Just Her Size

In the past 10 years we've been married we have rarely decorated for Christmas. We always end up traveling halfway across the country to be with family during our two-week Christmas holiday vacation, so it seems like a lot of unnecessary work to decorate and not be here to enjoy it.

This is Penelope's first Christmas in the U.S., and it appears that we've had a change of heart. Since the day after Thanksgiving we've been busy putting up a tree and pulling out the holiday decorations people have given us over the years. I guess having a child causes you to cling more tightly to your family traditions and make new ones of your own.

Penelope was a pretty good helper when we put up the Christmas tree. It is the tree I grew up with that my parents handed over to us when they replaced it with one of those fancy-schmanzy pre-lit trees. The directions for assembling the tree have long since been lost, but by process of elimination we managed to put it together piece by piece.

"Found it Mommy!"

By Penelope's bedtime the tree was assembled, decorated and lit. Penelope was quite impressed.

The problem with Christmas trees and toddlers is that there are way too many temptations. Our solution was to give Penelope her own tree that she could touch and experiment with all she wanted.

So far our plan has worked.

But we'll see how long it lasts...


The Garden

We spent the afternoon in one of our favorite local settings--Duke Gardens. We let Penelope explore to her heart's content. She was in heaven.

The lighting was perfect for picture taking. Penelope cooperated for a few.

in a precarious position looking for turtles

contemplating nature

balancing on the precipice before I dashed to her rescue

wondering where all the water went

feeding the ducks

a game of hide-and-go-seek

I guess I was more into it than she was

daddies know just how to carry little girls

highlight of the day: playing in the gravel

an economy of rocks

every good time must come to an end


Wishful Thanking

It was a very quiet Thanksgiving this year. Just the three of us spending the cool, rainy day lounging around the house. I refused to make a huge meal for just us, so I cheated by buying a rotisserie chicken for the two meat-eaters in our house. Penelope's highlights were watching the parade on TV, devouring a ton of green beans and getting the bigger end of the wishbone.
She wouldn't tell me what she wished for, but I have a feeling it has to do with being with family for Thanksgiving next year.



This 100-year-old oak tree that sits in our front yard is a beautiful sight to behold in the fall. But all of its leaves along with the leaves of all of the other trees surrounding our house sure make a whole lot of work for us when they fall down.

Penelope did her best to help me rake up the first batch of fallen leaves. And a big pile of leaves can only mean one thing to a child--a pile to be taken down, rolled around in, and thrown. And that is just what Penelope did. 

Now, three days later, there are just as many more leaves waiting in the backyard for me to rake up. Looks like there will be even more piles of leaves for Penelope to play in....


Minus One

Over the past several days Penelope was without her dear daddy while he was away at a conference. Things weren't quite the same around here, but we tried our best to keep busy to make the time past faster.

On Saturday we went to the farmer's market and enjoyed a breakfast picnic on the grass. Then we went over to the public library to check out some new books and participate in the bilingual story and music time. Penelope preformed a percussion solo.

After a long nap we went out back to explore the fall leaves and flowers.

Smelling without picking was too tempting of a task for lil' P.

Then we raked the leaves into a big pile and took turns jumping in.

That night we celebrated a friend's birthday. Penelope spent most of her time zooming around the back porch.

On Sunday we managed to make it in time to church, but afterwards we got stranded in the church parking lot when the car keys somehow ended up locked inside of the car. Thanks to some very helpful church members and the good 'ole people at AAA, we finally made it home. After a refreshing nap we let loose at the neighborhood park.

Then things went downhill. Penelope came down with a fever and a case of the croup, which led to a sleepless night for both of us and a day off of work for mom the next day. Thankfully Monday went a bit better, so we spent the day getting caught up on laundry and digging in the garden. Looks like we might have a future gardener on our hands.

Sick? Me? Watcha talkin' about?

Look Ma! Dirt!

Dirty little gardener.

love the wispy curls almost as much as she loves her "tick"

When Monday evening finally arrived and her daddy walked in the front door, you have never seen such a happy little girl. Penelope kept hugging and kissing and clinging to her daddy as if to reassure herself that he was really back.


Zoo Safari

antelope in the "African savannah"

On a whim we decided to hop in the car Saturday morning and drive to Asheboro for a visit to the NC State Zoo. We concluded that this time of year was by far the best time to pay our zoo a visit. Not only was the weather nice and the crowds sparse, but the fall leaves were at their peak. So as we walked the almost 5 miles of paths from exhibit to exhibit we got to admire all the brilliant fall foilage.

Eager Penelope ready to go explore. "Let's get this show on the road!"

Chilean flamingo

an attempt to scale the wall and join in the flamingo fun

bird watching in the rain forest


gorilla watching


more baboons

elephant spotting

trying to get a better view


after this picture Penelope tried to share her fruit bar with the elephant. the elephant wasn't interested.

snoozing lion

chimp keeping watch

"nigh-nigh", says Penelope 

this guy was really into posing for the cameras

when baby starts to drag, the playground is a guaranteed fix

the last stop of the day was the swamp. forget the alligators, all Penelope cared about were the turtles. she was so impressed by the creatures that she decided to add "turtle" to her quickly growing speaking vocabulary.

she then proceded to repeat "turtle" over and over and over again until she finally conked out in the car on the way home.