Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas in the Avery/Raab home. It was the first time that Sebastian was really able to understand the idea of Santa Claus and to ask for and anticipate specific presents. And of course, it was our first holiday with little Liesl-girl, who was smiley and happy throughout the day. We put out a plate of cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Christmas day began with the Advent calendar, which has been filled with various treats all month long. Sebastian has gotten small treats - chocolate, cookies - as well as larger ones - a book, a new game. This morning the 25th contained two small cars, Luigi and Guido (two characters from Pixar's Cars movie).

We then peeked into our stockings to see what Santa had brought. In addition to oranges and a pear, Sebastian got a magnifying glass and a Mater (tow truck; see Cars movie).

I made fig bread on Friday -our annual tradition - and we all enjoyed slices of it with our eggs and tea and oranges.

And then there were lots and lots more presents. Sebastian got a new jacket from cousins Danica and Roxana, Sally and The King from Popo and Grandpa, a dominoes game and books and a big red Mack truck from mommy and daddy. Steve got a Kindle and a manbag; I got cozy new slippers and a beautiful necklace.

Liesl got a red and white Christmas dress from Popo, and a new book from cousins Sam and Eve which Sebastian promptly read to her.

And then it was off to Greenlawn to celebrate with the Raabs. Sebastian got new trucks from uncle Joe (a Hummer) and uncle George (a police truck), as well as a Trunki (ride-on suitcase) from uncle Tom and aunt Angie. He also got new games from Grandma, trains from aunt Adele, and a dinosaur from aunt Trish and uncle Jeff. He and Rio played really nicely together. Liesl slept and ate, and then woke up and smiled very sweetly for everyone.

Great Grandma Raab and her three great grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Harbor holiday party

Happy Harbor's annual holiday party was this past Friday. The highlight for the kids is that Santa comes, on a big red fire engine, to say hello and distribute presents. Sebastian had specifically requested a new school bus for Christmas. We wrote a letter to Santa together: Dear Santa, Please can I have a new school bus please? Thank you. Sebastian.

Sure enough, Santa brought Sebastian a beautiful new school bus. The children then sang songs and had a little dance party, and we all ate the food that everyone had brought. Photos and 3 videos below.

From December 2010
Jingle Bells

From December 2010
We wish you a Merry Christmas

From December 2010
And my personal favorite, with Seb singing loud and clear.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Sebastian reading to Liesl

Sebastian reading to Liesl from B. Avery on Vimeo.

Liesl doesn't seem to fully appreciate Seb's storytelling, but we were properly impressed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Liesl rocks tummy time

Steve was playing with Liesl the other day - making faces, making her laugh - and then plopped her over on her belly for some tummy time. She looked at him for a bit, and then he moved to the other side to encourage her to turn her head and follow his voice. He kept talking, and after a few minutes she gave a big sigh and seemed to settle in. He leaned over to check, and sure enough, she'd fallen asleep! I'm sure that most parents wouldn't find this totally miraculous, but Sebastian didn't fall asleep on his own, without bouncing, cuddling, a pacifier, shushing, swaddling, or a moving car, until he was about 3. So Steve and I were simply awestruck. She slept for a good 2 hours on her stomach that time, and we've since put her down for other naps on her tummy. She scooches (sp?) her legs up under her, so that her bum sticks up in the air. It's adorable. She's next to me in her crib, sleeping just like that, as I type.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

sweet baby girl

We have fallen down on the photography front of late - my mom and dad left, taking with them their nice camera, and Liesl developed a terrible case of rashy pimples. The poor thing looked like a 13-year old with bad skin, and felt scaly to boot. So I wasn't feeling driven to commemorate that stage. Happily, she has moved beyond that now, and is back to soft skin. She's filled out and is smiling more and more, and she's adorable.

My list of things to blog about has been growing and growing, a sure sign that I'll never get to half of the topics. Liesl has been a very good sleeper so far, and unlike Sebastian not at all interested in the pacifier. She is very interested in sucking on her own thumb/hand, if she could just figure out the mechanics of getting it in her mouth. She's just a sweet, happy baby, and we are feeling extremely lucky.

Our boy is such a cuddler. He is always asking if he can touch Liesl, and hold her, and carry her, and sit with her. I think he sometimes squeezes her a bit too tight in his enthusiasm for hugging her, but I am reluctant to criticize him. I want him to keep on cuddling with her. So I let her get a bit squished - she cries and wriggles if it's too much - to keep him happy.

I went to Whole Foods by myself this past week, for the first time in a really long time. I thought it would be better and easier without Sebastian, but instead I was just lonely. I missed the conversations that Seb and I have in the store, and the "help" he gives me in choosing things, counting eggs, unpacking the cart, etc. It was faster, but it felt more like a chore and less like an adventure.

Sebastian's language skills have been really going through a rapid shift lately. He is able to put together much more complex thoughts and sentences and his grammatical errors (in verb tense, for ex.) are decreasing. He is also remembering and repeating a lot of things we say, even when we aren't sure he's paying attention the first time around. His creative and imaginary play is also really developing - he doesn't play with dolls, but he attributes human characteristics and personality to his cars and buses. He has them talk to each other and do things together, and they interact in various ways (getting angry with each other, for ex.). It's fascinating to be in the next room and eavesdrop on his internal conversations. He has named two of his trains - he knows that the blue one is Thomas, but the green engine he has named Clock, and the black engine has been dubbed France. He has a green clock, so that makes some sense, but I have no idea where France came from.

He and Steve have really bonded over the last two months, since Liesl was born. Steve does the whole bedtime routine - bath, pjs, stories - and is often the one who is available to play with him. It's been very sweet to watch, although I admit to feeling a little left out and sad that my boy doesn't automatically turn to his mama any more. There are also a lot of little ways in which Seb is copying Steve - his favorite color is green, he likes to play football in the living room and cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers... it's cute.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


House clean, laundry done, soup for dinner bubbling on stove, new New Yorker in hand, and a fleece-clad baby slumbering sweetly on my chest. Bliss.

Christmas tree

We drove up to Wilkens Farm to get our Christmas tree - it's a choose and cut operation, which was fun for Sebastian. We got a lovely tree and brought it home. We were very impressed that on the way to the farm, Seb thought to ask us how we were going to get the tree home - how it would fit in our car. He was extremely amused to have the tree on top of the car, but repeatedly cautioned Steve to drive slowly on the way home, so the tree wouldn't fall off. And then we decorated it. More pics below and in the web album.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

big brother

More pictures of Sebastian and Liesl together.

Sebastian "decorated" Liesl with his stickers. I think they make a nice contrast with all the pink.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

"french sticks"

Sebastian has discovered a new vegetable to love: "french sticks". To the rest of the world, these are known as green beans (albeit the skinny French style). We cooked them up with soy sauce, orange juice, and a bit of maple syrup, and Steve made this whole game of eating them with his hands and calling them french sticks, and Sebastian totally fell in love. He's requested them every night this week. We had to make a special grocery store run in order to buy more French green beans. It's awesome. (Why french sticks? Because he loves french fries and french toast...)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

train show!!

We had a terrific long weekend together. We spent Thursday in Greenlawn with the Raabs, enjoying a great Thanksgiving meal and introducing Liesl to the family. Sebastian rode his little bike outside, kicked around a soccer ball, played billiards with uncle George, got a bunch of belated birthday gifts (including his favorite, a garbage truck), and capped off a great day by having apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dinner.

On Friday, Liesl and I were feeling pretty tired, so Steve and Sebastian went into the city together for a grand adventure. They rode taxis, buses, and subway trains, had hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, gazed at the Empire State Building's lights, and brought home cupcakes for mama. Sebastian was really excited.

On Saturday, we went to Nathan's home for a playdate - the Krapfs had moved since our last visit, and Seb was excited to hang out with his best friend in his new home. The boys played fairly well together - some haggling over trains and trucks - and it was a good way to keep them both amused for a while.

And finally, the most special treat of all - we visited the NY Botanical Garden's Holiday Train show on Sunday morning! It was a bit crowded, of course, but seeing all of the structures was magical (for the adults), and Seb loved watching the trains go around. We agreed that we'd have to return when there were fewer people.

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