Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year In Review: 2013

In an effort to ignore and avoid the train wreck which is Jenny McCarthy on Rockin' New Years Eve, I've decided to take a moment and reminisce on all the memories our family made this year.  No big NYE plans for the Ashton's this year, as we are headed on a plane tomorrow morning to Denver to have a late Christmas with the Eby's.

The pictures below sum up all the family "firsts" we had this year.  I love seeing these photos next to each other...it really was an amazing, happy year.  Some firsts you will not see in the photos?  Darla's first time blogging (personally and professionally); Aubrey's first time to use the potty; first Ashton family flu bug experience; Eric's first time chasing down a neighborhood robber.  Probably a good thing we don't have photos to commemorate some of those experiences.  But glad we do have photos for the "firsts" listed below...

Aubrey's 1st solo trip to Culver

1st sand castles

1st family trip to Bloomington

1st day of daycare

1st family trip to Denver

Our 1st Dylan

1st surrey ride

1st state fair

1st ginger bread house (aka, Gangy's house!) 

1st time to trick or treat

1st holiday program

1st Eby's Drive-In ice cream cone

1st mulberry picking

1st full blown photo shoot

1st pumpkin patch

1st time putting on coat, all by herself

Our 1st Sadie

1st time at splash park

1st solo swim

1st time Aubrey turned 2 years old; 1st time playing "mama"

Darla's 1st trip to Vegas without her parents by her side

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sprinkles and Icing with a Dash of Cookie

Ashton and Addison came to play on Friday night while their parents went out to dinner with friends.  Auntie Darla and Uncle Eric were feeling brave and thought that decorating sugar cookies would be a great activity that would "create a memory" for Christmas 2013.  Eric ran to the store for ingredients, Darla quickly mixed up some dough for roll out cookies (thanks to her new KitchenAide mixer!) and the cookies were rolled and baked.  What happened next was exactly what I expected to happen. And yet, nothing can prepare you for the grossness of watching a 4 year old suck out of a 3 inch tube of decorating icing or the horror as you watch another 4 year old drop an open container of fine green sprinkles all over the floor.  Regardless, we had a lot of laughs Friday night and I think the girls thoroughly enjoyed the process and taste of their own cookies.

A BIG THANK-YOU to Auntie Tricia for coming over and supporting us in this artistic process.  My favorite quote of the night was when Eric asked me if I was throwing away all the little tubes of icing.  I said, "Well...they have all been sucked on by little girls.  There is a little left in the tubes...did you WANT me to save them?"  And then Eric gave the response that every woman has given a million times in her life.  "I spent $60 on that stuff at the store.  What a complete waste."  It wasn't a waste at all though.  Just look at all the fun we had:)

Christmas 2013, Round 1

In two days, the Ashton's and Eby's pack up and head out to Denver, CO for a few blissful days.  I can't wait to spend time with my sister and adorable nieces.  JK too!!  We've completed round 1 of Christmas and I have to say, it was maybe my favorite Christmas I've ever had.  This is probably due to a few factors:
Blocks, train, books, tea cup set #2
on Christmas morning
Really loving her Bear Puzzle
set from Gangy
1) Aubrey at two and a half is old enough to open her gifts and really enjoy them.  I can't believe how much fun it was to watch her smile when she would open something she really loved.  My house looks like an absolute war zone right now, as she has decided to play with each toy she got for 5 minutes and then moves onto the next toy...but still, really great to see her start to understand the joy of Christmas.

2) We stayed home this year.  For the first time in a long time, Eric and I woke up Christmas morning in our own house and stayed in our own house until 4pm.  It was really special to start our own family Christmas morning traditions, including wearing PJs until we were forced to change out of them, cinnamon rolls, chocolate milk and coffee, and A Christmas Story playing on repeat.

Gangy's House
Our Christmas Schedule
The Saturday before Christmas, we traveled up to Culver and celebrated with Gangy and G Man by opening up some gifts.  Aubrey loved all her gifts, which included a bear puzzle, light-up shoes, an art easel, and a tea cup set.  We then headed over to Aunt Teri's for the Reinholt celebration.  Aubrey got an awesome Play-Dough set from Busald's and new favorite books from the Baker's (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons has really taken this household by storm.)  Aubrey was attached to Gangy's hip the entire night.

On Christmas Eve, Aubrey sprinkled reindeer food out on the lawn and then Gran and Papa came over for some drinks and pizza.  Auntie Tricia and Uncle Corey came over later in the night and we had a great time just talking and drinking.  Eric might have had too much fun.  After a few rounds of drinks, Darla finally got down to the knitty gritty on Bill's responsibilities while in the military and Eric discussed his theological views with his mother.  Yikes, on both accounts.

Christmas day was spent at home and then over at the Ashton's in the evening.  We celebrated sans Dynak's as they were in Utah living it up in the snow.  We did have a full house though with remaining Ashton's, Aunt Elaine, Pappa, Babci, and Karen Norris.  This year the gifts got rolled out gradually, which was really nice because I was able to actually see everyone open their gifts.  The girls had a great time jumping on the bed and running around the house like hooligans.  The twins could run into a fire pit and Aubrey would gladly follow them, with a smile on her face.  It's adorable and scary.                      
All this fun and Denver still to come!  Can't wait to watch the girls open up more gifts and practice their new "sharing" skills with each other.

Baker Books
"Barn...play dough!"  She loves
watching the animals grown their "hair" out.
Christmas Night at Gran and Papa's
That 70s Outfit from Gangy
Can't believe how hard it was
to get one pic of the kids.
Stink Eye, 2013
Tea Cup Set #1 from Gangy.
New shoes, bought with Great Papa's Christmas $$.
She picked them out herself.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Aubrey's First Public Performance

...if you don't count the Daycare Indy 500 Race of 2013 where we never even made it to the track because she was so freaked out.

Kindercare hosted it's 2013 Christmas Gala tonight and Aubrey's 2 Classroom stood on stage to perform "Deck The Halls."  We have been practicing this song for weeks.  When cued, Aubrey will occasionally sing some of the lyrics.  When nobody is watching and she is playing in the corner of the room alone, she can often be heard softly singing all the words.  I was very excited to see her on stage for the first time.  I've had her outfit planned for weeks....the sweet red sweater dress that Gangy bought her, with cream sweater tights, frilly socks and sparkly gold shoes.  This morning I marveled at how beautiful she looked.  Threw her hair up in a sweeping side pony tail that wanna-be models would die for.  Dropped her off at school and then anxiously awaited 5:00.

Eric and I arrived at the daycare and took our places.  I peered down the hallway to catch a glimpse of Aubrey before she made her way into the gym...just to make sure she wasn't already crying.  Horror and panic ensued.  Was that Aubrey standing at the end of the hallway wearing the Crap Clothes?  You know, Crap Clothes.  The clothes you take into daycare for them to change your kid into when something goes horribly wrong and the clothes you took them into school with cannot be worn for the rest of the day.  The clothes that don't fit right and you would never have them wear so you tuck them inside a cubby to collect dust until that one day out of the month when they have to be worn.  The Crap Clothes that aren't really appropriate for the season because it was September when you brought them in and she was a size or two smaller then....

Goodbye red sweater dress.  Hello hand-me-down Old Navy grey long sleeved t-shirt, stretch pants, no socks and gold shoes that now look like summer sandals without the cream tights.

This is a little dramatic.  After one minute of sadness, I turned my attention back to worrying if Aubrey would possibly stand up on that stage in front of a room full of people.  Who cares if she sings...I know if she sees me and Eric standing in the back of the room she will howl like a hyena (like several of the 1 year old kids did) and make a bee line for mama and dad.  But that didn't happen.  Again, I had a "my daughter is a little girl and baby no-more" moment as I watched Aubrey stand on stage with reddened embarrassed cheeks as she looked into the crowd.  You can tell the moment she noticed that her parents were there to see her.  She smiles, lowers her head a bit, but stays on stage.

It was one of my most favorite moments I've had so far as a parent.  I can't wait to see her on stage again.  Regardless of the nose picking and the fact that most eyes were on her (regardless of her not uttering a single word to the damn song we have spent so much time on) she made me VERY proud.

First, a little review of the practice we put into this "first of many firsts"....

And now for the Big Finale.  The moment we were waiting for...this video will forever commemorate Aubrey's nose picking fetish.  Thank goodness for Sheela, the daycare provider who told me last week that if she had a daughter she would want her to be exactly like Aubrey. 

Aubrey visits the Man in Red

Each year, a couple of weekends before Christmas Santa gets in his horse drawn carriage and pays a visit to all the kids in Deidra and Bill's neighborhood.  I had a hunch how Aubrey would react to Santa this year.  Call it a mother's intuition.  Needless to say, she was excited to watch Santa come down the court, OK with getting into the carriage and then totally freaked out when Santa tried to talk to her.  It was the first time I really saw Aubrey get embarrassed.  I could see her cheeks turning red and watched her slowly look up to find a safe person to rescue her.  It made me a little sad...because it was the first moment I had as a mother thinking, "She's not so little anymore."  Tear, tear:(  Once I swooped in and got her out of the carriage, she recovered quickly by petting the horse for a bit.  And when Santa got carried away down the court, tears fell from her eyes as she gently said, "Bye Santa.  Bye Horse."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Knock, Knock! Who Lives In The Gingerbread House?

Aubrey and Eric made a Gingerbread House together yesterday.  Well, Eric made the house and then taught Aubrey how to eat some candy off of it.  She really loves it though and most of all, she loves pretending to knock on the door to see if her favorite people will answer.  She has been just precious this week.  I feel like we really hit a language BOOM over the last month and it is so interesting and hilarious to listen to her chat away sometimes.  She is counting everything she sees (pretty decent with 1-10 and sometimes on a good day can get to 20.)  She is playing pretend with her babies often and her favorite question to ask is "Ut oh, wha happen?"  Eric introduced her to her first Advent calendar tonight.  Yum, yum, this girl is hooked on Jesus now!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Aubrey Gives Thanks

I asked Aubrey to put together a list of all the things she is thankful for this year.  This is my interpretation of her answers:

I am thankful for Sammies all over the world.  Sammies are sometimes called kitty cats.

I am grateful for tea cups, tea cup parties with fends (friends), and grateful that my mom apparently doesn't value my Great Grandma Myrna's tea cups enough to stop me from playing with them each day. Even though I sometimes break them.

I am thankful for NICU nurses.  I sometimes say goodbye to mine on my way out the door in the morning.

I am grateful for a daddy who gives me bubble baths and doesn't even brush my hair afterwards because he knows I hate it.  Mom is evil.

I am so happy to have a Gangy and G Man who think it is funny when I roll my eyes at them and never think I am being smug.  My daycare teacher Sheila thinks otherwise.

I am thankful for Christopher, a hot 2 year old in my class who always offers to put my coat on for me and opens the door for me as I leave.  I never let him put the coat on for me though...I have just learned how to do it myself and I'll be damned if I am going to let some boy take away one of the only independent skills that I have.

I am thankful that my mom knows when I say "bone" i mean phone, when I say "pone" I mean spoon, and when I say "OPEN IT!" I can mean just about anything.

I am thankful that my mom and dad brought home the best book in the world, "The House Book."  That's not really what it's called, it's just what I call the book. But I am pretty sure my parents aren't actually reading all the words on the page to me either each night when I request it before going to bed.  So I guess we all just interpret words and literature the way we want to.

And, always thankful for quality programming like Guess With Jess, Trotro, and Pingu.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner...

The Little Ashton Women gather to wish us all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Watch this for a Thanksgiving message: Video from StoryBots

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Aubrey and Mom Draw a Picture

Aubrey and I played with the Educreations app today.  We had to draw a school bus, of course:)  This girl loves her school buses.  Click on the link below to see her video.
Educreations- Aubrey School Bus Picture

Monday, October 21, 2013


Last week Eric and I headed to Vegas for his annual work conference.  With the help of Super Gangy, we were able to leave Aubrey behind in safe hands for really what was the first time on a vacation post baby.  (Eric thinks I am being dramatic when I say this, reminding me that we have had a few overnight trips here and there...I say it doesn't really count unless you leave the state and are gone for longer than 48 hours.)
Mandalay Bay 67th Floor Lounge

We got into Vegas around 7:30ish Friday night.  We stayed at Trump International the first night.  Beautiful hotel, no casino...so definitely a different feel to it than other Vegas accommodations.  What I loved most the gigantic bathtub that washed away all the airport goo.  Eric and I cleaned up and then headed out to explore the strip.  We debated eating at a little authentic taco stand down by the Riviera...the line was out the door so it had to be good.  But upon a closer look at the menu, beef tongue tacos just didn't seem too appetizing.  So we passed on that, but each time we walked by the joint for the remainder of the week it was still packed shoulder to shoulder.  I guess the next time you are in Vegas and you are feeling adventurous, check this place out and let me know if we missed a great opportunity.  Instead, we headed down the Mirage so I could finally taste one of those amazing Corned Beef sandwiches from Carnegie Deli which I have heard Eric talk about so much.  After getting caught in some serious Treasure Island show traffic, we finally made it to our destination only to find out that the deli is under construction and would be closed the entire time we were in Vegas.  Then we got trapped inside Treasure Island on our way back to our hotel, only to wander aimlessly for 45 minutes trying to find an exit from the casino.  This trip was starting to feel like a real "Reinholt" experience...
Sandi's favorite free Vegas snacks!  Parasol Bar, Wynn
 Saturday brought out the "Eby" luck which thankfully continued on for the rest of our trip.  We checked into The Wynn, which was amazing.  I told Eric that I could stay within the hotel walls, not have to leave, and be perfectly content.  (Until we got the bill for our first round of drinks at the Parasol Bar...$9 for a Stella?  Better walk on down to that liquor store and stock up for the next couple of days.)  Saturday night was my big night of plans....dinner reservations at Encore, our sister-hotel, followed by Le Reve.  Dinner- best crab cake we've ever had, and Le Reve (The Dream)- beautiful, bizarre, how can those people hold their breath for that long?

Eric sporting his early November beard at the PepperMill
Sunday we ventured down to the Peppermill for breakfast, where we reveled with all our table neighbors at how gigantic one establishment can actually make a pancake and omelet.  Did some light shopping at the souvenir shops for Aubrey Grace, headed back to the room for a nice nap.  Later we headed to the mall for some shopping and watched as Vegas threatened rain.  Back to the Wynn for what was maybe my favorite moment of the trip- cocktails waterfall side outside of the Parasol Bar.  The best Sangria I've ever had made me think of my Aunt Teri.  Sad she wasn't there to enjoy the moment with me, but happy knowing that such moments in life make me think of her and make me smile.  I really wish I could have bottled up that Sangria and taken it back for her.
Sangria at the Parasol Bar
Next we Next we headed to The Palazzo Hotel next door for some dinner.  Just a casual italian restaurant will do...keep the wine coming, please.  After all that drink I built up some courage to try my hand at a table, so Eric lead us to Treasure Island and we sat down at a Pai Gow table for a few hours.  That was fun!!  We had some fabulous young gay men to chat with and I tried to convince one of them why he really should leave the Republican Party and join the good guys.  We won a little bit of money, were served many free drinks, and left happy happy.
Outside The Palazzo Hotel

Monday morning...yuck.  Eric had to get up bright and early to get to his conference.  I decided to explore our hotel in more depth and had brunch pool side at a darling cafe.  It was a bit pricey, but my gigantic cup of coffee and avocado omelet were totally worth it.  As was eavesdropping on the table next to me mention "Mario" so casually in their conversation 100 times.  (Mario Batali??  Now after being home and carefully investigating the matter, I realize they were talking about Mario Balotelli, some soccer player, which makes MUCH more sense considering conversation I was able to overhear with clarity.)  Next, I headed down the pool for a few hours and managed to get some nice sun on the face.  This was really wonderful but did make me a big sad that I didn't have two more days ahead of me to lounge around this body of water.
Nice and early for the show.  Just how I like it.
Le Reve.  Interpretive swimming is confusing.  But beautiful.

Monday night Eric and I took a cab down to Mandalay Bay to have drinks and light appetizers on the 64th Floor Lounge.  The view was really spectacular, cozy and romantic atmosphere.  We then headed over to the Excalibur and sat down at another Pai Gow table.  I wouldn't call our table mates as lively or engaging, but again we left with money in our pockets.  Back to the hotel for a very late dinner and then down for my last sleep at The Wynn.  Left early the next morning for the airport and Eric stayed on another night to finish up his conference.  Coming home from vacation isn't that bad at all when you have a pretty girl to come home to, especially when she seems to change so much over the course of a few days.  She had plenty of fun on her adventures with Gangy and though she was a snuggle bug when I got home, I don't think she was traumatized by us leaving at all.  She has gotten some pleasure out of the snow globe we brought home and the book about the Little House on the Hill.

Eric told me last night that he think next year or the year after the conference will be help in Orlando, Florida.  Oh boy...won't that be an adventure.