Learning to make a snowman



When I was young, we got snow every 2 or 3 years. When we did get snow, it was short lived because the snow melted very quickly. A typical snow day agenda was:

- wake up, watch the local news for verification that our school was closed.

- go outside and begin acting like crazy people, throwing snow in the air and have a snow ball fight.

- build a snow man

- build an igloo. Well, not so much an igloo as a muddy pile of snow we then turned into a “fort wall” to barricade ourselves from the incoming snow balls.

By the next morning, most of the snow was gone except for a pile or two that survived from a snow man.

Since then, my snowman making skills have fallen. Kiddo wants nothing more out of her snow day than to build a snowman. I couldn’t fail that cute face. I tried and failed a few times. With each fail, there was much snowball fighting and sledding. Kiddo was happy with this. But finally, late in the day, we were able to do what seems like an easy task and made the flippin’ snowman. It was a small victory from this girl from the desert, but a victory none the less.

ImageHappy snow day kiddo – Mommy loves you.

61 Months


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Dearest Bean,

You have survived your first month of being 5 years old. This is in spite of your newly found sense of independence. I want you to be independent, meaning that i want you to get dressed on your own, find your coat when it is time to go, put your toys away, set the table, eat your food while sitting down. You want to be independent, meaning that you want to say “no” to anything asked of you – even if it was not a question. You have gone from the kid who was very easy to put to bed and was very cooperative to the kid who refuses to go to bed, refuses to brush your own teeth, refuses to sit down while eating and saying no to any suggestion – even when it is something you actually want to do.

I have to say that the first month showed me that I am not a fan of 5.

That is, until Daddy introduced the best princess movie ever -Star Wars.

Early in the month was the first time I ever sent you to your room. You didn’t really get it and kept coming out. Once I pulled out the “baby gate card”, you understood that when you were “sent to your room”, I was out of options of what to take away. There was a lot of talking about behavior and consequences.

When you asked Daddy if you could watch his favorite movie EVER, the stars in his eyes and love in his heart. You fell in love with the movie and particularly loved the very special princess. Finally! A princess you love that isn’t a meek little girl who is saved by a boy! Also known as, a princess I can get behind!

Before we tried Star Wars, you went to see Frozen in the theater with me. you liked the movie and I loved that the sisters saved each other and the boy was there, and a good figure, but not critical to the saving. You thought it was a nice movie, but didn’t care too much about it. With Star Wars, you were IN from the very beginning. Who knew?

About the time you started watching Star Wars, and Daddy pulled out some of his old Star Wars toys (of which there are many), your behavior improved. Daddy says that “Star Wars fixed you”. I am not ready to give full credit – I think we had something to do with it, but whatever the problem was – it is back to the awesome kid again.

On Saturdays, you have started taking swimming lessons again and also started gymnastics again. The rest of the time you are as energetic as ever and have loved doing exercise videos with me. Although your version of exercise has been doing the first one like me, then jumping and wiggling as fast as you can, touting how fast you can do it. It is still fun to have a little exercise buddy – so even though I am not “as fast” as you, it is great to have the time with you.

As always, Daddy and I love you very much and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.

Love, Mommy

217 Days until Public Victory or Shame



A smart woman once told me that one of the best ways to reach your goal is to tell everyone you know what it is. 


It does seem odd to self-shame yourself into doing what you really want to do, but it seems that everything I’ve REALLY wanted to do and have told the world about I have done. I wanted to keep the life list going… and have managed to swim with dolphins – even though I really didn’t have an idea of how I would manage that one at the time. I said I wanted to learn to snowboard and learn to surf and all these things have managed to happen. But only when I am willing to publicly shame myself if I don’t do it. 



So here is my newest public shaming attempt at reaching my next goal. I am going to run (not walk and likely not fast) 4 miles by August 30, 2014. I’ve said this to some before, because I really want to run a particular race for cancer research locally – but this time I really mean it. I mean it enough to publicly shame myself into doing it. My goal is 217 days away and I am training – slowly. But really! 

60 Months



Dearest Bean,

If you can manage to remember this year, you will know why the letters to you have been – well, we will just say “infrequent”. You have no resemblance to a baby anymore at all. This makes me a little sad, but also very proud. Somehow, to spite all my good intentions but failed attempts at good mommying, you have grown into a great kid. Here are a few things that have been going on, since your last letter.
- You continue to take swimming lessons and continue to amaze (read, horrify) me with your brave leaps and love of the water. It is said, and I can’t agree more, that children are not given enough credit for doing amazing things. You can’t keep yourself afloat with swimming yet, but you can swim to the bottom of a 5′ pool and retrieve things from the bottom.
- Ballet has intrigued you, so in the fall I got a video of Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing in the Nutcracker. You fell in love with the story, so in the summer we started reading the story over and over again. I thought I was doing such a great job of exposing you to some culture that you had a passion for. You started taking ballet lessons and have proclaimed yourself an expert because you can do the “ballet walk”. Then we went to the local ballet company’s showing of the Nutcracker. You were mesmerized and excited – you named all the characters to me and when the Nutcracker dancer showed up in human form, you said (loudly) “LOOK, MOMMY – IT’S MIGEL BERSHNIGOFF”.
Culture lesson fail. I shooshed you and tried hard not to laugh. Really, the effort was there. I could see disappointment in your eyes when I told you that Mikhail Baryshnikov was the dancer, not the character name. I will still claim the whole thing and overall win, because you do love the story and ballet.
- You are reading more and more sight words. However, you are starting to “not try” and I am not sure if it is because you are afraid to fail or if you are too tired or what it is – I see how smart you are, even though you are trying to hide it. Instead, you are trying to get praised for things small children do and you’ve been doing for a very long time. If you can give me a tip, that would be great.
10988794305_442d867ae9- We went to Disney World! I really hope you remember it – I didn’t want to take you until you were older because I want you to remember how great it is. You had such a wonderful time – you got to meet Cinderella, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, Snow White, Belle, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and so many other characters – although the trip was vastly different from my last trip, it was so much fun to watch Disney through your eyes. Even though we did get all the princess vomit, as I called it. My very favorite picture of you to date is when you were laughing at something silly that Goofy was doing. The photographer got the image of you, perfectly! It was exciting that you weren’t shy of meeting all the characters, as you had been in the past. I was also very amused that you wanted to ask all of them questions – my favorite is when you asked Pocahontas why the white man wanted the gold – I dont’ think she was prepared for quite the political question from such a small girl. But – she did a great job – can’t complain!

- For Halloween you wanted to be a princess (what is it with the Princesses? I ask you – I want you to strive to be a strong woman who can be as feminine as you want to be, but also know you can kick some ass when it is needed (both mentally and physically). So why, dearest Bean, do you play “Princess” and “save me” over and over again? I even tried to meet you half way with offering up princesses who are good role models for you – Mirada from Brave, Princess Leia… there is even a new one – Anna from Frozen. These are still “Princesses” – with all the frilly wonderfulness… but manage to be strong at the same time. OK, maybe Leia isn’t all that frilly… but come ON, kid… work with me! (Ok, I admit – I am trying to force a standard that isn’t what you are naturally attracted to, so clearly you are going to go the opposite direction… but again, with the tips… I’d appreciate it). Your aunt said I should go with the Princess Aurora costume because you picked it, you didn’t change your mind and could use it for dress up for the rest of time… Although she has a point, and a good one – I still had a little hope you wanted to be Rosie the Riveter – then could play dress up with her for a while. Seems she isn’t frilly enough.
- For Christmas – you got it! You anticipated Christmas and got into the full spirit of the season.  Last year you got Christmas, but really didn’t get it until it was time. This year, you were so very excited from mid-November on. Again, it is so wonderful to watch the excitement of the season through your eyes. Bonus, with the excitement came your first picture with Santa that didn’t involve me pushing you closer to him so you could be in the same picture, no tears and you even asked him a question about his reindeer and asked him for a Christmas gift. I know these are things I wish for, but I finally got it this year!

- We got to take a trip to Washington DC this year and go see the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian – you were in LOVE with the whole thing! I love how much passion you have for dinosaurs and learning about where they came from, how big they are and how they relate to us in our lives.

- Finally, for your birthday – the birthday that fills one whole hand! You asked if you could watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Reluctantly, Daddy and I agreed to get you up, let you watch the ball drop at our party, then send you back to bed. You were so very tired, but I could see that you were very curious what this “ball drop” thing was. Although you were so very tired, I could see that this meant something to you and would have been disappointed if you missed it. Even though you were tired, you still talk about it and I am very glad that we listened to you and let you do something we weren’t sure about. You will have to remind us of this again, I am sure. Just as you are new at this whole kid thing, Daddy and I are new at this whole parenting thing… so cut us a little slack would ya.

Your family birthday party was disappointing to you. Of course, it was on your birthday after the NYE ball drop and everyone was feeling very tired… and well… rough. One of your friends stayed the night before, so was able to come to your party. This year, you asked for your party to be at Bounce-n-Play. Initially, I didn’t see the beauty of taking you to the party, having all your friends, then leaving all the clean up there.. so we signed up. However, your family birthday party in the past has been a preview of your home birthday party with friends a few days later. There are usually games, but none planned this year. I am sorry for this, and will do better in the future.

- Since this whole “5 year old” thing has come into the house, you have been fighting a lot more. I have to say, I am not a fan. You have lost so many privileges that Daddy and I are having a hard time trying to figure out what else to take. I am not sure if you are going through a conflict of “baby to kid” and still wondering where your ever-changing boundaries are, but I do wish you would at least verbalize what you are thinking… so we have a small chance of catching up. Until then, Daddy and I must have daily conversations about what you are allowed to do or what has been taken away… sad that we can’t keep up. Maybe we will do a board with every privilege you have, then write a date on it for when you can have it again. Thankfully, you are loving all the “extra privileges” you get as a 5-year-old. You can now wash dishes (most of them) by your self, you can organize your toys by yourself (not just pick them up and put them in a pile together), you can sweep and mop (almost by yourself) and you think these are great privileges. You have also asked if you can earn extra money for extra chores. Daddy isn’t ready for all that quite yet, so we are working on it. It will come, my dear.

That is all I can think of for the time – I do hope to have more frequent updates for you as you grow and as we figure out how to parent you.

I love you very much,



55 Months


Dearest Bean,

You are growing and growing. You no longer look anything like a baby nor a toddler – you are officially a “kid” – a big kid, as you like to remind us. Along with all of your “kid” features, you are also acting like a kid – you want to be more and more independent and love to do new things by yourself.

You love to brush your own hair – the small hitch in this plan is that you can’t really reach all of your hair. While trying to get it all nice and neat, you mat it into a giant ball of hair, then proudly show me what a good job you did. I try to let you know that you missed just one spot (failing to mention it was the entire head of hair aside from the pieces next to your ears).

twirlAs expected, the only thing you want to wear is a “pretty dress” – every day. You have one favorite because of how big the twirl is. The minute this dress is clean, it is the one you want to wear, and then proceeded to pull it out of the hamper to wear it again and again. I do let it slide if there are no visible food bits or dirt on it. Other days (when that one is dirty), you want to wear any other dress. Even if it has no sign of a twirl, you spin and spin, seeing the twirl in your mind.

You were given a name with a lot of options for nicknames. We thought we’d have one picked out for you, but none really stuck. Now, you have chosen your own nick name. I like to think it was my influence, because I used it when I’d sing to you to calm you as a baby – but the reality is your friends call you this name. I knew your friends would influence you, I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

Over the past few months you have taken swimming lessons and have LOVED being in the water. You are very good, except for that whole “breathing while swimming” thing – you have yet to master the ability to swim and come up for air. You will happily jump into the pool and swim to me as far as your one breath will take you. You also love to swim to the bottom of the pool to grab various things. With a float, you will flutter about the pool to go to the next location as though it were an emergency every time.

Although it is now August, you still request Christmas songs frequently. I put a ban on Christmas music until November, but you still ask. Instead, I put some other favorites on my iPod to listen to – you love all Muppet songs (especially Rainbow Connection), Wagon Wheel (by Old Crow Medicine Show) and a variety of Julie Andrew’s favorites from Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. I have also started the process to make you love The Nightmare Before Christmas – although I think the movie is still a bit too much for you, you always request “Jack Skeleton songs”.easter

For Easter, you requested that the Easter Bunny leave you a treasure map to find the eggs hidden for you. Luckily for you, your personal Easter Bunny LOVED this idea and had just the right tools for it. Your treasure map was found in your empty basket on the kitchen table, then led you through the house, the yard and driveway, even up to the roof – where you found the GOLDEN EASTER BUNNY. Your Easter Bunny was very excited that you were as excited by the result of the treasure map as he was at creating it.

We took our trip to see the family in April and you, again, had a ball with Grandma. She was getting in the dirt and working on a variety of projects involving sand, dirt and mud. Grandma even got you a pool to play in with a float in the shape of a sea-horse. The other Grandma entertained you by playing with the hose and her dog, who LOVED to chase the water. During that trip, we went to the local science museum, where you were able to name every planet as it showed up on the screen – I knew you loved playing with your space cards, but had no idea how much you were retaining (and clearly I underestimated your genius).

In the spring we went to a carnival, where you begged to play one of the games. I let you play the one I knew that you couldn’t win – and, you did. You even won a goldfish that you promptly named “Water.” The funny thing about your prize is that your prize required an additional $30 of equipment to keep your “prize” alive – then it died. After the autopsy report (i.e., Daddy checking the water), we discovered it was the water that was the problem. The problem was solved and you got a Beta fish – a red one. You named him “Red”. I do love your naming system.

This summer, Daddy has been working on school work so on the weekend mornings we have gone to visit all the city parks and pools – much to your delight. Your favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings is to go to the farmer’s market and get a honey stick. More than once we have come home with something you swore up and down you would eat, and then would not touch. You are eating normal foods, though the variety is extremely limited. Thankfully you love the standard veggies, so that isn’t a fight I have to worry about for now.

Daddy and I love you to the moon and back – even if you don’t want to read that story with us anymore.

Love, Mommy

Watermelon Mojito



This weekend I dove into the Mojito Plant (aka, mint plant) that has done so well and made some yummy cocktails. When a friend pointed out I had some watermelon that needed to be used soon, I obviously thought the best use for a bit of watermelon is to add booze to it – and the watermelon mojito was born.

Watermelon Mojito

I admit that I don’t really measure things, so these are estimates:

  • 3 mint leaves
  • Approx: 3 tablespoons watermelon
  • 1 1/2 shot rum
  • ice
  • club soda
  • 1 lime
  • simple syrup – make as much as you need at once with a 1.5 sugar to 1 water ratio. Just heat the water, add the sugar until it dissolves. I added mint to mine.

Muddle (aka, smash it up) 2 mint leaves, a slice of the lime, watermelon and approx. 1/2 shot simple syrup together with some crushed ice until it is a yummy mushy mess. Add the rum and club soda to taste with more crushed ice.

If you want to be fancy, add a mint and piece of melon to the rim and drink up this glass of summer on your porch with some friends.

Fun Fruit: Rambutan and Hami Melon


It is darker in color than the internet says it is, but when we get them, we don't really know what it looks like to be ripe.

It is darker in color than the internet says it is, but when we get them, we don’t really know what it looks like when ripe.


48 Months



beach1Dearest Bean – I have not kept up with your monthly letters this year. This is not reflective of the lack of progress – it is quite the opposite. You have bloomed into a little girl with no baby features left. Mommy and Daddy know they are still there – just as they will be for the rest of your life in our eyes.

Since your last letter, 10 months ago, you have finally been totally potty trained. You’d been trained to pee for a long time, but you were holding out on the poop. I don’t know why, but thankfully, we are over that and we are 100% diaper free in our house.

You will get yourself totally dressed, including your socks (slowly), and only for Mommy. Somehow you totally forget how to do it when Daddy is getting you dressed.

Several months ago, you got your 2nd bad haircut. Your first bad haircut coincided with your first haircut. This bad haircut wasn’t nearly as bad – but the hair cutter took the bangs too far back – making you look like you had a little toddler mullet. Now we have the fun adventure of trying to grow out some of your  bangs, while trying to keep others. I have been experimenting with a variety of hairstyles that take the bangs out of your eyes – most of them fail, but I try really hard.

In the Spring you started to learn how to write letters and have been able to write your name by yourself (even the spelling) since the summer time. Clearly, you are a genius! You have learned a couple of site words to start to learn to read, but that is slower. I will take writing genius for now.

For reasons unclear to Daddy, it is very important to me for you to get a picture with Santa every year. I just can’t wait to see them all together when you are taking your kids to see Santa. Every year to date, you have refused to get near Santa – Last year, my arm pushing you closer is visible in the picture. This year – our second trip – was a success! You stood next to Santa and while you wouldn’t tell him what you wanted, you did say “thank you” several times. I have high hopes for next year having you actually sit on his lap.

We got through Christmas when you seem to have received every toy under the sun – except those you got for your birthday. We will be getting rid of some older toys that are less played with soon. You have agreed that we can do this – I am crossing my fingers that you realize what it means to share our toys with people who won’t be returning them.

beachIn the last 10 months, we have had a wonderful time with cousins coming to our house to visit, we went to the beach with our good friends (where you refused to actually get in the water, but had a grand time playing in the sand. This picture is from the big sand dunes, but the bones were added after the fact – I love this picture because you were having such a great time with your best friend.

You got a big girl bike (as a prize for both giving up the binky and pooping in the potty, along with a princess desk). You learned to swing all by yourself (from a stop all the way to pumping yourself as high as you want to swing). You are still very shy and hesitant to try new things (especially food), but you are very thoughtful and excited to do things you have thought through (except food). You hosted your first New Year’s Eve party (early in the evening) and we had your 4th birthday party with a Dr. Seuss theme.

fallIn the fall we went to a corn maze and they had giant hay bales that you jumped from and had a BALL. For Halloween you were both Tinker Bell at school, then a witch when we went trick or treating with all of your friends.

I realize this is a random smattering of facts over the last year – and I am sorry for that. Daddy and I love you so much and I hope to have more time to dedicate to your letters as you grow. However, if I don’t make it every month, it is because you are my priority – not writing about you.

Now that you have celebrated your 4th birthday, you are getting more and more excited at the chance to go to Pre-school. Most of your buddies you have known for so long are going to Kindergarten  next year – they were born a few months before you, making them eligible for the cut off – and you are making new friends all the time. You are beautiful, you are so smart and you are going to do amazing things. We love you more than you know.

Love, Mommy

The most fun I’ve had in years


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My sister came to visit last week and I had the BEST time. We were off doing something fun every single day. The one thing I was most looking forward to was my trip to go rappelling down a waterfall with my nephew (eldest boy).

The trip involved a 2 mile hike, much of it was UP hill, followed by a few water slides (natural), jumping from a 15 foot rock into 8 feet pool of water, then rappelling down THREE waterfalls. It was AMAZING!!! Highly recommended and totally awesome. Here is a video (mainly of eldest boy).

This year’s Christmas card will not suck :)


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