Thursday, September 18, 2008

"They grow up so fast" -revisted

Years ago, (like 2-3), after encountering the umpteenth old lady who felt required to point out to me with my new baby(and then babies) that "they grow up so fast" (TGUSF), I muttered under my breath, "Really?!?". You see, at this point, I was most likely sleep deprived and struggling with the demands of new parenthood, like dirty bathrooms, messy house, running out of diapers, all the onesies are dirty, etc...I can clearly remember thinking, "Oh I don't know about that, it appears they will be using diapers, not sleeping past 5:30am and draining all the life energy from me for the next 20 years or so."
I firmly believed that it was in hindsight and hindsight only that one could look at their grown children and wonder in amazement, just where did all the time go?!? Now, almost 4 years to the day have gone by since we brought Baxter into the world and I think my time for TGUSF is almost here.
Baxter turns 4 tomorrow and he's jacked about it. A few weeks ago, he and his mother picked out his Spider Man cake pan and last night made the 1st of many (2? 3?) that will be baked this week. Today is the neighborhood playgroup gathering for all the new friends that we made once Baxter entered our lives. The neighborhood that we live in and all the wonderful people that we've grown closely to over the past 4 years are largely the result of Baxter's existence. Jennie's large belly announced to some neighbors what we were getting into and introduced us to other like-minded people and the rest is history.
Getting back the theme of this post---4 very short years ago, Baxter was gearing up for his race down the birth canal, becoming nothing but a wet blob of crying flesh who needed us for everything. Now, we've got a talking, negotiating opinionated human being. Just this past week, we were shocked with a glimpse of our future.

We have a family eating rule that you must try everything on your plate, which has worked out well for the adults too (Jennie, you know who you are). Last week, after being refreshed on the rule, Baxter said, "You know Dada, other kids don't have that rule."
"Well, this is our rule and we all will follow it."
"Well, when I have 'childs', I won't make them use that rule."
I remember thinking, "this isn't fair! I didn't think we would have to use the "in our house" statement for at least another 6-7 years?!?!" Maybe those old ladies were on to something....

After a brief but effective example by Jen, who pointed out the horrors of not knowing what food taste like without trying it, like the all-time fav cous-cous, Baxter was willing to buy into the food doctrine for at least another meal. I won't fool myself into think it'll always be this easy, but we'll take it today. Parents 1, Kids 0

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stormy Weather, cloudy brains

I opened the paper this past weekend to read about the unnecessary rescue operations under way in Houston and parts of Louisiana due to Hurricane Ike. I say unnecessary because for the past week, my friend and yours Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel, along with all his weather geek buddies and state officials from Texas have been begging people to take precaution and leave for safety prior to the hurricane reaching land with it's 100 mph winds, 20 ft walls of ocean water, etc.. And yet, rescue personal, many of whom maybe volunteering their time, are literally risking life and limb to bring several thousands of people to safety. One gem of a human being after being rescued stated,
"I would have stayed but the snakes were bothering me. I was willing to ride it out, with the man upstairs to protect me."

Whereas I ask, what if the man in question (presumed to be God) was up there wringing his hands in frustration over these people, who I feel required to point out again WERE RISKING THE LIVES OF THE RESCUE PERSONEL! So I picture God, stomping around in the clouds in his birkenstocks, muttering to himself,"I gave you brains, the ability to learn and discover, The Weather Channel and Doppler 2000 so that you could see these storms coming and run for the hills. But you decide to hunker down with a case of bottled water, nachoes and your poodle named Princess!

Jennie were discussing how we would react. We have some ambitious plans for renovations on our home someday and we decided we would go the opposite route. Open the windows and doors (no plywood or sandbags for us), hop in the minivan and take another road trip and pray for total destruction and fresh start for that master bedroom suite. Maybe head back down to NYC for more cupcakes!

Best wishes for the Texans rebuilding who were wise enough to leave.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eastern View Open House

After several years of stressful discussions, planning sessions and negotiations, our commercial building opened its doors for an open house a few weeks ago. It was a booming success, lots of people mingling through the hallways, talking to the practitioners, enjoying the food,music and face painting.

Jennie was the MC for the event and she introduced the health care providers and their individual practices to the attendees. She also introduced the keynote speaker, Joe Semmes, the director of a similar operation from Maine and the uncle of one of our partners. During her speech, Baxter walked up to her to get a few words in himself.
"Um, excuse me Momma." (laughter ensues)
Jennie whispering, "Yes Baxter?"
"I want to speak when you are done, ok?"
Apparently my face went to an extreme shade of red. Before you think I was embarrassed, I want to stress that this reaction was due to the potential words to come from him when it was his term on dais.

Jennie finished up by welcoming the keynote speaker to the stage. Dr Semmes, being a bit of a character himself, pointed out that Baxter was to get a turn 1st. Jennie bent down to Baxter with the microphone and he implored the audience to "eat lots of cake!" Which is great advice for the audience when your cake is 3 feet by 1 1/2 feet in size!

Much thanks to Suzanne and her mad cake skills. Check out

It wouldn't be a party without cake!

Mr Baxter goes to school

Baxter started at his preschool last week and is already comfortable with exerting his persuasion. He's going to The Children's School, a cooperative preschool that is a short 1 mile walk from our home, very significant in this $4/gal gas world we now live in. The cooperative school idea is similar to the "takes a village" approach to education. The parents have a responsibility of contributing time and ideas to make the place run efficiently and optimally. Seeing that Jennie has delivered at least 2 of the student body with a few more siblings on the way for future years, perhaps our contribution is complete. Well......not quite. I'm chairing the marketing/enrollment committee and one of the 1st perks of this gig is that I got to show the school in action to a prospective student and thus, spied on Baxter during his 1st day. Already, I could see the allure of teaching where your children attend school. I feel comfortable and safe with the staff and school, no question about it, but it was kind of nice being able to watch Baxter interact with his classmates and I took a little pride in seeing him cooperatively play with the other kids. Poor Paigey who can't go until next fall is already completely comfy at the school, as I have to drag her away from the play kitchen every morning and afternoon.

Baxter, being who he is, already is trying to exert some influence over his peers. I picked him up from school yesterday and as we were pulling away from the lot, he said he forgot to get the Beaver from school!! Normally, this kind of statement would seem weird but we got an orientation last week and had advance notice of this subject. The teachers supply the school with a class mascot of sorts, a stuffed animal to be in the classroom and can be signed out for overnight stays with the students.
After confirming that this was indeed a stuffed animal, I asked him if he signed it out for the night.
"Yeah, I think I did."
I pulled back up to the gate and asked the teachers for a ruling and they laughed at his attempt. Apparently, they introduced the Beaver to the class and explained how the sleepover would work but it was not ready yet. They also informed me that Baxter is trying to get the class to name it Baxter the Beaver.
Already, I think it's going to be a fun year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thursday morning we left on our last jaunt before the un-official end of summer. 9am, we were on our way to the wonderful state of New Jersey for Jennie's great-uncle Arthur's 90th birthday party. He's a dear friend of the family and we were all very excited for the trip. Arthur has recently moved into an assisted living home that has been a little hard on him (he refers to it as "his incarceration", to himself as "one of the inmates"). His mind is very sharp but he can't see, hear or walk very well and his family thought it would be best to have more supervision.
About 30 minutes prior to our 1st stop of the day, the kids decided they couldn't wait another second for some lunch, so Jennie maneuvered her very pregnant self through the van to get to our cooler for sandwich fixings. About the only item from our house that we forgot to pack was a knife, so she was forced to improvise with the handle of a plastic fork. The kids have gotten accustomed to having the crust off their sandwiches, even though I swore I would never do this, so it seemed fitting that I had to eat the crust off of 3 sandwiches (remember, no knife in the van). The positive side is that I wasn't hungry after my crust lunch.
We made one pit stop in Schuylerville, NY to drop off Cocoa and Ella at Jeremy, Stephanie and Emma's house, as they were dog sitting for the night. The kids were disappointed to not see Emma, but took it in stride as they played with her toys for 10 minutes before we hit the road again.
Back in the van, an few hours later, Baxter announced that he had to "pee badly". At this point in his potty training days, we don't really want to test his resiliency and thus, hopped off the thruway at the 1st chance. It wasn't a great spot and we needed to pay our toll ticket before finding a gas station. I hurried him, locked the door and sat him on the toilet. After 5 seconds, he said, "Hmmm, I guess I was just kidding." I went myself to make it worth the while.
Dinner was nice, saw most of the Neuhauser clan, including the Kentucky Neuhausers (I just love that name, it sounds like a country band from the 70's. And now, please join me in welcoming to the Grand Ol Opry Stage......the Kentucky Neuhausers!!!!!")

Arthur was not entirely surprised, although I'm sure he was pleased. His daughter broke the news of the gathering to him about a week prior to make sure it would be OK. As he told me later that night, "You surprise a 90 year old man with something like this, it might his last!"
Breakfast the next morning at a Perkins with a smaller gathering and then off to one of the highlights of the trip. A few days before the trip, I was thinking of ways to add value to a 800 mile journey to NJ and came up with a cupcake pit stop in NYC. There's a special place near the village called Magnolia's where they make delectable treats, and famously, cupcakes. These cupcakes, freshly made each day are topped with about 2 pounds of the richest frosting and should probably be considered a WMD with the artery busting butter and shortening that must be in each one. For those who don't know me that well, I'm practical and don't have much of a sweet tooth, so to trek into NYC on a Friday morning for cupcakes was a significant event. That and the fact that we had my parent's GPS unit and I wanted to test how easy it could make navigating the city on a weekday morning. Plus, it was an educational trip for the kids (look to the right, that's the statue of liberty. No time to stop, we've got cupcakes to buy!)
Drove into the Hudson Tunnel, double parked on Bleeker street so Jennie and Baxter could run in for the booty. Magnolia's limits each customer to 1 dozen( the absurdity, only a dozen?!), but Bax rightfully counted as 1 person and got his own dozen.

I ran in for my dozen after they came back, and then back out through the Lincoln Tunnel. Using a towel to keep the sugar sweats from interfering with my driving, we continued on to Star Lake!!

(Baxter waiting patiently for his frosting to be removed so he could eat the cake 'cause it's too sweet. Just like his dad!)
Actually, one more little interesting stop to pick up the dogs. We let them into the backyard to use the dog restroom one last time after arriving at my brother's house and loaded up their stuff. Only Cocoa came in from the backyard however and a search up and down the street commenced for Ella, who is.....shall we say challenged. She gets nervous, vomits almost daily and runs away from all males. After a few minutes, we located her down the street. I tried to get to her, but again, the maleaphobia kicked in and she took off like a 3-legged bat outta hell. Jennie, moving faster than recommended in her condition ran her down and grabbed her, only to recoil in horror. It seems that in the 2 minutes it took us to load the car, Ella vomited, took a rollin it and then embarrassed by her behavior, decided to follow the advice of the littlest hobo and run away. We hosed her down in the side yard after finding some dog shampoo in my my brother and sister-in-law's house. We couldn't find where they keep the dog towel stash though and not wanting to chance their good natured generosity by using good towels, toweled her off with 19 paper towels. Again, keep in mind that she is a special creature. Our next mission was driving as fast as possible so we could deliver her permanently to her mother who was in front of us about 20 miles.
Star Lake was as usual, awesome. Boating, swimming, hiking, camp fires with a neighbor musician providing free music at nights, etc. It was sad to leave knowing that our lake visits were finished for the year. Till next year, when we'll be a family of five and stretching the space limitations of the little cabin even more, bye beautiful little lake!