Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bouncing baby boy

Genevieve is not the only jumping bean in this family. Will Aaron be a gymnast too? Only time will tell...

He's also getting pretty good at moving around (scooting rather than crawling) and is strong as a bull. His teacher calls him "block baby" because he refuses to bend--he wants to stand up all the time, not sit.

Here he is on the other end of the activity spectrum...sleeping like an angel.

After two bad nights last week, I have become successful at putting him down to sleep at night in his crib with very little fuss. Now I need to teach him to "self soothe" when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He still gets up around 4 am most nights, and I always bring him into my bed at that point. I keep hearing that babies are supposed to sleep through the night by 6 months old, and he's almost 8 months, so it's time. Otherwise I'll end up with another Genevieve --who didn't sleep through the night until she was 3 1/2 years old!


In this video Genevieve demonstrates that she has learned something from all those dance classes she has taken over the past 3 years. Musical accompaniment by the exersaucer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kickin' Back in the 'Dacks

John and I always like to have something to look forward to. I think it was during our trip to Cape Cod last summer (if not before) that he started talking about where we could go on vacation this summer. Considering the baby and not knowing how well he would travel, we figured it should be somewhere within New York State (a 3 hour drive max). And he even suggested that it should be somewhere not too far from Syracuse so that the grandparents could join us for part of the time if they liked.

So he started checking out places on the web as soon as we got back. It was probably April when he started getting serious about it. When he got transferred to open a new Target store this summer, we were worried for a while that we wouldn't be able to go anywhere. But he cobbled together 5 days in a row (cleverly needing only 2 vacation days to do it) and booked Camp Garoga on the edge of the Adirondacks. The place was perfect: cute, cozy, charming and comfortable. The location was just about at Aaron's limit for a driving trip, and it was close enough to a fair number of activities to keep us occupied.

We had some good family bonding time. The first two days, before John got there, my parents came up. We went to Howe Caverns, which was the first time I'd been there in about 20 years. It's exactly the same of course, but according to the tour guides they are planning on extending it soon. Genevieve was suitably impressed.

One day we went to the Adirondack Animal Land, which is basically a zoo with a lot of animal interaction and other kid-friendly stuff. Another day we went to Saratoga Springs, and as I already mentioned, we spent a day at Six Flags. We took turns going on lots of rides with Genevieve of course. Even Aaron got to take his first amusement park ride--the Big Red Car in Wiggle World. :-)

I had never been to a real racecourse before, so I thought Saratoga was interesting. When we were on our way there, Genevieve asked if you HAD TO bet--because she wasn't going to lose HER four dollars! (Incidentally she "earned" that $4 by getting change of a $5 bill I gave her to buy a cookie.) Of course, when you don't bet it's not very exciting so we didn't stay long. Plus it was pouring rain much of the time. The horses were really beautiful, though. Oh, and Aaron got his first taste of cotton candy.

Despite the rain we did sneak in a campfire with s'mores and a little bit of hiking in the woods behind the cabin. On the way home we stopped by to see Grandma and Grandpa.

And John started planning next year's trip...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I really thought it would be done by now

The kitchen project is making progress finally...but still much to do. The whole experience has been fraught with difficulties. Partly due to oddities of having an old house (such as uneven floors and crazy wiring), partly my fault (I didn't like the original counter I picked out) and partly to unreliable contractors (e.g. it took months for the electrical work to get done). One contractor has been great throughout, though, and he has done a lot of work on the house this summer besides the kitchen, including rebuilding the bathroom wall, one of our chimneys and a little cupola on top of the garage.

Here are some photos of the current state of the kitchen. I love the new countertops, cabinet, floor, built-in bench seats and lighting. I still need one of the contractors to come back and finish up moldings, etc. Mostly we have the DIY part left to do: tiling the backsplash, patching and painting the ceiling and walls, and making curtains and seat cushions. Also I need to find a new kitchen table and chairs and install some shelving. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Acrobat

We went to Six Flags in Lake George on Saturday. Despite the outrageous prices of everything, we did have a great time ($25.99 admission for an infant? $8.99 for popcorn??), and we got pretty lucky with the weather. It was overcast and threatening to rain all day, which kept away the crowds, but it didn't actually rain until we were driving home exhausted from a long day of adventure.

Of course Genevieve had to try the bungee-trampoline thing. Most kids we saw just bounced up and down and maybe managed a flip here and there. My little jumping bean did flip after flip after flip...

When we got home from our vacation we heard that Genevieve had been selected for the gymnastics team at the training center. Since she's been going there all day for camp most of the summer, she's gotten to be pretty good. Her flexibility and skills have improved tremendously. In June she couldn't do a proper cartwheel, but now she's doing beautiful ones, as well as roundoffs, walkovers, almost full splits, and working on back handsprings. She can do seat drops, swivel hips, somersaults and other tricks on the trampoline just about indefinitely. I haven't had the opportunity to observe her on the bars or balance beam recently, but I know she was working on cartwheels on the balance beam (just the thought of trying such a thing scares me). They say she'll be competing at Level 4. She has a whole little routine she's been working on. When she perfects it I will post a video.

How astonishing that a child of mine could have such athletic ability!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's fun to feed a kid who likes to eat.

Aaron loves his veggies...and just about everything else. What a pleasure compared to my ultra-picky 7-year old. (To be fair, she wasn't picky at this age either.)
We did discover one thing he doesn't like, though. I have been supplementing a little with formula practically ever since he was born. He always had Enfamil and accepted it just fine. Last week I bought some Similac, and coincidentally around the same time stopped pumping at work so he was relying more on formula. Boy, was that a mistake. By Monday he was refusing his bottle entirely and getting pretty cranky. It finally dawned on me that evening that the fussiness correlated with the brand switch. I picked up more Enfamil at Wegmans the next morning, and sure enough, he's a happy guy again. I felt bad that it took me almost a week to figure it out. The problem was that I usually just breastfeed him, and various other people (father, grandparents, daycare) give him bottles, so I didn't realize for a while. I must admit I'm surprised that he cares and that the stuff tastes different. There is such an array of different types of formula these days, it's dizzying.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Amazing Aaron

Aaron has suddenly become quite accomplished at sitting up on his own!

And at pushing buttons.

And at getting most anything into his mouth for a good chew (no, there's no sound on the video below).

Solid Food

We celebrated July 4th by giving Aaron solid food for the first time. Well, you know, formula with a little rice cereal mixed in so it's a hair thicker. And served with a spoon instead of a bottle. He did pretty well for a first attempt and I think we might have even gotten more down his throat than on his face.

Since then he has become a cereal fiend. He just loves it! We have tried both rice cereal and oatmeal, and he seems to love them both. We make it fairly thick now, and he eats a respectable amount at one time. Sometimes he even cries when you take the spoon away for a moment. Sometimes he also tries to get a hand in his mouth and sing at the same time, which is kind of funny. Look at my happy guy!

Yesterday I tried to feed him mashed bananas. He made the most horrible faces (contrast pix above and below). Same thing when Genevieve offered him applesauce this evening. I guess he's not a fan of fruit yet.

He always manages to smear it all over his face. Those long eyelashes can get pretty gunky. We are stepping up the frequency of baths.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aaron's first camping trip

As soon as school let out, John wanted to take Genevieve camping. At first it was just going to be the two of them, but she very sweetly entreated me to come too. I wasn't sure how Aaron would do but I figured I'd give it a shot. The first time we took Genevieve camping, she was 2 years old and cried all night. John ended up driving her around until dawn. Aaron did great, though. He seemed to really enjoy the outdoors, and at night he curled up with me in my sleeping bag.

So we had a great time. We went to Stony Brook State Park, which is only a little more than an hour away, and the park was beautiful. It's near Letchworth, which is bigger and more well known, but this was just as pretty and much less crowded. We even managed to avoid the rain for the most part (it's been raining nearly constantly all summer so far).

We did all the usual stuff: cooked over the campfire, made s'mores, read Harry Potter...

The next day we went hiking. The trail runs right along the river with numerous waterfalls and bridges. It was great. It reminded me of Watkins Glen, or Taughannock. They even have a section dammed up for a pool (it was freezing, though) and a marvelous playground.

Luckily Aaron enjoyed the backpack carrier. He spent at least half the hike dozing on John's back, and the rest of the time he just looked around and sucked on his hand happily.

The rain started just when we were ready to leave. If only we had packed up the tent earlier, it would have been perfect. As it was, we ended up stuffing a wet tent in the car as usual. At home we pitched it in the backyard to dry out, but of course it has rained practically every day since, so I'm still waiting...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just make yourself at home

This morning I looked out the window and saw this in the backyard:
She stayed for a long time and seemed to calmly look right back at Genevieve and me. I started outside to see how close I could get, but then the kid shouted "No, don't!". Of course then the doe got up and walked away. We each blamed the other for scaring her off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

7-year old, continued

Genevieve is the bounciest kid I've ever seen. Trying to read a book to her is like trying to pin down Tigger. (It seems like she's totally not paying attention, but oddly enough she always does get the full story, can answer complex questions about it and comes up with interesting connections...go figure!) So what do you suppose we got her for her birthday? She immediately started doing tricks on it, of course. Before I could even tell her not to attempt certain things, she was doing expert flips. She's learned a lot in gymnastics over the past year. This summer she'll be going to gymnastics camp for 5 weeks. That should be fun!

One of her teachers told me that she asked her what she got for her birthday the next day. She didn't mention the trampoline or anything else from the pile of gifts. She replied, "my brother gave me the biggest smile!"
This year I told Genevieve that we couldn't have her birthday party at our house because of the kitchen renovation project. We have always done it at home and had a ton of kids running around in the backyard. She was disappointed, and we had a hard time coming up with a venue that we both liked. Finally we settled on Sweet & Sassy, where the girls all got updos, nail polish, makeup and costumes, plus dancing. At first Genevieve wanted a princess party, but then she changed her mind to "fashion diva"... In the end half the girls wore princess dresses and half wore "high fashion" ones. A few of the girls opted for "princess" hairdos, but most went for the "rock star" look (which was pretty funny with the princess dresses). They had a blast.

I always make a fun cake of some kind for parties. When we were thinking princesses, we were going to try to make a castle cake or maybe a doll cake. Then Genevieve looked through my books and found a treasure chest. So that's what we did. It came out pretty cool, and it was actually one of the easiest ones I've ever done. The girls of course went wild for it because they all got candy with their slice of cake. I even thought to bring extra ring pops so everyone could have one.

Overall it was a smashing success!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I have a 7-year-old

Wow, how did that happen? She is getting so grown up. She's so beautiful, too. How did I get such a special kid?
Genevieve was lucky enough to have Field Day at school on her birthday. And I was lucky enough to get the chance to tag along. What fun! Here are a couple of the events.
Genevieve's class lost every event. But these days the schools try really hard to play down the importance of winning. It's kind of weird, because every event was a competition and they were encouraged to try to win, but then they were told it doesn't matter. The tug-of-war was the really big event of the day, and they probably lost because the biggest, strongest kid in the class was out sick. One of the other big boys started crying when they lost. It made me remember how young they still are after all.
As part of the birthday celebrations we brought in a book to donate to the class. I was expecting that I or the teacher would read it to the class, but Genevieve surprised both of us by declaring that she was going to do it herself. The teachers all say that she keeps everyone in line and that all her peers listen to her. It was so cute to see her sitting up there in front of the class, and to see how she really did command respect from everyone. I was so proud of her for being able to read that book by herself. She's come a long way this year. She's really turning into a reader now...she tries to read everything she sees (signs, labels, etc.) and she doesn't get frustrated like she used to.
At home we had a mini-celebration with a cake from Stone Cold Creamery. Yum! The party with her friends was on Saturday...I'll post about that next time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Make me proud

A couple of months ago school sent home a picture to color as part of a bike safety awareness campaign. We sent it in, never expecting to hear about it again, but then one day we got a letter in the mail saying Genevieve had won second place for her grade. The prize was a personally fitted bike helmet. Wow, how cool is that? She was SO amazed and proud of herself.

Aaron hit a big milestone yesterday. Lately he's been trying really hard to roll over from back to front but hasn't had too much interest in the other direction. But yesterday he was lying on his tummy in the crib crying and was holding himself way up on his arms, so I was like "come on, you can do it!" and all of a sudden he flipped himself over. He looked stunned for a minute, then broke out into a huge grin.

Of course this means I can't leave him anywhere he could roll off anymore. So starts the "mobile baby" phase... They grow up so fast!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baby pictures

I already established that Aaron looks like Genevieve. Now let's see how they compare to their parents:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kitchen Renovation, Part 2

Before you put in the new stuff, you have to take out the old stuff. In other words, demolition time! John took out the old cabinets, which turned out to be basically shelves nailed to the walls with sides and doors attached. Probably dated back to before they made prefab cabinets. We ended up putting the doors and drawers out on the curb, and some lady driving by saw them and was so happy to take them. The ugly bifold doors we set out also went quickly. That's one perk of living on a busy street--we can get rid of just about anything within an hour. John burned all the scrap wood that was leftover in our fire pit on the patio. We had gale-force winds, pouring rain and even hail, but he kept that fire going all day!

Then he attacked the floors. One of the really neat things about owning an old house is finding clues to what it looked like in previous eras. Peeling back the layers, we found:

Dingy white linoleum, circa 1990. Under that was a layer of plywood.

The next layer. Faux brick linoleum, circa 1970.

The next layer. Geometric pattern on yellow faux marble linoleum, circa 1950.
Under that was underlayment that was attached with about 200 nails and/or staples per square foot, making for a difficult job. It probably contained asbestos, too. Under that is the original wood planks of the floor. Some of the cracks are large enough to see right through to the ground under the house. Our suspicions that there is no insulation under there are confirmed!
There were also multiple layers of wallpaper. Here they are in reverse chronological order:

There was also light blue paint and cream paint in various places. The cream paint covered our brick backsplash, which turned out to not be real bricks, just tiles made to look like brick. Can't you just see what the place must have looked like in the 1970's with the fake brick on the walls and floor and the "country" wallpaper?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kitchen Renovation, Part I

I've been wanting to redo my kitchen for a few years. When the second child thing didn't seem to be working for a while there we started looking at kitchen cabinets. Then we found out Aaron was on the way and decided to put that project off in favor of the office renovation (so that he could have a bedroom).

The biggest reasons for wanting to reno the kitchen:
1) I hate the floor. It always looks dingy and dirty, and there's nothing you can do about it.
2) The cabinets were poorly constructed, poorly painted and starting to fall apart.
3) The radiator is awful. It takes up a lot of space and only manages to heat up the drawers holding my plastic bags and aluminum foil.
4) Just to update the style.

So about 6 weeks ago, a big cabinet door ripped off (not off the hinges, the wood came apart), and that was my excuse for really needing to get this done. It was great timing since my sister, who happens to be an interior designer, was visiting. I had also just spent about 8 weeks watching HGTV while on maternity leave. So together we came up with a design for the room and went shopping!

Here are two sketches that she made:
Low countertop with glass shelves above.

New built-in seating.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twins born 6 years apart

I swear he looks more like her every day...

Can you tell which is Aaron and which is Genevieve? (hint: you've seen one of these photos recently)