Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gelukkig nieuwjaar

Happy new year! Given the likelihood that we'll be up at 4:00am, we didn't think we could make it to midnight, so we're celebrating Dutch new year! That is, we're celebrating the roll of the year in the timezone of the Netherlands (assuming I've done my time conversions correctly). May everyone have a wonderful year.

Julie, Molly, and Jim

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas trip

We had such a wonderful time visiting family last week. Thanks to a small battalion of neighborhood children we were able to leave the rabbits for an entire week and not worry about them starving or about the snow piling up in the driveway. We are happy to report that the Hannah Montana party, if the pet sitters and the snow removal boy did indeed have one, was cleaned up without a trace.

So we had plenty of time to settle in before Christmas. Jim and I gave ourselves an early gift -- our first night out without Molly since she was born. A little overdue? Uh-huh. We waited until Molly went to sleep (which of course took way longer than usual) then met David and Anna and Kim for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We had SUCH a good time. We gorged ourselves on fried ice cream and sundaes, and we didn't leave until the place was about to close. It was so strange to be wearing something other than PJs at 10 p.m. Jim and I both had our cell phones on the table and were checking them constantly for messages from my mom, who graciously agreed to stay home with Molly, but we needn't have worried. Aside from a little coughing, she didn't make a sound.

Molly's holiday festivities started Christmas Eve with Oma's family party. (I just posted some photos). She stayed up an hour past her usual bedtime but didn't quite make it through the whole party. She really enjoyed meeting Bonnie, her golden retriever cousin -- lots of panting, the baby sign for dog. She also enjoyed opening her gifts and playing with Lucy and the rest of the family.

Talking via Webcam with Luutsen and Annie.

Playing with Grandpa's trains.

Christmas day (see photos here) started with presents at Grammy D's house.

Then we went to Oma's house for presents.

Then we went to the K's for more presents and dinner, then to my mom's family's big party for even yet more dinner and dessert.

Molly was as full of energy at the end of the day as she was at the beginning. We had a hard time getting her to focus on opening gifts, especially at Oma's house. She and Lucy kept wandering off to other rooms and the guys had to go find them and bring them back. At one point somebody set up two chairs to block the hallway. Molly marched right over, pushed one chair down the hall and walked into the blockaded room.

Molly did find the focus to eat tremendous amounts of ice cream, frosting and probably many other naughty things I don't know about.

We had a lot of fun watching her play with her new toys. And of course there was the moment the next day when we noticed that she was surrounded by new toys and what was she playing with? Four used plastic cups and a string of old raffle tickets.

I did a lot better this trip with keeping the right gear on hand wherever we were ... until the last day or two. It was all down hill from the morning at the diner when I realized I needed a bib and didn't have a clean one with me. I realized I had a diaper bag as big as a suitcase and nothing useful in it. The low point was the day we were driving home when Molly woke up from a nap and her diaper had leaked, soaking her clothes. I had no clean clothes to put on her. We ended up putting in the wet clothes in the dryer and taking her to lunch that way, dirty but dry.

Now that we're home I'm trying to reintroduce her to vegetables and catch up on sleep. On that note, time to go to bed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Well, we're back in Ayer after an uneventful drive home. Molly slept the whole way home and we made it in just a hair under 6 hours. Weather and traffic were pretty good, and the house and the bunnies are all intact. We'll have some more details of the trip and some photos in the next few days.

Molly has a big plastic key chain with buttons that play noises and songs ("Blue Car. Yellow House. The wheels on the bus go round and round...") that was wedged under her leg for pretty much the whole drive. Every time she moved or shifted position we'd here a little "honk honk" or snippet of a song. We're all going to have some strange dreams tonight.

Merry Christmas to everyone and have a happy new year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lizard tongue

This is a new little thing Molly does that we call "lizard tongue."

She had her 1-year check-up yesterday and everything looks good. She weighed in at 21 lbs, 3 ounces. She's 31 inches tall (seems a little bit high to me, but whatever) and her head is 18 inches around. She has definitely grown in the past month.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The birthday report

What a great day we had yesterday, from beginning to end.

We started with special birthday pancakes for breakfast. Then David, Anna and Lucy arrived and we ladies went next door for play group. I think the little girls had a good time. Lucy found some good books and a squishy kid chair that she really liked. Molly is finally walking around with all the bigger kids. One of the girls about Lucy's age was in a particularly friendly mood and gave Lucy kisses and hugs. She also tackled Molly with some serious hugging and kissing, and Molly hugged her right back. That was a little strange -- the two little girls rolling around together in my lap. Huh. Maybe it was some special birthday lovin'.

Back at home Molly got in some play time with her uncle and cousin.

Oma and Grandpa arrived with their dog, then Jim came home early from work. Molly took a nice nap while I made her cake. (Blogger is flipping the photo to vertical, which is just as well -- clearly this was not a professional design job).

We had a big lunch, then we played a (totally geeky) Powerpoint slide show I put together with photos of Molly from the past year. Molly got her hand prints all over the TV.

Then we opened gifts. Molly enjoyed each gift so much we had to work really hard to get her to open anything else. She opened this gift from her great grandmother B. first and liked it so much she was ready to call it a day. She carried the outfit around, flopped on top of it on the floor and snuggled it, and got annoyed when we tried to set it aside.

Snuggling it:
We got a video of this really cool toy from Kim:

After presents we sang and helped Molly blow out her candle.
And she dug in.
We carried her straight to the tub, where it took two of us to find the baby (oops, little girl) under all that chocolate glop. She had a great time splashing around while Lucy stood at the side of the tub pointing and saying "duck" and "soap" and "splash" and "nakey."

Once everybody was clean we settled in for some family time.

Around the time Molly usually gets ready for bed we bundled the girls up to take a walk outside and see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood (and shake off the cake-induced sleepiness).

Despite the unusual evening craziness...

our little 1-year-old girl got all cuddly and snuggly with her cousin, then went right to sleep.

Birthday girl

Just a few pictures until I get a chance to write more ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Helpful girl

Molly has been trying to "help" around the house for a long time but lately she has learned to do a few things that really are helpful. The big one is she helps me unload the dishwasher by taking the mugs and plates and bowls out of the racks and handing them to me. We have a video of it that I will post when I get a chance.

Also, she now only walks to the change table when I say "diaper,' she also carries her packaged up dirty diapers (holding my hand, it's so cute) out to the kitchen and drops them in the trash can. She will put my dirty socks in the hamper if I point to the socks and point to the hamper. The other day in the bath she carefully set a bath toy on the ledge where I always set it to drain. (I was amazed she even noticed where it goes!)

Here we are yesterday doing dishes together.

She watches so much cooking in our kitchen, sometimes she likes to try it herself.

Isn't she a silly girl?

We had a rough day today. I think I got food poisoning from something that sat in our 50-degree fridge during the power outage -- not sure what, but I've been suffering. Jim worked from home so he could do things that turned my stomach, such as feeding the baby and changing diapers. I'm feeling better now though, in plenty of time to get ready for Molly's birthday tomorrow and feel all sentimental about snuggling my little baby on the last night before she's officially not a baby anymore. I think she's going to have a good time tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ice storm

Last night around 11 p.m. our power went out. We woke up around 3:30 a.m. to Molly crying, probably because she was cold. The power was still out. At one point Jim came out to the living room and he could hear trees cracking and breaking under the weight of ice.

The power came back around 6 a.m., just as I was snuggling up with Molly to nurse and trying to stop kicking blankets off her chilly feet. The temperature in the house had dropped to 61.

This was the view out our windows:

By the time Jim left for work the roads were fine, the house was warming up and everything seemed to be back to normal. Then around 8 a.m. the power went off again. Hours went by, still no power. It was getting cold in the house again so I packed the baby into the car.

Trees were down everywhere. I could smell pine, even with the car windows closed. Our grocery store was open and some people were shopping, but it was dark inside -- clearly running on a generator -- and a woman appeared to be putting plastic over the refrigerated produce. We drove on to a grocery store farther away that had power. Then we drove around looking for stores that were open (didn't find much) and killing time. The baby fell asleep. When the sun came out it looked as if all the trees were made of glass. Here's a picture I took after we got home.

Around late afternoon we started to worry we were facing an even colder night in the house with no heat. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power. The radio reports said it probably wouldn't be back in a lot of places until Monday.

We booked a hotel room. It was getting dark by the time Jim got home and we used flashlights to finish packing and shutting off the utilities. (Molly had a good time toddling around with a flashlight). The car was loaded and we were just about to go out the door when Jim noticed that one house down the hill had lights on. Then he noticed another and another. He went downstairs to turn our power back on and it worked! We heard one of our neighbors cheering down the street.

So that was our exciting day. The lesson? We need to stop talking about buying a generator and actually buy one. At least Molly didn't seem to be bothered by the whole experience. Of course, we didn't actually have to leave the house. Big sigh of relief!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cranky pants

Did I mention that Molly screams?

Along with the dramatic highs lately we're getting some dramatic lows. She'll be playing quietly by herself and out of nowhere she'll scream as if she pinched her finger in a door. I run over, only to find she's angry because she can't pick up something off the floor.

She also shrieks in the car a lot lately. It's shrill and no amount of sweet talk or tossing toys to her can make it stop. On our Thanksgiving trip, sometimes singing "Old MacDonald" magically helped (no other song!).

Yesterday she got into a mood where she shrieked whenever I put her down, then stood at my knees crying and shrieking until I picked her up again. She's had a cold all week and seemed to be having a particularly rough time with it yesterday, so I'm sure that was a factor. I tried to carry her as much as possible, but she likes to reach out to "help" in the kitchen, which results in a lot of spills and frantic hand washing (she put her whole palm in almond butter last night -- ugh!!!)

"Who, me?" she says.

In the brief moments when she isn't shrieking, Molly has been cracking us up with a little comedy routine she's testing out. She puts pants on her head (too much "Blue Hat, Green Hat" maybe? Ooops!). We've seen this one many times now and it still gets a laugh.

OK, I should be napping during her nap. Jim and I were up in the wee hours of the morning again with her today for the second night in a row. So tired ....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Special visitor

Sinterklaas appeared magically at our house overnight. (See Wikipedia for a little history on the original Dutch santa). When we woke up this morning, look at all the stuff he left beside Molly's wooden shoes.

We've been having such a great time this week. Molly is becoming a little person, and such a delightful one! A couple nights ago we discovered that she understands the word "head." If you say "Where is Molly's head?" she puts her hand on her head. We taught her toes and feet, too, and now it's so much fun to tell her the names of things because anything could be next. She also knows what "diaper" means and will walk me down the hall to her room and lie down on the changing pad. Then she remembers she doesn't like diaper changes and crawls away. It's really funny.
She's using the sign for "all done" now (waving her hands around). She also seems to have her own language of signs for which we cannot figure out the meaning, much to her frustration. She does one where she pokes her index finger into her opposite palm. The book says this is one way to sign "more." However, it is not the way we taught her. I have no idea what she thinks it means. She also does a sign where she pats her open hands on her chest and the other day she was rubbing her hair forward on her head in a way that looked like a sign. She looks at us like we're pretty slow when we don't know what she's saying.
Her cuddling has reached new heights of cute this week, too. She has this little routine where she flops on her belly on the floor, lays her head down and kicks her feet. She
gfhjjkklgrdrddrbn (that was the girl, now she's doing a funny little knee-bend dance on the kitchen floor)
She hugs us around the neck and gives big kisses. She cuddles her stuffed animals.
She's also working very hard to rearrange the house. It's as if she's been looking at all the poorly placed stuff for her entire life and finally she can walk around with stuff in her arms and put it where she wants it. She brings dirty socks into the kitchen, toys into our bedroom, plastic container lids into the bathroom. Don't even ask me where her shoes are. The other day I put mismatched shoes on her feet to go for a walk because I couldn't find a pair.

Speaking of walks, it's been a little warmer this week so we went outside a few times so she could toddle around.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving break

We're back! We had a wonderful trip to see family for the holidays. We drove in the evening this time and Molly slept the entire way both directions. It was the fastest we've ever done the trip since the baby arrived. (I can still call her a baby for two more weeks, right?)

We're still decompressing today, but here are a few photos from the week.

Molly at the children's museum (for a video of Molly there, go to Anna's blog:

Molly eating jelly at the diner (I shudder to think how much jelly she consumed this week).

Molly dancing with her great grandmother to Christmas music. (She started dancing a few weeks ago. She doesn't do it on command, but if a song moves her you look over and see her bopping.)

Molly eating Thanksgiving dinner. The squash was her favorite.

Lucy giving Molly some water. So helpful!

I wish I took more pictures. There was the great moment at the diner when Jim had Molly and Lucy both in his arms bouncing around and cracking up. There was Black Friday shopping -- Molly and I made it through until about 3! Molly went down a slide for the first time at the children's museum and loved it. What a great place that is! She and Lucy hugged each other, swatted at each other, played together and did so many cute things that I can't remember them all. Molly stuck her hands in my Thanksgiving pie Cool Whip and in my hot cocoa's whipped cream. She also learned baby signs for dog and cat (she was really into the cats at her grandparents' houses this week). Whew!

One thing we missed was the trip into see Nan, but we hear she got our blogs set up on her computer so big hugs and kisses for Nan!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More walking

Molly stopped nursing today just long enough to practice a little walking ...

Isn't she getting better?

Here's a shot from today. She's been playing with empty spice containers. She was having a good time with paprika.

Here's one from yesterday. It was really cold out and we were going to walk to play group, so I put Molly in the baby wrap and then zipped her into my coat.

Monday, November 17, 2008

@!$#@$-in' baby signs!!

You know what happens when a baby learns to make the sign for "milk?" Mommy doesn't get out of the nursing chair for two days straight. When Mommy says "but you just had milk, lets play with this toy instead," baby makes the "milk" sign furiously with both hands and screams. When baby falls asleep nursing and gets fussy about being moved to her crib, she makes the "milk" sign with both hands and screams and wakes herself up. I am frantically trying to get her to learn the signs for other things -- eat, drink, baby, book -- but all she wants is milk. Half way through her meals she pushes at her tray and then reaches out her hands toward me and makes the "milk" sign.

I've created a monster!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Baby signs

A few mornings ago I was sitting with Molly in the rocking chair around 5 a.m. wondering if I should nurse her or try to get her back to sleep without nursing. I looked down in the dark and could just barely see her opening and closing her fists, the baby sign I've been using for nursing.

Let me put this in context. I've been making baby signs at Molly since she turned 6 months old and she has never clearly signed anything back. She understands the signs somewhat (if she's crying and I sign "milk," she calms down, if she's fussy in the high-chair and I say and sign "all done," she grabs the rim of the tray and pushes it away), but I have to admit I was losing interest in this whole thing and forgetting to do most of them. Then about a week ago she started doing the "milk" sign when she was lying on the nursing pillow -- not asking to nurse, but kind of commenting on what we were doing.

Since that morning in the dark when she used it as a request, she's been experimenting with the "milk" sign. Today she was really testing it out. She nursed, got down and played for a few minutes, then looked up at me and made the sign again. She seemed surprised and delighted when I reached for the Boppy and pulled her back up into my chair. She still doesn't use the sign most of the time (she uses her old sign -- crying and slobbering on my shoulder), but now when I show it to her she signs back. It's amazing how quickly she's becoming a little person who can communicate.

Her other big thing this evening was pointing. She now points at things and grunts, apparently demanding that you bring the object to her immediately. Usually it's something she can't have, like grown-up books or electronics or tissue paper. Tonight in the bathtub she kept pointing at the lever that drains the tub and whining. She also pointed at her floating bath toys, so I brought each one within her reach (the beauty of her bath seat is that it keeps her in one place -- shhh, don't tell her she could escape!), then she let them float away and pointed again for me to bring them back. Hmmm. I don't like where this is going.

I don't know why I started with these little stories. The big news this week was that Oma and Grandpa made a spontaneous, last-minute, one-night visit to see Molly. She was overjoyed. She doesn't take time to warm up to people anymore (including waitresses, my former coworker and random moms at play group) so she was immediately basking in the attention. We went to the children's room at our town's library and Molly had such a good time. It's full of toys. She got to play with puzzles and a bead toy, and also flirt with an older boy who was playing with trains.

She was in an adorable, snuggly mood today after all the grandparent-love. I'm glad Thanksgiving is coming up so we can see everybody! It seems like a long time since we were home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spicy baby

The other night at dinner Molly seemed to be begging for mustard so Jim put a tiny dab on his finger and let her taste it. We braced ourselves for a funny reaction but got nothing. She ate it and asked for more. I think this is what emboldened me the next day to let her try the spicy Indian beef that I was eating for lunch (homemade by Jim). She ate a little piece and wanted more. It was fabulous!! I gave her as much as I dared. She loved it. That made us so proud.

We're also excited about the way she has figured out how to make us do stuff for her. If you push a button on a toy and she tries to do the same thing and can't do it herself, she grabs your finger and puts it on the button. She's into small containers lately and often she can snap a container closed but can't open it, so she holds the closed container out to you or drops it in your lap to get you to open it for her. I could see this getting annoying down the road, but right now it's such a fun game!

Also, she's started doing things on purpose to make us laugh, or more accurately, to get us to continue laughing. I first noticed it the other night when we were reading "Touch and Feel Farm" together. She touched each textured spot with her fingers, as usual, until we got to the last page. Instead of touching the pig's spongy nose with her fingers, for some reason she leaned forward and oh so delicately touched it with her mouth. I laughed. She paused, then did the exact same motion again. I laughed at that. She paused, then leaned in for another lick. As long as I kept laughing, she kept licking.

Here she is in a more serious moment, sitting in the front window yesterday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some videos

First, some from from Halloween night. This is Molly's blanket ride.

Now for some walking videos. We've been trying really hard to get a good one but it's hard to predict when she's going to take more than a few steps.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We didn't get any photos, but this morning Molly went to the voting booth for the first time.

We went all together as a family and were at town hall about 10 minutes before the polls opened. There was a line out the building. Everybody was patient and civil, and the line moved quickly.

In Massachusetts they give each voter a paper ballot and walk over to stand at a cubicle in a row of cubicles to fill in bubbles with a black marker. Then you have to check out by giving your address again and they put your ballot into a scanner box.

This is a little more challenging with a baby than going into a booth with levers. Molly was grabbing at my marker and made a little stray mark on one of my votes for local election (I hope the scan machine is forgiving). She also tried pulling stuff off the cubicle wall and, my favorite, grabbing the cubicle wall and peeking around to the guy voting in the cubicle next to us. She was one of many babies there, though, and we made it out of there without causing any disasters.

Now Molly's asleep and I'm glued to the computer watching for results. Yay!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


First the breaking news. Molly just took eight steps!!! She didn't even fall at the end. Jim and I were sitting in the living room talking and she just took one tiny step after another across the floor. I think my counting distracted her. She turned around to look at me and then plopped down. Wow. I can't believe that just happened.

Anyway, Halloween.
We never got Molly fully into her costume because, as we came to realize, she's a baby. Babies don't like putting strange things on their heads that they don't understand, let alone entire costumes. She did keep the sock monkey hat on longer than she keeps sun hat on, though, so that was fun. Here's our monkey in a cage (aka at the top of the steps behind the baby gate).

Jim volunteered for baby duty last night and I worked the door. We started with about 160 pieces of candy and, for the first time ever, had to turn off the lights before the official 8 p.m. end of trick-or-treat because we ran out. It was only five minutes early, but it was still unusual.

We're both really suffering because there was no left-over candy. We've never had this problem before. Usually we eat ourselves sick on Halloween and then have to unload all the rest on our coworkers. Last night we were like zombies, walking around the kitchen opening cupboards and moaning that we wanted candy. It's for the best in the long run, but I can't help but wonder if we should have forced the baby into her monkey suit and walked door-to-door just so we could raid her stash. Maybe next year.

The highlight of the evening for Molly, aside from seeing all the kids at the door, was playing with the tag on her unworn costume.

She also had some serious play time with her daddy, including blanket rides, a bath and some other weird stuff.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chuck E. Cheese

Yesterday morning Molly was in a cranky mood.

Fortunately, we had plans to go play at Chuck E. Cheese with Lex and Eve. I threw her in the car, she napped, and when we got there her mood improved tremendously.

What a great place, even for tiny little kids! No ball crawl or weird singing dog Elvis like I remember from childhood, but they had all kinds of rides and games, and even a toddler area. More importantly, I could put Molly on the floor and let her crawl around. There really aren't many public places where a baby can roam freely before she knows how to walk, so that was cool.

Here are Lex and Eve on a ride.

Eve tried a bunch of rides, while Lex explored a tunnel system way over our heads.

Meanwhile, Molly fell in love with Tessa and wouldn't let her go, except to play a little game of "Let me down, just kidding, pick me up again."

That was a good thing because when she was down crawling around she did, at one point, rub her palm on the floor and then give it a big lick. That tongue just has a mind of its own.

Molly crashed on the way home. I think she's bored with me already today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lots of little firsts

Molly is definitely getting her first tooth. Daddy confirmed it. It's a sharp little thing. I'd like to think that explains why her sleep has been so off for the past week or two. She's been drooling and chewing on her tongue. Since it cut through she had one amazing night when she slept 10 1/2 hours straight, 6:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.! Maybe we've turned a corner, at least until her next cold or tooth.

Another big first this week was I trimmed Molly's bangs for the first time. She's not a fan of holding still, especially if I have something interesting in my hands like scissors, so they're really uneven. It looks much better than hair in her eyes, though.

Also, we installed Molly's convertible car seat in the car last Sunday so she had her first big girl rides this week (still rear-facing, but she's got more room). The drawback is we can no longer carry her into the house in her car seat and set it down on the nursery floor to let her continue her nap. She could sleep for hours like that. Now I have to unbuckle her and carry her in. I tried it once this week and failed miserably. She was wide awake by the time we reached her room. Ah, well. We kept her in that infant car seat way longer than I thought we would. It's sad to see it go. Jim says we should save that sentiment for her first day of kindergarten. It's not worth feeling sad about every little thing she outgrows. Good point.

On the walking front, Molly takes a step every two or three days. She spent a week or two practicing squatting and standing back up without holding onto anything. She is also working on standing up from one knee. Her balance has gotten much better. It's still pretty weird to look across the room and see her standing in the middle of the floor with no furniture around, just playing with toys in her hands as if she's always known how to stand on her own.

Here are some other shots from today.

We had fun playing around the house.

Molly is really into broccoli lately. She stuffs it into her mouth by the handful. She's also really into apples and pears (peeled, diced and softened in the microwave). She had chicken this week, which was her first meat. The diapers aren't as bad as I feared ... yet. She didn't really eat very much.

OK, now I'm just procrastinating. Our dishwasher died a week or two ago and I've been spending at least a half hour every night after the baby goes to bed washing dishes by hand. We ordered a new dishwasher this weekend but it won't be here for another week and a half. Ugh!!!