Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Big news

It has been a very long time since my last post! Time flies!

We thoroughly enjoyed the summer. We went blueberry and raspberry picking at a local farm and I made raspberry jam. I froze a lot of the blueberries for use in muffins and smoothies! We are very lucky to have quite a few wild blackberry bushes on the edge of our property. Each year we seem to get a little more off of them. One of Kiefer's favorite activities when we'd get home from work was to see if there were any ripe berries he could eat.

One summer day, Roel called me when Kiefer and I were driving home from work/daycare. He said he had a surprise for Kiefer. The whole way home Kiefer kept saying, "Prize!" I asked him what he thought his surprise was. He thought about it for a while and finally said, "Bulldozer." Nope. Not a bulldozer! He was thrilled when we got home to find a car and wagon Roel's colleague's children had outgrown. He would get in the car, shut the car door and say, "Push!

Our raised bed garden yielded a lot of tomatoes, despite the blight. Kiefer really liked to help pick the tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and beans. He would hop in the wagon and we'd pull him over to the garden. Then he would help load up the veggies into the wagon. Our little "baby bear" pumpkins did OK even though the plants eventually died due to an invasion of squash bugs. We picked 5 pumpkins when they were green and they all ripened very nicely. When we ripped out the plants, we found two little snakes. They resided in the garden the rest of the summer and occasionally surprised me while I was picking veggies! Even though it is winter now, I do think about what I'd like to do with the garden next year!

During the summer, Kiefer's favorite song was, "Twinkle twinkle little star." He would also say, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring," which he definitely learned from daycare. He is very good at putting together puzzles. He would dump them out of the box and say, "Pieces!"

One day, Kiefer was reading a book we had just bought in the car on the way home. Roel commented, "I guess he doesn't get motion sickness." About 5 minutes later Kiefer was throwing up. After he did, he said, "Poop." I said, "No, Kiefer. You barfed." He then said, "Barf." When we got home, we found that he had a poopy diaper, too!" Parenthood is so glamorous!

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit at the end of August. Kiefer enjoyed riding the see-saw with Grandma and eating ice cream with Grandpa. When we were on our way to the Creamee for the ice cream, we passed by a cemetery, Kiefer pointed and said, "Lots of rocks!"

Some more summer/fall Kiefer-isms: When asked to say "please," Kiefer would say it followed by, "All right! All right, Mama!" He apparently learned this from a 3 year old at daycare.

I tease like to tease Kiefer about how tasty his toes look and how I'd like to eat them. He thinks it is funny. One morning, when he was watching a cartoon about rabbits, and he said, "Those bunnies look tasty! Mmmm!"

In September, we headed to the Netherlands for Tante Paula & Oom Frank's wedding. It was also the first time we got to meet cousin Nolan. Kiefer thoroughly enjoyed riding in the seat on the back of the bike. He fell asleep a couple of times when he went out for a ride with Opa!

Kiefer was the ring bearer at the wedding and we were worried that he wouldn't want to hand over the rings when it was time. So we arranged for Oom Frank to give Kiefer a marshmallow in exchange for the rings. We practiced beforehand and it looked like things were going to be OK. When it was time, Kiefer went right up, handed the rings over and didn't even wait for the marshmallows. It was funny!

The wedding took place at an estate in Rotterdam, which Kiefer thought was a castle. At one point, they opened up the turret and let the kids go to the top. Kiefer had to go, too. When he got to the top he waved and yelled to the wedding guests below, "I'm the king in the castle!"

Kiefer was really great on the plane, but about halfway through the flight over the Atlantic, he would say, "All done! Get out of plane!" I knew exactly how he felt!

When we got back from the Netherlands, Kiefer started to watch a show called "The Wonder Pets." He sings the theme song all the time!

In late September we went to the "Big E" fair in Springfield. Kiefer absolutely loved the cotton candy and the rides. He was a little too small for some of the rides even though he really wanted to go on them. We're sure he will have a blast next year when he's that much taller and able to go on most of the kid rides.

Kiefer loved loved loved Halloween! He really likes ghosts and spooky things, so he very much liked to hear ghost stories and see houses decorated for Halloween. We helped him prepare for trick-or-treating by having him knock on one of our doors after dinner time and say, "Trick-or-treat!" with his pumpkin bucket. Roel would give him a little piece of candy. He was so excited when the big day arrived. Dressed as a fireman, he wanted to keep going from house to house to house. It was so cute to hear him say, "Trick-or-treat!" and then "Thank you! Happy Halloween!" The following day Kiefer wanted to go trick-or-treating again.

A few weeks later we had to switch gears from Halloween to Sinterklass. We watched the arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands using our laptop. Kiefer really did watch it and talked a lot about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. He would run to the window and ask where they were. He learned to sing "Sinterklaas kapoentje" and was thrilled to find a little gift in his shoe. Together with some other Dutch folks in Western Massachusetts, we celebrated Sinterklaas with a party.

It is very confusing for Kiefer to differentiate between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus. He will sometimes say, "Where is Santa Claus and Zwarte Piet?" We got "The Polar Express" on DVD for him and he loves it. He calls it, "Train Movie." I think we watched it about 6 times in 1 weekend. Kiefer helped me decorate the Christmas tree this year. He handed me the ornaments and I put them on the tree.

The big news is that Kiefer's going to be a big brother in early July 2010! We're very excited. I don't think he really understands that there is a baby in Mama's belly. I've had pretty bad morning sickness and when he hears me puking, he says, "Mama sick? See doctor?" When I showed him the first ultrasound photo of the baby at 9 weeks, I asked him what was in the photo and he said, "That's a rock!" A few weeks later with the 12 week ultrasound photo, he did say, "That's the baby in Mama's belly!"

Wishing everyone happy holidays and a healthy new year!

April, Roel, Kiefer & baby

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer fun

We had a very wet spring/early summer. It rained almost every day. It has since become warm and sunny, however it isn't hot and humid like it usually is this time of year. All the early precipitation makes me nervous that my tomato harvest will not be good; tomatoes love lots of sunshine and warmth. I don't want my plants developing nasty diseases because of too-wet foliage. So far there only a few plants have some yellow bottom leaves. I'm hoping it is not a disease and just normal aging. We have lots of beautiful green tomatoes... they just need to ripen. We've had a few cherry tomatoes ripen already and even though Kiefer wants to eat them, he immediately spits them out once he gets a taste. I'm not sure if he thinks because they're red, the tomatoes are going to be sweet like strawberries.

The zucchini, yellow summer squash and snow peas apparently thrive in wet conditions. I cannot believe that I have been harvesting zucchini and summer squash for over a month now. I started to ask myself, "What am I going to do with all this squash" earlier than I anticipated. We've also been enjoying carrots and cucumbers. Unfortunately, our watermelon plant didn't make it. I think it developed root rot... no surprise given the wet weather. Kiefer used to visit the little watermelons every day and say, "Baby watermelon! Cute!" He was sad when we noticed they were gone and asked me where the baby watermelons were. The pumpkin doesn't look too healthy now either. We have 4-5 good sized pumpkins on the plant and should the plant die, we'll try to get them to ripen by keeping them dry and in the sun.

Kiefer enjoys spending some time in the garden. A few weeks ago, we harvested peas... lots and lots of peas. Kiefer helped by eating lots of peas. He also helped me prepare the ground after I had taken out the earliest peas that were completely harvested. We dug in some bone meal and organic slow release fertilizer and planted a second batch of beans. It is nice to have a little helper. Our first planting of green beans were ready earlier this week. We've enjoyed them with dinner a couple nights this week and I even blanched and froze some to enjoy later.

At the end of June, we took advantage of a break in the rain to pick strawberries at Upinngil Farm in Gill, MA. Kiefer was very excited to be on the farm and see the cows and tractors. He was pretty good while we were picking the strawberries, too! He did help pick and put some in the basket, but he mostly picked and ate. He's a smart little boy! About halfway through filling our basket, Kiefer decided he had had enough. So Roel pushed him around on his tricycle for a while while I picked and then I pushed Kiefer around on his tricycle while Roel picked. In the end, we ended up with 14 pounds of "aardbaaien," which is Dutch for strawberries. That's what Kiefer calls them. That afternoon I made strawberry freezer jam, strawberry ice cream and prepared lots of whole strawberries for freezing. I felt that I earned a strawberry margarita after all that hard work! That night (and for many subsequent nights), I prepared strawberries with angelfood cake and whipped cream. Delicious. Next weekend, we're going to go blueberry picking!

During the summer, Kiefer's Friday playgroup has been meeting at parks or lakes rather than people's houses. This past week we went to Ruggles Pond at Wendell State Forest. He and his friends enjoyed the water and I even caught a big tadpole and minnow for the kids to check out up close. A couple of weeks ago we went to the nearby Greenfield Energy Park. Kiefer had great fun playing on the big wooden train there. About an hour after we arrived, a group of 10 children from a local preschool arrived for a little playtime. Kiefer immediately went over to the slightly older kids and was very pleased. He always gravitates to older kids. He thinks he is one!

Instead of going to the weekly playgroup a few weeks ago, we went to visit one of my UMass friends and her two sons, Liam (2 years, 4 months) and Emmett (6 months). Kiefer and Liam got along very well. Liam has a little motorized quad, which was given to him as a gift. He's a little scared of it, and Karen, Liam's mom got it out so Kiefer could show Liam how it works and that it is not scary. Well, Kiefer was in heaven. He rode all over the house. I thought I would have to pry him off it, but he did eventually get off to have some lunch. It was a good time and we plan on getting together with them more often. Karen came to our house last weekend to take Kiefer's 2 year photos. She did such a great job with his 1 year photos, I can't wait to see the 2 year photos.

Holly (Kiefer's daycare provider) took a week off around the 4th of July, so I took off and had lots of fun with Kiefer. We went to Lake Wyola with his friends from playgroup and we went to the Eric Carle Museum. He had great fun doing an art project there and exporing the amazing children's book collection in the library. Kiefer carefully perused the shelves and selected two books about fire fighters and fire trucks. I was surprised he did that since there were a lot of books and they were shelved alphabetically by the authors' last name.

We've been visiting a lot of lakes lately. Last weekend, we went to Hartland Lake in Vermont where we met up with Cindy, Steve and Catherine. Kiefer enjoyed playing in the sand with Catherine and after a busy day of swimming and playing, we got some ice cream. It took about 20 minutes to get from the beach to the ice cream parlor, and both Catherine and Kiefer fell asleep. But if there is one thing you can wake those two up for, it is ice cream!

As much as we would like Kiefer to potty train this summer, we don't think he's quite ready. He really doesn't care if his diaper is wet and Kiefer wears cloth diapers, which can get very wet! He sometimes lets us know before he's going to poop, but most of the time, he either tells us after the fact or doesn't tell us at all. In fact, we know he's pooped because of the awful odor, but when we ask him, "Did you poop?" he'll deny that he did by vigorously shaking his head and saying "No!" Last weekend he marched into the bathroom, closed the door and sat on his little potty. When we stuck our heads in to see what he was up to, he was sitting on his potty and said, "Out!" He was in there about 10 minutes and then we heard the toilet flush. Kiefer had indeed pooped, but since he wouldn't let us take his shorts or diaper off, we still had to clean him up. Oh well.

On Friday evening, we went to the Green River Festival here in Greenfield. It is a music and hot air balloon festival. Friends of ours had extra tickets for Friday night and I was excited because a singer/songwriter I really like (Kris Delmhorst) was on the schedule for Friday. It was raining a little when we first got there, but we had our umbrellas and still had fun. We found friends from playgroup there with their son, Nate. Kiefer and Nate had a great time playing and although Kiefer thought the music was too loud at first (he put his hands over his ears), he was dancing and all smiles when Kris Delmhorst was playing. We left well before it ended, but it was past Kiefer's bedtime!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Talking up a storm

Kiefer's vocabulary is exploding! He can say his friends names: Auggie (August), Cedar, Nate, Jackie (Jackson), Yuuki, Maggie. For the past week or so, whenever we get in the car, he says, "Auggie's house!" He's hoping we're going to visit August's house. He lives on a farm with tractors, chickens, and a dog. Very cool for a little boy. When Cedar and her parents went away for a few days, we watched their 3 week old chickens. Kiefer said, "bawk, bawk, bawk" whenever he saw the chickens. When he helped me feed them, he said, "eat!"

Today we went to the doctor for his 2-year well visit. I didn't tell him since he freaked out at the doctor's the past couple of times. I was driving toward UMass and as soon as it was in sight, he immediately said, "doctor." I was amazed! He associates UMass with the doctor! Well, before we went to the doctor, I dropped by my office so my colleagues could see Kiefer. He played shy at first, but eventually warmed up. He made good friends with Kate, who gave him an "I Spy" book to read. He also went up and down the long hallways and decided we needed to go down four flights of stairs, too. When we got downstairs, we saw Craig, the professor who taught Statistics II when I took it in Spring 2007. I was in the last months of my pregnancy back then and Kiefer spent almost every class kicking me, so I would say to Craig, "I think the baby is going to be a statistician." When we saw him today, I told him he should talk statistics to Kiefer. He said, "Central Limit Theory," which made Kiefer laugh. It was pretty funny.

Kiefer was fine when we got to the doctor's office. He was quite happy to sit at the little table and read in the waiting room. The freak out didn't happen until we were called in to nurse's room for Kiefer to be weighed and get some vitals taken. Screaming and crying with no tears. We then went back to the waiting room and he was just fine. He was also OK when we went into Dr. Schmitt's office. That is, until she needed to listen to his chest and back and look at his ears and throat. You would have thought by listening to his screams that she was murdering him. He also needed two shots today. That prompted the best screams. Luckily, it was over quickly. On his way out he cheerfully said to the Dr. and the nurse, "Bye bye!"

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been practicing counting 1 to 10 with Kiefer. At first he would only say 2 and 9. This morning, he actually did all of the numbers! I was so excited! I really can't work on the alphabet with him because he hates the alphabet song. If I start singing it, he shakes his head and says, "No. No. No!" I guess we won't be learning the alphabet through song!

Last weekend, our friends from the Netherlands, stopped by for a couple of days during a 2 week RV vacation through New England. It was fun to see Jeroen, Chantal and their adorable 9 month old daughter, Yasmijn. We mostly hung out at home and took it easy, but we did manage to get to Shelburne Falls for a lovely morning. Chantal got some excellent footage of Kiefer and Yasmijn having a conversation over dinner. Yasmijn likes to say, "Ya ya ya ya." Kiefer would echo it back. He also shared his cars with Yasmijn and she seemed to enjoy playing with them. It was very sweet.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kiefer's 2nd Birthday

It has been a long time since my last post but I've had a good excuse! I was busy writing my comprehensive exam (comps) paper. I finished my coursework in the fall and during the spring I had to write a 60 page paper. Now the comps process for Higher Education at UMass Amherst is different from most other departments. Usually, it involves writing a number of papers on various topics to demonstrate your knowledge in your area of study and you usually have a week to write them. I actually had the whole semester to write one 60 page paper on a topic of my choice (related to my field of study, of course). Most people write the comps paper as if they're writing the first three chapters of their dissertation. This means that people can get some great feedback before their dissertation proposal defense and they can get through their dissertation more quickly. This is the approach I took. For the past few months, I have spent most weekends behind the computer writing. Sadly, this meant I didn't have much time for Roel and Kiefer. Roel was great taking care of Kiefer all by himself while I toiled away.

My paper focuses on the factors (social, financial, academic, demographic) that influence participation in study abroad among students who formally express intent to study abroad. My graduate assistantship at the International Programs Office enables me to easily collect data. The office just implemented an on-line student management software and I got to create the survey students who wish to study abroad must complete. The survey is providing me with my data! Smart, huh?

On May 19, I had to defend my comps paper. I'd been to a few of these before so I felt that I knew what to expect. I have only ever been to defenses attended by one or two students in addition to the 3 committee members. How many people attended my defense? Seven! 7 people along with my 3 committee members. When I learned that quite a few people were planning to attend, I had to change the location because the room I originally selected would have been way too small. It was great to have the support, especially since the IPO laptop I was using for my PowerPoint presentation was temperamental and kept shutting off. I ended up not being able to do my PowerPoint, but luckily, I had plenty of handouts so people could follow the slides on paper. Not perfect, but it worked. After a 15 minute presentation and many, many questions and suggestions, I passed! Whew! What a relief.

I didn’t have much time to rest after the defense because we had to prepare for my 10 year Mount Holyoke College reunion that weekend. On Friday, 4 of my MHC friends and their families arrived to stay at our place. Well, actually not everyone would fit in our house, so some stayed in a condo next door that is currently empty. I made a deal with the owner to clean it before and after in exchange for letting us have it for the weekend. It worked out pretty well and we were only a 40 minute drive to the college. We barbecued on Friday and on Saturday morning we headed to MHC for the laurel parade. Alumnae and the current graduating class wear white and march along the parade route on campus. Our class color was yellow, so we dressed the kids in yellow. Kiefer was so excited when we got to campus, but waiting for the parade to begin, he got rather impatient and had a toddler meltdown. You know… the lay down in the middle of the street and cry type of meltdown. So, for the first half of the parade, I had to carry a very squirmy and angry toddler. Halfway through the parade route, there were bagpipers, which Kiefer found fascinating. He was very excited and for the last half of the parade he was clapping and waving to the people along the parade route as if the parade were just for him. Then, when it was the class of 1999’s turn to stand along the side of the parade route and make way for the class of 2009, Kiefer had a meltdown again. He didn’t want to stop and wait so we headed to Papa and the bag of snacks. He was happy to eat and calmed down.

After a walk around campus and lunch, Roel and Kiefer headed back home. I stayed at MHC and because I am such a nerd, I attended the English and German Studies departmental open houses, since those were my majors. It was fun to see my professors again. In the middle of the German Studies open house, I got a call from my friend Bonnie who told me that our friend Cindy had rolled her foot and passed out while walking around campus. She had to go the hospital and it turns out that she broke her foot! She’s going to be out of commission for 6 weeks and she has a 16 month old. Not fun! I was sad not only that she broke her foot and couldn’t attend the dinner, but that I no longer had a drinking buddy. Bonnie and Laura are pregnant so Cindy and I were going to drink for them.

Everyone left on Sunday at around noon and Monday afternoon, Oma & Opa (Roel’s parents) arrived from the Netherlands. They were able to celebrate Kiefer’s 2nd birthday with us on May 26. On the morning of his birthday, Kiefer woke up to the house decorated with streamers. He loved it and spotted the cake I had baked for him after he had gone to bed. He pointed to it and said, “Cake! Cake!” We think he wanted cake for breakfast, but we made him wait until the afternoon. He was very excited to open his presents. He couldn’t wait for Papa to get home and opened one or two before Roel was able to get home from work. He got a Kettler push trike from Oma and Opa along with some little cars and a truck to load the cars. He got a sandbox from Grandma and Grandpa. It is shaped like a crab and Kiefer calls it, “Crabbie.” He also got a play rug and his very own kid-sized set of garden tools. He does love to help! Even though Kiefer was very excited about the cake, he didn’t eat it. As soon as he got some of the (homemade) frosting on his fingers, that was it. Kiefer doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. In the future, I will not frost his cakes!

Roel’s parents rented a house in Hyannis for a week and we went for 4 days. It was so nice to get away from things and decompress from all the excitement. I definitely needed it because I was so tired. The house had a private beach and a nice big deck. Of course, the water was way too cold for swimming at this time of year, but Kiefer enjoyed using a bulldozer in the sand. When the tide went out, there were nice tidal pools that warmed up quickly and were fun for Kiefer to explore. He wasn’t too keen about the seaweed and would point to it and say, “Blech.”

In March and April, Kiefer’s vocabulary was limited to words like, “car,” “house,” “egg,” “ice” for ice cream, “hi” and “Nijn-ah” for “Nijntje.” Over the past couple of weeks, his vocabulary has exploded. He repeats just about everything. He also loves anything having to do with transportation and says, “bulldoze” (without the r), “tractor,” “choo-choo,” “truck,” “bike” and “taxi.” His favorite books are therefore transportation related and he adores Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.” There is so much to see on every page, including the gold bug hiding on every page. Kiefer calls the gold bug “bee bug” and that’s what he calls the book.

In March, I went to London for 4 days to check out one of the study abroad programs I advise on. I have been advising students about the program for 4 years and it was very helpful to meet some of the staff, see the classroom facilities and housing facilities. It is going to make my job a bit easier! I missed Kiefer a lot, but he did really well with Roel and only said, “Mama” before bedtime and when he woke up in the morning.

At the end of March, on a sunny Saturday Roel and I put started to put together our raised bed garden. We went to the Home Depot and got the lumber, posts and deck screws we needed and assembled three 4’ X 8’ boxes. Kiefer was outdoors with us and helped by handing us screws and once the boxes were assembled, he climbed in and out of them. While Kiefer was napping, we put down landscaping fabric where we were going to place them to keep the weeds down, pounded the posts into the ground and screwed the boxes to the posts. We were just finished with that when Kiefer woke up from his nap and he was able to help us fill them with Martin’s farm loam/compost mix. Kiefer was very patient because the boxes took quite a while to fill. A few days later, I planted some peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach a radishes… veggies that germinate best in cool weather.

We realized that 4 cubic yards of dirt goes a long way and so a couple of weeks later we built two 4’ x 4’ boxes and put a fence up around the boxes so hungry ground hogs and rabbits would stay out. We STILL had lots of dirt and in early May we built one more 4’ x 4’ box. It is a good thing we built more boxes because I got a little carried away buying tomato plants. I dream about garden-ripened tomatoes, so I ended up with 10 tomato plants, when I probably should have only bought 5. After hardening them off for a week, I planted them on May 16th along with two zucchini plants, 2 yellow summer squash, 2 cucumber and 3 bell peppers. It was a little on the early side, so we did have to cover them up once when there was a frost advisory, but they’ve done well and are quite happy in the ground. When we returned from Hyannis, I was shocked to see the zucchini plants had almost tripled in size and were already setting fruit! The tomatoes and cucumbers are flowering, too. We’ve been eating salad almost daily for the past couple of weeks because we have tons of lettuce.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March comes in like a lion

It is March! In the Netherlands, it means spring time... crocuses and daffodils. In New England, it means it is still winter. We got about 8 inches of snow from March 1-March 2. It was a nice little birthday present for Roel. He got to shovel snow in the morning so he could get down the driveway and head to work. Kiefer and I stayed home because UMass was closed. This gave me plenty of time to make Roel a birthday cake. He requested a chocolate cake. I baked the cake in the morning and made the frosting and put it together in the afternoon. When Kiefer woke up from his nap, we did a little decorating with streamers. Kiefer was so excited about the bright, colorful streamers that he ran around in delight for about 5 minutes. Kiefer was intrigued by the cake and kept pointing to it. I told him we had to wait until Papa got home. When he did, we sang "Happy Birthday," Kiefer helped blow out the candles and we each had a piece of cake. Now Kiefer isn't that big a fan of cake, but he had a couple of bites before he decided it was time to get down and run around.

At the end of January, Kiefer and I went to visit Liam and his new little brother, Emmett. I went to grad school with their mom and dad. Kiefer and Liam had so much fun playing together. Liam has a little drum set and they had loads of fun playing it. After lunch, they decided they would be helpful and swept the floor with a kid sized broom and mop. It was very funny to see.

A couple of weekends ago when it was snowing (again) we decided to escape the snow by heading to Magic Wings, the butterfly conservatory in Deerfield. It was so nice to be in a warm, green environment. Kiefer thought the butterflies were OK, but he was a little scared when the big ones flew near him. He was much more interested in the Chinese button quail that ran throughout the conservatory. There were also parrots and lizards, which Kiefer enjoyed as well. He definitely explored every inch of that place. After about 2 hours of running around, we had a little ice cream. It was not nice to have brave the snow when we left!

At the end of last week, we decided that at 21 months, Kiefer is old enough to not need a pacifier during the day. We thought he would be upset and ask for a paci... especially in the evening, but apparently out of site out of mind. Now the pacifier stays in the crib for when he is sleeping.

We're hoping that he'll say more now that he doesn't have his pacifiers. He does a lot of babbling, but we don't understand what he is saying most of the time. He will point to the apple in one of his Nijntje books and say, "Apple." He also likes to "read" aloud. He makes a bunch of sounds as if he were reading. Kiefer also likes to get piggy back rides from Papa and he will say, "Go!"

This morning was unexpectedly exciting. I have a cold and don't feel very well, but thought I would head to work anyway. On my way in, the gas light came on in the car, so I realized I would have to get some gas after dropping off Kiefer at daycare. When I pulled into the driveway of Kiefer's daycare, I parked and *thought* I unlocked all of the doors as I automatically do before I get out and leave the keys in the car. When I went to open the back door to get Kiefer out, it was locked. I had locked Kiefer inside the car with my keys! This is something I am always afraid I am going to do, and I finally did it. I ran into Holly's and asked her which she thought would be faster: calling Roel and have him drive from work with his key or calling the police. Her son works as a dispatcher with the police so she called him and he said the police would probably be faster so he called them. About 5 minutes later, a police officer showed up and told me a tow truck was on the way to open the car. Kiefer had started to cry because he couldn't understand why I wouldn't get him out of the car, but he was intrigued when the policeman showed up. It didn't take long for the tow truck to show up and within 10 seconds he had the car open. Kiefer was very excited to see the big truck and he thought it was all great. I decided that maybe I should have just stayed home and after doing a few things at work, I did head home to rest.

During UMass spring break, I will be heading to London for 5 days. I will finally be able to see one of the study abroad programs I have been advising on for the past four years. I will also be checking a potential program for our students. It will be a whirlwind trip and it will be the longest I have ever been away from Kiefer. I know I am going to miss him very much!

Even though I am no longer taking classes, school continues to keep me busy. I submitted a paper for publication last week. It is currently in the review process and I should hear in 8-10 weeks whether or not it has been accepted to the journal. In the meantime, I need to be working on my comprehensive exam paper. I'll have to defend it in May. I feel like I have been in school forever... and I guess I kind of have.

Big news for my sister (Aunt Janice) who finished her M.S. in Zoology in December. She has been interviewing for a number of positions and was offered not one, but two in Arizona. She has decided to take a Habitat Specialist position in Kingman. We're very happy for her! Uncle Geoff will finish up the school year (he teaches in northern Michigan) and will join her. They really wanted to relocate to the southwest and they're doing it. We're looking forward to visiting them next winter. It will be nice and warm in Arizona when the weather is frigid here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A New Year

It has been a cold and snowy winter! Kiefer doesn't really like the snow except for sledding, but it has been too cold for that. So we have spent most of the winter indoors. Kiefer enjoys playing with his blocks and coloring at his little table. He's pretty good putting together both the Mega Blocks and the Duplos, however, his favorite part of playing with either type of blocks is dumping them out of their containers onto the floor. Luckily, thanks to daycare, he is learning how to pick up and he will sometimes help us put them away! Kiefer loves to color and he no longer tries to eat the crayons like he used to a couple of months ago.

Kiefer also enjoys watching a little Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine or his new favorites: The Berenstain Bears and Fireman Sam, which Roel discovered on PBS/Sprout OnDemand. I remember the Berenstain Bears from when I was a kid, but I had never heard of Fireman Sam before. It is a Welsh stop-motion animation series that was apparently popular in the UK during the 1980s, but the company that brought Thomas the Tank Engine to the US recently picked up the rights to it and has brought it to the US. Kiefer likes to get his toy fire truck when he hears the theme song. It's pretty cute. I almost forgot that he also likes "Little Einsteins." It's a Disney show, which introduces kids to music and art. He loves to clap his hands to the music. Kiefer usually watches one of these in the morning so I have a chance to get dressed and get things together for the day. He also watches one after bathtime as I am getting him into his pajamas. I have found that the distraction means I don't have to chase him around and wrestle him into his pjs.

Kiefer has watched Sesame Street only a few times. I am not a big fan of Elmo (I find him too hyper) so it's not something that I usually pick out for him to watch. A couple of weeks ago, I did let him watch it and Kiefer got really excited when they featured the letter d. He kept saying "D!" He's very good at saying the d, mama, papa and up. Recently he has also started saying tractor. Because he can't say much, he will usually just point to what he wants, and if it is another room, he will take us by the hand and lead us into the room. Holly, his daycare provider, has taught him some sign language and I'm afraid I don't know much, but I do know the sign for "more." Kiefer is a healthy eater and if he runs out of his snack or dinner, he's quick to sign for more. He also signs "eat" when he his hungry. Those are very important signs and he wants to make sure that we understand him!

Another skill Kiefer has just acquired is climbing down the stairs by himself. He's been able to climb up the stairs for months, but going down is more tricky. He goes down backwards on his hands and knees. Even though he can do it, sometimes he is too tired (or lazy) and holds his arms up as if to say, "Pick me up!" We also like that Kiefer now points to his bum when he has a dirty diaper. It's pretty funny and very useful! Now we just need to get him to want to sit on his potty.

Yesterday, I drove up to Laconia, New Hampshire for a day of relaxation and pampering with my college friends. We called it our "2nd Annual Spa Day." We started the tradition last year. Rather than getting Christmas presents for each other, we decided to do something nice for ourselves. I got a pedicure and massage and it was heavenly. Afterwards, we enjoyed a late lunch and even did a little shopping at a nearby outlet. We went to Osh Kosh and Carter's, of course! I love to find deals on clothes for Kiefer. Actually last weekend, we found a great winter jacket for him at the Carter's Outlet in Brattleboro, VT. It is a 2T size for next winter and it was only $8!

I cannot believe that the spring semester starts tomorrow. I am not ready for the campus to be full of students. The study abroad office is going to be very busy and I am going to be swamped with work. It is weird that I won't have any classes this semester! I do have to meet occasionally with my cohort (6 other doctoral students who are also doing their comps this semester) and the department chair a few times during the semester. It will help us move along and work through problems we may encounter with our comps papers. I only just finished my incomplete from an independent study I took this past summer, so it's not like I had much of a break. The good news is that my comps paper is going to expand upon the work I did for the independent study.

We're hoping that the groundhog does not see his shadow in a week so this winter won't drag on for many more weeks!

~April, Roel & big boy Kiefer