Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

As you can see by the new blog picture, Henry met Santa (or "Ho Ho" as he calls him). He did really well with the whole thing. He actually got even more excited when he spotted the Santa on the flag in front of Santa's shed and also the Santa hanging on the wall behind actual Santa.

He also met Santa at Valley Hospital, thanks to Grandma Pat Pat. We tagged along with her to the holiday event for work and got to see Santa there. We have a physical photo that I'll have to scan to put up online, it's pretty cute too.

Monday, December 12, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

*I've been trying to get Blogger to post this since Monday!*

Well, we have finally moved our belongings into the new house! I'm not going to post any pictures just yet as the house is basically a giant collection of boxes that need to be unpacked. But have no fear they are coming! (I want to do some before/after pictures because the changes are amazing.)

We moved everything on Saturday. Thankfully we had help from Eddie's family (both physically moving and watching Henry) and our friend Meredith, who came to keep me company and help unpack boxes while the boys packed and unpacked the vans from storage. Meredith and I jammed to some Broadway CDs while unpacking the kitchen and laughed at some of the random finds in the kitchen boxes (like a framed picture from Eddie's HS prom!).

I am really excited to get everything in its place. Right now the downstairs bathroom is the only "finished" room in the house and it looks amazing. I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Just have to find some appropriate wall art and it's truly done.

We will be hosting our first guests this weekend! Thankfully we have the guest bed put together and it utilizes the downstairs bathroom so they should be all set. I am excited for their visit and for our adventure in dining to Aldo's with them and some friends. Sooooo very tasty. I will be salivating over it all week!

Other than the house, things are going on as usual. Eddie has been busy reffing and Henry and I have been busy with things like swim class and talking about Santa. He can definitely recognize Santa when he sees him on TV, in books, in front of people's houses, etc. He makes the motion like saying Ho Ho Ho, with his hands on his belly, but doesn't make a sound. It's pretty funny. We saw Santa at the mall (didn't have a picture taken, just walked by him) and he got really excited.

He's also starting to get excited about Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. We hadn't watched it but he would pull the VHS off the shelf and point to Buzz. I'm not sure why he picked him over Woody or anyone else on the cover but he now gets excited to see him. Toy Story 2 was on TV yesterday so I put it on a for a few minutes and he recognized Buzz right away. He still gets excited about Mickey Mouse and a few other Disney characters. This makes Eddie and I really excited about bringing him to Disney World next month.

Running continues though we are now hitting the point where we will start to taper our distances a little. I'm not sure the science behind this (I'll have to google it) but it's weird to think I probably only have one or two more long runs to do before race day.

I think that's about all for now. I'm hoping to have some house pictures to post by later this week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ridgewood Concert Band

The ensemble that I play in has a concert tonight. I found out that they will be live-streaming it on the internet. So if any of you (not sure who actually reads this) are interested in watching our concert tonight, you can go to www.westside.org and then click on the "Videostreaming" link - it's the fourth one on the left side. The concert will be broadcast live starting at (or around) 7:30. There is a local high school playing a "prelude concert" for about a half hour so our programming should start around 8.

My favorite piece on the concert is Grainger's Children's March:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: El Ocho

Okay...it's not Tuesday and this list does not have ten items...so it's the Wednesday Ocho edition.

My recent trip back to Virginia last month got me thinking about all of the neat places in commonwealth that I liked to visit. In no particular order, I give you:

El Ocho: Places To Visit in VA

Westmoreland State Park
(Website: http://dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/wes.shtml)

My parents and I spent a lot of time camping at this park while I was growing up. Besides a nice campground the river beach is fantastic for long walks mostly because of the cliffs that run along the shoreline. The Horsehead Cliffs have fossils including shark teeth and whale bones.

History Lesson: In prehistoric times, the ocean stretched all the way to the fall line (at Great Falls, above Washington on the Potomac). The cliffs developed from sediments that fell to the sea floor--thus explaining the abundance of shark teeth, whale remains, even sea crocodiles. The soft sediments preserved many of the bones and teeth. Scientists believe that about 2 million years ago, an ice age began and the polar ice caps began to expand. As a result, the sea level began to recede and fell to a point even lower than it is today. The Chesapeake Bay was turned into a river valley (of the Susquehanna). When the ice age ended (about 20,000 years ago), the ice melted and sea levels rose rapidly, flooding the river valleys and creating the Bay. Erosion, a natural process, continues to change the face of the lower Potomac. (Source: http://www.riverexplorer.com/pot166.htm))

We spent hundreds of hours during my childhood walking up and down the beach looking for shark teeth and have a pretty impressive collection of teeth and other fossils as a result. Shark Tooth Hunting has “ruined” walks on the beach for me because everywhere I go I tend to keep an eye out for teeth, whether or not they should be found at that particular beach or not.

Hollywood Cemetery
(website: http://hollywoodcemetery.org)

I love cemeteries. There, I said it. There is something really interesting about them for me. I think it’s because I like to read the headstones and use my imagination to create whole life stories out of them. I also think they are great for photographing, especially the older ones. Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond is probably my favorite cemetery for its historic and visual offerings.
It was opened in 1849 and is the resting place to two presidents (Monroe and Tyler), Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, 18,000 enlisted men of the Confederate Army, prominent figures from Virginia history, and everyday people.

The cemetery is fairly large (130 acres) and is great for strolling. The views of Richmond and the river are great and the graves themselves are pretty interesting with sculptures, monuments, etc. If you are in Richmond on a nice day, I highly recommend stopping here.

(website: http://www.montpelier.org/)

What list of my favorite Virginia places could be complete without a little visit to the home of one of my favorite presidents, James Madison?! The Madison family moved to the plantation in 1723 but the house that we now know as Montpelier wasn’t built until around 1764. The surroundings are just fantastic (sweeping fields, trees, etc.) and the house itself is pretty awesome, especially now that they have restored it to the James Madison era. I have had the pleasure of seeing the home in three different states….in the DuPont family renovation setting (they owned the house after the Madison family and made quite a few changes), during the restoration process (walls were stripped down to the beams, old doorways were being found, little bits of paper with James Madison’s handwriting discovered in a very old mouse nest, etc.) and again after the restoration was completed.

If you like history, old homes, drives down winding country roads, this is great place to visit. Do it in the fall. It’s amazing.

(website: http://www.monticello.org/)

If you go see Jimmy’s place, why not go see Thomas Jefferson’s down the road?!
Built in 1772, Monticello is a fascinating home to visit, mostly because Jefferson himself was a fascinating man. (Plus it’s up on a hill overlooking the Valley…wonderful!) Some of my favorite things: the Great Clock in the entry hall that Jefferson designed himself (in order for it to work Jefferson had to cut a hole in the floor so that it could hang down into the basement), the artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition and a device that allows someone to write two identical letters at once (his own invention). I just think Jefferson is a really interesting character in our Nation’s history and was a real genius.

Fun fact: I took my first photograph at Monticello. It was of my parents sitting on the steps.

Colonial Williamsburg
(website: http://www.history.org/ Pretty impressive that they snagged that address!)

What history nerd wouldn’t love walking around a town full of authentic buildings and people in costume/character while munching on a gingerbread cookie baked in a real fire oven?! I love CW. I got spoiled living near it for a few years because I would take quick trips in the afternoons during the week when it wasn’t crowded and just enjoy the atmosphere.

Some of my favorite things in CW:
-Wythe’s Candy Store in Merchant Square…I especially love their rock candy and browsing their selection of candies.
-College Delly (http://www.collegedelly.com) My parents have been eating here for decades and I inherited their love of their sandwiches. A Chandler served hot is the family favorite. The restaurant is located next to the William and Mary campus and is very much a college place.
-The Raleigh Tavern Bakeshop in the middle of CW has tasty treats. Our family favorite are the gingerbread cakes/cookies and apple cider. Perfect snack on a spring or fall day while walking around taking in the sites.

Arlington National Cemetery
(website: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/)

Yes, another cemetery but for very different reasons. Arlington Cemetery has a very different feel from any other cemetery I’ve been to. The solemn beauty of JFK’s eternal flame, the ceaseless repetition of the footsteps of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the overwhelming sea of white headstones that gleam in the sunlight, reading the names of the men and women that sacrificed their lives for our country. It’s all so beautiful in a very patriotic and moving way.

Busch Gardens
(Website: http://www.buschgardens.com/bgw)

This amusement park is a fantastic way to spend a day, night, afternoon, etc. We lived close enough to where we had season passes and would hop up after work for a few hours of fun. I’m a fan of rollercoasters and the park is great for that sort of thing, obviously. However, it’s also a really clean and pretty park so even going just to walk around is fun. They have a few live music shows that are a lot of fun too, though they have cut some of them in the last few years because of budget stuff. But there is still a really fun polka show in the Festhaus, which is my favorite place to eat in the park.

Other highlights:
-Griffon: My favorite rollercoaster at the park. You go up 205 feet into the air, the car (3 rows of 10 seats) sneaks up to the edge of the drop and then stops. If you are in the front row you hang there, looking straight down for what feels like forever before plunging 90 degrees straight toward the ground at racing speeds faster than 70 miles per hour. It’s pretty awesome. And don’t listen to what they tell you about each row having the same ride experience… The ONLY way to ride it is in the front row.
-Beer School/Brew Master’s Club: R.I.P.: Because Busch Gardens was previously owned by Anheuser-Busch they had a beer-tasting component to the park. Beer School was a place where they would show you a powerpoint about how they made beer and then ask questions of the group. At the end you would try a bunch of samples and then be bestowed your “Beer School” diploma. A few years of graduates later they turned the Beer School into the Brew Master’s Club, which was a more intellectual beer-tasting experience. It was actually pretty neat. You got seated in small groups and had a person assigned to you that talked about the different beers and other Anheuser-Busch products. Once they went through their little talk you had a certain number of samples you could have from a menu of their products. The cool part was that they had cheese, crackers, chocolate and fruit at the tables to eat while having the samples and they taught while should be paired with whatever you had chosen to drink. It was a really neat way to try new things that you might not, have some free drinks, relax in air conditioning and then head back out to the park. Sadly when A-B sold the park they got rid of it.
-Celtic Fyre: It’s like a mini-Riverdance production. It’s super-fun and a great place to sit and enjoy AC on a warm day…plus I’m a sucker for Irish dancing and bodhrans. (The show changes every few seasons and has different names, Celtic Fyre is what it is currently.)

Fort Monroe
(Wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Monroe)
(NPS page: http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm)

The fort was just declared a National Monument after being an active Army base. The season I like the fort is best summed up by the blurb on the National Park website: “Fort Monroe National Monument spans the American story from the 17th to the 21st centuries: Captain John Smith's journeys, a haven of freedom for the enslaved during the Civil War, and a bastion of defense for the Chesapeake Bay.” In other words, tons of nerdy history to be learned. The Casemate Museum within the Fortress walls is a really great Civil War museum if you like that sort of thing. My only complaint about the museum was it has a lot of mannequins dressed up in uniforms and period clothes, acting out different facets of fortress life during the Civil War. I found them incredibly creepy…this picture is an example:

The fort is great for walking around (both in and out of the walls) because of the older houses, the location right on the water, the fortress walls and moat, etc. Great history, neat location. Worth a trip, especially now that the NPS will be involved.

I'm sure there are plenty of places that I'm leaving out but these are the places that came to mind when I was thinking about all of the great places in VA. I may have to do a Part II.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beth's Running Update

Work it harder, make it better,
do it faster, makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work is never over.
Now that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger

Yes, I just quoted Kanye West in my blog. (For my older readers, he's a rapper.) I picked this quote to open this entry because it is on my running playlist and the "What doesn't kill you..." quote was also used by my running partner yesterday morning. (He's a blog reader so...Hello!) More on this run later.

I don't want to turn this into a running blog but it's become a larger part of our lives since we are now only 34 days away from the Disney Half-Marathon so I would imagine that it'll come up a few more times in the next month! My training hit the 200 mile mark this week and I am feeling pretty good about it. It's amazing how something that used to be hard and unsatisfying can become enjoyable. Not that it isn't still hard...because it is, but in a productive kind of way. (I've also learned how much of running is a mental game....for me, even moreso than physical.)

I can't speak for Eddie or the siblings also running a Disney race in January but it's been fun to have a long-range goal this year. Now that we are closer and my mileage is picking up it is starting to feel real...and attainable! It's fun to think back on our first 5K on Memorial Day when some of us couldn't even run the whole thing!

I had a series of successful runs when we were visiting my parents. My first run back up here was not a good one. I got up early to try to do 10 miles and had to fight myself to keep going to get to 7. It was my first really frustrating and "bad" run but as Eddie pointed out, I still got out there and ran 7 miles! Since that "bad" run I did a 4 miler alone and then had an adventure yesterday morning.

*Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the name and identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of my running partner, who is a fugitive…or not.*

I mentioned that I ran with someone else during the introduction to this entry. I met Mahoney when I started playing in the Widgerood Kazoo Brigade earlier this year. I was placed next to him and I am very glad. Turns out that besides a stellar kazoo player and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist he's also a runner. We had chatted about running on and off as my training picked up and last month we ran together. (My first 60-minute 6 miler, in fact, which was a big accomplishment for me and a wake-up about what I might be capable of.) We decided to run again since he could push me (because he's too new of a friend to say "Bite me!" to when he is pushing the pace or taking me up big hills) and could teach me a few things.

Yesterday we took off pre-dawn for Garret Mountain Reservation a few towns over. After a little bit of adventure getting there (read: scenic tour of Paterson) we parked the car and took off UP the mountain. (Of course it’s no Everest, but pretty darn hilly.) Once we got to the top we could see a "sweeping vista" (from the website) of Paterson and beyond as the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon. From the Google research I had done prior I knew that I would probably be able to see NYC at some point, which was exciting.

Since Mahoney is familiar with the trail system in the park we picked up a trail for a good part of the run. It was my first trail run and it was pretty interesting and quite different from the neighborhood roads on Ridgewood. It was weird to have to really watch my step, “hurdle” (which for me meant stepping gingerly over) downed trees and figure out how not to tumble down leaf-covered downhill trails. Because we were running on a mountain there was a lot of up and down and my legs were definitely feeling it (and still are). On the plus side, the scenery was pretty great: handful of deer (some pretty close up!), a red-tailed hawk, a plastic bag in a tree that Mahoney thought was a hawk, etc. We also took detour off the trail to hit up to a scenic overlook where we could see the sun coming up over the NYC skyline. (This was the highlight of the run for me.) I had my phone so I snapped a quick picture (and caught my breath a little!) and we kept on.

Sadly you can't really see the skyline in thie photo, but it's there.)

While the run mileage was only 5.65 miles it felt like a heck of a lot more because of the terrain. My legs were burning and I was pretty beat by the end of it but it was a good run. (Hill work is supposed to help strength, which helps with distance.) I quite enjoyed the new running experience (trail) and am thankful for Mahoney for his encouragement and for pushing me to be a better runner.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

15 Month Appointment

This entry has been sitting in the draft box for a few days and I keep forgetting to post it...

Henry had his 15-month doctor's appointment last week (a little bit after his actual 15 month "birthday"). He now weighs 21 pounds and is 31 inches long. His pediatrician is happy with his stats as it's pretty consistent with how he's measured at his other appointments. She asked if he knew any words, which includes sign language words. He is way ahead of the curve thanks to his signing.

Just for our record when I look back at this, at this point he knows the signs for:
-all done
-thank you

He has also invented signs for:
-Lenny (Leonard Bernstein...he waves his hands/arms around like he's conducting)

He also says:
-Llama (from the book Llama, Llama Red Pajama)
-Banana (kind of)
-Ah-Ah (for monkey...as in "ooh ooh ah ah")
-Nnnn (Ellen)
-Mima (Jemima, as in Aunt Jemima waffles)
-Tar (Guitar)
-No No (complete with finger wagging)

(Quick note about signing: I hadn't really planned on doing much beyond more, all done, food and milk but he really started loving the Baby Signing Time DVDs. He picks up the signs really quickly and seems to like learning and using them. It is really helpful from my end to know what he wants. It really cuts down on his frustration because he's able to communicate with us.)

He walks/runs everywhere and enjoys playing at the playground. He even goes down the slides by himself now (feet-first, on his stomach!). He loves books and music. He likes to wave bye-bye and blow kisses, which people find pretty cute, especially the librarians. He can be very sweet and seems to like to make people laugh. He also knows what he's not supposed to do and gets a twinkle in his eye when he does it.

We have established a "time out" corner in the house that we started using when he kept playing with the cat food and water. (It really worked!) We just started using it for when he touches Grandpa's computer. Yesterday he walked up to the computer and said "No No" while wagging his finger towards the desk. He then walked to his time out corner, sat down and said "No No" again. It was so cute and a sign that he understands that the corner is a consequence. Amazing.

It's been an amazing 15 months and it's neat to watch him learn and grow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moyock Fun Continues

Apparently we've been having too much fun for me to update like I usually do! (Sorry to those of you looking forward to a Top Ten Tuesday....again!)

Over the last week Henry and I have been enjoying a relaxing stay here in Moyock. We've had some fun adventures while we were here:
-visit to our friend Jane's house
-playing with Andrew on the playground
-playing with Desmond at a different playground
-lunch at some of my favorite restaurants here (including some REAL BBQ)
-visited CNU's campus to see old friends

We've also had some fun right here at home:
-coloring with crayons and painting with paint (obviously)
-playing the piano
-learning how to buzz a french horn mouthpiece
-running around the yard
-reading LOTS of books (I have even been able to get some reading done, which is something I love to do but never make time to do usually....that being said, just read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It was so very good. Go read it!)

I've also been staying with my running while I'm here. This morning I completed my first ten mile run. I did it in 1:43:27. I was really pleased with how it went despite the rain and wind! Now it seems pretty attainable to complete the half marathon in 46 days. I only have to add 3.1 miles to my run. It's pretty exciting to make this progress and feel good at the end of my runs. (Eddie flew in last night and did his long run today too....he ran 18 miles!)

We're enjoying our time here and are looking forward to Thanksgiving on Thursday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Duuuukes and Duke

Today is supposed to be Top Ten Tuesday but since I missed updating yesterday I'm going to put that off for now. Instead I'll just give an update on the last week.

On Friday morning we packed up our cars and headed south to JMU. (More on why we took two cars later.) We got to Harrisonburg in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel. Since our friends weren't getting there for a while still Eddie and Henry decided to take a dip in the hotel pool. While they did that I put on my running gear and headed out for a four mile run. Our hotel was close enough to campus that I was able to run through campus. Running on campus is a lot of fun, despite the hills. I got honked at twice! It was either a compliment or, more likely, just students being funny. I did enjoy that my run took me by the stadium where the marching band was rehearsing!

After we all got cleaned up from our activities we met up with our friends as they got into town. Rather than subjecting our little ones to a late dinner out we got Sheetz sandwiches to go and ate them in our rooms. (Sheetz is a gas station chain that has DELICIOUS made to order sandwiches.) We headed to bed relatively early (since we're old now) and rested up for Game Day.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then headed out to tailgate for the game. Our usual parking lot was full so we ended up on the roof of the parking garage across the street from the Quad. We were the only ones up there for a long time, which was fun. Henry and Owen (our friends' 18 month old son) were able to run around without us worrying too much about them. Once everyone was at the tailgate there were 10 adults and 4 boys (18 months, 14 months, 6 months and 2 months). Boy, how things have changed!

The game itself wasn't all that exciting....though I wasn't paying attention much to it....oops! JMU did win but more interesting than that was catching up with friends and watching the marching band. After the game the active and alumni brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi gathered to sing the Fraternity Hymn. There were 90 of us in our circle this year, which was awesome. For anyone questioning those who choose to become involved in Greek Life in college need only look around our circle last week to see the magic of brotherhood. The group of 90, people of all ages and backgrounds, have a common bond that runs deep and is truly meaningful.

After the game we headed out to El Charro for dinner. Delicious as usual! We went back to the hotel. We hung out in one hotel room and just enjoyed being together again. We also tried a persimmon for the first time, which was a bizarre experience. Our friend bought it on a whim at Wal-Mart in the produce section. We looked it up online and saw a reference to certain varieties when unripe taste "fuzzy". We weren't sure what that meant until we took a bite of the fruit. As soon as the fruit touched your mouth it felt like all moisture had been sucked out of your mouth and it was replaced with a coating of fuzz or fur. Very hard to describe but it gave us much amusement!

On Sunday morning everyone went their separate ways back home. Eddie, Henry and I met up with another friend for breakfast and then got ready to head out. Because we were already only four hours from my parents' house we had decided that Henry and I would continue the trip south and stay until after Thanksgiving. We figured it made more sense than driving the six hours back to New Jersey only to head back down seven/eight hours to North Carolina. The trip was pretty easy and we did it without stopping.

So far our visit at my parents' house has been good. Henry's enjoying getting to run around a new house and explore new things. I completed my first 9-mile run yesterday, which was a big accomplishment for me. Suddenly 13.1 miles doesn't seem quite as daunting. Don't get me wrong, I still have quite a bit in front of me and know it won't be easy but it's certainly less intimidating than when I was struggling to do 3.1 miles and had 10 more to add.

Tonight I got to hang out with Katie to watch the Duke basketball game. It was great to just relax, eat wings and watch Coach K break the record for most wins. He's such a class act and it made me very happy to see him reach this milestone.

That's about all for now. Have a good night/day, reader!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: More Music!

I had a request for some more music selection so here it is for this week's Top Ten Tuesday.

This list is just of pieces that I like and not necessarily have any real personal connection or story to go with them. For the sake of getting this in on Tuesday I'm going to post with just some links on each title and refrain from commentary.

1) Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger

2) Incantation and Dance by John Barnes Chance

3) Havendance by David Holsinger

4) O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen

5) Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral by Richard Wagner

6) Winds of Nagual by Michael Colgrass

(This is just one of the movements...super fun.)

7) Danza Final (Malambo) from Estancia Dances by Alberto Ginastera

8) Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland

No list is complete without Copland and I LOVE this piece of music. I'm not sure who my favorite narrator is just yet but I stumbled on this recording (linked above) with Katharine Hepburn. Usually not a part that is usually read by a woman. Definitely not who I would pick (though I do love her) but I'll post this one for the novelty.

9) Symphonic Metamorphosis by Paul Hindemith

10) Fanfare and Allegro by Clifton Williams

Monday, November 7, 2011

We've Got The Power!

Power was restored to Ridgewood last Tuesday evening. While we were thankful to have a warm house and good company (Thanks MomMom and PopPop!) during the outage it was good to get back to this house.

Since I didn't get to post Halloween pictures last week, here you go!

Henry The Octopus was even featured in The Ridgewood News on Friday. The picture is from the Halloween Parade at the library that we went to:

Over the last week we've had pretty routine days. Henry's love of reading is really blossoming. He now regularly picks out books, brings them to me and then tries to climb up on my lap. I love that he does this and I hope that he continues this!

Our new house continues to progress towards completion. It's taking longer than we thought but each day something new is done. Hardwood floors are done, kitchen cabinets are up, and furniture has been delivered. There is still plenty that needs to be finished but its really starting to look like what will be our home!

Eddie has been busy with work and reffing soccer after work. This weekend he took some time to head into NYC to support a friend running the NYC Marathon. He seemed to enjoy the experience. It's hard to believe the race had 47,000 runners. So many people!

Speaking of running, we are now 61 days from the Disney Half Marathon. My training is going well for the most part. I ran 8 miles for the first time over the weekend. I felt good during and after the run, which was exciting. I know that there will be "bad runs" down the road but for now I'm feeling good about it all. I've been keeping an online log of my runs starting with the 5K we ran on Memorial Day. Since that day I've run 142.62 miles in training. I never thought I'd be excited to watch the miles tick by but I am.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

And NOT because it's Halloween!

We got a few inches of heavy/wet snow on Saturday. I can't say I was ready to give up on autumn (my favorite season) but having some Sinatra on the radio while the snow was coming down in big, fluffy flakes was kind of nice. What wasn't nice was the plethora of tree branches and whole trees were down all over town and some must have fallen on power lines as there was widespread outages. Our power went out on Saturday around 2:30. So we spent the rest of Saturday playing inside, watching the snow fall (Henry liked this) and just hanging out without power. Once night fell we lit a bunch of candles and built a fire in the fireplace. It's amazing how little light you really need to function around the house. I felt like we were in an episode of Frontier House. It was inconvenient, yes, but kind of nice to have a simple evening at home.

Henry started out in his own room overnight for sleep dressed in double layers but we ended up taking him into bed with us halfway through the night when he woke up. Turns out he is a BIG bed hog! I know it's hard to imagine such a little guy taking up so much room but I spent most of the night on the edge of the bed.

The power was still out Sunday morning when we got up and the house was around 57 degrees so we packed up and headed to MomMom and PopPop's house. They live about ten minutes away and had power. So we've been crashing with them ever since as power has not yet been restored to the house in Ridgewood. (They are blog-readers so THANKS MomMom and PopPop!)

Both Ellen and Karen didn't have school today thanks to the outages. Eddie still had work so we took Henry in his costume to say hello and spread some cheer. Since power is still out in some neighborhoods trick-or-treating will be a little odd this year in the area. We'll take Henry to a few houses around MomMom and PopPop's just for the photos and so we can say we did it.

I don't have my camera cable here so I will have to post photos a little bit later in the week once we have power back and/or I remember to pick the cord up when we go back to the house.

That's all for now.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Side of 30.

Well, I'm officially 30....weird. I really didn't have any anxiety about turning over a new decade and still don't have any real issue. It just sounds weird.

Anyways....I had a WONDERFUL birthday weekend. On Friday, Eddie, Henry and I packed up the car and headed south to Harrisonburg, Virginia...home of James Madison University, my beloved alma mater. The drive wasn't too bad and, with the trees changing for autumn, it was a beautiful drive.

We got to JMU's campus around 4 and met up with my parents who had already made it there. We walked around campus and took some photos on the Quad. Here we are sitting on the Kissing Rock with Wilson Hall in the background:

After pictures we headed to the newly expanded Bridgeforth Stadium for Marching Royal Dukes (MRD) rehearsal. The stadium is HUGE now...it's amazing to think of how much it has changed since my freshman year there in the fall of 1999. Rehearsal was a lot of fun to watch and Henry really liked it. (I was so glad that he did!) He enjoyed conducting/dancing while they played.

We headed to Dave's Taverna for dinner, which is my favorite place to eat in Harrisonburg. A pitcher of Natty Light for 3.75 (used to be 2 bucks!) and a gyro with fries was a perfect way to end the night.

The next morning Eddie and I were up before the sun to head to campus to help with Parade of Champions. This high school marching competition hosted over 40 bands this year. It was really neat to get to watch the shows from the new pressbox, which is sooooo much nicer than the old one. We had ample space, nice bathrooms and a view of the stadium, campus and beyond!

My parents and Henry joined us later in the day in time for the afternoon performance of the Marching Royal Dukes. I usually watch the afternoon performance from the press box as we finish tabulating the scores. This time, however, my friend Scott (also the MRD director) told me they needed me to take photos during the performance. I thought this was a little odd and figured something was up but wasn't sure what.

As it turns out "what was up" was that I was going to conduct the JMU Fight Song! The MRDs finished playing their show and Scott told me to give him my bag and kind of ushered me up to the podium. As this was happening the announcer was introducing me and telling everyone there it was my 30th birthday. It all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to think about how high the podium was that I had just climbed up on! It was incredible. The band was loud and fantastic and it was truly awesome to get to conduct them (even though I'm sure no one was really watching me!). A million thanks to Eddie who arranged it with Scott. It's the best birthday present I could have imagined.

The rest of the day was spent tabulating scores, watching bands and catching up with old friends. Henry was a real trooper up in the pressbox. He even took a nap up there! He really enjoyed looking at the bands and probably the highlight of his day was getting to meet Duke Dog in person! He was simultaneously excited and frightened by him but overall I think he was happy about being near him.

One Sunday Eddie and I got up early and went for a seven mile run! It was quite chilly (mid-30s) but the scenery was gorgeous. We headed towards campus and ended up running by all four places that I lived during my time at JMU. My only complaint about the run was that it was so darn hilly! I knew it was going to be a hilly having walked to classes for four year but I didn't really think about the GIANT hill leading up to our hotel that we climbed at the end of the run. I powered through it and we made it!

After the run and a quick shower we headed to IHOP for breakfast with our friends. It was tasty and a good time to catch up. Sadly after breakfast it was time to pack up and head back north.

It was a really great birthday weekend and I'm so glad that I got to spend it at JMU with my parents and some of my good friends. I'm certainly very lucky!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: JMU Edition

Every fall JMU (my alma mater) hosts a high school marching band competition called Parade of Champions (POC). Eddie and I have been going to help out with it for a number of years now. I typically help the Band Administrative Assistant out with the score sheets and Eddie helps with random things like lining up drum majors, going to Wal-mart for tape players, giving college football score updates to the announceer, etc.

Last year Henry was just a little dude so he hung out in his bouncy seat in the press box all day/night. This year my parents are coming up to help out with him, see the MRDs (JMU's Marching Royals Dukes), see the changes on campus, catch up with some people, etc. I am really looking forward to this trip because there are few places that make me as happy as the Shenandoah Valley and the JMU campus. Throw in the fact that it is fall and I can see the MRDs....awesome.

And in the spirit of my excitment I give you: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things I Love/Miss About Harrisonburg/JMU

1) Marching Royal Dukes (MRDs)

I can remember the first time I saw the MRDs. I was a freshman in high school and I KNEW from that moment that I wanted to go to JMU and march with them. Seeing a band of 300 with a ridiculously loud sounds and ridiculously high trumpet solos was pretty much the coolest thing a band geek like me could see. They played at high school marching competitions and because the stadiums were packed they would play two shows, one to each side. We would run from one side of the field to the other to be able to see both shows from the front.

Obviously I ended up going to JMU and marched with the MRDs. I made lifelong friends and brothers (Kappa Kappa Psi-Band Service Fraternity), got involved and had amazing life experiences like marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and travelling to and performing in Greece.

I can't wait for Henry to see the MRDs again this year.

2) Dog Food Smell

Rockingham County, where JMU is located, is the poultry capital of the world. The corner boundaries of the county are marked by large, bronze turkey statues. There are a lot of poultry processing plants in the area and possibly dog food plants that use the leftovers. On rainy days the whole town smells like Dog Food. I know that sounds gross and it's really not a delicious smell but it is something that every JMU student associates with campus and some of us, like me, sometimes miss it!

3) Gray Bluestone, Red Roofs and Blue Skies

Many of the buildings in the older section of the campus were built using local bluestone, which is a gray rock. These buildings have deep red/rust colored tiled roofs. One of my favorite things about campus is the combination of the stone and tiles under a deep blue sky.

4) Kline's Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Kline's dairy bar is a family-owned and operated ice cream place that first opened in 1943. They have chocolate and vanilla ice cream all of the time and then one featured flavor of the week. The flavors range from traditional favorites like cookies and creme to seasonal treats like egg nog and pumpkin. My all-time favorite (and probably the favorite of 90% of JMU grads) is chocolate peanut butter.

Sadly their "flavor forecast" shows that I won't be getting my favorite this week. But I have a feeling we'll be going anyways since Henry enjoys ice cream and every little kid should have some Kline's in their life!

5) Dave's

Dave's Taverna, which everyone just knows as Dave's, is my favorite place to eat in Harrisonburg. Their gyros and fries are AMAZING and are my all-time favorite. My mouth is watering while I type this. They have good burgers and pizza too but I usually stick with my favorite. With $2 pitchers of Natty Light, what else could one want?! (I can't wait to eat there on Friday!!!)

6) Wal-Mart

Yes, Wal-Mart is one of my favorite things about Harrisonburg...but for people-watching adventures. The older Wal-Mart that is located on the way out of town is known for it's Mennonite Buggy parking and the frequent sightings of true "townies". Townies = people watching gold! The new Wal-Mart is much more "fancy" but now provides us with convenient junk-food and beverage shopping when we go back for alumni weekends.

7) Bells of Wilson Hall

Wilson Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus and sits at the head of the Quad. There are bells (or now a loud speaker system probably) in the cuppola that chime the time....and the fight song once a day! When I hear the church bells here in Ridgewood I always am brought back to JMU in my mind. Nothing like looking out across campus to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in the distance with the bells chiming.

8) Truly Friendly People

One of my former bosses at CNU asked me once what they put in the water at JMU because current students and alumni always seem to LOVE (all-caps) it and their experience. I am no exception to that...I still say "Dukes!" when someone does something great, wear purple on game days (even in NJ), and have a picture of Duke Dog up on my bulletin board.

I think one of the things that makes it such a magical place is that everyone is so friendly and generally polite. I always had to laugh when a president of another university I will not name would stand up and say that that school had a "culture of greeting" and that everyone would say hello to each other. It could not be further from the truth about that institution. But at JMU I can honestly say that people DO smile and say hello as they pass other students, faculty, etc.

I had great faculty in and out of the School of Music and had great experiences with my peers (also in and out of the music program).

9) Drives

My college roommate and lifelong best friend (thanks JMU!) Katie introduced me to the joys of drives for stress relief and for thinking. I used to love heading out of town, rolling the windows down and turning up the music. There is really nothing like a drive out on rural roads in the Shenandoah Valley, especially in the late afternoon when the light makes the fields glow gold and the mountains in the distance are so very blue.

10) Everything

Yes, it's true...I miss just about everything about JMU. My college experience was amazing (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)...what I learned in the classroom, what I learned out of the classroom, the people I met, the adventures we had, the tears, the laughter, the Heaven/Hell parties, early morning rehearsals, late night projects, band, fraternity, graduation. I'm so thankful for the experience I had.

Run run run!

Eddie, Karen, Ellen, Kevin and I all successfully survived the Paramus 10K (6.2 miles) run yesterday morning. We all did well for where we are in our training/athletic abilities.

Here we are after the run:

From here I'll start adding more mileage on, which is crazy to think about. But once I do my 7-miler, which will be my next long run, I will have less in front of me than behind me to get to the half-marathon 13.1 miles.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Progress On Many Fronts


Our little boy is almost 14 months old and seems to change everyday. He learns things at a remarkable pace and seems to enjoy learning. He has really been enjoying Baby Signing Time DVDs that I have checked out from the library. Since we have gotten them we've been working on some more useful signs like "Thank You", "Please", "Sorry", etc.

Henry has always been a fan of plane-spotting but yesterday he learned the joy of watching geese. There was a flock of them flying around the neighborhood getting ready to land across the street. I told them that they were "geese" and so he kept pointing saying "eese".

He has sprouted another top tooth and one of his molars is popping through. It's going to be so weird to see him with a full set of teeth.

Here he is learning that music comes out of the headphones of my iPod:


I haven't blogged much about the house because progress had been slowed because of having to wait to get some permits. We're at the point where every time we go to the house something new is done. Right now the gross shaggy orange carpet upstairs is gone, the kitchen has walls and the downstairs tub/shower has tile. It makes me really excited to see the progress and anxious to see how it comes out in the end.


I didn't think that I would say this but...I'm actually starting to really enjoy running. I've been tracking my training runs online starting with my first 5K race on Memorial Day. Since then I have run 106.3 miles (18 hours 23 minutes and 51 seconds). I did a "practice" 10K (6.2 miles) last weekend because we have a "real" 10K this coming Sunday. I've done some runs with other people and some on my own. While I like the company (and sometimes the push) of running with other people I've found that I generally feel better during my runs when I'm alone. I don't know if it's because I feel like I can run at my own pace and not worry about others or if I just like having the time to myself. Probably a combination of the two.

We are 87 days out from the Disney Half-Marathon. I'm actually kind of excited to get to that point and to accomplish that goal. Right now my runs are 4, 5 or 6 miles and that will increase after the 10K this weekend.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

My stand partner in the Ridgewood Concert Band asked my if I had an all-time favorite piece of music. I answered (more on this later) but on my drive home the wheels started turning about great pieces of music and why I love them. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie High Fidelity. The dialogue goes like this:

Dick: It guess it looks as if you're reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?
Rob: No...
Dick: Not alphabetical...
Rob: Nope.
Dick: What?
Rob: Autobiographical.

Even for non-musicians I think songs bring people to a very specific time and place in their life, reminds them of an event or a relationship, etc. For me I can be like Rob and write my autobiography with music. (But that's not why I'm here now....I think I just wanted to use that High Fidelity quote!)

Everything got me thinking about my favorite pieces of music and why I like them so much. Since it's Tuesday and I like alliteration, I give you Top Ten Tuesday: The Band/Orchestra Music Edition (in no real particular order):

#10: Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky

I've never played this one and I don't have a personal story to go with this one, I just really enjoy it.

#9: Watchman, Tell Us of the Night by Mark Camphouse
This piece was the first time I KNEW that I was in music for the right reasons. I was a sophomore in High School and prior to this concert I wasn't sure I was working so hard and putting so much into music for myself or for my parents. I made All-State Band my sophomore year and we played this under the direction of a phenomenal conductor. The piece is so emotional and wonderful and it made me really fall in love with playing my clarinet.

#8: Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli

Come to think of it...we played this piece on the same All-State concert mentioned above! It is a super-fun piece of music that never gets old to listen to! My friends and I always joked about having a Blue Shades party in which we would play this on secondary instruments (i.e. not the ones we usually played). I wish we had done it because I think it would have been kind of amazing. Maybe it's not too late...

#7: Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi

I think this piece is pretty awesome...it paints interesting pictures in my mind when I listen to it. For those of you who don't have good imaginations when it comes to "classical" music, the link I provided for the piece is Disney's Fantasia 2000 version that gives you a story to go with it.

#6: First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst

You can't have a list of band favorites without some Holst. I'll keep it simple with the First Suite. I loved playing this in High School, especially since I was sitting next to one of my closest friends. We loved Holst so much that we used to flash each other the American Sign Language sign for "H" like a gang sign! (Nerd alert!)

#5: Celebration by Philip Sparke

I think Philip Sparke is my favorite living composer for wind ensemble. I played this piece of music my freshman year at JMU when the Wind Symphony traveled to perform at a national conference. It was a great overall concert but this piece stands out to me.

#4: Dance Movements by Philip Sparke

I know I just picked a Sparke piece and generally you don't double up in a list but here I am....Dance Movements is just SO FUN!

The link above is just for the first movement but you can find the others on the related video list next to it.

#3: Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein

This is the first piece of music that I can remember really loving. I must have been maybe eight or so and I used to play this piece over and over again. I have clear memory of dancing with a broom to it around my grandmother's kitchen when it still had it's black and white checked floor tiles.

What's awesome now is that Henry loves watching this video. He walks up to the computer and waves his arms around, which is his way of requesting "Lenny".

#2: Symphony #4 by David Maslanka

We played this at JMU the spring of my junior year, which was a personally challenging semester for me. When we played it at the concert it was one of those performances when everyone was really in it and pouring everything they had into it. I remember people looking around at each other, some with tears in their eyes, as we passed through theme after theme. I don't listen to this piece often but when I do it brings me back to that concert and that time in my life and makes me thankful that I had music around me that semester.

#1: Appalachian Spring, by Aaron Copland

This is the piece I told my stand partner was my all-time favorite piece of music. If I could only hear one piece of music again in my life, I think I would pick this one. From the beautiful opening dawn of intervals it just captivates me. It has so much to it that I can't help but get lost in it. When I listen to it I can imagine the sun rising over the prairie, pioneers heading west, adventure, simplicity in living, sweeping vistas. Copland's music sounds like America, like the soundtrack of our history, landscapes, and memories.


I can't believe that it is October already. Where does the time go?!

This weekend we had a Seavers family outing to Masker Orchard in Warwick, NY. It was overcast and had rained the night before so the roads were pretty muddy. So muddy that cars were getting stuck, our van included. Thanks to some friendly folks to help push we made it out of the mud and ended up having to drive down between a row of trees (read: not a road) to get out.

Henry enjoyed eating his first orchard fresh apple and did a great job considering he doesn't have that many teeth!

He was patient enough to let us harass him with the camera while he sat in the tree.

Henry and Uncle Chewy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adventures in NYC

This weekend I drove in New York City not one, but TWO times...I even drove through Columbus Circle! As someone who started out driving life not really liking it and dreading it, I was pretty proud of myself. And, you know what, it wasn't even that bad.

On Saturday Ellen, Henry and I headed in to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. I had signed up for free tickets thanks to Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day celebration. We got into the city and went to park in the garage I had printed a coupon for and found it was already full! We circled the block a few times hoping for a parking spot on the street but ended up parking in another garage. Turns out they had a good deal if you got your ticket stub stamped at the museum.

The museum itself was a little overwhelming as it was PACKED with small children and their parents. We did, however, brave the masses and enjoyed all sorts of things like:

Dora the Explorer's House

and Curious George! (He was Henry's favorite for sure!)

The museum had a lot of neat things for kids Henry's age to do. I'd like to take him back again on a day that it isn't going to be so crowded so we can relax a little and really enjoy it.

On Sunday, Henry and I picked up Meredith and headed in to meet Eleni to go to the Broadway Flea Market. It was a neat event with tables from many of the shows and organizations. Sadly we didn't make any new friends (i.e. famous people we meet once) but it was still fun to walk around. Meredith and I found really inexpensive 9 to 5 the musical shirts that we snapped up! (Sidenote: I just saw that the event raised $550,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS!)

After a really delicious snack at PinkBerry Meredith, Henry and I parted ways with Eleni and headed back towards our car. On the way we were completely distract/enthralled for a long time by a religious procession from a small church (Santa Rosa de Lima). There were 24 men in robes carrying what appeared to be a very heavy platform carrying a large statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. The men swayed back and forth in time to the small "marching band" that was following them. (I put that in quotations because it was really a rag-tag group with their music clothes pinned to the person in front of them. But they really had some heart and the trumpet section wasn't half bad!) They inched forward very slowly and would put the platform down every once in a while to take a break and to switch carriers.

Meredith and I were, as I said, completely enthralled by this slow-moving procession. Part of it was out of amazement that this was happening on 52nd Street, which had NOT been closed to traffic so cars were backing out of it and at one point a NYFD truck pulled passed them! Also, they were inching slowly towards 8th Avenue, which is a pretty busy street(!), and we were wondering what in the world they were going to do when they got there. Well, what they did was KEEP WALKING! A tiny woman in a dress-suit managed to keep traffic from running into them as they turned onto the avenue. They began inching their way down 8th. Amazing.

Meredith and I both noted that we enjoyed that we both liked random things like this procession and that we could stand and watch it and be amused for so long!

Here are two photos of the procession on 8th Avenue:

The week got off to a fun start because Eddie took the morning off of work so that he could come with Henry to swim class. They both did a great job. It was fun to get to watch instead of being the one in the water.

Other items of note for this week's update:
-Henry has become a walking machine! It's still pretty new and still amazing to me right now. I think he is enjoying this new way of being mobile. It's pretty cute.
-I completed my first five-mile run! It actually felt pretty good. I am starting to enjoy running, which I didn't think I would.
-We discovered today that Henry has another top tooth popping through. At this rate he might not look like a jack-o-lantern for Halloween!
-Henry, Eddie and I all had haircuts today! We had a Buy 2 Get 1 free coupon for Supercuts. Turned out to be a good coupon as the kids haircut there is only 2 bucks less than the adults! I don't trust myself to cut Henry's hair just yet so it worked out well. We all look so fresh and so clean!

Things To Watch For:
-Eddie, Meredith and I are heading into the city again tomorrow to see a play.
-Family outing to the Devils Hockey game on Friday
-Family apple picking on Saturday

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another week gone by!

It really is amazing how quickly time flies by from day to day and week to week.

I am currently enjoying the quiet of naptime for Henry. (It's also amazing how quickly that time flies by too!) Typically I try to use this time to catch up on email, laundry, etc. but usually feel like I don't get anything really accomplished. Lately I've been entering sweepstakes during this time too! I saw a show on TV about people who sweepstake obsessively. I'm not at that point and I don't care to spend hours upon hours on it but for about a week now I've been entering a handful each day. The ones I am choosing to enter either have cash prizes or things like new windows, appliances, etc. as prizes. I figured that it doesn't take much time and you have to be in it to win it! I already won $25from Macy's!

Swim classes started back up for Henry last week. We switched days from last sessions so we are in a morning class to better accommodate Henry's new afternoon nap schedule. This class is smaller and I've found that I kind of miss his Thursday class friends!

We start back up with library time on Thursday. I'm looking forward to that since he has really grown up since the spring when the last session ended. I hope that he enjoys the class and enjoys interacting with the other kiddos in the class.

As for me, rehearsals with the Ridgewood Concert Band started up again last night. It was nice to be back playing my clarinet and seeing the other people, especially the other clarinet players. After watching the high school marching band at rehearsals the last few weeks I had been really missing music so it was good to be at rehearsal last night. (Sidenote: Henry has been LOVING watching the marching band practice. He waves his arms around and dances a little....it makes my heart happy!)

The weather here has been cool for the last few weeks and I am loving the change. Fall is my favorite season (probably because it meant new school year and marching band....nerd, I know) and I am looking forward to sharing it with Henry. I know it's not his first fall but he was just a little bump on a log of a baby last year and this year he will react more and be able to do more things. So far we've gone to two weekend festivals (Greek Fest and Fall Craft Festival) and I think we'll probably do some more over the next few months. It's so much fun to get out and about with Henry and watch him take everything in!

Eddie has been keeping very busy between work and reffing soccer. As much as I am sure that he'd rather be at home hanging out with Henry, reffing soccer is a great second "income" to add to our home fund since everything seems to cost more than we thought it would! I really do appreciate how hard he works so that I can be home with Henry. I feel so lucky that I can be the one with him all day, teaching him new things, taking him to do things like swim class and watching him grow. (Thanks Eddie!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years...

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that beautiful Tuesday morning in 2001 that changed our country. That day and the subsequent anniversaries have had great effect on me despite the fact that I did not lose anyone directly related to me and was not physically near any of the sites. I guess I am like many other young Americans who had not seen anything like this before. Not that anyone had seen anything like this before but older Americans had gone through Vietnam, JFK, Korea, etc. For Americans my age, the Gulf War had seemed so far away and foreign with its glowing green nightvision bombs and names of countries we hadn't learned about yet in fourth grade geography. September 11th was different. It happened live, on TV, in color, right there while we were watching.

I remember coming out of conducting class and hearing parts of conversations in the Music Building lounge about some plane hitting a building in NYC. Katie and I went upstairs to the band hallway and heard the news spilling from computer speakers in the graduate assistants' office.

No one quite knew what to do...should we go watch TV? should we go to class? We went to class. I don't think I will ever forget sitting in the band room for Brantley's Music Ed class and everyone just sitting in stunned silence. He asked if we wanted to talk about it and a fellow student, a New York native, just said, "Why?" I can't remember if anyone actually said anything else or how long we stayed in class before we all left to gather around TVs in lounges across campus.

It seemed like all I did for days was watch the news, the same video clips, the same sad stories over and over again. Suddenly planes flying overhead weren't just unnoticed pieces of scenery, they were reminders of what had happened.

That Thanksgiving the Marching Royal Dukes marched in the Macy's Parade. My group of friends went to Ground Zero. Even though we were standing RIGHT THERE looking at the ruins, it didn't seem real. How in the world could those two great towers fall? How could so many innocent people just die like that? And for what?

Each year around this time I've gotten sucked into watch the specials, the documentaries and all of the coverage. And each year it fills me with the same nausea and sadness.

This year I have made an effort to avoid the coverage and instead focus on the "good" things that came from this tragedy....Americans coming together, showing patriotism for their country and the building of hope for the future.

And in that spirit I have two things to share:

A friend posted this video yesterday. These kids are from a public school in NYC. I have followed them for a while now and thought this video was perfect for this post being that they are from NY and singing about NY.

Each year around this time I make it a point to either read or watch the monologue that Jon Stewart gave on the first Daily Show episode after September 11th.

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, here is the ending, which is my favorite part:

"The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center. Now it's gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Catching Up...Again

It seems time has flown by again and it's been a while since the last post. It's been an eventful two weeks...

-Hurricane Irene made her way up the coast and poured A LOT of rain on us. Ridgewood had a lot of flooding, including the sports fields across the street from the Seavers' house. Our new house in Midland Park ended up with about three inches of water in the basement. Turns out we weren't alone, our neighbors had water in their basements too. We were very lucky, though, to just have that water in an empty basement....there were so many that were without power for a while, lost a lot of belongings, etc.

-My parents came up for a visit which was great. Henry enjoyed having his Grandad and Ding Dong around to read with and to play with. One of the highlights of their visit was our fun field trip to the Morristown National Historic Park, which showcases the site of George Washington's Headquarters from the Revolutionary War. Our docent was excellent and we learned lots of fun facts. Henry "earned" another Junior Ranger badge for his hat...this time they made us fill out the booklet!

-Henry's Heart....During his 1-year doctor's visit Henry's pediatrician noted that he had a slight heart murmur. She wasn't overly concerned but wanted him to see a pediatric cardiologist to see if it was something we needed to watch or just let go. We took him in and he had an EKG and a ultrasound of his heart. He was a real trooper having to sit still and the staff was great (blowing bubbles, having Nemo on the TV, etc.) The cardiologist didn't see anything wrong anatomically with the heart but was concerned with some extra little blips on the EKG. They sent Henry home hooked up to a Holter Monitor (Click here for a picture to get an idea of what he was hooked up to.) to track his heart beats for 24 hours. He was pretty unaware that he was hooked up to it and didn't try to rip it off or anything, which was nice.

His cardiologist called back on Tuesday around 1 to give us the findings. She wanted to wait until Eddie and I could both talk so I had to wait anxiously for five more hours. It was a long wait because all I could think about was what she was about to tell us. Turns out he has a 2-to-1 beat pattern where the top part of his heart beats twice while the bottom beats just once. This basically means there is a disconnect in the communication between the two parts. This causes his heart rate to be slower than a normal one-year old.

His cardiologist said that he seems to be tolerating everything just fine and we don't need to do anything differently. We just have to watch for him to be dizzy, faint or extremely pale. He will have to go in for appointments for an EKG and the Holter monitor every six months. In the long-term if he starts showing symptoms of it affecting him they would look into a pacemaker.

The doctor didn't seem overly concerned about the condition so I'm working to not think too much about it either. As she said, he's still the wonderful, active little boy we brought in last week. I still have much more to be thankful for than to be worried about so that's a good thing.

-Walking...well, sometimes....Henry took his first real steps on September 1st. Of course I was the only home but managed to catch it on video thanks to my smartphone! He was kind enough to take some more when my parents arrived and since then has only decided that walking is fun a few more times. I guess he figures he's much faster when he crawls.

-General joys of parenthood....Henry continues to be an amazing little boy. He seems to really like making people laugh so tonight's bathtime became the biggest splash-fest I've seen in a long time when Henry saw that it made me laugh. We were both hysterically laughing! It's a good thing the bathtub/shower has sliding doors because it allowed me to just get my right shoulder and arm wet...until he caught me off-guard and got it right in the face. It was a real hoot. He's such fun and I love that his temperment is such that it is. We really got lucky!

That's all for now. I will do a photo/video post this coming week to catch you up with those.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Second First Birthday Party

We got back from the cruise on Saturday morning and used the rest of the day to prepare for Henry's NJ First Birthday Party. It was a dinosaur theme since he is a big fan of the book "Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs". I used the book for inspiration to draw some dinosaurs to hang around the house during the party. Also I had found fun little dinosaur-shaped foam stickers at the Dollar Tree in NC earlier in the summer. I used these to decorate green plastic cups, food labels, etc.

We had a great group of family and friends for the party. It was fun to have everyone together and to enjoy some tasty food. Henry received many great gifts...he is such a lucky little boy!

I made two dinosaur cakes for the party: a small one for him and a larger one for everyone else. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out. The big one was made using a pattern and directions from Betty Crocker online and the small one I just eye-balled on my own. Henry, just like his other birthday party, refused to eat his cake so no fun messy cake face photos this year. Maybe next year??

Here are some other photos from the party:

Next update: Mets Game and the hurricane...and then maybe we'll be caught up on the big stuff!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Catching Up

I have been a bad blogger! We have had quite the active August including:

Eddie, Henry, Grandma Pat Pat, Ellen, Karen, Tio Mike, MomMom, PopPop and I had a fantastic cruise out of NYC up to Canada. It was Henry, MomMom and PopPop's first cruise and I think they enjoyed it. We all enjoyed the good food, the trivia games and our ports of call. Here are some pictures from the trip:

Group Shot in the dining room. Ellen took the picture but her face is in the display screen on my camera. :-)

Our little family on formal night. (Henry looked sooo cute but pretty much refused to smile for pictures!)

In St. John (New Brunswick) I took a photography shore excursion. It was with the same photographer that we had taken a tour with when we were there on our honeymoon five years ago. The tour went to new stops and I got a lot out of the tour. Here are two shots from the tour:

In Halifax Eddie, Ellen and I took a bike tour of the city. It was an awesome shore excursion. Here are Ellen and I on our bikes by the bay:

Carnival has a new "Didja" section of their menu, as in "didja" ever try *insert food item here*. Mike and I (The Outlaws) tried frog legs!

Henry dancing at the Fun Farewell Party:

I got up at 5:15 in hopes of catching some photos of the Statue of Liberty as we were coming back into port but we were already somewhere around midtown so I snapped some nice skyline shots:

Next blog update will contain more on Henry's NJ Dinosaur Birthday party, a Mets Game and other fun things we've been doing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday Boy!

I had every intention of updating the blog on Henry's actual birthday but time got away from me so here I am catching up...

Henry's birth day last year was a long day....labor last through the day (again!) and never got to the point where I wanted to give up, mostly thanks to the lovely gentleman that gave me my epidural. I know some women are anti-epidural but it was a great experience. I wasn't pain-free by any means but it made it bearable and I was able to focus on what I had to do instead of how much it all hurt. I can't remember what time the pushing started or exactly how long it lasted but (I think) that I stayed pretty focused and did what I was told by the doctor. Eddie was a great support, fed me ice chips, helped me stay focused, etc. So after some pushing we finally had our little Henry James. He was beautiful and so alert from the beginning. Eddie and I took some family time before we invited my parents and Ellen in to meet him. It was a very special time for everyone.

Over the last year we have gone through so many changes. I remember seeing a list of stressers on marriages and they included new job, moving and children. We've had all three in the last year but I've got to say we're doing great. We've really managed to keep things pretty normal despite all of the changes. I think our keeping Henry on the go and not really changing how we operate has helped him to be a flexible and fairly easy-going kid.

At a year old this is what Henry is like:

-Very curious about everything. He loves to point at things and have us tell him what he is seeing or what is going on. Favorite things to point at: planes, photographs on the wall and ceiling fans.

-He loves monkeys and calls them "ahh-ahhs", which we think comes from the "ahh-ahh" part of "ooh-ooh-ahh-ahh" that we use for our monkey sounds.

-He says Pop-Pop and Pout-Pout (Fish) the same way and it's like a little puff of air saying "pa-pa". Very cute.

-He signs "food", "more" and "all done"....when he feels like it.

-He crawls up stairs quickly and is getting better at coming down then.

-He loves books and many times prefers them over his other toys.

-He likes to dance to music and likes it when I sing to him, especially in the car.

-He really is a very happy baby for the most part. His fussy moods are rarely very severe and rarely last long. He is pretty flexible and deals well with being taken places and having his schedule varied.

-He likes swimming and being in water. We'll be starting up swim classes at the Y again this fall, which will be fun.

-He seems to like to make people laugh and will repeat actions that get a laugh out of people.

-He is just a generally amazing little boy, of course I'm a little biased.

A friend of Eddie's once told me that having a child was hard and better than she thought it would be...and it is so true. It's been an amazing year and while I'm not wishing time away, I am really looking forward to see what kind of kid Henry turns into. I feel very lucky that I can be at home with him during the day to watch him learn and grow each day. (Thanks Eddie for working so hard!)

We had the opportunity to have a photo shoot with the three of us a few weeks ago and we just got the slideshow of some of the images from that shoot. It's a perfect way to wrap up this Year Old post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last year...

Last year at this time my water had broken 17 hours ago and we had been hanging out in the hospital for a while...

My Katie spent a good amount of time helping to keep me amused until my contractions got to bad to think things were funny...and then she rubbed my back in rhythm with my breathing pattern...without me asking. She rocked.

We waited and waited and waited...."Leroy" didn't like the Pitocin they had given me so he started to get a rapid heartbeat, which caused some tense moments for us. Once things calmed down for the night Eddie and I used the white board in our room to finally figure out what we were going to name our little boy. We settled in for the night, thinking we'd have our Henry James in the morning...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First First Birthday Party

Because we were planning on being down in VA/NC anyway around this time we thought it would be fun to have a First Birthday Party for Henry. Really this was also a time for us to have a lot of our friends and family together for us to see too! We chose Pout-Pout Fish as the theme since it is a book that Henry lovs and is special to him and my parents. We made some character cut-outs to hang around the house and Henry LOVED them. He would go nuts, point to Pout-Pout Fish and whisper "Pow-Pow". It was adorable.

The party itself was fun. Unfortunately it was hot and had rained a little so we couldn't play any fun lawn games but we sat around inside, ate, chatted, etc. We sang Happy Birthday to Henry and gave him his first cake. He didn't know what to do with it but ended up squishing it and barely ate any of it.

I was really glad to have had the opportunity to have our friends and family together to share his "birthday" since we will be in New Jersey on his actual birthday.

Speaking of New Jersey, we drove back up after Henry's party. The drive was uneventful (thankfully!) and we were back and in bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Eddie headed back to work on Monday morning and Henry and I worked on getting back into our routine.

Yesterday was our weekly "picking" adventure. We hit the motherload! Julie, Kevin and I rounded a corner to see the unassembled version of this:

It is a little faded from the sun and could use a little wash but it looks like it is in great shape. (I googled the product and see that it costs around 500 bucks!) I am looking forward to getting it cleaned up and assembled for Henry to play on!

In Home news, Eddie and I have a meeting with a contractor tonight to (hopefully) finalize some rennovation plans for the kitchen, bathrooms and floors. It will be nice to get things going so that we can feel like real progress is being made and can get closer to actually moving in.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ack! Thursday already!

Sorry to our loyal readers who have been waiting patiently for an update this week....

We packed up the car and headed south to North Carolina on Monday. Henry was a super-traveler as usual. I spent part of the ride in the backseat with him so that I could help to entertain him for part of the drive since he no longer sleeps for most of the trip.

We got down to VA in good time and stopped at BDubs for dinner with the Rossettinis and Katie. It was a very tasty meal and it was good to see them all. After dinner Eddie and I hit up Target and Walmart in search of some items for Henry's upcoming birthday party. (Not much luck!) We then headed the rest of the way to my parents' house where we let Henry crawl around until his heart's content since he had been cooped up in a carseat or high chair all day! (My parents weren't home from band rehearsal yet.)

We spent Tuesday relaxing around the house until mid-afternoon when we headed up to Norfolk to the Botanical Garden for their 5K race. We got there early and got to pay a very small fee ($1 a piece) to get into the gardens and walked around a little before racetime. The Garden is located right next to the Norfolk airport and has a neat little observation patio where you can watch the planes come and go. Air traffic wasn't too busy at that time but we were able to show Henry a few planes taking off. It was pretty hot out and he was tired so he wasn't super-excited about it but it was neat. I would like to take him back there when he is a little bit older.

The race was H-O-T. Eddie was hoping to push me to a new 5K Personal Record but the heat and the lack of water at the only water station got into my head and we ran it in 31:30. Not my best but not my worst. The actual race course through the gardens was really neat. There were neat little fountains, terraces, gardens, bridges,etc. along the way. At the end of the race there was freshly cut watermelon, bananas, pizza, water and MILLER LITE!

Though I let my mental game bring me down a little I am still pleased to have another race under my belt and am looking forward to starting to add mileage to my training runs. I'm not wishing time away but I'm also looking forward to cooler temperatures!

On Wednesday we did lots of errand running to get things for Henry's birthday party. (We decided a while back to have a First Birthday Party for Henry down here just as a way for us to see friends and to have celebrate this big milestone.)

Today Eddie and I met up with Katie for a round of golf at the course in the neighborhood where my parents live. (We had a coupon.) It was HOT HOT HOT but we had a good time. Katie and I aren't really golfers but we managed just fine! I enjoyed it and improved a little as the day went on. Not a hobby I'll want to pick up full-time but definitely something I would enjoy doing here and there.

We have a few more days of relaxing before Henry's Party. We'll be heading back to NJ after his party but this time we only have a week before a family cruise!

I'll post some pictures when we return to NJ.

For now, ciao from NC!