go pee pee?

Remember this little girl?  This old picture of my little tiny sweetheart that used to wet herself?  She's GONE!  Replaced with a savant at toilet use.  We put it off and put it off, because it just seemed like more work than it was worth to train her, even though she seemed willing.  The few times we tried only yeilded a baby in diapers and a couch that smells like pee.  (Sorry if you have to sleep on my couch any time soon.)

A while back, we over spent on fun... so when it came to buying diapers, instead of going over budget, I suggested Mark give it another try with panties while J was here to help.  And so the mopping started on Monday.  But by Thursday and two bags of M and M's later, we have a kid that had her first full day AND night with no accidents.


Here is an old picture from WAAAAAY back in April.  These are my sweeties chillin on our favorite park bench.  They are so adorable.  I spent seven days away from my family on a solo trip to California a week ago on business.  It was both wonderful (to take a break from the screaming toddlers and see my besties) and horrible (to find that I'm spending all my time missing my kiddos.)

While I was there, I attended a series of team-buildling activities... among them, MB2 racing.  These cars go 45 miles per hour, and it's pretty serious racing.  Very fun.  Very.  And we had a couple of very memorable happy hours as well.  So it was not all business and boring.

 And then I got to attend Madhuri's surprise baby shower.  I was so happy to be able to spend some quality time with her, see our mutual friends, and eat all my favorite Indian dishes.  I definitely felt spoiled. 

Off to SFO to spend a day with my Nancy.  Man was it great to see her.  We had a romantic date on the bluffs of the bay, drank wine, did a little Martha Stewart canning of spicy pickled vegetables, and chatted up a storm.  It was hard to say goodbye to my old friends. 

While I was gone (of course), Viola started talking.  Up to then, she has been a single syllable whispered or non-commital gut scream, but as to actually making sounds that add up to anything meaningful, she's been sort of shy to try it despite being able to comprehend at least 75 words.  When I got home, she ran up to me, grabbed my legs, and said "Momma!"  What a welcome home!  She has about 30 words or more now that she can say within a meaningful context (Milk, ball, duck, that sort of thing). 


the teen room reveal

This is almost the before... we had some of the extra furniture from all over the house in here at the time we took these pictures, and only the bed and book shelves (not pictured) stayed in the room.  The room was pretty bare, with drab, dirty pink walls, ugly everything. 

This room will be our office/guest room; but for the time that Tyler lives with us, it will be her bedroom.  So for now, much of the "office-y" stuff is in the attic or basement and we have the extra tv, wii, and dvd player in there for her use (so we don't have to watch "Switched at Birth" and such.)

 The most complete room in the house belongs to Tyler. She contributed a lot of the sweat equity in order to give herself her own space, and we were happy to see a room come together so quickly. We really worked hard.

We already had a foam mattress top, so we found a used twin bed on craigslist for $20.

First we found an old but cute dresser and headboard on the curb. We sanded and prepped them, and modpodged lace to make them a set. Then we painted them both with glossy "Beluga" gray. Wow. Talk about awesome transformation from trash to treasure.

We special ordered some drawer pulls for the dresser to complete the look. (Okay, we attached the two easy ones, but got lazy when we realized we needed to drill holes to attach the other ones, so Tyler just leaves her drawers open an inch. Zola loves this because she keeps snickers in her bottom drawer, and Zola can reach in there.)

We got coordinating green floor lamp, black rug, green and black floral bedding set, big green chair and wall art at Walmart. I already had a black and white damask footrest we weren't using, which matches the look well.

Here is the pallette.  Most of the colors are from the Behr collection and were semi or hi-gloss.  But the green shown is an approximation, because we selected the color from the Martha Stewart pallette and I couldn't find it online to show you guys.

We (Tyler) painted the walls a light grey, with one darker "Cement" grey accent on the wall with the tent-window seat. Most of the trim was painted ultra bright white, but the baseboard was painted Beluga. We got silver switch plates to match the dresser pulls. We still need to paint the ceiling ultra white. 

With the left over three colors of accent paint (Beluga, Green, and Cement) we projected and traced a print out of some wall vinyl we found at Target to create a hand painted mural of tall whimsical lollipop flowers on one wall.

We also had some corner shelves that we wanted to mount on the walls, so we got some scroll brackets and glossy bright green paint, finished them and hung them. (Okay, we hung one, got lazy and never hung the other and now Tyler likes having it at bedside height for her alarm clock, so we just left it there.)

We washed the lace curtains that came with the house and converted one of the bedsheets that came with her bedding set into a balloon valance.

It is amazing how much better it looks in there.  These pictures do not do it justice!  But, here it is, the final REVEAL... dun dun DUNNNNN>>>>



This edition of your favorite blog will be about my rent-a-kid, Tyler.  This chica is very photogenic, yes?  She really looks like me when I was a young whipper snapper.

And my other munchkins LOVE her.  She definitely brings fresh air into their routines.  They have someone who can keep up with them now.  And PLAY!  Man, they sure can.

She is very helpful and adding room in our lives for the many things we have going on... painting things, constructing things, running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get "settled."  But, what I didn't expect and am surprisingly warmed by is how full our lives feel now.  They were full before, but full of blah to-do-lists.  Now they are full of fun and the to-do lists still get done.

It is definitely different having a teen.  We've rented kids before, but almost always 18+ years.  Teens have energy, drama, events, and everything is epic.  Yes.  Somehow, even the daily minutia can be epic now.  Everything is just so much more interesting.

And the Summer-Fun-A-Rama never stops.  Check back for more installments in the next couple of weeks... when Brandy & JJ are here and we see Manhattan, Ocean City, MD, Philly, and Washington, D.C. in a break neck road tour.  What?  Oh, and concert in Detroit, trip to LA and San Fran, Cedar Point coaster time, and killer halloween/quadruple birthday bash (JJ, Mark, Tyler, and Zola.)  And that's just the weekends... imagine the daily small stuff to scale... Oh, and over here, we just call that October, people. 


crazy girl

Zola started calling Viola "vi-vi" a long time ago... back in the beginning it was more of a "bye-bye" and now we all call her Vi Vi.  

She is so spunky and energetic.  I call her "crazy girl" and these pictures just emulate for me the feeling of knowing her.  She's a blast and a hand full.  She grins with a scowl like a pirate, and she cries with such earnest, even when she's faking it!



We are in the midst of our seventh annual season of summer-fun-a-rama (SFAR).  What is SFAR, you may ask?  It's a goal.  An ambition, say, to see how FAR we can push ourselves with fun for an entire season.  It began back in March 2005, when, for the first time ever, we purchased a vehicle that could drive more than 5 miles without breaking down.  And we have been contributing our carbon emissions at a higher than average rate every summer since.  That first summer, we took a road trip every single weekend.  We saw every corner of Arizona and some of Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California as well.  Once we moved to Los Angeles, CA, the fun came to us.  We had three amusement parks, a coastline of beaches, family ready to come visit us any time, and no limit to the amount of fun we were willing to crush into a summer. 

I have noticed something alarming happening to our tradition since moving to Ohio... the Summers here seem longer.  The fun seems to have a higher level of quest to it.  The drama and marathon of it all climax to a furried olympian test later in what can only legitimately be called Fall.  Next thing you know, we'll be having All-Year-Round-Fun-A-Rama.  Our lives need respite from fun.  You really can have too much.  I love it while it lasts, but I do look forward to dropping into the couch for a long winter of lazy slumber.

I realize this is a first-world problem.  If I hear myself correctly, I might be complaining that my life is too fun... that I have too many opportunities to exhaust myself in indulging entertainment.  You should really pity me.  By February, I'll be hearing the siren call of SFAR and we will be back at it again.

This weekend, we'll be tent camping in West Virginia.  Feel sorry for me while I'm rock climbing, drinking wine, and enjoying good friends and nature.  Either that, or get off the couch and feel sorry for yourself!


do you miss me?

Zola has a crazy vocabulary. Grammar is still bad... like "Mom, I angry." But she can count pretty high (twenty but sometimes skips from fifteen to seventeen or something). She is extremely comfortable with people. She just goes over and sits in the neighbors lap and starts telling them stuff. Super confident. She does try to teach Viola stuff and is incorporating her in play more often. She is getting interested in pretending and picks up the garden hose and says, "I fire fighter. I drive a firetruck and fight fire with my hose." and then she dances like she's riding a horse/firetruck. She wants to eat non-stop and she tells you what, specifically she wants. Egg. Egg? Egg? Rah-vah-oli, mom? Sannich? Peanut butter sannich, mom? Chip? want water, mom-may. Not that cup. This cup. Puh-asta, please? Cracker? mac-n-cheese? I WANT WATER! WATER! I feel like the most used sentences at our house are, "No, Zola. You just ate. You don't need anything else." and "Where's your water bottle? I'm getting your water, relax." Still no potty training. That's up to dad to get started because she has been ready for a long time. She can do a somersault and tippy toe ballerina dance.

Viola is still a crazy person. She walked off the top of three steps the other day and landed in a chest roll in the grass and started cracking up laughing. Reminds me of Jared a lot, actually. High energy, laughing, patient, and resilient. She's become more agressive and will instigate fights now and do mean things to Zola or other kids she's around. She'll pinch, bite, hit, etc. She's usually getting revenge, because she gets the brunt most of the time from the older kids. But, she can hold her own. Doesn't say much. Still mainly just says "dada" and rarely will say "mama" but she does know a lot of words and will sometimes breathe them quietly (kitty, thank you, milk, or mimic whatever). She gestures (points, waves, shrugs, etc) and grunts and communicates very effectively... in a way that lets you know that she's comprehending everything. She's almost not a baby anymore. She still loves me to hold and rock her. And she snuggles me really tight. But, she doesn't do that for everyone. (She NEVER snuggles Mark.) She can go up and down stairs by herself (while I panic) and can do the slide by herself (but sometimes she tries to walk down it or jump off the top head first, so again, while I panic)

And we got a rent-a-kid.  If you haven't heard... we have Tyler living with us for a while.  If you are wondering... "Tyler, who?..." Paula's granddaughter is wanting people to call her Tyler now, instead of Mariah.  We're used to calling her that now.  She came to live with us a few days before high school started here and goes to a school with over 4,000 students and three principals.  She is adjusting to city life and keeping very busy between school, helping with the kids and remodel projects, and enjoying teen life.  We are so excited that she will be turning 16 while she lives with us and getting an Ohio drivers license!  For her birthday, we are hoping to take an East Coast City tour to D.C., Manhattan, and wherever else we can fit in along the way.  We've been having a lot of fun just hanging out with her, watching movies, showing her Cleveland, and decorating her room.  I'm going to do a whole post on her room.  It's the most gorgeous room in my house right now.

As for an update on the house... it is starting to look how we envisioned, but it's far from "finished."  That is a LONG way off.  But, we finished quite a bit.  Please drop by Mark's blog, link in the side bar.  He posted some before and after pictures and tells the story much better than me.


top 10 most stolen cars...

The full Hot Wheels list:

1. 1994 Honda Accord

2. 1998 Honda Civic

3. 2006 Ford F-Series

4. 1991 Toyota Camry

5. 2000 Dodge Caravan (Mine was a 1998, but there you have it.)

6. 1994 Acura Integra

7. 1999 Chevrolet Silverado

8. 2004 Dodge Ram

9. 2002 Ford Explorer

10. 1994 Nissan Sentra


post and rail

I didn't get very far on the porch project Tuesday, because my (just bought rusty old wonderful) van was stolen from my work's parking lot and I had to spend most of the evening filling out police reports and getting a ride home.  And then I was just emotionally exhausted after reading my insurance policy and realizing that I didn't elect full coverage that I just sat around feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the day.

But yesterday, I tightened my bootstraps and got back to work.  After a few swear words, Mark's good idea and some luck, the top rail came on very easily.  We still need to make a minor adjustment to how it is seated, but we have a front rail.  We *hope* we can install the two side rails AND get the shopping and floor prep done tonight to start installing 600 square foot of hard wood flooring tomorrow.


4 weeks of home ownership

... buy stock in Home Depot right now.  I'm giving you great investment advice.

I swear, I am there at least four times every day on the weekend and at least as many times during the work week.  I'm breaking myself in half with long burning days of hard physical labor.  And I don't have a whole lot to show for it, except the nickname my neighbors gave me: Roberta Villa.

Mark typically keeps the kids busy while I work on our renovation.  He helps here and there, but is the first to admit that he is in uncharted territory... table saw territory.  And he leaves that kind of dangerous exploring to me, since I've been down here before back in my farm girl days.

What did I do this weekend?

Basically, I built a box frame from 2 x "6" and carraige bolted it to the porch joist for security.  Then I wrapped it in plywood and started the tedious process of trimming it to match my other colonial square porch posts.

Some things I learned: The lumber industry is totally robbing us. Did you know that a 1 x 3 is actually only 1 x 2.275? Same with a 2 x 6. It's more like 2 x 5.4. I'm making a porch post that is supposed to look like the other porch posts, and I can't find lumber with the same dimensions! What a rip! (So mine looks weird.)

Also, because it look much longer than I expected and six trips to home depot, I stopped short of trimming the full box and moved on to building the porch rail.  Because the whole point was to create something to fasten the rail to so that we could enclose our raised porch with safety railing so our babies don't plummet to their deaths.  (Which Viola would love to do, I'm sure.)

Of course, the rail is not finished.  I got half the stuff at Lowes and half at Home Depot, because Home Depot did not have pretty turned colonial spinnets and Lowes did not have nested pre-drilled rail connectors.  As it turns out the two kit systems are not compatible (of course!)  So that's why there is no top rail yet.  It will still work, but with work.  So, now you know what I 'm doing over the work week, besides trying to ready the house to install the new wood floors on Friday.

I have a splinter in my thumb. Boo-hoo. Cry on my behalf and send me a get well soon card.

Meanwhile, we met more of our neighbors and got more history.  Back on Jul 4, 1969, there was a tornado down our street.  That's why the trees are smaller now than they used to be.  I guess a bunch of people died, because it came in off the lake park where everyone was gathered to watch the fireworks.  Also, we have three generations of several families who have lived on this street their whole lives.  We found out that the second generation had all boys, so the street used to be a bunch of young boys playing. But all those boys have daughters, so now there are at least twelve girls under age 4 in the few houses near ours on our street (and one lonely boy.)  I love it!

Also, I pierced my nose.  It's cute.


home in 3 days

Ever since we closed on our home two weeks ago today (wow that went fast) we've been breaking our backs getting it move in ready.  I took 7 days off work.  We cleaned, cleaned some more, used a grinder to remove soft mortar and some unstable bricks from the basement wall and repointed them, wire brushed the brick to remove chipped, loose paint, cleaned the walls really well and brushed on a couple of coats of waterproofing paint.  (Mark says we know karate now.)
Man, does it make a huge difference down there... the photo grid shows various stages to complete.

Then we took on paint.  Since the house is 110 years old, it has lead-based paint in it.  Just to be on the safe side, we tested all the areas where paint was chipping.  Most of it was okay.  But, for the areas where the test was positive, we abated by removing the loose with a gel that traps the yuck into your disposable cloth and hit it with a special, thick sealer paint.  Then, for best measure, we are coating everything with yet another coat of fresh paint between our babies and the yucky stuff.  It took us three straight 18 hour days of two people working to get the painting this far, where the major areas have at least 2 coats and we just have to hit the edges and trim.

 But, again... Oh man does it look much better already.  The colors we chose really bring out the highlights of the stained glass.  The window treatments are at the dry cleaner, but it's going to be beautiful, I think. 

We also tore out the floor in the foyer upstairs to put in a new subfloor before we lay the new wood floors.  Mark removed the china cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware so we can refinish them (lead) later in the garage away from the babies... We found part of the beautiful textured wallpaper behind a mirror above the fireplace, but there was not enought there to save it... :( 

Despite the fact that the house is still pretty torn up and needs at least two more days of cleaning and prepping before we move in, we decided that it's about time we start filling boxes and working on exiting the old house.  Mark already packed over 15 boxes and thinks he needs at least 30 more... so much work.

Who needs to go to the gym when you have a house?


getter done

We have an appointment to sign the contracts and close our loan... on Monday.  Thank you, Heavenly Father, for finally helping me understand the meaning of "eternity" and for bringing it to an end for this process.


almost home...

We have been talking about buying this house for such a long time that lots of people think we are already in it.  As it turns out, it actually IS annoying to buy a house.  It seemed pretty easy when all I was doing was responding to non-stop requests for information for the first few months.  But, it is still almost done.  We had to switch the type of loan we were getting and make some sacrifices on our timeline and budget for the needed renovation, but we should be homeowners by the end of next week at the latest (but I've heard that before...) 

The first thing we need to do when we get the keys is tackle some safety concerns... there are 100 spider nests, some peeling (probably lead) paint, and a few missing floor boards. 

But the next first thing we need to do is turn this Noah's Arc into a summer haven for grilling and chilling.  That closed in porch has got to go.

This will be the first time since Mark and I built a skateboard trick box together, which revealed that our power tool wielding styles are in conflict, that we pick up hammers and face each other off again.  Who will survive?  Only time will tell.

We will ply the panels off, trim off the edges, sand and paint the porch ceiling and floor, and install a nice victorian rail (from a kit.)  It seems like a reasonable first attempt at DIY and sweat equity.  I might unlease my inner artist and go Edward Scissorhands on those ugly bushes... maybe if they were spiral shaped with something flowery growing around them... and vines coming up the rails of the porch...

Our next task will be to unravel the mystery of the downspout that goes straight into the ground.  And I'm sure we have some spring gutter cleaning to do.  (I need to relish the fact that this is probably the only time I will ever look forward to that task.)

I am so blissed that I found these pictures thanks to online archiving of the Cleveland area history.  This is a pic of our new street... looking South from the Nickel Plate Rail crossing back in 1930. 

This shot from Google Streetview illustrates how very little things have changed... except that there are a lot of beautiful trees that have gone missing over time.  That's too bad, because that is one of the things Mark always talks about wanting... trees along the lane. 

Here is a shot of the intersection where our street hits the main road looking East, just a short block from our house back in 1965.  Some of the same shops are still there.

And back in 1964, this anonymous guy stood out in the middle of the street (did his mother teach him nothing about getting hit by a car?) in front of what would notoriously soon become the humble Cleveland beginnings of the famous McCowen Empire.

I don't know about you, but I just love this stuff.


on the table

  • I love that Mark is updating his blog a lot.  I don't need to detail what we've been up to lately, because he is doing a good job of that.  Check my sidebar.
  • Viola learned to climb onto the kitchen table yesterday.  Now she can try to parachute with her diaper to her death from a higher elevation.
  • We have S from AZ as a guest for summer who arrived yesterday.  More fun coming.
  • The bank pushed our home close date again: Jul 16.  The procrastination never ends.
  • Mark and I are buying my mom's house out of the family trust.  If you are a vested interest and I haven't included you in the conversation, please let me know.
Viola is a very happy person right now, so I assume that I'm feeding off of her positive, contagious energy.  I'm so busy and have so many competing priorities but I'm satisfied about what I'm getting out of this hectic life right now more than usual.  Perhaps that is why I was so fascinated by this info I heard about a scientific study on happiness.  These 5 things make people happier:
  • Connect with people and build on your relationships.

  • Be active; Go outside, Get exercise
  • Pay attention to yourself and your world.  Being aware of your world gives you more control over yourself, your expectations and interactions.  Have some quiet reflective time each day.
  • Keep learning.  Feed your natural curiousity and explore new things, skills, ideas, etc.
  • Give as much as you can to others.  Serving yourself does less to build happiness as serving others.




I got my birthday bike in the mail today.  My boss gave it to me as a spot bonus / going away present for my hard work lately... I am definitely still earning it.  I've been doing 12 hour days all week with at least a few more months of this ahead.  I long for the good old days on the Catastrophe Modeling Team with a steady, manageable work flow. 

I was thinking about listing all the Summer-Fun-O-Rama... but you should know by now... it's going to be a marathon of unbelievable proportions at our place.  I'll just try to keep you posted on a week to week basis.  We already kicked it off with three road trips in two weeks... Detroit, MI; Wooster, OH; and Pittsburg.  Pictures and details are on Mark's blog (see the link on my sidebar.)

As usual, we'll probably do more in this summer than most people do in a normal lifetime. I hope you enjoy boring Mommy blog posts about road trip after road trip... and stories about babies eating cardboard boxes,

Speaking of which, my bike came in this enormous box... which Viola used to _____ (try to climb on the coffee table to her death with... Of course.)

Oh, and we have a pool at our apartment... last summer I took Z once and thought is was gross and the tile was cracked and I didn't want her to touch the side of the pool because god knows what was growing in there.  This Spring, they completely resurfaced the inside, painted and cleaned it, and got new patio furniture out there... it looks like a wonderful resort down there.  Awesome.  My babies have matching swimsuits and we're going to wear them out before we leave this place!

12 months

I have been putting the wrong priorities first.  I keep thinking if I work a few extra hours, or work harder, or get X done, then something magical will happen that will make the few difficulties we have in life go away.  The price is that I've missed a lot with Viola.  She's such a cutie... and since I was "too busy" to post anything here - I also have no way of remembering the times we did share.  (Because I'm a bad memory keeper.  Probably why scrapbooking has such an appeal to me... I want to remember the little daily parts of my life that make up the whole... not just the best moments or the vacations or the Christmas mornings... the whole life.)

Viola is fully walking now -- and running.  She stumbles a little like a drunk sometimes, but she can get a move on.  She also has reached the point where she can crawl onto the couch without standing on something.  You might remember that I mentioned previously that she has a suicidal coffee table/couch death wish... it just got crazy.  Daddy now spends about 90% of every day pulling her out of a life compromising position hanging off the couch.

She also plays more interactively with Zola.  They have this favorite game where they take turns screaming into each other's faces.  It's so peaceful to watch them getting along -- .well, it's something.  They follow each other around almost all day, now.  Zola grabs Viola by the hand and says, "Come on, Bi-ya. Let's play toys." Or whatever she wants her to do.  For her part, Viola typically takes the lead when it comes to blows.  She is quite a pincher/hitter and is starting to get more and more mischievous.  I still have a hard time seeing her as the instigator, because she seems so innocent since she's small.  But, we are starting to crack down on some of the things she has taken for granted that she can do.

Since our sliding glass door leads to a small completely childproof balcony with a floor to ceiling window view to everything going on out there, we often leave the door open to allow air, children, and cats to pass freely.   The kids LOVE that balcony.  Zola likes to hold the rail and yell at the neighbors as loud as she can... "Hey, YOU! What you doing? You walking DOG? It's a DOG! What dog DOING?... etc."  And Viola likes to take anything she can get her hands on out there and drop it to the ground below. My daily routine on the return from work is to pick up bottles, toys, hair combs, spoons, sippy cups, etc from the sidewalk.


12 months - V

 Viola is quite a challenge to describe at this age because she is such a big personality and filled with contradictions.  She is extremely laid back and relaxed, and doesn't require a lot of attention.  But, when she needs attention, you best believe she gets it.  She's a complete adventurer with no fear whatsoever and boundless energy, but when she's quiet, she probably just passed out on the ground where she was playing in exhaustion.  She's completely walking now, and only crawls when she's really tired.  She is always on the move.  Even when she's trying to drink her bottle... she lays down for a second but ends up getting up and trying to walk and drink at the same time, which takes more coordination than she has.  She is very clever.  She really, really wants to throw herself off the side of the couch.  I don't know why, but it's a tireless obsession.  She can't quite reach to get her knee up on the couch to get up there, so she is inventive... she will go find something and bring it over to use as a ladder.  She'll pull the couch throw pillows down and use them as stepping stones.  She also figured out that she can pull out the drawers on the side of the coffee table so she was using the inside of the drawer until we flipped it around so that the drawers are on the non-couch side.  Now she pulls out the drawers, uses them to climb up on the coffee table and then tries to Indiana Jones from the coffee table to the couch.  She is determined to die in some kind of couch/coffee table related accident.  You should see her whole right side of her back.  It looks like we took a phone book to it.... but she rarely cries.  She's constantly falling down or getting herself into a scrape.  She just walks it off and keeps trying to kill herself.  Either she's got a very good work ethic or she's not very smart.

 She loves almost everything.  She loves it when you talk to her, hand her things.  She even loves it when Zola rips toys out of her hands, or smacks her on the head with a plastic shovel like a toddler hit man.  She's just flat out happy 99% of the time.  But she make sure the whole world knows when it's her 1% mad time.

She likes to climb on people and throw herself down dramatically onto pillows, dad's crotch, or your face when you least expect it.  She says "daddy" with purpose, and has said "mama" and "kitty" and seems to understand quite a lot of commands (if you say "bye bye" she waves, if you say "come here" she walks over to you, if you say "food" she smacks her lips and so on.) But, she still prefers to just smile rather than make noise.  She recently started dancing, and does this by maneuvering a bunch of squats really fast...  She does watch TV when Zola is getting her allowance of Barney or Sesame Street and seems to be captivated... unfortunately. 

As far as food goes, she is still mostly eating baby food puree and likes mixed vegetables the best, single vegetables second, and fruit comes in last.  She won't eat anything with pureed banana or prune in it and when she doesn't like something, she twists her head and puts her face up against the highchair so you can't put the spoon near her mouth.  She likes finger foods, but we haven't given her too many just because it's logistically difficult at this point to fix three different meals (and unfortunately Zola is becoming more of a specialist eater every day.)

We call her "sister" or "baby" or "viola" and I sometimes call her my "little crazy person" because of her boundless energy and cleverness to figure out how to grab the remote and run out the sliding glass door to the balcony and throw it off the edge before you even realize that you left it in reach... or grabbing the wipes container, figuring out the clasp, and pulling out all of the wipes during the time it takes you to use the restroom.  I expect this stuff from Zola... but I guess it's surprising coming from Viola because she is so small for her age that I sometimes think of her still as a little baby... and Zola definitely was taking her time getting to this level of trouble making aptitude... my little crazy person.  She's going to make life interesting and wonderful.


11 months (V)

This is picture is classic V.  She has SO MUCH personality.  She is so energetic, upbeat, flexible, rambunctious, smiley, and in every way reminds me of Mark.

Z has grown up so much in the last few weeks.  When I left for California, I still thought of her as a baby.  But, after being back for a few weeks, I think of her as a big girl now.  She is so funny.  Here are a few of the funny things she said this week:

"Cool glasses, Dad."
 About dad's driving, "That was fun."
Why she doesn't want to go to bed. "It's dark, and it's too scary."
She knows Sesame Street's characters, and wants to be called "Zoe" after the puppet, instead of her full given name and is constantly correcting everyone.
When sister is crying, "Stop crying.  It's okay.  I got you."
When she falls down, "I'm fine."
As she twirls with her hands in the air. "I'm a ballerina"
"Where's my remote?"
"Can I watch daddy's show?"
"No hitting, Why-oh-ya"
"I want my bwankie." to which mommy replied, "It's a b-L-ankie....  No it's not.  It's a blanket."

Other amusing things I don't know exactly when or where she picked up...
She covers her mouth in a very lady-like way when she coughs.
She is HYPER-POLITE.  Excuse me. (mostly when she wants you to move out of the way)  Thank You (for everything).  I'm sorry (often, but cutest when you accidentally trip over her).  That's okay (when you apologize for accidentally tripping over her).  Please. (with the Cat's eyes from Shrek.)

z;s favorite things are Barney, Elmo, books, trains, helping in the kitchen, brushing her teeth, doing laundry (we have coin op and she likes to put the quarters in), singing and dancing, and giving kisses and hugs.

v's favorite things are crawling and standing (especially if we leave the house... she loves to crawl into the hall of our condo, into the elevator, and into the lobby... no need to pick her up if you want to take her to get the mail) pushing and dragging toys around the house, eating paper/leaves/anything, the cats, her big sister, and she is obsessed with the infant swing that she is too big for now.  She is always trying to crawl into it (I can't wait until we have a place to store it where tempting for her to try to get to.)

Also funny... I have no idea how this will translate.  I was having some kind of weird waking dream the other night and I was leaning over Mark really close.  He started to roll over, and with my face about 2 inches from his, I grabbed his arm really tight and said, "NO~!" and woke both him and myself up.  We both were totally freaked out and went back to sleep.  The next day, he called me at work, and reminded me of this happening.  I had completely forgotten it, but we both ended up laughing so hysterically. I think maybe I was dreaming that we had a newborn baby he was about to rolling over onto or something.  It is so funny what kind of weird things your mind can do.

It's a very busy time.  I hope that things slow down soon, and I can fill you in on all the exciting things that have been going on.



9 months - V

I pierced V's ears yesterday after I took her for her 9 month photos. I really don't know where the time went. She is growing up,


the first viola

I was going to write something about her. But, I can't find the right words. Let the pictures transmit her awesome.