Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Concert

Our school puts on the cutest Christmas concert in a church building every year.  It's one of my Christmas highlights.  

I love getting my daughters in their Christmas finery.  (Naomi's dress was sewn start to finish in that day.  I hate how events often creep up on me and end in a sewing frenzy.  Note to self:  Don't do that next year.)
 "Must Be Santa" was sung, complete with props and hand motions.
 I love kindergarteners.
 "Who's got a beard that's long and white?"
 The older kids sat further away for their part of the concert, which made photography more difficult.
 However, they weren't far enough away for us to miss Olivia's solemn faces of concern,
 and confusion.  I love that girl.
 Yet another thing I'm going to miss about South Bend.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Like I said. . .

. . .South Bend Santa is nearly the perfect Santa.  He's been so sweet and interested every year we've gone to see him.  

 He acted like it was a delight, instead of a burden, to hold my grumpy fuzzy baby.

 And he made sure to mention to Naomi that if she did, in fact, get a scooter for Christmas, she needed to make sure she wore a helmet.  (Which Mimi has filed in her memory permanently as "Advice from Santa", which is held in much higher esteem than "Advice from My Mother.")

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We love Santa!

(I started this posted on December 16, and then promptly forgot it.  That's how it goes, I guess.)

You know, there are a lot of great things about Indiana.  I love so many things, especially now that we are finishing up residency and every month here is our last November, or our last December.  But, if I had to make a list of things I love about Indiana, these two would be in my top ten:  Soelbergs and The Children's Museum.  My first visit to TCM (with the Soelbergs) was when Olivia was only 10 months old, and there have been many since.  Including the most recent one that included. . . 

Now, we're pretty attached to our South Bend Santa.  He is perfect: kind and friendly and soft-spoken and incredibly photogenic.  However, The Children's Museum Santa may just be the best Santa on the planet.  

Mimi and Jenna (shunning the idea of sister pairs and gleefully sharing Santa's lap with their "cousin") told Santa what they wanted.
Olivia (looking incredibly tall) and her teeny friend Libster also shared their wishes.
And this what endeared me forever.  Bella was nervous about sitting on Santa's lap, but she wanted to sit on a stool next to his chair.  Santa scooted himself off his big comfortable armchair and planted himself on a little stool right next to Bella and had the sweetest 5-minute conversation I've ever seen.  I'll love him for the rest of my life.

Speaking of Bella, this little crazy-pants in the too-large goggles slipped away from Sara (poor Sara!) while I was nursing Maddie and had to be retrieved from the "Lost and Found."  Sara felt horrible until she watched Bella disappear 7 or 8 more times, including one expedition to an open elevator where she nearly transported herself 3 floors away, and another adventure in the boys' bathroom.  

We made some trips down the Yule Slide.
Santa whispered the secret of the slide to the big girls--the one on the left is faster.

We were lucky enough to meet some more friends from Bloomington.  It was loads of fun.  Maybe we'll all have to fly back in next Christmas?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Six Years Old, and Looking Good!

Now, for all of you who are acquainted with Mimi, it will come as no surprise that her sixth birthday was filled with highs and lows.  Ultra-highs and ultra-lows, as is par for her course, really.  
We started with breakfast.  Hootenannies are her favorite (HIGH!), but then Olivia remembered--darn her--that the ward party was that morning, and I had already made the executive decision I would not be dragging my four children to a breakfast/service project, so Mimi was sad about not seeing her friends (low).  But then Daddy got to come home since call was slow (HIGH!), but the two big girls had forgotten about Mimi's motion sickness "issue" and had played Spin 'Til You Drop in the family room, and Mimi was pale and clutching a puke bowl for an hour (low). 

But then we opened presents and went out to lunch! (High!)  And bought balloons and tiaras at Hobby Lobby! (High!)  And then her tiara broke (low), so I traded her for mine (high!), which also broke (low).
She made her own cake with her new cake kit from Aunt Annie and Uncle Pete.  (High!!  So exciting!!)
She was quite pleased with herself in her new beanie from Nana and Big Grandpa.
Olivia made her a "wish box" which collects all her wishes until she can find a star to wish upon.  And Maddie and Bella gave her a Zhu-Zhu Pet and some card games.  (That Monster Mashup game is LOADS of fun!)
She also got a Polly Pocket and some sparkly shirts (someone must know and love her very much), a pair of sassy pink boots, and some little tiny stuffed animals that have been accompanying her on her bus ride to school every day since.

Since the highs and lows come with Mimi's territory, I think we had a more than satisfactory birthday.  I just can't believe she's six!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Last of the Leaves

Midwestern autumns are beautiful, aren't they?  All those leaves changing colors and covering the ground.  And there they are, so pretty, on the ground and the roof and the driveway, and I love to look at them, and then I remember that all those leaves are the responsibility of the person whose lawn they have landed on, and then I remember that that means us.  And then I get depressed.
This year, however, was awesome for two reasons:
1) We just caved and paid for that leaf service to vacuum up the leaves.  This meant no more leaf bagging, just raking them into an enormous pile at the front of the lawn.  Yay!
2) By "we", I mostly meant John and the big girls.  I supervised from inside.  Double yay!

The last time we had beautiful weather, they looked like they were having so much fun, I just had to go out and take some pictures.

 We had FOUR piles this size when it was all over.  Mimi could actually stand full height where the leaves met the house and be completely covered.
 Don't these guys just look like they have been working their hearts out?
 Bella kept messing up the piles.  When John would say, "Bella, that's not helpful", she would repeat, cheerfully, over and over, "Not helpful!  Not helpful!" and mess up more piles.  Gotta love her!

 Disappearing into a big pile of leaves is one of the best parts of being a kid, no?  And then you grow up.  All I can think about now is all the itchy bits of leaves and stems that would be stuck between the various layers of my clothing.

 The best part was when John took the leaf blower (thank you, Kelly!) to the roof.  The girls were delightedly dancing in the "leaf rain."  That look on Mimi's face is one of my favorite things about her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We had yet another Soelberg-Wells combination Thanksgiving this year, and I think it may just have been the best yet.  Let me count out the ways that I am thankful for these delightful friends who feast with us again and again.  

1.  Craftiness!  Sara and I love to make Thanksgiving weekend into Craft-aholic Central, and this year, we made these creations out of scrapbook paper and posterboard.  (Tip for those who might want to make some for themselves:  We used a Cricut to cut out the gazillions of little shapes (wonky hearts on the "George" cartridge), and 59-cent posterboard to make the base cones instead of the $8.00 paper-mache Christmas trees originally called for.)
 2.  Billions of little girls.  (This picture is even missing the smallest one.)  It's like heaven for my girls when Libby and Jenna arrive, and the visit is full of giggles, dress-ups, reading parties (I'm not kidding), clothes-sharing, dancing, and zippie pajamas.  And you see that darling Jenna girl up with Mimi?  That little girl is so incredibly kind to annoying, destructive Bella.  It nearly brought me to tears to see her include a not-so-fun two-year old in all the fun activities.  I will love her forever.
 3.  Joe.  Being Maddie's hair twin, we would love him regardless, but any guy who will watch five little girls (John was on call--as always) so Sara and I could Black-Friday it up is fantastic.  Thanks again, Joe!
 4.  And speaking of Black Friday, I'm grateful for Menard's.  Menard's, of all places.  I don't even think I've ever checked the Menard's ad for Black Friday specials before this year, but I'm apparently the only one who hadn't gotten the memo.  This year, when we showed up 30 minutes early (with Maddies in the front carrier, deep in the depths of my parka), the line to get into Menard's stretched across the front of the store and up to the back of the parking lot.  Our buddies in line included a darling woman who had been shopping since midnight and the foulest-mouthed long-haired lady I've ever met.  She dropped the f-bomb more often than I use hand gestures, and that's saying something.  Also, unpictured is our annual trip to Jo-Ann fabric for $1.29/yard flannel.  My stash is restocked, thank heavens.  I get twitchy when it gets a little low.
 5. Tangled.  Have you all seen it?  It's maybe my new favorite Disney princess movie.  I loved it.
 6.  (On that same note) Wonderland Cinema in Niles.  I love our little theatre just 15 minutes away with $2.50 matinee tickets (but we went during "prime time", so we had to pay a full $5.00) and $1.25 popcorn.  Amazing.  It's possible for us to go to movies on opening day.  And could we resist hitting a movie about a girl with long-long hair when we had our resident Rapunzel (Libby-girl) in town for a visit?  Look at those darling girls.
7.  Edible name tags.  This is a pilgrim hat, even though it's not immediately obvious.  The making of them involved four little girls and two moms elbow deep in melted chocolate, a container of mini M&Ms studding the outsides ("I don't want just one buckle, Mom.  I want mine to be polka-dots!"), and seven chocolate footprints made by one desperate two-year old.  But they turned out pretty cute, I think.
 8.  A delicious feast with fantastic friends.  I wish I'd taken a picture of all the food, and not just Sara's amazing rolls, but it may have been our best yet.  The stuffing was perfect (even following a near-fiasco), the gravy was not crazy salty (I've learned my lesson), and the pie was plentiful.
9.  Sara's pictures which I stole from her blog.  Thank you, Sara, for always having your camera at the ready. I was embarrassed to see that I had taken two pictures the entire visit.

What are we going to do next year when the Soelbergs don't live just 4 hours away?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My new favorite drink

I love hot cocoa--YUM! However, sometimes I want that hot-cocoa-snuggly-socks-cozy-blanket feeling without spending my calories on hot cocoa. You know. So, this is my new favorite thing. Warm 8 to 12 oz. of skim (1%, whatever) milk in the microwave for a minute and a half. Add one teaspoon flavored creamer (my new favorite is vanilla caramel) and one teaspoon sugar. Stir it well and hold that warm cup in your hands as you smell the deliciousness. Drink up with no guilt. And save your calories for when you can really splurge on AMAZING cocoa, instead of that crappy Wal-Mart brand instant stuff you buy for your kids. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Haircuts all around.

Maddie got her first haircut today.  Normally, I wait a little longer, reveling in the glory that is old-man-hair-on-a-tiny-baby, but when I had to comb the tangles out of her back hair in the morning, I decided that I fight that battle enough already in my life (with four other heads of hair to brush), and we were going to remedy the situation STAT.

Here she is, with both bouffant top and mullet bottom.  Is that a winning combination or what?

Mullet bottom mostly gone.  I piled the hair on her back so I could have a record of how much I cut off.
Haircut complete.  She looks older now, unfortunately.  And I loved playing with all that mullet hair when I was holding her in church.  *sniff*  My baby's growing up.  :)

And you know, I really ought to retitle this blog to be either "137 Reasons to Closely Supervise Your Toddler" or "My Incompetence as a Mother."  Because this is Bella's most recent haircut.

Let's start with her new fashionable turkey tail.  That little tuft is right at the crown of her head.  This beautiful feature is highlighted when I pull her hair into her usual style of two pigtails.  We're experimenting with different options when we would rather she didn't look like barnyard fowl.

She also added stylish asymetrical bangs.  They might look fairly mainstream in this photo here, but I assure you, in real life, this look is very avant garde.  
And to show what she was working with before, I add this picture of the great Moses costume she assembled using the towel rack from our recently remodeled bathroom and my Moby wrap.  This is the only picture I could find with her bangs shown full-length, since we normally had them pulled or clipped up.  I had been carefully trimming the rest of her hair so we could grow her bangs all the way out.  Serves me right for doing anything carefully that involves the human disaster.  
Bella's setting up shop in the basement and she's looking for clients who may want to mimic her new style.  Her rates for haircuts are very reasonable (two juice boxes or a ziploc of goldfish crackers), and you'll certainly be original.