Monday, March 30, 2009

A few new pix

I realized that I haven't a recent of Jonas on here in awhile. He's growing and changing every day, so I thought I'd post a few photos from the weekend.

We took a whirlwind trip to Syracuse for business and pleasure. We had the great honor of seeing our friends Isaac & Jessa perform in a dazzling adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. (Isaac and Jessa are in 4th and 2nd grades.) We also got to meet up with family (sorry, Tony, we never got a photo of you and Jonas!) and friends.

Jonas and Mima.

I think Jonas was a little tired. He's kind of like his mother--he doesn't have much of a poker face. Whatever he's feeling, you'll know it.

Jonas had so much fun that by the second day, he faded quickly.

Jonas LOVES getting into cabinets these days, especially ones stocked with pots and pans that make a lot of racket when you pull them out.

He's really pleased with himself that he got the door open here. Grandpa Toto doesn't have child latches, but Jonas doesn't know that. He thinks he's the clever one who outsmarted the door.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day by day

During uncertain times, I've always found the advice, "just take it day by day", good counsel to follow. Below are ten highlights of my day.

1. Listening to Jonas get "out of breath" when he drinks from his sippy cup, which he has finally gotten the hang of.

2. Enjoying "bonus free time" to work in the yard (spring clean up) while Jonas took two, uncommonly long naps.

3. Seeing the first courageous blades of grass poke up through the hard-packed earth.

4. Reveling in the absence of snow. Seems strange to me to write this, as I love ALL the seasons, winter included. But this year, we really had three relentless months of hard-core winter.

5. Witnessing Jonas take SIX steps in a row until he dove into my arms. I think we're going to have a walker here really soon, folks.

6. Savoring an awesome mayonaise-free coleslaw recipe with chicken sausage "dogs" along with my guys.

7. Being amused as Jonas repeatedly produces his goofy laugh. It sounds like a forced laugh, and it seems like he does it just to hear himself laugh. Then, after he hears himself, he has a real laugh. And on and on, it goes, fiften times in a row.

8. Being struck when at dinner tonight Jonas started to mimic Ginger, who was panting. Ginger was waiting beside the table, hoping anyone would give her a morsel. She was especially excited about the chicken sausage, so at one point she started panting. Jonas had been watching her. All of a sudden he started panting with dramatic flair.

9. Laughing heartily as Jonas points to the image of the baby on the yogurt container with sharp-shooter precision. We've been doing this for a month now. "Jonas," I ask, "where is the baby?" The second he finds the baby, he puts the tip of his chubby little index finger right over the baby's face. Sorry, baby.

10. Having good health to be able to enjoy every moment of this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pass it on

Today I went to the mother of all consignment sales. It was AMAZING! While I was less than enthused about standing in line for 1.5 hours to check out, I walked out with more than an arm-full of terrific deals having paid out only 50 clams. Not bad, I'd say. (Typically, you don't have to stand in line that long. I just happened to arrive at the worst possible time today.)

Last year I experienced for the first time the sheer awe of an entire field house filled with everything from bassinets and strollers to Halloween costumes, bottles and bottle warmers to books, and rows and rows of clothing. Jonas was just a few weeks old and it was our "outing" for the day. I was so proud of myself just for getting out. I was tickled pink and doubly proud of the wicked buys I found. There was no way I was going to miss it this year.

Now, as you can see, the economic side of this is clearly a driver for me. But it's more than that. I just love the notion of passing things along. Why does everything need to be brand spankin' new? So we can each use something for a few years and toss it in a landfill? Now, my husband would be the first to tell you that I don't part with things easily, but he knows that I can do it. You can't hold on to everything. The key for me is just knowing that something has had a good long, productive life.

My dad, who is a retired teacher, used to have a plaque up in his classroom that offered a few pearls of wisdom:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do, or
Do without.

Words to live by.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Top of the mornin' to ya, friends and family! Happy St. Patty's Day!! Check out me hat. Do ya like it?

Today was a big day of celebration at daycare. It's Jonas' "oldest friend" Sophia's first birthday (they've "known" each other since they were in the womb) AND it's St. Patrick's Day. So, there was cake eating and hat making, lots of festivities!

I pulled into the driveway of daycare this afternoon and burst out laughing when I spied Jonas sitting there, happy as a clam in the spring warmth, sporting this kick ass hat. It's part Pilgrim hat, part bishop's miter. Can't you see the similarity with St. P's pointy hat? Now, all he needs is a staff to chase away all the snakes.

Come to find out, most of the other kids weren't especially interested in wearing the hat, but Jonas was. And he wore it with pride. And he should wear it with Irish pride--he can claim about 10% Irish heritage, maybe a tiny bit more.

Hey, check it out. This is my lounge lizard look.

This is the other thing that we deal with pretty much 99% of the time: Jonas wanting to explore everything.

See my hand there in the foreground? I was saying, "No, Jonas. Just stay there a second so I can take this photo." See that little grin? He's laughing and thinking, "Nah, I don't think so, Mom. It's more fun if you try to take the photo AND keep me from crawling right off this step."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting pretty close

I wanted to post a quick update on the status of Jonas' walking. Officially, he's still moving about like a quadruped--occasionally, he scoots across the kitchen on his knees--but he is *really* close to walking upright, on two feet! Over the weekend we watched with great excitement as Jonas took two steps, completely unassisted. I'm not sure that he realized what had happened, and the screaming, cheering, clapping, and jumping up and down that followed probably confused him even more.

It's really so exciting to see him try to figure out how to balance, then shift his weight from one foot to the other. He's a pretty cautious fellow, so we try to give him lots of encouragement to take that risky step, before he thinks better of it and flops down to his knees, where everything is more certain.

If I had to bet on it, I'd say that we're going to have a walker here within a few weeks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red badge of courage

If Jonas were ever to pursue an Eagle badge, I don't know if he'll even be interested in Boy Scouts, (I was never allowed in the Girl Scouts... they didn't teach enough "life skills" in my parents' estimation. Somehow 4-H made the grade, though.), but anyway, if he did, he certainly earned his first merit badge today.

In New York, at 12 months babies are supposed to be tested for lead. We certainly hope, and would expect, that Jonas' levels are negligible, but we thought it was worth getting him tested. Today was the dreaded blood test day.

I had called the lab last week to ask whether they had someone who was good with kids. They advised coming in on Sat. Somehow I was relieved that it'd be on a Saturday. I'd have less to worry about, I convinced myself. However, once I got up this morning and started getting ready to go, I don't think I was any less relieved.

We all three went to the lab. Jonas took in the crew of characters in the waiting room, charmed by their newness, and was blissfully ignorant of what awaited him. Joe was calm, playing with his smart phone, and tried to keep up the appearance that this whole thing "just wasn't a big deal". Notice, I said, "tried to". I believe that secretly he was just as unsure of this as I was, but that he thought he had to maintain composure. I was a wreck inside. I sat beside Joe and Jonas and spaced out. I kept re-assuring myself that these people 'knew what they're doing', and that it's better to know than not know, that this is 1 minute of his life that he won't remember anyway, and that some kids have it a lot worse. None of it calmed my hyper nerves.

They called Jonas' name. We went back to little room #4. The phlebotomist told Joe to sit down and hold Jonas around the waist with one arm and Jonas' left arm from underneath so that he didn't move it. I looked on barely able to contain my "helpful suggestions". For example, perhaps it'd be better if we immobilized Jonas. If only the guy could know just how Jonas forcefully writhes about during his diaper changes! And that doesn't involve any needle pricking!

Jonas' wide eyes danced as they scanned every surface in the little room. I saw a glimmer in his eye when he spied the assorted, brightly colored vials. Meanwhile, I tried to stay out of the way, but close-by, practically tripping over the phlebotomist. I was nearly paralyzed with dread as my stomach lurched into my throat. I hoped that Joe could control Jonas. I hoped this guy could work fast and painlessly. I anticipated the scream of surprise and a stream of plaintive cries.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Jonas watched the guy flicking his arm trying to get a vein to surface. No luck. Ok, other arm. I released a huge exhale. "Ok, brace yourself, Liz. It's all for the best... blah, blah, blah..." The look on Jonas' face had turned to amusement. Who is this guy? What the heck is he doing with that white rubber band to my arm? Look at all those colors! I'd like to sort out all those test tubes. First, I'd move them to all the empty squares, then I'd group them by color...

I braced myself again, holding my breath. Nothing. No vein, again. He ran to get a finger stick. That was better than the big needle I rationalized. Still, what if he pulls his finger away? When I got my finger pricked last, the nurse slipped and made a long slice. CLICK! No screams. I looked at Jonas. I felt ill. But he looked no more troubled that if someone were putting on his shoe. The guy squeezed and squeezed his finger, and Jonas did nothing but watched and occasionally looked around.

"Ok, that's it," he said, ten seconds later. "If it doesn't come back right, we'll have to do an actual venipuncture."That's it? Oh, thank God! I grabbed our bag and we got the 'hell outta Dodge'.

As we walked back to the car, I felt immensely relieved, but also a little silly. I had been dreading, and thus, putting this off, for weeks. Jonas sailed through with flying colors. His parents, well, not so much. If you ask me, I think Jonas deserves the red badge of courage. We get the booby prize.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Harbinger of spring

Well, it's officially spring here at our house. In spite of how it reads, that doesn't necessarily mean consistently warm weather, flowers, green grass, and balmy temps. It means that Joe resurfaces from the basement and starts riding outside again.

I'm happy for Joe. He's been going a little stir crazy in January and February, which in turn makes me a little loony.

Never again will this gear set be so sparkling clean.

This will probably be a common scene for the next several months. As Daddy heads out for a ride, Jonas and I will spend lots of time climbing around on the new equipment at "our" park, taking walks--sometimes runs--and hanging around with Ginger.

Hang in there, Jonas. Your time will come soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Let me ask you a serious question: have you EVER seen an uglier cupcake than this one??

What would you say if you worked at a daycare and two proud parents walked in with a whole box of these gems? Could you even contain your laughter?

Well, fortunately, this was only a "draft," and we came up with something, err... dare I say, better.

I was always a little envious of the kids in school whose mothers served as "room moms" or would bring in all kinds of treats for little Jimmy's birthday. That wasn't an option for my mother. She worked full-time, at a school an hour away from my own. I know she always wished she could be our class's guests of honor for my birthday, but it just never worked out. Since then, I've been waiting with great anticipation for the day that I could bring in my baked goods to school to celebrate our child's birthday.

Now, don't get me wrong. I had no illusions here that we were the guests of honor at Jonas' birthday party at daycare. I was just over the moon to be able to see him in action and to bring something special for him and his little buddies to share.

Cupcakes were the way to go. I had envisioned something like a "friendly alien" as a motif. Don't ask why. I just think they're cute. So, I asked Joe to come up with a simple design. The catastrophe above is the translation of his drawing with our store-bought "decorator's frosting".

The thing is, we started out well.

Here are our "funfetti" cupcakes. Nice and lofty.

The genius amongst the two of us thought it would be good to do a few "practice runs". We used a plate and a piece of bread.

You can see that it was not looking good, but we tried it on a cupcake anyway. We ended up eating it. Correction--*I* ended up eating it.

So, we decided that we'd better come up with something else, something that wouldn't make Jonas the laughing stock amongst his 2- and 3-yr old friends for the rest of his childhood.

Yes, I know it's kind of sad. But this is the best we could come up with in spite of our doodling and internet searches. The latter produced all these super-mom blogs with gourmet cupcakes that would take us a WEEK to do. And I mean it'd take us a week to do just ONE cupcake!

Gourmet, these are not. But they're from the heart, and Joe and I laughed so hard while making them.

I "fashioned" the eyes and smile. Joe topped it off with the "confetti hair."

Here they are, in all their glory, just waiting to be devoured by a dozen children aged 1-5, who couldn't give two figs what the design is on the silly cupcake.

It took us hours to do these cupcakes between the baking, researching and sketching. Once in the hands of kids, they vanished in 2 minutes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Liz's pick - Brianna's

You may find this hard to believe with all the references I've made over the last two years about the astronomical volume of cereal that is consumed in this household, but we also eat a good deal of salads.

I'd say that ours tend to gravitate more toward the savory side, which means that we need a good savory dressing to go with those croutons and cheese crumbles.

I'm kind of picky about salad dressings. I don't like anything that over-powers the salad. Dressings, in my humble opinion, are made for enhancing. And while for certain salads, I am apt to select something like a ginger-based dressing, or perhaps Lily's Northern Italian, I am a huge fan of the good old vinaigrette. It never goes out of fashion and it is the perfect pairing for my herby croutons. I have tried endless vinaigrettes, in my quest for the perfect one, but I keep coming back to Brianna's. I don't know what kind of fairy dust they sprinkle in this stuff, but the proportions are perfectly balanced. I've read the ingredients and attempted to "re-create" it. How hard can it be? It's a vinaigrette! They usually only have 5 or 6 ingredients. But, somehow I can never get it right. Oh well, lucky for me for just a few bucks I can purchase the next bottle of magic salad dress. And it looks like we're running low again, so I'd better scoot off to the store.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First birthday celebration

We had a very nice celebration for Jonas' first year. It was somewhat low-key, but spread out over multiple days, which made it seem grander. A few months ago, I had illusions of putting together a good-sized party, mostly with our friends and family. I know Jonas wouldn't know what was going on, but actually as far as I was concerned, that party was just as much to celebrate our survival as parents in the first year--I guess we passed the test--as it was him reaching the myriad milestone of the first year. The thing is, I just got so busy, I didn't have time to plan a grand fete. It all worked out in the end. One of Jonas' grandmother's came to visit us for the weekend and we had a lovely time. We ate lots of cake, or some of us did. Jonas opened many beautiful and thoughtful gifts. It was surely a weekend we'll never forget.

Here are a few photos.

I was going to just get a few cupcakes, but then I reconsidered (a momentary lapse of judgment) and bought a quarter sheet cake! Oops.

At first, Jonas wasn't sure what to do with it. It took a little encouragement, but he finally sunk all five fingers into the cake.

Mmmm. Yummm.
And now we have a new cake "convert".

I ended up opening most of Jonas' gifts. He was really fascinated by the curly ribbon that adorned all of Mima's presents, but wasn't terribly interested in removing the paper.

One of Jonas' new toys: a wagon with multi-colored blocks.

I felt this was my "big moment" as a present-giving parent. I found this little farmer/animal set at a little toy store and I fell in love with it the moment that I heard the tractor engine fire up. Having grown up around tractors, I have to say the sound is pretty accurate.

Jonas loves to set the tractor in motion by pushing the smoke stack. However, once it gets going, he then tries to immobilize it, while watching the wheels turn and lifting it ever so slightly off the ground. I'm proud to say that my selection was a big hit.