You have won 2nd prize in a beauty contest. Collect $10.

Our neighborhood has hosted a community picnic each May for the last 30 years. This year’s picnic included a pageant for girls, with the specific instructions “no pageant dresses and no makeup.” They only wanted sunsuits. Let me state for the record, I am SOOOO not a pageant person! But the casual aspect sounded good, and it was a Saturday - I thought it would be fun if I took Helen and paraded her around. If she won, it would make a great Helen Update, right?

And it was fun. Helen took a stroll across the stage with her mommy, noticed some posts at the edge of the stage, and bent down to touch them. It’s like she didn’t even notice all the people standing in front of the stage, looking at her! I was hoping for a big smile and a flash of those blue eyes, maybe even a little wave, but you can’t put that kind of pressure on a toddler. The best you can hope for is “no crying.” After everyone walked across the stage, they had us line up and the judges started whispering to each other and pointing at their clipboard. That was where all the fun stopped, in a hurry. It was like I forgot there would be judging involved. (duh!) I was ready to go home at that point.

But we had to see who won, and our Helen took 1st runner-up, along with some flowers. When they tried to put a sash & a tiara on the winner, the little girl cried and buried herself in her daddy’s knees. The sash fell to the ground, and naturally Helen reached down to pick it up. ;)

This past weekend we went to visit Brian’s uncle & aunt on their farm. Helen got a chance to walk around their big yard and chase their border collie. Too bad the cows took an opportunity on a hot day to hang out in the creek on the other side of the field, or else Helen would have had a chance to hear a real “moo.” But she charmed J. & L. in true Helen style.

Yesterday we tried the pool for the first time. SHE LOVED IT. She played on the steps for a little while, splashing everything near her. Then I held her and walked around in the pool, getting in deeper water. After about 20 minutes of trying to drink the water by putting her face down in the water then rubbing her eyes to get the water out, I noticed a little red rash forming around the eye area. Turns out she was rubbing the sunscreen on her hands into her eyes, and she must have been allergic to it. So we had to go home and get the Benadryl and take a bath to wash all that sunscreen off. But the pool sure was fun while it lasted.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!


Back from Canada, in one (expensive) piece.

I’m here to report that Montreal is lovely, folks. Architecture is stunning. I had no idea you could do that much with concrete. Seriously, everything we saw was made out of concrete. I guess it survives the winter a lot better. Lots more churches than I expected in such an urban area, and a lot more French paired with English than I expected. Signs on the street, in the museums, on the Metro maps - everyone we ran into spoke both languages fluently, so it was no problem getting around or communicating. But you wince whenever you buy something. I think it’s because they’re making it in the US and shipping it to Canada and then we’re trying to buy it there with a much weaker dollar. Then everyone laughs at the stupid American tourists, trying to fit all those expensive souvenirs in their luggage. I paid $8 for a souvenir jar of maple syrup. Oh, but it’s Canadian dollars, you say? Go price maple syrup at the grocery store. I still think I got screwed.

MasterCard is running a commercial these days that asks you to write your own. Here’s mine:

One bottle of wine and a French dinner in a Montreal bistro, ordered in our best Southern accents: $140.00 (Canadian).
Two tickets to the 1976 Olympic Park, looking for a possible 50-mile view from a 90-story tower in light rain & heavy fog: $63.00 (Canadian). (No refunds.)
A beer in a crowded bar during the hockey playoffs, and you’re the only American in the room: $6 (Canadian). (Can I have that beer to go, please?)
Getting enough sleep in a week’s vacation to catch up on a year’s worth of deprivation: Impossible. Ha! What were you thinking?

Boy, howdy, we missed that baby while we were gone. Her Nana B survived the week with flying colors, including one rough night of teething, but the rest was spent in blissful solid rest and lots of playing. Helen even got a nap or two, I hear.

When I came to pick her up, Helen looked so different. She had grown so much in a week! She was walking everywhere. And she says “Uh oh” all the time now. It’s her first official word. She’ll take her pacifier out of her mouth, look at me and say, “Uh oh” and then hurl it to the floor. She’ll look down at the paci, then at me, like, “Hey, get that, would ya?” In the wee hours of the morning, she’ll hurl it out of her crib and then cry until I show up to give it back to her. So there went all that sleep I caught up on.

We enjoyed watching Helen’s Uncle S. graduate from college – congratulations, S.!! - and at an after-party, Helen got to play with her Aunt M. and cousin M. M. *loves* to hug Helen. Thankfully we got a picture of it before Helen used her daycare karate chop on him. She’s a quick one.

Last week we had a giant rainstorm in the middle of a sunny afternoon, and afterwards there was a beautiful double rainbow. We even managed to get a picture of our pot of gold, too. Enjoy.


Installment #2 of Helen's Updates to Canada.

Dear Mommy,

Did you get my letter from Camp Grandma yesterday? I had fun visiting your friend and all of Aunt M's friends at big school yesterday. I got to play in the hall outside the computer lab cause the air conditioning didn't work in the lab and Nana said it was too hot for me in there. I really think it was too hot for her--boy, was her face red. When she took me out in the hall I discovered that there was the neatest echo if I screamed really loud. All the kids in the hall thought that was soooooo cool. I waved bye-bye to all of them and all the little (big to me) girls were oohing and ahing. Aunt M. introduced me to all the kids in her class but we left when I started adding letters and other neat stuff to one of the kid's PowerPoint show. I was having fun--don't know what that kid's problem was. But that might explain why Nana hasn't taken her computer out of its case (at least that I've seen) even though it has been upstairs ever since I've been here.

Today Nana said we are going to the bank to deposit Aunt J.'s check. She said I am going to play outside on the deck too. That sounds like fun. I can push the big truck around and see if I can beat my cousin M's record for dropping things over the edge into the garden below. That will reinforce the "uh-oh" that I love to say. I hope she remembers to take the camera outside... Did you get the pictures we sent yesterday? Nana and I hope you and Daddy are having a good time.



Helen Sends an Update to Canada.

Hi Mommy & Daddy,

I hope you guys are having a good time. Nana and I are having fun down here. Just thought I'd drop you a line and give you an update. She (Nana) is doing well and we are getting alone just fine - we did have a bit a a rocky start on Sunday, getting used to each other and all that. You'd think someone that old could get accustomed to a baby faster than that. I thought old people could stay up all night.

But now things are great and we are having fun. Yesterday we went to big school. Nana and I interviewed the special ed teachers at Ms. J's school so we could write our final paper. They all loved me in spite of the fact that I gave them a present during the middle of it all that scorched the paint off the conference room walls. (We left Coach a little present in the men's room trash.) We got the Nana's paper done and e-mailed it off by three. By four o'clock the professor wrote back and said we earned an A in the course! Yeah! My first college project!!

Last night Aunt C. and Uncle P. came over and stayed with me since Nana had choir practice. (Too much church, Nana!) We had fun and Aunt C. took all my sugar. Uncle P. is funny too--he kept saying he wanted to go home and leave Aunt C. with me. I think he really wanted to get away from that big doggie.

Today we are going over to that big grey school after our nap (what's with all the big schools, Nana?) to visit Aunt M. We went to the grocery store this morning and I tried to go home with one of the clerks but Nana was having none of it.

Nana broke out her camera this morning too. Good grief! She kept muttering things like "if only I had my camera upstairs." Just because I was washing my pacifier in the bathwater? And she really wished the camera was closer when I walked all the way across the kitchen and pulled a drawer open. Gosh, Nana's cabinet drawers open fast. It surprised me so much that I fell down on my behind, and I landed so hard it blew the paci right out of my mouth which made me laugh out loud. In fact it was so much fun, I tried it again but Nana said enough--time for lunch.

I told her to send this while I'm napping and be sure to attach some pictures since that annoying camera is out. Have lots of fun and I'll see you soon!