Monday, November 25, 2013

Tooth Fairy Alert

Rachel has been longing to join the big kid world of lost teeth for months.  She's talked about the Tooth Fairy and checked all her teeth for looseness on a regular basis.  A few weeks ago, she discovered that one of her bottom front teeth was really and truly loose!  She has been aggressively wiggling it ever since.  Tonight, perhaps two minutes after she'd been tucked into bed, she shouted "My tooth fell out!"  And it had. 
Rachel was wild with excitment, hopping up and down and poking her tongue through the new space.  Katherine dug out the glow-in-the-dark tooth holder (which helps the Tooth Fairy a LOT) and we deposited the teeny tiny tooth inside.  Rae was worried that the Tooth Fairy would think it was Kate's, but I assured her that if the tooth was in her room, then the Tooth Fairy would know it was hers.
Turning 6 has been SO exciting!  Happy dreams, my gap-toothed girl.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

6 Years Old

Today is Rachel's 6th birthday.  She's been looking forward to today since November 23rd last year!  She was awake at 5:30 this morning, wanting to know if it was time for her party yet...

Several weeks ago, I asked Rae what sort of theme she wanted for her birthday party.  She asked for a slumber party and I said no, but added that wearing pajamas would be fine.  She lit up and said, "A pajama party!  That's what I want!"  So, a pajama party it was!  And if you're having a pajama party, a fabulous new nightgown is in order.
Rachel's birthday list included pretty much anything she'd ever seen in the store, but the one thing she had asked repeatedly for was a doll.  It had to have long hair and it had to be blonde.  This made me cringe a bit, but it was what she really wanted.  So, today she received her doll.  Was she ever happy about that!
I found her later, wearing her princess nightgown and a tiara, reading her favorite book (called 26 Princesses) to her doll. 
At lunch time we hosted Rae's "friend party".  Three of her friends came over in their pajamas for pancakes.
I served syrup and fruit toppings, but the sprinkes and whipped cream in a can were far more popular!
There was a lot of birthday hype and running around and a whole lot of giggling.  I pulled out the nail polish to calm everyone down.  This pleased them greatly.
After that, all four little girls were happy to just play with Rachel's new toys.
After the party, I insisted that Rachel lie down for a rest.  Even though she's 6.  She slept for two hours and we all were happier then.

Tonight was the Family Party and most of the adults came in pajamas.  (Poppy doesn't usually wear pajamas, but Rae had warned him that he had to wear pants.  He bought pajama pants just for the occasion!).  Rachel was thrilled to have all of her family around her.  And she was pleased to open more presents.
One of her gifts was a pink bunny hat/scarf/mittens combo.  Poppy wore it for a while...
...and then cousin Bethanne did.
Rachel picked Grandpa to be the official card reader.
After presents and pizza, we had dessert - cake batter pancakes.  They looked like pancakes and tasted like cake - with sprinkles!
Happy 6th Birthday, Rachel Fu Shen!  You light up our lives and we love you dearly!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Goodbye, Uncle George

My Great-Uncle George died today.  He was 101 years old, the oldest person I have ever known.  He was a sweet, gentle man with a great sense of humor and a way of making people feel at ease.  Uncle George was generally quiet, but loved having conversations with people one-on-one.  He liked to talk about his immigrant childhood, about working a dairy farm, about all of the amazing changes and inventions he'd seen in his long life.  His voice was so much like my grandpa's, that it always made me smile.  My grandpa died nearly 30 years ago, so listening to George was a way to bring his memory back to life.  Uncle George has always been a loving presence in my life, but one of the things I have most loved about him is how he embraced my girls and claimed them as his family. 

Uncle George was delighted that I named my oldest child Katherine, after his beloved younger sister. 
He and Katherine had a "thing" for each other and were always happy to spend time together.
I loved watching him pretend to pull off his thumb and other silly little tricks that he had been entertaining kids with for more than sixty years (my mom remembers him doing the same tricks for her as a child).

By the time Rachel came home, Uncle George was growing more frail and had been moved to a nursing home.  We didn't see him as often, but he was always pleased when we came to visit.  He did his thumb trick and made his favorite jokes about holsteins and "halfsteins".  He was still the same old Uncle George.
Uncle George was the end of his generation.  I am so glad that he was here to meet my girls, the latest generation, and to show them what family means.  We love you forever, Uncle George.  Thank you for being such a wonderful part of our lives.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The I Love America Concert

The girls had a school music program tonight. It was the one and only school program that they will BOTH be in!  The program had a patriotic theme and I have been listening to them sing the songs over and over (and over some more) in the car on the way to school for weeks.
Katherine, as always, sang her heart out.
She loves to sing and she loves the excitement of performing.
She especially loves it when there are actions or props or dancing to go with the songs.
This was Rachel's fourth school program (just the first at this school).  She never sang at her preschool programs, but I am proud to say that the 4th time is the charm! 
She sang every word and did every action.
At different times during the concert the kids had to wait while other classes sang.  Waiting is boring.
Really, really boring!
I was a bit worried, because Rachel was standing between the two orneriest little boys in her class.
As it turned out, she kept them in line!
I'd say the concert was a smashing success!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Happy Naan Cafe

[This is not my usual post - no pictures and a different writing style.  But I can't stop thinking about this little adventure and I want to get it down on "paper"!]

Katherine, my fourth grade foodie, has been asking to try Indian food for the past two years.  I keep telling her to talk to Aunt Robie about that, because I don't know enough about Indian food to order it in a restaurant.  Today Kate's food wish is coming true.  We have come to Kansas City because she has had a very minor surgical procedure that, for insurance reasons, could only be performed by a specialist at the children's hospital four hours away.  My sister Robin has come along to be a companion, chief navigator, and moral support.  And because her favorite Indian restaurant is here.

Robie directs us to a non-descript strip mall in an office park in the leafy suburb of Overland Park.  It's an odd place for a restaurant, and at first I don't even see it.  Then I notice the sign - Korma Sutra.  Katherine is oblivious to the word play, but Robie and I have a private smirk.  The restaurant is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place with Crayola colored walls and kitschy Indian decorations.  It is obviously an informal place, but there are linen napkins and heavy glass drinking goblets on the tables.  The owner greets us by shouting "Happy naan!" and leads us to a corner table. He urges us to try the buffet and "Eat, eat, eat!"

We grab plates and start down the line.  The first dish is labeled "goat".  Katherine spoons some on to her plate, commenting "I've never had goat."  As she serves herself some of everything on the buffet, nearly all of which is unrecognizable, I marvel at my 9 year old who will eat anything!  Of course, Robin and I will eat just about anything, too.

By the time we return to our table, glasses of mango lassi (a yogurt drink) and chai (spiced tea) have appeared at our places.  The owner runs over hollering "Happy naan! Happy naan!" and flings flatbread on our table.  A minute later he appears with a tureen of some sort of meat in red sauce and sits in front of Kate.  "For you!" he says.  "Not spicy!  Delicious!"  And it is.  We eat and eat - chicken in red sauce, chicken in orange sauce, potatoes in yellow sauce, some sort of creamed spinach, red-dyed tandoori chicken, rice, mango pudding, fried dough soaked in syrup.  I have no clue what most of it is, but it tastes fabulous.

As we eat, a waitress continually refills our chai cups and tops off our lassi drinks.  The owner pushes more naan.  Katherine sucks the meat off a goat bone and announces, "I want to come back here.  We should leave Dad at home, though.  The only things he would eat are rice and naan.  And those doughnut things."  Her own plate has been scraped clean.  A moment later she is off for seconds.  Robie watches us both in amusement and satisfaction.

I look around the restaurant, which is suddenly packed.  Every table and nearly every chair are occupied.  There are a few middle aged couples, lots of business men, and many young Indian men stuffing themselves with comfort food.  The owner is everywhere, setting up tables, greeting people, and shouting "Happy naan!" at a frenetic pace.  Every few minutes he rushes out of the kitchen with a dish of food and deposits it on a table, slopping helpings on the plates of his startled customers.  "Chili makes you strong!" he instructs.  "Happy naan!"  It is a fun place to be.

At some point, we realize that we are beyond full.  More naan has just been tossed in our bread basket and the lassis topped off yet again, but we are too stuffed to touch them.  The ever entertaining owner acts as if we have disappointed him by not eating thirds and offers to pack food up for us to take home.  We pay our bill and he foists to-go chai on Robie and me and gives Kate a handful of balloons.  We waddle outside with our stomachs aching and climb into the car in a sort of food coma.  "I love Indian food!" Katherine says and we all agree that it has been a perfect meal.  Happy naan!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Leaf Play

The girls love raking leaves and then jumping in the piles.  The dog loves playing in leaves, too.  This week I ventured into the backyard in time to see Maggie leaping into piles, often on top of the girls. 
I suggested a group photo.  Maggie didn't get the concept.
Let's try again.
And again.
And one more time.
There we go!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Beauty

I enjoy living in a place with four distinct seasons.  Spring is the season I most look forward to, but fall?  Fall is the most beautiful.

It's not just leaves, either.  There are so many interesting things in nature in the fall.  The other day, the girls and I discovered an osage orange tree.  It was nearly leafless, but covered with hedgeapples.  Don't they look like weird green brains?
There are lots of wild turkeys in our area.  On our fall photo walk the girls and I encountered a large flock of them wandering through a wooded neighborhood.  The girls were amazed at what BIG birds they are!  Their calls and gait and mannerisms are just so goofy!

 This is our local collage (and my alma mater).  It is pretty all year, but gorgeous in the fall.
And the view from the top of all of those steps?  It is spectacular!  I do so love fall...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Photo Walk

The trees in our town are absolutely gorgeous right now!  When I drive around, I see a perfect red or orange or gold tree and think "That one is my favorite!" A block later a think "No, that one!" The tree in our own front yard looks like it is on fire.  It is so red that the light filtering into the living room has a reddish hue.  I love it!

Yesterday I gave the girls my old cameras and all went on a photo adventure to take pictures of fall.  They were thrilled with the idea! It ended up being such a fun activity.

Rachel LOVED having a camera.  She took many, many pictures, mostly of the sky or the ground or random parts of me.  (She doesn't have the whole photography thing figured out yet, but she is certainly enthusiastic!)  She did end up with a couple of suprisingly good shots, though.

Katherine must have taken 75 pictures, mostly of odd objects.  Thank goodness for digital cameras!  She understands how to compose photographs, though, and some of hers were great.
I took some beautiful photos of the fall foliage, but my favorite pictures of the day were of my girls and their cameras!

I think my girls agree that one of the best ways to celebrate the season is from behind a camera lens!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way