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Emily is so clever, it just takes my breath away when she makes creative connections. She has a bunch of Fisher Price “Little People” and one of them is a buff-yellow colors dog. It’s a really abstract dog, kind of round everywhere. She calls it “Winnie the Dog.” She makes up her own songs now on a regular basis, and loves making up names for everything.

Looking at ornaments on the Christmas tree: “Emily, what’s the snowman’s name?” “Ukka.” Joe and I cracked up. “Guess he’s Icelandic,” I quipped. She then named the other snowmen Snowey, Blowey and Flowey.

Emily’s best buddy is Bun-Bun. He’s this cuddly stuffed bunny head on a blankie. He’s not really a blanket and he’s not really a stuff toy, he’s both. He goes nearly everywhere with her. Before we leave the house, we always have to ask her, “Is Bun-Bun coming, or does Bun-Bun stay?” Often she’ll say he stays so he doesn’t get lost. Sometimes when we ask her to get ready to go out she says, “No, I don’t want to miss my house.”

In a few days we’re going to mom and dad’s for a week. We made a calendar for the fridge with boxes to mark off the days remaining until the trip. Emily’s primitive notion of time passage is evident when she wakes up from her nap and asks to cross off another day. I have to tell her it’s not airplane day because the airplane isn’t ready yet. This is the only reason for not leaving immediately that seems to get through to her.

Speaking of naps, today is Emily’s first nap in a few days. I put her in her room, read her a story, tuck her under the covers and leave, shutting the door behind me. Invariably, I hear her playing with her toys a little while later. Generally, she finds her way back under the covers and falls asleep. Yesterday and for a couple of days prior, she hadn’t been going back to bed. By the time Joe got home from class yesterday, around 5:30pm, Emily was so cranky and miserable, she was making everyone unhappy. We finally got her to settle in and eat some macaroni and cheese (one of her favorite foods), and her mood quickly improved.

Emily’s doesn’t eat a wide variety of foods….vegetables are right out. Macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, nearly any kind of juice, skim milk, water, plain noodles or pasta, rice, cereal, and sometimes bananas or apples. Basically….starch, some protein.

Matthew is such a happy little guy. I just can’t get over how smiley and friendly he is. Everyone at church is just completely taken with him. We always have plenty of volunteers to hold him while Joe and I go up to sing with the choir. He has two teeth now, and seems a lot happier now that they’re through, but he’s still pretty sniffly.

We all got over some kind of cold/flu thing that laid us low each in turn. The kids just seems to be sniffly and stuffy all the time this winter. I don’t know if they have allergies, or what. It’s driving me crazy and I know it has to be bugging the heck out of them, as well. Maybe they’ll clear up while we’re at mom and dad’s and then I can narrow it down to something in our house. Poor Emily keeps wiping her nose with her hand and the moisture is leaving a big chapped spot on her cheek. And, her thumb-sucking has left her lips and thumb all cracked from the constant wetness. I salve her with Vaseline whenever I can, but she’s pretty indignant about being smeared with goop.

Matthew is slowly becoming more mobile. It seems like weeks and weeks that he’s been able to get on his hands and knees and rock, but he’s still not crawling. Through a bizarre combination of creeping, rolling and throwing himself around, he manages to get around the floor fairly well, albeit rather slowly. It’s frustrating him, and he’s very vocal about his aggravation with the whole thing.

Joe is back at work now. It was so wonderful to have him home and around so much across the holidays. Not only did we get to spend a goodly amount of time together, but he took care of the kids a lot and gave me some nice breaks. He’s really such a great guy. He works a jillion hours teaching the maximum number of credits allowed. And then when he’s home, he does most of the baby food feedings, and tucks Emily in every night. He does a lot of the dishes and takes care of other housey stuff like taking out the trash and repairs. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I look at what Theresa is going through with the divorce and all, and I just thank God that I wound up with such a wonderful, caring, generous man. He’d do anything in his power to make me happy, and would give the kids everything they could ever need. I’ve felt bad about him fending for himself, food-wise while I’m gone, and have made a point of fixing all his favorites during the last week or so. I made an awesome (if I do say so myself!) lasagna on Sunday, and last night we had chicken-fried steak with stuffing and green bean casserole. A week or so ago, I made barbecued country-style ribs.

I just got a cool new scrapbooking book. I really enjoy scrapbooking and mean to spend regularly-scheduled allotments of time working on my scrapbook. Joe has a couple of night classes this next semester, so it should work out ideally. I want to plow through all the wedding pictures I have so I can move on to the kids’ scrapbooks. Then I can backtrack for a change of pace and do my Scotland pictures and our own wedding pictures. Those will be immense projects. I feel like buying new scrapbooking gadgets and embellishments all the time…I don’t have any punches yet, and that die-cutting machine ($99…ouch!) would be SO cool. I plan to use more stickers in the future, as well.

Joe is applying for a job up in Williamsport at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. I am trying not to put too much pressure on him about it, or to get my hopes up too much, but it seems like it would be such a positive move. I’d really love to live closer to my folks. And, I know Joe feels somewhat inadequate about never having earned his PhD. Penn College would pay 75% of his graduate tuition at Penn State, which would be so awesome. And….it’s in the mountains. That means gorgeous scenery, interesting drives, and SNOW. And….fewer bugs and decidedly less sand than New Jersey.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a growing number of reasons why leaving here would be heart-wrenching. This is Joe’s first “real” job, and he’s quickly gaining the respect of his colleagues. He is happy here at Cumberland County College, I know that. (but for how long? He’ll quickly become a big fish in a very small pond) And, our neighbors, Seth and Margie, are quickly becoming our close friends. Seth and Joe really are developing a bond, and Emily and their girls, Samantha (Sammy) and Evie, play together really well. We’ve also finally found a church home. First United Methodist of Millville is a great congregation. We’re active in the choir and really getting to know people. We’re also becoming friends with Pastor Steve, Chris and their kids, Josh, Amanda, and Emily’s friend Victoria.

And, boy oh boy, I am not looking forward to packing and moving…and what if Joe’s fears prove valid? What if we really can’t afford another house right now? I fully intend to apply for a job, if he gets this one. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it, but I’ll work long enough to satisfy the mortgage company. It stinks that they can’t count his overtime credits, but it makes sense.

I’m peeved that our Internet connection is all fouled up at the moment. We have a cable modem and it’s super-duper fast…but something’s wrong today. It’s running slower than a 56K modem. I could barely retrieve my email. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m an online Community Leader. I help lead the June 01 Playgroup on ParentsPlace.com. I love these women, especially the ones I’ve had the privilege to meet in real-life. And, it really does take a little bit of shine out of my day to be unable to communicate with them on the board.

New Year’s Resolutions….

spend less to help facilitate paying off debt (#1 Citibank M/C--$2000, #2 Discover--$6500, #3 Heidi’s Student Loan--$6500, #4 Joe’s PLATO Loan--$5000, #5 Consolidation Loan--$9000 TOTAL: $29,000)

get comfortably into size 12 jeans

get connected with local theatre

sigh Steady on course. Steady on course. Dear God, give me strength of will to do what must be done. Give Joe the patience to forgive my lapses. Amen.

Well, I think I hear Matthew waking up. –END—