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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leo's been here 20 months

We had to take pics of Leo over two days because he’s very uncooperative in his chair. Plus, our camera finally gave out after 20 months of constant use.

Leo’s strongest skill is still talking. He’s surprising us every day with the words he knows. Like the other day I was using dumbbells and he said, “Exercise!” I don’t remember even saying that word to him. It IS in his “Going to Bed Book” so maybe that’s where he learned it. He also recently learned to say "Granny Jo." It sounds like "Ganny Doh." Sometimes it's just "Doh Doh."

He’s putting a lot of words together but mostly they are commands—which makes him sound a bit bossy: “Mama, get” or “Dada, clean” or “Nuh-no, Sit” or “Mama, cook.”

Speaking of cooking, he thinks I’m cooking whenever I do anything in the kitchen. Even if I’m opening a jar of baby food he says, “Mama cook!” And then he often likes to “cook” too by stirring something in a pot.

He’s quite a singer too. We know exactly what song he wants us to sing because he can hum the tune or sing a few of the words. He sings E-I-E-I-O very clearly. Ooh, I just got a video of it:

He’s really good with names. We only have to introduce him to someone once or twice and he knows their name. Also, he knows who goes with whom. So if we say, “David,” he says, “Lah-rah!” He might make a good politician.

Leo speaks in the third person: "Leo out," "Leo down," "Bye bye, Leo," "Night Night, Leo."

He's very clear about what he wants to do. When we were in Colorado for Christmas and he got tired of the sled (which he calls the "snow slide") he said, "Bye bye, Snow Slide. Baby Ah-yee's house." That of course, meant, "I don't want to snow slide anymore. Let's go back to baby Ellie's house."
He's constantly asking to go outside in the backyard to play basketball. "Ow-sigh! Ow-sigh! Bah-ball!" he says, over and over again. Yesterday I said, "Leo, it's too cold to go outside." He said, "Jah-ket!" and ran to the coat closet.

He can read his name. I think. Whenever I point to something that says "Leo," and say, "What does this say?" He says "Ee-oh." The reason I'm not totally sure is that sometimes I ask him what other things say and he says "Ee-oh."

He loves to say "Teh-as Bite" for "Texas Fight." He says this about anything burnt orange.

He's still crazy about balls--football, basketball...and we've made up some of our own games like "double ball." That's where we each have a ball and we throw it towards each other. As we do this we say, "Double ball!"

It's not all talking and ball-playing, though. There are melt downs and tantrums and typical toddler craziness. When he deliberately disobeys we put him in time out. He thinks it's fun, though, and puts himself in time out. He calls it "Hide Out!"
And speaking of hiding, he loves to hide in our closet behind Frank's shirts. He says, "Leo hide," goes behind the shirts and then comes out screaming, "Dah!" He always puts his hands over his mouth when he does this. He also likes for Frank and me to hide.
He bumps his head all the time. In fact, he just bumped it right now on his gate in the playroom so I need to go comfort him. I should add "experience in kissing boo boos" to my resume.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Swing Batter Batter

Leo loves his t-ball set that he got from Granny Jo. We keep it in the garage so everytime we drive up he says, "T BALL!" Then he grabs all the stuff and brings it on the front lawn. He's pretty good at it, except when he knocks down the tee. He'll say, "Not Tee!" because that's what I say when he does it: "Hit the ball, not the tee!" And then I think, if he's 19 months and I'm saying this, what am I going to do when he actually plays? I'm gonna be one of those crazy, screaming bleacher moms. I just know it.

Here are some shots and videos of our little batter:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dumpster Divers

On Saturday we drove to the bank and both Frank and I had a few Christmas checks to deposit. I opened my wallet and realized that the check from Frank's Nana (which was for the whole family) was gone. After a lot of "You probably just left it at home" and some "No. I know I put it in here!" we gave up for the time being, vowing to look for it later.

We both knew that we HAD to find that check.

It's not that we couldn't pay our mortgage without Nana's Christmas money. It's because we couldn't tell Nana that we screwed up. Again.

See, earlier this year Nana called and said she was sending a savings bond to Leo for his birthday. It never arrived. Nana said she sent it. We say we never received it. Nana had to go to a lot of trouble with the bank to get a new savings bond and some form for us to fill out.

After we settled all that Nana called and said, "And by the way, did you ever get the card I sent Leo for his birthday? It had a check in it."

Ah! We never got that either.

"Well, what is going on here, ELSA?" Nana asked.

Panicked, I checked Leo's baby book where I had put all the cards. I don't think I really wanted to find that check because that would mean I was WRONG--that the check had arrived and I hadn't acknowledged it. Boy was I relieved when a card that read "for my dear great grandson" was from Great Grandma Val.

Nana ended up having to go to more trouble to send Leo a new check.

So, needless to say, Nana hasn't been very pleased with our ability to receive monetary gifts from her.

And that brings me back to why we HAD to find that check.

I was convinced it had simply fallen out of my wallet when I went to pay for something. Frank was convinced that I had inadvertently thrown it away while tossing out receipts.

I agreed that Frank's opinion was possible so I moved some things on the top of the kitchen trash around before saying, "Gross!" and washing my hands like a maniac.

Frank, however, started to take everything out of the trash can and throw it onto the floor! I looked on, horrified, as he threw out banana peels, dirty paper towels and rotten vegetables. I grabbed a garbage bag and said, "At least we could put it into a new bag and not on the floor." He dug in silence as I fought the urge to gag.

The whole time I kept thinking, "He's doing this to punish me. He's mad that I always throw things away. Like sometimes I throw away junk mail and it turns out to be Leo's college savings account statement or a credit card bill. He's trying to prove a point!"

And just when I thought it couldn't get any grosser, he announced, "Well, it's not in this trash can. I'll get the trash from the garbage can in the garage and we can go through that."


He brought it in the house and even though he was using my "new bag" system, a lot ended up on the floor.

When it didn't turn up in that garbage he calmly headed off to bed. Oh, did I mention it was midnight? I was so mad at Frank that he insisted on digging through the trash just to teach me a lesson that I banged the Swiffer around as I cleaned up the floor.

"I'm sooooo mad at you!!" I said, when I came to bed.

"Why?" he asked. And he seriously didn't know.

"Because you made us dig through all that garbage just to teach me a lesson!!"

"What? Haven't you ever dug through the garbage to find something?"


"Oh, I have! We did it every year in my family. It was usually around Christmas. We lost money or a check and we'd have to dig through the garbage. You're telling me you've really never done that?"

How could I be mad at a guy who thought that dumpster diving was routine?

I planned to call Nana on Sunday. I had no idea what I was going to say.

But luckily, the money gods were smiling on me because we found (well, Frank found) the check on the floor of my car the next day.

We may be dumpster divers but we're a little bit richer now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bouncing on the Beeg Ball

I was sitting on the stability ball (the "beeg ball") while Leo was playing and he said, "Ee-oh Sit." I said, "Oh, no, Leo. This ball is too big for you." But he kept insisting so I finally held him on it. Oh, the fun he had on the beeg ball! I grabbed the camera for a couple of videos. The first one has bonus footage of our afternoon school bus stalking + a few family shout-outs!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmastime at Leo's House

Leo knows where he lives. He calls it "Leo's House" (although it sounds more like "Ee-oh's Howse"). He doesn't quite know what Christmas is all about though. He seems to like the tree, the music and moving the snowflake every day.

Here are a few shots from Tuesday at "Leo's House" when Leo received a Christmas gift from mom and dad (I know it's not Christmas yet but come on, the kid doesn't know!) and his best friend John came to play.

Sitting in John's lap (not that there's anything wrong with that)

John, playing with the "scuba."

Sitting on their bottoms (just as I instructed them to do).

Sitting closer (they take directions very literally).

I got them to look up and point by saying, "Where's Ms. Elsa?" Even Leo knew who that was!

I said, "Boys, these are paint brushes" and they both started brushing their hair!

When I first asked Leo what his chair said, he answered, "Texas Bite." I said, "Good guess. Try again." And then he said, "Ee-oh."

Can I get down and play some football?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cookinggal's Cookie Shout-Outs

I hosted my third annual holiday cookie exchange this past weekend. Now I'm not one to brag but I think I throw a pretty nice C.E. I can't take all the credit, though. I've got a few shout-outs.
I'd like to thank...

My mom for giving me the "Ultimate Chippers" recipe. (I thought of substituting mint chocolate for the white chocolate chip to make it more holiday-ish).

The guy who redid our kitchen before we moved in. It's such a pleasure to cook in a kitchen that I love!

My sister for accidentally leaving her cookie sheet at my house five or six years ago (in the oven in this picture). It's been with me for two moves and hundreds of cookie creations.

My mom again for mailing me these cooling racks:

My cookie exchange guests for totally outdoing me with their cookies (especially these little mice ones!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Sighting

Leo likes Santa in books. He knows that he says, "Ho, ho ho." But seeing him in person at the YMCA was a whole different experience.

"Cookies with Santa! Sounds like fun!"

"I don't have to sit on his lap, do I?"

"Yes, you do! You will sit on this old, fat man's lap and tell him what you want for Christmas. It's a tradition!!"

"Okay, fine. A compromise. The whole family will snuggle up to the old dude."

"Bye bye, Santa."

"I just want to play with my football."

"Night night, Scuba."
(Notice how he's put everything to bed--the little people, the school bus, the choo choo train and himself.)
(Also, I know he looks like Michael Jackson with white socks and black shoes. I will get him some darker socks before Christmas. Please don't mail him any.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Leo loves to practice dribbling. And I'm not JUST talking about the drool coming out of his mouth!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Q-tip Questions

It's hard to believe this is my third blog on the subject of Q-tips. But I still have so much to say, or rather, so much to ask:

My latest fascination with cotton swabs came from a conversation (or disagreement, rather,) with Frank.

Several times in the last few weeks, Frank has come out of our bathroom, holding up a Q-tip he's found on the counter, saying, "Is this for me?"

"No," I tell him each time. "It's the Q-tip I used to clean out my ears. I just haven't thrown it away yet."

Still, he continued to ask.

Finally, I said, "Just for the record, I never think to LEAVE you a Q-tip. I mean, I don't get out your toothbrush and put toothpaste on it. I don't set out your razor and shaving cream. Why would I leave you a Q-tip?"

He responded: "Well this one is always so clean! If you cleaned out your ears, where are the potatoes?"

(Context clues told me that potatoes is slang for ear wax. I didn't ask though. Didn't want to.)

"I guess I just have clean ears! I like to clean the water out though," I said.

"So if it's dirty, why don't you throw it in the trash?" he asked.

That's a fair question. I don't have a good answer. I'm not sure why I always leave my used Q-tip on the counter. I must throw it away at some point because it's not like there are piles of Q-tips. And I throw away everything else, so why slack off in this department?

As I pondered this, I started to think about how the Q-tip company doesn't even want you to use their cotton swabs to clean out your ears. In fact, it says right there on the carton: "Do not insert into ear canal."

But surely, that's what the majority of people use them for, right?

I bet this creates quite a pickle for the Q-tip company's ad agency. I can just see them at meetings:

"We're required by law to tell people not to put these things in their ears. But if we tell them too loudly and too obviously, no one will buy them. So why don't we just write it on the carton but not make a big deal out of it?"

"Or we could come up with all sorts of other uses for Q-tips, like cleaning your computer keyboard and taking off nail polish!"

"Um, people are still gonna buy them to clean out their ears."

"Or cleaning off your newborn's umbilical cord or applying ointment!"

"It's all about the ears, dude."

"Or putting wood stain on furniture or dusting picture frames or polishing silver!"

"I'm telling you, people really hate to have water and excess wax in their ears."

"Or cleaning out the nasty stuff in the sink drain or the soap scum in the tile grout!"

"Okay, fine. You win. We'll list out some of your lame uses on the carton and if we run out of room, we'll add some to the website."

"Or singing into a pretend microphone!"

And that's how Q-tips ended up in this predicament. We're all secretly using them to clean out our ears so I guess that's how they stay afloat.

I'm sure glad my last used Q-tip is still on the counter, free of potatoes. Now I can use it to clean off my computer keyboard.

Friday, December 04, 2009

New Do

When I was little, my sister used to try to persuade me to let her do crazy things to my hair by saying, "I can do wonders!" I couldn't wait to have a daughter so I, too, could do wonders to her hair.

But why should only moms of daughters have fun? Here's a new look I tried on Leo. What do you think? Did I do wonders?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Ultimate Confident Wave

If you are or were ever a student at the University of Texas, you know that driving on campus is pretty much impossible. Sure, they say you can get a "C Parking Permit" but that holds as much as weight as a Blockbuster Video card. To actually drive through campus--like past the security guard stations--you need some permit that only tenured professors can get.

Or you need to know how to do the confident wave.

When I met Frank at the end of my college career, he told me about the confident wave. We were driving through campus in his Mitsubishi Eclipse (which sported duct taped side mirrors) and he just cruised right by the security guards. "How did you do that?" I asked. "You only have a C parking permit!" He said, "I just gave them the confident wave."

The confident wave involves one motion of the hand and about a second of eye contact. And whatever you do, keep on moving.

That's what the state dinner crashers did this weekend. Everyone is speculating about how the Salahis got past the secret service. Was their confusion on the list? Did they pay someone? Did Mrs. Salahi flash a security guard?

No. These two simply utilized the confident wave. In fact, they probably invented the confident wave.

Thinking of trying to sneak into a high profile wedding? Maybe finagle your way into a VIP area of a concert? Perhaps even crash a gala like the Salahis? You're gonna need to be armed with some do's and don'ts of the confident wave:

Do use the hand you're most comfortable waving with.

Don't let your companion also wave. Choose one waver.

Do wave with one distinct motion, away from your face.

Don't return your hand back towards your face. That would be two motions. And that's too many.

Do keep your wave short and to the point.

Don't bend your fingers in an up and down, flapping motion.

Do make about one-and-a-half seconds of eye contact with the wavee.

Don't stare at the wavee or not look at the wavee at all.

Do keep moving--whether you're on foot or in your car.

Don't wait for approval.

Do smile when doing the confident wave.

Don't smile too big.

Do try to look your best when you plan on attempting the confident wave.

Don't do the confident wave if you are ugly.

The Salahis followed all these rules perfectly. Their success at crashing the state dinner is a boost to confident wavers everywhere. Yes, they got caught in the end but we can't blame the wave for that. It got them in the door...and that's all I can promise.