Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wild hair and fun times

nature museum alli ruby1

We went to the nature museum.  Alli built dams in the water area while Ruby destroyed them. 

Alli did her own hair.  I offered to help.  She refused my assistance.  Here's a closer look...

alli hair 1

The Nature Museum has a wonderful butterfly haven where thousands of butterflies flutter around in tropical warmth and humidity, while just outside a stinging chill has nature in a deep freeze.  Don't be fooled by Alli's frown, she likes the butterfly haven... I just asked her to smile.

Pure sugar

alli cotton candy 1 alli cotton candy 2 ruby cotton candy 1 ruby cotton candy 2

We took the girls to a Winter Carnival at DePaul last Saturday.  It was so much fun, and everything was free (which makes it even more fun in my book).  The girls tasted their first cotton candy.  Well, the first bite was a shy taste, then they ravenously devoured the rest of the sugary pink fluff.

alli mr singer 1 ruby alli onstage

Mr. Singer and Kerry Appleberry performed at the Winter Carnival.  They invited kids onstage to sing some songs.  Alli sang and played tambourine.  Ruby got onstage too, but then she stepped to the edge and shouted, "Jump!" and then she jumped off the edge of the stage.  Ruby chooses adrenaline over music.  I dove to catch Ruby and skinned my knee.  Very fun and cool in front of an audience.

ruby alli onstage 2

Ruby got a second chance onstage later.  This time she had to sit on the stage.  She did the motions for Isty-Bitsy Spider... and then jumped off the stage from a seated position.  Much safer.

alli cheerleader 1 alli painted face alli slide

Alli tried out as a cheerleader.  The cheerleaders painted her face.... and it looks like they styled her hair too. 

We played on the inflatable bouncy toys and slides.  We wore ourselves out.  A very fun evening indeed.

Thank goodness it's washable

ruby marker 1

Ruby loves drawing with markers.  She was being pretty good about just drawing on her paper, but then I blinked and she had drawn all over her face and hand.  I took the offending marker away, which upset her.  She started to cry, which made the marker smear and run down her cheeks.  She rubbed her sad eyes with her marked up hands and that spread more blue around her face.

Luckily it only took two wet wipes to turn this Smurf back into Ruby.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Make reservations now!

Starting tomorrow, Chicago is having a restaurant week! Several fine restaurants are offering three-course prix fixe lunches for $21.95 and dinners for $31.95.
Click here for more information.

This is a great excuse for a date night... hint, hint, Andy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ruby's back

Ruby has grown so much in the last year. My sister-in-law posted some pictures from a photo shoot last March. Click here to see Ruby and Andy's pictures on Betsy's blog.

I took this picture of Ruby on Valentines' Day last year. I taped paper wings onto Ruby's back. The wink was real. And those delicious, baby rolls were real... but gone now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Check these kids out!

Winter J-C-A-B 1964-3 copy

These kids do not look happy about their winter clothes.  They could use a little advice from Alli on spicing up their winter wardrobe to make the cold months the most fabulous of all.

Ha ha.

This is Andy's dad Jeff, Anne, Cliff, and Bruce all ready for a ski outing... back in the day.

Andy worked hard to restore this photo and bring it back to its former glory.  He is pretty talented.

Sorry guys, these outfits are still bland.  Photoshop can't fix that.


Uncle Bruce is recovering from chemotherapy right now.  We hope this picture brings you a little entertainment and fun while you rest.

A stroll down Halsted

On Saturday, we were going stir crazy, so we bundled up and went for a walk down Halsted.  My sister Marissa is staying with us, and she pushed Ruby while I played the part of paparazzi. 

Alli brought her baby doll in the stroller and two stuffed Chihuahuas in dog purses... one dog was wearing a dress.  She knows how pets stroll in style around here.

alli ruby marissa strollers 

We looked in the shop windows as we walked down the block.  Alli loves the shoes, clothes and purses always displayed appetizingly in the windows at Betsey Johnson, and this time we went into the store to look around.  The women working in the store couldn't get enough of Alli's ensemble.  The bedazzled crown shirt and plaid pants, the faux-fur trimmed boots and Alli's fun accessories entertained the ladies in the store who thought she was a little Betsey Johnson fashionista.

  alli at betsey johnson

Once we pulled out of the store, we continued down the frozen street.   The shoppers passing by chuckled at Alli's entourage of dogs and doll,  her wild get-up, and her four-year-old smart-as-a-whip confidence.

alli walking on halsted

A dog at the salon caught our attention, and the girls watched the Jack Russell terrior wander around the salon as if it were his.  Alli held her dog Skamp up to see.  The real dog's owner brought him out so the girls could see him up close, but he (the dog) was more interested in the light pole nearby.

alli looking at halsted store

That was the fun part of our walk.  Our walk didn't last much longer.  And though it was chilly, both Alli and Ruby had severe meltdowns within minutes.  Both girls kicked off their boots in defiance and/or anger.  Both girls were far beyond reason.  We hustled home, the wailing of tired girls lingering on the cold night air... and the hope of an early bedtime burning in my heart.

Grandpa Utah

alli crown shirt 1  alli ruby crown shirts 1grandpa alli ruby 1 alli delighted alli crown shirt 2grandpa alli ruby 2 

Last Friday Grandpa Utah came for a brief visit.  Ruby warmed up to him quickly this time.  The gifts he brought probably helped a little.  Grandpa gave each girl a book.  They all had fun sitting with Grandpa and reading the new stories.  Alli was delighted with her book (check out her extreme smile). 

We took Grandpa to game night at our church where he was victorious in a raucous game of Apples to Apples

Also, thanks to Grandma Ohio for the cool matching shirts and plaid pants for Ruby to grow into that Alli insisted on wearing.

dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum

ruby on toilet with book

I heard a little voice saying, "Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum!" so I peaked into the bathroom and found Ruby lounging on the potty leafing through a favorite book. 

Luckily she stayed there long enough so I could go get the camera.

Let me just say, she doesn't get this book habbit from me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feeling the Love

Alli had a rockin' Valentine's Day party at her school yesterday.  Ruby came along for the celebration.  The Valentine's festivities included a non-uniform day, so Alli got to wear whatever she wanted to school.  She wore the pink velour outfit from Grandma with several bracelets, a necklace, heart-patterned flip-flops, heart sunglasses, and her sparkly red tote bag.  (I am kicking myself now for not getting a better picture of the whole ensemble).

Alli gave Valentine's to everyone in her class.  She wrote her name on them all and she wrote the names of most of her friends.  She said some of her friends' names were too long, so I helped out with those ones.  She even made one for herself... to Alli from Alli.  I love you.

ruby kiss 1 ruby kiss 2 ruby kiss 3

Ruby was thrilled about the cookie-decorating table.  There were cookies, frosting, sprinkles, candy and chocolate kisses all within her reach, and no one was stopping her.  Miss Jess gave Ruby a cookie to decorate.  Ruby didn't bother with it.  Instead, she ate all of the chocolate kisses she could get her paws on.  The cookie remained untouched.

valentine cookie

Alli, however, managed to completely camouflage her cookie with gooey frosting and a mountain of sprinkles.

valentine party 1 valentine party 2

alli valentine party ruby valentine party

The kids decorated bags for exchanging Valentine cards.  The bags were set out on the floor while cards were passed out.  Ruby took this opportunity to swipe the teachers' bags.  Nice try.  Alli had a great time going through her Valentine's Day loot.  She got lots of cards, stickers, pencils, and CANDY!

As hard as I tried to keep the sugar to a minimum, the girls really overdid it with the candy and treats.  Ruby somehow found a sucker in the middle of dinner (maybe it was under the table in a secret stash?)and helped herself... by this time she was in a sugar-induced stupor (note the blank stare).

ruby sugared out

The girls went to bed early.  Whew.  And when Andy got home, he and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, which is one of my favorite things to do... even when I am dressed like an Eskimo.  (PS- the kids weren't left alone.  My sister is visiting.)

Andy and I went out Wednesday night to Aria for our Valentines' date.  It was wonderful.  Delicious.

(By the way... Aria has a chocolate cake touted as the BEST in Chicago.  We didn't get it because we were pretty full and they say it feeds a crowd.  But I would love to go back and try it, so any girlfriends who are up for a night out, let me know!)\

Anyhow, I hope you were all feeling the love on Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Always in the Kitchen

alli ruby guitar 1

A friend of mine pointed out to me that most of the pictures posted on my blog are taken in our kitchen.  Do we spend every waking minute in the kitchen?  No.  But here is why our kitchen is so popular for pictures...

1.  Our kitchen has the best lighting in the house.  A photo can only be as good as the light it gets, so I often scoot the kids into the kitchen for a little photo shoot.  We have a big window plus three other light sources and a mirror reflecting it all.  Maybe in the future we will have a house with a room with studio lighting... until then, this kitchen will have to do.

2.  Alli and Ruby get into a lot of mischief in our kitchen... so that is where I get the best candid shots of their naughty adventures.  They love the step-stool in the kitchen that helps them reach forbidden territories.  Ruby loves to hide in the cupboard with the mixer.  She loves to hide my keys in the drawer of measuring cups.

3.  Let's be honest here, the kitchen is where the food is, so you can find us there quite often.  Too often.  My little chocoholics know where to find the treats... I do too.  Our kitchen is where it's at.

4.  One entire wall in our kitchen is a giant mirror.  The girls are enamored with their reflections, and lots of funny things happen by the mirror.  (And I can play with camera angles and be artistic with the mirror.)

5.  The favorite heating vent of the girls is located in the center of the kitchen.  Especially during these bitter cold winter months, they love to hang out on top of the heating vent with blankets wrapped around them, the blankets puffing up with warm air.  It is like their own little sauna, right in the heart of our home.

this is why our lamp broke

alli ruby lamp 1 alli ruby lamp 2 alli ruby lamp 3

Our lamp shade is held onto the lamp base with wire.  I guess lamps aren't made to be maypoles.

Did I let them do this?  No.  But (as you can see) I took a few pictures first because they were so cute and having so much fun... destroying the lamp.  Then they were immediately shooed away from the lame lamp.

This is why we don't invest in a fancy lamp just yet.

Alli, the singing strummer


Alli and Ruby are in a kids' music class taught by Mr. Singer.  They LOVE the class.  It is the highlight of the week for them.  Mr. Singer sings a bunch of folk and kid songs with the class, they have a jam session with his collection of instruments, they dance and pop bubbles.  

music class 2 BW

Mr. Singer has a blog, and he posts kid songs on it every week.  Alli and Ruby love this.  When I get on the computer, Ruby climbs on my lap and repeats "Singer! Singer!" until we go to his blog and watch a video.

Last week, Mr. Singer posted a guitar lesson on his blog.  Alli could not have been more excited.  She has been begging me to get her into lessons ever since she got her guitar for Christmas.  She watched the lesson over and over again.  Ruby was right by her side, repeating everything Alli said.  It went something like this:

Mr. Singer:  I will show you the parts of the guitar.

Alli:  Guitar!

Ruby:  'tar.

Mr. Singer:  This is the bridge of the guitar.  Can you say bridge?

Alli:  Bridge!

Ruby:  Bridge.

Mr. Singer:  This is the tuning peg.

Alli:  Tuning peg.

Ruby:  Pig.

guitar lesson 1alli guitar 1alli guitar 2

Alli memorized every part on her guitar, even the obscure tiny parts.  Do YOU know where the saddle is on your guitar?

She mastered lesson one, and danced around singing with her guitar.  She can't wait for lesson two.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

a tisket a tasket

Ruby was hanging out naked with a book and a silky blanket in the laundry basket, happy as a clam.ruby in basket bw 1

much worse than shots...

ruby balloon Alli and Ruby had check-ups on Monday.  They are both growing well.  Alli is in the 50th percentile for height and weight.  Ruby is in the 50th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight.  Both girls have ear infections.  Both girls really love their antibiotics in a scary way (Alli- "Mom, can I PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE have more medicine?").

Both girls had to have shots.  Ruby had a finger prick and an arm shot.  No fun.  Alli had to get poked five times!  She was brave, but one of hers really stung going in and it left a huge welt on her thigh (as big as my hand... for this immunization, the welt is pretty normal).   Afterwards we went next door to the dollar store for a little reward for bravery.  Alli picked out a dollar store fashion doll and a pink helium balloon.  Ruby got a purple balloon. She proudly showed her bandaged finger to the store clerk who gave her sympathy with a thick Indian accent.  For $3, I had two happy girls again.

On our way home we had to stop at Costco for a prescription and milk and whatnot.  We cruised the store for samples and picked up the necessities.  It was raining when we came out of the store.  Cold drizzle.  As I tried to wrangle two girls and all our stuff into the car, the pink balloon escaped.

Alli let out a loud, sad, "NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" as her balloon shrank into the cloudy gray sky.  She burst into tears and tragic sobs, pausing only to say, "I should have picked the purple one."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bouillon... not the gold kind

So while I was writing the previous posts, Alli and Ruby went into the kitchen and helped themselves to some beef bouillon cubes and potato chips (no, they do not get this from me).  Yum.  I found them drooling brown slobber with beefy, soupy breath and begging for water.  Ruby did not want to give up her cube, but I forced it out.  Alli didn't want to give hers up either, but she couldn't take it after another minute and spit it into the sink willingly.

alli ruby boullion 1


Why do they make bouillon look so much like candy?  I remember trying it as a kid.  I thought I had hit the jackpot as I unwrapped the fancy gold foil.  What I thought was candy turned out to be nasty bouillon.  No jackpot. 

alli ruby skirts 1

And just for kicks... here they are in their matching skirts, Alli with her spunky tights and bow.  Even when they are into mischief they are stinkin' adorable.


We have this lip on our kitchen floor from a hardwood floor being placed on top of an existing tile floor.  The resulting hump is annoying, but we have gotten used to it for the most part.

Unfortunately (and yet fortunately), the lip prevents Ruby from pushing a chair from the table to the counter, much to her frustration.  This scene is typical...

ruby pushing chair

And in this instance she was pleading, "Chocolate!  Chocolate!  Chocolate!" in a most pathetic and desperate manner.  I cruelly looked on, snapping pictures as her frustration deepened and her hunger for the brown nectar overcame her.  Her mood quickly spiraled down as she tried to shove the chair across the hump with all of her 25-pound-ish might.  Moments later she was on the floor crying, bitter tears flowing down her cheeks.  And the chair wasn't any closer to the counter.  Poor thing.

I asked, "Ruby, do you want some chocolate?"

She instantly perked up and said, "Yes, please."  Tantrum over.

Sometimes I am like that.  Chocolate can do wonders when I am in a bad mood.  (Hmm.  Maybe that's why Andy got me a big box of chocolates for my birthday... and chocolate shower gel/shampoo.)  I do love chocolate... the dark, intense, not-too-sugary kind. 

My girls have the same passion for chocolate.  And they are on to my chocolate-hoarding habits.  Alli keeps reminding me that I should share my box of chocolates.  And she won't take a Hershey chocolate as a replacement.  I have been giving the girls the cheaper box of chocolates left over from a Christmas gift instead... and that is sufficing.  Is it mean of me to keep the good stuff to myself? 

(And I haven't kept ALL of the good chocolate to myself, that is why they want it so bad.)

Gearing up for Valentine's Day

As is tradition, Grandma Utah sent Alli and Ruby matching Valentine's Day outfits.  They were so excited to rip open the package.  Alli exclaimed, "What a cute outfit!"  And Ruby repeated, "Outfit!  Outfit!" very excitedly.

They wore their special outfits for the first time on Saturday.  I love it when Alli and Ruby match, though Alli usually adds a twist to her ensemble... this time she accessorized with a gold ribbon for a hairbow/headband.  (Today they wore matching pink/black/white plaid skirts and Alli's twist was her bold black and white striped tights.)  I hope they enjoy matching for a few more years, at least.

alli valentine outfit 1

alli ruby valentine outfit alli ruby valentine outfit 2

ruby valentine outfit 1

Thanks for the outfits Grandma!  We are already feeling the Valentine's Day love!