Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Happenings

Wow, 2014 is nearly over!  Here is a look at our holiday season!

I "did" Thanksgiving on two hours of sleep due to a Wednesday overnight shift that ran two hours longer than scheduled to prepare for Black Friday.

I still don't, and probably never will, understand why consumers "demand" retailers open earlier and earlier each year for Black Friday.  It's a vicious cycle of competition between retailers and it continues because people continue to show up regardless of if it cuts into their family time.  I could go on all day about this but I'll spare anyone who happens to be reading this...you're welcome ;)

The first weekend in December Nana and Papa took everyone on the Polar Express North Pole Express in St. Paul!

We rode to the "North Pole" where Santa climbed on board to meet with all the kids and collect their letters!  It was a mostly fun night with stress levels rising as bedtime came and we still hadn't left Union Depot!  Everything gets harder when you have tired and crabby kids along...

The next morning we went to the tree farm with Jason's family to get his sister's tree!  *no pictures

Santa visited our library and brought along two of his reindeer!

Our friend, D, joined us!

Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy

Amelia was sick for her kindergarten Christmas concert this year.  She was very upset so we had our own concert at home!  She got all dressed up:

She sang us her favorite song from the concert:

After she performed we had "pizza that comes hot to your door" (aka delivery) because that is what they were having at the concert as a fundraiser for the music department.  All in all, not the night we had planned but still a success!  

Christmas Eve I worked 9.5 hours, headed home, got ready and we left to start our Christmas celebrations.  We spend Christmas Eve with my family, sleep there and then spend Christmas Day with Jason's family.  Jason and I went extra casual this year at my parent's house:

Family "selfie"

*Christmas Day lacks pictures...but Santa came, kids woke up at 5 a.m., we played games, we went to Christmas with Jason's family and headed home in the evening - exhausted!  

We're looking forward to spending New Year's Eve at home tomorrow - with the exception of a chiropractor appointment late in the afternoon for Amelia!  We have frozen pizzas waiting, movies will be watched and I'm sure a game or two will be played! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween 2014

We had so much fun this Halloween!  This was the first year that we did a family costume theme and we made the costumes as well!

The Incredibles!!!

We got the idea to be The Incredibles earlier this year.  I mean, c'mon, we have our very own "Baby Jack Jack!"  I am so glad we decided to do this.  It made Halloween just that much more fun...for all of us!

I wasn't sure how to go about making the costumes and Jason said, "red sweatsuits!"  I figured I'd find sweats for the kids with no problem and struggle finding ours.  Wrong!  I found adult ones right away and the kids ended up with red, cotton shirts and fleece pants, ha!  The logos are made of fleece and I stitched them on, piece by piece, by hand.  Jason made the masks out of black duct tape.  It was a joint effort!

The Saturday before Halloween the Lion's Club in a neighboring town had a family night.  There were crafts and hayrides.  We met a couple of friends there and had a great time!

D, Joe and L

On Halloween day, Amelia's school had a Halloween parade and then the kindergartners had a short program for the parents.  We asked Amelia if she wanted a separate costume for school since being an Incredible alone isn't very much fun and she jumped at the chance to be, what else, a cat.  

It was the cutest little parade and the songs they sang for us afterwards...priceless.  

Amelia and her best friend, J.  These two go all the way back to 4K!

We found out this year that our kids just aren't big into trick-or-treating.  They were excited at the first few houses but then wanted to be done.  We narrowed it down to it being dark so next year we are going to make sure they each have their own flashlights.  For now, I don't mind the lack of candy in the house ;)

We're already brainstorming what we can be next year!  I forgot how much fun it was to dress up!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Family Fun

Well, we're attempting to sleep train Jackson...again.  He did ok in his crib for about 2 months and then towards the end of the summer he was back in bed with us.  He is a snuggler and a cuddler and does not like to be alone...ever!  He is definitely the most difficult of our three kids in more ways than just sleeping habits!  

So, here I am.  Sleep training.  Again.  I have to be up for work at 2:50 a.m. but here I sit.  Ready to go in there, rub his back, tell him I love him and it's time for sleep and walk out without caving and picking him up to comfort him every twenty minutes.  What better way to pass the time than dinking around on the computer?!

Last Saturday we went North to Jason's grandpa's cabin (about an hour from us) and spent the day!  When we first got up there Jason helped Grandpa pull the raft and paddle boat out of the water for the winter.  Joe had a blast watching them with "bun-ock-wers."

After the work was done we all went on a pontoon ride around the lake before that was readied to be removed from the water for winter!

Helping Great-Grandpa drive

Beautiful fall colors starting to appear :)

This young loon let us get so close!

When we got back we fixed lunch and then Jason, myself and the kids headed into the woods to put up a ladder stand for deer hunting.  We must have been a sight carrying that thing into the woods with three young kids in tow (especially when Joe thought maybe the ladder, horizontal at the time, was a set of monkey bars...) but we made it and they did awesome!  Amelia even helped out by carrying ratchet straps the entire way!  

While we were working at setting the stand up Amelia set off catching frogs/toads and examining them.  They were everywhere!

Joe kept obsessing over when the "treehouse" was going to be done so once it was all ready to go he went up with his daddy.

Jackson was happy as can be on mama's back!

After finishing up in the woods, Jason and I got a little target practice in.

In the clearing where our target was there was a little visitor:

NO zoom used.  He let us that close!  Well, the adults at least since we kept the kids at a distance!  Amelia named him Chuck!

It was a long, full and fun day!  Jackson fell asleep before we even got out of the driveway (literally) and Joe didn't make it off their street - tired boys!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why the Blogging Break?

Wow!  It's been months since I last logged on here...woops!  Why?  Honestly, I am not entirely sure.  Life happened and it kept me busy.  

This blog originally started out as a way for us to keep our families up to date with our lives and, more importantly, Amelia as she grew when we lived in Milwaukee.  It's been over four years since we moved back home and I have struggled with what to do with this space.  I've gone through spurts of posting often and then quiet times.  This summer was the longest inactive period to date.

The reasons we had for starting this blog no longer really matter.  We are within a half hour of all immediate family members along with many extended family members on Jason's side.  We see family as often as time permits.  In particular we see my family weekly between Thursday night dinners after speech and them making almost weekly trips to our apartment!  So why do we need a blog to keep family up to date?  We don't.  

With that being said, I don't want to end this space.  I am going to try and post again, as often as my crazy life allows me to!  I have this feeling that it may be less of a "here's what we did today" type blog and, hopefully, more of a journal for me.  Journaling is therapeutic (so they say) and I think having an outlet to express things on my mind will be beneficial to myself and my family.

Things are changing around here.  We now have a kindergartner (eek!) and Jason and I have recently been able to take (a lot) of time for ourselves which I think we are finding is important.  At the end of last month we went on a trip to San Francisco.  The best part?  Nearly all expenses paid!  I won a prize in a sweepstakes through our bank.  I have a Milwaukee Brewers checking account and each time I used my card from March-June was an entry into this sweepstakes.  Lo and behold - winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I won us a trip to San Francisco.  Airfare, hotel, tickets to two Brewer/Giants games and some spending money*.  Wow!

*We got the rest of our spending money from a stash of cash we had from garage sale profits, online sales and birthday money!!!

Just last night we got away again with a trip to the theatre to see The Book of Mormon!!!

Talk about a good time - my cheeks hurt from laughter by the end!

So, the quiet on here has been good.  Lots of family time.  However, I'm hoping this post will be a new start to this little blog that once was such an important piece of our lives.  Stay tuned!

If you have Instagram, look me up!  @shelleyfro 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Feed My Starving Children

This past Saturday morning Jason, Amelia and I volunteered through an organization called Feed My Starving Children.  Every month Target is involved in different volunteering events and this is the first one that we have participated in!  

Our task was packing and boxing up MannaPack Rice bags.  I rotated through several stations, with Amelia, trying to get her into the "right" job.  Turns out the noise level was bothering her but she stuck it out!  She took a break in the lobby briefly but she came back in and helped finish up the job!

Counting rice bags to be boxed up!

Another box ready to go :)

In a little over an hour we packaged up enough food to feed 94 children for an entire year!  This is definately something we would do again and we will remember Amelia's "ear covers" so she can be more comfortable!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fun Winter Weekend

Well, somehow I missed all of February on here!  Oops!  We have been sick pretty much since the end of January :(  

Joe eventually got over Fifth's Disease but was never 100%, then he got an incredible sinus infection where crud was coming out his eyes (yuck), Amelia had pink eye in both eyes for her birthday, Jackson had broncho-pneumonia and now I am fighting a raging ear infection in which I have found no relief yet.  Hopefully this is it for us and sickness for awhile!

Before my ear infection hit we took advantage of the wonderful weather this past weekend and got outside!  Saturday, I took Amelia to Willow River State Park to try out her new skis.  

2026 Olympic hopeful!

She made it about a quarter-mile and then quit out of frustration of slipping/sliding/falling.  Poor girl, she just wanted to keep up with the others on the trail and be as fast as the people she watched on the Olympics, ha!  She's excited to give it another shot and keep practicing!  After skiing she wanted to hike to the waterfall - so we did!  

It's thawing!

Sunday morning Amelia, my mom, sister and I went snowshoeing at Afton State Park.

We went a mile and a half!  I wish we had tried this sooner in the winter - it was a lot of fun!

You'll notice the boys are missing from all these activities/pictures...  Jackson went along with Amelia and I (in a carrier) skiing/hiking and during snowshoeing my dad watched both boys!  

Amelia begged to take Jackson out in the infant sled at my parent's house despite the snow nearly as deep as she is tall!  She pulled him back and forth on the path they use to fill their bird feeders!

As for dad, he has been skiing in Aspen since Friday!

We are picking him up tonight and the kids (Amelia in particular) are excited to see him!

As much as I love winter, I am ready for spring this year!  Between all the sickness that has plagued our home the past month and a half and the sub-zero temperatures that have kept us cooped up inside  - I'm over it!  Winter is no fun when you can't get out and enjoy it! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Long Weekend

I had last Friday off and after Amelia's O/T we met some friends at Lookout Ridge!


We played for about three hours again!  The kids have so much fun and burn off so much energy there - it's great!

Saturday, Amelia went to a cat show with my mom and sister in the cities.  Jason, the boys and I went shopping for a few groceries/ingredients for soup and chili.  After that little excursion we stayed in the entire weekend - it's too cold to want to leave the house!  We pretty much watched movies all weekend :)

Sunday night movie (Ice Age) in a tent!

A little Jackson for good measure :)

We had a scheduled day off school yesterday and today was cancelled because of the cold weather so Amelia is also enjoying a long weekend!

Temperature on my way into work this morning!

Joe seems to be suffering from fifths disease aka "slapped cheek syndrome."  

It just kind of showed up yesterday.  He is a bit congested but no fever or other symptoms.  My googling only turned up fifths disease so we are just watching him for now since it is viral and requires no medical treatment.  We are going in Friday for Jackson's well-baby visit and I plan to ask her about it, especially if it hasn't cleared up by then!

Well, I have a crying Jackson and a messy room to help the big kids clean up!  Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not Allowed for Boys...

Amelia is very adamant that the top bunk is "not allowed for boys."

The stars must have aligned just right last night because this happened...

She invited him up!

And they had fun!  

It was awesome and just what this mommy needed!

Minimizing and Simplifying

We have been hard at work the past six months or so clearing out unused/outgrown items from our apartment!  It has been a lot of work, and we still have a ways to go, but the results have been great so far!

I suffer from anxiety and, for me, clutter is a huge trigger.  There is nothing worse than feeling claustrophobic in your own residence!  Since having kids the amount of stuff that we have has grown exponentially.  The clothes, the toys, the gear etc.  So much stuff!  

Since last fall I have been putting in some extra effort to de-clutter unused/outgrown items.  Each and every diaper/wipe box that enters our home leaves full of donation items or items to store at my mom's house for a multi-family garage sale in the spring.  You'd be surprised how quickly a diaper box can fill up!

Late last November I decided to join a Facebook garage sale group to make a little money off of items that would otherwise be donated.  To date, we have made $321 selling clothing, toys and household items!  It takes a little effort and time but so far it's been worth it! 

I struggled with whether or not to involve the kids, specifically Amelia, in our de-cluttering.  In the end I decided it was best to include her and we began slowly.  I asked her if there were any toys in her room that she didn't play with anymore.  She found a couple and I asked her if we could pass them on to someone else.  She declined and I let it be.  Over time she saw me filling up diaper boxes and eventually came to me one day and said, "Mom, I have some toys I don't use anymore that I want to pass on.  Can you help me?"  Success.

Why are we doing all this?  To create a "manageable mess" as Rachel put it!  

In the not so distant past there were times when our kids made messes that were so insane and overwhelming that we would be left wondering where they even found all that stuff to take out.  We'd get frustrated at them and it created such a negative environment for us all.  Something had to change!

How are we doing this?  I'm trying my best to follow the "one in, one out" rule, especially with toys!  I am also trying very hard to be intentional in my purchases.  I work at Target and it is easy to get caught up in the "deals" that we run into as we re-do aisle after aisle of the store.  That's my job, clearing out the old to make way for the new.  I see a lot of "deals" every day!  I'm learning to just say NO!

As far as deciding what stays and what goes - I just try to look at an item objectively.  Is it being used?  Is it something we love?  Will we use it in the future?  If the answers are "no" then it's time to pass that item on to someone who can get use out of it.  It's not doing anyone any good sitting in our closet!  I'm not against saving things but everything does not need to be saved!  

Now for a visual, this mess...

...is a manageable mess!  Yes, everything is out but it all goes in either the purple bin or the closet!  By simplifying their toys we were also able to simplify the play-with-every-day toys' storage which makes picking up much easier for them!  They are learning that there is a place for everything and when we pick up everything goes in it's place!

Bottom line:  Less stuff = less mess = less stress!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Really, 2014?

A week and a half in and I already need a do-over on this new year.  It's just been a rough first full week of 2014.  

It all started with comments made to me (by leadership) regarding my pumping at work.  Apparently there were some individuals who were unaware of the federal laws in place that protect nursing mothers when they return to work...  All is well, now, but it made for a really long week full of stress and anxiety.  

I found a great website, here, that really broke down what the law means. 

This week was also the week of no afternoon naps for Jackson.  It just never happened.  Amelia and Joey are so cooped up right now that they are like wild animals.  They run all over, they scream/shriek, they fight and then, occasionally, they get along like best friends.  In the midst of all the chaos that is our house right now poor little man just can't stay asleep.  As a result - he cries.  Babywearing has helped a ton but there are also times when I just can't have him strapped to me like, for instance, when giving bath to the older two.  Just not a great idea I'm thinking. 

Add in -30* actual temperatures, -50* wind chills, no laundry getting done (I usually do a load as soon as a basket  can be filled) and so much more - yeah, this week has got me down. 

I have lost my temper a lot this week.  I don't like it.  The kids don't like it.  It's making me a grump.

So here's to a fresh start...again.  

I have three little ones who don't need such a crabby mommy :)

Happy New Year...again!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Arctic Vortex

Well, it's arrived - the "arctic vortex."  With temperatures this week getting as low as -30* and wind chills of -50/60* expected we decided that +16* yesterday was acceptable to get out and play in! 

Climbing up to the football field!

Jackson came out too - he handled the cold like a true Wisconsinite!

He eventually just fell asleep all toasty in his snowsuit :)

Amelia being a penguin

Eventually Joey got cold and tired so we headed in for a late lunch and naps for the boys.  It felt good to get outside one last time before we are stuck in the house for the week!