Jed Laughs

11.29.2010
Jed has a sense of humor! Watching Jed laugh makes us laugh!
I know his grandparents will appreciate this.

Happy Thanksgiving

11.25.2010
Happy First Thanksgiving, Bud!

Happy Thanksgiving! I live a life so rich in blessings that I couldn’t possibly list or count them all. I am as content and happy as I will ever be, I think. And for that, I am very grateful.

First, I need to give a shout-out to my husband and very best friend, Bron. I just want you to know how much I appreciate you in all of your efforts to provide for our little family and for being the best husband and father you know how to be. You make me so happy! You know exactly what I need and go out of your way to spoil me and put a smile on my face—like a hug, or tickling me, or teasing me, or preparing a tray of cheese and crackers. I love coming home from an evening at work to a clean kitchen and a sleeping baby.  Thank you so much for all your selflessness and thoughtfulness; those are traits I really admire. I love you and am so thankful I can be with you for eternity.

Rivaling my husband at the top of my list of blessings is, of course, my baby boy. Sometimes it still blows my mind to think that I am a mother and that Jedediah is mine. I can kill a cactus, but I’ve managed to keep Jed alive for seven months. I’m impressed with myself.

Jed is seven months old today. I love his smile and the way his eyes look when he’s happy—which is almost all the time. The boy just wants to play, play, play! Lucky for me, Jed hasn’t quite figured out how to move yet. He can roll halfway across a room, but he prefers just to sit and play with his toys. However, he is slowly losing interest in his toys and becoming very curious about people things. When I’m in the kitchen, I help Jed empty a drawer and it provides entertainment for a good long while. Jed has also taken off on solid foods. I didn’t know a little person could eat so much! He’s begun eating three “solid” meals a day which usually consist of cereal or oatmeal mixed with some kind of fruit or veggie. And he’s finally figured out how to drink from a sippy cup! It’s like a special treat; he gets excited when I bring his cup out even though it only has water in it for now. He also enjoys sucking on his toes, wash cloths, water bottles, and even real cups.  He is fascinated by straps, especially the ones on his booster seat.  And instead of talking, he growls. The kid has personality. Oh, and he gives kisses too. They’re more like open-mouthed slobbers, but I treasure them!

I love you so much, Jed! You have no idea how much joy you bring me. I am so thankful to be your mommy. Happy First Thanksgiving!

I am a little obsessed with little feet.  And I love how short Jed is!
Look how his feet barely stick out under the tray of his booster seat.

Our Travel Adventure: Part 2

11.19.2010
Our Nation's Capitol

Since Bron had the weekend off, we wanted to take the opportunity to explore more parts of the East Coast. We decided upon our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C.

We arrived at the Hilton (Yes, Bron got us a room at the Hilton! Quite nice. I’m so spoiled.) in Silver Springs, Maryland where we had the car parked by a valet and were on the metro headed into D.C. before noon. I carried a backpack filled with snacks for all of us, some baby essentials, and something to keep both Jed and me warm—which we wore half the time anyway. Bron had Jed. Jed is finally big enough for the backpack, and he loves it! He just grins like a cheese ball every time we put him in it. We were ready to take on the city! So what if we totally looked like tourists?

Our first sight of the trip was to the Capitol Building where we took a tour. For some reason, I thought the building would be completely updated, but I was pleased to find that much of its historic feel had been preserved. In some parts it was easy to imagine what it must have been like about two hundred years ago!

The Awesome Rotunda

Inside the Capitol
Yes, Jed is tasting his backpack

Then we hit up the Library of Congress. I’ve always wanted to see it. That building is impressive. In fact, all of the old buildings are! There, we got to see an original Gutenberg Bible. Wow. So cool.

Inside the Library of Congress

Next, we browsed through the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. By then it was getting dark. We walked down the National Mall. The memorials are so pretty at night; they’re almost breathtaking! We saw the Washington Memorial, WWII Memorial, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson Memorials. This is about when the battery in my camera died. Unfortunately, I’d left the charger in the car which happened to be in said valet parking lot and that was the end of my photography for the trip. I was a little bummed. We bought postcards instead. Bron thinks we’ll probably save money this way. (A sarcastic Haha!)

The Washington Memorial at Night
It is TALL!!!

View of the Lincoln Memorial from the WWII Memorial
Sooo pretty! 

Saturday we began our day at the Arlington National Cemetery. That cemetery is something else entirely. It was sad to me to read the dates on the headstones. I know soldiers often die young, but it’s disheartening to see so many! It helped give me a new appreciation for my rights and freedoms as an American.

That day we also toured Robert E. Lee’s mansion on top of the hill, the Iwo Jima memorial, the White House, and finally made our way into the National Archives Building to see THE ACTUAL Declaration of Independence! I couldn’t believe how faded the signatures have become. It was really neat to see. There, we also had the chance to see the original Emancipation Proclamation that is on display only four days each year. It was a great exhibit. By the way, I totally recommend spending time in the American History Museum. I wish we had more time! I felt an overwhelming sense of pride when I saw Old Glory—the 15 star, 15 stripe flag that inspired our national anthem.

That about sums up our trip! We got in the car with the intent of finding a motel that night, but Bron determined he could make it all the way home in one shot. We arrived home at about 4:00AM and took resting on the Sabbath very literally. We all needed a little time to recover after a week like that.

Totally fun week and lots of memories.

We all felt a little like this when we got back 

Our Travel Adventure: Part 1

11.17.2010
View of Hershey, Pennsylvania

Jed is exceptionally well traveled for such a little kid. He’s been entirely across New York State, and has visited Vermont, Montreal, and Quebec City. This last week we added Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Deleware and New Jersey, respectively, to his list. We were only gone five days, but it feels like two weeks!

Bron had a conference to attend in Harrisburg, PA for two days, so Jed and I came along for the ride! We left early Tuesday morning. It was an eight hour drive, but I came prepared with a bag of toys and books with which to entertain the little man. Jed even got to experiment with feeding himself for the first time. Man, we’re getting good at this travel stuff! We have been blessed with an extraordinarily good-natured baby. Jed is a really happy boy. He only fusses when he’s tired, hungry, or frustrated. The entire five days we dealt with only one meltdown.

A first time experience: Chowing down on rice crackers

Because the hotel the conference was in had no vacancy, we stayed in a slightly cheaper adjacent hotel. We lived in the lap of luxury for three nights! Bron booked us a suite with a king size bed and jetted bathtub. We found that if we squirted just a little baby soap into the tub and turned on the jets, we got bubbles two feet deep! Jed had a ball.

My baby boy enjoying a big bed after a warm bubble bath

So while Bron was working hard all day at his conference, Jed and I were free as birds to explore our new surroundings. Our first day, we headed straight to Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA just seven miles away. It was hands-down my favorite day! Jed went on his first “ride” (twice) and we “both” got free samples of chocolate. I even took a little chocolate tasting class and became a Master Chocolate Taster. (You really do LISTEN to chocolate!) There was also a humungous gift shop and candy store. I didn’t think I could ever get chocolated-out, but I did. After all that chocolate sampling, I was ready for something with a little substance. Then we toured the Hershey Story museum and learned all about Mr. Hershey, his community, and factory.
Chocolate World!

A little kid in a GIANT candy store!

The next day I drove to Amish Country some thirty miles away. Pennsylvania has such gorgeous countryside! I love the green of the East but miss the openness of the West. Pennsylvania seemed to have a little bit of both: green rolling open fields. And the leaves were still on the trees too! It was very picturesque. I wanted to bottle it all up and bring it home.

Outside of Lancaster, Jed and I stopped at various Amish stores to browse (there was a ton of cute decorative stuff!) and even visited an Amish farm to see some miniature horses. It was fun to see horses and buggies driving down the same road I drove and to see Amish children at play in their schoolyard. For lunch, I decided to eat where the locals typically dine to try to get an accurate feel for the community. There was a twenty minute wait. “All right,” I thought, “this is going to be good!” And good it was! Jed attracts a lot of attention. We had every old lady in the vicinity gathered around to gab about him. I also got to sit at my table near the front of the restaurant and watch people come and go. There were all sorts, including all sorts of Amish. I had a great time just people watching. And the food was pretty good too. (Sorry, no pictures of this because I thought it would be a little disrespectful and just plain kinda weird.)

Some snapshots of Gettysburg in the evening

Late in the afternoon, we picked up Bron and dashed out to Gettysburg before the sun set. Bron loves American history. In fact, he just finished reading the Killer Angels trilogy about the Civil War. Gettysburg was definitely high on his list of places to visit. Upon arrival, the first thing we saw was the Cyclorama: a huge floor to ceiling painting that encircled us and told the story of that great battle. It was something else!  Did I mention that the painting is like REALLY OLD? Then we hurried outside to drive around the park. Bron was anxious to see Little Round Top. It’s a good thing Bron knows so much about history because when we visit these kind of places I’m always full of questions; I’m practically clueless! But I think he likes reiterating the stories and sharing his knowledge with me. That’s why I married him. He knows everything so I don’t have to.

We watched this soldier sit quietly and play his trumpet as if we had stepped back in time. 
Then we watched him drive away in a Nissan.

It was a very good two days. Next, Washington D.C.!

A Travel Adventure Preview

11.11.2010
We're visiting Pennsylvania this week.  So far, Jed's favorite thing has been his giant bubble baths. 
Living in the lap of luxury, Baby!

Play, Smile, and Slobber

11.06.2010
Jed thought it was hilarious to sit on Dad's shoulders and soak his hair with slobber.
I thought it was hilarious too.  Bron was just being a good sport, but I think he liked it.

P.S.  It is really HARD to get a good shot without the flash inside our home.  Any suggestions?  The ISO is at 800, I'm shooting wide open, and the shutter speed has to be at about 1/20.  Yuck!  Or is that the best I can do?  Maybe it's time for a new camera accessory.  haha

The Calf Whisperer

11.04.2010
Ready for work in my new insulated (very important) coveralls
before their maiden voyage to the barn.

Folks often ask how I like my new job. My response: I actually really enjoy it! There’s just something very gratifying about physically working—using your arms and legs—and getting a job done from start to finish. I like seeing what I’ve accomplished. It’s akin to smelling pine sol while grimacing at a filthy mop and admiring a sparkling wood floor. That’s nice.

I start work between 5:00 and 5:30PM and get done between 8:30 and 9:30PM three or four nights a week. Life on a farm is unpredictable: you never know when a calf might be sick or a brand new one will hit the ground. (I love seeing animals born.) That’s why I don’t have very definite hours. I have so much to learn! I want to learn more about the farm’s diets and weaning schedules and how to treat different diseases. But I’ve done my job as long as the calves are warm and fed.

I love working with the calves! They’re so little and cute. They remind of Jed when he’s really hungry; they’re anxious for their food and go to town slurping it up! Sometimes they make me laugh. One had a bucket stuck on her muzzle one night and couldn’t shake it off. Another calf, just hours old, followed me around the pen and came sucking on my boots, knees, and whatever else. It’s kinda fun. And did you know that women usually do a better job than men at caring for calves on a farm? The animals become our babies.

Well, while I’m gone caring for animal babies, Bron is at home caring for our baby. I think it’s been a good change. It’s given Bron a chance to develop a little relationship with his boy, and Jed just adores his daddy. Jed’s face lights up whenever Bron walks through the door. Bron is such a fun daddy that it makes me a little jealous sometimes. He adds a little spice and variety to the bedtime routine. Although Jed definitely doesn’t get as squeaky clean in the bathtub with his dad around, Jed has more fun. The crazy kid likes to dunk his head under the running faucet or stick his nose and mouth in to taste it. But Bron also has to deal with Jed at his most fussy. I think he handles it well. I also think it’s given him a fair taste for what I actually do.

Somehow, though, through our busy schedules, we’ve been able to gel as a family. When Bron is home for lunch we talk, tease, laugh, and play with Jed. In the evenings, Bron has been conscious about turning off the television to spend some quality time with me. I can’t believe we actually talk “farming” now! I often come home from work with a question or two about the dairy and then we start discussing the various ways to run an operation and how we might do it if we had cows of our own. Whoa. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we ended up raising calves someday. I guess it’s just one more thing we can add to our list of similar interests. I have to admit, we hit a slight rough spot in our marriage a few months ago around the time Jed was born. I was either very pregnant or adjusting to a new baby and Bron was stressed to the max with work and school. Now, however, we’ve developed a new “normal” that we’re both very content and happy with. We’re in love. We’re a family. Life is good.

P.S. I hate to say that last part out loud because that means something will change to throw our lives for a loop, but I just can’t keep it to myself right now.

Apple Pie

11.01.2010
3 Delicious Apple Pies

The only semi-interesting thing I did over the Halloween weekend was make my very first apple pie.

I guess my weekend really started Thursday when Bron left to go to a conference. It was just the baby and me for three days. I had all sorts of plans for late night scrapbooking and playing with Jed, but unfortunately, I got a nasty stomach bug. Jed and I ended up hanging out around the house for two days straight; I think he got a little bored. And there was no scrapbooking either. Note to self: Never watch television around Halloween when your husband is gone! I’m already afraid of being alone in our house by myself at night. I know that we live out in the country and that the chances of any burglar or peeping tom slinking around are slim, but I still worry. It doesn’t help that it’s very dark outside and when the heat kicks on all the walls in our home start to click and clank and even bang. (Yeah, we obviously don’t have central heat.) Plus, the last night Bron was gone there was an animal scratching inside the wall directly above my head. There was no way I was sleeping there! I slept in the other room. So between being sick and paranoid and Jed deciding to wake up every hour to play after 3:30AM two nights in a row, it wasn’t the best weekend. Until…

Saturday night. I was feeling much better and the girls were coming over. We ate crepes for dinner, put Jed to bed, and then started baking and talking and talking and talking. Apparently Anna had a little apple pie business in high school and has made hundreds of them! And she was willing to teach Natasha and me her baking secrets. Anna is a great cook and a great teacher. We made three pies. Just thinking about the amount of butter and sugar we put into them makes my arteries clog, but they were extraordinarily tasty! We baked until after 11:00PM. It was so much fun and sooo delicious!

Thanks, ladies, for such an enjoyable evening! I think we should do it again sometime.

Natasha's model hands

Natasha snitching the crumb topping.  Yum!
Anna taking our pies out of the oven.

The finished product!  Three perfect apple pies.

Ready to go home with their hot pies!

P.S. No, Jed didn’t go trick-or-treating this year. I’m a lame mommy. You see, he has no teeth and can’t eat candy. Furthermore, we live too far out for any ghosts and goblins to come knocking on our door. I didn’t see the need to dress him up without any reason. However, I’m really looking forward to next year!