28 October 2012

Zoe vs. the Polar Bears

This past weekend was Zoo Boo, a great excuse to get wee Zoe Mae into a recycled ladybug costume and take her out a frolicking.  Just how good is the Pittsburgh Zoo?  They have an aquarium where they keep scuba divers...  Perhaps you'd thought that divers were people too; nope, they're animals at the zoo.  Look: this one carves pumpkins!

Needless to say, all the excitement tuckered the Zoster right out, so we high-tailed it back to the homestead for a power nap. Once rested, the wee lass perched on our newly refurbished staircase and put on her full expedition gear. Wildlife be forewarned; this Zoe is coming to a neighborhood near you, and she won't be deterred by a little snurricane frankenstorm!

Now, where are those polar bears hiding?

21 August 2012

This is a Quiz, This is Only a NSFW Quiz.

What is this "goodnight" of which you speak?
1) Tonight at bedtime, wee Zoe Mae:
          A) Quietly sang herself to sleep.
          B) Had a psycho dance party.
          C) Threw her blankets out of the bed.
          D) Took off her pajamas and threw them on the floor.
          E) Took off her diaper.
          F) Peed all over the bed.
          G) B, and then C, and then D and E and F.

2) Upon hearing the tell-tale cries of "my diaper, my diaper!" parental unit #2 responded and decided to:
          A) Reinstall the diaper as before.
          B) Ask the perp to refrain from repeating the offense.
          C) Reinstall the diaper with a onesie to thwart removal.
          D) Duct tape the diaper back on.

3) After her relocation back to bed, little Zoooey Mae Wosthello (as she calls herself) went on to:
          A) Quietly sing herself to sleep.
          B) Remove the diaper again.
          C) Jump directly out of the crib, for the first time ever.
          D) Write an entire chapter of papa's dissertation.

4) This means that the time has come for mama and papa to:
          A) Buy a bigger crib.
          B) Set up the toddler bed.
          C) Have a drink.
          D) Pray.

BONUS QUESTION:  Wee Zoe Mae is currently:
          A) Working on undoing the onesie/duct tape.
          B) Sound asleep, having learned her lesson.
          C) Airborne, having just climbed out of the crib.
          D) Singing herself quietly to bed.

Thank you for taking the caraandtommyand quiz experience.  Feel free to share your answers in the comments below, and we'll give a fantastic prize to whomever gets gets the most answers correct, without going over.  Aww, heck - we're feeling generous - everyone gets the prize:
It's a brand new CAR!  No - book, BOOK!  A Brand New (couple year-old) Book! Read by a celebrity!

WARNING: The above video contains hilarious adult content. If you are: under 18; 
easily offended; or located in a very small cubicle; please do not click play above.
We hereby disclaim any and all responsibility for your delinquency, hurt feelings, 
premature firing, or potty mouth. Neither this video nor the words therein are new,
rather they explore the timeless struggle between parents, toddlers, and bedtime.

19 August 2012

Northerly Dreaming

I'm sorry the swimming hole is so crowded. And deep.
Once upon a time there was a mighty river, way up north.  It was peacefully shared by two little countries, with sand and rocks and greenery aplenty.  The water was clean and the air, splendid.

On this river is a storied island called Maple.  It is a private and wondrous place, peopled only by the friendliest spirits who can all swim curiously well.

Zoe's first actual leap into the River? Perhaps?
Maple has a little raft from which little girls can jump into the loving arms of their mothers.  The island is guarded by a gigantic happy turtle, who is always nearby to lend a helping flipper to wayward youths.

The inhabitants of this river often chase sunsets on boats piloted by canine navigators whose intrepid sense of direction can evade even the most shark-like shoals. It's a delicate dance; the shoal-avoiding dogs chauffeuring the locals who prefer shoal-finders.

There are also brilliant ladies dancing aboard the classiest of crafts.  Hacking through the water with a modicum of care, the belles tempt even the phoniest of cameras.

Ce n'est pas un choit.
Amidst toddling children, drunk on fresh summer air, even the puppies resort to deception and camouflage to secure a moment's rest.  Who can blame them when the veins of their petters are pulsing with swedish fish?

Etslay ogay!
Even the cars are magical. All of them are convertibles with secure spots for libations, and they average over 100mpg.  Airbags, like crashes, are virtually unknown in this place; instead, safety exists in brightly-colored life jackets and verdant muumuus.

Zoe Mae's first car-nap in over a year... Finally!
Or perhaps it was all just a dream... The idle minds of creative toddlers tempt us from our cities.

14 August 2012

And She's Renovating the Stairway to... Upstairs.

Zoe rides on Papa's handlebars.
Baby rides on Zoe's handlebars. 
Wee Zoe Mae has had a busy summer...  After lots of visits everyplace and a new/used motorcycle of her own, she decided it was high time to hunker down and class the old homestead up a bit by tidying up the grand stairway of the Costownhousello.  She's a quick worker, so here's the before/after shots:

Can you guess which one came first?
Originally the risers were painted white, and - wait - strike that. Originally the risers were stained a dark walnut, with a clear lacquer. They were then painted an orangey-peach, and then painted yellow, and then painted minty-shamrock-shake-green, and then painted white, and then painted off-white, and then painted white again.  Yeah.

When we bought the house, the stairs looked as you see at left.  With a little bit (okay, a lot) of elbow grease, we removed all the paint and lacquer and got down to the wonderful original wood. Then a few coats of Minwax satin poly brightened things up and let that grain sing.

I know which one I'd prefer to tumble down.
The Zoster wisely decided that the stairs should be carpeted to expedite her climbing adventures. Rocco enthusiastically agreed, as his fluffpaws couldn't get proper purchase on the well-worn hardwood treads, so he had to either slow down or wipe out when hauling down the 15 steps to protect Zoe from the mailman. The carpet helps to brighten up the stairs and quiet things down a bit, while the refreshed risers add contrast, depth, and help to extend the woodgrain spirit that the original heart-of-pine floors provide for the rest of the house.

How snazzy!
All in all, a job well done for the little lass.  And yes nitpickers, we've yet to finish the quarter-round around the bottom stair because we need to order some special bendy moulding that will be able to follow the curve around that bottom baluster step.  Phew, that was tiring!

Zoe invented this bed, and makes it everyday for her babies to sleep on.

07 July 2012

Midsummer Review

Time flies... so they say.  And so does wee Zoe Mae.  Since turning 2, the little tike has had many adventures.  So many in fact, that it's been hard to keep up with her.   Golly jeepers, we have to go all the way back to April!  Here's a brief tour of Zoe's summer thus far.  After her big b-day, Zoe got to celebrate again with Emma.  What do you get when two taurus birthday girls get together?  Have a look!

Zoe Mae, learning the fine art of exclamation upon the opening of presents.

Let's not forget about the rest of the Anderson cousins.  They were quick to show her the ways of country living.  Barbie jeeps and asphalt. Why walk down the driveway when you can drive?

Yo sista's driveway is so long they have parades in it!  Wait, what?
Then there was a trip to the River... but poor wee Zoe Mae fell victim to the worst virus she's experienced in her two years so far.  Some call it the River plague...  All of our pictures from Memorial Day weekend look something like this:

This is how fever-ridden-Zoe insisted upon napping. For hours each day.
Then we were back to chez Anderson for some more celebratory family fun.  A 40th anniversary and Bepa's birthday were the reason for cake this time around...

Nobody's getting any cake until you tell me who blew the candles out. I'm serious.
Back in Pittsburgh, Zoe had her first encounter with a friendly neighborhood alpaca.  After some encounters with goats who thought her necklace would be a tasty treat, the poor lass was a little too overwhelmed to appreciate the fluff on this guy:

Wait a minute... Is Rocco part alpaca?  An Alpacoodle?
Then, Zoe was back in the car for another epic road trip.  This time the destination was New York City!! Or Jersey... close enough.  Zoe had a lot of fun with her Jersey boy, Jack.  Her showed her his pool, and she played it cool.  Mama and Papa even snuck out to see a Broadway show one fine evening.  Not too shabby.

Direct sunlight? Check. Backyard with pool? Check. Driveway? Check. This is why people move out of NYC.
 After a fun filled weekend with Jack, we were on to Neversink.  While we were there, we fed carrots to the horses that live around the corner from Grandma every day. On her last day there,  Zoe even mustered up the courage to give a quick pat to our beloved horse, "Cupcake".

It looks so pastoral and innocent. But the shadows don't lie.
And there was more swimming!  Yippee!

Summer sure has been a blast so far.  Stay tuned for more!

10 May 2012

How Old is Zoe Mae?

Just look at the intensity of her concentration.  Patiently awaiting her cue.  Poised and ready. She's TWO, and she knows it.  She may tantrum and randomly throw herself on the floor at times, but she's earned that right.  Because wee Zoe Mae now knows the birthday song, and she knows that last week it applied specifically to her.

Here's her cue: APPLAUSE!

And she even blows out that candle on the first try. "Birthday Girl" indeed. Nicely done, Zoster, nicely done.

*Okay fine, now that you've seen the video, she may not have technically blown out the candle on the first attempt.  But she gave it the ol' college try, and she nailed it on the second effort.  And by "nailed it" we mean "did an excellent job building up the suspense necessary to internet-video-celebritydom."  See that - poof - it's out.  Success.  And she didn't even set herself on fire.  Happy birthday Zoster.

30 April 2012

Zoster as a Springtime Model

Springtime, and the living is easy... We'd write a crafty story, but wee Zoe Mae's eyes tell you all you need to know this time.

12 April 2012

Growing Up in the Future

Oh hey cousin, is it bedtime there too? I'm not believing this "ni-ni-time" thing one bit.
I often marvel at the technological advances in my lifetime - and in the realm of things, I'm not all that old.  (A fact I often try to explain to both my aching back and the scores of undergrads that seem to get younger by the day.  A few years ago a colleague's acting student defined middle age as: "I dunno... like, 30?")  I understand that every generation feels this way, but as we watch wee Zoe Mae videoconferencing with her cousins, you've got to think, where can it go from here?

Short of holograms and teleportation, it's hard to invision another major paradigm shift in communication in the near future.  Thankfully, there are some classic standards which never get old. Like gravity.  Who doesn't fancy a good swing?

That's right, ever future-motived Zoe Mae isn't soo wee anymore...  She's progressing swimmingly in her conquest of gravity, and has moved on up to the big girl swing.  That isn't so say that gravity hasn't been fighting back:

Fill in the blank: "My smiles keep me out of _______."
On a recent rock collecting mission, the Zoster stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk.  With two handfulls of semi-precious stones at stake, the brave lass held fast to the rocks and took a header into the sidewalk.  This resulted in Zoe's very first road rash! (forehead, tip of nose, and chin)  She took it like a champion - likely because she never got a chance to see the crimson snotty blood pouring out of her nose.  (Cleaned up before this picture to keep things PG-13.)  She then resumed her yard work like a good child.

I do it!  Zooey do it!  Papa, start?

02 April 2012

One of Those Letters...

Dear 16-year-old Zoe Mae,

        The above photo is a wee momento of the awesome time you had this weekend with your buddy Jack.  I've posted it to the blog so everyone can see how much fun you had.  Sincerest apologies if your high school friends stumble upon it...  If it's any consolation, your college friends will find it much cooler.  And you'll totally understand when you're thirty or so.  

PS - It really would be lovely if you'd stop puking on me, mama, and especially Rocco.  Thanks!

29 March 2012

Also, Zoe now has a bike. Victory.

Evening.  Cool, but crisp and clear.  CARA and TOMMY are walking their favorite long walk, snaking through the side streets of Squirrel Hill.  ZOE MAE is in the stroller, and ROCCO is being a dog. There are an unusually large number of people out and about, given the relative cold.  Halfway into the walk, ZOE interrupts:
ZOE MAE: I want a steamboat. I want a steamboat. Zoe steamboat? I want a steamboat.

CARA and TOMMY exchange puzzled looks.  ROCCO doesn't seem to notice.
ZOE MAE: I want a steamboat!  Steamboat?

ALL stop walking.  TOMMY crosses in front of the stroller and bends down:
TOMMY: You want a steamboat?

ZOE MAE: Please?

27 March 2012

Sayonara Big Tree

All things must come to an end.  That's what a huge London Plane tree found out yesterday morning, which we decided to eulogize with a bluegrass crawfish tune:

You see, I wanted to watch them take the tree down, since I'm a curious fellow and it was a massive tree, overhanging houses and growing through power lines.  An interesting task to be sure!  However, I'm buried in work, and dissertations don't write themselves.  So rather than waste a day watching it in real time, I'd just set my phone on the windowsill with the camera rolling, and get back to working on my dissertation.  That way I could just watch the whole shebang distilled down to a few minutes once they were finished...

So here's a time-lapse of the tree's last moments, before becoming mulch.  Unfortunately the best bit of the decommissioning - the removal of the canopy - was lost to a technical glitch.  I've never shot a time-lapse with my phone before (wait - time-lapse with a phone? what is this, the future?), and I made the amateur mistake of attempting to use a free app to do so.  Thus, the amazing pre-lunch activity of an incredibly agile arborist top-roping the tree and leaping from limb to limb with a chainsaw is lost to history.  The post-lunch felling of the main trunk, however, has been immortalized.

For those of you lamenting the loss of such a huge and pretty carbon-sink, she received the death sentence because she crossed the line one too many times.  Her roots had just breached a water main in front of a neighbor's house - a mortal sin in urban treedom.  Thus, after much civic hemming-and-hawing, the city called in some professionals to nix the tree so that the water supply could be repaired.  Fair enough.  Sayonara you gigantic london plane, sayonara.

For those in the iphoney world, the app I used is called "Time Lapse Camera HD" and it cost a whopping 99¢.  I don't generally like paying for apps, but I love time-lapse photography, and this app works on both the phone and pad, and it works as advertised so far.  Net win, even at almost a buck.

09 March 2012

ZOE SLIDE: un mor time [the film]

Well looky here, it's Wee Zoe's first film. Sorta.  Anyway, click this bad larry to full screen, and enjoy.

Our deepest condolences if you get ADHD from watching the rapid cutting, in HD no less.  This is a hilarious, and seriously simple, way to make little movie trailers, courtesy of Apple's iMovie.  The template is all done, you just drop in videos and voila, you're all done.

In other news - notice some new things appearing on the left side of the blog.  As blogger is developing, it's giving us more options, so we're investigating.  So there's a survey at the top, as well as a spot further toward the bottom where you can enter your e-mail address to get notifies anytime we post something.  Tempting, eh?  

It's Papa time!  (clearly)

19 February 2012

Even More Snow Birds!

As Zoe likes to say... MORE!  More snow birds, more beaches, more grandparent-visits!  This time: Myrtle Beach.  Unfortunately we flew down there, so there was no stopping at South of the Border, but the view once we got there sure couldn't be beat.  More breathtaking views from the balconies!

Glancing left from the balcony.
And to the right of the condo...

That's right - this condo too had a great balcony with a view; it was 16 floors above the mighty Atlantic pond.  If you look real close you can just see Western Sahara in the distance.  (* No, you can't. Not even with binoculars.) 

Little did the seagull know, he'd be immortalized on some silly human's blog.
With the beach literally at our doorstep, it was the first, and most frequently visited destination - for good reason.  Zoster developed a real love of seafoam, chasing the bubbles back and forth, back and forth, all the while exclaiming "bubbles!"

Come'ere you bubbles... Run away, run away!
Somehow both Tommy and Cara came down with something akin to food poisoning while travelling down to the Myrtle.  Strange, since we hadn't even eaten the same meals, but golly jeepers, we sure tested the glaze on the porcelain in the condo all morning on our first day there. Thankfully it was only a 24-hour bug, so we were right as rain the next day.

All fun and games until someone gets cold feet!
Even Papa braved the shark-infested waters to help the Zoster chase her beloved bubbles.  However, his gastrointestinal malaise must have slowed his normally sharp reaction times, and a rogue wave caught Zoe Mae by the ankle and left a devastating wash of saline solution on her shins.  She was none too pleased, despite the added buoyancy one finds in saltwater.

Must not let my friends see me having fun with the family.  
As luck would have it, there was a swinging bench nearby, and wee Zoe was able to dry off and bask in the comfort of her mama's warm embrace, all while displaying a decidedly adolescent-level of ambivalence on her little face.  (Rumor has it that she learned the trick from Aunt Amy, who herself had pioneered the look in Hawaii so many years ago.)  Either way, Grandpa and Mama weren't buying it, and they laughed it up.  Good times, great oldies.

Three generations of Haagillipselloes chatting in the afternoon sun.
Now Grandma, of course, knows the way straight to the Zoster's heart, so there was no fooling her.  Back up at the condo we conspired for an even more fun outing... the pool!  Zoe had walked by it a few times, exclaiming "wawa!" but little did she know that this wawa was for basking in! 

Well, you've gotta learn how to dive some time...
It begins with a jump in the pool - something the Zoster grew to absolutely love.  She'd stand on the edge and then lean/jump into whomever was willing to catch her.  Giggling up a storm the whole time, and shrieking with delight.

Come one, bump me one more time. I double-dog dare you.
Then it was on to the tubes, where Zoe player bumper boats with Cara.  For a little kid, the Zoster sure can be ruthless when there's a competition on the line!  (*Also untrue.)  The condo had myriad pools and water features, and Zoe did her best to make it into all of them.  Only brute force and quick wit were able to keep her from the hot tubs and outdoor unheated pools!

"Lazy" River my arse  - this thing is AWESOME!
Finally, what better way to wind down after a long day relaxing than a float down the Lazy River?  Or was it a race: tubers vs. swimmers?  Like a little creek, the lazy river meandered around the other pools, and Zoster enjoyed the ride while Grandma provided a little extra propulsion.

Stay tuned, because coming up next week we've got: A Quiz!  But first, one last picture of the fabled winter shellhunter of Myrtle Beach... 

11 February 2012

The great snow bird experiment

While Pittsburgh is known for many great things, it has never been particularly renowned for its winters.  Seeing that the Zoster's grandparents have wised up to northeast winters and now flock south for a good chunk every year, we decided that it was a good idea to visit the wise old snowbirds.  So... Florida and Myrtle Beach -- here we come!  Here is the story of part 1:  the great expedition to Delray Beach, Florida.

Victory! Who needs a satin sash when you have an aeroplane?
Mucho kudos to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) - they cordoned off an entire gate and repurposed it as a kids play area.  There's a huge map of the country in the floor so kids can fly from one city to another, and there's all sorts of flight-themed kid-friendly stuff.  Plus it's enclosed so parents can relax while their kids are kids.  Nice one.

Papa's my co-pilot. Now where's the "turbo" button?
With the fine education that she received from Pittsburgh's "Kidsport", wee Zoe became an expert on all things aeronautical.  Turbulence? Ha - she'd seen worse.  Ear pressure?  Psshaw - the girl had three flights with two ear infections and wasn't bothered one bit.

One more picture and they'll be taking pictures of you... in the morgue!
Somewhat weary from the travel, our first destination was the beach.  The most welcoming of all places, beaches are warm, friendly places to carelessly stroll barefoot with loved ones.  Zoe LOVES long walks on the beach.  But wait - what's that?

WAR!!!!!!!   We'd been greeted with a purple flag upon arrival: "Dangerous Marine Life - Portugese Man of War."  No joke - they were everywhere.  And don't be fooled, although they appear both cuddly and delicious, they are neither.  Zoster was wise to this, and wanted nothing to do with the war zone, so we headed back to the southerly homestead.

Breakfast with a view...  In no particular order: Cara; Zoe Mae; Intercoastal Waterway; Ocean. Not seen in this photo: Pool (beneath deck); Beach (obscured by trees).
After naptime Zoe's herculean travel savvy started to tarnish.  Into fury.  So we packed the ailing babe child into the car and enjoyed an storybook drive to a floridian urgent care clinic.  It was one of those parenting moments...  Zoe flailing in inconsolable rage in the back seat. Driving in a strange city. In rush hour. Zoe screaming screaming screaming. No clear directions, and no GPS - just a gist of where we were headed - and the place had no roadside signage.  To further help us, both of our phones had been left in the condo...  We didn't even have a quarter to call someone who cares!

The good doc confirmed a that two of Zoe's ears were definitely infected. That's 100% of her poor ears!  Cara basked in victory (better to know the enemy), and we enjoyed a somewhat better drive back.  And what better solution to a double ear infection than a double pie feast?!?!  Grammy made a delicious chicken pot pie followed by key lime pie.  We'd have taken pictures, but we ate it all too quickly!

Wait a minute - who's reading to whom here?
Storytime with Grandpa...

Back home, Zoster was on the mend, and it was time for the grandparents to regale her with stories of the days of old.  Or boardbooks.  Either way, Zoe was totally into it.  The next day she was feeling better, so we ventured toward the water again, but we were stopped in our tracks by an unthinkable tragedy.  Zoe's waffles attempted mutiny and her snack cup consequently took an unexpected tack right off the pier. Into the ocean.

Help, help! Snack cup overboard! 
Zoe trembled with fear that her companion was gone forever; they'd come so far together.  Mama shuddered at the environmental impact; the oceanic garbage patch was big enough as it is. Papa pondered the financial impact; could they really afford another?  With the family in such dire straits, Grammy led the women and children indoors to safety while Papa foolishly watched and waited until the perfect low-tide opportunity to risk life and limb to recover the wayward cup.  Balanced between a manky old sailboat and a broken ladder, and with no onlookers to ridicule and videotape rescue him if he should fail, Tommy somehow plucked the cup from the sea with his feet.  The difference between heroism and foolhardiness? Victory. The snack cup was saved.*

How many trips to steal all the water from the old folks' pool?
Zoe Mae, of course, had since moved on to bigger and better cups, wholly unaware of the age old battle between man and sea.  The wee lass had discovered the other aquatic wonder of Florida - pools!  She loves 'em, and thankfully this condo had three: An 'owners' pool that none of us were allowed in; a 'guest' pool that was for potty-trained persons** only; and a tiny plastic kiddy pool, just for rock stars like Zoe.  

Be sure to tune in next time as we venture south of south of the border.

Here's lookin' at you kid.

* True story. Two days later, the snack cup was accidentally left behind in Florida, and is now being dutifully employed by Grandpa. There will be a(nother) reunion soon.
** A curious, but excellent, prerequisite in a retirement community if I do say so myself.