Friday, August 26, 2005

Old business: staining the deck. After Dan and C's trip to Pennsylvania for Opa's birthday, Dan pressure-washed the deck in preparation for staining it. And we waited a day for it to dry. And it rained. And we waited a day for it to dry. And it rained. Throughout this period, Dan would not allow anyone, including the dog, to step onto the deck for fear of getting it dirty again, so getting into the backyard was rather annoying.

Finally, we looked at the sky, decided that the gathering clouds would just have to blow by today, and got to it. The poor, mistreated deck, which had been neglected for several years even before we moved in, soaked up the stain like a sponge. We barely got one coat on it with the first gallon, which was supposed to provide enough coverage for two coats. So back to the store for Dan and A, unfortunately too late for us to start the second coat until the following morning. We still have trim to finish up, but we're done with the walking surfaces, so we're allowed to use it now. It does look better, but unfortunately due to the bad shape of the wood it still doesn't look especially good. We can at least count on it lasting a bit longer at least. Half-joking, I suggested to Dan that we start replacing the boards that need replacing with Trex plastic lumber, and eventually we'll have a new no-maintenance deck out there; he didn't seem to think the idea was too far-out. Will post photos soon.

This past Sunday was a traditional summer family-fun day of berry-picking at Indian Ladder Farms (blueberries and raspberries; the raspberries are eaten up and the blueberries fill our freezer), followed by a backyard campfire in celebration of the NWF's Great American Backyard Campout (which Dan had planned to participate in, but forgot until 7:30 p.m., at which point none of us were up for it). Dan baked rolls and we toasted them over the fire to make Brown Bears: rolls dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. They were excellent, and we told C he could have as many as he wanted. He was shocked. The rolls were so filling, however, he only managed 2 or 3. Will post photos soon.

Tuesday was Aunt Maureen and Uncle Gene's 45th Anniversary Celebration, with Aunt Jeanie as the Special Surprise Guest, a Re-Enactment of their Marriage by Puppets (and aren't we all puppets, really?), a Photo Video Chronicle of their Past, and of course Games and Refreshments. Will post photos soon.

A has been on an unfortunate sleep schedule for the past few weeks of waking up around 7, napping from 11-1:30ish, napping again from 5-6:15-ish, and not going to bed until after 10. (And then, of course, keeping us up all night, but that's unchanged.) We had her getting to bed around 8 for a few heavenly weeks, which is C's bedtime, and we then had some evenings to ourselves. No more, until she's able to go down to one nap a day I expect (currently not possible due to crankiness). But yesterday and today, Dan at least has taken advantage of the situation and gone out at night with her- yesterday to a Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace meeting, today to an outdoor movie. He'd been frustrated by our inability to get out to evening events for much of the summer, and now he can, a little bit. I'll be interested to hear how the movie went when he gets home- she's not usually a fan of hanging out in the dark- but I hope it went well.

Monday, August 15, 2005

stalking the goose Posted by Picasa

Five Rivers Posted by Picasa

C and his Lemon Boy tomato Posted by Picasa

baby with a tree growing out the top of her head Posted by Picasa

Our pumpkin is growing (green ball in the middle of the shot) Posted by Picasa

skipping stones Posted by Picasa

A picture of C and A playing "train," in which they both put their hands on a box and C slowly pulls it while she walks behind. Posted by Picasa

Everyone likes it. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's been a busy, busy week. Friends came over Saturday night and we had such a good time we stayed up much too late. On Sunday, we decided to pack a picnic dinner and go for a hike at Five Rivers. (We'd been there the day before, and C wanted to go back around dusk to possibly see more wildlife.) That was a lot of fun, and we plan on making it a weekly event as long as the weather stays warm enough. Deer, snakes, rabbits, frogs, and a very tame goose were spotted, but since the trail we chose was misleadingly long we didn't get home until well after the kids' bedtimes. So we were up late then, too.

Monday was Layla and Eliana's funeral, which was emotionally exhausting, plus Mondays are usually somewhat hectic because Dan has a rehearsal right after dinner. Tuesday we went to a potluck farewell party for a member of both Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and Dan's a cappella group. Dan's group performed, and C had a good time with our host's kids. He's still shy, but Harriet, who is 6, was able to successfully tempt him into socializing with offers to show him the cat and lead him to the dessert table. And seeing 3-year-old Evie riding a scooter emboldened him to give it a better try than he does at our house. We left there at 8 to get the kids to bed and to meet some other friends at our house. A had been pretty unhappy for the latter half of the party, but when we got her home and the stimulation level decreased she decided she was happy. Instead of going to bed, she crawled around on the oh-so-clean floor of the pool shed until 10:15, when I decided enough was enough, and it still took me 45 minutes to get her to sleep. I wouldn't have minded going to bed by then too, but our guests stuck around until after 2. The drunken logic of one of our guest's arguments for gunowners' rights reminded me of being 18 again, and not in a good way. No one felt well the next day.

C went to Nana's house on Wednesay, and after the kids went to bed some neighbors came over to hang out on our porch. We had a lovely time, but after so many late nights I was glad that they, unlike us, had the sense to retire at a reasonable hour.

Our house also decided fall apart this week. The pipe under our upstairs bathroom sink developed a leak and the toilet started to run. The toilet was easily fixed (though how the float had become completely unscrewed is a mystery) but we haven't had the energy to do any more than turn off the water to the sink. Our basement generated a large pool of water, which we very much hope originated with the bathroom leak and is not a separate problem. The small front burner on our stove (the one we use most often, of course) decided to only warm foods, rather than heat them. Since it's a ceramic cooktop, we can't easily fix or replace it like we could a standard cooktop, and since it didn't quit entirely I spent several days wondering why water was never coming to a boil. (I even started to wonder if it was so humid the air was just too saturated to allow any additional water to evaporate at a normal temoperature.) The garbage disposal stopped working- particularly frustrating because it had already been replaced TWICE under warranty, and now the warranty has run out. (It's obviously not a good model to buy.) Miraculously, it began working again spontaneously, so we had that to celebrate.

A turned 9 months old yesterday, and got to go to the doctor to celebrate! As expected, the doctor had no useful information to impart about the cause or cure of her constant spitting up, which is getting worse rather than better. She measures somewhere around 29 inches long, and weighs something like 16 pounds, but those are both rough estimates. She's started climbing stairs, and indeed is COMPELLED to climb anything she can. She still tries to go down headfirst like a squirrel, though, so this new development requires my constant vigilance. No more reading while the kids play. She's also wanting to stand more and more, and I suspect that one reason we have trouble getting her to sleep is because she sees her crib as just an amazing opportunity to practice standing, with all the bars and rails for her to balance with. Too bad we can't just move her into our bed because of the aforementioned squirrel descent method. (There is a school of thought that believes that babies/ small children avoid danger pretty well on their own. A does indeed stop at the edge of the bed to think about her strategy, but then she tries to shimmy down headfirst. While she may recognize danger, her judgment is sorely lacking.)

After Dan played chess last night, I rode my bike to the end of the next street over in an attempt to escape streetlights and see the meteor shower. Unfortunately, there were enough clouds in the sky to reflect the city lights. Since I could only see about 30 stars, I figured the likelihood of seeing much else was pretty slim, but I stretched out on my blanket for a while anyway and enjoyed the night. There were no cars, and virtually all the houses I'd ridden past were dark, and it felt good to be alone. But then I was afraid a deer was going to come step on me so I left.

We are trying to plan how to re-stain our back deck before it completely rots away. We expect to get it done by next weekend, since Dan is taking the week off, but we need to decide whether we really need to remove all the old stain first and whether using an opaque stain is a really bad idea. Comments on these questions are welcome.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Old business: C's day camp still sucks, but he apparently loves it, so we're very sad that tomorrow is his last day. I'm hoping that this bodes well for kindergarten, but I suspect the main thing he likes about camp is the stoner counselor who's willing to play cards with him (and probably lets him cheat). Maybe we can try to convince the school to create a card-playing position on the kindergarten staff.

A has added peaches, green beans, and avocado to her repertoire, and is still having a lot of fun crawling around. She's been fussy this week, which could be because she ate oats, because I ate cheese, because she's teething, or just because. We stopped the oats and dairy and hope for improvement by this weekend. She's very happy for the first hour after she wakes up after each nap, but things go downhill from there until her next nap. Trying to give her more naps doesn't work (she won't fall asleep; she's too busy being cranky) and we've tried everything we can think of to get her to nap longer.

Luckily, she put on a good post-nap face on Sunday, when we hosted a family party for my cousin Gus, who just got out of the army. (Well, provided a venue is probably the better term; Gus's mom took care of everything else, which made it very pleasant for us- a bunch of people came to our house, bearing food and beer, and we got to socialize without having to go anywhere. But anyway.) A was very charming for much of the afternoon, but she needs more sleep!

C does, too. He's been getting super-cranky in the afternoon, but will never agree to a nap. He's been getting less sleep at night because it's taking him forever- sometimes over 2 hours- to fall asleep, which pretty much sucks for all of us. We'll see if things improve after camp ends, and if not we'll change bedtime somehow. He clearly needs the sleep- he's been throwing whiny tantrums- but just can't get it....

And last night, in the 1.5 hour stretches that A allows us to rest, I too had trouble sleeping because I was thinking about my cousin and his wife, whose twins just died at 22 weeks gestation. Remembering how horrific it was to lose Teiva three years ago, I hate to think about what they're going through now. And it reminds me how lucky I am to have C and A, and how important it is that I enjoy them as much as I can each day, because everything could change tomorrow. Dan and I used to do a lot of long-term decision-making, and we chose to make some sacrifices for our future well-being, such as living on half of our income to pay off loans/ build savings in the first years of our marriage. We even began paying our mortgage down, and I started a retirement fund. Now we really don't plan ahead. I turned down another out-of-the-blue job offer last week because I decided that it just wasn't worth the busy-ness it would add to our lives. (Plus it was at Union College- commuting to Schenectady? Yech!) We'll need an additional bedroom to materialize within the next year, when A moves out of our room, but I just can't focus on any tasks that aren't fairly pressing. Maybe most sleep-deprived parents of young children are in a similar state, but losing Teiva definitely changed our outlook on work and savings.