Thursday, March 31, 2011

LOL.16


For those of you unfamiliar with the lolrus, I give you the original lolrus...a sad chap who loves his bucket dearly...and in doing so gave birth to a whole internet meme


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

LOL.15



NOTE: THIS IS ONLY A JOKE (and for those of you who don't know, DCFS is Department of Child and Family Services)

Photo from Ashley and Mike Riley's wedding

Friday, March 25, 2011

Overheard.Big Words - E

January 8th, 2011
E is for Enigma

video

and also E is for Enmity


video

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homeschooling - Spray Bottle

A few of the Montessori activities involve a spray bottle.  One where you spray a house plant with water and wipe down the leaves and another where you spray a surface and clean the surface.  I was pretty sure anything with the spray bottle would be a huge hit with Bella, but it's been even better than anticipated.  I decided I wasn't sure if I wanted her wiping down the leaves of our house plants just yet because she can be a bit rough, so instead I decided to teach her to use the spray bottle to spray the dirt to water the plant.  It's sort of the best of 2 activities...she's learning to water the plants without dumping water everywhere and she's learning to spray without destroying the plant.  We can modify to the real activities once she's ready for them.



Even better...I can fill up the spray bottle, hand her a towel and a plant and set her loose for a good 30 minutes and she's happy as a clam.  Of course, the actual activity usually ends up looking like this:


Yes she's spraying herself in the mouth...which is why the bottle is always full of clean water and not old water or anything else. This came about because I explained to her that water helped feed the plant.  I might have also squirted her in the mouth and explained that the plant was drinking the water just like her...but I'm not actually admitting to that. I'm thinking I should maybe label that bottle nice and big with the word and symbol for water and teach her to look for that label before haphazardly spraying into her mouth...that's now on the 'to do' list for tomorrow.  She also thinks it's hilarious to squirt me (with permission, because it isn't so hilarious without permission) or Vinny (sometimes with permission, sometimes with a little secret encouragement from me) or to have one of us spray her.  Happiness...is a spray bottle. I think it will be even better this summer when it gets to double as a squirt gun outside!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

30 seconds - Lovin' Pippen

Bella loves Pippen more than he would like most of the time. He takes all her love like a little trooper though. (Note that the Pippen love is at the end of this video...I just couldn't cut out her total indecision there at beginning)

video

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I love the Backyardigans 1 - I love being a princess

I think the Backyardigans is probably my favorite kids show of all time.  I just love their little songs and the cute things they say.  I finally got some for Bella and she's gotten really into them and imitates them quite a bit.  I wanted to share some of the uber-cute.

First the inspiration:


And now Bella's version...which morphs around 25 seconds into the hello, how are you song we do every morning to start our day, and then she gets distracted by the cat and the moment is lost - but you get the idea:

video



Of course she didn't want to do more than 1 line while I was videoing.  But we listened to her in bed last night for at least 30 minutes singing that one line over and over and over again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Audubon Society

Bella and I headed over to the Audubon society of Rhode Island today with our new friends, (mom) Melissa, (Bella's buddy) Mariella, and (baby brother) Daniel.  The Barrington library has a pass that lets in 2 adults and up to 4 kids, so we got to go totally F-R-E-E which, for me, spells YAY!  There was a neat dark room where you press the buttons to light up the different animals that come out at night, a area where you could look through bubble windows and see pheasants, a touch tank (though no one was there to let the kids actually touch anything), and a gigantic whale model (that might have been actual size) and the back side of it was cut open and you could see how big all the different internal organs were.  That last one was sort of disturbing actually.




It was a gorgeous day out (gorgeous for RI currently being in the upper 50's out and sunny) so we walked the trail down to the ocean (which is basically a boardwalk through the salt marsh) and back. Mariella was a great listener and stayed near us...Bella not so much. We basically chased her down there.  After I threatened to hold her hand the whole way back she finally started walking at least.




We managed to do pretty much nothing St. Patrick's day-ish today except wear green.  Oh well.  Good thing I celebrated last week!

What did you do for (the real) St. Patrick's day?

Overheard.3 - Impressionable

So at the end of each Backyardigans episode, the characters all go into a house for snack.  And they say what they're going to have for snack.  Lately, it never fails that Bella follows this by immediately asking for whatever snack they are having. So at the end of the episode we were just watching, they ran inside yelling, "Yum, pretzels!" And Bella, as usual, said, "I want pretzels!"  So I turned to her and said..."Wow, you sure are impressionable these days."

Her response: "I want impressionable!"

Point made.

Also, I do not think that means what you think it means...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Potty Training Time!

Bella has been in pull ups for some time now, and it feels like she's never going to be potty trained.  We've tried sticker rewards and I even resorted to M&M's last week, which seems to be working better.  So, on Monday after I picked her up from daycare I bit the bullet and put her in underwear for the first time.




She was so excited!  The first day I put her in just the underwear and modified some tights so they were leg warmers by cutting off the top and feet.  She ran around all afternoon telling me "I need PANTS," but no accidents Monday.  Can't say the same for the rest of the week unfortunately.  These underwear have an extra layer so it isn't so messy if she has an accident (they call them training unders), but I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of laundry in the next few weeks.  We still put her in pull-ups for naps and nighttime, but it's a step in the right direction.  Being wet in clothes certainly seems to make a bigger impression than the pull ups did.  On me as well as on her.  I'm now getting used to making sure we have 2 changes of clothes with us whenever we go anywhere.

And for good measure...a picture from a while back (in late December) of her reading on the potty.  How funny is it that she's wearing the same shirt in both pictures!?


Any bets on how many loads of laundry we have to do this week?

Overheard.Big Words - B


January 8, 2011
B is for Bewilderment


video

Bella's Beloved - The Barrington Playground

On Sunday, it was pretty nice outside. (Of course, 'nice' is relative...it was sunny and in the lower 50's)  But any hint of spring and the New Englanders are out in force.  So I took Bella and Josie to the Barrington playground to get out some energy and soak up some vitamin D.


The place was packed.  Josie was a huge hit and was a very good girl.


And Bella had a blast too, especially once I finally convinced her to try the swings.  They have these cool swings that feel sort of like a roller coaster because of where your center of balance is.  (Warning: if you're prone to motion sickness, this video may not be for you)


video

I'm looking forward to many more days over there as the weather gets a bit warmer.  What's your favorite outdoor activity during the spring?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hurry Spring

I am so sick of the cold weather!  We finished up our firewood last week.  We went through a full 3 cords this year plus a little bit that was left over from last year.  And even though the heat is going, I just can't seem to get warm.  Today though, the sun is shining brightly and it feels like spring is on it's way.  We even have these little beauties in the front flower bed:



Pippen and Josie seem to be feeling it too.  I let Josie out to run around the backyard, and when I asked her to come inside, this is what she did:



Pippen also tried to follow her outdoors, but he's still getting over some crud so I'm not ready to let him explore there yet.  So he enjoyed the sunlight from inside:



What is the first thing you look for to tell you spring has really arrived?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bella's First Musical - Lion King

As part of Bella's birthday present this year we took her to see The Lion King at the Providence Performing Arts Center.  Entry into the theater produced the expected gasp of amazement. (This theater is pretty spectacular)  And we found our seats and apologized to every one around us in advance just in case.  We had a long talk about how it's not a television so she had to stay quiet so the actors could concentrate and how we would clap for them when they were done.


The lights went down and I put her on my lap so she could see and she sat there in rapt amazement for pretty much the whole first half.  She clapped when everyone else clapped and I was immensely proud.  Then came the sad scene, where Mustafa falls into the gorge and dies (hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone) and Simba is crying over him.  The theater was utter silence except for one baby down in the front and our daughter bursts into applause yelling "YAAAAAAY' at the top of her lungs.  Of course this was followed by a good round of laughter from our section of the theater.  A great memory to have.

She sat for almost the whole show and only got antsy toward the end.  Overall a great experience.  I look forward to taking her to shows for many years to come.

So what about you?  Have you ever taken your child to a live production (play, musical, concert)?  What's your favorite memory from it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Celebrating St. Paddy's Day

OK...so I thought St. Patrick's day was this past Thursday, instead of next Thursday.  So I spent all day trying to teach Bella all about St. Patrick's day.  And I guess I'll just finish the leprechaun craft I was working on next week on the real  St. Patrick's Day.

I thought Bella might be a bit young to appreciate the traditional green beer, so instead I made her a leprechaun lunch.


(And yes she was still in pajama's at lunchtime...no excuses, it just sometimes happens)

There was not one complaint about the funny color everything was...maybe because she helped turn it that color.

A side note about that: toddlers have a much longer reach than we parents give them credit for.  So, always a good idea to put the food coloring away in a very high cabinet once you're done, otherwise you end up with something like this:

which was accompanied by a healthy dose of blue on the walls and counters.  Luckily it came off almost everything.  If you clean it early, it's easier.  She was so proud of herself for getting the cap off too.  I couldn't really be mad at her.

OK, back to our too-early St. Paddy's day:

After nap we made fingerprint 4 leaf clovers and a rainbow and made some glitter coins for the leprechaun's pot o' gold.  Yay crafts!  Bigger YAY, vacuum cleaner for all the glitter!



Maybe next week we'll get to the cabbage and potatoes and the actual leprechaun!  And it will give me some time to figure out what the real story of St. Patrick's Day is so I can teach it to her.

What do you remember most about St. Patrick's Day?  Any fun activity suggestions?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Overheard.Big Words - A

I got Bella to do a series of big words while she still can't pronounce anything because it's just too cute.  This first series was done on January 8th, 2011. So, without further ado, we present:

A is for Animation

video

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Overheard.2

A few days ago I brought in the groceries and was putting everything away when Bella started asking me for a snack.  So I asked her what she wanted for snack.  She kept saying she wanted little burgers.  Of course, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why she wanted little burgers, given that we are a vegetarian family (99% of the time), but she kept insisting.  So I asked her to show me what she wanted...

The Punchline

Oh dear...Mommy likes little burgers for snack too.  We may have a fight on our hands.

30 Seconds - ABCs

Bella sings the ABC's to get you prepped for our next blogger project...stay tuned!

video

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Overheard.1

So, this begins a new series chronicling the crazy stuff that comes out of my child's mouth (and other crazy stuff I overhear too perhaps)

We begin with today's hilarity.  Bella was in the bathroom while I was in the living room.  I heard her turn on the water, so she must have gotten out the stool.  I heard the water turn off.  Then there was a loud CRASH, a hideous THUNK and the wails of my child.  So I ran into the bathroom and scooped her up, searching for the blood or broken bones.  And I'm saying, "Bella, are you ok?  Where did you hit, tell Mommy what you hit..."

Through tear soaked face she sobbed, "The floooooooor!"

I started laughing, despite the situation, and a few seconds later she joined me.

(No toddlers were damaged permanently in the making of this hilarious moment)

Shaping the way we eat

Of late, Bella has become quite the picky eater. The doctor says our job is to just keep offering a wide variety of things and not to worry too much if she doesn't eat them. I need to be reminded of that every few days though. We've done the sneaky vegetables, carrots and sweet potatoes usually get past, or spinach pasta, things like that.  I was in the grocery store this week though and saw that goldfish (of the goldfish crackers brand) is now making goldfish shaped sandwich bread.  I wanted to get some flat wheat bread anyway, so it seemed like icing on top that it was fishy shaped.  This morning we had fishy shaped fruit pizza for breakfast, cream cheese and bananas on top.  Went over pretty well.  Thank you to the food companies for playing to my toddler!


I've seen trying themes of food to make meals fun (like all round food or food of all one color) as well as methods of presenting the food (like feeding in a muffin tray or eating on a picnic blanket instead of at the table).  Any tricks you have tried to get your picky eater to eat?

The Origins of Pippen and Josie

aka: how we went from a 2 dachshund house to a no pet house, to a 1 cat, 1 dog and 2 fish house

So I promised this story, if nothing more than for posterity's sake.  In about August, we finally heard from the dachshund rescue group we got Logan from that they had found a foster home for Caidie and Logan.  We loved Caidie and Logan.  Still do.  But Bella was really hard on two little dogs under 25lbs who had arthritis and couldn't get away from her.  So we realized that it was the best thing to do for their sake.  About a month later we heard that they were placed with a retired family in upstate New York and they are being pampered to their hearts' content.


It was the best possible outcome we could have come up with for them.  So for about 4 months we got to experience what it would be like to be pet-free.

With the advent of this whole 'me staying home and doing the Montessori thing,' I realized that we would have to allow pets in our lives again.  One of the activities in the curriculum is a discussion about what it means to be a plant vs. an animal.  The little sheets give you a run down of what materials you'll need.  Most of them are things like, '3 cups, a pouring container, and some dry grain' or something like that.  This one, however, says that we will need several animals and plants.  HURRR?  Excuse me?  "Several?"  Really?  So I thought I'd get Bella several fish and a live plant in the fishtank.  Problem solved.  Christmas brought her an aquarium with 2 goldfish and a real live plant.  Of course, the gold fish did nothing but hide behind the plant the best they could, but there we have it...several.

Over the course of the holiday break though, it crept into my head that perhaps fish alone were not 'animal' enough to really drive the point home, so I started looking into cats.  I read perhaps a bit too much on I Can Has Cheezburger and had gotten quite enamored with both scottish folds and munchkin cats.  After some research I found that Scottish folds also have some other genetic anomalies besides the cute ears that can cost a ton of money in the long run, so I ruled that one out.  Munchkins seemed to get a pretty decent bill of health.  So we I found a great breeder in Pennsylvania  who bred munchkins that had point patterning (like siamese cats).

 In the meantime, Vinny was trying to convince me that we should get a cat from a shelter.  I agreed to look, but I was set on the point pattern.  So he sends me a chat message one day and says he's on craig's list and they have the cutest Jack Russell terrier on there and can he have him.  I told him to bite me.  A few minutes later he sends me a link and says...'oh oh oh...there is a siberian husky, free to good home and I really want her.'  Thinking he is just totally messing with me I snap back some snarky message.  About 30 minutes later he asks if I ever looked at the link and I told him no, because he was crazy.  After going ON and ON about this dog and how perfect she was, he ends with, "And I LOVE her!"  Now, those of you who know Vinny know that this is just not something that he says for anything.  And he rarely asks for anything.  So I felt obligated to email the people and at least meet this dog.  I got an email back saying they already had a bunch of interest in her but they would let us know if it didn't work out.

Now, when I tell you Vinny was upset about this...it's a huge understatement.  He was downright distraught.  To the point where I started looking into Siberian Husky breeders.  (BTW, we found an amazing Husky breeder in case anyone is ever looking)  I was to the point where I was ready to put down a deposit on a future litter, but of course wanted to make sure that the craig's list Husky (We didn't know her name at the time) was truly gone first.  So I shot the folks a quick email and got back a reply saying that they hadn't found her a home yet and giving me their number to call them.  The next thing I know, we've arranged for them to come by and bring Jo-C to meet us.  You should have seen the look on Vinny's face when I told him that this dog was coming over in 30 minutes.  You could have run cities off the solar power that grin was giving off.  I even managed to get in a super quick house cleaning courtesy of his adrenalin rush.  They brought her in and it was all over from there.  She never left.  She just fit in too perfectly.


A slight spelling change of her name made her our Josie.  A few days later we went and picked up Pippen, and now here we are!  Things aren't always perfect.  Exhibit A:



But they're still pretty great.  We got rid of the crate and Josie isn't destructive at all around the house.  She's crazy excited to see us if we leave her longer than an hour, but no damage.  And we worked really hard with her and have her comfortable enough with the crate that we can put her in it if we have to, like when we have a house showing and aren't around to be able to take her for a ride with us to get her out of the way.  She's great with Bella (can't wait to show you roller-sledding) and sleeps with us at night.

Pippen is a total doll.  He loves to play, loves to snuggle.  He's very gentle and is basically my dream cat, not to mention a total cutie pie.  He's battling a respiratory infection, so he sneezes a lot, hoping he'll be over that soon.


We're trying to keep Bella from over-snuggling him and stressing him out, and we're maybe 50% effective.  I think if he'd just give her a good wallop one time, she'd be more cautious about grabbing him, but he refuses to defend himself around her.  So, we just keep trying.  I guess that's why the lesson said several, because each one provides it's own set of challenges, and kids need to learn about them all.

How about you?  How did you decide on and/or end up with the pets you have?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras 2011

Happy Mardi Gras!  We had a doctors appointment tonight with Bella (30.2 lbs, 3 ft .25 inches in case you were curious) so we couldn't celebrate Mardi Gras properly this evening, so we celebrated Lundi Gras instead.  Given that in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is more like a month long celebration and I've only been out on actual Mardi Gras day once, I think that it was sort of fitting.

So, Bella invited her BFF Xander and his family over so they could laissez le bon temps roulez! (let the good time's roll)  Requisite menu, particularly for a Monday evening, was red beans and rice.  I even broke my usual vegetarianism to eat a piece of anduille sausage, which I think isn't properly done unless sliced on an angle and seared before it goes into the beans.

And we also had the necessary accoutrement of cornbread, though it gave me a run for my money.  I've never had cornbread so dead set against being done.

This was pretty last minute, so I had no king cake specially shipped in or anything cool like that. In a moment of mommy genius, I realized that king cake was basically just cinnamon bread and icing, and instead got some canned cinnamon rolls and put them in a circle in a cake pan to cook.  I popped some green M&Ms in the bottom of one as a stand in for the baby (I wasn't really comfortable cooking plastic in my cinnamon rolls) and threw some icing on it when it came out.  Then the kids helped decorate the 'king cake' and the kitchen rug.  I wish I had just purple green and gold sugar...but again...we're working with what's in the cabinet here. I can't tell you how much I love this picture with Zoe getting in on the action.  You'll notice she was adorned with some beads as well.  Smart girl, that one!
The resulting cake was quite reminiscent of actual king cake, so that made me happy.
Happy Mardi Gras!
After the adults chose their pieces at random, I admit I cheated and checked and the special piece was still there, so I put that one on a plate for them and explained to them about how one piece was special.  We went with the froo froo version where the person who gets the special piece gets to be king or queen (or in our case king and queen) for the day since, if we leave it to these guys to buy the next cake, we won't be having cake for quite some time.  Then we cut it in half and sat back and watched the excitement when they realized they had the special piece.

All in all, a very successful night.  Now I just need to go do something about those sprinkles on the kitchen floor :)  

What do you think?  Have you ever thrown together a holiday celebration in a pinch?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stay at home mom

Back in December I made a pretty big decision, to start staying home with Bella. I almost went cold turkey, but somehow managed to regain some sanity. Or maybe I gained a little in-sanity, because now I'm going to school one day a week, and I'm home with Bella the other 4 days a week.  The one upside to doing both is that I have a good excuse anytime I fail at one or the other.

But, as with most things, I dove in head first. (That explains a lot doesn't it!?) We chose to get a 3 year curriculum program from North American Montessori Center that will take us through age 6. We converted the back sunroom into a classroom, and cordoned her usual toys that don't fit the Montessori model into the playroom. I'm hoping to blog more about this homeschooling journey soon. For now, here is a photo of Bella, very proud of herself, after successfully completing a clothes pinning activity.



And because I dove in head first, I got a bit of a concussion (like how I stuck with the whole pool diving metaphor?). I was grumpy, the house was a mess, I found myself still in pjs at dinner time, and realized that I hadn't left the house in 4 days. Oops.

So I'm getting my feet back under me. Trying to take smaller steps and feeling better about the whole thing. Hopefully keep you posted on that front, but I'm proud to report that I managed to put on actual clothes today and got some on Bella too, YAY!

We also got a new cat, and a new dog. Post to be done soon with the full story (can you tell my new resolution is to blog more?). But suffice it to say that our new additions are providing much entertainment, a lot of laughs, and a lot of frustrations. Here they are, Pippen and Josie (cat and dog respectively), who will likely get a few posts of their own here and there.















Vinny's car finally kicked the bucket (or rather...became so decrepit it wasn't worth fixing), so we also have a new car, which Vinny is immensely pleased about.  It's a 2011 Acura MDX.  He had it all of about 2 weeks before he knocked the side mirror off backing out of the garage.  But it is back in mint condition again, and hubby is happy...what can I say about that, other than 'life is bella.' :)

The Navy finally got back to us about where we'll be moving in July. They tell us they won't know anything official until congress approves a budget (so needless to say we aren't holding our breath for the official letter), but we are told that their plan is to send us to Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. We're thrilled to be moving closer to our NC family, but sad to be leaving our RI friends and our MA family and friends. I'm nervous about the whole thing. I've logged a pretty ridiculous number of hours looking at houses in the Camp Lejeune area. We're using spring break in a few weeks to go down and look at houses and hopefully relax a bit.  I'm hoping for a bit of warm weather too.  Very tired of the snow we've been under up in Rhode Island this winter.

An upcoming move also mean our house is on the market.  We're going to attempt to sell it, but may end up renting it if necessary.  What that really means, is that until further notice, the house has to be able to be clean and presentable in an hour or less.  So the elves have been put on high alert and we're actually attempting to clean up after ourselves.

And last but not least, a snapshot from our life.

(And for those of you who notice that she's shirtless...I said I got clothes on her today, I never promised that they all stayed on for the whole day)