Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Charles River

All is quiet in the Clark house. Lilly is asleep and Jim is out having beers and wings with some of the guys from work. I don't even have music on at the moment. I'm enjoying the silence. The doors are open so there are crickets chirping but that's about it. If I wasn't writing this blog, I'd probably be lying on the couch asleep by now!

This weekend, we were in Boston. It was one of those perfect Boston weekends that made us remember everything we loved about going to BC. The weather was gorgeous so we got to sit outside and have lunch in Boston Commons and go for a walk along the Charles. For us, Boston and the Charles River are one and the same. It's the place where we spent most mornings, watching the sun rise while rowing our way from one end to the other. It's where we spent many weekends, racing other people crazy enough to be a part of their school's crew team. When we were training for the Ironman a couple of years ago, our longest run was around the Charles, from end to end. It is part of who we are. A walk along the river is never complete without crew flashbacks, of which Jim and I had many. As we were walking by the basin, we inevitably started talking about
all the 2000m races that started there. Of course, on Sunday morning as we were walking along the river, it was perfectly calm--not a ripple in sight. Whenever we raced along the Charles in college, we may as well have been starting our races in the ocean. Every race, without fail, started by taking in buckets of water and throwing off the set of the boat. Luckily we got used to it and learned to expect it as that was our "home river." We enjoyed taking Lilly along the river and know that one day, we'll be able to share these memories with her. Boston will always be a special place for Jim and me. It will forever be the place where we met; where we rowed together; where we studied (every once in awhile...), where we ate Presto's Pizza and Anna's, where we started dating, where we fell in love, and it was in Boston that we knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together. A gorgeous, sunny weekend like this past one, brings up every happy memory we have from our four years spent there. It was also a weekend of creating new memories; memories that now include our daughter.

We spent Saturday with Carolyn and Jeremy and enjoyed walking out to get pizza and sitting in the Commons. We talked about their wedding, and I'm sure that Jim and I gave vital wedding planning advice that Carolyn and Jeremy found essential. On Saturday night, Joe Stanley came to Carolyn's to catch up and have a few beers. Joe is one of our close friends. We can sit and chat for ever with him, as we did many nights in Italy. In Italy, we'd chat over bottles of wine, cheese, salami and bread. In Boston, it was over beer. It's always great to see him and we enjoyed catching up. On Sunday, after our walk along the river, we met up with Kelly and Corey, Kelly's fiancee. Again, we walked out for food, this time Anna's, and sat in the Commons to enjoy the day. Lilly ran around, chasing squirrels all over the park and stood under trees, pointing up at the leaves when the squirrels disappeared up them. Kelly, Corey, Jim and I got to enjoy sitting and chatting--something that we definitely don't do enough of. Kelly is like Joe; I can sit and talk to her for hours, or days, about nothing. She was one of my very first good friends at BC and still is one of my favorite people in the world. Naturally, Lilly adores Kelly, giving her hugs and kisses and showing her all of her tricks. She also cleaned out Kelly's wallet and went through her purse, pulling things out one at a time. That's how you know Lilly likes you. We walked out by the "Make Way for Ducklings" Statue, and pushed our way through the crowd so that Lilly could sit on a duck. I didn't think that Lilly would want to sit there for a picture, with all the people around and because we wanted her to. I couldn't have been more wrong! She loved sitting on the duck and had no intentions of getting off. She waved to the other children and to all the people around taking pictures. She knows how to entertain a crowd--just like her dad!

This picture of Lilly on the drive home sums it all up. As relaxing as the weekend was, we were all pretty tired. None of us as tired as Lilly though.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Check-Up and Some Photos

My photography class has officially come to end, and while the class was fantastic, it will be nice to have my Wednesdays back. I learned some really great practical ways to use my camera differently and can't wait until another Ironman to try out some some different sports pictures. I'm already noticing a difference in the pictures that I've been taking and have started getting some that I love. One of my favorite takeaways from the class--taking the yellow out of indoor pictures. The second you turn a light on in a house, pictures taken with the automatic picture settings start to come out yellow, whether you use a flash or not. And now, I can finally take pictures of Lilly playing inside or in the bath without the yellow tint. These pictures aren't fantastic but you get the point:

Also this week, Lilly had her 15-month check up and another round of shots. She's 31 inches tall and weighs 21.5 pounds! Dr. Brown said she's happy, healthy and perfect. And definitely a little girl. She was chatting away in his office, speaking her own language, complete with hand gestures and laughs. Dr. Brown told me that 10% of boys are chatty at this age, and only 10% of girls are not chatty. That's a statistic that I believe! Lilly's almost finished with her shots--at 18 months she gets the last round for a couple of years, thank goodness. She was not a happy camper after these shots. She didn't want to walk around and every time she looked at her band aids, she's start crying again. I took off the band aids, put Lilly down for a nap and she didn't wake up too much happier. I thought I knew a way to get her mind off her sore legs--the hot potato dance! So I put on her music and she got really excited. When she started dancing, she did a little squat like she usually does, and burst into tears again. It was a long afternoon and I'm glad it's in the past. After a good night of sleep, she was fine the next day and all that remained of her shots were the little dots on her legs, which are quickly fading.

I have taken a break from tutoring after the end-of-school year craziness, but this week, I started tutoring again and it's working out nicely. I have a student coming to our house for an hour and a half in the mornings, when Lilly is taking her morning nap. It's great and working well, so I'll keep doing that for the rest of the summer.

We're heading up to Boston for the weekend to see some friends. It's supposed to be a gorgeous weekend so we're looking forward to getting away for a couple of days and taking Lilly to Boston Commons to see the ducklings!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Slide

Lilly and I had another park adventure the other day. This park is perfect for her. There's a mini slide that she can climb up and go down by herself and she will honestly spend the entire time that we're there climbing up the stairs and going down the slide. After I was sure that Lilly could do this by herself, I used this opportunity to complete a photography assignment--another motion one. The camera has a really cool focus function that allows you to choose the person you want to focus on, and without moving the camera, it follows the subject for as long as you hold down the shutter release button. Watching Lilly from a distance, I thought she was having the best time. She got off the slide laughing every time! It wasn't until I looked at the pictures that I realized she may have been feeling otherwise. If you click on the pictures to see them full size, you'll get to see her fantastic facial expressions. Again, keep in mind the slide is tiny, although she looks like she's going 100mph down it! Unfortunately, I don't have one of her smiling at the end, so you'll just have to take my word for it :)

This is my favorite close up:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Adventures in Toddler Land

Life with a toddler is always interesting. Especially life with a busy toddler. Is there such a thing as a not busy toddler? If there is, I would like to see it because our little Lilly is the definition of busy. Just ask anyone who has talked to us on skype. Over the course of a conversation, Lilly walks (or runs or dances) back and forth in front of the camera at least a dozen times, usually carrying something different. Sometimes it's a toy (at the moment, it tends to be a potato), or a stuffed animal (usually the hideous pink poodle), or a container from the kitchen, or a remote control or my watch that I could have sworn I'd left on my bedside table. Like I said, life with Lilly is never dull.

Given the amount of activity that goes on during the course of Lilly's day, it is no wonder that she sleeps well. Growing up, Mum always believed it was important for us to learn to play by ourselves. To this day, I love being by myself, with nothing to do. When those times arise, which is not too often these days, I have a list of things that I would like to spend time on. I know that Joseph, Ellie and Edward are like this too. We grew up learning how to play with each other, but also learning how to entertain ourselves. That is a lesson that I feel is so important for Lilly to learn as I know I've carried it with me through my life. For that reason, I love hearing Lilly playing in her crib before she falls asleep or when she wakes up. As much as I want to rush in and get her after a nap, I try to leave her for a little while. And often, when I walk in, she looks up like I'm disturbing her, surrounded by her stuffed animals and books. Letting Lilly learn how to play by herself comes with a few challenges. I want Lilly to have books in her crib and she clearly enjoys having books in her crib.

The picture above is the result of Lilly's reading. This is the ever growing pile of casualties that have been ripped off pages. There are mittens, hands, earmuffs, a blanket, and the poor yak, whose face was pulled off while I was in the other room. Lilly loves lifting the flaps in books. Unfortunately, she also loves seeing how hard she can pull those flaps. So now, there are two books with flaps (or what few flaps remain) that she is allowed in her crib. The rest are allowed under closer supervision.

The other day, I decided to try and repair some of Lilly's reading casualties. This is what I found when I went to get the tape:

I smiled, ruled out Jim as a suspect and moved on to my book repairs. Another common sight in our house is:

Yes, that's right. Once again, it is clear who the culprit is. Lilly loves toilet paper. Who wouldn't? It's a game that doesn't end until the roll is completely unrolled. She hasn't gone that far yet--we've always caught her before she has massacred the entire roll. Everything is an experiment at this age and as long as she's not hurting herself or damaging things, Jim and I don't mind these little experiments. They make great stories and always put smiles on our faces.

I started writing this blog post today because of the way that our day started this morning. Jim usually goes in to get Lilly when she wakes up in the morning, and this morning, he brought her out awfully quickly and asked me, "what's missing from this picture?" The answer: Lilly's diaper. Yes, last night, Lilly decided that she didn't need her diaper on and removed it. The result was a soaking wet crib (along with everything in it) and one happy baby! We made sure that her diaper was securely covered tonight so we'll see what happens. Life with Lilly is certainly never dull. It is, and I'm sure will continue to be, one big adventure.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Playing with Parker

Over the past couple of months, we have become good friends with our neighbors--Jamie, Scott, Parker, Owen (& Oscar, the dog, who might be Lilly's favorite). Such good friends, you might say that they are part of the reason we have decided to stay in our condo for at least the next 6 months! Lilly and Parker love playing together while Jamie and I can sit and talk endlessly. We've walked over there and had dinner a few times after all the little ones are asleep; they are literally 100 yards away from us. So close, in fact, that Lilly often makes a break for it and tries to run over to Parker's so that she can sit in Parker's pink chair, on their porch (see the picture above for proof). Parker is 22 months old and Lilly is 15 months so they're good little companions, although they're still at the age where they tend to play separately but in the same room. There usually isn't a whole lot of interaction between the two of them unless one of them wants a toy that the other is holding! Parker calls Lilly, "Wiwwy," which I never get sick of hearing. It's so convenient to live across the backyard from each other because setting up times to play can be difficult with different nap schedules and all the other activities that being a toddler entails. We'll often get the girls together in the late afternoon for an hour before dinner time. They'll run around in circles or play at the water table or we take them down to the pool; we've gone to a little gym class together; it's an ideal situation! I finally took some pictures of them the other day.

Lilly and Oscar

Little Owen, comfy on Jim's lap. He's almost 6 months old and adorable!

Lilly using Parker's stroller before Parker got home; this might be her favorite toy. When she first discovered it, she would climb into the stroller and Parker would push her around!

Pointing to Parker getting home!

"Parker's Home!"

Parker re-claimed her stroller, with Lilly close behind.

A small collision

While Parker was giving her dad a hug, Lilly seized the situation and took the stroller back. She made a break for it!

The perfect end to a play date...a bath!