Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday, Madeline!

Madeline celebrating her birthday at school
Madeline posing with her *first* balloon - before it popped
Arriving in our room
Wow! Where is the time going????   On one hand it seems as though Madeline's toddler years were a lifetime ago, yet on the other hand it feels as though she has grown from baby to girl in the blink of an eye.  We went back and forth for a while as to how we should celebrate Madeline's birthday.  We gave Madeline a choice between a party with some of her classmates or an overnight at the Water Park of America. Madeline opted for the Water Park (which I was secretly crossing my fingers that she would choose).

Ready for the pool. We took the same posed picture last year.
LAST year's picture
Although Madeline's birthday is the 4th (comforting to me that her birthday is the same as my mom's.), her celebration began on Friday the 2nd.  Unlike her school last year, Madeline's current school celebrates the students' birthdays.  Some rules apply in this (understandably) due to food allergies.  Any birthday treats had to be pre-wrapped (store bought) or non-food items.  Madeline and I went to Party City and picked out some appropriate goodies for little goodie bags that she could bring in for her class.  Madeline picked out plastic drawing stencils, Happy Birthday pencils and some candy.  Madeline was excited about being able to bring in treats for her classmates.  Madeline's teacher delighted me by emailing me a picture that she took of Madeline during her class celebration - what a fun surprise for me!

A view from our room's balcony. The moose is Madeline's class mascot that Madeline had to care for all week.
On Saturday the 3rd, we packed up for an overnight getaway.  Before our departure, Madeline and I took our dog, Sobaka, to the kennel.  Afterward, Madeline and I headed to Party City to purchase her birthday balloon.  The "birthday balloon" is a little annual tradition of ours.  Madeline is able to pick out either one of the gigundous Mylar balloons or two smaller Mylar balloons.  After careful deliberation, Madeline chose and was thrilled with a huge Mylar Disney Princess balloon.  We returned home to load up the van with the port-a-crib and our overnight bags.  We were only about 1.5 miles from our house, on the way to the hotel, when Madeline's special balloon popped.  NOT a good way to start the birthday getaway, and so we detoured for another trip to Party City.  The poor girl was so upset but she didn't even want the same balloon as a replacement. Madeline didn't even want to go back in the store because she thought she was going to get in trouble by the sales clerk because her balloon popped. I had her tell me what kind of balloon she wanted and she opted for two smaller Mylar balloons this time - a Rapunzel and a Hello Kitty balloon.  Disaster averted and we were finally, officially on our way.

Hotel breakfast (ugh! I look awful!)
Madeline, Jonathan and Mama - MOA carousel
Madeline is an old pro when it comes to the water park.  Our hotel room overlooked the park.  Certainly Madeline was thrilled to be there but I was surprised that Jonathan seemed to remember where we were and he was running around the hotel room, waving his arms and hands in the air.  It was so fun to see both kids so excited.  Once we got settled and in our suits we went straight to the water park. 

Birthday dinner - notice new birthday balloons??
I didn't realize until I was writing this blog that I spelled birthday wrong!!
Happy birthday, Madeline!
Water slides, wave pool, lazy river, we did it all.  With just a quick break for a pizza dinner, we made the most of our evening.  By the time David was leaving the park to take Jonathan to the room for bed, I was freezing.  Madeline and I usually take a quick dip in the hot tub to warm up when we are done swimming.  I had suggested the hot tub and was pleased to find some warmth, however, Madeline was not ready to call it a night.  She wanted to head back in the pool.  After a dip in the hot tub, there was no way that I could bring myself to getting back in the pool, which was unusually cool.  I told Madeline that she could play in the water as I watched but she was having no part of not having one on one Mama time.  I decided that the only way I would easily get Madeline out of the pool (and save me from having to go back in) would be the promise of a different fun activity.  I ended up introducing her to the world of video arcades.  We went to the hotel's game room. Whoa....I created a monster!  Yet, Madeline and I had a lot of fun together.  If her video car driving skills are any indication of her future driving ability, we are all in big trouble.  We rode cars, motorcycles, shot gigantic tarantulas on a safari, whacked some moles and played skee ball.  If Madeline won even one coupon from her game you would think that she won the lottery.  After cashing in her coupons at the end of the night Madeline was amazed that she could have fun at the arcade AND win prizes.  She picked out two tattoos, a ring, two suction cup jumpy things, a pad of paper and a bracelet.  When Madeline and I got back to the hotel room she was so excited to show David all her winnings....but, with all the water park activities she was also *very* ready for bed.

For the morning, I had packed some muffins and bananas.  After a quick bite to eat in our room, we were back in the water park, splashing the morning away....thankfully the water was much warmer the next day!  Also, the morning was a LOT less crowded than the night before and I actually had enough guts to try the surf machine.  I wear a tankini bathing suit so I was nervous about loosing my bottom piece (a woman right before me did!) but I managed.  Although I opted for body surfing, instead of actually standing on the board, I was actually proud to have had the guts to do this.  I can now check that off my list and never do it again.  By lunch time we were checked out of our room and had a morning of splashing and play under our belt, yet since we were across the street from the Mall of America, we decided to grab our lunch in the food court and let the kids ride a few rides.  For part of the time, David ended up taking Jonathan to the mall's aquarium while Madeline and I got crazy on rides.  For my friends that have been here to visit, I actually got on the Ninja Turtle ride.  But....even more impressive, I rode the Avatar Air Bender ride!!!!! (check this  I have yet been able to talk anyone else into riding this with me and so since David was with us and able to watch both kids I was determined to ride.  I have never screamed so much on a ride before....I actually went from screaming bloody murder to laughing hysterically at myself for screaming so loud.  CRAZY ride but I would totally do it again!

After the afternoon of fun at the mall, we headed home for the remainder of Madeline's birthday.  I told Madeline that she got to choose what I would make for her birthday dinner.  Madeline had requested shrimp pasta.  I whipped some up for Madeline and me and opted for chicken pasta for David and Jonathan.  After dinner, we sang "Happy Birthday" and enjoyed Madeline's birthday cake.  Madeline requested a birthday cake with a rainbow on it.  I was so proud of my creation.....that is, until I was looking at the photos to prepare this blog post (a full week after her birthday!).  It was not until then that I noticed that I spelled birthday wrong on the cake.  I spelled it "bithday".  What the heck!! I want a re-do!

Opening gifts
After cake, Madeline opened her presents.  She was so blessed.  It was so thoughtful of so many friends and relatives to send her something special in the mail.  Madeline was thrilled with each and every gift.  The funniest story, however, is that her Aunt Margaret used a "chicken dinner" box to package Madeline's gift in the mail.  When we broke through the outer postal packaging Madeline asked, "What is it"?  David and I told her chicken.  We had her believe for a minute that Aunt Margaret sent her chicken for her birthday.  We even had her pose for a picture with the chicken gift.  The only thing Madeline said was, "cool" as she set aside the box.  When she was finally told that isn't what was inside the box, Madeline was definitely much more pleased with the cute outfit inside - she actually wore it to school the next day.

Thanks, Aunt Margaret, for the "chicken"!
All in all, I believe Madeline's birthday celebration was a success.  Not only did we end up with a super happy birthday girl, but the four of us were able to enjoy an awesome one-on-one family time weekend together.  David and I (and I suspect the kids too), at the end of the weekend, felt so refreshed and relaxed, almost as if we went on vacation.  A *much* better outcome (and probably the same price) as if we had a kids party out.  I would totally recommend this celebration route to anyone and would repeat this in the future.  Now, if only I could do something about how quickly these kids are growing up!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Madeline as Rapunzel
Jonathan as a pilot
Wow! I can't believe that this was already our 2nd Halloween here in Minnesota! Yet, since this was our first Halloween at our new house it was, in a way, a new experience once again.  Madeline has been looking forward to Halloween for weeks and has asked for a daily countdown for just as long.  Although this was not Jonathan's first Halloween either, it was his first Halloween that he could participate to any real degree.

Madeline doing the serious Trick-Or-Treating as Jonathan enjoys the scenery.
For weeks Madeline would beg to look at the costume section every time we stepped foot into Target.  Every time we walked in the store she would tell me what she wanted to dress up as and by the time we left the store, Madeline's costume choice would change to something else.  I think Madeline had about 40 costume "must haves" during the month of October.  When it came time to make a decision, Madeline opted to dress as Rapunzel.  Jonathan, however, had no real say in the matter so it was just a matter of Mama and Papa choosing a costume.  Since Jonathan loves pointing out all the airplanes in the sky, we decided on the airplane pilot costume.  We figured this costume would also get some use after Halloween with some pretend play - Jonathan loves "flying" around the house.

Jonathan was enjoying the wagon in between stops.
Trick-or-treating with class mascot, Mariah the Moose
Although both kids had a mini "dress rehearsal" in their costumes when we visited Grandma and Grandpa, I tried to perfect things a little more for Halloween night.  This meant "glamming up" Rapunzel with some make-up and a curling iron.  I also bought Jonathan a "leather" (or shall I say, pleather) jacket and pilot cap to finish off his costume (gotta love "Savers" second hand store....and, bonus is I hit the store on 20% off day too!)

Is that the Addams Family???...nah, just Mama-Dirtyfoot's family
Madeline and one of her schoolmates
We also had a "tag along" to our family's trick-or-treating.  Madeline is responsible for her class' "Mariah the Moose".  We have Mariah for the week.  Mariah gets to share in the adventures of our family and we get to journal her experiences before heading back to class next week.  We decided to dress-up Mariah as Tinkerbell and have the moose go trick-or-treating with us too.

Now what is this thing you call chocolate??
(Eyes bugging out) Whoa! You've been holding out on me!!
The evening was crisp, but not too cold.  Although a jacket would've been ideal, Madeline did not want to cover up her costume.  Although we threw a coat in the wagon "just in case", it was never touched.  We made Madeline take it slow to the first house so that Jonathan could go with her.  After that, as a seasoned veteran, Madeline took off running.  After a house, we would plop Jonathan in the wagon and by the time we put him in the wagon, pulled him down the street and got him back out of the wagon, Jonathan was doing every other house - 1 house to every two of Madeline's.  I was pleased to hear the thank yous coming from Madeline.  Meanwhile, Jonathan was initially more interested in the sticks on the sidewalk or throwing the plastic pumpkin bucket from his hand but eventually it seemed as though he was starting to get the hang of things.  After about an hour out, Jonathan hit his limit and so David took him home while Madeline and I continued on.

As a kid, as a teacher and as a all roles, weekday Halloweens sucked. I think Madeline could've continued on with the trick or treating but knowing my daughter, I had to keep her bedtime on a school night somewhat reasonable.  She and I continued on for a little bit after Jonathan went home.  That is when we happened to meet up with one of Madeline's schoolmates.  In both girls a second wind hit them.  It was almost like seeing a light switch turn on, and the two of them ran from house to house.

Mmmmmm.....Decisions, decisions!
Finally we turned the corner, back onto our street again, and it was time to wrap up our trick-or-treating.  However, Halloween night is not complete until you raid your trick-or-treating bucket when you get home.  I allowed Jonathan his first taste of chocolate.  Let's just say that he really, really, *really* liked it!  As for Madeline, it is a good thing that I lost count of what she ate that night.  Unlike when I was a child, (It was up to me to ration my Halloween candy as I saw fit....needless to say, the candy didn't last long at all) post-Halloween, Madeline is back to one piece of candy after dinner.  Sigggghhhhh.....that, however is not helping me as that candy calls my name - taunting me - while Madeline is at school.  Oh wait, haven't you heard???? November 1st is National "Eat Your Kids' Halloween Candy While They Are At School" Day.  I guess I am just being festive and celebrating this "holiday", right?????