Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012

We had quite a full Christmas season this year. We started out the month by having a college friend of mine and her family over for dinner. Not exactly Christmas-related, but it happened this month. Ryan and I went to a potluck/white elephant party by ourselves early in the month (a white elephant where you could come home with more than one gift each; thankfully we ended up with a couple of desirable items in addition to the three or four less desirable items). The next weekend we went to another white elephant party (at which we gave away items from our earlier party) put on by the family we usually walk to school with. Then the weekend before Christmas we had a brunch with some good friends. We did this brunch last year as well and are thinking we will make a yearly thing out of it. We ended the month by having dinner with a family who lived in the same house as us during our internship here. It may not sound like much to an extrovert, but for our usual non-social selves this made for an extremely busy calendar.

Our Christmas was excellent this year - pretty much everything I think Christmas should be about. Christmas to me has always been about baking, decorating, listening to Christmas music, watching movies, giving presents -  and generally doing all of this as a family. I think we succeeded in creating some great memories for Gareth, which was our primary goal this year. Though he was pretty excited about Santa and presents, he was a bit confused about some of the details of how Christmas goes in our house, probably because we haven't had Christmas in our house since he was 2, and partly because we're still working some of that out ourselves.

Christmas in Seattle was rainy, which means that it stayed dark in our house even later than usual (usual being about 7:45 am). Because it was nice and dark, it was something like 8 or 8:30 before Gareth and Malcolm woke up. We'd made a makeshift gate out of the playpen to keep Gareth from running out to the living room too soon, but he did an excellent job of remembering the rules we'd talked to him about the day before so I'm not sure the playpen gate was entirely necessary. Gareth for once got dressed without whining about how unjust the world is and then he and Malcolm patiently waited in our room for Ryan and I to get showered and dressed. About 9:30 we were finally all ready to head out and see what Santa had brought.
Gareth waiting excitedly to head out to the tree

Malcolm waiting indifferently to head out to the tree

Gareth was awed by the piano keyboard that Santa left and we spent a few minutes playing around with that. Then he and Malcolm opened their stockings and Gareth was very excited to find a bell for his bike, something he's been wanting since he got the bike in April. He was also very excited about the Mario fruit snacks he found (we never buy fruit snacks and he'd been begging for these for weeks, so they were a pretty special treat to find in his stocking). Malcolm was more than happy to chew on the sippy cup found in his stocking. He was less than impressed with the puff cereal things, though they've grown on him since.

We opened one more gift - a recording device with a message on it telling Gareth to go to the basement where he got to check out a new video game - before taking a break for our traditional breakfast of blueberry bake, grapefruit and bacon. Gareth has been making "recordements" of himself reading every day since - and even in the middle of the night, something which I made sure to put a quick end to the next morning.
Excited to open a gift - which turned out to be Legos

Gareth was totally on board with taking turns opening presents as he usually wanted to open up and check out each item before moving on. We let him hand out presents with not too much direction from us, and he did quite well at making sure everyone was getting a turn.

Malcolm was happy about the wrapping paper, and sad that we didn't let him swallow any of it.

This is the first year I had Gareth come up with a gift for Ryan. I was torn for a bit about whether to let him go with his own idea if he had one or to direct him toward items that I knew Ryan would definitely want. In the end, I decided to let him go with his idea since he did have one and I thought it'd be more exciting for him if the gift was something he came up with himself. He and Ryan had been playing a video game called Bastion, so Gareth decided he wanted to draw a Bastion picture for Ryan. I offered to get a frame to put it in:

Ryan gets pretty excited about beef jerky - I was happy to help him eat it.

We finished up our presents and stockings in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing with new toys. I realized a couple of weeks before Christmas that this is the first Christmas where Ryan and I have worked together on the prep for this holiday. Up until now we've either gone to family for Christmas (and therefore haven't had much to do) or Ryan's been in school up until the last minute, leaving me to do most of the preparations. It's definitely more fun to do it together.

Our tree managed to make it through Christmas, and even through New Year's Eve, though it's getting quite dry. Gareth is very sad about having to take it down and has asked how long it is until it's December again. Ryan and I take this as a good indication that he enjoyed the season and will be excited for it to come around again next year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Prep 2012

Well, we're quite ready for Christmas around here. Gareth is having a hard time leaving the few presents already under the tree alone and he's asked twice if he could open a present of Malcolm's right now - even though he knows they presents under the tree aren't for opening until Christmas and that that particular present is not his. So, yeah, we've got some excitement going around here.

We've spent a couple Christmases on our own in Indiana, but the last of those was three years ago, so Gareth's only memories of Christmas are at extended family. Ryan and I have been trying to find ways to make it memorable and fun for him/decide what traditions and such we'd like to have in our family.

We started out with Christmas music on December 1. Ryan refuses to play it before then, and I'm not as adamant either way, so that's what we go with. He, apparently, has always started us off with Carol of the Bells. After finding our pathetically small assortment of household Christmas decor, Gareth helped us select the perfect spots for each item. Then on December 2nd we headed east in search of a tree. We tried a tree farm in Carnation that had been recommended to us. It was okay, but I'm thinking we'll look somewhere else next year. We like our trees to be nice and full and it seemed most of the trees were rather spindly and sad-looking. Eventually we wound our way over to the Grand Firs, which were more full and of which they had more tagged for sale than the other varieties we'd looked at. So we did end up with a nice tree, I just wasn't terribly impressed by the selection.

We brought it home and set to work getting it in the stand and freed from it's wrapping:

Gareth was a little nervous about the branches breaking free and whacking him in the face, but he had fun clipping open the netting. Even Malcolm was excited about the new addition to our living room decor:

It took us a few days to get the decorating done because Ryan had a presentation to prep for work and I had rehearsal, but we eventually got around to it. My mom sends us twenty-four small gifts (cookies, dried herbs from her garden, things like that) each year and that's what's up on the mantle. The stocking clips are new and I'm rather excited about how well they work. I like their simplicity and the fact that my kids won't get knocked on the head by a large weighted stocking holder should they choose to pull on the stockings (hasn't been a problem yet, but might be next year when Malcolm's walking). As you can see, I need to make a stocking for Malcolm still - that's in the queue, hopefully to be completed by next Christmas.

We've included Gareth in more of our movie-watching this year. We started with Polar Express because Gareth loves it so much. Then on to Holiday Inn (really not a Christmas movie, is it? I was wondering this year why it's always thought of as one). Ryan and I watched A Christmas Story on our own, since neither of us had seen it before. Then we watched White Christmas (okay movie, not one of my favorites, but some funny parts). Last night we let Gareth stay up way late and watched Nightmare Before Christmas, which he really enjoyed. I remember being a little weirded out by it as a kid, but I am not entirely sure why after watching it again last night. Today we watched the 1955 Miracle on 34th Street - another one that's kinda meh. But we'll watch A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version) on Christmas Eve and we've still got It's a Wonderful Life here at home, so we've got at least a couple more excellent ones to go. We're also planning on leaving Malcolm with some friends (a huge deal, as he'll cry the entire time) in order to take Gareth to his first movie in a theatre.

And we can't forget the holiday grapefruit. It actually arrived over a week ago, but we're holding out on digging into it to make sure we still have some left for Christmas morning breakfast. On the baking front, Gareth helped us make some fudge. I was planning to include him in making the gingerbread cookies, but that didn't happen (though I need to make another batch since they're addicting and I've consumed most of what was made earlier, so maybe I'll get him in on that round). And we tried some toffee tonight, our first Seattle toffee attempt. We'll see how that turned out come morning. So, there you have it, what we've been busy with the past few weeks. And here we all are, attempting a family photo with the self-timer:

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I introduced Gareth to the wonder of the pomegranate today:

He fell in love instantly and kept eating them while taking them out, which was fine since there are plenty. He stuck it out through the entire pomegranate and his hands, arms and entire face were covered in pomegranate juice specks and splotches by the time we were done. Despite loving them greatly, he struggles to remember what they're called. All while we were removing the arils he kept calling them polygrams. But by the time dinner rolled around they'd turned into garbanzo seeds.

I've never actually used pomegranate in a recipe before. Except that one time some friends and I tried to make a pomegranate pie our freshman year of college (it was a little crunchy). But typically I just remove the arils and snack on them. Today we used them to make this:

It may not look it in the bad lighting of the picture here, but this is probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing dishes I've ever made. If you want a salad that will look stunning, this is the one to go with. Spinach, black quinoa (hard to find, but I got lucky and a store nearby just started carrying it in their bulk section in the last week or two), pomegranate arils, toasted almonds, red onion and feta cheese. The dressing is a basic red wine vinaigrette. I was very pleased when it tasted as delicious as it looks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hair Update/8 Months

Here's what Ryan's hair is looking like these days:

Okay, so I was taking blurry pictures that night for some reason, but you can still get the idea. If the baseball cap were off, you'd see that the front is starting to be annoying and get into his eyes a lot. It's curlier than he'd like, so Ryan often complains about how horrid it looks at the moment. Still holding out hope that it'll straighten a bit as it gets longer and weightier.

I haven't had a chance to take a shot of Gareth recently. I'm still thinking of taking him to get it trimmed/evened up a bit, because I think it'd look less ratty if the sides were a bit closer to the same length as the back. Maybe we'll work on that over winter break.

Here's Malcolm at 8 months:

This is the first time I felt comfortable enough to leave him sitting on his own for a bit (long enough to grab the camera and take a picture). Up until just a few days ago he was a pretty wobbly sitter, falling over at the first sight of anything he wanted to grab (so, pretty much instantaneously). But since I took this picture his sitting skills have improved considerably to where he'll stay sitting for several minutes at a time.

No crawling yet, I think partly because of our wood floors. It's really hard to keep your knees under you when the floor is so slippery! Plus, because of the slick floor he can move quite quickly with his army crawl/scoot movement.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Malcolm at 7 months

Malcolm is continuing his foray into the world of solid foods. He's tried banana, avocado, carrots, rice cereal, squash and applesauce. The favorite so far is acorn squash. I made up and froze some squash, carrots and peas the other day. I also finally got around to making up some applesauce from the apples on our tree. Malcolm was okay with that, but it wasn't the hit that the squash was. I've got some pears to make up and am hoping to do some sweet potato soon as well.

His favorite thing to say would be "da" or "uh-da". Sometimes a "gah" gets thrown in there and the other day we even got a "bur", but most often we hear "da".

He's started banging on things (table, books, whatever) and watches fascinated when Ryan starts drumming on the table or other surfaces. (Gareth and I usually don't notice Ryan doing this; it's just part of the background of our lives. I'm interested to see when Malcolm stops noticing as well.) He also drops toys and seems interested in the noise they make when dropped, but we aren't quite to the point where he thinks it's a fun game yet.

Since Malcolm's growing quickly and Gareth not-so-quickly, Malcolm usually has a worried expression on his face these days if Gareth tries to hold him.
This kid is amazing in the car. It's rare for him to cry. Of course, when Gareth is along for the ride he's very helpful at keeping Malcolm entertained. But even if we're on our own, Malcolm usually hangs out back there so quietly you forget he's there. And he always greets you with the cutest, crinkle-nosed smile when you come to get him out of the car. It probably helps that we're not often in the car though. We walk Gareth to and from school and otherwise don't have much reason to be in the car.

Malcolm is quite the little traveller these days. He manages to roll and inchworm along and cannot be left on his own for long if you want him to stay out of trouble. He's pushing up on his forearms and knees and rocking back and forth, so he'll likely be crawling soon. Sitting is not there yet, though he does well in the high chair and other well-supported scenarios.

He will smile at just about anyone, but has started to hit the separation anxiety stage. It is rare that he'll go to a non-family member for more than a couple minutes. Unlike Gareth at this age, he will still go to Ryan without screaming, at least for a little bit.

Sleeping is hit and miss. I know he can sleep through the night, but it feels like it's not often that he will. He was doing quite well for a while, until those two bottom teeth came in and ever since he wakes up more often than not. I'm grateful when it's only once a night rather than twice. Then there are the nights where he would sleep through, but Gareth wakes up and is incapable of doing anything quietly and ends up waking up Malcolm.

We're getting closer to getting a laugh out of him. Sometimes he squeals. And he's started doing this rather funny thing where he'll smile really big, scrunch up his nose, and breathe in and out really loudly when he's amused by something. So I'm feeling more confident that he'll figure the laughing thing out eventually.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

Our Halloween was a bit lame this year. Ryan was on-call, so he was stuck at the house where he'd have access to work. And I had an orchestra rehearsal. Having an infant around and adding in the other happenings earlier in the month left no time for cool costume making. We didn't even get our traditional honey popcorn made.

About a week ago I broke down and went out to purchase a cheap costume. Cheap in quality it certainly is, but it wasn't cheap in cost. Thirty bucks for a crappy Spiderman costume that was fraying right out of the package and where the hood/mask thing didn't even fit Gareth's head. I'd put a picture here, but we never did have a chance to take one.

Thankfully Gareth's class took a field trip to Remlinger Farms and they each got a pumpkin. Gareth picked out a good size one and that turned out to be the only pumpkin we got this year. I did manage to snap a picture of our jack-o-lantern on the way out the door Wednesday night.

If it looks like it was designed by a five year old that's because it was. I did the carving (for which my wrist still hasn't forgiven me), but the design is all Gareth. Ryan advised me on the mouth, helping me get it as close to what Gareth drew as we could. The mouth was particularly difficult as we don't have great pumpkin-carving tools. Something we're going to have to work on for future years.

Gareth's class had a party and a parade around the school. We came home, Malcolm and I took a nap, and then we ate some dinner before dropping Gareth off at a friend's house to go trick-or-treating. He had just made it into bed when I got home just before 10 pm from rehearsal. It sounded like he had a great time, despite the light rain and the less than stellar costume, and he came home with a full bag of candy. So, as far as he's concerned, Halloween was a huge success.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seattle Mormon Stories Conference

A few months ago I posted about an opportunity to lead the organizing of a conference. That conference happened this past weekend. For those who don't know about it, Mormon Stories started out as a podcast. The idea is basically to tell various people's stories that involve Mormonism. If you check out their podcasts you'll see a wide variety of perspectives, beliefs, and experiences, because people from all areas of Mormonism have stories that are interesting, worthwhile, and important. The first MS podcast I ever listened to was the Danzig's story, which is moving and heartbreaking. (Parts of their story unfolded while I was at BYU, and I remember hearing whispers of it in the hallways of the HFAC, but I had no idea who they were or what had really happened, so it was great to hear their perspective on everything.) John Dehlin, and now the others who work with him on the podcast, have done some amazing interviews with Richard Bushman, Carol Lynn Pearson, Terryl Givens, Daniel Peterson, ex-Mormons, believing Mormons, pretty much any kind of Mormon there is. There are so many that I've loved. If I had to pick some favorites other than the Danzig's, it'd probably be Daymon Smith talking about the history of correlation (I cannot say enough how fascinating this topic is) and Lisa Butterworth, who started the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Mormon Stories tries to create a space where all types of Mormons can feel welcome and at some point some regional communities came into being. The Seattle one is pretty low-key. Occasionally there's a potluck type gathering and people will come together to discuss their stories, where they're at, difficult aspects of Mormon history, doctrine, or culture as well as what they enjoy about all those. Just after Ryan and I moved to Seattle, some of the regional groups started having conferences. Since we have a lot of people in the MS Seattle region, but not a lot of people willing to organize big events, it took a while to get us going on a conference. But John Dehlin was going to be in Seattle anyway this past weekend to keynote at the Affirmation conference, so we decided we'd better do what we'd been talking about for a while and actually get a conference put together.

Since they'd done several conferences already the task was much easier than if we'd been one of the earlier ones. The MS organization had figured out what usually worked well and what often didn't, so we had some templates to work off of. One thing those of us organizing learned: book the venue first. We, for some reason, didn't start thinking about venue seriously until a couple months before the conference. And, of course, lots of venues are too expensive and lots are booked more than two months out. So that ended up being a bit stressful, but thankfully members of the community stepped up and helped us find a place.

A few other hiccups happened along the way. Mormon Stories decided that our conference would be the last one sponsored by Mormon Stories/Open Stories Foundation. This meant we got caught up in the transition a bit, which halted planning for a week or so. In the end, John Dehlin wasn't able to make it to the conference and one of our other well-known speakers, Maxine Hanks (of the September Six, recently re-joined the LDS church) ended up experiencing some health issues and had to back out the day before. A couple other bumps the day before the conference made things a bit more stressful than I would have liked, but it all got smoothed out in time.

Friday night I left Ryan with the kids and headed off with some other ex-mormon friends of ours to go to the pre-conference social. We enjoyed socializing for a bit and then I headed back home with another friend. Saturday was the crazy busy day. We packed the kids and snacks for between sessions as well as my clarinet and stand into the car. Ryan dropped me and Malcolm off at the venue. He took Gareth with him to his drum set lesson. Malcolm, surprisingly, was willing to be held by a complete stranger (one of the fellow organizer's wives) for about an hour. This covered some set-up time and the beginning of the first session, which I was conducting.

The first session speakers were Kristine Haglund, who blogs at BCC, and Brent Metcalfe, who edited New Approaches to the Book of Mormon. They provided a nice balance for one another, both shared parts of their stories, and were enjoyable to listen to. One of the local community members provided a musical number and we sang "Love is Spoken Here".

The second session was excellent, with a board member of WAVE sharing how she came to Mormonism from Unitarian Universalism and the struggles she's had and how and why she's decided to stay and be involved in Mormonism. Then we had a panel discussion with Jon Anderton from Modern Mormon Men, Natalie Kelly from fMh, and a couple other local members who I know are involved in various areas of the bloggernacle but I'm not entirely sure where to link to for them. They discussed ways unorthodox members can effect change and create space for authentic membership in the church on various levels - personal, familial, ward, and church-wide.

The third session at Mormon Stories conferences is always a story-sharing session. Ryan came back to pick up Malcolm before this session so that I could play without being distracted by his screams. I performed Erland van Koch's 1975 work, Monologue #3 for solo clarinet. I'd prepared the first movement for my Seattle Phil. audition and really felt that the whole piece spoke my story with Mormonism quite well, hence why I decided to perform it for the third session. I could nitpick the fumbles and mishaps that occurred, but overall it went well and people seemed to appreciate and enjoy it. I thought briefly about trying to re-record it so the version that everyone listens to online would be better, but I think I've decided against it, despite how embarrassed I feel about some of my flubs. It's a live performance and things like that are often going to happen and I think I'll just accept that and move on. After I performed, members of the audience had a chance to get up and briefly share some aspect of their Mormon story. This is where it became obvious how successful we were at drawing in a wide group of people related to Mormonism. Some ex-Mormons got up, some completely believing members got up, some less orthodox but still active members got up. During the course of the day I met a couple who had performed proxy baptisms at the temple before coming to the conference, several heterodox members, several ex-mos, and even a non-member who has stumbled upon the online Mormon community and finds it fascinating. We ended the conference by singing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing".

Several of us went to dinner at Phinney Market Pub afterward, which was amazing. They prepared a family-style meal for us. Bread, salad with gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, and blackberries, some squash and carrots from a local farm, fettuccine with smoked salmon, halibut baked with cream cheese Dungeness crab and parmesan, and BBQ beef brisket and rosemary potatoes. I'm not much of a fish fan, but I loved the fettuccine. I didn't order dessert, but they looked delectable. Huge amounts of food, so I made sure to take some home to Ryan (I promise, I'd offered getting a sitter so he could come, but he chose not to). The atmosphere of the restaurant was perfect. And to top it all off, it's a super kid-friendly place - they even have a train table in one of the corners! Ryan and I will definitely be going out to dinner there together at some point.

Those of us who worked on organizing the conference ended up very pleased with how things turned out. We had about fifty or sixty people attend, with some of the attendees coming from Spokane, Portland, and southern Oregon in addition to Seattle. While I'm naturally starting to leave Mormonism completely behind (I don't often listen to Mormon Stories or other Mormon-related podcasts anymore and don't read Mormon-related blogs as often, though I keep my eye on them), it was definitely a worthwhile experience to help put together this conference. Not only because it's a big accomplishment to organize something like this and something I haven't done before, but also because I appreciate the goals of Mormon Stories and want to support those who advocate for big-tent Mormonism. Mormon Stories podcast was important to me in my journey and helped slow my exit from the church. It let me know I wasn't alone and helped me take the time to evaluate what was truly best for me and my family. I couldn't stay in, but I support those who choose to. Anyway, it was an enjoyable, if somewhat packed weekend (I had a concert down in Renton yesterday followed by a rehearsal last night). And, while enjoyable, it's a relief to have it all over!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Portland Trip

We took advantage of Gareth's day off on the 12th and drove down to Portland for the weekend. I had a friend from New Jersey getting married down there on the 13th and I wanted to be sure to be at the reception. Becky has been a great friend through the years. She's Ryan's age, so a few years older than me, but we became friends around the time I entered high school. Our families had known each other for ages, our brothers were the same age, but high school is when we really got to know each other. And when Ryan and I got married, Becky came and helped us clean our apartment as we were moving in. We ate dinner together on a few occasions. And when I had Gareth, she helped find someone to watch him while I inventoried all our possessions before we moved across the country. She has frequently visited with my parents and my sister over the past several years. So, yeah, she's been a good family friend and I figured that since I could get to her wedding so easily I definitely should.

We stayed with another friend from New Jersey. Morgan and I are the same age and her oldest and Gareth are both in Kindergarten this year. I haven't seen Morgan since we went off to college, so it was fun to stay with her family. Gareth got along wonderfully with her girls, though they were a very noisy bunch. They just got some chicks, so Gareth got to pet and hold them a few times while were were there. He was very sad when it was time to leave on Sunday, asking before we were out the door if he could have another playdate with them soon (apparently playdates are two day affairs now).

Malcolm was amazing on the drive down - he didn't cry at all. He made up for it on the way home by crying for all but about 45 minutes. So I guess if you average the two rides then he cried about half the time, which honestly isn't too bad considering he's never been in the car longer than about 15 minutes.

I was hoping that staying the whole weekend would mean we'd get to see several things in Portland as well, but that didn't work out quite as planned. We meant to stop at Powell's as we came in on Friday, but Google maps took us down a street that never let us turn left - which was very necessary if you wanted to get to the parking garage for Powell's. So we went on to Morgan and Will's house instead. We did hit Powell's on Saturday. That place is huge and totally awesome. I love book stores and a book store that takes up an entire city block is just amazing. We only went to the kids section, and we still got turned around and lost trying to find our way back to the entrance. They even have a map for the store that you can pick up on your way in. I would've loved to explore some more, but Ryan's feet were tiring and kids were impatient and we were all getting hungry. Ryan did manage to find this book, which is by the same author as this childhood favorite. It was only a couple of dollars, so we bought it. It's a new favorite of Gareth's.

After some lunch we headed off to the reception. We were an hour late, but still had plenty of time to congratulate Becky as well as catch up with some of her family a bit. They had pie instead of cake and the happy couple rode away on a tandem bicycle. After they left we headed off to Ryan's old roommate's house for dinner. Gareth played very happily with their two year old, we had a delicious meal with our friends, and then we headed back to Morgan and Will's where we battled Gareth into bed way past his bedtime. Then we stayed up and chatted with our hosts for a few hours.

Sunday morning we were all a bit slow to get going. By the time we headed out we needed to get some lunch. After stopping to do that it was already two, so we opted to head home. But the drive proved very do-able, so we'll definitely head down that way again. The next time we go I'm hoping we'll stop and check out the Columbia River Gorge as well as more of downtown Portland.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Playing with Daddy

Ryan and Gareth played Minecraft together over the weekend. Gareth also went to a birthday party and had a soccer game, both of which were great fun, but playing with Ryan was the event that he wrote about on his "weekend news" exercise at school Monday morning.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Malcolm Tries Something New

Malcolm was very excited at being introduced to the high chair yesterday:

The food? Not so much:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Six Months

Malcolm is a healthy six-month-old these days. At his appointment he weighed 14.14 lbs (10%), was 26 3/4 inches (55%) and had a head circumference of 44cm (75%). So he gained about half a pound in the last two months and grew a little over two inches. Typical for a kid of ours I'd say. Ryan was surprised though because he feels like Malcolm's getting fatter, and even Gareth asked the other day why Malcolm is so fat. He definitely has a couple more rolls than Gareth did at that age, but it doesn't take much to beat out Gareth in that department.

Catching a non-blurry moment is difficult these days. Despite the blur, the smile here was too cute to pass up.

I tried feeding him some carrots the other day and noticed a rash shortly afterward. The rash is still there, more than a week later, so not food related, but we hadn't fed him any other solids since because I wanted to be sure. His doctor thinks it's the soap we're using at bath time drying out his skin and gave us another type to try, plus some lotion. So, if I can get my act together, he'll start eating cereal and trying new fruits and vegetables over the next few weeks. He also has a yeast infection, so we've now got a prescription to deal with that and hopefully we'll be back to a rash-free baby shortly.

Looking back at old pictures, it appears Gareth was starting to sit up a bit on his own at this point. Malcolm isn't there yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he crawls before Gareth did, because he's already inching his way along the floor at times. He's rather quiet, but extremely observant. And he loves to engage with other people, making eye contact and smiling even if he doesn't babble at them. He still doesn't laugh, though he is amused by many things, opening his mouth in a huge smile to show his excitement. Malcolm loves watching his big brother and likes doing Wheels on the Bus, Eensy Weensy Spider, and Pat-a-Cake with me.

He's much more into oral exploration than Gareth was. Malcolm wants to put everything in his mouth. He's constantly sucking or chewing on something (which also makes for a lot of saliva everywhere). We've got several old rattles and other toys that are meant to be chewed on. People gave them to us before we had Gareth and they got absolutely no use with Gareth. He could have cared less about them. But Malcolm uses them exactly how they're meant to be used. And he recognizes, knows, and loves those toys. His eyes light up when he sees you approaching with one of his favorites. Malcolm's firefly from his aunt and uncle is a continual favorite - so many easy to grab places, lots of crinkly noises, rattle, and the mirror is great for chewing on.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What I Plan for My Remains

I've long thought about how I want to be buried and all that. When I was a kid, I wanted the most impenetrable coffin possible. Bugs crawling through my body was such a gross revolting idea after all. Of course, as I got older that really didn't bother me as much, though bugs were still equally gross. Oh, and I wanted to be in a cemetery with upright headstones because the flat ones are just lame.

By the time I was married I saw cremation as a somewhat appealing idea, except the whole scattering the ashes thing seemed silly to me. And it just seemed weird for someone to have the ashes sitting on a shelf somewhere. So I still would've opted for a nice wood coffin, something that would allow decomposition to happen fairly quickly as I now saw beauty in the idea of returning to the earth and continuing life through other organisms. Then at some point a friend mentioned going to a ceremony to bury a relative's ashes, something which I hadn't realized was an option. (Apparently there are all kinds of interesting things you can do with your ashes, from shooting them off in fireworks to making jewelry out of them to being made into a box of pencils.) At that point (probably two to three years ago), I became firmly decided on cremation for my remains and to have them buried in the ground somewhere. But in the last year I think I've sort of changed my mind again. After seeing pictures of several funerals, it all struck me as such a waste. Big, expensive coffin, space in the land (what happens when we run out of cemetery spaces? do we just get rid of the headstones for the now decomposed bodies and re-use the space?), all the ritual.

I get that it's all for the living and if that's what the relatives need for closure then that's cool. But it's not what I want for me. So I've decided to donate my body to science or a body farm type place. Someone may as well learn from it after all. Relatives don't need a grave site to visit to remember a loved one, just their own brain with it's memories. And if you donate it to science there's usually no cost involved as they cremate the remains when they're done with them and then return them to the family to do with as they wish. Beyond that, it'll be up to what Ryan or our kids feel they need to determine what, if any, gathering type things they hold. After all, I'm not going to be around to know or care, now am I? But if it were me, I'd probably keep it a small, intimate gathering at home, perhaps with friends sharing meaningful memories if they wish. There were some interesting ideas in this podcast that I listened to the other day, but especially loved that in Australia most people use a secular Funeral Celebrant to help them plan a ceremony celebrating and focused on their loved one, rather than a ritual focused on espousing a particular dogma. I also liked the idea that one couple had of having readings from their favorite authors/books.

Is it weird that I've thought about this so much already? At least when I die Ryan/our kids will definitely know what I wanted, right? And, just for fun, if you were going to be cremated, what would you have your family do with the ashes?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Orchestra Audition

The evening before Gareth started school I took him to his first soccer practice and then we rushed home so I could scarf down some dinner and run back out to an audition for the Seattle Philharmonic. I think it's possible that some of my facebook acquaintances have thought this is a bigger audition, for a paying job. It's an understandable mistake, as some cities have professional orchestras that are Philharmonics. But the big professional orchestra of Seattle is actually the Seattle Symphony. The Seattle Philharmonic is a community orchestra. But, according to what I've heard, it's one of the best community orchestras in the area (the classical station here will sometimes broadcast their concerts). Anyway, their second clarinetist died last fall (very sad - it was a brain tumor and she'd been doing better and then about the time we moved into our house here the tumor started growing again) and they'd had someone subbing in the position for last year but hadn't yet held a formal audition for the seat.

My teacher had been out of town for the three weeks before the audition, and some of the excerpts they were asking for had changed since we'd last had a lesson, meaning we hadn't ever gone over the new excerpts. But I'd found recordings and done my best to get them up to speed on my own. For those who might care about such things, they asked for Beethoven #2, first movement, Beethoven #6, first and third movements, Brahms #2, second and fourth movements, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, and Capriccio Espagnol (I practiced the excerpts from both the 1st and 3rd movements, because I didn't know which they wanted, turned out they wanted the 3rd movement). And I prepared the first movement of Erland von Koch's Monologue 3, which is for solo clarinet.

There was one person before me and one after. Not sure if there were any more as I left after I was done. While waiting for the first candidate to warm up I sat and chatted with a vocalist who will be singing with the orchestra in the spring. Unfortunately this left my throat rather dry and I'd stupidly not thought to bring a water bottle with me. I managed to get over this while warming up though. I was a bit thrown by realizing I'd be standing up for the audition. Back in my high school or college days this wouldn't have fazed me, as I practiced standing up quite often. But it's been a long time since I've played standing up, so I was not happy to notice a slight change in my tone quality while standing.

The audition went quite well. Of course, immediately afterward I mostly focused on the negative things: I got too soft too fast here and so those notes didn't speak, I fumbled this passage here, the sight reading was dreadful, and so on. But the vocalist pointed out a lot of good things about my audition and said that at that point I'd be her pick. So by the time I left I was feeling better about it and in reality it was a pretty solid audition. I felt that no matter what happened, I'd be happy with how I'd played. Later that night I got an email letting me know about a rehearsal venue change for the next night, but that just left me uncertain as it wasn't a definitive, "yes, you've got the spot" and they could've sent the information to everyone who auditioned.

Ryan at times seemed more anxious than I did to find out, but that might've been because Gareth and Malcolm had been little nightmares while I was gone. He even jokingly said at one point that I shouldn't audition for such things because then I might actually get in. When he saw that an email had come from the personnel manager the next morning, he brought my phone to me right away. I got the seat, and the manager said some very nice things about my playing. Ryan, while not terribly excited about the prospect of a second night in a row alone with the kids (and for a much longer stretch as the rehearsal was a good half hour away), was very excited for me. And a bit jealous because I have several musical groups I participate in now and he doesn't have any yet. I haven't played in orchestra since graduating in 2006, so it was exciting news for me as well. Orchestra has always been my love, so it feels wonderful to be in one again.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Firsts

This has been a week of firsts. First day of school, first successful shoelace-tying attempt, first soccer game.

Gareth's team wears green jerseys - he's on the right

Wiping off sweaty faces while waiting for play to start again

It was really hot out there (really hot here equates to 85 degrees), with no shade anywhere near the field. Gareth finished off most of his water before the first (20-minute) half was over. It's quite entertaining to watch the five-year-olds play since they're lucky if they manage to run in the right direction and the ball is a magnet that draws them all in. Teamwork doesn't mean anything yet, so members of the same team are fighting each other for the ball. They play three on three, so the teams get split in two and hold two games at the same time. Gareth's bunch only had 5, and one of those decided she wasn't too keen on the mass huddle around the ball thing, so the other 4 got a ton of playing time. Gareth was in for almost the entire game and he did a great job staying determined and continuing to work hard even though you could tell he was exhausted. He was very upset at the end that he never kicked the ball into the goal himself (though he did assist quite well on a couple of goals, but of course that doesn't mean much to a 5-year-old). Hopefully wanting to make goals all the time will be something he gets over quickly. I think I could count on one hand the number of goals I made in my seven or so years of playing soccer, so if he doesn't get over it he could be in for a lot of disappointment. He seemed to enjoy himself, despite the disappointment of not scoring.

I decided to take video of him tying his shoe after he did the first one without any help from me at all. He'd practiced with me on maybe two other occasions prior to this.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School

Gareth has been beyond excited for school for the past couple of weeks and finally the big day came. Yesterday morning he (and Malcolm) woke up bright and early at about ten to seven. Gareth came into our room, asking where his "school clothes" were (I'd just washed them earlier in the week, so they hadn't made it to his room yet) and quickly got dressed. Usually he wants to wait until noon to get dressed, so this was nothing short of a miracle.

I got up and went to work on the breakfast I'd promised him - waffles. We don't usually have waffles, because my brain's got this idea that they're time-consuming and tedious to make. They're not, but somehow that idea is firmly implanted in my mind. So, yeah, it's a pretty special thing to get waffles. Gareth helped me until the first batch was done and he could start eating.

Ready to go (a good 30 minutes early)

The morning wasn't terribly stressful, because school starts on the late side here. So I had plenty of time to shower and remember to brush Gareth's hair and teeth and all that. We even got the dishwasher emptied before heading out! I loaded all of Gareth's supplies into a paper bag and his backpack and we set out for the school. I love that we have neighborhood schools here now (they used to work on a lottery system), because it means that Gareth doesn't have to ride a bus. It's a decent walk for little legs (10 blocks), but Gareth's did pretty well with it.

Thrilled that the first day of school means getting his picture taken

Things were a bit crazy with all the parents there dropping off their kids and their supplies. Gareth's teacher helped him find his locker (he's in the classroom not originally intended as a Kindergarten room, so no bathroom or cubby area inside the room) and then he went into the room to find his desk. There are four other kids at his "table" area with him. Gareth sat down and started coloring right away; I had a hard time getting him to even acknowledge me to say good-bye! I felt badly for the dad of one of the kids in the class, who's kid was bawling when it was time for him to go. But I saw him walking down the hall later, so he managed to get away at some point.

It did feel a bit strange to leave Gareth there, having no firm idea myself of how the day works and what they'd be doing. With preschool last year, I worked in the school on the first day of the week, so I knew before I ever left him what the day would look like. So, yeah, a bit strange to leave him, but definitely no tears on my part. And I'm sure I'll figure out over the next few weeks how his classroom works and what kinds of things they do during the day.

The K kids have half days this first week, then go to full day next week. I met up at a restaurant with some other parents from our preschool after we'd dropped the kids off and then rushed back to pick Gareth up on time. Today was my first day just heading home with Malcolm. I think it'll be nice to have time just with Malcolm. Especially if it works out like today, where he fell asleep on the walk up to the school and then let me move him to his crib when we got home and stayed asleep for another hour! Poor kid hasn't had a chance to develop much of a nap routine yet, and I'm hopeful that with Gareth in school we'll be able to get him on a more consistent routine.

First day of school review was rather mixed. Gareth got really hungry (they have a snack, but not until 11), so he was really negative about it all until I got some lunch in him. It was boring, it wasn't what he expected, there weren't any toys in the room, he was disappointed that they didn't read the story he wanted. About the only positive thing he said when I picked him up was that his teacher had beautiful earrings. But after lunch some more positives started coming out. He's excited because his "team" (the group of kids he sits near) is the Gorillas. It was fun to sit on the carpet for the story. But the overall response to day one was that it was boring and disappointing.

With that in mind, I was rather surprised when he said he was excited for school this morning. This morning I made sure to feed him a small snack before we left the house and on the way to school he told an acquaintance that his first day had been great. The first thing he said when I picked him up was, "It wasn't boring today!". Hopefully things will be more positive from here on out, but I wouldn't be surprised if we have more "boring" days since it sounds like they spend the first month acclimating to the school.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Burke Museum

Early this week we hopped on the bus over to the Burke Museum for a last week of summer break outing. We hadn't been before and I'd considered having us go on a weekend as a family, but museums aren't really Ryan's thing. Gareth had seen the pictures of the dinosaur fossils on their website though, and had been asking when we were going to see the fossils ever since.

I hadn't been to the UW campus yet either, so it was fun to see a bit of that. It's quite a nice campus, with lots of lovely brick buildings, lots of green (of course), as well as the requisite nasty ugly building from the 60s or 70s (is there any campus that doesn't have one of these?).

We got to the museum a bit before our friends, so we hung out looking at the fossils and other items on the first floor until they got there. Gareth was very impressed with the dinosaur fossils and enjoyed looking at the polar bear and lion skulls as well as a display on volcanos. He was excited enough to enjoy looking at them all a second time when his friend got there. The museum starts charging admission at age 5, which is good because the 2 year old in our group was less than impressed with everything. But the older kids enjoyed themelves. In addition to the fossil and volcano displays they also had several stuffed birds and squirrels and things and a display on various Pacific cultures.

We ended by checking out the photography exhibit. Gareth said this wasn't very interesting, despite asking questions about several pictures and stating they were "cool" while we were in there. But I can understand why photography wouldn't compare to dinosaur fossils and playing with puppets for him. Overall, a successful outing. Now I'm waiting for school to start so I can go to King Tut with Ryan during the day. And there's a display of quilts over in Bellevue that I hope to check out soon as well.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I tried making an omelet for the first time the other day. In fact, I believe it was the first time I've ever eaten an omelet as well. The recipe came from the Quinoa 365 cookbook, one I'd been drawn to several times just from the picture. Ryan isn't one to care about aesthetics of a meal, but I find when I'm looking for recipes to try that it helps me a lot if the picture of the dish is colorful and otherwise aesthetically pleasing.

First, I chopped the vegetables. See how bright and cheerful they are?

Then I sauteed the asparagus, mushrooms and green onions (this smelled so delicious):

Then tossed those with the tomatoes:

At this point I found out Ryan's bus hadn't come yet and he'd be later than usual and kinda forgot about taking pictures. But when he was home I mixed together the eggs, milk, quinoa, and pesto and started to cook the omelet. The recipe called for two eggs for one omelet, and the omelet looked quite a bit smaller than the size pan I was using. So I figured I'd double that and it'd work out decently. In the end it looked like our omelets were much thicker than the recipe pictured, so maybe I should've stuck with the single recipe for our pan. As it was, I wasn't really sure how to get all the egg cooked without burning the underside. The recipe said to just cover it for a couple of minutes until the top was cooked, but it didn't seem to quite work that way for me. In the end, I managed to get everything cooked, but the bottom of the omelets were a tad dark.

I transferred the omelet to a plate and added the cottage cheese. Here's half of an omelet (they were huge):

Not quite as pretty as the cookbook picture, but still pretty tasty!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

First "Swim"

Taking Gareth to swimming lessons twice a week has given both Ryan and myself the urge to go swimming ourselves. The only problem being that neither of us owned swimsuits. The last one I had had been purchased when I was 14 or 15 and Ryan had thrown his last one out a few years back. The urge to swim finally overpowered Ryan and we went out last weekend to pick up some suits. My options were definitely limited, I'm assuming because of the time of year. And can I just say how difficult it is to find clothes/swimsuits when your body is still a completely different size than it normally is.

Ryan worked from home on Tuesday and we went off in the afternoon to the public swim at the local pool. I was worried that Malcolm and I would end up staying home since swim diapers start out for 16 pounders. Turned out it was a bit big, but doable. And luckily we'd inherited a swim suit in his size from his cousin. I'd figured we'd never use a 3-6 month suit, but am now glad we took it anyway.

Gareth stuck with Ryan and Ryan got him to put his head under water several times. Malcolm stuck with me. At first he sucked in his breathe every time the water hit his belly as it was a bit cold. Once he got used to the temperature he didn't much care that he was in the water. It was noisy and there were lots of other people and so many new things, so he was a bit overwhelmed. He handled it pretty well, but wasn't terribly interested in making eye contact or engaging in any way. I moved him around a bit in the water while he sucked his fingers. Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures. A lifeguard offered, but my phone was in a locker. By the time I met Ryan and the boys back in the lobby after our swim, Malcolm was back to his usual smiley self, though he was totally exhausted we'd later discover. I figured he'd want to eat while at the pool, but he didn't ever cry or in any way indicate he was hungry. Then I thought I'd feed him when we got home, but I turned around to help Gareth with something and a couple minutes later Malcolm was out. I thought picking him up and going to find the burp cloth would wake him up, but no. He slept for a couple hours and then was ready to go to sleep for the night about 9:30, and didn't wake up until 8 the next morning. Now that's something I could get used to!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I don't handle blood well. I learned this when I was seven and was tested for Lyme disease. The nurse told me I could watch them draw my blood if I wanted, which I did want since I'd never seen blood drawn before. After she finished she asked if I was okay. "Yeah, I'm fine," I said, right before I fell off the chair to the floor. As a high schooler I whacked and cut open my toe on a wall while babysitting some kids. One of the kids I was supposed to be caring for had to help me clean and bandage it, because I couldn't look at the blood.

Sometimes I don't even handle the thought of blood well. When I was visiting Ryan's family one Thanksgiving (before we were even dating, so really they were Sarah's family back then) we all went to watch Master and Commander. It got to the scene where they amputate the kid's arm and I knew not to watch in case there was lots of "blood". But I couldn't stop myself thinking about what it would be like to saw through someone's arm and how it would feel to pierce the skin and as you hit the bone and all the blood and on and on. I tried to stop thinking about it, but just couldn't. I started feeling woozy and closed my eyes to try and let my stomach calm. Next thing I knew Sarah was shaking me and I'd missed several minutes of the movie. I had fainted in the movie theatre (but thankfully remained in my seat) and her dad had noticed I was twitching and was wondering what on earth was wrong with me. Yeah, that was embarrassing. (I have since watched that movie with no problems whatsoever, by the way.)

I've learned that it's good to have someone else around if I cut myself because I very quickly get all shaky and faint. So slicing my finger today while making dinner when Malcolm was screaming and we were trying to get ready for a swim lesson wasn't such a great move since Ryan wasn't home. Poor Gareth got really freaked out while I tried to wash the cut at the sink while keeping my head as low as possible (not an easy task). Despite all his shaking and fear and uncertainty about what was going on, he managed to get me the box of bandaids and call Ryan to ask him to come home. I knew Ryan wouldn't be able to make it for 45 minutes or so, but it was nice to know he was on his way just in case I did end up fainting, which for a few minutes felt dangerously imminent. In the end, I didn't faint, but did throw up before I managed to get a bandaid on (bandaids are really difficult to open when your hands are wet by the way) and sit down on the floor trying to calm my breathing and stop the shaking and numbness before attempting to take care of the now frothing-at-the-mouth Malcolm. Of course, by the time Ryan made it home things were just fine, though my finger still hurt like the dickens, and I felt a bit silly for having him come home early.

Thing is, I don't have too much trouble when Gareth gets cuts and scrapes. Even when he hit his head on a door hinge a couple years ago I was able to handle that quite well (I did have to look away from time to time and take a deep breath, but that's not bad for a head wound I'd say). And for his typical knee cuts and scrapes I have no problem cleaning them up. So apparently it's not so much the blood that's problematic (though it definitely is to some extent), but maybe the pain aspect. When I'm washing out Gareth's cuts I'm not causing myself any pain (though if you heard him you'd think I was cutting his leg off). But if I've cut myself there's a lot of causing myself pain to get it taken care of, not to mention the pain from having a sharp knife slice through your skin. If only I could somehow get myself to react as well with my own cuts as I do with Gareth's. Any friends been successful at overcoming queasiness at the sight of blood? Oh, and tomorrow I get to discover just how much this will mess with my practicing ahead of my audition at the beginning of September. Horrible timing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Break, Sort Of

July was crazy. Playing in the community band is fun, but it means two weeknight rehearsals each week and then a concert every Saturday or Sunday (sometimes both) through the month of July. Usually our director (who I take lessons from) brings in some soloists from out of town. People like Robert DiLutis, but this year they all happened to be in Europe or in the middle of moving or something. So instead he featured the first clarinets at each concert, which was rather fun. One of the second clarinetists was named the best freshman or some such at her high school this year, so for one concert he made her an honorary first and we all played a Pierne solo together, with Flight of the Bumblebee as an encore. At the last concert I played "Two Little Bullfinches" with one of the other firsts. So, yeah, that was all fun but quite tiring. I think Ryan is happy that I've got a month off as well. Of course, I need to practice like crazy this month to prepare for the Seattle Phil audition at the end of the month, so the break is really only from performances. If I get the spot, then those rehearsals start just after Labor Day, as do clarinet choir rehearsals.

Early in July we celebrated my birthday, which actually went quite nicely this year, unlike the year when I had to spoon-feed Ryan because he was crazy sick or the year he spent the evening all depressed because he hated his job and my birthday went forgotten. We purchased a Chocolate Caramel cake from a dessert store here, and it was delicious and worth the very many pennies it cost.

Malcolm has hit four months, meaning he got to go get some shots, which he wasn't happy about. He really wasn't thrilled with any part of the doctor visit, actually, but I can't blame him since he'd just fallen asleep and I woke him up to get in the car and then woke him up to get out of the car and then he fell asleep again while we walked from the car to the office, and he had to wake up again when they were ready to start his exam. For those interested, he was 24.5 inches long (30%) and 13 pounds, 9 ounces (20%). His head is in the 60th percentile. He's rolled over a couple of times, but mostly just rolls to his side rather than all the way. Gareth was never much into rolling and it's looking like Malcolm might be the same. He looks like he'd much rather be able to get his knees under him and start crawling. He sometimes seems to be on the verge of laughing, but hasn't ever managed that yet either.

Malcolm and his Firefly

Gareth is getting really excited for school, but still enjoying summer at the same time. His backpack just arrived yesterday. 

School starts in September, just after Labor Day as well. Hopefully we all enjoy our last month before things get crazy. I'm thinking we'll get in a couple of hikes or museum visits before then at least.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Pout

I thought to snap some photos of the pout today when I started practicing:

 If left long enough, the basic pout above gives way to the extreme pout:

When I'm practicing he get's over his dissatisfaction eventually, once I've played continuously for a bit and he realizes the sound isn't going to go away. Then he goes to sleep.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Halfway to Food

Malcolm is halfway to being able to start solids. Hopefully, anyway. I'm a little nervous about how he'll do with that and if we'll actually be able to start around six months or not because this kid has a serious gag reflex. I thought Gareth's was bad as an infant, but Malcolm gags on nothing multiple times a day. At least lately he has stopped puking every time he gags, but I still find myself trying to decide if I should run to the sink whenever the gagging starts. I'm excited for solids because then he'll be nursing less often. Nursing is not my most favorite pastime; it tends to make me feel a bit trapped. It's been a little better this time around since I'm more comfortable nursing in public. I didn't take much notice of when Seattle made breastfeeding a protected civil right, but I've got to say that it actually helps a lot to have that in place. It was already state law, but the Seattle measure makes the state law more enforceable. Knowing that that's in place and seeing other women nurse in public is definitely helpful in increasing my comfort with feeding my child outside of my home. This means that I can take Gareth to the science center or the park without stressing about whether we'll be able to make it there and back home before Malcolm would want to eat again (right now we wouldn't as he still eats every three hours or less). I was tempted at the beginning to pump all the time and just feed him breast milk from a bottle, but in the end that's just more work than it's worth for me. Ryan tries to feed him a bottle if I've got a rehearsal or go out with friends (Malcolm's not loving the bottle right now, maybe we need to try a different kind?), so I've got a fair amount of freedom. But I'm still excited for him to start on solids and hopefully wean around a year.

He's a cute baby, something we're both enjoying more this time around since we're not nearly as overwhelmed as we were with Gareth (sorry, Gareth!). While we enjoy that he's cute, he's still boring like every newborn is. You hold him for five minutes or less and there's not much you or he can do, so then you put him down and he screams. We're excited for him to grow up a bit.

He's started playing with his hands a bit and trying to chew/suck on them. Malcolm has found his thumb a couple of times but this has just caused increased frustration as he seems to know there's something there that was great fun to suck on, but he usually won't move his thumb out from his other fingers enough to really be able to suck on it. Instead he sits there bobbing his head all around his hand, gnawing and sucking on whatever comes in contact with his mouth, but never really finding satisfaction.

He seems to be more interested in books than Gareth was at this age. He'll actually sit calmly through Brown Bear, Brown Bear and stares most intently at the black and white pages (that would be the dog and the sheep, for those who don't have the book memorized). He loves having his arms and legs flailed around wildly. His other love is his changing table. You put him down there and he starts smiling like crazy. He's not such a fan of shirts going on or off over his head, but if all he needs is a diaper change you can be certain you'll have an ecstatic baby by the time you're done.

He smiles a lot, especially at Gareth. He seems fascinated by all that Gareth can do. He also has an adorable pout, but I've yet to be able to capture it on camera. Even his smiles seem hard to catch. Ryan can trigger the pout by speaking in a very deep voice. I usually trigger it by playing the clarinet.

Sleeping is an area we're still working on. Around 11 weeks he started sleeping through the night, but that only lasted for a little over a week. Now he'll sleep through a couple of nights then wake up between 3 or 4 for a few nights. But we have to acknowledge that we're still pretty lucky in the sleep department. He's been waking up only once during the night from just a couple weeks old and he puts himself to sleep every night with no help from us. And, finally, his most recently acquired skill (he'll hold his upper body up like this for several minutes usually):