Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Valentine's 2015

The last of the catch-up posts: Valentine's 2015.

We spent the morning at Crestridge Elementary helping with Valentine parties.  Here's Brooklyn passing out valentines in Ms. Vickers's classroom.

The girls got up extra early for some festive hairstyling.  (Super simple.)

Tying a blanket of love to be given to a refugee family.

Before long, Annika made her way to the center of the action.
In Talia's classroom, they were busy with some heart-healthy activites: Zumba!

Brooklyn's grade did Zumba in the gym.  (Can you spot Eli in the next three pictures?)

Such joy!

Is it just me, or is Brooklyn looking far too grown-up these days?

Back on the home front, the kids were adamant that we celebrate with Cupid's Crazy Cafe.  Menu choices were listed on our banner.  Would you like some Smoochin' or Squeezin' with that Lovin'?
Now for the true tale behind the glossy pictures.  I had a total melt-down at 4:30 pm because I hadn't planned our special dinner, nor did I have the time, motivation, or energy to figure it out.  Heck, I didn't even have a valentine's gift for my special someone!  I felt awful, like I was letting everyone down.  Fortunately, Jacobo's in South Omaha came to my rescue with their tamales and arroz.

In retrospect, it all worked out for the best.  Cupid's Crazy Cafe is inherently complicated since you have to encode every menu item and serve all the mixed up orders.  Taking away the stress of meal prep made the experience much more enjoyable.  Better yet, I turned over all the work of decorating to our little ones. 

Here's the table all decked out for dinner:

And here's the table we actually ate at.  Can you spot the difference?

Just to make the evening memorable, Annika decided to toss her cookies the moment we had her pulled up to the table.  (Quite ironic, since she almost never joins at the table, but is relegated to her own private corner where we are safe from her flying food missiles.)  Even though her mess looked remarkably similar to the refried beans, we decided that a change of tablecloth was in order.  As was a call to the babysitter cancelling our date night.

Since that time, we've all been taking turns suffering through this 24 hour bug.  What can I say?  Sharing is caring, and ours is a home full of love.

Hope you had a happy (and healthier) Valentine's Day.


And, the frantic blog-catch-up-fest continues.  (I guess this is an unexpected benefit of having the family quarantined at home with the stomach flu.)

Back in healthier days, our Brownie Girl Scout troop took an Art-tastic field trip to the Joslyn Art Museum.  (Absolutely free--a must-see should you ever decide to pass through Omaha.)  Most of the families hadn't been there in years and left feeling eager to come back soon.

After the art museum, we headed to Hot Shops, where Mr. Tim Barry gave us a terrific tour of the art studios.  Here he is working some clay--the girls were so intrigued!

Checking out an interactive sound sculpture in the back.  Hot Shops is another lesser-known Omaha treasure.

The field trip concluded with a tour of Jason's architecture office.  Overall, a great success, especially considering the fact that our original field trip got cancelled a few days ahead of time.

As for our immediate family, we headed back to the Joslyn much sooner than later in order to spend time in their new interactive ArtWorks room.  They have a great assortment of hands-on projects and displays that connect to the museum's collection.

Talia, hard at work with her beads.

Annika takes a close look at some flowers before coloring (as a prelude to the new Georgia O'Keefe exhibit.)

Eli sits down to sketch a still-life.

Last but not least, Brooklyn and Talia stand proudly in front of their finished creation.
I left feeling inspired to incorporate more art into our lives. How do you bring art into yours?

Snow Day

Earlier this month we had a couple of snow days. Here's our home from the front:
Our amazing Papa Kay not only shoveled his own driveway, but then navigated the wintery roads to help us shovel ours too!
And the back.  No dining outside tonight.

Our Winter Wonderland.

Brooklyn makes a snow angel.

The following snow day we headed to NomiAnn and Papa Kay's house for some sledding fun in their backyard.  Their deck was just as snowy as ours.

Talia and Eli trekking up the hill.

Talia's friend Adelle came over with her awesome sled.  Here's her Mom, Metta, pushing the girls off on their adventure.

Talia, Adelle, and Brooklyn

Annika didn't join the others immediately, presumably because it takes approximately forever to get her all bundled up.

Trying out the snow.

Oh no!  She doesn't like it!

After so much work getting Annie Mae ready to face the elements, we weren't about to let her come inside immediately.  Instead, we passed her to Brooklyn so she would cheer up.

Annie loved sledding.

On a day this gorgeous, what's not to love?

Anybody know where Talia went?

Yup, that's Talia.  Standing on her head in the snow, just like it's the most normal thing ever.

I may not love the cold, but you have to admit that snow like this is pretty spectacular.  Magical, even.

Most magical of all are the smiles it brings.

A few steaming mugs of hot chocolate later, and it was quite certainly the perfect day.  Winter, now that you have pampered us with this delightful snowfall, the season feels complete.  Spring, you can make your appearance anytime now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The perfect Valentine: Ruby Susannah

Introducing... Ruby Susannah!

Arriving just in time to wish Brianna and Justin a happy Valentine's Day.

4 pounds, 12 ounces, and practically perfect in every way. Congratulations! We are so delighted to welcome another cousin into the family.

Annie at Two

I am so far behind on this blog that it's downright discouraging.  Part of it can be blamed on the fact that our internet connection is absurdly slow, so uploading photos is a drag.  In truth, I've been dragging as much as the computer, so the rest of the blame lies with me.

But no more excuses.  I promised that I would highlight our 2 year-old Annika Mae, so here goes.
She's cute.  Dang cute, but she knows it too.  Whenever she's naughty, she flashes that sweet little smile to get herself out of trouble.  What can I say?  She's smart as well.

Annika's trademark feature is still her outrageously long hair.  At two years of age, she can nearly sit on it.  Unfortunately, it is just as unruly as ever.  This is what she looks like in the morning before I've had a chance to try and tame it.
As you can see from the picture, Annika loves cereal.  (It's actually quite seldom that she gets any sugary cereals, but these were give-aways.)  She also loves climbing on high and precarious surfaces like the dining room table.  Where could she learn to misbehave?

As long as I'm on the subject of milk, the other day Annika tossed a handful of mini-wheats and a five metal fasteners into a gallon that had just barely been opened.  Argh!

Of course, that's not the only trouble she's made.  Check out how she decorated Brooklyn's baby doll.
Fortunately, this marker was washable.  All of our Sharpies have been confiscated and placed way out of reach for obvious reasons.  Annie has this strange fascination with tattooing.  Most of the time she limits the body art to her own skin, but occasionally baby dolls and siblings are invited to her parlor.

The oh-dang-I'm-caught melt-down.

As battered as the previous baby doll looks, I wish I had some video or pictures to show you how incredibly sweet and loving Annika usually is with her stuffed animals and babies.  She tucks them under blankies, kisses them night-night, and feeds them in her high chair--such tender moments from our miniature mommy.

Other Annika facts:

On her second birthday, Annika weighed 22.2 pounds.  She likes to drink "nilk" and asks for it often, although not quite as often as she peers down my shirt and asks "nurse?  nurse?"  (She's been weaned ever since I went to visit Baby Eila, but keeps hoping.)  Her favorite song is "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," but the only word she sings is "Beam."  More often, she composes her own melodies of "la la la," consistently sung fortissimo.  As the fourth in a loud family, she's learned to hold her own.  She's also learned that if she shrieks in the middle of a church service or a concert or any other quiet venue where she's bored, she will get taken outside.  We hate taking her out because it's reinforcing bad behavior, but what else are you supposed to do? 

Favorite words:
Jump, Light (she loves to turn the lights on and off), Movie, Story, 'loon (balloon), Bopple (apple), Nana (banana), Cracker, Bubba (Brooklyn), and No.

I wuv you, good girl (sometimes she'll tell this to herself), my mommy, tickle tickle, uh oh (she'll sometimes say this before dumping her food on the ground), and bye bye (we all get suspicious at this one.  She tells us bye, shuts the door, and then trots off to work some amazing mischief.)

At two years of age, Annie's fascination with water continues.  She now climbs up on the toilet so that she can turn on the bathroom sink and play in the water all by herself.  I'm dreading the day she floods the basement.  Before bed, she usually tells us she's "dwinky" and gets her "dwink" by leaning over and slurping directly from the bathroom faucet stream. 

Otherwise, she's generally a good sleeper who goes to bed easily, surrounded by an entourage of stuffed animals.  While weaning was difficult, it was completely worth it when it comes to getting a better night's sleep.  Now if only she were as good of a pooper...  (Way TMI, but the poor 'gal suffers from rocks in her diaper.)

Other weird quirks:  Annie loves to stick her hand in ice water and play with all of the cubes.  Brrr!  Never seems to bother her, though, quite possibly because her hands are always cold anyway from poor circulation.  Oh, and she's recently developed this new game of licking people.  Ew.

Last but not least, let's not forget the Tic Tac Time pat-down that invariably occurs every time she sees Papa Kay.  As soon as she's in his arms, she'll start beating his chest and other pockets until she hears the familiar rattle of a Tic Tac box.  I make no apologies for this one--Papa Kay quite knowingly opened this Pandora's box and seems to enjoy the attention.

No matter how quirky or mischievous our Annika Mae might be, she holds a special place in all of our hearts.  A friend to all, she willingly cuddles with nearly anyone and has made many amigos by snuggling in.  Even so, I cherish the one-on-one moments we have together.  My heart melts every time she takes my face in those little hands and says "Mommy!" in her sweet baby voice.  (Okay, it's fun the first five times.  Less fun when repeated fifty times in a row.)  In moments when I feel overly anxious to pursue my own career goals and dreams, I think of Annie and hope she doesn't grow up too fast, for we sure cherish having our baby at home.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Annie's Minion Birthday

The minions recently invaded our home.

They appeared disguised as twinkie cupcakes...

...and even chocolate spoons.

The minions arrived en masse to wish our little Annika Mae a happy 2nd birthday.  We highly suspect that our adorably tiny trouble maker is actually a minion herself, particularly since she calls apples "bopples."

NomiAnn and Papa Kay came to celebrate the occasion with us.  (We also invited our two year-old neighbor twins, but they got sick.  We missed them, but appreciate their leaving their germs next door.)

A photo in front of our minion door.  Jason is supposed to be Gru while I'm Agatha.

Brooklyn helps Annie with her birthday cupcake.

Blowing out the candles.

Yummy!  (Well, sort of.  The Twinkies were kind of stale.  Didn't even know that was possible...)

For her birthday, we gave Annika a giant box filled with Duplos.  (Yay for resale shops!)  Not surprisingly, she liked the box even better than the toy.  Hidden inside that box is her very favorite present of the day--a package full of wipes from Aunt Callie and Uncle Adam.  I kid you not, she carried her wipes to bed and when I pulled her out of her crib in the morning, she was still snuggling the package!

While Annie was playing with her wipes, her siblings got busy with the duplos. 

Last but not least, here's the special guest "Lady" that Talia invited/created.  Earlier that day, I'd had quite the shock when I went up to the girls' bedroom while they were at school and discovered this body under the covers of her bed.

Never a dull moment at the Wheeler house!  There's much I'd like to write about our special Annika Mae, but Grandma Susie and Aunt Christy are visiting, so we'll settle for pictures and savor the moment.  Still, a very happy birthday to our little minion Annie!