Zachary: 9 Months

This was a month of milestones and new experiences for Zachary.

At the beginning of the month he extended his arms and started rocking on all fours. After that, he began to pull up on boxes.

That quickly changed to climbing up and down boxes of different heights, from shoe box all the way to diaper box. Now, Zachary is pulling himself into a standing position using his book crate.

With all of this physical development there have been a few tumbles and tears. So, we are teaching Zach to lean back and sit down if unbalanced. We are learning his “help I’m stuck” whine when he gets into a position he doesn’t know how to get out of.

With this new exercise Zach now favors finger foods and solids over puree. When he does eat puree, he insists on grabbing the spoon and feeding himself. Which of course is messy. It’s also much easier for Zachary to eat carbs and meat now that he has FOUR teeth on top! The first two cut through at the beginning of the month, the second two near the end. So, he now has 6 teeth total!

On our first snow day, Mom decided to build a fort. Zach loved exploring his tunnels and hiding with Mom and a few books. We went outside to explore the snow. But it was cold, Zachary had several jackets on, and it was almost nap time, so he didn’t think the outing was very fun.

A few weeks ago, we started attending Baby Books at the Library. Once a week a volunteer leads songs, structured play, and reads short books for babies and their caretakers. The first time, Zach was overwhelmed but by the end he was smiling and wiggling along with the rest. At Baby Books he saw bubbles for the first time, and got to crawl under a colorful parachute. Needless to say, he takes a nap on the way home, every time.

For Valentine’s Day Zach got a special treat: whipped cream and strawberries, strawberries are ok, but he really likes the cream. On President’s day weekend he spent the day with NaiNai and Papa so Mom and Dad could have a long needed day away. We had sushi, frozen yogurt, and saw not one by TWO movies.

At the end of the month we went to  Olympia”s Hands on Children’s Museum. There are lots of amazing interactive exhibits ready for Zach when he’s older. Fortunately they did have a special area called “Snug Harbor” designed for little ones. Zachary sat comfortably our laps while exploring puzzles, he slowly began to crawl around, but never too far from us. Zach’s not used that much stimulation or that many people. Even though it was a sunny day, the museum was very busy, it was great to see so many families taking time with their children.

The volunteers at MOPs say Zach has had a least one if not two growth spurts since Christmas.

There is proof they are right as he is now in the tallest slot for the infant car seat. He is already in 12 month PJs and his feet almost touch the foot rest of his highchair. Everyone says he will be crawling and cruising before we know it.


Snow Day

We have snow: a lot of snow. We warned Luke’s brother Nathan and his family when they came to visit it would be cold. They said the kids would love a snow day and we said: not a problem. Luke had to snow blow a driveway and path to the house and we have giant icicles.


Sunday while they were with us we went to church then came home for a snow day. The kids got bundled up and out we went. Our acre of yard over this winter has turned into a winter version of a sand box. Feet and buckets of snow enough to do more than 20 snow angels or snowmen if you wanted.


We all enjoyed throwing snow balls, making snow angels, and burying each other in the snow. Matthew enjoyed just sitting eating the snow.



Eventually Ruth found the perfect place up behind our house for sledding. Luke found some plastic tub lids to slide down on but the snow was so sticky it was better to just go down like a slide on your stomach or back.


The boys, all ages, stayed out in the snow sliding down the hill way after the girls got cold and came inside.


While the boys were out sliding Lizbeth and I made pizza dough for dinner. We even had enough dough for her to make garlic bread to take with them on the road trip to New York City.


After everyone warmed up with hot cocoa we had Greene homemade pizza and played inside. Then for dessert: snow cones using our mountain of snow out side I piled up a buck of snow, everyone took a few spoonfuls into their own bowls and sweetened it with local maple syrup, and caramel or vanilla extract. It was the perfect winter treat for a snow day.


I took everyone to pick up a rental car the next day in another snow storm. We loved our time with family.


Oh Christmas Tree . . .

Whether you decorate with a specific color scheme, use garland and tinsle, or put an angel, star, or santa hat on top retrieving and decorating Christmas trees is a tradition everyone does in slightly different ways. For some it is time to get out the artificial tree and assemble others will go cut their own down. Last year for our first married Christmas Luke and I talked through what OUR family Christmas tree would look like.


I grew up going with my family to pick out a Christmas tree at a local grocery store lot. ( I had no other options living in L.A.). We would come home, string white twinkle lights and a garland of wooden red cranberries on the tree. Then we would get a change to open our new ornament for the year. We would place our heirloom ornaments, including ones my parents collected over the year, on the tree while we listened to our favorite Christmas CD’s, and drank hot cocoa. Topping it all, we placed a gold and red metal angel holding a trumpet to her lips on the very top of the tree.


Luke grew up with a slightly different tradition. His parents for several years owned a ran a Christmas farm in Oregon raising Douglas Firs and Nobles for sell. So his family always buys local Douglas Firs usually going to cut them down themselves. His family, like mine, kept home crafted ornaments made by their children, gifts from family member’s travels, and old fashioned brightly colored blubs. They used  silver tinsel and the large colored lights to decorate their tree. When I went to visit for New Years in 2011 their tall Christmas tree was placed right in the front window of their home.


So last year, being new to the area, we went to a lot near our home to buy a tree. The tree was a little expensive for it’s awkward shape. We decided to use LED colored large bulb lights similar to what Luke grew up with but no tinsel or garland.  My parents had given me all my Christmas ornaments collected over the years back in October when we had moved, Luke had his mailed out to us along with his manger scene from his parent’s home. To brighten the tree up we placed candy canes and paper snowflakes to fill in the empty spots.


Last year we also made ornaments for ourselves at Sparkle (see Sparkle) to place on the tree. We struggled to find a good metal angel to place on top, like the one I grew up with, so we settled on a metal star until we found an angel we liked.


This year after asking around we drove out to Emerald Evergreen Tree farm which is only fifteen minutes south of our home. We came dressed in snow gear and parked behind the barn, taking a map of the area we grabbed a tree cutting saw and went on a winter wonderland walk through the evergreens. It snowed about four to five inches this past weekend so all the trees had a pretty coat of white on them.


I was grateful for my snow boots as we trudged towards the Douglas Firs.  We shook a few trees off from snow to see if they were too yellow, too short, too full at the bottom, or too thin at the top. Then I saw one in the clearing near the train tracks. When we cleared it from snow I knew: this was our tree. Luke did most of the cutting but he insisted that I give it a try too.


Once we got the tree down we carried it back to the barn following the car routes. Halfway there a man waiting for his family to pick out a tree picked us up in his truck and drove us and our tree the rest of the way to the pay center.


We got the tree up on the car in a short time and tied it on. Luke went and paid for the tree coming back with hot cocoa. The cost: about the same as last year but this time with a much better tree and experience! When we got home we had to cut off a few extra branches and level out the bottom from the original cut we made then placed it in the stand.


This year we decided to place the tree in our front room so it can be seen from the street.


We have also added an ornament we bought on our anniversary trip to Niagara Falls (see Niagara Falls Anniversary Part 1; Niagara falls anniversary part 2).


The greatest surprise for this year though is that  my parents will be bringing the metal Angel tree topper I grew up with to hand it down to us!! When my mom asked if we would like it I was elated!! I could find nothing like it anywhere online or in stores and am grateful my parents are willing to let it go because we are beyond excited to have it! Until then we will keep the star on top.


So how does your family pick out and trim that perfect tree?

A lesson in Independence

I was anxious already about this past Wednesday, had trouble sleeping, I wasn’t looking forward to venturing out in the single digit temperature cold. I hated Luke’s work alarm as it went off and I put on my long johns under my jeans for the first day this winter.

Today I would take the initiative to accomplish goals that have been on the fridge list for the past two months: register my car, get a NY drivers license, get a new phone/phone plan, and then to Wegmans for my weekly trip to the grocery store. This may seem like normal life tasks. But for an introvert, who detests change or new challenges well, it creates stress. I knew I had to be independent, risk change and failure, and face new challenges head on.

And that is what I did. Just in a very different way then I expected.

After dropping Luke off at work, I got coffee and dolled up for my new license picture. Then I started my outings with the AT&T store.  After telling the salesman what I had rehearsed in my mind all morning he informed me that without Luke’s authorization as the person with the AT&T plan, I could not sign us up for a new contract.

Failure number one.

So I put gas in the CRV and turned to the 86 West toward the DMV. Suddenly I hear a deafening thumping sound, hollow it echoed through the car like a bad bass system. I could feel the car struggle to gain speed. Thinking quickly, I turned left instead of onto the freeway, cars passing me as I went half the speed limit. As I drove towards the Wegmans parking lot my mind ran through the million things that could be wrong with my car.

Listening to the sound I asked: Is it a belt? It doesn’t smoke or sound like the radiator when it cracked. Is it the transmission?, No, the RPM’s and all engine lights are normal. Is there a problem with the anti-freeze because it’s so cold? No, the engine shows normal temps. . .

I finally breathe a sigh as I park in a remote corner of the massive grocery store parking lot. As I get out of the car I prayed oh please let it be something easy to fix/something I can see, not some major internal problem. As I round the front of the car I see the front left tire is shredded to pieces and completely flat.

A flat tire:

I am relieved beyond belief. With anxiety gone, I call my parents (I know not very independent of me-remember baby steps) to double check I am still have AAA service. Once I had reassurance help was on the way, I left the cold car and put my ancient cell phone with a dead battery in my pocket, praying it would not die until AAA comes. Then I did the only thing I could do: I went grocery shopping. As I shopped I realized the time and recognized I wouldn’t make it to the DMV:

Failure number two

I trekked back out to the deserted corner of the parking lot, put the groceries away, and returned to the warmth of the Wegmans café. I ordered a raspberry tea (I know shocker, don’t worry coffee is still near and dear to my heart) and settled in the café to wait.

It didn’t take long for Mr. AAA man to call and come to my rescue. He had my spare tire on in minutes in spite of the snowy temp. of 9 degrees. Grateful I got back on the road and headed home.

As I left, I realized I wasn’t upset at myself for not accomplishing my big anxiety-producing goals. Instead I was proud of myself, for taking the initiative, thinking on my feet, and being independent. Once I realized the problem, I calmly jumped into action. I know it may seem insignificant to some. This is not a heroic feminist story of how in the freezing snow on the side of the highway I changed the flat with no assistance. But this is a story of risking change: learning how to deal with conflict and the unplanned on my own. And I think I it’s ok to be proud of the little things when you’re learning to transition to a new life so far from “home”.


my poor torn up tire


The raspberry tea that kept me company as I waited for AAA