Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Great Minnesota Blogtogether!

Can you believe we're just one week away from the start of the Great Minnesota Get Together?!

I can only remember going to the Wisconsin State Fair once when I was a kid, and while I do remember the amazing, ice cold chocolate milk, I don't remember the state fair being a big deal. Upon moving to Minnesota many years ago I've learned that the Minnesota State Fair is a really big deal. And over the years I've grown to be a big fan! So when Alice put out a call for bloggers to attend the Great Minnesota Blog Together, of course I volunteered to go!

After meeting some of the other bloggers it was time to try some of the food. Ahhh... the food! At the event we got the chance to sample seven of the new, family friendly foods for this year's Minnesota State Fair and, honestly, they were all super good! I'm writing this a couple of weeks after and I'm dreaming of trying these items when I get to the State Fair next week (plus, I'm still dreaming of the pretzel cheese curds from last year, ha!).

The food we sampled was a good mix of sweet and savory. My table started with the sweets, Nothing wrong with dessert first, right? I tried the Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from the Food Building and it was amazing, because, well funnel cake + bacon + maple syrup frosting. It would make a perfect dessert for sharing at the fair. The other two desserts were a bit of a surprise for me. I loved Grandma Deb's Snicker Bar Salad from The Blue Barn. Normally, I dislike fruit in my dessert, but I could eat this snicker salad all day. So yumm! I also initially wasn't sure what to think of the caramel puff corn on the sundae, but as soon as I tried it... AMAZING! The puffs were a great, crunchy addition to the sundae. You can get the Salted Caramel Puff Sundaes and Malts from the Midwest Dairy Association Dairy Goodness Bar in the Dairy Building. I would highly recommend a visit! This flavor was chosen through the "Flavor of the Fair" hosted by Midwest Dairy earlier this year. Do you have any ideas for the 2016 "Flavor of the Fair?" Stop by the Dairy Goodness Bar during the fair to submit your suggestion.

On the more savory side, we tried Grilled Venetian-Style Pizza from Mancini's Al Fresco, Mac & Cheese Cupcake from LuLu's Public House, Stuffed Italian Meatloaf On-a-Stick from Green Mill and Tatchos from Boulevard Grill. Of the four, I think the Tatchos were my favorite. Tator tots, cheese, sour cream and bacon. Not only were they incredibly tasty, but they would be perfect for sharing which is great for state fair visits. I also really enjoyed the Mac & Cheese Cupcake and I know Little J will be thrilled to try it when we visit the fair. The Meatloaf On-a-Stick was surprisingly good, as I'm not big on meatloaf, but this had mozzarella cheese on the inside which I love. And really, who can go wrong with pizza? 

Really, everything we tried was super tasty and got me even more in the mood for the start of the state fair!


After we were stuffed full of delicious food, we got to learn more about fun for kids and families at the fair this year. One new addition to the fair this year is Math On-A-Stick created by Christopher Danielson of Talking Math with Kids. I'm really excited to check this one out with Miss A and Little J. There will be reptile-shaped tile puzzles, geometric tiles create patterns and designs and a Number Game scavenger hunt among other activities. I'm guilty of focusing on reading and letters with the girls, and not focusing so much on math skills (sorry math teacher friends!) so I'm really interested to see everything Math On-A-Stick has to offer, and get some ideas to take home with us too. Plus, I think this will be a nice, quiet(ish) place to take a break during a long day at the fair. I think we made it over eight hours at the fair last year, and that was with a tiny baby.

Of course there are many more fun things to do with kids at the fair. The Alphabet Forest, Little Farm Hands, EquiMania, Midway/Kidway and Miracle of Life building are all great spots for kids. You can check out  other tips and tricks for visiting the fair with little ones on the Minnesota State Fair's Little Tykes Pinterest board.

Tell me, what are your Minnesota State Fair favorites? What are your tips and tricks for visiting the fair with kids?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

52 Weeks: July Wrap Up

I've said it before, but we really love our neighborhood. This summer has been especially fun with all of the little girls running around together all day, most days. Some of the other parents made this awesome bike wash for the kids to play in. I haven't seen any bikes washed yet, but the kids sure do love to run through it!

Little J said this was her mask. She's been really in to The Incredibles lately.

Baby C cheering on the big girls from a safe spot in the grass.

Another big hit this summer has been lemonade stands. We don't live on a very busy street, so business tends to be slow. The girls are happy to drink the product. After some questionable customer service decisions last summer, I gave the girls special cups to drink out of so their cups wouldn't accidentally be passed on to a customer. They think they're extra big and cool with their coffee cups.

More water and drinks, this time from the hose. E likes to teach the kids new skills. And spray them with the hose.

The girls don't let a little rain stop them from playing outside. Just add rain boots and umbrellas, and playing outside is still fun.

And while the big girls are out running wild, it's nice to sneak some baby snuggles.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Baby C: 12 Months

How is my baby one?! More thoughts on that to come, but for now, Baby C's last monthly update. Woo hoo for making it through a full year (and actually the only one of the the girls that got her picture taken on the correct day each month!). 

Personality: Similar to last month's update, Baby C is overall quite happy but also demanding. She likes to be carried around. I think she doesn't want to miss out on the action. I still think she would be an even happier girl if she would start moving, but there's still no crawling happening.

Likes: Me. Daddy. Her sisters. Watching her sisters dance. Being carries around. Throwing herself backward. Eating. Playing peek-a-boo. Kicking her legs around. Trying to pull everything out of our office supply drawer. Bath time. Ice cream. Putting her fingers in my mouth when I'm feeding her. Swinging.

Dislikes: Tummy time. Bearing weight on her legs. Letting her feet touch the ground. While we were at the cabin she used her cousin's walker, and she would sit in the walker with her legs up most of the time. She tried moving around in the walker a little bit, but only mastered reverse. She also seems to get overwhelmed if other little kids get too close to her (especially Miss A, who can be a little intense).

Eating: Baby girl loves to eat. She is getting a little more selective about what she wants to eat, but eats well overall. In the past week or so she has lost interest in both bottles and sippy cups, but does love my water bottle with a straw so we'll be getting some baby straw cups soon. I'm down to nursing her just twice most days and hope to be totally done in the next couple of weeks.

Sleeping: Awesome. Baby C is sleeping solid 8-10 hour stretches at night, waking up around 6:30am most days. Most days I can nurse her at 6:30am and get her back to sleep for a couple more hours. It's wonderful, and really frees up our mornings because she doesn't need a morning nap those days. In general her nap time continues to be very flexible.

Stats: I'll update after her well child visit! I'm hoping to hear she's gaining well!

Monday, August 3, 2015

2015 Cabin Week

A few weeks ago my mom, stepdad, two sisters plus boyfriends, brother, sister in law, niece, nephew, E, the girls and I all rented a cabin in Wisconsin for a week. Not everyone could be there the entire time, but we had a few days with the whole crew. It was a great week. I got a lot of time to relax, catch up with family and enjoy time outside and lots of wine. 

We didn't have access to a boat while we were at the cabin, except a paddle boat (pedal boat... anyone know which it's actually called?). Miss A and Little J loved going out in the paddle boat and convinced almost everyone to take them out at one point or another. E and I had a bad experience with a paddle boat back before we had kids, but this one was great. I really enjoyed going out with the girls each day while we were there. 

The cabin also had a sandy area and little beach for the kids to play in. I didn't love the rocks to climb over to get in the water, but otherwise it was a nice space for the kids to play. My sisters and mom were a great help keeping an eye on my little fish while the played and played and played.

Baby C did some playing in the water, but also some watching from the grass. She wasn't totally sure about the water.

E and Little J build quite a sand castle, complete with moat. Little J though the moat needed fish. She had no problem holding the little fish that Miss A and Z caught. Miss A enjoyed fishing, but not so much holding the fish.

First time playing with sparklers!

Baby C enjoyed playing in the water with E more than she lets on.

 The big girls really loved messing with their aunties while we were at the cabin.

 Snuggling Daddy before he had to head back to work for a couple of days.

I have never been kayaking or even canoeing (at least as far as I can remember) so it was fun to use while we stayed at my brother's in law's lake house. The girls took to it pretty quickly, and had a blast riding with E and each other.

As a side note, I shared on Instagram that I had the opportunity to test out the Sunburn Alert stickers recently, and tried them out at the cabin. The girls though the stickers were awesome, and didn't want to take them off, even after they were out of the sun. I was surprised how quickly the stickers went from bright blue to white (telling me it was time to reapply sunscreen) when they were out playing the in sun and water. I'd recommend checking them out, especially for a day at in the water.