Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

We had a terrific Christmas this year - spent the morning at home opening presents (Sebastian got into it, which was so fun), and then went out to Long Island to celebrate with the Raabs. There are way too many pictures from Christmas morning - 200 or so - and I'm temporarily daunted by the job of culling and sorting and deciding. Until I manage it, here's a photo of us from the Raab family party.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

train play

My parents bought Sebastian a name train while we were together in Portland in June. Before now, he's mostly ignored it, or simply picked up the various pieces and thrown them around. During the last three or four days he's suddenly become fascinated by it. He loves to stick the different letters together (they have magnets on each end), roll the completed train around, and then pick it up and shake it all apart.

train play from B. Avery on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It snowed on Friday in Dobbs, and we took Sebbe out. I showed him snowballs, and a snow angel, and we went tobogganing. The verdict? He's not so sure about the cold white stuff, and he doesn't like being bundled up. :) More snowy pics in the gallery.

Tobogganing! from Brianna Avery on Vimeo.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

watering the plants

Sebastian has seen me water the houseplants many times - I'm often carrying him on one hip as I go around the apartment and feed them all. He got hold of the watering can and has been copying my actions in the cutest way.
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Monday, December 15, 2008


At long last, Sebastian has discovered the ma sound. Mama. I love it. He still isn't using it to mean me, but at least he's added some mamamas to the dadadas in his repertoire.

He's also started doing this weird cute flying thing when he walks. He puts his arms behind him and juts his chin forward, leaning into the wind. I don't know if it makes his faster, or if he thinks it does. But it's utterly adorable. Back when tummy time was a big deal, he used to arch up on his belly, and lift his arms and legs behind him as though he were flying. This is the exact same pose, but vertical. We'll try to get some pictures of it.

We've had a very busy couple of weeks on our end. Some tough things: random sleeplessness (Seb), stomach virus (both me and Seb), and a very bad cold. Plus a visitor (hi Kelsey!), Thanksgiving then Christmas (cooking and shopping), and a bunch of busy work days for Steve. I can't wait for the Christmas break - I'll be home from the 24th to the 4th! It's awesome.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

visit to the Greenburgh Nature Center

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Last Sunday was rainy and cold, so for an adventure we took Sebastian to the Greenburgh Nature Center. It's only a 10 minute drive, and has all kinds of fun indoor animals - turtles, lizards, snakes, some birds, guinea pigs, etc. They even take some of them out of the cages and let you touch, as the pictures above show. Sebbe was fascinated by the turtles. He watched one slowly crawling across the floor, and repeatedly tried to scoot it with his hand, to make it go faster. More pics in the gallery.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1-year checkup

We took Sebastian to see Dr. Jane today, for his 1-year checkup. He is perfectly fine, doing everything he ought (with the possible exception of pointing), and is now cleared to eat pretty much anything.

His height is 31 inches and his weight is 21 lbs 6 oz. (At his 10-month checkup, they measured him at 32 inches tall, so he's either shrinking or the previous measurement was off). He's still our tall and skinny beanpole.

Sadly, the doctor's visit ended with the usual round of shots (MMR, flu, HIB), so he may be a bit fussy tomorrow if his arms are sore. Poor little man.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

new games

Another new video (after a 5-month drought, I am suddenly a videotaping fiend). I bought this toy for Sebastian and it has been amazing to watch him figure it out. He's also started to get the idea of the stacking rings toy that we have. So cool to watch his little brain whirring and his fingers struggling to obey its commands.

He is also managing what may be his first word: uh-oh. He's a bit tentative on the oh part of things, so it's more like UH...oh. He's been saying it all the time, sometimes appropriately (when he drops something) and sometimes not (when he throws food).

Marble game from Brianna Avery on Vimeo.

Friday, November 14, 2008


first steps (Nov. 14) from Brianna Avery on Vimeo.

It's official: we have a toddler!

Not only did Sebastian turn one this week, but he's finally letting go and taking some steps on his own! This morning he was so excited about his new abilities - he kept standing up and walking a few steps, bumping down to the ground, and then doing it all over again. He's got the full Frankenstein effect: mouth open, arms akimbo, stiff legs.

It's amazing - wonderful - to watch. He's very proud of himself.

Stepping out from Brianna Avery on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sebastian's first birthday!

We celebrated our boy's first birthday with two parties this weekend! On Friday, we had a playgroup party celebrating all of the November babies - Sebbe, Kayleigh, Nathan, and Sonya. (So fun! Imagine the chaos!) On Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa Raab, aunt Trish and uncle Jeff, aunt Mary and cousin Rio Simone came over to open presents and eat birthday cake.

Grandpa and Popo Avery sent the tunnel pictured above - already a favorite - and cousin Danica sent a box of goodies that Sebastian loved opening.

I posted many more pictures in the web albums. Thanks to everyone for Sebbe's gifts!
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

weekend update

So I'm running a few days behind schedule with the blog updates...

We had a wonderful, outdoorsy, family weekend - both Steve and I were home on Friday, a beautiful, sunny, crisp fall day - so we went to Rockefeller State Park. We walked along the Pocantico River, up Eagle Hill, and then up into the pastures of Stone Barns. Sebbe got carried in our backpack, which is by far his favorite means of transportation. We had a family lunch in Irvington, went sliding at the playground, and then while Seb took his afternoon nap we drove up to Wilkens Farm to get some cider, donuts, apples, and pumpkins. Yum. And then on to Jen's house, for a Halloween party with all our baby friends.

Saturday was a sleepier day - naps for everyone, and walking on the OCA trail, and chores.

Sunday was another simply gorgeous day, so we went back to Stone Barns. We walked the trails of the farm for a bit, and Sebastian was utterly fascinated by the geese. He heard them honking, and then watched as they all took off from the pond and made a formation overhead. After that, whenever he heard the sound of geese, he started looking around and up. The courtyard of the cafe and restaurant was just awash in children - mostly under the age of 4 - picnicking, toddling, throwing balls and rolling cars. It was such a fun scene - an impromptu playgroup.

We kept meaning to carve our pumpkin, but the weather and the leaves were just too compelling. Next year. :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dragon attack!

Dragon attack! from Brianna Avery on Vimeo.

Monday morning food for thought

This was in the Sunday New York Times:

November 2, 2008
Blackboard | Quoted

The Cosmos and You

FOR his lecture course at Dartmouth last summer, “Astronomy 3: Exploring the Universe,” Prof. Yorke Brown gave a quiz at week’s end. “Any questions?” he asked, just before one on the life cycle of stars. Just one. Johanna Evans, an English major, wanted to know: “How do you keep from despairing at the immensity of space and the smallness of us?” Professor Brown acknowledged that it was “a beautiful and important question,” but, he wondered, could it wait until after the quiz? Here are excerpts from the follow-up e-mail exchange. Subject line: Despair.

MS. EVANS: I guess the hugeness of what we are studying finally caught up with me once we broke out of the basic principles of physics. It was like opening up an unused compartment in my brain, as though one part were used to think about things that concerned my earthly sphere, and this other newly discovered part was meant to — but not ready to — grapple with HUGE realities. I felt as though the impact of my existence is small, compared to something like the impact of a supernova.”

DR. BROWN: Johanna, you are most certainly an infinitesimal in the cold vastness of the cosmos, and yes, you are only one of billions of humans and other creatures who have come before and will come after, and your life is barely a mathematical instant in the span of time. But you are also, just as certainly, a miracle: you are a creature capable of thought, of wonder, of awe. You are a creature capable of recognizing that you are not the center of the Universe. And it is because of that very capacity that you can see in other people the same intrinsic value that you see in yourself. You are capable of love, and so need not despair of insignificance. See you Monday.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Sebbe was a dragon for Halloween! We didn't let him trick or treat for candy, but we did go to a party at Jenn's place with a lot of our mama and baby friends.

There are a few more pictures in the October web album, but Jennifer's husband Adrian took much better ones. They're here:

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Central Park Carousel

We met up with our friend Eric and his son Kieran (7 months) last weekend in Central Park. The boys picnicked and crawled around on the muddy grass, we walked around enjoying a beautiful day, and we rode the carousel. It's an old-fashioned ride - painted horses going up and down and round and round. It was awesome. I don't know if the boys liked it, but I thought it was wonderful.

Monday, October 27, 2008

cow's milk and other new joys

We introduced Sebastian to cow's milk last week. He seemed to like it, drinking 4-5 ounces from his sippy cup, but then he slept badly and we wondered if his stomach couldn't handle the lactose. So we cut back on the amount and he seems to be adjusting well. He's gotten really good at drinking from a sippy cup - he loves to pick it up by himself, by the handles, and tip his head waaaayyy back to drink.

On Friday we met up with our friends for a playdate at the Dobbs playground. It was, as always, so nice to see all my mom friends and their babies. And some of them are walking!!! Both Nathan and Anabelle are officially toddlers, taking their little steps around (arms outstretched). It's so great. I can't believe our boy, who seemed so close to walking in August, still isn't stepping out! Ah well - he's standing on his own more and more often. He grins when he does it, like he knows he's accomplishing something.

Some cute games from the past week:

While giving him a bath on Thursday, we started a game of back-and-forth splashing. I splashed my hand in the water once, and he did it once. Then I did it a few times, and so did he, and back and forth, until amid lots of giggles we were both splashing with both hands. The bath is so fun.

On Wednesday, I was lying on the floor on my back, with a glass of wine (a tumbler, not a stemmed glass) in one hand. He really wanted the glass, and crawled back and forth over my chest half a dozen times in pursuit of the glass. He would get 3/4 of the way over, and then I would move the glass to the other hand on the other side. So he would finish crawling over, turn around, and head back. I started giggling after the third time he did this, and he just gave me this baffled look (what's so funny? why's everything moving?) and kept going.

He's starting to crawl up on top of things - we have a low ottoman in the living room that he managed to climb up on Friday. He got up there and then sort of sat down and looked around and down. Had no idea what to do. I was impressed that he didn't just immediately try to get off and bonk himself on the head. I'm sure that's to come.

Inspired by the tale of Danica and Werdigo?, I started hiding little pieces of Sebastian's bread at the table. I would cover up a piece with my hand, and say "Where'd it go?". Well, he caught onto that right away, and would pick up my hand and grin at the bread. So I used my thumb to pin the piece to my palm so that when he picked up my hand the bread was gone. Huh!? He was so confused - looked all around, looked on the floor, looked at me. I put my hand back down on the table and he immediately picked it up again, grinning at me when the bread was once again there. Fun with babies...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seb, the artiste

We made playdough this weekend and also bought some crayons, markers, and fingerpaint. Time for the real messes to begin! I was hoping that Sebastian would figure out what to do with his new art toys, and not just eat them.

I borrowed the playdough recipe from my sister-in-law Kim, who is the most freely creative person I know and thus my most trusted source for all things art-related. It was really easy to make, and I like knowing what's in it (salt!). The only problem is that Sebastian utterly hated it. Hated. Feared. He wouldn't come near it, or touch it even with one finger. We tried making it into a ball and rolling it - he just watched. We showed him how it could be squished and reshaped - he gave us a nervous smile and crawled away. I tried to give it to him and he physically recoiled. He has never before shown unhappiness about any toy or texture (he loves dirt and grass), so I don't know what was going on. Maybe we were trying too hard? At any rate, I put it away for now.

Next, we tried crayons. He ate them. Purple crayon was all over his cheek, chin, and lips, but none made it onto the paper. We drew all kinds of things and he sat contentedly chewing his crayons and throwing them around. *sigh*

Finally, at dinner on Monday night, I put a piece of paper on the table in front of him and gave him two markers. Success! He drew on the paper! He also drew on the table, his shirt, his face, and me. He also got beets all over the paper, so it is "mixed-medium". So avant-garde.

We saved his first artwork, of course. I have to figure out how to get a scan of it uploaded to post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

daycare vs. a nanny

We had a nanny come today to look after Sebastian - he was sent home from daycare on Monday with a fever over 101, and is not allowed to return until he's been fine for 24 hours. Since we both needed to work today, we used a service provided by Columbia called Backup Care. Basically, it's an agency that subcontracts with childcare centers and nanny agencies to provide emergency backup childcare service.

In theory, we love the idea, and it's clearly a necessary option when you both have to work on a certain day. (Kids get sick, daycare centers close, nannies get sick or take vacation, etc.) In practice, we both spent the day feeling terribly anxious. Christie arrived this morning at 7:30 and seemed perfectly nice, competent, etc. But it was very hard to leave Sebastian in our home with a stranger, and very strange to come back at the end of the day and have so little idea of what he and she had been up to. And he cried when we left and was very subdued when I returned, which didn't thrill me. It made me realize more than ever that daycare is the better choice for us (unless the nanny is a family member, like Trish or Mom Raab).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Must scoot to Muscoot Farm!

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We spent Sunday at Muscoot Farm just north of us in Katonah, NY. They were having a fall harvest celebration, with music, a farmers market, and games. We saw goats, chickens, pigs and piglets, sheep, horses, cows, geese, and turkeys. And lots and lots of pumpkins. Sebbe seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all (so many kids!).

Thanks to my friend Arin for the family photo of us! (It's one of her daughters, Emma, that's in the pumpkin patch with Sebbe.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

at the playground

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Ever since he became mobile (and discovered how to climb stairs), it has been so fun to take Sebastian to the local playgrounds. He loves to clamber up the steps, to go through and sit in the tunnels, to go down the slides, to play peekaboo through the bars or the plastic windows. I love to take him and crawl around with him, letting him explore everything and use his little body.

We are extremely fortunate in our choices of playgrounds, as well - there are two in Dobbs, both within a 5-minute walk. One is at the waterfront, and is pirate-ship-themed. The other is brand new - we watched them install it last May - and has great side-by-side slides so that we can go down together. In Hastings, there are three playgrounds - at the waterfront, at Zinsser Park along the trail, and next to the school athletic grounds. The last of these is always packed with children; there are swings, sandboxes, little riding creatures, and two separate jungle gyms for little and big kids. And in Irvington, there's a wonderful little playground just off the trail - the little kids jungle gym is treehouse-themed, and very cute. We've been visiting all of these, and loving them all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

water baby

Sebastian's new favorite time of day is bathtime. As soon as he's finished dinner, he crawls toward the bathroom. (Usually, he's covered in food, so that's a good thing.) Then he stands holding onto the edge of the tub, bouncing up and down in excitement while we fill the tub with water. He has these cute rubber animal bath toys that he likes to throw into the water. He crouches down to pick them up, and hurls them in, while we provide the soundtrack (ploop! splash! yay!).

He loves to sit in the water and put his animals into a bucket, and then dump them out. He chases the animals around the tub. He lies on his belly and kicks his feet, splashing the water everywhere. He doesn't even mind when I pour water over his head to clean his hair and face - just looks down and closes his eyes.

Last night he was so upset when I took him out that he just started howling in despair.

Of course, all of this bath love could be because he has also discovered his little willy. While sitting in the bath, he'll reach down and touch himself (he can't see what he's doing, because his belly is so big that it blocks the view...). Immediately afterwards he looks up at us with the biggest grin ever on his face. Occasionally he giggles with happiness.

No wonder bathtime is so happy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

helping out around the house

Steve has taught Sebastian a very important life skill: helping unload the dishwasher. Sebbe loves the dishwasher - the fact that the door opens down and there's all that stuff in there to play with, the sliding tray that he can move in and out, the door to climb on top of...
So now he has learned to take out all the plates and bowls and silverware (not knives) and hand them to us. He takes things out very carefully, with two hands, and then holds them up for us to take away and put onto the shelf. He's very deliberate about it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

stepping out!

Sebastian took his first steps this weekend! We were all in the kitchen, and Steve was distracting the baby with toys (empty plastic water bottles) and then encouraging him to "come to daddy". Sebbe managed to take one step a couple of times, and then took two steps! (Each episode ended with a lunge forward into daddy-o's arms.) It was great stuff.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

10-month checkup!

We went to see Dr. Jane yesterday. Sebastian, at 10 months, is 32 inches tall and 20 lbs. He's a beanpole! Everything seems totally normal so far.

Yesterday Steve was home with the boy and they spent some time in the park. Steve kept letting go of Sebbe's hands to let him stand by himself - he managed it for a little while, and gave a big grin, as if he knew what he was doing! So exciting.

He's developed a really cute new trick - when he's crawling and wants to get somewhere in a hurry, he tucks his chin down (to stare at the floor instead of straight ahead) and barrels forward. The sprint-crawl. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Anabelle's first birthday party

The birthday girl! We had a great time celebrating with Anabelle and her mom and dad - Jennifer and Adrian - as well as the rest of our playgroup.
Jen has posted many many pictures here.
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playing with the garbage, a favorite pursuit.

playing peekaboo under and over the bed with daddy-o.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

at the Hastings music festival

We spent some of Saturday at the Hastings on Hudson "Take me to the River" music festival. They had all kinds of toys for kids, including some drumming toys and boxes. More pics in the gallery.
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