30 November 2010

Christmas preparations Lucy & Dad 2010!

So today Lucy and I went to buy and set up the family tree. Yes, I gave in to the artificial Christmas tree (I'm sorry baby Jesus, celebrating your birth should be more labor intensive like cutting a real tree rather than standing in a checkout line...). Genuinely, it's tough to find trees for sale in north TX that don't cost and arm and a leg. Not to mention, they're small and ugly compared to those tree farms out in western MD!

That said... here's Lucy when I picked her up MINUTES after leaving her morning play date:

Lucy on the way to buy a Christmas tree. Sound asleep. So stinking cute she could be the angel atop our tree.

So, then here is Lucy WHILE shopping for a tree. There is no coaching or pretending in the following picture. This is legitimate deep R.E.M. sleep, while being pushed through the garden section...

Dreaming of a white Christmas, I suppose!

The tree box was too large to fit under the cart so I laid it across the top, essentially closing her in. BOY did THAT cause some panic when she 'came to'. Opps! Bad Dad!

@ Home we got straight to work.....

Lucy was IN LOVE with the tree topper.  
It's a sign! Baby # 3 is going to be a little girl named Joy! :-P
I find a beautiful name for our baby #3 [Due May 2011] hidden amidst the Christmas decorations!

I did not trap her. I promise. She voluntarily spent most the evening in the tree box :-)

Sporting her cute Christmas apron!

Struggling to sit still long enough for a group photo! This Santa hat is OLLLLD. It has "Andy" written on the inside of it! Whoa!
 And yes... this year, the truth comes out. I'm a closet aficionado of the inflatable lawn decorations. The majority of them are "in excess" though IMHO. You know the ones. Santa+Sleigh+Mrs.Clause+Reindeer+Penguins+Polar Bears etc etc etc. Come on now Americans... let's get back to the basics. Like for example, the one I love. The classic snowman.

Curiosity is peaked while he inflates.......

She backs up cautiously as he rises and is looking around the room frantically for me and was SPEECHLESS-EXCITED.

"Can I touch him? Is he a hugger???" [Reference to Toy Story 3 Lotso Bear]

Love at first sight. If this ain't destined for a Christmas card, I don't know what is!

Government Considers Disabling Cell Phones in Cars - Discovery News



Not content with laws banning talking or texting while driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering adding technology to automobiles that would disable cell phones. The move is a response to the growing number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving.

"I think the technology is there," said Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. "And I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones."

In addition to his comments on disabled cell phones, LaHood also announced a new video campaign, "Faces of Distracted Driving." The series of online videos tells the stories of several victims of distracted driving. The DoT plans to add a new video every few weeks.

During his talk last week LaHood said that nearly 5,500 people died from distracted driving last year, and that about half a million were injured. That's a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.

LaHood's figures only account for known deaths or injuries -- suspected deaths or injuries aren't included. The real numbers, said Atchley, are likely far higher, and will only get higher.

While there is no federal law against using a cell phone while driving a vehicle, dozens of states prohibit texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of deaths or injuries. Several other states forbid drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

According to LaHood, laws aren't enough. Instead he plans to fight technology with technology. Hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn't likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment. That leaves software from companies like Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker and iZup.

While the specifics differ, the general idea is the same. When a cell phone or a vehicle exceeds a certain speed, determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or by the speed of the cell phone itself as measured by cell phone towers, the phone is automatically disabled.

That won't work, said Atchley. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them.

The real answer to the problem is a change in people's attitudes. The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different.

"When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving," said Atchley.

"The bottom line is that people want to use these devices," said Atchley. "And things are going to get worse before they get better."

28 November 2010

Still swirly.

Well, the funeral is over. There is truly nothing worse than having to walk behind the coffin of a person you love. That aside, it was truly a lovely funeral. Laughter, sobbing, pain, love, singing, children, best friends, family squeezes. It was everything a unifying and sincere goodbye should be. And grandma would really love seeing the laughter we're still managing to enjoy. My family has never been a very serious one, and seeing Grandpa tease and poke and laugh through such a painful time is a sign that everything is still okay. He's such a champion, and I know a lesser person couldn't move so gracefully through all of this. His ease and peace now is the truest testament of their love, because you can only ever be really ready to say goodbye if you loved the best you possibly could.
We've still managed to squeeze in some friend time, and I'm so glad. Sarah and Katie cancelled their holiday plans to makes the long drives to be here, with us. Another testament to the love that always remains inside the deepest of friendships. Having them there yesterday was far more emotional than being with the family, because they, too, have lost the grandma we knew when it was all so perfect. After the reception and the crying, us girls gathered at the Davis house to play board games and have fun. Grandma knew what having lifelong girlfriends means and she never would have wanted us to miss a chance to gather around the coffee table.
Today we all drove to the Farm to sort through some clothes and things. The togetherness we've all felt this weekend has been just like any other weekend. Even with all the young cousins and new toddlers around, they sort of fade into the background until all that's left is Don Williams and farm days. It's refreshing, nostalgic and a little bit bittersweet to see and feel the health of the farm slowly slipping away while the family still laughs together. The fruit trees aren't giving fruit like they used to, but I like it that way. I feel like the vitality of the farm is leaving in tribute to a caretaker who no longer lives here. After all, what good is an apple if no one can make a pie? And still, we laugh because the farm has grown each of us and given us the ability to bear so many different fruits.
Tomorrow is the burial, which means more tears...but it's nice to know that we'll be laughing again before we pull away from the cemetery. Grandma was an eternal optimist and she raised a family full of glass-half-fullers. These eyes never stay damp for long, and hope really does spring eternal around here.
It's been a hard weekend, but it's been filling. She's so threaded through each of us - I doubt I'll ever feel like she's really gone, but I sure will miss that cute voice.

Superhand, Daddy takes FOREVER, discipline

Lucy was calling the fly swatter her "Super Hand" all day today because it could do (and I quote) "Super Magical Powers". She was running around for almost 5 hrs straight in a hot, sweaty mess going on and on about her "Super Hand". What, you ask, can a fly swatter do that one would consider "super" and "magical"? Well, for one, it can open the otherwise unreachable kitchen cabinets. Yes P&B blog readers. This is truly super and magical  It was the cutest thing ever.

One of the many many things that Laura can legitimately complain about (regarding her lazy husband, me) is that I take FOREVER to hang things on the walls when we occupy a new home. For whatever reason, this activity drives me crazy and I procrastinate like a professional when it comes to hanging pictures and other 'frew' on the walls. Tonight, Lucy and I colored My Little Pony (who KNEW they were still making MLP merch? Geez!) pictures for at least an hour.  I gave her the idea that with a little tape she could hang these pictures on the wall. She was EXCITED (or as she says "psych-ed"). However, as I was mid-coloring one picture and she was mid-hanging another, she hit these little FAMILIAR notes, "Daddy takes FOREVER to hang things on my walls"... "I wish he would just hang up my pictures..." [while adjusting her tape/picture] "You have to get it straight. Daddy never gets it straight. Only Lucy can get it straight juuuuust peeeerfect like tttthat" [steps back and tilts her head to admire her work].

She is so freaking precious it kills me. Which leads me to discipline... Dang that's hard. Parenting stinks! I didn't respond to her [for a while] as she was calling from a separate room (lesson: don't shout from room-to-room) but when she came into the living room with a blotchy red face, hair all in a tangle and big old alligator tears pouring down her cheeks as a result of my nonresponsiveness I melted like a big pile of daddy-goo. Worse, I found myself apologizing to her. HOLY COW! I thought WHO is teaching a lesson to WHO here!?!?!?!? I still think it'll be much easier to say 'no' and teach 'lessons' to teenagers! I think I can handle passive-aggressive. Let's hope that's the route they take and stop using the alligator-tear methodology!

Love, dad


27 November 2010


We have to be at church in 4 hours for Grandma's funeral. I just woke up for a dream about it. She was there and kept saying she wanted a snack, and no one knew if we were supposed to feed her. Everyone thought it was a no, but she was hungry!

Molly is sleeping in the pack and play across the room... I had no idea she was such a noisy sleeper. She moans, yells, rolls, kicks, cries...man. She must get it from me.

The trip to Seattle yesterday was perfect. Of the 4 hours on the plane, she slept for exactly half. She then woke up and quietly munched on pretzels and played with stickers until we reached the airport. Perfect. Such a good little travel companion!
Today is going to be long and tiring. I'll post later if I can muster it...right now I just need some FOOD.

24 November 2010

Swirly with Grief

Today, I'm completely at a loss for words. It seemed easier last night. Grandma Susie died last around 6:30 PST. While I'm so happy and peaceful, knowing that she is free of pain, I feel like I may never feel whole and happy again. It's so rare that are afforded the opportunity to spend nearly every day of their childhood with their grandparents.
I'm sure I could write for miles about what Grandma Susie meant to me, but now just isn't the time. There is much to be done and my keyboard isn't waterproof. I just hope the Heaven allows people to see what's happening on Earth. I don't think I could make it through this if I thought she was truly gone. It doesn't seem fair that for Grandma to be whole, we all have to feel broken. I know that time will heal us, but today it just doesn't feel fair at all. I already feel like so much less than me without her. Tomorrow will be better. I'm sure I'll be able to write all the happy things soon. In the meantime, what does she always say?

This too, shall pass. 

Meredith Ann Catherine Rarity Hendry ~ August 6, 1939 - November 23, 2010

This song may seem weird at first, but it was one of Grandma's favorite little ditties to sing and she sang it almost every time she realized she was making a nice little memory - I know that if she heard it now, she say, "And I really did enjoy every last minute!"

18 November 2010

The Advent of my Insanity.

So, we needed an Advent wreath. I, of course, am too sentimental (read: cheap) to go out and buy one,  and as I have declared this to be a handmade holiday, I was determined to make a kid-friendly, whimsical, adorable Advent wreath. (read: I'm a glutton for punishment.)

So we started with salt dough. You can make just about anything with salt dough. It will NEVER break down. I promise you. It can also kill people if thrown at their heads. (I don't know that from experience. Just assuming.) And, salt dough is a holiday medium for children. Why not take it to a whole new level? That's me. Taking things to a whole new level.

 I didn't really know how to make a ring, so after consulting with my colleague Lisa, I decided on a cake pan and a bowl. Easy peasy.

 We rolled foil into little logs and measured them against the candles.

After some dedicated smooshing and pushing and patting, it was finished. The Advent Spaceship. At this point I decided the entire idea was positively ludicrous and attempted to call Grandma, because I really don't know anyone who appreciates the humor in the perils of parenting more than she does. 

I trimmed the top like "so," and then popped it into the oven for a quick bake. 4 hours at 300. Yipes. In the middle of the baking, I decided that the stupid wreath was never going to come out of the pan. I re-consulted with Lisa. We decided that Advent and extra-terrestrials go together just fine. I'd just be down a cake pan for the remainder of my life. 

 Something tells me that creating an advent wreath should not involve bad language. I just hope God knows me well enough to understand that it's not Advent that frustrates me so much as a failed plan. After much yelling, grunting, banging and ouching, the wreath popped out of the pan. Hooray! 

 And of course you need greenery to go with your wreath. So I made holly leaves. These are-mid painting.

 On the outside of the wreath, I painted a quote by Pope Benedict about Advent. "Awaken memories of happiness...open the doors of hope." Awww!

 And then we hot glued our "greenery" on top of the wreath.

I know, I know...death by cuteness is a very good way to go. 
So, yes. Our first Advent wreath. I'd imagine we'll graduate to something a bit more refined when we're wealthy and we have three Christmas trees, but for now, salt dough it is. It was a bit of an undertaking, but it's got more whimsy than my living room and family room combined, and Christmas is nothing if not whimsical!

15 November 2010

I love my girls so much. I love that Molly sneaks into the pantry to pull out cereal boxes. I love that Lucy still sleeps on me after her nap. I love that Molly yells, "maaaa...maaaa..." from her crib when she's ready to get up. I love that Lucy puts everyone before herself...unless chocolate is involved. I love that Molly is always ready to roll up her sleeves and pitch in, even when it makes more work for me. I love the way Lucy raises her eyebrows when she gets a happy surprise. I love that Molly can always find a way to entertain herself. I love the way Lucy calls other kids, "the little ones." I love watching Molly's "invisible face" when she's been caught doing something naughty. I love the way Lucy knows just when I need a special hug. I love watching Molly pull Andrew through the door before his keys are even out of the lock. I love watching Lucy carry her special before-bed snack into the living room to munch with the big people.

I love that there are no two tiny people I could love more. And I love that there's another one on the way. The best thing about adding babies is that each one is new, perfect, different, the same and adorable. And each one is just as amazing as the last. They're all my favorite, and it wouldn't matter if I had 3 or 15.

14 November 2010

A Day In The Life of Molly

8am - Molly is waking up, ready for Friday. The hair never really changes, always a giant mat of tangles, sleep and baby-fine snarls.

 Daemoo's up too! Daemoo is always very alert.

 Poor kid. She had no idea I was starting her day with a Nikon flash and getting ready to lead her to the doctor for shots.

 Morning diaper change and last night's marker incident. She had a bath around 5pm, and then Lucy exclaimed, "let's color!" Was I really going to put her back in the bath an hour before bed? No way.

 Getting dressed - please tell me I'm not the only one whose children never wear matching socks. Lucy was in one Abby Cadabby sock and one ballerina sock. I just can't win. They're so tiny!

The hair makes a phone call.

 If I can get that into this, we can certainly attain world peace. Never mind the crooked part; we live on the edge down here.

 Getting herself all pretty in the bathroom. I think I'm going to post pics of the house today or tomorrow. I'll post the full story of "the bathroom" then. What an albatross.

8:45am - Eating her "breakfast" in the car on the way to the doctor.

 9:00 - waiting patiently for Dr. Wonderful. Love him!

 Lucy's coloring page for the pediatrician. They nurse actually said, "Is her name on it?" Heck yes it is, all over the place! The circled letters are the ones she did herself. So cute.

The flash totally wiped out Molly's scribbles, but they're there!

 9:30 - Cheeks still wet, Molly sucks on a lollipop on her way to Albertsons for some groceries.

 That's better!

 I think I'd actually be okay with Molly getting her license now. She's a very focused driver. And if we let them start driving before they can spell, we rule out so many problems. What's that? 18 million US adults don't read well enough to earn a living wage? Well then, I guess spelling isn't the issue....

 After our trip out, we got home right around 11. Molly immediately stripped and did some laundry. After some time in the playroom, it was time for lunch and naps.

 After a long snooze, she knocked out some fine artwork.

4 pm - Yes, that's shame you see.

4:30 - post bath- The Q-Tip Bandit getting the ears dry. Does she take after her daddy or what?!?

 A little snack before...

 6pm French toast casserole!

 As soon as the hands were wiped, Lucy and Molly were off again, this time to play with Daddy until bedtime.

 Obviously this is the Cooke side...

 All pooped out and ready for bed!

After 12 hours of Molly, everyone's ready for bed.