Monday, December 31, 2012

There's always at least one crying kid in a picture.

Ski Bunny Simone

Simone took her first ski lesson with our fearless instructor, Steph.  The goal was to make sure that she had fun and left the experience wanting more.  Simone's tiny rental skis were probably about 50 cm in length - just the perfect pint size.  She has been to the ski hill plenty of times while Cullen took lessons, and she was adamant that this year it would be her turn.  Her little legs only lasted about 40 minutes, but she managed to go up and down the bunny hill with Steph a few times.  When she returned, our little girl had a very proud look on her face.   When we ask the question, "who is a ski bunny?"  she emphatically responds "ME!".

Poops, Pukes, Presents and Christmas Peace

For 10 days a stomach bug ravaged the Swanson house (plus a cold which turned into an ear infection for Simone).  Illness entered our house on Saturday, December 15th and stuck around until Tuesday, December 25th.  With that being said, we had to gracefully bow out of every organized, extended family celebration.  Other than feeling a bit cooped up in the house, we actually had a wonderful Christmas holiday.  The kids were perfectly content staying home and playing together with their new toys.  And Dirk and I actually enjoyed the downtime with the kids.  It was a very relaxing and peaceful Christmas.  At the end of the day, we feel blessed to have our health, a beautiful family and a warm roof over our heads.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Dinner with the Clarks.

We had a wonderful early Christmas dinner with the Clarks.   Debbie and Vernon traveled by planes, trains and automobiles to see their beloved grandkids.  All the way from Leesville, LA, they braved the blizzard conditions when Delta told them their flight (originally scheduled to arrive in La Crosse on Thursday) would be delayed until Saturday.  So, they rented a car and drove slowly and safely to La Crosse.  Merry Christmas DD and Big - your Wisconsin family loves you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

And just like that, she grew up.

In the past month, Simone has transitioned from diapers to underwear and from a crib to a bed.  In fact, Dirk recently referred to her as "sweetie" and she corrected him saying "I'm not a sweetie, I'm a big girl".  Just like that, she grew up before our very eyes.  (Sniff, sniff).

The most wonderful time of the year....

Little Christmas Stars

Cullen and Simone (along with their classmates) recently starred in the Christmas program put on by their daycare.  Cullen was very tight-lipped prior to the program and would not give any clues as to his songs.  Simone, on the other hand, sang her songs for days leading up to the show.  The kids got dressed up in their Christmas best:  Cullen opted to wear a tie and Simone chose her sparkly red shoes.   First, we were entertained by Quinn who played the drums for "Little Drummer Boy".  Then Simone took stage to perform "I'm a Little Snowman" (sung to the tune of  "I'm a Little Teapot") and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".  The funniest part is that Simone forgot to sing when she got up on stage.  We think she moved her lips for a few words, but mainly she had a bit of stagefright (there were probably over 200 people in the gym).  After she was off stage, Simone proceeded to dance in the aisle for the rest of the songs.  Jameson's class came next and he sang his little heart out.  I am positive that everyone in the gym (even those in the far corners) heard Jameson's sweet voice!  Finally, Cullen (the crafty veteran) took stage.  His class showcased three numbers: "Going on a Bear Hunt", "All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus" and "Santa Clause is Coming to Town".  His class took stage wearing their handmade hippo hats.  Cullen was very into the performance and was one of the only kids who did all the moves - even the booty shake.  We would like to thank our fan section for attending:  Mimi, Bobby, Grandma Liz and Grandpa Mark.  It made the evening that much more memorable.  We still working on the video to post - stay tuned.

Turkey and Tramps

We spent a low-key Thanksgiving at Wowee's house.  My Mom cooked the bird at Wowee's and my Dad and Brigette pitched in with the sides.  Our group was small so Cullen, Mason and Simone were invited to sit  at the fancy dining room table with the adults.  I think we only touched a small portion of the 17 lb turkey (4 adults, 1 93-year-old and 4 toddlers)!  On Black Friday, we opted to stay out of the malls and headed to Skyzone(   Skyone is an awesome place, it's a warehouse full of trampolines.  We arrived during "toddler time" so it was nice to share the space with other littles and their parents.  Dirk, Brigette and I even jumped around a bit (and all felt sore afterward).  If you haven't been there, I highly recommend a visit.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting ready for the man in red.

We recently took Cullen and Simone to brunch with Santa.  The two kids were so sweet as they spent the morning thinking about their lists.  I dressed them up in festive Christmas red and we were off.  They diligently carried their lists from the car to the brunch.  As we entered the room, Cullen noticed that Santa was not there.  I told him that Santa would be arriving shortly and he kept his eyes glued to the door for the next 10 minutes.  Finally, the man in red and his wife arrived.  Cullen and Simone kept him in their sight as they scarfed down waffles, bacon, eggs and fruit.  Finally, we crossed the room to talk to Santa and convince him that they had been "nice".  Simone is still a little unsure about as to how comfortable she is in close proximity with Santa.  Cullen, on the other hand, ran right up to the sleigh and jumped in Santa's lap.  There is nothing that can outdo the sight of a little one who truly believes.

Super Swansons

As I have previously mentioned, Cullen and Simone are into a Superhero phase.  Cullen picked a Superman costume for Halloween and naturally, Simone is interested in being just like her brother.  We created a Supergirl persona for a little lady.  I even purchased token Superman t-shirts for Dirk and me (yes, really dorky).  We started the Halloween festivities with a walk through Myrick Park where kids could trick-or-treat in the daylight.  On Halloween night, we joined our neighbors the Griffiths and formed a superhero posse:  Superman, Supergirl, Ironman, Captain America and Wonderwoman.  Simone and Calvin tried to keep up with their older siblings, but after 4th house, they both opted to stay in the wagon and consume their goodies.  We made it to about 15 houses before darkness fell, the cold set in and a few tears were shed.  At that point, the warmth of our house and the thrill of passing our candy was a welcome end to the evening.

Boo Ha Ha Bash

Dirk and I attended a grown-up only Halloween party.  It's amazing to see what creativity the adults can come up when there are prizes involved.  Dirk and I stayed true to our family theme and dressed up as Supergirl and He-Man.  Tracy joined in with an awesome Wonderwoman costume.  Some of the other favorites: Uncle Sam, Twister, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, the Incredibles, and Dr. Evil with mini-Me.  And the winner was..... Dr. Evil and mini-Me.

I love fall.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lark Toys = Fun

One Saturday, Annie and I road-tripped to meet for a playdate at Lark Toys in Kellogg, MN  This place is truly a hidden gem.  There's a beautiful hand-carved merry-go-round with rides every 1/2 hour.  And the store itself goes on for what seems like miles full of unique, super-cool toys.  Cullen, Mason, Simone and Dane loved their cousin time and had a blast playing with all of the fun stuff.  This is a destination we will be sure to visit again.

Can I get please get one decent smile?!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wax on. Wax off.

Cullen started karate a month ago and is having a blast. He has been taking classes twice a week at H&H Karate. The kids work on focus, teamwork, self-discipline, coordination and basic martial arts techniques.  The best part of each class is when Mr. Hickock tells the students to give him their mean face.  All of the 4-7 yr old foreheads scrunch up and their eyes narrow -  it is hilarious.  So for the past month Cullen has worked on his punches, kicks, focus and his mean face and earned a chance to test for a higher belt.    Today he tested and passed for his gold belt.  Mr Miyagi would be proud.

A School Bus, Apples and Pumpkins

I went with Simone's class on their very first field trip to Ferguson's apple orchard.  The highlight was definitely the ride to our destination on the bus - "the orange school bus" as Simone kept pointing out.  We had a great morning - with a tractor ride, apple picking, the petting zoo, tractor trikes and a pumpkin patch.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


What do you do to keep a one, two, three and four-year-old preoccupied until dinner is ready?  Take them on a "hike" through the neighborhood! Tracy and Jason recently hosted a family dinner and things are always interesting with four little kids.

A day in the life.....

So here are a few random shots / stories about what life is like in the Swanson house:

- Cullen and Simone love cardboard boxes.  Could there be a better toy?  One night, Dirk took out the garbage and they noticed that we were getting rid of a large cardboard box.  As a boycott, the two munchkins ran outside and sat in the box until we told them they could bring it into the house.  It is currently still sitting in my living room and I may try to sneak it out again on the next garbage pick up.
- Simone enjoys playing dress up and many times brings her "stuff" out to see how it looks on Dirk.
- Simone is also fond of sharing her food.  Often trying to feed us bites - "You try some?"
- The other night, Tracy gave us a package of glow sticks with the instructions to use at bath time.  Now this is a concept we had never thought of:  the bathtub rave.  Cheap thrills - highly recommended for all of you parents out there!
- Cullen has a new fascination with being a rock star.  We have promised him that someday (when he is older) he can take guitar lessons.  Until then, he just "jams".
- Cullen and Dirk recently went to Camp Randall to cheer on Bucky.  They took Tracy and Parks Tobin and the boys all had a blast.  The little ones lasted until half time and then proceeded to sleep the entire two hour drive home.
- Simone and Lisa had a girls day - a visit to the library, the park and the co-op for lunch.

We are busy and life moves fast, but all is well!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day Weekend!


Dirk competed in a second triathlon this summer in Maple Grove, MN.  And he placed 3rd in his age group and 30th overall (out of 700)!  We stayed the night before with my parents and my dad was convinced that he needed to set 5 alarm clocks and schedule a professional wake-up call just to ensure Dirk wouldn't be late for the race - something reminiscent of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry was in charge of waking up marathoner Jean-Paul.  Rest assured, Dirk woke up early and made it to the race on time.  As Dirk passed by in the final stretch of the run, the kids shouted "go daddy go" and my dad shouted "go Jean-Paul!".

Later that day, we met up with George and Joanie at their cabin in Trempeleau.  It was a gorgeous day and we decided a picnic at the sand dunes would be the perfect activity.  Maybe he was inspired by his father, because Cullen raced (and I mean fast) up and down the mountains of sand at least 50 times.    He was covered in so much sand that I swear it took three baths before it was all out.  The climb up proved to be too much for little Simone so she opted for snacks and sandcastles on the beach.

Young Picassos

One morning, during a grocery shopping expedition,  I was inspired by some paint that I saw and decided to make a purchase to see what artistic skills Cullen and Simone possessed.  It turns out they are artistic geniuses (aren't all pre-schoolers?!).  Cullen was very careful to keep all of his colors separate on the paper.  Simone, on the other hand, mixed all of her paint and ended up with  beautiful brown blobs by the time she was finished.  Luckily, I stripped the kids down to their skivvies, because at the end of the painting experience there were equal amounts of paint on the paper and on their skin.

Cullen can officially cancel sleeping in a tent off his bucket list.  Dirk and Cullen decided to camp out in our backyard one night.  Don't assume that they were roughing it.  Dirk pitched the tent 10 feet from our backdoor and put a blow-up air mattress inside for maximum comfort.  Dirk also gave Cullen strict instructions to pee outside in the bushes during their camp-out.   When 9 pm struck and darkness fell, Cullen looked at Dirk and said "it's time to get sleeping" (he usually doesn't ask to go to bed - so this showed his level of excitement).  Within the first 1/2 hour in the tent, Cullen promptly got up to pee 5 times.  Apparently it's pretty fun to pee outside (must be a boy thing!).  I expected the two boys to crawl into bed sometime in the middle of the night, but as it turns out, they woke me up around 6 am refreshed and ready for the day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Caped Crusaders

Cullen and Simone have recently entered into the Superhero phase.  I am noticing that all kids must go through this.  Two years ago, I bought the kids capes and they never really played with them.  Now, it's the go-to accessory.  Mimi even found Dirk's old Superman sheets and now Cullen is sleeping with them.  I'm not sure what Cullen and Simone's super powers are, but whatever they grow into is sure to be spectacular!

Heidel House

We took an extended weekend get-away to the Heidel House on Green Lake.  It's a cute old resort (think Dirty Dancing) on a beautiful lake.  The best part is that it only required a two hour drive from home which we strategically planned during nap time.  We met our good friends Dennis and Kari Vogel - along with their two kids (Jack (4) and Stella (2)).  Dennis used his persuasive skills to secure adjoining poolside rooms.  This was the perfect set-up as we could let the kids sleep and hang out on the balconies after hours.  As you can see, the weekend consisted of swimming, swimming and more swimming.  The kids loved the pools (indoor and outdoor).  Short of a few meltdowns due to being overtired, the kids did great and even the adults managed to have a little fun.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Happy Bats

Cullen just finished his summer t-ball season.  This wasn't really the grueling bi-weekly game schedule kind of t-ball season.  Cullen played once a week with a group of other 4 - 6 year-olds and a group of college-aged coaches.  It was time spent on drills:  hitting, catching, fielding, running the bases, etc.  All skills that will pay off next year when we starts actual league play.  Cullen is obsessed.  He loves baseball.  In fact, he runs out to the street whenever he sees the neighbor boys warming up in their  yard.  They often include him and throw a few pitches his way.  Simone believes that she should be able to do whatever her brother does and gets mad when we try to have her bat from the tee.  Maybe we have two future ball players in our house.

Faces of Summer

Cullen and Simone really get along.  Dirk and I are both baffled by this phenomenon.  Not that we were enemies with our own siblings, but there seemed to be a much bickering as there was peace.  I would honestly say that these two play well in the sandbox at least 80% of the time.  It's nice for us, because on the weekends they really don't demand the companionship of friends - they are fine just hanging together.  Here are some pics from their recent slip and slide experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

playsets, pools and pals

This weekend we also spent some time with good friends.  The Dahl Family had us over for dinner and Cullen and Simone enjoyed playing with Lauren and Katherine on their giant playset - complete with Simone's favorite - swings!  On Sunday, we ventured to the Dickinson household to swim in the pool.  All of the Dickinson grandkids were there - so it wasn't much trouble to add two more rugrats to the mix!  Cullen had his first experience jumping from the diving board - and he loved it. Fearless Simone had no trouble keeping up with the big kids and loved jumping off the side (keeping her Dad busy).

Kids Tri 2.0

This past weekend, Cullen participated in his second Kids Triathlon.  He had been pretty excited about the event for the last couple of months.  Everyday as we would walk in or out of the Y, he would excitedly point to the poster and ask how long until the race.  Race day came and as we walked up to the registration, the excitement for the event faded and was replaced by the draw of the huge Ironman Bounce House.  After informing Cullen that the bounce house had to wait until after the race, we headed toward the start.

The event, starts with the swim, and a kid is sent in the water every 5 sec.  Cullen started somewhere around 10-15 spots back of the first kid and pretty much stayed in that position through the duration of the swim.  On to the bike, with his little sister chanting "Go, Cullen, Go", he made his move.  Cullen had the distinct advantage of being one of the two kids who was riding on two wheels vs training wheels (or even a big wheel).  He quickly moved into second place and was neck and neck with the leader, the other kid on two wheels.  As the run began and with his sister still chanting "Go, Brother, Go," he pulled into first place.  The battle for the lead went back and forth until the very end, when Cullen followed Dad, who he had asked to run along side him, out of bounds.  He quickly got back on course and finished in 2nd Place!  We ran up to congratulate him and lost track of him in the mix of people.  After looking around for a brief second we were able to locate line for the bounce house.   His sweet reward was not the medal placed around his neck (every participant got one!), but the giant, inflatable toy.

A few of our neighbors and our nephew, Jameson, also participated in the Kids Tri.  And we are proud of them all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Big Fish Lake 2012

We had another fun-filled vacation at Wowee's cabin on Big Fish Lake. For the first time in many years, we picked a great weekend with warm temperatures - perfect for swimming.  The cousins had so much fun just being together (and so did the sisters).  Cullen and Mason each jumped off the diving dock at least 746 times.  Simone perfected her "cammenball" into the baby pool.  And Dane, he just took it all in with a smile.  Thanks to my parents for hosting us (organizing the meals and buying the beer).  We can't wait for next year!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day and Dane's Baptism

We were lucky enough to celebrate the great dads in our family and sweet Dane's baptism this Sunday.  Cullen and Simone had a blast playing with their cousins and then we came home a relaxing evening at home.   All that Dirk wanted was some peace and quiet so that he could watch the US Open golf championship - and we obliged!

Go Daddy Go!

We watched Dirk compete in his second sprint distance triathlon.  He did great - improved his time from last year and ranked 18th overall.  We hosted a spaghetti dinner at our house the evening before for the 4 neighborhood guys that competed.  After an fun-filled evening running through the backyard, the kids probably exerted as much energy as their dads did in the official event.

Enjoy the video of Cullen and Simone cheering on their hero.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The start of summer.

Summer is finally here.  And with the change of seasons, we've been busy:

- exploring wildlife (like the turtle who showed up outside our front door)
- attending bbq parties with friends
- shooting squirt guns
- contracting pink eye (which also turned into a double ear infection for Ms. Simone)
- swimming
- building sandcastles
- fishing

We intend to make the most of our favorite and all-too-short season!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Terrific Two!

Simone Elizabeth, our little spitfire, is officially two years old.  On Friday when I picked her up from school, the teachers told me that she turned bright red when everyone sang the birthday song in her honor.  Not knowing what to make of this, when we got in the car, I asked her if she liked the Happy Birthday song.  She responded "yes" and then said "mama sing it".  So I sang.  Then she said "again".  So I sang more.  Then, she said "again".  I am sure you can see the pattern.  We have established that Cullen's favorite part of birthdays is the cake (frosting) and ice cream.  We now know that Simone's favorite part is the "Happy Birthday" song.

Simone started her second birthday with an early morning present gift opening.  Her most memorable gift came from her big brother.  Dirk and Cullen went on an outing to Toys R Us and he picked out a pink Minnie Mouse Cash Register (kind of random) as the perfect gift for the birthday girl - and Simone loved it!  We had some family over for a birthday bbq and the obligatory cupcakes and ice cream.  We set up the water table for the kids to play and before we knew it, Simone was actually swimming in the water table in her party clothes.  When Dirk saw the scene, he professed this will be her first and only wet t-shirt contest.  After that, she spent the majority of the party in her diaper.  Afterall, it was her party so she could do what she wanted to!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A dinner date with Grandma-the-Great

Tracy has coined Grandma Ione with a new nickname.   Yes, she is a great-grandmother, but that title alone sells her short.  "Grandma-the-Great" basically says it all.  She comes from hearty stock and is a wise sage.  She also has quite the impressive legacy (you'll have to ask Dirk what the grandchildren and great-grandchildren count is on this side of the family).  Mimi and Bobby hosted a delicious Mother's Day BBQ complete with brats, kraut and beer.  We also tried for a few family photos - it's not always easy to get everyone looking the same direction in time for the quick click of the camera.

Moore Pictures Please

On Mother's Day morning, the whole Moore Family (all 45 of us) gathered to take a family photo with our matriarch.  It all started when Marie Moore (a.k.a. Wowee) met Thomas Moore (a.k.a. Bumpa) 60-some years ago.  We feel very blessed that Wowee is still in our lives.  I'm not sure if it was more fun for the big cousins to catch up or the little cousins to meet.  Everyone clad in their denim and white came together to pose for various family photos.  11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren surrounded our dear Wowee.  We are so lucky that we were able to come together celebrating the Moore family mothers old and new.  It such a special day and the photos will be cherished for a long time.  Thanks to Lindsay, John and Nini for putting the plans in place.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Body Movin'.

In honor of Adam Yauch (MCA of the Beastie Boys who passed away of cancer at 47), we had several Beastie Boys dance parties this weekend.  Cullen's favorite song so far: "Brass Monkey".  I think the best anthem to describe Cullen and Simone is "Body Movin'".  Always on the move, Cullen has recently discovered the fun of bowling.  Although he has never stepped foot in an actual bowling alley, our hallway serves the purpose and he sets up the colorful plastic pins over and over again.  His biggest challenge is not the gutter, it's hurricane Simone knocking the pins over before he has a chance to throw the ball.  Our little Simone has developed a love for art.  Anytime I ask the kids what they want to do, she responds "color!".  Her artistic streak is in the genes (thanks Grandma Liz!).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

While this video was made in time for Cullen's birthday....over a month ago....I have procrastinated the posting of it ....for over a month.  My chances for father of the year award may have taken a hit.  Although, when you view the video I think you'll agree that I'm still the front runner.  :)

Cullen 4yr Bday Vid

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hangin' with Dane.

We had a fun visit from the Feste family.  Cullen and Simone are all about Dane.  In fact, almost suffocating.  He will never doubt for a second that his cousins are totally crazy for him!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Our weekend was quite the Easter Eggs-travaganza.  Grandma Liz and Grandpa Mark came down on Saturday afternoon.  The kids woke up from their naps and flew into Grandma and Grandpa's arms.  Cullen coaxed Grandpa into the yard for some batting practice and my mom and I took Simone to my favorite shoe boutique, "Kick".  When Simone saw Grandma take off her shoes to try on some new kicks, she thought she should follow suit.  Off came her pint size shoes and socks - too bad there were none in her size!  That night, we took Mark, Liz, Bob and MaryAnne out for a nice dinner (it was a treat our Mothers/Fathers Day treat for the best parents ever!)

In the morning, everyone got dressed in their Sunday best - Cullen, Dirk and Grandpa all sported starched Khaki's.  Cullen also wore his new sport coat "just like dad".   We attended mass at the Roncalli Newman Center.  The marble floors were a bit too polished and Grandma actually slipped and fell as she tried to corral Simone back into the pew (don't worry, she's okay!).  Simone proceeded  to escape, giving us the evil laugh as she ran through the back of church (the joys of toddlers at mass).  Next, we traveled to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe  Cullen loved walking on the trails - acting like the lead explorer leading the pack.  It's a beautiful atmosphere and the brunch was amazing.  In fact, Grandpa Mark went back for seconds and got the exact same plate of food - nothing different, nothing more, nothing less (he's kind of like a Seinfeld character).

That afternoon, Cullen participated in two Easter egg hunts.  The Erickson's included him in their hunt (Swansons and Ericksons - the next generation).  Finally, we headed to the Clark household for another awesome meal and another Easter egg hunt!  This time Simone joined in the fun. Mimi and Bobby hid 9 eggs for each little one.  Cullen and Jameson were the pros - helping out the two younger ones when needed.  We were also graced with a few special guests:  Janie, Matt, Grandma the Great and Debbie and Vernon (all the way from Louisiana!).  The celebration was capped with birthday treats in honor of Quinn's first birthday.

Whew - What a day.  We can't wait for next year!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Tugboat's Christening.

Our neighbors are part of a family business specializing in marine construction where tugboats and barges are key operating machinery.  As the J.F. Brennen Company purchases new vessels, it is a tradition to christen the boats to ward off bad luck.  It should be noted that the Titanic was never christened.  We were lucky enough to receive an invitation to the christening of the M/V Thomas Kennedy tugboat (named after the company's CFO).  Father Cook offered a blessing and Mrs. Kennedy had the honor of smashing the champagne bottle against the boat.  Cullen's favorite part of the day was the tugboat tour.  We saw the two, giant, 1,600 hp engines, the captains chair with the various levers, computers and spotlights and the many ropes and anchors on board.  Now when we see the barges and connected tugboats on the Mississppi River, we will have a better understanding of their inner-workings.  And I can only wish that someday someone will name a boat after me!
Here's a bit more info from the local paper:

Sporties for Shorties.

As you know, Cullen is quite the sports fanatic.  Simone is interested in whatever her older brother is doing - so we are not sure if she actually holds the same passion or is just playing copy-cat.

Cullen just finished the parent/child basketball at our local Y.  The program consisted of drills focusing on shooting, dribbling and passing.  His best buddy, Jack, also attended.  Luckily they lowered some of the hoops so that his shots would go in.  But in all seriousness, he is really good.  He shoots with the correct form (one hand, elbow bent, other hand bracing the ball) - which is pretty remarkable for his age.

Dirk likes to practice his golf swing in the backyard and the kids often join him with their pint-sized clubs.  It's adorable to see the three of them out there enjoying the same activity.  If Grandpa Mark has any say, Simone will be groomed to be the next LPGA great.  He says the sport is growing and there aren't many superstar American women on the tour.   We'll see if she really likes the sport in the years to come!

Cullen also participated in the Hippity Hoppity Easter race at the Y.  3 and 4-year-olds completed a 25 yard dash across the field.  It was a little disorganized (think herding cats), but Cullen still had fun running through the finish line with the rest of the shorties.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The mystery of the ripped pages.

It seems that there are several pages ripped out of Simone's favorite book, "Lulu the Ladybug Girl".  Surely it was not our darling almost-two-year-old that could be capable of tearing the pages in her book.  We have been wondering who is responsible for committing such a dastardly deed.  Grandpa Bobby, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Irish Eyes are Smiling!

Wow. He's 4!

Dirk and I can hardly believe that our little man is 4.  His birthday entailed treats at school, a visit to the park and cake and ice cream (round 2).  Wow.  He's 4!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

P-arrrrrrghty Time.

We celebrated Cullen's 4th birthday this weekend with a Jake and the Neverland Pirates themed party.  Dirk and I opted to rent out the brand new Black River Beach Neighborhood Center because of the open space and ability to host a large group (30 people).  We spread out games throughout the room - typical pirate games like Walk the Plank, Pin the Eyepatch on Jake, Hook the Rings and a Bean Bag Toss.  Tappy, a La Crosse face-painter, came to decorate the guests.  Cullen's highlight was the Pirate Ship Pinata.  Dirk rigged a the pinata off the entry-way beams.  Every kid got a chance to swing the bat, but the birthday boy did the honors of cracking the ship.  The typical chaos ensued as everyone dove for the candy.

We took the lead from cousin Jameson and decided to ask guests to bring 4 non-perishable food items in lieu of gifts (a way to teach the youngsters about helping those in need).  We plan to have Cullen personally deliver the food to one of the community food shelves this week.  A special shout out to Brigette, Mason, Annie and Dane for making the trip down and also for the helping to set up the festivities.  Thanks to Grandma Liz for drawing a life-size portrait of Jake for the Pin the Eyepatch game.  Finally, a shout out to Mimi for bringing a well-rested Simone to the  party.

Cullen loved every minute of the soiree - his favorite cousins, friends, cake and a pinata.  What more could a four-year-old as for?!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winter Lull.

Not quite sure why I named this post winter lull, because the energy level in our house is always high.  Maybe I am growing tired of the dull, gray winter weather, but Cullen and Simone seem to keep things lively.  Our little man continues to love sports.   In addition to skiing, Cullen is developing a love for another winter sport:  hockey.  Our good friend Charlie Nelson (born and raised in MN - the State of Hockey) cut down one of his sticks and gave it to Cullen.   Now he can't wait to set up his net and practice scoring.  Dirk and Cullen also started parent/child basketball at the local Y.  Last week's focus:  dribbling, bounce passes and defense.  Pictures to come....  Simone is still an avid reader.  Whenever things seem too quiet and we can't find our toddler, she is sitting in her bedroom looking at books.  Her all-time favorite is Goodnight Moon.  In fact, she insisted on bringing "Moon" to the grocery store the other day.  At the present moment, Simone's favorite member of the family is Camp.  She loves filling his dog dish with puppy food, giving him treats and tons of hugs.  It's funny because Camp and Cullen just co-existed and never really paid each other much attention.  Simone is absolutely enthralled with our pooch.  And most of the time, he doesn't seem to mind.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Potty Time.

Notice that the name of this post is not "Potty Training Time."  Simone has started to show interest in sitting on the potty.  However, she has no idea what to do once she gets there.  She keeps looking and waiting for something to happen and it nothing ever does.  We keep assuring her that sooner or later she will go pee pee on the potty.  It's a good sign that she is showing some initiative in the potty department; but we won't count on diapers being eliminated from our monthly bills just yet!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ski lesson take-away: Pizza Slice!

Cullen just completed his fourth ski lesson of the season.  The wonderful Steph Timmerman (also Simone's Daycare teacher) is the best instructor.  By his third lesson, he mastered the chair lift and Steph no longer uses the leash.  She said Cullen was apprehensive at first and kept sitting back on his skis, but after some coaching to lean forward, the little dare-devil now loves speed.  Steph still puts the edgie-wedgies on Cullen's skis to help keep them straight and allow for easy stopping.  As you will hear in the video, Steph is good at reminding Cullen to make a "Pizza Slice" when he starts to pick up too much speed.   Dirk and I now feel confident that he knows some of the basics and can take him out on our own.  But don't worry, we won't forget about Steph.  Mainly because Dirk and I love sitting in the St. Bernard Room Bar at Mt. La Crosse enjoying a pint or two while the little man is taking his lesson.  Simone also enjoys playing and snacking in the St. Bernard Room too.  When asked if she would ski with Stephie next year, she emphatically says Yes!  (I can only imagine the hell-on-skis she'll be!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Mtn is Pure Snow

The snow has arrived and we are making the most of it.  On Saturday afternoon,  Cullen and Dad ventured out to Mt La Crosse for a ski lesson...Cullen, not Dad.  Although, Dad could probably use a lesson, as he is pretty rusty.  It was a productive night that ended with Cullen making his first trip up the chair lift.  The smile that was on his face can't be described.  It was just great.  We made two runs and then Cullen informed me that he had to go potty.  This seemed like an appropriate time to call it a night.  Unfortunately, there are is no pictorial evidence of our night.  Dad doesn't have a camera attached to his hip like Mom. 

On Sunday, the family headed over to Mt Binsfeld for some sledding.  It is a small hill in our neighbors backyard.  It is the perfect size for a 3yr old and a 18mth old.  Thats right, little Simone got in on the action also.  Lisa and I took turns riding down with our little girl, although Lisa did the brunt  of the sledding, while I monitored (aka drank beer) with the proprietor of Mt Binsfeld.  The rides I took with Simone were priceless.  As soon as we would get moving, this little voice would go "whheee".  That would continue until the sled stopped at which point Simone would turn and say "again, again" and back to the top we went.  It was just classic.

The snow looks as if it is now here for the rest of winter and so we are looking forward to many more of these adventures.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Buds.

Cullen and Simone.  Simone and Cullen.  At this stage, these two are the best of friends.  Cullen affectionately refers to his sister as "Simonie" and she calls him "Broba" (translation:  brother) or "Ca-yen" (translation:  Cullen).  If you watch them interact, Cullen will run through the house and Simone will be about 10 steps behind.  They sometimes argue over toys, but for the most part, both kids are good with taking turns.  We continue to wonder how long this sweet stage will last.  The best advice:  enjoy it while it lasts!

Hide and Seek.

In the spirit of the Golden Globes, we wanted to post our movie of the year.  The plot, hide and seek.  A nightly game that Cullen wants to play.  However, the twist in this movie, is that Cullen always hides in the same place and when you are about to find him, he jumps up and yells surprise.  His co-star in this movie, the lovely Simone Swanson, is one to keep your eyes on.  She's got some real talent and and ever expanding vocabulary.  So grab some popcorn and without further adeu:  Hide and Seek