Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slowdown-- Birthday Picnic

Yesterday was so big that today we kidnapped Justin and Daddy and headed to Lake Elmo for a quiet picnic Birthday lunch (complete with cake).  Just what the doctor ordered!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dragon Party 2012

In order to cut down on the craziness of Alex's birthday party, I scheduled two..... counter-intuitive, I know-- but it worked!  (And we rented a bouncy house....perhaps a bit over the top, but I've never gotten one and it was TOTALLY worth it to be able to bounce whenever I wanted..... I think Alex liked it too).
In the morning, we invited the neighbor kids over for a one hour, 'no-presents', jumping party.  Dragon tails and cupcakes for all!  Alex had a great time playing with her friends and this ensured no party-crashing later on in the day.
Auntie Carrie and Sam the Bearded dropped by for some in-between party time.  He was a HUGE hit with all the big kids.  However, Justin's phrase of the day was "No AM!!!"  ("no Sam").  Not a fan of the huge beard and scary helmet.

Later on Uncle Willy and his little dragon Tikva showed up, followed by Auntie Rorie and Brad.  It was pretty much a free-flowing roll in and out party :-)  Alex is so lucky to have so many people who adore her!
Because, yes, my sense of humor is sophomoric.  And I like it that way.

Alex had been waiting SO long to open this present in a red box from Brad....  a beautiful nightgown for her, and one for Nicki was inside! 
Alexandra and I spent all week decorating our house to look like a dragon's treasure trove!
Birthday Wishes!
A topical book from silly Uncle Willy :-)
For the STUNNING centerpiece-- Brad located some dry ice to add the final touch to my Dragon's Breath Punch....
No dragon shirt.... but guess which one he picked to wear today? 

 Alex's friends Emma and Liam brought their families in the afternoon and we all enjoyed the beautiful weather, and really fun bouncy castle - with all our little dragons.
Our dragon pinata held up perfectly-- each child got a couple of good swings in before it broke apart!
Justin made SURE the job was done.

Phew!! I'm exhausted-- how about you?

Friday, September 28, 2012


 GranMama and GranPapa arrived late last night.  When the kids woke up all they could talk about was "Emmy".  While I went to the gym, they took another trip out to Whistling Well Orchards to introduce GranMama and GranPapa to the famous pup.
Yep.... Emmy came home with the kids-- they've done a really good job 'sharing'-- but Justin is the one who REALLY loves this little stuffed animal.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meeting Emmy of Whistling Well Farm

We ended up at two Apple orchards today.  I needed to replenish my supply of juicing apples (have I mentioned I LOVE my Jack LaLane juicer?!?!), and the best deals around are at the Carpenter Nature Center-- for their 2nds and windfalls!  We stopped there first and were thrilled to discover the BIGGEST, most BEAUTIFUL pumpkins around!  Seriously, the nicest I've seen in years-- and they were all between $3-6 apiece! 
After CNC, we decided to hit a new orchard.  Because we're right in the St. Croix Valley, we have our pick of about 6 orchards all in the same 10 mile radius, and the only one we hadn't stopped at yet was Whistling Well Farm.  I think we've found our favorite of all times! 

They had chickens to feed, a donkey to look at (he was sleeping), a gorgeous fall display to take photos of reluctantly posing kids with, and a sweet little spaniel named Emmy  (who Justin fell in love with).
Emmy of Whistling Well Farm
The dog was both the highight of our trip AND the only thing I didn't get a photo of (because I was trying to carry armsful of pumpkins and apples at the time).  After visiting with her for a while, we went into the store to make our purchases.  Lo and behold, the owner of the orchard had just published a children's storybook all about Emmy, so we HAD to bring a copy home.  It is a perfect fall read for any children who have ever visited an orchard.  The illustrations are soft and dreamy, and I admit to tearing up at one of the end pages where there is a heart-tugging drawing of Emmy giving her owner a HUGE spaniel-ly kiss!  (But then again, I'm a dog person).  Of course they also had stuffed animals that were the spitting image of Emmy (maybe next year, kids), which is a marketing genius.  We managed to catch Charlie when he was working, and he very kindly autographed our copy for us.  What a sweet man!

Our Morning Nature Walk

At school, Alex always has a morning nature walk around the property.  On our "free Thursdays", we've been doing the same.  Today was a 5.2 mile jaunt (I had my phone GPS tracking us), which Alex ran/walked 4 miles of!  Justin even got in on the action, every once in a while shouting "un!" from the Burley- at which point we'd stop, get him out and let him run along the path until he could be persuaded back into the stroller with the promise of cookies, raisins or water.  Our 'time' wasn't good (2 hours!), but today wasn't about me going fast, it was about enjoying a gorgeous fall day with my two wonderful children.  AND celebrating the beauty of fall and the gifts that God gives us every day!  I can't believe we've lived here for three + years, and never known that we had TWO beautiful lakes within walking distance-- if you're willing to get out and explore a little!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dragon Party Prep

In preparation for her Dragon Party next weekend, Alex and I decided to make a very special pinata.  We kind of winged it, but it seems to be working so far!
I found a recipe for paper mache online (1 part water: 1 part flour + a pinch of salt), we asked the neighbors if we could raid their recycling bins for old newspapers, blew up some balloons and got to work.  Alex is NOT a fan of getting goopy, so this was a stretch for her to help with the first step. 
She was all about painting the dried pieces though!  Then we hot glued the tail piece (fashioned around more newspaper), some spikes made from her kindergarten watercolor papers, and she made a cute little dragon face. 
Next stop:  filling and hanging!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

I woke up this morning to the distinct smell of cake.  Being as gullible as I am, I quickly believed Dave when I asked him what the smell was and he said "I'm making tea".  Alex quickly dispelled my misplaced trust when she asked me if she could see the cake again.  For the first time in years, I didn't have to make or purchase my own birthday cake!  Score for Daddy! 

We spent the day with Megan and Emma and the MN Zoo- and, because it was my birthday, splurged on a monorail ride-  Justin's first true 'train experience' (at least in his memory).  He was a little cautious about the whole thing, but the girls had a great time!

After the zoo we returned home to frost the cake.  Alex had a very particular vision in mind-- pink and chocolate. 
That's one good looking birthday cake!  Too bad we didn't have 32 candles ;-)