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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

You don't bring me flowers.

Mark never buys me flowers. Instead, he gives me stuff that I really like.

Like Bigelow Vanilla Almond Tea. I just love the stuff. I actually look forward to going to work in the morning because I know that when I get there, I'm going to have a cup. It's that good.

But like many food products that I enjoy, Giant Eagle has stopped carrying it. Oh yes, they carry 20 something other flavors of Bigelow, including their numerous vanilla flavors, but not THE Vanilla Almond. And I've tried other flavors, but there just not the same. We searched others stores too, but to no avail.

So Mark ordered me a case from Amazon. Just because. And now, I'm good for about six months.

The video game may have been more for Lauren than for me. She's obsessed with Mario right now and playing Mario has become a daily request.

But in spite of her parent's attempts to sabotage her cognitive development with mindless entertainment, Lauren seems to be coming up the learning curve just fine. She knows all of her colors and is starting to form 2 word sentences.

One example is "Fix Lita!" Her doll has a blanket attached to her head that wraps around her. I'm always asking Lauren if she wants me to fix Lita by wrapping the blanket around her, so it makes sense that she picked up on this.

Another example is "Eat yogurt!" which sounds like EET GERT! Yogurt is the one thing Lauren will eat without protest, so this doesn't come as a surprise either.

But tonight, she threw me for a loop. We were playing with our new Mario game when we took a break for a diaper change. As I laid her on the floor she kept chanting MAR-EE-O-SEE-PEN! MAR-EE-O-SEE-PEN! For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what she way trying to say. After I finished with her diaper, I turned towards the television and had a revelation.

When you stop playing the game, after awhile, Mario takes a nap.

MAR-EE-O-SEE-PEN! = Mario sleeping.

Who says that you can't learn something from video games?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Scrapbook: 5 influences

This is the project that has kept me occupied during the last week. It is a 5x5 mini album that I made as a gift for my Aunt Phyllis's 50th birthday. It's called "5 influences" because it contains 5 ways that she has influenced me.

This is the 4th mini album that I've made, and I have to say that this is my most favorite way to scrapbook. Their small size makes them both easy to manage and quick to complete, and there is little measuring involved (which is my weak spot). The album was originally supposed to be 6X6, but the post bound album I won on eBay didn't arrive in time. As a result, I had to scramble on Thursday evening not only to make my own album but to also come up with an entirely new color scheme. In the end, I'm glad that things worked out this way, because the album came out exactly the way I envisioned.

I have to mention that it wasn't until I placed the number "5" on the cover that I realized that together with the circle, it appropriately made the number "50"! I admit that for a brief moment, I basked in my brilliance, even though I'm really not actively brilliant, just brilliant on a sub-conscious level.

Here is another page. The rest of the album, along with the journaling can been seen on Flickr

Surprise - you're 50!

Last night, we attended a surprise 50th birthday party for my Aunt Phyllis. The festivities were held at Dave & Buster's. Lauren had a complete blast just running around like a maniac with the other kids. I swear if she could form complete sentences, she would have been chanting "Free at last! Free at last!"

More photos from the party can be seen at Flickr

Letters, we get letters.

Sorry for the lack of updates this week. I was working on a special project (more on that later) and as my dad said to me last night, there was a lot of tv to watch this week. I have some catching up to do, so this will be a multiple entry day.

First, I'd like to announce that this week our blog received its first comment. In honor of this momentous event, the commenter shall receive an all expenses paid fish dinner at the posh Etna Volunteer Fire Department. Congratulations!

Also this week, we received a wonderful card from our biggest fans in California, The Cervones! They were also sweet enough to send Lauren her very own license plate:

Thank you Dolores and Tony - we may just take you up on that visit some day!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Everybody sing..."All by myself..."

Since the stock market was closed for President's Day, I was off from work. Since Pitt made up it's own holiday to occur at the beginning of March, Mark was not. I'm still under the weather, so Lauren went to Grandma B's for the day.

Being home alone made today feel like a sick day. I guess that was in part due to the fact that I'm actually sick. Instead of resting like I should have, I actually accomplished quite a bit today. When you get such little time to be by yourself, you have to take advantage of it.

So I started working on a long put off project. Since we've moved, I've wanted to hang collages of photos throughout the house. I had several photos in mind, just not the time to get them organized. Most of the day I browsed through a combination of digital and paper photos looking for my favorites. Thus far, I've come up with over 50. When Mark saw them, he commented that that was a lot of photos, to which I replied, "We have a lot of empty wall space."

The project is far from complete, as now we have to decide what to group together and where, choose prints in color or black and white, decide on the sizes, do all the editing in Photoshop, order the prints, pick out frames and hang them.

Since it will be a little while before these go on display around the house, I will share a couple here.

Me and Mark, circa 1994 posed in front of his Trans Am. This was a few months after we started dating. It is also well before I wised up and grew out my bangs.

This is one of my absolute favorites. My Grandpap at the Playboy Club in Las Vegas:

Other than that, I took a shower, cleaned the bathroom, organized my closet, baked cookies (Peanut Blossoms) and cooked dinner. I tried a new recipe from Kraft called Parmesan Chicken & Broccoli Pasta. I swear that Italian dressing is an ingredient of every Kraft recipe, including their desserts. The lover of broccoli that she is, Lauren declared it a hit. Mark and I were amazed at how much she ate.

Lastly, Lauren is in the full blown "NO!" phase. She emphatically said "NO!" to the television when the Nextel commercial asked if she was ready to change her cellphone plan. Little does Nextel know that there is little arguing the point.

Taking things a wee bit too literally.

This is us if we were to become m&m's. You can design you own m&m at Become an m&

Hmm...I may just have to change the blog banner...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Three for the price of one.

I've managed to get all our photos caught up to date on Flickr. A lot to see there, but mostly Lauren of course.

Last night, Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Craig came over for visit. A shocking revelation was made that shook our family to the core. Apparently, the coffee that we have been serving our guests is...too strong.

Today was a low key day, as I was feeling under the weather. With the exception of going to the hair salon in the morning, I didn't leave the house. Out of boredom, we once again fooled around with the camera. Mark took this charming photo of me standing in the powder room. Definitely one for the mantle.

Mark was spotted canoodling Mr. Potato Head:

And for a brief moment, Lauren channeled Stevie Wonder:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow day redux.

This is a photo how the cherry tree outside our kitchen window appeared after last night's ice storm. Yesterday we got approximately 5 inches of snow, followed by freezing rain, then followed by approximately 3 more inches today.

So it was my turn to stay home. Since it was a special occasion, Lauren and I stayed in our pajamas most of the day and watched Toy Story 2 while eating pizza.

I didn't know until yesterday that there is Valentine's Day candy corn! For Valentine's Day, Easter, and Christmas, a couple of local chocolatiers visit our office building and sell candy at a discounted price. Mark loves candy corn, so I bought him some for Valentine's Day. He in turn surprised me with cupcakes and a scrapbooking magazine.

Our plans for this evening include dining on homemade lasagne, giving Lauren a bath, and watching American Idol and Lost while eating cupcakes. Life is good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's about time.

There is nothing that Mark wants more right now than an antique Grandfather clock. He's been searching for months for just the right one. So until he finds one, he is in the meantime tied over by this Seth Thomas mantle clock that he received yesterday. This is good, because with the exception of Christmas decorations, our giant fireplace mantle has been bare since we moved in back in July.

We're all suffering from snow fever today. I went into work, but was dismissed around two o'clock. Mark dropped Lauren off at Grandma's and then attempted to go into work, but ended up turning back home because traffic was atrocious. Symptoms of snow fever may continue into tomorrow, as weather conditions are predicted to become progressively worse. We will wait and see.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Melissa squared.

Today, my friend Melissa and I went to a candle party at our friend Sylvia's house. Before we left, I took some photos of her for her profile. I think that they will make for some good bait.

Speaking of fish in the sea, or in our case the pond, Mark and I are very concerned about the well being of our fish. Our pump has now ceased to work, so the water is no longer circulating. At first, Mark thought that the pond was frozen through to the bottom, which meant that we were going to have mass carnage when the temperature warmed up. Luckily, Mark was able to punch through the ice enough to see that the water was not completely frozen. Now the other issue is whether or not the fish have enough oxygen. Unfortunately, we can't access the pump to tell if it's frozen or broken. Since we just replaced the pump last fall, hopefully the latter isn't the case.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Photo intensive.

Spent most of the day just taking photos for the heck of it. Our first specimen is Lauren's new best friend Buzz Lightyear, or just Buzz for short. Lauren has seen both Toy Story movies, and for some reason, has become fixated on Buzz. Buzz accompanied us to both Wendy's and Giant Eagle. Can Lita claim that? No. However, as I type this, Buzz is lying face down on our couch while Lita is snuggled in bed with Lauren. Take that spaceman.

Our next specimen is, well, me. I tried to get Mark to take a photo of me for a scrapbook project, but the diva that I am was dissatisfied with the results. This lead to us each trying to take the worst possible photo of the other that we possibly could. The...horror. Mark got to see his hairy neck while I got to see my flab and crooked front teeth all in vivid color. None of these gems were saved for posterity. Sorry.

But I was on mission, which lead me to discover the self timer on my camera. This is good, because now we can easily take impromptu family portraits. Also, one of my 2007 resolutions was to learn how to use the manual features of my camera. So now I know how to turn off the flash and set the self timer. Stand aside, Ansel Adams!

Our last specimen is something that I like to call spreading vicious glee (Copyright Kodak). These are two bulbs that Mark is trying to force. You can just barely see a little green peeking out. Spring will be here soon, in our kitchen if not outside our door!

Friday, February 9, 2007

For the record.

In case anyone was wondering, Mark is not the father of Anna Nicole's baby. I for one am relieved.

Bring on the yuck.

My friend Melissa came over last night to hang out and brought Lauren some good ol' fashioned Mr. Yuck stickers. This satisfied Lauren's need for both circles and stickers (which both sound kind of the same when she says them, with a just a subtle nuance to the pronunciation), so she was a happy little camper. As a side note, those Mr. Yuck commercials really used to freak me out. "Mr. Yuck is mean...Mr. Yuck is GREEN!!! MWAHAAHAHAHAHA!!" Scary stuff. No one was going to find little Melissa chugging down any Palmolive, I can tell you that.

Speaking of yuck, today I received the valentines from Kodak Gallery. They're passable, I suppose, but the photos have a pinkish cast to them that my original did not have. Granted, when I uploaded my image to the site, it had a pinkish cast, but I thought that maybe it was just due to the way the site displayed photos. My images are saved in CMYK color, so maybe the site converts them to RGB color which then changes the look of the photo. Then again, I also ordered some prints in addition to the cards, which included the photo of Lauren that appears on the card. Those all look as expected.

One other interesting note: inside the envelope that held the cards was the phrase "Spread vicious glee." I don't really know what vicious glee is, but apparently I'm spreading it. I wonder if this warrants a sick day?

Anyway, Lauren does not have rosacea in real life, and that's all that's important.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Scrapbook: "Amazing Feets"

Here is the layout that I completed last weekend. I realize that this doesn't look like it should have taken several days to create, but with my limited amount of free time, I have to work on pages in stages - a few minutes here and a few minutes there.

As always, the journaling was completed separately from the page design. Sometimes I sit and write before I even pick up card stock. Other times I let a page sit for awhile before I write. I think this is because, for me, journaling is a struggle. I want what I write to be real, to genuinely reflect who we are and the lives we lead. For example, everyone knows that we adore Lauren and think she's the most cutest most sweetest thing on earth, but there are only so many ways to say that without getting boring and repetitive, not to mention nauseating. Plus, we don't want her to get an even bigger head than she already has, which according to her pediatrician, is in the 90+ percentile.

Journaling reads:"It's no secret that I'm not a feet person. I wear socks to bed. I dislike sandals. But when it comes to your feet, or "feets" as you call them, I take exception. I kiss them every morning when I change your diaper. I use them to tell you the story of the little piggy who preferred pizza over roast beef. For me, your feets represent all that is sweet and innocent. So for now, feets are just alright with me."

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Crab claws.

Every evening, usually around seven o'clock or so, we have our nightly ritual of chasing Lauren around the dining room table. This has affectionately become known as "crab claws," named for the crab-like pinching motion made by the hands that is so crucial to playing the game.

Of course, it's Lauren's responsibility to make the announcement that crab claws is about to commence. Out of the blue, she will rush over to you and declare "CAB CAWS! CAB CAWS!" And believe us, you better get on your feet and start chasing or suffer the consequences.

It's definitely one of those things that I imagine us discussing when Lauren brings a boyfriend over for dinner.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Sunday

Been eating lots of these - dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses out for Valentine's Day. They now make every type of Kiss one could ever want: truffle filled, caramel, cherry cordial, peanut butter. Me, I just love dark chocolate no matter what the shape. Not to mention that it's good for you too!

Lauren was in a much better mood today. I wasn't even trying, but I managed to get this wonderful shot of her holding her beloved companion, Lita:

Lauren and Carlita (Lita is for short. Sounds more like dee-TA when Lauren says it.) are inseparable. When Lauren is upset about something, she'll call out for Lita as if she's going to spring into action and save her. She even calls out for Lita in her sleep! I have a favorite photo of myself as a baby with my beloved Teddy, so maybe this will be one Lauren's favorites when she's older.

I spent most of the day designing a Valentine's Day card. Admittedly, I've haven't given out valentines since grade school. But when I saw these Martha Stewart designed cards at Kodak Gallery, I couldn't resist. I'm going to send them to the majority of folks on our Christmas card list. After all, who doesn't like to get some happy mail amongst all the grocery ads and bills? Then again, everyone might just think we're wacked.

Even though I don't have a remote interest in football, I watched a good half of the Super Bowl. We even had a impromptu party when Mark's parents stopped by for a visit. I kept pointing out the fact that the camera crew were suspiciously avoiding shooting the cheerleaders up close. All that hair and make-up couldn't be holding up very well in the torrential down pour. And then there was Prince, who very savvily wore a hair wrap to keep his tresses from becoming unsightly during his performance. He's a genius, that Prince.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

When pond freezes over.

Somewhere under all that ice and snow live approximately 40 fish. It's hard to believe that a few weeks ago the temperature here was in the 60's. Poor fish must be so confused.

Mark picked up the bed that he bought last weekend. As you can see, it gives him such joy that he felt the need to play air guitar.

As for me, I finished a scrapbook page that I started earlier in the week and a get well card for my mother-in-law. Lauren was in an extremely foul mood today, so most of the day was spent avoiding tripping over her racked with tantrum body splayed on the floor.