Monday, December 31, 2007

Splashing is SO fun!

During tonight's bath, Fiona discovered the immense and irrefutable joy of splashing. And how! She was going wild in the tub, and enjoying every moment of it. We hope you enjoy this video! She is a nut. At one point, her left arm is winging around so fast that it looks as though I sped up the video. Trust me. I didn't.

video

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Those perfect Pats!

Congratulations to the New England Patriots on their 16-0 season, the first-ever in the NFL. On route to this astonishing accomplishment, the team broke too many records to list here. What a season! I can rest easy knowing that for the five weeks I participated in my football pool (before pitifully giving up), I picked the Pats every week.

The playoffs are going to be wicked pissah!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rory on Christmas morning

Sleepy and sweet. Turn up the volume!

video

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007!

Wishing you love and happiness for this holiday season and beyond! We had a lovely morning. We woke up at around 7:00 (late by Christmas morning standards, we know), and after reading "Clifford's Christmas," we headed downstairs.

Rory knew exactly what was going on. She knew what day it was, knew who had visited the house that night, and knew what
he had left. I shot a video of her as I woke her up, and it is super sweet (if incoherent). Fiona enjoyed the morning, also, but mostly enjoyed crawling through the shredded wrapping paper.

Many thanks for everyone who sent gifts. Thank you notes are coming! =)

That night, we went to our dear cousins' house. Frank, Lee, and Kate Carrigan live in Arlington, and we spent a lovely evening with them and some of their friends. The food was superb (as always), and Lee's holiday decorations were astonishing. I think she owns 250 Santa figurines (Rory was in love). She also has a bunch of decorated trees (I would guess 8), each decorated in a specific theme. Lee is a massive over-achiever, and she is darn good at it. The house was simply gorgeous!

Many thanks to Nana (Craig's mom) for the world's cutest sweaters!!

Pictures will be posted soon on http://homepage.mac.com/lauramuck.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pre-Christmas run-around!

On this, the boring "just before Christmas" morning, we loaded the girlies into the van and drove to a fantastic local playground, Clemyjontri Park (click the link, and look at the aerial shot of the place!). Rory ran wild for almost two hours, and Fiona spent time being wheeled around in search of her sister. Craig and I basically tag-teamed the girls, one adult sticking to one child like glue - mainly because of the size of the park and the sheer number of children running about. It's a zoo - a fun zoo, but a zoo nevertheless.

The girls were in hog heaven. Rory climbed, slid, hung, ran, tumbled, swung, and more. The possibilities there are endless. Fiona had a ball swinging (see picture), and loved standing up in her stroller. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning, and the day was lovely - 45 degrees and sunny, with a nice blue sky. We had a blast!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

These steps are made for climbing!

And that's just what she did! Today, Fiona climbed up not one, but TWO steps. Time to bring out the baby gate and put a rude halt to her development. Sad, but true (though we will try to delay the gate's use a bit, as it is a huge impediment to us, as well).

Fiona was stalking a toy on the third step, and looked very pleased with herself when she got up there. Until she tumbled down, that is, only to be caught by her dad. Good thing, too, with the wood floor and all. Kidding, people, we have a rug down there, just for such emergencies.

This afternoon I suggested to Rory that she should pee in the toilet on Christmas Day. I'll be sure to report back if that happens. Not in gory detail; just a progress report (and certainly NO photos!).

Happy holidays!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ho Ho Ho for Fiona

Two of our kindest relatives, Anthony and Pamela Campagna, just sent Miss Fiona a wonderful stack of books for Christmas. They did the same thing for Rory's first Christmas, and I must say that it is a lovely tradition. They sent such fabulous books as "Make Way for Ducklings," "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," and "Doggies." We are so touched by their generosity, and we know Fi will adore them. Thank you!!

(Yes, I stole the accompanying image from Wikipedia. You didn't think I was going to scan in the book's cover, did you?)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fiona is 10 months old!

Only two more months until the big numero uno! Fiona is ten months old, and is all over the place. She is a very fast crawler, pulls herself up on things lickety-split fast, and is a drooling machine. She claps, she babbles incessantly, and she recently attended her first two holiday parties. Fiona is now eating such delicious morsels as cheese bits, cheerios, freeze-dried fruit, and the like. It is time for her mom to start thinking about what other non-baby food items she can eat, so by the time she is a year she is eating just like her big sister. Well, maybe no spaghetti and red sauce just YET!

Fiona caught a plague right around the ten-month date, and off to the doctor we went. She has a mild ear infection and a case of bronchilitis (baby bronchitis), so we now have a nebulizer at home (though we have only used it twice - she is getting well on her own). While at the doctor, she was weighed and clocked in at 26 pounds! She is sturdy, to say the least. At my company holiday party, she spent most of the time with her legs exposed so people could squeeze her juicy thighs. There is no shame, though I would like to state that she didn't protest once. She must be used to it (ya think?).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mullet-a-licious

Me in a bright red mullet. Maybe not the prettiest sight, but certainly it has a high amusement factor!

I went to the Washington Capitals hockey game last night (hence the jersey), and it was "mullet night." They gave these horrifying things to the first 5,000 people to enter the coliseum, and since the Caps don't draw well these days, that pretty much meant anyone stepping foot inside the building got one.

No, I didn't wear it all night. I donned it during the second intermission so my "hockey husband," Mark, could photograph me in all my glory/shame. We sent it to Craig (actual husband), and when I got home, he confessed that he had tried to hack into my blog and post it!! I obviously foiled him, because he couldn't crack the password. Bwa ha ha ha! And then I decided to post it anyway, because it is so frightening. =>

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas stockings by Nancy Gaden

My good friend, Julie Gaden Lechner, has two truly amazing parents - Joel and Nancy Gaden. They are lovely, friendly, fun, funny people, and Nancy is a master knitter. She has made the most gorgeous Christmas stockings for Craig, me, and the girls, and I broke them out last night to much fanfare from Rory.

She immediately dropped to the ground and began pulling her stocking (and Fiona's) onto her legs. I guess they DO look like giant socks, don't they?? Wheeeeeee!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rory loves spaghetti!

And it shows! This is what she looks like pretty much every time she eats red sauce. As our good friend, Harlen, said when he saw this picture: "Is the fork there just for show?" Uh, yeah, I think so. Thank heavens for baby wipes, which cut through the red like magic. =)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sprouting another tooth!

Fiona's second baby tooth has sprouted out - the bottom right front one. It is barely peeking through at this point, but she was super fussy for a few days last week (and I swear her cheek on that side was reddish), and POP, here it is!

She is crawling like a madwoman now. I will plop her in the living room while I run into the kitchen to get something done. I can hear the sweet little fat hands slapping all the way in, as she stalks me. Then her sweet face peeks around the corner. It is adorable.

Last night, while on the phone with my grandmother (Del, who turns 94 in January!), Fiona found time to pop a piece of dry cat food into her mouth. Nice. So she won't feed herself Cheerios, but cat food is high on the menu. What a nut!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Roger comes home!

My stepfather, Roger, was discharged from the hospital in Flagstaff, and is now resting comfortably at home in Sedona. I am sure their cat, Sabu, has been glued to his lap since he arrived. Roger seems to be healing well; they are going to spend a few weeks focusing on his eating and drinking, and then they will see his oncologist for a prognosis.

If they prescribe a treatment including some chemo, but with a good life extension, Roger may decide to do it. If they say "chemo, but it will only get you six months," he may not choose that path. Of course, we hope that he can grab every spare moment of life possible, but not at the cost of his comfort and happiness. So we wait to see what the doctors say, and in the meantime, he focuses on getting his appetite back on track.

That's it for now! We are so happy he is home. My mother said he looked better the minute he walked through the door. Good luck to Roger, and to Nurse Mary! =>

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007!

This Thanksgiving, we spent a lovely day with a large group of our friends in Virginia. The event was held at Donna and Kurt's house in Great Falls, and included the Matrangas (Greg, Dina, Caroline, and Alec), Ben Smith, Morgan (Kurt's daughter), Grayson (Donna and Kurt's sweet baby boy), Marcia and Jim Moran, Marta and Dario, Kurt's mom Bev, and Janet and Tina Kutchmanik and their mom.

The group cooked enough food to sink a large boat, and we ate like fools. The meal was outstanding, and it is so wonderful to hang out and Donna and Kurt's place. There is a lot of room to roam, a kid zone for the little ones to run around, a TV room, a large kitchen, and enough tables and chairs for 20. A great time was had by all!

This was Fiona and Grayson's first Thanksgiving, so the room gave thanks for them, in addition to many other wonderful things. =>

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Roger's surgery - update

My stepfather, Roger, had surgery today for colon cancer that has been afflicting him for weeks now. The doctors started out thinking that he had a heart issue, but it turned out that his heart was as fine now as it was after the small heart attack he had 20 years ago. This time, it was colon cancer.

My mother called last night to tell me that they found cancer in the local lymph nodes, as well as all around the other lymph nodes inside of him. This is not good news. This basically means that Roger will just go home and wait to take his leave of us. I feel so bad about this - for us, for my mom, for Roger. Roger is very zen regarding his demise, so I am not worried about his mental state. I do worry about how much pain he will be in, and cross my fingers that the doctors will ply him with good meds.

I feel sad for our family - losing him will be very hard. Roger is funny, smart, curious about the world around him, always quick with a helping hand, and is a very sweet guy. I hope he fights it as long as possible, so we can selfishly have him around for as long as possible. I hope he is ready to have me videotape him to bits, because when I go visit them in Sedona, AZ, I will come armed with a video camera.

Please send him your thoughts and love.

House of plague and pox

So this past weekend, Rory came down with the stomach bug that has been afflicting the children in the girls' daycare center. Craig was off riding, and the girls and I had gone to Wegman's to conduct a pre-Thanksgiving shop-o-rama. On the way home, Rory said, "Mommy, I want to go home," which she never says - she loves being out and about. Upon arriving home at 10:00 am, I offered her a snack, which she declined. She never declines snacks. I offered her fruit snacks - her all-time fave - and she said no. That's when I knew we were in trouble.

She started vomiting at 10:00 am, and had about four episodes that day. Fiona started up at around 6:00. Craig started up at 9:00. I was the lone man standing - and thank heavens SOMEONE was, because who would have come over to take care of four diseased sickies? I vote no one!

I got it Monday night, but only got sick one. Not too bad, but I felt lethargic all day Tuesday and didn't go to work. No sense spreading it around! Craig has been super tired since he got hit on Saturday night, the poor thing. The girls seem loads better

Hopefully, we are all on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fiona is 9 months old!

Happy 3/4 of a year to Fiona! In the past month, she has started crawling, pulling herself up on everything, cruising (mildly), and babbling much more. Here are her 9-month baby stats:

Weight: 25 pounds, 7 ounces (95 percentile)
Length: 29 inches (90 percentile)
Head circumference: 46.5 cm (95 percentile)


We call her "Wee Fee," but she isn't very wee. =) Fiona continues to be a wonderful, happy, smiley little thing. We took away her pacifier a few weeks back, and even that wasn't too challenging. She can't quite feed herself bits of food yet, though toys
seem to have no problem winding up in her mouth. We are about to start feeding her more table food (cheese bits, bananas, etc.). She currently drinks three 7-oz bottles a day, plus three 4-ounce jars of fruit, grains, and veggies. She also eats Cheerios and other small, dry, cereal-type things.

Fiona is a true gem. Rory (mostly) likes her, and enjoys making her laugh and giggle. And Fiona thinks Rory is the bees knees. Who doesn't! =>

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We lost a good friend

Tonight our family lost a wonderful friend, Reese Livingston - a smart, kind, wonderful, and truly insane human being. He will be sorely missed. I can barely describe how much he will be missed. Rarely in life do you befriend someone with such a big heart and a magnificent sense of humor. We feel for his wife, Jessie, and their families.

Reese will probably be best known by his friends for his twisted sense of humor, which included joke-telling, physical humor, and all-out craziness. I have a memory of a picture of Reese that my dad took. In the picture, Reese had thrown himself onto the ground in front of someone's private plane, as though it had run him down. His humor was very in-the-moment, and always brilliant.

I am sad that my girls will never know him, but I have many stories with which to regale them. Reese was afraid of babies, afraid that he would drop them, but I forced Fiona into his arms this past July. He probably only took her because he was afraid that *I* would drop her if he didn't. => It didn't last long - perhaps 30 seconds - and she was back over to me.

For the people who saw Reese regularly, such as my dad, I don't know how you will get over his loss. A light has gone out.

Reese, we will miss you like hell.

His obituary, as printed in the Hartford Courant, follows.

Maurice "Reese" Livingston
LIVINGSTON, Maurice "Reese" Maurice "Reese" Livingston, Glastonbury, loving husband and best friend of Jessie (Sussman) Livingston, born in 1946 to Gertrude and Alvin Livingston, died on Wednesday (November 7, 2007). A graduate of Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, NJ, Reese was a consummate businessman first for Domino Sugar, then Fort Howard Paper, and later for Ober-Read Associates. In 1993, he founded RJ and Associate, Inc. Reese always had a joke or story to tell, a warm smile, loved everybody, had a gentle touch, a passion for life, and was a friend to all. He is survived by his wife of 38 years; his mother, Gertrude; his brother, Leon and Leon's wife, Zena; his sister-in law, Alice and brother-in-law, Ed Mannix; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, and great-nieces and great-nephews. The funeral service will take place on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., at Louis Suburban Funeral Home in Fairlawn, NJ (201-791-0015), with interment to follow.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Like the Virgin Mary in a Grilled Cheese...

Describing this could be tricky, so stay with me.

My all-time favorite hockey team, the Hartford Whalers, left Hartford in 1997. Before they joined the NHL, they were part of the World Hockey Association (WHA), an alternate North American league. The Whalers had several logos; the one used most was a capital W with a harpoon through it (celebrating, I suppose, New England's whaling history). The other, less-used, logo was Pucky the Whale (the whale with the "ers").

So fast forward to 2007. The Whalers are long gone, and in 1999 I started attending Washington Capitals games with my friend, Mark Maddrey. I typically get the same dinner at every game - chicken fingers and fries. Boring, yes, but they're actual white chicken - not pressed chicken particle board.

So at the Friday night game, here we were, sitting and eating our dinners. I had eaten my fries, and was starting in on the chicken. There was one piece left, and I spun it around and WHAT did I see? A Pucky-shaped piece of chicken!




Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!!!

We love Halloween in our house! I decorate (a bit), we carve pumpkins, and this year - Rory's first real trick-or-treating expedition - we had her try on her costume a few days early, so she wouldn't be freaked out by it. She was a spider (she loves them), and Fiona was a chili pepper.

Here are a few photos:
one of Rory in her costume (hitting the streets); one of Rory, Fiona, and Nihal (our neighbor); and one of Fiona being spicy. Fiona's costume had quite a headpiece, which I wasn't expecting, and I almost fell over when we put it on. Hah!

Interesting note: after walking up and down the street once (gathering no candy), Rory spent Halloween Eve removing candy from the distribution bowl, and placing it into our jack-o-lantern (which we had cut a few days earlier). She would then carry it back, handful by handful, and put it back into the distribution bowl. I hope the neighbor kids didn't mind slimy candy!

Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Red Sox Win the World Series!!!

Yes, the title of this post DID deserve three exclamation points, thank you! The Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in four years! That is amazingly exciting for those of us in Red Sox Nation, and it was a sweet sweep over the Colorado Rockies. I wasn't expecting it to be over so fast, or so conclusively, but here we are. Sigh! It doesn't seem real!!

We go to New England next week, and I can't WAIT to go shopping for new gear! Hats, t-shirts, and stickers for all! Mike Lowell was named MVP, which couldn't possibly be more deserved. He is the heart and soul of this team, and it brought a tear to my eye.

Congratulations to this team. They are so deep and so talented, and lead the American League from Day 1 of the season through to the almost-Yankee-contested season's end. It was nice to win the division, and great to win the pennant, but nothing can come close to matching the hazy happiness I am currently experiencing.

While this isn't as momentous as 2004, it is better in a lot of ways. This is a better, more robust team, and because of the outstanding job Theo Epstein and crew have done to build the ranks, we are set for a few (possibly more) years.

I like this side of the fence, I must say. =>

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Triplets enjoying pumpkins

Here is an adorable photo of the next-door triplet boys enjoying Halloween and some pumpkins! From left to right: Mason, Tyler, and Ryan. They are six months old, and couldn't be sweeter - or cuter!

Their parents have done a great job getting them on a schedule, and just the other night, they ALL started sleeping through the night (Mason was being uncooperative about the whole thing). So now their folks can get a good chunk of sleep time, and everyone has to feel better about the world as a whole. =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Week in San Francisco

I have been in San Fran all week, enjoying watching baseball on the West Coast - better start times! I am working at a tradeshow (CTIA - a mobile industry show) with my company, Sybase 365, and we have been having a great time. We had a Tuesday night party at a cool wine place in the city called Vino Venue, and the show is going well. That said, I miss the kids, Craig, and the kitties. And my feet are killing me - I keep referring to them as "bloody stumps," and finally resorted to wearing sneakers at the show.

I have visited with several friends while here, including Paul Scott Silvera and his BF, Keith (whose last name is pronounced "sure home" but is unspellable to me). We spent Sunday night together watching the Sox clinch the ALCS, and then I took Bart out to Oakland to visit with them, see Scott's store (Scout Hardware), and to see their faboo house and meet their uber-sweet dog, Raleigh. We had a wonderful dinner, and watched the Sox rout the Rockies. All was well with the world.

I also got to visit Alan Gibbs! We went to dinner with two coworkers, and had a lovely time. The Sox were playing (of course), so I kept delicately slipping away from the table to sneak into the restaurant's bar to check the score. Hopefully, Alan will find it in his heart to forgive this obsessive New Englander!!

Home soon!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Red Sox win the ALCS!!

In an astonishing comeback from a 3 games to 1 deficit, the Boston Red Sox tonight defeated the Cleveland Indians to win the ALCS. Many in Red Sox Nation, this writer included, thought we were done for. It was over. There was no chance that the team could pull this off. Never you mind that in 2004 we came back from a 3 games to 0 deficit against the Yankees, then won four straight for the first time in MLB history. Just don't think about that.

And yet, we did it! I watched the game at Jillian's sports bar in beautiful San Francisco with a few friends. It should be noted that this is the same bar in which I watched the Sox clinch the 2004 World Series (and I was attending the same tradeshow that year, too). Same month, same location, same tradeshow... it is starting to sound a little too coincidental, isn't it? =>

GO SOX! On to the World Series! I never thought they'd win ONE in my lifetime, and here we are on the possible, potential, hopeful doorstep to TWO! Bring it on!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pat turns 15!

My brother, Patrick, turned 15 today. Only one more year until total, unadulterated freedom! Wheee haw!!!

Man, am I getting old. =>

Happy birthday, Pat!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Liz's birthday!

My sister, Liz, turns 41 today!!

Am I allowed to publish that? I guess that the answer is YES, at least until she learns how to hack into my blog and change it. Hah! =)

Happy birthday, sis! Love you!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fiona is 8 months old!


Today, Wee Fee turned eight months old. She is a very sweet baby, is a good eater (as you can no doubt see!), is practically crawling, pulls herself up on things (with assistance), and is very interactive. She is currently eating two 4 ounce jars of food a day (fruit/grain in the morning - or a yogurt, and veggies/rice at night), and drinks four 6-ounce bottles of formula every day.

Fiona has a very gentle, silly nature. She giggles a lot, is endlessly fascinated by Rory, loves staring at the cats, bounces in her exersaucer like a MADWOMAN, and likes to stand up at the coffee table and grab everything in sight. I call her "scrabbly paws," because she flings her exploratory little hands all around the table, looking for new, exciting things to wing around. Last night, I had her drumming. Rory came over and joined us - I see a family band in the future!!

For more pics, go to my Web site. There is a link to Fiona's 8 month photos near the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Testing her vocal chords

In my last post (the tooth post), I mentioned how Fiona had discovered a primal scream within herself. Well, here it is in video form! I apologize in advance if you call us and hear this live. It could shatter glass! Hah!
video

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fiona grows a tooth!

Fiona sprouted her first fang tonight, on the bottom, all nice and bumpy. It seems to have brought on a new ability to scream loudly, which she has been doing all day. Perhaps she has been trying to alert us to the tooth's arrival, but we were a little slow to clue in. Fiona also ate her first yogurt today, and went crazy for it. It was banana flavored. What's not to love? She couldn't fling her mouth open far enough!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fiona loves raspberries!

In the past few days, Fiona has started blowing raspberries like her life depends on it. Laura has been teaching her this critical life skill, and is pleased that all the hard work and focus has been paying off. Hah!

video

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ben Garneau... in memorium

Ben Garneau, father-in-law of Laura's first cousin, Jenny (and grandfather to Jenny's wonderful daughter, Delly) died today, on his 83rd birthday. He will be missed. Ben had a great sense of humor and a wonderful spirit, and his smile was like sunshine filling a room. Our family is lesser for his loss. Ben, we will miss you.

Following is the obituary written by Jenny:

Benoit W. Garneau, Jr. died on Tuesday October 2, 2007. He was 83 years old.

Born in Fall River, MA on October 2, 1924, Mr. Garneau led an exciting and full life. He attended the Dublin School in Dublin N.H. as well as a private school in Canada. From February 1944 to April 1946, Mr. Garneau served in Company B, 411th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater of World War II and was part of the initial invasion of Italy. He graduated in 1950 from the Foreign Service School, Georgetown University, Washington D.C. After graduating he went to work for the United States Displaced Persons Commission. He was assigned to work in Stuttgart, Germany. It was there in 1951 he met and married his beloved wife Sigrid Eickelman. They were blessed with two children Benoit and Pierre.

Mr. Garneau worked internationally for BIC and RCA. He and his family lived in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Canada, and New York City before settling on Nantucket. Having “retired” to Nantucket he and his wife bought the Dory restaurant where they would entertain their breakfast customers with the wild tails of their lives. After selling the Dory he bought the Brass Lantern Inn and was the inn keeper until 1989.

Mr. Garneau had a zest for life that few could match. He spoke French, German and Spanish fluently. He was an accomplished cook and loved to read. He was an avid history buff. He was devoted to his granddaughter Delphine whom he took care of daily when her mother, Jeanette went back to work after her birth. Noted for his sense of humor and engaging smile, Mr. Garneau was one of a kind and will be missed deeply by his family and friends.

Mr. Garneau was predeceased by his wife Sigrid and his sons Benoit and Pierre. He is survived by his daughter-in-law Jeanette and granddaughter Delphine.

A gathering in remembrance of Mr. Garneau will be held on Saturday October 13, 2007 at his daughter-in-laws home, 18 Sesapana Road from 1-3 pm for family and close friends. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Mr. Garneau’s name to Our Island Home, The American Heart Association or to the National Heart Foundation. Au Revoir Benoit!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Grandma + Grandpa arrive!

Grandma and Grandpa flew in from Sedona late last night (and boy, are their arms tired!). Rory was so excited to see them when she woke up this morning - and she hasn't slowed down. My mom, who hasn't seen Miss Fiona since she was roughly nine days old, peered in at her sleeping form in her crib in the middle of the night, and declared, "I am in love!" We petted Fiona's thighs, squeezed a bit, and then let her be. Good thing she didn't wake up! My rule, in case you're wondering, is: "You wake her, you take her!" Not that Grandma would have minded...

Today we drove to Charlestown, WV to visit some pseudo-relatives on my mom's side. Her cousin, Peter, died this past Spring. Peter's mom had a sister, and the WV people we visited were cousin's of Peter's on his mom's sister's side. No blood connection, as far as we can tell, but confusing nevertheless! Their names are Randy and Vicky, and they were really sweet people. We spent a few hours drinking coffee and discussing genealogy, and then we hustled back to VA for Rory's lunch and nap. It was a true drive-by of a visit, but a good time was had by all.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Let the babbling begin!

Fiona started babbling this week, in earnest. Lots of "ab-ba" (we think she likes a certain Swedish rock band), "ba-ba," and "da-da" going on. It's great! She gets herself going, and she is off and running. She is also fully rolling over now (she started at around six months, which is on the late end of the scale, but who's counting?), and can almost sit up from a lying down position.

I had to raise the crib rail on Fiona's bed upstairs, because I sat her in the middle one day recently and turned around to put away her laundry. When I looked back, she had both hands on the crib rail and was on her knees! I think she was trying to escape.

We also bought Fiona her very own toddler car seat - no more infant carrier for her! Now my left arm (nicknamed "Popeye") can have a bit of a rest. Lugging a 23 pound baby in a ten pound carseat isn't easy, I tell you!

In fact, until we move to Massachusetts, perhaps I should have Craig install a series of ropes, pulleys, and a basket from the second level down to the front door. That would be great!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fiona waves!

This afternoon, while sitting on the ground surrounded by toys, Fiona looked up at me and my friend, Niki George. We both started saying "Hi, Fiona!" and waving at her, and darned if she didn't pick up her sweet little hand and imitate us! It was so sweet to see the "click" in her brain.

Fiona is developing at an amazing pace now: grabbing at everything, playing with toys, improving her hand-eye coordination every day. She has a very sweet disposition, and breaks into huge smiles (typically accompanied by loud squealing) at the drop of a hat. It's great!

Today is also Grandad's 76th birthday (Craig's pop, Donald). Happy birthday!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fiona is 7 months old!


Wee Fiona turns seven months old today! She has become highly interested in the world around her, and when seated on the floor will grab at anything even remotely within her reach. Toys, books, furniture legs, you name it. She can sit up for 20 minutes at a time, and when she falls backwards onto the boppy pillow, she can pull herself back up to sitting 9 our of 10 times.

Fiona is super strong, and can stand when you hold her hands. I had to raise the gate on her crib recently. She was sitting in there playing while I put away her clean laundry, and when I turned around to look at her, both little hands were holding onto the still-lowered gate. I swear, it looked like she was about to hoist herself up and projectile herself out. So up went the gate!

No updated stats on her weight and length this month. We'll figure it out soon as post it. She probably weights 23 pounds - all in her thighs! =>

Thursday, September 13, 2007

To Mexico City and back - in 24 hours

More like 20 hours, actually! On Wednesday, 12 September, I flew to Mexico City to help run a seminar for my company, Sybase 365. I landed at around 8:00 pm, sweeping in over the city at sunset. The urban sprawl there is vast - ten minutes of flying over city blocks before we passed over the main heart of the city. It was enormous!

The seminar was Thursday morning, and by 1:30 pm I was back at the airport, heading for home. While I was gone, Rory got thrown out of daycare for massive, repeated puking. Craig picked her up, and she threw up one more time - in my car. It was so projectile-esque that it bounced off the back of the driver's seat headrest. Talk about distance! Craig had to process her at the side of the road, give her a bath, and do two loads of laundry (in less than one day's time). Rory got better right after the car incident, and has been right as rain ever since.

And Craig may never let me travel again. Hah!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Go Red Sox!

Boy, does Rory like the Red Sox! Especially Big Papi. Hah!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rory gets chomped

Just a short note to report Rory's first "child on child" violence incident. Some little bugger at daycare bit her today, and left quite an impressive set of fang marks on her left forearm. He didn't break the skin, but she was pretty upset about it. I was going to take a picture of it, but I didn't want to make it *more* of an issue in her mind.

More toy pileups

This time in the high chair. How hilarious! There really isn't much more to say than that. Rory likes bringing things to Fiona. Bottom line!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rory feeds Fiona (with a helping hand)

Now that Fiona is eating solid (quasi-solid) food, Rory has been taking a periodic interest in helping feed her. Naturally, we encourage it, but with a steady hand guiding Rory's. Once, she jammed the spoon a bit far into Fiona's mouth, gagging her, so we watch closely. Fiona seems to like Rory's help (other than the choking part). It's very sweet!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Meeting Becky!

Fiona had never met our good friend, Becky Mahon Chaklader, so on Sunday we hoofed it to Burke, VA to hang out with Becky, her husband (Subir), and the boys (Harry, who is six, and David, who is three). The boys are adorable - seriously cute and sweet - and we had a lovely summer cookout type of dinner, including Bodgie's (Becky's mom) incredible mac and cheese. Not an ounce of fat! Hah!

Thanks again to the Chaklader's for a fun night. => We must do it again soon!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Visit to Penzey's spice store!


Today, the girls and I went to Rockville, MD to visit one of the two local Penzey's spice stores (the other is soon to open in Falls Church, VA). We went to the store with Amy B, Harlen H's sister, and we had a blast. It was Amy's first time in a Penzey's store (mostly catalog ordering for all of us), and it is quite an experience. If you've never had Penzey's, we highly recommend them.

Included are two pictures from the day: one of Amy hugging Fiona, and one of Rory enjoying the slide at the playground we went to after Penzey's. => We can't wait to see her again - Rory adored Amy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two-year portraits taken

This evening - a sunny, not-too-humid affair - we had Rory's professional two-year portraits taken. The four of us tromped over to Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA, where we were met by our wedding/family photographer, Hope Reynolds.

Rory wore a dress I bought for her in Barcelona in February of 2006 - when she was six months old. I bought it specifically for her two-year portraits. Scary, I know. Craig mocked me for it. She looked mighty sweet, and had a blast running around the park and hamming it up for Hope. We fed some giant fish in the garden's pond, and got to see massive snapping turtles. They must have been ancient! Fiona was happily ensconced in her stroller the entire time, checking out the new sights and enjoying the evening.

The pictures should be ready in a few weeks. Watch this site for more info!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Where's Fiona?

Rory likes to bring Fiona toys. Lots of them. Can you find Fiona in this picture? Hah! I snapped this shot, and then un-buryed the baby. =>

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rory dressing up Fiona

Rory enjoys putting hats on Fiona. Fiona doesn't seem to mind, unless they cover her eyes. We encourage all non-violent interaction between the girls, so we try not to stop such things. Unless things get out of control. Which, conveniently, they rarely do (yet).

Rory's first cold cereal and milk!

Today Rory ate her first bowl of real cereal! She dined on Rice Krispies, and loved them. She even had a refill! We knew she would be a cereal lover, and it gives us yet another thing she will eat for breakfast (the other items being yogurt of any flavor, waffles, and pancakes). I have yet to get her to eat eggs, but I am not giving up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Henry, lounging around

In terms of pure sweetness, Henry is the gentlest cat of our four. Digit, Zamboni, and Sedona are sweet babies, too, but Henry has an innocence about him that can't be matched. As the only boy, maybe he is just manipulating us to do his evil bidding. I dunno, but this picture is a good indicator of his immense cuteness factor. He was super reclined!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Papa snuggling his big girl

Here is a sweet picture of Rory snuggling under a blanket with Craig. These two just can't get enough of each other! =)

And notice the pink blanket. It was made by our friend, Susan Zappala-Brittain, and it has baby hippos on the other side. Rory is, to describe it mildly, in LOVE with it. Its official name is "the Appa blanket."

Friday, August 17, 2007

I can vote!!

On Wednesday, August 15, Parker Walsh became a U.S. citizen! In the Federal Building in New York City, Parker and his parents took an oath and he became a full-blown citizen at the tender age of two. Parker was adopted from South Korea in January of 2006.

After a delicious meal in Chinatown, the family celebrated by letting the boy run wild in a Chinatown playground. After hours in the car each way, and calmly waiting in a government building (boring), Parker needed a bit of run around time.

Many congratulations to his parents, Rory and Rob! Soon Parker will have his Social Security card, closely followed by a passport. Then his life as a world traveler can begin!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The great baby "leg-off!"

We recently got together with our friends, Donna and Kurt, and their new baby son, Grayson. When this picture was taken (Sunday, 5 August), Grayson weighed about nine pounds, and was about 3 weeks old. Fiona was 21 pounds, and was six months old.

But still.

Have you ever seen such leg size variety?? This picture is a stitch!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rory's 2-year stats (and some silly info)

Rory had her two year doctor's appointment today, and it was fun. Dr. Powers (the one doctor we really like at the practice) was wonderful with her, and other than the various pokings and proddings, Rory enjoyed herself. Her two-year stats are as follows:

- Height: 36 inches (a yard!) (95th percentile)
- Weight: 33 pounds (97th percentile)
- Head circumference: 54 cm (97th percentile)

Big and healthy all the way around. They don't see Rory again, barring illnesses, until she is three. That seems so far off, but I know time will fly!

Now for the silly info, which is actually about both girls.

- When Craig brings the girls to daycare, Rory always stops and admires the ants outside the building. The other day she referred to them as "baby ants," which rapidly became, "Fiona ants." Everything baby is Fiona!

- The ladies at daycare love to bring Fiona into Rory's toddler room, where the children swarm around her, pinch her cheeks, and squeeze her body. And we wonder why Fiona is so laid back. She is the only baby they bring into the toddler room, because she is so easygoing, and because the ladies love to hug her.

- Rory's vocabulary has exploded. The doctor said she is highly advanced, and credited Rory's low daily frustration level to her excessive vocabulary.

- Fiona has become very physical lately, and expresses herself by jumping up and down and winging her arms and legs like crazy. Sometime, if she is holding a toy, she pegs herself in the head with it.

- Rory has started bringing toys to Fiona.

- The ladies at daycare did Rory's hair (two pigtails on top!) yesterday, and Rory immediately said "Show Fiona!" So they brought her to the infant room, where I am certain Fiona was very impressed with Rory's up-do.

That's it for now!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fiona is 1/2!


A half year old, that is! Halfway to one, and probably halfway to walking (if Rory is any indication). We have so enjoyed Fiona these last six months, and it has been wonderful to watch her grow and learn.

Fiona's nicknames include: Wee Fi, Petunia, Thing 2, and Fiyaya. Rory enjoys her, unless Fiona tries to grab Rory's stuff (and Rory considers everything to be her stuff). Fiona has been sleeping through the night since she was six weeks old (because she knows I am an old woman who can't tolerate nighttime waking), and she is even baby than Rory was - and Rory was a snap! We are very lucky, and all I keep saying is, "they'll get me during puberty." Hah!

At her six month appointment she weighed in at 21 pounds, 10 ounces, and she was 26 1/4" long. Her head was 44 centimeters around, which is pretty small for our vast-headed family. The doctor said she was in great shape, and even though Fiona got four shots and an oral vaccine, she handled the doctor visit like a champ. I doubt she is counting the days to her nine month visit, though!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fiona eats first real food!


Tonight Fiona ate pureed carrots and cereal, and she... sort of seemed to enjoy it. => She ate some, she dribbled some. She even smeared it into her eyelashes for fun. But overall, she accepted it well, and is hopefully ready to expand her culinary horizons and sample such delicious fares as peas, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, and pears.

Compared to Rory's first attempts at "solid" food, Fiona's first meal was a breeze. We tried to feed Rory plain rice cereal several times between four and six months of age, and she freaked out every time. Then I cracked open a jar of sweet potatoes, and she inhaled it. So there you go. Rice cereal was banished! We didn't even both feeding any to Fiona - we just mixed in some oatmeal cereal with the carrots, and off we went!