Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post-Hurricane Irene 2011

In one week, James had his first earthquake and his first hurricane.  Though technically, by the time it reached us, Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm.  James was less well-behaved for the hurricane than he was for the earthquake.

Even though Hurricane Irene didn't reach Long Island until sometime around 9 a.m. on Sunday, the strong winds that had began Saturday evening.  We took the air conditioners out of the windows sealed everything tight and kept the fans circulating air until we lost power at 3 a.m. Sunday morning.  Most people wouldn't even notice losing power at that hour but I got up with the baby several times that evening.  He had a sleepover with us in our room in his play and pack, so that in case there was some damage to the house, he would be in rescuing distance.  I kept looking out the window all night and it was strangely eerie, almost how I would expect a movie to depict the time before a tornado.  That's why at 5 a.m. when I got a phone call that there was a tornado watch, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Thankfully, there was no tornado.

Hurricane Irene 2011
A tree in our neighborhood didn't make it

Without power and thus no air conditions or fans it was hot hot hot. My guess was that it was quite comfortable outside but we didn't dare go outside or open any windows until we were certain everything was over. I think we were more cautious than we would have been if not for the baby.  Thank goodness for the battery pack on the breastmilk pump, since James refuses to breastfeed, and going cold turkey on feeding/pumping can result in mastitis and other medical complications.  We had no news of the hurricane except for some limited lookups on Kevin's phone because we didn't want to use up the power. We didn't know how long we'd be without electricity, so we tried to not even open the refrigerator. We had cranked the cooling up to high the night before because we were expecting to lose power and wanted to keep the food as cold as possible.  Luckily we had power back on by dinner time so we were able to make a hot dinner. Sadly, we lost power again RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JERSEY SHORE. So sad. So terribly sad.

We were lucky though because many homes in Long Island still don't have power.  In retrospect, I wish we had had this emergency radio so we would have known what was going on outside.  In a more serious emergency, or a longer one, relying on one cell phone would have been unideal.  Also, I didn't know the time all day. That's a minor issue, but one that a cheap wristwatch would have cured. (When  did everyone stop wearing watches? Definitely in the last decade.) Finally, I wish I'd made some food in advance that we would have been happy to eat for dinner if we hadn't gotten the power back. We had sensible hurricane supplies like milk, bread, cold cuts, and peanut butter (and of course wine and beer) but really none of that sounded appealing for dinner.  Next time I'd make or order some food the day before that works well as cold leftovers.

Hurricane Irene 2011
Tree close-up

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Things My Wife Complains About #19: My Complaining

The other day my wife, without the faintest sense of self-awareness, said she was so tired of hearing me complain. This would be a little like Ahab telling his wife he's tired of her obsessing.

Understand that we carefully worked out a system, which neither of us follow, where she's free to complain, so long as she doesn't complain about me. In this instance, I was boldly complaining about some complaint that wasn't specific to me, though here my wife and I enter into philosophical disagreement. Consider the following statement:

"I can't believe you didn't make two bottles!"

To my wife, this isn't a complaint about me. It's an observation, or perhaps an expression of surprise. Possibly, it's a complaint about the nature of bottle making. When I point out that she asked me to make "a bottle," I'm accused of complaining about her complaining. Then my meta-complaint is met by the following question:

"Do we even have the same son?"

This is also not a complaint. It's an honest inquiry, or maybe a meditation on experience versus reality. At worst, it's a bit of humor designed to defuse the high-stakes game of bottle preparation. My wife stocks bottles of formula like she's preparing for Simulac armageddon. When I watch James, I only make a bottle if he's hungry, a practice so barbarous it's a wonder social services allow me to live at home.

At this point, I'm done meta-complaining. I say that, to the best of my knowledge, we do have the same son, who immediately commences screaming for seven thousand hours.

Possible Solutions!
1) Complain about her complaining about my complaining about her complaining
2) Insert James into the middle of the complaints, assuring he grows up to resent us both
3) Vow of silence (hard)

James at 15 weeks + 6 days 2011

Hurricane Irene is Coming 2011

Hurricane Irene is Coming 2011

It's only raining a little bit right now, but we've been watching the progress of Hurricane Irene all day. We did the mandatory beer and wine shopping, and Kevin took out our air conditioners to seal the windows. I even vacuumed because I won't be able to if we lose the power, which will almost definitely happen since we've lost power in much smaller storms. We survived Hurricane James today (he was screaming all day from teething and took no naps), and he is now peacefully asleep in our room, so we can watch him during the storm.

Irene is scheduled to go directly over our town with 67-74 mile per hour winds. Nonetheless, we're not in an evacuation zone, so we're comfy on the couch with our aforementioned beer and wine. We have friends in similar situations in New York City, who aren't in evacuation zones, but are close to them, or close to the water, so we're hoping things go relatively smoothly for everyone. Especially since New York public transit was shut at noon today, so moving around once the storm begins isn't going to be possible. Not that getting on an underground subway was really going to work in torrential rains anyway. When we lived in Brooklyn, our subway stop would flood in the lightest drizzle.

Anyway, since we're bound to lose power, I'm going to leave you with one of Kevin's posts, in case we're offline for a few days. Stay tuned for the next post.

Hurricane Irene is Coming 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

James is 4 Months Old 2011

Cape Cod- August 2011
Posing for the month shot with grandma

James turned four months old on Saturday and 18 weeks the following Wednesday. He had his checkup on Thursday and he measured 26.5 inches, and weighed just over 16 pounds. Once again, he showed no signs of reacting badly to the vaccines, or maybe he was grumpy but we didn't notice because he's always grumpy.  He had a little streak of sleeping for 5 hours in the right spot at night, approximately between 11:30 p.m. and 4 a.m., but that's over now and he's back to waking up every 3 hours.

Cape Cod- August 2011
I'm a model, if you know what I mean

Except for his teething, and his nap-fighting, he's often an agreeable little guy.  He can entertain himself for long stretches by hopping around in his jumperoo and spinning the rattles on it.  Or he lies on his back and punches at the stuff hanging off his activity center.  Occasionally, he wrangles objects into his mouth.  All of this requires that you sit there staring at him so that he doesn't get anxious and fear that you've abandoned him, so it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say he is engaging in independent play at this point.

James at 17 weeks + 5 days 2011
New trick: putting his foot in his mouth

Favorite toys: His feet!, his crinkling teething elephant, his orange monster, his teething giraffe, and textured blankets.

Favorite songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider and Agony from Into the Woods are by far his favorites.  They make him giggle, and sometimes he tries to sing along to the latter.  He also enjoys Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Billy Jean, and Break My Stride. To be fair, this bad selection is not James's fault.  It not like he chose these himself off Pandora. There's just a very small universe of songs for which I know most of the words, and almost none for which I know all of the words. Kevin does try to expose him to decent Indie music, but most of that happens when I'm not on the James shift. I use that time almost exclusively for napping so I can't report on which of those songs he likes.

James at 17 weeks + 6 days 2011
Not phased by the earthquake, but troubled by teething

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Changes, Tectonic and Otherwise 2011

Tuesday was my last day of maternity leave and my last day with my law firm. I went into the office to sort out a few things with human resources. It was a little bitter sweet. I started working there in September of 2008, but since I also summered there in 2007, I've had a relationship with many of the people there for four years (some, whom I went to law school with, for even longer). I hope to stay in touch with some people, but everyone there is so busy that I'm not sure to what extent that will happen. My plan is to stay home with the baby for a little while and then find a slightly more family-friendly job.

Passed the NY Bar!
With coworkers Victoria and Brian after passing the NY Bar in 2008

On my way back home from the office there was a 5.9 earthquake in Mineral, Virginia, that was felt in New York, and as far up north as Massachusetts. My friend Sarah in Virginia said her whole house rolled for what felt like quite a while. In New York everyone felt shaking and buildings swaying.

Except James and me. We felt nothing at all.

I was underground in Penn Station, and good news-- it's a total fortress. Not one solitary brick moved. The trains didn't even rattle a bit. I only knew an earthquake had taken place because the conversation around me changed from the imminent ten-year anniversary of September 11th to reports of an earthquake in Virginia, and the possible delay of trains while engineers in New York checked the Long Island Rail Road tunnels for aftershock damage. We were only delayed 10 minutes, so my guess is that it wasn't a very thorough check.

James was home on Long Island with Kevin. As Kevin said, "James, who wakes up when a bird flies past the window, slept through his first earthquake." Kevin grabbed him and got under the doorframe in our living room while James continued to snooze peacefully.

James at 17 weeks + 1 day 2011
James place-holder photo, to be changed after I get photos from my camera ;)

[Update: Decided to keep photo since Michele liked it. Check the next post for a post-earthquake shot.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meeting Scott and Lisa's Family 2011

One of the things we did on the Cape on this visit that we enjoyed most was to spend some time with Kevin's cousin Scott and his lovely family. Scott is his cousin on his father's side, and though Kevin grew up with them, Scott was a bit older than Kevin so they were never really doing the same things.  Kevin hadn't seen Scott in many years, and I had never met him or his family.  It's funny how family can be though, we got along like we'd always known each other and had a great time.  We spent the afternoon playing with the kids, sitting on the sand, and swimming and jetsking around the pond.  Believe it or not, Kevin and Marlene were the only ones to drive the jet ski and Scott, Kathy, and I rode on the back in turns.

Cape Cod- August 2011
Group photo! Getting three kids into a photo is like herding cats!

Cape Cod- August 2011
Jack and Kevin playing catch

Cape Cod- August 2011
Marlene and Jack make friends with Ellen

Cape Cod- August 2011
James with Auntie Lisa

Cape Cod- August 2011
Marlene looked for crabs all afternoon

Cape Cod- August 2011
Kevin and me, swimming in the pond

Cape Cod- August 2011
Jet-skiing grandma!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cape Cod- August 2011

This post might cause you to suffer from picture-overload (cute-overload?), but I just couldn't leave anyone out. It's like James is a famous person, and everyone needs his or her photo with him! Okay, I admit, these photos are mostly at my request.

Cape Cod- August 2011
Visiting Great Grandma Catherine again, but James is so much bigger now!

Cape Cod- August 2011
Our family

Cape Cod- August 2011
James, you are right to be suspicious of Nomar's cute tricks

Cape Cod- August 2011
With Great Aunt Nesie

Cape Cod- August 2011
Flirting with an older woman (looks like it's working)


Cape Cod- August 2011
With Great Uncle George (and his Red Sox infant bodysuit)

Cape Cod- August 2011
With Great Aunt Fran on the beach

Cape Cod- August 2011
Enjoying a little beach snooze

Cape Cod- August 2011
Kiss attack from Grandma

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Girls' Nights- August 2011

Group photos of two recent nights out with the girls. For the record, Kevin goes out regularly with his guy friends but he doesn't document everything he does with photography.  Go figure.

Girls' Night - August 2011
Getting Cuban food at Copellia in Chelsea- Michele, Christina, me, Rachel, Sarah T

  Girls' Night- August 2011
Mexican food at Cancun with the ladies from work- Adrienne, Christie, Akua, and me

Roger and Lina Are Engaged! 2011

Roger proposed to Lina last weekend!

Fourth of July 2009
Lina and Roger have fireworks! 2009

My friend Roger and I have been through a lot. We met each other at a UVA Law event in June of 2005 before we started law school. In August, when we started classes we were assigned to the same section which cemented that we would at least know each other for a while. Pretty soon we had the same little group of friends and we were all getting together after law school parties to gossip or on lazy Sundays to play board games. But I think Roger and I didn't really become good friends until I started dating Kevin. I believe Roger said something like, "If you marry Kevin, I think you and I will be lifelong friends." Thanks, buddy! Haha. There were another four years of friendship before he proposed Lina, wherein we did things like study for the bar together in Charlottesville. This was extremely traumatic. We even took the bar together in Albany, New York, which is pretty much the only reason you would ever want to go to Albany.

But now that he's marrying Lina, I'm persuaded that we should be lifelong friends. (Just kidding, Roger, you were already "in.") For one thing, James and I need more Hispanic friends that speak Spanish. For another, anyone I can comfortably hang out and do nothing with (read: rewatch a million episodes of Lost) fits right in with the rest of my girlfriends.

I hope Roger realizes how lucky he is. When he and Lina were hiking in the woods one day they encountered a bear. Roger is six feet tall and Lina is about five feet tall. While Roger stood surprised, Lina darted in front of him and threw up her arms ("got big") to scare off the bear. Not only is Lina a tough cookie of the best sort, that's a seriously hard-core show of love. Roger is doing his best to live up to it by learning to speak Spanish.

Congratulations, Roger and Lina! And let the 2012 wedding season begin!

Burke Wedding 2010
At Donald and Sarah's Wedding 2010

U.S. Space & Rocket Center 2010
At the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama 2010

New Year's Eve 2010 --> 2011
New Year's Eve 2010 -- 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

James is 16 Weeks 2011

James is growing fast! He's been a little better recently. He still complains a lot if he doesn't have constant attention, but either I've figured him out now, or he no longer cries for no reason. If he's crying he's either hungry, tired, or teething. And he still loves his jumperoo, so that gives him something to do that doesn't involve my sore back. Although he still likes for either me or Kevin to sit in front of the jumperoo and stare at him while he jumps. He's a total attention ham. The plus side of this is he loves photos. I mean look at this big hammy smile. I love it.

James at 14 weeks + 6 days 2011
James at 14 weeks + 6 days

Unfortunately, James has recently made some decisions of which I don't approve. It doesn't bode well for adolescence. He has decided that consonants are passé. He stopped cooing and now makes these lengthy vowel sounds that seem to mimic the sing-songiness of conversation without any consonants or, you know, words.

Me: Hello, James. How are you today?
James: Ah-oooo. Anh. Eeeooo. Oo-oo-oo.

I keep telling him I want the consonants back and sometimes he growls in response. I do sometimes hear him making a rolling rr sound. I'm not sure if this is a normal baby thing or if he's trying to imitate my Spanish. It's pretty awesome though.

[TMI warning.] The other decision he made was that he wasn't going to breastfeed anymore. He made this decision after his three month shots. The shots weren't necessarily to blame, as we also spent the night in North Fork the night he stopped, so maybe he was freaked out by a new location and never resumed? Or most likely, his teething is getting in the way. I still try sometimes but not with much success. It's been annoying to pump all the time, but it's interesting how little milk I was making-- it's doubled since I've been just pumping, but it's still not enough to completely keep him off formula. (Why did I ever give him a bottle?!) We're thinking about introducing food at the four-month mark. The pediatrician says it will not help him sleep through the night, but I'm not convinced. It doesn't sound true. He wakes up to eat; ergo, if he's full, he won't wake up, right?

James at 15 weeks + 2 days 2011
James's usual sleeping position

James at 15 weeks + 3 days 2011
Napping on our bed

Isn't he the absolute cutest when he's asleep? I go and stare at him when he's asleep sometimes, and my heart swells. It's all I can do not to pick up and risk waking him. And at night when he wakes up, I feed him, and when he falls back asleep sometimes I linger too long to justify just holding him. Also the smell on the top of his head is intoxicating. Kevin doesn't smell the same scent as me, and I'm starting to suspect it's a momma-baby link only. I seriously feel a little dizzy (in a good way) when I sniff his hair.

James at 15 weeks + 5 days 2011
Repeating an outfit on the blog for Nana's sake (15 weeks + 5 days)

James at 15 weeks + 6 days 2011
I am cute. Deal with it. (15 weeks + 6 days)

James is getting good at grabbing things. He often pulls his pacifier out and sometimes manages to put it back in the right way. Other times, he stabs his cheeks with it. He can clasp his own hands together. He frequently reaches for toys, especially his favorite toy--his feet. I'm not kidding. The other day he woke up for the day but then spent another hour in his crib happily playing with his feet while his very grateful parents slept. We might now be entering the period of time where his new skills are not just praise-worthy but also a threat to the peace. He has twice grabbed Kevin's glasses right off his face and put them in his mouth. And I take so many pictures... that I accidentally caught him the second time.

James at 16 weeks + 3 days 2011
Looking innocent (16 weeks + 3 days)

James at 16 weeks + 3 days 2011
James is so sneaky, he doesn't even look at the glasses before making a grab.

James at 16 weeks + 3 days 2011
And straight into his mouth. Well done.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

James Visits New Jersey- August 2011

James recently took a little scream-filled ride to New Jersey to visit his great-grandmother Daisy. (Side note: Recently it has occurred to me that she might spell it Daysi. I always assumed it was spelled the English way. Like many Hispanic people she goes by her middle name, so I never see it in writing.) She fed us an enormous and delicious lunch of ribs, plantains, and moro (black beans and rice). My brother David stopped by to visit with James as well. They seem to get along well, except that James is a Red Sox fan who watches every single game with his father at 5 a.m. in the morning, and David is a Yankees fan.

James Visits New Jersey 2011
With his great-grandmother Daisy or "Abuelita" to me

James Visits New Jersey 2011
Taking a little nap on Abuelita's super-girly bed

James Visits New Jersey 2011
With his Uncle David

After, we went to my mother's place so that her friends Onel and Tania could meet James. Onel is one of my favorite people ever since he was extremely supportive of my parents when my dad was sick last year. Onel and Tania live in Pennsylvania, far-out, and Onel has a very demanding job, but he still came to see my father a number of times. He would come to the hospital and find us in any room where we had been moved. My dad was always happy to see him. It got to the point where I half expected him to show up at the hospital when I was there having James. But I guess he decided I might prefer privacy. Ha! He is always welcome anywhere he wants to be when it comes to my family.

James Visits New Jersey 2011
Posing for Arelys's camera phone picture

James Visits New Jersey 2011
Holding on to Onel's finger (with Onel and Tania)

James Visits New Jersey 2011
Trying to subtly move into biting down on Onel's hand (teething issues)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Five Years Since We Met 2011

On Saturday, Kevin and I celebrated five years since we first met at a coffee shop in Charlottesville called Mudhouse. I know that by now we should only be celebrating our wedding anniversary, but I can't quite let that day go.

I was terrifically excited about dating him by our second date. I once asked Kevin when he first "knew" and he said it was our sixth date (just 18 days after we met) when I volunteered to give blood with him and then almost passed out while donating. He took me back to my place and asked me to be his girlfriend. A little more than a month after we met, we exchanged I love yous. I had been waiting impatiently for him to say it first.

UVA v. Pittsburgh Football 2006
The day before Kevin said I love you. Yes, I am making "jazz hands"

We had been dating just under four months when we spent our first Thanksgiving together with his mother and brother. (I often tell the story of how the first words out of his mother's mouth when we first met were to ask me if I wanted children!) We were engaged by the following Thanksgiving in 2007.

Sherando Lake 2006
Hiking the day after Thanksgiving 2006

What's the point of all this? I have a lot of friends I've heard wonder out loud how you know when you found the one. When I was single I often wondered this myself, and I was super frustrated by married people answering, "you just know." It sounded phony. It sounded like they couldn't think of a single redeeming quality about their significant other, or that they had chosen their partner pretty much at random. But when I dated Kevin I suddenly understood. The way you know is that for the first time, you feel confident that this is the person you choose to love. It's the confidence that distinguishes it from your other relationships. In other words, you know because for the first time you don't "think," you "know." That's why people say they "just know." I know it so hard that my only confusion is why every woman isn't also in love with Kevin. Maybe they just don't realize what I have going here.

And here is the gratuitous photo of James (on the five year anniversary of when we met):

James at 14 weeks + 3 days 2011
He would be waving if he knew how to wave.
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