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It was a cold morning the Sunday before Thanksgiving and it was the one day of the season that the All Stars were scheduled to appear on the plaza before the game. It was also the day after our first snowfall. After getting myself mostly ready (my A-team was also scheduled to perform on the plaza) and then finding out that due to the cold the old ladies were staying home. At least the rest of my team stayed home where it was warm. I still had to go out with Anna. I put on some warmer clothes and grabbed a blanket then headed downtown. And it was cold!

The MVC All Star Purple team on the plaza. (Anna’s in the middle.)

Kicks were kept down a bit so as not to get injured in the cold.

Poms in the slush on purpose…really.

Dancing up a storm.

I think the move after this the slush went flying from their shoes into the crowd. The little girls in front of me loved that.

Still smiling despite the cold.

Anna and a friend.

Another friend and old teammate was a pleasant surprise to see.

Do we look cold?

Here is the team performing:

At the end of our fall hike, there was time to play on the playground that Ellie just happened to know about…(she’d been there on a school trip).

There really was a sign next to this slide that encouraged you to “slide like otters” on your belly. So Jeff and Ellie made like an otter…

Jeff’s birthday falls 3 days after mine and he loves to tease that we are the same age (at least for those few days each year). I baked a spice cake and Ellie helped with the decorations. (More sprinkles–because you need those on a birthday cake!)

Ellie had the coffee table all set for her Dad’s arrival home. The gifts, cards, cake and balloons all were in order.

 

Guess what they’re singing?

 

Father and daughter.

 

Ellie picked out this  little bear for her Dad. I think it’s so he has his own stuffed animal for when they play.

 

Jeff checking out some of his new classical music CDs.

 

New running shorts to help keep him motivated (and they’re not black).

 

Enjoying Anna’s card.

 

Anna’s clever collection of  Jeff-isms. Our favorite was Jeffy peanut butter.

 

Quite an original tribute to her favorite step-dad.

 

A Dad and his kids. Happy birthday honey–you’re still a year older!

One week ago I turned 48 and I admit to being middle aged now. Besides the changing of my age, a lot of other things in life are changing. I’ve started a new job–so far just part-time, but I’m so enjoying working with a wonderful group of professionals. Physically I’m more aware of my diet, eating healthier, exercising 5 out of 7 days, drinking lots of water (and almost no pop) and minimizing sweets. And spiritually, my husband and I are in agreement with changes for our family. I am embracing these life changes, because, really what choice do you have?! I’m not in charge. So many of these changes are answers to prayers that I’ve had for so long. I’m excited to see where God is leading in my life and family.

Ellie and Jeff baked dark chocolate brownies and added pink frosting and sprinkles (because it’s just not a birthday treat without sprinkles).

Looks yummy!

One of my presents to start the holiday season.

Smiles on the birthday girl.

Celebrating with some of my kids…missing two (Brandon at college and Anna at tumbling practice). I did have a mini celebration with both girls after school at the Dairy Queen. Brandon sent me birthday greetings on facebook.

 

Us..aren’t we a cute couple! After our short family celebration Jeff took me out to dinner where I enjoyed a wonderful grilled salmon.

It was a wonderful birthday and I know it’s going to be a wonderful year for me.

Anna recently started participating on a competitive cheer team in the area and a week ago her team had their first competition. It was an exciting event with many good teams.

Anna’s team really brought the energy and attitude and did everything they were suppose to do.

 

I was so proud of my girl and her teammates.

 

All three teams.  The youngest team took first place in their division. The senior team was there for support but did not participate due to too many injuries.

 

A third place finish was something to be proud of.

It was the night before Halloween and pumpkins needed carving in order to be ready to stand vigil outside our door.

Getting ready to work.

Ellie came up with a plan on the way to the pumpkin patch the previous day so out came her drawings to work from as she carved.

Dad supervised the carving. But she really didn’t need much help this year for the first time. I guess for Ellie, 7 is the magic age for pumpkin carving.

The work area. I prepared Anna’s pumpkin since she was out shopping with a classmate for their party.

A pumpkin carved.

See how it matched the plan.

Ellie and Daddy.

Mommy and Ellie and Belle (her doll). The smaller Christmas tree pumpkin was for Belle.

Anna arrived home in time to carve her pumpkin.

I think she is positively in love with her pumpkin man.

 

Now we are ready for Halloween!

Two days before Halloween and the girls ask, “Are we going to get pumpkins?” Of course we are! And of course we headed to our favorite spot: Peter’s Pumpkins and Carmen’s Corn. Jeff passes this place on his way to and from work daily and we love seeing Anna’s former Spanish teacher, Carmen when we visit.

OK, so maybe Anna is a bit big for a wagon ride.

Ellie is a much better size (at least yet this year) for Jeff to pull.

Not so fond of this odd-shaped pumpkin. It went back.

Jeff and Ellie headed one way looking for the perfect pumpkin.

While Anna headed another way.

Here’s the one Ellie liked.

Anna picked this one.

And Ellie needed a second one for her doll this year.

Pumpkin weight lifting.

Girls among the pumpkins.

Jeff and the girls and pumpkins.

Me and girls and pumpkins.

Sisters.

Carmen and Anna. Carmen was Anna’s Spanish teacher for six years.

Another cool crisp fall morning in Minnesota a another chance for the MVC All Stars to support a great cause. This past weekend it was “Stepping Out to Stop Diabetes”.

The girls in their new warm up sure look sharp!

“Madonna” of the St. Paul Saints had to show off her moves to the girls.

A quick jog to keep warm.

Our super coaches: Melissa, Sarah, Krisan and Stephanie.

Anna and Morgan doing what they do best: dancing.

The group got the crowd warmed up with some music by Radio Disney.

At the starting line.

Coercing Madonna into meeting Gordy.

They meet at last…

Posing with Madonna.

TC stopped by for some bear hugs.

He also wanted to pose with the girls.

Gordy of the Minnesota Wild got the kids ready for the fun run.

Cheering the kids on at the start.

And at the finish line.

It was the second weekend in a row for birthday parties for Ellie (not that she minded). This one was for our next door neigbor who turned 3. Ellie loves to play “big sister” to her. The party was held at Chuck E Cheese and it had been years since I had been there. It hasn’t changed: the kids, the noise, the games and the pizza. The birthday girl had about 25 guests and most of their parents celebrating with her. The parents went all out providing food, lots of game tokens for the kids, balloons, treat bags and ice cream cake. All that for a 3-year-old.

There were creatured to bop on the head.

Races to win.

Places to jockey for position.

You can tell what Ellie thought of this ride by her expression–blah!

Dancing up a storm and showing off those moves.

Screaming with the birthday girl on the roller coaster simulator. I think this was Ellie’s favorite since she went on it 6 times.

Ellie and the birthday girl opening some presents.

I was sure worn out after 2.5 hours in this environment, yet somehow the kids still seemed energized.

Another year has come and gone for the school’s annual Fall Festival. Like last year they opted to hold the event at another school’s gym to provide more room. This worked well. Ellie didn’t participate this year since she was at a friend’s birthday party. For Anna, it was her last year. I think I’m starting to realize that things are going to change for her soon. Anna has been at the school since first grade. This is now her 8th year and for the mostpart it’s been good. Next year she will be off to high school. I’m starting to mark the events with “this is the last time Anna will do _____” just like I did with Brandon last year as he completed his last year of high school. I didn’t do this at other times with the boys but I suppose it’s because they changed schools a bit more regularly. For Anna she went to the same daycare for 3 years, then 1 year of preschool, one year at the local kindergarten center and now all 8 years at the same school. Anna’s class held the bottle toss (one of the most popular games) and sold jams, carmels and turtles that they had made in FACs class.

Anna and her friends selling treats.