Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Last Hurrah

We are finally finished celebrating Josh's birthday! We ended the birthday bonanza with pizza and chocolate cake with Auntie Em, Uncle Randy and Baby Fink at the same restaurant where we were eating when I went into labor with Molly. Josh was happy to celebrate, but he was not happy that he had to share the piece of cake with everyone else.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Josh's Birthday. Woo Hoo.

One of my "things" as a parent is to not overdo birthdays, which is one reason we opted not to have a big party for him this year (we're saving the big blowout for a real milestone: reaching 5 years old). Despite my best efforts, I still felt partied out today, which is Josh's actual birthday. The Epcot trip was celebration enough for me!

I did take cupcakes and juice to Josh's class, and he was thrilled. I'm sure his teachers were not thrilled with the icing and crumbs all over the carpet. The kid in the orange shirt (this may be what he's looking at in the picture) let the entire glob of icing fall on the floor.

It was fun to see Josh's class and meet his friends, who quickly gathered around Molly's stroller while Josh yelled, "DON'T TOUCH MOLLY!" I'm glad he's getting into the protective spirit--if she continues with her public-loving ways, we're going to need all the help we can get when she's a teenager.

Molly Goes to Trader Joe's

Taking Molly out in public is always an adventure. She loves going out, and it's even more fun now that she can sit in the shopping cart. We usually end up with three or four people standing around the cart talking to her or making comments about her, and today was no exception.

Trader Joe's just opened in Charlotte, and it's always packed. That meant lots of people were in the check-out line for Molly to smile at, and she drew her usual crowd of people making baby noises at her and talking about how she's hanging out of the cart trying to get people to look at her. The checkout girl was so charmed that we left with a Trader Joe's sticker and balloon.

So far, Molly has only been upstaged once in her quest for public attention. That happened this summer on a train at the Orlando airport, where she was beat out by a guy holding a 5-week-old puppy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Partying On

We continued the week-long birthday extravaganza today by celebrating with a cake and ice cream at my parents' house. We arrived from Epcot about 12:30 p.m., and an hour later we brought out the cake and ice cream. My aunt Louise, cousin Shannon and Shannon's 16-month-old daughter Allie joined us for the party.

Josh was thrilled with all of the birthday paraphernalia. We had cake and ice cream again after dinner tonight, and he insisted on wearing his party hat while he ate his dessert. He then used my mom's camera to take a picture of each us wearing the party hat. That means that fortunately none of us made it into the pictures because Josh holds the camera up to his forehead when he aims.

Late Night at Epcot

Our decision to spend the day at Epcot so we could be in the park for the late-night festivities paid off. We hung around until the 9 p.m. fireworks, which Josh thoroughly enjoyed by cheering and yelling, "Oh, man!" for the particularly good ones. He topped off the night with a large lollipop and another round of balloons from the nice lady at the hotel. Josh finally made it to bed around 11 p.m., whining deliriously that he needed another Band-Aid for his skinned knee. All in all, a great trip. Here are some other sights from our day at Epcot.

We first saw this couple when we entered the park at 9 a.m. We ran into them several hours later and they were still wearing the Mickey Mouse wedding ears.

This is one of the amazing moves of the Chinese acrobat team. These girls were incredibly flexible and strong, and they did several pyramid moves (this is one of the less complex ones) that would have put any of us non-acrobats in the hospital.

Chris and I really enjoyed a boat tour of the Epcot gardens, where they are experimenting with new ways of growing bigger and better produce. This is an eggplant tree, one of several fruit and vegetable plants that normally grow on the ground that were growing in tree form here.

Here are Chris and Josh in front of the giant golf ball. The bus driver on the shuttle from the hotel joked that Disney was working on adding a 600-foot statue of Tiger Woods holding a golf club to this Epcot icon.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Josh vs. the Jumping Fountains

We made an eleventh hour decision to ditch our plans to visit the Magic Kingdom (we learned it closed at 7 p.m. for "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party," which would have cost us an additional $150 to attend) and headed to Epcot Center this morning. Josh seemed somewhat suspicious of the giant golf ball and other offerings of the park, but he warmed up after awhile. We rode several very fun rides, visited Nemo's aquarium and then headed for one of the highlights of Epcot: the jumping fountains (at least in my opinion).

We have a famous family photo from my first visit to Epcot in the early 1980s where a kid about my age (our families went to the park together) stood in front of one of the jumping streams of water and got plastered in the face. I tried my best to get the same shot of Josh, but it was pretty hard to get him to stand still long enough for the water to hit him. I did get this photo:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Place Where Dreams Come True

So we've arrived at "The Place Where Dreams Come True," otherwise known as the Disney World Resort. We're here for two days to celebrate Josh's 4th birthday (Molly is in Gainesville with my parents). I made all sorts of sarcastic comments about this silly "dreams come true" slogan that was plastered in large letters on the entrance sign, but by the looks of this picture, maybe there's some truth to it.

If I was a 4-year-old, I might think this place was the end-all be-all (and we haven't even gone into the park yet). When we checked in, the lady at the desk handed us three big, warm chocolate cookies. We rode in the elevator seven floors up to our room. We went out for pizza. Another lady at the hotel gave Josh two balloons and a beach ball (then tried to sell us discount Disney tickets in return for listening at a 90-minute time share pitch at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow).

Basically, Josh has no idea what Disney World is. I think he believes we're already in Disney World, as he's been going 100 miles an hour since he stepped foot out the car. He's been bouncing, jumping, enthusiastically greeting everyone and generally beside himself with happiness. I can't even imagine what tomorrow is going to be like.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

10,000 Calories and Proud of It

I'm taking a night off from blogging about Josh and Molly to indulge in a bit of shameless self promotion.

Since I was young, I have at times been recklessly inspired by pictures of baked goods that I think I can make myself. Unfortunately, many of those attempts at upper-level baking have resulted in failure, such as the watermelon replica cookies I tried to make when I was a child. Today, however, I got it right!

This is called Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake, and I first saw it on (yes, I visit regularly) a few months ago. Tonight we went out to celebrate our friend Stephanie's birthday, and I had a great reason to attempt this challenge.

It took the entire day, including making crepes, hazelnut cream and chocolate icing, part of that while doing my best to keep Josh from licking everything in the kitchen that had touched ingredients. Molly even got in on the action when some chocolate icing dripped on the floor near where she was scooting around.

It was all worth it, however, when I made the dramatic first cut into the cake and saw this! Even better, it tasted as good as it looked. I'm just so proud of it that I had to post it on my blog.

Happy Birthday, Steph!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Union Mills, N.C.

We ventured out into the N.C. mountains this weekend to visit our dear friends and Molly's godparents Tim and Hannah Murray, who are attending an inter-cultural training institute in Union Mills, N.C., in preparation for a two-year mission trip to Peru. Josh and Molly love "TimHannah," as Josh used to call them, and we had a fun afternoon picnicking, throwing a Frisbee and playing Dominoes. We ended the afternoon with a bang when Josh tripped on the sidewalk while running full speed in front of the Murrays' apartment. Below is a picture of how he felt about his skinned knee. That's Hannah holding Molly.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Good Times at Nursery School

Molly apparently had so much fun at nursery school this morning that she conked out in the swing! Normally she's not a big fan of baby swings, but this is how I found her when I arrived to pick her up from nursery school. I had a good laugh with her teachers about it, and one of them kindly took this picture for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A New World

I think Josh's look in this picture aptly describes how we all felt this morning. Many of you know about our struggles at preschool last year, and this summer we made the momentous decision to send Josh to pre-K at a public elementary school rather than back to the church preschool. For Josh, that will mean full school days, breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria and a class of 19 kids. We've heard this program, called Bright Beginnings, can help kids make amazing changes. We're hoping for the best for Josh.

We left for school this morning very hesitant about what the day would hold. Josh did the typical wailing and carrying on when I dropped him off at school, but I checked in at the cafeteria about 45 minutes later and he was eating his breakfast at the table with the other kids (as opposed to jumping off the table or running around the room). After school he was exhausted, but he told us he had fun and he sang a song he learned at school today. We're encouraged!

Meanwhile, back at the house, Molly crawled all of the way across the living room. Here she is in the midst of her new favorite past-time: playing in the entertainment cabinet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Molly's off to "school"!

I wasn't sure how to document a 7-month-old's first day at nursery school, so here's Molly with her diaper bag. She started a two-day-a-week program today at Carmel Baptist Church, where Josh has attended for the past three years. She looked pretty happy to be there, but not pictured was Josh, who was 100 times happier that he was NOT going to preschool today!

Little does Josh know that on Thursday, he's starting pre-K at a public elementary school. He thinks life is now all about going to the pool, playing in the water hose, eating ice cream and watching "Madagascar," and I have no doubt that he's going to be in shock on Thursday. We're trying to break the news to him gently . . .

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Bunch of Hams

Here are my camera-shy children in the backyard tonight.