Friday, September 28, 2007

Emma's Favorite Toy

I got this table from Fisher Price for Emma a couple of months ago, and it has become a great source of entertainment. There are lots of buttons to push, and a round bowl to swirl around, and it sings songs. Hours of fun for everyone--especially when you put some Cheerios into the little bowl. :)

It's not all games, though. We got it right after she started crawling. I'd sort of lean her up against it; she'd stay up for maybe a minute and then fall down. Within a day she would sit up on her knees to play with it, and within a week she was pulling herself up! It has really helped her cruising and standing skills. She even managed to climb up on it a couple of times, but got off it before I snapped a picture.

As you can see from the pictures, it's definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evil Dictator Visits New York City

Ah, the excitement never ends. As many of you probably know our distinguised {cough} alma mater, Columbia University, invited the "president" of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak on Monday. The local news was all over it, covering the speech and the protests that took place before and after it. Most of the students (the ones whose interviews made it on the news, anyway) touted the virtues of free speech. Don't get me wrong; I believe in free speech. Ahmadinejad can say whatever he wants--frankly, listening to him may be the best proof that he's crazy. But do we really need to provide a platform for him to speak? (Perhaps someone should define free speech for those ivy leaguers...)

Dave posted his feelings about in response to a discussion on this blog. You can read about it here. (He's the "attorney from one of New York's most prestigious firms"). Notice that he takes some of my ideas (which I expressed to him the other night) but does not cite me. Hmmm, should I charge him royalties?

Perhaps the most lame thing about Columbia's involvement is the diatribe by President Bollinger in his introduction to Ahmadinejad, calling him "petty" and "cruel". If you felt that way, then why invite him in the first place? Unless you're realizing your mistake in inviting him and that's how you cover yourself?

Fellow Columbia alums and spouses, what do you think? As for the attorney and I, future contributions and support will go to our favorite alma mater, BYU.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Random Pics

I took these on Sunday. They're not great, but I really like Emma's new fall Church outfit. We went all out: a pair of Mary Jane shoes and even a barette in her hair (though that may be hard to see in the picture). I tried to get her to stand up, but she was having none of it.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We've been good, just a little boring, and I didn't want to post for the sake of posting. Here's what we've been up to each week:
1) We go to an institute of religion class each Wednesday in Manhattan. We're studying the book of Revelation, which is quite interesting (I must admit I hadn't read it in a while).
2) We've been having a play group on Thursdays. We've been to the Bergen County Zoo, Liberty State Park, and I'm not sure what's up for this week.
3) We go to Stop & Shop (grocery store).
4) We usually go at least one other place: the mall, Target, Costco, etc.
5) And then we have a random day. (If it rains, we usually stay home. See this post.)
Today for our random day we met my friend Jess in Central Park and played at this great playground that has astroturf and a castle that has a moat with flowing water. Emma had so much fun that she slept through the entire train ride home. We are having fabulous weather.

So that's what we've been up to. Exciting, eh?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Devil in the White City

by Erik Larson. Published by Vintage Books in 2003.

I had seen this book on the NY Times bestseller lists for a while, but after a glowing recommendation from my brother and sister-in-law (and the fact that they gave it to me for my birthday), it was time to read it. It is subtitled "Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America," and it does not disappoint. This nonfiction book reads like a novel (much like David McCullough's 1776 and John Adams). First there is the fair itself; conceived only a couple of years before the actual event, architects and planners raced to complete the buildings that would house the fair and struggled to outdo the Parisians and out-Eiffel Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) from the previous world's fair. (Interesting fact: the Ferris Wheel was invented for the event, but was originally much larger than the kind you see today at carnivals). Next is the "devil" himself, H.H. Holmes, a man whose names and aliases nearly outnumbered the women he killed. His psychological profile is terrifying yet fascinating. His murders were committed at a time when murder was virtually unthinkable; many victims' families simply thought that their loved ones had gone missing. Third is the background of an America that is rapidly modernizing. Many new inventions were coming to light (such as electricity--hee hee), cities were growing with the construction of skyscrapers, and women were going off by themselves to travel, live, and work in the big cities, away from the protection of family. All of these factors combine to make one interesting read.

PS. If you want to borrow it or any of the other books I post about, let me know!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Come Hell or High Water

I learned the meaning of that phrase today, and I've decided they're pretty much equal.

This morning started off with both Emma and I feeling frumpy. I had a headache and I think her teeth were bothering her. After her 20 minute morning nap I came up with the brilliant idea to get out of the house. Maybe she'd sleep in the car and we'd both get a change of scenery. We headed up to the mall since I need to get her some clothes for the fall. No sleeping, but we enjoyed the change for a couple of hours and found some good deals (25% off baby and kids clothes at Old Navy this week). When we left it started to hard that I figured it couldn't rain that hard for more than, say, 10, 15 minutes, so we got in the car anyway since it was about lunch time.

Traffic on the 17 was a bugger, and visibility was terrible, and Emma was crying, so about 10 minutes into the ride home I pulled over and fed Emma my emergency Gerber container. When I got back on the road she fell asleep (hooray!) but the rain was coming down like it was a hurricane and I could see maybe 25 feet in front of me. Yes, I know, I probably should have pulled over, but by the time I realized that we were on a stretch of the road with few businesses and I figured I should just keep going, slowly but steadily, and get home. I'm still a good 20 minutes from home (under normal conditions) when there are a few cars in front of me that stop because of a huge puddle--okay, lake--in the middle of the road. I was already worried but at this point I started to freak out. I'm stuck in the middle of a road, it's still pouring, the water is rising, cars are lining up behind me and I can't turn around (thank you concrete Jersey barriers). I call Dave on my half-charged cell phone (sorry, I don't have pictures because I didn't know how long I'd be stuck there and I didn't want it to die) who looks online and tells me that apparently there's a tiny patch of red (whatever the heaviest color rainfall is) stuck over a couple of towns in northern Jersey. Meanwhile Emma wakes up and starts screaming again. I gave her some Tylenol and took her out of the seat, since we'd been there for at least 15 minutes and obviously weren't going anywhere. I'm panicking and I don't know what to do, and I debate calling the police, but since it's not a real emergency (yet) I don't want to call 911 (though I don't want to wait until it becomes a real emergency either). So we're sitting there for another 15 minutes and along comes a police officer walking up the line of cars ("sorry, miss, you're just in a bad spot, you'll have to wait it out"). His solution was to walk up to the car at the very front and talk him into driving through the mini-lake (I have no idea how deep, but probably about a foot). The cars in front of me start slowly moving again, so I maneuver around to get Emma back into her seat and drive through the pond (and a few more) before I make it onto another, higher, road that gets me back to Jersey City.

Jersey City was absolutely dry. We made it home and I gave Emma a bath. I think I forgot to mention that in her crying she was so upset that she threw up. Poor girl. The kicker is that the forecast today was "slight chance of showers, with the heavy rain on Tuesday." Ugh. If you need to find me tomorrow I will be at home, grateful that I live on the second floor.

Friday, September 7, 2007

10 Months!

Today is Emma's 10-month birthday. She's had busy month and has learned a lot of new skills. I'v been putting off a post of her new talents in the hopes of catching them on film (what is the digital camera eqivalent of film?), but she's pretty fast, so I'll just list them.

1. Crawling. Everywhere. FAST.

2. Climing up the 3 steps from the living room to her bedroom. (She has yet to figure out how to get down by herself, but luckily she knows to stop at the top of the stairs.)

3. Pulling herself up to standing. She's gotten so cocky about it that half the time she doesn't even hold to anything, she just leans. A couple of times she stood by herself for a second or two before falling over. (And she will pull up on ANYTHING, myself included).

4. Pointing. It's pretty cute, except when she pokes you in the eye.

5. Holding her own cup. She's not very good at it yet because she doesn't often hold it high enough, but we're working on it.

6. Cruising along the furniture.

7. This one isn't nearly as positive, but she's learned to complain (shriek/cry) when she wants something.

That's all I can think of for now, but she sure is fun!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fall Goals

I was thinking of these yesterday when walking to the train. I figured I'd put them up here so you could all make me accountable.

1. Work out at least 3x/week (Batting 2 for 3 on this already)

2. Work on writing for 1/2 an hour at least 5x/week

3. Complete one scrapbook page a week

4. Index one batch of 50 names a week for Family Search Indexing

5. Have friends over for dinner at least once a month

6. Plan a family outing once a month

7. Cook dinner 4x/week

8. Submit one manuscript for publication

Can you tell I have a lot of projects I'm working on? I'd love to learn how to sew too, but we'll have to see if Santa brings me a sewing machine first. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Today as working people begin laboring again, millions of kids head back to school and fall unofficially begins. My life isn't going to change whatsoever, but in spite of that I feel the rumblings of a fresh start. (Perhaps that is the result of 25+ years of buying school supplies. Nothing says fresh start like a package of unsharpened pencils.)

We have had a lovely summer--we were able to see both sides of our family, and thanks to Jen for getting married, we were able to see some good friends too. But I am ready to be home for a while and get into some sort of a routine. Here's to organization, new pencils, and the crisp scent of Fall.