Sunday, February 28, 2010


Pony girl

By K.J. Cardinal

It's the calm before the storm known as March Madness for me, so we were able to take advantage of the nice weather today and get outside.

We had a nice brunch at Berlin Farms and included with brunch is a pony ride for any kids interested. Of course, Anna was interested. I mentioned the idea of riding a pony on the way in, but didn't say anything about it on the way out... but she remembered. Upon seeing the ponies on our walk outside, she said, "Anna ride pony? Anna ride pony?"

They strapped a slightly oversized helmet on Anna and off she went. She wasn't afraid at all as she took a lap on "Little Dude". She loved it...
We left Berlin Orchards and headed to Westford for Winterfest. It was a free family festival at East Boston Camps. Their outdoor sports (cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding) got canceled due to the lack of snow, but they still had hay rides, live music, camp fires and marshmallows, so we had a good go of it.

Definitely a great way to end a fantastic weekend. Let the Madness begin!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Acorns in the snow

By K.J. Cardinal

This afternoon Anna and I had this exchange...
Daddy: Anna, do you want to go for a walk?

Anna: Sure.

Daddy: Where do you want to go?

Anna: Go get acorns.

So, I naturally obliged and out we ventured, in the snow, to go look for acorns... just like we would do in the fall (see: A stroll with Anna).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mic check

By K.J. Cardinal

The new Pack Network microphone flags came in this week and Anna and Papa had to test them out last night.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our little gymnast

By K.J. Cardinal

Tonight we took Anna to her first-ever gymnastics class at The Little Gym in Westboro. After being shy for about two minutes, Anna took off and seemed to be somewhat of a natural.
The highlight of the night was Anna's ability to instantly pull off the "spider walk" (see below). She put her feet on one bar and her hands on the other and then walked sideways.
I've gotta say that it was very rewarding for me to watch her do this stuff. She was one of the older kids there, and I'm probably a little biased, but she seemed to dominate considering it was her first time. And... she was getting after it despite not having a nap today. She's a warrior on the mats. Look for Anna at the 2024 Olympics.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Take a chance, make it happen

By Tiffany George

Pop the cork, finger snapping...For those who enjoy going to Foxwoods, you may know this catchy tune that they once (and may still use) in their advertisements. Any time Pete and I go to Foxwoods we sing this song on our approach to the casino. Our singing on our last trip to Foxwoods was filled with anticipation for a different reason, however.
For Pete's 30th Birthday he and I went to Foxwoods for the night for a little grown-up fun. We had a great time, came home winners, and joined the new "Dream Points" club, formerly known as the Wampum club. About a week after our little getaway, we each got a mailer from the Dream Club with an offer. I got a voucher for 10 free points, which I thought was pretty good. Well, my high roller husband got an offer for two free nights in a hotel for every week in the month of January. We decided that a free hotel was too good to pass up, so we took the road trip with the kids.

I must be honest and admit that in the past when I would see people walking around with their children at Foxwoods, I thought they were pathetic. I mean, come on, they needed to gamble so much that they brought their kids????? Now I understand that for some maybe it is just a free minivacation.

We invited Grammy along on our trip as a way of thanking her for all of the time that she devotes to our cuties. I'm not sure who was more excited, Grammy or Andrew and Natalie. We embarked from our house during a snowstorm to make the trek to CT. We decided to break up our trip by stopping at Imajine That on the way down. We had gone there last year with KJ and Anna, and the kids loved the pretend kitchen, climbing structure, and other activities just as much this time around.

Once at Foxwoods, the kids were amazed. The large open spaces and eye catching stores were terrific and made for lot of fun walks. We were not sure what we would do while in Ct, but once we got there we decided to just stay put at Foxwoods for some free fun. The kids LOVED the escalators. We would just ride up, then down, up, then down, repeatedly. They also had the horizontal "escalator" people movers that were a hit too. To Andrew and Natalie riding these escalators was as fun as any amusement park ride, and it was free!

Aside from riding the escalators, we had two other major hot spot destinations: the pool and the Tree House Arcade. Both kids loved the pool, and both were much more comfortable in the water than they were last summer. Andrew, who previously rarely let go of the side to venture out in the water, plunged right in and swam all over the pool, confident that his life jacket would keep him safe. By the last day he was repeatedly sitting on the edge of the pool and "jumping in" so that his entire head went under water! Andrew even "swam" around in the shallow end without his life jacket on at all.

Natalie loved to swim and splash around the pool too. She loved to climb up the steps, then back into the pool, over and over again, and she was Grammy's girl all the way for this. I don't think Grammy minded one bit either!

We also went to the Tree House Arcade every day so that Andrew could play games to win tickets. On one of the first games he played on our first visit, he somehow won 140 tickets! You would have thought Santa was there! He was jumping up and down with excitement as the tickets were fed out of the machine. Natalie, on the other hand, was primarily concerned with putting coins into the slots. She didn't care about the game, she just liked getting the money to go in! Could be pricey :o)

Each night Grammy would retire with the cuties while Pete and I went out to try our luck at the tables. I ended up coming home up a bit which was an added bonus! Thanks for letting us do that Grammy!!!!

My favorite part of the trip, hands down, was on Wednesday morning, our last morning at Foxwoods. Our hotel room was set up so that Grammy had the first bed, Andrew was on the floor in his cool Cars sleeping bag in teh middle, then Pete and I slept in our bed, and finally Natalie was on the other side of our bed in her pack n play. On Wednesday morning I could tell Andrew was waking from his slumber, but I stayed put. He stood up in the dark room and instantly Natalie, who we thought was sleeping, started saying "Hi Bud, Hi Bud". Andrew went right over and proceeded to play with Natalie for another 20 minutes while he thought we were sleeping. They were just so sweet and nice to each other. Any time Natalie would try to call out to us (sleeping in the bed one foot away) Andrew would say "let's not wake up Mommy and Daddy, let's make sure they get all the sleep they need". This probably could and would have gone on all morning if we didn't get up and out of bed!

This was a great chance for us to get away from the grind of daily life and we loved it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tortilla face

By K.J. Cardinal

We had fajitas for dinner and Anna took it upon herself to make a tortilla mask. No encouragement. No tutorial. Just all by herself made a tortilla mask. We couldn't be more proud of our little innovator.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marked morning

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna somehow got ahold of a marker this morning. Thank goodness we caught her before she did more damage.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grammy Washington

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna was just walking around the house pushing Dora in a stroller and came over to me and said, "Daddy, can Dora have a dollar to get some snacks?"

Naturally, I grabbed my wallet and gave Anna a dollar so she could get Dora some snacks. I mean, we can't have Anna's dolls going hungry, can we?

Then, after a few minutes of pushing Dora around, Anna came over to me with the one dollar bill and said, "Look Daddy... Grandma"... pointing to George Washington.

I'm sure the Founding Father of our nation would be proud that kids these days think he looks like an old lady.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two ducks

Disney on Ice

By K.J. Cardinal

Spontaneity struck the Cardinal household yesterday as Angie conjured up the brilliant idea to go to Disney on Ice at The Garden.

A quick visit to and off we went into the city.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect out of Anna. I guess I was thinking that the conversation would go something like this...

Daddy: Look Anna! Who's That?
Anna: Mickey Mouse!
Daddy: Who else do you see?
Anna: I see Goofy. I see Minnie Mouse. I see Pluto. I see Donald Duck. I see Daisy Duck. I see....

I think you get my gist. She would just be a little chatterbox and not stop talking.

Well, I was completely wrong.

When we first walked into The Garden, we bought her this Mickey Mouse glow-in-the-dark globe thing (pictured at right). We had to remortgage our house to buy it, but Anna's excitement was well worth it. And, she calls it her "magic wand", so it's rather priceless.

The show was just getting started, so we scurried in to sit down. When Anna first laid her eyes on the ice, she did say "Look, Mickey Mouse!"

But for the "first act" of the show (probably 30 minutes or so), Anna sat there in complete silence, eyes WIDE open and I swear she didn't blink once. She was just in sheer amazement... and completely neglecting her "magic wand."

I was trying to crack her, get her to smile, get her to clap, get her to dance. But nothing. She was in a staring competition with the ice and no chance I was going to distract her.

At the intermission, Anna had some chocolate milk and cookies and kept saying "Mickey, come back? Mickey, come back?" So, it's clear that her silence didn't mean that she wasn't enjoying herself... in fact, quite the opposite.

The second and final act started and Anna had transformed. She was bouncing up and down on my lap, clapping her hands, pointing out all the characters and reacting the way we had actually anticipated from the beginning.

It was so great. Unfortunately it was too dark to get video on my iPhone, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

After the show we headed over to The Fours for Anna's first trip to the Cardinal staple. We had a quick dinner and then headed home.

Perhaps the best part of the day though was when we got in the car and Anna wanted to call Sammy, who was home sick recovering from the chicken pox. Here's how the conversation went...

Anna: Hi Sammy.
Sammy: Hi Anna. Did you have fun?
Anna: Yeah! I saw Mickey Mouse. I saw Goofy. I saw Minnie Mouse. I saw Pluto. I saw Donald Duck. I saw Tigger (which was a complete lie). I saw Princess. I saw...

She probably rambled on for a good five minutes. Glad to see that Anna was back to her chatty self.

It was a rather pricey day, but well worth it just to see Anna have so much fun. At least this morning when Anna woke up she said, "Oh no! I lost my magic wand!"

"Don't worry," I reassured her, "it's in your hand." Right where it was when she fell asleep.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Dasher, On Dancer....

By Tiffany George

On Prancer and Vixen, On COMET!!!!!

Yes, that's it! Comet! That is the name that Andrew chose, all on his own, for his first real pet.

The kids adore animals and I try to take them to the pet store/zoo/fair as often as I can to help them develop the love of animals that somehow didn't make its way into my genes. Pete and I had talked a lot about what pet to get for our cuties. Pete was strongly in the cat camp, as he loved his cat Butterscotch growing up, and just thought that would be a nice fit for our family. So a few Fridays ago we set out to Exeter to the SPCA to check out the cats. Andrew liked them just fine, but Natalie was rather terrified if they came right up to her. It probably didn't help that one of the cats was in desperate need of attention and practically climbed into your skin for a rub.

Realizing that cats probably weren't in our future, I asked Andrew if he wanted to go to a different Humane Society in Dover to see some kittens. At first he did, but then he realized that seeing the kittens meant we wouldn't have enough time to have lunch with Daddy, so he promptly axed the kitten idea.

We had a little time before lunch and I knew of a pet store in Exeter that was just down the street, so we stopped by. Andrew loved the bunnies at the pet store at the Fox Run Mall, so we headed in that direction. As soon as we got permission, we opened the bunny cage and both Andrew AND Natalie were in awe of these adorable little bunnies. The previously timid Natalie just kept saying "rub you" to the bunnies, while reaching right in to pet them. They both fell in love with this one bunny who came hopping right over.

Needless to say, we easily convinced Daddy that a bunny was right for us, and the rest is history. Comet, our Siamese-cat colored bunny, now resides in his cage in our dining room. He gets plenty of attention and enjoys the action all day long. The kids love him because they can feed him different fruits and veggies throughout the day. Carrots, spinach, and apples have gone over well so far. They have also equipped his cage with plenty of toys ranging from card board boxes to toy keys.

We take him out to hop around the house a few times a day and the kids love it. We are aware that bunnies can be destructive as far as eating couches and scratching up carpets, so we have our eyes and ears on him at all times. The kids are so helpful in that regard. Andrew even found an old blanket that he said he has outgrown for the bunny to use to scratch. And Natalie is always on poop patrol, as she shouts out "nother one poop" the instant a rabbit raisin hits the floor!
Our bunny has (so far) been incredibly gentle with the kids, not even a single attempt at biting to date. The kids are just so nice and gentle with him. They always approach him slowly and give him space to explore, which is quite remarkable for their ages. Andrew will stand there, bare foot and all, and just let the bunny sniff his feet without any fear at all. The bunny likes to lay on the floor in front of the pellet stove, and Natalie will lay down with her face about 3 inches from his, just saying "hi bunny, hi comet". It is adorable.

We hope you can meet him someday! And his buddy Dancer the fish too!

A Valentine's to Remember

By Katie Cardinal

So I know this whole blog is meant to talk about the Cardinal family and the adorable little kids, but I just HAD to write something about my fantastic Valentine's Day.

About two weeks before Valentine's Day Norm said that he had something planned for us to do. Naturally, I tried to think of anything and everything that it could be, but I just couldn't figure it out. So yesterday we got up and I gave Norm his present...Katie & Norm OPOLY...and we played that then went to lunch at Kowloons. Norm told me that what we were going to do wasn't taking place until 9:30, which made me even MORE confused...9:30 on a Sunday night?!?!

Around 6pm he told me that I had to dress up for the occasion and that he was wearing dress pants - YIPPEE!! As if see my boyfriend dressed up isn't a perfect gift in itself :) Anyways, I put on my cute little black dress and off we went to a "secret" place. We drove on 95 South for quite a while and I was still trying to brainstorm where we were going. About 40 minutes into the drive he says, "here it is!"....THE MELTING POT!!!

For those you who don't know what The Melting Pot is, it's this really awesome fondue restaurant where you not only make your own food in a fondue pot, but also dip delicious treats in cheese and chocolate. It's quite obvious how much my adorable boyfriend pays attention to what I say because I have been dying to go to this place for years!

So we got in the place and it was very cool looking...definitely a modern place. We took a seat at the bar because we were a little early and awaited our delicious meal! What was extra cool that night was that instead of just picking a few (very pricey) things off the menu, it was a special Valentine's menu. After about 20 minutes we were brought to our seats which are literally private booths for couples. It's shaped like an L and it's constructed so that there are walls around 3 sides of the booth so you can't see anyone else eating or walking by...VERY ROMANTIC! Since it was the Valentine's Special we had to decide which of the meals we were going to get....and Norm let me choose EVERYTHING! So we started off with a Cheddar Cheese fondue that had cranberries, walnuts, and hard cider in it. It was PHENOMENAL. They gave us some vegetables, rosemary bread, and granny smith apples to dip in it and it was honestly the best appetizer I've ever had in my entire life. The plates looked like they were from the stone age, which just added to the fact that you were "cooking" your own food and the colored pokers were just SO cool. Oh, and they made the fondue right there in front of you. I thought it was extra awesome when our server, Shawn, was making it and decided he needed just a little more cheese and went and got some more for the pot!

Second course was a salad. I got a spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts and a yummy poppy seed dressing. But lets be honest, with all the food, who's really gonna waste time on a salad? Next was DELICIOUS lemon sorbet over strawberries. Norm thought I was the biggest geek for loving the sorbet so much.

The entree was next and we choose the "Cupid's Delight" that consisted of lobster, New York strip, shrimp, chicken, sausage, and raviolis. Each of the components had a very unique sauce to go with them. We also got to choose which broth we'd cook all the stuff in, so we chose the vegetable stock. It's so cool that all the meat comes out raw and you get to cook it in the bucket and decide which sauces fit your style. As you can imagine, I was in HEAVEN!!!

After eating the entree came DESSERT!!! We got the "Ying Yang" dessert that was a half dark chocolate half white chocolate fondue pot that came out shaped like the ying yang symbol. We got everything from cheesecake and marshmallows to brownies and rice crispy treats to dip in it. Norm's favorite were the strawberries and bananas! Needless to say, I think you could have rolled me out of the place when we were done. To top off our meal I got a nice little cup of tea to settle my stomach after such a BIG meal!

All in all this was the best Valentine's Day I've ever had. Never have I felt so special and loved in all my life. I've officially decided that Valentine's Day is not only my favorite holiday (sorry, Christmas), but also my favorite day of the year!!!

Thanks Norm, I love you!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Cardinal Vault XX: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

By K.J. Cardinal

Well, it's Super Sunday and all the roman numerals have reminded me that I haven't made an entry into The Cardinal Vault in quite some time. So, what better way to commemorate a Sunday, Sunday, Sunday than with a good old monster truck photo.

The 20th edition of The Cardinal Vault takes us back to June of 1985.
Here, Tiffany and I both easily fit inside the rim of a monster truck tire at the Rochester Fairgrounds.

It's a great photo and classic photo op, but my favorite part is absolutely my hat. I remember that it was a free giveaway at a C's game back in the day and I cherished that thing. I used to wear it religiously... that is until I got Bill Walton and Greg Kite to autograph it during the 1985-86 season. That's right... Greg Kite. I know, I'm a big timer.

Enjoy the Super Bowl tonight everyone. Think of me as I'll be spending all day at the Northeast-10 Swimming & Diving Championships at Southern Connecticut State University. What a way to enjoy this glorious Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

28 months... going on 15

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna is officially 28-months-old today, but in this photo I snapped this afternoon, she looks like a teenager.

I mean seriously. Can't we just slow this growing up thing down just a little bit?

Figuring out her way around an iPhone is one thing, but when she asks to wear Sammy's hat and insists on donning a vest instead of a coat, I have to wonder how on earth do I slow down this process.

It really is unbelievable to me how fast Anna is growing up. We are in the midst of basketball season right now and I often find myself on the road for two or three nights in a row and every time I return, I feel as if Anna has changed in so many ways.

When you're living it day-to-day, you almost don't get to appreciate the little developmental subtleties as much that are occurring at an alarming rate.

I know it may seem like my way of convincing myself that this traveling stuff and working way too much is OK (and that may be part of it). But, I think that the old saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" applies to the growth and development of your child... obviously to a certain extent... I'm not condoning being a deadbeat dad or anything :)

Having spent just about every waking second with Anna for her first year, and now traveling quite a bit for work, I have seen both sides and I think that I appreciate and adore the little steps of progress that Anna's making on a daily basis more so now that I might only see her five out of seven days of the week.

This is probably my "glass half full" mentality, but it gets me through these busy times of work when I miss my girls so much.

Anna and I had a great day today, which included a site visit to Merrimack College for tomorrow's basketball doubleheader, a trip to the mall and a walk around the neighborhood. I'm away all weekend for work, but I'm already looking forward to "daddy duty" on Monday so I can see the newest things that Anna's picked up while I've been away.

Anna, let me soak these moments in when I can and stop growing up so fast, please.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Raising a nerd

By K.J. Cardinal

I guess to no one's surprise, really, Anna has turned into somewhat of a tech savant. A nerd, if you will.

The fact that her father runs this blog, produces online video for a living and is a whiz with Photoshop, I'm sure we all expected this. But, I don't think I ever envisioned her entering Nerdom until much later in life. I mean, the kid's only 28-months-old and she's more tech savvy than a lot of grown men and women I know.

When I was a kid, Tiffany and I would fight over who got to push the buttons in an elevator. Now, Anna battles with us to play her favorite TV show on-demand, let her have a turn on the Wii, watch a blu ray, or her favorite, check out her songs, movies and games on our iPhones. It's rather insane.

At just six-days-old, I ran the above photo in a post entitled "Work-at-home Dad." In hindsight, I should've called it "Nerd in training", because that's what has apparently happened.

It's now second nature for Anna to point at the icon on the desktop of my computer and ask me to "play Back in the day". Do you know of another 28-month-old that can identify the home page of Youtube and ask to "watch Mater"? I doubt it.

These are all things that make up the wonderful Anna, but what's really astonishing is watching her navigate her way around the iPhone. I swear that Steve Jobs would die laughing if he saw her motoring her way through pages of apps to find the one she wants.

When I was a child, I can clearly recall knowing what the cover of the Eagles Greatest Hits album looked like because it sat in my parent's livingroom next to the record player and my dad would blare "Already Gone" at ear-damaging decibels. Now, Anna knows the album cover to multiple albums by Jack Johnson, Kings of Leon, Counting Crows, Weezer, etc. because she knows how to turn the iPhone sideways to use the cover flow view to select the song she wants to hear.

Just the other day I went to listen to some music in the iPod app of my iPhone and there was a playlist that popped up that I had not made nor ever seen before. Apparently, Anna made a "genius" playlist for the song "In one ear" by Cage the Elephant... it was so awesome that I saved the list and listen to it all the time. Coincidental? Maybe. But, the playlist did feature a ton of Anna's favorite songs, so who knows.

A few months ago, I was wondering if Anna's exposure (or perhaps, overexposure) to the iPhone was having a positive or negative impact on her. Just a few days later, I stumbled across a story on that talked about the positive developmental impacts. Not that is my parenting bible, but I agreed completely.

Here's perhaps my favorite graph from the whole story...
She belongs to a new generation. These 'mobile kids' are the purest breed yet of natives to the wireless world where the rest of us are refugees. Their fluency with technology and expectations of instant access to everything will eclipse even those of their older siblings and cousins, the 'digital kids' weaned on desktop computers wired to the Web. This is why my 4-year-old is incredulous when I can’t honor her request to replay the Taylor Swift song we’ve just heard on the car radio. She simply can’t comprehend how something electronic could be beyond our personal control, even if we’re talking about public airwaves.

Neil Swidey, the reporter in this case, hit the nail on the head. That's really Anna in a nutshell. He was politically correct in calling this iPhone-using generation of toddlers "mobile kids", I just simply refer to them as nerds. But don't get me wrong, I'm a very proud parent of a nerd.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Oh Natalie Jane!

By Tiffany George
As promised, here is my official Natalie Jane update for The Cardinal Blog.

To know Natalie is to just adore her. She is such a fun-loving, happy little girl who draws the attention of anyone around her. I wouldn't say that she is the type to purposefully grab the spotlight, it just happens to land on her. With those big beautiful eyes and silly smile, it's no wonder that everyone has to check her out!
Natalie is not on the shy side like her brother. She is rather the opposite. She likes to say hi to random people that she meets in stores, especially babies. She has a baby radar that is amazing. She'll spot a baby a few aisles over and she HAS to run over to say hi to the baby a million times. It is so adorable. Thankfully most of the other moms are cool about it :o) She'll just keep sitting there saying "hi baby, hi baby" in the cutest, softest voice, while giving a little wave. And if she hears another child crying in the store, she'll run over saying "baby, cry...happy", because she insists on making that kid smile!

Her love of babies doesn't rest solely with the breathing kind! She has at least a dozen babies that she plays with all the time. Her babies sit in the high chair to eat, ride around on the bike, get piled up on the couch, pretty much anything she can think of. She loves to make pretend food for her babies, and lately she has had so much fun having birthday parties for them too. She sings "Happy You You", brings over a cupcake, then blows out the candles. She loves to take the clothes off from her babies, so most are found naked. And while she does want their clothes back on occasionally, she gets rather frustrated when she tries. She also loves it when her babies have shoes on!

Betty was pretty hungry...or I guess moreso thirsty!

To know Natalie is to know of her obsession with shoes. She usually is wearing one pair or another as she walks around the house, and usually they are not her own! She'll wear Andrew's shoes that are 4 sizes too big, or even his snow boots. She typically has no regard for size, season, or matching one shoe to another. The point is to have them on. She just got some light up boots after Christmas (I couldn't resist) and she is just a doll strutting around in those things!

Aside from her obsession with shoes, she also loves to wear bracelets and necklaces as accessories. She typically wears a necklace on most days, and if it sunny, you can bet she needs her sunglasses too. Seriously, who mothered this child?

Natalie has also had a language explosion. She babbles and talks constantly in her sweet little girl voice. She also loves to repeat what we say, and she does so with outstanding accuracy. She speaks in 3-4 word phrases now. She is quite the conversationalist too! If you tell her something like "it's snowing out today", she'll say "oh" with the same tone and inflection that an adult would. She also has the absolute cutest way of saying yes. It's more like nyeah...and the n is not silent!!! Other favorite things that she says are "careful" if she thinks someone may need to be careful, "drive safe" whenever someone leave the house, "scuse me" when she needs to get by someone, and "beat you guys" when she wants me to buckle her into her car seat faster than Daddy buckles Andrew.

She has also loved to sing Christmas carols. She amazed us all at Christmastime when she knew the final word to each verse in Rudolph, Jingle Bells, etc. She loved to listen to Andrew and Papa sing and play their guitars too. Nowadays her favorite song is Frosty. She knows many of the lyrics and even sings in baby tune! She calls is "Sofee the Snowman" and if you ask her if she can sing you a song, she'll belt out "Soffeee Snowman". I love it!

Natalie's comprehension of what we say is growing as well. She understands most of what we are saying, which often takes me by surprise. I'll be telling someone a story and this cute little girl from the peanut gallery will chime in to add her own two cents...and it is right on par!

Natalie's favorite word is undoubtedly SELF, or MYSELF. She is one independent little toddler. Be it climbing up into her booster, or putting on her own underpants, she wants to at least try it on her own. If you try to give her a hand, she will clearly let you know that she can handle it. Thankfully she has perfected the phrase "help please" for when "SELF" just can't handle it.

She HAD to try these jammies on right over her Christmas outfit! And she did it herSELF.

Natalies favorites also include DOGGIES. If we ask her what she wants to do on any given day, her answer will be "doggies". Despite my dislike of dogs, I am trying my best to have my children like them. We head to the pet store typically once a week, where she'll walk all around the store waving and talking to the doggies. You truly have to see her in action to understand how cute this is. For Christmas, Santa bought her one of those life-sized doggies from the toy store at the mall. This dog is alarmingly real looking, and honestly does make guests do a double-take quite often! Natalie drags this dog all around the house, puts it up on the couch, brings it to the birthday parties with her babies, everywhere! We named him James and when we leave the house she'll hollar "bye James"....pricelessly cute.

Here, Natalie is amazed at the doggy stickers that Meme used to decorate her new guitar. She sat there and pointed out each one to a very nice Daddy.

Natalie decided that she wanted to be potty trained when she was 18months old. Every time she would go to get into the tubby she would yell "potty, potty". Pete would put her on the potty and sure enough, she'd go. After doing this for a while, she started saying "potty, potty" at random when she was playing. We'd put her on and she'd go. She'd run up to the potty and just stand there with her hips thrusting forward, hoping to have male plumbing to go like Andrew does. This made us realize that she was clearly ready. Potty training her was a breeze, just like with Andrew. The only thing that was difficult in the beginning was that I didn't realize she was a camel like her daddy. This kid honestly only needs to go potty a few times a day. Most mornings she doesn't even go until 11 or later! She got quite frustrated when I would try to get her to go earlier in the morning when she wasn't ready. Quite frustrated being a slight understandment :o) Now that we are in sync with one another, she tells us whenever she needs to go, and has done a wonderful job. And her bum in those Elmo undies is adorable!

The best part of Natalie's day every day is her brother. They adore each other, they honestly do. Natalie wants to do anything that Andrew is doing, be it climbing the stairs, vacuuming the floor, or using glitter and glue. She is wonderful at taking turns too. She'll be on her bike and if Andrew wants a turn, 9 times out of 10 she'll get right off and say "An turn". It melts our hearts. Their favorite thing to do together is probably running around nakey or in jammies just before bed. Natalie loves when Andrew chases her, and the feeling is mutual. They run around, then we will sit together and have reading time with Daddy and Mommy, then off to bed she goes.

Here is Natalie enjoying the treats at Andrew's holiday party at school.

These two love each other so much! They are very blessed to have each other...almost as blessed as we are to have them.

Natalie doing a craft project with Andrew. She could string the beads onto the pipe cleaner all by herself!
And here she is applying her own glue and glitter!

And she would never miss out on a jam session with Papa!

Here is Natalie being her goofball self. She has adopted her brother's love for wearing rotisserie chicken holder "party hats".
And here are some other photos that are too cute to pass by!

Natalie decked out in one of her Christmas outfits. She climbed inside of this lit tree for photos. Once at the party, she kept hat on for a good hour! Sweetheart!

Natalie is not a huge fan of the cold weather. She must have inherited that from her mother! We finally did get her to have some fun outside when we taught her to munch on some snow.

Natalie is always doing cute things like this. She took off her own clothes, put them in the washer all by herself, put on her backpack with her sleeping bag in it, then ran all around the house.
We were in the middle of doing something with Andrew when we realized Natalie was missing. We went in the playroom to find her perched on this little decorative stool, being sweet as an angel. Notice she is wearing my socks!

Here is the cutie pants giving her best cheese face in the tubby. This girl loves to pour the entire bucket of water right over her own head! She also loves to lay on her back in the tubby to feel the water over her ears.

Another favorite thing of Natalie's: putting gloves on and off...and Elmo likes to try them on too!

You may remember this hat from last year. Thankfully it still fits and it as cute as ever! Also, please notice the shirt. She requests this "doggy shirt" every single day. Thanks for passing it down Corinne and Courtney :o)

Thanks for reading and admiring the photos! We hope that you get to feel some of the joy that is our lives every day.