Friday, October 31, 2008

Hail to the Chief on Halloween

Here's our Chief. Jonas the Firefighter.

This is a story about a real wake-up moment that I had today while celebrating Jonas' first Halloween. Is it a scary story? Well, not scary as in ghosts and goblins, scary how clueless Jonas' parents are about a few things.

For the most part, I like to think that Joe and I are relatively 'in the know' about children's issues. I do a lot of reading and talk to a lot of other moms. The events of this afternoon taught me that we are still very wet behind the ears as parents and still have a lot to learn about the children's party world.

Truth be told, I wasn't even going to dress up Jonas for his first Halloween. After all, he's only 8 months old. It's not like we're going to go trick or treating when he's still eating pureed peas and peaches. So what's the point?

What changed my mind was receiving a colorful flyer from daycare saying that there would be a Halloween celebration on Friday. Thinking about seeing all the children who greet us every morning when we arrive--Baby Jonas! Baby Jonas!--all of a sudden I got really excited about taking Jonas to the party. I wasn't sure about a costume. If anything, maybe I'd throw together a little something. Nothing spectacular.

The party began at 3:00. As much as I tried to get there on time, we didn't turn down the street of the daycare until 3:30. Ah, no worries, I tried to console myself. It's a Halloween party at daycare, Liz, not a gala. Just the kids. Maybe a few parents who come early to pick up the kids.

"Huhhh," I mumbled to Jonas, as I pulled up to the driveway, puzzled as to why there were a dozen cars in front of the daycare. "What the heck is going on here, " I wondered. I wasn't concerned until I walked into the room where all the kids were gathered, dressed, or rather 'costumed', to the nines. Wow. I definitely wasn't expecting that. Shit. It gets worse.

Practically every family was there in attendance. I showed up late, a half hour late. By myself. No Joe--he was at his friend's house gluing tires to his bike wheels. And, in my grubby clothes. The one and only saving grace is that Jonas was wearing a pretty cool costume, courtesy of our friends Jill and Matt, who had received a boy and girl costume when they were expecting their daughter Sophia. Thanks Jill and Matt!

Sophia and Jonas

Then I realized that I was really clueless about this entire deal! First of all, how was I supposed to know that Halloween is a command performance for parents?! It would appear that parents just take part of the day off from work to go to their kids' parties. Huh. Didn't see that one coming. Second, when I was a kid in the 80's, we didn't have all kinds of glamorous costumes, at least my friends and I didn't. I am sure that I was a scarecrow, a witch, and a bum because we had props around our house that could be thrown together 10 minutes before it was time to go trick or treating. The kids were wearing amazing costumes made out of velvet and tulle and soft furry fabrics. Looked they were straight from FAO Schwarz. And to think, as a joke, I was going to cut a neck hole and two arm holes out of a Target bag, dress Jonas in it and say that he's a bull's-eye! Can you imagine?! I would have felt like the b-i-g-g-e-s-t idiot! And even though Jonas is too young to ever remember this, surely, the photos would have forever haunted him. Again, thanks to Jill and Matt, Jonas and his parents were spared immeasurable embarassment.

As for the next party, perhaps I'll ask around a bit in advance about what to expect. I'll let some other neophyte parent make a fool of herself. Meanwhile I'll sit back and quietly chuckle to myself, "could have been you, Liz."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

History in the making

There will come a day--it's far off for now, since Jonas can't even talk--but the day will come when he wants to know what was the big news when he was born, "way back in 2008". I'm already looking forward to this conversation. I probably spend a little too much time daydreaming about it. Will we be sitting at the kitchen table, where so many important conversations took place with each of my parents? Or perhaps in the car on a long journey somewhere? Only time will tell. But what I've got to figure out in the meantime is how to communicate the historical impact of the 2008 election season.

Jonas was born during a heated democratic primary in which both a woman and an African American man were vying for the Democratic nomination for President. Hillary Clinton was the front-runner and Barak Obama was gaining momentum. This was ground breaking. Two days after Jonas turned six months old, the Democratic party selected Sen. Barack Obama as their presidential nominee. Another historic moment. The next day Republican nominee Sen. John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is the first woman to ever run on the Republican's presidential ticket. It would appear that we have truly turned a corner in American politics.

Although he doesn't understand what we're saying, Jonas often overhears conversations about the implications of this incredibly important election. That Jonas's father will even engage with me in these conversations is an historic change in and of itself. Jonas, however, is such a passionate and expressive guy that I expect he'll have an opinion about politics-- indeed about anything and everything!--when he grows up. And this is fine by me. In fact, it's what I hope for.

There's a quote out there, of course, now I can't find it, but it speaks to the success of a democracy being predicated upon an informed citizenry. I believe strongly in this notion, and you can be sure that Jonas will grow up feeling the effects of my conviction on this point. I would go one step further and add that the basic tenets of being a good citizen, and by that I mean informed and involved, are learned in the home.

It's all about dialog, modeling responsible citizen behavior, and respect for varying opinions. I don't expect, nor do I want, our son to think just like me, or just like his father. I expect him to arrive at his own conclusions, just be able to defend them. I dream of spirited conversations among our family. I intend to make voting day a family holiday. Voting is a privilege for many, a right for us in America, and our duty. I can't wait to go to our polling station with Jonas is tow so that I can point out our democracy in action.

Now, don't think that I'm going to impart some rosy notion about our democracy being infallible or in some perfect state. Our nation is confronted by a myriad problems that involve corruption of our democratic processes, distrust of those in government and an apathetic population that throws away its right to cast a vote. But, what I am going to convey is that it starts with you, one individual. Don't be waiting for someone else to take action. There will always be someone else who will act. The question is will it be in our best interest, or the best interest of our school, town, our state, our nation? If you leave it up to someone else, you will likely be disappointed.

For now, since Jonas can't walk, talk, or legally vote, he'll have to tag along with me. His civic engagement officially kicked off a few weeks ago with the arrival of my Obama yard sign. I ripped into the box with giddy delight and marched the fam outside to stick it in the yard. This is my very first yard sign. Next week will bring the second civic act, the trip to the polling station. After that it's time for bed. Staying up late to watch the election coverage and calming the nerves with several glasses of wine are saved for adults. You'll get your chance... in 2026.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Auntie Sarah

Jonas doesn't have the opportunity to visit with his Auntie Sarah all that often. Since she and Uncle Matty live in L.A. and we live on the east coast, we only get to see each other when the stars align. Recently the stars did align. Sarah had to come to New York for work and swung up north visit her favorite nephew, sister and brother-in-law. Mind you, she only has one of each of these, but we're all still her favorites anyhow.

Here are a few photos of our great visit.

Waiting for Joe early in the morning at mile 6 of the marathon.

We went to Thatcher Park one nice autumn afternoon for a picnic and a walk. Sarah took some of these photos.

The leaves were nearly at peak season.

Jonas having some good laughs with Sarah.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mohawk-Hudson Marathon: first marathon

Last Sunday Joe ran the Mohawk-Hudson marathon for the fourth year. He did a bang up job. Finished in 3 hours, 7 minutes and some change. This race is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and I'm delighted to report that Joe made the cut. He'll be going to Boston next April to run in The Great Race. I'm going to spare myself from typing of a full race recount, but if you're interested, Joe did a big write-up. His will be better than mine anyway, since he actually ran it.

Jonas and Sarah and I hop-sc
otched along the course, popping out of the woods occasionally to cheer him on.

This was not only a big day for Joe, but also for Jonas.

This was his first marathon 'in person'.

While he was there last year,

being there 'in utero' doesn't fully count. I mean, it counts for something, but it's only like half a point.

Jonas was a really good sport with all the stops, being plucked out of the car seat every 20 minutes, only to be returned 5 minutes later. What he really enjoyed was the finish. Surrounded by people coming and going in every direction. And best of all seeing kids--lots of them--in strollers, everywhere. Pay dirt!

But most of all Jonas was so proud of his dad who has worked so hard. Way to go, Dada.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Super Baby

You know that saying, 'You are what you eat'? Well, if there's a kernel of truth to that (no pun on corn intended), then I guess Jonas is a "Super Baby". After all, he is eating Super Baby Food.

A colleague gave me this goofy-titled book during my pregnancy, along with a handful of others. At the time because I had few more immediate concerns, like 'how the hell am I going to survive labor', I put the book at the bottom of the stack. I didn't really delve into it until Jonas was about 3 months, when, not coincidentally, I was also getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night. It has turned out to be a fantastic resource.

Ever since I heard the stories from my good friend about her adventures in making her own baby food, I always thought that it was something that I wanted to try. And no, I have absolutely zero aspirations of walking in Diane Keaton's footsteps in Baby Boom, a movie in which the mother not only produces her own baby food, but markets and sells it. Sounds like a real blockbuster, doesn't it? I just love the notion of being able to take advantage of the fall harvest and feeding Jonas squash, beans, potatoes and the rest straight from a local farm. True, he has absolutely no idea that we're helping to sustain our local economy, as he blows the contents off the spoon and giggles with glee; he doesn't even KNOW what he's eating! But it makes me feel better to know what's in the food he's eating--nothing but fruits, vegetables and a little elbow grease. And I have to admit, I get a kick out of making it. It's really simple. You just steam the vegetable, puree it in the food processor, freeze in an ice cube tray, and that's it. Tres simple, et magnifique.

To date, Jonas has eaten the following foods: apples, pears, peaches, bananas, prunes (big fan), peas, squash, green beans (not a fan), sweet potatoes, tofu, carrots; and, of course, rice cereal and oatmeal cereal.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rainy Mondays

This is what rainy day Mondays look like for me.

There's always lots to do.

Hope you're having a good one too!
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Friday, October 3, 2008

On the move

One of the most notable changes in Jonas in the last month was his overwhelming desire to m-o-v-e. By the end of August we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do with him in order to keep him discovering and entertained. Sitting in the Bumbo seat was "so childish". No dice there anymore. Sitting on the floor and playing wasn't an option since Jonas couldn't sit independently at that point. The Exer-saucer was a good option, and he could play there for up to a half hour. While I'd seize the opportunity to wash up another round of bottles, he'd be in the living room making a good deal of racket, squealing in delight and jumping so violently that all that little gadgets would shake, as did our bookshelves. What a profound difference from June when he was just introduced to the Exer-saucer and played so quietly. Aside from the stroller rides, Exer-saucer and "tummy time", we were struggling to come up with something that would make Jonas happy. If only we had a little hamster wheel or something.

As luck would have it, our Labor Day trip to central New York ended up providing us with much more than a station wagon full of groceries and yummy treats (courtesy of Joe's mom); we were introduced to a wonderful gadget that would offer up a little sanity: the walker. (Cue the suspenseful music) dun, dun dunnnnn... "Walkers?," you're probably saying, "weren't those banned in the 90's?" Well, that's what we thought. They were supposed to be so dangerous. And to be fair, I have heard that children fell down stairs in them and got into a whole mess of other accidents. I think they have made some modifications to them so that they aren't so tipsy near stairs. But we don't have any stairs to fall down and the only floor with ideal conditions for scooting about in the walker is the kitchen floor. All the rest have rugs.

Our dear friends have a walker for their daughter Clare, Jonas' surrogate cousin.

Here are Joe, Jonas, Clare and Clare's dad, Tim. Clare seems to be saying, "Hey, Jonas. you should check out my 'car'. I can drive it pretty fast. Let's see what you can do."

When Clare's mother suggested that we let Jonas take a spin in the walker, we decided to give it a go. This was a life-changer for Jonas. For the first time ever, he was upright--a major selling point these days--and he could MOVE a significant distance--on his own! He took to the walker like a fish in water.
He motored about their dining and living rooms and had an amazing time.

That was enough for us. We *had* to get one of these. We would have bought one on the way home but our car was so jam-packed with a 80+ pound dog, her bed, a carseat, bags for Jonas, bags for Liz/Joe and a dozen bags (no exaggeration) of toys, gifts, groceries and other novelties. So, Jonas had to wait until the next day.

Since then, the kitchen has never been the same. Now Jonas has the ability to slide up to a cabinet door and pull it open, at least until it bumps into the walker. He takes pleasure in knocking everything off the kitchen's two-shelved cart. He relentlessly pursues Ginger. Her food dishes provide him endless fascination. And it's no longer a good idea to enter the kitchen without steel toed boots.

On the flip side I can now wash an entire load of bottles, or prepare most of dinner or clean out the refrigerator. And best of all Jonas is in seventh heaven.

A verbal description just doesn't do justice to the scene created by Jonas in the walker in the kitchen. So stay tuned. I hope to post some video of him soon.

Thanks for reading and have a good one!

Anyone there?

This is what friends and family are probably wondering these days. I was shocked when I went on this blog this morning and saw that my last entry was 5 weeks ago! I aim to do a little better this month.

We are all alive and well. The month of September was just jam packed. We visited family in Syracuse over Labor Day. I signed on to do a yardsale with a mom's group gal, which ended up taking more time than I thought it would, although it was a good time. I've been running around trying to get estimates for some critical house projects that need to be done this fall. And all of this led up to last weekend when I had to spend all weekend at work for alumnae reunion. I came home Sunday exhausted, only to catch Jonas' cold. Well, what can you do?

All in all, though, life is good, sniffles aside. I haven't had much time for writing emails, visiting with friends, or posting new entries here. I hope that'll change this month.

I'm working on a couple of new posts currently about Jonas' great strides. I'll get them up this weekend. Til then, take care and be well.

Here we are Labor Day weekend.