Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bobby's first words

It's official: Bobby says his first word.  Okay, it's not exactly official, I mean there hasn't been a ceremony or anything, but he does.

He's been doing a lot of babbling for a while -- ma-ma, da-da, bob-bob.  For a bit I thought he associated some meaning with "mama" because when I left the room he would whine it over and over, "ma ma ma ma."  Now I'm quite sure I was reading too much into that.  But he really does seem to know "dada" or "dad-dad" -- he says it sometimes when Ben comes home after work.

There's one word we're sure about, however: ball.  He says it over and over again when we play ball with him.  Sometimes it takes him a few tries to get it out and he sort-of stutters: "b-b-ba-ball."

He seems to be very interested in learning to talk.  When I show him an object or emphasize a word, he studies my mouth like he's trying to memorize what I'm saying.  His little sponge brain is just soaking everything up... Can't wait to hear what this little guy has to say.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What happened to the good old days of tv?

Ben and I watched an episode of Dragnet on Netflix play instantly today.  Two of my favorite lines from the show:

"Let's have it.  No Mickey Mousin' around."

"Try to put that walnut-sized brain of yours to work on this: You keep harping about minorities, well, mister, you're a psycho, and they're a minority too."

Gloucester and Ravenswood Park

Inspired by my latest read, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trial, by Bill Bryson, I decided to take Bobby for a hike on Thursday.  I dusted off my handy-dandy 1975 edition of Fifty Hikes in Massachusetts, which I obtained for next to nothing at a library book sale, and searched for something nearby.  I settled on Ravenswood Park in Magnolia.  "In 1889 the 300 acres of wooded land, rocky knolls, and swamp making up Ravenswood Park were given by Samuel E. Sawyer 'for the benefit of all who want to walk and enjoy the woods.'"  The trail was to be located at the far end of the parking lot of the Magnolia Chapel, located on Route 127 between Manchester by the Sea and Gloucester.  I couldn't recall such a chapel, but decided to go for it anyway.

The weather was perfect for a ride in the Jeep, and 127 from Beverly to Gloucester is the perfect road for driving.  However, I didn't see any chapel in the area where the trail head should be.  As I crossed the town line into Gloucester I thought about the fact that 1975, the year my trail guide was published, was a good 35 years ago, and chances are a wee bit's changed since then.  I don't make it to Gloucester very often, so while I was out that far I pulled over for a stop at the Fisherman's Memorial and took Bob for a little stroll.  Here are the pics:

On my way back down Route 127 I wasn't looking for a chapel.  I had passed earlier a green sign that said "Cape Ann Discovery Center" and figured that would be the place.  When I neared it I saw a Trustees of Reservations sign for Ravenswood Park.  We had found the parking lot for the trail.  I was feeling quite accomplished already.

We don't own one of those fancy hiking backpack baby carriers.  I opted to carry Bob in the Moby Wrap, even though I knew it would be hot, because it's so much easier on the back and shoulders than the Jeep carrier we have.  I put some supplies in a backpack and situated Bob facing forward on my front.  I was carrying, I don't know, 30-35 pounds maybe.

I consulted the large map at the start of the trail.  I compared it to the little map in my book and noted some similarities but also quite a few differences.  For one thing, the reservation has doubled in size since my book was printed, now containing 600 acres and 10 miles of trails.  But I figured I couldn't get lost in a place like this, so we started on our way.

I opted to try out Ledge Hill Trial because although it had a different name I was quite sure this was the trail my book recommended.  I still had quite a bit of energy when we reached the first landmark, which was supposed to be a pond but was completely dry:

Not too long after that, though, I needed a rest.  We stopped at this cool rock for a quick photo shoot:

Note my sweaty red face and the vein bulging from my forehead:

Without too much trouble we made it to what I assume was Ledge Hill.

We rested on a bench up there and had a little snack:

At this point I was quite sure I knew where we were on the map.  I tried to figure out what to keep an eye out for next and which way to turn, and we pressed on down the other side of the hill.  The way up was tiring, but the way down was worse: steep and rocky and no clear trail for a while.  I imagined myself spraining an ankle and having to hike all the way back in agonizing pain with my giant baby making it nearly impossible.  At the bottom of the hill I came to another trail, but the junction didn't look like the one in my book.  Darn.  I took a guess and turned left.  Soon I was at another fork I didn't recognize, and none of these trails were marked, so reluctantly I turned back, hiked all the way back up the steep hill, and rejoined the Ledge Hill Trail.  By this point I was absolutely pooped and considered going back to the parking lot the same way I had come, but I really didn't know what would be faster and didn't want to be lame, so I continued on the opposite way.  I walked and walked.  Bob was getting restless and whiny in the Moby.  I was sweaty and tired and thirsty with very little water left and I had no idea where I was or how far I was from my car.  I started praying.  Finally I stopped to give Bob and myself a rest and to turn him around so he faced in rather than out.  I started again.  I sang as I walked to keep Bobby calm, even though I was so winded I could barely breathe never mind keep a tune.  Before too long he fell asleep and the walking got a little easier with him being still.  And then, at last, I came across the wide path I had started on, and I was well-enough oriented to be pretty sure I needed to turn left.  I still had no idea how far I was from the end of my trek, but the walk was flat from here and I knew I could make it.   I even managed to sneak my camera from my bag and snap a couple of photos with Bob asleep on my chest.

When I turned a corner and at last saw the parking lot up ahead, I almost started running toward it, except I had no energy to do so.  But in any case, we survived.  Even though I was on the verge of dying from thirst, I can't drive 127 in Manchester and not take the Ocean Ave loop, so we took this little detour on our way home.  Such a gorgeous spot:

What did I learn from my adventure?  1. Hiking guides that are 30+ years old are discarded by the library for a reason.  2. Ravenswood Park is a lovely place to enjoy the Cape Ann woods.  3. I think I'm going to need to invest in a baby carrier that's actually designed for hiking before I try that again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

How to post bigger pictures on your blog

In order to post pictures on your blog in the extra-large size like mine, you simply need to make your blog wider.  Here's how you do it with Blogger:

1) Decide how much wider you want your blog to be.  Right now my blog is 1050 pixels wide; I think the default was somewhere around 700.

2) Increase the width of the area that contains your blog posts:
  • Go to Design, then click "Edit HTML"
  • Do a Find using your browser (press Ctrl-F or Command-F) to locate the CSS section called #main-wrapper
  • Increase its width property by whatever value you desire. Mine is set at 680 which perfectly accommodates the "extra-large" photo size.
#main-wrapper {
width: 680px;
float: $startSide;

3) Increase the width of the other wrappers to accommodate the expanded main wrapper:
  • Locate the CSS sections called #outer-wrapper#header-wrapper#header .description and #footer
  • Increase their width properties by the same number of pixels you added to main-wrapper.
#outer-wrapper {
width: 1050px;
margin: 0 auto;

#header-wrapper {
width: 1050px;
margin: 0 auto 10px;

#header .description {
margin:0 5px 5px;
padding:0 20px 15px;

#footer {
width: 1050px;
clear: both;
margin: 0 auto;

Weekend in the Berkshires

Last weekend we went out to the Berkshires, where I was born and raised and in a way still consider home.  I always like to brag about how I'm from "the Berkshires" home of Mt. Greylock and Moby Dick and many other wonders.  Of all the ways to express where I'm from -- Pittsfield, the Pitts, western Mass, Massachusetts -- the Berkshires is definitely the best.  On this occasion we were there to celebrate my niece Chloe's tenth birthday.  Hold on a second... how is that possible!?  This is the size she is supposed to be:

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Chloe's 5th birthday (half her life ago!):

Chloe and Mason

Jakes checking out the garden with Little Gram and Big Gram

Chloe posing it up with Laura and Courtney

Mason loving himself an ice cream bar

I'm like an old lady when I look at these pictures, saying to myself, "oh, how quickly they grow."  So before I get weepy thinking about my own baby boy becoming a kid, I'm taking us back to 2010, last weekend. On Saturday Ben and I snuck up to Jiminy Peak to ride the alpine slide and the mountain coaster during one of Bob's naps (more on that mountain coaster to come).  It was great to have a quick little date, just the two of us, especially because we did something so FUN.

We spent the majority of our time just hanging around at Gram's in Lanesboro.  It is so beautiful at Gram's house in the summer; such a perfect slice of the world.  I still remember how I felt playing here as a child; the grass, the ferns, the trees, the woods -- they were all magic.  This place will always hold the most special spot in my heart.

Look, Bobby's finally getting a little length to the hair on the back of his head:

Saturday night was the craziest lightning storm I have ever seen in my life.  The sky lit up with flash after flash for hours.  I was so excited; it reminded me of when I was a kid and how I'd hope the lights would go out in every storm so that we'd have to bring out the candles and flashlights.  Didn't happen this time, but didn't matter.  One report said there were an average of 150 lightning bolts per minute.  It was incredible.  I'm quite sure that everyone who saw it feels exactly like I do.

Then Sunday was another gorgeous day, and I got to spend it with my family.  

My little brother James with his daughter Bailey:

Bobby and Bailey enjoying their picnic lunches:

Bobby and his three cousins: Mason, Chloe, Bailey.

(Looks like Mason could use a few more ice cream bars these days.)

Ben and I had so much fun at Jiminy Peak that we decided to take Chloe and Mason the next day as a treat for Chloe's birthday.  James, Bailey, and Crystal came along, too.  (Bob napped.)

The mountain coaster was awesome.  I've always loved the alpine slide, but honestly that's a snooze compared to this.  A private roller coaster speeding over 25 mph down a mountain -- what could be better?  It was a real rush.  Here's Chloe and me going up:

Ben and Mason coming down:

Then Chloe went alone and Mason rode with James (who had to wear my extra shirt because he didn't bring one. Don't ask me why.)

The kids loved the mountain coaster as much as I did.  And Crystal loved it too:

And Ben and I rode together so that we could be romantic and I could take a video, which I can't for the life of me figure out an easy way to upload.  All of us together, courtesy of a blue metal folding chair (look at that blue sky!):

Back at Gram's, I let Mason use my camera for a little bit.  I am totally impressed by some of the photos he took:

(Mason probably loves my Jeep more than anyone else does except me.)

Here he is, so grown up, with a sock on one foot to cover his stitches.  

Chloe is ten, and I am tired.  Goodnight.
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