Monday, August 31, 2009


We don't have a television, and neither does our daycare, so Sebbe's exposure to tv shows and their characters is pretty limited. However, we found Sesame Street videos online (thanks, Kim!), and have showed them to Seb on occasion. For a long time, he was sort of interested - he would watch, and enjoy the characters, but he certainly didn't clamor for it.

Well, things change. He has recently become totally fascinated by Elmo. If he sees one of us on the computer, he'll point to it and say (very clearly) "Eh-mo". I've tried to play dumb, but he's really very insistent. "Eh-mo! Eh-mo!" (I think he must think I'm very slow.) He really only likes Elmo, but he'll also tolerate videos that feature Zoe and Abby. Anyone else - Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Kermit the frog - earns a scowl and a return to the "Eh-mo!" finger pointing.

Even more recently, he's decided that he has one favorite video. Now, when he points at the computer and requests Elmo, he's really only asking for this one video to be played over and over and over again. I have no idea why he loves it so much, but there you have it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

very unhappy daycare experience

We have been expecting (dreading) a couple of rough weeks ahead. Happy Harbor, our daycare, is closed for two weeks for their annual vacation. Unfortunately it coincides with the start of the new school year, one of my busiest times, and Steve has an appeals court brief due September 8th, so we cannot take a vacation to coincide with the closing. So we have been planning to put Sebastian in backup daycare at Bright Horizons in Yonkers, through a really helpful service offered by Columbia (and by Dorsey). So two weeks of adjusting to a new place and new people, and then when he returns to HH, he'll have graduated from the infants room into the toddler room - another adjustment to new people. We're expecting a lot of crying and clinging at dropoff, and tantrums in the evenings.

Yesterday was his first day at the new daycare center and it was extremely disappointing. The place was disorganized and understaffed. We spent a good 45 minutes just hanging out and helping Sebastian adjust in the morning, and another 15 minutes observing the playground activity when we picked him up. The children were pushing and shoving one another, and taking each other's toys, and the adults weren't supervising or guiding them at all. Obviously, toddlers have no manners and don't know how to behave, which is why there needs to be active supervision. To make matters worse, the daycare was unable to give us any information at pickup about Sebastian's day. They couldn't find a daily sheet with written information about his sleeping and eating and mood, and no one was there who knew anything (the two women who were there had apparently just arrived). Total disaster. (Seb also sobbed when we left and again when we picked him up, and was frantic to get up into my arms, but that was at least expected, though so so hard and sad.)

We felt terribly about the place and the experience and decided not to take him back there. Maybe it was just a bad day and our experience wasn't representative. But Seb's not a guinea pig, and we just don't feel comfortable. So he spent today in my office with me, running around with his stroller and doll, looking out the window at buses and trucks, napping on the floor, and watching Elmo on the computer. Tomorrow Steve found him a place at a drop-in daycare near his office, one recommended by colleagues. Thursday and Friday, and next week, we're not sure - he's on the waiting list for the Manhattan daycare center, he may make a return visit to my office, and Steve may stay home one of the days and work on the weekend instead.

Ugh. One small bright spot is that this has really reinforced our sense that Happy Harbor is a good daycare center that does a really good job with its children, teaching them and guiding them and encouraging them. We can't wait for them to reopen!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maine, part two

Friday dawned sunny and hot, and we returned to the Ogunquit beach. (It's contrary to the Avery family tradition, which dictates Long Sands in York, but we liked the convenience of Ogunquit's geography - being able to grab breakfast in town and walk to the beach, spend a couple hours there, and then walk back into town and eat lunch - with no driving once we arrived.)

As soon as we arrived, Sebastian demonstrated his best yoga down-dog pose -
From Maine 2009
but he wasn't entirely pleased with the result -
From Maine 2009
Beach time was great. Sebastian was more comfortable running around and playing in the shallow waves, and he was happy to go with us as we waded out a good distance into the water.

After lunch in Portsmouth and Sebastian's nap, we went to York Beach and played in the town for the afternoon. We went to an old-fashioned 10-pin bowling alley and tried to help Sebastian to knock over some bowling pins.
From Maine 2009
We went to the amusement park, which is old and creaky but still fun for a small boy. Sebastian was fascinated by the mini-train and really really wanted to go for a ride, but when we put him onboard and left him there he totally melted down. (I think you can see the beginnings of his distress in our picture.)
From Maine 2009
So we scooped him up and went on, to an amusement ride that Sebastian and I could go on together. There was a funny elevator-ish portion, a moving sidewalk, and a spinning tunnel. We went through twice, and Sebastian had to be dragged away. (Click on the picture to watch the video.)
From Maine 2009
Steve wasn't feeling well that evening, so Sebbe and I had dinner together at an outdoor cafe called Frills. I had some amazing fried clams. Seb sat on my lap and then wandered around the patio touching the flowers and making shy eyes at everyone. After dinner we took a lovely long walk along the Marginal Way, in the twilight, looking out at the ocean.

From Maine 2009

Saturday morning we had a terrific breakfast at a place called Cafe Amore - french toast, fruit pancakes, hash, eggs Benedict. We went to the beach for one last visit, and Seb spent most of the time playing in the puddles left by the receding tide - warmer, no waves.
From Maine 2009
After a final, valedictory stop at Brown's ice cream, we drove down to Boston. We had a hotel right in downtown Boston, on the harbor. We walked into the North End and had pasta at an Italian restaurant, then wandered Quincy Market, and the harborfront (boats! boats!).
From Maine 2009
There was a carousel set up in the middle of the avenues, and Seb and I took a ride together, waving madly at daddy every time we went by.
From Maine 2009

Sunday morning we took a water taxi boat around the harbor for 30 minutes - Seb's first time on a boat.
From Maine 2009
He thought it was great fun to be surrounded by "wa-wa".
From Maine 2009

We got dropped off at the Children's Museum, which was directly across from our hotel - spent an hour playing with the various exhibits of balls, bubbles, trains - and then packed up to go home.
From Maine 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

vacation to Boston and Maine

We left Irvington on Tuesday morning - not terribly early, since we wanted to time the bulk of the drive with Sebastian's usual midday nap. We stopped in Katonah for lunch and then went straight to Boston. Our hotel was right next to a park and playground, so as soon as we arrived Seb and I went and kicked our soccer ball, threw our tennis balls, played with a really cool water fountain, and went up and down the slides. We had dinner at an amazing Afghan place in Cambridge. Amazing. We ordered it to go and ate dinner by the side of the Charles. Sebastian ran around throwing his tennis ball and going up and down ramps and stairs while we devoured the lamb, pumpkin, and ravioli-ish things.

Wednesday, Steve had a bit of work to finish up in the morning, so Sebbe and I hopped on the Boston T train and rode into the middle of downtown. Seb was in heaven. First a ride on a choo choo train and then to be surrounded by traffic and people. We ran around the big central plaza, checked out a statue or two, and watched traffic for awhile.

We then drove up to Portsmouth, NH, where we had a hotel for the night. We were really pleasantly surprised by how fun and busy Portsmouth was - lots of cute little shops and restaurants, and a lot of pedestrian traffic wandering the downtown. We visited the toy store and book store, and had dinner at a brewing company. But before that, we drove to York Beach, Maine, and I got to introduce Steve and Sebbe to the joys of Long Sands beach. The sand was so soft. Sebastian took an instant shine to it, plopping himself down and getting covered.
From Maine 2009
We ran in and out of the water, walked halfway down the cove, watched some surfers, and investigated other people's sand castles.
From Maine 2009

Thursday was a very grey and windy day. We drove up to Ogunquit and visited the beach there. It was actually not so bad that the weather wasn't perfect beach weather, since it meant that we had much of the beach to ourselves. Seb has become quite good at kicking a ball and he ran around the beach kicking and dribbling his little ball.
From Maine 2009
He was fascinated by the long rope attached to the buoys, as well as by the buoys themselves (which he called balls). He piled sand on the rope, tried to move it around, and jumped over it again and again.
From Maine 2009
Beach time ended when Sebbe accidentally fell into a shallow part of the water. He was running on a sand bar, tripped and fell in. At first he thought it was funny, but then he realized that he was freezing cold and started to shiver and cry. So we hustled off and got him dried and changed. Ogunquit runs trolley shuttle buses around the town, from the beach to town center, then along Shore Road to Perkins Cove. Seb was absolutely fascinated by them - "bus! bus!" was his constant refrain - so we hopped on and rode the trolley up to town for lunch. We picnicked along Shore Road, Seb with some focaccia pizza and us with a fried fish sandwich, clam chowder, and a crab roll. So yummy.
From Maine 2009
After Seb's nap we went to Nubble Light in York. First stop was Brown's ice cream, where the three of us shared a sample cup of three flavors - blueberry, vanilla with chocolate and nuts, and chocolate with walnuts. We all loved the ice cream.
From Maine 2009
We then continued up the road and clambered and crawled and climbed all over the rocks overlooking the lighthouse and ocean - Sebastian didn't need any prompting to tackle them.
From Maine 2009
From Maine 2009
For dinner, we ordered from Fox's and ate our lobster and corn sitting outside, watching the sun go down.
From Maine 2009

More tomorrow...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maine vacation

More pictures in the Maine album on Picasa; more blogging to come.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

sunny summer weekend

The three of us enjoyed a wonderful long weekend together - both Steve and I had Friday off from work. We went for bike rides and long walks, visited the playground, visited the trains. On Friday we explored Nyack, a town right across the Hudson river. We had breakfast out, played in the park along the waterfront, and looked in the various shops along the streets. There are some nice cafes, a bookstore and a wooden toyshop. Definitely worth a return visit.

Saturday we biked to the farmers market and had a grand time going up and down the hills (wheee!). We have a great video from the market that I'll try to get online. Steve's mom and dad came over that night to say hello and celebrate Steve's birthday, which is today.

And Sunday we had brunch at Rachel and Gui's house - they cooked up a veritable feast, and it was so delightful to have a playdate/brunch. Sonya and Sebastian played really nicely together.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

playdate at Fahnestock lake with Sonya

On Saturday we biked to the Hastings farmers market - a glorious ride there, and a not so glorious ride back with our 25-lb boy on front and a variety of (heavy) fruits and vegetables on back. Steve and I used to bike there almost every weekend, back before we had Sebastian and we lived a few miles closer. It was fun to try it out again. Sebbe has definitely taken a liking to the bike. He says bike and points to it, and on Sunday asked to be taken out for a ride. He gestures towards hills (downhills) because he likes to go fast and say "whee" with me. We say "bump" whenever we go over a big bump.

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After the farmers market we drove up to Canopus Lake in Fahnestock State Park to meet our friends Rachel, Gui, and Sonya. The kids were initially a bit shy (ignoring each other for the first 45 minutes or so) but then started to play together. They ran up and down a sand hill, they followed each other around and underneath the lifeguard chair, they ran back and forth to the water's edge, and Sebbe took Sonya's lead and finally dared to go into the water. We walked in to chest level and then I held him on his belly to "swim", after he saw Sonya trying that out. Rachel says that Sonya has never played so enthusiastically with sand, which is definitely our boy's specialty. It was really awesome to have a beach playdate!

Botanical Garden

On Friday, after an amazingly delicious breakfast at Sarabeth's in Manhattan, we dropped Steve off at work and headed up to the Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It was muggy and hot and the boy was a bit grouchy, so our usual mode of visiting the garden (he runs around and investigates things) wasn't working. Then he saw the tram and was very clear that he was extremely very interested. So we hopped on. We were the only ones. We rode the tram around the garden one and a half times, the only people on board, looking at the flowers and enjoying the ride. Sort of like an amusement park, I guess! Some pics of us on board. (Yes, Sebbe is wearing his pajama top. He wore them all day long and screamed and kicked whenever I tried to remove it to put on a regular tshirt...)

And this is just a new toy - Seb's stroller, with his doll Pip going for a ride. I bought this after watching him play with all of his friends' strollers (all girls, with pink ones). He loves it. He pushed the stroller (and Pip) all around Whole Foods on Sunday morning.
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

scenes from the car

Driving with Sebastian on Sunday morning, I hear happy giggles coming from the back seat. He's alone back there, and we're on a random stretch of highway. And these are true, real giggles, not the maniacal demon laughter that he occasionally lets out. I seize a moment and look back, to discover that he's removed his shoes and socks and is tickling the bottom of his feet. And laughing. So awesome.

Later that day, I hear "truck!" "truck!" "truck!" coming from back there, for 10 minutes straight, and can't figure it out, because we're on a local road and there are no trucks to be seen in any direction. I look pretty carefully too, because he's usually right about these things. (Once, we were on a highway, and he kept yelling "bus!" excitedly, and it took us a while to figure out that he was seeing a tour bus high and far back on the ramp above us, merging onto our road.) I parked the car and walked around to his side and discover he's been looking in his "Great Big Book of Trucks", which is, that's right, a book full of pictures of trucks. (With labels. No other text, no story.) I love it that he loves that book so much.