What we really use for our infant.

Right before my sister-in-law had her baby last week, I wrote her an email of things I wish I’d had with me at the hospital.  Namely, an outfit for me to come home in.  Whoops.  I had a friend do this for me too, and it was super helpful.  Still forgot that outfit, though.


I also let her know what has been most useful for us these past several weeks as we’ve transitioned from newborn to infant so she could go out and use her baby store gift certificates to stock up before baby came.

Here’s a list of our faves!

1. Muslin or Bamboo Swaddles – These things are great.  A wonderful invention (ahem, they are swaths of cloth).  They cost anywhere between $35 for four or $45 for three, making the person who thought of whipping up these little blankets and packaging them, a genius.  We used at least two a day in the first few weeks.  We full-swaddled [for the first day or so until little Houdini told us to cut it out] and then swaddled our boy under his arms in the blankets at night.  We use them over the car seat and stroller on warmer days when we need the sun off baby.  We now use them to wipe the drool that has started these past few days (early teething?)  The more you wash them, the softer they get!  We have ten of these blankets.  Can’t picture spending that much on these lightweight swaddles?  You can easily make your own (especially if you are still pregnant with your first child and have time to yourself).  Check out these instructions!

2. Baby washcloths and hooded towels - My girlfriend gave me a pack of six washcloths and a hooded towel when I was about 23 weeks pregnant.  I thought they were adorable.  Then we got another set for a gift.  Then we had the baby.  Now I get that they’re not just adorable.  I use the baby washcloths like they’re going out of style and have purchased more.  Every morning I use one cloth to wash and one to dry his face. Throughout the day I use them to wipe drool, dried skin and sleep from his eyes.  They are super useful and just the right size.  The towels are great because babies get cold and cranky when you take them out of the tub.  We snuggle our boy with a hooded towel right after he comes out of the bath and then bring him to our dining room table to dress and lotion him on another fluffy towel.

3. Baby tub that fits in the kitchen sink - We have two small bathrooms in our home and one doesn’t have a tub.  The sink is the best place for us to wash our babe because we don’t have to bend over and can easily stand next to each other and play while we wash.  We have this one.  We never used the sling attachment because B hated sponge baths with a passion (too cold!) so we skipped straight to the “newborn” side of this tub.  When baby can sit up on his own you may seat him on the other side of the tub, for infants and toddlers.

4. Sleepers – C and I had enough trouble changing a diaper that first week at home together (tag-teaming), so pulling a onesie over our baby’s head was just not going to happen.  B lived in sleepers for the first few weeks before I was brave enough to put him in actual clothes.  Once I started pulling clothes over his head I realized it was no big deal, but it was still much easier just to unzip the sleeper while I was getting used to changing diapers.  We had great luck with Carter’s Cotton Snap-Up Sleep & Play sleepers.

Welcome, baby!

Welcome, welcome, baby Walker Carl!

Isn’t it a fantastic name?

Our sister and brother-in-law, now known as mom and dad, are doing well.  They did an awesome job bringing little Walker into the world.

C and I are thrilled beyond belief that we get to play aunt and uncle to this beautiful little boy.

And Benjamin is the luckiest boy in Denver because he now has a sweet cousin.  It makes my heart swell that he’ll have a little playmate and confidant who lives just a few minutes away.



“‘Cause you got personality.”

That’s right, folks, B has personality!

It basically developed today after Daddy went to work.

We had a few visitors.  One was our friend Caroline.  Caroline is very pretty and very good at talking to babies.  B decided then and there he should insta-crush on her.  Sitting in Caroline’s lap, he gazed at her, mesmerized.  He could not stop smiling and gurgling. B is ALL ABOUT Caroline.  It is the most smile-y I’ve ever seen him!

Later this afternoon, we Skyped with my parents and he was absolutely thrilled.  He had loads of stories to tell them.  He babbled quite a bit and seemed to love listening to their voices and watching their faces.

Hello Nonnie!  Hello Poppa! You two are fabulous!  I’m excited to hang out this summer!  Me?  I’m well!  Slept a LOT of hours last night.  Did some tummy time while Mommy read “Everywhere Babies.”  Started sucking on my fists.  Graduated from muslin swaddles to sleep sacks this week.  You know…baby stuff.


Little Giraffe…for all!

Benjamin has received many lovely gifts from friends and family and friends of friends and family.  It’s been incredibly touching.  He is surrounded by so much love.

A gift we received a few weeks ago from friends of Chris’s mother was a Little Giraffe ‘Luxe Dot’ Blanket.  It is gorgeous.  It is soft and warm and the ribbon around it makes me want to go back to my childhood for a night or two.


All I could think of after I opened the gift and held it to my cheek was, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they made this for adults?

And then I went on their website and GUESS WHAT?  They do.

LuxeThrow_forgrownupsSave your pennies, people.  This blanket is amazing!

(And made in the United States!)

36 Weeks. Chunk-a-monk baby.

And here we go.  One week until I’m considered full term.  Of course, I want this little babe to cook as long as he or she needs — preferably the full 40 weeks.  I have a LOT to do until we welcome Baby Stroh.

Today I had an ultrasound because two weeks ago, my doctor thought I may be measuring a bit small.  Today, that is not the case.  Baby is already around 6 lbs. 3 oz.  The technician made sure to mention both of her kids weren’t even that big at birth.  Yikes!

It is unbelievable how much the baby’s profile looks like Chris.  I almost cried when I saw that nose and those squeezable, kissable cheeks!

Tomorrow, our crib arrives.  It’s feeling very close!

Friday evening update.

We are under contract for a house.  Again.  This time, the contract is even more messy than last time.  If you haven’t heard, buying a house in Denver right now is an absolute nightmare.  If you have a house in this town and you want to sell it, be prepared to make a mint.  Denver is pretty much on fire.

Nearly two weeks ago, we found a place we loved.  It’s charming.  It’s ranch-y.  It’s in a nice neighborhood – a great school district.

Unfortunately, the sellers of this particular ranch-y charming house needed 10 extra days to figure out some stuff with the house they plan on buying with the money we give them for their current house.  They asked that we go under contract but allow 10 days so they could to back out if their deal falls through.  This put our inspection on hold.  The 10-day contract ended on Wednesday.  The sellers’ agent called and now their 10- (er, 12-) day contact ends today.  It’s 8:00 p.m.  Still no answer.  Chris decided to go fishing rather than waiting around for our phone to ring.   I think that was a fine idea.  I guess the sellers have until 11:59 p.m. to let us know exactly whether or not they want to sell us their damn house.

Anyway, this whole time we’ve been under contract, I’ve been thinking about how much I love THIS neighborhood – our neighborhood.  The happy place I’ve lived for six years.  Why leave?  Why expand our square footage?  Who needs a yard when we have Cheesman Park?


Who needs a bigger kitchen when Chef Zorba’s is right down the street?

I took this photo and Instagram’d it yesterday on our way to eat at Chef’s.


Mmm.  Love it here.

Lewis Lent nightmare.

On Monday morning I was perusing the Albany Times Union, as I do a few times a week so I can catch up on what’s happening in my old neck of the woods.

This headline caught my attention and made my blood run cold.  Lewis Lent linked to the death of another child.  His name gives me shivers.


I was just about 10 years old when things started going a bit haywire in my rainbows-and-butterfly world.  Sara Anne Wood from Frankfort, New York, was missing.  This was after another child, Jimmy Bernardo, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, had gone missing and was found dead in upstate New York a few years before.

We basically lived right in between Franklin and Pittsfield.  And when kids went missing, it was big news.  While one child may have been a fluke, two children got people seriously concerned.  There was a standard school photo of Jimmy that flashed on the TV screen night after night and a photo of Sara Anne in her cheer-leading outfit in the newspaper, one pom-pom up in the air.  There was worry that these two events were connected.

I loved my after school freedom.  We had a trail behind our neighborhood that went over the Kill (Dutch for river) and my friends and I would routinely ride bikes back there and sit by the water and talk–spring, fall, winter…whenever.  We’d play in the woods in the evenings after getting off the bus and then walk to the gas station across from our neighborhood to buy penny candy.  Our bus route was mobbed with kids in the afternoons and early mornings–many with no parents home to send them off or pick them up–many with parents waiting on front porches.

When Sara Anne Wood went missing in 1993, it frightened my mother.  She told us later she was scared out of her mind for us and the other neighborhood kids.  Many a conversation with other stay-at-home moms in the neighborhood, after the bus was gone and a second cup of coffee was poured while dinner sat marinating, revolved around how to protect children.  What could they do besides lock us inside?

We noticed bits of my mom’s fear.  Normally, she wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at us walking the less than half mile from the bus stop home.  But after Sara Anne was missing, she’d be mysteriously “taking a walk” and happen to meet us at the stop as the bus came around the corner.  Other times, she’d be, “on her way to the market” and pick us up in the car from the stop.  Other moms from the neighborhood who had been trusting their kids to be latch-key were taking afternoons off from work so they could be home.  The neighborhood got…quiet.  Mom needed help with dinner.  Mom bought a movie we could watch as a family.  We were going out for pizza.  We were meeting Dad in Albany.

This lasted a while.  Days turned into months then years and Sara Anne wasn’t found.

To this day, my mother is convinced Lent was driving his truck around our block and up and down the streets of Kinderhook and Valatie, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to snatch a child.  More and more, I know she is right.

These rural pockets of life in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires and Northern New York are an ideal place to raise children to respect nature and nurture families.  But they are also the perfect place to be caught alone at dusk or even in broad daylight because there is an air of trust.  We have volunteer firefighters and Rotary clubs and charity pancake dinners when families fall on hard times.  We are all neighbors.  The same people have lived for generations on their family land.  Back doors are left unlocked and car keys remain in the ignition.

Lent was caught a few years after Sara Anne Wood vanished.  A little girl my age, Rebecca Savarese, was walking to her middle school in Pittsfield when Lent tried to lure her into his vehicle.  A quick thinker, as the story goes, she feigned being hurt and then wriggled out of her backpack, grabbed by Lent, and ran to seek help.  She had a good description of the truck and he was caught, with her backpack in the cab.

Lent admitted to Jimmy Bernardo’s torture and murder as well as the killing of Sara Anne Wood.  Authorities are absolutely convinced he’s responsible for many more missing children than he’s admitted and believe he had accomplices.

Sara Anne Wood’s body was never recovered, though Lent did lead police to a desolate area of the Adirondack park years ago.  He had them dig in the woods in freezing cold weather for weeks before he told them it was all a prank and that he’d never tell them where her body was.  Lent will never leave jail and is already serving a life sentence.  He keeps himself in the news every few years by making a statement like he made Monday.  He admitted to killing then 16-year-old James Lusher in 1992 and told investigators his body was dumped in a pond in Becket, Massachusetts.  Now, dive team police in two states are searching the pond for any remains.

I often wonder how Chris and I will parent when it comes to looking out for our children’s safety.  Chris grew up differently than I did – as a latch-key child of a single mother who was working full time.  He often talks of running with a gang of neighborhood kids after school, causing a ruckus in the blocks surrounding his house, all harmless fun.  But he also talks about sometimes being scared after school, alone in the house before his mom came home when it was dark outside.  We want our children to have the freedom of unlocked doors and friendly neighbors.  We don’t want them to be unnecessarily frightened.  But what is the best medium?  Where can we strike it in the middle – a healthy fear followed up by the notion that most people are good and kind?

Desert love. [the second of two road trips two days apart]

Hello again, Granny Stroh!

There was some uncertainty around Granny visiting Denver for July 4th.  She was going to come up, then she wasn’t.  And when she ended up getting a cortisone shot in her ankle and canceling her trip, C and I said to each other, “To the car!!!  Let’s drive to Green Valley.”

Here’s the thing.  Chris made the trip from Denver to Green Valley a million times as a kid.  Sometimes,  a few times a summer.  He’s very familiar with the way the road twists and what to find in Hatch, New Mexico (green chilis on everything – of course).  So, Chris doesn’t think this trip is too bad.  Drive 1,000 miles?  No biggie!

We left after work on Wednesday and arrived in Santa Fe five hours later.  Luckily, we have wonderful friends, Greg and Alice, who live there with their two little boys.  We had a great time hanging with them for an hour before midnight and another hour in the morning over eggs and bacon.  Wonderful, perfect hosts.  We’re excited to see them again when they come up to Colorado in August.

Our first stop on our way to Arizona after Santa Fe was Hatch.  We stopped at a fantastic place, The Valley Cafe, for green chilis.  Delish!

A few more stops on the way, including a pull off the highway to see The Thing – an Arizona roadside attraction that’s preceded in both directions with loads of billboards and signs.  ”The Thing – what is it?” “The Thing – Mystery of the Desert”  ”$1 to see The Thing.”

So of course, we had to check it out.  Chris had seen it before, but not in years.  The last time Chris saw The Thing it only cost 75 cents admission.

I won’t tell you what The Thing is, but I will tell you it’s worth a dollar.  Especially for the mystery and leg stretch.  You’ll have a lot to talk about with your road trip buddies after you see it.

We made it into Green Valley right after Granny finished playing bridge with her friends in the afternoon.

On Friday morning we went to Madera Canyon for a hike that ended up not being much of a hike at all.  It was blazing hot.  We spent more time observing a skink eat a small egg than actually walking the trail.

The rest of our days in Green Valley were relaxing and quiet.  We all told stories and read and ate and ran errands.  We went down to Tubac to look at pottery and Mexican imports for inspiration.  It was lovely to hang with Granny!

The trip home was long and hot and I was wishing very much Chris could drop me off in Albuquerque so I could get on a plane and fly up to Denver to avoid the last six hours in the car.

Some shots on our way out of the desert…

IMG_2529 AZ2

Black Forest fire hits Denver.

With a shift of winds, a shift in vision.

Around lunchtime I took a walk with Kevin in the park and it was gorgeous.  Bright sunshine and lovely clouds.

Just four hours later the air in Cheesman Park was thick with smoke and haze that burned eyes and parched throats.  The sun was barely visible.


Down south, evacuations started early and people are leaving 12,000 acres worth of forest and ranch and neighborhood.

It’s often nerve-wracking for me, this dry land.

This evening made me long for the cool waters and clear breezes of Queechy–where tomorrow, they’re expecting rain through the weekend.

Clouds and sky and warm.

DenverSunset6.8.13It was one of those weekends in Denver that went by with very little to cross off on the calendar.  We were so happy for that.

The weather was beautiful and the days were long.  Together and separately we ran a few errands, rode cruisers and took Belle for walks and runs in the park.  We went out for dinner on Saturday and made dinner last night. We got nothing and everything accomplished.  We did NOT look at real estate.

Lots of naps and downtime.  Lots time outside in the glorious sun.