Wednesday, October 4, 2017

School started after a fun summer

Miles is just about too big for this mini 4-wheeler
Alice on the boat with Captain Grandpa Sam.
Our summer has been filled with fun in the sun and making the most of the warm weather. We have had several mini get-a-ways these last few months. One especially memorable trip was our venture to Nebraska to see the solar eclipse. We had such a fun adventure and great visits with family. We initially planned to watch the eclipse in Kearney but soon found out that a big chunk of the Marshall family was going to be in North Platte at Aunt Beth's place. So we decided to make the trek there.
Testing out our eclipse glasses.
Nana Linda just happened to be in Kearney and we stayed with her for the first two nights. We visited Grandma Irma and had lunch with her. Then the day of the eclipse we made our way to North Platte. All the while hoping that the sky would stay clear and cloud free. We got our wish and had a wonderful time with Grammie Julie, Aunt Carlos, Aunt Beth and a couple of cousins. Although Alice missed a good part of the totality because she was in the bathroom. Have Aaron tell you the story some time. 
Aaron and Miles waiting for the total eclipse.
Jen, Miles, and Aunt Carlos with our stylin eclipse glasses.
Aaron and Jen, sun worshipers
Miles started Kindergarten in August. Now, I've heard lots of moms say they cried when they dropped their kids off at school for the first day. I honestly didn't think that would be me. I am not one to get too emotional over these milestones. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I often want to experience the moment and not lament too much that the kids are "growing up too fast". I love experiencing these things as a mom. So it came as a complete surprise to me when I broke down after I dropped Miles off at school that first day. 
My goofballs on the first day of Kindergarten and Pre-K
 We live about a block from Miles's school, so I walk him to school every morning. We arrived a bit early on the first day, hung up his back pack, put his lunch in his cubby and looked for his desk. There was a lot of chaos on that first day, parents jostling around dropping off kids, and he was pretty clingy. I figured he would be but then I looked down and he was wiping tears from his eyes.
That was it. I was melting. I had a hard time keeping it together and Miles wouldn't let me go. I looked up and the teacher was busy with helping other kids and the teacher's aid was no help. Then I saw the school counselor there. Miles had met him over the summer at a camp he went to so he knew him and he was a familiar face in the classroom. I kind of gave him this look like "help me!". He was great. He came over and took Miles's hand and helped him find his desk. I was so grateful.
Then on the walk home the tears flowed freely and the whole rest of the day I was crying over my computer as I worked. I guess it just goes to show that motherhood is full of emotional moments, even when you don't expect them to be. 
Face painting at the Jimmy block party.
Summer fun at the park, Alice found the mud.
Telling my story about my "free" dog at the ArtSpark opening.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Summer is coming - break out the sunscreen

I love warm weather! I mean LOVE it! My bones seem to thaw when it gets warm and I jump for joy when I can start wearing shorts and tank tops. I was raised in Florida. That means that the heat doesn't phase me. This past weekend I had a picnic lunch at the park with the kids and some friends and the discussion of heat came up. Several ladies said it was the perfect temperature. I don't know exactly what it was, but someone said they wouldn't like it if it got much hotter. I shook my head. Not me, I can take the heat. It's the cold that gets me and I admit I do suffer a bit in the winter time here in North Dakota. 

That is why we soak in as much summer as we can up here. I am instilling a new summer tradition this year. We are going to have picnic lunches every Saturday at the park. I want to switch it up and visit all the parks around town. We do have quite a few of them. I am inviting all of our friends to join us and have the kids run and play while we soak up the outside sunshine.

If you know me you know I am nuts about sunscreen. I lather myself up with it and my kids. I also bug my husband about it even though he rolls his eyes at me. However, he complains that I didn't remind him to apply it when he gets a sunburn. I am that mom! I am the mom who has researched the best sunscreens for kids and buy the more spendy ones that have the ingredients that won't stunt my kids' growth or interfere with their immune system. I also send them to school and daycare with specific instructions for their care givers to use the sunscreen I provide. In parenting we pick our battles and make choices on things to be picky about, sunscreen is my thing.

The Environmental Working Group has some great guidelines on sunscreen, gives them a best vs. worst score and provides links on where to purchase the sunscreens. Most are available on Amazon, but I did find one good scoring sunscreen at Walmart last year.
These are two that we like. Blue Lizard.
It is my impression that Australians have done the best job in creating sunscreens that work and don't make false claims. This stuff leaves a bit of a white film and takes a while to rub in. It does provide good coverage and protection. But always remember to reapply after swimming and after 2 hours. The bottle also changes color in UV light. So that is cool.
Badger is great! This stuff smells great and rubs in well. I favor this one. It does leave you feeling like you have a think layer of lotion on, but I haven't found a sunscreen in this category that doesn't. This stuff can also be found in health food stores. However, we don't have any of those in my town, so as usual I order it from Amazon.

I will talk sunscreen all day. Something I don't put on my kids is the spray sunscreen. First of all I don't trust the coverage. Something about spraying it on just seems wrong. I don't feel like it is a thick enough layer to protect from the sun. Second most contain the chemical sunscreen oxybenzone, that has hormone disrupting properties that can harm children's growth and development. And the way I use sunscreen on my kids, this could be a big problem. Just because the marketing is good like putting Hello Kitty or Elsa and Anna on the bottle doesn't mean it is good for your kids. Here is a link to the EWG's easy printable guide on what to look for and what to avoid in a sunscreen.

So there is my sunscreen lecture. Keep your kids covered and safe. Don't put crazy chemicals on them, use the physical blocking sunscreens like zinc oxide or titanium oxide that sit on the surface. Happy outside play everyone!! And remember to reapply at least every 2 hours.

Kids crafting at the library during Love Your Library Week. 
My new hair for the summer. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The pink house that Dad has

I got an email today from the "What to Expect" parenting advice website. The subject was "Weird Toddler Behavior". Yes, my toddlers exhibit some weird behavior from time to time.

By the way, what is the technical definition of a toddler? The kids are 3 and 5 now. Is Miles no longer a toddler? Is it defined by when they grow out of the T size clothing.
Anyway, sometimes it isn't so much behavior, because weird is what describes most of their behavior. Like when they hide things in weird places then you find them. Miles hoards things in this one drawer in our coffee table. I'm sure he thinks it is his safe place, away from his sister. He hides his special Lego pieces and project that he doesn't want her to touch.

No it is sometime more of the weird things they say. This morning as I was driving the kids to their respective care Alice and I had this conversation:
A: "I want to move to a different house."
Me: "Why do you want to move?"
A: "Because our house is old."
Me: "Honey, our house isn't that old. And old things can still be nice."
Miles: "Yah, I like old things"
Me: "Where would you like to move to Alice?"
A: "To that pink house that our Dad has."

This is weird! Number 1) because Aaron and I live together in the same house; number 2) because she has mentioned this pink house several times. She will point out a pink house while we are driving in town (I have no idea the pink house she is referring to because I never see a pink house when she points it out). When she does point out this house she says, "that is the pink house that Dad has" and that she wants to go there.

Ok, I never know what to say. I have no other assumption to make besides her remembering a past life where her Dad in that life lived in a pink house. Unless, that is if Aaron has another house that I don't know about and he has taken Alice there.

At least they haven't said anything creepy to me like they want to see what my insides look like.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Camping at Storybook Land

Summer is in full swing and we are soaking it up. We went camping with our friends the Ottos. We went to Wylie Park in Aberdeen, South Dakota. It was super fun. We made Smores and cooked over the campfire. We cooked our breakfast in bacon grease and I made tortillas over the fire for the first time. 

Aberdeen has an amazing community pool. We went there but no photos because, well...water. Poor Alice fell asleep on the ride from the campground to the pool and I took her back to the campsite so she could nap. We'll we paid for it when she woke up. She was so upset that she missed the pool. I'll need to make it up to her again some time. 

There was a big storm on Saturday night and sleeping in a tent with strong winds, rain and a ton of lightening is quite frightening. Although the kids didn't seem phased by it. They slept right through it. 

Playing in the puddles
The grown-ups enjoying the campfire
Miles and Coralin with a Munchkin
kids on the train at Storybook Land 
Family going over the rainbow 
Alice on cream slide

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New school for the summer and celebrating 5

Miles has started attending the childcare at St. John's Academy in Jamestown. We had concerns with his old pre-school/child care and decided to move him. He will start the pre-K program at St. John's Academy in the fall. Even though Miles is turning 5 this July we have decided to wait another year before sending him to kindergarten. We have talked to a lot of people and teachers with experience with kids and they have all told us that they have never heard anyone regret waiting a year.
This was Father's day. We spent some time at the park and made brownies for Dad.
Some other exciting news! Miles is turning 5 which means the Jamestown Regional Medical Center is turning 5. For those that don't know, Miles was the last baby born at the old hospital in Jamestown. The day after he was born we were transported via ambulance to the new hospital. So Miles was the first baby resident on the OB floor at JRMC. They even put us on a billboard to advertise the Family Birth Place.
JRMC is using Miles in their advertising for their 5th anniversary
You can read part of our story on the JRMC website
Looking back through this blog, I don't think I ever posted Miles's birth story. I still vividly remember the details of that day and we have told the story many times. I'll write that up in another post.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Our Christmas Letter (illustrated and unabridged)

Warning! Christmas Card Spoilers Ahead!
2015, The year that was!
Hello friends and family! We hope this letter finds you cheerfully enjoying the holiday season.
There never seams to be a dull moment in our house. In fact it was hard to find time to write this letter! The kids are growing as they do. Miles turned 4 this year and Alice is a rambunctious 2 year old. She finally started to grow some hair and had her first hair cut in November.

We love having their birthdays in the summer so we can have our friends over and play outside all day. Plus Grandma and Grandpa Kross don't mind coming up from Florida to visit us that time of year. Miles ate the frosting off of all the leftover cupcakes at Alice's birthday party. Needless to say he was bouncing around on a sugar rush the rest of the day.
Alice and her 2 year old friends.
Puppies at Miles's dog birthday party. Thanks Grandma Kross for making all the masks for the kiddos.
Cheese! Miles and Nora

Our awesome friend Karla!
Miles and Elea
In February, Aaron and Jen went to Mexico with some good friends. We left the kiddos with Grandpa Sam and Nana Linda. We had a great time getting out of the cold in North Dakota and soaked up some sun and salt water. While there we visited an eco-park called Xel-Ha. It was amazing, we saw some cool Mexican wildlife (in and out of the water) and jumped off a big cliff. We have photos to prove it if you don't believe us!

Miles started pre-school in March. We were a little worried about how he would do, we weren't sure if he was ready. Turns out Jen was the one who wasn't ready. He is doing great and comes home singing all sorts of new songs. He also comes home with some weird rumors that the kids start. A few weeks ago when the snow melted he thought Christmas was going to be canceled because there was no snow. He was quite upset about it, but we explained that Christmas would come whether there was snow or not. Funny how a kid thinks when he is growing up with snow every Christmas.

This year seems to be the “year of breakfast.” We have tons of photos of us eating waffles, aebelskivers, and cinnamon rolls. Jen got an aebelskiver pan for Mother's day this year so that is probably why. Come on over for breakfast one Saturday, but you'll have to come early, we are a bunch of early risers in this house.

We've also discovered lot of new books this year. "Don't let the Pigeon drive the Bus!" by Mo Williams is a house favorite. This guy has true kid writing talent. Check out his stuff at the Library, the Elephant and Piggy stories are gems as well.

Jen wanted to make sure we soaked up the summer this year so we had lots of  adventures outside. We went to Storybook Land in Aberdeen, South Dakota with our friends Ruby and Janelle. We went to the Bismarck Zoo and had many trips to “The Farm” to see Grandpa Sam and Nana Linda.
Miles and the Monkeys
End of the rainbow at Storybook land.
Carousel ride
Our camping experiment

Our big summer fun activity was a road trip to Colorado! We stopped at Wall Drug in South Dakota and spent a day in Rapid City to see Mount Rushmore. The highlight however was not the big carved out mountain, it was a mud kitchen we found at the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks outdoor area. The kids played in the mud for an hour making mud cupcakes and mud-milk shakes. Good old dirty fun!
Alice was in a grumpy mood at Wall Drug and she had a big problem with this giant rabbit.
The Family at Mt. Rushmore

We spent time with Grammie Julie in Fort Collins and visited with Uncle Luke, Aunt Brandi, Cousin Carter and the family's newest addition, Cousin Clara. Miles continually tells us he loves baby Clara.
Miles and baby Clara

On that trip Jen and Aaron left the kids with Grammie and had a reunion with some of our grad-school friends in Gunnison. We all started to count the number of years it had been since we had seen each other and decided not to let it be that long again. We are planning another reunion in 5 or fewer years.
Jen and Amy and a landlocked mermaid
Aaron and Theresa
The gang and a Vista!
What kind of flower is that Dude?
The girls and a Vista!
Jen went to a Lamaze childbirth educator seminar and is on her way to becoming a childbirth educator. She will need to take an exam in April and work out some logistics. Her goal is to be teaching by October 2016.

In September Aaron and Jen had a once-in-a-life-time experience and went to Los Angeles to see our friend Steve Listopad receive the Hugh Hefner Free Speech award at the Playboy Mansion! We are so proud of his accomplishments and we were honored to be part of his entourage. While in L.A. we went to Venice Beach with Jen's friend from Girl Scouts Theresa and visited with Aunt Judie and Aunt Jonnie. We also did some typical L.A. things like see a taping of Conan, walk along Hollywood Blvd., party on the Sunset Strip, and eat at the In-n-Out Burger.

No caption necessary, Dude

Sean, Aaron and Steve at the mall on Hollywood Blvd.

Our award winning friend Steve and the people who helped make it happen including our Jamestown Rep. Jessica Haak
Smooches outside the grotto

Giant Conan bobble head waiting for the taping.
In October Gramie Julie came to visit and we had a fun trip to the Natural History Museum in Bismarck.
Grammie Julie and the kiddos
Giant pumpkin at Pappa's Pumpkin Patch
For Halloween, both kids wanted to be Scooby-Doo! Well that was easy for Jen to make both costumes the same. They are both really into Scooby-Doo right now, it is a little insane. But that's ok, because Jen and Aaron like it too. We had a party for all of our kid friends and took about 8 little ones trick-or-treating. It was a blast! Aaron and Jen dressed up and went to an adult party that evening. Jen was a SPARKLER! and Aaron was a Price-Is-Right contestant (since we didn't get to go while we were in L.A.)

SPARKLER! and Aaron
Sadly this year we lost the matriarch of the Pearse family, Aaron's Grandma Mary Lou passed away. She was a wonderful person with a generous heart and we will miss having her in our lives. We also lost Jen's Aunt Kathy Kross who lived in New York City.
Alice and pig tails!
The family at Thanksgiving
Alice snuggling up with Grandpa Sam after Thanksgiving feast. Grandpa has some kind of magic, he can always get Alice to take a nap.
Well the ground is snow covered again and we are excited to be going to Florida in January. We are going to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Kross and go to Jen's friend Vicki's wedding. We are also going to have a family vacation to Disney World! We got a cabin at Fort Wilderness and can't wait for Alice to experience it for the first time.

First big snow of the year!

What a cutie!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and peaceful New Year. May our paths cross soon in 2016!
Jen, Aaron, Miles and Alice