Friday, April 29, 2005

Choo Choo!

Matthew and Gabriel at Locomotion at the Garden

Today, Gabriel and Mommy met Daddy at Piedmont Park, since it was such a nice warm day. We were going to go running, but when we were walking by the Atlanta Botanical Garden rear gate, it looked like there were tons of families there having a great time. We could hear music and see some model trains, and we figured out that tonight was the members' preview of the Locomotion in the Garden exhibit. It looked really, really neat, and Gabriel loves trains, so we decided to go around the front of the garden and find out what was going on. Patty had some birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, and it seemed like the perfect way to spend some of it would be to get a membership to the garden. That way, for the next year we will always have somewhere to go. Besides, we've talked about doing that for a long time. It's a beautiful place, and on our frequent mommy/son trips to the park, we can go there as well, or instead. The gardens are beautiful, and they have a phenomenal orchid house and a conservatory where poison dart frogs roam free. We are incredibly excited about our membership.

We decided to walk around a bit while we were there, and the Locomotion exhibit was really cool. When we were on our way out, Gabriel was laughing at his mommy's "Choo Choo" noises, and we heard a woman say to her companions, "Did you see that precious boy?" He also had a laughing fit when we were waiting for Matt to change into his running clothes. Almost everyone walking by started laughing too. It was so nice to see how this little boy has the power to bring a good mood to complete strangers who have seen him for only a brief moment. One woman thought it was pretty funny that Patty was teasing Chidip with his water bottle, acting like she was going to give it to him and taking it away at the last second saying, "Just kidding!" We play that game all the time.

Programming note: Everything from here to the end of this post was erased somehow, and we couldn't figure out how to get it back. It was probably about an hour and a half of #$*%#@ work, during which half a shot of tequila was consumed. We'll try our best to get it as it was before, which was perfect by the way, and we'll see if a half a shot of Dutch chocolate vodka can help the old memory... at least it will help the anger!

Anyway... another woman walking by said, "Hey, I recognize you!" We recognized her, too, but we couldn't remember where we'd met her. We think it might have been either church or playgroup at church, but we're not sure. We'll just have to see where we see her next. Since she didn't stop, we figured that she couldn't remember, either.

After we left the ABG, we went back to the park, where we went for a run. It was a shortish run but a good one. We headed back to the apartment for some beef stir fry and some dinner for Gabriel. When we got on the computer, we saw that some of our photos from film, mostly from our trip to Virginia, had been put online by Snapfish. They can be found here.

Gabriel has been getting better at waving, and we're working on teaching him "nose" and "mouth." We'd also like to get "gentle" into his repertoire, as he is fond of touching people in the eye, and most people don't like that. We decided to give his water bottle another try today, since it's been a while since we decided that he wasn't ready for it yet and his doc says that he needs to start drinking water. He really got it this time. He even went over to get it off of his bookshelf and started drinking out of it. He probably drank over an ounce today, which is pretty good for a little guy who's just learning to feed himself! Of course, that isn't including the water he either spit out onto himself or squirted out of the bottle onto himself.

A quick aside: we are proud of Gabriel's friend, Nook Logan, for hitting the game-winning triple for the Tigers in the eleventh inning against the White Sox. Go Nook!!!

Now let's rewind to yesterday. We didn't do too much that was interesting, but Gabriel continues to get quicker and quicker. It's getting harder and harder to keep up with him. He spends a lot of time going from his bookshelf in the living room to his drawer in the bathroom, over and over, leaving behind a trail of books, blocks, and the occasional hanger or bottle of mouthwash. He's so funny.

We two grownups were in the kitchen working on bread (white, sandwich, buttery) and dishes with Gabriel in there with us, when we heard a little bit of a whine. We turned around, and he was lying face down on the concrete floor. He had been reaching for a bag and climbed right out of his walker in the process! He wasn't hurt at all, and we thought it was pretty funny.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Chipster, one reaching for a book on his bookshelf and one climbing out of his walker to get our mail out of the stroller (if only he'd pay the bills). Here is also a picture of the bread that we made together yesterday.

Gabriel reaching for a book on his bookshelf

Gabriel climbing out of his walker to get a block from his shelf

Our yummy buttery sandwich bread

Chicken and Pears

This is audio of Gabriel laughing at his Mommy's funny voices.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just A Quick Post Today

Today wasn't too incredibly thrilling, but there were a few things to write about. The most interesting thing that happened today was that the Chipster had playgroup at his friend Jonah's house. We tried to get a picture, but the batteries went dead - sorry. We will definitely get a picture or two tomorrow, since we haven't put any up in a couple of days. Bear with us! Anyway, the picture would have been great - Gabriel, the two Jonahs, and Jake were all sitting around a bunch of balloons playing with them. They were trying to hold them down and shaking the ribbons. They don't understand sharing yet, but they were all playing together. It was so cute.

Chipdip seems to be all better today. He played on his own much of the evening, walking around and getting his books from the bookshelf and his blocks from the drawer. He waved at us a few times today when we waved at him, and he went to bed without a fuss. Hallelujah!

He had turkey today for the first time, and we made him more squash and Golden Delicious apples. We didn't think to check the price tag on the organic squash at Whole Foods, and it turned out to be $20 for the bagful! It better give him superpowers (we'd settle for the superpower of changing his own diapers).

Tomorrow, we plan to do more cleaning and straightening up both because it really needs to be done and in preparation for Mom A and Grandma and Grandpa Kranz to visit this weekend. We're so excited to see them and for them to get to spend time with Gabriel!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Gabriel is getting better. He didn't have a fever at all today, and he was back to sort of a normal sleep schedule. He is also back to fussing when he is falling asleep, but it isn't as bad as it's been in the past. We continue to hope that he gets to sleep more and more easily. Patty, on the other hand, had a case of exhaustion today for no apparent reason. Maybe there is a tired virus being passed around our household.

We had an initial consulation with a financial advisor today. We are trying to decide what to do with our house and whether we will be able to continue being a one-income household. We need a little help going over all of our options, since we will potentially be making some big decisions here pretty soon. We were pretty happy with the way the interview went and may shop around a bit, but we will likely use the services of someone or other. We really need to start getting smarter about our future. We do prefer to live simply, but we'd like that to be a choice, not a necessity.

It's time once again for our

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

These are getting shorter and shorter!

This week had some interesting challenges. The place where they had the columns task was amazing. We couldn't figure out why it's common to weigh people in the square - is it like a guess-your-weight booth at a carnival? Let's go through the short list of teams:

Uchenna and Joyce: They seem to be getting stronger as a team the longer the race goes on.

Meredith and Gretchen: How are they still in it?! Oh yeah, it's Rob's fault. Because he joked about an earlier flight to Istanbul from Jodhpur, they checked and actually found one, even though R&A and R&K were told by several different agents that there wasn't one. We are proud of Gretchen, but does she have to have a running stream of negative comments? "Oh geez, oh gosh, oh, we're going to lose..." SHUT UP! We keep expecting to see them give up.

Rob and Amber: We thought it was funny how Rob kept talking about how "stupid" U&J and G&M were, and then it was his stupid comment (which seemed like a good idea at the time, even to us) that almost got Ron and Kelly kicked out of the race.

Ron and Kelly: Warning - self-destruct ahead! Does she really think that he intentionally crashed that helicopter, got taken hostage, and nearly killed just because he was afraid of commitment (to the Army)? She really is stupid. They really lucked out today, though, because even though they came in last and had to give up all of their money and possessions, they were not eliminated, got $20,000 to spend on Travelocity, and got to stay in a first class hotel that night. Who needs a backpack when you've got a jacuzzi tub?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Spring Fever

Gabriel's Monday picture 25 April 2005

Gabriel's fever got worse today. He's had it since Saturday, but it was pretty low-grade until this morning. Even his palms were hot, so it was time to take his temperature. We don't like to take it unless we're absolutely sure he needs it, since it involves an unpleasant process... anyway, about 10 minutes after a dose of Tylenol, it was still 101.9°F. He didn't really have any other symptoms, unless you count the runny nose he got when he was crying and trying to get back to sleep. The pediatrician's office said to bring him in, so we took him in at 1:00 pm. Dr. Barfield said that he thinks Chipdip has Roseola, which involves about 3 days of fever and then a rash of red dots. The incubation period would be consistent with the timing of his playgroup last week. There's nothing we can do about it except to continue the Tylenol to control the fever.

We think (and the good doctor disagrees) that another possibility is that he's getting a new tooth. Although the doctor thinks that a fever is not associated with teething, Matt happened to get both a high fever and intestinal distress every time he was getting a new tooth. Chip was doing a lot of sucking and biting on things today, so even if the fever's unrelated, he may be getting a new tooth. Either way, he's such a good sport when he's sick that we are really proud of him.

We got some of our cabinet latches installed today. Gabriel tried to open one of the now-locked drawers and got his little fingers stuck in the drawer. He was so brave, only letting us know that he needed help and getting over it as soon as we picked him up. He's such a trooper.

We went to Whole Foods today and got Gabriel a bunch of food, both raw and jarred, and we got a nice New York strip steak and potatoes (to be mashed) for our dinner. Matthew made perhaps the best seasoned steak frite we've ever had, and he cooked it to perfection. Gabriel really liked the mashed potatoes, as did we, which were pretty garlicky. That's a good sign!

For dessert, the two of us had a little piece of a new loaf of ciabatta. We think that this is the best loaf yet - it came out perfectly. That means that Patty has mastered hearth bread and ciabatta and will be moving on to a new project from the Bread Bible.

Gabriel once again fell asleep like a big boy tonight. Back when he was first born, and up until maybe about a month ago, we thought that parenting was so hard. Everyone said we hadn't seen anything yet and that it only got harder. That wasn't true for us. We think that it's getting better and better. Sure, he is running around and getting into all sorts of things more and more as he gets older, but we can handle that. He's a great little boy, and he's curious and energetic. Those are good things. The sleep problems that he was having were really difficult, and the contrast between the way he has been going to sleep lately and the way it was before is showing us that we weren't imagining things. Now we just hope that he's sleeping well because he's outgrown his issues, not because he's sick! Time will tell...

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Gabriel in his new car seat

We realized that Gabriel reached a milestone: he's now been born longer than he was in utero. Actually, we calculated that he reached that equilibrium on April 14th. About that time, he was outgrowing his baby car seat, and we bought a new one yesterday. It's really nice - wide enough that he can stretch out a little bit, easily adjustable, and a stylish pattern. We were really excited to put it in the Jeep. We also added a pad underneath to protect the seat and hold some toys. He's got a rattle, snacks, and a book in there right now.

The Chipster has been doing so many great new things lately, like sleeping peacefully, waving, clapping when we say, "Yeay!", and dancing, as well as some not-so-great things, like drinking Windex (yesterday he found a Q-Tip soaked in it and started sucking on it), but one of our favorite new things is that he's started singing. When Mommy sings to him or there's a good song on the radio, he sings too. It's may be the most beautiful thing we've ever heard.

We went running again yesterday. We're not formally training for the Peachtree, since it's nearly impossible to do so with a baby who may or may not be up for a run on any given day, but we're trying to exercise as much as we can. The housework is suffering quite a bit because we've been spending more time outside, but the messier the apartment gets, the more we want to be outside. It's an upward spiral!

Jack in Iraq

Birthday greetings from Iraq

After we went running and before church, we stopped at Wolf Camera to pick up some photos we'd had reprinted to replace ones we'd given away as well as the photos from the camera Jack sent us from Iraq. The pictures are really interesting, and we got a big surprise when we saw the last two photos on the roll. Jack had taken bullets and spelled out, "HAPPY B-DAY PATTY" on his blanket, including the magazines for good measure. That has got to be the most unique birthday greeting we've ever seen!

Today, we spent the bulk of the day with Steve (and later, with Kelly too). We went to the park, where Matthew and Steve threw the football and Patty relaxed in the Jeep with the little napper, and then we went to the batting cages and hit a few balls. Later, we ordered Thai and Chinese from Uncle Wong's, a really good place that does delivery. We found out today that it's affiliated with Thai Palate, one of our favorite restaurants in Midtown, so it seems we're pretty consistent with our taste.

Ciabatta with perfect wrinkles on top

Patty's continuing to work on her ciabatta. The two loaves today were pretty good. One rose for too long each of its two rising periods, so it ended up a little too light and airy. The other looked about perfect, except that we forgot to let it cook for 5 minutes with the door propped open a bit at the end to make it nice and crusty. As a result, it was a little soft, but the density was perfect and it looked like a textbook loaf - a special shaping technique gives it the distinctive wrinkles in the top of the crust. We gave that one to Steve and Kelly in thanks for the Bread Bible, so we don't know how it tastes.

Here is a link to the whole roll of photos that Jack sent us. They each have a description, which you can see if you view them in full size (thumbnails don't include descriptions).

Friday, April 22, 2005

Nine Month Checkup


Gabriel had his 9-month checkup today with Dr. Barfield, and for once, he didn't have any immunizations. His measurements:

  • weight: 18 lbs 4 oz - 25th percentile
  • height: 28 3/4 in - 50th percentile
  • head circumference: 46 1/2 cm
He got the go-ahead to eat anything we want to give him except (Dad A pay attention here!) chocolate, nuts, and fish. He can even drink whole milk, but he shouldn't because he should be getting his milk from Mommy. His bite size should be the size of the end of his little finger, which is pretty darn small. This is exciting, because we can introduce him to all sorts of things. He isn't too interested in anything but his pureed organic foods, mother's milk, and the occasional teething biscuit, but at least if he wants to try things, he can. He can also start getting his nutrients from a wider variety of sources, which is healthier. We gave him a tiny bite of cheese, but he wasn't interested in having any more.

Since every baby we know snacks a lot, we asked if there is any medical necessity for snacking. We don't want him to be a snacker, because that is associated with a higher incidence of obesity and related health problems. Dr. Barfield said that he totally agrees with us and that ideally, he should eat 6 small meals a day, even though that isn't really practical for most people. Gabriel eats 5 meals a day, and sometimes a 6th tiny meal of veggies, so we're right on track.

Since there was a scale at the pediatrician's office, Patty took the opportunity to find that she is within 3 1/2 pounds of her estimated pre-pregnancy weight. With our eating and running schedule what it is, we predict a lot more weight loss in the near future.

Baton Bob

When we got back, we went out to Piedmont Park to run. We did about the same today as Patty did yesterday, about 2 miles or so. On the way back, we grabbed some Flying Biscuit - the F.B. breakfast for Matthew and the devil burger (veggie burger) for PA. It really hit the spot. We found out, via various postings on the wall of F.B., that our favorite street performer who comes right by our apartment most days around 1:00 pm has a name: "Baton Bob" Jamerson, or the Ambassador of Mirth. We've never talked to him, because we thought he was crazy, but apparently he's quite sane. We're going to be sure to say hi next time he comes by. Maybe we'll even get a picture for our blog.

Our beautiful baby boy

Next on the agenda was tutoring for P. and some Michigan baseball vs. Ohio State (ohhowihate...) for the boys. Tutoring went really well, and Michigan won, 11-3. It was a good night. Gabriel ate really well and was a lot of fun tonight. He kept us cracking up, and he fell asleep with hardly a peep. Amazing!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Our Social Butterfly

Today, Gabriel took his mommy running at Piedmont Park. It was a nice day for a run, and we got back just in time to miss the drizzle. Patty's new running shoes, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, are treating her very well. Mrs. Brooks is doing a good job of correcting the overpronation of the right foot. Pushing the stroller, we only went a couple of miles before getting worn out, but it was a total body workout.

New canopy 1

New canopy 2

When we got back, we had a package waiting from Mom and Dad K. It was a canopy for our Kelty baby carrier. It's going to be extremely useful and has some really cool features. It's lightweight but has a rain shield that can fold down if it's raining or fold up if it's nice, side panels that stow in the inside top of the canopy if it's not raining, and netting in front, back, and at the top of the sides to protect against the sun. This is going to allow us to hike any day, rain or shine, and also to go camping when we aren't sure of the weather.

After playing for a while, listening to his newest CD (which he loves), and eating lunch, Gabriel took a very long nap. He cried before he went to sleep, but it was still better than it had been for so long. He got up, nursed, and got dressed to go out on the town.

We went to the Post-sponsored happy hour at Acapulco Grille and Cantina, just a block from our apartment. We each had a drink and some snacks, and we got to talk to a lot of people, some we knew, and some we didn't. Gabriel was the star of the show, and it was almost like having a babysitter - our friends Suzanne, Tanya, and Isi took turns playing with him, and we got to drink and converse. It was fun. He was even more social then he's ever been. He reached out for everyone who stopped to say hi. A man named Juan recognized us from church and stopped to say hi, and Gabriel didn't want Mommy to take him away from him. Juan's friend came by, and Gabriel instantly reached out for her to hold him for a while, and then we wanted to go back to Juan. Eventually, Mommy convinced him to come back.

Suzanne taught Gabriel to wave, and we were amazed. He's never waved before. He's also lately started saying Dada and Mama when we ask him to, and yesterday, he learned to climb. We turned around when he was standing in his playpen, and he had pulled himself halfway up the side. His feet were about 6 inches above the floor of the playpen. He's become quite good at crawling, even though he uses his stomach, and a couple of times, he's sat up from laying down, most recently this morning. He's really making great strides, and we're excited about all of the new things he is learning.

We finally got smart a couple of days ago and replaced the contents of the front of his favorite bathroom drawer with blocks. Now when he wanders into the bathroom, he comes back chewing on a block and not bath salts. [That's actually happened. They were blue.] We're still working on making a baby-friendly apartment, and little by little, we're making progress.

We added a pretty neat feature to our blog, but we're not sure yet if it works on all browsers. It's a favicon, which is an icon that appears next to the title of the page in the address window at the top of the browser. You can drag this icon to your desktop to create a link to our webpage, which is quicker than opening a browser, going to the bookmarks list, and clicking on our address... as if the 15 seconds it takes to do that was really slowing you down! Anyway, the icon is a picture of Gabriel, of course, and we think it's a really neat feature.

Church, Church, and Softball

Celebration bunting at CTK Cathedral

Gabriel had Tender Spirits playgroup today, which is hosted at our church. On our way in, we noticed that there was yellow and white bunting over the entryway in honor of our new pope. Playgroup was fun; one of Gabriel's friends, Patrick, was there. His mommy called us yesterday to let us know they'd be there, so it was nice to see them.

We found out that the moderator of the group, Julie Duncan, who is one of the two lactation consultants at Piedmont Hospital and who visited us when Gabriel was born, is from Sylvania, Ohio. Since Matt used to live there and lots of people we know still do, we are bound to have common acquaintances, although we couldn't find any today. We'll try again next time.

After playgroup, we stopped in to the Cathedral for a quick prayer for our new Holy Father, and there wasn't anyone in there except three people decorating the altar with flowers. Patty asked what they were doing, and a very kind British woman named Charlotte said that they were offering flowers to Mary in thanks and that there would be a mass at 5:30 pm. She cut Gabriel three little flowers from the arrangement, red, white, and yellow, and he immediately chose the red one and gently held it until we got back to the car.

Since Matt found out that his game wasn't until 8:00 pm, we decided that Patty and Gabriel could attend mass and still have time for a family trip to Willy's for tacos before the game. On the way into mass, Patty was interviewed by 11 Alive news. The reporter asked all sorts of questions, like, "How do you feel about the new pope?" and "Why was it important for you to come to church today?" Patty answered the best she could, and honestly, she'd thought of her answer to the latter in advance, guessing that since the news seemed to always be reporting from our church, they'd catch us sooner or later; they always ask that question. Anyway, she was so nervous that she was still shaking an hour and a half later. They also videotaped P & G entering the church, and there was another camera (for the webcast) on them as they walked up to get communion.

Since mass was from 5:30 to 6:30, we didn't see the broadcast, and that interview didn't air on the 11:00 broadcast, so we've contacted the station to see whether it aired and whether we can get a copy of the early evening broadcast.

Gabriel at the game

Matt played really well at his game. His season batting average is 1.000, and we hope that he keeps it that way. He had two doubles and a walk, scored one run, and made a couple of fantastic plays at first base. He also sacrificed his ankle to stop the ball on a rocket of a throw from second. We are compiling a spreadsheet this season of his stats. That will be a fun project. We had a great time tonight, and Gabriel loved every second of the game. It got a little cooler as the sun went down, so we put Matt's work shirt on Gabriel, and it was a little loose, as you can see in the photo. All of the players thought the Chipster was really cool, and Jason and "Papa Ray" had a blast playing with him.

The Intimidators lost 18-10 in 6 innings (game called due to time), but they looked really good. We hear that they lost last week too while we were out of town, but considering they were playing with 8 guys, it was pretty good that it was a close game.

Tonight, Gabriel fell asleep without even a peep. We think that his sleep problems are getting better. At least, we hope so. For his 6 month birthday, he started sleeping through the night. Maybe for his 9 month birthday, he's started falling asleep voluntarily. That would be wonderful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

More About Our Trip

We forgot something yesterday about Patty's birthday - before the run, she had to take a nap. We hear that's common for old folks... We couldn't remember what it was that had delayed the run; we hear memory loss is common too...

Saturday, we went to Babies 'R' Us to shop for Tracey's and Jeremy's baby shower. We got Aiden a Snugli baby carrier and an outfit with - what else? - an airplane design. Of course, he got a helicopter outfit from his grandma and grandpa. We'll have to make sure he understands that fixed wing aircraft are where it's at. We followed that with a trip to Ikea, where we bought half the store (and left it in Virginia because we couldn't fit anything in our luggage). Our sole purpose in going there was to get a high chair, because the one we want isn't available by catalog or internet, but it was out of stock, of course. We got the neatest cover for it, though. It makes the high chair look like a throne. Here is a photo of the high chair and cover.

At the Nationals game

We all (we three plus Dad, Gail, and Mike) went to the second-ever Washington Nationals home game. We had seats high up in the stadium behind the right field foul pole, but we could see everything, and we had a great time watching, eating ballpark food, and keeping score. The guy behind us consulted us on a few questions about statistics, so we felt pretty cool. Gabriel got a really great new hat, and we didn't have too difficult of a time getting through the crowds on the way there or back. It was remarkably civil. Three boys who'd ridden behind us on the train made a spectacle of themselves by running around and around the top tier of the stadium with painted chests ("N", "AT", and "S" - the big guy got "AT"), starting the wave. They were cute kids in their late teens. Washington won, 9-2. They looked good out there. Funniest thing overheard: "Hey Dad, you work in a church, and his last name is Church." "That's strange, because my last name is Baseball Field."

At the helicopter station

On the way back to the house from the Metro station, we stopped at the Fairfax County Police helicopter division station and talked with pilot Paul and officer/paramedic Mark (in photo) for a while. They had lemonade and cake, so we had some of that while we talked. They are both really interesting and completely kind people who, we are told, are extremely good at their jobs.

March of Dimes

On Sunday, we got up extra early to walk with Gail in the March of Dimes in downtown Manassas. It was 40 degrees when we started but warmed up considerably. We were the first to finish in our group of "Tike Hikers" from Potomac Hospital. We were exhausted by the end of the race! Gabriel slept through about half of the 10 kilometer walk; he was crying in the above picture because he was about to fall asleep. We didn't have time to get the post-race massages that were being offered, because we had to get ready for the baby shower.

It only took us about two hours of cleaning and setting up to be ready for the shower. About 20 people or so came over, and we played games and ate, and Tracey opened her presents. By about 5:30 pm, everyone was gone and we took Dad and Mike to do their first geocache.

Dad and Mike's first geocache

After a string of bad luck with geocaches, we found this one. Our GPSr had the box anywhere from 14-50 feet away from where we found it, and someone else's log indicated the same problem. Luckily, Matt's eagle eyes found it. We took a patch that says "Certified Angus Beef" and a toy jumping frog and left 50 cents. We thought we'd left a rubber toy robot, but Matt found it in his pocket at the end of a hike. We also found our first travel bug, which is an object that travels around the country or world and is tracked by the people who first placed it. This one is a My Little Pony named Natasha, and she came from Arizona. We brought her back with us to Georgia and will place here somewhere here.

Monday, we went to the National Mall to see the monuments. The most impressive were the WWII memorial and the FDR memorial. Please read about them in the links; they are both amazing. We were both surprised to feel a little choked up at the WWII memorial. It was a little difficult to see memorials to fallen soldiers with Jack in Iraq and Dad A having served for so long. Ironically, Jack called while we were at the FDR memorial. Patty hung up on him at first, thinking that he was a computer call, but she'd forgotten that there is a delay in his calls. As soon as she hung up, she started yelling, "No! No! No!" and waited for him to call back, which he did.

Jack said that morale is good but that a lot of guys are ready to get the heck out of there. He said that it's worse than the news portrays, because he's seen a lot of casualties (not fatalities but injuries). There are IEDs (improvised explosive devices) going off all the time, and it can be a little unnerving. He said that he's fine, though, and that he isn't bothered too much by any of it. He works out almost every day, except when they shut off the showers and he knows he'll have to wash with baby wipes. He has everything he needs and can even buy cameras at the Px there. He sounded a lot better than last time, when he sounded scratchy, and thinks that his body may be adapting a little to the climate. It's still not too hot, but that will likely change in the next month or so.

Boarding the plane

Tuesday, we frantically packed and got to the airport with time to stop at the "World's Best Chicken Sandwich" stand, which we've been to before and think is pretty darn good. On the plane, we sat across the aisle from an Indian couple who were just returning home to Atlanta after 8 months in none other than Troy, Michigan. Their daughter had a son named Ariel 8 months ago, and they'd stayed with her to help out that whole time. The funny thing is, before he told us that, we could already tell that he had a grandson around Gabriel's age by the way he encouraged Chip to clap and the way he interacted with him. They were just leaving a grandson, and Gabriel was just leaving a grandpa. It was very serendipitous.

On the flight

For the first part of the flight, Gabriel was a bit of a bear, but we nursed him and fed him a little, and he eventually fell asleep in his daddy's arms, as you can see here. Matt has an amazing ability to calm him when Patty can't. We each have our own talents as parents, and this is one of Matt's best.

Once we landed, we saw in the airport that we have a new pope - Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Prince, er, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger. We were a little worried, because he'd been known as a hard-liner (in a bad way), but the more we learn about him, the more at ease we feel with the decision, not that it matters if we are at ease with it or not.

Yesterday was Gabriel's 9 month birthday. He ate meat for the first time in his life. We mixed the chicken (homemade, organic, hormone-free, free-range, complimented-daily) with pears, and he loved it. We made the traditional monthly brownies (with homemade icing that we piped onto the brownies to say, "9!" and that was too lemony but turned out perfect in consistency), but he still isn't old enough to eat them. We were happy to indulge on his behalf.

We had a great pizza dinner from Nancy's and watched Amazing Race... which brings us to:

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Yes, we missed last week, but let's just move on, shall we?

We can't figure out why they put two episodes together two weeks ago but split one episode into two weeks. Was that a scheduling error? Anyway, we liked the idea of making an endurance leg of the race. The show seems to find ways to keep the race fresh and fun for the contestants. Let's go team by team:

Lynn and Alex: Finally, they're gone! Quite possibly the stupidest team to get that far in the race, they got themselves lost and blew a good lead on Meredith and Gretchen.

Meredith and Gretchen: They are officially the oldest team to get this far in the race, and they just keep hanging on. Luck is definitely on their side; there's no other way to explain how a team that keeps giving up every week is still in it.

Uchenna and Joyce: Although we got a little teary-eyed to see Joyce's bravery, why should she be that upset about losing her weave? Can't she just buy a new one?

Ron and Kelly: Did we see the good Southern Christian girl sharing a bunk on the train with her boyfriend? WWJD?

Rob and Amba: They seem to be good sports about their "alliance" with Ron and Kelly and are honest about wanting to win. We like that they aren't sneaky. They didn't do anything too interesting these past two weeks.

That gets us caught up to today. We'll do a separate post for today's events to give you a break.

p.s. Here are all of our digital photos from our trip. We took 4 rolls of film photos too, but those will not be developed for another week or so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Back from Virginia

We had a wonderful time this past week and have just gotten back to Atlanta. It will take some time to blog everything we did, so let's just start where we left off and see how far we get. First, some photos from the Postal Museum that we didn't have uploaded for the last post:

MP&G in rail car

MP&G reading notes

Dad and G at Postal Museum

Now back to the 15th... Friday was Patty's 30th birthday. Matthew made a delicious "breakfast in chair" of a two-cheese omelet, Kashi oatmeal, and orange juice. It was served on a tray with our red Gerbera daisy in a vase as Patty sat in the sunroom in the comfy chair reading Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger. After breakfast, Dad A took us on a secret mission, which turned out to be a trip to VA Runner for a new pair of running shoes! The owner, Jeff, did a thorough analysis of Patty's feet and running biomechanics, and recommended a couple of shoes. After testing the shoes outside, we chose the Brooks Adrenaline, which were by coincidence updates of the shoes she wore into the store. It was really neat to have such thorough and personalized service and to learn about the way the muscles in our legs and feet work. Jeff used to be a marathon runner and even had trained for the Olympic trials at one point, but injury prevented that from happening. He was a really interesting guy. We noticed an autographed picture of Deena Kastor behind the counter, which was pretty cool. There were also patches from lots of police units around the country, including the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division.

We got back to the house and, after lots of baby maintenance and random things, Dad A and Patty went running. An hour and a half later, they got back to the house. Every time we tried to measure the distance, it came out different, but it was between 6.5 and 7 miles with about a quarter mile walk tacked on the beginning and the end. It was a little chilly but ended up about right, and the pace was comfortable. It felt really good to Patty to be back on the track after being sidelined for so long. Of course, her legs didn't feel too good the next morning, but it was very much worth the pain. Before getting the new shoes, she'd already planned to run that day - she'd wanted to set the tone for the next decade, and a run was the perfect way to do that.

Birthday dinner

After the world's longest run, we went out to dinner - Gabriel stayed at the house. We went to Coastal Flats, a seafood restaurant. We were thrilled to see that they had two of our favorite drinks, mojito and caipirinha, so Matt got the ciapirinha and Patty got the mojito. For dinner, Matt had the Hong Kong-style sea bass, and Patty had the hazelnut-crusted trout. It was delicious.

Making a wish

Although we got back close to midnight, there was a surprise ice cream cake waiting. It was vanilla ice cream with chocolate cake from Baskin Robbins. Patty hadn't said anything, but she had secretly been hoping for an ice cream cake. We usually have them for our birthdays.

That's where we'll stop for today. There's lots more to write about, but it's getting late. Here are the things about which we still have to write:

  • Ikea and the Nationals
  • March of Dimes, baby shower, and geocaching
  • a trip to the Mall
  • our trip back to Atlanta and people we met on the plane
  • AR7 watch
  • whatever we do tomorrow, which will include playgroup and softball
  • ...and of course, photos

Friday, April 15, 2005

Goin' Postal

No pictures right now, sorry - maybe tomorrow. We'll work on it.

We got to Virginia last night around 11:10 pm and stayed up pretty late so Gabriel could eat and play with his Grandpa and Grandma Gail for a while. He had a horrible night's sleep, waking up every couple hours. He is still a little bit under the weather but only as far as sleeping and eating. It could be worse. Today he didn't keep much food down, but he seemed pretty happy anyway.

Today, we went with Dad A to Union Station in Washington, D.C. for lunch. It is a beautiful 90-some-year-old train station that has a mall and lots of restaurants in it. They have concerts there sometimes, as well. We bought a red Gerbera daisy at KaBloom and headed down to the food court, which was the nicest food court we've ever seen and even had a movie theater in it. We got some Japanese, Mexican, Greek, and American food and left speaking in tongues.

The next place we went was the National Postal Museum, a Smithsonian museum. We got to print our own postcards and mail them. We learned that federal duck stamps raise revenue for an extremely successful conservation program to protect the nation's waterfowl. There were a lot of really interesting displays, including postal artifacts from 9/11 and historical newspapers (which were cheaper to mail than letters so that news could more easily be disseminated). The most striking thing about the museum, though, was how it looked. It was amazingly beautiful. Just to think that people once actually went there to mail letters and pay bills transported us to a more romantic time.

While we were on the subway to D.C., we missed a call from Jack. He said that he will try to call again tomorrow after 4:00 pm our time but that he never knows for sure if he'll be able to get to a phone at a certain time. He sent happy birthday wishes and sounded dry but okay.

For dinner, we went to Cracker Barrel so we could see Tracey. She was our server and brought us a very tasty dinner. She has gotten humongous, but it's all baby. Aiden is going to be a very large baby! If you trust his grandfather's analysis of the sonogram, he will have a forehead below his mouth and a chin above his eyebrows.

After dinner, Gabriel ate and promptly threw it all back up, so we let him play for a while before we tried to feed him again. Meanwhile, we played Flight Simulator and successfully flew a Boeing 737-800 from Washington Dulles to Newark.

Thoughts on turning 30 (by Patty): I have been getting very stressed out about being 30 years old. It's not that I objectively think it's old; it's always seemed like a very young age to me. It's just that I've always been traumatized by milestone birthdays, because I've always thought, "I will never again in my life be __ years old." Matthew has led everyone we know into making this past week or so as easy as possible, and honestly, it has made this whole thing very painless. As it's gotten past midnight, I have noticed that wrinkles have not in fact broken out on my forehead, I have not grown more chins, and I haven't gotten a hunchback... yet. It's still early in the day.

Seriously, though, I'm actually starting to look forward to the day. I am so grateful to everyone for the support, and I am especially grateful to my beautiful husband for making me look forward to all of my ages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Two Sick Boys

P, M, G, and Judd

Matt's been under the weather for a few days. Nothing too major, but combined with the highest-ever pollen count here in the Atlanta metro area, he's definitely suffering. Gabriel's sleep patterns have changed since yesterday, and today he definitely has a fever. We measured 102.1°F, but after a dose of Tylenol, it's gone down. He's a trooper, trying very hard to be cheerful despite his sleepiness.

Being the bad parents we are, we took him out anyway for a trip to J Ripples. We figured that since his temp was under control, we predicted that he would be awake for the next couple of hours, and he didn't have any symptoms other than drowsiness, he'd be okay for a little outing. Besides, it's so hot in our apartment (dryer vent tubing fell off the wall), some fresh air would probably do us all some good. Like our rationalization? If this hadn't been our last chance ever to go, we wouldn't have gone, but as it was, Gabriel did very well. So did Matt.

An ESP moment: We were watching the game show "Distraction," when the subject "famous pairs" came up. Before the host asked a single question, Matt said, "Hutch." The host said, "Starsky." Patty had said, "Turner and...", and that came up, too.

We are leaving for Virginia tomorrow, so we might not get a chance to blog for a couple of days. They have computers, so we will definitely try to write most nights if we can. We'll be back here in Atlanta next Tuesday.

Monday, April 11, 2005

A New Monitor!

New monitor

Patty got a birthday present today from Mom A - a new monitor! The picture shows it as it is now, but we still have to (obviously) clean up the desk and move it back a little. For the first time, we can actually sit at the desk and work without neck strain. Before, we'd been standing up sometimes to work on the computer, and it was so far away that we would get headaches from the eye strain. This is already making blogging so much easier. Hmmm, think she wants it to be easier so there are more posts?? Big thanks for the monitor!!!

When we got the package, we (Patty and Gabriel) were on our way out the door to meet Matt at the mall. We decided that it would be fun to meet places occasionally, now that the weather is nice. It was torture to have to leave when this new awesome monitor was sitting there in the box, waiting to be used, so we took the instructions with us so we could look at the pictures on the subway.

When we got to the mall, we met up at the Starbucks stand. Matt appeared just as the order was placed on the counter. We went to Aveda for the free personalized birthday scent that we get every year and to Iris to buy speakers for the computer.

We found a pair of speakers with a subwoofer for about $30, so we jumped on that. There are speakers that can attach to our monitor, so if we end up getting those, we can give these to someone else who needs them. They're quite good, though. We found out that we already have software that can do effects on the music; for example, we can make it sound like we're in a concert hall or a haunted cavern. The subwoofer makes a big difference in the sound. You can see the two speakers in the photo above.

After the mall, we stopped by J Ripples. We had to after all - Patty's gianduja was waiting. No one had ordered any all day, so it was all for us. Funny, the people before us and after us ordered some. He must have just made it. We got a pint, and he put a little more in a cup for us to eat there. It was fantastic. We hope that Whole Foods will want to sell that flavor or that Figo Pasta will want to stock it when they buy his display case. Not ever having gianduja gelato again would send Patty into convulsions.

Ciabatta 10 April 05

We used the ciabatta for sandwiches today, and it was very good. Matt still prefers the basic rustic bread for sandwiches, but Patty likes this one better. For dipping in olive oil, this one is definitely the way to go. It could definitely be improved, though. The biga (pre-ferment, dough that's made the night before to add depth of flavor and longer shelf life) didn't rise as it was supposed to, we added too much water to the dough and tried to pour some out and start over, and we slightly used the wrong folding method. We're not sure whether the biga issue had too much effect. We think that the water issue made for a too-sticky dough that had to be corrected by adding more flour, making the proportions of yeast and salt off. The folding method we used probably allowed too much air to escape from the dough, making for fewer and smaller holes in the finished loaf. The center of the loaf had pretty good sized holes - not too small, but not too big for sandwich ingredients, but the end didn't have much in the way of holes. You can see in the photo that it really does look like a slipper (ciabatta means "slipper" in Italian).

We forgot to take Gabriel's Monday photo today, so we will take it tomorrow. He actually is awake at the moment, but that's because he's having a super tough time getting to sleep after waking up for some reason. He just had a dose of tylenol, just in case it's a teething problem. Anyway, nothing else was working and we thought that it wouldn't hurt! He seems to be quieting down, so he should be back asleep soon. And so will we.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

An Italian Lesson

Gabriel at Dogwood Festival 1

Gabriel at Dogwood Festival 2

Today we spent a lot of time with chores, including making squash, zucchini, and peas for Chip and pita chips for Mommy. The bread, a ciabatta recipe from our new book, is still in the works. Finally at about 5:00, we got out the door to go to the Dogwood Festival.

We didn't get there in time to see the Frisbee dogs, but we did get there in time to see every human fashion disaster on the face of the earth, all gathered in Piedmont Park. We don't know what it is about a festival that brings out the worst aesthetic sense in people, but we couldn't believe how many too-small shirts, mismatched clothes, and unwashed hair there was there. One girl was dressed as some kind of ballerina from the Island of Misfit Toys, complete with metallic purple tutu and red dancer's tights. She was dancing to some hippy band like she thought she was fooling us into thinking that she knew ballet, when she'd apparently never had a dance lesson in her life. There was a man next to her dressed like Jerry Garcia hula-hooping and a woman and young girl twirling some kind of ropes with tassles on the ends. Obviously, something was being smoked down there.

Anyhow, the park was really beautiful with all of the dogwoods just beginning to bloom. We walked around a little bit and decided to take a few minutes before church to sit in the grass and let Gabriel crawl around a little bit. Notice the stylish haircut, made even more stylish by an application of sunscreen on the scalp, in the photos (also, he was trying to go for the camera). He was tired but didn't fall asleep until we were - you guessed it - about five minutes from the apartment.

We were a little bit late for church, but it was a nice mass. At one point, he made his signature exclamation, which sounds like a half cough, half squeal of delight. We were in a smallish section of pews on the right, probably about 10 pews, and we were about the fourth pew back. When he made that noise, everyone behind us started laughing pretty loudly. He smiled at everyone and made lots of friends today. The man behind us said that he looked exactly like the Chipster when he was his age. He seemed really amazed that Gabriel looked so much like him. We could see how that could be the case. Gabriel was really good the whole hour. This was the first time since he was a little baby that he's been able to sit in the pew through the whole mass. It was especially nice for his Mommy and Daddy to be able to sit together the entire time.

We finally got rid of the millions of diapers that Gabriel has outgrown - the church is having a diaper drive, so we were very happy to get rid of them. We'd been wondering where would be the best place to donate them when this happened to come up. It was the perfect solution.

After church, we went to J Ripples and talked to Judd for a while. He's going to close up shop on Wednesday, so we intend to go there every day until Tuesday, since we'll be leaving for Manassas on Wednesday. Matt had white chocolate and stracciatella (vanilla with ground chocolate) and Patty had chocolate espresso and chocolate. He's going to make Patty some gianduja for tomorrow, but he doesn't have the ingredients for Matt's old favorite, pannacotta.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

A Weekend Outdoors

Matty at FDR

We spent the day hiking, as we almost always do once a week, but let's first cover the days leading up to today.

ToothOn Wednesday, Gabriel got his 6th tooth. It is the top leftmost incisor, and it was apparently quite painful the night before it came in. Once it broke through, we had a happy little guy on our hands once again.

Friday morning, we had an e-mail from Jack waiting for us. He didn't really say anything except that he hasn't had time to call and that he's sent something. We can't wait to find out what it is... in three months when it eventually gets here! It's good to know that he's fine, just busy.

We taped the Holy Father's funeral, and we haven't watched it all yet, but it was neat to see our archbishop doing commentary for CNN. That makes twice in two days we saw him on TV... make that 3 - we'll explain. Since Gabriel was having some trouble napping and finally got to sleep just as we were about to leave for church on Thursday, we took advantage of the fact that our NBC affiliate was showing the memorial mass online. It was definitely a first for us to watch church on the computer, but it was better than missing the mass altogether.

Anyhow, Archbishop Gregory had to leave town right after mass to fly to New York to prepare to do the commentary for CNN Friday morning. We thought that he did a great job. How cool was it to see someone whom we know (and who, by the way, thinks Gabriel is a cool little kid) as CNN's expert?!

Later, we saw him again on Conan O'Brien. They did a fake commercial for a show called "House of Cards," in which the top Cardinals in the race for Pope live together and get voted off one by one until only one remains. That one is elected Pope. It's the modern version of the conclave - it was hilarious. In the beginning of the "commercial," they showed old footage of a meeting of either bishops or cardinals, and Archbishop Gregory was standing among them.

Gabriel has been crawling lately. Or creeping might be a better name for it. Anyhow, he's mobile. Now, in addition to running - yes, running! - around in his walker and taking things out of drawers and off of shelves, he is now a double threat because if we put him on the floor in the living room, there's no guarantee he'll be there when we get back.

Yesterday, we had a wonderful time doing lots of fun stuff. We started out by walking up to the Dogwood Festival during business hours, so it wouldn't be too crowded to get around with our stroller. We saw some cool booths, like those of Sarah Stanton Designs from Ann Arbor, and Marie Gruber, who was very nice. Puffs had a strong presence there, with their free samples everywhere, "nose slide" (slide out the nose like a, well, you know), and nose Segway, which was a Segway transporter with a giant nose on the front. That one caught us by surprise - we looked up, and there was a big nose zooming right at us. We had to jump out of its way! We were eager to see the dog frisbee contest, but it hadn't started yet. Maybe we'll see some of it tomorrow.

We went from the festival to the High Museum to see the Romare Bearden exhibit. It was amazing. Not being big fans of collage previously, we were really impressed by this exhibition. We will definitely be heading back there while it's there to see it again. The museum always has audio tours of the special exhibits, and this one featured Branford Marsalis and commentary by Denyse Graves, whom we are not used to hear speaking but even sounds beautiful reading a script. We met a woman who was there with her nephew, Elliott Thomas. She takes care of him while her sister and brother-in-law work and is supposed to be writing her thesis in the evenings (she's quickly learned how tiring childcare is). We were thinking that maybe Laura would like to quit nursing for a while...

Just as we were leaving the museum and about to cross the street, a computer fell from the sky, landed at our feet, and broke into pieces. While Patty was pretty confused about what had happened and couldn't actually identify the silver mess as a computer, Matt had actually seen it fall off the roof of a company van. We gathered the pieces, carried them up the street to the driver who had pulled over and was walking back, expressed our sorrow for his loss, and handed him the pieces. He tried to grab the laptop, but we had to explain that it was no longer in one piece and that he had to use both hands. He didn't seem upset about it; it must have been a company computer.

When we got back to the apartment, we had just a little while to get ready for dinner, because we were going to meet Steve and Kelly at Panahar, a Bangladeshi restaurant. Patty finished baking the baguette she'd begun earlier in the day, and it turned out pretty well, especially since there was no baguette recipe used, only an adaptation of the bread recipe we've been using. As we were getting ready to go, Gabriel was playing in the living room with his train and blocks when Matt noticed what he thought was green beans from breakfast all over Chip's train and hands. On closer inspection, he realized that they were green beans but had been processed, if you catch our drift. It had come out the side of the diaper, went onto the quilt, all over arms, hands, a pillow, blocks, and heavily covered the train, so much so that we had to give up trying to clean it until we could spend a good hour or so on it. It was one of those moments when you have to remember that your baby is precious and nothing that comes from that little angel can be gross. Otherwise, we'd have both been throwing up within seconds of seeing the mess.

M&G at Panahar

We managed to get out of the apartment and to the restaurant on time. Our reservations were under Sean Combs. If you don't know who that is, try this link. The woman who took the reservation seemed a little surprised by the name, but the owner of the restaurant thought pronounced it "Sheena Combs," so he's obviously not up on American culture. Double surprise because Sean Combs lives here in Atlanta. Anyway, this guy was such a salesman that as we ordered, he continually suggested more items and sold each item on the menu. We're sure we ordered twice as much as we would have otherwise. After ordering, we all felt exhausted. Matt and Kelly went to buy beer, because it was a B.Y.O.B. establishment. The owner described it as a cost-saving measure for the customer, as opposed to an inability to obtain a liquor license. Pretty funny. We were there to celebrate Patty's birthday, so the owner gave each of us couples a coupon for 25% off our entire check Sunday-Thursday with no expiration. And it's transferable, so we can lend it to our friends so they can experience the place. He also gave each of us couples a dessert of mango sorbet with pistachios on top. It was very good, and not something we would have ordinarily ordered. Gabriel played with the toys on his high chair cover the whole time and ate some bananas when we ate dinner, and he fell asleep in Matt's arms of course a few seconds before we left.

The Bread Bible

Steve and Kelly gave Patty two completely beautiful books: the Best Ever Curry Cookbook and The Bread Bible, which her mom swears by. Her mom runs a bed and breakfast called the Inn at Meander and offers cooking classes there. She's a food expert, so Kelly knew that as a new breadmaker, Patty had to have this book. We had a lot of fun with them yesterday, and that was the best present of all.

Finally, on to today! Today, we went to F. D. Roosevelt State Park, one of our favorite places in all of Georgia. We did the Dowdell Knob Loop, which we've circled in yellow in the link. Dowdell Knob is the place where FDR used to picnic often. He had a grill built there, and it still stands, although it's been filled in with concrete to preserve it.

Diaper change at Dowdell's Knob

It's probably the most scenic place we've ever done a diaper change! You can see FDR's grill at the right side of the photo.

Our little hiker

We finished our 4.3 mile hike in about an hour and a half, and of course, Gabriel fell asleep in the last 100 yards of the hike. He was a tired little hiker. We ended up driving about 3 hours to hike less than 2, but it was very much worth it.

That was a pretty tough hike, so we thought that we deserved some gelato. We went to J Ripples and got there just in time before they closed, although after they closed and we were leaving, a couple of groups of people went in and were served anyway. They're nice like that. We learned that they will be closing on Wednesday, so we will probably try to go every day until then!

Wednesday is also the day that we'll be leaving for 6 days in Manassas. We plan on going to Ikea, which we just learned is only about 7 miles from Dad's and Gail's house. We also have tickets for the Washington Nationals' second ever home game on Saturday night, and Tracey's baby shower is going to be on Sunday after the March of Dimes walk, in which we plan on participating. We also plan to get to the Mall (the National Mall, that is, not a shopping mall) and especially to see the new WWII memorial. We are going to have a great time, and we think they're going to be surprised to see how much Gabriel has grown!

The dinner last night, the baseball tickets, all of the time we've been spending outdoors - it's all for the same reason. Patty is going to be turning 30 in the next week, and she is having a personal crisis about it. We're trying to do everything we can to make this week a fun one, and so far, it's working! We will see what happens this Friday, when she is no longer in her 20's, but there may be a meltdown. The doctor may order a fifth of gin and a temporary end to breastfeeding, but perhaps there is a small chance that the transition will go smoothly.

Don't count on it!

Here are four virtual albums of photos that Snapfish just put online for us. They are from Camp Lejeune, St. Pete's Beach, a hike at Stone Mountain, Gabriel's 8 month birthday, and a couple photos of him standing in his playpen. There are some good shots of Alan Trammell getting thrown out of the game and of Kirk Gibson (of all people!) being the peacemaker between him and the umpires. There are also some rare photos of Grandma and Grandpa Kranz, and a few of Gabriel playing the organ. The organ photos go with the audioblog that we posted while we were there.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Coming Soon...


Lots to blog about from the past couple of days, but as we've returned late from a birthday dinner in which beer was consumed, no one feels like writing at the moment. Some things to look forward to in the next blog:

  • A new tooth
  • Creeping and crawling
  • Heard from Jack
  • Computers falling from the sky
  • Our connection to Pope John Paul II's funeral
  • Our Bangladeshi experience
  • Bread, bread, bread
  • Dogwood Festival and High Museum
  • Four rolls of photos from Snapfish and some digital ones too
  • Heading to Virginia
  • Turning 30
  • That's not green beans, that's... OH NO!

As you can see, this will take a while, so we'd better rest up before we undertake all of this. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Gabriel's Favorite Toy

His stacking cups is becoming Gabriel's favorite toy. Since we can't find a good site to host video, here is the next best thing: a "talking" picture. Enjoy!

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Bath Day

The little guy isn't getting enough sleep. At least, that's what we suspect. We also think that maybe he is ready for more food. The latter problem is easy to solve; we started giving him a solid breakfast (in addition to nursing) yesterday. The former problem, however, continues to be a struggle.

We found an article that had some good ideas. We honestly think we've tried everything, but we'll see if we can get any of these ideas to work. He refused to sleep all day and was an absolute pill until Mommy took him out for a long walk, fed him a good sized supper, and put him to bed around 6pm for a nap. Finally, success after a long day of trying to get him to take a rest!

Gabriel kisses his reflection

The day wasn't without its funny moments, though. Patty walked in on Gabriel in the kitchen trying to kiss his reflection in the dishwasher. He sure is doing a lot of kissing lately - he tried to kiss a girl in the park yesterday (an older woman named Sasha - one year old! Germophobic Mommy intervened in that one...), and he actually did kiss Zoe at play group last week. And after she'd just kissed Jake! Oh well, as long as Daddy and Mommy get the most kisses...

Gabriel taking a shower

Later, while Matt was giving the Chipster a bath, the little guy took charge of the shower head and had a good old time. Needless to say, that was a long bath. It was a fun one, though!

Today is Ciara's (Nancy's daughter's) 3rd birthday! It seems like just yesterday we were carrying around the cell phone in case she went into labor... as if we could do anything from down here! The plan was that Patty would jump on a plane to go help with the older two, but we didn't even get a call until a few days after she was born [ahem]. We suppose with a 4-hour labor (and it was that long only because the doctors slowed it down), that's how it goes. We hope that Ciara has had a fantastic day!

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Didn't we just have one of these yesterday?!

This would have been our favorite leg so far. They got to sleep in the middle of the world's largest salt flat, and they got to see elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and crocodiles in the span of one drive. As for the detour, based on our rules (never work with animals and always choose the more physical task because they're never that hard), we would have chosen the carry task over the milk task. Besides, we've had enough of milking in the past 8 1/2 months, thank you very much. One thing our physics classes have taught us is that you need to walk quickly and at a constant rate to keep things balanced on your head. Here's the team breakdown:

Brian and Greg: Those brothers just couldn't catch a break. The Philiminator obviously was sad to see them go, too. It was funny to see how the punishment of Meredith and Gretchen from last week affected the way some of the teams came dressed (or undressed) to the finish line.

Meredith and Gretchen: They are proving that carefulness in the tasks is probably the most important thing. Again, they got in by the skin of their teeth. If the brothers hadn't stopped to disrobe, the elders might have gotten passed.

Ron and Kelly: We're having fun watching them start to hate each other. He's an all right guy even though he's a little rude to her, but we can see how she might be getting under his skin. Isn't it her special skill as a pageant queen to walk with things balanced on her head?

Uchenna and Joyce: How do they think that South Africa is their homeland? He's of Nigerian descent, and we checked on a map - that's nowhere near where they are! It's like us calling Greece our homeland because we're Dutch/Irish/Ukrainian.

Lynn and Alex: Why are they still there??! They went through 3 cars today and they still made it in front of two other teams. And did anyone else notice that they said that Uchenna and Joyce were born to carry water on their heads? Yikes.

Rob and Amber: They didn't do anything rude this week, and they were so excited to be there. They really seem to appreciate the experience. We think that they're the most like we would be, so of course we're rooting for them.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Fun in the Park

M&G at Piedmont Park

Today was a beautiful day - 70s and sunny. It was also a nice day in Detroit, where the Tigers trounced the Royals. Dmitri Young set a new record for home runs in an opening day game with 3. He had 5 RBIs and went 4 for 4. Looks like Jeremy Bonderman is developing nicely. Gabriel's new friend Nook Logan got to play in the later innings of the game but didn't have good luck today. is free today and tomorrow, so Gabriel and Patty got to watch the game on the computer. Yes, Gabriel really did watch it and loved it!

The Chipster celebrated by wearing his Tigers cap to Piedmont Park, where he and his Mommy hung out on a blanket with some food and some books for a couple of hours until Daddy got there. In the photo above, you can see Mommy's shadow as she was trying to block the sun from Chip's eyes while she took the picture. As a result, the lighting in the photo is not what it could be, but we have to protect sensitive eyes! Anyhow, we stayed for a while longer before we headed to Whole Foods to stock up on organic veggies for baby food.

We had lots to do when we got back to the apartment at 8:30 pm, including kitchen cleanup, making and freezing apples for Gabriel, putting away laundry, and making and eating tacos for dinner. We watched Nanny 911 (if they aren't going to cooperate, why do they apply for the show??), some of our tape of "The Office" (American version), and the NCAA game. Even though North Carolina won, and we were two of only three people in our bracket group to pick them, we still came in 8th and 9th out of 12 people. Oh well, we'll do better next year.

Our Weekend

Gabriel lookin' good

Saturday, we of course watched a lot of TV about the Pope, but we also did a lot of cleaning of the apartment, which has gotten out of control. We went to the Saturday vigil mass, and our marriage prep sponsors happened to sit next to us. Their baby girl, Morgan Ansley, was born 2 1/2 weeks ago. They were out for their first date post-baby - dinner and church. After church, we went to Steve and Kelly's house to celebrate Steve's birthday. Matt the Grillmaster grilled some burgers, and Kelly made salad and pasta salad. We had some Carvel ice cream cake for dessert, because it's a tradition for Steve. It was really good. Gabriel got to wear some of the new clothes that his gramma sent him for Easter and looked super cute.

M and G hiking 3Apr05

Matt in woods

Sunday, we did a bunch more cleaning and made bread for the week. We took a little time to watch Amazing Race while the laundry, er, laundered and Chipdip slept. Finally, we got out of the apartment around 5:30 pm to go hiking. Good thing we are in daylight savings time! We hiked some of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, starting at Cochran Shoals and heading toward Sope Creek. The sun set before we got there, so we didn't get to our destination, but it was a great hike anyway. We learned a lot about the topography of the area and found out that if we'd gone just a little farther, we would have come upon a 19th century cemetary. As it was, we saw a small waterfall, a big chunk of quartz and a lot of shale, and heard owls hooting just after sunset. On the return leg, we saw some huge houses across the river that we'd never noticed before. Gabriel fell asleep on the way back, and somewhere on the trail today, someone found a travel pack of tissues that he'd been holding. This is a nice time of the year to hike in Georgia; there aren't any mosquitos yet, it's not too hot, and the trees are starting to bloom. The dogwoods are currently blooming. We have highlighted our trail here.

Both our starting point and our destination are special places for us. Cochran Shoals is where we used to run, sometimes every day, all summer, and where we trained for our first Peachtree Road Race. It's where Patty used to spend her days (after watching the whole TLC lineup in the morning) before she got a job in Atlanta. Sope Creek is where Matt used to go often to sit on a certain rock in the water and read near the ruins of a paper mill before Patty moved to Georgia. It's the first hike we did together.

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Yes, we know it's late - we just got the tape, give us a break!

You know the drill...

Ray and Deana: So glad they're gone! The thing we disliked about Ray is that he's the sort of person who believes that since he wants to win, it's unfair if he doesn't. Deana was a non-presence the whole time they were on. They just made us angry, and not in a fun way like Mirna and "Shmirna".

Gretchen and Meredith: They are such troopers. Even though they're hanging on by a thread, they sure are trying hard.

Brian and Greg: They are showing themselves to be good people, even if they aren't the best players. They prayed for their cameraman when they flipped their car and he was hurt. We were surprised that they were able to beat Ray and Deana to the finish even after that long delay! The fact that they chose the water task saved them.

Lynn and Alex: Oh, why can't they leave the show?! They're raving idiots and snotty, besides.

Uchenna and Joyce: We are willing to bet that they return to South Africa to adopt a child. It looks like this race is doing good things for their marriage and their personal life.

Ron and Kelly: If Kelly, Lynn, and Alex were in a stupid contest, we're not sure she'd lose. CBS slyly put a split second clip in the show that showed Kelly leaning in for a kiss and Ron said, "Why are you leaning towards me?" He doesn't seem to impressed with her as a person, much less as a girlfriend.

Rob and "Amba": The fact that they drove right by the brothers' accident scene brought them down a notch in our estimation, but they are really funny and continue to play the game well. The more Lynn and Alex hate them without reason, the more we root for them. It was a nice touch this week when Phil became the morality police for the Survivors at the pit stop.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

All Caught Up

P&G in Piedmont Park

It was a beautiful day Wednesday in Atlanta, so Patty and Gabriel spent it at Piedmont Park. Gabriel spent most of the time examining things on the ground around their picnic blanket, and Patty spent some time reading her book, Atlas Shrugged. Later, we all went to get gelato at our favorite gelaterie, J Ripples. Judd, the owner, told us that he is going to close the store in a month to concentrate on wholesale. He started selling gelato to Whole Foods and is branching out since he's been so successful. It's bad news for us but great news for him.

Thursday, Matt and Gabriel read some books while Patty tutored. Gabriel's pretty stocked up on books since Easter. He got Pooh's Easter Basket from his great-aunt Karlene and his great-uncle Roy, The Story of the Easter Bunny and Guess How Much I Love You (which we've wanted to get him for a long time) from his gramma, and also recently got The Red Book and Barnyard Boogie, which we already mentioned.

ToothThat same night, Gabriel got a new tooth! This one is his top rightmost incisor (or would that be "rightmore incisor", since there are only two on each side?). It's been about to poke through for a very long time, and its counterpart is also very close to breaking through.

Friday was a pretty eventful day. Our second loaf of homemade bread was finished just in time for some darn good PB&J sandwiches, and after Gabriel and Mommy took Daddy back to work, they went to playgroup with Zoe and Jake and their mommies. After stopping at The Cook's Warehouse to buy a pastry brush, P & G stopped at Bread Garden two doors down to ask for advice on storing bread. What they got was a philosophy lesson by a very eccentric breadmaker. It turns out all she needed to say was, "Just set the loaf on its side, cut side down." If only we'd remembered that on our own... It took over an hour and a half to get back up to Lockheed; traffic was gridlocked all the way from downtown to Marietta, and the surface roads were, in parts, even worse.

Gabriel's new shopping cart cover

We had to go to Target, so we got to try out Gabriel's new shopping cart cover that his grammie made for him. It is the coolest thing ever! The fabric on front and reverse are complementary vintage baseball patterns. It has a compartment for snacks and one for wipes, which we used to wipe down the cart handle so Mommy and Daddy were protected, too. It has two toy loops that each have a teether toy attached to them. Gabriel, for once, was a happy shopper the whole time we were there. Thanks to Mom K for working so hard on this for us - we love it!

After Target, we went to church, where they had a prayer vigil for Il Pape. Since the Pope is reportedly on his deathbed, a lot of churches all over the world had special services. We saw the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit several times on CNN, and when we looked it up online, we were blown away by how beautiful it is (we've never been there). We realized that the architect has an affiliation with Eero Saarinen, whose work we love and who has done several buildings on the engineering campus at U-M. Anyhow, when we walked into our cathedral here in Atlanta, there was a news camera on us and other cameras were scattered throughout the church. They weren't there long, which was good, because they were distracting. It was a very nice service, and we stayed for the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, with a break in between for Matt and Gabriel to eat dinner in the parish hall. The Chipster was so good in church, but he started to tire after a while, so we left early.

While we were standing in the vestibule, a man came out and thanked us for bringing him. He said that it was nice to hear him while he was praying the rosary (Gabriel had been laughing at a man behind us). It was so nice to be thanked for bringing our little noisy baby, and we were really touched that he had made someone's prayer experience more meaningful. There was another time last night when two girls, one in her twenties and one teenager, asked in broken English whether they could take Chip's picture with their cell phone and play with him because they thought he was so cute. They were really funny. We are surprised by how many people aren't upset by a baby in church - quite the opposite. We get lots of compliments for Gabriel on the way out after mass. It makes us feel really good that he is the special little boy that he is.

We forgot to put this in our last post, but we talked to Jack on Easter. He said that he'd just gotten back from a raid on a city and that they hadn't found any interesting people but they did find some contraband. He said that it was the most disgusting town he'd ever seen. There were dogs everywhere in various states of infirm and feces all over the place, filling entire rooms even. He didn't do any mercy shootings of the animals, but he thought about it. He opened one door, and a flock of chickens flew out at him. Because of their individual duties, Jack had switched guns with another guy and had to carry a machine gun and many rounds, so he had about 50-60 pounds of gear on him. Good thing it wasn't the middle of summer. The Marines published a story about the raid on their web site.

He's also been part of a convoy to escort a colonel places. He said that they have to take turns standing at the crew hatch of the vehicle and that the convoy creates its own little sandstorm. The sand is so fine that it gets everywhere despite their best efforts, and he sounded pretty hoarse. He said that he's so dry he's got a bit of a cold and his skin is cracking. He works at least an 8 hour day, often 16 hours because anything he does other than office work is in addition to office work. He said that he's happy to be doing what he wants to do, though.

Here are a couple of web pages we found in the course of our research for this post that are pretty interesting:

  • Animal group names: did you know that a group of chicks is a peep and a group of doves is a piteousness and a group of ravens is an unkindness? Crazy stuff.
  • Is Bob Your Uncle?: this answers the question, for once and for all, how exactly am I related to Mom's cousin's nephew's daughter? Answer: first cousin, once removed.

Programming Note: We have added a "This Date in History" feature to all of our posts, which links to a site called Wikipedia. It sounds like some kind of pagan site, but as far as we know, it's just an online encyclopedia.