Monday, July 30, 2012

The Little Apple

Riekenberg Cousins. LOVE.
I had full intentions to blog our trip as it happened. Little did I know I'd be so tired by the time they went to sleep that I didn't want to do anything but lie down! So, you'll have to excuse a bit of back-tracking and reminiscing of our 10-day road trip.

After Kansas City, but before Omaha, we had a few more stops to make. First, was a trip to Manhattan, Kansas, also known as the Little Apple. Kansas State University (where Aaron went to college) is located in Manhattan. But we weren't there for a college reunion. We were there to celebrate the wedding of Aaron's cousin Grace as she wed Erik!

Manhattan also happens to be the home of Aaron's brother's wife's (Anne) parents Bob & Elaine. Since Jon, Anne & Will were also traveling to Manhattan for Grace's wedding, Bob & Elaine so graciously opened their home to ALL of us to stay for a few days. We cannot thank them enough!! It was wonderful to have a warm, welcoming place to stay and beyond our expectations that Elaine watched the kids for us a few times so we adults could venture out kid-free. What a joy!! (We were trying to figure out a relation name of Bob & Elaine to us - parents-in-law-in-law? Or to B&H - grandparents-in-law? We just settled for "Will's Grammy & Papa"!)

We had a fun 2 days at Bob & Elaine's. B&H played with Will, ran through sprinklers, played with new toys, ate popsicles, and just had a great time. Thanks, Will's Grammy & Papa!

Will guiding Ben through the yard
Trying out Will's Trike. I think a similar model might
appear on the babies' 2nd birthday wishlist!

The wedding was on Saturday and Jon, Anne, Aaron & I enjoyed a nice outing without the kid to attend the wedding. It was a wonderful ceremony and Grace made a beautiful bride - even in the 106 degree heat!! (Thank God for a/c in the church!!!)
After the ceremony, we went back to Bob & Elaine's house to get the kids and head to the reception, held at the K-State Alumni Center. Cake, punch, room to run, and more family time. What more could two toddlers and a preschooler want??? Thankfully, we did secure a great spot at the reception in the back that allowed for this to happen:

Also, thankfully no one seemed to mind! Double thankfully: No one ran into the dessert table and knocked everything over!

I wish this photo turned out better, it was so CUTE! A group of Grace's friends were standing in a circle chit-chatting and Ben walked right in the middle and started flirting with them. What a ladies' man!!

Sunday, the day after the wedding, we got up and headed on the road again - this time to Grampa's house in Galva, Kansas. We were sad to bid farewell to Will, Anne & Jon. It just wasn't enough cousin time!! B&H also gave big hugs to Bob & Elaine to thank them for welcoming us to their home.
Two Musketeers.... Three Musketeers
 Thank you to Anne for taking such great photos AND letting me steal them for my blog! ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Somewhere in the Middle of America

Tonight is our 7th night away from home and we find ourselves in Omaha, Neb. You'll recall in my last post that we were in Kansas City. From there, we went to Manhattan, Kansas for 2 days, then Galva, Kansas for 3 days. (Lots more on that on that later!). Now we're stopping over in Omaha en route to Sioux Falls to visit my family for a few days and celebrate my grandma's 80th birthday.

At this point, the trip is almost laughable. It's one of those things that once we survive it, we'll look back on it for years saying "Remember when we went on a 10-day road trip with 2 toddlers?! We were crazy!!" But at this point, we are all so exhausted that all we can do is laugh.

Today really started at about 2:30 a.m. last night. Hannah woke up crying - and did so for most of the next 4 hours. Aaron and I took turns sleeping with her on the futon, but neither of us rested well. She was, however, excited to see morning come:

 After one last morning of playing with Grampa, watching trains go by (he has a track running through his backyard!) and eating snack, we hit the road. Did you know there was a Minneapolis, Kansas along the way...?

We made it  very nearly to Nebraska before stopping for lunch, and that's when it all went to pot. Ben had spilled his water all over himself in the car, so he needed a clothing change. They were already restless, and we'd only been on the road for about 90 minutes. And we still had about 3 hours to go.

Once we got to Nebraska - which is incidentally the babies' 6th state they've been to; not too shabby for not even 2 years old - Ben finally did sleep. And he slept the entire way through Nebraska. Hannie, though... you'd think she'd be dead tired after being up all night (Daddy & I were!), but nope. Girl kept chit chatting, playing, then finally crying. She cried most of the way across Nebraska, falling asleep for the last 100 miles or so. Sheesh.

When we finally got to Omaha, our room wasn't quite ready to check in yet, so I directed us to the Old Market. My mom and stepdad lived in the Omaha area for a few years and I spent one summer with them when I was a teenager. I remembered this area of Omaha being really kitschy and hip with neat shops, good restaurants, and good people watching.

Of course, the heatwave continues in Omaha, so at 102 degrees this afternoon, about the only thing we could muster was another trip for ice cream. This time, we tried Ted & Wally's, a homemade ice cream shop that I remembered from my teenage years. It was delicious and hit the spot after being in the car for 5 hours!
Ben sits in front of the old ice cream machine.

Mmm. Cotton Candy flavor!
Tired of sitting!
After ice cream, we checked in, hit the pool (B&H both loved it and swam for an hour!), ordered a pizza, then they hit the hay. No fussing, no crying, nothing. Right to sleep. Let's hope they stay that way!

As for me, it's just 8:40 p.m. and I am going to go nigh-nigh, too. This momma's tired!
Tomorrow's a fun day planned: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. It's supposedly one of the best zoos in the entire country! I haven't been there in easily 15 years, so I'm excited to see it! We plan to visit it for the morning then get back in the car (gulp!) and head to Sioux Falls - a nice "short" 3 hour drive. I hope the zoo wears them out and they sleep the entire way.

A Momma can dream, right...? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

444 miles

And so begins the first leg of our 10-day marathon road trip.

Google maps says from our house to the hotel in Merriam, KS is 444 miles and it should take 7 hours and 7 minutes. It sure felt like 444 miles, maybe even more. But I'm happy to say that even with the two kiddos, we made the trip in just under 9 hours. That's only 1 extra hour per kid!

The trip started out great! They were thrilled with sitting forward in their carseats!

But about an hour north of Des Moines (our planned stopping place for lunch), all went to crap.

In all fairness, they were hungry. I'm not proud of the snack I gave them (duplex cookies), but it did the trick and held them over until we could stop for lunch.

At Dairy Queen in Ames, Ben was his normal flirty self and made friends with all the "grandpa" looking men in the restaurant. We've been talking all week about how he gets to see his grandpa this week, so I don't know if that sunk in or what. Nonetheless, he had a great time chatting everyone up. Hannah had fun drinking her milk out of a straw.

After lunch, we had hoped they'd fall right asleep. Of course, they didn't think that was the greatest idea. So we had to get out the big guns: Elmo. Yes, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that we bought a DVD player for the car, but it proved to be a success. They watched about 20 minutes, then zonked out for about an hour and half. Then when it got hairy again after they snoozed, Elmo calmed them down again for the rest of the trip. 
Overall, the trip has been uneventful so far. We spent the whole day today driving. We did get to meet Jon, Anne & Will for dinner, though!! The cousins eyed each other up and down. I'm sure tomorrow the shyness will pass and they'll play like crazy!

Oh, and it's hot here. See?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


There's no denying B&H have inherited my love of books and reading. It gives me great sense of pride and joy to know this! I hope they have the foundations for learning, reading, investigating, researching!

The best part about their love of reading is that it gives me a bit of downtime. This morning, for example. I cleaned the kitchen and the quietness from the living room proved this:

They love to read anything. Literally. Magazines, newspapers, ads, board books, picture books, mass market paperbacks (for some reason, Hannah always grabs The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo off the shelf!).

They do have favorites, though.

Ben's favorites:

Where the Wild Things Are
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Yummy Yucky
Snuggle Puppy
Where is the Green Sheep?
It's a Little Book
and really any book he can get his hands on.

I think my taste in books has rubbed off on him!

Hannah, on the other hand,  really has one one favorite:

Girl will read this book over and over and over and over and over. She can point out all the pictures on the front when you ask her "Where's the car?" or "Where's the banana?" And now she can answer "What's that" to almost all the photos - everything but chair. She just hasn't said chair yet.

If she can't read 100 words, she will choose:
Higher Higher
Any animal book
Any lift the flap book

She just doesn't have a strong affinity to any other book besides the First 100 Words Book. She's crazy for that thing!!

A special shout-out to my friend Kate who blogged on this same topic and gave me the idea!

Monday, July 16, 2012


As has been our custom for the non-below-zero months the babies have been alive, we set out on our nightly walk this evening - even though it was 96 degrees as we ate dinner. B&H were being particularly naughty (a new post about that new word in everyone's vocab coming soon!) and I could tell we were all miserable.

Somehow, I wrangled them home. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: talking a way with B&H is much like herding cats. Needless to say, by the time we got home, we were all hot and very cranky. A quick look at my phone proved it to only be 6:20. WAAAY too early to go inside for bath.

So, what's a momma to do? Turn on the sprinkler of course!!


Checking to make sure her 2 babies and Bunny were OK.

I love Hannie's face in this one! (And Ben's, too).

Splashing in the side effects.
I feel like I *almost* killed 3 birds with one stone. First, they ran off energy. Necessity! Second, our scorched lawn got a healthy drink. Third - if I hasn't let them splash in the mud puddles after, we could have gotten away without a bath! Note to self for the future!

Get Out of Dodge

It's still hot here. Like Get-Out-of-Dodge hot. Except we have no cabin to go to .... so we stuck around the city last weekend and tried out something new to entertain ourselves: Dodge Nature Center in West St Paul. I have a few friends who have visited there and have said their twins enjoy the grounds.

The grounds include a farm, some walking trails (not really hiking, but I think they called them hiking trails), a pond (VERY green & gross) and some prairieland. We were most excited about the farm, so we loaded up and walked through an overgrown path to the farm. I have the mosquito bites to prove it!
Hoping the sheep come a bit closer
It was HOT and humid, even at 9 a.m., so when we noticed most of the animals were far out in the pasture, we didn't do much. We walked on a path, saw some animals from far away, and sat for a rest on some benches. We opted not to do the farm tour happening that morning. We just got TOO hot. We did see some sheep relatively close, though!

So, we ended up at Target, of course. Why do we even bother going anywhere else??

PS: If you couldn't tell, I'm still messing around on Picmonkey. I promise I'll stop adding overly-edited photos soon. I don't want to end up on You Are Not a Photographer!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Friday Phone Dump

At first I thought "I didn't take many photos this week!" But then I watched my computer load up 65 of them since last Saturday. Guess I did go a bit overboard.... Don't worry, I whittled it down to an easy 10 for you!

Watching the sleepy bears at the Zoo.

New train set!

Ben dropped Dobby (his froggy) while on our walk one night.
I made him go back and get it - maybe 3 houses down. He
looked like such a big boy walking away from me by himself! 
Rockin' the Baby Mullet! 
Who needs toys when you have chairs to climb on?

This is her "I'M SO HUNGRY!" face.

Sissy & Bubboh Love!

Chubby Arms + Holding Hands = Momma's Melting Heart

Rubbing Daddy's head at Marketfest

Toddler snack time with our friend Mary (Mimi or May-me, as B&H say)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot Fun in Stillwater

A few of my friends have recently posted photos on Facebook of their toddlers playing at the awesome Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater. Said toddlers appeared to be having a blast, so I knew we had to check it out, which we did last Saturday. Since Stillwater is a good 45 minute drive for us, we knew we had to plan to leave early and stay through lunch. We planned to play at the park, walk along the river, and eat lunch at Leo's, the cute little malt shop that we always (at least in the 4 or so times we've been to Stillwater, all before babies). What we didn't plan on was it being SO. DANG. HOT.

It was fun nonetheless and we left the park when it started to get wicked hot and found a nice "cool" spot under a tree for a snack. Can you tell this lady was hot and uncomfortable??

After our brief snack, we went exploring downtown for a bit. Of course, exploring with two toddlers means walking up and down the sidewalk - not a fun adventure when it is 95 degrees. Thankfully, one of the stores had "booms" outside the door. We walked by there about 5 times to look at them!

Finally, it got to be time for lunch and naturally, we were first in line for Leo's to open the door at 11:00. We sort of thought they should have let us in a little early, on account of it being like 95 degrees at 11 a.m., but they didn't.

Once we got in, Boy, oh Boy did we get some crabby kids! They were hot, hungry, and tired. Never a good combo for trying to eat at a restaurant. One of them was content coloring and sitting nicely in her booster seat (for the first time!). The other got downgraded to a highchair when he kept standing up in his booster seat. Stinker!

Before the crankiness began.
Overall it was a great day, even if it was close to 100 degrees. I mean, even if you're hot and sweaty, you get to look at these awesome views!
Looking across the river to Wisconsin

The Stillwater Lift Bridge - water up over the sidewalk.