jolly days

Viola pulled herself up to sitting! She was so proud of herself the first time she did it. And now she is doing it all the time. I just think about her journey through gross motor skills development and it is so much funnier than Zola, who was just happy to sit in one place until someone brought her something to eat. Viola on the other hand has been constantly a wandering soul, whatever it takes. As soon as she figured out how to roll front to back and back to front, she was looking over her shoulder at what she wanted and starting to roll to it. And like those robot vacuums and remote control cars, she would get jammed between chair legs and walls, or ram something she didn't see too hard and it would end badly. But that never stopped her. Then she figured out that the push-up inched her backward a little. So, she'd look back behind herself to orient and start chugging off backward. As soon as she could add the toe-push and go forward like an army man under razor wire, she was unstoppable. Like a snake, she could edge along head-on. Just in the last couple of weeks, she has mastered her leg movement and is doing a lot of yoga now... downward facing dog and cat pose. Pretty soon, she is going to figure out the stepping motions for utility and the rug-burned calluses on her knees and elbows might reduce. But, it hardly matters. I clocked her crossing the room in 5 seconds yesterday.

She and Zola have figured out how to interact. They like to lay on the floor and climb on one another. Viola gets up on Zola's tummy (with a spotter) and they tickle each other. They play patty cake, hand each other toys, and sometimes Zola plays "mommy" and takes care of Viola... or lets mom &/or dad know if baby needs a diaper.

Zola's language skills are through the roof and everyday she surprises us with what she knows and can repeat. She can do three syllable words. Her favorite things are elephants, kisses, going to the gym childcare (she knows the building so we have to avoid that street when we aren't going there or she will cry), swinging, cooking (helping mom make dinner or pretending in her new play kitchen), books, and pushing carts/strollers. Her favorite foods are milk, cheese, eggs, and meat (deli slices, pepperoni, but not chunks of chicken or beef unless it is chopped up fine and has taco seasoning.) She loves chips with salsa and spicy food. She can drink from a glass, although she still wants her milk in a sippy cup when she is tired. And she can feed herself with a spoon and fork (but prefers to eat with her fingers for convenience.) She's not a messy eater and gets very upset when food gets on her. She doesn't like her stuff to be put away. She wants everything out at once. She loves her tutu and boots and wants to wear them every day. She still hasn't shown any interest in potty training, and we aren't going to push it.

For the holiday, I was off for a 4-day weekend. Mostly I cooked and baked and cleaned the kitchen.

For Christmas Eve, we had a Mexican food feast. Since you can't really find good mexican food here in Cleveland, I learned how to make tortillas and used a mock Filibertos rice and beans recipe to make everything from scratch. We also had queso, ground beef taco bar, and tacquitos (from a box.)

For Christmas morning, I prepared (in advance) homemade cinnamon rolls with lemon cream cheese frosting. (MMMMM!)

For the afternoon feast on Christmas Day, I prepared a half-ham in a peach and brown sugar glaze, a cheesy broccoli rice casserole (a family favorite from Aunt Viola), and homemade focaccia rolls. The rolls were a little hard, so I made a second batch of bread later in the day so that we could enjoy fluffy rolls. The second batch turned out perfect and I realized my mistake. Whenever you half a recipe, always re-write the amounts so you aren't just doing the math in your head. I always forget and use the full amount the recipe calls for with at least one dang item and spoil it.

On Monday, since I didn't have to work, we had a family day. We took the kids to the zoo, tried out another (sadly disappointing) mexican food restaurant, and then looked at houses. We only have a couple of restaurants left... and so far, there is only one type of south of the border food here. It's bland, not spicy at all, all the stuff on the plate is either runny or covered in a runny sauce and touching and the meat is always stewed and shredded. I miss the nuances of El Salvador, Cuba, and the baja coast of Mexico and their limes and grills, when chipotle was a spicy pepper in adobo sauce that could burn your eyeballs out, and the fresh corn and black bean goodness of Tex-Mex, and burritos that you put in your fist. You would think I could open a restaurant and make a killing, but the sad truth is that people here cannot palate the flavors. Things on the menu here that are marked "spicy" can compete with Taco Bell's mild sauce. Things are bland here for a reason.

I have tons and tons of video of the kids right now. But for some reason, we've been negligent about taking pictures. I need to beat myself up about that. What's a scrapbooker going to do? I'll post some visuals soon.


snow days

My toddler LOVES the white stuff.

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We drove up to Baltimore and Washington D.C. for the holiday, saw Nick & Tanya, ate wonderful food, toured the city, and showed off our cuties. We really enjoyed the city and had a great time.

Since coming home, Zola has demonstrated her ability to recognize every single letter of the alphabet by sight in no particular order and Viola has taken her first tentative crawls like a non-soldier / non-amphibian person. She also figured out how to laugh hysterically out loud and return her big sister's hugs (can't explain the adorable.) I have a cold now and a work load that might eventually kill me. I am spoiled from the vaca.