Monday, June 30, 2008

YYYYAAAAAK!

In an earlier post I mentioned that I wanted to get some video up here of Lily saying "YAK!". So here it is. Mike was good enough to capture this for us while they were visiting. Apparently we stink at the video thing. Thank goodness we have competent friends.


video

Monday, June 23, 2008

Powderhouse Park: A Photo Essay

When I'm away Gordon and Lily often do fun things - like go eat dinner in a park on a nice summer evening. These pictures were taken on one such outing during my last trip to Houston. G took Lily to Powderhouse Park where they met a co-worker of his and her dog. Seeing these makes me wish I had been there too!






Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lily and the Philadelphia Zoo


This weekend we are visiting Gordon's brother and his family in Southern New Jersey. It is Ba Ba's (G's Dad) birthday and we thought that was a fine excuse to get everyone together. So hopefully there will be at least one other post full of adorable little girl pictures. But for now I wanted to tell you about our trip to the Philadelphia Zoo today. It was Lily's first zoo outing - I was very excited to take her there as she's very into animal names/sounds lately. It's funny how much of our early vocabulary seems to revolve around animals and the soudns they make.

Unfortunately Gabe's wife is busy at a medical conference this weekend, but the rest of the Wong clan packed up early this morning and drove off to Philadelphia. We went armed with a bunch of snacks, two stroller, an Ego, and an adult to little girl ratio of 5:3. The Philadelphia Zoo is really great and we all had a fun time. Highlights included:

A Yak Sighting - OK actually it was some kind of cattle, but Lily is into yaks lately. She got some great Eric Carle animal flashcards and loves finding the yak card and running around saying "YYYYYYAAAAAK" (note to self: post video, it's so funny). It sounds alot like the "Ya" at the end of a kung-fu "hi-ya!" Anyway, the cattle thing did look alot like a yak - see for yourself:



A pony ride for Sera and Valora:



Elephants, tigers, monkeys, kangaroos, rhinos, jaguars, lions - in short, lots of good material for a budding photographer with a telephoto lens and a fancy camera.




A "Children's Zoo" complete with a petting zoo. Lily ran up and patted ALL the goats. She also got to watch ducks for awhile - quacking away the whole time. These pics didn't come out so great, but G's going to try editing one into goodness for us.

Well we had a great time and hope to visit the zoo again. It was extra special to be there with the whole Wong clan (we missed you Que!). Thanks to Gabe and the girls for showing us a great time on our visit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Deck Garden - June

I've been remiss about posting our deck garden updates - even though Gordon has done a great job gathering the photographic evidence! So the photos here were all taken sometime in the month of June, but not all at the same time.

First we've got Gordon's awesome tomatoes. So far the Earthboxes seem to be delivering as promised. The plants are growing wonderfully and pretty much all have flowers. Some even have little green fruit already. Gordon planted 6 different varieties this year, so we'll have a contest to see which ones do best.



Then there's my "whiskey barrel succession garden". This one has been largely successful, but I have learned a few lessons. In the first picture you can see the bok choy coming up in the middle as well as the peas going nuts around the edges. I had a really really hard time bringing myself to thin the bok choy - so I didn't. I just couldn't bear to pull up any of it and lose the plants (see, I'm greedy - ask Gordon, he'll tell you). As a result the bok choy was pretty crowded and only some of it came out yummy. We did end up eating all of it - but I also think we left it in the ground a little too long. Some flowered and were really just one long stalk instead of the leafy yummy baby bok choy.



The peas are another story altogether. I wanted to plant bush peas here so that I wouldn't have to worry about a trellis. But when I shopped for my seeds online I couldn't find any. So I went with "dwarf" peas - hoping that they'd be the same thing. Well not so much, dwarf peas are shorter than normal pea plants, but they still send out tendrils and need a trellis. Well instead of putting a trellis in when I first spotted this problem I just let it go and procrastinated. By the time I DID put the trellis the peas plants had wrapped themselves around each other pretty well. Below you can see me trying to work them loose. We did get a bunch of peas from them - which we ate tonight yum - but I think they would have done even better if treated nicely from the start. Turns out the string trellis was pretty easy to put together too - silly me.



There's also Lily's toddler garden. It started out with pansies, easter egg radishes and thumbelina carrots. Sadly, the carrots and radishes suffered the same fate from desperate need of thinning. The radish were quick out of the gate and easily took over the pot. I didn't thin them and so they stayed relatively small and completely crowded out the carrots. Poor carrots never had a shot. We've picked and eaten the radishes already, so I may try putting some more carrots in there. Funny thing is that we got radishes in our first farm share and I was shocked at the size of them. Now I know what they're supposed to look like!

Lily has really taken to watering all the plants with us -she's pretty good at it too. For some reason her favorite is the mint plant - the picture below shows her watering that one. Grandma was genius to buy her this watering can for Easter -she loves it. Now she points to the back deck and says "cat" and "wawa". Since Gordon does most of the watering chores she'll often point out the window of her room during the day and say "dada wawa?".



And of course, the flourishing herb box. There's really not much we do wrong with this one now. The plants from last year: chives, tarragon, oregano and thyme, have come back in full force. Gordon added some sage, basil and rosemary transplants that are all doing great now as well. The sage is the winner there, but the basil is quickly catching up. We were worried about the basil at first, but now that the weather is getting warm they are doing great. I also planted some cilantro from seed and that's fighting its way up as well. In the picture on the right you can see our budding gardener surveying the scene outside her window.



The newest project are pole beans. Gordon built this awesome trellis for me out of bamboo. We went to Mahoney's looking for a trellis and were amazed that it cost nearly $100 for some pine boards clumsily nailed together. Gordon claimed he could build a better one. I was skeptical, but obviously had no reason to be. I love my bean trellis. I planted four "hills" of beans about 1.5 weeks ago and we've got four plants sprouting. Go beans Go!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Corinne, Mike & Rocket

Ever since our friends Mike & Corinne moved from Somverille to the Pacific Northwest we've been lucky enough to get at least one visit from them each year. This year that trend continued as they were pulled out this way by a wedding. The only difference is that this time Corinne was packing a few extra, very welcome pounds. They arrived on the red eye Thursday morning and hung out with us the WHOLE weekend - well with the exception of some wedding festivities on Thursday and Saturday. Anyway - we had a wonderful time with them and felt so lucky to get to see them as much as we did. Highlights from their visit were:

A quick visit to the Growing Center in Somerville for a playdate followed by a huge, yummy brunch outside on the patio at the Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square. Here's a picture of Lily hanging out there with Uncle Mike.

 


Ice cream at Christina's in Inman Square. Lily and I "shared" a cup of oreo. And by shared I mean Lily grabbed the cup and the spoon and then calmly peeled my fingers off the cup whenever I tried to hold on to it. Even if I was just holding it to give her better traction for scooping! Mike and Corinne brought some maple walnut back to our place so we got to continue enjoying Christina's all weekend.

 


Dinner on our back porch - Gordon made some yummy shrimp and pineapple skewers, a great salad with veggies from our CSA and some meat of some kind (I'm writing this later and my memory is fading.. ugh). After going through our pictures from the weekend I realized that Lily must have been both Gordon AND Mike's favorite subject - because most of the photos are of her. So here's one of Lily hanging out behind Corinne's chair after dinner.

 


A "girl's night out" movie - Corinne and I managed to sneak out Friday night to see Sex & The City. It was particularly apt timing since she and I watched the entire show together on DVD when she lived in Somerville. We used to have a weekly craft night during which we'd crochet and watch TV. We worked our way through both Ally McBeal and Sex and the City this way. Ah - I do miss my girls friends. It seems that all of them have up and moved away on me!

And finally a big group get-together complete with mini-baby shower for Mike, Corinne and Rocket. But that's subject enough for another post....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

WhaleKites and Tantrums

One way in which babies/toddler behavior seem to be like New England weather is that if you don't like it at the moment, just wait a minute or two - it'll change. The past few days have had some really fun aspects and some not so fun ones. The fun part has been all the talking she's doing! I did a couple of posts with word lists, but it's gotten hard to keep up lately. One night this week, she threw out four new words in about an hour and a half. My favorite so far is "whale".

I just bought her a bunch of new Carter's PJs while I was in Houston. One of them has a whale on the shirt. So she's sitting in her room before bed the other day "reading" Eric Carle's "The Grouchy Ladybug". At the end of the book the last creature the ladybug tries to spar with is a whale. So I took the opportunity to point out the whale in the book and the whale on her shirt. Lily was delighted and kept pointing to the book and her shirt and saying "whale, whale". The next morning she showed me the whale on her shirt again while I was changing her diaper. Fast-forward to tonight. She's wearing another light blue shirt, but this one has a kite on it. She points to her shirt, looks at me and says "whale". So I say "kite", she says "whale, whale" - this continues a while. Finally I go get the whale PJs to show her the difference. The following conversation ensues:

Me: (points to PJs) Whale , (points to shirt) "Kite"
Lily: (points to PJs) Whale
Me: (points to shirt)Kite
Lily: (points to shirt) Kite
Me: Yes! that's a kite that's right
Lily: (looks at me very seriously then points to shirt) WhaleKite!

Lily 1, Mom 0

On the less fun side of things she's been trying her hand at some really nice tantrums lately. The first one was my favorite kind - a public tantrum.
The scene: Pottery Barn Kids in the Burlington Mall.

It's getting to lunch time and we go in there because I just couldn't resist the adorable kid-sized Adirondack chairs any longer. Some of you may know about my love/hate relationship with PBK. The stuff is SO cute, but my god WHO BUYS THIS STUFF?
Me, that's who.

So I'm in there with her and Lily takes a look at the cute little table all covered with plates and cups and I'm pretty sure thinks to herself, oh great lunch now WHERE'S THE DAMN FOOD? So for the next 10 minutes I try to procure a cute chair while she tries to mouth every plate and cup on the table pausing only to throw herself on the floor and scream when I take something out of her mouth.

My favorite part is when the helpful PBK salesperson tells me that sure they can bring the chair to the loading dock, they make one trip on the half hour and I have to be there when they get there with it. Umm... yeah, scheduling anything to the minute with a toddler, not so much. So after some brainstorming (all the while Lily is pitching a fit) we decide that I'll just haul the box out of the mall myself while pushing Lily in her stroller... somehow.

Finally I escape PBK and the stares of all the other Moms with their perfectly behaved kids who I'm certain are shaking their heads in pity and judgment. Lily is, of course, still freaking out. I wrestle her back into the stroller, but she was having NONE of that. Finally I get us to a mall sofa, sit her down and pull out the lunch I've packed to see what kind of snack we can have. Here's what I find in my bag:

hummus, sunbutter smeared on a rice cake, cucumbers and cheese

Ok folks, what was I thinking? and WHERE ARE THE ANIMAL CRACKERS? To my dismay she rejects the cheese and we end up sitting on this nice sofa eating hummus with a spoon. and smearing it all over the place. Now I'm ignoring the glares of the mall goers who are thinking "really? can't she feed her kid in the food court where they have tables and NAPKINS?"

The morals of this story are:
Hummus, although healthy and a favorite, is really not great mall food.
Always pack some animal crackers
Don't forget the wipes.

Lily 2, Mom 0

Monday, June 9, 2008

Keepin' Cool

It seems that I brought the crazy hot Houston weather back to Boston with me. It is hot here - like seriously, disgustingly, August-in-New-England hot. And it's only June! Yesterday we were bowing to the gods of central air while we kept cool inside. However, we discovered that our front deck gets some pretty nice shade in the afternoon. It's got a northern exposure and our building is tall enough to block the sun altogether at that time of day. So we spent an hour or so outside there with Lily and my parents in the afternoon. Lily loves her sand/water table - well let's be honest - it's mostly a mud table. Her favorite activity is carrying the sand from the sand side to the water side and then clapping enthusiastically. It makes me wonder - do the makers of these tables really think that it's going to stay "sand on one side water on the other"? Or is the whole design intended for mud?

Gordon brought a little spray bottle outside and started spraying Lily with it to cool her down. She LOVED it. And decided it was the new great way to drink water. So long sippy cups - hello spray bottle. She'd walk up to whoever had the bottle and just stand there with her mouth open waiting. Hysterical. We finally got her a "big girl cup" and let her drink that while dumping it all over herself. I really do love summer.

On a side note, one of the great joys of parenting has been watching Lily interact with her grandparents. She loves them and they all adore her. We are so thankful that our parents are close by and get to spend time with her - how lucky that makes all of us. Gordon's Dad - Lily's Yeh Yeh - came up to stay with her last week while I was in Houston. He cooked her tons of yummy food - she LOVES his cooking - and indulged her shamelessly with walks and park trips and anything she wanted. Then she had such a wonderful time with my parents, Grammy and Papa, on Sunday. In fact, when it was time for them to go home she said "shoes?" and ran and got her shoes so she could go too!




Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mommy: MIA

Today is my third day away from home. I left early Tuesday morning to fly to Houston for work. As most of you know my job invovles a trip to Houston every time there's a space shuttle mission. Believe me, it sounds WAY more glamorous than it actually is. My Mom jokes that she looks for me on NASA TV in Mission Control. And although I AM in Mission Control - I'm not in the FCR (flight control room) that folks see on TV. Instead I sit in the MER (mission evaluation room) with the rest of the engineers watching data stream down to our computers and listening to the conversations on "the big loop" (air to ground) and the GNC (guidance, navigation and control) channels. (Ugh - could aerospace talk have MORE acronyms? I think not). Anyway, to give you an idea of how thrilling my flight support time is - I spent Tuesday afternoon sitting there with my headset on watching the CMG (control moment gyro) saturation numbers and getting excited everytime it crept up past 50%. Sounds a little like a 24-episode now, doesn't it? (lots of gratuitous dial shots and target disaster levels) In our case, our flight control designs are only utilized if the space station's CMGs can't handle the disturbance torque and saturate. So the whole shift consists of me and my co-worker Ed watching those saturation numbers and making sure the astronatus have the right data entered in the DAP (digital autopilot) just in case. The ONE time in recent past that we did saturate and switch to shuttle control I was home on maternity leave! This time was nice and boring, the CMGs handled everything fine and Ed and I had ample time to reserach and discuss the fall TV line up. I'm back in the MER tomorrow for the relocation of the JLP (this one's an acronym within an acronym and just isn't worth it). After that I get to race to the airport and GO HOME!

Phew - still awake? So while I'm living my exciting Houston life, Gordon and Lily are getting on at home without me. Of course, they do just fine - but I miss them both terribly. I have to admit I miss Lily a bit more, but I think that's because I still get to talk to Gordon every night. In contrast, I feel so disconnected from my little girl. Every night I quiz Gordon to see if she's "noticed I'm gone." I'm not sure if I do this to torture myself or to fulfill some narcissistic drive for validation that I'm needed at home. Anyway apparently at dinner last night Lily looked over at my empty spot, turned her palms up in her questioning gesture and said: "Becky?". Yup folks, "Becky", not "Mommy" or "Mama" or any of those easy to say monikers usually reserved for the woman who gave birth to you. Although tonight he tells me that she said "Mommy" during dinner. Maybe he's just telling me what I want to hear though! I guess she associates me with eating - like "wow, if that Becky woman's not here when the food is served there really must be soemthing up!"

In order to keep myself busy and assuage my sadness/guilt at not being home I like to engage in some retail therapy when here. My favorite hotel is conveniently located across the street from a Jamba Juice (YAY) and down the street form a REALLY BIG MALL. Actually the whole NASA/Clear Lake area is a big strip mall as far as I can tell - so it's an excellent place for some shopping. Last night I hit Carters and bought a large number of really cute summer PJs. Tonight was Gap Kids (I should really figure out a way to stop myself from ever walking into that store). It really is fun to stroll through a mall totally by your lonesome and take as long as you want to decide on purchases. I often watch other people with children with a satisfied smile on my face thinking "yes, your toddler is cute, but wow I'm really glad they're with you and I'm ALL ALONE". So although I do miss Lily and can't wait to get home tomorrow, give her a huge hug, stroke her hair and hear her say "Hi Becky, glad you're back" there ARE some perks to being on my own for a little bit too.