Tuesday, April 29, 2008

farewell Lettuce

This morning came with tragic news.  Alli's goldfish "Lettuce" died.

Last night we took a family trip to Petco, where we bought a few aquarium supplies.  We returned home and gave the fish tank a good spring cleaning.  When we put the filter back on the tank, the intake cover was accidentally left off... and that, my friends, is what did the fish in.

Poor Alli was saddened by the loss of her pet fish.  She didn't cry, but she appeared to be on the brink of tears and was unusually quiet.  A brief funeral service was held in the bathroom, and then Andy flushed the little fish.

We will be returning to Petco today to adopt another fish... and cheer up a little girl.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Disaster Averted in Playground Adventure

The weather is glorious today.  So we spent the morning at the park.

Ruby, my little adventurer, followed Alli and her friends around trying to do what they were doing... big kid stiff.  Alli and Elijah got on the tire swing, and Ruby wanted to ride too.  So I put her on and pushed the three of them.

The kids laughed and yelled "Faster! Faster!" as they swung around.  They were doing great for about ten minutes.  Then Elijah let go of one of the chains to wave his arm around or something.  Ruby tried to do it too. 

With only one hand on the chain, Ruby lost her balance and slipped into the tire hole.  I was right there, pushing the kids around, but I couldn't react fast enough.  Ruby let go with her other hand and she fell to the ground below the tire swing.  I knew in a moment she would try to get up with the 100 pound wrecking ball swinging above her. 

I timed my pounce, and dove in to get her out of the danger zone.  I scooped her up, and in my hurry to get out of the way of the oncoming tire laden with kids, I tripped and did a commando-style roll (it was probably more like a clumsy somersault), landing with Ruby held tightly to my chest.  I was sprawled out on my back. 

Very cool.

I laid there for a few seconds hoping that no one had just seen my action-hero performance... and dramatic crash landing. 

Ruby was fine.  She had a very minor scrape on her knee from the rubber flooring.  My knee was all red and purple with scrapes.  Very fun.

Alli and Ruby took turns kissing my knee better.  That made it all worth it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reflections on today

It has been one of those days... it feels like everything I have done has been undone much too quickly.

* I put on makeup this morning.  You would never know now.

* I mopped the kitchen floor this afternoon.  Big mistake.  I just redid it now that the girls are in bed.

* I cleaned my office. (sigh)

* I cleaned the giant mirror in the kitchen.  Those fingerprints mysteriously reappear within minutes.

* I folded a basket of laundry... which ended up dumped on the floor.

* I cleaned the toilet.  'Nuf said.

* I put clothes on Ruby... and I had to do it three more times today.

ruby naked 1

Ruby has discovered that she can take all her clothes off.  And diaper.  She plays until I discover her nakedness, then she runs away laughing.  This is her new favorite game (beating out peek-a-boo and ring-around-the-rosy).  Sometimes she strips down and then puts her favorite pink shoes on.  Bare bottom, not barefoot.  (Note: in the picture, her diaper is the white blob out on the patio in the background.) 

It's not all bad.  We had bundles of fun today too.  We went to the Ella Jenkins concert.  We had a picnic lunch.  Paige came over and the girls had a fabulous tea (lemonade) party... complete with costumes and wands.  I think they were assorted fairies (Paige was a mermaid fairy, Alli was an angel fairy, and Ruby was just a silly fairy).  The girls giggled and laughed and pretended to be great characters all afternoon.

tea party 1 tea party 2

tea party 3 tea party 4

The daily grind can be brutal, but there are plenty of amazing moments to enjoy.  I am blessed to be a mom.  It is tough keeping the house clean, but I am blessed to have a house. 

My blessing list is much longer than my undone list today.

Ella Jenkins was here!

ella jenkins alli ruby 1 

We are so lucky!  Ella Jenkins did a concert at Alli's school today!  This woman is remarkable!  She has been making educational music for children for... a really, really long time.  I heard her music as a kid.  She is in her eighties, but has enough energy to enchant a crowd of 3-8 year-olds for over an hour.  She emits so much kindness, dignity and intelligence.  Her voice is rich with age and wisdom.  I was fascinated watching her perform.  She sang and played the ukulele, harmonica, and drums.  She sang songs in Italian, Japanese,  and Spanish.  She involved the children and kept them entertained.

When I am eighty, I want to be like her.

All saving the earth and whatnot...


Happy Earth Day!  (Yesterday, I know.)  We spent Earth Day without phone or Internet... not actually because we were trying to conserve energy, but because of a problem I would describe as "Comcastic."  Anyhow, we are back on the information grid today.

ruby alli in bag 1

In celebration of Earth Day, I am going public with my newest green habit...I am now only using fabric grocery bags.  I love them.  I keep my collection of fabric bags in the car trunk so I have them when I need them.  This bag from Aldi was $2 and it fits two kids inside (very handy).  Carrying groceries in from the alley is much easier with the big, strong fabric bags.

I do still use those thin clear plastic bags for produce, but as long as they are clean and dry, I reuse them.  They go in my fabric bag collection in the trunk until I need them. 

I have a few other earth saving tips...

- when a cup of water is left out, instead of dumping it down the drain, I water our houseplants.

- I repair/reinvent some of our worn out clothes (kids pants make nice shorts when the knees wear out)

- I use empty sour cream and yogurt tubs over again for our leftovers... and for all our freezer jam now.

- our huge supply of plastic grocery bags are being used as trash can liners and stinky diaper holders.

What are you doing to improve the earth?  Let's hear your best tips...

Sweet strawberries!

strawberry face

Oh, how I love strawberries... especially strawberries on sale!

There was a great deal on strawberries at Stanley's this week, so I bought a full box of them.  (Maybe I was a little too excited about spring.)  We tried lots of delicious strawberry recipes, and we made freezer jam with the rest.

This beauty had a very funny "nose" growing on the top, so we added almond/blueberry eyes.  Alli said he looked like Grandpa Ohio with his mustache.

My favorite strawberry salad:  spring greens, red onions sauteed in a balsamic maple reduction, maple-glazed pecans, goat cheese, and strawberries.  To make the pecans and onions... first put a handful of pecans into a pan over medium heat, add about one tablespoon of maple syrup.  Mix to coat pecans.  Cook for about five minutes.  Set pecan aside.  In the same pan add the red onions, sliced thin, and about one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  Saute for a few minutes until soft. Toss all the ingredients together with another dash of balsamic vinegar and enjoy.

If you are in the mood for some freezer jam, stop by.  We have more freezer jam than we have space for right now.  Yum.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Butterfly has emerged!

butterfly alli 1

After an obnoxiously long and cold winter, and after much patience (and sometimes doubt on our part), one of the butterflies has emerged from its chrysalis!

The chrysalises spent the winter in our shed, chillin'.  In March we took them to Alli's preschool so the kids could observe them... if anything ever happened.  I thought they might have been handled too rough to survive.  For being so delicate looking, butterflies  must be quite resilient in their chrysalises.

Alli's teacher called us this morning with the exciting news.  We all went to the school right away to see the butterfly.  Alli thought that it was so beautiful. 

It was wonderful to see the black swallowtail butterfly after such a long wait. 

caterpillar 1 chrysalis 1 Alli BW caterpillar green

Last August, we discovered four caterpillars on our parsley.  Two formed chrysalises... the other two either made really well-hidden chrysalises or they were eaten by pigeons.

There is one more chrysalis left unopened in the container.  It was formed a day or two behind this one.  Stay tuned...

Ruby says no.

ruby bw 1

Ruby's newest statement:

No.  I don't want it.

Sometimes a simple "no" just won't do... like when it's time for medicine, or  when she's getting a hug from a cousin, or when I'm trying to get her to eat lunch.  I love how she has added her feelings into her refusals.  When she says this in her sweet toddler voice, it just cracks me up, and I can't be upset that she won't eat her veggies.

She has also recently started saying "All better!" or "That's better!" after boo-boo kisses from Mommy.  I love that.

Observing her development is so much fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Forty Years

Bill Shirley 1968 color copy

My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last weekend.  Forty years together.

40 years together.

90 months pregnant.

10 kids.

50,000 diapers (estimate)... more than half cloth diapers.

5 Suburbans.

7 kids put through college.  2 in the middle of college.

8 weddings.

22 grandkids.

2,016 date nights (estimate).


I am lucky to come from such a great couple.  They are a shining example of love and determination and hard work.

Happy Anniversary!

Somebody got a haircut...

alli in rain boots 1

Alli wanted to have short hair.

So I cut her hair.


While in Columbus, we visited Inniswoods Gardens with Marissa, Sarah and Eldon. 

alli ruby eldon in treehouse 1 andy ruby inniswoods 1 alli in rain boots 1

eldon ruby alli treehouse 2 eldon ruby wheelchair eldon white squirrel  andy

Spring flowers were in bloom.  Blossoms on the trees were starting to open.  The fragrance of spring floated on the soft breeze.  It was a gorgeous morning.

The kids loved climbing into the treehouse, watching tadpoles wiggle in the stream, following the albino squirrel, exploring the garden paths, taking a spin in a wheelchair, and seeing the beautiful flowers...  There is nothing so lovely as a spring garden with laughing children.

Cousin time

Last weekend we drove to Ohio to visit my family and celebrate my parents' 40th wedding anniversary and Kim's baptism. 

My family is large.  Lots of kids.  Even more grandkids.  It is awesome.  Here are some of the best cousin pictures from this trip. (Not all cousins are pictured... I didn't take enough pictures.)

eldon ruby 1

Eldon and Ruby chillin' in their diapers.

alli ruby eldon in treehouse 1 eldon 1 emma eliza alli sandbox 1 izak joe swordfighteldon ruby alli treehouse 2

Alli especially enjoyed playing with Emma and Eliza... Barbies, My Little Ponies, dress-up, Polly Pocket... this was a great weekend.

eldon 2

Isn't this boy adorable?

Pump It Up!

alli laughing piu 1 alli piu 1 ruby marissa piu 2 ruby marissa piu 1 ruby piu 1

What to do on a rainy cold day?  Pump It Up!  The name of the place is super-cheesy, but Alli and Ruby love this place, and they use all of their energy here, so I love it too. 

Last week we escaped the chilly, wet weather at Pump It Up!  Marissa came along for some bouncy fun.  Ruby, in her true form, built a tower and climbed to the top.  She is always climbing to new heights.

Alli played with Elijah (not pictured).  There was much running, jumping, chasing, laughing, and general silliness.

ruby funny face 1

Friday, April 4, 2008

Check this out!

I am a proud mama.

Ruby and Alli and their friend Elijah are in a very fun video with Mr. Singer singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider! Click here to see their singing debut.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

welcome to the next big project

ugly bathroom

Oh yes.  It is time for a little renovation in our original 1970's bathroom.  This is the pre-demolition shot.  Ugh.  Currently the bathroom is torn apart... no sink... no tiles... no counter.  Bare.  Dusty.

A blank canvas.

Stay tuned for results.

Nice to see my niece... and brother

Katheryn Dan 2 BW Katheryn Dan 1

My brother Dan was here this weekend with his daughter Katheryn.  Dan make custom mahogany doors, and he was delivering a bunch in Chicago... I know that was just an excuse to come see us.

We took Dan and Kat to the zoo on Saturday.

zoo everyone

Everyone enjoyed looking at the flamingos... except Ruby who seems to be checking some guys out.  Hmm.

We had lunch at Nookies... a great place for breakfast or lunch.  And cheap for kids.  And delicious.

Thanks for coming to see us!

Let them eat cake!

cake 1 alli cake 1

I just completed a beginner cake decorating class.  My friend Alison and I took the Wilton I  Course at JoAnn's.  It was four weeks of fun and frosting... and getting away for a few hours.

Anyhow, this was my final cake. 

What you can't see is that Ruby destroyed the top layer moments before class.  She really wanted to eat the cake filled with pudding.  She tore open the top layer to get at the pudding filling.  I pieced the top layer back together with frosting... and covered it all up with more frosting.  She was mad that I took the cake away.

When I got home Alli and Ruby got to peek at the cake.  They were so anxious to eat it.  But they had to wait.  The missionaries came over for dinner tonight, and this cake was dessert.

As excited as they were about the cake, they actually just ate the frosting off of their pieces... and the pudding out of the middle.