Wednesday, August 29, 2012

During the Day

Asher keeps my busy. Asher keeps me on my toes. Asher has an endless supply of little boy energy. I have old mommy energy and am seeking more to keep up with my little guy. :)

So, what do we do all day? Oh gees, where to begin?

Asher has several play dates during the week. This week he will end up with at least 2 play dates, if not 3. He likes meeting up with his friends so they can play. I like that he is getting used to playing with his peers, getting along with others, all while I can teach him. It is best he learns behavior from me, after all, than from preschool, his Kindergarten teacher, or from a babysitter. Asher is typically well behaved in my presence, but like any kid, he has his moments.

Play dates are sometimes with Mommies but sometimes not. His friend Xander goes to preschool on opposite days, but has the afternoons to play. While Xander's brother naps, Xander likes to come over or go to the park with us to play. The boys are about the same size and typically get along well. I love hearing their little conversations. It is too funny. Asher also meets up with other friends and we go to the zoo, the forest, Mud Pies at the forest, The Children's Museum, picnics at the park and more.

At home, Asher likes to color, work in his Handwriting without Tears books, read books, ride his bike or plasma car, swing, play soccer or baseball, or watch PBS or Netflix, which I allow him to do for a half hour after lunch for "quiet" time. He is pretty good at playing cars or trains by himself, too, something the girls never really had to do as they always had each other. He is also back to taking swimming lessons, something he loves!

And, Asher has preschool. He LOVES preschool. He is far exceeding my expectations. He is listening, playing well with the other kiddos, and looks forward to going. I'm amazed.

I'm sure this year will zoom by, so we best get off to enjoying all the moments, big and small.

Looks like someone needs a left handed baseball glove!

Walking the Forest

Playing Cowboy

At swimming lessons

Lucky 13

On August 28, Chris and I celebrated 13 years of marriage! Wow! And they all thought (wished) we would not last! Ha!

The thirteen years have FLOWN by. When we got married, I was a clinic nurse and Chris was at his same company (yes, he is quite loyal). I started drug dealing, aka selling pharmaceuticals, shortly after we got married. We bought our first home, got our Masters Degrees, had 3 babies, I quit my job, moved again, and here we are today...the 5 of us. See...even when writing it down it flies by!

To celebrate, we attended curriculum night at the elementary school. Fun, right? When we got home, we tucked the kiddos into bed, ordered pizza and snuggled up to watch a movie. We ordered Godfathers, something we used to do ALL THE TIME when we were first married. We even ate the 4 pieces each that we used to eat. As Chris said, "We have been married 13 years, now eat up!" Dates at home can be fun.

I just felt lucky to have Chris at home. His Philly trip was cancelled for this week, which allowed us to celebrate at all, together. Chris leaves soon for another trip (maybe his last trip) to Florida, and I plan on meeting him there for the weekend. That will be when we really celebrate, checking out more beaches and just chilling out together. Taking a trip together for our anniversary, however small (or big this year), is something we hope to do annually. We started the tradition last year and liked it so much we decided to continue it. This is one tradition I liked too much too much to let go of.

Happy Anniversary, Topher! I will be forever grateful for you. You saved my life in so many ways. I love you today and always. You are my best friend, always there by my side, my soul mate. You will forever be in my heart. The first time I saw you I knew it was true. That I'd love you forever and that's what I'll do.

Here is a look back on Anniversaries passed...just for fun.
2007 8th wedding anniversary
2008 9th wedding anniversary
2009 A look back from dating beginning to current.
2010 Happy 11th! Our first alone staycation
2011 And number 12! Our first alone vacation together

And those links are the many reasons I document the Austin Life.

Monday, August 27, 2012

THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I found this cookie recipe on Pinterest (so pin these and bake them, they are that amazing!), and the girls and I tried them yesterday. They are awesome! I usually only like the dough (or at least find the dough addicting), but these cookies  are so good that I find them addicting. The dough was not a huge hit, according to Chris, but the cookie is the most amazing cookie!

Now, here is this amazing recipe. Tell everyone you know to try them, they are seriously that good!

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake
*I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour but I did use bread flour since I had some on hand.
 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds chocolate chips (I used 2 cups which turned out to be a lot of chocolate chips!).
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt
into a bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add eggs. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients slowly, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for
24-36 hours.
*Seriously, who wants to wait THAT LONG? I refrigerated our dough 12 hours and it was fine. Just saying.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.
Drop spoonfuls of dough (using a small cookie scoop makes a perfect cookie!) onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (I took the cookies out when just turning brown and let stand on the cookie sheet a couple minutes to continue to bake. They turned out beautiful. Then again, my oven is a super over and would turn cookies into a burned mess in 10 minutes!).

Girls Day Out to Mahoney!

iPad photo taken inside the indoor playground
We most certainly could not just sit at home while the boys went out and had fun, right? Addison was beside herself that she could not go to the airshow with Daddy and Asher. She did not want to go until they were leaving, then she was quite mad that she was not invited.

However, the girls did not like the noise and were quite disinterested the last time we attended the air show. Remember the 2009 air show? Alivia, this year, said she was NOT GOING! So, we decided to make a girls day out of it.

Where to go, what to do?

How about Mahoney? Alivia took her 7th birthday party to the Mahoney indoor playground and we had not been there since. It is only $2 per person (plus your state park parking fee which is $5 a day or $25 a calendar year), which is priced right for hours of play. However, I do not like going there in the winter months. I'm sure they do not clean the tubes to my standards (if at all), and this freaks me out a bit. The $2 may be more than I want to spend for weeks of colds and flu symptoms if we go during the winter. But, it is we were okay. The germs are still there, but hopefully nothing that can cause too much harm, right?

Luckily, the kids do not care. We arrived at 11:30 and they played until 2:30. It got really loud in there at 2, causing me to have some ear damage. But, the girls had a blast. They do not allow outside food or drink inside, but I did bring the girls a water bottle, fruit and yogurt. It beats the unhealthy food they have at the concession stand. Sorry.

We then drove over to the observation tower to see the views from 70 feet up. Alivia ran up the stairs reaching the top in record time. Addison, on the other hand, just could not make it to the top. So, we went back down. Alivia thought it was pretty cool, though.

We stopped to see the horses before calling it a day. We could have spent all day at Mahoney, but we will save some things for next time. The girls were wiped.

See, girls can have fun, too!

Offutt Air Show: A Boys Day Out

Chris and Asher took a boys day out to go to the Offutt Air Force Base Air Show on yesterday. Asher woke us up at 7 am asking, "Do we get to go to the airshow today?" He was so excited!

The boys arrived right at 9 am to begin to check out the airplanes. Asher has airplanes in his blood, so Chris says. My Dad is a private pilot and a builder of an airplane (Now how many people can say that?! It is one thing to fly an airplane, but it is a whole other story to be able to build one!). Chris is a private pilot, too. And, Asher's middle name is Wade, after my cousin who was a pilot and commercial helicopter crop duster (and city sprayer, too, as I know he sprayed around cities a time or two. He was quite the entrepreneur building up a million dollar plus successful business before his untimely death at the age of 33). Lucky for Chris, Asher loves airplanes too and says he wants to be a pilot (and a cowboy) when he grows up. We will see about that (at least the cowboy).

The boys started with the kids zone. Asher loved the bouncers they had there this year as well as the pedal planes. I guess they were really cool pedal planes, too! They walked around and looked at the airplanes on display, finding their second love, a jeep! (Asher has a large collection of airplanes, helicopters and now jeeps). They had plenty to eat, too, splurging on kettle corn, hot dogs and even a soda! That is what I call spoiled for a day. They sat down and watched the airplanes. I do believe Asher was impressed. The boys called it a day before the end of the show so they could get out of base in a timely fashion (having parked on base).

Asher was so excited to show me the new airplane he got, as well as a Frisbee, a ball, and a certificate saying he was a pedal plane pilot. They had a fun boys day out. They will have to have these male bonding days more often.

After the storm

That's right, we FINALLY got a little rain. And with it, colors brightened all around us.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another Austin Family Safari

Yesterday our family took another wildlife safari at the Wildlife Safari near Gretna, NE. It was a rainy, dreary day, but that did not stop us or many others from taking a safari. After all, we got front of the car seat views of all the animals!

The kids jumped up and stood at the window as we slowly drove through the park looking at all the animals. We did get out and brave the mist at the petting zoo (where Chris lost his favorite sunglasses!) where Addison and Alivia chased the baby chickens around petting them, and Asher stayed on the tractor practicing his driving skills. They love this area, and it is a welcomed addition to the safari this year. We always find new animals every time we go, this time it was the baby chicks.

We continued our drive through and then drove through again to look for Chris sunglasses, this time in a down pour of rain. Sadly, his sunglasses are now a part of the Safari someplace.

We love taking safari's. It is a fun place to visit as a family, whatever Nebraska gives us for weather.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Boys Day at the Zoo

Asher, his friend Cameron, and I set out for the zoo first thing this morning. Asher rarely sees his friend Cameron anymore now that we can not see his house from our house (Love the constant change that comes from living in an up and coming neighborhood :) ). So, today was the perfect time to get the 2 crazy boys together.

Asher is a quiet, shy boy...until he gets together with Cameron. Those 2 boys know how to keep me on my toes. I have to say, they were pretty good this morning at the zoo (I was shocked!).

We set out to see the new baby exhibits at the Lied Jungle. Oh my, these babies are adorable!! There were 2 sets of monkey babies, the spider monkey babies looked to be the youngest. They were adorable! My images appear like I was taking pictures of the babies from home. Really, I so need a zoom lens already!! Anyway, the boys had fun in the jungle. We then went through the Aquarium, the butterflies, more LOUD monkeys, the tigers and bears (oh no!), before going to see the IMAX show, Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.

The reviews on this IMAX feature on not so great, but the boys really seemed to enjoy it. I liked it, too, as I always learn something in watching the IMAX movies offered at the zoo. It saddens me that these wonderful fish of the sea are extinct, but perhaps that is for the best (as I am sure nobody would ever swim if they were still living). I would recommend the Sea Monsters flick.

It was then lunch time. Brrr! Where did the sun go? The boys did not seem to care and they scarfed down their lunches. We decided to hit the desert dome to warm up, but it was cold in there, too! Oh well, the kids ran off some of their crazy post lunch energy. Um, I do believe they may be testing me now. :)

After the desert, playing on the jeep in the Wild Kingdom Pavilion, it was time to go play down by the red barn in the fossil dig. The boys played here for quite a while, until I just got too cold. Seriously, it was 75, cloudy and windy. I was in shorter shorts and a short sleeved shirt and was cold! The boys were fine with leaving anyway.

On the way home, the boys politely thanked me for the day at the zoo. We looked up and saw they were practicing for this weekend's airshow. The boys were so excited that I found a nice little parking lot (that said no parking) and watched for a half hour or so. I am not sure what the boys liked more, the airplanes or the zoo! Cameron said his Dad used to fly at airshows, but he doesn't anymore (but sadly not the case at all). While Asher said that his Grandpa Bill has 2 airplanes, but sadly they do not drop bombs (the airplanes practicing at the airshow were dropping fake bombs. The boys thought this was really cool).

It was a fun day. Asher has thanked me numerous times already, and he is now planning his next play date. Boys...

Watching Airplanes

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Asher's 1st Day of Preschool

Today Asher attended his very first day of preschool at Sacred Heart Preschool. He was quiet in the car on the way there, perhaps a little uncertain of the days' events. We arrived on time, Asher hung up his backpack and made his way into the classroom where all of his "friends" were waiting. He walked into the play area and started playing. I tried to keep my emotions in check and our visit brief so Asher did not become upset. When he appeared occupied, Chris and I set off.

We peered in through the window and Asher seemed fine. He was busy playing. Huh, what do you know, he did fine!

I, on the other hand, was an emotional wreck. Chris hugged me, made a little fun or me, but I ignored him. Our kids have been my full time job since Asher was born. So, to be in this place, this alone place, was scary, lonely, and I missed Asher as I walked away.

Chris went up to his home office as I stumbled through walking the dog (I still have a bum knee). I then ran a couple quick errands before coming home to cleaning up the kitchen, laundry and dusting. Ya know, the normal household stuff. Before long, it was time to pick up Asher.

Asher reported having fun. He seemed happy, reporting he met 3 new friends, one named Boxer (really?). He seemed to do great on his first day. His only disappointment was that he has to wait until next week to go back.

I wanted to take him out for lunch. Asher, well, he wanted to eat lunch with the girls! So, that is what we did. Maybe we will have to eat dinner out instead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Asher's Approaching First

Tomorrow Asher begins preschool.

Yes, his life and mine are about to change. Tuesday was the open house at Sacred Heart, the preschool connected to our Catholic Church. I was not sure how Asher would do. He jumped out of the car and ran ahead of us. As we got inside, however, he grabbed Dadd'y hand and did not want to let go. He investigated the toys, finding airplanes, something Addison had specially told Asher that preschool did not have. He seemed to do okay. He said good-bye to his teachers and jumped into the car to go home.

He has his clothes laid out, his backpack ready, and he appears to be excited for the new adventure. He was hesitant at first about going to preschool after hearing his many friends would not be in his class. He asked about Xander, Henry, Cameron and Will, all going to other preschools. However, this will prepare Asher for next year when they may or may not be in his Kindergarten class.

I am quite apprehensive. My little boy, our baby, is no longer a baby. It is so hard for me to let him go, if even to preschool. I know he needs this separation, and I need it as well. Let's admit it, preschool is not necessary. Yes, it can be helpful in small doses, but it does not take a 40 hour week for a child to learn their ABCs, learn to write their name, start reading, etc. A little good parenting goes a long way, I believe. So, I will work with him at home, but give him the separation we both need to prepare for next year (in which I refuse to talk about).

Tomorrow, I will bring Chris along, knowing I am lucky to have him as we drive away. I hope and pray that Asher will do fine and PLEASE NOT CRY or I will totally lose it. At least he has seen his sisters go through all of this and knows exactly what to expect. He spent a lot of time in this preschool with Addison as I was a Mommy helper.

Tomorrow, it will be all about Asher and his first day of Preschool. And, he will do awesome!

A Mom's Life

That question has been coming up more and more, "What are you going to do while Asher is in school? And, better yet, what will you do next year?"

To be perfectly honest...

I have no idea.

I really do not want to think about it. For one, Asher is starting preschool tomorrow. If I can get through the morning without running back to get him, it will be a miracle. Chris is going with me, so I'm sure he will help me walk to the car and drive home. Other than that, I have no plans. I will probably clean, do laundry, and help Chris pack his bags for another trip out of state (this time to Pennsylvania for a week). Chris will help me through tomorrow, and I have next Tuesday morning booked (I'm getting my hair done for the first time since May!). I am guessing reality may set in on Thursday of next week when I am looking around the quiet and empty house wondering what I am supposed to do?

I am hoping to clean, go to the store, and run boring errands while Asher is in school. That way I can play more when Asher is home. I having some pins on Pinterest that I would love to do (I know, follow through on a pin!). I would like to complete my house fall cleaning, something I have started just in case. But, I never finished as Chris' work is wearing on me, my patience, etc. I will Christmas shop, scrapbook, and more during my few hours Asher is in school. And maybe, I will sit, drink tea, and enjoy the quiet.

After all, this is the first time I will be home alone without kids since being a stay at home mom. I may have to practice a bit before I find what I really want to do. It will be weird and lonely, so I will have to keep busy.

As far as next year, I have no idea what I will do. I actually do not care to even think about it. I have a year, and I tend to enjoy it. Next year will come, after all, whether I worry about it or not.

Let's get through this year first. And this year is all about child's play. Mom's life will come soon enough.

August Walk in the Woods

On Monday, Asher and I met our friends for a walk in the woods at Fontenelle Forest. The weather was perfect, sunny, warm (hot one may say), but perfect under the shade of the many trees in the forest.

Asher, Xander and Ben played and played at the Acorn Acres before we set off to look at the dinosaurs on display. As I have mentioned previously, the kids just really do not care about the dinosaurs. Ben, who is 1 1/2y, was the only one to really stop and look at the dinos. The older boys stopped, knew they were not real, so kept going.

We took a walk down a path making our way to the river before walking back up to the boardwalk. Ms. Bonnie got her workout carrying Ben! It was so beautiful, though, with the wind blowing through the forest and the birds happily singing. I could lay in the woods all day and just soak of the warmth and peace. But, lunchtime was approaching.

The kids played inside before Asher and I stopped for a picnic lunch outside. We have to soak up this beautiful weather while we can.