Saturday, December 12, 2009

Enjoying the View

Change is good, and in that spirit we decided to spice up our holiday travels this year. Instead of flying back to Washington, D.C. to visit my family for Thanksgiving, we picked a location, rented a house, and all met up there for the week. This was all Ryan's idea, and I have to publicly give him credit for devising such a brilliant plan for our holiday! Speaking of Ryan and his brilliance, he has launched a new website for Ryan Notch Photography, which is absolutely stunning. I encourage all of you to swing over and check out his work!

There really is nothing like the scenery in the American West. We did our best to take advantage of the beautiful landscapes around Sedona, and tried to get outside as much as possible. We also took advantage of having grandparents with us to babysit - a luxury we don't have back in California. Ryan and I went on a hike together on the Brins Mesa Trail one afternoon.

He took his 4 x 5 camera and I had the digital, so you're getting not only one, but TWO pictures on this blog actually taken by me! Can you believe it?

Since we were so close, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. I'd never seen it before, and was blown away by how breathtakingly gorgeous it is. Ethan had a great time barreling at a full run towards the railings, until I ruined all his fun by putting him in the stroller. Now that he knows how to walk, he's completely over the whole stroller thing. He's also mostly over the "carry me" thing, unless I happen to need my arms to complete some household task. Then, and only then, will he want to be held. But I digress.

Cashing in another babysitting chip, we dragged Mary out on a hike to the top of Bell Rock. Treacherous at times, the hike was a fun challenge for the three of us (well, for two of us at least - Ryan's a real outdoorsy type, so it was a piece of cake for him).

The view was unbeatable, and once we scaled enough of the walls to get to the top we had some time to sit and take in the calm stillness of our surroundings.

Our next adventure was a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Their website touts the ride as "Arizona's Longest-Running Nature Show" and after chugging along with them I'd have to say I can see why! The engine winds through the canyon at a crawl of 12 mph, which makes it easy to take in the sights and snap some photos. As the route goes through Prescott National Forest, you're surrounded by natural landscapes for the entire ride. The few exceptions to this are two houses that were grandfathered into the zoning laws and the ghost town of Perkinsville. I use "town" loosely, by the way.

Ethan was the train's unofficial ambassador, and took his title quite seriously. In order to fulfill his duties of passenger greeting, he ran up and down the cars, waving and blowing kisses to those he passed.

Considering that the train departed at two, that Ethan's nap time was supposed to begin at two, and that the ride lasted four hours, Ethan did an amazing job of holding it together on the trip! Of course, having an animal sound baby application on my phone helped keep him calm in the final stretch of our journey.

We had so much fun, and are already in talks about our next joint family vacation. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we'll see you in 2011!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I sat for hours trying to come up with a narrative that would do justice to Ryan's images from our Thanksgiving trip to Sedona, Arizona.

I finally came to this conclusion:

Sometimes there are no words.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ahhh, California, How I Love Thee.

I feel so lucky to live a state with such a diverse and beautiful landscape. It's honestly one of the things I love the most about the Bay Area. Drive in any direction for a few hours and you'll find cliff-lined beaches, bone-dry deserts, snow-capped mountains, and sky-scraping redwoods.

We took advantage of being so close to one of the most incredible National Parks and recently set out on a road trip to Yosemite. Ethan was practically perfect on our journey. He didn't nap much, but was happy and calm, fascinated by the sights. We heard quite a few "Ooooooohs" coming from the back seat as we travelled along, both due to the beautiful landscapes and the big trucks that would pass us on the freeway. Turns out Ethan has a thing for vehicles - the bigger and noisier, the better.

Not daring enough to attempt tent camping with the E man, we rented a little cabin at a campground right outside of the park. It had a petting zoo and playground to keep Ethan entertained, though he was just as happy playing in the dirt. When Ethan was sleeping, Ryan and I would play nerdy board games outside by the light of our lantern. We held a rousing spades tournament. We grilled dinner over a fire. We unplugged and unwound. Okay, we didn't really unplug... the campground had WiFi. But close enough.

If you haven't been to Yosemite, I highly recommend it. The landscape is so impressive, and (WiFi access aside) it elicits a sense of peaceful isolation. Being a newly proficient walker, Ethan shunned his stroller and wanted to discover the park on his own. This was only a problem when we were on the edges of cliffs - which counted for about 85% of the vistas we explored. Thankfully Ryan had a no-fail trick up his sleeve to keep Ethan happy while being carried: the Daddy Shoulder Ride. Worked like a charm, every time.
*For a closer view of the beauty of Yosemite, click on the image to display it in a larger size!*

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fox in Socks Crew with Flu

(*Fox in Socks is one of my favorite books, and I humbly post this with apologies to the incredible Dr. Seuss!)


Crew with flu.
Boo, we're blue.

Look, sir. Look, sir. All the crew, sir.
We're all sick with the swine flu, sir.
We're all sick and boo we're blue, sir.

First, we'll run, not walk, to doc's block.
We'll whoosh in without a knock, doc.

Please, doc. I don't like this flu, doc.
My fever's hot and I am blue, doc.
I can't control my hacks and coughs, doc,
It's hard to turn those acks right off, doc.

Just a few short days ago, doc,
We went to play outside all day, doc.
We went to ride the Tilden train, doc.
Had Mima and Poppa to entertain, doc!

Did someone sneeze and make us weak, doc?
Make us wheeze and feel so bleak, doc?

Take the meds and stay in bed, now.
Never let your germies spread, now.
Quarantine yourself instead, now.

Come Halloween we were still ill, sir.
No candy sacks for us to fill, sir.
No tricks or treats for us, but still, sir.
We dressed up and had quite a thrill, sir!

Superman, come save the day, please!
Take away the cough, ache, and sneeze!
Rescue us from H1N1, sir!
We've had enough, and now we're done, sir!

Thankfully, the flu chose not to stay.
In ten days our symptoms went away.
Leaving us with lots of time to play
In Yosemite Park (a post for another day)!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Swine Flu - Cause for Concern or Hogwash?

There are lots of decisions to be made when you're a parent. Some of them are easy, many are inconsequential, and others are very, very difficult. Our latest dilemma: deciding whether or not to give Ethan the swine flu vaccine. Lots of thoughts ran through my mind when listing the pros and cons.

1) Obviously, protecting against swine flu.
2) Flying during Christmas = Germ City.
3) Our pediatrician recommends it, and last time I checked neither Ryan nor I have attended medical school.

1) Brand new vaccine... should I be worried?
2) I have little to no faith in flu vaccines in general.
3) The stress of constantly calling the doctor to see if the vaccine is available yet is less than appealing.

We decided not to bother with it. There's a lot of media hype and public hysteria, and we refused to get sucked into it. Our minds were made up.

And just as quickly as we had made our decision, we started second-guessing it.

We talked to a friend who DID happen to attend medical school, and he said it was a good idea to get the shot. Another friend, feet firmly rooted in the pro-vaccine camp, passed along articles with lots of GREAT information (and attention grabbing titles!), such as Swine flu still spreading; blamed for 76 child deaths and Sebelius: Americans must get swine flu vaccination. I referenced FluTracker, which maps confirmed H1N1 cases and fatalities in the US and around the world. I checked Ethan's horoscope (nothing about swine flu, but apparently he's going to have an incredible financial opportunity arise in the near future). It certainly gave us a lot to think about - what we thought before was a good decision was perhaps, with a little more research and some input from trusted sources, not in Ethan's best interest.

After careful consideration and countless conversations, we've re-made up our minds and are definitely going to try to get our hands on the H1N1 vaccine for Ethan. We're also taking further precautions, just to be on the safe side.

Bring it on, swine flu, we're ready for you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ethan's First Haircut

Unless you're talking about bank accounts or stock portfolios, it's never a good thing when you can compare your baby to Trump. Over the past fourteen months Ethan's mop top has turned into an unintentional tribute to the Donald. If we had waited much longer, our little boy would have looked like a mini Billy Ray Cyrus or an itty bitty Dog the Bounty Hunter. Ryan and I finally decided to say goodbye to his wild locks and took Ethan to get his first haircut. It was time, don't you think? Even Ethan agreed, as evidenced by his saucy post-haircut grin.
The salon was equipped with fun seats, TV screens at each station, snacks, and wall murals. Ethan got to sit in a snazzy red car that just so happened to match my dress.

Ethan seemed very interested in the whole process, and when the shininess of the situation wore off he (thankfully!) was very interested in his snacks. The stylist remarked several times that his first haircut stamina was quite impressive.

It only took about ten minutes for Ethan's mullet-in-the-making to disappear. It's definitely a huge improvement, and I'm so glad we did it! Still, a little piece of me is sort of hoping that I'll get to see those cute little curls again one day...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Charts and Graphs (not PHOTOgraphs)

When Ethan was a newborn, I kept data on everything. Perhaps I went a little overboard, but hey - occupational hazard. I tracked his feedings, recorded his diapers, and tallied his sleep hours. As he's grown up, the era of presenting his pediatrician with such detailed information has passed. All I have left now is counting his teeth and tracking his weight and height stats at his checkups.

After graphing the "normal" stats, I started to think about what else I could visually represent. I was right in the middle of a good train of thought when Ethan let out a blood-curdling scream, followed by a satisfied chuckle. It was then that inspiration for the following graph struck:

I figured Ethan's volume has ranged from 0dB (the weakest sound that can be heard) to 95dB (the level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss). Don't bother yelling at me for making a graph using estimated instead of empirical data... I can't hear you.

Ooh, this is fun! Should we try one more?

Ethan and Max are pals. Most of the time. Some of the time. Well, Ethan likes Max, at least. Unfortunately, Ethan's form of lovin' is shown in swats, tail pulls, and eye pokes. Usually Max is pretty tolerant. Considering the fact that Ethan plays with the dog's toys, crawls into the dog's bed, and has taken away most of the dog's attention, Max has the patience of a saint. Dogs will be dogs, though, and sometimes he can't resist teaching the boy a lesson:

You'll see that Max does get in a few good licks here and there. While much more infrequent, the dog's wallops pack a bigger punch. On Friday, Ethan fought the dog and the dog won. Ryan is calling Ethan "Scarface" while his wounds heal - though he assures me that the scratch on my baby's face will not result in a permanent mark. I guess you can call this our first taste of sibling squabbles.

So what does the analyzation of this data show me?

1) My boy is growing fast.
2) I need to invest in earplugs.
3) Maybe we'll wait a bit longer before thinking about baby #2.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Boy in Black and White

Do you remember this post? Back in May, I was amazed by all of Ethan's changes in the span of a little over a week. After the new things I witnessed yesterday, the list of changes from that old post seems like nothing! Here's what our little goober accomplished in one short day:

- Said "banana" to request his favorite food
- Said "hi" to me when I entered his room after nap time
- Waved "bye bye" every single time he was prompted
- Slid down backwards off of the couch instead of nose-diving

Oh, and today he accomplished one more thing... Ethan started to walk. He can WALK! He took three steps in a row tonight. Hurrah!

Ethan is 13 months old, has 16 teeth, weighs 25 pounds, and is 32 inches tall. He can say Dada, Mama, baby, yeah, hi, thank you, nana (or banana, depending on his mood), gege (for doggie), baa (after we ask what sound a sheep makes) and blah (the sound that his dragon toy makes). He crawls at lightning speed, eats as many finger foods as he can get his hands on, and rejects all things baby. He's a big boy now...

... quite possibly the most gorgeous big boy in the world.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I've developed a lot of obsessions over the past year. There are baby products that I couldn't live without. There are tools of convenience that make mommyhood, well, more convenient. There are Ethan's chubby little toes and sweet chipmunk cheeks that beg to be squished, pinched, kissed, and tickled.

And then there's the iPhone 3GS. More specifically, the video function of the iPhone 3GS. I was hooked from the moment I pressed the record button. It's sleek. It's accessible. It's easy. I'm obsessed.

It's become a bit unhealthy, I must admit, as I'm starting to view my life in video clips. Instead of simply enjoying the moment, I frequently think, "Gee, I should really grab my phone and take a video of (insert heartwarming or funny baby behavior here)."

Not wanting to be unproductive, I've decided to make use of my newfound obsession by posting some of my favorites for your viewing pleasure. To make it a bit more interesting, I've also decided to challenge you to come up with a witty title for the last video clip. Leave your best idea in a comment on this post, and the winner* will be chosen and announced for all to admire. *Note - the "prize" for the "winner" of this "contest" is an ego-boosting dose of pride.

Don't be daunted by the amount of videos below... most are only fifteen to thirty seconds long!

Ethan cozies up with his toys

Learning how to walk

Saying "gege" (E's form of "doggie")

Playing in the park with Dada

Learning how to play fetch

Max doesn't want to share

Grass feels super icky

Contest clip - take your best shot!

Well, what are you waiting for? Name! That! Video!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Birthday So Nice, We Celebrated Twice!

Did you know that 2+2+2 = 1? It's true! When you combine...

~ 2 family visits full of fun

~ 2 yummy birthday cakes

~ and 2 sets of presents to open

You end up with 1 unforgettable experience for a super lucky birthday boy!

Thanks to Pa-Pa, Aunt Mary, Great-Great Aunt Anne, Great-Great Aunt Wanda, Mima, and Poppa (and all other family and friends who were with us in spirit!) for making Ethan's first birthday so memorable!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Birthday Wishes

One year ago, Ethan James Notch was born.
365 days later, my heart has at least tripled in size.
8760 hours have passed since our lives have changed in beautifully complicated ways.
525,600 minutes of incredible memories have been captured both in mind and on film, thanks to my fabulous artist husband.
31,536,000 seconds have been spent thinking about, loving, protecting, relishing, playing with, smelling, feeding, bathing, diapering, snuggling, kissing, teaching, learning from, and being thankful for my beautiful baby boy.

I've been thinking a lot about birthday wishes lately. This is probably due to the hours spent agonizing over the logistics of a party for a one-year-old who could care less about unwrapping presents or blowing out birthday candles. To him, it's just another day, perhaps slightly more overwhelming, but normal nonetheless. To me, it's so much more.

Since Ethan doesn't understand birthday wishes yet, I figured I should make some for him.

I wish you a lifetime of happiness spent with those who love you.

I wish for you the tools to get you where you want to go.

I wish for you to always find joy in the little things.

I wish you a life full of excitement.

And, finally, just in case you get your Mama's sweet tooth, I wish for you to get your Daddy's metabolism!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Year of Memories and Forgotten Glimpses

This time last year, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little boy. I was as big as a house (check out this post for photographic proof of my prodigious pregnant belly). I was uncomfortable, but excited. I was on constant contraction alert, and did the "freeze-count-wait" thing about ten times a day, wondering if I was going into labor. I took naps whenever I wanted whenever I could get comfortable enough, knowing that my sleep patterns were about to drastically change. I obviously knew that I loved my baby, but I had no idea how deep that love would become. I feel like I remember this time last year like it was yesterday.

But recently, I discovered that memories that are oh-so-sweet can be oh-so-fleeting.

Our friends Matt and Laurie recently celebrated the arrival of their second precious baby boy. Holding a floppy, gurgly, cooing, tiny newborn again made me realize how much time has passed since Ethan was born.

There are things I can't remember:
~ how intense my labor was (I read this to remind myself)
~ living in a world of equal parts euphoria and insomnia
~ Ethan's newborn noises, smell, mannerisms, and habits
~ how often Ethan nursed and napped in the first few months
~ putting him down and knowing that he would stay in that spot
~ Ethan weighing under twenty pounds

There are things I hope I never forget:
~ my baby's sweet disposition and joyful laugh
~ watching him figure things out and discover his world
~ the excitement of his "firsts"
~ what his smile looks like with only a few teeth
~ how incredibly grateful I am for this little boy

Luckily, I've got a photographer/filmmaker on permanent retainer, and he's madly documenting each and every phase. Here's Ryan's latest project:

*If video is jumpy, pause it and let it completely load, then restart from the beginning*

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Family Vacation, Texas Style

We're back, loyal readers! Did you miss us? You'll have to excuse us for our absence - I wanted to write, but one's poetic wax instantaneously melts in the hot Texas sun. We just got back from our summer vacation to Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, and have plenty to tell ya'll! Ethan flew through so many developmental milestones that our heads are still spinning. Included on his long list of new tricks is learning how to clap, high-five, wave bye bye, say the word baby, drink from a straw and a "big boy" cup, and starting to cruise (which is taking a few steps while holding on to something for support, for all you non-baby-owning people out there)! We had a lot of fun visiting Mima and Poppa and countless friends-that-are-like-family, including the Wilders, the Fullers, and the Quattrochis!

We also visited the Alamo in San Antonio...

... and the State Capital Building in Austin.

While in Austin, we took Ethan to watch the bats fly from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Though you can't see them in this picture, the sky was peppered with an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats. It was quite a sight to behold.

Being spoiled by the temperate Bay Area climate, we forgot all about what Summer weather really feels like. Ethan beat the heat in a baby pool Mima and Poppa set up for him, and loved splashing around and spraying the spectators with the turtle head fountain.

Here's some post-pool photographic proof that Ethan can clap...

... and may even start juggling one of these days!

Perhaps one of the most special parts of our trip was Ryan's first Father's Day. We kept things low key as Ryan unfortunately developed a case of food poisoning the night before, but made sure to let him know how much he means to us!

Ryan humored me and allowed (for one day only) matching Daddy-Baby outfits. He also handed over his camera and allowed me to snap this rare picture, not only of the coordinating wardrobe, but also of Ryan in front of the lens for once. Ethan adores him and thinks that Ryan is the funniest fellow. Just look at that joy on his face! Happy Father's Day, Ryan - we love you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ethan's Favorite Things

Playing with my Exersaucer for hours,
Banging out tunes on my musical flowers,
Toys linked together with colorful rings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

From out of her purse snacks that Mama produces,
Sippy cups filled up with yummy fruit juices,
Stuffing my face when the dinner bell dings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When I fall down,
When I'm teething,
When I'm feeling sad,

I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad!