Monday, December 14, 2009

Princess Ballerina Skirt!

Nov Dec 2009015, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Oma found the time (I don't know how--see previous posts on all the stuff I had them work on...) to make a twirly ballerina skirt for Norah for Christmas! Norah really liked it once she got over the novelty. She twirled around and around and around all morning! Thank you to Oma!

Making Snowballs...

Nov Dec 2009074, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

...but NOT throwing them at nearby people's faces! (We had to teach her that lesson.)

First Snowfall (after the blizzard passed)

Nov Dec 2009072, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah and Daddy went out in the snow to play on the first warm day after the blizzzard. Norah had a good time making snowballs, but they couldn't make their snowman because the snow wasn't sticky enough.

The Nutcracker

Nov Dec 2009063, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

The Nutcracker ornament helped us keep her attention while we snapped photos. Here she is trying to hang it back up on the tree...

Christmas Photo

Nov Dec 2009054, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah patiently posed by the tree while I took about 30 pictures for a possible Christmas photo (it is difficult to get a good photo of a wiggly toddler!!!!!). Here's one many of you might see in your Christmas Cards (coming soon in the mail!).

Grandpa and Oma visit

Nov Dec 2009035, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Grandpa and Oma made it to IC just before the dreaded "Blizzard of '09" hit our doorstep! We were trapped inside for about 2 days before they plowed our street, so we had a lot of together time!

Thank you to Oma and Grandpa for all the projects they suffered through while trapped in my house, including (but not limited to):

Making a Play house for Norah in the cubby under the stairs
Re-hanging a counter that had been removed by some repairmen
Painting our hand-me-down nightstands
Cleaning lady bugs out of our light fixtures (we always have tons of lady bugs in the fall...)
Replacing the globe on our new bathroom fixture
Choosing photos for and hanging frames in the bathroom
Fixing the futon
Fixing our toilet so it re-fills automatically
Finishing the doorframe between the finished and unfinished basement
Troubleshooting a broken spotlight in our basement
and much much more!

(boy am I a taskmaster or what?)

Oma and Grandpa still had time to browse the internet, convince Chiara (but not James....) of the wonders of Google's Picasa program, enjoy meals with us, make Christmas cookies, play with Norah, watch Little Einsteins and Sesame Street with Norah, read books and magazines, look through recipes, dance with Norah to the Nutcracker, sing Norah's "Baby Jesus" song, watch Norah in her first Christmas Pageant, and on and on. What a great visit!

Nonna's Porch

Nov Dec 2009077, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

While Ethan's favorite book at Nonna's house is undoubtedly "Elmo Loves You," Norah's favorite book at Nonna's house is, "Nonna's Porch." Here they are enjoying a private reading by Nonna herself!

In the sled again!

Nov Dec 2009107, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here are the kids in the sled. Someone must be making them laugh!

Fred and Lena

Nov Dec 2009089, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here are the kids sitting with the Garden's benefactors, Fred and Lena Meijer (or bronze statues of them anyway...).

Meijer Gardens, Day 2

Nov Dec 2009080, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Nonna and Jeri took Norah, Bree, and Ethan back to the Gardens the next day. Here they are posing by the elephant!

Norah and Mommy

Nov Dec 2009154, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here we are in the sled at the Meijer Gardens.

Norah and a trolley

Nov Dec 2009142, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

She was so fascinated by the trolleys; they would go back and forth on the same track, but she reacted like it was the first time she had seen them every time they came her way!

The train to end all trains!

Nov Dec 2009138, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

The Meijer Gardens had a beautiful train set up inside. It was elevated and spanned two rooms! There were also 3 little trolleys that went around "old Grand Rapids" at toddler-level. Norah couldn't get enough of this train, and we stayed there for a good 30 minutes before I had to drag her away!

Please don't step on me!

Nov Dec 2009132, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah was taken aback by Da Vinci's horse! Isn't it huge?

Following the Leader...

Nov Dec 2009129, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Auntie Francesca led the way across the big green field, and Norah and Ethan were not far behind! Can you tell we are trying to burn some of their energy?

Thanksgiving Trip to GR

Nov Dec 2009109, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

We went to GR for Thanksgiving this year, and we made it out to the Meijer Gardens two or three times that week! Here are Norah and Ethan by the "big bear."

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Well, it's official: James and I are expecting another Baby Hemsley! I have entered the 2nd trimester, so it's traditionally the time to "tell the world." Here is a picture of the little jelly bean around 7 weeks gestation. Due date: May 20, 2010. Sex: unknown (and I am unsure whether I want to find out!)

Norah is confused about it. When I try to talk to her about it, she says emphatically, "I am going to have a baby, too. A purple one!" Hopefully she will understand more by the time next Spring rolls around.

A hard day's work

November09016, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here's Norah taking a breather from helping Mommy and Daddy. Can you believe she's in a T-shirt in November?!?

Raking Leaves

November09002, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah loves to 'help' James and I rake the leaves in our yard. We have so many trees, that we have had to rake the whole yard at least 4 times (+ I am going back out there later today for one last run). Luckily, we don't have to bag them; our city has a leaf vacuum that sucks them up if you put them by the street.

Anyway, Norah always insists on raking with her 'sweep' (broom). This pile started out nice and tall, and by the time she was finished with it, it was spread over 4 times its original area!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So that I won't forget (and for your entertainment...)

I thought I would write down some funny things Norah has been saying/doing. This is mostly so that I can remember them, but I thought some of you (particularly the grandparents) might get a kick out of them, too.

This happened around Halloween: Norah was Cinderella this year, but we were talking one night at dinner about next year. Since Norah loves Curious George stories, I suggested that next year, she could be Curious George, and Daddy could be the “man in the yellow hat” (I thought it was a GREAT idea!). Norah looked at me in frustration and said, “No, Mommy. Daddy be Uncle Jim. Mommy be Auntie Alessia!” So, I guess it’s decided: next year, James will be Norah’s Uncle Jim, and I will go as my sister!

James has been away on business a lot this month, so Norah and I have been spending a lot more time together in the evening (that is usually when James plays with her). One evening, we were doing puzzles, and she was telling me all the names of the different birds in her bird puzzle. I asked her what her favorite one was, and she said the woodpecker. She asked me what Toucans eat, and I gave it my best guess (fruit loops?). Then, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, are we talking?” and I laughed and said that yes, we were. I guess she too was taken aback that we were having a conversation consisting of more than 1 or 2 sentences!

She has a toddler bible from Grandma and Grandpa Hemsley, and she has been into the stories in it lately. She has been wanting us to read it to her a LOT, and she takes it to bed with her to “read it in bed”. The other night, she wanted me to read from it, and so she started looking frantically through her bookshelf in the living room. Then she asked me in a worried tone: “Mommy, where’s God?” I asked her what she meant, and she repeated “Where’s God?” and then added: “Where’s my God book? My Bible?” And I told her it was most likely upstairs in her crib. She said, “Will you read God to me?” and I said yes! What a neat way to think of the Bible!

Along the same lines, on the way to get James from the airport after one of his trips, she was holding her princess balloon that she got for getting a flu shot (that’s another story altogether). We were just riding along on the way to the airport, and she said, very seriously, “Mommy, God’s not gonna take my balloon.” I agreed, noting that He probably has more important things on his agenda than plucking a 2-year-old’s Princess balloon from her hand!

The other day, we were having lunch, and she asked for chocolate milk, so I gave her some. Then, she took some sips and said, “Chocolate Milk is my favorite! What’s your favorite, Mommy?” I said I loved chocolate milk, too. I asked her what her babysitter Amelia’s favorite drink was, and, without missing a beat, she said, “Beer!” It makes me wonder what goes on when I am not home!

If Norah notices something remotely similar about she and I (i.e, we both have pants on), she says excitedly: “We match!”

Norah calls salad “leaves” and says when we are eating it: “I want some leaves, too!”

When I ask Norah what color her eyes are, she says without hesitation, “Purple!”

Some other things that I am surprised she knows about:
In the morning, “Mommy, I don’t want to watch the news”

A funny story:
One evening I was grading some student quizzes, and Norah kept asking me, “Mommy, what are you doing? Can I watch you?” I told her, “I am grading papers” and said sure, she could watch. Then, the phone rang, and I talked for about 5 minutes. When I came back, Norah was in my seat, holding my red pen, and had written all over about 6 of my students' papers. She looked at me happily and said, “I am grading, too!” I gasped, and she started to cry—she was only trying to be helpful. All I could do was laugh (and apologize to my students for the angry red marks all over their papers).

Well, I hope you have enjoyed these anecdotes. If you are bored stiff, sorry! This is as much for my benefit (I can barely remember my name on some days) as it is for yours!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cinderella and Rose

Halloween 2009001, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here is Cinderella and our friend Amanda's dog Rose. The kids from our bible study wore their costumes on Sunday too, so we could see everyone's costumes.

A Curtsy

Halloween 2009018, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here is Cinderella showing us her "slippers", which were sparkly shoes. She had a fun time going around the neighborhood with Daddy. She still talks about ringing people's doorbells and saying "Trick or Treat!"


Halloween 2009011, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here's Norah in her Cinderella dress for Halloween. It was chilly, so she had to wear about 3 shirts underneath the dress, plus tights and socks. But, I think she still pulled it off pretty well!

Here's Jack!

Halloween 2009040, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here's our Jack-O'-Lantern named Jack. Norah insisted on cleaning up the goop from the counter tops afterward. A girl after my own heart!

Carving the pumpkin

Halloween 2009030, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah and Daddy clean out the pumpkin while I separated the seeds from the goop for pumpkin seeds!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wagon Ride

Sept Oct 09028, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

We got on the wagon for a wagon ride through the orchard. After a long wait (too long for toddlers to be expected to sit still), we finally took off. Ethan looks as if he is at the end his rope in this photo. Once the tractor started, we had a blast!

Herding Cats

Sept Oct 09023, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Getting Norah and Ethan to: a) sit still, b) sit next to each other, c) look at the camera, and d) smile is about as easy as herding cats. This is the best we could do.

Nonna and the grandkids

Sept Oct 09020, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here's Nonna with Ethan and Norah in the orchard.

Norah on the bridge

Sept Oct 09013, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here's the bridge that crosses the creek at the orchard.


Sept Oct 09004, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Ethan loved to pick up the pumpkins. He really tried on this one, but it was too big!

Apple Orchard

Sept Oct 09003, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

The next day, we went out to Wilson's Orchard near Iowa City. Lo and behold, it was kids' day here, too, so the place was BUSY!

Norah and Ethan pose on a pumpkin!

The goats loved it, too!

Sept Oct 09067, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Those goats were sure happy to get that grass!

Feeding the goats

Sept Oct 09065, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

The owner showed us that we could pick grass and feed the goats. Norah and Ethan loved that!

Cheesy picture

Sept Oct 09061, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Nonna always makes Alessia and I take a cheesy picture. Here we are by another tractor.

No Shortage of Tractors in Iowa

Sept Oct 09058, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here we are by ANOTHER tractor. They come in all shapes and colors, and apparently, with stuffed Halloween Farmers in the drivers' seats too!

My Turn!

Sept Oct 09052, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Now, it's Norah's turn. Ethan has moved on to something more interesting! That boy is quick!

Petting Zoo

Sept Oct 09051, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

At the petting zoo, they had this tractor out. Norah and Ethan insisted on riding on it (I don't know if it is meant to be climbed upon--the owner looked a little anxious!). They took turns.

Haunted House

Sept Oct 09039_edited-1, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Alessia, Nonna, and Ethan came to visit in Mid-October, and we did some standard "Fall" things like pumpkin hunting, a petting zoo, the apple orchard, and this Haunted House. Both kids were pretty scared in there. You can really see it on Ethan's face.

"My Trains"

Sept Oct 09096, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

James got a new game about Trains, and Norah was really excited (almost as excited as James was) to unpack it and check it out. Here she is helping Daddy pop out the pieces. Now she calls the game, "My Trains" and loves to play with the little train pieces.

Patience pays off

Sept Oct 09104_edited-1, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Anna really wanted to ride in the tractor, so her mommy patiently waited with her and they FINALLY got their time to ride in it! Here they are enjoying the view from WAY UP THERE! That tractor was HUGE!

Big Wheel

Sept Oct 09101, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah is both awed by and terrified by tractors. I managed to get her to stand by this one (it wasn't on!) for a photo! That's one BIG wheel!

LIncoln Park Zoo

Sept Oct 09100, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo the next day, and they were having a Kid's Fall Festival. Norah and Anna got to pick out pumpkins and pet goats, etc. Here they are petting a goat who wants nothing more than to be left alone!

North Park Homecoming

Sept Oct 09113, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah and I went to Chicago in early October so that I could attend North Park's Homecoming (it's my 10 year anniversary from graduating from college--I feel old!) AND visit some friends. Here are Norah and Anna wearing matching NPU shirts.

River Museum

Sept Oct 09150, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Here are Norah and Daddy near the entrance after a long morning of musing at the museum. She loved this tank behind them; it had river fish and turtles in it.

In the bubbles

Sept Oct 09145, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Then it was my turn to join Norah in the bubbles. Here we are looking at a little sand lizard nearby.

National Mississippi River Museum

Sept Oct 09141, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

We drove to Dubuque one day, which is on the Mighty Mississippi River, to visit this museum. They had a really neat exhibit where you could crawl under the enclosure, and then pop your head up in these bubbles to see the lizards they had in there up close and personal.

Norah loved it!

Kids' area

Sept Oct 09169, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

They left one pile of sand for the kids to run and play in. Norah liked it, but was concerned about getting her feet and hands "dirty".

Sand Castle Festival

Sept Oct 09159, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

In September (yes, people, September...I haven't updated in a while...), I looked out the window while I was teaching and noticed huge piles of sand in the streets. I asked my students what was going on, and one of them replied that there was going to be a sand sculpture festival that weekend.

I had to bring James and Norah by the next day to check them out. This one is a mermaid.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


July August 2009, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

We went out to the gorge with Nonna, Jeri, and Breeana, who came to visit. Bree and Norah had a great time exploring the river bed, We saw frogs, little fish, insects, birds, and some crayfish.

Fossil Gorge

July August 2009, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Near the Coralville Dam north of Iowa City, there is a place called Fossil Gorge. It is here that, in 1993, when floodwaters topped the spillway, thousands of Devonian fossils were uncovered in the river bed. Last year, in the floods of 2008, more of the bed was stripped away to reveal new fossils. Here is Norah exploring the now-dry riverbed for fossils.

It's been a long day!

July August 2009, originally uploaded by James Hemsley.

Norah and Ethan both conked out around 1:30 p.m., so we made our way to the cars to go home. I don't think that Norah has ever fallen asleep in her stroller (not since infancy anyway)--so she must have been exhausted!