Texas Pete

If you live in the South (or close to NC) and enjoy a good hot sauce, then surely you've met my friend Texas Pete.

I like hot stuff. But, not "burn your mouth and make your nose run" hot for the sake of hot hot. I prefer really flavorful and tasty hot. And that's what Texas Pete gives me. Unlike Tabasco, which tastes like pepper, Texas Pete has a great flavor that I've never encountered in another sauce.

In a pinch, I enjoy Cholula or Lusiana hot sauces. When I lived in Boston, Cholula saved my life because no one carried Texas Pete that far north. I wound up bringing a huge bottle back with me each Christmas to last through Easter.

All of this leads me to my point. And that is my husband hates that I enjoy hot sauce so much. Each and every time I use it, he must comment on it. If I complain about a stomach ache or cramp, he diagnoses the problem as hot sauce overload. Each and every time.

Yes, I eat Texas Pete on everything. It makes things taste better! I like to mix it with my ketchup for dipping fries. It goes in my ranch dressing for dipping cheese sticks or pizza. I like it in soups, pastas, and rice. I can't eat an egg without it. You know I add it to barbecue and burgers to spice them up. And, yes, I sprinkle it over my popcorn. Hello, tasty!

Say what you will, but peppers are good for you so I'm keeping my Pete where he belongs. In my tummy!!!

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It's too soon!

My Bellabee turns 2 on Friday. I'm both blown over by how big she's gotten and shocked by how much she still seems like a baby.

It's hard not to compare the children. Javier was a rough and tumble boy who was already potty training, eating with a fork and spoon at the table, and drinking out of a regular cup at this age. Bella is nowhere near ready for full on training, she almost always throws her tableware in preference for her fingers, and can't grasp that you must hold the cup all the way against your mouth to drink from it.

But Bella figured out how to unlatch a pitbull's cage last night ... and then locked herself in it and was finger feeding the dog. I almost died when I saw what she'd done, but once she was safe, I just had to chuckle. What other child can accomplish that at 2 years old? She's also talking up a storm and tries out a new word every day.

So I've planned the birthday party and the birthday outfit. Now I must tackle the "after cake" outfit. You know she'll need a wardrobe change (and a bath) after she gets hold of her Elmo cake! I'm torn between these two designs:


Billy and I both love A, but I think B will print and iron on better. I also think it ties in really well with her 1st birthday monkey shirt. Should I ruin a shirt by trying A first or just print out A for her scrapbook and go with B?*

Decisions, decisions! I was worried that Bella didn't really like monkeys after all, but then I was looking at pictures of real monkeys and she lost her mind. She had to sit in my lap and giggle at each one, say hi to it, blow it kisses, and yell "MOHN-KEEEE!" over and over again. So she's a monkey lover after all. Whew!

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Our budding star

Javi did a great job at his school's spring concert!

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Looking for something to give Bella for her birthday? I suggest bracelets or a necklace. She is obsessed with wearing things around her neck and on her wrists.

However, the only thing she has to wear now is her hairbows. And she layers them so tightly, her poor hand loses circulation and I have to hold her down so I can peel them off.

I looked around for a dress up jewelry set but couldn't find one that was cheap enough that I wouldn't mind if she destroyed or lost it. I'll keep looking as her big 0-2 approaches!

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She's only slightly demanding.

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So sleepy

Bella spent a good 10 minutes making Grandma and me laugh this evening doing her fake yawns. She distorts her whole face! It's cute and hilarious. :)

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Wearing green

Billy forgot to set out something green for Javi to wear to school today. Which means that Javi got pinched a couple times.

His response? "I just pinched them back. They pinch me, I pinched them - but harder!"

That's my son!

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Wishing you


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What's on your playlist?

My friend will soon start taking her little one to daycare near her work ... which is about 30 minutes from where we live. This means they'll be in the car for an hour each day getting to and from work/daycare.

I'd like to make a CD for them to rock out to during the drive, but I know there is a lot of great "kids" music out there that we don't know about. For instance, we listen to a lot of Yo Gabba Gabba, They Might Be Giants, and Backyardigans. We also have some Blues Clues and Dora songs.

So, your job is to make some suggestions! But what more should we be listening to?

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Billy has spent the past few weeks working with Bella on her alphabet. Thanks to him, she can recognize several letters ("I" being her favorite) and will yell "ABCs!!!!!!!!!" when she sees letters out in public.

Here the go through her Dora alphabet book. Excuse Billy's big meaty paw!

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Bells in the box

Bella has been sick this week. I finished my deadlines early, so I decided to keep her home and give her 3 full daycare-free days to get better.

After half-heartedly playing with her tox, she convinced me to empty out a box. And then she spent the next hour tearing it up. At least she looked cute as a bug in the process.

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Letter to Bella: month twenty-two

Dear Bella,

I blink and you are another month older. I already know I'll be the home sobbing at her baby girl's high school graduation who wails to everyone around her, "I feel like she was just a baby yesterday!"

But it's the truth. This morning I put a shirt on you that swallowed you up less than six months ago. Today it barely fit over your toddler belly. Of course, you're still a mini-baby. An at-home weigh in clocked you at a health 23 pounds even. We then whipped out Daddy's measuring tape to figure out if you've gotten any taller. Lo and behold - you've grown a full half inch since December.

I'm not sure how you're sprouting because you definitely aren't interested in fuel. We've tried every trick in the book -- including singing Party In My Tummy! like morons -- to convince you to eat. But you won't. Not a bite. I even have to pack your lunch for school because you turn your nose up at everything they offer you unless it comes with a natural wrapper and starts with a "b" and ends with "anana." You're still a fruit junkie, but no gladiator was built on grapes and bananas alone. I'm sure I'll be kicking myself if you turn around tomorrow and start eating me out of house and home ... but at this point I think I'd faint if you consumed a vegetable.

Nutrition aside, you're a much more happy-go-lucky girl than you've ever been before. Last month, if someone came to visit, you'd hide on the stairs or bury your face in someone's shoulder rather than face speaking to the new person. Now, you put on The Bella Show, which might include climbing in their laps, saying their names, bringing them your toys, and/or pulling up their shirts. I've tried to explain to her that people don't want her finger in their belly button, but she's pretty insistent.

I'm not sure when the Stranger Danger fears wore off, but at least three separate people have commented that we should expose you to more people and places. Because you obviously need some human interaction. I try to tell them -- this "stage" is brand new to us too. I like it though. Your personality is one of the things I love most about you and I'm so proud that you've finally started showing it off in mixed company.

I think a major reason you've opened up to new people is your little brain has started making some important connections. For instance, your memory has really blossomed. I can tell you someone's coming to visit and you'll keep looking for her (and yelling her name out the window) for hours. Even if it turns out no one's coming -- you keep yelling. And you have a pretty detailed catalogue of names you'll yell. It started with Ashley (Yash-ee), but it's now turned into Grandma (Gah-ma), Nana (Nah-nah), Angela (An-ge-ah), Brook (booke), and Amy (Mimi 0r Ah-meeee). You'll ask for any of these people at any given time.

This improved memory means you're using more words in general. You repeat everything you hear, and when you're on a roll, you squawk full paragraphs. I can't help but laugh when you repeat bad words, which thankfully has only happened a couple times and none of the words were really bad. Your Daddy is to blame, too! Just the other day he was buckling you into your car seat and said "CRAP!" Ever one to copy, you said "HYAP!" right after him. I'm pretty sure you used your new word no less than 25 times in the next few minutes as we all tried not to laugh.

Yes, sweet pea, you're pretty cute. Sadly, life with you isn't always sunshine and roses. You've developed a spectacular new skill. You can throw a tantrum that would scare the most hardened criminal! Here's how it happens: We tell you no. You immediately start wailing -- tears and all. Your face gets red, you look around for support, and then you collapse under the weight of your horrible life. If no one gives in, you stay this way until something else grabs your attention. If someone does give in (DADDY!), you immediately switch on the smiles and prance your way on to victory.

But what's a toddler without a tantrum? We may complain, but we all love riding this roller coaster with you. Whether it's the high of watching you test out new words to the low of scraping you off the floor in the middle of a store, we can't imagine our lives without you. "Bruddah" can't sleep without hugging you good night, "Da da" spends his free time making you giggle, and Mama is never happier than when you grant her a kiss. One day we'll hope you "act your age," but for now, we hope you stay our baby forever.

Love, Mama

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Javi discusses love and politics

Need to know which of us is correct? Take a wild guess.

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Yet more snow

Supposedly snow is a wonderful delight brought by dancing fairies and magical sprites. But you know what I think? I think snow was dreamed up by some dark overlord who wants to punish the masses with cold, heavy dreariness.

But apparently I'm in the minority. My children stomped around in it this morning before we dropped Bella off at school.

Javi, whose school was cancelled, has no interest in being outside, but has spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out when the rest of the snow will fall so that he can finally build a snow man.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the winter weather more than I am!

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