Every year about mid-February, Sarah gets really antsy for winter to end. At a minimum, she wants a week long trip to somewhere warm. This year is no exception, and probably because we haven't gone on a mid-winter trip for a few years, she's got the itch pretty badly this year. Normally, she's a rock of optimism but when it comes to February and winter she definitely has trouble turning the other cheek. I've been saying how winter is just about over and even if we go somewhere warm we'll just come back to the same cold weather that we left but she won't hear any of it.

Today she declared, "Next year we're going to Spring Training. It's our last chance to take a week-long trip before one of our kids is in public school." So, I guess I can block out some time in February, 2014 for a trip to Florida to see the Minnesota Twins in Spring Training.

Dinah continues to grow apace. She seems to learn something new every day. She's gotten a few more words now. Her inventory includes "off", "on", "wa-wa" (water), "dis" (this), "ello" (yellow), "oof" (woof), and "mrow" (meow). She knows what all of those words symbolize or mean, with the exception of yellow. That's one she can say, but doesn't understand yet. All of the others have discrete meanings. We year "dis" about ten thousand times a day when she's somewhere with plenty of new things to see. It's her way of asking what something is called and what it does. "Off" also gets plenty of usage as she wants to take off her jacket, hat, shoes, bib, playdough lid, or just about anything else. It's a multipurpose word that she uses to cover any all removal scenarios.

We all have Dinah-assigned names. Sarah is still "mama" and I'm "dada". Dalla is "alla". Garrison is "baba". Garrison, meanwhile, has assigned himself the name "Big Bubba" when he talks to this sister. I've contemplated telling him that "Big Bubba" is a name that he may not want when he gets older, but I'm guessing that he'll outgrow it long before that name becomes a problem.

Dinah is still very much on the bear diet. Her ability to go days without even sniffing a vegetable is legendary. She can detect and eject from her mouth a single pea from a mouthful of fried rice without any difficulty. She seems to enjoy sour foods more than Garrison does. She really enjoys unsweetened yogurt with her cereal in the morning and even enjoys fresh-squeezed unsweetened grapefruit juice, something I wouldn't eat to save my life when I was younger.

The kids got crayons and coloring books for Valentine's Day and Dinah has really been into coloring since then. She can rarely be found without a crayon (or three) grasped in her tiny fists as she wanders the house.

Garrison is four now and still as physically active as ever. His current interest is basketball. We've been taking the kids with us to the YMCA and he loves going into the open gym sessions and throwing around a basketball. He can't even hope to throw the ball into the hoop on a standard 10' basket, but on a lower basket like the use for smaller kids to play in leagues, he can occasionally toss one in there underhanded. Regardless, he seems to love just running around in the gym with the basketball.

He has also been expanding his digital entertainment a bit more. We still don't let him spend much time in front of glowing rectangles (TVs, smart phones, computers, etc.), but he's learned how to do a few things on those devices to bend them to his will. For instance, he knows how to use the mouse to click on the Sesame Street bookmark on Sarah's computer if he gets to watch Sesame Street. He's also been picking up words and letters fairly rapidly over the past few months. He's learning more and more words all the time. He seems to have figured out that words are the key to deciphering much of the world around him. He still has trouble with lower-case letters (and cursive is a complete mystery) but he has a very solid understanding of all the upper-case letters.

Garrison's birthday party was held at the local YMCA again this year. Instead of holding the entire party in just a couple of rooms we started the party in one of the gyms where they had inflated big bouncy house/obstacle course. That gave the kids an opportunity to run around for an hour in a warm setting before we moved them upstairs to eat cake and snacks. Sarah and Garrison made the cake for the gathering this year and it was very good.