Sunday, January 29, 2006

We promised more pictures... we deliver

We just got back our first roll of film from our new manual focus camera and wanted to share some of the results with our blog audience. We are very, very impressed with the way it takes pictures. On the actual prints the colors came out gorgeously, and the images are all very crisp and clear (where they are supposed to be).

Patty took this shot of one of Gabe's toys in the sunlight

And this one of Gabriel

We also picked up a set of photographic magnifiers so that we could use the camera to really get down close to things and take some detailed shots. They look like this: ...and they work great!

Gabe's toe
Have we mentioned lately we're going to Peru? Yeah, we're so excited that we're taking pictures of the guidebook. We're going to set up a new shared album on Shutterfly with the rest of the pictures. If you want to be able to see them, send us an e-mail. Everyone who saw the last shared album will be able to see this one too.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

We Go Live In 5...4...3...2...

This is our first video from Google Video, and since it's free, we plan to make many more.

Rolling the Dice

There is a new Yahtzee champ in town. Feast your eyes on this doozy of a score. And yes, that's three (3!) Yahtzees in one game. Beat that, Mom A!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Goin' Commando

Hallelujah! After a two-day hunger strike, he finally ate something! Well, to be fair, he had a little bit yesterday, like a teeny tiny little piece of bread and a yogurt and some diaper cream, but other than that he hasn't eaten anything since Monday. We're on Day Two of the Commando Method Of Getting Your Child To Eat Something Other Than Baby Food, Oatmeal, and Cheerios. The Commando Method (our name for it) entails providing healthy, well-rounded meals for the little one and sitting with him and eating the same thing. It also means no snacks and no letting him fill up on milk or water before a meal. At dinner time, he ate tator tots and chicken tenders, our usual Wednesday meal (because P has to leave at 6:30 for tutoring). We also let him have a go at drinking from a regular (but plastic, we're not stupid!) cup, and he did brilliantly. We were so happy that we let him have TWO cereal bars AND yogurt before bed!

The day even started out on a good note, because Gabriel's hives were completely gone. Let's back up for a minute. Last night, the Chipster was looking for anything he could eat that would not meet our approval, so after eating moisturizer, diaper cream, and chewing gum, and after refusing eggs, chicken, raisins, and penne pasta, he found a plate with salt and cajun seasoning on it and got to work. Within an hour, he was covered in hives. His doctor and Gramma said not to worry as long as he was breathing fine and not under any distress - in fact, he was the happiest he'd been all day - so we gave him some Atarax and put him to bed. By the morning, he was all better.

We just found this thing called the Mechanical Contrivium, and it's hilarious. At least it can be, if you put the right thing in the box. Try "my butt."

I am interested in - do tell me about

By the way, have you heard about silent dating? Speed dating is so yesterday!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Extra Special Double Monday Bonus Post: Wildlife Edition

You may recall that a few posts ago we showed you our backyard visitor, this guy:

Duplicate picture, not a repeat visit

At the time, we speculated that our hawk was actually a falcon, or maybe it was a hawk after all. Truth is, we had no idea what it was. Thankfully, a lot of people in our family are smarter than we are, or have better bird books, or both. Over the weekend, a very informative phone call was placed to us by Mom Angle and Nick. Nick found a description in one of his books of the Northern Marsh Hawk, also known as the Harrier. No, not this Harrier; while they are certainly cool one of them would have done substantially more damage to our backyard than our feathered friend. When Mom asked if our backyard visitor had a head that looked like an owl (even though it clearly wasn't an owl), we knew we had a winner. The striped tail, the spotted back, all key features. They can range into Georgia during the winter, and often have variations in head color which would explain why ours was buff in the head while most of the harriers you see in pictures are brown.

So there you have it, mystery solved. Not a falcon. Yes, a hawk, but specifically a marsh hawk, also known as a harrier.

Gabe goes back to that place where they make him cry

Today was Gabriel's 18 month doctor's visit. Unfortunately for the Chipster, that also meant the injection of several immunizations into his year and a half old body. Of course Gabriel handled it like a champ. The really good news is that our skinny little child has moved up from the 10th percentile in weight to the 25th percentile (he must be getting his height from a grandparent or great-grandparent, since he's at an oustanding 75th percentile in "tallitude"). We left armed with some new techniques for getting Gabriel to eat something other than oatmeal or yogurt (techniques that are much easier for the doctor to tell us about since he doesn't have to sit through the consequences) and we'll see how that goes over the next few weeks.

We always forget Tylenol on immunization days, but thankfully our doc has a supply on hand

There's no substitute for a little comfort from mommy

When we returned home, a little something we'd found online had been delivered to our door.

We want to say that we absolutely adore our Minolta Maxxum and intend to keep using it as our main picture taking device... well, other than the digital so that we can provide you, gentle reader, with copious images of our son. We love the newness of it and all the automatic features and the fact that you can turn it over to complete manual control.

However, we've been talking a lot about learning how to take better pictures and how we'd like to take more black and white. We have been looking for a really good bargain on a second film camera, a manual advance camera, for a while now and a week or so ago Patty found this particular gem on eBay for a really, really, really inexpensive price. It was essentially a steal and we snapped it up (get it? snapped... camera... eh, nevermind). It arrived today and we can't wait to start using it. In the next month or so look for a bunch of artsy-fartsy type pictures and some in black and white (nevermind the fact that we could, actually, turn any picture that we take with the digital camera into a black and white, that's just too easy).

It's in great shape

And has a nifty 50mm lens

Nobody's going to complain about more pictures of Gabriel, are they?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Eating Like A Big Boy

Chip has graduated to eating in a real chair. He keeps climbing onto every chair, including the high counter chairs, and he's pretty good about staying on them until he gets someone to help him down. We decided to let him eat dinner like a big boy today, since he's been acting like such a good big boy lately. He even says (signs) "thank you" on his own now! Anyway, you can see how much we have to cover him up for mealtime. We almost bought him an art smock at Ikea today just for eating.

He's also become quite the virtuoso pianist. He climbs up onto the piano bench, turns on the piano light, and plays very careful melodies that use the full range of keys. We love to watch him lean over to reach the lowest notes and then cross his left hand over right (very advanced!) to tinkle some of the higher keys. His music sounds beautiful, and he even applauds himself after every song! Not too shabby for a year-and-a-half-plus-two-days-old.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Animals and Muppets

It turned out our hawk was a falcon, best we can tell, but we can't identify its exact species. Nothing we could find had a tan head and spotted back. The closest we could find was a peregrine falcon, which would be completely cool, but that wasn't an exact match, either. We're out of its normal range, but that doesn't necessarily rule it out. The fact that it's endangered makes it unlikely, though.

Also on Sunday, we found a surprise in one of our Christmas boxes when we were putting away our decorations. We don't know who was more surprised, the little guy or us. We let him loose back in the basement to eat our spiders. Besides, we like seeing lizards in our basement. They're cute, and as far as we know, they don't do any harm.

Gabriel has a few computer games that he loves to play. They are all on the Sesame Street website. Here they are:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Hawk and the Falcon

We saw a hawk, possibly red-tailed, flying around our backyard today. It was so big that it broke the branch it landed on and fell a good 15 feet before spreading its wings. It was very exciting.

Later, we finished A Streetcar Named Desire, which we'd started on the plane, and then we watched The Maltese Falcon. Both were good, but The Maltese Falcon was a little pulpy.

By the way, щасливого нового року! (for those of you who still use the Julian calendar).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Good Luck, Grammie!

We got to see Grammie for about an hour on Wednesday. A company flew her down here for an interview, but she had to go back right away so we drove her to the airport. No word yet on the job offer. She looked really amazing, as you can see in the photo.

Chip surprises us every day with the things he does. Yesterday, he went into the coat closet and grabbed the broom and dustpan so he could sweep the kitchen floor (while Mommy was on the phone). Then, he went into the living room and grabbed a screwdriver that was lying on the table, turned his dump truck upside down, and went to work. He never did tell us what was wrong with it, but it seems that he's fixed it because it's working fine. Seriously, though, he really did get that screwdriver into a screw hole and started turning it. He must have seen us changing batteries the day before, but we sure didn't think he was paying attention. He's amazing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Funny Boy

Today, Gabriel took Mommy to Moe's for lunch with some other babies and mommies and then to Hiram Coffee House for some one-on-one time. We played tic-tac-toe, and Chip made some important phone calls and worked on his Yahtzee game, as you can see in the photos. We had a great time.

Our little comedian seems to want allergies just like Daddy. We're learning that your kids show you what you do most by imitating you. Gabriel has been fake sneezing since yesterday, and today had a fake sneezing fit all through his dinner. At least he holds his napkin over his nose while he sneezes. He also started chewing gum the day before yesterday. He tryed a few pieces before he found one he liked and then strutted into the kitchen where we were to show us what a big boy he is.

Monday, January 9, 2006

The Bees are Buzzing

...and the ladybugs are appearing. It seems the warm weather we're having is fooling them into thinking that it's spring. There are also some trees in bloom.

We did more house shopping today. We revisited the one we like the most, but it depends where Mom and Dad work whether or not this will be a good location for them. We'll keep looking.

Gabriel made a sign sentence today. He signed "please" and "eat", meaning "Please, may I have some crackers?"

We've added a new permanent link on the right side of the page. It's the 1950-1980 yearbook for the Kapel'a Banduristiw imena Tarac' Shevchenko (not sure about the forms of the last two words), or the Bandurist Choir in the name of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's revered poet. His famous work is Kobzar, which is a sort of wandering minstrel bandurist, I think. A bandura is an instrument that is half double bass, half harp. Anyhow, look for Havrylo Machynia, P's grandpa ("did"). His story is really interesting but for another day.

That's it for today. My boys are in bed and I'd like to join them.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Z Rizdvom Hristovim

Merry (Orthodox) Christmas! We celebrated today by making our first ever homemade Ukrainian dinner (even though it's supposed to be eaten on Sviat Vechir - Christmas Eve), and it was fantastic, if the chef does say so herself. We had stuffed salmon and varenyky, and for dessert we had Pillsbury out-of-the-freezer-at-Super Target cookie dough pie (not so Ukie, but sooo yummy). Yes, we know the pysanky on the table are for Easter, but they make such beautiful decorations!

We stuffed the salmon with a mixture of lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, onion, celery, and rice and covered it with the remainder after rubbing it with garlic and butter. The rice came out a little undercooked, but overall it tasted and smelled fantastic.

The varenyky (pierogi) were a little more tricky. We made the dough from scratch, and it was super sticky. We went through an enormous amount of flour to keep it from sticking to the wax paper. We made the filling from mashed potatoes (from the box, it was a very late dinner and besides, we're not that anal!), onions, and cottage cheese, with a dash of salt and pepper. After doing only a couple, we got the hang of it and made the rest pretty quickly. Not a single one opened up while cooking, so we're pretty proud of that. After they were drained, we tossed them in butter and P added a good dose of smetana (sour cream) on top of hers. They were perfectly cooked - nice and firm - and they expanded nicely, and the dough, which was pretty tasteless uncooked, developed a really nice flavor. We'll never eat pierogi out of a box again.

We were so proud of how well the dinner turned out, and we're very excited to be keeping Ukrainian cultural tradition in our family. With Chip in bed, we were able to sit in the dining room, have some wine (Ecco Domani pinot grigio) with dinner, and (gasp!) talk for once! Here's a photo of the proud chef:

We also did some house shopping for the future Georgians, Patty's mom and dad, today and found a really great one, but it's too far from everything. We have a couple more to see tomorrow, and hopefully we (along with Mom and Dad) can choose one by Monday. Anyway, Merry Christmas! Here are a couple of links that you might enjoy:

Ukie Christmas Eve

Ukie Christmas and why it's celebrated 13 days "late"

More of the same but with some great pictures

Thursday, January 5, 2006

On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas

...Dad and Gail gave to us, presents under the tree. We got to open more presents today, this time under our own tree, and it was really great. Gabriel loved his toys and played with them all night. He especially loved the police helicopter, of course, and we're even big fans of Playmobil toys.

We did a lot of house shopping today for Mom and Dad, and there is one that stands out, but we're going to keep looking just in case. We also took a bunch of photos last night and today, and Gabriel even took a couple. We were amazed at how well his first photo came out - it's rare that the hazel in his mommy's eyes shows up in photos (and by the way, we could all do without whatever that is in her teeth, and oy, that grey hair), so we see National Geographic photography in his future. Here are some of our favorites from last night and today:

Going for a walk last night

"This house is safe enough for me"

Vroom, vroom!

Trying to outrun the camera

Chip gives the train conductor a career change

Cutest pjs ever

GLA's first photo ever

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The Blog Is Back

Happy New Year!

Just a quick little blog to get back into the habit. We had a wonderful 2+ week vacation and have lots to look forward to in the next few months.

Back up north, Gabriel got to spend lots of time with all of his family and loved every second of it, except the seconds spent in the car (and there was lots of time in the car), oh, and the visit to Santa Claus at Oakland Mall. He was totally spoiled with presents, which was not really a surprise, but he really has outgrown his old toys and most of his old clothes, so it was all great. Mommy and Daddy will be playing with a lot of the toys, especially the train from Aunt Laura and the H3 from Uncle Jack and the dinosaur book from Aunt Candy and Uncle Jim, but we will be sure to share.

Chip also got to really play in the snow for the first time (and only, so far, since it all melted right after Christmas). At Aunt Laura's house, we took about half an hour to dress him (for a 10-minute outing) in his snowsuit, boots (that light up!), winter coat, mittens, and hat, and he looked just like Randy from A Christmas Story ("I can't put my arms down!" "You can put your arms down when you get to school."). As Mom said, he looked like a tick about to pop. After a little confusion about the white stuff, he ended up having a great time. We just had to make sure he didn't fall face down because he couldn't use his arms to get back up!

The biggest news of the trip was that Gabriel will have a new Grandpa! Nick will become Grampa Nick at an unspecified date, but we are soooooo excited. He already loves his newest Grampa, and we love him too, even though we had to come up with yet another unique grandparent name to go with Gramps, Grammie, Granddad, Grandma Gail, and Gramma, not to mention that Aunt Sophie and Uncle Phil have adopted him as their grandchild as well and skipped right over the great-great-nephew bit. Gabriel is so lucky, and we are so lucky, to have such a huge extended family of people, every one of whom loves us so much and whom we love so much, and it keeps growing! But we digress... Mom is so happy, and Nick is so happy, and they are such a great couple that everyone around them can't help but have a great time. So we will be celebrating for a long time to come!

The other big news is that Mom and Dad sold their house, so they will become Georgians in the next few weeks. We know they must be nervous, but we've been through the big change (well, not that big change) and know that it will end up to be an exciting adventure for them. They are really going to love it here - the people, the climate, everything there is to do - there's so much we can't wait to show them. We're shopping for houses for them to rent for their first year here, and it's going to be fun picking a place. There seem to be some great choices.

We decided to go to Peru for Erica and Raul's wedding and to sightsee and have our own little adventure. We decided that we need to let go of Gabriel for one week and concentrate on us spouses, and we also decided that one of our top priorities is travel and having new experiences in different cultures. Those two things, combined with the chance to support our friends in a unique way and a pretty great deal from Priceline, made the decision evident for us. Plus, the national dish is ceviche. That was a pretty good advertisement in itself. We highly recommend This is the second time we've used them, and we've gotten great deals and great times both times. We're flying Delta non-stop both ways. Granted, our return flight will be a red-eye, but we don't mind that at all. That will be one less night we have to stay at a hotel, as we'll go to the airport when we'd normally be going to bed. We are planning to stay in Lima for 3 days and Cuzco for 3 days, with a trip there to Machu Picchu. We've already got the guidebook and are studying our Spanish. Raul's friend owns a travel agency and will help us get organized, and maybe he will even find a way for us to camp at a base camp in the Andes or on the Inca trail for a night. That would be a definite highlight. This trip will also be a celebration of our sort-of 10 year anniversary, so that will be a bonus.

Raul left for his final term of study in Peru today, so we wish Erica lots of busy days as she counts the days until their wedding. Gabriel and I couldn't get to the airport to hang out with him during his super-long layover, so we were bummed about that, especially since he decided as an alternative to follow a shady character who was on his flight from Montreal... hope he didn't get into any trouble. Knowing Raul, he probably carried out a covert operation to figure out exactly why the guy was acting strange and took notes. Then he probably had a hot tea and read a book.

We also found out that our friend Judy will be getting married, probably in May, to a magna cum laude doctoral graduate from Duke who is also a minister. Wow. They both sound very happy, and so we are very happy for them! Lots of weddings this year, and what a great start to 2006!