Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Babies and Birthdays

I have the cutest little pictures of Eila Kay from when she came to visit with her Mama back at the beginning of April.  Hard to believe this little gal is more than six months old and scooting now!

Here are Annie and Eila, the babies of the family.  Don't you love those blue eyes?

Eila hanging out in her bumbo on the back porch.

Papa tries to entice Eila with a bottle.

I was a little worried that Annika would be overly jealous of Eila, but she adored having a live baby doll in the house, as evidenced by her squeals of "Baby!  Baby!  Baby!" repeated 500 times.  Even so, she wanted a turn on Papa Kay's lap too.  Here she is pointing out her nose, one of their favorite games.

Not surprisingly, Brooklyn had an immediate knack for keeping Eila happy, and vice versa.

 Eila's inaugural trip in the swing.

And here's Eila on her first visit to the Joslyn Art Museum.  Next time she might even open her eyes.

Eli in front of the art work we made there.   If you look closely, you can see Papa Kay's drawing says "Keep Smiling."

My only complaint about Eila's visit was that it went too darn fast.  Callie and Adam, maybe you can talk her into postponing that whole "grow up" deal until we get together again.  We miss you guys--thanks for coming!

Fortunately, the next day's Easter celebration kept us from pining away too much.  Here are the munchkins searching for eggs at Papa Kay and NomiAnn's house.  Annika certainly grasped the idea of the egg hunt this year!

Talia looks positively amazed with her bounty.
Even though all the kids split their Easter eggs evenly, Eli still felt disappointed when his legs couldn't get him to the eggs as quickly as he wanted.  Hang in there, little guy!  Life's good.

Brooklyn on the prowl.

Look out!  Here she comes!

Papa Kay had the perfect spot for observing the hunt.  I think he enjoys the tree house almost as much as the kids do.  (At least when Annika's not trying to launch herself out of it, but that's another story...)

Speak of the little devil, how can something so innocent cause so much havoc?  :)

As my mother likes to remind me, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This as close as I'll ever get to being a Bunny.  Scandalous.

Last but not least, a few sibling photos in the treehouse.  Eli, you look like the odd man out.

That's better!  Oh wait, Talia's crossing her eyes.  What a goofball.

Third time's a charm.

Back inside the house, we celebrated the fact that Easter was also Papa Kay's birthday by beating up on him.  Must be a guy thing.

Always generous, he and NomiAnn gave the kids gifts on his special day.  This one that Brooklyn's modeling is a personal favorite.  You can reconfigure it to make all sorts of cool forts.

Papa Kay pauses to open some gifts of his own--with plenty of help, of course.

If I remember correctly, Papa Kay was born on Easter, so his family always celebrated with a bunny cake.

Brooklyn and Talia were eager to sample.

Happy Birthday, Papa K!  Always a net giver, you make our lives as sparkly as your candle.

And NomiAnn, here's a smile and heads up.  We are so thankful for you and your special day as well.

When NomiAnn's moment rolled around at the end of the month, she specifically asked us all to not make any fuss.

We didn't listen.  Here are Brooklyn, Talia, and Eli in NomiAnn's office, having sneaked in to decorate with Papa Kay.

In the end, NomiAnn handled all the loving attention from friends, family, and students with a graceful smile.  And why not?  After all, it's not every day a gal turns 29.

Just a few hours ago I had a conversation with my Mom about one of the kids needing rescuing at school, which naturally reminded us of the very many times she bailed me out of my own sticky situations growing up.  As I thanked her (better late than never), she joked about how she's still there for the rescue.  How right she is!  Thanks, Mom, for being there for all of us, and happy birthday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quote Board Clean-Up

Before heading to bed tonight, I am determined to get something done.  Of course something, whatever it is, can only happen when someone is asleep in her crib.  Otherwise, it's hopeless.

Tonight's "something" consists of emptying our white board of quotes so that I can fill it with more practical tidbits like "Buy aluminum foil."  Riveting.

Here's what it says now.
  • "Hug!"  This quote is Annika's.  Last month while we were walking through JC Penneys, she had to stop and hug every single mannequin.  While it may have taken us half an hour to get across the store, some moments are too precious to rush.
  • Setting: A conversation about trees, thanks to a thematic unit in Eli's preschool. 
    • Kara: "You know who knows a lot about trees?  Your Grandpa Charles."
    • Eli:  (Wide-eyed in amazement.)  "Did he go to tree preschool too?"
  • Eli (After several weeks of Jason working insane hours):  "Is Daddy's project done?  Does that mean he can come home every day now?"  I guess when Dad goes to work before you get up and comes home after you're in bed, you might not realize he was ever there at all.
  • Eli (talking about his bedtime story):  "Mom, I didn't just read you a story, I read you to sleep!"
  • Eli-isms:  Sit at the calendar = sit at the counter; make constructions = give instructions
  • Jason (talking to the 10 year-old son of a family from Spain we'd invited for dinner):  "Quieres quitar la mesa?"  Intended translation:  Would you like to get up from the table?  Actual translation:  Would you like to clear the table?  You should have seen the boy's eyes get wide as he contemplated the loaded table.  He started to shake his head no, but changed his answer to a resigned "sí" when his Mom caught his eye and gave him the look.  Some languages are universal.  Fortunately, we caught the mistake and he was freed to play with the rest of the munchkins.
And just for kicks, here's a transcription of an e-mail I sent Jason at yesterday morning:

Hi love,
Where did you say you saw my cell phone?  I wanted to call and tell you all about how Annie opened up a box of Mac N Cheese and spread the noodles *and the cheese sauce* all over the carpet while I was cleaning up Cities and Knights.


Thirty minutes later I added to the message:

While I was vacuuming the cheese sauce, she smeared half a bottle of conditioner all over her head.  Think I'm gonna cry.  It's only 10 am.

Today she's kept me equally busy.  She was the very first person to gift a solid to our brand-new toilet (good), but also the first to tinkle all over our new tile floor (less good.)  At least life's never dull.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Celebrating in Style: St. Patty's Day and April Fools

Continuing our Catch-Up...

Thanks to NomiAnn's smart shopping, we celebrated St. Patty's Day in style this year.  We tried to take some greenish photos, but green eyes are hard to keep open when the sun is so bright.

Trying again with a bit more shade.  Do you like Talia's roller blades?  She loves them and spends many of her sunny afternoons cruising around our driveway.

NomiAnn and Papa Kay joined us for our traditional Irish meal of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.  Also on the menu: green beans, green scones, green Jello, and green lemonade.

 The men at both ends of the table have awfully green mustaches!
As you can see, we enjoyed our festivities.  St. Patty's Day remained at the top of the meal list until...

April Fools!  Callie (and Eila) came all the way from Seattle to celebrate the tom-foolery with us.   So fun!   Callie's blog explanation is way better than anything I have energy to type, so I'll just summarize.

Since the kids have become pretty suspicious of our meal fare on April 1st, we surprised them by jumping the gun and breaking out our April Fools Day meal on March 31st.  For dinner we served a chef salad.  Little did they suspect what was coming for "dessert."

Behold, our April Fools Pizza cake, baked in a bundt.  (A bundt?  Followed by guffaws and extensive quotations from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.")

Frosted in Mozzarella.  All things considered, this worked out way better than anticipated.

Our next dessert was a VW bug shaped like Callie's car, Sapphyre.

Since Papa K's birthday was only a few days away, we let him do the honors of cutting into the cake.  In all actuality, the "cake" was a balloon taped onto a cereal box and generously frosted with Cool Whip.  The VW bug idea was a desperate last minute attempt to salvage what seemed like a total flop.  In the end, it turned out pretty cute.  The kids were definitely fooled and surprised as the cake slowly deflated with a "pfft."  We'd hoped for a dramatic pop, but apparently frozen balloons don't do that.

Here's Talia, trying to figure out why the cake is shrinking.

Jason looks on with amazement at the Andrus sisters' absurd antics.

Our really real dessert consisted of Oreo brownies.  In true two-year old style, Annika got the brownies everywhere.

Guess the joke was on us!

Happy Memories: The Best Painkiller Around

It's 2:00 am in the morning, and I'm awake for the absolute lamest reason ever. 

I got a shot (pneumonoccocal immunization) and my arm hurts.

Like, really hurts.  Like, it's been more than 48 hours and tonight I finally broke down and bawled like a baby because I'm tired of it hurting so much that I can't sleep.  (Not that I could have slept last night anyway--Annika has an ear infection.  Fortunately she's feeling better.  Unfortunately, I'm not.  Sigh.)

Ok, enough whining.  Let's look on the bright side: this is a great chance to catch up on missed photos.  Just don't expect any coherence.  It is, after all, 2:08 in the morning.

The Best Guests:
Peek-a-boo.  Can you  spot who came for a visit at the beginning of February?

Aunt Christy! It was so wonderful to spend time with this amazing aunt and enjoy her delicious cooking.   A coast to coast gal, Christy graduates in May with her PhD from NYU and will start a post-doc at Harvey Mudd in California in the fall.  We are so proud of her!  My only regret?  I didn't take more pictures.

Backtracking into the depths of winter, you'll notice that my daughters are bookworms, no matter what the weather. 

When the weather gets chilly, this is the favorite roost in our home--right above a toasty heat vent.

A less-desirable winter chore is this: thawing the pipes with a blow dryer so that the dishwasher will run.  Do you like Talia's crazy hair?

 Of course, Annika's hairy madness is stiff competition.

Crafty Projects
In February Eli learned about clothes in preschool...

...and trains.

His absolute favorite thing to draw, or talk about, or pretend about, or read about, or dream about, however, was Star Wars.  Jason introduced the kids and the obsession has continued ever since.  Eli's been banned from talking any more about a Star Wars birthday party until July.  The kids made this sign with salt, glue, and food coloring at the Children's museum.

One unexpected benefit of the Star Wars fetish is that it makes Eli extremely eager to accompany me to "Spanish Chat Club" each week, taught by our friend Maestra Julia.  On most weeks, he's managed to find a Star Wars book to take home during the book give-away.

Brooklyn's Star Wars obsession closely matches Eli's.  As part of a studio art project for Girl Scouts, she dyed some cloth and hand beaded it to represent different star systems in the galaxy.  Below we have the project, the map, and the key to all the stars.

Of course, she drew some other cute things as well.  I liked these sibling "recipes"  that I found tucked away in a drawer.

Eli may contain a "pinch of annoying," but at least he's filled with "a gallon of love."

 A Great Day with Papa K:  The Durham Museum
At the beginning of March, we spent a great day at Omaha's Durham Museum in the old train station.

Our munchkins hang out with one of the museum's permanent visitors.

 Going for a ride in the trolley car.

Impish Annika Mae, trying to escape from her Papa K.

Down the stairs...

...and freedom!

Talia explores the science behind pistons and gears.

I don't have any photos, but we saw a great exhibit highlighting many of Katharine Hepburn's iconic dresses.  Afterwards, it was time to hit the soda fountain for some refreshment.

 An adorable granddaddy-granddaughter date.

Sliding in the Sun
As if the Durham weren't enough fun, we then headed outside to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.  Here's Talia, looking a bit terrified on her way down the giant slides.

Whee, that was fun!

 Brooklyn and Annika take a turn.  Gotta love action shots.  :)

Papa K and Eli playing with the pinwheels grandpa brought.

Brooklyn and her Bubba.

Even though the day was warm, the creek was still frozen.  The Canadian geese cracked me up as they kept switching from one leg to the other so their webbed feet wouldn't get too cold.

Back at home with great memories and a pinwheel memento to accompany.

And now, achy arm or not, good night.