Sylvan Dayle

Old News



APOLOGIES!  I have been a terrible web site updater.  So, here are a bunch of really old pictures, but I am slowly working my back up thru the year.  I also am posting some very recent ones from our visit to the Faerie Festival.  It was hot but we enjoyed ourselves as much as possible in the shade. 

Sylvan will be marching in the Pre-school graduation ceremony on June 20 in her cap and gown (I am not making that up).  She has been practicing the songs and also the Pledge of Allegiance.  She asked me if I knew it, and I rattled it off like a good elementary schooler, but she told me that I had it wrong and that I missed “the outer space part.”  I questioned her about that, but was not able to nail down which part that is. 

She will attend her same pre-school thru the summer for their summer camp program, and then start Kindergarten at our local school in September. She is very excited about that. 

Sylvan has gotten very good at snapping, after about 6 months of working on it.  She is very into mermaids and fairies now, and received many as gifts for her birthday. 

Connor has finished his sophomore year and is headed back to Montana next week.  He has made some good progress on many things this year and we are proud of him for that.  He participated in the POPS Concert at the end of the year, and I have some pictures from that that I need to post.  He and Steve went to the Joint Services Air Show a few weeks back and saw the Memphis Belle and other aircraft.  This weekend they are off to Games Day, which they are looking forward to.  Steve and Connor also sang in a Memorial Day concert with the National Men’s Chorus at a local church.  They looked very handsome in their tuxedos! 

Happy Summer!


Sylvan has been working hard to learn how to snap her fingers. This is great activity for her to focus on while we are at the grocery store, or on another errand.  I guess she has gotten pretty good b/c we do a lot of errands!  She is now able to make a sound when she snaps (both hands!).  It’s not a loud sound, but I can hear it even when I am not standing right next to her, so I think she will have the real sound pretty soon.  She is very proud.

I am sure this will enhance her enjoyment of music and dancing, when she can snap like I do.  This has also made me notice that I snap more than I thought.

We received a big box of hand me downs from some friends this week and that included clothes and also books.  Sylvan found a book about dogs barking that she really likes, and she is starting to learn to read some of the words in it.  She has mastered “dog” and is working on the numbers from one to ten written out in letters.  We also have a jolly time making all of the dog bark noises in the book. 

She is very much looking forward to going to kindergarten next year. She asks me almost every day on the way to school about how much longer until she gets to ride the school bus to school.

Sylvan announced yesterday that she wants to be cowgirl when she grows up.  And furthermore, that her friend Big Alisa from school also wants to be a cowgirl and would it be OK if they live together and be real cowgirls.  She’s got her whole life figured out already, although I was a little concerned when she had no idea what it is that cowgirls do. 

I know it has been forever since I last updated our site, and for that I do apologize.



Once again, time has escaped me and these are terribly late updates on our summer adventures.  After the trip to Texas, we spent a week in Missoula to celebrate Katie’s graduation from Hellgate High School.  We were able to take in a Hellgate Choir concert, which Katie and Connor were both in, visit the National Bison Range, ride the carousel, and even took a day trip to Glacier Park. 

Steve and Sacha both had a bunch of other travel for work, including Sacha’s brief trip to Moscow at the end of June.  There are a few pictures of her visit, as well as our July 4th celebration. 

Sylvan is doing the summer camp curriculum at school again this year, with a good amount of water play and fun activities.  She and many of her friends will move into Miss Rema’s class in the fall, which she is looking forward to.  She had an excellent check up with Dr. Kelly in May.  Dr. Kelly asked her a bunch of questions and made sure she can hop on one foot, among other skills.  We are in search of a tricycle or bike with training wheels for her to try out – another milestone to check off.  She got two shots and a TB test.  There are two or three more shots she has to get before Kindergarten.  She wasn’t a fan of the shots, but she was a trooper. 

Connor is here for the summer, and I am very envious of his schedule, which includes a lot of loafing around and spending hours on his hobby, eating junk food, sleeping, reading and playing video games.   He also does yard work, and helps around the house.   

Katie has decided to move to Seattle in the fall and attend Community College there.  We are very excited for her and are looking forward to getting her linked up with all our friends there.  She and Steve are enjoying a week in Hawaii together while he attends some meetings there. 


It has been WAY too long since I updated this thing. Apologies to all you visitors.  The good news is that there are SIX new folders of cuteness awaiting you.  Travel has continued to be dominate our lives this spring, but we did take some time out for a big fourth birthday bash for Sylvan.  See it all in the pictures below….


Sorry, I have gotten busy and lazy all at the same time and haven’t updated the site since 2006!  Let’s see, to get everyone caught up here are some highlights:  Sylvan and I went to Seattle in January with Auntie for a great visit with Molly, Matt, Miles and Micah and our other Seattle friends.  Steve got a new job and just returned from Singapore.  Katie had a great experience at All Northwest Choir Competition and we are looking forward to having Connor spend more time here this summer.  Katie has applied to colleges and is waiting to hear back, so keep your fingers crossed.  Sacha is off to Palm Springs for Annual Conference and will be going to Moscow later this year on business. 

Besides a whole lot of travel, we have enjoyed two big snowfalls this winter.  Sylvan really loves sledding, and she is brave enough to go all by herself, though she needs help getting up when the snow is really deep and/or slippery.



We had a wonderful trip to Montana for Christmas, despite the best efforts of Northwest Airlines to ruin our trip. 



The big family news this month is that Katie was selected for the All Northwest Choir, which places her among the 100 top high school vocalists from five states.  She definitely has the Carey pipes.  We are all extremely proud of her.  We are off to Montana for a holiday visit, but here are some pictures of our adventures in November and December as we enjoyed Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas and Hanukah.  

 Happy Holidays! 



OK, so things have been crazy and these pictures are all really old by now.  It has been so long that I can’t even remember what the heck we were doing, so you may have to figure these out largely on your own.  Otherwise it would take me until June of 2007 to write the text for these pages.  Lucky for you, these pictures cover Halloween, which should be fairly self explanatory.  Except you might be wondering about Sylvan’s costume.  She wanted to be a Purple Monkey.  It was hard to figure out how to make that, so we just adapted a dragon costume.  She wasn’t really sold on the costume, so I am guessing she will choose something a bit more mainstream next year.  Steve accessorized it with a banana to help people figure out what she was. 

Sacha’s annual trade show was at the end of October.  She was on travel for two whole weeks.  The show went well, but I think mostly we are all just glad it’s over. 

Steve went to Jakarta for 10 days in November, overlapping with Sacha’s trip, so Gram and Auntie were kind enough to take Sylvan duty for a few days.  Steve reports that Jakarta was really just another big urban city, but he did score some cool Indonesian arts and crafts before he flew home.



Connor came and stayed with us for a month from late July to late August, and we had lots of adventures.  He was much more mature than the last time he visited, and I think he enjoyed his stay.  He found a game store and spent a lot of time there playing matches with other teens and painting his army.  He mastered the public transportation system here, mowed the lawn and did lots of puzzles with Sylvan.  Sylvan adores him and always did whatever she could to emulate him. 

While Connor was here, we all went to Pittsburgh for my step-sister Ellie’s wedding, and Steve and Connor went to Gettysburg for a weekend of touring battlefields.  Sylvan and I closed out August by going to North Carolina for a week at the beach.  We can’t believe that summer is over already.  We are closing in on my annual trade show in Chicago, and Steve has a trip to Indonesia coming up in November.  The fall promises to be a busy one for us.   


It’s been far too long since the last update, so apologies to all.  We have FOUR new folders of pictures for you, so that should help make up for it, and keep you busy for a while.  We certainly have been busy.  You can read all the details about what we have been up to on the gallery pages.  Steve has been away for almost all of July, so we are looking forward to having him home this week, and Connor will be with us for a month, so we’re looking forward to that as well.  

The big news is that Sylvan was promoted to the next class in her pre-school. They are doing a summer camp curriculum during the summer, and I guess they decided it would be good to move her now, while there are fewer kids there and less going on. She finished her soccer class at school as well, and was VERY PROUD of her T-shirt and medallion, which all the kids in the class received.  She has now moved into the middle class – which is 3 and 4 year olds, and Miss Janet is her new teacher. She already knew a lot of the kids in the class, so I think it has been a smooth transition for her.  She will still see her old pals in Miss Maria’s class on the playground and during morning arrivals.   


We have been very busy lately and have lots of pictures to show for it!  Sylvan had a wonderful celebration of her third birthday about 2 weeks ago.  We had a big party for her at our house, and the weather cooperated beautifully.  Sylvan also got her first pair of shin guards and started taking a soccer class at school.  She received tons of gifts by mail and in person, and had a great time opening all of these new things.  

The weather here stayed cool through May, which was wonderful, but someone seems to have hit the humidity switch ON all of a sudden, and now it’s in the 90s and miserably humid.  The good news is that the fireflies are coming out, and we always enjoy them – one of the few things that Steve likes about the East Coast!  We painted our living room and dining room and are very happy with the results.  

Steve has really turned into The Lawn Guy – he is always watering it and grooming it.  He says since we spent so much on the lawn mower that we’d better have a decent lawn to cut.  We were lucky to inherit a very healthy lawn from the previous owners, so he’s doing his best to keep it that way.  We have been spending a lot of time outside.  The bird house in our backyard is home to several families of birds, and we like to watch them busying about.  We planted some hydrangea and a lilac that were given to us by friends who are having an addition put on their house.  We have pretty roses and peonies blooming now, and the iris were also beautiful this year.  

We have been having lots of cookouts and having people over – I guess making up for all that time when we lived in places that were too small to entertain.  It’s been a lot of fun. 

Sylvan keeps us all very entertained.  She is a joy.  I can understand why everyone says Age Three is the best age.  Her sense of humor is really blossoming right now – she will often say “That’s FUNNY” or she will even ask “Mommy, is that funny?” to gauge the situation at hand.  She loves her dress up clothes – especially the purple high heeled plastic shoes – she insisted on wearing them out last weekend.  It sounds like a pony is following me around – clip clop clip clop.  

We are completely done with diapers. She has been sleeping through the night with no accidents for a while now.  I haven’t given away the diapers yet, just in case, but I really don’t think she will need them anymore.  She is doing really well with writing as well. She knows all her letters and can trace her name.  I think she will be able to write her name by herself pretty soon.  I really like all the drills and worksheets they do at school.  I think it has helped her a lot.  No word yet on when she will move up to the next class.  


Sylvan is growing like a weed – I swear she is getting taller overnight!  She is leaving all that baby stuff behind, and fast.  She made the switch to underpants at night and has not had one accident.  We have had more success with pooping on the potty without so much drama, which is also nice.  She is correcting us less.  We also removed the side bar on her bed, since she hasn’t really had any problems with staying in the middle of the bed while sleeping.  She still doesn’t get out by herself, but I know that will come soon.  When that happens, I will be very quick to teach her how to get her own breakfast made too!  

Birthday party planning is in full swing, and she talks about her birthday all the time.  She is having a Dora party, and Steve and I have figured out a whole Dora adventure to lead the kids through on party day.  Hopefully we will have good weather.  If  not, we’ll have to come up with Plan B in a hurry.  


Steve went to Thailand for 10 days and ate lots of pineapple.  Sylvan got sick again and spent the weekend in bed and watching “Finding Nemo.”  She is back and school and on antibiotics and inhaler now.  She had two accidents at school last week but now that she’s feeling better she’s doing well on the potty again.  I am getting settled in to my new office and enjoying a much shorter commute. 

Sylvan is understanding some things about the Easter Bunny, but I don’t think anyone has fully explained what that is about.  I’m not sure how much I really want to go into it with her, but she likes the egg hunt.   We have had some practice ones here because she likes to play hide and seek with the plastic eggs leftover from last year.  She will have at least three chances to do some egg hunts this weekend, so I imagine she will get her fill of candy and eggs.  Our big Easter plans are to go see Tai Shan, the baby panda.  We have our tickets and are all set to go.  Sylvan has been talking about that for weeks.  


It’s been a busy month for us.  Sacha went on two 5-day work trips.  Steve went to WA for National Guard, and Sacha’s office is about to move.  We had visits from Gram, as well as Grandpa and Lily. 

Sylvan’s school suggested that we make the leap from pull-ups to underpants over the weekend.  She did very well all weekend, and then on Monday went to school in underpants (with plenty of extra clothes just in case).  Miss Maria reported at the end of the day that Sylvan refused to pee on the potty at all that day, had one accident, and was back in pull-ups.  She was clearly constipated and needed to poop by the end of the day.  I was worried because although she has done great with peeing on the potty, she had yet to poop on the potty.  Steve and I were thrilled when she pooped on the potty when we got home!  With that success, we went back to panties in the morning and she did great at school on Tuesday and Wednesday all day.  Except tonight she pooped in her new Dora underpants.  I think she was most upset that she had soiled Dora.  We have been having a terrible time with her and constipation for some time now, so we were glad that she pooped, just not so happy about the underpants. 

Sylvan is still very into Dora, but we have managed to break her of watching so much TV.  She was sick so much this winter that we transitioned into a lot of TV after a while.  I’m glad the weather is getting better.  She is still taking dance class, and she seems like she might be ready for soccer or something like that soon.  She loves to kick her ball around out in the yard. 


It’s been a busy month since my last update.  Sorry for the wait.  We had a great trip to Seattle and then catching up at home.  

Sylvan has started getting into things that she was never really interested in before.  She burned her thumb by spilling Steve’s tea at a Chinese restaurant over the weekend.  Fortunately it was one of those tiny tea cups and we got her in some ice water right away. She also continued to jump on her bed even after I told her not to, and bounced herself right off and thumped her forehead on the floor.  She got a small egg on her head that was remedied with more ice.  I’m being a little more watchful of the knives in the butcher block and other things on the kitchen counter, as that is her favorite place to sit these days.  

Sylvan has made huge progress in her potty training at home and at school. She has gotten adjusted to her new school, and she seems to really enjoy it, and they her.  We learned about using a rewards system from Molly and Matt while we were in Seattle, and Sylvan really responded to that. She gets one M&M for peeing in the potty, and boy does that motivate her.  She still goes at school, although I don’t believe they use a reward system there.  She has big girl underpants to look forward to, but so far she hasn’t pooped in the potty, despite the package of gummy bears that she gets to break into when she finally produces.  I have figured that she will go when she’s ready, and we are very pleased with her progress.  

We really hope Miles comes to visit us soon. Sylvan might drive us crazy with her constant asking about when he’s coming to HER HOUSE.  


We are trying to get back to normal after a long stream of houseguests over the holidays.  Sylvan has gone back to daycare, and seems to be suffering from Separation Anxiety.  I think she is struggling with being off of our regular schedule over the break, and now the real transition has started into the new school, and new everything else at home.  Three of her four grandparents were here at various times over the holidays, as were Katie and Connor, so she had a great time with all of them.  We have backed off on the potty training because she was having problems with constipation, but now that things are settling back down, we will start trying again after we return from our upcoming trip to Seattle.  Sylvan was great fun – she is very into Santa, and really loved leaving the cookies and beer and note for him on Xmas Eve.  She also left a  carrot for the reindeer, and was excited to come out in the morning and see the crumbs, empty bottle, and carrot stub on Xmas morning.  I think that may have been more exciting for her than the gifts – except for the whoopee cushion.   Yes, my Mom gave Connor a whoopee cushion for Xmas and it was used so much it finally popped when Sylvan was sitting on it.  She and Connor got many a laugh out of that thing, which we all got a kick out of.


We moved into our new house about a week ago and Steve has done a great job making the living areas unpacked and even somewhat decorated for the holidays already.  We had a few surprises when we moved in – our box spring wouldn’t go up the stairs so we had to get a new bed with a split box spring, plus our dresser wouldn’t fit up there either – the doorway is too small to allow large furniture to turn and go up the small stairwell.  The bedrooms are starting to come together now that we have all of that sorted out.  

Sylvan loves the new house.  She talks about it all of the time – she likes her new room, and she’s had fun “helping” us unpack boxes and sort though our stuff. She has definitely slowed down on the potty training, but that is not a surprise. She did go poop on the potty at Auntie’s on Saturday, but hasn’t been asking to sit on the potty as much at home lately.  Too much other fun to be had. She likes the basement a lot and asks to go down there whenever we are going to get something, but she won’t go by herself (which is fine with me).  We got a bunch of snow last week and she was very interested in playing in it, touching it, stomping around, etc.  I think it’s going to be a snowy winter this year.  

Sylvan started her new daycare today.  She was acting very calm and social while I was there getting her settled in this morning.  I think taking her there for a visit before we enrolled her was a great idea.  She still may react later this week, but I’m hoping she will transition well.  Once my office moves in March my commute and daycare pickups will be so easy!  I can hardly wait for that. 

We are busy getting ready for the holidays and continuing to unpack. Sylvan continues to speak better and better all the time.  We are interested to see if her speech shows a big improvement now that she will have caregivers that speak more English.  

Happy Holidays Everyone! 


We have had our hands full these past few weeks.  Halloween was fun, but not as fun as last year.  I think Sylvan does better when she has an older kid to show her what to do and how fun Halloween is.  She wasn’t that interested in trick or treating this year.  She has enjoyed her candy, but hasn’t been really into that either. 

Sylvan’s Gram came last weekend to help us pack up our apartment.  Sylvan started getting sick on Saturday with a fever and wasn’t feeling well.  By Sunday she was showing signs of breathing difficulty.  On Monday we took her to the doctor, because she was definitely in respiratory distress and very ill.  They suspected pneumonia, which was confirmed on Tuesday by a chest X-ray.  We went to the doctor every day this week except for Thursday for breathing treatments and follow-ups to monitor her illness. Sylvan has pneumonia in both lungs, and was on antibiotics, steroids, inhaler, and fever medicine.  They were able to keep her out of the hospital, for which we were very grateful. She is now out of the woods but will still have lung congestion and cough for another few weeks.  She is cleared to go back to daycare on Monday.  

Next week is Thanksgiving, and we certainly have much to be thankful for. 


We put an offer in on a house on our first day out looking with the real estate agent.  We had done a good amount of research over the summer and visited a lot of open houses on our own.  The market here has slowed enough that inspections are starting to be allowed again, and interest rates are still fairly low, so we decided to go for it.  We found a great single family house that has everything we want, except for a garage.  We can live without that, especially since we DO get a family room, 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a nice yard, fireplace, new kitchen, refinished hardwood floors, etc.  It’s in great shape and passed the inspection very well.  The location will make us both closer to work, and we will be looking for a new daycare for Sylvan that is closer than where she is now.  The closing is Nov. 28 if all goes according to plan (so far it has).  We are looking forward to having our place, not having people living upstairs walking on our heads, and building some equity.  

In Sylvan news, she has continued to be very whiny, easily frustrated, and exploring the boundaries of rules and parental control.  She has also been a lot of fun.  You can see in the new pictures that she went to a farm with Auntie for some Halloween Pumpkin Hunting, hay ride, and petting zoo.  She is showing slightly more interest in potty training, but still no results.  We took her to see the outside of the new house, and she was very puzzled about why we could not go inside.  We took pictures outside and she’ll get to see the inside some other time.  There is a 17 month old girl, Allison, who lives next door to the new house.  Sylvan and she seemed to be interested in each other, and there seem to be a lot of kids in the area there.  


Sacha went to Las Vegas for 9 days and Sylvan stayed at home with Daddy.  They had a great time building a “hooch” out of Steve’s Army gear.  She even got to wear his Kevlar Helmet.  She was also sick a lot of the time I was gone, so there aren’t that many photos of fun being had as a result.  Since I’ve been back she has been sick again, and we’ve still been crazy-busy at work.  I am off to Chicago again tomorrow for a short trip and then again at the end of the month.  Not much time for anything, which is why I haven’t done any updates.  We got Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land, which Sylvan LOVES.  She wants us to play with her all the time.  She ALWAYS gets to be Elmo, and I am always Big Bird and Daddy is always Cookie Monster (we got the Sesame Street version of Chutes and Ladders).  Candy Land is easier for her to play since there are no numbers involved. She doesn’t play by the rules and she loves the “special cards” so much that she holds onto them for several turns and wants to stay there instead of advancing further.  She doesn’t know about winning or losing either.  It’s fun.


Our schedules have been crazy lately, but we had a great couple of weeks, picture-wise and family-wise.  Steve’s sister and family were here (from Austria) for 2 days so I got some nice shots of Sylvan’s cousin Julian. Sylvan and Julian both wore their firetruck PJs and Sylvan regressed by crawling all over the house with Julian.  Then we went to Pittsburgh for Labor Day weekend and Sylvan had a great time playing at all of my old playgrounds and visiting Gram and Grandpa and Grandma Lily.  Mostly those playgrounds I loved are totally different, but the blue slide that you see her going down w/ me and Steve is still there and still just as much fun as always.  After the camera batteries died, Sylvan even went down by herself a whole bunch of times. She looked terrified every time but insisted on going again and again.  So funny.  I’m off to Illinois on business and Steve is heading to Poland for a conference.  Sylvan and Gram are coming along with me to have fun in IL.


We took Sylvan to see The Wiggles live in concert today.  Sylvan, Auntie and I went and had a great time.  We arrived just as the first song was being performed, and Sylvan saw all of her favorite Wiggles characters live and in person.  We had excellent seats, because Auntie’s husband Geoff went on line and ordered them for us the very moment they went on sale several months ago.  It was fun to see all the kids (and parents) dancing and singing along to the songs.  

While Sylvan was at the beach, she started saying “Uh-huh” and “Uh-Uh” instead of “yes” and “no”.  She now also sometimes says “yep” and “nope”.  Not sure where all of this is coming from.  She is saying some pretty impressive long sentences these days.   The other day coming home from school she told me how she and her classmate Shria both fell down at school. Sylvan fell down outside and Shria fell down inside, and Shria cried but was not hurt. She was OK.  Sylvan didn’t cry and was also OK. She put all of these ideas together into longer and longer compound sentences.  It was interesting to listen to her building the sentences.  She would say one sentence and then say it again and throw in another clause to give more information.  She is also doing a lot of hiding and talking about where she is hiding, which has helped her learn prepositions – hiding UNDER the chair, BEHIND the door, INSIDE the tent, etc.  She continues to pretend more and more – she has created a secret house under the play structure out in the courtyard.  She pretends to feed her dolls and stuffed toys by giving them cheerios and drinks from her sippy cup.  She also mimics what I do more and more.  I was giving her a bath tonight and she started washing my arm very thoroughly with the washcloth.  She also gives me kisses when I get a boo-boo, just like I do to her.


(From Gram): Sacha and Steve gave their permission for Sylvan to join our annual beach vacation without them.  Auntie Jenny and Sylvan flew to NC, where Nancy, Scott, and Gram picked them up, and we all drove the final 45 minutes to our favorite beach in NC.  Sylvan chugged down the beach with Scott and Gram for about a mile at the first dawn, arms pumping, feet slapping the surf, chasing seagulls and sandpipers, delighting in pelicans overhead.  She didn’t like walking in the soft sand, but the hard, wet sand was OK.  Scott told her to accept that she’d have sand in everything all week, and she did become more tolerant of sandy hands and feet eventually.  Sylvan picked out temporary tattoos every day and told us who would wear them and where.  She favored frogs, dragons, and lizards; she usually wore 5-6 each day.  Scott caught a fiddler crab in a bucket for us to observe for several days; he also caught a large grasshopper.  Scott brought a huge pirate kite; Sylvan liked that a lot.  She enjoyed the pool, where she bounced in her Elmo float ring and Auntie’s purple noodle.  She’d seen us squirt each other by submerging the noodle and then blowing the water out of the core hole.  She was able to do this (her preemie lungs are things of the past, obviously), although her gush of water wasn’t quite a big spout.  We hid Curious George (her sleeping buddy) and said hot/cold to guide her to him; she hid George under Nancy’s T-shirt (while Nancy was wearing it, of course), which was the funniest place Gram had to seek George out.

On Tues Nancy and Scott flew home, leaving Auntie and Gram to have all the Sylvan fun.  The routine had been established:  breakfast and quiet play with Gram from 6 AM until Auntie got up; more play and perhaps shopping; lunch out and nap; beach and pool; baths and dinner out; play and bedtime at 8 PM.

Sylvan didn’t venture much beyond sitting at the edge of the surf in Gram’s lap.  We’d spoon sand over our feet, which were washed clean by the next wave.  That was enough ocean for her.  Perhaps next year we’ll get her a little farther in.  Her favorite pool activity was jumping off the edge into Auntie’s arms.  Throughout the week she requested hugs when she “needed” them; she needed quite a few hugs, which we were happy to give.

At 3:30 AM on Sat, Auntie and Gram arose to finish packing the car, and we said goodbye to the ocean.  Sylvan slept a good bit during the 8 hr car trip home and was a good traveler.  Auntie and Gram got tired of singing “B-I N-G-O,” but if we sang anything else Sylvan told us it was the wrong song, she wanted the other one.  We were home by Noonish, and Sylvan was demonstrably glad to see her Mom and Dad.


We have been very busy and haven’t updated in a couple of weeks. Sorry about that.  Sylvan is about to go on vacation with her gram, auntie and Nancy and Scottie.  Steve and I will stay here and enjoy a week-long celebration of our anniversary.  We are looking forward to seeing a few movies, going to dinner and all of that.  Sylvan has been very amusing lately, telling us when she is excited, tired, or happy.  She continues to sit on the potty sometimes, but still no results.  One day she peed in the hall, then got on the potty, then peed in the hall again after she got off the potty.  She is still a very busy girl and runs at breakneck speed around our house, keeping track of where her parents are.  If she loses track of one of us, she yells “DADDY!” or “MOMMY!” or sometimes she yells “DADDYMOMMY” as though we are one unit.  She also will hold her arms in an “I don’t know” shrug and say “Where Daddy go?”  or “Daddy!  Where are YOU?”  We live in a pretty small apartment, so I am always surprised that she often can’t find one of us.  I guess life is a big game of “Seek” for her at this age.  If you read the news a few weeks ago, you’d know that she isn’t very good at hiding.  

Her favorite books are “Fourteen Bears Summer and Winter” “Angelina Ballerina” “Click Clack Moo” and her Maisy Fire Truck book.  She has finally started singing full songs by herself.  Most often we hear Baa Baa Black Sheep but now she also sings the ABC song.  She did this recently while in her “sneaking” posture that Steve taught her, so we call that the Sneaky ABCs.  

Sylvan is going to the beach on 8/6 with Gram, Auntie and Nancy and Scott, so stay tuned for pictures of that wild week with out mom and dad.  I hope to get some pictures from them to post on the site when they get home.


We had a great time at the Hoeglund Family Reunion, celebrating Steve’s Grandma’s 95th Birthday in Dallas, TX.  We stayed a couple of extra days, which made it more like a real vacation.  We got to meet two new babies in the family, and everyone was amazed at the changes in Katie and Connor since the last reunion 5 years ago.  This was also Sylvan’s debut to much of the family, and I think she had a great time.  Her favorite person of everyone there was definitely her big brother Connor, who is great with young kids.  You will see pictures of Sylvan “sneaking up” on Connor, while he hides, and of her sitting next to him, which was also a big treat.  Connor spent most of his time in the pool, which also delighted Sylvan.  She shares his love of being in the pool and she loved watching him jump in and roughhouse with Steve in the water.  Katie and Connor are now both considerably taller than Sacha and they are still a lot of fun to be with.  More on this in the photo gallery section. 

Since I last wrote, Steve has received unofficial notification of a job offer that will be coming from National Defense University, so we are very pleased about that.  We are going to start looking at houses around here, so wish us luck.  We will be needing it with the sellers market around here.  

Sylvan is deeply entrenched in the “MINE!” phase, where she asks if everything belongs to her, even if she knows that it doesn’t.  Sometimes we don’t argue with her, but other times we have to explain that it belongs to someone else.  This doesn’t seem to keep her from sharing things, although she does get upset when something that was in her hand is then given to someone else.  Then she suddenly wants it back. 

She is also starting to repeat things that we say, so we are trying to more careful with the bad words around her.  Steve has heard her repeating “dammit” at least once when she dropped something.  Still no real interest in potty training, but we still talk about it and sit her on the potty when she asks.  It’s been really hot here and very humid – not good for playing outside.  I think the daycare has put the kids out in their diapers and hosed them down a few times this week, but I’m sure it’s too hot to stay out for very long.  


Hard to believe, but Sylvan has gotten even more possessive than she was last week.  No matter what it might be, she wants to know if it’s hers or not by asking “Mine? Mine? Mine?” over and over and over again.  She pretty much keeps asking until you tell her that it’s hers.  If I had a dime for each time she has asked if the new playground slide is hers…especially when there are other kids using the play structure. 

Steve taught Sylvan how to sneak.  They hold their hands up near their mouths with their fingers pointing outward and tiptoe around the house together.  Sylvan hasn’t really caught on to the tip toeing part so far and sometimes she talks loudly while they are sneaking.  She also now enjoys tickling Mommy and Daddy.  She announces that she is going to Tickle Mommy and then runs to the other side of the living room while Steve and I are on the couch.  The she *used to* wait for us to say “Ready?  Go!” and then ran to couch and to tickle her intended victim – generally on the knee or some other not-so-ticklish area.  Now she’s playing both roles in the game and she says “I want to tickle Mommy” then takes off across the room.  Then she says “Are you ready, GO”  all by herself.  We just sit there and laugh when we are tickled, and then she does it again.  She continues to show excellent coordination and balance. She can now do flamingo legs without holding on to anything.  

And speaking of talking loudly, it seems that someone turned up the volume on Sylvan recently.  She yells more and talks too loud more often than I would like.  I have had to talk to her about indoor and outdoor voices several times in restaurants but I don’t know if she understands or not. 

Check out the pictures this week from July 4 weekend.  


Sylvan is now asking a million questions about what is hers and what belongs to other people.  She mostly says everything is hers and waits for us to correct her.  It’s kind of a game and kind of learning I guess.  She also pats her chest when she says “My shoes” or whatever the object of choice is.  She also talks a lot about Mommy’s car, Daddy’s truck and Auntie’s car.  Baby ballerinas has started up again – this is Sylvan’s third time in this class and she has a great time.  

There are lots of changes going on in our lives here.  Jenny has taken a new job and is moving pretty far out so she can be close to her new office and buy a townhouse.  I have been offered another promotion at work since both our sales person and show director are moving on to new positions elsewhere.  Steve is going to a second interview for a job he wants that is located downtown, and my office is moving in April out towards the airport.  

Next weekend is the family reunion for Steve’s mom’s side of the family, celebrating his grandmother’s 95th birthday.  We are looking forward to seeing the kids, Suzanne, and all the cousins, aunts and uncles.    


We had a busy couple of weeks.  We went to my hometown for a long weekend, but Sylvan got sick and we ended up coming back early.  She had some sort of virus with a fever, congestion, cough and major grumpiness.  Fortunately Dad and Mom both got to see her, although briefly and not in her normal charming mood.  Steve and I painted one of the bedrooms in Mom’s house before we returned home, so all was not lost.  We spent the rest of the weekend at home.  It was over 90 degrees here, so we stayed in the air conditioned house and recovered.  Sylvan did play on the porch with water to cool off but we stayed away from the pool.  

Sylvan does like the pool now, and it’s more fun now that she can walk around in the baby pool.  More than the pool, Sylvan loves her “baby soup”  -- which is what she says for “bathing suit.”  She wants to wear it all the time, and is very excited each time she puts it on.  Her talking has made big progress in the past week. She is using longer sentences, asking more questions, and her words are getting more clear – at least in my opinion. 

Today we went for a walk around the courtyard to check out the new playground equipment that is being installed near our house.  Sylvan tripped and skinned her knee.  I didn’t notice it right away, but she said “boo-boo knee” and I found the blood after that.  It was a minor scrape, but it was her first need for bactine and bandaids, and the first time that she communicated exactly what was hurt, so it seemed like a milestone to me.   


Sylvan had a good 2 year check up.  She is average on pretty much everything, weighs 23 lbs 10 oz – which I can tell when I pick her up.  She’s definitely all girl now, no baby left in her anymore.  Still no interest in potty training, but we talk about it and try sitting on the potty now and then.  

Steve got his truck back from the shop on Wednesday – it had been waiting for a new rim for a month, so he is happy to have it back.  He has found that Sylvan loves to sit in the front seat and play in there while the car is parked – Steve was putting the permanent tags on it while she played.  She also likes him to start the truck up and rev the engine.  Then she says “Daddy’s Monster – Again?” because it sounds like a big monster growling.  She got to play in the truck again yesterday while he unloaded all the boxes of stuff that were in the back of it.  

Since summer is here, I painted Sylvan’s toenails bright red while she ate dinner in her highchair one evening.  She likes her red toes and talks about them all the time.  It is a lovely effect with her little dresses and purple sandals.  

Sylvan and Steve have been doing more bonding and have now created some of their own fun games.  Sylvan loves to sit up on Steve’s shoulders and he tries to walk under low-hanging tree branches while they both pretend to be scared and say “Oh no – TREE!” while the branches brush over Sylvan’s head.  He also does Airplanes with her up on his feet, which she LOVES.  She has to kiss him after each one before he will do it again.  

Sylvan got lots of nice birthday presents, to include a new book called “Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type.”  I thought this was a strange title and the story possibly a bit beyond Sylvan’s comprehension level, but the story is hilarious.  Sylvan caught right on to the “click clack moo” phrase that is repeated many times, as well as other exclamations such as “No Eggs! No Milk! No way!” when the cows and chickens go on strike as part of the story.   I highly recommend it. 

In other family news, Katie is traveling by herself to Vienna, Austria today, to spend a month with Steve’s sister Suzanne.  We will see her when she gets back and can’t wait to hear about her adventures.  =


This has been a fun week!  Sylvan has entertained us by singing “Happy Birthday” (which is hysterical when she raises her voice to sing the “Birthday” part), and the “Clean Up” Song.  She also got this great build-your-own puppet set from Grandad Carey, which she loves.  For some reason, she mostly likes the monsters to be “naked” and rips off the eyes, nose, ears and hair that I like to put on my green monster.  She always gets the purple monster and she insists that the monsters sing the Clean Up Song, even when we are not cleaning anything up.  This is part of the game, apparently.  

Sylvan is doing longer and longer monologues, but we still can’t understand all of it.  She came home the other day with a scratch on her nose, so we asked her about it.  She told me and Daddy a long story about it, and all we got was that it involved Adi and a ball at school.  We asked if Adi kicked the ball or if she fell on the ball.  She got very exasperated with us each time we outlined a new scenario and repeated the story to us each time.  Sylvan has also counted all the way to 13 without any help.  She did this for Daddy and for Gram, but not for me.  I guess it’s a secret.   

The County has been putting a new sewer line or drainage pipe in front of Sylvan’s daycare.  They have chopped down all the lovely trees that lined the property and have used all kinds of trucks and digging equipment to complete the project.  Sylvan stops in the driveway when we arrive each day to look at the bulldozers and trucks.  She was lucky enough to get a bulldozer toy for her birthday, but it’s remote control and so far she has been scared of it.  

She also likes to point out the letter A whenever she sees it.  This week she had some confusion between A and the number 4, which is understandable, so we have been working on that.  She always wants to know if it is “our turn” in the car (meaning that the light is green and it’s our turn to go).  I am trying to explain about red lights and green lights, but so far I don’t think she has even seen the lights I’m pointing at.  For some time now, we have been yelling “our turn” when the light changes and it’s time to go.  Apparently she does this simply based on the fact that the car moves.  Good thing I am the one doing the driving. 


This week Sylvan stayed home sick one day with Daddy, and we got some nice new furniture for our apartment.  Steve has always been our decorator, and he deemed the apartment in need of some better organization, so he’s gone to work this week improving our living room.  I agree that it is a big improvement.  Steve and I went to a Washington National’s game with some friends.  It rained and we had to leave early, but it was fun just the same, and the Nats won.  Sylvan has figured out all of the major colors now – red, blue, green, yellow, pink and purple.  She is also learning more and more animal names.  She has stated saying “Yes” instead of “Yeah” sometimes – it’s very cute.  She also says “See ya” in addition to “Bye Bye.”   We figured out that something she says that sounds like “car keys” is actually “excuse me”.  Sylvan and I learned all about dry ice this week.  I learned that you are not supposed to touch it without protection.  Oops.  We’ve had a cold snap here but I think that is over and some warmer weather is on the way.  The trees are dropping their helicopters now, and Sylvan enjoyed throwing them off of Auntie’s balcony this week and watching them flutter down.  Stay tuned next week for birthday party pictures (we’re celebrating a week early).  


We have had summer and winter weather in the past two weeks.  Sylvan is addicted to playing outside and we have found that the cold and rain do not seem to dissuade, although she does enjoy the sun and warm weather too.  She has some pink plastic sandals that she likes to wear, and they are perfect for playing with her cups and water on the patio.  Gram came for a visit, and Daddy finished his round the world and cross-country trek back to us.  We are getting adjusted to being a family again, and enjoying our time together.  

Sylvan’s speech continues to develop.  She now knows how to link nouns together with ‘and’ and she says “too” such as “Mommy here…Daddy here too” or  “Auntie car and Mommy car too.”  On the way to daycare every morning she names all of her friends and caregivers that she is preparing to greet when she gets there, “Papa and Neh and Baby and Girl and Adi and Aidan and Shira.”  I keep telling her that “Baby” is actually “Madison” and “Girl” is “Claudia” but she doesn’t seem to pay me any mind about that. 

She has grown to love bath time.  These days she runs back to her room, gets towels and a washcloth out of the drawer herself and meets me in the bathroom to watch the water run.  She can’t wait to get out of her clothes and into the water.  This is a big change, and I enjoy it also. 

Sylvan is also very into doing things herself without help.  She climbs some stairs without holding onto anything and she has gotten bold enough to pet our neighbor, Molly the Cat, all by herself (when Molly stands there long enough to let her).    She spends a lot of her outdoor time chasing Molly around the courtyard and blowing Molly’s cover when she’s hunting squirrels and birds.  


Getting dressed continues to be a source of conflict, but she isn’t so stubborn about it that I can’t get her clothes on.  We had gorgeous weather this weekend and we spent pretty much all waking hours outside.  Sylvan loves to ride around on her scooter and she is intensely jealous of the little car one of our neighbors has for their kids.  Two Indian families with kids around 3 or 4 moved into our neighborhood and Sylvan is very interested in being their friend – they are the owners of the car and other fun looking toys.  They don’t seem so interested in playing with her.  On our playdate over the weekend, Sylvan wanted to run with the big kids rather than play with the other kid her own age.  She left me in the dust, chasing after the big kids to play their games.  They were pretty tolerant of her I must say. 

We are down to about a week until Steve gets home.  Sylvan is in a good phase now, for the most part.  Even when she asserts herself it doesn’t exasperate me too much, because at least she does respond to reason now (some of the time, at least).  That is much better than when she couldn’t communicate at all.  She has grown a ton lately and I have had to shuffle new clothes in and old clothes out at least twice in the past couple of months.  She is finally wearing clothes that are the size for her age.  I think she is still on the small side, but she’s not tiny.   

She has also gotten to love baths and has fun in the tub now.  She got a watering can in her Easter basket that she loves to pour on herself and her toys.  The hair rinse is still traumatic at first, but she’s getting better at trusting that I am not going to drown her when she leans back to rinse.  

We continue to work on socializing her with animals.  She is intensely fascinated with cats and dogs, but then terrified when they are live up close to her.  She’s doing a lot better with cats because she’s spent time with Nancy and Scott’s cats, Abby and Sunny.  Our playdate host has two springer spaniels and Sylvan scared the crap out of them because she SCREAMED every time they went near her.  By the end of the night she was getting used to them more, but still did not want to pet them.


Sylvan has really developed those 2 year old characteristics over the past couple of weeks.  Everything has suddenly become a negotiation, from what she will or will NOT wear, to whether she needs a new diaper, to when she will go to bed, to how much breakfast she will eat.  Lucky for me, I have been around the block a few times more than she has, so I have managed to mostly get her to comply using my 33 years of negotiating experience.  I am looking forward, however, to the pending return of Captain Carey to the household, because I know he’s got new and different tricks up his sleeve than I do.   Elmo has proven to be my best bargaining tool, as in “If you don’t eat your breakfast, then you cannot watch Elmo.”  That gets her bowl clean every morning. 

She is talking more and more and starting to put more words together to express herself.  She still stamps her feet when she is mad or frustrated, but I always remind her to use her words.  She still says things that I don’t understand, but it is getting better.  She also finally decided on what to call Aunt Nancy – she calls her “Auntie’s Mommy” and Uncle Scott is called “Scotty.”  We were all impressed that Sylvan understands that Aunt Nancy is Jenny’s Mommy, though she also does demonstrate this at daycare with the other kids’ parents – “Baby Mommy” and “Aidan Mommy” etc.  I’m not sure if she knows that Scotty is Auntie’s Daddy.  

Easter was a lot of fun, as you will see in the photos this week.  I did not get good pictures of her discovering the Easter Basket because I didn’t really plan ahead the night before.  Oh well. She liked the pair of shoes he left for her the best, but she also liked the little pig that came from my old Easter basket and the stickers.  She didn’t get any chocolate, the deprived child.

I’m thinking she will probably need to move out of the crib into a toddler bed around her 2nd birthday.  I can’t get over how big she has gotten in the past few months.  I remember the little bean she was when we first moved her from the bassinet to the crib.  It seemed so expansive then. 


These are the pictures we have all been waiting for!  Steve arrived at Ft. Lewis on 3/10 in the wee hours of the morning.  The welcome ceremony was at 9 AM at Soldier’s Field House.  There were a few hundred people there, but it was a pretty small crowd.  I was expecting more people.  Everyone had decorated their cars with flags, balloons, ribbons and signs.  There were more signs, balloons, ribbons and flags inside as well.  I found my friend Kristin and her son Aidan in the crowd.  Aidan had a big orange sign with a drawing of himself on it that said “MAJOR DADDY I’M OVER HERE!”  I am sure Kevin had no trouble locating him.  Sylvan and Aidan and many other kids were climbing up and down on the bleachers.  I chatted with one other wife that I knew.  Sylvan ran around until the band started playing, and then we found seats and bounced along to the music.  The guys marched in – about 200 in all, wearing the desert camo uniforns that they have lived in for the past year.  Everyone cheered, which scared the heck out of Sylvan.  The Brigadier General made some short remarks.  I scanned the faces to find Steve but couldn’t locate him.  I searched and searched.  Finally, at the very end, right before they were dismissed, I realized that he was the one standing in front of the whole group, giving all the commands!  I have no idea why I didn’t see him earlier.  As it turned out, the group there was all of HHC, for which Steve is the Commanding Officer.  

After the guys were allowed to go, Sylvan and I made our way down the bleachers to meet Steve.  I was pretty surprised that none of the kids in the audience rushed onto the floor before the ceremony was over, but they were all well behaved.  We all had a big hug and Steve took Sylvan.  You can see from the pictures that Sylvan pretty much melted into Steve. Their hug lasted about 15 minutes.  She was going through some emotions that I could see while they cuddled.  It was very sweet.  Kristin took some pictures of the three of us before we all took off.  We picked up Steve’s bags in the barracks and then headed for Seattle.  We stayed downtown at a hotel for the five days that Steve had off.  Mostly we enjoyed family time, but we did see a few friends.  You can see photos of Sylvan with her PEPs friends and a lot of her and Steve playing.  Big thanks to Molly and Matt for putting me and Sylvan up and doing some evening babysitting!  


Sacha went away for five days for a business meeting, and Sylvan stayed at home with Auntie Jenny.  Photos this week were taken by Auntie on their adventures together.  Sylvan got purple heart-shaped sunglasses in a happy meal and insisted on wearing them EVERYWHERE, as you will see.  Sylvan went to daycare as usual on Wed and Thursday, but stayed home with Auntie on Friday to play.  Dance class on Saturday featured the purple tutus again, and Sylvan spent a lot of time on the trampoline.  They had a substitute teacher again but Sylvan was not so shy this time.  

Stay tuned next week for photos of our reunion with Daddy in Seattle! 


Sylvan had fun in the snow we’ve had here and went sledding for the first time. I think I had more fun than she did, but it was a blast for me. She is still rather suspicious of the snow.  Ballerina class continues and she is getting more and more participatory.  She is still very shy with the other kids when they try to partner up with her, but we are working on that.  

Daycare is going well. There are only about three kids there these days, so she gets lots of individual attention.  She has been growing a lot lately and is starting to max out her 12-18 month clothes.  She’s still small for her age, but has grown quite a bit recently.  I think she eats a pretty wide variety of foods for someone her age, including quite a lot of ethnic foods.  She loves Thai, Chinese, Indian, and pizza.  Pretty much everything is delicious if it’s on mom’s plate.  

She has started brushing her teeth every day, and learned how to climb onto the couch without help.  She loves to dance in front of the mirror and admire her moves.  I took some short movies of this and will try to get those up sometime.  She also loves to jump on the bed and in her crib.

Steve has reached the first stopover on his trip home. We are all glad he will be home soon.  Sylvan and I going out to meet up with him next week for a few days when he gets to the US.  Can’t wait!! 


The big news here is that Steve should be leaving soon and heading back to the US.  We can’t wait.  Sylvan has some new teeth coming in that have been bothering her.  We spent the weekend looking at possible retirement destinations around the suburbs here for my mom.  She has a while yet to look but figured she has to start somewhere.  Nothing seems perfect so far.  Work for me has been really too much lately.  I have two overseas meetings in March and have spent a lot of extra hours at the office, which Jenny and Nancy and Scott have helped with by staying with Sylvan.  Other than that, just the usual stuff.  Sylvan loved her valentine cards and still plays with them at the table.  We had a fun Valentines Day hanging out at Pam’s with her son so she could enjoy dinner with her sweetie.  Cole really knows how to play in the tub.  


Sylvan helped celebrate my birthday and even wore a tiara for part of the party (a family tradition).  She is participating more in her Baby Ballerina class now that she’s been to three sessions.  Jenny signed her up for another semester after this one ends, since now she’s gotten the hang of it.  I have been looking for kids programs at the library and other local places, but so far most of these things are during the week while I am at work.  

Her long term memory has been very impressive.  She points to Miles’ picture on the frige nearly every day (see photo of this) and says “MILES.”  She also talks about Ashton and Aidan, who are also pictured on the refrigerator.  These are Seattle friends who we saw on our trip two weeks ago.  I am amazed that she remembers them so well. 

We attended a Superbowl party at Pam’s on Sunday and Sylvan slipped on the hardwood floor and fell on her face.  She busted open her lip pretty good and gave me a scare, but it seems to be healing pretty well. 

Sylvan has also learned several of the songs on her favorite Wiggles DVD.  She does all of the motions and sings along.  It’s fun.  Ring around the rosie is also a fun game to her.  She says the “ashes ashes” part of the song, and sometimes adds “fall down” at the end.  She doesn’t even mind just playing it with her old ma. 


We had a great trip to Seattle and Portland for a trade show and extra days for visiting.  Cousin Jenny came along to be the Nanny while I worked the trade show.  We visited with lots of friends, and I got to eat some good sushi, dim sum, great coffee, and lots of other Pacific Northwest goodies.  Our friends Akane and Alex even had a party for us so we could see as many people as possible.  It was a great turnout and tons of fun.  Our Parent/Baby Group got together a few times while we were there, so Sylvan and I got to reconnect with those dear friends, large and small.  The kids have all grown and developed their personalities further, and it was fun to see them all playing together.  Thanks to Molly and Matt and Akane and Alex for putting us up in Seattle, and Susan in Portland and her family for feeding us and keeping Sylvan entertained. 


Just when Sylvan got adjusted to being at home, the holiday ended and we went back to the daycare/work schedule.  Sylvan and I both came down with the wretched tummy flue that is going around.  Sylvan was out of commission for one day, but I was down all weekend and only felt completely normal on Day 5 after I got sick.  Jenny took Sylvan for the whole weekend while I was sick, so then of course she got the Bug.  Saturday was the first Baby Ballerina class, and Sylvan was very overwhelmed.  Aunt Nancy and Jenny took her, and Aunt Nancy bought her a lavender glitter leotard with pink tights and pink ballet slippers.  It’s quite a getup, although I haven’t seen her in it yet.  Sylvan was very clingy at the class, which had more kids in it than we expected.  Sylvan was among the youngest and several girls had previous classes with this teacher, so they were already acclimated.  Hopefully next time she will be a little more willing to participate.  We’re off to the West Coast this weekend for a trade show and visiting with our old buddies!


We had a wonderful holiday break and a very nice Christmas, with the exception of Steve not being with us.  He was able to call us on Christmas morning, and he said that he was thinking about going away next year too, since he got a lot more presents this year.  I assured him that it could probably be arranged to have more presents next year if he stays HOME.  They are still on track to return between March 12 and 15, so keep your fingers crossed! 

Sylvan had a wonderful time on Christmas Day.  I was afraid she would get restless, because our family takes turns opening the many gifts we exchange and it frequently takes us 5 or 6 hours to open all of the presents!  Sylvan was very interested in all of the activity, wrappings, new toys and the cats that live at Aunt Nancy’s house, so she was very good all day long.  The baby doll stroller Santa brought her was a huge hit and she spent over an hour doing laps around the house with it.  She also received lots of nice toys and presents, but I’d have to say the other big highlights were the handmade quilt she received from family friends and a pink Cadillac pedal car, from Aunt Nancy and Uncle Scott.  She also got very excited about two new pairs of shoes that Santa brought, one of which lights up when she walks.  Very fun. 

Santa and our family were very good to all of us.  I received lots of nice things too, and it was great to be together and not have to travel anywhere.  My mom was super nice to stay extra days at my house and allow me to SLEEP IN in the mornings and babysit while Jenny and I went to the movies.  My cousin Pam took Sylvan on Dec. 26 so that I could participate in our other family tradition of going shopping at the outlet mall on the day after Christmas.  We buy giftwrap and holiday cards at discounted prices for next year, and my mom and aunts usually pick things up for me and Jenny for our upcoming birthdays. 

The other big thing right now is Sylvan’s new obsession with The Wiggles.  The Wiggles are a singing and dancing group for kids.  They are four regular looking guys from Australia, and they have DVDs and live shows and also a 30 minute show every morning on the Disney Channel.  I was slightly familiar with them because our little friend Sage really likes them.  I knew that they dance and sing and thought that Sylvan might enjoy their Christmas DVD, which I purchased.  Little did I know what I was getting into.  Sylvan LOVES The Wiggles and asks to watch them twice a day EVERY DAY since I bought the DVD.  I have since purchased a second DVD that has non-Christmas songs, just for variety.  I also bought a Barney DVD, but I have discovered that I really can’t stand the children in the Barney show and that I much prefer the Wiggles, as does Sylvan.  She dances along and sometimes sings a little too.  It’s very cute to watch.  Other times she sits on the couch and watches them.  She is completely mesmerized and will actually sit there for upwards of 30 minutes.  I keep watching, trying to figure out what the magic is, or the subliminal hypnosis, but so far I haven’t figured it out.  I have to say I am glad for the downtime and it does give me a couple of minutes to read the paper or get dressed! 


Sylvan and I both had her cold this week, which did make us somewhat cranky.  Her daycare had a holiday party on Friday afternoon, which we both attended.  It was nice to meet some of the other parents.  Most of them I had met in the driveway at various times, but hadn’t really talked to beyond the usual pleasantries.  The kids all received gifts from Arlene, the part-time helper, as well as from Saneh and Papa, who run the daycare.  The kids were all interested in each other’s gifts, which caused lots of drama and hilarity.  Sylvan received a set of stacking rings, which she opened at the party.  The second gift we waited to open on Saturday.  It turned out to be a small tote bag with two small baby dolls strapped into little pouches on the side.  She isn’t quite able to get the dolls in and out of their pouches, but she LOVES those dolls.  She carried one around most of the weekend, and insisted that I carry the other one.  She gives them nice kisses and hugs, and also pretends that the babies kiss me sometimes.  It’s very sweet indeed.  She says BABY BABY BABY and is eager to take them up when we get back home.  One of her friends at daycare received a small play baby stroller, which Sylvan really liked, so I picked one up today to come from Santa. 


Sylvan is afraid of strangers these days, including Santa.  She does like the holiday decorations around our house and around town.  She fell down and scraped her nose and face this weekend, but no permanent damage done.  My trip to Boston was great, and Sylvan and Jenny had a wonderful time at home while I was gone.  Jenny did get Sylvan enrolled in Baby Ballerinas, which starts in January.  We have been busy getting ready for the holidays.  I am finally done with shopping and have been watching a lot of movies on DVD lately.  Steve has been showered with Christmas packages, to the point that they are overflowing from under his desk – his storage area for his gifts. I would like to thank everyone that has remembered him this holiday season.   

The very best thing ever, is that Sylvan has started giving me kisses.  I know how clichéd it sounds, but I can literally feel my heart melting a little more each time I get one.  It’s the greatest.  I hope everyone gets a holiday gift as nice as that.


I can’t believe she’s a year and a half already – and closing in on the Terrible Twos.  I discovered recently that she can walk backwards really well. I suppose she has been able to for some time, but I just never really saw a demo.  She has started using several toys she’s had for some time in the way they were intended – walking around the house pulling trains and chiming lawnmowers behind her.  It’s pretty cute.  She really loves the red wagon someone gave us.  She likes to ride in it, push it and has started trying to experiment with standing up while I am pulling her.  So far she hasn’t lost any teeth doing that.  She took a nice run downhill in the courtyard and refused to hold my hand.  She fell down in her nice dress and white tights in the muddiest part, of course.  I have pictures to commemorate the occasion.  We celebrated her Uncle Geoff’s birthday this week at a local Mexican restaurant.  Sylvan sat next to Geoff’s dad and helped herself to most of his Spanish rice.  He tried to put some on her plate, but she was not at all interested in that.  It only tasted delicious from his plate.  Fortunately, he was charmed by this behavior and (unfortunately) egged her on.  We spent Thanksgiving in PA with the grandparents.  Stay tuned for more photos of that visit. 


November 15 marks the one year mark since the mobilization of the 81st Brigade.  In some ways it seems longer than that, but in other ways the time has gone by quickly.  Sylvan has certainly grown a lot, especially lately.  She learned a lot of new words last week, and will be officially 1 and a half this weekend.  Her new words include down, NO, shoe, eye, door, pretzel, car, duckie/doggie, meow, and others.  I found out at daycare today that if you say “one, two, buckle my….” Then Sylvan will say “SHOE.”  And then you say “three, four, shut the….” And she will say “DOOR.”  That is a fun game.  She also says “bye-bye” every time she sees an airplane flying in the sky.  I’m not sure how that came about.  I’m trying to work on colors with her now, but so far no dice.  She seems very intent on putting things back where she got them, which is nice for me, but I am quite sure it won’t last.  Dancing and music are still by far her favorite things, but books come in a very close second.  Seems like a good blend of the two sides of her family. 


Sylvan has learned several new words this week:  baby, (ba)nana, cookie, cracker (sounds similar to cookie), and she also said purple, but was repeating me.  She also has successfully located her belly and bellybutton, as you will see in this week’s pictures.  The leaves are at peak here and we played outside a lot this week.  She helped me sweep the leaves off the sidewalk outside of our apartment, and she played in the leaves under a nice red maple tree.  We also went to see some friends in Maryland for a Halloween parade.  You’ll see Sylvan the Leopard and Alexander the Bear watching the parade in Sylvan’s wagon, and Alex’s new baby brother Leonardo snoozed through most of it.  He’s only 8 weeks old, but made a great pumpkin.  One of the TV cameras got some shots of him but I don’t know if they made the news.


Sylvan had a dress rehearsal for Halloween and tried on her costume to make sure it fit.  She looks very cute, but you guys will have to wait until Halloween to see the pictures.  The big news is that Sylvan’s cousin, Julian Franz, was born on 10/11 after a tough delivery.  Sylvan’s Grannie Annie came to visit us for two days on her way to see the new baby. We are finally down to one nursing session – unfortunately it is the 4 AM one.  Once we get back from our Chicago trip I plan to try to finish weaning her.  Sylvan added ‘nana’ (banana), shoes, kitty, and BOO! To her vocabulary in the past two weeks.  We tried to teach her “trick or treat” but settled on Boo instead.  She loves it when I hide around the corner and jump out at her in the house.  She also loves being chased and playing variations on peek-a-boo/hide and seek.   Her fascination with shoes continues to grow – I guess it’s genetic.  Sylvan also had her third salon haircut and is now running all the time.  Books have become one of her favorite things, and she loves to have them read to her over and over and over again.  She points at all of the animals, but hasn’t learned any of their names so far, except maybe cow.  Hard to tell.  Her lift-the-flap books are special favorites. 


Sylvan is playing more on her own, walking around in circles (is that normal?) and pointing a lot. She has developed an interest in cats, particularly the one that lives in the apartment across the courtyard from us.  This cat is a big tease and sits about three steps away from Sylvan.  He moves when she moves.  It’s fun to watch.  We visited Pittsburgh for the weekend and spent time with all of Sylvan’s grandparents on Sacha’s side.  She is getting better and better at eating with a fork and spoon, and has decided that she likes pineapple, waffles and pumpkin pie.  She has started displaying some willfulness and stubbornness that is testing Mom’s patience at times.  But mostly she’s a content kid who shouts with delight when she can’t contain her happiness.


Sylvan loves the newfound independence that has come with learning to walk.  We are spending a lot more time outside now, so she can explore the courtyard outside our house.  There are tons of squirrels that live in the courtyard, and Sylvan loves to watch them (and also is starting to chase them a little too).  The gravel that lines the cement sidewalks is fun to throw and play in.  She got some real shoes this week, and she is very proud of them.  Today she walked all the way from our door to the car, which is quite a distance, without falling even once.  She made a new friend, Evan, who is 17 months and lives near us.  He also just learned to walk, so they showed off for each other this afternoon.