Thursday, September 5, 2013

Check us out at Rockford Parent

Hi all! I'm sorry this blog has fallen by the wayside in recent months. In our new roles at the Rockford Register Star, Brian and I are blogging and writing weekly columns. It's proven difficult to maintain all that stuff for our Rockford Parent site and also put fresh stuff on here.
But if you aren't already, please read check out all the great Ellie and Katie fodder we're posting here:

And feel free to look around the rest of, which Brian and I are pouring our heart and soul into :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Miss Manners

Here is Ellie's "please and thank you" song that she learned at school. Enjoy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dual trampoline

This pretty telling of our lives these days... even though the video is from when we were still down in Lafayette. Just found it.
Don't worry, the trampoline shenanigans have traveled with us to Rockford.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Convo with Ellie

Little Miss Ellie is keeping us on our toes these days.... has been for some time, to be honest.
She's helping me write this post, actually

Mom: What's your favorite thing to do these days?
Ellie: Umm, eat popcorn.
Mom: Who is your favorite friend at school?
Ellie: Jordan!!
Mom: Why?
Ellie: Because I like Jordan.
Mom: What is your favorite game to play?
Ellie: Barn game.
Mom: What's your favorite thing about our new house?
Ellie: We have a purple room!!

...But just today when we were pulling into the garage, Ellie said to me: "Mom, we have a cool yard."

Dad: What's your favorite color?
Ellie: Green ... and orange!
Dad: What's your favorite food?
Ellie: I like pa'sghetti!

Now she's tickling Katie mercilessly. Gotta go.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Katie: 16 months!

Our little Katie has had a busy month, making more progress with walking (but still being pretty lazy about it...), learning new words and cracking us up with her frequent laughter.
Her personality is coming out in full force these days, for good and for bad (when food is delayed or things are taken away from her...).

Got a short video this weekend to show off some of her latest tricks. Enjoy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Baby farm animals

Even though Brian finished his "Ag" job last week, we still found occasion to go to a farm exhibit at Rockford's Discover Center museum this past weekend. They had a special interactive visit area with baby chicks, ducks, rabbits, goats, lambs and pigs. Cuteness overload.
They let the kids hold many of the animals, too, which Ellie and Katie both enjoyed. To be honest, I probably enjoyed it just as much as they did :)
I'd say there will be plenty of posts on here about Discovery Center fun in the coming months. It's a pretty amazing resource for the kids, with changing exhibits, interactive learning centers and (Ellie's favorite) a water play area. Too cool.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stair master

Katie adores stairs these days and is happy to climb up and down for hours (if we'd let her). At least she's getting pretty good at it so we're not as worried about a tumble.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I can't believe I've neglected the blog so much that I haven't even formally shared the biggest news in our little family since... well, since the arrival of Katie bear.
Though most of you already know this, I should make it "blog official" by saying that we're moving. Over the next few weeks our whole little Lafayette life will be packed in boxes and/or loaded on trucks bound for Rockford, Ill., which is my hometown and the location of 2 new jobs for me and Brian.
We are thrilled, of course, by the jobs we've tied our family's future to. But there are unknowns and the normal scary parts of setting off to a new place. We also have "knowns" in Rockford, like my mom and brother's family. Ellie is over the moon excited about being closer to her 7-year-old cousin, Mason. Overall we'll also be closer to cousins Jay & Alora in Nebraska, and we'll be closer to aunts and uncles. We're about the same distance to our St. Louis-area family, which isn't ideal... but we'll only have to travel half as many times for family visits, so we're looking forward to making the trip south more often.
The past month or so of prep has been exhausting, as we've made plans and said good-byes. But Brian and I are confident in the decision we've made and the course we've set for the family.
As I write this, I'm up in Rockford on the tail-end of my first day at the Rockford Register Star. It's somewhat unbelievable for me to be back in my hometown and awaiting the arrival of the rest of the family (almost for good) at the end of this week. (Brian still has some work to finish up in West Lafayette before coming here to start on the job May 6...) But while I'm nervous about many things in this transition, I'm confident that Brian and I made this decision together and we're excited about this plan for our family. No change is simple or easy, but this is where we will build the next phase of our lives together as a family. Look out, Rockford... we're ready to take this place by storm :)

Zoo opening

 Here are some shots from our opening day trip to the Columbian Park zoo. It wasn't as warm as we'd hoped... but we still had a good time seeing the animals who were out; Ellie had a good time engaging the emus (below) and the wallabies (not pictured...)

 We also go to see some 3-day-old baby goats! Ridiculously cute!! Love this zoo and can't explain how much we'll miss it :(

Sunday, April 21, 2013

She walks!

More details, and hopefully video, to come... but wanted to share that Katie took her first wobbly step this morning! Yay!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The girls at play

We had a fun play date this past weekend with the Shutes family. It was sweet to see Katie try to join in to the older girls' play time, and it was fun (as always) to see how much Ellie and Olivia enjoy their time together. We sure are going to miss these guys, but I foresee some fun visits in the future!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Katie is still a vegetarian whenever possible, but she decided to gnaw on part of my chicken thigh the other night and then ate a bunch of meat we pulled off it for her. I won't go as far as saying she's branching out... but nice to see her sample from other food groups :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Katie: 14 months

 These action shots sum up Katie's on-the-move attitude these days. She is always trying to check things out and get into mischief. She's still not walking, per se, but she cruises a lot holding on to stuff. She probably doesn't see the need for walking because she's so dang fast when crawling. I'm sure she'll get there.
Katie's got about 3.5 teeth now, and she's drooling like crazy as more are coming in. She is still partial to fruits and veggies, though this past week she is also loving cereal with milk as a bedtime snack.
She's talkative and happy, especially when "playing" with Ellie (or meddling in Ellie's stuff). Love our little Katie :)

(*Note: Katie got in here herself, and Ellie gave her the dog bowls and then closed the crate door. She then proceeded to "feed" Katie dog treats — aka, plastic magnets from the fridge — through the sides of the crate. Please do not forward this image to DCS...)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First communion weekend

 In Rockford this past weekend we helped celebrate Mason's first communion. The girls got to break in their Easter dresses a week early... although sweaters were a must given the cold temps. It was a great visit and the girls loved spending time with their cousin :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March sledding

If we had to get 8 inches of snow this last week of March, at least we're going to enjoy it! Family sledding :)

And here is the action shots of Ellie, who once she went down by herself once ONLY wanted to go that way. What a big girl!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Story times

Ellie is becoming a gifted story teller, despite the fact that she can't read the words in her books. She entertains us almost every day with a new version of each book, sometimes loosely based on the pictures on the pages or simply from images in her own head. It's a very fun phase :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What she loves best...

Katie is almost never happier than when she's got food she loves in front of her... I guess she takes after both mom and dad in that regard. Although I snuck some pizza on her tray in this picture, Katie is very biased these days on her diet. She almost only eats fruits and veggies, when given the option, but we push other stuff to make sure she gets enough protein, etc. I know it sounds like a weird thing to complain about, but the mass volume of produce in Katie's diet spells trouble for her digestion at times... without getting into specifics, it's not pretty. But our little girl is healthy and happy overall, and I'm sure in a few months or a few years we'll be begging her to eat the fruits and veggies that right now she won't turn down :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


We took Ellie bowling for the first time this past weekend. It was quite an adventure... with plenty of laughs. I enjoyed the fact that we have someone in the group who bowled worse than me. Ellie recorded mostly 1 mph rolls down the alley (the equipment at the site told us the speed of the ball), and the ball stopped all together on one roll (getting stuck in the gutter and requiring a call to the front desk guy). At least when he came out he also set up the gutter bumpers we had previously requested.... so that allowed Ellie to actually strike a few pins. I think she had a good time trying bowling, but when the lights dimmed and music started playing (for the Saturday evening teen event), we lost Ellie to the rhythm. She is a major dancing fan, so from then on she only wanted to spin and kick her feet (a fairly dangerous venture on the slippery bowling floor)... but she survived. Katie enjoyed the people watching and general exploring, too. Even though we only made it through one game of bowling before calling it a night, I think we'll give it another go sometime.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pig parade

 I took Ellie to her first Cub Club class at the nearby zoo. They do a class every month and feature a different animal. This one was called Parade of Pigs, and we had so much fun! It's about an hour program and they spent most of it learn about different aspects of pigs, then we visited the zoo's barn and met Samson (seen above), and then it was craft time. Ellie made this very cute piggy planter (seen below). A very fun Saturday morning. Hope we get to do more of these!

Bear hunt!

If you're feeling brave enough join Ellie on this bear hunt...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nashville trip

I'm behind in posting (...again) but here are some shots from the trip we took in February down to Nashville to help celebrate Grandma Schneider's 90th birthday. We enjoyed some of the warmer Tennessee temps and hit the park near my aunt and uncle's house.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So many questions

Ellie's curiosity is boundless these days. I am constantly fielding "why" questions from our 3 1/2 year old.
In some ways, I love it. I want her to be excited about learning and understanding everything around her... but it's also daunting and time-consuming.

Just yesterday Ellie hit me with this one while we were driving to school:
Ellie: Oh no, mom! The car is filling with yucky smoke!
Me: What? (then, after looking in rear-view mirror) Oh, that's just your breath showing up because it's so cold.
Ellie: Oh. Why?
Me: Well, the stuff from your breath is freezing as you breathe out, and that makes it show up looking like that.
Ellie: Why?
Me: How bout some music...

I need to brush up on my elementary school science so I can better explain these phenomenons to Ellie.

Love our curious little one, though!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Katie at 1

Katie started in a new room at daycare this week. She's now in with 1-2 year olds... and all those mobile kids (many closer to 2 than 1) look like giants compared to our little one!
I'm trying to keep my cool and remember that Ellie survived this same transition, but it's hard when I see Katie getting swarmed by the older kids. She's definitely nervous about the new arrangement so far. She cries pretty hard at drop-off and the teachers yesterday reported that she was very clingy most of the day. But, again, I'm sure she'll be fine... right?

I should share some of the amazing things Katie is doing these days, too. She says more words: like "ball" and "baby," in addition to the ma-ma, da-da that she's done for awhile now. She can roll a ball to us. She's cruising around like a champ and SO close to walking on her own. Here's some video I caught of her driving the alphabet train around our house. (Note: As you see from Ellie's involvement in the video, Katie does have some amount of training in surviving bigger kids...)

Katie is also an eating champ and no longer has restrictions on food (like nuts or fish). She's switched entirely to whole milk and drinks only from sippy cups. Basically, our baby seems to be fading away (much faster than mom would like...) I'm so proud of this big girl.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super twirls

While Ellie and Olivia probably watched just 30 seconds total of the Super Bowl yesterday, they did put on an impromptu half-time show for the adults.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Year in pictures

 Can't believe Katie turns 1 today! More details to come but for now here are some favorite pictures from her first year. Happy Birthday, Katie!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Ellie has been cracking us up these days with both her commentary on everyday happenings and the phrasing she uses.

For example, instead of saying that she smells things she always says she smells "like" (fill in the blank). We correct it sometimes but usually just laugh and move on. I enjoyed her selling out Brian the other day when she walked in the kitchen where he was working and announced: "I smell like toot."

Ellie also thinks that she'll be a baby again some day. She'll talk about how she'll get to do things when she's older... Her recent job prospects have included bus driver, train driver or simply "be Aunt Sandy." But she also sees Katie doing baby things and tells us how she's going to have us feed her or play with baby toys when she's a baby.

Other favorite phrases from Ellie these days:

"Holy moly!"
"No way" or "Yes way" (instead saying 'No/Yes'... which makes her frequent moodiness only a bit less annoying...)
"May I please..." (when she's feeling polite)

Love our spunky little girl!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Here's Katie doing a couple of her favorite things: Her dance shimmy and eating veggies...

And here's Ellie trying out some of the vet toys she got for Christmas:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Photo fail

 Well, we tried to take the girls in for some update photos this past weekend. It did not go well... Ellie decided to be a pill for most of the session, and then had tears and/or weird faces for most of the shots. And Katie is at the point now where she doesn't like to be set down — at least not if mom and dad are in view. (Also we had the WORST customer service and the session took forever... which is not what you want with cranky kids in tow. Sigh.)
So I've included a few of the not-so-bad shots ... but it looks like we'll try for another batch of photos in a few months.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Katie 11 months

...and a few days, but better late than never.

This past month has marked the most significant series of changes for our baby girl, I think. Just in the past couple weeks Brian and I feel like we have a new baby on our hands. Here's a look at her top 10 at 11 months:

1. Crawling!! She's a beast on the move these days. Yes, she arrived late to the crawling party, but now she's making up for lost time and getting her move on. When on smooth floors she often reverts back to her scooting moves, but on carpeting she full-on crawls and can cover ground pretty quickly. It's a lot of fun to watch even though it has required to baby-proofing and quick reflexes on our part. Her favorite targets so far are the dog water bowl and outlets.
2. Personality. Katie is still a pretty darn easy-going baby girl, but she's starting to make her views known more often -- and with higher volume. She shrieks when hungry, of course, but also if we take away an unsafe toy or Ellie steals her toys. I'm glad she has some opinions, but I have a feeling we have a long (loud) road ahead with these two young ladies.
3. Healthy. I'll include this one even though we're pretty sure she developed pink eye in the last 24 hours... but overall Katie is the healthiest she's been in about 2 months. No more ear infections (hopefully) and she finally licked the sinus infection from December. She is so much happier now that her nose isn't a faucet and her head isn't full of... gross stuff.
4. Eating machine. This little girl can put some food away. She's really good at finger foods now, and she goes through trays of corn and peas like it's nothing. Other favorites include: all carbs. She loves bread, bagels, pasta, etc. It's a lot more fun feeding her now that her only limitations are some dairy, eggs, fish and nuts. Hopefully we're growing another adventerous eater.
5. Dancing. Katie is still a mover and shaker. So much fun to get her to dance just by wiggling in front of her. I think she is developing a real love of music, too, because she's much calmer in the car when we have tunes going, and it seems to hold true at home, too.
6. Laughing at sister and plenty of other sights. Katie has a great giggle, and she laughs a lot when Ellie plays "boo" with her or generally jokes around. Lots of fun to watch :)
7. Grabbing everything. Nothing is safe around Katie. Nothing. She has an insane reach and I foresee lots of interesting problems arising from this in the coming months.
8. Crazy hair. Katie has long locks and plenty of curl, especially when just getting out of the tub. I have to brush and detangle often given her mobility and the resulting head-rubbing on her matress, the carpet, etc.
9. Sitting up and playing during nap time... she's still a great sleeper overall, but Katie in recent weeks has figured out she can get up into a sitting positing during naps. This required an immediate lowering up her crib mattress, and it often requires us to remind her to lay down during nap so she'll fall asleep. Of course, there are times when we let her go and she plays contentedly until collapsing (usually face forward) onto the matress for her nap. Funny stuff.
10. Absolute angel. Can't describe just how much love this little girl has squeezed out of us already. She amazes us every day with her growth and smiles and smarts. While I'd be happy to stop the clock for awhile (because this year is flying by WAY too fast), I can't wait to see what the coming months have in store for our family.