Monday, November 28, 2011


Our Thanksgiving weekend is just about over and soon we will be back to the normalcy of another work week.  Going back to work, however, seems much more manageable, and even a little welcomed, as it's only a few short weeks until another, even longer break to celebrate family, and friends, good food, and lots and lots of simple pleasures of home.  

It's one of the perks of being a teacher.  While I do love my job, there's always a break to look forward to.  And Thanksgiving Break is a mere prequel to the longer break of Christmas.  An opportunity for hibernation, restoration, and renewing.
And if our prequel is any preview of the show that follows, I'll buy a ticket and stand in line even longer than the line at Old Navy on Black Friday.  Because just as my (two) $29 coats were totally worth the hour and a half line at midnight last Friday, time with the family during the holidays is worth the wait.  The holidays have this wonderful way of adding a glimmer to the normal, a spark to the ordinary. 

All weekend long, I watched Cruz, tried to soak in his reactions to all the holiday fun, and thought about how much he has changed in a year.  Last year's Thanksgiving break was a vivid one for me.  It was our first holiday with a baby, just a month into parenthood, and all was new, exciting, and a little scary.  And now, just a year later, life has changed so much, yet, we still slipped into many of the same traditions as last year.  There was a fragility to last year, a newness, and preciousness to everything---we over-packed diaper bags, worried about disrupting new routines and full night's sleeps, and watched the Holiday Hoopla from the window of Soho for fear that our newborn baby would get too cold in the crisp November air.  This year, we completed the same tasks with ease, comfort, and contentment.  We savored this fun stage Cruz is in, and tried to introduce him to the traditions we love.  Of course, everything had this sticky 'toddler' feel to it, from the french toast we made Thanksgiving morning, to the heirloom ornaments that hang slightly crooked this year.  The time-stamp of the holidays is a perfect time to see the change that occurs when you raise kids.  Because just like last year, next year will be different, with many of the same traditions handled and treated in a whole new way.  

Our Thanksgiving was filled with all the fixins'---good food and family, lots of laughter, and the makings of our gingerbread house.  I took lots of pictures to document our vacation, and will let them do the talking.  

...there was a slow-moving Thanksgiving morning at home, complete with fluffy french toast, fresh berries, and lots and lots of bacon.  Cruz may not have chowed down on the Thanksgiving spread as I had hoped for, but he went to town on his breakfast.  It's true his brown eyes are from his mama, but his love of bacon is an inherited trait from his daddy!

...there was a Thanksgiving Eve tradition of a night out to eat, this year with tacos and fresh guac at Rudys.  Cruz caused quite a stir with his new fur bomber hat, and flirted with the lady in the booth next to us.  We introduced him to the frightening marionette puppets, and let him devour his very own cheese quesadilla.   

...there was a sleepy Cruz and the first Scrabble game in about a year.  Beau and I went all out.  We poured wine and bought fancy goat cheese and crackers.  And while Beau usually takes the lead in a good game of Scrabble, my blogging habit may have helped me in the words department---I walked away with two wins, Beau, none.

...there were many Thanksgiving preparations, including - handmade, hand-print turkeys from daycare, cute pilgrim hat cookies, and two pans of sweet potato casserole.  There was a clean kitchen that only lasted until the next mealtime, garland on the porch, and a new string of snowflake lights on the Christmas tree.

...there was above average temps. for Thanksgiving, a possible record breaking day of mid-sixties, long sleeves, and no coats.  We even had some time to play outside and give Cruz some experience walking through still-green grass.

...there was yummy food at Grandmas...

...and more yummy food at Gabe and Gina's,
...and the arrival of Santa from a helicopter in the sky at the Holiday Hoopla Friday night.  I think every little in the Cedar Valley was there to march down Main Street with Santa Claus.  Cruz was a little leery of the helicopter and fireworks show, and was pretty stone-faced through the festivities.  This year, Jill and Rob decided to join in on the Hoopla fun, and we met Chris, Windee, and the kiddos at our usual Hoopla destination, Soho, for some sushi and a pre-Hoopla cup of cheer (martini).  Although I was a little tired from my Black Friday shopping just ten hours before, we had fun strolling the streets and watching the fireworks light up the sky and the spirits of hundreds.  

I just love our Main Street during the holidays...

...There was a storybook Saturday of decorating our house and trimming our tree.  While we did discover that our first fire in the fireplace brought a little more stress than last year, we think Cruz understands the word, 'hot,' now, and while fascinated with all things pyro, he decided to stay away from it for the most part.  The ornaments and tree branches is another story!  Cruz's best moment during decorating, however, came when he decided it was really cool to stand on top of the Rubbermaid box that held the ornaments.  It made him tall enough to reach the end table, thus, tall enough to pull over the lamp, another little Christmas tree, and a glass candle.  Luckily, we survived our night without an accident, and were able to find some peaceful moments within our chaos!

Don't call Child Services, yet, it's childproofed ;)

What else goes in our time capsule for Thanksgiving 2011? about a warm bowl of wild rice soup, soup that even our Cruzer can't refuse.

...chicken wing dip on a Sunday afternoon, and a near Bears win with Jay Cutler on the sidelines.

...a new sermon series at church called, 'The Coming,' and an interrupted prayer to learn that Cruz had fallen off a Little Tikes picnic table in the children's ministry nursery.  

...a funny trip to Beau's office, aka, an amusement park for Cruz.  Who needs a pass to the Waterloo Youth Pavilion when you have desk chairs to spin in circles, Culligan water dispensers to drink from, and an endless supply of keyboards to work on. Christmas music, including an old friend, Jack Johnson's, 'Someday at Christmas.'  

...flannel sheets on the bed,

...a filled advent calendar patiently awaiting December 1st,

...and lots of kisses from my little turkey.  

Lots and lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  As my stomach has settled after the heaping platefuls of delicious food, my heart continues to be stuffed with the good stuff.

Happy Monday. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And so it begins...

Thanksgiving week.  Today, I took a pit-stop on the way to work to pick up my first Eggnog Latte of the season.  And although the fact that Starbucks was out of their festive red cups almost sent me out the door without my latte, the first hot sip that sent that liquid warmth all the way to my toes was enough to make me forgive Mr. Starbuck.  It's joy in cup, a simple pleasure that's worth the $4.55 every now and then.

Today in class, I made my high school students share a holiday tradition they love to take part in with their families.  I loved watching their faces light up as they spilled the beans on what characterized 'home for the holidays' to them.  Red jello salad with a pretzel crust for Charlie, a day watching every single Indian Jones movie with her family for Emily, and a Chinese food and a cozy movie in the theater for Jocelyn.  And although my class was made of all different types of students, different background and races, religious beliefs and family types, there was a strong feeling of togetherness as we shared our own comforts of home. 

Tonight is a sort of 'eve' for the holiday season.  I'm feeling very TGIF, as today is the last school day of the week.  I love how everything takes on a new sense of anticipation during the holidays.  Take cleaning for instance.  Usually, cleaning is a chore, a habit, however, during the holidays, it's as if I'm readying the house for a visit from the queen herself.  I dance around the house to the sounds of Bing Crosby, and pretend our house exists within a snow globe.  One of those Christmas scenes fit for the December calendar.  The scene this year may have to include the occasional pacifier, damp washcloth, and vTech toy, but that will add a sense of life to it I guess. 

I'm looking forward to all that is this week. Grandma Hoodjer's stuffing and carrot casserole. Cruz's first taste of all the Thanksgiving classics that I find myself craving in July. watching football (or listening to it as background noise) while the turkey settles.  My dad is stoked about the 49ers on Thanksgiving night, and I'm excited for everyone to be together. possibly joining the ranks of the Black Friday crowd a little earlier this year.  I've 'early'ed' my time each year since college, first starting the day when the diehards were already in bed, then starting at sunrise, and just last year, waiting in line at JC Penney's for a pair of uber cheap Christmas trees.  Every year, it's something weird, something I would never EVER wait in line for any other day of the year.  But there's something about my love of shopping that thrives on days like this.  The rush, the coffee, the accepted roll-out-of-bed-and-throw-on-your-uggs look that everyone has, and the lines that extend to the back walls of Target.  This year, a lot of stores open at midnight, and I haven't decided if I support this or not.  

...time at home with my boys.  I have plans for french toast and apple cider, tree trimming, and a much anticipated fire in the fireplace.  I know the weather forecast is talking 60s for Thanksgiving, but we may just have to pretend during tree trimming.  My tree is up but begging for our annual ornament hanging, and Cruz has decided it's awesome to army crawl in a circle at the base of the tree.  

...scouring the Thanksgiving Day ads for hot deals and $10 Younkers coupons.

...curling up a little deeper under the covers knowing morning won't come quite so early.

...a carpet picnic and Christmas movie.  

...PLAYTIME and all the 'normal' stuff with Cruz.  Snacks and mornings in pajamas, play dates in the toy room, and afternoon naps together.  

Hoping the holiday weekend goes slow!  Wishing all of you lots of comforts this Thanksgiving week. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Christmas List

It's started.  Last year, I was on maternity leave during the holiday season and came to the conclusion that tackling the holiday decorating at our house was best done in a few small increments as opposed to one entire day during Thanksgiving Break.  This is because I have one vague memory of a Saturday after Thanksgiving, being knee-deep in garland, starting to grow cross eyed from little white lights, and forgoing plans of a simple night munching on appetizers and sipping on wine because my decorating overkill was making me feel like Scrooge.  I remember being high up on a chair in my kitchen, stringing lights on yet another piece of garland, crying and hating Christmas decorating.  And that, my friends, is when my marathon decorating spree came to an end.  Because like anything around the holidays, I was so over the over-done-ness.  So, instead of cutting back (after all, those poor pieces of garland look forward to their month of fresh air), I decided to spread out my decorating.  And while it's tradition to trim our tree and put the final touches on our little gingerbread house the weekend after Thanksgiving, I'm a much happier elf when the job is half done by then.  Let's just say I have a lot of Christmas trees for a little house ;)

So, little by little, I have packed away fall and began to string our house with evergreen and sparkly lights.  Surprisingly so, Cruz is pretty disinterested in the decor thus far, however, I'm holding my breath until the tree is up.  I have a feeling he won't lay peacefully under the tree like he did at this time last year ;).  Just as long as the tree doesn't end up on top of him!

Today, I'm listening to Christmas music for the first time this season, dreaming of nights at home with my boys by the fire, watching Elf or It's a Wonderful Life, or snuggling as a family in a dimly lit church on Christmas Eve.  The magic of the season is inspiring to me, a reason to revisit old memories of familiar holiday traditions, and a call to create and add to the bank of new ones.  Because there will always be Celine Dion's Christmas CD (sorry Beau), green Cornflake Christmas wreaths with a hint of almond, and a new pair of pajamas to open on Christmas Eve.  But this year will also bring new, unexpected, and welcomed traditions for our family.  Traditions fit for a toddler in training.  I wonder if Raffi has a Christmas CD?

So, this blog would not be complete without a list.  A list for the season of magic, of old and new traditions, and of course, a night of blanket tents and Elf.  

1.  Put flannel sheets on our bed
2.  Go see Santa - except I think Cruz Man will be terrified
3.  Go look at Christmas lights in our pjs
4.  Complete several random acts of kindness around our city
5.  Fill an advent calendar for Cruz with little treats and lots of fun activities to complete together
6.  Go sledding
7.  Buy a fun winter hat
8.  Jingle and Mingle on Main with the girls (and Beau and Jordan)
9.  Me, a bowl of popcorn, and Jimmy Stewart from It's a Wonderful Life
10. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas with Cruz
11. New pajamas for all of us.  A Christmas Eve tradition.
12. One, just one, last minute shopping trip.  
13. A movie theater night with Beau - 'tis the season for really great blockbusters!
14. A gingerbread house
15. A quick pit-stop on the way to work for a red Starbuck's cup filled with Eggnog Latte

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another DIY...

With a $7.99 canvas from the Lobby and some super fun paint markers, I was in craft-mode last weekend...

It was fun to make because I wanted there to be imperfections.  They are my favorite part.

I love what it says and love how it looks in Cruz's toy room.  We read it together and talk about what our rocketship will look like.  

Children are Miraculous.   

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Parenthood.

Well, it's been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs this past week or so, but I'm feeling like we're turning a corner tonight.  I would have never guessed this if you asked me last night as I was shivering from the couch, wrapped in blankets, nursing my fifth or so consecutive day of fever.  I would have never guessed this if you asked me this morning when a disheveled Beau made his way up from the basement holding a wide-eyed (and not sleepy) Cruz and woke me up to inform me it was 6:37, exactly 33 MINUTES FROM THE TIME I HAVE TO BE OUT THE DOOR FOR WORK!  At this point, I probably would have bypassed the shower, however, after freezing, then sweating, freezing, and then sweating some more all night last night, a shower was a must.  And Cruz, who last night decided he wasn't exactly tired, decided to wake up at around one a.m., and go on a house tour of sleep positions with his father.  So, while my dear husband watched Wolf Man with Cruz at 3 o'clock in the morn., I laid in bed and felt like a middle aged woman in menopause.  

Earlier this week, I was hit by the strep throat bug that was circulating at Cruz's daycare, as well as the hallways at school.  I have never had strep throat, however, knew that the fever, chills, and disgusting white spots on my throat spoke more than a simple sore throat.  This lovely little bug followed a cold and sinus infection just a week before---needless to say, I am ready to feel back to normal again.  Thankfully, my boys have stayed healthy thus far, and I'm praying it continues to stay this way.  Like I said, we're on the up swing.  

Despite my attempts to gargle with saltwater, flood my throat with liquids, and go through an endless supply of Vitamin C drops, we've been having fun at the Jorgensen residence.  I guess you have no other choice when you become a parent.  Cruz doesn't exactly understand the 'put-on-my-favorite-pair-of-mukluks-and-sip-a-hot-cup-of-tea' remedy to fight the cold and flu bug.  So, we take care of each other, the three of us, in the best way we know how.  Beau, by filling up my purple UNI water bottle and forcing me to get my liquids, Me, by surprising Beau with a home-cooked meal of raviolis and red sauce when he arrived home tonight, and Cruz, by giving us lots to laugh about.  After all, they do say laughter is the best medicine...
Urlacher is a Walker...
That's right, Cruz is walking up a storm.  He went from a couple wobbly steps, to a few steady ones, to now, walking across a room, in a matter of a few weeks.  While he can crawl much faster, and still chooses this the majority of the time, we can get up and go pretty easy.  He keeps his balance best when he's not excited, however, this is tough as HE'S ALWAYS EXCITED to be walking!  He thinks he's super cool, and since there's usually a target in sight (a great grandpa in Scheels, egg shakers at Kindermusik, or a kitty cat in the living room) he is very determined to reach his destination.  I love the walking and can't wait to chase him around this winter!

I love Beau's face here.  Now that's a watchful daddy...

And when Cruz isn't walking on his own two feet, he's become pretty good at walking on his knees.  I tell him he looks a little silly, however, I'm learning Cruz is a lot like his dad---the giggles instigate him!

His 'Urlacher' face---


Since he was very young, Cruz has loved playing.  Lately, I've been attempting to rotate his toys, keeping different toys in different rooms to try and maintain a 'newness' factor.  It's hilarious watching him concentrate on a new discovery and begin to show evidence of quite an imagination.  Lately, he carries a toy spatula (thank Kyle and Jen), and a plastic cup around wherever he goes.  Then, he finds little objects around the house to put in his cup and 'stir' with his spatula.  Little slips of paper, leftover Cheerios, cat food, you name it.  I'm just glad to see it's not going in his mouth. 

An Apple a Day

Cruz is hilarious with apples.  It's the only food he actually slows down to eat.  I think that's because he actually prefers the skin on the apple and would store it in his cheeks like a chipmunk if I'd allow it.  He's happiest when it's fresh out of the fridge, but will stay busy in his highchair for a half hour at a time.  He takes a bite, chews for awhile, then laughs at himself as if he knows he's definitely too little to be eating apples like that.  We monitor, however, usually with Flip cameras and DSLRs in hand.  


Gotta have a close up...

I couldn't resist.  Cruz thought it was funny.

Cruz may not know the meaning of most of the 'words' he spouts off on a daily basis, there's one word he knows: HI.  He says 'hi' at all the right times---in the morning when we get him from his crib, when he peeks around the bathroom door in the morning as his dad is getting ready, or right before he nuzzles into my shoulder after greeting a young girl.  He knows it works, therefore, he plays on his strengths.  If I could have a dollar every time I heard his high-pitched 'hi' throughout the day, I'd be a wealthy woman!  

While recovery has been slower than normal, and I haven't been able to bounce back as quick as I may have pre-Cruz, I'm enjoying my medicine.  I guess it's just one of those things---kind of like the fact that I know the words to Raffi's 'Down by the Bay' by heart, but struggle to keep up with the latest chart-topper on iTunes.  It's why Hop on Pop is read more than my students' persuasive essays, or why my quick and easy ten-minute ravioli tasted far better tonight because Cruz decided he liked it, too. 

It's parenthood, and it's just right.  

And now, for your viewing pleasure, proof that Cruz is a walking machine!  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Lucky Thirteen

Last night, instead of rocking Cruz to sleep in the living room recliner, I snuck back to his room, sank into his Great Grandma J's off-white recliner, and rocked my boy in the quietness I so often neglect.  In a room with dimmed lights, no television, and a blanket I once used to swaddle my tiny one just over one year ago, I was able to drink in the silence and drink in this boy who is almost too big for my arms.  I sat in the silence and tried to memorize his face as if I was studying for this great big exam in the course called, Life.  Soon, I drifted off into those first weeks of parenthood, the weeks of figuring things out.  Nights spent breastfeeding my little one in the middle of the night, listening to the Beatles Rock-a-Bye CD, feeling as if I was the only one up in the whole entire world.  Life, especially parenting, is all about stages.  And while they change about the time it seems you've finally figured them out, it's a lot about giving up the control and enjoying the good that comes with each.  But some things, like the look of your baby's face as they sleep in the quietness of the night is one stage that never gets old.

October came and went about as fast as Cruz's birthday party seemed to go.  Now, we're left with November, the remains of the first snowfall, and a very active one year old boy.  Cruz is morphing from a baby to a toddler every day.  He's active and he's persistent, and he's definitely all boy!  Grace is definitely not a quality in Cruz's repertoire!  He does everything with a sort of roughness to it, from turning the pages of a book, to banging a drum at Kindermusik.  It seems I'm saying phrases like 'be gentle, Cruz' on a daily basis, and I'm starting to see some evidence in the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate--- especially when I witness Cruz interact with his cousin, Charly.  

The other night, my family got together at my brother's for dinner.  Charly, being about eight months older than Cruz, does everything with a hint of grace to it, from picking up her strawberries with her index finger and thumb, to stirring her play pots and pans as if she learned from Rachel Ray herself.  Cruz, on the other hand, reminds me of those crazy chefs from Iron Chef America, the ones who complete every task with a zealousness or eagerness to it.  I've rarely seen him take a bite without shoving his entire fist in his mouth, and lately, he's taken to playful head-butting and what we call, 'crawl tackling.'  If you get in a Cruz crawling position, he'll playfully and fervently charge toward you as fast as his knees will take him, butting heads before toppling over sideways.  A few times, he even tried this escapade with his cousin on Saturday, to which Charly thought was pretty funny.  It's very very fun to watch the two of them interact, and I'm sure this will continue to blossom.

Cruz is doing lots of new things, and has such funny quirks that leave us laughing out loud on a daily basis.  Our month started with a not-so-fun doctor's appointment-- by far the worst one yet.  At one year, they are far more aware than the appointments prior, not to mention they get a total of FOUR shots, and the worst yet, a finger prick!  By the time we actually got to the shots, Cruz was exhausted from crying and scared to death of the stethoscope, scale, and ear probe.  Speaking of scale, our little linebacker is growing!  Despite his noticeable decrease in appetite, he weighed in at a whopping 24 pounds, 6 ounces, and measured at 31 inches long!  He's above the 50th percentile in both, 68th in weight, 75th in height.  While the finger prick and preventative care measures were catastrophic at first, they were nothing a good nap and McDonalds Happy Meal couldn't cure.  

Cruz is starting to get a little mind of his own when it comes to eating, and decides very quickly whether he likes or dislikes something.  When he has something he likes, he wastes no time eating it, however, if he doesn't like something, he'll immediately spit it out, then proceed to take his fingers and scrape his tongue as if to remove every last taste.  He can spot a new food a mile away, and will casually ignore us as we spoon up a bite.  He's a big fan of fruit, and could put down a banana or an entire pineapple in a single sitting.  He loves his grains, loves all 'breakfast type food,' and is a big fan of green beans, yet, pretty inconsistent when it comes to meat, veggies, and cheese.  We keep persisting, however, keep picking up unwanted pieces of food that find their way on our kitchen floor, and occasionally find a new go-to food.  Most recently, it's my mom's Ah-mazing cheesy potatoes.  Cruz was a very big fan.

As I said earlier, Cruz is a huge fan of fruit, and has lately taken to eating his fruit as an adult.  The other day, I gave him a bite of my very crispy Honeycrisp apple.  He grinned as he gnawed through a piece of apple flesh, then promptly demanded 'moh.'  Now, every time we open the fridge door in proximity to Cruz, he grabs an apple out of the crisper drawer, lifts it up to us and demands 'moh.'  The other night, however, Cruz took matters in his own hands.  While we were busy cooking dinner, Cruz was busy biting through his very own apple.  With both hands clasped tightly around the fruit, he knew exactly what to do, as if he's been eating apples for weeks.   

Our last can of formula is gone, now replaced with numerous sippy cups of whole milk.  Cruz still gets a bottle before bed, but I guess it's time to start weening this, too.  It's hard to let go of this final 'baby' thing...the next thing I know we'll be looking for a big boy bed!  I recently realized just how 'old' my boy was getting when I noticed that many of the cute footie sleepers are only made through size 12 months!  I've found myself fanatically searching through baby aisles and kids' catalogs, just checking to see if sleepers come in Cruz's size.  I've had some luck, but secretly miss those tiny button up one pieces in the wintertime.

Cruz is demonstrating lots of new learning and making many new discoveries.  At daycare, he gets to participate in a range of fun learning activities, from singing songs at Monday chapel, to finger painting, crafting, and having dance parties!  Most recently, Cruz debuted as an animal on Noah's Ark in his daycare's annual children's program.  While he was allowed a speaking part yet, he did look awfully cute on stage.  In a room full of proud parents, my heart skipped a beat when Cruz picked us out in the crowd and smiled an adorable toothless smile.  I even managed to get it on camera!

Cruz loves his toys, loves music, and loves to DANCE.  He takes his dancing very seriously, and it's the cutest thing to watch his concentration face as he attempts to move to a beat.  He's a big fan of Kindermusik, a big fan of his play piano at home, and a big fan of Raffi.  I love this characteristic, and hope he continues to demonstrate a love for music as he ages.  Now, if only we could get him into books!

Cruz recognizes a lot of words and phrases, and has a bank of about five he uses accurately and consistently.  He says, 'HI,' all the time, and says it at the cutest times.  He also says, 'kitty,' 'mama,' 'dad,' and 'moh,' for 'more.'  When he's not saying anything coherent, Cruz is talking---all the time.  He jabbers to himself, will have entire conversations with you when he's about to do something he knows he shouldn't, and tries to reason with you when he does do something he shouldn't.  We have these conversations when Cruz is about to climb the stairs, throw his pacifier in the trash can, or unravel yet another roll of toilet paper.  

Finally, the walking thing.  About three weeks ago, Cruz took his first legit steps.  He stands by himself all the time, can squat to pick up a toy and end up back in standing position after, and will walk back and forth from me to Beau.  We are not, however, into the official walking stage yet.  For now, crawling is Cruz's chief form of mobility.  I'm not exactly sure what's holding him back, but balance is definitely not a strong suit right now!

Our boy at 13 months is a fun one!  He giggles at himself, and likes to make people laugh.  He gives big, wet, slobbery kisses on demand, but gets annoyed when I ask for them too much.  He knows that blankets signal sleep time, and continues to sleep for 10-12 hours every night.  He imitates everything, can be defiant at times, but can turn on the charm in seconds.  Beau and I find ourselves laughing in astonishment everyday at the quirks and charms of our little man. 
Happy Lucky 13, Cruz Bennett!  We love you :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

101 in 1001 - an update

It's been awhile since I've updated my 101 in 1001 list, and as promised, here is my progress.  

24.)  Finish our basement...for the third time.  
While it isn't quite the Pottery Barn vision I had in my head, it's finished, it's functional, and it was affordable.  Finishing our basement has been quite the adventure, but the Floods of 2008, one Beaver Dam lining the entire room, and the discovery of a wood laminate that can be wet later, we now have a family room just right for family movie nights, as well as a toy room to hold Cruz's own little Toys 'R Us store.  

Right after the luscious wood paneling was removed...too bad I didn't score a picture of it, however, it's one sight I don't care to have in my memory...

Next step, dry wall, dry wall dust, and more dry wall dust.  MUST RECORD ON PAPER: Beau said he WILL NEVER AGAIN APPLY OR SAND DRYWALL.  We also discovered just how tough it is attempting home improvement with a busy pre-toddler.  

And, our work-in-progress.  We still have to touch up paint and get something on the walls, but it's a fun, child-proof place for Cruz to hang out without being distracted by the numerous 'adult' possessions upstairs.  This $20 table we scored from IKEA is definitely a favorite of Cruz's, and the picture frame wire we hung for all of his art projects is a favorite of mine.  A place to display my boy's creative spirit, so to speak... 

Cruz loves his little play world, and I love having a place to go with his toys.  We've spent many nights down here together, building towers as tall as his table, pushing cars on the smooth floor, and coloring on over-sized sheets of white paper.    

Playing school with Daddy...

Fortunately, Cruz no longer attempts to climb onto the the tiny table #daredevil...

And speaking of IKEA...

34). Go to an IKEA store.  
A few weeks ago, Beau, Cruz, and I escaped for a little getaway to the Twin Cities.  I love little getaways like this- not anything too crazy, just a break from the day-to-day routines of life.  We went to visit our friends' new baby boy, and cozy'ed up in a hotel room Friday night.  Saturday morning, after Cruz took his first bath away from home (in a tub at the Double Tree Hotel), we had pancakes at Denny's and shopped 'til we dropped at IKEA.  

I didn't snap pictures of the experience because quite simply, I was overwhelmed.  The people, the lines, and the Yahtzee-type notepads and half pencils used to mark where items are in the storeroom were enough to make me a little dizzy.  Cruz, however, loved the excitement and especially loved the carts.  We were able to find a few deals to help us complete our basement project, however, didn't get to experience the frozen yogurt and meatballs we've heard so much about.  I guess there's our reason to go back :)

We just couldn't be in Bloomington without a trip to the Mall of America.  It was Cruz's first experience at the Mega Mall and needless to say, he was enthralled.  We threw pennies in the marble fountain outside Bloomingdales, checked out the new Lego giants at Lego Land, and took a ride on the carrousel at Nickelodeon Universe.  


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