Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As requested, Gavin's wise words...

Life with a 3 year old is never dull, and certainly not quiet. In fact, there are times when I think my head might just explode from the lack of quiet. But, in those moments of craze, Gavin often comes through with some awesome comic relief. I wish you could see his expressions and hear his voice. But, since you can't, I thought I'd give you a taste of what our daily conversations are like.

On weather: "Oh, where'd the sun go?" This is a literal question. He stares up at the sky and looks for it. When it comes out from behind a cloud, "Oh, there it is! I found it!" When it starts to rain, "We gotta get out of here! We don't want to get all wet!"

When something goes wrong: "Oh no, whatcha to do"

Struggles with pronouns: "My hungin" (hungry) "My tired" "My hurt me"

Everything really: "That's really funny!" "Peanut butter is really nummy"

Great ideas: "I have a good idea; let's have waffles!" or "I have a really good idea!" (Sometimes he just says that, and runs off to execute)

I'd say that about 50% of our discussions evolve around the characters in Toy Story: "Buzz and Woody, save the day!" "Mom, you're Buzz Lightyear" "Mom, Buzz says 'to infinity and beyond'" "Mom, Where's Woody's hat?" Even Old MacDonald has a Buzz Lightyear on his farm... Try singing that verse, "With a to infinity and beyond here, and a to infinity and beyond there"

Some kids ask "Why?" Gavin asks, "What's that for?" Imagine being asked that 50 or so times a day...

... and if not being asked that, how about "whatchoo doing?" "Dad, whatchoo doing down there?" "Mom, whatchoo doing?" "Whatchoo doing?" "Whatchoo doing?" "What's that for?" "What's that for?" "Whatchoo doing?"

He is an absolute nut and I absolutely adore him. I love hearing what's on his mind. He's our little comic, our dictator, and our sweetheart. He is silly and forces us to act silly. I think it's good to see life from a kid's perspective. It simplifies things, and often, you'll find that it can be improved with just a scoop of really nummy peanut butter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A visit to Fort Ticonderoga

Adam's dad came for a visit last weekend. It was great for him to spend time with Gavin and to meet his newest granddaughter, Olivia. While he was here, we decided to take a day trip up to Fort Ticonderoga,  which is near the border of New York and Vermont. The fort sits up on the hillside overlooking the southern portion of Lake Champlain. The views are absolutely gorgeous. We visited on a perfect day, lots of sunshine and a nice September breeze. The leaves were right on the cusp of changing colors, almost ready to make the handoff to fall. Randy took some great photographs; here are some of my favorites. Enjoy.
Fort Ticonderoga, originally named Fort Carillon, was built by the French military during the French & Indian War between 1754 and 1757. The British gained control of the fort in 1759. The fort's location was strategically valuable because it controlled a river portage that connects Lake George and Lake Champlain via the La Chute river. This affected who controlled the trade routes, causing early colonial disputes. In May of 1775, the Americans had their first victory at Fort Ticonderoga, when Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, and the Green Mountain Boys crossed Lake Champlain and made a surprise attack on the British garrison.
 Breathtaking views of Lake Champlain.
When the fort was rebuilt and restored, well after the Revolution, the British government provided antique cannons. These were originally cast in England for use in the Revolutionary War, but the war ended before they were shipped.
These black cannons weigh over 1,800 lbs.
The original fort was recaptured by the British in 1777, which they abandoned once it was no longer of military value. The fort fell to ruins and people pillaged it for unused stone, metal, and other materials. The state of New York took ownership of the land in 1785 and later donated it to Columbia and Union colleges. In 1820, the colleges sold the property to William Ferris Pell, a businessman, horticulturalist, and preservationist. He built a summer home and estate, which he then opened as a hotel to serve tourists interested in seeing the ruins. A later generation of the Pell family rebuilt the fort, according to its original French design, and it opened to the public in 1909. The historic landmark is still run by the Pell family, who set up a foundation to operate it as a tourist attraction.
Gavin was in a grumpy mood while we were there. He really didn't want his picture taken, so Adam held his head up! Of course, maybe Gavin just didn't like the idea of being put inside a mortar cannon. It's a rare occasion when Adam is smiling in a photograph, so had to include this shot!
When the Pell family built their summer estate, they created a formal garden, called "King's Garden." It is stunning, with wrought iron gates and benches, a reflecting pool, bronze statues, and a gorgeous variety of flowers and perennials. Outside the formal garden, are the "discovery gardens." These include a vegetable garden, a greenhouse, and a really cute space for children. All of the gardens are impressive.
I absolutely love this picture. This was taken in the "sunflower house" of the children's garden and both kids were totally pissed off. Gavin has a look on his face that says, "get me the hell out of here!" Olivia is crying, "Mom, I'm too little to sit in a chair. Pick me up!" Oh well... it was a nice idea. At least this photo captures what was really going on!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shake it lately?

When I worked at the bank, there was a teller who would keep his iPod headphones in from the time he walked into the branch in the morning, right up until we opened. I made a comment to him one time and he responded that he felt life is better with a soundtrack. I remember thinking that was a pretty cool statement but haven't thought about it since... until this past week. One of my recent posts was about the ho-hum and monotony that I have been experiencing lately. It seems like life gets like that when it's filled with repetitive tasks like emptying the dishwasher, loading it, etc. One night last week, Adam was working late and I had to make two lasagnas and prepare things for Gavin's birthday party the next day. I was really frustrated because Olivia was crying and Gavin was being needy. I put some cartoons on for Gavin and set up Olivia in her carseat in the kitchen. I then got my iPod out, hooked it up to the Bose speaker, and hit shuffle. "Empire State of Mind" started playing and I picked Olivia up and started dancing around the kitchen. Gavin ran into the kitchen and joined in, saying, "I like this song!" We turned off the cartoons and proceeded to dance and cook. Gavin stayed in the kitchen all night with me and started playing with his little kitchen. When a good song came on, we would stop cooking and dance. It was... FUN!

When I walked downstairs this morning, I noticed a sink full of dishes and a dishwasher that needed to be emptied. I thought, "Here we go again..." and then I remembered our dance party from last week. I thought about my old friend Ryan's comment about life being better with a soundtrack. I hit "shuffle" and knocked out those morning chores. What a way to start the day! It inspired me to write this post and ask you, shake it lately? If not, I dare you to dance around your kitchen. At the very least, try turning off your t.v. and put on your favorite music instead. It will infinitely improve your day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life with Gavin at 3 years old

The little man turned 3 on Wednesday. As the saying goes, time sure flies! Watching Gavin grow up has been the most amazing experience. While I have enjoyed all of his stages so far, age 3 is proving to be a lot of fun. He has reached the language explosion phase and that provides a lot of comic relief around here. I love hearing what he has to say- well, when it's not used for evil, aka whining! After all these years of listening to everyone else, he is now spouting off phrases and telling us how it is. The world according to Gavin is awesome to witness. He tells us what he likes and what he doesn't like. He notices the weather and tells us if it's raining or warm. He makes jokes and sings. His imagination is budding and he likes to pretend to cook us dinner and will ask us how we liked it. Sure, he's bossy and a bit of a dictator, but we're working through that and teaching him to be polite. I actually enjoy our negotiations, "One more cartoon, then bedtime, ok? (More like, OTAY!?)" Of course, my favorite phrase is, "Mom, I want to cuddle you." I am thoroughly enjoying Gavin's friendship right now. He is a good little buddy.

Here is a video of him being tickled by Adam. We call it- "No Tickle Me!" I don't think there is much better than hearing a little kid crack up. Enjoy!

Life with Olivia at 2 months

Our little girl is 2 months old now. She is showing a lot more personality, lots of smiles and coos. I remember Angelina Jolie catching a lot of heat for making a comment that babies are just sort of blobs when they are first born. She meant that they don't really do much and it's not that interesting. I'm not a huge Angelina fan, but I do know what she was talking about. The first couple of months were filled with just taking care of Olivia's physical needs- feedings and diaper changes mostly. But somewhere around six or seven weeks, she started to take notice of us and reward us with her gorgeous smile. She smiles with her whole face, and even at 3am, it is irresistible. She makes lots of cooing sounds and some of them even sound like she's saying, "hi!" I am really enjoying our first conversations.

The sleeping thing is pretty inconsistent. Some nights, we get her to bed at 8pm; she'll sleep until 2am and then wake up every two or three hours from there. Other nights, she's up every hour or two from the get go. She doesn't require much during her wake-ups, just a quick feeding and then she's back to bed. I keep telling myself that she's only 9 weeks old, so I can't get too mad at her. If she weren't such a swaddle-buster, she'd sleep much better. She's very strong and can bust even the best of swaddles. Anyhow, we're not sleeping great around here, but that shouldn't come as too big of a shock with a new baby.

The postpartum thing has also been very inconsistent. I have been on quite an emotional roller coaster ride since Olivia was born. I don't remember feeling that way with Gavin, but lately my hormones have been pretty whacked out. Oddly enough, even with two kids clinging to you, motherhood can sometimes feel really lonely. I guess it's just that you're so busy taking care of everybody else, you have a really hard time finding where your own needs fit in. I pride myself on being a pretty together person, and hesitate even admitting that I have been struggling. Fortunately, I finally feel like I'm getting back to my old self and a sense of calm is returning. Hallelujah!

Now for some baby Liv 2 month stats:
Weight: 11lbs, 14oz (59th percentile)
Length: 23.5 inches (74th percentile)
Skills: rolling from tummy to back, holding head up, alertness, cooing and smiling
Room for improvement: sleeping at night (haha!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Confessions of a stay-at-home mom...

I don't have much to report on this week. Sometimes I have a great adventure to tell you about. Other times, a successful recipe, garden feat, or milestone reached by one of the kids. Then, there are times, like today, when things are very ho-hum and monotonous. I suppose it's good to keep it real, wouldn't want you to think that every day is a New England fairytale around here. The reality is- I'm the mother of two and married to a resident- I would hope that you'd know better anyhow! Both of these can be extremely challenging.

We are in for a busy month. Adam is working in the SICU (surgical intensive care unit) and that is kind of like walking around with a dark cloud over your head; the storm is inevitable. He is working nights this week, which makes life hard on all of us. He doesn't get any sleep and the patients he is in charge of are extremely volatile. By the time he gets home, he is exhausted and mentally drained. He is sleeping up in the loft during the days so I don't have to worry about keeping Gavin and Olivia quiet. Fortunately, he only has six shifts like that this month. But, he has a lot of call nights and will be pushing 80 hours each week- it's kind of a drag all around. We are having the struggle that many couples face when one parent is staying home with the kids and one is working. He is ready to zone out when he is home, and I am ready to chat and be stimulated by something other than Dora the Explorer. It's frustrating. By the time we have dinner, play with the kids, get them to bed- there is just not much time left. I might need to sign up for a class or something, otherwise, I might lose my mind. I love being with Gavin and Olivia during the day and feel really lucky that I have this time. But, there is something missing. Maybe it'll be better once the weather cools off and I can get back into the kitchen. I haven't been cooking much during this never-ending heat wave. Life is always much better when there is good food involved! Of course, it will also help when Miss Olivia starts to have a more predictable schedule! This too shall pass... 

I'm ready for fall. It's my favorite season, especially since living in New York. The weather report says we have another day in the 90s and then it will start cooling off. Gavin and I worked out in the garden this morning. We pulled the cucumber plants that had died off and took care of some weeds. I have some more weeding to do and will then plant some more lettuce, greens, and carrots. While I enjoy gardening, I am ready for the season to wind down. I am excited for some fall hiking. Adam's dad is visiting later this month and we hope to take him somewhere fun. We are also planning an October vacation, either to Cape Cod or to Philadelphia and DC. Isn't it fun that we have both as options? These travels and day trips really help keep my spirit high. It's nice to have things to look forward to and offset the days where I'm feeling ho-hum and too much in my head. And, with that, it's time to get Gavin down for his nap and get this messy house cleaned up.