Monday, May 31, 2010

Mango Baby

Baby Quinn, the only Anderson nephew to date, is one of the favorite topics of conversation at our house. He lives in Texas, so we usually have to get our Quinn fix via blog. This video, filmed by my brother Dave, is Bella's favorite to watch. She calls him "beebee Teen", and she talks to him while he is eating the mango seed.

So, in homage to this favorite little video, and with the luck of delicious mangoes from the hospital cafeteria, we filmed this remake. Luckily, [please insert a sarcastic tone here] no one in our family likes to butt in on the video action. Or the talk-to-the-baby action. Or the pace-around-the-house-while-you-talk-to-Uncle-Dave action. So the two videos are basically identical.

If you listen closely, Bella says "Teen" here, in reference to Baby Quinn. She was actually pretty excited to be eating the same thing that she had seen Quinn eat so many thousands of times.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chicago Jaunt

Now, I didn't mention this before, for fear of someone undesirable learning my husband was out of the country, but John spent a few weeks recently in Bolivia, working as a volunteer in a Christian hospital outside Cochabamba. (He is responsible for telling his stories from that trip, and I will be nagging him with gusto until it is appropriately documented here on the blog.)

In order to start his trip off with a bang, we went a day early to Chicago to party hard before we sent him to the airport. I had grand visions of Buckingham Fountain and Millennium Park (two of my favorite places to take the girls), but the rain was coming down in buckets, and we realized that we really had never given the Field Museum its time to shine. (We LOVE the Museum of Science and Industry and visit it every chance we get. This is due in equal parts to the sheer coolness of it--the hatching chicks, the farm machines, the TRAIN, the foam catapults--and the free neighborhood parking.)

So, we compared our hands to Bushman's.

And made gorilla faces.

And lounged on Egyptian litters, pretending to be ancient princesses.

The girls were appropriately horrified and intrigued by the idea (and reality) of mummies. They enjoyed a 3D movie with John, which Bella and I avoided, knowing the naughtiness that would ensue. In short, it was fantastic, and I coveted the big-city life yet again.

Then we spent the 87 years in traffic that it takes to get from downtown to the suburbs (where our hotel was), and I remembered why I love living in small places. South Bend traffic delays me five minutes, maximum, when driving to or from downtown. Aaaahh. So nice.

We Googled restaurants in Wood Dale (our suburb) and found that Sweet Baby Ray's, which is John's favorite barbecue sauce, had a little spot not two miles from where we were staying. YUM! I heartily recommend a pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries. (I also heartily recommend not trying to move for 3 hours after dinner. That was a lot of food.)

The front desk kept forgetting to bring a crib to our room. In fact, for some reason, they first brought a mini-fridge to our room instead of the crib. I mean, a fridge is useful and all, but Bella couldn't really lie down easily inside, and I just didn't feel comfortable shutting the door on her to make it dark enough for her to sleep, so we were forced to send it back. This was John's alternative to the crib.

Yes, that is the armoire. At first he kept one door open, in order to avoid future accusations of abuse, but when she just kept oh-so-casually sliding herself out the door, he shut it.

And she fell immediately asleep.

Naomi slept between the beds on the floor. That's her favorite hotel sleeping spot. This left Olivia with an entire bed all to herself. And when you have a bed to yourself, how should you sleep?

That's right. With your feet on the pillow and your head under the comforter. No wonder Mimi prefers to sleep on the floor.

We sent John off the following afternoon. I felt like I spent the time he was gone with my pressure-relief valve permanently locked down. My poor kids. My good friend, Stacy Andrew, said this about her husband recently being gone for a couple weeks, "It's like I've been without water." Thank heavens my water has returned safely.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Teacher Gifts

I am pretty delighted with how the gathered clutches for the teachers turned out. With a little Starbucks gift card tucked inside, they were cute and thoughtful-looking, but easily assembly-lined. Exactly the kind of gift I like to give teachers.

My girls loved this coral/pink/red fabric combination.

I loved this green/gold/peach combination. Especially that delicious Heather Bailey green floral print with the gold polka dot. LOVE it.

However, when we were assigning out which clutch was going to go to which teacher, Olivia started asking about what we were giving to her art teacher. And her gym teacher. And her bus driver . . . and so on. Which reminded Naomi that she also had a music teacher. So, since I wasn't willing to crank out 6 or 7 more clutches (and I didn't think the male bus driver and music teacher would appreciate them that much anyway), we came up with this."Thanks for being an AW-esome teacher" attached to some A&W rootbeer. Sweet and simple, eh? I saw this idea here (via some crafty blog or other, I wish I could remember). Hers are cuter, (I would make up an excuse, but I think she just cares more than I do), but it only took me 2 minutes to print the little card on the tan cardstock. Then I gave the girls some scissors, a glue stick, and a hole punch, and we put them all together in one half hour. Not bad.The bag holds a package of microwave popcorn. We gave each teacher two bottles of rootbeer (cause I'm cheap like that) that we left connected with their original eight-pack packaging. With neutral cardstock and Spool-O'-Ribbon (I'm not making that name up) on sale at Michael's, each of these little babies cost me $1.42. Perfect!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stuff I Want to Share

There are things, my cyberfriends, that you people need to know. Or maybe you don't really need to know them, but I want to tell you about them anyway. Because they're awesome. Or moderately funny. Or maybe just mildly interesting.

Never mind. Here they are:

*Knock-Off Wood is the most amazing website. I want to make nearly everything from every plan that she lists. And looking at her plans, I think I, or anyone, could probably do it. (Nothing is more exciting to me than a list of instructions. Assembling IKEA furniture is my all-time favorite activity for after the kids are in bed. This seems just like taking the next logical step.) What should I make? The Farmhouse Bed? (It really is about time I have a real bed, with a headboard and all.) The Simplest Nightstand? Maybe I should just start with a bench. (Except not on wheels, because I can just see that careening through the kitchen and down into the family room with a crash. And a couple children on top.)

*I found this video through a friend who said, after watching, "I don't know whether I should go puke or start limbering up my back." The first 54 seconds are boring, but then "Watch out!"

My girls will now spontaneously break into "Solid Potato Salad, Solid Potato Salad." And they've tried to replicate a couple of those tricks--without ANY success. (Edited to add: I realize that the frozen picture which appears until you push the play button seems . . . .um. . . a bit provocative. Which is not really the flavor of the video at all. Sorry.)

*Birth stories (which I always become somewhat obsessed with the last half of my pregnancy) are a little bit obnoxious. Unless, of course, you read about them from the perspective of a labor and delivery nurse. In that case, they are CRAZY funny. Or just plain crazy. You need to read this blog. She hasn't updated since I found her before I had Bella, but read her anyway. (DISCLAIMER: Obviously, birth is a messy process, involving not-normally-seen-in-public body parts. Even though this nurse does not have any pictures of said parts, she does mention them, and their functions, with regularity. Consider yourself warned if you are squeamish.)

*I've made six of these with six fat quarters from my favorite shop in the whole wide world. For teacher gifts. And now I'm not sure I want to give them up. But what could I myself do with six clutches? Do you think they'd all fit in my purse? (One for receipts. One for gum packages. One for gum wrappers. Hm. . . . )

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dancin' with Myself (or my sister. . . )

We have had a wonderful dance class opportunity this year, provided by the wife of one of the MBA students in our ward. Miss Kristi has made our Mondays, every week, with her fantastic activities and stretches and lessons and positive comments. (In fact, "Miss Kristi said" is a phrase heard quite regularly at our house, which means she has made a serious impact.) Because her husband has now finished his MBA (yay for them!), she is moving away (*sniff* for us), and our final dance class was a wonderful recital.
These little videos are of the girls' crowning achievement--dancing to "Party in the USA". (Obviously Bella couldn't stand to be left out.)

You can see that the girls on the back row are the ones who really know what's going on, especially the one in the middle (Maddie Galbraith) in the leotard and tights. Mimi's going to get more clued in, I think, as soon as she makes it through a dance class without a meltdown.

The class has been especially fun because the girls have had so many of their friends with them every week.

Miss Kristi also gave certificates of achievement to each dancer at the end. Mimi won the coveted"Most Flexible Dancer" award, and Olivia was pronounced "Best Leaper." You can't imagine the pride in our minivan on the way home.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I really am perfectly accustomed to the idea of one of my children leaving my home most days to go to school. She loves it, she does very well, and she always gets rave reviews from her teachers. However, going to Kindergarten Roundup last week with my second child nearly threw me for a loop. Can I really have two children old enough to go to school? Naomi assures me that I can.

We arrived at the school and found ourselves presented with a beautiful folder, decorated by this year's kindergarteners and full of useful information for next year. We met the kindergarten teachers, including Olivia's teacher from last year (who remembered Mimi's name--made her day!) and listened to the principal talk about how the whole process works. That was exciting enough.

But then we got to go do something EVEN MORE EXCITING. . . .

. . . ride a bus. A SCHOOL bus. Around the whole neighborhood. Not Olivia's bus (Naomi has that number memorized), which was the tiniest bit disappointing, but a REAL bus, with a REAL bus driver.

Can you tell that Mimi loved it? (And that John was post call and exhausted? That's his stripy back leaning forward.)

Let's face it. My kids are going to grow up. Is anyone else struggling as much with this information as I am?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Prom Again

There are a few requests I simply cannot deny: "Can I have some more broccoli?", "May I do the dishes?", and "Can I do my homework now?" But right near the top of the list is this one: "Sister Wells, can you help make my prom dress more modest?"

As the mother of three (soon to be four!) girls, I am heavily invested in making modest both lovely and popular. And when faced with a young woman from church who wants to feel comfortable at prom while still wearing this gorgeous dress of her dreams, how could I say no?*

The situation was different from last year, however. Chloe (from last year) had a high enough front, but felt exposed in the back. Sarah's strapless sweetheart neckline (and I wish I had taken an unmodeled before picture) made her feel uncomfortable in the front. Luckily, she needed eight inches hemmed off the bottom (of that fantastic tucked and gathered skirt--LOVE it!), which was the perfect amount to extend her bodice (the plain black in the picture below) and add two gathered sleeve portions.
Both the front and back additions were simply tucked into the bodice and handsewn into position. (I didn't want to risk the beading with my sewing machine.) The pink camisole in the picture below was something Sarah wore during fittings to show me what she would like covered, if possible.
I didn't use the same pattern as last year because the issues were different, but this worked out to be just as simple. I measured the bodice from one princess seam to the other (at the neckline). This was ten inches. I knew that Sarah wanted 4 added inches of coverage at the front center, so I wanted the extension piece to be at least 6 inches tall. Then I measured from one underarm seam to the other (I don't remember what that measurement was), and created this drawing.
See the orange trapezoidal shape? That's the bodice extension. I made a pattern with the correct measurements, plus 1/2" seam allowance, and cut out one piece of the dress fabric and one piece of lining. Since I had a long 8" strip from hemming the dress up, I simply cut two long (probably 8"x30", just to be safe) rectangles from that strip, and hemmed the other side of the rectangles, and gathered up one short side on each "sleeve". I put the two trapezoids right sides together, with the sleeves between the two pieces, centered on the top rounded corners, and sewed the piece. Slap that sucker into the top of the dress, and BAM! instant modesty. (I have some concerns that these instructions are about as clear as a gravel pit, but I promise it was not hard. You could do it. If you can run a sewing machine, you could do this.)

If I can get some prom pictures from Sarah, I'll post them here. They'd have to be more elegant than the loveliness of my sewing room.

*However, I'm not going to imply that I didn't have some SERIOUS anxiety over this dress. Every time I sew for someone else, I have nightmares that I am going to flub it up horribly. This was no exception. The night before I realized this solution would work, I dreamed that I had cut a huge chunk out of the front of the skirt to drape artistically over one of Sarah's shoulders. Dream Sarah had been sobbing about her dress being ruined before Dream Emilee realized that probably hadn't been the best solution.