Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Dress-Up Closet pt 1

I was inspired by an old armoire that's been taking up space in River's room since we moved in.  I've always thought it would make a great dress-up closet, so I decide this year my big Christmas gift to the kids would be to outfit it for them.

Starting in November, I scoured used clothing stores for costumes, accessories, and clothes I could easily convert into costumes.  Since we're leaving for Vegas tonight (and I can't really carry a closet in my luggage), I had an early deadline. 

 My first find at an antique store was a fantastic vintage hat and a pair of gloves (the hat is wrapped in tulle and is just the kind of thing I would have loved as a girl).  I took a child's skirt and added some straps to make a fancy dress.

 The tutu's were a yard sale steal ($1 for both!) from last summer.

 Another fancy dress and a fairy cape I made from an adult skirt.

 I found the knight costume at the Garment District and cobbled together two different pieces from the Salvation Army to make a martial arts outfit.

 Blue from Blues Clues also came from the Salvation Army, and the turtle was River's Halloween costume from 3 years ago complete with homemade shell.

 Two capes made from adult skirts.

 Magician/Evil Villain and Super Hero.

And a last minute Fairy costume from the Garment District, which needed a little work around the seams.

And that's it!  In all I think it cost maybe $30 and I'm sure it's a present that will get use for years to come. I know River will probably lean toward the hero costumes and Lila (once she's older) toward the girly ones.  But I love that there are options and if River wanted to be a fairy and Lila a knight I would be delighted!  

We gave the kids their big presents last night, so I'll have some reaction shots to show you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

20 pictures and this is the best

River's response to the holiday family photo

doing stuff

 Lots of adventures this week!

 River and I baked Christmas cookies - we even managed to decorate most of them before devouring the batch!

 Lila got into the cabinet and opened a box of Bisquick all over the floor.  Her brother helped to clean up (by which I mean he posed for the picture with a broom).  Good work kids!

We met up with some friends at the Science Museum and River had a blast in the K'Nex exhibit.

And Lila enjoyed her time in the fishbowl at the Discovery Center.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hey Lila...

Let's go to the library.

 I love the library!
Me too. Why don't you pick out a book?

 Hmmmm.... what to pick...

 Got one!
Good. Let's find a comfy spot to read.

 Okay.  What now?
Well, open it up.

 Hrmph.  This is hard.
You'll get it.

 Got it!  Now what?
We read it.

Like this?!
Yes.  Yes, that's perfect.

Lila on the move

These kids sure are in sync.  River took his first steps just a few weeks before his first birthday and Lila-girl has done the same thing!  I take full credit for the poor cinematography here - but the star of the show is top notch!

Double click on the video to see the whole screen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

... and oh yeah!

How could I forget one of the most memorable parts of our Thanksgiving, our annual trip to the fire station!?  This was the third year we've gone on an after-dinner walk to the firehouse to bring dessert to the guys (and gals!) and say thanks. The firefighters are always so nice, showing us around and letting River climb on the trucks.  They seem to appreciate the visit as much as we enjoy making it.

As we arrived last night two of the trucks had just gone out on an alarm, but there were a couple guys still on duty.  They seemed excited by River's enthusiasm, and he had a great time asking questions and checking out the equipment.

I'm so thankful for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us - firefighters, police officers, our military - no matter what the day.  I know they must miss being with their families, but their work is appreciated.  THANK YOU!

Scenes from Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving at home this year; just our little group, including Megan.  We had a lovely, mostly mellow day.  Some of us are still recovering from colds and River has completely given up sleeping in his own bed - preferring instead to kick dad in the head and suffocate mom all night.  Lots of sleepless nights plus no outdoor time made River a wee bit manic, but we managed to corral him, play with Lila, and cook a 10-dish meal!  And we made it to the table only an hour and a half past our estimated dinner time!

River and I made these pumpkin centerpieces yesterday.  He did a great job arranging flowers and loved the cat tails.  I love that he's big enough to do these arts and crafts projects with me.

 After wrestling him out of his pajamas (around 3pm) he sullenly agreed to help set the table (by which, I mean he threw the place mats on the floor and let Megan and me set it).  Did I mention the kid hasn't slept in a week?

 Megan looking lovely with my little fox.

 Now here's someone who enjoyed the whole day.  My sweetie Lila.

 Yup.  The best group shot we could manage. 

 Lila needed a little cranberry fix before dinner.  After watching The Walking Dead, all I can think is BRAINS.

 My handsome chef.

 Ornery booger.

 Aaahhh!  Get the giant forks away from him!

 Our massive feast... for three adults, one preschooler, and a baby.  Even after taking part in so much of the cooking, River stuck with rolls for the night.  Thank goodness we love leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Doyles!  Hope your holiday was as fun and memorable as ours!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

River's Gallery

With two years of art classes under his belt and now daily access to art at preschool, River has made countless paintings, sculptures, and collages.  I can't bear to throw any of his creations out just yet, but we are amassing quite a pile and more comes home everyday.  I display what I can and store the rest, but I was inspired to take it a bit further during a conversation with the little artiste last night.

He was telling a story in which one of his sculptures was displayed in a museum and everyone came to look at it.  I told him we could do that at home: pull key pieces of his work out and display it like a gallery.  We could even have an opening with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.  With the mention of snacks he was sold and with the thought of cocktails I was.

Together, River and I worked on choosing the artwork and hanging it (at least until he got bored).  Then the whole family assembled to mingle and enjoy his hard work.

 Thom and River prepare our snack table.

 Helping to pour sparkling cider.  One wall of paintings in the background.

 The sculpture table.  The clay piece is entitled "a-bug-a-bug"

 "Good guy ship with rain protection"

 "My Family" from this September and two untitled finger paintings from 2009 (his early work)

 River's favorite, "Untitled" in sand

 Our sitter, Megan, joined the festivities. 

Lila was very "into" the art; her brother was patient with her hands-on approach.

Overall it was a great success.  We had a wonderful time looking at some of River's past and current creations.  He really enjoyed talking about his work and I loved celebrating it in a memorable way.

If I had planned this more in advance, I would have taken the time to make cards with the name of each piece (if titled), the medium, and the artist's thoughts.  As it is, I think this will be just the first of many gallery openings our home will see.

Monday, November 01, 2010


Somewhere between chopping veggies, keeping Lila away from the oven, and picking up dropped crayons, River asked me whether a person could bleed so much that they died*.  Perhaps if the usual dinnertime chaos swirling around weren't so, well - chaotic - that question would have set off alarm bells; but as it was, I said, "Yeah.  If they lost enough blood a person could bleed to death," and went back to chopping and guarding and helping.

*(edited:  This might seem like a bleak and startling question for a 3 year old, but River is very curious about physiology and we often have frank discussions about how the body works.)

Flash forward a few days and River is getting a much needed haircut.  I finish up, brush him off, and start to vacuum when I hear a shout of alarm.  He's staring at his thumb and saying, "You cut me, mom!"  I KNOW his fingers weren't anywhere near the scissors but he does indeed have a little nick on his thumb.  I examine it and proclaim, "It's not too bad.  Need a kiss?"  Usually that would be a perfectly acceptable remedy, but today River seems really freaked out.

"No mom!  You cut me!  I need a band aid!"

Still not sure why this particular scratch has him so stressed, I patch him up and we all move on.  Later that night I'm sitting on the couch working on a photo project when River brings me a mushroom slicer from the kitchen.  I have no idea why he's brought it out, but I tell him it's too dangerous to have laying around and he needs to bring it back to the kitchen and put it away.  A few minutes later I hear shrieks of alarm.  Thom gets to him first and then calls for me to help.  I see blood gushing from River's index finger and realize he's cut himself on the slicer.

We get the cut washed off and it's a tiny little thing, but it's a bleeder.  River is screaming and clawing at his dad, and when he says, "Make it stop!  I don't want all my blood to come out and die!" it suddenly hits me.  That little throwaway conversation we had days before was not such a throwaway.  We get the cut cleaned and bandaged and River calms down measurably.

I do my best to explain that he can't bleed to death from little cuts like that, but he's having none of it.   The idea of mortality has hit him hard and reassuring words are not helping.  His fear of blood has gotten so extreme that River made us come home from Trick-or-Treating to get a band aid for the minuscule scrape he got from falling on his hand.  There wasn't even any blood.

I'm not sure what to do about the cloud of doom hanging over my little boy's head.  We started having conversations about death a few months ago, and while it often makes him sad to think of other people dying, this is the first time he's really started understanding his own mortality.  In the last two days I've heard him say, "I'm going to stay downstairs in my room all the time.  There's no sharp things down there," and "I'm not going outside.  I might fall."

If you know what an adventurous, rough-and-tumble boy he is, you understand how out of character these statements are. I know it's important for him to work through these ideas in his own way, but I sure wish I could save him the trauma of it.

This kid's got way too much adventuring to do to live in a plastic bubble.

P.S.  Here are some before and after shots of his hair.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hello to you too

Upon waking yesterday morning, Lila saw our cat, Edgar, in the kitchen, waved to him and said, "Hi!" She said "Hi!" again about half a dozen times yesterday to me, River, daddy, and my friend Jonathan. Aside from Ma-ma-ma (me) and ba-ba-ba (what she uses for her "boys," daddy and River), "Hi" is her first word. It's so indicative of her personality that a friendly greeting would be high on her list. Lila continues to be my angel baby - sweet and happy, curious and able to entertain herself. She has her determined moments; times when a freight train barreling toward her coudn't keep her from her goal.  But for the most part she's a bright light of love in this house.

I'll be excited to see what words come next - what inspires her, what she wants or likes.  Puppies and sunshine, I bet.  I was looking over this post about River's first words and was amused to remember that "Hi" came much later on his list, and long after "trash," "digger," "beer," and "boobies." 

It's all about priorities.

Monday, October 18, 2010

browner pastures

The Banks Street Doyles are officially packed up and moved out.  Crystal and Finn flew out a couple weeks ago and Kevin drove toward Vegas Friday night (he should be pulling in soon).  We came over that afternoon to help with the final packing up the POD and cleaning.

River hauled a ton of stuff.

 Lila relaxed.
 Shawna worked hard on finishing the kitchen.

And Kevin answered the question of where the spare keys and museum card ended up - attached to the corn chips, of course!

"Have a good day at Las Vegas" guys!! We'll miss you!!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

shame is a great motivator

 I was inspired to take some "After" pics of all my various projects...

 New blue walls and T-Rex with "Sera" the triceratops.  And I'd like to say that "duff" cap with the bottle opener is River's, but it's actually his dad's.

 A massive apatosaurus and River's bunk bed.

 Pterodactyl? Pteranodon? Not sure.

 River's new bookcase (which holds half of his books and quarter of his toys).

 Bean bags

 Dinosaur habitat

Tada! There you have it folks!