Monday, May 31, 2010

A Shopping Excursion

The girls are in dire need of new summer clothes -- I went to unpack their summer clothes from last year only to realize that I had already purged much of it, knowing that this summer the pieces wouldn't fit. What I eventually found I bagged up half of them to take to Goodwill -- 3Ts and 4Ts are squarely behind us.

Since I had my 15% off coupon for The Children's Place, and they had their Memorial Day sale, off I went with the girls to purchase some new summer clothes for them which, as you can expect, existed entirely of skirts and dresses, only one pair of shorts.

Wayne was relieved to be excused from this shopping trip, and the girls discovered that The Children's Place had a fitting room -- gasp! Yes, we never knew they had a fitting room before, never really had a need to try things on. But now with Lindsey growing taller but never wider, and Marissa being somewhere in between her size and Lindsey's size, I felt the need to have them try things on before we purchased.

And my, what a time we had.

The three of us were packed into one little room, and the girls were tossing clothes on and off like the wicked stepsisters in the Cinderella story (only without the bossing around and meanness to others). They both decided on matching outfits -- I couldn't believe it. I would never choose to dress my girls alike, but they decided to dress themselves alike.

When we came home the girls put a fashion show on for their daddy. I told him about their excitement in trying everything on -- it sounded like a nightmare to him, it was lots of fun for me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Staycation

Ah, Memorial Day weekend, a time when many spend hours on the road getting to cabins far north of the Twin Cities, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-94. Or, perhaps they are headed to northwestern Wisconsin, also spending several hours on the road to reach their destinations. For my sister-in-law living in New York City, her Friday afternoon was spent on a jam-packed train, getting out to a beach house in New Jersey for the weekend.

We, on the other hand, drove for 15 minutes, including parking time.

We put on our swimsuits, packed up some buckets, shovels, towels and sunscreen, and headed out for our weekend destination, Lake Calhoun.

We found a perfect location close to the water with room for all our towels and trappings. The water was nice, just cool enough to cool you off but not freezing. The girls had a great time digging and playing in the sand, with occasional trips out in the lake for water or exploring.

After a while we hit the playground, also on the beach, and after a while found the ice cream man, selling ice cream from his tricked out bicycle with freezer compartment in the front.

We came home hot and tired, changed out of our sandy clothes and cleaned up. A little downtime with a movie, and then some brats on the grill.  Both girls fell quickly to sleep at bedtime after a full day of fun, right in our own city.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It Might be Time to Mow

We almost lost the dog today.

A Proper Trade

Several weekends ago, Marissa and her friend Sophie participated in Lemonade Day, in which they could have a lemonade stand in a public park without fear of being fined for not having a permit. (True, by the way.) Lindsey was so impressed with the money Marissa had made that she wanted to sell something too, to make some money so she could buy stuff that she NEEDED.

Hmmm....but what to sell?

Without asking for any help from me, she pulled out her toy cash register, set up a little table and chair on the front sidewalk, and began making signs to sell her chosen product. I knew something was up when she started asking me how to spell words.

Yes, carrots were her product of choice. Everybody loves carrots, right? Especially carrots presented in a lovely plastic glass soaking in water, fished out by little children's fingers since she couldn't find anything that she could use to pull the carrots out with.

It was a beautiful day, she had made signs to advertise her sale, but she was frustrated by the lack of traffic. Hmmm...what's wrong here?

I managed to find one can of frozen lemonade in the freezer, so we switched out products and I made a sign to go with it. Aaah, much better!

And outside of the four glasses of product which Marissa drank, they sold the entire container of lemonade. They made $4, or $2 each. She was pretty pleased with the recommendation from her mom.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Criminal Behinds

This is the face of a guilty dog.

Just moments before this photo was taken, he farted so loudly I swear I thought it was one of the kids. And he doesn't have short little ones, they are long, drawn out toots that go up at the end, like a question mark.

I looked down at him and said, "Dax, did you fart?"

And this was the look I got in return. Note how he won't look me directly in the eye, and his ears are pulled back.

Guilty as charged.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Never-Ending Chore

"Mommy?" asked Lindsey one Monday night. "Can you do some laundry tonight? Because I don't have any shirts to wear. Or socks. And I only have one pair of underwear left. Tonight would be good. Thanks, Mommy."

Yep, it's true, we were down to bare bones when it came to clean clothes. So off I went with load #1 after the kids were in bed, load #2 went in as soon as load #1 was out. By 10:30 that night one load was already dry and folded, the other in the dryer. It went this way throughout the week, first doing whites, then colors, then dark colors, then another load of light colors, towels, sheets, and so forth. By Friday night I was all caught up, and felt pretty good that I could have a weekend laundry free.

Until I looked in the hamper.

The hamper was full almost to the top. does this happen? I swear the stuff bears fruit and multiplies while I'm downstairs cleaning the first generation of clothes. Arrrgh.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Heart My Birthday

I really do.

I keep waiting for myself to get to that age when I don't love my birthday. But that hasn't happened yet, and I'm knocking on 40's door.

Tonight I arranged a ladies happy hour with some of my good friends to go celebrate my last year in my 40's. We told stories, we laughed, we had a good time, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Thanks to my friends who came out tonight to help me celebrate -- just wait until the big one next year!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Tale of Our First Born

And I don't mean Lindsey.

Our dog Dax will turn 12 this summer. He became a member of our family on October 16, 1998. While he has perhaps fallen in favor with the arrival of each daughter, he is still an integral part of our lives, even moreso because our girls love him so much.

Since I rarely include him in our family shananigans, I thought I'd tell a story on him. He can't talk so he can't defend himself on this one.

In the year 2000 we were living in Mankato and had the opportunity to have my dad and stepmom and Wayne's parents to our home for Thanksgiving. We had not put on a Thanksgiving dinner for any kind of company yet during our 5 years of marriage, so I was a bit nervous about the meal not turning out.

As the time for the meal drew closer, Wayne and I got busier and busier as each dish came near to completion. My dad chuckled and said we looked like a three-ring circus, rushing around each other in the kitchen getting everything out. (Of course, I had refused any offers of help.) At the last minute I remembered the corn that needed microwaving. As I whipped the corn out of the freezer, a container of green beans fell to the floor and split open. Thankfully only a handful of green beans scattered across the floor, but Dax was furiously eating them up as I tried to clean up the rest. He got four or five eaten before I could shoo him away.

We got the whole meal on the table, and sat down for the dinner. We all looked across the table at each other and I took a deep breath, glad that everything had turned out and that we were all finally gathered to relax, enjoy eat other's company and relish the meal. My mother-in-law began the prayer, and then the sound began.

The sound of Dax, noisily throwing up green beans in the living room.

It lasted through the prayer and several minutes into the meal. I think he got a green bean stuck in his throat which is why he kept making such a lovely retching sound for many minutes after everything had cleared his stomach. Of course I had to excuse myself from the table to check on him and clean it up.

Thankfully I have wonderful in-laws and animal-loving parents, so everyone laughed at the dilemma. It definitely made our first time hosting Thanksgiving a memorable one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Diorama Dilemma: "Back in the Day..."

A few weeks back I posted about Lindsey's diorama project for Earth Day. She was very proud of her project and had a great time presenting it to her class. It is now in her room on top of her bookcase, a bit worn for the wear but in one piece.

I remember having to make a diorama once in my entire grade school education, and that was in 6th grade. It was a nightmare.

My family had just moved to a new city and I started at the new school. This was a small town, and all the kids knew each other if not from kindergarten then from pre-school or daycare.

While small towns sound quaint, safe and friendly, I'll have you know that it takes years -- YEARS -- for someone who moves to one to no longer be "new in town." But that's for another day.

My teacher had sent home the project assignment, which was to make a scene from a favorite book, and I got started on it right away. Or should I say, my mom and I got started right away. I came up with the idea, she came up with how to create it in diorama land.

Perhaps my choice of books is what set me off from the rest of the kids: it was some sort of sci fi about people who had to live in a ecosystem bubble because they had poisoned the planet and couldn't live outside of the bubble any more. At least they thought the outside world was poisonous, but they didn't know that the earth had re-generated itself and that it was beautiful outside of the bubble; they were afraid to venture out until some kids showed them the way. think this is what the problem was?

My idea was to create a landscape with green grass and trees, and a large bubble in the middle of it with people walking out of the bubble. So we used green construction paper for the grass, made trees that we glued upright, and made a bubble from wax paper that we had to carefully craft into a sphere. I cut out human shapes and we glued them onto the grass.

The day the project was due I proudly carried it to school and before the school day started I set it in the back of the room along the window where we had been instructed to put them.

No one else's diorama was there. Not one.

No one had done one -- not one single other classmate.

So the teacher extended the deadline by two days.

A couple more trickled in.

She extended it by a week.

A couple more trickled in.

At the end of two weeks she called the final FINAL deadline and finally the majority of kids turned in their projects, though a few never did, a concept I could never grasp. What? Not do homework? But...what??

By the time the rest of the projects showed up, mine had been sitting in the back for over two weeks, being poked and prodded by my classmates. Someone had stabbed the sphere with a pencil multiple times, making the stuffing inside of it trickle out. It resembled a deflated, dented soccer ball. The heads had been ripped off of the people, the trees were smashed down, and it ultimately didn't resemble the finished project that had been turned in what seemed like an eternity ago.

Finally our teacher got around to grading all of the projects. I remember seeing her face as she went down the line and looked at them all, smiling at the new, freshly made projects that hadn't been abused. I will never forget the pursed lips and look of distaste on her face when she got to mine. She didn't even look puzzled, she looked faintly disgusted.

It was one of the worst grades on any homework I had gotten in my life.

The day finally came when we could take our projects home. I swept mine up and carried it home, letting it beat against my leg the entire way. When I got home I threw it into the big trash barrel in our garage -- it never even made its way into the house.

I never told the teacher that mine had been destroyed by my classmates before she'd ever looked at it. I was so defeated I didn't think it would serve a purpose.

Thankfully Lindsey's first experience was a good one. But when I saw her diorama come home a little dented and a little worn, it brought me right back to my first project. I am so glad she had such a different experience.

Monday, May 10, 2010

If Every Day Was Mother's Day

I would be awoken at 6:30 am by a little face, asking me if I was awake so I could open a homemade card that detailed the life of "Supper Mom." Supper Mom's greatest skill is that she can rub your back with her fingernails and sing a sweet song to make you go to sleep.

I would have the time to play card games and Battleship before breakfast, which would consist of homemade pancakes and scrambled eggs with lots of help from the 4-year-old mixed in.

I would have little girls running to help me set the table, to clear the table and to eat well during breakfast.

Dax would be accompanied on a walk by a girl on a scooter and a girl on inline skates, ensuring that we stopped lots of times for lots of sniffs and smells.

Then I would go Rollerblading for some needed quiet time and exercise.

Our family would go to Lake Harriet every afternoon, shop at Wild Rumpus for new reading materials and get an after lunch cone from Sebastian Joe's. On the way home we would stop by Dunn Bros. for a strong coffee to counter the coming sugar low and all the exercise.

I would make homemade guacamole with help from the littlest one every afternoon and sit outside devouring it with blue chips and a glass of wine with all the family playing outside.

Dinner would be delivered in a bag and devoured by all with much laughter and chatter throughout.

Children would take baths with much fun and little splashing, and two tired little bodies would fall instantly asleep, with new books in various stages of being read before sleep overcame them.

If every day was Mother's Day, we'd have to have an unending supply of money to support our spending habits, and lots of time for workouts for all the calories consumed.

If every day was Mother's Day, my children would NEVER FIGHT! (It's true, one day with NO fighting!)

Every day is Mother's Day to me, because I am blessed with such a fantastic family and such awesome little girls.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Not Exactly 4-Year-Old Humor

Earlier in the week, I wasn't sure why Wayne was being so secretive when he got Marissa to sign the birthday card he had picked up for Lindsey.

It wasn't until Lindsey opened it that I understood why he hid it from me.

Marissa didn't get it, but Lindsey did. She literally rolled on the floor, laughing.

Ha ha, goob, funny one.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Rut-Roh -- who's eating the Scooby Snacks?

Marissa isn't showing this nice big bag of Snausages because she can't wait to feed them to Dax.

She's holding it up because she's discovered her new snack. As a matter of fact, that little bulge in her cheek is one she popped in her mouth just before I took this picture.

And in case you forgot, here's a picture of her at 18 months, getting into Dax's dinner.

I keep waiting for her to grow out of eating the dog treats. I think that eventually the social stigma of eating dog food will disgust her and she won't want to eat it. Maybe if we tell her what it's made out of it will gross her out enough that she won't want to eat it.

But actually, there isn't anything in there that's bad for her, it's just that it's...well, dog food.

So I have to put it up way on the top shelf of our pantry so she doesn't climb up and help herself. If we ever lose Marissa in the pantry and things get kind of quiet, we know what she's up to.

I think that she may start growing fur and barking soon.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lemonade Day

On Sunday Marissa took part in Lemonade Day with her friend Sophia. Lemonade Day is put on by Liemandt Foundation to teach young kids business skills. Marissa and Sophia are perhaps a bit too young for the actual lessons of Lemonade Day, but they aren't too young to take part in it and have fun.

Sophia's parents provided all of the supplies (thank you, Bob & Paula), Marissa and I just had to show up and have fun. Okay, we can do that.

The girls set up their lemonade stand on the walking path at Lake Calhoun. Within an hour they had sold every drop of the one big pitcher of lemonade that we had brought, and were ready to call it quits anyway as we had reached the end of a 4-year-old's attention span. It was a beautiful sunny day with a brisk wind, which meant we had to tape down every piece of equipment on the table.

At the end of the hour they had made $14 collectively, so they split it two ways. Both girls are supposed to donate a part of the proceeds to a charity of their choice, so I'll probably bring a few bucks in to work at Gillette, just to make good on that promise. It was lots of fun, they are already planning a lemonade stand at our house the weekend of the art festival.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Birthday We'll Never Forget

I'm not exactly sure how Lindsey's birthday celebration got so big. Maybe it's because her birthday party was Saturday but her actual birthday was Monday, so the entire celebration got stretched out over a three days. Perhaps it's because she's got her parents wrapped around her finger, I'm not sure.

But it was certainly memorable.

Her party was...well, crazy. We had it at a toy store called Kiddywampus -- they have a huge party room in the back where her party was held, and the woman who ran the party owns a business called Creative Science. The kids made UV color-changing bracelets.

They made crystal balls from dry ice along with film canister rockets with vinegar and alka seltzer.

The highlight was a Mentos Diet Coke geyser that took place in the parking lot (Here are all the kids lined up ready to watch the Mentos geyser. It's the only chance I had to catch them all in one place and standing still.)
It was insane.

After the party planner left, it got even crazier, and Wayne and I couldn't keep everybody under control. In hindsight we should've not had the gift opening at the place and just taken the gifts home to open them. But we decided to cram it in the last 10 minutes of the party, and the kids were so hyped up that every piece of tissue paper that got pulled out of a bag was instantly shredded by 10 little girls and two boys.

One of the kids was supposed to go home with a different mom but that mom forgot him in her haste to leave with her own child in tow. Thankfully we live only a couple of blocks from his house and delivered him safely home. (The mom who was supposed to bring him home felt TERRIBLE, in case you were wondering.)

And as we attempted to clean up the room, I said to one of the workers there, "Have you ever seen a party get so out of hand?" and she answered truthfully, "No, no I haven't."

Oops, guess we won't be invited back THERE again.

But the reviews from the kids the next day were fantastic -- they all had a great time, and no one was injured in all the festivities. I can't say the same for the parties I've been to, though those were different kinds of parties and I was much older and should've known better.

Uh, what was that? Never mind.

Today, on Lindsey's actual birthday, we went to a restaurant called Chatterbox for dinner, just a few blocks from our house. It's a pretty funny restaurant, they have kitchy wall decor on the walls -- paintings and decorations you would find in your grandma's house. And they have tons of vintage games; the original Battleship, Connect Four, Jenga, Operation, Rack-o (does anybody else remember Rack-o?). We got a game or two in before dinner came.

I must credit our youngest daughter, Marissa, for her patience and kindness. Throughout the party and all the hoopla on Saturday she was the sweetest most patient child. When all the 7-year-olds were clamoring for cake, she stood there patiently and simply waited for a piece. She was rewarded for her patience by being the last one served, poor thing. When everyone else was being crazy about unwrapping the gifts, she simply sat on the floor as directed, criss-cross applesauce hands in her lap. She sat and watched Lindsey open gifts tonight without a single move to try to help her or open the gifts. I made sure she got lots of hugs and praise for being such a good little sister. Let's hope Lindsey can be just as polite when Marissa's birthday comes up in a few months.