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July/August Thursday :: 01 July 2004
Earlier in the week, Lilly whispered to me: "When you pick us up on Thursday, after Wednesday, let's go to Pick'n'Save and get a cake for Momma's birthday." We did just that and got some ice cream to go with it. I think Lilly and I were more excited about it than Momma was, but it's the thought that counts. Lilly put the single candle in the cake and helped Momma blow it out. She then proceeded to get frosting all over her shirt while telling us repeatedly how good it was.

Friday :: 02 July 2004
Lisa took the girls to lunch with her friend Amy at the Buffet ("boo-fay"). Maeve loved the mashed potatoes but insisted on self-feeding and got more in her hair than in her mouth. Later, at Target, she would not be content unless she was crawling and got herself onto every bottom shelf she could find sending bottles of shampoo clattering over the floor. At home, she finds no end of fun crawling up the front stairway. I guess it's time to get the baby gates out again.

Saturday :: 03 July 2004
I dug out Lilly's old walker for Maeve. She started timidly at first, but soon she was cruising all over the house, only occassionally falling on her butt or get hopelessly hung up on some piece of furniture. She knows how to change directions pretty well but she hasn't really figured out how to pull herself up the the thing though. If she falls down, she just gets to her knees and keeps pushing the walker. Momma and Lilly went to the grocery store and I hung out with (followed actually) Maeve. I think we went up and down the front stairs eight or ten times in the course of an hour. A couple of times, she wanted to play in her room when she managed to scale the flight. This consisted mostly of the dangerous sport of opening and shutting dresser drawers.

Sunday :: 04 July 2004
I was shooting some video of Maeve using her walker this morning. Apparently, I was taking way too long, because Lilly informed me in no uncertain terms that we were "missing the parade." In fact, we weren't. We scored a good spot on Holum Street to see the beginning of the DeForest Fourth of July parade. Lilly was all dolled up in the brand-new outfit she convinced her mother she needed for the "celebration." Both girls were quite distraught over the loud fire-truck sirens that opened the parade. Lilly soon forgot all about that when the parade participants started throwing candy. After the parade we went over to Fireman's Park for a little lunch. Lilly played mini golf and wanted to hit the "jumpy house" but the threatening skies and impending rain sent us homeward.

When the first salvo of fireworks was sent up from DeForest around 9:30, Lilly ran shrieking downstairs. She was well and truly frightened and I carried her back upstairs, attempting to explain that fireworks were just like thunder AND pretty to look at. She was so spooked she wouldn't even lay down, so I tried to get her to watch the show through her bedroom window. Finally, we put pillows at the foot of the bed and lay next to each other. After Lilly realized that her Dora doll was scared too and explained to her that the fireworks were just like thunder, she began to relax and actually enjoyed the show. I've seen a lot of fireworks, but lying in Lilly's bed propped up with pillows and catching glimpses of the shower of sparks through the dark tree branches has got the be the best way to experience a fireworks display... ever.

Monday :: 05 July 2004
Maeve LOVES carrots. We knew that already, but her insatiable appetite for them continues to astound us. Now, it seems that we may have found a food she like even more, if that's possible: beets. She shovels in fistfuls of the slimy vile things and hollers for more. As an aside, she does to seem to be slimming down a bit. All the crawling and walking is not only tiring her out, but toning her up too. Lilly went to Betty's house for a couple of hours in the afternoon while we met with our builder (or Lilly calls him, "Abe, the kitchen guy"). She returned home with a couple of loaner Barbies that she seems very enamored with. When I went up to check on her in bed at around 8:00 p.m., she was still quietly dressing and undressing them in her bed.

Saturday :: 10 July 2004
Maeve finally said her first words this weekend. After casually pushing her sippy cup off her high-chair tray, she peered down at it and said "uh-oh." It was no fluke, because when I retrieved it, she repeated the maneuver and the comment, this time with a laugh. Later, Lisa asked Maeve if she wanted a banana. She crawled over to the counter where they were, pointed up, and said "nanas." Now it's only a matter of time before she's as much of a jabberjaw as her big sister.

The afternoon agenda was pool party at Will and Sarah's. Maeve loved the water and splashed around happily with me on the stairs. Lilly, a self-proclaimed waterbug, spent the entire time in the pool, pausing only for cheese sandwich (which she didn't really like because it didn't have "our kind of mayonnaise"). Needless to say, both young'ns were succumbing to exhaustion as we loaded up the van and headed home.

Monday :: 12 July 2004
Lisa and I attended a funeral for our old friend Tom Layton this afternoon. The original plan was that Betty would watch the girls at her house until their bedtime and then (due to her fear of cats) the Roberts girls would take over. Not being able to bear the thought of Maeve going down without her, Lisa changed the plans and went home early. When she arrived home, the Roberts had already nabbed the children and were extremely disappointed that she was depriving them of Maeve and Lilly. Promises were hastily formulated regarding sleep-overs and matinee movies and the children were reluctantly given up.

Wednesday :: 14 July 2004
This afternoon, Ms. Pat recounted a tale of Maeve's amazing intellect. Maeve was concerned that the cloth hammock seat in one of the bouncy chairs was sticking up (another child had just been removed, making a sort of teepee). She pulled herself up, announced "uh-oh," and pushed it back down into its proper position.

Lilly's American Girl catalog arrived today and she became immediately entranced by the Bitty Baby Ballerina contained therein. While she's often all "I want I want," I'd never seen her react like this before. She immediately made me write a note to Santa asking for it. At bedtime, she made me read the entire catalog and stopped for a long time on BBB and exclaiming in a dreamy voice, "I can't wait until Santa Claus brings me my baby ballerina." Oh well, she'll forget about it by next week, right?

Thursday :: 15 July 2004
Ms. Pat reported Maeve's two mishaps today. First, she fell and cut the inside of upper lip with her bottom teeth. Then later, she lay on the floor and threw a fit (when a toy was taken away from her), banging her face on the carpet and abrading her lip. She seems fine but she does have a bit of a fat lip. It didn't stop her from shoveling in the carrots, beans, noodles, and bananas at dinner though.

Saturday :: 17 July 2004
We drove up to Lake Wisconsin for Sarah Roberts' graduation party. As expected, it was a lavish affair at the family's lake house, but maybe a bit overwhelming for Lilly. She was very shy with everyone including Molly, who really wanted a hug. Eventually she warmed up and before long was off swimming with Maggie and her friends (despite protestations from Lisa). Lilly was very excited to tell us later that she had been tanning: "laying out with the big girls." Maeve charmed everyone in site, actually stopping some people in their tracks so they could comment on her beauty.

Sunday :: 18 July 2004
Grandpa Hall and Auntie Ruth drove up for the day and we met them and Uncle Chris at Olbrich Park for a picnic. After lunch, Lilly dragged Grandpa off to watch her scamper around on the monkey bars while Maeve entertained Auntie by crawling around on a blanket in the shade. Next up was the butterfly exhibit across the street at Olbrich Gardens. The conservatory was full of free-flying butterflies. Lilly was beside herself — giggling and dancing with glee whenever one flew past her or lit on a nearby leaf. Even more than the butterflies though, she was enthralled by the huge goldfish in the central pond and excitedly dragged Grandpa and Auntie to see them. We then started on a walk in the gardens, but it was tiring for Auntie and hot for everyone else so we piled in the cars and headed to Culver's for ice cream. Lilly wanted strawberry but almost immediately insisted on a trade for my blueberry crisp. No sooner had I gotten my dish back from her, she sidled up to Auntie and began soliciting bites of her hot fudge.

Tuesday :: 20 July 2004
When I showed up at daycare this afternoon to pick up the girls, Maeve had a big rug burn on her nose. No one was quite sure how it happened (though they were quite sure she hadn't fallen). Over the next few days the spot got red, scabbed up, and then blackened making her transform from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to a Cats cast member. After dinner, Maeve tried using one of the kitchen chairs as a walker. She expertly stood up and pushed the chair around the kitchen with quite a look of staisfaction oner face, erased only when her progress was stopped by running into something.

Lilly brought home a new game (from Max, she says): "Cut the Pickle." She holds her index fingers together and says "cut the pickle." When I "slice" her fingers apart, she attacks me with an impish grin shouting "tickle, TICKLE." This game continued through to bedtime and we had to take turns cutting the pickle until I finally said enough was enough and had to close the bedroom door.

Thursday :: 22 July 2004
I was actually running a bit ahead of schedule this afternoon and arrived at daycare about 15 minutes earlier than usual. Lilly was not happy that she had to cut her game of "birthday cake" short and was very pouty and uncommunicative as a result.

Friday :: 23 July 2004
Lisa called me at work because Lilly had been moping around all morning, moaning about Poppa. When I talked to her on the phone, she tearfully explained that she missed me: "I feel like having you home. I want to have a good time with you." As expected, the fact that I had to be at work held absolutely no water with her.

Saturday :: 24 July 2004
We took the girls to the circus today. Not the slick, packaged Shriner thing this time though. It was billed as the last of the traveling tent circuses and it was on the VFW grounds on Highway CV. This was some serious inbred carny mayhem. Everything was falling apart and totally two-bit. We paid $5.00 for Lilly's two-minute pony ride. Lilly was thrilled but we kept a close eye on the toothless "ride" operator. The circus itself was one ring in a filthy tent with rickety bleachers. The acts were so pathetically bad that it was entertaining. Lilly and Maeve were enthralled; Momma and Poppa kept exchanging knowing glances and rolling our eyes. Suddenly at intermission, Lilly announced she wanted to leave. She liked the circus she assured us, she just wanted to leave. Who were we to argue? As a testament to how great this circus was, Lilly related every detail to Grandpa over the phone. Listening in, it did sound pretty good.

Thursday :: 29 July 2004
This afternoon it was pouring rain when I got to the girls' daycare. Since I was running a bit ahead of schedule, I sat in the car waiting for a letup. When I got inside, Lilly was all in a tizzy, asking Miss Jennifer why I was sitting in the car. "Is Poppa going to get me today?"

After dinner, Maeve demonstrated her cruising abilities: easily pulling herself up on the couch and then working her way, hand over hand, to the play pen and then the toy chest. Lilly got some toys out for her and she really took to the trucks. She spent quite a while driving them around the house and really did not want to be interrupted for bedtime. She hasn't added too many more words to her vocabulary, but is really hamming it up with "uh-oh." She draws out the "oh" and makes her mouth really wide and round. And then giggles.

I feel like summer is slipping away. A few Leaves are already fluttering to the ground from out big Walnut tree and I realize that each summer is the last I will see the girls at this particular stage. As I tucked Lilly in tonight, she confided: "Poppa, you're my best friend. I'm going to keep you."

Saturday :: 31 July 2004
I got home late from the Sonic Youth show in Milwaukee last night, so Lisa let me sleep in. She took the girls to Sun Prairie to visit her Pat and to go to the park. When they got home, I was up and we drove downtown for a bit of a walk around in the gorgeous weather. We had lunch at Ian's Pizza and both girls devoured their food with relish. Maeve just couldn't get enough cheese pizza and would scream for more the instant she stuffed the last morsel in her maw. We walked over to State Street and stopped for a bit to watch a bagpiper playing on the side walk. Lilly liked the music, but was too timid to put a donation in his case. As usual, Coldstone ice cream was a big hit. Lilly and I waited in line for 20 minutes but we had fun while Momma and Maeve sat outside. Maeve dazzled many unsuspecting passersby while Lilly smeared chocolate ice cream all over her mug.

Sunday :: 01 August 2004
We invaded Will and Sarah's pool again. Maeve was even more comfortable in the water today prompting us to talk about buying her a swimmy vest of her own. Lilly and I lounged on air mattress for quite a while soaking up the sun. Lilly did have a bit of an issue listening today. Several times, in potentially dangerous situations (around the dog, around the pool) she willfully ignored our stern instructions. I'm sure it's the age and that she'll grow out of it (if she lives that long).

Wednesday :: 04 August 2004
This week Maeve's vocabulary has been expanding. She adds new words every day: "go-go," "momma," "eye," "dog-dog." When she loses her Nuk during the night, she points behind the crib to alert us in the morning saying "nuh-oh" (as in, Nuk: oh-oh!). She is now walking all over the house with her little Playskool walker. She has become quite adept at changing directions and navigating around obstacles, including large dogs and big sisters. Her feet are quite a sight though. They are perfectly flat and she sort of walks on the side of them. She looks like nothing so much as a fish standing upright walking on its flippers.

Saturday :: 07 August 2004
Lisa's employer put together an art workshop for the kids this morning. Despite the unlimited resources, Lilly was strangely apathetic and not nearly as inspired as she is at the kitchen table. Maeve, on the other hand, really enjoyed finger painting on canvas. Later, as things were winding down, Lilly found a book for me to read to her. The passages about a mother getting sick and old really affected me and I had trouble getting through it. Lilly sensed my distress and threw her arms around me, whispering "Don't be said Poppa. Don't cry." But life goes on and lunch waits for no one, so we filled our bellies at Pasqual's. While we were waiting for our food, Maeve impressed us all by deftly inserting tab A into slot B with the restaurant's cactus toy. Her hand-eye coordination is becoming a wonder to behold.

Sunday :: 08 August 2004
Lisa left for a business trip to Chicago around 4:00 p.m. No sooner than she was out the door, Lilly turned to me and announced "Momma's gone; now we can sneak around." According to Lilly sneaking around mainly involves eating unhealthy snacks. I obliged by giving her a popsicle.

Monday :: 09 August 2004
While I was in the shower this morning, Lilly helped out by entertaining Maeve in her crib. When I got there, the crib was full of toys and the two of them were laughing, giggling, and shrieking at each other through the slats. I promised Lilly that we could "sneak around" tonight if she was good. She told Miss Jennifer (and everyone else) at daycare that she was going to have a party with Poppa. So after I put Maeve to bed, we had ice cream with Magic Shell on the couch and stayed up late watching cartoons on Nick Jr. Yeah, I guess it was a party.

Tuesday :: 10 August 2004
On the way home from daycare, I was playing some glithcy electronic music by a group call Autechre. Lilly cocked her head and said, "What's that noise? It sounds like a frog." I agreed that one of the mutilated samples did indeed sound like a frog. "Is there a frog in the car?" she mischievously asked. "No..." I said. "That's the music." Suddenly Lilly got very serious. "Poppa, that's NOT music."

Maeve is an eating machine. For the last three nights she has had an entire banana, a slice of cheese, and a breakfast bar! The books say that her stomach should be the size of my fist. Where does it all go? After dinner Maeve played in the living room while Lilly watched Dora. Maeve expertly dumped the four Sassy rings off their spindle and carefully placed them back on... over and over and over. When I noticed her getting tired, I asked if she wanted to go night-night. She perked up and pointed to the front stairs. I told her to crawl to stairs if she wanted to go to bed. She took off shouting "go-go."

Thursday :: 12 August 2004
Lilly has been bugging us about a Bitty Baby Ballerina ever since she got her American Girl catalog weeks ago. Lisa made the mistake of mentioning that she might be able to go the AG store in Chicago while she was there. This drove Lilly's excitement and expectations through the roof. When Lisa came home late Tuesday, Lilly bounced out of bed and, much to her mother's chagrin, immediately began grilling her about "her" Bitty Baby. We managed to put her off (thereby gaining a couple more days of good behavior) until tonight. She was beside herself when she opened the box. She practically swooned as she cooed over the (really rather ordinary) baby doll. Of course Maeve had to get in on the action, causing immediate friction. Just wait until they start fighting over boys.

Sunday :: 15 August 2004
I spent most of the weekend demolishing the back half of our house in preparation for our remodel/addition project. Lilly kept watching out the back window, telling Momma that she hoped "Poppa doesn't cut his arm off." Putting Lilly to bed tonight, she reminded me again of how taken she was with her Bitty Baby: "When I go to college, I'm going to take my Bitty Baby with me because I never want to be without her." As I tucked her in and gave her a kiss, she innocently asked: "So, we'll have a new kitchen tomorrow?" I wish it was that easy...

Thursday :: 19 August 2004
Maeve has quite the temper on her. A slightly raised voice, a denied toy, or delay in providing food produces ear-piercing, blood-curdling, bone-rattling screams. Her face turns so red that she looks like she's going to explode. Must be, as her Irish mother says, the Irish in her. She is parroting more and more words. Some, like "bye bye" she uses appropriately; some like "thank you" she just repeats when she hears them. Her cruising continues to improve. She often stands with only a tenous grip on some supporting structure. The only thing she lacks to walk is confidence.

Sunday :: 22 August 2004
I spent ten hours on demolition work yesterday and six hours this morning so I needed to spend some time with my girls. I hit the shower and we took off for lunch at Red Robin. (Or as Lilly explains: "we call it Big Robin to be silly... sometimes it's fun to be silly.") Maeve scarfed half of Lilly's grilled cheese and a pile of fries but still had time to be amazed at her purple balloon. She kept motioning for me to pull it down to her. Then she'd hug it tight and suddenly let go, scrunching up her nose and giggling as it sped upwards and stopped short when it reached the end of it's tether. On the way home, I suggested that we get ice cream. Lilly, of course, was very excited by this prospect. When I got on the highway, she asked "Are we going to the Culver's in DeForest?" Who needs GPS and OnStar? Lilly had a chocolate cone and Maeve quite enjoyed several bites of my flavor of the day (despite Momma's protestations). Hey a kid's got to have ice cream in the summer, right?

Tuesday :: 24 August 2004
Tonight as I was fixing the shower faucet, Lilly wandered out of bed to go potty. She noticed the handle on the vanity counter and excitedly proclaimed: "It's the same word," comparing it to the sink handle. "H-O-T. H-O-T. That spells hot." When I pointed out to her that this constituted reading, she was very proud of herself and gave me a big kiss.

Wednesday :: 25 August 2004
Lilly was sent home from daycare with a letter from the health department. Someone in her class has had whooping cough and she has been exposed. Great. Just what we need. Both she and Maeve have had runny noses, the main symptom leading up to the full-blown cough.

Thursday :: 26 August 2004
Lisa took Lilly to the clinic to be tested for whooping cough this morning. Needless to say, Lilly wasn't enthused about having a swab shoved up her nose. Though it did make for a good war story at daycare. ("I had Q-tip in my nose.") Maeve was in great spirits tonight and continued to practice using a spoon. She actually did a pretty decent job of eating her applesauce with said utensil but at the same time insisted on keeping her entire fist plunged into the bowl.

Friday :: 27 August 2004
We won't get the results of Lilly's whooping cough test until Monday, but both girls seem to be over their runny noses. Maybe we dodged the bullet on this one.

Saturday :: 28 August 2004
Lunch at Laredos. Lilly was impressed when we told her that a lot of the staff spoke Spanish (like her beloved Dora). The chips were a big hit but Maeve liked the quesadilla more than her big sister. Later, Penny Roberts called imploring us to come over so that the girls could finally get their belated birthday gifts. As all the Roberts girls gathered around, Lilly tore into a pile of Barbie paraphernalia. Maeve was, of course, more interested in Lilly's Barbies than her gifts and we had to break up several screaming/tugging matches. We tore ourselves away and while our laundry was at the launderette (the washer and dryer went to the curb in the first round of demolition) we got a little snack at Culver's. Yum.

Sunday :: 29 August 2004
Driving downtown this morning, Lilly was asking about how corn grew. Lisa suddenly ordered me to the side of the road by a corn field. She and Lilly snatched an ear while I kept a look out for any gun-toting farmers. It was a major feat to convince Lilly not to shuck her ear in the car. Later we had breakfast with our friend Chris Harvey, in town from Seattle. He was smitten with Lilly's beauty. I'm hopelessly and head-over-heels in love with my girls, but it was another feeling altogether to hear someone else going on about how beautiful they are. We went to a nearby park after breakfast. Maeve loves swinging; she had a silly grin pasted on her face the whole time. Back at home in the afternoon, Lilly was finally able to shuck her contraband corn. Unfortunately, the ear was rather underdeveloped and only about half the kernels were present. Half the ear was a sickly brown color prompting Lilly to proclaim in a rueful voice, "My corn is sick."

Monday :: 30 August 2004
This morning when I asked Lilly if she wanted raisins in her oatmeal, she replied, "I prefer not." I went to pick up Lilly over at the Roberts' pool after work this afternoon. The Roberts girls were cleaning out their basement and Penny sent me home with three huge bags of Beanie Babies that we certainly don't have room for. Lilly picked out a dozen to sleep with at bedtime and it didn't make the slightest dent in the mass of cleverly named toys.

Tuesday :: 31 August 2004
Preliminary whooping cough results are negative. They still have to grow cultures, but since the symptoms are gone, we're pretty much in the clear. Like her Momma and her sister, Maeve has eczema. Today at daycare, she itched her afflicted back and legs so much that she started to bleed. Despite this sad state of dermatological affairs, she seemed in fine spirits. When we got home, the foundation for our addition had been poured and Lilly wanted to get a closer look. It took quite a bit of explaining to get her understand what its purpose was. The girls played after dinner and, for the most part, got along well. Maeve gives Lilly a swat every now and then when she gets too close, but in general they really seem to enjoy each other's company. Lilly really likes to cover the two of them with a blanket and giggle in the dark. Maeve, for her part, seems to tolerate and maybe even enjoy it. Eventually though, she decides on her own that it's time for bed and crawls off towards the front stairs at break-neck speed.

Past diary entries: May-June 2004
March-April 2004
January-February 2004
November-December 2003
September-October 2003
July-August 2003
May-June 2003

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