Monday, January 31, 2011

Why, Yes They Do!

Well, it turns out you can indeed grow tomatoes in January!  Allison planted her little garden back in the fall, and I was not sure if the plants would do anything in the winter.  It is usually warm enough here, but I was not sure if the number of hours of sunlight would have an effect.   This winter has been another unusually cold one, so we have had to cover the plants and put a light out there to keep the plants from freezing three times already.  It has been warm enough the last several weeks, so maybe the really cold temps are over for the winter.  Allison's plants have started producing quite a few tomatoes now, and she is so excited.     

The plants are even starting to send up new shoots.  It won't be long before we will have more tomatoes than we can eat.  Allison, always the entrepreneur, wants to set up a produce stand and sell her tomatoes.  Got to love the optimism of a kid! 

Right now, Allison's biggest costumer is Rachel.  She LOVES the homegrown tomatoes and will go into the refrigerator, grab a tomato, and eat the whole thing! 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

SeaWorld 2011

Last Saturday we went to SeaWorld for the day.  Allison got to go to Aquatica for her birthday a few years ago, so Leah wanted to go to a park for her birthday too.  Aquatica is a water park, which is not an option for a January birthday,  so Leah picked SeaWorld.  It is one of our favorite parks in Orlando.  It was a pretty chilly day, but that really seemed to knock down the attendance, so we had a great day.   

Here we are at the stingray touch tank.   You can touch and feed the rays, but we just watched.  Lots of the local birds hang around the exhibits taking advantage of all the fish that get fed to the animals in the park.  Do you see the big white birds in the foliage in the middle of the tank?   

We decided to pay a little more to feed the dolphins.  That was really cool!  Rachel did not like it at all, and yelled, "no, no, no, no, no"  every time I tried to lift her up to see over the wall.  The seagulls were very aggressive around this exhibit.  One flew in and took Allison's fish-he snatched up the paper tray and flew way with the tray and all of her fish!  

This shot may explain why Rachel did not like looking over the wall.  This is what she would she when she looked over the wall.  Looking into those mouths full of teeth can be a little disconcerting. 

Getting ready to watch the dolphin show.  We were lucky to get a front row seat right in the middle.  Well not exactly the front, we made sure not to sit in the splash zone. 

The girls rode the kiddie roller coaster a few times.  If you look close you can see Allison and Leah in the car in the left corner.  Rachel l really liked it too.  As soon as the ride came to a stop she said she wanted to go again.

Rachel also really liked the large playground too.  It is really just a maze of tunnels and nets, and Rachel could not walk across the nets very well, but she kept asking for more. 

Here you see me and Rachel trying to walk across the nets.  Mike was laughing because he had already had his turn in the rope trap with Rachel ,and he knew how hard it was to get across. 

We bought the fun passes that are available to Florida residents.  They cost the same as a regular ticket, but allow you to go back to the park for the rest of the year for free.  Hopefully, we will get back over there again soon, before it gets too hot.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Good And The Bad

Rachel had to go to the dentist yesterday.  In November she went in for a check up, and they pointed out that she had a new tooth just starting to come through behind her baby teeth.  Very shortly after the visit, another tooth popped through the gum.  Both teeth came in very quickly and were really starting to get pretty prominent, but the baby teeth were not getting any more loose.  I took her into the dentist yesterday to see if we needed to pull the baby teeth.  The dentist concurred that we did and proceeded immediately to get them out.  I was thinking I would have to schedule another appointment for that.  Anyway, with a little gas, numbing gel and numbing shot, the teeth came out without any problems.  Rachel was the perfect little patient.  She even went back to school after the dentist appointment!  She was none too happy to show off her new smile to the camera last night, though!

The girls and I went to a nearby park over the weekend to enjoy the nice weather.  They had a good time playing on the playground and an even better time walking the trails.  They found a mound of sand to play on and Rachel was having a great time trying to keep up. 

Rachel loves the playground and is finally pretty much independent on it.  I still stand right behind her when does some of the things that put her high off the ground. with nothing to catch her if she fell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Subtle Milestones

I have waited so long to be able to communicate with Rachel, and if you were to ask me if we she can communicate, I would likely say no.  Rachel cannot speak in sentences.  For the most part she will not utter more than two syllables.  But just this week I was thinking about how many new words Rachel has added to her list of words she says that I can understand, and I realized that she is already communicating.  Below is a typical conversation.    

Rachel:  Mommy? 
Me:  What? 
Rachel:  I eat.
Me:  What do you want? 
Rachel:  etzel
Me:  You want pretzels?
Rachel:  Yes.
Rachel:  Mommy?
Me:  What?
Rachel:  wovie.  I watch.
Me:  What movie to you want to watch? 
Rachel:  agon
Me:  You want to watch Dragons (short for How To Train Your Dragon)?
Rachel:  Yes 
Rachel:  Mommy?
Me:  What? 
Rachel:  I milk. 
Me:  Do you want water instead? 
Rachel:  No!  Milk!      

Suddenly, I have come to realize that we are carrying conversations every day!  It has happened so slowly that I have not noticed how much Rachel actually does say.  The words and requests are simple, and no one else would know what she was talking about, but ever so slowly Rachel is making progress toward becoming a talker, and I could not be more excited!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year!

We finished out 2010 celebrating and reminiscing with old and dear friends that are like family to us.  Two families came down from Alabama to visit with us over the New Year's Weekend.  Our friend, Bill, who passed away in August, was Dad to one of the families, and since his sudden and unexpected death, we treasure our friendships, and are doing our best to keep in touch and share more time together. 

There were a total of 13 people in the house and eight of them were kids.  The kids LOVE those kinds of numbers, and they had a great time together.   Unfortunately, Allison was sick with some kind of cold bug and pretty much slept on the couch the whole time everyone was here.  She was so sad that she did not feel like getting upstairs and being silly with all the other kids.  I think Rachel pulled her weight, though, she loved getting up there and acting goofy. Below is a pic of the moms getting ready to feed the hungry masses.

The first day everyone was here, we headed out to a nearby amusement park that has go karts, miniature golf, and arcades.  The go karts were a blast and the kids had lots of fun playing the arcade games.  Rachel was even able to ride the go karts, and she was grinning from ear to ear when she got to ride them.  Allison made it on this adventure, but was worn out afterwards, and it turned out to be the only thing she was able to participate in.     

New Year's Eve was our second day together.  Some of the more adventurous of the group headed out before sunrise for a fishing trip.  They spent all day on the rolling seas trying to catch fish.  Unfortunately, they came back empty handed, a little seasick, and tired.  But they did have some funny stories to tell.  The other half of the group, which included me, Leah, and Rachel, went to the zoo instead.  The weather was great and the zoo was not too crowded, so we had a nice time. Below is a pic of your landlubbers.

New Year's day was a little more laid back.  Everyone hung out in their jammies for a bit.  At least Allison could be part of the group here. About noon everyone headed to the beach for a bit.  Allison was still feeling tired and run down so she and I stayed home.  The kids had a great time at the beach, even though the water was a little too chilly for some.  I guess not too bad for a January day though!

Happy New Year to everyone and may 2011 be your best year yet! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas in January, Pictures That Is

December had us...........

decorating........Notice the wonderful help I had putting up the outdoor decorations.  They were no help with the stuff on the ground, but had a fit to get on the roof.  I probably should not have let them up there, but they had the best time just sitting up there.  Well, actually they complained that all I would let them do up there was sit, but they did have a good tme checking out the bird's eye view.  

baking is so nice to have the girls old enough to do them on their own.  They used to want to make them, but quickly lost interest and left me to finish them.  Now we can all all work together, or they can work on the cookies while I move on to something else.  Rachel did not take an interest in the cookies.  She does not even like to eat them, silly girl!

making candy........I tried my hand at making divinity again.  I had tried it once in the past, and it did not work at all.  I had lots of help this time and we actually pulled it off despite dropping my brand new candy thermometer in the boiling syrup and having to use a 40 year old mixture to try to stiffen up the candy.   I think the mixer just about gave it up right there at the end, but we did it!   

eating lots of sweets........The finished product.  
celebrating..........Christmas Eve dinner was shared with Grandpa and our dear friend, Regina.  

unwrapping presents............The big girls could not wait for this part of Christmas.  It is fun to have Rachel old enough to be interested in this after all these years. 
playing with the new toys Santa brought.........Rachel never really seems to pay much attention to what is going on around her, but she was just precious Christmas morning when she walked out of her bedroom and looked downstairs.  Her eyes got big and I asked her what did she see.  With eyes still the size of saucers she said, "Christmas!"  Once downstairs she immediately took to the new Woody doll and played with him most of the day. Who new the doll talked so loud!  Rachel has an older Jessie doll and you can barely hear her talk, but this doll is LOUD!  Did not notice that at the time I got it.  

hanging out with Grandpa..........Grandpa actually came down and spent three days with us.  He usually zooms in and out much too quickly, so we were delighted to have him come down and stay with us for a couple of days. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Trying To Catch Up

I have gotten so far behind in my blogging.  I am going to try to do better this year.  Below are some pictures of our trip home to Alabama for Thanksgiving. 

The girls love to ride the lawn mowers at Daddy Hawk's.  

Rachel is finally big enough to get in on the fun too. 

It was hard to get her off once she got going.

The cousins love to get together for a couple of days.

The kids' table.  Now I know why my grandmother had a kids' table.

After a while, it just gets plain silly.

After a warm start, the holiday weekend really cooled off.  That did not keep the girls inside, though.

The big girls decided to climb the tree.  If you look closely, you can see Allison near the top, maybe.