Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exceptional & Invaluable Chris

Chris came home from work yesterday with some news.

He was called into his boss' office. Now, the last time he was called into his boss' office he was laid off. So, I braced myself. So did he as he sat in the office. He said it was either going to be good news or horrible news.

It was GREAT news!

Chris' bosses recognized him for his hard work and dedication since moving into this new department at work. They gave him a recognition letter using words like, "exceptional support to our team, " Chris has made a positive difference," "creative and eager to learn," "Extraordinary graphic artist, " "added vibrancy, "exceeded expectations," and finally, "Chris' work ethic and creativity truly makes him invaluable to this project."

And, they attached a bonus to the letter.


Congratuations Chris!

Vala's Pumpkin Patch 2010

Vala's Pumpkin Patch 2010
Yesterday we met Chris' family for the Austin night at Vala's Pumpkin Patch. It was a perfect day and evening with temps starting in the 70's and ending at 65 without any wind. We arrived about 4pm staying until 9:15! We closed Vala's down...what fun!

What did we all do? Well, we started by taking our food down to the fire pit where we were to have our hot dogs and smores later. Then it was off to go down some slides, play in the corn, ride the train, jump on the great pumpkin jump, play in the corn, peddle the trikes, walk through the lost pumpkin mine, get a picture with Mickey Mouse, walk through the corn maze, watch the pigs race (and ducks, too! That was new this year and is too funny!), play on the spider web, walk through the storybook barn, Chris and I went through the haunted farmhouse while the kids played with Grandma Kathy in the schoolhouse, watched the dragon show (one of Addison's favorites), take a train ride - choo choo!, and watch the scarecrow band all before getting back to the fire pit!

About 7:15, we were ready for a break and some food (not like the Kettle Corn was not filling us up or anything). We met up with Chris' family: His parents, Uncle Brent, Aunt Bridget, with cousins Lucas, Henry and Ben. After a fire roasted hot dog and a HUGE marshmallow roast with smores, the kids were ready for more Vala's.

We went back for more pig and duck races where the girls were the helpers for the second time. They were thrilled about that. There were really few people at Vala's at this point (which was so nice!). Then we went back to the Great Pumpkin Jump to close down Vala's.

What a fun night! The kids loved all of it! Chris and I liked sitting by the fire. But, there was a not a lot of time to just sit. It was also the first time that we did not utilize a stroller (Nice, but sad all at once). Alivia liked The Great Pumpkin Jump best, Asher liked the tractors in the sand, Addison liked the slides, the mine, the dragon show and the pumpkin jump. Thank you Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Bob for a fun night!

Going to Vala's Pumpkin Patch? Keep these things in mind:
* Stroller for little ones...the place is huge
* Water bottles for drinks (but there is plenty of food there!).
* Hand wipes (There is plenty of hand sanitizer there, too).
* There are a lot of porta potties...but there are some walk in bathrooms too. Worth the walk to go to those and just go whenever you see it.
* Dress in layers, pack light, and carry a backpack
* Visit when you have lots of time. We had to rush and still did not get to everything before dark (we wanted to take a hayrack ride and see the pumpkin patch).
* Visit Monday - Wednesday...probably quieter days and evenings to visit and is less expensive to get in, too! ($9.75/person M-W, 12.75 Th-Sunday).
*Have fun!
Addi at the Potty :)

Alivia & Asher at the Bunnies

At the Great Pumpkin Jump!

Kids of the Corn

In the Caboose

Pumpkin eating Dragon

Trike Time

Daddy & Asher on the Trikes




Mickey at Vala's!

Addi & Alivia in the Pumpkin

Asher & Daddy listing to the band

TIC TAC TOE with Toilet Seats for O's!

Corn Maze...This was fun!

Asher's Favorite - Tractor time

Pig Helpers Alivia & Addison

With their Spider Prizes

Asher as a pig helper!

Ducks Racing at the Pig Races!

Hot Dog Time

Closing Down Vala's

The FENNISH...:)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Single Mom for the Weekend

This weekend I experienced what it would be like to be a single mom, or even a mom with a traveling husband. Chris took a cross country flight (much needed to keep up his pilot's license) with  my Dad to Illinois somewhere to an air show to look at airplanes. My Dad is pondering whether or not to buy another airplane.

The boys left Friday morning under clearer skies. They were ready to depart for home Saturday, but did not make it very far. It was stormy, so they landed and spend the night 1 1/2 hours from home. Chris finally returned home last night around 5 pm.

Chris returned, without a new plane (yet) mind you, but with a fun experience. He reports drinking Scotch and water with my Dad (seriously!) and having some real male bonding. I'm glad the boys could do that and not hate each other after the weekend! Maybe the scotch helps...I would not know.

Obviously, I am a stay at home mom so can take care of our kids by myself on most occasions. However, this tripped was not planned too far in advance, so I had to work out some minor issues. Saturday would have been a day that I probably would not have gotten out of bed all day. I was suffering from a cold and had a fever all day. Instead, I pulled it together and took the kids to the pirate festival and mowed the lawn in the afternoon. Sunday I had to call in reinforcements (my Mom of course) to come down for the 4th time in a week (but this was the first trip she made for us only) to watch Asher while I took Addison and Alivia to see Pinkalicious. Asher loved his time with Grandma, but I felt bad. Had I known in advance, I would have been able to get a babysitter. But, at 10am when I realized Chris would not be back in time, I did not want to call a babysitter and have her deal with Asher. Asher probably would not have stayed willingly with a total stranger anyway. Oh Grandma Bet!

I did not mind Chris being away for the weekend, but we did miss him. I did get annoyed with the kids asking every 5 minutes when he was coming home, especially since I had no clue. We pulled through and made things work. I do not know how divorced or single parents do it though. It is a lot of work to be a 2 parent party by yourself.

The next thing is...when do Grandma and I get to go away for the weekend and leave the kids with the boys?

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Today the girls and I rode along with our friends Kim and Nyah for a girls afternoon show to see Pinkalicious! at the Rose. We arrived in time to wait in the line to enter the theater. The girls received pink necklaces while we waited. Once inside, we turned our vouchers in for our actual tickets. Then, we had a decision to make - wait in line downstairs or go to the balcony. Addison selected the balcony. We waited a few minutes again upstairs before they let us in to find a seat. We selected a front row seat (or I selected one). Now, maybe the second row would have been better because the bar was right in front of us. But, the view was beautiful.

We then waited about a half hour for the performance to begin. Addison was in awe of the moving clouds on the ceiling and all of the statues (that were naked). She is very observant. Alivia did not say much but eat her candy that Ms. Kim provided. (Thanks Kim!). 

Shortly after 2, the show began. The show followed the book, more or less. Addison liked it when Pinkalicious' brother turned pink and when the Mom said, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." I say it similar but I say, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Too cute that Addison noticed that. Alivia just said she liked it. She is so opinionated these days.

It was a fun afternoon. Asher had fun at home with Grandma Bet waiting for Daddy to return from his airplane trip (he arrived home after 5). We should do more girl days and give Asher some time for Daddy bonding. We will shoot for that next time. 

Going to the Rose?
* Arrive early. It is general admission. With that said, there were some reserved spots for large groups and birthday parties.

* Bring a still camera, no video of course.
* Bring something for kids to do while they wait.
* Snacks if needed...no food is allowed inside the theater though.
* Have fun!
Alivia & Nyah

Alivia & Nyah
The girls at the show (Addi eating her candy!).

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Pirates Addison and Alivia

I won tickets to the The "third annual" MIDLANDS PIRATE FESTIVAL at the Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch from Momaha.com. Since we live so close, I thought it would be fun to check it out. So, this afternoon after there was FINALLY a break in the rain, the kids and I packed up to go to Pirate Festival.


That pretty much sums it up. I had never been to the Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch before, and I do not think I will be returning. I was disappointed. Mind you, anyone that goes expecting anything like Vala's will be disappointed. I was not expecting much, and I was still disappointed. The Pirate Festival was just plain weird. We missed the only show for kids in the children's area. We sat down just as the show was over. Nice. We walked around to see a bunch of vendors selling pirate stuff. We sat in on the end of a magic show and the man performing was asking for money donations in his pirate hat. Seriously, the price of admission should cover that! It is $10 for adults and $6 for kids! Gees!

Alivia just wanted to play on the play set we saw on the way in. After bugging me forever, we walked over to the playground area. It was weird, too. The equipment did not appear safe. No really, I am not being a paranoid parent here. I saw lawsuit written all over this stuff. It all appeared to be falling apart. The kids had fun in the house with slides coming out of it. There were many holes in that house where kids could fall. I just saw the whole thing as poorly thought out.

The kids wanted an ice cream cone before we left. But, after seeing everything, I thought it was best to go to McDonald's for that.

All in all, it was an outing. It was an experience. And, I learned something. Stick with what I know. At least it was free.

The Magic Show

Pirate Music Anyone?

The Playground Area

Friday, September 24, 2010

Austin Day off of Fun!

Today Alivia had the day off of school. We tried really hard to make her day off special.

After saying good bye to Daddy (he went on an airplane trip with Grandpa Bill for a night or 2), the fun day began with Addison's school pictures. She just ran in and had the picture taken and ran out. Today was not her actual preschool day, but we wanted her to be in her class picture! Now...we just have to wait for the pictures to come back.

After pictures, it was off to the zoo. The zoo was crazy! There were so many kids clubs there between Papillion, La Vista and OPS (and those are just the schools we knew were off), that we could hardly move! We went today with our friends Kim, Nyah and Keegan. It was fun to have company while looking at all the animals. We visited the Desert Dome, monkeys, gorillas, Madagascar and then stopped near the playground to eat lunch. Then we watched the seals for a while before making our way visiting the outdoor animals on the way to the butterflies. We ended our day at the jungle. It was fun...but much too crowded. I continue to take the stroller for the kids to ride in and for me to store our stuff in. If Addison or Asher would get tired, I am not about to carry them across the zoo. As it turned out, they rode in the stroller for much of the time. Maybe next year we can go without a stroller...maybe.

After the zoo, we said good bye to our friends, jumped in the car, and went off to visit Grandma on the farm. Grandma and Grandpa just got a new dog, Kota (short for Dakota, the birth name of this female yellow lab). Kota was extra excited to see us, and the kids liked being up close to a dog (since Mommy has no interest in having a dog of our own. No, I am not that brave). After the introduction, I left the kids with mom and went up to take a nap. I had not been to sleep since Wednesday night. In addition to being totally exhausted, I had a new cold. I was done. Two hours later I felt good enough to get up and finish our visit. My favorite part of our visit was when I was playing fetch with Kota. I threw her the ball and she ran, got it, and brought it back. Then, I threw it again. She ran and got the ball, the dropped it, peed on it, and ran off. What was that?! It was too funny.

We ate dinner with Grandma before making the trek back home.

Alivia could not decide what the best part of today was. She said the entire day off of school was fun. Mission accomplished!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Before & After: Trees in the Back Yard!

Okay...we bought these trees PRIOR to starting our money diet. :) Chris and I purchased these as part of our 11th anniversary gifts to one another. And, to top it off, they were 25% off with free install from Lanoha Nurseries! Chris and I have learned, fall is the best time to plant trees and plants. So, we hope to be able to put off all future projects for the fall. That is so difficult to do when everyone wants to plant in the spring.

The new trees are all in the backyard. We purchased one Marmo Maple to hopefully provide some shade to our back patio. We also purchased a big clump Heritage River Birch tree for the side corner to provide privacy while we are eating on the back patio. Finally, we purchased 3 baby Golden Raindrop Crabapple trees. Now before anyone comes over and judges the size of our crabapples, Lanoha did not have 3 of the larger ones. So, we had to get smaller ones.  Besides, trees do grow!

The backyard finally has some foliage. But, we have a LONG, LONG way to go. Chris and I really want to get it right, so we are waiting to complete our project so that the trees can provide shade and privacy. For now...we are done for this year.

Bring on the sun so I can sit under the trees!
Heritage River Birch

Marmo Maple Tree

Golden Raindrop Crabapple Trees