Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve sledding

Today, we got about 2 inches of snow in the course of a couple of hours. This meant that my office closed even earlier than it was supposed to (at 1 instead of 3). It also meant that traffic was especially crappy coming home. But I got to pick up Annika early from day care and then we went sledding!!


It's been a long time since I had so much fun in the snow! I think Annika had a good time until her hands got really cold ... we have mittens, but they're at day care. I need to bring them home. 

Happy new year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post-Christmas reflections

It's hard to believe that, in the blink of an eye, Christmas is over. A week ago, we were a couple of hours away from getting in our car and driving in to Buffalo. Here I am a week later, and all that's left are some photographs and these paper bags with gifts all over the floor of the front hall. I sometimes think that the best part about Christmas is the anticipation of it all. Trying to pick out gifts that you think each person will like. Thinking about all the fun things that will happen when we're in Buffalo. Having a busy calendar where we get to see most of the people that we are close to in our lives.

It was certainly a full month. At the beginning of the month I co-moderated a two-day training on immigration basics. Annika got her first two teeth and we had our first "sick visit" to the pediatrician (where we learned that Annika was not sick, just teething). Annika saw her first snow. We picked out a Christmas tree and decorated it. We went to parties at my office, at several friends' houses, and a birthday party for our friends' two-year-old son. In between that, I did Christmas shopping. I finished my class at Isis. And then we had our big 4-day Christmas extravaganza in Buffalo.

As everyone predicted, Christmas is magical when you have a baby. It's also a juggling routine. We did our best to see everyone, but there seemed to be more that we could've done, if only we'd had more time. We missed a party at Jim's aunt's house because we had already left for Boston. We weren't able to bring Annika to some of the festivities because they were past her bedtime. It was hard to tell Jim's grandma that we might not see her again until the spring. I'd like to say that we'll be in Buffalo again this winter, but I just don't see when.

Back to reality, I worked Monday and Tuesday and tried to make some progress on the amicus brief that we're putting together for later this month. I have new lighting in my office (thanks to Jim!), but without windows, I feel like I'm working in a cave. I never know what the weather is like outside, or if the sun is shining. I guess I've been pretty spoiled up to this point - in my last two jobs, I had beautiful, large windows in my work area, looking out on urban Boston.

We have one more holiday party to look forward to. Our next-door neighbors are throwing a new year's eve party. It'll be great because they all have little kids too, and understand that little kids go to sleep early. Plus, they're right next door, so we'll be able to stay at the party longer before we have to bring Annika home for bed.

Happy new year, everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


We are keeping busy here in Buffalo over Christmas. I posted some Christmas photos to Flickr. Here's a taste:

Mommy and Annika cuddle up on Christmas Eve morning:

Annie and Maddie as Santa:

With GG Mac:

Both halves of JK Squared:

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I just got an early Christmas present from the First Circuit!



We are packing up and getting ready for another whirlwind holiday. All the presents are wrapped and stacked in bags. Annika's "lovie" blanket was washed and dried this morning (ready for tonight). Jim got the car washed yesterday, after the car had a run-in with a flock of birds.  We decided not to install the new car seat. Annie still marginally fits in the infant seat, and it's better not to mess with a new seat during a long car trip. We'll deal with that when we get back to Boston.

Holidays are a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I always look forward to them. I enjoy seeing family and friends. I enjoy being in Buffalo. I enjoy the traditions that come with the holidays. On the other hand, holidays are tiring. It's a long drive, and once we're there, we often seem to rush around and don't get to actually take things in and digest them. This becomes even more challenging when you thrust a baby into the mix. To some degree, we are different people - we are out of our home context, living out of a suitcase.  I have not figured out a way to avoid the big rush. The desire not to rush around conflicts with the desire to see everyone and do everything and cram all those things into the limited time that we are in town. I guess in the end, the desire to cram overcomes the desire to relax.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I was sure that as soon as Boston and the other towns started freaking out and calling snow emergencies and things that the storm was going to turn to rain and make everyone look silly. But no, there's a lot of snow. It started snowing after we went to bed last night, and continues to come down quite hard this morning. Jim is out snow blowing the neighborhood as I write this.

I was going to leave you with a photo, but it seems like I'm not able to upload photos this morning for some reason. Maybe later.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Early Wakings, Cookies, and The Storm

Here I am, sitting on the couch, with Zeus curled up at my side. Annika has been asleep for about an hour and a half. We ate dinner and watched an NCIS episode. It's a pretty normal evening, but what a crazy day.

We woke up this morning at 4:45 when Annika woke up and was crying. It could have been a number of things - her cold, the dry air caused by the cold and the furnace, hunger, or the reason that you use when you don't have any other reasons: teething. My friend Jen had slept over from babysitting the night before, so she woke up too. We tried everything, and finally after a bottle and some Tylenol, Annie fell back asleep at around 5:30 for about 90 minutes. We sort of fell asleep too.

We got up around 7:30 after Annie woke up again. We fed her and then went out to breakfast at our favorite Quincy diner, the Early American. Then we took Jen back home, went to the grocery store, and then rushed home to make cookies for the cookie swap.

I made pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. They came out better than expected. I was so paranoid about burning them, that I was worried they weren't going to be cooked all the way through, but they were fine.

We tried to put Annie down for a nap but she was not having it. She completely resisted all of her naps today. I suppose it's difficult for her to sleep with the stuffed up nose and cough, but you'd think she'd be so tired from waking up at 4:45 that she'd want to nap. I know Jim and I wanted to nap!

At 1:15 we left for the cookie swap at J. and N.'s house. It was really, really fun. There were about 10 people there besides us, and everyone brought unusual cookies. We ate a lot of cookies. And amazingly, Annie was great. (We were expecting a melt down). I held her in the Baby Bjorn, and she sampled all of the food - I let her gum some of the cookies and things. One of the women at the party was playing with her and she was laughing and having a good old time. It was a really nice holiday party, without it being an official Holiday Party. This was J. and N.'s first Christmas in the new house and they had a Christmas tree set up in a little bay-window type area in their living room that looked like it was built for a Christmas tree. It was a cozy afternoon and I'm glad we decided to go. I think Annie had fun too.

We got home, played with Annie, and tried to keep her awake until bedtime. Here she is with Jim:

And here she is with Anya the Bear, who is almost as big as she is! 


(if you look closely, you can see Annie's two new bottom teeth in this photo!) You'd never guess it from the photos, but aside from a couple of short cat-naps in the car, she did not nap today. I don't know what happened. I hope she sleeps good and long tonight.

And tonight, we are waiting for the blizzard that is supposed to hit right around now. Washington and New York have gotten blanketed with snow, so it looks like we're going to get our share.  Thankfully, it's a Saturday night, and we don't have to go anywhere tomorrow. We'll watch the Pats game and wrap presents and have a cozy winter day!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I love weekends

My reasons for being happy that the weekend is here:

1) We went to a really nice Christmas party at my office tonight, and Jim and Annie got to meet all my new co-workers.

2) Tomorrow evening, Jim and I are going out on our first date since May. We are going out to dinner, followed by the Nutcracker. My friend Jen is staying with Miss Annika for the night. We are going to a different Nutcracker this year. Usually we go to the Boston Ballet performance in downtown. This year, we're going to a production put on by the Jose Matteo ballet company, which is being performed at a theater at Brandeis University in Waltham. My boss' daughter is dancing in the performance. It should be really nice.

3) Cookie swap party on Saturday!

4) Christmas wrapping with awesome ribbon

5) Only a week til Christmas! Only a little shopping left to do, and everything seems to be under control.

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 months!

Annie turned eight months today.

She was at day care today, and apparently played with green finger paint, because she needed a bath tonight. :)  She was so excited by her birthday that she decided to forgo her afternoon nap all together! And dinner too! Birthdays will do that to you. But I think (and hope) she'll sleep well tonight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Highlights of the week

1) Our friends S. and B. were finally placed with a baby for adoption!! Yea! It's been a long process with a lot of setbacks. It looks like everything is finally going to work out though. It's amazing how many people I know have had babies this year.

2) Annika got another tooth this week. I brushed her teeth for the first time this morning, using baby toothpaste and this little rubber thing that fits on your finger. I was sure she was going to resist, but she actually seemed to enjoy it.

3) We decorated the house for Christmas, and Jim put up lights in our front porch too. Here are Annika and Zeus with our tree:

 Our Christmas shopping is going OK. I'm still very stumped on some people but it'll all work out, I'm sure.

4) I made cranberry orange nut bread last night. The first batch came out perfectly. The second batch ... well ... it sort of looks like cake, and completely fell apart when I tried to take it out of the cake tin. I am not sure what happened, although Jim suspects that I screwed up the amount of flour. And now that I think about it, I may have used the 1/2 cup measure, thinking it was the cup  measure.  Oh well. It tastes good, anyway.

Today we have a Christmas party at a friend's house in Arlington, and tomorrow we're going to a birthday party for a friend's little boy, who is turning two on Monday! And we have a ton of errands to run. The weekend will be gone in a blink, I fear.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We got our first snow last night. This morning, we put Annika in the snowsuit that Jim wore as a baby and took her outside. The snow was icy so we didn't stay too long out there.

She looks like a natural snow bunny to me! Next: ice skating and skiing? Oh, maybe next year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Got Tooth?

I am happy to report that this morning, when I felt Annie's gums, I felt a little razor edge. The tooth has finally come through. Thank goodness. Annie's sleep has been back to normal for the last two nights, although she does seem to have developed a bit of a cough. Both she and I are fighting a head cold.

Yesterday was a nice day because Jim didn't have to go into work, due to the crazy hours he put in this week at the conference. It was a nice, relaxing day. We got lunch at S&S Deli, and then checked out the toy store next door, called Stellabella Toys. It felt like a Saturday, even though it was only Friday.

Today Annie and I are going to a focus group at Isis for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In exchange for our participation, I get a $50 gift card to Isis! Pretty cool. DPA is particularly interested in what Annie has to say about her first months on earth.

I also finally ordered a car seat for Annie - Evenflo Symphony. I got a deal on it at Albee Baby, with free shipping too. I ordered it on Tuesday night, and it arrived yesterday afternoon. We're going to see about installing it in the car later today. We still have to order another one, but I thought we'd try this one out. If we like it, we get another one. If not, we order another brand.

I'm off to pack up the diaper bag so we can leave for Isis.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teething, ear infections, runny noses and the croup

Yes, as you may have guessed from the title of this blog post, today did not go well. Mom went home last night, Jim doesn't get home til nearly midnight tonight, and so, it's just me and Miss Annika. The fates that be decided to use this opportunity to introduce me to a part of motherhood that I haven't seen much of yet: the sick baby.

It all started shortly before my last blog post. Annika had gone to sleep around 7, but it was 9:15 and she was awake again. I suspected that it was teething and hoped that with a little Tylenol, some rocking and some singing, Annie would feel comfortable enough to sleep the rest of the night. But, of course, I was wrong. It took about an hour to get her back to sleep. I noticed that while she was crying, she was pulling at her left ear. When she finally went back to sleep, I looked this up on-line and learned that it could be a sign of teething. Or it could be a sign that she has an ear infection. Great. But what could I do at that point? So, I went to sleep.

At 12:30, poor Annie was awake again, uncomfortable. I was so sleepy that I decided to see if she was also so sleepy that she would also fall back asleep. And this worked.

It also worked at 1:30 when she woke up again.

But it did not work at 2:40, when she woke up and was really crying. Interestingly, this was also about the time that the Tylenol would've worn off. So perhaps it really was helping. I'm still not sure. Anyway, it took another hour to get her back to sleep. In the end, out of ideas, I gave her one of her old "soothie" pacifiers from the hospital that we hadn't used in the months. (Annie's a thumb sucker but wouldn't suck her thumb last night, presumably because her gums hurt). I didn't put the pacifier in her mouth; I just handed it to her. She examined it carefully, over and over again, as if it was the greatest and most interesting thing in the world. I also put her "lovie" blanket (the soft pink mini-blanket with the hippo head attached) next to her. She stopped crying almost immediately and within a few minutes she was asleep again. I have no idea why this worked, except that I suspect the Tylenol finally kicked in.

Annie then slept til her normal waking hour of 6:00, when she was quite hungry and took down her bottle. I decided to call the doctor to ask about the ear infection. I figured the doctor would just realize that he was dealing with a new parent and tell me that it was teething and send me on my way. But instead, he suspected an ear infection and said that I should bring her in. I should also mention that Annie has had a runny nose for a few days, probably from a cold that I also seem to be fighting.

I haven't mentioned yet that I just started my job less than 2 months ago, and already had to call in sick from work on Monday because I was awake all night with a stomach bug. This didn't look great, since it was the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, but I didn't have a choice. Today, I was supposed to go to a conference in Boston that had required attendance for everyone in my office.

But again, I really had no choice. The pediatrician needed to see Annie and that meant that we had to go. We got the first appointment of the day, at 9am. I called my boss and explained what was going on. She was very understanding - she has two kids of her own.

The doctor took us quickly and ruled out the ear infection. He looked at her gums and thought that her top gums were definitely swollen, and that there was definitely a tooth coming through on the bottom. He recommended an aspirator for the runny nose and Tylenol for the teething.  So I brought Annie to day care, and then got on the T and went to work.

At 1:30, during my lunch break, I got a call from the director of the daycare center. Although Annie was "fine" and I shouldn't worry, she told me that Annie had a cough that sounded raspy, like a seal. She mentioned that she had heard this type of cough before in other kids and in her experience it didn't go away "by itself" without prescription medicine. She mentioned that it sounded like a croup-like cough. I'm not entirely sure why she called, because she wasn't asking me to come pick Annie up. Maybe she was just covering herself, in case it got worse? I don't know. Anyway, she said she would watch it and if it got worse, I would need to pick Annie up.

So I freaked out again, because I have a friend whose son was rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance because of the croup, since he was struggling to breathe.  Should I leave work? What if tonight, Annie gets the croup and I don't know enough to call an ambulance? I called the pediatrician's office again. They said not to worry - just get a vaporizer and elevate the side of the crib mattress where her head is. They said that if the cough gets worse, I should just call them and they can get Annie in for another appointment tomorrow.

So I went back into the conference, stayed til 4, and then picked up Annie. She was just fine. No cough at all. She was just tired. The day care teacher said that she only coughed when she woke up from naps, which makes sense for a kid with a runny nose, since all the post-nasal drip builds up in the throat. But I got a vaporizer anyway and set it up. It's actually quite nice. I gave Annie a nice long bath with the special "vapor" soap that is supposed to clear up your sinuses (it smells a little like Vicks). She had a good dinner (peaches and rice cereal), didn't want her last bottle, and then went to sleep. And she's been sleeping now for about 30 minutes. Let's hope it continues.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not quiet any more

Reasons why my Wednesday is no longer quiet:

1) I decided to go to bed early tonight to get some rest. As I was climbing into bed, I stepped in something wet. It was cat puke.
2) As I was going downstairs to get paper towels to clean it up, Annika woke up.
3) It's extremely unusual for Annika to wake up like this, at 9:15. Usually, once she's asleep for the night, not even a train would wake her up. She was sucking on her sleep sack and pulling at her ear and crying, sometimes inconsolably. An hour later, I think she's back asleep. I gave her some Tylenol. I think we might have a repeat performance later tonight. I'm pretty sure these are all teething symptoms.
 4) The downstairs smells like skunk. For a while, I was worried that a skunk got into the house. Then I opened the back door and realized that it smells like skunk even more strongly outside, which means the skunk sprayed outside. I'm not thrilled that he sprayed but I am thrilled that he is not in my house and did not spray Solomon again.

Now I'm going to bed.

A quiet Wednesday night

We had a nice visit with my mom this week. She drove back to Boston with us from Buffalo and stayed with Annie while I was at work. Today, she sat in on my Isis class with me, then we went to lunch at the Biltmore Cafe in Newton, and later we took a walk around our neighborhood with Annie in the Bjorn. (She is getting awfully heavy in the Bjorn. I'm sad that her days in it are numbered. I love carrying her around in that thing).

Annie really enjoyed hanging with Grandma, and I'm pretty sure my mom enjoyed Annie just as much!

But, now it's back to reality. Jim doesn't get home til tomorrow night, very late. I am juggling the drop-off/pick-up routine at the daycare, although this should be a little easier tomorrow since I'm going to be in Boston all day at a conference, instead of Somerville.

I'm pretty sure Annie will have a tooth quite soon. Her gums are quite swollen and I can see a bump where the tooth is pushing through. She was a bit uncomfortable today at times. Perhaps the above photo will be Annie's last photo without teeth? :) Or perhaps this is yet another false alarm?

The house is very quiet, and at times, I wish I could hop on that plane with my mom and fly back to Buffalo with her. It's hard to be away from the warm blanket that is family.

Monday, November 30, 2009


So I hear that some of you are not able to view my Thanksgiving photos on Flickr. I thought I'd post a few photos of, of course, "da baby" here.

Dressed up as a pilgrim, with Aunt Alex, Maddie and Mommy:

With Great-grandma:

 With Mom and Grandma:

With Grandma Kogler:

 It was quite the trip. We went to a cat show, and we went bowling, and Annie got to see everyone! We got back last night after a 9-hour drive through heavy traffic in the normal spots. My mom came back to Boston with me, as Jim is in Florida this week at a conference.

Then, last night, I came down with a stomach bug and stayed home from work today. I'm just exhausted. We had a great time, but it's good to be home too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, from Annika!

 (More photos and a video on Flickr)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend in New York

We just got back from a fun weekend in NYC. We got to meet Olivia, a sweet little baby. Here she is with Jess and a penguin named Abraham:

We got to visit with Jess and Dameion, who we haven't seen since last year. And it was cool seeing Olivia, who is two months old. We drove down yesterday morning and came back this afternoon. Now we're watching the Pats game while Annika bounces in her jumpster. She is resisting a nap and soon it will be time for her to go to bed for the night.

We leave for Buffalo on Wednesday.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Just because I think this is cool:

I've visited 35 U.S. states:

Create your own visited map of The United States

It's interesting how there's a large gap right in the middle of the U.S. Another cross-country drive would fix that. hmm...

And I've been to 21 countries (or sort-of countries. Puerto Rico is listed separately here, for some reason):

Create your own visited map of The World

And I'm itching for more travel.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Busy week

Busy week! Tomorrow Annika gets her 2nd seasonal flu shot and her 1st H1N1 vaccine. Our pediatrician finally got the H1N1 vaccine in. There is a big shortage of both shots in this area. Neither Jim nor I have been able to get the shot yet. My doctor currently has this stupid rule where you can only get the H1N1 shot if you have a child under the age of 6 months in your household. Of course, if your child can't get the vaccine, then what does it matter if they're under 6 months or not? But I guess they have to come up with limits somehow. It's just all so arbitrary.

On Thursday we're going to a "multicultural" Thanksgiving dinner at Annika's daycare. We're supposed to bring a salad. I may make tabouleh since have so much parsley in my garden. We'll see how much time I have to make it tomorrow.

Then we are going to visit friends in Queens, NY this weekend! Our friends Jess and Dameion had a baby girl, Olivia, in September. So we get to see them and meet little Olivia! We will drive in on Saturday and then return home on Sunday.

Then, a week from tonight, we'll be packing and getting ready for our trip to Buffalo for Thanksgiving. Phew. I'm tired just thinking about all of it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Just for comparison's sake (and because it's pretty amazing!), take a look at these two photos.

Annika in her car seat when she left the hospital, age 2 weeks:

Annika in her car seat today, age 7 months:

Living with her everyday, we don't see how quickly she is growing. But these photos sure show it!

7 months!

Happy birthday to Annika, who is a big 7 months today!

(Also, for those of you on Flickr, I just uploaded two new, very cute videos! Check it out - they're saved in the "Annie's Videos" set).

We went out to breakfast at the Early American, then went shopping for a convertible car seat. Good times.  I think we know which one we're going to get, but we're holding off at the moment, to wait for a sale, etc. If anyone has opinions about what to look for in a car seat, or what brand is good, please e-mail me. Our criteria include reasonable price, a harness that is not a complete pain in the butt to attach, a machine-washable cushion, a seat that will fit in our cars without completely taking over the back seat, and a seat that actually looks like something we would want to ride in for the 8 hour trip to Buffalo. The Evenflo Symphony seems to meet those criteria, but we're still open to ideas. It's an imposing decision - this seat will be in our car for maybe 4 years!

It is pouring rain here today - thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ida. I think this afternoon we're going to stay in and cook Lebanese food. Jim has had a hankering for some m'judra, and I have a ton of parsley in my garden that I should use before it snows.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shopping trip

Today I was home with Annika for an extended day - Jim had a "guys' night out" in the form of a poker game with some work buddies after work. My days off are usually a little daunting anyway, particularly if I have nothing planned, because I don't always know what to do with the time. But today we went shopping! For baby clothes! And other things.

Prior to having a baby, I never would've guessed at how addicting shopping for baby clothes is. It's really hard to stop finding things that would look cute on Annika. In fact, everything in the store would look cute on her. :) A couple of weeks ago, I bought some clothes for her at Target, but they're too big for her. I thought it would be a good idea to buy a size larger so that she would get more wear out of the clothes. But when I'm rolling up her pants, and it looks like half the pant leg has been rolled up, it's time to just acknowledge that these clothes just do not fit yet.

(I also suspect that she has inherited the Kain short legs ... Laurie will know what I mean).

In addition to the clothes, I treated myself to a new book. I finally finished David McCullough's 1776, which was good but a little dense. My next book is Ted Kennedy's memoir, True Compass. I know that a few of my readers may gag when they hear the name Ted Kennedy, but I personally admire many of the things he did later on in his career, when he finally got his head on straight. I'm also interested in reading about his family. So I am in the middle of chapter one so far. Unfortunately, like many memoirs about famous people, it wasn't actually written by him. He had a ghost writer do the writing, based on his notes and interviews and things. This brings it down a peg in my eyes, but I think the book will still be worth reading. It's pretty good so far.

Other news from the week? Not much, except we started Annika on yogurt this week and she loves, loves it. And I tried squash again tonight, and she still hates, hates it. I think we're going to try green beans, mixed with brown rice, next.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Today was packed. We woke up at 6, as usual, to feed Annika. By 8 I was outside, putting the yard to bed for the winter. I pulled out all the plants in the flower bed next to the fence because we are going to plant a ginkgo tree there in the spring! Actually I wanted to plant the gingko tree this fall, but now it's November and we haven't gotten to it. So we'll plant it next spring, around Annie's 1st birthday.

We chose a gingko tree because it is a symbol of strength and longevity. The legend is that gingko trees even survived the nuclear bombs in Japan. I like the idea of planting something that will hopefully live much longer than us or Annika. I see it as our choice to have hope and faith in the future.

By 10:30 Jim, Annie and I were packing a picnic lunch for the Arboretum, and then off we went. It was a beautiful fall day, in the mid-60's, with all the leaves in full color. We had our picnic and went for a walk. Lots of oak and birch trees, but we didn't see ginkgo trees this time.

By 1, we were home to watch the Pats game. They beat Miami. Annika was acting like she needed a nap or a bottle, but resisted the nap. Later, we went grocery shopping and then stayed in for the night. Annie had applesauce, carrots and pears all today, in addition to the usual cereal.

I can't believe the weekend is already over. I wish it lasted longer.

The Accent

Here's a cute segment on the Boston accent from the Boston Globe:

I still have my Buffalo accent. Jim's sort of on the fence. Some people were joking at our party last week that Jim and I were the only ones who didn't have the Boston accent. Very true.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's fall!

A couple of very seasonal photos in front of our Scarlet Oak tree. (Notice that even though it's in the 40's outside, Jim is still in short sleeves).


It's a cool, sunny fall day, with golden sunshine and colors everywhere.

Banana Supreme

We opened up a jar of Beech Nut "Banana Supreme" last night for Annika. Prior to this jar, I was just pureeing bananas and feeding them to her. (I would eat the leftovers, particularly if they were mixed with oatmeal, and I thought it tasted quite good!) But we had this jar of bananas that someone gave us, so I figured we should try it. Now I understand why people say that baby food bananas are nasty. Banana Supreme was really gross. It didn't look or taste like bananas. It was this odd orange color and sort of tasted like someone had mixed in some pork with vanilla pudding and then added an artificial banana flavor to the whole mess. Neither Jim nor I could even stand the smell of it. Annika didn't think much of them either, although she doesn't like real bananas either.

So here's our tally so far:

Foods that Annie loves:
Any sort of baby cereal (rice, oatmeal, barley)

Foods that Annie feels ambivalent about:
Apple sauce
Maybe peas

Foods that Annie hates:
Bananas, but not as much as she hates squash.

For squash, if you put it in her mouth, she will keep her mouth open, with the squash stuck to the top, so that it doesn't touch her tongue. Then she'll slowly work it out of her mouth with her tongue. Last time I fed her squash, she kept her mouth open and started crying. I guess she really hates it! She doesn't do this with any other food.

Jim gloats that Annie has the same palate as he does ... he doesn't like bananas or avocados (unless mixed with something else, like in guacamole). He hates, hates, hates squash - can't even stand the smell of it. He loves carrots. He loves pea soup (which is basically what baby food peas is), and all forms of apples. He loves oatmeal and has it for breakfast frequently. I guess the true test is when we puree up some asparagus, which Jim absolutely hates more than any other food, except maybe turkey stuffing.

As you can see, the food thing is sort of slow-going. We've been waiting 3-4 days in between each food to watch for food allergies. All the moms at my play date yesterday have stopped doing this, without any problems. One of my friend's pediatricians told her that you don't have to do the waiting thing unless your family has a history of food allergies. But our pediatrician has recommended waiting in between each food. It's OK. She has tried enough foods now that it's not hard to find things for her to eat while we're trying new things.

Today we're going to a birthday party for the little boy next door, who is turning four. We realized last night that the party was today. (Something about time creeping up on us). So we have to go to the mall at 10 to pick up a gift. Now that we get up at the crack of dawn, we seem to do a lot of waiting for things to open. Doesn't it seem like stores should be open earlier than 10?

Friday, November 6, 2009

On blogs, Cape Cod, and play dates.

Of late, I've been wondering the point of this blog. Sure, it's a great place to post photos, but you all can look at all my photos on Flickr. I post photos usually once a week at least. You need to sign up for a free account and "friend" me in order to view them.  I think most of the people who read this blog already have a Flickr account. 

A blog is a great place to keep everyone updated about happenings in our life, but a) we don't really have anything all that important to report and b) I'm still in the dark about the happenings in everyone else's life. I think that the point of e-mails and letters is that it's a two-way thing. You give a little, you get a little. This blog is very much a one-way street.  I guess in the end, the main reason to have a blog is to force myself to record things, so that I can look back and remember them. I'm not so good at keeping a journal, and for some reason, blogging is a little more fun than a journal. And it takes up less space.

This week, I went to a training in Barnstable County, which is in Cape Cod, on the part of the cape that is closest to Boston. I drove down with my new boss and observed her doing the training since I will be doing these trainings quite soon. Later, she took me out to dinner. It was a pretty good day; it was nice to get out of the office and see the fall colors.

Today I'm home and this afternoon I'm going to a "play date" at the home of one of the moms that I met through one of the moms' groups I did this summer. Her son is 3 days younger than Annie and the other babies attending are all within about 2 weeks of Annie's age.  It's funny because when I had Annie, I heard of other mothers doing play dates, and I wondered how they would even get involved in such things. How do you get invited to a play date? And did I even want to go to something like a play date? I was certain that I would never figure it out. But lo and behold, I'm going to one, and I've actually been looking forward to it all week. It is really fun, and very reassuring, to hang out with moms who have babies that are the same age as Annie. It is also really fun to see all the babies get bigger and learn new things. Annie is wearing a new pink dress and brown leggings for the occasion. :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Part 2

Today was a great day! We went to Newport, RI for lunch. It was windy but warm. We walked around the town a little bit, and stopped by Second Beach to see if there were any surfers. There was only one, but there were a ton of para-surfers (?). People riding the waves while attached to a parachute. Interesting. Here's us at Second Beach:

 Then we came back home for Halloween festivities. We popped in on our friends Mark and Lauren for a surprise trick-or-treat. (They live about 2 miles away, in the Adams Shore section of Quincy). Then we carved jack-o-lanterns. There were Mommy, Daddy, and Baby Jack-o-lanterns. Here's Annika with them:

Then Annika went trick-or-treating to a few neighbors on the street. Everyone liked her costume. Then, at around 6:30, she went down for a nap and we handed out candy. We didn't get a lot of kids this year. Last year was pretty slow too. We don't know why. We have a lot of leftover candy now.

At around 7:30 we woke Annie up and went across the street to our neighbors' house. They were having a little post-trick-or-treat party and a lot of the neighbors were there. We couldn't stay long because Annie had to go to bed for the night, but we popped in. It would've been fun to stay longer, but we didn't want to keep her up too late. We're trying to switch her over from Daylights Savings Time, so we kept her up til 8pm when she normally goes to bed at 7. Let's see if it really works.

Now we're just unwinding from the day. I had so much fun taking Annie out trick-or-treating. I always used to go out every year with my sister and the neighbor kids and everyone's dad. But I haven't gone out since the end of college. I forgot how much fun it is. Halloween is really fun with a baby!

Halloween Part 1

Last night, we had our Halloween party. Everyone showed up, there were lots of kids here, and it actually went very well. Even our friends from Cambridge/Arlington were able to make it to the party. The kids pulled open most of our board games, and made up their own versions of the games. Annika quietly sat on my lap all evening, in her cat costume, taking it all in. She went to bed at 7 and slept through the rest of the party. We went through about a case and a half of beer. One of our neighbors brought over a homemade cake in the shape of a ghost, with white coconut frosting - yum! Another neighbor brought chips and a homemade dip. I didn't have a chance to take many photos, but the photos I took are up on Flickr.

And Annika is actually taking to the peas now! The key was to feed her well in between bottles.

Tonight is trick-or-treating and a little after-party across the street.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Morning before the Tornado

Tonight we are hosting a Halloween costume party for nine children under the age of 5 and about twenty adults. Most of the people coming are from our neighborhood. I felt that all our neighbors throw little parties and always invite us; we should do the same. Plus, I love Halloween, and Annika has a cute cat costume!

However, it has hit me that we're going to have NINE kids in our unchildproofed house! Ack! What was I thinking?? I'll post photos tomorrow.

My plan was to go grocery shopping this morning, but Annika went down for a nap right when I was planning on going. She had an odd morning. We put her to bed last night at around 7:30 to try to start with the switchover off Daylight Savings Time. But instead of sleeping longer, she actually woke up around 5:15, about an hour earlier than usual. We just left her in her crib to see what she would do, and she did eventually go back to sleep til 7. However, I think she treated that back-to-sleep period as her morning nap. So when I went to put her down for her morning nap, she was not interested.

What's more, I tried to give her peas this morning, along with the normal oatmeal. After a few spoonfuls of peas, she gagged and threw up about half her morning bottle, along with all the oatmeal and peas. What a mess. I don't blame her - peas are gross, and baby-food peas are even worse. But the morale of the story is that I really shouldn't be giving her new food so close to her bottle. It's hard on days when I work, since that hour in the morning is really my only opportunity and I'm not ready to start having daycare feed her solids.

We have found one solid food that she likes (besides cereal): carrots! She actually really likes them. Foods that make her gag: squash, bananas, avocado, and now peas. We'll be trying peas again this afternoon.

Annika is asleep now, so it's time for me to clean up the house and be ready for grocery shopping as soon as she wakes up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Prelude

Today, Annika and I are going to my regular Isis moms' group. All the kids are supposed to dress up in their Halloween costumes for class.  Here's Annika in hers:

Can't wait to see the other kids!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planes, trains and automobiles, but mostly planes

This weekend, Annika went on her first plane trip. We flew to Buffalo for a whirlwind, 48-hour visit to attend my cousin Kathy's wedding. The plane ride went surprisingly well. On the way to Buffalo, she fell asleep while the plane was taking off and stayed asleep until I had to wake her up to get off the plane in Buffalo. On the way back home, she had taken a 2-hour nap right before we left for the airport, so she was very awake. She sat up and looked at all the other passengers. She smiled at them. She played with the water bottle that they gave me. She wanted to try my cookies, so I had to move them out of her reach (a challenge when you only have about 4 feet of space in the plane). She got a little fussy here and there, but no melt-downs. The funny part about the flights was that I ended up sitting next to the same woman on both flights. We were both in Buffalo for weddings, and I guess we chose the same flights and the same seats!

Our visit to Buffalo was quick, but a good time. Annika got to spend a lot of times with her grandmas. Her Grandma Kogler babysat while I was at the wedding and reception. Annie also got to hang out with her Aunt Alex and her cousin Maddie. Annie and Maddie hung out and played with their feet. And Annie met Uncle Charlie and Aunt Ellen for the first time.

I say that the weekend was a whirlwind, but now that I think about it, "whirlwind" is a good word to describe our life. We're back home and life is continuing to proceed at break-neck speed. We have come up with a work-day routine. Jim has to wake up at 5:45 so that he can leave the house by 6 so that he can get to work by 7 so that he can leave work at 4 to pick Annie up from day care at 5. I get up at 6:15 so that I can rush around for 90 minutes, trying to get myself and Annie ready for the day. Then I have my 45 minute (plus or minus 15 minutes) commute to work on the highway in rush hour traffic. It seems to be slightly shorter on the way home. I usually get home by 5:30 or 5:45. I feel like I'm constantly running, and yet I never can stay ahead of everything. The house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, the yard needs to be cleaned up for the winter. Weekends seem to go by in the blink of an eye, and we can't even put a dent in all the stuff that needs to get done. Hopefully we'll settle into a routine eventually.

One final note: Annie tried carrots this morning. She made the usual disgusted face when she tried them, but no gagging! I hope this means that she likes carrots. I should mention that carrots are messy! When we got to the day care, she had spit up some on her white onesie (of course I chose white this morning), and her collar was completely orange. I wonder if they stain - probably. We'll try more tonight if there's time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Annika had her 6-month doctor's visit today. She officially weighs 17 lbs, 5 oz. and is 26.25" long, which puts her in the 75th percentile for girls her age. She got 4 shots and 1 oral vaccine today. One of the shots was for the seasonal flu. They had run out of H1N1 vaccine so they're going to notify us when they have that available. She promptly fell asleep about 5 minutes after the shots. I imagine she'll sleep most of the evening. Pretty typical after shots.

I also went to my moms' group today and learned that 2 of the babies in the class have not received any vaccinations at all! Really crazy! The moms are worried about autism, even though, as far as I know, there are no scientific findings linking vaccinations to autism. Apparently there was one paper that came out about it, but since then, it's been completely disproved. I was pretty shocked to hear that they weren't vaccinating their children. It seems to me to be so incredibly irresponsible, and quite selfish from a public health point of view. Their reasoning is that the baby isn't going to get polio or diptheria or whooping cough, so why expose them to the supposed risks of the vaccines? The obvious point that they're missing, of course, is that the only reason why their kids aren't going to get those diseases is because everyone else is vaccinating their kids! It just makes me even happier that Annika has gotten several rounds of her vaccinations. You never know whose kids are going to be the ones that aren't vaccinated and come down with the bizarre disease!

The funny thing is that they were also talking about how hard it is to find a doctor who agrees with their philosophy about vaccinations! Well, duh. Doctors are supposed to advocate for what's best for your child, not just agree with everyone's weird ideas about raising their kids.

In general, I'm totally for letting people do what they want with their lives and their kids. But I really believe that vaccinations are one of those things that everyone has to do, for the good of the public. What would those moms do if their kid gave a newborn baby some horrible disease because the baby was too young to receive the vaccination? That would be unconscionable.

Anyway, Annie will go back for her second flu shot and her first H1N1 shot in about a month, and then her next doctor's check-up is in January at 9 months! Amazing how the time goes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Highlights of the weekend

1) Avocado was Solid Food of the Week. It's very easy to prepare: buy avocado, cut in half, scoop some out, put through food mill, and voila! Annie tried some on Friday. She gagged a lot, but it went better than the squash. I think we're going to try bananas next.

2) We're all fighting yet another cold. I'm pretty sure I picked it up at work this time.  This may be a theme of the winter. The joys of day care/new job.

3) We got 2 Nor'easters this weekend: one on Friday, one today. In between, I pulled out part of the garden. I guess this was a good idea, because we're watching the Pats game now, and it is snowing in Foxboro (20 miles from here)! And it's sticking so much that you can't see the field markers! It is not snowing here in Quincy though. The Pats are playing Tennessee and some of the guys on the Tennessee team are in short-sleeves. Snow was obviously an unexpected turn of events for them (and us too). We probably aren't getting snow in Quincy because of our proximity to the ocean.

4) Solomon got sprayed by a skunk this afternoon. As soon as we realized it, we put him in the porch. Then Jim mixed up a solution of peroxide and baking soda and dish soap and sprayed him with it. It was quite the scene, watching Jim chase Solomon around the porch with the spray bottle. Then we put him in the basement. Unfortunately, a couple hours later, he still smells like skunk. I think Jim's going to have to do round 2 later this evening.

5) Yesterday, we went into my office and decorated. It's going to take a little while for me to get situated though. But at least there are things hanging on the walls now.

All in all, a bit of a three-ring circus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Annie's First Vacation, Part 2

After a visit from the Comcast guy this afternoon, we're back on-line. As promised, here is a pictorial journey of Annie's first vacation to Lake George.

But first, some background. Lake George is a family tradition. We've been doing Oktoberfest at Canoe Island Lodge for about fifteen years. Before that, we stayed at CIL in 1988 and 1993 for a whole week in the summer. Lake George was a family tradition mostly perpetuated by my dad, who loved to go there because of the beauty, the boating, the fabulous food, and the fact that it never changed. He knew exactly what to expect, and he was never caught by surprise. It was one of those rare vacations where he would actually relax and enjoy himself. I remember that he would try to leave Buffalo early on the Friday morning of the weekend so that he could go sailing on the lake before dinner!

It was also a perfect excuse to get the family together. No matter where Laurie and I were, Dad would find a way to bring us all there. While I was in college, he would drive an hour from Lake George to Albany to pick me up at the airport. He performed similar gymnastics to get Laurie to come in from wherever she was. While we were in college, Jim would drive down from Potsdam for the weekend. He was always welcome there, even when we'd only been dating a few months.

Dad died on a Sunday, on what should have been our Oktoberfest weekend of 2007. I don't think it's a coincidence that he died that weekend. It was the time that we were happiest and we were all together. Soon after he died, we thought about how at Lake George they would be right in the middle of the champagne party that they always have on the Sunday of Oktoberfest. Maybe Dad was somewhere, far away, toasting us all with champagne right then. I hope he was.

This year was the first year we went back to Lake George since Dad died. We didn't know how it was going to be. I was excited to introduce Annie to it, but I was very much missing Dad too.

We left Boston on Friday morning. We went the long way, through Vermont, and stopped at a little country store in Brattleboro, Vermont, where we always get lunch on the way to Lake George. After that, we did a quick stop at the Henry Bridge, a covered bridge where we got engaged 11 years ago. We had to introduce Annie to this beautiful place! The fall colors were incredible.

We then headed on to Lake George. We arrived in late afternoon, and Mom and Laurie arrived about an hour later. We had some fabulous food, then we went to bed.

The next day, we brought Annie down to the lake. The fall colors were at peak and were incredible.

Then we went into Bolton Landing, a little town near where CIL is. That's where we did some posed photos on this very large Adirondack chair.  Here's Annie with her grandma:

And here's a photo of me, Laurie and Annie:

The rest of the weekend was dedicated to eating amazing food and enjoying Lake George. Jim, Mom and I went sailing one afternoon. The wind was pretty crazy so they didn't let us stay out very long. Instead, they took us out on a pontoon boat to Canoe Island (CIL owns this island and gets its name from it). They also drove us around the lake a little. 
Here's a photo we took before we left, right outside the lodge. We have a similar photo taken of all of us with Dad from 2005 that is one of my favorite photos.

All in all, it was a good time and it was also a big learning experience. It was challenging to coordinate Annie's feeding and nap times with things going on at the lodge. It would've been even harder if my mom and Laurie hadn't been there to help us look after Annie. 
And, not unexpectedly, the whole experience felt empty now that my dad is gone. Canoe Island Lodge and this weekend in general was his big thing. I missed seeing him enjoy himself so much. But we were lucky to be there and I'm glad we went.

Half Birthday

Today, Annie turned 6 months old! Here's the big birthday girl:

She seems to be still recovering from our "vacation" this past weekend though - she slept quite a bit today. And she has this new issue with taking her bottle - she drinks a couple of ounces and then refuses to take any more. But she will eat lots of cereal. I'm wondering if she's teething and it hurts her mouth to drink. She usually takes 30 ounces in a day; today she took 18 ounces. We're going to call the doctor in the morning just to make sure we shouldn't be concerned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Annie's First Vacation, Part 1

This past weekend was Annika's first real vacation! We went to Oktoberfest at a resort in Lake George, NY that we've been going to for about 15 years. It was a pretty chaotic weekend since we've never vacationed with a baby before! Here is a typical afternoon:

It was a little hard to juggle Annie's naps with our desire to sight see, visit with family, etc. And we continue to be amazed by the amount of planning, packing, and just plain stuff involved with traveling with a baby. But I am not complaining! The trees were at peak color for the fall and were gorgeous. We got to go sailing for a little while, and we got to go on a pontoon boat ride on the lake. Annie (and the rest of us) got to see her Grandma Donna and Aunt Laurie.

Unfortunately, our cable modem is broken at home, which means that I can't post any photos on Flickr or anywhere else until Wednesday. (The above photo is from Jim's iPhone). So that's why I call this post "Part 1." I'll post Part 2 of Annie's vacation later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Good and the Bad

The Good:
  • I have a beautiful, healthy family, and two bad but loving cats.
  • I have a car that runs, despite it having well over 100,000 miles on it.
  • Annie and I had a really nice week with Grandma Kogler here. We miss her.
  • The weather is still relatively warm. The sunshine is golden.
  • The furnace works in our house.
  • Everyone at my new job is amazingly nice and welcoming and they even had a birthday cake for me yesterday, on my first day on the job!
  • I'm having more cake tonight: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, courtesy of my mother-in-law with assistance from Annie. 
  • Tomorrow is my day off.
  • This weekend we're going to Lake George, and I'll see Laurie and my mom. And Annie gets to go on her first vacation!
The Bad:
  • When Jim asked me today what I would like my hypothetical office window to look out on (it's hypothethical because I don't have a window), I said Winthrop Square. I miss my old job. He bought me a large, framed photograph of sunflowers for my birthday. That's pretty nice too. But I still miss my old window at my old office. And a lot of other things at my old office.
  • I'm going to miss my dad at Lake George.
  • I don't recognize my life any more.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eating in Europe

Here is a selection of several meals I had on my travels:

1) Lunch - A 2 inch cube of raw stake thinly burned on the bottom. Four French Fries on the plate.
2) Pigs knuckles (really really good) and a cucumber salad.
3) Wimpy Burger - Yum. I would have named the franchise "Stupid Burger."

Number two was particularly interesting, it was served in a cafeteria for EADS where there was also an women's underwear sale happening simultaneously.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Solid Food

Over the last month, we have been introducing Annika to solid foods. We started with rice cereal, then after a week of that, we tried oatmeal, and then barley. She liked it all. We did one cereal per week. The oatmeal seemed to be the best because it has the added benefit of keeping her regular!

As we head to the 6-month mark, I decided that it was time to try some "real" foods. The pediatrician said that we should try some veggies and fruits before her next visit so we can report on how it went. I've read and heard that it's good to start with orange/yellow veggies first, then green veggies, and then fruits. The reasoning behind this is that the orange veggies are a little sweeter than the green veggies, so presumably more palatable to babies. Then you try the green veggies, and you leave the fruits for last. The reason for this is supposedly if babies have fruits, they will get used to eating sweet things and then won't try the veggies.

While grocery shopping last weekend, I saw the store's nice fall selection of squashes and decided that this would be an easy food to start. I can cook it myself, and then put it through the food mill. I picked up a small acorn squash. Plus, Jim is away this week, so he doesn't have to be around when we try the squash. He HATES squash! :) Apparently he can't even stand the smell. I'm not a big squash fan either, although I don't mind it that much. I am mostly put off by the texture.

I started Annika on squash on Wednesday. She is not a big fan.

I don't know if she just doesn't like the taste, or if she's just not used to the taste and/or texture of the squash.  It's quite different from formula and cereal. The first time she tried it, she gagged and then literally threw up a whole bottle of formula that she drank about an hour before. The next time, I only gave her a little bit. She gagged a little, but swallowed it and there was no barfing. Today, I alternated between spoonfuls of squash and barley cereal. That seemed to work better, but she still seemed put off by the squash. But I guess we've tried it enough now that if there's going to be an allergic reaction, we will see it soon.  I think we're going to try carrots next.

Eventually, I'll have to give her peas. This pains me. While I like eating fresh, raw peas, straight from the garden, I have never liked cooked peas. I'm one of those people who, even now, will eat vegetable soup and leave all the peas in the bottom of the bowl! Perhaps I'll have to go on a business trip during the week when peas are on the menu! :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 2

Another day with Grandma! We went to Isis in the morning for our play group, and Annie got to play on the bouncy giraffe:

Later, she made friends with a muppet:

Later we went to the neighbors' house so that Annie could get foot-printed by the police. (Just for safety purposes!)

Here we are with her footprint card. She has to get it done again in a few months because they couldn't get a good print.

After a nap, Annie played with Grandma and her new muppet friend.

And then, Annie tried some squash. Here she is with a bib that her great-grandma Mac made for her:

It didn't go so well. She had about two bites, gagged, and then threw up not only the squash, but also most of her last bottle. Poor little kid. We'll try the squash again in a few days.

Tomorrow is my last day of work! Pretty crazy. The only thing left to do is finish up and file an appeals brief. I'm sad to be leaving, but I'm also relieved to finally have some stability.

Grandma's Visit!

On Monday, Grandma Kogler came to visit Annika for a whole week! Here is a pictorial summary of their first day together:

They read lots of stories:

They went on walks with the stroller:

They played in the exersaucer:

They tried to talk to Great-grandma McAvoy (but the line was busy):

They had take-out Indian with Mommy:
(those are not horns on my head, they are from the wind chime behind me :) )

 They even talked to Rich Frog:

All in all, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Photo comparisons

Some photo comparisons for you.
First, the Gerber baby:

Then we have Annika, with Gerber baby food all over her face!

Perhaps she will be the next Gerber model.
Then we have Annika in her cradle at 2 weeks old:

And here she is today in the cradle:

(No room for Coco the Sheep now). Pretty remarkable! We can't really see how quickly she is growing until we look at photos like that. She literally weighs 3 times more than she did when she was born, and is 8 inches longer.