Monday, August 31, 2009

Celebration Week

The last week of August is a busy one at our house. I turned 32 on August 23; Nora turned 7 on August 29; and Kevin and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary on August 30.

I feel I am a bit old to require a party, but we did celebrate at Sunday barbecue. Nora got an actual party, because 7 is plenty young for that.

She selected this funny panda cake. I baked the cake the night before her birthday, and when I woke up in the morning, I found it had broken into six pieces as it cooled. So I had to run to the grocery store for more supplies so I could bake her a new one. At least I hadn't frosted it yet!

She had her party at a gymnastics studio. Of course, I was too busy running around to take photos. Mother of the year! Mother of the year!

On Friday night, we had dinner with Kevin's parents as well as Jan and Ross, our cousins. Grandma Bev and Grandpa Jerry got Nora an American Girl doll named Elizabeth.

Can you tell how thrilled this little girl is? As soon as we got home, she found a tote full of other doll clothes. She emptied them into a cardboard box and turned it into Elizabeth's dresser. Never mind that she only has the dress she came in and a dress we bought her. Each night, she carefully undresses the doll, folds her clothes, puts them in the tote, and returns Elizabeth to the box she came in. I have never seen her treat anything with such care.

Grandma Inese and Grandpa Don got her a really sweet fleece pea coat to match Daddy's. She really loves to match Daddy, but it's getting trick to match 7 year-old girl clothes to grown man clothes. The coat is hot pink, but it still looks like Daddy's black wool coat. They also got her a couple of outfits for her doll, a messenger bag for school, a bug house... all sorts of good fun. And I won't begin to discuss everything she got from our friends. Nora is one lucky little girl!

Except...she's not. Remember how I said Sophie was here last week? At one point, I was sitting somewhere with Jessica, and Sophie came up and asked her mom, "Where is that really big girl I was playing with?" And she was, of course, referring to Nora, who is really big compared to her. So bittersweet, this growing up business. I can't believe my tiny girl is actually a really big girl.


Our friends came "home" for a visit the week of my birthday. What a treat!

Jessica made the trek with Sophie, who is 9 days younger than Dana, and Tommy, who is about to turn 2. We spent almost every day last week with them, getting as much time as possible together.

Dana, Sophie, Nora and Tommy head down the canal towards the lighthouse. Josie was there, too, but she was hanging with her mama, who also happens to be Sophie and Tommy's auntie.

We had dinner at my sister's house one night, and the kids attempted to pose for some photos. This is one of the best shots.

This is what most of the photos look like.

We tried to coerce some with the mamas and kids, but not everybody was up for it. It was getting rather late.

Our friends flew home to New Hampshire early Saturday morning, and we already miss them. Nora has told me every single day how much she wishes they lived here. She doesn't understand why anyone would bother living in New Hampshire.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making Jam

It has been a bumper crop of raspberries this year!

At the end of July, Kevin's parents picked us 30 pints of raspberries from Auntie Linda's patch. I froze most them, but we also ate many fresh, did a bit of baking, and made jam.

I thought this would be the end of raspberries, but my mom and dad's raspberry patch is in super production mode, too!

I did some more baking, of course, including things I didn't post about (oh, the horrors!), but I have also been making MORE JAM!

And I have been getting some assistance from my sidekicks:

Dana got a bit vigorous with the potato masher and eventually required a respite.

Nora did a most excellent job and enjoyed mashing berries as much as I do. The only hard part about making this jam was giving up the berry mashing job. Because I think that part is really fun.

I have lost track of how many jars of raspberry jam we made, but I think the answer is 19. Wow, huh?

I picked another big bowl today, but I plan to just eat the berries in yogurt and on cereal for a change.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Last week, it was hot every single day. We spent many days in the pool at Grandma and Grandpa's house, trying to stay cool.

Somewhere in that time, Nora taught herself a little trick:

We are incredibly impressed-most of us grownups have never attempted this before, and here little Nora is, flipping her way through life like it's no big deal.

Meanwhile, Dana and Taylor (Sam and Liz's niece) worked on perfecting the Twist Jump, which they invented. Dana jumps immediately-I caught her mid twist-so watch closely!

It's 60 degrees right now, which is too cool to swim. Hopefully it will warm up again soon so we can practice new tricks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Biking + Nora's Photo Shoot

The girls spend hours every day riding their bikes. They go up and down the driveway, around the garage, next door (with a grown up, of course).

Kevin snapped this cute photo the other morning. I remember the days of getting a "buck" from a friend.

The other night, Nora asked if she could borrow the camera to take photos of her doll in different hats. These photos are so funny!

It's a Cabbage Patch Kid modeling Bitty Baby clothes. Nora's a pretty good photographer!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Girl Time

Yesterday I brought the girls to get their hair cut. Kim, the girl who cuts their hair, has a baby due next week and I figure this is their last chance for a cut for a while.

The reason this is all newsworthy is that it was the first time they had their hair washed at the salon, and oh, did they love it!

Nora was uneasy at first. She wasn't sure what it would feel like, and she doesn't particularly enjoy having her hair washed at home. However, if you see that smile on her face, you will know that she thought it was just fine.

Dana thought it tickled, so she switched between very serious and giggly. I never managed to catch "giggly" on film.

Nora just had a trim. Dana: I had Kim cut off quite a bit of length. Like inches.

Dana had beautiful, waist-length wavy hair that she absolutely hated to have brushed. She would spit nails at me whenever she saw me approaching with the hairbrush. And she has so MUCH hair! It is really fine so it tangles easily. The combination of really fine + really long + really thick was a recipe for disaster. So until she learns to brush her own hair, until I don't have to fight her twice a day, she's keeping it a more reasonable length. Which is pictured above.

Yes, it is still longish. The day I made the appointment, I was in the middle of a hairbrushing experience with her and I said, "Dana, should we get your hair cut shorter so we don't have to fight like this all the time?" And she said, "Yeah! Let's cut it short like Daddy's!" Which made my jaw drop. While I am tired of washing paint, oatmeal and yogurt out of her hair every night, I am not ready to shear her like a little lamb. Shoulder length should work better for us. And she still gets to wear ponies if she wants to. And I won't wish for a shot of hard liquor every time she gets out of the tub and again every morning when I am trying to detangle those unruly tresses.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dana LOVES Raspberries!

Monday night was knit night, so I was out kind of late.

When I got home, I checked on the girls like I do every night. Their room was really warm so they were both sleeping in their unders. When I pulled back Dana's blankets to reposition them, this is what I found:

Daddy tells me that the girls fell asleep in our bed and he transferred them to their own beds in the dark. Apparently Little D sneaked a pint of berries upstairs and sat it on her bed.

Luckily most of it came out in the laundry.

The L.L. Smith

Last week, my mom took me and three of the kids on the L.L. Smith, a research boat operated by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant.

Last year, my mom took me, Nora, Keenan and Zak and our boat departed from Barker's Island in Superior. This year, she took me, Nora, Keenan and Adrea and we departed from Two Harbors. Here, you can see the kids in the foreground and the L.L. Smith docked at the breakwater.

The captain took us to a depth of 300 feet. At that point, the research folks brought up water and soil samples for us to study. Here, the kids check out the soil from the bottom of Lake Superior. It was really muddy!

This was, by far, the favorite activity. The kids call it "fishing." The pans have water samples in them, and the kids use eye droppers and tweezers to grab samples, which they transfer to petri dishes.

Then they take the petri dishes into the lab and place them under the microscope. They had so much fun watching the teeny tiny wormy creatures and clams.

I just love these shots of the kids looking into the microscopes. They were fascinated!

Knife Island was completely covered in gulls and cormorants.

It was a great day out on the lake, despite strange weather that changed every few minutes from hot to cold, from rainy to sunny.