Monday, November 30, 2009

Message from Santa

Alex and I are back into the swing of things (somewhat, as she's still dressed in her pj's at 10am), and to jump start our Christmas season, Santa Claus send Alex a personalized video message this morning. She's already watched it five times, and I will predict an even 10 before bedtime tonight.

(I do have to give credit to finding this site to Melissa Olson-- she blogged about her kids receiving personalized video messages from Santa, and I had to give it a try!)

Well, we're back from our Thanksgiving vacation, and while the weather in MN isn't as dreadful as it COULD be, it's still a far cry from the beautiful Arizona warmth. I'll get Thanksgiving blog updates soon (if Alex takes a nap today).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tailgating!

The Marotz family has never really tailgated a sports event, but we packed up the table, chairs, and food (takeout from Reynoso's) to tailgate the Phoenix ZooLights! We probably looked pretty darn silly in the zoo parking lot, but I think it's a tradition we should keep!

After dinner, it started to get darker out and we headed into the zoo to enjoy the Christmas lights. Last year we were discouraged by the crowds, but this was the perfect time!
Jengo the giraffe talked to Alex and her eyes went wide when he said her name! She wasn't too excited about talking to him right then, but she sure tells the story again and again now!

Auntie Carrie and Alex took a camel ride in the dark...what a memory (Alex kept asking to ride "the other one too") all the way home from the zoo.

Zoo lights in AZ

Camel ride

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pampering the princess


I've always said that Alex is NOT a princess, but Grandma Mary and Auntie Carrie heartily disagree. The last time that she was in Phoenix, Alex got her toenails painted, and she's been talking about it ever since. She received a mani-pedi (paint only on her toes) from her doting fans this morning, and was in heaven!
To complete her girly morning, she received a Fairy Bee costume, which she wore around for a good portion of the morning. Sigh..... taffeta and toenails may be more in my future than I'd like to admit.

After a day of napping and shopping, we were invited to the Loehrs house for dinner. Barb and Richard Bennett were there as well, and we had a fantastic time catching up and relaxing near their fire pit.
Alex was a bit hesitant to sit near the open flame, but as long as she was on someone's lap she was ok. The Smores made it better, too...

Black Friday Drama

Well, MOST of the family took it easy the day after Thanksgiving. Mary and I, however, stayed up the night before until midnight, when the local Janie & Jack store (in Chandler Fashion Square) opened with its Black Friday sale. We had stopped in the day before to scope out the merchandise and ask if I could use my $25 coupon in conjunction with the 20% off they were offering from midnight to noon. The saleslady assured me that I could, and that (coupled with a mall-wide promotion where you could present $100 in receipts to obtain a $50 mall gift card) seemed like too good of a deal to pass by.

We could have passed it by.

Mary and I got to the mall at 11:45, thinking that we'd have some time to park, get to the store and wait outside of it until it opened, run in to pick up a few things, jump in the customer service line to get the gift card and get home quickly. We arrived to throngs of people lining up OUTSIDE the mall doors. They were mostly angsty and exuberant teens (I know-- what a combination) who needed to get out of the house. We waited patiently in the que until Mary noticed people walking right past and starting a mob. Well, my mother-in-law is not one to sit idly by while others cut in line, so we decided to join the mob. Squashed in with hundreds of other people I felt like I was in a precarious situation. This could turn ugly at any second. I grabbed Mary's purse so that we wouldn't get separated, and she told me to keep my stance wide so that it was harder to knock me over. Gulp!

The doors opened and people flooded in. I have to admit that the adrenaline rush was pretty good.....Mary headed straight for the customer service desk, thinking that she'd have to let a few people cut ahead until I got there with my receipt, but wanting to secure a spot early. I headed to Janie & Jack, which was FULL of people! I elbowed my way to the new panda bear collection and grabbed a few pieces. After waiting in line (4 people were in front of me!) I was told by the VERY SAME SALESPERSON that she had been mistaken, and I could not use my $25 coupon with the 20% off. Sigh....I had her put two things back, made my purchase and headed to find Mary.

The mall was so full of running, loud people that I felt like I was in the middle of a rioting, looting crowd! After a phone call to my mother-in-law, who warned me about a fight going on, I found her...... At least 150th in line at the customer service counter. No joke. We decided that $50 just wasn't worth the time/energy to stand in line. Plus, they announced that they only had 300 certificates to give out, and there was a chance that they'd be out by the time we got up there. Crazy!! The things we do for baby clothes!

We got back home by 1:08am, not too bad, considering the drama. Mary and Carrie went back to the mall at 6am to hit Ann Taylor Loft (which wisely decided to not open at midnight to avoid the chaos) and encounted no crowd at all.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grandma Mary had a list of Alex-tasks to complete before our big Thanksgiving dinner. The first thing we had to do was use Alex's creative skills to decorate the front windows. Alex dove headfirst into the task!

Next up was decorating the cookies they baked yesterday. I can assure anyone who ate a turkey cookie that only MY cookies were presented and served. Alex got a bit waylaid with the icing brush...Daddy and Alex got out of the house for a while and found a roadrunner right in the front yard! Apparently he comes around once a year, and Alex had a great time watching him run while Dave chased him around.
Time for the "party"! Alex was VERY excited to be hosting a party. This year she greeted everyone at the door and handed out turkey necklaces (we had 19 people over this year, so nametags were very helpful for friends of the family!)She had time to play for a little bit with Auntie Carrie (who had JUST arrived in time for dinner).
Having some appetizers with Grandma Mary and Great Aunt Marjie... we always eat before we eat at family get-togethers!
Taking a break from dinner with Madeline!
Ellen's jewelry was a fascination for Alex--- so she helped her make her own from some yarn! Alex loved hanging out with her and was talking about her bracelets for days after!
Duane's father and mother were able to celebrate with us this year (they came in from Canada), and as a practiced Grandpa of 10, Murray was definitely the hit of the evening. He taught Alex some 'great' tricks...
As the youngest (by far) in the family, Alex lacked NOTHING on Thanksgiving! She even sat at the table for dessert and carefully (without spilling) ate an entire piece of pumpkin pie. It was the perfect consistency for her to attack with her fork.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making cookies with Grandma Mary

Alex and Grandma Mary got down to business this morning, making sugar cookies for our big Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.


After making cookies, it was time for a break. Coloring, anyone?
Aside from all the extra Grandparent attention, Alex has really been enjoying being able to run around in the backyard wearing her favorite ensemble...... cowboy boots, a short sleeve shirt, and a pull-up. Why do we live in Minnesota, again???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arizona!

On our way...

We're on the plane!


Thanks to Dave's status, our airport experience was uneventful. Alex did decide to leave Hippo in the car (a first in an entire year for an airplane trip), and I kind of wished he had come with when she had a hard time snuggling down and relaxing.

She did a fabulous job on the plane ride, regardless. She enjoyed drawing, using up her sticker collection, reading some books we had picked out from the library for the plane trip, and watching some DVDs.

By the time we reached Phoenix, she was very excited to see Grandma Mary and Papa Bob....but exhausted! We put her down as soon as we walked in the door and enjoyed some Reynosos take-out....Mmmm...real Mexican food!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Monster sit here."

Sometime between 4:31pm and 5:15pm, Alex invented her first imaginary friend. As I was preparing dinner, she was playing independently on the other side of the kitchen. Apparently I wasn't paying too much attention to what she was chattering away about until she came over and tried to move my legs from in front of the cupboard.


"Monster in here now." I questioned her about the statement, and found out that there was a blue monster who was not scary but "a little weird" who now was Alex's friend. She was putting him in the cupboard to take a nap because he was "a little sick".


By the time Dave arrived home, Monster had already left for a trip (involving a lot of waving at the front door), had a glorious homecoming and summarily been granted a spot at the dinner table (incidentally moving Daddy's seat down the table one more space).



Dinner-time included placing tiny morsels of food onto Monster's plate, which Dave then snuck and ate, prolonging the feeding. :-)

Dave, Monster and Alex enjoy a family dinner!

Hopefully Monster won't mind sitting on Alex's lap in the plane tomorrow, because he will definitely not have his own seat. Speaking of, we will probably be on a posting hiatus for a while, as we will be in Arizona for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alex's World- The Second Year......hot off the presses!

Well, not QUITE hot off the presses, more like electronically transferred over the web. But, I did complete and upload the second volume of Alex's life story to my publishing site of choice (http://www.blurb.com/). A 340 page chronicle of Alex's every waking moment(and some sleeping ones, too). I like this site because it allows you to create your own layouts, as well as choose from their huge selection!

Grandparents: We ordered one copy for ourselves, but if there are any grandparents who really want/need a copy, follow the link in your email to place your order. If you order before 11-24, use the coupon code HOLIDAY and save 20% plus free shipping. You obviously don't NEED to order one for any reason, but just in case you have to have one!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Plan for December....

Well, Alex is down with a bug-- bright red cheeks (and a diaper rash to match), diarrhea, and an abnormal desire to just rest on the couch....lovely, huh? But, I took advantage of this 2-nap day to finish up my new Advent calendar.

Inspired by the weekly craft email I get (KidsCraft.com), I decided to make a calendar with fun Christmas events each day. The idea is that we will do the same activities every year, creating a month of fun traditions. I used some leftover tags that Dave brought home from the office, raided my button drawer, and made 'ribbon strips' from my fabric stash. All in all, it cost me $0 to make....but how can once put a price on Christmas memories?
This will make my blogging a bit more structured, as I will report on the Advent activity of each day! I'm excited to start our family traditions-- nothing too fancy, a picnic dinner in the playroom, Alex hosting a Christmas tea for relatives, gingerbread house making and snowman building. Just things that I want to make sure we get a chance to have fun doing each year!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keeping Warm and Toasty

After attending a MOMS Club Open House, where Alex received her first temporary tattoo (she practically fought another little boy for one of a dinosaur), we relaxed at home today. The weather is dark, icky, wet and chilly, so we turned on the fireplace to warm up. Alex made sure the boys were warm and toasty, covering Huxley up with her white blankie. If you can tell, Miss Kitty is positioned in-between the real cats as well. Apparently she needed to be snuggled in there, too.
We also made some toffee-butter cookies. It's another late work night for Daddy (we've had more and more of those recently), so I decided to have lots of activities to keep both Alex and myself busy until bedtime. She sure likes her 'cookie apron', Grandma Mary!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2 Little Kids, 1 Big City!

Emma and her Mommy came to Woodbury this morning to hang out with us. We started the day off with some shopping at the new Goodwill, where I was thrilled to find a kids' size real coonskin cap! How cool will THAT be for our dress up area!
Because the girls were so good in the store, they got the privilege of going to a new-to-us playspace- Little Kids, Big City. It's located in an industrial park, oddly enough, and it's like a mini Children's Museum. There are a variety of 'playscapes' set up- a post office, fire station (with pretend fire to fight and fire engine), auto shop, and grocery store made to look like a mini Kowalski's. Alex and Emma both loved the fire engine with a 'big slide' coming out the back. The second favorite spot was definitely the grocery store checkout area, where they took turns manning the cash register. It's good to know that we have such a cool spot to hang out here in Woodbury, especially when the winter snows start blowing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Visit to the Hill

Alex and I headed down to St. Olaf this afternoon to visit Auntie Rorie. We got there a bit early, so we decided to really surprise her by meeting her outside of her classroom. Luckily, the room next door was empty, so Alex had fun "betending" she was a college student.Auntie made Alex a really cool interactive butterfly sculpture. It was in the gallery, so we couldn't bring it home yet, but she'll love displaying it in her room in a few more weeks!After a stop at Hogan Brothers for some ice cream, and some browsing in the cool downtown shops (I REALLY need to get there without a toddler along, so I can enjoy taking my time in some of those artsy boutiques), we headed back home. Thanks for a fun visit, Auntie!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Shoebox

Every year, we try to do something to help Alex realize how fortunate she is....to have a loving family, to have a roof over her head, food on the table, and yes- to receive Christmas presents.

We've been talking about Thanksgiving, and what it means. The watered-down version is that the Pilgrims were people who didn't have any food, and the Algonquins gave them food. The Pilgrims said 'Thanks' to God and the Algonquins, and so that's why we celebrate. (She's two.....)

Running parallel to the Thanksgiving story, is our current project- Operation Christmas Child. Last year we participated in an adopt-a-family Christmas project, and Alex was too little to grasp what was going on, but she did enjoy picking out presents. This year, she seems to grasp the basic concepts of helping other people.
We chose to make our shoebox for a little girl (2-4 years old), and Alex and I headed to the store to fill it with goodies. She had so much fun picking out little toys, hairbrush, crayons, toothbrush & toothpaste, all for "little girl- no has ANY presents". She seems to be convinced, however, that she gets to meet the little girl and say "THANKS" to her. :-)

We've been packing and unpacking the box for days now, Alex keeps adding more original artwork and trying to sneak in toys from her own collection. Next Sunday we get to deliver the box to Church, and then (isn't technology amazing) track its journey across the world. We'll even get to find out what country it ended up in!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hot chocolate

Hey Diddle Diddle

Instead of napping today, Alex kept herself entertained by reciting nursery rhymes...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Making" Friends

I am happy to report that Alex and I had a much-awaited (and much-needed) day at home today. No visits to the mall, zoo, museum or otherwise. No errands to the grocery or pet store. Just a day to relax, clean the house, and work on some 'rainy day projects'-- like the puppet kit that the "Owl Lady" (GrandMama's good friend Jana) gave Alex for her birthday.

It was perfect-- no glue or scissors needed, and the finished creations are super-cute. It's a Martha Stewart craft kit, and I was very impressed with the quality of the materials--- nice heavy duty felt and substantial fabric-coved bags for the bodies! Way to go, Martha!
Alex making her selection (we made two of the four puppets this afternoon).

Constructing her bear.

The finished product!





Thursday, November 12, 2009

How many hours could YOU spend at Eden Prairie Center?

Well, Alex and I reported to Walser Jeep in Hopkins at 10am this morning (which meant leaving the house at 9am) to drop my vehicle off for some service. Dave and I had both noticed some funny gear-shifting stuff going on, so we decided to have them check that out as well. Because they estimated our wait time at roughly 3-4 hours, we decided to hop in the courtesy shuttle and check out Eden Prairie Center.

We arrived at 10:15 or so, stroller and water in hand. Alex and I checked movie times and decided that we would go to the 12:50 showing of "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs". This left only two and a half hours to fill in the meantime.

Alex was a star shopper this morning. Even though we only walked out of the mall with a pair of $3 tights (Gymboree sale) and a new Clifford book from Barnes & Noble, we sure perused most of the square footage of the mall. I even let Alex play in the COMMUNAL PLAYSPACE!!! (You know it's bad if I allow Alex in one of those, and it was crowded-- we disinfected before, during and after the play time-- at first glance everyone in there seemed healthy, but one never knows). Despite the possible infection, it still ranked much better than sitting in the Walser waiting room for three hours, trying to keep my active girl subdued around other cranky waiting customers.

We treated ourselves to lunch at the Food Court (including a Happy Meal, which I swiped the toy out of before Alex could see it.....don't worry, I gave her the mini My Little Pony later while we were waiting for the movie to start. I just don't want her associating food with toys), and then it was time for the show!
I may be stingy with junky toys, but let it rain candy!! The ticket seller gave us a break because Alex was JUST two, and didn't charge us for her ticket, so we decided to 'thank' AMC by buying a massive package of M & M's to share. Alex was in heaven, counting and sorting her colorful candies before carefully eating them one by one during the movie.
I thought the movie was ok. Alex really enjoyed it, it seemed, but I'm not sure why. There weren't any cuddly animals or songs, but she watched with rapt attention the entire time, especially during the spaghetti and meatball storm!

After calling Walser to confirm our ride back, I was informed that there was nothing wrong with my Jeep. Sigh.........We finally arrived home at 4:30, just in time to start fixing dinner. What a long day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Down one snail, Up one fish!

Sadly, we lost poor Ichabod to a hungry goldfish, so Alex and I headed to the pet store today to find a more suitable tank-mate for Hungry, Hungry Penny. We settled on a Chinese Golden Algae Eater and brought home "Cleo" to help keep things shipshape. (Isabelle the yellow snail is still around, for those of you keeping tallies on our current animal population).
Earlier in the day, we had some more fishy experiences when we met Emma and Miss Megan at Underwater Adventures. It was supposed to be a large group outing, with Alex's other Shakopee ECFE friends coming, but due to a case of pinkeye and another occurence of projectile vomiting, we were down to the two girls! We missed our other friends, but had a nice time.

We treated ourselves to a "Girls Only" lunch at Rainforest Cafe after the aquarium. Alex had fun introducing Emma to the joys of "be-tend storms" , elephant noises and funny gorillas!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You can run, but you can't hide

Here's Alex 'modeling' my newest 'altered piece'. She's becoming quite the natual poser! In case you can't tell, the applique is a scarf-wearing badger stirring a bowl of (pumpkin dough?). She was very proud to wear it to school this morning, even if everyone asked us if we were Wisconsin fans!
Alex has been consistently grumpy upon awakening from her afternoon nap for about 2 weeks now. This isn't her normal 'it takes me thirty minutes to wake up, so don't touch me' grumpiness, it's an all-out surly, scream until she's blotchy cry fest. Today I tried to head it off by announcing an impromptu trip to a really cool park we found the other day.
It worked for a while. Alex was more than happy to swing (if I pushed both her swing and the adjacent one, because apparently Coconut the Cockatoo was swinging, too).
You wouldn't know it from this photo, but approximately ten minutes after this was taken, I had to physically remove my screaming toddler from the park because she chose not to follow directions. I guess we can't run from the Grumpies.