Monday, December 29, 2008

Adventures in Solid Food

It is perhaps a little early to start introducing solids to Brynna, but we thought we'd give it a go anyway. Solids, in this case, is a relative term mostly meaning "something other than breast milk." One starts with purees of various things, and only in tiny, taster quantities. Brynna won't be getting a significant amount of nutrition from solids for months still.

We started with some mashed pear in Rochester, NY. You've already seen how well that went.

Next we tried some mashed sweet potato. We even had special tiny spoons with rubberized tips for Brynna to try. This was an unequivocal bad idea: after smearing it all over her face, Brynna decided that screaming her head off would be a better alternative.

Yesterday, at Hilary's aunt and uncle's, we made another go with some pear. Again, just a dab on the finger. Again, after smacking her lips a few times, Brynna decided it wasn't all that great.

But hey, according to experts in the know with prior experience (Brynna's grandparents), Brynna will in fact gradually come to like real food. From afar, at least, she shows a definite interest in what we're eating these days.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Behold our Brynna at four months and starting to roll from back-to-front.

Those who are keeping track, however, will be quick to point out that Brynna is in fact nearly five months old, which means that, yet again, this footage is already out of date. So it goes with young children. She is at this point able to roll back-to-front and front-to-back from either side. With any luck, I'll be able to show something like that before another month is past. By that time, at the rate she is going, she's sure to be training for half marathons!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

(Second) First Christmas

We forgot to blog yesterday, but we were on the road again. We have moved on from Rochester, NY to rural CT, where H's parents are. We lucked out again with the weather - although it was raining, it was well above freezing (low-mid 40s) and the roads were clear. The wipers had been fixed by then, so even that wasn't an issue. We managed to make great time: at about 7 hours door-to-door, it was only about a half an hour longer traveling with Brynna than we would manage otherwise. We also had one less passenger, my Da staying in Rochester of course.

And now it's Christmas! Despite the rain, there's still enough snow remaining here to call it a white Christmas (of course, the 18+ inches of snow in Rochester definitely made for a white semi-Christmas on Monday). So, on with the pictures:

Grand reading Brynna a new book found in her stocking.

Brynna can give the Gerber baby a run for its money.

Brynna and her great-grandfather Dickie.

I don't have an actual caption for this picture - you can fill in the blanks for maximum humor.

Brynna has a highchair, and just loves to have a good view of her audience!

Brynna primarily interacts with the world through what she is able to get her lips on. I don't fancy this will make a new chew toy, however.

Predictably, Brynna is much more interested in the wrapping paper than in the object it contains.

Brynna taking after Jasper: hiding out under the furniture.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dry Ice

In case anyone was curious to know: the going rate for dry ice in Rochester, MN is $1/lb. In Rochester, NY it is more than twice that, and they make you sign a release that if you freeze-burn your fingers off, it's your own problem.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Happenings in "The Other Rochester"

Brynna is now almost five months old and has been cleared by her doctor to start solid foods. I plan to wait until about six months before we get very serious about anything but breastmilk, but she is SO interested in watching us eat that we actually feel a little guilty. So, when we all sat down to eat the other day, and there turned out to be pears for dessert, I mushed up a piece and we offered Brynna a taste.

She was very curious at first:

But didn't turn out to be such a fan of the grown-up spoon thing:

And was a little skeptical of the pears being offered on Dad's finger, too:

So, we'll keep practicing with this new texture thing!

Brynna has also spent a lot of time sitting on the couch, hanging out with Grandma while I study away on my computer and Alex tries to whip various electronics into shape.

We're back on the road tomorrow for the much shorter trip to Connecticut (six hours per MapQuest, probably more like eight with little B in tow). The windshield wipers are fixed, and it looks like we'll need them, as there is supposed to be an abrupt warming and change to rain. Just when I thought Brynna's first Christmas would be white! Much better for driving than a blizzard or an ice storm, though...

Christmas #1!

Last night was Christmas here in Rochester.

Here's Brynna playing with Grandma while dinner was cooking:

Jasper very bravely venturing out to supervise Alex scratching off his lottery ticket. Extra kibble on the way?

Katherine and Christopher:

Kicking back with Da:

Art examining his own lottery ticket, in disbelief. Yes! It was a win!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

In New York

It would appear that we lucked out in oh-so-many ways with our trip so far. First, even though the windshield wipers bit the dust early on, we managed to have dry roads and no precipitation for basically the whole 22-hour drive. It got a little dicey once we left I-90, with lake-effect snow and splatter from cars ahead of us, but that was just for the final 1/2 hour.

Also, if one looks at the weather, the fact that we encountered almost no precipitation is nothing short of miraculous. Rochester, NY received a foot of snow the night before our arrival (i.e., at the time we were leaving Minnesota), and has since received two bouts of several inches more. Meanwhile, in Rochester, MN, the night after our departure (as we were laboring pulling into NY), the temperature plunged well below zero, and stayed there all through Sunday and into Monday, with 20 mph sustained winds. They got snow, too.

So, for those keeping track, we managed to time our trip to be right in the lull between two storm fronts, and moved with them as they swept across the country. Of course we planned it that way.

Never fear, dear readers: the car is being looked at now, so we will have functional wipers by the time we move on in a few days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


We're here. All's well.

Is it time for bed yet?

Sent from my iPhone

New York

After long struggle, we are approaching our day's destination: Rochester, NY.

Harry and company are meanwhile breaking into a vault at Gringot's, if that is an indication of the length of our travels.

We hope to arrive for a late-ish dinner, then collapse.

Sent from my iPhone


Just stopped in Erie to fuel up the car and Brynna.

We anticipate about 3 more hours on the road.

Sent from my iPhone


Lunch at a Panera NE of Cleveland. We found it with the useful Maps function of the iPhone, a very trusted traveling companion. Definitely looking forward to the next few hours passing quickly.

Sent from my iPhone


The miles pass by, the drivers rotate around. The hours of night pass, replacing a dark haze of sodium land with a light haze of overcast skies. The blown fuse for the windshield wipers was a portent of something worse, for now they don't work at all, fuse or no. But we have good driving weather, so all's well.

Brynna, as we had hoped, slept through most of the night, allowing us to get very far on between feedings and changes.

Jasper reminds me very much of Eyore: "Thanks for noticin' me". He is a tremendously good sport, wedged into the back of the wagon, occassionally wedged closer by a wayward bag.

This is Ohio! Flat and snowy and $10.77 from end to end.

Sent from my iPhone


How wonderful to be making measurable progress. We've moved beyond the doldrums of Illinois and on to lovely Indiana. At least, we think so - it is difficult to tell at 5:00 am.

Sent from my iPhone


A new state for B, though she was here twice in utero and we hope she
will sleep through it this time.

We are heading south to avoid Chicago. Even at this time of night,
didn't want to go there!

B and Jasper continue to be real troopers, though both confused about
this odd nighttime activity.

Sent from my iPhone


Still in Wisconsin, another rest stop, another nursing. First refeuling. Thankfully, no need to change another diaper, nor fuse for the wipers. We've started listening to Harry Potter, book VII, on the iPod, to pass the time.

We hope to follow I-39 south to I-80, and thereby avoid Chicago altogether.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, December 19, 2008


First rest stop. Nursing, a diaper change, AND a fuse change (windshield wipers). Jasper is being an incredibly good sport about being squished in the cargo area.

Sent from my iPhone

And we're off!

The Subaru is utterly packed. And we are getting onto I-90 for the long drive east to Rochester NY. Maybe we will blog state by state!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks for Noticing Me...

Alex and I were sitting in the living room this evening, totally sapped from the packing ordeal and Brynna's new reluctance to go to bed without at least two separate visits from each parent, when Jasper left his lair under the coffee table and strode purposefully across the floor.

Initially I thought he was heading into the kitchen for his dinner, but instead he trotted up the stairs.

"How cute," I thought. "He's going to check on the baby!"

Several seconds later, rhythmic retching noises floated downstairs, followed by a final, thundering hack.

Alex and I looked at each other.

"Did he seriously just go upstairs to throw up?" I asked. (Our room is the only carpeted area of the house. Courteous dogs would throw up on the hardwood or the linoleum, I think.)

"Sounds like it," came Alex's response, as we dragged ourselves upright.

Reporting to our room with paper towels and rug spray in tow, we found Jasper reclining at the top of the steps, giving us the innocent face. Stepping carefully, we scanned the floor, trying hard not to wake Brynna. No piles of dog-sick appeared, even once we broke out the flashlight.

It was either a false alarm, or he ate it back up before we could get upstairs. I am slightly ashamed to admit that we don't really have a preference either way.

And Brynna slept right through it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Busy Packing

We are packing up most of the house before we decamp to New England for the holidays and my New Hampshire rotation. And when I am not packing, I am studying for my board exam on Dec. 29. So, not much blogging.

Brynna thinks it's boring when I study, too:

Here, Mommy, let me tell you the answer...

Yay, now we can play!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Joggin' in the Cold

Thanks to Brynna's Aunt Katherine, we have a wonderful jogging stroller for Brynna. Until recently, however, Brynna couldn't hold herself up well enough for us to feel safe using it. The recommendations are to wait until six months or so, but Brynna is quite precocious. And it's just in time for a chilly start to December - perfect weather for going running.

Brynna's getup for this kind of outing, with temperatures in the teens this afternoon (and falling), is thorough to say the least. Her typical clothing these days is a fleecy suit of some sort. Over this she gets a warm sweater and a comical conical knit hat (with ear flaps!) before being put into her Dartmouth bunting. A thick blanket is placed under her in the stroller before she's strapped into the harness, which is followed by M's warm jacket. The mesh cover of the stroller is pulled down, followed by the clear plastic cover to block the wind. So far as we can tell, she is incapable of movement by this point - but hopefully also incapable of feeling the cold.

Of course, anytime someone goes running in this house, Jasper wants in on it.

Even if Jasper is highly suspicious of this stroller thing.

And they're off!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Business Agreements

begin rant...

I will relate three tales from today that Hilary and I would like to gripe about. I think you will find that, in each case, it appears that a business agreement doesn't carry the same weight it used to.

First. We have an arrangement for an apartment in Concord, where H will be spending the next few months on an away rotation. We came to the arrangement with our future landlord nearly a month ago. I thought I was risking their ill will when I realized a week later that I'd forgotten to send the security deposit - something I quickly fixed. I guess I needn't have worried about it too much: the rental agreement has yet to arrive. (For the record, we have done the necessary checks, we aren't being scammed). As far as I can tell, they have sent it twice - the last time over a week ago. Each time I confirmed the address. Meanwhile our deposit check has been cashed, and the agree-upon lease start date will pass this weekend.

The thing that really gets me is that they cannot account for where their two missives are. Why? Because they sent them through the regular post. No tracking, no delivery confirmation, no return receipt, nothing. I sent the security deposit via registered mail, specifically so that I would have a record of it being sent and received. One would think that a contract such as a rental agreement should merit at least as much protection and care.

Second. We made an arrangement for a moving company to come by the house, tally up what we plan to send to Concord, and quote us a price. I left work at 3:30 to make the appointment - Hilary being tied up with a patient. The arranged 4:00 time came, and went, kept on going well past 5:00 with no show. Meanwhile, Hilary's cellphone, which she couldn't answer while seeing her patient, rang four times and left messages:
"It's 4:00 now and I just wanted to let you know that I'm running about 15 minutes late."
4:20 "I'm just calling to confirm that we're still on. I want to make sure that there's someone home before I drive across town."
"I really hope that you've just forgotten or something, and that you're not waiting at home with your phone turned off by accident. Call me and I'll come over."
"I've got a spot around 4:30 Monday, give Paula a call and we'll set that up."

In short, this guy unilaterally decided that, because he couldn't get in touch with a client he was already late for, he would call the thing off. I would say that, in the absence of contravening information, he should assume that the agreed-upon plan was still in force. He is trying to get our business, after all.

Third. I posted on craigslist to sell my old laptop. After some wrangling, I arranged to meet a guy halfway between here and St Paul to make the transaction. I left the house at 5:30 (no show from the movers, of course), and arrive at the arranged location - a McDonald's in Cannon Falls - shortly before the agreed-upon time of 6:30. I snag a table, set the computer out, and start surfing on my iPhone to kill time. When I pull up my email, I see a message from the would-be buyer:
6:17 "Due to weather it has taken us an hour to get 20 miles i cant find your number can we reschedule? We wont make it tonight"

I'll note that 20 miles would have put him more than halfway there. I can attest, both from my own experience and from checking the weather, that it was NOT snowing that badly. I would chalk it up more to Friday evening rush hour traffic getting out of the city. I'll admit that, lacking any other way to contact me, he had few options. Still, it would have been nice for him to wait a bit for a response. In any event, I emailing him back to let him know I had arrived, gave him my number, and hung out at McDonald's for nearly an hour - just in case. Even now, some four hours later, I have yet to hear from him.

So, in a single evening, Hilary and I have been snubbed on three business agreements. True, they weren't contracts; they were agreements. But I like to think that we took them seriously enough. What's their excuse?

The rant ends...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Excitement

Lots more photos, to make up for the infrequent blogging these days...

We had a wonderful, relaxed Thanksgiving. We cooked, and when we were done cooking, we ate. We had mostly old favorites (Tofurkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, apple pie) and a couple of new treats—I made a pumpkin pie from scratch from a beautiful, local pumpkin, and Alex made a pecan pie!

Here is Brynna examining her turkey card with Grand:

Here's a family portrait before dinner. Dogs turn out to get green eyes, not red ones, and red-eye reducer in iPhoto doesn't fix green eyes. Oh, well.

Over the weekend, Mom and I took Brynna to see the Festival of Trees, because she thought Brynna would enjoy all the lights. Yes, indeed!

She is getting heavy (about 15 pounds now), so we are working on new ways to carry her:

She likes pretty much any mode of transportation, as long as there's something to drool on:

Our favorite tree, with a moose theme:

And our other favorite, a Harry Potter tree:

Brynna will mouth ANYTHING these days. We're training up another good little tea drinker:

Hanging out on the couch:

The weather has gotten cold and snowy, but we don't let that stop us! There was some sun this afternoon, and Dad and Jasper and I took Brynna out for her first of many, many runs. The jogger worked great (thanks, Kate!). There is a front plastic panel that we folded down after taking this photo, and that kept the wind off of Brynna, which was a good thing as it was already chilly enough—about 16 degrees. We also covered her with another thick layer on top of her fleece bunting, which was already on top of a fleece sleeper.

She looks a little puzzled by this new conveyance, but she rode along quite happily! Jasper was also quite tolerant of the new, potentially terrifying stroller, so that bodes well for occasions in the future when I will want to take them both out together. It's much more fun to go with Dad, though. We just switch critters halfway through, splitting the pushing-the-stroller workout and the skating-along-on-icy-pavement-after-the-charging-dog excitement.