Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh Virginia

This was going through my head driving down to my parents' house. It was a beautiful day for a drive through my favorite commonwealth:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oh boy...

I was getting stuff together for our trip when Eddie's mom and sister Karen called me into the playroom....seems little boy has figured out a new trick:

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell has been my favorite author ever since I happened to hear her on an NPR program during the summer of 2003. I don't remember exactly which program or what she was talking about but I do remember getting home and going straight to my computer to order Take The Cannoli from half.com. A week later I sat on the couch and found a new favorite author. She's a former high school band geek who loves history, national parks and America. She's witty as all get out and is just generally the super-cool nerd that I would want to be.

My favorite of her books is Assassination Vacation, which chronicles her trips to sites significant to the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. It is informative, hilarious, and poignant all at once. If you have any interest in history or just want a good read, I recommend it. If you have little interest in history, I recommend Take The Cannoli, which is a collection of short stories. Topics range from Disneyworld to Pop A Shot.

But I digress...

Last week Eddie saw that she was going to be on the Daily Show. She's always hilarious on that show so I got pretty excited. I also hopped online to see what her new book was about. I noticed on her website that she was going to be at the Barnes and Noble in NYC. With us living so close, it would be an easy trip to see her.

So, Eddie left work and picked Henry and I up and we hit the road. Traffic into the city through the Lincoln Tunnel was not good but we got there. The store in the city is amazing...four stories of shelves. The reading/signing was up on the fourth floor in an area with a bank of windows overlooking Union Square Park. I could also see a ticker counting up the national debt...

Because I bought her new book at the store, I was able to enter the seating area early and had a pretty good seat. Eddie and Henry were a few rows behind me.

She came up onto the stage and begin reading from her new book. She read for maybe 20 minutes. (I had listened to Assassination Vacation a number of times so it was weird to see her with the voice being there too.) After she read, she took questions for a while. She was funny and knowledgeable, as expected.

View from my seat of her doing a reading from her new book.



She signed things for people after the Q&A. Henry, Eddie and I got to chat with her for a quick minute. She, of course, loved Henry and encouraged him to read. We were "those" people that took out the camera and gave her the baby.

Henry was more interested in her pen than anything else. It was past his bedtime so we were just happy he was still relatively charming when he met her. :-)



It was a really cool way to spend the evening. I am really glad that I've been able to take advantage of everything in the area since we've moved. She's speaking again in Brooklyn next month so I'm thinking of going again since by then I will have read the new book.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring?

The last few days had been B-E-A-UTIFUL! I hadn't realized how much I was missing being outside, feeling the sun and smelling the fresh air. We took advantage of the weather with some outdoor activities. I'm excited to report that the "we" I am speaking of includes Eddie! He had Friday off, which was awesome.

We headed out to Van Saun Park with Meredith and Eleni. We all had fun at the great playground at the park:







After the playground we headed to the zoo at the park. It's not anything super-exciting but it was free because we aren't "in season" yet. We saw rheas, spider monkeys, goats, a mountain lion and some other animals.






Henry took it all in and then zonked out in the stroller when we were walking back to the car.

He did, however, wake up when we got to Van Dyk's for ice cream. It was the perfect day for a cone and so we enjoyed our creamy deliciousness while standing outside in the sun. Henry even got in on the fun with his first taste of ice cream. He seemed to like it, which is no surprise...he likes just about everything!






When we got home it was time for Henry's dinner. He must have had a good day because he zonked out right in his high chair!




Saturday and Sunday were very relaxing. We enjoyed a fairly nice weekend, weather-wise, and watched a lot of basketball. (Watching our brackets has been so much fun, as usual!)

We started this week of with an unexpected sight out of our window:



I had missed the weather report that predicted this so I was pretty shocked when I got up. Thankfully it stopped around 10 and most of it had melted by mid-afternoon. I was glad of this because I had really missed seeing grass for the two months it was covered by snow this winter.

Before I end this post I want to say hello to Uncle Tom and Aunt Alicia, who I just found out tonight read this blog. :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Henry's First Bracket!



This morning Henry completed his first bracket. I got all of his toys and sat him in his high chair. I would lay two similar toys on the tray and if he picked the toy on the right I chose the team on top and if the left, the lower team. We did this until he got fussy and then we switch the operation to the floor.

I don't have high hopes about him winning, however, it's about being involved and playing...right? :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Seven Months

Today is Henry's Seven Month birthday! It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by. I wish it would slow down!

We spent the morning playing with a new toy that he got for Christmas that he wasn't quite ready for then. He was pretty excited about it and played with it for quite a while.

We also put his high chair together since he's getting to be too big to sit in his small bouncy seat on top of the table while we're eating. He seemed to really enjoy it and looked pretty cute in it.





Just so that we have record, here are some things about Henry at seven months:
-He is curious about everything, especially the cats. He smiles as soon as they walk into the room. He even pets them and only sometimes grabs their fur.

-When he is tired he rubs his hair, which is pretty cute.

-He has discovered that he can stick his tongue out.

-He doesn't hate tummy time as much anymore and now can rotate himself around while on his tummy to get to toys that he wants.

-He enjoys his swim class and has gotten to be an expert at "finding the wall" when we practice getting out of the pool.

-He loves anything with a glowing screen (cell phones, laptops, TV, etc.). We call them all "magic boxes".

-Henry really likes to sit by the window at the front of the house and watch the cars go by. I think he thinks its another "magic box."

-Trying new foods....we haven't come across anything that he has made a stink-face about yet, which I am thankful for! Hopefully he continues to be a good, easy eater. So far I have made him avocado, yams, squash and mangos. (He has also eaten carrots and sweet potatoes from the jar.) He likes to eat apples and bananas from his teething feeder.

-Teething? His gums are swollen and he's been chewing on pretty much everything. He's been a little fussy, which is not like him at all, and his naps/bedtime have been a little harder than usual. Still, he is overall a super kid.


The last seven months have been such fun with him. Each day is something new and I really feel lucky that I can be home with him. He's growing so fast!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tips for Travels with Baby

A friend of mine is pregnant (Hi, Andrea!) and asked for some words of wisdom when it comes to traveling with a baby. I thought this might be a fun topic for the blog since it's Monday and some people (KEVIN!) expect an update.

So...here we go...

When Henry was first born we didn't waste any time taking him out and about. We figured we keep a pretty busy schedule and so he should get used to it at a young age. He slept a lot at the beginning so it wasn't too hard. The biggest thing was making sure the diaper bag had an extra outfit (newborn poops are escape artists) and a bottle ready.

After Eddie went back to work I knew that I had to learn how to go out and about with Henry on my own. We started with small trips to the grocery store or Babies R Us. Again, he would fall asleep in the car and usually stay asleep for the most part so it wasn't too bad.

As he has gotten older and more awake, the basics remain the same...have diapers and food and a plan! I try to plan the drives around when he would usually nap so that we have more of a chance of him sleeping. I'm not big on him having to sleep in his crib for a nap so this works well for us. I try to take advantage of his naps to be productive so if my day requires errands, we plan them around naptime. (I'm sure there are some people that may disagree with this because it messes up routine but it works great for us.) We have a stroller that his carseat snaps into so it makes for easy transfer. Most of the time he stays zonked out throughout our shopping trip.

Here are some other random thoughts:

-Flying: Know going in that it's going to be a little complicated to go through security. Everything but the baby has to go through the X-ray machine (stroller, car seat, etc.) so be prepared to hold up the line. We've encountered patient people and helpful TSA folks so don't get flustered.

-Long Trips: Don't expect to be able to make your long drives in one shot anymore. It's hard to pull over when you are making good time but a sad baby usually needs something...food, clean diaper or a stretch. Accept that your GPS arrival time when you leave is NOT going to be your actual arrival time.

-Diaper Bag: We opted for a backpack style bag. It's easy to use, has lots of pockets (including an insulated side pocket perfect for bottles. It's masculine enough that Eddie can use it and also is convenient to carry (vs. something you have to put over your arm).

-Diaper Bag: Essentials:
-Diapers (duh)
-Wipes
-Bottles
-Bottle of water and formula powder (They make to-go packets of formula powder now but we also have used small containers with pre-measured amounts.)
-Plastic bags for holding dirty clothes, dirty diapers, etc. (newspaper bags work well)
-Extra pacifier
-Hand sanitizer
-Extra outfit (like I said before...poop escapes!)
-Travel changing pad



I've found great joy in taking Henry places. Even though I know he won't remember things we do now, I am having a great time watching him see new things and taking advantage of being able to do things.

I guess most of all, my words of wisdom would be just to be patient and confident. Babies are going to cry. Babies are going to poop. So just go with the flow and do it. You will learn what works or doesn't for you and your baby.

If our pioneer foremothers could take their babies across the country in covered wagons, surely you can take your baby to Target!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Philly

My former boss Donna, who lives in Utah now, was in Philly for a conference this weekend. She had some free time yesterday morning so Henry and I took a roadtrip (just under 2 hours) to see her. I loved working for her and think she's an incredible woman...and I miss her a lot so it was great to see her. She and Henry became fast friends, as is evidenced by this photo, which I took with Donna's phone.



Donna had to head back to the conference so Henry and I took advantage of being in the heart of a very historical city. We had met up with Donna in the Independence Visitor Center so we walked around the exhibits there, got our National Parks Passport Stamps and then got Henry his junior ranger badge! We then ventured out to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell (through the window...the line was TOO long to go see it up close) and then went back to the Visitor Center for Henry to have lunch.




We then got directions to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site and started our walk. It was just over a mile to get there and I am glad that we made the walk. While the house itself is nothing to report back about (empty, nothing exciting on the walls, etc.), the ranger that gave our tour was AMAZING. She has been at that site for fifteen years and you can tell that she really cares about it and is a true fan of Poe's. She ended the tour in the cellar where she told us Poe's story "The Black Cat." The climax of the story takes place in a cellar very much like we were standing in, which made it pretty awesome.

Henry was a happy camper while at the house and so the rangers loved him. So...he earned another Junior Ranger Badge. :-)

Henry hanging out in the Poe Reading Room.



Henry's urban style



Nevermore!



After we finished up at Poe's place we headed back towards the visitor center, stopping to see Ben Franklin's grave on the way. We left our penny and headed on our way.



At this point Henry was zonked out in his stroller so I stopped in a little food court for a cheesesteak. It looked good....but the roll was stale and it didn't have much flavor. I should have just gotten one from a street vendor!

After I ate we headed back to the car and headed home. It was a super day and I was glad that I am independent enough and confident enough to travel with Henry, even to new places. Even though he isn't going to remember these things, it's nice for me to have those memories and to have photos to show him when he's older.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alphabet

I grew up watching Sesame Street so I enjoy that Henry is starting to watch a little bit here and there online. His favorite at the moment is the African Alphabet with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. While you can view the original here, I thought you'd enjoy watching him watch it this morning. He, of course, had been more smiley and talkative before I got the camera out for another viewing.

Note: This is not the video I wanted to post. I have a longer, better one of him that I've been trying to load for two days now...not sure if it's the length of the video or something else that's making it difficult...but for now, here is this one:

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicago and Baltimore

I hadn't gotten a chance to upload the videos that I took when we were in Chicago. Below are two of my favorites from our trip: Here is Henry watching the penguins swim around their tank. He was really curious about them, which was cute.

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Here is a video of Henry by the dolphin tank. I wish I had captured earlier in our visit when the dolphin was right next to Henry for a few seconds. (I have stills of that instead.) Still, this gives you a good idea what our visit with the dolphins was like.

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As I wrote in my last update, we headed to Baltimore for a wedding. My parents drove up to see us and to babysit Henry during the wedding. On Friday we went to the aquarium, which was neat. Definitely NOT worth the full price of admission, which we didn't pay because they were running a special. (8 bucks if you got there at 5 or after.) We had plenty of time to see what we wanted. We all enjoyed it, though the aquarium has NOTHING on the aquarium in Atlanta, which I visited last year. (I can't wait to take Henry there!)








The wedding on Saturday was a lot of fun. I feel pretty lucky that Eddie's friends are so great. Here is a picture of the bride and groom with the Clemson folks.




On Sunday we headed out to visit Fort McHenry, which was pretty close to where we were staying. They just updated their visitor center and it now includes an amazing video telling the story of the Star Spangled Banner. At the conclusion of the movie there is a rousing choral recording of the anthem and the screen raises to reveal a wall of windows overlooking the fort. It makes you feel pretty darn patriotic. If you are in the area, stop by...the visitor center is free. The end of the movie is worth the extra drive off the interstate to see it.







Sidenote: Before we went to the fort Eddie and I kept making West Wing jokes based on this scene, which is one of my favorites of the whole series:

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Windy City

Eddie, Henry and I headed out to Chicago last Sunday. Eddie had a conference for work so Henry and I thought we'd tag along to do some sight-seeing and to catch up with friends. The flight out was good despite Henry deciding taxiing to take-off was a good time to make a very stinky present in his diaper.

We took the train from the airport into the city and then had the adventure of having to transfer at stations without elevators, which meant carrying Henry, his stroller and our luggage up steps. We did, however, make it to the hotel and got Eddie checked in and attended his first sessions. We ordered a late night pizza (Chicago style) for dinner after he was done and went to bed.

Because of the time difference we were up relatively early and had some time before Eddie's sessions started. So we had a family trip to the pool so Henry could practice his swimming. The water was a little cold so we didn't linger too long.


After a bath, food and a nap, Henry and I headed out. I had done some research and found out that the Shedd Aquarium was going to be free that day. We caught a bus right outside the hotel and enjoyed a fairly easy ride to the aquarium. (Yay for public transportation!) It was fairly crowded and not everything was included in the free admission. We spent time looking at the displays and tanks before hitting up the food court for lunch. The view from the cafeteria was AMAZING....the skyline of the city. While I ate my tasty cheeseburger Henry, once again, made a stinky present. The dolphin show had just let out so the women's bathroom was crowded. I saw a sign for a family restroom on a floor below so we took the elevator down to take care of everything. Upon exiting the family restroom we saw a sign for the dolphins and penguins so we followed the sign and were delighted to find a fantastic exhibit that included the dolphins, penguins, beluga whales, jelly fish, etc. I'm not entirely sure this part was included in our admission but no one stopped us or was checking for wristbands at all.

This part of our visit was a highlight for me because Henry seemed fascinated by the animals, which was really fun. The dolphins were pretty inquisitive (or just good at pretending to be) and hung out by one of the windows where we were sitting. The penguins were very active because there was a guy cleaning off the rock portion of their enclosure. They all hopped in the water and were going nuts swimming around.





Once we had our fill of fish and such, we caught the bus back to the hotel. We had a quick change and got to meet up with Logan (good friend from college) who picked us up for a visit and dinner with him and Antonio. They live about ten/fifteen minutes from downtown and had not met Henry before. We had a really fun visit and a delicious dinner of pizza. It was so good to see them and Henry enjoyed just hanging out with them.



Tuesday was another busy conference day for Eddie so Henry and I had another adventure...this time to the Adler Planetarium, which was free that day as well! It wasn't the most exciting place I have ever visited (the planetarium show is being overhauled so it was just exhibits) but Henry and I made the most of the visit.




The best part was a kids area with really cool hands-on activities. Henry was WAY too young to do much of it but I had fun and he seemed at least a little amused.


Astronaut Toilet!

Clearly I couldn't leave the planetarium without putting Henry on the astronaut toilet!


After we returned to the hotel we hung out a little and went out to grab a sub for dinner. The weather was actually pretty nice so we went for a little walk around the hotel area, which is a bustling part of town. Eddie actually finished up earlier than expected so he joined us on our walk. We walked down to the Hancock Tower, where we found that the police were blocking off traffic (foot and car) because chunks of ice were falling off the top of the building! The city is really nice during the day and very pretty at night:



On Wednesday morning, Henry and I had another dip in the pool and hung out in the hotel for a little bit.



Eddie had a mini-break in the middle of the day so we took a family trip to Navy Pier. It was the coldest day we were there so we took the bus, even though it wasn't too long of a walk. We ate lunch, walked around and did a VERY brief walk outside to see the Ferris wheel before Eddie had to head back for the conference.





Henry and I didn't do much the rest of the day.

We packed up and headed on a bus to the train to the airport. We were a little early so Eddie and Henry had time to take a ride on the moving walkway.



The flight was pretty empty so we had a row to ourselves, no one in front and no one in back of us. Henry, once again, thought the time between the gate and take-off would be the perfect time to poop....silly kid! The rest of the flight was uneventful and he took a nap on the seat between us.

We got back home mid-afternoon and didn't waste time to do laundry, make more baby food (I need to write an entry on this), visit with a cousin and his girlfriend that are moving to Texas soon, unpacking and then repacking. That's right...on the road again! I am writing this entry from Baltimore. One of Eddie's friends from grad school is getting married this weekend so we are here. Henry and I drove down earlier today and met my parents at the hotel. (They are babysitting while we go to the wedding.) We went to the Inner Harbor and went to the aquarium because they had discount tickets if you went after 5. We had plenty of time to see everything and felt like we got our eight dollars' worth. Post-fish we went to the Chili's restaurant next to the hotel for dinner where Eddie met up with us.

Tomorrow Eddie and I have the wedding and reception and then will have a chance to spend some time with some friends. I think my parents have some adventures planned for Henry while we are at the wedding.

(After this trip we are going to be home for a while so I can resume my more regular posting!)