Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. Christmas songs on the radio, a tree in the living room, and the first early memories of a visit to that great weaver of childhood dreams and wonder, Santa Claus.  

Baby Jesus in his manger and stories of the first Christmas fail to strike the same fear as a large man in a red suit and white beard. Note the look of horror on my children's sweet faces as we visited our first Santa last week at Alpenrose Dairy. Begin with the jingling of bells, then add a hearty HO HO HO, and enter one very real Santa Claus with a bag of toys and candycanes!   

Jude warmed up enough to collect his reward for being brave, but Ada was having nothing to do with this Santa. We've seen several Santas in the last week, and each one seems to raise their esteem and appreciation for the jolly old elf. I suppose it will wear off, but for now the magic is alive and well!

Christmas season brought a strange new compulsion for me to try and "create" an experience for my children, to build that tradition of magic and wonder that I remember from my childhood. But I think I've settled down a bit on that front. The season makes itself wonderful. Sometimes it's best to just let it happen!  

We are very lucky for everything that we have this year. Three holiday parties this past weekend has left us with a short break and time off from school before the big Christmas event next weekend. Jude snapped this photo of us before the Aunt Ginny Holiday Soiree! 
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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Beach

A few weekends back we spent a couple of nights at the beach with friends.

Linden took some time off from work, we rented a house, and lucked out on the weather!

Winter beach weekends can be beautiful! The kids ran barefoot all around the dunes of Manzanita.

The friends are a family we know from our co-op preschool.

Highlights of the weekend: hiding in the grass, ice cream, forts in the couch, smoked fish, box wine, sleeping in bunk beds, and failed beach fires.

We love "getting away" with friends. Kids get time to be kids, families all mush in together, and we get to spend time with other parents in the act of parenting. There is a nice intimacy that comes with sharing a big house for a few nights that we just don't get anywhere else! Parenting can be very isolating, and little vacations like this one can bring new insights, tools, and inspiration.

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Monday, November 14, 2011


We borrowed a book from the library last week about Ling and Ting, twin girls who are Not Exactly The Same.  Jude is loving this book, especially the chapter on making dumplings.  Ling makes smooth Dump-Lings and Ting makes fat Dump-Tings...:)  He has been asking to make dumplings for a few days now, so last night we broke out the pelmeni recipe and went to work.

Jude enjoyed playing with the dough and smooshing it together.

Ada's job was putting the assembled pelmeni on the tray.

I made most of them.

Here is the finished product.  Note the little dough-balls in the corners courtesy of Jude and Ada.

Here's a short video to give you a taste of the dumpling-making scene...

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

See Doctor Jack!

I took Ada in for her 18M appointment with Dr. Jack yesterday.  Here are her stats:
  • Weight: 24 pounds, 6 ounces (51st percentile)
  • Height: 33.75 inches (94th percentile)
Ada charmed everyone in the doctor's office, starting with the pharmaceutical rep who rode up the escalators with us.  She helped me "draw" on the autism assessment, played with the kids in the waiting room, and insisted on reading every book in the play area.  When they called us back to the office, I said "It's time to go see Dr. Jack!", and Ada marched back to the exam room chanting "See Doctor Jack! See Doctor Jack!".  There were a lot of affectionate smiles directed her way.

Ada was once again a little bit wary of Dr. Jack, and didn't display her full range of communication skills, but he still seemed pretty impressed by her verbal abilities and insistence on eye contact at all times.  I had Ada up on the table, with my head turned towards the doctor while we were talking, and Ada several times reached over and turned my head so that I was facing her and looking at her.  She really likes to look people in the eye whenever possible.  Not surprisingly, she passed her autism screen with flying colors.

In general, we think Ada is doing really well and don't have any concerns about her.  The only thing that seems a little bit out-of-the-ordinary is that the second toe on each of her feet tends to cross over and lie on top of the big toe instead of touching the ground.  Dr. Jack said that there's really nothing to do about that, and it doesn't seem to be affecting her ability to move, run, or do anything, but we'll keep an eye on it to see what happens as she gets bigger.

Dr. Jack did recommend that we wean her from bottles sooner rather than later, for the sake of her teeth.  I admitted that we're mostly just lazy and that she'd probably be fine with the switch to cups, and he said that this is common with the last child in a family.  She's our baby, so we're not all that eager to push her through the milestones, but this one is pretty important.  We also need to make sure to brush her teeth before bedtime.

Ada has been exposed to chickenpox recently, so we decided to give her the second chickenpox vaccine as well as a few others.  She did not like the shots at all, but recovered pretty quickly and was happy to pick out a few stickers as a reward for a job well done.  She was also very upset by the mouth examination once again.  I think we need to start looking at her teeth a little more often so that she isn't so insulted when the doctor or dentist does it.

It turns out that there is actually one photo of the kids dressed up for Halloween this year.  Our neighbors up the street snapped this photo after giving Jude two full-sized candy bars ("I need one for me and one for my mom").  No wonder his smile is so big!

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Leaf Peeping and Pear Harvesting

The Cornett and Company rolled out Saturday morning on a short adventure to Hood River. My Oma died this summer, and we miss our infrequent visits up the Gorge to visit her and feel the change of seasons in the Hood River Valley.

Does this look like fun to you? Raking leaves on a sunny day is a pleasure. But there's plenty more leaves still on the tree. We also spent some time cleaning out the house, packing up treasures, and reading old post cards from days gone by.

There was a short walk to the cemetary to visit my grandparents' gravesite. Jude was a little worried that he might fall in the hole, but it has been nicely covered up with grass since the funeral. Aunt Kathy brought a bouquet of fall colors from the yard.

In the afternoon we drove up the valley to McNurdy Farms for some tree ripened Bosc and Comice. Jude very politely asked to borrow this wagon for the long walk back to the car. It was a glorious day.

That night we camped out in Oma's mostly empty house on Eliot Ave. Our kids were tired and happy. We all love a little adventure!
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ada: Eighteen Months

Our little girl is not so little anymore. She is growing and developing in leaps and bounds. She wants to read books all the time. She likes to wash dishes. She speaks in multiple-word sentences. She loves to make us laugh. She runs instead of walking. She dances every time she hears music. Her blond hair is growing longer and developing ringlets. I can't call her a baby any longer. She is a toddler.

One of Ada's favorite games right now is SURPRISE EYES. She makes a face like the zookeeper's wife in Good Night Gorilla when she realizes her bedroom is full of animals, eyes wide, eyebrows raised, and mouth open, and yells PIZE EYES! It took Jude a while to figure out how to make that face, but now SURPRISE EYES is a common dinnertime game. Ada points, DAT! PIZE EYES, and he complies. Then MOM, PIZE EYES, etc. Eventually we all make the face, and then everyone collapses into giggles. We have got to get a picture or video of that.

Another favorite is "On your mark, get set, GO!". Jude made up this game a couple of years ago. At the bottom of our stairs, there's a wall at the start of a long hallway. We're not allowed to just walk down the stairs, turn the corner, and walk down to the bedrooms. Instead, we back up to the wall, look at each other expectantly, and wait for someone to say the magic words. With Jude, he wanted to race, and would usually take off a second or two before the GO. Ada wants to be the one to say GO. She'll wait for someone else to say "On your mark... Get set..." and then she'll yell GO and take off running. This is one of the (few) games that the kids play together pretty well without adult supervision. While we're getting everything ready for bedtime, they will run up and down the hall together, mostly laughing and shrieking and getting along and not pushing each other. It's a fun part of every day.

Ada still drinks most of her milk from a bottle. She loves her BOP and it is a sure way to soothe her when she's tired or upset. She actually drinks really well from a sippy cup, and I don't think it would be too hard for us to convince her to make the switch, but we're just not that motivated. I'm guessing we'll do it in the next few months.

Ada loves to play outdoors. She'll bring over her shoes and socks, ask for a jacket, and stand longingly at the door. OUTSIDE, she says, and it's hard to turn her down. Once she's out there, she loves to run up and down the sidewalk, climb in and out of the raised areas in front of our house, and play in the sandbox. It seems like her hair is permanently dusted with Oregon Dune sand.

Ada just started calling me "MOM-MEE" instead of "MOM", and this has coincided with wanting more of my attention. She gets upset when I leave her presence, and when I'm around I have to hold her or pay attention to her much of the time. Luckily, playing with an eighteen-month-old Ada is pretty fun, between reading books, pretending that it hurts when she jumps on me, and chasing her around the house. We are having a great time these days!

Ada knows all of the names of face parts and some body parts. She loves the game where we point to eyes, ears, nose, hair, neck. She has started using qualifiers: ADA HAIR, MOM NECK. She is especially drawn to Jude's hair and takes every opportunity to touch it or grab it. He doesn't like that much, but is unusually tolerant most of the time.

Ada loves her brother. Every morning, her first question is WHERE JUDE? She usually gets up before he does, so she gets to accompany mom or dad into Jude's room to wake him up in the morning. She runs to his bed and tries to climb all over him. She follows him around and wants to do what he does most of the time, although lately she has started taking the lead and he will imitate her. For example, when Jude is hungry, he'll use Ada-speak, making the "eat" sign and saying JU TEE EAT. It is a very effective way of communicating. Jude is always watching Ada, and will often tell us what she wants or what she is saying. "Ada wants some more cheese." These two are very in tune with each other, and I think that once Jude gets over his aggression towards Ada, they are going to play together really well. This aggression has diminished somewhat in the past few months, but we still can't leave them alone together for long without expecting some bad behavior.

Ada and Jude both love to crawl around and pretend to be kittens. They MEOW over and over again, and want to be petted and cuddled. Ada, what do YOU say? MEOW.

A few details: Ada is wearing 18-24M clothing as well as some 2T, uses size 4 diapers, and size 6 shoes. She naps once a day in the afternoon, for about 2 hours, give or take an hour. At night, she sleeps really well, going to bed sometime between 7 and 8 and sleeping peacefully until 7 or 8 in the morning. I don't remember the last time we had to go to her at night once she was asleep. She will occasionally resist bedtime, but a few extra stories or sips of milk usually does the trick. I'll post an update on her height and weight in a couple of weeks after her next appointment with Dr. Jack.

We're having technical difficulties with posting photos from Picasa. Will update later. Here is a video from the past week.

Ada can save herself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Moving Out

I think we're going to move.

It feels like it might happen any day, but I suppose it could take us a year. We talked it over last month, contacted our realtor, and started looking at houses.

Oh, and I've been packing.

We think the time is right for this. It feels right, and just like the time we got engaged, bought our first house, and had our first child, we're trying not to fight the feeling.

We found a nice little west hills neighborhood close to downtown, close to the club, and close to our friends. We like the schools. We want to live on a quiet road, not on a big hill, with a little yard or place to play.

The kids love looking at new houses, and Jude is helping me pack the china. There have been many discussions in our house about the Pain In The Ass factor (PITA) that has kept us from making this happen in the past. And frankly, we'll miss the trails, the zoo, the Washington Park concerts on our doorstep. But suddenly it seems possible. I think we'll go for it!

We've loved this house! Now we'll find a new one that fits us better.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clear Lake

We decided to head for the hills this weekend.  We reserved two "rustic cabins" and found some partners in crime.  Tommy and Julia are several years older than Jude, but the three kids bonded over a love of fishing.  They spent countless hours casting from this picnic table into the road, trees, and anyone unlucky enough to walk in their path...  It was a little challenging to share two fishing poles among three kids, but they worked it out.

Meanwhile, the dads and Ada worked on their ringers at the horseshoe pit, conveniently located right between our cabin and the lake.

Our "two bedroom cabin" consisted of one room with an open loft and a hospital curtain partitioning off a small area of the main floor.  Surprisingly, we all slept really well.  Jude LOVED sleeping in the loft by himself, and especially loved climbing up and down the ladder and throwing things at us from his perch ten feet up in the air.  We only had a few heart attacks when he got careless too close to the edge.

I managed to get a few good close-ups of the kids this weekend.

Ada is loving her George these days.

Jude and Tommy disappeared for a while this morning, and when we found them they were playing in the greenery between our cabins.

Clear Lake itself is gorgeous, with blue and aquamarine water so clear and cold that you can see ancient preserved trees haunting the bottom of the lake.  We were sorry not to have any real fishing gear, as the lake is stocked and the fish seemed to be biting.  One afternoon during nap time, the dads took Tommy up to the Great Spring to see the source of the lake.  Getting there is a bit tricky, as you have to paddle the canoe up a short set of rapids (they were too much of a barrier for us when we tried it again the next day).  We also went on a hike around the lake while the kids slept on our backs.  The trail was beautifully maintained and we were passed by several mountain bikers.

Another highlight was roasting marshmallows over the campfire.  Curious George roasts marshmallows when he goes camping, so Jude knew what to expect.  He was the talk of the camp with his forked stick and contagious excitement.  Luckily for us, Jude vastly prefers roasting marshmallows to eating them.  In the end, I think he ate one and roasted about twenty.  A perfect ratio.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

3Y Doctor Visit

We all made a trip to see Dr. Jack today for Jude's three-year visit.  He didn't need any shots, which sort of disappointed him (he asked if he could get a shot next time)!  Ada got a flu shot, and wasn't very happy about that.

Jude continues to be very large.  Here are his stats:
  • Weight: 41 pounds (98th percentile)
  • Height: 42 inches (99.9th percentile)
  • BMI (body mass index) is about 50th percentile (calculated for the first time)
With an average BMI, there doesn't seem to be any reason to worry about Jude's weight at this point.  He did gain a few pounds over the summer, but he also grew a few inches.  He is solid muscle, and looks pretty slim.

Jude talked with the doctor about his birthday party, his school, his friends, and his love of stickers.  Dr. Jack tried to convince Jude that it's time to stop using diapers.  I don't think he bought it.  The doctor commented on Jude's language and coordination, saying both seemed pretty well developed.  We didn't really have any concerns, other than Jude's recent tendency to hurt himself by landing on his head.  The boy is covered in bumps and bruises, and he seems to get fresh ones more quickly than the old ones can heal.  Just a phase, hopefully.  Or maybe it's part of being a boy.

The doctor's office moved to a new building over the summer, and there are some pretty cool escalators and elevators in the atrium.  Everyone had a good time riding up and down (and up and down).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ada: Sixteen Months

Ada is now a few days past sixteen months, and I've been remiss in posting photos and an update.

Our girl is quite a character these days. She talks nonstop and she's in the middle of all the action. She runs and walks, climbs up and slides down. We can't even count the number of words she's saying. 40? 50? Here are a few photos from the past week.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Jude: Three

Our boy is three years old today.  How can I describe our son, this force of nature?

Jude has a new obsession these days: fire-fighters ("fighter-fighters") and everything related to fighting fires.  His favorite show is Fireman Sam, about the Welsh town of Pontypandy.  He is constantly running around the house putting out fires and warning about an impending fire.  For his birthday, he asked for a fighter-fighter outfit.  Nini took care of that.

Jude loves to play games.  He often requests that we pull out one of the adult board games, like "the train game" or Monopoly.  He also loves playing Memory and Candyland (this is often part of his going-to-bed routine).  Games on my phone are also sought-after treat (at first it was Angry Birds, now he loves a game called Cookie Maker where he gets to bake and eat cookies).  He also loves playing games on the computer.  His favorite is actually "Typing" where he opens up MS Word and types letters, changes the font/size, deletes the letters, rinse, repeat.  By the time that kid is in school, he is going to know how to use Word better than his teachers!  He also loves the puzzles and games on  He can spend hours working on those if we let him.

Another obsession these days is fishing.  I still need to blog about Jude's first fish which he caught at Baekeland Camp this summer.  He has a kid fishing pole with which he has been diligently casting and reeling in a little red rubber fish for months.  Our friend Dave hooked a small rock bass for him and let him pull it in.  He was over the moon and didn't stop talking about the "slimy fish with spines down its back" for days and days.  Jude will also "play fishing" with just about anything he can find which resembles a rope.  He'll let down his blankie little by little over the side of the changing table, or a jump rope over the edge of our deck, or the line from his kite.  Give that kid a piece of rope, and he's happy for hours!  Jude also caught his first edible fish this summer (we enjoyed the bounty a few nights later).  You can read about it over at Nini's blog.

Jude is still an incredible athlete.  He has no fear, but he is actually very careful and rarely goes beyond his physical abilities.  It can be kind of frightening to take him to the playground these days, though.  I'll look over and see him doing something, like climbing on top of the tube slide, or scaling the outside of a high set of stairs, that was obviously not intended by the playground designers.  Sometimes Jude insists that we call him by his "real name": Monkey Boondoggle.  For a while, we were the Boondoggle family (for example, I was Lion Boondoggle) but now Jude says he is "all of the Boondoggles".

A few funny phrases that Jude says all the time: he says "in course" instead of "in case".  Like, "let me know in course you want to go outside."  He also says "besides" when he means "decides".  "What did Daddy beside to do today?".  Other than these minor (and endearing) word mix-ups, Jude seems to speak like a much older child.  It can be a little bit difficult for people who don't know him to follow along with what he's saying, but we can catch every word, and I don't remember the last time he wasn't able to express something he was thinking.  He is also getting pretty good at expressing his feelings: he'll say something like "I didn't like that" when he has a time-out or "That hurt me" when he falls down.  He also lets us know when he's tired or hungry: "I'm kind of starving right now".

Jude continues to be a challenge for us as parents.  He is very intense, and emotional, and often seems like he is about to erupt into bad behavior.  I get most angry with him when he deliberately uses his strength against Ada - pushing her, kicking her, hitting her.  These days, we're trying to do time-outs when he does this, but it's hard to be consistent.  Jude also hits me sometimes, or throws things at people.  He does a lot of testing boundaries, often just to see what will happen if he disobeys.  I got very angry with him about a week ago when he took off down our street on his bike and I had to go about 20 houses down (to the chickens) before I caught up with him.  I had to carry him kicking and screaming back to our house, because every time I put him down he would try to run off again.  He often claims that he doesn't know what he did wrong, but I don't really think that's true.  We try not to have too many rules, and to repeat our expectations to him so that he knows what he's supposed to do.  It seems to help, but it can be exhausting to be around him and responsible for his behavior and safety.

Other times, Jude is just the sweetest little boy you could imagine.  He'll curl up next to me and relax all of his weight on me while I read him ten books, or tell me all about his day, or watch a movie while lying on top of me.  He'll tell me he loves me and give me huge hugs and kisses.  He is so happy to see me when I get home from work, and he'll tell Dad that he wants more days with Mom home.  He loves his Nini and his Ama, and wants to help Ada climb the stairs or make art or build with blocks.  We feel so lucky to be raising this boy.

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