Graciela eats

Not only does Graciela eat Chorizo, she loves it!

Not only does Graciela eat Chorizo, she loves it!

We’ve all got to eat, right? Until Graciela came along, it was something pretty much taken for granted in our household because Amy, Alex and myself were pretty good at it. But working with a new human brought some new perspective, especially for routine tasks like holding a fork, waiting until the food cools and making sure the food was diced small enough for her. So now that we’re approaching her 17th month (wow!), it was interesting to thumb through the photos of her taken while eating and see the progression. She’s gone from having to be fed to feeding herself. And while she’s still hit and miss with utensils, you sense she at least understands the concept but often opts to stick with the hands. She’s got her favorites and can even ask for some by name. So if you’re ever over for dinner and you have some cheese that you don’t want to share, don’t let Graciela see it. Continue Reading »

Graciela’s glasses

Graciela and her glasses.

Graciela and her glasses.

We first noticed late in the autumn of 2013 that Graciela had an eye that tended to drift in, toward her nose. So we made an appointment and following a series of short tests, a doctor informed us that she is far-sighted. It’s not uncommon for children this age to be far-sighted and there are several ways to treat this, the first being eyeglasses. Of course, we want the best for Graciela but that doesn’t always jive with her wishes. So she was fitted for glasses and when they arrived, the result was about as expected: She wanted nothing to do with them. In trying to figure out just how we were going to get her to wear the glasses, our babysitter offered a genius yet simple solution: Give Graciela a toy for each hand, then slip the glasses on while her hands are occupied and she can’t push them away. It worked, and for the last 3 months or so, she’s been wearing them regularly and even has the word “grasses” in her 15-month-old vocabulary. Graciela’s followup appointment in early February went well and the doctor noted progress in the correction of her alignment. The hope is that wearing the glasses will continue to the progress to the point where she won’t need them anymore. So in the meantime, we’ll just continue to love up our “adorable little dork,” as one family member so endearingly dubbed her. Continue Reading »

Winter’s wisdom

Cross-country skis await their navigator.

Cross-country skis await their navigator.

There is an old saying that youth is wasted on the young. And now that I’m in my 40s, I have a better understanding of this, probably because I’m not young anymore. And as Amy and Alex got the cross-country skis out following a recent snow, this old maxim came to mind because it reminded me of how I wasted my youth grumbling about winter. I’d stay inside where I was warm, yes. But bored, too. It was a predicament I put myself into but I was too thick to see this. I was too focused on being bitter. Thus, the old maxim about youth being wasted on the young. In my late 20s, there came a day when I’d had enough and I got up. I went to a nearby nature center and took to the woods on rented skis. I’ve never looked back. Being in the winter woods is sort of like getting 2 for the price of 1 because when you ski — or snowshoe — the same woods you hike in the summer, it’s a completely different woods and a completely different adventure. If you think you’ve heard silence before, try being in the woods during winter. It can be the loudest silence you’ll ever hear, but the most beautiful as well. We are blessed to have the room in our yard and nearby fields to ski without having to driving anywhere. And hopefully, Alex and Graciela will grow up learning to treasure being outside in the winter while they’re young and more able, and not waste their youth complaining about winter like I did. Continue Reading »

Season of surprise

Witnessing sunsets like this (snowfall added for effect) can make fruitless days seem not so bad.

Witnessing sunsets like this (snowfall added for effect) can make fruitless days seem not so bad.

It wasn’t a clear vision, it wasn’t an ideal situation and it wasn’t even close to being textbook. It was Dec. 1, and frustration was setting in, at least for me. Brother-in-law Dave had taken 1 deer already, felling a spikehorn on opening day of shotgun season. I had yet to take anything, although I had passed on a few during bow season and figured that karma had to be worth something. Yet here we were on Dec. 1, a cloudy Sunday afternoon, and doubts were weighing on me heavily. Dave and I were still-hunting this day and since I had to work that evening, we planned to stay out no later than mid-afternoon. We stalked the land as quietly as we could in 4 or 5 inches of snow, eyes peeled for movement and tracks. It was shortly after 1 p.m. that we reached a point where we figured it was another fruitless day afield and decided to head back to the Jeep. And then our day, and entire deer season, changed in a matter of seconds. Continue Reading »

Missing Grandma

Grandma comforts 1-month old Graciela in October, 2012. Or is it the other way around?

Grandma comforts 1-month old Graciela in October, 2012. Or is it the other way around?

It took only 4 days for our 2014 to take a turn none of us saw coming. It was early that Saturday morning when we got the news that Regina, Amy’s mother, had been taken to the hospital upon suffering a stroke. And 6 days later, on Jan. 10, we watched through tears and heavy hearts in a cold hospital room as Regina passed on. There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, but not one comes close to describing the sorrow, the sadness, the hurt and the pain we’ve gone through and continue to deal with. Grandpa lost a wife. Amy, David and Karen lost a mother. Becca, Alex and Graciela lost a grandmother. I lost a mother-in-law and plenty others lost a sister and friend. The bond that ties us all, however, is that we lost a woman who showed all of us the power and effect of a giving heart and warm smile. Continue Reading »

Christmas 2013

Graciela and Mom before  venturing into Rochester's Public Market, summer 2013.

Graciela and Mom before venturing into Rochester’s Public Market, summer 2013.

Amy and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage in May and if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that this past year has been like no other. We welcomed Graciela to our family in September of 2012, making 2013 one of the most memorable we’ve shared. Add to that the growth and maturity of Alex, and it’s been one busy year, yes, but also the most rewarding. Graciela and Alex have grown so much, both in their own ways. It wasn’t that long ago that Graciela couldn’t hold up her own head. Today, it’s all we can do to keep up with her as she gallops from room to room. It wasn’t that long ago that Alex came home with math homework that we could help with, if needed. Today, all those equations are a foreign language. Yet as distinct as we may be in our own ways, it’s all come together to forge a single foundation upon which our family will continue to grow. Continue Reading »

Empire apples 2013

Using an apple-picking basket on a 12-foot pole makes the job MUCH easier. And fun.

Using an apple-picking basket on a 12-foot pole makes the job MUCH easier. And fun.

We’ve so much to be thankful for, even if we are a month or so late when it comes to our apples. When we moved in 3 years ago, we knew the apple tree was there, and had been so for quite a while. Overgrown, bushy and busy, the tree yielded nothing the first 2 autumns and our neglect because of other priorities didn’t help. Late last winter, time finally was made to do some pruning and even though there is more work to do with this tree in the side yard, the harvest of 2013 was plentiful. A friend who knows apples let us know we had empire apples on this tree and with plenty of help in picking, peeling, taking out the cores and working the stove, we have a bountiful source of applesauce for quite a while. It never ceases to amaze us what is provided for us by nature. Right there in our yard, for the taking. It also never ceases to amaze us the amount of work it takes to bring in what grows around us and prepare it for use. And that amazement is sure to increase in coming years: We’ve since found 3 more overgrown and neglected apple trees on our property. Continue Reading »

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