Wednesday, January 30

Scrubbing Bubbles Toils And Troubles

The dialogue from the evening: "Jack, do NOT splash water...I mean it...thank you...Jack...what did Daddy say?...NO SPLASHING water...I'm going to make you get down if you keep doing that...thank you...ho hum...what can I put in the dishwasher have to stop can play, but you can't splash...I mean're getting down're going to stop splashing?...alright...I mean it...Daddy will make you get down if you keep doing that...thank you, bud...(MAJOR SPLASH)...okay, we're done now."
What a monkey. And I love the striped socks from Tina Kitt. They're hilarious.
Do not ask me why there's a Christmas Tree cookie cutter in the sink, Jack. I honestly have no idea. That thing hasn't been used since '02 when we were in our first apartment and made cookies to take to Des Moines with us.

I hesitated in posting these because the background shows an absolute kitchen emergency (and the mess was made in a single day, mind you), but they're too cute to dismiss. While Mom was working out last night in the living room, Jack and Dad did dishes. In order to keep him out from under Amy's feet, I ran some suds in the sink and let him play.

Best/Worst Idea Ever!? The jury is still out on that.

Pollster Polling Place On Vrbi

Well, yesterday I posted a poll on the right asking who your favorite candidates for Prez happened to be. After several of you voted for John Edwards, he dropped out of the race today. So, I've revised my poll to include the top two frontrunners for each party, which are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Let us know who you like in this contest as it gets more interesting all the time! As P. Diddy once said, "Vote or Die". (In retrospect, I never understood his message. Seems a touch dramatic.)

And don't hesitate to leave snarky and overtly angry comments in the appropriate area on this post. I love hearing the good and bad about all the candidates (so long as they're TRUE statements). I've started by leaving my own comment in the comments section about my LEAST favorite candidate in this year's race. Can you guess who it is?

PS - To John Edwards: Buddy, if you're reading this (which, duh, you are; you care THAT much about the little peeps), I hope my poll didn't jinx you. I was torn between you and another candidate for the February caucus. My decision just became clear. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 29

Life With A Child Who Toddles

Recently, we noticed that the flooring we used in the living room and hallway (which we LOVE) was half price at Menard's because they were coming out with a new line and discontinuing our line. Since we were wanting to complete the entire house this year, we bit the bullet and I took a last-minute trip to Columbus to pick up more. It ended up saving us A LOT of money and it was good timing since we're cooped up anyway. Might as well get it done. Anyway, I did Jack's floor recently in my spare time and it looks just stupendous. And he has fallen in love with that chair shown. Stay tuned for more of the chair...
It looks like a brand new room. I'm going to do the trim as soon as I start feeling better. I've been home the first two days this week with a strep/sinus infection combo for the ages. I'm snuggled in my recliner right now sniffling, sneezing, coughing and blogging. And since we've been extremely busy lately and I haven't updated for a while, I thought it was high time I updated you on our lives. So without further adieu, here are some photos of our life with Toddly McToddlerson.
This collapsible bin has been a great hamper/hiding place lately. Good investment.
Jack was trying to play with the camera flash. It's one of his fave pastimes.
Attacking dad with sheer cuteness.
Laying on the floor, watching Veggie Tales I'm pretty sure.
Amy took this one sometime last week and it pretty much sums up the chaos.
Jack really loves that particular book: "From Head To Toe" by Eric Carle. I have to say I agree. Amy picked up this ottoman/storage chest the other day for our reconfigured living room. Jack loves it because it holds his books and is great fun to climb on. There's another great story about the chest/its contents, so stay tuned for that. Another all-up-in-your-grill shot.
The other morning, his Old McDonald book from Uncle Joe and Aunt Sarah started randomly playing and he opened up the trunk. After dancing to the song once, he returned to the trunk, pushed the button again and danced his heart out, pirouettes and all (he watches Jayden dance at daycare). This went on for several minutes. I was going to run and get the camera, but I chose to just sit and enjoy the moment. I applauded his dance skillz generously.
Pointing is a new thing for Jack now too. I remember back in the dizz-ay, my Aunt Julie made us kids laugh when her daughter Sara pointed at someone. She grabbed her hand and said, "don't point; it's not polite" all the while shaking her pointer finger at Sara. Confusing much? Sorry, Julie, I have strange memories...
Displaced children often hide in furniture for relief from chaos.
And the chair. The favoritest chair ever. Jack has been very attached to that chair and that Grinch doll lately. It is cozy, I'll give him that.
I was getting him ready for daycare the other day, and he crawled back up into his chair. Obvs I hadn't combed his hair. Is it wrong of me to let his hair grow since all of his haircuts (including the one done by me) have been kinda bad? I think it's okie doke.
POP QUIZ: What item was pictured six times in the 15 photos above?

I'm posting the following video for my friend that asked how I can stand to watch kids shows all the time. Sure, some of them are annoying and exhausting, but the good ones are great. I put VeggieTales on the list of great ones. Amy and I love VeggieTales because it's hilarious. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

I laugh every time! Should I see someone about this?


We're using our 500th post on our blog to wish a heartfelt congratulations to Regan and Tricia on their new baby girl, Mallorie. Their new blog address shows pictures of their little addition, and is listed at right as Mallorie's Gallery! Check her out. She's gorgeous!

(Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my prediction was correct and now puts me at 8 out of 9 guesses correct so far. We'll find out one more this week and I feel confident that it's correct! 89% is my guess rate so far!)

Wednesday, January 23

How To Properly Kiss Y'Daddy In Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Make goofy faces.
Step 2: Make even goofier faces.
Step 3: Lay it on him!

Any questions?

Sunday, January 20

General Orneriness

In case your brain is wondering, yes we have a slide in our living room. It was a Christmas gift for Jack and it'll be moved outdoors when the weather is better. He enjoys having it readily avails right now though!
The things in our house that photograph best: the floors and The Jack.
Grammy Tami made some curtains for our living room and is working on the kitchen ones as I type this. They make our living room look very cozy now. And Jack learned just yesterday that it's pretty dang fun to hide behind them. Yay!

A Thank You: Part 1

Thank you Grammy Tami for the awesome blankie; Granny Janny for the house playset; Missy, Jared and boyz for the medical toy set; Emily for the comfy clothes; and Celine and Cindy for the shoes!

Since we have yet to send out our holiday thank-you's (which is totes bogus behavior, I know, but we've been super busy), we will be posting pictures of us using our stuff we got as part of the thank you (and of course you'll get a personalized thanks in the mail later). Here's the first installment!

Happy (Late) Birthday, Gramps Jer!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Jerry!

We love you and hope you had a great day!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram’s horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yolk of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

“Unity is the great need of the hour” is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we’re still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we’ve come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We’ve come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily – that it’s just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.

All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.
Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country’s ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.

And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words – words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.

He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.

That is the unity – the hard-earned unity – that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope – the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.

The stories that give me such hope don’t happen in the spotlight. They don’t happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She’s been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope – but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

--Barack Hussein Obama

Sunday, January 13

Sesame Street Live (And Not So Much)

So, we're in the thick of a wicked evil teething spell right now. We have the boogers, the drool, the pain...the attitude. It's been a rough week needless to say. Elmo's lucky he has no teeth to deal with. Maybe that's why he's always smiling.
Here we are at our desty: Sesame Street Live in Lincoln. We (okay, me) were excited for the show to begin.
Elmo, is that you?
The show started off and it was really darn good!
They were dancing up a storm! Jack's favorite thing ever!
Ten minutes later.
At least it was entertaining enough for the adults that we weren't too let down. Wouldn't have been my first choice though. Plus, I already know what I want to be when I grow up: ME (except younger, but only for the energy)!
After the intermishy, he was ready to audition for the part of the Cotton Candy Monster.
Here he is after the show playing with the Christmas gifts from Gramps Tom.
And they played like crazy the rest of the day and Sunday too when Gramps stopped by. They are a riot to watch. They get pretty rowdy!
Jack did not want Gramps making music on HIS xylophone, regardless of the fact that the gift was from him. Yes, the 'Terrific Twos' are underway I believe.
And socks and shoes are a thing of the past. Hates them. Here he is watching 'Veggie Tales' on the DVD in the car. How did parents drive without DVD players? They're not a luxury, they're a freakin' necessity!

Saturday, January 12

Top 100 Photos of 2007, The Top Five

5. The biter biscuit incident. I had no idea why every time another kid ate one of these things that look like basic cookies, they would wind up looking like they had mud thrown all over them. I quickly learned just why. I was on the floor, picking up stuff when Amy removed him from his chair to take to the bath. I looked up and snapped the photo.
4. This one was taken just recently. A pic of Jack in during his first snow ever. The wonderment on his face is just quintessentially 'toddler' and I just love everything about this photo. Little known fact: He is looking at Mom inside the house and making sure he has her approval to play in this cold, white stuff.
3. The bubble blower made this photo possible. Granny Janny was here and witnessed this one being taken. I just pulled the trigger on the blower and started snapping photos. Luckily, he cooperated.
2. This one was a very close second because of the moment captured, but we agreed that our number one choice is evident. This one is completely unstaged and a great moment. Jack loved his perch at the front door at this time and Dexter just happened to show up and stand beside him for a brief moment. Fortunately, I was present with a cam in hand.
1. Who didn't know it was going to be this one? I absolutely love this photo and think it might be the best I've ever taken with my amateur un-honed skillz. I was sitting on the couch when I looked over and saw him sitting right in the light. I reached clear across the couch to avoid distracting him, had to fenangle the camera to disengage the flash, then snapped it right as he looked down. I'm pretty proud of it, I must say. It also sits on my desk at work and everyone loves it.

A Retrospective Glance: Last Year's Top Five

I thought it would be fun to show you which ones made the cut last January. These were our Top 5 from 2006, counting down from number five to number one. This was last year's number one. Presh, no?

Last Weekend - A Bit Late

We went to Palisade last weekend. Admittedly, I was terrible about taking photos. I dug the cammy out once the whole weekend, then must have been content just to enjoy the time I had instead of lugging that thing around. So, here's our fragmented weekend! arms are supposed to go through those arm holes. Haven't we been over this before?
Joe and Jack played a wicked game of catch Friday night. Jack would get right up to Joe, then throw his head...nice...
Agreed: Cutest. Pic. Ever.
And that VERY colorful awesome blankie in the picture? Grammy Tami made it for Jack. Okay, she made a different one for all the grandkids. And they all love them!
Yes, our kids loved Peyton's couch. But their love for Peytie's couch was eclipsed by their love for the blankets Grammy Tami made them.
Coloring with his BCF Peyton. They had a blast together, and since we stayed at Peytie's house, they spent a lot of time together.
Cuteness on a cracker.
We also stopped by Missy's to see Jacob. Jack wasn't loving the fact that his mommy was holding another baby. We caught a bug at Missy's before having to run off to eat and nap. It's called baby fever. Jacob is mega adorable.

Luke and Peyton open presents from us.
Okay, give me 'serious.' Now 'concerned'...'deer in the headlights'...'bored'...'disaffected'...'shy'...ah, such range!
Yes, most of our pictures are of the Dora couch.
That. Darn. Cat.
Ahhh...the one that got away...

Things I didn't take pictures of, so you'll just have to take my word for it:
  • Heidi's birthday party
  • Tori's awesome game (they're ranked 8th now after that slaughter)
  • Seeing Bill, Steph and Alan
  • Bigfoot
  • The Lochness Monster