Friday, November 19, 2010

Max, the Culinary Beagle

Our youngest beagle Max, has never been a thin dog. He is barrel chested and stout. In hindsight, we really should have named him Wilbur. When he is sleeping, his belly hangs to the side and he truly does resemble a pig. They say that beagles are one of the more food-obsessed breeds, which is why it is recommended to only feed them dog food and no table scraps. We have been very good about this, but nonetheless, Max struggles with his weight. Although we joke, he really is a sweet dog. His love of food has led him to become my kitchen companion.

When we lived in Seattle, our house was set up differently, with the family room downstairs. We kept the beagles down there and they were not allowed in the kitchen. When we moved to Albany, the rules had to change because our house has a completely different floor plan. Now, the beagles basically have full range of the house. They are older now and better behaved, so this hasn't been too big of an issue. Because they are now allowed in the kitchen, Max has taken to watching me cook every meal. He stands by my feet the entire time. It used to drive me insane, and sometimes still does. But, it is also sort of endearing. I refer to him as my useless sous chef. I am sure that he is just waiting for me to drop something, and occasionally I do. But, to his frequent disappointment, I mostly drop chopped onions.

Lately, we have been making up stories to tell to Gavin at bedtime. He loves stories about Buzz and the Toy Story gang. But, he also loves stories about Starsky and Max. I often tell him stories about Max, the culinary beagle. I think these up while I am making dinner. I sometimes imagine Max narrating my cooking, like Alton Brown narrates Iron Chef. "Hmm... not sure what she's going to do with that fennel bulb." Or, taking on an Emerilesque quality, "Oh yeah, babe- more butter!" I imagine if Max could make himself a gourmet meal, it would involve a ribeye, blue cheese, and a loaded baked potato (with bacon, of course.) The stories often involve Max whipping up pancakes in the middle of the night, or convincing Starsky to make a trip to Five Guys for a burger, in which case, they ride skateboards. It's become a fun exercise and Gavin makes up some funny stories himself. Here is a picture of Max, our culinary beagle. I've been thinking that I should get him a collar that says, "Bon Appetit!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life with Olivia at 4 months

We just returned from Olivia's 4 month checkup. Amazing that it's been 4 months already. I finally feel like I have a bit of a grasp on life with two kids. The basic rule of thumb is to have a "just roll with it" attitude. Children are just completely unpredictable. Things that worked with Gavin, don't work with Olivia. But, one thing is true with every child: they grow up fast. I have to constantly remind myself of this fact. When I find myself getting frustrated about not getting things done around the house, I will take the kids out on the front porch. It's gotten colder, but we snuggle on the porch swing with a blanket and it seems to calm us all down. It's these moments that make me feel lucky. Where else would I rather be? Certainly not cleaning the house. Porch swings are therapeutic.

Olivia is getting so big. She has such a sweet nature about her. All she really wants is to be held and talked to. When I am not holding her, she watches me and when we make eye contact, she gives me a great big smile. She has a great smile- the kind of smile that starts with her eyes. Without talking, she says, "Hi Mom! It's me!" We love her.

She continues to be a bit of a night owl, but I'm beginning to call her bluff. She goes to bed around 8pm and wakes up for a feeding around midnight. She wakes up around 3am, but I'm letting her fuss through that one. She seems to be a light sleeper and I'm trying to encourage her to fall back to sleep. The last couple of nights have been successful and I'm finally getting 6 solid hours of sleep. She wakes again around 6am for a feeding. From there, she'll sleep until 8am or 9am. After the last few months, I will take it!

Here are her current stats and a few pics from the past month:
Weight: 14lbs, 12oz (63rd percentile)
Length: 25.5 inches (81st percentile- lucky little thing)
Skills: rolling, giggling, smiling, and doing all things cute
Cuddled up in the beautiful quilt that her Grandma deMars made for her

Happy Girl!
Halloween Giraffe
Oh, yes she did!
I dare you not to love our little material girl...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An early visit from Stewie the Snowman

It snowed here yesterday. Gavin noticed it first and ran to the window, "it's snowing!" Then, he ran right upstairs and got his snowboots out of his closet. He wanted to make a snowman. It was great to see that he remembered all of the fun we had last winter. He said, "let's go have fun!" I had to explain that there wasn't any snow on the ground yet and that it probably wouldn't stick. He was very disappointed, but settled on catching some snowflakes with his tongue and then coming inside to watch "Frosty" on dvd.

When he woke from his nap, he noticed that the snow actually did stick; there was about 2 inches on the ground. I told him that he could play outside once Adam got home. With that, Gavin grabbed my cell phone and said, "call daddy!" He got on the phone and told Adam that he wanted to play outside and make a snowman. Adam agreed, and once he came home, the two of them built a snowman in the dark. They decided to call him Stewie.

It's since warmed back up to the 50s. Stewie is still hanging on, but his charcoal facial features have fallen. He could use a little botox... We still have a lot of leaves to rake up and haven't yet put away our patio furniture. It will be good to have some warmer weather to finish up these chores. Yesterday was a good preview of what's to come. I actually really enjoy the winters here. We live super close to Adam's hospital so I don't have to worry about his commute. And, better yet, I don't have one! Winters with kids are joyous. Just watching Gavin's delight at seeing the snow was awesome. It reminded me of being a kid, hoping for school to be cancelled. It doesn't really matter how old you are; the first snowfall of the season is exciting! It's an excuse to abandon all to-do lists and just snuggle and play. Here are a few pictures of our first official snow day.
"Look, Mom! It's snowing!"
Adam and Gavin's "Stewie"
Gavin and Stewie

Monday, November 1, 2010

Girls Weekend in Montreal

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I escaped to Montreal. We had planned to go somewhere for a girls weekend and waited to see where we could priceline the best hotel deal before deciding on a destination. We thought we were going to end up in Boston, but hotels were crazy expensive for some reason. So, we decided to drive a little bit further, and go to Montreal. I am so glad that we did, because it is an amazing city! It reminded me of Vancouver, and also of Paris. It is such a clean city, especially in contrast to Philadelphia. There is a great mix of old and new architecture. The food scene is fabulous. Shopping is plentiful. In summary, destination Montreal, equals, destination AWESOME!

I was a little uneasy about leaving Olivia, since she's still so little. I was less uneasy about leaving Gavin. (Future Gavin, please do not take offense. When you have a 3 year old someday, you'll completely understand.) Regardless, I knew I needed to take a break from my mommy role. I think it's infinitely important for parents to take some time for themselves. It's good for everyone- believe it or not, kids need a break from us too! I also think it's important to spend time with friends. Because we don't have family here, our friends have really stepped up to fill that void. I enjoyed being able to devote time to those friendships. It was great to be able to have conversations without pausing to change a diaper, or deal with a tantrum. It was wonderful to dress up for dinner, enjoy appetizers, and eat slowly. Girls weekends... simply rock. Of course, it's always great to come home to my babies and an equally awesome husband.

Here are a few photos of Montreal. I'm working on an article for about Montreal. I will post the link once it goes live.
The drive to Montreal is about 4 hours from Albany. It's a straight shot, north on I-87. It was beautiful in late October.
At a great restaurant in Old Montreal, called L'Appartement
Toyin, Fahmida, and Michelle- heading out for a day of shopping and sightseeing 
Notre Dame- Old Montreal
Old Montreal- cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and brasseries
Shopping in Old Montreal