Sunday, December 30, 2007

First Haircut!

Natalie is known everywhere she goes for her curls. Little kids love to touch her hair. Strangers love to comment on how curly her hair is. It is a rare occasion when we are out at a store that at least one person does not comment on her curls. They are of the full-on Shirley Temple variety, and I adore them.

However, care and maintenance of said curls is not so fun. In the morning, she wakes up in full afro mode. In order to get the knots out, we must completely saturate her hair with detangler to make the comb out a little less painful. But it still hurts. No matter how hard I try to be gentle, she hates it. And it's a battle/bribe session almost every morning. Her hair is just below her chin when dry, but about halfway down her back when wet. That gives you an idea of the tightness we must detangle every morning.

The tangles seemed to be getting worse, so this weekend, at two and 1/2 years old, miss Natalie got her first haircut! We took her to a kid salon and it was great. They have a dvd player for the kids to watch, animal chairs to sit on and a play area. They know kids. The tricks all worked and Natalie was a perfect little girl. The results are below! I can't wait to see if the comb out tomorrow morning is easier and worth the new salon-grade detangler we purchased. Stay tuned...

Haircut in Progress
In progress

The Do
The "Do"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Farewell Grandma

My grandmother passed away last night. She was in her early 90s, and lived a long, lovely life. That she lived a long life should probably make me feel better, but right now, I just feel sad. You see, I hadn't been able to see my grandmother for the past several years. Since before I met and married my husband. Since before my daughter was born. And now the thought that I'll never see her again, and that she'll never meet her great granddaughter is overwhelming.

I am left with my wonderful childhood memories of all our Thanksgivings spent with my grandparents. For me, Thanksgiving is almost more special than Christmas. Every year, we'd spend a few days with grandma and grandpa for Thanksgiving. Those few days were filled with nothing but relaxing and enjoying one another's company. We'd arrive and there would always, without a doubt, be a cookie jar full of grandma's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. There would be a roaring fire in the fireplace and football on all day. "It's time for Cheer" is a phrase etched into my memory when the Pink Chablis and Cold Duck (it was the 70s) were opened and the festivities officially began. It used to start at 4:00, but I think "Cheer Time" inched it's way closer to 3:00 over the years.

I'd always help set the table and grandma would lay out the feast. A beautiful turkey, always carved by grandpa at the table. All the fixings. Always a tray of pickles and olives (which I loved) Always canned cranberry and her jello with marshmellows (which I hated) and her homemade dinner rolls were heavenly. And for dessert, her amazing pumpkin chiffon pie and a birthday cake for me with yellow cake and chocolate frosting (my fav). We'd settle into dinner and grandpa would usually spend the meal telling the same family stories we'd hear year after year.

I loved it all.

It's been many years since we've had a Thanksgiving with my grandmother. But those years of visits left me with many wonderful images and memories of grandma:

Her beautiful collection of glass figurines that sat on her kitchen windowsill.

She always had oatmeal chocolate chip cookies waiting for us.

She made the best bacon I've ever had in my life. I still can't get mine to be the crisp deliciousness that was grandmas. To this day, I cannot eat uncrisp bacon.

She had the most beautiful rose garden. The house was always filled with her fresh flowers when we visited.

Her signature phrases "lordy, lordy" and "mercy, mercy me!"

Her pantsuits. Grandma always wore polyester pantsuits. I vividly recall the powder blue, rose pink and easter yellow ones. They were her signature style. But my cousin Tanya can tell you more about that.

And if you were to go into the bedroom with the twin beds, and look in the ceramic canister on the dresser, I'm almost sure you would still find the hot pink feather from her duster there that I hid about 30 years ago. I know it was still there when my brother last checked. I don't know if grandma knew about it, but somehow, the fact that something so small and silly from my childhood lasted so long is very comforting.

Goodbye grandma. I'm going to miss you terribly, but you will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall in Florida

The weather is finally nice here. Unbelievable. I was beginning to become a complete grump towards the end of October when it was still getting into the high 80s. We now are enjoying lovely weather in the 70s and it's actually chilly enough to wear a long sleeve shirt in the evenings. Progress!

Natalie, Dean and I have been enjoying all this fabulous weather. After a summer of feeling trapped indoors or only being outside while submersed in cool water, we've been enjoying neighborhood walks in the afternoons and playing in our backyard again (I almost forgot we had one!)

All this new outdoor livin' has it's drawbacks though. We are still in Florida. Which means when you play outside and run around, you find these in your backyard:


That, my friend, is a photo of an actual ant from my backyard. And it is as creepy as it looks. If you look closely, you can see his eyes, aack! Yes, I now live with the biggest ants I have ever seen in my life. I realize there is no point of reference, so you'll have to believe me when I say these ants are almost an inch long. Ugh. I get the hibbie jibbies just thinking about it. When we first moved here, I tried to hide all my general freaking outness about all the insects and bugs here from Natalie. I didn't want her to be scared and pass along my fears. But you know what? Game off. She needs to be afraid of these things. I screamed, grabbed her and yelled some craziness about fire ants and ran. Sadly, Natalie knows first hand about the pain of fire ant bites. She's been bitten by several twice now. And those ants were like fire ant lite. They were less than half the size of these and left a nasty bite for weeks. Yes, be afraid Natalie. Be very afraid.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Neighborhood block party in the culdesac.

Mexican pot luck.

Mexican beer.


Ghosts and Goblins.

What can I say, I love Halloween and celebrating it in the suburbs rocks when you have kids. Quite a change from past Halloweens spent in the crazy college parties of UCSB and even crazier days of the Castro celebration in San Francisco. Now the suburbs of Tampa, family style. And I'm lovin' it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Party Time

One thing that is so fun about having a little girl is getting to dress her up. I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I do, but Natalie is just so cute when she's in a super girly outfit that I can't help myself! I know I have to enjoy these moments now, before she starts picking all her own clothes. I don't really want her to be too girly... I want her to be athletic, smart, sassy and all those great things that help girls not focus so much on their looks. But I have to say, a little bit of girliness is welcomed.

Here she is at her friend Sara's tea party for her fourth birthday. Her mom made the hats, which are adorable. The girls (ie, moms) made the necklaces too, which were a big hit. Now see, isn't a lit bit of girliness fun?

Party Hats

And here she is getting ready for her first cup of tea.

Tea Time

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fitness Challenge, Week 2

Week two of our eight week fitness challenge is complete! It was a good week... and, I have a new coach. Of the two foot tall variety. I ran with Natalie a couple times this week, which we refer to around here as "going for a stroller ride." She loves this as we get to look for dogs, birds, bicycles and school buses (her fav.) Essentially, I strap her in the stroller with a sippy of water and some cheerios, raisins or goldfish. Then we head out the front door and do a three mile loop. Mind you, this is while pushing a 27 pd child in a 19 pd stroller. I usually run to the turnaround point and then walk for a minute while I drink water before I start running again. This is no longer allowed. Now, whenever I slow down, Natalie says "no mommy, RUN!" I don't know where she got this, but it makes me laugh every time and keeps me going.

And something else happened this week too, I remembered how great it feels to be exercising. I have noticeably more energy. I'm sleeping better. And I just feel better all around. I'm really trying to focus in on this, and to enjoy the process and lifestyle change and not focus so much on the numbers on the scale. That is hard for me. I want to see results fast. I want that little dress I haven't worn for years to fit right away. But I keep reminding myself that this is a longterm process and it's only the day-to-day changes that will provide the results I seek. So, I'm going to try to keep that focus. But the good news is that I've lost a bit of weight too! I'll give you the stats when we reach the halfway point through the challenge.

So, let's get down to the dirt here... you all want to know who won this week, don't you? Now, you have to remember, that really no one loses as we're both getting in better shape. It's really and win/win and... alright, forget that BS, I won, I won!! I managed four runs and one pilates tape this week. Dean did a respectable three runs and one bike ride, but not quite enough to inch out a win. I have to say, if you're looking for a fitness challenge with a partner, this game really works. Even though by Sunday I knew I couldn't lose, only tie at the worst, I ran because I wanted that win! And it was a rough one as we were at my inlaws and I was a bit hung over from a night out with Dean before and had to run on a treadmill. But the prospect of winning a week was just the encouragement to get my butt on that treadmill.

Oh, and as for Dean. He'll be cleaning out the refrigerator this week. Tee-hee! But I better get my game on this week, cuz I know there will be paybacks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lanai Livin'

Found today while sweeping our lanai. Our fully screened lanai:

- 3 dead black mud dauber wasps (yep, the kind I'm allergic to, yay!)
- 2 live lizards running around the pool fence
- 1 petrified dead small frog (perhaps the baby of our previous visitor?)
- giant spiderweb over corner of pool
- Several dead "bugs". Non-identifiable. Something of the beetle family.

And then, from my front door to the mailbox, I counted at least 12 lizards. This was after many had already run into the bushes before I started counting. Dean and I have both noticed on our runs that there is a noticeable increase in baby lizards. Guess they all had an end of summer party like we did when it finally started to cool down.

Oh, and by cool down, I mean highs in the upper eighties, lows in the low 70s.

Fitness Challenge, Week 1

Next month, Natalie will be 2.5 years old. Here is my big confession: I have still not lost all the pregnancy weight.

When she was three months old, and I was still adjusting to motherhood and not sleeping a lot, it was okay. When she was six months old, and I had started to lose some of the weight, it was good. Then she was nine months old, and I passed the "nine months on, nine months off" official stage, it wasn't great, but still sort of okay. When I she reached her first birthday, I knew I was out of excuses.

Now, at almost 2.5, it clearly is my lack of effort, and nothing else. It's time to step it up. Dean also has some fitness goals he wants to meet. We have both recently started to get more exercise, and I've been focusing on cooking more healthy meals. Dean found a great way for us to have some fun while kicking it into high gear. In true Dean-style competitive spirit, he bought us a copy of The Fitness Challenge Game.

Game On!

The game works like this, for eight weeks, two players set a goal for number of weekly workouts (we went with recommended 3x/week) and you put a star on the chart for each workout, worth 1 point. When you complete your third workout for the week, you get a 3 point star. So the goal for any week is 5 points. We put the chart up on the fridge to track our progress.

Each player picks 15 wager coupons. At the end of each week, the winner gets to hand over one of the coupons. These are for things like:
- Get up early with the kid
- Clean out _____
- Give me a massage

And then there is one big stakes coupon the overall winner gets. Basically, one of us gets to go on a shopping spree for a set $$ amount. I so want to win!

The weeks run Monday to Sunday. We have just completed week one. Every Monday you can check in for the weekly update. I figure, if we go public, we'll stick to it. So if you read this blog, please post a note to cheer us on!

So now... drumroll please, here is our chart with this week's winner:

Fitness Challenge Chart

Can you guess who is purple and who is orange? I'll let you know later. But if you can't read the chart yet, we tied! So it was a great week. In fact, we both ran 4x/week. This is great as I've been averaging about 2x/week for the past few months, and that just wasn't cutting it for weight loss purposes. So no coupons handed out for this week. Dean is out on a run as I type this. Miss Natalie is napping, so I'm off to do Pilates. Stayed tuned...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Grandmama & Grandpa Kelley!

In a strange twist of fate, Dean's mom and my dad share a birthday. So... Happy Birthdays all around!

Here is a link to the Oct 11th horoscope for the coming year if you are interested:

Dad - a retro Happy Birthday Cool Pop!! Hope you have a fabulous day and enjoy your gifts. Your horoscope says travel opportunities are likely. I think that just sealed the deal on your promise to visit FL next year! :)

Janet - I hope you have a wonderful day and we are looking forward to celebrating with you this weekend. We'll have some special birthday treats awaiting you! Your horoscope mentions you'll be more involved in lectures and debates this year. Hmm... looks like you might be spending more time refereeing Dean and Robert's political debates this year.

Here are some special video birthday wishes for you both from Miss Natalie. Can you tell they were filmed before combing her hair!

For Grandmama:

For Grandpa Kelley:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Latest Look

Like most kids, Natalie loves to look at pictures of herself. Here are some of her favorites as of late:

Me: Look, you're trying on mommy's shoes.
N: No mommy! Those are BOOTS.

At the indoor mall playground. A very important place when it's 95, humid, and your toddler is full of energy.

Oh, my high fashion girl!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's a strange, blessed land

There are many things I've been wanting to write about living in Florida, and how it differs from my native California upbringing. Though we've actually been here since last October, it wasn't "real" for me until we moved into our house in May. When we first arrived here, we were in limbo. Not sure if we were staying in Florida, or moving to Denver or somewhere else entirely. Each new job interview for Dean brought on possibilities. So now that we have settled in, and I am truly living the Florida lifestyle, I've had some time to reflect upon things, and some time to realize just where we have landed. For the most part, it's been great, but I was not prepared for the culture shock. I know a particular girlfriend of mine is laughing hysterically as she reads this, but I didn't realize how liberal California was until I left.

I truly was not expecting the large emphasis on church-going and religion. Within weeks of moving to our new town, I must have heard someone saying how blessed they were at least once a day. Often more. As in several times in a single day. To the point where I was commenting about this to Dean, to my folks and to many of my old friends. I don't have a problem with people saying this, but when your norm is people using these words only in regards to big life changing experiences, you notice it.

As evidence, here are a sampling of actual quotes I've heard since moving here:

"I'm so blessed (insert reason here)" (heard at least 432 times so far)

"I have to pick up my kids at vacation bible school"

"He's an interior designer. Oh, but he's not gay, he has kids!" (um, okay.)

"I've always known I wanted to be a surrogate mother"

"We're christians so... "(insert explanation for actions here)

"I don't know, doesn't the Montesorri Method teach independent thinking?" (oh, sorry, I didn't realize that was a bad thing)

The clincher for me was the day I took Natalie to a park and while pushing her on the swing, a busload of kids unloaded (clearly a summer camp) and proceeded to sit down at the picnic area. A few moments later, I hear these lovely little voices ring into the air singing "God is good, God is great". Luckily, no one else was at the park as I just started laughing hysterically, not believing my ears. It was just so perfect that this would take place while I was around to witness it. I don't know, perhaps someone is trying to tell me something?

While I won't go into all my spiritual beliefs here, suffice it to say, I believe in God, consider myself spiritual but am not a big fan of organized religion. How being around all these blessings will affect Natalie, remains to be seen. For now, I'll likely be enrolling Natalie in the Montessori preschool next year and trying to meet the other 10 liberal parents who live in the area. The funny thing is, that I don't consider myself a hard core liberal by any means. I have very liberal tendencies in some areas (I could care less if you are gay and I think pot should be legalized), but I also think that if you want to own a gun, it's your right (with some background checks) and I don't have a problem with capital punishment (if it fits the crime).

But if I have to pick between being labeled as a liberal in a conservative land and sending my kids to vacation bible school, bring on the liberalism.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Natalie and Willy

There's been much talk around the Dixon abode lately of adding a dog to the mix. Not sure, think Natalie would enjoy one?

Natalie and Willy Woo

Likely we'll get a Shih Tzu, Dean grew up with them and loves them. And since he puts up with the lovely felineness of Ezzy, I guess it's only fair that he select the next pet. My only question is, how do you have a dog w/out a backyard fence? We don't have one, which has been a bit strange for me with this house, as everyone in CA has fences. It seems so public in your backyard to not have one.

But since it's summer and ridiculously hot, if I'm outside, I'm on the lanai in the safety of the cool pool and giant screened cage to keep the bugs out. So it hasn't really been an issue. But I can't imagine having a dog without a fence, you know? Not if we want to stay friends with our neighbors anyway. So I think we'll have another project to add to the house list soon. Now tell me, do you ever, as a homeowner go a good long stretch without having to spend money on the house?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Beware, Florida Living

Think you had a crazy morning?

I got up early with Natalie this morning, enjoyed some playtime and then settled her down to some Raisin Bran and Sesame Street so I could take a shower. I head into our guest bathroom for a quick break before showering and am "greeted" by something I never thought I'd see. As I open the toilet seat, something moves. Let me say that again... SOMETHING IS MOVING IN MY TOILET!!


I proceed to scream and generally freak out and am immobilized by shock as I see two eyes looking back at me, in my toilet. As the shock fades, I realize it's a goddamn FROG in my toilet. Not a tiny frog either, but a healthy-size one (for the toilet anyway) at 2-3 inches in diameter. And while I am standing there, I'm sure my mouth gaping, the frog is freaking out as well. Those eyes are wide and he (she?) is kicking and splashing spasmodically and I realize in horror that he might jump out. At which point I slam the seat down.

What to do now?

I open it again to make sure I'm not crazy and he's still looking at me!! Arrgh! So I run to grab Dean. Clearly, this is a man's job. He's still in bed and I tell him he has to come see something, right now. He gets a slightly worried look and is asking me what it is and I just say "no, you have to see this" and lead him into the bathroom. I tell him to open the toilet seat. He gives me that look that says "uh-oh", opens the lid and sees... nothing. The frog is gone. My lovely husband then asks me if I'm sure I saw a frog. I think my look answered that question.

Then, he starts looking around the bathroom, asking if it got out. I panic for a second and then realize no, while he appeared basketball size in my horror, I know he was too small to force open the lid. So I tell Dean to look in the basin. Still nothing. So, Dean flushes the toilet, nothing happens and that is it. I'm feeling slightly remorseful at this point, wondering if the flush killed the frog, but really, I'm more afraid he's still in the piping waiting to make another appearance.

Of course, this brings up memories of my childhood when I heard about a lady in Texas who got bitten while peeing when a snake came up the toilet. I had serious fears about this for months after... always checking for snakes in our toilet in California. Nice to have finally gotten over that only to be re-traumatized through finding a frog in my own toilet.

So let's just say, the lids on the toilets will remain closed in the house moving forward. I will likely not use the guest bathroom for awhile. I even had to flush first when using the other bathroom because in my freaked out state, I wondered if the pipes were connected. Oh, and all this is happening as we are on the brink of potty training Natalie. Nice.

So, when you come to visit, look before you pee and if you leave the seat up, I'm going to kick you out of my house.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cute Things

I have to say, I love this age! Natalie is very expressive in both her words and actions as she heads towards her 2nd birthday. Here are a few of the things I'm finding especially cute at the moment:

- The fact that when she sits on my lap and I'm reading to her, her hair is so big and curly it tickes my face

- When she says "You funny mama"

- When we take walks around the neighborhood and she runs from mailbox to mailbox going "lalala"

- Watching her chase the leaves that are blowing in the wind

- Floating on her back in the pool, looking for the moon, and saying "moon is hiding" when she can't find it

- Sesame Street time: when we tell her "it's time" she jumps up with glee, runs to push her little chair in place, goes to press the number 3 on the remote (which granddad taught her) and has a big smile on her face while clapping as she sits down to watch

- crazy legs

- hearing "oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY!" when she's really excited about something

- wathcing her run circles around her crib, climbing up on it and then stopping to check herself out in the mirror

- when Dean is away on business, watching her reaction when he gets home and she does the happy dance

And really, that everything she does right now, she does with complete abandon and joy. With all her might. Nothing is done half heartedly. And that she expresses all her emotions freely... why is it we lose this as we get older? It's so refreshing to watch kids before they start to edit themselves for the world around them.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Tide is Turning

First Chocolate Batter!

Ahem, it seems like I begin a lot of my posts with "it's been awhile..." and here I am again. Much has happened since my last update, here goes:

- Dean started a new job last week and it's going well.
- We bought a house and are moving to the Tampa area - hurray!

Miss Natalie has been busy, I'm so amazed and enamoured with her these days. Her Sesame Street passion is showing itself... at not yet 2 she can count to ten and knows almost all the letters of the alphabet. Amazing! We must sing the ABC song at least 5 times daily, sometimes more. And she's just so damn cute about it all I almost can't stand it. She loves to sing, which I enjoy, but the downside of this is I am slowing losing my mind to ABCs, wheels on the bus and twinkle, twinkle. Whilst I used to hum and listen to my favorite bands, my brain these days is on a slow downward slump of kiddie music. I'm looking forward to getting into our house and having our music system set up. I need some ME back.

She's getting more teeth, curlier hair, if you can believe that and, is just a happy good natured kid. Her little cousin Alex was here last week and she was great with him... giggling and actually sharing her toys (mostly) that made me start thinking about how she'd be a great big sister. We'll see. I'd love her to have a sibling, but part of me can't imagine another child being as wonderful as Natalie. I know these feelings would evaporate as soon as we had another baby. But is it time? Are we ready for the chaos of a newborn again? Are you ever?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Natalie's Favorite TV Show

I had posted before about how much Natalie loves to watch Sesame Street. Well, there's a new contender on the block. An oldie but goodie...

Yes my friends, Natalie loves, ahem, the Lawrence Welk Show. Since staying with Dean's folks, it's become a Saturday night routine for us (Good God, what would my 16 year old self have thought of this, the horror!) It comes on 7:00, which is right when she often gets tired and cranky. So instead of dealing with the last hour of her day in whining, we all end it on a very pleasant note. She loves watching the dancers and we love watching her watch them.

And Natalie, when you're 16, I have the proof right here, so be nice to your parents or I'll forsake a grounding and email this to that cute boy you've got your eye on instead:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The birds...

We've had a new family visitor for the second time now. A blue heron has twice come to visit us, and was rewarded the second time with a bowl of fruit. Think he'll be back?

Here he is on the patio cage on his first visit. For all my west coast pals, everyone in FL has these cages so that you can enjoy the weather, bug free. On my first visit to Dean's parents, this just blew my mind. Growing up in California, I had never seen anything like it. However, after a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood on Halloween, I counted 22 love bites the next day. I'm now a believer. If we end up living in Florida, a cage will be required.


And here is a cute video of Natalie watching the Heron and saying hello to him. Dad, she loves walking around the neighborhood, looking for cats, bugs and birds. I think will love bug hunting with you on our next visit!

Friday, January 26, 2007


Okay, finally at 20 months, Natalie has cut her fifth tooth. Yes, fifth. While most toddlers at this age have almost a full set including molars, miss natalie is taking her sweet time welcoming the incisors. She didn't even get her first tooth until right after her first birthday. Dean's mom remembers both he and Debbie being late teethers, and I think my mom said the same about Pete and I. So, perhaps genetics play a role here?

The signs were evident, she's been walking around for days, with her shirts lifted up, exposing her belly while gnawing on the edges. The first day I noticed a huge wet spot on the bottom of her shirt and thought she had gotten into the dogs water. Only after changing her shirt, and later that day seeing her chewing on it in the above mentioned fashion, did I realize what was going on.

I have to say, this makes me very happy. I'm long over the days of peeling her fruit being exciting because she could finally eat solids. After almost a year of peeling, dicing and not being able to give her things like pepper strips or carrot sticks becuase they are too hard to gum, I'm over it. Really, really, over it. Today I'm doing a happy dance as we are one step closer to molars, hurray!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The First Video!

I finally got my act together and set up a YouTube account. I've only been talking/thinking about this for months now. Yeah, some early adopter I am.

Natalie has been talking nonstop lately, in full sentences and many words, her favs right now:

"come" - meaning follow me into the next room
"where is it" and "there it is!"
"no willy" - to get the dog to stop licking her toes. But apparently Willy does not speak Natalie.
and the cutest is we are teaching her to say "I love you". I'll have to get that on video, it's just too adorable!

Anyway, enjoy the first video. It's Natalie with her granddad and Willy Woo, just babbling. It's about a month old, so you won't get the above phrases. But it's still cute. Let me know what you think!