Monday, November 04, 2013

Pierced ears

Yesterday was Maisie's birthday - she's now seven years old! I'll have a recap up of our Sunday celebration soon, but I wanted to post about the OTHER big thing she did this weekend: she got her ears pierced!

Maisie's been sort of interested in having pierced ears for a while now, but always backed down when we'd remind her how the process happens. She has some anxiety in general, so it isn't surprising to me that the thought of someone poking a needle through your earlobes would make her say "maybe when I'm older." :) But with turning seven, I thought she might be ready.

Saturday morning we had Suomi-Koulu, and afterwards Aaron was taking Ella to a birthday party. Maisie and I were talking about what we were going to do, and I suggested heading to the mall to get her ears pierced. Surprisingly, she was all for it! So off to the Mall of America we went.

When we got there, though, there were second thoughts. We talked about it and Maisie said, "Maybe when I'm nine." I said okay, they're your ears so it's your choice, and we went off to try lunch. Maisie suggested sushi (I know, what?), so we went to Masu Sushi where she scarfed down a bunch of edamame, four pieces of a teriyaki chicken roll, three pieces of an avocado roll, and three pieces of California roll. Holy cow! That girl's a sushi-eating machine. She does not care for wasabi or pickled ginger (too spicy!), but otherwise, she's willing to try just about any rolls. It was a fun, fun lunch.

We were walking out of the mall when we passed by a Claire's. I said "you know, they pierce ears here, this is where we could get it done." (I know, I KNOW! I have had enough piercings myself that I'm familiar with all of the gun vs. needle arguments. Suffice it to say, this was easy and fast and made Maisie super comfortable in a way that a piercing/tattoo shop wouldn't. Don't worry, we won't do any cartilage piercings at the mall.)

To my surprise Maisie said, "Okay, I'll do it" and walked right in. Holy cow! The nice young woman working helped Maisie pick out the earrings (topaz, her birthstone) and gave her a teddy bear to hold while she marked the placement.

Maisie looks a little nervous... maybe she was starting to rethink her decision? But before she knew it... it was over and her ears were pierced!

The person who did it actually had a coworker come help, so they did both ears at once. Super fast! Maisie was really relieved and happy and proud of herself when it was over.

And now she has pierced ears!

She has to wear these for six weeks, and clean them and twirl them two or three times a day. She's really good about not touching or playing with them, and so far they're healing beautifully... not a bit of redness or overly tender.

Maisie's so proud of herself, and keeps saying "I can't believe I got my ears pierced!" Aaron and I are so proud of her too, for moving past the fear that it'd hurt (it did, but just a little, and not for long) and doing it anyway. :)

Friday, November 01, 2013


If you know me, you could probably guess that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Dressing up! Being a little spooky! Running around with friends! What's not to love about that? The girls and I were super excited for trick or treating!

It was kind of a chilly evening, so I went for a simple wig-only costume that I picked up at Target...

It was actually too big to fit in a bag, so I wore it home, much to the amusement of my fellow bus commuters.

When I got home, Hermione Granger and Batman were READY! TO! GO! I tried to get some pictures of their costumes, but everyone was very excited, which made it difficult to get a good, non-blurry pic.

Eventually I convinced them to sit down. Batman wasn't to thrilled about it... she was ready to GO!

But Hermione enjoyed the chance to pose a bit and show off her wand and scarf.

We were out trick or treating in the neighborhood for almost two hours! We didn't go very far - a few blocks from home in each direction - but the girls managed to almost completely fill their pumpkin buckets. By the time we were heading towards home, they had me carry the buckets because they were so heavy! We got to see a lot of friends and neighbors. It was a chilly night, but a lot of fun.

We love Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reading, reading, reading

This is kind of a disjointed post. Sorry about that! I realized I hadn't updated in a few weeks, though, so I wanted to put some new pics up.

We had the girls' parent-teacher conferences a week or so ago. As expected, they're both doing great in school. Maisie, it turns out, is now reading at about a third-grade level. She reads all the time! She reads over my shoulder when I'm at the computer or on my phone. She reads words I didn't know that she knew. She gets her nose stuck in a book in the morning and I have to promise her she can take it on the bus, or she won't get ready for school! We love it and more importantly, she loves it too.

The library has been a great source of books for us. Maisie has her own library card, and has now for a while. But one other way it's keeping us in new reading material is the ongoing book sale!
The organization Friends of the Hennepin County Library operates a little bookstore at the downtown library. They sell books that the library is getting rid of, along with books that other people have donated. It's a super source for inexpensive books! They usually cost a dollar or two, but last week they were running a sale where all books were a quarter. These are some of the books I picked up there for Maisie, all of which she's really enjoying. She reads Babymouse in bed at night, when she is supposed to be sleeping. :)

This weekend the weather was really, really nice out. It was a great change from the cold gray fall we've been having. It was still brisk, but warm.

To get outside on Saturday afternoon, the girls and I walked around the neighborhood on an impromptu scavenger hunt. I wrote the list for Maisie...

And she added to it as the walk went on.

I did Ella's list in pictures. It was a fun little activity and a nice way to get outside and enjoy the warm fall sunshine.

Sunday we went to a corn maze with Dylan and Auntie Laura! That was super fun, kind of nuts, and merits its own post. Probably tomorrow.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Color days

One fun thing that Ella's preschool class has been doing is color days! For a few weeks now, each day has been assigned to a certain color. The children then note who's wearing something with that color on, they talk about foods and things that are that color, and so on. Ella has really enjoyed planning her color day outfits to maximize the amount of the day's color that she's wearing. So I figured I'd share a few of her color day outfits with you!

Here we have Pink Day:

Pink jacket, pink shirt, pink pants.

This is from Red Day:

Ella's favorite animal is pandas, so she adores this shirt.

Along the way we've also had orange, green, brown, blue, gray, black & white, purple, and yellow days. This week they're wrapping it up. We had favorite color day (she wore all purple), and it's ending with today's theme:

Rainbow day!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame

Last week, thanks to my generous employer, I won 4 tickets to Saturday's Twins game! I thought it would be really fun for me and Aaron to take the girls to their first baseball game - it was a noon game, so the timing was right, and it was free, so if they got bored or antsy we could just leave without having wasted money on tickets. I was really looking forward to it!

Maisie, however, had different ideas. "Baseball is boring," she said, and refused to go. So I invited Auntie Laura and Dylan to join me and Ella at the game instead!

The four of us took the train to Target Field. It's super convenient - it's the last stop and lets you off right outside the gate. Between the train ride and getting to snuggle up with Dylan, Ella was having a blast already!

We arrived at the ballpark at 11:50 to an announcement of a rain delay. It wasn't raining too hard, so we decided to wander around a little while we waited it out. Laura, Dylan, and I ate turkey sandwiches, and then we went to a store to shop for Twins gear... Dylan needed a cool hat like Ella's, and they both decided they needed giant foam fingers.

There was music on the PA, and the cameras were showing people dancing in the stands. Dylan decided that he had to get on TV. So he and Laura headed down into the stands to dance and try and get the cameras' attention.

Mission accomplished! The giant fingers worked, or something. Just a moment after I took this picture I went down to ask Ella not to sit on the stairs. Then the cameras caught all of us! I immediately started dancing like a fool (because hello, camera!) and we all waved. It was awesome.

After that, Laura and Dylan went to go try their luck to get on camera again in a different part of the stadium. While they did that, Ella and I had a corn dog...

And got her face painted.

We'd just picked up some cotton candy when we found Laura & Dylan again, so we all headed up to our seats. We were actually sitting under a big awning, so they were dry! So we decided to wait out the rain delay from the comfort of section 325, row 11.

This section is called "skyline view" - rather lovely, as you can see, even on a gray, rainy day. And for being so high up, we actually had a pretty good view of the field.

Target Field is pretty remarkable in that respect. I've had good seats and less-good seats there, but never an obstructed view or even a difficult sight line. It's really well built, especially when compared to the awfulness that it baseball at the Metrodome.

So finally, after a two and a half-hour delay... it was baseball time!

After all that time, the game itself was pretty anti-climactic. The first three innings were scoreless, and went fast. The big excitement was dancing to the music they played for the different batters.

They really liked dancing to the music.

We ended up staying through the end of the 4th inning. It was cold and damp, the Twins were down 2 runs, and we'd been there for over four hours at that point. We were all ready to head on home.

But despite the delays and the disappointing performance, it was a fun fun day with Laura and Dylan. We'll definitely do it again... and hopefully this time it'll be sunny.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day at the Museum/Children's Theater

Or, why I enter everything into my phone.

Yesterday morning, Aaron and I woke up to the sound of giggles coming from the girls' room. (It's a nice way to wake up.) They'd woken up before us and, instead of coming and getting us up, had decided to stay in their room and play together. It was pretty sweet.

Anyway, I looked at my phone to see what time it was and there was an entry from my calendar: Children's Theater, 2:00 Today. I said to Aaron "Hey, we have tickets to a show at the Children's Theater today." He asked what time and what show. "2:00. I don't know what show but it's in my phone, so it must be right." And it was! I got up and looked at the tickets, and sure enough we were going to the matinee of Charlotte's Web.

We hadn't been to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in forever, so we decided to go early and check out some art before the show. Maisie was initially reluctant ("There's nothing to dooooooo"), but quickly warmed up to it and ended up having a lot of fun.
She especially liked the statues. And the MIA has plenty of interesting statutes, especially in the Asian art galleries!
So there was plenty of silly posing for pictures.
They also really liked the suits of armor - this one was about 500 years old!
We ended up in one of the contemporary galleries, where the girls REALLY liked this large statue.
Ella, so silly. "I can see his butt, Mama! Take a picture of his butt!"

After seeing some art and a quick snack, we went over to see Charlotte's Web. Ella said, "I hope there's no dying parts in this show!" Uh... turns out, Charlotte's Web is almost entirely dying parts, starting with the very first line ("Where's Papa going with that ax?"). It's a lot heavier than I remembered it being - the show follows Wilbur as he struggles against the inevitability of death, starting with his own, and then being forced to come to terms with Charlotte's death. But even though Charlotte dies, her babies live on, as does Wilbur because of her efforts while she was alive. Wow, these are some pretty heavy themes for a children's story! But I don't think the girls really got all that, any more than I did when I read it at Maisie's age. They both enjoyed the play, thought it was sad when Charlotte died, but were happy that some of her babies chose to stay with Wilbur in the barn. It was one of the best shows I've seen at the CTC - I highly recommend it.

Between the museum and the theater, we had a really lovely afternoon.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

School days

It's back to school time!

Maisie started school on Monday: first grade! She was really excited to be heading back. As you can see from some of these first day waiting-for-the-bus pictures, she was feeling happy and silly.

There are several of her friends from Kindergarten in her class, including her best friend Ophelia. Because her school is a Montessori, they're in a mixed-age classroom - instead of just first grade, it's "E1" with first, second, and third graders all together. This is great - it means that she and Ophelia will be together for the foreseeable future.

Another reason I really like the Montessori model of mixed-grade classes is that it's easier for all the children to work at their respective levels. For instance, Maisie's math skills are at first grade level, but she's reading at a second- or third-grade level. So the mixed class makes it easier for the teacher to get her appropriate reading material.

Ella has also started school!

Her first day of High 5, Minneapolis' public pre-k, was Wednesday. She was so excited!

She was a little nervous too, but fortunately one of our neighbor kids is going to Kindergarten at the same school, and rides the bus. So right away, Ella had a bus buddy.

Her first day report was kind of scattered. She talked about going out to play on the playground, and that they had to be quiet like little bunnies in the hallway. Also, she got to wear a nametag. And, that's apparently it!

When Ella got home, Aaron said that she had really pink cheeks. We figured the bus must've been really hot. Turns out, it was probably actually her school... the school district has closed the non-air conditioned schools Thursday and Friday of this week, and Ella's school was on the list. So her first week has turned out to be a really short one. Maisie's school does have A/C, though, so she doesn't get the extra days off that Ella does.

I'll be glad once we get past Labor Day and back into our regular school-year schedule. The transition is difficult - getting Maisie used to getting up so early is not easy. Much like her daddy, she likes to stay up late! So mornings have been a challenge this week both for her and for me. But it'll work itself out and we'll find a comfortable rhythm again.

I'm sure we'll get there by the time May rolls around. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

State Fair 2013

This is going to be a very picture-heavy post... it's a recap of our visits to the State Fair!

Yes, I said visits! On Friday, Aaron went off to visit Chris and Kim in Portland for the weekend. He had an early flight, but the girls are early risers anyway, so it was no big deal for us to see him to the train on time. Once we were there, the girls said, "STATE FAIR!!!!" So off we went! And before long, Gramma Liisa joined us there.

We did some of our usual things that we love to do at the fair. We rode the carousel - one of the girls' favorite rides.
I think it won't be long before they're too old for the carousel at the Fair, and it'll make me a little sad. It's been one of their favorites year after year.

We saw the animals. Ella called these "ghost sheep."
We also visited the Miracle of Birth center, the cows, and the bunnies. We saw a sheep being sheared - neither the girls nor the sheep particularly liked that. They did like the calf, the ducklings, and the piglets at the Miracle of Birth center - they got to pet the one day-old piglet, which was adorable.

And we ate ice cream, because it was a toasty hot day!
We also had cheese curds, roasted corn, skin-on fries, cotton candy, and Spring Grove soda. Yum!!

Then on Saturday, we were back - this time with Laura and Dylan!!
We really were this excited about it!

There were multiple trips down the giant slide -
It's difficult to get a good picture of someone coming down the slide, so this'll have to do! Laura rode with Ella, and Maisie and Dylan rode together. The giant slide is SO fun. It says it's the best ride at the fair, and I'd have to agree.

After that, we went to the bird show. Ella got kind of antsy, though. So while Laura, Dylan, and Maisie watched the raptors, Ella and I took a little walk over to the poultry barns. She loved the chickens and spotted a lot of eggs in their little pens.

She was kind of grossed out by the turkeys' big wattles, though.
Seriously. Do wild turkeys have these? This must be something that people have bred for, right? I can't imagine this working very well in the wild.

We also saw this puffed-up guy in the breeding pen with two... hens? I don't know what a female turkey's called.
But he was clearly showing off. It was the turkey equivalent of Hey pretty laydeeez!! 

After a trip through the poultry barn, what's better than a turkey sandwich? (Does anyone else think it's a little weird that the Giant Turkey Sandwich stand is right by the poultry barn?)
Dylan was like, "this could be an ad for the fair!" Which, I must say I agree. Cute, happy kid with a turkey sandwich and an Icee, outside the DNR building, wearing a John Deere visor? Love it!

We relaxed in the shade and enjoyed our turkey sandwiches (me, Laura, Dylan, Maisie) and corn dogs (Ella).

After lunch, it was getting HOT! So it was off to the river raft ride.
I rode with the kids while Laura held our bags. There was a long line... but it was worth it. We all got SOAKED. So fun!

After the river ride, Dylan wanted to check out the lumberjack show. So Laura took him and Maisie, while Ella and I went to the Butterfly House (which Maisie Did. Not. Want. to visit.)

The butterfly house is always great for pictures. Can you tell how hot it was? No breeze and lots of people made for a sweaty butterfly experience.

Sweaty but very fun.

The butterfly house was followed by rides at the Kidway, and then the parade and a snack of bomb pops.

Then it was off to the Agriculture/Horticulture building. It sounds kind of hokey, but I really like this building. There's big veggies, crop art, Christmas trees, bees and honey... it's all pretty interesting, really.

Biggest sugar beet: 15.5 pounds!
The average beet is 3-4 lbs., so this one really was a monster.

Corn, for Grandma Jo:

The crop art tends to have a liberal/progressive bent, for some reason. Last year there were a ton of "Vote No" pro-same-sex marriage art pieces; this scarecrow fits right in.

She is scary, wouldn't you agree? ;)

We also checked out the bees and honey, and some really cool Dr. Seuss-themed flower arrangements. But as lovely and interesting as the Ag/Horticulture exhibits are, the building was roasty toasty. So after that, we went out to the Produce Exchange stand for peaches and a little sit-down in the shade.

We also got cream cheese wontons and egg rolls - it was getting later in the day, and we'd been doing almost nothing but walking, so we were ready for some more real food!

There were some intense negotiations over the division of wontons and rolls, as you can see.

The day was getting along, it was hot, and there were people as far as the eye could see. So we decided that we were just about done. We made our way back through the crowds, following Laura and Dylan.

After a quick tour through the grandstand and a stop for Sweet Martha's, we headed for home. When we got home we were tired and dirty, and I was a little sunburned. (ouch!) But it was a wonderful day. We'd had so much fun with Auntie Laura and Dylan, and with Gramma Liisa the day before. (And that long cool shower felt so nice after I put the girls to bed!)

We love the State Fair!!