Sunday, July 31, 2011

Readers, Opinions Please!

Hi all! We spent the last week on vacation and it was so incredibly relaxing - I read almost four books last week, FOUR! It was the first time in, let's see, about 6.5 years, that we've been on a vacation that really, truly felt like a vacation. For those of you with children still under age three, the future is bright my friends! Someday you will again be able to read a book next to the pool - while your children swim.

Between the week actually on vacation, and the many, many hours in the car, I had lots of time to read this past week - I did not want to be caught without a book. I had six books with me on vacation, four of which were hardcover books from the library. Lugging the books to Wisconsin and back had me thinking that perhaps a Kindle wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.

Then I read that, by the end of the year, you'll be able to check out some library books on a Kindle.This had been one of my major reasons for resisting the Kindle so far, no library books.

Then my sister's boyfriend gave her a Kindle for her birthday on Friday (Happy birthday, Shannon!) and I might have a little bit of Kindle envy.

So, I'm wondering, do I really want a Kindle?

My mother-in-law gave me hers to borrow for a bit, read a book on, see if I like using it... which is a good first step.

What do you all think of e-readers? Do you have one? Do you love it? Have your kids smeared chocolate all over it or thrown up on it yet?

I don't really plan on totally abandoning the traditional book format just yet (or ever), but it seems that having a Kindle might have some perks.

If you DO have an e-reader, how do you use it? How do you decided which books to buy in which format?

I keep mentioning a Kindle, because from what I've seen that really is the friendliest device for book reading, which is why I would want to own one...


BTW, if you're interested, here are my thoughts about Kindle from two years ago, imbedded in an interview by my friend Erin... I pretty much stand by those sentiments, although these days I might be more inclined to encourage someone to give me a Kindle - 35 is a big birthday after all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Library

I'm too lazy to look it up, but I am positive I have mentioned, on many occasions, how much I love our local library system.

Our local library branch has been a godsend this summer. When the times/dates of the summer library programs were published I sat down immediately and placed them on our calendar. We've attended story times, craft days, puppet shows, a Ronald McDonald show, live animal demonstrations... Harper's even taken a bubble-ology class which was a great introduction to the scientific process.  We've been at our library two or more times a week every week since June 1st. In addition to all the great programming we've checked out tons of books and a few CDs and DVDs as well. In the past I've laughed about the 50-item limit on my library card, but this summer we've come close to hitting that limit several times.

Harper and Michael have enjoyed tracking their reading for summer reading club - I often hear one of them call to me, "Mom, start your timer!" I've also been reading library books for the adult summer reading club and I feel like I need to remark again on the marvel that is the automated library request system! When I'm chasing the kids around the library I don't always have time to look for my own books. I have as much fun browsing the online catalog as I do browsing at How great is it to just click a button and a few days later the book I want is sitting on a shelf, waiting for me?  LOVE. I appreciate this service in a whole new way since having children.

Twice in the last couple of years I have submitted requests for books that I was looking to check out, but the library didn't already have. Both times the books were ordered and set aside for me to check out first after they came in and were processed. Now there's some customer service!

Another really wonderful thing about our library right now is that the children's librarian at our branch is on the current Caldecott committee. Once a month she has a special read aloud time when children can explore some of the contenders for the 2012 Caldecott Medal and share their opinions - Miss Pat has assured them that she is taking their feedback into consideration as she prepares to make her recommendations to the committee. So, in a small way, my children can feel like they are a part of this year's selection process - they may not appreciate it now, but it will be really fun to see if the winner is a book that they enjoyed with Miss Pat this year.

I know that not every community has a library system as well supported or active as ours, but if you haven't done so yet, I really encourage you to see what your local library has to offer. As the school year concluded this I was seriously concerned that we'd drive each other crazy this summer and I am not sure I can fully express my gratitude for all the library has given us to do.

In a couple of weeks we'll go to the summer reading wrap-up party. That afternoon my children might earn raffle prizes as a result of the time they spent reading this summer - I know they'd be excited to win, but I also know they've already been rewarded by all the great things our library has to offer.


On another note, we run into friends nearly every time we set foot in the library, so not only does it offer great services, seeing so many people we know there makes me feel more connected to our community as a whole. We don't exactly live in a small town, but this summer our library visits have given me that nice small-town feeling. Now I just have to remember to brush my hair before we visit...

Friday, July 22, 2011

All Hours

My sleep has been really, really messed up this week.

One of the consequences of this was the fact that my alarm went off for AN HOUR this morning, while I had a very complicated Bourne-Identity-dream in which I could not get the beeping to stop. At one point, in the dream, I had something in my hand that wouldn't stop beeping (like Phoebe with the fire alarm) and I covertly deposited it in a coat pocket in a women's department store. Then I went out to the parking lot and stole a car with Matt Damon, but then something in the car started beeping. It was torture. I was really grateful when Matt (my husband, not Damon) came along and asked if I was ever getting up; that's when I realized I truly could make the beeping stop.

My sleeping is generally a little messed up anyway. I'm a night owl in a family of early risers and I find it nearly impossible to go to sleep before eleven. Usually it is closer to midnight and occasionally later than that. Which, as you can imagine, makes me a real peach when the kids get up at 6 or 6:30. Here's one of our dirty little family secrets - I don't always get up when the kids get up, especially in the summer. Often Matt will get them breakfast before he leaves for work and then they play or watch television until I manage to get out of bed - we live in a ranch and my door is open, so I can hear them, especially if there is a problem. All of this will shift a little when school starts again - I haven't driven through the car line in my pajamas, yet. Also, Harper is old enough to procure some types of breakfast for both of them and will often just do that if Matt is gone when they wake up - she often does this without even coming to see if I'm awake. Sad or awesome?

This year my "seasonal" (which are really year round) allergies have been worse than ever. I had been taking generic Zyrtec and it wasn't working as well as it used to. So this week I switched to generic Allegra. And it's sort of wonderful - my nose isn't running, I don't want to claw my eyes out! But there's one teeny, tiny side affect that I hadn't counted on... I can't sleep.

It isn't that I'm tired and I can't fall asleep, I don't even feel particularly tired. My eyes won't get droopy. Monday night/Tuesday morning I finally gave up and came out to the living room to watch a movie. On one hand, if I only slept two or three hours a night I could finally catch up on all your blogs and answer some email and label all those photos I've been meaning to get to... On the other hand, I'm pretty sure there would eventually be some less-than-ideal physiological consequences of not sleeping.

Do any of you have experience with this? I've not even been taking the Allegra for a week - maybe my body will adjust? Let's hope so, because being wide awake at 1:45 a.m. is really, really strange.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just a Few More Wedding Photos

I'm guessing you've all moved on from thinking about my brother's wedding, but I had a few more pictures I wanted to share...

Here's one of Molly entering the church - while it is really an example of how terrible my camera was working in that lighting, I actually kind of love how it turned out...

I hadn't even talked about the special outfit Michael got for the wedding. I found it difficult to find something that would be comfortable for him to move around in and feel good in the heat. As it turned out, post-Easter sales were my friends. I even found him a cute little pair of plaid shoes on clearance at Target the day before the wedding. $3.24!

Jamie and Molly used a guest book with Scrabble tiles on the front (I should have taken a photo of that but I didn't even manage to sign it...) and a wedding theme was (sort of) born. Saying the wedding was scrabble themed might be a little too strong, but they did put Scrabble tiles on their cupcakes and used photos of Scrabble tiles as the table markers. It was subtle and very cute.

I loved the simplicity of their centerpieces - the room was sort of bright and airy and these hurricanes suited it well. I also really dislike sitting at a table trying to have a conversation when the centerpieces block my view of half the people I am sitting with. I loved this choice.

I don't post many full family photos here - partly because it is so difficult to get all four of us to smile/look at the camera at once - how people with more children do it I'll never know.

It's too bad the flowers are blocking my brother's face in this shot, but it was a sweet moment. My kids love their Aunt Molly, and their Uncle Jamie, too.

You can tell Michael had been dancing up a storm - he couldn't keep his shirt tucked in! I worried that he would be shy at the reception but he was a maniac (in a fun way) and lasted much further into the night than I'd expected.

I don't know if you can tell from this photo - but my mom's dress had kind of a lacy overlay on top - during the wedding mass Molly's bracelet got stuck on it in the middle of the Sign of Peace! Someone undid the clasp so it fell off her wrist, then I reached forward to untangle it from my mom's dress and held it until I had a chance to give it back to Molly after the ceremony. Most people in the church couldn't tell that had happened, but everyone in my row had to stifle giggles for several minutes.

I love when I look through wedding photos and everyone just looks happy! Molly and Jamie were beaming - and the flower girl wasn't having a bad time either. 

Since most of my extended family lives in Wisconsin and none of them live in Ohio, we decided to top off the weekend with an open house at our place on Sunday. We ended up having about 50 family members in and out in the late morning and early afternoon. We don't do a lot of hosting beyond having our own brother and sisters and parents here - so I was a little nervous. Fortunately things went really well and I loved being able to welcome aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents into our home. We were lucky the weather cooperated because it would have felt like a different event if we'd had everyone IN the house at once.

There were so many people at our house!

Overall the weekend was a huge success. I was so happy to share in Molly and Jamie's celebration and thrilled that Molly is officially a member of our family. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Send in the Clowns

I still have a few wedding things I'd like to share, but something happened this weekend that I want to post about while it is fresh in my mind.

If you know me on Facebook you may already have gotten the very short version of this story, feel free to skip ahead.

Harper had been invited to a birthday party for this past Sunday afternoon. We were sort of surprised to see the invitation because it was for a friend from preschool, someone we hadn't seen in over a year. I made the awkward phone call to RSVP which, for me, always entails asking about the food that would be served. As it turns out the birthday girl also has nut allergies - my initial reaction was that it would be the easiest birthday party ever, no need to worry about food. But then the mother went on to tell me where the cake was coming from - a local place that is not a nut free bakery. In fact, it was the same place that made the cupcakes for my brother's wedding. And we were told, very definitely, that the children should not eat those... Even the pretzels they served were a brand we NEVER buy because all the products have cross-contamination warnings on them. Everyone handles food allergies differently - and that alone is a topic that I could go on and on about. Fortunately this is NOT a post about Harper having a reaction to food at a party!

The birthday party was at a local park and the big entertainment was a clown/magician. Shortly after the party began, as most of the adults sat together under the picnic shelter, the children gathered in the grass to watch the magic show. A few minutes into the show, Harper was suddenly at my side, absolutely hysterical. She was sobbing and clinging to me and for what felt like a long time I could not, for the life of me, figure out what had happened. I worried that she'd been stung by a bee but I had no idea what she was saying.  She was causing such a ruckus that I ended up walking her away from the picnic shelter to try to help her calm down.

I finally figured out she wasn't hurt, but she was emphatic about not going back over to the magic show. After lots of calming I heard Harper say something about the clown/magician having peanut butter. I thought maybe the clown was using peanut butter as a magic word. Then Harper insisted the clown had a peanut butter sandwich - what place a peanut butter sandwich had in a magic act,  I couldn't imagine. Surely it wasn't a real peanut butter sandwich? Just then the father of the birthday girl approached us to see if we needed anything - he clarified for me that the clown did, in fact, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Apparently the birthday girl, who is allergic to nuts, was asked to hold it at some point (And she did, and was fine, but yikes!).

After a little more conversation I realized that the clown had told the children that if they did or said a certain thing, she was going to open the sandwich and spray them with peanut butter!

Spray them with peanut butter.

Now, I am sure the clown never intended to actually spray peanut butter at the children, but I certainly understand why Harper reacted the way she did. Incidentally, aside from Harper and the birthday girl, there was another child at the party with nut allergies. While I realize the world is always going to have nuts in it, I'm thinking the clown may want to drop that bit from the magic act.

Once Harper calmed down and I promised to sit with her for the rest of the magic show (one of the other parents assured us the peanut butter portion was over). I was really, really proud of Harper for deciding to stay and have fun with her friends. If she had asked to leave (I mean after her initial panicked reaction) I probably would have taken her home.

As I sat with her in the grass, watching card tricks and appearing bunnies, I had to work pretty hard to hold back my own tears. I couldn't stop thinking about how terrified she must have been, thinking she could be sprayed with peanut butter at any moment, worrying she was about to have a reaction.

The rest of the afternoon passed without further incident - all's well that ends well I guess. And Harper did come home with some pretty awesome mermaid face paint:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flower Girl Day, In Pictures

My grandmother, my mom's mom, made Kit a wedding day dress to "match" Harper. We kept her close for much of the special day. This is one of several pictures we took prior to the ceremony.
Kit was fortunate to have a turn holding the flowers. Lucky doll.
I loved Harper in the light through that window in St. Mary's Hall. My camera didn't quite work with me on this one, but I still love the idea of this picture, even I didn't capture the light very well.
You wouldn't know from this shot how insanely nervous she was... "What if someone trips Mom?"
Another pre-ceremony shot.
One of the photographers helped Harper use the professional camera to take a photo of Charlie; there is something about the positioning of her body in this shot that I love - a little professional.
Finally, entering the church! Someone at the back told us that Harper took his hand, looked at him, and said, "Charlie! Smile!"
After the ceremony I took one photo near the echo spot (UD folks know what I mean). She wasn't unhappy, just in need of sunglasses.
Harper and Kit were happy to pose for a few more shots, post wedding.
Testing out the dance floor and twirlability of her dress...
Harper enjoyed dancing with my cousin's daughter, Rebecca. (I realize the dance floor pictures are weirdly lit...)
She looked like a natural with the tambourine.
If you enlarge this picture, you'll get a pretty good idea of Harper's dance style! That is her serious dancing face.
Sooner or later even the flower girl is too pooped to party.
Harper took one last look at the dance floor while she waited for Matt to bring the car around. What a night!

The Rehearsal

I am just not quite sure how to talk about the wedding - I mean, it was my little brother's wedding - which feels/felt monumental to me in ways that it is unlikely to feel monumental to you. For example:

Those two groomsmen have been friends of my brother's since grade school. The taller one? I used to babysit him. It is kind of strange to look at that man and think about how I used to help him with his jammies and brush his teeth at bedtime!

The bride and groom managed to strike a nice tone between serious and not-too-serious. I'm impressed that Molly had the ribbon bouquet from her shower - I don't recall whether I had mine for my rehearsal or not...

Harper and Charlie (Molly's nephew) did a good job of being cute - which is really the only requirement for flower girls and ring bearers, right?

The highlight of the evening, for Harper, came after dinner when Molly gave her a gift - a white clutch with fabric flowers on it. Inside was a box of sparkling hair clips that Molly wore in her brother's wedding, passed along to Harper for the big day.

And speaking of hair - I am not sure you can see it, but Harper had two little pearls nestled in her hair for the rehearsal dinner. Those were hair pins that I wore in my hair for Erin's wedding. Not something special that anyone would notice, but it mattered to me that Harper could wear something I'd worn for another beautiful summer wedding.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


I know the flower girl isn't exactly the star of the wedding weekend... but nobody told my camera.