Saturday, December 13, 2008

Firetruck Santa 2008

Every year the volunteer fire company in our little town drives around in their firetrucks & ambulances with lights flashing and sirens blaring, giving Santa a ride through the neighborhoods as he waves to the kids and his "elves" pass out candy canes.  This year we went to a friend's house and made a small donation to the fire company to have Firetruck Santa make a personal visit to the kids.

When we got to the friend's house, Anna and Cara kept looking up in the sky asking if we saw Santa yet.  After playing with their friends for awhile (there are 3 girls in the other family right around the same age), we heard the sirens.  All the kids piled by the front door to see the firetruck pull up with lights flashing, and Santa stepped out.  There was MUCH excitement!

 He passed out candy canes to all the girls (most of which got broken before we left), and each one took a turn on his lap.  Anna talked to Santa so quietly I couldn't really hear what she was saying.  Cara didn't really care to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas; instead, she introduced him to everyone in the room: "that's my sister; that's my daddy; that's my mommy; that's Lauren," etc.  I'm sure Santa was enthralled!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anecdote of the day

Today after playing at the park, we got some chicken Mcnuggets and fries from McDonald's.  As usual, I got some sweet & sour sauce to use just in case the girls didn't finish their nuggets.  We must have played hard enough to make the girls hungry, because they both ate all their nuggets, which is rare.

This time, though, Anna actually asked to have some of the sweet & sour sauce, which is a first, because she never tries anything new and has always just eaten her nuggets plain or with ketchup. She actually liked it, too, which surprised me.  I asked if she liked it and said that it's called sweet and sour sauce, and she said "Yeah!  It's apple sauce for your chicken!"  Ok, I guess it's the right color…

I know it's been awhile since I've written anything - life's been very busy, work's been busy and frustrating.  I plan to write some entries to catch up on what the girls have been up to the last couple of months.  Today I uploaded a bunch of new pictures to our photo gallery for the last couple months, so you can enjoy those in the meantime.  They're under Day-to-Day->2008 Summer, Day-to-Day->2008 Fall, and Vacations and Trips->2008 IndianaIllinois.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Montgomery County Fair 2008

Tonight we took the girls to the Montgomery County Fair.  We haven't been able to take them to any of the local carnivals this summer, so we wanted to be sure to take them.  Anna loved the ferris wheel last year and had been talking about it for awhile.  This time, Cara was able to ride with us.  She really liked the ferris wheel, too, and kept saying she wanted to do it again.  I can't remember without looking if Cara rode the merry-go-round last year or not, but this year she really enjoyed it, too.  She had to sit out and watch Anna go on the "jet skis" by herself, though, since she wasn't tall enough yet. The only drama we had was when we were leaving.  Nobody wanted to go home!

Montgomery County is the county south of us.  I always thought the name of OUR county's fair was a little grandiose: "The Great Frederick Fair."  I discovered that there must be a rivalry between counties regarding who has the best one, because down there, theirs is called "The Spectacular Montogmery County Fair."

More pics are in our photo gallery under Day-to-Day, 2008 Summer.  Here are a few videos of the girls having fun at the fair:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little shopper

There's a grocery store that Beth likes to use, when possible, because they have little miniature shopping carts for kids to push around.  I think it's a great idea.  Anna insists on having her cart, and only her cart, loaded up with the groceries.

And completely unrelated to that, the other night Anna found my noise-cancelling headphones and tried them on.  She was very pleased that they could make it so she couldn't hear the thunder, and said, "I love your ear muscles, daddy!"

The Money Store

A friend asked Beth the other day if we were going to sign Anna up for soccer.  Anna had said something about dancing before, so Beth asked her if she wanted to be a soccer player or if she wanted to dance.  Anna replied, "I want to be a dancing ballerina in my tutu!"  She loves this tutu - everything with the tutu these days.  Beth said that we'll have to ask daddy because dancing costs a lot of money.

Apparently Anna had been thinking about it the rest of the day, because that night at bedtime, she asked Beth again if she could dance, and was very distressed when Beth said, "We'll see, we have to ask daddy" again.  Anna then made the suggestion, "But daddy could just buy some money to have for the dancing!"  Hmm, that would be nice depending on their prices, but a money tree would be better.  Maybe it's time for a little lesson on money and an allowance…

Monday, July 14, 2008

Anna's new bling

We got a package from Lelo and Abuela Menendez today, for Anna's birthday.  She was very excited about the crown and the jewelry and couldn't wait to put it on.  When we asked if she wanted to draw a thank-you card, she said, "Yes, but I want the crown first!"  So she put on her crown, the necklace, the earrings, the jewelry… the only thing missing was the princess dress, but she didn't want to try it on, "because I'm already wearing my crab shirt."  She'll try it on later, she says.

The next big hit was the fishing game.  Anna, Cara, and I pretty much played it until it was time for bed.  We'll pull out the sticker books, the leapfrog pad (which I hope Anna likes so she can start learning to read!), etc., later on when they're not thinking of fishing.  The girls say, "Thank you!"


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 7

Church of the Annunciation
This is Part 7 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to the Church of the Annunciation, then to Beit Shean, Jericho, and finally arriving in Jerusalem with a stopover in Bethlehem.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 5 - Church of the Annunciation

We started out the day by visiting the Church of the Annunciation, which is the traditional site where the angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would give birth to Jesus.  I have to say that I was impressed with the churches that they built on many of the traditional sites.  I thought they were beautiful, and they were also great places for our group of 300 to sing in. Since this was where Jesus' name was announced, we sang Holy is His Name by John Michael Talbot - a very nice choral arrangement that sounded fantastic in this church.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Visit to the "real" aquarium

Today I took the day off, and we took the girls to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  We got a membership that pays for itself in 2 visits, but gives you year-round admission and lets you enter right away instead of getting a timed ticket.  We thought it'd be good since the girls loved SeaWorld, and each time we go to Walmart, they go crazy looking at the fish, calling it the "aquarium."

They really had a good time.  Anna was so excited about seeing seahorses, that's all she could talk about.  Then when we saw an alligator, she was so excited telling mommy about it that she made herself cough and couldn't finish.  Cara liked laying down on the ledges and watching the fish lying on the ground next to the glass.  While it was neat seeing dolphins, the show at SeaWorld is much more entertaining.

Anyway, I imagine we'll being going back a few more times during our membership year.  Anna was crying when we were walking back to the car - she didn't want to go home but wanted to stay at the aquarium, or at least walk around the Inner Harbor more.  It is a neat section of Baltimore, right on the harbor.  We'll be back.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Burned on the 4th of July

Tonight, Anna and I went to our old friends the Morris's annual 4th of July party. Beth and Cara couldn't go this time.  We love the Morris's and always look forward to their get-togethers.  This could have been the last one, though, since sadly they're planning to retire and move away to Ohio.  Life goes on.
Anyway, this year I bought a few tame fireworks to share at the party.  And the Morris's had some old hand-held sparklers lying around.  Anna really liked the little firework that I bought - just a tiny thing you set on the ground, and it shoots sparks and colors, relatively quietly, into the air for maybe 15-20 seconds.  After some "dinner" (2 bananas, but that's better than nothing) and some cake, she was ready to go see the fireworks.

We lit the sparklers first. Anna didn't want to hold one initially; just enjoyed watching.  But then she saw another 2 1/2 year old hold one, so she got the courage to hold one.  I helped her hold it, showing her to hold it away from her and watch it, and she really liked it.  When it burned out, I turned to get the disposal can, then I turned back around just in time to see her reach with her other hand to grab the portion of the sparkler that was burned out but still very hot, too late to stop her.

I feel really bad. I had talked her into holding one, she went out on a limb, and because I didn't think to warn her not to touch it anywhere else, in 2 short seconds she got burned.  Fortunately it was just a little blister on her finger, and holding a cold washcloth helped.  Surprisingly, she even agreed to help pass out sparklers to everybody - she just didn't want to hold another burning one.  I'm sad that her first sparkler experience ended like that, but maybe by next year she'll be willing to try again.

She did thoroughly enjoy the other fireworks I brought.  I also had two bigger ones that popped kind of loudly. John Morris held Anna as those went off.  The first one, she covered her ears and was half crying, half laughing.  Then for the 2nd one, she covered her ears, but was clearly laughing and enjoying it.  Then on the way home she excitedly pointed out fireworks in the sky - maybe next year she'll be ready to see some "real" ones at the park.

Am I really that old?

Do I look like this?
Tonight at the Morris's 4th of July party, I was chatting with Fran Morris, catching up. In the course of the conversation, she cautiously asked me, "So Dave, how is your health these days?"

"Huh," I thought, "this is a new one." It was such a general question, I was trying to comprehend what would have sparked it. Do I look sickly? I didn't think that was it. Do I look older than I should at 32?  No, I didn't think that was it, either.  Is there an unspoken age that I've now reached where people just know they better ask about your health?  If so, is 32 that magic age? Seems young to me.

"Uhhm," I replied, "my health?  It's uh, fine, really.  Nothing exciting - I don't even think I've been to the doctor since high school!"  That seemed to surprise her, so now I really wondered what was wrong with me.

Hoping she wasn't opening a can of worms, Fran cautiously told me why she asked. Apparently, Tony, the hispanic pastor of our old church, leads their Bible study.  Two years ago or so, he apparently got the impression from somewhere that I had multiple sclerosis, so I've been on their prayer list for two years!  I was certainly touched that they prayed for me, but it's pretty funny - except for the real person with MS who's been missing out on all the prayer.

Now I have to wonder who told Pastor Tony that I had MS. I'm willing to bet it's the same person that told us that the Morrises had already moved out of Ohio and made us miss their parties last year.  Whoever it is - they must be stopped.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Still growing...

In a previous post, I noticed a little sign of Anna growing up - she stopped putting two feet on each step as she climbed stairs.  She's now all but stopped having to have her kitty and blankets with her wherever she goes.  She does keep them in her bed, though, and sleeps with them every night, along with her pink snowman slippers.  Today in church she actually sang with her VBS class in front of everybody.  Before, she'd cling to her teacher, but this time she asked us to sit up front so we could see her, so we did.  And I think it helped her confidence, because once she saw us, she got a big smile on her face and sang out.  And she'd smile big throughout the other songs when she'd glance over and see us still there, watching.  She can also count to at least 5, maybe 10, thanks to her friend Dora the Explorer.  She knows some other Spanish words as well, though "perrito" comes out as "burrito."

Cara is now walking down the steps standing up, but still using two feet per step.  She is very, very independent, but still loves to copy whatever her sister does or says.  She likes to sit on the kitchen counter and watch Beth do whatever.  She is still a big mess at the table - yesterday we had spaghetti and that Texas Toast garlic bread with cheese.  She ate the spaghetti with her hands, and after licking the cheese on the garlic bread, she peeled it off bit by bit to eat just the cheese, then somehow ate a hole in the middle of the bread, and was trying to put the bread on her arm like a bracelet.

In other kind of sad growing up news, I may need to start limiting how much the girls, at least Anna, can jump on my belly.  The girls like to hold my hands while they leap up and pounce on my belly.  Anna's getting big enough now, though, that it's starting to hurt!

Both girls are very scared of thunder - Cara probably only because Anna screams whenever she thinks she hears a little thunder.  When a tiny roll of thunder came during naptime and Anna freaked out, I tried to calm her down by saying it was just the sky burping a little, and she just needs to say, "Excuse you, sky!"  That seemed to work, a little, we'll see.  But now whenever she gets scared by thunder, she says, "I'm scared of the burping!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Slipper emergency

Last night at 3:15 a.m., Anna came and woke me up.  "Daddy, I lost a slipper!  I need to find it!"  So I got up to help her find her single lost slipper in her dark room.  Once we found it, all was ok. She put it on (she was wearing the other one already) and went back to sleep. Titi Edna, these are (still) the pink snowman slippers that you gave to Anna in Orlando last fall.  She loves those slippers and still wears them to bed (i.e., sleeps with them on) every single night.  They're getting a little worn from so much use. Titi Toni, you asked what Anna would like for her birthday - I think she would love another pair of silky, shiny, fluffy slippers.  I could be wrong, and she might insist on the pink snowman slippers till they literally fall apart!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lucky to still be alive

My mom recently sent me this picture of her first time "rapelling," if you can call it that.  I had to laugh, because it reminded me of my first time rapelling at summer camp.  I hate what I call "low heights," meaning I'm just fine riding on or piloting an aircraft, but if I'm standing on a cliff where one misstep will obviously cause a painful fall, I freeze up.

Anyway, I was absolutely terrified, but they made all of us do it.  I was frozen up, maybe a quarter way down this 100 foot cliff, when my whole harness thing started to slip off.  I started yelling, "Oh crap! Get me down! Get me down NOW!!!"  Everyone started laughing, but I didn't see the humor in being 75 feet in the air with my safety equipment tenuously wrapped around my ankles instead of my groin, where it was supposed to be.  I guess I got my skills from mom.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Driveway carnage

Anna just has bad luck when it comes to the driveway.  When we pulled into our villa in Orlando last fall for our family reunion, she was quite horrified when she saw this dead lizard right outside her van door.
Today, when they were getting into the van, Anna discovered yet another life claimed by the driveway, again right next to her door.  This time, it was the decapitated carcass of a bird.  Not only was it headless, but it also looked like something ripped its chest open and took the insides, in the style of Temple of Doom or The Thing.

Probably the only thing I could do to make it more scary for her would be to tell her that a thunderstorm did that to the bird, but Beth didn't think that would be a good idea.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scary clothing

Beth: I need to go put on my capri pants.

Anna: Why do you need to put on your creepy pants?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Anna's 4th birthday

Yesterday (the 6th) we had a party for Anna's 4th birthday.  She was very confused because on the 5th (her actual birthday), we wished her a happy birthday, and she thought she was having a party that day.  After work I had done a big run to the grocery store for Beth to get both general groceries and things for the party.  When I brought the stuff home, I had to run back out to get more things for the party so everything would be ready (a new propane tank, for one).  So I wasn't actually home much on her actual birthday. Poor Anna - I don't know what she thought was happening, but she said, "This is the best birthday party EVER!" to Beth, when there was no actual party, no presents yet, and daddy wasn't even home.  I think she was confused when she went to bed.

Yesterday made up for it, at least, when she had her actual party, which she'd been looking forward to for months.  It was really a simple cookout with several friends from Beth's MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and friends from Anna's preschool.  The guys, of course, met for the first time.  But we had balloons, cupcakes, and a bunch of toys in the backyard to play with. I have to count in my head how many girls were there… I don't even know, maybe around 15 little girls?  Counting the boys is easy - there was only one!  Anna's friend Alex, who's deathly afraid of our black-and-white cats and asked me repeatedly to "put them away," even though we were outside and the cats were nowhere to be seen.  I forget what the game was, but at one point all the girls were chasing Alex around the yard.

Anna was too excited to eat her hot dog & baked beans, so she told us that she "didn't like it" and "wanted to play."  We let her, since it was her birthday after all.  She didn't have a problem eating 2 or 3 cupcakes later, though.  All the kids had a really fun time playing in the sprinkler when we turned it on.  At first Anna didn't want to get wet, so she stood far back and held her hands out to feel the water droplets.  But one of the other dads somehow convinced her it was fun, then picked her up and held her over the sprinkler and got her all wet - after which Anna repeatedly went back to him to do it again and again.  After the sprinkler, there were bubbles for everyone to play with.

Below is a short collage of some pictures and video clips from Anna's party (or click here for a high-quality version, ~25MB). All the pictures and raw video clips will be in the photo gallery, under Day-to-Day, 2008 Summer, Annas 4th Birthday.

It was a fun time, and all the kids had a ball, I think.  It was a little warm, but our backyard is shaded in the evening, so it wasn't too bad. It was good we had it yesterday because we have an excessive heat watch for the rest of the weekend, with heat indeces near 110 degrees.  The only casualty was after everyone left, when Cara let one of Anna's 11 balloons float off into the sky.  When Anna saw it, she screamed in horror then cried for her one lost balloon.  It didn't matter there were 10 others.

Happy Birthday, Anna!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Too far between

Last night I was going to put together a short video collage of the clips we took of the girls (1 and 3, at the time) "dancing" their little hearts out at our family reunion in Orlando last fall.  I did that, but as I was watching the clips and looking through all our pictures from that week, I began to really miss the fun time we had, all together, which are very few and far between, playing games, dancing, singing, relaxing, laughing, Titi Edna cheating at blitz…  I started to get that really sad feeling I had for the first hour when we drove away, heading for home. I don't know when (or even if) we'll get to see Abuela again. So this video contains the dancing clips I originally set out to put together, but I also followed it with a short slideshow of our time together.  I hope we see each other again soon.

You can view the video below, or click here to download a high quality version (~75MB) to play back locally on your machine (right-click the link in your browser to save the movie file locally).

The first couple of dancing clips are a bit dark, and the video clips were taken on our old digital still camera, so they’re a little choppy - sorry about that.  The slideshow begins around 3:30 into the video if you want to skip the dancing videos.  If you want to re-read all about our reunion, you can find my entries under October 2007 and November 2007 in the "Blog Archive" sidebar section.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

These boots were made for... everything

Beth & the girls went to a shoe store yesterday. One of my friends in the choir manages the store, and he was kind enough to give them full service and a nice discount.  While the girls got a few pairs of new shoes, their favorite item by far was their new rainboots.  They wanted to wear them out of the store and in the car back home.  This morning they insisted on wearing their rainboots with their outfit for the day.  They love those boots - now we just need it to rain so they can go splash in puddles.

This evening we played a little bit on the porch with sidewalk chalk and bubbles (in our boots, of course).  Anna wanted a chalk outline of her whole body.  After I outlined her and Cara a couple times, I took a rest, and the girls continued outlining each other.

New games

Cara hand-feeds a hungry, hungry hippo
We got out some games recently that Beth got at yard sales.  One was Connect Four.  The girls just like to fill the thing up with all the pieces, then move the switch to dump them out, then repeat. And repeat.

We also got out Hungry Hungry Hippos.  That was a big hit.  Cara likes to hand-feed the hippos.  Anna likes to talk to the hippos, sometimes giving them their "food" by hand, but mostly dumping all the marbles into the middle and making one chomp and chomp furiously.

Cara still likes to eat all her food with her fingers, whether it be spaghetti, corn, yogurt, or ice cream.  Anna still loves to wear her pink snowman slippers to bed (the one Titi Edna and Abuela gave her in Orlando), regardless of which set of PJs she's wearing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Israel Tour 2008 - Part 6

Dad on the Sea of Galilee shore
This is Part 6 of my account of our tour to Israel with The National Christian Choir.  This entry begins with our visit to various sites around the Sea of Galilee, including the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha (feeding of the 5,000), Capernaum, and the Jordan River.  To start at the beginning, click here.  All my Israel pictures and videos are in the photo gallery under Vacations and Trips, then 2008 Israel.

Day 4 - Sea of Galilee

We started the day bright and early, as usual.  After breakfast at the hotel in Nazareth, we piled into our six coach buses and headed for the Sea of Galilee.  The trips really were not that long wherever we traveled in the country - it's just not that big.  Probably the longest we sat on the bus was an hour, and that's when we traveled from the northern part of the country to the southern part, by the Dead Sea.  But they obviously didn't have the luxury of vehicles 2,000 years ago, and I have a new understanding of how difficult the various journeys described in the Bible must have been.  The scenery was very pretty - tall hills, deep valleys, covered with green grass and lots of rocks.  Pretty to drive by, but I bet a pain to walk over to get from here to there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Career choices - 1st edition

Yesterday Beth asked Anna what she wanted to be when she grew up.  In what I'm sure is only the first of many interesting career choices we'll hear from the girls, Anna replied, "I want to be a jello maker!"

Staying put

Well, after much discussion, thought, and prayer, we made the decision to pull our house off the market for now, so we'll be staying put in the DC area for awhile longer.  We probably should have tried a year ago at the latest before the market turned so sour for sellers.  The market is completely saturated with so many homes in foreclosure and with people in trouble needing to sell their house… combined with a much smaller set of viable buyers due to the credit crunch, prices keep dropping and dropping, lower than we were willing to go, and we were also not willing to dump any more money into the house to try to make it stand out any more in the sea of homes on the market. All the advice is that if you don't have to sell now, don't.

So we'll sit and be patient.  Who knows how long it will be.  We're disappointed that we can't move closer to Beth's family now, but we're ok with it.  We're thankfully not in a position where we have to sell, I have a good job, the girls are happy, and even though I wouldn't have plopped down the money if we weren't trying to sell, at least we now get to enjoy the new silestone countertop, sink, faucet, and laminate flooring in the kitchen.  It does make the kitchen much more pleasant - I hated, hated the old baby blue counter and old, stained vinyl that we put up with for over two years.

Plus, I'll get to remain with The National Christian Choir for awhile longer - next year is the 25th anniversary season, so there will be some exciting things we're doing.  Our recording this year is a new Christmas album.  In July, we're giving a concert at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA, to open the 300th annual Church of the Brethren conference (7,000 people). And we're ending the season on May 5, 2009, with a special 25th Anniversary Concert at the Strathmore Music Hall, accompanied by full orchestra. The concert will consist of the top 15 or so songs that current singers, alumni, and partners have voted as their favorites from a list of all songs the choir has ever sung, and we saw the winners last rehearsal (among the highlights for me will be The Mind of Christ, No More Night, The Majesty and Glory of Your Name, Psalm 95, Creation Hymn, You Are My Hiding Place, Midnight Cry, and Hallelujah Chorus). It will be a very moving concert, and it will also be recorded live and released as next year's recording.  Hope to see you there!

Megiddo videos

In Part 5 of my entries about the Israel trip, I talked about Megiddo.  I forgot, however, to include links to a few brief videos dad took there.  I've updated that entry, but here they are, too, in case you've been following along: