I know what you're thinking: these people are crazy. Yep. After the last roadtrip, James was sick for a week and started waking up an hour earlier every single morning. The only defenses I have are that this trip will be much shorter, we got him a new bigger comfier car seat to make the driving more pleasant, and that there's another wedding celebration involved. We try really hard not to miss weddings. So far, only Massachusetts and Maine are on the itinerary, but we'll see.
Here's a fun dose of irony, thanks to our friends Wendy and Clark. They sent this cute outfit for James's birthday in response to our Southest Roadtrip blog posts.
I hear the following frequently, "I was going to bring my camera, but then I figured Ericka was going to be there, so I left it at home." Well, sometimes I have a camera issue. Kevin got me a battery pack to modify my existing camera model because I complained that my battery is too slow at weddings to catch all the moments I want to catch. It's part of my evolving amateur photography. Well, the battery pack has been wonderful except that unlike my old 1-battery-at-time system, the camera doesn't slow down to warn me when the batteries are dying. That's the whole point right? So Saturday when we arrived in Harlem for dinosaur BBQ I tried to get some shots of the area before we went in to the restaurant-- and my camera was totally dead. On the bright side, we had Kevin's phone to take photos with, but I only believe in that form of memory-capture in extreme emergencies such as this one.
Jon, Becky, and Kevin
Dinner was great. I got the pulled pork, and Kevin got basically everything because I want him to gain back the weight that he lost on my post-pregnancy diet. Kevin and I can't help rating BBQ now, so we gave it a B+ which is a very strong grade for not even being in the South. The mac and cheese's crust was sublime and it was the best I've had in a long time. I also felt compelled to eat the Oreo pie abomination. It was delicious but I seriously felt sick afterwards from all the sugar. Oops. I don't know what the men were talking about because Sarah and I spent most of the time bombarding Becky with mother-to-be questions.
Me, Sarah, and Lukas
After dinner we spent a little time walking along the West Harlem Piers Park. It was nice to get a little air and the view is actually pretty.
Both of James's grandmothers try to visit him every month, but since we were gone most of May on our roadtrip, last weekend was the first time James has seen either of his grandmothers since his birthday party at the end of April. James was super excited to see Nana. We went to the park and then Nana babysat while we went out with Kevin's friends for... more BBQ. More on our BBQ addiction in another post.
Playing peekaboo with Nana at the park
Yep, I ran around like a crazy person to get the other angle
Sometimes it's handy to be short
Somebody loves the swing
Making faces at Nana
We had a lot of fun, but Nana had to leave early when we were hit with our first blackout of the summer. No one should risk a night with no air conditioning in our super-hot guest room!
For family and friends who ask, James is wearing 18-month clothing. James is 32 inches tall now, and his reach is much higher than that so we have to place things quite high up to keep them out of his little sticky hands. He's got his 8 front teeth, a molar, and a second molar coming.
Check out my teeth!
I'm most obsessed with James's language skills or lack thereof. He does not, as previously reported, say "leche," the Spanish word for milk. Or he did and he stopped. He does say "mama," by which I think he means milk, not me. He says "da-T" and he probably actually means Kevin. He often tries to repeats things we say. This is happening more and more and we get pretty excited when he does it, but there's no indication he means anything by it. On the other hand, a couple of days ago I said the word light in Spanish and he pointed up at the ceiling light.
Why do I need to talk when I get everything I want through cuteness?
He gives smoochy kisses finally and I collect as many as possible. He's a very affectionate baby and he's not above giving kisses to strangers. He loves dancing especially to the music on his two favorite television shows, Diego and Fraggle Rock. He stomps his feet like he's Irish step-dancing, then he drops his booty like it's hot. His favorite non-cartoon songs are currently Nicki Minaj's "Starship," and Adele's "Rumor Has It." He's also very savvy with technology. He constantly tries to type on our laptops, and he likes to face chat with his Grandma Kathy and his Great-grandma Ruth.
He blows kisses too
Face-chatting with Grandma Kathy
Now that we let him eat a lot of finger food on his own (other moms clued me in that I was waiting longer than usual to let him eat by himself) he expresses a lot of food preferences. When confronted with a fruit salad, he picks out all the blueberries first. He LOVES blueberries and does a little blueberry dance when he's eating- raising his arms and swirling them around in joy.
He's an avid drinker too
He likes reading now and he often expresses book preferences by bringing us the same book to read over and over again. His favorites right now are Big Red Barn and the finger-puppet Old McDonald book. Probably one of his favorite toys right now is the purple octopus Christina and Dan got him, but he also really likes the big Legos that came with a truck that Rachel and Tim got him.
Enjoying one of his books
Took him a while to figure out this toy, but now it's a hit (Thanks, Christina)
I left the saddest topic for last, sleeping. Ever since we got back from the roadtrip, he wakes up earlier. (Probably to punish us.) He now sleeps from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. at the latest. We're trying to switch him to one nap, so that he sleeps more at night, but also because he won't nap in his crib, so holding him for two naps a day is too hard on us. A few times I've gotten him to sleep on the couch next to me, but the crib is out of the question. He hates it so much he throws up every single time we put him in there during the day- after just 2 minutes. My hat off to any parent who has the fortitude to sleep train a baby who does that, but I am not that parent. Maybe if we survive long enough to give James a sibling one day, we will try a different strategy earlier on, but a sibling isn't looking very appealing at this time.
For Father's Day, James made Kevin a card with his hand-print on the cover and a lengthy thank you for all the wonderful fathering he does. Afterwards, we drove upstate so that Kevin could collect his present- 2 baby-free hikes, and 1 family hike.
James gives Kevin his card
On Father's Day- you can see the love
Kevin went for his first hike on Sunday afternoon, a 4-hour hike up Millbrook Mountain. Then early Monday morning he went for another 2-hour hike up Storm King Mountain. I don't have photos of Kevin hiking, but this is what James and I were doing at the hotel for many hours.
Baby-tackle on gross hotel bedspreads
Then Monday after we went to Bear Mountain. We had some trouble finding the summit. Make a note, Foursquare is not a navigation device. When we did, all James wanted to do as stomp around in this little random hole on the mountain. He was not interested in views or greenery, or animal life. No, just a little gravelly hole. And as we all know, James strongly resists holding hands. Not a great personality trait to exhibit on a mountain. So Kevin opted to carry him on his shoulders so he'd stay out of trouble.
Holy cow, anyone notice it's been 15 years since we graduated high school? Wasn't I just at my 10-year reunion two seconds ago? I grew up in New Jersey, something I tried to avoid admitting for some years after I left, but now I'm not entirely sure why. There's no particularly awesome state to be from except maybe Hawaii, and I bet those people get tired of lai jokes the same way we get tired of highway exit jokes. For the record, my exit was the Spring Street exit.
Here I am whizzing by on graduation day, June 20, 1997
With my parents before graduation
I've said this before, but our class president Chris Larson, gave an awesome speech. Especially considering he was only 18 at the time. I have the video somewhere, and I will eventually upload it on YouTube, but suffice to say he referenced Khrushchev, took off his shoe, and banged it on the podium. The parents appreciated it, but I don't think most of the students were far along enough in History class to appreciate it. Here's a picture before the shoe part. Behind Chris is a man I don't know, Principal Rizzo, a megaphone-head, and Vice-Principal Dr. Melville.
Our class president giving an amazing speech
Hat-toss! We're out of here!
My parents, my dad's parents, and Yohana and Rick came to my graduation. My mom's parents had moved to Miami by then, so they couldn't be there, but I wish they had been. Chrissy graduated my year, so her whole family was there too. I remember Chrissy's mom finding me in the crowd to congratulate me. Cate and Wendy were a year down in school, but they were in band so they had to play at our graduation.
With the Shute grandparents
With my best friends from highschool, Cate, Wendy, and Chrissy
We went to a good high school, and the students worked together with parents and the administration to keep us from drinking and doing other dubious things after graduation. They built us an elaborate post-graduation sleep-over party. The theme our year was New Orleans, and you can see from the photos that they did an amazing job. If anyone who built this is reading, thank you! I still appreciate your hard work and artistic talent 15 years later.
Our New Orleans theme party
Me, random clown on stilts, and my friend Dawn
Rocking their matching temporary tattoos. This picture makes me want a tattoo!
Ten years later in 2007, we had our 10-year reunion. Kevin and I went just two days after he proposed, so I was in a ridiculously good mood for a high school reunion.
Some of the awesome people I went to grade school with at our 10-year reunion!
Apparently we were in a "B" mood! After my recent BBQ tour, Kevin suggested that what we needed was more BBQ. We're planning on going this weekend, but since Michele can't make it this weekend, she suggested a BBQ place she likes. So yes, I made plans to have BBQ for two weekends in a row in New York. No, I am never going to lose the baby weight. But I digress.
Anyway, our plans soon swelled to include Jaime, who decided to visit last minute, and Allison who's plane was diverted to New York, and Michele's friend Yianice, who was around and wanted BBQ. We started at Fort Reno in Park Slope, where the drinks were strong and the big star of the show was the "Hot Mess," a BBQ parfait. If you're wondering what on earth that means, it's corn bread, pulled pork, mac and cheese, beans, hot peppers layered in a glass jar. I didn't get it but in retrospect, it's definitely what you should get. I liked my dish enough that I ruined my dress with BBQ stains. Sad.
Jaime, me, Yianice, Michele, and Allison
Then we moved on to Blueprint, a vaguely snooty-hipstery bar with a cute patio. For some reason I thought I was woman enough to order an old-fashioned. I drank it, but I think that might be my last one for a while. Sadly, Allison had to leave to catch her flight, but at least I get to see her in Maine in a few weeks so my sadness was somewhat contained. Then we went to my favorite place on the impromptu bar crawl, Beauty Bar. For $10 you get a yummy cocktail and a manicure. There are so many reasons I loved this place.
Me and Jaime showing off our manicures.
First, when Michele described the place, I thought it would just be women in the bar. This was not so. It's a real bar and it was full of men and women. Second, the drinks were the best of the three places we went. Third, the servers and the woman who did the manicure were all extremely nice and attentive. Don't forget, this is New York! That never happens. Finally, they had a huge projector playing a movie with the subtitles on and decent music playing. It just so happened to be Jaime's favorite movie from the 90's or 00's. She was pretty psyched.
Michele's halo is visible in this shot
Jaime, me, Michele, Yianice at Beauty Bar
I am not going to talk about how Jaime and I missed our stop on the train back to Long Island. Nope. That didn't happen. Yay, girls' night!
Jaime came to visit and she's a big fan of the beach so we went to Jones Beach State Park. We're lucky that we have the most popular beach on the East Coast just 20 minutes from home. Since it's 10 miles long, it's not even that crowded
The last time we went to Jones Beach with Jaime was two years ago, and I was secretly pregnant and too tired to walk very far along the shoreline. She probably thought I was the most out of shape person in the world.
Me and Jaime at Jones Beach this weekend
This time we went by ourselves first and had a little bit of adult conversation time before Kevin and James joined us. Once James arrived the name of the game was tag. We had to chase him to keep him from eating everything on the beach or attempting to go home with strangers. When we took him to the ocean he loved it. Then he took a step away from us, wiped out, ate sand and ocean, and didn't like it so much anymore.
Happy Father's Day to my amazing husband and baby-daddy Kevin. (Wow, can you believe this was a year ago?) I cannot find the words to convey what an amazing father Kevin is, but perhaps this will let you see the tip of the iceberg: Kevin gets up with James nearly every morning. He is an insanely great dad. James, if you ever read this, you should build some kind of monument to your dad for taking such good care of you at an age he knew you wouldn't even remember.
Kevin and James relaxing at home
Happy first Father's Day Rob P, Trey, Dan M, Donald, Leil, Ed T, and Patrick P! What a lineup of great new dads.
Rob teaching Cater to walk
Trey kissing Cort
Dan chilling with Hudson (and protecting him from James)
Donald and William B admiring each other
Patrick and Avery just a few weeks ago
Happy Father's Day to all our other friends who are dads, Jim St, Marc, Ben, Brandon, Casey, Mike Sh, Matt L, Tim, Jason, Mike St, and Pete C! A little note about these dads, Jim got married this week! How exciting! Ben had a second son this year, Mike St recently had a second daughter, and Jason is about to have his second child and first daughter!
Jason is great with two kids-- his future daughter is in for a treat (with Owen and James)