Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Fall Fun

This past weekend, we had a surprise visitor - my dad! He was in CT visiting his brother and decided to venture on north to see us before heading back to PA. Our plans for the weekend included a visit to the Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH, for their Harvest Days.

First, we went to brunch at their restaurant, The Shaker Table. We HIGHLY recommend the creme brulee french toast, or anything else on their menu for that matter! Once we were all stuffed, we took a hay wagon ride to the pumpkin patch so EJ could pick one out:

Then, the wagon dropped us off at the children's tent so she could paint the pumpkin:

And of course, she had to try walking on stilts while she was there:

Sophie was content to sit on Pap-Pap's lap and watch the action. It took her a day or so to warm up to him so that he could hold her! Check out her pumpkin shoes!

Next, we tried to sit the girls in front of a display of mums in their Halloween sweaters to get a portrait, but Sophie wasn't interested in smiling. She's teething (two bottom ones at once!) and has been a bit on the fussy side.

Then, Dad took one of all of us:

EJ decided she wanted a chance behind the lens, so she took this brilliant shot of the mums:

Thanks, Pap-Pap, for spending a beautiful fall weekend with us!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Primary Presidential Politics

If you've been following along for a while, you have probably figured out that we live in the greater Boston area. Enough that we're a part of the Boston market for TV, and the Boston market reaches into southern NH, where all the politicians are positioning themselves for the 2008 primaries already. Already as in...for at least the last two years! But of course, it's really starting to heat up.

EJ recently discovered two terrific books, The Kid Who Ran for President and The Kid Who Became President. She picked the first one as one of her prizes in the summer reading program at our library. She loved it and has read it several times in the last few months. Then, her 3rd grade teacher read them the second book. But that wasn't enough. EJ wanted, no...NEEDED, to read it again. She called the fabulous Mrs. F, the children's librarian at the library, and asked her to order it. While waiting for the order to come in, Mrs. F requested another copy through inter-library loan, and EJ has read it at least twice this week.

I haven't read the books myself, although EJ has read large portions of them to me. She really has learned a lot about how we elect a president, and then what the president does after taking office. She knows more random facts about more of the Presidents than I would ever remember. For example, which President died of pneumonia only a month after taking office? (Answer below)

Anyway, while watching Chronicle last night, a commercial for Hilary Clinton came on. EJ said "Wow, if she wins, will she be the first female President?" Yes, I answered. "Cool!" Then I had to open my mouth and say how we live close enough that perhaps we could go to see some of the candidates as they are making rounds in NH. "Wicked cool!" Guess I'll be checking out candidate schedules to see who we can go see over the next few months.

Anyway, could be a good educational thing since she's so tapped into the subject right now. I'm heading to DC on business in a few weeks and we originally thought of taking the whole family along to do sightseeing for a few days, but after our busy schedule over the last few weeks, we just couldn't do it. I'll take lots of pictures for her and maybe I can find some more books while I'm there.

By the way, she does say that she wants to be President some day. She said that Sophie can't be President since she was born in China. But Sophie can be the Empress of China instead, she said. And the first law she would make? "I would outlaw tattoos!" Whatever.
Answer: William Henry Harrison

Day Two of daycare

Well, Miss Sophie cried a bit during drop-off at daycare this morning when K left. Poor baby. But when he went back at lunchtime to pick her up, she was happy to see him, and they reported that she only cried for a few minutes and then recovered nicely. No fingerpainting today, but she did glue some apples onto a tree for her project. She is eating well for them...yesterday, we sent a banana for her snack. They started with half of it, and said she still seemed hungry. She ended up eating the ENTIRE banana! And then she ate an apple pancake and 1/3 of a sausage link for dinner. Tonight, a stuffed shell with sauce and two brussell sprouts!

Tonight before bed, I made 6 ounces of a 50/50 mixture of milk and formula, heated it up, and put it in the sippy cup, but served it to her as though it was a bottle - that is, she reclined in my arms and I held the cup like a bottle. It has a nifty little mouthpiece that is soft like a bottle nipple, but she has to chomp down on it and suck to get the milk out. Well, she CHUGGED it down, and when I tipped her up to burp her, she used the sign for "more". So, K went and heated up about 2 ounces of plain milk, which she also drank right down. Maybe tomorrow we'll try a 60/40 mix. I just don't remember how we switched EJ from formula to milk and overcame the temperature factor. It's been too long...

And taking Sophie for a portrait this past weekend was good practice for her, as tomorrow is picture day at daycare! And EJ's picture day is Thursday. I'm gonna go broke buying photos...

Monday, September 24, 2007

First Day of School - Take 2!

Today was Sophie's first day of daycare. K starts a new job next week, so we thought we'd start her a week early to ease her into it a bit. He dropped her off this morning around 9:30 and snuck out while she was preoccupied watching the activities. He went back around lunch time to pick her up and he said that she reached out her arms for him. They said she did really well and didn't cry or anything, so that is a good sign, huh? Apparently, she really liked the fingerpainting they did today too! Yikes...can you imagine fingerpainting with one-year olds?

Of course, the timing is tricky for yet another change - we're trying to switch her from formula to milk (we're at about 50/50 now), but she really likes her bottles very warm so we've been taking the chill off the milk. Ewwww, I love milk, but it's gotta be ice cold!

More about K's job...he seems to have job opportunities land in his lap when he's least looking for them. Just as he was all settled into his Super Dad role, a former co-worker called him a few months ago to mention a possible future opportunity, he talked to them, and the offer came a few weeks ago!

I remember when we were DINKs (double incomes, no kids). I'm not sure what we are about to become...DIDDs (double incomes, double daughters)? DID-Cies (double incomes, double craziness)? Whatever...with EJ and Sophie, it'll still be double the fun!

P.S. I forgot to give an update about Sophie's portrait session for her first birthday. She was so giggly going in, and then totally clammed up when it was time to take the pictures! She was staring so intently at the poor woman trying to take the photos. Finally, I jumped in front of the platform, sat on the floor and stuck a big giant flower in her face to get the smile, and then ducked out of the way so the photo could be taken. It was a LOT of work to get her to smile! But at least she didn't cry. They took about 12 photos, and there was one that came out just adorable (her with her stuffed panda), and one other that I ordered. I'll have them back in about two weeks.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn in New England

Today is the first day of Autumn. This is why we love New England. Before living here, we were in southwest Florida for 7.5 years. No autumn there. The start of autumn in Florida means that you only have about two more months before you can turn off the air conditioning.

Anyway, we decided to take advantage of yet another weekend of gorgeous weather and go pick a few apples. This year, we went to a very small local farm. No crowds, no craziness, and a small farm stand with apple cider. Of course, we couldn't find any ladders around, so EJ had to improvise for reaching the apples that were up high:

She picked a small bright red one for Sophie, who seemed to know immediately what to do with it.

EJ eats as many apples as she picks.

And Sophie was missing out on the fun, so I took a few little bites out of hers so she could suck the juice.

Here are the H gals, about as close to being true farmers as we're ever going to get:

Next, we went to the pumpkin patch. Well, it was more like a pumpkin pallette. The patch is on the other side of the farm, so they truck the pumpkins closer. Sophie didn't seem impressed by the pumpkins at all. Perhaps they need to have a face carved into them.

I think she was more distracted by her sister's apple:

Friday, September 21, 2007

More portraits

I was trying to catch some photos of Sophie cruising around the coffee table tonight. She has become very bold in the last 24 hours...standing up while only holding on with one hand, or venturing to take a few little baby steps while holding onto the table. Didn't catch any of those steps worth sharing, but I did swing around and catch this one of EJ. Got rid of the red eyes, played with the finishing a did we ever live without digital photography?
Which one do you like better - black and white or sepia?
Anyway, tomorrow I'm taking Sophie for some portraits for her first birthday. I have the cutest little fall outfit for her to wear. Let's hope they get a few good shots in before her lower lip starts quivering.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sisters, Sisters...

...there were never such devoted sisters. That's how the song goes from one of EJ's favorite holiday movies, White Christmas. That's what I think of when I look at this picture. Sophie loves her big sister SO MUCH. Her face lights up when EJ walks in the room or gets off the bus in the afternoon. The last few nights after dinner, we've let EJ chase Sophie and I around the house. Sophie just squeals and giggles with delight, kicking and bouncing all the way. She gives EJ lots of hugs and kisses. She's been very snuggly the last few weeks...lots of big hugs, sloppy open-mouthed kisses (complete with formula breath!), and she just can't blow a single kiss - you always get at least four or five. And of course, EJ loves her little sister too...she loves to play with her and helps to take care of her.

And speaking of formula, the doctor gave us the clearance to move Sophie to milk. We are not quite halfway through the last can of formula, and as all you mothers of infants can relate to, we are thrilled to have a few more $$ in our pockets every month. Can you believe that stuff costs $23 a can, and we go through a can every 5 days?!?! And a $23 can only makes about 150 ounces. And you thought the cost of gasoline was high.

Sophie is also tired and bored with her baby food; she pushes it away. Luckily, we don't have a lot of it left. She has been eating anything and everything that we eat, cut up into very teeny tiny pieces until those teeth come in. Tonight, she enjoyed the pork roast and mashed potatoes more than her sister did.

What's wrong with the Sox?

Sheesh. It's actually been a boring baseball season until the last week or so. The Red Sox have been in first place for all but about two weeks of the season (since April 18th, I think). Until their loss last night, they had the best record (90-63), but now two other teams, Cleveland and LA, have records of 90-62, so they've even lost that claim. And most importantly, what was once an 11.5 game lead over those darn Yankees is now down to a game and a half.

Of course, Red Sox Nation is in a panic. And we should be. I mean, if the season's going to implode, it usually happens right after the All Star break. This year, things were different. We cruised along our merry way after the break. In fact, we cruised along just fine until the series with the Yankees last weekend.

Sigh. We pretty much know at this point that we'll still be playing in October (but not mathmatically ruled out yet), but it would be nice to finish with the Sox on top of the division, not getting into the playoffs as the wildcard...again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sophie's Dr's Visit

Sophie had her 1 year old exam today, which included two shots. She weighed in at 17.25 pounds, which is up about three pounds from three months ago, but still classifies her as a lightweight. She's 28 inches long, which is in the 25th percentile. And, the doctor noticed that her first tooth had just broken through the gums...we've been waiting for it for weeks now! Pap Pap S said that she is ready for steak now! Not so sure about that, but she LOVED the mandarin chicken we made for dinner...chicken, noodles, summer squash, mandarin oranges. Yummy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More weekend fun

Before we left for the Cape on Saturday, Sophie decided to help us "decorate" the family room by pulling everything off of the coffee table and onto the floor. And she laughed the entire time. I was NOT laughing as I picked it up for about the 4th time and she came behind me and started again...

And here is another photo from EJ's Fashion Week (aka what well-dressed third-graders are wearing this season). There's something about this photo that scares me...she almost looks too comfortable striking a pose! You'll notice that her hair has gotten even shorter - she had another few inches taken off last week.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Misc. Friday Fun

Ahhh...the end of another week. And another weekend we won't be at home. We're off to Cape Cod to visit some friends and enjoy some merriment. Here are some shots from the week.

K and the girls picked some apples from our tree tonight. There are more there than ever before (the tree was planted a few weeks before EJ was born about 8.5 years ago). Some of the apples were a little wormy, so I'm not sure how many we'll be able to eat.

This was fashion week in New York. Here's what the well-dressed third graders are wearing this season:

And speaking of fashion, check out these cool Halloween sweaters I picked up on eBay:

People don't seem to believe me when I tell them Sophie eats anything. Here she is chomping on a baby dill pickle tonight:

Monday, September 10, 2007

My very first birthday! (a post by Sophie)

Today was my very first birthday! I was so excited for it I could hardly contain myself. The partying started yesterday when we had a nice lunch with Mommy's cousin, C and her family. Then, Mommy made me this panda birthday cake:

I clapped when she showed it to me!

To my delight, I discovered that I got to EAT some of the cake. Mommy cut a little piece and placed it in front of me. I thought I would start by licking the icing...

...but quickly learned that it was far more fun to squish my fingers in it!

And then, what the heck - I decided to pick up the entire piece and try to shove it in my mouth!

I made sure that I didn't miss a single crumb.

Oh man, that was good cake! Mommy said it's a secret family recipe called a screwball cake.

Next, it was time to open some presents! Hmmm....wonder what's in here?

I got a really neat shape sorter...

and this cool telephone:

And finally, my sister EJ got me this really cool xylophone! I love it! My eyes get all big when EJ plays me a song. All in all, a great first birthday. How many more days till I can eat cake again?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Big Brother Binky

One of EJ's favorite TV shows has always been Arthur on PBS. Although she seems to have outgrown it, she will occasionally catch an episode, watch one of the videos, or read one of the books.

We were very excited to recently learn that one of Arthur's best friends, Binky, is about to become a big brother to a baby sister from China! The episode premiers in the Boston market tomorrow, Sept 7th. We are all set up to record it to the PC. Rumors online indicate that the writers and producers of this episode did a tremendous amount of research to present the information correctly. Perhaps I can write a review later over the weekend!

From the PBS website, here is the description of the episode: "In this special two-part episode, Binky's family adopts a baby girl from China. Binky receives the news of getting a baby sister with great excitement, and he delights in helping prepare for her arrival and visiting China. Although Binky sometimes worries about how his life will change, and more importantly, whether his new sister will even like him, Binky becomes the proudest big brother in Elwood City. "

Monday, September 3, 2007

Camden, Maine

We went to Camden, ME this weekend for Windjammer Weekend. A fleet of local schooners come in for the weekend. They have crew talent shows, fireworks, chowder cook-offs, and build-your-own boat races. Lots of fun, and a beautifully quaint New England town to host it all.

After sitting in miserable traffic to get across the Wiscasset bridge on route 1, we made it there by dinnertime on Friday. On Saturday morning, we went to the Camden farmer's market, where we took a horse-drawn wagon ride (an EJ tradition) with horses Doc and Rowdy. Sophie liked petting them as much as EJ.

The farmer's market is a real treat. They have amazing produce, baked good, flowers, woolen scarves, and a bellydancer. Yes, a bellydancer. Not sure how that fits in, but... We bought blueberries, blackberries, homemade bread, dilly beans, and sticky buns!

That afternoon, our friends B and D came up to spend the day. We went to lunch and toured some of the windjammers.

On Sunday morning, we drove just north of town to Camden Hills State Park. We took the auto road to the top of Mount Battie to look out over the harbor. It's a stunning view.

Sophie enjoyed climbing on the rocks:

That night, Sophie was very adamant about using sign language (okay, just the one sign she knows so far) to tell us she wanted "MORE" chicken soup!

She also enjoyed her first campfire:

My friend KL from work stayed at the same campground this weekend, so EJ had fun hanging out with her girls and their friend.

Since Sophie awoke at the crack of dawn today, we thought we would get on the road early, take a different road home to avoid the Wiscasset bridge, stop at LLBean, and beat all the traffic home. We were on the road by 9:30. Took route 17 to Augusta, and then south on 95. Got to Freeport around 11. So far, so good. Spent about 1.5-2 hours in Freeport. Got back on the road, and just as the traffic was starting to slow down around Wells, Maine, we blew a tire on the trailer! A call to AAA was a big help, but it took them about an hour to get to us, and then another 20-30 minutes to take care of the tire.
Those nice people in Maine, though. A state trooper stopped to check on us just 10-15 minutes after we stopped. He wanted to make sure we were all right, had enough water (it was hot today), and of course, run our registration just to make sure we didn't have any outstanding warrants! He didn't know that those of us who have been through the adoption process have squeaky clean records!
Now, the radio was reporting an 8 mile backup on 95 south. But it really wasn't that was much worse! It was more like an 8 mile backup to the toll booths, and another 8 mile backup to the NH border. Yikes, it was bad. But again, those nice Mainers. They know how to treat their vacationers. Heck, they don't call it Vacationland for nothing! As we were pulling into the toll booth, there were nice people there giving every car a free moose cookie cutter, complete with recipes featuring Maine maple syrup and a special message from the governor thanking us for visiting. A few years ago, we received a Maine mousepad.