April 20, 2009

House Projects

This weekend we were able to get back to projects on the house. Our basement that was supported by a lolly pole on one side and a log on a brick on the other finally had some load bearing walls constructed for it. I re-ran some of the wiring as well so that is a little better too, and am thinking about adding another light so the area isn't quite so dark. And, of course, I want to improve the insulation and make this room semi-useable.

Ben has been asking to fight the ant-infested white pine in our back yard for a couple weeks now. I was worried about the safety of Ben and of our house if such a conflict were to occur. The pine is tall enough that if he were to fall off of it there would be serious explaining to do and if the tree fell over in the wrong direction it could mash our house pretty well. After we received a $1000 bid to remove the tree from a professional arborist, I told Ben to have at it.

We cut it down in thirds. Ben did most of the hard work by climbing up the tree and cutting the top third and the mid third. By sectioning the tree we were more confidant that it wouldn't fall on the house. I took care of the bottom third (trunk) and am now in the process of chopping it up into logs or burning brush. We also cut down a hemlock tree that was growing too close to another hemlock. Felling the trees took about seven hours, and our neighbors enjoyed watching the process. Here are all the pictures we took documenting the process. We had so much fun quickly scrolling through them all stop-motion style that we thought we'd share the experience:
A few choice stills from the above photo montage follow below:

Alden spent most of the weekend outside helping / being prevented from helping with the landscaping and yard work. I think being outside gives him a better reason to learn how to walk. In the winter scooting everywhere inside was an acceptable solution for locomotion, outside, however, scooting doesn't cut it and Alden's walking has greatly improved this past week.
Alden in the backyard

Kerstin and Alden looking at the old apple tree.

Ilana and Alden siting next to the recently disassembled compost bin. We plan to move our compost to a less conspicuous area closer to the garden and plant either more berries or grapes in the former location.

April 15, 2009


Passover in Maryland was pretty mellow this year. Both Ilana and I were a burned out from work and Alden got sick with a fever that came and went during the week, so we didn't feel like venturing out to neighboring DC or Baltimore or any other surrounding areas of interest. Instead we relaxed at Rob and Kay's house and occasionally took a stroll to the end of the block where there was a park with some playground equipment. 
This was Alden's first playground experience. Alden did not take to the swing at all. I am not sure if it was because he was feeling sick or he didn't like the seat, or what. Cousin Jessie put Charlie the dog in the swing next to Alden, which piqued Alden's interest  a little, but it was still pretty much a wash out. 
Alden LOVED the slide however and would squeal with delight on the way down, then climbed back up. There were four plastic slides on the playground and Alden tried them all. The short slide with the curve was his favorite. Plastic slides build up incredible amounts of static and we were constantly shocking each other while playing. 
Passover Seder was delicious as usual. Alden especially liked the vegetarian pea soup, matzo balls from the Matzo-ball soup, the egg from the Seder plate, and spinach and egg kugel.
The yarmulke did not stay on Alden's head for long. He was a delight for most of the meal, and quite the cute distraction. He made all his animal sounds during the responsive readings. He picked apart the matzo ball and mashed it into the table cloth with the heel of his hand. When he started to get fussy, we would give him a paper napkin to shred, which he did with great gusto. When we sang songs, he would stop whatever he was doing to listen and watch everyone. If there ever was a more entertaining seder, I certainly can't remember it.
It was very nice to see everyone, especially Grandpa Herb. He and Alden seemed to get along quite well. 

Aaron shows Alden around the yard in the wheelbarrow.

Jessie was the only family member to be given a new nickname during this trip. "Dwice" was what Alden called her. Cousin Dwice has a nice ring to it, I think.
As is the tradition in Ilana's family, the 'kids' did a stair picture after the seder. Alden was already in bed at this point so he missed out on all the fun. 

April 10, 2009

Washington Zoo

Alden went to the zoo for the first time the other day. The weather was colder than usual for Washington this time of year so we had to bundle up. I suspect zoos have a Memorial Day to Labor Day focus to their schedule, so several exhibits were closed and most of the animals were still indoors.

Ilana, Alden, Kay and Sarah at the lion cage

We started with the great cats (lions and tigers) which were prowling around outside. Alden did not seem to be impressed. We went into the reptile house to get warm and Alden perked up a bit. He seemed to really like the turtles and tortoises; there were also some fun frogs and lizards, but the snakes were duds (not moving).
Alden eating bread and looking at turtles

After the reptiles we went to the Ape House and Alden got super excited. He giggled and pointed at the great apes who were frolicking, and stared for a long time at an orangutan in a tree. After the apes Alden took a nap and missed the giant pandas and birds. He woke up halfway through the small mammal house and was delighted by the Tamarins and the long nosed shrew. I really liked the prehensile tailed porcupines.

Alden ponders the orangutan

April 8, 2009

Passover drive

Passover drive

On Monday Ilana, Alden and I loaded up the car and prepared for the 13 hour drive south to Maryland for Passover. We had to stop in Brunswick at 9:30am for a doctor check-up relating to Alden’s ears. Everything looked good and after revisiting the doctor office to pick up a forgotten phone ten minutes later we were on our way.

Ilana and Alden at the ear doctor

Ilana was dreading the drive, last year we hit a spot of nasty traffic south of New Jersey which added an extra three and a half hours to the trip. Three month old Alden was quite upset by the delay and made his disapproval known. However, this trip went relatively smoothly despite a few heavy rain storms in Massachusetts. The New Hyundai can make it to Maryland on two tanks of gas, which is pretty sweet, although was stopped every three or four hours for a leg stretch/ diaper change. Alden actually seemed to enjoy most of the trip. I’d like to think he thought it was some quality family time getting to see both mommy AND daddy all day long. We arrived in Maryland around 10:30

Alden reading in the car

Alden at the NJ rest stop

April 7, 2009

Spring time yard work

The first Spring weather came last weekend and we spent as much time as we could cleaning the property. Our house is pretty small and we were all getting cabin fever by early February. Even Alden would stand on the sofa and gaze out the front window to our snow covered lawn. The week was warm enough to get rid of all but the highest piles of snow, and even though Saturday was misty-rainy I put Alden in the kiddy backpack, trimmed the fruit trees, raked all the leaves we missed from the previous year and cleared the sand off the lawn edge. I also got to raking and clearing the side flower beds which we haven’t touched since we bought the house.

Sunday was beautiful and sunny. Ilana did some weeding while I continued my raking and pruning. It was nice to get things in better shape. Big rains will be coming in April and its nice to have the land ready for the rain instead of a mucky-leafy-sandy mess.