Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crafty Schmafty

Have I ever mentioned that I'd love to know how to knit? Or sew? Or quilt? Really, anything crafty I'd love to know how to do. A lot of "mommy blogs" have these lovely projects that the authors put together for their children, or friends' children. My friend Katie, who got me hooked on blogging in the first place, has made my girls two quilts, several hair clips, a blanket I learned how to swaddle Hadley in, and several burp cloths. She also made Hadley a purse with individual pockets to fit crayons in. How cool is that?

And I've tried to learn, really I have. In 8th grade I took a Home Ec. class in hopes to learn how to make a skirt (specifically, a skirt like the ones in Gone with the Wind....I had high aspirations). The look my teacher gave me as I tried to figure out what in the world I was supposed to be doing was the same one all my "teachers" who've tried to teach me something crafty have given me. It's sort of a mix between shock, confusion, shame, and anger. I've seen it from my friend Valerie who tried to teach me how to crochet. I think she spent an insane amount of time redoing the knots I created in a blanket I wanted to make (not just a throw, a blanket). I've seen it from a girl from our church in South Bend who knew she could teach me how to sew. She and I went to JoAnn Fabrics and picked out a pattern for a pillow (I chose the biggest pillow they had). And I've seen it from Helga, a marvelous lady who told the best stories to my two friends and I while we sat around her kitchen table and knitted away. Well, my two friends knitted away. I never got past the "practice yarn." Helga just shook her head and pursed her lips together. "You're not gettin' this," she said. But she still let me come back for her stories.

Anyway, I bring this up because a friend of mine, Mindy, is moving away to Houston next month. I met her and her first son, Aiden, at the library almost three years ago. I met her at the same time I met Erin and her first son, Matthew. Since then, we've gotten together for playdates, Girls' Nights Out, family get togethers, all those kinds of things that come with being parents. Mindy had us over this morning for a birthday party for Aiden (he turns three on Monday), and I wanted to make something for him so he could remember Hadley. But as I've explained, I can't do much with my hands. (You've read that entry about me making brownies, right?) Well, I have decent handwriting, and I've been known to use my communication finger quite effectively. But other than that, crafts for me are disasters.

But I was determined! So I paged through an adorable craft book my parents in-law gave to me. These projects are designed to do with your children, so you'd think I could manage them. And actually, I think I can, too. Except I start reading the directions and I end up calling Jesse at work to ask him if he knows what a "whip stitch" is.

I did find a "make a mobile" project that I thought I could do. The first two directions - draw circles out of cardboard and cut them out; glue pictures on the circles -I accomplished no problem. The third - "Fold two of the circles cut out of the magazines in half and glue them together" I started to get lost on. And the fourth step made me realize that I was in deeper water then I could handle. "Open one side of the pair of circles. Fold a third circle in half and glue one side of it down next to the first folded circle." What? There are three circles now? What first folded circle?

So I improvised. Here's what Hadley and I came up with:

She drew a bunch of pictures and "designs" to be glued on the circles.


I printed out a few pictures of Matthew, Aiden, and Hadley playing together over these past few years.
When Hadley saw the above picture, she said, "There's Ryan, Andrew, and Harper!" Ryan and Andrew are the younger brothers of Aiden and Matthew. And you know Harper, right?

We did a little gluing and cutting:
And here's the finished product:
Looks like it was put together in 5 minutes, right? It took the entire week.

Anyway, we went to a fun little party where the kids played and played.

And we had cake.
Here are a few videos of the girls playing:


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I'm posting this next one because it shows Harper's complete lack of fear of dogs. Harper loves dogs. It's been a big point of contention between she and I.

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The four of us had a great time. Hadley really likes hanging out with Aiden, and I'm sure she'll miss him when he moves away. I might not ever be able to do many crafty things, but hopefully I'm doing an OK job of providing her with experiences where she can make friends and play and laugh a lot. And I can always teach her how to shop. That'll make Jesse proud.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trip to Raleigh

Jesse had some work to do in North Carolina, so the girls and I tagged along with him so we could visit Uncle Geoff and see what's new in Raleigh. Here are a few pictures:

We went to a place for lunch called "The Q Shack." Harper enjoyed munching on a hush puppy.

And if this isn't the face of a budding adolescent, I'm not sure what is.
Hadley's looking over her sweet potatoes and is about to say, "These don't look like the ones we have at home." She did try them, however. They were a little too stringy for her liking. Plus, there was a chocolate chip cookie on the plate so there was really no contest. Hadley would take a bite of her meal, all the while touching the cookie, and looking at me for the OK to devour it.

We went to some great parks as well. This is the first time that I didn't find myself having to go on all the equipment as Hadley to make sure she didn't fall. She has become quite good at climbing, sliding, etc. She still doesn't like the swings, but that's OK. Harper loved the park, too. This was one of the first times she didn't sit in the stroller and watch as Hadley played. It is going to be an interesting spring when I try to take Hadley and Harper out to the park this year.

Geoff showed us around the area, and it is a great city. The downtown is really interesting and had lots of cool looking restaurants and shops. We ate at a brewery one night that had an area that overlooked downtown Raleigh.

In this picture, Uncle Geoff is helping Hadley write a very important text to Aunt Kellee (Kellee's gone from "Uncle Geoff's friend Kellee" to "Uncle Geoff's Kellee" to "soon to be Aunt Kellee" to "Aunt Kellee"). I believe she wrote, "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz." I'm sure Kellee will know what it means.

And Harper likes to play with my wallet, so she was busy doing that.
Yes, it really is Harper - not Kevin Bacon's son.

Hadley realized Harper was playing with a wallet, so she convinced Geoff to let her play with his wallet. Here she is checking out his credit cards. I think Geoff was only a little bit nervous about the potential there.
Fun was had by all - we had a great trip.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Do You Mean Dora Grows Up?

Last night, Hadley was playing Dora the Explorer computer games when she found "The Explorer Girls." She called me over to check it out, and on the screen was a brown eyed girl that looked like Dora's big sister.

"I didn't know Dora had a big sister." I said to Hadley.

"No, Mama. This is Dora when she's older." she told me with a "keep up, old lady" tone.

"Oh." I said.

What? What!?

I looked closer at Older Dora. Her pink shorts were now fitted capris. Her orange tshirt was a trendy looking tunic. Her white sneakers were replaced with flip flops. Her hair was longer and layered. She had earrings. And her backpack was gone.

"Oh." I said again, trying to figure out how in less then a minute things went from, "How do you spell elephant, Mama?" to "Look at Dora's cool earrings!" Is this what we were doing now? Have we walked through this door? Puff, where are you, my friend? Could we meet for a beer later?

I sat next to Hadley and watched as she clicked on the different characters that introduced "The Explorer Girls." All very cute. I think they were trying to help lost puppies or something.

"Where's Boots?" I asked. Boots is Dora's best friend. He's a monkey who wears red boots and helps Dora solve whatever issue needs to be solved.

"I don't know. I don't think he's here." Hadley responded carelessly.

No Boots? He doesn't hang with the Explorer Girls? But he and Dora were best friends! What happened?
I looked around at the toys on the floor from a day's playing. How many days did I have left of playing with puzzles with Hadley? When will she stop singing "The ABCs", and what song will replace it? How much longer will itbe before the mall replaces the zoo as her favorite hang out spot? And why isn't Boots on "The Explorer Girls?"

I could be wrong, but I think a boy named Sam was my first friend. I loved to play with Sam. I don't remember all the things we did together, but I remember enjoying his company. He had a younger brother (who's now a pilot), and Geoff and I played at Rehm Park with Sam and Luke. Or we'd got swimming, or play some crazy made up game that I'm pretty sure Geoff and I convinced Sam and Luke would be great fun (Geoff, is that how snausage was invented?).

Sam and I went to different schools until high school, but as the ways of getting older go, we never reconnected like the days of sandboxes and orange popsicles. I remember once when I think I was a junior in high school my family went over to Sam's house for dinner. We kids stood in the kitchen while our parents were somewhere else in the house. I think Geoff and Luke were chatting for a bit, and Sam and I obliged a laugh here, and a "Yea, I know" there, but I remember both of us being clearly uncomfortable. We were both always quiet, so making small talk was a mild form of torture for us, but I remember feeling sad that the days of simple friendships and big imaginations were over.

And maybe that's just what happened to Boots. It's not that Dora didn't like him anymore, it's just that she didn't know what to do with a purple monkey with red boots. It doesn't make sense anymore. I mean, for Pete's sake, the girl's hair is layered!

I sat next to Hadley with my chin resting on my hand, lost in my own personal Bruce Springsteen song when Hadley clicked onto the other Dora.

"Hi! I'm Dora! And this is Boots!"
"Hola!" Boots says as he jumps in the air and clicks his boots together.

"You gonna do this game now?" I ask Hadley.

"Yea."

"What happened to the Explorer Girls?" I wondered.

"I'm done with them. I wanted to go back to the little Dora." she told me.

"OK. Well, I like little Dora. Plus, Boots is on this one. I like Boots. Don't you?"

"Yea, I like Boots. I like Older Dora, but I like this Dora, too." Hadley said.

"And Boots, right?"

"Yea." she muttered.

Boots, my friend, Puff and I will buy the first round. Sam, if you want to join us, you're welcome. Although, I haven't gotten any better at the small talk.






Saturday, February 13, 2010

Double Date

Last night, Jesse and I took Hadley and Harper out for dinner at Panera and then we went to Romp 'n Roll to run around. But before we went out, I had a couple Valentine's Day games for Hadley (and Harper sort of) to play.
And I made cupcakes!

The first game we played was called "Get the Candy Hearts out of the Bowl with Chopsticks."
Choptsticks were too advanced, so we tried a spoon.

That didn't work either, so we tried another kitchen tool.
That worked a little better.
Harper liked the game, too.
The second was called "Put the Cut Hearts Back Together Again."


That game worked out a little better.

Later on, we went to Panera for dinner.

Harper was more interested in her Dora sticker then she was in eating her dinner.



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And here are a few shots of our time at Romp 'n Roll. It wasn't as busy as I thought it would be considering everyone was inside their homes all week. But everyone there was very friendly and seemed to be as happy as we were to be out of the house.





Here are a couple of videos of the girls playing. Harper's doing her thing, trying her best not to have to walk by herself. And Hadley? Well, Hadley made her Mama proud last night showing what she could do on the dance floor.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

It Can't all be About the Snow

Here's a couple shots of Hadley's toes and fingers with some special accessories on them:

You might look at these pictures and think, "Oh yes, she wants to paint her nails and toenails so she used stickers for pretend." But these are not painted toes and nails. No, no. These are Hadley's "climbing claws."

Roar.

You can imagine the disappointment when Hadley tried to use her climbing claws to climb things like the door to our pantry, or the walls of the playroom. It stinks when one's imagination doesn't pull through.

We've been losing a little sleep over Hadley these last few weeks. I don't mean that in a "I'm really worried about her" type of thing. I mean that Hadley, in her realization that she can get out of bed ANY TIME SHE WANTS has taken to roaming the halls in the middle of the night. Not only that, but she has started to get up when we get up. At 5am. Both of these issues are disturbing.

First, it is just terribly unnerving to be sleeping and to have this strange feeling that you are being watched. You think you're just asleep and having an odd dream, but just for kicks open your eyes and see that yes, you are in fact being watched.

"What's up, Hadley?" I ask her.

She says nothing.

"Do you need something?" I try again.

Nothing.

At this point Jesse gets out of bed, walks her to the bathroom, and then walks her back to the bedroom. This can happen anywhere from 1-3 times at night. It's tiring. Not tiring like the nights when you're doing the "crying it out" routine waiting for a baby to go to sleep. It's more suspenseful tiring.

The getting up at 5am is hard because 1)I would like to believe she needs more sleep, and 2)as selfish as I am for saying this, that is my time. I get up then for me. If Hadley's up that means I need to pour juice, have a conversation about why we always use the potty first thing in the morning, comb her hair, make her breakfast, discuss when we will watch Diego or Mickey Mouse. I don't want to do that at 5am.

So earlier this week, after Hadley got out of bed minutes after we put her in it one night, Jesse lined up three M & Ms on the dining table. He told her that she could have them if she stayed in bed until 7am. He showed her the clock next to her bed and said that when it said 7:00, she could get out of bed, and unless she had to use the bathroom, she isn't supposed to get out of bed in the middle of the night.

So far it's worked. And I feel bad that I've made my daughter follow a rule for chocolate, but we weren't sure what else to do. Of course this makes me analyze how important it is really that I get to have some time to myself before the girls get up. If I were a better person I would welcome the fact that Hadley wanted to hang out at 5am. The days are numbered when I will be the only person she'll want to hang out with.

As for Harper, her new favorite thing to do is color.
It can get a little messy. The other day I walked into the playroom to find the area of floor where Harper was sitting completely coated with marker.

Here's a video of her trying to put the cap on a marker.


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The snow has stopped, and we were able to get outside for a bit today which was nice. We are all looking forward to the Cherry Blossoms, that's for sure.

Monday, February 8, 2010

How's It Snowin'?

That's me trying to be catchy like all the other DC folks around here. We have Snowmaggedon, Snowpacalypse, and my personal favorite, Snowtorious BIG. The area has pretty much shut down since Friday afternoon. Jesse had a four hour early release, lots of stores and churches were closed over the weekend, and the Federal Government was closed Monday. We are supposed to get 10-20 inches Tuesday and Wednesday, so I guess we are getting our winter wonderland in the south.

So it makes it hard to get out in this, but Hadley and I took some time to scope out the situation on Saturday.
Why didn't Harper come with us, you ask? Because this is what she did the last time it snowed:

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I know. What kind of mother tapes her kid screaming on the floor?

Anyway, Hadley and I didn't last too long. She didn't see the point in playing in snow she couldn't move in. It was up to my knees, and I could barely walk in it, so Hadley was pretty much stuck. I showed that you could fall into it and make a snow angel, but being the practical child she is, she thought that was a dumb idea. "Then you get snow all over yourself, Mama. Why would you want to do that?" I don't know, Hadley. The same reason I tape your sister screaming on the floor while she's getting her snowsuit on, I guess.

So we went inside.

And ate Mickey Mouse pancakes.
And we did a lot of playing indoors.
And we did some coloring.
We also did a little writing:


That's "elephant" for those of you who read the traditional way.

And of course, there was the many games of bingo.
Looking at this next picture, you'd think she was betting on her Goofy doll. Such stress!
Here are a few shots of what it looks like around our neighborhood.

We are going to try and get outside a bit tomorrow before the next "storm" hits. I have no perspective whether this is a lot of snow or if it's just that we don't see this kind of weather anymore. This last snowstorm was the worst storm for Maryland in 90 years, so that seems pretty significant.