Thursday, September 24, 2015

Living in AZ!

I have been living in Arizona for 25 days...and...I also have not worn pants in 25 days!  Shorts and tanks every single day.  I am loving the heat!  92 to 98 and sunny every.single.day.

We are settling in a bit.  Our apartment is a little smaller then we are used to but its nice and we have everything we need.  The pool at our apt building is amazing and we have been there almost every evening. 

We are in the process of buying a house!  We are on track to close in mid-Oct.  We are so excited to have a playroom for Rory, a pool and Tim has an awesome media room!  Can't wait to decorate and make it our own.

We joined a gym.  As sad as I am to say goodbye to Lifetime, we are excited to join Mountainside Fitness.  Its 2 miles from our house.  Can't wait to run there, take a yoga class and run (probably walk) home!

Rory is back in swim class.  With a pool in our new backyard we are doubling down on swim lessons.  She is going twice a week for a few months to boost her skills!

Rory is loving school.  She does still miss her friends and teachers and a few other things from Primrose but she has embraced Goddard School bravely and there is lots she loves about it.  She loves that I make her lunch everyday!  She has made a few new friends.  And she loves the new songs and the more "big kid" room.  In Pre-K she's learning handwriting and sounds and all the foundations of reading.  I'm loving it too, you can tell Rory is being challenged and is engaged in the activities at school.



We are enjoying exploring Arizona.  We took a drive through the mountains in Carefree, drove to Sedona for a day trip and have tried a few new restaurants.  This weekend we'll probably check out the Phoenix Zoo.

We found out last week that baby on the way (due 2/2) is... drum roll please... a boy!  Although Rory was really excited for a little sister, she has flipped and decided a boy was what she wanted all along!  We are all very excited!  Baby boy is kicking away all of sudden and everything is going great!  

Here's a video of Rory finding out it's a boy....


I must say the best part about living here so far is the Food.  Somehow it makes me feel SO at home.  Rosati's, Portillos and NY Style Deli's are all places and foods I grew up with the first 24 years of my life.  I didn't realize how much the symbolize home for me until now.  Being able to drive down the street and get a bowl of matzoh ball soup really feels good. 

Last but not least... Rory turned 4 last week!  We had a low key but FUN birthday!  

 
I think that's plenty of updates for now!  Can't wait to have visitors this fall and winter - hint..hint... book your trip!



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Friday, August 28, 2015

MN to AZ

Wow it's been a while.  And so much going on.  I have been told and also feel with everything going on I should probably start blogging more often.  

Everyone should know all this but... We are moving to Arizona.  We have lived in Minnesota since March of 2007, so almost 8.5 years.  This state has been good to us.  We started as an engaged 24 year old and 30 years old and we leave 33 and 39, Married for almost 8 years with an almost 4 year old..  So we have grown up, started our family, outgrown our house and overall changed a ton!

Post from the day I moved to MN - I've also gotten better at
social media in the last 8 years.

Bye House!
I have loved our house, where we live and exploring this state.  In the last 8 years I have become a runner, a golfer, a mom and an Analyst.  But by far the best thing I did to feel at home was when I started the book club in Oct 2008.  Prior to that I was lonely and depressed and wasn't quite so sure about living away from home.  I met girls that have become my closest friends and 228 Meetups, many other plans and vacations later that has made leaving Minnesota so hard.  They have helped me in so many ways and I'm sad to no longer be able to watch Bachelor in Paradise on a random Monday with them, Meet for Yoga classes at the gym, Meet for lunches with our kids, train for long races, Chat books once a month and explore new places to eat.  I could not possibly love them or be grateful for them more.  I can't wait for many more fun times of visits and vacations together!

I am excited for a new adventure.  Although Minnesota was home for over 8 years, it never felt like a permanent solution for our family.  I'm excited to explore a new city, experience a new lifestyle and enjoy a life without -20 and snow.  Good news is I've done this before and became quite good at making friends and keeping myself busy, so I feel confident that I can start over and thrive.

Rory's last day of Primrose is today.  She has been there since Jan of 2014, so over 1.5 years.  She is at an age where she is super into her friends and she is sad to leave them (me too, I get it).  But she also doesn't quite understand what's on the other side of this.  She's never been to Arizona.  She doesn't know what mountains look like in person, she hasn't seen her new school and everything will be completely new to her.  She is approaching all of this with as much bravery and positivity as she can muster.  I'm very proud of her.  Change is hard, especially when you are 4 and barely understand it.  I feel this will make her stronger in the end and of course 2 weeks from now she will be comfortable in her new school and talking all about her new friends and teachers!

So as I sit in Minnesota in our hotel room I am excited and nervous and sad and happy and anxious and pretty much every other emotion you want throw out there.  The 4 of us - Tim, Rory, Willow and me - have a one way ticket to AZ on Monday.  

Willow Enjoying the Hotel Life
I'll blog all about our journey.  I get encouraged to blog more from comments both on Blogger and on FB, so please let me know someone is listening and I will keep typing!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Quick Trip to Chicago

Rory, Tim and had a quick trip to Chicago last weekend!  Its funny because I always say we are going on a trip "home" to Rory when we are going to Chicago and it really confuses her.  Probably should stop saying that.

We left Thursday after work and made it to Tim's Parents house by 1am.  Rory fell asleep about 10 in the car and did really good on the whole trip.

Friday was a bonus day!  Rory and I went to visit my Nana.  We stayed for a while and then headed to a nearby hot dog place so I could get my Chicago Style Hot Dog.  Then we stopped by my Mom's school to visit.  Rory loved being in a big girl school and see all the classrooms.  Its crazy to think she'll be at a similar school in just a few short years.  


We went to Lou Malnati's for dinner with Bubba and GMike.  Rory had her first ever Lou's pizza - she ate an entire slice!  


Saturday was all about Annie!  We started the day out at church to celebrate her first communion.  She looked so pretty in her beautiful white dress.  We had brunch with the family then we all went our separate ways for naps the met up at Andrew's later for dinner, derby and MayPaq.


For the record I am a Mayweather fan and I was rooting for him to win.  I have watch all of his fights since Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, 11 fights  and I love his style of fighting.  He is technically a great fighter, but there is something about how he bates his opponent and how they always fall for it that I love watching.  I only wish Pacquiao would have put up a better fight to make it more exciting.

Sunday we spent a couple hours hanging out with Tim's parents and then hit the road.  Short and sweet but so fantastic to see everyone!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Some Randoms...

Some random fun outtakes of Rory over the last few weeks...

Rory running down the hill in her favorite dress...


Eating Breakfast at book club...


Selfie at Staring Lake with the sun in our eyes...


Love the eyes...


Funny Faces...


More Selfies...


Slide...


Great place to watch TV...


Hanging on the driveway with a banana behind her back...


Big girl swing...


Another Selfie...


My helper...


Rory took this...




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Thursday, April 23, 2015

I am Grateful for Daniel Tiger

Daniel Tiger is such a good influence!  Rory was watching an episode about being Thankful and she immediately wanted to create Thank You cards for Daddy and her 2 teachers!  Although I was hesitant about Daniel Tiger at first (mainly because of the Meow Meow) I am really liking all the lessons Rory is getting from the show.  

Also, we now sing songs for everything which makes life so much more fun!  I did this when Rory was younger, so I'm glad to revisit it (i.e. We having Matching Hats song).  Its amazing how much easier it is to get Rory to do a simple task like put on her shoes, when I sing "Just say Okay" then when I ask her a different way.



Its been a little while since I have worked with her on her letters, and they do not work on this in school yet, so I was impressed that she can now write D, T, N, L and U without any help.  



I also was excited that she can draw a Sun and people that really kind of look like people.  I see them (but I watched her draw them), can you see them?

We ran out of room for Ms Anderson's name but Rory did all the letters except the A and E on her own!  So awesome!  She was so proud of herself!  (It curls around the page).


Rory was so excited to go to school this morning and bring the cards to her teachers.  She hid them behind her back and stuck her tougue out as she does when she is being shy.  Ms Pagel asked what she had and she rant up to her and said "I made you a card."  She was so excited.  All of Rory's friends sitting down eating breakfast started talking about how they were going to make them cards too.

Sidenote - Then Rory popped something in her mouth and I realized she had been holding her vitamins in her hand the entire car ride to school because she didn't want to put down the cards!

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude journals lately and was wondering if it would be worthwhile to start one with Rory, or if she is still to young.  I love the idea of it but want to make sure its something we can stick with.  Any one keep a gratitude journal with their kids?  

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Girls and their Dolls

Ok, I officially give in...  

I had very strong opinions when Rory was little that I would mastermind a plan to deter Rory from playing with dolls.  I would gently steer her away from dolls.  No harm, no foul, she would find joy in some other toy like I did as a kid.  There are many reason I am not a doll fan, none of which are really all that rational, but here goes:

1. They are creepy
2. Sometimes they look too real.
3. My Little Ponies are so much better.
4. They come with too much stuff, clothes, shoes, etc.  (My Little Ponies can all share one brush).
5. They are creepy.

So I bought Rory My Little Ponies instead of dolls, stuffed animals instead of dolls, trucks instead of dolls.  I told grandparents to stay away from dolls as gifts.  But despite my efforts, my super girly dress wearing daughter LOVES dolls.  



She loves to dress her doll and bring her places.  She loves that the Bitty Baby looks like her.  She loves putting her dolls in strollers, beds, high chairs, swings.  She loves the  Bitty Baby books about her doll.  She loves the American Girl restaurant and the whole store.  She looks forward to being old enough for the Big Girl American Girl doll.



Just goes to show you that some likes and dislikes are part of your personality.  Other kids may have dolls pushed on them and not like them at all.  But my little girl despite my efforts, found her way to dolls.  So in the spirit of being positive, here are the reason I like dolls:

1. Rory loves them!
2. Rory loves to wear the same dress as her doll.
3. For some reason Rory decided to name her doll Baby Rory (its very confusing, but very cute)
4. When Baby Rory is going in the car, Big Rory is more excited to go too
5. The creepy eyes close when the doll lays down!

.

Funny thing is My Mom just sent me a little My Little Pony in Rory's Bubba Box.  Really, it was meant for me.  Of course, I let Rory play with it and she pretends its her Baby Rory's Toy.  That doll has great taste in toys!



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Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Meaning to Backseat Driver

I am happy that Rory knows the meaning or Red Lights, Green Lights and Yellow Lights.  I'm also happy, although a little surprised, that she notices them.  For a few months now Rory has been commenting when we are sitting at a red light "Good Job Mommy stopping at the red light."  I thank her, thinking she is being cute and funny.  Sometimes she will notice the light turn green a millisecond before I do, and proudly let me know that the light is green, "which means you can go."  

Recently Rory has also taken up an interest in Speed Limit signs.  One day she asked how fast I was going and so I explained that I was going 55 miles per hour, which was the speed limit.  I told her if she looks on the right side of the street she will see numbers on a white sign and that is the speed limit.  Well, now I have a little speed monitor.  She will notice signs and point them out "Mommy that sign says six five, is your limit six five?"  

She will also frequently ask if we are on the highway or not and point out when there is traffic.  Rory also notices many buildings and landmarks, her favorites are Abigail's school and Book club.

The one that really gets me though is turning right on red.  She gets almost angry at me every time I make a right turn at a red stop light.  Telling me "you can't go, the red light means stop."  It has gotten to the point that I am sick of explaining to her how rights on red work.  She has taken an absolute stance on Red Lights and insists I am doing it wrong.  She insists that Daddy does not make right turns at Red Lights.  Which leads me to believe that either he drives in circles counter-clockwise or Rory pays less attention in the car with Daddy.

When I was little I would imagine that there was a person running along side the car on the sidewalk jumping over and dodging everything that was in their way.  A kind of Parkour before its day.  I didn't know what street we were on, how fast we were going or anything about traffic signals.  I was in my own little world of jumping over mailboxes and ducking under tree branches.

Its one thing to have your husband or another passenger comment on your driving, but having the little 3.5 year old on constant alert has added new meaning to the term backseat driver!

Am I answering her questions too thoroughly?  Does anyone else have little backseat drivers?


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Friday, February 6, 2015

Growing, charts and Rory's Friday Faves!

Rory has grown up a ton lately.  She has the growth spurts that come out of no where and surprise us.  Not necessarily physical growth spurts but growing up growth spurts.  All of a sudden Rory knows all of her letters.  

She mixes up a few still but if you go through the alphabet flash cards twice she will get every one.  She also is further along then I realized on putting sounds with the letters.  If I hold up a photo of a Turtle and say what does it start with, she with sound it out and get it right for most of the letters.  She also makes associations, for example, I'll show her an Elephant and she will say "sounds like Ellie" (her friend at school) "and Ellie starts with E".  You can see the building blocks of reading coming along, its very cool.  



Rory has also become even funnier lately.  And she TRIES to tell jokes and be funny.  Yesterday in the car she said this:

Rory: Do you know who the funniest person in our house is?
Me: Who? (Thinking she will say herself)
Rory: Willow is the funniest, then me, then you and then Daddy

She says it with laughter in her voice, knowing that to claim the cat is the funniest is pretty hilarious. 

She also said the other day:

Rory: When I grow up I will be taller then Ms. Pagel (who is over 6 feet tall)
Me; You might be, you will definitely be taller then me.
Rory: Don't worry Mommy, I will still be friends with you when I'm super tall (said laughing)

Yes, this makes no sense, but its pretty hilarious.

Coming from someone whose sense of humor is pretty much puns, I find her effort and jokes hilarious!  She still says when she grows up she wants to be a comedian.  Sometimes she says Meteorologist Comedian Mommy.  I'd watch that news station BTW, the weather could use a little more humor, can you imagine all the puns she could do!

Rory has been pushing her independence a lot lately too.  We've had a handful of really bad days at school in the last couple months.  A bad day consists of Rory not listening to her teachers and on the worst of the days she will actually tantrum and kick and scream at her teachers.  She's had quite a few afternoons in her room for this behavior.  When asked why she didn't listen she answers "Because I didn't want to, I wanted to make my own choices."  We are in trouble, but on some level that's a reasonable answer.  We just need to give her the tools to make the right choices.  Mostly at 3 years old to listen and respect her teachers even when she does not want to.  

We are getting better though.  We started a brand new sticker chart this week as well as a chore chart.  The sticker chart works a bit different then the one before.  This one is weekly, each day she can get 0-2 stickers - 1 for a good day, 2 for a great day.  Her teacher knows about this so writes on her sheet if it was a 0,1 or 2 sticker day.  She also gets stickers from us on the weekends.  If she gets 7 stickers in the 7 days she gets the designated treat at the end of the week.  The treats are small and fun - family ice cream date, family hot chocolate date, new book and play at the bookstore, pack of M and M's, etc.  I have it set up for 8 weeks.  Hoping this will just help to reinforce how important having good days at school is.  

The chore chart was Tim's idea.  And it was a great one.  Rory is obsessed with doing her chores.  There are 3 - Fill Willow's food and water, Check and fill all TP holders in all 4 bathrooms and play sock matching game.  Not all of them have to be done daily and in total all 3 take maybe 15 minutes.  
Rory loves to take care of Willow.  This morning while getting ready, Willow was crying and Rory said "sounds like I need to do my chores."  She finished getting ready and went downstairs and filled Willows food and water before going to school.  She gets to mark each chore Done each day.




I feel like Rory has made a leap physically recently too.  She is getting more confident at gymnastics and more coordinated.  She can jump on the trampoline no problem - just last summer she would jump once or twice then fall on her butt.  She can do the balance beam without help.  The 2 times we've taken her ice skating she has done awesome and loves it.  She has slept during nap time at school without a diaper for months, and just last weekend I decided to bite the bullet and see if she could do it at home.  She had a small accident Saturday but stayed dry Sunday!  Going to try to keep her out of diapers at nap and eventually work on nighttime.  I'm not in a rush, but she would love to not sleep in diapers.  Tim signed Rory up for Soccer this Spring, I can't wait to watch her play!  She'll also do swim again, let the busyness begin!




Also her asthma has been kept at bay this whole winter thus far (knock on wood).  She has had a few colds and they have all been basically normal kid colds.  I'll still give her nebs and albuterol but it really is more preventive and/or me being overly cautious then Rory actually having breathing issues.  The Flovent has had a major positive impact on Rory's quality of life.  I know that sounds extreme, but that kid was sick all the time and her asthma would get so bad.  We'll reevaluate whether or not we want to give her Flovent over the summer but glad we made that decision.

In the spirit or Rory update and Friday Favorites...

Rory's Five Friday Favorites:

1. Wearing her hair down with one tiny braid in it (see water bowl photo)
2. Super Why! (Not going to lie this is a nice break from Mickey!)
3. Yasso Bars (or the cold bars as she calls them, she can't seem to remember the name)


4. Dresses with sweatshirts over (Not sure how I do not have a photo of this look)
5. Taking Crazy Selfies

Monday, February 2, 2015

Explaining Daylight Savings Time to a 3 year old... everyday!

This is a daily conversation in our car in the afternoon...

Rory: Its still light out?
Me: Yes, remember how I told you that the days get longer so it stays light a little later everyday?
Rory: Why?
Me: Well, The days get shorter leading up to winter, then in the middle of January they start to get longer.  In the middle of summer it doesn't get dark until way after your bedtime.
Rory: How many days until summer?
Me: A lot.
Rory: But how many?
Me: Once Feb is over its slowly starts to get nicer out.  

OR

Rory: Its dark out, that means its bedtime soon but I'm not tired yet.
Me: You have a couple hours till bedtime
Rory: But its dark out.
Me: Right, it gets dark early in the winter
Rory: I need a flashlight I can't see.

OR

Rory: I can see the moon
Me: I see it too, its looks so pretty.
Rory: Why isn't it dark out if the moon is out.

I never would have guessed the number of conversations around lightness/darkness outside.  Its like on replay every day.  Rory desperately wants to understand it.  She also just really wants summer back, can't say I blame her, but living in Minnesota she should probably get used to long winters pretty soon.  

I am not looking forward to Daylight savings time ending either.  This is how that conversation went in October:

Rory: Why is it dark out?
Me: There is this thing called daylight savings time where we change our clocks back an hour.  That makes it darker earlier but lighter in the morning when we go to school, so when I pick you up after school it might be dark already.
Rory: Why is it dark out?  

Yes, a little complex for a 3 year old but at least I didn't get into the tilt of the earth's axis and the earth's rotation.  Plus, she asked so I always try to explain even the most complex thing somehow.




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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Sticker Chart

After getting very tired of  the many time-outs in our house we decided back in September to try something new.  I wanted to go along the lines of positive reinforcement, something that would encourage Rory to listen better and do things on her own.  After a little poking around on Pinterest, I decided to create my own sticker chart for Rory.

Rory and I went to Target together and picked out poster board and stickers.  Then together we brainstormed 3 prizes that she wanted.  She chose pack of M&M's (we rarely let her eat candy so this is a big treat for her), A new toy from The One Spot at Target and as the big prize a trip to Build-A-Bear.  After she went to bed I created a board game-like sticker board and hung it on the side of the cabinet. My drawing skills could use some improvement!


In the beginning Rory earned lots of stickers.  She was excited and would volunteer to do things on her own.  We stuck with the examples on the bottom at first, but as she got good with these things we challenged her a little more.  For example, we started right when Rory got her new daily inhaler and was giving us a hard time taking it morning and night.  We put on the list 'Take Meds with No Fight.'  After about a week and 8 stickers she was a master at her inhaler and it seemed silly to continue to reward her for this so we started focusing on the other tasks. 

The few things that remained a constant top sticker earner throughout the 3 months of this chart were Cleaning up her toys, Listening, Getting herself dressed and Going potty by herself.  On occasion she would get special stickers for waking up early to take me to the airport or having friends over and sharing her toys.  Rory was really motivated for each prize along the way and especially for the grand prize.


An unexpected bonus of the chart was that it allowed us to work on our counting A LOT.  Everytime Rory got a new sticker she counted how many she had.  This ended up in the 60's until we switched to counting how many were left.  She needs help with the flip to the next 10's but I thought this was a great way to practice and learn counting.

After months of working hard on this the Build-A-Bear day finally came yesterday.  Rory was beyond excited.  

On the way to Build-A-Bear we talked about what she would name her bear.  My only advice was that we should avoid names like Brown Bear the Bear or Horsey the Horse.  Although Tim thinks those are cute, I prefer names a little more unique and creative.  I suggested she think of food, places, people, things that she loves and maybe name her bear after one of those.  Like "Target the Bear"? she said.  Even 3 year olds love Target!

Rory picked out a pink camo bear.  She did a great job of walking down the line and looking at all her options before she settled on it.  She is the perfect age for Build-A-Bear, she loved the stuffing process and putting the heart in the bear.  She loved all the magic of rubbing the hear on your head for smarts, arms for strength etc.  Rory then cleaned off her bear and brushed her.  She then dressed her doll in sunglasses, sparkly shoes and a pretty dress.  


When it was time to name her I sat the Bear in front of her and said "take a good look at her and give her a name that fits her." Rory was quiet.  I said "Try giving her a hug and see if something comes to you."  You could see the wheels turning and she tried to think of something.  "Fruity. I want to name her Fruity the Bear."  So Fruity it is!   


Rory is ready to start a new sticker chart right away.  She said she wants green poster board next time and would like to put a bed/chair for Fruity as one of the prizes.  So you will probably see more Sticker Chart blog posts in the future!

I would say that even though Rory had periods of time of not listening and acting out during this 3 months, the sticker chart was successful.  It worked better for motivating her to do things on her own rather then just listen in general.   She has made great strides in getting herself dressed, putting on her coat and shoes herself, going potty on her own, taking her meds on her own and helping to set and clear the table.  


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