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Friday, October 30, 2009

Leo's been here 18 months

It’s Leo’s half birthday! He was super sick on Wed. and part of Thursday but he rallied and appears to be perfect, just in time for the 18-month chair pics and Halloween!
Here are the cute things he does lately:

We can practically have conversations now (which is awesome because I love to chat too)! The other day I tried to list out all the words he could say. I thought of over 50. The rest of the day it was like he was trying to tell me all the words I left off because there were a lot: Texas, Meow, bowl, etc. So I think with all these additional ones we’re at least at 75.

His favorite word is "no" and he answers every question with "no." Funny that he can say so many words but "yes" is not one of them!

First three syllable word: umbrella. That’s the one good thing about all the rain we’ve been having—Leo learned a new word! He says it like, “Uh-bell-lah!” He was trying to push the umbrella down the other day and I said, “No, it goes over our heads” and he said, “Oh ah heads.”
Speaking of sentences, he can say a few of those: “I made it!” He says this because it’s in his book, “Leo the Late Bloomer.” He also says, “Bye bye, Mama” and “bye bye” to other people and animals (which is technically a sentence)!

He also says “bye bye” to inanimate objects like balls. Whenever we leave to go somewhere he says, “bye bye, ball” or he gets real specific like, “bye bye, football” or “bye bye, kick ball.”

He really likes to say “sleep sack” except he says “seep slack.” When it’s time to go to sleep he says “seep slack” and when he wakes up he says, “bye bye, seep slack.”

He likes to say good night to Elmo: “Night night, Nu-no.”

When we read him books, he often knows what’s coming before we say it. Like in the book, “Moo, Baa, La la la,” we say “The cow says” and Leo says “Moo” and then we say, “The sheep says” and he says “Baa” and we say, “Three singing pigs say” and Leo says “La la la.”

He loves animal sounds—he knows the ones above plus neigh (which he says with that horsey-vibrato), meow, bow wow wow, quack, oink and roar.

I guess his eyes are sensitive to light because whenever he sees the sun he says, “Eyes!” He also says this if he starts to cry.

He knows how to say his name but I’m not sure he likes it. When I say, “Is your name Leo?” He says, “No!” I say, “What is your name?” “Baby.”

And just this week he started saying, “No no, Leo” but it sounds like, “Nono, ee-oh.”

He likes to pick up my purse, put it on his shoulder and say, “bye bye.” This is not Frank’s favorite thing that he does!

He’s funny with food: If he’s eating something and I bring out the next thing, he spits out what he’s eating. I have to remember not to let him see the next “course” until he’s completely chewed up the last bite of what he was working on. The mention of “pancake” if he’s eating egg means all the egg is going to come out on the bib.

He says “Mmm goo” meaning “Mmm good” when he eats something he likes.

He’s good at feeding himself with a spoon and before every bite he says “Beeg bite” as in “big bite.”

He likes his frozen mini pancakes so much he actually points to the freezer and says “pah-cake!”

He knows what’s next in the routine: Like when we get him out of the bathtub he says, “teeth” meaning it’s time to brush teeth. But he tried to trick us the other night. We said, “What comes next?” and he said, “Play!” He also starts singing “Tinkle tinkle” and doing the hand motions to “Twinkle Twinkle” as soon as we cut off the light.

He loves to throw balls in the sink; I’ll be cleaning dishes and I find a football.

He knows whose house is whose: We’ll arrive at Claire’s and he says “Kit Kat.” We go to Chantal’s and he says says “Ike.” Okay, so maybe he knows which animals live in which houses.

He understands possession: “Dada bike” and “Mama bike”

I can give him directions to follow like, “Go get that dish towel for mommy” and “Go get your Elmo book out of the drawer.” He knows what I’m saying! Sometimes he even dries a dish or two!

When I say daddy’s at work he says, “mow.” He thinks Frank mows lawns for a living.

He knows all the movements to his favorite songs like the Wheels on the Bus and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. I don't even have to do the movements. I can just say, "The driver on the bus says" and he motions with his hand and says something like, "Moo back" for "move on back."

He likes to play with the computer mouse so this took me about four hours to finish :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Extra! Extra!

Someone at the Y saw this in the local neighbor paper and cut it out for me. I didn't even know about it! Well, I knew there was a photographer there but I was hoping she was hearing my silent prayer: "Darn. I didn't shower. Please don't use my picture." I'm not convinced that we're doing the right moves to the Itsy Bitsy Spider but I am encouraged that we're in sync.

DIY should not apply to grocery store checkout lines

When it comes to self service gas pumps, we totally have it down. We’re fast and efficient at fueling. There’s no need for full service (although I had a sorority sister who still insisted on full service and when we’d arrive at a gas station that didn’t offer it, she’d bribe one of us to do it).

So if we’re so good at pumping gas, why are we still pathetic at scanning our own groceries?

Even if you think you’re good at it, the rest of obviously aren’t. I mean, if we were, there wouldn’t be anymore “full service” checkout lanes. There would just be a bunch of “U-Scan-Its.” At most grocery stores the ratio is like 15 to 4.

Or maybe the question isn’t why are we so bad at scanning groceries but rather, why are supermarket cashiers so good at it?

For instance, I always have to turn the product over multiple times, searching for the SKU. They seem to catch the SKU no matter how they turn it.
And they know those PLU codes for produce as well as I know my multiplication tables. (I guess I should point out that I totally rock at the MTs. I was the second-grade master of this game “Around the World.”)

Yesterday my self-scanning skills were really put to the test. It ended with me telling the self-scanning employee that I’m never returning to that Kroger. It’s a long story and if I told you the whole thing, you would think I was a complete weirdo and refuse to read my blog anymore much less socialize with me. So I’ll just give you the censored version:

There was only one cashier line open. There were at least six shoppers in it. At least three of them had overflowing carts. I was in a hurry, had about twenty items. I had a choice: self-service or get in the back of the line (which was starting to snake through the store, ten people deep).

I reluctantly chose the self-service and immediately began having issues:
“Remove your last item from the bagging area.”
“Please see attendant.”

I became enraged because I felt that Kroger put me in this situation by not opening up another line. I told the self-service employee (who I had to go drag over there from another part of the store because I kept needing assistance), “When I worked at a grocery store, the rule was that if there were three customers in a line, you called for back-up. THREE! That line had like ten!”

That wasn’t a complete lie because that was our rule at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. However, I later realized that she was probably onto me. I mean, if I had ever worked at a grocery store wouldn’t I be better at scanning? It took me at least twenty minutes to finish checking out. Of course during that time there was an incident with some packaged fruit that I accidentally destroyed and a verbal/loudish complaint to the manager—all of which could have contributed to the length of my self-scanning experience. But again, I’ll spare you the details.

Just know that so dramatic was the scene that it solidified three things for me:

1. I cannot go into that Kroger anytime soon.
2, I will never have the skills to be a cashier.
3. From now on I will always go full-service at grocery stores (or bribe friends to do the self-scanning for me).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fill 'Er Up

Granny Jo asked me the other day if Leo still liked to play in the car she and Popsy gave him for his 1st birthday. Boy, does he! I told her that everytime we go in the garage, he gets in his car. He can open the door, climb in and drive away (except he still has trouble going forward).

He likes to turn the keys and say "KEY!" and honk the horn and say "BEEP!" He noticed the other day that the car has "EYES!"

But when it comes to putting gas in the car, well, he's a little confused:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

3rd Annual Trip to Helen

The first year we moved here, we discovered Oktoberfest in Helen, Ga--just about an hour-and-a-half north of Atlanta. We know it's cheesy but we don't care! It's free on Sundays, the trees are usually changing color, they've got beer and brats and most importantly, they do the chicken dance like every five minutes:

2007--pregnant with Leo

2008: with Leo at five months
2009: with Leo at 17 months

It was colder this year which made it even more fun! Here are a few pics from our day of German fun.

Don't worry, we didn't give him beer...just a cup!

Leo loved the one-man-band but refused to give him money. Just like daddy.

Look: Leo's hair is long enough to stand up!!

A glimpse of fall:

Crock Pot Creations

I recently learned the coolest trick with the crock pot. It's really the best thing to happen to my crock pot since I learned that cream of chicken soup can be mixed with anything to create a good CP meal.

It was this super simple way to make shredded chicken from Recipe Zaar. You just get yourself six boneless/skinless chicken breasts, throw them in the crock pot with a little water, S&P and garlic and cook on low for 8-10 hours. When it's done, you pull it apart with forks.

Now I've done something similar before but it involved more ingredients. The genius behind this one was that they suggested storing it in several baggies and freezing it. Then you'd have all this chicken on-the-ready for BBQ sandwiches, soups, pizza and enchiladas.

On the day that I cooked my shredded chicken, I made BBQ sandwiches.
Then I froze it--just like the Recipe Zaar people told me to--and a week later (last night) I created a brilliant Mexican/BBQ dish.

I haven't named it yet. I'm going to name it right now:

Elsa's Mexi-Q Casserole!

I love it.

Here's what it looks like and let me just insert this caveat: I took this picture of the leftovers so it looks sort of nasty. But when Frank ate it last night he said, "This might be a ten!" I'm gonna round that up to a real ten.

Here's what's in it and again, I totally just made this up on the fly (with a toddler scrambling under foot the entire time, I'd like to add):

I defrosted the frozen shredded chicken that I had bagged up from the crock pot.
Put frozen shredded in a big pot and drizzled some olive oil. Cooked on medium.
Added seasonings like Crushed Red Pepper, S&P, Cumin and this Ancho Chili stuff my mom brought me.
Threw in a can of black beans, drained.
Tossed in a can of Rotel, drained. I don't like things soupy!
Cooked on medium a littler longer.

Took some tortillas, shredded them (like I was making King Ranch Chicken) and put them in a baking dish.
Put spinach leaves on top of that to give the dish some veggies.
Poured 1/2 the chicken, black beans and Rotel mixture over that.
Another layer of tortillas
Rest of the chicken mixture
Poured some salsa on top.

Baked in oven at 350 for 25 minutes.

You'll notice I didn't add cheese which is a staple in any Mexican dish. I'm currently avoiding dairy so I just added shredded cheese to Frank's individual servings.
I thought it was awesome without cheese though!

Frank's quote: "This is so good! It's like BBQ and Mexican all mixed together!" And then came the ten rating...well, the "maybe a ten" which is good enough for me!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I pulled a hanger out of the coat closet because it was all warped. I said, "It's dundies!" Now Leo can't stop saying it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

We have a sign like this on a road near my house. I’ve got two problems with it:

1. It says it’s “putting America to Work” but there’s no work going on around it (unless you count the lone tractor sitting idly behind the sign).
2. It cost $1,600--$1,500 to produce the sign and $100 to install it.

I’m not a math expert but if the sign costs $1,600 and the plan is to pay people to fix a road that’s not even broken, that doesn’t sound like a profitable project.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who thinks this. After the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article, revealing the high cost of these signs, people got steamed. The Georgia Department of Transportation decided to stop producing the signs.

It reminds me of the time the government was sending everybody stimulus money. Is that what we called it or is the word “stimulus” just on my brain? Anyway, rather than just sending it, they had to mail us not one, but TWO letters, telling us it was coming.

Note to the government: If you’re going to give people money or give people jobs, just do it. Don’t spend money talking about it. What’s that biblical verse about “when giving alms, don’t let the right hand know what the left is doing?” or the other one about not playing a trumpet in the street to brag about something great you did? That totally applies here.

But I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Thanks for our sign and for our stalled tractor. I get to pass it every day; makes me smile.

The Potty Song

Granny Jo has this special song she used to sing with her kids when they were little and learning to use the potty. Leo's not close to potty training yet but I thought it would be fun for him to be able to at least do the movement to the song before Granny Jo comes in November.

It took him about one minute to learn it! See for yourself:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Clueless about Clueless

In 1995 my friends and I were wild about the movie Clueless. It was the summer after my senior year in high school and we saw the movie over and over again. And the picture above was tacked onto my bulletin board. For some reason I guess I thought I could relate to Cher. Let's explore the similiarities:

We both have blonde hair.

We both say really cool catch phrases. Oh, wait. That's just Cher.

Some of my faves? (Thanks to IMDB for the refresher):

"Dionne and I were both named after famous singers of the past, who now do infomercials."

"So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so."

"If it's a concussion, you have to keep her conscious, okay? Ask her questions."
"What's seven times seven?"
"Stuff she knows!"

"It's like that book I read in the 9th grade that said 'tis a far far better thing doing stuff for other people.'"

"So, this flannel thing. Is that a nod to the crispy Seattle weather, or are you just trying to stay warm in front of the refrigerator?"

"Do you think she's pretty?"
"No, she's a full-on Monet."
"What's a Monet?"
"It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess."

I laughed in all the right places. I used the lines in daily conversation. But even after seeing the movie at least 17 times (14 in that summer), there was one line I thought I got but I didn't:

"Dee, my mission is clear. Would you look at that girl? She is so adorably clueless. We have got to adopt her."
"Cher, she is toe-up. Our stock would plummet."

Now, I never did pretend to know what 'toe-up' meant. Still don't. But that's not what I'm talking about:

I used to always think when she said, "our stock would plummet" that she meant "we would run out of resources." I guess, after working at Michael's where I'd hear things like "gotta see if we have that in stock" I thought of "stock" as inventory.

But now that we're in the Great Depression of 2009 (too bad it wasn't 2007; that would sound so much cooler), I hear about stocks falling, even plummeting. And the other day it hit me: "Wait a second. In that line from Clueless, she's talking about her stock as in her stock value not as in her stock pile!"

It's way funnier now.

I'm gonna need to catch that movie again. Maybe this time I'll realize that Christian is gay before Murray exposes him:

"He's a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streissand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying?"

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Post Nap Performance

When Leo gets up from his nap, he's really hyper. Sometimes I just sit there and watch him do things like this:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Having a Ball

I ran into a woman I know at a consignment sale; she’s a mom of a three-year-old. She was telling me tips on the types of trains I should get when Leo gets into that stuff. I said, “Right now he’s just into balls.” She said, “Yeah, at that age they’re all into balls…”

Um, I don’t think I explained myself correctly. Did I say he’s “into” balls? Because that’s putting it mildly. He’s OBSESSED with balls. Here is the evidence:

Every morning when he wakes up, I open his door and he can see into his play room. He always points and says, “Beeg ball!” about the biggest of all the balls he has.

And speaking of all the balls he has, let me count them: there’s beeg ball, two medium-sized blue balls, two small balls (one with Diego and one with Little Ensteins), a wire ball with holes in it, a football, a rubbery baseball, a small basketball and six little balls that go with his ball-popping machine. That’s 15 balls. And I’m sure I’m forgetting about some.

Yesterday we bought the little basketball at Target. He didn’t see it until the check-out lane. When he did he said, “Ball, ball, ball, ball, ball…” until the cashier gave it to him. Then he said, “Ball, ball, ball, ball, ball…” all the way out to the car and then throughout the rest of our car ride. When we went into the next store I told him we had to say “Bye bye” to the ball so he said, “Bye bye, ball” and then repeated that all through the next store. Then it was “ball, ball, ball, ball” all the way home as he held it in the car.

But he doesn’t just hold balls. He throws them. And he throws them really well! He holds them up over his head and launches them across the room. If anyone walks in the house, he tries to get them to throw the ball with him—even the cable guy and the exterminator.

He also likes to "Keek the ball." But if you "keek" the ball when he wanted you to throw it (or vice versa), watch out. There are lots of rules to his ball games.

When we arrive at any child care center (the Y, Mother’s Morning Out or the church nursery), the people working there immediately say, “Come on, Leo. Let’s go find a ball.”

When I tell him we’re going to the Y, he says, “Ball?”

When we get to the Y, he runs over to the window where you can see into the basketball courts. He watches the guys play basketball and says “Bah ball.”

He thinks anything round is a ball--fruit, vegetables, buttons, clocks. The other day he pointed at the sun and said, “ball.”

He likes to watch sports on TV just so he can see the ball. He even likes golf!

He loves his basketball hoop in the backyard and I think he would shoot forever if we would let him. He runs to the window and says, “Bah-ball!”

He’s developing more games with the ball—first there was high ball, then door ball and lately he’s taken to throwing the ball on the countertops and into the kitchen sink. My least favorite? Toilet ball.

Yesterday he and Frank developed what I guess we’ll call arm-basketball. Here we are playing it. Sometimes he misses and hits our faces; hence my reaction!

So maybe one day it will be trains or trucks or dogs or robots. But right now, it's all about the ball.

Monday, October 05, 2009

It’s better than Cyndi Lauper

Thank goodness for The Office. Not only do I enjoy watching the TV show that features quirky Dwight, ridiculous Michael and monotone Toby, it's helped to shift attention away from my past lookalike to my new one:

Whaddya think? Angela from The Office, my long lost twin?

Sure, I’d prefer Reese or Kate or some other blonde mega star but I ain’t complaining. Because, trust me, I’ve heard worse. ("Girls just wanna have fun" is ringing in my ears.)

I get it ALL THE TIME now!

I get it so much that when people start to tell me, they say, “You probably hear this a lot but…”

The first time someone said it, I hadn’t heard it a lot because, well, it was the first time. It was two years ago when I had first moved to Atlanta. I didn’t like it because I was focusing too much on her character. I thought, “I’m way more fun than her!”

But now I’m okay with it. The most recent time I heard it was when I was at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago. I said to the guys at the table next to ours, “Don’t you think our waitress looks like Megan Fox?” They said, “I don’t know but you look just like the girl from The Office! I bet if I took a picture with you and sent it to my friends, they would think you were her!”

Then they told me not to tell the waitress that she looked like Megan Fox because it would totally go to her head. Too late. And it did go to her head.

So what are they saying? That telling someone they look like Angela from The Office wouldn’t go to her head? Well it's gone to mine. And I'm running with it. In fact, I think Angela, Cyndi and I are all gonna get together and mess with people's heads. Girls just wanna have fun, ya know.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Take that, Tunnels

Leo loves slides. But there is one type of slide he always avoids: the tunnel slides. If they're enclosed and tube-like, he wants nothing to do with them. Whenever we'd approach one, he'd shake his head and say "No No."

But then, a breakthrough. At the Children's Museum he went through a tunnel slide that looked like a tree trunk:

Still, I thought maybe that was just a fluke. I mean, it DID look like a tree. It wasn't that long of a tunnel and it had a hole in the top.

But then, at a new playground this weekend Leo went down an honest-to-goodness tunnel slide!

Frank rolled a ball down the slide so Leo had to go catch it!

This pic below isn't a tunnel slide; it's just cute!

And just in case you thought that was another fluke, he tunneled some more at our regular park today!
Cure fear of tunnels? CHECK.
Cure fear of inflatable cars filled with balls? Still working on it.