Fourteen Days: 10/17-10/30



  • Managed to get a turn to hold Walter.
  • Used his newly refurbished video camera to capture footage of the partial solar eclipse.
  • Worked with Dad to record some violin and guitar Christmas arrangements.



  • Went to his first BSS Fiddle Club rehearsal and decided that he liked it.
  • Spent time holding, reading to, and playing with Walter.
  • Was very helpful when we took Walter on his first shopping trip to Wegmans.



  • Really ramped up his nursing efforts (leaving Mom with significantly less free time).
  • Seemed to be more alert, spending more and longer times awake.
  • Spent time looking in his mirror, lying on his back kicking, and lying on his tummy moving his head from side to side.
  • Marked the four week anniversary of his birth.

While I Was Nesting

Between David’s work schedule and my late pregnancy doctor’s appointments and nesting tendencies, September was a pretty crazy month for us.  We did not, however, completely neglect our older children.  To prove we were paying attention, allow me to share their September highlights:


Jack turned nine.  This was a two-day event.  On the fifteenth we had friends over for hamburgers and cupcakes.  The sixteenth, Jack’s actual birthday, was just a family affair.  I made Jack pancakes for lunch, and then he waited for Dad to get home from work before opening his cards and gifts.  His main gift was a pair of roller blades because there are a few months of the year here in Western New York when it is not cold enough to ice skate outside.


Upon seeing his brother in action, Thomas decided that he needed some roller blades too.  He used some of his saved money and earned the rest by painting the outside trim around our porch.  Now both Jack and Tom can use their roller blades to practice hockey in our driveway.

Aside from painting and buying roller blades, the highlight of Tom’s September was his participation at the Springwater Fiddlers’ Fair.  He attended this with the other members of the BSS Fiddle Club, and he was all smiles when he got home. The BSS group played two sets, and in between I think they ate a lot of sugar and generally had a good time.  This was one of Tom’s first trips without either David or myself, and I think it’s safe to say he enjoyed himself thoroughly.


David may have been busy, and I may have been nesting, but it is evident that, no, we did not forget our older children.  It is also evident that, yes, they really are getting older: having birthdays, earning money, going off without Mom or Dad.  It’s a privilege to observe and enjoy these older years while also cherishing the younger ones.


Seven Days: 10/10-10/16

As we work on settling into a new normal here, I am attempting to bring back my “Young Duke Days” series (complete with a new Duke!).  Here’s what the young noblemen have been up to:



  • Found an old video camera, fixed it, and started using it.
  • Played chess and went geocaching with Grandpa G.
  • Acquired his first tube of hair gel to keep all that long hair under control.
  • Was extremely helpful around the house.
  • Enjoyed his new baby brother.



  • Enjoyed his time with Grandma and Grandpa G.
  • Continued his current reading interest, the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.
  • Enjoyed watching Liberty’s Kids and learning about the Revolutionary War.
  • Loved on his new baby brother, saying things like, “If he never grew up, and I never grew up, I would hold him forever.”



  • Was baptized into God’s family.
  • Met Grandma and Grandpa G.
  • Had his first at-home bath.
  • Spent time on his back, just looking.  (When he’s particularly focused, he sticks one leg out.)
  • Had a little bit of “tummy time.”
  • Weighed in at the doctor’s office at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.
  • Marked the two week anniversary of his birth.



Welcome, Walter



Walter Christian Duke

Born October 2, 2014

 9:53 AM

Weighing 7 pounds, 0 ounces


Baptized into God’s Family

October 11, 2014

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Tonawanda, New York


Loved by


Mommy, Daddy, Thomas, Jack,

and many others.


 I can sing lullabies again, and I am so thankful:

 Thankful for all the people who have graced us with

their help and  presence,

their cards and gifts,

their thoughts and prayers.

Thankful for the nurses and doctors dedicated to keeping mom and baby healthy.

 Thankful for an uncomplicated delivery and a speedy recovery.

Thankful for David, who was home when it was time to go to the hospital,

Thankful for Thomas and Jack, who have been quick to love their new brother and help their mom.

I thank God for orchestrating all of this so beautifully, and I thank Him for giving us Walter.  Our baby boy is healthy, tiny, and wonderful.  We are so very blessed.

Welcome to the family, Walter!  We’re so glad you’ve arrived!


Baby Stuff I: Things I’m Glad I Saved

Only ten weeks to go before Baby’s expected arrival, and we are in preparation mode here.  For the first baby in the family, there is a certain amount of “stuff” that must be acquired.  (Generally, the amount needed is really far less than the amount acquired, but first time parents and well meaning gift givers do not necessarily realize this.)  Now with baby number three, our goal has been to get rid of things that have started to collect over the years.  I say to Thomas, “We  have to make room for another whole person,” and he willingly complies, taking trash to the curb and unloading boxes for the Goodwill collection truck.  In between all this purging, he has also pulled out my collection of baby “stuff.”  (He is quite a wonderful helper.)  Here is a list of the baby things I am glad I saved:

Jack at 6 months

Jack at 6 months

1.  Clothes – not all OshKosh, of course, but very helpful nonetheless.

Thomas at 6 weeks

Thomas at 6 weeks

2. Car seats – We have car seats of all sizes stored in the attic.  That will be a big money-saver.

3.  Stroller – We have a stroller that is compatible with the car seat above.  When the child is bigger, it can be used without the car seat as well.  It even has a handy storage place underneath that can be used for diaper bags, groceries, library books, or violins.  I don’t think we ever fit a cello down there, but it is still very handy for a mom who needs more hands.

Jack at 9 months

Jack at 9 months

4.  Baby sling – We don’t want Baby in the stroller or car seat all the time!  This is a ring sling that I made from a pattern.  All babies are different, of course, but this sling worked very well for Jack and me.

Jack at 1 week

Jack at 1 week

5.  Moses basket- cute and functional.  It can be placed anywhere we may want the baby to sleep.  It came with a liner that was entirely unsuitable.  It was very puffy, and I think it would have posed a suffocation risk.  Fortunately my mother can sew, and she made the liner above.  Thanks, Mom!

6.  Pack ‘N Play – not as cute as the Moses basket but probably more functional since it can be used even with a larger baby.  It too can be placed wherever we may want the baby to sleep.  I also came across an idea that you can take the mat out of the Pack  ‘N Play and use it as a play mat on the floor.  Nice to keep in mind, since this is the first baby we will be bringing home to all hardwood floors.

Baby Jack

Baby Jack

7.  Activity gym – Speaking of play mats, I really like the one we saved from Jack’s baby years.  It has a very simple format, and the high definition colors are appropriate for the young baby’s developing eyesight.  I’m not sure we have all the little hanging toys, but really, we can hang any number of toys from the rings.

Thomas at 1 month

Thomas at 1 month

Working those "tummy time" muscles

Working those “tummy time” muscles



8.  Boppy pillow – This is really helpful for positioning an infant to nurse.  Nursing the baby with the Bobby pillow was much easier on my back muscles than using a regular pillow.  It can also be good for Baby’s muscles when used as a prop during “tummy time.”

This is not a comprehensive list.  It’s just a compilation of some of my favorites.  If you are looking for a very bare bones list of newborn needs, you might want to check out Rachel’s post here.  (Some of my favorites didn’t make her list, but she still has a valuable perspective.)   In the meantime, stay tuned for my next post which will be a wish list for our newest arrival.


Fourteen Days: 6/6-6/20



  • Took the lead in getting ready for KidBiz.  (See photo, above.)  On the day of the market, he did a great job playing his violin and talking with customers.
  • Played solo and with Jack for the Twin Cities Community Outreach 25th Anniversary Dinner.  He took charge of the performance, and exuded a lot of confidence, both for this event and for KidBiz.
  • Had a great hockey game with two assists and one shot on goal.
  • Continued to work on electronics projects.  In fact, this seemed to be a higher priority for him than computer time.



  • Partnered with Thomas for a successful day at KidBiz.  He helped with crayon production and selling, and he played his cello.
  • Acquired a new-to-him stuffed animal at KidBiz.  We think it is an Alaskan husky.  He named it Pouncer (because it pounces on people), and dramatic play ensued.
  • Played solo and with Thomas for the TCCO Anniversary Dinner.  It’s not everyday they get to play in front of the mayor of North Tonawanda.
  • Had three hockey games and scored his first goal of the season.
  • Stood in front of the computer listening to the music when Pandora brought up a song played by Yo-Yo Ma.  He also told the librarian, that yes, he would recommend that her nephew learn to play the cello.  (This from a boy who claims that cello is one of his least favorite things.)
  • Decided that “Mr. Aker” would be the good name for a character in a story.  We are encouraging him to pursue his writing ideas.

Fourteen Days: 5/23-6/5



  • Got his braces off.
  • Joined the Fiddle Club at BSS.  He said his first rehearsal was fun.
  • Declared that the baby “ought to learn about electronics.”
  • Worked with Dad to move the said electronics down to a table in the basement and spent many hours there.  Now all the lights, beeps, and buzzes are out of the office!




  • Was excited about my ultrasound.  When I arrived home, he met me at the door and said, “Well?”
  • Played catch with Dad out back.  He has a good left-handed throwing arm.  Dad called him “Pepper.”  (He’s pretty good at catching too.)
  • Told me that reading is his fourth favorite thing  – after hockey, Minecraft, and riding his bike.
  • Helped me gather flowers in the Pokey Woods meadow.




  • Had his first pictures taken at nineteen weeks gestation, and we found out that they were indeed HIS pictures.
  • Did not hold very still for his portrait session.  No wonder I’m already feeling kicks!



Fourteen Days: 5/9-5/22

tomplatform Thomas:

  • Cleaned out the backyard pond and got his pump up and running.
  • Voluntarily learned to cut the grass and has been doing a good job.
  • Played well in the first games of the spring hockey league, including two assists.
  • Programmed his Arduino board to play “Lightly Row.”
  • Began reading Getting Started in Electronics with Dad.  Then he and Dad worked on some projects together.
  • Spent a lot of time working on electronics independently.  This involved many lights, beeps, and buzzes.
  • Nailed down the platform for the tree house in the Pokey Woods.




  • Voluntarily gave Thomas one of his gluten free cookies.
  • Hummed “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” while illustrating his Easter story.
  • Was a sweetheart on Mother’s Day and gave the baby (and Mom) a hug.
  • Played “Minuet I” by Bach beautifully at the BSS spring recital.
  • Picked up some books on tsunamis at the library.  He started reading I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011, in the car and finished it by the end of the night.
  • Passed his breathing test at the allergist with flying colors.  He also found out that he is officially 48 inches tall.  No more booster / car seats for him!
  • Went through a bit of PS3 Hockey withdrawal.  (Nicer weather means less screen time.)
  • Played well in the first games of the spring hockey league, including one assist.  He is a bit dismayed about the Memorial Day break.  He prayed for patience to wait until his next game on June 4th!

jackeasterillustration 001






Seven Days: 5/3-5/8



  • Did more work in the Pokey Woods.
  • Played with Miss Klansee’s orchestra in the last rep class concert of the year.
  • Had a good conversation with Miss Klansee about the different sections of “Gavotte” by Martini.
  • Was his regular helpful self.



  • Helped clear sticks in the Pokey Woods.
  • Played “Minuet III” by Bach with all the correct bowings and shifts.  (It’s a tricky piece!)
  • Had two hockey practices in one day and worked hard for both of them.
  • Probably watched too many hockey videos.
  • Had a discussion about natural disasters and was relieved to learn that a tsunami cannot reach western New York.


Seven Days: 4/25-5/1

Now that the malaise of the first trimester is past, I’m trying to get back to my blogging.  One thing I’ve been wanting to add is a weekly review of what my kids have been doing.  I got this idea from Erin at Bluebirdbaby, but I can hardly call my series “Project 52” since I’m starting at the end of April!



  • Celebrated his eleventh birthday.
  • Received an Arduino board, and started learning how to program it.
  • Started the first piece in Suzuki Violin Book III.
  • Cut down saplings in the Pokey Woods.
  • Impressed us all with his Minecraft hockey arena.




  • Enjoyed spending time with Grandma and Grandpa G.
  • Climbed a tree in the Pokey Woods.
  • Had his first spring hockey practice.
  • Spent most of his free time playing, drawing, or talking about hockey!