Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chloe, 7.5.5

I can't believe Chloe is almost eight years old. Last month I noticed she's starting to look more and more like a kid -- more so than a "little kid". I guess she's getting taller and she's lost some of her baby fat.

Of all the girls, Chloe was the most conscious about getting her picture taken. She had specific places she wanted to be photographed and ideas about what she should do in the picture. She asked to see the photos on my camera's LCD as we went along. She told me she hates black and white because it makes her "look like the moon." For more Chloe-isms visit the left hand strip of her mom's blog.

Things I love about Chloe: she's creative, imaginative and sometimes she talks like a story book. Chloe likes crafts, outings, playing make-believe and baking. She likes the process of making food more than she likes to eat it though. I thought it would be fun to make some fresh lemonade. She was very excited to squeeze the lemons. I told her we were making strawberry lemonade and she told me she didn't like strawberries, but she had no objection to making strawberry lemonade. She just wouldn't drink any.

I was impressed with her ability to resolve what could have been the demise of the morning fashion show. Chloe, Piper and Sadie all had different ideas as to how it should be run, and they each ended up boycotting the whole idea, arms folded, lips pouted in their separate corners, until they could have it their way. I left them alone and Chloe came through with a compromise and the show went on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Piper, 4.10.17

I knew I wanted to get some good pictures of these girls, but I wasn't sure exactly how to do it. The idea I came up with was to have a fashion show. They got real excited about that -- especially Piper, who started planning her outfit when she was still in the bathtub. You can't tell from any of these pictures but she picked out a sporty black mini skirt with white stripes to go with her pink floral shirt. She also demanded accessories and a particular hair style. She knew exactly where she wanted that green ribbon, let me tell you.

Piper has the picture-taking "head tilt" down. She needed no direction. My favorite thing about Piper is how sweet she is. She told me she loved me about 6 times that day. I also love her curly hair, the things she says when she prays, and how willing she is to do what you ask -- even though she usually forgets about it the second she turns around.

Piper is a good big sister to Sadie and Tessa. She's also getting older and more hip to Chloe's big sister tactics. Chloe's reverse psychology has no effect on her these days and when Chloe stood up from our picnic blanket and tried to get Piper to come see something "really cool", Piper casually said, "You just want my good spot on the blanket."

I didn't even pick up on that one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sadie, 3.1.10

I wanted to be consistent and make Sadie's portrait black and white like the other girls' but that strawberry blonde hair and those blue green eyes would not let me. They are irresistible.

Sadie did not like getting her picture taken. She kept asking me to stop, so I'm lucky I caught her by surprise otherwise she would make a sarcastic smile or whine and say, "Stop it Laura!" What I love most about Sadie is how excited she is to see me and how she runs up and gives me a big hug, looks at me, smiles, and then hugs me again and doesn't stop until I set her down.

She likes juice, Sun Chips, resting, and washing her own hair. Sadie and her older sister Piper aren't the same height, but they do share clothes. They also share a vocabulary as Sadie uses words Piper didn't when she was her age. I was particularly impressed with her correct use of the adverb "badly" when she was trying to emphasize how much she wanted some candy.

Sadie loves her big sisters and wants to do everything they do. She does not like walking though. We walked about three blocks to the park for a picnic the other day and after one block Sadie started to whine. She dropped her shoulders, hung her limbs as if they were dead, raised her pouty lips to the sky and exclaimed, "I'm tired! I don't want to walk anymore!" Next time I'll know to grab the double stroller.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tessa, 1.1.5

I spent almost 24 hours with my four nieces last Friday while their dad was at work and their mom was in Manhattan. I got some great pictures and I can't just do nothing with them, so I'm featuring all four of the "Belles" this week.

This is Tessa, she is the youngest. She LOVES getting her picture taken. She knew just what to do as soon as I pulled out my camera. She turned on and started smiling for me. She may have an acting/modeling career ahead of her. What I love most about Tessa is her little rosebud lips. They are so cute I can't even stand it. I was worried when I spent the night on Thursday that I would wake up to her crying and she would never stop because she is a total Mama's girl, but she was unbelievably well behaved. I picked her up and sat down with her at her mom's dressing table and let her look in the mirror while I brushed her hair and she was happy as a clam.

She loves being held, climbing on top of her sisters, dancing to whatever is playing on iTunes, and gnawing on apples. I handed her an apple at lunch just to see if she would hold it and she spent the next 30 minutes chewing on it. She would not let me pry that apple from her wicked superbaby grip.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

While you were sleeping, I was walking. But I was also asleep.

My newest Facebook friend is a girl who lived next door up until I was about 7 years old. She was kind of my first best friend and I played at her house a lot. My memories of her have mostly faded, but one remains very vividly, and that was the time I slept over at her house.

I don't remember how old I was, but I remember waking up in their bathroom in the middle of the night. I was in their upstairs bathroom which is odd, because we were sleeping downstairs, and the bathroom down there was much more accessible. When I woke up, I couldn't remember how I got there, which really frightened me. I stood up and went over to the door to find I had locked myself in. I began to cry and struggle with the doorknob, desperately trying to get out as if I was stranded somewhere and this door was the only way to return to civilization. It wasn't long before my friend's mom came to my rescue.

This sleep walking episode isn't an isolated one. Fortunately, sleepwalking is something that belongs only to my childhood. Of course, I don't remember any of this, and barely believe it. At least a few instances have been recounted to me by my brother, Carter. I asked him to retell the family fave:

"When I was 11 or 12 I would get left in charge of Laura and Lisa, who were 2 and 6 years younger than me, respectively. They were pretty good about going to bed at a decent hour and I would usually stay up until Mom and Dad got back.

One night the girls had gone to bed, and I was watching TV. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. This wasn't too unusual. Laura walked in. Okay. Fine. She went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Something seemed to be a little "off" about all of this so my attention was on her and I forgot about whatever show I was watching. I observed her as she took a gallon of milk out of the fridge and set it on the counter. I had no idea where she was going with this. She then started unscrewing the lid off. The lid came off. The lid fell on the floor. Yet she kept unscrewing. And unscrewing. I wondered how long she could possibly stand there and mime unscrewing a milk cap. As my amusement turned to nervous disturbance, I asked her what she was doing, but I got no response. She just stared straight ahead with dead eyes and unscrewed the milk cap, which was long gone. So I jumped up and went over and took the milk from her and tried to break her trance. This seemed to do the trick, as she left the kitchen without saying a word.

I replaced the milk in the fridge and sat down. Then I heard the sound of running water in the bathroom. Nothing too weird there. But the water kept running. Minutes passed. So I ran over to find Laura in the bathroom, running water in the sink, and staring at it. Um. Okay. Realizing I was in the presence of psycho weirdness, I turned the water off and gently escorted her out of the bathroom. I watched her go back upstairs. There were no further incidents that night. But I mean, weird. Right?"

I don't know if Carter told me about this the next day or years later, but when he did he had me and Lisa rolling on the floor laughing. I guess it's true, I mean, you don't make this stuff you? He actually omitted a detail -- which I appreciate, but I'm confident Lisa can fill you in on it if you want.

(image courtesy of Miriam Shenitzer)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Product Plugs 2010

As I'm anxiously anticipating eating this for dinner tonight, I wanted to share one of my recent finds that I can't get enough of.

Buitoni All Natural Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. I'm not a big fan of packaged foods, but this ravioli is the BEST packaged pasta I've ever eaten and possibly better than any ravioli I've eaten at a restaurant EVER.

I'm not exaggerating. The first time I tried this I topped these sweet little squares of bliss with marinara. They were SO good, but I felt like the flavor of the marinara was intrusive on the divinity that was the crimini and portabello mushroom/cheese filling. So now I top them with a browned butter sage sauce that I make while they're boiling in the pot of water. Heaven is only $3.99 folks.

So this got me to thinking of all the other recent products I've been fortunate enough to add to my recommendation list. Here you go:

My coworker Lila introduced me to these. I bet she bought them at "The Store" because it's her favorite place to go and her favorite thing to talk about.
I don't eat a lot of crackers. But I do eat a lot of THESE crackers. I bought one of each expecting to like the Vermont white cheddar variety the best, but was surprised to favor the Wisconsin Colby. Go figure.

I don't have anything against milk, but I saw Almond Milk on sale at Sunflower Market one day and had to try it. I think I had to try it because I saw Dr. Oz talking about it on Oprah one day. I'm so impressionable.

Anyway, I really like it, and it has fewer calories than regular milk. I don't like it in my cereal however. I love it just plain, but it's perfect for my green smoothies. It doesn't separate like milk does. It's a dream. And now that I see they have chocolate almond milk from this picture, I'm going to have to track that down as well.

Those wheat thins have made an appearance in my cleverly cute and stylish lunchbox by Martha Stewart. It has three compartments and a little ice "shelf" to keep everything cold. Only one downside: no handle. That's ok though. I just throw it in my big bag on my way to work. This caters to my need for order and simple design. And cold food come lunchtime.

My dear friend Annie bought me this salad dressing emulsifier after she caught me eying it at Sur la Table one day (she's good). I was so excited. Not only does it perfectly blend salad dressings, it's like a toy so you just want to press down on that lever and spin the whatchamadinger inside all the time. I love it. You just pour the ingredients directly in the bottle and stick it in the fridge for when you want more later. This is perfect for me because I don't like most store bought dressings and they usually expire before I can eat it all anyway. Making your own salad dressing is cheaper and you can make as little or as much as you want.

Moving away from the food related products... I found a toner that I need to remember to stick to.
Target carries Boots brand stuff (a huge chain in England, at least). Target has gone all British with their Boots products and Liberty designed waste baskets and boxes. I love it. $7.99.
Whatever it is in this toner my skin is drinking up and loving. After I ran out of the first bottle I bought Neutrogena alcohol free toner for some reason. Probaly because I was at Smith's and it was cheap. My skin rebelled, but because I'm stupid and sometimes cheap, I had to wait until that was all gone before I bought new toner. I mean, it's toner. It's not like it's keeping me alive or anything. But it's keeping breakouts to a minimum and helping hydrate my pale, pale complexion.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ready, Set, Hike!

The name Laura essentially means “victory.” I double-checked that as I prepared to teach Gospel Doctrine on Sunday. We were discussing Naomi, Ruth and Hannah whose names bore great significance to their stories in the Old Testament.

I asked the class if anyone knew the meaning if their own name and if that knoweldge has affected their character or the way they live their lives. I was surprised when only two people knew what their name meant, and neither of them really cared. I guess I was expecting too much.

Laura comes from “Laurel” which means “crowned with laurels” which means “honored”, “victorious” or “leader of the group”. Honestly, knowing that hasn't really changed the way I live my life either.

Yesterday I was victorious but I was definitely not “leader of the group”.

My friend Mandi invited me to hike Grandeur Peak. It’s a four hour hike, and you summit the mountain. I like hiking, and I always feel good being outdoors, but I always hesitate to accept those invitations – especially from people who are clearly in better shape than I am. I don’t doubt that I can finish the hike – it’s just that it takes me longer to get there.

This is the same story with snowboarding, water-skiing, running…I usually only go with people if I feel safe and comfortable with them and trust they will be patient with me and not resent me for lagging behind or slowing them down (this is a Capricorn characteristic by the way).

I have some really good friends that I feel safe doing these things with, but I’m afraid I let this hold me back sometimes and I end up missing out on a lot of fun things because I don’t want to be the girl everyone has to wait for. Mandi was an awesome hiking companion. She waited for me when I needed to stop and catch my breath and she didn’t make me feel like I was holding her back (even though the last time she hiked this mountain she only had to stop twice).

Mandi told me the first time she hiked Granduer Peak she cried because she didn’t know what she was getting into. She wasn’t used to the elevation, she wasn’t used to the continual steep incline and she was with people who kept going and going and didn’t let her stop and hang back until she was ready.

There’s something to be said about pushing yourself even when you feel like your body can’t take it anymore. And I actually did pretty well -- much better than I feared. But I think there’s something equal to be said about being ready for something – ready to continue on (contemplate LOST finale here). And sometimes that can make all the difference.

With that said, here is a sample of what was running through my head during the hike:

Oh my gosh, we’re not even to the trail head and my legs are tired.

I was in better shape when I walked to work every day. Stupid government. Making me work at 7 – 6 so I don’t have time to walk anymore.

Was it easier to do this kind of thing ten years ago? Am I just feeling my age? (Down comes a wrinkly old Grandpa with a walking stick). Nope. That can’t be it.

Does everyone have a dog? Aren’t the doggies going to get tired?

I wonder if Mandi would hate me if I told her to just go ahead and I’ll see her up there.

That guy is carrying a 4 year old on his back? Oh man.

It’s a good thing it’s not blazing hot. I don’t think I would make it.
Why are my legs tired? I wonder if I could take tomorrow morning off. Yeah, I think I'll do that.

That guy is RUNNING. He’s running uphill.

The view at the top was gorgeous. And it felt really good. And I came to work on time this morning and I don't even feel that sore. I need to do this more often, and I'll get better. I need more people like Mandi, or maybe I just need to trust that more people are like Mandi.

Snowball fight. The snow felt really good.

Me pointing out nothing in particular because we were just posing.

Mandi actually fell a couple times, but this wasn't one of them.