Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making Holiday "Crackers"

Last night, I made my girls some holiday "crackers" to add a little something special to their New Year's Eve celebration. I have to say, they were super easy and they look adorable (if I do say so myself!) -- and best of all, they did not cost me a dime! My husband stopped at the grocery store last night to pick up a few things for our New Year's celebration, and I asked him to check out the party supply aisle for some little trinkets to add to the crackers -- plastic necklaces, plastic rings, whatever. He came home with nothing -- couldn't find anything! So I scrounged around the house and this is what I found:

- Hershey's kisses (bought for Christmas, never opened) -- I put 3 in each cracker.

- (2) plastic beaded necklaces left over from past 4th of July parties -- 1 necklace for each of my girls.

- (2) star-shaped plastic princess wands, pulled out of the "Rainy Day Box", and left over from birthday goodie bags -- again, 1 for each girl.

- Stickers -- again, from the Rainy Day Box -- I had a few different kinds for each of my girls.

- And finally, I took a little strip of paper for each girl and wrote a fortune on one side and "lucky numbers" on the opposite side -- the fortunes were things like, "You will do very well in school this year" and the lucky numbers were their ages and their birth dates.

I took a cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper and cut 2 smaller tubes, just long enough to fit all of the goodies (you can also use toilet paper or paper towel rolls). Then I took some tissue paper that I had left over from my gift wrapping supplies (last year I think I used wrapping paper - use whatever you have!). I rolled the stuffed tubes up in the tissue, and tied the ends with some curling ribbon. Finally, I marked an initial on the outside of each, so that I knew who to give them to -- the goodies are the same, but the fortunes are different. I think they came out great and I know my girls will love them!

How will you celebrate New Year's this year?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting Ready for New Year's Eve!

I'm still recuperating from the hustle and bustle of Christmas -- we had a wonderful time with my husband's family, who came out from Long Island, and I will post some pictures and share our holiday fun later. But for now, it's time to get ready for New Year's Eve, and I had so much fun making "crackers" for the kids, that I thought I'd share that post again for anyone else that wants to try their hand at it.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and I would love to hear all about it! I'll share my stories soon!

Friday, December 19, 2008

After the Playdate!

The other day, my littlest girlie and I enjoyed a playdate with two of my friends and their daughters. We invited them over for a little lunch and a lot of fun playing with all of the toys, listening to holiday music, and some grown-up girl talk! They are all getting to the age where they can actually play nicely together -- hence the time for the girl talk!! Here's how the kids looked by the end of the playdate -- it was obviously nap time, and they were ready!! (So were the moms, to be honest...)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh, How the Years Go By!

When we were preparing the nursery for our youngest daughter, I found this great mirror that I asked my husband to hang low to the floor so that she could crawl over and see herself in it. (Was she not the cutest little fuzzy-headed thing?) Lately, I've been thinking that it's probably time for us to raise it up a little higher for her.

Well, one of the perks of having family coming to stay with us for the holidays, is that we start to get little things checked off our "to do" list. My husband started on his list yesterday, and one of the things he did was raise the little mirror...

Needless to say, I was NOT prepared for how choked up I would get when I went into her room last night and saw the mirror in it's new place on the wall!! My baby is growing up too quickly! Is there a name for the phenomenon where time virtually stands still when I am sitting at my desk at work, and yet my children are growing up at the speed of light?

My sister-in-law, Jess, mentioned the other day that my husband's sister had 8MM home movies from my mother-in-law's childhood put onto dvd for her birthday. Jess said that they watched them at Mom's birthday party (in Long Island) and Jess was feeling sad that she had put off getting a video camera for so long. She said that what she used to think of as the high cost of the camera, was not nearly so valuable as the years that she has missed video-taping her two children. I was lucky enough to get a video camera before our first daughter was born, and I have quite a bit of video, but I am vowing to be even better this next year -- when we go to visit family out of town, or when we are at a family party -- I am vowing to TAKE THE CAMERA OUT OF THE CAR! You heard it here first -- my first New Year's resolution!! (I think I'll start it early -- at Christmas, when the family is in town from Long Island!)

Are there any little signs that make you take stock, and realize how quickly the years go by?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can You Feel the Blog Love?

I am proud to say that Christine at "Living Beautifully, Frugally" has awarded me this lovely blog award, which I feel is justly deserved! (Ok, she's my best friend, but really, this is a nice blog!) If you haven't checked out Christine's blog yet, be sure to check her out -- she is currently a stay at home mom who chose to take a break from her career in exchange for valuable time with her daughter before she begins elementary school. Christine has a thoughtful and witty way of sharing her ideas for being frugal, while still enjoying life.

The rules for this award are to list 5 of your addictions and 5 Blogs you would like to recommend for this award!

First, my "addictions" (these are in no particular order...):

1) Wegmans -- our fabulous local grocery store -- unfortunately for my checkbook and my waistline, I am always enticed by their beautiful displays and their fantastic marketing -- I walk in for 2 things, and walk out with 5 bags!

2) Holiday Decorations -- for any holiday -- no discriminating over here! I have an abundance of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and 4th of July decorations in particular, but I don't want the other holidays to feel left out, and I am trying to show them the love as well! Truth be told, I say that I am decorating for the kids, but I enjoy it as much as they do!

3) Blogs -- before Christine started blogging, I didn't even know what a blog was! Now, I have my favorites that I check almost everyday!

4) "Home-Making" -- I love trying to make my home more inviting for my family, in particular, and our friends who visit. Whether it's trying to keep up with my little mess-makers, or working on decorating this room or that (I'm talking home decor now, not holiday...) -- I love making my house feel like a home!

5) Toile! -- And in keeping with the home-making theme that I just mentioned -- I am currently WILD about toile! Love it! I have managed to work toile into my upstairs bathroom, my dining room, and hopefully this week my guest room and downstairs bathroom! If I could find toile Christmas ornaments -- I would be in heaven! I promised my husband I would lay off his office though -- no toile is allowed to pass through that door...

And now, on to the blogs that I frequent (not including Christine's, who I read daily!):

Cherry Hill Cottage
Tina from Cherry Hill Cottage shares wonderful recipes and her beautiful cottage home decorating ideas.

A Soft Place to Land
Kimba from A Soft Place to Land shares her great home decorating and craft ideas and she loves making home a haven for her family. Also, this woman is not afraid of paint, and I love her for that!

Stretch Marks (aka Really Bad Hair Day)
I just love reading Melissa Lee's blog about her life with her husband "Attorney General" and their 2 beautiful children. She will have you laughing out loud -- just ask my officemate who reads her blog on lunch!

Nesting Place
The Nester is amazing! What that woman can do with some feathers and some rags -- unbelieveable! She has me hooked on tassles (more home decor -- don't get fresh!) and rag garlands. She is all about "Mis-treatments" as she calls them -- beautiful window and home decor treatments with the fuss and muss of sewing -- her trusty assistant? Her glue gun!

The Painted House
I love to read Angela's blog about life with her husband and their 3 children. Her husband successfully battled cancer this past year and to help him out with that the whole family went vegan -- she has lots of recipes on there, and I have to say, everything looks delicious! She is also a talented artist and I love to see her home decorating ideas!

So, while you are on your blogging travels -- check out some of these amazing women! And thanks again, Christine!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter Wishes Garland - Craft for the Kids

Disclaimer: I saw this adorable garland on one of the many decorating-themed blogs that I read, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out whose it was -- so forgive me, fellow blogger, if you read this and it was your idea, please let me know so I can give you credit for the inspiration!!

Anyway, I saw this Thanksgiving garland that someone brilliant made and it was leaves cut out of paper and they wrote all of their blessings (I believe...) on each leaf, strung it together, and hung it on their fireplace mantle. Totally cute idea, but as usual, I found it a little too late to try it out for Thanksgiving. Instead, my daughter and I made our own version for the rest of the holiday season -- "Winter Wishes" we are calling ours, and we thought we'd share it with you!

I scrounged some construction paper that my girl had miraculously not already drawn on, and I drew a mitten and a stocking -- both very simple, very basic. I cut them out and used them as templates to make many more stockings and mittens, all in different colors. My girl and I both took turns writing the name of some family members or friends on one side of each mitten or stocking, and then on the other side, we wrote a wish for them -- ex. "We wish that Ci-Ci would have a safe trip to our house for Christmas", "We wish that Emmy would get all A's on her test" (that was my girl's wish for her cousin!), etc. We took a single hole punch and punched a hole in the top of each "wish" and then I strung them together on a piece of twine. Alas, I do not have a mantle over my fireplace (yet!) but I do have these weird poles in my entryway, and I was able to make them look much more festive by tying our Winter Wish garland to them! And, now our family and friends can feel even more welcomed into home, when they walk in and see their name and their wish!

This was an inexpensive (I had all of the supplies!), fun, and easy craft to do with my daughter -- those are my favorite kinds of crafts!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And this was one of the GOOD ones!

Tackled the always enjoyable task of taking a picture for our annual holiday cards... This was one of the GOOD ones of our littlest girlie! My father was a professional photographer (now retired to take care of the girls - thanks, Dad!) and when my older daughter was young, we used to call her the "One Take Kid" -- you could set up a shot, take the picture, and almost always be assured that it came out great the first time! My dad would humor me and take picture after picture just to make sure that he got a good one, and usually, he could have stopped after the first one - she was great!

Well, no two kids are alike, and as much as my older daughter loves to ham it up for the camera, her sister HATES to have her picture taken! (I believe that she expressed her feelings quite well in the picture above...)

She has just plunged head first into her job of being a two-year-old! And she is VERY good at it... Maybe next year's holiday picture will be easier... Or maybe we'll have to try an action shot and catch our little one in motion!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ideas for Helping to Relieve a Child's Worries

Sorry for the long absence -- obviously, from my last post you can tell we've been going through some stuff over here, but the good news is that we are doing better!

This popped up pretty much out of nowhere for us, and took us completely off guard. I think the best advice that I can give to anyone dealing with something like this with your own child, is to ask a lot of questions and talk to anyone that you can -- pediatrician, school counselor, other doctors, etc. We've gotten lots of advice on things to do to help our daughter cope with her worries and fears, and we've also come up with a few things on our own. Here are some ideas that may work for you, whether your child's fears / worries are big or small:

- Create a "worry box" out of an empty tissue or some other type of small box. Let your child decorate it, if that makes it more fun for them. When your child starts worrying about things, have them write down their worries and throw them away in the worry box in an effort to get the worries off their mind.

- If your child seems to be worrying all throughout the day, set a "worry time" of the day, where you can sit down with your child and listen to all of their worries or fears at that time -- this helps so they are not thinking about them all day.

- Another thing that has been helpful is having some signs or symbols that represent "safety" -- especially if your child is having bad dreams. For example, since I had already established "Baby Hugs" bear as a sign that Mommy was there, it was easy for me to reinforce the symbolism of the bear with my girl, and remind her that the bear was from Mommy and would take care of her while she is sleeping. My father even remembers (way back!) when he was about my girl's age and he would have nightmares, but he had a special teddy bear that he felt protected him. You could also get your child (or make one with them!) a "dream catcher" and talk to your child about what it's job is, and help them hang it over their bed.

- And finally, a big thing -- diversion and distraction! Try to help take your child's mind off of the "bad stuff" by switching subjects and reminding them of the great stuff that is going on. I think that has helped a lot in our situation -- this a one of our favorite times of year -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and then my girl's birthday. Not to mention that we have snow where we are, so she's very excited about that. Keep reinforcing all of the great stuff and keep your child's mind busy with happy thoughts so there is not so much room for the worries and fears. And a GREAT bedtime distraction that we have been practicing, is as my girl is in bed trying to go to sleep, she counts -- she starts at 1 and counts in her head until she falls asleep. (She thinks she counted to infinity last night...)

These have all been great things that have worked for us, and there is certainly no harm in trying them, but by all means, if you have concerns about your child having excessive fears or worries - consult your doctor for more advice!

What ideas can you share for helping to alleviate a child's worries?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coping with a Child's Fear & Anxiety

We have been going through a difficult time here at our house. About three weeks ago, my older daughter saw something that was very upsetting to her, and that has sent her spiralling into a state of perpetual fear and anxiety.

It started innocently enough -- my stepmother sent over the latest "People" magazine that she had read (as she does almost weekly) and it was sitting out somewhere in the house, waiting to be read. Usually there is some celebrity on the cover, but that week, there was a picture of the little girl from Florida who is missing, presumed dead, and her mother is a "person of interest" in the case. The little girl is about the same age as my girl, and apparently my girl saw and read the front cover of the magazine. She never mentioned it at first, but right around that time things started to bother her. One afternoon she wanted to watch a "Little House on the Prairie" episode and then all of a sudden she thought she remembered someone coughing up blood in it (that didn't really happen in the episode), and she started having a bit of an anxiety attack about it. The days leading up to Halloween were very difficult -- normally she loves to watch all of the Halloween movies on the Disney Channel, but this year they seemed to scare her. Her anxiety increases the closer she gets to bedtime. Lately, most nights during dinner she decides that she is going to have a nightmare, and more often than not, she does.

There are countless other examples of how fearful and anxious she has become, and I wrote out a long list and made an appointment with our doctor to talk to him about what has been going on. He was not terribly concerned and said he felt that she's a very smart girl and "is able to articulate her feelings extremely well" and that's why we know so much about how she is feeling. Hmm... In his defense, he did preface that with "Counseling is not my forte." Clearly. I followed up with a call to the school counselor who I found to be much more helpful. She stated that it is not unusual for kids my daughter's age to go through a phase like this. They are able to "connect the dots" so to speak, and seeing that magazine cover seems to have triggered something in her, where no matter how many times we try to reassure her that nothing like that will ever happen to her, she is incapable of being rational about her fear and anxiety. Every day there is something different that pops up and is upsetting to our girl, but right now we are taking it day-by-day and trying to patient and supportive. (Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my strong suits?) Tonight we read the Veggie Tales book, "Where is God When I am Scared?"

I have been kicking myself for weeks over her seeing that magazine, although truly, she could have seen it at the end the check out line in the grocery store. I thought I was very observant and aware of what is "out there" that may be harmful to my children, but this experience has shown me that you just can't anticipate everything, no matter how hard you try.

Have you ever gone through something like this with one of your children? What did you find to be helpful?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

The polls are closed and it looks like we have a new president! I found myself to be more wrapped up in this election, than I have in previous years - possibly because of the historical significance of having either the first African-American president in US history, or the first female vice-president in US history. Or possibly because I'm the mother of two young children and I am more aware of the state of our country and the issues that we face.

My girls both got to take part in the electoral process tonight -- my littlest one went with Grandpa when he took my grandmother to vote (apparently the voting booth was quite crowded with all 3 of them in there!). And my husband took our 7-year-old with him tonight after he picked her up from Girl Scouts. She was excited to help Daddy vote, and equally excited to get an "I voted today" sticker to wear home. I think her Webkinz Koala was also excited about getting her own voting sticker at the polls tonight! My girl's 2nd grade class read a Scholastic News paper about the election, comparing both of the candidates stances on some of the tougher issues that didn't come out in any of the debates -- did you know that McCain's favorite food is Mexican, and that his favorite children's book is King Arthur? Or that Obama's favorite food is chili and his favorite children's book is Harry Potter (my girl would have voted for him on that alone!)? As she went to sleep tonight she made us promise that we would tell her first thing tomorrow who the new president is.

Regardless of which party you are affiliated with, or how you voted, tonight is a historic night for our country. The best part to me, is that my girls have no idea about the historical significance of the election of our new president - I think that speaks volumes about how far our country has come, and hopefully how far we will go in the future. May God bless America!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dining Out with the Kids

Today is my grandmother’s 87th birthday – Happy Birthday, Gram! In celebration of her birthday, my father and stepmother (Grandpa & Gramby) take Gram and my little family out to the “swanky” yacht club for dinner. It’s always a special treat, and because Grandpa and Gramby spend so much time at the yacht club, some of the wait staff there are like extended members of the family. My husband had to work Friday night, and I showed up at the club with my girls, and there in the parking lot was Sue, who works in the restaurant. She flagged me down and offered to walk the girls in (where the grandparents were waiting) since the parking lot was packed and I would have to park far from the door – such service! And my girls know her well enough that they popped right out of the car – even my little one – and trotted right in with her.

It was quite crowded on Friday night, but luckily we had a reservation and were seated quickly. It took a while to place our order, but I have learned recently, to order my girls’ dinners to come out with our appetizers (if we order them). That way they can start their dinners, and then while the adults are having their dinners, the girls can be moved onto a little dish of ice cream as dessert. This keeps the kids content, and moves things along a little more quickly, since my husband and I rarely order dessert, but my girls enjoy it! Anyway, I always try to be well prepared to entertain my kids (my diaper bag is always packed with snacks, crayons, little toys, etc.) and I am always concerned that we are going to disturb other diners. I was sitting right next to my little one, who was in a highchair backing up to the wall of the restaurant. At one point, I turned to my right to talk to my father and grandmother, and all of a sudden my stepmother said, “Oh, no no!” And I turned quickly to see my little girlie with her hands on the FIRE ALARM BOX! THANKFULLY, she did not pull it, and I quickly moved her away, but the people at the table next to us had seen and were chuckling to themselves. At the end of their meal, they got up and as they were leaving, the woman said, “It was nice dining with you!” And I said, “Oh, I hope we didn’t disturb you!” and she said, “Oh no, they were very well behaved!” And I said, “Oh, you are just saying that because she didn’t ACTUALLY pull the fire alarm!” And the woman laughed and said, “No, really, we have 4 kids at home and yours were very well behaved!”

All in all, I would call that a successful evening out!

What tips do you have for taking the kids out to eat?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Guess She Comes by it Honestly...

(Warning -- Bragging Mom Moment) Yesterday, my husband and I went to our daughter's school for a parent/teacher conference. We were fairly confident that she was doing well in school, but she even exceeded our expectations, which was a nice surprise! Of course she still has some things to work on, and one item the teacher mentioned had to do with her writing. She pulled out one of our daughter's stories (about the day our carpets were cleaned -- fascinating subject...) and the teacher said, "This was what we refer to as a "Short Moment" writing assignment. I have to say that your daughter's "Short Moments" are not that short..."

I called my friend Christine last night and I mentioned that to her, and she said, "Well, really, have you ever read YOUR BLOG? I can see where she gets it from!" Ok, I guess I can see her point!

So that is the end of today's post -- short and sweet! ;)

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's the Word - Binky, or Sucker...?

So, we apparently have a new nighttime game, my 2-year-old and I... I put her to bed, and we do our usual routine, we snuggle, I sing "Christopher Robin" (Return to Pooh Corner, actually), I lay her down in her crib, lay her blankets over her, and give her her binky (aka pacifier). We are slowly weaning her off of this -- our older daughter had hers much longer, and by this age she could take 2 steps without it. With our littlest girlie, we have somehow managed to leave "Binky" in her crib and she only uses it for naps and bedtime -- it's a beautiful thing!

She's pretty funny about it though -- the other day, she got up from her nap and I went in to get her out of her crib and she still had Binky in her mouth. I said in a silly voice, "Oh my goodness! What are you doing? We don't take binky out of bed! Binky has to stay here!" And she did the funniest thing -- she took it out of her mouth to give it to me, then stopped, put it back into her mouth for one last suck and then handed it over to me -- it was like she just needed one more hit off of the bink before she could let it go! Powerful drug, that binky...

Anyway, back to our new game -- I give her her binky, and she has it in her mouth and then says, "I like it!" and hands it back (as I've mentioned before -- not great with the word "don't"...), so I go into her changing table and get the back-up binky and trade with her. Now, for the first few days of this game, she would take the other binky and settle down to sleep. A few days wear on, and now tonight we volleyed back and forth with the binks -- she started with the first one, said "I like it" (shaking her head as if to say "No!"), I give her the other binky, she pops that in, takes it out, again "I like it", hands it to me, I give her back the first bink, and so forth and so on... This went on about 5 times in a row. My husband walked by and caught a bit of this and just shook his head and laughed.

So what do you think -- was she really having an issue with the binky, or was she just playing me to stay up later? Mommy's a sucker, huh? Yeah, I thought so!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bring Out Those Holiday Pictures!

I grew up in a family full of Kodak workers, and my father was a professional photographer -- translation, we take a LOT of pictures in our house! I used to let them pile up -- I was not great about putting them into albums. Then I started with those small, plastic albums that fit 100 4x6 pictures. Then I finally found a type of album where the photos slide in (I just hate those albums with the plastic film that peels off and the photo sticks to the sticky side...), and I especially love the ones with the lines to write a caption. So, I've gotten better about putting my pictures into something more "user-friendly" than a box in the closet. But my favorite thing is to actually display the pictures in frames -- I have tons of framed pictures out on display. People who come to our house probably think that we are ridiculously fond of ourselves... Again, my dad was a photographer...

Anyway, I always take tons of pictures at the holidays -- Christmas and Halloween, in particular. But I feel funny leaving such seasonal pictures out all year long, so for quite a number of years they stayed in the album (or the closet). Until I decided to make the house more festive at Christmas one year and I changed over my usual picture frames and filled them with pictures we'd taken from past Christmases. I left the regular pictures in the frames behind the Christmas pictures, to make it easier to switch them back -- I'm all about making things easier for myself!

I have always wanted to have a Halloween party, and this year we are having a Halloween-themed costume dinner party the weekend before Halloween, so I decided to pull out the cute pictures of the kids in costume and fill the frames. And then once again, when the holiday is over, I will leave those in the back of the frame so that I can easily switch them out again next Halloween! I think this is a great way to enjoy the seasonal pictures and also rotate your pictures so that you don't tired of looking at the same ones all the time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall Festival for Kids

On Sunday, our little family enjoyed a wonderful day at our town’s Fall Festival. We met up with Christine and her family and enjoyed the fall weather, the fun activities, and catching up with lots of other families that we know from preschool and elementary school. It was a relatively inexpensive day – no entrance fee, and tickets that were $ .50 apiece paid for each activity. Big surprise, I of course bought 30 tickets thinking, “I have 2 children, they’ll each do a lot of activities”… And of course that didn’t happen – my older daughter did a bunch of things, including riding a pony (7 tickets), but our youngest just enjoyed running around and having Daddy chase after her! So by the time we were leaving I was passing out tickets to other people.

It really was an enjoyable day and it made me think of how much fun and how easy something like this would be to put on for the kids. If you are looking for something to do to entertain the kids, get together with your friends or your moms group, and throw your own festival for the kids! You would need one person to volunteer her backyard, and each mom could come up with a craft or an activity. Here are a few ideas:

- Face painting – don’t worry if you don’t think your art skills are up to par – a simple flower, a snake, a ghost, or even whiskers on either side of the child’s nose and a dot of paint on their nose to make a cat!

- Stamping paper or fabric with stamps (rubber, potato, leaf or sponge) – at the town’s festival, we used rubber stamps in leaf prints and stamped designs onto white cloth the size of a bandana – this is a great time to pull out those old sheets that are stained or torn!

- Costume parade – if it’s a fall festival, have the kids dress in their Halloween costume and march around the neighborhood!

- Bird feeders – at the town’s festival, two older gentlemen helped the kids make bird feeders out of a coffee can, 2 plastic lids, a wire hanger, and a thin wooden dowel – this was very easy and the kids were able to decorate the cans with foam stickers. If you are interested in how to make this specific bird feeder, let me know and I will post the instructions. But, there are other simple ideas that you could also use, like the peanut butter / lard rolled pine cones with bird feed stuck into them, and hung with a string or ribbon.

- Sack races, relay races (egg on a spoon is popular!), ring toss – any of those are fun for kids.

- Make it a festive atmosphere playing your favorite children’s music in the background. Have fun treats like popcorn (serve it in brown lunch bags for a real “carnival feel”), cookies and cider or juice.

These are all simple ideas to get you started – use your imagination and brainstorm with fellow moms or even get the kids involved – this is a great “boredom chaser” for the kids that could be done any time of year. And you can be sure - my local friends - that we will be putting on our own carnival in the future! (Consider yourselves warned!) ;)

Help us brainstorm – what ideas do you have for fun festival activities?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bad Dog!

My girls are always amusing (to me, at least...), but the latest thing that has been cracking us up, is what this little angelic face says when she is VERY mad! Usually it's directed at her sister or her mother... "BAD DOG, LULU! BAD DOG!" Or, "BAD DOG, MOMMY! BAD DOG!" I'm guessing she picked this up from Grandpa, who watches the kids at our house and brings "my brother" (the dog) over each day. I'm guessing Grandpa must have had to say this one or two times, and my girlie picked it up. Her sister tries to act indignant about being called a dog -- but mostly, we all just chuckle to ourselves! And my little girlie is always so serious when she says this -- she definitely saves it for when she really feels like she is being treated unjustly -- you know, like when it's bedtime and Mommy tries to get her jammies on her... I shared this little story with Catherine, my officemate and we both found it so amusing that for the rest of the day we were calling each other "Bad dog!" Hey -- it could be SO much worse!

Welcome, Fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year - hands down! My husband and I have always loved, "turtleneck weather" as we call it. It's such a cozy time of year - I love the smells of fall -- cinnamon, apples, pumpkin pie (mostly the votives that I burn almost non-stop this time of year!). The sounds -- crunching of leaves under your feet. And the colors -- bright orange pumpkins; red and green apples; yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees. It makes me want cook, snuggle up with my family, and decorate our home!

I did all three of these things this past week while my mom was in town. We had a great visit, I cooked up a bunch of our family favorites like a Thanksgiving dinner, homemade chili, and my grandmother's traditional "Saturday night hot dogs, baked beans & brown bread" (yes, as my friend Chris would be asking now, "Bread in a can?" Yes, Boston brown bread in a can -- delicious!) 'Course we had the Saturday night dinner last night on Friday, but Mom's plane left this morning! We spent a wonderful week visiting, the kids thoroughly enjoyed getting Nana's undivided attention during all of their waking hours -- my littlest one was still looking for her today -- I afraid she thinks Nana moved in with us! Mom flew in Sunday night and flew out early this morning (my older daughter and I woke up at 5:30am to drive her to the airport!) and since my girlie was at school all week while Nana was here, and because she was feeling very sad about Nana going back to Florida, I decided to pick her up from school at noon on Friday.

We spent the afternoon going out to lunch and then enjoying the beautiful fall day by driving around to different farm markets to pick up pumpkins, apples, mums, cornstalks and hay. Let me just say, the minivan was LOADED! I put the backseats down (stow and go) and covered the back with a tarp and loaded it to the gills! I even had to put the seat next to my girls' down, so that we could accommodate the long cornstalks! The girls enjoyed running through a hay maze, and hiding inside of a cornstalk tepee. They each picked out 2 pumpkins and Nana treated the little one to a ghost-shaped cookie and the older one to her favorite Jelly-Belly jelly beans (butter popcorn!). It was definitely an adventure, and we had lots of fun! I had hoped to make it to one last farm market, but when I sat my littlest girl on the counter (to keep her from running amuck in the store...) while I was checking out, and she said to me (as she leaned back to try and lie down on the counter) "You change my diaper?" Right here on the counter? Time to go home!

My girls love when the house is decorated for Halloween (ok, any holiday, but right now it's Halloween!). I hung up the dangling pumpkin lights and filled the candy dish with candy corn. Put up the Halloween signs and the silly-faced pumpkin figurines. And of course, I brought out the Halloween candle holders and burned some cinnamon scented votives -- now that says "Fall" to me!

What does your family do to celebrate the start of the holiday season?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now I REALLY Need a Nappy All Day!

Hello there -- yes, I am still here! Life has been a little hectic lately, as I'm sure you all can relate to! Once we settled into the start of the school year, the next wave of chaos began -- the beginning of all of the extracurricular activities! My daughter is involved in dancing on Monday nights -- did I mention dance class expanding from 45 mins to 90 mins? And that the 90 minute class means that now we have to buy the shoes that total $50 instead of the $9 ballet slippers? Oh, sorry, that's just a small aside -- off the subject... ANYWAY, a friend of hers called the other day and asked her to join Girl Scouts, which started yesterday and will run every Tuesday night. And right in time for the cookie sale, that starts this Saturday -- PHEW! It would have been terrible if we had missed that! ;) And Sundays she is back to Sunday school, which started up again this past weekend -- so Sunday, Monday, Tuesday -- by Wednesday we'll be dropping from exhaustion!

But no dropping today -- yours truly decided it would be fun to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the family tonight! Granted, I did leave work early. I left at 1:30 and drove across town to the Girl Scout shop to buy a Brownie vest and patches that, THANKFULLY, are iron-on (which Daddy can be sweet-talked into taking care of!). And then over to my girlie's school to pick her up by 3pm, and then back to the house to bake a homemade pumpkin pie and prep the turkey for roasting... My mom (Nana) flew into town Sunday night to stay with us this week, and since we won't get to see her for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be nice to celebrate a little early. I insisted on cooking everything myself until finally after my mother asked over and over again if she could help, I gladly took her help with peeling potatoes. We had a very nice dinner, although after a few bites my oldest daughter decided her tummy hurt and she was done -- except she was sure a piece of pumpkin pie would make her tummy feel better. Uh huh. And my youngest, who lately is only interested in hot dogs (at least they are "lite" hot dogs...) and the occasional chicken nugget -- LOVED the turkey! So, apparently all I need to do to get her to eat protein is to whip up a Thanksgiving turkey -- no sweat!

It's nice to take care of my family -- all of them! -- but I am looking forward to curling up on the couch to relax a little now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I Wanna Take A Nappy ALL Day!"

This is absolutely my husband's and my most favorite thing that our little two-year-old says to us. Every day. Around nap time. It really is cute, although she says it with such vehemence and irritation about having to take a nap. Personally, I don't get that -- I really would, on occasion, like to take a nappy all day! I can't think of anything more decadent at this time of my life -- and anything that is more of a pipe dream!

We call our girlie the "opposite girl" because while she can say something with a distinctly negative tone in her voice, she's not great with using the correct negative terminology. She has somehow gotten this far in her little life without learning the word "don't." For example, if you give her something to eat that she doesn't like, she scrunches up her cute little face and shakes her head side to side and says, "I like it!" But again, the look, the shaking of the head, and the distinctive tone tells you clearly, "I DON'T like it!"

I think we all should try this tactic though, because I'll tell you what -- I am not offended when she conveys her distate for something in this manner, as opposed to her sister who will periodically say things like, "YUCK! This is gross!" (See the subtle difference?")

What cute things do your kids say that make you laugh?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Just a quick post today in honor of my husband's and my 10th wedding anniversary which is today! I would share a wedding picture with you, but alas my scanner is not hooked up right now. But it was a wonderful day and it has been a wonderful ten years so far! We talked about going out of town for an overnight (Grandpa and Gramby are taking the girls overnight!) but so many places were booked and we have just today and tomorrow, we decided to spend the day together with our littlest one while our oldest daughter is in school. Then we will pick up our other girlie at school and take them out for ice cream (their choice), then off to Grandpa & Gramby's where they will make homemade pizzas and have a movie night, while we go out to one of our favorite swanky "no kids" restaurants! We will be staying at our own private bed & breakfast (our house), minus the breakfast -- we'll be going out for that tomorrow morning. And then a day of time spent together, ending with an early matinee movie of anything that is not a cartoon! Finally, we will pick up our sweet girls in the afternoon and probably head home to pop in the wedding video! (My older daughter and I just love that! My husband enjoys it every few years or so!)

It's very special to get to celebrate just the two of us, but it's nice that we can also incorporate the kids in our celebration -- after all, they've been a very important part of our first ten years of marriage!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today is September 11th. It is the 7th anniversary of that terrible, life-changing day that our country was attacked by terrorists and so many people lost so much. It seemed to go by without as much acknowledgement as it has in the past, but I still remember where I was, what I was doing, and how I felt. I was a fairly new mother -- I had an 8-month-old baby at home. I had been back to work for a few months and my sweet baby was in day care 3 days a week. That was difficult enough before 9/11. On that morning, while I was working, my husband was home with our daughter. He was supposed to go into work late, and drop our little one off at the day care for the afternoon. I wanted him to stay home from work with our daughter -- I was panicking that the whole country was being attacked and I didn't want her away from us. I remember calling him to tell him what happened, and wanting to race home to be with them. I remember sitting in my office on the phone with him talking about what to do and what was happening. I remember the trembling of his voice when he told me what he was seeing on television -- something that he, having grown up in Long Island and worked at the World Trade Center in NYC, had never thought he would live to see -- the towers crumbling to the ground. We talked about his family in Long Island, our friends who lived in the city.

We were supposed to go to Long Island just a couple of days later, and the whole world seemed in turmoil, we didn't know what to do. We called relatives and found out that most of the family was safe, but one cousin was a firefighter and he had gone into the towers to help. He never made it out. He left behind a beautiful family - his wife and three sons.

My husband and I don't spend a lot of time watching the all-day news channels, but from that afternoon when I got home from work, that's all I watched for days. We were in a fog. People were telling us on television to have escape routes and bottled water and non-perishable food stored in case of attack. I had supplies packed in our car, in case we needed to escape, and I had a plan of what we could quickly have set up in the basement if we needed to move down in there. The news reports were telling us to buy plastic and duct tape to seal up windows and doors. I couldn't help but think how devastatingly unfair it was that I would have just had this beautiful little baby and all of a sudden life as we knew it was coming to an end. I was afraid to take her to day care because I was afraid that we would be attacked and I wouldn't be able to get to her. My friend Kristin had just told me on 9/10 that she and her husband and decided to try to have a baby. And the next day the world changed -- it felt like we couldn't even think about the future. And that is exactly what terrorism is all about.

After about a week or two of panic and fear and walking around in a daze, I realized that I was spending all of my time preparing for the unknown and that I had this precious little baby to take care of and to love. She was happy, she didn't know what was going on, she just wanted to snuggle and wiggle and squeal with delight. I had to start functioning again for her sake. I shut off the news and I turned my attention back to what was most important -- living each day with the people that I love.

I will never forget that time or that feeling, and I don't think that any of us ever should. I thank God for the people that are willing and able to fight to protect us, I pray for all of the people who were lost that day and for the loved ones that they left behind. And I pray that our children never have to know that feeling of terror. God bless us all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Latest in Toddler Fashion

Introducing the latest style from "Baby Rap", modeled by the newest, coolest rap artist out of New York -- Lil' K! Ok, we did not actually dress her in this "ensemble" -- she did this herself -- sunglasses, backwards hat, snowboots and all. Not bad, only two years old and already mastering the art of accessorizing!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Silence is Golden

Just a quick post before I head off to bed -- early tonight -- I feel like I've been working the night shift lately, but more on that later! I just had to share about my dear friend Kim (friends about 18 years, I think! Amazing since we are SO young still!). Anyway, Kim and her husband Michael were blessed with triplets -- if I ever feel exhausted from chasing after my kids, I think about them... The triplets started Pre-K this past week and Kim sent out a cute note and pictures of them going off to school (how adorable is that picture?). I sent her a note back and asked her whatever was she going to do with her time while they were in school? Kim replied, "Girlfriend: 1) Workout, 2) Shop, 3) Straighten out my "piles" and 4) Listen to silence!"

I can completely relate to the joy of having a chance to catch my breath and listen to -- well, NOTHING! My own thoughts in my head... I love my girls with all my heart but every once in a while (several times a week?) I feel like I want to turn the volume down on everyone in my house! Tonight, after dinner and before bedtime, I was sitting on the couch feeling quite tired and ready to go to bed myself. My 7-year-old had dressed herself in last Halloween's Tinkerbell costume and was flitting about the living room singing made-up song after made-up song. Pretty melodies, bizarre lyrics... Something about visiting her cousin Gail (doesn't have one) to play a game of charades and she was rhyming Gail with all sorts of words like bail and jail... No idea where this stuff comes from. Anyway, she was competing (volume-wise) with her 2-year-old sister who was watching "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" and it was an episode about Rabbit trying to sleep and being kept awake by a woodpecker pecking on his home (a tree). So while the tv was on, and her sister was tapping around dancing and singing, my little one is loudly giving me a play-by-play of the episode. Let me recap for you, "Pecker, and pecker, and Rabbit, and Lumpy, and so Pecker, and Lumpy and Pecker" and on and on...

Sometimes it seems neverending -- today all four of us went to the dentist (littlest one just went along for the ride) and while I was sitting in the chair, with the tv on in front of me (our dentist is hi-tech -- flat screen tv's on every chair, which is great for distracting my daughter while her teeth are being cleaned) tuned to the Disney channel, as my littlest one is in her stroller behind me, and her older sister is in a little chair next to her. So, I've got the sound of the tv, the sound of whatever the hygienist is doing to my teeth, the little girlie calling, "Mommy, guess what?" and the older girlie talking a bluestreak to the hygienist who is not doing a very convincing job of making interested polite listening noises. Today really was a louder day than usual in our house... Maybe it has something to do with the phases of the moon, or the tides or something.

I love to hear my girls laughing, I love to hear my girls playing nicely together or singing a song. Tonight at bedtime they were trying to do their prayers before my husband and I got into the room and I could hear my sweet baby say in her sweet baby voice, "Our Father" which sounded like it had a "v" instead of a "th" -- those sounds are all so sweet to me. Even so, there is something so peaceful about this time of the day when everyone is tucked into bed and the whole house is quiet. But tonight, instead of staying up to enjoy the silence -- I'm off to get some sleep myself!

What is your most peaceful time of day?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Second Grade

It’s official – I’m the mother of a second grader! Ugh… Where did the time go? It feels like I was just standing at the bus stop with my 3-month-old baby, waving goodbye to my kindergartner and wiping a tear from eye. Fast forward two years to this morning, when our second grader led the parade down the driveway, followed by our 2-year-old with her basket of Little People, Grandpa, my husband, and then there’s me juggling the video camera in one hand and the digital camera in the other. I did finally relinquish the digital camera to my father, who got a few cute shots of her getting on the bus, while I videotaped the whole thing. We looked like the Griswolds (“Family Vacation”), I’m sure! Amazingly, my girl is still not at the age where this is embarrassing to her – or maybe she IS at that age, but she hasn’t gotten the memo yet…

She had a good day at school, which was a relief because she’s been agonizing over it for the past week. We just tried to offer words of encouragement and tried to be patient with her – I remember being younger and having that same mini-anxiety attack that the summer was over and it was back to school. I also felt that way as each of my two maternity leaves came to an end, frankly! Fortunately, she liked her teacher, saw some friends in her class that she hadn’t realized would be in the same class with her, and – big excitement – her teacher handed out stickers for the kids to label their folders! She was less than thrilled that the bus took 1 hour and 25 minutes to get her home today... We live about 5 minutes away... But, she was surprisingly ok about that, considering how she feels about the bus.

Chaos returned to our house tonight between getting dinner on the table, homework done -- only 20 minutes of reading tonight -- there will be 20 minutes of reading every night, in addition to whatever other projects are assigned -- I sense there is a lot more homework given out now than back in the "olden days" when I went to school! ;) And then finally bedtime -- whew! And we'll start the whole process over again tomorrow! At least we have a week or two before we have to throw dance class and Sunday school into the mix!

How did your first day of school go this year?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Catching Up

It's been a busy week! Trying to soak up the last precious moments of summer, readying our daughter for her first day of second grade! (Tomorrow!) Enjoying one last summer bbq with friends, possibly our first and last sail of the season on Grandpa's boat, enjoying our pool a few more times before it is closed, and tearing apart our living room and kitchen to paint just a few days before Labor Day and a bbq at our house! Good times! ;)

But all is well now -- the furniture is back in place, the curtains are hung (that happened 45 mins before our company arrived on Saturday -- talk about last minute!), my girl's first day of school outfit is hanging in her closet (although if left up to her, it would be hanging on the knob of her dresser, with half of it lying on the floor, waiting for the cat to curl up on it!), her bookbag is packed with all of her new school supplies inside. Everyone's lunch is made and waiting in the fridge, and her father, grandfather, sister and I are all ready to walk her down to the bus tomorrow morning for a big send-off! She's been quite emotional lately, feeling sad about the end of summer and nervous about the start of school. She told me tonight she's not sure that she wants to be in the second grade! (Sorry Charlie -- no turning back now!) I foolishly decided not to take the day off today, to spend her last vacation day with her -- trying to conserve time off, I guess... But almost as soon as I got to work I called and left my boss (who was off) a message saying that I was leaving after lunch! Good thing too -- I thought I was so prepared for her to start school, but realized that the kitchen was not stocked for school lunches (her school does not have a cafeteria). A quick trip to the grocery store rectified that, and I also bought a little cookie cake and had her name written on it -- a sweet treat for our "First Day of School" dinner tomorrow night.

I got home a few hours early and she and I packed her lunch together (although I JUST remembered that I have to do a lunchbox note for her!!), and then I took out some magazines and photos and a large piece of posterboard and set her to work on our annual "End of Summer Collage" which was fun for her and for us to get to reminisce about what a great, busy summer we had this year! I also helped her with putting a collage together for her new school 3-ring binder. I had talked her out of the $8 (or whatever outrageous price) for a "Hannah Montana" 3-ring binder, and talked her into a less expensive "view-binder" that we could decorate ourselves. I did a lot of the hands-on work on this project and she supervised and acted as a creative consultant. Overall we were very happy with the end result! And with the pictures of family and friends (and Webkinz...) that we put in there (and of course, the Jonas Brothers...) hopefully it will lift her spirits everytime she sees it during the day!

So, that's what we've been up to at our house -- what have you been doing to get ready for the new school year?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pure Joy!

What could bring a little girl more joy than to sneak into her big sister's room undetected and help herself to all of the jewels?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Life for an Old Dresser

As I was looking for an outfit for my littlest girlie to wear today, I was once again admiring her sweet little dresser and thought I would share it with you! This dresser was such a find for us -- literally! Before we met, my husband found the dresser on the side of the road near his downtown apartment. Coincidentally in need of a dresser, he picked it up and carried it home. (I need to remind him of that fact the next time we see some great treasure on the side of the road that I want to pick up -- he always says, "No way!") I believe he painted it once for his apartment, and then it came with us to our first apartment and then first house together. Finally, when we were able to purchase "grown up" furniture, it was relegated to the basement.

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I painted the dresser (wearing a face mask, of course!) to match her nursery -- we didn't know that she was a "she" at that point, so it was a seafoam green and ivory nursery. I saved a bunch of the cute wrapping paper and the sweet little baby gift bags that the presents from her baby shower came in, and I cut them up and used them to line the inside of the drawers. I thought this was just about the sweetest little dresser ever -- perfect for a little baby!

When she turned 3, we bought her a "big girl" bed for her room and I believe my mother bought her a new dresser that year. Still, we saved the sweet little dresser, and 3 years later it moved into our new nursery for her little sister. My littlest one's room is a totally different color palette from the seafoam green and ivory dresser and I still have every intention of repainting it to match her room. But, I did save the paper and gift bags from gifts that she received when she was born, and I replaced the "drawer liners." I also bought some precious little bars of baby soap that are rose scented and I have those in the drawers, so her clothes smell beautiful when you open the drawers.

This definitely fits into the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" category, but it is such an adorable little dresser and with a little bit of love and care it is just perfect!

Do you have any special projects that you have done in preparation for your new arrival? Or any tips for decorating a child's room? Please share your great ideas!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hmmm... Where Did She Get That From?

Ok, so apparently we need to watch what we say around our little one... The other day, on our way home from a visit with my grandmother, I told the girls that we needed to stop at the grocery store to do our shopping. My older daughter was NOT in the mood, to say the least. My littlest one was excited to ride in the carts. As her sister continued to complain about going to the store, my 2-yearl-old turned to her sister and clear as a bell said, "Stop-a whining, Lulu!" OK! I could not stifle a laugh and "Lulu" tried to put forth a fake cry, but even she could not help laughing!

My girls and I went out swimming on this hot day, and on our way out, my eldest grabbed the sunblock stick for her face and her sister's. In our rush outside it got placed within my little one's reach and she found just a little while ago and was putting it on her toothbrush! I saw that and I said, "Oh! You didn't put that in your mouth did you?" And she said, "No, my beep!" and pointed to her nose. I wasn't sure that I heard her correctly, so I pointed to my nose and I said, "What is this?" And she said, "Beep!" We all enjoy playing this little game where we touch her nose and say, "Beep!" and then she'll touch, say, Grandpa or Daddy's nose and they'll say, "HONK!" Well, apparently she thinks that her nose is called a "beep!" We'll have to work on that before she starts school... Another one of those things that sounds so darn cute until your child gets to school and the other kids look at them like they are from Mars!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yin & Yang

As an only child myself, I have always been fascinated to see how siblings with the same parents, growing up in the same house, can turn out so different! People always comment on how much my girls look alike, but I have been able to tell from early on that they have totally different personalities.

One recent illustration of this came up on Friday during our trip to the zoo. Our littlest girl was in the creek, walking along having fun, when all of a sudden she tripped and fell knee first onto the concrete "creekbed." My husband and I both grabbed for her and we both immediately thought this was the end of our fun day because that HAD to hurt! We picked her up and sure enough she had cuts all over both knees. But you would only know that from looking -- she did not cry at all, and it did not slow her down at all either! She was ready to go play on the playground! And not only that, but she was climbing up to go down the slide and kept crawling around the top of the jungle gym on her injured knees! Even when we cleaned her up with wipes, she did not make a peep -- you would not know she had ever been hurt.

Her older sister on the other hand... Earlier that morning they were sitting together at the table coloring with markers. My older daughter looks at me, panic-stricken, and points to a little red dot on her finger. She says (very dramatically), "Mommy, is this marker or am I BLEEDING???" I said, "Honey, I'm sure it's just marker." It wiped right off and all was well!

Family Day

On Friday we had a rare treat -- my husband and I were both off of work, school is still out for our older daughter, and we had NO obligations to go anywhere or do anything for the whole day! We woke up somewhat leisurely (ok, well, the girls and I did -- my husband did have to run to work to drop off some employee reviews, but he was home before we woke up!), my husband vacuumed the pool, and then he and our older daughter made their famous omelettes for breakfast!

After breakfast we got ready and piled in the car to go to the zoo. We are fortunate to have a great zoo just minutes from our house, and each summer/fall we renew our zoo membership. It is such a great deal -- I think for a family it's about $55 for a year's membership and it's about $8 or $9 for an adult to enter without a membership. You really can't beat it! And with the close proximity to our house and having two kids of varying ages -- we can run to the zoo and not feel like we aren't getting our money's worth if someone gets cranky and wants to leave early. We got a late start on Friday, but we went and had lunch there and saw most of the animals -- we did skip a few things for the sake of time.

One of my daughter's favorite things at the zoo is the "creek" that they open up in the summer. It's man-made with all sorts of animal footprints in and around the creekbed. There are rocks to climb and deep and shallow spots to wade (or practically swim, if you want to) in and we bring our water shoes and a towel to dry our feet off with! This most recent visit was the first time that we took our littlest girlie in the water. She had her water shoes on and at first, she stood there, not knowing what to do, but she took my hand and we waded around and she got more adventurous.

Our zoo also has a great playground and the girls enjoyed playing there before we headed home for a swim. It was a really nice, relaxing day with the family - a much needed break from all the running around we usually do!

Daddy's Omelette Recipe

My husband has always made great omelettes (his brother does, too -- must be a family thing!) and he has taught our girl how to make them as well. She loves to help out in the kitchen, and this is always a fun, bonding moment for the two of them. She played waitress and took all of our orders, and then together they whipped up made-to-order omelettes for breakfast. She can mix up the omelette recipe on her own, for the most part -- she's even a great egg cracker! Then Daddy does the cooking on the stove. Their usual omelette mix is as follows:

Daddy's Omelette Recipe

3 eggs (more or less, depending on hunger!)
A few splashes of Red Hot Sauce (adds great flavor, not heat)
American Cheese, broken into little pieces (any cheese will do)
Garlic salt
Dash of water

Mix this all thoroughly with a whisk, adding the cheese last. Pour into a hot, greased (butter or non-stick spray) frying/omelette pan and as it starts to cook on the bottom, slowly and carefully run your spatula around the edge of the pan, lifting the eggs until you can carefully flip one side onto the other when the middle is just about cooked.

Sometimes they add other ingredients like ham, turkey, black olives -- whatever you have in the fridge that sounds yummy for your omelette! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Extreme Blog Makeover

Who doesn't love getting a makeover? Even a blog can feel tired and run down sometimes. I thought this one could use a little freshening up, and thanks to The Cutest Blog on the Block, I was able to do this makeover for free! I hope you enjoy the new, fresher look!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder Day

If I haven't already mentioned this, I am a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan -- huge. And to my utter delight, my older daughter has caught Laura fever too! It started with her reading the "My First Little House" books when she was younger (my friend Christine -- also a huge Laura fan -- gave her one when she was born, I believe!) and then started watching some of the Little House shows that we have on dvd. Just this past week she started reading "Little House in the Big Woods" the first book in the Little House series (both of my girls have the complete box set -- I'm definitely starting them early!). They are such wonderful books (I enjoyed the tv series too, but the books are what I truly love!) and I have read them over and over since I was a little girl -- in fact, I have been reading them again this week! If you have a daughter, I highly recommend getting her these books -- and if you have a son, he would probably enjoy "Farmer Boy" which was written by Laura, about her husband Almanzo's years growing up on his family farm in NY state.

My friend Christine and I were SO excited to hear about the first ever "Laura Ingalls Wilder Day" to be held at the Genesee Country Village which is about 45 minutes from our house. As soon as we saw this on their schedule (6 months ago?) we knew we had to go with our girls. My older daughter was very excited and she specifically asked if she could get dressed up like Laura for the occasion. WELL! Go dressed up in clothing matching the theme of the day? Of course! I found this wonderful woman on the internet who makes beautiful pioneer dresses (if you are ever in the market for one, let me know - I will gladly share her contact info!) and I ordered outfits for both of my girls. Christine also ordered an outfit for her daughter -- we thought we were showing great restraint NOT having dresses made up for ourselves (there were moms there who were in costume...)! In fact, Christine's husband Will was mocking us recently and told her that we "were a step away from the people at the Star Trek conventions!" The dresses were a big hit, and our girls were asked to be in the Fashion Promenade in the Town Square -- we felt quite honored, but truly it ran for 2-1/2 hours and this poor man stood there taking cards with names, ages, towns, and the Ingalls character each child was dressed as, and to his credit he mustered up quite a bit of enthusiasm for each child who went through -- in spite of the fact that almost all of them were "portraying Laura Ingalls." But I thought it was nice the way they did it -- there was not a long line, your child got their little moment of stardom (Christine's daughter got two moments, because she was very upset that she had forgotten to bow on stage -- the security guard was nice enough to let her go up a second time!), each child got a certificate with their name on it commemorating being in the promenade, and then a professional photographer took their picture in front of a little wagon. Very cute!

My husband had to work, but Grandpa and Gramby were nice enough to tag along for the day and help me out with the girls (especially the littlest one -- she's cute, but FAST!). In preparing for our big event, we went back and forth about buying lunch there, and bringing something with us. My older daughter settled that by requesting that we eat "Olden Day Food." Again with the theme -- love her! I knew from my books that they ate a lot of bread and butter and cheese for lunch so we picked up a loaf of fresh baked "Farmstyle Bread" -- looked just like Ma Ingalls would have baked. We brought American cheese (only kind my girls will eat) and some cheddar, and of course butter (didn't have time to make it myself -- just brought a stick!). In one book they mention eating hardboiled eggs and "salt and pepper in paper to dip the eggs in". So, I packed hardboiled eggs and I cut up a brown paper lunch bag and folded it up with salt and pepper inside. We also brought cut up apples, carrots, corn muffins and sugar cookies. We had a very nice picnic on the lawn of the Town Square and I thought it was sweet that my girl was interested in the authenticity of spending the day like Laura Ingalls, right down to the clothes and food!

The Genesee Country Village put on a wonderful day with lots of activities for families and children to participate in -- we made rag dolls, watched ice cream being made, kneaded dough, made corn husk dolls, pounded designs into tin ornaments, and my girl also was excited to try doing laundry on the old washboard (I'm sure the novelty would wear off it was for more than one day...)! We even listened to stories told by a Laura Ingalls impersonator, who at the end of her performance gave away prizes to anyone who cuold answer her questions right. Her first question was, "If Laura was born in 1867 and died in 1957, how old was she when she died?" And my girl shot her hand up in the air before anyone else did -- not because she can do the math that quickly in her head (she's bright, but she's only 7-1/2!), but she had just been reading one of her books that morning and had just told me that Laura was 90 years old when she died! So, she had the correct answer and she was rewarded with a fresh baked loaf of bread! She was very excited and we were very proud of her!

It was a great day and we have lots of wonderful memories from it -- including getting to meet Allison Arngrim who played Nellie Oleson on the tv series. I was able to get her autograph on both of my girls' "On the Banks of Plum Creek" books which is the book that first mentions Nellie Oleson. When we were standing back in line waiting, Allison caught a glimpse of my littlest one in costume and she said, "Oh look! It's Baby Carrie!" And then after we left, she was commenting to the people who were with her, how sweet "the little, little girl was." She said, "When I gave her her book, she said, 'Thank you very much!' So cute!" Yeah, that just made this Little House fan's day -- let me tell you!