Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend -- August 6 & 7

It was a busy weekend. But definitely a fun one.

One of my favorite memories as a child was in first or second grade when my parents surprised us one day at school. They just showed up in the middle of the day and took us out of class. My grandparents had come to visit, so we spent the afternoon going to garage sales (one of Grandpa's favorite activities). With this in mind, during my lunch hour on Friday, after I nursed Ellie, I took Ava out of class and we went to the Children's Fair for 20 minutes. It was just enough time for her first pony ride (on the smallest pony I've ever seen, Tinkerbell), a slide down a giant inflatable slide, and a cherry sno cone.

Saturday was my friend Julie's wedding. It's the first one we've been to in years and it was so much fun. It was so nice of her to invite Ava and Ellie and they both had so much fun. Ava immediately acquainted herself with the photographer (I can't wait to see if any of her make the final wedding album), asking to have her picture taken. She was also the queen of the dance floor and would have gladly danced the night away if her mean parents hadn't taken her home to bed.

Sunday, we went to the mall to find some shoes for kindergarten gym class (and left with lots of things, but no gym shoes). On the way home, we decided to get some use out of our zoo membership and spent an hour strolling through the zoo until it got too hot. Ava rode a camel for the first time (something I've never even done). This was big stuff because she's not a fan of heights. But she climbed right now, a little nervous at first, then deciding she could handle it. Afterward, I asked her if she preferred riding ponies or camels. Her reply? The carousel.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend -- July 30 & 31

Ellie got her very first baby doll of her very own. She named her A-ha and slathered her with kisses immediately. She's not even six months old yet, but this is a girl who knows what she wants.

We finally made it to the farmer's market for the first time this summer. Ava used her money to get her face painted (it was actually a fundraiser for the Kids Food Basket) and to buy a bouquet of really beautiful summer flowers. Good choices, I think.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ava's Favorite Soup

This is Ava's very favorite soup. It's the one meal (besides macaroni and cheese) that she requests by name. And it really couldn't be more simple.

2 cans Rotel
1 can corn, drained
1 can refried beans
1 can black beans, drained and rinses
1 can chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 Tbs. fresh cilantro
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (optional)

Dump it all in a big soup pot and heat it up. Serve with sour cream and green onions on top. And to truly be Ava's favorite, you must serve it with blue corn tortilla chips.

One of the things on our summer list was to make ice cream from scratch. We can check that one off! We followed this recipe (which doesn't use an ice cream maker) and it was really yummy.

Ellie: 5 months

Weight: 15 lbs. 4 oz.

About You: You are a drooler. Sometimes we have to change your outfit several times a day because you soak through. Everyone asks if you're teething, but no signs of teeth yet. You've started saying Da-Da (we think you learned if from one of the other babies at school). Right now you seem to just look that sound, but Daddy swears you know what it means. You stuck your thumb in a hole in a toy at daycare and cut it (twice). Your daycare teacher felt really awful about it, but you forgave her pretty much immediately. You seem to have a special talent for finding things to stick your thumbs and fingers into. Once you start moving around more, we're really going to have to make sure all the outlets are babyproofed. You've also started sitting up. At first you looked a bit like a surfer, constantly adjusting your balance to stay up. But you've gotten pretty good at it. You even sat in a high chair at a restaurant today.

Ellie: 4 months

Height: 24 in.
Weight: 14 lbs., 15 oz.

About You: You have won over all the hearts of the teachers at daycare. They love your easy smiles and your easygoing nature. I miss you the hours we're apart, but I love seeing you at lunch everyday. We thought you were ready to start solids. You would watch us whenever we ate and you'd open your mouth like a little bird every time food came anywhere near your mouth. But when we gave you your first spoonful of rice cereal you cried. We're going to wait a bit and see if you do better next month. Your favorite thing is peek-a-boo. You pull whatever is around (blankets, towels, your dress) over your head, then pull it down and look around to make sure everyone knows how funny you are.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Food, flowers, and fabulous nails

Ava's favorite thing about going to the bookstore with me is the pizza pretzels in the cafe. She now associates pizza pretzels so much with books that when I tell her we're going to the library, she asks if she can get a pretzel. We tried our hand at making our own this week. We started with pizza dough, rolled it out, cut it into four pieces, and added sauce and cheese (Ava's going through a no-toppings phase).

Then we tried our hand at rainbow nails. I think the hardest part was probably getting Ava to stay still enough to paint each stripe. She was so exicted about them. The next day at school her teachers said she had to show them off to everyone. Next we're going to try to paint butterflies.
David bought me these at the grocery store. I love glads. I think they might be my favorite flower. They make me think of summer at my grandma's. She's always grown them on the bank near her house. Behind the flowers you can see my new (to me) curtains. They are the one purchase for the house that David and I both like equally (Thanks, Joslyn!).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend -- July 16 & 17

I've decided to starting taking at least five photos every weekend. I feel like I'm always negligent on taking photos of all the fun things we do, and so they're forgotten. Now at least I'll have a bit of a record.

We drove across the state for a family reunion. I love long drives along back country roads. They're always so much more interesting than taking the highway. Mid-Michigan is home to lots of Amish families and we saw a few carts along our route selling homemade yummies. We stopped at one and Ava picked out a some molasses cream cookies and monster cookies. We thought it was so interesting that even though they had grown up in Michigan as we had their accents were so uniquely Amish. David and I always have the best conversations when we're in the car. It's my favorite part of long drives. No distractions means we can really talk. Love that!

Each year at the reunion they have an auction to raise funds for the next year. David's dad was always the auctioneer. This year they asked David to do it. It was so important to him to do a good job. His dad always made it fun and funny and David wanted to do the same in tribute to him. He did a great job, but it was a bittersweet reunion because we felt so strongly the absence of Lee.

We also got to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of my best friends in the whole world, Amy. She's expecting her second little boy on 11.11.11. Ellie snacked on toes while the rest of us had yummy burgers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


So many things going on right now, I don't know where to start. This week has been a weird one, I keep getting confused about what day it is to the point that Ava missed her last dance class today because I thought it was Wednesday...Yikes. I felt terrible, but she wasn't too upset about it.

On Saturday, Ava had her dance recital. Last year I was one of the chaperones for her class, but with the baby I couldn't do it this year. I didn't think much about it until Ava got sick while she was waiting for her class to perform. I thought she might be coming down with the flu, but she was fine once I was backstage with her. Stage fright. Another sign that she's getting older; she's starting to worry about what other people think. It makes me a little sad. She's always been so fearless and outgoing; I feel like she's learned this self-consciousness from me.
After her recital, we grabbed lunch at our favorite restaurant. Ava gave an encore performance for the other diners, so maybe she's not becoming too shy.

That night we went to the Summer Celebration for the fireworks. As we were walking down the midway with the bright lights and the smells and sounds, I realized that these simple but exciting family activities are the things that my girls will remember. These are the things that make a childhood.

We each picked out one terrible for us food (which isn't helping me lose the baby weight, btw). Ava chose a corn dog, which totally surprised me but she seemed to like it. (This photo cracks me up. I just brought our little point-and-shoot camera instead of the Nikon and I could not for the life of me get a good photo).

There was a guy juggling fire and bowling bowls. Ava loved this. I told her these are not things we try at home.

Ellie was pretty mellow about her first fireworks, the were loud but it didn't seem to bother her at all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Home Depot Installation Nightmare

So, we've been planning to get new carpet in our house for a while. It was behind time. We had builder basic beige carpet left over from the previous owners that had seen better days. In fact the last time I had it cleaned, they told us it was really time for new carpet.

Fast forward to months later when after much (much, much) deliberation and comparison. I found a carpet I really loved at Home Depot for a reasonable price. I pulled the trigger and we made our most costly (in more ways than one) home purchase to date. I thought the hard part was over.

Nope. This was only the beginning of what our we and our friends are (not so) fondly referring to as the Great Carpet Saga.

Because we were having all the carpet in our entire house replaced, we had David's brothers come over and help us move ALL of our belongings out into the garage and pull up the old carpet and pad. The new carpet was to go in on Monday, so I thought we could handle one night living like this with a 4 year old and a newborn. But even one night was hard. We discussed maybe just going to a hotel, but with spending so much on carpet, I really didn't want to plunk down more cash.

On Monday (our scheduled installation day) I was on my way home from dropping the girls off at daycare when my husband called: "They can't install the carpet."

What?! Apparently because we had tile in our kitchen and dining room, we needed to have special shims where the carpet met the tile. No one had told us this when we ordered the carpet or when someone had come out to measure. They also told us they couldn't install the downstairs carpet because the tack strips on the cement needed to be glued down. I started to hyperventilate. There is no telling when they'd be able to come back out and we definitely couldn't live like this indefinitely.

I called Home Depot and spoke to Michelle, who was very helpful and worked with installation company to have the installers go and pick-up the needed shims, install them and glue down the strips downstairs, then they would come back a few days later (after the glue had dried) to lay the downstairs carpet.

At this point, I was relieved, I thought we'd had a bit of a hiccup but now everything was under control. Nope. Silly me.

On the day the installers were supposed to come and do the downstairs, I was supposed to get a call in the morning to tell me what time they would be there. By 10am I hadn't heard anything, so I called Home Depot again. About 30 minutes later, the installation company calls and says, "Oops sorry, we forgot to put you on the schedule." They said they could squeeze us in the next day. Fine.

Friday morning the installers actually show up. Yippee! By the end of the day the carpet is down and I feel like finally the ordeal is over...And then we notice some problems. David comes home and says, "Look at this, there is a gap between the carpet and the wall on the stairs." Upon closer inspection, we also find a "bubble" under the carpet downstairs and a piece of carpet hanging off where the carpet meets the concrete floor of the laundry room. I feel like I've been had. That the installers slacked off because I was a woman and the only one home when the did the second installation. Or, at the very best the rushed the job because they were trying to squeeze us in that day.

I called Home Depot again to schedule a repair. At this point Michelle and I are on a first name basis. The manager on duty offers us a $100 refund. We are grateful, but honestly would rather just have had our carpet installed without all the hassle (plus, $100 is about 3% of what we paid).

Three weeks later (our garage still filled with most of our belongings), the carpet repair guy is scheduled to come out and fix the issues. This time David stays home. They call at 9am to say the guy will be there between 2 and 5. He arrives at 5:40. He can fix the bubble, but will have to order new carpet for the stairs and the carpet is hanging off in the laundry room because the first set of guys installed it on a broken tack strip (seemingly confirming my suspicions).

That's where we are now. We've had to miss five days of work. The process has dragged on for a month. While Home Depot had been sympathetic (or at least pretended to be, which is fine. Sometimes you just want somebody to listen), the installation company has been a nightmare to work with. They've given us the impression that they have a contract with Home Depot (the goose that lays the golden egg) and they don't care about individual customers. I'm intentionally not using the name of the installation company. From what I've learned, the installers Home Depot uses are different in different regions, so yours may be great. For our part, we've learned that while Home Depot is great for buying supplies, don't get sucked in by the seemingly too good to be true installation prices. From now on, we'll pay the extra to have someone we've researched and trust to do the actual installation.

Phew! If you'd made it this far, bless you. I just really needed to vent.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Betwixt Look-a-like?

I recently discovered (or, rather, discovered the name of) beautiful Betwixt fabric. Such a great name and a great fabric, unfortunately it's only sold "to the trade" a good sign that I can't afford it.

(can't remember where this photo came from, but it sparked my love of this pattern)

Imagine my surprise when I was browsing around The Company Store and spotted these ottomans.

$179 each

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ellie: 3 Months


About You: During your second month you discovered your hands! We were having dinner at our favorite pizza place and you kept lifting them up and staring at them. You met my grandma (Grandma Ann) for the first time. You defintely recognize your mama; every time you see me you get all smily and kick your legs. You rolled over! The week before Mommy had to go back to work.You started going to daycare with Ava and mama went back to work. We're still trying to adjust to this. You love to reach up and touch your hair (and you have quite a bit) and you like to suck on your thumb or bottom lip.

About the World: Prince William married Kate Middleton. You decided we should get up at 4 am and watch the royal wedding (this may have been a coincidence, we're not sure). Terrible storms and tornados have swept through the country. Osama bin Laden was killed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dresser Redo

For the girls' room, I had my old childhood dresser refinished.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Ava Graduates

Last night my little Ava walked across the stage and accepted her diploma. From preschool, but still. This was a momentous occassion. Her class sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow and I cried. I could picture so clearly what she'll look like wearing her cap and gown up on stage again in 13 more years.

They asked each kid what they wanted to be when they grew up. Most of the other girls said "princess" or "fairy," Ava said cowgirl, but my favorite was the little boy who said he wanted to be a trick-or-treater. Wouldn't that be the best job?

I love the way four year old minds work. Ava loves trying out new words; when she picks one up she wants to use it all the time. For a while it was "niece," then "accessories," right now it's "compliment." She doesn't quite know what it means. Yesterday in the store she told me she could see my wrinkles (I'm 27!). To which I think I replied, "Ava!" She said: "It's just a compliment." Mmm-hmmm.

She also gets unfamliar words a little confused like in these recent occurences:

To the waitress at the pizza place after ordering bread sticks.
A: "But I don't want any irving."
Me: "You mean herbs?"

In the car on the way home from preschool:
A: "I know what unicorns are."
Me: "You do? What are they?"
A: "Clothes that match.:
Me: ?
A: "Red ones and blue ones and green ones and black ones. Like on the field."
Me: Oh, uniforms!
A: "Yeah, uniforms. That's what I'm talkin' bout."

There's a little boy at school named Landon who's parents I wanted to meet at graduation, but they left before I had a chance. Last week Ava's class had a field trip to see a performance of the play Click Clack Moo. They match up each of the kids with a buddy when the go on field trips, and on this day Ava's buddy was Landon. Unfortunately the play was at a time when the kids are normally taking their nap and my girl needs her sleep. So, on the bus ride home her buddy Landon sat really still so she could sleep on his shoulder. Is that not the sweetest thing? She was really shy about it when she told me (I had asked if she was tired from not having a nap that day).

We gave both of her preschool teachers gifts at her graduation and it's also teacher appreciation week. I found this at our local independent bookstore and thought it would make a great teacher gift.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ellie: Month 2

Length: 22 inches
Weight: 11 pounds, 15 ounces

About You: Your favorite things are blowing bubbles, cooing, and your sissy. You smile so big when you see her. You already know she's someone very important. You've also started making a lot of new noises and try to have conversations with us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where do babies come from?

Ava: "This is my baby sister. I bought her online."

5.25.11 Update:
"I found her in the woods."
"I borrowed her from Kmart." (We don't even live near a Kmart, I don't know where she even heard the name).