Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Our friend Ayla is really into theater. She is always singing show tunes and dancing, and is frequently in costume. Last year, when she turned 4, she had a Peter Pan birthday party, complete with a special visit from Captain Hook.

This year, the theme was the Wizard of Oz.

As I was washing my hair one morning last week, I was thinking about the upcoming party and what kind of bag to sew for Ayla's gift. I knew there was red Fairy Frost fabric at the store, which would be perfect since it's shiny, and I was trying to remember if there was blue and white gingham. I was toying with this idea when it hit me: cupcakes!

I am so happy that Tara, Ayla's mom, accepted my offer to handle the cupcakes. She acted like I was doing her a favor, when really she is the one who was doing me a favor by indulging my cupcake crazy. Do you see the sparkles on the ruby slipper cupcakes?

Callie, Tara's sister, made this amazing rainbow pinata. She is so talented! Ayla looks so cute in her Dorothy costume and purple camo, doesn't she?

And really, what Wizard of Oz birthday party is complete without a visit from the Wicked Witch? Someone pointed out last night that Captain Hook and the Wicked Witch must have the same hairdresser...

I never did make the Dorothy bag. Ayla had fallen for a cherry bag she saw at my Fall Fest table, so I gave that to her instead. But the Dorothy bag is still percolating in my brain.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Very Puzzling

I used to like working on puzzles with the girls. Used to until yesterday, anyway.

Check out what Dana did while I was making lunch yesterday:

She dumped nine puzzles onto the floor and mixed them all together joyously.

She actually blamed it on those dolls you see sitting against the couch. She scolded them many times as we cleaned it all up.

I know it doesn't look like it, but there are 600 puzzle pieces on the floor there: four 25-piece puzzles and five 100-piece puzzles. And two of the 100-piece puzzles have very similar images and sorting them out was the opposite of fun.

We spent about 3 hours putting all of the puzzles together to ensure we had the right pieces in the right containers. Nora got home from school a bit after 3pm and helped with the last two puzzles, the ones that look so similar. Thank goodness for that, or we'd still be working on sorting them out. It is amazing how similar pandas and puppies look when you see them in jigsaw form.

I asked Dana if she learned any lessons from this experience, and she told me she must keep a closer eye on her dolls.

And really, that is the lesson, isn't it?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Show and Tell

Nora has show and tell every Wednesday.

Guess what she decided to bring this week! Do it: guess.

That's right-she brought Dana!

I can't tell you how incredible I think this is. Nora had the idea and sorted it all out with her teacher before talking to me.

It went really well. Nora stood in front of her class and said some things about Dana into the microphone. Then kids raised their hands to ask questions and Nora called on them. Their questions were sweet and funny: "Does she want to do everything you do, like my little brother does?" and "Do you share a bedroom?"

The highlight was when Dana took the microphone and, in her most confident voice, nice and loud, shouted, "BUTTCRACK STAR!"

It is the one and only time I have been relieved that her speech is not always crisp. Nora and I were the only ones who knew what she had said.

Dana loved it, and was especially thrilled when the whole class applauded and thanked her for coming.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here is Nora in her new glasses! Doesn't she look adorable?

One week ago, last Sunday, Nora was playing on the computer and Kevin noticed she was covering one eye. When she took her hand away, that eye was crossed. I have absolutely terrible vision (-1150 in both eyes!), so I figured at least one girl would need glasses at some point. So I called the eye doctor on Monday morning and got her in that afternoon.

We were there for almost 3 hours! She had her eyes dilated, and four different people examined her, including two MDs. They were trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, her eye was wandering. Finally, around 5:45pm, the doctor told us that Nora's eyes are healthy, and she doesn't have cataracts, tumors, damage, or anything else that would cause her eye to wander. Relief! Except that she took a breath and continued to speak. She told us that it meant the problem was behind her eyes. In her brain. She asked who Nora's doctor is, and said she would call the doctor on call to get Nora in for an MRI immediately. She also said she would call the only pediatric eye doctor in town in the morning to get her in with him ASAP.

Needless to say, we left feeling absolutely terrified. We didn't want Nora to be worried, so we didn't tell her anything. We figured there was no point in scaring her when we didn't really know anything yet. Meanwhile, visions of brain tumors, aneurysms, strokes and brain swelling paraded through our worried heads. It was the worst night we have ever spent.

The doctor called at 8:00 Tuesday morning. She said the pediatric doctor is out of the office for a few weeks (!) and she wasn't comfortable waiting that long. So we went back up to the eye clinic, where we spent 3 hours and 4 exams. Finally, MY eye doctor came in and checked Nora out. She did a test nobody else had done, and gave us the best news ever: "I have seen this in kids before. She just has a really bad astigmatism! It's nothing scary at all."

Apparently kids are really good at focusing and can trick eye tests. So astigmatism is hard to diagnose.

Apparently Nora's brain and eyes compensated her bad vision for a long time, but it finally gave up. It stopped paying attention to signals from her bad eye. That's why it started doing its own thing. So we have to patch her good eye whenever she isn't at school. We have to force her brain to pay attention to the bad eye again. Otherwise she might lose vision in it.

Nora had selected fancy purple frames in the waiting room, but the doctor told us she has to wear big, round Harry Potter glasses for a while. Otherwise she will try to peek over the tops of her glasses. The point is to make her look through the center of the lens. Her lens is only half strength while she gets used to it. The full strength lens will go in in mid-October.

I know that was a long story. I figured it was easier to write it all out here than to try to explain it to everyone, one at a time. It's a hard story to tell.

Here's Nora in one of her patches. Our friend Kim gave us 2 of her daughter's patches. Mary wore a patch for 3 years and is all done now, and she had a couple laying around still. They are much better than the stick on, bandage-style that we would have used otherwise.

So far things are going OK. She doesn't want to wear the patch-it's hard to see out of her one bad eye. We are hoping that gets better when they put in the full-strength lens. Some kids only need to be patched for a few weeks, and we keep reminding her of this. She also knows she can earn the right to wear the purple glasses if she wears her glasses all the time and keeps the patch on when she isn't at school.

The doctor also said there's a chance she won't have to wear glasses forever. We might be able to fix this vision problem simply by strengthening her eye muscles. Keep your fingers crossed!

First Day of Second Grade

School is back in session!

Did you know that I am secretary of the PTA this year? Well, I am. And the PTA sponsored a parent social on the first day of school, primarily for kindergarten parents and parents new to the school. Since I had to be there anyway, I drove Nora to school the first day. So here she is, posing outside the school doors. She was thrilled to go back-she was just facing the sun and was very squinty.

After we got home, Dana and I baked cupcakes to celebrate Nora's first day back. Nora loves cupcakes even more than I do, if you can believe that!

Here are Kevin and Dana, waiting for the bus to drop Nora off. It was very hot, and the bus was almost 45 minutes late. We were so happy to see it coming up our road!

Here's the second grader getting off of the bus.

...and since I drove her on day one, here she is getting on the bus on day 2.

Second grade is off to a great start!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who needs training wheels? Not us!

Dana is always trying to keep up with her big sister, and yesterday she proved she really can!

Kevin talked Nora into learning to ride her bike without the training wheels. She felt she would do better on Dana's bike, since it is so much shorter and, thus, closer to the ground.

Not to be outdone, Dana hopped on and took off, too!

Nora's still working on mastering this on her own bike. It's taller and heavier, so it's a bit different. She's also working on mastering walking on stilts that Kevin built her.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cooking Outside

The weather lately has been most summery: hot and sunny. I kind of expected this in July, but it has waited until September instead. Whatever. We'll take it!

It was the perfect night to cook outside. The girls do not love barbecued food (I know!), but they absolutely loved roasting their veggie dogs over the fire.

I guess the theme for dinner tonight was "red."

And no, the girls do not believe in forks or buns for their dogs.


Nora takes her marshmallows very seriously.

Kevin grilled a pizza for us, which was absolutely amazing. The crust got so crispy, and it was really flavorful. I believe his comment was something along the lines of, "Why weren't we doing this all summer?" Probably because summer just started here.

The girls are in the tub, soaking all of the soot and marshmallow stickies off of their skin.