Friday, September 30, 2005

Etch it on a cave wall

TGIF – two whole days of Mark! Tonight we’ll probably do our typical movie and a bottle of wine. Tomorrow we set off to my Mom’s place for dinner and her Noah-dose. Sunday we’ll attend “Baby Loves Disco” with the Patrice-brood and Janette-clan.

I’ve got so much email to catch up on. Not the kind of daily few word exchanges I have with some folk but the long message wrap-ups of what we’ve been up to and inquiries of wellbeing. These take a lot of thought and baby-free time and it’s not time I’ve been able to set aside for myself. That time goes to blogging so that I can communicate goings-on with a bunch of people consecutively. I think everyone should have a blog – it’d be so much more time efficient if everyone just regularly jotted down their activities and emotions so that I could keep up to date with them in real time.

But that isn’t gonna happen any time soon – so I best go answer some emails. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Peep this, buddy!

It feels like fall today, and I for one am grateful. It’s been one long hot summer that has kept Noah and I cooped up in the AC for far too long. I hope we have a nice long mild fall before the winter blahs come.

Mark and I decided this week to spend the weekend before our third wedding anniversary at the Fall Foliage Festival in Jim Thorpe. With Master Noah, of course. I’m very excited. I know Mark and I will enjoy ourselves, and I think we’ve decided on a locale and activities that will keep Noah interested too. We’ll peep leaves, ride old trains and buggies, explore mines and mansions and generally feel fall-like. All the downtown hotels and B&Bs are pricey, booked and don’t allow tots – so we’re staying at the Lantern Lodge just outside of town. If you’ve been to Jim Thorpe and have some favorite things to do or places to eat let me know. We’ve never been and would love some helpful hints to form an agenda. I’m so eager to get out of the house that I don’t know if I can wait another two weeks. I want to be a leaf-peeper right now.

The trip to the dealership to repair the bumper was as successful as you can expect. It took only a half hour to get there and a half hour to repair. Noah slept on the way there but stayed awake the entire 50 minute return drive, but I kept him placated with food. He ate the entire way home! He had a biter biscuit, a piece of whole wheat pita, some water and a fruit wagon wheel. His car seat is a mess – but it was a small price to pay. The price for the bumper repair was not so small. The part, labor and realignment cost $140 – for a few minutes of work. Car prices are scandalous. They always make me angry.

Noah however enjoyed his time in the Saturn dealer play area. It’s this little cubicle of a room stuffed with old dilapidated, dirty toy parts that dealer families have probably donated rather than throw away. Noah mostly played with the giant legos and the lego table that was covered in snack crumbs from a previous inhabitant, hopefully from earlier in the day and not days past. That is when he wasn’t trying to charm the old codger. This grumpy looking old man was sitting at a round table directly in front of the play area and Noah kept going to the door and trying to talk to him. Noah would smile and say “Da Da Da Da Digga Digga Da” and smile again. He was using his best shtick to get a grin out of the guy or at least an acknowledgement of his existence. But this bastard barely would look at him other than to grimace with a look of “I hope this kid shuts up soon.” I wanted to stone him, the evil soulless bastard. If he was so disenchanted with infants he should have sat farther away from the play area – idiot. I hope he suffers from horrible IBS or erectile dysfunction. Or is visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

I have decided it's time for Noah to get his own phone. Is it permissive of me to give him our old cordless to play? I'm thinking it will keep him away from the regular phone. I'll let you know how that goes. Next up on agenda: find used mouse. Noah's currently crying because I'm keeping the mouse away from him.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's just a walk in the park.  Posted by Picasa

Noah gnus with Gary Gnu

So the in-laws came to visit last night. I did in fact make beef (sorry Lonna). Mark’s Dad only really likes beef – he’s a beef and potatoes man. Well, he likes pork too, but his wife doesn’t – I unfortunately found that out last time I made a pork tenderloin. Oops. So as you see, my options are limited. Anyway I didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything – I just served my favorite pear and gorgonzola salad, pine nut couscous made with beef broth, a beef stew and pumpkin pie.

I can never find an ideal beef stew recipe so I kind of melded one from one cook book and one from my crock pot manual with a pinch of making it up as I went along. It turned out decent and was easy so I’ll share the details. Maybe you can tell me how I could have improved it. I cubed 2 pounds of chuck and then browned it in a skillet with olive oil and a crushed garlic clove. Then I put the beef and juices in the crock pot with red wine, beef broth, a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, thyme, and a tiny dash of curry powder. I cooked it for 6 hours on the medium setting and 1 hour on high. The beef was pretty tender but if I do it again I’ll use a better cut. The peppers in the canned tomatoes made it a tad spicy which is good for me because my biggest fear is always that my cooking will taste bland. And my only real complaint is that I wish I did something to make the sauce a bit thicker before serving. Oh and I forgot to get horseradish at the store – and though the beef didn’t really need it I missed it because I like horseradish. So there you go. This sort of one pot made ahead of time thing is the best thing to do when you’re having guests and you have to baby wrangle while preparing food – at least for me since I suck at baby multi-tasking.

Anyway the visit went well. I don’t think anyone was put off by the meal and I know they enjoyed watching the little man. He was being quite congenial and entertaining. But I have to ask why older people are always making pronouncements about babies not liking them. Both Laima and my Oma will say that Noah doesn’t like them merely because he doesn’t just smile at them endlessly and enjoy being held still in their laps when he could be crawling around. The boy won’t sit still in MY lap without squirming to get down – he’s got places to go, things to learn. Francesca’s mom says the same thing of her mother-in-law, that she seems hurt when Francesca doesn’t want to just be cuddled and held indefinitely. I feel like saying “How long do you like to be restrained?”

Yesterday Noah started talking on the phone. Or more accurately pretending to talk on the phone. He was holding the cordless phone upside down and backwards and rattling of a long line of “Da Da Doo Digga Da Do Da” gibberish. Funny thing is that he won’t do this when someone is actually talking to him on the phone – then he pushes the phone away from his ear and stares at it in wonderment. He’s also discovered the computer mouse and has taken to grabbing if off of the desk even when it is in use. Unfortunately for me. This morning when he got a hold of it he held it up to his ear and started talking into it like the phone – which makes sense because our phone and mouse actually look quite similar.

We still don’t have a lot of unassisted walking going on here – but he has become a whiz with his walker. He runs around his room and hallway with it at top speed and has learned to turn it around and back it up. That is a huge relief because before he mastered that he would just run it into the wall and squeal for me to turn it around for him so he could run it into the next wall and squeal again. He’s also cruising a lot more and has begun walking sideways in the hallway with his hands running along the wall for support. Problem is that sometimes he’ll attempt to take a few unsupported steps but he often wants to do that sideways too.

We have plans to meet Francesca and Susan in the park for lunch and then later in the afternoon we have to go to the Saturn dealership to get the bumper repaired. It’s hanging low on the driver side because Mark had a run-in on Sunday with one of those concrete parking space partitions in the Target parking lot. I wanted to just tie it back up with some wire because that’s how I deal with things – just half-ass rig it so it’s seemingly no longer a problem. Mark however said the safety of the vehicle was compromised by the altered structure of the bumper and needed to be repaired – which makes sense but sucks. I had to laugh though when I told my friend Janette about the damage and she said “Do you have any duct tape?” Thank God we’re not married - we’d be driving our babies around in duct-taped and tied together jalopies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Franticness ensuing.

In-laws coming. Me cooking. Me cleaning. Noah destroying. No more blogging. Back tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The tall Mr. Mark stands among his long legged brethern. Noah watches the most entertaining exhibit at the zoo - the many zany folk.  Posted by Picasa

If you look closely you can see a submerged hippo behind us. If you look closer still you can see my breast pad about to pop out of my nursing bra. And Noah's goin' totally Flashdance. Posted by Picasa

Zoo boomin' fools

First I have to report that we haven't had any more walking attempts since yesterday morning - at least not more than a step or two. Maybe Noah was just being a tease? I guess it'll take awhile for him to realize that walking can be a more effective way of transportation than crawling. He's gonna take some time to get up to snuff. I'll keep you posted - so you won't have sleepless nights wondering if Noah's been walking or not. See - I'm always thinking about YOU.

We primates thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the zoo yesterday. Though it’s impossible to draw an infant’s attention to an animal masquerading as an unmoving distant lump, frolicking animal were mesmerizing to Master Noah. Just like at the aquarium he seemed most intrigued by animals in the water – the turtles and my all-time favorite the otters. I’ve always loved the otters at the zoo because they’re so much fun - all together, cavorting and diving. I’d like to keep a couple of them in my tub just for fun. And of course monkeys and the like are also a highlight – the gibbons, the tamarins, the lemurs all put on a good show. We didn’t hit the fantastic small mammal house until the end by which time Noah had dozed off so he didn’t get to enjoy the meerkats, sloth, marmosets, bats and rats with me but we have a zoo membership now so we’ll have to do that next time. The zoo is about a 20 minute trolley ride from our place so we could go there to kill time on a day when I feel we need to get out of the house for awhile.

In the middle of the day we spent a good hour in the Treehouse – a carpeted child wonderland of giant eggs, bee honeycombs, dinosaurs and caterpillars. It was good for the babies to get down out of our arms and crawl around for a bit – but honestly I think the adults were all a little skeeved out by the germ/odor factor of the place. Everything was sticky and smelled of sweat and urine. I tried to just put the concerns out of my mind and enjoy the scampering boy, but I was still in a mad rush to wipe him down from head to toe as soon as we got out of there.

By the end of our five hour stay at the zoo I was BEAT. I wanted to collapse in a lump on the floor of the gift shop after I picked out a monkey T-shirt for the boy. After the Milliceccobachs left our place we fed our starving infant, had phone conversations with all of the grandparents, ate ground turkey in marinara sauce over whole wheat spaghetti, drank a bottle of red wine, gave Noah a bath before putting him to bed, watched Rome and fell blissfully asleep. I wish I was still sleeping.

I’m sad to say we took very few pictures at the zoo. We were too busy manhandling our own beast I guess. Plus I have a billion subpar animal pictures from my last trip with my sister Jessica. But I’m most ashamed to say we didn’t even get any pictures of the dazzling Ms. Bella in her adorable little safari outfit – so you’ll have to wait for Ms. Patrice to load her photos. Hurry up on that Snapfish downloading, Patrice! I need prints. (Oh and I left the tortoise story for your blog.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005


HE WALKED!!! This morning Noah took his first steps. He was crusing along the hallway wall into his bedroom and then he let go of his door frame and took three steps towards me before falling on his butt. He followed this with a few similar attempts so it's clear the boy is on his way to being a full fledged walker very soon. Hopefully he doesn't always toddle around like a drunken sailor.

Well - gots to get ready for the zoo. Just couldn't wait to tell people about it. My boy walks.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On your mark, get set...  Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

Teethin' and couchin' the issues.  Posted by Picasa

Aunt Lisey says goodbye at the Greyhound station.  Posted by Picasa

No rest for the wicked

Noah wanted to play at 4 this morning and proceeded to keep me up until 5:30. When he woke back up at 6:30 he appeared to be exhausted, so I anticipated it being difficult to keep him up until his 9 am nap. Not so. In fact Noah didn’t take his morning nap at all. He stayed up until 1:50 pm. I hesitated blaming it on teething again because I’ve been waiting for his top teeth to come in for months now. Plus he didn’t really seem to be in any pain – just like he was far too busy to sleep. But sure enough when I finally got a look into his mouth not only did I feel the ridges of teeth – but I could see them. And his gums look swollen and bloody. Poor thing.

I was so tired from our morning escapade that I laid down with him when he finally fell asleep – but woke up after an hour. But now I feel not quite asleep, not quite awake – a bit light-headed and detached, like I’m drunk. Don’t know if I should go try to walk it off or get back into bed.

Big plans this weekend include cleaning and the zoo – but luckily not cleaning the zoo.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Of fishes and futons

Thanks for the warm wishes. I’m feeling a bit better today. I just kept thinking about how time seems so much more precious with Noah. If Elisha and I went a year or two seeing each other it wasn’t that big of a deal – but thinking that the next time Noah sees Elisha he’ll probably be this walking, talking little man who doesn’t recognize his aunt made me sad. Anyway, such is life I guess.

But we had a really lovely time while Elisha was here. Tuesday morning her and my Dad came back into the city on the train. After Noah’s nap we went to the remodeled Adventure Aquarium. I had been to the aquarium before it was redone and I have to say it is greatly improved, though still no comparison to Baltimore’s aquarium. My one complaint is that the $17 admission price and $7 parking fee seem really exorbitant. That said – Noah LOVED the aquarium. He was in awe for almost the entire two hours we were there. Luckily the place was virtually empty so we had him next to the glass of every tank so he could chatter, point and gawk. I’ll have to take him again sometime soon. I hope he enjoys the zoo this weekend even a fraction as much - I’m worried that the crowds and the distance from the animals might make it a bit difficult to get him to focus at this age. We shall see.

After the aquarium we had a late lunch/early dinner and then headed back to the house. Noah went down for a nap and Dad, Elisha and I just chatted on the front stoop. Janette stopped by with baby Jules and was gracious enough to give my Dad a ride back to the train station. Mark, Elisha and I played with Noah for a couple of hours until bedtime and then Elisha and I headed out for a few drinks. We talked a lot about personal things – our pasts and our futures, and we both cried both happy and sad tears. Have I mentioned I miss her already?

Yesterday after we took Elisha to catch her bus the day was pretty uneventful. In the evening Mark, Noah and I went out to dinner with our newly engaged friends Jen and Mark. We saw Jen’s ring which (barring my own) is honestly the most cool and stunning engagement ring I have ever seen (and I’m not big on bling) and caught up on the engagement news and wedding plans. The diner was pretty empty so it wasn’t a big deal when Noah started chattering happily at full volume because he’s too young to understand “indoor voice” – or when he crawled the length of the restaurant before we left. He’s usually really good in restaurants for the most part unless you expect babies to be completely seen and not heard.

So I have to share Noah’s new passion. In our office we have a squat blue foam futon from Ikea that barely survived Mark’s college days. It’s old and dirty, but I put a throw over it so we have someplace to sit in the office other than desk chairs. Noah has learned how to haul himself up on this abomination by burying his head into the seat and hauling his feet onto it horizontally before sitting up. And the look of pride and accomplishment on his face when he sits on it is priceless. Of course in all his scrambling I can’t keep the throw on the futon so he’s cavorting on the dirtiest sofa in the history of man. Anyway, once up on the sofa he has to get down – so he’s taken to just throwing himself off in a very haphazard and dangerous manner. I catch him some of the time – but my track record isn’t perfect. I spent a good half hour this morning trying to teach him to lower himself down backward. Hopefully these lessons pay off soon because otherwise I can’t take two steps away from him and that futon without fear of him landing on his little arm and breaking it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I'm feeling sad. I took both of Noah's naps with him today and I still feel tired and lifeless. My sister left this morning and I don't know when I'll see her again. Goodbyes are never great, but goodbyes with no future plans are just awful.

I'll blog more later when I have the time and energy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Birthday Boy Evan enjoys his cake.  Posted by Picasa

Peekaboo Aelan!  Posted by Picasa

What a cheeky family we have. Brother Jim, Sis Elisha, and Dad.  Posted by Picasa

What a crime fighting duo! Posted by Picasa

Passed in a blur

This morning Noah head-butted me and gave me a bloody lip. How is THAT to start a morning? He had no violent intention that I know of – he merely bobbed his head too close to my mouth. Or I guess I had my head too close to his bobbing head.

Busy weekend. Friday Elisha, Noah and I made our way downtown for Indian buffet, a nice walk and some shopping at one of my favorite stores - Ten Thousand Villages. Friday night we did indeed drink wine and margaritas while Mark kicked our butts in both Boggle and Yahtzee. Saturday morning Noah, Elisha and I shuffled off to Qtown to Dad and Oma’s place. We had a lovely lunch at Fridays, a brief shopping excursion at the Dollar Store and then a break for a Noah nap. (Let me just say that in my opinion one of the last things one should buy at the Dollar Store is a pregnancy test, and yet I saw them right by the register. My guess is the test box includes a mirror and tells you to wait six – nine months for accurate indicators.)

Once Noah was refreshed we decided to go bowling. I was a bit concerned that the general nosiness of the bowling alley might be a bit much for our delicate Master Noah – but he had a lovely time. Much of that can be attributed to the bag of cheese curls I purchased from the vending machine. By the time Dad massacred us on all three frames Noah was covered from head to toe in a pasty coating of cheese dust and spit. But the cleanup was worth every second of contentment they bought him while I bowled badly. Dad made spaghetti for dinner and then Jim, Ofelia and the twins dropped by. James and Julius were already testing out their Halloween costumes, so we were mighty confused when we were greeted by not one, but TWO Batmen. For the first time Noah really played with the twins like a little boy and not like a baby. It was adorable. And then it was time for Noah and I to hit the road and return to our fair city and our fairer Pater Familius.

Though absolutely exhausted by the business of the day Noah had trouble falling asleep in the car. In fact he was crying his head off and rubbing his face feverishly. I had to pull over on the shoulder of the turnpike, get in the back seat with him, hoist him from the car seat and soothe him to sleep before I could finish the drive home. And even though I was safely pulled over on the shoulder, the sights and sounds of cars whizzing by at 80 miles an hour terrify me. I was extremely relieved when he finally nodded off and we could get back on the road.

Yesterday Mark, Noah and I spent the day with my Mom’s family at my cousin Tammy’s son Evan’s first birthday party. More family time, more kids, more playtime. It was a really nice afternoon. Mom, Mark, Noah and I went to the local Applebees for an hour afterward so that we could reach Noah’s bedtime and be assured a sleeping passenger on the way home. I feel like I’m always killing time to accommodate this boy’s sleep schedule – but luckily we had a nice time doing so.

Elisha is at my Oma’s place today so there are no big plans but lunch with Susan and Francesca in the park. Tomorrow Elisha and Dad come into town for a Philly adventure. Possibly the aquarium. And then Elisha leaves on Wednesday morning. I’ll be very sad to see her go. Very sad indeed. There are very few people in this world that you can feel completely comfortable with, at home with – and Elisha is one of those people for me. She’s fun, sweet and at only 21 years old she is in many ways wise beyond her years. I was hurt we haven’t seen her sooner because I love her so very much and because I want her to be a very big part of Noah’s life. I do however understand that she has her own life and it’s not easy to get away so I really appreciate her coming to visit and will try and cut her a little slack in the future. A little Elisha is a million times better than no Elisha at all.

Dressed for the urban jungle. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 16, 2005

But I want it! Posted by Picasa

Welcome to Babywood.

When my sister would visit in the past Mark and I would take her out on the town. We’d make an effort to take her to do things and see things that she couldn’t or didn’t do or see in Florida. We'd run around experiencing foreign films, ethnic restaurants, and fringe art performances. This time it’s a bit different. Unfortunately money is a concern – and there just isn’t enough dough in the budget to be going out to dinner for every meal. And Noah is a concern too – he’s not too keen on foreign films or sitting though art performances. (He’s SO anti-intellectual.) So for this visit we’re stacking blocks, bouncing balls and swinging at the playground. Yesterday we went downtown shopping for a few hours, but we shopped for baby clothes. I feel really bad about not doing more to entertain Elisha, but in my defense when I ask her what she wants to do she says she’s just here to spend time with us. And while that is really sweet and I appreciate the sentiment I also don’t want her to humor me while she’s sitting there bored out of her mind.

I haven’t a clue about what we’re going to do today. The weather is kind of blah so just taking a nice walk through town doesn’t even really seem an option. But maybe if it clears up a bit Noah will be amenable to going downtown for Indian buffet. If I send this girl back to Fort Drum without eating a few samosas I will never forgive myself. And our happening Friday night might be a swinging fest of frozen margaritas, Boggle and Yahtzee. Anyone care to join us?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The little things that kill

I didn’t blog yesterday because I couldn’t think of anything of interest to write about. Nothing too exciting going on and nothing to complain about. I feel the same today so I have decided to do what some others have done when they are at a loss for what to write. I will make a list.

Ten mundane things I dislike
1. The feeling of crumbs sticking to my bare feet as I walk across the kitchen floor
2. The taste of stomach acid that I almost always have in the back of my throat
3. Being rushed/being late
4. Not being able to find something when I'm trying to get out the door
5. Being hung up on/ignored
6. The blurry vision that comes on at the start of a migraine headache
7. Any photograph where I look chinny and shiny- which are most
8. Sleeping alone
9. Buyers remorse
10. Procrastinating on returning an email/phone call, sending a birthday card, thank you card or gift - and having someone think that I am not thoughtful and didn't think about them.

Ten mundane things I like
1. Falling in love with a new album
2. The sound of a cat purring
3. Noah’s nonsensical happy chattering
4. Finding something that actually fits me when I go shopping – that continues to fit me when I get it home and wear it a few times.
5. Potatoes – in almost every form. But don’t you dare put gravy (nasty fatty meat drippings) on them.
6. Spending time with my husband just talking – about books, movies, politics, religion, people, life.
7. Wandering the streets of a new place and thinking about what it would be like to live there
8. A small inexpensive BYOB with top notch food where the waiter knows your face - and that you can recommend to friends who will in turn love it too.
9. Curling up on the couch and reading a good book for a few uninterrupted hours
10. Sitting outside on a crisp morning with a cup of coffee and a cigarette – though I hope to never ever do this again.

My sister Elisha is making her way to us via Greyhound as we speak. We will pick her up at the station at 8pm. If she's not too tired from ten hours of bus I hope to go out for a drink after I put Noah to bed. I'm very excited to see her. It's been far too long.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Of mice and men

We got ourselves an unexpected house guest this weekend. A mouse. Did we just come across him in our home? Nope. Would you believe he actually came in through the front door? Patrice and Bella arrived at our house on Saturday afternoon so that we could make our way to a bridal shower via the subway. When Patrice got here she had quite a tale to relay regarding some mutilated mice that her pets had prominently displayed for her prior to her departure. We collected our respective babies, baby gear and strollers and started to make our way out the door. Mark opened the front door for us and ACK – realized there was a small brown mouse scurrying around between our wooden door and our glass door. We were all in a tizzy – not because we’re afraid of mice, we all agreed they are quite cute - but because when a wild animal is busily scurrying around and you want to shoo it out but obviously have no control it causes a panic. Unfortunately though I meant to open the front door and prompt our fuzzy visitor to exit, he decided instead to make his way into our cozy home. Mark, Patrice and I were baffled and hysterical. Patrice SWORE that her mice at home were white and therefore our guest did not come with her. But the questions remain – where did that mouse come from and how did he get trapped in between the two doors in the first place? We never had any mice before so it seemed entirely too weirdly coincidental that Patrice’s mouse tales were accompanied by a lovely mouse of our very own. I’ve decided Patrice is a pied piper without a pipe. It seems mice from all over are entranced by her beauty and sense of humor and are forced to follow her at a small distance. But then who isn’t?

The bebes and ladies had to hit the road to make the shower on time, so we left Mark to round up Itchy. But not before I let Noah roll out into the street in his stroller. Excellent mothering indeed. Is that what those pesky stroller brakes are for? In my defense I’ll point out that the stroller just rolled off the street curb and sat in the space between my car and Patrice’s and would never have rolled into any possible oncoming traffic (of which there was none) because the middle of the street is higher than the edges. Of course all I could do in the moment was turn beet red and laugh hysterically but still it was awful and I’m disgusted by how ugly an accident it could have hypothetically been. So we’ll return to our friend the mouse. One would have thought that our two cats would have been some help to Mark in his hunt, but no such luck. Mark apparently chased Itchy around the house for 20 minutes before she scurried under the basement door to make a cozy home for herself and her babies among our assorted cardboard boxes and old furniture.

The baby shower was a refined affair, marred only by the fact that two of its guests were ten months old. Other mothers left their babies at home, but that just meant more attention for Noah and Bella. I felt a tad bad about bringing the babies because other folk had thought it best to leave their kids at home, but we did ask permission first and honestly though some may have enjoyed the chance to be baby-free and among adults, I was happy to have Noah as a distraction and source of conversation. Plus Noah enjoyed sampling tiny tea sandwiches and slices of brie. Patrice noted that the Society Hill row home that hosted the shower was the nicest place she has ever been that wasn’t an actual historical site. The décor was stunningly old world and rich, and the walls were festooned with original art by known artists. The French themed shower was held in the lovely outdoor courtyard and the bride opened countless bags from Williams-Sonoma while Noah scuttled about on the floor playing with blocks and trains when he was taking a break from trying to dig in the flower pots. Thank God for him because otherwise I would have been bored out of my mind. Watching people open wedding gifts that they registered for has to be one of the most boring things ever. How many times can you go “Ooooh a spatula,” “Ahhhh a casserole dish,” or “Wow, coffee cups?” Hell I was bored by that part of my own damn shower.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of house cleaning and the slow development of sore throats for everyone in Casa de Eggerts. Probably even that mouse.

Friday, September 09, 2005

On sleep, sass and sisters.

Yesterday I didn’t have any time to blog or do much of anything. I got a killer headache first thing so I decided to nap with Noah in the morning. Had I known that would be his only nap all day I might have made a different decision. Though he was obviously exhausted Noah would not take a nap in the afternoon. I made three attempts to get him to sleep and failed at all three. I’ve been wondering when I should try to transition him from two naps to one but I’ve been hesitant because whenever he’s up for more than four hours at a time he gets cranky and clingy. But maybe yesterday was a sign. If this happens a couple of times I think a nap shift will be in the works.

By yesterday evening I was feeling really frustrated. I was frustrated that the house is still a mess and any straightening I do doesn’t seem to make a dent in it. I was frustrated that I didn’t have one waking moment to myself all day. I was frustrated because my headache lasted most of the day. I was frustrated that ABC skipped a bunch of Lost episodes and I now have no idea what is going on. And I was frustrated because any time you try to do something three times and you fail each and every time it’s simply frustrating. But yesterday is yesterday and today is today.

More on Noah’s growing independence. Recently he’s begun shooing hands away. If I’m trying to help him or get him to stop doing something he will actually push my hand away. He’s one step away from telling me to “talk to the hand.” He also began laughing at his own jokes. A couple of nights ago he blew a raspberry while Mark was feeding him, spit some of his food out and began laughing hysterically. Mark and I were flabbergasted and made the mistake of laughing too. Now he wants to do it at every meal. The other day I had to interrupt both lunch and dinner when he spit by telling him he was all done and taking his bib off. He cried, I told him no more spitting and then the rest of the meals went peaceably. He’s also started chasing Parker around. I don’t know if I’d classify it as a first word – but he repeatedly uses a close approximation of “Ki-deee” in reference to the cats.

My sister Elisha bought her bus ticket Wednesday and she’ll finally be visiting us and meeting Noah. I’ve been sort of disappointed that she hasn’t come sooner, but I have to remind myself that people are wrapped up in their own lives, with their own dramas. Especially when they’re young – Elisha just turned 21 this past spring. Since she married at 19 I’m often conflicted about whether to consider her an adult or a child. Her and her husband currently live at Fort Drum in upstate New York which is about a six hour drive north of here, but they will be moving back to Florida by the end of the year. One of the reasons I’ve been upset that she hasn’t visited us in almost two years is because she’s probably living closer to me now then she ever will in the future. And I had a baby, dammit.

Also I have half-sister jealousy. Let me explain. Though I have siblings who mean the world to me, they are all half-siblings through my father and I was raised by my mother as an only child. All three of my half-siblings however were raised with other half-siblings with whom they lived. I often have the feeling that no matter how much they mean to me because they are the only siblings I’ve got that what I mean to them will be less because they didn’t grow up with me. And in the case of Elisha I feel that if her sisters Barbara or Cathy had a baby that she would’ve been more interested or visited sooner. Or even sent a card. In fact Cathy did have a baby and Elisha saw her at Christmas last year. But like I said, maybe it’s just because Elisha is 21.

Anyway – I love Elisha very much. She is one of my favorite people in the world and I’m very excited to see her. I just have to make sure to check the hurt I’ve been feeling so as not to ruin her visit. She is very sensitive to even any implied criticism and I want to enjoy the very limited time we’ll have to spend together.

Well my house is STILL in a shambles, as I may have mentioned and it’s gonna be a busy weekend. Tomorrow Noah, Patrice, Bella and I will be attending a bridal shower and Sunday I have a meeting scheduled on that freelance PR project. I’d love to attend at least one measely Fringe show, but I’m not sure how and when that will happen. Money, baby and scheduling are all issues. Gone are the days when I’d see ten things. At least temporarily gone.

We were too busy stacking blocks yesterday to blog.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Sound of Music

I almost forgot I had to list my current five listening pleasures. I'm doing albums because I don't just listen to single songs - and I'm not including anything by The Beatles or for kids - because those are just givens. In no particular order:

1. The Best of Bollywood.
I don't understand a word being said, but DAMN it's catchy.

2. The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan

3. The Killers, Hot Fuss

4. Beck, Guero

5. Hot Hot Heat, Elevator

What is crazy about this list is that just last year I wasn't listening to ANY rock - just world music and hip hop. I had grown underwhelmed with rock but I guess I snapped out of that.

Get a load of little Baby Jules. Posted by Picasa

Sittin' pretty in the park. Posted by Picasa

Noah's one swingin' little fella! Posted by Picasa

Now you can buy Ricearoni in Philly! Posted by Picasa

So much to say, but yet so little

So many things to blog, so little time. As with all things, Noah first.

I can’t believe how much my boy is changing. Towards the end of vacation Noah started displaying a bit of a defiant streak. Prior to it rearing its ugly head when Noah was told “No” he looked a bit crushed but stopped what he was doing. The day after we got home from the beach I told Noah “No” over fifteen times while he attempted to pull all Mark’s dress shirts out of the closet, and he wasn’t deterred in the least. Not even when I picked him up and moved him away. He just crawled back, looked at me and started yanking. Testing boundaries indeed.

And yesterday I decided he must be a genius. Know why? He started stacking blocks. Thrilling, right? I was so excited I just about dropped dead. (And yes I am being both serious and sarcastic.) Our normal routine is that I stack up Peek-a-blocks and he knocks them down. Yesterday he was sitting on the floor playing when I noticed he put one block on top of the other and then accidentally knocked them over when he tried to add a third. The dexterity and balance isn’t quite there yet, but the motivation was there. My boy is a stacker, and now I can enroll him in his father’s Alma Mater.

Okay. So now that I have shared those two very important milestones with you I can go off on some busybody tangents. My house is a mess and my laundry is in piles but all I can think about is blogging and catching up on everyone’s blogs. I’ve done a bit of reading to catch-up, but haven’t started commenting yet. Please be patient with me.

Yesterday my friend Janette and her baby Jules spent the day with us. Janette lives over an hour away in Reading, but will be in Philly a lot in the next two weeks because of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Her husband Perry is the Technical Director for the festival so to prevent being a total “Fringe widow” she’s spending quite a bit of time in Philly so that Perry can see his three month old son in small increments. Which is great for us because she’ll be close by. We had a lovely afternoon of infants and tea and met Mark in the park for a dinner of Rustica hoagies. It was the perfect night for hanging outside and Noah rode a big boy swing for the first time!

Oh – and they FINALLY started running the refurbished old trolleys down Girard Avenue. They are super cool looking and unbelievably quieter than the buses. Hooray!

I know there was something else. What WAS it? Oh well.

Well my house is in shambles so I must go. But comments are coming soon. I SWEAR.

From Anne to you

As an avid reader it was the written word that made me hunger to see the streets of New Orleans. Mark and I took our first vacation as a couple there and we fell in love with the city. Not with Bourbon Street, but with the history, the neighborhoods, the music, the architecture, the food, the pace, and the people. And sadly it seems that the only way to revisit New Orleans for quite awhile will be through tales such as The Witching Hour, Confederacy of Dunces, and Jitterbug Perfume. From the moment that news of the city's fate surfaced I have been wondering what Anne Rice thought.

From The New York Times:

Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?
Published: September 4, 2005
La Jolla, Calif.
WHAT do people really know about New Orleans?

Do they take away with them an awareness that it has always been not only a great white metropolis but also a great black city, a city where African-Americans have come together again and again to form the strongest African-American culture in the land?

The first literary magazine ever published in Louisiana was the work of black men, French-speaking poets and writers who brought together their work in three issues of a little book called L'Album Littéraire. That was in the 1840's, and by that time the city had a prosperous class of free black artisans, sculptors, businessmen, property owners, skilled laborers in all fields. Thousands of slaves lived on their own in the city, too, making a living at various jobs, and sending home a few dollars to their owners in the country at the end of the month.
This is not to diminish the horror of the slave market in the middle of the famous St. Louis Hotel, or the injustice of the slave labor on plantations from one end of the state to the other. It is merely to say that it was never all "have or have not" in this strange and beautiful city.
Later in the 19th century, as the Irish immigrants poured in by the thousands, filling the holds of ships that had emptied their cargoes of cotton in Liverpool, and as the German and Italian immigrants soon followed, a vital and complex culture emerged. Huge churches went up to serve the great faith of the city's European-born Catholics; convents and schools and orphanages were built for the newly arrived and the struggling; the city expanded in all directions with new neighborhoods of large, graceful houses, or areas of more humble cottages, even the smallest of which, with their floor-length shutters and deep-pitched roofs, possessed an undeniable Caribbean charm.

Through this all, black culture never declined in Louisiana. In fact, New Orleans became home to blacks in a way, perhaps, that few other American cities have ever been. Dillard University and Xavier University became two of the most outstanding black colleges in America; and once the battles of desegregation had been won, black New Orleanians entered all levels of life, building a visible middle class that is absent in far too many Western and Northern American cities to this day.

The influence of blacks on the music of the city and the nation is too immense and too well known to be described. It was black musicians coming down to New Orleans for work who nicknamed the city "the Big Easy" because it was a place where they could always find a job. But it's not fair to the nature of New Orleans to think of jazz and the blues as the poor man's music, or the music of the oppressed.

Something else was going on in New Orleans. The living was good there. The clock ticked more slowly; people laughed more easily; people kissed; people loved; there was joy.

Which is why so many New Orleanians, black and white, never went north. They didn't want to leave a place where they felt at home in neighborhoods that dated back centuries; they didn't want to leave families whose rounds of weddings, births and funerals had become the fabric of their lives. They didn't want to leave a city where tolerance had always been able to outweigh prejudice, where patience had always been able to outweigh rage. They didn't want to leave a place that was theirs.

And so New Orleans prospered, slowly, unevenly, but surely - home to Protestants and Catholics, including the Irish parading through the old neighborhood on St. Patrick's Day as they hand out cabbages and potatoes and onions to the eager crowds; including the Italians, with their lavish St. Joseph's altars spread out with cakes and cookies in homes and restaurants and churches every March; including the uptown traditionalists who seek to preserve the peace and beauty of the Garden District; including the Germans with their clubs and traditions; including the black population playing an ever increasing role in the city's civic affairs.

Now nature has done what the Civil War couldn't do. Nature has done what the labor riots of the 1920's couldn't do. Nature had done what "modern life" with its relentless pursuit of efficiency couldn't do. It has done what racism couldn't do, and what segregation couldn't do either. Nature has laid the city waste - with a scope that brings to mind the end of Pompeii.

I share this history for a reason - and to answer questions that have arisen these last few days. Almost as soon as the cameras began panning over the rooftops, and the helicopters began chopping free those trapped in their attics, a chorus of voices rose. "Why didn't they leave?" people asked both on and off camera. "Why did they stay there when they knew a storm was coming?" One reporter even asked me, "Why do people live in such a place?"
Then as conditions became unbearable, the looters took to the streets. Windows were smashed, jewelry snatched, stores broken open, water and food and televisions carried out by fierce and uninhibited crowds.

Now the voices grew even louder. How could these thieves loot and pillage in a time of such crisis? How could people shoot one another? Because the faces of those drowning and the faces of those looting were largely black faces, race came into the picture. What kind of people are these, the people of New Orleans, who stay in a city about to be flooded, and then turn on one another?

Well, here's an answer. Thousands didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the vehicles. They didn't have any place to go. They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do - they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.

What's more, thousands more who could have left stayed behind to help others. They went out in the helicopters and pulled the survivors off rooftops; they went through the flooded streets in their boats trying to gather those they could find. Meanwhile, city officials tried desperately to alleviate the worsening conditions in the Superdome, while makeshift shelters and hotels and hospitals struggled.

And where was everyone else during all this? Oh, help is coming, New Orleans was told. We are a rich country. Congress is acting. Someone will come to stop the looting and care for the refugees.

And it's true: eventually, help did come. But how many times did Gov. Kathleen Blanco have to say that the situation was desperate? How many times did Mayor Ray Nagin have to call for aid? Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.

I know that New Orleans will win its fight in the end. I was born in the city and lived there for many years. It shaped who and what I am. Never have I experienced a place where people knew more about love, about family, about loyalty and about getting along than the people of New Orleans. It is perhaps their very gentleness that gives them their endurance.

They will rebuild as they have after storms of the past; and they will stay in New Orleans because it is where they have always lived, where their mothers and their fathers lived, where their churches were built by their ancestors, where their family graves carry names that go back 200 years. They will stay in New Orleans where they can enjoy a sweetness of family life that other communities lost long ago.

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Vacation - all we ever wanted.  Posted by Picasa

We’ve come from the water.

Our week in Ocean City was fast and furious. Rather than recount the days hour by hour I thought I’d give you a few highlights and regrets.

Highlight #1 Up at the crack of dawn
My favorite part of each day was the wee hours of the morning when Mark, Noah and I would take a stroll to avoid waking up the other house guests. We watched the sunrise, got coffee, went to the laundrymat, and greeted the towns other early birds – parents, seniors and joggers. It was peaceful and soothing to be out in the world making the most of the day while everyone else was nestled in their beds.

Regret #1 Up at the crack of dawn.
While I loved being up in the morning, I hated how tired it made me the rest of the day. Beach days always make me groggy, but sleep deprived beach days are downright exhausting.

Highlight #2 The young man and the sea
The first two days at the beach Noah was cautious and pensive. He was instantly in love with the crowds and the seagulls, but he was definitely daunted by the sand and sea. He clung to my bathing suit with a vice-like grip. On day three, as if awoken to a revelation Noah took off in the sand, crawling straight for the ocean. He wanted to be awash in the waves, savoring the sand. He adored the beach and may be making plans to live out his days in a hut on the dunes as I type.

Regret #2 The young man and the lady
Noah was once again afraid of Bella. He cried almost every time she touched him or made a peep. He jumped when she made a sudden noise or movement. He was terrified of her and it was heartbreaking. At first I thought it would pass quickly, but it lasted Monday through Thursday. And it had me pretty depressed because I so look forward to Noah and Bella starting a lifelong friendship. I was also looking forward to watching my boy enjoy his beach week so watching him be afraid and sad really hurt my spirit. I’m happy to say that by Thursday night he was over it – but for those couple of days in between I felt a low.

Highlight #3 The weather
Despite projected reports of a week of clouds and thundershowers we had excellent weather and made it to the beach for a bit every day.

Regret #3 The weather
Katrina was devastating. So much sadness. So much destruction. So many bad political decisions. Mark and I will be making a donation to The Red Cross.

Highlight #4 Our village
It’s so nice to have a houseful of loving hearts and hands to mind your child. It is one of the biggest assets to traveling with friends and family – you can each take turns minding the store so everyone can get some alone time. And I couldn’t have picked a better bunch of people with which to share my vacation.

Regret #4 Not enough alone time
I got away from Noah three times in the week while we were gone. Once to go grocery shopping. Once out for an extraordinary dinner for Mark’s birthday at 4th Street Café. And once for an hour on the beach with my mom. I had hoped to get some alone time with Patrice and some alone time alone, but there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Coupled with the fact that I am one very clingy mom who has a hard time asking for alone time because I enjoy being with Noah so much. But it can be taxing to realize that being a mom is a full-time job and there is no real vacation even when you are on vacation.

Despite a few tiny regrets it was a truly wonderful getaway. We all had the post-vacation blues when we got home on Saturday. Even Noah was out of sorts. Luckily we had a picnic at my Dad’s to look forward to on Sunday. The sun was shining, the kids were playing and my Dad was manning the grill. It was fun.

Mark has to go back to work tomorrow and I don’t want to let him go. The house is full of half folded laundry and half unpacked bags. But I’d rather have us all go to the zoo and pretend we’re still away. Oh well, if you vacationed all the time you’d have nothing to vacation from. Right?

The Milliceccobachs tackle the boards.  Posted by Picasa

So WHEN are we buying beachfront property? Posted by Picasa

Bella dishin the dirt in the sand.  Posted by Picasa

Noah can't seem to get his head around this ocean business - YET. Posted by Picasa

I am Poseidon - Master of the Sand and Seas.  Posted by Picasa

The sun rises on the first morning of our beach week.  Posted by Picasa