Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beer Tasting 2015

We've been doing an annual beer tasting/Oktoberfest for quite a few years now and I'm sure I've blogged about it before.  I remember when I first met Lindsay she told me that my family had more traditions than anyone else she knew, and this is just one of those traditions.

I can't even remember how many years back my parents and the Ware's were together in Galena and read about a beer tasting.  They were excited to go until they read that it was $35 per person.  Being thrifty they thought, we can do that ourselves for cheaper and so Beer Fest was born.

Over the years the format has changed slightly and the people involved have changed, but there is a core group that keeps it going and we get excited to include others when possible.  This year we made some changes to the voting process and we think we've finally found a process that works well for us.

Here's how it works.  Each participant brings a 6 pack of their "entry" beer. Each beer is given a number and entered into a bracket.  We've gone to a blind tasting to try and take care of beer and owner bias :O)  Beers are covered with paper bags so nobody knows what beer is being tasted or who entered it.  Beers go head to head in a traditional bracket style.  Each participant is given a blue and red poker chips.  The chips are used to vote to eliminate double voting/confusion.

Jamie and I ran the show this year.  We did all the pouring/organizing/vote counting etc.  You know me...I love to organize events and it was fun to have a co-organizer!!

Nobody should be surprised to hear that after tasting 12+ beers things get a little fuzzy.  At one point my Dad was so confident about his vote that he grabbed his blue chip and tossed it into the voting cup.  But....that red solo cup he's holding was actually the "dump cup" for beers that people just really didn't enjoy.

This year's winner was Andy with a beer from Triptych Brewery in Southern Illinois.  Andy and Bart have been involved in beer tasting for two years now.  Last year Bart won the paddle so we scheduled this years tasting for a weekend they could come. It looks like the paddle is headed back to Southern Illinois for another year.  That means us northerners are going to have to step it up next year to get our paddle back!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Painting Pumpkins

These past few weeks have been awesome around our house.  The weather is changing to cooler temperatures with a few warm summer days thrown in for good measure but more than that, Ryan's had a light schedule these past few weeks which means he's home more often in the evenings to help with the girls and the daily routine.

There are many days when he leaves for work at 5am and gets home long after the girls, and even I, have gone to bed.  He works so hard for our family.  So when he's home in the evenings Abby knows it's a special treat.  One afternoon when I knew he was going to be home early I ran out to the store to grab paints and some small pumpkins for them to paint.

Abby was so excited when she walked in the door to see Daddy and we started setting up her painting station.  Often times I find the evening hours stressful with a need to get dinner on the table, get kids in the bath and pj's on and in bed in just the few short hours we have between getting home from daycare and bedtime.  But sometimes I remember to just take a breath, order pizza and enjoy those few short hours each evening I get with my girls. And pumpkin painting day was just one of those days!

Hazel even got in on the action.  She's getting stronger and better at sitting in the Bumbo and she LOVES to be to see what's going on around her.  And of course Abby loves having her little sister around to watch her antics.

Abby's favorite color is blue and she loves says "Mommy, blue and yellow make green" which she must be learning at Kelly's house.  She mixes them all. the. time. when we paint so she's really good at that color wheel portion.  The others, not so much!

I'm so glad I scrapped the usual evening routine this evening to just enjoy being together has a family!  I know that if there is one thing I'll regret as the girls get bigger it isn't going to be spending time together and making memories.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Abby (age 3)

With the addition of Hazel to our family, I've noticed that I'm again meticulously documenting all of the firsts and little things that Hazel starts doing in her first year.  But, more than that, it's also reminded me that my dear little Abby is also growing and changing every day.  While it seems impossible that we'll forgot all these little things that she's doing and saying, I know all too well how fast things change and how quickly we forget.  So - I'm trying to be more mindful of writing down and keeping track of these little moments in our lives.  The blog helps keep me honest and I've got pictures and stories of the big-ish things but it's the little day to day things that slip through the cracks.  So - I'm going to try and write up these little letters to my girls so that I've got all the little things captured.  

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite shirt (seen below): Your Harry's t-shirt which you call your "Greg shirt" because he bought it for you.  It's the first thing you ask to wear EVERY day and you get mad every time I tell you it's dirty.  It's the first thing you pull from your drawer to wear when it's clean.

Favorite stuffed animal: Owie, of course.  But only "Baby Owie".  When you were born I bought 4 of the exact same owls and we swapped them out all the time so that you'd never have just ONE that you loved.  But yet, no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, you've made it known that Baby Owie is the only one that will do.  Not "Mommy Owie, Daddy Owie or Hazel Owie"  Though Hazel Owie will do in a pinch when Baby Owie is "getting a bath" (read: laundry).  He goes with you just about everywhere and I dread the day we leave him somewhere and he's lost.

"Look Mom, my glass slipper...and it fits" - Abby, age 3

You are one of the smartest, kindest kids I've ever met.  You have an infectious laugh.  You are usually pretty tentative at trying new things and are very cautious when it comes to doing anything too adventurous (like jumping, climbing etc) but you LOVE to swing, the higher the better in your opinion.  You love the spinney rides with Daddy.  You're terrified of spiders, except Daddy Long-legs because they are "good guys and eat mosquito".  We talk a lot about Daddy Long-legs because one time one crawled on your arm when we were camping and it's the first time I've seen you have real fear.  The scream you let out was true and honest fear and it broke my heart.

Height and Weight: 35.5 inches (21%) and 26 lbs 2 oz (8%).

You repeat things 8 million times, literally, and when you get really excited you almost start to stutter because your little brain is moving faster than your mouth.  I can literally see you processing your thoughts and trying to spit out your words.

You always ask me "what road are we on" when we're driving and you know the roads that most of your friends live on by name now.  You know you live on Robin Lane and ask me every time we turn into the neighborhood if we're home yet.  On time when I told you you lived on Robin Lane you said "I don't live there, I live on Turkey Lane".  You hate it when cars are following too close behind us but love to go on an "adventure" which is usually just my way of convincing you to do something you don't want to do like going to the store or getting in the car.

You have more opinions than anyone I know are are NOT afraid of making them heard.  You are nearly a vegetarian and fight me on just about any meat.  You'll eat eggs and peanut butter but mostly stick to fruits and veggies.  Though, you DO eat really well for Kelly, the babysitter, and when other kids are around.

Favorite TV shows: Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse, PJ Masks, Miles from Tomorrowland, Sophia the First, Peppa Pig.

You've become obsessed with cutting your fingernails - so much so that I can't cut them any shorter.  And you act as if taking medicine is a treat.  After you get over a cold I have to hide the cough syrup from you because you ask for it all the time.  You even pretend to cough and tell me you need more.

You can correctly count to 13 and are great at your letters.  You like to come into Hazel's room when I'm feeding her and play the letter game where I ask you to find the a letter and you find the letter on her rug and stand on it.  I say "Can you find the M for Mommy" and you and go stand on it.  You're really quite good at it and can do most of the letters by sight now.  When you sign the ABC's  you leave out TUV and YZ mostly because you're too excited to say "now I know my ABC's".

Bears or Packers?:  When Daddy says "Go Bears" you respond "We don't say that Daddy, we say Go Pack, Go".  You love your Packers shirts and they come in a close second to your "Greg shirt" when it's time to get dressed in the morning.

You love wearing your PJ's all day everyday and you fight me nearly every morning when I say it's time to get dressed.  You've recently decided that you care what you wear, so gone are the days where getting dressed is quick and easy.  Now it's a constant battle to find something that you want to wear, that isn't dirty and is seasonally appropriate.  And god forbid if I don't have the right color socks for you!  You want to "do it yourself" all the time, even if it means that your socks are on upside down and your shoes are one the wrong feet.  You hate it when I brush your hair but for some reason you love it when KoKo (daycare) gives you princess braids.  You come home with a pretty new 'do everyday and it's a million times better than the rushed ponytail I throw in you your hair to keep the food out of your hair.

You are relentless about asking to "watch a show".  It's all day everyday with the TV.  But you love making crafts at daycare and you are great at doing puzzles and memory games.  You love to play outside and I can't wait til Hazel is big enough to start playing with you because all you really want is for Daddy and I to sit down and play with you.  You test my patience on a daily basis but you also make me laugh like none-other.  You have the most creative imagination and you surprise me everyday with the way you play.  I see so much of your Daddy and I in the things you do and say.  You are kind and good, but you are three and always testing your boundaries.

Fears:  You have recently decided that you are afraid of taking a bath because you think you'll go down the drain "like Nemo".  You hate it when I have to wash your hair because it gets water in your eyes and though I try to get you to look up you just cry and cry until I'm done.  You used to like to sit and play in the tub for 30 minutes plus but now it's pretty much in and out.  You're even afraid that your toys will go down the drain so you won't even let me put them in anymore either!

You have the funniest little run where you sort of crouch down and swing your right arm back and forth.  You love to help Daddy scoop up dog poop before he's going to mow the lawn and you say the only way to find it is to sniff it out.  We let you do that part!

You have no concept of time and say things like "we're going to go to grandmas in five weeks" or "I did that 'esterday".  You always ask to "watch one little show in three minutes" and say "one second" just like I do.  We're working on helping you to understand time by talking about the clock and when the big hand says 6 you can do XYZ.  You fight us to go to bed and come out a few times each night until I get really mad.  You used to sleep from 7pm til 7am but those days are long gone too.  You're up most mornings around 6 and so begins that "can I watch a show" each and every morning.  I love you, but you exhaust me on those early mornings!

Favorite Movies:  Finding Nemo, Cinderella and of course Pinocchio.  Grandma, Bubby and Erin took you to see a play of Pinocchio and you've been hooked ever since.  You're JUST starting to get into movies and like to watch the ones you like over and over and over again.  You like it when we sit down and talk you through what's happening and ask you questions and that seems to help you understand what the story is all about since you have a fairly short attention span.  An hour+ movie is often just a LITTLE too long to keep your interest but after seeing it a few times you're hooked.

You are the best big sister to Hazel.  You call her your little "sissy" and were so excited for her to start going to daycare with you.  You'd tell me "Nathan has Lukey and I have Hazel".  You tell me all about the things she does when she's with Kelly and you introduce her to other people as "this is my sister, Hazel Francis".  You love to call her Hay Fran like Daddy and tell me "I think she likes me" or "she's smiling at me" all the time.  You're gentle with her and love that she's all yours.

My dearest Abby, these are all the things I don't want to forget about you being three.  You are a silly, happy, girl with a huge smile and a good heart.  Don't ever change!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin Patch 2015

'Tis the season for all things fall and cool weather!  This past weekend we met a bunch of friends at the pumpkin patch by our house, Goebberts.  We took Abby last year and she loved it so we were pretty sure it would be a hit again this year, especially when we added all her little kid friends into the mix.

The weather was pretty cool and I probably should have had Abby bundled up like Parker and Reese were but I was lucky to get her to wear a coat.  This little girl has quite an opinion these days and some fights are just NOT worth the battle.  Unfortunately Hazel was just coming down with a little cold herself so we didn't even take her out the stroller.  We kept her wrapped up and warm the whole time.

At some point I needed to go feed Hazel and wanted to find a warm place to sit down with her so we headed into one of the shelters.  Ryan texted me that he and Abby were going to go down the big slide.  I could hardly believe it.  Abby's such a little scaredy cat that I would have never guessed she'd enjoy that big slide...but she did.  The even went a second time so I could grab a few pictures.
I'm SUPER disappointed that we didn't get an entire group shot.  In addition to Nichole and family, Lauren/Brian/Natalie and Betsy/Pat/Bradley also joined us at the pumpkin patch.  I'm seriously kicking myself for not taking the 5 minutes to set up a group shot.  I said the same thing about not getting a group photo from our big cousins' camping trip this year so I'm warning you all right now.  Be prepared to take the annoying group photo shots when I'm around.  I'm tired of wishing I'd taken the time later one.  But!  I did get this super cute picture of Abby and Parker.  She worships the ground he walks on....future wedding photos???

All in all it was a great day and I'm so excited that as our kids get older our weekends will be filled with more and more activities like this one.  Bring on all things Fall!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

1 Family x 12 (September)

Just one day late this month with our monthly family picture.  I can't help but love this one with all the green and gold I spy in it.  Much to Ryan's chagrin, Abby now says "Go Pack, Go" on a regular basis and asks to wear her Go Pack Go shirt second only to her much loved "Greg shirt".