Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year in Review

We did this last year, and I loved it. So nice to recap the year in one short post. (Bella does not get an entry this year, considering her tastes run very much to: milk, attention, more milk, and a nap. Not very interesting.)

(Editor's note: John still needs to fill in some of the categories for this post, but I'm posting it anyway, in hopes that public embarrassment is still good motivation.)

Favorite Book:
John: Undaunted Courage (Much more interesting than Cope's Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen)
Em: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Olivia: Rumpelstiltskin (as told by her Grammy)
Naomi: That's Good, That's Bad by Margery Cuyler

Favorite Movie or TV Show:
Em: Pushing Daisies (I heard a rumor it will be cancelled---sob, sob!)
Olivia: Signing Time or Presto! (The short film before Wall-E)
Naomi: Sleeping Beauty (The girl hasn't changed a whit in an entire year.)

Most Exciting Event:
John: Graduating from Medical School
Em: Delivering my third healthy child
Olivia:First day of kindergarten
Naomi: Not being the baby sister anymore--followed closely by a 4th birthday ("I'm 'fo' now!")

Biggest Disappointment:
John: Going from the high life of a 4th year medical student to the crazy life of an intern. Rediscovering my lack of knowledge.
Em: Missing my brother Mike's wedding, due to the lateness of my delightful and healthy third child
Olivia: Leaving all her best friends from Toledo
Naomi: Watching her big sister go away to kindergarten. On a bus. Every single day. All the excitement of life is simply passing that child by.

Best gift received:
Em: A house! Of my own! With a laundry room! And a bathroom I only share with one other person!
Olivia: Some zip-up footed pajamas. (And to think, her mom had told her for over a year that they no longer made them in her size. Score: Olivia: 1, Mom's omnipotence: 0)
Naomi: Make-up. Loads and loads of make-up.

Most valuable lesson learned:
Em: Signing up to be the room mother for the kindergarten class doesn't mean you are volunteering to help with a party. It means you are signing up to be in charge of every single party for the entire year. This, plus new baby, equals stress.
Olivia: Swimming isn't scary. In fact, it might be the most fun thing EVER.

Naomi: Even when your entire life falls apart in a very short time (new town, new house, new baby, dad gone all the time, sister leaves you), there is no trial so large that some lip gloss and a dress-up can't make better.

Greatest Success:
Em: Sobbed, whimpered, and made enough of a pathetic mess of myself to ensure an induction of labor 5 days earlier than usually done. (And to think my favorite phrase to the girls is "Crying doesn't make it any better.")
Olivia: Reading books all by herself. (Is there anything more fun? All of a sudden those little black marks on the page have something to say. It's absolutely amazing.)
Naomi: Saving herself from drowning after accidentally falling into a pool. (It happened 5 months ago, she was never in any danger, and she is still occasionally giving herself pats on the back over this act of heroism.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Morning

In no real order, here are our memories of Christmas morning.
Bella was delighted, and delightful. What a cute first Christmas! (She, of course, needed LOTS of help opening her presents. Both big sisters were willing to help.)Santa found these funny little flashing-light-gummy-rubber rings at the last minute, and they were a huge hit. Who knew?
That darling kid table and chairs set was from Grammy Wells. We already love it SO MUCH! (Thank you, Karen!)
John got jerky, and popcorn, and a day-and-a-half off medicine. Now that's a great Christmas present!
Santa left a note on the whiteboard easel that John and I got the girls.
Olivia's favorite present was those footed pajamas you see behind her.
Mimi's favorite present was a Sleeping Beauty Polly Pocket. (Shocker.)
What a happy family! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The North Pole

I know, I'm way behind, but I want to post these memories anyway. Is there any way of changing the date on a blog post to represent when I wish I would have posted it?
South Bend's Downtown puts together a darling Santa's Village every Christmas. They usually do it on the field at the College Football Hall of Fame (which is fantastic all by itself) in a little Santa's cottage. However, because of the tremendous amount of snow on the day we went, they had moved it inside.
It would have helped if I had known this in advance. I was so worried about my kids being cold while waiting out in the snow that they were thoroughly thoroughly bundled. This is Bella, before the addition of her jacket and mittens. She couldn't bend at the waist through so many layers. I think, deep deep down inside she really liked it.

The big girls did like it. They love dumping the bag of snow stuff out and finding their favorite mittens and hats and scarves. That's most of the fun of going outside--the pre-excursion accessorizing.
There was cookie decorating in the Village area, and Santa was the kindest person ever. (Obviously--he's Santa.) When Mimi asked for make-up, he said she was such a pretty little girl she didn't need make-up. He posed for individual pictures along with the group photo. And his beard was real.
They also run a little trolley around downtown for free during the holidays. You really can't find anything more exciting than a bus ride, you know. And for free--that's my kind of fun. (We were accompanied by the Bradys on this expedition--that's Ryan and Kacie in the picture, those cute girls. And Matt and Tracy introduced me to white hot chocolate at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe--SO delicious. )
Mimi determined the fresh snow on the bench was delightful.
And we topped it all off by meeting John at the hospital for dinner. It was a perfect day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve

The Bradys' Christmas Eve spectacular was wonderful. Delicious food, wonderful company--a perfect way to forget that I was not with my brothers and sister and cousins, reading the Christmas story and singing carols too fast in our annual traditional program. Also, with John on night call until 7 a.m. Christmas morning, we would have been a sad small crew huddled alone in our house without this wonderful party.The kids ate Jell-O and yummy potatoes to their hearts' content in the kitchen all together. This left the adults free to have *gasp* adult conversation in the living room. I laughed heartily at Brooke Sanderson's retelling of a heartwrenching country Christmas song.
Then it was time for the nativity pageant. The costuming was very creative and included a dinosaur, a cow, six angels, around 46 wise men, and 12 shepherds. (Livi was, most emphatically, a GIRL shepherd. She came round to the idea once she was given a long PVC-pipe staff.)

Mimi was very angelic, of course. (Complete with off-kilter halo borrowed briefly from one of the other angels.)
This was my favorite costume. Cute little Connor. Doesn't he look wise?
This first video is to show the general chaos of the event. I love it!

And this video is of the actual program. It's long, but worth it, especially if you want to see how Matt gives subtle stage cues. He's a model narrator.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chirstmas Concert

I have been busy Christmas-ing and holiday-ing, and have been neglecting all the blogging. However, in order to extend your Christmas cheer, I would like to submit some fantastic footage from Olivia's Christmas concert. This is part of the kindergarten portion. Some of my favorite all-time memories will now include the uber-enthusiastic chorus of "Sunday Morning" from the first clip, and the completely off-beat snapping from the second clip. (It was even funnier if you could see the three kindergarten teachers exaggeratedly snapping and ducking, trying to keep everyone together.) For anyone who cares, the little boy in the blue shirt two kids to her left is Emmanuel, her husband from the first week of school. He is quite possibly the cutest little kindergarten boy I've ever met, so I don't blame her for falling for him.

*Edited to say: Emmanuel is the boy two kids to Olivia's RIGHT, not left.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mimi is Four!!

Naomi's birthday was last week, and I'm having a hard time believing that she's actually 4. Four is big. Four is . . . well, four. Well past the choking stage and well into having and expressing actual opinions. (Although that's nothing new to Naomi.)
Some information about my girl:
* She loves backpacks. And purses. And suitcases. And bags. And packing said backpacks and purses and suitcases and bags. She always has a bag of some kind with her, filled with the items needed for any eventuality. Occasionally, I make her completely unpack a bag and put the stuff away, and at that point we find: a swimsuit (who knows when you might need one of those), a princess dress (we ALL know when you might need one of those--all the time), several kinds of lip gloss, a movie or two, a Barbie, two Polly Pockets, a notebook, a Ziploc bag filled with snacks, and several crayons. She's the girl you want to be with in case of an emergency.
* She talks ALL THE TIME. To whoever is listening, and sometimes that is only herself or an imaginary companion. When Sara was here over Thanksgiving, Mimi wandered through the room chattering contentedly. When she noticed Sara watching her, she said, "I'm just talking to a giant. I LOVE giants!"
* Her temperament, although still mercurial, has leveled considerably in the past year. We haven't had a spit-flinging, arm-flailing, hour-long flaming fit since March. Thank heavens. I think she's finally developing some self-soothing skills. Whew!
*She loves to eat hot dogs, hard-boiled eggs (which she calls dried-up eggs), bacon, and turkey. She will actually say no to a second cookie or piece of cake (although she'll never say no to a fourth or fifth piece of gum).

I love that girl!

Christmas Cheer

Gingerbread house: Check! (Thanks, Mom!)
Happy girl: Check!
Obsessive-compulsive copier: Check! (You may notice the colors on one of the trees are in the exact order of the colors on the tree on the box. There was no deviation from the model for Olivia.)
Christmas dresses: Check!
Recreation of the family picture where brother Rob and I are happy and baby brother Mike's hair is standing straight up and he's screaming his head off: Check!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Personal Yom Kippur

I love the idea of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Not being Jewish, I'm not completely versed with how it works, but my understanding is this: Once a year, each person makes good with everyone they have offended or been offended by. I've been thinking this holiday season about the mistakes I have made in my past, and the people I wish I could contact and repair things with. I'm going to use this blog post as an open letter. I wish I could really make things right.

To the person whose truck my van door scraped in the Wal-Mart parking lot: I'm so very, very sorry. The wind caught my door and blew it open. The scrape wasn't very big, and I wanted to write a note, but I didn't have a paper or pen in my car. I went inside to borrow a pen and paper to write a note to put on your windshield, but when I got back, you were already gone. Forgive me for being relieved that I wouldn't actually have to face you.

To every boy I ever dated: I was the world's worst girlfriend, and I'm so sorry. I was mean when I should have been kind. I teased when I should have been sympathetic. I was so concerned about not appearing "easy" that I hardly showed affection. I can't believe any of you stuck with me for any amount of time. I would tell my brothers to dump any girl that treated them like I treated you as quickly as they could. Please forgive me. (As a side note to John: Thank you for sticking it out. Why you did, I'll never know, but I really appreciate it, and after a brief stint as "World's Worst Wife", I'm making a much better showing, wouldn't you say?)

To Mr. Boyle, my sixth grade teacher: I lied to you when I said that my homework was in the other classroom. It wasn't. I hadn't done it. I think you knew this, but I want to come clean anyway. Thank you for letting it not be a big deal.

To the boy (whom I shall not name) that I slapped VERY hard five times across the face on a band bus trip: You were out of line, but I was much more violent that was necessary.

To another guy (whose last name I do not remember) who took me on a date and then scared me while playing tag at a playground: You were right. Slapping (again) was an overreaction. I'm sorry.

To my cousins from Taft, California/Henderson, Nevada: I would like to apologize for all those wild lies I told every time I came to visit. Every. Single. Time. It's true that they were a lot more interesting than reality, but they were still not even close. Sorry.

To the bookclub in Toledo, Ohio: Sorry for all my outrageousness every month. My opinions did not need to be expressed so loudly, so absolutely, nor at such short intervals. I should not have interrupted every time someone else dared to open their mouth. Thank you for still welcoming me when I came back for a baby shower.

I'm absolutely full of apologies today. Do you need one? Who else have I offended?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


There is a commuter train from the South Bend Airport that runs into downtown Chicago. Two kids can ride free per paid adult ticket, so, considering gasoline, parking, and toll, it's probably cheaper to ride the train. And it's so much more fun. Especially considering the paper cups and water spigot right there next to the seats. Nothing could be better. (Or more convenient, considering the bathroom is right next to the water, and it only takes 10,000 trips to take care of the 10,000 cups of water. Thank you, Sara!)
The South Shore Line terminates at Randolph Street-conveniently across Michigan Avenue (I think) from Millenium Park, home of the World's Largest Metal Jelly Bean.
I wonder how often they have to polish that thing to keep it so shiny.
We wandered up Michigan Avenue, delighting in all the Christmas decorations, and sure that we (being still on Indiana time) would beat the crowds to delicious Giordano's Pizza. Unfortunately, even before 5:00, there was an hour-and-a-half wait for dinner. Way too long. (There was also an unfortunate contact between Mimi's chin and the sidewalk. With all the screaming and the blood, it was relatively easy to get through the crowds and to the bathroom to clean her up. This is when having a doctor in the family is really handy--the determination was made that no stitches were necessary.)

Bella was, as usual, in the Moby Wrap (all you moms with babies out there--you really need to get yourself one of these). She loved to look up at the overhead Christmas lights on the trees lining the Mile. With her cute little Boden bear jacket sticking out of the top of my coat, several passersby commented on her cuteness.
One woman stopped me, and with a smile on her face (so I thought she was going to tell me how adorable my baby was) said, "You really shouldn't keep your baby with her neck hyperextended like that. It's bad for her. I know because I work in Peds." I was taken entirely by surprise. What do you say to unsolicited advice? I wanted to say, "She's holding her own head like that because she wants to look at the lights. She's perfectly capable of holding it up, if she decides to." Or "Mind your own business, Miss Noseypants." Or "Hmm. . . I must have missed the news alarm about the horrible epidemic of babies who have been paralyzed by looking up too much." However, I simply said "Oh" and moved on.
The trip was capped by a visit to the Disney Store, a place of delights heretofore unknown to my amazed children. The only low point was the nausea of poor Joe, Sara's husband, who was sick the entire day, but hid it very well.And riding home on the train was ten times better than braving Chicago traffic and driving home so very late. I'm definitely going to do that again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Highlights

You all know, I'm sure, the feast-or-famine nature of blogging. Either you have nothing to blog about because life has been so normal and unexciting or there is too much to blog about and not enough time blog it in.* (I have to say, I love blogging normal life. Mostly because then it entails just talking about myself. Which I love to do. Yap, yap, yap. Me, me, me. I get overwhelmed when I get behind on blogging actual events, which makes me procrastinate the blogging that much more.)
Anyway, after that ssoliloquy, I would like to share my Thanksgiving, which was a lovely one. Our dear friends, the Soelbergs of Fishers, Indiana, fame, came up to share our 4th Thanksgiving together. It was delightful. The girls began the morning by thoroughly bundling to play outside. Olivia and Libby had fairly conventional winter-play outfits, but Jenna and Mimi went the "no-pants-but-three-pairs-of-socks-or-tights" route. Whatever else you have to say, it is stylish.The Wheeler family also graced us wtih their presence for our feast. (Providing the mashed potatoes and pies--both essential and absolutely delicious!). It was my first time with a kids' table. That felt like a milestone in my life.Mimi ate all this and came back for seconds. That child can eat.

It was a fantastic feast, even if my gravy was too salty. (I hereby speak never to be in charge of the gravy again.) The rolls were soft and delicious (thank you, Sara), the turkey worked out (Thank you, Martha Stewart!), and the company was fabulous (Thank you, everyone.)
Growing up in Monticello, the Black Friday shopping was almost nonexistent. And I really think that I enjoy my family's day-after-Thanksgiving tradition of sledding down the ski road more than I like braving the crowds to get a good deal. In fact, the sledding would win hands down if it weren't for one little sale. Jo-Ann's flannel. For the past four years Sara and I have been fabric shopping at 6 a.m., jealously guarding our heaping cart of flannel (which is always used by the next year, so I don't feel the tiniest bit guilty). (I put this picture on for memory sake. For vanity's sake, I would burn it and any computer it had ever appeared on.)
I have felt a little conspicuous, laughing and piling and laughing some more. After this year, however, I will never feel conspicuous again. This woman (in the glasses--the other is her daughter) was the queen of the flannel. Both of those carts are hers, plus the stack to the right. It was truly inspirational, and this picture was taken as proof to John that there are people that would put my fabric stash to shame. (She makes and sells rag quilts.) She was the epitome of all the nice people you meet while fabric shopping. She smiled and giggled and talked about her grandkids and asked what we were making, and I felt like even if I couldn't interact with my grandma over Thanksgiving, at least I talked to someone almost as sweet.
I'm done, but as a preview to my next post--a shot of the inside of the South Shore Line train. So much fun.

*I often wonder, "If it wasn't blogged, did it really happen?" I find myself wanting to record everything we do, even to the point of wanting to do things simply to blog about them. It's a sickness.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Here we go. Thank you all for indulging my need for drama over haircuts. I appreciated the input, and last Tuesday, I just went for it. There is a wonderful girl in the other ward here in South Bend who will come to your house and cut your hair. Can you believe it? Is that service or what? And because I can never do anything all by myself, I invited two friends who had expressed interest in also getting their hair cut to join me. Here I am, as the Holder of the Babies, while Kelly got her hair cut.
Here is Kelly, with Chantel cutting her hair. I think the two side buns look is a good one for you, Kelly. Somehow I didn't get a picture of her finished product, but she looked stunning for her Thanksgiving trip to Seattle.
Here I am, with my hair all bundled to be chopped for Locks of Love. You know, it's a strange feeling every time they cut off my ponytail and lay it on the counter next to me. Almost like my arm is lying there (without the pain, of course). Very strange.

Here she is, finishing things up. Chantel was willing to use a blow dryer and a flat iron to do my hair. I am willing to comb it and style it with a little product. I think I may even like how I do it better. Then Tracy got her hair cut. Here she is before. Here she is during. Tracy went for a chin length bob with a-line layers. Very cute, but again, somehow I missed the finished product.
And to show my lack of pride, I am posting these pictures of how I look after I style my hair.
Side shot.

Now, I'm always willing to give any haircut a shot. Hair grows back, and really, what difference does it make? However, I think I will like this cut better when my bangs are a little longer, and when it stays better in position like my muse, Jesse Kelly-Landes. I especially like that little "flip" thing her sideburns do. Nothing a month of grow out can't help, right?