Birthday Trip to Branson

Back at the beginning of June my parents joined us for a weekend trip to Branson to celebrate my birthday. Now, the actual day of my birthday I spent hanging out in a crematorium helping my mom work on the interior of a hearse so that she could go on the trip with us. How is that for an exciting way to spend your 28th birthday! Definitely unforgetable. But, onto the trip. Once we got to Branson we spent time shopping, and at Silver Dollar City. Poor Sydney was DYING to swim (maybe not the appropriate term in this particular post?) but it was entirely too cold. Now, you'll have to forgive me, because this is going to be very picture heavy. But, hey - it's my birthday post, so I can do that if I want.

See the evil laugh - what you can't see is that she is pushing a button that is making the bug she is riding in go up and down really quickly (translated~bumpy) which grandma was begging her to quit doing. Hence the I'm up to something laugh.
This was later in the day, and Elle was curled up with Papa and down for the count.

Elle has this whole amusement park thing figured out:
  1. get someone to carry you
  2. have them stand in front of a water fan
  3. make sure they give you a cup of juice
  4. relax and enjoy

Sydney is so excited this year - she is finally tall enough to ride most of the bigger rides (minus the roller coasters.) She also loves that she is "braver than Dad" or at least has a stronger stomach. Here she is with Mom and Papa on the boat ride.
Papa and his two girls (after we suckered him into riding the frogs...those things are hard on adults!)
Sydney and Grandma on the swings.

Elle and Daddy.

Perhaps Elle's favorite ride of all. The luggage cart.


First Steps...(well, kind of)

I guess that technically Elle took her first steps for Papa Hill on June 5, but I missed them, and she didn't repeat them. So, her first repeatable steps were the other night. On Monday she decided that she could dance better if she didn't hold on to the tv stand and realzied that she was perfectly capable of standing on her own (which we all already knew.) Then, Tuesday night she decided she would get brave. She looked and David, looked and me and then took the most determined little steps of her life. Now, she thinks she is a pro (as long as you don't expect her to go more than three steps, although her circles are amazing.)

Walking at the library on Thursday:


Ten Years Later...

Last weekend David and I packed up the kids and drove down to my 10 year class reunion. David was a little less than excited about going and hanging out with a bunch of people he didn't know. I on the other hand, was excited to see some people and to laugh at a few others. All in all, we had a great time. We had a picnic out at the river that afternoon where I got to show off my most prized possessions (my little ones), and then a dinner at the country club that night. It was good to see old friends and find out what everyone is up to these days.
Probably the funniest story of the night was talking to my good old friend that I hadn't seen since the day we graduated, Ben Gilley. We worked on the newspaper together all through high school. I was editor my senior year (and maybe a bit of a perfectionist.) One column(for lack of a better term) we had was Top Ten. Ben always had an odd sense of humor, so sometimes it made sense, and sometimes, not so much. I didn't quite get his last one, which came out our last day of school.

Here is Ben posing with a copy of our final paper.

However, Mr. Hoyt, our principal did. In fact, he got it so much that he called me into his office. If you still don't get it, forget the rest of the words and only read the first letters. That was a nice thing to have a 40- year-old man point out to me at 17. (After he accused me of sliding it in there as a joke. Apparently the fact that he had to explain it to me finally convinced him that I had nothing to do with it.) Anyway, I was a little mad at Ben that last day of school, so he felt the need to apologize 10-years later. I promised him that it is now one of my favorite stories to tell. (It was the only time I ever got called to the Principal's office.)

I really do promise that David went, although I don't have a single picture of him. Oops! I think maybe he would like to forget he went (although I keep making fun of him...his class didn't even like each other enough to even bother having a reunion!)

It is interesting to see where everyone has ended up. I have decided that I will do everything in my power to make sure that Sydney and Elle stay on the straight and narrow. Those who didn't stay on it in high school still haven't quite found their way back ten years later. (They were the ones calling their parents to come pick them up at 2 a.m.)

After four hours of chatting, part of the group moved on to a local bar called Jebb's. Not my usual stomping ground, but I figured that your 10 year reunion only comes around once, so why not. We stayed out until 2 a.m. which is WAAAYYY past my normal bedtime. Thanks to several diet cokes and a lack of sleep (and maybe a bit of nostalgia) I ended up singing karaoke with Katie and Signa - a first for me. I have to admit, it was fun. Not pretty, but fun. (You know you are bad when the guy running the karaoke is smiling and giving you a big thumbs up- the keep singing sweetie, no one will remember in the morning kind) So, minus a really bad rendition of "Before He Cheats" and one slightly embarrassing song dedication, we had quite the time. Thanks Jessica and Signa for talking me into going! I had a great time seeing everyone. It is great how you can get together and talk with really good friends like it has been only days since you've last seen them, not years. (Speaking of, Signa - dinner soon!!)

Katie, Me and Signa singing karaoke


Future mountain climber

The other day I washing dishes after breakfast and my kids were quietly playing, which should have been my first clue. Sydney walks into the kitchen and says, "Mom, come look at your daughter." "In a minute," I say. "No, you HAVE to come see her right now." So, I walk into my bedroom to this:

This kid will climb anything. I've found her stuck on top of foot stools, chairs, tables, counters - all within a matter of minutes. She refuses to walk, but climbing....that is a different story.


Guess who has a computer???

Ahh. The sweet feel of a REAL keyboard beneath my fingers again. Adios house cleaning. Good bye junk drawer organizing. Did you really think that you were more than just a fling?


Summer Movies

Yesterday we went and watched The Tale of Desperaux at the "movie store" which really means movie theatre. I'm not sure what I was thinking taking a one-year-old and a four-year-old by myself, but we survived. Thankfully, in the summer they do Tuesday and Wednesday older movies for $2, so if we miss out on half of it, I don't feel too bad. Elle was enthralled for the first hour or so (who wouldn't be - cuddled into mom's lap, a big bucket of popcorn, and a huge screen in front of your little face!) but then she discovered that there was a whole thing of stairs she was missing out on. This of course came about the time the movie got a little scary, which didn't bode so well with big sister, who then adopted a mom in the front row. But, they had an overall good time, and I'm sure we'll be back next week. I mean, who am I kidding. A good cool form of summer entertainment for under $10 - we're there. Plus, I see it as practice for when we go to the million dollar movies. :)


Stubborn is...

teaching your children where they inherited their stuborness.

Our match went something like this. Mommy in one-corner. Tired, but stubborn preschooler in the other. I swung in with the medicine spoon. She came in with a hook-swing "spit out the medicine move" (usually reserved for Daddy.) I came back strong with a time out, but she didn't give in there. Just when I thought I had worked her into a corner, she broke out the "I'm going to throw up." Yep. While this isn't one of my patented moves, I can thank my little sister for prepping me for this one (she used it plenty in her glory days.) I was ready and stared her straight in the eyes. "Throw up and you'll clean it up yourself." Out of timeout she jumped and off to the bathroom she went, OK RAN.
Round one, TIE.
Back for round two, she tried calling in backup by using her banshee scream and waking up her little sister. That is when my backup came in and threatened her life if she woke her little sister. Round two, Parents.
Round three had an intense start. More screaming ensued, and in the Rieske household the only place screaming is aloud is in the backyard, otherwise you are breaking a house rule. So, I summoned up my remaining strength, and lifted her writhing body, and set her on the picnic table out back (I'm sure the neighbors think we're crazy.) And she was almost down for the count. Faked, yes, FAKED an apology, but soon after being let back in the house, insisted that she wanted Daddy to get her ready for bed. So, after a nice authoritative talking to from Daddy (brought on after pep talk from mommy) about how mean she was being to her competitor and how would she like to be treated that way, etc. etc. I had a very sorry little girl at my leg BEGGING to just please let us be a family forever and promising that she would never, ever be that mean again. The smell of victory was in the air. Round three, Parents.


I read a book without pictures!

Ok, so I feel like I've been taken over by some force that is not myself and haven't really read any non-picture books in while, minus the occasional kid-free vactaion, or during Christmas break while we were staying at my parents' or in-laws' house. Part of the reason for this is if I start reading I have a hard time putting it down. Many-a-night I've looked over at the clock and realized it is WAAAY past my bedtime, but I just HAVE to finish one more chapter. An hour later, I'm still reading. Anyway, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and join a little non-enrichment book group with some ladies in my ward. One of the books we're supposed to read over the next six weeks in Left To Tell. I finished it today and it was so good. So, if you are looking for a good read, I definitely recommend it. I didn't think I would really care for it, as it is about the Rwandan Holocaust, but I found myself not being able to put it down. I was enthralled, I was angry, I was sad, but most of all I was amazed at the strength and endurance of this woman. The one thing I kept having to remind myself as I was picturing things in my mind is that this wasn't set in 40's or 50's, but the mid- to late 90's. It is insane to me that things like this still happen, and that there are people strong enough to survive it. So, while not your typical "light summer read," this is definitely a book I would recommend. If I were a book re-reader (which I am not) this one would be on my list to read again.