12 month stats

Spencer eating a red pepper
Spencer eating a red pepper
Today Spencer had his 12 month check-up. He was pretty good for the most part. He cried when he got his 5 shots, but not for too long. He continues to be a big boy, as we already knew. Here are his statistics:

Spencer’s 12 months stats:
category value percentile
weight 25 lbs, 0 oz 80
height 30.25 inches 66
head circumference 18.74 inches 83
BMI 19.21  

p.s. the picture is not related at all. Spencer likes red peppers though (and raw ginger too).

Happy birthday Spencer!

Black forest cherry cake from Das Meyer bakery
Black forest cherry cake from Das Meyer bakery
Clare helps Spencer blow out the candle
Clare helps Spencer blow out the candle
Spencer turned one year old yesterday. We had a little party, which was a lot of fun. Here are a few pictures from the party, and a little video of Spencer opening a present. As is often the case with first birthdays, he was only interested in the first present. The first present also happened to be a car, so that might have played a role. After people left, he thoroughly inspected the rest of his loot though. Thanks to everyone who made it. We had a great time!
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more pictures follow

Let him eat cake!

Messy Spencer!
Messy Spencer!
Spencer enjoying his birthday cake
Spencer enjoying his birthday cake
Spencer's cake
Spencer's cake
We got cake for Spencer’s birthday from the German bakery by our house, das Meyer. We got a white cake for the kids, and a black forest cherry cake for the adults. From the looks on people’s faces, they both seemed very tasty. Spencer was definitely a fan. He was even nice enough to share a little with Dave. Enjoy the video.
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McQueen Cousins

Spencer and his cousins playing
Spencer and his cousins playing
Spencer had a blast playing with his cousins at his birthday party. Isabelle and Connor took turns riding on Spencer’s Lightning McQueen car while Spencer pushed them. A couple times Isabelle lifted her feet up, and Spencer was actually pushing her. At other times Isabelle or Connor were using their feet to push the car. They did this for quite some time. It was really fun to watch them.
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You’re so silly!

Dave and Spencer being silly
Dave and Spencer being silly
Dave and Ellen are visiting now for Spencer’s first birthday. Dave and Spencer had a great time on Thursday night playing with the dishwasher. In this little video, Spencer repeatedly throws down a spoon, and then Dave gives it back to him. I have never heard Spencer laugh so hard.
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Egg sandwich

Spencer with barbecue sauce face
Spencer with barbecue sauce face
Spencer eating some of Clare's egg sandwich
Spencer eating some of Clare's egg sandwich
Spencer frequently likes to eat what we are eating. Although Clare generally likes variety, she almost always has an egg sandwich for breakfast, with one piece of toast, some barbecue sauce, 2 over-medium eggs, and some cheese on top. Even though we frequently make a scrambled egg for Spencer for breakfast, he still likes to have some of Clare’s egg sandwich, and she is nice enough to share. It is of course messier than scrambled eggs, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

Snow sculpture festival

Clare, Rob, and Spencer in Breckenridge
Clare, Rob, and Spencer in Breckenridge
Snow sculpture with lots of snow removed
Snow sculpture with lots of snow removed
The last weekend in January we went to Breckenridge with our friends Greg and Mekayla to see the International Snow Sculpture Festival. Greg and Mekayla went up Thursday and went skiing on Friday; we went up Friday afternoon. We met them at the snow sculptures around 4 p.m., at which time we could still see the sculptors at work. They had some interesting tools. Some of the tools were very ordinary tools you would find at a hardware store like scrapers, but some of them were home made combinations of large curved wood with handles, with some sort of metal mesh attached, kind of like a rasp plane. It was quite fun to watch them work. We also went back on Saturday morning when they were finished. There was a pretty big difference in many of the sculptures, even though they had been working on them for 3 or 4 days. Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures from Saturday, because we left the camera in the car Friday night, and the cold drained the battery.

Saturday afternoon we took a nice hike with Greg, Mekayla, Anne (Mekayla’s mom), and her dog Lucy. Greg and Mekayla let us borrow these crampons that are basically like little spikes that slide over your boots, providing some great traction. We might have to get some of those. After a nice dinner of squash, corn, and bean stew, Anne volunteered to stay with Spencer to let us young folk go out on the town, which was a real treat for Clare and me. Thanks again Greg, Mekayla, and Anne for a great time!

Fireplace insert

New fireplace insert with fire
New fireplace insert with fire
Old fireplace
Old fireplace
New fireplace insert ready to be lit
New fireplace insert ready to be lit
New fireplace insert up close
New fireplace insert up close
Yesterday we got our new fireplace insert installed. I have been wanting a fireplace insert ever since we bought our current house. I really enjoyed heating with wood in Indiana, and I really wanted a wood fireplace in the house we bought in Colorado, which we did get. However, we never actually had a fire in it, because I know that traditional fireplaces actually make your furnace work more. That is because most of the hot air from the fire goes right up the chimney, along with a bunch of other warm air from the room. An insert is basically a wood stove that is designed to fit in an existing fireplace.

Several weeks ago I got a flyer that said Inglenook Energy was having a sale on stoves and inserts, and that there is a new 30% tax credit for installing an energy efficient wood stove. Inglenook is in Conifer, which is up in the mountains southwest of Golden, so we thought it would be a nice drive if nothing else. We found the salespeople there to be very informative and helpful, and not pushy. They even had some baby toys for Spencer to play with, and gave us coffee while we pondered whether we could really afford an insert. After much deliberating, we decided on the Jøtul 550 Rockland. We also considered a Quadrafire, but the Jøtuls are cast-iron instead of steel, and they have a very good reputation. They are also visually more attractive than the Quadrafire, and weren’t that much more expensive.

We considered installing the insert ourselves, but given that it weighs 550 pounds, and that it also requires installing a stainless steel chimney liner and knocking out the existing flu (damper), we decided to go ahead and hire it out. Inglenook gave me numbers of four installers, and also contacted them. Two of the four contacted me, so I got quotes from both of them. Matt at Chimney Doctors was very thorough and knowledgeable. He explained the whole process of what he would do, including installing additional insulation around the stainless steel liner, which provides extra safety, as well as increased draft and reduced soot. I liked him very much, so we decided to go with them.

Along with buying the insert, I also needed to buy some firewood. I had a hard time finding websites advertising firewood. I ended up going with Ken Fischer, who advertised mixed hardwood as well as other soft woods. Most people in Colorado burn Pine or Fir. Ken delivered a full cord of mixed hardwood for $260. Most of the other places were charging about $230 for pine, so I thought it would be good to get the hardwood. He arrived yesterday morning a bit before the scheduled 10 a.m. appointment, and did a nice job unloading the wood onto the driveway. He even showed me all the different kinds of wood he was selling me, including silver maple, ash, oak, black walnut, birch, locust, and cottonwood. He gets his wood from the Denver area when people get trees removed.

The Chimney Doctors arrived around 11 a.m. with the fireplace insert and finished around 3 p.m. They did a really great job. They cleaned the chimney and fireplace first very well, and put down drop-cloths everywhere so they didn’t get anything dirty. Spencer was sleeping when they arrived, and continued to sleep through the vacuuming and the saws-all to get out the old damper. When they started using the sledgehammer to remove more of the masonry around the old damper, he finally woke up. He was then absolutely fascinated to watch them work.

It was fairly nice weather yesterday, so Spencer helped me stack a bunch of the firewood in the afternoon. Then I set out to make the first fire. As I had heard, it was a bit tricky to get it going since the firebox seals so well. It took me a couple tries, but I did get it going. Eventually I left the door open a bit until it caught really well. That seemed to work well and did not let smoke in the room. The Fedibbletys enjoyed hanging out in the living room last night in a balmy 68°F room. I don’t think the living room has been that warm since about October. Generally the living room had been about 2-3°F cooler than the rest of the house, partly because of the tall ceiling, but also because of the drafty chimney. When burning, the fireplace insert does a great job of heating the entire first floor. When we went to bed, we discovered that our bedroom was only 63°F, which is a great sleeping temperature with our warm down comforter, and there is not much need to heat the upstairs during the day, since we are mostly downstairs. Since Spencer doesn’t have a down comforter, I bought a space heater for his room a couple weeks ago, which is helping him sleep through the night, even when he kicks his covers off. I also measured the temperature in the living room this morning with no fire going, and it is now only about 0.5-1°F cooler in the living room than in the kitchen, so we are saving energy even with no fire going.

Needless to say, I am very happy with our new fireplace insert.

Vroom Vroom!

Spencer playing with his car
Spencer playing with his car
Spencer has been getting pretty good at playing with his big car lately. It is clear that he is really close to walking, because he is not really relying on the car for balance. Occasionally he will stand up on his own when he wants to inspect something with both hands, but then once he realizes he is not holding onto something, he quickly finds something to hold onto, or simply drops to his knees. So I think he is ready to walk physically, but not quite there mentally yet.

In this video, he displays how he is now able to turn around and go the other way when he reaches an obstacle with the car. At the end, he switches over to his small Lightning McQueen car, which is actually filled with bubble bath.
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