Sunday, May 31, 2009

Best Place in the Whole World!*

*as Livi said, over and over.

Wednesday afternoon, when I realized that John was going to be home at a reasonable time, and that he had the next day OFF, I made reservations for that night at Key Lime Cove (using the Memorial corporate discount and the regular weekday discount made it quite the deal--I love deals.) We told Olivia it was for her birthday.
The decor at Key Lime Cove is very. . . um . . . tropical. One might go so far as to say garishly tropical. (Think of a Caribbean-themed Las Vegas casino, minus the gambling, drinking, and smoking.) But to the girls, it was "beautiful." So beautiful that it makes us look a little bit manic.Considering my previous water park experiences have all been outdoors, I wasn't expecting that something indoors could compete, but this was pretty darn fun. Olivia was tall enough to try everything except (what she and her dad termed) "the slide of death." This was the baby pool. Awesome, eh?And more baby pool. I deliberately made all the pictures a little blurry so my blog readers could get a sense of the frenetic pace and excitement we were living. :)This was the "slide of death." I thought it looked a little more like a "toilet of death," but it was my favorite slide there. (Although this picture is of John. I like a little scandal in my life, but me wearing that swimsuit might have generated just a pinch too much.) And a shot of the top of his head as he was flushed down the hole. At first, Annabel was content only when snuggled up and riding around and around the lazy river. There's only so much of that a parent can take, however, so we were grateful that after her nap she was delighted to splash and play in the baby pool. (Until we discovered that were going to spend the entire time keeping her from drinking out of the little fountains and chewing on the tiled stairs. YUCK!)And this shot is purely gratuitous because I think that baby in a swimsuit is the loveliest, most kissable thing I've ever seen.When we got sick of swimming (as if we ever could), they had cookie decorating and princess picture coloring in a little kids' art center. The children had to be dragged from the park and wrapped thoroughly in towels. They crashed and snoozed all the way home (through Chicago traffic, even, which made the trip 300 times longer). It was so much fun, and I learned several things:
1) There is, apparently, a shortage of swimsuit fabric in the world. Since I own two, full, one-piece suits, I am probably hoarding more than my fair share. I didn't realize I was being so selfish. (Alternate lesson #1: There is only one size of string bikini, and that one size can fit any person, no matter how large.)
2) Tattoos are infintely interesting to children. We can talk about tattoos all day long. Especially when we are surrounded by tattoos all day long.
3) I get seasick. I won't be signing up to sail around the world anytime soon, considering that twice around the lazy river can just about do me in.
4) Watching your kids experience something for the first time is like seeing it for the first time yourself. Fantastic.
Who's up to join us next time?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer has arrived!

Oh what do you do in the summertime?

We go to the beach.
We walk around and around on the sand with a sweet grandpa who loves us so much.
We sit on his lap and drink his juice.
We picnic in our swimsuits.
And we never take off our new flipflops. Except when we are splashing around like crazed hooligans.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When You're Six. . .

. . . big things happen.

Proof #1:
You can be in an opera. The Three Piggy Opera, specifically. Olivia was offered a speaking part, but declined it in order to bask in the glory of the chorus. And glorious it was.

My favorite song ends with the line "delicious, nutritious, garbage stew". John's favorite begins with "That old big bad wolf he was hungry for pork, hungry for pork."

Proof #2: You graduate from kindergarten. Soberly, of course, and with great pomp and circumstance.
Proof #3: You can give gifts to the teachers and bus drivers you adored all year, and you can write your own thank you notes. My favorite lines from the notes:
"Thank you Miss Rose for driving my bus. Thank you for lit [letting] me hav magsin [magazines] every day." (What magazine is my child reading every day on the bus? She answers that question with "The lipstick one." Does that make me feel any better?)"Thank you Miss Kim for driving my bus. (She has one bus driver to pick up and one to drop off.) I love you very much. Love, Olivia Wells the one with Simone" (our neighbor)
" Thank you Miss Kobb for tech [teaching] me. Thank for gamz [games] and sentrs [centers]. I love you very much." (One of the great compensations for all those saints who teach kindergarten must be all that love flowing so freely around. I know that as a junior high teacher, I never received a card that said "I love you very much.")Olivia picked out the fabric for these totebags we gave to her teacher/bus drivers. They were inspired by this, (although mine is quite a bit simpler) they're not very hard to make, and I think they turned out really well.

Proof #4: You can participate in a three-legged race with a boy who is not your favorite person, be kind, and enjoy it anyway.

Proof #5: When your grandpa comes to visit for your birthday, you can read books to him after he reads books to you.
My dad had to leave early this afternoon, and we are already missing him.

Happy Birthday, big girl. It seems like you were 6 days old just six minutes ago.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Family Rules

For a while, I have wanted to do something inspired by this post from Anna Maria Horner, a fabric designer (scroll down). I love the idea of a set of family rules, posted and clear.
So I did it. Bolstered by my painter friend, Bonnie, I worked out this rendition for our family. Rule #7 is my favorite.
I'm going to hang this up down in the playroom. It is already being referred to regularly. Olivia comes to me at least twice a day to say "I am ignoring all the mean words that Mimi is saying." (The idea of that rule was to inspire people not to tattle.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was absolutely wonderful this year. Maybe my best Mother's Day yet. (And I've had 6, can you believe it? I simply cannot.)
I woke up to two beautiful girls (no husband--John sweetly did not wish me many happy returns of the day before he left for the hospital at 6:00 a.m.) and a pile--no, a HEAP--of handmade Mother's Day cards. (There is a picture of those somewhere, but I can't find it.) Olivia's were full of handwritten greetings, like "Happy Muthers Da" and "I love you very much Mommy". Naomi's were mostly beautifully colored drawings left WAY open to the interpretation of the viewer. ("Mimi, I think this looks very much like, um, a bell. Is that what you thought?" "Oh, yes, Mom. I drew you a bell for Mother's Day.")

When I came downstairs, I found a perfectly ripe mango (so difficult to find) on the table with two letters. The mango was immediately devoured by myself and my minions.

And the letters were read. This one from Annabel reads,
"To Mommy for Mother's Day
From Bella
1. I am happy that I am your host and you are my parasite.
2. I love being tickled.
3. I love that you are willing, in exchange for some of my food, to feed me, even if you are slow at it.
4. Reading is good, but I'd like to take a more active role. . . say bookholder?
5. Milk. . . mmm. . . yum.

We joke that in Bella's world, everything revolves around her and her needs; that she is my parasite, but she views me as an appendage of her--my food is hers, my lap is hers, my body is hers--not the other way round.)
And there was a letter from John, which I shall keep to myself.
Then the older girls helped me make a delicious breakfast of monkey bread. It's probably not the healthiest, but it was a lovely treat before we headed off to church. Yum! (It's easy enough that maybe by next year, they can make it by themselves. And then I can get breakfast in bed-Yay!)
Olivia and Naomi thought this whole Mother's Day thing was the perfect excuse for a tea party, so they set up shop in the middle of the kitchen floor. I agreed with them.

It was wonderful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grow Up, Em.

I remember in my Child Development course at BYU, we covered the three myths of adolescence. One was the Myth of Invincibility, teenagers believing they can never die. I've forgotten the second myth, but the gist of the third was (in much more eloquent words that I do not now remember) that every teenager believes that everyone is watching them and talking about them and noticing their every mistake. I thought I had long ago matured beyond adolescence, but I found out otherwise last Sunday.
The organist in our ward is a woman, whom, for the sake of protecting the innocent, we will call "Carol". She is a wonderful musician and a very kind person. She also sits on the second row in Relief Society every Sunday where I am the pianist. Every time I make a mistake, I cringe, thinking (without any justification) that Carol must have noticed and thought badly of me (after all, I'm sure she never makes a mistake). Every time I embellish the music during prelude or postlude, I'm sure that Carol, sitting 5 feet away, is chuckling inside at my pathetic attempts. She is the only person in that entire room that makes me feel self-conscious about my playing, and she's not even doing anything.
I had been asked by the Relief Society Choir Director to play the piano at a musical number. I told her I would be delighted, but that I was unable to make the first practice. She said it would be fine, that Carol could cover the accompaniment for practice, and she would get me the music on Sunday at church. On Sunday, she and Carol were talking music after Relief Society, so I joined them, thinking they would want me to get the music. Kennan, the chorister, said, "Oh, Emilee. Apparently Carol and I had a miscommunication, and we both got accompanists for the musical number. I know you were going to have to get a babysitter to make it to the meeting, so are you okay if Shanda plays instead?"
Carol looked at me in surprise and said, "Oh. Do you play the piano?"
I was completely taken back, and at first just a teeny bit offended. Yes, Carol, I have been playing the piano, five feet from you, in Relief Society, for an entire year. And then I saw the irony. All my self-conscious worries were focused on a person who hadn't noticed me at all.
I'll start trying, once again, not to take myself too seriously. (And maybe I can stop acting like a 13-year old.)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sweeping Booty

John and I decided, living as we do in South Bend--the hub of all things cultural, that we would each take the girl on a one-on-one date to some fun event. After browsing through, we found two that really fit the bill.
Option 1) Sleeping Beauty, the ballet
Option 2) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, the play

Now, if you've met our children, the decision of which child should go to which event was glaringly obvious. And with a quick glance at John's schedule, the decision of which parent should go was also immediately decided. So, Friday night, John and Naomi headed off to the ballet.

Of course, the appropriate outfit for the event had been chosen much earlier in the week. And the accessories were chosen the day before, after some deliberation. And the question of day and time was answered again and again and again. I thought there was nothing left to worry about during Friday's dinner. I was wrong.

As she slowly chewed her food, I could tell Mimi had one last concern. She looked at me and with wide eyes, asked, "What if when I get to the ballet, they want me to dance on the stage? I mean, I know ballet [she's never taken a class], but I don't know the kind of ballet they do."
What indeed is a girl to do under those circumstances? It's a worry I deal with myself on occasion. I've been to concerts where I am quite sure they are going to need another trumpet player, and what if they pick me?

The performance was a roaring success. John said he could hardly keep Mimi in her seat while the dancers were on stage. She was absolutely determined to pirouette and arabesque in the aisles. And when it was over, Naomi and John met Princess Aurora , which nearly caused Mimi to faint with excitement.

On the drive home, Mimi had a marvelous idea. "Dad," she said, "Tomorrow we should all dance. I will be Aurora [of course], Olivia will be Merryweather, you will be Prince Phillip, Mom will be Malificent [thanks a lot], and Bella will be the spindle." Do you think Bella will play a spindle with the same passion that Naomi puts into Aurora?