Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tour de Neighborhood

Liv has been freaking out about riding her bike without training wheels for about three months. And by "freaking out", I mean "bursting into tears when the topic is mentioned, and sobbing uncontrollably as her incredibly mean parents push her bike to the stop sign and back". Well, after walking group Monday morning, we came home and she wanted to give it a try. Five minutes later (I am no exaggerating), we had this.

I am posting these little videos for a few reasons:
1) As historical reminders to myself that Olivia always pulls through. Just when I think the sobbing and fits and bawling over a new experience (a new experience such as walking, potty training, swimming, preschool, kindergarten, a.k.a. EVERYTHING) are going to drive both of us to suicide, she succeeds. And she succeeds fantastically.
2) As a prompt for a discussion about rewards vs. bribes. I decided that I would offer Olivia a reward for learning to ride her bike with no training wheels. If she could make it from our driveway to the stop sign and back with no assistance from me whatsoever, she could pick something out of our present box. Is this a bribe? Or a reward? (And is a reward the same thing as "positive reinforcement"?)
3) As a little chisel to my vanity. I hate my voice as recorded, but it probably does me good to hear it and post it anyway.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Girls, Happy Moms

We had some visitors last week--lovely, lovely visitors from Indianapolis. Sara brought her two darling girls to entertain my darling girls, and the moms were left with nothing more to do that sit around, eat limey popcorn (have you tried Orville Redenbacher's Lime and Salt microwave popcorn? It's delicious!) and talk. Well, maybe we had to referee once or twice. . . and the kids occasionally wanted to be fed (can you believe the nerve?), but it was fantastic.

We started with playing in the water. (That's my cute neighbor Simone wielding the Hose of Power.)

Libby is only six weeks younger than my Olivia, but I think she might, just might, be half Livi's size. She weighs the same amount Mimi does.
And by happy coincidence, Mimi and Jenna had twinner swimsuits. It was the delight of their little lives.
On Thursday, the rain forced us to come up with something a little different (although I'm not going to lie. We let the girls wear their swimsuits out in the rain all morning while Sara showed me how to make a Whirligig Quilt. I figured that 10,000 dirty beach towels was a small price to pay for a morning of peaceful bliss.) We went to HealthWorks Museum with some coupons the girls got for Christmas from the residency. They have a fun climbing wall. . .
. . . but this light-up floor was the real hit. The game consists of jumping on those lighted "bugs." It's my personal favorite game in the museum, and normally I insist on playing it over and over again, knocking all kinds of little kids out of my way, sending them bawling back to their mothers. However, I tried not to show that side of my personality when I was with Sara. So the girls actually got to play.
We got home just in time to grab our wonderful babysitter, Madeline, and then Sara and I headed out to the real reason for her visit: The free, live "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me"* show in Chicago's Millennium Park. Here is our host, Peter Sagal, whose physical appearance was a disappointment at first, but whose voice and quick wit I love so much I had forgotten that disappoinment by the end of the show. (Peter, if you are reading this, sorry for the implied insult. You're welcome for the backhanded compliment.) To his left is Carl Kasell, whose voice is so awesome it didn't matter what he looked like, I could never be disappointed. One of these days I'm going to win the prize of him recording the message on our home answering machine. My only real disappointment was that Mo Raca, my favorite of the panelists they use on the show, was not at the live performance. And Tom Bodette, my second favorite: Not there either. And Charlie Pierce, my least favorite, was even more vocal than usual. (So I guess that's three disappointments. But they all fade in my overall memory of things.)

*The NPR news quiz game show. It's usually played on Saturday mornings, but I listen to it almost exclusively as a podcast--for FREE!--from iTunes. If you haven't heard it, you have to try it. It's NPR, so it's definitely liberally biased, but at least it's not trying to present itself as news, like the equally liberally-biased "Diane Reem (sp?) Show" or "All Things Considered" or (heaven forbid!) "Fresh Air with Terri Gros".

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What to wear, what to wear. . .

You know, I have my fair share of dilemmas in the closet, trying to figure out which combination of blouses, skirts, trousers, dresses, shoes, and accessories I should wear to any given event. (Sidenote: Maybe I want a uniform? I tease my mom that when she finds something she likes, she buys 10--one in each color, but maybe that's a good idea? ) However, my girls have no such indecisiveness. When they were told we were going to a reception, further defined as a "wedding party", they immediately arrived at these outfits.Flower girl dresses from my brother Dave's wedding, tiaras from Aunt Rebekah, and veils (Mimi's being an actual dress-up veil, Olivia's being a dancing skirt doing veil duty).
They were a hit. The bride, delightful Amanda Standiford-Johnson, exclaimed perfectly at their loveliness, thrilling my girls to no end. ("Olivia, the marry-girl talked to me.") And I've long given up my embarrassment at being accompanied by "beautiful" outfits to anywhere but church.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Flaky as a pie crust

Whew! It was a busy weekend. I went from one thing to the next to the next to the next, and I forgot my camera every time. (I am such a flake!) Doncha just love when that happens? So, even though I can't document it visually, I shall document it wordily. (Wordily? Well, it's a word now.)
1. Friday Morning 10:30: Primary Service Activity
I've been put back in with the children's organization in our church, and we had a service project cleaning up the zoo's park. It was lots of fun, once I got Mimi into the spirit of "treasure hunt" rather than "trash spotting." The kids all worked fast and hard, and we had that place spic and span in under 45 minutes.
2. 12:30: Pick up race packets.
I had registered myself, and 10 othe r people for different events in the Sunburst Marathon extravaganza, and I volunteered to pick up all the packets at the College Football Hall of Fame. (Any excuse to visit, right?) It was a madhouse, but an organized one. Find the bib numbers, find the packet, find the timing chips, find the t-shirts. Perfect.
3. 1:45: Film roast material.
Every year, when the outgoing residents graduate, the first and second years put together a little video tribute. Well, maybe it's less a tribute, and more a mockery. I don't want to spill the beans, but I laughed harder in the hour I was there than I have in a long time. And since most of it needed to be filmed in one take, my laughter is going to be immortalized in the finished product. It was hilarious.
4. 5:15: Go to Family Fun Walk.
Sunburst puts together a little Family Walk the night before the marathon. The Bradys and the Wellses jaunted our way downtown and walked a couple miles all together. The DJ at the end had all the kids dancing up on the stage, and I REALLY wish I had remembered my camera. It was fantastic.
5: Saturday Morning 6:30: Drop off kids and 7:15: 5k race.
Tracy volunteered to watch my kids while I ran my 5k race. (I thought briefly about the marathon, but then decided I needed to give someone else a chance to win this year. Maybe 2010.) I haven't run 3 miles in over 5 years (scary, eh?), and my training for this race consisted of exactly 4 runs of about 2 miles each. I've changed my ways, though. I had forgotten how much I love to race, and I want to run at least a couple more 5ks this year. (The best thing about all the Sunburst races is that they start at the College Football Hall of Fame, and they end on the 50-yard line of NOTRE DAME STADIUM. Can it get any cooler? In fact, the runners get to enter the stadium right under the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign. I raised my arms in victory as I passed under the sign, but none of my fellow runners joined me in celebration. Too bad for them. And, to show how very UNvain I am, click here to see pictures of me at the finish line.)
6. 8:30 : Watch Tracy's kids
Tracy, at 6-1/2 months pregnant, was not up for the 5k (wimp!), so I watched her kids while she dominated the other competitors in the fitness walk.
7. 11:30: Drive to Chicago
The Sandersons, Kindreds, and Galbraiths had headed out to the temple earlier, but they said I could join them and partake of the babystting swap. So, I loaded my sorer-than-usual body and three kids into the van and drove to Chicago. . .
8. 3:00: Temple session
. . . where I was able to attend my first temple session in Chicago. Delightful, as all temple sessions are. Is there any place with a higher concentration of perfectly cheerful and kind old people?
9. 6:00: IKEA stop.
Top off my productive day with an IKEA run. Feed the kids in that genius-of-an-idea IKEA cafeteria and pick up some fabric (for another reupholstery project) and curtains. Thank you, Kindreds and Sandersons, for corraling my children. This would have been impossible on my own.
10: 11:30: Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
That Eastern-to-Central time change is so lovely when one is driving to Chicago, but it really bites you in the booty on the way back. 11:30 is just a tiny tiny bit too late for my little kids. It made our Sunday experience even more grumpy than usual. Worth it? Yes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adding sleeves

There is a wonderful young woman at church named Chloe. Her high school prom was last month, and she had the most beautiful dress. The only problem is that her dress was strapless, and she wanted a bit more coverage, being a modest young lady and all that.
Enter me: Emilee the tailor. Novice tailor, really, having never worked with anything as gorgeous as Chloe's dress. But I had an idea--stemming from this pattern that I had once picked up at a 99-cent sale at JoAnn's. Now, for all you people out there who might ever be associated with someone who wants sleeves added to a strapless gown, run--don't walk, RUN!--and buy this pattern. The modification becomes very simple. (Seriously. If you can run a sewing machine, you could make this work. Just cut out the pieces, line them if you wish--I did--, and pin them on the person wearing the dress to see where they need to be attached. Then sew them on like you'd sew on a button. Or a Boy Scout patch. Easy peasy.) I mean, the pattern dress is basically a strapless dress with a cap-sleeve and back piece added on after the fact. Perfect for our uses. Doesn't she look stunning? And the back. (I loved that this pattern piece covered up the back, too. I hate it when my back is bare and I feel naked. You know?)Now certainly a trained dressmaker could have done a better job, but would a trained dressmaker pose with the lovely lady in her finished gown? Well, maybe. But. . . would a trained dressmaker deliberately look especially frumpy just to make the lovely young lady look even more beautiful? I doubt it. All the fabric for this came from the little scarf that is so often sold with the strapless formal gown. There was even enough left over for this cute little purse.