Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

The first week of August was hot. I mean really hot. Africa hot. We were in the 90s all week. Fortunately we found a couple of ways to help us beat the heat.
First, my friend Jill and her daughter Annie invited us to an open gym session at Annie's gymnastics studio. It was air conditioned, so Jill and I enjoyed chatting, playing with the kids and staying cool.

Annie and Molly were the only kids there, so they had a fantastic time playing on all of the different gymnastics apparatus. Molly especially liked the trapeze, which sailed her out over a big foam pit:

She flies through the air with greatest of ease.....

Well, maybe not with that much ease...

luckily there was a soft landing!

She also loved the uneven parallel bars. She has experience on these from her own Little Gym class, so she is an expert at mounting the bars with a flying leap:

And then performing the always difficult Hang Until You Drop maneuver.

Later in the week, we met up with Faye and Alex at the splash park. Molly had a fun in the water:

But for some reason both girls were more excited to play at the park, despite the soaring temperatures.
"Hey, I am stinkin' hot!" (And from the sweat that she had worked up, stinky is a kind description!)

Monkey see...

Monkey do!

Keeping hydrated is key to playground safety:

While we were in the middle of this heat wave, we watched weather reports of a large storm out in the Atlantic. Ike was heading for the U.S. coastline. It was fascinating to watch the hurricane form and we desperately hoped that the people of Texas headed the warning to get out of Ike's way, but to us the storm was little more than an interesting news story.
Little did we know that a few days later, the storm would impact us, the poor Midwesterners living out here amongst the corn and soybeans. It really wasn't much of a storm, as far as severe weather goes, but we did get some pretty strong winds (nothing like we used to get in Colorado, though!).
This storm managed to shut down a good portion of our state. With all of the downed electrical lines we lost out power on Sunday afternoon. I assumed it would only last a few hours, so I laced up my shoes and went for a run. When I returned, still no power. Hmmmmm. As it turned out it would be DAYS, not hours, before power was restored to our house. Amazing.
Something I learned in the past few days: You can get a whole lot more accomplished without power than with it. There was no internet, no television, and driving anywhere was difficult due to the fact that so many traffic signals were out. We were forced to stay at home and find things to occupy our time. I organized the Tupperware cabinet, got the yard cleaned up and best of all, I cleaned the refrigerator. This was the highlight of my week. Really.

In the 8 1/2 years that we have lived in this house I have never had a totally empty refrigerator. The refrigerator typically got spot cleaned. You know, clear a shelf, wipe it off; sop up a spill; reorganize the contents. But now, since the contents of the fridge was in the trash (no power=no appliances), I had the opportunity to really clean it. I scrubbed it down like there was no tomorrow. It sparkled, baby. It was so pretty that when the power came back on, I almost hated to refill it. Yes, I know, I need to get a life.
With the return of electricity, life is now getting back to normal, and I am getting nothing accomplished. But I can't resist sneaking in just a few more pictures of my beautiful Molly. After all, 10 pictures in one post, just isn't enough, is it?
These were taken the day after the storm, during the big clean up. While I sawed fallen tree limbs and raked piles of leaves and debris, Molly has a great time playing in the yard:
Holy cow, what a mess!

I'll stay here, while you clean up Mom!

Maybe, I'll do a little strawberry picking.

This little guy looks tired.

He needs to take a nap!

(Molly told me that the little strawberries were tired and need to take a nap. She made a bed for them and covered them with leaves. It was totally cute, but when is she going to be old enough to help me rake leaves?)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mommy Mine

My daughter is a genius. At two years of age, she can read! Well, maybe it's not reading, but she memorizes really well. This is her favorite book, which she reads to me every night at bedtime:

It's a cute little book that looks at all kinds of Mommys in the animal world. It has a rhyming pattern and awesome illustrations.

  • "Mommy huge (hippopotamus), Mommy hairy (spider), Mommy spiny, Mommy scary (alligator). Mommy flutter (butterfly), Mommy chatter (bird), Mommy tiny, pitter-patter (mouse)."

You get the idea.

The end of the book is my favorite:

  • "Mommy cuddles on the vine, Mommy kisses...Mommy mine!"

This page shows a mommy monkey cuddling and kissing her baby. When Molly reads this page, she snuggles in close to me and gives me a big smacking kiss. My heart melts each and every time. In fact, as soon as she starts reading, I get excited for the ending.

When Molly woke up this morning, I hear over the baby monitor that she is reading Mommy Mine. I sneak upstairs and peek in the door. Once I saw what she was doing, I ran and got my camera. She was reading Mommy Mine to Baby . Oh my gosh! It was beyond cute. She even did the snuggle and smacking kiss thing with Baby when she got to the end of the story.

The best part about these pictures is the expression and body language exhibited by Baby...she's really into it. Click on each picture to enlarge and get a better view of Baby giving Molly her undivided attention!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Can Share

Molly is great at sharing, as long as she is on the receiving end. When it comes to the giving end--not so much. A friend recommended the book I Can Share by Karen Katz.
This is a cute little lift-the-flap book that explains sharing in very simple terms. For example, here is just one excerpt from the book:
  • My new doll! You can play with her...but MAYBE (lift the flap) you can play with my other doll.

We must have read this book about a thousand times (conservative estimate) while we were on vacation at the beach. Molly just loved it. We practiced sharing with her little sea creature toys:

  • I want to play with the octopus...but MAYBE you can play with the starfish.

We shared and shared and shared some more. Molly totally got the concept of sharing. I couldn't wait until we got home so that Molly could show off her new skill to her friends.

The first chance she got to share, I was beaming with pride. I just knew she was going to be successful. When a friend wanted to play with one of her toys, Molly opened her mouth and said:

  • MINE!!

She snatched the toy away and clutched it close to her body. Ugh! Molly may not have been good at sharing, but never before had said, "MINE," when it came to her possessions. Good Golly! I try to teach my kid to share and I manage to make her more selfish.

Have no fear, this story does have a happy ending of sorts. While she has not perfected the skill of sharing yet, she has shown signs of improving. I even caught one example with my camera.

Happily eating her snack....

I want the pretzels, but MAYBE you can have some Cheez-its!

Without a prompt (read: demand) from me, our little Miss Molly offered her friend Annie some of her crackers!

I Can Share came in a collection with two other books. Molly was particularly fond of Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners.

Here is an excerpt:
  • BURP! You burped! What do you say? (Lift the flap) Excuse Me!

Take a guess what Molly learned from this little gem of a book? Wrong! She actually learned to say "excuse me," "thank you," "no, thank you," please and "I'm sorry!" Will wonders never cease?

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

He's just a little early!!

Last Halloween, Tony innocently hauled all of the pumpkin slime from our jack-o-lanterns out to compost. We thought that was the end of it. Buh-bye pumpkin slime.
But..................up from the twisted branches, decaying grass clippings and rotting vegetables of the compost heap sprouted the Great Pumpkin!! Unfortunately it was the beginning of July.
Throughout the months of July and August we watched the plant grow. We often wondered what the heck it was. From the size of the plant and the shape of leaves we surmised that it was some kind of squash. We then watched as a single blossom gave way to a tiny pumpkin.The mystery was solved. Oh my, was Molly thrilled!

Every morning after our breakfast smoothies, we would don flip flops and trek back to the compost heap to check out the pumpkin. We watched in amazement (well, I wasn't really amazed, but Molly sure was) as that tiny green pumpkin grew bigger and bigger.

Then one day tragedy struck. The pumpkin plant formed a powdery, white mildew and began to wither away. This spelled doom for the pumpkin unless we took drastic action. Even though it was only August and our poor pumpkin had no little chance of making it until Halloween, we cut him free from the vine.

We set the Great Pumpkin on the back deck and Molly watched him slowly turn from green to orange. Another source of amazement for her. We played games with the pumpkin, danced around him, sat on him, and even kissed him. We just loved having him around.

As a last ditch effort to try to make his life stretch until October 31st, we finally moved His Greatness down to a dark, cool corner of the basement. We have our fingers crossed that he'll make it, but at this point it doesn't look good. I may have to sneak out to the market mid-October and find a suitable replacement. It's kind of like swapping out the goldfish floating at the top of the bowl with a new goldfish before your kid finds out. Cruel? Maybe. But I won't tell her if you don't!