31 October 2005

Happy Halloween!

(More photos at our Yahoo photos page.)


30 October 2005

to infinity...and beyond!

James had a blast at his preschool Halloween party. Put a dozen or so preschool age kids and their siblings in a large open space with lots of cookies, and they will run around screaming like maniacs for as long as their little legs and lungs will hold out. It was kind of exhausting for everyone involved, and there was absolutely no structure whatsoever. Obviously all the kids loved it.

Two of James' good preschool buddies were dressed as Mr Incredible and a Power Ranger, so they had a little trio of superheroes running around and play-fighting. Sort of antithetical to the peaceful, non-violent, granola/hippy-ish principles of the preschool, but everyone had fun and no one got hurt, so I think it's okay.


28 October 2005

pumpkin fever

James' preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch was postponed due to rain on Tuesday, but yesterday was the make-up field trip. We went to a nice farm where they had a hayride to the pumpkin patch (where each kid got to choose two pumpkins to take home), a giant slide, a petting zoo (featuring rabbits, a pig, a cow, sheep, goats, and a llama), and a straw pen to play in. It sprinkled on us a little, and was pretty cold out there, but we had a really good time... although my back was pretty sore after two hours of carrying my fat sleeping baby in the sling.

Today James painted his pumpkins. (You can maybe, almost identify the face on the pumpkin on the right side of the photo). Tomorrow we go to find a big pumpkin for Greg to carve into another masterpiece. Tomorrow is also James' preschool Halloween party, after which I will post pictures of him in costume. I helped to plan the party, but I'm not sure we did all that great a job of it, so here's hoping it goes well anyway.


25 October 2005

adventures in baby food

Yesterday we tried feeding baby cereal to Evan for the first time. And let me tell you, this is the most laid-back baby I've ever known. Some of you may remember the photo of James' first experience with baby food -- the poor child looks traumatized. He was pretty disgusted, and it took several tries to get him used to it. Evan, on the other hand, seems almost totally indifferent to cereal, but didn't put up a fuss. He just ate it and had no reaction. "You're putting something new and strange in my mouth? Okay, that's cool." But he did eat it, and by tonight he learned to open his mouth for the spoon, although he stuck his thumb in his mouth in between every bite.

Thanks to the food processor we got for Christmas last year, I'll be making some of Evan's baby food, so he'll be on to more exciting foods before long -- hopefully things like vegetables and fruit will elicit some sort of reaction. We'll see.


24 October 2005

weekend recap

It was back to the daily routine today, after a fun long weekend with Aunt Reneka and Uncle Mike visiting. We tired out the kids (and the adults) and got to do some things we don't normally do. In brief: we went to Dinosaur BBQ, Rochester's (and maybe the world's) best barbeque restaurant; we visited Letchworth State Park and hiked around the waterfalls; we spent a rainy afternoon watching "Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-rabbit" (which James called a bad movie because there was shooting, although I think he enjoyed it otherwise), followed by hot drinks and book-browsing at Barnes & Noble; we had breakfast at the Highland Park Diner, which never fails to satisfy. James found a new playmate in Mike, Evan got lots of attention from Ren, and I got lots of adult company for a change. All in all a good time. Unfortunately, no one took any pictures because we are all too forgetful.

Tomorrow is James' first preschool field trip! Hopefully I'll remember the camera for that, and remember to post about it too.


19 October 2005

visitors, Halloween, and plate tectonics

Things are busy in the Mergenthaler-Schmidt household. My sister and her fiancee are arriving tomorrow for a long weekend visit, so we've been cleaning -- a LOT -- in preparation. The cleaning gets done very slowly, however, with two energetic little boys in the house. I think both of the boys are going through growth spurts, because they are both wanting to eat constantly.

James is starting to get pretty excited about Halloween. We have a preschool Halloween party as well as trick-or-treating this year, so we'll be celebrating all weekend long. About 43 times a day James comes up with a new costume idea, although we've already got two costumes for him. Some of his more original ideas include the letter L, fire, and an earthquake. When I asked him what an earthquake costume would look like, he replied, "A rock. A very very circle rock." (He asked me about earthquakes yesterday, and I gave him a very vague, simplified explanation of plate tectonics, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't really get it. It's tough when your child is interested in things that he can't adequately comprehend yet. And it doesn't help him any that he's interested in science and tends to ask me about things -- I have a feeling that even if he were intellectually mature enough to understand certain concepts, he still wouldn't understand them thoroughly with the explanations I'm giving him. Poetry? Music? Religion? Those I can do. Too bad he's not interested yet.)


16 October 2005

Sunday photo

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to post more than one picture without totally screwing up the formatting, so I'm posting just one and uploading more to our photo site (link at right).

This isn't the best photo of either of my children, but I'm posting it to illustrate the adoring gaze Evan gets on his face whenever James is even remotely nearby. James doesn't have to be paying attention to Evan at all (most of the time he isn't) but Evan will stare and stare, starry-eyed and vaguely smiley, totally in love with his older brother. It's about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.


14 October 2005

highlights of the week

I'm already failing in my attempt to update daily. What can I say; it's been a slow week. But we've had a few highlights worth mentioning:

  • DDR! We got Dance Dance Revolution for X-Box, which will be great fun in the 6-month-long Rochester winter awaiting us. Once James learns how to play, it'll be fun for the whole family!
  • Our baby has fleas! Okay, actually, some friends of ours inadvertently brought some fleas into our house, and we discovered this only when we found them on the baby: one in his hair, and one in his ear. EW.
  • Monday, Greg and I left the kids for the first night since Evan was born! We went to a social function for the Institute of Optics, and we left kids with my uncle Billy, and my cousins Rachel and Matthew. We were a little worried about Evan since he was crying when we left, but apparently all went well. We'll have to do this more often.
  • Thursday, I assisted in James' preschool classroom, and it's just so cool to watch your kid in an environment that exists apart from you, to see how he interacts with the teacher and other kids, to see how he behaves and handles himself independently of Greg and me. We've had nothing but positive reports from his teacher so far.
  • I've created a Wish List for the boys (well, mostly James at this point). This is not a "buy things for our kids!!!" kind of thing; it's more just to give people an idea of what James is interested in, for Christmas and birthday presents when the time comes. (I've added the Wish List to the links on the right side of my page, along with my own Wish List, because, hey, a girl can dream, right?)

And... that's the news from Rochester. I'll try to be better about posting, and maybe put up some pictures this weekend.


10 October 2005

religious education

It started this morning when I overheard James, playing by himself, mention Heaven -- something we've never brought up.

Me: What's Heaven?
James: It's a place waaaay up in the sky.
Me: And who lives in Heaven?
James: Giants. But they're invisible, like ghosts, so you can't see them.

Obviously someone has been giving my son an incomplete lesson in religion. I found out that he'd heard about Heaven from one of his friends in the neighborhood*, so I offered to explain Heaven a little more clearly to him, telling him that some people believe this is where we go after we die (he understands death in a very vague sense), some people believe God lives in Heaven, that it's supposed to be a beautiful place where you're always happy, and so on.

When Greg came in, I told him about the conversation, and, well, leave it to Greg to challenge the fledgling religious understanding of a 3-year-old.

Greg: Heaven is way up in the sky? What about the planets and the stars? (things we've been discussing lately)
James: Well, actually, Heaven is in the Milky Way.
Greg: The Milky Way? But --
James: Well, actually it's up in the clouds.
Greg: But there are clouds around all of the planets.

And so on.

I think this is a great example of the different approaches Greg and I have in dealing with James' questions. I like to encourage James to think imaginatively, to appreciate other ideas and viewpoints. Greg encourages James to think critically, analytically, rationally. We each do some of both -- neither is exclusive of the other -- but we each have our preferred method. I'm reading James books of myths and legends, and Greg is drawing diagrams of the solar system. I've always appreciated that Greg and I have different interests and strengths, but it's becoming increasingly clear to me what a benefit this will be for our kids. They'll have the best of both worlds.

*This happens pretty often in our neighborhood, since most of the Americans here are Christian. The funny thing is, James hears Christian terms and phrases without the other children explaining them, so he's left a little confused. I think my favorite example of this was the day not too long ago when James came home and asked me, "What's Jesus?"


09 October 2005


Yesterday Evan rolled over front-to-back for the first time! This is just two weeks after rolling over back-to-front for the first time. And he's only four months old! I checked my records, and James didn't start rolling over until almost 5 months, so this seems very early to me.

My mom assures me that second (and, like me, third) children do everything earlier than first children because they have someone to copy and catch up to. This makes sense for things like walking and talking, but rolling over? Evan came up with this on his own, and it makes me so curious to know just how babies figure these things out anyway. Where does the impulse to roll come from? What goes on in those little brains? Is it purposeful? Is it an accident that becomes a habit? Baby development is so interesting.

Of course, I'm very excited that my baby is learning new things. But part of me is also a little disappointed, because... Evan is my baby. Quite possibly the last one, and I had hoped his babyhood would last a long time so I could really enjoy it. And, who knows, it still may last a long time. But the older my children get, the less hurry I'm in to have them grow up.


08 October 2005

reliving childhood

It's been a rainy couple of days, so we've all had a lot of quality time together forced upon us. But surprisingly, no one is too stir-crazy yet. In fact, we've even been enjoying ourselves despite the close quarters. One of the things I love best about being a parent is introducing my kiddo to things I loved as a child, and discovering together new things that we both end up loving. It's exciting to me that we're far enough past the Barney/Sesame Street/Teletubbies stage that we're able to find places where my interests, and Greg's, overlap with James'.

Last night we watched a movie called Castle in the Sky, by Hayao Miyazaki of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke fame. We're becoming big fans of Miyazaki in this house; My Neighbor Totoro is already a favorite of James' and mine. His films are beautifully animated, full of fantasy and adventure -- good fun for the whole family. James and I both enjoyed it a lot, enough to warrant a repeat viewing later this week so that Greg can see it too.

And this afternoon I was able to share with James something I love: we found an illustrated, abridged, young-children's version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the library. Admittedly, I never read this as a child (I read the entire Narnia series for the first time at age 19) but I've always loved children's literature, especially fantasy. Greg, unfortunately, is anti-Narnia, thanks to a laughably horrible BBC version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that we watched once. Maybe the upcoming Disney movie will convert him.

This afternoon the boys are playing with Star Wars legos. (When I say "the boys" I mean Greg and James, since Evan is still too small to do much of anything. And nothing is better than legos at bringing out the boy in Greg. Not that the boy in Greg is ever very hard to find...) Hours of fun for them both, thankfully, since we're expecting to be rained in all weekend. It's nice though, as long as we're stuck indoors, that we're all getting to indulge in childish delights.


06 October 2005

welcome to the jungle

As the only woman in a household with three males, sometimes I get overwhelmed with testosterone. Okay, the baby doesn't really factor into that (yet!) but the boyfriend and the preschooler are enough to make this a very masculine household at times. Video games, legos, race cars, Star Wars, volcanoes, superheroes... These are all well and good, and some actually more fun than I would have expected before I had sons -- but sometimes a girl just needs a break.

It may sound strange that I'm taking a break from the boys by... blogging about the boys. But despite the exasperation, the exhaustion, the testosterone, and the volume, they are, quite simply, my life. Without them I wouldn't have much to say here. And although this will be primarily a family blog, I reserve the right to write about anything I deem relevant to my family, including but not limited to parenting, society, current events, entertainment. I'll try to stay off the soapbox, but I can't make any promises.

My goal is to post something every day -- a picture, a quote, an anecdote, a milestone -- in part to keep family and friends updated on our lives, and in part for myself, to record memories, to remember and appreciate the small things that make up our everyday lives. So welcome to the family; I hope you'll find something here to interest you.