Fun in the Sun

Last weekend Helen and I visited with my family. They had a belated birthday present for her - a doll called "My Twinn." Send in a picture, and they recreate your child as a doll:

As an avid reader of Stephen King novels from a very early age, I promptly took my mother aside to ask her if the doll would tell Helen to, um, do things to us. Really. It's a gorgeous doll, but a little TOO lifelike. I've got my eye on "My Twinn."

We also had a little swim party at my sister's house. Helen and Cousin M. had a ball, jumping into the pool and swimming for hours in the "wah-wah." Helen got a brand-new swimsuit just for the occasion. It's one of those toddler suits that has little floats sewn into it. Helen got the hang of it pretty quickly, and became a jumping fiend. This way I didn't have to panic every time she hit the water.

I've got a little clip of video for you of Helen at her best in the pool, which features her Grandpa, too - it's about 30 seconds long. Click here, and don't forget your sunscreen.


But ...it's ... GRAPEfruit.

Sometimes Brian goes on a grapefruit bender. He'll buy a big bag at the grocery store and eat two a day for a while. This month was the first time Helen wanted to try it. Her newest trick is to try something, make a face like she's just tasted gravel, and immediately say, "I like it!" She'll proceed to demand it at every meal for a week.

Grapefruit has been no exception. She saw the latest big bag on the counter this morning and asked for it. I told her no, that's Daddy's grapefruit. She said, "SHARE Daddy's grapefruit. SHARE."

That kid's a quick one, I tell ya.

I inherited the anti-grapefruit gene from my dad, who spent every Christmas morning trying to figure out how to make his "special Christmas breakfast" of grapefruit disappear so he could open presents. I think he had some willing siblings as accomplices, but some years it was probably a bit touch & go on whether he got to see the Lincoln logs or not. So my sister and I grew up in a house without grapefruit. Later in my adult life, I tried grapefruit juice and found the whole experience to be a little too sour. To be married to a man who's such a fan of the stuff is a little strange, but fortunately he doesn't put down a plate of it in front of me and make me eat the whole thing before I can watch any TV. So we're good.

But now I've got a kid who likes it and wants to eat it. So what do I do? Take pictures, of course!


Feeling bluesy

The latest news in the Wyatt family is the addition of a new drug habit: a wonderful (and expensive) ice cream shop just opened up down the street. You know the place - where you spend the same amount of money on a cone as if you walked into the grocery store next door and bought a whole box of the stuff.

Helen LOVES "icy keem" but her attention span is pretty limited. She tends to finish about half of a kid's serving before moving on to the next thing on the agenda. So here I've spent mega bucks on a pricey snack, and she's all done with something that MELTS. You see where this is going, right? Mommy picks a flavor she likes, too - more "icy keem" for me. I wonder how many more trips we have before she clues in to that trick.


Shark Bait

Helen got a birthday present this year that should be both useful and FUN - an inflatable pool.

Brian, with his former swimmer lungs, got the enviable task of blowing it up. Here it is, early in the morning, before it went to a permanent resting place in the backyard:

And here's Helen, testing the water from the hose (not nearly as cold as I thought it would be):

Helen spent the rest of the afternoon racing around the yard to build up some speed before falling headlong into the pool. It wasn't a jump so much as a STOP, THEN FALL FORWARD ON YOUR FACE.

Later in the afternoon, I had to put the camera away because she tried a new trick. Sitting in the pool, she'd fling herself backwards (fully immersed in the water), then flip over on her tummy and pop up on all fours. Her face dripping with water, she'd laugh hysterically and then do it all over again. She did this about 15 times in a row. Her mother was FREAKING OUT and HOVERING, picturing that one time she wouldn't be able to get her head back above the water, but she managed it without my help. Honestly, it was inspiring to watch her have that much fun. Kids absolutely live for pools in the summer, don't they?

Helen Goes to Camp

Brian and a few of his friends worked for several summers at a camp near our house. Now, every summer, one of his friends shows up from out of town to stay with us and drop his own daughters off at camp.

The first year they did this was about two weeks after Helen was born. The entire family stayed with us in what had quickly become a very cramped apartment, with new baby stuff piled everywhere. We had just bought a house and were getting ready to close on it and move at the end of the month. I remember spending the weekend worried about Helen making too much noise at night, and that our guests wouldn't get any sleep. The girls were pretty young - 9 years and 5 years old. Their mother spend most of the time shooing them away from the baby. No touching, no breathing, get away from the baby.

This year, I considered letting the kids babysit her while we went out at night. My, how things change.

Since their parents are out of state, they can't be here for visitation day. So last Sunday, I showed up with Helen at camp to see the girls. Checking in with the camp director, I learned that I could NOT drop Helen off in the youngest kids' cabin that day. I had packed her trunk already, so that was kind of disappointing.

I headed down to their cabins and met the oldest daughter on the way. She was so excited to see Helen. I heard all about the horses and archery, and she showed me where we could go to get our faces painted and have a piece of watermelon.

We found the youngest daughter in her cabin. I was sad to hear that she missed her mom a lot. This was her first time at camp, and she was having fun, but she had already decided not to come back next year. (And we'll see if that attitude changes by next summer, eh?) But there was a real casualty of homesickness in the cabin - parents were picking up another girl to take her back home.

I cannot imagine homesickness because I never experienced it. I spent eight summers going to camp, and the only time I cried was when my parents took me home. I loved it so much, I never wanted to leave! Brian enjoyed his time working at camp as well, and we've already decided Helen will go there when she's old enough. But now I've realized that it's our job to give her a few skills to carry her through a short summer session away from mom and dad. Things like making friends and dealing with new situations and enjoying new traditions - it's something that I think came pretty naturally to Brian and I, but maybe KIDS THESE DAYS just can't handle even a week away from the good life at home. Maybe if I spend the spring feeding her boiled ham and cabbage, she'll run to camp on her own.

Helen spent the afternoon running around or playing with rocks, eating rocks and getting her face painted. I don't think we'll have much trouble getting her to stay.


More Video

I found some much older video on the same tape as Helen's birthday stuff. I forgot about the time I spent documenting her crawling (and later, standing). So I picked a couple of clips and put them together a 3-minute video which you can see here.

I sort of teared up at the end, when she smiled so big at me. Really, it's amazing to see how much she's grown up. I can't believe there was ever a time I didn't spend all day saying, "Mommy said no." Or that she didn't spend all day saying "No!" to me. But video proof of that blissful era does exist, and I've been watching it over and over, to remind myself why I got into this mommy thing in the first place.

Maybe I'll start videoing more of her. You guys enjoy this stuff, right?


Birthday Video

For your enjoyment, here's a link to a short video (45 seconds) of Helen singing "Happy Birthday." I hope you like it. The copyright people should descend at any moment.

By the way, the video is chock-full of toddler speak at its finest. I'm fluent, but if you need a transcript, let me know in the comments.

Click here to see the video.

She's TWO?

Yesterday was Helen's SECOND birthday. And if you're like me, you're wondering how that snuck up so fast.

Instead of baking like I did last year, I ordered a special set of cupcakes from the bakery, featuring Hello Kitty:

Although she still can't blow out a candle, Helen made short work of the cake. She loved the frosting most of all.

We dusted off the video camera and got some footage of her singing and talking. Once it's charged back up, I'll upload some video for you to watch. So don't forget to check back soon.

Much love to you all.


Introducing Mrs. Amazing Babysitter

Saturday night was Amazing Babysitter's wedding. I had set up an Alternate Babysitter weeks ago, but last week she called to say her boyfriend surprised her with a trip out of town for that weekend. She had lined up Alternate #2 for me, which I thought was very kind.

The problem was, Alternate #2 never showed up. Not sure if there was a miscommunication or what, but I was all dressed and ready to go and 20 minutes past the time we had agreed on, she still wasn't there.

I threw a dress on Helen and put her in the car. She could sit through an hour long Wedding Mass, right?


Brian & I traded between staying with Helen outside and watching the service. So, when the bride & groom's getaway vehicle arrived, Helen and I got to enjoy it first:

Can you see Helen's reflection in the grill?

On the way to the reception, we asked Helen if she wanted to go to a party. Her reaction: "YEAH! I want party!!" It was bedtime, but she was still going strong. At the reception, AB & Helen got a chance to catch up:

Helen danced more than most of the guests. I couldn't keep her off the dance floor. She had a ball running around the floor, without her shoes, and bobbing her head to the music. And then one minute, she was dancing, and the next minute she sort of stumbled, and I picked her up, and her eyes slammed shut.

The bride and groom head off for their two-week honeymoon cruise around the Mediterranean later this week. Yes, we're all insanely jealous. I know they'll have a great time, and we're so happy for them. Congratulations, you two!


Washed Up

There's been a delay in posting beach pictures because we left the laptop in Florida. We always make a check of the rooms before we head out, but this bag must have been hiding very well. Perhaps it watched me take over a hundred pictures that weekend and decided that it needed a vacation. I'm not sure. Fortunately we noticed it was missing before the housekeeping staff had a chance to put it up on eBay, so it arrived back home today. First order of business was to load up pictures and post them all for you.

Helen had a LOVELY time at the beach. We got there around lunchtime on Friday, and immediately took all of our stuff to basecamp. Aunt C. headed down to the beach with Helen, but Helen was a little dismayed by the water and the waves.

She spent a few hours avoiding the water at all costs:

But she especially enjoyed it when her mommy left the beach chair for a minute to refresh her drink:

Our last day there, I went with another couple down to the beach for an evening photo session. I also got a chance to snap some good pictures of Helen, although by this point in the weekend, she was VERY tired of me taking her picture.

She crashed shortly after these pictures were taken, and my cousins will be pleased to know that I've shared the Cousin Trip Uno Rules with a brand-new group of converts. For those of you not in the know: if you play a 7, you have to switch hands with another player. If you play a 0, everyone at the table switches hands in the direction of play. (A word of warning: Cousin Trip Rules on a group our size means the game goes FOREVER.) But anyway, here is a picture of us playing, where D. is about to lay the smackdown on someone.