Sep 30, 2012

10 months.

At 10 months, Henry is turning into a little mobile man, and getting fast. He has mastered his little belly scooch, and a couple times we've seen him push up on all fours, but I still think he'll walk before crawling. We should really get around to all that baby proofing, right? (Ugh)

He is eating a lot better now - mostly purees, and little Gerber puffs and mum mums. We are planning to start tasting new foods soon, including green veggies and dairy and one of these days when I'm feeling brave - spaghetti.

Hen is still our little serious guy. It takes him a while to warm up to new environments and new people, but once he does, it's all cuddles and laughs. He gives us the biggest smiles and laughs these days. Will bob his head side to side when music is on. 

I suppose the big news of 10 months is that he finally got his first tooth, on the lower middle left. He sprouted another tooth while we were in Costa Rica, but overall he's been doing pretty well with it all. They don't seem to bother him too much, but I'll catch him sometimes running his tongue over it, like, what is that? It's really cute now when I give him a drink of water from my glass and hear the tooth clinking up against my glass. Mini baby tooth. Other milestones - he is clapping and shaking his head "no". Not sure if he understands it means no, but I know he likes to shake that little head back and forth!

He is sleeping through the night, goes down between 7 and 8, and wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30. I still haven't figured out how to get him to sleep later than 5:30 (and sometimes 5, like this morning. ouch.), but I don't think he's willing to wait longer for his breakfast. Henry is nothing if not particular about his milk. (wink)

Some funny little quirks I've noticed this past month - he likes to put his thumb into things and find little holes in our floor and stick his thumb in there. He also likes to pull himself up on things and while he does, he looks at us and laughs, like - can you believe I'm doing this? If you spin quarters on the table while he is eating, he will eat until the bottom of the bowl. It was a big day when we found out about that little distraction! Another funny thing is he is mama's biggest fan lately - he will crawl right under my legs and if I walk somewhere else, he will follow me around and reach up on my legs, like "Pick me up, mom!" It's so funny and sweet.

We love our little guy - chubby knees, eyebrows, and sweet smile, he fills our life right up to the brim.

Sep 24, 2012

Back from Costa Rica

Hi there, we just returned late (LATE) last night from the jungles and backroads of Costa Rica. My third time to Central America (we went to Guatemala on our honeymoon I went to Nicaragua before grad school with my friend). We just loved Costa Rica, and all of its biodiversity, bumpy roads, friendly baby-loving Ticos, and the gallo pinto for breakfast every day. I'm hoping to share a few stories and photos in the next week or two, especially to share some tips about traveling internationally with a baby to Costa Rica (a lot easier than I anticipated). I'll be back once we get some food in our fridge, do some laundry, water the plants, pay the bills, make a Target run, etc. Our house is most definitely not in order right now. And with a quick mid-week business trip for me this week, I'm already looking forward to a free Saturday.

Sep 17, 2012

A funny thing about being pregnant with Henry

I was not expecting to be pregnant when we found out about Henny. The funniest thing is a little post I wrote about visiting our friends in the hospital when they had their baby.
" it also made me really nervous to even think about the process of having a baby. i held on to husbands hand and he told me about his new product idea to distract my mind from the scariness of childbirth (not that we are anticipating this happening to us anytime soon, people)"

I was about a week pregnant that day. Oh, me.

What I do Monday - Friday

For those interested in my career, read on. If not, I'll be posting more photos of Henry soon!

After thoroughly investing in a strong social sciences background, I graduated wanting to get a career in environmental issues or international development. I ended up getting my first job out of college in DC working on environmental issues for the electricity sector. After attending a few engineering conferences and learning about the policy issues behind generating electricity, and understanding how much the environment is impacted by the energy choices we all make, I decided to attend graduate school to get a Masters of Public Administration in environmental science and policy. Upon graduation, I secured a job working for utility regulators - the elected/appointed public officials who set your electricity rates/tell the utilities if they are able to build power plants/manage energy efficiency programs/coordinate regional electricity planning/etc. I work on education and training for these public officials.

I really like the programs I manage - energy efficiency, renewable energy, lowering emissions for coal and natural gas power plants, and nuclear energy. Within these programs, there are incredibly complex issues that are chipped away at year after year, that are unfortunately often stymied by political whims. When I graduated, I had a fresh perspective of the changes that needed to happen in order to clean up our air, our rivers, and improve the lives of poor people who often live in dirty cities and can't afford health care or high electricity bills. Now that I've been working for 3+ years, I see the trenches and stubbornness and realities of the almighty dollar winning at the end of the day. Decisions are not made, they are bought. Even if your State starts a good program, like controlling emissions from coal plants and saving the money to reinvest in energy efficiency to lower electricity rates, that same State can then pull that money out and use it to pay off State government bills. Or another example, renewable energy is becoming more affordable until a huge gas resource is found in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania/New York, and now the price of natural gas is so low for electric power plants, that renewable energy seems less affordable. Yet, there are now new environmental risks created by the process of fracturing shale rock, or "fracking" that aren't accounted for in natural gas costs, so what's cheap on the front-end can later come back with additional costs.

I've also, however, become something of a realist and I get that you cannot operate an electricity system on all renewable energy. I get that it's expensive to rebuild power plants and transmission lines or add technologies to transmission that would digitize it and enable more energy efficiency, thus lower usage and lower costs. I also get that we are a nation of power hungry people - we live out in neighborhoods that require us to drive everywhere - the grocery store, work, school, restaurants, etc. and we rely on our cell phones and computers for everything. Did you know that the Google servers use enough electricity to power all the homes in Richmond, VA? And that is just Google! Imagine the rest of data servers in the world. That's a lot of electricity tossed around.

In my job, I try to educate our members and other electricity stakeholders about energy efficiency programs - like how to enable YOU the customer to lower your usage and electricity bills. Here's a tip - did you know that electricity rates are the highest in the late afternoon and early evening? You can cut down your electricity bill by doing laundry in the mid-morning and at night, or going out for a walk after work instead of running your AC and watching TV. Another program I manage is our nuclear program. I used to be anti-nuclear, but I am actually a believer in nuclear energy for many reasons, mainly that you get a whole lot of electricity, not a lot of waste, and nearly zero pollution. And boy are the tensions high when discussing nuclear energy, but some countries run their entire country on it and are protected from the swells of gas and coal prices, which sounds good to me.

I am passionate about my job, but it has it's highs and lows like everything. Some days I feel like what I do is pointless because money talks, and I am at the other end of the spectrum. It's also become a lot harder to focus on these issues since Henry came along, but at the same time I feel renewed to work harder to create a better world for him and the generation coming after us. I'm writing a post about being a working mom, but it has been hard to write about. It truly is heart breaking to spend time away from Henry, but when I know it's to do something I care about, it makes it easier. Plus, let's not kid ourselves, being a stay at home mom is relentless hard work! I've got it easy over here!

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this geek-post. It is really just the tip of the iceberg for what I do with my job, and what my career interests are. Call me a nerd, but it feels really good to work for a cause that I believe in. And especially call me a nerd because I get really happy when I can geek out on transmission cost allocation and renewable energy grid integration. PS if you google me, you can watch a super boring presentation that I did in grad school, all while having bangs (which I kind of look back on with disdain, it wasn't always a good look for me). Aw yeah.

Sep 12, 2012

Henry goes swimming

We enrolled Henry is swimming lessons this summer. Every Saturday in August, we swam with a dozen or so other babies and parents and it was the cutest thing I'll probably ever experience in my life. Henry was a natural - the best little kicks and splashes in the class, and only cried once when we dipped him under the water (the trick is to blow in their face right before you dunk them - they hold their breath and close their eyes). Now he gets really excited to go swimming and splash in any water at all, and I plan to keep it up because he is a sight to behold in those little baby swimtrunks.

Sep 11, 2012


Sept 11, I was a sophomore in college in Logan, UT. My roommate, Beth, was watching the morning news when I came out of my bedroom that morning. I looked at the TV screen, saw the skyscraper with thick, black smoke coming out of the middle. Neither Beth or I, or anyone on the news at that time, really understood what had happened. Then we saw the plane come and hit the other tower. News kept rolling in as everyone tried to understand what was happening, and then they showed the Pentagon. And I lost it. DC was my home. My Dad works in defense, and thoughts went racing through my head, and of course I tried to call home but only got busy signals for hours and hours.

I went to my music theory class that morning, at 9am sharp. Our professor didn't even mention the attacks. Everyone was participating like nothing had happened. I remember thinking, Haven't they heard? What is wrong with everyone? I left class about 15 minutes in. I couldn't concentrate, worried about my family, especially my Dad. So I called my friend, who was in college in Hawaii. We grew up together and her family was still in DC, too. We both started crying - neither of us could reach our families and everything was so confusing that day.

I'll never forget where I was, the feelings I felt that day and the days following. This day affects all of us in different ways, some much more profoundly than my little story, but it helps us all remember. It unites us. I am grateful for the people that fought for life and our freedom that day, the days before, and the days following.

Cakes for Mark.

I do not shy away from cake baking. After a few incidents years ago left me with dry, tasteless cakes, I set out on a mission to learn the craft. I slowly purchased the requisite cake bakery supplies, stocked up on ingredients, cookbooks, recipes, and watched countless youtube videos to learn technique. Now I bake a cake every couple of months - some good, some so-so, but I save the truly deliciously fattening cakes for marks birthday. It is an exciting time for all of us when his birthday rolls around. I am a huge Smitten Kitchen nerd and I get most of my winning recipes from her these days. She really speaks my language. 

First birthday cake (year 30): Classic yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting. Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Second birthday cake (year 31): Banana split cake: Banana cake with chocolate ganache, sliced bananas, whipped cream, walnuts and maraschino cherries. Recipe from Epicurious.

Third birthday cake (year 32): Apple cake with caramel drizzle. Recipe for cake from Smitten Kitchen. For the caramel drizzle: 1 part butter, 1 part brown sugar, 1/4 part milk, heat in saucepan for 3-5 minutes, let thicken, then drizzle onto cake. The best part about this cake so far is that it is even better the second day, which happens to be today. Win!

And just for good measure, another Smitten Kitchen cakes I made for my sisters birthday:
Dobos Torte (this one was so good!)

Sep 10, 2012

A tooth! A tooth!

This being his first tooth, just a week shy of 10 months, I didn't realize that all this shoving of the hand in the mouth and tongue sticking out was because of a little tooth! But there it was finally, Saturday morning, after a week of fussiness and not sleeping at night. We have been waiting for months for this, and now that it is here, I am quite sad realizing he will not be little gummy Henny anymore. And sad he is growing up. And proud all at the same time. This mothering stuff is an emotional roller coaster, is it not?!

Sep 1, 2012

9 months [a little late]

Henry. You have at least doubled in size since the day you were born, but to think you have now been alive in the world for as long as you grew in my belly, well that just blows my mind.

19 lbs, 7 oz. (50th percentile)

27.5 inches long (25th percentile)

You've come a long way baby.

At nine months, you are just killing it. Wanting to walk every where with mom and dad - we indulge you because you are the happiest when you're cruising around a room. You dance with every little step, babbling, and just happy to be walking around and checking things out.

We went on our first plane ride last month to Portland, Oregon. Besides a few minutes of freaking out because mom starved you to make sure you would eat on the plane (smart thinking, mom), you were perfect! You just played with a magazine (i.e. ripped into shreds) and slept for most of it, and we were thrilled. You felt the sand beneath your toes for the first time at Cannon Beach and you were super crazy into it. We couldn't even get you to look up at us, no matter how hard we tried. One night while we were walking around in the city, I turned around and waved to you in your stroller and you waved back. Well, I lost it, and then that night you waved a few more times at us. Cutest thing watching you learn how your hand opens and closes to send salutations to the ones you love.

We flew home from Portland and got settled back into our house. I put you on your tummy for some good tummy time after all that flying and you started pulling yourself along the floor! Out of nowhere! Now you are pulling yourself along everywhere, using only your arms (must be tiring.). Your grandparents both think you will walk before you crawl...time will tell.

You are really starting to enjoy food a little more. You will gum on any fruit we give you, but you definitely do not care for purees. Sometimes it is a battle, but when we have been successful, you've liked carrots, sweet potatoes and peaches. You do not like avocado like everyone said you would. You will take little bites of watermelon slices, peaches, plums, apples, and bananas. Most mornings, we will sit down at the table while Dada gets ready upstairs to eat breakfast together. You eat rice cereal or help me with my banana. I gave you some greek yogurt and you really really liked it until a few minutes later when you gagged on it and it all came back up. You are super obsessed with drinking water out of mamas cup and her water bottle. And you are pretty good at it. We give you the sippy cup, and you will drink a little from that, too, but let's be honest, you want a big boy glass of water and a whole peach in your hand. I swear you are already 5 years old.

No teeth yet. Every time you are a little sad, we think it might be teeth, but so far it's just been the saddies.

We started you in swimming lessons earlier this month and you love it. You are the star of the class, splashing and kicking, floating on your back, and even going under the water. We are so proud of you! And we love watching you look at the other babies swimming, like "why exactly are we all in this water right now?"

Sweet Henry, you are the best. So sweet, love to cuddle, love to "bonk" your forehead against mine. I'm 80% sure you know what "doggy" means, and I am 75% sure you say "woof woof" after I talk about doggies. You definitely know your name now. You get excited to play with new toys, see new animals, and play with other kids. You laugh easy these days, we can really get you into giggle fits (especially when you are tired), and it is the best sound in the world.