October 31, 2009

Halloween - updated

Alden received this authentic NASA astronaut jumpsuit when he was born from his Uncle Aaron and Aunt Liz. It was too large for his first Halloween, but worked great this year. Alden received many compliments on it from parents and caregivers at his daycare.
We did a little yard work while in costume. Alden vehemently wanted to help with raking leaves for about 5 minutes, then lost interest and wandered off into the neighbor's yard. I managed to move a few piles in the interim, but the lawn is still strewn with leaf litter.

Like last year, we were completely off the radar for trick or treating kids and had to eat all nasty bite-sized value pack candy ourselves. However, this time we figured that Alden would enjoy the holiday more if we stayed at home with some familiar faces rather than going out and getting freaked out by costumed marauders. So Ian, Gillian and Evelyn came over and we let the kids play with toys while we had dinner. Gillian dressed Evelyn as a ventriloquist's dummy, which makes this picture with her drinking cider all the more hilarious. Girl's got some talent!

October 29, 2009

Alden Chat

A conversation with Alden at the kitchen table. Here's the synopsis:

At day care today he rode in the red buggy with his friends Stephie, Ella, Rose, and Madison. He ate a cheese melt (??) in the afternoon and is currently eating yellow soup. His shirt has a picture of bones on it and got blue cheese (??!!??) on it at some point.

October 27, 2009

Alden sing along

He really likes the whales, but keeps calling them fish despite Ilana's corrections.

Also can be seen at this address:

October 26, 2009


After being told that it's time for bed, our little angel demonstrates his displeasure by emptying the contents of his bureau on the floor.

The terrible twos caught us completely off guard, as the whisperings of friends and the random lady in the pharmacy checkout line had oft foretold. Alden has, until recently, been the kind of kid you can reason with. He's pretty sharp and able to cool his jets most of the time as long as you explain to him, with impeccable logic, why eating a box of cereal bars will wreak havoc on his bowels or why if Mommy hears that song one more time her ears will start to bleed. But lately this civil discourse has failed to placate the rank and file, who've discovered that they have more power at the bargaining table than previously realized and are making the most of this leverage. This is especially true in public, when the management is more sensitive to loud demonstrations and will make greater concessions than at home. A quick trip to the Post Office a few weeks ago quickly descended into massive wailing and flailing when Alden was cruelly forced to wait in line instead of climbing the "authorized personnel only" staircase. To my great shame, his tantrum led to an exodus of several Post Office patrons and one of the postal clerks, who muttered something about paperwork that needed immediate attention and abandoned his cash register, causing an even slower queue and a whole lot of angry eye rolling. The only way I managed to get through that situation was by letting him have his way with a box of cookies. Now that he's discovered the power of the tantrum, he's doing it more and more. He demands sweets at nearly all meals and is refusing healthy food that he used to eat with great gusto, like sweet potatoes and squash.He also really likes the elevator at Reny's ("push button!") which makes the actual shopping experience at Reny's extremely unpleasant. We rode the elevator about 20 times yesterday before I called it quits and tried to purchase a few items.
You get the idea....

I sincerely hope this is just a phase, as I can't seem to reason with him anymore, nor can I distract him with something else to divert the tantrum. The only way I can keep the peace is with food, which really doesn't bode well.
Ben had commented that he wanted to see his thermal image, which reminded me that we never posted this one of Alden. I didn't realize his hands are so cold all the time. We desperately need this energy retrofit!

October 25, 2009

Building facade repair

Sunday was a lovely fall day and I spent it with Darrell painting the facade of Berry and Berry Floral in Gardiner. It was a good way to get out and be productive and enjoy the sunshine. At the start the facade looked like this.

We scraped, patched and caulked from about 8:30- 1:30, including spraying expando-foam at the bottom. There was a bunch of sand and dirt packed in and I hope the foam will keep it cleaner and dryer over time. Ilana and Alden drove to the store for us and picked up replacement 1/4 round for the stuff that was punky and some wood for the top of the facade so rain would have a harder time getting behind the boards. As it was there was nothing there.
We used paint that matches the Berry and Berry store in Hallowell, to help with business continuity. We were going to add a second color (green) to the panels, but the green I got was not dark enough and just looked icky next to the red/brown. We painted over the test spot we started.
All in all the job took about 9 hours. We took a break for lunch at The Depot, just around the corner, but it was quick. I am impressed we got it done in a day.

October 16, 2009

Energy Audit

As shown on TV, our house has a very poor thermal barrier. it is 116% more ventilated than a house at proper energy standards (with the R48 insulation in the attic and whatnot). The primary problem is that all the insulation that was put in (in the 50s or 60s) has settled. So the top three feet of the house has nothing keeping the cold out and the warm in. The attic is also under insulated so that needs some addressing.

Some simple fixes like sealing around the baseboards are already underway. But this should be remedied more when better wall insulation is installed. We are researching our options.

I don't know what is going on with the stairs, but the carpeting complicates matters. It needs to be fixed, the stairs are very drafty.

Here you can see where the mice made their tunnels in the existing insulation. In theory, blowing in better wall insulation will fill these voids. Until then I will feel like we live in a giant ant farm.

Our basement has an R value of 1. It was the biggest problem in the report. It runs counter to everything I believe about heat loss to think that a basement would be that much a problem. Heat rises, cold falls and as long as it stays in the basement, big deal... I guess that was the same thinking of the previous owners as well. It looks like I'll be doing some basement work this winter.

October 13, 2009

Alden - almost 21

On a stroll around the block the other day (off work because it was Columbus Day) Alden and I found a box of old-school Legos on the side of the street with a bunch of other free stuff. There were also two buckets (to put the Legos in) and a glass jar for some nails I have that need sorting (not in picture). I felt really good the rest of that day and I think finding the Legos was the reason. Alden is teething again and had a bad fever last night, so we were taking it easy. We didn't build with the Lego's, we just transferred them from one bucket to the other and identified their colors.
After the Lego-find Alden and I hung out in the backyard under the apple tree. I also took him to the backyard so that I could turn over the compost pile. While I was working it over, Alden wandered into the tall grass behind the compost and got stuck in the reeds. He made it less than foot into the wilderness before getting slightly tangled and very alarmed. He called out "tuck, tuck!" (translation: stuck), which is what he says when he's unable to perform a desired action. It usually escalates into full blown panic and meltdown, so I had to stop my composting, rescue him from the grass, and calm him with a story.

I told him different versions of the three little pigs story. I couldn't remember how it ended. In the version recall I think the three pigs end up safe in the brick house, the wolf tries to climb down the chimney and is boiled alive. In one of my versions the wolf just goes away. In another version, the pigs take the wolf to court for damages.
The beanbag chair was a gift from Uncle Ben before he left for Oregon. Ilana hates it. Alden and I love it.
Alden has gotten more particular about what he eats and what he wears. Fortunately he is very good at verbal communication. There are still some problem areas - waking up and going to sleep especially. He is NOT fond of changing clothes or diapers anymore, even though until about two weeks ago he was fine with it. Alden still doesn't have a favorite security object like a stuffed bear or blanket. He has things he is fond of but I think his main security objects are Ilana and myself. We started watching a few Sesame Street and School House Rock videos on YouTube, mostly things with music in them. Ilana and I have had the Ladybug Picnic stuck in our heads for three days so far and Alden has a love for the number six and appreciates it when we watch the I Got Six School House Rock toon.

October 11, 2009

Fall projects

I've been pretty busy this fall on a bunch of projects, not the least of which is taking another woodchuck to Peacock Beach. Most of our garden is harvested, but the woodchucks are doing quite a bit of damage to small plants and low leaves, getting ready for the winter I expect. In any case they are falling for the have a heart trap again. This fella was caught last night so he slept in the trap. It looks like he cut up his nose trying to get out. He is with his family at the beach now.

The energy audit was just one of several home fixing' tasks we have on the biol. We have been chipping away at a dozen or so chores moving forward on most of them but completing few. I finished up the floor in the upper attic and moved a bunch of my junk up there ( I think I'll have to move it all back down when the energy audit says we need more insulation up there, yeesh). We are trying to improve Alden's room, build a third bedroom on the east side of the house, finish the upstairs bathroom, clean the garage, sort the tools and hardware in the basement, tend the garden, landscape upkeep, installing gutters, stacking firewood, and building a second bathroom downstairs. I managed to knock a hole in my foundation a couple weeks ago which prompted me to start constructing the new bathroom in earnest. This will be where the plumbing runs through. It took about two weeks to drill the thing (granite) so I'm kind of proud of it.

I started running the electric to the bathroom but decided to stop and wait for the energy audit report. Chances are high that the report will recommend we tear out the wood paneling and re-insulate whatever is behind there... Removing the paneling will make running electric easier too, so I need to take a step or two back before I can move forward.
Part of the renovations included organizing my tools on pegboard. This has been a tremendous help with the projects. This was from the bracing job I started in May.
Another project was properly venting the dryer. I had planned to vent it through the hole in the granite I drilled, but my pal Darrell recommended I take the vent up and out through the side of the house to have a shorter run of vent. so the pipe goes up to be under the kitchen sink (in the cabinet) and then out. Ta-da... Now I need to clean up the gnarly lint that has gathered all over the basement from a year of poorly vented dryer.
We are getting a second batch of raspberries. If the hard cold holds off for another couple weeks we may get a pretty good second crop.
That's the short of it. I also fixed up the upstairs bathroom a bit more and have been caulking and expando-foaming like a wild man in preparation for winter.

October 10, 2009

A few more things

Alden and Karen have a ritual of going to the pet store and looking at the animals. Alden especially likes the mice.
I thought this was a nice picture of Alden and Ilana reading.
Alden has decided he can drink with two sippy-cups at once (in the picture he is drinking tomato juice and milk, yum).I like this picture because Alden looks like a brute in it. Alden is usually whatever the opposite of a brute is... considerate (as considerate as a toddler can be anyway).

October 5, 2009

Our house was on TV!

Unfortunately it's on TV with our energy auditor, Curry Caputo, pointing out how crappy our thermal barriers are. Our energy audit was very positive, educational and a really fun experience overall (yep, we're dorks). We even got a thermal scan of Alden to find his heat-loss points (spoiler alert - nose and ears were clearly not up to code). In any case we will get a full report in a week or so and post more details on our heat loss and recommendations then.

October 4, 2009

October Update

I have not been posting as much lately and I feel bad about that, but I have been working on the house like crazy for the past month so I have an excuse. Ill update the house progress in a day or so, but right now I'll do the Alden update....

Alden's favorite songs right now include I'm a little Dinosaur by Jonathan Richman, Frere Jacques, Six (from school house rock), and Going to Marrakesh by the Extra Glens. As of about a week ago he started using two word combinations like 'daddy shoes' and 'momma home'. His balance is getting better day by day and he is getting fussier about the going to bed ritual (Bath, diaper change, tooth brush, getting in pajamas) . He has stopped nursing as of a week ago and has decided he loves tomato juice.
He is getting more willful and desperate to see the basement and the 'mudroom' (where I have been working the past month putting in a new bathroom and other remodels). He LOVES cats and watching retro Sesame Street songs on Youtube with either Ilana or me. Favorite numbers are 2, 4 and 6. Favorite letters are P,R,X, M, W and B. He likes eating refried beans out of the can when I make burritos and is a fan of applesauce. Favorite books include Wocket in my Pocket, Playful Puppies Picnic in the Park, Hop on Pop and still... Hippos go Berserk.

His humor is developing pretty well and he tries out toddler jokes occasionally. He has certain clothes he prefers to wear (usually with dogs on it) he still does not like sand and grass touching his feet or messy things on his hands. If he has enough sleep he is a really sweet charming delightful person (poor sleep = attitude problems) and he wakes up between 6:00 and 6:30 each morning like clockwork so we try to put him down between 7 and 8. That's the short of it.