March 29, 2009

Papa Joe

This past week was the first that really felt like spring. We had our first official thaw, although a few patches of snow still remain in the shade. The air smells like moist soil and there are a few perky green shoots coming through the wet leaves in our garden. It's a time of great optimism and growth.

Alden and Joseph had a great time together this week. We had Alden signing "grandfather" before Joseph returned to Eugene, (although to be fair, the sign for "grandfather" and the sign for "uncle Ben" look pretty much the same - a flailing open hand). Alden distinguishes his signs now by adding a verbal "pa" when he's asking for Joseph. He's been asking about him all weekend, especially at mealtimes, so he's clearly missing his Papa Joe. Other oft used words are "DIS!" and "DAT!", accompanied by emphatic pointing and/or a headlong dive in the direction of the object of interest. He's discovered bread (ba), which he loves to put in his mouth (ath). He's also signing "more" and "out".
Joseph taught Alden the barnyard animal sounds. When I came home from work on Tuesday, Joseph proudly announced that Alden could now speak cow, sheep, goat and a kind of rooster - his cockadoodle doo is "lahdle, lahdle, lahdle". Alden also recognizes ducks (which he is particularly fond of) as anything yellow and fluffy. They also apparently say "gaga". Alden learned the animal sounds while reading a barnyard peekaboo book with Joseph 6,438 times. I think grandparents have so much more patience when it comes to this sort of thing. I start fantasizing about gauging out my eyes after a mere 300 times through the same book, but it seems that any grandparent will happily oblige, no matter how many times the kid squeals "Dis! Dis!" and flips back to the beginning.
The animal noises now apply to finger puppets. Sheep, bee and duck sounds are his favorites. We're working on some others, such as the horse and the dog. However, we're at a loss for what to do with the remaining animals, like the crab and the dinosaurs, for example. Alden holds them up and looks at us quizzically, as if asking us "what sound does this thing make?" The only response I've been able to come up with is to mutter something under my breath and try to direct his attention to another puppet. Kerstin's response is to make action noises, like "pinch pinch" or "stomp, stomp".

We've amassed a small army of finger puppets, only a few of which have been given proper names: Math Lamb, Rhythm Crab and Tetrapus. We've noticed that there are other cephalopod finger puppets out there with missing tentacles. I'm not sure if it's too difficult for manufacturers to make them anatomically correct, or if it's just cuter this way. In either case, it's nice to know that Tetrapus has a cousin on the west coast who's a little more evolutionarily advanced.

March 22, 2009

Maine Maple Sunday Part II

Joseph got into Maine late on Saturday night. It's great to see him and offer him a friendly place to hang out after dealing with his father's funeral. Alden is a whole different creature since Joseph last saw him and it's really fun to watch the two of them get to know each other all over again. The first activity we did together was Maine Maple Sunday which is a statewide maple syrup festival on the fourth Sunday in March. This is the second time we've taken Alden to this event with Joseph and the first year that Ben and Karen joined us. One more outing and it's officially a tradition - one I think Joseph is excited to start! We went to Goranson's farm first, since we enjoyed it so much last year, but this time they were no longer offering a pancake breakfast. What's the fun of Maine Maple Sunday without pancakes?! We ended up leaving the farm shortly thereafter in search of another one that might provide some breakfast and found it at Uncas Farms. After watching at a Belgian horse nervously paw the ground outside the barn for a few minutes, we moseyed into the store and found a room in the back where the air was thick with hot griddle smoke. A steaming stack of flapjacks was already sitting on the table when we sat down and they kept bringing more over as soon as we'd finish a stack. Best of all, this amazing breakfast was FREE!! All you can eat pancakes with real maple syrup. We felt so fortunate to have stumbled upon it and will certainly be back to Uncas in the future.
This was Alden's first pancake with maple syrup. He was just as excited about the pancakes as we were and probably would have eaten way more, but we decided not to push our luck. He's still recovering from a stomach bug and and a more recent ear infection and puking up a free pancake breakfast is about as uncool as it gets. Alden now wants a maple syrup chaser after everything he eats. We had to pour syrup over his egg and spinach scramble for dinner this evening before he'd even consider it.
Alden "Harambes" the Mini Moo. I wouldn't let him drink it, though and was decried as the evil, overbearing mother at the table.
We bought a bunch of maple syrup after breakfast (mostly, I think, to assuage our own guilt over eating so many pancakes) and then checked out the horse and the calves outside the sugaring facility. Alden was too small to take part in the horse rides, but was content just to watch them happen to other kids this time. Oh, in case you were wondering, yes, the electric fence around the cows was on. Ben personally checked. Twice.

It was a great day, a great way to kick off Joseph's visit, and clearly worthy of a Gilg tradition. Let's see if we can make it happen again next year!

March 21, 2009

Walking in sunshine

This is the first day Alden got to walk outside. As you can see there is still some snow about, but the days are getting into the 60s and the ground is dry enough for outdoor activities. I was out earlier sawing snow-damaged limbs off of trees and trimming back the raspberry patch. I think everyone is excited for Spring to finally be here.  

March 18, 2009

F.J. Funeral

My grandfather Francis Joseph Gilg passed away on March 12th, he was 95 years old. I went to Nebraska for the funeral.
I met Joseph in Minneapolis and we flew together for the last leg of our flights. Joseph rented a car in Omaha and we drove straight into Atkinson that night, stopping only for groceries at Baker’s, next to the No Frills Supermarket. I guess they may be common in the region, but I hadn't seen one before and was impressed with the frankness of the franchise. I expect a competitor calling themselves "Supermarket with Frills" someday.

The following day was spent mostly at the funeral home for the viewing of the body. The next day was the service and the burial. I had never attended a Catholic funeral before and figured it was one last thing grandpa Fritz was teaching me about. It was really nice to see so much of the family, despite the somber occasion. Quite a few people asked about my brain-scramble incident in December, I suppose it was the last news they had of me. On the whole it was an emotionally exhausting couple of days, but the support and grace of the uncles, the cousins, the rest of the family and all the well-wishers was tremendously heartening.
Like most Gilg gatherings evenings were spent doing one or more of the following:
playing cards
drinking beer
bullshitting and catching up.

March 14, 2009

Alden talks to the mouse

Alden learns the hard way why we all use cordless phones.

We got a new computer last month, but kept the old G5 hanging around just in case some files didn't transfer properly. It's slated to go into the attic soon, but in the meantime, it serves as an interesting plaything for Alden. He really likes to bang on the old keyboard and he's recently discovered the mouse too.

March 11, 2009


Happy Purim, Everyone! My wonderful Aunt Kay sent us some delicious homemade hamentashen, and Alden went nuts over them. Not a single crumb went to waste or even ended up on the floor and afterward he begged for more. Thanks Kay! What a fantastic treat!!

March 6, 2009

Odds and Ends

The latest on Alden:
He has a small (but growing) vocabulary.
Nana = Banana (now a more general term for food)
Thzees = Cheese
Bah = Ball
Bak = Book
Da da, Da dee, Dee Da = Dad (Kerstin)
Ma ma (or hand sign for milk) = Mom (Ilana)

He is very verbal and says a bunch more, but we haven not yet figured out the code. He is also pointing at things that interest him: on the counter, on bookshelves, on the wall. Over half the time we don't have any idea what he's pointing at and no matter what we pull down, we can't discover what it is. He can walk holding only one helper hand, he still cannot walk on his own or crawl on all fours. He loves cheese, O-shaped cereal, being buried in plastic blocks, playing the piano and his musical toys. He is crazy for books, enjoys baths, sways back and forth (which is his way of dancing) to almost any music, likes looking out windows, slapping his hands on tabletops and clapping. His latest triumph is climbing the stairs on his own and sleeping through the night.

Alden usually takes naps at 8:45 AM, 12:30 PM, 5:15 PM, falls to sleep around 8:00 and wakes at 6:00am. His cradle cap started to come back due to the dry winter air and his ears are prone to infection. This past week Alden has decided to eat less than usual, but he is not not a picky eater and will down sardines, refried beans from the can, sweet potato, broccoli, yogurt, parsnips, eggs-n-salsa, hummus ... pretty much anything.

He drinks from a cup really well if you hold it for him, and has recently began a spoon boycott, refusing to eat anything he cannot first touch with his hands and put in his own mouth or smear in his hair/pants /under the counter. Anything served in a bowl or on a plate gets dumped on the floor, as he prefers to eat directly from the tabletop. Alden cannot abide things that are stacked and will go out of his way to knock said stacks over. He also does not like wearing socks very much.

Alden is starting to stand on his own. Although he can't do it for very long, he is awfully proud of himself. So are we.

A recent play date with Evelyn. They're really starting to like hanging out with each other.

March 1, 2009

Alden on the phone

Alden has been doing a number of imitative things lately. He will blow on his food before he eats it (whether it is hot or not), he mimics faces that are made at him, if you shake a box of juice or a bottle of something he will want to shake it too before it gets open, and today, after I got off the phone with Ilana I handed Alden my phone and he did this.

Alden scooted around the house for about 10 minutes with the phone. I can't figure out why if he can imitate this, why can't he eat with a spoon yet?