Monday, April 30, 2007


I don't know why Sweet Pea has started not wanting to have her picture taken - I didn't think that sort of behavior kicked in until teenagerhood. Bummer. We had stopped to get gas and I just thought she looked so cute with a book on her lap, a drink handy, and Rainbow stuffed into her car seat next to her.

The Brookdale lodge has a long and glorious history: It was built in the 1890s and famous folk such as Herbert Hoover and various movie stars used to stay there. Most of the glory has faded, let me tell you. Really, really faded. But it was clean enough (only just), and in a beautiful area off Highway 9 (just outside of Ben Lomond). Pretty much every area off Highway 9 is pretty.

This was the room we stayed in. Slipshod's mom reserved the suite for us so we'd have enough bed space, and also because Slipshod and his sister and brother-in-law and niece and her boyfriend were planning to play Wii games in our lounge area. Slipshod's mom thought the living room/lounge area would be a separate room. As it turned out, it was all just one big room, and since the girls had to go to bed right after dinner and even doing that we kept them up an hour later than usual, they had to play their games in Slipshod's sister's room. It turned out alright, and the big room was nice - gave the girls lots of room to play - but I felt kind of bad having the big room but not being able to let the others use it for the intended purpose. Oh well - we did have family gatherings in the morning, since we had a kitchenette. That meant we had coffee in our room.

This is the dining room, where we ate dinner Friday night. The brook runs right through the restaurant! Pretty cool. We had a long table on the balcony in the middle - where the woman in the white shirt is standing. It was good that we were off by ourselves with a dance floor for the kids to run/craw around on, because service was wildly slow. Took two hours for us to get in and out, and I had to go ask if they remembered that we ordered dessert. Yeesh!

Keep reading - the next two posts are about the weekend as well - mostly pictures.
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At the Aquarium

The jellyfish exhibit has changed since it was the "new" exhibit years ago. Now they have a wing of it where they have integrated art that is evocative of jellies into the exhibit amongst the tanks. This is some of the amazing glass you walk past in the entry to that part of the exhibit. The large, flattish shapes are huge - probably 2 or 3 feet across. I didn't see any signs naming the artist who made the glasswork, but I would be REALLY surprised if it was not Dale Chihuly. Have you seen the awesome chandalier, or maybe it would be more properly called a glass-light-thingee, in the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas? Yeah, the guy who made that (click the "Attractions" tab in the upper menu, and choose "Lobby" to see what I'm talking about).

I can't remember the name of these jellies, but they are SO cool looking - their tentacles are shorter and triangular rather than long and spaghetti-like. There were other kinds of jellies with other neato kinds of tentacles, but we got more video than photos.
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Saturday at the Aquarium

Sweet Pea could not WAIT to see the jellyfish at the aquarium.
She was not disappointed (click to see these pictures larger - it's worth it!).

She enjoyed gazing at every single kind of jellyfish they had to show us.

The Bug has become such a ham! She now periodically stops nursing to make faces at me. I guess it doesn't help that I make faces back at her. She also started chattering almost nonstop on Friday (to date she has been pretty quiet most of the time, though she definitely has chatty moments). She seems to have the ability to make every sound she will need to speak - they're just not organized into words yet, but she is definitely mimicking sounds. And as I have already posted, she already says a few words.

Oh - for anyone from our SJ play group who is reading this, I want you to know that The Bug LOVES her Baby Bjorn which you all SO kindly gave us before she was born. Every day she crawls over to the front door entryway, pulls the Bjorn out of her car seat (which sits on the tile by the front door) and begs to be taken outside for a walk (and nearly every day we go out). "Bjorn" is even one of her most often used words. She pronounces it "BYA!" yes, she yells it. And points. She points all the time now, at everything. And she knows to point up if she wants to get out of her seat at the table, or car seat, or if she wants to get up into her "BYA!" hee hee! So once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that! We just love it. :o)

Sweet Pea really really wanted to see the beach, so after we left the aquarium we went down to the beach access in the middle of the shops/restaurant area in Monterey. It was after 6pm and was chilly, but she wanted to make "sand kitties." I am not sure what she was doing pulling up her dress - I don't even remember her doing that. Looks like a modern dance or something to me. But we did end up taking off her tights and sandals. Then she fell and skinned her knee on a rock, and that was pretty much the end of the visit to the beach.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Goings On

Lately we have been having so much fun with our new neighbors across the street. They moved here from Illinois in January, if I remember correctly. They have a very energetic little 3-year-old boy who Sweet Pea loves to play with. He has a kazillion little vehicles that he rides around outside at least twice per day, sometimes three or four times. Which means that we can usually catch them for one play time per day. It has gotten Sweet Pea, the Bug and I out WAY more often than we used to get outside, which is wonderful, and I have a mommy friend to talk to who is right across the street! I am loving that. In our old neighborhood there were plenty of moms and kids, but I didn't speak the right language to be able to hang out with them very effectively.

This is more like what I grew up with - families just getting to know each other because the kids are out playing, unstructured/unplanned play dates, fresh air, impromptu offers of drinks, getting to hold the neighbors' new baby boy, etc. It's really nice. Our neighborhood is in the shape of a small circle and these neighbors live on an outside part of the circle that has the perfect vantage point. You can see the entrance to the neighborhood around one curve and down to where it curves around on the other side as well, so you can stand or sit in their driveway and keep the kids safe with voice control, because once you see a car you have plenty of time to tell them to get out of the road. This allows us to allow Sweet Pea and her little friend to ride their tricycles/tractors/foot-powered plastic cars/pedal cars in the street a lot during the day while there is no traffic in or out of our neighborhood. If we're out when everyone's coming home we keep them a bit closer, but this is pretty ideal.

I have so much more to yack about, but nothing groundbreaking, just the usual. However, I need to go get going now to start getting us packed for our family vacation this weekend. We'll be staying in the Santa Cruz Mountains and going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Saturday. Sweet Pea CANNOT WAIT to see the jellyfish. The big new exhibit is about otters, though, and she's pretty excited about that too. I am so looking forward to seeing her experience such a neato place for the first time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Confessional

I totally lost my shit this morning. I feel, once again, like a horrible mother. But I also feel completely overwhelmed, which is why I lost my shit.

I am on my knees, at the mercy of halflings (not the JRR Tolkein kind). I'll be the mom with bed head and jammies, laying in the back yard dejectedly at 3pm while the children beat me senseless with whiffle bats.

So, it was a normal morning - get up, eat breakfast, take The Bug upstairs for a diaper change, nurse her, take her up for a nap, note her perky awake eyes and smile, take her back downstairs, play with kids for a while, change her diaper again, take her back downstairs and try again.

Sweet Pea always goes upstairs with us for the diaper changes. She usually dresses a stuffed animal or "reads" a book while she waits, unless she prefers to spend the time running around saying, "Mommy, look how fast I can run!" Today was a reading day. She didn't start until I was ready to go back downstairs, though, and had just started leafing through a pretty long book.

When I was finished with the diaper change I told her I was going downstairs to nurse The Bug again. She said, "no, Mommy. Wait until I finish reading my book."

"No," I told her. "You can stay and read if you want, or bring the book downstairs and I will read it to you. But I am going down right now."

Off I went, singing to The Bug on the way down the stairs. When she heard my voice getting further away, Sweet Pea started calling, "Mama! Come back up here! I'm still reading! Wait until I finish my book!"

"No," I told her, "I told you I was coming down - I have things to do. You come downstairs if you want to be together."

There was a lot more of that, and eventually she turned into a screaming, sobbing pile at the top of the stairs.

"Mama, come back up! Mama, come back and then I'll come down!" and so on.

I turned up the TV but of course the screaming from upstairs and the loud TV did nothing to keep The Bug nursing, much less get her to calm down enough to nap. I turned off the TV. I called up to Sweet Pea and told her to come down. The same sort of bossy demands returned. I told her "no" yet again, and encouraged her to come down. I told her this was not such a big deal that she needed to have a fit. I reminded her that I am her mother and as such am in charge and that she cannot order me around. Not exactly in those words.

I tured the TV back on and tried to just drown out the noise. There was nothing to watch except a PBS thing called "Keeping Kids Healthy" that was all about Whooping Cough and scared the crap out of me. I turned the TV off again.

I couldn't hand the screaming anymore. The pointless tantrum. I totally, completely lost my shit.

"GO TAKE A NAP!" I screamed.

"I don't want to take a nap," Sweet Pea protested.


"No, Mama!"


Sweet Pea tried hard to stop making noise. The Bug looked at me with a scared, unsure look on her face. She started to cry. Sweet Pea came back downstairs. Her eyes were pink and hugely swollen from all the pointless crying. Her hair was flat. She looked like she'd been crying for hours longer than she had. She draped herself across my lap, played with my hair and laid her head on my chest.

I explained to her quietly how I got to the point of screaming like that, so that I scared her. And her sister. And myself. She quickly returned to her playful self and handed The Bug the ribbon for the huge goldfish balloon we have in the family room, and they giggled and played with the balloon. I kept talking to her about what had been happening for the past half hour or so and she didn't say much. I finally sat her down, made sure she was listening to me and we made an agreement to try not to do that anymore. She will try not to throw pointless tantrums, and I will try not to scream my head off.

I hope it works.


I am so not with it. I didn't realize yesterday was Earth Day until two people mentioned it to me. I felt it was sort of a big deal because even though I teach Sweet Pea by my actions that it's good to recycle, turn off the water while soaping up her hands and brushing her teeth, and otherwise do good things for the environment, I thought it would be another good thing to use the community awareness to focus on those things for a day.


What kind of diapers was The Bug wearing? Disposable. I couldn't use her usual cotton diapers because we didn't have any clean diaper covers, and our clothes washer broke on Friday. Yeah, right when I got in to a rhythm with the laundry. Slipshod spent the weekend doing some online research, lots of measuring, and he went out and bought one yesterday at a local store. It will be delivered tomorrow.

Anyway, once I did realize that it was Earth Day, I pulled out a little children's activity book I had bought before Sweet Pea was even born, called "Every Day is Earth Day!" We pulled an egg carton out of the recycling and painted it and started to make it into a kitty bus. Pictures to come, when we finish the project.

Later in the day yesterday I took the girls out for a walk to the store. Sweet Pea got to ride in the stroller (yes, it's very close and she could totally walk, but she likes to ride and it makes me feel better when she does - we have to walk along a main road to get there), and The Bug in the Bjorn. Both where they like to be when we walk to the store. We were there far too long but they both did very well. I couldn't buy everything on my list because whatever I bought had to fit into the basket under the stroller. So, no cat food. But Slipshod can pick the other items up tonight.

While at the store we spent quite a while in the hair aisle, me looking for barrettes that will actually hold Sweet Pea's hair, while Sweet Pea reached and begged for all the cute, bright hair brushes and combs. I hope I managed to get some things that will work with her hair. For barrettes we've just been using the totally cheapo plastic ones that are made in the shape of flowers, bows, and animals. Sweet Pea picked them out last summer. But now it takes FOUR of those, two on each side, to keep her hair out of her face.

Besides the metal barrettes I bought for her, I also got us both some stretchy headbands. We'll see how they work. Sweet Pea likes hers (the blue one, of course), but it keeps sliding out of her hair - down the back. Argh. That probably means that mine will do the same. What I really need is a haircut anyway.

And speaking of hair, both of my girls are so attached to my hair. Sweet Pea used to play with it while she was nursing, and still likes to touch my hair while she's falling asleep at night, and when she is sad or hurt or scared. Now the Bug plays with my hair while she nurses, and sometimes if she doesn't fall asleep nuring or if she wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn't need to nurse, she seems to have to touch my hair to get back to sleep. Their need to touch my hair is sweet, touching, endearing... and sometimes a bit much.

For the most part I love that touching my hair can calm them down so effectively, but Sweet Pea moved out of our bed on her own recently - we put a twin mattress in our bedroom (she didn't want to be out of the room, but thought it might be nice to have her own space in her own bed). The first and only night she slept there was fine - as per usual, since she doesn't nap anymore, she fell asleep before The Bug did. She did move back up into our bed around 5am, but would have stayed in her own bed if I had agreed to snuggle there with her. I think it might have taken if she had not fallen asleep and taken a nap the next day. She just fell asleep on teh couch in the afternoon because she was still getting over a cold, if I remember correctly. Now she talks about sleeping in her own bed, but doesn't do it. She says that it's because she likes to play with my hair while she falls to sleep. I asked her if getting something that had my hair on it would make the difference, and she said "yes" but then decided the next day that that wouldn't do it.

A while back I searched for some kind of hair lovey and found this. The idea is good, but the reality of it is somehow very creepy. I just went there and looked again and realized why it is so creepy to me. It reminded me of a voodoo doll. Still, I sometimes consider cutting my hair and getting one made for each of the girls. I wonder if it would change anything about bedtime and/or night wakings (for The Bug - Sweet Pea almost never wakes up at night anymore and it's been that way for over a year, hallelujiah). Would they figure out later in life that they had little voodoo dolls of me and use them against me? ha ha!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Strange Reaction

A week ago last Monday Slipshod called me from work and told me that a former co-worker & casual friend (by which I mean they didn't actually hang out during off hours, but talked a lot at work) had died over the weekend. I was flabbergasted. I didn't know the guy personally, but had met him, but what really hit me was that he was a great love of a friend of mine & Slipshod's, and I knew it would have hit her incredibly hard in the gut - which Slipshod confirmed. I think he may have been the one who told her (they worked together at the last company, and do again now).

M's death was a tragedy - he was young and healthy and in fact was out doing something he loved when he died in a rather freak-accident type of way (involving motorcycle racing on the track, but he wasn't on the track). For the rest of the day, probably week, after Slipshod told me, I kept having those thoughts you hate to have - where you allow the true reality to come to the forefront, and you think about how anybody could die at any time. You know, the kind of thoughts that can make you crazy if you start thinking about them and your family in the same sentence, as it were.

In an attempt to control my reality, I started folding laundry. I folded until everything was done, and put it all away. I washed three more loads, then folded them and put them away. Since that day I have done one or two loads of laundry every day, folded it while the girls are playing in their room, and that's it - long-term laundry problem solved. Over the course of the rest of the week I caught up with the dishes and even cleared off my worst "hot spot" for clutter in the kitchen. The leaning piles of paper on my Computer Desk of Doom have been sorted into bags and boxes. This weekend Slipshod and I WILL go through them.

This tragedy spurred me into a strange kind of action and now I seem to suddenly have a handle on things around here (well, a start, anyway). I wonder if it will last. It's strange - after all this time of failing miserably at balancing things around house and home I have suddenly figured out how to keep up. It seems like this stuff is working itself out while I'm not really looking at it or thinking about it. Apparently I'm working on the "lost" principle - you know, like when you're looking for something and you can only find it when you stop looking and start doing something else.

Now I'm just trying to get a little done here, and a little there, instead of getting totally overwhelmed by the whole house, like I usually do. Apparently my mind just needed to go somewhere else so I couldn't overthink and psych myself out about all the stuff I'm trying to accomplish every day. Sad that a sudden death was what it took, but I suppose you could say I'm putting my feelings to good use...

Ultimately I am still letting those thoughts of, "anybody could go at any time" stick around, but less in the "omigod, I'm not taking the kids out of the house because they could die" kind of way, and more in the "I need to get things under control and have some sort of written system so that if I go suddenly, my family will be able to carry on with some kind of routine the girls are used to" kind of way.

A Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday it was so gorgeous outside - I thought the clouds behind the stained glass in the girls' room made the butterflies look particularly beautiful. Slipshod's mom does stained glass for fun and made the butterfly mobile (or whatever you would call it...). She also made a beautiful lampshade for Sweet Pea when she was born, and is working on The Bug's lampshade. I just love the colors. For the best effect, click on the picture so you can see it bigger.

In the morning yesterday I took the girls outside for a walk - The Bug in the bjorn, and Sweet Pea on her tricycle. We waved to a neighbor who was home for just a few minutes getting something out of his garage, and he said, "I've got something for you two" to the girls, and gave them Serta stuffed sheep! ha ha! They're so cute. Sweet Pea's is a #44 and The Bug's says 1/2 on the side, and is about half the size of Sweet Pea's. He also gave us another 44 for Grandma, because when he gave the sheep to the girls I said, "omigosh, my mother-in-law is going to LOVE these." ha ha! AND, he gave us a Serta night light! I said, "so, I imagine this is what you do?" He said, "yeah, I'm the regional manager for Serta for this area." What a nice guy, eh? ha ha!

In the afternoon the girls and I went out to get some children's toothpaste that the local health food store had ordered for me, and then to the new Trader Joe's in town, which is only about 5 minutes away. YAY! We had a good time.

The Bug has been crawling up the stairs every chance she gets lately (which means, every time she needs a diaper change, and at bedtime), and as a result has been sleeping better! Rock on!
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Google and ye Shall Receive

When Sweet Pea was a baby, and really until The Bug was born, sometimes even thereafter, I would cut her fingernails and toenails while she was taking a nap. It was just easier that way, because when she was awake she was afraid I might cut her with the clippers (which I have never done), or she just didn't want to sit still.

After The Bug was born it was not guaranteed that both girls would nap at the same time, and even if they did when her nails needed to be trimmed, I would not necessarily remember. I would cut my nails in front of her, explaining to her what I was doing and then tell her that after mine were trimmed I would cut hers. Sometimes that worked. She usually doesn't mind too much when I cut her toe nails. But it's hit or miss with the fingernails. Sometimes she doesn't care, gives me her hands and sits still. Most often, though, she will yank her hand away as soon as I hold it, once she realizes what I'm going to do (I often try this while she is watching a show on TV, because she is sometimes distracted enough by the TV not to care too much about me trimming her nails).

A friend gave me a good idea - she said that she tells her daughter, who is just a few months older than Sweet Pea, that when she gets her fingernails cut, she can have fingernail polish on them. Same goes for the toes. I was raised to think that stuff like fingernail polish was somewhat whorish, so even though I got over that for myself by high school, it was initially a little weird to actually entertain the notion of putting fingernail polish on Sweet Pea's toes. I mean, come one, she's only three.

HOWEVER, it works. And really, what is "toenail polish," as she calls it, going to hurt?

When I told her we could do the polish she wanted it on her fingernails but I told her that she still stuck her hands into her mouth too often for me to be comfortable with that. It's possible that the nasty chemicals in fingernail polish are inert once it's dry, but I don't know that for sure. So we agreed that when I cut her nails, whether on her hands or feet, she could have toenail polish.

I have put regular old fingernail polish on her toenails, but was still pretty uncomfortable putting that kind of nasty stuff on my child. I searched online to find an alternative. I used search terms that I thought might actually make my computer sprout a huge mouth and laugh me out of the room. I typed in, "non-toxic fingernail polish." You know what? Google brought up this.

We ordered today - Mahalo for Sweet Pea (her favorite color is light blue), and Plasma and Tickle Me for me. Oh, and clear, and some remover. I've never paid more than $1.50 or so for a bottle of fingernail polish before in my life, so the prices here are pretty scary, but you know what? Non-toxic on my girls (and me!) is TOTALLY worth it. (My mother-in-law, who gets her nails done every two weeks, also told me that quality polish costs a lot more than drugstore polish - I had no idea!) Besides being non-toxic, there are also claims that this stuff is actually beneficial to your nails, instead of stripping them like all the other nail polishes and removers on the market. If anyone is interested I'll report back about these products once we use them.

I really didn't think I would find what I was looking for, so since I did, I thought I'd put it out there in case anyone else is looking for something similar - or looking for ideas to help with cutting their kids' fingernails!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Latest Developments

Yep, stairs. Here's Sweet Pea cheering The Bug on, trying to get her to come up to the halfway landing on Friday. The Bug made it up two stairs but was then distracted by my crunchy, juicy apple. Had to have a go at that. She is still not eating Cheerios or anything like that, but this past week decided to chew bits off my apple (and then let them fall onto the carpet, lovely) and has also eaten a few half ABC crackers (actually Earth's Best brand Crunchin' Blocks - but they have letters on them so we call them ABC crackers).

In language news, The Bug has started to say, "kitty cat!" She has begun to follow our cats around - crawling quickly after them and then "petting" them, which appears more to the untrained eye to be a baby giving a cat a beating. We're working on the whole notion of "gentle" with her. ha ha! The cats, however, trained by Sweet Pea as kittens, just sit and take it most times. When they've had enough they leave - they haven't smacked The Bug yet. Probably won't. They've never stood up for themselves with Sweet Pea either. Anyway, The Bug is so enamored of the kitties that she talks about them all the time, and she points all the time now, too. She says, in her super cute, chipper, high-pitched little baby voice, "KEE CAH!" Over and over. It's utterly adorable. hee hee!

Oh - and those stairs she was unsure of on Friday? She crawled up nearly all of them on Saturday. And today, ALL the way from downstairs to upstairs (17 stairs), THREE TIMES. She's outta control! ha ha
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Monday, April 09, 2007


Preparation - Friday Auntie B came over and helped Sweet Pea dye two dozen eggs. Well, actually 23 eggs. One of them was missing a bit of shell (but not the membrane) and looked like it would probably explode if I boiled it, so I didn't. A full 11 of the eggs ended up light blue - Sweet Pea's favorite color. ha ha!
The Excitement of the Hunt - As it turned out, the Easter Bunny somehow knew that we would be at Auntie A & Uncle's house, and hid the eggs there - can you imagine! Sweet Pea made a happy, surprised scream with every single discovery (23 real and 12 plastic eggs). We all enjoyed the hunt a lot.
Just Checking - Clever Auntie A helps Sweet Pea check to be sure The Bug isn't sitting on any eggs.

The Feel of Wind in Her Hair - The Bug LOVES being outside and will cry to go out. She has had little exposure to fresh grass (since she spends most of her time outdoors in the Baby Bjorn following Sweet Pea, who is usually riding her tricycle, with me), so she didn't even crawl around the yard, she was having so much fun poking at the grass and enjoying the breeze, and giggling while watching her sister run around finding eggs. This is her biggest grin - something relatively new. It always makes me giggle out loud. ha ha!
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Looks Like Trouble

Lynda, I think you were right - I should have just kept calling her "Miss Thing." ha ha!

Actually this isn't as bad as it looks. These are her teenage cousin's sunglasses, and what looks like attitude is actually Sweet Pea trying to keep the sunglasses on without using her hands while also trying to peer over the tops of the lenses.
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A Look Into Last Weekend

Friday evening: DADDY'S HOME!
Do I need to explain this? We loooooooove teaching The Bug new tricks. Grandma D started teaching her this weeks ago and it just gets funnier and funnier - seriously! Tee hee hee!
Speaking of new tricks...
Slipshod found a good excuse to spend a couple hours potatoing on the couch.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

Finally - A Working Weekend

I'm not saying that I want to spend every weekend working - but every once in a while is good. This weekend Slipshod and I made an amusing switch - I broke down most of the mountain of empty cardboard boxes that had gathered in the garage around Christmastime, and I ran the carpet cleaner around the house (in various places that needed to have pee-pee removed from the carpets), while Slipshod washed dishes and made creme brulee. He did do a little more kid watching than usual, too, but on Saturday his mom and her hubby were here to keep them occupied as well.

I am feeling GOOOOOOOOD to have finally done some work that has been nagging at me. Every day I can see what needs to be done, but for one reason or another a whole lot of the jobs are not doable when I'm here alone with the girls. Usually for safety reasons.

Now, gimme some love about this, check it out: I finally dragged the Nordic Track out of the garage and into the house! Okay, I probably really don't deserve kudos for that until I actually start using it - regularly - but I am excited to have it in the house now. That gives me a MUCH bigger chance of getting a workout than having it all dirty and dusty in the garage. And as boring as working out on that thing is, it has helped me get fit and lose a bunch of pounds in the past.

Slipshod is not happy with his creme brulee - it was his first try - but I thought it was great, and he had fun using a torch to brown the sugar on top of it. ha ha! Ever since we got a high definition TV, he has started watching cooking shows, since there is an HD cooking channel. It's definitely rubbing off on him and giving him ideas. We love to watch Alton Brown's show "Good Eats." He is such a hoot! "Ace of Cakes" is also fun to watch, as well as "Dinner Impossible." It's very exciting for me that Slipshod is intrigued enough to try his hand at cooking. He has been thinking of ways to snazz up the usual boring eggs I make for breakfast, and has fun making things he has never tried before.

As for the kids - The Bug is trying to kill me again. I can't wait until the next set of teeth come in. Sweet Pea is doing great, though. Sleeping well, playing with The Bug and teaching her things, etc.

Oh - and The Bug is really getting the signing thing now. She watches intently and tries new signs, and it is so exciting to actually be communicating with her!