Friday, October 22, 2010

A note

Dear Blog Readers,
You'll notice that I haven't written a blog in a while. The truth of the matter is that between this and Facebook, I'm getting awfully tired of monologues. I much prefer dialogs. Is the current "social networking" technology such that we don't talk to each other anymore? We just all post things about ourselves in separate spheres, and then "cyber stalk" all our friends?  At this point, I'm done with that.

I hope that I will come up with another use for this blog in the future. I feel that blogs are successful if they inform the world about something greater than ourselves.  A cooking blog.  A blog about economics. Etc. But, if you want to know how I'm doing or what I'm up to, please call or e-mail. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dad

I would like everyone to take a moment today and remember my wonderful Dad, who died three years ago today. I will always remember the twinkle in his eyes when he smiled, his wonderful sense of humor, and his guiding wisdom. People don't truly die until they are forgotten, so remember him today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clumpy travel

Why is it that traveling happens in clumps? It feels like we either have a month packed with travel, or nothing at all. Maybe the "nothing at all" periods are the times we need to rest up for the month that is packed with travel. Sometimes it really does take weeks to get caught up, it feels.

This month, we had my mom visiting, and my sister had her big flight back from Europe. She made it in safely very late last night, and made it back to her actual home a couple of hours ago. Amazing to be able to call her up and talk to her on the phone! With one exception, we'd had no phone calls since May!

Tomorrow, Jim goes on a business trip to Florida for a couple of days. Leaves at the crack of dawn, as usual. Hopefully Miss Annika will stay asleep.

And next week, Annika and I are off to Buffalo for a short trip, and our third joint airplane ride!

Then, finally, a week later, we have our annual family trip to the Adirondacks - and everyone is traveling for that. Laurie is coming here. Mom may meet us there or may fly to Boston - still figuring that part out. We'll be spending the weekend in Keane Valley ... hopefully lots of fall colors, perhaps some hiking, puzzles, reading, and lots of relaxing. So it's good that this last trip is at the end of everything else. It will be our time to get caught up again.

And, for strictly gratuitous purposes, here's a cute photo of Annika with her daddy:


And a bon voyage to all.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Babyese to English

We have returned from our sooper sikrit tour of Quincy Point to analyze an old species, termed "The Baby," in her natural habitat. We discovered that she has her own language, which we will call Babyese. Here are the first words we have discovered.

Mama = Mama.
Dada= Daddy
Yaya = Annika
Mou = more or "I'm thirsy" or milk or "all done."
Up = up or down
Hi or hi ta = hi or hi there
Buh-bye or bye ta = Bye
No, or nononononono = No
Yesh! = Yes
Ish = Shoe or cat
Meow = cat or the sound a cat makes
Moooooo! = the sound a cow makes
Woo...Woo = dog or the sound a dog makes
Moo = Moon
Row, row = usually sung, the first two words of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
Eyes = eyes or ears
Ouk = Work (as in Daddy is at work)
Boa = Boat
Ace = sheep
Ba = Ball or belly button or balloon
Ca = Car
Vroom! = the sound a car makes
Da = an all purpose word, loosely translated to mean "that." Sometimes used to mean "I want that," or "Look at that!"

We will continue to study this intriguing new language and report back on new understandings that we reach.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Date night

Tonight was date night. And it was a special date night because it was the first one in which we were completely independent - no relying on family for babysitting.  But even that aside, we hadn't had a date night in a long time, and since we finally found a babysitter, we decided to go out tonight.

We drove to Cambridge on Jim's motorcycle. I hadn't been on the bike in at least 2 years. It was fun. It's one of those things that you just can't do with a baby in tow.  Then we had dinner at Legal Seafoods, drove around Boston and Cambridge on the bike to see the sights, and then bowled three rounds at Olindy's. It was really nice to be out. We were gone about 3 1/2 hours.

Annika had a remarkably easy time with the whole situation. When the babysitter first arrived, she did her normal "Mama! Mama!" routine, and I was getting nervous. Additionally, about 30 seconds before the sitter arrived, she had fallen and bumped her head on the table in our porch - so she had the start of a goose-egg/black and blue mark above her eye and was obviously upset.  (Why is it that Annie seems to be the only toddler I see with bruises on her head? Is she the only one who falls? Or do other parents use cover-up makeup on their children?)  So I was really worried that we were in for it.  But then I kissed her good-bye and sat her down with her crayons and our sitter, and she suddenly seemed OK with everything. She said, "Buh-bye! Buh-bye!" over and over again, and waved to us from the window when we drove off on the bike.  Totally unexpected. The babysitter said that she was very happy the whole time, and went to sleep at bedtime right away, without a fuss. Wow.

And, in a sign of how cool our neighborhood is, our neighbor George saw us drive off on the bike as he was walking Buddy the dog. As we drove past him, he yelled, "Where is she?" (meaning Annika, of course). He loves Annika. So he actually stopped by the house shortly after to check in and make sure she was OK. We have really nice neighbors, and they all love Annika.

Tomorrow we are going to a birthday party for the little boy across the street who turned 1 last week. Should be a lot of fun for everyone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day care

Today was Annika's last day at her current day care.  On Monday, she is starting at a new place.  It was a remarkably sad day for me.  I have grown to really like her current day care, and although I really like the new place too, it will be a change in the routine and it's quite a different type of day care. While up til now, Annie has been at a fairly large day care center, we are switching to a family day care - more affordable, and it's also the day care where our next door neighbors go. I was sad to say good-bye to all the women who have cared for Annie over the last year, particularly those in the infant room. It felt very safe there.  I also learned that they have been keeping a little "journal" for Annie since she started, writing a note to her every week or every 2 weeks since she started last September. It made me sad to read it and realize the time that has passed and the love we're leaving behind.  A year ago, Annie wasn't even sitting up by herself yet. She was still exclusively on bottles. Now she's walking and talking!

But I felt better about our decision to switch after we stopped over at the new day care tonight to start getting Annie acclimated. It's a very welcoming place, and the teacher is really, really nice - very nuturing and loving. I have no doubt that next week is going to be pretty hard.  Annie is extremely clingy anyway, and usually made a scene at "drop off time" at the old day care. I'm not sure how much worse it can get, but I worry that somehow it will be. Jim is coming with me next Monday for the first drop off, since I'm going to have a rough time. But I hear that it gets easier eventually.

We also are trying out a new babysitter this weekend. Imagine this - we go out on a date! Seriously! But I'm not sure how Annie is going to do with that either.  She is in such a "mommy" phase right now, where she wants to follow me around and be with me all the time.  In a way, it's sort of flattering, and makes me feel like maybe I'm doing something right, but in another way, it's not good at all. She needs to be comfortable with her surroundings and the people in them, even if they're not Mommy.

Last year at this time, we were going through the big transition from maternity leave into day care.  This year, it feels like we've started all over again in some ways.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This weekend in a few words

Lots of boating
No storm
Hingham Harbor, Boston Harbor, Quincy Harbor, Fore River
Frozen Freddie's ice cream cake
Slides and swings
Looking for rocks
Hand-painted giraffes
Zucchini
Zucchini
Zucchini
Oh, and tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cucumbers too
Lovely visit from the mama mama

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dubious warnings

We slept through the hurricane. I wondered, when I woke up, if we would look out our window and realize that the whole neighborhood had been leveled, except for our house, which wasn't touched. But it turned out that nothing was touched. The sunflowers continue to stand. Our boat is still there - we even took it out for a ride this morning. No one else was boating.  It was windy but beautiful.  Most of the big boats at our marina had been pulled out of the water prior to the storm, which seemed kind of funny. I guess those people have a whole lot more of an investment to lose if the hurricane had actually passed through. I wonder if they will be put back in, or if people will just call it quits for the season.

If that's a hurricane, then I'll take one any day over a blizzard! :) But I think the hurricane actually just passed us at sea.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricanes and sunflowers and airplanes

It is finally the weekend again, and here I am, waiting for my mom to arrive from Buffalo and waiting for Annika to wake up from her nap.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you'll know that Hurricane Earl is heading to New England for a Labor Day weekend visit. Notwithstanding the requisite doomsday predictions, it looks like the Cape and islands are going to get a Category 1 hurricane (the Cape is about 50 miles from our house), and we are going to have a tropical storm up here,  and it'll probably all be gone by Saturday morning. My only concern about our house and yard is that my sunflowers are going to blow down. I have a variety of sunflowers, some of which were volunteers from last year and have been blooming since July.  But I'm growing a new variety called "Honey Bear" that has taken a long time to open. One has opened and the rest are almost in bloom. They are cheerful and cute and unusual and I love them. I hope they survive the storm.

Here's a photo of them so far.

...and, OK, here are some photos of the other ones. I love my sunflowers.


Anyway, my mom was supposed to fly in tonight, at 8pm. Which, of course, is when the hurricane was predicted to arrive.  Last night, I went on the U.S. Airways website and learned that because there was now a weather advisory, Mom could change her plane ticket with no penalty. So she moved up her flight to this morning and should be arriving soon. I was pretty sure all week that she wasn't going to make it in, but she really is going to get here. It's cool. She'll be here til Monday.

Why am I writing this blog instead of driving to the airport? Because Annika woke up with a stomach bug this morning. She is down for a nap right now and I don't want to disturb her. She's been pretty listless this morning. Jim is going to pick up my mom from the airport.  One of my favorite things to do is meeting people at the airport, but at this point, Annika needs to rest. Hopefully she'll feel a lot better after her nap and she'll enjoy seeing Grandma! :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Harvest

All harvested this morning (before the storm):


(Cantaloupe, kousa zucchini, cucumbers, and several varieties of tomatoes). The cantaloupe actually harvested itself - it was lying in the grass this morning when I woke up. I'm assuming that means it's ready?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rendezvous in Albany

On Sunday, we met our aunt and her best friend for a little visit in Albany. We've done this before. It shouldn't have been so complicated, right?

Albany is about 3 hours (or sometimes less) from our house, so it's quite a trip just for lunch. But when you compare it to driving to Buffalo, it really isn't so bad. Aunt D. takes the train in from Buffalo, and that takes much longer. Plus, when your family lives far away, you have to be creative with the ways you get to see them.

But this time around, we had been leaving messages for Aunt D. and had not gotten to speak with her. This was a little worrying, but nothing too out of the ordinary. On Sunday morning, we were 5 minutes away from getting in the car when we got a call from Jim's sister. She said that D. had told her that P. was getting in late the night before, and that they were planning on taking a boat tour of the grain elevators in Buffalo on Sunday. This did not sound promising, particularly since D. had e-mailed a couple of weeks before, saying that she had tried to schedule the train ride for Saturday, but couldn't get good seats so settled on Sunday.  If P. wasn't getting into Buffalo until Saturday night, why was D. looking at train tickets then?  We began to worry that the dates had been mixed up. But we couldn't reach D. at home and couldn't verify that she was still in Buffalo, so off we left for Albany. We were pretty sure that D. and P. were not going to be on the train, but we figured it would be an adventure.

We got lunch in Albany, since we got there at noon and D. and P. weren't scheduled to arrive until 1:45. We kept waiting for the call from D., saying that she was still in Buffalo but not on the train. But the call never came, and at 1:45, we found ourselves at the train station, feeling hopeful. Actually, we got there at about 1:15 and tried to supervise Annika as she ran around the train station for about 30 minutes, using her "outdoor voice" in a very boisterous manner. :) I'm sure all the people waiting to get on the train were praying that we wouldn't be in their car!

The train pulls in a little before 1:45, and low and behold, we watch D. and then P. get off the train! They're here! Yippy! It was quite amazing. We waved from the window of the station. It turns out that they did nearly miss the trip. They got home from the airport late the night before, and P. noticed that D. had messages on her answering machine. Thankfully, Jim had left a message about seeing them at the train station, D. checked her tickets, and realized that the train ride was the next day.

We went back to the same restaurant where we had eaten lunch, and got to visit for a couple of hours before D. and P. had to get back on the train and go home. It was a short visit, but it was a lot of fun. P. had never met Annika before. Annika made sure that P. got to see her belly button. That's important, you know.

Our trip home took 5 hours. Over an hour of this time was spent at the beginning of the Mass. Pike, in completely stopped traffic. About half a mile ahead of us, 3-4 trees had fallen into the highway due to a sudden storm, with rain and high winds. It took a long time to clear them out of the road. Then we hit a ton of traffic in the usual places, as well as a lot of rain and fog.

What an exhausting weekend - it felt like on both days, we spent a good chunk of the day in the car.  And Jim keeps the travel up this week, with a one-day round trip to D.C. tomorrow.  I'll be here at home tomorrow, trying to figure out how to entertain an energetic toddler while it continues to pour rain outside (rare summer Nor'easter since Sunday).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weekend plans

I'm spoiled, but I'm starting to think of Thursday night as the start of the weekend. We have quite a weekend planned. Tomorrow evening, we're meeting friends for dinner at Stone Hearth Pizza Company in Needham. Last time I was there, I had my pizza with fresh arugula tossed on top. It was amazing.

Saturday we are going to Kimball Farm for Jim's company's summer picnic. That place apparently has legendary ice cream (with legendary serving sizes). But I guess they have other attractions too - I've heard about hot air balloon rides, and I guess there's mini-golf too. It's supposed to be very kid-friendly. I'm not sure what we're going to do about Annika's nap, but I guess we'll work it out.

Unfortunately, we're missing the birthday party for the little boy next door who is turning 3. His parents have rented a huge, inflatable "fun house" type thing, which takes up most of their front lawn. They had it inflated when I got home from work. Looks like it'll be a lot of fun (for the kids anyway).

Then Sunday, we are meeting our aunt and her best friend in Albany for lunch - they're taking the train, and we're driving, and we're going to meet there, visit for a couple of hours, and then we all go home. We try to do this once in a while - it's the only way we all can meet for lunch without having to stay over night.

So it should be a great weekend! Plus, my garden is in full harvest mode - tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zucchini. I even have 3 huge cantaloupes, one of which seems like it should be ready to pick soon.  We also made pesto last weekend with basil, parsley and garlic from the garden. I froze most of it so that we could enjoy the garden in January perhaps.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend highlights

Just the highlights:
1) Jim made it home safely from Seattle. He met up with an old friend while he was out there, who he hadn't seen in many years. They just randomly got connected while Jim was out there and then met for dinner. Kind of amazing how coincidences work out like that.

2) Annika officially has a brand new pair of ish (shoes)! And she didn't even throw a tantrum at the shoe store. These are real shoes, with hard soles. She is very proud of them.


By the way, did you know that little girls don't wear brown shoes? Those are for boys. This is what the salesman told us, when I asked for Annie to try on a pair of brown shoes with green details. He brought out a bunch of different pink and purple shoes, which looked ridiculous. Luckily, a female salesperson took over and we ended up with the shoes that Annie has on in the photo.

3) And I know you're wondering what happened to her nose (because absolutely everyone, even complete strangers have been asking): Annie did a face-plant at day care on Thursday and has another big scrape on her nose, just like when we were in Buffalo last time.

4) I trimmed the front of Annie's hair this morning. She won't wear anything in her hair - I have tried to put barrettes in there, and she immediately removes them, and then puts them up to her head. I think she likes them better when they're just near her hair, but not actually in her hair. As a result, her bangs were constantly in her eyes and making her look like the Shaggy Dog. It's just a little trim. The rest of her hair is really too thin to start cutting yet.

Why is it already Sunday evening, anyway? And where is my summer going?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A wild mouse chase

Jim is in Seattle this week for some business meetings. He left the house this morning at some God-awful hour, and in a random act of true localism, our neighbor Dennis happened to be the taxi cab driver. Somehow, Dennis seemed to think that Jim was a sibling of our next-door neighbor, who is also named Jim, and couldn't seem to understand that he was not! The great part is that Jim got Dennis' business card, so if we need a taxi pickup at the airport sometime, we can call him. This will work especially well when my sister flies into Boston at 1am and needs a ride back to Quincy. Most cabbies have no idea how to get to or around Quincy, but Dennis will be perfect.

The drama of the day happened this evening when our cat Solomon brought a mouse into our house. One of the windows in our front porch was open and he was able to squeeze in there with the mouse in his mouth. The mouse was still very much alive. Solomon likes to play with the mouse before he kills it. Luckily, I was able to get there in time to close the front door so the mouse didn't get loose in our house. But there I was, with our neighbor Scott, trying to get the mouse out of the front porch. Annika was next door with Lisa and the boys, yelling "Mama! Mama! Mama!"  She is currently going through a stage where she's obsessed with Mommy.

The mouse finally ran out, but it took some gymnastics. There are a lot of places on our front porch where a small mouse can hide.  I felt like I was in a sit-com. As I walked back outside afterwards, I noticed that this was the second mouse that Solomon had caught today. The first was lying dead next to the hydrangea, with flies all over it. Yuck. We think Solomon is getting the mice from our next-door neighbor's back steps or garage. He is always hanging out there. You'd think that mice wouldn't want to come near our neighborhood, between Solomon and our neighbor George's 6 cats! Let's just say that, knock on wood, I've never had a problem with rabbits or squirrels in my garden!

Tonight I'm going to enjoy a bowl of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (my treat while Jim's away) and probably curl up with a book.

Friday, August 6, 2010

11 years

11 years ago today (right about now), Jim and I were married. Here's our annual anniversary shot:


It's been a good day - boating in the morning, followed by lunch at Byblos, my #1 favorite restaurant. Then there was nap time, and a bit of gardening, and some errands. Tonight we're having a light dinner and then afterward, Annika will probably go out and play with the neighbors, and then maybe we'll go see the cows at the Weir River Farm. Annika loves to blow kisses at the cows.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Scenes from the week

Blowing bubbles with Daddy:


A sudden interest in our chair/step stool:

(And I remember Annie's Aunt Laurie sitting in this exact same stool in the exact same way, 30 years ago).

My gorgeous garden:

From left to right, you're seeing tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe (climbing up a makeshift trellis), beets (mostly hidden), and zucchini/cousa.  

And even a baby cantaloupe:

The weather is amazing today, and after Annie wakes up from her nap, I think we're going to go into Boston for a picnic. I love summer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Elka Delos

My dad would've been psyched.

We went boating this morning, and around the time that we turned around and were heading up the Town River towards our dock, Jim saw that a big ocean liner was creeping slowly into the Town River, to dock on the other side of the Fore River Bridge.

When boating with my dad, he always kept a look-out for ships, freighters and other large boats coming in. You didn't see them that often ... at least, not around Buffalo. There were lots in the St. Lawrence River when we vacationed there one summer. But when we did see one, Dad motored the boat right there so we could watch it come in. I always was interested in finding out where the ship was coming from. We saw many diverse ships when we were in the St. Lawrence - that's not surprising. I remember Dad driving around one particular ship, I think it may have been from Russia, and we were waving at the crew.

So today, we watched the Elka Delos get pulled into the Town River.


It took a pretty long time, and there were several police boats all around it.  At the same time that the boat was coming in, there was also some sort of random regatta heading the other way on the Town River - a bunch of random, large boats all in single file. So it was a bit chaotic on the river and we were listening to the Weymouth Harbormaster on our radio, who was trying to deal with the regatta and make sure they didn't disrupt the ocean liner's path.

Ultimately, they had to raise the Fore River Bridge, and it was pulled into the River by two large tug boats.


The Elka Delos was flying a Greek flag and was from Piraeus, Greece.


I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean that the boat is actually coming from Greece - I know now that this is just where the boat is registered. But I like to think that it has made the big trip from Greece, just to come here, to little old Quincy, MA. :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ice cream and marital harmony

Our ice cream maker broke. We discovered this as we were about to pour in the batter for strawberry ice cream. It wouldn't turn on, and the frozen canister wouldn't fit in the machine. I vaguely recall that the last time I made ice cream, the batter overflowed everywhere and I had to hose off the machine. Jim told me at the time that I had probably killed the machine, since you're not supposed to get it wet. That doesn't explain why the canister doesn't fit, but it does explain the electrical problems. It is 11 years old - a gift from Jim's aunt at our wedding shower. With it, she enclosed a little article about a couple who, whenever they had an argument, would make ice cream as a way to make peace. I kept the little card she enclosed with the ice cream maker - it says "best wishes for a 'sweet, smooth' marriage!"

Is this a bad omen that it broke?? :) No, just a sign that it's time to get another one. I wrapped up the batter, put it in the fridge, and am going to Crate and Barrel this afternoon to get a new one. They're having a sale on Cuisinart ice cream makers.

I don't make ice cream very often, but I always find it fun when I do. It used to be my routine that when I was off from law school, I would make batches of ice cream as a way to keep busy. But I haven't made any ice cream in probably year - probably about this time last year when strawberries were cheap.  I really should be more creative. Our friend has a cookbook with recipes for lavender-flavored ice cream, and other flavors that you can never get at the store. I need to figure those out. When growing my garden, I always strive to plant varieties of veggies that you'll never find at the store, because it makes it very interesting. The same should be true for ice cream.

Random stuff

1) Annika transitioned into the "toddlers" room at day care this week. And the director of the day care was able to get her to wear the flip flops I got her last month. So I guess she's just picky about who puts strange shoes on her feet!

2) While we were out playing with the neighbors yesterday evening, Annika gave one of the neighbor kids a big kiss on the mouth. This is the little boy from across the street who is the same age as her. I guess we start them early here in Quincy. Of course, she also kissed the dinosaur toy in the waiting room at the doctor's office this morning, and she especially likes kissing her stuffed animals.

3) Annika got 2 more shots this morning, but it was much less troubling to her than our trip to the shoe store last weekend. She's getting to be a big girl! 31 inches tall (a growth of 2 inches in 3 months!) and she weighs 23 pounds, 13 ounces. Of course that was after a big pre-doctor breakfast at the Early American in which Annika couldn't get enough of Daddy's corned beef hash. But still. She is now down for a big nap. Doctor's visits will do that to you.

4) Solomon smells like a skunk, again. It's not nearly as strong as the last time he got sprayed. I'm debating if he needs to be sprayed with the bleach/baking soda solution. Last time, it bleached his fur in splotches, and the splotches only just recently grew out. Then again, he took a nap with Zeus this morning and now she sort of smells like a skunk too. So I don't know. He has taken to spending every night outside, which I don't like at all but can't convince him to come inside before we go to bed.

5) I've started to harvest my zucchinis, cucumbers, and 1 pepper. I think the pepper plants are getting eaten by that stupid caterpillar again. It looks like I'm going to have tomatoes soon too - I noticed at least one that is starting to ripen. I also harvested my garlic this week - two of them had new, baby garlic cloves about half-way up their stalks! Pretty cool. I'm going to try to make pesto this weekend with my newly - harvested garlic and the basil I have growing. I've heard you can freeze pesto too. I might try that. How cool would it be to eat pesto in December from my garden? I've also made my first batch of zucchini bread.

6) The turnip pickles I made a few weeks ago came out pretty good. They don't taste much like the ones you get at Byblos, but they're quite tasty, and are definitely that same deep red as the ones at Byblos. Jim won't touch them, but that just means more for me! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shoes (aka: Ish)

Annika loves her shoes, or as she calls them, her "ish." She loves them so much that even before she is out of bed in the morning, she stands up in her crib and points to them, calling "ish ... ish!" She will bring them to me to put on her, wherever they are in the house. She will also helpfully point on my ish's and Jim's ish's, and will sometimes bring at least one of them to me.

Annie loves her ish's so much that she doesn't want to try on any new ish's. Nope, Annie has found the ish's that she is going to wear in her life. No other ish's are allowed on her feet.

Today, we decided to go shoe shopping, since her current ish's are pretty beat up and I thought it would be a good idea to switch her from her current soft-soled shoes to something with a sturdier sole.  Soft-soled shoes are fine in the summer but won't be as comfortable when the cold weather arrives. Also, soft-soled shoes aren't great in puddles. But Annie would not even let us put her foot in the little measuring tool, let alone put new ish's on her feet. She screamed and hollered like someone was torturing her. She cried harder than when she gets her vaccinations (which, I'm sorry to say, she also has coming up on Friday).

We can't figure out why. She had the same reaction when I tried to get her to wear a pair of flip flops a couple of weeks ago, and also when I tried to get her to wear a pair of sandals. Jim thought that maybe she was afraid that we would take her old ish's away when we got the new ones. I wonder if her feet are very sensitive, like her daddy's, and she doesn't like people fussing with them.

So we are scrapping the idea of purchasing shoes that are any different from her current pair.  We'll try again in the fall.  Tonight I went on-line and picked out a pair of Robeez that are as similar to her current shoes as possible. Hopefully she'll go along with those.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Just a weekend in the summer

I would like to remember this weekend next January, in the middle of winter. Don't get me wrong, I'm tired. And it sure is hot. But I can take the heat better than the cold.

Yesterday, my cousin and her husband came to visit, on their way further north for a family vacation in Maine. We walked around Boston, and I even gave them a car "tour" of the Kenmore Square/Back Bay area of Boston (when I got lost trying to find Fenway Park). We had pizza and watched a movie that was surprisingly good, particularly considering that Sandra Bullock was in it.

Today, my uncle and aunt joined us and we went boating! We rode into the harbor, saw the U.S.S. Constitution and the Boston skyline. Then we came back and cooked out on the grill. Later, we went to a party at our friends' house. They just sold their house and are moving out next week. This was the good-bye party for their house. We sat out in the backyard and ate summer food. They had a really nice, comfortable house in the Adams Shore area of Quincy, just a few houses from the Quincy Bay. I miss the house, but I'll mostly miss them once they leave Massachusetts for parts south next year.

Tomorrow we plan on meeting friends at Houghton's Pond for an early lunch, and we may go swimming there and/or in the pool at our friends' new apartment.

I'm very tired! It's been hot (well over 90 each day) and the heat can be draining. And forget about getting chores done. But it's nice to enjoy the summer. It goes so fast.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1461 miles

Here's the trip we took:

View Larger Map

According to Google maps, that's 1461 miles. And that doesn't even include all the little trips we took around Buffalo. I'm tired. Note that the trip was so long that it doesn't fit on the map without clicking and dragging the map around. :) Ha.

But we are now back home and readjusting to normal life. The house looked abandoned when we got back, mostly because our lawn died in the heat. Jim is trying to solve that problem with a irrigation system of sorts. There are lots of hoses, a timer and "zones" involved. Jim also replaced 3 stairs on our back porch last night, after driving for 7 hours. Superman!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Awake early

I'm ashamed to say that I am now the reason that Jim is waking up early, and not Annika. I now usually wake up at about 5:30 and can't fall back asleep. Annie, on the other hand, has taken to sleeping until after 7. This morning, I finally got out of bed at 6:30 and decided I would take a leisurely shower, and have a little quiet time before we start Day 3 of our "vacation."

Annika will add 2 more states to her repertoire after this trip - Pennsylvania and Ohio. I think that means that she'll have been to 9 states as of tomorrow. Pretty cool. I believe I was 7 before I had traveled outside of NY, OH and PA (aside from Ontario).

More importantly, Annie gets to see her great-grandparents tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer day

Today, Annika had her first popsicle. She was a natural at it.  She also went to her first "splash park" (basically, a playground with sprinklers that go on and off). She cautiously stood by the sidelines with a wary eye on the sprinklers, but I think she still had fun. She got a little wet, although that was mostly by accident.


I bought Annie a pair of flip-flops. They are a little too big, and she cries whenever I try to put them on her. She's put off by the thingy that goes between her toes. So she went barefoot, and had no problem with that.

We are getting ready for a big trip west, to Buffalo and Cleveland, for over a week. I always say I'm going to pack up in the days before we leave, but never really get to it until the morning that we leave. But it's always worked out OK. May the travel gods and the nap gods be with us for our trip ...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sox

And now a word from the baby ...


Go Red Sox!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Walmart and Target

Today I did something I vowed I'd never do again - I went shopping at the Walmart in Quincy.  I haven't been there in at least 7-8 years, but I just didn't feel like driving to Dorchester to Target when Walmart is literally about a 5-minute drive from our house, no highways or traffic involved.  But, despite its convenience, it was a mistake to go there.

I've occasionally pondered why I prefer Target to Walmart. They both are based on the same idea - rock bottom prices, big warehouse atmosphere, a little bit of everything you could possibly need in your life.  Jim used to joke that one of the reasons that shopping at Walmart was crazy was the checkout lines - because inevitably, you'd get behind the person who was purchasing a sofa and a bag of potato chips.

Anyway, I have reaffirmed my dislike of Walmart (at least the one in Quincy) and understand why I prefer Target over Walmart.  At Walmart, you walk in, and half the merchandise is on the floor. None of it is organized, and you can't find anything. For example, I was looking at baby clothes. The size listed on the hanger was almost always not the size of the article of clothing. The hanger would say "4T" but the onesie was actually a size 3/6 months. There was no rhyme or reason to the way the clothes were displayed - random clothes were hung up on random racks, all mixed in together, all different prices despite the price sign at the top of each rack.

Additionally, although Walmart has a little of everything, that doesn't mean that it has a good selection of the things you want. For example, I was looking for a board game suitable for a 5-year-old today. They had two appropriate choices, both games she already has. And these two choices were in different aisles, so I had to hunt through about 5 aisles of toys in order to find these two games.

I should say that these aren't problems that I only encountered today. I recall that the last time Jim and I were in Walmart was to shop for school supplies when I started law school (OK, so that gives you an idea about how long it's been since we've been there!). It looked like a tornado had hit the store. In fact, I recall leaving the cart in mid-aisle and running out of the store with Jim. We just couldn't take it any more. 

At Target, everything is relatively clean and always on the shelf. I've never had a problem where clothing was mis-sized or otherwise mis-marked. Target has a remarkable selection.  For example, there is a whole wall in the back of the store with board games, organized according to the appropriate age for the game. There is a section for board games, and a section for card games.  Plus, I sort of think that things might be slightly cheaper at Target, although maybe I was just dreaming.

I don't get it. You could make the argument that you get what you pay for, and that Walmart's lack of organization, sloppiness, and general chaos is the price you pay in return for a cut on the price of the product. Except that Target's prices are just as low (I think), and the whole shopping experience is so much better. 

I'm writing this all down now, so that I don't forget next time. Hopefully my memory will be fresh, at least for another 10 years or so! :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Down on the Farm

On our quest to entertain Annika with animals, today we visited the Weir River Farm in Hingham - about a 20-minute drive from our house. It's a beautiful, sunny day and we brought a picnic lunch. The farm was really beautiful. It's a working farm that is owned by a preservation group that buys at-risk properties all around Massachusetts, fixes them up, and opens them to the public. They grow crops and have livestock. I bought some turnips that had been grown on the farm - I'm going to try to make Lebanese turnip pickles. (Taste much better than they sound, although sort of an acquired taste).

Annie got to see several horses, chickens, goats, an Icelandic ram, two sleeping pigs, and four cows. Here she is, making friends with the four cows, who didn't know what to make of her.


They all lined up and just stared at her. But Annie loved it. She loves all animals. She also got kisses from a horse!

Hope everyone has a happy Father's Day! We'll hopefully be out on the boat tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Playgrounds and other people's kids and movies

Today Annie and I went to the mall, because I needed to pick up a couple of things for the weekend. The mall has a pretty nifty play area. Annie was enthralled. I think she mostly liked watching the bigger kids. Here she is, playing with one of the toys there:

But then this sort of shocking thing happened. Annie was standing up and holding onto one of the benches. Most of the older kids would either ignore her or try to talk to her a little, or sort of quietly play near her. But out of the blue, this little boy, not all that much bigger than Annie but much steadier on his feet, walks up to her, grabs her face, and then pushes her over.  She was very startled and started crying. The other child had absolutely no reaction! And when I came over and told him that it wasn't nice to push over little babies, he just stared at me with an empty expression. His parent was no where to be found.

This is at least the third time that this has happened over the last 6 months or so (the other two times were at a playgroup a few months ago). The other child's parents invariably either don't care or think it's cute. I'm pretty shocked. I would be totally angry and embarrassed if Annie ever did that to another kid. It seems to me that it's never too early to teach your child to be gentle with others.

In other news, I saw Sex and the City 2 last night at this new cinema in Dedham. It was the first movie I'd seen in the theaters since Annie was born.  The movie was disappointing. Really, they should've just stuck to the TV series instead of these painful movies that just emphasize how old all the actors are getting and how there's nothing left of a plot in their story. It was pretty sad. However, the cinematography was quite nice, there were at least 100 different costume changes during the movie, and there were some interesting cameo appearances, such as Liza Minelli.

The theater was an interesting concept - it has large seats, little tables that pull out from the seats, and a dinner menu. They serve the food during the movie. It had some pitfalls - like how they take your order while the movie is going on, and sort of block your view. And the service wasn't stellar. But it's kind of a nice concept. It's a brand new building, replacing the old Dedham Showcase Cinemas, which, from what I heard, was pretty ghetto.

I saw a preview for "Eat, Pray, Love," the movie. I read the book a couple of years ago, and just finished reading the author's second book. Both books were OK - the first was better than the second. It's funny that Julia Roberts is going to play the main character (who is also the author - the book was a true story, memoir type thing), and Javier Bardem is playing the love interest. Not a bad choice in actors.

Time to try being productive and getting things done before Annie wakes up from the nap!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

No green thumbs this year

So far, gardening has been a mixed bag this year.  I planted everything relatively late for me. While I could have put my cold-weather vegetables in at the end of March, I didn't actually get them in until early April. Similarly, I probably could have put the tomatoes and peppers and seeds in earlier than I did. Part of this was difficulties finding the time to do it. Part of this was the knowledge that planting things too early does not necessarily mean that you'll get to harvest early. A lot of times the plants get stunted if the soil is too cold or you get cold weather after planting. In past years, I've just been so eager to get out there and garden that I planted things very early. Although I was happy to get outside, the eagerness to start the garden just wasn't there, at least until I really started working the soil and getting things ready.

Cucumbers, which I've always had an easy time growing, have not been cooperating. Although I planted 12 seeds, only 2 germinated. When I went to put in a second planting, I noticed that many of the seeds did germinate, but the tops of the plants had been eaten. I don't know by whom. Two years ago, I engaged in a losing war with cucumber beetles, but I thought they attacked later, once the plants were more established. I suppose it could be an animal, except Solomon and the other cats on the street chase those animals within an inch of their life. Plus, the leaves are so small that I don't think most animals would be bothered with them. So I doubt it's an animal. The second planting went in about a week ago, and I think I spotted two plantlets, just breaking out above the surface. So we'll see how they do.

The zucchinis have not had stunning growth either, although they all have finally germinated. Zucchinis usually grow like crazy for me. I wonder how it'll be this year.

I'm trying cantaloupe again this year, although this time I bought plantlets instead of trying it from seed. They are still alive but don't seem to be getting any bigger. I've heard they have a long growing season so I hope they start growing! I don't think I've ever had fresh-picked cantaloupe.

Most of my lettuce failed to germinate, aside from some arugula, which has been delicious but has now completely gone to seed, with these pretty white flowers. I'm still waiting for the beets and carrots to come up. I seem to think they take a while to germinate.

The tomatoes and peppers seem to be well-established. There are even some flowers on the pepper plants. The parsley plant is not doing great and the basil seems a little shocked by its new surroundings. I think they'll do better once we get more warm weather.

I just started harvesting peas today. I really should have staked them or trained them on something. They are just all over the place, and it's hard to find the peas when you have to wade through all the stems. I opened up one of my tomato cages and put it next to the peas, so hopefully they'll start growing up that.

I haven't had to water nearly at all. I probably should have watered the lettuce more - I have a feeling that this is why it never came up. But I've been pretty good about watering since I put the rest of the garden in. It's just that I really haven't had to do much since it has rained a lot.

In flower land, all my sunflowers have germinated - I planted four varieties this year, all along the drive way.  One of the varieties, Mammoth, supposedly reaches 12 feet in height. I don't know if I believe that, but wouldn't that be cool? I planted a bed of pansies around the new hydrangea that we planted for Annika. They're doing quite well, as is the tiny hydrangea, which is blooming in purple this year. In between the pansies, I planted more sunflowers (the mammoth variety). I also re-potted my Chinese elm bonsai tree and it is looking much healthier. My lemon tree has a few flowers on it and lots of new growth. It's amazing how well it does once it's outside. It lost a big branch this winter, probably due to spider mites. But it's definitely making a come-back now.

I think it'll be an interesting gardening year, with hopefully some nice surprises and no cucumber beetles!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boating

We all seem to be getting the hang of boating again. Last Saturday, the boat went in the water after well over a year of being on dry ground. We pulled the boat out of the water in October 2008, and did not put it in last summer because we weren't going to use it with Annie being so little.  This year, we were somewhat apprehensive that there were going to be major mechanical issues with the boat that would require very costly repairs. There were some repairs needed, but nothing too bad. We can't forget that this boat is 22 years old, and while my parents took very, very good care of it, it's still very old and the salt water is much harder on it than the fresh water ever was.

So this spring I went through the usual bureaucratic hoop-jumping to get the boat registered - it's pretty amazing how many government agencies need to be involved in that. The boat and trailer are registered with separate agencies, then we have to pay excise tax to the city of Quincy, then we have to get a mooring permit from the Quincy Harbormaster, etc. etc. ... It was harder last time, when I had to get everything registered for the first time, but it's still quite remarkable. In addition, we had to pick out a life jacket for Annie, which wasn't as hard as I was expecting. On-line shopping is pretty cool. Finally, everything was ready.

Last Saturday we did the traditional "shakedown" ride in the boat. There was a tornado watch, but the weather seemed OK and was supposed to get worse as the weekend wore on, so we took it on Saturday morning. We just drove around in the Town River a bit. It is docked in the Town River, literally at the end of our street (we just have to cross Southern Artery to get there). We were happy to see that everything was running well.

Annika was not so happy in her new, yellow life jacket. It is quite bulky, and for safety reasons, covers a good part of her body, including a large strap that fits between her legs and a handle behind her head that would allow us to grab her if she fell in the water.
But she was a trooper and we didn't stay out so long that day.

On Wednesday, Jim decided to go into work late because he had worked late on Monday and Tuesday. The weather was beautiful, so we took our second boat trip.  Not long after we pushed off from the dock, Annie was already asleep and slept the entire boat ride, no matter how many waves we hit or how much I had to move her around. No one else was out on Wednesday and the water was incredibly smooth. We rode out to the Boston Light, which marks the beginning of the harbor.

This morning, we made our third trip, and rode into Boston Harbor and the cruise ship terminal. Annie slept for a good 45 minutes and then was awake and actually pretty happy. She was looking all around, managed to walk around a little even in her life jacket, and got to see a couple of huge ocean liners, a helicopter, several planes taking off from Logan Airport, ducks, and a large group of Canadian geese (including several baby geese). After we came in and were putting the cover on the boat, I felt a few raindrops - we got in just in time. It's been raining off-and-on since then.

So, all in all, a good start to the boating season. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Firsts

This has been a weekend of "firsts" for Annie!

First:
Swim at the beach (We went to Houghton's Pond yesterday)
Molar
Boat ride (Boat is out of storage and runs great!)
First time wearing a life jacket - she's not a fan.
First time standing up without pulling up
... and a few unassisted steps! (albeit somewhat accidental and resembling tripping more than walking really)

And tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that she got her first cousin.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunny Friday

What a day. Wow. The weather was sunny, moderately warm (low 80's), and the sky was clear and blue. Annie and I started the day by going for a walk at Wollaston Beach, which is about a mile or mile and a half from our house. At one point, we stopped so she could get out of her stroller and practice pulling up a bit. Here you can see not only little Annie, but also the Boston Harbor and skyline.


On our way back from our walk, I stopped at the garden store and picked up my veggie plants! It's finally time to plant.  We got back, and after Annie definitively showed me that she would not nap by standing up in her crib and calling out to me, we went outside and I planted some of the plants, as well as some of seeds.

After lunch, Annie finally did go down for her nap. Here she is, fighting her nap by kicking her legs around and smiling, with her ever-present pink blanket ("snuggy"), of course.

 

She did finally fall asleep. Just one nap today, but it was nearly 3 hours long. That gave me a chance to put in the rest of the garden, water, and even weed a little. Here's what I'm growing this year: tomatoes, peppers, parsley, basil, peas, garlic, cucumbers, cantelope, arugula, beets, carrots, and Lebanese-variety zucchini. I've already harvested my radishes - including one that was as long as a carrot! My other lettuces didn't germinate. I don't know why. I have had bad luck with cantelope, so I'm hoping it'll work out this year. I haven't grown beets or carrots in quite a few years. I've been really getting into beet salad, particularly mixed with some goat cheese and arugula, so hopefully the beets will come out OK.

After Annie woke up, I rushed over to the bank because I needed to get into our safe deposit box and the bank closes at 4. Of course, when I went into the safe with the bank teller, I realized that my driver's license was missing. Like, I was completely caught surprised by the fact that it wasn't in my wallet where it always is. So I did not get into the box.  On the way home, I went over my life for the last months to try to figure out where the hell I would've put my license. I really did not want to have to go to the RMV on one of my days off with Annika in tow. Seriously, doesn't that sound like some form of purgatory? I finally figured out that the last time I took my license out of my wallet was when I went to the Bristol County jail to do a "know your rights" presentation with some other lawyers. This was probably 6 weeks ago or so. Anyway, long story short, I went through all my pockets at home and it was in my raincoat pocket, which I had last worn on my trip to Bristol. So there you go. I'd been going about town and taking trips without any identification on me at all. For 6 weeks. Fantastic.

For dinner, we had shells with spaghetti sauce. Fabulous Annika loved it:


And now I'm relaxing a little before our trip up to Vermont tomorrow. Aside from the license episode, it was really a fantastic day, and a great start to the weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wedding weekend

I generally try to get on here at least once a week, but I'm a little behind this week. It's been a very busy 10 days or so. The highlights include a work conference in Worcester, followed by the monthly meeting of my professional organization in which I ran for secretary and won! Then the next day we drove to Buffalo for Jim's cousin's wedding. We were in Buffalo from Friday evening until yesterday morning when we drove back to Boston. Now we're settling back into life.

Here is Annie with her cousin Maddie, Uncle Rob, and Grandma in the pew at the church. Annie insisted on standing in pew the whole time.


 And here are the three of us at the church after the wedding:


Annie did OK on the trip. She tires very easily during these trips, but no surprise there. There's so much to absorb. But she seems to have bounced back pretty quickly. Tonight, for the first time, she is sleeping under a quilt that her grandma made for her; it's her first night without the sleep sack. Let's hope it goes well. Tomorrow is swimming and grocery shopping and a play date.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Recap of a near-summer weekend.

1. Jim worked on Annika's door.


He fit it to the frame, did the mortise work so that the door handle and skeleton key fit, and installed the hinges.  It is now ready to be sanded and stained! Not sure if we're going to go with polyurethane or if we're going to do a stain so that it matches the floor

2. Saturday: we went to a birthday party for the boy across the street, who turned 8.  Annie hung out with the little boy down the street who is the same age as her, and enjoyed a balloon (string tied to her outfit). 



She also won the limbo contest.
 

She also enjoyed the cake. Very much. She wanted more. The cake was in the shape of a soccer field, and had soccer figurines on top. It was made by our next-door neighbor - she is an expert cake decorator.

3. After we went home and Annie took a nap to rest up from that party, we went to a BBQ at the neighbors' house behind us.  We had a ton of fun. Annie got to play with their toys, including a very cool walker thingy that turns into a big wheel toy.

4. Sunday: I did some gardening. That's a fancy word for weeding and preparing the soil with manure and compost so that it'll be in good shape for when I plant in a week or two. There were a lot of tiny maple trees in the garden.  Plus, except for the arugula, none of my lettuce has germinated. So it was time to rake up the soil so I can plant something else there. No room to spare in this garden.

5. For lunch, we did a picnic and a little walk at Houghton's Pond.  Annie is working on standing up by herself and she was starting to get brave this afternoon.


After lunch, she went on the swings (her all-time favorite activity)!

 

6. Then we came home and cleaned up the house and got ready for the week.  A great weekend!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

13 months

Miss Annika is 13 months old today!


We had a fun evening outside with the neighbors. Annie has a new lion "walker" that she is just learning how to walk behind. It is much more fun to play with it outside, since there's not a whole lot of open space in our house for walkers. The neighbor kids enjoyed playing with the lion too. We also got to see Draco, who is a big dog (I think he's a rottweiler mix) who lives 2 doors down and is owned by our neighbor George. Annie loves Draco! He is a nice, gentle doggy and sometimes he gives Annie kisses.

Tomorrow we are going to another birthday party - the boy across the street is turning 8. We've been to a lot of birthday parties over the last month. I'm just glad that it's the weekend; time to get our lives in order before 2 weekends of travel - next weekend to Buffalo for a wedding, and the following weekend to Vermont to visit friends and a brand new baby.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11

Fifteen years ago tonight, Jim and I had our first date. We went to the Acropolis, and no, it wasn't the one in Greece. But it was the restaurant on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. I was 18.  Fifteen years from today, I will be 48 and Annie will be in high school. If we lay out life in fifteen-year increments, it suddenly goes by very quickly. I shouldn't do that.

Tonight we had a very quick dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, La Paloma, in Wollaston. It was a quick dinner because Annika was tired.  Daycare thinks she's ready to only take one nap a day. I think she's ready too, but when she does take that one nap, it needs to be for more than 45 minutes. (I think there's too much activity at the daycare for her to be able to sleep longer than that, unless she's really super tired). Daycare doesn't seem to understand this, so by the time she comes home, she's exhausted. It's frustrating to not entirely be in control. I guess I need to get used to it.

Tomorrow is a day of swim lessons and grocery shopping and hopefully a nice walk with the stroller to a park with swings.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day weekend

Happy mother's day to all the moms out there. Hope you had a wonderful day.

Aside from the obvious gifts in my life (my beautiful Annika and my handsome Jim), I got an unexpected present today too. I got to sleep in until almost 8am this morning. Why is this? Because Annika decided to sleep that long! I don't think this has ever happened before. She must've known that today was a special day! Jim is grilling kabobs for dinner tonight - for anyone who hasn't tried grilled pineapple, you need to do it as soon as possible. It is so good.

It's been a really nice weekend. Now that Jim is done with his class, we are starting on some of the home projects that have been building up over the last year. The first project is to put a door on Annika's room. Several years ago, we decided to get rid of the door to her room. It had been damaged when we refinished the floor in that room, and honestly, it was just garbage. Really, all the outer doors on the second floor are garbage. The closet doors are beautiful, original, paneled doors. But for some reason, one of the prior owners decided to get rid of the matching outer doors, and replaced them with the cheapest hollow doors they could find. The closet doors continue to be beautiful, despite the fact that they are 90 years old. The outer doors, perhaps half the age of the closet doors, have just gone downhill.

So yesterday, Jim bought a solid, paneled pine door from our favorite home improvement store, and is now working on hanging it - not as easy as it sounds. He has to fit it to the door frame, attach hinges, install hardware (such as a door knob), coat it with polyurethane or a stain, and then hang it. He has done the first two things on the list and will continue working on this over the week. Good thing for all those wood tools. :) It should be beautiful when it's done.

Other projects? Replace part of the ceiling in the porch, strip and refinish our rocking chair, replace some wood in the garage and paint it, plus the usual gardening, and possibly replace the attic windows. I think it'll keep us busy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quincy

Saw this in the Boston Globe today. Some nice (if somewhat non-descript) photos of Quincy, with a little commentary.

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/quincy/gallery/WhydoyouloveQuincy/

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!  I spent this evening at a book launch/reading for a friend from the immigration law community. It is her debut novel - Try to Remember. I got my copy signed, of course. The party was at the Old State House, which is this old brick building, built in 1713, which was the seat of the colonial government and later the seat of the state government, and even later, the seat of the local Boston government. The Boston Massacre occurred right outside the Old State House. According to Wikipedia, it is the oldest public building in Boston. I used to walk by it almost everyday on my way to and from the Immigration Court, but I had never been inside. It is very beautiful inside, with ornate fireplaces and wide floor boards and a spiral staircase with sturdy wooden railings. It had exhibits with a lot of artifacts from the Revolutionary War era. I need to go back and look at all the exhibits some time, maybe with Annie.

Walking through Boston tonight, down the streets that I used to walk down everyday, I felt happy to live in such an interesting, old, vibrant place. I also felt sad that I no longer work in downtown Boston. I really, really miss it. Whenever I go there, I feel at home.  I hope that someday I'll be able to work in downtown again.

Today, I found a playground with swings for Annie! About a mile from our house is the public elementary school, Clifford Marshall. It's a nice walk - you can go the main way, which goes along Washington St. and Southern Artery, both major streets. Or you can go through the residential streets, which I prefer. It was nice to see everyone's azaleas in bloom. But I digress. At the Clifford Marshall school, there is quite a nice playground out front, and there was one baby swing. Annie got to swing for a few minutes, which made her quite happy. The elementary school kids were out playing, and several wanted to push Annie in the swing. It was cute. They were generally pretty gentle with her. There are also slides and other jungle-gym like things, but Annie isn't a big fan of the slide at this point, so we just stuck with the swing.

All in all, a diverse day. Annie's swim lesson in the morning, followed by the usual grocery shopping, our walk in the afternoon, and finally, my adventure in downtown. Time to turn in for the night!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crazy Saturday

1) Annie got her first pair of shoes (that actually fit), and wore them around for a good part of today.

2) Annie used sunscreen for the very first time, when we went to a birthday party for our neighbor, who turned 1 today.

3) We have to boil all water coming out the tap until further notice. Yikes. There was a rupture in a major pipe that brings water from the Quabbin Reservoir to Boston, and the governor made an announcement that our tap water is not suitable for drinking, washing dishes, or even brushing teeth. Click here for an article about it.  Good thing we've been feeding Annika cow's milk! They're advising people to only use pre-mixed formula for babies. I would imagine there's been a run on that at the store, along with bottled water.

Tomorrow we're off to Jim's grad school luncheon. He was told that he's getting an award, but we don't know why! Details to follow.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Playgrounds

It's another Friday, and another day of amazingly gorgeous weather. There's no better time to hang out at the playground!

We had a playdate/lunch date in Somerville today with a friend and her 3-year-old. And although I believe Annika has been on the swings at daycare, this is the first time that I've seen her on the them. She was in heaven!!


Why is this the first time I've taken her to a playground? I need to find one near our house. But notice the socks? I guess it's time to find Annie a pair of shoes. Socks don't work so well at the playground. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday season

I hereby declare birthday season to be over. And now for the recap...

First, we had a party at Dedham Health and Athletic for the babies in my "Next Step" moms' group (the group that I still keep in touch with fairly regularly).


 On Annie's actual birthday, both Jim and I had the day off and we had our own little celebration - cake, ice cream, and a cookout on the grill. Here's Annie with her yummy chocolate cupcake from Fratelli's!


Last weekend was Annie's official birthday party. We had about 35 people (including 12 kids) over for pizza, cake and ice cream. All the neighbors came, and Annie's grandmas and great-aunt came to visit from Buffalo. In the below photo, Annie has her "Sabres Fan" bib on, and the neighbor boys are "helping" her open her presents. Our neighbor, George, is pictured too:

 
Finally, we just got home from the last birthday party. This one was for my Great Beginnings new moms' group. It was the first group I joined, and Annika was 5 weeks old at the beginning of it. All the babies in the group were born within a month of each other, and I hadn't seen any of them (with one exception) since last July. Pretty interesting to see all the babies as 1-year-olds, and to see their moms and dads operating on a whole lot more sleep than last summer!


It's been a fun few weeks. And just when we think we're actually seasoned experts at parenting, it's time for the next round of changes - no more bottle, no more formula, and we're nearing the end of the sleep sack. Whoosh! A year later, and we're back at the bottom of the learning curve! :)

Weekend

What a great weekend! Our weekends seem to be jam-packed these days, and this weekend was no different.

On Saturday morning, we decided to drive up to Freeport, Maine to go to the L.L. Bean store and the outlets up there. We didn't actually buy anything at LLBean this time around, but I did end up at the Oshkosh store. We don't have one near our house, so this was my first time inside. Really adorable stuff, and quite reasonably priced. I got a couple of pairs of summer overalls for Annie, of course. :) I need to go back in the fall, once I know what size she'll be then. I'm sort of a sucker for babies in overalls. :)

Last night, after getting back from Maine, Jim cooked out burgers on the grill, and then we went next door for dessert. They had everyone over, and Annie got to hang with all the neighbor kids.

This morning, we met up with friends for a morning walk in the Arboretum, one of my favorite places in Boston, or really, in the whole world. I love it there. An added bonus was that all the lilacs were in bloom!! Everything is early here this year. Usually, the lilacs don't bloom until around Mother's Day. After a nice walk, we went home and tried to convince Annie to a) eat lunch and b) take a nap. Not much luck on either front, although she finally went down for a nap about 45 minutes before we had to leave for the final birthday party (which I'll talk about in my next post, above). But she actually did fine at the party. She got cake and ice cream and fresh fruit.

Now she's in bed and Jim's writing his paper and I'm going to go read - I just got the new Liz Gilbert book, Committed, and it's quite engaging so far. A nice end to the weekend. Wish they came more often. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just for comparison...

Can you believe it? Here was Annie exactly one year ago today:


She was still in the hospital, and had a feeding tube in her nose, because we couldn't get her to take 30mL (1 ounce) of milk every 3 hours.

And here she is today:


If we've made that much progress in 1 year, what will she be like one year from today??

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Will photos always be immortal?

Last night, I finally sent Annie's "first year" picture book to the printers. From the computer screen, it looks beautiful. I hope it'll be as nice when I receive the actual thing.

I wonder how digital photography will withstand the test of time. It's such a different medium than anything we've had before. The big difference is that people aren't printing their photos very much anymore. Jim and I have a goal of printing out a "yearbook" every year - a bound book with all our photos from the year. It should be a much more efficient way to print out our photos. But I wonder how that will be later. What if we want to pull out one photo from an album to show someone? What if there's one photo that I take a liking to later, and want to print out a copy, or even an enlargement to frame? I guess I'm in luck if I can still find the digital file. But will we still keep all our digital files for years and years?

Think about it. How many old photo negatives do you have? (I actually have quite a few, including some from about 100 years ago, but that's another story). I worry that it will be burdensome to save all the files over time, because it's a technology, not a photograph that you can hold in your hand. Technology gets old. Will these files stand the test of time, or will we have to keep transferring them into the next technology, sort of like those old films and videos from our childhood? I keep meaning to get our wedding video transferred onto DVD, but it's such a hassle. Will that be the same for our digital photos?

I have photos from 130 years ago. They have lasted this long. Some of them are printed on tin and are thus pretty scratched. Most are faded, and I don't know who everyone is in all of them. But they made it. Sure, I've scanned in all those photos so they'll "survive" in the new medium too. It's much easier to share them that way too. But I wonder if in the end, those hard copy photos will outlast digital too. They've outlasted slides and video and every other technology.

I guess the answer is to be sure to print out those photos, even if it's just in book form. Embrace the new technology, but be a little wary of it too. And I'll probably keep a little photo album of a few hard-copy photos too, just my favorite ones, so that maybe someone else will be looking at them in 130 years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Highlights of the party

1) There was a lot of pizza and cake. We still have a lot of pizza and cake leftover. Annie likes pizza and cake.  And whole milk - lots of it.

2) One of the neighborhood kids, who I didn't know before today, crashed our party. It was kind of funny. He just played with the other kids. Including him, I believe we had 12 kids total.

3) I'm glad we waited to buy Annie toys and clothes for the spring until after the party. :)

4) We live in this awesome neighborhood where everyone looks after everyone else. Our whole neighborhood was here today. They are just wonderful. Click here for a very short video from when we were opening gifts.

5) I didn't take a lot of photos. Too much going on, and I was holding Annie for a large part of the party. But other people took photos, and they'll share with me soon.

6) Annie is a whole year older! She has made so much progress, especially over the last month! I can't wait to see what's next.

Party To-Do List

April showers bring May flowers, so based on our weather today, we should have some pretty nice May flowers! Yes, it is party day and it is raining. And there will be 12 kids and their parents at our house this afternoon. And the kids can't go outside to play. Ack. Actually, this is almost the same as our Halloween party, and it went great.

On our "to-do" list is to take inventory of our paper products. Several years ago, we got about a zillion paper plates as a wedding anniversary present, because that was the anniversary in which you're supposed to receive "paper." We never used up all the plates, and now here we are, probably 7 or 8 years later, with the same plates in our pantry. So, if they're not already used up, I think we'll use them today.

We also need to pick up the cake from Fratelli's. We got a half-and-half cake, half chocolate, half vanilla, with chocolate frosting. We could order a cake that served 20-25 people, or that served 40-50 people. We got the larger cake, but we'll probably have a lot of leftovers. But, in the past, leftover cake has frozen well.

We also (finally) need to buy a baby gate for the stairs. On Thursday, I put Annika in her room to play while I showered. When I finished showering, I opened the bathroom door, and she was sitting right outside the door. About a foot from the stairs too. It looks like there are about a hundred different types of gates you can get. I just want one that I don't have to keep putting up and taking down all the time. I've seen ones that stay in place, and then there's a little door that you use to enter and exit the room. We need some of those.

As I write, Annika is scooting around on the floor, carrying around a wine bottle cork that she found in the recycling bag. It's very counter-intuitive what will keep her interested and happy!

And to end, I'll leave you with a photo from her birthday:


We can tell that she already likes the "cake" part of having a birthday!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1 year birthday

Today, Annika is one year old!!! It's a bright, sunny, spring day.

A year ago, I was still being monitored. I had talked the nurses into allowing me to eat something, and around 7am, I had a veggie and hummous sandwich - really, I didn't care at that point. I just wanted to eat anything. We were told that we would be discharged at noon so we were waiting, waiting, waiting ... I had to go to Immigration the next day for an interview, and called my office to say that I would be in the next day, and asked someone to prep the client for me. I called my mom and said that we'd be leaving the hospital soon.

But we were getting mixed signals from the hospital. The nurses seemed to think we were leaving at noon. However, whenever a doctor would come in to check on me, he/she seemed concerned about the pattern in which Annie's heart rate would drop whenever I had a contraction. I wasn't sure what this meant. Would I have to sit and be monitored forever? What about my hungry stomach?

At 10:30, all doubts about my staying at the hospital were dispelled. I was sitting in bed, talking to Jim, when Annie's heart rate number literally dropped in half. I wasn't sure I was understanding the number correctly, so I put on my call light and asked the nurse to come in. The next thing I knew, the room was filled with doctors and nurses. There was a anesthesiologist looking down my throat to see if he could put a tube in. They put me on my side and put an oxygen mask over my mouth. Annie's heart rate came back up, but I knew that I would not be leaving the hospital any time soon.

Over the next hour, the doctors tried to figure out what to do with me. For a while, they considered making me stay long-term for monitoring. They spoke with a senior doctor who said that, given that I was at 35 weeks and the baby would probably be a good size and would survive, it was time to deliver the baby, and the delivery would have to be by C section because Annie was not tolerating the contractions. The risk of leaving her inside, without knowing why her heart rate was dropping, and without knowing the status of the placenta, was too much. They told us their decision, and we agreed, pretty shell-shocked. We spoke with the NICU to find out how difficult this was going to be for Annie. It sounded like there could be complications, but she would probably be OK.

They gave Jim scrubs, prepared me for surgery, and wheeled me into the operating room about 20 minutes after they told us that they had to deliver the baby. That's how fast it was. Annie was born at 1:26pm:

Annie spent the next 2 weeks at the hospital, but she recovered relatively quickly. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Here's the birthday girl (and her daddy) today:

Happy birthday to our big girl!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday prep

For Annie's birthday, I asked all the relatives to bring a photo of themselves when they were 1 year old (or so). The hope is that I can then scan all the photos and put them in Annie's "first year" photo book. I also want to add copies of them to this poster, while we'll use as a decoration at the party on Saturday:


I'm lucky enough to already have a lot of photos from my side of the family. Of course, a couple of the older photos are not necessarily of 1-year-olds .... I believe my grandma and Aunt Betty were probably 2 or 3 in those photos, and my dad and Grandma Betty were slightly younger than 1 year in their photos (I think they were both 10 months). But close enough. You do with what you can get.

I'm not a very creative person and the birthday party will probably not get Martha Stewart's approval, either for decorations, fun little games, or food. But this piece will be a little different than most first birthday parties, I think, so who cares what Martha Stewart thinks! :)

One year ago...

One year ago, at lunchtime, began Annika's birth story. It's amazing how much can happen in 1 year. So let's see, a year ago this morning, Jim and I went to look at a day care in Marina Bay. Then Jim dropped me off at work. I was supposed to have a hearing at 3:30, the end of a very long, contentious asylum case. This hearing was the last one I accepted before my maternity leave - I had decided that April 15 would be the cut-off day. I would request a continuance for any hearing beyond that date.

I worked through the morning, and then stepped out to pick up a sandwich at my favorite sandwich shop, Cosi. They have one sandwich there that literally got me through my first trimester - it was one of the only things I could stomach. I was supposed to meet with my boss after lunch to discuss my maternity leave. Since I had announced my pregnancy, my boss had been telling me that they didn't know if they would be able to take me back after my maternity leave, but would try to keep me around until I had the baby. So this would've been an interesting discussion. I was not expecting Annie for another 5 weeks. My baby shower had been 1 week before, and gifts were strewn all over the room that would become Annie's room. Jim was putting the finishing touches on the cradle.

Coming back from lunch, I was crossing the street and a car was coming. The car stopped to let me pass, and as I stepped off the curb, somehow I lost my balance and fell into the street, right on my stomach. I stood up, brushed myself off, and realized that pregnant women aren't supposed to fall like that. In fact, I had been terrified of falling all winter, and had bought special clamps to attach to my winter boots, so I wouldn't slip on the ice. The gravity of the situation sort of came to me in slow-motion. I walked back to my office and called Jim, and then I called the doctor and they told me to come in right away for monitoring. I asked my boss to cover my hearing, and then I took the T to the hospital - it was two stops from where I worked. I still had my lunch in hand. I figured I could eat it at the hospital. I was wrong about that.

The monitoring that was supposed to only last 4 hours extended to 8 hours, then 12 hours. I was having contractions (although I couldn't feel them). Each time I was nearing the end of the monitoring period, Annie's heart rate would drop dramatically. The doctors also began to notice a pattern in which Annie's heart rate would drop during a contraction. They didn't know what was going on. They decided to admit me and have me spend the night. Here's a photo of Jim I took at the hospital, as I was being monitored:


It's so obvious from this photo that we had no idea that we would become parents the next day!

And that is what happened a year ago today. Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of the story!

Coming back to the present, I've been sick this week, fighting a throat infection that has had a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. I started the antibiotics yesterday. I hope I'll be feeling somewhat like myself again by tomorrow, so that I can celebrate Annika's birthday. I'm really tired of lying on the couch, but there's not much else I can do. I'm glad we decided to keep a couch in our porch - it's so nice out there in the afternoon, with the sun and the sounds of the neighborhood all around. It's the perfect place for a cat nap, especially if a cat joins me for the nap! Let's hope for good weather and good health this week.