25 February 2009

Scenes From Daycare

Anders has been in daycare for a couple of months now and it has been working out extremely well. We love Zak, his parents and extended family. And of course, they all really enjoy our cute little Anders Rocket. Zak's grandfather stops by often to read stories. Zak's cousin Daniel, 7 years old, is frequently at the house playing. Zak's grandmother is nearby with veteran mom advice. Zak's dad Darrell is an expert laugher and cracks up Anders. And of course Zak's mom Debbie does all the hard work of giving Anders his daily dose of love while we're at work.

Some cute anecdotes:

  • One day Anders demonstrated a new skill and Zak said, "Mom! He's growing up! He's growing up RIGHT NOW!"
  • Another day when we came to pick up Anders, Zak was serving his mother and grandmother raisin sandwiches (slice of bread, folded in half; two raisins in the middle).
  • Debbie noticed that Zak was acting strange when we would come to pick up Anders. After talking with Zak about it, she determined that he doesn't like it when we take Anders home. Zak said, "Mom, can Anders just spend the night?"
  • When Zak wants to tell me something, he says, "Hey Anders's Mom...". I still don't answer well to that. Am I really someone's Mom?

Debbie has great ideas for new ways to interact with and stimulate Anders. Near the end of January, Anders decided that he really prefers to sit or stand even though he isn't capable of doing either himself yet. So, Debbie put a pillow in the bottom of a laundry basket and then draped it with a quilt. Voila - Anders's own sitting area. But then of course, Zak needed one too. Here they are playing in their "ships" (aka laundry baskets).

We feel very lucky. We're comfortable dropping him off in the morning because it's a pleasant place to be, and we can see that everyone enjoys the time together!

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

23 February 2009

Huge Herd of Elk

On our way home from work, we ran across a huge herd of elk in a field about a mile from home. We estimate that the herd may have been as large as ~80!

Thankfully, none of these elk found it necessary to knock down our fence.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

20 February 2009

5 Months Old

Rocket has turned 5 months old!

On the day of his 5-month birthday, all three of us attended Insitu's Holiday Party (rescheduled for February due to December winter weather). Anders was not a big fan of the party. He found the band to be too loud. And he didn't like all the new people admiring him, squeezing his cheeks, and wiggling their fingers in his face. Everyone was so excited to see him but it was all just a bit too much. (And it certainly didn't help that I had to wake him from a nap to leave for the party.)

Our friend Eric captured some nice candid photos from the party.

Insitu did a nice job making sure that there were activities for the kids, but of course he's still too young to appreciate any of that. One fun aspect of the party was that they also had a professional photographer on hand taking portraits.

Ever since Draper's holiday party was rescheduled for February due to a similar weather situation back in 2004, we've been lobbying for the company party to be moved to February every year! There's already enough happening in December.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

14 February 2009

Donna Visits

For some reason we've been getting quite a few more visits from family recently... ;) A few days after our return from Boston, Donna came down for the weekend for some "quality Anders-time."

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

05 February 2009

Recruiting in Boston

Corinne and I lived in Boston for quite a long time - 12 and 14 years, respectively. Since we've moved West, somehow we've still managed to make it back for a visit more often than we would have thought. This is our fourth trip since we moved in 2004! (2005, 2007, 2008) Despite the frequency, we know so many people in Boston that we still find it difficult to fit in visits with as many people as we would like. This trip was no exception, so if you didn't see us don't be offended! We do the best we can. ;) (Come visit us!)

Our flight went well, but things didn't go as well once we landed - but it had absolutely nothing to do with Rocket. In the process of getting the rental car and trying to make my way back to the terminal to pickup Corinne and Anders, I was reminded of how much of a pain in the *ss it can be to do simple things in Boston. As I said to Corinne when I picked them up, "I've only been in Boston for an hour and I'm already pissed off." Thankfully, the frustration passed quickly and the rest of the trip went smoothly.

We stayed with Becky and Gordon and their daughter Lily, who is now a little over 2 years old. Apparently Lily was very concerned that Anders was going to take her toys and eat her food. By the end of our visit, though, I think she had really warmed up to him. Becky and Gordon are due to have their second in May, so I think having Anders around was a good reminder of what they have to look forward to! Lily also gave us a small taste of what we have to look forward to as well.

We arrived in Boston Thursday evening and spent that night and most of the following day just relaxing around the house. On Friday night we met up with our friend Erin and her daughter Ava at one of their favorite dinner spots, Za in Arlington. Ava had even picked out some of her old toys to give to Anders! After a delicious dinner of interesting pizza and salads, we stopped by their apartment for some more conversation and "Anders-time" before calling it a night. We definitely tend toward the earlier evenings now that Anders is around. We find that no matter what time he goes to bed at night, he's always up bright and early!

Saturday morning, Corinne and Anders were able to join Becky and Lily at a kids music class. I'm not sure Anders really understood what was going on, but it never hurts to expose them to music (and art, books, puzzles, etc.) early - you just never know how much they absorb! Corinne certainly couldn't get that music class song out of her head for weeks, so hopefully some of it stuck with Anders as well. (Trot old Joe, Trot old Joe, You trot better than any horse I know...)

That same day Becky and Gordon hosted a brunch with our old MIT Aero/Astro group. The last time we got together they held a mini- baby shower for us, so it was only fitting that they meet Anders in person.

Every time we get together with this group, there are more little kids running around. But it was pretty interesting to see Anders interacting with some of the older ones. Dennis and Sara's two kids, Abigail and Caroline, were particularly interested in helping to take care of Anders.

Judy had fun entertaining Anders, and he clearly enjoyed it as well.

Sunday morning we went out to brunch with Amory, Brian, and Mike. This was our first time meeting Amory and Brian's daughter Elizabeth, and she was delightful. She and her dad had just come back a day earlier from an extended trip to his home country of Australia. She (or more accurately, her father) brought one of the "travel toys" to brunch: these stringy, waxy things that you would stick on paper to make patterns. But of course, they can go on the face, too.

After brunch we continued north to our next stop in New Hampshire. We have a long tradition of spending the Superbowl with our friends Serg & Stef, and our trip just happened to coincide with this year's event. The last time we saw them was about two and a half years ago, so we were long overdue for a visit.

Anders and Diego took turns as the center of attention. Diego showed us several of his Christmas and birthday presents, including a LEGO electric train set. We also spent some time playing an online "puzzle" game that he particularly liked called Bloxors. We all had fun playing that one; it was a particularly challenging game for a 4 year old! No visit would be complete without some sort of computer-related activity.

Diego even took the time to read a story to Anders. You really can't get much cuter than that.

Watching the actual game was never high on any of our lists (due to a "mutual lack of interest"), although in a "Patriots" year we were a bit more engaged. We eventually got around to watching this year's Superbowl in the way we usually do - on the DVR, fast-forwarding through most of the game and only playing the commercials at normal speed. Ah, technology.

The recruiting event at MIT that had precipitated the trip started on Tuesday, so on Monday we drove back to Boston to make sure the babysitters had arrived safely. But let me back up a little bit first...

When the idea of the Boston trip first came up we figured we would check with Becky to see if her daycare could take Anders for the two days that we would be busy interviewing. A few days later we were talking to Corinne's mom on the phone about the trip and she asked if my parents were going to drive up from NJ. "Oh no, I don't think so. It's a 4.5 hour drive, and it's only two days." The thought hadn't even occurred to us beforehand, and even when it was mentioned we discarded it out of hand. Not long after that we were telling my parents about our trip when they volunteered to drive up to watch him! I guess grand kids really do change things.

We arrived back in Boston at about the same time that my parents had finished checking-in to a B&B near where we were staying. Hooray, free and enthusiastic babysitters!

On one evening we even discovered a new game to worry Corinne:

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: there was the Job Fair at MIT that Insitu sent us there for in the first place! The turnout was a bit light, but I guess that is to be expected for a spring job fair. However, I think we made up for that with the quality of the people that we saw. On Wednesday we interviewed 8 or so people that we met on the previous day, with some followup interviews in WA likely.

The Insitu booth even ended up right next to the Infinera booth with our friend Sheila! (No, it wasn't in alphabetical order.) We were a bit hurried to get to our other appointments, but we did manage to spend an hour with her at Anna's Tacqueria to catch up. She'll just have to meet Anders another time.

We were hoping to go to dinner with her and some other friends that we haven't seen in a while, but we were feeling a bit under the weather and decided not to push our luck. At the beginning of the trip we'd had three night of pretty bad sleep. The first two nights were part of the Crazy 24 Hours and First Flight of the Rocket posts (respectively) leading up to our arrival in Boston. And during our first night in Boston, the air mattress on which we slept leaked pretty badly and left us lying on the floor in the middle of the night. Lack of sleep has a way of catching up with you, especially with a baby.

On our final evening in town, we had dinner on campus with Paul and Robin, Corinne's undergraduate adviser and his wife. It would seem that campus life has as much drama as ever.

In our last few hours before heading to the airport, we stopped by Draper Labs to check in on all of Corinne's old colleagues and show off the current state of the Rocket project. They are a fun and talented group, and I know that Corinne misses working with them. She must do good work, too, since some of the "toys" that she designed are still being used there 5+ years later.

To finish, I thought I'd leave you with a list of some of the Pros/Cons of being back in Boston:
  • PRO: Christina's Ice Cream. Maple walnut, Black licorice, Peppermint. Nothing beats New England for homemade ice cream!
  • CON: Snow in the city is ugly and makes the roads 30% narrower.
  • CON: Everyone on the road should be considered a hazard.
  • PRO: Public transit. (See above.)
  • CON: Falling down an escalator in an MBTA station hurts. Unfortunately, this is one that I learned firsthand on this trip. Doh.
  • PRO: Getting to see our friends again!
  • CON: Having too many friends and not being able to see them all.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket