Monday, July 31, 2006

Bead break

Between Spencer's camp and the kids' swim lessons in the evening we found a small space of time for a little crafting. The kids decided on putting beads on pipe cleaners. Evie made something glittery and colorful and wanted to make a cross necklace "for God." We see her grandmother's influence there. :) Then she ended up throwing things around and getting sent away to cool off for a little bit.

Spencer, meanwhile, carefully constructed a black and white pattern on a white stem. He says it's part of a checkered flag he's working on. His creativity these last few months has really blossomed. He uses more intention in his crafts than he used to.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Play-Doh doesn't dry anymore

With the heat and the humidity I've noticed that the Play-Doh that gets left on the table on the deck doesn't dry all day. And the crumbles that don't get cleaned up right away are just brightly colored mush in the morning. We have a covered deck, so that probably helps. So if you're one of those people who stresses about the Play-Doh drying out like me, consider that this heat wave is giving you a gift--one less thing to stress about! Stay cool.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

County Fair

We went to the county fair tonight on the last day. The scheduling wasn't great because all the animals were gone and we spent a fortune on rides, but the kids had a great time despite the heat. Naturally we stayed too long and they were both crying at the slightest thing by the time we got to the car.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Total exhaustion

The kids have been up and down at night all week and I've finally hit my wall. Luckily Evie had camp in the morning and Spencer and I went to a friend's house during that time. In the afternoon our sitter came over for a couple of hours and I napped. I felt human again, enough to make dinner and let the kids watch a short TV show.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Potty talk

This is going to fall under the "too much information" category for some of you, but we have had some potty success this week! I think Evie's finally got it. She's worn underwear to camp this week and used the potty for all the usual stuff plus POOP! Yes, I know you're as thrilled as I am. Just think - one less stinky diaper walking around Target the next time you're shopping. Now you're as pleased as I am, aren't you?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SpongeBob saves the day

First, I want to say that my kids don't watch SpongeBob at home. In fact, until today, they'd never seen the cartoon. But that has all changed now that the kids' dentist has put TVs on his ceiling.

Second, I want to say that a typical visit at the dentist for us goes like this: Spencer runs around the office screaming about how he doesn't want to get in the chair while Alan chases him down and I yell something to the effect of, "get in that chair this instant!" During this mayhem Evie clings to me like a sloth baby. We wrestle Spencer into the chair and hold him down while the dentist pries his mouth open. Evie cries during her exam. I must add that their dentist is a very cool and nice guy. He doesn't deserve this.

But now? Silence. Compliance. Even, dare I say it, ENJOYMENT. Evie was upset at first but then Dora came on and all was right with the world.

My advice: find a dentist with TVs on the ceiling. They'll offer to change the channel to whatever you like, but if the kids are happy let them enjoy the brain candy that it is in exchange for a good dental visit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another Happy Camper

Today was Evie's first day at the YMCA camp. Drop off was traumatic. She cried and clung to me. It was so hard. One of the counselors found a slug and Evie finally seemed interested in that, so Spencer and I took off while she was engaged. She was mopey for awhile until they went swimming, and then she was fine. Each kid made a bug house to take home.

Unfortunately, Evie is definitely sick. For awhile I thought it was allergies, but it's clear that she has a cold. She's tired and clingy and isn't sure what to do to make herself comfortable. I'm just hoping she's well enough to go to camp on Thursday and Friday this week so we don't lose momentum.

The floor is in!

Alan and his Dad got the floor finished today. Yippee! It looks great. Now the rest of the house looks shabby and gross. Oh well. Spencer spent the time helping as best he could. He's convinced that the guys couldn't have figured it out without him. Nevermind that he took several breaks during the boring talking parts.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Carrot harvest

Today's big excitement came right off the bat when we picked our carrots this morning. We learned a good lesson about why we thin the seedlings, as there were several carrots bunched near each other that didn't grow very well. We did have several large ones. We had to leave the bag of carrots outside though, since there are lots of caterpillars on them from the neighboring cauliflower plants. We'll clean them up later this afternoon.

The rest of the day involved a brief Spanish class, lots of time at the preschool playground, lunch, and a grocery run. Very pedestrian. Evie has a bit of runny nose and I'm concerned that she's coming down with a cold. Tomorrow is her first day of camp at the Y and it would be a real shame if she couldn't go, not to mention a waste of money.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Home improvement day

Today was a home improvement day. I started staining the fence and ran out of stain about a third of the way through the job. A trip to the hardware store wasn't in my day though, since Alan's Dad came over to help install the laminate in Spencer's new room. That's also about a third of the way finished due to some tricky angles in the room (if I ever build a house it will be nothing but rectangles). Alan also managed to mow the lawn tonight. He got it completely finished. Yeah!

As for me, I was a grump all day. My allergies are driving me nuts again. Either that or I have another cold. I am just not a good mommy when I feel yucky. I know I need to grow up and cope, but that's hard to do when every 30 seconds I have to raid the tissue box again. Anyway, I'm hoping for an easier tomorrow.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bare floors are beautiful

It would be great if this was a post about how the whole house was miraculously clean again and we could see the bare floors, but alas, it isn't. Instead, it's about how our morning was spent tearing out the carpet and padding in Spencer's new room (Evie's old room). Actually, it was Alan, his Dad, and Spencer who did the work. Spencer ran most of the pieces out to my FIL's truck. So even though my house isn't clean this is a positive post. It means we are one step closer to spreading out the kids' stuff from one bedroom to two. It'll look neater that way, right?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Children's Museum

Today was our latest big trip to Indy to go to the Children's Museum. This place is awesome, and huge. It just isn't possible to do the whole thing in one day with small children.

As an adult, I really liked the new Dale Chihuly sculpture that extends from the ground level all the way up to the 4th level ceiling. If you've never seen anything Chihuly you should check out a video from your library. I tried to take some pictures of it but it's just too large to get the whole thing. So here's a photo of what I could get plus part of the exhibit directly underneath. There's also a glass "garden" exhibit which was mostly enjoyable by the adults. Spencer loved building his own sculpture with plastic pieces and Evie took a rest with Alan on the rotating observation couch.

The kids were mostly impressed with the Bob the Builder and Sesame Street exhibits. At Bob the Builder they spent their time at a water pump that used blue balls instead of water. It was just plain fun. On Sesame Street they liked the phone that played different voice mail messages from the characters, Big Bird's nest where they read books, and the stoop where we took a picture.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dessert disaster averted

Last night, in a fit of frustration over kids who would not eat a bite of dinner and looking for a bribe, I found a box of instant chocolate pudding hidden in the cupboard. Gleefully, I mixed it up with chocolate soy milk, knowing that they would eat sawdust if it meant they could have dessert. After pouring 8 little cups of pudding (this was a big box) I remembered that instant pudding won't do its pudding magic with anything but animal milk. DRAT! Just as I was about to dump all my carefully poured little cups down the drain I remembered the popsicle molds that were being ignored in the plastics cabinet. Hurray! Salvation!

OK, yes, I realize that this is a dessert almost as old as instant pudding, but I was quick on my feet and oh, so smart all in one second! The kids ended up eating toast right before bed since they never ate any dinner and were hungry, but they loved the pudding pops after lunch today. Now I have to figure out a way to contain the mess. Body bibs, anyone?

Caterpillar heaven

Today we saw two different kinds of caterpillars munching on the cauliflower plants. We saw a small white kind with black stripes and medium green ones that matched the leaves and were pretty much everywhere. This explains why we have more holes than leaves on the cauliflowers, and probably why we saw butterflies or moths on the carrots (which are next to the cauliflower). The kids were upset that I am going to let the caterpillars stay, but really, how much cauliflower can one mom eat? It's not like anyone else will touch it. And if we don't get any at least we got a free science lesson. We'll have to remember to check them every day for awhile.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another low-key day

The kids got to play on a playground in the shade for a little bit before and after Spencer's Spanish class, but that was it for outdoor time until later in the afternoon. In there we had a trip to the co-op, lunch, cleanup, a video, and a trip to the Y (didn't make it yesterday). They got back outside to play on the deck with Play-Doh and ice in the water table and then they amused themselves reading books while I cleaned up after dinner. Now it's off to a sweltering outdoor concert to celebrate my MIL's birthday. The heat index is 99 degrees as I write this. Ugh!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The great outdoors, for a brief time

We spent a brief part of the morning outside. It was hot, but the kids were able to play in the shade. It's a good thing, too. We got to see butterflies (or maybe they were moths) resting on the carrots and cauliflower. We also were able to see some of the flowers that had just opened on our one and only stargazer lily out front. The inside of one flower was still damp from being closed.

As I write this the rest of our day is planned as follows: spend some time staying cool in the library and then maybe go to the YMCA for a workout. Spencer's been asking to hang out at child care and in the afternoon they pretty much have it to themselves.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heat wave

Everyone's having a heat wave right now. Since I have a cold I'm finding it extra hard to be motivated to entertain the kids inside. Today we went to their Spanish class, played at their nursery school's playground, ate lunch at home, goofed off, and then spent a good part of the afternoon at the bookstore.

Pole Bean Tipi

This is our pole bean tipi. It's hard to tell from the photo, but one side is open so it's a little hideaway for the kiddos. The flowers on it are pretty, but the really cool thing is that there are HUGE bean pods growing on it. Some of them are dangling inside the tipi, which is really fun for the kids. This was super easy and I would highly recommend trying it if you have any space in your yard at all.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Summer cold

I have caught a summer cold. After surviving the remainer of the day with the kids, Alan took over and I've been resting since. The kids went with Alan's parents for the afternoon so I cleaned the kitchen, but other than that I've been taking it easy. I feel better already.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Today was the annual Bubblefest, when Wonderlab sets up the local ice rink as a big bubble laboratory. There are tables with all sorts of bubble activities, including a place where volunteers can put you in a big bubble. We never stay for long because it's a little hard for the little ones to understand what you're supposed to do, but this year Spencer tried to do some of the activities. It's a lot of fun and will be even more fun when the kids are a little older.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Hand Book

Evie got several arts and crafts things for her birthday and today she wanted to do what she calls her "hand book." (This is a book from the Klutz people, Chicken Socks, or something like that.) So, after dropping Spencer off, taking a walk, and folding some towels, we set up the book at the table on the deck. With my help she had a happy time tracing her hand and following the ideas in her book. Mostly she just wanted to glue on the pompoms and googly eyes. The rest of our girl time was spent eating lunch, doing more hand drawing, and playing with Play Doh.

Queen Anne's Lace

The few remaining empty lots in our neighborhood have become a haven for wildflowers this time of year, particularly Queen Anne's Lace. Evie has become particularly enchanted with them, perhaps because they're easy to recognize. On one of our walks this week we clipped a few flowers off, including one with pink edges, some that had the dark center, and some that didn't. She enjoyed arranging them into a vase for the table and now we're all enjoying the flowers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I'm way behind on the digital revolution here, but I've just fallen in love with podcasts! I have a very small (128MB) MP3 player that Alan was wise enough to get for me a few years ago, but I really hadn't put it to regular use until this week. Alan and I listened to the podcast for the season finale of Battlestar Galactica during the show (the best show on television - really, I'm not kidding, even if you don't like sci fi) and it was fun. And then, Knitty had an article in it on podcasts for knitters. I downloaded a few and WHOA! This is so cool! Am I the last person on earth to know about this? Probably. Anyway, now I'm working through a bunch of knitting podcasts when I have the time to listen but not knit. So fun! I'm going to need a memory card for my MP3 player, though.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Final word on the bird

I walked out on the deck to find a little bird staring at me. Quite startling. My first thought was that those baby birds were finally old enough to leave the nest. Unfortunately, the nest was on the ground, empty. This particular bird couldn't fly more than a few feet, but it didn't seem to be suffering. Hopefully it's able to feed itself now. I didn't see the others, but they could have scooted under the fence or been hiding. As long as we don't find any baby bird leftovers from some predator, I'll be happy. Now what to do with the nest? Is it ok to let kids touch it? Or is it hazardous? I have no clue.

At least it didn't blow up

Our water heater pilot light went out (again) sometime yesterday. Alan is out of town, and I wasn't sure what to do to get it lit. I called him and left a message. I text messaged him. I e-mailed him. I made a nuisance of myself. He's in Seattle, so when Spencer woke me up at 1am I checked my e-mail. Alan's e-mail said to call, so I did. After much patience on his part and frustration on mine, the water heater is back in service. Alan makes a much better plumber than I do, even at a distance!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Happy Camper #1

Maybe I should've titled this "How I Survived Spencer's First Day at Camp." Today was Spencer's first real day camp experience. At 5 hours long, it was the longest he's been out of the care of a family member. Certainly the longest he's been without my food supervision. He had a great time, befriending an autistic camper, swimming, playing, and running around. Some of the campers had peanut products in their lunches so he had to eat separately, but he didn't seem to mind. For the first time he ate the entire lunch I packed him and said he needed more food. I'm so proud of him. And me, for not spying on him the whole time.

Evie had fun with just Mom and has already started thinking about what she wants to do the rest of the week. Yeah for all of us!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Only 3 birds left

A few days ago the nest fell out of the tree again and we're down to 3 birds from 4. Luckily, the kids didn't notice that there was a bird missing. We're starting to wonder if it might be better to let the nest stay down in case nest building skills are hereditary (who wants to condemn future generations of baby birds to suffering due to bad nest building?). But it's hard to be tough-nosed about small, helpless creatures. And bad karma too, probably. So Alan and his mom put them back in the tree while I was out. The parents continue to chirp and dive at us whenever we're in the back yard, so I'm hoping the chicks grow up fast.

More religion than you can stand

Alan went off on a business trip this morning, so it was up to me to figure out what to do with two grumpy children who hadn't had enough sleep. The solution? Conveniently, today was the Dalai Lama's birthday. The Tibetan Cultural Center ( was celebrating His Holiness' years and they were throwing a party for everyone. It wasn't terribly exciting, especially since the last time I was at the center the Dalai Lama was actually there, but there was lots of color and some activities. Spencer walked everywhere and wanted to see everything. He liked the chorten and the yurts that had been set up. Evie mostly let me carry her, the poor thing was so tired.

But is immersion in one religion really ever enough? Nah. So after a quick break at home I piled everyone in the car for the late afternoon mass at St. Paul's.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Noses don't make good concrete cleaners

Yesterday on the way to swim class Evie tripped and wiped the sidewalk with her face. She scraped up her nose and upper lip. While it's no where as bad as Spencer's face destruction last fall it really threw her for a loop. She was sad the rest of the afternoon and evening. I think Spencer was even more upset at the time than she was. But today she's back to her regular self. Isn't it great how quickly kids get over things? It would be nice if I could be more like that!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Free Public Transportation

Today was the monthly free bus transportation day in our fair city, so the kids and I hopped on a bus down to IU's campus. The main point of the trip was to ride on the bus, not the destination, and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We studied the route map, picked the route, and got a timetable. We had a snack when we got off the bus and wandered around the music school. Oddly, they also enjoyed waiting for the bus to take us back. They pretended all the cars passing us at the bus stop were part of a race and gave each one a backstory and a team. On the way home Spencer got to pull the stop request cable. All in all, a fun morning spent checking out the bus system.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fireworks art

Since this is the week of Independence Day, our weekly theme is loosely Red, White, and Blue. Today we tried some art I saw in a magazine. Drop some paint on paper and blow it around with a straw to make it look like fireworks. We didn't get any fireworks - mostly blobs - but the kids did get a kick out of the glitter glue I brought out. We also tried dabbing with spikey balls to create fireworks, but that didn't work well either. By the end of it they were both happily covered in purple-y, glittery paint up to their elbows and looking forward to cleaning up at the hose.

The good, the bad, and the annoying at the Y

My son has food allergies and he's about to go to his first YMCA summer camp experience. It's a day camp, but it's 5 hours long each day - longer than he's ever been out of my food monitoring control. We have to carry EpiPens around with him wherever he goes, so I was a little nervous about camp. Yesterday I met with the camp director and head counselor and WOW was I impressed. They were so considerate and willing to do whatever it takes to keep Spencer safe. I never once felt like the horrible food watchdog I sometimes seem to be in other situations. But...

While I was meeting with the two wonderful camp organizers, my kids were in swim lessons downstairs. They've been to Y swimming lessons before and begged me to sign them up again. Spencer decided that he's too frustrated learning something new and his new teacher wasn't very flexible in figuring out a way to encourage him, so Spencer sat on the deck the whole class. That doesn't bother me so much (it was Spencer's choice not to swim, after all) as the "talking to" I got when I picked him up. Apparently, they tried to page me because he was distracting and they were concerned about safety. This is certainly legitimate. But I had told them I was meeting with the camp director if they needed me. I guess the paging system doesn't cover the staff offices, but according to the woman who disciplined me I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. Huh? And anyway, parents aren't even allowed to stay for the swim lessons because the kids behave better when the parents aren't there, so I was just doing what they told me was best. So, while I want to cooperate so that swim lessons can be safe for all the students, I am a tad frustrated and angry at the way Spencer and I were treated. Luckily, Evie had a fantastic lesson.

So, part of me says Spencer should at least attend because he wanted to and we spent the money, but another part of me says to heck with these people who clearly don't want to work with anyone but the most agreeable children. At our last round of lessons the teachers were just incredibly awesome, but they all seem to have gone on summer break. I'm disappointed. Since the aquatics director is Spencer's teacher this time, I don't really have anyone to complain to.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

USGP is over

Michael Schumacher won again. Go Ferrari! It was fun. Evie and I got to sit in the shady seats, so even the mid 90 degree temperature was bearable. She enjoyed it but said she didn't like the noisy parts (that would be all the voices on the speaker in front of us and the race cars as they went past). She announced that while watching race cars was too loud, she'd be happy to drive one. So confident. Spencer and Alan, who sat in the hot seats in the sun, also enjoyed themselves, though Spencer was very upset that Fernando Alonso didn't place higher than 5th.

Down the row from us was a woman knitting continental style. I was curious and wanted to ask her what she was knitting, but with our ear protection on I couldn't have heard her response. My own knitting bag was lonely back at the car, left behind while I carried the diaper bag around.

Here's a memo to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway parking people: If you aren't going to allow people to leave the parking lots immediately after an event, let them know it up front. We waited in the car for an hour before I asked the nice officer at the exit what was going on. He explained that he wasn't allowed to let us out until the traffic cleared. They only had lanes on one side of the street open. We ended up going back to the Speedway to walk around instead of melting in the car. We didn't get to leave until 2 1/2 hours after the end of the race. Shame on you, IMS. We never would have walked to the car with zillions of other people if we had known we wouldn't be allowed to leave. We could have stayed and spent more money while we waited for the traffic to clear. Your loss.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The great baby bird rescue

As we were playing outside, Evie and I noticed a fallen bird's nest. I went over to inspect it. It was empty and I didn't see anything around, so I told Evie we could walk over and look at it. Just as we walked up, four baby bird heads popped out of the grass looking for food. Now, I've always heard that if you touch a baby bird or move its nest the parents won't come back to feed it. Last year our deck builders had to move a bird's nest that was under our old deck. They built a little shelf under the new deck and put the nest back as soon as the work was done. The owner of the company said they have to do this all the time and most of the time the parents come back. Those baby birds thrived and flew away eventually. So, protecting this new bunch from my germs with a plastic baggie on my hand, I placed the four birds back in their nest and put the nest back in the tree in what I hoped was a safe spot. They were so fragile and they kept opening their mouths for food. Not two minutes after we walked away, a robin came to the nest and starting feeding the babies!