Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bicycle City

These photos are from March 7, and while there was definitely lots of snow on the ground, it was nice enough out that the girls wanted to take their bikes out and go for a little spin.

Over the winter Wayne and I had decided to buy new bikes for us, as we had given ours away to family members a year or two ago. Not that we missed them -- we were so busy with our young family that we rarely would get a chance to go out riding the two of us, and certainly our cautious little girls would never keep up on their bikes.

So we decided to buy trailer bikes. Those are the little kid bikes that attach to the seat of the adult bike, giving them the experience of riding a bike without the steering control. They look like this (without the adult bike that it attaches to).

A week ago the four of us traipsed to a local cycling shop to pick out new bikes for Wayne and I. While I was testing out a bike, Marissa wanted to ride a little girl's bicycle around the shop. It was pink and white with training wheels, a little basket and streamers on the handle bars. She got pretty good at riding it around, navigating around the corners of the store. Since the wheels themselves were white they didn't want it ridden in the parking lot and were okay with her riding it in the store as long as she kept out of other customers way, which she did.

So we selected the adult bikes to purchase, they did up the paperwork, did a little tightening up on the equipment and so on, and we were finally ready to go.

As we were leaving the store, Marissa began walking the little pink and white bike out with her. I stopped her at the door and told her that we hadn't purchased that bike, that we bought different kind of bikes for she and Lindsey.

I cannot describe the disappointment in her face. It was seriously heart-breaking. She said, "Okay," through her sobs as the employee took the bike back into the store. It was a good thing Wayne was putting the bikes in the van and didn't see her reaction or we would have purchased that cute little bike right then and there.

Instead, we bought the pink and white bike a week later.

So now we have a garage FILLED with bikes, hanging from every open rafter that you can screw a hook into. We've got Lindsey's little princess bike, Marissa's new pink and white bike, my purple bike, Wayne's blue and silver bike, and two trailer bikes to match, all hanging from various areas of the ceiling. If we want to go biking, we have to back out both the van AND the car to reach the bikes to get them down.

We're hoping they get used a lot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Boring Pictures of my city AKA Why You Should Really Read This Post

I know, I posted pictures from my commute a week ago, but now that I've finally relinquished myself to my commute, I thoroughly enjoy it. I do. I listen to my favorite radio talk show in the morning on the way in, and listen to my iTouch music choices on the way home at night. It reminds me of my long, loong commutes I used to have from Mankato to and from the Twin Cities, when I used to get a whole hour and a half in the car all to myself. This was BC (before children), so I didn't understand how very precious an hour and a half of alone time was back then.

Now, I get it.

So I cherish my 30 minutes in the morning, I cherish my 45 minutes at night. I sing at the top of my lungs. I test out vibrato in my voice -- can I even DO vibrato? Do I sound like an opera singer or a pop singer? And how awesome is this that even though other drivers can see that I'm car-singing (don't care, by the way), at least they can't hear me. At least until summer, when I crank down the windows. And then, still, I'm pretty sure I still won't care.

I admire the scenery around me. I've been watching the progress on an old, three story, massive home that's been under construction just off of I-94. At first I thought it was under demolition -- they literally gutted it straight down to the skeleton of the house. Happily, I see that they are now re-roofing it, and busy working on the interior at the same time. Great, not a demolition but a re-construction. Happy happy, hope I get to see the interior when it's done.

I look at the sky, and the skylines, and the statues and the buildings in all their engineering intellect, and I am grateful. I am grateful I live in such a vibrant, fabulous city, and am grateful that I have the means by which to explore it, and the perspective with which to appreciate it. I am grateful that I fit into the city, and the city fits around me, and I couldn't be happier living where I live.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Beat Must Go On

The other night I was helping put Marissa to bed. She often likes to play her little music CDs from her music class to go to sleep to. She was turning on her CD player, opening up the CD drawer to put her CD in when she accidentally hit the button that opens up the tape player.

She looked at the front of the radio that had become unhinged, looked into the area where a cassette tape would go, turns to me and says, "What's that?"

I tried to explain to her what tapes were, but she couldn't grasp the concept. Sigh.

Here's the march of music technology that I've known in my lifetime:

LPs (albums, vinyl, whatever name you call it you know what I mean)
8 track tapes
cassette tapes
CDs (which stands for Compact Disc if you didn't remember that)
iTunes/MP3 digital format

I remember all of these -- yes, I do remember 8 tracks, but from the standpoint of my parents playing them, not me. My kids will know CDs (maybe, vaguely), and the digital format of music, i.e. music you can't touch or feel, just hear.

No gazing at the incredible art that used to grace the cover of those huge albums, art that had someone's  blood sweat and tears into it, because they knew that good art helped sell music. Now you just need to put the artist's face on the album, big enough so that when you see a thumbnail of the cover on iTunes you'll recognize who the artist is.

No little booklets of lyrics to paw through as you listened carefully to each order, getting the full sense of the album concept that the musician was trying to convey. Now, if there's a digital booklet available you can read through the 7 pt font lyrics online when you first download the music, but after that you'll probably forget that the digital booklet is in your media player and you'll just have to guess at the words. And if you're like me, the new music you just bought goes straight into your "shuffle" format -- you probably don't even know what order the songs are in, or if the musician had a story s/he wanted to tell you through the song sequence. Or even better, just download the two or three songs from the album that you heard on the radio and scrap the rest.

Remember "B" sides? What do you call them in iTunes, those unwanted tunes that rarely get downloaded but belong to the same collection as some Top 40 hit that's been downloaded 12 million times?

Do I sound curmudgeon-y yet? Because I feel it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lindsey has a Big Head

And by that I don't mean that she has a big ego, I mean that she made a BIG HEAD.

Lindsey has been taking a Saturday morning art class for several weeks now. She LOVES it. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago she was invited to a friend's birthday party that was over her class time -- she chose the art class over the birthday party, that's how much she loves this class.

Apparently early on in the class one of the kids wanted to make BIG HEADS. I'm not sure where the conversation was headed when they talked about this, but the teacher, being a wonderful, fantastic, listening kind of teacher, decided that BIG HEADS it was, so he created a process by which they would make big heads, but over three weeks' worth of classes.

And by the way, BIG HEADS is spoken in the same way it is written: in a big, booming voice, as if reading something IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

It was seriously the best three weeks of the class.

Week One: they used cardboard and masking tape to create the skull of the head.

Week Two: They paper mached over the big head. They also dyed hair to go on big head later on.

Week Three: they painted big head and put hair on it.

Lindsey is so proud of this project, and especially proud of the fact that somehow her BIG HEAD ended up with a kind look to his face -- not quite a smile, but at least not a grimace.

I must say "Welcome," BIG HEAD, the newest member of our family.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A formal invitation for brunch

For many families, Sunday brunch is a time for family tradition, for gourmet cooking, for a smorgasbord of flavors and tastes that excite the senses.

And then, there's our family:

Yes, yes indeed, this is our table on Sunday afternoon. Let me see...we have a full box of rainbow Goldfish crackers, a half a loaf of bread, and an open jar of peanut butter, which served multiple uses that day: it was used to make a peanut butter sandwich for Marissa, was smeared on Wheat Thins for me, and Lindsey ate peanut butter right off the knife, too. (Which is why the knife is now across the top of the peanut butter and not back in the jar. Hey, we do have SOME standards!)

Yes, that is a giant bag of baby carrots in front of Wayne (he looks thrilled, doesn't he?). He had to pull out two tubs of veggie dip because Marissa refused to eat out of the one that was nearly gone, so he finished that one off and let her break into the new one. Note the pint of baby tomatoes in front of Marissa. She pretty much eats those every meal but breakfast. I think she ate almost a full pint at lunch then ate the rest at dinner.

The ice cream cones are not really cones, they are plastic play things because before lunch Marissa decided to "set the table." That is also why you will see random play-sized plates and cups strewn throughout this fine setting.

Lindsey enjoyed two bowls of macaroni and cheese...minus the cheese. I'm not sure why, but she has taken to enjoying my cooking up Kraft macaroni and cheese, setting aside two bowls of the macaroni for her without the cheese on it, and then I make up the rest as macaroni WITH the cheese for Marissa and I to share. I'm not sure why it's better than when I just cook up regular old pasta, but she requests it frequently. That was part of this day's gourmet eating choices, too.

Note the lovely dining habits as she eats the macaroni straight out of the bowl and uses the provided spoon as a stabilizer when she brings the bowl up to her mouth.

This is all finished off by some healthy beverage choices:

Oh dear, her eyes are already bugging out of her head. Put away the Diet Coke and let's get outside before they tear the house apart. We'll pick all this stuff up later.

Apple eating contests are not in Lindsey's near future

If you remember from a previous post, Lindsey recently lost her front tooth, only after it hung on for dear life about a month after it should have come out.
Since she was in such a habit of wiggling it that once it was gone she had nothing to wiggle but the OTHER front tooth, which is quickly becoming quite unstable.

Which makes for a funny picture when you see her try to eat anything of any substance. She was craving green apples the other day and I bought a few for her. She took one out and promptly began gnawing away at it with the apple carefully positioned on the right side of her mouth. After about 10 attempts, she finally managed to break through the apple skin with her one loose tooth. It took her about another hour to get through half the apple.

Marissa's Emotional Side: Exhibits A and B

Marissa, show me your happy face:

Show me your mad face:

Why do both of your faces involve opening your mouth and sticking your tongue out?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Funny Weather

This morning I drove to work under gray skies and fog -- typical for this time of year, when the temps get warm enough to melt the snow, which dissipates into the air to become fog.

As I drove into St. Paul, I was interested by how dark and gray it was getting, but wasn't sure what to make of it. Was it just foggier? It wasn't raining yet -- I did not have to turn on my windshield wipers once. Well, whatever, I pulled into the parking ramp, parked my car and walked out.

I walked out into a complete downpour, with the sound of thunder rumbling in the background. Now that was a big surprise, especially considering that 1 minute earlier I had driven into the ramp with no rain whatsoever. So THAT'S what it means when the sky gets dark. A thunderstorm! Awesome! It's been six, seven months since we've had one, I'm so excited!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The "F" Word has entered our home

I know, that in itself isn't a surprise to people who know us, but unfortunately it has now entered the realm of Lindsey's vocabulary.

I'm happy to say that she did not hear it repeated from either of her parents, but I'm still not happy about it.

She and I were driving to her art class last Saturday morning. It was a beautiful February day in Minnesota -- all of 35 degrees! Many drivers, myself included, had windows down to catch some fresh air.

We got held up at the light where Lake Street and Excelsior Blvd adjoin -- it's a bit confusing with two streets angling together to become one, while traffic coming from the opposite direction can either go straight on Excelsior or turn slightly right to go onto Lake Street.

As we are making our way through the intersection, I see a car in the oncoming traffic with her left blinker on, waiting patiently for all the cars to go by. While she didn't have the right of way, traffic was backed up and cars couldn't go through the intersection from my direction, so she could have made her turn in front of us. She didn't -- she sat there through the green, to yellow, to red.

I was able to make it through the intersection before the red, and the guy who was behind this woman yelled out his window, "Move the f**k out of the way!"

Unfortunately he happened to yell it as we were passing him with OUR window open, and he practically yelled it directly into our car.

I didn't say anything, and not 10 seconds later Lindsey says, "Mommy, did that guy say 'move the f**k out of my way?' What does that mean?"

I just told her it was a really REALLY naughty word and it was like saying "move the crap out of my way." She understood and I haven't heard it from her since. I hope she's forgotten it, but that would be too lucky. She has the mind of a steel trap.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Sleepover

Lindsey has been asking for a while to have a sleepover with two of her best the same time. We've done sleepovers with each of them separately, but pretty soon all three girls were bugging their parents for a tres amigas sleepover. I finally obliged (I'm so easy).

This was how the sleepover began -- they all raided Lindsey's closet, pulling out various outfits and dresses and put on a fashion show for me, which I recorded to be played back at their high school graduation in 11 years.

Loose Tooth Finally Gone!

That tooth of Lindsey's that I've been expecting to fall out for a month now FINALLY let go today while she was at school. But not before it looked like this before she left this morning:


She brought her tooth box to school with her today, because I told her she WOULD be losing that tooth today, it doesn't look like it wants to hang on anymore.

And I was right, here was her smile this evening.

Thank goodness that one finally gave up the ghost!