Monday, November 23, 2009

lots of father / son time this weekend...

Late Thursday night, a guest arrived at our house. My step sister Michelle (pictured on the blog on Sept 5 2008 - adoption day) has a son, Kyle, who recently graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. That's where Mercer was born. We hooked up with Kyle that first week while we were out there (pictured on the blog in early March 2008). Kyle was passing through Atlanta and hung out with Todd / Mercer on Friday as they attended a Thanksgiving program at daycare. Kyle said that he had fun watching the kids -- although attending a daycare Thanksgiving program can't be at the top of his list of things to do while in Atlanta for the day!! The older kids sang songs. Some kids did karate demonstrations and ballet demonstrations (these are extracurricular things that they do at the daycare in after-school care). The guys had a Thanksgiving lunch and chased Mercer across the church gymnasium where the event was located. The daycare asked that everyone bring in a white t-shirt so they could make shredded tie-dyed t-shirts so the kids look like Indians. (In case you're wonder what Mercer is wearing over his sweater!) Todd caught Mercer "running in the wind?!" He's not sure what he was doing, but thought it was funny.

Saturday, Mercer and Todd got to spend more time together while I was working on some things here at the house. They went to the Botanical Gardens to visit a train exhibition. It appears that it was captivating for Mercer and the other toddlers there. The Botanical Gardens also had a ride-on train that Mercer had fun climbing on & playing with.

Mercer is trying out new facial expressions as well as doing other things that makes us wonder about his personality. Will he be a shy kid
(NOPE)? Will he be a ham and call to the center of attention (PROBABLY)? He can crinkle his mouth up - sort of snarl. He can pull his cheeks in and pucker like a fish. He can pull he mouth into a tight circle when he's surprised and say "ohhhhh." (Probably what he's saying in this picture below) He also has a devious look already. Yikes! Sometimes he struts when he walks. He has no inhibitions when it comes to dancing in public... or blowing kisses to ladies when we are leaving a store or a restaurant. His personality is definitely coming through! I think I've already mentioned how he turns his palms in the air when he says "where?" That cracks us up and I think he does it to egg us on.

My step-mother's sister, Judy, passed away this weekend. My memories of her are of a vibrant, fun-loving, spunky lady. I wish we would have gotten the chance to see her this week while we're down in Florida for Thanksgiving... and introduce her to Mercer. I'm glad that we're going to be down there this week so that Mercer can bring a ray of sunshine to their family... as they'll need it right now. I was talking with someone recently about how happy Mercer makes Todd and me (of course!) but also how much we love watching other people's reactions to him / how he can bring joy to others.

Monday night, Todd and I went to a lecture downtown at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue to see Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award Winner - Vice President Al Gore. He is promoting a new book called "Our Choice" and - although I'm in the green building business - I learned of some of the background / history that has been leading up to the climate issue. I've heard about over-population before... but did not know that our population has quadrupled in the past 100 years. We're over 6 billion now, but trends indicate that population growth will top off around 9 billion due to education of women across the world / careers / improvement in healthcare (where 100 years ago - infant and child mortality was high so people had larger families to counteract this).

He talked about how 100 years ago, ores were being smelted to make metals -- but now with technology, materials are being created at the molecular level (many contain chemicals that are not natural to the earth). He talked about the amount of fuel that is used to power our country (energy consumption for buildings being higher than that of automobiles -- which I knew through my work) and how the burning of coal - the primary energy source - emits more CO2 emissions than any other type of fuel.

It was interesting to learn that installing 100 square miles (10 miles X 10 miles) of solar panels in the middle of the desert would meet the needs of the entire country. Obviously getting those panels out there and getting a super energy grid to serve that is a huge under-taking... but it would allow our country clean energy for powering buildings into infinitum. There was a pretty simple opening statement made by Eizenstat (who hosted the lecture and introduced VP Gore)... we're borrowing money from China to buy fuel from the Middle East so that we can burn it here in the US - creating emissions and CO2. It is a little mind-boggling thinking about the subsidies that make (unclean) fuel and energy so cheap and prohibits us from implementing the clean energy systems. Speaking of China (and India)... those countries "strive" to live the life of what we have here in the US -- which is frightening due to their population levels. (We were recently surpassed as the most consumptive / polluting country by China.) But he said that China is actually putting into place the structure to be the largest solar and wind-power consumer within their 5-year plan. They've planted 2.5 X the number of trees as all of the other countries in the rest of the world combined. They realize that they are having a huge impact and are doing more than I realized to counteract that impact.

Finally, he talked about nuclear energy and how much "cleaner" it is during production -- but the problem of "what to do with the waste" hasn't been solved yet. I thought I'd close with that because as I've shamelessly put photos of Mercer throughout this whole recounting of the lecture, I am reminded that I don't want to leave it up to him and his generation to figure out how to clean up after our generation! Instead - consider reducing your energy consumption in your homes and buildings. VP Gore said that all Americans should weatherize their homes as a star
ting point. If interested, my company has a huge resource of weatherization tips (for free) at that you can check out & implement in your homes... many of the strategies, Todd & I did on our own home, but there's still more we can do. We're chipping away at it. I know most of you come to the blog to see pics of our little guy, but, sometimes I'm energized or moved by something I've recently learned. I really don't want to be preachy - rather share what I've learned to those who may be interested. It's not a political issue... it's a global issue that we're in with the other large countries... and it's not about us - it's about all of the little guys just like Mercer!

Have a Happy (and safe) Thanksgiving holiday! We are thankful for YOU all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A few things that we haven't blogged about before...

When Mercer & I went to NC, he got to feed a giraffe. There's a new platform built at the NC Zoo and the zookeepers have limbs that people can hold and feed through the railing. Mercer held the branch (with my help of course) but he was face-to-face with a sideways-chewing animal. He wasn't scared at all. He was quite fascinated. [ The picture at the bottom of this web page of the man feeding the giraffe isn't accurate of what Mercer & I did... an (apparently) taller giraffe was feeding at the platform and you could directly feed it through the railing instead -- about 1' away! It was probably more interesting for me, honestly ]

Mercer is now clearing the table. When he's finished eating his food, he puts his utensil on his plate and hands it to Todd or myself. He also says "all done." He also hands us his bottle when he's finished. Sometimes, he'll bring it into the kitchen and try to put it in the sink. Occasionally he gets it in there.

Every now & then, we try foods with nuts in them. I think that the recommendation is that he gets nuts when he's 2 years old, but he wants to eat our food a lot of times, so -- we've tried it a couple of times (once with almonds and then several times this week with macadamia nuts, as it was in a pasta dish we made a big batch of. So far, so good. No reaction / no allergies that we can see.)

One more thing about food... here are some pictures of him eating black beans. We went to a restaurant last night where he wanted to feed himself - as he's insisting on more and more. He would eat some spoon-fuls of the beans, but he would also pick beans out of the bowl with his fingers one-by-one and eat them that way too. We didn't take a camera with us to the restaurant, so we brought him back home to continue (after all, playing in the restaurant then occasionally eating a bean makes for a long meal). He wasn't happy when we left the restaurant because he wasn't finished, so we set him back up at home. Check out the residue of his handy-work all across his face! He seems proud of it, actually.

Finally, the daycare has been trying Mercer out in the Toddler room every now and then. We're not sure when they're officially going to move him over, but it will be sometime in December we think. He will still get to play a lot, but they'll also start teaching him things in that room.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

long time no post.

Forgot to update the blog readers... Mercer took 2nd in the Inhabitot Halloween costume contest! He won his (future) little sister some swag (2nd place was an alpaca hat & booties set)... and he also gets a t-shirt for himself. Thanks for voting if you were able to. It was actually kind of fun to do / to hit up people I haven't talked to in awhile and to get to catch up with folks. In fact, I'm having lunch with someone next week who I haven't seen in 3 years because of emailing her about / asking for her vote for his costume. It was a way to reconnect with some people. Cool!

Mercer got to go to his first high school football game. Our friends, Scott & Shelli, have 2 sons who play - but one of them was out because of a knee injury. Supposedly, this was "THE" game to be at. ESPN was there... skydivers (there's a shot of the last skydiver pulling a "Ya'll VS Us" sign behind him)... the chick-fil-a cow was there... and therefree mini-footballs for the folks in the stands... and fireworks - lots of fireworks. (every time the football team scored a touch-down, the crowd would boom (which frightened Mercer) and fireworks would go off (which he was a little leary about as well). This happened 5 times - as they beat the opposing team 35-0!

Mercer stayed up WAY later than his bedtime, but did really well because of all of the activity going on. He enjoyed the band that was playing in the bleachers just a short distance from us. He kept calling it "noise." He danced a little bit too - which cracked up some of the people in the stand. (Luckily, the band members were focused and weren't distracted from his dance moves.) He had a blast running up and down the ramp at the side of the bleachers. His heavy footsteps were so loud on the metal ramp -- he thought that was hilarious. The ramp is probably where he spent most of his time. Up and down. Down and up. He enjoyed hitting these white noise-sticks that were also given away as well as chewing on / throwing the mini plastic football that he got at the game. Honestly, I didn't see much of the game, but had a good time none-the-less. (This is "aunt" Shelli).

The next day, we went to an art festival. Mercer didn't do so well there. Guess we found out that if you keep him up several hours past his bedtime - that the following day - he's not much in the mood to do anything!

Here's a shot of Mercer playing ball with Scott. (You can't really see either, but it's included because of the beautiful scenery!). Also, here's a shot of the whole gang (Shelli, Tucker, Scott, and Hayden) in front of their house. The two teenage boys are huge now -- towering over their parents. (Shelli said that this will happen to us, too, with Mercer much more quickly than we will expect.) We met them all about 10 years ago when the boys were 5 & 7. Times have changed, for sure!

Also to add -- Mercer just started doing something funny. Yesterday, Todd went to work and Mercer said "daddy," then put both of his hands in the air and turned his palms up, saying "gone?" He did something similar this morning doing the same thing with his hands saying "where?" I do think that we do this sometimes when asking a question and he's picked it up. It's pretty cute.

Another thing that was funny... we turned on the t.v. onto animal planet last night. There was a herd of elephants on the screen and Mercer kept saying in a low voice: "wow," "wow," "wow," "wow," "wow," it went on and on. He was pretty excited! We cracked up. Simple things. Good times. : - )

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

some halloween fun...

the image on the last blog - the one where mercer is chasing the gazelle - i ended up posting on a website regarding a green halloween costume contest. i thought... what the heck... his costume, the cords, the shoes were all 2nd-hand from a consignment sale. that's green. i didn't expect him to be one of the finalists. if you haven't gotten the message already, check out this link.

if you feel so inclined, cast a vote (click on the word "votes" if it lets you... we hear that there have been some problems with the hyperlink). kind of cool to see him on the website! : - )

it rained on halloween, but we still stuck it through a neighborhood party in the intermittent storms... several impromptu "under the umbrella" conversations were had with neighbors. By the time we left and went trick-or-treating, the rain mostly had passed. We had pre-arranged the delivery of healthy treats at several of the neighbors houses so that Mercer could get the trick-or-treat experience without being introduced to candy just yet. (a good compromise, we think). Several of his favorite treats were bestowed upon him and he was thrilled. Annie's cheddar bunnies (like goldfish), raisins, and organic kid's granola bar snacks. By the time he reached the last house that we were taking him to, he handed our neighbor his bucket -- as to say put something inside!! He definitely got the hang of it!

this picture is of Mercer on the way to the party decked out in his lion costume. (my thrift-store "moon shoes" are in the foreground - i was an astronaut-in-training) We didn't work on the phrase, but he did get the hang of "roar" thankfully that evening!

Oh - and he said another sentence that night "I want that."

He did get "play" with candy that night and had no interest in eating it. (He was interested in opening a 2nd box of raisins that evening, as seen here.) Dumping out the bowl of treats we had and putting it back into the bowl. He likes to do this with other things... taking them out of their containers... putting them back in... taking them out... putting them back in. It's been interesting to watch his development.