Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Horse Expo, 2011

One of my favorite annual traditions is attending the Horse Expo at the fair grounds with my little girlies.  This was our third year in a row!  There's so much to do, and so many opportunities for learning.  My girls however, are there for one reason and one reason only....PONY RIDES!  We went to the pony rides immediately upon our arrival, rode them over and over and over and....well, you get the idea.  They took a break to have corn dogs for lunch and to walk around to see the vendors.  After that,  more pony rides!  It was so much fun!

Millie holding a chick

Elise riding a pony.  I think the guy running the pony rides liked her :)

Cowgirl boots!

Millie loved the ponies!

The girls being silly :)

Millie adding a yarn mane to her stick pony

Elise "feeding" her stick pony

Elise could have played with the bedding pellets for hours if I would have let her

The girls holding a super soft bunny

Monday, April 25, 2011

The School Choice Conundrum

School choice has been on my mind since Millie was an infant.  We're lucky to live in a city that has over 50 elementary schools to choose from!  When the time was right, we narrowed our choice down to 13 schools, toured them, researched them, and finally decided on Highland Park Elementary (HPE).  It was the only school we wanted Millie to attend, because we thought it was well run, had great technology, and did fundraising so the kids could have "extras".  All in all the school has been great.  Her Kindergarten teacher was above and beyond fantastic, and her 1st grade teacher is really good too. 
Well, here we are, back in the position of choosing a school for Millie.  The district has ended its school choice, in a way.  They have decided that the children can get just as good of an education at  their neighborhood schools, as they can at any other school in the city.  Therefore, they have eliminated a great deal of their bussing, in an effort to cut expenses.  Now, if we lived two blocks over, this wouldn't be an issue.  Unfortunately, because the "bussing lines" were drawn by zip code, not by neighborhood, we are no longer eligible for bussing to HPE.  The neighborhood that we have been redistricted to is completely out of the question, we'd never send our kids there. 
Sooooooo, here are our choices:
1) Send her to HPE and drive her every day.  This option seems OK, but goes against our family values.  We've been a 1 car family since 4 months after we moved to Downtown.  We like it a lot, and had no plans to add an additional car to our family.  If we went this route, it would mean that in two years, my schedule would look like this:  8:45 Drop Millie off at school, 9:00 Drop Elise off at preschool, 11:00 leave to pick Elise up from preschool, feed Elise, give her part of a nap, 3:15 pick Millie up from school.  I'd live in the car.  This option is very low on my list.
2)  Homeschool her.  After doing a LOT of research, this option is very appealing.  I'd be able to teach her at her own pace, and encourage her interests (biology, science, etc).  This option is at the top of my list
3)  Homeschool her for 2nd grade, and try to get her into Nova Classical Academy for 3rd grade if it doesn't work out.  The fallback plan (however, bussing might get cut for this type of school in the near future as well, making it low on my list).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

Happy Easter!  After two weeks of really crummy weather, we were blessed with a gorgeous Easter!  The temp got up into the 60's, and the sun was shining.  Lovely!  Here's what we did to celebrate today:

Millie and Elise woke up and found their Easter baskets (Millie woke up at 6, found the baskets, then played until Elise woke up at 7:30ish).  They each got some Spring pencils, a Littlest Pet Shop animal in an egg, some Play Dough in an egg, a chocolate bunny, and some whopper eggs.  I think they both finished off all of their whopper eggs before breakfast. 

I had arranged for the oven to be preheated by 7.  Once I could pry Bud out of bed, we had breakfast together as a family.
They look ooey gooey delicious, but in fact they were so sweet that noone would eat them.  The girls ended up having cereal, and Bud went back to bed.

After lunch, we went down to the Kleppe's house in Burnsville.  We celebrated with Grandma and Grandpa, Great Uncle Bob, Great Uncle David, and Great Grandma Lenore.  We had a delicious dinner, and the neighbors arranged an easter egg hunt!
Oh, and here are the Easter eggs and Millie and I decorated last night:
The egg in the lower right with the pink "beard" is Bud.  Tee Hee!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Thousand Gifts, Leslie Style #1-100

In her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp invites her readers to embrace everyday blessings, and express gratitude for the life we currently have.  Inspired by this book, I have decided to start working on  my list of 1000 things that I appreciate in my daily life.  I am truely grateful for so many things!  Here goes nothing:

1) Sharp #2 pencils
2) Blank spiral bound notebooks
3) Warm breakfast with my girls on Sunday morning
4) A cup of strong coffee and cream
5) Reading the newspaper and looking through ads
6) Naps
7) Easter decorations
8) Chatting with my mom in the old farmhouse
9) Weekly coffee chats with R.R.
10) Warm air on my arms after a long winter of being covered up by long sleeved shirts
11) Millies generous heart
12) Conversations with Bud
13) Date night!
14) Girls night with SR, SM, & ML
15) Monopoly on the Playstation
16) Listening to Elises chatter
17) When Elise holds my finger up to her cheek
18) Sitting in the green grass when it first pops up in the spring
19) Listening to the creek at the farm
20) That my girls have a farm to play at
21) Lists and lists of lists
22) My warm condo
23) Walking to Macys
24) Our awesome library
25) The smell of the farmers market
26) Sewing clothes for my girls
27) Browsing for fabric
28) Kind and supportive inlaws
29) 1990's Alternative music
30) The smell of wood chips
31) Great memories from my childhood
32) The smell of antique cars
33) Having neighbors to say "Hi" to every day
34) Chatting with my mom on the phone
35) Awesome health insurance
36) The color green
37) Trying new recipes
38) Saving money with coupons
39) My online mom group - The Hive
40) The smell of damp concrete
41) Window displays at Christmas time
42) Watching Millie grow up into everything I'd hoped for her: Kind, creative, and healthy
43) My family tree
44) Antiques
45) Listening to my girls sing
46) Listening to Elise recite nursery rhymes
47) My secret family recipe banana cake
48) Candles
49) Crisp, clean sheets
50) Living so close to so many great parks
51) Living so close to great walking paths
52) Grainbelt Nordeast
53) Sweet sister in laws
54) A sister I can relate to
55) Two healthy nephews that the girls love
56) Shopping at Target
57) Bin Wine Bar
58) Live music with S.R. & S.B.
59) Connecting with old friends on Facebook
60) Piggy tails
61) The smell of lemon dish soap
62) Inspirational blogs
63) Coffee and chocolate
64) Laughing until my cheeks hurt
65) Living in a big city that feels like a small town
66) Toddler sillyness
67) Elise's fearlessness
68) My mom who gave up her career to stay home with us when we were kids
69) My dad who is so smart, and always explains everything from its origin
70) The smell of Aveda products
71) Goal setting
72) Business planning
73) Getting read to by Millie
74) Seeing what Millie is interested in learning about based on her library book choices
75) The view from our balcony
76) The smell of fresh air blowing through the windows in the spring
77) Looking through old pictures
78) Enjoying the company of my aunts B.D. & J.T.
79) Dreaming big
80) My carrot cake recipe
81) Menu planning
82) Budget planning
83) Singing loud in the car
84) A spotlessly clean house
85) Long drives
86) Easter dinner
87) The sharp inhale Elise makes when she gets really excited
88) Being woken up by excited girls in the morning when it snows overnight
89) Pussy willows
90) Living easter baskets
91) Forcing Forsythia branches in the early spring
92) Old brick buildings
93) Visiting the sweet baby farm animals at the zoo
94) Picnics
95) Getting catalogs in the mail
96) The smell of lemon scented pinesol mixed with fresh spring air
97) Living close to three really great museums
98) Reading daily out of Sarah Ban Breathnachs "Simple Abundance" book
99) Spotting bunnies in the wild
100) Receiving and giving homemade gifts

Monday, April 11, 2011

SheSpeaks, Review #1

I signed up to be a product reviewer at SheSpeaks.com!  The way it works is, I get an email asking if I want to participate in a product review.  If I do, then I fill out a survey.  If I qualify to be a tester for the given product, I either get coupons for free products to pick up in the store, or they send them to me directly.

A couple weeks ago I got my first "job", which was to review Hormel Compleats Kids. 

My package of 4 meals came in the mail over the weekend, and I was eager to start testing!

Last night I served Spaghetti and Meatballs as a side dish with our dinner.  Neither of the girls would eat it.  In fact, here's what Millie's face looked like after she tried her first bite:

For lunch today, I tried giving Elise the Macaroni and Beef version.  She wouldn't eat it, but I thought it was pretty good.  I sprinkled some parmesan cheese over it, and ate about half of it.  It was sort of bland, but I liked it much better than the Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Next up, Pasta and Chicken!  I'll try that on Wednesday...