Sunday, October 31, 2010

My, what big eyes you have

Well, well, well. If it isn't Little Red Riding Hood. And I must agree with the song Papa likes to sing to her, "Hey, there, Little Red Riding Hood ... you sure are looking good." Does my mom know how to sew a Halloween costume, or what? I feared that last year's Mary Clare Bear might be tough to beat, but of course she nailed it again. And in record time because I, ahem, didn't give her much notice.

Since I couldn't convince Chip to dress up as a 6' 2" wolf, we tucked that scheming wolf inside of her basket. The only problem, of course, is that this doesn't leave a lot of room for treats. Guess mom and dad will just have to help out with that.

Click here for more costume photos, as well as a few from last week's trip to Boo at the Zoo with the aforementioned singing Papa and sewing Grandma.

Have a great Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm looking at you, Friday

Oh, hello, Friday. So nice to see you. Forgive me for being so blunt, but it's about damn time you got here.

But let's not dwell on your tardiness. Or the hectic, bothersome business that was this week.

Instead, let's put all that behind us and focus on having a swell weekend. It's Halloween. Mary Clare has a ridiculously cute costume, compliments of my mom. We'll break all the rules and take candy from strangers. And then we may even let Mary Clare eat some of it. And then while she's getting hopped up on sugar, Chip and I can get hopped up on ... hops. It will be great, I promise.

Now, let's do this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sock hop

The weekly wacky lesson plan fun continues, with today's activity being sock dancing. Pretty straightforward, right? Possibly a recipe for disaster, given that the classroom has linoleum flooring and toddlers aren't the most coordinated bunch, but still, clear in its intent.

In the spirit of sock dancing, we were instructed to send Mary Clare to school in silly socks. Silly socks, like wacky Wednesdays, are also rarely experienced around the TB household. But I did what I could, and dug out a pair of red polka dotted socks. The colors of her outfit somewhat matched, but people, there were polka dots next to flower print pants, and I don't know about you, but where I'm from, that is downright silly.

Chip, of course, did not agree.

C: That's it? Those are the silliest socks we have? 
D: Yes, Chip. These are silly.
C: You know, if I were in charge of dressing her, people would know when it's silly sock day.
D: And people would call DCFS.
C: You bet they would. The Department of Cool and Funny Socks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Game day

It's game day. And not just any game day, but Homecoming game day. And it's not just any Homecoming game, but the Homecoming game that will put Mizzou front and center because ESPN College GameDay is broadcasting from beautiful Mizzou.
That's right, in addition to the Tigers whopping the Oklahoma Sooners, our dear alma mater will be on display for all college football fans to see. ESPN is set up in front of the beloved columns on the Francis Quadrangle. I just hope the killer squirrels don't get them.

Oh, and this black-and-gold baby with the coy smile? She's looking right at you, Lori Geiger. The tiniest tiger at Team Botanical is pretty sure that by the time the day is over, you will be talking up the time you spent at Mizzou and running from your Oklahoma roots.

Go Tigers!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So, I just realized that yesterday's post was my 400th post. Yea, me and my chatty ways.

Since I failed to note this in yesterday's post, and since I so disappointed everyone by not posting pictures of Mary Clare's Wacky Wednesday attire (it was one of those mornings and evenings), please allow me to present this picture of Mary Clare as a peace offering.

Oh, my friends, but this is just not any picture of Mary Clare. It is, in fact, a picture of Mary Clare pooping. That's right. This is what she looks like when she's doing the business.

Work it out, baby. Work it out.
Yes, Mary Clare brought Sunday's big photo shoot to an abrupt halt when she dropped the deuce mid-session. We were taking pictures on the porch of our neighbor's ridiculously cute garden shed, when all of a sudden Mary Clare wandered over to the wood pile and grabbed the metal rack.

"Oh," I thought. "This will be so cute."

And just as soon as I clicked the camera for a test shot, she gripped the metal rack with all her might and let out a mighty grunt.

I put down my camera just in time for her to point at her bum and say in that matter-of-fact way I love so much, "poo poo."

And that was the end of the photo shoot.

And this, my friends, is my first post about poop. It's taken me 400 posts to get here, but I finally did it. Yea, me. Again.

Here's hoping you have a regular day as well. Minus the gripping and grunting, of course.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We don't do wacky 'round here

Mary Clare's teachers recently started sending home weekly lesson plans for the students. This is equal parts wonderful and hilarious. It's nice to see how Mary Clare spends her days, and contributing items for the various activities makes me feel involved. But what I love the most are the conversations Chip and I have as we try to determine what goes on during "dance and fall down" or what the freeze dance looks like. We also want to watch dress up time, because apparently the kids all have their favorite pieces, and let's just say that any toddler who gets between Mary Clare and her hats is going to be a crying toddler.

Today's activity is Wacky Wednesday, and we were encouraged to dress Mary Clare in wacky clothes.

I couldn't do it.

I tried. I swear, I tried. Chip snickered as I started putting outfits together, knowing that it was just killing me that the clothes didn't match. So I kept it in the primary color family, but mixed up the patterns. She's wearing red pants with white polka dots, a navy shirt with yellow and white striped arms, and a red and white striped bow. Chip asked if it was the best I could do, and yes, it is. And if you ask me, I think she looks pretty wacky. Even without the purple socks I took off at the last minute because no kidding, I just couldn't do it.

So, yes, I am a control freak and the thought of sending Mary Clare out of this house in mismatched clothes sends me reeling. None of this is news to anyone, especially not Chip. (So stop acting surprised, dude.) In my defense, however, have you ever seen a toddler after a full day of school? The food-covered clothes, crooked bows and missing shoes make every day Wacky Wednesday. So starting her day at a disadvantage like this means that pick-up tonight is going to be especially depressing. But only for me, thank heavens. Because she doesn't seem to care. Yet. But rest assured, my neuroses will rub off on her in due time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Happy with the blog. Finallly.

Even happier to have a talented friend who emailed and said, "So, what do we need to do about the blog?" before I even had a chance to plead for her help. Thanks, Anne. You're the best.

Four steps to fall photos

Step 1: Gather

Step 2: Pause

Step 3: Wind Up
Step 4: Shriek

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ugh, so annoyed

Another hour down the drain, and it still looks hideous. But at least the blog is now consistent in its hideousness.

I've decided the only remedy is to call in the professionals. Anne Fleming, you'll be hearing from me. 

All kinds of wonky

Blogger and I? We are not friends these day. I have so much to share! So much to show! And yet it doesn't want to make this sharing and showing easy on me. The fonts are never the same size, the formatting is wacky and the new background looks downright horrible on a small computer monitor.

I think I'm going to have to start over with one of the new Blogger templates and take it from there. They're certainly not making it easy, but I shall overcome. Oh yes, I will persevere.

We know how to make an impression

Apparently it took Brennan four days to notice that Chip and I were no longer in Kansas City. He noted Mary Clare's absence right away, but Chip and I? Not so much. But at least he asked about us. Eventually.

B: Mom, where's Aunt Debbie?
S: She went to work, remember?
B: Oh. Where's Uncle Chip?
S: He went to work, too.
B: Oh. What does Uncle Chip do?
S: He sells things.
B: Oh. What does Aunt Debbie do?
S: She writes things.
B: For Uncle Chip?
S: Sometimes.
B: Oh. [long pause] Are there puppies at Aunt Debbie's work?

Oh, B. How I wish there were puppies where I worked.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Black and gold, baby

It's game day, and we're ready for another Mizzou win. Go Tigers! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Friday


I love the fall.

I love Fridays in the fall even more.

There's something especially wonderful about starting off the weekend with the beautiful fall leaves of Tower Grove Park greeting me as I drive along Magnolia. Our cross street is equally impressive, with brilliant bright yellow leaves flanking both sides of the road. Best of all, once I return home tonight, a whole event-free weekend stretches before us.

Herewith, a list of the things I plan on enjoying this weekend.

So Good When It Hits Your Lips 
I may not be an A-B girl, but I do like to support the hometown brewer. The smaller one, at least. It doesn't hurt that Chip's cousin Erika is married to the head brewer at Schlafly. And that they live one block from us.

The Pumpkin Ale is my favorite of their seasonal selection. Rich, velvety and oh-so-good when it hits your lips. I had one while we were in Kansas City this past weekend, and it did not disappoint. And then a six pack happened to find it's way into my cart last night. Weird.

Where's the Beef? 
I discovered this recipe on about three years ago. The first year, I probably made it every other weekend, so enchanted was I by my new Dutch oven and the tender wine-soaked beef it and I made together. Now that it's cooler out, it's time again. Oh yes, it is time.

This Girl
Sure, she may be going through a total daddy girl phase right now, but when it's just the two of us, our pot-bellied princess gives me all the hugs and sloppy kisses I can handle.

This Guy
This guy you see right here? In addition to out-fishing Brian and Chad last weekend -- on their home pond, no less -- he is a landscaping genius. Our sod looks great, and he's going to finish the brick border on the front bed this weekend. I love him and his handy ways.

So there you have it, my B weekend, all in one shiny post. Beer, beef, baby girl and baby daddy*. What more could you want?

*Honestly. The things I will write for the sake of alliteration.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The great pumpkin

We hit a pumpkin patch this past weekend while visiting the Joneses in Kansas City. All I can say is that oh, what a difference having a newborn under your belt makes when it comes to baby number two.

Sherri was by no means a hyper new mom (I've got that title sewn up in our family), but I'm pretty sure if you had asked if she would bring 10-day-old Brennan out to a pumpkin patch, she would have totally given you the mean Barbie face.

B and A at the pumpkin patch

But hey, new baby, new ways. So off to the pumpkin patch we all went. And what a time the two big kids had. They rode the wagon, stumbled around the pumpkin patch, frolicked in the playground area and even obliged us with a few photos. I wish I could say the baby was equally entertaining, but Alexandra slept through the whole thing. What a stick in the mud that one is.

Click here for a few more pumpkin patch photos.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Because she's my beautiful girl.

Because I missed her the one whole day I was away. 

Because I love those chubby cheeks, and even that horrible squinty eye habit and high forehead she inherited from me.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In keeping with our baby theme

This might be the sweetest picture ever.

No, wait. It is the sweetest picture ever.

Egads, I've done it! And all it took was my sister having a baby and my daughter overcoming some minor green-eyed monster moments. And it didn't hurt matters that my friend Sue happened to pass down the very same dress that Sherri had for Alexandra.

All this matchy-matchy sweetness was clearly meant to be.

Even Brennan went for it, after a few suckers and a lot of coaxing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rock chalk riot

What we have here folks, is a cry for help.

Please don't make me go home with the KU fans! Even though blue is my color, 
I'll never give their shirts a second glance. I'm a black and gold baby, I swear!

So, while I would love to leave you thinking that Mary Clare wants nothing to do with this roving band of Jayhawks, the truth is that she loves her Uncle Arthur. She loves her Aunt Kerstin, too, but it's Uncle Arthur who always catches her eye. Could be those primary blue KU shirts he's always wearing. And it looks like Arthur Phog is following in his dad's footsteps, because is this not the cutest picture ever? A rivalry never looked so good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's Friday, have some icing

And then say "cheesh!" and smile like a lunatic.

People will eat it up.

But only if you're a toddler. I don't recommend this for the adult set. It's just not a good look.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And we're a baby blog

When I was switching up the blog the other night, Chip asked if I was going to rename it "Baby Botanical" or "Team Baby." I was a smidge confused, and actually wondered if he was trying to tell me we were expecting. No, honestly. I thought, "Am I pregnant, and he knows and I don't?" Such are the thoughts one has after trying to play pretend HTML editor for three hours straight. 

Anyway, no one at 4039 is pregnant. Not even the cat next door. And she's easy. 

Chip, however, is hurt that his role on the blog has greatly diminished over the past year or two. I started to suggest that he be more funny, but really, I can't take any more of his funny. The 7 a.m. comedy routine is more than enough.
So, since he hasn't said anything clever of late, I really have no choice but to publish these precious photos Sherri sent me last night. When I called Sherri to say how happy I was to see Alexandra's beautiful eyes, Sherri whispered, "Do you hear that Alexandra? We're back on the blog." 

I'm sorry Chip, but you just can't compete with that. Looks like we're a baby blog. At least until some sales person ticks me off again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Those are three hours I won't get back

After putting Mary Clare to bed, I sat down at the computer with the intention of "just looking" at some new blog layouts.

"Just looking" is how I end up with stupid big Gap bills, people. So at least this little venture was free. And as tedious as it was to fight my way through HTML code, I guess I will agree with Chip that looking at code is much easier on the bank account than looking at an online shopping cart full of shoes for Mary Clare.
Here's hoping you love paisley as much as I do. And that you hate bevels, because let me tell you, it was a real pain to remove those suckers.

Face lift

I think we can all agree that the blog looks a little wonky.

I still love the background, but I've jacked around with the settings so much that the fonts are all out of whack. So I think I'll send the old girl in for a face lift soon. I'm thinking kittens and rainbows. Or whatever else I can find for free. Stay tuned. Because you know free is awesome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Braising for baby

At the risk of sounding like those people who post a list of their completed household tasks on Facebook in the hopes that their friends will congratulate them for feeding their children and cleaning their home*, can I just say that I kicked ass in the kitchen this weekend? 

We are visiting the Jones family soon, and I wanted to arrive with a boatload of homemade heat-and-serve frozen meals for my sister who is valiantly trying to keep Alexandra's belly full. Which means that Sherri needs to keep herself well fed in order to keep Miss Chunky Cheeks well fed. Such is the way this breastfeeding thing works.

Anyway, if you're still with me after the lactation talk, Andy, read on to see my list of kitchen accomplishments.

I have five -- count 'em, five -- dinners ready to go. I made chicken parmesan, vegetable beef soup, beef enchiladas with Spanish rice, pulled pork** and meatloaf. And because Chip raised his three-story eyebrows when I casually mentioned it, I took a stab at making my own granola bars. I also hope to knock out a loaf of bread for bread-loving Brennan and an apple crisp before we leave town. 

I feel like my list is impressive and all, but my mom is definitely in the lead for most helpful Thole family member. She certainly won the "staying for a week to care for baby and mother" competition. I was really hoping to lock down the "family member bearing food" competition, but wouldn't you know it, in the midst of finishing the baby bedding she also made meals and baked goods of her own, and continued to bake upon arrival in KC. 

Sadly, even homemade granola bars will get you nowhere when it comes to competing with Mom Thole. Even if I had cultivated the flax seed myself.

On the bright side, the six Rubbermaid bins of baby girl clothes in my basement guarantee me a win in the "keep the baby girl adorably outfitted" competition. But only if Brian's dad Steve hides Grandma Pat's credit card.

*Cori, Sue and Amanda, you know who I mean. 
**Braised for hours in a delightful medley of hard cider, apple cider vinegar garlic and paprika, the pork is, without a doubt, the piece de resistance.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tell me you don't want to squeeze her

Sherri sent me this picture yesterday morning before she and Alexandra went home from the hospital. If you don't want to just eat those cheeks and snuggle that sweet little face right next to your own, there is something wrong with you. Seriously. And you maybe don't want to come back to TB anytime soon, because I see a lot of Alexandra baby photos in the blog's future.

Damn, my family makes good babies. Snaps to us.