Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cheap Ice CREAM!

Everybody--
Tonight is 31-cent Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins. They do this every year, and it is delicious! Find your nearest BR here.

(Can you believe I might have to go clear to St. Joseph, Michigan to participate? Crazy! Will I do it anyway? Hmmmmm. . . )

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Field Trip

Last Thursday, I went on a kindergarten field trip with Olivia's class. Mimi stayed with a friend (thanks, Kelly!), but I took Bella with me. I learned a couple things:
1) Eighty kindergarteners really do not comfortably fit in the very small Curious Kids Museum (St. Joseph, Michigan).
2) Even a rocket ship exhibit does not compare to a pile of dress-ups and a volcano slide.
3) I could never teach kindergarten.

First stop: Lunch. Where we sat with some of Olivia's dearest friends. Top of the list--this little Sophie girl, who is about the size of Mimi. And darling. Liv's got good taste.
Next stop: Taking pictures. Everyone in a red shirt, sponsored by Target. You would think kindergarten teachers would have the ramrodding and organizing of 5-year olds down to an exact science, but it was 20 minutes of absolute chaos. Who thought it was a good idea to pile 80 kids onto the front steps and make them hold still while picture after picture was taken? (Can you find Olivia?)
Yep, hiding from the chaos.
Just when all the parents had taken their pictures, and the grandmas had taken their pictures, and we had scolded and cajoled and threatened those kids to within an inch of their lives and nobody thought any more pictures could possibly be taken, the teacher in the back said, "Now we need some pictures with my camera. To send to Target to say thanks." WHAT was she thinking?
But then we got to the fun part. Obviously, the really fun part. (This was a rocket ship exhibit, and you got to do the launch check and push lighted buttons and make radio contact--and it lost all excitement in 10.2 seconds. I loved it, but all the kids quickly moved on to greener pastures.)
This is where they wanted to go.
Or here.
After they had their fill (and I mean "they" as in the entire herd of kindergarteners moving almost in unison--everyone wanting the same thing and NOT wanting to try something else first and come back when it was their turn) of the face painting and fancy costumes, we found some pleasure in the boats.And the ambulance, where this cute little Mr. Anthony moaned and groaned about a broken leg until he got himself a teeny pair of crutches.It was wonderful. And I will certainly be going on more kindergarten field trips. But I'm glad I chose to teach junior high.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Winners!

How fun was that? I'm such a comment hog. I love it anytime I have lots of comments, so that was a wonderful birthday present. And I loved all the jokes. Thanks!

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for. . . My favorite joke was:
Lindsay's!
What did the zero say to the eight? Nice belt.

(As a math nerd, anytime a number joke is actually funny, it's got to be the best. I loved it. And to think I thought I had heard them all.)

Your prize is:

A little stripey yellowy springy bag. I hope you like it. (It is just the right size to hold a wallet, a diaper, and a small pack of wipes. With an inside pocket for a cell phone.)

However, because it was so fun, both to read the jokes and make the bag, I decided to give away two! And since so many of the jokes were my second favorites, I decided to pick this one at random. So:

Bonnie! You win this.

A little butterfly bag. With rose plaid innards (cuter than it sounds).
And I loved seeing both of the bags side by side. (They really coordinate quite well. Bonnie and Lindsay, maybe you two ought to get together.)
If any of you are interested in making your own bag, they are incredibly easy. I just used this free pattern by "Made By Rae."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time's Up!

I'm making my choices for best birthday joke. However, my camera batteries are dead (we certainly wouldn't lay any blame for that on a birthday girl's head), so I can't post the winners and prizes as of yet. You'll just have to wait!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

In celebration of my recent 30th birthday (30! And I feel just the same as when I was a 20-something, can you believe it?), I would like to say a few things.

1. I am married to the most amazing guy. John secretly planned for my mom--MY MOM!!!--to fly in the night before my birthday. As a surprise! I love my mom, I love surprises, and I love birthdays. It was the best combination of events ever. (John and Mom, you've set the bar awfully high for future birthdays. I don't know that this can ever be topped.)

2. I have not yet, and probably will never, outgrown my love of dressing up and feeling "fancy" and going to an event. We went to a play at the Round Barn Theatre of Amish Acres in Nappanee, and I was the only one there in a dress. With a matching spring-y handbag. I looked completely out of place, and I felt fabulous. (That may be due, in large part, back to item #1. John kept telling me I looked stunning. Thank you, love.)

3. I have no intention of letting this birthday slip silently into the past. I want to keep celebrating. So, in that spirit, I am hosting a giveaway. I have a fun little handmade present that I want to send to the winner of my newest contest. These are the rules.
a. Post your favorite (clean) joke in the comments.
b. I (being the birthday diva I am) will pick the joke I like the best on Saturday, April 25, and mail a prize to the submitter of said joke.

Can it get any simpler than that? I submit that it can not. So joke away.

To kick this off, I want to share my favorite joke from high school (and it's still one I like quite a bit).

Q: What's the difference between elephants and plums?
A: Their color.
(wait for it)
Q: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming?
A: "Here come the elephants!"
(wait for it)
Q: What did Jane say?
A: "Here come the plums." She was colorblind.

Hardy-har-har, I know. But it got me nearly kicked out of my 11th grade Sports Medicine class for laughing so hard.

Go ahead, my friends. Make me laugh.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cell Phones are good exercise

Or at least, they are good motivation to exercise. John decided this afternoon, while it was just he and Bella in the house, to help her learn to roll over and crawl. He found something she REALLY wanted and used it to make her work. video video video videoI have to say, I like John's narration of the experience even more than the intense look of concentration on Annabel's face.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eight Months

Bella is eight months old. And she's getting enormous. (And the light was not particularly good, so even my foamcore board trick didn't give me the pictures I wanted.)
Plus, it's getting harder and harder to keep her on the couch for her growth picture next to Pedro the bear.
Bella:
*has mastered pulling (HARD!) on ears, hair, and noses and is now working on perfecting the technique with eyebrows and adam's apples.
*responds to almost any statement directed at her with "dadadadada." I have been working with her on "mamamamama," but the twinkle in her eye assures me that she has no intention on giving up this fantastic joke anytime soon.
*has a pincer grasp. I love when you can start plopping them in the high chair with a handful of Cheerios while dinner is being prepared. I like this stage much better than when a baby first decides that ONLY they can feed themselves and the dining room floor suffers greatly for a couple months (or years). Oh well--independence is worth the work.
*can scoot herself backward, but not propel herself forward. It's terribly frustrating for her, but incredibly funny to me.
In comparison to Olivia at 8 months. (Wait--haven't we seen this picture before?) Face: Bella's is not as round. Eyes: very similar. Coloring: almost identical.And Mimi at 8 months. Face shape: dead on. Smile: exactly the same. Coloring: Bella's is darker. Weight: I think Bella might be closer to Naomi's weight now than at the same age.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Dresses All Around

Happy Easter, everyone! I finished dresses for all the ladies in my family late, late Saturday night. But it was worth it to have us all in our Easter finery yesterday. (I offered to make John a set of lederhosen in the fabric of the girls' dresses, and while he was all over the idea of shorts and suspenders, he didn't think aqua and purple were good colors for him.)
It's so hard to keep your eyes open in the bright, bright sunshine. But I think it was a good hair day nonetheless.
Can you resist a sweet, sweet baby in an Easter bonnet? I submit that you can not.
One of our good neighbors was driving by while we were taking pictures of the girls, and she offered to take a family picture for us. I don't think we've ever had a family Easter picture before, and I'm happy to have one.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Honest Abe

The Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, is amazing. It's not very big, so you can get through the whole thing in about 1-1/2 hours (if you are rushed by small children), and you could probably feel like you hadn't missed anything if you had just an hour more.
The museum is populated with resin figure still-lifes, depicting different vignettes from Lincoln's life. They are startlingly realistic (I was caught off-guard several times by the leaning and learing statue of John Willkes Booth in the main lobby) and strangely moving. The scene where Abe and Mary Todd are checking on their son Willie, who was dying of tuberculosis, throughout the night as they were trying to host a ball on the main floor of the White House brought tears to my eyes.
The best photo opportunity is to picture yourself with the Lincoln family as they headed to Washington. Mimi snuggled right up to Mary Todd Lincoln.
And Mrs. Lincoln's Attic is full of things to play with. Olivia found herself a working dress and started cleaning that cabin up immediately. She was bossing the other kids about making dinner and doing dishes.
And Naomi found a beautiful ballgown in her typical Mimi way. When you've got a responsible older sister, why be anything but beautiful? The entire museum is very kid-friendly (except for those annoying alarms that sounded every time a child leaned in too close while looking at an exhibit), but fascinating for adults as well. There are two movies--well, more than movies, but I don't know the right word--in different theaters. The one called "Ghosts of the Library" is AMAZING. How do they do that?

And Lincoln's Tomb was located on our route out of the city, so we made a quick stop. It was beautiful, in a solemnly peaceful sort of way. Like Arlington Cemetery, which may be one of my favorite places on the planet. (But is it weird to love a cemetery?)
Everyone within driving distance ought to check out the Lincoln sites in Springfield. Thank you, Soelbergs, for the tip.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Girls Gone Wild! (Spring Break '09)

Spring break this year was wonderful! Liv had a week off from school, and John (by a delightful arrangement) was able to take a week off from his cardiology block, so stick around South Bend we would NOT! We met the Soelberg family (of Fishers, Indiana fame) in Nauvoo, Illinois, for a little tour of places from early Mormon history.
Olivia and Libby have been friends from WAY back. (I like to think of the two of them communicating silently while they were both in utero and Sara and I spent our lunchtimes at Spanish Fork Jr. High having delightful chats. Libby is obviously the more excitable of the two. (I love that girl!)When they weren't joined at the hip wandering from site to site, they were swimming side-by-side in the hotel swimming pool. (Or the swimming pool sized jacuzzi located on one side of our hotel room.)
Our tour of Old Nauvoo started at the Riser Boot Shop. Can you believe that we immediately met someone from Monticello, Utah? Sister Longhurst grew up as one of the Monticello Lewises, and remembers my Aunts Rachel and Lynette from when they were "these two adorable little girls, sitting on the apartment stairs, looking up at me with those huge blue eyes." John made a rope. If medicine doesn't work out for him, I think he's got a real knack for rope-making, and it seems like a fail-safe backup plan.Sara and I missed this wagon ride through the countryside because Bella needed some lunch (the nerve of her!). When we ran to the pickup spot and realized we'd been left, I was sad for just a second before I realized that meant we had 45 minutes of peaceful interruption-free chatting ahead of us, while John and Joe fielded the limitless questions from four sweet but crazy girls.After the wagon ride was over, the girls all wanted to "pet" the horses. (I don't think a photograph can possibly portray how ENORMOUS these horses were. Their hooves were like dinner plates.) When we asked if we could touch them, the driver said, "Um. . . . okay?" His fearful hesitation made the decision for us. Look, but don't touch.
The Nauvoo Temple is absolutely gorgeous. Breathtakingly gorgeous.
All the tours at all the historic shops, workyards, and homes are guided by older volunteer missionaries. (Who sign up for at least 18 months, usually. And who wear period clothing, that they had to find or make themselves, all day nearly every day. They work SO hard.) This sister was my favorite. She was so animated, and she got diverted from the script left and right. (My all-time favorite line: "You know, Heavenly Father . . . he's a pretty good man. He took care of Lucius.")
Can you imagine baking all your bread and cookies and casseroles and everything else in one of these bustle ovens? That you have to heat by filling it with hot coals from a fire you built yourself? With wood your husband chopped? From the trees he chopped down clearing the land to plant the wheat you had ground to make those bread and cookies? I would absolutely NOT have survived as a pioneer. I love just turning the little knob to 350 and baking for 12 minutes.
The print shop. Before Mimi's first tantrum. (But you can tell she's working up to it.)

Those same cute missionary couples put on a rousing musical play twice a night, every weeknight. There was a point in the first number where several 65+ -year old men made a kickline. I nearly died laughing. You could tell that some of these missionaries weren't really singers. (They were hitting the chorus words with gusto, but sort of muttering the verses.) And only a few were actors. But they all did this happily. It was awfully sweet. The brickyard was one of our last stops after an incredibly long day. After another couple rounds of swimming and jacuzzi-ing, we headed the next day to Carthage Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith was assassinated. It's amazing to learn that jailer's families used to live on the floors above and below the prisoners. Compared to today's maximum security facilities, this seems awfully dangerous. The girls all posed in front of a statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (brothers). The spirit at Carthage is very tender, and it was only accentuated by the testimony of the sister missionary who led us on our tour.Annabel got her first solo picture at the feet of Joseph Smith (and nearly took a header off the statue's base, hence the steadying arm of Daddy).

One of my favorite images from our trip is of these two little girls, both new-reading kindergarteners, trying to figure out this sign at Carthage. It obviously requires a lot of concentration to read.
We hit the Lincoln Museum in Springfield on the way back, and it is amazing. Cool enough to deserve a post of its own, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Tragic Loss

We have had a tragic loss in our family, as evidenced by the pictures below.

My dear sweet Olivia, who always copes perfectly well with change of any kind, lost a tooth. You would think a loss of this magnitude would be incredibly traumatic, but of course, you can see, it was not. At all. Not a tear was shed, not a scream, not a bit of sadness. Astonishing, really, considering how intensely painful it is to lose a tooth.
She seems to have been mollified by the crisp green dollar left under her pillow, and I think that things will soon return to normal around here.