Sunday, February 6th, 2011

v-day b-day

It came to my attention that Mimi had never had an official birthday party where people other than family members attend (well, last year the Johnsons did come over for a quick b-day get together for Mimi). I decided this year was going to be the year for Mimi’s 1st (except it was her 6th, if that makes sense) birthday party. After racking my brain for theme ideas I finally settled on the Valentine’s theme. I mean, Mimi was actually due right around Valentine’s Day, so what better way to celebrate her birthday. Both girls were on board after I revealed the news to them. In fact, it was all they could talk or think about from that point on (why haven’t I learned not to spill the beans until only hours away from events?!?). Since Valentine’s is all filled with red, pink, hearts, and all things girly, I decided to only invite girls to the party. I’m sure no boys were offended for dodging that hug-filled bullet.

I found so many ideas for Valentine’s parties on the internet, so the trouble was narrowing it to down to fill only 2 hours. I have to say that the Oriental Trading Company is about the best thing since online shopping became possible. It made getting crafts, goodies, and party materials enough for 12 people so easy. However, we only invited 10 people, and only 8 showed up. Hallelujah! I don’t know what I would have done with 2 more girls, since we were squished into my dining room as it was. I banished Mike and Violet from the house, but my friend Julie was a wonderful assistant throughout the entire event. Thanks, Julie! Everything went off without a hitch except that I totally forgot to take pictures of the party set-up prior to the event. Oh well, I think I was able to capture most of what was planned, made, or part of the event. See for yourself.

By the time I started snapping pictures the girls had already played with their cootie catchers, exchanged their valentines via their personalized mailboxes, colored their shrinky-dink heart pendants, and played Valentine Bingo using large conversation hearts as tokens. At this point, the girls are chowing (or not chowing) down pizza.

The table decorations included glass dishes full of various candies and the lovely, framed art piece that my thoughtful sister-in-law sent for just this occasion. (Thanks so much, Sara!!) Of course, it was all set on a tablecloth full of red, pink, and purple hearts. You can kind of see the personalized mailboxes. Notice the empty dish in the second picture. The Hershey’s Kisses were apparently a hit. I made heart-shaped pizzas that evidently only two of the girls and I liked to eat, but at least it was heart-shaped. Unfortunately, I also spaced taking pictures of those, but I’m sure you can imagine what a mom-made heart-shaped pizza looks like (read not that great or convincingly heart-shaped).

Polyhedron, anyone? I couldn’t resist making these when I saw them in some pictures of another Valentine’s party. They were actually quite easy to make once I got the hang of it.

A Valentine’s party is not complete without a heart garland. Am I right, or am I right? Ha, notice I covered the glass in the china cabinet to hide all the unsightly junk inside of it (this produced a HUGE eye roll from Mike).

And, lastly, I couldn’t resist serving Valentine-labeled, red sodas. We had to search hi and lo all over town for those durned things. Of course, most of the girls were not too keen on engulfing a full bottle of diabetes-inducing liquid. But, oh, how cute did they look?!?

After the food was eaten it was time to play a quick game before presents. I purchased this inflatable octopus at Oriental Trading. It was almost actual size from the picture shown on the website, but the girls still managed to have fun with it each taking 2 turns.

Mimi received a lot of fun gifts (that Mike hates, hahaha) including a Liv(?) Doll, Barbie Doll, Tea Party Game, manicure/spa stuff, princess mirror craft, Zhu Zhu Pet Castle, Legos, PlayDoh, an American Girl ballet outfit, and a mega princess gear pack and a 6 pack of princess shoes. As you can see Mimi was beyond ecstatic!

Finally, it was CAKE TIME! Mike spent the evening before making this all by himself. I decided to throw some fondant into the design, and Mike did a wonderful job working with it and coming up with a fun idea. I must take credit for the overall design idea though.

I’m so glad I decided to do this. Just to see how lit up Mimi’s face was the entire day made it all worthwhile. If I had waited another year or two, then I don’t think there would have been as much excitement and magic in the event. Thank you to all the girls who attended and helped Mimi celebrate, and thanks again to Julie and Mike for being such a great help.


Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

trim that

On Saturday night the girls determined that they needed haircuts. They even declared that they wanted their hair up to their chins. I was reluctant to go that short, but I agreed that it was time for a trim. Even though I scrunched up Annie’s hair and added at least an inch when cutting, her hair still curled up another 2 inches after it was dry. So I suppose, after all, Annie got her wish for chin-length hair. Mimi chickened out when I began her cut and said she only wanted a little trimmed off. I still lopped off a good couple of inches though, but it didn’t turn out nearly as short as Annie’s. Both of the girls are quite pleased with their new ‘dos.

We did survive the blizzard with another day off from school today. The roads all have walls of snow on each side, and some roads are even down to one lane on some parts. The girls thoroughly enjoyed climbing on the many mountains of snow around our neighborhood. As you can see our back door is snowed in. Notice those black bars poking out of the top, those are our patio chairs and I’m pretty sure the table is nowhere to be found. Thank goodness I had Mike store the cushions up in the attic before it really started snowing this season because I don’t they could’ve survived all that snow. Our not so smart dog insisted on being let in that door this morning while I kept calling for her at the front door which can be seen from the back door. Poor, dumb Lucy.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

civil unrest and butterfinger blizzard

When I woke up this morning my phone’s Weather Bug app warned me of “Extreme Civil Danger”. All I could picture was people looting and fighting in the streets. Of course, that’s not what’s going on because as far as I know nobody is going to be out in the streets today. According to the news, we’re in the midst of the blizzard of 2011. I say it’s still early in the year, and how they can claim this is “THE” blizzard of 2011. However, we do have some crazy conditions outside with snow drifts as high as cars (and almost as high as Mike’s diesel truck). Thankfully, the school district was smart enough to decide yesterday to close down school for today because no buses are making it into our neighborhood this morning. The streets haven’t even been plowed yet which means we are stranded. Don’t worry about us though, we are all stocked up on supplies. After all, Mike did just order several 5 gallon buckets of various foods such as red wheat, oats, and split peas (yes, we REALLY like split pea soup in this house). I also have a ton of laundry to catch up on, so there’s no excuse now not to get it done.

What we saw out our front door.

Our back door is covered in snow. It really accentuates that gaping hole in the screen that Lucy gave us last summer.

Even the garage got assaulted by the snow drifting. We haven’t even opened the garage yet this morning.

We hope everyone else is surviving this insane weather.

P.S. I can’t help but crave a DQ Blizzard right now. My favorite is Heath Bar with chocolate ice-cream. What’s yours?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Mini scientists

The girls had Friday off from school for the last day of the quarter. My friend Julie came up with the grand idea to take the train to Chicago to attend the Museum of Science and Industry since it had free admission during January. The agenda didn’t go quite as planned due to some unforeseen circumstances, but the kids and adults had a blast and got to see some really cool stuff. We couldn’t see nearly everything there was to see in just one day. The place was gargantuan with several levels where each floor seemed a mile long.

The train ride was a lot of fun for the kids, but it did start to get a little long during the 1.5 hour trip causing bickering, hunger, and just plain whining. Julie was under the impression that the museum was in the heart of downtown, so we figured we’d take a cab there after the train. When we noticed the downtown leaving our sights we got a little worried and were a little miffed at the $30 cab tab. Whoops! Fortunately, we were able to all squeeze into one cab van and each pay for one leg of the trip.

On the way home we were all set to exit the train at our stop and went and stood by the nearest door just like all the passengers getting off at the previous stops. However, the doors never opened, and some lady kindly informed us that at our particular stop only the very front door opens. So we frantically grabbed our stuff to try to make our way there before the train started moving again. Since I had to carry Violet Julie was helpful enough to carry the stroller. Halfway there the train started moving, and we got a little panicked. By this time Julie had abandoned my stroller and practically everything else in order to get to the door. By golly, she was making it to that door even if it meant jumping off the moving the train minus all our belongings. I had already given up hope that we’d make it to the door in time, but it was still fun following Julie in her determination to “not miss our stop”. (Sorry Julie, I still can’t help but laugh.) Of course, my cell phone had long since died, and there was no cell service on the train as well. So we had to wait until the next stop to give our husbands a call to come get us. The day was saved by our heroic knights. Even with all the mishaps it was still a fantastic day. I think all our drama adds more spice to the story and gives us something funny to tell folks about our experiences on our trip to the Science of Museum and Industry.

Now on the with the pictures. I really tried to not over-do it, but I’m actually only posting about a 1/3 of what I originally picked out to post.

On the train. The kids switched up their seating very very often. 2 in a seat, 4 in a seat, 3 in a seat, across from each other, side-by-side. It was enough to drive us batty.

This is one of the first sections we came across which was a circus theme. I think we could have spent hours laughing at ourselves in those mirrors. Mimi and Alex were the perfect height to get this effect.

Violet loves balls! She was happy as long as there were balls.

This was a virtual combine that the kids got to “drive”. It had a life-size screen in front of them harvesting a row of corn.

There were actual trains, trollies, submarines, commercial planes, horse-drawn carriages, and many other vehicles.

I’d have to say my favorite part of the day was the tornado. There was also some real lightening that would go off up in a dome near the ceiling, but we never could catch it on film.

Another fun part of the day was seeing how each kid looked bald.

I want my future living room to look like this.

It was hard pulling the kids away from these floating balls.

Annie loved the pulsar ball. She was so excited to tell me about how they also sell smaller versions in the gift shop. Really, Annie, I’ve never seen one of those because I NEVER ever stepped foot into a Spencer’s Gift Store during the 80’s.

And lastly, the human hamster wheel.

I really wished we could have spent more time there, but we still saw a ton of cool stuff and filled up an entire day. Maybe, oh maybe, we’ll make it back just one more time before we move.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

flying through the air with the greatest of ease

Optical baby illusions. Don’t worry. Daddy was right below catching her each time.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

pj day

Sometimes it’s just one of those days when you don’t feel the need to exit the sleepwear. When Annie emerged from her slumber this morning with a wheezing cough I knew right away it was going to be PJ Day. Even Violet has been participating in the activities. I don’t feel too bad because I managed to drag my sorry buns out of bed before the wigglets got up and did most of an exercise DVD prior to being interrupted by a raspy child. I was planning on doing some cardio at the gym, but one day off won’t throw off my weekly plan too much.

Violet has been obsessed with that yellow vest since introducing it to her yesterday. My neighbor has been so lovely about handing off retired clothing from her home to my kids, and she happened to have some Violet-sized items this go around. Obviously, Violet was pleased. Notice the nebulizer in the background. It’s been in heavy rotation today (poor fragile, little Annie).

Grandma Minnesota will be delighted to know that Daddy tracked down a hardcover version of “Little House in the Big Woods” from the library. He took the girls to the library last night while I had a meeting at church.

I know so many families are dealing with sick kiddos these days. I hope everyone makes a full and healthy recovery.

Friday, January 21st, 2011

chillin’ in vermillion

Bad title, I know. As mentioned in the previous post, we went on a little trip this weekend to visit our friends, the Knutsons, in Vermillion, SD. Mike went to dental school with Matt, and they’ve been hunting buddies ever since. Vermillion is only a couple of hours away from Watertown, our future residence, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of the Knutsons soon. Mike and Matt spent all day on Saturday cutting down trees and hunting while Jenny, the kids, and I went bowling. Saturday night is when Violet became ill, so Sunday for Violet and me was spent laying on the couch covered in lots of towels. The others went to a nearby town to hopefully go ice-skating, but the ice rink was being used for a hockey game. I’m sure the kids were just glad to hang out with each for the whole day. The Knutsons took great care of us with wonderful meals and comfy beds, and we had a ton of fun (even though half of the time was dealing with a pukey kid). Thanks to them for welcoming us into their home.

Bowling day. The oldest son had a birthday party at the bowling alley, so he was off with his group while we bowled. The middle son went on an overnight trip with his grandma, so it was just the youngest son and my girls bowling. They had a lot of fun though. Annie and Mimi were very strict about making sure each person took their turn immediately, and they loved helping little Emmett when it was his turn each time. Violet was content to just wander around with some stuffed kangaroos.

The girls remembered from our last trip to Vermillion that the Knutsons have an indoor trampoline. They were giddy with excitement on our drive thinking of jumping on the trampoline again. Violet loved getting her turn, too, even though it meant she could only lay in the middle. Poor Wyatt wasn’t allowed to jump on the trampoline while Violet was up there, so he waited patiently on the sidelines.

While I was dealing with the sick Violet Mimi disappeared for a while by herself. She called out to me at one point to ask me how to spell “like”. A little bit later she asked to me come see what she had done. Mimi was quite proud to reveal to me the sentence she wrote all by herself. She really can be such a doll at times.

And sick, little Violet has spent most of this week doing this. Update on Violet: she still has faucet bottom but is regaining her appetite and energy.

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

finally stopping

I do have pictures and things to post, but life was a little off track around here for a few days. While out of town this past weekend Violet developed the pukies in the middle of the night on Saturday and was sick until yesterday. Driving home on Monday was a nightmare with Violet eventually staying stripped down to her diaper and me having to hold her the entire drive with snow and icy conditions. I thought she was better on Tuesday, but she quickly put that misconception to rest right after breakfast. I didn’t get anything done at all that day because the only thing that comforted the sick Violet was laying on me. Once again Violet seemed back to her usual self by evening and managed to have an appetite and eat a good breakfast on Wednesday. However, breakfast made its way back up, and Violet spent the rest of the day wanting me to hold her and not eat anything. I’m crossing my fingers that today is the day Violet will make a full recovery and eat normal again.

Just to let you know how I feel about trying to catch up from these past few days. “I Want the World to Stop” by Belle & Sebastian.

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

piano player

Annie started taking piano lessons this summer. There’s a teenaged boy, Baxter, in our church who gives lessons to several other kids in the ward, so I thought we’d let Annie work with him until we move to SD. He seems to do a decent job of teaching Annie the basics, and she’s able to play a simple song now if given the music. Baxter must be doing something right. Annie does enjoy playing and practicing and remembers to practice everyday without being reminded.

Baxter had originally scheduled a piano recital for all his students on the same night as our ward Christmas dinner, but he ended up getting really sick that day. The recital was rescheduled for this past Friday night. Since the kids worked so hard on practicing their Christmas songs, most of the kids just stuck with they had planned on playing the first time around. Annie did still play her Christmas song but chose a new song to play for her other song (the younger kids played 2 songs since their songs were shorter). I didn’t think she’d be nervous, but she stumbled and hesitated a few times which means she must have been pretty tense.

Here she is playing “Grandfather’s Clock”.
And “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.

The seating went by order of who played, so Annie was relieved when she saw she got to sit by her BFF Alyssa.

Surprisingly, Annie wasn’t very thrilled to have to pose with Baxter, her piano instructor.

Of course, she was all smiles with Alyssa.

The girls spent some time teaching each other their songs. Vi wanted to learn, too.

All the kids did such a good job. It was a lot of fun seeing the range in skill levels. One of the final piano players, a 12-year-old boy, got up and played “The Toccata and Fugue in D minor”, and I literally gasped when I saw the music the boy was set to play. And he pulled it off, too, after only been playing for 2 years. It was a great evening, and I can’t wait to see how much Annie progresses in the next year. Both Julie, Alyssa’s mom, and I decided that we really need to have “real” pianos because the girls sounded so soft on the “real” piano as opposed to the keyboard which sounds the same no matter how hard you hit the keys.

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

soak it up

Somehow I don’t think the writer of this song had envisioned the listeners of his song imagining cleaning up their children’s messes with a Sham-Wow while listening to it.