Monday, May 30, 2005

House Hunting

Well, we haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but we've been really busy looking for houses. Besides, we know everyone just wants pictures of Gabriel, and we still don't have a camera cable to replace the one he ate.

Anyway, we put in a bid on a house today, so we will find out tomorrow what the sellers think of it. Our closing in Ann Arbor is on 13 June, so we'll be up there next week for that. We'd like to be in a new house by the middle of July. It will be Gabriel's birthday present, maybe.

Gabriel is growing so quickly. He hardly uses his walker anymore, because he can get closer to things if he crawls over and stands up on them. He slept for 10 hours straight last night, but it's looking like he's going to be up all night tonight. Right now, he is jumping up and down on his bed, holding on to the rail. He's shaking his head like a weirdo and laughing about it. He's also pushing his face against the mesh and trying to lick his mommy's face and then jumping up and looking down at her, laughing. He needs to get to sleep!

We saw that the Miss Universe pageant is live in Thailand. We really miss it there. Even though we were glad to come home to our comforts (like a bed without ants and a familiar bathroom), we have missed it so much ever since we got back. Our plan is to go back there for our 5 year anniversary, if we can wait that long.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

To the Garden! Twice.

Today seemed to be dedicated to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. We're doing our best to get everything we can out of our membership and I have to say we're doing a pretty darn good job of it. Today was playgroup for Patty and Gabe and for something different the group decided to meet at the Botanical Garden. Today it was just Patty and Gabe, Diana and Jake, and Maria and Zoe and they all had a great time exploring the Children's Garden. They found some impressive bullfrogs and some that were still in the tadpole stage. They were all enjoying things so much that they ran over the normal playgroup end time of 4:00 and didn't break things up until 4:45. On such a beautiful day, who could blame them?

That made things interesting, however, because Matt's softball game was at 6:00. Of course traffic decided not to cooperate, it never does when time is short. Matt started the game wearing his khaki work pants (Matt would like to point out that they were actually stone color, not khaki tan) and his brown cap-toed work shoes. Even though the mighty Intimidators started out down by a six runs after the first inning to the boys from Flight Test, they battled their way back behind a massive fourth inning. Matt was the last run across the plate in the sixth inning when the team had scored enough runs to invoke the "12 runs after 6 inning" mercy rule. For the day, Matt was three for three with two singles, a double, two walks, one RBI and three runs scored. The final was 19-7 and it turned out to be a really fun game, especially after Matt got a chance to change into shorts and cleats during the third inning (Patty and Gabe made it in time for the game, Matt just didn't get a chance to change until then). It felt really good to win again and even our record at three and three. The first half of the season is now over and we'll start the second next week.

After the game the Angles boogied back down to Midtown to go back to the Botanical Gardens. Why? Well, because it's the last Wednesday of the month! Every month on the last Wednesday the Gardens has Cocktails in the Garden and they stay open until 9:00. It costs six dollars for members even to get in, but that price includes one free cocktail and free munchies. Tonight they featured a drink called the "Loose Caboose" in honor of the train exhibit going on there right now. The food was some really tasty shrimp and one of our favorite desserts in the entire city: chocolate soup from Soto Soto! The chocolate soup alone would have been more than worth the $6! Mmmm... chocolate soup... garlgarlgarl...

Before we left Patty wanted to show Matt where she and Gabe had hung out over in the Children's Garden. We walked up to the entrance to it (it's sort of separated from the rest of the ABG) and the gate was closed. We went to the front desk and asked if it was closed, but the woman there said no and that we should go over if we wanted, only to be careful because the lighting isn't very good over there. As we were crossing the bridge over the parking lot (it's like a kiddie overpass), the high-strung security guard that we had noticed earlier barking orders into his walkie-talkie saw us and yelled brusquely up from the parking lot that the Children's Garden was closed. Matt answered, loudly, that that was not what they had told us at the front desk. The guard went off to check and Patty and Matt went on their way, shrugging their shoulders. We breezed through, checking on the frogs (still there) and were on our way out when the guard materialized. Matt had bet Patty that he wouldn't apologize to us if we saw him again and Matt now owes some money to his wife. He turned out to be really nice and told us that the woman at the desk wasn't aware that there was virtually no lighting in that part of the ABG and they had decided to close it so no one would get hurt. He didn't order us to leave or anything, but we were already on our way out and didn't want to press our luck. The whole experience made us chuckle.

Patty and Matt have really found themselves exhausted the past couple of days and it has hit us quite hard today. After getting home we pretty much only did the basics (all involving Gabe) and are ready to hit the bed. Gabe has been waking at strange times during the night and throwing off everyone's sleep schedule, which is making for a lot of drooping eyes around the Angle household. Matt had to resort to *gasp* chocolate during the day at work today to give him a shot of energy. We know that things will settle down eventually, but we've got a lot of work to do before we get there. We're looking forward to it, actually.

Sorry that we still are unable to put up any pictures. Matt looked at the USB cable that Chip decided to bite with the eye of an electrical systems corrective action engineer and noticed that the little chomper even bit through the metal shielding that wraps the actual wires inside the cable. Very impressive! Rest assured that we are still taking pictures and will post them as soon as we can get a new cable.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

No Photos

Well, we won't be posting photos tonight. Our little hamster crawled under the desk and chewed through the camera cable. Guess we should buy him some chewtoys...

The little guy had quite a day today, so we're going to take the opportunity while he is sleeping to relax in the living room for a while. We'll have lots to blog about tomorrow - playgroup, softball, and social irrigation.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Our Little Rock Star

GL 23May05

It’s getting to be Hotlanta season. The temperature was up to 87°, but it was so breezy that it really didn’t feel too hot. Patty took Chip across the street to Midcity Café and had a couple of espressos. They spent a long time sitting out on the sidewalk watching the people and cars go by.

Feeding a squirrel

Later, they went out to Piedmont Park. The goal was for P to get a run in, but G had other ideas. After the run, he made it quite clear that he wanted to get out of the stroller and play for a while. He had lots of fun feeding the squirrels, and they got pretty close, as you can see in the photo.


Gabriel has been getting pretty skinny, we think, so we have been trying to get him to eat more at mealtimes, since we don’t like for him to snack between meals for health reasons. He ate a pretty big dinner, and his tummy got huge.

Gabe's spiked hair

He was so dirty from crawling in the dirt at the park that Daddy gave him a bath after dinner. He also styled his hair. We call this style "Billy Idol": see for yourself!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Trinity of Bread

P&G at bonsai show

We started out today by walking to the Botanical Garden to see the bonsai show (check out the shorts that were small even before pregnancy!). There were a lot of beautiful bonsai there, but we aren’t going to buy another one until we have a house and can keep it outside. We also stopped by the pond to see the bullfrogs and the Locomotion exhibit to watch the trains. Gabriel was enthralled. When he sat on Mommy’s shoulders, he could see the trains on the high tracks.

Patty had to tutor, so we walked back to the apartment. It was a total of about 5 miles. Somehow, it was uphill both ways. We couldn’t figure that out.

For dinner, we had chicken curry and rice with fish sauce again, because we had leftover curry sauce. We threw the sauce and a lot of onion in the wok, added the chicken, and cut a couple of rat s*!% peppers for the fish sauce. It was a pretty spicy dinner. In fact, we had to practice some pretty extreme kitchen sanitary rules, because if those peppers come into contact with anything, even a tiny bit of the oil can burn your lip or eye. Gabriel had eggplant with pear juice (which he didn’t eat), melon with wheat cereal (which he liked), chicken, and carrots for dinner. He was pretty cranky when we tried to get him to eat the eggplant, so by the time he got to the carrots, he was pretty fed up (with us). Matt finally gave up on the meal and held him until he drifted off to sleep.

A trinity of bread

In a happy coicidence, on Trinity Sunday, we made a trinity of bread. From the front: nutty hearth bread with flax, organic cracked wheat, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds; braided challah with poppy seeds; and basic hearth bread. The nutty bread was sort of a take-off we invented, and the challah rose so much that the braid sort of came out, but they all look really good, we think. Each has its own distinct smell. The challah smells like eggs, the nutty bread smells nutty (duh!), and the other hearth bread smells like flour and yeast. We are going to turn doughy with all the bread we have to eat!

A very lifelike toy

Yesterday, while Patty was at the gym, Matt found Gabriel in his toy box. He must have had a hard time reaching something and decided to crawl in. He’s getting more and more adventurous with the standing, climbing, and cruising.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cheeseburgers in Paradise

How d'ya like them apples?

It was a rainy day today in Atlanta. We spent the early afternoon working on bread, but then we went out to Your Dekalb Farmers Market and Whole Foods to get Gabriel food. At the farmers’ market, we got fruit and sweet potatoes for the Chipster and Thai chilis, Thai rice, and nuts and grains for bread for us. At Whole Foods, we got meat for Chip and a few things for ourselves, including a bottle of Chard-No-Way as a special treat, since it was on sale.

We drove around the city of Decatur to look at houses for sale, just to see what the prices were like. We found East Lake, an area that is being gentrified. It was an interesting mix of lower-income folks and lots of young families renovating big old houses. It looked like it could be a good place for a family and a place where the home values will probably skyrocket in the next few years, even though they’re pretty high right now. We’re thinking that we might rather go for a bigger house on a bigger piece of land a little removed from the city, but we’re going to consider all of our options.

Speaking of our home, it looks like our closing will be on the 13th of June. That means that we’ll be going back there somewhere around the 8th, in less than 3 weeks, to pack up. We’ll stay through the 19th, because Laura is having her graduation, and Katie and Billy are celebrating theirs.

G's cheeseburger

Not thrilled about the burger

Nice buns

For dinner, we had burgers and corn on the cob. Even Gabriel had a cheeseburger and corn. Well, we broke it into tiny pieces, but he would only eat one little taste and refused the rest. He wouldn’t even eat the corn after we snuck a piece of meat into it, and he normally eats it right up. Finally, we fed him a banana and a jar of veggies and pasta. We were so excited to try to feed him normal food, but it looks like it will be a little while before he is ready to eat anything new. We thought our dinner was good, anyway. We had homemade poppyseed buns on the burgers, and they were fantastic.

The offer we did for the free PSP deal was to join BMG – you know, buy 3 CDs and get 500 free. We chose it because we will only have to buy 1 CD and pay for shipping and handling on 11 otherwise free ones. Anyway, we got our first 7 free ones today. We got Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison; Barenaked Ladies, Everything to Everyone; Ibrahim Ferrer, Buena Vista Social Club Presents; Franz Ferdinand, self-titled; Garden State soundtrack; Thelonius Monk, Mysterioso; and Miles Davis, Milestones (how clever is that?!). We realized that we already have Milestones, so we’re going to try to return it and get something else. We listened to all of them except Miles, and they are all great. The Cash CD is just one of the best things we have EVER heard. Everyone should have this recording. Even the liner notes are great.

Gabe's Ten Month Birthday!!

Gabe at ten months

Today was Gabriel’s 10 month birthday. He spent it practicing for the day, very soon, when he will start walking. Patty was talking to Laura on the phone in the kitchen and heard Gabriel come up behind her and bang on the open dishwasher door. She didn’t think anything of it, because she for some reason thought he was in his walker. When she turned around, she realized that he was, in fact, standing there. He’d crawled over from the living room and pulled himself up. He is getting really good at sitting up and standing up on his own. Just today, we found him standing in the living room by his toybox, by his swing, moving between the two, holding on to the swinging chair of the swing and keeping his balance, the dishwasher, and the bookshelf – all without our help and most without our presence.

He has a way of reaching milestones on his birthday. Today, in addition to the advanced crawling and standing skills, he slept really well. He slept soundly through most of the morning, went down for naps relatively well (still not as well as he could, but good for him), and fell asleep pretty quickly at night. He was a lot of fun today.

When Patty got back from tutoring, she found Gabriel in his highchair in the kitchen watching his daddy make brownies for his birthday. We have found lately that he is happy sitting in his stroller or high chair when he is near us. He seems to be happiest just hanging out near us and likes to talk and play with us, as opposed to when he’s able to crawl around and play on his own. It’s nice to be able to put him in the stroller a few minutes before we actually walk out the door while we finish gathering diaper bag, phone, camera, and keys; use the bathroom; put on our shoes; etc.

He still has a runny nose and we think that everything we own now has a nice coating of his nose goo. It doesn’t seem to be getting better. At least he isn’t really complaining (except when he tries to pick his nose and we won’t let him) and he doesn’t have any other symptoms.

Love turkey

Patty got a message from her sliced turkey today. It said, "Love."

We are beginning to plan what to do with our house money. We are going to pay off some credit cards for sure, but we think that we are also going to buy a car. Ours is ridiculous for a family, it’s all slashed up inside and out from break-ins, and the lease runs out soon, anyway. We have to actually put Gabriel in standing up on the floor, climb in after him, and put him in the car seat. We do that all in reverse to get him out. And forget about parking on the street, because then we have to climb out while holding him from the passenger side, which is nearly impossible because we have to squeeze between the car seat and the passenger seat while trying not to bump his head on the door frame. Sometimes we actually succeed. Anyway, we welcome suggestions. We’re thinking that we want an SUV of some sort with 4-wheel drive, a good-sized engine, automatic (need that other hand for discipline!), and either white or silver. No more blue; 2 blue cars in a row is enough for us for a while. No black, either – we’d have to actually wash it. Anyhow, there’s no point in really planning until we actually have the money.

Two breads in the works – rustic and challah.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Take a Deep Breath...

This is a long one! We obviously don't subscribe to the "shorter is better" philosophy of blogging. This has become sort of a journal for us and a place for us to document everything. We'll try harder to put in some short ones once in a while to give everyone a break, but we do like to talk!!!

P and G

Oh, what a busy day to have after only 4 hours of sleep! Let’s start at the beginning. After receiving 2 offers on our home in Ann Arbor last night, we had a hard time getting to sleep. So did Gabriel. When we finally got to sleep, it was only a couple of hours before he was awake again and expecting to eat. We decided that since he is having a harder and harder time staying asleep at night and eating more and more frequently, he needed to cry it out this one time and get himself back to sleep. Besides, there was no reason he should have been hungry yet. After one long hour of crying, he went back to sleep. M dozed a little during that time, and P played games on the computer and tried not to pull her hair out. Of course, about 5 minutes after he got to sleep, the alarm went off and we hit snooze a couple of times before Patty accidentally turned it off. We got some sleep then, but someone was very late for work.

P couldn’t sleep in past 10:00 though, because we had to get our paperwork in to Chris, our family friend who is acting as our listing agent. Besides, Matt would be back soon to bring us the car for playgroup at church. We got the paperwork in and accepted the offer from the bidders who were exactly who we’d hoped for. These are people who’d bid on a house down the street last week and lost. When they saw our house and learned that they could afford it, the woman actually cried. They are in love with the house and are eager to move in and start their family. They wrote us a beautiful letter with their bid and told us about themselves and why they want the house. He is a carpenter who works for a company that does renovations on historical houses, so they are excited to do a lot of beautification to our house.

Theirs was actually the lower offer of the two (Chris actually had to turn away other prospective buyers because these offers were to expire before they’d get a chance to bid), but other aspects of the offer were far more attractive to us. The other bidders were the next door neighbors, who wanted to buy the house just so they could have the driveway and garage to themselves because they like to own things and don’t have much consideration for the Old West Side community and the family values that are prevalent there. They’d planned to rent out the house, which would have broken our hearts. Anyway, this lower offer was much more than we’d expected, and it was certainly enough for us to have a very large profit and use the money to get ourselves off to the great start we hadn’t had before. Besides, it was only $3k less than the other offer.

Like we said, this is going to be a really great start for us. We’d married and had Gabriel while we were mired in debt, and with Patty staying at home, we really had no way to save any money, or even to stay afloat. With the profit from this house, we will have something we haven’t had before: options.

Gabriel, Patrick, and their plastic cups

So this house stuff isn’t the only thing we had on our minds today. It was a busy day for the Angle men: Gabriel had playgroup, and Matthew had a softball game. Playgroup was really fun, and Gabriel got to play with his friend Patrick, who was dressed surprisingly like him. They had a lot of fun playing with plastic cups in the midst of a lot of great toys.

The softball game didn’t go quite so well. Matt was 1-for-2 with a walk (not counted as a hit or an at-bat), a single, and an RBI. He also had 2 put-outs at first. The Intimidators lost to Reheat (a remake of the old Heat team) with a score of 10-3.

Chip’s new high chair

Our little prince

Gabriel and Patty got presents today. Dad A and Gail sent Gabriel a new high chair, which you can see in the photos by itself and in use, and they sent Patty a beautiful book called 100 Promises to My Baby by Mallika Chopra. It’s they way that this woman (Deepak’s daughter) found to sort out the things she wanted to teach her baby and the way she wanted to parent. This is something that we talk about all the time – how we want to approach future problems, how we want to act in this or that situation, how we want to encourage Gabriel to approach life… we enjoy talking about these things now, because not only will we be prepared later, but we also like to imagine what he’s going to be like in the future.

We had a great homemade dinner of chicken curry and salads, we got Gabriel off to sleep earlier than usual, and we’re going to be in bed by midnight. Although it was a very busy day, it was a good one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Available: Good Home to Good Folks

It looks like we have buyers for our home. The "for sale" sign was barely in the ground yesterday before people were inquiring about it. Anyway, the offers were in today, and we are going to accept one first thing in the morning. Because it isn't technically a done deal, we won't say any more about it right now. Suffice it to say that though it seems impossible, this is going to be a situation in which everyone (except maybe the losing bidders) is going to be very happy.

Gabriel standing

Look Ma, one hand!

That consumed most of our time, energy, and thought today, but Gabriel, having no understanding of the importance of this subject, continued to do his own thing. That "own thing" involved spreading books over as much of the floor of our apartment as he could until he ran out of books, wiping what little of the floor remained uncovered with his belly, sticking to his mommy like white on rice for much of the day despite her efforts to get him to take a nap, and getting up and walking around on his walker all by himself.

After living extremely frugally these past few weeks, we decided to celebrate our house decision by going to Starbucks for a treat. We went over all of the paperwork for the offers, while Gabriel flirted with the co-eds at the next table. The attention inspired him to be very vocal in the cafë, and we loved hearing the happy talk and laughter.

Dad A called and said that Gabriel's high chair should be arriving tomorrow, so we are very excited about that. It's the one that we picked out at Ikea but was out of stock. He and Gail found it last week and have sent it to us. It will be very nice to be able to sit up straight while we feed him. We have been sitting on the floor with him in his walker, and when we do sit in a seat, we have to bend over and get a backache. We are also excited to put his little velour cover on the seat for le petit prince.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Nice Night for a Walk

Gabriel and Daddy playing

The most notable thing that we did today was to go for a nice long walk through Midtown. We walked up to Piedmont Park and through it, and went through the neighborhood between there and our apartment, as opposed to going down the main streets. It was probably about 3 miles total. The weather was beautiful - probably about 65°F.

The house was listed today, although we don't have the heart to look it up on We know that we are doing the right thing, but it's still difficult. On the bright side, as soon as we sell the house, we can find a new one down here, and we think that will be really fun.

Gabriel actually crawled into his toy box today, and he nearly crawled out of his bed. Fortunately, we were right there to rescue him both times. We have started an exhausting nighttime routine where we put him in bed lying down, he stands up, we lay him back down, he stands up, we lay him back down... you get the idea. Oh, the ways he learns to push our endurance! So far, we're staying patient and remembering that he needs lots of repetition to learn anything, but he's seriously cutting into our nightcap time!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Gabe Cruises and Happy Birthday, Billy!!

We found ourselves without any obligations today, for once, so we decided to take it slow. Gabe is still a bit under the weather, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for him to rest up. He seems to have a very low grade temperature that goes away when we give him Tylenol and his nose is running constantly. He took a super-long nap today and hasn’t been eating quite as much, things that he will only do when he’s not feeling quite right. Clearly, this is playgroup’s fault. He’s handling it well though and isn’t complaining at all. He is his usual gregarious self.

That fact was demonstrated to us today as Gabriel did something for the first time. This morning he was crawling around on the floor as he often does. He crawled over to his walker and pulled himself to a standing position. This isn’t unusual for him anymore, even though we still think it’s pretty amazing, standing while holding on to something is old hat for our little almost-ten month old. After standing for a few seconds while grabbing onto the walker, Gabriel started pushing it around!! This is the first time that Gabe has taken steps while not in a walker (at least as far as we know, who knows what the Chipster does when we’re not looking). He cruised all the way from the living room through the kitchen and into the bedroom. He seemed pretty stable and he seemed to really be enjoying himself. We think that it won’t be long before he’s walking unassisted.

Patty thought it was time that Matt started baking some bread of his own since there is plenty of flour to go around. The experienced baker walked Matt through the steps of making Alton Brown’s Very Basic Bread, the very first bread Patty made. It came out pretty tasty if we do say so ourselves. Here’s the picture evidence to prove that Matt can make more than white chocolate pudding:

Matty’s first bread

We managed to watch Raging Bull in only three sessions, as opposed to the 10 or 11 that it took for us to watch Ray. We gave a very solid 54 (out of 64, natch) to this early Scorsese work. We thought the acting was outstanding, DeNiro good as always but also an impressive debut for everybody’s favorite Goodfella Joe Pesci. The movie could have scored higher, but it really was a downer. Jake LaMotta was not a nice man, nor was he a very good comedian, apparently. Kid could box, though, couldn’t he? We’re not sure we’ve seen Detroit mentioned so often in a movie since Robocop.

We want to wish Billy a very happy 18th birthday. It’s really hard for us to believe he’s a real, live adult now and could realistically go to jail if he ever did something wrong. Not that he would. We hope he has a great birthday and forgets for a moment the responsibilities that come with the age. Now get out there and vote, Billy!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

War and Baptism

Today went quickly. Our friends Camille and Paul baptised their daughter, Morgan, today, so we went out to Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers to get a present. Normally, it's a place where we want to spend a lot of time, but we didn't have much time today. We bought a little rosary bracelet and prayer card at the Abbey Store for Morgan and browsed the bonsai garden but didn't buy one. They are very well known for their bonsai (is that plural?) and have a beautiful collection of trees that aren't for sale but are very inspiring and make one want to learn the art.

We stopped at the apartment to change our clothes, and Jack called. He said that he's been volunteering for missions occasionally, to break the monotony because it gets quite boring, even though he's always busy. He hasn't shot anyone yet, but he's been close when they charge the checkpoint in their cars. They have a routine of procedures to go through when a car is approaching, including signs, hand signals, flashing lights, and shooting out the tires, but sometimes none of that works and they have to shoot the people. There have been attempted suicide bombers at the checkpoints, so there is good reason why they should stop the cars. They also occasionally find IEDs (improvised explosive devices) but have thus far disarmed them before they've exploded.

He said that morale is mostly good and that he's fine. They have everything they need there and have a building where they can go to play darts or get baby wipes or other necessities. They stock that building with things that are sent to “any soldier” or “any Marine,” which, by the way, are not the same thing.

Everything we’ve read says that letters and packages to “any” aren’t allowed, but Jack said that there are two ways that you can actually do it. The first is to send a postcard so that it can be read before delivery. The other is to address it to the attention of a specific person but to address it to “any Marine.” That way, there is a specific name on it, and they can tell that it’s legitimate.

Jack’s gotten a bunch of postcards and had been writing back some middle schoolers from Colorado before he called. He said that a lot of them say to write back, so he does. We think they must be soooo excited to get a response! He said that they are really cute and that one said something like, “I would like a career in music because I have really good skills in hip-hop.” By the way, we asked him if the party stores in Iraq are owned by white guys there. He laughed.

Monsignor Kenny did the baptism, and the mass was very nice despite the fussy baby we had to take outside the sanctuary 3 times. Even though he was very vocal, lots of people told us that he is beautiful. We think so too, and we think that his beauty starts on the inside.

The reception at the Keslers’ was nice. We knew a few people there and met lots of others. It’s very easy to be someplace where we don’t know anyone, because Gabriel always provides a topic for conversation. We ate dinner there and left around 9:00 pm.

Mom and Dad K, Mom A and Nick, Grandpa, and Roy went over to the house to help clean and clean out some boxes so that it will show better. Dad K went back to spend the night and do some painting. We are so grateful for everything everyone is doing. We are also filled with anxiety about putting it on the market and hope that this all works out for the best. We’re certain that things happen for a reason and that we will be happy in our new home, wherever that happens to be.

Friday, May 13, 2005

An Afternoon in the Garden

Ready to go

We decided to meet after work at the Botanical Garden, since it was a nice day. To get a workout, she used the baby carrier instead of the stroller. The new sunshade worked nicely, and Gabriel was in the shade the entire time.

There were lots of bullfrogs outside in a little pond, and we got to watch them "talking," swimming, and watching us. It was a treat, because we've never seen actual bullfrogs before. We've heard them, but they usually hop away before we can see them on our hikes.

After years of trying, we finally found poison dart frogs in the conservatory. There are always some in terraria, but there are also many that roam freely. From the sound of their chirping, there are lots of them, but we've never been able to find one. Today, we found 4 or 5 of them.

We also found a new hallway called the "orangerie," which literally means a greenhouse for orange trees but in this case is a place for all types of foodish trees. There was star anise, coffee, yerba maté, climbing oleander, curaré (a poison/medicine), cinnamon, ginger, vanilla vine, cocoa, curry leaf, bay leaf, annatto (has substance that is used to make cheese orange), and a few others.


By the time we were finished walking around the gardens, the Chipster was fast asleep in his daddy's arms. We had trouble looking at the plants, because we just wanted to watch him sleep. We think he's far more interesting than just about everything, even when he's doing nothing but snoozing.

Caught in the act

Later, Gabriel was playing quietly in the living room - a definite clue that he was up to something. We snuck in and found him pulling tissues out of the box one by one and ripping them to shreds.

He's also been picking his nose a lot lately. He seems to really enjoy it. And that's not all - he has been biting, too. He left a nice marking of 4 teeth on his mommy's leg today at the botanical garden while they were playing in the grass and waiting for Daddy. We think that this just the beginning of many bad habits with which is will be torturing us in the coming years.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Physics Lesson

In case you ever get the urge to put a glass pie pan in a 475° oven and throw a handful of ice cubes in it, don't. Here's what happens:

Hot glass + cold ice

And to think that Patty took thermodynamics twice...

You may have heard about the "free iPod" e-mail giveaways lately. It's the latest rage online. We've read in Popular Science and heard on NPR that this really is legitimate, at least through one particular company. After learning how it works and how it benefits the company, we decided to go ahead and try. The trick is to sign up for one "free" offer and to cancel it before it stops being free. We are going for the photo iPod from home and Matt's going for the Sony PSP (that's PlayStation Portable) from work. There are loopholes and tricks, but we know what they are and if this works, we'll let you in on the secrets. One of them involves a guy who works for the company and hates his job.

Here are a couple of pictures from our nightly playtime before bed:


In the air

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Part Two

Patty got a surprise from Jack today in the mail. It was part two of her birthday present. In addition to several Syrian and Jordanian candy bars, he included a neatly folded American flag and a certificate that says:
This is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown at Task Force Rhino Headquarters During Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06 in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq on 15 April 2005. This flag was flown for Patricia L. Angle
It's signed by SgtMaj A. Johnson and LtCol R. A. DeForest. It's so cool! That was so thoughtful and even more cool than the message in bullets! He put a note in the package that says, "Happy Birthday again! Love, Jack." A big huge thanks to Jack for the awesome present!!! We think that we might want to put it in a flag frame rather than fly it, so it doesn't get destroyed by the weather.

M&G after the game

Gabriel had a very fun day today. At playgroup, he got to swim and play with Jake, Zoe, and Jonah. Later, we all had fun at the softball game. Even though the other team, Security and Fire Services (catchy name, huh?), had to forfeit due to lack of players, they still scrimmaged. Matthew was 2 for 3 with 2 singles and a fly ball to shallow center field. He fielded like a pro, with 4 putouts (no grounders hit right to him).

Here are some pictures from playgroup:

G&Jake:  twins?
Gabriel and Jake: twins?

Gabriel in the pool
Gabriel splashing with a nervous mommy (in a great outfit) watching

G smooching Zoe
Gabriel smooching Zoe

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Get Up, Stand Up

Gabriel at his toy box

Gabriel stood alone today again, but it was the first time he pulled himself up from standing and let go on his own. He stood for at least 5 good, solid seconds. He had pulled himself up on his toy box, reached in for his caboose, and lifted it over his head with both hands. A few minutes later, he stood again and even turned to look at Mommy while he was standing. That's a complex maneuver!

Later, we put him to bed lying down, and the next thing we knew, he was standing up holding on to the edge of his bed and laughing at us. He's getting pretty advanced in his physical ability. He's also losing his chubby little thighs as a result, and that's bittersweet for us. It's fun to watch him grow into a little boy, but we love those thighs!

Tomorrow, Gabriel is going swimming in a kiddie pool at his friend Zoe's house. After that, we're going to Daddy's softball game. It should be a beautiful and fun day.

Today's Tuesday; time for our

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

This is the last one!

Well, it's finally over. We think that our picks for the top three teams at the beginning were the top three at the end. Uchenna and Joyce were a surprise for the win, but they probably deserved it the most. This seemed to be about a lot more than money for them, so we're happy for them.

We thought Rob and Amber were done for when they got lost going to the bridge outside the sugar refinery. How do you get lost with 4 other people going to the same place? They are going to have a great life together anyway, so they don't need the money. We're glad that Ron and Kelly didn't win, either, because they didn't work well together and so weren't the best team.

Well, the next race is for families of 4, so it looks like we're going to have to wait for the next one after that, unless it's something crazy like people with animals or transvestites only or something like that.

Now what are we going to do on Tuesday nights?!

Think Pink

Gabriel's Monday picture, 9 May 2005

Patty got a very generous Mother's Day gift from her mom and dad today - money to be spent on clothes, since she doesn't quite fit into her pre-wedding summer stuff yet (has it been that long since a non-pregnant summer?!), and it was all old anyway, even then. We went up to the North Georgia Outlets to go shopping after Matt got home from work. Pregnancy really changed this female into someone who actually wants to look like a girl! It all started with that flowery maternity skirt with the bow on the side...

Anyway, we went to Banana Republic and picked out three things: a white flouncy skirt that looks sort of like this one, this top, which looks incredible with the skirt, and these pants, which will look great with a slightly cropped white tank. Yes, two pink items of clothing for someone who once would have eaten live maggots before donning pink pants. We tried to find some pink or white strappy sandals at BCBG/Max Azria and Nine West, but there weren't any. The outlets closed, so we didn't get to go to any other stores. That was a bummer, since there are a million shoe places there.

Of course, we would have been able to go to a few more stores, had we not been in line behind a man and woman and their daughter buying $680 worth of clothes! Not only were they the only other people buying something in the store, but they had bags and bags of clothing. The girl behind the only open cash register took her time to carefully fold each individual item, chatting the entire time and taking just as long as she pleased. We almost passed out when she pointed out that "these t-shirts are 3 for $20, but you have two of them and one of the other kind. Would you like to go pick out a third of these?" She made us wait while he picked out the third shirt, coaching him from behind the counter and eventually walking him over there when he chose the wrong type of shirt again. So the process began again while the minutes ticked away and it got closer to 9:00. How on Earth do you find $680 at an outlet store?! How do you even find $680 worth of clothes that you like? Why do you need that many clothes? They had obviously gone on shopping sprees at Stride Rite and one other store which we can't remember, because they had other bags with them. They had bought about 6 pairs of shoes for their little princess. We'd check for a stolen credit card if we were that clerk.

So we finally got to the counter and had our clothes and credit card down before they had even picked up their bags. Up walks a woman asking for directions to some store or other, so the clerk stopped ringing up our items to get out a map and begin directing the woman. We'd had enough. "Could you please just ring us up before you help anyone else?" Patty suggested, "We're in a huge hurry." This didn't speed up the clerk, but it got rid of the woman. Arrrgh!

Matt made Patty promise to shop for herself and not Gabriel. It was a hard promise to keep, since she has been on a search for shoes for him, and there were so many good baby outlets there. We may have to go back this weekend.

By the time we got back to the apartment, it was after 10:00 pm. Gabriel didn't eat well because he'd nursed before we started the drive back, and then he didn't sleep well, either. He didn't nap well today, either. We think that it's either a new tooth or an upset digestive system from the yogurt he ate today... oh yeah, he had his first real serving (not counting a couple of miniscule bits of cheese here and there and a bite of a Dove bar in a certain house in Manassas) of cow's milk when he ate an apple YoBaby yogurt. The yogurt was really tasty - even Mommy had a couple nibbles. Why don't they make apple-flavored yogurt for adults? Anyhow, the little guy didn't get to sleep until almost 1:30 am, which means that there are going to be three very tired people in Atlanta tomorrow.

Still no word from our Atlanta realtor. We may try to get pre-approval elsewhere so we can officially start our house hunt in Georgia.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Happy Mother's Day!

P&G on Mother's Day, 2005

Happy Mother's Day to our moms, grandmas, godmothers, Nancy, Tracey, and all the moms! We had a great time celebrating today. We started out by going to noon mass and stopping at Starbucks on the way back for a special treat - a frappucino for Matthew and a mocha with extra whipped cream and a vanilla almond biscotti for Patricia.

When we got back, there were Mother's Day cards and gifts from Gabriel and his daddy. They gave Patty a great baking sheet and Silpat (which is what every professional chef uses), because she's been having to improvise using brownie pans and a broiler pan. Gabriel even wrote in his own card!

After we had sandwiches (and carrots and a fruit mix for Gabriel) for lunch, we headed up to Allatoona Lake just to hang out by the water. It was in the lower 80s today, so we thought it would be nice to be somewhere refreshing. One website showed that there are hiking and picnic facilities at a place called Riverside Park, so even though there were lots of other parks on the huge lake, we thought this one sounded good for some reason. It is not actually on the lake, but it's on the other side of the huge dam that causes the lake, or technically, reservoir. Fortunately, the web site included GPS coordinates, so we used our GPS receiver to get there and had no problem finding it.

There were lots of families there having picnics. Amazingly, none of them had driven all the way through the parking lot (except the bikers, and they were down by the water) to find a beautiful patch of land above the river that was surrounded by trees on two sides and a rocky overhang behind. We took our blanket, badminton set, diaper bag, and a few other "in-case-ities" and made ourselves at home. It was the most relaxing and beautiful place we've found in a long time. We seem to have a lot of luck finding new amazing places.

Anyway, we played badminton and looked through a couple of real estate guides, at least the pages Gabriel let us have, and when he wasn't reading the real estate guides, Gabriel happily chewed on the keys and tried to eat rocks. He also crawled around until his knees got sore from the rocks, and he practiced standing, too. When it was time to leave, we quickly walked down to the river and then drove to a place where Gabriel and Mommy could toe-test the water (it was cold). Here are some pictures from our fun day:

M&G at our site
M & G at our site

One side of our site
One side of our site - downriver

The other side of our site
The other side of our site - Allatoona Dam

Gabriel eating a cookie
Gabriel chillin' with a cookie (yes, it's organic)

Playing badminton while Gabriel eats the keys
Playing badminton while Gabriel eats the keys

P&G playing
P & G playing

Dirty baby
Dirty baby

After we left the park, we drove around for about 2 hours looking at houses in the west Cobb County (yes, that Cobb County, where the science textbooks have special evolution disclaimer stickers)/south Paulding County areas. We found one house that looked like a dream and is only $190,000. It would be $450,000 in Michigan, easily. We are going to see if a tour of this house is in the cards for us. Speaking of the house situation, we are almost ready to list our home. It will probably go on the market in the next week or so. We are waiting for pre-approval for a new mortgage, at which point we can start looking for our new house. There seem to be many options, but they're all out in the boondocks. We're hoping that we can find one in a place that will be built up soon so that the house values go up by the time we're ready to move to our mansion estate.

So we didn't blog yesterday - let's do that now. We had a really fun day yesterday. We went over to Piedmont Park early in the day, and the Race for the Cure was just winding up and Shakespeare Family Day, part of the annual "Shake at the Lake" event, was just getting started. We got there in time to see the arrival of Queen Elizabeth and some really bad recitations by school kids. Actually, there were one or two kids with a lot of talent, and we're sure the others made their parents very proud, BUT... It would have been neat to stick around for the falconer, but we had to get running because we were expecting company later. We had a pretty good run, doing a figure 8 around the park.

Later, Matt's coworker Clay came over for dinner. He was so kind - he brought over some really tasty wine (white for before dinner, red for with), pate and crackers, and some toys for Gabriel that he just loves. They're a couple of cars that roll but are squishy and bitable - his most important criterion. We made salads, half-pound burgers, corn on the cob, and rolls. The rolls and sesame seed hamburger buns were homemade, of course (and would have been even better on the Silpat and baking sheet!). They turned out pretty well - better than store bought, but not much different in taste. After dinner, we walked over to Marble Slab Creamery for some ice cream and "smushins." We had a blast and haven't been that full in a looong time.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

A Clever Lad

Today was a beautiful day in Atlanta, so we decided to spend as much of it inside as possible. Actually, we had some cleaning and a few errands to run, so we didn't get out to the park. We started by going to Crib It, the children's furniture resale store, but we found that the prices of the used stuff there were the same as the prices of the same things new, and they weren't in great condition anyway. We knew we were in trouble when we saw the nice shiny new cars parked outside.

Ikea is in Atlanta

Sort of across the street from the store, though, is the brand new Ikea that is scheduled to open on 29 June. It looks like the building is completely done, and when we first caught a glimpse of it, Patty nearly fainted from excitement. [Note from Patty: Isn't it beautiful?!!!] It's only about a 5 minute drive from our apartment - entirely walkable. They say that it has parking under the building, but we didn't see an entrance. It must be a clever design, because that would mean less green space (not that there is any in that area) taken up by parking and less walking to get to the store. Maybe they'll have our high chair in stock at this one!

We had to go to Wolf camera to reorder some reprints. The last time we were there, we ordered a ton of reprints, mostly to replace ones we'd given away, and some to send to Jack, but they left out a lot of them. Anyway, we think we paid for them originally, so they comped all of our digital reprints, even the few we added to the order. A few pictures in the original order we'd gotten printed in time to give to Mom A and Grandma and Grandpa, but we forgot to give them to them. Oh well, we'll have to mail them.

Since we were in the area, we decided to check out another resale shop, Sweet Repeats. This one just has clothes, but there were tons of clothes there. They said that they can't even accept all of the things that come in there. It's in a pretty wealthy area, so we figured that there might be some good stuff. We got the Chipster a pair of khaki shorts and two light button-down short-sleeved plaid shirts. We actually passed up a Ralph Lauren outfit - gasp! - because it looked a little too well-loved. We had originally hoped to find shoes there, but there weren't any that we liked in his size.

We stopped at home for Gabriel's lunch and nap, and then we went back out to Whole Foods for some restocking of his shelves. We made him some apples, pears, corn, and turkey to freeze and bought him lots of jarred things, as well. We also had a fantastic dinner for ourselves. We had chicken in a garlic/white wine/fire-roasted tomato sauce with angel hair pasta on the side. We may have to make our own spaghetti sauce from now on. Even the chef had to admit that she was impressed with herself! Matthew followed up dinner with some white chocolate pudding with chopped chocolate chips mixed in, with homemade whipped cream on top. It was the perfect completion of the meal.

Gabriel continued to amaze us today. While we were eating our lunch, we heard him straining to reach something in the kitchen. By the time we got there, he was eating some corn puffs out of a baggie. He had gone to his diaper bag, gotten hold of the baggie (which was probably because he liked the texture of it), somehow gotten it open (it was the foldover type), and was eating his snacks out of the bag. Not only was he clever enough to get those snacks out and figure out that they were food, but he also was feeding himself without our help. Up until now, we laughed when people (family, of course) suggested that he was a super genius. Everyone thinks that about their kids, and it's rarely true. Now we're starting to wonder if they're right, ha ha!

Later, at the store, he was holding the first shirt we were going to buy for him and standing in front of Matt, when Matt let go of him. He stood there long enough to be official. He can stand on his own! He did it again a few minutes later.

Since we put the pillows in his bed, he has been going to sleep on his own - sitting up on his own from lying (which, by the way, is another new ability even though he doesn't seem to be able to do it anywhere other than his bed) and playing with his angel until he gets tired, and then laying down and going to sleep. It's amazing. He's also happier during the day and napping about 2 hours total contrasting with the 3 hours he was unhappily napping before. We can see the difference in his face. Of course, we don't get a nap in the afternoon anymore, because he doesn't nap long enough, but it's a tradeoff we're happy to make.

We apologize for the absence of Gabriel pictures today; we took a couple when he got the snacks out of his bag, but they were with the film camera.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Happy Cinco de Mayo and Happy Birthday Emily!

Where's Gabriel?
Can you find the baby in this picture?

First of all, a big Happy Birthday to Emily, who turned 20 today. We're sure that her friends surprised her with a delightful non-alcoholic punch to celebrate, ha ha.

Yesterday was softball Wednesday. The Intimidators won! Woohoo! Matthew was 1 for 4 but was on base 3 times (twice due to fielder's choice) and had 1 RBI. They won by one run, 9-8, so you could say that the game win was due to our favorite first baseman.

We didn't do anything special for Cinco de Mayo today. We didn't even eat dinner. Patty had to tutor, so it was 9 o'clock before we even got to sit down together.

Gabriel must be going through a growth spurt. His appetite is through the roof, and he has an amazing amount of energy. He's been crawling all over the apartment, and we caught him in an interesting place today, as you can see in the photo. He's also getting more clingy. He follows his parents around everywhere. He seems to be beginning to understand the word "mommy" and uses it often. He calls his daddy "Baba." He likes to show us the things he's holding, and he likes to play tug-of-war with them. He has been leaving a trail of destruction wherever he goes. We will soon have the strongest thighs in the south from all of the squats we've been doing to pick up his books.

Jack called home today to say that he's doing well. He's on a 12-hour night shi ft, and his captain apparently gave them his calling card to call home. He said that he is ready to come home but is in good spirits. It was about 2:00 am for him and 6:00 pm EST.

Since we didn't do this yesterday, here is our weekly

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Only one more week to go!

We thought we'd learned a new strategy from Joyce when she pointed out that direct flights are a better bet, even if there's an earlier flight with a layover, because there are fewer chances for a delay or unexpected setback. However, the teams that took the earlier flight did get there without incident, so we don't know what we would do. Here's the team-by-team breakdown:

Gretchen and Meredith: Well, finally they are out. We're impressed that they made it this far, especially since they'd given up at least 17 times, but the sanskrit was on the wall. And just as they'd stopped giving up...

Uchenna and Joyce: They're working really well as a team and could possibly pass up Ron and Kelly on the next leg. It's hard to believe that they had marital troubles before joining the race. It seems to be doing them a lot of good.

Ron and Kelly: Why is she still clinging to the idea of marrying him when he obviously isn't interested? And why, for the love of Maybelline, did she share lipstick with the woman at the airport counter? We don't know if it's more vain or disgusting, but EEW! They were the first team in all of the seasons we've watched that didn't whine when they were yielded and take it personally. At least there's that.

Rob and Amber: If they don't win, we'll be surprised. Their idea of finding a local person in many of the legs is brilliant. We don't think that anyone else has done that in the game's history.

Stay tuned for the season finale next week!

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Four Generations

Waiting for Grandma

Mom A flew down to Atlanta on Saturday to stay with us for a day before Grandma and Grandpa got here on Sunday. Her flight got in about 2 hours late, because storms here caused delays for the plane to get from Atlanta to Toledo and then again from TOL to ATL. Finally, after spending the entire morning on the plane, she got here safe and sound. Gabriel seemed to remember her right away and was excited to see her. We went to dinner at Figo Pasta, an Italian place with fantastic food and quick service. Since Mom had never had gelato (gasp!), we took her to Paolo's (check out the webcam if it's working) in the Virginia-Highlands neighborhood for dessert to go. Paolo wasn't there that day, but he's quite a character. But that's a different post.

G&Grandma waving

When we got back, Patty started a ciabatta and the two of us went out on the town. Since it was rainy and we were stuffed to the gills with food, we didn't go to Baraonda, our favorite restaurant, like we'd originally planned. Instead, we focused on the drinking. We went across the street to Midcity Cafe, or as we once thought, DCI Cafe, since the "Mi" and "ty" aren't too visible on the sign. It's the best place to find the earth's snobbiest people who have no reason to be. Every time we're there, all the conversation we hear revolves around whom they know and where the happening places are and how [insert place here] is so dead. We actually heard a guy say Saturday night that there's so little to do in Midtown that it's exhausting, poor guy. We like it because it's cute, it has drinks, and it's across the street. After a chocotini (M) and raspberry vodka spritzer (P), we headed over to a new bar a couple blocks over called McCray's 6th Street Tavern. It looked like an older, get-together-with-your-friends-and-drink-away-your-divorce-woes crowd (although the review in the link makes it sound great - maybe we'll have to give it a chance next time), so we turned around and went back to Toast, our friendly but upscale neighborhood restaurant. It's a nice place, small and not too loud, with The Food Network playing behind the bar and both Alton Brown and French Laundry cookbooks on the counter. M had a Manhattan, and P had a Jameson's on the rocks and a Kahlua/white chocolate/heavy cream concoction. We were only gone close to 2 hours, but it was a really nice time. We almost didn't know what to say without a little boy to keep our attention every second, but we happily managed.

Grandpa, Grandma, M, G, and P

On Sunday, G&G Kranz met us at a Cracker Barrel south of the city. Matt drove their car through the most dangerous part of their drive, downtown Atlanta, and we met back at the apartment. We had a nice visit and had a great supper. We got food from Cedars Mediterranean for us and St. Charles Deli for everyone else. Grandpa and Matt went up to Marietta to check into the hotel, while Patty, Grandma, Mom, and Gabriel took a nice walk around the apartment complex and over to Tech Plaza. It was a little cool, but it felt nice in the sun. Grandma and Grandpa were excited to see Gabe Luke, and we could tell that he was happy to see them, too. It was nice to have 4 generations of Kranz blood together at once and funny how strong the family resemblance is.

Gabriel swinging

Monday, we were back to a 3-person family. We met up at the Botanical Garden after work, but they're closed on Mondays (would have been good to know before the 2 mile walk!), so we went to nearby McClatchy Park instead. Gabriel had fun swinging in a baby swing, sliding down the slide, and practicing walking (with Daddy's help, of course).

Today, we had a brainstorm. We'd suspected for a while that Gabriel doesn't sleep well because he is uncomfortable. Yesterday, we'd noticed that it takes very little weight to feel the board under his playard mattress, so he is essentially sleeping on a board. Hmmm... We know that the playards aren't supposed to be permanent beds, but we thought that we could save money by using it that way. Anyway, we couldn't really test our theory, because what else would we put in there? Babies aren't supposed to have pillows, and he doesn't like to sleep with us, nor do we want him to get into that habit. Well, today, we noticed that if we turn them sideways, two pillows fill up his playard nicely. There's a little gap right in the middle, but it's nothing that seems to be a safety hazard. We let him take his naps in there today, and now he is sleeping that way, and it's like a miracle how well he has seemed to sleep today. He fussed for just a few minutes the first time, probably from habit, but after that, he's been really good about falling asleep. In fact, tonight he played in there quietly until he fell asleep like he should have been doing all along. After his naps, he's woken up with a big smile and lots of energy. It's too soon to get too excited, but we'll see how this works in the next couple of days. We are going crib shopping on Friday anyway.

We hear that Grandma, Grandpa, and Mom made it back to Maumee safely this afternoon. Apparently, no one was thrown out of the car, so that's a good sign. G&G like their new place, so again, phew! Also, Jack just e-mailed us to say that he's doing well despite the fact that the pressure is getting to some of the guys and that he's getting out of the camp a couple of times a week and still working out the other days. He intends to get in better shape for his return home but that it would be rude (ha ha) not to eat all the goodies that he's gotten recently from home. He dreams about being home almost every night and tries not to get too upset when he wakes up in Iraq. He says that his morale is good, so we're happy about that. Any number of years ago, we would have said goodbye in February and hello again in September, so we're really privileged to be in so much contact with him.