Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Here's our trip to visit Daniel's parents. We flew, since it's a 1500 mile trip one way. Can you believe the pilots let a toddler into the cockpit? He loved it. All those buttons!!!!

Here we are at their house for a late Thanksgiving - early Christmas.

Uncle Justin got Declan a Tickle-Me Elmo, which was a big hit.

Here he is with Grandad.

Grandmommy kisses:

One big hit was being pushed around the house in a big box. Who doesn't love that?

Then there was being dragged around in the laundry basket. See how much fun you can have with regular old household things?

Saying goodbye at the airport.

Christmas morning.
Flashlight as present. Can be used for peering into the tree and seeing what's hidden in the middle.

Train o' blocks.

Elmo makes a surprise return!

Daniel's been wanting to get Declan Legos since before Declan was born. So he got his first set of Duplos today.

And tractors

More of the block train. We love blocks. And these roll.

Our Christmas pictures. Daniel says Declan has a Buster Keaton look here, kicking his leg back.

Jazz hands!

We went to see Santa at Bass Pro, but Declan wasn't too keen on sitting on someone else's lap.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Since I finished Fallout: New Vegas (video game), I suddenly have lots more free time in the evenings, and I've decided to go through all my Netflix and DVR movies.

So far, I've seen...

Legion - crap. Boring movie with stereotypes for characters. Plot line is the same as The Seventh Sign from 20 years ago.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Finally. I saw it after having it on DVR for 6 months. Yeah, I see why it's the quintessential buddy flick, but what a bummer of an ending. Lots of great lines and scenes.

The Tudors, Season 4 - Yummy. I love the richness of this period piece. I think the actors are really good, and in this season, I just feel sorry for poor Catherine Howard. She's so clueless in how to survive at court. It's no wonder she's not long for it.

Men Who Stare at Goats - Hilarious. I'm not a George Clooney fan, but he really put in a great performance. I was mesmerized at the sheer lunacy and craziness throughout the whole movie. Daniel even watched it with me, and he's not normally a movie guy.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 - Yay! I actually took off one evening after the little guy went to bed to see this. It was good, it was dark, it was just like the books and it was just what I wanted to see. Can't wait for Part 2 next summer.

Ran - Missing in translation. I saw the Criterion Collection version of this Kurasowa samurai film a few years ago, and I tried to watch it again when I had it on my DVR. But without the commentary of the film critic, I think I'm missing a lot of the meaning and subtext of the movie. So I deleted it and will try to get the Criterion version to watch.

Resident Evil: Extinction - Boring. Honestly, I was working on some project while it was on, and if my hands hadn't been so busy, I would have deleted it long before the ending.

The Walking Dead - Scary. I know, it's not a movie. But I watched the first 3 episodes all at once. Great imagery, and the point of the show is that the real monsters aren't the zombies; they're the evil that's still in human form. Racists, wife-beaters, power grabbers. All the worst of humanity. Will the sheriff have enough good in him to counter all that?

Julie and Julia - Happy. Saw this last night and it was just a fun flick to watch. I thought Meryl Streep did a fabulous job as Julia Child and I loved watching the story about her life.

Upcoming that I really want to see: Red, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Green Lantern, and probably some more I can't remember right now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have too much other stuff to do to regularly sit down and do pictures. So instead, I do them all at once.

Declan loves to play in the pantry. His favorite thing is to take everything out of the wire racks on the door and stack them on the window ledge or the table nearby. He's amazed me sometimes with the complex condiment towers he builds. One day, he found an open sleeve of crackers within reach. Yummm!

Such a cute smile!

Halloween! He was a fighter pilot, courtesy of his Uncle Justin who's in the Air Force.

We went trick or treating with a friend of mine. Annie was a dragon.

We also went to the Children's Museum Halloween Party.

He triumphed over the giant spider! Poor spider. All it ever wanted to do was scare kids.

One day, we headed outside to play. A bucket filled with water, some rocks and some leaves afforded endless playtime opportunities. Rocks and leaves could be thrown in the water and they did different things. His hands got wet, he could splash the water around. All sorts of fun stuff.

He has a new habit of hiding in cabinets. We left one cabinet un-child-proofed, so that he could pull out the sauce pots and other random things we put in there. Lately, he's decided it's fun to crawl inside and close the doors behind him. Cute! Fortunately, he doesn't stay in there too long, or I'd wonder where he could have disappeared to.

And then he discovered the entertainment center had the same nifty feature.

The coffee table makes a much better platform for playing with toys than the floor does. Apparently, floors are for babies, not for 20-month olds who adore climbing heights that turn his mother's hair gray.

Fun at the park.

"Higher, Daddy! Higher!"

After he swung in the baby swing for half an hour (not kidding!), Declan decided he wanted to try out the big kids' swing. So I put him on there and very gently pushed him back and forth. I guess after all the swinging on the baby swing, and the porch swing earlier with us, then this, he fell asleep on the swing. One minute, he's going along just fine. Then next, he's flat on his back staring up at the sky and blinking in confusion. It was so fast I didn't even see it happen. I picked him up, dusted him off, and he didn't cry once. I guess he wasn't hurt. But it was time to go home.

Thanksgiving Day. We headed to the beach in Galveston because it was windy and hot and humid, and walking on the beach sounded like a good idea. Declan loved it, although he wasn't dressed for going in the water, which is, of course, all he wanted to do. We placated him by finding him a stick and showing him how to draw in the sand. It was a like discovering he could draw in a huge piece of paper. He could draw anywhere! He also got sad when he waved his first stick around so much it broke. Then he had to experiment and wave it around and pull at it to see if he could make it break again. He did. We found him an actual stick, instead of a piece of green seaweed stalk. He also loved chasing the seagulls.

Oh, if you're wondering if we're the sort of parents who keep our child on a leash, the answer is yes. Why? Because otherwise, today he would have walked headlong off the 17 foot high seawall at least 5 times, or run into traffic 6 times. He's way too fast and way too adventurous (fearless?) for his own good.

Just for fun, I compared his hands and feet to mine.

And here's how tiny his fingers were when he was 1 week old.

And here he is posing with his new hair cut. I got brave and decided to cut it myself! I gave him a lollipop after dinner and pulled out my little sewing scissors. Daniel tried his clippers, but they just made him cry. Declan, not Daniel. So I told Daniel to let me do it. I kept cutting until it looked good, and there was a huge pile of hair on the floor. About that time, Declan decided to get mad about the whole thing and throw his lollipop on the ground. Well, it was now covered in hair, so I wasn't about to give it back to him. I opened up the trash, and told him, "there are consequences to your actions. When you throw something on the ground, Mommy is going to finish the job and throw it away." Oh, he got mad about that. But a couple minutes later, he was mad about me washing the hair off his arms and face, then he got down and went to play with something and forgot all about it. Short memories are a blessing sometimes.

The vaccuum cleaner

I just had to laugh and laugh today. I got the vacuum cleaner out, and Declan immediately ran in front of it to stare at it. When I started it up, he jumped and backed away, keeping a wary eye on it.

As I advanced the vacuum cleaner, he kept walking backwards. Then he started yelling at it in baby talk, yelling at the top of his voice, and even screeching like an old fishwife. I imagine he was telling that noisy old vacuum cleaner to shut up and go back to the closet and stop making such a racket. (like he's one to complain)

Then he grabbed a wooden puzzle piece and threw it at the vacuum cleaner, like it offended him. Next he had to go grab the sheepskin and throw that at the vacuum cleaner. Repeatedly.

I couldn't help it. I just laughed and laughed for two minutes. Kept on vacuuming, and eventually, the noisy contraption got put back in the closet. Declan had triumphed over the vacuum cleaner and now he was the only one making noise in the house.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Video Games

Hey, I finally finished "Fallout: New Vegas"! I think I've been playing it non-stop for a couple weeks now. Well, non-stop being whenever the baby is asleep and I don't have anything else more pressing to do. Very good game!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Catching Up

Should I quit apologizing for not posting very frequently? I started playing "Fallout: New Vegas", the latest in the Fallout franchise and it's eating my brain. I forgot to send my nephew his birthday present and have been procrastinating on some other legal issues that I really need to look at. *sigh* At least I cleaned my kitchen, but that was only because I had someone coming over.

Declan has learned kisses! :) It's so cute. He'll put a hand on each side of your face and lean in and give you a big kiss. Okay, it's mainly just pressing his mouth against some part of your face, but it counts. He's got "bye-bye" down pat, and he uses it for everything, especially for saying hi to people. He can say "uh-oh" and sometimes he'll say "hi." I think he's trying to say Ball and Book, but all that comes out is Bu. He also does a pretty good job on "up."

He constantly amazes me at his powers of memory. We have a lot of board books, and recently I've been going through the ones that have a repeating motif through all the pages, like a ladybug, or a duck on each page, or the mouse in "Goodnight, Moon." I showed him the ladybugs once, and ever since then he can point them out on each and every page. He loves pointing to the duck. The mouse is hard because it's so small on most pages, but he remembers where they are. Sometimes he does better than me in finding it.

He's discovered knee-walking as a new mode of transportation, and he's still managing to fall from chairs and couches and his own two feet several times a day. But he loves to climb. The best I can do is try to baby-proof the house so he can't get on anything really high.

We did Halloween last night. He was a fighter pilot, courtesy of his Uncle Justin who sent him a toddler costume. Justin's in the Air Force. Everyone adored him in his outfit, even though the hat never stayed on his head more than 2 seconds. We went out with a friend of mine and her 3-year old daughter, dressed as a dragon. The little red wagon came in handy to pull them both.

It took Declan a little bit to figure out that if he carried his bucket to the door, people would hand him things. Annie, the dragon, took care of the "trick-or-treat" part. When she roared, Declan thought that was neat and he had to roar too. Of course, that generated a lot of attention and fun, so he had to keep doing it. It was very, very cute.

They both came back with quite a lot of candy for only being out 30 minutes or so. We went early, so they could make their bedtime. But then I let Declan stay up an hour past his bedtime, since the doorbell kept ringing. I was hoping that he would sleep an extra hour this morning, but no such luck. At least he took a 3-hour nap for Daniel today.

On other news, I finally got all my new herbs and salad greens in the ground in my new raised bed this weekend. Next purchase will be some sort of fishbowl or aquarium to act as mini-greenhouses for the salad greens through the winter. I still need to harvest my basil and the basil seeds, but I bet I still have another month of growing for them. We finally are going to get some rain, at least tomorrow. I've been watering all my new plants by hand every day for over a month. We got zero rain in the month of October. It was so dry that when I dug my new plants in, the soil just crumbled. No moisture at all.

I'd post some pictures, but mysteriously, all my USB cables have disappeared this month. We have a rule in this house that we blame everything on the cats. Now we have a new scapegoat. I told Daniel to buy me a new USB cable tomorrow so I can get the pictures off my camera. I have stuff on there from the Halloween party at the Children's Museum last week, random cute pictures and Halloween night pictures. My smart phone doesn't take great pictures, so I'm not even going to post those here.

Well, back to Fallout. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Staycation

I took a week off work around Columbus Day. I told my boss in September that as soon as the weather cooled off and it wasn't going to be rainy that I was going to take a week off so I could do stuff around the house. And actually enjoy my time being outside, unlike all summer long.

It's not that it's so hot here in Houston, and it does get very hot and humid. It's that it stays hot and humid for so very, very long. I put up with it in May and was still taking Declan out to the playground in the evenings in May, and even in June. By July, our outings were limited to the park on the weekend mornings, early, and we were still both sweating like crazy after 30 minutes. By August, we were mainly outside just to go to the car, or for a few minutes after dinner. By September, I had given up. Declan brought me his shoes and I just said no. Six months of super hot, super humid is just too much for this transplanted Yankee.

Anyway, the first week in October the weather finally changed. The humidity went away and the temps cooled down. Hallelujah!

Saturday, I went to the Galveston County Master Gardener sale to get some native plants to put in my yard. It was fun, and a bit of a madhouse. Apparently, the fruit tree sale in February is ten times as crazy. Anyway, I got some pretty ginger plants for all my shady areas and some spider lilies for the front flower bed. Once I got them all in, my front yard looks a lot nicer suddenly. I think I need to put some more flowers in, but not right away. I spent a lot of money that week, between the flowers and all my numerous trips to Lowes/Home Depot.

I also ended up building a raised bed and putting in tomato plants and my one cone flower plant from the master gardener plant sale. Then Daniel suggested that I build a second raised bed that was half the height and twice the area and put it around the first raised bed. I thought that was a capitol suggestion and made one that afternoon. I put it out, but I still don't have any dirt in there, and the herbs I bought for it are still in their little store pots. On the plus side, my lettuce seeds I scattered around the tomatoes are growing. I've started thinning them out. Hopefully I'll have lots of greens through the winter.

I bought some more wood to make a raised planter, but I haven't had a chance to put that together yet.

I also finished constructing the first cubby drawer for Declan's new bedroom furniture, and I built the second cubby. Still need to build the second drawer and paint the drawer front. After that's done, I can move them in and move the baker's rack out. And then...I can build the hutches to go on top of the cubby drawers. It's taking me a while, especially since I can only work on it a few hours a week at most.

As for the decorating front...I finally (!) finished painting our bedroom. The old wallpaper is gone!!! I have yet to put up anything on the walls, even curtains. We have some temporary paper blinds on the windows while I figure out how to cheaply hang the Ikea curtains I got. I'm going for a romantic, dreamy, white bedroom with hints of pink and green. Hopefully Daniel won't think it's too girly. I'm going to hang an old lap-size quilt on the wall, and I've been collecting picture frames and old pictures of roses to hang up. The picture frames need repainting, so I'm playing around with that. I don't mind playing with a $2-5 picture frame. If I screw it up, it's only a couple of dollars, and it lets me experiment with paint and color and techniques. Eventually, I plan to make a new quilt for the bed in the colors of the bedroom, but for now, I've got a pretty white duvet cover (also from Ikea). Hrm, maybe I should check out their curtain rods and shelves next.

I also got some naps in, and I started rereading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I watched a lot of movies. Oh yeah, I got to spend a lot of time playing with my son and we got to take lots of walks outdoors, now that the weather is tolerable. I have to say, it was one of the most relaxing and fun vacations I've ever had.

Friday, October 08, 2010

18 Month Update

Took him to the pedi this week. The doctor was pleased with his progress. He's in the 60th percentile for height and weight. The doctor said he'd be about 5'10" tall when he's grown. I thought you couldn't tell until they were 3. My nephews are going to by 6'7" for Garrett and 6'5" for Devon, so maybe a little bit of height runs in my family. In my nephews' case, I think it's pretty clear it comes from their mom.

Declan can say "bye-bye" pretty well, and he may be saying book and ball; it's kind of hard to tell. He can point to his nose, ear, chin and hair, and he knows at least 8 signs (milk, juice, water, cracker, dog, sleep, diaper, book). He's a climber, too. Loves to climb the couch, the stepladder (we're painting the bedroom), the coffee table, the chairs, anything he can.

He's also starting to throw temper tantrums and hit me when he's mad. So I asked the pedi for suggestions about discipline, because unfortunately, my first instinct was to smack his hand for hitting me. Not a very productive thing to do, I admit. So I didn't, but I was lost for options. She suggested a few things to try, like starting time-outs in a playpen.

He loves to play games. Like peek-a-boo, scary monster (where one of us hides behind a door and grrrs at him when he opens it), chasing and being chased. He charms all sorts of people when we go out and he says "bye-bye" and waves to them over and over. It's very cute.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Has it really been 2 months?

Okay, I knew it had been a while since I posted anything. We went on vacation to my parents' house in August, and I was trying to catch up from that. Then...well, it's been a few weeks and I forget. But then I started ripping the wallpaper off the bedroom and prepping that room to paint, and that project took 3 weeks. I'm still in the middle of priming. Yeah, I could have finished it this week, but the paint is not the no-odor kind, and I wanted to be able to paint in the morning and have the room open all day to air out. It's low VOC, but still pretty smelly.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that I'm finally getting around to posting pictures from our trip to Illinois. Mainly toddler pictures. I took a lot of landscape pictures, but that's for another day.

He sort of enjoyed his airplane ride. This is the second time he's flown, but the first time, he was 6 months old and slept the whole time. This time, he was squirmy and we spent a long time walking up and down the aisle of this tiny jet.

He got the chance to climb around on my dad's antique farm equipment.

Actually, it was really nice to be able to let him run around without having to worry about him running into the street, or into someone else's yard. I didn't have to watch and make sure he didn't step into a fire ant nest, and there were no mosquitoes. The only thing I had to watch is that he didn't get too far away or too close to the hill or pond.

Here he is with his Mimi and the antique bell they've got.

He's playing one of his favorite games here. We call it "blue ghost." He puts his blue blankie over his head and runs around yelling. Maybe it's more of a blue poltergeist. That's his cousin Devon with him.

Here they are having fun with magnetic letters and the dishwasher.

We went into downtown Marshall so I could take my watches to the jeweler there. Yes, I took them 1000 miles to a guy I trusted, and he fixed all three of my broken watches in 15 minutes. Afterward, we walked around the courthouse square. Declan thought it was awesome to walk on the curbs, and Daniel and my mom helped him jump off the posts.

So many things to explore at my parents' house.

The back door:

Practicing yoga on the porch:

Helping Mimi weed the flower bed:

My mom had a rolling garden seat, and Declan had the best time rolling that thing all over the yard, the side walk and the driveway.

We went to a newly constructed covered bridge.


One day we went to St. Louis to the Gateway Arch. It was very hot that day.

View from the top of the Arch. Here's the Mississippi River.

Declan looking out the Arch window.

This fancy building is the Historic County Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was tried. Thanks to Scott for correcting my assumption about the building.

We may not be the most photogenic family around, but we love each other and have lots of fun. Oh, and you can see that we are 630 feet off the ground at the top of the Arch.

At my brother's house, Declan discovered a new game. He could pull out the kitchen drawers and push them back again. Wow, was that ever fun! He giggled and laughed and did it over and over again. Don't know why my brother's house's drawers are better than mine, but they are.

Just a cute picture of the little guy.

Here he is with his other cousin, Garrett. They all love little babies and kids, and they had a blast.

Devon loves the Transformers, so he had to show Declan his costume.

Back home, it's still hot as blazes, so he gets lots of fruit popsicles.

Here he is on his Elmo toy plane. He loves to chase us around the house on his plane.