they would still let in a lot of light, soften up the room, and make the room feel a little more grown up. It just happens that my in law's have the same curtains in their living room, and I love them in their home, but not so much in mine. I've just never warmed up to them in this room and I think it's because they overpower the room. It pains me to think about replacing them, but I think that may have to happen one day.

The TV: The TV is on the list to replace just like the rest of the furniture. It will be larger and flatter one day. At one time we were going to remove the TV from this room, but I like the idea of cooking in the kitchen and being able to have the game on. Go Vikes!

Essentially, I need ideas. Bad. I have been searching the web looking for inspiration, but just haven't found what I am looking for. I also need to make sure it blends in with the dining room and the kitchen.

Please help us with any inspiration or ideas you may have.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It finally happened. Riley... pooped... in... the... tub... That's right... pooped. In some ways I am happy it happened, because if I took her out of the tub a moment earlier she may have pooped on me. When it happened a little chaos ensued since this hadn't happened to us before so we didn't know what to do. Get kid out of tub? Remove poop? What do you remove the poop with? In my attempt to go get something to help with the situation I heard something along the line of "Nooo! The duck hit the poop" bellow out of my husband from within the bathroom. Moments later I was walking back towards the bathroom to find our naked, wet child wandering the dining room. Jesse was apparently trying to keep all the bath toys away from the offending poop and our child. Once we put our heads together we were able to find something to remove said poo from the tub, clean up our kid and sanitize the tub. I know, I know... you're wondering where the pictures are, but you will just have to use your imaginations for this one.

I know I haven't posted in a bit, but life, as you know, gets a little busy sometimes. And people get sick. And really when I say 'people' I mean me. Sure my daughter got a little runny nose and Jesse has a bit of a sore throat, but I am always the one that gets hit the worst. I have recently learned that many families face this phenomenon... one parent is the healthy one and one is the sick one. Lucky me. I actually still have this cold as I type, but I am determined to get rid of this son of a b... oh, who am I kidding, I need to lay down.

So besides the poop incident and the cold we have done a few things somewhat worth noting. First, we finally tiled the back splash in the kitchen. We realize that there may be some fixes to it later (we have to install baseboard after the floor is in so we weren't able to tile to the floor near the stove).

Almost done... need to paint, put outlet cover on... and find a toaster oven that is younger than me. To be honest I really like this toaster oven and the attempts we've made to get a new one have been quite unsuccessful. One broke after a short use and the other repeatedly 'ticked' during cooking (so annoying). This one may not match and may be greatly outdated, but every time the bell on it dings my daughter says "dang!".

We were lucky to have grandma Suzie and grandpa Michael watch Riley while we tiled and they even ended up keeping her overnight. I think this is only the second time she spent the night away. Oh, what an odd feeling. In turn we had an exciting night of eating out and watching TV. What a life.

We also spent some time at our local Westwood Hills Nature Center. We mostly let Riley guide us as we walked around. She seemed to really enjoy all the dirt she was able to grub around in.

Speaking of grubbing in the dirt...

Here she is after finding some dirt in the driveway. Mixed with the snot running out of her nose she created a nice exfoliating mask. No wonder she has such a fabulous complexion.