Archive for July, 2010

outbowled by a toddler, jousting, and mr. caterpillar

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

There has been so much on our agenda lately that I’ve still got stuff from last week to post about.

A neighbor told me about how the local bowling alley was offering a “kids’ club” which basically allows kids to bowl on weekdays for free. I’ll tell ya, this is a brilliant marketing tactic on the bowling alley’s part because the place was packed with kids and adults all bowling with a waiting list for lanes. I wanted to try out the deal at least once this summer, so I invited the Johnson kids to tag along with us. It was actually a nice break from the high heat we’ve been getting this year. The kids had a blast, and we may just have to go again before the summer is all gone.

The girls each tried bowling with and without the ramp. Annie gave in and bowled with the ramp most of the time, but Mimi kept up her endurance and bowled without the ramp the entire 2 games. And don’t ya just love Annie’s crazy outfit. I’ve long since given up on assisting them with their outfit choices this summer? At the end of the game the “winner” was Chloe the 2-year-old wonder bowler with a score over 100. Granted, none of the kids were actually bowling, or really paying attention, and the bumpers were up.

Violet was content to sit and watch and eat a whole bag of Cheez-Its all by herself.

Mike’s work had a family picnic the week before, and they had some fun activities for the kids including a bouncy house, an obstacle course, and jousting. I think the jousting was actually intended for older kids and adults, but we let our girls give it a go. It was funny watching them because they were barely strong enough to hold up the jousts and couldn’t even reach other. Oh well, at least the girls got a chance to try it out. In the 3rd picture it looks like Annie knocked Mimi’s joust out of her hand, but it was actually just Mimi dropping it on her own after tiring out. And, I must say check out that beautiful sky. You gotta love the midwest because we never saw skies like that in D.C. or even in N.C. or S.C. Gorgeous!

And in other news, we have a possibly permanent houseguest living on our tomato plants. Mike discovered this little guy during one of his incessant pruning sessions. At first he was just as excited as the girls were to have a new friend. I gently interjected that he may want to move the little fella to another home so as to not ruin his prized cherry tomatoes. I was dismissed. The next day Mike griped that his “friend” had taken a bite out of almost every single tomato on that plant. I had nothing to say. Mike did find what kind of caterpillar it is, some sort of moth, but I can’t remember or find it. If you have happen to know, then please feel free to offer that information. I’ll add it once I talk to Mike again. ETA: The caterpillar is a Waved sphinx caterpillar – Ceratomia undulosa and will look like this when he/she becomes a moth:

pioneer day

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Our church congregation had its annual Pioneer Day Picnic (a holiday which commemorates the Mormon pioneers’ trek west into the Salt Lake Valley) this past Saturday. I’m on the activities committee, so I had to help run the event and not get to take many pictures. The weather had been rainy the previous night which left the ground soggy, so it was decided to have the event at church. I think it actually worked out better that way because it was hotter and more humid than hades that day.

There was a fabulous spread of food for us to eat and numerous events for the children and adults. The primary kids got to play stick pull, cornhole, doughnut on a string, use can stilts, and try to eat pudding while having arms attached to people on both sides. It was fun watching them especially seeing them try to eat doughnuts on a string. Apparently, Mimi was quite determined to eat her doughnut and was flailing all over to get at it. The adults did tug o’ war and our 2nd annual Mens’ Pie Baking Contest.

Many of the men really take the event seriously and even won’t reveal the flavor of pie to each other until the day of the picnic. Mike and I were discussing possible ideas for his pie, and we both remembered that last year the pies that got 1st, 2nd, 3rd places were the non-technical and un-traditional pies such as Blue Moon Pie (which I think was a mishmash of puddings to get to blue dumped onto a pie crust). So I jokingly said to Mike that he should make S’Mores Pie, and he actually thought that that would be a good idea. I quickly found a recipe for him to use, and off he went to make it. The final step right before serving it was to brulée the marshmallow topping. Of course, Mike was not lacking in brulée-ing tools and pulled out his torch for the job. Mike’s pie didn’t win, but it sure was yummy. Good job, Mike! The other pies in the contest were apple/peanut butter, pumpkin, shoo fly (which was the winner), key lime (made by Seth), watermelon (?!?), and flan. Now I’m totally not being biased here, but I honestly think the that either Mike’s or Seth’s pies should’ve won because those are the only pie flavors I would have been able to stomach.

Seth’s pie looked delicious, and I’m still surprised he could create such a beautiful product on his own (Julie swears she didn’t help and didn’t even know he was doing the key lime).

I had been in the process of making the girls some new dresses. The original pattern has an attached apron on the skirt of the dress. I never intended to do the aprons and was just going to make a tie belt instead. However, once Annie saw the picture of the pattern she begged me to make the aprons with it. I conceded but chose to make the apron detachable and also make the tie belts so that the girls can get 2 dresses in one. Mike suggested that since I was making the aprons that I should try to have the dresses done in time for the Pioneer Picnic so that they’d look like little pioneer girls. Of course, I wasn’t completely done on the eve of the picnic day still needing to sew the aprons. I sewed like a mad woman Friday night until 2 a.m. to get them done skipping a few steps along the way and making a handful of miscalculations, but I got the dresses “done enough” in time for the picnic. I’m actually going to re-do the belt strap on the aprons because they weren’t wide enough (one of my miscalculations), and I also want to add an embellishment on the corner of the aprons.

Here are the quick pictures I took of the girls in their dresses which don’t do them justice at all, but you get the idea. Once I re-complete the aprons and make the tie belts, then I’ll have a mini-photo shoot with the girls to get better captures of the dresses.

Julie got some great pictures of my girls in their dresses and participating in their games, so I stole them off her site. Thanks, Julie:) Their family had visited the Nauvoo Temple a few weeks ago and acquired some pioneer bonnets/hats for their kids. I should’ve asked them to pick some up for my girls, too. Very cute.

Alyssa and Annie playing stick pull.

Mimi working on getting that doughnut off the string.

And here are the girls trying to eat pudding while tied to their neighbors. Good idea to use vanilla pudding:\

We were wiped out at the end of the picnic and came home to take naps. The Johnsons called us on the way home to ask us to meet up at the beach. Without being too rude I replied, “Are you nuts? We’re on our way home to take a nap!” We did still get together with them but much later. They brought over some of Tenuta’s paninis, we provided root beer floats, and we played cornhole and bocci ball outside. When it got too sticky outside the activities were moved indoors to play Spades while the kids watched “Nacho Libre”. Good times.

the bike races, the bike races and not always the brightest

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

“The bike races!” “The bike races!” That’s what I heard most of Friday because the girls were evidently very excited about our future attendance with the neighbors to the International Cycling Classic & Superweek Pro Tour in downtown Kenosha. Since Mike is an avid cyclist riding his bike to/from work many days during the warmer weather, our neighbor who also likes to cycle thought we’d enjoy the event. The streets were blocked off into a 1-mile circle that the cyclists had to do for 100K (or about 62 miles). It was fun to watch the cyclists and get ready for them to come around each time. A car drove in front of them and would honk at each intersection to make sure it was all clear for the riders. Annie and Mimi really got into it, too, and decided to root for a particular biker, namely 186. Annie did not give up on shouting for him every single time the bikers came around the corner. Persistence.

Here’s what it looked like seeing the cyclists pass us. Notice the girls’ Hawaiian barrettes?

As the night sky grew darker my shutter speed slowed down, so capturing the cyclists was just a blur.

Lastly, have a look at what we heard and saw each time the cyclists passed us by. You can also hear Annie’s cheering for the random cyclist 186.


In other news, Mimi doesn’t quite understand why putting on her jacket and zipping it up while wearing a seatbelt doesn’t exactly work.

hau`oli la hanau

Monday, July 26th, 2010

That’s happy birthday in Hawaiian and was aimed at Alyssa. The girls and I had the pleasure of attending her luau themed birthday party last week. Alyssa’s daddy snuck out to hang out with my girls’ daddy, so I offered to help the birthday mom out with the festivities. And I must say Julie, the birthday mom, went all out. There were grass skirts, leis, coconut cups, and flowered barrettes waiting for each girl in attendance. I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled my girls were to get these items and discover that they got to keep them. Of course, they have been wearing all the stuff ever since and using their coconut cups for each meal. Julie had lots of activities planned for the evening including limbo, hawaiian bowling (they used coconuts to bowl over pineapples), hula dancing, and crafting bracelets.

The table decorations were so fun.

And look how cute the beachy cupcakes turned out.

The girls with their Hawaiian barrettes.

The girls “fished” for their grass skirts so that they would be no fight over the pretty colors.

Hula girls.

Helping Alyssa open her birthday present from the girls.

Thanks for inviting us, Alyssa. We had a lot o’ fun.

blue socks and happiness

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Annie and Mimi are as different as night and day. Oh sure, they are both girly, love to wear dresses/skirts, and just bathe in femininity. However, their personalities couldn’t be more contrasting. Annie loves people and is very outgoing. She will go up to any stranger to ask a question (for instance, at the bowling alley yesterday she had no problem going up to the front desk by herself to say we somehow forgot to add a player and could they add one). Mimi would curl up into a ball in the corner if asked her to talk to a stranger. And I really don’t think Mimi likes people all that much because she sure can be quite the bully at times. Annie seeks higher learning by constantly asking questions about things or will read whatever she can get her hands on. On the other hand, Mimi is perfectly happy using whatever knowledge she acquired by just existing. I could go on for days about their differences, but this brings me to the point of this post. Annie does not get attached to things whether tangible or abstract. She’s always moving on to the next best thing and rarely takes a second look at what she used to like or love the past moment. Oh, how Mimi is the exact opposite in this regard. To say she gets attached to things is an understatement. She practically obsesses. When she was a mere wee one she loved baby dolls. You would never catch her without a dolly locked under her arm. Eventually she grew to adore other lovies such as Franklin, Baby Jaguar, Pink Bunny, Toto, and many more and will most times take a lovey with her where ever we go and/or to bed at night. You may also notice in many of her pictures she’s got on a headband. That’s pure Mimi. I will fix her hair into the cutest styles, but she always prefers to have on one of her handy dandy headbands. For the past few months, another obsession of hers has been a different set of accessories. The blue socks. The blue socks rarely leave her feet and are usually worn with the black shoes. Forget that it’s nearing a 100 degrees here today because the blue socks apparently provide much needed comfort to a little girl named Mimi.

Note to all readers of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series: Can you see a similarity between the title of this post and the title of one of the books?

short visit and groovy vi

Monday, July 19th, 2010

We had a nice visit with Matt this past weekend. He facebooked Mike and asked if it was too short of notice to plan a visit with us. As it turned out our weekend was wide open, and we welcomed Matt with open arms. Joey didn’t come with him. In fact, I think Joey may live with someone else now, but I’m sure he’s still cute as the girls were keen on asking many times. We took him to the Harbor Market in downtown Kenosha, and Mike also had him help out with picking veggies from the garden. I’m sure it was quite a different feel for Matt who lives in a busy part of Chicago. At one point, I thought we were going to have to search for a new kitty for the girls because Matt and Sadie really hit it off. She kept coming up to him to get cuddles, and I caught her snuggling up to his shoes one morning. I hope Matt had fun with us because we sure did.

On Friday night we also had Alyssa Johnson over for a sleepover, and her parents hung out with us for much of the night as well playing Pit and Trivial Pursuit. The girls had a lot of fun cramming on the little bit of floor space in the 3 sleeping bags. Mike made French toast the next morning, and Alyssa left not long after. The girls are already asking when they can have another sleepover. It didn’t occur to me to snap any pictures of the girls of their official sleepover. Oh, well.

While driving home from downtown the girls insisted on playing “their” songs for Matt from our iPod. Annie’s is “Anniemal” by Annie (a different Annie, but it sure thrills Annie to know there’s another Annie out there who’s a famous singer), Mimi’s is “Mimi” by Maurice Chevalier, and Violet’s is “Violet” by Thao. During Annie’s song we noticed that Violet was bopping along to the tune. That girl’s got some rhythm. We were all smitten.


get your fresh lemonade

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Ever since we moved to this neighborhood the girls have been bugging me to do a lemonade stand because all the other little girls here have done one. I’ve always been on the fence, but Mike has consistently given a resounding NO to the request. The Johnson’s little Alyssa has also been wanting to have one, and her mom was more up for the idea but didn’t feel her own neighborhood had enough traffic to make it worthwhile.

So we joined forces and let the kids have their own lemonade stand on our cul-de-sac this week. Julie came well-prepared with poster boards and lemonade mix in 2 flavors. I provided the pitchers, water, ice, and cups. The kids were so excited but really had no plan. Julie and I stepped up and showed them how to make their signs and get all the “equipment” set up outside. Once they were all set up and had been given a lesson on how to attract “customers” and how to follow through a transaction from start to finish we let them have at it.

Julie and I expected that the kids would lose interest quickly, but we were completely wrong. They stuck with it from 1:30 p.m. until around 5 p.m. when they finally ran out of both flavors of lemonade. There were even repeat customers. The kids were great salespeople. Any time they saw a potential customer they would start yelling, “Get your lemonade!” over and over. They even chased down the FedEx man who eventually gave in and purchased a cup. Julie and I used up all the ice trying to keep the lemonade cool, so we felt bad when we thought about all the late customers drinking their lukewarm lemonade. Yum!

When all was said and done the kids had made $25 from the day’s sales split four ways to $6.25 for each kid. As a bonus, Julie and I baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that the kids also sold later on. We had hoped that this experience would teach the kids a little bit about the hard work that goes into making money. It’s doubtful that that lesson was completely taught, but maybe a little sunk in.

When it was time to make signs the kids just starting drawing randomly all over the poster board, so Julie and I had to quickly take over and give pointers.

Ready for the first customer.

The first customers. The kids had to be given another tutorial on how much to fill the cups because an inch high didn’t seem to please these customers.

I’m glad that the girls finally got to do this. I was hoping that once they did it that the novelty would wear off and I wouldn’t hear about it anymore. No such luck. The next morning Annie asked if she could do another lemonade stand because she had so much fun “making money”. I explained to her that it was a one-time deal, and she was okay with that. Whew!

summer ‘dos and new teeth

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

As a family home evening activity we decided to give the girls a haircut. I’ve been the girls’ beauty stylist since their first haircut and will probably continue to be until they are old enough to notice that I don’t do that great of a job. My initial thought was to just “trim” the girls’ hair, but I got a little overzealous with the scissors and pretty much lopped off their locks. I was actually sick about it at first, but then when I saw how thrilled both girls were with their new ‘dos I couldn’t help but be happy for them. I actually think their new coifs suit them. The fact that it is so much easier to brush their hair each day is also a huge plus.

Here they are fresh after their cuts.

As you can see, Annie’s is quite a bit shorter when all dried out. Cute though.

Violet was feeling left out. Since she can’t get her hair cut yet, I thought I’d put a bow in her hair instead. She had it back out in 10 seconds flat.

In other news, Violet now has four bitty teeth growing in. She has had the most difficulty with them as compared to all my kids. Fevers, fussiness, sleepless nights, and clinginess. Who knows if all this completely attributed to the new toofers, but I refuse to believe that my perfect baby is permanently changing into a stinker.

Violet is also venturing into the world of eating solid, finger foods. I have to say that Violet is my pickiest baby yet. She won’t dare even touch scrambled eggs, macaroni, or carrots. Graham crackers are fine though. But throw down some cat fur, and she’s in pure heaven.

totally rad park (channeling my 80’s self)

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

We’ve been here for 3 summers now, and we’re only just discovering the coolest park located near us. On the way home from Mike’s work picnic last week I spied what looked like a huge and very fun park. I immediately found it on the googler when we got home and decided we needed to visit it ASAP. As usual, the Johnsons were also up for an adventure with us, so we made the trip on Monday. The park did not disappoint. Alyssa even declared that she thought it was better than the Dells and Six Flags combined. I can’t vouch for that, but I will agree that is was an awesome experience for the kids.

Annie’s favorite part of the park was the spider web. Mimi couldn’t get past the first level.

These tunnel slides were so long. Mimi was very afraid at first to go down. I kept seeing her pacing back-and-forth between to the 2 slides, then come down the stairs, and then back up. Finally after 20 times of doing that she braved her way into the tan slide and came screaming down the entire ride. Of course, she loved it and went back several times more. However, she was still fearful of trying the brown slide and asked me to go down with her. I said sure and after I pretended to sit down with her I shoved her down. Don’t judge; she loved every second of it.

The dish swings looked so fun that I wanted to try them out, too. Violet didn’t exactly feel the same way.

This contraption reminded me of a frisbee golf net (that was the theme for nephew Jimmy’s graduation). Doesn’t watching the video of them spinning make you dizzy? It does to me. Ugh, I’ve got to sit down for a bit. (Note: I know what I said sounds mean not wanting the new child to enter the scene, but I just wanted to finish the video of our kids only so that it would be internet safe.)


And I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of my girlies inside the log.

I didn’t think the park could get any cooler, but then they also had a splash pad. What a way to refresh oneself after getting all sweaty at the park.

Drying off in the sun.

Of course, the day would not be complete without some ice-cream afterward. Even Violet got in on the action.

Fun was had by all. We will definitely be going back and soon.

summer trip 2010 – the utah slice

Monday, July 12th, 2010

We finally made it to Utah on Monday afternoon. Our great friends, the Wallaces, offered up their vacation condo in Ogden as a place to stay. I must say it was beyond my expectations and was quite a luxurious way to stay in Utah. I can’t thank them enough for such a great opportunity. Where do I even begin to list all the stuff we did because we stayed busy each day with something new to do. Let’s list it, shall we.

1. Tuesday morning, bright and early, Mike decided it would be a great time to take a hike up in the mountains. We were just a few blocks away from the Beus Canyon Trailhead. The girls were complete whiners throughout the whole experience with comments such as, “I’m tired,” or “Can we turn back now?”, but Mike would hear nothing of it and kept us going for at least a mile up the trail. I must say it was quite an intense workout, but I certainly needed it with drippy sweat and all and kept my complaints to myself. On our way back down we had a couple of surprises. Annie spotted a little lizard that was cute and harmless. While Mimi and Annie were leading the group back I noticed a snake on the trail and grabbed the girls right before they crossed the snake’s path. At first I figured it was just a harmless snake, but then I quickly saw the rattlers. Mike did the brave thing and got a big stick to move/push it back into the woods. The girls were hysterical with fear and cried for several minutes afterward. My guess is that they may never want to go hiking again. In all fairness to Annie, I do think she felt pretty rotten throughout the hike. When she got home she vomited and had a fever for the rest of the day. Poor thing.

Violet was a great sport for the entire hike and did this for most of it. I envied her.

Mr. lizard.

Mr. Rattlesnake and his (or her perhaps) rattler

2. Temple Square was next on our list of must-do’s. I knew if I ever visited Utah that I’d have to see the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, and Conference Center all centered in downtown Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, Annie was still feeling pretty rotten that evening, so we had to make it a very quick tour. To make things worse it was a very stinking hot day and made for an uncomfortable walk for everyone, but I’m still glad we took the time to do it. It really is so beautiful and well-maintained and landscaped down there.

The temple.

The tabernacle, outside and in.

And the Conference Center. It seats a mere 22,000 people.

3. Park City. Mike’s sister Jenni and two of her girls, Rozzie and Maddie, were visiting Utah as well for various reasons. They were staying with their good friends, the Aldens. The Aldens are the family behind the company Skullcandy. We had the extreme pleasure of touring and hanging out in their magnificent home up in the mountains that day. I can’t even begin to explain how cool their house (can it even be called that) is, and I didn’t take pictures figuring it would be a little tacky to do that. Let’s just say that Jenni and the girls had their own wing in which they stayed, and there is a movie theater inside that place that we got the awesome opportunity to watch a movie in. After our grand tour of the place Jenni took us to a ski resort in town that has Alpine slides. We each got a ride or two (except bitty Violet), and had a lot of fun. After dinner we went a Ranger tour through the mountains. The Aldens live right on a ski trail, so it was quite an adventure for us.

I think Violet had the most fun of all of us though. Do we have a future adventurer?

Mike got a turn to drive. He was in heaven.

We made a quick stop and took pictures on the ski lifts.

5. Trout fishing. We made a quick trip to this trout farm. It was so funny watching the fish gather around us for a treat (cat food). The girls were able to catch a fish within seconds. It’s definitely an instant gratification for people who don’t normally like to fish.

Annie had no qualms about picking up the fish to put in the bucket after catching them. Mimi, on the other hand, not so much.

Violet and I just sat on the sidelines and watched the fun.

6. Our friends, the Richards, now live in Utah. Jon and Mike went to dental school together, and Jon also went to school to become an endodontist. Mike wanted to take the opportunity to tour his practice. In doing so we got to spend a couple of days with the Richards and their now large family (the last time we saw them they had only 2 kids but now have 5). We first met up with them at a migratory bird sanctuary and also spent time at Lacy’s parents’ home. Unfortunately, I had a very cranky baby to contend with at both places, so I didn’t get the chance to take any pictures except this one of the kids playing in the ditch. We were so glad to see and catch up them after not seeing them since dental school (Mike gets to see Jon annually at the conferences though).

So that sums up our Utah adventures. I’m really glad we took the time to take a vacation there finally. Mike had been wanting me to visit Utah with him for as long as I can remember, but we never had the chance to do it before this. Maybe we’ll get to go back one day. There is so much more that we could have done, but time always limits us.