Monday, September 22, 2008

Andy Alligators

Yesterday we went to Ryan's Birthday Party at Andy Alligators, and Emily had a ton of fun! She bowled, played golf, rode the go-carts, and even rock climbed! Granted, the rock climbing only lasted about ten seconds before she started screaming, but the fact that she tried it was great! I've got some random pictures below, but also those from the party yesterday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Routine(s)

Emily and I have gotten into quite a routine when it comes to brushing our teeth in the mornings and evenings before bed. I know it won't be long before this routine becomes "uncool," so preserving what I can of the memories, I thought I'd jot them down here.. Her favorite part about this routine is that we both do everything exactly the same.

I get her toothpaste on her brush, fill her cup with water, then do the same with mine. She starts the light on her brush (the one that blinks for about two minutes to make sure you brush enough) and we both start brushing. She waits for me to spit so she can spit into her sink at the same time as we brush, and whenever I move to a new spot in my mouth, she moves to the same in hers. As soon as the light goes off, we both wash our brushes under the water, then tap (together) on the side of the sink 5 to ten times (depends on her). Some of the times Emily will say, "let me hear yours daddy!" so I tap my brush on the sink by myself. One time I did this she informed me it sounded like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. There are other times that she asks me to stop so she can listen to the sound her brush makes while she taps.

When we're done tapping, we both put our brushes into their respective holders, then we both grab our cups and swish/spit, then pour the cups out at the same time. We then put our cups down together, turn off our water together, then reach for our towels and dry our mouths off. After as much practice as we've had, we should take the show on the road :)

After going to the yellow park yesterday, and Emily riding her bike for the first time in a while, it made me realize something about her bike riding. For the longest time everything was fine, but then suddenly her bike started "wobbling" (according to her), and it was pretty much the end of riding the bike. I remember getting pretty frustrated with her at times over this wobbling nonsense, but after a couple of tries, she would have nothing to do with it. In fact, she would have rather get on her old three-wheeler than ride her new bike. So, yesterday was our first venture out in a while on the bike, and it went great.

One of the things she did while on this bike ride that she did before (which frustrated me to no end.. my patience runnethed over) was to constantly ask me to hold her handlebars while she rode it. I'd try for a while, then have to stretch out my back for a second as I'd been hunched over for a while, and would get a little tired of her running over my feet because I was so close to her while I did. As soon as I'd life my hands off the bike, she'd slam on the breaks and say, "can you hold it daddy?" UGH.

Well, what I realized yesterday as we were riding is that this is EXACTLY what she did while we would swim this summer. She'd need that constant assurance that I was right there holding on to her for her to feel comfortable. Funny how this only took me three months to figure out, but at least I got there. Anyway, knowing how the summer turned out with swimming (by herself, jumping off of the diving board or side of pool, even trying to swim a little without her floaties), it made me feel very optimistic about the bike riding. Sure enough, as we'd ride along, I would make sure she knew I was holding on, so instead of her asking me, I would let her know every couple of seconds, "I'm right here holding the bike, I won't let you fall," and just a few blocks down the road, she was asking me to let go so she could ride on her own. So, let's see which worked out better:

1. We would ride, and I would tell her she needed to ride by herself. She would constantly slam on her breaks, beg me to hold the bike, which I would for a little while, but then let go and the cycle would begin again. Ultimately, one of us (usually me.. well, at least on the inside.) would end up whining about it, and crying, frustration levels would go through the roof, and the experience as a whole was a big pile of poo.

2. We rode, I told her I'd hold on the whole time, she quickly asked me to let go so she could ride on her own, both of us enjoyed the whole trip, and she was very proud of herself at the end.

Funny how that all worked out, and guess who was the one getting in the way the whole time before? Yes yes, I know you saw that a while ago, again, it only took me three months. It probably helped a little that the back tire was a little flat and didn't wobble either :)

So, I keep trying to remind myself of perspective when looking at routines that aren't working out so well. It seems that every time things aren't going to plan, it's usually because I'm approaching it from the wrong angle. At least she's the forgiving type, gets that from her mother :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who knew?

Leslie has been getting some old baby clothes ready for a garage sale this weekend (over at Ann's house... Thanks Ann!). I figured we'd get maybe $20 or so out of it, which to me, really isn't worth all the work she's already put into it. She only got about a quarter of the clothes marked up and ready to be sold, but we figured it was better than nothing..

At 8:20 this morning, just as I was finishing my run, Leslie called and told me that since the garage sale had begun (at 8:00AM) we had already sold $50 worth of stuff! You can guess what I did at that point - picked up my pace just a wee bit, got home and started trying to convince Leslie to sell anything and everything we could get our hands on! So, she's gathering up as much clothes as she can while I get ready to head off for work (on a Saturday.. I'm thrilled :) and we'll see what comes of all of that!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Roar From the Core

Well, I've been working late or schooling late, so I haven't had much of a chance to hang out with the family lately, so there's really not too much to say tonight. Papa Vinny has been taking Emily out to the park (with Chippa), and to eat (Long John Silvers), so she's been having lots of fun with him and Chippa lately. However, I just experienced something that was too good to not mention here...

Not ten minutes ago, in the living room, we were sitting watching The Office. Leslie has been trying to organize all of Emily's old clothes for a garage sale on Saturday, so there's tons of clothes everywhere. I had finished with class, and had just come home from mom's (she just got a new iPhone, and we've been having some 'issues' with it [I bricked it last night... let me tell you how much fun THAT was, all is well tonight though] so I went over to make sure everything was okay) and I was eating dinner on the couch. Benjamin and Emily had been in bed for some time. Now that the scene is set...

As I was sitting there watching The Office, a "strange disturbance in the force" began to erupt from Leslie a few feet from me. Since I can't remember if I've mentioned this or not, before I continue this story, let me back up to one of the FIRST times I ever spent time with Leslie ------

It was in her dorm room at ECU a long time ago, in what seemed like a galaxy far, far, FAR, away... Mayberry, what I have always called it. I never understood how people could just walk down the middle of main street in front of cars, stop squarely in the middle of the road, and chat it up, while traffic just stopped and waited. This seemed the norm, nobody had any issues with it, and it drove me absolutely bonkers.. I felt like I was waiting for cattle to cross the street. "Hay thayre Bob, howe's work been treetin ya?" and such...

Anyway, Ada, lovely town that it is, was home of ECU. Her dorm room differed DRASTICALLY from my experiences with OU as well. As I walked in the dorm room, the "security [boy]" stopped me and asked me no less than twice the number of detailed examining questions of the Spanish Inquisition. After we were done with my life story, he then asked me (EACH TIME I WAS THERE... SAME KID... EVERY TIME... SAME QUESTIONS.. EVERY TIME..) for usually sixteen different forms of identification, and then usually held six or ten of them for ransom. I would then pass through about four stages of inner security doors before reaching the rooms.

Anyway, there we were in Leslie's dorm room, eating pizza and drinking cokes or whatever. I would like to think she was as nervous as I was on those first few encounters, but nonetheless, she was the first to break the "belching" ice. Just like a few moments ago, the rumble began deep in the pits of her soul, creeping slowly upward, generating more and more resonance as it reached her throat, then finally escaping through her mouth in a sound I can only relate to a Harley with a little bit of water stuck in it. About thirty seconds later, when she had finally ended her sonata belcho, she smiled pleasantly at me, and continued to eat her pizza. I was astounded for many reasons, some of them being:

- She belched in front of me before I did in front of her
- The volume rivaled any I had ever "mustered" up
- She was a girl... and was burping..

Anyway, the best part of this particular story was after she was finished, a faint sound from about six floors away echoed through the halls, "Good one Leslie!"

... Not only did they hear that.. They knew who it was.

Back to this evening... She let one go, and now, after 8 years of this, I've grown quite accustomed to it. In fact, I don't think it really even registered that she had done it, even though my drink had vibrated off the coffee table and spilled all over the floor. The best part of THIS story was what echoed from deep inside the back bedroom (echoing through the monitor from our room):

"Excuse you mommy!"

... Not only did she hear that.. She knew who it was.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Yellow Park Returns!

It seems like it's been forever since we've been to the yellow park, so today Emily, Benjamin and I walked over to play for a while. Since the summer mostly consisted of

1. Wake up
2. Eat/Brush Teeth/Get dressed
3. Go to swim
4. Eat
5. Swim some more
6. Eat
7. Go to bed

We got in the rhythm, and hardly ever made it out to the park. Of course, it feeling like we were walking on the surface of the sun most days didn't help any either...

So anyway, Leslie was working up at school, so I walked over to the park with both of them. One thing I noticed as soon as we started walking was that Emily could keep up much better than she could during the Spring. It was nice to have her walking with me over there, and not minding too much the tall grass as we went (she used to spin into OCD fits when we did this before... Apparently play time at school seems to be helping in that area). Benjamin was just bee-boppin along with me as well, bouncing to my "Liesenfeld-Mission" walking style (the 'Mission' because I'm always [apparently] walking "with a purpose." If I could have my way, we'd have transporters [yes Star Trek, yes I'm a nerd, yes all the rest of the thoughts that go with it...] so we would never have to walk anywhere, I mean, what a waste of time :) --- of course, it was nice time with Emily... uh oh, paradigm shift coming, abort ---

Anyway, we get just about there, and Benjamin unleashes his "formula-flow" all over my shirt. This wasn't the average chew-it-back spit up he has most of the time, this was one of those gush-down-the-shirt-and-over-everything-because-I-of-course-forgot-any-towels-or-spit-up-rags spit ups. Oh well, nothing new there. We got there and Gavin was playing, so he and Emily ran around and played for a while and I held Benjamin. Gavin's parents were there, and his mother held Benjamin for a while, and asked me, "is he always this chill?"

"Yes, this is not my child." --My standard response when anybody asks if Benjamin is always this calm-- "Emily, now that's my kid: OCD, high maintenance, girly, you know... ME. But Benjamin, I don't know who's kid this is."

And she responded (like EVERYBODY else does, without hesitation) "You mean, he's like Leslie." Yes yes, I get it. I'm a little... high strung.

Anyway, we played for a while more, then Leslie showed up with food, so it was time to walk home. Now Emily wanted to be held (I guess that walking with me was nice while it lasted) so we did the double-hold half way back to the house before I started complaining of my old age and let her down to walk the rest of the way home. The best part was when she got home and said to Leslie and I, "I think I got a little toe jam at the park," and took off her shoes. As she did so, about sixty pounds of dirt, wood chips, grass, flowers, weeds, and I think a little dog food came flying out with them... That was some toe jam :)

After dinner Emily had a quick bath, then we read four books tonight. At school she's keeping a log, and so far she's read 75 books since the beginning of school! We turn the log in each Wednesday (which needs to be full) so at times we have to play a little catch up to get there. Last Tuesday night we speed read ten books. Emily loved it. I felt like this guy:

Leslie wasn't too impressed, but I sure was. Emily just giggled through the whole thing, which made it even more fun.

Anyway, four books done, Leslie had put Benjamin to sleep, and Emily got in bed. Her nightly ritual has changed somewhat... We still do the hugs, kisses, laughs, singing, praying, all that good stuff, but now as soon as I get ready to leave Emily asks me, "Are you going to watch a little tv tonight?"

My answer always depends on what I'm doing, so sometimes she'll probe a little further and say, "Are you going to work on the compuder for a little bit?"

Which ever way she goes, all she's trying to determine is where I will be in the next thirty seconds to a minute, because as soon as I shut her door, make it to wherever I'm going and settle in, there she is right behind me. One quick hug and a smile, and off she goes to put herself back to bed. She runs back, turns off her light, shuts her door, and plops back in bed.

Man I'll tell ya, sometimes I sit here and stare at the blank blog window for an hour before I come up with something like, "lots of fun stuff today," and sometimes I can just ramble on forever... I'm pretty impressed with myself this evening.

And just because I can't get enough, I hope you've seen the latest installment of the Gates/Seinfeld commercial:

Let me just say that I guess I'm in the minority when I say... I LOOOOOVE these commercials. I mean, LOOOOOOOVE them. I agree with some of the deconstructionist views out there on these, and I especially love the comparison between the grandmother and Steve Jobs: The old grouchy one who's been there for 12 years (Jobs has been back with Apple for 12 years). There are so many easter eggs sprinkled in these ads that it only makes sense that Microsoft is going for the top down approach on this one. It seems that EVERYBODY takes shots at Microsoft whenever they can, especially on Vista. If these commercials appeal to the super-nerds out there, the loudest ones when it comes to berating Microsoft, and they start seeing the softer, squishy side of Bill, maybe it'll start turning around the opinions of the people that they talk to, and so on. If nothing else, a LOT of people sure are talking about Microsoft now :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A frightening moment

Yesterday I got up early so I could mow before the rain came in. After I was finished we got our family pictures done, and were heading home when it began sprinkling. We grabbed something quick to eat, and I left Leslie, Emily, and Benjamin at the house while I took the truck with all the equipment back over to my mom's to try to keep it as dry as I could...

I was trying to call mom, but instead I pushed the "home" contact on my phone, which gave me Leslie. Funny thing how stuff like that works out the way it does, because when I heard it was her, and I immediately knew I had called the wrong place, I could tell something was up. She told me Emily had just choked. I could tell by the way she was talking this wasn't our normal, run-of-the-mill (as if there is one) choking.. Apparently Leslie ended up having to grab Emily and try to force it out of her throat. Everybody ended up just fine, but those moments, no, those seconds, are the seconds we spend every other waking second worrying about.

Pictures were great. We ended up spending a ton of money because we need some family pictures (even though I felt like Ralphie in the Bunny suit from the Christmas Story), and we loved some of the shots that they took. They should come in about 3 weeks, so I'll post them here when the come.

Emily's been LOVING pre-k. Papa Vinny and her have a great time coming home together every day, and she talks about her classmates often. Apparently learning names isn't a big deal to 4 year olds, because her descriptions always include something like, "the boy with the green shirt" or "the girl with the pink skirt" when describing the kids she was playing with for the day.

One embarrassing moment happened when we discovered an umbrella in her backpack when we got home. Doesn't sound strange just by that description, unfortunately Emily doesn't own an umbrella. Turned out that she claimed to have gotten it from another girl in her class who let her "borrow" it. I was skeptical, so I probed a little more, and learned that the girl's mother just happened to be a teacher at Alcott... That was a lovely phone message I left:

beeeeep - "Hi, this is Pete from Alcott.. and, well, uh.. so... apparently we have your umbrella here at our house. Emily claims that she borrowed it from your daughter, and we're really hoping that's the case, and she's not just a clepto in training, but if she is, I really apologize and we'll get it back to you tomorrow." Good times on that one..

Anyway, turned out that the stories lined up pretty well, and all worked out.

Even in these past few weeks I've been watching Emily grasp more and more concepts. I've also noticed something we've always known to be true: she listens to EVERYTHING, even when we don't think she's listening. My favorite parts lately have been when Leslie and I have been talking about something that we wouldn't necessarily want to talk to Emily about, but think we're talking in too "adult speak" for her to understand, she invariably pipes up, "what are you talking about?" We consistently try to brush it off, but she is relentless on determining what the discussion is all about. So, we end up talking to her about it, which isn't a bad thing at all, just... interesting how much she's growing up so fast :)

Benjamin has been jammin (get it?) along well. He's trying to sit up now, which is fun to see. I think we're finally getting out of the [my opinion only] boring phase, and moving into the more fun stages (sitting, crawling, eating strange objects, playing with electrical outlets, finding all sorts of medications improperly sealed, etc).

I'll try to post a little more often than I am now... The whole point of this is to see a running "diary" to look back upon later in their lives, but funny thing about kids.. they leave little time for much else :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The week in pictures

Here's a bunch of pictures/videos we've taken over the past week or so.  Wish I had more time to describe all that's happened, but pictures are better than nothin'!  Enjoy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Picking out new shoes...

Emily had to take a moment to clean out all of her "toe jam" before picking out some new shoes that Papa Vinny got her...

Posted by ShoZu

Testing text

Seeing if I can update the blog from the phone without posting a photo with shozu.

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Testing again

Seeing if this posts to both blogger and facebook...

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