Thursday, December 24, 2015

Grace's Christmas Program

Grace had a nice program with only third graders from her school. It was fun to see everyone, hear the songs, and see how proud the kids were of their songs. They did a great job and sang some classics and mixed in some fun new songs too! 

 Grace and her friends and teacher after the program.

Away in a Manger

You guys. The sweetest thing happened this holiday season.

Let me tell you. For those who know Annie well, you know she can be pretty shy around some people, new people, or when her core crew isn't by her side. She's been going to Wednesday school at church and Blondie has been sweet enough to stay with her in class, by her side, and make her comfortable. The church Christmas program was coming up and there was NO WAY that Annie was interested in anything about it. She didn't want to go with her class, she didn't want to be at church, she didn't want to sing. At all.

Come weekend of the program, we talked her into at least going into church. Rehearsal was on Saturday and apparently she was a hot mess. Poor Blondie had to deal with Little One melting down about Mommy not being around, not wanting to sing...yada yada. The whole deal. She even pulled out classic excuses she clearly learned from her sister like "I don't feel good. My tummy hurts. I'm tired. I have to potty. My throat hurts - I need a drink." And the best part is - Blondie didn't buy any of it. She smelled her coming from a mile away.

Anyway - to get to the point. Program day came, there were lots of bribes from me there was lots of fit throwing from her. Standard day really. She didn't want to stay with her teacher before the program so Blondie hauled her around...I went and found my place in the audience fully expecting this all to turn into a disaster and she would just come sit with me, which I had accepted in my mind and really, it's not a big deal anyway. It's a church program and she's 3.

Oops - I didn't get a picture of just Grace or Grace and Annie together!

And then...she surprised the hell outta me. She stood up there for the first song and mouthed a whole ton "words" (they weren't even words), but she looked totally into it. Then Grace sang with her age group, beautifully and seamlessly of course, and Annie came back up stage. Then it happened. This. The sweetest video I've ever seen of her:

I mean honestly. I about die every time I see it. And likely just because it was totally unexpected. She actually seemed to love it up there. We were close so she was talking to me and asking me where "Grandma's boy was?" Which meant "Great-grandma, where is Great-grandpa?" Adorable. And seeing Blondie up there with her being such a great sister makes my heart swell. Oh and the little boy next to Grace, how cute is he?! Love when they are interacting.

So that's that. The sweetest thing that happened in December.

ALSO - if you're interested in reading more rambling. Feel free to continue. Did you notice the glitch in the movie? Well, in all of my amazingness, I was running out of space on my camera memory card. So I deleted a few what I thought were blurry videos here and here. Later that night I went to find this video and it was no where. I immediately knew that I had accidentally deleted it. Next day,  there was this guy, the man who saved the year, he's an amazing co-worker who saved my heart. He was able to pull the deleted file from my camera card, recover it, and get out all of the "yucky glitches." Except that one, that's there to stay. But honestly better than nothing, or the black screen I got when attempting to recover.

Phew, that's all friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU and YOUR FAMILY!


What a pic to end on. :) Nose picker and all.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"Grace Found the Magic"

Back in early 2015, okay, think way early like maybe even January 1st, 2015 we were out in Spearfish visiting Cody's family (probably for our Christmas with them) and "Wiggle" Grandma Michele took Grace out for some winter fun and photos. She even armed her with a camera so that she could take pictures herself.

Michele got some really great photos of Grace that day. And Grace took some cool ones too. Before I forgot about these images I wanted to make sure to share!

All of them were taken by Michele, M Richter Photos, she has a great collections of photos on her Facebook page too.

I love lots of things about these photos, but mostly these things:
1. they totally capture grace's personality
2. Michele titled them "Grace Found the Magic" and she totally did, I can see it in her face
3. Grace was so excited to be introduced to photography from Michele while out and about and Grace got to capture some of her own images
4. there is a certain sweetness and innocence preserved here that I just adore

THANKS Michele for sharing these!

Annie's 3rd Birthday

Annie wanted nothing more than to go to a zoo for her birthday. I may have been an awful Momma and was gone for her birthday on a combo work/personal trip to Oregon for her actual birthday. Luckily she was none the wiser and we simply celebrated her birthday a day late. I made Cody double pinky promise not to tell her it was her birthday until I got home!

So, Sioux Falls it was for Annie's birthday. We went to Thunderroad and did Go-Kart riding, bumper boats, and other rides and topped our evening with icecream. 

See Annie? She's practicing being 3 figuring out her hands and fingers!!

The next morning we went to The Great Plains Zoo for the Annie's birthday dream! My friends at the zoo had an awesome surprise waiting for us when we got there - tickets for the carousel, a fun monkey, and tickets to feed the giraffe that afternoon! She was estacic about the monkey. I mean seriously went BANANAS. I had told my friend that all she was asking for for a gift was a monkey that she could buy and take home - she thought this might did, for a little while at least.

showing her monkey to the real monkeys

It was so fun to watch her learn about all of these animals. She's been to zoos a few times before, but this is the first trip she really, really enjoyed herself and could learn more about the animals alongside us. Looks like there will be lots of zoo trips in our future with this little animal lover.

Figures that we could find Poppa teasing the goats. 

Annie wasn't too sure about feeding the goats. She first liked them, then didn't like them, then they weren't so bad. And of course as soon as she REALLY wanted to try feeding them there wasn't a greedy goat who wasn't being stubborn. 

And who doesn't cap their birthday zoo experience with feeding the giraffes?! Wow were we lucky to do this. Annie was pretty excited about it at first...however, as soon as that HUGE (and I mean HUGE!!) tongue came out of it's mouth she was pretty reluctant to want to feed them! But she did think it was hilarious and laughed the entire time.

Two things I love about this photo. 
1. Annie's hand completely behind her back - there was NO way she was feeding it
2. The size of that tongue and how it's curled around! Hilarious!

All in all I think Little One had a GREAT third birthday.

Exploring in the Badlands

It happens too frequently that I'm able to get out and explore this beautiful state for work and I feel sad that my littles aren't able to be there exploring with me. I had been to Badlands National Park a few times with the kiddos over the summer months for work and knew they needed to get out there to explore for themselves. Cody hadn't been there since high school or earlier and was also eager to check out the area again.

One Saturday morning we all piled into the car with freezing cold water in my new favorite Stanley thermos, snacks, tennies for adventuring, and cheery faces. Badlands isn't too far away, so it was only about a 2 hour drive and we were there.

Our first stop? Duh, the giant prairie dog was calling our name. Little did the kiddos know, there was prairie dogs the sizes of cats running around the property. The little shop on site sells peanuts and those prairie dogs are about as tame as cats and will practically come grab the peanut from your hand. So, naturally we had to FaceTime Poppa about the prairie dogs and tell him who needs to go prairie dog hunting when all you need is a bag of peanuts and they'll come right to ya!

Our first adventure was an easy one. We took the marked path just a little ways into the Badlands to show the kids what this place was all about. I loved seeing their faces discovering this land that looks so foreign yet so tangible and ready to be explored.

Soon after, we knew we wanted to get a little "off the beaten path." I had the perfect trail in mind. The kids were up for anything. Cody was too, but he was a bit more cautious wearing his Dad hat. I should have been too, but I was so excited to show them everything and take them to my favorite places. I may have slightly forgotten that my "guests" with me this time was my own precious family, not travel journalists who can fend for themselves and are often outdoor adventure writers.

Yup, we went up that. Grace was a maniac of course and hit the trail and ladder hard. Annie monkeyed onto me and I hauled her up this steep, precarious thing. But we made it!! We were immediately fearful of how we were all going to get down.

The view from above is amazing. AMAZING. As you can see, there isn't much for shade in the Badlands. And, for your dose of South Dakota Tourism tour guide in me, Badlands National Park was named after the Lakota name "mako sica" or "land bad." Can you imagine being out here with very little amenities to help you get to and fro? How about hunting out here, or braving the hot summer days or brutally cold winter nights? Anyway, we caught some shade in a small indent in the land and replenished with water. 

(chewy the rabbit also went on the adventure with us!)

And another water break. Basically a Stanley ad right?!

All in all, they had a great time out there. I was so happy to show them quite possibly my favorite place in the entire state. Annie was so happy to be able to "climb it" (even if it was just a small pile of dirt) and get out and get dirty. Grace was unstoppable and fearless. I love that about her. 

No trip that direction is complete without a stop at the famous Wall Drug. Annie's new favorite thing to do there is go and talk to all of the questionable looking fiberglass characters in the entire building, and trust me, there are a lot. 

I'm so happy this family of mine is up for any crazy adventure I might take them on!

(PS - I'm going to try really hard to catch up on some of my favorite moments I've missed blogging about over the course of the last year or two so that I can catalog moments here. I'll leave them up in all sorts of un order for a few weeks so peeps can see the pics and catalog them back into their proper month and year later!)