Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our little...toddler?

Seems just yesterday that I posted about Cassandra staring to crawl, but now she is toddling about like a drunken sailor. (An adorable, soft, sweet-smelling drunken sailor.) Crawling is still her main mode of locomotion, but not for too much longer. Sigh. They grow up so fast.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hanging up the flanges

I have been counting the months down until Cass would be one year old and I could retire my Medela pump-in-style (photo above). (At one year old she is old enough to have cow's milk.) Seriously. I remember starting to count down when she was about five months. I have used this pump for two children, ensuring that they both had breast milk through at least the first year of their lives. Brad's math estimates a total of 17 gallons for Cassandra alone. I am proud of this (which says a lot as I don't say that often when it comes to myself.) There is no judgement here if you chose to do something different or if you were not able to nurse and/or pump. I was lucky in that I have a private office where I could close the door, strap on my hands-free pumping band, and pump away.

When I stop pumping, I will find a whole lot of time. No more having to prep and wash flanges and bottles. No more scheduling meetings around pumping schedules or sneaking away to the bathroom at an off-site meeting to find a private place to pump.

But, now that the time is here to hang up the flanges, I have mixed feelings. Believe me, pumping is no fun. But, my ambivalence has something to do with my baby getting older and physically needing me less and less. About being done nursing forever. Granted, we're not done nursing yet and I hope to leave that totally up to Cass, but stopping pumping is a lot closer to stopping nursing than it is to having a newborn who needs you and only you for her physical nourishment.

I realize this is a 'family' blog of sorts and all this talk of breasts and nursing might make some of my five readers uncomfortable. (Hi Dad!) But, I've honestly become a bit of a zealot over the years about how nursing is one of the most natural (and best) things we can do for our children and it drives me nuts that just talking about it taboo.

And just for fun -- the photo below. It doesn't look a thing like me. I have eighteen different bags that I take to work, one of which is the pump. The others include my lunch, my briefcase, my purse, etc. etc. Also I'm not blond and usually not that happy-looking either....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A visit to the ENT

We took Cassandra to the ENT to see if she is candidate for ear tubes. (With about seven separate infections in the last six months...she qualifies.) Unbeknownst to us, she actually had an infection at the time of the visit, so we left with prescription in hand.

Zander had the tubes put in when he was 11 months old. (I worried about the surgery for the removal of a stuck tube here, here, and posted photos after the procedure here.)

I'm much less stressed about all of this the 2nd time around, but of course that could will change. Anyway, ain't she cute? She just loved spinning in the big chair.

Funny or disturbing (or both)?

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Alive!

Here's the scene: It's after dinner and I'm hurriedly cleaning up before going upstairs to nurse Cassandra when the doorbell rings. It was a strange time for a visitor (for us at least). Zander even said, "Who could that be?" So, we went to answer the door.

When I opened it I said, "Oh, it's just a package." I could see the UPS delivery truck pulling out from the bottom of the driveway. Clearly Zander didn't see the truck though because he said, "But HOW did it ring the bell?"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 'Blizzard' of December 2009

So, we're currently in the middle of a blizzard here. And while I understand we are using the term 'blizzard' because there is a possibility of up to two feet of snow, somehow I always pictured high winds and struggling to walk as part of a blizzard. But, what do I know...I spend the majority of my formative years in humid sunny South Florida.

Granted, I might *not* be saying this tomorrow on day two of being cooped up in the house, but so far it's been pretty darn cool. There's something totally awesome (like really like I mean it) about alleviating the pressure to go anywhere and DO anything. Instead we've had a wondefully leisurely day enjoying each other, playing games, sledding, napping, and so forth.

Here's a picture of the deck when the snow was apparently about 1/3 of the way done:

Some sledding. Cass was a champ -- she loved it. Zander got cold fairly quickly.

Post snow red faces:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hanukkah 2009 or Meet "Red Fire"

Meet "Red Fire," Zander's big Hanukkah present this year:

Its name comes from a decal of the same.

And although we wrapped up a few of Z's old toys for Cassandra, mostly she loved the wrapping paper itself. Children are so easy at her age when it comes to presents. Truly, she doesn't need toys.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ghost Town at Sundown

This is the first chapter book that Zander read by himself, cover to cover. (He's listened to a few of the Magic Tree House series on CD before and regularly checks out the books during trips to the school library, but this was the first one he completed on his own.)

Wondering whether he was really comprehending it, I would casually ask him questions about the story. He told me all about a piano that played by itself, a cowboy named Slim, and a song named "Red River Valley." I was amazed for sure. He was so proud of himself for finishing it though -- came running up to me when I picked him up from after-school care to tell me had read "all ten chapters!"

I feel somewhat strange posting this here, as believe it or not, we I try not to brag on the children too much. But, I wanted to commemorate this milestone.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fastest Year of My Life

My sweet baby turned a year old on Friday. I can't believe it. Everyone always said it would go fast, and it has. Fastest year of my life.

I was all set to update -- for the record -- how her sleep has improved (since I complained about it so much here). Alas, the last few nights have been pretty bad on that front though. She took a few wobbly steps yesterday and often developmental milestones can disrupt sleep. So we're hoping that is part of this recent wake-up every few hours phenomenon. In addition, she's working on some new chompers and continues to struggle with the endless runny nose -> ear infection cycle. Poor thing has so much snot. We've got an appointment with the ENT to decide if ear tubes are in her future.

In other news, this phase of baby-dom is pretty darn cute. Ask her to dance and she lifts her arms, waves them back and forth, and shakes her body side to side. Ask her to say Zander and she distinctly says, "Zzzzzzzzzzzz." Ask her to put her Taggies blanket in the crib and she drops it right in.

Ask her to say "Mama" and she still distinctly says "Dada."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Family Resemblance, Part II

In my office I have lots of photos of Zander and Cassandra. For reasons I'm not entirely sure, I also have a baby picture of me on the cork board. (I'm thinking maybe we had one of those "guess-which-baby-is-which-staff-person" games or something.) Anyway, my mom is visiting and noticed a resemblance between me as a baby and Cassandra...

I'm on the left or on top, depending upon how your monitor is displaying the photos.

I wanted to cheer. In fact, I think I did. *Everyone* says the children look like Brad. Once -- after meeting Zander -- someone in my office said, "He must look like your husband because he doesn't look a thing like you!" But as these photos show, there is some of me in there too!

P.S. Family resemblance, part I is here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Triple Threat Treat

For reasons that are too long to explain, Cassandra and I ended up staying in Northern Virginia this Thanksgiving while the rest of the family went to Annapolis and Rehoboth, DE. As a result, I got lots of good video of Cass. When I downloaded the video from the camera, I created a file called "Cass being Cass," which seems to fit these.

This first one is my personal favorite as is shows her meticulously opening a desk drawer in our office. Just when we think we've baby-proofed enough...

Toward the end of this clip, Cassandra does the baby sign version of "help" (patting her hand against her chest). Although she knows some signs, for the most part she does them when we say the word, as opposed to pro-actively (if that makes any sense).

In this last extreme close-up video, I turned the view screen around so she could see herself and she was fascinated.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I never thought I’d be like this. Well, that’s not true. Either way -- here I am -- scrutinizing the work my child brings home from school. Part of it is that Zander was able to do so many truly rich, open-ended projects at his small, somewhat alternative preschool and I'm snooty about the one-dimensional and traditional work he brings home from kindergarten. Another part is my background in women’s issues, which trained me to look closely at cultural messages. And still another part is living IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

Anyway, Zander came home with this 'cut-and-glue' project the day before before Thanksgiving:

Let’s take a closer look at the pictures, shall we?

First, the smiling Native American woman (I assume she is Native American because of the feather in her hair) who appears just thrilled to be harvesting something for the a white pilgrim's Thanksgiving? Alternatively, she might be a pilgrim who is just wearing a feather in her hair. Come to think of it, that must be it since Native Americans didn't celebrate Thanksgiving.

Here's what really throws me though...the woman in the "Thanksgiving Today" frame is clearly the same woman (sans feather)!

Next, let's look at the frame of the men and boy sitting in front of the TV presumably watching football also in "Thanksgiving Today." Hello? Stereotype much? Maybe they're actually watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

And while I'm at it, who sets the table with the knife on the left and the fork on the right? Heathens!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rum Tum Tum

Zander's kindergarten class had a Thanksgiving show today. He was an Indian. (I was a bit surprised that they were called "Indians" instead of Native Americans, but apparently this same show has been done for twenty or so years. That fact doesn't make it okay, but it's just not my battle to fight.)

Nonetheless, here are our highlights...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

From the desk of...The Tooth Fairy

Not entirely sure how this came about, but Zander seemed to think that he would get a note from the tooth fairy along with some money. (Prior to when the tooth fell out I asked him how much money he thought the tooth fairy would leave and he said "maybe $100 or something." I quickly adjusted his expectations.)

Anyway, this is the note we left (with $1):

It was signed "The Tooth Fairy," but that got cut off when I converted it for posting here.

Regardless, below is the note I wanted to leave. (Double click on it if it's too small to read.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big News!

Today, Senate Democrats unveiled sweeping health care reform legislation that would expand insurance coverage to millions of Americans and potentially cost $849 billion over ten years.

And also, Zander lost his first tooth...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tell and Show

No, you read that correctly. What we knew to be "Show and Tell" growing up has now morphed into "Tell and Show." It's a good idea really. The child is supposed to come up with three clues about his or her chosen "Tell and Show" item and then relay those clues to the class. The class then tries to guess the item.

We've always left it up to Zander to decide what he would bring, hard as this might be for an over-involved parent such as myself. My stomach dropped when -- for his first "Tell and Show" -- he brought his Taggies blanket. (Would they call him a baby?) But that seemed to go just fine. Other "Tell and Show" items have included: favorite books, a NASA postcard from an astronaut-themed birthday party goody bag, and a mini-torah.

When I ask how it went, he usually proudly says he "stumped the kindergartners." (I'm sure that phrase came from the teacher.) Problem is, I think he thinks the goal is to stump the kindergartners. How I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that class sometimes.

Friday, November 13, 2009


We are really trying hard not to pigeonhole Cassandra . I believe that children will often rise to even unspoken expectations and if we feel that she is the child who will be a "handful," then indeed, she will turn out to be so.

Yet as mentioned once before, she is so different from how Zander was at this age. It seems that she is "into everything" and needs constant supervision. She will bee-line to the one item in a room that is not baby safe. Her latest stage is crying real tears if we take something away from her, say a plug or other item equally unsafe. Her behavior is totally age-appropriate though and we know that.

So, I prefer to think of her as an intrepid and detail-oriented explorer who is hungry for new things and physical challenges. Has a more positive spin, yes?

We were not entirely surprised, however, when her daycare providers (who apparently are not trying as hard as we are not to pigeonhole her) were printing out photos and captions for decorations and gave us this extra one to take home:

Not sure if you can tell from the photo, but she has climbed up onto the table, apparently to get to another child's food.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What will you bring to shabbat dinner?

Got an e-mail with the subject line "cute story" from Zander's religious school teacher the other day. (Still can't believe they call it that.) Anyway, here is the story:

Just wanted to share with you that Zander said the cutest thing today in class. We played a game "I am going to Shabbat dinner and I will bring...."

The other kids said things like chicken, pie, etc. and Zander said he would bring love.

In my response I did NOT say, "Did you ask if he knew what shabbat dinner was?" as I didn't think she'd appreciate that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mr. Pinata Head

Brad attended the Halloween parade and party at Zander's school. Somehow after the festivities, he ended up wearing the pinata as a hat. Somehow the children started referring to him as "Mr. Pinata Head." Somehow after volunteering at both the library and computer lab, the children in the class have come to know me as "wife of Mr. Pinata Head." Nice.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Brad here. This new word is best defined with a brief story:

Brad: "So I have a theory about why the....blah...blah...blah.... Well, do you agree with my theory?"

Zander [slightly sarcastic]: "Daddy, you mean your hypothesis."

Brad [trying not to sound too amazed that he knew the difference between a theory and a hypothesis]: "Wow, you're right. Where did you learn that?"

Zander: "The dinosaur website I have been going to."

I was schooled by a 5 year old. I'm so proud!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shrek and Fiona

Halloween was so last week, I know. But, I thought this too good not to share.

We have these friends who go all out every Halloween. I'm talking about spending weeks creating costumes from scratch and then competing in multiple competitions. They came over to our house before one such competition on Friday night:

Not shown:
  • the stilts that Shrek walked on;
  • older child who was the dragon; and
  • younger child who was the prince.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Requisite (but Cute!) Halloween Post

Cassandra's costume was made by my sister-in-law Erin. (Same sister-in-law who made this.) The costume has been worn by both my nephews (Ben and Nathan), Zander, cousin Zoe, and now Cassandra.

Here's a short clip of Cass crawling skunking around the office complex where she is in daycare and where Brad works:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Minor in the grand scheme of things, but sticking with me nonetheless

This is so minor in the grand scheme of things, but I don't feel like I'm going to get over it quickly: Cassandra burned her hand yesterday. I was cooking reheating in the kitchen at the time.

A few weeks ago we checked to be sure that the oven door didn't get hot in case she was playing in there during just such an occasion. But, we failed to check the recessed inch between the oven door and the drawer under the oven where little Cassandra chose to stick her hand.

She screamed and I went right over to her, thinking at first that her hand was stuck (and also maybe getting burned). By the time I got her up, I couldn't figure out which hand it was and whether or not she was crying because it had been stuck or because it was burned. So, I ran both under cold water and tried to soothe her. She calmed down pretty quickly, but continued to cry. Two of her tiny, sweet fingers developed blisters soon after -- 2nd degree burns. Do you know how painful those kinds of burns are?!

She is so much more active than Zander was at this age. I've been meaning to write a post about their differences just because it's so interesting. At 10.5 months, Cassandra has crawled up the stairs many times -- Zander didn't even know we had stairs at that age. I know part of this is a function of how different we are with Cassandra, but part of it is also her personality and that she is the 2nd child.

Anyway, as I said, in the grand scheme of things, this burn is nothing. Her fingers will be fine in a few weeks and we will forget about it. Mostly I feel like an idiot letting her crawl around in the kitchen at all and I can't shake how much worse it could have been.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Mud Pit

As mentioned a million times before, Zander attended an nature-based preschool called Discovery Woods. He still goes there on "early release" Mondays when his elementary school closes at noon(ish). The photos below were taken last Sunday at an expansion site of the preschool while we were attending a family gathering.




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New meaning to the phrase "puddle jumping"

Here is Zander making the most of a rainy Saturday. It started out as puddle jumping and soon became puddle splashing and then developed into puddle get-as-wet-as-I-can-ing.

As I said, this was Saturday. Sunday was the mud pit. Photos tomorrow...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting around town

Remember what I said about the "uh oh" clip yesterday*? Well, this one is even less exciting to general audiences if you can believe that. We, on the other hand, are quite taken with little Cassandra as if she is the first baby to ever use a walker-type device to get around town.

* Video taken same day though. (Cute outfit is a handy-down compliments of cousin California cousin Zoe, from whom Cassandra gets most of her hip, high-end duds.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Uh oh!

I guarantee that we are much more entertained by this than you will be (unless maybe you are a grandparent, but even then...).

In related news, unless you count "uh oh," we're pretty sure that Cassandra's first word is "daddy," said as "da da." This was Zander's first word too, of course.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bonked heads, Fire Drills, and Lock Downs

When I picked up Zander from school on the day before yesterday, he was holding some ice to his forehead and looking forelorn. The after-care teacher said he was having a rough day. Apparently, he fell twice and hit his head both times. Zander recounted the incidents to me and said he was "...a little cranky because he hadn't been feeling that well since September or maybe even August." I did my best not to laugh.

In other Zander news, he has had a few fire drills at school and even a "lock down," all of which seem to be freaking him out a bit. (This is understandable in my book -- fires and lock downs freak me out too.) We assure him that we'll keep him safe, but he asks good follow-up questions: "What if we don't smell the smoke and the alarm doesn't work?" "Can we get sprinklers in the house?""What if all the firefighters are busy with other fires?" "What if the whole street is on fire?"What if all of Virginia is on fire?" (Okay, so maybe not all of them are good questions.)

I do my best to honestly answer his questions, but this is part of parenting that just stumps me. If *I* spend too much time thinking about all the things that can happen to my family and friends, I'm right where he is. It's no wonder that fire safety/awareness is often introduced by benign and cute little cartoon characters...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old Fashioned Fun (as in 16th century old fashioned)

Brad and Zander (and the folks over at 4M and WPW Superhero) went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival on Saturday. (Martyr that I am, I stayed home with Cassandra in a continued effort to get her to to nap routinely.) Seems I missed quite day.

On the climbing wall...

Riding a pony...

On stage as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet...

(Apparently, soon after the photo above was taken, he ran off stage.)

P.S. Last year I went to the festival.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who knew 'religious school' would lead to all this religion?

Zander started 'religious school' a few weeks ago. And, well, it's rather...religious.

On Friday night, the kindergartners and 1st graders enrolled in said religious school had a consecration ceremony to mark the beginning of their formal Jewish education. Being new members of the synagogue, we didn't really know what to expect. Zander somehow ended up on the bema (stage) with the Jewish equivalent of a children's choir. He seemed to know the songs and did just fine. (Still doesn't know he wasn't supposed to be up there, so don't go spilling the beans if you see him.) Later on, all of the children received their own mini Torahs to take home, along with a flag in honor of Simchat Torah. Like I said, it was all very religious. Guess we should have expected that since it was at a synagogue and all. Anyway, below is a photo taken before the service.

We couldn't take pictures during the consecration itself since it took place in the sanctuary and others were busy workshiping. (Said in a Homer Simpson how-could-they-be-doing-such-a-thing voice.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hanging with her new crew

Brad took this picture today of Cassandra (in front in the blue pants and pink jacket) while she was out on a stroll with the other infants from the Kissing Fish room. (Cassandra's daycare is onsite at Brad's office, so he sends me photos of her often.)

All that is well and good, but I wonder if she was offended that no one wanted to sit next to her?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apparently, we haven't baby-proofed quite enough

I wanted to get some cute video of Cassandra doing new tricks, but it quickly became clear that we have not baby-proofed enough. (See video below.) FYI, the plant that gets tipped over is fake.

Monday, October 5, 2009


No, that is not a typo in the title. Zander calls hand-me-downs "handy downs." And there are kind of handy in fact.

Cassandra at almost 10 months:

Zander at seven months in the same outfit (with the pants rolled up):