Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oma and Opa come to town

They stayed for about 6 days. They arrived on Monday, Dec 10 and departed (too soon!) 6 days later, on Sunday afternoon. While here they celebrated Xmas with us, Noah and Opa's
b-days, and participated in the last two days of Chanukah (which we celebrated this year with our friends). We didn't really go anywhere--the weather was great, so we just spent time around the homefront, piddling around the yard, playing with the kids, snuggling Eden, putting puzzles together, etc...
We did go to our friend Miriam's for an amazing Friday night dinner, and on Opa's b-day night we went to a local cafe and had soups and salads, and Opa had a big slice of triple-chocolate cheesecake (which he shared with us!) We thought we might go visit the Ocean while they were here--take a walk on the beach-- but on the day we thought we'd go, it ended up getting cold. The only place they did venture out to was wal-mart a hour away--they took both kiddos so they could pick out Xmas gifts. Noah picked out a big ol' semi truck packed with hot-wheels type cars, and Ami picked out these "pretty pony" toys. It was great to have Oma and Opa here--we hope they can come back soon!

He's TWO! Noah update...

Noah turned TWO on December 12. We had a small low-key party for him--basically our best friend's came over with thier kids and we all had chocolate cake and lemonade. Oma and Opa were here too, and because it was Opa's birthday on Dec 11, we celebrated his birthday too. Oma and Opa gave Noah a Geotrax train set, and from us he recieved an accessory add-on for the train. He loves that train, sets it up by himself and uses the remote control to make it go.

Noah is talking a lot now, and is really good-natured and funny. He's just all out, all the time--very happy. He's also HUGE!--wearing size 3T clothes and can almost fit into Ami's shoes. Oh, yes, shoes...he loves his boots...that's one of his favorite things--clomping around the house in them. Now that Ami has recieved cowboy boots for Xmas, he is always trying to get into those too. He loves his sisters--always trying to get Ami to dance with him--even if there is no music on--and kisses Eden on the forehead, saying "I love Eden" and "Hi baby Eden!" He is just the coolest little boy on the planet. I hope he stays two for a while....

Been a while! Eden update...

We've been away from the computer for some time because we have had a lot going on here--caring for a newborn baby...birthdays for Chris, Noah and Opa Esposito...a week-long visit from Oma and Opa (G & G Esposito), schooling Ami, holidays.....So! Time to update everyone....

Eden is growing up fast--6.5 weeks now. She is probably 10 lbs or so? She had a pretty bad skin rash on her face (normal for newborns), but we have been treating it and it has gone away. She sleeps a lot still, sleeps well at night, even during that invariable window between 4 and 6 AM when she grunts and squirms and grunts and grunts and grunts again and again and again --UGH!--it keeps me awake....She is settling into a routine now, which makes life easier--oh! and she has started smiling a bit. Lucky Oma & Opa were here to see her first smiles.
Now, who does she look like?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More kid pictures


Another blurry pic with eyes open.

Noah having a blast in the bath.
Chris was pouring water on him
with a bucket from above.

Just like daddy?

What a little goober.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eden River has Arrived

Birthday: November 11, 2007 at 1:48 PM

Weight: 7 lb, 6.5 oz

Length: 20 inches

So far, she's a great eater, sleeps a lot (almost all the time!).

She rarely opens her eyes. This pic is a bit blurry/fuzzy, but it's the best I can do right now since she is always dozing....So who do you think she looks like? I don't think she looks like either Amelie or Noah, and not sure how much she looks like either of her parents either?

Proud big sister. Amelie's been very helpful. When there's no more to do, she asks what can she do next? Noah is interested and curious about her, but he has a cold now, and is such a bulldozer that we can only let him touch her with one finger haha. But that's all her really wants to do anyway. So far, life for Noah hasn't changed at all, there just happens to be a baby in the house to comment on every now and then.

Brief birth story:
Water broke at 3:30 am, left for hospital at 4:30 am. A friend came to stay with Ami and Noah so they didn't have to be woken up. Arrived at hospital at 5:30 am. No real contractions until about 10:30 am, but still just moderate--no big deal. So, basically, labor didn't really start until about 11:00 am and she was born at 1:48 pm, so only about 2 hrs 45 min hard labor, which was really intense, but I did it, and now it's done and that's that! She's here, and she's healthy, and perfect, and Life...Goes....On!

Her name:
Eden -- as in Garden of peace, pleasure, tranquility, perfection)...
River -- as in "go with the flow," find your path of least resistance, and cut through rock when you need to....

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Amelie has begun school at home this year. Homeschooling is something we are thinking about for the long term, so we decided we would give home-kindergarten a whirl and see how it goes for us. All of Amelie's friends are homeschooled so it's not something that is foreign to her. She is entirely comfortable with it because she spends a lot of time at her HS'ed friend's houses and sees them learning and doing activities all day long. She knows what to expect. So, all along we have been learning just through curiosity and play, but this past week, with the beginning of the official "school year" we have begun a few extra activities.

Everyday we are sure to do a reading and writing project, something in math, and a spanish exercise, all which involve a coloring project or other activity of some sort. She also gets to help direct where the lessons go, based on whatever interests she has, for example this week she is interested in maps, so we will do a map exercise, and she is really good at building things and creating things in complete symmetry, so she is learning about that (since she does it without realizing it--she's gonna be a math whiz this one, little miss patterned organization). She is REALLY enjoying her spanish lessons--and so am I. I hope we eventually can start speaking it together.

I rearranged the kitchen a bit so the kids can get creative any time, on thier level with a kid size school table and chairs. They can pick up thier crayon or colored pencils and get to work whenever the mood strikes. Noah is getting the hang of coloring "only on paper!" and Amelie is drawing drawing drawing up a storm. Tomorrow we will be doing a migration study with monarch butterflies. We will go on a caterpillar and cocoon hunt, then color paper butterflies to send via airmail to Mexican school children (the mexican children will recieve thier paper butterflies when the real monarchs begin arriving back in Mexico, to overwinter in the forests there, in early November). In the spring, Ami and the rest of her HS friends will recieve a butterfly and special messages back from the Mexican children (en Espanol!) Anyway, we are having fun, I hope we continue to enjoy it and have it work for us because the schools around here are terrible, and HSing fits in line with our sort of "anti-establishment" (I guess that's what you might call it?)--I hate for us to be held down by the scheduling of an "institution" and the "lowest common denominator" in the classroom, but we'll see how it goes, as I said. I am not against public school, just not sure about our schools here, and not willing to decide yet as I haven't seen if HSing can work for us or not, yet. Time will tell. Don't worry, Amelie is involved with the homeschooling group, playgroup, 4-H, Brownies, dance class, future pottery and music classes, library activites, state park and refuge activities, T-ball and whatever else comes along. Plenty of opportunity to socialize. Plus, she'll be able to visit relatives on our whirlwind roadtrip during almost the entire month of September into October because we can take our lessons with us. And she will be home to spend time and help with her baby sister, due in November. I'd hate for her to miss that, and so would she.

Backyard "Camping"

Ami and her friend Clarissa played "camping" together in the yard yesterday. They are quite creative together. I hate to see Ami inside staring at the TV so I am always telling her to go outside and "get some fresh air." Whenever she's outside she always comes up with something fun to do like pretend "fishing" with bunchgrass stems and weeping willow branches, hunting for frogs, toads and lizards, and playing "store" or "house" or "camping" with her friends.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My Pet Rock

Ami and Noah and Chris spent a good part of the day today painting rocks that we gathered on the shores of Lake Erie. Lots of good flat skipping stones on the beaches there.
Chris and Ami painted Monarch butterflies, bumblebees and ladybugs.
Noah got messy as usual. I guess part of the fun is painting yourself?

Turtle Watch

A few nights ago we went on a baby turtle watch adventure. Our friend Kathy is a regular volunteer who watches for sea turtle nests hatching during the night hours. The turtles are Loggerheads, and the beach is at Pea Island NWR. Purpose? To make sure no predators devour the babies before they can reach the shoreline (ghost crabs mostly).

So we got there at sundown and Ami helped unroll the green plastic barrier which keeps the turtles on a straight run to the ocean while keeping the crabs out. The turtles follow the moonlight to the sea.

The kids had a great time running around the beach until late at night when a thunderstorm and lightning eventually sent us back to our vehicles. We released 4 turtles that had been kept in captivity during that day because they hatched in the early morning (when the gulls are out looking for a snack). The nest we were monitoring started to hatch, but not until after we left.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Camping at Erie, PA

Here are some pics from our camping trip to Erie, PA. Alisa was invited to speak at a purple martin conference there, which is why we went--otherwise I can't imagine we would have picked this place to visit. Erie is a pretty ordinary town, but right at the downtown waterfront is a gorgeous little oasis of a state park--Presque Isle--a penisula jutting out of the urban zone into Lake Erie, with miles of beaches, hiking trails, picnic spots and a few playgrounds. Lots of purple martins too (we saw another roost). So, Gramma and Grandpa E met us there, driving 9 hrs from Chicago, they stayed in a hotel. We stayed 20 miles north at a quiet private campground on the shores of the lake. It was great swimming in a northern lake again, felt familiar since growing up on fresh water--a lot different from the ocean and the sound here in NC. Everyday we would wake up, get organized, eat breakfast and head out to meet the grandparents, we'd stay out all day and drive back to camp at about 9 or 10 and just fall into bed. We had one campfire while we were there, on our very last night, and we ate out every night, so we never cooked on an open fire. But it was nice sleeping in the outdoors--weather was cool and good for snoozing. So, one day we went to the Erie Zoo (very nice!), next day the state park for swimming, sandcastles and a purple martin picnic/roost viewing, 3rd day Alisa gave her talk while Ami and G&G E went to the children's museum (she loved it). The day we left the campground it was pouring down rain and we had to disassemble the campsite in the downpour (luckily we could do most of it under cover of a roofed picnic area. Driving home the entire state of PA all the way into MD was blanketed in stormclouds as we trudged along through 400 miles of rain rain rain. But we made it. Ami said it was "good to be home."

Ami on the shores of Lake Erie.

Noah doing one of his favorite things of late: tree hugging....

G&G E building sandcastles with Ami.

Chris and Noah cracking the whip.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Purple Martins Majesty" newspaper article

We had a couple of reporters out recently to show them the roost--they ran a great article on it. Here's a link:

Hugs! We're goin' on a trip.....

We are headed to Pennsylvania for a week. Going camping on the shores of Lake Erie. Hopefully right on the sandy beach. Grandpa and Grandma Esposito are meeting us there. They'll be staying at a nearby hotel. We will be going to Presque Isle State Park, hiking, swimming in the lake. Also, maybe a waterpark for the kids, and check out a bit of Amish country perhaps? We'll see how it goes. Alisa is going to be speaking at a Purple Martin conference at an environmental center there; we will be watching martins fly in to thier roost at the state park, and probably attending a purple martin festival. So, we'll be back with pictures! I'll post em here when we return.

Monday, August 6, 2007

House and Butterfly Garden

Here is our house, and you can see the martin houses that are in the side yard near the pond. The martins are all gone--just a few visitors lately. The pond is really low now--we need more rain! Each year Chris plants a butterfly garden, including lots of milkweed, butterfly bushes, zinnias and cleome.

I love the banana trees he grows. Fools me into thinking I am living in Costa Rica or somewhere more interesting!

Here is the focus of all the planting and hard work. Lots and lots of monarch butterflies. The milkweed plants are huge and there are a ton on them all around the property and they get munched down to the roots. See the giant caterpillar on the milkweed to the right? And that butterfly to the left has just emerged from it's chyrsalis and is getting ready for flight. Last year we had hundreds of coccoons all around the place, and they got a late start. This year they are here early, so we should have a banner year. Amelie loves running around counting them and showing her friends all the worms and butterflies.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Noah Stats

Taken from on online message board:

Baby's name: Noah Shenton
Baby's age: 19 months
Baby's weight and height: I don't know his height! He is in 95th %ile though. And he weighs 30 lbs.
What size clothes, shoes, diapers does your baby wear? Size 2-3T, size 7 shoe, medium fuzzibunz cloth, and size 5 disposible.
Are you starting to think about potty training yet? Thinking, yes. Doing, no. He is showing signs of readiness to learn, but not to the point I think he'd be quickly successful now.
How many teeth does your baby have? 8 completely in, and 4 molars poking through. OUCH!
What is your baby's favorite food? Bread, milk, eggs (eggies--his word, not mine), watermelon and cantelope. He gets his bread and milk as treats after he eats his proteins and greens. Oh cookies are a favorite too (kee-koo? kee-coo? yeah? yeah? kee-koo?)
How is your baby sleeping? How many naps? He sleeps 12 hrs at night and takes a 3 hr naps everyday. It is awesome!
Does your baby have a lovey? Not really. He likes to sleep with a stuffed animal, though he is not picky about which one. Typically we choose his Charlie Brown, Gonzo, and Snoopy.
What's the newest thing your baby is doing?
Going to the refrigerator, getting out the gallon of milk and handing it to me so I'll fill his sippy cup. He is too smart. Also taking off his diaper and running away. And he has a shoe-fetish. Always with the shoes--on and off and on and off!
Is your baby talking yet?
He says Ami, ball, no, this, out, Elmo, light, shoe, oh no, all gone, balloon, doggie, kitty, nay (horse), baa (sheep), moo (cow) and many many others. He says "I love you," "dada car all gone," "oh no ball all gone," etc...
What is your baby's favorite toy?
He is nuts about anything with wheels. Trucks, wagons, baby carraiges, whatever. He points out cars like he sees each one with fresh eyes. Like its a miracle of existence. Laow! Laow! (hasn't mastered his C or R sounds yet, but dang it--thats a car! WOW!)
What is your baby's favorite summer activity?
Running in the sand on the beach and splashing in the water. Thankfully eating chicken poop has faded into memory....
Are you thinking about another baby yet?
She'll be here in about 3.5 months.

Boat Trip: Purple Martin Madness

So taking care of purple martins is a big part of what we do here on Rabbit Run Lane. This year we had 105 pairs nest with us, and they produced about 525 eggs, of which 490 hatched, of which 475 baby birds fledged. We had quite a season this year, and Ami and her friends helped out quite a bit, checking nests, counting eggs and holding nestlings.

When the birds leave our yard it becomes quite silent, but we make up for it by visiting our nearby bridge roost, which consists of 100,000 martins from the coastal plain area, including our own. The sound of the birds coming in the roost over water is deafening. Recently we took a sunset boat trip where Amelie and Noah first experienced those 100,000 birds in flight all around them.

Noah knows what martins are, when they are flying overhead he points to the martins and "flaps his wings." Amelie was pointing out all the nice motorists who were obeying the new speed limit, and driving slowly on the bridge to avoid hitting and killing the birds. So now she understands what her mom is doing when I have to leave home to go "save the martins!"

Painting the Playhouse

Chris, being the handy-man, super-dad that he is, created this area in our backyard which includes a swingset, awesome ropeswing, huge sandbox and playhouse. The kids and thier friends have a great time out there. The playhouse had been sitting in plain wood and looking rather boring for a while, so Chris and Ami livened it up together with painted flowers, vines, clouds and a sun. It's a work in progress....

A Handful of Chickens

Recently we added about 25 new chickens to our flock (Eqyptians, Italian Anconas, Spanish white-faced, blue egg-laying Arucaunas and chocolate egg-layers called cuckoo marans). They arrived by mail just a few days old, and the latest pastime here is chasing them around thier pen and snuggling with them.

Here is Noey with his favorite chick, whom he calls "Who-who," because this bird has a beak malformation that makes him look like an owl or a falcon.

And here is Ami with her favorite new rooster, Danny. We adopted him from a family who loved him dearly but feared for his mental health because he only had 2 females to keep him "company." He is very tame and loveable, but also a bit feisty with his hackles and spurs raised when Ami reaches out to pick him up. He is a partridge bantam so he's very tiny, and couldn't hurt a flea even if he tried (although he doesn't seem to know that).