Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spin Cycle: 11 Random Things I'm thankful for...

11 was not the number I was aiming for.

There are 30 days in this month, so I thought I'd share 1 for each day. Well, things came up, and I never got past 11. Granted, I could have filled up the list merely with food items I'm thankful for (ice cream! An NY strip steak medium rare! Sour Cream and Onion "Tater Skins"! Pepsi! Etc.!), and padded it with books and movies that I'm glad exist, but I decided to skip the fluff. Or at least I want to pretend that this list is the way it is on purpose, and there are 11 things for November being the 11th month. Ok? Ok.

Things I'm thankful for:

1. My husband- the most awesome, best ever husband in the world. You may think otherwise, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

2. Elizabeth- She's serious and smart, but really, really silly sometimes. She loves to dance and sing, and ask for stories.

3. Lilli- She's my super sweet snuggle bunny, a total drama queen. Loves music, loves to talk. Favorite phrase: “Mama, I neeeeeeeeed you!”

4. Friends and Family in general- Who else can both drive me crazy and keep me sane?

5. Employment- I may not be doing my dream job, whatever that is, but food is on my table, and I’m grateful.

6. My cats- warm, furry, and snuggly. They don’t need walked or taken outside multiple times a day. What more do you need in an animal? Bailey even plays fetch.

7. My little blog- As I said in my very first entry, I type faster than I hand write. For journaling purposes, what could be better than a blog? Until the day that nuclear winter descends on us, my memories are a lot safer in the intersphere than they would be on paper or in a word file.

8. Everyone who writes my favorite blogs- Tons of semi-strangers who aren’t strangers at all, that I can laugh and cry with every day. Intimate biographies in real time.

9. Facebook- Don’t laugh. It has let me re-connect with people that I care about and lost touch with. I’m really bad about keeping in contact, and I can do Facebook. I can “like” someone’s status update or photo album, and hopefully I’m conveying what I think I’m conveying, which is that I see what they’re up to, and I care about it.

10. Digital photography- I’m not good at taking photos or anything, and I don’t have a fancy camera, but it gives me the freedom to click away like a mad woman and capture every second of my little girls’ lives. I love that.

11. Podcasts- another thing that keeps me sane. I’m blessed to have a job that lets me listen to my iPod all day long.

Of course I'm thankful for more things than these (Black Friday Shopping Marathons! My comfy couch! Back rubs!), but these are high up on my list.

This is the first year we are going to talk about what it means to be Thankful with the girls. We're even going to attempt to make a Thanks chain along with our hand turkeys. It should be interesting to see what they come up with. I suspect that Elizabeth is really thankful for My Little Pony and Cinderella, and Lilli is thankful for Dora. But it's a start.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Over the river and through the woods. Or more like through the air and over a bunch of hills...

This is my grandpa:

Handsome for 95 and three quarters, isn't he?

We took Elizabeth to meet him last fall, and this fall, even though Lilli is younger than Elizabeth was, it was her turn. When you're dealing with someone of this age, you don't wait around!

So we flew up to Pennsylvania the weekend before last.

We have discovered that Lilli doesn't like to fly very much ("I can't! I can't fly!", she sobs), but I don't know where she comes up with stuff. I looked over at her before we took off, and (I am not making this up) she had out the flight safety information and was carefully perusing the pictures. She really seemed to be preparing for some sort of disaster. I had listened to the How Stuff Works How to Survive an Airplane Crash podcast episode (what I always do before a flight), so I was feeling pretty comfortable, but I guess she was not. I tried to get a picture of her reading the pamphlet, but she got shy on me, so all you get is this:

We arrived in Pittsburgh, to find it chilly enough that Lilli got to wear her winter coat and hat and mittens to Denny's for dinner. She was thrilled. I thought the coat was pretty cute, but we ate at Denny's three times on the trip, and that is 2 and a half times too many. Of course it was better than the liver and onions I had to eat (that or look picky. And also starve) at my grandpa's assisted living facility. I still shudder when I think of that.
The next morning, when we needed to drive two hours north (after another trip to Denny's, so who can blame her) Lilli was not in a cheery mood, but she passed right out in the car.

And woke up all smiles in time to have some pizza for lunch:

When we finally got to my grandpa's room, Lilli took to him right away, and I think it was mutual. Here she is singing for him:
Based on where her hands are, I suspect it was yet another rendition of 3 Little Monkeys.

We talked to David and Elizabeth a lot, because the girls really missed each other. Elizabeth refused to talk to me for the entire 4 days, but I got several calls from David saying "Elizabeth wants to talk to Lilli.":

There isn't that much a 95 year old man and a 2 year old can do together, so there was a lot of book reading, and Lilli was perfectly happy with that. His eyes aren't so great any more, so my mom is spotting him on the fuzzy words in this picture:

I do feel that need to point out that I doubt that when I'm 95 I will be riding an exercise bike. But he does this for short spurts multiple times a day:
He also works out with exercise bands. He actually has frighteningly large biceps now, and took great delight in showing them off. Apparently he was told to get strong by one of the nurses at the facility since he's had the flu followed by pneumonia two springs in a row, and he was pretty weak back in April. Not any more, I can tell you!

Just like we did for Elizabeth last year, we took Lilli to the little park next door to where my grandparents used to live. It's one I grew up playing in. She took an especial shine to the dandelions since she'd never seen them before.

I have an entertaining (but too long to post) video of her beating the dandelions against the ground when the fluffy parts wouldn't blow away fast enough.

She also thought the swings were wonderful. Probably since this one was about a foot off the ground:
When I was little, I LOVED these suckers:

They are older than me, and probably older than my mom, since before they came to this park they lived at her elementary school.
I thought they were wonderful, especially the turtle, but Lilli refused to get on them.
As a child, my mom loved the duck, and that apparently has not changed. See?

A couple days later, after a very nice and too short visit, we drove back to Pittsburgh, and after another night there (and the last trip to Denny's, it was right next door to the hotel), we went to the airport. It's a nice airport, since it has a kids play area looking out onto the field so you can watch the planes, and pretend to drive one:
And also has a Qdobo. Which I had never had before, and even though it didn't give my beloved Chipotle too much competition, it was definitely better than Moe's, which is all I can get around here in the burrito-as-big-as-you-head department.

Lilli loved her quesadilla. See?

When we finally made it back to Southwest Florida, my dad picked us up. Bringing Elizabeth in full princess regalia, and hair that had not been brushed once in my absence.

I thought we were going to have to cut out some of the bigger tangles. David and my dad are lucky I did not have to!
Next up: Living history guy- talking to my grandpa about way back then.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Picnic Weekend

Continuing my recap, on Saturday we went to a 3rd birthday celebration for the lovely Sprite. We arrived uncharacteristically early, managing to get there a full 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

I could be completely truthful and say that the reason for this is because we were going to try and get Lilli and David both haircuts that morning, but we were running too late for that, but I won't.

Lilli especially really needed a trim, poor shaggy little thing. Her daddy always wants to get a haircut, but in reality he always keeps it too short for my tastes. Elizabeth gets her curly hair from SOMEWHERE you know.

See Lilli with that juice pouch? She can suck one of those down in seconds. I have no idea how she does it. On more than one occasion I have been unable to resist chanting "Chug it!....chug it!...." I really should get on video tape the sight of her cute little inquiring head tilt as she asks "Chug it? What chug it, mama?"

Anyway, although the girls were full of the simple joy of going to a party for one of their favorite people, there was the added joy of a bounce house. They bounced themselves silly.

Lilli especially bounced herself into some middle of the night vomiting. It was bright pink, very in keeping with the theme of the day, and that's enough said about that. Although I should add that she didn't mind the episode one bit, and we actually were not aware that she'd had the episode until the next morning. When it was mostly dried up. Annnnnnd enough.


Pausing in bouncing to contemplate a shockingly beautiful day.

And speaking of beautiful, look at that cake!
I couldn't add my good picture of the cake since upon closer inspection I discovered that it revealed Sprite's true name. And we couldn't have that, since I'm pretty sure, as is the case for all faerie princesses, that revealing her true name would cause her to go *poof* in a shower of glitter!
At any rate, it was a beautiful and tasty cake, which I sort of caused to come into being (a very convoluted story, that one. I did not help bake it though. Like the Little Red Hen's friends, I just wanted to help eat it).

The cupcakes (which I may or may not have had a hand in the creation of) were also tasty. At least it appears that some sort of critique of them is taking place in the below picture. And then the one in the photo mysteriously disappeared.

The girls had a blast though, John proved he can work a grill, and here's the lovely host herself!
Thanks for inviting us, Jen! It was a great party!

And Happy Birthday Sprite! I can't believe how big you've gotten in just the year I've known you in person, let alone in the time I've been reading about you!
P.S. The girls are looking forward to their next play date!

On Sunday, even though we were a little bit iffy about whether we should or not, due to Lilli's vomiting thing, and Elizabeth developing issues at the other end of herself (also bright pink), we went to David's Work Picnic, which happened to be at the same park. We had originally thought it was taking place at the same time as the birthday party and we were trying to figure out how were going to work being in two places at the same time. Fortunately we didn't have to.
The food was amazing, but the shelter was absolutely as far away from either a playground or a bathroom (a risky thing even when one's children are 100 and 99% potty trained) as it could get, but the girls had a ton of fun with Daddy doing this:
I stayed in the shade. It was a lovely thing.
And nobody got bit by a fire ant. Also a lovely thing!

And I had been told that while Lilli and I were in Pennsylvania, Elizabeth decided that she is now a Big Girl who is Too Old For Baby Swings. I finally got to see it.
She even knows how to pump her legs. It must be some sort of genetic memory in little girls.

Overall, it was a good weekend (as most are, admittedly, just by virtue of being a weekend). And Grandpa stories are still on their way!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Waaaay behind

Good heavens! When a girl goes on a five day trip and then has a busy weekend to follow, how is she supposed to keep up with her blog? Especially when she hasn't written anything since Thursday? It reminds me of journal entries from my youth where I would say "Dear Diary, I have so much to tell you! I need to talk about X, and X, and X, and X". Sometimes there would be follow up entries for all those Xs, and sometimes I would just give up in disgust. It's not that a lot happened to me, but I was a very thorough journaler. So bearing in mind I want to talk about my trip to Pennsylvania to see my Grandpa, and I may have to start doubling up on days, let's do part one of the more recent activities first. Ok? Ok!

Friday night we went to a local Fall Festival. Lilli was still scarred by Oktoberfest, and refused to ride everything except for a little fire truck. And I think that was only because she could clank the bell. There were some tears at first, but when she realized she was not dying they dried up.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, rode everything we would let her on, until we ran out of ride tickets and I refused to buy more.

Here she is at the top of the Ferris Wheel for the first time. She's desperately wanted to ride one for a long time, but it wasn't until this festival when I saw that the variety of wheel they had was in the Gondola style (to my mind, less flimsy than the other kind), that I went for it. Apparently It was everything she was hoping it would be.

I'll spare you most of the ride pictures, but below is one of the only shots I could catch of the "Himalaya". Looking at it we thought it was just another circular kiddie ride, and Elizabeth sprinted towards it. We'd been letting her ride by herself so it didn't occur to us to get on board with her. When it took off like a rocket, I worried that we had made a big mistake. The centrifugal force had thrown her into a corner of the ride carriage, and I could see her struggling to get upright, and she didn't look too happy. But as it continued to streak around you could visibly see her relax (not dying has a way of helping you do that) and soon she was waving to us:

After we did our yearly stop by the bake sale and got the required cotton candy, we started to head back to the car. That's when Elizabeth said "I want to play some games!" It hadn't occurred to us that she would want to. But we said they could play one. I remembered seeing one of those games where the kid picks ducks and whatever numbers are on the bottom reflect the prize they get. All they need at 2 and 4 is to be guaranteed some little trinket, which was the case at this booth, so we figured it was worth a shot. Elizabeth picked her ducks out and was allowed to choose a small prize. She happily chose a green ball (below), and then Lilli had a turn. Lilli got three 3's, and was handed this:

It's cheap and plastic, and probably radioactive, but it made her day. Her weekend, actually. Dora goes everywhere with us.

As we were leaving, Elizabeth sighed happily (clutching her ball) and said "That fair was awesome."

I have to agree

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back, and with monkeys...

Why Hello! How have you been?

I've been to Pennsylvania to visit my grandfather. He's 95 (and three quarters, as he says), and you just never know what's going to happen, despite his good health, and he hadn't met my Lilli yet (he met Elizabeth last fall). So she, my mom, and I flew up there last Friday. We stayed in Pittsburgh overnight before driving out to the "Pennsylvania Wilds" where my Grandpa has lived for 60 or so years. He's in an assisted living facility these days, but still sharper than any tack I've ever felt, with bulging biceps to boot. I'm not kidding about the biceps, but that's a story for another day.

Of course I have tons of pictures because I felt pressed to document every second of the trip, just in case it happens to be the last time. I actually feel like that every time, and the sense of urgency doesn't go away even though he continues to stick around.

Anyway, we had a great trip, and pictures and stories will follow, but I wanted to start with a video. Like everything else lately, I've already posted it on Facebook, but I have a cute kid and just can't help myself. My mom kept playing 3 Little Monkeys with Lilli and letting her jump on the hotel beds. Needless to say, it got stuck in her head:

Being her mother, I naturally think she's adorable. And I love her expression when she tells me "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" Like I said on Facebook, to me she's perfectly clear, but if you aren't around toddlers a lot she may be hard to understand. Personally I just like to look at her.

I have a lot of trouble uploading videos to Blogger and I usually end up scrapping video related posts since I can't get them to work, so if anyone knows how to do the You Tube thing so my mom can show videos of the girls to her co-workers (among other reasons), feel free to send me an e-mail!

Anyway, this is one thing that came out of my trip. Let me add that this is pretty cute the first time. Maybe even the 20th time if you're related to me. But she LOVED reciting this. To the point where she wanted to repeat it over and over. And if you said "How about the Alphabet song? How about Twinkle Twinkle?" She would respond "No! I can't!....Three Little Monkeys...."

Grandpa stories later!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spin Cycle: No Regrets...

In honor of this week's Spin Cycle, I have a confession.

We named our daughter after our cat.

Our younger daughter that is.

Our older daughter's name was planned for years before her birth. She is Elizabeth (after my best friend of many years) Rose (after my birth month flower and the middle name of my father's sister Vivian), and always has been.

We had some trouble with Lilli.

See, we had boy names. We actually had two that we both agreed on. If Lilli had been our first born son, her name would have been William (the middle name of both grandfathers) Daniel (another family name) and we would have called her Will. I would like to pause here to point out that we picked a boy's name well before Pirates of the Caribbean, but I'm quite comfortable with stating that Orlando Bloom added to the appeal of the name. Anyway, while we had boy names for a number one and number two, we had no second girls name. I liked Isabelle, Olivia, Helen, Grace, Ivy, and many others. David did not. David liked Therese. I said that we aren't French. We both liked Catherine/Kathryn/Katherine/Cathryn, but we couldn't agree how to spell it.

We were getting down to the wire.

I kept trying to get David to go through the baby name books and make some suggestions (other than Therese), because I was tired of having all my names rejected. He'd look at one letter's entries every three days or so. Granted, I was pregnant, but it made me a little nuts.

Now, back story:

As I've mentioned before, we have three cats. As they came to us, we picked names that we liked enough to use regularly. Our first cat (of 8 years, she showed up the week before we were married) is Abby. She's a large fluffy Calico, and is the matriarch of the group and definitely the boss. Bailey was my birthday present the following year. He's a giant Tabby, with huge paws and a very high voice. Abby is a daddy's girl, Bailey is a Mama's boy. And then there's Lily, who came a couple years later. She was our baby. She came to us when she was 5 days old. We fed her around the clock, were the mama cats in every way, worried and fretted over her, and even flew her to Ohio for a visit with us when she was a couple weeks old. She thinks she's people, or maybe that we're cats.

So that's the back story.

Finally David got to the L's in the baby name book. As he was reading through them he said "Why did we use up some of the names we like on the cats?" I said, "We just liked them. We didn't know we were going have a hard time picking a baby name. Why? (Eagerly) Which one do you like?" "Lily", he said.

Welllllll, that got me excited, because obviously I like the name Lily too. We discussed how traumatized our daughter might be to realize someday that she is named after our cat baby, and agreed that her name would be Lillian so she can make up her own myth of how she was named, but we would still call her Lilli.

And so, we named our daughter for our cat. And we don't regret it in the slightest.

Oh, you want to know how she got her middle name? Well, tentatively she was Lillian Grace for a month or so. Grace, of course, was on my list, we thought it flowed nicely with our last name, and most importantly David didn't hate it. It didn't feel quite right though.

So when she was born we didn't choose Grace. We spent the entire day of her birth trying to figure it out. Since she was born at 4:44am it was a long day. We were getting pressured by the woman filing the birth certificate paperwork to get on it and pick one before she left for the day at 8. Down to the wire, and still remembering every moment of an un-medicated birth, I said "Well, I'm not having any more children, so let's name her after you. Her name is Lillian Spencer (David's middle name, and a family one)."

And so it is.


Now head over to Sprite's Keeper and check out more parental confessions!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seriously, how cute can it get?

I was at Target today (as usual), when I witnessed something so adorable that I naturally had to blog about it.

In the parking lot I noticed a car a couple of spaces from my own. I'm not a car person, so I can't tell you the make and model, in fact, there are very few brand logos I even recognize, but it was silver, and sleek, and shiny, and presumably something nice, because there were two teenage boys circling it, taking pictures of it and each other with their phones, and generally admiring the thing. I was pretty non-interested in this at first, but then, as I was putting my cart away, an older gentleman came up to the car and said to the teenagers "You boys want to check her out?" They said "Yeah, man!" in extremely excited voices.

In the minute it took me to walk back to my car from the cart corral, unlock it, get in and start it, he was already happily showing them the interior and the engine while they peppered him with questions. He was beaming, they were beaming, and I thought the whole thing was too precious for words.

I don't get you car people, but I still think you're cute.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Randomosity

I don't have enough in me today to join a certain Tuesday meme, but I do have a couple of things I can mention.

In both my daughters' Halloween candy collections, there was not a single Almond Joy. Not one. This is a tragedy.

There's some computer game out there called Torchlight, that I was told my husband would love. It's sort of like Diablo in case anyone cares. So I had thought, oh, maybe I'll pick it up for him for Christmas. The universe is against me though, because instead of buying a nice piece of shiny plastic in a pretty case, I would have to buy him a download. Yes, I could make him a little certificate, but that is not nearly as fun. So harumph.

I'm getting sick. I can feel it coming on. A sore throat, itchy eyes, that feeling of doom. Normally I would think "eh, what's a little cold? It's better than the Swine Flu." Except that on Friday I'm taking my youngest up to Pennsylvania to visit my 95 year-old grandpa. I'm a little worried I'll take down the nursing home while I'm up there.

The girls are in the bath right now. David is, in theory, keeping an eye on them, but from the shrieks of glee and giggles coming from the bathroom I'm guessing that he's not keeping as close an eye on them as he should.

I'd better go check on that.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I really shouldn't do a Facebook photo album before I do a post on a holiday. It takes all the oomph right out of me. On the plus side I can now be super succinct. Which might be preferable on a Monday.

So! We had a good Halloween weekend!

Here's Elizabeth and Lilli at our church fall festival. This is one of the only pictures we have of Elizabeth in the dragon costume that she desperately wanted. It was just too hot. Cinderella made a good alternate. One of the most entertaining things that happened was that they had a doughnut race. You know, where several doughnuts are attached to strings and you need to try and eat yours first? Well, both the girls hate doughnuts, but they really wanted to participate, so it was pretty funny to see them eagerly try to bit their doughnuts, only to make horrible grimaces every time part of one got in their mouths.

Here they are post-pumpkin carving on Saturday morning, all dressed up to go to Toys R Us for their costume parade. They wanted to get going and were not cooperative at all about posing for me.
The most entertaining thing that happened at Toys R Us is that Elizabeth acquired a stuffed giraffe that she named Spots and carried around and adored for the entire day. And then she promptly forgot it existed the next morning. Typical! Since it added to our Webkinz collection, and I'm the official earner of Kinzcash for the girls to spend on their pets, and a new Webkinz added some new items and influx of Kinzcash, freeing me up for a few nights off of playing the games to earn them MORE Kinzcash, I'm really ok with the giraffe. Even though he's neglected already.

Here they are after trick-or-treating around the outlet mall. By this time they were so sweaty that that its good that I'm sparing you any pictures of them from the front.
The most entertaining thing that happened at the outlet mall was that everyone who tried to tell Lilli what a cute little fairy she was was answered by "I not a fairy, I Tinkerbell!" I tried and tried to get her to understand that Tinkerbell is a fairy, but she would have none of it.

Here they are trick-or-treating in a real-life neighborhood, courtesy of our friends P & K. My neighborhood is half empty thanks to the deprecession (as I call it), and the houses are comparatively spread out. They live in an adorable, perfectly circular, gated community, where the houses (while much larger than in my own neighborhood) feel like they're practically steps apart from door to door. Much better for the young ones. Especially young ones who have been celebrating for the entire day. And thanks K for the girls' buckets! Maybe you didn't expect me to actually use them for trick-or-treating, or to forget about them since you gave them to us a month or so ago, but they were perfect.

The most entertaining thing from neighborhood trick-or-treating is that Elizabeth met several nice dogs. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but she has been afraid of dogs, and to actually pet a bunch, even one bigger than her, without freaking out, was a step in the right direction.

So, it was good. Of course Elizabeth woke up sick this morning, which could be due to too much fun or due to being around zillions of other children and families during flu season, but only time will tell us that one.
Here's hoping you also had a great weekend!