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December, 2009:

Clear and Dry

Sooooo, all that stuff about the roads in Nebraska and Iowa being totally nasty . . . um so far, it’s a bunch of crap.

OK, I admit – we did wait a day, and it could have been MUCH worse yesterday – we did see a couple semi-trucks either jack-knifed or tipped on their sides in the ditch today (obviously a day old) – one even had it’s entire load dumped in the median! And it was incredibly windy today – blew me all over the road. So OK, maybe it was bad yesterday 😉 Anyhoo – we decided to take off this morning and drive as far as we could before either the roads were closed or we got tired of driving on the bad roads.

We made it to Kearney, NE in the regular 6 hours. Drove 80-85 the whole way – the roads were COMPLETELY clear and dry. The. Whole. Way. So ya, a little annoyed . . . because 40 more miles up the road? I-80 is CLOSED! Yes, you read right – CLOSED! Now I understand 40 miles is a lot . . . and the storm must have been different there . . . but it’s hard to believe that when there is no snow and nothing here, there is enough to close Interstates 40 miles away.

HOWEVER, I have JUST been informed that they have now opened the last stretch of the Interstate to Omaha, and they have also opened I-29 to Sioux City – so ya – the Boedies will be up and out of the hotel on their way to see family and friends tomorrow!

We did make the most of our stay in the middle of Nebraska . . . we discovered the HI here a couple summers ago – it has a mini-waterpark in it :-) So we unpacked all of our stuff (Highlander was filled to the brim – literally!), brought in the snowboards, and headed to the pool for a couple hours of fun before going out for yummy BBQ at a local joint we also discovered a couple summers ago. We’re getting to be Kearney regulars :-)

Anyhoo – our plans have only been set back a day, which really isn’t bad when you consider that we, being the Brainiacs we are, decided to DRIVE 900 miles across eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and MN – in DECEMBER! We’re really grateful to have had a wonderful Christmas at home with family and friends, very pleasantly surprised that we had such an uneventful drive today, and hopeful that we can make it to MN safe and sound tomorrow, no matter how slowly we might have to drive.

Hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas weekend!

Snow, Legos, TVs, and Kitties

Ahhhh – Merry Christmas!!! I get a few minutes to myself . . .

Santa arrived and the kiddos woke us up at 6:00 a.m. to open their Santa gift.

One 9 year old boy sitting at a kitchen table intently working on putting together his ginormous Lego Police Headquarters.

One 7 year old girl reading a book about kittens after arranging all the “kitty gear” that Santa brought her neatly in her room. Santa can’t bring live animals, so he brought the stuff for the kitten that we can go pick out.

One 2 year old yellow lab snoring in the sun while laying on the brand new bed Santa brought her.

One 38 year old kid putting up the surround sound speakers in the family room (we’ve had them for 6 years and never put them up!). I guess he figured we should have surround sound to go with our new 40 inch flat screen HD TV! No, I didn’t think we needed a new TV – the 24 year old one we had worked just fine.

One 37 year old Mother sitting at the kitchen table bummed that we can’t drive to MN today, or maybe even tomorrow for that matter, because of the nasty weather in Nebraska and Iowa right along our route. At least the kiddos get to play with their toys today instead of jumping right in the car for a 14 hour drive. And MN will still be there on Sunday 😉

Here’s to hoping you had a safe and wonderful Christmas close to the ones you love.

Snowboarding – Check

Hubby and I went on a date Friday . . . to Breckenridge to go snowboarding!

A friend of ours took her two little boys up there because they didn’t have school Friday, so we decided to join her, without our kiddos because they DID have school on Friday.

We told Dude and Princess they were going to have a sitter on Friday after school for a couple hours because we were going on a date Friday. They were all excited. We all got in the car Friday morning to drive to the bus stop and it finally clicked for them. Dude looked at me and said “Why are you wearing your snowboarding pants?” Then without waiting he said “Hey! The snowboards are in the back! NO FAIR! You guys are going snowboarding!”

Then it dawned on Princess . . . “What? WithOUT US!?”

They couldn’t believe it 😉 I offered to have them go with, but neither one of them wanted to miss the awesome day of parties that awaited them at school.

So Hubby and I were off to find our legs on the slopes again.

Great weather . . . check.

Good snow . . . check (surprisingly!)

Excellent company . . . check.

Finding our legs . . . check.

One pretty spectacular fall for each of us . . . check.

One saved wrist due to wrist braces . . . check.

One injured tailbone . . . check.

Ibuprofen consumed . . . check.

Fun and loud entertainment with to the Dew Tour being there . . . check.

We’re headed back up on Sunday/Monday . . . we’ve got some friends coming in from Louisiana to enjoy our beautiful mountains! The kids are way excited, and we are way excited to get them up there and see our friends. We went up the same weekend last year, and Dude was lucky enough to get his picture taken with Shawn White and Hannah Teeter when his instructor took the 3 boys up to watch some of the half-pipe competition. Dude is hoping that might just happen again . . . I’m thinking NO since um, we are not instructors and will have no access to the heavyweights :-) But we sure will have fun, and might even pick up some schwag while we’re there!

Wish us luck!

Wordless Wednesday – Free Standing Wall

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I took this picture while on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. It’s amazing how they made this building’s angles just perfect so it looks like a ginormous free standing wall.

A Daisy Sleepover

As you may or may not know, Girl Scout cookie season is almost upon us! Because we’re a new troop, my co-leader and I decided to take our daughters to a cookie rally sleepover that another troop was putting on about 45 minutes away. The rally was in a large shed at a fairgrounds. We knew we’d be sleeping on a cement floor, so we made sure to bring ThermaRests and air mattresses. Here are Princess and K sitting on the airbed while our ThermaRests self-inflate.

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After we got our “bedroom” set up, the girls headed to the craft tables to make some fun stuff! Princess models her first craft, a Candy Cane Rudolph.

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They were having such a good time with the crafts while the other girls (60 of them ages 5-14!) arrived, that they moved onto the bookmark craft. It’s so fun that Princess is reading so well. Here she is reading the instructions on how to create her Frosty Reading on a Sled bookmark.

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And here’s the finished product :-) She did well!

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The whole point of the sleepover was to learn about the cookies we’d be selling, learn about the sales incentives, and of course taste the newest cookie – Thank U Berry Much. Princess gave it a thumbs up (they were REALLY good for those of you who buy Girl Scout cookies!).

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We of course had to have a see food photo – the cookies were THAT good!

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The place was so big that the girls had plenty of room to run around and burn off some steam in their pajamas :-) They had such a good time!

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After a yummy spaghetti dinner, the girls relaxed and read a book together.

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A little later, we headed over to see what the big girls were doing. They were having at on of fun playing some kind of game, so Princess joined in. They were playing a game called “Frog Catcher” – there is one girl who is the “detective” and has to cover here eyes. Then the rest of the girls in the circle put their heads down and their thumbs up. The leader puts one girl’s thumb down, and that girl is the frog. The detective comes into the middle of the circle and the fun begins! The girls look at each other, and when the frog catches someone looking at her, she sticks her tongue out and kills the other frogs . . . that girl has to lay down. This goes on until the detective figures out who the frog is. The detective gets 3 guess as to who the detective is. It was a lot of fun!

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At about 8:00 p.m., they opened up the candy, pop, and popcorn shoppe! It was all included in our whopping $7 fee per scout (adults were free!). They each got a bag of popcorn, some pop, and a full-sized candy bar to have while watching the movie. The movie was Up. The girls had a great time hanging out and watching the movie.

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Here’s Princess just finishing her Snickers bar . . . yes, she ate the whole thing . . . and finished it at about 10:00 p.m.! Now that’s a way to end a sleepover 😉

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About 11:30, she finally crashed and climbed in her comfy sleeping back on her comfy ThermaRest and went to sleep.

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Everyone was up pretty early the next morning for yummy muffins and hot chocolate for breakfast. Then we were off to home.

Our first girl scout sleepover was a huge success! We had a great time and learned a lot about what we’d have to do to have our own cookie rally in the future when our girls are a little bit older.

364 Days Until We Do It Again

We just got back from Princess’s birthday party! She celebrated her 7th birthday – 7TH BIRTHDAY! Seriously, 7? Her birthday isn’t until December 22nd, but we always have her party a couple weeks early before everyone leaves town or has family visiting.

Her morning started out with a bit of a bummer . . . he best friend couldn’t make the party – she came down with the flu last night :-( She was a little bummed, but got over it quickly.

So we were off to the mall to Build-A-Bear! Yes – we voluntarily went to the mall 2 weeks before Christmas – and we survived. I’ve figured out that having a party at a “place” is cheaper and easier than having it at your house. They probably cost about the same, but you have no set up, no cleanup, no goodie bags, and no activities to plan. I’m all for that!

The kids had a great time, and I must say that the folks at Build-A-Bear know what they’re doing :-) The’ve got a birthday party plan and the use it – the kids are always busy and the time flies by.

Here is Princess and a couple of her friends after they picked out their bear shells:

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The kids got to pick out hearts to put in their bears, stuff the bears, give them a bath in the bathtub, put bows in their hair, and color the bear boxes. Here’s the group, minus one boy who had to come a little late, with their completed bears.

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After they got their birth certificates and colored their bear boxes, we headed up to the food court for some cupcakes and juice boxes! I really wanted cupcakes so we didn’t have to worry about cutting cake at the mall. Princess really wanted a cake that was shaped like something. So we compromised on a pull-apart turtle cupcake cake :-)

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Princess of course had to have a little extra fun with her cupcake 😉

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After cupcakes and presents, we got all the kids together for one more photo with everyone. We really did have a fun birthday party – it was a great group of kids!

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364 days until we do it all again :-)

Flu Shots and Stickers

An email and giggle from my Mom . . .

On Wednesday I went to the clinic to get my H1N1 shot.  The clinic had a room set up where all they did was give these shots by appointment.  When I arrived there was nobody else in there but right after I got there a woman came in with 3 little triplet boys that I would guess were about 3 years old.  The mom asked the boys who wanted to go first and they were standing in a line and none of them said anything…they all just shook their heads no.  Then the nurse stepped in and showed them a roll of very big stickers and said that after they got their shot they could pick out a couple of those.  Mom again asked who wanted to go first and again they all stood there and shook their heads no.  At that point I rolled up my sleeve and said to them, “You know what, I’ll go first and you’ll see that it really doesn’t hurt and you know what else…I don’t even get a cool sticker like you!”.   One of the little boys looked at me and said, “You don’t get a sticker?” and I said “no I don’t”.  He then said, “You can have my sticker because I’m not getting a shot!”.   The nurses and I laughed sooo hard!  I left feeling sorry for that mom because she wasn’t going to have an easy time.

Lesson Learned

Princess is finally feeling the pain and realizing the lesson she’s learned.

So we went to Texas for Turkey Week to visit some dear friends who moved there in June. When on the airplane, we usually sit two and two – Dude and Dad, Princess and Mom. For some reason on the way home, we had 3 seats on one side and one on the other, so Hubby sat with Dude and Princess and I sat across the aisle. All was well – they read, watched movies on the computer and iPod, played with their Nintendo DSes. Then we landed . . . I looked over and saw books in the back of Dude’s seat. I said to him, Princess, and Hubby “Check all over and make sure you have everything.” They checked, and the books were still there. So I said “Dude, make sure you get the books out of the back of your seat and that you both have all your stuff, blankets, whatever, in your backpacks.” “Yes, Mom, we know. We have it all.”

Fast forward about 40 minutes . . . we get in the Jeep at the hotel after the shuttle dropped us off. Dude whips out his DS to play on the drive home. Princess starts bawling.

Um, apparently she “accidentally forgot her DS on the airplane.” GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

So back to the airport we go thinking there’s a slight chance that 1) the plane is still at the gate or 2) the cleaning crew found it and handed it into the gate agent. More likely is that the DS is gone with the plane.

I find the United customer service desk and they are VERY helpful (yes, I mean it – no sarcasm). They called the gate to see if the plane was still there. Nope. They asked if the DS had been turned in (big pink case with DS and 7 games in it – not hard to miss). Nope. They called the cleaning crew to see if they’d found it. Nope – they did a 10 minute turn-around since we were a bit late getting in, so didn’t do a full clean of the aircraft before it left. I fill out the “lost and found” paperwork – she thinks that maybe since it’s a high value item (over $250 with all the stuff in there) there is a chance it will be found and turned in.

Of course we’ve heard nothing. I’m sure some little girl of an airport employee is getting a wonderful Pink Nintendo DS with games for Christmas. Or at least the airport employee is getting a good amount of money for it after selling it on eBay.

What made me most mad? Princess said “Oh crap. Oh well, it’s not like I played it that often anyway.” Um, WHAT?! That made me not feel bad for her. Now, 3 weeks later, she’s wanted it a few times, and now that boarding season is starting and we’ll be driving 2 1/2 hours each way to go boarding, she’s going to want it. She’s begun to miss it. And I’m quite certain that she’s going to be PISSED on our 14 hour drive back to MN for Christmas when she doesn’t have it. It will be painful for all of us 😉

Lessons Learned:
Princess: When you’re finished using something, Put. It. Away. Especially when you’re travelling!
Hubby: Your 6 year old daughter isn’t going to do a thorough check of her plane space even though we tell her 7 times. LOOK FOR HER and do a roll call of the stuff she’s supposed to have in her backpack.
Me: Sit with the kids. It’s easier for everyone involved. I spent the flight handing my computer and iPod back and forth across the aisle for the kids to use anyway. Hubby is used to travelling alone and forgets that he needs to do roll call.

What makes me mad is that even though Princess has learned a lesson, it’s still MY $250 that we’re out!

A New Set of Eyes

On october 17, 2008, my little Princess got her first pair of glasses. I was all relaxed about it, figuring we’d be replacing them a few times in her first year. I mean, she was just 5 afterall! To my surprise, she made it almost an entire year without so much as a scratch on them!

Almost. On October 12, 2009, they broke. Unfixable. The problem? You guessed it . . . insurance will only pay for an eye exam once every 12 months. We were so close to the year timeframe, that we kept her appointment for the 18th and she went blind at school for a week.

At her eye exam, we found out her eyes had gotten considerably worse – 20/250 now AND she needed bifocals. Yup, near sighted and she crossed her eyes when reading. We picked out a pair of glasses, paying attention to the cost of the frames because you know what else? Insurance will only pay for new frames every TWO years, even for kids. Seriously? What kid under 13 can go two years without breaking their glasses? Sheesh.

Anyhoo . . . we picked out a pair that ended up costing us $240 with the bifocal lenses, etc. OUCH! Have I mentioned that she’s 6?

With her bad eyesight, we couldn’t wait 2 weeks for them to come in from the factory, so we headed to Lens Crafters to get her a pair in about an hour :-) I limited her choices a bit more here, paying VERY close attention to the price since this entire pair, including lenses, was coming out of my pocket. Thankfully, Lens Crafters gives all kids under 12 50% off . . . whew! We got out of there with another $200 pair of backup glasses (bifocals are EXPENSIVE!).

So she goes a whole year without breaking her first pair. This time? She made it one month before the screw fell out and she lost a bow on her “good” glasses (they have pink butterflies on the bows, so are certainly her favorites). We were on vacation, so we got a glasses kit at the gas station and put a temporary screw in. Then we went to the eye doctor and had them replace it with one that actually fit. Good to go?

Um, no. Exactly two weeks later, she bent the crap out of the bow when Dude pushed his buddy onto Princess and he kicked her in the face. Thank goodness for backup glasses again! We head back into the eye doctor to see if they can fix them. They heat them up and can bend them back into place without breaking them. Whew! Pretty soon they’re going to start locking the doors when they see us pull up.

We’ll see how long the cutest toothless Princess in bifocals can go without another glasses mishap!

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That’s her making a candy cane reindeer at her first Girl Scout sleepover. And yes, all she wants for Cwithmuth is her two front teeth (and a real live kitty)! 

Six Inches

Last Saturday we took our annual trek up into the Pike National Forest to seek out and cut down the perfect Christmas Tree. We do this every year and have a BLAST! We go to the Forest Service office and buy a permit for $10. For my $10, I get a map of the tree cutting area and a 10 inch long piece of paper marked by the inch up to 6 inches. Your tree trunk can’t be bigger than this because the goal of letting you cut down trees in the forest is to get rid of the smaller ones and make the forest healthier.

Anyhoo – we were excited because they opened up a new tree cutting area this year – woo hoo! We had a beautiful day to head up to the forest . . . we loaded up the supplies, the kids, and the dog and were off.

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We got even more excited as we drove up the pass because we saw people driving down with absolutely beautiful Christmas trees tied to the tops of their vehicles. Into the tree cutting area and we were off on our tree hunt! Dude said he had the perfect tree in mind and “would know when he saw it” :-) We found a few right away, but they were too big when we measured them. So we were off, up the hill and over the ridge to see what was on the other side. Apparently, it was the PERFECT Christmas tree! We measured the tree trunk and it was barely under 6″ – whew! We took the requisite photos and cut down our perfect tree.

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Then Dude carried it to the Jeep. Down the mountain. By himself. He’s 9.

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We tied our prize tree to the top of the Jeep and started to head out of the tree cutting area. On our way out, we saw some other trees on top of vehicles and in pickup truck beds and said “WTH! There is NO WAY that tree is only 6 inches!” We followed one truck out and were ready to see them get fined for cutting down too big of a tree, but the Ranger just waved at them! WAVED AT THEM, without so much as a measure of their tree trunk.

We decided to stop and talk to the Ranger about our tree. Here’s how it went . . .

Hubby: Good afternoon.
Ranger: Good afternoon.
Hubby: We’ve been seeing lots of people with large trees on their vehicles and were wondering what’s up. Our tree trunk is just under 6″, and we’re wondering if we’re measuring at the wrong area on the trunk.
Ranger: Looks at tree tied to our roof and chuckles Um, the 6 inches refers to the DIAMETER of the trunk, not the circumferance. So this tree here (slaps a tree about the size of the one in Rockefeller Plaza) is about an 8 inch tree.
Hubby: Oh. Thanks.
Ranger: Um, would you like to go back and get a bigger one?
Hubby: No, thanks. This one will be good for us.

We laughed our asses off at ourselves all the way down the pass, because apparently we’ve been measuring our trees wrong for FIVE YEARS! Seriously – we’ve been doing this for the past 5 years and have always measured our trees the same. We’ve never really noticed anyone else having a much bigger tree than ours, and we’ve always found fun trees – like the year our tree was wider than it was tall, or the year we duct taped two half trees together to make one. We figured that was just because everyone had small trees because of the cutting area. But now that there is a new cutting area, well, the trees aren’t picked over and are huge.

So we ended up with the perfect little Christmas tree. It’s a whoppin’ 5′ 10″ tall and fits perfectly in our living room. Seriously – doesn’t it look perfect? Pay no attention to the bending of the skinny little branches from our ornaments.

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Even though I love my little tree, I guarantee you that next year, we will be bringing home the biggest tree we possibly can, whether or not it fits in our house.