Wednesday, August 24, 2011

one, two, three, four, five, six, SEVEN MONTHS!

I'm not even sure how Ben is seven months old. The summer has flown by and his seven month birthday surprised me.

Weight: around 20 lbs.
Height: around 27 inches (I noticed I had 27 inches from last month as well--I don't have a future in baby measuring)
Teeth: 2 on the bottom

Things Ben Loves at 7 months:
Toys! Ben enjoys all of his toys and has decided that anything can be a toy. He started being incredibly interested in tags so I bought him a taggie blanket which he really loves. He touches the tags with his fingers, grabs them with his toes and puts them in his mouth. Every tag he sees is intriguing and he will scootch around the house to grab them. Paper is another item of interest as he crinkles it and tries to put it into his mouth. He loves books and enjoys both being read to and trying to put them in his mouth. He especially loves listening to his grandmom read him books.

 Over the past couple of months Ben's interest in the dogs has grown and it reached a new level this month. Not only does he try to "crawl" to the dogs to grab their fur, he laughs hysterically at them and holds out his hands or them to lick while he is eating. Mealtime for Ben has become snacktime for the dogs as they wait patiently for a good lick here and there.

Movement: Ben does not yet sit up on his own without support. We think he could do it if he stayed still long enough but the second you sit him up he lunges forward to try to crawl. His crawl has evolved from supermans to pushing his feet on the ground, to moving his arms forward and ended the month in a frog leap. He pushes his feet back until his legs are straight, brings them both forward and then moves his hands. He is becoming incredibly efficient at this maneuver. He has mastered getting on all fours with his belly off of the ground and rocks back and forth.

Eating: Ben has continued to try solids although his interest in them is day to day. He enjoys blowing raspberries with his food when he doesn't really want to eat. We introduce a new food every four or five days. So far he has tried bananas, squash, sweet potatoes, blueberries, avocado, peaches, apricots, and rice cereal. Right now he loves avocados and they seem to digest well. He would much rather try to feed himself and loves holding and playing with his spoon. He can drink out of a sippy cup. His favorite food is still breastmilk and he nurses about every three/three and a half hours.

Sleeping: Ben is finally getting on a good nap schedule. He naps in the morning from 9:30-10:45 and then in the afternoon from around 1:30-4:00. He typically wakes up around 7:00 in the morning and is in bed by 7:30 at night. Granted, depending on the day all of this schedule can be adjusted give or take a half hour. Some nights he gives us wonderfully long stretches of sleep and others he is up every couple of hours. We are trying to stay put in Fredonia for a while to give him some consistency of routine. His bedtime routine involves a bath, a few books, a song or two and one last meal. I have started to leave a small stuffed giraffe in his crib and he wakes up an plays happily with it in the mornings.

6 Months Week One: During Ben's first week as a six month old baby he was given the honor of encouraging his dad who was taking the New York State Bar Exam. His encouragement through dirty diapers, drooling and face swallowing smiles were just what his daddy needed to get through two long days of testing. He enjoyed having Mary Smith hang out with him while I took the dogs for a walk and continued to charm his grandparents with his rugged good looks.

6 Months Week Two: Ben took a trip to the Adirondacks to visit two of the best places in the world: Deerfoot and Camp of the Woods (COTW). We spent the week with Andrew's parents, Hilary, Dan, and Joanna on beautiful Lake Pleasant enjoying a lot of family time. Ben visited Deerfoot where we tried to pre-register him as a camper for 2020, but were not allowed. He saw his dad participate in a Lone Eagle ceremony for one of his dad's former campers. He met all of the Deerfoot family and became extremely excited about one day being a camper. A COTW Ben spent a lot of time in his baby carrier. He decided that the Adirondacks was the perfect place to cut his first tooth which meant a lot of snuggle time. His first tooth came in and we felt like he read the check-list for signs of teething before it arrived: drool rash, slight fever, stuffy nose, comfort nursing, sleepless nights--Ben embraced every symptom until eventually that mean little tooth poked through his gum.

Snuggling for Teething Comfort

Once the tooth arrived, we enjoyed a lot of time hanging out with the family. His grandparents very neutrally decided that Ben was the cutest six month old baby there and I think the rest of his fan club agreed. We ate delicious food prepared by Chef Lance Nitahara, who was recently on Chopped. Hilary and I ran a lot together, we hung out by the beach, ate ice cream and of course had daily battles on the mini-golf green.
Ben and I perfecting the chin hold. My score was divided by two.

Ben hanging out in our room at COTW

Six Months Week Three: Ben and I enjoyed a week of Andrew/dad time. He took one more week of work off before beginning his career for the rest of his life. We enjoyed working in our jungle of a yard, making yummy food and watching Ben try to crawl. We also noticed that it might be time to put the bouncy seat away as his legs kick out the bottom and he tries to turn over in it. I think he will miss it tremendously as he finally figured out how to get it to make music.

"Let me out of here mom!"

In addition to a lot of daddy time, Ben also got his second tooth during the week. It arrived without all of the fanfare of the first tooth and had I not put my finger in his mouth I wouldn't have realized that it was there. We hope that the rest of his teeth will arrive so uneventfully.

6 Months Week Four: Ben and I enjoyed a lot of time outside. We worked on pulling weeds in the backyard, went for walks to the hardware store, visited his dad at his new job, and visited other friends in Fredonia. He also had his first skype date with Auntie Jo, who moved to Nashville.

Hanging out on a beautiful day!

Ben also enjoyed a play date every morning with a friend from church while her grandmother was helping at vacation Bible school. He was very intrigued by his little friend and gave her a lot of smiles as well as friendly grabs. At one time I caught him trying to put her little leg in his mouth. One morning they both fell asleep in the crib.

Ben and his buddy sound asleep

Every month with Ben is our new favorite and it is so much fun to see him grow. He is a joy to have and we are continually overcome with love or our little man.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are YOU ready for October?

I'm a monogomous hockey fan. No other sport woos me from the sweet, simple love of the NHL. Sure, I kind of pay attention to Steeler's football, and I like World Cup Soccer, but I'm not really a fan.

The Sabre's have the only spot in my heart reserved for professional sports.

But why hockey? I love hockey for a variety of reasons. First, the unbelievable, unforgettable, best announcer in all of sports: Rick Jeannerete. RJ is more than the voice of the Sabres, he's the voice of my childhood. I can't even remember how many snowy winter nights I spent pressing my ear to the fuzzy speakers of my parents cars, trying to listen to RJ on AM radio.

These are 10 of his best calls.

I love hockey because of how weird all of the players are. It's a niche sport, beloved only by Canadians, conspiracy theorists, and people who are intentionally weird. I think there is a high corellation between NHL fandom and Harry Potter fandom.

The players are strange, too. You can't tell me that Ilya Bryzgalov would get paid 6 million bucks a year in any other league.

But here's something weird: I am pretty sure the biggest reason I love hockey so much is because it has been so cruel to me as a fan. I was 15 in 1999 when the Sabres got absolutely shafted by the NHL in the Stanley Cup finals.

I mean look at that - they have the cup out on the ice before there's one minute of review. Ridiculous. Terrible. Tragic.

Then, in 2006, the Sabres lost to the freakin' Carolina Hurricane's because Jay McKee doesn't wash his shinguards. No Joke. The research triangle sun belt pretenders then won the Stanley cup, smoking the hapless Edmonton Oilers.

The next year, the Sabres were the best team in hockey by a long shot. They ran up the score on teams like crazy. Won the Presidents trophy - lost in the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row. Awful. heartbreaking.

I love hockey so much because it has teased me so awfully, and frequently. I really can't imagine what would happen in Buffalo if the Sabres manage to actually win a stanley cup someday: I think the whole place might burn to the ground.

I can't wait until October, for hockey season to begin, and for winter to really be on its way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pasta with Summer Sauce

The end of summer is one of my favorite times to cook. I love combining fresh vegetables for delectable dinners. Last night we had one of our summertime favorites: Pasta with Summer Sauce. The original recipe is from a Moosewood cookbook, but after making it a few times by the book, I've adapted it to give it my own twist. From start to finish the recipe takes as long as it takes to cook a pound of pasta and is the perfect summer meal.


1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 pint cherry tomatoes (or I used 4 roma tomatoes diced)
5 green onions diced with stems
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 quart green beans, ends removed and snapped in half
2-3 TBSP olive oil
3(ish) TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1 pound rotini

1 6-8 oz. package feta cheese, crumbled

***We've sometimes added cooked chicken breast to this recipe but we like it better without as the chicken takes away from the flavor of the vegetables.

Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. While water is boiling prepare your vegetables. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add fresh green beans to the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta/green beans. In the empty pot saute the garlic in the olive oil for 20 seconds (or until fragrant) add remaining vegetables and vinegar until heated through (this takes about 2 minutes--you don't want to do it too long otherwise the tomatoes get mushy). Off the heat stir in the pasta and green beans, toss with crumbled feta and salt and pepper to taste.

With our pasta we also seared a patio steak from a local market. It was a piece of pork tenderloin wrapped in flank steak and seasoned with salt and pepper.


I (Andrew) have had an up and down relationship with running. And when I say up and down, I mean up and down like Ross and Rachel on Friends.

In 2006 I ran the Hatfield McCoy Marathon in the 2nd best state in the Union, West Virginia. My perky and enthusiastic wife decided that any marathon with a free pre-race dinner and post-race barbecue would be a good one, and I stupidly agreed to run the marathon. We ran and ran, slogging through winter runs in Hamburg and dark early mornings.

The marathon was pretty crappy, all things considered. I didn't train enough, and although I finished 2nd in my age group, my time was slower than I wanted it to be, I hated the course, and my feet hurt for weeks afterwords.

About 6 weeks after that marathon, I rode the Wilderness 101 in State College, PA. I got my butt totally kicked, but fell deeply in love with endurance mountain biking. The rest is (personal, and kind of uninteresting) history. I have been a kind-of committed cyclist for the past 5 years, occasionally dabbling in other sports over the winter, or intermittently, but never seriously training for anything other than bike racing.

And I wasn't even too serious about that.

Over the past year or so, we've had some major life changes. First and most importantly, we got a second dog, Chopper.

Isn't he cute? I sure think so.

Oh wait, maybe he wasn't the biggest change. I remember another new addition to the family.

Ben, of course. Look at that little face.

While my lovely and loving wife takes care of pretty much all of the housework, and nearly all of the baby work, I have found myself less and less willing to leave for two or three hours to get a ride in on weekdays. Not to mention the fact that the bar exam destroyed my free time, energy, and will to live for the month of July.

So I have decided to become a runner. I am attempting to develop a personal relationship with pavement pounding, and put my faith in the church of shuffling.

But I will never run a race longer than 13.1 miles on pavement, ever again, under any circumstances, for any reason.

In furtherance of my new number one hobby, I am going to run some races next year. The only two that I am sure about, at this point in time, are the Mohican Trail Marathon, next June, and the Oil City 50k, next fall.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Things I love...Take Two

I love walking into the room and having Ben give me a great big smile.
I love that Ben reaches for me.
I love that Ben talks when he is on his changing table to the animals on the wall.
I love when Ben smiles and his eyes close because he is so happy.

I love watching Andrew make Ben laugh when he tickles him or throws him in the air.
I love it when Ben laughs because I laugh.
I love that Ben is completely relaxed in the bath tub.
I love that Ben kicks his legs in the tub and tries to eat the wash cloth.

I love that Ben gets excited when he sees his bowl and spoon.
I love that Ben dives with his mouth for his spoon when he is eating.
I love that Ben tries to feed himself.
I love that Ben tries to eat the food off of his bib.
I love that Ben loves to nurse.
I love that Ben touches my face when he nurses.

I love that Ben rolls across the floor.
I love that Ben inchworms forward for things in front of him.
I love that Ben sleeps on his tummy sometimes with his legs tucked under him.

I love that Ben looks at every ceiling for a ceiling fan.
I love that Ben laughs at the dogs.
I love that Ben enjoys reading books and tries to turn the pages.
I love that Ben is my little boy and I get to spend every day with him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The dogs...

I was never a dog person. A couple of years ago I didn't even like dogs. I thought they were cute from a distance but I didn't want anything to do with them. I hated seeing dogs while I was running as I always felt like their goal was to tackle me and interrupt my time outside. For our first three years of marriage, Andrew and I never even talked about owning a dog. He had a dog for a short time in his life named Jack that found a happy home on a farm. According to his grandmother it is the only thing he ever loved and that is why he married young.

and then we went to Deerfoot.

Deerfoot, the best place in the world and summer home to Rusty, an energetic yellow lab. Deerfoot, an all boy camp on Lake Whitaker in the beautiful Adirondacks is incredibly isolated. Moose, bears, deer, and a host of other animals take refuge in the pristine surroundings. We lived in a small cabin without electricity and my relaxed days as a camp lady gave me plenty of time to run. I didn't always relish the idea of running alone in the woods and Rusty loved to run in the woods. We were a match made in heaven. Nearly every day that I ran, I would swing by Rusty's house and pick him up for an early morning dash. On the days I visited his people and wasn't running he would whine and give me the attention only a lab can give. When another camp lady arrived and I did long runs with her by his house I could hear him talking inside and asking his owners why he didn't get to join me.

When we arrived in Morgantown after my summer of running with Rusty, I missed having a dog around. I missed the mandatory sniff breaks, pee breaks, poop breaks, water breaks, etc. I missed having a dog nearby to keep me company as I pounded out mile after mile. I missed the safe feeling I had when Rusty was along and decided that we should get a dog.

Andrew was immediately on board. One month after leaving Deerfoot we starting looking at local shelters. We found a few that we liked but eventually ended up with Stella, a beautiful mutt with floppy ears, a colorful coat and unmatched endurance. She was the perfect running dog. We ran everywhere together. She impressively ran 30 miles with me one day and didn't even act sore.

Once we had Stella, Andrew kept looking at petfinder and dropping hints that having a second dog would be nice. I did not want dog #2. He mentioned it often and would wander over to the pound to check out the local selection. In a moment of weakness after I an incredibly long day, we ended up with Tessa, the most annoying border collie/blue heeler puppy in the world. I hated her. I wanted to take her back. She barked. She chewed holes in our walls. She stole brownies off the table. She wanted to play fetch with EVERYTHING. She stole our socks. She stole our shoes. She chewed the coffee table. She chewed the kitchen table. She escaped from her crate when we were gone. She pooped on the couch. She would throw "sit down" strikes while we were walking when she thought we'd gone far enough.
Stella and Tessa

But then she grew up. Andrew worked tirelessly with her to walk on a loose leash, taught her tricks and her vocabulary grew. I became pregnant with Ben and the dog that I once loathed decided she was my dog and began to sleep on my side of the bed. She learned directional words, she learned how to be calm(er) around other people, she learned how to catch a frisbee, and she let Andrew know when I was in labor.

While Tessa was making her transformation from worst dog in the world to a companion we cherish, Stella turned out to be too feral for a home environment and we had to say good-bye on our vet's recommendation. She started trying to bite people and other dogs and with Ben in the oven, we were nervous to have her around. We were all saddened by her death and Andrew once again began looking at petfinder.

We adjusted to being a one dog family once again but not for long. Shortly after saying good-bye to Stella we became responsible for Brutus, a huge sweet Doberman. Tessa loved to bother him and enjoyed having a big dog around but he was never really "our" dog. When we got him into a Doberman rescue neither of us were upset because I was 7 months pregnant and a Doberman was never really in the plan.
Big Ole' Brutus

After Brutus left, Tessa was sad. Petfinder and craigslist once again received several hits a day from Andrew.

Seven weeks before Ben arrived, Tessa's dreams came true and we met a puppy and his family. Chopper a black lab/Austrailian Shepherd mix was the dog of the litter she liked. Tessa immediately let him know who was in charge and even though Chopper now outweighs Tessa and is several inches taller, she rules dog world in our house. He is the biggest snuggler in the world and likes to be in physical contact with at least one human at all times. He dotes on Ben and doesn't care if Ben grabs his paws, fur, tail, etc. Chopper is still a puppy and naturally I don't love him because I am a cold-hearted human who doesn't like puppies. He's chewed my Oakley's, flip flops, trail running shoes, water bottle, cell phone battery, car clicker, bike water bottles, etc. He steals food off the counter and stole a hot dog out of my hand. He jumps up. He tries to hold your hand with his mouth. In a few months however, I know that he too will not be a puppy and then I will love him.


Now that we've embraced our lives as dog owners, I don't know how we can ever go back. Yes, they are still a pain at times and I hate finding Tessa's floating hairs everywhere, but I love watching their butts wiggle with excitement when I walk in the door after being gone for 30 seconds.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Auntie Jo

Reading with Auntie Jo in February

Today I was feeling a little blue as we said good-bye to one of the aunties. Joanna, Andrew's sister, is headed to Nashville for her Master's at Vanderbilt. She will be gone for one year but will be back for holidays. We are incredibly excited for her as she begins this adventure but also sad to see her leave. Joanna and Ben are equally smitten with each other. He knows her face and her voice and lights up with smiles when he sees her. He will even reach for her if I am holding him.

Ben feeling snuggly with Auntie Jo

Over the past six months, Auntie Jo has been around a lot and we saw her at least once a month while in Morgantown and at least once a week since our move to New York. She visited him shortly after his birth, hung out with Ben while we were house hunting in Fredonia and even gave up her spring break to come to Morgantown for an entire week to help watch Ben.

Ben and Joanna at Katie and Nick's wedding

Upon our arrival in Fredonia, Ben and I were both incredibly excited to see Aunt Jo as she welcomed us. Having her around has helped ease the sting of leaving friends in Fredonia. She's graciously watched Ben while I ran to to the grocery store, ran with Hilary at Camp of the Woods, and whenever else I needed her. Joanna loves to smother our little guy with kisses, sing him songs, snuggle him to sleep and read him books. She has gifted him with adorable outfits, books, and spent hours making a developmentally appropriate mobile for his crib. We've enjoyed having her nearby for walks, hang-out time and spontaneous visits. All of us will miss seeing her so much but we are excited for weekly skype dates so that Ben can show off all of his new skills.

We love you Auntie Jo!