Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Words, words, and more words!

Every day brings a new word!

I'm serious.  It is completely insane at this point.  Your sole purpose in life, right now, seems to be to monitor what your dad and I are saying, form your cute little mouth to match ours, and then... BOOM!  New word!  I got to thinking that I haven't really gone over all of the words you know at this point.  Sit back, it's a loooooong list for a 17 month old!

"Da-da" - Of course you know who your dada is!  I can point to him in a picture and ask, "Who is this?"  "DA-DA!!!"  I can tell you that dada is coming home soon and you get all excited!  In the car, you belt out long strings of "da-da-da-da-da-da-da...." to get his attention and when we're out, just us girls, you remind me that you'd be a lot happier if only "da-da?" was around!

"Ma-ma" - But... you love your mama, too!  When you're sad it usually comes out a bit closer to "Mee-mee" and when you want to get my attention, you also string together a bunch of "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mas."  You can pick me out in pictures, too!  I love hearing you say "ma-ma!"

"Da-da" - Hmm.... didn't we just cover this one?  Nope.  Sometimes "da-da" means "dog-dog."  It's all a matter of context, really.  If the dogs are around, you're probably saying "dog-dog."  If you aren't looking at dogs, you probably mean dada!  Dada wishes you would learn that darned "G" sound so he quits getting excited thinking you mean him!

"Nyeh-nyeh" - As we've mentioned before, "nyeh-nyeh" means "meow-meow" which means "cat."  You totally KNOW that the word "cat" is the same thing as a"nyeh-nyeh" but you'd rather say "nyeh-nyeh" instead of "cat."  Truth is, you've got ME saying "nyeh-nyeh" a lot of the time, now.  Language is a funny thing, isn't it? "nyeh-nyehs" EVERYWHERE!  You are so obsessed with them, it borders on ridiculousness at this point!  You even "draw" "nyeh-nyehs" with your crayons and chalk.  How do we know this?  You point to your drawing, look at us and say "nyeh-nyeh."  You aren't kidding either.  We'll leave the room, come back later and you'll go up to your drawing and say "nyeh-nyeh" again!

"Na-na" - "Na-nas" are "bananas."  For a while we could barely take you to a grocery store without you pointing out all the "na-nas" and, of course, wanting your OWN "na-na."  Just the other day we were in the kitchen and you pointed to the bananas sitting on the counter, looked at me, and said... "Na-na??"  Needless to say, we ate a "na-na" for snack that day.

"Hawk" - "Hawk" is your word for Jayhawk!  Could we be any prouder that you already know the mascot of the college you're going to attend??? (wishful thinking...)  You HAVE actually said "Jayhawk" at least once, but most of the time he's just called "hawk" for simplicity's sake.

"Hulk" - Your dada is SUPER proud that you already know the name of a comic book character! You've been pointing out the "Hulk" for several months now.  You see him everywhere, too!  Interestingly, any character that is green gets the "hulk" treatment.  

"Sosh" - Socks!  You don't actually LIKE socks, but you know the word for them!

"Beh-beh" - "Beh-beh" is your word for "baby!"  It's said slowly and deliberately.  Right now all babies are "beh-beh," even you!  I will point to your picture and you'll say "beh-beh."  I'll point to a picture of another baby on one of your books and that is also "beh-beh."  It's very cute!

"Bruh-beh" - Brobee.  He's one of the characters on Yo Gabba Gabba and you LOVE that show so much!

"Fah" - Foofa.  She's another character on Yo Gabba Gabba.

"Dee-jah" - DJ as in "DJ Lance Rock" from Yo Gabba Gabba.

"Ga-ga" - Gabba... as in Yo Gabba Gabba.  Are you noticing a trend here??  Sheesh!

"Ball" - SUCCESS!!!  This word actually sounds like it's supposed to!  YAY!  We have other words that sound like they're supposed to, too, including: hat, egg, eye, and doll!

"Go-go" - You say this all of the time because you always want to go somewhere you're not!  We use the word "go-go" when we're trying to wrangle you out to the car so we can actually go somewhere.  Most of the time, you spring into action!  

"Gall-gay" - "All gone"  We use baby signs so you can communicate with us when you don't have words.  However, you've also gained words for your signs so you use them at the same time!  You say "gall-gay" when you're doing your "finished" sign when you're done eating.  You mean "all done" or "all gone" when you're full or the food is gone.  You're so smart!

"Guy" - "Guy"  This one sounds just like it is, too.  You call all sorts of things "guy" now.  Most notably, the "guy" (Uncle Sam) who sits on the steps that lead down to your day care.  Every time we go past him, you point and say, "guy."  It's my fault, really.  You've been asking for months who he was and instead of telling you his name is Uncle Sam, I told you "oh, that's some guy."  Sigh... I think I've learned my lesson!  When you want to know what something is, I should tell you the word I want you using because deprogramming you is nearly impossible!!

These are the ones I can think of right now, but you're always saying things that make your dada and I look at each other and ask, "Did she just say.... ??"  The thing is, you absolutely know what you're saying to us when you rattle off a long string of words and look at us like you're expecting an answer.  Truthfully, you're a lot more adaptive to learning OUR language than we are to learning yours, but we're trying!  Clearly, you're trying, too!

You should go ahead and assume there will be more of these posts in the near future!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Oh my goodness, baby... things are soooo busy!  I'm taking a time-out on the 100 things list to just do a bit of updating on some day-to-day things in our lives.

The cookie business is doing well!  So far I have been "in business" for about 2 months and we already have a great start on your college fund!  I've probably scooped nearly 400 cookies at this point and some days it seems like there is no end to the cookie madness!  Just last night I scooped some to take to a buddy's birthday party we're going to tomorrow.  They aren't for sale, but mama is ALWAYS trying to network!  Today I'm scooping 4 dozen cookies to send with some extended family to their 4th of July event for the same reason.  Over 40 people are going to be exposed to our cookies who wouldn't have been otherwise so it's worth it to do some voluntary baking now and then!  At the end of the week your dad has an event where he's going to showcase his art skills and, because he's awesome, supportive, and wants you to have a good college fund, he's taking a bunch of cookies to sell alongside!  Right now the only downside to the cookies is that I have to bake them after you go to bed or you spend all your time baby-birding (hanging around me with your mouth wide open!) for some cookies.  You're a little sugar fiend!

A couple of weekends ago your grandpa came to visit over Father's Day.  We celebrated Father's Day, his birthday, and your dad's birthday all in one weekend!  We sort of have a funny way of celebrating around here.  Grandpa spent most of his birthday trying to fix our garage fridge for me so I can have more space for cookies and cookie ingredients.  It isn't quite fixed yet, but it works well enough to give me a few more options!  He'll be fixing it fully next time he's back in town.  He also spent most of Father's Day putting in a new faucet (that he bought, nonetheless) in our kitchen!  Your grandpa is pretty handy to have around, don't you think?  He taught me much of what I know about basic home repair; a skill set I also hope to pass down to you as the years go by.  I'm sure he'll spend a lot of time teaching us both a few new things!

At the end of June we took another trip to Wichita to visit some friends and go to another kiddo birthday party!  Our buddy turned 3 years old and he had a pool party and BBQ to celebrate!  We got him a neat Captain America swim vest and swim trunks, a poster and some stickers... all Captain America, of course!  You got to swim at his grandma's pool with him and a couple of his cousins.  You enjoyed riding in the inflatable boat in the pool, but mostly you REALLY wanted to do the sidewalk chalk with everyone!  You usually have a window of time that you're actually entertained by something that lasts no more than about 10 minutes but the sidewalk chalk kept you entertained for over an hour!  You were so entertained, in fact, that we didn't actually realize you pooped in your swim diaper.  Oh my gosh... that was... bad.  Swim diapers don't hold as much as regular diapers.  I almost recommended taking the hose to your bum, seriously!  The trip was a success and you had a lot of fun!  You also saw your grandma, your great-aunt, and your aunt!  You spent some time sitting on grandma's lap, chasing the dogs around, climbing up and down on an old rocking chair made for little ones like you, and "talking" on the cell phone.  Everyone thought you were as cute as can be!

The Wichita trip held one important "first" that I both love and, possibly, regret.  You didn't nap on the way down and were getting VERY grumpy, so when we got to the pool party I asked if I could try to lay you down and nap you.  You've never napped in a big bed before and, predictably, you had no idea what I was trying to get you to do.  You barely had any of your sleeping comforts (only your binky and your Yo Gabba Gabba blanket) and you were more amused by the fact I was laying next to you than interested in napping, but after about 30 minutes of struggle, you finally dropped off to sleep and stayed there for an hour or so.  You kept snuggling up next to me and it melted my heart into a little heart-puddle!  So why would I ever regret such a thing?  I want to nap with you all the time now!  I don't because I know that you get better sleep when you're in your crib, but I can't wait until you're old enough to snuggle up to us on special sleep-over nights in the big bed!

It's so hard to document all of the little awesome things you do each and every day because they come in waves now.  You're getting so big, learning so many new things, it boggles my mind!  Overall, right now you are a pretty flexible baby who just rolls with the punches.  Of course there's whining... you're a mini-toddler now and all of your teeth conspired to come in at once lately!  There are mini-tantrums because you're learning your way around your new boundaries and don't like being reigned in.  But, there are also unsolicited hugs (which are my new favorite thing EVER!  I love it when you throw your arms around my neck and hug really hard.  Your hugs are strong, last a long time, and rock my world!), new words, new understandings, new fun, new games, new adventures, and a lot of laughter in the house because of you!  And dancing... did I mention dancing?  Mama dances a lot more these days!

It isn't pretty.

But you know who is pretty?  YOU!  I can hardly believe sometimes that someone so beautiful and perfect came from me!  It doesn't mean that I think poorly of myself, it just means you're that amazing!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

100 things continued: numbers 70-61

Time to learn more new things!  Today's list has a few items near and dear to your mama's heart.

70. Sneeze and cough into your arm: Girl... for real.  Right now you're a baby so of course you don't know any better, but mama looks forward to a day where your sneeze doesn't end up all over her face, arms, hands, clothes, the dog, the furniture, etc.  Just in general, practicing good germ control is a necessity. 

69. Be confident: Confidence isn't something that comes naturally.  I can't tell you the number of times I wish I could go back to Junior High and High School with the confidence I've gained over the years and re-do a whole lot of that stuff.  It's really hard to have confidence during your teenage years when every little thing seems like a huge drama.  Your mom and dad are going to do the very best they can to booster your self-esteem so you can create your own confidence!  My best advice for building confidence is to realize that few things in life will turn out as poorly as you fear they will.  Are you confused about something in class but scared to speak up and ask a question?  Don't worry!  As smart as you already are if you're confused about something chances are someone else is even more confused and even more scared to ask!  You could help them out!  Are you worried you will be rejected by a group of people you want to hang out with?  Having confidence makes you attractive to other people.  They'll likely want to be your friend just because you seem so cool and in control of things!  Again, I wish I had the confidence I have now back when it would have made me the coolest kid in school!

68. Be independent:  Having confidence in yourself naturally leads to independence!  Confident people enjoy their independence and enjoy tackling the puzzles of every day life.  I've said before that I want you to live on your own for a little while so you can learn how to manage your own life as an individual.  Ideally, I imagine you would leave our home, go to college and live with roommates, then graduate and move out on your own for a little while before you find the love of your life and make a home with him or her.  (Yes, I said him OR her.  Your mama just wants you to be with someone who makes you happy and who treats you right!)  Living on your own means you don't rely on anyone but yourself to make your way in life.  Be strong enough to rely only on yourself for a little while.  It will give you the confidence to leave a bad situation if you find yourself in one someday (knowing you can survive on your own).  

67. Donate time to those less fortunate: I'm very excited to find out what things drive and motivate you as you get older because I think you can and will do a lot of good in your life.  Right now it looks like animals are a passion of yours.  I can't tell you how many times we have to stop and watch the birds or the squirrels while we're out and about!  A trip to the pet store makes you giddy!  I imagine someday you will want to volunteer your time at the animal shelter to help the puppies and kitties who don't have homes.  I imagine us going together as a family to donate our time and our energies to helping the homeless animals.  I also imagine us finding other projects to help with around our community!  It is important to give back to the community you love and I'd love to do that together as a family!

66. Read a newspaper: Let's face it... news as a print medium is on it's way out as I speak.  By the time you're old enough to read a newspaper, it will probably all be electronic!  Right now, in 2012, I can subscribe to any major newspaper and read it on my Nook e-reader.  Most people can do the same with their smart phones, too.  Still, keeping up to date with the news is very important.  We live in a global world where things that happen halfway across the globe can very well effect aspects of your day to day life.  Also, keeping up with the world's news keeps you informed and educated on matters which may eventually have great importance.  Do not allow yourself to be ignorant of global issues, nor should you ignore local issues in lieu of the grand scale.  Keep a good balance and keep yourself informed.  Oh... and for the love of all that is intellectual... be sure you get your news from an ACTUAL well-balanced source, not just one that claims to be well-balanced and fair.

65. Apply mascara: You know what... do this if you want but it is totally not required!  There are times when I like the way it makes me look but most of the time it just feels heavy and annoying on my lashes.  I'll show you how to do it, but only because I want you to know how to do pretty much everything.  If it doesn't apply to you and your life, you can promptly forget it!

64. Tie a tie (bonus points for a bow tie): Being a child of a single father I learned how to tie a tie as a teenager.  It's totally not hard to tie a good Windsor knot!  As far as the bow tie thing goes... my skills are poor at best.  Maybe we'll practice all of that together so we can tease daddy about his zip-up tie!

63. Remove a chocolate stain: Ok, we're going to change this to say "Remove a stain" because there are WAY more devious staining materials out there than just chocolate!  Blood, ink, chocolate, mustard, wine, grass... these are just a few of the things lurking out there waiting to ruin your favorite outfit!  Thankfully the internet is full of great ideas on how to remove stains from things.  The most important thing I can say about stain removal is to be sure you don't run the outfit through the dryer until the stain is all the way out.  Taking a tumble in the dryer just bakes those things in and it makes it MUCH harder to get them out!  I'm a big fan of using Shout on all of your baby stains.  It even got red sauce out of a white shirt (after several attempts, but still...)

62. Wrap a present: If you are even half as creative as your dad and half as determined as your mom you will want to know how to wrap neat looking presents.  I can't say I'm a present-wrapping guru, but through the power of a little website called Pinterest, I have found a lot of neat present wrapping ideas that we can use as a family!  Personally, I think the most important part of any present is the bow!  Always use a bow!

61. Find a book in a library:  As someone who works in a library I can't tell you how many times college seniors come up to me at the Reference Desk and have NO idea how to navigate the library.  This will not be you.  I plan to have you be the only kid in your entire class who is already citing scholarly database articles in grade school papers.  It is never too soon to learn how to do proper research!  I will have done my job as a parent and as a library worker/Reference specialist if you can find your own library books... in any call number system... on your own by the age of 5.  Challenge ACCEPTED!

To be continued....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

100 things: numbers 80-71

Continuing on with the 100 things I want to teach you before you fly the coop!  Here are numbers 80-71:

80. Comfort others:  We live in a world where the art of truly offering comfort to others during times of hardship is lost on many of us.  Most people, including your mama at times, would rather just pretend like something isn't bothering them or bothering those around them.  It's much easier to go through life pretending like your whole world isn't imploding around you because hardship makes people nervous, embarrassed, anxious, and vulnerable. Well, gosh... we all have hardship from time to time, right?  We all have times where it would be great if someone could just come up to us and let us know that things are going to be okay and that they're there for us if we need them.  I want you to be that person because I desperately want you to have empathy and compassion for your fellow human.  Learn to recognize when loved ones are hurting and take the initiative to help them through it if they'll allow you to do so.  You can figure out the way you offer comfort (listening, making food, helping with tangible things, etc.) but make the effort to do it.  You will be rewarded in more ways than you can imagine.

79. Support yourself: This is a BROAD topic but a very good way of encompassing just about everything I want you to learn.  You need to be able to make it through life with just the sweat of your own brow because you never ever know if you can rely on someone else to do these things for you.  Learn how to pay your bills, balance your work and social obligations, fix things that break, get out of sticky situations... basically, just learn how to BE!  College roommates are good for teaching you how to live with other people, but I also want you to spend some time living on your own so you can learn how to live with YOU!  Don't be one of those people who needs other people to survive.  You just need yourself.  Everything else is frosting on the cake, trust me.

78. Negotiate: How did your mama manage to knock $1,000 off of the price of her 2001 Kia Rio back in 2003 when she bought it?  She complained about the color when she knew it was a difficult color and they had NO other 2001 Kia Rios in stock.  Also, it was purchased at the end of the month when most dealerships are frantically trying to reduce their tax burden.  Cha-ching!  When you want to make a big purchase you need to do some research.  Learn everything you can about your purchase and then figure out when the best time to make that purchase will be before striking.  Patience, willingness to make concessions, and an obvious knowledge of what you're doing will make you a force to reckon with!  Don't be afraid to ask for more (or demand a lower price) if you think you can do it.  The worst they could do is say no to you.  

77. Distinguish needs from wants: We all have needs.  We all have wants.  Sometimes these things happen to be the same thing.  Often, they are TOTALLY different!  We need shelter, clothes, food, and drink.  We want toys, entertainment, the latest fashion, and huge houses.  Learn the subtle differences between what you TRULY need to survive and the things you can put off until you're more financially stable.  For example, your mama really WANTS a new front-loading high-efficiency washer and dryer but all she really needs is a washer and dryer that work, which she already has.  Sure, I'm sad about it and I daydream about beautiful shiny new appliances, but we have other needs that come before my wants right now.  Until the current washer and dryer kick the bucket, we will use what we have and be happy with it because there are people out there who are happy with less than what we have so we should be happy with the abundance we've had the opportunity to afford.

76. Manage stress: The key to managing stress is to know thyself.  Learn the little cues your body gives off to let you know that things are getting a bit too much for you and figure out ways to reduce the impact of that stress on your life.  You could take yoga, you could get a massage, you could start saying "no" to things that stress you out, you could do anything that brings you peace of mind.  They key is NOT to let stress ruin your life or your interactions with others in your life.  You have the right to control your reactions to things.  You do NOT have the right to let the stresses in your life bleed over into the lives of others.  Your stresses belong to you and if others empathize and wish to listen or help, that is a kindness they are offering you.  Being snappy with the people you love, who love you and are just trying to help, makes you a bully.  Be in control of yourself and learn to manage things before they get to that point.

75. Accept others for their differences:  You are a beautiful and wonderful human being.  You are full of ideas, thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams.  You are an individual in everything you do.  You are like no one else and no one else is like you.  That being said, you are not necessarily "right" and they are not necessarily "wrong" if your paths in life do not run parallel to each other.  Differences are beautiful and they are a way for all of us to learn about things that we would never have experienced otherwise.  I have already told you that I won't be disappointed in you unless you fail to try, but I will be disappointed in you if you go through life dismissing the amazing differences, the different cultures, we all hold dear.  I want you to have friends of all races, religions, philosophies, and passions.  Life is boring when we hang out with people who are carbon copies of ourselves.  Broaden your world.  Expand your circle of influence. LEARN!  Stand up for others when you see kids bullying them for being different.  Love and respect those around you for having the courage to be themselves in situations where they may be the only one like them.  You will be blessed for knowing and respecting people from all walks of life.

74. Hold a baby:  I'll be honest with you, I had barely ever been around an infant prior to your birth.  I had MAYBE one or two experiences holding a newborn and when you were born I was terrified of holding you if you weren't wrapped up like a baby burrito!  Dressing you, undressing you... so scary!  Your little head lolled around so much that I was sure I was hurting you!  I really want more for you than that.  I want you to be comfortable around babies so if you choose to have kids you will be a lot more confident than I was.  Expect to do some babysitting in high school!

73. Ask questions:  You will never know the right answers unless you learn to ask the right questions.  Asking questions is VITAL to getting all of the information you need in any situation.  Don't be afraid to seek information.  Sadly, we live in a world that is FULL of information, but people are often encouraged not to delve deeper in their pursuit of information.  We also live in a world full of privacy statements, user agreements, and various other ways you can easily sign away your rights simply because they are written in a way that is nearly impossible for anyone other than a lawyer to understand.  Don't understand something?  Ask someone who does.  Don't know what you're getting yourself into?  Find out before getting yourself into it!  Something doesn't feel quite right?  Ask others what they think (or come ask your mama!)  No one ever asked too many questions about something if they were trying to make a big decision!

72. Speak a second language, especially Spanish: This is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" sort of things because I am not fluent in any other language, myself.  However, I understand the importance of learning to communicate with others and think learning other languages is extremely beneficial.  I have dabbled in a few languages and know a few things in several languages, but actually becoming fluent in a language other than English is a dream I hope to achieve someday.  I would encourage you to take language classes in school as soon as they're offered.  I think it is ridiculous that Americans appear to be against learning other languages.  All over the world it is assumed you will learn your language as well as at least one other one.  The xenophobic nature of Americans when it comes to other languages baffles me.  It also makes us look like idiots.  You can resist that by opening yourself up to another language and the culture which surrounds that language.

71. Lead: Not only do you need to know how to lead when the situation calls for it, you need to learn when to follow when you're not the right person to lead.  Have the wisdom to know when you're the right person for the job and when you're NOT.  Leaders have a lot of responsibility to the people who follow them.  To be a successful leader you must not shirk those responsibilities NOR should you undervalue the people who are looking to you to lead them in the right direction.  Leaders stay leaders because they actually serve well those who appear to serve them.  Leaders who do not serve their followers do not tend to stay leaders. In time you will learn that power structures only work if everyone works together toward a common goal and work for the betterment of all involved instead of just the leader.  

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Panhandle Cookie Company update!

Wow kiddo, things are really picking up quickly!

In the scant amount of time since I even mentioned my cookie business (your college fund), I've received two large orders for major events, shipped my first batch of test cookies, and been approached by a friend of mine about building a website to receive orders/payments!  Things look like they may get big pretty quickly, which means mama has to figure out how to balance all parts of her life so she doesn't overbook herself!

Here's the thing... I want this cookie endeavor to be successful because I want all of the things for you that I mentioned in my other post.  BUT!!  I don't want to spend too much time away from you and your daddy doing this business because I cannot overlook how important my time is with you NOW while trying to plan for your future.  Knowing this, I know that there is a certain finite amount of time that I can devote to this project without losing track of the other important things in my life.  Right now, I have NO idea where this fine line resides.  It will probably take me getting in at least slightly over my head a couple of times before I figure out what I can logically handle.

Until then, I am giddy with excitement that things are going so well so far!  I will be opening your savings account soon with your first deposit to get things going!  After that, I will deposit the previous month's worth of earnings at the end of each month.  Your dad and I are also collecting all of our pocket change to deposit into your account, too.  That may not seem like much, but it all adds up over time and right now, with you being just 15 months old, we have a lot of time on our side to do this right!

By the time you get around to reading this you will probably be so darned tired of this cookie thing you'll maybe never want to see another cookie again!  You'll be like, "mom... quit bringing cookies and business cards to all of my parties!  It's sooooo embarrassing!"  Or, maybe you'll understand the implications of everything being done and you'll don your adorable Hello Kitty apron (that I'm going to commission for you from my talented friend Bethany) and hand out samples and cards with me!  I hope it is the latter as I want to share all of this experience with you and also help you feel like you're earning your own way in life, too.  

More to come!

Cookie ticker!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A month of constant changes!

Not only do we chronicle your life here in this blog, but your daddy and I also have a Facebook page set up for you to alert anyone who wants in on all of the "up-to-date Baby G news" on the day to day happenings of one very active baby!  How active is this baby, you may ask?  Well, below are all of the status updates written by your dad and I... for one month's time.  ONE MONTH!  You're changing so quickly that we practically have a new thing to talk about to your adoring masses each and every day!  Enjoy!

*Baby G had her 15 month appointment a couple of weeks ago. Shots were had and not enjoyed by anyone. The big news? Baby G is in the 95% for height and the 92% for weight! Dang, girl! You're going to tower over your mom!

*Baby G is ramping up her chatter! Lots of trying to repeat words and names and sounds! Still trying to get her to differentiate between "wa-wa" for water/drink and "wa-wa" for her snack cup. Snack or puffs or food is apparently a little more difficult than "wa-wa", but she'll get there. :)

*Baby G tried her first merry-go-rounds this weekend and LOVED them. Having to get off of them at the end? That caused crying on a major level, unfortunately.

*Baby G is now sleeping with a blanket! It's a Yo Gabba blanket and, no, she doesn't really need it during Summer...but so far, so good!

*Baby G can find kitties on any picture or show or surface or cloud. It's a world of "nyah-nyahs" (as she calls them) for her!

*Every night Baby G tells her dolls goodnight with daddy. She has Mayor, Sir Didymus, Snorlax, Gizmo, Rainbow Brite, Hello Kitty, Stitch, Lenore, Fone Bone, Domo-kun, FizzGig, Batman, Wonder Woman, Wolfman, Spider-Man, Alf, Catbus and more she wishes off to dreamland. Oh, and the cat on her calendar. Whatever month that might be. By "tells her dolls goodnight", we mean her daddy does it for her...so she can learn these important figures in World History!

*Baby G said "Jayhawk" for the first time today. She's been pointing out all Jayhawks for months now...but now she can say it.

*Not sure what "up-tee" or "go-gay" means...but Baby G sez those things allll the time!

*Baby G now taking her first at-home nap without any bottle-related assistance. So far...so good. :)

*Baby G calls watermelons "ball". :D

*Baby G likes to help with laundry and picking up trash!

*Too many developments at 15 months! Getting shots! Finding out Baby G is in the 90th-ish percentile of height! Making roaring sounds when you say "lion"! Starting to bring books to Mommy when she asks for them by name! Walking hand-in-hand downtown with Daddy! Trying mushrooms and liking them! Trying watermelon and not liking it! Baby G mimics the dances on Yo Gabba! Baby G sings along with songs in the car sometimes, too! So much going on, development-wise! :)

*Baby G really wants to drink like a big girl these days, insisting on drinking from Mom/Dad's cup or glass, regardless of how wet everything gets...since only about 5% of the water makes it into her mouth.

*Baby G has started feeding the older, slower, dumber of the two dogs by hand. Gross and cute at the same time. Dogspit.

*Baby G is totally hand-feeding our dumber/slower/older/gentler dog as often as possible. Two days in a row!

*Baby G has discovered toast...and she likes it! Daddy now shares ALL his breakfast items now!

*Baby G is all about mimicry right now, at 15 months! Mimics cellphone using, shushing, and lion/bear/gator sounds! :)

*This morning Baby G used her fork completely by herself for the first time ever! Banana on plate, then fork, then in mouth! Success!

*Thursday downtown with Baby G was fun! We shopped for Mother's Day gifts and she ended up picking out two kitty-related items for her Mommy! Yay, shopping local! :)

*A day in the life of Baby G: Wake up. Say "Hi" to someone within earshot. Do it about a million more times throughout the day. Go to sleep. Rinse and repeat!

*Oh goodie! It's Mommy-Baby Day! Every Tuesday!

*Baby G will dance at the drop of a hat. All she has to do is hear a little beat or music and she's off! She's got the rhythm!

*Baby G is really into being chased around the house by Daddy right now! It's giving him quite a workout!

*Baby G has discovered car/truck toys! In fact, her cousin's "lost" monster truck is now part of the mix! :)

*Favorite things? Pretending everything is a cellphone & babbling into it. Also, giving baby kisses, open-mouthed like a fish! :)

*Baby G is into saying "No" in response to everything right now instead of "Yah". Trying out our words, eh?

If you're capable of doing all of these things in one month, I can't wait to see what next month brings!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Panhandle Cookie Company (aka: Your savings account)

So, I mentioned that your mama started a venture recently...

Sadly, I don't make enough money to set aside as much money every month for your college fund as I would like.  We have bills to pay and truth be told, I'm nowhere near as frugal as I should be considering how much I don't make.  So, knowing these things about our situation, I decided to mix a dash of something I need (money for your college fund) with a sprinkle of something I love to do (baking cookies).  The result: Panhandle Cookie Company!  Your mama is bakin' some cookies to give you the sweetest start in life possible!

The name Panhandle Cookie Company results from the English translation of our last name from it's original language.  Yep, we're panhandles!  I've known for years that I have a very decent cookie-baking skill.  Your great grandma, whom you were named for, had this AMAZING sugar cookie recipe all through my childhood. I would salivate uncontrollably when she would whip up a batch and at a very early age I was in the kitchen making the cookies with her.  Someday soon, you'll be my little sous-baker, too!  I've made these cookies for YEARS for special events and always received gushing compliments.  A couple of years ago I found an amazing peanut butter cookie recipe that garnered the same attention as the sugar cookies.  I started getting REALLY interested in the little intricacies of what makes a cookie recipe the BEST COOKIE RECIPE EVER!  Little tweaks here and there, some science, some creativity... all have led to your mama being pretty savvy in the kitchen when it comes to baking.

Being on my MRC diet the first time around meant that I couldn't really do my craft because who on earth bakes cookies and doesn't eat half of the batch herself in one sitting???  Right??  (Yeah, never do that.)  When I got off of my MRC diet b/c I was pregnant, I started baking again and remembered how much I loved doing it!  Now that I'm back on the diet, I've come up with a genius plan!  I'm going to bake cookies and sell them to raise money for your college fund!  I get to do what I love, but the cookies don't sit around tempting me with their chewy deliciousness.  Win-win!

I already have the talent, the delicious recipes, the drive, and the captive audience (the people who shop at your dad's business downtown), all I needed to do was start!  I started selling a couple of batches at an event held at your dad's business.  They were wildly popular and gone within a few days!  I made another batch, they sold out within the week.  And another... they sold out, too!  Each week since then the cookies have sold within the week, meaning I'm making a new batch about every Thursday night now.

In the roughly 4 weeks I've been baking cookies as Panhandle Cookie Company, I've made about 10 dozen cookies and sold through nearly all of them!  Your savings account will be opened very soon!  Now, I'm not going to lie... you WILL be spending this money on college and not booze.  Mama doesn't plan on scooping a million cookies by the time you're 18 years old just for you to blow it on something stupid!  These cookies have a purpose.  Their purpose is for you to pay for as much of your college as I possibly can so you can start your life out in the real world with little to no debt.  If you can get scholarships for being an awesome student throughout high school, any extra money left over after paying the difference for college can be used to put a down payment on a home.

You see, I didn't have these things.  I've been out of college for 9 years now and I will still be paying for my college education 11 years from now.  20 years of my life will be spent paying for something that I did for four years.  Do I regret it?  Of course not!  Do I wish I could have had another way to do it so I didn't have all of this debt?  You betcha.  This is what I want for you.  I will do whatever I can to make your education as accessible to you as possible even if it means I'll never want to bake or eat another cookie again in my entire life!

My only regret is that I didn't start sooner!

I will update on how Panhandle Cookie Company is doing from time to time.  Until then, let's get that savings account open and let it start drawing some awesome interest, yes?  Woo hoo!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

100 things: Numbers 90-81

So, I took a bit of a blogging break as life has been more than a little hectic recently!  Mama started a new venture and it has taken up a bit more of the already small amount of free-time we have.  I'll talk about it a bit more in the next post. Until then, I would like to continue on the "100 things" list I began on the last post.  

Numbers 90-81:

90. Deal with rejection and disappointment:  Oy.  This is a hard one.  The truth is, we as humans are programmed to fear rejection and disappointment from an early age.  We learn pretty quickly how yucky it feels to fail at something and how quickly something can go from exciting to disappointing if all of the things we've been working for fail to fall into place the exact way we'd hoped.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't feel rejected or disappointed when the situation calls for it.  I am saying that dealing with those feelings in a mature and rational way is a good sign that you're on your way in life.  Learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up and dust yourself off... start all over again.  Keep your good attitude even when things seem at their worst.  Be an inspiration to others.

89. Use chopsticks:  Both your mom and dad know how to use chopsticks.  You will learn, too!  Not only is it a nice way to experience things in a different way from the typical "American Culture" but you also learn to eat more slowly than you would if you were shoveling your food in your mouth with a fork.  Just think, you'll impress all of your friends with your chopstick ninja moves and they'll beg you to teach them how to do it, too! You're so lucky that you have cool parents who want you to know how to do cool things. Hee hee...

88. Celebrate and congratulate: When you accomplish awesome things in your life you SHOULD celebrate those achievements!  Even if no one else is patting you on your back, learn to pat yourself on the back when you deserve it!  If someone helped you get to that achievement along the way, congratulate them on a job well done, too!  Never walk on someone else or steal someone else's ingenuity to get to the top.  Always acknowledge the input of others, recognize the work they did to help you get to your goals, and share in the success!

87. Open a bottle of champagne:  Okay, you won't be doing this for a while.  BUT, when we do show you how to do it the most important rule of opening a bottle that is under pressure in ANY WAY... NEVER point it at something/someone you care about.  Bad things, man.  Bad things.

86. Build a campfire (and put it out): Despite what your dad might tell you, you don't NEED a full can of lighter fluid to build a campfire.  If you like your eyebrows and your arm hair NOT singed, you may want to learn how to build a good smaller fire.  We'll go over this when we go camping, but the general rule of thumb is you want a couple of solid larger logs, a lot of kindling (smaller sticks), and some fire starter materials.  Don't pack it all too tightly, you also need good air flow to keep your fire stoked!  As far as putting it out goes, always be sure your fire is COMPLETELY EXTINGUISHED before you leave your camp site.  Even small embers can re-spark a fire that can burn out of control if left unattended.

85. Deal with tragedy: I never want you to experience anything tragic in your life, but it is unavoidable.  I can't tell you how to feel about tragedies or how you will react when something happens that takes the wind out of your lungs, literally and metaphorically.  I can say that the best thing you can do for yourself is to talk about it with someone you trust.  Keeping your sorrows pent up inside of you is like caging an angry lion.  If you keep it confined to a small space (just yourself), over time it will slowly grow more and more out of control.  If you let it out, let it roam free in a larger more controlled area (a few people you trust), it can still be a dangerous thing, but much less likely to get out of control.  

84. Get along with people you may not like that much: Oh girl... there will be so many of these people in your life.  Sadly, we do not often get to choose the people we work with, who live near us, who are assigned to help us do certain tasks... we just have to grin and bear these people.  Don't be rude, but you don't have to give up your life's story to these people either.  You don't have to get along with everyone, but you don't have the right to be mean or condescending to them either.  

83. Add, subtract, multiply, and divide without using a calculator: I'm not talking about HUGE numbers, but you do need to have a general idea of how to do math mentally or you'll wind up paying too much for something, not have enough money with you, not get all of the materials you need to finish your project... the list goes on and on.  Always have a general idea of the "numbers" surrounding what you're doing and you won't find yourself unprepared in any situation.

82. Take a taxi home (or call mom) when you’re not fit to drive: There will come a time when you may find yourself impaired to the point you are unable to operate a vehicle.  Mama's not going to fault you for having a good time, but I will string your ass up if you don't do the responsible thing by calling a cab or calling someone you trust to come and get you.  You had a good time, you drank too much... fine.  Your good time doesn't give you the right to put your life or anyone else's life in danger.  You may feel fine to drive, but you need to remember that your liver takes about an hour to break down the alcohol content of one "drink" and that "drink" is different amounts of liquid depending on what you're drinking at the time.  If you've had two drinks in 30 minutes and have to leave... you shouldn't drive.  Be smart, know your limits, don't take chances. 

81. Write an essay:  You'll do a lot of this in school, but it doesn't hurt to do it in your spare time, either.  This entire blog is just a series of essays I've written to you on my own, in my spare time.  Essay writing is a great way to exercise your brain, practice your writing skills, and get your point across.  We live in a glorious era where ANYONE can be a writer!  Not only can you be a writer for yourself, but you can write things for other people to read, too! (Hello out there GGD readers!)  I hope your little brain spills itself out into the world via your writings because I can already tell you're smart and opinionated.  You should share that with the world!

I'm going to break from the "100 things" posts in the next blog entry because I want to talk about my new pet project and many of the new and exciting things you're doing as you work your way into toddler-hood!  Look for a new post by the end of the week!

Monday, April 30, 2012

100 Things All Parents Should Teach Their Children: Part 1

I like to go into anything I do with a certain level of preparation.

When I make large purchases, I usually read consumer reports, online reviews, compare the pros and cons of pretty much every little aspect of the device and then, finally, make my (totally well-informed!!) decision.  Personally, I don't see any difference between parenthood and making a large purchase... okay, so there are roughly a million differences, but what I mean to say is parenthood is like entering into a constant stream of research before making countless (totally well-informed??) decisions.

One thing I find myself researching fairly regularly: What sorts of things should I be sure to teach you in the short 18 years that I have your undivided attention?  This prompts Google searches like, "What should mothers teach their daughters?" or "What do good parents teach their kids?" or "How best to NOT gloss over the important learning opportunities when you're super busy getting chewing gum out of your kids hair?"  Google may not be good for everything (like ACTUAL scholarly research.  As a Research Help Desk professional, your mama will lose her gourd if she catches you citing Google or Wikipedia on ANYTHING!), but Google is good at one thing: opinions.  

And that's the thing... the lists of things you should do as a parent to ensure you've taught your child everything they need to know is merely someone else's opinion.  There is no right or wrong "list" of things to impart on your child, but it can seem overwhelming when considering where you could possibly begin?  I assume as things "pop up" throughout the years we will make every effort to turn these surprises into learning opportunities, but until then, Google actually helped me out a bit by leading me to a blog with a list I actually liked of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!  I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks (or longer if I take a break here and there) outlining these magical 100 things and my own personal opinion on each thing.  

Without further ado: Items 100-91 of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!

100. Listen: I started from the top and I'm working my way back down to number one because number one hundred was the word LISTEN.  Honestly, this may be the most important thing on the entire list.  It can mean many things!  It can mean that we, as awesome parents, must cultivate the habit of listening to you, our beloved daughter.  It can mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to us, your awesome parents.  It can also mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to YOURSELF when you know something is amiss in a situation or if you hear opportunities knocking that you simply must not pass up!  Lastly, it can mean listening to your environment and taking everything in before you make important decisions.  Regardless of who is doing the listening and who is being listened to, listening is a VERY important skill.  If your mouth is going constantly, your ability to listen will be impaired.  Know when to be quiet and listen!

99. Look on the bright side:  Your mama is a total "glass half full" kind of optimist.  I try to take sour lemons and make delightful lemonade out of nearly every situation.  It's so bad that your dad, likely, gets really annoyed at my implications that things aren't nearly as bad as they seem (when sometimes they certainly are).  The thing is, I'm proud of that view of things.  As I said before, I will never be disappointed in you if any number of things don't turn out the way either of us want them to, but I will be disappointed if you have a bad attitude about it or you give up.  You can make your own happiness in life simply by choosing to behave a certain way in the face of adversity.  You can be that person everyone looks to for comfort and a drop of sunshine or you can be that person that people don't even want to be around when times are at their best (and every place in the spectrum between).  Make a conscious decision to look on the bright side and things won't seem as bad as they could be.

98. Pick a piece of fruit that's ripe:  This seems odd to include on the list, but if you're going to make better food decisions than either your father or I did at a young age, you need to be sure you know how to find a ripe piece of fruit to eat!  Truly wonderful ripe fruits are one of the greatest things about our lovely planet!  A juicy ripe peach is better than eating candy on a hot summer day!  A perfectly ripe banana is a wonderful complex set of flavors!  Getting the perfect avocado can make or break your awesome sandwich!  Since you're going to do a TON of the grocery shopping with me, you will learn what to look for, listen for, and smell for when choosing pieces of fruit to buy.  It will be fun AND delicious!

97. Pitch a tent: Luckily you won't have to make the same mistake your mama made the first time she attempted to pitch a tent by herself... when it was practically already dark outside!  PLAN AHEAD WHEN CAMPING!  You want to be at your campsite early in the day!  Pitching a tent is more than just the know-how of setting the thing up.  You'll need to do things like: check the terrain, which way is the wind blowing?, how close do you want to build the fire?, etc.  Then, you'll need to know how to take it all down and shove it back in that tiny little bag it came from until you need it again!  Don't worry, we'll go camping often enough to ensure your place as the alpha-female among your friends!

96. Bake a cake:  Your mama doesn't know everything there is to know, but she knows how to bake!  We will do all sorts of baking together and you will learn why it is important to follow baking recipes, except when it isn't!  Experimentation is half of the fun when you're in the kitchen!

95. Use a fire extinguisher: We have them throughout the house in various places.  They are not toys, but you need to play around with one at some point so you know how to use it.  How many other kids do you know who will get the opportunity to empty an entire fire extinguisher?  Not nearly enough, I'd say!  Heck, I haven't even done that!  How does anyone expect to automatically be good at something like that if they haven't had the means to practice it?  Well, someday when you're old enough we will do that very thing... probably while we're out camping and need to put out the raging bonfire your dad built!

94. Parallel park with ease: This is another thing your mama excels at!  When I lived in the Scholarship Halls on campus we ONLY had parallel parking.  Not only that, they oversold our parking permits so we often had to fight each other arena-style to get any sort of parking.  Those with tiny compact cars, like mine, got REALLY good at shoving them in the smallest of spaces left by people who "stupid parked" their land yachts.  Any parallel parking job can be done with a three-point turn.  Learning how to instinctively calculate your parking geometry comes with practice.  Mark my words, when you are of driving age you will do a LOT of parallel parking practice.  You will do it until I'm happy with it and my bar is set REALLY high.  You want that driving permit?  Fine.  This is what you have to prove to me before you get the real thing because it is one of the hardest aspects of driving to master.  If you can do it while snatching the pebble from my hand at the same time, you will truly be the Parking Kung-Fu master! (Just kidding, keep your eyes on the damn road!)

93. Change a flat tire:  My answer to this may surprise you... I have a very hard time changing flat tires by myself.  The reason? Even though I know my way around a car and know HOW to change a flat, it's made a lot harder by the use of those air guns on the lug nuts at mechanic's shops when you go to get your tires rotated (or if they have to pull the wheels to check for other issues).  I've had problems in the past getting the lug nuts to break by even JUMPING on the tire iron!  I will teach you how to change a tire because it is important to know how to do it, but I will also teach you how to flag down help if you're having a problem with the lug nuts (it's called "calling the tow truck companies on your super holographic smart phone and seeing if someone could come and assist you if neither of us are near enough to help.")  You can totally charge it to our credit card if they make you pay... just as long as you're safe and sound!

92. Drive a stick shift:  I can drive a stick shift, I'm just not good at it.  It takes a certain level of practice to figure out the finesse to shift your car without grinding the gears.  Also, you'll need to practice the delicate art of lowering and lifting your left and right feet so as to apply proper pressure to the clutch and the gas/brakes at any given time.  None of these things are things I am good at, sadly.  BUT, your Uncle J knows a thing or two about shifting so if I ever get over my distrust of him teaching you terrible things, I may make him help out on this one... or not... because he's a really bad influence!

91. Parallel park: Ha!  It's so important they put it on the list TWICE!  Honestly, you won't be the scourge of the streets if you don't parallel park perfectly, but you will double your chances of finding a really good parking spot if you do know how to do it.  You'd be surprised the number of people I've been with who will pass up a perfectly good parking spot simply because they don't want to run the risk of embarrassing themselves with their lack of parallel parking skills.  I've even gotten out of the car and done it for them.  Don't be like that.  Learn how to do it properly!

(to be continued)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Parental Secret Service

So, you may have noticed that I hijacked your blog last week to post about a missing 14 year old girl from the Wichita area.  Your Aunt Em works with this little girl's mom, which is how I found out about her.  Em and some other friends from the area posted the information on Facebook along with the plea I posted in your blog.  I posted it here because I was trying to get the information out to people beyond Facebook and since this blog is connected to the Google Search Engine, I figured more people would see it here.  I was blown away by how many people found the information via this blog (I have the option to see page view stats).

Thankfully, you may have also noticed that the little girl was found alive and made her way back safely to her worried family.  I don't know all of the details surrounding her disappearance or her reappearance, but the important thing to take away from all of this... this girl was VERY lucky.  Not every story ends happily like this one did.  Many children disappear and quickly find themselves in over their heads, wishing they had not left in the first place. Regardless of the reasons the girl disappeared, she was definitely in danger during her absence.  

When you get to be older and start thinking you have all of the answers to life there may come a time when you think your dad and I are being unreasonable in some fashion.  You may even decide you don't want to come back home OR that you want to leave home.  You may decide that our refusal to let you go out to some sort of event stems from us "not being cool" or "not understanding what it's like to be a teenager" and you may decide to sneak out and attend without our knowledge.  There may be any number of events/variables/circumstances in which you do not agree with what we have to say to you and you may think that it would "teach us a lesson" if you went ahead and left without permission.

Go back and re-read that plea for help from someone who loves that girl very much.  Read the desperation.  Read the heartache.  Read how that little girl's aunt is BEGGING someone... anyone... to find out the truth about what happened to that child.  Little girl, you are not an island.  Your actions have real consequences; both for you and for the people who love you.  

You might think it won't harm anyone to sneak out of the house and you may even think we will never find out as long as you get back before we notice you're missing.  What if the people you're meeting up with do not have your best interests in mind?  What if those people, the people you thought you could trust, treat you poorly once you're with them?  What if they prevent you from leaving a situation that is quickly escalating beyond your control?  We would have NO IDEA where you are and possibly not even realize you're in danger until hours after the fact.  We, your parents... your Secret Service agents... we would be clueless as to how to help you all because you felt like your way was the better way to do things.

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot go through something like this.  If you went missing, I would be lost, too.  If we tell you "no" it won't be because we want to ruin your social life.  We will not tell you "no" without good reason.  It may seem insane to you that your dad and I were once teenagers, too.  Well, we were.  We had things we wanted to do that our parents wouldn't let us do, too.  Did it seem unfair?  Sometimes.  Did I disobey them?  A couple of times.  Guess what?  I usually had some sort of consequence that I wasn't expecting stem from my act of rebellion.  

That one time at summer camp when my mom told me to stay the hell away from the rope swing and I waited until she wasn't around and did it anyway?  Sprained ankle and a ruined camp experience.  That other time when I wandered farther away from home than I was supposed to and found ANOTHER rope swing to play on, completely forgetting my first rope swing incident?  Ruined brand new outfit and a huge 5 inch gash on my leg from the 2x4 with the nail sticking out of it that was just beneath the surface of the muddy murky water.  Don't believe me?  Look at my scar on my right leg.  I will have that as proof of my stupidity for the rest of my life.  (Also, take my word on rope swings.  Those things are killers.  Stay away from them!!!)

Then, there was another time in either junior high or high school where my dad and I got into some sort of fight over something (it was soooo important that I don't even remember what it was about!) and I went to youth group at my church determined that I wasn't going to go home that night.  I hadn't planned on where I was going to go (because teenagers aren't usually awesome at that whole "planning" thing), but I knew I wasn't going to go home that night... no matter what.  All it took was an adult talking to me and letting me know how upset my dad would be to help put things into perspective.  There were times as a child that I didn't know where some adults in my life were at any given time and it scared me.  I didn't want to inflict that same feeling on people I loved so I went home that night.  

I want you to know that no matter how angry you are at us, your parents, you need to come home to us.  You need to always come home so we can keep track of you and help keep you safe.  The Secret Service would be no kind of Secret Service if the President were allowed to run off willy-nilly at his or her own whim.  We are your Secret Service.  It is our job to know where you are at all times and make sure you aren't putting yourself in harm's way.  Please let us do our job.  Please let us use our experience in this world to help keep you safe.  You don't have to agree with all of our decisions, but you do have to understand that we aren't in the business of keeping you from things just to ruin your life.  We have been around long enough to know when something sounds like something bad.  You may be willing to take risks with your safety and well-being, but we're not.  There are MANY parents out there who would give ANYTHING to go back in time and say these things to their own kids... kids who have either gone missing or had something bad happen to them simply because they felt like they knew more than their parents.

I never want to scare you and I never want you to become paranoid about the dark and scary things that lurk in the shadows, but I DO WANT YOU TO TRUST US!  Go back and re-read that plea again... and again... and again... until you understand that decisions made in the heat of the moment rarely manifest what you want them to manifest.  Be smart, think about the consequences of your actions, and above all else...

Come home.  Always come home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Missing girl found alive!

Apologies for not getting to log on this weekend to post this sooner (as I know other people were following this closely), but the missing 14 year old girl, Dana Phiri, has been found alive and is back home safely with her family!

The details weren't made clear to me, nor do they need to be since I don't know the family, but the important thing is she is safe.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by and took notice!  The family surely appreciates your efforts!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Missing 14 year old girl from the Wichita Area!

Posted from http://www.facebook.com/kameron.mullalysmith/posts/3770865232720 for people without Facebook profiles! 

  Sincerely BEGGING everyone for your help!!! This is my highschool classmate's missing daughter! PLEASE, if you know anything about this girl or case, I urge you to contact the police immediatley! 

Here is a plea and letter from Dana's aunt: Hello Everyone, As you may know, my niece, Dana Phiri, is missing. We are doing everything we can to bring her home without much cooperation from the police. I have enclosed a letter which details the situation. I intend to send the letter out to the Lt. governor, the Kansas Legislature, and all of Wichita's news stations. Many of you have said that you are more than willing to help if we need it. We have reached a point where we need all the help we can get. I fully believe that there is power in numbers. Please, please take 5 minutes out of your day to copy and paste my letter and send it to the following e-mail addresses with "Dana Phiri age 14" listed in your subject box. It may not seem like much, but the impact of hundreds of e-mails with the same subject heading and same content has to get noticed by someone! We are desperate for help and believe that Dana's life is in jeopardy!! Please, please have compassion and help bring her home! If you know anyone who would be interested in helping to bring this child to safety, please forward this e-mail to them. There IS power in numbers! Please stand up for her safety and well being and forward this message! Thank you in advance for your help! Krystal Quillin lt.governor@ks.gov, LegServ@las.ks.gov, tcole@kake.com, news@kwch.com, news@ksn.com, tomgdisis@foxkansas.com To Whom It May Concern: 

 On the morning of Sunday, April 15, 2012, my sister-in-law, Daneil Quillin, awoke at 6 a.m. to discover that her daughter, 14-year-old Dana Phiri, was missing from her bed. After trying to call Dana, Daneil then reported Dana missing to the Wichita Police Department at 7:00 a.m. During that morning, Daneil discovered that Dana had snuck out in the night with a girl named Diamond Tatum in order to meet up with some older male teens. Due to the fact that Dana did not take any money or a change of clothes and has absolutely no history of running away, we truly believe that she intended to sneak out, meet some friends, and be home before her mom discovered she was ever gone. All day Sunday, Daneil searched friend’s homes, retrieved numbers from Dana’s cell phone records, and made contacts through Dana’s Facebook page in an attempt to locate Dana. The police refused to put a trace on Dana’s phone because she left the home of her own free will so they are treating the case as a runaway versus an Amber Alert. 

Through her own research, Daneil was able to discover the name of one of the male teens Dana had intended to meet up with. He was later arrested for breaking and entering and denied having any knowledge of Dana’s whereabouts. He is a known gang member in the Wichita area. On Wednesday morning, Dana attempted to use her cell phone to call her grandmother. When her grandmother answered, the line went dead. Daneil went straight to the police to see if they would trace the phone. They declined and said it was not a priority. Through a family member who is employed at the Ark City, KS police department, Daneil was able to get attempt the trace. No new information was obtained during this attempt. However, upon learning that the Ark City Police Department was aiding Daneil by attempting the trace, the Wichita Police Department became upset and accused the Ark City PD of stepping on their toes in their investigation even though they have told Daneil time and again that this investigation is not a priority. 

 It is now 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19th. Dana is nowhere to be found. Diamond Tatum has been posting on her Facebook page, but the police have made no attempt to locate the source of these Facebook posts. We have no word from Dana. What we do know is that it is highly likely that a sex trafficking ring abducted her. We have strong evidence supporting this. The Wichita EMCU has made statements to the effect that it is very common for young girls to think they are meeting up with a boy of romantic interest, only to find themselves abducted into the sex trafficking industry. Oklahoma City PD has also been contacted as it is believed that girls from Wichita often get taken to Oklahoma City through this particular ring. 

 As far as we know, Dana’s phone could be the key to locating her and saving her. However, T-Mobile will not manually turn it on and trace it until the police issue an Amber Alert or say that she is in imminent danger. She is a 14-year-old girl who has been missing for 4 days with no extra clothes, food, or money in a large city with a known sex trafficking ring!! Is this not imminent danger? Also, we are unable to put this information out to the media because they refuse to report on it without the Amber Alert. The Amber Alert system was designed to help save lives and it is the very thing that is inhibiting us from finding Dana!! Please help us reform this system in time to find her! Please help us get this information out. Her life is at stake and we cannot afford to waste another day, hour, or even minute! 

 Sincerely, Krystal Quillin

I don't care if you succeed, but please try!

I don't usually toot my own horn, but if there's one thing your mama is pretty good at in life it would have to be my ability to TRY things.  I may not always succeed in everything I try (if you find that hard to believe, just ask your dad about the time I made Indian food when we were dating!), but the fact that I put myself out there and allow myself the opportunity to either succeed or fail without remorse... I feel like it makes me a better person that I would be otherwise.  I have a lot of high hopes for you, like every mother has for her little one, but one of my highest hopes is that you will have enough confidence in yourself to run the risk of failure in pursuit of success.  

It doesn't matter how MANY times you fail, it only matters that you keep trying.  You've never actually failed until you succumb to your failure and quit trying to make it right.  I will never be disappointed in you for "falling short" of what you wanted to accomplish, but I will be terribly sad if you throw in the towel and quit doggedly fighting your way to your hopes and dreams.  It may take time, it may take inconvenience, it may cause heartache, it may even take sacrifice (note: it will usually take sacrifice), but nothing is out of your reach if you set your mind to it.  As the old saying goes: If at first you don't succeed... try, try again!

No one likes to fail.  It hurts to feel like we aren't good enough.  The way you react when you've failed at something is just as important in the grand scheme of things as the number of times you try something.  Failure and I go way back.  You could probably even say that most of the time I have set out to try something, I probably failed in some small way before I ever tasted the sweet nectar of success.  I can probably count on zero fingers the number of times I set out to do something new and nailed it on the first try.  In your first year of life you've already upstaged me by getting several things right on the first try! (Example: The first time you attempted the stairs in the house you made it all the way to the top without stopping and/or face-planting!) 

If we were tallying up my successes and plotting them on some sort of pie chart I'm guessing my life would look pretty grim!  I don't feel that way, though.  Instead, I see each time something didn't go as I had planned it to go or didn't turn out as I had intended it to turn out as an opportunity to tweak something the NEXT time I attempt it.  This process actually excites me now!  When you stop fearing failure it opens your mind up to the excitement of the learning process as a whole!  Now when a recipe I make doesn't pan out like I had hoped, I immediately begin brainstorming all of the reasons why it didn't work and begin planning a way to remedy those issues for the next attempt.  Instead of saying, "Well, this was a massive mistake!" I try to say, "Hmm... you know what, I can totally do better!"

This is what I want for you!

You might only be a year old right now, but I already see a fiery spirit in you that will not be contained!  You are active, brave, daring, curious, and unafraid of tackling new things.  All of these attributes will take you a long way in life!  However, I also see a sensitive soul in you.  I see a little girl who doesn't like to be told no, not necessarily because you REALLY wanted to do that thing I didn't want you to do, but because it looks like it hurts your feelings to have us reprimand you in any sort of way.  You don't just throw a fit when told no, you actually cry real tears and look and sound SO sad!  I know you're very young right now and learning about how the world works, but I do hope when you're older that you won't internalize your "wrongs" to the point where they make you sad and angry.  Instead, I want for you to step back, re-evaluate, learn from those things and try, try again!

To take a page from my own life's book, you know that I am currently trying to re-lose the weight I gained during my pregnancy with you that I had already lost once prior to becoming pregnant.  I lost over 100 lbs through diet and exercise and gained back over 80 of it.  Losing that 100 lbs was A LOT of work!  I don't think anyone would have faulted me fully if I decided to put off trying to lose that weight again, especially with a new baby, but it felt like giving up to put off trying again indefinitely.  Instead, I jumped back on the bandwagon as soon as I felt like I could balance it all and I am currently in the process of trying again.  

So, what happens if your dad and I decide to give you a brother or sister and I've already re-lost all of my weight again?  Well, I'll probably gain some of it back again and will have to try and re-lose it a THIRD time!  The point I'm trying to make?  Gaining my weight back at any point in my life isn't true failure.  It's a total setback, for sure!  But, it isn't actual failure until my mind says, "Yeah, I'm done.  I'm never going to be able to stay at my goal so I'm going to quit trying."  Setbacks and mistakes happen.  Deal with them by trying a different approach.  If that approach doesn't work, try another one... and another one... and another one!  Always keep an open mind to new solutions to your problem.  Inspiration can come from anywhere!  

Life is a series of decisions... a giant pool of trials and errors.  The attitude you choose to have when dealing with these decisions and the results of those decisions will go a long way toward your overall happiness in life.  I can guarantee that you will be a happier person if you take the bad stuff as a chance to "do better next time" than you will be if you get too down on yourself for "failing."  As I said before, I won't be disappointed in you for not succeeding, but I will be disappointed if you give up or have a bad attitude about it.  

But honestly, all of this has no real relevance to you right now anyway!  You're just starting to spread your wings and try new things!  We are going to keep encouraging you to do that very thing because the last thing we want to do is crush your spirits or make you think you shouldn't put yourself out there. To take a line from something that DOES hold relevance with you, right now... Yo Gabba Gabba:  Keep trying!  Keep trying!  Don't give up!  Never give up!  Don't stop now, don't stop now, you'll get it right!  You'll get it right!  Don't stop now, don't stop now, you'll figure it out! You'll figure it out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tonight's top story: Everything will kill your child!

Your dad and I live in constant fear of something awful happening to you. It occupies more of our thoughts than either of us wish to admit. The news is full of terrible stories about kids getting hurt by strangers, being involved in accidents, or (the worst thing of all) being hurt by the people they were supposed to trust to keep them safe. It hurts our hearts so badly to see this news reports that we have a rule in our home not to share the sad stories we hear with each other to prevent the other person from dwelling on the horrors of such things.

Slightly less horrifying (but still paranoia-inducing) than news reports about actual children being hurt are the ones that spew out all of the many seemingly common ways your child could hypothetically be hurt/killed/maimed. Back when I was little the only things that were really drilled into our heads were these two statements: "Don't speak to strangers" and "Stop, Drop, and Roll" (you know, for all of those times you find yourself on fire). The underlying message of these warnings implies as long as you follow these TWO simple rules, you should live to see tomorrow. Everything else is a go!

This was easy enough to remember. I specifically remember when I was around 8 or 9 years old getting to put my training into real-life use when I was out riding my bike around in my small hometown. It was near night-fall and I was headed back home when a car pulled up next to me and the driver asked if I needed a ride home. I immediately freaked out in my head because I was like, "THIS IS IT! I'M GETTING ABDUCTED!! MAN THE BATTLE STATIONS!" But, instead of screaming, "YOU AREN'T MY MOMMY!!!" at her, I politely declined and pedaled away quickly. I found out later that she was just someone who knew my dad and she recognized me, but she was proud of me for not accepting a ride from a person I didn't know even though she was just trying to help. Clearly my stranger-danger training worked. (Note: I haven't had a chance to use my Stop, Drop, and Roll training yet as I've managed to make it through 31 successful not-being-on-fire years so far. YAY!)

Ah, if only the simple times could last. It seems that a lot has changed during the years which have passed since I was a kid and now when I actually have one of my own. Everything is CRAZY scary now! Not only do you have the "Don't talk to strangers" and the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" but you have a billion other tiny little rules about what you should or shouldn't teach/do with your children to keep them safe. My mind is spinning! What if I forget to teach you something and you go into the world unprepared??? How terrible would I feel if something happened to you and it was because I let you down in your Jedi safety training???

These thoughts are my new constant companions.

Just this morning I was listening to NPR on the way to work and heard a story about something called "The Choking Game" that kids are playing as a free way to get a high-like rush. It basically involves strangulation as a means of depriving the brain the oxygen it needs to, you know... live. The kids either use their hands to strangle their friends until they nearly pass or they do it alone by wrapping something around their necks and tying the other end to something else so they can strangle themselves. The idea, of course, is to STOP right before something bad happens. It turns out that kids aren't as good at pinpointing when that bad stuff happens as they thought they would be. Kids are freaking DYING from this crap!

I swear, when I was a kid, NO ONE had to tell us not to strange ourselves for fun! If someone said that to me as a kid I would have been like, "Um... yeah... do you think I'm some sort of idiot? Why are you telling me this?" But, now I feel compelled to have this talk with you when you're older because apparently kids ARE some sorts of idiots! It won't mean I think you're an idiot, but it will mean I don't want you to fall under the pressure of your idiot friends who want you to do the idiot things they come up with. I'm guessing by the time you're a teenager The Choking Game will be a thing of the past, but kids are adventurous and dumb so I am sure something equally ridiculous will take its place. "Tonight on News at 11: Is your child playing the Shish-Kabob Game? It involves taking sharp Hepatitis-covered bamboo skewers and stabbing them through several levels of children to create a Shish-Kabob of bloody, diseased, screaming teenagers! Why your child might be at risk!!" Absolute insanity!

Here is a short list of things I worry (worried) about because of newspaper articles, news reports, or general run-of-the-mill old wives tales:

*Magnets: Apparently if a kid swallows more than one magnet they can wind up with life-threatening injuries when those magnets stick together as they work their way through the intestinal tract. Kids and pets have lost parts of their bowels or even DIED simply because kids and pets eat every frickin' thing that isn't nailed down. I know this is true because I ate blanket fuzz and a couple of metal ball-bearings when I was a kid. Hey, don't judge me! You are ALWAYS trying to put things in your mouth before dad and I stop you! You try to eat wood-chips, for heaven's sake!

*Hot dogs: I hesitate to feed you even the smallest particle of hot dogs, not because they're gross and made of pig anus (okay, maybe partly that) but because everyone tells you not to feed small kids hot dogs because they're a terrible choking risk. My brain tells me that they aren't any more dangerous cut up into small non-choking-sized pieces than anything else I give you, but for some reason it is stuck in my brain that giving you even a small amount of hot dog increases the chances that I'll get to practice the Heimlich on you. I found out you had some hot dogs at your grandma's house this weekend and felt every part of my body pucker all at once (not a pleasant feeling, mind you) until I realized that I was being wholly unreasonable.

*Crib bumpers: All of the SIDS groups tell you not to put anything in the crib except the baby and a mattress, if you're lucky. Crib bumpers are akin to putting knives and grenades in the crib with your baby because of the risk of suffocation. We were diligent parents and didn't put the crib bumpers in your crib... right up until we almost broke your arm trying to get it unstuck from however you managed to contort your body to get it stuck in the crib slats in the first place. That night, the bumpers went on! We figured you were aware enough NOT to let yourself get suffocated (which made you about 1,000% smarter than those teenagers I mentioned who play that Choking Game, at the ripe old age of 6 months old). Still, the news reports and SIDS groups have made parents think that their babies are the world's most helpless little creatures until you enroll them in kindergarten that parents are nearly unable to make those decisions for themselves anymore. Logic told us that we KNEW you and we KNEW you were able to move yourself away from any sort of danger in your crib, but parents aren't encouraged to make those decisions for themselves anymore based on their own kid. We're programmed almost immediately to follow every single guideline put forth and how DARE we not follow it to the max!

Now, I am still genuinely terrified of the whole "stranger" thing and for good reason! There are so many nutjobs out there who would have no qualms about hurting you. For that reason we intend on educating the crap out of you about what to do when you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation because those things are REAL and PERVASIVE in our society, like they've always been. I'm putting your little butt into some sort of martial arts training as soon as you're old enough to yell "HEE-YAWWWW!!!" We're going to have secret family passwords so you know if someone can be trusted. We're going to talk about how to spot a safe-place if you feel like you're in danger. We're going to teach you that it is absolutely okay to say "NO" to someone if you don't trust them and that we'd never be mad at you for hurting someone if you do so while trying to defend yourself. These are skills you can take with you your entire life.

As far as all of the other insane things go, I just hope that we have a close enough relationship that you feel like you can come to us and tell us if someone is pressuring you to do something you aren't comfortable doing. It might seem like we're all over your life, butting in when you don't want us to, but please know that we will do this because we love you and we don't want to see anything bad happen to you. I won't lie, there are a lot of very dangerous things out there. Some of these dangerous things are known to us and we can teach you how to avoid them. Some of these dangerous things are unknown to us and we will rely on your wisdom, common sense, and faith in us as your parents to help get you through them. Until then, we will do our best to walk that fine line between safety and discovery because we respect your lack of fear when it comes to trying new things, even if it terrifies US a bit!

Oh, and if/when you have a child someday... don't read or watch or listen to the news. It will slowly tear away any hope you have for humanity and it is totally not representative of the world as a whole. Most of the people you will meet will be good folks and not deranged psychopaths. It's our job to teach you how to tell the difference... and how to tear their eyes from their face if they try to do anything to hurt you.