28 April 2011

Various and sundry.

I really don't have much to talk about, so I thought I'd just add the latest pictures from around the house. We made Paschal candles during Holy Week, and they came out so cute! The kids were really able to help and they were super simple. Had I any artistic ability at all, I'd so monogram a couple and actually make them insanely awesome. Maybe I could trace...

Babydoll Roll Call. L to R - Molly, Orange Baby, Baby Cinderella, Snap and Style Baby, Baby Baby, Baby Aurora, Dirty Baby, Scary Baby, Poopy Baby, Jingle Baby, Baby Beans (Mimi's baby from childhood - a fave around here!), Hairy Baby (Mama's baby from childhood - another "always naked" hit), Lucy, Bear McNair. 

Molly with stickers all over her face. Obviously. 

                                            Two girls under a blanket with a flashlight.

The tulip that ate Forth Worth. We bought this one week ago tonight at Walmart. When we bought it, it fit neatly in a white plastic grocery bag and the not-yet-open blooms came to the bottom of the sign behind it. Clearly, something is amiss. The stem in the very front, right over the bird? That wasn't there 4 days ago. At all. In seven days it's grown into the most terrifying plant we've ever housed. It grows by at least a couple of inches every day, and it's so heavy it's starting to crawl. It reminds me of a Goosbumps book.

Our table set for a weeknight dinner. this was about 5 minutes before Molly climbed up and spilled her milk everywhere, and about two hours after I put a clean tablecloth down.

                                              The napkin basket! I like the red ones the best.

See? They're so easy a Golden Retriever could make them. I cut a 20x20 square, roll the side to make a double hem, zig-zag stitch and pretend I bought them from someone who actually knows how to use a sewing machine. I've been screaming at my machine for three days. Then I realized I was using the bobbin from my other machine. It complicates things.

Well folks, that's about as good as it gets around here. Nothing very thrilling, except for the tulip that's about to eat my two-year-old. Over and out.

We all have our priorities...

Laura works day and night to protect and serve our home. I work all day to drive myself crazy with office politics, provide for the family, and also the troops & civilian contractors. Lucy... well, this is the email I just rec'd from the homefront:

... since we're doing a Pinkalicious party and Lucy needs something for the party, I told her she could pick one. She picked dark pink and light pink [skirt], and they were SOLD OUT. I had to make her choose a solid colored skirt and now she's bummed out. I think she'll probably recover when it gets here and she sees how poofy and adorable it is,but for now, nothing but dissapointment!

27 April 2011

dear friends & family...keep on singin' Mo

If you are considering a trip here in the coming days, weeks or months to visit the Texas Cookes (and our awesome new baby #3) ... You may be subject to the following cruel & unusual punishment:

Making the switch....to cloth.

I've been sewing furiously around here, trying to create a decent-sized stash. "A stash of what?" you might ask.

Napkins! Cloth napkins! A major discovery has been made in the House of C, and we're gung-ho for a well-set table.

See, we landed on something interesting about 3 or 4 months ago. I decided I'd like my table to be pretty approximately 75% of the time. No small feat with toddlers. I love to walk into the kitchen and see the table laid out beautifully and looking like a family is about to dine. And you know something? When the table's set, we dine! I am always more likely to make a delicious, nutritious dinner when I've spent part of my time preparing the table. It sounds insane, but our family sort of transforms when we sit down at the table. The girls mellow, our moods lighten, we laugh and talk and everyone walks away satisfied.

Really, consciously setting the table doesn't just improve our moods, but it improves our manners. I don't think you'd believe it unless you see it. At two years and a couple of months, Molly is being fine-tuned all day long, every day. She's a giant mess of knees, elbows, tantrums and trouble. But put her at the dining room table and she sits up straighter and behaves. I think part of it is being at our height. Both girls have booster seats at the table that help them sit up well and meet our eyes, and that really helps the conversation. I've found that when I include Molly directly and put her at my height for just about anything, she'll last much longer and be so much more coooperative. I don't always want her at my height, but I'd rather have a cheerful kid in the middle of my business than a screaming toddler who feels like no one wants her around.

We keep a tablecloth on the table at all times. I alternate between 3 or 4 and one tablecloth will last for about 5 days. IF we keep the placemats on the table. We have cloth placemats and they generally don't make it more than 3 days. We do have toddlers, after all. With the tablecloth and placemats, there is definitely some sliding and adjusting throughout the day, but the girls have learned to be careful and to use their picnic table next to the dining room table for arts and crafts and messy stuff. Lucy is always the first to ask, "Where should I sit?"

We use cloth napkins at every meal, for the most part. The problem I have with paper napkins is that kids need to wipe their faces and hands, and paper napkins just aren't durable enough. To buy the right paper napkins, we're spending far too much money that could be used elsewhere. So we have several designs and they all match all of the tablecloths. Very important! Nobody wants to have to pair these napkins with that tablecloth and those placemats. Blah. I keep a small stack of cloth napkins on the table at breakfast and lunch, and the girls are always quick to grab one if they think they need it. Another thing I'm loving is that they don't grab more than one, because their fingers land on something substantial. I've started working on keeping the napkins on the laps just this week, and I think we're almost ready to debut their newest trick to Daddy!

At dinner, each place is actually set, plate first, napkin next, silverware on top. I'm trying to start serving dinner AT the table so that the girls can see what things look like and make their own choices. I think  Lucy, for one, is much more receptive to trying things when she gets to ask for it and try serving it herself. She is really getting adventurous with her eating and recently she's a real joy to have at the table. Molly will eat almost anything, but we're learning that when she tells us she doesn't like it the first time, she'll do two bites and then she's absolutely finished. Push for that third bite and she'll turn inside out, screaming "NO WANT IT!!!!" But considering how polite she is usually and how willing she is to try the first two bites, we usually bend the "three bites" rule with her.

The girls drink with small, real glass drinking glasses. They're durable, but we have constant spills. I can't figure out how to stop the spills other than practice, so we just try to mop up as quickly as possible and return to the meal. I'd say we're down to two or so spills a week, so we are definitely getting somewhere.

Each girl is expected to ask to be excused and to scrape their plates and return them to the sink. Molly is actually very, very good at this and always remembers to clean up her place. (Which is a wonder, considering she can't remember that the number 9 doesn't come after 4.) Lucy is good at it only because it gives her a chance to say, "My manners are SO good!" Humility is always so difficult for the first-borns...

I'm finding that the more we expect, the more we get in return. I suppose it's kind of like staying at the Four Seasons. Their employees expect to work hard and are thanked in return by appreciative employers and guests who expect nothing but the best service. The pride of working in a place known for excellent service reveals itself in the service they offer. Likewise, the service I get at Taco Bell is never really very good, but I also never expect much.

Giving the girls ample opportunities to practice their manners gives them time to get it right and receive the praise they need to keep going. Yeah, it's exhausting sometimes, but I would always rather be the mom who picks up her daughter from a sleepover and hears, "Your daughter is so polite; how do you do it?"

Another thing that's interesting about setting the table is that the girls see more of the work that goes into family dinner time. Lucy seems to appreciate the whole thing a lot more when she sees that Mommy irons the napkins to get the big wrinkles out, we have to put the tablecloths in the laundry, we need to pick out the right forks, etc, etc, etc. She's seeing the work that we have to put in, and likes to help as much as she can. When she's been helping with the little tasks during the day, she's so much more likely to take ownership in her dinner.

I realize that many people don't stay home and don't have ample time for setting the table and cooking a big meal. Most of our meals aren't big so much as planned. If I can take 15 minutes a week to decide what we're going to eat each night, I'm more likely to cook when the time comes. Last night, it was Pizza Hut with paper towels and two girls dancing in the booth. Tonight, it'll be chicken and pasta on a half-set table, as I've been sewing all day. If I can get 4 out of 7 nights covered, I'm happy. We do lots of crock-pot stuff, and that helps even when we're at home all day. Molly's naps put me into lazy-mode, and when she wakes up at 4, I'm not really prepared to cook dinner and get into Family Time yet. I'm working on that! As in, it's 4pm now and I'm blogging instead of putting the chicken in marinade. Hm.

Manners are always a work in progress around here, but learning a few tricks really is making it a little easier to encourage the kids to put their best foot forward. And really, we kind of owe it to them to turn out the best-mannered people we can. With great parenting power comes great parental responsibility and all that, you know!

The witty gritty.

I suppose if I hadn't spent the last 27 years honing my own wit, I'd be able to complain about Lucy's quick thinking. As it stands, this kid is just full of one-liners.

The girls helped me sort toys all morning, and I let them watch TV for a few minutes while I checked my email. Lucy asked for milk, and Molly yelled, "And me too!" and jumped up to follow me to the kitchen. Lucy put a hand on her arm and said, "Oh, don't get up, Mo. She'll bring it right to us." (Pardon?)

This morning I was in the kitchen making a snack and Lucy asked me to set the timer. It looks like an eggplant and they love to hear it ding. Lucy says to me, "Oh,  Daddy brought that timer to me from college. He got it when he was there. Daddies go to college. Mommies don't need college, but if you want to go someday, you can come with me." (I guess the $15k I'm still paying in loans is just the price of finding a nice man to procreate with.)

And my recent favorite:

Last night we were in the car waiting for Andrew so we could go out to dinner. The conversation went something like this: 
Mommy, I'm going to do math.

Oh, great!


Very good. What about 2+2?


Fantastic! 3+1?




Right! When you add a 1, the number is always the next highest. So 5+1?










Uhhh...I think it's ten.

Oh, ten! And ten rhymes with Ken, who is my boyfriend.

(please note - Lucy calls all of her little male friends "boyfriends." She's not dating yet.)

26 April 2011

Big girl!

This degree of cute is the reason for total lawlessness in our home.

First time in charge at Kroger!

One week to go! We're so busy around here, trying to get doctor and dentist appointments out of the way, shopping, cleaning, organizing, finishing up little projects, etc. The weather has seemed to improve, which is a huge blessing. We've been doing nothing but looking at the sky and watching the news for a week, so the nice weather is so welcome!

I took the girls to their 6-month dentist appointment yesterday. Lucy was such a champ. She did her x-rays, had her teeth cleaned, chatted with the dentist, just perfect. Molly was a little out of control because she was so excited about her own appointment, and I was having trouble getting her to sit still. She kept trying to climb up into the chair with Lucy, so I pulled her onto my lap and was teasing her about being a baby. As in, "Lucy's a big girl so she's going to have her teeth cleaned, but my little baby can stay over here with me." She stopped what she was doing and looked at me, and then bent over and rubbed my calf and said, "Mommy's poky!" If ever there were a child who always has the last word, it's Molly. Little stinker.

My last OB appointment was yesterday - everything looks great and I'm schedule for all of my pre-op stuff next Monday. My OB said I have lots and lots of fluid, which accounts for this incredibly wiggly baby. S/he is still doing full flips in there, which are very painful when you're so big. Otherwise, my BP was great, I'm measuring perfect and we're on schedule to pull the little darling out at 12:30 a week from today! I think we have namess picked out "officially," and will be good to go when we meet our newest addition.

I have a couple more "quiet" projects to work on around here, like finishing some paper cranes for a mobile for the baby and finishing up a few more sets of cloth napkins. I'd like to have them all done by the weekend so that I have less laundry to do as far as linens go. I'm also working on getting some printed pictures of the girls out to friends and family and working on a birth announcement for the baby. That coupled with the last of my organizing and cleaning will make for a good, balanced week.

Well, I'll put up some pictures and videos from the weekend at naptime. For now, we're headed out to vacuum the car and attend a meeting at Church. Should be home just in time to put Mo down and hit the couch for a little rest!

25 April 2011

Lesson Learned... Waffles.

L: "No. That bowl of cereal was just a snack. I need waffles. I had DREAMS about waffles. BIG ones. LITTLE ones. IN-THE-MIDDLE ones. CUTTING waffles, SQUASHING waffles, DANCING with waffles and my Grandma and Grandpa and Josiah and Lydia and little-baby-Ben want to play with me too."

Um. Riiiight. But, how am I to resist this cuteness?

A: "Lucy, come to the kitchen. You're waffles are ready. Do you want me to cut them or do you want them like this" [leans plate of waffles towards Lucy so she could see].

L: "Daddddddyyyy." [said lovingly with a smirk and her head cocked to the side]..."You can do better than those".

So, clearly I under-filled the waffle press. But seriously? Criticizing my waffle-making? Man... Daddy duty is getting tougher every time. Geez she's cute.

A: "You're right you little monster. I'll try harder next time. Maybe you can help me."

L: "Okay. It'll be teamwork."


The weather men in Texas totally blow my mind. I heard thunder and I was posting my last post, so I thought I'd check for tornadoes since I was already up. So responsible.
Our local storm advisory said "reaching _______ by 3:35am, penny-sized hail, severe wind and rain. Seek shelter in a strong building away from windows" and blah blah blah. No tornadoes.
At exactly 3:35, penny-sized hail starts hitting the window. At 3:43, the hail is gone and the rain is wrapping up. (Because it's scheduled to be 4.4 miles away at this point, you know.) Amazing. I assume the jaw-dropping capabilities of the weather service in this area is due to the tornado threat, but still. It pretty much blows my mind every time.
It is now 3:46 and I'm much more hungry than I was. This may require a glass of milk.

Stormy night.

I really don't mind being the one to wake up with the girls. I'm lucky in that I always drop right back to sleep again, no matter the task I've just completed. Well, usually. That's much harder when you have a very aware baby inside you who perks right up at the sound of anything happening. That's why it's 3am and I'm trying to lull the little angel back to sleep...it doesn't help that the longer I'm awake, the more hungry I become. It's a very vicious cycle. Now I'm wide awake, thinking about cold cereal and tornadoes and wondering how you convince at an amniotic resident to go to sleep. Very, very tricky.

5 more work days until BabyCation 2011 begins!!!! Whee!!

24 April 2011

Early Easter Mass 2011

The combo of this sweet cuddler and those sweet smelling lilies was enough to win me over this morning... Thanks God.

22 April 2011

Supernatural Gestation.

You know in Twilight where Bella gets pregnant and she's all pumped and then she gets sick? Everyone's all, "Dude, we're psyched for you, but your baby is going to kill you from the inside!" and Bella's all, "what? No way! My baby can read my mind and it'll never kill me!" And then it does anyway and they have to turn her into a vampire to "save her life." (at least I think that's how it went- speed reading sometimes cheats us out of the details, but that's how I roll.)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that I've self-diagnosed my problem. I'm pregnant with a vampire and it's killing me from the inside. I'm all, "Baby Vampire, can you hear my thoughts? Please don't kill your mother!" and Baby Vampire is all, "Whatever, lady. I'm soulless and hungry!" There is no way a mortal baby can be this strong. I'm still working out just how Andrew and I conceived a vampire, but the details are becoming clearer the more pregnancy drives me to insanity.

My insides are truly suffering. If this baby doesn't get out soon, I will die. What I still can't figure out is why my vampire baby gets the hiccups several times a day if vampires don't breathe...curiouser and curiouser...

It kind of boggles my mind that a man at the end of a third pregnancy is wondering how to spell "waddle."

Y'all, I am so ready. 10 days to Baby Drop. Wheeeeeee! I spent today working on a few more preparations. I started working on my hospital bag, organizing the girls' "box" in the car, preparing a second diaper bag for whomever we foist them on for the next 3 weeks, organizing their "hair stuff box," getting the baby's diapers, wipews, blankets, clothes and sundries in the right places, buying coming home outfits and putting the receipt in a safe place, and on and on and on. Nothing too strenuous, but definitely enough to put me out for the rest of the evening...

The girls and I went to Stations of the Cross for children this morning and Lucy really seemed to get it. It was hot and windy, but the girls were happy to be outside after a couple days of rain. After that, we went to McDonald's to let the kids run for a bit before heading home for a quiet Good Friday afternoon. Andrew ended up going to the doctor this afternoon to get something for his upper respiratory infection, so he's still at work. :-(

I had more to blog, but I'm too tired and grumpy. I'll be back once I adjust this attitude!

Rockin' the Hawaiian Shirt & Cloth Pants

There is absolutely nothing more elating than to see on a lazy Good Friday at work than an old, um "larger" guy, walking around the office in a INTENSELY bright & colorful Hawaiian shirt, untucked (of course), laughing to himself as he woddles (sp?) down the hallway wearing khaki cloth pants and loafers, no socks.

It just... I mean, it really warms my heart. This dude was happy. At the office AND at the same time you could picture him sitting on the beach. I mean, you rock old fat guy. you rock.

21 April 2011

11 days.

I am so ready to meet this baby. I've definitely slipped into the last days of pregnancy, and my body is about 11 days from giving up. I had my OB appointment on Monday and everything looks great. I go back this Monday for my "last" appointment. I'll have one more trip up before the big day for labs at the hospital and a final ultrasound.

I still have a few things to do around here and will probably spend some of this morning trying to get a little done.  It's just very, very hard for me to do more than one thing at this point, and I'll be so happy when I can put a full day of activity on the calendar again.

The girls are so, so, so excited about finding out who's in there! Lucy is just about to burst with impatience and Molly is just dying to help the baby, change the baby, sit on the baby, carry the baby, cuddle the baby, feed the baby, bathe the baby, rock the baby, bite the baby, you get the picture. We already know that Lucy may very well be the most gentle and nurturing 3-year-old walking the Earth, so I'm not worried about her. But when I look at Mo, I see a big sister who will definitely surprise everyone with her mothering. She's a great listener and her little heart is just so full of love. I know she'll be great with the baby and I can't wait to finally get whomever this is into her hot little hands!

We have a full weekend of Easter plans ahead of us. Tomorrow the girls and I will be going to the Stations of the Cross for children in the morning, and then we'll be coming home for a very quiet day. We try to keep Good Friday quiet and reflective, so while I was debating even doing that, I think we'll just make a morning trip out and then come home.

On Saturday, we have our last meeting with the engaged couple we're sponsoring, and then we're going to come home for a family day. We'll be cleaning the house for our Easter dinner and getting a few more pre-baby projects done, and in the evening we're going to watch Veggietales' The Night Before Easter with the girls. Grandma C sent it for Easter and we're keeping it a surprise until then - the girls love having popcorn and ice cream in the living room and Lucy thinks it's so great when "the whole famiwwy" watches a movie together.

We'll do Mass very, very early on Sunday. We have a huge parish (25,000ish) and holiday Masses are a little crazy. Easter Vigil is 100% out of the question just because of the time, the length and the fact that people very rarely seem to care that a massively pregnant woman is standing in the aisle without a seat, about to expire. Pregnancy really overheats me, and any Mass that uses incense tends to make me very dizzy, so when you combine that with a super-long Mass, there's a major potential for me to just pass right out. The "mid-morning" Sunday Masses are usually very full, but on Easter Sunday they go from full to just heaving. You have to get there an hour early and actually be walking into the pew as other people are getting up for Communion. It's just nuts. We usually have about 1500 people at a Mass, and on Easter it's at least double that. So we've decided to hit the 7am Mass on Sunday morning. This has major implications everry which way for us, most important being the whiny husband I'm going to have to wake up at 5am, but it'll be so worth it to be able to sit during Mass AND to see the sunrise on the most special day the Church celebrates. We'll need to leave the house at 5:45 at the latest, so I'm going to pack a little breakfast for the girls and just have everything ready to go for them ahead of time. They're troopers - I have no doubt that it'll be lovely.

We're having friends for Easter dinner on Sunday afternoon/evening and that should be just lovely. I'm going to make a big ham and Grandma Susie's Potatoes Romanoff. And that dinner will be our jumping off point for BabyWatch2011! Once Easter is over, we'll be jumping into a very busy week of shopping, last-minute doctor and dentist appointments, finishing up projects, the remainder of our home-improvement stuff and packing for the hospital. We are just so excited to become a family of 5!

Well, I'm getting dangerously close to hearing little voices down the hall as the sun rises. It's 6:51 now and the fact that we all got an uninterrupted night of sleep is already a sign that these girls are going to have plenty of energy for their mama. They usually get up right at 7 (because Mama won't let them run the house before 7 on the dot!) and drag their big fleece blankets out to the couch. They each get a little bowl of dry Cheerios and a sippy of juice while they wake up to a cartoon or kid show. It's about the cutest thing you've ever seen, these two sweeties cuddled up together, chatting about what they're going to do with their day. I really can't say what today will hold, but I do know that it will involve a trip to the carwash to vacuum the car, as is our usual Thursday morning activity. After that...the world is our oyster!

19 April 2011

You know there's a problem when...

Do you know how I know it's time to take even greater notice of the over-sexualization of children? Because CNN is running an article about it. And you know when CNN actually starts caring about an issue in the realm of parenting, there's not just a problem.

Wake up, folks. Our sweet babies are going to be fighting a war we could prevent now. A war for their self-esteems and eventually, their souls. If we don't do something now, we're going to see our children suffer like we can't even imagine. When a child who's exploited grows into an adult who can't recognize the person inside them, hearts and minds are damaged in numbers so great we may never know the actual statistics. Parenting doesn't begin with whether to breastfeed or bottle feed. It begins with a grave concern for your child's soul. And if it takes CNN to start a conversation, we're already in deep, deep trouble.

Reason #237 these two weeks can't pass fast enough.

I am tired of coloring. What I wouldn't give to push a jogging stroller full of itty bitties again...

18 April 2011

16 years...

...until Mo goes to college. Ideally she'll have chosen to become a mechanic rather than unleash the beast on higher education and the process of pledging a sorority. 


My adorable husband got his time for the Warrior Dash this weekend - 38:09! Good work, babe!

What's that? You'd like to nibble on my adorable baby? Sorry folks, Mo belongs to us'n.

Full of Fine Moments today...

  • Was it learning that my abcess is, indeed, still around and I'll be starting another round of antibiotics today? No, that wasn't my Finest Moment.
  • Was it answering my door (after the 3 doorbell ring) with a homicidal look on my face (at naptime) only to find that the call I ignored this am was a very nice older couple who were coming to fix my fence? I'm sure that wasn't my Finest Moment...
  • It could have been my neighbors watching me as I untangled plastic eggs from my tree after they all burrowed into the branches in the middle of the windstorm last week, but that probably wasn't my Finest Moment.
  • Maybe it was my weird little dance in Walmart as I loaded milk, a spiral ham, refrigerated biscuits and four bananas onto the belt and PRAYED that it would be under $20 so I wasn't the weirdo putting back eighty cents worth of produce...that could have been my Finest Moment, I suppose. (My total was $19.93, thank you very much! I took those bananas and celebrated like Jesse James.)
  • It may have been my realizing that I swore there would be no TV this week and here my TV is on and wondering when Lucy will be up for some bonding time. My, but that IS a Fine Moment. Aaaaaand OFF.

When I consider all of the Fine Moments I've already had on this long Monday, I'm pretty sure that my Finest Moment was realizing that I am so, so, so flawed and so, so, so ready for Holy Week.

An open letter

To my friends across the waiting room:

Please stop whispering about me and how odd it is that I don't want one sex over the other. I'm 100% serious when I say I haven't even thought about it and just love the thought of having another. As for what "the dad" wants? We're married, and our baby was conceived because we believe in a faithful and fruitful marriage and can't wait to meet another of our beautiful children. And no, he's not going to freak if it's another girl. And if you thought I was joking when I said we'll have more after this, you're probably mistaken. Have a fantastic day!

17 April 2011

Cash Budget, Part 2

So Tricia (Hi, Tricia! Where ya been hiding?) asked for a follow-up on the particulars of our cash budget. I'll fill in a few holes here and give some specifics.

I will say that it works the best if you and your partner are really willing to talk money every night. Not a lot of talking, but everyone needs to be clear on just what's in the pot and what's coming up throughout the week. If you have a spouse who tends to do most of the spending or is used to swiping that card, it may take a little while to get the hang of the money chatter.

  • On payday, I take out $280. I only take out what I need for a week, even though the pay period is two weeks. I go back a week later and get another $280. That way I'm not borrowing cash from myself too far in advance. I budget $40 a day, but I try to spend $20 or less. The idea is to put at least one $20 away at the end of the day.
  • Every other paycheck is our "free" check, where I have a little more flexibility as we're not paying our house payment with that one. I make sure that anything that's not an everyday expense is listed and prioritized so that when "Check B" comes rolling around, I know if I need it for something like car maintenance, a doctor's visit, gifts, etc. When we have a major emergency that I haven't prepared for, there's always something in savings. We work hard to make sure that we're staying healthy, taking care of our things and planning in advance. It's a wonder what just taking your vitamins and seeing the dentist for your exams will save in the long run!
  • So after my ATM run, we have $40 a day for one week. The bills are pinned together and I stick a sticky note on them to make sure every day is accounted for. Once I've done that, I go to my calendar to figure out my "home" days. These are days that I'm not going out, no matter what. We don't make plans, we don't agree to anything. If we don't leave, we don't spend. Those days are days that I automatically know I'll have an extra $40.
  • Andrew and I keep diligent tabs on our gas. Gas is very expensive right now and we combine trips like crazy. Andrew also has a motorcycle that he rides every day the weather permits. It uses far less gass and on the off chance I haven't been paying attention to my gas gauge, I have a second car that may be more likely to get me where I'm going. Gas is tricky for us because using cash requires me to go IN to the gas station with toddlers in tow. Generally I'll try to stick to one tank a weeek and combine my trips, and then I'll fill up on the weekend with whatever cash we have left over.
  • The $40 for the day is for groceries, gas and incidentals. I try to plan nutritious meals that make a LOT of food, and freeze what I can. Learning to freeze food has become invaluable because on the days I've already borrowed from myself or am not prepared to cook, I have a "free" meal all ready to go. Generally I go out once every two days, so I usually have a little extra to spend on food, but I try to stick to the $40 if I can, because the goal for me is to spend $20 or less per day so I can really set aside a little extra cash by the end of the week.
  • I make a list and I stick to it like CRAZY. That is very, very hard for me. I love to shop and I love to spend. A cash budget for me is like not gambling in Vegas. Who does that? I've figured out that the one thing that has me going back to the grocery store is MILK. And once I'm there for milk, I'm there for 20 other items. Learning to control the milk intake around here is saving me money in ways I never though possible, because I'm not running to the store for "a few things" every day. The girls get their recommended servings in the am and then we switch to water for the day until dinner. I can drink almost a gallon a day, so forcing myself to drink water instead has really slashed out budget!
  • Weekends are hard. We like to go out as a family and we always end up spending money. If we have visitors in town, all bets are off and we have FUN. The cash budget tends to go out the window and we pick up where we left off once we're back to normal. But if it's just us tooling around town on the weekend, we try to stick to the budget. Andrew is incredibly understanding and enjoys the challenge of making our weekends frugal and fun. We don't go out to movies often, and we rarely pay for a sitter. The kids come with us wherever we go and they're expected to behave well enough to be invited back again. We have a pretty long list of free and fun activities in the area and we make sure that the girls understand that it's not about what you're doing, but who you're doing it with and the attitude you have. When you're trying to stay under $20 a day, small things like a chocolate shake on the way home become big things, and the art of living is enhanced by finding pleasure in small things, isn't it?
  • At the end of each day, any cash that's floating around is collected and added back to the pot. At the end of the week, it's put into savings at the same time I withdraw our budget for the following week. When you have $40 a day, you know where every dime, quarter and dollar bill is, so rounding up the leftover cash is never hard. I think it usually comes out to about $80 that I can put back into savings. When you combine that with your regular contribution to savings, it adds up. I realize that some people don't have a regular contribution to savings, and some months we don't either, so that little extra here and there makes a big difference!
  • I like my cash budget because when it comes down to it, cash talks. When I'm holding it in my hands, I re-examine every penny I'm about to spend. At the end of the day, I get so excited to put $20 or $40 back in the pot. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself so much as really conquering a weaker side of myself. It's just so fun to challenge our whole family to think hard about what money means and what spending wisely can do for the whole team.
  • There are months when the cash budget is just not feasible, and we don't sweat it. When we travel, we stick to the cards and try not to limit ourselves. We don't take a vacation until we know that we're free to really live it up and the sky's the limit. We don't go on date nights until we know that the entire menu is up for grabs. When we go shopping for clothes, it's usually without a budget, and we don't have to feel guilty because we can look at each other and say, "Oh yeah, we really deserve this one!"
  • I also appreciate that I can look at my budget and gas and groceries are totally figured out, just like the bills. We don't have to guess about what's available to us, because I know that it's $280 a week, plain and simple. Whatever's left after the cash and bills goes straight to savings.
  • Part of what I really like about our budget as we have it now is that it forces me to examine what motivates us. Knowing that I need to stay in a few days a week leaves me so much more open to spending the entire day on a project with the kids, planning an hour long picnic in the living room for Wednesday, saying "no" to a playdate because it just won't jibe with our greater plan, etc. I love knowing that those days are sacred to us for so many reasons. When it comes to family, nothing can be nicer than a day of nothing, especially with little ones. The days of nothing are over way too fast! And at the end of the day, we may have eaten something from the freezer that I really wasn't in the mood for, but the food wasn't important in the first place. It's only there to get us from one place to the next. What's important is that we spent a day enjoying a simple life AND I put $40 back in the pot!
  • We do borrow from other days if the need arises. If I know I really need a trip to the store on Monday and my calendar is totally clear for Wednesday, I'll take $80 to the store and mark Wednesday off as a do-nothing day. If Andrew knows we're not going out on Thursday and he really needs gas on Tuesday, he'll take enough to fill the tank all at once. It's sort of like a puzzle to us, and when you're a stay-at-home-mom, anything can entertain you!
So that's the gist. I've found that the cash budget has made us more honest and forthcoming to ourselves and the people around us. It's amazing how those four little words open up so much between people. Having the courage to say, "I can't afford that" really brings about a sigh of relief from so many sides. Most of us can't afford things here and there. Some of us can't afford much, much of the time. Being willing to expose the fact that you're on a budget seems to be something that people appreciate. Whether it's totally voluntary like in our case, or something you do because you absolutely need to make ends meet, people love to hear that they're not alone. I really wonder how much less people would suffer if they realized that the people around them are suffering just as much. I've found that just saying, "It's not in the budget" suddenly makes me more relatable and somehow understanding. I love that. A person should never feel like they have to measure up in terms of money. It's all so fluid anyway, and you never really know when it could be totally gone! My best advice is to treat it like it's slipping away and be very, very careful. Isn't that the way we should treat anything of value?

My sweet angel.

I could just eat her up!

People ask me,

"when are you going to stop having kids?"
My standard response is, "when we get an ugly one."

Almost makes you think...

...she's not a totally nutso two-year-old who lacks all self-control...

Spring portraits!

If these kids were any cuter, it would be a crime.

corny mo.

Note the mark on her face from the huge spill she took. Everyone but Daddy came home injured!

Turkey leg for the victor!

Happy Hour!

Stretching before the race'

Yummy racer!

My cute husband about to smoke the competition!

End of the Warrior Dash 17 April 2011

16 April 2011

Molly's "A" game.

Spring portraits, Molly style.
Grandma Susie's grandma, Anna Rarity. Is she the cutest thing you've ever seen, or what?

Hello, weekend!

It's 6:30 am and I'm in the middle of a "no, it's not time to get up yet" morning with the girls. They're allowed to get up at 7, so they're in there chatting. I just took mo her usual morning juice cup and she freaked out because she wanted milk. This from a child who has refused to drink milk for 6 months. All of a sudden, she'll only drink milk...I'm pregnant and tired and distracted, so I really don't have the energy to investigate further. I'm just chalking it up to Molly being the strongest-willed person in our family. If Molly hates juice, we'll all hate juice.

Looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day! We'll be attending 4pm mass tonight because Andrew is running the Warrior Dash tomorrow morning! He's pretty excited, so I hope the weather is great tomorrow. Tomorrow evening we're going to dinner at Lucy's "best fend's" house, so it'll be the perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

We don't have much planned for Holy Week - lots of quiet time and relaxing. We'll be turning the tv off from Sunday night to Sunday night to keep things more focused and prayerful, and I plan to do a craft or activity with the kids each day. On Tuesday we'll be having a little get-together here with the usual suspects, which will be fun, and on Friday we'll be doing the Stations of the Cross for children in the morning.

36 weeks today! I truly cannot imagining carrying this baby to 41.5 weeks like I did Lucy. 38 weeks will be more than enough, thank you very much? I have an appointment Monday am and should have more details about the surgery and hospital stuff then. We will be delivering a week earlier than most sections, but baby is looking good and my OB is confident that we'll be good to go by then. Andrew's dad is being ordained as a deacon in the Church on May 14, so my OB said he'd go a week earlier to see if we couldn't get me healed up enough to be able to let Andrew travel to MD for the weekend! What a guy. Based on my previous recoveries and our amazing and well-behaved children, we think Andrew will be able to slip away, but we're playing it by ear anyway. If things are looking and feeling good, he'll buy a ticket near the end of that week and make a little weekend trip. He'll be going back to work after that weekend anyway, so I'm not too concerned. Can't wait to see pictures from the ordination - thank goodness everyone we know will be there! I'd love to send one of the girls with him, but that will depend on ticket prices, of course..Molly is usually the traveling companion of choice, as she's the one who takes the most effort for whomever is staying behind, but I think in this case it might be better to keep the girls together as we adjust to the newest accomplice..like I said, it's all about flexibility!
Well, I'm 5 minutes away from the running of the girls, so I'm going to figure out some breakfast options and find some clothes. Mornings sure do start early in a house full of toddlers!

15 April 2011

Oh Lucy....

We were driving past Daddy's office today, and saw a big C130 close to the road on the tarmac, probably getting loaded up with something. I said, "Look girls, a huge plane! I wonder where it's going!"

Lucy replied, "Oh, it's going to Maryland."

"Going to Maryland?" I asked.

Lucy thought for a minute and said, "Well, I guess it could be coming from Maryland, too..."

Because as you know, planes only do two routes. From Maryland, and to Maryland.

Make this a repeating event?

----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew
Sent: 04/15/11 11:44 AM
To: Laura
Subject: make this a repeating event?
Well, SharePoint is asking me? What do you think? Same time next year? ;-)

14 April 2011

nail knowledge and high-speed winds.

Andrew and the girls are on their way to gymnastics, and I hung back to put dinner on the table when they get home. Since I really don't need to start cooking for another half hour, I thought I'd enjoy the quiet house for a few minutes. This really never happens around here! Don't get me wrong, I'm rarely in the mood for silence, but it's nice to be able to organize my thoughts and sit quietly with Baby.

We had a pretty good day today. After naps we went outside and I decided to do my nails since it was nice and windy. I can't really blow on my nails without getting lightheaded, so I figured I'd let Mother Nature do the work for me. It's just gorgeous outside this week, and the girls set up a "wace" in the driveway and were having a wonderful time while Mommy manicured.

I am really feeling this pregnancy today. Whew. I'm just so tired and aching everywhere. I can't really imagine two more work-weeks of this. We've mostly stayed in this week, which is really what I need to get through. If we do go out, we keep it short and easy. This morning we were out the door by 8am and we just went to vacuum the car and made a stop at Walmart for a little milk. Easy peasy. The girls like to get out and do things, but at their ages a 15-minute trip to Walmart is as exciting as a plane trip to Rio, so I really don't feel bad. I don't think it's the physical stuff that's bothering me so much as the monotony. But, it sure beats being completely out of commission by 3pm when we overdo it. I'm having a really hard time with the "tv guilt" as the girls are doing a little more screen time than usual lately. Today I made a really good effort to keep it off all day long and just power through, and they really played well and were just angels all day long.

I've gone back to a 100% cash budget lately and we're really enjoying it. My goal is to live on $20 a day and I would say that for the most part, we're succeeding. That's super tough with the way gas prices are right now, but Andrew and I are having fun trying to decide where to use our $20's and prioritizing better. I actually budget $40 a day and try my hardest to just use the $20, so that at the end of the week we can either do something fun or put the remainder of our week's cash into the bank. Right now all of those extra $20's are going into the "Baby Week Fund." When you have people in the house, in the hospital and in the car, it's really hard to keep track of the old checking acccount. I know that with each baby we end up doing a lot of takeout during the first week, and when you combine that with impromptu Target trips and sending people to the store, it's just easier to have a big wad of cash to handle it instead! I think that might be one of my top tips for the first two weeks with a new baby. Cash, cash, cash! We've done it that way with both previous deliveries and boy is it nice to be able to just not think about money and really just concentrate on the important stuff.

As far as the "why" of the cash-based system, I grew up watching Grandma Susie manage her money. She spent so much extra time letting Nina and I count the money, look at the bills, make bank runs, decide how to spend without overspending, things that are so vital to managing a household. When we use a cash system, we can lay it all out and really think about what we need and what we just want. Today at Walmart, I had $24. My list had milk, ground beef, swiffer solution and apple juice. I got 3 gallons of milk at $2.19 each, skipped the swiffer solution because I can clean the kitchen floor fine without it, swapped the juice for yogurt because the girls should be drinking water anyway, agonized over the price of ground beef and went with 2 pounds instead of 3. I never do that. We're very fortunate to be able to just head to the store and shop. But when I work these things out with Lucy and ask her what she thinks we really, really need, she makes great choices. When she sees me put things back and pick things up because I only have $24 on me, she sees that living on a budget isn't something to be ashamed of, but something to be smart about. We may very well end up having to live on $20 a day someday. I can never know what the future holds. If I can do it with two kids, I can do it with three. That kind of example is what creates frugal kids, so we make it work. Swiping my card all the time makes the money look imaginary to the kids, so having the cash has been really interesting for them.

I am still doing other shopping on Amazon, but that works well because I really just get what I need and have a chance to think it through. When I "go shopping," I end up picking things up and getting home only to think, "Huh?' I actually ordered nail polish online yesterday. It does seem odd, but I knew all I wanted was to replace the orange nail polish I'm almost out of. If I do that at Target, I suddenly need new nail files, something for the girls, mascara, jelly beans, whole wheat penne, you get the idea. I'm using Amazon Prime now; not paying shipping AND getting everything here in two days is pretty much changing my life. Love it!

Well, I'm off to use up my pricey ground beef in an Unstuffed Pepper Casserole - some for us, the rest for the freezer! How much do I not want to chop up Bell peppers right now? Yuck. At least my nails are done!

Thursday Says...

First of all, our fence fell down. We had a nasty storm and about half of the fences in our neighborhood are down. So, needless to say, there are stray dogs everywhere. It's actually becoming a problem, dogs all over the place!

Eating apples and being silly!

Napping among the bounty of babies.

Lucy made a Bendaroo man on her toy bin - this is actually her VERY FIRST artistic endeavour that actually looks like a person. I was so excited!

So I didn't think I got a good picture of Lucy with her creation, and as she popped out of my view, I said, "Hey, put your head back!"

As you can see, we're raising a family of good listeners.

13 April 2011

Breakfast Chatter

So we were all eating our Cheerios this morning and Lucy and I had this conversation. (Keep in mind that Lucy talks like a 35-year-old and is completely deadpan most of the time.)

"So, I completely forgot to RSVP last week, but I can call the bookstore this morning to see if there's anymore room at the Fancy Nacy party this weekend. Would you like a little afternoon out with Mommy to lunch and the bookstore?"

"Well, what do they do at a Fancy Nancy party?"

"It says here...dress in your smock and beret for an artist party."

"Hmm...the best I can do is a tutu."

"Right. Painting outside like Claude Monet..."

"...I have problems staying in the lines."


"I don't know very many songs."

"Okay...story time?"

"I only know like, 4 letters."

"Wow. Snacks?"

"Well, I can always eat. Sign me up."

35.5 weeks...

...2.5 more weeks of this belly!

Caldecott, Indeed...

Here's a little story from Lucy. I sense a bit of Hemingway in there somewhere. Tragedy, wry humor, friendship, it's all there...

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Alison. She went into the skooky forest. It was the skookiest forest. She played and played and then a skooky monster ran across the field and into the woods. His name was Skooky.

He went in the forest and he was chasing the little girl. And THEN when he was chasing, it found it's mom and dad so it's stopped! Then she was not scared. THE END. And then she went home!

clearly she has her mama's patience with biking.

12 April 2011

i should note...

it hasn't been confirmed that the bone is a cat bone. we just assume. Lucy thinks it's a dinosuar bone, so let's just keep that one circling, shall we? i refuse to take her to smithsonian while she thinks she's actually digging up dinosaur bones at the creek. let that imagination fly, girl!

why i never get a thing done.

Bones from dead cats, adorable sleeping toddlers, trying to figure out how exactly my firstborn ended up with bright red hair and blue-green eyes, wondering why Molly sleeps like a praying angel and spends her days with a devious look in her eye...these things occupy a lot of my time.

if i'm going to put my fooot in my mouth, i don't need help.

What a day. Just a aside before I start venting; I am so going to use wallpaper somewhere in my house once we buy. I feel daring. Oh, that reminds me. The lake house is OUT. Apparently the ma who owns it actually wants more than his list price and isn't willing to share that information until after you begin to negotiate with him. Crazy? Yes. Surprising? No. People are crazy everywhere. SO, we're going to hang up our spurs for the time being and enjoy all the baby hullaballoo, and then come at it again in July when I'm healed up and our visitors have slowed down a little. I think sweet Alison and Mama Cooke will be here around then and I think that by joining forces with my awesome mother-in-law, Andrew will be defenseless and will buy me my dream house. One can dream, you know.
So I went to my mom's group meeting this morning and ended up making an a** of myself yet again. Usually it's the things I say, but today it was actually something I said that was totally not heard correctly. So we're sitting there listening to a somewhat odd talk on a lay apostolate group called Schoenstatt. I had never heard of them, and we in the Catholic Church need to be careful about renewal groups and apostolates, as they can sometimes take the focus off of the center of the Church and the mission of Roman Catholicism. After Regnum Christi had their incredibly difficult stumble with Father Maciel, it's important to really research the groups you join and to make sure that any group is truly accountable to Rome.
My question was as follows: "I grew up in the Regnum Christi movement and I'm a little wary of renewal movements within the Church. How does Schoenstatt avoid looking like a cult of personality as far as following Father Kentenich and work to remain transparent and accountable to the Vatican, the Diocese and individual parishes?" It seemed like a straightforward question. At the time. I just didn't realize that all everyone would hear was the word "cult." Ah me...
Her reaction wasn't so great and the word "cult" bounced off the walls for the remainder of the meeting. One of her last remarks was, "And like Laura asked about us being a cult..." Ahhhhhhhh....as it turns out, I think my question was worth asking, as it turned out I still feel like I know nothing about the group and that their focus may be too far from the Sacrifice of the Mass and true nature of the Church.
So, yeah. Anyway.
The ladies and I grabbed lunch from KFC on the way home and popped by Andrew's office for a picnic outside with Daddy. The wind down here is always a lot to deal with, so we took advantage of the eerily still and sunny day to lay out our chicken and potato wedges and fill Daddy in on the events of the morning. When we got home, the girls played outside for awhile and I looked for Andrew's missing cell phone. (Found. Laura 1, Blackberry 0)
As the girls sat in the sandbox and chattered, I heard Lucy talking to Molly about sticking her hand in a bucket of sand. Molly really didn't want to stick her hand in it and Lucy was so insistent. She said to Molly, "Mo, you've gotta try new things. If you don't try things, you'll never know what's fun." Molly look at her warily and said, "Oh, I know fun."
How proud am I to have a little girl who knows the importance of trying new things? Andrew and I are big on new things and big adventure, and we constantly tell Lucy that she needs to try things to see what she likes. We're more of a "try new things" family than a "make good choices" family. I think that both Andrew and myself would agree that it's better to repair mistakes than to never put yourself out there. How awesome that Lucy, who is smaller than most of the things she tries, is bold enough to tell the people around her to keep trying things. She is truly her Daddy's daughter. As soon as she finished telling Mo to stick her hand in the sand, she asked me, "Mama, how far away is China?" I said, "Well, it's a longer plane ride than Maryland, because you have to go over the sea." She replied, "Well, can we go there soon? I think I'd like seven friends from China."
Sounds like a trip to China is in order - seven friends is far too many to miss out on.

Laura Cooke

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." ~ Mother Teresa
Planted & Blooming (blog)

11 April 2011

Teen Music Listening Linked to Depression - Discovery News



After a hard day, it's easy to take refuge in your favorite musical artist. But for teens, frequent music listening might be tied to a more serious case of the blues, according to new research.

In a study featured in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers found an association between major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, and increased music listening among 106 preteens and teens.

To map media use among the group, the research team used one-way cell phones to call subjects at various times during weekends. Of the group, 46 teens had already been diagnosed with depression and were receiving treatment.

NEWS: Sleeping With TV on Linked to Depression

By answering questions over the phone, teens reported in real time whether they were using the Internet, watching TV or movies, listening to music, playing video games, or reading print material such as a magazine or book.

After gathering data on each teen's activities for five weeks, the researchers found a relationship between music listening and depression -- individuals with depression were more likely to be immersed in music over other forms of media .

On average, the researchers also found that teens who read books were less likely to be depressed.

Determining why teens living with depression might prefer music isn't exactly clear. Scientists think the positive and negative effects of music may influence this trend. For instance, teens may seek happy and uplifting music when they're feeling down, or they might favor sad music that gives them comfort in others' sadness.

In addition, the research group doesn't know whether depressed teens' reliance on music is a circular problem. Are they more drawn to music, or does some music make teens more depressed?

NEWS: Music to Your Ears?

Avoidance of reading begs a similar question -- does reading stave off depression in teens, or do depressed teens abstain from the activity intentionally? Previous research supports the idea that teens with depression avoid cognitively intense activities and opt for low-intensity ones, such as watching TV or listening to music, instead, the authors write.

The team also says its research needs to be replicated before being generalized to include all teens, especially because the subjects were handpicked for this specific study.

Understanding how people cope with depression or even whether exposure to certain media makes it worse may help create better treatment for teens and the 20 million adults living with the condition in the United States.

Photo: Matt Browne/Flickr.com


now we're ALL ready!

Even the blog is ready for Baby's arrival! What joy, what bliss! Please note, I have installed post dividers. It was a labor of love, so you'd better love them as much as I do...my blog now looks like the inside of an Anthropologie store. My work here is done.

Can't stop laughing.

Molly explores Play Doh fashion.

As heard from the kitchen.

This was a conversation between Lucy (who is endlessly patient) and Molly (who is 2) while they were playing with Play-Doh. Pretty sure this is a word-for-word account.

"Mowwy, can you hand me the orange ice cream cone?"


"Can you hand me the ice cream cone?"


"Can you hand me the ice cream cone?"


"Ice cream cone. Right there."


"The orange one - right there."


"Look, right next to your hand."

"Oh. Okay. Why?"

"Because I'm making ice cream."


"I said I'm making ice cream."


"Ice cream."


"Ice cream. In a cone."

"Oh. I eat dat."

"No, it's not for you."

There are still days when I can't even breathe for all the grief inside me. Three times a week, maybe more, I find myself crying when I pick up the phone and wish I could call Grandma to have a laugh. Her joy-filled laugh is something I need most days when I have these girls hanging from my legs and another baby trying to get out of my belly button.

Grandma Susie just loved babies. Any baby at all. She'd hold them and kiss them and bounce them until her arms positively gave out. And then she'd pick them up again and do it all over again. Couldn't stay away from the babies. She was so tickled that we weren't going to find out the sex of the baby. That's how it was supposed to be, she said. She was always ready with an excited "oooooh!" and was so excited about finding out what we were having.

Grandma would have been waiting with her phone in her hand on May 3rd. I just hope that she already knows who this little one is and is already celebrating. The thought of not hearing her jump out of her chair with excitement makes my heart so heavy. It feels like for all the love and excitement in the room, something will be missing from my joy.

I know that there wasn't a day in Grandma's adult life that she didn't wish she could pick up her own phone and call her own grandma for a laugh. She never stopped talking about how much she adored her and missed her "best friend." I know that I'll get back there someday, when I can speak about these things out loud again. For now, my blog doesn't worry when I cry, so I keep it here and in my heart.

As for today, it sucks to miss someone.

10 April 2011

3 weeks to go. Whew.

Well, another weekend down. We spent the entire day today just playing and relaxing. I got some stuff made and into the freezer, which is good. The freezer has been empty for months, but I know the clock is ticking and I'll be glad I did it later! We did a huge batch of French Toast and wrapped them in serving sizes and put them in freezer bags for breakfasts and snacks, and then I did a double batch of the Pioneer Woman's Mac-and-Cheese. If you've never had it before, it'll blow your mind. Sort of like candy for dinner. Got three 8x8 casseroles into the freezer and had a little for lunch, too! Tomorrow we're going to do a big batch of snickerdoodles and a triple batch of Unstuffed Peppers. Hooray! I'm hoping to come up with a few more ideas this week and get some more done before the weekend. We shall see.

French toast + 35 weeks pregnant and hungry = more than I planned for.

Let's see. Oh, we did mani/pedis today. Very important to start the week with good nails. Andrew and Lucy went fishing and Lucy came home with quite the sunburn. It was totally cloudy and they were only out for about an hour, but she managed to grow quite the burn on her shoulders as the day wore on. I hate the way sunburns never really show themselves all the way until it's too late to do anything about it. Mo and I stayed in and I got some sewing done while she chattered on the floor. She's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Her talking is just hilarious and she says some of the craziest stuff. Today Lucy came out with a Mr. Potato head and said it was Mommy. Seconds later Molly came tearing out with her own and said, "See my Daddy-Mommy?"
Just after taking this picture, I realized she looked like a street urchin and I put her hair up. I promise.

She just loves her Potato Heads and will spend ages in the playroom by herself, building and talking to herself. 

Lucy is doing great and is getting very excited about being a big sister for the second time. She totally understands that we still don't know if it's a boy or a girl and she keeps saying, "Well, we'll love it either way, won't we?" She's mastered changing Molly's diaper, which is actually a huge help! Obviously, she sticks to wet diapers, but Molly is incredibly compliant and will do just about anything anyone tells her, so Lucy has no issues controlling her. Molly thinks it's great that Lucy is actually taking over her parenting as well, so she's thrilled with the arrangement. Being the little sister, Molly lives and breathes following directions from Lucy. They're in their bedroom as I type this and Lucy is trying to tell her how to get our attention. "You have to yeww wiwwy wiwwy woud and they can hear you then, okay?"

Well, time for River Monsters! Off to bond with my dearly beloved over giant killer fish!