Friday, July 31, 2009

Car Games

When you're on a 12 hour car drive (that takes 13 1/2 hours), you get bored. You get tired of listening to music and run out of interesting things to talk about.

At about the 9 hour point of our drive, we'd hit the wall and Mr. Bean and I started playing our new game: Name movies that __________.

Name movies that have a cornfield chase scene.
X-Files: Fight the Future
North By Northwest

Name movies that take place largely in a hotel.
Home Alone 2

Name movies where the car won't start.
Back to the Future (1)
Final Destination
The Glass House

We did several more categories than this, but the first 3 categories all had Joyride in them which was pretty funny to us. Can you add more movies to any of these categories?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Road Trip

Our bucket-o-fun is packed, our bags are packed and the car is gassed up.

We are leaving this morning for Nashville to attend a wedding but spending the long weekend with my parents in Huntsville, Alabama! String Bean helped pack our bags last night and brought us clothing as well as her library books and homemade paper plate noise makers.

While you are at work, waiting for your husband to return from work or just going crazy because of your children be thankful you are not on a 12 hour road trip.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just We Moms on Twitter

Well, Just We Moms is on Twitter! If you tweet, we'd love to follow you!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Purging 101

On the heels of us cleaning out our storage, here are my tips for getting rid of extra stuff you don't need:

  • If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.
  • If you must keep some sentimental things from your childhood because your mother sold all your Star Wars action figures, decide in advance to limit it to one or two boxes and stick to it. (Boy, I hope Mr. Bean reads this!)
  • Consider giving a treasured item you haven't used for over a year to someone who can really use it. Although it is great to give your extras to charity, if you're like me and you have a really hard time getting rid of something of sentimental value, you may find it easier to part with the item if you give it to a friend who can use it so you know it is being appreciated.
  • Have limited storage space like we do and you'll be forced to part with things you don't use!

Monday, July 27, 2009

R.I.P. Walter Payton

It is with great sadness that I report to you the passing of Walter Payton the chinchilla. A funeral service and interment will be held at the home of a family friend tonight around 8 pm. Walter was a good chinchilla. He only chewed up a few of our things. String Bean loved feeding him. Mr. Bean loved caring for him. He will be missed.

Walter Payton April 2006 to July 27, 2009

Ironically, like his namesake, Walter died at a very young age for a chinchilla.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

County Fair Recap

Tonight the county fair ended. Although I always enjoy the week, I am always happy to see it end, too! It just gets tiring to go every day. One advantage to going to the fair on a daily basis this year was watching String Bean go from terrified and fearful of the animals at the petting zoo to becoming comfortable with the animal movements and noises and finally today seeing her get thrilled to pet the calf, goats and bunny.

As we look forward to next year, we are already thinking about photos we'd like to take, crafts we will consider making, and the delicacies only found at the fair we will enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Story Time Programs

Today was the final day of String Bean's story time class at the public library. We will definitely be signing her up for the class again for a few reasons.

The most important reason is socialization. Although she didn't spend a lot of time playing with other kids, she did spend a lot of time interacting with other kids. Whether she was having toys or books stolen from her or stealing from them, she was starting to learn about interacting with her peers. In my brief experience as a teacher, I found many of the preschool and kindergarten students spent a considerable time learning to socialize with their peers. What better way to help String Bean get a jump start on school than to encourage socialization at a young age?

The other really important thing about the program was its repetitiveness. As one of the librarians said to us the first week, "Parents, this repetitiveness may seem boring to you, but the predictability is thrilling for your child." As the time went on, I saw how true this was. Class always opened with the "Choo-Choo" song. Besides having to sing it over and over at home, String Bean giggled with delight when it was time to start story time and the song began. Today, on our way in, she made the baby sign for book and immediately started the choo-choo sounds of the song. When I said, "Yes, we are going to go sing the Choo-Choo song!" String Bean picked up her pace toward the Children's department of the library.

If you are looking for something to do with your child, I highly suggest your local public library as a resource for wonderful literacy programs that are free! (My favorite 4 letter word!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Christmas in July

Anyone who knows me even slightly, knows that I am a huge disorganized mess who does everything at the last minute. However, this year, now that I have turned all crafty, I'm planning on making Christmas presents. This requires planning and time. So I'm starting now. This morning I spent over 2 glorious hours at JoAnn Fabrics and my mind is filled with ideas and patterns that just need to be expressed. I used coupons, too!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fair Recap Day 1

We went to the fair today mainly to see how we did in the photo contest. Mr. Bean ended up with 7 ribbons and a special ribbon (judge's choice) which really means nothing except getting a second ribbon with his first prize. I ended up with 6 ribbons. That means roughly 1 in 3 of my entries got a prize. Not bad.

We also found Los Lobos was playing the concert and sat in on a few numbers. It was free this year (although general entry fee is much higher this year presumably to cover the cost of the free evening entertainment).

String Bean enjoyed "Ag-venture Land" which is the kiddie play area with all agricultural-type exhibits. Her favorite was riding the kiddie tractors around the course and harvesting "eggs" and "apples" from the fake hens and fake trees. She also enjoyed the petting zoo. Really, what kid wouldn't?

I picked up some local honey to help aid me in my allergies. We do it all again tomorrow. Perhaps there will be a new adventure awaiting us!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Attention: Mothers of Boys

All you out there who are mothers of boys. Yes, you in the back! I'm talking to you too. Listen up. This is a very important public service announcement*:

Do not, I repeat, do not give your young sons cigarette lighters as toys. They will get together with other boys their age and take turns burning one another.

I don't care how great your son is with a lighter. I don't care if your child has a fire safety certificate to prove it. His friends are likely to burn one another, catch clothes on fire and burn down the whole park, building, fort, forest...

Just. Don't. Do. It.

*This public service announcement brought to you by the four boys burning one another with lighters on the midway of the fairgrounds today while passersby dropped off their various baked goods, crafts, animals and other items to show. (And while a van nearly hit them because they were chasing one another around threatening to burn one another, but that's another PSA about the hazards of driving down the midway at the fairgrounds.)

Monday, July 20, 2009


Every mom knows that going to the movies takes an act of God. The last time I went to one was over Christmas to see Tale of Desperaux which I insisted on because I'd read the book. Poor Mr. Bean endured it. (The book was much better than the movie.)

It is just killing me to watch television and see ads for movies that I'd love to see. Here is a list of recent (and upcoming) movies that I'd love to go see:


My Sister's Keeper

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Public Enemies

Julie and Julia (August 2009)

Time Traveller's Wife (August 2009)

One of these days we'll just have to bite the bullet and go out on a date night to see a movie!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tonight's Random Thoughts

My fingers are full of ink and are sticking together.

I'm extremely tired despite a nap this afternoon.

It is July 19 and I'm wearing a sweater because it is freezing outside.

Because of the cool weather, my allergies have been tolerable this summer.

I'm tired of seeing the Canada commercial (the one with the seal on the kayak).

String Bean has a lot of stuffed animals.

How did this house become so cluttered?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

County Fair Photos

It is a tradition (3 years running) that Mr. Bean and I enter photos into our county fair. Today we are editing our photos and uploading them to Costco to be printed. Tomorrow, we will mount all our photos and Tuesday we take them to the fair!

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of some of my favorites we are entering this year. None of these have been cropped or color corrected, yet. Enjoy!

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Entering String Bean on the toilet eating blueberries in the "funny" category.

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Funny. Black and white.

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String Bean enjoys a bucket of water in the water category.

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Mr. Bean, his sister, and her boyfriend posing for the photo of 2 or more people. this will be turned into black and white.

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Mr. Bean and String Bean dressed up for String Bean's movie debut. 2 or more people-color.

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Reflections (taken at same mansion as the photo of Mr. Bean with sister and boyfriend).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hootie the Owl

I recently won this owl from Mini Monty Mama.

Upon its arrival, String Bean immediately claimed him as her own. Mini Monty Mama also sent a piece of owl fabric that we've been using as a baby sling (or "owl sling") for String Bean to carry Hootie around in. It is quite a sight.

Now we just need a Blowfish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kids and Money

I recently discovered a great website, MomTV. They show live shows on various topics where the moderator has a webcam and invites others to join either with webcams or with in the chat room.

I recently caught Vicki Hoefle's show, "Your Family, Your Solutions." Vicki is a mom to 5 kids. Some are out of the house and others are in high school. On July 14, she had an amazing show on how to teach your children about money. I would encourage you to watch it, but it seems they have been having techincal difficulties with recording that particular night's show.

Here are the main points:

-Start giving your kids money as soon as they stop putting it in the mouths (age 3ish).
-Give the allowance as $1 per year of life. 3 year olds get $3 per week, 4 year olds get $4 per week. This will eliminate the "Please buy it for me mommy!" arguments while you're shopping.
-Allow them to save some, spend some, and give some away.
-Don't withhold due to behavior or chores. Always give it to them so they can learn how to manage it.
-Watch your child squander it the first several weeks. In time he/she will learn that money has power and if it is saved it will go further.
-Don't hold their money for them. Make them responsible. If they leave it somewhere, put it in a vacation jar for the family. This teaches responsibility.
-Make a family rule that for every penny spent on candy/soda, a penny must be put aside for the dentist because mom and dad don't pay for cavities.
-When your child is old enough to handle their money well, get them an ATM card. (The bank will say they don't do it for kids, but they will if you press them.) This starts teaching them about credit without causing damage. (After all, they watch you whip out the debit card all the time!)
-When your child hits age 12, cut allowance in half. Make them earn the other half each week. This teaches work ethic.
-When your child reaches age 14, cut allowance completely. Now it is time for them to seek out ways to earn their own income.
-For children who have expensive tastes in clothing, tell them what the family contribution will be. Anything above that will be up to them to cover. Ex: Our family offers $30 toward sneakers. If you want something more expensive than that, you can cover the extra cost.
-Tell your children early on that you do not lend money to people you love as it causes problems. Teaching this to your child at age 3, 4, and 5 will prevent them from asking for large sums of money when they are older. They know the family rule.

There are so many other gems in this webscast that I have not captured here and Vicki does a much better job at explaining how this works. She also gives great examples of exactly what to say to your child to help them learn about managing the money they are given.

While I don't always have the same opinions and beliefs as Vicki, I love her idea of teaching kids about money. We are still a bit off from that with String Bean, but I'm seriously considering implementing this method in the future.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reading List Part 2

Our public library's summer reading program is in full swing. Previously I shared with you the first third of my reading journey. I finished my 6th book today, which brings me to having finished the 2nd third of the reading program. Here are the books I chose:

The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I chose this book because the family's lifestyle fascinates me. I wanted to get (in their own words) some of the reasons why they chose the life they did and how they make it all work. It was quite fascinating and a quick, easy read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. Although I have already read a fiction book, I did not write it on my list under the "read a fiction or mystery book" section. This book fulfilled both requirements. It is written from the perspective of an autistic boy who finds his neighbor's dog murdered with a garden fork one night. Besides giving the reader an idea of how the autistic mind works, there is also a glimpse into the life of those across the pond in England.

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee. I chose this to fulfill the "classic" requirement of the reading program. Now that I'm 30, and I'm reading it again for the first time since high school, I must say that I appreciate it a lot more. I also get the historal and cultural implications I would never have understood in high school.

For the final third of the reading program, I have no restrictions on the books that I must read. I can even do audiobooks! So, what suggestions do you have for my final three books? ( I won't be reading any Anne of Green Gables or anything by the Austen sisters. Much too girly for my likes.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today's News

You may remember yesterday that we reported on an unfortunate scene in Chicago at the North Avenue Park. A woman's purse was stolen and dumped under a park bench. According to the phone call Mandie of "Just We Moms" received today, the owner of that purse has been reunited with her belongings and is ever-so-thankful to have recovered a portion of what was lost.

In other news, the beloved horse, June, who has made Cosley Zoo home for the past several years died yesterday. She was 14 years old. According to one of the zookeepers, she was sick and taken to the vet, but did not survive. She died on Sunday evening, July 12, 2009. June was an American Cream Draft Horse and shared her stall with Pro the Shetland Pony. Pro appeared to be somewhat lost while on display today. Normally he is seen following June as she wanders in the horse enclosure. The zookeeper said, "He knows something is different, but I don't think he knows what," as she sympathetically scratched him behind his ears. Since June was not in the stall with Pro at her time of death, the keeper staff does not believe she is mourning at this time. According to Danielle, a zoo spokesperson, they hope to get a new companion for Pro since horses thrive with companionship.

There will be a memorial fund to remember June, but details are not yet available. If you are interested in making a donation in honor of June, you can do so by contacting the staff of the Cosley Zoo.

On a personal note, while the ducks are String Bean's favorite zoo animals by far, she is always thrilled to see the horses. Today was a sad day as the big white horse no longer is with us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


The Beans (Mr. Bean, String Bean, and I) spent Saturday afternoon with our friends, Whitney and Shawn, the Newlyweds. We walked from their apartment to the North Avenue Beach and the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. On our way back, we saw an empty park bench with a purse underneath it.

As we approached we quickly realized that this had been a grab and ditch job. There were receipts strewn all about and a makeup bag with makeup spilling out beside the bag. The wallet was in plain view at the top of the bag.

Being the astute CSI-in-training* that I am, I did not touch anything. I considered drawing a chalk like around the bag and putting up my crime scene tape. Instead, I just called the cops because, after all, if my purse were stolen and someone found it, I'd want it turned in to the authorities (and dusted for prints, and surveillance checked, etc.). I suppose we "do-gooders" did our good deed for the day.

Whitney, Mr. Bean, String Bean, and I waited until Officer Doyle, one of Chicago's finest (who really shouldn't be wearing teeny-weeny shorts like that with those white, white legs) showed up. After he looked through the bag and confirmed there was no money or credit cards in the wallet, we got a public service announcement courtesy of the Chicago Police Department about being safe when visiting the beaches surrounding Lake Michigan. "Carry very little cash, one credit card and your ID. Leave your social security cards at home and don't carry a big bag like this one. This girl had too much stuff with her which made her a target."

Thanks, Officer Doyle.

Ironically, I got a message from Whitney today that her wallet had been stolen earlier in the day and as we sat talking to the officer, someone was out there racking up charges on her credit cards. Oy vey. Be sure to check Whitney's blog for the full details on that one. (And praise the Lord for fraud protection!)

*Clearly, my CSI training comes from watching numerous episodes of the series. It is just a matter of time before someone from the crime lab calls asking for my assistance on a case.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Culinary Tips

I am less than a master in the kitchen. I have few skills. Just ask Mr. Bean or my brother-in-law about "The Great Pancake Incident." Or, ask Mr. Bean how he "enjoyed" my meatloaf this week.

I just cut up a plethora of fruit and vegetables (with Mr. Bean's help) for a welcome home party for my friend Aimee. Here's where I need your tips. The damage is already done, but for future reference, how do you cut cauliflower without mangling it into little bits? I'd be happy to hear your tips on that one.

I put Mr. Bean in charge of the strawberries and oranges. They turned out fine. I've done broccoli and peppers a million times. We bought baby carrots so they required no preparation. (That's my kind of cooking!)

I must say I did a fantastic job on the celery. I think my mom must have made celery a lot as a kid because I had flashbacks to watching her cut celery the whole time I was doing it. I felt completely at ease as I sliced my way through that vegetable.

Share you cauliflower tips. And while you're at it, I'll take your meatloaf and pancake tips, too.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Yesterday, I pulled off our street onto Main Street. In front of me was a 1985 booger green Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale. What a flashback to my high school days when I drove my own "booger machine" to and from school.

I pulled up to the stoplight to turn left and the Delta 88 was in the lane next to me. I think the 60ish year old man driving was eating figs, but I took the opportunity to look at the car and remember the thin double white stripe that went from bumper to bumper. I peered into the car and could almost feel the feel of the seats and started to reach up to change the gears on the column shift- then my light turned green so I went on my merry way.

I was surprised that I saw the same car parked across the street from our street. It appears Olds guy works for Walgreens, so I'll be having many flashbacks in the coming weeks and months.

If my sister had remembered to put oil in the booger machine, I could have driven it to the classic car show that String Bean, Mr. Bean, and all the dogs of our fine city attended this evening. Well, if I hold onto my current car for just a few more years, I can enter that in.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Impress Your Kids


Parents who are looking to raise godly children need to check out the new site, Impress Your Kids. Author, Amanda (who also writes for Oh Amanda) and Leigh, both mothers of two, co-author this site. In their own words, here is what the site is all about:

When my daughter was 2 years old she came home from church one day with a magnet that said, “Love God with all your heart.” (taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9) We looked at it, read it once or twice and stuck it on the fridge. Then promptly forgot about it.

A few days later, we were making a card for Daddy. She was supposed to be writing “I love you, Daddy” but instead began to chant, “Love God with all your heart!” I was dumbfounded! My little toddler was quoting scripture!!

So, right then, I knew it was time I actively put God’s Word in her heart! I started doing an alphabet letter of the week, a craft and a verse. We call them our “ABC verses”. I began posting our crafts and activities on this blog to keep myself on track. One of my great bloggy friends, Leigh has a son the exact same age as my daughter. When she decided to do the same type of crafts and memorization with her son, I asked her to post, too. (She’s way more creative than me, so I need some ideas!)

As our kids have gotten older and we’ve moved past our “ABC verses” AND as parenting has gotten more intense, this blog has morphed into a toolbox of sorts. This is the blog you didn’t know you need. We post our parenting struggles, our triumphs, our creative ideas, our fun activities, special events and silly stuff—so dig around in our toolbox, use what you need and watch your kids grow into the life God has planned for them.

Text taken from ImpressYourKids.org at http://impressyourkids.org/?page_id=11.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Piggy Bank

Amy mentioned on Facebook one day that Cashew was up for grabs. String Bean put down a bid, her entire life savings of 5 cents.

Since then, she attended the 4th of July parade and thanks to the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, her savings increased 60% to 8 cents as reported here.

Thanks to tonight's visit to the laundry room, she now has another cent to add to that collection. That is a 12.5% increase in just a few days. Take that, Bernie Madoff!

All this collection of coins leads me to the dilemma of what to do with them. Right now, they are taking up residence next to String Bean's shoe collection. I'd like to keep them a bit safer from grubby hands that might decide they'd make a good choking hazard. I could put them in a jar, but that's not very cute.

All this brings me to today's question. What sort of "savings account" should we start for String Bean? I am soliciting all ideas including the traditional piggy bank to an envelope shoved under her mattress.

What kind of bank should we get for String Bean?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Words

At 19 1/2 months, String Bean is starting to talk! We typically get the first sound of a word when we ask her to say something. Instead of "cheese" we get "ch". When we hear "K" we know she wants crackers. The following words are generally said in their entirety: Mom, Dad, more, Pop (grandpa's name) and ball.

Today while flipping through the channels, I paused on the news which happened to be showing baseball highlights. String Bean dropped what she was doing and yelled (complete with fist in air): Go Cubs!

Mr. Bean would have appreciated this more if the first phrase she said unprompted was: Go Bears. Sorry, dear, if only String Bean were born a few months earlier or later.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Welcome Home!

We recently returned from vacation. There is nothing like walking in the front door of your home after having been away for awhile. I love to use my own bathroom, sleep in my own bed and know where everything is in my home.

My friend, Aimee, has been gone for a year in Israel. She's been teaching there and comes back tomorrow! I have spent a few summers overseas and remember coming back to America. Simple things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches gave me the warm fuzzies. I can't imagine how nice it will be to return home after a year of being away.

What do you like best about coming home?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fizzled Out Fourth

We visited the Farm for the Forth of July this year as we do every year. The weather the day we arrived (Friday) was gorgeous. The weather the day we left (Sunday) was gorgeous. The weather on Saturday was cold and rainy!

Despite the rain, the parade went on as expected. For a tiny town in the heart of Illinois farming country, they put on a fairly large parade. It lasted about 45 minutes this year. The citizens of the town must save up all year long to provide candy, gobs of candy, for the parade-goers. String Bean stood in the rain, under an umbrella dutifully waving at every float and picking up the handfuls of candy tossed her way. One float full of junior high baseball players chucked candy at us as if were baseballs. Another float had good ole Abe and his wife (in honor of this being his 200th birthday) threw pennies which increased String Bean's life savings from 5 cents to 8 cents!

We were really looking forward to the fireworks display, as we do every year, since the town's display, lasting over an hour, rivals if not beats anything in our hometown. This was going to be String Bean's first fireworks show.

Due to the heavy rain we'd had all day, the fireworks were called off. Apparently the firemen did not feel the could safely get away if something went awry with the fireworks due to the soggy and slick ground where the fireworks are let off. As a sign in one town said, "July 4th has been rescheduled to July 5th." Unfortunately, due to that pesky thing we call employment, we had to leave this afternoon instead of sticking around for the rescheduled July 4th.

I'm hoping someone shoots off (illegal) fireworks tonight so I can feel like our nation's birthday was truly celebrated this year!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pool Safety

I've mentioned before String Bean's intense fear of swimming. She's only 19 months old, but being near a pool is the most frightening thing for her. How do I know? Well, the crying, screaming and clinging onto whichever body part of mine is closest is a hint.

I've heard a lot of talk about pool safety this summer. I've even had friends suggest to me to enroll String Bean in an infant swimming resourse course. If you are not familiar with this program, go to their website and watch the video. After looking at their marketing videos on the site, you probably are like me thinking, "Wow, what a great idea to keep my kid safe from drowning!" At least that's what I thought until I did some reading.

I checked out a book on infant swimming from our library. While reading it, they referenced this program and I was disturbed. They teach children to float in the water (good) to prevent drowning (good) by simulating drowning (uh....hello?). In short, the instructors dunk your kid under the water and roll them over repeatedly teaching them to right themselves so they can float on their back. The result is a screaming kid (which is exactly what you want them to do when they are floating in a pool without an adult in sight) who is scared to death because of the water they are in. Seems counter productive to me.

String Bean already has that fear of the water! Why would I enroll her in a course that forces her to "simulate" drowning so she can float? We don't have a pool. None of our close friends have a pool. This just isn't a program that would be beneficial to us.

I had a friend post a video of her kid doing the infant resource swimming recently. His screaming and crying throughout the video was too much for me. I turned it off before it was halfway over and after 3 separate dunkings.

The best pool safety tip I have heard this year? Designate a special seat for the adult who is in charge of watching the kids in the pool. Whomever is in this chair is not to be disturbed. No talking to them. No radio. No anything. Every 15 minutes trade with another adult. That way, everyone can enjoy the pool and kids are being carefully watched every second.

For the mental health of my child, we will not be enrolling in Infant Swimming Resources courses. We'll do the gradual introduction instead, which begins with a bucket of water and the hose in the backyard.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Success, at Last.....kinda

I think I mentioned that potty-training was not going very well here. Well, last night, we finally had a bit of success. After bath, Cashew was running around nakey butt, and unbeknownst to Filbert and I, she managed to get some pee-pee in the potty. Unfortunately, the occurance was so startling to her that she got off the potty before she was done and peed a trail across Walnut and Peanut's room. Even more unfortunately, Walnut's beloved green and purple cow/hippo, Moo, was caught in the spray. Filbert and I did a super encouraging potty dance for Cashew, but I'm not sure was enough to counter-act the severe reprimand she was also receiving from Walnut.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh, Canada!

Happy Canada Day!

I ran into a Canadian today and wished her a happy Canada Day and she looked at me funny; I could see the wheels turning. Then, she said, "Oh! That is today!" The pianist who was there (Mr. Bean was in a recording session) immediately began playing the anthem and String Bean danced a jig.

What a way to celebrate Canada!