Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get the creative juices flowing

I like to be creative. Or, more accurately, I like to copy what other people do and pass it off as my own. I used to feel a tad guilty about stealing other peoples ideas, but then I came across my mantra, from the wise Albert Einstein. He said, "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Or, if you are in the corporate world, you can just call it "best practice sharing."

A few months ago Addi realized that Sam had her name on her bedroom door but SHE didn't. Since I am attempting to keep the sibling rivalry at bay at least until Sam has more than two teeth, I took that as a sign that I needed to get Addi's name on her door, pronto. I knew I could make something cute with all my scrapbooking supplies and got really excited to put it together!

Jay, of course, suggested taking boring paper, using my Cricket, and cutting her name out. Then taping it to her door. Simple, cheap, and to the point. I vetoed that immediately.

My friend Kacy makes these great wall hangings for friends so I decided to replicate them. With my awesome Cricket I knew I could cut out any letters myself and planned to place them on little flat wooden boards, so I headed to Michael's and got my needed supplies - paint, cute ribbon, chipboard flowers, scrapbook paper (for a later project, don't tell jay).

Then headed back the next day when I realized I forgot the actual little wooden boards. You know, what the entire project was based around. Oops.

I worked on it for a few nights, telling Addi each day that soon her name would be on her door. Hooray! She was so excited!

They turned out cute (in my humble opinion) and I think the kids will really like them once they know how to read.

When I finally finished, I realized that if I hung it on her bedroom door it would slam loudly every time the door shut. Can't have that... with her attitude I foresee a lot of slamming doors in my future. But crap, she was SO excited to have her name on her door! That was the whole point.
So I got the Cricket back out and rushed to cut her name out of plain paper. And taped it on her door. Just like Jay said. I guess he was right after all, but these look really cute on the girls' walls!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Say Cheese!

In a lot of ways, Addi has a pretty typical appetite for a three year old. She will try anything several times, even if she doesn't like it the first time, and for the most part eats a decent amount at each meal.

That said, you can pretty much always feed her cheese. Mac n' cheese, grilled cheese, cheese slices, shredded cheese... She eats it everyday and when asked what she wants for her next meal will 90% of the time yell "mac n cheese!"

Our vacation was no exception. We definitely ate at a lot of restaurants and both girls loved every minute of it.

On Saturday we were finally driving home and needed to stop for lunch, so we asked Addi her opinion, knowing what her answer would most likely be. Here's how it went:

Me: "Addi, what do you want for lunch?"
Addi: "Boogers!"
Me: "Um, that's gross Addi!"
Addi: "But Mommy, I eat them all the time."

Ahem. Excuse me while I barf.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The vacation recap

We got home last night from our long vacation. Today is all about unpacking, refilling the fridge, cutting the grass, and resting up for our first day back to work and school.

In order to save time, here is a VERY brief recap of our trip.

We spent a LOT of time in the car:

We spent quality time with Uncle Eric, Aunt Lisa, and Carissa at their house, feeding their fish and grilling out:

We caught up with old friends (Mandee and her gorgeous daughter Kennedy) and spent two days at the lake. Addi LOVED this part:

Sam thought the life jackets were way overrated:

We played in the local park:

We left Uncle E's and headed to Gatlinburg, where our hotel had a pretty nice view of the river. It also sported a view of the sky via our shower (courtesy of a hole in the ceiling) but we'll just focus on the amazing river for now:

We visited the Ripley's Aquarium where we got up close and personal with sharks, stingrays, and freaky giant catfish:

We rode the tram to the top of Ober Gatlinburg and spent the day riding kiddie rides (Sam's first!), eating fudge, playing mini-golf, and riding the slide down the mountain:
On our last night in Gatlinburg Addi panned for "treasures" and was pretty happy with the result:

We headed to Aunt Jill's next and relaxed with our cousins, then headed to Holiday World to spend the day. Addi rode her first roller coaster, water slide and spinney ride and Sam enjoyed the pool:

After 10 straight days together we are blonder, tanner, more relaxed, poorer, happier, more rested, and closer as a family. I don't think we could ask for anything more than that!

July Vacation 2009

Click here to view these pictures larger

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The beginning of a 10 day trip...

Last Wednesday the Ralph family set out on an adventure. Since most of the Peoria area is on summer shutdown for two weeks, we took advantage of my lack of employment and hit the road.

First up was a twelve hour drive to Charlotte, NC. With two little ones I was pretty scared but the did pretty awesome. Of course, packing 700 paci's sure did help.

We made sure to take lots of breaks as well. The girls ran around a rest stop and had a snack.

We finally stopped in Tennessee for the night and the girls got some rest.

The beginning of the trip was a success!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting their hair did (AKA Sam's first haircut)

On Saturday Addi, Sami and I headed to the salon to get our hair cut. It was Sam's first time and boy, was she excited!

First, Addi got hers trimmed and received a sucker for sitting so nicely. Sam was so excited that she didn't even wake up from my shoulder.

Next it was Sam's turn. She sat very still like a big (scared out of her mind) girl and donned the cape like a pro.
Holly got to work trimming her hair and she proudly ate her sucker.
Finally, Addi double checked to make sure Holly did an adequate job and pronounced her "done".
Overall a pretty quick experience but I couldn't be happier. No eyes were gouged out and although the girls have played "hair cut" in the tub every night since, I have yet to see them try it with real scissors. Probably because they are all hidden on the top of the fridge.

It's a love/hate kinda thang

Meet our dog Smokey.

Smokey is approximately 8 years old and has been part of Jay and I's lives since 2002.

My feelings for Smokey are fairly well known. It's kind of a love/hate relationship. He is a fantastic dog about 85% of the time. Great with the girls. Great protector of our home. Great with the cat. Great at staying home all day and never once in his entire life having an accident. He has only two speeds - turbo and sleep - so you don't have to deal with a jumping, annoying pet most of the time. And he never ever licks your hands or face, which is a HUGE plus in my book.

On the surface he's the kind of dog people dream of.

He is also great at something else, and this is where the hate part of the relationship comes in. Smokey is a GREAT runner. And an even better digger. Combine those two things and you end up with a mildly scary dog terrorizing the neighborhood on various occasions. Smokey will run out the front door when given the opportunity but he can also dig out under our privacy fence and run too. Since he is also incredibly fast he's nearly impossible to catch once he's out.

A few highlights of Smokey's Olympic Runs:
  • getting two tickets in one day while he ran after our mailman
  • trying to explain to our elderly, non-English speaking neighbors why our dog was swimming in their pool
  • waking our other neighbors up while we attempted to get Smokey out from under their deck
  • our neighbor explaining to us how they watched Smokey jump up and unlatch the gate himself
Smokey also has a knack for running away during fun times at our house. He loves to have 30 people from a birthday party chase after him. And the more you chase him the faster and farther he runs. Jay and I have perfected the "attempt" to catch the dog - we walk up and down the street and half-heartedly call "Here Smokey, come back!" to give the illusion we are working to get him. Then we go right home, pop the gate open, and wait on him to join us at home. That really is the only way to catch him.

This past Friday Jay and I were leaving to go to dinner with some friends when we realized Smokey was gone. It only took a minute to find the new hole he dug under our fence. It took another 15 hours before we had him safely back home.

And this is why, at 6:15 a.m. Saturday morning, Jay went to Menards and bought an electric fence. To go conveniently inside our very expensive (and obviously inadequate) privacy fence.

I felt a bit sad to see our dog shocked for the first time. Not as sad, however, as seeing him get hurt while on a mad dash through the neighborhood. So cross your fingers that he is finally safe at home for good.

And double cross your fingers that Addi doesn't put the shock collar on her sister or herself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My new layout

A few weeks ago I updated the look and feel of the blog. Although I love parts of it, I am struggling to make the font a more readable size.

I've enlisted help from HTML junkies to no avail.

I apologize to those of you going blind while trying to keep up with our family. Just know, I'm working on it.

Just like the email...

About two weeks ago I received a funny email and passed it on to a few friends. This Saturday I lived my own version of it and haven't stopped shuddering since. Here goes nothing.

On Saturday morning the kids woke up early - around 5:30 a.m. Early for a Saturday and even earlier when neither Jay nor I got a good night's sleep (to be explained later). I pulled the girls into bed with me, turned on Noggin, and drifted in and out of sleep for a while. At one point Sam wanted down so I set her on the floor, where she played with a few toys.

A bit later (was it 15 minutes? 30?) I heard Sam making a sucking/slurping noise, and after I struggled to open my eyes I saw her sucking on a hand towel. It was pretty wet and dripping in the floor so I jumped out of bed, grabbed it out of her hands, and threw it in the bathroom.

About 10 seconds later clarity struck. There's only one place Sam can reach to get water on her own. And it flushes.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Drumroll Please... the Big Reveal!

After six months, it's time for the Big Reveal! I have been freaking out all week about this but last night made Jay put on a respectable outfit and meet me in the backyard for a photo shoot.

Pretty impressive if I do say so myself!

Jay has made the biggest transformation. To date he's lost 68 lbs! Go Jay! He is still eating right but isn't as worried about getting much lower in weight. And he looks great.

I have lost 30 lbs as of this morning but still have my belly, named Muffy the Muffin Top. After two c-sections I don't have much faith that Muffy and I won't be lifelong friends, but here's hoping!

I do have to say though, WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME MY GLASSES WERE SO HEINOUS!!! Darn you, Ron!

The family.... Man, the kids have grown over the last six months.

Tooting our horns here... I hope we keep it up because right now we both feel pretty awesome about what we've accomplished!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tick, tick, tick

Three days to go till the Big Reveal. Better put down the donut.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Girls

Summer seems to be moving slower than normal. Or maybe with two kids who can be alone for a whopping five minutes at a time, we are taking the time to enjoy things more than last summer, when every moment was planned out. Who knows... Whatever it is, I like it.

One downside of this slower pace is less time on the computer, so less blogging, less Facebook, less email. I am not really missing it but I'm definitely slacking on posting witty and interesting blogs. So, here's a boring non interesting one to get your fix.

This past weekend my dad was in town to visit. We had a super relaxing Friday, with BBQ on the grill, margaritas in our glasses, and friends on our patio. Can't beat that.
Saturday morning we headed to our friend Ryan's first birthday party. Us girls were excited to wear patriotic dresses and we all had matching red piggies.

Sam was SUPER excited to get a sucker at the party. Two seconds after she tried it, she was addicted.
Sunday we headed to Wildlife Prairie State Park to walk around and enjoy the great weather.
Not a bad weekend, despite the rain. My summer girls sure seemed to like it!

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