Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Dresses 2011

Last fall I oh-so-sensibly bought some deeply discounted seersucker that JoAnn’s was clearing out for the season, fully intending to make Easter dresses out of it.  I had even started cutting out pattern pieces and working on the dresses when sometime around the last weekend in March I was wandering around the fabric store with my mother-in-law and stumbled across a bolt of bright flowers on a black background and fell in love with it.  I finally decided to be utterly impractical and completely change my plans for Easter dresses, figuring that between the fabric being on sale and using one of the 10%-off-total purchase coupons it was almost as good a deal as last-season’s seersucker.

Of course, while I was able to convince myself the wallet issue would be ok, I hadn't fully considered the calendering angle.  Less than a month until Easter and back at the drawing board made for some frantic sewing right up until this past Saturday.  Thankfully I had a really cute vintage-y pattern for infants that I’d been waiting for an excuse to use and that provided the inspiration for everything else to come together.  The baby pattern had scallops where a contrast-colored yoke met the dress, ruffly sleeves,  and some neat details like piping and embroidery.  I finally decided to try and incorporate similar details while working on the big girls’ dresses, hopefully making three completely different outfits that still all related well to each other.  (Our first attempt at not completely matchy-matchy-matchy Easter out: the universe might be imploding :)  I also bought some floral stems and made coordinating hair bows.  Here’s how it all turned out:






And one last picture for fun.  A decent family picture has become the holy grail for us: we just can’t seem to get one no matter what we try!  I really thought this might be it though: new Easter dresses, the Weatherbee’s nice front porch to sit on, beautiful weather, family to help take the picture and keep the girls smiling…finally!  It was going to happen!

Or not.  Maybe the Weatherbees got a better shot on their camera.  This was the best of the ones on ours and all I can think is what the heck is wrong with our children????!!??  (And what chance do we even stand against a crowd like that???!)  Sigh…maybe next year will be our year.


A Little Bit of Bunny Business

Bryan had business in Bethesda this week, so we decided to make a family trip of it and spend Easter with his folks in Maryland.  Besides bouncing off the walls at grandma’s enjoying some traditional Easter activities, our little bunnies also got to have lots of fun exploring DC.


The weather was gorgeous!  As we drove towards Maryland it felt like we were literally watching winter melt into spring as gray branches gave way to green buds and bright patches of tulips and daffodils started popping up everywhere.  Robyn loved all the flowers around the museums in DC.


Not only were there flowers outside the museums: we even managed to find some flowers IN the museums.  Amber looked so cute sitting with some of the orchids on display in the museum of natural history that we had to snap a picture. 

The dinosaurs at the museum of natural history were also a hit as was the dollhouse at the museum of American history.



The girls’ very favorite part of going to DC, though, was riding the Metro there.  They love trains!  (Mommy on the other hand, watched both Unstoppable and Source Code within the past week and is now a little leary of them.  Thankfully our trip did not involve any runaway trains or massive explosions…)


Back at Grandma’s house, the girls were all-ears when it came to an all-Easter weekend.  

I almost laughed myself silly when I saw this picture.  I'd actually seen these glasses before in a picture, though, several years ago.  Much to his mother's consternation I'm sure, the very fist picture Bryan ever showed me of his mom was of her wearing the pink ones after Bryan's mission.  Kids, if you're reading this someday, *I* will be picking out the pictures you are allowed to use to introduce me as your mother.  Thank you. 
 We went to a little community egg hunt, dyed hard-boiled eggs with Grandma and Grandpa, and played like crazy outside.  (The girls found eggs in the backyard; Mommy and Daddy got to find hidden IBC cream sodas in the front yard.  Thanks, Carrie!)   Grandma also put together a delicious Easter feast and we gorged ourselves on ham from the Dutch market and yummy homemade frog-eyed salad.  Here are (probably too many) pictures of our Easter-y adventures:
Coloring eggs with Grandma and Grandpa.
Didn't they turn out pretty?

When Bryan saw Amber this morning, his first comment was, "The 60's called...they want their toddler back."  *I* think she looks adorable.

One of the main attractions at Grandma's was the yard full of sunny dandelions.  Grandpa Gordon raises bees and apparently dandelions are one of the first flowers for the poor bees to visit in the spring, so these dandelions are actually welcome--at least for now--in their yard.  Those bees had some tough competition from Robyn and Amber though: they collected fistful after fistful this week!
Katie's favorite part of Easter?  Forget the candy: it's all about the plastic eggs and funky paper grass!
Grandpa Gordon also got out his kites for the girls to play with and Carrie surprised us with some other fun rocket/plane things to shoot in the air.  The person who accidentally shot Grandma in the face with one of those, nearly maiming her for life, shall remain nameless.  (Bryan.  It was ALL Bryan. :)
Isn't this a fun idea?  Carrie set a beautiful table for Easter dinner, including the eggs that we dyed the day before in the decorating. 
Bunny cakes for dessert.  (Well, for one of the desserts...what a spread!)  And I just confirmed with my Mom that growing up when she made these cakes she covered them with colored coconut and NOT cheese like I thought when I was a little girl.  One more messed-up memory officially rooted out.

Thanks for the wonderful week, Carrie and Gordon.  You definitely made certain somebunnies very hoppy!! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Marker Mayhem

Quiet time today went perfectly.  No whining.  No sneaking food upstairs.  No waking up Katie.  No messing up Mommy’s room.  Nope.  All I heard coming from Robyn and Amber’s room was the happy chit-chat of two little girls calmly reading books and coloring pictures on a rainy afternoon.  After a long morning (we had a Primary presidency meeting with TEN children four-years-old and younger at our house), what a relief that the girls were determined to be so good! 

Why do I bother checking on them when ignorance is so much pleasanter?



I wish I had thought to take pictures before the girls were in the bath.  Amber was already clean before I got the camera, but let’s just say there was marker in places no marker should ever be. 

Consequences?   The girls’ beloved art supplies are currently taking a nice long sabbatical on a very high shelf.  And Mommy?  Mommy will try harder to remember these sage words:

“Therefore, wo be unto her that is at ease during quiet time.  Wo be unto her that crieth: All is well.” 

Wo indeed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oh C**post!

Yesterday I had an ingenious idea.  I figured that since the girls and I were going to be out-and-about anyway doing some visiting teaching, we should go pick up some compost.  Sure!  The girls would undoubtedly be excited about the idea of going somewhere to get DIRT and I've been getting antsy to plant spring vegetables: what could be a better way to spend an overcast afternoon than a drive out to the county compost center?

So, out came one of the back seats in the van and in went a shovel and lots of 5 gallon buckets and even an old kitchen garbage can. Bryan would have been willing to help on the weekend (it closes at 4 on weekdays) but there are so many other fun things to do on Saturdays and those seeds aren't going to magically turn into peas and lettuce chilling in a bag on our counter: what could be so hard about getting it myself?  We did it together plenty of times last year afterall.

Admittedly, I did have a little trouble getting there, but that's not unusual for me.  First I got distracted as we waited for a train near the freeway entrance (Look!  It needs two engines to pull it! Wow: so many cars!  Anyone want to count them?  1...2...3...Ooh!  There's a freezer car!) and proceeded to get on the interstate headed the wrong direction.  Well, easy enough fix.  Get off the interstate.  Get on the interstate.  Try again.  (Oh look!  There's the same train.  Let's count them again!  Anyone see the freezer car?)

And then, panic: was it Exit 5 or Route 5 (which is Exit 4)?  Turns out it was Exit 5...Route 5 tries to send you off to a part of town we've never explored before.  OK.  No big deal.  Turn around.  Try again.  Entrance ramp closed?  No worries!  Turn around.  Try again.  (Hey, look!  There's that train again!  How many engines are there?  Should we count the cars?  Do you think that freezer car is hot or cold?) 

Finally, we reached the compost center, and, thankfully, although the clouds were getting heavier, it was still delightfully dry.  This was going to work.  As I filled out the paperwork for our season pass the girls gawked at the giant chocolatey compost piles out the window, pointing out the bulldozers with typical toddler glee and I started wondering if maybe we could even get the seeds in this afternoon before dinner. 

And then I started flipping through my checkbook preparing to pay the $15 fee that would entitle us to all the mulch and compost we could carry away all season long.  No.  No no no.  Did I really write the last check and not notice?  Sigh.  Thankfully at some point one of us left another book of checks in the van which we've gotten in the habit of using as a back-up if we forget the tithing check on Sunday.  A little fishing around and soon I was confidently fanning through duplicates, looking for a blank check once again. 

Huh.  Really?  That can't be right.  Flip through again.   Noooo!  No no no.    Could I really be out of checks in TWO checkbooks on the same afternoon?  With a carload of kids a half-an-hour away from home??  Ugg.

Oh well.  Amazingly, I thought I had seen an ATM for our bank in a small town we'd driven through on our way to the compost center.  Turn around.  Find bank.  Get cash.  Try again.  (Do you hear a train in the background?)  Smile cheerfully at the compost warden in hopes that he won't think the crazy lady with the minivan is too unstable to let in.

Finally.  With a happy sigh I backed up into a spot.  Sure, it's taken a little longer than planned, but there still might be time to get things in the garden before Bryan comes home.  I opened the hatch, pulled out my buckets...and suddenly felt cold splashes on my arms.

And that is how I found myself shoveling rotted yardwaste in the rain, dripping wet, with three cranky kids calling from the van over and over, "can we go home yet?" 

Oh c**post.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Notable Weekend

This weekend was the Church’s General Conference—a two-day long opportunity to hear from church leaders, including the prophet and apostles.  One of my favorite talks was from Elder Richard G. Scott who mentioned, among other things, that life’s “supernal joys” come from children and families.  After a week that seemed more mundane than supernal, it was a great reminder that even when husbands are traveling and studying, kids are smuggling cheese from the fridge and squirting each other with bleach, and babies are deciding that sleep is sooo last month, things still really couldn’t be better.

pres monson

It was neat this year that the big girls were starting to get into Conference too.  They each had their own notebooks so they could take “notes” like the grown-ups.  Admittedly, my own notes have deteriorated somewhat each time our family has grown (at this point there just aren’t enough laps to go around!), but at least the girls got some good pictures in.  I especially liked Robyn’s drawing of President Monson:


Not bad, eh?

The Follow-the-Prophet-fun even extended into bath time.  Robyn and Amber decided to act out a rousing version of Noah’s Ark ala Disney Princesses after the Saturday sessions.  (Hint: Belle is Noah and the other princesses are his family.  Except for Snow White.  She’s apparently President Monson.) 


Finally, here’s a glimpse at one of our Conference weekend treats.  We enjoyed a giant German Pancake for breakfast on Sunday.  It may have looked funky, but it was delicious!  There are definitely perks to having a Sunday where “church” doesn’t start until noon!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Means Maple


For the third year running we drove to Critz Farms for one of their big maple weekends.  This time we were lucky enough to have Bryan’s folks join us for all the sticky fun.



The best part of the trip is always the big all-you-can-eat breakfast with all-the-real-maple-syrup-you-can-pour.  We almost certainly eat our price of admission in syrup alone!


Even though we were right next to the giant wood-burning stove, the girls wanted to wear their coats while we ate.  It was COLD!  Last year the sap wasn’t flowing because of an unusually warm spring.  This time around they hadn’t had a sap run for nearly a week because the temperatures hadn’t gotten above freezing. 


While we were there we also made friends with the newest member of the Strawberry Shortcake gang: Baby Blueberry Bottom. 


This sign was posted near where the tractor picked people up for tours of the sugar bush.  We may or may not have returned with all of our children at the end of the excursion. 

It was so cold on the tractor ride we somehow forgot to take any pictures.  It’s always neat to see the forest full of maples with tubing running every which way, so maybe next year we’ll get some good photos to share. 


Finally, we wrapped up the day with a little birthday celebration for Grandpa Gordon, including a cake made with, what else, maple frosting.