Friday, August 31, 2007

Tuesday is coming too fast...

I swear I must have the emotions of a woman sometimes.  I'm sure I get it from my mom - she once started crying when a preview for a "Black Beauty" movie came on TV.  And at our wedding, Beth was the one that was just fine, and I was the one who was trying to hold it together and not cry.  How backwards is that?! Anyway, last night Beth & I went to the parent orientation for Anna's preschool.  We got to meet her teacher, look at the classroom, see her name on the bulletin boards with all the other kids' names, hear about all the fun things they plan to do…

To my dismay, I found myself starting to choke up a little when the director was telling us that they'll be just fine, but maybe we want to stick in their backpack their favorite toy (kitty & blankets for Anna) or a picture of you and their siblings in case they get scared, a change of clothes in case they have an accident while playing too hard, and bring a picture to put above the hook where they will hang their jacket & backpack…

I don't remember much of anything about preschool other than it was in a church next to the public library, and that I was really scared when mom would leave me there.  Why was I choking up now?  Because I don't want Anna to be scared?  It's really ridiculous - I'm going to be working all day anyway - her preschool is from noon to 3, so I'm not even taking her there, or picking her up… I'm still working, so nothing really changes in my day, and it's preschool, for pete's sake - it's not even kindergarten yet!  So what in the world makes me sad about it?

My best guess is that it's because this is my baby girl's very first tiny step out into the real world, the first of many more to come.  I'm excited for her and know she'll love it, but at the same time I don't want her to take any more steps. Hard as I might try, I can't freeze her in time and keep her as my baby girl forever. She starts preschool Tuesday.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Shredder

A few months ago, I was in my office, and Anna was with me playing with some toys on the floor.  I knew she was a little nervous about the shredder, but I didn't realize how nervous, because she never made too big a deal of it except to make a little sound (imitating Cara).  And she would use this same sound when "lions" would appear on her Veggie Tales DVDs or CDs, knowing that we would just say "It's ok, you don't need to be scared of the lions."  So it almost seemed routine.

This particular day, though, I went to shred one piece of paper, and it must have really caught her off guard.  She jumped up, made that same sound, only much more urgent, and ran out of the room terrified, calling for mommy and saying she was scared.  I jumped out of my chair to try to catch her, but it was too late.  She had already reached the stairs and was trying to run down them to get away. She fell down, and I got there just in time to see her tumbling down the staircase.  I felt horrible and wouldn't have been able to forgive myself if she had been seriously hurt. Thankfully, she escaped with just some bruises, which made me feel really bad every time I saw them, until they were gone.  Needless to say, I no longer use the shredder when either girl is around.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Anna came up to me with a soccer ball foam sticker on one eye and said, "Look Daddy, I'm a pirate!"  Very frightening.

Ready for preschool

Anna is very excited about starting preschool next week.  She keeps asking to wear her "pack pack" while she plays around the house.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sesame Place - Day 2

On day 2 of our trip to Sesame Place, we went to the park early to dine with Cookie Monster & friends. Yes, it was expensive, and yes, the food wasn't fantastic. But it was for the girls, and they loved it. You eat in a pavilion, and for the entire hour you're there, all the Sesame Street characters are walking around, and will sit down and interact with your kids. We got a picture with Cookie Monster as we went in, and as we had breakfast, Bert, Ernie, the Count, and Cookie Monster stopped by the table. Ernie even fed Cara a bite after Cara tried to "honk" his nose. I tried to tell Anna that Ernie wanted her to eat her breakfast, and Ernie tried, too, but even Ernie couldn't defeat Anna's pickiness. Big Bird was there, too, but you had to go see him yourself - I guess his costume was too big to walk around to all the tables. When we were leaving the pavilion, Anna told me she "really liked seeing her Sesame Street friends."

We spent the second day doing the water things. The water was freezing cold, but the girls didn't seem to mind. It wasn't so bad once you were numb. There were little wading pools for the small kids and a little wave pool. We spent some time walking through the pools, then I took Anna on a water slide in a two-person tube.

It's just semantics

From there we did the lazy river, where afterwards I was told that when Anna says she needs to poop, that means she's already pooped, so I had floated around the whole lazy river with poop in my lap. I had told her she can poop after we were done with the river, because she had told me she needed to poop right before we got in, after waiting in line for so long. We both lived.

Ernie's Waterworks

After the lazy river, we took the girls over to a little area called Ernie's Waterworks. It was a very cool area where basically all this mechanical-looking stuff has water coming out every which way, and there's fountains coming out of the ground, and out of pipes, and down tracks that you can dam up, and shooting over your head, and you can just walk through the whole thing. Both the girls had a lot of fun at that one - although Anna didn't particularly like when she was looking at one of the fountains coming out of the ground, and a little boy ran up and smacked the fountain right into her face.

Going home

We called it a day after that and started to head out. After changing into dry clothes, saying goodbye to our "human" friends (who were staying another night) and to our Sesame Street friends, we packed the kids in the car and started driving home. Cara was out before we even got back on the highway.  I'm pretty sure Cara won't remember much of this trip (that's ok, she was free!).  But I hope this trip made its way into Anna's fun childhood memories that she'll keep around for a long time.

Somewhere during the trip, we must have mentioned that we're going to go see Mickey's house, too, and see Titi Toni, Titi Edna, and Abuela. On the way home, Anna kept saying "I want to see Titi Edna!" We said she can see Titi Edna in two months, and asked if she wanted to see Titi Toni, too. Anna said, "No, I want to see Titi Edna!" Sorry, Titi Toni. Looks like you'll need to make a bigger impression on her when we come visit this time!

More pics to come

As of today, I've posted the digital photos we ourselves took at Sesame Place. They're in the photo gallery, under "Vacations and Trips -> 2007 Sesame Place."  We also have some pics to develop from a disposable water-proof camera, and we'll be getting more digital pictures from Kyle & Becky soon - I'll post another entry letting you know when there are more pictures to see.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sesame Place - Day 1

We just got back from a 2-day visit to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. It's a theme park built entirely around, as you might guess, Sesame Street. All the kids' favorite characters are out and about - Big Bird, the Count, Bert & Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster, Elmo, etc., and there are lots of fun water rides and non-water rides. We went with our friends Kyle & Becky, whose daughter Rachael is Anna's best friend, and their parents. The girls had huge fun, but the trip sure didn't start out well…

Sleepless night

We left Wednesday after I tried to wrap some things up at work to take a couple days off. It was about a 3-hour drive from our house to northeast Philadelphia, where the park and our hotel were. We got this dual-screen in-car DVD player from Sam's, which works really well for trips like this. The drive itself wasn't too bad, except towards the end when Cara decided she wanted down: "Dow! DOW!!!" she would cry, and when mommy told her no, she'd cry, "Daddy… Daaaaddyyy… Dow!!" And when I would say we're almost there but you can't get down, she'd switch back to begging mommy. Meanwhile Anna would be telling Cara to "Shhhh!!" so she could hear her Curious George show. When we got to the hotel and to our room, I think it was around 7:45pm, close to normal bedtime. But the girls were all wound up from having just been set free from their 3-hour car seat captivity, so we let them run around the room and jump on the king-size bed, which was big fun. Also, bumping their heads purposefully on the headboard was also a fun game, as well as daddy trying to grab their feet from the bottom of the bed. We set up the pack & plays - thankfully, Anna was easy to put to bed, even in a strange place. Not Cara. It took a long time to get her to go to sleep - she would be fine if someone were holding her, but as soon as it seemed she'd be asleep and you'd try to put her in the pack and play, she'd start crying. We figured her teeth might be bothering her again, plus she was hungry (but there was no refrigerator and no microwave in the room, so having some warm or cold milk on hand was challenging), plus she's in a strange place… I ended up going to a local gas station to pick up some tylenol at 2am, and I think we all got maybe 1-2 hours of sleep maximum that first night, courtesy of Cara. Anna even told us in the morning that she "didn't sleep good" because Cara kept waking her up.

Arriving at the park

Despite a horrible night and no sleep, we actually managed to have lots of fun at the park. Anna gasped when we approached the Sesame Place gate, and Cara yelled, "Woooow!!!" By the way, Anna is now asking "Why?" about everything, so I had to explain several times "why" I was driving - to get to the park - why? - so we can see Big Bird - why? - because you like Big Bird - why? etc. etc. At the front gate, they took our tickets, searched our bags, and, something I've never seen before at a theme park, they had a machine and captured the fingerprints of all the adults entering the park. We figured it must be a precaution/deterrent against child predators. As you enter the park, there are some ivy sculptures of Sesame characters, and towards the end of the main street, there's a little section that's built to look just like Sesame Street from TV, so we took some pictures there. Cara was extremely excited to see the Elmo sculpture - I wonder if Elmo is her favorite character because she can actually say his name. We saw the Count as we were walking through.

The inevitable teacups

We waited in line for a little thing where the kids take off their shoes and climb up this big blue triangle and slide back down. Anna chickened out at the last minute, though. So instead we went to the spinning teacups ride, and I took both girls. It's hard for kids that little to wait in lines, and I had to explain several times to Anna about how the line worked and that we needed to wait our turn. But once we finally got on the ride, Anna had a big smile on her face, and giggled and giggled as we spun around. I was holding Cara, and she had fun for maybe half the ride, then started making her nervous sound - she made it to the end, though.

Meeting Elmo

After the teacups, we went to see Elmo. That was a big hit not only with Cara, but also with Anna, who asked a couple other times that day to go back and see him. It's nice that even though the park is trying to make money off the pictures, they let the kids get in line to see Elmo (also Zoe and Big Bird) and hug them for a couple minutes, whether or not you intend to buy the pictures, plus they let you take your own pictures, too. So we got a few pics with the girls and Elmo. We rode a "balloon race" ride (which is just some cars going around in a circle high up, and you can spin those, too), had some lunch. Rachael bounced in big bouncy area while I took Anna to go see Big Bird. Then we went to get a spot to watch the parade.

The parade

The parade may have been the highlight of the day for the girls. Cara was kicking her feet, and Anna was just so excited - when the music started and the parade was coming, I don't think she stopped dancing. She danced and danced, even dancing in place while waiting for Ernie or whoever to get to our spot from down the street. Beth and I were both almost teary-eyed seeing how happy and incredibly excited she was. I used our camera's video feature to get some video - it's not the best quality and the movies are too big to download if you're on dialup, but the rest of you can get a glimpse of how much fun the girls had at the parade:

Flying fish, slides, and more

After the parade, Anna asked to see it again. I didn't think I could get them to do the whole parade again just for Anna, so I took her over to the flying fish ride. Another long line, and more explaining about how we need to wait our turn - Anna seemed to be catching on. After the flying fish, I took her to a tall tower with two big tube slides (Anna loves slides). It turned out that these slides weren't much of a slide after all - they were so unslippery that the kids basically had to walk themselves all the way down the tube. It didn't matter to Anna, though - I took her to the top, and she walked her way to mommy at the bottom. And she wanted to do it again, and again… and again… and again - she would have done it all day if we would have let her. By this time, Cara had fallen asleep in the stroller and was taking her afternoon nap - part of me wanted to say to her, "Oh, so now YOU want to sleep, huh? Let's see how YOU like being kept awake!" But I refrained. We took Anna over to a little play area where you just run around, fall down, jump, whatever you want to do. There were lots of little shapes that you can pick up and throw and carry and roll over. It was right underneath a really tall (maybe 3-story) series of nets that you climb on. I wanted to crawl on the nets myself - it was pretty cool with little net-tunnels going every which way, but Anna didn't want to. Oh well.

The show

Then we went to see a show. Yep, it was about as corny as you might imagine it being, but Cara was enthralled, and Anna loved it, too. She even got out of her seat and danced in place as soon as the show started, well before the main guy in the show told all the kids to stand up and dance. I don't remember what the show was about, and I'm sure I don't care what it was about. The show for me was watching Anna and Cara having so much fun.

The Twiddlebug train

We went over to Twiddlebug land, and underneath the biggest waterslide, there was a little train track, with little one-person cars that you sit in, and you hand pump your car along the track. Anna loved this little train - this was another one she would have done all day long if we would have let her. I had to intercept her at the starting point and make her get out to give the other kids a turn, which was always a bit dramatic. I don't remember how we got her to leave the train when it was time to leave for the day…

More pics to come

As of today, I've posted the digital photos we ourselves took at Sesame Place. They're in the photo gallery, under "Vacations and Trips -> 2007 Sesame Place."  We also have some pics to develop from a disposable water-proof camera, and we'll be getting more digital pictures from Kyle & Becky soon - I'll post another entry letting you know when there are more pictures to see.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The National Christian Choir in Chicago, IL

I will be joining The National Christian Choir for a mini-tour to Chicago, IL, next month.  Here are the concert dates/times/locations for anyone interested in attending:
  1. Saturday, September 22, 7:00pm: Moody Church (Chicago, IL), for the Moody Broadcasting Network (MBN).  This concert is to help launch MBN's newest internet channel "The Sanctuary," and will be broadcast live nationally on MBN.  You can get tickets online from WMBI or by calling 312-329-2399.
  2. Sunday, September 23, 2007, 9:50am: Moody Church morning service.
  3. Sunday, September 23, 2007, 7:00pm: Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, IL.
We're looking forward to singing in Chicago and hope you'll join us - who knows if or when we'll be back in Chicago!  See you then.

Cheap accessories

I mentioned in my previous post that Anna liked to play “doctor.”  Well, just yesterday, she put this grocery coupon strip over her mouth.  I didn’t realize until she started giving me my “checkup,” and said she was the doctor, that it was her new doctor mask.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"I'm an egg!"

It’s funny what kinds of things seem to make lasting impressions on kids.  I took this picture when Anna was sitting in a box, and using another box to cover her head, announcing that she was an egg.  Did she really pay that much attention to the egg carton from the grocery store?  Here are some other things that have apparently had big impressions on the kids:

Doctor visits

Anna doesn’t seem to mind going to the doctor, at least when there’s no shots involved.  But she really has the wellness check-up down pat.  I will get my own wellness exam.  She will use something that resembles a stethoscope (like a ribbon or an undone fake necklace), place one end in her ear, and procede to place the other end on various parts of me, uterring “mmm hmm!…. mmm hmm!” to reassure me everything’s ok.  She will then, with the same stethoscope, check my mouth, my nose, both eyes, both ears, and finally the top of my head, to complete the exam.  Then it’s my turn to check her out, and vice versa, and vice versa again, for as long as I can handle it.

“Gracie pooped on the floor!”

One day, months ago, Beth had gone into the girls’ room to get them up from their naps.  She saw that one of our cats, Gracie, had pooped on the floor, and scolded the cat in front of the kids.  This apparently left a lasting impression on Anna.  She still to this day will tell us either on the potty or at the dinner table, to make conversation, that Gracie pooped on the floor, that Gracie was naughty.  Could this have anything to do with why she’s scared to poop in the potty?  Who knows.

“I’m bossy!”

Anna is pretty shy in public, but has no fears about telling Cara what to do at home.  One day Beth told her she was bossy, and that has stuck with her.  She’ll keep reminding us that she’s bossy when we tell her not to push Cara around.

Copying Anna on the potty

Cara is also impressionable - she wants to do everything Anna does.  Cara’s already got the motions down as far as going potty from watching Anna.  She comes into the bathroom everytime Anna does, to observe, then when Anna’s done, will sit on the potty with all her clothes on, clap because she “pee-peed,” get toilet paper to wipe, then try to get a “pee pee pill,” which is just a piece of PEZ candy from a Mickey Mouse dispenser.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


What were you obsessed with as a kid?  I remember there was one particular kids’ book - it had no words, just pictures.  And it had something to do with a turtle, that maybe had an egg, and the egg finally hatched, and out came the baby turtle.  I have no idea what I loved about this book, and neither did my dad - I remember him asking me once why I wanted that book again. But I did know exactly where it was in the library, every time we went.  Here’s what our kids obsess about these days:

The dishwasher

Our dishwasher emits an electronic beep any time it is opened or shut.  In true Pavlov form, Cara unfailingly hears this beep, from anywhere in the house, and immediately drops whatever she’s doing to beeline over to the dishwasher, for who knows what.  She does love to steal the bottle rings and we have to catch her in order to put them back.  Cara doesn’t have many obsessions yet, but this one is obvious - and I’m sure there will be more to come.

Kitty and blankets

Anna has a little kitty (you’ll see it in a lot of the pictures she’s in), she just adores and takes everywhere.  Our friend Christina brought it back from Japan, so heaven help us if this kitty ever gets lost or falls apart.  Kitty always stays with one, preferably two, blankets, which are just thin cloth diapers.  The only reason I can think Anna loves these “blankets” is that I would put one over her head when she wouldn’t stop crying as a baby, and she thought it was funny. I guess she came to love them.

The Little Drummer Boy

Last Christmas, we were listening to some music, and my choir’s version of The Little Drummer Boy came on.  Anna loved it, and wanted it played over and over again and again.  For a month or two, whenever we played any music, she’d say “No, no! Drummer Boy!”  And what impressed me was that she knew most of the lyrics… especially the “rum pum pum, puuummmmmmmm.”

The tallest tower

There is an episode of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” where Daisy Duck is stuck in one of three towers (the tallest one), and Mickey has to get her down.  For months, everything big or tall, was “the tallest tower” to Anna.  She’d click several markers together, stand them up, and say “It’s the tallest tower!” and pretend to rescue Daisy.  Even looking up at our house - it was the tallest tower.  I remember things seeming huge when I was little, like our Christmas tree, only to be disappointed when I realized it wasn’t as big as I remembered.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Take a picture of ME, daddy

I was holding the camera tonight, browsing through some pictures, when Anna said, “Take a picture of me, daddy!”  So I said, “Ok, but you have to look cute for the picture. Can you give me a cute face for the picture?”  She did her very best!  (No, the camera didn’t happen to get her with her eyes closed - this was her pose).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I want daddy to hold you

Anna understands the meaning of the words “you” and “me.”  She uses them correctly when she talks, except in one situation.  When she wants to be held, she will use the wrong word and say something like “I want daddy to hold you,” or “Can mommy hold you,” or “I need to hold you.”

I’m pretty sure she picked that up from before she could talk.  When she had no words but would signal that she wanted to be held, we would say “Do you want daddy to hold you?”  A perfectly innocent question.  But now it’s ingrained in her head that this is the way you ask to be held, and it has us scratching our heads how to explain the right way to ask, because in explaining it we’d have to say “you” and “me” in several different ways… oh well, I’m sure it will work itself out eventually!

By the way… it’s 10:10pm, and I just heard Anna laughing like the Count on Sesame Street.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sleepy bear

A few nights ago, while putting Anna to bed after reading a book about sleepy bears going to bed:
Me: “Good night, my sleepy bear!”
Anna: “I’m not sleepy bear. I’m sleepy Anna!”
This morning, getting Anna out of bed:
Beth: “You look sleepy!”
Anna: “I’m not sleepy. I’m big girl!”
Of course, sometimes when she’s fussy and we tell her she can use the potty by herself or use her own fork because she’s a big girl, she’ll say, “No… I don’t want to be a big girl!”  Sorry, Anna, can’t help you with that, but I can relate sometimes!  Today she was all about being a big girl, though - no matter what we said, her response was, “I’m not ______. I’m big girl!”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Carnival Days

During the summers out here in Maryland, the volunteer fire departments raise money by holding week-long carnivals.  The food is usually pretty good, and we go with Anna’s best friend Rachael and her family when we can.  The last one we went to, our friends picked up an “unlimited rides” bracelet for Anna, for just $8.  We went on the last day it could be used, and darn it if we stayed for the rides even though it was trying to rain a little bit.

Cara’s too small for the rides still, so her main ride is the stroller.  Anna and I took our first ferris wheel ride together this summer, which I won’t soon forget.  Anna just loves the other carnival rides, too, squealing, smiling hugely, laughing, waving as she goes by.  Those are the moments I wish we could freeze and hold on to forever.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A sign from above?

Last Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon about alcohol.  It apparently touched a chord for a lot of people, since the line leaving the church was much slower than usual, due to everybody giving the pastor their two cents on the topic.

When it was time to sing the closing hymn, we turned to it in our hymnal.  I glanced at the opposing page and said to Beth, “Aw, we should have sung this one!” I don’t think she was able to sing any of the closing hymn straight through. The name of the other hymn? Fill My Cup, Lord.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Use your self control

We have a CD of “The Music Machine,” which is a collection of catchy kids’ songs I had growing up, songs about the “fruits of the Spirit,” like joy, forgiveness, patience, and self-control.  Anna loves this CD and sings along.

One day, she wanted to watch her Sesame Street, so I said OK, but of course, I couldn’t find the “clicker” (as only Beth and her family call it).  So I said to myself out loud, “Where’s the remote control?”  And Anna quickly responded “I don’t know,” and immediately went to the kitchen to ask mommy where the self control was.


It’s 9:50 pm, and the girls are in bed.  Playing, not sleeping.  Beth has already been in their room to tell them to go to sleep.  Anna obeys initially, but Cara doesn’t understand yet - so when Beth leaves the room, Cara goes back to talking in her crib, and it’s of course too much for Anna to take to stay still and quiet while her sister is trying to talk to her.  Hopefully they won’t be monsters tomorrow.

I realized at dinner tonight that Cara is really starting to say words clearly.  “Milk,” “down,” “mommy,” “daddy,” “more,” “ball,” “yessssssssss,” (which she says with a very slow, mechanical nodding of her head), and of course, “NO!”  She also likes to “sing” songs she recognizes, which for now is holding a single pitch when there’s a long note in the song.

Anna has never been a great eater, so far.  Tonight, though, I noticed that when we told her to eat her chicken, she started to hide the chicken underneath her napkin.  So it begins.  Little does she realize I can spot that scam a mile away - while growing up, my little sister Becky used to always need to “go to the bathroom” at dinner, and I just KNEW that she had a mouthful of food and was spitting it into the toilet.  But I could never prove it, until she fessed up to it one day when we were all together revealing all our childhood secrets to our horrified parents.  So watch out, Anna, I’m on to you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Welcome to the new!

For years, our “website” consisted of a single plain-text page that, in two sentences, proudly proclaimed:
“Welcome to Dave & Beth’s home page on the web. As you can see, we have not put much (ok, ANY) effort into our website just yet - maybe some day we’ll have time to put something nice together.”
It only took five years (!), but “some day” is here.  We’ve changed from a lifeless, empty website to this living online journal.  My vision for this site is to capture stories and thoughts of what happens in our lives, while at the same time giving you, our family and friends, an easy way to stay updated on what happens in our lives.  You don’t even have to remember to visit this site to stay caught up with us - if you subscribe by email or RSS reader, you’ll automatically have updates sent to you.

While I certainly don’t plan to write something every day, I do intend to write somewhat regularly, even if it is just a little entry about one of the photos in our new photo gallery, or a quick story about the kids, or whatever else I want to capture/share.  Maybe Beth will even hop on here and write something from time to time.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you’ll enjoy staying updated with us through this journal for a long time to come.  Please drop us a note anytime - we’d love to hear from you!

- Dave, Beth, Anna & Cara