Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A few weeks ago I got to take Madelyn to Cinderella at Children's Theater in Minneapolis.  It is long show (2 hours), and even with an intermission I was a little worried that she was not going to be able to handle the length or pay attention through the whole thing.  I am really happy to say that I was wrong - she was great.  She really liked the story and the music, and especially Cinderella's beautiful dress.  This production is their Christmas show, so there are some interludes with Victorian carolers and she did a get a little confused during those parts, asking where Cinderella and the sisters went.

This production of Cinderella is a reprise of the one they did in 2009, mainly starring their company actors with men playing the parts of the stepsisters.  It is pretty over the top, and the corny jokes keep coming through the whole thing.  It is mix of serious with Cinderella and all of the supporting characters, and ridiculous with the stepmother and stepsisters.  It's not my favorite production of Cinderella (I am pretty partial to the Roger's and Hammerstein version) but it definitely engaged the target audience of children and Madelyn really enjoyed herself.  I am happy that theater is an experience I can start sharing with Madelyn and I look forward to taking her to our next production this year "The Very Hungry Caterpiller and Other Eric Carle Stories".

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving and the National Dog Show

This year we stayed in town for Thanksgiving and went over to my aunt and uncle's house for the afternoon on Thanksgiving.  It was really nice to not spend 5+ hours in the car with the kids, and I am pretty sure that they appreciated it too.

Thanksgiving morning we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then left the TV on when the National Dog Show started.  Evan was the most excited I have ever seen him about something on TV- he loved the dogs!  I got a video of him watching the dog show and saying "Aubrey..."  although we have tried to convince him that all dogs are not Aubrey, that doesn't really seem to have sunk in at this point.

It was a really nice and relaxing day, and we are really thankful for the opportunity to spend time with family and each other for a long weekend.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Costume Cuteness

Halloween has come and gone, but we didn't get many pictures of the kids in their costumes on Halloween this year because Madelyn was sick with a pretty high fever and taking pictures got pushed down pretty low on the priority list.  However, on the Saturday after Halloween I dressed the kids up and brought them into my work at Madelyn's request since she missed out on her Halloween activities.

This year we tried to work with what we had for costumes.  Madelyn had an adorable dress from when she was a flower girl in the spring that seemed ideal for a fairy princess costume, and Evan had the bear suit that Madelyn had worn at his age to keep warm in the winter.  With a little accessorizing they made a cute fairy princess and teddy bear.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

13 Months Old and Walking!

About little over a week ago Evan turned 13 months old and he thought it would be a good idea to mark the occasion by taking his first steps.  I did get a video of his second and third attempts at taking a few steps, the first ones I was not prepared for!  When I shared the video with Justin he said he thought Evan looked a little like a zombie.  I'll give him the stiff legs and the arms held straight out in front of him, but the giggles seem to belie any real zombie resemblance.

It was evening in Minnesota in November, which meant it was a little dark.  I tried to lighten the video a little, but it is probably not going to win any film awards :)

In the last week and a half Evan has grown a little more confident with walking, but still generally chooses to get around by cruising or crawling.  It is fun to watch him develop new skills.  Who knows what will be next!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Happy First Birthday Evan!

Today our baby boy turned one.  To celebrate we spent the afternoon at Sever's corn maze in Shakopee, MN.  We all enjoyed the day! 

It has been amazing to watch Evan grow and change and we are excited to see what the next year brings.  Happy First Birthday Baby Boy!

Ready for the day's adventures
hanging out with Aunt Jackie

Madelyn was showing Evan how to work the tractor


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Madelyn Updates

This fall has brought a lot of changes for Madelyn's schedule.  She started preschool the first week of September and the next week she started Cubbies.

First day of Preschool!
So far, Madelyn has really been enjoying preschool.  She goes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons.  It is only two blocks from our house and so far the weather has been pretty nice, so she is usually riding her scooter to and from school.  She loves art, playing on the playground, and the interactions with other kids.  She isn't always descriptive of what she did at school, but she looks forward to it and is always really excited about school when we talk to her.

Scooter :)

Madelyn has been a little less excited about Cubbies, but I think there are a couple of reasons for that.  Since she has preschool in the afternoon, it makes for a long day on Wednesdays, and it is also pretty late in the day for her - evening is still her cranky time of day.  Also, the 4 year olds have already earned their vests and there is some jealousy among the 3 year olds who don't have theirs yet :)  Hopefully when she gets her vest she will be a little more excited. She likes the stories and does pretty well with the memory verses.

Family photo shoot in July - it is clear who the star is ;)

All in all, that is a lot more structure this fall for Madelyn than she has ever had before.  I think as she gets used to it she will like her new schedule, but so far it has only been a couple of weeks and we are still in the adjustment period.

Paul Bunyan Land - from our family vacation

Madelyn really enjoyed the rides - no lines made a big difference :)

 Madelyn loves to be outside, art, packing things into any container she can find, and playing with her brother.  She loves to tell him what he should be doing; that is working ok for now - we'll see how that goes as Evan gets older.  Oh, the adventures that are yet to come!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Evan Updates

The summer has come and gone and Evan has gotten so much bigger!  He will be one on Saturday and it seems like time has just flown by.

In July we did a family photo shoot with the Vogel side of the family.  This picture captures Evan pretty well!
Evan is now crawling and cruising around the house.  It is getting difficult to keep track of him since he is moving with some impressive speed.  He is also working on climbing which was not on my list of skills I was hoping for him to accomplish early.  However, he is pleased with his mobility and his ability to make progress in going directions that he is interested in going.  This video is from shortly after Evan started crawling - he is quite a bit more speedy now :)

We got his first haircut about a month ago since his hair was getting ridiculously long, but it was still hard to see him go from the baby look to a more "little boy" look.  However, now Madelyn no longer suggests we help keep Evan's hair out of his eyes with barrettes or ponytails.
What is going on here?

Look at how long his hair was!

You know, this is kind of fun :)

Big Boy Haircut!

Evan also spends most of his awake time babbling and saying the few words that he can.  His repertoire includes "mama," "dada," "poppop,"something along the lines of "papa" for Grandpa, and "es" for yes, and his current favorite words of "uh-oh" which frequently follows the throwing of his pacifier and is accompanied by a huge grin, and "all done" or "ah-dah."  We are pretty sure that he has determined that he is not going to let his sister speak for him, so he is working on his vocabulary.

He really loves his sister and likes to play with her.  He also now follows her around the house if she leaves the room that they are playing in together.  Most of the time they play pretty well together, but Evan has definitely not mastered the art of sharing and Madelyn still has some room for improvement in that area as well.
pre-haircut :)

hard to read the 11 month old sign - Evan wanted to hold it
We took a couple of trips in August.  First Evan flew to Michigan with me and my sister to go to my cousin Sarah's wedding, and then right after that we went up to Breezy Point, MN with Mommom and Grandpa and Grandma for a week of family vacation time.  We spent some time at the resort and also went to Paul Bunyan Land as well as Itasca State Park.

At Breezy Point Resort
Hanging out with Aunt Becci at the Flint, MI airport

Hiking to the fire tower

Headwaters of the Mississippi

Overall it was a pretty busy summer (which is somewhat responsible for my lack of blogging) and Evan is changing from a baby to a toddler before our eyes!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

9 Months Old!

On Friday, Evan was 9 months old.  He is very smiley and interactive - he gets excited any time someone is paying attention to him.  Because he wants to be on the move, unless he is sleeping he is always moving: arms, legs, hands...something.  He is getting better about not flinging himself backward all the time, but is still in danger of it at times.   Crawling has not yet happened, and he doesn't seem very interested in exploring that mode of movement.  Instead, he is working on pulling himself up and has had limited success with help to do it, and he focuses on trying to figure out how to move standing up.

Evan is very enthusiastic about food.  Frequently, the only time of day when he starts to be upset is during mealtimes when he isn't getting the food that everyone else is eating.  He likes puffs, he likes rice rusks, but really he wants what everyone else is eating.  He has finally met a food that he doesn't like - potatoes.  Although he likes french fries (yes, we gave him some) when I gave him cooked unflavored potatoes he did not think that was really something he wanted to eat.  He is getting better at mushing up table foods in his mouth, so we are increasingly letting him sample some of what we are eating.  On the flip side of that, he is being increasing difficult about taking bottles and it is frequently a battle to get him to take more than 4 oz at a time.  He does the best in a quiet room when he is eating laying down and not being held, but that is not always possible or practical.

Evan finally has had a bath time in the big tub, and he has also had a bath with his sister.  Although we generally still give him a bath in the baby tub.  He really enjoys bath time and is very good at making big splashes.

This month Evan also got his third tooth, the top front left.  He really likes to bite things, including anything anyone gets near his mouth, so we are all remembering to keep fingers and other appendages away from his mouth.

Sleep has finally taken a turn for the better.  Evan and Madelyn are now generally sleeping in the same room and they both seem to like sleeping in the same room better.   Evan goes to sleep more quietly than he did when he was sleeping in our room and Madelyn complains less often of being lonely.  He is usually also eating only once a night now, which is definitely an improvement.

All in all it has been an exciting month and we are all glad it is summer, even if it brings the necessity of sunscreen and the nuisance of mosquitoes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

There and Back Again (Part 2): Homeward Bound

Our family has mostly recovered from the trip to New York.  In fact, Madelyn has already been talking about doing it again, although she has told us that maybe we should take a plane next time.  "Driving takes a long time."

After probably the worst night ever in Chicago on the way there it was a relief to make it to New York and the kids actually settled in pretty well there.  It helps that Mommom and Poppop are there...some of their favorite people.  When we arrived in New York Madelyn started out telling Poppop that they did not need to have a pillow fight, but 10 minutes after we got there she said something to the effect of "well, Poppop, if you really wanted to have a pillow fight we could probably do that..."  It was really funny (although maybe you had to be there).

We spent Tuesday out at the farmhouse with Justin's extended family.  I think having the kids around was a good thing, and although Justin's grandmother was having a hard time it seemed like she was glad to see them.  Madelyn loved running around outside and playing with Justin's cousins and Evan did well with being social.  Later in the afternoon Justin took Evan back to be with Mommom so he could get a nap and some quiet which was good for him.

Wednesday was the viewing and the funeral which was a tough day for everyone.  Madelyn had a lot of questions about her Great Grandpa.  At first she asked why he was sleeping in a crib at the front of the church, but then had a lot of questions about why he died.  She also wanted to know how he got to heaven and when she would get to see him and play with him again.  She told us that she didn't want him to have died, and asked how he got to heaven.  She definitely had some struggles with death and some big questions that we found difficult to answer and also found that our answers did not seem to be able to satisfy her questions.

Thursday we had the burial and said goodbye to most of the family who packed up and began heading home, except for one of Justin's aunts who was staying to help pack things up before heading back to Ohio with Justin's Grandma.

Friday we began the long drive back home.  This time Madelyn knew what she was in for and told us right away that she did not want to drive.  She let us know that Chicago was a long ways away.  We did pack up the kids and get in the car anyway :)  It ended up being our longest day of driving for a couple of reasons.  1) I think Madelyn figured out that if she told us she had to go potty we would stop the car.  However, she did go every time we did stop and she didn't have a single accident any day of driving, so maybe she really did have to go every hour and a half or so.  2) We noticed that as we got up to cruising speeds on the highway that the car was a little shaky and finally, about a half an hour outside of Toledo we stopped and took a look at the tires and the rear passenger side was flat.  When we tried to put air in it we could hear the air coming back out and could see that the rim was bent.  Although there seemed to be enough air in the tire at the moment to keep driving we figured we better stop and get the tire checked out.  There was a place right off the next exit that we stopped at (the had a card at the travel plaza) and they looked at the car right away, took a sledgehammer to rim and pounded it out, checked again for leaks and told us we were probably good for a while.  They only charged us $20...and it was a pretty fast stop for needing to have a car looked at, so it was a good experience.  Then we continued on our way.  However, it had gotten late enough in the day that we decided we needed to stop for dinner before getting to Chicago...just adding more time.  In all that day it took us 10.5 was long.

Friday night actually went smoothly in Chicago.  Whew...

Saturday we got up early so that we could try to make it back to Minneapolis for a grad party.  We got on the road.  The kids were pretty unhappy about the car by this day and it was a rough day in the car with them.  Madelyn finally fell asleep when we hit the state of Minnesota...bummer for us.  Justin actually stayed in the car with her when we got to the grad party so she could get a little more sleep.

All in all we survived it and found out that it could be done.  4 days of travel to 3 days in New York isn't a great ratio, and we probably wouldn't choose to drive it again if there was a reasonable alternative, but it is nice to know we can do it if we need to.  And, maybe when the kids are a little older the drive wouldn't be quite as tough.  We are so glad that we were able to all go as a family and spend the time together.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Evan's 8 Month Updates

While we were in New York, Evan turned 8 months old!  It hardly seems possible that he is already 8 months, but the calendar does not lie :)

Evan is sitting up much more reliably on his own now, although he is still very prone to throw himself backwards or sideways without any warning, so for now he still needs someone close by and something soft surrounding him.  He has also started scooting forward (just a little) while sitting in order to get to things that he wants.  He really likes anything that crinkles, like paper or toys with the crinkly plastic in them.  Sometimes when we give him something that just rattles but doesn't crinkle he looks at us as if he were saying "What is this? I want crinkles!"

He has continued to be a very social baby, although he prefers people in small groups and quieter settings.  He can get overwhelmed when there are a lot of people or it is very noisy.  He also continues to babble almost continuously when he is awake, although now he seems to be trying to form words.  He watches our mouths closely when we say things and sometimes tries to mimic the sounds that we make.  He did say his first word while we were visiting Mommom and Poppop in New York.  He clearly said "Poppop" and was delighted with the reaction that he got every time he said it.

We have now tried with some success to have Evan and Madelyn sleeping in the same room at night.  Evan is waking up less frequently and now going back to sleep once he eats.  He is also putting himself to sleep more easily and seems to enjoy being in the room with his sister while he is trying to go to sleep.  Sometimes Madelyn talks to him after we put them to bed and this seems to have the desired effect of helping him go to sleep instead of keeping him awake.  Time will tell if this has just been a few random good nights, or if the kids are actually heading in the direction of sharing a room.

It has crazy to see how fast Evan is changing and I am sure the next month will bring more changes as well.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

There and Back Again (Part 1)

Justin's grandpa passed away on Friday, May 31 and after a little thinking and planning we packed up the kids and the car and began the long drive to western New York on Sunday.  We haven't done the drive with the kids before, but we anticipated that it would be a little tough on them and us.  The important thing was for us to get back and be with Justin's family and driving seemed to be the best option.  Fortunately for us (although potentially not for them) Justin's brother and his wife live in Chicago and we decided to crash there for a night to break up the drive.   It meant two days of 8+ hour drives, but we didn't think that 15-16 hours was really doable in one shot with the kids.

The drive to New York was filled with memorable moments.  Madelyn played a lot with the iPad, her dolls, and listened to music. Along the way to Bemus she was singing along with Daddy and blowing him kisses.  It was a pretty sweet moment :)

Saturday night before we left Evan came down with a pretty nasty cold and basically didn't sleep from about 1-5 am, so Justin and I were both pretty tired and thinking that Evan might not travel very well.

Sunday night at Aaron and Lauren's was also pretty memorable.  After finally getting Evan to sleep around 10pm he started screaming hysterically around 11.  Justin decided to take him out to the car so that he wouldn't wake everyone up and drove around with him until about 12:30am.  We finally thought we were going to get some sleep but then at 1 am Madelyn starting crying and calling for me.  When I went to see what was up she had thrown up all over herself and the bed we had made up for her.  Justin and I scrambled to take care of her and thought we got her resettled, only to start a 4 hour long battle with her throwing up which ended with her sleeping in the bed with us because it was the only place left for her to sleep.  Evan finally passed out at 3 am for a stretch and Madelyn conked out at around 5 am.  Evan was pretty much up for the day by 6:45, although after I fed him he did doze until about 7:30.  Madelyn slept until 9 and seemed no worse for the wear.  We did manage to get all packed up and back into the car to continue the trek east.

The kids were both troopers about getting back into the car.  For Evan sitting more upright in his car seat seemed to help with the cold, although his carseat over 2 days of travel with with a cold became  progressively more disgusting.

We did eventually make it to Bemus Point late Monday evening.  After a quick stop by the Olive Garden where Justin's grandma was having a late dinner with two of Justin's aunts, we headed to Justin's mom's house where we were happy to finally crash with the kids.  The kids were really happy to be out of the car and really happy to see Mommom and Poppop.  And, that night of sleep did go better for all of us.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Princess Party!

When I asked Madelyn what kind of party she wanted for her third birthday she did not hesitate at all - she wanted a princess party.  The upside - it is a very popular birthday party theme.  The downside - she wanted to have both girls and boys and a princess party isn't completely gender neutral...what are you going to do :)

We had 5 of Madelyn's friends (and their escorts!) for the party, along with both sets of Madelyn's grandparents.  It was so special for her to have Grandpa, Grandma, Mommom, and Poppop all here to celebrate with her.

For the decor I got a few ideas on pinterest, and here is what I ended up doing:

I used silver posterboard to make a castle turret and then positioned our dining room table acting as a gift table in front of it.  I needed to get the dining room table out of the way to make room for a kids table. 

I had crowns for all the adults to wear :)  They were all good sports!
In the dining room I borrowed a kids table from church and then used a foam castle to make a centerpiece along with lots of foam stickers for the kids to decorate it.  I also draped the ceiling of the dining room in 5 different colors of tulle which created a canopy on the ceiling.

The place for each of the kids also had a crown that my mom made for each of them, along with little foam castles we had cut out for them to decorate as well as the one in the center.  There were also necklaces they could wear with their crowns.

On our door coming in, Poppop created a Coat of Arms for Madelyn (I had no idea he was so artistic!).  It included her all important cowboy boots and the tutu she got for her birthday :)
For food we ordered pizza (per the request of the birthday girl) but I also wanted to have fruit and found this great idea for fruit wands on pinterest.  Grandma and Mommom worked very hard the morning of the party to get these looking fabulous!

Instead of a cake, this year I picked up mini cupcakes from the Sweet Retreat (the same place I got Madelyn's teapot cake last year).  There were Choczilla, Vanilla Princess, and Salted Caramel.  They were all really good, but I think the salted caramel won the day with the adults.

Another idea I had gotten from Pinterest was to use little bracelets as the napkin rings and then let the kids take home the bracelets as favors.  I thought they turned out really cute!

I was a little worried about having 6 children hanging out, even though parents would be there as well, but the kids all got along really well and had a good time playing together.  Madelyn had a fantastic time at her party and has told me many times since then that she would like it to be her birthday again :)   Here are a few party pics of the kids enjoying the day.

Madelyn never lacked for assistance in opening gifts
All of the kids took decorating their castles very seriously

Cowboy hats definitely go with tutus!

Update:  I added some pictures my friend Elise (check out her blog) took at the party :)