Tag Archives: Life

Dear Coco, for your 5th birthday

31 May

Dear Coco,

Your 5th birthday came and went in a whirlwind of activity. Grandmothers coming to visit, parties, new jobs and new schools have had us so busy that, although I wrote this letter and chose these pictures about 9 months ago, they are only just now getting published. I apologize, but as your 6th birthday is imminent, I felt it necessary to put this one up sooner, rather than never.

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Playing in the kitchen while singing a song.

The start of your 4th year was full of exploring and learning new things, particularly reading. We began working on simple words and sounding things out, and you have progressed so much! By now you are able to read some of your easy reader books all by yourself and can sound out more complicated words all on your own. As much as you enjoy reading, you still enjoy being read to more.

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You and every other girl were Elsa for Halloween!

While your knowledge has increased, some things remain the same. Playing dolls and make believe, concocting “science experiments” or “cooking” in the kitchen are still high on the list of play, but you’ve also added in more complicated puzzles and board games, and some role playing, such as playing school or veterinarian. We also enrolled you in gymnastics over the summer, and although I don’t see a career as an Olympic gymnast in your future, you really enjoyed the classes!

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Great sense of fashion

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And adorable no matter what you wear!

During the past year you were at preschool at least several days a week where you made some great friends that we have enjoyed having playdates with occasionally. It is really fun to see you develop real friendships and I look forward to hearing about all your new friends in kindergarten. It has also become apparent that with your friends, like with us, you enjoy directing the game play and coming up with whole worlds in which to play (everyone is a princess and has a castle, and you go visit each other’s castles, for instance).

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See? More “soup” making.

Daddy and I are very lucky that you remain a generally sweet girl who still loves to hug and cuddle and shows a desire to take care of people. When one of us feels sick or is sad you like to bring us a toy or give us a hug to make us better. Oh sure, we have our rough moments, but even those are outweighed by your sweetness.

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Sweet in your Easter dress

At some point this year you and your brother went from coexisting to becoming real friends and occasional compatriots in play. Although, like with most brother-sister pairs, the game play involves princesses and superheros, monsters and fairies, evil queens and dragons. It can be quite a riot in the house, especially when one of you is casting (very loud) spells and the other is being a fire-breathing dragon! But we love seeing you play together and develop a great friendship.

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But Easter Egg hunting is way more fun in a costume, naturally.

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Never a quiet moment at our house!

Some things have remained the same, and some have changed. Without further ado, your current favorites:

Toys: Douglas, as always, remains a favorite, although you are becoming slightly less attached. And by slightly I mean a very minuscule bit.  My Little Ponies, dolls, any puppies, and legos have been big this year, and books (especially Pinkalicious and fairy tale stories). A lot of toys become ingredients in a cake that you’re pretending to bake.

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No, Coco, we can’t keep it.

Movies/TV: My Little Pony (all the time, in any way possible), Strange Magic, Harry Potter, and the Tinkerbell movies. Usually a movie watching experience is followed by a round of pretend play, where we are all different characters from the movie and occasionally have to act out scenes. But every movie is followed by a dance party while the credits play!

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You cried when we had to wash your face!

Food: Quesadillas, and pretty much anything that has cheese on it. Pasta carbonara, jambalaya, bananas and apples. You aren’t too picky of an eater, thankfully, but we still have to coax you to try new things.

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Douglas is still your best friend.

Activities: Reading, drawing, and playing make believe. This summer you loved swimming and began swimming without a floaty, plus jumping in all on your own (a major accomplishment for a girl who didn’t want to get her face wet at the start of the summer)!

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My little water baby!

You have grown so much from 4 to 5 and surprised us in many ways. I can only imagine how much different you will be next year, after a full year of kindergarten and all the new skills you will learn! I can’t wait!

Love,

Mama

Dear Coco, on your 4th birthday

28 Aug

My dear Coco,

Hugging her pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

Hugging your pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

You have taught me a lot this year – I learned that I have great patience for messes, but not for puzzles; that there is always time for one more hug; and that a snuggle can cure any wrongs, especially when the snuggle is with someone as loving as you.

Jumping in the leaves!

Jumping in the leaves!

Somewhere in the course of this year you became a little girl, full of little girl opinions (princesses are the best), best friends, and favorites of all kinds (chocolate, princesses, and, like most other girls, anything Frozen). I am continually in awe of your imagination, which has only grown with each passing year. Every day you concoct some grand make believe game that we are all required to participate in, whether we want to or not. You have also discovered card games and board games, which gives us a chance to slow down and play something where the rules don’t change every few seconds.

Sassy girl

Sassy girl

Biscuit is your biggest fan. He adores you so much – he always wants to play with you, and you are generally really good about including him in some way or another. Whenever we go to the park I usually see him tagging along after you, and I can hear you calling for him to “come this way!” or to “follow me!” And, like all siblings, there are times when you just don’t see eye to eye, but I get it. I have a brother too.

Brrr, it was a cold winter!

Brrr, it was a cold winter!

In September we started you back to preschool 2 days a week. It was a rough transition – you had been home with me and your brother everyday for over a year, and you were not happy to be away from us. It took a long time, but you made some wonderful friends who made school fun for you. The switch to your new school after our most recent move went pretty well, and you’ve got a new best friend that you look forward to seeing. We have definitely noticed that preschool has been wonderful for you. Your social skills have greatly improved, you have really learned how to play by yourself, and you are very interested in learning how to read. It is also becoming apparent that you are a natural leader.

The height of fashion

The height of fashion

These improved social skills are apparent at home, too. We have real conversations about how our day went, what you like and want to do, and how things are made/work/fit together. You have a pretty extensive vocabulary, which gets put to great use between all the questions and conversations. Best of all, your sense of humor has gotten bigger as you have learned to pick up on some really important things, like sarcasm. Occasionally you decide to tell us a joke, but they usually don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Before the haircut

Before the haircut

 

After the haircut!

After the haircut!

So let’s see what things played a big role in your life this year:

Books – the Disney Princess Collections and your big book of fairy tales.

Flower child

Flower child

Food – Mac and cheese, jambalaya, pasta carbonara – you still aren’t picky about most foods, except that you just aren’t a fan of fruit. But you’ll eat almost any vegetable.

This is what happens when we let you pick your own outfit.

This is what happens when we let you pick your own outfit.

 Movies/TV – Frozen (We watched this so much that you actually managed to get tired of it for awhile. We don’t watch it so much anymore, but you still insist on being called Elsa much of the time), Tangled, and Cinderella. Not surprisingly, you really enjoy the show Sophia the First (about a princess), but also Daniel Tiger, Paw Patrol, and Wallykazam.

Fun at the beach!

Fun at the beach!

At the Monarch butterfly farm

At the Monarch butterfly farm

Toys – Douglas, of course, continues to claim the biggest part of your heart. But also dolls! You have all these Disney princess dolls that you adore and play with each and every quiet time. They’re always naked (what is it with little girls and taking off doll clothes?). Any puppy toy is immediately cherished, and lately Andre has become your snuggling companion during quiet time.

Activities – drawing and painting, playing with Play-doh, swimming, playing with the water table, any sort of pretend play. Recently we have started taking you on Daddy/Coco or Mama/Coco dates, to do things like see a movie or get some ice cream. We all really cherish these times together.

You still love painting

You still love painting

And you still love donuts.

And you still love donuts.

Having you around has made the last 4 years terrific, and we look forward to all the years we have ahead. You are a wonderful and special girl, and I love every little part of you!

Love always,

Mama

P.S. Please forgive how late this letter was. I actually wrote it right before your birthday, but the pictures were on your Daddy’s computer, and he really needed it to study for his board exams. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Dear Biscuit, on your second birthday

4 Aug

Dear Biscuit,

Somehow, another year has passed and you have moved from toddlerhood to little boyhood, and it is an exciting and occasionally alarming stage in our house. Although you are no longer a baby, you are still cuddly and loving; rarely do I get a chance to sit down without you (or your sister) climbing into my lap. I love it!

Never a dull moment!

This past year you have gone from walking to running and jumping, galloping, and attempting to do forward rolls. The last one still eludes you, but you have reached a high level of proficiency in the rest. In fact, the only times you are really still and quiet are when you are sleeping. Which, I might add, has improved leaps and bounds! At some point this year you finally started sleeping past 5 am! Now you reliably sleep to past 6, which is a miracle, and you wake up happy – no more standing in bed yelling for Mama to come get you immediately.

Yes, rocks need hugs too.

If you aren’t actively moving and running around the house, you are probably playing. Toys are still a big part of your life, but you also love playing with Coco and tend to chase her around the house. Whether this is something she enjoys or despises varies from day to day, but you always love to chase!

You like to “help” bake.

Not only are you active in body, but your little brain has been really developing this year. You can speak in full sentences (although it’s still a language that only we can understand), recite your ABCs (you tend to get hung up on K – H I J KKKKKKKKKK L M N….), identify a few colors, and count to 10 pretty reliably.

Playing in the leaves was a fall favorite.

 

Look at you go!

Pretend play and imagination is big right now, and you continually tell us that you are a superhero; your favorites are Superman, Captain America, and Mr. Incredible. Thanks to your daddy’s influence, you are also a budding fan of the Ninja Turtles, or the Ninna Tuddas, as you call them.

Deep in thought.

In January of this past year you started daycare a few days a week. I’m not sure who it was more rough on, me or you! After 18 months of hanging out with you everyday I was sad to not have you around! It took awhile, but we’ve both adjusted, and now you happily roll into class and are starting to make some friends at school. You are learning to share and not steal, and, although we are having a problem with pinching lately, you always tell us you are sorry when you do.

Snack time!

I don’t know who you get this from (yes I do, but it’s not nice to point fingers) but you are a flirt! You do this super adorable thing, mostly when around girls, where you cock your head to the side, smile a little closed-mouth smile, and batt your eyelashes. Once you’ve caught her attention, you either smile bigger and wave, saying “hewwo!” or you laugh and run away. You’ll be a heartbreaker, my boy.

See, more baking “help”

There are some definite favorite things in your life:
Books – The Three Little Pigs, Curious George – I am so tired of reading these books that I’m tempted to hide them

I have no idea what this was about.

Food – Pasta, mac and cheese, quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, chicken, pizza, and cheese. Lots of cheese. You aren’t picky in general, but veggies can be a challenge, and usually get left on the plate.

Somehow, you both still fit in there!

Movies – Frozen (your sister has a little influence in the movie choices, but you always, always, ask for Frozen first) and The Incredibles. You also enjoy some TV shows on occasion: Little Einsteins, Daniel Tiger, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

It’s a hard life for a little guy.

Toys – You never connected to a toy the way Coco has to Douglas, for which I am grateful. But you do love your Pirate Ship, Coco’s Anna doll (from Frozen), cars and trucks, and playing catch.

Recently you’ve gone through a shirt-hating phase.

Activities – Playing with the water table, swimming, blowing bubbles, drawing, and chasing everyone around the house, including the cat. You love to ask us to “be Marshmallow” (also from Frozen, do you see a theme?) and then we chase you around the house too. Basically, we do a lot of chasing.

Shoulders, Daddy, shoulders!

All in all, it has been a wonderful year, full of changes and fun. We all love you and adore you, and I hope that, as you grow, you never lose your sense of wonder or your love of cuddles.

Happy birthday, Little Man,

Love,

Mama

Let’s talk about this new house, shall we?

23 May

There have been a few things really taking up most of the space in my mind lately; the clear and easy winner is:

The New House

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Behold! The future dwelling of 2 quasi-adults, 2 insane children, a misanthropic cat, and a dog with very short legs.

Very little other things have taken much of my spare thoughts from the house, except for most recently, when I’ve been distracted by baking pies and making ice cream. All about the desserts over here.

There are many reasons we are ready to get out of our current abode, which are being enumerated on twitter in no particular order and certainly in no numerical order. One day I will figure out how to get them all together and post them on here, but not yet, as that requires some sort of internet sorcery that I have yet to master. Regardless, the absolute hands down number 1 reason we are so incredibly ready to move is:

No More Landlords.

Since graduating from high school many moons ago we have lived in college housing and rental properties. Not always together, mind you! We didn’t even start dating until 2 weeks before I graduated from college and moved halfway across the country. Great timing, right? Long distance is definitely the way to start a new relationship, let me tell ya!

I digress.

We close on the new house in 1 week, if the bank gets all the paper work processed in time, which they just better, because we signed the contract 6 weeks ago and they are dragging their feet and I have bigger things to worry about than if other people are doing their jobs my heartburn can’t take it anymore! Whew, lets all take a nice relaxing breath, shall we?

Okay, better now.

Something about owning our own place makes us feel like real adults. Getting to paint the rooms, changing the carpet if you don’t like it, hanging pictures and curtains wherever you want without fear of putting new holes in the walls. It’s pretty great to think about! We are hoping to stay there for a very very long time, if not forever, but I personally have a hard time thinking about it. Having lived a fairly nomadic lifestyle since leaving high school, I find it hard to imagine living in one place more than a few years. I find myself thinking “oh, we should buy such and such a piece of furniture for the new place” followed by “why bother, we’ll just be moving again in a few years.” Then I remind myself that we hopefully won’t be moving again in a few years, and I just can’t wrap my head around it. It’s like I have a block that won’t let me imagine life more than 3 years in the future. Is that just me? Do other people have that problem too? Maybe it’s a science nomad thing? Please tell me I’m not just a weirdo. Well, any more a weirdo than I already know myself to be.

Some other things we are really looking forward to include: a yard, a playroom for the kids, a real kitchen with a pantry and granite countertops, new appliances, a master bath that is bigger than a closet, actual closet space, a garage. Let’s not forget we are more than doubling the square footage from our current place. That’s just the broad overview.

So, the next week will be filled with packing and cleaning and throwing out anything we don’t want to take with us. And probably making some more ice cream. And maybe another pie before we box up our kitchen.

 

In which I ramble about, uh, stuff

22 Apr

Okay kids! Let me tell you a little bit about what’s been going on lately. In the form of a list, because I love lists, lists are good.

1. We bought a house! A real, honest to goodness house with a yard and a dining room and a bathroom where GP and I can both brush our teeth at the same time without accidentally spitting on each other. Closing is on May 30 and will move in almost immediately after that. We actually moved the closing date up by 2 weeks because we cannot stand to stay in our current place any longer. I mean, I don’t mind sharing my house with my cat and my dog, but I really don’t like sharing with an unknown amount of mice. That’s just nasty.

2. I got new yarn to work on Biscuit’s baby blanket. Maybe I should start calling it something other than his baby blanket, though. My goal is to finish it before he turns 2….Hopefully it will not be too small to cover him by then. If it is, too bad. I’m putting it on him anyway. A wool blanket in summer? Probably better if it only covers his feet anyway.

3. I ran myself a half marathon on the 13th and did pretty dang good! Finished in 1:57:07, which is a PR by over 2 minutes! Not bad considering I only had about 5 weeks to train for it because I am slightly wacko. I ran with a friend of mine (@sassysparky on Twitter) and she beat me by about 5 seconds. The course was pretty hilly, but my legs eat hills for breakfast, followed by waffles with peanut butter. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I might consider doing it again next year (or the full, if I am feeling even crazier).  Now that I’ve completed both of my running goals for 2014 (that was fast) I have to come up with something new to strive for.

4. So I’ve started doing pushups again. Started yesterday, and I think it was a bad idea. Arms sore. Baby heavy.

5. I should really work on not calling Biscuit a baby anymore.

6. Spring is finally here! The only thing that could be better is if we just jumped right in to summer and stayed there FOREVER!

Okay, that’s all I got. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tales and Tails

17 Mar

Oooo, look at all the dust around here! I would say that things have been busy since I last posted, but that would just be a lie. Honestly, things have been mostly the same, only I have been lazy. But I do have a couple of updates for you all and a couple of pictures of something I have been working on.

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Pile-o-parts

First up, big news: I started my job at the end of January! Job searching was an arduous and defeating process, but this particular job fell in my lap. My postdoc advisor left his old position and took a new one at a contract research organization. He contacted me sometime this fall, asking if I would be interested in working for him, part time, from a distance. Well, that’s just about perfect! So the kids are in daycare/preschool 2 days a week and I get my work hours in whenever I can manage. It also means I still have 3 days at home with the kiddos for now! The goal is to make this position full time once the lab getsmore contracts and work, but for now I’m only needed on a part time basis.

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The headless Hobbes.

Second tale to tell is that, surprise surprise, we will be moving again this summer! I mean really, you’d think that moving is our favorite summer activity, but you’d be wrong. However, we will be at our next location for several years, if not forever, so we are going to do something new and drastic.

We’re going to buy a house.

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Hobbes doesn’t care about home buying. He just wants a body.

What?!? I know, I know. Between us we have 5 degrees, 2 kids, a dog, a cat, and lots of belongings, but we’ve never lived in one place long enough to justify buying. Now, at long last, we can join the world of homeowners. The thought was really exciting until we realized we know absolutely nothing about purchasing a home. Man, we have so much to learn. Got any tips? Leave them in a comment below or send them via twitter or facebook! We could use all the advice you have to give!

And for the tail: these pictures you see  are of Hobbes. Our good friend had a baby, oh, 6 months ago, and he needed a Hobbes all of his own. Naturally I decided to make a crocheted one, because I would be nothing if not over-ambitious in my crochet abilities. I made his head really quickly and then he just sat around in a bag until the past 2 weeks. Then I got to work and finished all the other body pieces.

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Making friends with Anna and Elsa.

I learned something very important in the making of Hobbes. I learned that I really despise crochet. I can’t “read” my work like I can with knitting. I can barely even count stitches, and since they seem to move every round I can barely keep track of where rounds begin. I just don’t get it, man. I can knit intricate and delicate pieces, but crocheting in a circle is hard. Real hard. Don’t even get me started on sewing crocheted pieces together. It took about 3 tries to get the head on right. Maybe more; there is a good possibility I have repressed some head-sewing memories.

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Pass me the coffee!

So now that Hobbes is done, I’m going to be making another toy. Coco, like every other girl in the world right now, is in LOVE with Frozen. She has Elsa and Anna dolls, courtesy of her Nana, but she does not have an Olaf. Having apparently already forgotten the torture of making Hobbes, I decided I could make her an Olaf. Then I went and told her I would, so now I’m bound by obligation. This time, however, I’m going to knit it. And since I am cheap frugal,  I’m going to design a pattern myself instead of buying one. This could take 3 days or it could take 3 years. Either way I’m probably going to need some more coffee first.

Autumn’s arrival

9 Nov
October 28

October 28

I really really love the fall, for several reasons. The first is that I love wearing all my hand knit sweaters and socks. The second, and bigger reason, is all the colors. The colors of fall – the reds, oranges, and browns – are my favorite colors. Plus, my birthday is in the fall.

Anyway, when the weather first started changing and the leaves showed the first hint of non-green colors I had this idea: I would take a picture of the tree in front of our house every  week  and document the changes as a weekly blog feature. Well, that didn’t work out. Rather than changing in a nice, slow manner, the tree, pictured above, went quickly. See up there? There are a few patches of a lovely orange shade on the tips. It’s a bit fuzzy, sorry.

Fast forward 2 days and the orange has really spread down the branches.

October 30

October 30

By the next day there was hardly any green to be seen. The tree behind it, though, had just started to turn a bright yellow.

October 31

October 31

By Nov 2 the leaves were going for a burnt orange kind of look. Not such a great color, there.

November 2

November 2

The very next day all these lovely leaves had jumped ship and we were left with branches. This picture was taken in the morning; by the afternoon there were only a handful of leaves left.

November 3

November 3

So there you have it. Fall already came and passed according to our front yard tree. There’s plenty more to be seen, though, so if you enjoy pictures of pretty trees – like, say, you live somewhere that doesn’t really have a fall (coughTEXAScough) – keep reading. If you think trees are boring, then just scroll to the bottom for a cute picture of Coco.

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Red!

See, this is why I love North Carolina. We didn’t have fall growing up in Texas, and in southern Louisiana some leaves didn’t change. At all. On deciduous trees. Ever.

Trail

One of my running trails

If you follow me on twitter you probably saw this next one already.

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Side of our house

Yesterday afternoon we spent some quality family time making leaf piles and jumping in them. I am almost 32 years old, and yesterday with my kids was my first experience jumping into a leaf pile! GP thought that was weird until I reminded him that I grew up in the country in Texas. We didn’t rake leaves. Didn’t even need to, because the wind blew them all away.

Her first time jumping into the leaves.

Her first time jumping into the leaves.

I hope, if you are still reading this, that you are enjoying your fall as much as we are!

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