A Philly Wedding

Back in late June, DH and I traveled east to attend a wedding in Philadelphia, and EH spent his first overnight with his Grandpa and Grandie.  It was a rare full night of being baby-free and although I missed the little guy,  I have to admit it was nice.

We checked into our hotel - the Villanova Conference Center - which was in a simply gorgeous area, and had a little over an hour to spare so we took a quick walk around the grounds, and checked out the fountain that our room overlooked.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the wedding though, so we jumped in the car and drove to an amazingly beautiful college campus where the bride worked.  Can you imagine getting married on a campus that looked like this? 

And obviously the weather was beautiful that day as well, which was helpful since it was an outdoor ceremony.  They were kind enough to set up the seating in the shade, since it was hella hot that day.
Walking down the aisle
DH did a reading


They're married!

 The ceremony was short and very sweet, and after that we all headed a few yards to the east to the patio area where the cocktail hour was being held. 

It was an awesome space to have a cocktail hour - the patio had a gorgeous garden just off to the right of what you can see in this picture, there was an ample amount of shade (that kept moving, which is why everyone is off to the left in this picture), and bathrooms nearby.  We loved it.

We took some obligatory Hartman couple pictures.

EH's daddy and squinty-eyed mommy

EH's Aunt Lala (trying to hide her enormous baby belly, successfully, I might add) and Uncle Bobo - EH named them himself!

EH's Aunt S and Uncle E (he's still working on names for them)    
Then we headed into the reception.  Unfortunately, I more or less forgot to continue to take pictures at this point, but I assure you, it was a good time.  In fact, I think I forgot to take pictures because the cocktail hour was so good that I was already two sheets to the wind (two, mind you, not three) by the time we got into the reception hall.  The reception was actually in the university's dining hall, but the building was so nice, and they had it decorated so well, that you could barely tell it was usually used to serve college students their all-you-can-eat buffet meals.

The last picture that I took was the bride and groom walking in while everyone waved Terrible Towels.  It was pretty cool to see.

The last picture that DH took was this picture of me. 

Good weddings make me happy.  I'm pretty sure that's what I'm thinking here.  Well done, M and N - happy marriage!

Home from Florida

Last week DH and I went to Naples, Florida for a week long adults only vacation.  EH went to stay with his nana and papa, so it was a vacation from him too, although probably not so much for them. 

I have lots of pictures and write ups I plan to post soon about our trip, but we're tired and still in the throes of unpacking so it's not happening tonight.

However, for now I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from our trip.  It was taken when we were snorkeling in the Florida Keys.  And yes - I took this picture myself.

That's right.  A REAL barracuda.  Crazy!!!

Eating Real Food

Although EH still loves his purees, we've been venturing into giving him more real food, and letting him feed himself.  He's getting better at chewing and gumming his food, and doesn't seem to choke as much these days, so we feel more comfortable letting him try new foods.

Among the list of his new favorite foods:
Spaghetti.  Or rather, elbow macaroni with a little bit of spaghetti sauce.

He's thinking, "Hmm... where else can I smear sauce??"

He eats yogurt on a regular basis now, likes scrambled eggs (although he has a hard time picking up eggs without smushing them), spaghetti or any other type of pasta, steamed pieces of potato, cheerios, cooked tomatoes, chili beans, and steamed carrots.  He loves picking up the food and putting in his mouth, although he's still not great at that.  Mid way through our meal, when EH appears to be out of food, we pull out his tray, scoop up all of the food that is on his lap, and he has half of his meal back.

I have these silicone bibs with pockets on them that we used to use back when he wasn't good at swallowing his food, and half of it would drip out of his mouth.  Once he got better at eating we stopped using those, but I need to remember them these days, otherwise all of his clothes are going to be stained red from spaghetti sauce.

I can't believe how old he looks.  Sometimes I'll look at him and I swear I can tell what he's going to look like in 7 years.  I was away from him for 5 days while DH went to visit his family and I went to San Diego for a conference and I swear he seemed bigger and more mature and more verbal and with more hair.  It was crazy!  When I tickled him on the drive home he laughed like a toddler, not like a baby.  It was maybe the cutest thing he's ever done. I felt like I barely recognized him, but my god, was it cute.

He's gearing up to spend another few days with his nana and papa and I have a feeling that by the time we see him next he's going to be walking, reciting Shakespeare and doing long division.

EH at 11 Months

EH is officially 11 months old.  We are less than 1 month away from his first birthday.  It is hard to believe.  In some weird time warp of the universe, last August seems oh-so-far away, and yet at the same time I can't believe that he is already nearly one.

6 teeth now!

I think that parenting is like that.  Time slows down or speeds up based on the challenges we are facing.  When EH was a teeny tiny infant, or not sleeping, or sick, or all of the above, I felt every. single. minute. of our existence. It was excruciating.  I wanted so badly to jump forward in time to a point where he would sleep more than 2 hours in a row, to a time when he was healthy and happy and progressing.

And now we're there and I'm one of those parents saying the ever cliched line of "where did the time go?"  Seriously. Where did it go?

EH is so mobile and so charismatic that he seems like a teenager at some points, not a toddler.  (Are teenagers charismatic? Maybe that's a bad analogy.)  He's not a baby anymore.  He's a toddler.  Even thought he's not walking independently yet, he can get everywhere he wants to go by holding on to things within the room that he's in, including walls or legs.  If he's in a hurry he'll pass on the walking and just go straight for speed crawling.  He'll crawl over obstacles, legs, sliding glass door ledges - basically anything he can.  He's already climbed onto my suitcase recently and I know that in the very near future there is a lot more climbing in store for our little mountain goat.

He's such a ham.  He likes to make funny faces and to blow spit bubbles with his mouth when he's eating (a habit we do NOT encourage.)  When he works hard to get something he looks around with an enormous smile on his face, to make sure that someone noticed and that we praise him thoroughly.  He emanates pride when he accomplishes things. 


He's eating an array of new foods, including rice pilaf, pasta, and chili and he seems to love all of it.  I still have him eating purees as his main source of nutrition primarily because he still thoroughly enjoys it and I can tell that he's getting enough to eat, since when he feeds himself table food half of it ends up on the floor, or on his lap, or smashed against his face.  What we know for sure though, is that he is an enthusiastic eater.

He says dada all day long, and mama whenever he starts getting fussy.  He also says nana somewhat frequently and has been know to say baba.  He's said some really random things that we swear were words, such as "bobo!" (the new name for his uncle S), "hi!" and "pop!"  He is certainly very verbal and babbles nearly all day long.  He also loves to yell, particularly when he's excited about something. 

His routine is more solid than ever before with the exception of last week when we were at the cabin and the noise and bright light there prohibited him from getting good naps. We were worried that it was going to be hard to get him back onto his regular schedule, but from day one of being back, it was like we never left, and he was taking his two two-hour naps just like before. 

We are finalizing the details of his first birthday party, an event that is - like most first birthday parties - more for the adults than for the birthday boy, but we're excited for it, and like all things, we're making it bigger than it needs to be.  Hopefully that will be as easy with a baby as it was before without one. 

Happy 11 months, EH!  I can't believe we're only a month away from the big ONE!

So Hot, It Melted

We spent the week of 4th of July with DH's dad and step-mom at their home and nearby cabin on the Susquehanna River.  As was the case for most of Pennsylvania last week, the temperatures were sweltering hot.  We made the trip to and from the cabin multiple times in those first few days we were there, going to the grocery store, stopping by the pool for a swim, or simply driving around in an attempt to get EH to take a nap during his worst week of naps in his entire existence.  We drove that road a lot. 

On Friday, July 6th, we were returning to the cabin when we drove through a crazy amount of what seemed to be new tar and chips on the road.  It made an incredibly loud noise as it all hit the underside of our car (come to think of it, we never really assessed whether or not there was any damage to that) and remarked about how awful that was, but just kept driving through.  Only later did it hit us - the road wasn't recently tarred and chipped. It was melting.

 The view from the passenger seat

The next day, Saturday, when we were heading out once again our suspicions were confirmed.  In the 100 degree heat, the road - which admittedly wasn't in great shape in the first place - was so hot that the asphalt top was melting and sticking to the tires of vehicles as they passed over.  It went on for perhaps a quarter of a mile and was a huge mess. 

The lighting in the picture above is so off because the sun is reflecting off of the wet surface of the road.  It was actually wet.  When I opened my door to get out of my car, I had to jump a foot further than normal to avoid stepping in slippery tar. 

A close up of a section of the road that had melted and was pulled away

When driving up or down the steeper parts of the hill that was most affected by the melting, there were points when our car tires slid on the wet tar. 

This is wet another one of those things that was so incredibly crazy to see, but equally as difficult to photograph.  None of these pictures even begin the capture how bizarre it was to be driving on a road that was literally melting.  As we approached the melted area for the second or third time the one day (so we obviously knew of the issue) cars that were coming from the river area were flashing their lights at us in warning, because it was so bad and I'm pretty sure if you drove over that too fast, bad things would have happened.

All I know is, if this isn't evidence of global warming, I'm not sure what is...

Homemade Baby Food

This week has been crazy busy as we have been making preparation to be away for the next two weekends.  Part of that craziness is that I am trying to make a lot of baby food in advance so that EH has plenty to eat over the next two weeks when I am too busy to make it.

Making your own baby food is very trendy right now.  Lots of people are doing it and the makers of baby products have capitalized on this as a huge area to make money.  People who aren't making their own baby food usually decide not to because they view it as too much of a hassle.  I'm here to look at making your homemade baby food from both perspectives.

Is it hard to make your own baby food?  No.

Does it take time? Yes, definitely.

So, what are the pros and cons of making baby food at home?

- Healthy and very natural - you know exactly what is going in there and how it's being prepared
- You control the textures (most jarred baby food is super pureed, without any texture)
- Can be less expensive*

* I say "can be" because it is definitely less expensive when we buy our produce in bulk from the Strip District (sort of like a farmer's market) but if we're buying it at Giant Eagle (local grocery chain) we would most definitely NOT be saving money.

- Time consuming
- Messy, lots of dishes

So how do I make my baby food?

First, dice up whatever fruit or vegetable you want to cook and add it to your steamer.  Some of my quick and easy go-to foods include:
- Zucchini
- Squash
- Sweet Potatoes and Yams
- Peaches
- Apples
- Pears
- Blueberries
- Mango

 In this case I decided to do an apple and blueberry mixture, which was delicious!

Steam your food for the designated amount of time until it's nice and soft.  For apples, I usually do either 10 or 15 minutes.

Then, drain most of the excess water out, otherwise the puree will be really watery.  After that, all you need to do is blend it and voila! Baby food!

I forgot to photograph the final product of the apples and blueberries, but below is a mixture I made later, which was apples and strawberries.

Half of the food I make I store in these little containers, which are great for taking with us when we're going out.

But for the rest, I freeze it into 2 ounce ice cubes and then just put it in a bowl to thaw whenever we need it.

The ice cubes are definitely easy because you don't have to wash a bunch of little container parts, but the convenience of the containers result in me doing some of both methods.

Some foods, such as honeydew or another melon don't even need to be steamed, so if you're doing something like that just cut it up and blend.

I actually enjoy making baby food, although these days, since he's eating so much, the hardest part is keeping up and making enough!

Fingerlakes Weekend - Some final random pictures

We had beautiful weather our entire weekend that we were in Watkins Glen.  The days were sunny and hot, but not humid, and the evenings were nice and cool.  It made DH proclaim that he wishes to live "where the grapes live."  Apparently grapes like hot but not humid climates. 

The four pictures below are just some general pictures from the downtown Watkins Glen area that we took when we were there for the Cardboard Boat Regatta.

On the second day that we were there, we visited the Glenora Winery and did a wine tasting.  Even though I'm not a huge fan of wine, I actually legitimately enjoyed nearly every wine I sampled, and we then had lunch at their restaurant overlooking the vineyards and the lake (which conveniently you can't see because of the railing bar.)

The grapes were still really tiny - apparently they aren't harvested until fall.

If you're in the Fingerlakes region and you're looking for a winery (they're everywhere so you don't have to look hard), check out Glenora - we definitely enjoyed it!


Fingerlakes Weekend - Cardboard Boat Regatta

Apparently, Watkins Glen's "thing" is the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta.  Quite a few people in the little town told us about it, but we honesty thought it sounded quite silly.  On Saturday afternoon we tried to go the event, but traffic was horrible, parking was impossible to find and we had just finished a wine tasting and lunch involving a bottle of wine, so it was time for a wine nap.  But after the wine nap we decided to venture into town, and since the event was in it's final half hour some people were leaving and so parking was easy to find.

We had no idea what we were missing.

 That boat out there is made of cardboard

Foster the Boat

This Cardboard Boat Regatta thing was amazing. People make enormous floating vessels out of nothing but cardboard, duct tape, and paint.  These boats hold anywhere from 3 to 8 people, from what we can tell.  Some are pretty simple, just boxes covered in tape, but others are elaborate, like the dragon boat that we saw.  Considering that we arrived at the very end of the event, and considering how impressed we were with the what we saw, I can't even imagine what we missed during the first 1.75 hours.

 Puff the Magic Dragon

The General Sea - One of the more impressive boats we saw

The Titanic

 There were food stands and vendors everywhere, and nearby restaurants were selling beer right out in the streets.  People were really into it, and we agree that it seemed like a great time.  It was scorching hot so it worked out well that we were only there for a short time, but we're now believers - the Watkins Glen Cardboard Boat Regatta is worth checking out.

Fingerlakes Weekend - Seneca Lake

Watkins Glen is located at the southern end of Seneca Lake and our hotel was about three miles up on the east side of the lake.  It's a beautiful lake, and in the morning the water is a gorgeous blue color.  There's a ton of wind, and sailboats seems to be really popular.

On our final day there, in the morning, we walked down a terrifying path from our motel to the beachfront.  It was terrifying because we had to basically climb over a bobcat-style digging machine, past poison sumac, and down steep hills that should have had stairs but didn't.  But the water was very pretty.

The bridge we had to cross to get to the lake area

It was a beautiful morning and the water was so blue it was amazing.

We skipped rocks, drank coffee, and sat on a glider right on the shore.

Then we headed back to our hotel to pack up and leave.  The picture below is the view of our motel from the lake.  The motel is the place at the top of the treeline.

And this was the crazy path we had to walk back up to get there. It was horribly maintained.  Hopefully this will be fixed as part of their "renovations." 

In any case, Seneca Lake was beautiful and you'll see a few more pictures of the lake in the next Watkins Glen post, which is all about the Cardboard Boat Regatta!