March 31, 2013

At The National Zoo

We took a trip to the National Zoo with the kids and family. It was the most engaging zoo trip we've taken to date. Most of the animals were really active when we stopped by their pens and many were being fed when we arrived so we got to witness some remarkable behavior.

Elliott liked the colorful animals, especially the marine invertebrates. However, he slept for a good portion of the trip and missed a lot of the really charismatic animals, like the komodo dragon below. We got to see this chap being fed. The keeper basically opened the door a crack and stuck a fish on a stick through the opening. It may not be obvious from this image, but the komodo dragons are huge - about 5 or 6 feet long, and they're really smart. This one clearly was aware that freedom awaited it behind the door, so rather than go for the fish, it crept around the back side of the door (the zookeeper's blindspot) and made a beeline for the opening rather than for the fish on the stick. The caretaker slammed the door shut just in time, leaving the fish behind, where it was swallowed with one nonchalant gulp. The lizard then paced around the viewing window for a good while afterward, sniffing after us with its enormous yellow forked tongue.

Alden had a great time both looking at the animals and in the rest of the zoo environment What's a trip to the zoo if you don't get to climb the aardvark statue?

Alden gravitated toward the stranger animals. He was fascinated by the naked mole rats and also really liked the hissing cockroaches and giant spiders. At the hissing cockroach display, the zoo solicited poems from the viewing public about the cockroaches. Alden came up with this poem on the spot and we loved it so much that we wrote it down and submitted it for him.
The day was cool, but not cold and the sun was bright and cheerful. 

Here are some other animals we liked. 

A lions-eye view of Alden watching from behind the glass. 

One neat thing at the zoo is the zip line that runs from the monkey house to the animal learning center. We were able to watch some Orangutans make the trip from their main house to the "Think Tank" where they get to play puzzles with researchers. 

March 30, 2013

Elliott and Herb

Here's a really cute little video that my Uncle Sam shot of Elliott meeting my Grandfather.

March 29, 2013

Passover 2013

With our car situation still in flux when it came time to make our holiday travel plans, we decided to fly to Maryland for Passover this year. Alden's new ear tubes seemed to help with his airsickness. We had a handful of barf bags at the ready, but didn't use a one of them on either flight. We were very proud of Alden but I think he was the most excited of all. The only drama on the way down was a freak snowstorm that blanketed much of the mid Atlantic region. Our flight was delayed by an hour, but we were able to make it down just fine when the weather warmed slightly by midday. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground in Baltimore when we arrived in mid afternoon and by the next day, it had rained and all the snow was gone. Still, this is the first time in my memory that the seder was marked with a snow storm. Usually the holiday falls when spring is well underway down there.

Alden received some wonderful gifts from Auntie Kay, several of which were wrapped in pokkadot ribbon. Kerstin, quick on his toes, fashioned a tie out of this ribbon for Alden for the seder, since we were unable to find him a proper tie in the kids clothing stores. Alden was really excited about it.
Geoff joined us for the first night of Pesach.
Alden still hasn't learned how to sit still or listen quietly during the seder itself, but he loves to entertain us with funny faces and still can't help banging the silverware together or reducing the tablecloth to moist shreds.
Elliott slept through most of the first seder, but he was awake for the second and sat in his car seat for a good portion of it. He got to meet my grandfather on Monday night and the two of them really hit it off.
The dinner always runs late and by the time we finish all the courses and find the afikomen, it's usually way past bedtime for the kids. Despite being cranky and tired, Alden got to stay up to open the door for Elijah this year.

It was Elliott's first time meeting Rob and Kay and he really took a liking to them. He especially liked the Mayan calendar on the wall of Kay's kitchen. It quickly became our go-to object to avert meltdowns.

Kay made amazing meals, as she always does, with several courses, and decadent desserts. We ate our fill and then some because there were so many tempting options.
Alden wanted to take his own pictures of the seder as well. We forgot to pack his camera so he borrowed ours. He took this picture above, which is a surprisingly well-composed and focused image of his gefilte fish plate. He loves gefilte fish. But most of the pictures he took were nasal numbers like this one of my mom.

March 18, 2013

Meet Gerte

We have a new family car to replace the Elantra. Meet Gerte, our new Jetta SportWagen. She's a sporty car with a diesel engine that gets amazing gas mileage.  The additional room in the trunk is also a welcome addition with our 2 kids. She needs a good cleaning but other than that, she's in perfect shape and drives like a dream. Alden is really excited about our new car, as are Kerstin and I. Elliott is still ambivalent but we're confident that he will grow to love her too.

March 11, 2013

Hyundai Out.

About ten days ago the Hyundai slid off the road into a phone pole (ice). It was a pretty slow slide, but not slow enough. Yesterday the car was deemed to be totaled.

No one was injured in the accident, and the only damage was to the car. As far as I can tell, the front end got pushed back, but the impact stopped just after the radiator. So everything in front of the engine needs to be replaced. I have no idea if the frame got tweaked or not, but I suspect not.
Thus ends the era of the Hyundai. Ilana and I will be seeking another vehicle in the near future. Fun fun.

March 10, 2013

Bee News - The early spring hive check

The good news is that three of our four colonies survived the winter. The bad news is the colony that did not make it was our favorite. Although we tell the bees we love them all equally, Mercurys hive had the mellowest bees and was a great honey producer. 

Ilana went out in late February to give the bees some fondant (in case their winter honey was low). She started with Mercurys hive (all dead) and then moved to the hive next to it, the Ponyo colony. Ponyo has the feistiest bees and they did NOT like having their lid removed. They went after Ilana to protect the hive, and since they had been inside all winter they also needed to poo. Ilana managed to get the fondant in the box and was not stung, although she was covered in bee poo. The picture is of the poo covered snow after the incident. Ilana gave up on the other hives after that, beyond peeking in to see that the bees were alive. 

We checked all the hives yesterday and gave the rest of the bees fondant. Everything seems good.

March 8, 2013


Elliott has moved into his crib.
About a month ago Elliott decided not to follow the good behavior he had established and no longer wanted to sleep through the night in his bassinet. It took us a couple weeks to realize he was serious about his choice.
We thought that perhaps the bassinet was too small, and that was why he was so fussy. We moved the crib from Alden's room into ours to test the theory. It has had good results, but Elliott still gets up a couple times a night...

The original plan was that Elliott would gracefully transition from the bassinet in our room to the crib in Alden's room (because he was such a good night-sleeper). The way things are now, we cannot let Elliott disturb Alden, so it looks like he will stay in the master bedroom with expanded quarters for a little while longer.

March 7, 2013

Going to the Gym

Last week Alden went to Maddie's birthday party at a gymnasium. It was great because many of his school friends were there, especially Cady, who is the tops in Alden's book.
I was not able to attend, but Ilana said he had a great time and that the gym environment was one that Alden really liked.
We did not think it through, so Alden was a little overdressed (sweater) for some activities, but that did not seem to slow him down.

March 6, 2013

March 2, 2013

Community Meetings with Alden

I have been going to more community meetings with Alden lately. 

I think he might still be a little young, but we've been to three in the past two weeks and he keeps volunteering for more and he seems to dig them. He has been good at them, despite getting board sometimes and running off. That is one great thing about small towns, things are safe and everyone knows everyone else.

Anyway, I'm tickled by his civic involvement at such an early age. He even won a 1 troy oz silver dollar at a raffle. I think I was more excited than he was. Although when I told him it was treasure he got more interested. Unfortunately Alden's idea of 'treasure' is the shiny marbles at the bottom of the fish tank. It took some wrangling to convince him not to throw the coin in with the fish.