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.