Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday July 12th Edition

Maybe I still have a chance at hitting 1/2 the Thursdays in 2012.   Oh well ... there's always next year! :)

1.  I'm thankful for the wonderfully relaxing (for the most part) trip to Colorado our family took last week.
2.  I'm thankful that Adam works so hard at a job that he doesn't always like so much so that I can be a SAHM/part-time para.  I love, love, love being home with my kids during the summer, but I can honestly say I'm very much looking forward to school starting again.
3.  I'm thankful that I have a "real" job that I'm excited to go back to!
4.  I'm thankful that instead of immediately saying "I don't like that!!!" when I told Joel what we were having for supper he instead said "Do I like that?  I just want to try it."  Small victories. 
5.  I'm thankful for the chocolate cookie crumble frappuccino at Starbucks.  Icy, cool, and yummy!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Disney 2012 - Day 3

Saturday, February 4th was our "lazy" day.  
While everyone back home was getting snow dumped on them, 
we spent the morning swimming ...

 relaxing in hammocks on the beach (Adam's favorite part of the vacation, I think) ...

enjoying the view and sunshine ...

and playing in the in-ground sprinklers at Downtown Disney!

We spent the morning bumming around the Caribbean Beach resort, then headed to Downtown Disney for some lunch and shopping (and unexpected water play, which led to more shopping - souvenir t-shirts for the kids because I didn't want them to ride back to the resort in soaking wet clothes).  I love Downtown Disney.  Its one of my favorite parts of our Disney trips, so I was really glad that we got to spend some extra time there on this trip.  We'd already checked out several places on our first night in Orlando, but we went back to hit up 365 days of Christmas and Goofy's Candy Company.

I love all things Christmas, so the Christmas store at Downtown Disney is one of my favorite stops.  The two times we've been there I've gotten each of the kids an ornament for the tree and bought a picture frame ornament with the year on it for my souvenir.  Kind of a fun keepsake/tradition.  We spent a lot of time this trip at "Once Upon a Toy", which is a kids dream.  Alyssa loved the Potato Head station where you can design your own Mr/Mrs. Potato head with every accessory you could imagine.  There was also a design your own lightsaber station, which had Joel been a LITTLE bit older, I'm sure we probably would have come home with our very own lightsaber.

Alyssa and Joel had SO much fun running through the water at Downtown Disney.  They probably would have been happy to have done that all day, but it we had dinner reservations with "Chef Mickey" to get ready for, so back "home" we went!

We continued Joel's birthday celebration with dinner at "Chef Mickey" at the Contemporary Resort.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck all stopped by to visit while we were dining.  Joel got a special souvenir placemat to help his remember his "big day" and we also pre-ordered a special Disney-style birthday cake complete with Mickey shaped sprinkles for our special birthday boy.  (And our server created a special "birthday pirate hat" just for Joel out of a napkin ... they've got pretty creative people all around!)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thankful Thursday - first Thursday of summer vacation edition

Today was a very, very trying day for me full of frustrations and feeling discouraged.  So in the attempt to end my day on a "good" note, I'm going to do a Thankful Thursday 5 before bed if it kills me. :P

1.  Overall, I'm thankful that it is summer vacation.  I'm not going to think about TODAY too closely, but overall its been wonderful to be lazy in the morning, to hang out, to catch up, to play, to read, to listen to music, to watch the kids play with their neighborhood friends, etc. 

2.  I'm thankful for my amazing neighbors.  

3.  I'm thankful for my honorary Olson family.  They mean the world to me.  Our Sarah is undergoing open heart surgery tomorrow to fix her "broken" heart.  She's one of the most huge-hearted people I know ~ can't imagine what she'll be like when her heart is whole!

4.  I'm thankful that we now have digital cable which supplies me with 24/7 music stations for "background noise" during the day.

5.  I'm thankful that even on bad days, I still love my kids to the moon and back ~ from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes.

And now ... to bed I go! :)  (bonus #6 and #7 ... I'm thankful for "The Office" reruns and the TiVo that supplies them before bed).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Disney 2012 - Day 2

Happy 5th Birthday Joel! 
After opening presents at the hotel, we headed off to our first character breakfast of this trip at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Hollywood and Vine "Play 'n Dine" with characters from Disney Junior.  The birthday boy was VERY excited to get to meet Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates!


Of course, no character breakfast is complete without Mickey shaped waffles!  Yum!

As you can see we were one of about 4 families eating breakfast there that morning (hooray for vacationing during the "off" season!).  The breakfast characters (Jake, Special Agent Oso, Handy Manny and June from Little Einsteins) each came to our table at least 3 times.  Which was pretty special.  And pretty awkward by the 3rd time around.  The kids were encouraged to get up and sing and dance to Disney Junior songs with the characters and our special castmember Lindsay.  We suspect that Joel had a crush on  Lindsay ~ she was pretty cute!

Our first stop after breakfast was at Toy Story's Midway Mania ride, which is one of the most popular rides at Hollywood Studios.  We had to stand in line for quite a while, but there was lot to look at while we winded our way into the ride, which made the wait go faster.

Next up was the Muppets 3D show and then we were off to meet Phineas and Ferb!  While we were waiting to talk with the "boys of summer" there would pick kids out of the line to perform to various songs from the TV show and be "filmed".  Alyssa got picked to play tambourine for one of the music videos, which she thought was pretty cool.

After meeting P&F, we headed off to Lightening McQueen's race headquarters to meet the boy of Radiator Springs.

No birthday lunch can be complete without pizza from Toy Story's own Pizza Planet with a souvenir Agent P!

After lunch we headed off to the Magic Kindgom to continue on with Joel's magical birthday.  Alyssa's goal was to visit the Haunted Mansion and ride the Carousel.  Done and Done!

We also rode past favorites such as Aladdin's Magic Carpet, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Mad Tea Party.  Unfortunately, Alyssa was still fighting a virus, so by 7pm she had a fever of 101+ and was ready to go back to the hotel to go to bed.

We did sneak in a performance by the Disney Characters in front of the castle and got to glimpse a few fireworks before the BIG display that we missed.

And we did get to see Main Street all lit up at night. Not a bad way to celebrate 5 years with our VERY special boy!

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Thankful Thursday Week Missed-A-Few-And-Don't-Want-To-Count

1. I'm thankful for my new job. I honestly can say that I love every minute of it, even the "I want to pull my hair out" moments.
2. That said, I am thankful that there are only 20 more days of school left. We have a lot of great things plan for this summer and I can't wait to get started!
3. I'm thankful my kids are still sleeping.
4. I'm thankful that after almost 12 years together I still love, love, love, love, love my Adam.
5. I'm thankful for Mostcato. Perfect way to wrap up a day ...
5.5 I'm thankful that Boomer introduced me to Moscato several years ago, what would I do without it/him.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disney 2012 - Day 1

I WILL finish blogging about this trip, or at least make it to day 2 since my blogging of our last trip ended with day 1. :P

It may be ridiculously early, but Alyssa and Joel are ready to fly!

Our day of flying was long after heading from Omaha to Minneapolis then to Orlando (really, we have to fly 6 - 7 hours straight north before heading waaaay south?!), but all the flying was worth it when we got check into our room in the Martinique Village of the Caribbean Beach resort and saw our view:
After dropping our carry on bags and jackets (so long Nebraska winter clothes, hello flip flops and capris!), we jumped back on the bus for Downtown Disney. I had made reservations at the T-Rex restaurant for our first night.

We were seated near the "ice cave", which was amazing! Honestly, the entire restaurant was amazing. You really felt like you were back in dinosaur times. Although with central air and electricity. :) Every 15 - 20 minutes the lights would dim and there would be a "meteor shower" complete with shooting stars and thunder. All throughout the restaurant there were lifelike (probably not life SIZED) animated dinosaurs and various animals from that era. We were sitting near a Mommy/Daddy Woolley Mammoth and baby that would start moving and making noise at random intervals, it seemed especially frequent if someone went over and scratched the baby between the eyes. One of my favorite parts of the restaurant was the giant squid/octopus that hovered over the bar.

One of the most amazingly fantastic parts of the meal came at the end. In the form of the "chocolate extinction" dessert. I think we may have to plan a trip back, purely for this dessert. It definitely trumps the Goofy Candy Company Cupcake that I previously thought was the most delicious thing I'd ever had. The dessert was perfect for our family ~ 4 servings of unbelievable chocolate cake drizzled with chocolate, caramel, butterfinger-ish pieces and whipped cream served alongside 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream. The kids' favorite part was the "volcano" in the middle ~ a martini shaker with water and dry ice in it, so that smoke spilled out over the plate.

After dinner we stopped by the Lego store to check out the impressive wall-o-legos as well as the impressive lego "statues", like Woody!

We had seen a sign earlier in the day by the main stage at Downtown Disney that there was going to be a dance party that night. I thought Alyssa and Joel might have fun watching people dance, but we were all pleasantly surprised when we found out that it was a dance party FOR the kids. They had one of the Disney choreographers teaching the kids different dances to popular Disney/Disney Junior songs (think High School Musical to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's Hot Dog song). I was floored by how quickly he could teach them the dances, just by breaking it down and teaching it 2 - 4 moves at a times. The dancing was followed by a hula hoop contest, which the Koch kids did NOT participate in, but they had a great time watching!

The current theme at Disney World is "Let the Memories Begin". Amen! :) Stayed tuned for day 2 ... Joel's birthday day!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

For Anna

**disclaimer, I wrote this Friday night and saved it, unpublished. Wasn't sure if I was ready to share it with the blogging world.

Dear Anna,

My wall almost broke today. The wall that I've had up since Monday, February 6th @ 11:31am when I stood next to our gate in the Orlando airport listening to the message that your dad left on my cell phone to call him. As I was listening, my call waiting beeped and I looked down to see that Brandy was calling me. I instantly knew, in that moment, that this was one of THOSE moments. One of those moments that would change my life forever. Never did I dream that the next few words I would hear that you were gone. That might have been the very last thing I ever would have expected to hear. I've kept that wall up so far. Because I don't think I have the strength to cope with the reality if that wall comes down.

While my kids have rest time, Tracy plays music. Its always just a random jumble of Disney songs, lullabies, etc. Today "You Are My Sunshine" came on. Until I was probably 17 or 18, I would immediately think of your Grandpa and my Grandma Nelsen. I remember my dad and grandma singing it to me when I was little. They probably sang it to your mom, too, because I know she sang it to you almost every night of your life. Even when you were in junior high and on a sleepover, you called home to have your mom sing to you. Whether you really "needed" to have her sing it to you so that you could go to sleep or if you were just being a typical pre-teen messing around with your mom, putting her on speakerphone so that your friends could hear, I'll never know. But I know your mom wouldn't care, you were her Sunshine and she would sing to you any time, any where. Because she loved you.

When I heard the familiar words, I reflexively started singing along in my mind. But then, when I realized what I was singing, what the song was, what it reminded me of, I had to stop. To put up my guard. To distract myself. To not think. To avoid thinking the words that would make me believe. I don't want to believe. I can't believe. Not yet. Part of me thinks that maybe I won't ever believe. I'll convince myself that you're too busy to talk, too busy to visit, that you don't care, that you don't need me. The way I've felt for the last few years. Its easier that way. Because there's still the potential of getting MY Anna Beth back. The small chance that you'll come to your senses and realize that you need me. That you want me to be part of your life. That I'll get back the Anna Beth that adored her Aunt Christi, the Anna Beth that Aunt Christi adored back. I lost that little girl a long time ago. But there was still hope. Hope that someday, she would come back around. Someday we would find our way back to each other. I NEED that hope. I'm not ready to give that hope up.

Regardless of the state of my wall, regardless of how you felt about me over the years, regardless of what I did or said, I loved you. And I love you still.

Aunt Christi

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday Week 4

Really, 4 weeks into 2012 already? That went fast!

1. I"m thankful I started Thankful Thursday, it gives me something to blog about at least once a week. I should come up with other theme days!
2. I'm SUPER thankful this week for the employment opportunity that came my way. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, but I'm thankful that at least the ball is rolling ... perhaps the dream will become reality!
3. I'm thankful that it is the eve before our monthly Moms Breakfast AND that this month I will be going solo ... no plus 1 in the form of baby Blake. Love hanging out with my mommy friends from school, eating yummy food and drinking drug-laced coffee that leaves me jittery the rest of the day.
4. I'm thankful that I am NOT coaching Alyssa's cheerleading squad this year after sitting in for Coach Debbie tonight. WOW.
5. I'm thankful that I was invited to the most amazing speaker this past Tuesday. She was one of the most phenomenal speakers I've ever heard and did such a great job presenting her material. The presentation was supposed to be on how to set healthy boundaries for children, but I came away really reflecting on myself as a parent and inspired to change myself for the better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday Week 3

(better a day late than not at all, right?)

Feeling it quite a bit of a funk tonight, so here's hoping this will be therapeutic for me.

1. I'm thankful for my place at my kids' school. After a PTA meeting Tuesday night where I was ambushed by multiple people with encouragement to run for PTA board (NO!), hours spent on the phone coordinating ideas for Teacher Appreciation week and a planning meeting last night where I felt like a VIP (very important parent?), I love my role as a parent volunteer. I love that I fit in with these moms, that my thoughts and ideas are respected (and appreciated) and that people look to me for leadership.
2. I'm thankful that Adam, Joel and I got to have lunch at school with our "wave of the week" Alyssa today. 2.5 ... I'm thankful I didn't spend $ on a school hot dog, the bite I did eat of Alyssa's was VERY rubbery.
3. I'm thankful for my friend Mollie who is my kindred spirit, my soul mate, the other pea in my pod, etc, etc.
4. I'm thankful that my dad is doing FABULOUSLY in his latest round of PT. And I'm just plain thankful for my dad. He is such a huge part of me. I'm very blessed to have the parents that I have.
5. I'm thankful that at my massage today instead of the normal "A 60 minute massage includes changing time, so you only actually get 45 - 50 minutes" mentality, I got a good 60+ minutes of much needed (kneaded?) mommy time. Is that what happens when you go to a professional instead of the massage therapy school?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Good to remember

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr I wanted to share a quote that I read today that really struck a chord with me (hopefully I will "muse" further in an upcoming entry) ...

"Whatever your life's work is, do it well" Martin Luther King, Jr.

So simple, yet so powerful and something I hope I strive for each day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meal Planner

Thanks to my newest obsession, aka Pinterest, meal planning at the Koch house got a lot more organized and colorful this week!

I love it! Now if I could just work on the execution of said meal planning every night.

Baby steps, its still a work in progress. But its a pretty work in progress!!!
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday Week 2

1. I'm thankful that its Thursday! Its the end of my work week ~ hooray!!!!
2. I'm thankful for the note that came home in Alyssa's folder today that read: "I am very sad because you are not her rite now mom. Love, Alyssa". Not that I ever want to her be sad, but its nice to know that she wants me around!
3. Along the same lines, I'm thankful that my mom is one of my best friends. I often feel very sad because she is not here right now, too.
4. I'm thankful that I have great friends that are willing to pick Alyssa up from school when its 10 degrees out so that I didn't have to load up 4 boys in the van after school.
5. I'm thankful that after 11 1/2 years together I still get butterflies in my stomach and feel giggly when I see Adam walk through the door.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Round 'em up!

Today marks a big day for Joel (and for me) ~ kindergarten roundup!

I can so clearly remember going through this with Alyssa two years ago. I felt completely lost and overwhelmed, but I didn't want to show her that because I didn't want her to be nervous. So I put on my brave face and walked in clutching my handful of registration papers, but I'm sure I had that "this is my first time and I have no idea what I'm doing" look on my face. I remember I didn't know a single other person in the room. I remember looking around nervously and wondering which kids would become Alyssa's classmates, which ones would become Alyssa's friends, which ones would be the "anti-friend" and which parents would become my friends and support system as I sent my baby off to the big bad world of elementary school. :) I remember feeling hopeless as I listened to the principal, the secretary, school nurse and school counselor giving out overwhelming amounts of information about the rules and regulations of the school, their specific job and how they would interact with the kids. It was so foreign to me and so much to take in that I felt like all the information just washed over me and moved on to the row of parents behind me.

What a change 2 years can make! This year I will walk in confidently with my ONE piece of paper to register Joel (plus side of having him do preschool at the same school he will do kindergarten at, I've already filled out and signed the bajillions of forms!). I look forward to surveying the other kids and parents to look for how many familiar faces I will find. I feel excited to scope out Joel's potential new best friends and classmates! I'm even looking forward to hearing "the talk" from all the different professionals at the school because I feel like this time I might actually RETAIN the information that they give. And I might even learn something that I should have learned 2 years ago!

Friday, January 06, 2012

My sensitive boy

We took Joel to see "Toy Story 3" as his first movie in the theater. Approximately 15 minutes into the movie he started sobbing uncontrollably. He was so sad that Woody and the other friends weren't together, that Buzz was turning "bad" and that they weren't all together in Andy's room anymore. He wanted to leave immediately and looked at me with tear-filled confused eyes as to why his mommy would put him through this kind of torture. Needless to say, I convinced him to stay because I didn't want him to have a phobia of theaters for the rest of his life. But it was REALLY hard at the end of the movie to convince him that this movie-going business was a good thing when I had tears rolling down my face (seriously, did ANY mom get through Toy Story 3 without crying the first 1/2 dozen times?). I kept telling him in a overly dramatic happy voice "See?! They're all together! And that new little girl is going to love them and play with them and they're all going to live happily ever after!". * insert loud nose blowing and sniffling on my part *

Fast forward to tonight when we were watching "Wizards of Waverly Place: Who Will Be the Family Wizard" on Disney channel. Joel had been talking about this particular episode for weeks. The last couple days every time he saw a WoWP episode or the movie he would get all excited and think that he was finally going to find out out who the family wizard was going to be. Anyway, what an emotional ride the show ended up being for Joel. I think he cried at least 3 times. He was so worried that Justin, Alex and Max were going to mad at each other forever and wanted to know where they were going to live when they sold the Sub Shop. And then the waterworks really started when he was trying to find comfort in the fact that he thought they still had "hand magic" even though they had to give up their wands and then found out that ALL their magic was taken away. Poor kid. And then there is his supportive, comforting mom attempting not to snort with laughter as I looked at his crestfallen face. He's definitely going to need therapy some day.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thankful Thursday

One of my "12 things to look forward to in 2012" talked about gratitude journals, so I'm going to try to do Thankful Thursdays where I post 5 things I'm thankful for. I just realized that if I do this every week this year (and if I'm doing my math right) I'll have over 250 things to be thankful for. That's a little overwhelming!

This week I am thankful for:

1. By far, my most thankful is having Adam home with us and amazingly 99% fine after having a "fairly significant" stroke on Friday at the age of 34.
2. Jimmy John's "Thinny Chips".
3. Vampire Diaries is back on after an 8 week break. I heart Vampires!
4. My kindle that Adam got me for Christmas.
5. 2 adorable kids that make me laugh every single day.

Monday, January 02, 2012

End of break

I'm probably in the minority, but I'm really sad that the kids' (and my) winter break is coming to an end tomorrow. Back to school they go and back come Grant and Will. I've really, really, really enjoyed having just Alyssa and Joel home for 2+ weeks. And although it was partially illness-induced that I didn't have any "bonus" kids for 2 weeks its been really nice not "working" for 2 weeks. I'm sad to see it end. (Although I will welcome back the paycheck! ;) ) I've enjoying *almost* every pjs-till-noon, hanging out, puttering around, cuddling, napping, movie/tv watching, game playing, art project making moment and I don't want it to end!!! Usually I can't wait to send them back to school so that we can get back into our "normal" routine again and back to my attempt at an organized life, but I don't even really feel that way this year. Bah humbug end of winter break!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 - the year of the blog.

I thought about titling this post "2012 - the year of the blog?" with a question mark, but decided on a period instead. This WILL be the year of the blog. The year that I get back to my mama musings, I've missed it! And hopefully there's still a couple people out to be my loyal readers and leave glowing comments! :)

So, starting off, 12 things that I'm looking forward to in 2012 (instead of making resolutions this year, seems a little more "in stone"). In no particular order:

1. Our second family vacation to Disney World for Joel's 5th birthday celebration! We leave a month from tomorrow!!!

2. Celebrating 10 years of marriage with Adam. Granted, we just celebrated 9 years 4 days ago, so we've got a ways to go, but I look forward to having a good, solid 10 years under our belt.

3. Seeing Alyssa's dance recital in June. She started at a new studio this year doing jazz instead of the usually tap and ballet and absolutely loves it. This studio feels more "professional" (without being TLC-reality show scary), so I'm looking forward to seeing her in a REAL recital since all her previous ones have felt like she's just jumping around/stomping her tap shoes.

4. Joel starting Kindergarten. EXTREMELY bittersweet, but I am amazed at the person he has blossomed into just being a part of the Saddlebrook's pre-k program I can't wait to see what they do with his when he's in "real" school!

5. Figuring out what I want to be when my kids "grow up". I feel confident that my time as a daycare provider is coming to and end along with having my own kids at home full time. I have a wide spectrum of possibilities in front of me and I'm looking forward to seeing what path I will be lead down. Right now I think taking up part time residence in Archivers and catching up on all my scrapbooking is in the lead. ;)

6. Keeping up with my blog! I've been reading a lot/hearing a lot about thankfulness or gratitude journals and I love the idea of them. This past Thanksgiving my mother-in-law had us all write down what we were thankful for on a piece of paper then we "locked" it in a box and she plans to have us read it next Thanksgiving. It was really thought provoking to write down all the wonderful blessings I have in my life.

7. Becoming a stronger presence in the kids' elementary school. I've pretty much decided to take over the room parent coordination job next year, which will allow me to interact with more staff and more parents. I'm excited to get even deeper into the Saddlebrook community.

8. Rediscovering my inner bookworm. Adam got me a Kindle for Christmas and I am LOVING it so far! Its strange, but I find when I'm reading books on my Kindle that its much easier for me to put it down, whereas when I'm reading an actual book I tend to get sucked in and stay up too late or ignore what I should be doing in order to hurry up and see how the book ends! Of course, I've only had the Kindle for a week, so this may change.

9. Establishing regular "family time". My goal is to start with one night per month, always the same night. I feel like the kids are getting to the point where we can more easily enjoy a family night together whether it be pizza and a movie or playing board games. Its important to me that Alyssa and Joel grow up with that sense of connection and I think they're reaching a good age to start solidifying it.

10. Becoming a more regular attendee of Stone Bridge Christian Church and getting involved through volunteering with the children's programs. I finally feel like I've found a "church home" after searching for almost 15 years, I'm looking forward to getting more established and settled and making it my "own".

11. Becoming healthier. This isn't your standard "I'm going to lose _____ lbs this year" or "I will weigh _____ pounds by the end of the year" or "I will wear a size _____" statement. Yes, I would like to lose weight, but I don't know if that will/can happen. I do know that I can be better able eating healthier (and providing healthier meals/choices for my family) and that I can be more consistent with taking my supplements, vitamins, etc. And I am going to encourage our family to get out and be more active together.

12. After losing Adam's cousin, Jana, this past summer and struggling with watching my dad's health deteriorate, I've learned to really appreciate the time that I have with the people I love. Not to say that I don't feel sad and depressed when I think about what "could have been", but I try to remind myself of what I've had that other people don't get the chance to have. And I try to be more aware of how quickly my babies won't want to cuddle with me or won't want me to read book or kiss them goodnight. I try to appreciate the small things each day. And I look forward to the small moments of love, laughter, inspiration and happiness that 2012 holds for me.

And to end this first blog post of 2012: Alyssa's New Year's Resolution: To do a cartwheel.

Note to self: Look into gymnastics camp to help Alyssa achieve her resolution. :)