Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Story Time with Maddie Bear

Madeline is apparently quite the evidenced in the video below.  It's a little long, but believe it or not, I cut a lot out.  She was just too cute to trim down the video anymore than I already had.

Oh, my silly little Maddie Bear.

Glass Cases of Emotion...

I linked this up to.The Pinterest Challenge at Young House Love There are so many amazing projects linked already.

While perusing the Martha Stewart website several months ago, I came across Darcy Miller's "Frames and Scrapboxes."  Not only are they lovely reminders of her family history, but they are also just plain beautiful.  

I was smitten.

I already had two shadow boxes hanging in our main hallway.  One houses a card my parents gave me for my birthday a few years ago, and the other is filled with pearl-colored buttons that were passed down from my great grandmother.  After seeing Miller's creations, I was inspired to try and jazz them up a bit.  So, I simply added some fun patterned paper around the card, and inserted my childhood red-haired girl Little Person.   It instantly added so much more charm and fun to what had been just a plain white square.  
But I wanted to do more...

On our last trip to Ikea, I bought three more square shadowbox frames, and eagerly got busy filling them with fun mementos and photographs.  I loved how they turned out.

But still, I wanted to do more...

Luckily, my BFF needed a trip to Ikea last week, and I got to tag along.  I bought three more frames.  I shuffled through more stacks of old photographs and keepsakes, until I had six adorable little frames to hang over my desk.

There's one from Madeline's first birthday.

There's one for sweet baby Ellis.  It has her hand and footprints, hospital cap, and a butterfly a blogger sends others in memorial of her own stillborn daughter.

There's one for Madeline's birth that includes her hospital bracelet and ID card from the nursery.   I still can't believe that tiny baby is the same little girl who just read me a story before bedtime!  Crazy town.

There's an old Drum Corps photograph of Eric, and I dug through piles of his old stuff until I found the same arm tassel from the picture.

I framed the poem Eric's father wrote and recited at our wedding along with a small photograph.  I also included  the Vermont needlepoint I made as favors.    

And there's Madeline's first school photograph complete with a yellow school bus and some finger-painted trees she made in the background.  The block was mine when I was a baby, and it just happens to have the letter M on it....for Maddie Bear.   (There's an S for Mumma Bear on the other side too.)    
 And still...I want to do more.

As I went through boxes of photographs, I kept thinking of new ideas.  There's an old school journal of mine from third grade.  There's Eric's baby book.  There's a sweet baby dress that both Madeline and I wore and were photographed in.  There's a copy of my great-grandmothers handwritten sugar cookie recipe and some cool cookie cutters.

I'd much rather have these things on a wall where I can look at them and smile than stuffed in a box only to be rediscovered every few years.  Still, I think I'm going to quickly run out of wall space, and some of my ideas require bigger boxes.  Maybe I can fit in one more row of three between the ceiling....hmmm.  

 And for those of you who know me in real life, and are sitting there astounded by the cleanliness of my desk, let me keep it real.

This, dear friends, is the area directly to the left of that little rectangle of organized peace and harmony.  I won't show you the wall of toys and destruction against the other side of the room.  I'm sure you can imagine.  

UPDATE: A friend just let me know that Michael's is having a big frame sale this week. Forty percent off shadow boxes in combination with a twenty-percent-off coupon on all frames. My collection will be growing!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parents Unsupervised

Scene:  The Friday night before school vacation week in a family-friendly chain restaurant.  Mumma and Dada...hungry.  Madeline...hungry...and grumpy...and tired...and two...and.  The food arrives just as Madeline begins to cry at the top of her lungs because I will not let her play with my steak knife.  Eric and I lock eyes across the table in mutual frustration and despair.  Eric marches our squealing mandrake out of the restaurant while I signal the waitress for some to-go containers.

I love my daughter to the moon and back, but man, we needed a parenting time-out.  Luckily, just when I thought I was going to have to buy some earplugs and hang my daughter by her toes, the heavens opened and some good fairies sent us to the ball.  And by good fairies, I mean Eric's family.  

Eric's sister got the two of us a weekend in New York City as a wedding present, and over vacation, we got to use it.  Meanwhile, we handed off our precious bundle of love to doting and fresh-faced grandparents for two whole nights.  

A year ago I would have been nervous about leaving Madeline for two nights, but now that she's older and able to communicate I wasn't worried.  Besides, once she got to Nana and Pop's house with a room full of new toys to explore and people to play with, she couldn't get rid of us fast enough.  Maybe Madeline needed a break too.  
Thanks for getting rid of my parents, Aunt Carol.  God, they're so embarrassing.  

Once we got Madeline settled in, Eric and I trotted happily to the LIRR to begin our few days of precious alone time.

The first time Eric brought me to New York, I was underwhelmed.  He grew up in the area, but to me,  it just seemed like a really big, ugly city.  Where was Woody Allen?  Where was the Central Perk with its giant mugs?  Where were the cherry-blossom-lined streets from every Meg Ryan romantic comedy of my youth?  There was no Carrie Bradshaw trotting glamorously in five-inch heels past me on the sidewalks.  TRL doesn't even exist anymore.  My hopes were dashed.    

Yet, with every visit, the city has grown on me a little more.  It may not mesh with the stylized Hollywood version I was expecting on that first trip, but now I appreciate it for what it is.  It's a really big, ugly city that presents every opportunity imaginable for arts, entertainment, food, and culture.  The city really is quite amazing.      

During last week's adventure, we basically wandered around, looked at beautiful things, and ate...a lot.  

We went to places like 5 Napkin Burger  (which has a Boston branch...holla!) and Union Square Cafe.   We stopped in small dinners and bakeries along our walks across town.  I found real Belgian hot chocolate.

We saw tiny dogs without leashes in Central Park, and Monets in The Met.  I saw porcelain cow creamers in every color of the rainbow, and pet enough balls of yarn at Purl Soho to make Martha Stewart blush.  

Eric persuaded me to go to his favorite Jazz club at 11 pm.  (I'm usually in bed by 8:30.)   We listened to great music in a fire-trap of a basement while the subway rumbled past the building.  

We did not have to worry about rushing through lunch to get to nap time on schedule.  We slept in a bit later than usual, and we walked miles at our very own pace.  It was great.

Best of all, by the time our two days were up, I missed our Maddie Bear and was eager to get back to our regular routine with a renewed positive attitude.  After our mini break I was able to enjoy a week of snuggling around the house, visiting playgrounds, princess gawking, and basic Madeline wrangling.  

 Those good fairies really know how to show two parents a good time.   

Monday, February 25, 2013

Princesses...on Ice

I realize I've been a bit MIA for over a whole week, but a combination of vacation and the bloggy blahs has kept me away from the computer. We've been quite busy, so I've got a lot of catching up to do!

Starting with...Disney on Ice!

Madeline is in the princess ZONE these days. Not only does she have princess movies, toys, and dresses...she also rocks the princess 'tude. It's like we have a mini Lady Mary hiding under the kitchen table over the injustice of being forced to clean up her blocks.

That's why when we used a Ticket Master gift card (Thanks Auntie Carol!)  to spontaneously get tickets to Disney on Ice on Saturday afternoon, we just had to let Madeline dress the part.

She picked her Belle dress, which I must say shows excellent taste on her part. My daughter won't be leaving the house in purple seashell bras like some other red headed princesses I know...just saying.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the show, but I was not disappointed. Say what you will about the brainwashing powers of the Disney corporation, but man, do they put on an amazing performance.  For a moment, it actually felt like that twenty-dollar snow cone was worth every penny.  

As for Madeline, she was in heaven!  How could she not be when her favorite princesses were skating right before her very eyes?  She spent the first twenty minutes with her mouth hanging open in awe and wonder.  

Even Rapunzel was there, and that's her absolute favorite.

During intermission, Madeline got a lot of attention for her pretty dress.  There were a good number of little girls dressed up, and it was hilarious watching them checking one another out.  It was total red carpet behavior. (Some kids were all, "Awesome!  She's a princess too!  Let's be BFFs!"  while others were all, " God, I can't believe she wore a Cinderella dress too! How embarrassing!")  There were many other Belles, but I thought Madeline's particular dress was the prettiest. Obviously.

When the show was all over, we asked her what her favorite part was.  "All of dem!" was her enthusiastic reply.

I agree, Maddie Bear.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Around the Mighty Internets

It's been a stressful week.  The Pope resigned, and lightning hit St. Peter's Basilica...twice.  A meteor just wreaked havoc in Russia, and an even bigger asteroid is doing a drive-by.  Too many bizarre coincidences for one week.  

I've been a close eye on the DA14 asteroid all day today via NASA's live footage.  He better not be up to any trying to sneak into planet Earth.

From the footage, he may look like a harmless white speck flitting across a dark screen, but seriously, that boy could mess. you. up.  

Thank goodness I'm on vacation next week.  All these doomsday scenarios playing out in my head are stressing me out.  Somebody buy me a burger...stat.

Meanwhile, you should watch this video:  

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

It's awesome, and innocent, and involves children, and there's grown men in furry costumes.  It's pretty adorable, and it just may make you forget any thoughts of mass extinction or God's wrath you may have been having.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Letters to Maddie Bear: February, 2013

Dear Madeline,

Happy Valentine's Day, little apple of my eye.  Before I started typing tonight, I took a minute to look over your letter from last Valentine's Day when you turned 17 months old.  Not much has changed, and yet you're such a different little lady now.

An entire year ago I sat right here at the same computer, in the same room, at the same time, writing your monthly letter.  While I wrote, I could hear you giggling over the baby monitor.  You took your socks off, and Dada had to go upstairs to put them back on for you.

Twelve months later, it still takes you about an hour to fall asleep after we put you to bed.   You don't seem to mind.  You entertain yourself with books and stuffed animals.  I like listening to you sing or talk over the baby monitor.  I can hear you singing "The Wheels on the Bus" upstairs right now. You still take your socks off most nights, but you also sometimes wiggle out of your pajamas as well.  On those nights, we have to try to stealthily zip you back in your jammies without waking you up.

The thing that amazed me the most about last year's letter was that you were still drinking from a bottle at night.  Even after spending so many months feeding you one last bottle of milk before bed, I can't really remember what that was like.  Now you simply crawl into your big-girl bed, we read a few stories, and you put yourself to sleep without us.

You've been so much fun recently, Madeline.  You're such a silly bean.  You've really just started to understand how to joke and make us laugh on purpose.  If we laugh at something you do or say, you'll repeat it to get us to laugh again.  You make simple jokes, and make silly faces.  

 Sometimes I worry that you've got a slightly warped funny bone.  You tend to find things like people falling or bumping one's head the funniest.

Last night we were pretending to feed Olaf your princess Little People.  I thought it might get you worried, but all you said was, "They're not even done cookin' yet."  Umm, is that why we find your princesses in your toy frying pan so often?  Are you making dinner?  Meanwhile, you've started imitating Olaf's deep accent yourself.  It's pretty hilarious.

You've become much more interested in other children.  For a long time, you'd like to look at other kids or play beside other kids, but now you want to play with other kids.  You've become more insistent about asking to play with the neighbors.  You talk about your cousins Katie Belle and Evelyn constantly.  This afternoon you told me about dumping blocks on your friend at school...which, of course, you found hilarious.

The words that come out of your mouth still astonish me sometimes.  Manners are starting to kick in.  You've become much better about pleases and thank yous.  

You learned a song about the months of the year in school, and you sing it every night.  My favorite part is that you pronounce October as "Toctobah" with a really strong emphasis on the second "O" sound.   We're still not sure where that Boston accent is coming from, Madeline.  We may live in the area, but neither of your parents speak that way.

I'm pleased to say that you've been pretty easy going recently.  The tantrums have been few and far between.  Of course you have the usual meltdowns when you get overtired or overwhelmed, but you've been mostly well behaved.

The only time I really see you get truly upset is when you don't get things placed exactly the way you want them.  For example, only the princess Little People are allowed in the bus.  If Dada tries to put the zookeeper in there, you lose it.
She was angry/scared at Dada's Mr. Potato Head

The other day you got caught coloring on the dining room table with your markers.  I said sharply, "Uh-Oh!  We don't do that!" By the way you reacted, someone may have thought I slapped you.  You buried your face in your hands and wept pitifully.  You wouldn't look at me for a long time.  I discipline you for things on a daily basis, but I could tell you felt really guilty and embarrassed this time.  It broke my heart a little.

It struck me especially because I remember feeling just like that when I got in trouble as a kid.  I hated it so much that I just wanted to crawl up under the table and hide.

Hopefully you understood that I still love you, but that you can't color on the table.  I think you got it.  I talked you through it the best I could.  You said sorry.  Half an hour later you were back to your normal self, but you haven't colored on the table since.  Fingers crossed.

We love you little Madeline.  You're such a bright light in this world.  I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day party at school today.  I can't wait to see your cards when you get home this afternoon.

I love you,


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Valentine's Day Poppers

We've been trapped in the house for the past four days riding out the blizzard and its aftermath.  While I could have used the opportunity to get a lot of useful things done around the house, instead I saw it as some time to do some fun, frivolous crafts instead.  Such as...

Valentine's Day Poppers!

I basically followed two different tutorials for this project.  First, I made a mini photo garland that I saw here: Flavor Pink Then, I made the holiday crackers I saw here: Oh Happy Day

For the garland, I used Photoshop to make a sheet full of miniature heart-shaped photos.
Then I cut the hearts out, threaded them on some string, and looped off the ends with some beads so that I could hang the garland.  

For the crackers, I cut old paper towel rolls in half, and wrapped them in festive, pink paper.  
 I closed one end of the tube off with some ribbon, and filled them up with the garlands and some Valentine's Day goodies.  

I wanted to add glitter, but Eric asked why I would so such a thing to the people I loved.  Therefore, I stuck to much less messy foam hearts and Hershey's Kisses.  
 And some love from Maddie Bear, of course...

Finally, I simply tied the other end up with some matching ribbon to seal everything in.  

The tutorial from Oh Happy Day used actual crackers, which you can buy at party supply stores.  Those will create a popping noise when you pull the tubes open, just like the Christmas tradition.  However, I was snowed in, so I cheated and skipped that step.  Sadly, that means mine won't crack and pop.  Womp. Womp.  

Still, they're awfully cute in spite of their flaws.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Guess Our Snow Dance Worked...

Eric and Madeline must have some killer snow-dance moves, because our walkway went from looking like this:

To this: just 24 hours.

We got over two feet between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  The Governor of our fine commonwealth even instituted a driving ban for all non-essential vehicles.  Anyone caught driving could serve up to a year in prison.  I've never seen that happen.  (What an embarrassing story to share with your fellow inmates..."Hey, buddy?  What you in for?"  " drove during the blizzard of 2013...sir.")

It's been a long, tough weekend for some people in the state, especially those along the water.  Luckily, for us, the snow just meant an extra-long weekend of cuddling and movie-watching from the safety of our living room.   I was worried we'd lose power...but we were fortunate enough to be spared even that.

As soon as the storm had passed, Madeline wasted no time getting to business playing in the snow.  

I'm currently on day four of my long-weekend.  We'll be back to our regular routine by tomorrow.  As for the snow bank in our front yard?  I think that may be sticking around till July.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Downton Dish Week Six

There are no fun Downton snacks again tonight because we were snowed in most of the weekend.  I find that after three days of sitting on my butt eating potato chips, I lose all motivation to do anything ever again.  Besides, it's probably best if I only eat carrot sticks for the next week to keep my thighs from exploding.  We need to bring back those shapeless sac garments the ladies of Downtown seem to be wearing these days.  I bet those things could cover up a lot of potato-chip-eating sins.

Master Bates returns to Downton tonight, which is sure to cause some excitement amongst the staff.  I'm a bit confused over the whole Bates thing.  His wife died from arsenic hidden in a cake, right?  The conclusion was that he had poisoned her, right?  Then the neighbor, Mrs. Bartlett, says she saw his wife baking a cake earlier in the day, right?  This I'm all clear on.

Yet, why does that prove he's innocent?  Oh, his wife was caught baking a cake, let's just set him free!?    Maybe he put the arsenic in the cake later.  Maybe he sprinkled it on the top when her back was turned.  Maybe he shoved it down her throat after she had finished eating her slice of cake.

I read something that suggested she had been taking arsenic for a long time before she died.  Why would anyone do that for recreational purposes?  I'm very confused.  Please clarify.

Meanwhile, I don't like the way things between Thomas and Jimmy are headed.  It makes me squirm in awkwardness to watch his unwanted advances.  Poor Thomas.

I do like the continuing romantic dramas of Daisy, however.  Poor Daisy.  I hope she takes the farm and finds herself a beautiful man.

Also, does anyone else often wonder:
Or, is this just me?

Friday, February 8, 2013

How to Get a Guaranteed Snow Day

First, I want to point out that this guarantee does not hold water if you live in Texas, Hawaii, Florida...or any other place where it is warm.  I take no responsibility for that.

On the night before you want a snow day, you should perform the following tasks:

Step One- Do a snow dance in your front yard: 
Step Two- Eat Ice Cream:  
"Hee-aaay there creamy frozen treat!"
Step Three- Turn your pajamas inside out before you go to sleep:  
Step Four- Sleep with a spoon under your pillow:  

(I find it works best if it's also your ice-cream spoon to help with any midnight hunger pangs.  Be careful, ice cream melts fast...even here in New England.)  

Ta-Da!  You should wake up in the morning, flip on the news, and wait to see your school's name crawl across the bottom of the screen.  Instant snow day!  

P.S.  It also helps if the weather forecast looks like this:  

We're somewhere in the lovely shade of fuchsia.  Twenty-one inches of pure, fluffy-white cold stuff.  

Stay warm and classy, New England.