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December 31, 2003
What was piled up under our Christmas tree didn't look like an excessive amount, but by the time we were done opening the kids' presents the living room was a pile of wrapping paper and boxes from one wall to the other. Of course we now only have half a living room as the rest of it is piled with storage boxes containing the dining room, so I suppose the pile of wrapping was only half of what it appeared to be. We enjoyed a quiet day with just the four of us -- Anna a bit overwhelmed by all her goodies, Jim playing with my new digital camera and Jack being just Jack -- before once again joining Lisa, Joe and the boys for Christmas dinner. I'll post some pictures in a bit.
Construction on our addition has been slow going. We asked that we keep our kitchen until after New Year so there's not a lot that can be done till then. However the roofers have been here to put up the new shingles. At the beginning of the month we had a big rainstorm which brought rain in through the molding of our new front window so the roofers came and put tarps over the unfinished section to prevent any more leaks. That night brought a powerful storm with extremely high winds. So high that the 20 foot long two-by-sixes they had nailed over the tarp to keep it in place were tossed off the roof like so many toothpicks. The sound these made as they came crashing down down the roof and bounced off the deck was bad enough that I retreated with the kids to the family room until the storm passed. I truly thought they were going to come through the ceiling. But we now have a roof on the addition and will fix the damage wrought by the lumber when the weather warms up a bit.
December 23, 2003
We've had a wonderful time with Jane and Mary here. Unfortunately their visit was just for a week but they managed to fit in various excursions, much bird watching and a visit with Anna to the Maritime Center where she ran them to exhaustion before soaking herself in a tank full of rays. They came bearing many gifts for the kids (and for me!), including a life-size doll for Anna from Auntie Betty and a bunch of clothes for Jack from the Darrochs. All very much appreciated, not least my salmon paste and box of tablet. They also obtained a sled so that Anna and Jack can fully enjoy the forthcoming snow. Mary had her fiftieth birthday the night before they returned to Glasgow so we celebrated with cousin June and George and the Ferraros.
December 1, 2003
Here's the kids dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner which this year was at the Norwalk Inn. A big improvement over last year's outing. This was a buffet with wonderful selections which made veryone happy including Anna. And I had a fine time at the smoked salmon table.
November 11, 2003
Jack at 3 months...
I shouldn't be surprised, but I am, at what a difference it makes having two children and especially two so close in age. Time is becoming my most precious commodity and the odd half hour I might occasionally be able to grab is not being spent updating this website, I'm afraid. I just looked back at what I wrote in September about Jack being on the brink of sleeping through the night. Hah! And Hah! some more.
To be fair, he is occasionally getting a five hour stretch from about 9:30 till 3 or so when he's up and raring to go. With a bit of persuasion he can be convinced to snooze again till 5:30 and maybe for another hour after that, though that final hour is usually bought by my putting him in our bed and humming at him mindlessly until my body lets me drag it out of bed.
November 1, 2003
Anna got great reviews as our little pumpkin for Halloween. She loves being outside, and to be out in the dark running around in all those crunchy leaves was much more fun than filling her bag with candy. Jack's a bit little yet to dress up so he stayed home with Jim while Anna and I went to a few of the neighbours' houses.
September 29, 2003
Okay, I think I've figured out this media card thing so here are a few shots of Jack. He is still waking three times at night to eat but the intervals between are a wee bit longer and he tends to snack rather than feast so I think he may be close to sleeping through. He's putting on weight nicely and no longer has those skinny little chicken legs. I would venture to say that his lungs are developing faster than anything else, but then he practices with them most hours of the day. I think he'll soon have reached a state of perfection and will be able to move on to another area of achievement.
Ground has been broken for our small office and kitchen addition. We're being told all will be finished in time for Jane and Mary's visit in December, but judging by the timeline so far I have serious doubts that we'll be doing anything other than outdoor grilling and ordering take-out. We're still not quite sure what our final layout will be, either in the office or in the kitchen. We're on to our second kitchen planner who managed to go off to get married instead of finishing our plans. With the office it's the extremely important question of where my bookcases are going to be. Don't worry, we'll be keeping the site posted as work progresses.
September 3, 2003
Anna Walks! Yay! Not to be overshadowed by other events in our household, Anna is now walking without assistance. It's very slow and careful walking, reminiscent of a wooden soldier, and taking her complete attention, and she's justifiably very proud of herself.
Well. That was a busy few weeks. I wonder why.
We are more or less settled in and less not more, successful at reaching our goal of a good night's sleep. Or at least a stretch of more than two hours at a time. How soon you forget the fun parts of parenthood. But Jack is a good sleeper when he sleeps. He's also a great eater, sometimes getting a bit carried away and choking himself by going too fast.
Our hospital stay was uneventful, for the most part. As Jim mentioned, my room was right beside the nurses' station with its associated soundtrack. And at 10:30 each night there would be about an hour of loud and irregular banging noises. I was quite chuffed when I figured out that what I was hearing was the staff updating their records and snapping closed each three ring binder with every new sheet of paper. I did ask to get moved but it didn't happen.
One of the disadvantages of having a c-section is that the baby is not immediately given to you after birth. Rather, he's taken away to get weighed and measured while Mum is sewn up and taken to recovery. This time around my recovery was longer because my inner temperature would not rise back to normal. I didn't feel particularly cold, but they had me swathed in heat blankets for three hours before they would let me out and before I could actually hold Jack for the first time. I was so hot under those blankets. And there was a giant hair dryer apparatus blowing hot air under the hot blankets. But eventually Jack and I got to meet.
He spent his first few nights in the nursery and by the second day I could tell his cry from the other babies when they were all wheeled out for the day. He is loud. And very active. At birth his rear end appeared first, quickly followed by a hand waving around for attention, and he was crying as his face appeared. Very unlike his sedate older sister. He was breech so he wasn't able to move around all that much before birth. Now he's making up for lost time in a big way.
I was disappointed not to be allowed to watch the birth, but Jim did manage to get a few gory photos which we'll keep to ourselves. The umbilical cord had a double knot in it which apparently means good luck. We didn't keep it. We were convinced Jack looked nothing like his sister until we saw the official hospital photo in which he looks the spitting image. At least he didn't have a wee red string in his hair.
Because I had a c-section I had to stay for four days. All was well until Thursday when I couldn't get the TV to work. In a hospital you need the TV. I called the service number and was told that nobody's tv was working. Nothing was working. From Canada to New Jersey, nothing was working. The great blackout of 2003. I think I was better off in the hospital which at least had emergency lighting and access to cold water and ice. At home with a brand new baby would have been not much fun. As it was, the worst I had to contend with was trying to sleep on a plastic sheeted bed in a steaming hot room. There were three babies delivered during the blackout -- one was a section.
So here we are at home. Jack has regained the weight he lost in the first few days plus an additional few ounces and one and a half inches. Anna is somewhat bemused by this new addition, calling out "Baby, Baby" whenever he makes himself heard. Life has been made easier with the help of Lisa and Sherry, and cousin June who has driven down several times to spend the day and make sure I'm behaving myself.
I will post Jack photos once I've figured out the new photo album software. Till then, here's one of Anna looking cool in her summer shades.
August 11, 2003
Today little Jack arrived. At 7 pounds 2 ounces he is a bit bigger than Anna was, and man can he eat! He was born with his mouth open and screaming! What a set of lungs. We are all doing fine except for the sleep thing. Jo has the first room on the floor and hears all the running around all night. She's a light sleeper so we have to try and get moved.
We of course "wet the babies head" with a bottle of champagne, and I broke out the Johnnie Walker Blue and a Cohiba Esplendido!
Many thanks to the Ya-Yas for their help through all this!
July 20, 2003
Here's our latest press release: Jim has just launched his own company, based in the house. It's a branch of the worldwide computer specialists, Computer Troubleshooters. They have a great track record in their field, are highly regarded by various trade publications and feature in the top ten lists for franchise opportunities. So off we go. The first ad has just appeared in the local papers and we'll probably be spending the next week stuffing envelopes to mail to 3,000 of our neighbours (if anyone out there has a free evening, come on over. We'll even feed you.) Those of you out and about in the Norwalk area will easily recognize us now -- we're both driving cars with the company logo on the doors. We're expecting great things, once it gets off the ground.
July 14, 2003
Sorry, but we haven't developed the latest film in the camera, and the digital is full of pictures of the on-going work in our back garden which wouldn't be of much interest to anyone else, but we did want to post a little update before things start to get too crazy around here in August.
Our pool has been needing major work so we finally decided to take the plunge as it were, and have it completely overhauled. At the moment it's just a big hole in the ground with ominous moldy areas where the old liner leaked but we've been assured that within the next two weeks it will look like new, with a new dark blue liner, new steps and a new deck. We've also had the workings for it moved over to a less obvious area by the fence, freeing up space in the middle of the garden.
As for the garden, you may remember we had the old fence removed and replaced by a cedar post and rail enclosure, creating what we call the paddock. (Daddy, daddy, I want a pony.) Now all traces of the old hedge have gone, we had a few weedy trees taken out and we've now got a truly kid friendly space with lots of room for sporty diversions of all sorts. The back area has a good slope to it so it will be perfect for sledging in the winter, though we may have to set up some hay bales for safety.
All this work doesn't seem to have caused a disruption for our wildlife. If anything the variety of species has increased, though their numbers may be down. The animal getting the most blame for this in the neighbourhood is the coyote, with reported sightings on the increase. Last year we had a flock of twenty wild turkeys and this year we've seen only five. But we've also been graced by the presence of a pair of bright orange Orioles and a couple of Grosbeaks amongst our usual complement of feathered friends. There seem to be more chipmunks around and they're less timid than usual, even coming up onto the deck. We've also got a family of groundhogs hanging around the deck and a young skunk who strolled by the open window a few nights ago. The deer are ever present and we had our annual visit from the mallard family not long ago.
This is starting to sound like a PBS documentary. So on to more important issues: Anna is now in her sixteenth month. She's still not quite walking but the intention is definitely there -- she'll stand on her own for a while and look at her feet, waiting for them to get to work. She had her measles shot last week and now has a mild case of the virus with spots all over (non-contagious, don't worry). She can say a version of "Daddy" and has been heard to call out to Tyler when he comes to visit.
Buzz had a run-in recently with one of the garden denizens named above, leaving him with a bite on his tail which quickly became abscessed. To his shame he had to have his tail shaved and the resultant "poodle cut" has kept him from venturing too far from the couch.
We're counting down to August 11th, the scheduled arrival date of Anna's little brother. There will be pictures!
April 30, 2003
We're not long back from a wonderful two weeks in Scotland. We were expecting the usual Scottish April and we packed appropriately for damp, chilly days with perhaps a day or two of sunshine, but we were happily surprised by two weeks of the loveliest weather with temperatures in the seventies most of the time.
Our flight over was a bit tense as Anna was in the midst of an ear infection coupled with a cold, so most of our time was spent in the back out of earshot of the other passengers and being ignored by the flight attendants. However, our flight from London up to Glasgow reaffirmed my faith in British Airways -- we were put in business class and Jim was plied with a drink (it's a very short flight). Of course Anna slept right through it. We were based in Bearsden at Jane and Mary's great new house where we hung about for the first day or two and I reacquainted myself with the best of Scottish cuisine, mostly Irn Bru, pies and sausages. But the best was yet to come. In the days ahead I had kippers, black pudding, haggis, tablet (thanks Jane), chips, curry, more Irn Bru, potato scones, creamed rice, fresh smoked salmon, and delights too many to mention.
We picked up our rental car on Saturday before getting together with Betty and Zander and my cousins Anne and Jill, neither of whom I'd seen in years, then a reunion of many Hanley cousins to celebrate Anne Murray's birthday. June was over from New York as well as Christine and Wim from Holland and several more local Hanleys. Our car was upgraded to a nice Honda. I wish I had the video camera running to catch the look on Jim's face when he first filled the tank and was billed $60. And he thought petrol was expensive in America.
The next day we headed off into the Highlands, taking the scenic route to Inverness. I had forgotten what the old Loch Lomond road was like but I was quickly reminded on the stretch from Tarbet to Crianlarich. Single track road, right at water level with plenty of blind turns. No danger of falling asleep from boredom when you're driving these roads. We passed through Fort William and the shadow of Ben Nevis and through notorious Glencoe. Jim took full advantage of the many photo ops as we drove in the shadows of mountains whose tips still had traces of winter snow. The latter part of the drive took us from loch to loch until we reached the great Loch Ness where we stopped to visit Castle Urquhart and tried to spot Nessie.
We spent the night in Inverness and had a quick visit with old friend Bill Macaskill before retiring to our garret room in the Tower Hotel. The next morning Anna had her first shower before we explored a bit of the town then joined Bill and his wife Isobel for coffee and took off on the real reason for our Highland sojourn. Distilleries. Jim was in his element as we went from Chivas to Macallan to Glenlivet. We stopped for the night at Craigellachie where he was overjoyed to find a bar with more than 500 single malts on the gantry. We finished up with a visit to the Speyside Cooperage then started back to Glasgow via the infamous Cockbridge to Tomintoul road. You always know when winter has come to Scotland when you hear over the radio that the Cockbridge Tomintoul road is closed. Now I know why. Practically vertical roads throwing you over the tops of mountains and down the other side into blind hill curves. Never have I been so glad to see motorway as when we reached the outskirts of Perth.
Then it was on to Tighnabruaich for a visit with Allan and Maureen Neill whose granddaughter Christine was also visiting. Christine and Anna hit it off immediately. Anna was so enamored of Christine that Jim and I might as well have been invisible. There was much talk of old times and old friends and I met pals from my youth who I haven't seen in more years than I like to remember. This was undoubtedly the most relaxing part of our trip. Allan and Mo are the best and we had a hard time leaving them. I only hope we can tempt them into a North American trip sometime soon.
Back in Glasgow Jane and Mary were organizing an Easter Egg hunt as another opportunity for us to catch up with old friends. Cousin June stopped by, as did Betty and Zander. Judy came with daughters Sally and Christine (much to Anna's delight). Carole McAlpine Scott arrived with her family. Mark and Maggie Darroch with their Anna and wee Paul were there. Another lovely day and one to enjoy the back garden.
I managed to spend an evening with old school friends Carrie and Deirdre, catching up on their news and remembering our time at Jordanhill and the days when we thought we were the coolest. I'm so glad that we're still in touch.
Our trip ended in London where we spent the day with my brother Cliff at the London Zoo. Again we couldn't have asked for better weather, and it was great to see Cliff doing so well. He's still living in Bristol and is painting prolifically. You can see some more of his work, inspired by a recent visit to Palestine, here. We ended our day with a pint or two in a canalside bar then said our goodbyes. We had a couple of hours on Wednesday before our flight out so we toured Oxford Street and managed not to buy a single thing! Made up for that at duty free, though.
March 31, 2003
A very busy end to the month, what with ski trips and birthdays. Sherry lucked into a great deal for us up at Okemo for the last of the winter snow. It's been a great winter for skiers with plenty of the white stuff to keep them happy. We arrived with the Ferraros and met Sherry at The Loft for a wee refreshment before checking into our home for the week. It was right on the hill so we were saved the trouble of transporting people and gear up and down the mountain. Due to my delicate condition I wasn't skiing this time, but Anna and I had a fine time calling encouragement to the others as they passed by and catching up on some reading.
March 25th was of course Anna's first birthday. She didn't show a lot of interest in the goings on until she got a taste of her first chocolate cake. I think it was a fifty fifty split between what was eaten and what was spread on her face. This was followed by opening of presents and the Great Pinata, conceived and built piece by piece by Auntie Sherry, and the beginning of a new tradition.
Then there was a fierce game of Trivial Pursuit which ended in hysterical laughter...
March 5, 2003
At Louie's insistent request we're posting some up to date pictures with apologies for our tardiness. Here we are in March, and it's almost Anna's first birthday. Hard to believe. As I write she's sitting on my lap desperately trying to reach the keyboard. The past two months have been fairly quiet -- the weather this winter has been so dismal that we've been sticking close to home with few new adventures. But Anna is growing by leaps and bounds. She's showing little interest in crawling, unless it's going backwards, but she loves standing up (with a little help) and she'll bounce for hours in her saucer, making so much noise that we have to stop talking till she's done.
Our big news, and it is pretty big, so drum roll please -- is that she's going to have a little brother or sister in August. All is going well so far and Jim's looking forward to our next appointment so that he can find out if it's a boy or a girl. Stay tuned for updates.
January 8, 2003
Christmas of 2002 has come and gone. Anna had a great time ripping up all the wrapping paper and sitting in her gift boxes. John and Karen Brotherhood presented her with a fabulous rocking horse, carved in cherry by John. It's destined to become a family heirloom. Of the many presents she received her current favourite is the bouncing Elmo ball. Most of her gifts are hidden away for a while longer -- she'll be wearing her Black Watch cape in another year or so, but her pink ski-bunny outfit will be perfect for her first visit to Okemo in March.