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! :)