Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Creative Outlet

Hello friends. For a long time I have been wanting to create a blog to share my artistic, creative endeavors... and I finally did it. The blog is called Glue and Paper.
It will be a collection of scrapbooking, sewing, papercrafting, painting, and whatever else I get my hands into. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Art Imitating Life

Can you picture 90-year-old Great-Grandma Janet in shiny red heels dancing the night away with careless abandon?!  Alli can.

She has a fantastic imagination. 

Sometimes Alli likes to make collages with my QuicKutz die cuts.  This was her latest.

alli grandma picture alli grandma picture detail

When she finished she declared, "This is Great-Grandma Janet dancing!"


This is Great-Grandma Janet holding 3-month-old Ruby.

Great-Grandma Janet's dancing days are over, but her dancing spirit shines through... especially in the eyes of her great-granddaughter.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm raising a Chicago driver

Alli and I were talking about driving the other day and I told her that some adults do not drive. She looked at me as if I had a flower sprouting out of my forehead and said,

"Mom, driving is easy. You just turn the steering wheel and honk at people who are in your way."

Can you tell Alli is growing up in the city?

Is this a reflection on my driving? I don't think I honk very much... that said, I have honked more in the last three and a half years than I have in my entire driving career combined. Sometimes I (calmly) say "beeeeeeep!" instead of laying on the horn to relieve my frustration without contributing to the noise pollution and irritation of others. Honking never makes traffic better... though it can get you through a tricky turn in an intersection.

The girls definitely hear lots of car horns throughout the day whether we are driving or not. Ruby likes the honking and she repeats "Beep! Beep!" quite cheerfully as if it were a funny joke.

Very funny. Let's move it people!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Who's the Boss?

Alli and her friend Elijah like to get bossy with each other sometimes (often).  So there is much discussion at our house about what one can demand of others.  Part of the conversation goes like this:

Alli-  Am I my own boss?

Me-  Yes.  When you make good choices you get to be your own boss.  When you make bad choices there are consequences that you don't get to choose... and then I am the boss.  And I am the Mom, so I am always in charge.

Today the conversation took an unexpected turn:

Alli-  Mom, am I my own boss?

Me-  Yes, but sometimes you have to do what Mom says.  Then I am the boss.

Alli-  Well, if you are the boss then shouldn't you pay me!?

Excuse me?  Did my four-year-old just demand pay?  And make me feel like a bad boss who is taking advantage of child labor?  Yikes. 

Alli sassy

Alli- 1, Mom- 0.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Year of the Rat

Did you know that this year is the year of the Rat?!rat2   

I am not too excited about it.  Honestly, I don't know much about Chinese zodiac, so maybe it is not a bad thing after all, but I hate rats.  The thought of a rat as the mascot of 2008 kind of creeps me out.

On a related note, I saw the movie Ratatouille last week for the first time.  It was a cute story teaching nice values, but the rat animation was so realistic that I had to look away (like when you watch a really scary movie and you turn away for the grossest parts).  The little rats running around the kitchen looked and moved just like the real things, kind of jumping, zig-zagging, scampering and hiding as they go.  (Ugh.  I just got goosebumps... the creepy kind.) 

Yes, I had to look away from a cartoon.

I have had some bad (understatement) experiences with big urban rodents.  There was that time when a rat ate our leftover Thanksgiving pumpkin pie... and a loaf of bread.  That was bad.  And then there was that time when a rat jumped up on Andy's leg while he was on the couch.  (Again, goosebumps.)  Oh yes, and the time a rat took a bite from every peach in a case.  Just one bite from each fruit.  Same thing again with tomatoes. 

But the ultimate rat experience happened when I was eight and a half months pregnant with Ruby.  I was in our kitchen preparing Alli's lunch around 11:30am when I heard a loud "SNAP!"  I didn't realize what it was until I was cleaning lunch up and I opened the cupboard under the sink only to discover a huge dirty rat in the trap (we kept a trap set in the locked cupboard under the sink just in case).  And it was still alive.  And it was bleeding everywhere and making quite a mess.

Andy was out of town.  Of course.  I called him, panicking, sort of laughing and crying and definitely freaking way out.  He didn't answer the first few calls, so I left hysteric messages.  He called back and I lost it and wept into the phone.  Unfortunately there was nothing he could do from New York.

I did not want to be home with an injured rat lurking in my kitchen.  So I took Alli and we went to my friend Alison's house.  And we stayed there all day.

Alison's neighbors had some workers and I offered $30 to two guys to come to my house and "take care of the rat."  When I went back home with them, the rat was still alive (and this was like six hours after it first set off the trap).  Those two guys removed the rat, took care of it, and cleaned up the huge blood/poop/etc mess it had made under my sink.  It was worth every penny.

We have been rat free for over eighteen months now (I am knocking on wood).  We have fortified our house.  Behind and under our kitchen cabinets there is metal plating on the wall and floor.  Every gap and crack exposing the crawl space has been sealed permanently.

But I still have bad, bad dreams about rats.  I shudder when I see tame ones in the cages at Petco.  I do not find rat animation very fun.

I think I am permanently scarred.

When I ask for a smile...

I said "Smile, Girls!"  And this is what happened. 

Ruby Alli tongues

What stinkers!  Who taught Ruby to do this?! 

Alli, can't you teach Ruby to put her shoes away or something sweet like that?

I have two silly girls.

Picky Picky

Ruby was watching as I chopped vegetables to make soup yesterday.  She pointed to the cutting board and said, "Try it."  Which means she wants a taste.  So I offered her zucchini. 












So I gave her a small chunk of garlic expecting an instant spit-out and protest.  I waited.  She chewed that garlic up and asked for more.  She had about half a clove of garlic by the time she was through. 

Ruby face

And bad breath.


What strange things do your kids (or you) eat?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside.

The new favorite hang out spot in our house is the kitchen heater vent.  Alli and Ruby like to sit or lie on it as the warm air comes out.  That is a great thing to do these days... Chicago is wicked-cold!Alli Ruby on heater vent

It has been so cold that the front wheel on the stroller freezes and I can't make it turn.  But that was a few days ago when it was still "warm" enough to venture outside.  Yesterday the temperature was -2 degrees with a windchill of -20.  The newslady warned people not to go outside with exposed skin.  So I had to cancel my sunbathing plans.

We left for church at 8am today.  Stepping outside took my breath away, and I wanted to cough instead of breathe.  My nose hairs froze.  We couldn't run to the car fast enough...  but it wasn't exactly warm since we park outside in the alley.  Everyone chattered all the way to church.  Heat started to come out of the vents as we pulled into the parking lot.  As we drove home this afternoon, Andy tried to clear the windshield with a squirt of washer fluid.  It was frozen within seconds.  Wicked-cold.

We have a three-story townhome.  Usually the top floor is too warm during the day, the second floor is comfortable, and the ground floor is a bit chilly.  This weekend the top floor is comfortable.  The second floor is chilly.  The ground floor is downright freezing.

We are bundling up.  I have been putting my thermals and wool sweaters to good use.  Alli enjoys layering clothes too.  She likes to dress herself, and layering just gives her more opportunity for creative expression.  Friday's outfit was: snow boots, warm socks, black tights, pink velour pants, hot pink skirt, green undershirt, red t-shirt, and floral long-sleeve shirt.  Needless to say, I am doing more laundry these days.

So we are staying in for a few more days, sipping hot chocolate and eating soup... and thinking warm thoughts.


Saturday was Alli's big birthday party.  Her actual birthday was a week ago, but we waited on the party because one of Alli's favorite pals was out of town.

Alli wanted a fish-unicorn-princess-themed party.  (I enjoy a good challenge.)invitation cake 1  pinata 1cake 2

The invitations featured a princess, some fish and a unicorn.  Alli was quite pleased.  The cake featured all three themes too.  I made a fish piñata.  And we played a princess-ball-toss game, a fishing game, and pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn.  The kids dressed up in princess costumes.  Alli was a mermaid princess (wow... she covered 2 out of 3 themes) and she wore one braid and one pigtail in her hair... plus a mermaid tiara. 

alli cake 2 alli cake candlesAlli birthday present 1 alli annaliese elijah

fishing gamepinata clara elijah annalieseruby 1

A fun time was had by all.  Everyone went home sugared-up, tired, and with treat bags... a successful party indeed.

From age two, Alli has expressed strong opinions about her birthday celebrations (Alli, age two: "I want pink cupcakes with pink sprinkles and pink candles.").  Alli said that next year she wants an animal party.  Where is the challenge in that?

Cupcake Day... at last!

The lollipop cupcakes were a hit at Alli's preschool.  She enjoyed being a star as her friends sang "Happy Birthday" and scarfed down their treats.  She got to wear the special birthday pin.  It was a very exciting day. Alli preschool

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Night time routine

A month ago Ruby was crazy at night time.  Crazy.  And she would not go to bed without a fight.  Alli did not like bedtime either.

All that has changed.

Alli got a CD player for her birthday.  She listens to stories on CD at bedtime.  She loves it so much that she goes to bed early without complaint.  Once I turn on the stories, I don't hear another peep from her.  Andy downloaded a bunch of free stories off of this website and burned them onto a CD.  Andy is awesome.

Ruby no longer fights bedtime either.  Tonight, I held her hand and walked her to her trundle bed.  She got into bed, I pulled up the covers and kissed her.  And she stayed there.  She is sleeping through the night in the trundle.

It took some hard work, late nights, and persistence, but I am quite happy with the bedtime routine.

We have come a long way... baby.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Grandma Rocks!

My Grandma makes buckets of caramel popcorn and hundreds (maybe thousands) of cookies every holiday season for all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, neighbors, friends... maybe even strangers.  Her caramel corn is delicious... I have never tasted better.

We got our package a week or two ago.  Not one cookie was broken.  My grandma is amazing. 

The cookies were delicious, so buttery and good.  The caramel corn just melts in your mouth.  It is nearly impossible to just have one taste.  It is addictive.  The only thing keeping me from finishing it off in one sitting is that it would be all gone... and I am not ready for that.

Alli and Ruby have enjoyed their rations of the goodies.  Ruby likes to eat the popcorn with a fork.  Alli likes to eat it by the fistful. 

Ruby caramel corn 1

Okay, I feel a little bit bad, but BACK OFF GIRLS!  THIS IS A TREAT FOR MOMMY (and maybe daddy).Alli Ruby caramel corn

Thank you Grandma!  We love you.

Cupcake attempt #2

cupcakes 1

We made cupcakes today for Alli's preschool class.  They are pink this time, inside and out.  She is so excited to celebrate her birthday with her friends at school tomorrow.  Let's hope she stays healthy this time.

*I must give credit to Carrie C. for inspiring this cupcake design and a thank-you-shout-out to Stephanie H. for the cake-decorating kit.

Alli is FOUR!

Alli turned four this weekend.  We celebrated with breakfast next-door at Toast.  Always delicious.  That is where Alli wanted to go.  She had a huge stack of pancakes which she and Ruby ate for breakfast... and lunch. 


Alli presents 1Alli presents 2Alli presents 3Alli birthday book Alli presents 4

Alli opened presents after breakfast.  There is nothing quite as exciting as a kid opening presents.  The anticipation and paper-ripping and pulling presents out of boxes with shear delight is just fun to witness.  Everything was perfect and just what she had always wanted.  She got a book, a CD player, a CD, a harmonica, guitar picks, a guitar strap, and some cute clothes and accessories. Alli birthday hat

Alli wore a princess dress all day.  She wore accessories too: a veil, sparkly headband, striped tights, necklace, bracelets... she was dressed to the nines.

We wanted to take her to Rainforest Cafe for dinner.  As we were driving up she said, "Eh, I don't really want to go there."  The restaurant she did want to go to was closed.  So we settled with Ed Debevick's.  Alli enjoyed dinner.  (To me, Ed Debevick's can be summed up like this: white bread, Hershey's syrup and Velveta.  Not my favorite place to eat.)  They brought her a tiny ice cream sundae with a candle for her birthday, and she got to keep the miniature sundae glass.  She was delighted.

Happy Birthday Allison!  It has been four fun, exciting years with this amazing girl.  We are lucky!

Cupcake attempt #1

Last Wednesday Alli and I made cupcakes... tons of cupcakes... for her preschool class to celebrate her birthday.  We mixed chocolate cake batter and yellow cake batter for marbled cupcakes.  We frosted them with homemade frosting, and I made little frosting flowers on them with my new cake-decorating kit.  Three dozen beautiful cupcakes.  She was so excited to take them to school on Thursday.

Well, in the middle of the night Alli got sick.  She threw up five times during the night, so she did not go to school on Thursday.  And we were left with a lot of cupcakes.

Alli sick 1 Alli spent Thursday resting on the couch with a bucket nearby.  She was sad that she missed her cupcake day.

Ruby kept taking snacks to Alli: cornflakes, pretzels, crackers... and Alli piled them up next to her pillow.

Ruby was very attentive to her sick sister.  Fortunately, Ruby remained healthy. 

She walked right in front of the camera as I was taking a picture of Alli.  What a doll.

Ruby flash

Spectacles... both kind

I got pink eye for a third time this season.  Not cool.

So I threw out all of my contact stuff, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, face lotion... and part of me was grumbling about the expense and hassle of replacing it all, but I do not want to get pink eye again.

My eye is looking better now.  Fine, actually.  But I am wearing glasses for a few days, just to be sure.

I hate wearing glasses.  For one thing they are always covered in little finger prints and slobber (not my own).  But I will suffer through spectacle-wearing to avoid more pink eye.

So Sunday I was getting ready for church and I busted my glasses at the hinge as I was putting my sweater on.  Ugh.  I had to tape my glasses together and wear them to church.  Not cool.  My glasses have spring hinges, so one side was all springy and the other side had wobbly tape which made them sit on my face quite askew.  I kept adjusting them.  But they sprung right back into their wonky position.  It nearly drove me crazy.

Andy's glasses are almost the same prescription, so today he suggested that I wear his glasses while I got mine fixed.  My vision was much better, but whenever I looked down the glasses nearly slid off my face.  And I was wearing man-glasses.  I had a million errands to run (Stanley's, Home Depot, Target, Strack & Van Til, Costco) and I just kept hoping I wouldn't see anyone I know.  But I did see my friend Carrie at Target.  She didn't laugh at me, which made me feel good.

It took like 15 minutes for the Costco glasses-fixer guy to fix my glasses.  Unfortunately, they don't make my frames anymore, so the new piece he put on doesn't match perfectly, but it beats tape... and man-glasses.  And he fixed them for free.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ruby sleeps

Ruby has had naps the last two days. And she has slept through the night in her own bed the last few days. (Hallelujah!) The bedtime secret: Andy is a baby whisperer... or something like that. I have to give him credit for the success. I don't know how he does it, but he puts the girls to bed and they stay. The naptime secret: wearing Ruby out at the park. I will take credit for that.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas Recap


I know you all want to hear all about our exciting Christmas adventure in Utah.  I will attempt to recap our visit with Andy's family and I will be brief.

Flying out of Midway was stressful and almost didn't happen.  The ticketing line stretched through the rope maze, down a back hallway and out into the parking garage (with 17 degree temperature).  By the time we reached the agent at the counter, our flight was "closed" so she gave us security passes so we could run to our gate and see if anyone was still there.  Miraculously, we  made it onto our flight.  However our bags did not (more on that later).  Andy's sister Jen was on the same flight, and the girls sat with her most of the time.  It was the best flight ever.

We arrived in Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon.  Our bags arrived Tuesday at 4am.  It was a Christmas miracle.  We survived off of borrowed clothes, Grandma's closet of clothes for the grandkids and a quick trip to K-Mart where Andy bought this awesome faux-vintage "Speed Fest" shirt (see picture above).   Tres chic (I know that needs and accent, but I don't know how to do it).

Christmas morning was magical... partly because we were finally wearing our own clean clothes, but also because Alli and Ruby were so excited.  Weeks ago Andy told Alli that Santa is pretend, and she was happy to pretend that Santa came.  She left out cookies and milk, and she was delighted that they were gone.  Ruby loved ripping open the pretty Christmas wrapping papers.

Santa was quite generous, and the girls were thrilled to open present after present.  Among other things, Alli got a real guitar that is just her size. Uncle Adam and Alli had a little jam session.  Ruby got a drum filled with other instruments.  She jammed too.


Alli and Ruby enjoyed bonding with their cousin Lucas.  This little guy is smart and super-cute.  He is ten months old, but the same size as Ruby (18 months old).  I was joking with Alli about her and Ruby and Lucas all going to BYU together and they could set each other up with their friends.  Alli informed me that she is marrying Elijah, so that will not be necessary.  Alli liked being bigger than Lucas. Ruby liked being faster than Lucas.  They all enjoyed playing together.

_MG_5352 Andy Karyn Steph Mike

We all enjoyed a tremendous amount of great food!  And there were cookies, candy, and chocolates available 24/7.  Ruby discovered that she could move the barstool over to the candy counter and help herself.  We found Ruby this way on several occasions, surrounded by half-eaten bonbons (apparently she doesn't care for cherry).

Andy's mom goes all out for Christmas.  She decorates every room beautifully.  Alli and Ruby had fun looking at all the decorations, and they had even more fun rearranging them.  Ruby especially loved the snowman by the fireplace.  She carried him around all week.  Only a few things got broken. 

We did lots of fun things in Utah.  We went sledding, but not for long.  There was a little accident that left Alli face-down in the snow and ended all the fun.  She was fine, just cold and wet and startled.  We visited Andy's grandma Norma.  Alli and Ruby helped themselves to the snacks and goodies in her apartment.  We played games.  The Nicolls get super-competitive, usually in a fun way.  They seem to have a new card game every time we visit.  We went swimming.  My old roommate Stephanie and her husband visited us.  She is radiantly pregnant with a girl due in February.  I was glad that I got to rub her belly.  We went shopping (for fun).  We went out for dinner.  Andy and I went out on a date to the movies.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all fun and games.  After Christmas we learned that Andy's uncle Bruce has an aggressive form of cancer in his brain.  He had emergency brain surgery, and his situation is quite serious.  We are waiting for news and praying for the best.  Andy's sister had a miscarriage.  We are sad for her loss.  The last bit of our trip was heavy, but it was good to be with family.

We made it back to Chicago.  And everything fit into our suitcases.  And our suitcases came back on the same flight with us.  I am caught up on vacation laundry.  The girls are enjoying all of their Christmas gifts.  The Christmas cards are still not all out... but things are good.

It's silly. I know.

So every year at this time I get a little giddy about a contest.  It is the HGTV Dream House Give-Away!And I always imagine myself winning, so I enter the sweepstakes everyday.  Kind of silly and not likely... but what if...

The house is super-cute and completely furnished and on a beach in the Florida Keys.  And free if you win. 

So here is the link:  HGTV Dream Home Give Away!  I know that by sharing this I am slightly decreasing my odds of winning this year.   But I will be happy for anyone of my friends/family that wins, as long as you invite us to visit you in the dream home... frequently.  I hope I win. 

You can enter once a day until mid-February.  Good luck.

(I have already entered four times.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Who needs sleep? I do!

Last night I (miraculously) got Ruby to sleep by 9pm.  This is a great feat.  Ruby is not a great sleeper (that is an understatement).  As an infant, she slept through the night almost every night until she was five months old... we took a vacation that apparently spoiled her sleep habits permanently.  Since then, her sleep habits have been all over the place, sometimes good, but mostly unpredictable and generally fewer hours asleep than I think she needs.

So last night I patted myself on the back for successfully putting her to bed early (9pm is early for Ruby).  But as I was enjoying my victory and getting some stuff done kid-free, I heard the crying of a certain little girl.  I must admit, my heart sank.  Andy went upstairs to comfort her.  He put her back to sleep, but fifteen minutes later she was crying again.  Ruby sleeps in Alli's trundle now.  The crib can no longer contain this talented climber.  So Ruby can get herself out of bed at will... and what a will she has!

After we went to bed, I was up with Ruby four or five times during the night.  I woke to the sound of little feet running across the hardwood floors to my bedside... several times.  Finally Ruby won and she ended up in our bed, where she wiggled and kicked and continued to keep me up.  The kicker is that I had to wake Ruby up this morning so I could take Alli to preschool.  I was sorely tempted to leave her sleeping, but reason won over.

So today I am a zombie mom.  It is 9:50pm, and Ruby is as perky as a cheerleader with a Mountain Dew.  And I am about to pass out with exhaustionzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as I escape to blogland.

alli ruby lucas norma asleep

The picture is from our trip to Utah.  Ruby was actually asleep for this picture.  Lucas was really snoozing too.  Alli and Great-Grandma Norma were just posing (as if you couldn't tell). 

I am open to any sleep advice, but keep in mind Ruby no longer sleeps in her crib because she can climb right out.  Oh yes, every night is a real adventure (battle) with Ruby.  Maybe I should price out a night-time nanny.  Just kidding.  But if I get the chance to dream tonight, I will dream about having a night-time nanny. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Christmas Cards

I tried very hard to get all the Christmas cards out before Christmas... and it didn't happen.  About 40% of the cards made it out pre-Christmas, but I have a big stack of cards all ready to be stamped and sent... waiting for me.

So here is a sneak peek if you haven't seen it yet.   It is coming... card copy

We were in the Salt Lake City airport on Monday, and we ran into our friends the Fillers (who used to live in Chicago and now live in Washington).  The funny thing is, I had their Christmas card in my carry-on all ready to send to them.  So I saved $.41 and just handed it to them. 

A note or two about our card:

* This family picture was taken in June in Utah.  Ruby looks like a baby... and sadly, she has grown quite a bit since then.  Alli too looks much older.  Hmm, am I noticeably older? 

** If this card looks like an exercise in Photoshop, it is.  I am learning the ways of CS3.  In next year's card, I will not age one bit.  :)

Christmas at the Zoo

_MG_5246_MG_5257 _MG_5255 Before Christmas we took advantage of a 40 degree night to go see the Zoo Lights.  Our friends the Hatches met us as the zoo. 
_MG_5261_MG_5270 _MG_5266 We saw the dazzling lights, played in the children's area, ate dinner in the food court, saw some animals, and visited with Santa (again Ruby screamed and Alli couldn't remember what she wanted).
_MG_5279 _MG_5271 This is one of my favorite Chicago Christmas traditions.  And it is very fun when the temperature is above freezing, like this year.