Tuesday, August 31, 2010

17 Months and Counting






So you had your 17 month old "birthday" last week. I'm behind on life. I haven't even fully unpacked from California yet!

I'm being lazy since I went back to work and including pictures from our trip to the dog park with Owie. We went to the Culver City dog park the first day we were in L.A. It had a two-tiered water fountain. One for people and one on the ground for dogs. At first you played in the dog fountain since it was on your level, but then Aunt Molly lifted you up so you could take a long drink out of the people fountain. I thought the pictures captured you in the moment very well.

17 months is not that different than 16 months, except you have remarkably increased your ability to mimic. Mimic games, mimic speech. If I say a word you can repeat it exactly but you don't necessarily remember it for future use. We're working on that. "Open" is a new favorite and you use it correctly without prompting. You also love the number 2 and love counting... 1, 2! You even try to hold up two fingers. Now when you jump in the pool or go down a slide I say: "1,2,3, GO!" and you wait for it and get the biggest smile on your face as soon as I start counting. You follow two or three step directions. You love to play perfection and will even put some of the pieces in their proper places. Everyday you mimic new behaviors. I guess this is the stage where I have to be aware of my actions and words.
You are a joy and an active creature that loves to empty out boxes, bags and drawers. Junk from my purse or gym bag is just strewn across the floor. At first I was blaming the dogs. Nope, its all you!

17 months, wow! We are so grateful you are happy and healthy and growing!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Disneyland Birthday

Today was my birthday. It was a horrible day starting with the 1am teething wake up call from your fever riddled body to the school wide network crash at 7:30am and 1st day with students to 5pm traffic jams. The day was just one disaster after another.

I came home to Daddy and you over at the neighbor's house. Together you were making dinner for all of us: Belgian waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. Yum! It was a bright point of my day :) Did I mention that no one at work wished me a happy birthday? And that another staff member had a birthday today also and she got a bunch of balloons, card and cake. No one even recognized me at all. Sad.

But then I remembered Disneyland. We went not even 2 weeks ago, seems like months. My mom picked me up a FREE button that declared it was my birthday. A Disney "cast member" wrote my name on the button so everywhere I went people exclaimed, "Happy Birthday, Meghan!" I was always taken aback thinking... how do they know my name? And it isn't my birthday yet. But then I remembered the button. I eventually took it off after I got annoyed with people constantly wishing me a happy birthday. Funny. Maybe I could've become annoyed today... we always want what we don't have... only to discover it wasn't really what we wanted in the first place.

Today was awful with a few shining moments. Disneyland was full of shinning moments with a few awful ones. You are my constant shinning moment. Teething and all. You were cranky during my birthday dinner and I had to hold you. As you were burning with fever and I was snuggling you back into slumber... as your chocolate hands and mouth are leaving sticky residue on every limb of my body, I can't help but be extremely humbled and grateful for you and Daddy. Having you as a daughter is worth a lifetime of bad birthdays.











Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tasty

One of our gardens has exploded with black eyed susans. It happens to be the state flower of Maryland. Now I know why, it spreads like crazy. Mental note for next year: thin out the flowers before they take over again. You along with our backyard bees are in love with the flowers. I brought out the camera to snap a few shots. I show you how to smell flowers. I thought you were mimicking me but when you turn around, I saw you were actually eating the black center of the flower. Yuck! Someone mentioned to me afterwards that I should have called poison control to make sure the flower wouldn't make you sick. To tell the truth, I never thought of it. I was just so surprised and taken back that you would eat it!

This situation is sort of like parenting. Not what I expected but way more entertaining then I could've ever imagined!
Lots of gardening notes for next year, such as not planting so many pumpkins! We are in the midst of planning a pumpkin picking party to get rid of the 20 or so pumpkins we have growing in the back garden.

Fall is almost here!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

International Friends

It all started in the Santa Monica McDonalds.
It was lunch time on a random Wednesday and we were not in the mood to battle the crowds. McDonalds was close and convenient. There was a very large group of Asian women and their daughters close to us.
I really don't know what happened. You approached their block of tables and smiled and waved.

Whoosh.... the girls swarmed you. I look over and you are surrounded by these girls and they're trying to touch you, grab you, get you to smile and clap. They were completely infatuated with you. Nonni, Nonna and I just watched in amazement as you obliged each request. You performed but you also enjoyed yourself. You wanted to talk to them, allow them to touch your hair, hands, face.

Not that unusual, huh? Well these girls and their moms were from China and the extent of their English was "hi" and "bye." Then a mom is kneeling next to you putting on the smallest bracelet I have ever seen. It's red rope with a charm on it. The mom said, "from China." You can see on your wrist in one of the photos. Some of the moms snapped some pictures of you with the girls which all of you posed for but I couldn't communicate well enough to get the girls to pose again. I should have asked you to help me.

The Chinese girls caused such a raucous that the McDonalds almost shut down. The girls were squealing and laughing and so were you. People stopped and watched this exchange. It was quite a mob scene. I have no idea what made the Chinese girls go absolutely nuts over you. About 10 minutes went by and their tour guide came to pick the group up. All the girls waved goodbye and you reciprocated.
Nora, you truly don't discriminate against people. Those girls, for that moment, were your best friends. You were completely open, willing and excited to interact with them. If only world leaders could take a page out of your book...

Look at the bracelet!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Little Incredible You

Airport Traveling

Sleeping on the plane!


In and Out Burger with the Owies


Beach Bum


Playing on one of the many beach playgrounds


Saying goodbye to Aunt Katie and Uncle Kevin and the Owies


On the tram to Disneyland.


Beach Babe


Ocean adventure with Aunt Molly


"Mommy, get me outta here!"


Hollywood Hills



Hollywood with Uncle KK


Bike path on one of our many sunset rides.


How we got around.


Santa Monica Pier


Lounging in the world's smallest living room.


Santa Monica with Nonni and Nonna


California Girl


We made it.
We traveled 3000 miles to Venice Beach and 3000 miles back. You were a champ. Not only did you sleep on the airplane you slept through the landing during both flights! You never even appeared bothered by take off. Traveling can be stressful, living in an 800 sq ft beach house with 6 other people and a dog can be stressful but you were absolutely incredible.

Your incredibleness was not just your laid back attitude about sleep schedules, eating times, general lack of structure. The incredible part was your 16 month old self enjoyed all the experiences. You soaked up the warm sand and the salty sea and learned to love the feeling of sand in between your toes and sifting through your fingers. You enjoyed the sunset rides along the beach bike path connecting Venice and Santa Monica. You loved the playgrounds on the beach and there were plenty of them! You enjoyed our Hollywood breakfast and meeting Mickey at Disneyland (you actually kissed him on the nose!). You loved stolling along the boardwalk and greeting each and every dog we met. You lived to feed Owie your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Almost daily someone stranger would declare, "I've never met a baby like her before!" You were so engaging, loving, laughing, and charismatic.

I can't describe how proud I am of you. You were so adaptable and had fun too. How you would laugh and giggle and get everyone involved. All 6 of us squished in the world's smallest living room, you would go from person to person making sure everyone particpated. At the beach you would stomp and splash in the foamy water. It's almost like you fell in love with every experience, every moment, every person you met and soaked up every morsel you could.

The memories I have of you are unforgettable. You such a unique toddler with such a warm, inclusive, compassionate personaility. How you adapt and just go with the flow. Very Californian of you Nora. How you enjoy life and live in the moment. I am so proud of the person you are, the person you are becoming.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Food for the Soul

Laughter is food for the soul. So I surmise, laughter with family must be twice as nutritious. Aunt Kaarn and Uncle Cliff live a few hours away in the mountains of Virginia. We went on a mountain adventure this weekend with them in Alleghany County. Nora, we did so much!

Friday we spent time with Aunt Kaarn helping her get some boxes into her her new, fancy, middle school classroom (complete with a kiln and potter's wheel!). We had lunch in Clifton Forge and bought some toys in the Art Center where Aunt Kaarn taught a summer camp. It was a warm day so we went for a wade at Humpback Bridge in Covington. The water felt awesome and you enjoyed skipping rocks (actually it was more like picking up rocks and moving them to a new location in the river). Uncle Cliff got home from work and we went to dinner at Jack Mason's Tavern. Wow-wee was that good food! Since the tables were full when we first got there, we sat at the bar for 10 minutes or so, you enjoyed perusing the drink choices and finally settled on a fruit punch and a swig of Uncle Cliff's beer!








The next day was even busier and more fun! First we had to stop by the C&O Railroad museum in Clifton Forge (thanks to Aunt Molly for her tip in American Heritage last year). A decision was made to just go for a quick ride on the toy train that circles the museum. Since we were the only visitors at 10am, the train conductor (a volunteer) took you and Daddy and Aunt Kaarn around and around and around. It didn't seem like he was going to stop. Then he slowed down, finally! However, he wanted Uncle Cliff and I to jump on to go around a few more times! Whew! It was quite the experience. To top it off, a real conductor driving a coal train blew his horn for you and waved from his engine! Next, we went to an air show in Bath County. This was really cool! Food, music, cars, games, dogs, planes... who could ask for more?!?! After we grabbed lunch, we found a good spot next to the runway and settled in to watch the planes circle, zig zap, dive and roll in the air. You didn't focus on the planes the entire time, but you did watch with interest for a couple minutes. You clearly recognized the planes and would adamantly point with excitement as the plane tumbled in the air. One would think that the air show would provide enough fun for one day! However, we ended up going down to Roanoke for a delicious Mexican dinner where we discovered you LOVE guacamole. A tidbit for further investigation, after eating copious amounts of guacamole, you became increasingly more hyper-active and it lasted the rest of the evening when we went to the Roanoke Star. The star is huge and overlooks the city with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. You were a ball of energy and giggled and laughed as you ran around in a circle. Uncle Cliff actually captured a very good video of your goofy self. When we were leaving, Aunt Kaarn decided to start teaching you early on the importance of dead heading plants; Grandma Gail would be proud! When thinking back on Saturday, I am realizing I'm leaving important details out like the gourmet donuts from Blue Collar Joe's and our stop at the Goodwill and tour of downtown and the winding road up the mountain to the airport (which was located on the roof of the world where all of us got sunburned even though we lathered on sunscreen... too close to the sun!). We stopped at Falling Spring, but you were asleep in the car, so just Daddy and I went. Don't worry, I took a picture! Ok, a few pictures.















Our last day was the shortest. We got to eat our gourmet donuts and hang out with Aunt Kaarn and Uncle Cliff and the dogs! Oh how you loved Betty, Charlie and Annie. You were obsessed with them and needed to know where they were at every moment, and if they were outside, you wanted to be to. The dogs did exceedingly well with your presence and they even let a tail or two be pulled. All your animal cousins were such gracious hosts. We even got to try out Aunt Kaarn's freshly painted porch glider. What fun! But in the end, our visit was all too short and we had to say goodbye. There was some talks of a trade of you for Charlie... but loyal Charlie wouldn't leave his home, you were ready to stay at a moment's notice.



Never never never under the estimate the power that family has to replenish your soul. Nora we are full of love, laughter and awesome memories. Thank you Aunt Kaarn and Uncle Cliff for nourishing our souls this weekend. It was greatly needed.