Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Count Down To Christmas

This time, I was a little bit more organized than last year where I quite literally threw together an Advent calendar at the 11th hour.  In fact, only about the first seven or so of those envelopes were actually filled.  This time around, we've got cute little gift bags with numbers on them and about 75% of them filled (and plans on how to fill the rest, we just didn't have as much Halloween candy left over as I thought ;) ). 

I'm going to have to further improve how I hang these up for next year, but I'm still happy how the calendar turned out.  I know the girls will enjoy it, too.  I've included some activities, some little things and some candy again, just like last year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dress Up

I know what you are thinking ... how many more pictures of Vivian in a princess dress is Franziska going to post ... but this post is going to be a little bit different. 

As it turns out, Vivian is not the only one in this house who knows how to dress up in fancy gowns.  Vivian has been asking me for months to see my wedding dress.  I don't know what possessed me Friday morning, but I suddenly decided to pull it out and put it on.  It even still fits.  Vivian (of course) was also wearing a princess dress, Annelee is obviously still in her jammies (and my hair has not been brushed yet, but, oh well).  Still love that dress!  Vivian quite liked it too, wanted me to wear it all day.  I did not do that, though  ;)

To get back to our more normal schedule of photos, here are two photos of how Vivian went to church the last two Sundays.  It's a good thing our church is quite tolerant of "unique" dressers ... 

Christmas dress and purple leopard pants.  And enjoying the magnetic game she got from Grandma for her birthday

Yes, her expression is goofy.  Presenting:  jacket from Peru, leopard pants (again), "Christmas" socks, a bag Mommy made, and a dog carrier bag (with doggy) she got for her birthday
Last, but not least, she's also been very specific about the hairstyle she wants to sport for the day.  Her current favorite is pig tails with one of them braided and the other one not (as evidenced below).  The other day, she insisted on a pony tail and pig tails.  When I had finished and giggled at the result, she looked at me very seriously and said "Mommy, this is not funny.  It's beautiful".  Yes, you are - even (especially!) with your eclectic choice of clothes and hairstyles!
One day, I'll even use a comb to properly part her hair in the back

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

At The Playground

Over the last couple of weeks, we've had more than our fair share of unexpectedly warm(ish) and sunny weather and we've done our best to take advantage of it and cram in as many last playground visits as possible.

During these last few trips, I've started to really looking forward to next year's playground season, because Annelee has finally reached the point where she can find an "obstacle course" to do by herself.  Climb up some stairs, crawl across a bridge, go down a slide.  Crawl back to the stairs.  Start over.  Rinse, repeat.  She always goes down the slide on the belly, and always feet first - which is actually great when I take the girls alone and can't be at the top of the slide to make sure she doesn't tumble and at the bottom to catch her all at the same time.  I can just make sure she gets on her merry way and then clamber down and move her away from the bottom of the slide.

Vivian is getting quite good at making friends and finding other kids to play with.  We met a couple of girls and their Dad a week or so ago at a playground and when they left, they walked home.  The next time we went, Vivian said, let's go to my friends' house.  I think she really expected me to knock on all doors in the neighborhood and figure out where they live.  In fact, when they left the playground that time she even described to them where we lived so they could find us:  We have the house with the red door and corn on the door.  :)

Here are some random photos and videos from some of the more recent visits.

Readying the kite ... shame we ended up with no wind, hopefully next time

The Gypsy twins

Annelee on the race track, even though she's still not walking

Climbing her favorite steps

Click here if you can't see Vivian on her new scooter above.

Click here if you can't see Annelee ascending the playground steps.  Or click here for an alternate view why I am getting more and more gray hair and almost drop my camera at times!  For even more effect, open this song in a different tab and play at the same time (suggestion courtesy of Will).

And click here if you can't see Kyra and Annelee going down the rolling slide.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Well Visits

This was the last time that I was able to book the two girls' well visits together, so I took advantage of it.  Glad to have gotten it out of the way all in one afternoon, but it sure was a long time at the doctors.  A good part of that was the waiting.  To be called in, then for the doctor, and then for the nurse to administer shots.  All in all, we were there for two hours.  I had only put money in the parking meter for 1.5 hrs, so I'm very glad I managed to get away without getting a parking ticket.

I'm finally getting to the point with Annelee's visit where I have a post about Vivian's well visit at that same age to compare.  How fun.  I just read it and was contemplating copying and pasting about half of it because it applies to Annelee, too.  The other half is quite different for our two girls.

Annelee's vitals:
  • 32.5 inches (82.6 cm) - Vivian was 31.75 inches at that age
  • 26 lb 10 oz (12.1 kg) - Vivian was 24 lb 3 oz at that age
Vivian's vitals:
  • 44.75 inches (113.7 cm)
  • 44 lb (20 kg) - The official documentation from the Pediatrician says 42 lbs, but I'm pretty sure that's a typo, because I even commented on 44 & 44 being easy to remember.
Vivian announced prior to our trip that she did not want to go first and that she was afraid of shots.  Where that suddenly came from, I have no idea, she has always been fine about it, but nothing we said could convince her that it was not going to be absolutely horrible.

Weighing/measuring went ok, and then both girls stripped down to underpants / diapers and the wait for Dr. K. started.   We waited for close to half an hour.  Needless to say that the girls spent a good amount of time crawling all over that floor and chasing each other and having fun.

Finally, Dr. K came in and Annelee went first and was very good about being checked out.  Ears were okay (yay - despite her having a cold still/again).  Belly sounded fine, eye movement was smooth, after some misunderstanding we established that her language development is on track (even though on the slow side).  Her future ability to walk is certainly not a concern anymore.

We talked about her night-wakings and concluded that it may be some constipation, so we are going to try and address that.  I'm all for that if it allows me to spend all my nights asleep in my bed rather than about a night a week in the basement with Annelee.

Then it was Vivian's turn, and while she was rather reluctant, she let Dr. K do all her exams (clear ears on her, too, yay!) and even volunteered that we brush our teeth together sometimes so that she learns to do it properly.

When Dr. K talked about her "private parts" and how only the doctor could ask to see them and only if Mommy or Daddy were present and if Vivian agreed, I thought that was very good.  But then Vivian refused to let the pediatrician examine her.  Heh.  From the one or two questions on the way home, I think this will be an upcoming frequent topic in our house.  And that's a good thing I guess.  I have to give Dr. K credit for not just bringing up the topic, but then also not pushing when Vivian said she did not want to be examined.

While I talked to the pediatrician, Vivian was playing games on my phone (at the pediatrician's is pretty much the only time she gets to play them, so that's a big deal; and Annelee was playing with my car keys.  Not surprisingly, she was most interested in that bright red button.  And, sure enough, I suddenly heard a car alarm go off outside.  Luckily, I was able to also turn it off from inside the pediatrician's office.  :)

Then came time for shots.  Well, first more waiting, and crawling on the floor.  I'm sure I should've bathed the girls in bleach tonight before putting them to bed.

The nurse was pretty abrupt with Vivian, would not let her go second (probably a good thing), but I think she could've been a little more patient with her.  So, I took Vivian on my lap, held her arms in a big hug, squeezed her legs between mine, and, with tears streaming down her face well before the nurse came anywhere near her, we somehow managed to get her two shots administered.  Luckily, Vivian calmed down pretty quickly afterwards. 

Annelee was sitting on the floor with a detached and only slightly worried look of "Sorry, sis, but better you than me.  It is just you, right?  RIGHT?" on her face.  Boy was she wrong.  She was in for three shots.

Vivian grabbed my phone again, crawled under a chair, held her hands over her hear (she cannot stand Annelee crying), while I held Annelee down for her shots.  Her look went from outrage to "how can you let them do this to me" to "OMG I'm dying here!" in the space of the 4 or so seconds it took for the nurse to give her her vaccines and apply band aids.  Then I took the sobbing girl on my lap and tried to comfort her while she clawed at her band aids (the nurse had mentioned that the last one would sting).  She managed to rip them off almost immediately.  Luckily, she also calmed down pretty quickly after that.

Now, barring any trips to the pediatrician for illnesses, Vivian is off the hook for another year, and Annelee needs to go back at 18 months.  Whew.

Long post, and two days in a row without a picture of the girls, I know. I'll put some up again in the next post, I promise.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Feed Squirrels

Our local squirrels have been quite appreciative of the fact that we put all our Halloween pumpkins on the deck for them to snack on.  Vivian, in turn, has been delighted to watch them.

That's quite a turnaround from our initial pumpkin vs. squirrel experience.  We had bought our pumpkins and put them outside the front door.  The next morning, the squirrels had destroyed one of the little gourds that was going to be an eye for our pumpkin.  Vivian was distraught "They ate the eye!".    Since we did want to have pumpkins left to carve I moved the rest onto the deck, and thought nothing else of it.

When we returned from daycare that day, Vivian started sobbing.  It took me a while to figure out that she thought the squirrels had eaten all the pumpkins!  She was quite relieved when I was able to show her the pumpkins on the deck.

Enjoying his daily pumpkin snack

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Leaf Raking

There are still a ton of leaves on the trees, so there really wasn't much point to us raking them, except the weather was glorious and you can't find a fun & free activity for the girls much closer to home!

And, if nothing else, if it snows tomorrow, we can at least says we raked some of the leaves before the second snow of the season!

No, Annelee, leaf raking is serious business ...
Ok, maybe not that serious after all!
Daddy got in on the action, too.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Now, some would say it's a shame Vivian wasn't born 7 years earlier so she would be turning 11 on 11/11/11; but (a) I am most certainly not ready for an 11 year old yet, and (b) Vivian has grown so much already since her last birthday, that I'm happy for her to slow things down a bit.

So, instead she's turning 4, and - while she's not really aware of how cool the date is or how long it'll be (other than 12/12/12 next year) until such a cool date comes along again (01/01/2101) - she is very aware that her birthday is coming up.  Despite the fact that Will and I keep pointing out that her birthday is not until February and that she'll turn three.  There's no fooling this girl  ;)

She took cupcakes to pre-school yesterday (she doesn't go to pre-school on Fridays) and when she went to bed last evening and I told her she would be 4 when she wakes up, she got a big grin on her face.

Today, we'll be skyping with Omi and Grosspapa and Ullalalala, doing some shopping for tomorrow's party, open gifts, and I'm sure we'll be trying out that new scooter that she's finally getting.

Tomorrow, we'll have a little party with her (and our) friends at our house. Probably the last time that we can decide who is coming  ;)

Looking at the photos from just after her 3rd birthday, I can hardly believe that was just a year ago.  She still looks so toddler-like there (although at the time I thought she looked big, of course).  That's all gone.  She's truly a girl now.

She's all into princess stuff and playing doll houses, painting finger nails, Barbies, and imaginary play.  Lots of singing of songs, both real and made up, but also running around, climbing, dancing.

She's an expert negotiator (we fully expect her to become a famous lawyer) that never forgets anything.  Just the other day, she decided she could take a handbag to daycare because "it's not a toy" (and we don't allow toys at daycare).  She almost had me convinced.

Her favorite TV (well, DVDs) is the "Signing Times" series that we started watching again to teach Annelee some signs.  Vivian practically knows them all and actually uses them to have conversations with us.  She even chooses Signing Times over Disney cartoons in the morning!

She continues to be a fabulous big sister; and is always able to make Annelee giggle with her antics.

Happy 4th Birthday, my big little girl!

Her previous birthday posts can be found here:  One, two, three.

December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art for Kids

Katherine texted me the other day that she was taking Emma to a kids-art-thingamajig at the Frick Arts Museum on Saturday.  And who could possibly resist a thingamajig   :)  So, at the last minute, I told her I was joining her, and this is how we found ourselves in the Faberge exhibit at the Frick, trying to spot the animals in the exhibit.  The whole event lasted not quite an hour, but was done quite well for children of Emma's and Vivian's age.  As an introduction, they talked about the size of the artwork, the kinds of animals, the materials, which ones would be harder to work, etc.  Then, they spend about 20 minutes in the exhibit looking at some of the work from Faberge.  After that, it was back to the lecture hall where they could create their own master pieces out of pre-printed paper, markers, scissors and fake gem stones.

Emma and Vivian had fun!

Vivian and Emma painting their masterpieces

Full concentration

Vivian's comment of "Mommy, I'm really good with scissors" failed to reassure me.  But she did indeed do just fine.

Annelee got in the action, too

Abby was checking things out

Annelee was NOT amused when I decided she'd wreaked enough havoc tipping out the containers with the markers!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Virginia Wrap-Up

Remember our trip to Virginia last month ... well, here are finally a couple more (random) photos from that trip.

Serious noise protection

Cookie Monster wants COOKIE!!!

Not sure we can let Aunt Susan babysit anymore  ;)

Feeding a goat at Cox Farm

More hungry goats to be fed

Annelee in the kiddie zone

Who knew babies were hatched from eggs!

Shucking corn

Wheeeeeee ... Vivian and the Birthday Girl on one of the many sack slides

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cruise Control

Apparently, Annelee needs a bit of pressure to get moving.  We were at Gymkhana yesterday, watching Vivian do her gymnastics as we do every week.  The benches there are perfect for cruising, but so far, Annelee had just been standing there and holding on, not moving even an inch.  This time, another little girl came up to her and started grabbing for Annelee's binky.  Annelee turned her head away.  The little girl wouldn't give up.  So Annelee took a couple of tentative steps to the side.  The girl followed.  Grabbed for the binky.  Annelee moved ... I think that was officially the first time she cruised along furniture.  All hail her binky addiction and little girls that want to steal binkies!

In the evening, Annelee was fussy at dinner out at a local restaurant.  I took her to the waiting area which had a long padded bench.  Put her down at one end and then went and sat in the middle.  Again, duress (can't be separated from Mommy!) did its thing and Annelee started to cruise toward me.  I think she enjoyed it, so hopefully, she'll even start to cruise voluntarily, soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The pumpkins in our house were worked in both the traditional way (carving - Will & Franziska) as well as painted (Vivian & Annelee) and even Mr. Potatohead managed to get in on the act of pumpkin decorating.

Painting pumpkins is great for the kids ... I think I will steal that idea not just for this year, but probably the next few.

Very tentative beginnings

Getting in the swing of things

Her paper towel is just as artistic as her pumpkin!

Who needs paint brushes!

Making sure to use every color we have.  And that the stem is painted, too.

And from one second to the next we are All! Done!  Mommy!!!

The final pieces of art

Franziska's Pumpkin

Will's Pumpkin

Our final Halloween display
And finally, a quick video of our two artists at work:

If you can't see the video above, click here to launch it.