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v-day b-day

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

It came to my attention that Mimi had never had an official birthday party where people other than family members attend (well, last year the Johnsons did come over for a quick b-day get together for Mimi). I decided this year was going to be the year for Mimi’s 1st (except it was her 6th, if that makes sense) birthday party. After racking my brain for theme ideas I finally settled on the Valentine’s theme. I mean, Mimi was actually due right around Valentine’s Day, so what better way to celebrate her birthday. Both girls were on board after I revealed the news to them. In fact, it was all they could talk or think about from that point on (why haven’t I learned not to spill the beans until only hours away from events?!?). Since Valentine’s is all filled with red, pink, hearts, and all things girly, I decided to only invite girls to the party. I’m sure no boys were offended for dodging that hug-filled bullet.

I found so many ideas for Valentine’s parties on the internet, so the trouble was narrowing it to down to fill only 2 hours. I have to say that the Oriental Trading Company is about the best thing since online shopping became possible. It made getting crafts, goodies, and party materials enough for 12 people so easy. However, we only invited 10 people, and only 8 showed up. Hallelujah! I don’t know what I would have done with 2 more girls, since we were squished into my dining room as it was. I banished Mike and Violet from the house, but my friend Julie was a wonderful assistant throughout the entire event. Thanks, Julie! Everything went off without a hitch except that I totally forgot to take pictures of the party set-up prior to the event. Oh well, I think I was able to capture most of what was planned, made, or part of the event. See for yourself.

By the time I started snapping pictures the girls had already played with their cootie catchers, exchanged their valentines via their personalized mailboxes, colored their shrinky-dink heart pendants, and played Valentine Bingo using large conversation hearts as tokens. At this point, the girls are chowing (or not chowing) down pizza.

The table decorations included glass dishes full of various candies and the lovely, framed art piece that my thoughtful sister-in-law sent for just this occasion. (Thanks so much, Sara!!) Of course, it was all set on a tablecloth full of red, pink, and purple hearts. You can kind of see the personalized mailboxes. Notice the empty dish in the second picture. The Hershey’s Kisses were apparently a hit. I made heart-shaped pizzas that evidently only two of the girls and I liked to eat, but at least it was heart-shaped. Unfortunately, I also spaced taking pictures of those, but I’m sure you can imagine what a mom-made heart-shaped pizza looks like (read not that great or convincingly heart-shaped).

Polyhedron, anyone? I couldn’t resist making these when I saw them in some pictures of another Valentine’s party. They were actually quite easy to make once I got the hang of it.

A Valentine’s party is not complete without a heart garland. Am I right, or am I right? Ha, notice I covered the glass in the china cabinet to hide all the unsightly junk inside of it (this produced a HUGE eye roll from Mike).

And, lastly, I couldn’t resist serving Valentine-labeled, red sodas. We had to search hi and lo all over town for those durned things. Of course, most of the girls were not too keen on engulfing a full bottle of diabetes-inducing liquid. But, oh, how cute did they look?!?

After the food was eaten it was time to play a quick game before presents. I purchased this inflatable octopus at Oriental Trading. It was almost actual size from the picture shown on the website, but the girls still managed to have fun with it each taking 2 turns.

Mimi received a lot of fun gifts (that Mike hates, hahaha) including a Liv(?) Doll, Barbie Doll, Tea Party Game, manicure/spa stuff, princess mirror craft, Zhu Zhu Pet Castle, Legos, PlayDoh, an American Girl ballet outfit, and a mega princess gear pack and a 6 pack of princess shoes. As you can see Mimi was beyond ecstatic!

Finally, it was CAKE TIME! Mike spent the evening before making this all by himself. I decided to throw some fondant into the design, and Mike did a wonderful job working with it and coming up with a fun idea. I must take credit for the overall design idea though.

I’m so glad I decided to do this. Just to see how lit up Mimi’s face was the entire day made it all worthwhile. If I had waited another year or two, then I don’t think there would have been as much excitement and magic in the event. Thank you to all the girls who attended and helped Mimi celebrate, and thanks again to Julie and Mike for being such a great help.


trim that

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

On Saturday night the girls determined that they needed haircuts. They even declared that they wanted their hair up to their chins. I was reluctant to go that short, but I agreed that it was time for a trim. Even though I scrunched up Annie’s hair and added at least an inch when cutting, her hair still curled up another 2 inches after it was dry. So I suppose, after all, Annie got her wish for chin-length hair. Mimi chickened out when I began her cut and said she only wanted a little trimmed off. I still lopped off a good couple of inches though, but it didn’t turn out nearly as short as Annie’s. Both of the girls are quite pleased with their new ‘dos.

We did survive the blizzard with another day off from school today. The roads all have walls of snow on each side, and some roads are even down to one lane on some parts. The girls thoroughly enjoyed climbing on the many mountains of snow around our neighborhood. As you can see our back door is snowed in. Notice those black bars poking out of the top, those are our patio chairs and I’m pretty sure the table is nowhere to be found. Thank goodness I had Mike store the cushions up in the attic before it really started snowing this season because I don’t they could’ve survived all that snow. Our not so smart dog insisted on being let in that door this morning while I kept calling for her at the front door which can be seen from the back door. Poor, dumb Lucy.

civil unrest and butterfinger blizzard

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

When I woke up this morning my phone’s Weather Bug app warned me of “Extreme Civil Danger”. All I could picture was people looting and fighting in the streets. Of course, that’s not what’s going on because as far as I know nobody is going to be out in the streets today. According to the news, we’re in the midst of the blizzard of 2011. I say it’s still early in the year, and how they can claim this is “THE” blizzard of 2011. However, we do have some crazy conditions outside with snow drifts as high as cars (and almost as high as Mike’s diesel truck). Thankfully, the school district was smart enough to decide yesterday to close down school for today because no buses are making it into our neighborhood this morning. The streets haven’t even been plowed yet which means we are stranded. Don’t worry about us though, we are all stocked up on supplies. After all, Mike did just order several 5 gallon buckets of various foods such as red wheat, oats, and split peas (yes, we REALLY like split pea soup in this house). I also have a ton of laundry to catch up on, so there’s no excuse now not to get it done.

What we saw out our front door.

Our back door is covered in snow. It really accentuates that gaping hole in the screen that Lucy gave us last summer.

Even the garage got assaulted by the snow drifting. We haven’t even opened the garage yet this morning.

We hope everyone else is surviving this insane weather.

P.S. I can’t help but crave a DQ Blizzard right now. My favorite is Heath Bar with chocolate ice-cream. What’s yours?

Mini scientists

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The girls had Friday off from school for the last day of the quarter. My friend Julie came up with the grand idea to take the train to Chicago to attend the Museum of Science and Industry since it had free admission during January. The agenda didn’t go quite as planned due to some unforeseen circumstances, but the kids and adults had a blast and got to see some really cool stuff. We couldn’t see nearly everything there was to see in just one day. The place was gargantuan with several levels where each floor seemed a mile long.

The train ride was a lot of fun for the kids, but it did start to get a little long during the 1.5 hour trip causing bickering, hunger, and just plain whining. Julie was under the impression that the museum was in the heart of downtown, so we figured we’d take a cab there after the train. When we noticed the downtown leaving our sights we got a little worried and were a little miffed at the $30 cab tab. Whoops! Fortunately, we were able to all squeeze into one cab van and each pay for one leg of the trip.

On the way home we were all set to exit the train at our stop and went and stood by the nearest door just like all the passengers getting off at the previous stops. However, the doors never opened, and some lady kindly informed us that at our particular stop only the very front door opens. So we frantically grabbed our stuff to try to make our way there before the train started moving again. Since I had to carry Violet Julie was helpful enough to carry the stroller. Halfway there the train started moving, and we got a little panicked. By this time Julie had abandoned my stroller and practically everything else in order to get to the door. By golly, she was making it to that door even if it meant jumping off the moving the train minus all our belongings. I had already given up hope that we’d make it to the door in time, but it was still fun following Julie in her determination to “not miss our stop”. (Sorry Julie, I still can’t help but laugh.) Of course, my cell phone had long since died, and there was no cell service on the train as well. So we had to wait until the next stop to give our husbands a call to come get us. The day was saved by our heroic knights. Even with all the mishaps it was still a fantastic day. I think all our drama adds more spice to the story and gives us something funny to tell folks about our experiences on our trip to the Science of Museum and Industry.

Now on the with the pictures. I really tried to not over-do it, but I’m actually only posting about a 1/3 of what I originally picked out to post.

On the train. The kids switched up their seating very very often. 2 in a seat, 4 in a seat, 3 in a seat, across from each other, side-by-side. It was enough to drive us batty.

This is one of the first sections we came across which was a circus theme. I think we could have spent hours laughing at ourselves in those mirrors. Mimi and Alex were the perfect height to get this effect.

Violet loves balls! She was happy as long as there were balls.

This was a virtual combine that the kids got to “drive”. It had a life-size screen in front of them harvesting a row of corn.

There were actual trains, trollies, submarines, commercial planes, horse-drawn carriages, and many other vehicles.

I’d have to say my favorite part of the day was the tornado. There was also some real lightening that would go off up in a dome near the ceiling, but we never could catch it on film.

Another fun part of the day was seeing how each kid looked bald.

I want my future living room to look like this.

It was hard pulling the kids away from these floating balls.

Annie loved the pulsar ball. She was so excited to tell me about how they also sell smaller versions in the gift shop. Really, Annie, I’ve never seen one of those because I NEVER ever stepped foot into a Spencer’s Gift Store during the 80’s.

And lastly, the human hamster wheel.

I really wished we could have spent more time there, but we still saw a ton of cool stuff and filled up an entire day. Maybe, oh maybe, we’ll make it back just one more time before we move.

December 2005

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

24 DECEMBER 2005

I thought I would give a quick rundown on what’s going on here before Christmas comes and goes. We decided to spend Christmas with just our own little family this year. The small tree from Wal-mart’s 2003 Christmas clearance sale sits in the corner of our living room bare from the waist down. Multiple shards of decorations have been swallowed, I’m guessing. But come Christmas morning, it will be such a treat to see the looks on the girls’ faces with all the presents under the tree. Annie has already opened a couple of presents without permission, one of her’s and one of mine. I noticed a Vera Bradley cosmetic case that I’d never seen sitting on the coffee table full of toy trinkets. At first it took me by surprise, but I quickly discovered the culprit. It was really funny to see her open the first present. I caught her in mid-rip. She was singing a song while upwrapping. I soon realized it was “Happy Birthday”. Apparently, we’ve been watching too much of “America’s Home Videos” because she’s made the connection to singing “HB” and opening gifts from that show.

Mimi is almost a walker. She stands unsupported for several seconds all the time. While at Mailboxes Etc. the other night (sending last minute gifts) she took two steps toward Mike. That’s one for the baby book! It was discovered this morning at breakfast that she has a tooth erupting. That explains her two sleepless nights last night and the night before. Grr! I think she may get a dose of Tylenol before bed tonight. New words come out of her mouth each day. O.K., they may not be actual words, but she is making the effort to make different sounds. Mimi really loves her big sister. She follows her around a lot waiting for Annie’s next big trick. I really do hope they will be good friends when they’re older. Her belly is the size of a soccer ball. She’s our little cannonball, but we call her Harvey after one of our former cats. For those who knew Harvey, you should understand. Mimi is also starting to try out new foods. She’s been eating a little bit off the big people’s plates such as pancakes, eggs, mac’n’cheese, bread, even some broccoli and greenbean casserole. Annie will, on occasion, feed her goldfish crackers. And tonight, I caught Annie trying to nurse Mimi. Oh, my poor children!

I found a new hobby. I’ve been making bracelets and necklaces with picture beads on them. Since I have previous experience with polymer clay, it was an easy transition to learn how to make the picture beads. I already had a lot of the equipment, too. The idea came from my wish to do something different for grandmother gifts this year. Since we’re so far away for this Christmas, I wanted to do be able to send something small enough. I came across a website with these, and I knew I had to look no more. There has been local interest for my product as wll, so I’ve decided to sell them. A bead store in Wilmington even asked if I would be interested in teaching a class once a month. I don’t know if I want to take it that far. Literally, the drive is over an hour each way! I’m still working out all the bugs, but I hope to soon have a website up and running showcasing and selling my jewelry. I figure it ties in nicely with my interest in photography.

Mike also wanted me to mention that he is still catching lots of fish.

May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

12 DECEMBER 2005

Wow, I can’t keep up with these girls anymore! Mimi is climbing stairs, walking along furniture, and will stand unsupported for seconds. It’s only a matter of time before she’s officially walking. A very scary thought…2 walking kids in this house. Annie was only about 10 and a half months old when she started walking, and Mimi just turned 10 months. I keep forgetting to lock the downstairs gate and will find Mimi halfway up the stairwell. Bad Mommy!! No falls yet, thank goodness. I am now making a conscious effort to get back into the habit of keeping the gates locked at all times. Mimi is still holding out as long as possible for teeth to arrive. Her lack of teeth don’t stop her from eating crackers and such. However, the eating habits of Mimi are nothing to brag about. She has a BAD habit of flailing her arms around whenever a spoon is aimed toward her mouth. It used to be cute; now it’s just frustrating. She’s still a mama’s girl though and loves to be carried around as much as given the opportunity.

Annie is still, well, Annie. I can’t keep her in just one outfit during the day. It’s amazing how I will put her down for a nap and return later to find her in a new outfit. She’s fallen under the spell of the tantrum fairy again. The “naughty seat” seems to temporarily help with those episodes. Mealtime is chock-full of threats, bribes, and demands usually with Annie winning each round. Today she thought she was “helping” when she brought me two ornaments from the Christmas tree. Annie also likes to “help” discipline Mimi and Lucy. I saw just this afternoon trying to put Mimi on the naughty seat while saying, “No, Mimi!” At the end of the day, however, I can longer be cross with Annie when she snuggles up with me on the couch and looks up at me with those huge, brown eyes. I’ve added a December album to the girls’ page, please have a look.

Mike is back to his old ways. His obsession for hunting and fishing never ends. Since he wasn’t allowed to go fishing this past Saturday (he went last Saturday though and several times during his lunch hour last week), Mike decided to go fishing after work today. He found a “good” spot that caught a bunch a fish at last Saturday. He told someone about the spot, and that person had luck in the same spot on a couple of occasions last. Apparently, it was too much for him to wait over a week to try out his spot again. No luck. Tonight he confessed to me that it’s probably not safe for him to go fishing alone in his boat after dark. Ya think!!! I shouldn’t complain though seeing as I’m allowed to have lots of (expensive) hobbies, too. I guess the irritation is still fresh on my mind. Anywho, check out the very few pictures that Mike took of his fish on his fishing/hunting page listed under “Fishing in Jax – Dec 2005“. Mike also got a bit of the flu bug last week and even had to call in sick. So far the girls have only had runny noses since his illness. Pray that we won’t all get the flu.

November 2005

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

30 NOVEMBER 2005

Mike went on his annual pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota with his buddies, Chris and Matt. Alll of the dogs tagged along as well. He reminded me that he has some pictures from his pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota. I’ve posted an album of pictures on Mike’s fishing and hunting page. This year they had a vet on hand, Matt’s wife. Last year, Lucy looked so pathetic when she returned. It was reassuring to know that there would be someone there who know how to take care of her properly. The guys left Thursday morning and hunted until Monday afternoon. Between everyone that hunted, 50 or so pheasants were shot. Another friend, Ryan, hunted with the guys for a day. This year will be the last hunt for Mike for a couple of years, so he had to make it a good one. The next two years will be spent with teeth.

I’ve also posted pictures from the Marine Corps Ball that we attended in an album on our Memories page. It’s called “Marine Corps Ball 2005“.

29 NOVEMBER 2005

I know, I know, I’m way behind in posting. November was a blur. We had a Marine Corps ball to attend on the 10th. The preparations for this were stressful for me what with finding a dress, getting it altered, finding the correct shoes and accessories, and then deciding how to fix my hair. Oh, the drama! The date of the ball arrived with a faster approach that seemed sooner than 10 days into November. The ball came and went, and we enjoyed getting all gussied up and going out sans kids. But November 11th was the day that didn’t go as planned. Our agenda for the day was to pack for our trip to Minnesota. We were scheduled to fly out on the afternoon of the 12th. Little did we know that we would change our minds and instead decide to drive and leave on the 11th. It was all Lucy’s fault. We were not able to find a way for her to fly back with us on the return trip from Minnesota. Apparently, during the seven months while Mike was in Iraq many airlines have elected not to allow animals as cargo anymore. Consequently, the decision was made to just drive to Minnesota and use our plane tickets at a later date.

So we made our annual Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota. The drive was actually not bad at all. The girls behaved themselves very well. Since we left a day sooner, we only arrived a half-day later than originally scheduled. Check out our MN 2005 album posted on the Memories page.

Jenni, Mike’s sister, also came for a short visit. She had her youngest daughter, Maddie (but most everyone calls her “Missy”), with her. Annie just loved Missy and asked for her several times after she was gone. While in town we went to Marshall Fields’ downtown Christmas display. The theme for this year was Cinderella. Afterward, the girls got to visit with Santa. Annie was a bit scared at first, but she was put at ease by holding Missy’s hand during the process. We also made a trip to the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul. Both Annie and Mimi enjoyed themselves. There were several areas that were age appropriate for infants and toddlers. Mimi was so bushed from the museum that she fell asleep while driving out of our parking spot. Another fun adventure we had was going to a children’s bookstore called the “Wild Rumpus”. The store features live animals running amongst the visitors. Such animals were chickens, cats (without tails), ferrets, mice (in a cage below a floor of Plexiglas), and many birds. Annie got to pet one of the chickens. It was a blast for the girls.

Annie loved playing with all of her cousins, too. We spent several days with Sara and Jake’s families (Mike’s sister and brother). Annie is finally at the age where she can keep up with all the bigger kids. It was so nice for her. Thanksgiving day brought 25 people into Mike’s mom’s house. Everyone seemed to have such fun. I was sad to see everybody go home after the festivities. We got to see some family members one more time over at Sara’s home on Friday. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a stomach bug and was left lying in a bed during the entire visit. But Mike and the girls were still able to enjoy themselves.

We got up early Saturday morning and started our journey back to North Carolina. We arrived to my parents’ house around 5:00 p.m. My grandmother, Aunt Pam and Uncle Jim Wallace were also visiting. It was the first time that my grandmother got to meet the girls. She seemed quite smitten with them. Another Thanksgiving feast awaited us, and we thoroughly devoured it. It was nice to have a little downtime with my folks before having to venture off for another day in the car. We also got to reminisce while looking through old, family photos. Boy, did I have awful 80’s hair (or “state fair hair” as Mike likes to call it). I hated having only a few hours to spend with my family, but I know we will get to see them again soon. (It could be sooner if my parents wouldn’t’t be so stubborn by refusing to come visit during Christmas).

Sunday’s drive was not so trouble-free. We got stuck in traffic in every major city between Terre Haute, IN and our house. Our ETA was around 6:00 p.m. but actually ended up being around 9:00 p.m. The girls had had it by about 5:00 p.m. Hence, those last few hours in the car were not fun. Nevertheless, we made it home safely, and everyone was happy just to get out of the car and stretch out for a bit. The girls were exhausted and slept in until 9:00 a.m. the next morning. Yippee!! Today we’re back to the daily doldrums. I think the girls are a bit off their schedule and aren’t quite used to being back on Eastern Standard Time. I’m sure all will be back to normal by the week’s end.

One final adventure of note was our trip on the boat. In fact, we’ve been twice so far. One time a few days before leaving for Minnesota and the other time was yesterday. My mom thought we were crazy to go out boating the day after returning from such a long trip. I could have definitely laid around all day, but Mike was not about to sit around to “relax”. The girls seem to enjoy themselves while traveling in the boat even though Mimi has be to buckled into her carseat with a lifeboat strapped to the side of it. Our first trip on the boat was quick and a bit chilly. Yesterday we traveled out to a little, sand island. We got out to eat lunch there and also walked around a bit to collect shells. A boat was wrecked on the beach. The girls and I had quite the exploration while Mike went off to do some fishing from the shore. The weather was perfect, too. Hopefully, we can do it again soon.

The girls are doing well and growing up so fast. Annie’s speaking abilities are getting better each day. She says 3-4 word sentences with ease, and her words are easier to understand. Annie still has a mind of her own, and we get into little battles everyday over eating and other daily struggles. She no longer needs the gate on the side of her bed to keep her from falling out. She will usually tell us when her diaper needs changed, but she still has no desire to go potty on the toilet. Annie has finally gotten to like having stories read to her. In the past, she would seem interested for about a page, then go off to do other things. So Mike and I read her a story or two before bedtime each night. In fact, she expects it by saying “sory, sory, sory” right after she dresses into her p.j.’s. Annie really is a joy, and we love her so much. Speaking of getting dressed, Annie does it often. She likes to redress herself several times a day. It’s quite maddening for me.

Miss Smiling Mimi is starting to march to her own beat, too. She always has a smile on her face and seems to love life. She’s very busy exploring everything around her. She’s mastered crawling and can do so at top speeds. Her standing skills are rather refined as well. Sometimes she will let go of her support for seconds at a time. She’s starting to walk along furniture. Mike thinks she will be walking within a week, but I’m not so sure. I think she is going to be the animal lover of the family because she can’t seem to get enough of Lucy and Lily if given the chance to harass them. Luckily, the pets are already used to having a kid around and always have an escape plan. Her vocabulary now consists of “da, da”, “ba, ba”, “wa, wa”, and maybe “hi”. Everyone agrees that as she gets older, Mimi is really starting to look like her big sister. I was looking at some baby pictures of Annie that were on the laptop and definitely think they look very much alike. Let’s just hope Mimi won’t become as much of a stinker as Annie. Heaven help us if she does! I’ve added a November album to the girls’ page. Yes, there are quite a few repeats from the MN 2005 album. I just didn’t want those people not interested in looking at our Minnesota pictures to miss out on pictures of the girls.

October 2005

Monday, October 31st, 2005

31 OCTOBER 2005

Just a quick note here. I knew some people would be interested in seeing what the girls dressed up as on Halloween. In case you can’t figure it out, Mimi is Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” and Annie is the witch. The girls enjoyed themselves immensely. Annie finally seemed to understand what Halloween was all about. We went to our church for “Trunk-or-Treat” where everyone decorates their trunks and the kids go from car to car trick-or-treating. Annie quickly figured out the routine: open her bag, say, “trick-or-treat”, receive candy, say, “thank you”, move on to the next car, and repeat. It was so fun watching her. Mimi slept in the car the whole time, but it was great just to see her in her costume for a few minutes. She wanted to get that wig off her head as soon as possible, and those glitter shoes made an absolute mess. There are more pictures on the girls’ October album. Hope everyone enjoyed their Halloween!!

26 OCTOBER 2005

Mike is finally home for good. Life is starting to feel normal again. Well, as normal as it can be with two small children. Projects aren’t getting completed (or even started) as quickly as they used to. Forget about “projects”, I’m happy if I can get the dishes done anymore. I keep joking that I’m going to hire a live-in nanny/cook/housekeeper. Little does Mike know that I’m not really joking. Oh, how I wish! More wildlife keep appearing around us. Pictured here is a black widow spider that Mike found hiding amongst our landscape rocks. I was surprised to find that is wasn’t as aggressive as most spiders seem to be. Even when poked and prodded, it barely moved. That doesn’t mean I didn’t keep at least 2-arms-length between me and that creature. Surprisingly, I had no major nightmares that night. For those who don’t know, I will, on occasion, have some ferocious nightmares which cause me to wake up other people in the house adamantly making strange statements or just run screaming bloody murder around the house.

We did manage a fun night out last week at Mike’s Farm (a different Mike). Annie and I got to go last year with a playgroup. Actually, the girls and I got to go again today with another playgroup. Lucky us! They have hayrides, pumpkin-picking, animals to pet (cows, goats, lambs, chickens), apple cider lessons, live music from a cowboy in a barn, and a wonderful restaurant. The restaurant is “family-style” meaning the server brings “bottomless” bowls of food to the table that everyone shares. Their macaroni-and-cheese is to die for. The girls really enjoyed themselves, especially Annie when picking her pumpkin. She kept wanting to throw them. Mimi was just happy to be along for the ride. We attempted to take some family portraits with the tripod, but we weren’t that successful. The pictures were either too blurry or blown-out for my taste. We had fun anyway.

I’m considering trading Annie in for a different 2003 model of kid. She has been driving Mike and me crazy the last several nights at bedtime. For about a week now, Annie has been fighting going to bed. She used to voluntarily lie down and not make a peep until morning. The past few nights, she’s also been getting up around 10:00 p.m. wanting to get her diaper changed. However, last night was the worst. It took Mike and me about an hour to finally get her to bed. We still had the 10:00 p.m. diaper-changing session. What made it all unbearable was when Annie woke up around 3:00 a.m., ran into our room, and insisted on sleeping in our bed. I wasn’t completely able to resist since I was a sleepy pile of putty. I did try unsuccessfully to get her back into her own bed, but she had her mind made up. After we finally “settled” into my bed, I was wide awake and couldn’t go back to sleep at all. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to offer them. I don’t want do this every night. Other than this latest development, Annie is doing great. She’s still making progress with her language skills. I’m convinced, however, that she will always remain the size she is. I swear she hasn’t gained a pound in months.

Mimi is getting more rambunctious each day. Hear I was conviced that Mimi was going to be the meek and mild member of our family. Boy has that changed! I can’t keep her from moving and “talking”. I like to think of Mimi as our little, howler monkey since she loves to screech loudly for long periods of time. She’s gotten really good at pulling herself up to stand. And the other night, I caught her on top of the bottom step of the staircase. Looks like I will have to start locking the gate again. Mimi is adding more “words” to her vocabulary. Not only does she say “dada” but can also say “baba” now. Sometimes I believe I can hear her say “mama”, but it’s probably just wishful thinking. Mimi now eats cheerios, too! She’s due for her 9-month doctor’s appointment next week, so I still don’t have official measurements for her. I have weighed her on the bathroom scale a few times, and she usually weighs in around 18 pounds. Mimi’s not a huge baby, but we still get many comments on her bulk. Speaking of which, she now wears larger size diapers than Annie.

Mike thoroughly enjoyed his trip to Idaho even though he had no luck in getting anything. His friend, Matt, got a grouse, yet the intended target was elk. Mike did return home with some yummy fuji apples from Tim’s dad’s orchard. Mike was the only person in the party to have the elk tag. Murphy’s Law rang true when the non-elk license holders had numerous opportunities to shoot elk, but Mike saw none. Mike came across a few “cows”, but his license was for “bulls” only. On the first day, Matt had an elk run right past him and saw that it had already been shot. He thought that Mike had shot it and hoped that Mike got his elk on the first day. Well, it was another hunter who had shot the elk. It just wasn’t in the cards for them. Mike was just glad to be able to go on a big hunting trip after being in Iraq for so long. I was sad at first to see him go so soon after returning from Iraq, but he needed to get that hunting bug out of his system. He will get the opportunity to go hunting one more time when we go to Minnesota in November. There are pictures from his trip on the hunting/fishing page under “Idaho – Fall 2005.”

Mike is officially back to work. He has been riding his bike into work most days. I used to really worry about him doing this since there are no shoulders on the roads here and most people don’t pay attention when they drive. Mike’s convinced me that he will be safe. He’s getting geared up to go to school next year. He’s got quite the list of things that need to be done before starting. I don’t remember it being so complicated when he started dental school. From the sounds of it, there will be no free time for Mike once school begins. I just keep thinking how much more stuff can there be to learn about teeth!

09 OCTOBER 2005

I don’t really have anything new to ramble on about. I just updated the girls’ page with an October album. Have a look. I also changed the look of the girls’ album links. Something just didn’t sit right with look of it. Mike’s gone now. Last night was tough because Annie woke up screaming for her daddy. Then, of course, Mimi woke up to all the raucous. It was a viscous cycle of one kid waking up the other. Finally around 2:30 a.m., then kids were sound asleep. It was not so easy for me to get back to my Z’s.

07 OCTOBER 2005

Just a quick note here. Mike is leaving for his hunting trip tomorrow for a week. He will not have phone/internet access since he will be camping/hunting/fishing in the mountains in Idaho. I am also going to be taking down the guestbook as it apparently no longer is accessible to me and will not allow any new guests to sign it. I don’t know what went wrong, but I’m just not going to worry about it anymore. I hope that this recent action will not deter anyone from visiting our website. The girls are doing great. Mimi can now pull herself up to standing and says “dada”. Annie is still picking up cute and sometimes not so cute habits. I don’t know when I will update again. Maybe within the next week or two. In the meantime, have a look at our new friend, Randy. He is a regular visitor to our back door each evening. We know he is the same froggie because he a has little “disability” in which one of his thumbs bends back characteristically. Have a safe holiday weekend! We will be w/o daddy:(

02 OCTOBER 2005

As promised, I am updating the site with information about Mike’s homecoming. I know he’s been home now for over a week, and most friends and family have spoken with Mike already. It was kind of a crazy time because there was uncertainty as to his exact arrival date/time. The first arrival time was to be around 2:00 a.m. on September 21st. Due to the middle of the night timing, I arranged to have the neighbor come spend the night so that I could go pick up Mike without waking the girls. Then I was told that his arrival would actually be around 6:00 p.m. on September 20th. Imagine my glee. I even went about telling my neighbor to forget about coming over that night. Well, my hopes were crushed when I was told, once again, that Mike’s arrival would be at 2:00 a.m. on September 21st. Apparently, nobody actually checked which flight the dentists would be arriving on. Fortunately, my neighbor was still willing and available to continue with the original plan.

So Mike made it home safe and sound. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m. Of course, we waited for the girls to wake up at their usual time until reacquainting Mike with them. Mimi was first up. I brought her into bed to nurse around 5ish. She was too busy eating at first to even notice that was another being in bed. When she finally did make the discovery, she was immediately all smiles. She got a few minutes with her daddy, then I put her back to bed. Next was Annie’s turn. I went and got Annie and brought her into our bedroom. Mike was sitting up in bed. I told Annie that I had a surprise for her. When I brought her into the bedroom, I shouted, “It’s Daddy!” She said, “Daddy?” and then started crying and refused to let me put her down. This continued on for a couple of minutes until I told Mike to lay down on the floor and offer himself up as the human jungle gym. Annie suddenly remembered what Daddy was for and went and climbed on him. They have been best buddies ever since. There are new pictures on Mike’s Iraq pictures page under September 2005. Check them out.

Its Mike here, finally able to enjoy the freedoms of American life. It really was a great tour and I met many great and some very interesting people, who knows maybe I am someone elses “intersting person”. Anyway, I have given Jenny pictures of the last few days in Iraq and the way home. People that are featured are friends of mine that I made along the way and made life over there very enjoyable. If you appear in the picture then you know who you are, but I will probably refrain from posting names in order to respect peoples privacy.

One event that was a great way to round out the deployment was eating some Iraqi doves that I shot with a pellet gun. I initially tried to trap them but that plan was sub-successful. So I got ahold of a pellet gun and shot four. We (some of “the guys”) marinated them in some italian dressing from the chow hall and grilled them over charcoal. They were quite tast,y and my only regret is that I didnt have more (the doves were everywhere over there, the pellet gun was less effective than a pea shooter and I found myself wishing for a good Beeman).

So thanks again to every one of you that emailed, wrote, sent packages, helped Jenny or supported us in any other way. I am back safe, have gone to a war zone and will be quite content never having to do it again.

Now for progress reports. Annie is now more like a kid than a baby. She still isn’t potty-trained which will be her official initiation into big-girldom. Her eating habits have gotten much better over the last few weeks. She’ll eat or at least try most of the foods placed on her plate especially if doused in ketchup. She’s still a squirt though. Annie’s language skills are rapidly increasing, and she’s starting to develop sentences more. Her new favorite word is “ew”. She has learned the principle of possession and constantly points out things that are Mommy’s, Daddy’s, Mimi’s, or Annie’s. She loves counting to ten with her daddy and pointing out letters and numbers to whoever’s paying attention. Annie pretty much knows all the common animals from the animal kingdom and will even recite their sounds. She knows many of the basic shapes but still needs work on learning the concept of color. Annie also loves to sing. We sing the alphabet song, the bus song, the food song, and many more on a regular basis. I’ve also noticed her singing along with the songs on her morning shows such as the “Higglytown Heroes” theme song. One annoying habit of Annie’s, pointing out her boo-boos relentlessly.

Mimi has also made great strides recently. She is now a full-time crawler on her hands and knees. She can even go from crawling to sitting with ease. Mimi is also starting to pull herself up onto objects and people. She loves to play with the door stop springs for minutes on end. I also think Mimi is going to have a great love of water. The other day when I brought her into the shower she was bouncing the entire time and laughed when I put her face in the water. Annie always acted (and still sometimes does) like I was drowning her when the water hit her face. Then in the bathtub the other night, Mimi was so excited she kept flinging herself face first into the water. It took both Mike and me to get her all bathed. She has had a bit of a cold this week. She woke up every 2 to 3 hours on Monday and Tuesday nights and has had a crusty, runny nose for days and still has it. Mimi can now sense when the dreaded tissue is coming for her nose in which she fights me to the end to avoid the wipe down. Check out our most recent beach pictures on the girls’ September 2005 album.

No new progress for me, I’m just glad to have Mike home. Things were strange at first but are now pretty much back to normal. Mike built us a new computer, and it’s now up and running like a charm. For those interested in knowing, it’s got an AMD Athlon 64-bit processor with 3.4 GHz, 200 Gigbytes on the hard ddrive and 2 Gigabytes of RAM. It’s awesome and is a ton faster than our 3-year-old Dell. Now I can actually use my Photoshop CS2 without constantly crashing the computer. I think I may start shooting in RAW with my Rebel because PSCS2 makes it so you can do batch processing if in RAW mode. And I’ve got the RAM to handle batch processing. (RAM everything, even the Gigabytes!) I can’t wait! Have a good week!

September 2005

Friday, September 16th, 2005


The wrath of Ophelia left us with no damage or harm. I did have to collect debris from the yard throughout the night such as the wheelbarrow and several 50 gallon tree buckets. (Yes, tree buckets. Mike insisted on hanging on to them after we planted our trees.) The grill also brought about some drama when it crashed on the deck causing all us girls to jump. Mostly I was just annoyed for having to stay indoors for more than 24 hours. What made it worse was that I had a bit of a stomach/intestinal bug the days leading up to Ophelia’s arrival. Consequently, I was not up to shopping for hurricane supplies before it was too late. We were prepared enough though had we found ourselves without electricity or water. I even filled up a bathtub with water. So we are all safe and back to our daily grind.

There are only about 5 days left until Mike’s arrival. He and I are going nuts waiting for these last days to pass. Mike is very bored with literally nothing to do. The replacements are now on post and no longer need Mike’s crew to do any dentistry. He is just passing his time exercising, calling home, checking email, exercsing, hanging out with the guys, exercising, eating, and sleeping. Now I’m just preparing for his return getting the house ready and doing last minute things that should’ve been done 7 months ago:P

My mom is long gone (from Jacksonville, that is). I know that I’m quite behind in updating the site, but I thought I would still mention my mom’s visit. It was nice to have a little more help with the girls before I have a full-time husband again. We managed to get all the bathrooms painted which was really my goal while she was here. Those ferns that I had planted and hung on the porch are now dead. It’s actually kind of not my fault. The one that had fallen during the storm on Annie’s birthday just wouldn’t recover. Well, the other death probably is my fault. I never claimed to have a green thumb. Anyway, the girls and I had a lot of fun with my mom here. Annie’s new nickname for her grandmother is “Boo-Boo”. If you knew my mom, you would understand. I’m sure “Boo-boo” was glad to get back to her own “kids”, Rudy and Tiger. I guess Tiger, her Yorkie puppy, has turned out to be quite a handful. They now call her “Lemmy-lu” meaning she’s a lemon.

Annie has been making great strides since my last update. Her biggest accomplishment is that she now sleeps in her big, girl bed. We made the transition shortly after my mom’s departure. I’ve only had to lock her in her room a couple of times during naps, but other than that she’s had no issues. She’ll even get herself up in the mornings and come get me out of bed. That’s the greatest part! A few times this week, she even asked to take her nap. Annie’s vocabulary is expanding each day, and she is slowly putting together 2-3 word sentences. She really surprises me with how many words she actually knows and can say that I never spent time teaching her. She loves to point out the numbers and letters she knows when she sees them on various media such as the milk carton or remote control. Annie had her 2-year appointment on Monday. For some reason since Anne was around 9 months, she’s developed a fear of doctors/nurses. I had to hold her screaming/flailing body down anytime the doctor or nurse tried to examine her. It’s funny how as soon as the doctor handed over a sucker, Annie was suddenly as quiet as a church mouse. We did manage to get her weight and height at 23 pounds and 32 inches tall which puts her in the 5th to 10th percentile. She’s so small, but she’s happy and healthy.

Mimi is very much on the go now. Yet she’s still not completely crawling. She will constantly get up on her hands and knees and even crawl a couple paces but will eventually give in to her ability to “army crawl”. At one point while on her hands and knees, she somehow landed on her bottom in a sitting-up position. Speaking of sitting up, she can do that fairly well, too. Mimi seems to like her new sleeping arrangements. No complaints from her so far. We’ve got a pretty good system worked out now where she goes to bed at 7:30 p.m., wakes around 6:00 a.m. for a nursing session, goes back to bed until around 8:30 a.m., and then gets her official breakfast around 9:00 a.m. Mimi is enjoying life right now getting bigger each day and never shies away from a good meal. Her demands do sometimes outnumber the supplies, although we manage to come to a happy medium most of the time. Mimi is also very intrigued by her big sister. She loves to watch and laugh at her much of the day. It gives me a break at times. Annie has been really gentle and loving with Mimi for which I’m so grateful. Annie is even (sometimes) willing to bequeath “her” toys to Mimi in order to keep her happy. Check out the most recent pictures of the girls on their September album.

Well, this may be the last update for a while since we will probably be busy with Mike once he returns. I will try to give a quick update of the homecoming as I’m sure many of you are curious as to how Annie will react to Mike, what Mike looks like, etc. Thanks for all your support and love during this hectic time in our lives. The family and friends we have are really what got us through this. Talk to y’all soon!

August 2005

Friday, August 26th, 2005

26 AUGUST 2005

This month has just flown by. I can’t believe that there are less than 3 weeks for Mike’s return. When it all started, I thought it would be forever before he would get home. Now I’m freaking out because I feel like I have a ton to do before his arrival. I’ll be happy to have him home whether I get my “honey do” list done or not. Speaking of projects, I’ve updated the “projects” page with several pictures of completed projects. Check it out! And speaking of Mike, not much to report from his end and no new pictures. He’s fine and very much anticipating his departure from Iraq.

My mom is currently visiting. She’s staying for two weeks. It’s nice to have someone to keep me company and help with the kiddos. Actually, she is more like the workhorse around here while I lounge around letting her serve me. Now before anyone gasps in disgust, my mom prefers is that way. She really does like to take care of me. I am, after all, her only baby. But, realistically, nobody is lounging around with 2 babies to care for. After she leaves there will only be a week and a half to go for Mike’s return. (Can you tell I’m counting down?) We’ve mostly just been hanging around the house because it’s just easier that way. We did manage to get out for a little shopping and dinner tonight. The girls actually did remarkably well at the restaurant. I made a list of all the things I want to do while she is in town. The more I look at the list, I realize that it won’t get completed. My main goal is to have the bathrooms painted by the time she leaves. I figure I better get it done now before Mike returns and forbids me to paint anymore rooms. I did manage to buy new ferns, replant, and hang them on the porch which was another item on the list. My mom brought with her the latest creation from her newest hobby–making picture purses. Ever since I made a couple with her, she has made 3 or 4 now. I say, good for her! And, no, I still won’t make one for you. Ask my mom!

Annie is now 2 years old! We had a party to celebrate the occasion. The bash started off with a bang, literally. A hurricane-like storm blew through with high winds and violent bouts of thunder and lightning. Even one of the aforementioned ferns crashed to the earth and needed to be replanted the next day. Despite the rain, we still had a full house, about 10 adults and 15 kids. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the food. I made a monkey cake and matching cupcakes and ordered a 28″ monster pizza. There is a reason for the monkey cake. I was on the phone to a friend a few days before the party talking about kids’ birthday parties, and she mentioned how her husband still remembered the time when his family hired circus monkeys for his 4th birthday party. Then upon searching for a birthday cake to make, I first checked out the Martha Stewart website. The first birthday related topic I came across on her site was none other than a monkey-themed party. So the “theme” had been decided. The only thing I really did though was make a monkey cake, put up yellow and brown balloons, and made brown party favor bags with yellow ribbon. The hit of the party was not the food or theme, however, it was the six-pack of high heels that Annie received as a gift. Everywhere you turned there were little girls running around with those things on. Even one of the boy attendees gave them a try. Too funny!

Annie does seem like she has grown up a lot in the last few days. She knows most of her alphabet and numbers up to 10 now. The strange thing is that I never really taught her any numbers. She just seemed to pick them up on her own (oh, my little genius). Her speaking is becoming more clear, and she’s starting to put together 2-3 word sentences rather than just grunting or yelling the same word over and over to get her point across. The older she gets I realize that she is the female version of Mike. She is such a goofball at heart always up for a good laugh and is constantly wanting to tumble or wrestle. I just assumed that all kids her age are like that, but the more I’m around other toddlers I see that that’s not the case.

Mimi is officially eating three solid meals a day at two jars a meal. Tomorrow we will introduce meat to her. I have a feeling she won’t object. So far she likes everything I’ve given her and eats quite heartily at each meal. She’s even gotten to the point when her jars of food are placed before her, she will start to grunt and squawk until she’s gotten a spoon full in her mouth. That’s not to say she isn’t picky about who feeds her. Mimi and Annie had a babysitter a few weeks ago. It was Mimi’s first time to be left alone with a babysitter. The babysitter arrived just in time to take over feeding Mimi her morning cereal. I gladly turned the duty over to the young girl. Well, Mimi became so distraught and would only calm down when I returned to to feeding her. Needless to say, my departure was delayed in order to feed Mimi. Mimi is still not quite a full-time crawler but can get where she needs to by scooting and pulling herself. Mimi does on occasion get up on all fours and inch forward that way, but she’s gotten used to the other method. Mimi is also no longer the meek and mild baby that we used to brag about. She makes her needs known and does not take “no” for an answer. We still love her though. On Mimi’s 6 month doctor’s appointment, she weighed 16 pounds, 6 ounces and was 26 inches. For those keeping track, Annie weighed 14 pounds, 15 ounces and was 26 3/4 inches long at her 6 month appointment. There are more pictures added to the girls’ August album. Make sure and have a look-see.

02 AUGUST 2005

I cannot believe it’s already August. That means only about a month and half to go before Mike gets home. We are really keeping busy around here. The girls have been invited to about 4 birthday parties in the last 2 weeks. Then, of course, there will be Annie’s birthday at the end of the month. I still have no idea what I will do for it. I will definitely keep it low-key. My mom is probably going to come for another visit around that time since her birthday is just a day apart from Annie’s. My mom’s not much into huge parties either, so we will most likely just invite a couple of mommies/kids to help celebrate. Mainly, I just want to be able to take some fun pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I’m really having a blast with my new camera. I got the girls to cooperate for a photo shoot today and got some great results. At least I think so. Take a look. I posted them on the girls’ August album on the girls’ page.

Annie’s really starting to make progress with the alphabet and shapes. She loves practicing her letters using the magnetic phonics system on our fridge. She even pulls her chair up to the fridge in order to be more comfortable. I noticed one night that Annie was having no trouble putting her foam alphabet together, i.e. recognizing which letter goes with which square. So I pulled out her bucket o’ shapes blocks. She immediately started putting the correct shapes through the correct slots. I was so proud of her. I also have to be very careful with what I say around Annie now. The other day I was on the phone with a friend, and I said something like, “That sucks!” Annie suddenly blurted out “sucks” really loud, clear as day. Loud enough that even my friend asked for confirmation on what she said. I guess I’m getting paid back for the time I said the same thing in front of my sister-in-law’s youngest child. Afterward, he ran around saying it the rest of the night. I apologized and felt genuinely regretful.

Mimi is loving the rice cereal. Sometimes she will grunt at me to get me to feed her faster. I bought some new foods to introduce into her diet. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, she’s not as picky an eater as Annie. Today Mimi was dangerously close to crawling. She can pretty much scoot herself around now but has yet to make the final transition to crawling. I’ll be taking her in for her 6 month appointment next week. I weighed her on the bathroom scale a couple of weeks ago, and she was about 17 pounds. Annie was just a hair under 15 pounds at her 6 month appointment. I’ll give an official update/comparison after Mimi’s doctor visit. She’s also really starting to develop a cute little personality. Her demeanor is so much calmer than Annie’s, but she can still belt out demand when she sees fit. It’s still hard to say if she’s going to look much like Annie. Their baby pictures at each are similar, but there are still differences. Only time will tell.

Mike is doing well. He made a couple of moves in the last few weeks, but he’s now back at his home base for good until he returns to the U.S.A. There is now a July album on Mike’s iraq pictures page. Don’t expect any new albums to pop because there aren’t any new pictures to be expected from Mike. Maybe after he returns he will have more pictures to share. He will also periodically send pictures through email as well.

July 2005

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

21 JULY 2005

We just finished up a visit with my parents on Monday. They arrived last Tuesday. Unfortunatley, it did rain much of the time. My dad was able to golf the first two days of his visit, but I think he would have liked to go more. Some friends of my parents were also here in town on vacation. We went over to the beach house they rented for dinner one night. There were 4 families sharing 2 beach houses with about 5 teenage girls to play with Annie. She absolutely loved all the attention. The girls enjoyed their grandparents. Annie was totally in awe of her grandpa. She wanted him to hold her constantly. It was sad and sweet at the same time. Sad because she is obviously in need of her daddy. My mom is already talking about another visit for Annie’s birthday since their birthdays are only a day apart. My mom and I got on a purse-making kick. A friend of mine talked me into making a purse to give to her grandmother. Once my mom saw the finished product, she had to have one. So we went fabric shopping and made 2 purses by the end of their visit. They are actually very easy to make and usually only take a couple of hours. I’ve posted some pics of them on the projects page. Take a look. And, NO, I won’t make one for you. Check out our photo shoot pictures posted on the Memories page.

We are slowly getting back into the daily routine since my parents’ departure. Annie had a few rough days, but I think she’s pretty much back to normal. She is pickier than ever with food. I’m getting very frustrated with her and refuse to go through all the cupboards and fridge until I find something she will eat. She’s even gotten to the point where she doesn’t like food that she used to love. I’d say breakfast is the worst meal for us. I would usually give her any combination of oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, cereal, waffles, pancakes, and fruit. She pretty much hates all that stuff now. Urgh!!

While Mimi was eating her “dinner” last night, Annie brought over the “Clap Your Hands” book to me. It’s a book that Mike’s mom gave to Annie that has the child do all sorts of cute stuff. I got her to do many of the things the book asks. Of course, I wasn’t able to get her to find “something yellow” and other more advanced requests. But she clapped her hands, stomped her feet, rubbed her tummy, patted her head, twirled in a circle, sat down, roared like a lion, etc. In other news, Annie still doesn’t know her alphabet beyond the letter “B”. And “A” is still tricky for her, meaning she thinks it’s “B”. I work with her for a few minutes several times each day showing her different letters from the foam and magnet alphabets that we have. She will repeat the letters quite readily. But when I ask her to tell me what letter I’m showing her, she will usually say “B”. It’s frustrating (and kind of funny at the same time), but I’ll keep working with her.

It’s been a big week for Mimi. I started her on the rice cereal. I figured it was time to begin because she has been wanting to eat more often than usual. She seemed to struggle with the digestion of the new substance the first couple of days, but she seemed fine with it today. This morning when I gave it to her she would grab my hand to help shove the spoon in her mouth. I figured she would enjoy moving onto solid foods since she’s such a stout baby. We went to the pool on Tuesday. An extra babysitter was on hand to watch Annie, so I got to spend quality time with Mimi in the pool. She hated it. She cried the entire time, but I think it was because the rice cereal was giving her tummy trouble. Nonetheless, she finally got her first swim. Blowing raspberries is her new favorite pastime. I’ve added just a few more pictures of the girls to their July pictures. I’ve added another video to the girls’ video page. Feel free to view it anytime. Just a reminder: you need Flash Player to view the pictures of any recent picture albums and Quicktime Player to view any of the videos. Both are free, safe, and quick to download.

Only two months to go for Mike. He has requested that no more packages be sent after this week as they may never get to him. Keep up the emails and MotoMail though. He will be on the move again next week for one last time. The replacements are expected to arrive in about a month or so. Nothing exciting to report and no new pictures. I think Mike is just happy that his time there will end soon.

7 JULY 2005

Not much new here. We’ve been trying to go to the beach as often as possible. We’ve been twice already this week. Annie and I are really getting brown, and, yes, I put the highest possible SPF on Annie. Mimi is always so great when we go to the beach because she will usually fall asleep on a towel under the umbrella. This allows me to spend quality time with Annie in the water.

We didn’t get to see fireworks on the 4th of July. I didn’t think it would be worth keeping the girls up way past their bedtime, and I’ve seen so many other kids Annie’s age freak out from the sound of the fireworks. So we instead met up with another woman with her kids for dinner. We took the kids to Dairy Queen afterwards to play on the outdoor playground and eat ice-cream. Annie discovered the joys of throwing mulch at other kids and on herself despite numerous reprimands. She can be so naughty. We also went to a double birthday party on Saturday for a couple of one-year-old girls. The mothers of the birthday girls set up three different wading pools, a bouncy house, and allowed access to the backyard swing set. Annie had a blast taking turns between the pools and the slide on the swing set. I couldn’t get her to sit still long enough to eat a decent meal.

Mimi has discovered that she can use her rolling skills to get from one place to another. She was getting so close to crawling, but she put her practice on hold in order to give the rolling transportation a go. I’ve added a July album on the girls’ page. I decided to get yet another new digital camera, this time an Digital Rebel SLR. I can’t believe how different it is from just a typical digital camera. I had a friend come over the other night to practice taking pictures with it. We set up a studio with a black backdrop to take pictures of the girls. Of course, Annie wouldn’t cooperate. Some of those pictures are on the girls’ July album, too. Have a look-see! My friend and I also want to try to go out to the beach right before dusk to take pictures with the SLR. The plan was to go out to the beach tonight, but it’s supposed to rain. We’ll probably just wait until the weekend to give it a try. I will, of course, post pictures once we’ve had a chance to go. I know I said that I would add more videos. It takes more work, so I will have to find some time one day to sit down and do it.

We are past the halfway mark for Mike’s return from Iraq. It’s just over 2 months away. Mike is doing fine over there. He just transferred again to another base for a couple of weeks. It’s a base he’s already been to in Ramadi. He has mixed feelings about being there. The cons are that it’s a small, “dirty hole in the ground” with limited phone and computer access, and the food is not as tasty. He also had to leave his garden behind. The pros are that Mike has many friends there with which he has much in common. I don’t have any new pictures to post, but I certainly will the next time I receive some from him.