Friday, April 30, 2010


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! :)


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.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fly Me Away

Lately, Jim and I have been addicted to this song:

It's "Fly Me Away" by Annie Little, and currently is the music for the commercial for the Kindle. We also like the commercial, but the song is very catchy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's party time

Let the celebrations begin.

The magnolias and daffodils are in bloom and there are tiny leaves on the trees. It must be almost time for Annika's birthday! (I remember coming home from the hospital and feeling like spring had suddenly arrived while I had been in! Everything was suddenly in bloom and it was amazing). We have 1 birthday party per weekend for the next 3 weekends. How cool is that? Tomorrow, we are going to Dedham for a birthday celebration for all the babies in the second new moms' group that I joined (and the one in which I'm still in touch with all the moms and babies). Imagine a birthday party for 10 babies, all turning 1! That will be tomorrow.

Next Saturday is Annika's actual birthday party. We invited some family, all the neighbors, and some other friends. I believe there will be 11 kids coming to the party, not counting Annika. Should be interesting. :) Hopefully the weather will be nice.

And lastly, we will have a party the following weekend for all the babies in the first new moms' group that I joined - back when Annie was only 5 weeks old! I haven't seen most of these people since last summer, so it'll be interesting to see how everyone turned out. It seemed like in that class, all the babies were a lot bigger and more advanced than Annie.

Birthday season is going to be exhausting, I think.  We'll want to do this:

But mostly, it'll be fun.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


What an amazing weekend. The weather was out of this world. Sunny, blue skies and 80 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. It is amazing how more hopeful about life and the world I am when the weather is nice. Yesterday, we got a ton of things accomplished. The house is actually somewhat organized. All of my cold weather seeds are in the ground (radishes, peas, and 4 kinds of lettuce). I have gained control of the laundry situation again.

Today we relaxed. Annie took a monster 3-hour nap this afternoon - I kept checking on her to make sure she was still breathing. I took a nice nap too. :) We also prepared what turned out to be a pretty nice, if unconventional, Easter meal. We had shish kabobs - Jim cooked lamb for himself, and I marinated portabello mushrooms for me and our friends, who call themselves "flexi-tarians" (but generally do not eat meat). We also had tossed salad, grilled flatbread with hummous, and our friends brought a grapefruit tort type thing, that was quite yummy. We ate in our backyard. No kidding. On Easter!

The weather is supposed to be warm all week. I'm sad that the weekend is over, but glad that it's spring and we have lots more to look forward to.


Happy Easter!

Annika and her mommy and daddy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ikea to the rescue??

Today, as I watched Annika pull things off our TV stand, I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and do some child proofing. Up until this point, we've been able to manage just by placing things out of Annie's reach. But as she gets more mobile, it's getting to be more difficult to do that.

Along comes Ikea. Neither Jim nor I have been big Ikea fans. We felt that it was a good option when you're in college, have no money, and don't care about the quality of what you're buying because you'll just throw it out in a couple of years anyway. But once you're beyond that, and if you're like me and find it hard to throw away anything, it doesn't work. Plus, the lay-out of the store always stressed me out, particularly when there were 2 zillion people there. Most people disagreed with our assessment of Ikea. Back before there was one in the Boston area, a good friend of mine used to travel back to New Jersey, where she was from, just to do an "Ikea run" (and visit her parents). But I also remember using an Ikea water glass at her house and having the thing crack in my hand.

And yet we found ourselves today at Ikea. The truth is that we don't have a budget for new furniture, and our TV stand needed to be replaced. Badly. Like, it should've been replaced a looooong time ago. And it's completely un-childproof-able. It's completely open and Annika could reach in and toss our DVD player on the floor anytime she felt the urge.

The store is about 30 minutes from our house, off of Rt. 3, so it's not like it was a huge investment of time to go there. We were very pleasantly surprised. We picked out the TV stand we wanted right away. It comes with doors that lock - perfect for child proofing. And the price was remarkably low. Then we got lunch at their cafeteria, and sat at this table next to a window with the sun pouring in. Annika even enjoyed a meatball and some mac and cheese. Here she is in the cafeteria, in her ultra-modern, Ikea high chair, playing with my empty bottle of "sparkling pear juice":
I was amazed at how child-friendly the whole place was. They have special "family friendly" parking, and they actually sell jarred baby food in their cafeteria. They also have a pretty nice-looking play area (for kids a little older and more mobile than Annika).

In addition to the TV stand, we picked up a Puong chair for my office at work (I need a more comfortable chair for reading cases and such), and a little wooden toy for Annie, as an Easter gift (since the whole Easter basket doesn't work so well when you can't eat candy or chocolate yet). I was amazed at Ikea's wooden toys for kids. They have whole train sets, like Jim had as a kid, and they are amazingly affordable. Solid wood too.

Jim assembled the TV stand this afternoon. It looks great, and everything is so organized inside. We should've done this a long time ago. I'm just amazed at how easy it was. Usually it takes us months to purchase furniture, and it's a painful, hassle-ridden process (ie: read my prior posts about our crib purchase). I guess, in the end, it's all about motivation, and then sometimes you just get lucky.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter traditions

It's Good Friday, and today we were supposed to be in Buffalo and heading to Cleveland to celebrate Easter with my grandparents. Because we had to go into Buffalo last month suddenly, we couldn't make the Easter trip. It was certainly the right decision to go into Buffalo last month, but I'm sad that we're spending Easter by ourselves and not with my grandparents and mom. Growing up, we often went to Cleveland for Easter and I have nice memories. It's a good opportunity to visit family.

So this weekend is about finding our own "traditions," a common theme during our time here in Boston. The question, of course, is whether we should try to duplicate what we ourselves did while we were growing up, or whether we should just go with the flow and create traditions out of whatever happens. In some ways, I think it is impossible to duplicate old family traditions, because it's impossible to repeat things that have already happened with people who are far away or gone all together.  But I suppose there are some things we can duplicate - the Easter basket, dressing up in nice clothes, a nice dinner, perhaps going to a church service of some sort.

In a way, our "tradition" for Easter when we spend it in Boston has been pretty low-key. I'd have never believed it when I was a little kid, but when you're an adult, the Easter Bunny doesn't have the same allure! And going out and buying a frilly dress to wear to Easter mass and brunch just doesn't happen. But now we have Annie, so perhaps some of those traditions will come out of hiding. It's as if there's a clean slate at the moment, since we haven't ever done anything special for Easter when it's just been us in Boston. It's imposing. At the moment, we spend just about every holiday there is in Buffalo, so we don't have a great track record of creating our own traditions. That's going to have to change as Annie gets older, so I guess Easter is a good start. I don't want the only tradition she knows to be getting in a car and going somewhere else.

We are having friends over for dinner, and this is the second year that we've had dinner with them on Easter. Last year, Easter dinner was my last real meal before I had Annika. I went into the hospital the next day. I remember coming home from the hospital the following Saturday and still seeing the cooling racks on the counter from when I had made cupcakes for Easter dinner. It was a bizarre experience, because it seemed so long ago. This year, I think we're going to cook out shish kabobs on the grill.

Today the weather is going to be beautiful. I'm hoping to get outside with Annika, and I'm also hoping to put together a little Easter basket for her.