The New A-Care

It's been so long since I've talked about EH's day care situation that I'm not even sure if I mentioned we found someone to pick up when A-Care left off.  Although it's yet another short-term situation, and even though I was initially had some concerns, it has proven to be a great decision.

Ironically enough, it's another person whose name starts with an A, so we can still call it A-Care!  But the difference is that instead of us taking EH to her home, she comes to ours.  She's a college student, and I think she just finished her sophomore year.  She's worked at a day care before, although she seems totally inexperienced, and I'm not sure what sort of training she got at the day care. She holds Evan pretty awkwardly - and still does, actually - but these days he doesn't really want to be held anyway, and she's so good about making sure that he doesn't get hurt that he almost never needs to be hugged or consoled.

The nice thing about her apparent lack of experience is that we spent a day training her, and now she does everything exactly the way we want it.  She keeps him on our exact schedule, feeds him only what we want him to eat, and plays with him all day long.  He loves the one-on-one attention, although admittedly he's probably getting spoiled, but we're ok with that.  His naps have never been better - most days he takes 2 naps at promptly 9:30 a.m.and 2:30 p.m.and they usually last for close to 2 hours each.   He thrives when he's on a good schedule, and the fact that he gets to nap in his own bed seems to help immensely.  He is happier than ever when he is awake and we have almost no "fussy times," except for around 7 p.m. when he starts getting tired for bedtime.  We still get him ready for bed at 7:30 and he is out like a lot by 8 p.m.

This experience has reiterated for me that it's ok that we've signed on for another short-term situation, because the pros have so greatly outweighed the cons that it's already been worth it.  We're even paying her a great deal more than we were paying A-Care - since she drives to our house every day and since we've asked her to do some small baby related chores including daily bottle washing, baby laundry, and baby baths - and I still think it's worth it, so that's saying something. (Although I should add that even though we're paying her a much higher hourly wage than we were paying the original A-Care, she watches him for two fewer hours each day since DH isn't working right now and we pay her hourly, not weekly, so on days that she doesn't watch him we don't pay her, whereas before we would pay A-Care the weekly rate even if there was a day she didn't watch him.)

I think it's a win-win for everyone.  We are paying her the same hourly wage that she was making at the day care, but she wasn't getting any sort of regular hours with them, usually only working 2 days a week, so she's working more hours.  She also has three fewer babies to watch, and for us that means EH gets tons of one-on-one time that he wouldn't get if he was at a day care.  I can sleep in slightly later because I don't need to factor in 10 to 15 minutes of driving and drop-off time and we send A-Care home at 3:30 p.m. so she still has a ton of time left in her day if she wants to do other things.

Because she's a college student she's only able to watch him through the third week of August, so we're still on the hunt for a more permanent solution.  We are not intensely interested in finding someone to come to our home to watch EH, and I think if/when we have a second child that will make a ton of sense.  With one child though it's hard to pay a person a living wage and not feel like we're throwing away a ton of money so I'm not sure that we can justify it just yet.  But who knows?  Hopefully we'll find someone great before the end of August, but in the meantime, we're going to enjoy our incredibly happy, scheduled, well-rested baby.

Fingerlakes Weekend - Watkins Glen State Park

Our Fingerlakes weekend vacation was inspired by a picture that DH tore out of magazine years ago.  He stuck it on the refrigerator and there it stayed, until one day we were talking about taking a long weekend sort of vacation, and I said, "Hey, what if we go to Watkins Glen, that place in the picture on the fridge?"

And thus the weekend was born.

Watkins Glen State Park is an enormous gorge full of beautiful waterfalls.  We got there early (and if you ever go, definitely get there as early as possible because by 10 a.m. the place was horrendously overcrowded and it was so annoying having to wait behind people while they stopped in the middle of a walkway and proceeded to take 10 dozen pictures with no regard to all of the people they were holding) while it was still cool, and there were only a few other cars in the parking lot.

This park is gorgeous.  We took hundreds and hundreds of pictures, but sometimes it just seems impossible to capture true natural beauty in a photograph.  I'm sure if you've ever been anywhere beautiful and you tried to capture it in a photo to show others, you know exactly what I mean.  There is no chance that you'll understand how amazing this place was from the pictures I'm going to post here, but it's still pretty enough that I'm going to post some anyway.

The entrance to the park

DH in front of one of the many, many waterfalls

The picture above is a great visual reminder of the power of water cutting through rocks.  The tops of those rocks used to be ground level where the water flower, but over time the river cut the rock away to create the gorge that it is now

 So many waterfalls.... 

The is basically the exact same picture that we had hanging on our fridge for so many years; see DH over there on the left?

There were sooooo many stairs

Natural beauty

I could post a hundred more pictures, but honestly, it's the sort of place that you really should just visit yourself.  And it's inspired us to make a more concerted effort to visit other state and national parks to explore local nature, especially in a couple of years when EH will be old enough to appreciate it with us.

Fingerlakes Weekend - Waterfall Resort

We spent the weekend of June 15th in New York state, in the small Fingerlakes town of Watkins Glen.  It was a quick but great weekend, and we packed in a lot of fun. 

I figured a good way to start off this small series of posts was to talk about where we stayed.  I should first mention that there really weren't any traditional chain hotels in the area, and although we're not chain snobs, I do find some comfort in knowing what I can expect with a chain.  All of the locally owned motels in the Watkins Glen area had varying degrees of awful websites and very "local" flavor so we knew it was going to be an experience in advance, which I am very glad we were prepared for.

We stayed at a place called the Fingerlakes Waterfall Resort, which we chose because it had an enormous, beautiful waterfall right on it's property.   It is very much a "motel" although we originally selected the place (in addition to the waterfall) because they had private cabins that you could rent out in addition to the motel rooms.  We had originally booked a cabin, but the owners called a few weeks prior to our arrival to tell us that the cabins "weren't ready yet."  We're fairly certain that the cabins won't be ready any time in 2012, and we're actually really glad that we didn't end up staying in one because they were in BAD shape.

The cabins and the view from our motel room door

So they had our reassigned to the motel, and from what we could tell there were about 11 rooms total in the motel.  It seemed that maybe 4 or so were actually in shape to be occupied, and of those, only two were occupied - our room and the one right above ours.  The room was fine but mostly unremarkable except for the fact that the crammed a full sized and a king sized bed into the room (which I think was fine, especially if they're trying to cater to families).

Another angle of the view from our room door

We were in one of the only lake view rooms, which I think is essential - the other rooms just look out onto the weird cabins.  Even our lake view room didn't directly open up to the part of the balcony that faced the lake, but there were tables and chairs on the front part of the deck that we had to ourselves, since we were the only people at all staying on the 2nd floor. 

And the third angle from the same position - those stairs on the left are one of two flights that we had to come down to get to our room; parking is up there above that wall of rocks

The owners were friendly enough, although a little awkward, and it definitely seemed like they were in over their heads with their attempt at renovating the place.  It needs a LOT of work to get it into good condition and I'm just not sure that they have the skills or man power or money to fund that amount of work. 

 View of the motel from the path that leads down to the lake - you can see the "stairs" in the center of the picture falling away and ending... it was that kind of path down

But even though the place felt a little run down and trashy, we were overall pleased with the experience for one reason - the waterfall.

The waterfall was exactly as advertised and it did not disappoint.  Since the only other guests in the other occupied room seemed to have no interest in doing anything on the motel property, we literally had this waterfall to ourselves the entire weekend.

DH - who absolutely loves waterfall - was in heaven.  They had a little table with some chairs set up down there, and we were free to walk in the water, up to the fall itself, or to the ledge overlooking the next part of the falls, or even hike it if we felt so inclined (which we did later in the weekend.)

Two different views of the sitting area

You can see the motel there in the background (middle center.)

We loved that there weren't any restrictions - we took a couple of drinks down with us and walked around where ever we want to.  No signs telling us to stay away from the edge, nothing prohibiting glass bothers - nothing.  Except for the chairs that were there, it was easy to pretend that we had hiked there and were just experiencing pure nature.  (I should note that there was a bridge/road that ran just over the waterfall, but somehow I didn't seem to notice it much, and it really didn't bother me or take away from the experience.)

The view of the lake from the waterfall

 Looking down over the lower falls and the houses located down there

In general we did enjoy our stay at the Waterfall Resort, but it was exclusively because of the waterfall.  If that hadn't been there I think we would have hated it.  It was not cheap enough for the condition that it was in to be worth it without the waterfall, especially considering that they didn't offer anything in terms of amenities or breakfast or anything like that. The beds were surprisingly comfortable, and I slept great both nights, so that was a plus.

If you like nature and waterfall and lakes and you don't plan to spend much time in you room then this motel "resort" would be a great place for you.  If you looking for creature comforts though, then stay far, far away. 

Did you miss me?

As is the case every single summer, we already feel too busy. Every single weekend is scheduled with some sort of activity and most require multiple hours of travel.  Add to that a baby that is so crazy mobile we can't leave him alone for a minute, plus my attempt to lose 7 pounds that seemed to come from nowhere just in time for swimming weather and I've been one busy girl.

There is so much to tell and show.  We spent a three day weekend in upstate New York hiking waterfalls and visiting wineries.  We attended two weddings, EH went swimming again and he spent a night with his Grandpa and Grandie.  I am also over two full months into my 2012 garden.  Like I said, sooo much to show and tell.

Oh, and of course, there's this really cute baby to show off. 

So, continue to bear with me while I attempt to catch up with all that is going on with our lives!  I'm assuming you're all doing fun and wonderful things with your summer as well, so you probably don't even miss me!

10 Month Photo Shoot

Last weekend we took EH to get some pictures taken at Picture People.  We had a coupon for an $18 package, but of course we ended up spending over $50.  Although in the grand scheme of photography costs, $50 is still really quite cheap.

There were a lot of cute pictures that they took, but we decided on two of our favorites as well as a family portrait.  We only bought one sheet of the family portrait and then immediately sent it away for framing before we realized that we should have scanned it, so I'm going to have to show that one in it's framed form once we get it back.

This first picture totally captures EH's essence right now - he always has his tongue out these days and it's basically his way of smiling!!!

But every once in a while he'll give us a more classic smile as well.

He was a great little photography subject, and everyone at Picture People - other customers and the employees - were all commenting on what a little ham he was for the camera.  He loved it!

He's Crawling!!!

EH is officially crawling now.  The last few days have been a whirlwind of development.

On Thursday he went from being on his stomach to the sitting position all on his own.  On Friday he walked across a room by himself, holding onto a bouncy chair.  On Saturday he was sitting on the floor playing, and when I turned around he was standing and holding onto his toy!!! It's just been crazy!

And then today he started crawling - something we swore he would never do based on how much he hated being on his stomach!

I couldn't decide which video to post, so here are all three.

First crawl!

A better view of the crawl.

A pretty bad crawl but a cute grand finale.

EH is so much fun right now I just can't stand it. All we want to do in the evenings is play with him.  If DH didn't make me cook dinner for him, I'm pretty sure I'd just eat a granola bar on the floor, or wait to eat dinner until EH was in bed.

In any case, we are just loving this age.  He's always smiling, always happy to see up, and his sleep schedule has never been better.  So far 10 months = favorite age. 

Planking Perfection

EH is still not quite a crawler, but he might give Polly the Pittsburgh Planker (do you remember her from the American Idol auditions?) a run for her money.

First, he warms up with a few push-ups. 

Then he gets into the classic plank position, and in order to maximum the benefits of the plank for his abdominal muscles, he holds position.

 .... and holds it.....

After a few repetitions of the planks, he sometimes decides to stretch his back by doing some arches.

After all of that, he's usually pretty tired.

Yeah, I'm looking at you.

He's such a cutie.

Baby Pool Fun

Although I probably should be embarrassed, I am not afraid to admit that I owned an inflatable baby pool for my own recreational purposes long before the thought of having an actual baby to use it crossed my mind.  I like water and swimming and sun more than most people, so during the summers when I would sit outside in my blazing hot backyard, I wanted to have a little oasis to cool off in when the sweating really started to get to me.  I would fill my little baby pool with cold water straight from the hose. Sometimes I would put my beach chair in the pool and just chill my feet.  Other times I would sit my entire body in the pool and prop my head up against my chair and read a book.  Other times I would let Murph jump in with me and we would splash and play around (although ultimately he would usually take on the task of trying to drink the pool dry, which always resulted in our fun ending with watery vomit.)

I've always loved my baby pool.  But now that I have a real baby to go with it, I love it even more.

On Memorial Day we blew up my inflatable pool, filled it with water and let it warm up for about 3 hours.  It was so hot that weekend that we probably didn't even need to wait that long, although the water was certainly an idea temperature.  Then we slathered our fair-skinned child in sunscreen, put on his swim diaper and swim trunks and took him outside to the biggest bathtub he had yet to encounter.

To say that he was excited was an understatement.  We lathered him up with sunscreen and took some of his bath toys outside to play with. He begrudgingly agreed to wear the "Fishin' Buddy" hat that we put on his head (his usual hat was MIA.)

Murph demonstrating how he attempts to drink the pool dry....

At one point all three of us were sitting in that tiny pool together, with Murph on the edge continuing to drink the water.  No picture of that, obviously, since we were all in there together, but I'm pretty sure it was adorable.

With mommy...

He absolutely loved his first pool session and I am sure that there will be many more this summer.  It's actually too bad that there are so few weekends that we're actually going to be home this summer, otherwise I could us making this an annual tradition. 

Love the expression on his face in this one

Yay for pool time!