Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31: Audrey's birthday

Man, this day did not go as planned!  Isla started acting unwell and running a fever this afternoon.  And then tonight, while trick or treating, Audrey started to feel bad again.  She came home with a fever and nearly hysterical with pain.  Not a fun way to celebrate Halloween or her birthday.

With two sick girls and less than 48 hours until the start of Audrey's birthday party, we decided it would be best to postpone the party until next week.  Audrey is going to be so sad when she finds out, but there is just no way that we could pull the party off with sick kids!  I want Audrey to enjoy her party, and the way she is feeling right now, she is not enjoying anything!

So, back to today, we started the morning with Isla fussy and up early.  But Audrey slept until 8, and she was ready for a fun day when she woke up.  We opened her presents first thing.

She got her very own camera from Mommy, Daddy, and Isla.
 Nana and Papa and Great Grandpa and Great Grandma also sent her presents.  She got a set of Snow White figurines and a Tiana doll from Nana and Papa. 
 And  she got a sticker book from Great Grandpa and Grandma.

Isla was a bit fussy, but I didn't want Audrey to miss out on our planned mall trip for her birthday.  So we went to the mall, where Audrey got to choose if she wanted to ride the carousel or get a bear at Build a Bear.  She has had her heart set on the carousel for months, but she changed her mind and wanted a bear instead.

Build a Bear is a pretty good deal if you just get the $10 bear with no extras.  It's a fun experience for preschool kids.  Audrey went last year for her birthday, and she was just as excited to go again this year.  I was not too happy with the sales lady who was helping us though.  Audrey picked out her bear (well, she picked out the only option I gave her!), and then the sales lady took her hand and led her to the sound table.  She said, "Now you get to pick out whatever sound you want to put in your bear."  Those sounds cost $4-$8 each to put inside the bear...and she didn't even ask my permission first!  How was I supposed to tell Audrey "no" when her eyes lit up when the lady told her "yes" she could have a sound.  Ugh!  So, $4 later, and we now have a bear that sings a happy birthday song when you push his paw.

Isla fell asleep on the way home from Build a Bear.  While she was sleeping, Elliot came over (we watch him on Wednesday afternoons).  I made Audrey and Elliot a special Halloween lunch, mummy dogs and witch broomsticks, plus some apples and caramel for dessert.
Then Isla woke up with a fever, a sign that things were not going our way today.  Elliot went home early to avoid our germs as much as possible.    Soon it was time to get ready for trick or treating.  I wanted to at least get a picture of both girls in their costumes, even though Isla was going to have to stay home.  We did manage to get some pictures of both girls in costume, and I think Audrey had a few moments of fun before she started feeling too awful.  I will post the Halloween pictures tomorrow in a separate post!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30: Halloween, Birthdays, Parties!!

This is always such a crazy week.  Now, that Audrey is in school, it's even crazier!  I knew there was a reason that I didn't want her to be born on Halloween!  =)  Fortunately, Audrey was well and back to normal yesterday.  And the rest of us are still well, so hopefully we will be able to enjoy all the festivities and craziness.

Today was Audrey's Halloween party at school.  She got to wear her Rapunzel costume.  Her bff Anna also wore a Rapunzel costume (no surprise there, these two girls are always trying to copy what the other is doing).  We got to sit in on part of their circle time today too, and it was fun to see a little of what Audrey is learning at school.  They sang two songs for us and quoted Galatians 5:22-23, the fruits of the spirit.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Audrey's birthday in the morning and go trick or treating in the evening.  Then it is time to get ready for the big birthday party on Friday. 

And when I say big, I mean big.  If everyone who says they are coming actually comes, we will have 26 adults and 18 kids at our house on Friday night.  I'm kind of freaking out.  I knew we had a large guest list, but I assumed that not everyone would come.  But nearly everyone is coming!  To our house!!  Audrey is super excited about all these people coming to her house.  I guess that's all that matters, right?  If she thinks it is great, then it doesn't matter if her mom has a mental breakdown during all of it?   I have no idea where we are going to put all these people or how we are going to avoid complete chaos.  But I'm sure it will be lots of fun!!  =)

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29: More Walking

Are you tired of watching Isla walk yet?  Not me...I think it is the cutest thing ever!

Lately, she has been having races with herself.  She will walk (as fast as she can) to the wall on the other side of the room.  Then walk back to the coffee table.  Back and forth, again and again.  She makes the cutest sound while she does it too (it's too quiet to hear in the video below), and you can tell she is just so proud of herself.

I'm especially impressed that she was able to walk so well with her too big pajama's flapping around her fee.

She also started to try to jump tonight...kind of.  It's really more like squatting.  She will only do it when holding on to something.  And sometimes she just squats down and forgets to come back up.  But it is so cute!!!

 Oh, and today she CRAWLED!  It was kind of an awkward crawl, but she did it several times.  I was super impressed.  My almost 17 month old can finally crawl!  =)

Now, we just need to get her to start talking...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28: Sickness

Yesterday, Daniel took the girls to a party at our bank while I went to the grocery store.  Audrey got her face painted by a professional face painter.  It was so pretty!

Unfortunately, by the time she got home from the party, she was not feeling well and started running a fever.  The fever is still hanging around today. 

Let's take a look at all the fun things going on this week:
Tuesday is Audrey's Halloween party at school.
Wednesday is Audrey's birthday.
Wednesday is also Halloween, which means trick or treating.
Friday is Audrey's big Rapunzel birthday party.

There is not much room in the midst of all those fun things for a sick girl.  Or a sick sister.  Or a sick Mommy or Daddy.

I am hoping Audrey will be feeling better by tomorrow.  I am worried that one of us will be sick next though.

Ugh, I do not like sickness.  Not one bit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26: Date Night!

 Yesterday, Daniel and I got to get away for a night for an early anniversary celebration trip to St. Louis.  The purpose of the trip was to see Les Miserables at the Fox, but we also spent the night, did some shopping and enjoyed four kid-free meals.

My mom and my sister (and her baby) came over to watch the girls.  I think they all had a good time.  Here they are watching a movie.
Les Mis was amazing!  Though we almost didn't make it in time for the show.  We thought we left ourselves enough time to get there, but we ran into traffic less than a mile away from the theater.  Then there was the problem of finding somewhere to park.  If you are late to the show, you have to wait outside for the first 12 minutes until they let you go find your seat.  We paid a fortune for these tickets, so I was determined that we should not miss a single second of the show.  We ended up getting into the theater right as the music started and the doors were closing.  We then had to find our seats in the pitch black while the show was starting.   The Fox seats over 4000 people, so getting to our seats in the dark and in the middle of all the people was not an easy task.  But we made it, and it was worth the effort!

This was our sixth trip to the Fox (previous shows:  West Side Story, Wicked, Lion King, Mamma Mia and In the Heights).  We have sat in a different part of the theater each time, and I have learned that in such a huge theater it is worth spending the extra money for better seats.  If you end up in the middle/upper balcony seats, the people and the stage are super tiny.  I just don't think it is worth going to the show for that view.  So we paid for top notch seats in the mezzanine, and it was a great view!

The show was great; I would highly recommend it.  This is the 25th anniversary production, and they have made some changes to the set and the music.  There were some really cool effects towards the end, and all of the vocal performances (with the exception of Fantine, neither of us were a fan of her voice) were exceptional.  If you get the chance to see this tour, go see it!  (It will be in Chicago for about three weeks in November).  And if you can't see the live show, the movie version is coming out this Christmas.  It looks like it is going to be great as well!

We went to the 1:00 matinee of the show (because it was $10 cheaper per ticket).  So that left the rest of the evening open.  We checked in at our hotel (Residence Inn in Clayton, a great $55 Priceline deal).  Then we went to dinner at Cheesecake Factory and did some window shopping at the Galleria and Crate and Barrel.  We were too full after dinner to eat our cheesecake, so we brought it back to the hotel to enjoy after our shopping.
Before we left this morning, we did a little shopping at The Container Store, World Market and Trader Joes.  We had a yummy lunch at Five Guys, then came back home to see our girls!

It was a great and relaxing little trip.  It has been almost two years since we last spent a night away, and it was definitely time.  Now, we just have to remember that this was our anniversary trip and that we spent all our money on this trip.  So when our real anniversary comes around (December 20), we have to remember that we don't get to go out and celebrate again!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23

Isla and I went to the mall today while Audrey was at school.  We had the whole playland to ourselves for a while, and Isla was having so much fun walking all over the place.

These pictures aren't in focus.  Partly because my camera phone is junky.  And partly because Isla was on the move and didn't want to stand still for pictures!

Now that she is walking, all of her gross motor skills are improving drastically.  It's like she is a different girl!  She now finally rolls over on purpose, and sometimes she even sleeps on her tummy.  That should be completely normal for a 16 month old (or a 6 month old), but Isla has never, ever, ever been a fan of being on her tummy.   She can now finally get into a sitting position from lying down too (again something she should have been doing a long time ago).   She is also able to go from sitting on the floor into a standing position all on her own, without holding onto anything.  Considering that she could barely pull herself up not too long ago, this is huge! 

And with her newfound walking skills, Isla is exploring the house on her own as well.  When she was scooting, she would sometimes scoot into a different room away from us, but not very often.  Now she is wandering everywhere.  And she is obsessed with climbing stairs.  We finally had to put baby gates up by our stairs, because Isla finally noticed them. 

It is a lot more work to watch her now, but I am so happy about all of this!  It is so fun to watch her explore her world on foot.  And I am so excited to see her catch up on a lot of these developmental milestones.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21

Since making a breakthrough with her walking on Thursday, Isla has continued to walk on her own all through the weekend.  She was walking all over the church.  At one point, I was in the auditorium and noticed Isla was not around.  She was all the way out the door and down the hall...totally walking on her own.  She is starting to get a little faster too.  We are all very excited!!

Today we had Audrey's four year photo shoot.  I take lots of pictures of Audrey, but whenever I try a more formal photo shoot, it never goes well.  I have so much patience with other people's kids.  I know not to expect them to look at the camera or smile.  I just let them do their own thing and try to capture some good shots.  But when it is my kid, I just have no patience.  All I want her to do is to look at the camera and that too much to ask?  =)

Well, I loaded up on patience, and took Audrey off to the park for some pictures this afternoon.  I tried to treat her like I would if she were someone else's kid that I was photographing.  And it worked.  I felt like I was pretty patient, and she did a pretty good job of cooperating. The pictures aren't ready yet, but here is a preview.

 Audrey also insisted that I get in one of the pictures.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

She's Walking, yet again! (And I think it's real this time!)

So I have posted video of Isla walking several times.  And every time I post it, the next day Isla goes on a walking strike and refuses to walk again.  I hope I am not jinxing myself by posting this tonight!

But I really think this might be the real deal this time.  Isla has been walking more and more this week.  She still prefers to hold onto a finger or scoot to get around, but she is much more willing to walk on her own than she ever has been in the past.   We have also caught her walking by herself when we are not paying attention.  Which means she is choosing on her own to walk rather than scoot, and that it is a big step in the right direction.

I remember Audrey falling flat on her face all the time when she was first learning how to walk.  Not Isla.  She is so cautious when she walks; I don't think she is ever going to fall. She takes such small steps, and if she ever feels like she is unbalanced, she either stops to catch her balance or sits herself down.  

Tonight, the girls were with me at church for a meeting.  I think Isla liked the wide open space (and probably the cheers and attention she got from everyone else) because she was walking ALL OVER THE PLACE!

We will go back to physical therapy on November 1.  Once Isla is walking more on her own, Shannon wants to observe her gait and make sure she is walking correctly.  I think she favors one leg more than the other (as you can see in the above video), but I'm hoping as she gets more practice walking, that will improve.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 16: Family Fall Festival

On Sunday, we went to the Family Fall Festival hosted by our church.  We had a great turnout and a good time celebrating (again!) all things fall.  Fall really is a great season.  So many fun things to do!

This event was perfect for Audrey because there were a lot of crafts.  And this girl loves to make crafts.  

They also had face painting.  Again, always a hit with this little girl.

One of my favorite parts of the night was watching Audrey and Elliot compete together in the three legged race.  They are so cute!

Isla recently discovered the tunnel at the bottom of the playland.  I think it would be much more fun for her if she would learn to crawl around in it by herself.  But she is content to just scoot through it.  These pictures are horrible quality (trying to take pictures in the dark tunnel without a flash=not a great idea), but her smiling face is so cute that I still had to post them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 13: Celebrating My Birthday

My birthday was on Thursday.  My thirty second birthday.  Geesh, I'm getting old!

It was a good day except my computer stopped working.  We have been having issues with getting it to charge for a while now.  It has been repaired twice and then it broke again.  A new computer is now on its way to me.  Happy birthday to me.  Except it is not a very fun birthday present when it has to come out of our budget! 

For my birthday, Audrey insisted that I should have a Belle party.  She wanted a cake with Belle and the Beast spinning on top of it.  Daniel printed a picture of Belle and the Beast dancing, cut it out and put it on top of the cake.  Audrey was pleased with the cake. 

She was also pleased when I let her help me blow out my candles.

On Saturday, we went out with some friends to celebrate.  We enjoyed a nice, kid-free evening with dinner at Bella Milanos.  Then we went to see the movie Argo (which is a great movie by the way, you should go see it).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 10: Monster Day!

It's been a really long time since we have done any themed activities around here, so I figured it was time.  Just to change things up a bit and make things more interesting, for both me and the girls.  So, after checking out a couple of monster books at the library this week, I declared today:  Monster Day.  Our friend Elliot came over for the afternoon, so he got to enjoy some of the festivities with us.

For lunch, I made Audrey a monster peanut butter and jelly sandwich with monster eyed peas (inspired by this blog).  I didn't want to go to the grocery store, so I had to use whatever I could find in my kitchen.  I think my sandwich turned out looking more like a strange looking man than a monster, but I don't think Audrey cared too much.  She was still excited to eat it!
For a snack, I made Audrey and Elliot monster pudding (inspired by this Pinterest find).  I didn't have the right kind of cups, and I didn't have any oreos to put on top.  I found a few chocolate sprinkles to use on the top, but I didn't quite have enough to give the full effect.  But again, the kids didn't care about my imperfect monster pudding creation!

Audrey and Elliot also got to make their very own monster pet, using random craft supplies that we found in the basement.  I think these turned out pretty cute!  The green one is Elliot's, and he named it Aiden.  The pink one is Audrey's, and she named it Girl Aiden.  (so creative, I know!)

I didn't take any more pictures, but throughout the day, we also:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9: Countdown to Audrey's Birthday

The countdown is on to Audrey's fourth birthday!

Audrey's friend Anna has a birthday this week, and my birthday is also this week.  With all the talk of birthdays, Audrey was feeling a little concerned that she was not going to get to have her birthday.  So we made another paper chain like last year to help her know how many days until her birthday.

It's no secret that I like to plan big parties.  And I have managed to share that love with Audrey.  She has been interested in helping me decide everything for this party. That girl loves birthdays and parties, and I'm afraid I have created a monster party planner in her!  She is now old enough to decide what kind of party she wants to have, and she chose a Rapunzel party this year.

I really want to try to stick with my budget for this party.  Actually, I really NEED to stick with my budget because money is tight around here these days.  My budget for birthday parties is between $250-$300.  I feel like that is a reasonable amount for a themed party with decorations, favors, dinner and dessert for 30 plus people.   I went a little over for Isla's party (closer to $375), mostly because I just wasn't paying attention to how much I was spending.

I am writing all of this not because I think you care, but because I need some accountability.  It would be so much fun to plan a party without thinking about costs, but that's not possible right now and probably not a very wise use of money.  So I'm posting my budget here, in the hopes that if I make it public, I will be more likely to stick to it!

Invitations:  $25
Decorations:  $75
Audrey's Rapunzel Costume:  $25 (which will also serve as her Halloween costume)
Favors: $40
Food:  $100
Games:  $25

TOTAL:  $290

My plan is to report back here about how much I spend in each category.  Then if I go over budget, you all have my permission to yell at me!

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8: Martha Stewart Fall Fun Weekend

This past weekend was our annual Martha Stewart Fall Fun Weekend with our friends.  This was our sixth year of participating in this weekend about all things fall.  (You can see previous posts about this here, here, here, and here). 

Our group has gotten bigger and bigger each year.  This year, for portions of the weekend, we had about 20 adults and 14 kids (age 5 and younger!).

We stayed in a hotel Friday night.  The past few years we have just made this a day trip, but it makes for a really long day on Saturday to try to squeeze everything into one day.  So we all hung out on Friday night in Tuscola.  We did some outlet mall shopping, ate pizza in the hotel lobby, and went swimming!
Saturday morning, we went to Curtis Orchard first.  Traditional activities here include:  pony rides, eating apple cider and doughnuts, and feeding the goats.
 I love doing these same activities every year, because it is fun to compare pictures from year to year.  Here is Isla last year when she was about 5 months old.  She was getting ready for a bottle, while the rest of us enjoyed our apple doughnuts.  This was also her second day wearing her helmet.
 And here is Isla this year, helmet-free and enjoying her donut just like the rest of us!  Such a big girl!

We headed to Arthur next, which is in the heart of Illinois Amish country.  We went to a unique bulk foods store called Beachys and stocked up on some spices, grains, candy and cinnamon rolls!

For lunch, we needed a restaurant that would be big enough to accommodate our group of 30+ with many small children.  (Just in case you haven't been to a restaurant with small children in a while, it is not always a pleasant experience...especially when you are talking about 14 small children in one restaurant!).  We made a reservation at Yoders Kitchen in Arthur.  And it was the PERFECT setup for our group!  They have a large room in the back to accommodate groups just like ours.  We had a huge long table, and plenty of room for the kids to run around, as well as our own bathrooms.  They offered a buffet, which again was perfect for a large group with small children.  I was so excited to find a place where we could all eat together in a fairly enjoyable way!
After lunch, it was time for the main event (and the inspiration for the whole weekend):  the Great Pumpkin Patch.   It was pretty cold and windy, so that put a slight damper on an afternoon at the pumpkin patch.  But it didn't stop us from having fun or taking pictures.

Big news at the pumpkin patch!  Isla (who hadn't walked at all since the previous Wednesday) took quite a few steps by strange place and walking on straw!  She had a big audience, and everyone gave her a huge cheer when she finished.
Here is the "must take no matter what" picture at the pumpkin patch each year.  I love watching how they grow!

And the other "must take" picture: