Friday, December 26, 2008

Birthday Girl

Close-up view of the cake - can you get more pink princessey?
Getting ready to blow out the candles.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. We had a great Christmas and birthday, but missed the AK family and friends. Next year? We are incredibly blessed to have such fantastic families and friends - near and far. 

Here are some pictures of Natalie and her princess cake. She loved it! She did mention that the doll should have a tiara. She's obviously more detail-oriented than I. (I thought the hand-made rose petals were enough). I actually made many more rose petals, intending to decorate the platter with them and forgot them at our house when we went to the Carlisle cousins. Oops. No matter, no one missed them but me. 

The story behind the princess cake with the petal skirt originates in London where we would walk by a bakery with a large princess cake with a skirt made entirely out of petals prominently displayed in the window. Natty loved it and we had to stop and admire her regularly. So that's what she wanted for her birthday cake, but I didn't think I was up to a skirt made entirely out of petals, hence the fondant overskirt. Now that I've done it I know making rose petals isn't that hard, merely tedious. And the crazy cake decorating supplies you can get make it rather fun! Luster powder powder for instance - shimmery rose and silver powder to enhance each petal. I love living in the modern age. Hot running water and non-toxic luster powder for my daughter's cake. Oooo la la!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fun times and pictures

It dumped snow here last weekend and Murray and Natty went out for a ski - her first real ski! The last time we tried skis on her was year before last and she just stood in the driveway and wailed. Not a Picabo Street moment. But this year she was psyched: strapped 'em on and went for a fairly long ski. She had a great time and Murray had a great time with her. (I had a great time too - I laid in bed and enjoyed the quiet).

The snow had started while we were in NYC - we had such a fun time there. The only issue was that the energy in the City is so high that I overdo it. Thinking I would take it easy I went to the Metropolitan Museum while Natty and Murray were at the Big Apple Circus. So actually I walked around for hours - wonderful hours of soul-rejuvenating art gazing, but lots of On the Feet time. I got all sorts of pregnancy aches and pains, but I'm recovered now.

Murray and I got 2 adult dinners in a row - one with Paul and Anne at a "modern Korean" restaurant. Great company and delicious food. I think that Korean might actually be my favorite cuisine. It's remarkably different from any other and specializes in pickled/vinegary/fermented things which I love. The next night Marmee babysat while we went to Carnegie Hall for the Messiah. What an experience.  And we ended the trip by hanging out with Jon and Abbie - always fun to see them (and not just because Abbie reads this blog).

Sunday Natty was an angel in our church's Christmas pageant. Too cute. She was beside herself with excitement and behaved like an angel. 

Now it's Christmas Eve: the presents are wrapped, the stocking hung, she's in bed and we should be but aren't. I made a fabulous cake for her - hideously pink as a 4 yr old's birthday cake should be. Here's a picture of the process and we'll document the final product tomorrow. I tracked down some of the "necessary"supplies while we were in NY - nothing like obsessing over a 4 yr old's cake. It's become somewhat of a disease with me if you remember last years cake. Once a year I get the fever. It's fun - and it's worth it to see her excitement.  

Important lesson learned by Murray this Christmas Eve: Laphroiag single malt whiskey does NOT go well in eggnog. It's terrible. We tried it so you wouldn't have to.

As of right now (christmas eve, 11:30 pm) I have only gotten the one photo to post. Grrr. I'm going to bed but will post this as is and try for the rest of the photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Spirit

I wrote this at least 10 days ago but didn't publish it. I don't know why. Now I will. And post another with some fun pictures.

We got the tree up and decorated! The house is getting more moved in and there is light at the end of the "pooping on the toilet" misery. We're very, very grateful for these things (and many more). On a sad note, my Uncle David passed away yesterday. My heart is so sad for my cousins who have now lost both parents in 4 months. And my Dad and Aunt Gloria to have lost their brother. 

I've got 95% of my presents mailed off, hurrah! Just a few odds and ends to finish up and I can sit back. We were going to do a Christmas card, but it's looking like we'll put that off until after the baby brother comes and do a baby announcement/Valentine's day card. Simply because we haven't gotten it done yet so it's not likely to happen in this last week.

We're going to NYC for a few fabulous days tomorrow. Murray is taking Natty to the Big Apple Circus - which was the only saving grace for missing her preschool Christmas party. (she was so upset when she found out we'd be gone for it - Big Tears, slowly rolling down cheeks! Broke my heart. Thankfully we'd already planned the circus and reminded her about it so she rallied). Thinking about how stressful last holiday season was, including a trip (or 2) to the City then, I'm in a much, much better space and grateful for it. 

Time to pick up Natty from Preschool and get a holiday haircut for her. 

Natty said, as we were almost finished decorating, "It's even better than I expected!" which is something because she was pretty psyched about the tree from the get-go.  

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whew! it's been a long time since I took computer in lap to write. Halloween came and went in a flurry of Bridal drama (she was awfully cute and Marmee took the only pictures we got of her - how did that happen? She put on the full regalia multiple times and I never snapped a shot?! Amazing).

We took a long weekend to Florida and got to see Dad, Connie, Marion and Ray (Connie's parents - Natty's great-grandparents), Laura and Gary (my stepsister and her husband), the sun and the beach. We had a great time. I succumbed to shell collecting - which I have always resisted - even when I lived in FL. Natty and I brought some home and painted them crazy colors - a good kid project for a project-challenged mother like myself.

Here's the girls, lounging on the semi-warm beach. We went to a Farmer's Market on the way to the beach and a kind vendor gave Natty this fabulous sunflower. 


Natty asleep with another beach find. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving with the whole Buttner clan in attendance. Tons of good energy and food. We ate and ate. I was the one who did the obligatory cooking fiasco with a pecan pie in the barn oven. I put it in and we went for a walk. I did return in time to take it out but, unfortunately, it had overflowed (which I had thought about as I was putting it in - "I should have something under this in case....." but did nothing about. Shame on me!) and burned. Smoke filled the barn and was migrating through the breezeway into the main kitchen by the time the boys found it! The pie itself was only delectably singed on top - which the Murrays (for whom the pie was intended anyway) loved. The highlight for me was Lindsey's cheesecake with sauted apples and Calvados caramel sauce. Yummm. 

We're moving into a larger rental this week. I'm very excited but Murray is already nostalgic for our cozy little cottage. I think 3 bedrooms and a real kitchen (with a dishwasher) makes up for the lovely setting we've been in. And we can still walk to Marmee and Poppa's through the woods. Now we just have to get our stuff moved. (Don't worry, I will let Murray do all the lifting. The baby belly is big enough that putting on my shoes is a procedure so I'm aware of my limitations!) Now I can look forward to visitors after the baby comes with anticipation knowing they'll have someplace to sleep.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quotable quotes

These are from Natty:
One afternoon, chatting about princess headgear, and who wears what, she and I disagreed about what Snow White wore. Her definitive answer, "I don't know much about 'dult things, but I know about princesses...... And ponies."  

Godmothers versus Fairy Godmothers: "Mom, is Auntie Sharyl my godmother?" 
"Then can she do magic like Cinderella's godmother?"
"Cinderella's godmother was a Fairy godmother. Fairy godmothers do magic."
(Lucky Natty, I think Sharyl is as close to a fairy godmother as a girl can get in this world.)

Another evening when Murray and I had been parental and she was upstairs in timeout, we heard her fuming away, thinking of the worst things she could, "I wish Mommy was a BOY, not a girl anymore. And Daddy will NOT be a boy, he will turn into a girl." The typed words don't recall the feeling that the 3 yr old voice carried, but it was intense.

Then there's the philosophical times. One day she was trying to figure out reality versus stories. I explained that stories are imaginary. Her comment "What if we are all in somebody's imagination?" 

I don't record enough of these, but that's a taste. Oh, and she wants to name the baby Tom. I don't know why that's the winning name, but it's been the consistent front runner for a few weeks. 

Tonight we had a pre-Halloween party with the Boston Buttners and Auntie Jenny. We had a parakeet (Khai), a Korean princess (Soo Jin) and a bride (Natty). They were all so cute and had a great time playing. Natty is into Go Fish and Khai brought some maturity and discipline to the game that Murray and I don't have when we play with her. 

I'm still working on the photos, but I better get it up and going by Halloween. She's the cutest bride ever, in a wedding gown that was Emmeline's when she was this age. Marmee found it at her house and Natty latched right onto it. Add the tiara/veil, flowers and white gloves, she's a vision in tulle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Since starting work my blogging time has been reduced. Part of it is that I have less free time and the other part is the brain-dead aspect of working nights. I chose to work nights because 1) I figured it would work better for the overall family dynamics and 2) I've done it before and did ok with it. 

It's going about how I expected: I'm very tired, but life isn't totally out of whack for all of us. And I kind of like the Secret Life of Walter E. Middy aspect of being out of sync with the world. When everyone else is sleeping, I'm helping babies be born and supporting new, dazed families adjust. I feel like it's a job worth going to which helps a lot when I really, really want to go to bed, not to work. Also, I'm so tired that I don't have the mental energy to agonize over it. I just make some coffee, put on my scrubs, grab my bag (already packed - must do) and go.

I come home as Natty is waking up and Murray is getting ready to go, say goodbye to him (we watch him bike down the golden avenue, piled high with leaves, on his cruiser bike - a fun image to carry with me), get Natty dressed, fed and take her to school. Come back home to sleep, wake up, go back to pick her up and then run errands, etc. We often end up hanging out at Victoria's Station, a coffee shop in Putnam. I've lived here about 2 months and am on a first name basis with the manager - what does that say? Natty is a creature of habit and we always sit in the same place - a yellow couch with gold and black velveteen pillows in a corner window. She checks to make sure we have our seat as we walk in the door and we haven't been out of luck yet. She gets a steamer (strawberry is the most recent flavor - yuck!), I get a decaf Americano and we usually split a treat. The staff is indulgent of my persnickety ways with coffee and they make a lovely cup.

One dark area of my life is that I decided not to go to grad school this spring. The program started in December and with the baby coming in January we decided I would focus on the kids a bit longer. I'm disappointed, there's no getting around it. But I also don't want to be a stressed mess with a new baby. That's no life for us. I admire families that juggle everything, but it's not the road we want to take. 

For now, autumn is beautiful and I just splurged on a snazzy double stroller - Phil and Ted's. I'll let you know how we like it when I get it assembled and road tested. Must hit the roads while the weather's good! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Here's an update on our housing situation. I joked about Murray finding us a house, and he did set up an appointment with the agent that we're working with on last Saturday. Unfortunately (fortunately? because it shows I've done my research well) I recognized almost everything she showed us and had driven by most of them. So now we know where we're starting from. Lots of houses for sale at a good price, none that meet our criteria. At the moment we're trying to go slow with a purchase anyway so it doesn't make sense to snap up something we only partially like when we still need to see how the area fits us/we fit the area. 

But the quip about Murray did come true. He had put cards in the mailbox of 3 houses in a location we like which weren't for sale. We didn't think we'd hear anything but nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

What do you know, Monday morning we got a call from an agent that the person that lived in one of them had passed away and her family had given her our number to call. That Murray and his crazy ideas!  

The house isn't ready to show yet - we know for sure it will need some work. But since we don't have anything else on the short list we're happy to hang out and see what transpires.  We feel slightly weird about it - our potential good fortune at another's misfortune and all. 

The whole story is proof that Murray and his unorthodox ideas succeed where my plodding research just got me frustration. 

Since we've received our stuff I'm coping better with the cottage so we have time to watch and wait. One never knows what is coming down the pike, but it's bound to be interesting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This week Natty and  I went apple picking and made apple butter. I went to college in Spokane, WA, which is serious apple/pear/fabulous fruit and vegetable country, but I haven't done that kind of thing since. Natty and I went to a farm that Marmee recommended (and had taken Natty to, so Natty felt like she was showing me around). We quickly picked a half bushel (20 lbs if you're like me and don't know how much a bushel is) of a variety of apples. Thankfully a lot of the trees had low fruit so Natty could pick. She wanted to carry the bag, but decided (correctly) that it was too heavy a few apples into the process. 
Then we came home and pottered about eating apples and making apple butter. We didn't really have the right equipment but that never stops me. I guess a crucial piece of equiment for true apple butter is a food mill or other puree-er and I didn't bother with that, so it never got smooth and buttery. It is more like intense, thick apple sauce. Still yummy. I did get a potato masher finally when a wooden spoon just wasn't working, even for my lax standards.
We had borrowed a apple corer/peeler/slicer from Marmee, so we did that processing, threw some spices in and went for it. Unfortunately, I put way too much cloves in. Nutmeg would have been ok, cinnamon even, but cloves numb your mouth when they're too strong. So it was back to the peeler/corer/slicer to process more (many more) apples to dilute the spicing. Fortunately we got our stuff from Alaska on Monday (O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!) so I had a pot to cook the plain apples in and add them to the over-cloved pot. After a few days of puttering (when I had the time) it finally turned out. 
Then I wanted to can it, but didn't have a pot tall enough for the jars I'd purchased. So back to the store for  smaller jars (I could have bought a tall stock pot instead, but the jars were quite cute. I'll have to get the stock pot another time). The canning worked so I've been passing the cute little jars out and still had some un-canned left over to put in pancakes Saturday morning - delicious. 
It was a good experience and appealed to my autumn nesting instinct enough that we'll probably go back to pick and process some more. It just seems the seasonal thing to do. 
Another good event this week was the first U Mass OB visit. I'm officially high-risk with this pregnancy so my visit included a Level 2 Ultrasound (very cool - even got 3-d pictures) with a perinatalogist, a talk with a genetics counselor and a Ob visit with a MD whom I liked immensely. All is going perfectly well with the baby. I'll continue to see that OB for my prenatals but of course don't know who will be "on" for the delivery. It was nice that she agreed that I'm a good candidate for a trial of labor and I got to let her know my comfort level vis a vis induction (no) and augmentation (no). 
We ended the week with a visit to Emmeline's school to see her play in her first varsity field hockey game!! It was great fun to watch her play and to hang out on the sidelines with the Carlisles. Natty was in heaven to be playing with her cousins - and they are fabulous with her. We went from the game to Jon and Abbie's for Jon's birthday celebration - Abbie made an amazing dinner and we had an autumnal evening around a cozy fire. 
I keep encountering funny cultural differences which remind me I'm in a new world and keeps life interesting. Sarah Palin incites lots of Alaskan comments/questions so that is an ongoing conversation with everyone. What a time to be an Alaskan transplant to New England!
Today we came home in the rain and are ready for a new week. I start nights this week - good for the family schedule and we'll find out if I still have the night shift in me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Life is full and busy - I feel like we've joined the rest of America. We're both working, we drive everywhere and have a kid in preschool/daycare. Honestly, I think I've driven more in the last month than we did in Juneau and Cordova combined. I'd like to cut down on it but I don't see a decrease in our near future. 

We're looking for houses with the highest priority being bikability to work. Unfortunately, while there are many houses for sale, there aren't many close to the hospital that also meet the rest of our criteria. So I've thrown in the towel on the house hunt and tonight Murray directed his laser beam energy on it - we'll have one by the end of the weekend no doubt. Either that or at least another rental. Our one bedroom and minimal kitchen is wearing on me. And if our little cottage was cheap I could rationalize it and make do, but it's not. I don't think we can find another surrounded by Audobon/Conservation land like this one is and we'll miss the fabulous setting. But life is a balance and we need to find a better one. 

An unexpected upside to work is that my posture is improving. After years of Mom reminding me to stand up straight, I did have good posture  - until I had a child. 3+ years of leaning down to hold her hand, listen to her stories, pick her up and generally incline to her level have left me with a stoop. It's not attractive. But now that I have 8 hrs a day relating to people at my level I am straightening out. It feels good! And with the growing baby belly, it's even more important for back health. 

Another random, wonderful thing in our life is that I made tiramisu the other night. I wasn't too excited about it - I like tiramisu, but am not insane for it. And putting it together I just didn't see how it was going to be that great. Natty and I tried the ladyfingers and they weren't very yummy, the marscapone has a fabulous mouth feel but not a dessert flavor, and the coffee, egg whites and sugar didn't seem like they could pull it all together. But I went ahead and did the whole thing (including whipping the cream and egg whites by hand - not as hard as it sounds) and layered it, stuck it in the fridge for the 24 hrs and served some last night. Oh. My. Goodness. Amazingly good - just shocking. The sum is much, much greater than the parts. I went on to eat some for breakfast and more for an after work snack. It's a dessert that's worth making at home. Go on - make it. You'll be glad you did. 

Parenthood continues to keep us on our toes (pulling our hair out?). Natty is excited to have her cousins come to Marmee and Poppa's this weekend. We might be planting daffodils if the weather cooperates - whatever we do it will be fun to celebrate Lindsey, Phoebe and SooJin's birthdays with everyone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A star is born

Natty has been begging to take ballet classes for awhile and we promised her that when we moved to CT she would go. So last Thursday I saw a dance studio and we went in to check it out. Some 6-7 yr olds were having a class and Natty was entranced. I signed her up right then - both of us were so excited. She told everyone we saw all week about it.

Monday was my "Saturday" so we went and bought her outfit - leotard with skirt, tights and ballet slippers. She was beside herself. Practicing twirls in the store as she tried on the shoes. The sales lady was so sweet which I loved and appreciated. She took Natty's excitement seriously, made it a big deal and made sure she got the right stuff (which I, having never taken ballet except as a PE credit in college where I was an elephant among swans, didn't feel qualified to do).

As soon as we got home she had to put the whole outfit on "so Daddy can see" never mind that Murray wasn't due home for 4 hrs. So she twirled around the house all in a 3 year old flutter until he came and made the obligatory oooohs and aaaaaahs. And they danced together! So cute I could die. Murray took some pictures of the glowing ballerina, but I can't download them since we uploaded the new iLife/iPhoto program. Grrrrr. (I've been tinkering with it all week and no cigar so I thought I'd just post this anyway)

Wednesday was the first day of ballet class. Work is cramping my style a bit - I couldn't come to The First Ballet Class because class starts at 3 and I get off at 3:30. Thankfully Murray could take her there and get her dressed (although I worry about men and tights - there's a trick to getting them on a wriggling little girl. But he is full of surprises and had no trouble). Sadly - shockingly- he wasn't allowed to stay and watch. So he came back to the hospital with the car and I picked her up after she was finished. Which really was fun - a stream of pink tutued little girls came out and there she was in the middle, beaming at me! She showed me what she learned right there in the seating area. We're not talking about it too much but, you know, she's gifted. 

It is really cool that her cousin Sophia is also just starting ballet classes - and just as enthralled. They had a cute Skype call about ballet.

After the ballet class we had another fun event - an informal ultrasound with a CNM I had started my care with (I'm transferring up to a bigger hospital where I can do a trial of labor for a VBAC). We were chatting on the unit that morning and she invited me down to her office for a peek. All is going good - and it's a boy! Any boy name ideas?

Monday, September 8, 2008


It's Monday morning. We took Murray to work and now are enjoying a Jen style morning. Still in nightie (Natty) with a second cup of coffee (Jen), watching a movie (Natty) and playing on the computer (Jen) - both of us sitting in the morning sun streaming in the window. Aaaah.

I got more done in the mornings when Murray "the morning man" was at home, but I love my peaceful mornings. My family used to call me a grump in the mornings, to which I always replied that I was in a great mood until someone talked to me. Thankfully, I've moved beyond that response. Funny how a husband can knock some rough edges off that sisters can't touch.

Sunday we went to the Corn Maze here in Pomfret. Absolutely hysterical. It is a maze made out of growing corn that covers 7 acres. All the shivery issues of being lost in cornfield - but there's a map and activities to keep kids focused. The Lynrd Skynrd booming out over loudspeakers really was the crowning touch. The Boston Buttners are coming down next weekend and we're all going back. I tried to take some pictures on Murray's phone, but haven't downloaded them yet. I'll add those later. 

We took the above pictures at sunset last night. They are the driveway and barn on the property where we live.

Natty's video is over so it's time to get dressed and face the day. Have a good one.  

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back to work

This week has been "welcome to the real world." And we've survived. 
Natty went to school 6-8 hrs a day, all 4 days and liked it - although the hug tonight when I picked her up was a long, tight one. She enjoys school and they do neat projects - today all the kids brought in an ingredient for soup and they ate it for lunch. Kind of a "Stone Soup" idea. She was very excited about the zucchini she brought to add. 

I have started my orientation with a month working day shift so I go into work at 6:45 am. Then Murray drops Natty off on his way to work - between 8-9 and I pick her up when I get off at 3:30. RNs at Day Kimball Hospital work 8 hr shifts, which is new for me and I really like it. Very civilized hours.

Going back to work has been fun for me. I had to do computer modules for a total of 4 days and that was soul-sapping. But then I got onto the floor and it was like discovering a box of clothes that have been in storage for a long time and you remember how much you liked them and, hurrah! they still fit! The nurse precepting me and I went into a delivery right off the bat my first morning and things just kept going along from there. It's all coming back to me. I still need to do a lot of studying, but the basics are firm. To continue the clothes analogy, there are some things that are old irritations ("I always meant to change those buttons" or "the length of that skirt was never quite right") but I'll cope with them - I did before. 

Murray's work is also the same but different. It's a busy practice, taking over from a "old school" MD who has practiced here for 45 yrs, has a huge patient load and no chart notes! I guess he just knew everyone so well he didn't need them. Murray is bemused, having always felt that his own chart notes were pretty minimal. Following someone who took minimalism to a whole new level makes him feel better about his documentation. 

Natty and I are getting used to not having him around as much.  And there's the familiar 5 o'clock phone call he makes every evening to touch base and give an ETA. After chaffing at having him so much in my space at the beginning of the sabbatical, now I miss him zooming around the house. We're both so grateful we were able to spend some great time together and happy that we took the opportunity when we could. Highly recommend it (but maybe don't go to the most expensive city in the world when the exchange rate is at it's worst - just some friendly advice from those who've been there).

What do you think of the new blog? Let me know. I still haven't figured it all out but I'll keep working on it. The previous one was a little unwieldy so I thought I'd try another - we'll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blueberries for Natty and other Buttner adventures

Monday we went blueberry picking to celebrate Labor Day. It was fabulous. We had been once before we went to Alaska and thought it was the end of the season, but these bushes were still laden with fruit. It's like picking grapes! Or how I imagine picking grapes anyway. Big berries, at standing level, in clusters. So sweet and yummy - I was in heaven. We picked for 40 minutes (eating a lot) and got at least a gallon and a half. How have I gotten to be 36 years old without knowing there are blueberry bushes like this? Well, now I know. Fortunately, our freezer is miniscule and I started work for earnest on Tuesday so I won't turn out like the blueberry girl in "Charley and The Chocolate Factory." Greedy. 

Continuing on the food theme (or rather, backtracking): Saturday we went to the Woodstock Fair. At the end of the day I felt like "The Very Hungry Catepillar" after his binge eating. Murray and I ate: One portion of Ray's Fries, one cannoli, one bratwurst and Sourkraut, one piece of pizza (bought for Natty but she didn't eat much of it - too excited) and one bag of Kettle PopCorn. Then we weren't hungry any more. Too bad we didn't have a nice green leaf to settle our tummies. 
Natty went on a lot of great kiddie rides, including a merry-go-round, a petite rollercoaster, the bouncy castle and many more. She loved them! Murray went on most with her, even though he doesn't like rides, and I went on a few too (pregnancy is a contraindication for most of the rides, even the kiddie ones - go figure. I didn't fit in them anyway). The carnival area is always so surreal. I can't stand it but keep getting sucked in - I always wonder about the ride operators - what kind of short story they'd be in.
We moved to the agricultural area and saw some little kids showing their prize calves - very, very cute. And got to pet a 16 hr old calf. And saw lots of bunnies, chickens and sheep. We watched a cattle pull - which is not that interesting after a few pulls. They hitch the team up, pull the sled about 10 feet, unhitch them, a tractor yanks it back to the start and another team gets hitched up. Now, I'm not saying it wasn't heavy - I couldn't have pulled it - but the process didn't have much drama.  It does give one a clear understanding of how tractors replaced animal labor however.
The horse show was more interesting - and we caught a "period costume" competition. The riders (all women) were riding sidesaddle in pretty dresses. Riding sidesaddle looks precarious to me, so that had some drama. And the pretty horses and pretty dresses got us all ooohing and ahing. 
Since I hadn't been to the AK State Fair in years, going to a fair was overdue and really fun. We all had a great time and are full up until next year. 
A tangential thought that struck me at the fair is how ethnically monoculture this area is. Anchorage isn't exactly NYC, but it's pretty diverse for it's size, and I was expecting at least some ethnic food at the fair. They did have a Thai food stand in with the usual corn dogs and funnel cakes, but that was the extent of it. Interesting. When we pointed it out to a friend who lives here they agreed that the pickings are slim - but this area is rich in pizza places! Pretty funny.
Driving to pick Murray up tonight I decided that a good way to describe NE CT is that it's like an American Shire. It's not an English shire - too sprawling and not tidy enough - but pretty and pastoral with sweet nooks and crannies. Stone walls, green fields and pretty farmhouses. 
After we got back home we went on a walk on the Audabon trail right behind our house  - wandering through a forest with big, grey shelf rocks, crumbling stone walls and beautiful trees. What a lovely place. We're very happy in our little farm cottage. We don't know how long we'll be in this house, but it's cozy and convenient and we're enjoying it for now.