How Old is Hallie?

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

How Old is Lea?

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hallie's Bathtime Antics...

Hallie loves bathtime; this is why:

Now, at long last, with sound...Enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Photo Thursday

I sort of fibbed last time when I said that we had no new pictures. The issue was that I had forgotten to upload the ones we do have...

So, for your visual pleasure, (and to spare you my verbose prose for a bit), I'll start this post with a long photo retrospective of the past week or so.

First, we decided that Hallie cannot possibly really have a 13 week long cold and that the issue must be something else. Since the quarantine hadn't really (who am I the least is more like it) improved the congestion situation, we decided that for the sake of Hallie's development and her mommies' sanity, we'd lift it a bit and allow some interaction with friends and family. If things get better with our new regimen (more on this later), we'll lift the quarantine further. However, we're going to be vigilant about making sure we spray down toys, purell everything in sight, etc etc.

So about ten days ago, we brought Hallie over to see Karina. The kids obviously missed each other desperately and spent the first ten minutes hugging. No exaggeration on this, either. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to capture this session (the camera was over in our house, next door). But we did manage to get one cute shot of Karina doing Hallie's hair:

Hallie also enjoyed playing with Karina's toys, and especially with the excellent music table that Karina got from one of her Hong Kong relatives. Here's DJ Jazzy Hallie mixing it up:

And here's a great shot of Hallie's strong legs and lack of butt. Seriously, this kiddo has no hips and no tushy. Unless she gets a belly somehow, I think we're going to start looking for toddler suspenders for her (I am sure she'll enjoy chewing on them):

Then, last Saturday, despite the vomiting and congestion, Hallie and Mommy went off to the shore (I stayed home to get some stuff done) to visit Grammy, Aunt Laura and the cousins. Hallie loved playing in the pool (her favorite activities are water-related. She loves her floaty device, all wading pool experiences, and lots of splashing. In the bath at night these days, she likes to stand up and then let go and splash hard on her butt and then stick her face in the water and blow bubbles. She does this over and over and it's really cute, even if it is a bit odd. Alas, we haven't yet captured that on video but will try to do so before she gives up this practice for some other antic). Hallie was less sure of what to make of the carousel on the boardwalk at Ocean City:

She eventually settled in for the ride, which (along with the chock-full day, the sun, and all the activities with her cousins) began to put our little one to sleep:

Hallie had a great time as usual hanging out with the family. Here's a picture of Hallie smiling at Hannah, who is doing a very nice supermodel impression:

Hannah always makes Hallie smile!

And here's Hallie with Grammy, Aunt Laura, and the cousins:

Later on, Hallie was taken on a visit to all of the great food emporia on Ocean City's boardwalk and tasted many new things.

Here she's staring adoringly at Mack and Manco's pizza (like Mommy, like Hallie!):

And here she's tucking into a cone of soft ice cream. Yummy!

And here she's having her very first experience with cotton candy, which went quite well. What could be better: it's melt in your mouth and chock full of calories. Now if they could only make it loaded with vitamins and fat, we'd have the perfect food for her. Any budding culinary chemists out there, here's your challenge: come up with a healthy, fattening, avocado flavored spun food that melts in your mouth, and you will have hundreds of micropreemie mommies as your loyal customers!

Then, on Tuesday, Hallie got to spend time (FINALLY!) with her friend Maya (and Maya's lovely parents, Rachel and Dan). Loyal blog readers will remember that Maya and her sister Elana were 25 and a half weekers born at the same hospital as Hallie and Olivia a month earlier. They were the people we always looked for when we were in the hospital (which was pretty much always, and their family was pretty much there constantly too) and we've gotten to know them very well over the past year. Unfortunately, our concerns about Hallie's health have kept the girls apart much more than we would have liked, but we NEEDED to see them on Tuesday since they are leaving for California this weekend. So we bit the bullet, sprayed everything down very carefully and had them over to dinner. Karina and Vanessa (her mom) also joined us, and the three girls had a blast together.

Maya, you were supposed to call!

Kiddle conference around the coffee table:

Karina having a good time petting Maya:

Anyway, the kids had a great time together, the parents had fun, and we will miss Maya, Rachel, and Dan A LOT. We hope they'll be back on this coast soon to visit Rachel's family and that we can make play dates with them here or in NJ (since Rachel's family lives very close to Sharon's, that should be fairly easy to arrange). Maya is such a beautiful baby with such a winning personality and it's going to be fun watching our girls grow into toddlers together.

Very very briefly on the Feeding Clinic at St. Joseph's: we had a good day, even if it was a long one. First, it was nice to know that Hallie has put on weight in spite of the problems with food and vomiting---according to their scale, she was...get ready for this...18 lbs. 4.5 ounces. We don't know if the scale was accurate (it was one of those really old-fashioned ones; you can really tell the difference in funding between CHOP and St. Joe's, which is in a very depressed area of Northern New Jersey). Anyway, even if the scale is off by a bit, Hallie has still put on upwards of 3/4 of a pound in the past week and is now very VERY close to being on the actual chart for weight (in other words, for 13.5 months). She definitely has more leg chub and a few extra chins.

But more importantly, even if they don't have the high tech bells and whistles that they did at CHOP, we found that the Feeding and Swallowing Clinic at St. Joe's was much more thorough and much more sympathetic to what is going on with us and more willing to try to figure out how to solve it. They did a more thorough observation of Hallie's eating (instead of the 1.4 seconds of me shoving the bottle in the baby's mouth before the CHOP doc came back in and said, 'she's got an uncoordinated suck, is aspirating, and probably needs a G-Tube). In fact, the word 'G-Tube' NEVER came up today. Nonetheless, they noticed from Hallie's posture, the way she crawled, etc that she was uncomfortable, that the posture looked a lot like her compensating for reflux that is not really under control, and they raised the question of whether the vomiting and congestion could be related to a milk intolerance that isn't as horrible as some kids' but is still causing her a lot of discomfort. This might make some sense since this all began when Hallie came off of breast milk, which had been diluting her Enfamil AR, and began to drink AR straight and then the very hard to digest Pediasure. First, we're going to try a new regimen with Prilosec that helps her system use it more effectively (moving from the bicarb solution to capsules, the beads of which we will mix with a little applesauce and feed to her an hour before dinner to make sure that her stomach is a lot less full). If that doesn't help, we'll move from Pediasure to Peptamen. And if that doesn't work, we'll see. But it was heartening to hear someone say something other than "live with it" or "tube her." I know that our Ped. has been trying to help (and he got us to St. Joe's to begin with, which is very good), but it's been a very frustrating two-three months and the frustration has pretty much persisted unabated. The very idea of having a reasonable sounding treatment plan and sympathetic people who are trying to really help us is calming. Hopefully some of this will work, because if we can get this under control, we can begin to teach Hallie how to deal with textures, subdue her gag reflex a bit, etc. Without getting the congestion and the pain that she must be feeling under control (not to mention begin to heal some of the damage that is being done to her esophagous), we can't really deal with the behavioral issues. Anyway, I'll post updates on this as we progress; meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed for us!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

ICN Follow Up--the nine month update

I've been kind of hesitant to post. First, we have virtually no new pictures and, second, Hallie has yet another one of her colds. It's the latter that really has us down (and is probably the reason for the former). We finally made it ten whole days without an upper respiratory infection and, Tuesday, we were in the throes of a new one. I know that we should be thankful that her lungs, as usual, sound clear and that it's not worse than it is, but honestly, when, precisely, do we catch a break around here? On Monday, we visited Hallie's accupressure/cranio-sacral specialist who has been doing massages to help her with her swallowing. I am not sure that this really will improve her swallowing, but am fairly certain that it helped delay the onset of her latest URI. Hallie sounded pretty clear and ate pretty well on Monday. She even went so far as to fool the unsuspecting potential childcare provider/nanny (since when did everyone become a nanny? I remember just babysitting) into believing that she was an easy to feed/easy to change baby. Needless to say, everyone out there who might take on this Tuesday or Thursday all-day position is forewarned that our princess can do a backflip on the changing table (maybe a triple axle? do they rate babies and not just olympic skaters for these antics?)

Tuesday, however, was another story. We were back to Hunger-Strike Hallie, who was super congested.

Wednesday was even worse. We were scheduled for her 9 month follow up at the ICN and, since she was not running a fever, we decided to keep that appointment. At least it would give us the opportunity to bounce some ideas off of the very wonderful neonatologist who handles developmental follow up.

In any event, with a bit of coaxing, Hallie did everything that (I think) she was supposed to do. This is a relief but not all that surprising. She does seem to us (untrained mommy types) to be right on target in terms of her gross motor skills, and pretty good (in that she has a rudimentary pincer grasp and the capacity to bang blocks together and the like) in terms of her fine motor skills. Her language skills seem to us to be lagging but, that said, over the past few weeks she has been vocalizing a whole lot more and doing some imitation and tonal vocal sounds. We do have some hope that at some point she'll begin to vocalize consonants.

The aforementioned excellent neonatologist said that it has only been recently that the field has been paying any attention to delayed language skills and that, surprise surprise, they are finding that this is more the rule than the exception where micropreemies are concerned. Certainly a large majority of the micropreemies out there who are otherwise typically developing seem to have delayed language skills. I am not sure why anyone finds this to be surprising---you try shoving a fairly rigid tube down my throat and I too would be averse to all things oral and have all sorts of motor problems when it comes to moving my lips and the like....

And that brings us to topic number two in the family (which is indeed topic number one around here): eating. Or not. Sharon and I are arguably too good at this skill (and lack time to exercise). Hallie, on the other hand, exercises to her heart's content and would prefer approximately zero time eating.

Hence, while she gained weight during the first part of this month (reaching a high of 17 lbs. 5 ounces, or about 25th percentile on the growth chart for her adjusted age; she is 72.5 cm or about 75th percentile in height for adjusted age and 43 cm head circumference, which is 25th percentile for adjusted age), it's our very strong suspicion (confirmed by unscientific lifting of the baby that involves little to no exertion) that she has lost weight over the past couple of weeks. Of course, this is related to her (most recent) cold and mucous build up, which no doubt makes it hard to eat (as in her nose is always stuffed) and easy to throw up (she has so much mucous in her system that she coughs it up, along with whatever paltry amount of food she has ingested. This makes a lot of sense, cognitively, since it's more important to be able to breathe than it is to eat). This is very good for her in terms that it protects her airway but very bad for her weight as it means that, once again, she is threatening to fall off of her adjusted growth chart.

We're not really sure what to do here. Hallie is most certainly not adjusting to the pediatrician's schedule (which consists of: she will eat when she is hungry). Our girl, simply put, has no idea what hunger is and, between all of the cold-related and reflux-related vomiting, I imagine she has come to think of food as evil. Who can blame her? Yet, without eating she cannot get better at eating, In any event, we're hoping that our consult at St. Joseph's hospital in Paterson, combined with the collective wisdom of many preemie parents, will help povide us with some answers about what is going on here. And hopefully we'll also locate a few strategies to help keep Hallie eating. We're already thickening her feeds with Simply Thick that has had minimal impact on her intake. In any event, we'll try to retain a grasp of whatever sanity we still have and forge forward on this because, after all, what else are micropreemie moms supposed to do?

One idea that we've had (but which her pediatrician does not favor) is introducing Periactin. Periactin is an antihistamine that also functions as an appetite stimulant and, while it doesn't work for all kiddos, it does seem to be useful to a whole bunch of them. It seems to me that it might also be helpful in terms of preventing her mucous buildup (since it is, after all, an anti histamine). Yet, from what I gather, it's not a good drug to prescribe to those with respiratory distress. Yet Hallie is prone to colds but not pneumonia or any knid of desaturation of oxygen; it's unclear to me wether she is in respiratory distress or whether she simply has a chronic but not terribly devestating form of reactive airway disease. Anyway, I will bring this up again with her ped. and GI specialists and see what they think...

Meanwhile, we'll just muddle through...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

This is how Hallie sleeps...

with her butt up in the air.

Seriously, it's her favorite position.

No time now for a real post, but I promise to write more later.

Monday, July 9, 2007

One, Two, Three, Counting with Ease...the July 4th Post

I think that three posts in three days is some sort of record for me, but there's a lot of catching up to do. Also, excuse me if I'm a bit out of order here; this post actually should precede the story of Curious George and the Climbing Hallie.

Anyway, for a while now, Hallie has had quite a well-developed Sesame Street habit; we inherited the Sing Yourself Silly DVD from Aunt Laura (Hannah has outgrown it and Adam never liked it much) and have been playing it for Hallie daily, at the very least (who in the world am I kidding? The kid won't eat without a good dose of James Taylor and his little friends singing the tale of Jelly Man Kelly. This song gets repeated at least five times during any meal!) Hallie actually does seem to watch Sesame Street; she squeals when she sees Elmo, she loves the songs, and unless there's a lot of uninterrupted dialogue, she'll sit in one place and pay attention to the action. I am risking being called Abby Cadabby by my own daughter some day. Sigh.

In any event, our friends Ethan and Karina had been to Sesame Place one time each earlier this season and we were feeling a bit jealous and thinking about an outing there ourselves. Hence, we were thrilled when Billie, Holland and Eden's mommy, let us know that they were going to be going there for their vacation. We all decided to meet up on the 4th of July for a joint park experience.

Alas, the weather was uncharacteristically cold and cloudy (the whole rest of the week was lovely; now there's just unrelenting heat and humidity around here--good thing that we live near very tasty water ice emporia). So splashing in the lazy river was out of the question. Nevertheless, we had a great time. This may sound very sad, indeed, but it's wonderful to be with parents who take it completely in stride when your kid refuses to eat anything at all, throws up in her stroller, and only takes her bottle once she collapses from exhaustion. It's nice not to be dismissed as utterly insane when we explain that we feed our kid food that contains butter, sugar, cream, and avocado--all at the same time and that we know precisely (or very nearly) the number of ounces, calories, etc that she consumes in any 24 hour period and her weight down to the gram. But this isn't the only reason that meeting Holland, Eden, and Billie, and John was wonderful: they are a great family and the girls are even more amazing in person than they are on their blog. We were really honored to meet them because we admire them all so much. It's not just that they have this wonderful blog that so many of us micropreemie parents have pored over, consulted, taken solace in, etc. More importantly, I think that, on the blog, Billie and John have shown all of us how much fun they have as a family. This is something that is too easy to lose sight of when we're in the middle of crises and suffering from the post NICU PTSD. And that's tragic, really; remembering to have fun with our kiddies and enjoy them for who they are, regardless of the unexpected circumstances of their births, is one of the most important things that we can do as parents.

Anyway, at the risk of gushing, suffice it to say that Billie, John, Holland and Eden are great fun to be around. We hope that we can coax them back this way with offers of showing them all of the really fun stuff that is available for kids in the Philly area (from storytelling and kids' plays in front of the Betsy Ross house to the carousel and mini golf in Franklin Square to the Camden Aquarium and Philly and Elmwood Zoos, just to name a few. Oh yeah, and Sesame Place always beckons again!!!). Seriously, if any of you loyal readers (assuming that you are not already in Philly, of course) are in the area, please let us know...

Anyway, back to the day. We were greeted at the gate by none other than Super Grover on our way to rent a double stroller for Holland and Eden.

Alas, no one was in the mood to pose and smile because everyone (with the glaring exception of Hallie) was hungry. So we headed off to get a snack at Elmo's snack shack. We were very impressed by how much gusto Holland and Eden relished their meals and this also gave us hope that Hallie's appetite might some day kick in.

After a quick change (not only did we have to change Hallie out of her pukey outfit, but no sooner than we accomplished this feat---since changing our wriggly girl has become somewhat of a Herculean task)--did Hallie proceed to poop all over herself. It turns out that Pampers Baby Dry might protect kids from pee but definitely not from poop---the darned things leak like crazy, especially when your kid has no hips, no butt, and no belly to hold them up. So, two outfits later, we were ready to roll.

Hallie, Holland and Eden all loved the crawling around space for little ones:

Eden had a great time playing around on the foam blocks. We loved this ear-to-ear smile:

The only thing that deflected Hallie's attention from crawling, exploring, and eating pieces of schmutz on the gym mat (yes, we did have to check our germophobia at the door, and no, we are not happy about this, and yes it will probably be a long time before we do this again) was the bright orange neon band on Billie's arm. Hallie took an immediate fancy to this and kept trying to eat it. Eden tried to signal to Hallie that this was HER mother's arm, but Hallie was, as she often is in such things, positively unrelenting.

In this picture, I am crawling after (and over) Hallie to keep her from eating things:

After the kids were done crawling around, we all gathered to watch the 2pm parade down Sesame Street.

Holland not only had a ton of fun dancing to her favorite songs but also got to meet Elmo:

Hallie and Eden had the best seats in the house:

Lots of fun was had by all and the girls were all tuckered out. This was the first (and only) time Hallie deigned to nap all day. Needless to say, this was when we made up for all those missed bottles!

Later on, Holland and Eden enjoyed the water rides at Sesame Place and we headed off to Sears to pick up Hallie's first-year pictures. Here area a couple of our favorites, including some collages. We took so many good shots that it's hard to upload them all (it was also hard to decide which ones to get, so Sears ended up really benefiting from our visit).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Our Climbing Monkey

It is no mistake that Curious George appears to be the closest thing that Hallie has to a favorite security companion. And this is not only because he has a yellow shirt (Hallie has a definite preference for things yellow, and has for a long time now). As it turns out, Hallie has a lot in common with Curious. Not only is she inquisitive, but she also likes to climb.

One of Hallie's favorite things to do is the climb up the wall and then fling herself down onto the futon. We hope she doesn't try this with a table or the floor but are bracing for the day when she does.

Hallie also likes to use her Rainforest Jumperoo in a most unconventional way: she climbs up on the arm of the sofa, leans over it, reaches onto the jumperoo and climbs towards the toys it contains to play with them. I've tried to train this out of her, but alas, no going so far.

So, obviously, Hallie was quite thrilled when we blew up the new bathtub for her in the living room the other night. (For the record, it was me, the klutzy mama, and not Hallie-the-sharp-toothed-biter, who punctured her old Snug Tub Deluxe. We've now downgraded to the regular Snug Tub because it has fewer things on it that mama can possibly break).

Hallie very quickly assessed the new item in the living room and determined that it was perfect for practicing her climbing techniques:

And, apropos of Hallie climbing, I share with you the following video of Hallie climbing stairs at Auntie Neystice's and Auntie Kim's on the 4th of July:

Bear in mind that Sharon and her sister used to climb up onto their roof when they were kids (and later on practiced getting down by jumping onto their camper's roof) and that, four 4th of Julys ago, when I was off working in the Russian archives, Sharon climbed onto our roof to catch the fireworks, decided that the view was better from the flat roof next door (did I mention we have a dormer roof that is angled? I have visions of Sharon hanging on by her finger nails) and climbed up to their roof instead. The house was then being renovated, so there was a door on the roof that was open (covered by plastic sheeting I think) and Sharon had the bright idea that it would be easier to get down if she went through the house next door, out the front door, and into our house the conventional way (as opposed to through the window). So this is what she did. Or more correctly, tried to do. When she got to our front door, she realized that the only flaw in her plan was that she didn't have the keys to our house. So she ended up going back into the house next door, up the stairs, out the roof door, onto the roof, jumped onto our roof, and slithered in through the window.

I am glad that Hallie can't read yet, because I don't want her to try out this particular stunt. But suffice it to say, like mommy like Hallie. Oy vay.

(And, in re: 4th of July....I still have to post ANOTHER post about what else we did that day; this is coming soon...I promise!)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Tagged...We're It...The Crazy Eight Meme

Laura over at Adventures in juggling just taked us with a Crazy Eight Meme, so here goes:

I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog


1. We spend a lot of the day singing songs from Sesame Street to one another; we try to pretend that these are for Hallie's benefit, but let's face it, we really like these songs. Two of our faves, replete with You Tube Video links, are the following:

Ladybug's Picnic

Born to Add

I'd post a video of The Batty Bat (by the Count), but it's nowhere to be found on the 'net.

2. We (or more correctly, Sharon) took 42 rolls of film (literally!) during our vacation in Estonia (Tallinn), Latvia (Riga), Russia (St. Petersburg) and Finland (Helsinki), and most of the pictures were of buildings. I loved our trip, (except for the waiting to take photos) but have yet to look at the pictures. They are nestled among the onesies that are still too big in Hallie's closet (which is located in Sharon's erstwhile office). We waited about an hour and a half by Tchaikovsky's grave for the light to be just right and for the lines of school kids to pass by (no picture should have people marring it!). The scary guard with an AK 47 watching us with his beady eyes waited along with us and finally, when Sharon clicked the Nikon, the guard descended quickly to ask her if she had paid for the privilege of taking pictures (I think the cost was about 20 cents or so). Of course she had---she was with me and I suspected this would happen. They only posted the sign noting that you had to pay extra to take pictures in Russian and of course expected that they'd make a few rubles off of foreigners who had no idea that this was the system. Been there, done that. But now I speak fluent Russian (well, pretty good Russian in any event) and am aware of such schemes so it gave me great satisfaction to not pay the guard the money he wanted for vodka.

3. Sharon's biggest aspiration in life is to eventually work her way up to eating a whole, uncut pizza from Mack and Manco's in Ocean City, NJ. Plain, no toppings is how she insists we eat these pizzas, which are the best in the whole world according to her. Even though I am from Brooklyn, NY, one of the pizza capitals of the universe, I actually do agree. The recipe for a Mack and Manco's pizza is so secret that they swear their chefs to secrecy and make sure to vet the trash at night so that no one can sneak in and do a chemical composition of analysis and replicate their pies. No fooling.

4. Sharon and I have taken a few really nice vacations together---to date, we've been to Provincetown, MA; Napa Valley, CA; the Riviera Maya in Mexico (not to be confused with actually being in Mexico!); the aforementioned Baltics; Cape May, NJ; and Las Vegas. The last one doesn't really count. Sigh. Some day we'll take Hallie traveling with us.

5. While we've never taken Hallie anywhere exotic, we've always taken Fletcher. Fletcher is a stuffed (and now well flattened) dog that Sharon has had since she was four. Wither Sharon goes, goes Fletcher. One of our favorite things to do is to pose Fletcher in hotel rooms during our travels. Here's Fletcher on the bed in our B&B in Napa:

Here I'm consulting him about which vineyards to visit the next day:

And sometimes the housekeeping staff catch on to our ways quickly and position Fletcher for us. This is what happened on our Mexican jaunt:

Anyway, Sharon isn't sure what she's going to do when Hallie takes Fletcher away from her. Hallie's already made several moves in that direction and it ain't pretty.

6. Our house was built circa 1840 which is cool but being in a city it has a very small backyard. It is about 150 square feet which is around the size of an average bedroom. Nevertheless, we have the following growing in it:
2 rose bushes
2 tomato plants
2 blueberry bushes
1 bleeding heart
1 lilac bush
1 bitternut hickory tree
2 grape vines (very productive Concord grapes that we'll be selling to Manischewitz in the fall...just kidding...but they are really productive)
3 basil plants (one doing super duper well this year)
2 thyme plants (one of which overwintered, thanks to global warming)
2 sage plants (can anyone say Thanksgiving turkey stuffing? yum...I hope Hallie is eating mushy food that isn't quite pureed by then)
2 lavender plants
2 mint plants (slightly run down looking...sad, because life is better with mojitos)
1 oregano plant (also overwintered, and is VERY productive, threatening to crowd out one of our thyme plants)
1 hydrangea
several dozen impatiens in the shady parts
several marigolds and petunias and violas in the sunny parts
a couple of ferns
my orchid collection (just out for the summer)
2 clematis plants (they are lovely)
boston ivy all along the back and side walls
and a bunch of other things that I probably have forgotten about

On top of that we also have a table, four chairs, and 2 adirondack chairs.

And oddly enough, the garden would not be at all crowded if it were not for Hallie's play yard and wading pool.

It kind of amazes us what you can do in small spaces as long as you water and use insecticidal soap.

7. Sharon is a historic preservation architect who has worked on some very cool projects, including the State Capitol of Virginia (originally designed by Thomas Jefferson); her firm handled both restoring the old part of the capitol and adding on a spiffy new addition underground. Here's a cool link to an Interactive Tour of the Virginia State Capitol

With a prevoius firm, she was responsible for renovating the interior of Lucy the Elephant which is an elephant shaped building located in Margate, NJ. Follow this link to tour Lucy, see photos, and some of Sharon's drawings: Lucy the Elephant

8. Sharon was raised in PA for her first fifteen years but was actually born in Trenton, NJ which boasts the following bridge:

Anyway, she's always hated that she was born in Joisey and not in Pennsylvania, but it did facilitate the song to which we filed out during our commitment ceremony, which has always been one of my favorites, at least.

Jersey Girl

The only big problem is figuring out whether the Tom Waits or the Bruce Springsteen version is the better one!

When we first met, Sharon was living in NJ and I lived on South Street, above a store called Condom Kingdom. This was just way too weird on so many different levels. South Street is a loathsome place to live, in my estimation, because it is crowded (especially on summer weekend nights) and noisy and filled with teenagers from the Jersey suburbs. Not that there is anything wrong with the Jersey suburbs (see above!) But the apartment was cheap, large, clean, and eerily quiet (it was in the back). When Sharon told her friend Sheila where I lived, Sheila raised a proverbial eyebrow or two, but at least Sharon didn't hold it against me!

OK---now for the hard part---I need to tag eight of you unsuspecting bloggers, so here goes...

1. Jill Birtch, John Craig's mommy

2. Billie, Holland and Eden's mommy

3. Artsweet, mommy of Pepito

4. Laurie, Emma's mommy

5. Stephanie, Lauren, Lathan, and Logan's mommy

6. Josh and Nancie, Ethan's daddy and mommy

7. Anna, Henry and Willie's mommy


8. Kim, Ava and Jackson's mommy

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy 9 Month Adjusted Birthday, Hallie!

I can't believe our little muffin is 9 months old adjusted. She's having a lovely time exploring the physical universe around her. She loves nothing more than cruising around the furniture, climbing in and out of her ball pit/playhut, and figuring out how to scale the furniture, her mommies, and the wall (I am not joking about the last one, either: the other morning, she was climbing up her shadow on the wall above the futon and throwing herself backwards to land on her back on the futon. She thought it was hilarious).

She also enjoys making a mad dash for it down the hall whenever we leave her bedroom door open. It's funny because she knows that we are right behind her so she speeds up her crawl. Happily, even in our dotage we're still a bit faster than her little legs are and manage to scoop her up and put her back where she started so that she can begin the process all over again.

Hallie has been having fun outside in the back play yard as long as we're all around and paying some attention to her (this is critical---she is very social and while she plays with toys happily she wants to know that we're at least watching her to see what she can do. If she doesn't have enough attention, she'll act out a bit---she might find some cords and wires or shoes she should not be playing with and go for them. A little scary).

Anyway, her eating is getting a bit better---as long as the texture is neither too thin nor too thick and has a nice apple saucy puree like quality to it, she seems fine. Her favorite foods are strongly flavored and a bit eccentric: a great meal consists of avocado (preferably guacamole from Whole Foods---mine is a bit too chunky), perhaps mixed with some chicken stock, and ricotta cheese. We also tried my new cheesy peas recipe--melt some spreadable cheddar in the microwave, add baby peas, chicken stock, and if you want, another veggie. Cool and serve. Very yummy. She can now take about 10-15 spoonfulls (gerber spoon size, not adult) of a food that she likes and, as long as she doesn't choke on something, she's been keeping it all down. Hallie does exhibit some ultimately good, but as of now, a bit counterproductive, toddler behaviors, like wanting to feed herself. This sometimes lands the food in her, but more often on her. She is also experimenting with her pincer grasp---she would love nothing more than a big pile of cheerios or Trader Joe's veggie stix to do this with, but this, alas, would be disastrous (as in, it would promote the refund of all that yummy avocado mush). So we give her broken up, tiny pieces of cheerios or gerber finger foods and she happily shoves them in her mouth, under her onesie, in the crevices of her high chair, and sticks them on her forehead. Quite the look.

Finally, Hallie has been 'talking' a bit more to us. Still no consonants, but definitely more noise. You will notice that Hallie's voice sounds a bit like a cross between Stevie Nick's post vocal cord polyps and Lauren Bacall's after twenty seven years of smoking:

(I'll try to add some pics later!)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Here's Looking at You, Kid!

With all of the illnesses, eating strikes, and feeding panics going on around here, we've utterly neglected showing off our cute little girl and her antics. Happily there is a finite number of pictures available because her utterly exhausted moms have completely neglected to take any pictures of their darling daughter this week, but we hope that we'll resume that practice soon!

Anyway, what better way to usher in July than with a few Hallie cameos:

The day after Hallie's birthday party, we went down to visit Sharon's family for the day. Sharon was giving a presentation to the Northfield Community School's Seventh Grade on the Virginia State Capitol (a building planned and built by Thomas Jefferson that Sharon's firm--and Sharon--helped restore and for which they recently built an addition; way cool). After everyone was out of school, we took the big girls (Sarah and Meghan) out for ice cream. Hallie had a great time expanding her ice cream eating (?) skills:

Later that evening, Hallie unwrapped some cool presents from everyone. She got a walker and some new duds from Grammy and a spiffy new roadster, which was a gift to her from Aunt Laura, Uncle Bryan and the kids. She very eagerly unwrapped it because that made it easier for her to gorge herself on the wrapping paper (while I promise not to belabor her feeding, I would like to say that the kid is on a high fiber diet that includes a considerable amount of paper and carpet). Then she and cousins Adam and Hannah checked out the new wheels took turns in the car:

The next night, we took her to the park in her vehicle, where she showed it off to her friend Ethan.

Here, Ethan is flirting with Hallie (hoping that she'd take him for a ride in her car, no doubt). Please note: our little girl is flirting right back.

After parking the car, the kids (and Sharon), had a lot of fun on the slides. Hallie enjoyed going down the slide with Sharon a lot.

But she enjoyed walking up the slide even more:

Such determination!

And who wouldn't enjoy holding the hand of a cute boy like Ethan Byrne?

So, see, it hasn't been all sickness and struggle around here! And I do promise to try to get some shots (hopefully video) of Hallie cruising and playing in her playhut (which has now overtaken our miniscule living room) and outdoor play yard (aka Jail). Finally, just to tease all of you faithful readers, we will hopefully have some special pics of some very special friends from the blogosphere with whom we are planning an impromptu visit later this week. I won't let on who will be featured on this blog, so you're just going to have to tune in later this week! (Sheesh, what won't I do to enhance our web stats!)