Monday, November 30, 2009

Birthday Milestone

The marking of the beginning of a new era, my 30's, began today. I had many well-wishes via cards, phone calls, facebook, and even one wacky e-card.

The highlight of my day was the successful completion of my dream birthday cake: a homemade chocolate concoction with cookies and cream filling and a chocolate ganache icing, dotted with white chocolate. Indulgent is the word, and I am enjoying a second piece as I blog about it, it's so good. It's my birthday and I'll eat what I want to. :) Thank you to all who thought of me and made me feel so special - you rock my world!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Denver Shirt Day

Auntie Nini, I think Claire needs a new Denver shirt!

After seeing Claire in her shrinking Denver shirt, Gabe decided that he should put his on, too. Amazingly enough, the actually posed together for me (Claire now says "Tsss" (cheese) whenever you get the camera out.)

Then Gabe demonstrated what it looks like when you go down the "waterslide" backwards (our new game to play after our recent Dells outing)...
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In Search of Sanity

This morning, in a moment of weakness, I gave the kids one of their Christmas presents early, hoping to buy myself some sanity. I had a fun outing planned, but Gabe's refusal to get dressed thwarted that, so in desperation I gave them this coloring castle I had ordered a few weeks ago. (I knew I shouldn't have gotten a jump start on Christmas shopping , especially for the two people I spend the most time with and that I love the most.) Hope I can make it the remaining 30+ days till Christmas without pre-gifting the rest of their gifts! But I will say, they had a great time with the castle, and actually quieted down and played together instead of the wrestling they were doing pre-castle. And the best part is, putting it together took awhile too, so now we've got less than an hour to go till naptime...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Fun

On the few days lately when it hasn't been raining, we've been enjoying all the fun that comes along with Fall -- leaf jumping, pumpkin carving, and of course, trick or treating. Here are few of my favorite moments.

Gabe's idea of shoveling leaves:

After all the hard work dozing the leaves, you gotta get in a celebratory jump, right? If you look closely, you can see it's an action shot -
just before he hit the leaf pile:

And the highlight of the weekend, dressing
up as Thing 1 and Thing 2,
which pretty much sums up how the two of them act all the time. Yes, the costumes were homemade; and yes, I'm ridiculously proud of how they turned out. And they wore the wigs almost all night!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Apple Time!

Our apple trees are in full force right now, so we are enjoying our "Apple a day..." times about ten. Last weekend was Apple Overload - a couple of batches of friends came and picked from our orchard, I made a double batch of applesauce, we learned how to make homemade apple cider from our apples with friends who had access to a press, and we finished off a lovely Sunday Gilles Family Dinner with a delicious apple crisp. Yum. It was so good I might make it again this weekend...

Claire is really glad to have molars so she can enjoy all the goodness this year, straight from the tree.

Whenever we visit the Enwalds, it is a large amount of fun balanced with a large amount of chaos - namely because we parents are outnumbered 2:1. Over Labor Day weekend we were able to have a sleepover at their house, which was a blast. I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, Sarah's homemade chocolate cake and homemade mint ice cream, or the time we spent hanging out after we successfully got 6 kids to go to bed. Here's the best shot (out of the 5 we took) of the 6 kids together. Isn't it sweet how the big kids like to try to contain the little kids?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Addition, Number 2

There is a new baby in the family! Kate and Huck have joined the ranks of new parents with the addition of Trey Michael Hecker, born Sunday, Sept 13 at 6:57 am. Jesse and I left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa Gilles so we could come down once she was in the hospital in labor. I was there in time to witness his arrival, which was amazing to experience (especially being not on the painful end of the delivery!) He is 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 22 inches long, with extremely large hands and feet and a TON of black hair. As you can probably tell, I am quite enamored with him. :) Isn't he a cutie?!?
Proud uncle Jesse welcomed Huck to the Daddy club, and Baa shared his favorite baby-holding position (naptime) with Trey too.

New Additions

My mom and dad just added a pair of Sheltie puppies to the family. Welcome Sadie and Tucker! They are very cute and mostly good, despite my nickname for them - the "naughty twins". Gabe and Claire can't get enough of them - and they are small enough to be perfect playmates for young children. So glad that they live with Nani and Baa so that we can play with them often - but we don't have to potty train or teach them not to bark so much. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting Ready for Baby

When Erin and Kate were home for our party we decided to start showering "Bubbles" (Kate & Aaron's nickname for the baby) with baby gear, so we got his & hers diaper bags for Kate and Huck, complete with the prerequisite fillers like diapers, wipes, nuks, and the like. Kate's favorite part was the "I Heart Mommy" bib that she had registered for just the day before. As you can see from the picture, it already fits! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bye Bye Jackson

My family's (arguably) most beloved dog, Jackson, died suddenly on Wednesday. He happened to be at my house, and spent a lovely morning outside playing with our two willing playmates and chewing a bone while they played in the sandbox. Then one minute he was sneaking the dropped mac n cheese noodles from under their picnic table as we lunched, and the next minute, he fell over in what looked like a seizure or stroke to me. After about 20 minutes (and much internal panicking on my part), he got back up and seemed fatigued, but fine. Later that afternoon Mom decided she should come get him and watch him overnight, and while she was on her way, he dropped over and had another seizure-like thing, after which he never really regained cognition. He wasn't unconscious, but was unresponsive, to be sure. Mom and Dad took him to a vet who felt a tumor in his belly and heard his lungs full of fluid - and while they were waiting for x-rays to develop, he died on the doctor's table, presumably that the tumor had burst. Quite a shock for all of us, since he never once (even up to the last few hours) had seemed anything other than healthy and happy. As my Uncle Bob put it, Jack woke up every day thinking "Wow! Today is going to be the best day ever!" - and his absence will be acutely noted in our family for quite awhile. I'm not sure if there was ever a more beloved Golden. He was so calm, so fun and easygoing, so gentle - Claire would often pull herself to stand while holding his coat, and Gabe always wanted him to sleep in his room whenever Jack was here overnight. He was the epitome of what you want in a family dog, and we will likely look a long time before we are able to fill his shoes with some new paws.

This was the first time we had to explain death to Gabe - when we put our dog Paddington to sleep a few months ago, we just told him that P's wouldn't be living with us anymore because he bit Daddy. That situation was more complicated, since he wasn't outwardly sick, and we weren't sure where to start and stop with making sense of it for a 3-year-old. This time, though, Jack got sick right in front of his eyes, and as any of you parents know, not much escapes their eyes. He took the news surprisingly well, and was better at comforting me as I tried to comfort him.
We read a book together called "I Remember" by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, which I highly recommend if you need to explain death of a pet and the circle of life to a small child. He gave me a big hug, wiped my eyes, and said, Here Mom, let's sit down and watch Wall-E. That will make you feel better (which is what we often do if he gets hurt, to help take his mind off the pain.) I'm so proud of my compassionate little man.

A pair of jokers

Yet more monkey-see, monkey do... this time, Gabe was copying Claire. Lately I've been into putting pigtails in Claire's hair, and while they are in, they are adorable. Unfortunately, she enjoys pulling them out, but that's a different story. Gabe asked for them last Saturday, too.
Later on, one of them put on some sunglasses, and the other was quick to copy. Here the were hamming it up for the camera (and each other.) It's getting to be really fun to have two - not all of the time! - but more often than not, it rocks.

Cabin Fun

A few weeks ago we went to the cabin with Mom and Dad when the Heckers were home. Gabe really got into fishing - first he scoped out Hecker's mongo catch o' the day -- at 33", it was nearly as tall as he was!

Then he was helping Huck to reel in a fish that ended up being a big bass! Pretty sweet.

We had a great time that went by (as usual) all too fast.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I heart gDiapers

Several of you fellow mamas out there have heard me rave about gDiapers. Besides the obvious benefit of them being eco-friendly, I also love how breathable they are so Claire almost never gets diaper rash (or ouchy-butt, as Gabe so often referred to it.) If you are interested in experiencing gDiaper love, there's never been a better time to try it out. You see, they are offering a promotion on what they call "everyday g's", which are 6 pairs of little gpants (the outer cover + liner) for only $40 (instead of the bundled price of $70). All you need to add is one $15 case of gRefills, (or one $30 pack of cloth inserts) and you are set to go. Buying 6 pairs separately would cost you $102. If you are interested, follow this link and use my promo code g1524Gilles when you check out. Voila! $40 not $70! It's also very cool that they just added cloth inserts to their list of products, in addition to the cool biodegradable, flushable ones.

If $40 is out of your 'experiment' budget, then you can also try them out with a gdiapers starter kit, retailing for about $27 bucks. This only comes with 2 pants, not 6, but also comes with 10 gRefills to try it out for a few days. (Sorry, no magic promo code here - though you can also get them on which offers $10 off your first order.)

With a baby Claire's size, we go through about 6 gRefills a day, and we own 5 pairs of little gPants. It's been working out really well, and they are so darn cute to boot! For more info, you can email me or visit their website.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Our first non-kids adventure in 4 years began on Sunday as we departed for Las Vegas with the Atkinson's. In the 10 years we've known them, many zany adventures have happened with Ian and Monika, such as a road trip to Disney World as college kids where we deliberately detoured in Georgia in search of the World's Largest Peanut. This trip did not disappoint - plenty of fun and adventures were had. We did it all: stayed at the Bellagio with fountain-view rooms (scored with the slip of a $20); won (and lost) a bit of money gambling in many of the major casinos along the strip; clowned our way through Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum after a round of tequila shots ($38 for 4!); spent an evening at a Dueling Piano Bar; saw Penn & Teller's amazing magic show; drank like we were still college students; and stayed out till 2am (yes, that's 4am CST!) It was just the R&R that this group of former-funseekers-turned-parents needed. The kids did not seem to miss us too much -- Gabe told Grandpa Rod "Call my parents and tell them I'm having fun!" so the va-cay was good for all of us. Highlights of the trip can be seen in this Picasa Web Album (Ian, I spared the most incriminating ones...)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Road Trip

In case you were wondering what it would be like to "day trip" to Appleton with two kids in tow, here is a replay of our recent adventure to see Mel, Mel, and Amy and their 5 (!!) kids. Thanks to Amy, Drew, and Andy for hosting us! (Left to Right: Audrey, Carter, and Mel Aprahamian; Drew and Amy Gaerthofner; Amelia, Mel, and Maelle Bunkelman; Me, Claire, and Gabe.)

8:47 am:
Hit the Road for our 260-mile adventure (one way).
8:50: Gabe complains about a tummy-ache (meaning carsickness has already set in.)
9:08: Get to north side of River Falls, not quite to 94 yet; pull over for some fresh air; turn off DVD player as probable cause for the carsickness.
10:04: Have been on 94 for nearly an hour; get to exits for Eau Claire and realize I've missed the exit for Hwy 29. Call Jesse for a re-route (luckily, I didn't have to backtrack).
10:14: Back on track - reach Hwy 29, which we'll be on for the next 120 miles.
10:20: Pull over on side of 29 (a 4-lane highway) for fresh air and to get out (puking seemed imminent). Gabe is hysterical, which causes Claire to scream through the whole stop as well. Get Gabe calmed down, and we get back in.
10:36: Decide to stop in Cadott for a walk, potty break, etc to put the carsickness behind us once and for all. Stop at the gas station that all 500 post-Country-fest hungover drunks are also at. As we get out of the car, Gabe notices a bear - the first time I've seen one not in a zoo!
11:03: Back on the road; kids fall asleep and the drive becomes enjoyable.
12:47: Gabe wakes up and asks to watch his movie again. Since we're almost there, and he seems to be doing well, I turn it back on.
1:15pm: We are 10 minutes from the restaurant we are meeting everyone at when Gabe feels sick again. End up pulling over a third time.
1:45pm: We made it to Mom & Pop Place!!
3:45pm: Head over to Amy's, where the kids open gifts and play with all of Drew's toys.
6:00pm: Get some dinner. I decide that driving back tonight will probably be easier on me since they will probably sleep most of the way, and I'd be just as tired tomorrow, but they will be awake, and either fighting or carsick. While we wait for our food, Claire has a diaper blowout on my lap.
7:30pm: Hug the Gaerthofner's goodbye and head for home.
8:00pm: After stopping for gas and Starbucks, we are now on Hwy 10, going back to Stevens Point.
8:08pm: Gabe gets carsick - already. As we're pulled over on the side of Hwy 10, a sheriff deputy pulls up behind us to check out the action. Quickly leaves when I mention the possibility of puking. As I hold Gabe in the ditch, Claire once again screams at the injustice of being strapped in while Gabe gets to be outside with Mama.
8:38pm: Back to driving. Gabe falls asleep from all the drama. Claire tries to get her socks off.
9:10pm: Kids are both finally quiet and I pray that it lasts. "You do it to yourself" taunts the Radiohead song I'm listening to.
11:57pm: We make it into the driveway. As I get Claire out of her seat, I feel the start of another blowout. Gabe informs me, "I don't want to go anywhere ever ever again." I second his motion -- at least for tomorrow.

I won't lie, it was a rough journey. But seeing my girls once a year and how much are kids are growing and changing made it worth it. Next time, we're bringing Daddy. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Role Model

Gabe adores his Uncle Huck (as we all do, really.) And as you can see from the picture, the feeling is mutual. Despite the fact that one of Gabe's first complete sentences last summer was "Huck drinks beer", I think it's great for a boy to have an uncle as cool as Huck. Last night before Gabe went to sleep, we had a cute conversation about him.

G: Mama, Huck is my friend.
M: Yep - Huck is my friend too.

G: I like him - He's really crazy.
M: He sure is.
G: He's awesome.

Looks like you have an admirer, Huck... But wait to teach him how to drink 23 beers at a wedding till he's at least in his 20's, ok?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Heiser-Turner Wedding

Last weekend we had all of our family and extended family visiting because my cousin Courtney was getting married to one of our dear family friends, Josh. They have such a sweet story - Courtney had a crush on Josh ever since meeting him at age 4, and after re-connecting at our wedding 18 years later, they were able to grow first a friendship and then a partnership, culminating in the wedding we had a blast at last Saturday. Here are some fun shots from the action-packed weekend:

Gabe and Claire had a blast sharing our playset with Nick and Ashley, our cousins from Boston. (Kate and Erin helped make the picture happen!)

Kate (22 weeks prego) poses with cutie Claire.

You can view about 100 more in our web album.


Claire is getting pretty adept as using a spoon... Except when she gets tired of it and just picks up the bowl instead.

Accessorizing Nakedness

All kids love to be naked, and ours are no exception. While Claire looks pretty cute sporting her newest gDiaper, Gabe showing off the new accessories we bought on a recent shopping trip with Nani is a bit concerning. I'm a little worried I have the next Mick Jagger living with us.

Tent crazy

Gabe is super excited about tents lately -- so much so that we pitched our backpacking one in our living room. He talked Grandma and Grandpa Gilles into hanging out with him in there, too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Garden Fever

Gabe got really into putting in the garden this past weekend... Really into it, as in, up to his elbows and knees. Why did God make boys again?!? He was quite proud of himself, yet did not enjoy me hosing him off afterward. Go figure.

Second Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago, we met our good friends Abby and Reese at the photographer's studio to capture the joy of our two one-year-old girls (with a few big brother shots for good measure.) Unfortunately, the BFF's decided not to get along that day, so our grand idea was mostly a flop. And while Reese seemed to be all smiles for the camera, our kids were too far past their nap and less than cooperative. But Ann worked a miracle, and somehow still found some adorable shots of our kids, naughty's and all. Check it out at Timepiece

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Claire is getting so cool that Gabe will now imitate her, not just the other way around. This is her trick - holding her cup "no-handed" and drinking (or showing off)... So since I was taking her picture, Gabe wanted a picture of him doing it, too. Who looks more ridiculous??

"Mommy, Claire Looks Like Baa"

The other night we were eating pudding -- a first for Claire since we've learned she can eat dairy foods now - and predictably, she greatly enjoyed much that she stopped being fed via spoon and fed herself. As you can imagine, it got everywhere, mainly around her mouth. Gabe stopped eating his pudding and said "Look Mommy - Claire looks like Baa" since she had a pudding mustache and goatee. I think Jilly almost choked on his pudding he was laughing so hard.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Claire's Birthday, Part 2

The babygirl is officially 1! We celebrated the milestone yesterday with all 4 grandparents, plus Collin, Nicole, & Halle. While her cupcakes for the Milwaukee birthday were "Claire Bear" cakes, these were inspired by her other nickname, "Princess Cupcake". Thus the strawberry "crowns" on funfetti cupcakes. I got some great recipe ideas from a really fun book called Hello Cupcake! (can't wait to try out more of these for a future event!) so the frosting was divine, and while it's hard to top Funfetti cake, it was taken up a notch in richness by using buttermilk instead of water and adding an extra egg. Divinely delicious cupcakes, befitting a princess. Now that she is taking between 5 and 20 steps at a time, she was not only the guest of honor, but also the party entertainment. My favorite was watching her repeatedly give kisses to the baby doll Jesse and I picked out for her.

Hope you enjoy a few shots of the grand event. :)