Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends

Minnesota has already proven itself a worthy home by its many perks {more on that in a complete post later}; among them, reconnecting with old friends.

The boys and I had the honor of spending this morning with a dear friend of mine and her two sweet children.

Missy and I have known each other since junior high (right, Miss?). We were neighbors, as our houses were across the cul-de-sac from each other, and if I remember correctly, our friendship blossomed over walks home from the school bus stop. We use to talk about stringing an aluminum can phone from her bedroom window to mine; it's a shame we never tried it. :) We've remained connected via Facebook and other technological aids, but this was the first we had seen each other since Missy got married 8 years ago. It had been far too long. We didn't lack for anything to talk about, although we pretty much felt like we knew everything that was going on in the other's life thanks to our respective blogs. :)

We met at our old neighborhood park, to allow our kids the space to play and roam, while giving us a chance to talk and catch up.

We spent much of the morning there, and the kids climbed

and dug

and twirled

and {kind of} swung (is that the right past-tense verb usage???).

Our kids didn't mingle much right away, but instead opted to play with their sibling apart from the others. We tried to encourage cooperative play so that (if we're honest) Missy and I could stand closer together to supervise and talk at the same time, but it wasn't until Missy suggested to her daughter that she pick some "flowers" that all four of the kids began to play together.

Missy's sweet girl brought her a beautiful bouquet...

...Drew brought me one, too. Kind of.

Finally getting to know each other a bit over a snack.

I would give my left leg for more moments like these.

Thank you so much, Missy, for making some time for us in your busy vacation schedule. It was such an awesome morning, and I want to do it a million more times!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

I consider myself a Minnesotan. I was born in Iowa, but my family moved north when I was four, and considering the total number of years I've lived here, and the classy Minnesota accent I've acquired due to being raised here, I'd say I'm pretty darn close to authentic.

{Only exception: GO HAWKEYES!}

But here's the difference between myself (the not 100% Minnesotan) and the true blue, down to the core, blood runs deep Minnesotan - I've only been to the Minnesota State Fair (a.k.a. "The Great Minnesota Get-Together") a grand total of maybe four times. If you're for real, you've gone every single year you've been alive. And perhaps even more than once each year.

It was never something my family did as I grew up, and I think the first time I went was when I was in junior high when I was invited by a friend and her family. The last time I went was five or six years ago when Brad and I still lived in Eagan. Brad had gotten free admission tickets, and we went for the cheese curds, and that's about it.

Being back in Minnesota now, though, and arriving at just the right time for the fair, it was like a little deep-fried, sugar-coated flame fired up in me and I had to go. Cheese curds, funnel cakes, pronto pups...yes, yes, and YES! Convincing Brad to go, however, was not gonna happen. Thank goodness for a willing father, a four-year-old who gets dragged along, and a brother who can be bribed by his cute nephew and grilled sweet corn --- watch out hips, we're goin' to the fair!

We headed up to Snelling Avenue yesterday morning and after picking up Justin and making our way to the fairgrounds via a shuttle bus, we made our first stop at the Pronto Pup stand. It may have only been 10:15, but we weren't going to be there all day and we had some serious fair food to consume!

Although he looks adverse to the pup, Drew did try it. And liked it.
(By the way, our food strategy was to buy one of what we wanted and share it amongst ourselves. Save money, avoid getting uncomfortably stuffed, have more room to try more!)

I tried to scope out the fair's schedule to see what we could do/see that Drew would like. I knew it would be a bit of challenge to keep his interest in *free* things when he'd see the kid rides and want to spend his college tuition to ride them. Thankfully, there were a few features for us to see to keep Drew reasonably happy.

One such act was juggler Greg Frisbee. Here's his grand finale: juggling knives with burning hands while balancing on a rolling board.
{Interesting factoid: Brad and I saw this same guy when we vacationed in San Francisco almost two years ago. See?}

Drew seems impressed. :)

Then we headed over to Machinery Hill where Drew test "drove" some serious John Deere goodness. (In the last several months he's taken up an interest in tractors, construction vehicles, and other such machinery.)

Then he tried one on that was a bit more his size at the Little Farm Hands Learning Experience...where he also got to "feed" the hens, "groom" the sheep...

..."plant" seed and pick the vegetation, "milk" the cows, pick apples from the orchard...

...then place all the goods he collected at the farmer's market.
It was pretty cool for this very non-agricultured mom. :)

CHEESE CURDS! while we waited for the Dog Works agility performance. When it was done, Drew was still hungry. This would've been when I would've broken the let's-share-everything rule and gone back for my own serving of cheese curds. But I resisted. How about a funnel cake instead? OKAY!

Drew really, really, really wanted to ride the Skyline, and it was worth the $14.00 for the four of us to ride it for two reasons: 1) it made Drew very, very happy, and 2) we didn't have to walk to the other side of the park. Practicality wins again.

We hit up the animal barns last, and we walked into the Miracle of Birth Center two minutes too late - we had just missed a baby calf being born! Literally. The placenta hadn't been delivered yet. And there were piglets being born at the same time. So, no super-exciting action for us there, but we did get to pet some day old calves and kids (as in baby goats, not humans).

As we exited the dairy barn, we picked up our last treat of the day: ice cream!

Drew was a trooper the entire day. We left the fair around 3:30, so didn't spend a great deal of time there, but with all the walking and all the people, Drew faired well. Yes, there was whining. Yes, there was pouting. Yes, there was even a short-lived moment of tears.

But it worked.

He slept all the way home. And upon telling Brad, Grammy and Reed all about his day, he says the best part was the ice cream.

My favorite part? Feeling like I'm home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Picture of the Day, Weeks 33 & 34

I have to get back into the routine of taking photos. I have been so involved in the whole process of moving that my camera literally has a total of 22 photos on it from the past two weeks. And there's not a single one of all the packing I did at my old house! Unthinkable. :) I admit it was a struggle to find 14 photos to use for two weeks of POTDs --- but with the help of my mom's and my mother-in-law's cameras, I at least found something to date for each day.

Here's to better planning...and more picture-taking!

Sunday {8.14.11}
I gave a little shout out to my friends on Facebook that I was in dire need of cake. Lots and lots of cake. A few sweet, and local, friends spoiled me. Oh it was good. Really, really good.

Monday {8.15.11}
The boys continued their special stay with Grandma and Grandpa in Pella. Their stay included coloring...

Tuesday {8.16.11}

Wednesday {8.17.11}
...water play...

Thursday {8.18.11}
...and getting their scare on at the Dairy Queen play place. But really, Drew had a great time there...I just love this expression on his face!

Friday {8.19.11}
We picked up the moving truck late this afternoon in preparation for Saturday's big move!

Saturday {8.20.11}
It was hard to choose just one photo from today's major life changing event. I'll probably end up including quite a few in our album, but I feel like this one best captures our day: so many friends and family there to help, lots of stuff to load, with only a few moments of extreme chaos mixed in!

Sunday {8.21.11}
We arrived in MN just after midnight on Saturday, only to wake up Sunday morning to have to unpack all of it! That baby was packed to the brim! If only we had the help to unpack like we did to pack. :) Lucky brother Jeremy ended up doing the work of 15 men!

Monday {8.22.11}
My boys' bedroom is my old room - the one that's been mine since the 6th grade. My mom made a few special signs to greet us as we moved in - this one was just for the boys.

Tuesday {8.23.11}
My mom took the boys shopping tonight to pick out their own bedsheets. {A simple expression of love to allow the boys to feel like Grammy and Papa's house is their house, too.} They both picked out McQueen, of course. (And doesn't he just look stellar alongside that pink flower wallpaper?!?!)

Wednesday {8.24.11}
Just saving some for later.

Thursday {8.25.11}
We are settling in nicely, and much of our stuff has been stored in my parents' basement. One row of boxes lines the wall, with a row of totes and more boxes down the middle. I have a feeling this will end up being a lesson in exactly how much we can live without.

Friday {8.26.11}
The boys' imaginative play is booming, and I continue to be impressed with how well these two can play together {sometimes}. This afternoon, they were washing and drying the dishes. And the food. :)

Saturday {8.27.11}
More lessons in domesticity: Reed loves to help in the kitchen, and he gave our homemade pizza the finishing touches it needed to make it de-lish!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Settling In

I have been thinking about my little corner of the blogosphere all week long, but then I stop thinking about it because, quite frankly, it exhausts me. I'm honestly surprised I'm not wrapped in cloth and lying in a wooden box right now (you know, like a zombie, for those that are a little slow on the uptake today). My body has started to rebel against me, and although I am not physically ill (which I am completely and utterly shocked about, but very very thankful for)...I am absolutely drained. I spoke with a friend on the phone a couple days ago, and she said she could hear in my voice how less stressed I am now as compared to three weeks ago when we were eyeball deep in the old drama and stress of our life. If I had a psychology degree (tee!) I might say that all of said drama and stress we left behind when we moved not only works its way out emotionally, but also physically. My body kind of feels like it's gone ten rounds with a punching bag. Or, perhaps more accurately, my body was the punching bag.


But I wanted to hop on the ol' blog to just give a little update on things here. We have been settling into our temporary dwelling place for the past week, as we've situated our stuff and ourselves into my parents' home. Their basement is full of our boxes, and our furniture is housed at a small storage space a few miles down the road. We are very slowly establishing somewhat of a routine as we've kept the boys on track with our usual eating and sleeping times. There is a bit more noise here than at our old house; although the increase in noise is from the boys. Their excitement of having two additional people in the house to play with, as well as the frequent traffic from my brother and his two kids, keeps the boys keyed up and ready for fun. They have settled in nicely to their own play room in the basement, as well as using the three-season porch for additional play space. Brad has secured his "spot" on the couch, and my dad has generously shared his office space to house my scrapbooking and crafting endeavors.

I haven't taken many photos this week - if at all - but I'll be touring the house in the next couple days to give a visual tour of how we are making things work here.

Things are different.

Things are good.

But we could still use your prayers.

1) Prayers for a job. Preferably one in the midwest. Preferably hired before May of next year. Brad has had two interviews in the last two weeks. Prayers that the opportunity to interview with churches would continue to be in abundance, and that God would make it clear as to where He wants us to go.
2) Prayers for patience. For all six of us in this house! (My parents are saints, and have yet to exhibit signs of irritation or annoyance. But please, with me living under their roof again, with my three men in's bound to happen!)
3) Prayers for a smooth transition for Drew into a new school, with new teachers and friends. His first day is September 7th.
4) Prayers for peace. Although our situation is far from ideal, we pray that the stress of it clears so that we can really enjoy this time of being together as a family.

More soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moving Day

The truck is here...

...and the boys are ready to load!

We are loading up the truck, the van, and the pick-up, and we'll be heading out of town before the end of the day.

It's time to move forward.

Onward and upward.

To new opportunities and adventures.

Good-bye, Pekin.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Picture of the Day, Week 32

After uploading my photos, I realized that this week was the beginning of saying our good-byes. Five of our seven pictures revolve around seeing some of our Pekin friends for the last time before we move to Minnesota. {Update for friends and family: our official moving date is now this Saturday, the 20th. Just FYI.} :)

Sunday {8.7.11}
We joined the Blands, Carlsons, and Moores for a late evening ice cream treat, wherein the ladies gifted me this set of vintage Pyrex bowls. We found them when we shopped the antique stores a few weeks ago, and the ladies knew how much I had fallen in love with these, so they surprised me with them as a going away gift. I heart those ladies! And I heart these bowls!!

Monday {8.8.11}
After a long summer of separation, Drew and best buddy Gage played again! Drew and I met Gage and his mom at the park for a good-bye playdate. I'm not sure what these guys are going to do without each other. :(

Tuesday {8.9.11}
We met up with the Allen/Ori family at McDonalds for lunch, for one last get together. There are really no words that fully express our love, appreciation, and gratitude for this family. They are gems. We will miss them deeply.

Wednesday {8.10.11}
Papers were signed and everything became final today for our separation from our church. I'm unsure what photo I'll use for today, if I'll use one at all...

Thursday {8.11.11}
Graduation day from speech therapy, and good-byes to Alison, our speech therapist.

Friday {8.12.11}
We happened to Skype with Grammy & Papa just before bedtime, so we asked Grammy if she'd read our bedtime stories. She very happily obliged. :)

Saturday {8.13.11}
The boys left today for their summer stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I forgot my camera, of course, but I'm sure that my mother-in-law will have plenty of photos to fill in for today! :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Graduation Day

Guess who graduated from speech therapy today?!?!

In anticipation of moving to Minnesota, our Early Intervention service coordinator, along with Alison, our speech therapist, and Carissa, the developmental therapist who has periodically evaluated Reed, met with us today to perform the exit interview from their program. Last week at therapy, Alison evaluated Reed on his speech progress, and upon scoring the test, discovered that not only does Reed no longer surpass the 30% delay eligibility mark (he was at a 32% delay when we began therapy back in February), he has reached the 0% range. Which means --- he has absolutely no delay whatsoever! He is exactly where he should be for his age!

That's my boy!


We are obviously thrilled with this on a couple different levels. Practically speaking, of course, it means that he no longer requires therapy, and therefore we don't have to go through the rigamaroll of setting up therapy services for him once we move. Beyond that, it means that our baby has accomplished an incredible feat (or at least we think so) and has made incredible strides to overcome his delay. Can you tell that I'm just a little bit proud?!?!

No more therapy, however, means no more Alison. We would have had to say goodbye to her upon moving (therapy required or not), and it was sweet that we were able to say goodbye to her today knowing that she and Reed had finished the job they started, but it was still bittersweet for me. She has been such a gift to our entire family. She is amazing at what she does, and possesses such kindness, patience, and genuine care for both her patients and their families. She gave all of us the skills and lessons we needed for Reed to succeed, and for that, we are forever thankful.

We love you, Alison!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Picture of the Day, Weeks 29, 30 & 31

I've packed about a dozen boxes in the last two days, and I figured my due reward was sitting down at the computer to blog. And then I actually sat down to do it, and wanted to walk away because I just wasn't sure where to start. Never again should I stay away this long! Although the carpal tunnel I'm sure to have in the future is thanking me. :)

Let's catch up a bit with our pictures of the day, shall we?

Sunday {7.17.11}
Drew was taking an unusually long time in the bathroom this morning, and so when I peeked in on him to find out if he was okay, I discovered he was busy occupying himself with a puzzle he had brought in with him. Oh yes. Sitting on the potty, doing a puzzle. That's a new one! (I'm sparing Drew from online embarrassment and won't post the picture here...but that doesn't mean I'll spare him in the future when his girlfriend browses our family photo albums!)

Monday {7.18.11}
We took a family field trip to Normal, IL to visit the Children's Discovery Museum. It is four floors of education, exploration and imagination as children learn about their bodies, science, agriculture, music, the environment and more. This was a giant wind tunnel maze that the boys could put soft balls into to blow around. (More to come on this...eventually.)

Tuesday {7.19.11}
It's stinkin' hot here. And humid. (I don't think we went outside all week.) I would like to kiss the person that invented air conditioning. On the lips.

Wednesday {7.20.11}
My newest online obsession: Pinterest. It is a visual bookmarking tool that allows me to "pin" on my "boards" things online that I would normally just bookmark. What I love about it is that it is visual so I can find exactly what I'm looking for instead of scrolling through a bookmark tab filled with words. I also love that I can see so many ideas in one place, instead of searching endlessly across the internet. One thing that it has done for me is help me define my style in terms of home decor/design. This is going to be great when we find a new home! :) Now I just need to spend less time on Pinterest and more time making some of the things I've pinned! (If you're interested in seeing my boards, click HERE.)

Thursday {7.21.11}
The boys have been enjoying vacation Bible school this week at church. They are learning all about God's love for them via a group of crazy pandas and other such wildlife. They're both having a great time!

Friday {7.22.11}
We were surprised today to find Drew's picture in our local paper! He has been enjoying the summer Fun Friday program at Hobby Horse, and there were two pictures in today's paper of his class - with Drew front and center! I'll use these for today's POTD.

Saturday {7.23.11}
If you were ever curious as to the damage five women can do on a weekend meant just for the girls - chatting, eating, laughing, and shopping - this is it! Another super successful and super fun cousin's weekend with my girls!

Sunday {7.24.11} - Friday {7.29.11}
A week of vacations - the boys at Grammy & Papa's house and Brad and I in Las Vegas. I'll likely do two different spreads in our album with favorite photos of our week, and I'll post a bunch of pictures here, too, of course. Someday. :)

Saturday {7.30.11}
Today we attended the wedding of my dear, sweet friend Laura. The five of us girls (Jenni, Angie, Laura, Allyson and I) were friends in high school, and it had been 10 years or so since I last saw most of them. It was a beautiful wedding, and a wonderful time to reconnect.

Sunday {7.31.11}
My dad acquired an insane amount of Legos, and Brad got a wild hair to "organize" them by shape. He did this by building towers of like blocks, doing so until 1:30 in the morning. I guess boys never do grow up, huh?

Monday {8.1.11}
Today, and every other day of the boys' vacation, is captured on my parents' camera, which I neglected to upload to my computer before leaving their house. I think I took a total of two pictures on my camera at their place once we got back from Vegas on Friday. I'm sure they'll have something usable from the boys' adventures to fill in for today. :)

Tuesday {8.2.11}
On the road again, headed back home.
Reed's banter from the backseat went a little something like this:
"Drew, watch!"
[Drew looks at Reed. Reed scrunches up his face and laughs. Drew laughs. Repeat.]

Wednesday {8.3.11}
After being away from home for 12 days, it took the boys approximately 3.7 seconds to get reacquainted with their toys. of their toys.

Thursday {8.4.11}
This has got to be the boys' favorite show to watch with their dad. Tonight, as they watched a DVR'd episode, Drew created his own Wipeout Zone with his legos. Sometimes I'm so surprised, and impressed, with his creativity.

Friday {8.5.11}
In preparation to move, we had a garage sale to unload some of our excess (and super old) furniture, toys, and other unnecessaries. We didn't sell as much as we hoped, but got rid of everything nonetheless as we donated the remainder to Goodwill.

Saturday {8.6.11}
I found these two sitting here quietly this afternoon. I didn't want to disturb this sweet brother moment, but it was quiet time...and Mama needed a break!

Whew! That took waaaaayyy longer than it should have! Apparently I have some rust to shake off when it comes to typing! Hopefully I'll be back again soon with more to share...but don't hold your breath. :)