Sunday, May 31, 2009

Well...

I was trying to think of something really exciting and different to do for my 300th blog post here, and I came up blank. Sorry, readers, next time.

Today we were going to head to Patapsco State Park to complete another portion of Park Quest 2009. After nap, we had lunch and grabbed some water and started heading that direction. I had a brain fart moment. I had just read earlier today on the website that this particular quest needed to be started before 3pm. Luckily, before we got too far, I realized that it was already 3:15pm. Slight oversight on my part. We quickly formulated a Plan B and headed to the quiet, neighborhood park that we went to last year.

We learned that it has a name: Holiday Hills Park.

Josh and Jillian played on the swings and the two playgrounds. Jillian preferred the "big kids" playground, of course. And as usual, Jillian was her daredevil self and amazed me yet again with her abilities. I've got a bunch of pictures, but so as to not bore you all, I'm going to post these two.

This is Jillian trying to climb up the chain ladder. I didn't think she'd make it all the way up. WRONG. She made it all the way up without any of my help! (although I did go stand within arm's reach as she approached the top)

When we got home, I pulled out the baby pool so she could take a dip. Her little swim didn't last that long, because today she figured out how to get in and out of the pool. So much for containment!

Friday, May 29, 2009

All Day Playmate

Today I watched my friend Lisa's littlest boy Luke. He's about five weeks Jillian's senior. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the day went just fine. Jillian awoke to find her playmate already settled in and playing with her toys. I was a bit concerned that this would freak her out, but she met him with a big smile!

We watched a little Sesame Street and part of Mary Poppins, napped, ate, played in the baby pool (for the few minutes of sunshine that we had today!), snacked, napped again, and played some more. I'll add here that Jillian does not love change to her "routine". She laid down for two naps today, but may have slept for a total of 30 minutes, max. This made for a cranky baby come the end of the day. Here are a couple pictures from our day today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Soon?

We've reached the point in our parent/toddler relationship where disciplinary action is necessary and NO just doesn't cut it all the time. I read somewhere that a good rule of thumb for time-outs is one minute for each year of age. When Jillian acts up repeatedly, sometimes Daddy will hold her on his lap for 2-3 minutes while she settles down, since a strong NO will elicit one of two responses - laughter (when I say it) or meltdown tears (when Daddy says it). I set up the Pack'N'Play in our bedroom this afternoon for time-outs and had to give her one this evening. Too soon? It was effective, because the next time she tried to do that for which she was punished, and I said NO, she listened.

On a completely unrelated note, Jillian had a wonderful Kodak moment tonight. Of course, there was no camera nearby. I was drawing her bath and left her in the bathroom to run downstairs and throw her bottle in a cup of hot water to warm up somewhat. I returned to the bathroom to find my clothed and diapered baby sitting in her bubble bath. So here I stood, cracking up at the baby in the bathtub in her clothes, with nary a camera to be found. :-(

I'll try to do better with pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



It's not totally wordless, because at first glance, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "What's so special about THIS picture?". Here I was this afternoon, on my computer, and I hear banging on our window. I look over to see that it's coming from Jillian. No biggie, except that she's STANDING on her jungle toy. And I had NO idea how she got up there (well, obviously, she climbed - DUH). It got better though, as she proceeded to crawl across the narrow window sill!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Need to Know Tuesday, Vol. 5

No matter how hard we try, we run into weeks where we have a cash crunch. As many of you know, John has officially left his full-time job for a part-time job that gives him some additional free time to spend with our own company, Enercient Systems Technologies. While we tried our best to plan for the new expenses we'd have (a truck payment, additional car insurance, our own health insurance, etc.), there are some months that we just come up short. And I don't think we're alone, especially in this economy.

I've done what I can to cut our household costs. I've cut back my cell phone plan. I joined Sams Club. I price-shopped Target, Walmart, Harris Teeter, and Sams Club item by item for our "regular purchases" to find out which store has the best value for each thing (I have a nifty little grid of this that I was going to post, but then realized that there may be some "personal" items on the list that not everyone wants to know about...). I canceled our Columbia Association membership that came up for renewal. We're still members until June 16th, but I figured out that even if we visit the pool 2-3 times/week during the summer, we still pay TONS less that keeping our membership that we never use the rest of the year. We got a more energy efficient washer and dryer. We signed up for BGE's PeakRewards program (they're coming to set it up this week, so we really haven't seen these savings yet). I've been more anal about turning off lights, unplugging cell phone chargers, etc. I even have some CFL's in our house. I'm out of ideas.

So this week, I need to know...what are you doing to save money when times are tight?

What I Learned This Week, Vol. 2



What did you learn this week? Check out Musings of a Housewife's "What I Learned this Week", read about what other people learned, and link back to what you learned this week!

* Jillian loves the Beastie Boys. In the car on the way to pick up my MIL for a cookout (which was really a cook-in because it rained), "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" came on the radio. Of all the songs that played while we were in the car, this is the only one that elicited a clapping and singing response from her. We're so proud!

* A holiday weekend can be full without being overwhelmingly busy. Often we have a tough time balancing spending time on weekends with family and friends with "down time", especially on holiday weekends. This weekend somehow was relaxing and still full. Friday afternoon I took Jillian to my mom's house for an overnight visit. Friday night John and I went to Wolftrap to see A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, which was very nice! Saturday we went to my mom's house, picked up Jillian, and headed over to a friend's house to visit for a while before heading home. Sunday was church and a relaxing afternoon. Monday we picked up my MIL in Crofton and headed down to Waldor to my FIL's house for a cookout. Tons of visiting with friends and family, yet amazingly, we didn't over-commit ourselves.

** After a fun evening, it's always best to head home rather than go somewhere else. What I mean is, after you've seen a concert, go home. Don't go to a brewery nearby since you're in the area. It's already late and it's just going to get later. After the nice relaxing show at Wolftrap, we decided to go to Sweet Water Tavern. It wasn't far from where we were and I've never been, but John used to frequent it and bring home some tasty growlers of beer when he worked down there. And it was kind of a letdown. The place was nice and quiet for a Friday evening. The beer selection was downright disappointing though. The only dark beer they had on tap was a...wait for it...Chipotle Porter. Seriously, who on earth thinks that smoked peppers have a place in beer?!? I gave this one a double-asterisk because we've learned it before. All it leads to is being tired, more hungover, and broker in the morning.

* See previous item - never try a Chipotle Porter. Need I say more?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Translation Anyone?

Jillian has been doing LOTS of babbling lately. She's often quite serious about what it is she's communicating and will talk for hours! This was the most I could capture on video; she magically clams up when the camera comes out. It's very cute, but I sure wish I knew what she was talking about!


Jillian reminded us of some valuable lessons today, too.

#1: Every princess needs a crown.

#2: Never forget to stop and smell the flowers.

#3: Sticking out our bottom lip will get us just about anything.

And just as quickly as mommy made her first attempt at actual pigtails...

Jillian, not surprisingly, learned to pull them out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Next Joker?

First there was Jack Nicholson

Then there was Heath Ledger

Is Jilly the next joker?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Trial Run

Jillian is spending tonight at my parents' house as sort of a trial run for our upcoming vacation in June. She's spent the night there before, but we usually set up her PeaPod in the living room near my parents' room. For a whole week visit though, we thought it best that she sleep upstairs in the pretty guest room. So tonight is her "trial run" sleeping upstairs alone. I packed up the baby monitor and the baby's stuff and carted her up there earlier. I think Jillian will do just fine. Mom has done a great job getting things for her to play with there that she loves!

The small, antique, rocker that we got as a gift was a big hit!

And NiNi picked up a baby stroller for Jillian to push around too, which clearly will be the best thing ever!

John and I are going to see Garrison Keillor doing A Prairie Home Companion tonight at Wolftrap. I can't wait! Wolftrap is one of my favorite venues. Not only does it feel quiet and scenic, you can take your own food and beverages! Score for a picnic on the lawn. Beer: check; wine: check; cheese spread: check; crackers: check; salami: check; grapes: check.

Hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day weekend!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I Learned This Week, Vol. 1

I've been meaning to do a "What I Learned This Week" post for some time now, but this week I actual remembered some of the things I learned! So here goes.

1. I learned to check the pantry before cooking. I am an avid list maker, and the term "anal" comes to mind when I talk about my grocery list making. Sure that my list-making skills have been perfected, I began cooking spaghetti with meat sauce Tuesday night. I got my defrosted ground beef in the pan and cooking and went to gather the rest of my ingredients. Only to open the pantry, pull out a box of spaghetti, and realize that I had NO SAUCE. I opened the fridge. NO SAUCE. Ugh! Thankfully John was home and I rushed off to the grocery store around 6:30pm (double Ugh!) to get sauce for dinner. No longer will I start dinner until I am certain that I have all the necessary ingredients.

2. I learned that carabiners are awesome teethers (see my earlier blog post this week). I found these on John's laptop bag.

Jillian loves chewing on keys and other metal things when her gums hurt. These are perfect! They're too big for her to choke on, smooth metal, and the loop fits perfectly in the holes where her canines will (eventually) emerge.

3. I learned that there is no affordable, quick, and easy method of hair removal. I tried the Smooth Away this week. While it works, my hair is so coarse that to actually use it all the time, I'd have to by 'refills' of the buffing pads every week, or more. Oh well, it'll work in a fix, but I'm still searching. Too bad laser hair removal is so darn expensive!

So what did you learn this week? Head on over to Musings of a Housewife and link up with your lessons learned - and read about lessons other bloggers learned!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pool Fun at Home

Last week, I picked my readers' brains about whether to get a pool or sprinkler for our at home summertime fun. The consensus was: A POOL! And score, I found one at Walmart yesterday. I had looked at Walmart before to no avail...they had them hidden, those sneaks, in the lawn & garden area. So yesterday we brought home our baby pool. And lo and behold, today's weather just screamed to me, "Try out the new pool!". We did. Jillian was a little puzzled about it at first, but quickly decided she liked it. Except that she didn't want to sit in it. She played in the pool for about an hour this afternoon and stood up just about the entire time. Well, at least I know she'll sleep good tonight!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Need to Know Tuesday, Vol. 4

Today's post is more of an "I Want to Know".

What do I want to know you ask? I want to know, for my parent readers out there, is what did you say before you had kids that you've reneged on? What I mean is, before you had kids, what did you see other parents/children doing that made you say, "I'LL never let my kids do THAT!". Or, "I'll NEVER do THAT!". Those of you without kids, feel free to weigh in, too! I know you have friends with kids, nieces, nephews, etc. Or, what do you see parents/kids doing that you "would NEVER let yours do"?

My list of these is long, but what made me want to do this post, is a moment that I had over the weekend. Jillian stayed with her Paw-Paw and Bubby this past Friday night so that John and I could attend WordCamp Mid-Atlantic on Saturday (we even had time for a movie Friday night, too!). We all went out to dinner when we picked up Josh and Jillian on Saturday evening. Jillian was dirty, but at dinner, she exhibited her usual exuberance for food and rubbed chili into her hair. And chili caked hair just doesn't cut it for church Sunday morning. Realizing that by the time we got home from Southern Maryland (well after bedtime), it would be too late to give her a bath, I did some quick thinking. And did something that was never on my "I would NEVER do THAT!" list. Simply because I had never seen it done. I ran out to the car, grabbed her sleeper from her overnight bag. I whisked my dirty, chili covered babe off to the ladies room and proceeded to lean her back and "wash" her hair in the sink at Hard Times Cafe. This was not a pleasant experience for either me or Jillian, but we came out of the bathroom with relatively clean (at least, food free) hair, clean diaper and clean sleeping clothes donned. My mix of emotions swung from proud of myself ("I'm so creative!") to terribly embarrassed ("I can't believe I just did that!").

So spill it for me faithful blog readers...what have you done with kids that you never, ever thought you'd do?

Monday, May 18, 2009

One of THOSE Days

Sorry, no exciting pictures today. Because it was one of THOSE days. Not a bad day really, just frustrating. I had a list of things to do, including stops like: bank, Walmart, library. I did all of these things. Which normally would leave me feeling productive.

Except...

I have to go to the bank again tomorrow to deposit a check that came in the mail today (really, I can't complain about that!).

I have to go to Walmart tomorrow because we are down to about five diapers and I forgot my $3 off coupon today and the one I went to didn't carry the cat litter my cat likes. He's picky. And that wouldn't bother me normally, except that it's a Walmart generic. Shouldn't all Walmarts carry it?

I have to go to the library tomorrow, because I had a cd that was due and I put it in my purse. Only I didn't take my purse, I took our library bag.

Sort of takes away from the productive feeling of getting my errands crossed off today's list. Ever have one of those days?

Outdoor Baby

Jillian loves going outside. Even on days like today, when I insisted that it was too cold. Upon my insistence that it wouldn't be a nice day to go outside this afternoon...

Coming back inside after our "walk" wasn't her favorite thing, and she decided she wanted a toy that was in her pack 'n play. Clearly, I wasn't fast enough getting it out...

Always my little monkey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nosey Baby

Both Mommy and Daddy are loud nose-blowers around here, so Jillian has a couple good examples from which to learn appropriate technique. When she first tried blowing her nose, she'd hold the tissue to her face, but make the noise with her mouth. Somewhere along the way, she corrected her technique, and actually blows her nose now!

My Gym Pays Off!

Jillian mounts the apparatus...

...she poses for the camera...

...and a successful dismount for a perfect 10!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Joys of Columbia

While I have lived in the Ellicott City/Columbia area for almost 20 years now, I've never actually lived in Columbia "proper". What that means, is that I've never had nifty walking trails that connect to everywhere right in my backyard. We went geocaching today and found both caches for which we were searching. The second one led us down one such nifty trail off a court in a residential neighborhood and right to a tucked away mini-playground!

I guess every native "true-Columbian" knows about these, but this was my first experience stumbling on one. They're even numbered! This was KC4, I guess for Kings Contrivance 4. Cool. It had swings, which, for Jillian was the best part. It had a baby swing and a big kid swing, which I took full advantage of. Unfortunately, this is why mommy doesn't love swings. This is what happens when it's time to STOP swinging.

On the walk back, it was all about colors. We saw a black squirrel, who was too quick for me to get on camera. And a green fly. Now I'm sure everyone has seen these flies - they're the prettiest greenish-teal. Yes, it's still a gross fly, but I really liked the color!

And with Jillian on my back in the Ergo, I got another good workout!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Park Quest 2009 - Calvert Cliffs State Park

We took advantage of the wonderful weather today and drove down to Calvert Cliffs. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was super far away. It only took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get there this morning! I had a tip that a regular stroller might be a bit tough to manuever on the trail, so not having a jog stroller, I learned just how much that zipper pocket on our Ergo would hold. I was suitably impressed. I fit a sippy cup of water, two fruit bars, two cheese sticks, a baggie of wipes, two diapers, a change of baby clothes, two plastic bags (one for trash and one for shells and fossils), and my wallet/key chain. WOW. Jillian rode in the backpack for the 1.8 mile trek to the beach and again on the way back. I got a good workout.

The trail was a little mucky in places and was peppered with tree roots, but overall it was a nice walk. Tons of wildlife.





When we arrived at the beach, we encountered a couple that was leaving, and had the beach to ourselves for about an hour!





We collected some shells and fossils, but no shark teeth. I didn't think about taking something with which to sift through the silt! Oh well. We're definitely going back, so we'll find some shark teeth next time!

I Need to Know Tuesday, Vol. 3

Thank you all again for your input last week! I still haven't made a decision about our final communication plan, but I'm going to talk to Verizon and see what they offer for travel to the UK. I really like the idea of having my own phone and phone number so we can be reached. I'm also going to plan on picking up a prepaid calling card while we're there to call home and check in. Laptop will be the final backup. I'm sure we'll have at least one, but wifi access (and it's cost) may be an issue for part of our trip.

So this week, I need to know...

Pool or Sprinkler?

I want to get something for Jillian to cool off in this summer. So the big debate...a baby pool or a sprinkler? Here are my thoughts.

Pros of a sprinkler: it's quite mobile and I can put it wherever our grass needs watering. I can get a cute one for around $10.
Cons of a sprinkler: it seems like it would use a lot of water. And Jillian may not pay any attention to it if she has a choice.

Pros of a baby pool: it uses a finite amount of water. Jillian would be contained for a period of time in it.
Cons of a baby pool: I think it would be ordealish to carry it and dump the water where we need it for the yard. Here's the biggie, though...I can't find them! I've looked at Target and Walmart. I thought for sure they'd have them. But alas, pool toys - yes, baby pools - no. I also imagine that they'd cost a bit more than a sprinkler.

Loyal readers, what do you think?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Food Fun

For Jillian's afternoon snack today, I decided to let her try a popsicle. I figured it would give her a snack and relieve any tooth pain she may be having.

She wasn't so sure about it.

We had fajitas for dinner, and Jillian got to play with a spoon when we were done. She loved the sour cream best!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mama's Day 2009

We played it low-key today and had our mothers over to cookout for Mother's Day. Jillian enjoyed the food...especially the Berger's chocolate topped cookies that my mom brought.


She also enjoyed sipping on a Capri Sun.

My grandmother, Dottie, brought Jillian a piggy bank. She quickly got the hang of putting coins into it. And even quicker, she learned that Grandpa Charlie would give her more coins!


John took a couple pictures of our four generations. Left to right: Dottie, NiNi (my mom), me, Jillian.


Me and Jilly!

And Jillian found a new way to wear her shades!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bargains!

We went yard sale-ing this morning. Our plan was to hit six sales and we were armed with plenty of change. We ended up going to the six planned yard sales and went to two impromptu that we passed on the way home. We spent a grand total of $16.35. And came home with this for Jillian...

and these....

Added bonus for finding two books on our "wish list" to add to our permanent library. Apparently Jillian wants to read "big girl" books...hence "The Meanest Doll in the World".

Extra super bonus for finding a "classic" that I had as a kid - a Fisher Price Roly Poly Chime Ball!

I found this for us...

While we were at one yard sale, Jillian picked up some cars and acted like they were the coolest things she had ever seen. Needless to say, we have tons of cars at our house, so I didn't buy them for her. This afternoon, I fished out the circa 1973 (no, I'm not THAT old...it was just made in '73) Mercedes Matchbox car that I played with as a wee one. And she had tons of fun making it go "Vroom!".

When we went outside to play before dinner, I handed Jillian a caterpillar to learn about. I think her expression says it all!

Gus wanted a caterpillar too! Too bad this one was on the other side of the window!

Then I gave Jillian a bottle of water to enjoy outside...since she spills most water bottles all over herself.

A couple of nature thoughts to share: