Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Congratulations Dr. Spencer Young!

This past Sunday we celebrated the end of an era. I can personally vouch for the amount of work and dedication that has gone into Spencer's doctorate. It would have been a tremendous accomplishment even if it hadn't been one of several major projects he's had on his plate lately. I'm so proud of him!
The last time I was in Madison for graduation it was for Spencer's MA degree and we were still dating. It is amazing to think of everything that has changed since that time. Spencer and I married, moved to Milwaukee (requiring Spencer to commute to Madison--which he did without complaint) and welcomed Eliot into our family. So much has happened, and yet in those three short years Spencer produced a doctoral dissertation that drew gushing praise from his defense committee. Spencer has always been a good example to me of someone who seeks knowledge and looks for it everywhere. Whether he's deciphering a 13th century Latin text or reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Eliot, Spencer is always interested in learning something new.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Belly Laugh

Eliot has a great time with his dad. Spencer has taken to calling him "Yankee Bean" and is getting pretty good at eliciting a laugh (a task that is more difficult than you'd think, what with Eliot being so smiley and all).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is such a wonderfully relaxing holiday. Eliot supervised all of the preparations and kept busy sorting through his box of "tools" at Grandpa and Noni's.

That weekend Spencer and I took Eliot down to Indiana to attend a wedding reception for our friend Bryn Grisham (neƩ Goates) and her new husband Zac. Spencer and I were great friends with Bryn in Madison. Attending French conversation group with Bryn in the back room of a little coffee shop on State Street is one of my favorite Madison memories. We are so happy for her and Zac and seeing them was well worth the trip.

It was also good practice for next spring when Eliot and I plan on driving down to South Bend, IN on the weekends to visit Daddy who will be installed at Notre Dame as a visiting scholar.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Eliot's first Halloween was a blast. Our farm pumpkin made a nice Jack o' Lantern with one lower right tooth (just like Mr. Eliot--though today we found tooth #2). Eliot and I dressed up (though not exactly on Halloween). They say there's always some truth to a joke. Perhaps the same applies for costumes, 'cause you know I'd take a bullet for this boy.

We've been enjoying the Wisconsin fall. There have been some really beautiful days. The leaves are pretty much all on the ground now, but last week the whole city was a blaze of color. We've taken some nice walks and Eliot has loved watching the maple leaves outside his window at Grandpa and Noni's.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Eliot's first tooth has seen the light of day! It was discovered this morning as a small white line along his gum line. It's just visible in the photo above (one of about 20 attempts to capture it on film). If you run your finger along his gums you can feel its sharp, serrated surface. So all this grumpy, clingy, feverish, drooling, gnawing, chomping business has been for a legitimate reason after all. Congratulations to our little guy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bath time!

The girls at work threw me a baby shower--in some shadowy, previous life--and the question was posed, "What is Nora looking forward to most about caring for her baby?" Any or all of the offered suggestions could have made the cut, but the one I picked was bathing.

I have loved giving Eliot his baths ever since that first sponge bath back when his belly button consisted of a plastic clamp.
Graduating first to the kitchen sink, then to the bathtub, Eliot has grown to love them too. Now when I turn on the water to draw his bath his legs start pumping in anticipation and he reaches down toward the water.
Bubbles are a fascination, plastic cups and whiffle balls a delight, and that gurgling sound as the water drains, an unfathomable mystery...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

This past weekend Eliot and I drove out to the farm to find the perfect pumpkin for Eliot's first Halloween. Barthel's Fruit Farm features prominantly in my own childhood. When I was young (well, younger than I am now) my family and I would head out to Barthel's in the summer to pick fresh strawberries and snap peas. In the fall we picked apples and pumpkins. Trips to the farm were always followed with a flurry of culinary activities. Strawberry freezer jam, strawberry pie, applesauce and apple crisp were just some of the things we looked forward to.

When Eliot and I arrived at the pumpkin patch things looked a little less promising than we'd hoped. After trudging around in the mud, and picking my way around peices of smashed pumpkin, I had decided that we were going to have to return to the main barn to select a nice, clean specimen.

But just at the edge of the patch, we spotted it. Sitting upright with a nice, shiny round face and a gently curving stem (perfect for taking hold of), our pumpkin was waiting patiently for us. Eliot seemed pleased and we headed back to the barn where I sipped some warm spiced cider and Eliot supervised the apple sorting machine with rapt attention. We got some good pie apples (which we transformed into apple crisp later that evening) and counted the outing a great success.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Go Oilers!!

The Oilers' first game is on tonight, and in this household that means chips, salsa, and donut holes with a side of Spencer's running commentary.

Eliot is learning at an early age that if you want to be a part of this family you have to show a little team spirit. Eliot's got spirit in spades and the PJs and jersey help with the rest.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Weekend Visit

This past weekend we were all treated to a visit from Spencer's dad, and brother Hugo. We were sad that Diane couldn't join them but work wouldn't let her get away (I can certainly sympathize). It was a whirlwind visit that included a Brewers game, a trip to Madison and the purchase of a car. Though Eliot didn't make it to the baseball game, or to Madison, he did help pick out our new vehicle and revelled in all the attention from Grandpa and Uncle Hugo.

Eliot got in some wrestling with Uncle Hugo but he still has a lot to learn (i.e. it's unsportsmanlike to take hold of your opponent's face).

Grandpa and Uncle Hugo also helped out with the bedtime routine, which included a healthy helping of green bean puree and rice cereal followed by a reading of 'Goodnight Moon'.

Like any visit with family, it was over too soon and left us looking forward to December.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The wonderful thing about tiggers...

...is tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs. They're bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! The most wonderful thing about tiggers is that I'm the only one. Iiiiii'm the only one!

I can't help but think of this song from Winnie the Poo whenever I see Eliot in his Jolly Jumper. He just loves to jump, no matter where, no matter when.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jiminy Cricket!

Now that the semester has started Spencer spends Monday night at a friend's place in Madison so that we can save a bus ticket on Tuesday. Last Monday I drifted off to sleep listening to the sound of the crickets chirping outside. One little guy was particularly loud. The next day I got home from work and upon walking in the door was greeted with an enthusiastic CHIRP! It was then that I realized that the sound I'd heard last night had been coming from someplace inside the apartment. Feeling somewhat creeped out, I finally narrowed his location down to the bathroom, but search as I might I couldn't find the little guy. When Spencer came home he joined in the hunt, and discovered the intruder crouched behind the toilet. He snatched a piece of toilet paper and was poised to take action when I stopped him. I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was all those years listening to the "goodnight noises" when visiting my grandmother in rural Kansas, maybe it was that song about wishing on a star, or maybe the fact that the chirp had started to sound so plaintive and the little cricket looked so small, and helpless. But strangely (and I say 'strangely' because I detest any and all spiders 'Charlotte's Web' notwithstanding) I'd come to feel a sort of camaradarie with the little bug. So, I grabbed the strainer and a piece of card stock (I didn't feel enough camaraderie to actually touch him, mind you) and escorted our guest back out into his little world. Perhaps he promptly got gobbled up by someone a link or two up on the food chain. I'd like to think he made it safely home to Mrs. Cricket and all their little crickets, or at the very least rejoined his buddies in the football field behind our home and is singing blithely with them each evening.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This past Friday Spencer defended his doctoral dissertation. It was a brilliant triumph! I drove over to Madison after work to meet up with Spencer and he seemed blown away with the gushing response he had received from the defense committee. I was very pleased, but not surprised. I've come to expect great things from Spencer. I'm so proud of him! We celebrated that evening at a French restaurant in Madison which we thought was a good fit considering the topic of Spencer's studies. Jed (he of "Rough Stone Rolling" fame) and Shawna Woodworth joined us and we had a nice evening with great food and conversation.

We had an early morning the next day because we were volunteering at a diabetes conference here in Milwaukee where we worked the registration table. We have been looking for ways to serve in the community and this opportunity presented itself through my work at the hospital. It was great to get out and lend a hand. Plus, they had bagels.

Eliot had a busy weekend as well. On Friday he went to the zoo with Noni and Grandpa where he looked at all kinds of animals (he especially loved the fish) and got to ride on the train. He has also started to sit on his own. He has been practicing for the past few weeks and the other day was able to keep his balance without over-correcting. It eventually ended with a face plant into a blanket, but he's moving in the right direction. Sure do love that boy!

What a happy boy!