Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hide (over there) and Seek

Anna has started wanting to play hide and seek from time to time. It came out of the blue (for me, at least), so I'm not sure if Beth started playing it with her, or if she learned it in preschool. Her version of the game is pretty easy.  Last night, she asked to play and wanted me to count first.  So I closed my eyes, counted to ten, and said, "Ready or not, here I come!"  When I opened my eyes, I turned my head and saw her laying on the couch with her eyes closed.

I took a turn hiding, and on her next turn hiding, she "hid" on the couch again, only this time mommy sat in front of her to at least partially hide her.  When I came in the room and said, "Hmm, where is Anna," Anna yelled out, "I'm right here behind mommy!"  Then she said it was my turn to hide, and she also told me to hide on the blue couch. I guess not knowing where I'm hiding made the game too hard for her.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

You make a good argument

Anna has been in her "no" phase for awhile now (sometimes the 3's seem harder than the 2's), but has also started explaining why she's doing something that we tell her to stop ("but I'm just…"). She's also started trying to make her case when she really wants something.

For example, Anna recently received one of those plastic candy canes that are filled with candy.  After preschool and before dinner, she wanted some, then made a very convincing argument after being denied:

Anna: "But mommy, i'm really hungry for these!"
Mommy: "Maybe after dinner."
Anna: "But mommy, they're for my mouth!"

Firetruck Santa

In our neighborhood, Santa doesn't travel on a sleigh.  He rides on top of a firetruck decked out with Christmas lights, escorted by an ambulance and two other fire trucks, all with lights flashing and sirens blaring when they're on the move. He drives through our neighborhood waving, and when they stop, elves emerge from all the vehicles bearing candy canes for all the waiting kids. For a nominal fee, Santa will even make a special visit into your house.

Last year when Santa drove through, mommy was gone, and daddy took the girls out to see the trucks and wave to Santa. They both liked the lights, the candy canes, and Santa.  This year, mommy took Cara outside by herself to see Firetruck Santa, because for some reason, Anna was terrified of the sirens, especially when they got closer. She would cover her ears and start screaming and crying if the door was open and the sirens were on, and she wanted no part of going outside.  So while mommy and Cara were outside, I went to our upstairs bedroom so we could look at the firetrucks and Santa from our big window.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fattening waterway

Me: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…

Anna: Marely, marely, marely, marely, like a butter dream!

Also, Cara has picked up on Anna's love for "Ring Around the Rosie," only when she's walking in circles, she falls down whenever she pleases, making Anna remind her that she is not supposed to fall until we sing "ashes, ashes." Sometimes Cara will then skip right to the "aaaatches, aaaatches" part when the song starts, just so she can fall down sooner.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Winter Lights" at the state park

The night after we put our outside Christmas lights up, we drove down to Seneca Creek State Park to see their annual "Winter Lights" display.  It's about 3.5 miles of all sorts of Christmas lights of animals, candy canes, penguins, bears, toys, and more. Many displays are animated. We hadn't been there before, but it was really neat.  It reminded me of the time or two Titi Toni, I think, took me to see a particular neighborhood in Florida that put on a large Christmas light display.

The girls, of course, loved it.  In fact, we were only halfway through the park when Anna started crying behind me. We asked what was wrong, and she said, "I don't want to go home!"  We assured her there were still lots more lights to see before we had to go home, and then we promised we would come back to see them again another night.

We got some pictures of many, but certainly not all, of the displays. They're in the photo gallery under Day-to-Day, 2007 Fall, Winter Lights.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Movie trailer magic

I was watching some of my cousin Christopher's videos on YouTube, and there were a couple links to a some "recut" movie trailers that I found pretty funny.  They reminded me of the time Beth & I went on a date to see The Story of Us, which from the trailer looked like a romantic comedy but turned out to be mostly fighting and yelling and divorce and then more fighting.

A movie trailer can make a movie look like anything but what it really is. Beth can't even be within earshot of the music in a horror movie and not have nightmares, but based on these movie trailers, I would say she'd want to go see The Shining (a horror movie) rather than Mary Poppins (a children's movie).

By the way, I am really curious to see what Christopher decides to do when he's all grown up. I think he has a lot of potential to work in film, and he's also a very talented musician. He's almost done with high school, which is crazy to me. Maybe to get Beth to watch my scary movies, I should get him to recut all the trailers as romantic comedies…

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmas lights

Today we put up our outside Christmas lights.  It was a chilly 40-something degrees and very blustery.  But the girls still came out with me to play while I worked on the lights.  They played with a ball, ran on the porch and in the yard, and they also drew on the porch with (according to Anna) "sidewalk chalkolate." Cara didn't last as long as Anna did outside - it was too cold.

There's something about Christmas lights that just makes you feel good.  Mom just emailed me, in fact, reminiscing about our Thanksgiving tradition of our big dinner, followed by decorating our Christmas tree. That was always a fun time, and we'd pull out the little ornaments we made when we were very little, or little ornaments with our handprints, and put them on the tree. Then we'd all lie beneath the tree and watch the lights blink. It was so disappointing when I learned that our tree wasn't as big as I remembered it being when I was little.

But anyway, Anna loves the lights. They're all net lights, which don't look great in the day if you're really looking, but they look really nice at light.  Our lights consist of three bushes at the left, center, and right of the house draped in blue lights, trimmed on the ground by white lights. After it got dark, we took them outside and put the girls in front of the bushes, then I flipped the switch, to two little gasps of amazement. Anna wanted to just look at and run around the lights until she got too cold again.  She's already looking forward to putting up the Christmas tree so she can play underneath it.  Maybe we'll do that tomorrow.  Hopefully we'll survive the season with Cara's curious fingers and a tree full of fun things to touch!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


During the week that we were in Florida, it pretty much rained or was threatening to rain most of the week.  The best chance of having a dry day was the Thursday & Friday before we left, so on Thursday we took the girls to SeaWorld.  I remember visiting SeaWorld when I was very little and really enjoying it.  We were pretty sure the girls would enjoy it, since they both love animals (seeing the fish tank at Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney the day before was their favorite thing), and there would be a lot of animals there that they hadn't necessarily seen before.  It really was a big hit!

As we were making our way into the park on the first day, we saw a bunch of pink flamingos, then some big sea turtles and other birds that like to stick close to water.  No, I have no idea what kind of birds they are.  But apparently there are some native Florida birds (i.e., not owned by SeaWorld) that hang around and try to snatch any fish you try to feed the animals.  One even tore into a bag of trail mix that was in our stroller while we were in a show - we discovered the evidence afterwards.

Stringray Lagoon

After the flamingos and turtles, we visited the stingrays.  It's a giant, shallow pool full of stingrays. There were some huge ones in there.  You can pet the stingrays as they swim by - they feel like wet mushrooms. Anna said she wanted to pet one, but then changed her mind when she had a chance. Beth chose not to pet them, either. You can buy trays of little fish to feed the stingrays, so I got a tray.  You're supposed to hold the fish in the water so the rays swim over your hand and suck the fish out.  So I did that while Anna watched.  Then she actually tried to feed them, too - she dropped the fish into the water, basically, but I was impressed that she even touched and picked up the fish.

Dolphin Cove

From there, we went to the dolphin cove.  In hindsight, we should have gotten in line to feed the dolphins on Thursday, but we didn't, and the line was way too long on Friday when we went back (you get a 2nd visit free with your tickets). That would have given us a better chance to get to pet the dolphins, too.  But we just stood by the edge and watched the dolphins swim by, play, and jump. Anna got startled a couple times when all of a sudden a dolphin would come out of the water right in front of us unexpectedly, but she still liked watching them and trying to pet them.

Pets Ahoy!

SeaWorld's shows are actually pretty good. I remember loving them as a kid, but I still enjoyed them going back this time. The first show we went to was one where cats, dogs, ducks, other birds, and a pig are doing all kinds of scripted things on a stage.  I know I do it no justice with that description, but it was very cute and very well produced.  For example, one of the props is a hot dog cart, and a dog runs up and cranks the handle, causing a door to open, and 5 or 6 weiner dogs run out.  It was definitely the girls' favorite show - they had big smiles on their faces and clapped all through the show. Of course, I couldn't get a good picture in there.

Penguin Encounter

From the pets show, we went to the penguin encounter.  It's basically a large, enclosed area that is really, really cold inside, with a big glass front where you can see penguins both on "land" and rocks and underwater.  There's a slow-moving walkway that you stand on while you observe.  There were lots of penguins standing, jumping in the water, zooming through the water, looking at you through the glass…

This was Anna's absolute favorite exhibit.  She wanted to go back to see the penguins again and again.  Since she loved it so much, we got her a stuffed penguin, and her famed kitty and blankets were rejected when we got back to the car.  She even slept with penguin instead of kitty that night.  We wondered if maybe the penguin would be the "new" kitty - and for a day or two, it was, but as much as she loves penguin, she eventually remembered kitty, and now holds both of them all the time.

Pacific Point Preserve

We then went to the area that held the seals and sea lions.  This is another exhibit where you can buy trays of fish to toss to the animals, which are in a very large pool with rocky cliffs to climb on, on the other side of a glass fence.  I got some fish, and the sea lions definitely knew when someone had food, because they would all swim as close as they could and even prop themselves up on the barrier and ask for it.  Anna wanted to try feeding the sea lions, but these fish were much bigger than the ones for the stingrays (that is, much slimier, too), so Anna quickly changed her mind, but enjoyed watching.

Shark Encounter

We then went to the shark encounter - a very cool exhibit where you literally walk through the tank of fish & sharks, looking up and around through very thick plastic.  There is semi-creepy music playing, as if something's going to get you. When you first walk in, you're looking at a variety of fish, amongst some rock formations with many holes for moray eels to hide.  Here, Anna told me that she was scared of the holes. Who knows what lurked inside - maybe the giant dead lizard from our villa!  I told her not to look at the holes.

Next in the exhibit was a tank holding a lot of scorpion fish, other tropical fish, and an unusual-looking stingray that had purple spots all over it. Across from that was a tank full of pretty large barracuda.  Anna and Cara referred to them as the "cookie monster fish."  Anna really liked watching the barracuda for some reason. Then we saw a tank full of sea dragons, which I found pretty amazing.  They're just like sea horses, only they have lots of appendages sticking out of them that look like leaves - and it really hides them. You have to look kind of hard to see all of them among the real plants.

Next was the main attraction, the moving walkway through the shark tank. Very cool!  As you approach the tunnel, you walk past several sets of shark jaws.  Anna wanted me to walk as far away from the jaws as I could. In the tunnel, both Anna and Cara stared and pointed at all the sharks.  For some reason, Anna kept saying to me, "It's not scary! It's not scary, daddy!"  I would point out a shark to her - "look, there's one!" and she'd respond, "Yeah! And it's not scary!"  I don't know if she was reassuring herself that it wasn't scary, or if she was so relieved to be away from the holes that she really didn't find it scary!

Horses, whales, and walruses

SeaWorld is owned by Anheuser-Busch, so they had a stable with several of their clydesdale horses.  They really are pretty large horses.  After seeing the clydesdales, we went to the Wild Arctic exhibit, where we saw beluga whales, a polar bear, and a 2 walruses.  We got a better look at the walruses swimming underwater on the lower level - they were HUGE.  The picture we got doesn't really give you a feel for how big they were.

Whale & Dolphin Show

We then went to see another show involving lots of dolphins, false killer whales, some acrobats, high divers, and birds.  This was a very good show - Beth & I's favorite.  It of course had the dolphins and whales jumping and flipping, and it was cool seeing two dolphins push a trainer along the surface of the pool by his feet.  But the coolest move was when a trainer was being pushed by his feet underwater by two dolphins, while simultaneously twirling him around and around as they pushed him.


Manatee Rescue

After a quick meal and Shamu cookie which turns parts of Anna's face black, we went to the manatee exhibit.  Very fat animals that don't do much but swim slowly through the water and maybe sleep at the bottom of their lake for 20 minutes at a time before they get a breath.  This turned out to be Cara's favorite exhibit.  Both girls referred to the animals as "Barbara Manatee," because there's a Veggie Tales silly song where Larry the Cucumber is watching a soap opera about a Barbara Manatee.  We got Cara a stuffed manatee, which she loves to carry around, calling it "Matee!"


The last thing we did at SeaWorld the first day was see the killer whale show.  It was 5:30 by this time, and Cara finally gave up and fell asleep on mommy.  The show didn't go as smoothly or as quickly as usual, because apparently the killer whales that were performing decided they were done halfway through the show, and the trainers eventually had to get them to go back to their holding area and get some different killer whales to finish the show.  The whales really threw the trainers high into the air in this show.

The weather cooperated with us perfectly that day - it only rained (and rained hard) twice, and both times it did, we were sitting in the stadiums watching a show, so we never got wet.

Back for more

Since your 2nd visit is free and Friday was a sunny, we went back the next day.  Anna squealed "Yeaaaaaaah!!!" when we asked if she wanted to see the dog & cat show again.  She, of course, wanted to see the penguins again, and again.  And although she wanted to see the sharks again, she did tell me before we even got there that she didn't want to see the holes.

We saw the sea otter show, the dog & cat show, and wanted to catch the whale & dolphin show again.  I got a little video of the whale & dolphin show - the girls still really enjoyed it, but were clearly much more tired than the previous day, so Anna, while she's clapping, isn't smiling like she was the first day. I should have taken the video when she had her big smile on. Oh well.

As we were leaving the park, I got a little bag of gummy bears and gummy gators, which you can see below was very popular with the girls. Cara again couldn't stay awake in the car on the way to Titi Toni's and took a power nap with her manatee.

I think the girls had big fun at SeaWorld, and even though we didn't make it to Disney's Magic Kingdom this time, I think it may have worked out better.  We don't think the girls would have like standing an hour in lines for a ride - especially the 2nd day.  Anna may have done OK with the TVs and cartoons I hear they have playing as you wait, but Cara definitely wouldn't have been able to stay still that long several times in the day.  We'll come back when they're bigger - it wasn't our last trip to Orlando!

All our SeaWorld pictures and videos are in our photo gallery, under Vacations and Trips, 2007 Family Reunion, Seaworld.

Poor Cara

Today, Beth switched preschool carpooling times with another mom. So instead of Beth dropping off Anna and another girl at preschool then the other mom picking them up, today the other mom came to pick Anna up from our house.  Beth told me that when Anna was saying "Bye, mom!" and heading out the door to school, Cara started crying and begging for Anna to come back.  I guess she loves her big sister.

And also, at the dinner table today, Anna said that when we were done we could go to Titi Toni's house. I reminded her about how long the car ride was and how Titi Toni is far away, but Anna seemed like she didn't mind the car ride as long as we could see Titi Toni! Maybe she also misses the warm weather - the low tonight here in Maryland is 29.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Te Llegó La Parranda

I thought at least one of my aunts would appreciate this. Beth was out running errands this morning, and I started playing some Spanish Christmas music.  When the first song came on, Cara started dancing on the couch, and Anna started wiggling her behind, then started running around the coffee table. Then, while Anna was running and wiggling to the music, she yelled, "Just like Titi Edna!!"  She was also carrying many of her Disney buddies, and saying "Come on, guys!"

Not only that, but when a couple more songs went by, Anna said, "Umm.. how about…. Edna song?"  It took a try or two to figure out which song it was, but it turned out to be Te Llegó La Parranda - the official Titi Edna song!

Video of Anna and Cara "Dancing" to the Titi Edna song after coming home from the reunion.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back from Orlando

We're back from our family reunion to Orlando, after another 14-hour drive, which we did over two days (I'll post a separate entry about our visit to SeaWorld).  The girls did really great in the car - of course, having the DVD players helps a ton. Anna loved the Angelina Ballerina mouse video that Titi Toni gave her - if it was up to her, she would have watched it over and over the entire trip, but we had to interject and give Cara a turn to watch Bob & Larry (Veggie Tales) or Curious George. Beth would probably have liked the trip better if Cara hadn't repeatedly thrown her blanket or manatee on the floor where no one could reach, then cry for it until someone (i.e., the non-driving adult) bent all over the place trying to get to it.

Neither girl slept in the car on the way down, even when we kept the DVD players off to try to lull them to sleep (which only resulted in an hour of Anna whining about wanting to watch Curious George in space and Cara yelling).  On the way back, though, each one fell asleep, right after being really cranky. They were tired.

It was really hard to leave - that's the worst part about vacation in general, but I think it's even harder when you're spending time with loved ones that you don't get to see often. It had been about three years, I think, since my side of the family got together in Orlando. Just like that time, I really didn't want to leave and was pretty sad for the first part of our trip. I hope we'll be able to get together again before another three years pass by.

For the record, Titi Edna's blitz wins (including her alleged, unbelievably high score of 36) were disqualified when Christopher discovered she had been playing with a non-standard deck of cards. This left me, again, as the blitz champion for the week. Winning the lowest score was Nicky, playing under the influence of NyQuil, with a final score of 1, with Abuela close behind wielding a score of either 4 or 5.  I hope we find that score sheet at our next reunion.

Thank you, Titi Toni, Uncle Curt, and family, for opening up your home to let us all eat and play together. What a fantastic location and beautiful backyard on the lake!  Thank you, Abuela, Titi Edna, and dad for making the trip out there to spend time with us. We love you and hope to see you all again soon!

Dave, Beth, Anna (the big one), and Cara (the little one/the other one)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More fun with family

It's been a few days since the last update - I'll see what I can remember.  Beth got to go shopping with my aunts and grandma while Anna and Cara stayed with me, Lelo, and Uncle Curt.  She had a really fun time. The guys pretty much played with the girls and watched videos with them that day.  Lelo fell asleep on the couch, and Uncle Curt & I failed to get Anna and Cara to take naps.  And I guess we forgot to change Cara's diaper all day.  Oops. The next day I got to come back and play some ping pong and pool with my dad, aunts & uncle while the girls took naps at the villa. I beat my uncle & dad at ping pong, lost at pool, and we had a pretty good matchup at 4-player ping pong with me and Titi Toni against dad and Titi Edna.

We had a lot of fun with everyone including Christopher and Nicky playing the game Apples to Apples, with ice cream, Nilla wafers, chips, etc.  Plus a couple more games of blitz - which Titi Edna would like to point out she won. Last night we took several 4-generation pictures that included Anna & Cara, me & Beth, dad, and Abuela (the girls' great grandmother).  Beth had lots of fun helping Christopher with his algebra - I'm sure a lot more fun than he had. They were working at it pretty much all evening, but I think she helped him understand some things that were giving him trouble.  He hopes music majors don't have to take many math classes! I think Beth really enjoyed the part of teaching where she got to help the kids learn, but the hours and pay and politics were terrible enough that she won't be going back to that profession.

Anyway, Lelo left this morning to go home - I'm really glad he was able to see the girls and meet Cara.  Beth was glad that everyone got to see how hard it is to feed Anna firsthand, so that it sort of "proved" that it's not just us being lazy about it.  Dad recommended a few things to supplement what Anna does eat. She misses him already - I forget what she asked today, but it was something about seeing Lelo, and we had to tell her that he had to go home, which made her a little sad.

Abuela got cabin fever and had enough sitting around the house, and Titi Edna had some things she wanted to get accomplished, so while they were off doing their thing, we went to Downtown Disney and walked around the stores and marina.  We stopped at a toy store and go a box full of Mr. Potato Head parts, and we also stopped to look around the Legoland Imagination Center.  There were some pretty cool things made out of legos there, including a lego dragon coming out of the lake, a shark, crab, dinosaur, dogs, people… but the thing the girls liked best was the little clubhouse and slide in the back of the store.  Cara thew a huge fit when we had to leave it because it started raining.

Tonight Abuela and the Hortons were having dinner and visiting with some good friends that came back from a 3-month trip to Canada and were going to see fireworks tonight.  We just stayed at our villa and swam in the pool to get the girls to bed on time since we're going to Sea World tomorrow and we got them to bed really late last night (close to 11).  We think they will really like it - one of their favorite things about Downtown Disney (besides the lego slide)was watching the fish swim in the tanks at the Rainforest Cafe.  They'll get to see lots more fish, plus pet/feed dolphins, see whales, sharks, penguins, manatees…

Titi Toni/Edna, and Abuela are going to Epcot on Friday instead of tomorrow while we're at Sea World because their friends got them an unbeatable deal to get in, but it had to be Friday.  So it looks like with everyone's schedules, between Wednesday morning and when we leave on Saturday, we'll only get to see everyone for a little bit tomorrow evening, and possibly Friday evening.  I would have enjoyed getting to spend more time visiting and playing games with my aunts, but I'm thankful for the time we did have. And I hope the girls really enjoy Sea World tomorrow.

Oh, I forgot to mention how much the girls wanted to swim today. Ever since Cara woke up from her nap today, about the only thing she would say to me was "bool," asking to go to the pool, even at Titi Toni's house while I was picking up our things. Anna squealed "Yes!" when I asked if she wanted to swim.  But the funniest part was when we went outside, I saw a frog in the pool area, tried to catch it (I eventually caught at the side of the pool), and had it in my hands.  I kept calling the girls - "Anna! Cara! Look - I have a frog in my hands - come see the frog!" They ran right by me, with not so much as a glance in my general direction, to get into the pool. Who cares about a frog, daddy - it's time to swim!  We swam until Anna said she was too cold, then I kept swimming with Cara until I figured it was late enough to stop - Cara would have gone all night long!

By the way, Anna loves the snowman PJs that Titi Edna and Abuela brought from PR. Especially the slippers.  And she also loves her fingernails that Titi Edna painted, and her toenails that Christine painted. And she was wiggling her behind this evening to the Spanish music we had playing in the villa, while sitting on the potty.