Archive for August, 2010


Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I didn’t think it was going to happen, but I actually got a project completed while the girls were away. And just in time for the girls to return to be surprised by these fun dresses. I can’t wait to see what they look like on all the girls. Glee!

just vi and me

Friday, August 27th, 2010

As I mentioned before the girls have been away visiting some Minnesota relatives. I was hoping to complete a lot of projects on the want-to-do list, but it wasn’t to be. Instead Vi and I have really bonded this week. She figured out pretty quickly that she had me all to herself and has demanded those exclusive rights most of the day. Let’s just say that Vi’s favorite place to be is on Momma’s left hip preferably being walked around. This doesn’t leave much time for crafts, but I do love me some Violet.

In other news, you may notice a few red marks on Violet’s nose and upper lip. That would be my fault. While picking tomatoes with Mike the other night I unwisely thought Vi could hang out in one of the girls’ folding chairs. I mean, c’mon, it’s only 4 inches from the ground. Nope, Vi took a nose-dive into the stone patio floor and scraped up her lip and nose. Chalk this one up as realizing a 1-year-old is not coordinated enough to sit in a big kid chair yet.

toothless grin

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Annie’s front teeth had been loose for a long time, but she did not like us messing them to try to loosen them more. In turn, we waited patiently for the two buggers to get to the point where they were loose enough to come out on their own. Finally, one night Mike noticed that one tooth was quite loose, and he was determined to get it out. He promised Annie the moon if she would just let him get it out. Well, the moon wasn’t exactly was promised. A hexbug nano with remote control was up for negotiation, and then Annie finalized the deal with the purchase of a new watch. After much pulling, prodding, twisting, inspecting, tying on of strings, crying, screaming, and begging for no more the tooth was finally yanked from Annie’s mouth. The next day we went and got Annie all of the items promised to her which cost nearly $40. I asked Mike if the whole experience was worth $41 (don’t forget about the tooth fairy), and he said, “ABSOLUTELY!” Truly a dentist.

The other tooth made it’s way to being so loose to the point of just hanging on by a thread, but Annie refused to let Daddy talk her into another torture experiment. I kept telling her it was going to come out any day on its own, but she wasn’t convinced. Then on our way to Legoland, Annie declared that her tooth was on backwards. I told her it would definitely be coming out any second. Annie proceeded to get herself into hysterics and insisting that it wouldn’t. Not more than a minute later Annie screamed, “My tooth came out! My tooth came out!” I think it was worth it to finally let Annie experience a tooth coming out all by itself this time.

surprise legos

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Upon reading a friend’s blog I found out that we have a Legoland near Chicago. I think Julie was reading the same blog post at the same time because the first thing we said to each other in our next conversation was how we needed to take the kids there for one of our final summer field trips. It turns out it may be the last field trip of summer for us with the Johnsons because the girls were shipped off to visit with Minnesota relatives for the next week and a half. The original plan was to just send Annie and for only a week. However, the timing didn’t work to do it for just a week, and Stephanie felt awful after seeing the pain in Mimi’s face when she told Annie she’d be seeing her again soon. So Stephanie and Jake invited Mimi to stay with their family. How could I resist such an offer especially with Mimi longing to go, too? It’ll be so quiet around here without my squirrely girls, but I know they will have so much fun on their trip. I’ll post news about their adventures when they return.

Anyway, back to Legoland. We decided Wednesday was our last chance to make it happen, so we arrived at opening time and played up until lunch. The lunch offerings were not appetizing to Julie and I, so we opted for the Chipotle across the street. Good thing because it turns out Vi loves black beans and rice. The girls and I needed to head home after lunch to make it back in time for Mike to load up and drive off with Annie and Mimi. The Johnsons went back and stuck around until 3:15.

There were lots of photo ops, and Julie and I looked like 2 freaky moms who had to take a picture of every moment. There was just so much to see and do, and we didn’t want to miss a second of documentation.

Couldn’t resist this shot especially since Annie lost her 2nd front tooth on the way there. That tooth was so loose, and we kept telling a reluctant Annie that that tooth was coming out any day. During the car ride Annie declared that her tooth was backwards. I told her it would probably come out any minute. After many objections from Annie the tooth came out, and Annie couldn’t have been more thrilled. I almost forgot to post about Annie’s first front tooth loss. I’ll be sure to do that soon. BTW, Einstein was a little creepy in the background with his moving eyes.

This was a display of Chicago. It was very detailed and thorough with the Navy Pier, Sears Tower, Water Tower and so much more. The lighting would switch back and forth between night and day.

Like I said, multiple photo ops with so many life-size figurines.

This particular Legoland isn’t as large as the one in California (or so I’ve heard), but it did have a couple of rides that were age-appropriate for our kids. One ride was a medieval dragon adventure. Julie and I got suckered into purchasing a picture magnet of the kids on the ride. Luckily, they sold them in sets of 2, so that we could split the price in half.

The other ride was a flying bike ride? How else would you describe it.

Fortunately for Violet, they also had a toddler section with these foam legos. Violet loved it.

She wasn’t as excited about the duplos though and climbed out about as fast as she was dropped in.

The kids signed up for the workshop which had an instructor walk them through building a gecko. Sadly, the lizard was $5 and was not coming home with us.

Is it me or is Mimi looking way too grown up these days?

After a day full of fun it was time to head out. I’m glad we made the quick decision to make this field trip happen.

It was time to say good-bye, and the kids opted for a group hug. I don’t know what those hooligans are going to do without each other and their play dates each week.

year old smiles

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

While at the zoo this past weekend I made it a point of sneaking off with Vi to do a little photo shoot. I figured since it was her first birthday and we were in a outside setting that it would be a great opportunity. The most beautiful spots were out in full sun, so I had to settle for a grassy nook.

I was waiting with Vi on a park bench because she wasn’t big enough to go into the free-flying bird zone, and it occurred to me that I could get a cute shot of her on the bench. Glad I tried it.

phish-y and pictures of a pretty senior (another picture overload)

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Hawley family (ha, I bet you thought I was talking about my own family) came for their annual visit to see and us and also attend some Phish concerts. It worked out great for them last year, so they thought it would be fun to do it again. We were definitely up for the visit since we love having people come visit US on our turf. Like I said before, Jake and Steph and fam were gone during the night for their concerts, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t spend 2 days together showing them around Kenosha and Racine. They arrived late Friday night, so we spent Saturday hanging out in downtown Kenosha at the Harbor Market, on the trolley, and at Lake Michigan.

The next day we headed up to Racine to the Racine Zoo. Jake and Steph have an annual pass to their zoo which gives them reciprocity to all the WI zoos, so we thought this would be a great place to go. I won’t bore you with lots of animal pics, but you have to check out the gargantuan orangutan and the silly giraffes. I also got a couple of fun pictures of the Hawley boys and Jake’s family all together.

I also got another nice surprise when Kayla, Stephanie’s oldest daughter, asked if I would take her senior pictures. Of course, I was up for the task, and Mike and I immediately discussed where to take her for the shots. Obviously, I had to take her downtown after the fun pictures I got of the girls down there, and how could we not include beautiful Lake Michigan? Kayla is a gorgeous girl, so I didn’t have to do much to get some wonderful pictures of her. I really hope she and her mom are as pleased with the results as I am. You can view all the images in a slideshow here: kayla’s senior picture slideshow.

vi turns 1! (warning: picture overload)

Monday, August 16th, 2010

It’s hard to believe, but my baby turned 1 this weekend. I honestly don’t know how we have arrived one year later after this little sweetie was born. Continuing with our low-key birthday traditions, we decided to just keep things simple for Violet’s birthday “party”. Mike’s brother Jake and his family happen to be visiting this weekend, but they were not going to be around during the evening. The day was planned for other events, so it was decided we’d celebrate later on. We invited the Johnsons over for dinner, and celebrated afterward with cupcakes.

When the guests first arrived Annie and Mimi insisted on giving the birthday girl a princess treatment.

We made the kids all eat outside for dinner. They weren’t that thrilled because it was quite balmy that day.

Vi watched from afar and daydreamed about being big enough to sit at the kids’ table one day.

I couldn’t resist offering Violet some violet cupcakes. I figured I’d keep it girly with the pink and purple theme.

Vi got her own cupcake and was unsure about it at first until I rubbed a taste into her mouth. Once she figured out that she kind of liked it, then she began to explore. Violet got bored after a few minutes though and demanded that the cupcake be removed (or thrown) off her tray.

Vi was quite ecstatic to open and receive her presents. And played with them so nicely afterward.

Later on that night Violet and Seth played “give me that dang tiara back”, and Violet was the most excited I’ve ever seen her.

As another birthday present to herself Violet is working on weaning. She went to bed that night with only drinking a cup of milk and no demands for Mama’s milk. She’s now down to just a quick feeding in the morning when she wakes up. I’m hoping she’ll be done by the end of the week. Yay, Vi!

HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY, VIOLET! You are so loved by your Daddy, Mommy, and 2 big sisters!!

russell the caterpillar

Friday, August 13th, 2010

While visiting Door County I happened across some milkweed and spotted some caterpillars. I pointed them out to Mike, and he excitedly replied that they were monarch caterpillars. This was good news as we had been mourning the loss of our other caterpillar pet (he ran away when Lucy knocked his “home” over, we don’t dare imagine that Lucy would have eaten him). We decided right then and there that we would be taking one home with us to make him part of our family and watch the stages from caterpillar to butterfly.

After much consideration we named him Russell. It was actually Mike’s choice, and there was no convincing him otherwise even though Annie and Mimi really wanted to name him Sparkles or some princessy sounding name. By the way, we have no idea if “he” is a boy or girl. For all we know, every time we call him Russell he could be cringing with shear agony of being thought of as a boy.

We made sure to take care of Russell during our drive home from Door County. It occurred to us that we’d have to take Russell to Minnesota with us to stay with Grandma while we went to SD. Grandma seemed to be okay with taking care of this particular pet instead of Lucy. Her only responsibility was to feed him new milkweed leaves every so often. Russell did appreciate Grandma’s care, but he was so thrilled to have us back with him again.

Meet Russell.

Not long after arriving home from MN we noticed Russell had attached himself to the top of the netting in his bughouse via some white webby-looking substance. The next day we saw he was hard at work getting himself ready for the pupa stage. He had made a little bubble around himself, and we could see him squirming inside. By the end of the day he was a full-fledged pupa. What’s even more beautiful about Russell the Pupa is that he has gold sparkles. Maybe Annie was on to something when she came up with her name choice. According to the internets, Russell will be in this stage for about 10 days. Oh, we can’t wait to meet Russell the Monarch Butterfly.

Russell the Pupa.

Like any proud parent, we filmed Russell while eating.

the door was open, so we went in

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Growing up the city girl that I’ve been my entire life and having parents who think vacations are only to be spent lounging on a tropical island, I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy camping or being outdoorsy in the least. Then Mike entered into the equation, and I had to throw all those notions away. The first time we went camping together I really didn’t enjoy myself, and I think it mostly boiled down to not having the air bed. I know, it’s stupid, but it really has made all the difference (even though I really don’t ever get much sleep while camping). Now ever since adding the air bed to our tent furniture I actually enjoy the whole camping experience. Turns out I CAN deal with the constant application of bug spray, smelling like a campfire, and possibly not bathing for more than a day.

When the Johnsons mentioned that they planned a camping trip with Mike up in Door County without my knowing I acted all surprised and as if I dreaded the camping experience. In reality though, I looked forward to the adventure. Someone had told me about Door County before, and I have wanted to go since then. It was decided that camping up there would be a money saver but also fun for the kids. We arrived Thursday night. The men immediately started a fire and set up camp while the ladies got dinner going. The next morning we got up and made doughnuts and then ventured our way over to our first stop at Cave Point Park. We were amazed at how crystal clear the water was there, and the rock walls and shore were stunning. We spent a good chunk of time just frolicking and exploring.

Next on our agenda was to visit the Cana Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1869 and boasts 96 steps up to the top. They restricted access to 42 inchers or taller, so we had to leave the babies behind which meant splitting our group up into 2. It was pretty spooky going up to the top and seeing how steep the steps were, but we made it up without any drama and got to experience such the beautiful view up at the tippy top. The Johnsons have a different story to tell with Julie and the kids scaling the walls and fearing for their lives. Wimps!

Violet decided she would stand up for a few nanoseconds.

The last part of our day was spent exploring the shops of Fish Creek and attending the traditional fish boil. Julie and I were skeptical about the fish boil, but it was actually quite delicious and provided an entertaining show.


Of course, we couldn’t leave without getting the kids a wearable souvenir and even more fun to match your best friends.

We had to head out a little earlier than originally planned because of the funeral, but we did manage to squeeze in some fun in the morning. The Johnsons were able to spend the rest of the day in Door County exploring some other sites and also made it for tailgating in Green Bay for the Packers’ Game.

I’m so glad we did this before we move away next year. It would even be fun to make this a yearly or every-other-yearly thing to do.

Tomorrow come back to meet Russell.

the loss of a hero

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Last week was a blur, and I apologize if I missed any promises I made to you (I know I did forget a church duty I signed up for and probably a list of other things). It was with such a great shock that on Monday we received terrible news about the loss of a great friend, Ryan Arnold. Ryan committed the greatest act one can do in his life, giving up his own for another. Ryan’s older brother, Chad had been diagnosed with a fatal liver disease and was told he needed a liver transplant in order to survive. Ryan and his other immediate family members were tested to see if any of their livers were a match. Ryan turned out to be the best match, and Ryan didn’t hesitate for one minute to do what it took to save his brother’s life. The surgery was scheduled not long after. Ryan and his wife Shannon traveled to Colorado for the surgery which was scheduled last Thursday. Both men got through the surgery as planned and even showed positive progress the couple of days following. However, for some reason Ryan took a turn for the worse on Saturday night/early Sunday morning and went into cardiac arrest. I’m unsure of all the details, but after his resuscitation Ryan no longer had any brain activity. Ryan was officially deceased on Monday afternoon. The details of his passing are written in these 2 articles, Arnold remembered for family and Dr. Ryan Arnold

I cannot begin to describe how I felt after learning this news. A flurry of emotions went through and continue to plague my mind. We saw the Arnolds just over a month ago when we visited and stayed with them in their hometown as part of our SD/UT trip. They are the sweetest family you could ever meet and have always tried to include us in their lives even when we all get so busy. We visited them when they lived in Nashville, TN while Ryan was attending Orthodontics school, and we also traveled with them to the Black Hills for a week-long trip while the guys were in dental school together. The Arnolds also helped us to get a taste of a Watertown winter when we visited them right before Christmas in 2008. Ryan and Mike’s hunting and fishing history goes as far back as practically the minute they realized they were both avid hunters/fishermen. The Arnolds have 3 beautiful sons, Graham, Owen, and Oliver, ages 5, 4, and 18 months.

We traveled back to Watertown, SD to attend the funeral on Monday. A couple of other dental school buddies and a hunting buddy caravanned with us from Minnesota to South Dakota on Sunday afternoon to stay at another dental school friend’s cabin close to Watertown. It was actually great to catch up with those guys; I’m just so sad it had to be under these circumstances. The service was beautiful but also made us realize how much Ryan was loved after seeing the 500+ people in attendance. Many stories were told about Ryan as a person and about his life, and Mike and I really did agree with all that was said about him. Ryan had a way of making you feel like you were his best friend that you knew forever.

Mike and I have shed a lot of tears since learning of Ryan’s death. It seems inconceivable that such an honorable man doing such a courageous act could have his life taken away like this. Everyone has said though that even if Ryan knew the outcome beforehand that he still would have followed through with the surgery to save his brother’s life. That’s the kind of man Ryan was. He leaves behind an amazing legacy in his beautiful wife Shannon and his three sons. I hope they have the comfort that they need at this time and pray for their healing.

ETA: If you are interested in helping to support the Arnold family during their time of need, there has been a trust set up for the boys that anyone can contribute to at I know they will appreciate any contributions made.