December 20, 2004
We decided at the beginning of the month to go to Pittsburgh as we hadn't been since before Jack was born. The trip itself was uneventful -- actually the journey was amazingly calm: the kids both slept for lengthy periods and when they were awake they were fairly happy looking out the window and listening to the radio. Probably the last time a road trip will be so calm for at least the next 10 years. This time we stayed at the Marriott which was quite an improvement over earlier visits. Our room was large enough for us all and we were in the middle of a shopping area so there were distractions (for me while Jim watched football in the room).
We had a lovely time with Aunt Lorraine -- this time we arrived on time! Her boys Gerry (with his wife Roberta) and Scott along with son Tommy came over too, so it was a mini Walther reunion.
And we spent an evening with Stacy, Lisa and Arianna. Stacy had cooked up Jim's favourite: ham barbecue with beans, and she even packed some up for us to bring home. Apparently this particular kind of ham can't be bought anywhere else.
We'd had a huge breakfast at the Trolley Barn where Jim's old friend Bill promised the kids a ride on a fire engine! He's the fire chief so it wasn't like we were stealing a truck. I've never been on a fire engine before, and the kids were overwhelmed. We rode around the neighbourhood and rang the siren. Loudly. A definite highlight.
November 30, 2004
A major milestone last week. Thanksgiving was upon us and it was wet and windy out. We had talked about perhaps taking in a movie over the holiday (what a thrilling social life!) but were put off by the thought of all the crowds. Jim came home early on Wednesday afternoon so somewhat on the spur of the moment we threw the kids in the car and headed for the cinema. We took them to see Polar Express. Anna started in her own seat but was soon on Jim's lap. Jack was on my lap for the duration. And both of them had their eyes glued to the screen throughout -- much to our grateful surprise. Mind you, I was feeding Jack various snacks virtually non-stop. A great success.
November 9, 2004
So many firsts since our last entry. Anna is now in her first real bed. She took to it with no problem at all, despite all the various warnings: it was suggested that we put the new bed in her room while she was still in the crib so that she could look at it and get used to it. Also that we not put Jack in her crib until at least a couple of months after she stopped using it or she'd throw all sorts of tantrums. Poppycock! In one day we moved her crib to his room and set up her new single bed. She wasn't upset that Jack was in "her" bed because she was too excited with her new one. Lisa had given her a set of steps to use for brushing teeth. Smarty that she is, she went and got the steps and set them up at the end of her bed to climb up.
Jack had his first haircut in September and wasn't happy with the process at all. It didn't help that the haircutter wasn't the best, and apparently we got her on a bad day, but at least we got to keep some of the curls at his neck. And I have a curl to put in his keepsake box. Wonder what he'll do with that in 20 years.
There was our first visit in a band's tour bus. The White Band was playing the Norwalk Oyster Fest this year and Marion came out of the city. Great day for it and we had a lovely time catching up and reminiscing.
And our first puppy. Jinks was rescued from a shelter in West Virginia where strays are destroyed after two days. Luckily a kind soul rescued a black lab and her seven puppies, Jinks amongst them. There's not much black lab in her, that's for sure. A lot of little brown terrier type dog. The name was Anna's suggestion. Crivens, help ma boab. Almost.
Jack walks! Once he got the idea he took off like nobody's business. Kind of scary how fast he took to it. There was about a week of the Frankenstein walk and now he's all over the place. Much different than his sister. He can even climb up on to the couch already, and if he falls off he shakes himself and gets right back up again. No tears. He'll be climbing trees next week.
For his first participatory Halloween, Jack chose to be a cow. Actually, he had nothing to do with it and we're lucky we managed to get him into a costume at all. But we did, and he sat briefly with his sister the bee. This year, after two or three houses, Anna suddenly realized what was going on: that she got candy simply at every house. After that there was no holding her back and we kept going until her bag was full. Jim was very happy that she came home with so many Snickers bars.
Anna's vocabulary contribution: Haaka Boosay dooouooo. And if you ask her a question, her answer every other time is likely to be "Two months."
August 21, 2004
Jack is one! Hard to believe that 12 months have passed already. Of course we had chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate filling for his birthday. Sherry, Lisa, Joe, Tyler, and Ryan helped to eat it, which is just as well since Jack had more fun spreading it around than actually eating it. As he hit his birthday he weighed in at just over 20 pounds and was 29 inches tall. If anyone is keeping track, this makes him a quarter of an inch taller and two pounds lighter than his sister at her first birthday.
Until late July Jack's method of transportation was not a crawl, but an undulation in a snake like manner -- very effective and really quite quick when he had a set objective in mind. Then at the end of the month on a particularly nice summer day we were sitting outside with Jack imprisoned in his bouncy chair. We brought him over onto the grass, took his clothes off and let him go. At first he wasn't at all pleased with the texture of this odd green stuff against his tummy. So.... he got up on his hands and knees and crawled. All the way to the rockery and back again. Since then there's been no looking back. He crawls and crawls. Sometimes faster than I can keep up (yes, I know, where's my zimmer when I need it).
Another discovery dating to that July afternoon was the freedom accorded by the lack of a diaper. The other night he was crawling around on the floor, trying to remove what's left of Buzz's tail when I noticed a diaper on the floor. Assuming either he or Anna had pulled one of the clean diapers out of the stack and left it on the floor, I ignored it and went back to my bon-bons and movie magazine. Then when bedtime came I took Jack's shorts off only to find that there was no diaper underneath. He had somehow managed to undo and pull the diaper out through one of the leg holes in his shorts and had been enjoying his new freedom ever since. The biggest surprise was that he was still dry.
His current aim in life is to sneak past us and climb the stairs into the kitchen -- something he can do with amazing agility and speed. He's already fallen down them twice, with full somersaults, though the first time he did have a little assistance from Anna. We now have gates and fences all over the house in a vain effort to corral him in one place.
We've taken one of the sides off Anna's crib in preparation for her move to a big bed. The first night she fell out (onto a pile of stuffed animals placed for that very purpose) but that aside she's taken to it pretty well. When she wakes up, whether it's morning, nap time or middle of the night, she still stands on the corner of the mattress as if the fourth side wasn't missing and calls for us. We're waiting to see how long it takes before she realizes that she can actually get out on her own.
The Ferraros finally closed on their new house in New Canaan last week and we stopped by for a tour and a pizza. We'll miss having them right up the street, but as the crow flies they're still not too far away. What with that and Lisa's great new job with GE things are going to be a little hectic for a while.
July 14, 2004
For a brief moment last night I was 17 again, front and center at the Glasgow Apollo. But it was only a brief moment, and we were really at the Oakdale Theater amongst an audience whose average age had to be about 38. We were there to see the Average White Band, who were joined by Hall and Oates and Michael McDonald. Obviously all on stage were thoroughly enjoying themselves and we were too, through the three hours that they played. A terrific show, finishing with a jam session that lasted another 20 minutes. But what's the deal with long-haired women that they have to flip their tresses around all the time? The blonde in front of me kept dipping her hair in my glass and swatting it at my hands as I was clapping. We ended the evening backstage having a quick glass of wine with Onnie, who's looking great and mentioned that the tour may be extended to Europe -- too bad the old Apollo's gone. Thanks so much, Onnie, for the tickets.
Back at home, Anna's vocabulary continues to improve and amuse. She can now say "cookie" instead of "Dootie", while her request for blueberries is for "benenenenies".
Jack is now crawling as if he's been doing it forever, and at high rates of speed too. For the last couple of months he's been getting around by pushing with his right leg while flailing his left around in the air. Over this past weekend we had him outside, naked, on the grass. At first he wasn't too happy with the feel of the grass so he figured out that if he lifted his tummy up, only his hands and knees would be touching the nasty stuff. Now there's no looking back and he's off and running. Figuratively.
The big event in his life was his christening in June. Lisa and Sherry took their usual place as the Gods, and Bob Waldman stepped in as his male influence. Jack wasn't too bothered about wearing a dress, nor was he upset when he was doused with nearly all the contents of the baptismal font.
Buzz came home from the vet's with one of those bucket things for his head meant to stop him biting off his stitches. It had him banging into walls and tripping over steps so we took it off after a couple of hours. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to be bothered by his tail or the stitches, and we were able to leave the bucket off completely. He still hasn't seemed to notice that his tail has gone and you can see the stump waving around as if the whole thing was still there.
During our attempts to capture the groundhog who has been eating everything in the garden and digging big old tunnels in the grass we inadvertently caught a young raccoon who was none too pleased by the experience. I felt badly for him because he'd obviously been in the cage for several hours before I made it out of bed and had rubbed away the fur on his forehead trying to unlatch the door. He was freed over the back wall, having learned his lesson. We did finally catch the groundhog and were able to enjoy a flower or two for a few weeks until he made his return. I spotted him this morning eating the coneflowers. We're not sure if he's living in our garden or is merely visiting from next door.
May 17, 2004
The problem with falling so far behind is that I tend to forget things that may be, at least to one of you and to us, a little bit interesting someday down the road.
Jack is learning new tricks every day. He's half an inch away from crawling and until that happens he passes the time by rolling fairly violently around the family room, crashing into anything in his path and driving on over it. He's now 27-1/2 inches tall and weighs in at 18 pounds, just a little bit longer and lighter than his sister was at the same age. A couple of months ago he realized that he could use his fingers to pick up things that he wanted to eat. We'd put a pile of Cheerios cereal rings on his table and terribly, terribly carefully and with the greatest concentration he would pick up one, then another, then another until his little hands had as many as they could possibly hold. Must have been scared we'd eat them. Then we gave him a French fry which he proceeded to gum to nothing, all the time pushing the remains up through his two first fingers with his thumb. His thumb ended up between his fingers and he had a hard time figuring out why he wasn't getting the same results as he did with the potato. Thus this picture:
As for his big sister, Anna recently passed her two year check up with flying colors. She's now 26 pounds and 31 inches. We had a little party for her with Tyler and Ryan and the Gods who arrived bearing a wonderful sand box which we've now set up outside since the weather has already turned Summer-like. She can't stay away from it. There's sand everywhere, and she's changing out of wet sandy clothes constantly.
She's adding new words to her vocabulary at high speed. But there are a few words it's taken us a while to figure out. Her word for chipmnuk is Chee-ka. Ketchup is Cheeko, and big truck is Chee-ko. She's also developed her own style of Gregorian chant and will run through her most recent vocabulary additions in a nonsense monotone. "Horsey daddy cheek-a moon horsey" We all know that "please" is the magic word and Anna has decided that as long as she says it, she'll get anything she wants. So whatever she says has "please" tacked on to the end of it. All day long. And it's pronounced Pisa, as in the leaning tower of. Pisa. Pisa. Pisa. ALL day long.
Poor Buzz is at the vet's tonight and will not be a happy boy when he gets home, since he'll be wearing a bucket on his head. For about the last six months he's been having problems with his tail. An abcess kept popping up and giving him gyp. It would go away for a month or so then come back. Naturally whenever we took him to the vet it would just have popped and disappeared. Yesterday it was back with a vengeance, to the point where he couldn't sit down and was sleeping with his back end hanging over the edge of the chair. getting close to him was taking your life in your hands. We managed to get him in for exploratory surgery this morning and got the call this afternoon that he's had to lose his tail because the infection inside was so great. Bob-cat.
March 12, 2004
Well, our Jack popped his first tooth on his seven month birthday, and his hair is now long enough that it can be patted down, sort of.
Winter is finally losing its grip on the northeast and we've been able to get out and about a bit more. Both kids love to be outside and Anna would be out there till her fingers froze if we'd let her. She's in love with the moon and any time we're out in the evening she'll bend over backwards to shout at it and harangue the stars. She's talking a bluestreak and is always pointing at new things for their identification. I'm happy that she loves books so much and am looking forward to the days when she can enjoy the books that I loved as a girl and that I've kept safe with me during my travels.
February 23, 2004
We got a phone call from Manhattan on Saturday. Yes, I know. So what. But this one was a surprise call from one of my many cousins. Gerry and I were best pals when we were little but I've missed seeing her on trips home so it was lovely to catch up for the afternoon when she took the train out to see us, along with her friend Jamie. They arrived bearing a dangerous chocolate bread confection that didn't last the day. I'm afraid their visit was all too brief but it was great to hear how uncle David is doing and also hear some old family stories that were new to me. Apparently grandpa Henry, who lived in New York for the latter part of his life, bought some land over here but no-one knows where or what happened to it. The consensus in the family is that it was most likely useless swampland. There's a lot of high end property around here built on seemingly useless swampland ...
February 20, 2004
It's taken six long, long months, but Jack finally slept through the night last night for the first time. Over the last couple of weeks I've tried to be ruthless with his sleeping and eating schedule and we're finally seeing results. We moved his crib out of our room into the guest room (you'll remember that what will be his room is currently Jim's office until the construction is finished), and that went a long way toward our quieter nights. Since I don't hear every little peep he makes I'm a lot less likely to be up and out of bed and picking him up before I'm even awake myself. Now if I could just stop myself from waking up every two hours in anticipation of his waking up, I will be so, so happy. Six months is a really long time not to have had a full nights' sleep, and my haggard appearance proves it.
Other than that, our boy is thriving. He is so much more active than Anna was. He adores his bouncy chair and when he's not putting that though its paces he'll sit astride our legs and rock back and forth endlessly.
Like his sister he's the mellowest of babies. Unless he's hungry, tired or wet. He's just about ready to roll over and he's got rvery strong little arms.
Our construction is still dragging on. And on. I can't believe that we actually thought this would all be done by early December. We only just have interior walls. It seems as if every step forward leads to another step sideways. Our most recent detour has been the discovery that the old kitchen and dining room floors are so out of level that we have to have a whole new subfloor put down, and during this process it was also noticed that the subfloor in the addition -- the NEW floor -- was out of level. So right now, on this February Saturday there is a gang of men hammering and sawing us a new floor. Until that's done we can't get cabinets in and until they're in we can't get the tile in. I've heard others who've had this kind of work done say that it's never ending but I always thought they were exaggerating. Now I know better. I am ready, ready to have this done and over with. The endless vacuuming of the endless dust and the mopping of muddy footprints.
2004 has just started so let's get into it a bit more before I start filling up this page.
I do have one worrisome thing to note. Like me, you've probably had the occasional problem falling asleep. And like me while you're waiting, you may find your brain taken over by a song or a jingle which repeats itself over and over. Usually this can be quite soothing and actually speeds up the falling asleepness.
What's bothering me is that I've discovered, when attempting to get back to sleep after being up in the middle of the night with Jack, is that the songs that now go through my head are all by the Wiggles. Not Billy Joel or Nina Simone or even Bing Crosby. The Wiggles. And no matter how hard I try to tell my brain not to listen, it doesn't pay any attention and starts singing along with Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword. Hot potato, hot potato.
Now that is scary.
Happy New Year!