Saturday, December 30, 2006

15 Months!

What hath 15 months wrought? Will power! Opinions! Words! And our first temper tantrum.

Meredith is more tuned in to her world than ever before. The other day I was asking Chris why our daughter was constantly barking when there was no dog to be be seen. I promptly realized that there was, in fact, a picture of a dog on the open magazine on the table near Mer. Earlier today a few of us asked why silly Mer was pointing at the sky. About 20 seconds later, we too could hear the airplane that had caused her to point. So, yeah, she's tuned in. It must be exhausting.

Speaking of exhausting: Yesterday morning we embarked upon one of our much-loved early morning So-Cal walks. It's fun to be on Memphis time and wake up long before most sane people. It's fun to have paradise to ourselves and watch the sun come up over the mountains. It's fun, that is, until Meridy decides that neither riding in nor pushing the stroller will do. Neither will riding on shoulders, or walking. We're not sure what WOULD have worked, but we do know that the peaceful, still sleeping golf course was awakened that morning by the blood curdling screams of our own precious offspring. Sorry, dear Indian Wells retirees. Unfortunately, at the point of the meltdown, we were quite a long way from home. So we had a sort of tantrum parade and spread the joy throughout the neighborhood. Needless to say, naptime came early to Mer that day.

The innocents embarking upon a seemingly harmless journey.

Tantrum in full swing.

Tantrums can be cured with donuts. I'm sure it works for adults as well.

Mer has lots of words now. Shoes, dog, kitty, please, thank you, bottle, apple, boom (after falling), down, sit down, get down (you get the picture). She also has lots of signs and uses please, more and thank you very frequently. She also seems to have figured out her own way to indicate pain: she points at her poor little molar infested cheek and says "oosh." It's pretty effective communication.

She hugs on command -- and sometimes of her own free will. That's pretty wonderful. I took her to work one day before the holiday and in the madness of the rush to close up my office and deal with loose ends while also carrying her on my hip so that she wouldn't hurt herself or anyone else, she suddenly put both arms around my neck and sort of patted me and said "hmmmmmm." Perfect timing.

Christmas was a joy and she's getting a big kick out of all the wonderful toys she received. Of course an empty gift bag is still the biggest thrill -- and a an empty water bottle with a cap to put on and take off is nirvana itself. And that's as it should be, and certainly affordable fun.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas High Jinks

Before leaving Memphis, Mer experienced some true Christmas gluttony. I came home from an errand to find this scene. I turned to Chris, thinking "Why the heck did you let her have a cookie?" -- his response to my as yet unspoken question was "I couldn't tell which one she wanted." So you let her have ALL of them? That's what dads are for...

Here's Mer opening her stocking in Memphis. It was full of wonderful things that Santa thought she might enjoy on the plane to Cali. Santa is a GENIUS.

Here's most of the Cali gang. It was a wonderful Christmas dinner, and Mer sat right up at the table and had a grand time. We were missing Chris' mom and sister, who were delayed by Denver snow. Everyone is here now -- though some are not sure they'll make it BACK to CO on time!

Meredith has taken to gnawing on whole apples. It's kind of cute. Except when she spits out the skin.

This is one of many reasons that I love to visit California.

Mer and Mom on the beach in Carlsbad. We visited the Winkelmans and took a short drive on the PCH. Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Too Much Fun

Anybody out there with me on this? The last couple weeks have been fun, but frankly, I've had enough of fun. I'm ready for boring. I'm ready for not-a-thing-to-do Friday nights and sitting around Saturdays. Bring 'em on.

But in the mean time, Friday night was a lovely Christmas party at Chris' sister Beth's great apartment on Madison. Saturday was a wonderful dinner party at the Huddleston's. Sunday was Robert's belated and Taurean's on-time birthday celebration at Laser Quest. All of it was wonderful, and we're blessed to have so many precious folks in our lives.

The grownups got to actually act like grownups at the Huddlestons! Holly's younger sister Amanda watched the kids, along with her sweet boyfriend Anton, who changed his first diaper that night. Awwww. Virginia and Meredith practiced their teamwork skills.

Nora practiced her being-cute skills. She's pretty much got it down.

Here's Chris and me, pretending to be grownups.

Here are the boys and me outside the Laser Quest place. I was making a mad dash for it cause Meredith was wild with the pain of her emerging molars. The boys were being their usual precious selves and helping me get everything in the car. Two days later, she's still wild with pain. At least from 11pm to 6am.

God bless us, every one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hey Kids

Hey Kids,

This is what you'll look like if your mom puts your hat on backwards. It's hard to use your peripheral vision when you have this kind of hat on backwards. I got a little frustrated. But it might not be her fault. She might be directionally challenged. She might have had trouble with things like this all her life. She might not have even realized it was on backwards and she might have been beating herself up for buying a hat without making me try it on first, thinking it was just too small.

Poor Mom. Poor me. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday Morning

It was a rough Sunday morning for little Meridy. She got kicked out of Sunday School. Yup. I don't think this bodes well for the future.

Kidding, kidding. She got the boot cause she had a cold. Apparently, sometime during your average Church of Christ worship, this cold went from a Stage 1, perfectly harmless, sort of cold, to a Stage 87, death-by-cold sort of cold. So she was vanquished.

Shoot. Those kids would be lucky to have Mer's germs.

Again, kidding. Hope your holiday season is both merry AND bright, thus far.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Merrrrrry Christmas! The boys helped us put the Christmas tree up again this year. We took a somewhat different decorative route than in years past, choosing the safer option of tying bows directly to the tree. That craziness of tiny hooks which allow the ornament to simply hang from the branch doesn't work with toddlers. Or, at least, my life will be easier if I don't try to make it work. Anyway, here's the annual Christmas pic of the whole gang.

We made Christmas cupcakes that night and, in the spirit of holiday giving, allowed Meridy to tear into her very own cupcake. She was happy to oblige, with much encouragement from the boys.

After decorating the tree, the hubby and I hit the road for a quick trip to Cali for the 80th birthday of Chris' dear Grandma Poo. My parents were kind enough to come to our house and keep Mer, so Chris and I enjoyed peaceful flights involving lots of sleeping and reading...just like the old days. Thanks, Gran and Papa. And Happy Birthday, Poo. We love you all!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We're Back

One new Mac and an undisclosed amount of moolah later, we're back on the air. Or in the air. Or just online. Whatever. We're back.

Thanksgiving, other than the disaster that killed the dear Mac (computer, that is, Auntie D), was wonderful. The weather was unseasonably warm, so Mer was free to wander the giant porch, play in the leaves, torture the cats and eat acorns to her heart's content. And she did.

Right before we left for Arkansas, the most wonderful present arrived. It was from Cousin Andrea, off in the blustery cold of New England. THANK YOU ANDREA! YOU'RE A GENIUS! She made this precious little stool for Meredith and it couldn't have been more perfect, as Meridy has recently become thrilled with sitting on small things that are juuuuust right for her little bum.

She spots the seat, turns around, backs up very slowly, extends the left arm to steady the seat, and slowly lowers herself. Have I mentioned that she is somewhat cautious? On the not-so-cautious side, she has also recently developed an affinity for picking up things that are really too large to be picked up by a 22 pound baby girl. These attempts are always accompanied by humorous grunting noises.

In what will appear to be a non sequitur, let me ask -- Have yall ever met Houser? Houser lives at my parents house, and he's a giant cat. People come from miles around to marvel at Houser's girth. The below picture does not do him justice. The cat is HUGE. Anyway, remember how I mentioned that Meredith has recently started attempting to pick up things that are much larger than she is? How I wish you all could have witnessed the scene when she tried to wrap her arms around Houser and lift him from the ground. That's the hardest I've laughed in a long time. I don't even know any full grown men that can pick up dear Houser. So anyway, that's the Thanksgiving news. Hugs and kisses to all....we're thankful for each of you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Death of a Mac

On Thanksgiving our Mac was killed in a tragic freak accident. Posts will resume shortly. Please join us in mourning the Mac. She was a good Mac.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


We took Meredith camping for the first time when she was about 8 weeks old...almost exactly a year ago. It was really cold and not an especially easy trip, but we had fun and it's always good to be out in the middle of a forest. Having said that, we can't really imagine taking the 13 month old Meridy camping.

This weekend we sat around our fire pit in the backyard and I commented that we had the best of camping right there. I mean, you REALLY go camping for the fire, right? Hiking is good and the stars are brighter and the peacefulness (assuming you have responsible camping neighbors) is great. But the best part, by far, is usually the time around the fire. And we've GOT that. So for now, time in the backyard around the fire pit is going to be termed "camping." When it's a bit warmer and Little Miss is a bit less wobbly, we'll get back to the real thing.

By the way, for any nervous Nellies out there...Meredith has an appropriate fear of the fire pit, as indicated by her location in this picture. She and Walt chased the kitten around the back stoop, which is about as far away from the fire pit as one can get and still be in the back yard. If you want to be nervous about something, consider the fact that she puts every stick and acorn she sees in her mouth. She always very sweetly spits out the acorn when prompted, but there's usually one in reserve, tucked in her cheek. Geez.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Clever acronym, aye? It stands for Children's Museum of Memphis, and that's where we went this morning.

Meredith saw a tiny fraction of the museum, but was delighted with what she saw, wandering around making her trademark "HA! HA! HA!" proclamation. Luckily, there's a gated area for the smaller kids. Walt and Meredith were able to be their mellow selves there. As long as they avoided one kid, who I called Bruiser. How can a two year old already have that much angst? Yikers.

Walt's the more advanced athlete. But Mer CAN say "ball" now, so she's got that going for her.

Walt also made and served "lunch." DEEElicious.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mama and Daddy

Sometimes you just need your Mama and Daddy. Nope, I'm not talking about Meredith. I'm talking about me. After several hellacious weeks at work, I was fried. Burnt to a crisp. Toast. Enough bad food metaphors, you get the idea.

But they came to town and suddenly my life was full of barbecued chicken and grilled veggies (credit to brother), Saturday morning donuts (credit to husband), fancy dinners out (credit to Mom's bday) and lots of good advice (credit to Dad). Work is still hellacious, but that precious gift of perspective has returned.

Oh, and did I mention the joys of a house full of baby watchers?

I love my mama and daddy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

13 Months!

This post is so late.

Anyway, Mer is apPROXimately 13 months old. It's been one of the most eventful months of her little life. The "sort of" walking of last month is now the "practically sprinting" of today. She's got some words -- ball, kitty, daddy, shoes (which is sometimes more like oosh) are the mainstays of the vocab. She also seems to be trying out some signs lately. She definitely made the cookie sign today -- surprise, surprise. It seems like she's just realizing that she can use her hands to communicate, and I think in the next couple weeks she'll start to put the right sign with the right need/want/item. Most of the words, like the signs, are associated more with an emotion than a specific thing. Daddy and Kitty are just happy words that might apply at any point during the day.

Mostly right now we're all just busy being thrilled that she's walking so well because SHE'S so thrilled. We're all freed from the purgatory that was "sort of" walking. That purgatory had some tantrums in it. She was just so frustrated. Now she just toddles about, moving things from room to room -- totally busy and totally content. Woo hoo! Now mommy's and daddy's backs will begin to heal from that 45 degree angle required to let her hold a finger most of the day while she gained the confidence to be FREE!

So happy 13 month birthday, Meridy. You are more fun everyday, you little walker you!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mom's Sick

Hey folks. I've been really sick this weekend and haven't accomplished my blogging goals. I don't have any pictures, but I can tell you that Chris has been incredible. On Sunday he got up with Mer at 6 am and hung out with her until he got them both ready for church. Then they went and got Robert and went to church. Then they all went to Perkins for breakfast (where, apparently, Meredith ate enough eggs and pancakes for an army). Then they all went shopping for a couple hours, took Robert home, and came home. That's a lot for one adult, trust me. That night, Auntie Beth came over the watch Mer while Chris went to the soccer game. I'm on the mend, but in the meantime, here's some pics from Florida that you didn't see...Seemed appropriate for this, one of the first TRULY gloomy days of fall.

The world's first team drumming duo.

You want us to pose HOW in this really cute chair? Like this? No? Oh well, good try Aunt Gigi.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lareaus Love Halloween

Or not. We don't. Meredith didn't even have to be told. She knew. Instinctively.

(Old MacDonald had a farm...)

But we try to be good sports, and eventually Meredith warmed up to her chick costume (actually she got a little overheated--that didn't help matters). She did some rockin' and rompin' at her first Rock N Romp event. These are great events held in backyards around town where "real" bands come and play in a kid-friendly environment. So parents get to hear the live music that they've been missing out on and kids get to go nuts and have a great time. It's a beautiful thing. They had tons of pots and pans for kids to bang on, and little musical instruments as well. I wish I had a picture of the kid on the inflatable sax!

This was Meredith's second experience with live music and she loved it. Especially once we freed her from the costume so that she could express her inner Meridy.

(Photo credits for this blog go to Aunt Gigi Spickler-aren't they gawgeous?)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Action Shots

Here are some of Meridy's routines. She thought some of her younger friends might want to know what sort of tasks await them in their older babyhood.

First, you've got to work on your walking. This "palms up" sign is one that Mer frequently makes, and (just between you and me) I think it's precious. However, I have no idea what it means. It's definitely a happy thing, so we'll just go with that.

Later in the day, you're probably going to want to do your book/radio routine. It's good for mind and body. First, get your mom to turn the cd player on. Dance a little to get warmed up. Now your routine is going to be as follows: Dance, stack books, read books, dance, etc, etc. I'll show you.

At some point, you're going to want to do the coffee table routine. Every baby has one. First, you'll want to make a few laps around the table (again, warming up is important). Then you'll want to remove the pesky magazines (it's' fun to flip through them while you do that). Next, you're going to want to remove other things that clutter up the table. My mom has this tray, so I always take that off. Put that on the floor. Finally, there may be some coasters. You're going to want to get rid of those too. They go on the floor with the tray. THERE! Nice clear coffee table. Much better.

So there you go, babies. Just leave comments if you have any questions. (Nora, you're just about ready for this stuff!)