Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sling Baby

Like most first-time parents, we've absorbed our share of baby books. During our read of The Baby Book (thanks, Em!), we were intrigued by the book's approach to parenting. Particularly, their approach coined as 'attachment' parenting. Basically, the premise is the child goes with you as part of you.

For this to work, the parent has the baby on them most of the time. Most cultures 'sling' their child and do their daily tasks as if nothing has changed. We both have active lifestyles, so this method seems appealing.

A relatively new concept in the Western world, actually the practice of slinging a baby has been in use for quite some time. So, we spent Saturday in search of a sling. Kristen had read about a baby store in Roscoe Village - Be By Baby - that specializes in slings. The store is quite progressive and immediately appealed to us. I highly recommend visiting their website or if you are in the city, stop by.

In the store, we witnessed other expecting parents practicing 'slinging' and waited our turn. While waiting, we perused and the store has some cool clothing, toys, and miscellaneous items. The hardest part is refraining from buying everything at once!

After a few minutes, we were helped by an incredibly nice worker - Megan - who has a 14 month old daughter of her own. Anyway, she showed us the different type of slings and we quickly settled on the Hotsling. The store has baby dummies that are weighted like a real child - flopping head, etc. - and we each tested the sling. Luckily for us, we both fit into the same size. And I was even able to get Kristen to settle on a style that was neutral enough for me to wear. Saving Dad some big money.

So we celebrated by visiting our favorite bakery - conveniently located just down the street! - called Dinkel's. Arguably the best bakery in the city!

The sling is now home, but we have nothing to put in it! Give it five weeks.

PJ's Man Shower

I work with a lot of women. All of whom are great to work with. They (along with the few men in my group) surprised me on Friday with a man shower. Okay, so the gifts were for Baby J, but hey he's a man-in-training, right?

Besides, saying I had a 'baby shower' just doesn't seem right!

Anyway, the group was incredibly gracious! And Baby J scored some cool items. Especially a Bumbo! Special shout out to Toni for organizing the whole thing.


I tell people the best thing about where I work is the people. Friday affirmed that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

All's Quiet. Too Quiet!

Now that the heavy lifting is done, Kristen and I are in 'hurry up and wait mode'. Anybody felt this way?

The nursery is complete sans hanging Baby J' s name with fun alphabet cards that spell out his first name. Maybe one last trip to Babies'R'Us to stock up on a few items, and a few odds and ends. That is about it.

Otherwise, we feel as if all is ready. But is anyone truly prepared?

I've been telling friends that I'm ready and I'd rather just get it started now. Nothing is worse than waiting, I feel. However, the sage advice has been 'to enjoy these last days' because it will change...FOREVER!

Heeding such worldly knowledge, I'm going to cram as many movies, beer drinking, sports watching as possible! For Kristen, I think she'd just be happy with a few nights of uninterrupted sleep!

If anyone reading this has some advice worth sharing on how to spend the remaining weeks, please post! Would love to hear from you!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kristen's Last Road Trip

Five weeks from today. Just over a month left until Baby J arrives! Kristen received the green light for her last trip abroad so we headed to the megaopolis that is Indianapolis to see our friends the Schmidt's.

Many of you know Brent and Mindi (along with their clan of Brady and Carter). For Kristen it was an opportunity to hang with her lifelong friend (neighbors back in Niles, MI since they were in diapers, basically) and for me to play golf with Brent and a few other friends Andy Kelley (AK) and Tom Marcinko (Cinker).
We played in a charity golf outing benefit ting Tuberous Sclerosis (TS) - which Carter was diagnosed with at birth. Additionally, it was the first time I've played golf since the knee surgery and to play with my new golf clubs. The weekend promised to be fun...and it delivered.

You know the weekend was fabulous. Summer in September. Heavily favored to win the golf outing, we tanked. 8 under after our first nine holes we decided to forget how to hit 100 yard wedges and was only 4 under for the remainder of the way and ended up taking 2nd place. Quite deflating!

However, we had some highlights, AK flew his drive 320-ish over a creek to just miss driving the green, only to have Brent chip in for an eagle 2. That nugget earned us a skin!

After shaking the rust, I drove the ball well and just missed driving a par 4 as well. Regardless of the outcome, we all had a great time. That night I was subjected to watching Purdue (all the guys went to school at PU) play Minnesota, but hey, it beat the alternative...having a kumbaya at home with the ladies on parenting!

I'd tell you what Kristen and Mindi talked about, but it was so enthralling I fell asleep.

But seriously, we had a great time and the Schmidt's were great always. We enjoyed hanging with my Indy friends and look forward to seeing them all again soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hospital Visit

No, nothing serious. We attended an Infant CPR training class last night. Glad we attended.

Covering more than just CPR, the class provided information on car seat installation, SIDS, choking, and other topics that knowing about is important, but hopefully action is never required.

We practiced CPR on baby and child dummies. Not to make light of a serious topic, but our first attempts were a bit amusing. Kristen couldn't get the air into the infant's lungs (more of a dummy defect than her inability) and when I performed the 'pushes' I drove my fingers through the dummy's body all the way into the table eliciting a 'not so hard' comment from the nurse. Oops.

The most amusing part of the class was at the begining, when the five couples in the class were asked to state their names and due date. With the new hospital coming on-line the 20th of October, the nurse wanted to make sure those that would be in the new facility were invited to the Open House coming up. A traditional case of the haves vs. the have nots, seeing the deflating look on the couples' faces of those who said their due dates were prior to the 20th was saddening. One couple is due on the 20th, but is being induced early in the old facility. The soon-to-be dad was not happy about that one!

Oh yeah, Kristen had her bi-weekly visit to the doctor. Baby J, despite all his movements, is head down and growing as scheduled. The doctor doesn't expect an early delivery, so Baby J may be a November delivery!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Warning Signs

That is what I expected to see. A tree branch here, a pile of twigs there. I'd read about it in books and witnessed countless birds and other aviary creatures do it. So I was looking for the signs, but they never arrived.

Then, without warning it arrived on Friday. Kristen was in NESTING mode! No sooner had I dropped the computer bag, she rifled off a list of things to do in the condo. New rug here, light fixture there. Being the tough guy that I am, I recoiled in fear, curled up in the corner and hoped to wait out the storm yearning for my wife to return. NO SUCH LUCK!

But seriously, Kristen was in prime nesting mode. What a sight to witness. She took charge. Felt like one of her day laborers on a design job! So last weekend we hung pictures and new drapery, purchased a new sofa, tidied up the nursery, switched from summer to autumn in the condo's theme (my involvement was to simply get the boxes to and from storage with all the seasonal 'stuff') and rearranged items throughout the condo all in preparation for Baby J. I'm sure when we bring him home he'll comment on plushness of the new sofa and appreciate our taste in abstract art.

The nesting tornado departed on Sunday, just in time for the Bears game, thankfully!

Friday, September 14, 2007

(K)Night Errand

Well, Kristen finally caved. With only six weeks left until 'go time', she succumbed to her craving urge and sent me out in quest of food.

My kudos to her. She's been great fighting her urges. We've had a few close calls, but I've been successful in talking her down from the cliff. However, last night there was no fighting it!

Of course, the timing stunk. We had just settled down to watch a movie (Breach, by the way, and worth watching). Having just completed dinner, where she had given in to another craving for pizza and brought home a wild mushroom pie (from one of those new, speciality pizza stores where you buy cold and cook at home), she was wracked with the urge for peanut M&M's.

After a simple 'Are you sure?' response, I could tell there was no fighting it. I strapped on the tennies and hoofed it to the Dirty Bird. The effort was monumental having to traverse a full city block to get to the White Hen on the opposite corner. I was parched from the experience.

Not to shortchange my wife, I purchased to 'tear and share' size bag (new marketing ploy to make you feel better about buying it instead of reading "king size" on the label even though the package is still meant for a single consumption).

As a witness to the crime, I can vouch for the tearing of the bag, but there was not a whole lot of sharing!

Urge satisfied, it was back to the movie...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grand Hopening

It is official. Northwestern Memorial has released press the new Prentiss Women's Hospital will be operational to handle Baby J's grand entrance!

In an earlier post, I talked about the hospital and its amenities. Well, all are still true. For those that might consider visiting us, the hospital has launched a new interactive, website with all the vital information. Of course, closer to the date, I'll post maps and parking options for everyone.

For those of you who fancy yourself lovers of architecture, the site is worth visiting. It touts all the eco-friendly and green elements incorporated into the buildings overall design. Neat stuff!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kristen's Oprah Experience

Kristen, and her good friend Emily, attended a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show today. The segment was a contentious one - the publishing of O.J.'s book on the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman.

The segment was scheduled prior to all the recent activity of the Goldman's gaining ownership and power to publish the book. So, no need to focus on that. Instead, it is the experience that Kristen found interesting.

Basically, Kristen got to the show courtesy of Emily. She responded to some questionnaire or submitted a question to the show regarding the segment. Emily was selected to appear - and ask the question - on the show! The perk...she got to bring a guest! Lucky for Kristen, our condo is in the same 'hood as Oprah's studio.

Well, pregnancy apparently does have its benefits. They got to jump the line, were first to the seat, first to use the bathroom after the show and received complimentary water. As for Emily, she got the star treatment. Whisked to the green room for hair and makeup, she was suppose to appear on camera. Unfortunately, questions from the audience were cancelled due to the subject. Kristen mentioned Oprah was conflicted from the start regarding the show and on the heels of an emotional 9/11 taping, the format was changed.

However, they sat second row behind Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, so set your DVR for Thursday's airing to catch these two ladies on Oprah!

Monday, September 10, 2007

7 Weeks Remaining!

If Baby J cooperates, seven weeks from today should be 'go-time'! Here's the latest pics of Kristen - at 33 weeks.

The nursery is near completion! As you read in an earlier post, I tackled the task of building the dresser/changing table.

All that remains are the 'finishes', and yes, Kristen will not be including me in those decisions!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Niki in the Garden

An exhibit currently at the Garfield Park Conservatory just west of the city, Kristen and I have had this on our list to do before Baby J arrived. Partnered with our friend Emily and her two kids - Campbell and Taggart (Kristen's godson) - we explored the exhibit and the grounds of the conservatory today.

Couldn't have asked for a better day! Sunny, temperate, and lacking the typical Chicago humidity. I guess summer truly does end with Labor Day!

A little information about the exhibit...Niki in the Garden features more than 30 extraordinarily colorful and whimsical outdoor sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. French-born, New York-raised Niki (1930–2002), a passionately imaginative and self-taught artist, gained international fame in the 1960s as a New Realist artist. In 2000, de Saint Phalle was awarded the acclaimed 12th Premium Imperial Prize in sculpture.

Her imagination is clearly evident by the beauty, artistry, and truly whimsical sculptures. Bejeweled with mosaics, stones, glass, mirrors and semi-precious materials, the pieces displayed include animals, mythical figures, sports and music heroes, and of course, Nanas.

Okay, back to the adventure...

The sculptures are dispersed throughout the conservatory. Some melded with the existing plant life while many others placed outside in the park's large outdoor space. The excursion was as much for the kids as it was for Emily and Kristen to talk about pregnancy topics, impending motherhood, and for me to do what I do best...act like a kid and entertain Taggart!

Not much more to report other than the day was fun and culminated with a small picnic afterwards. A few hours later we'd thoroughly exhausted Taggart, enjoyed each others company and still had most of the day to for a new sofa. I'm tingling all over from that adventure, but I'll spare you the gory details!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Exercising Your Child

I couldn't resist. I Googled 'exercises' and 'new born babies' and this is what came up...

This is just a smattering of the volumes of information on the internet. Of course, who needs direction, instruction or guidance. Just give the kid a shiny object and let them wander aimlessly. All will work out in the end, right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Babymoon, Part II

Day 2. Today we set off to satisfy Kristen's unquenchable desire for breakfast out. Needing to pick up the recently shipped baby dresser/changing table from her office, we trekked out to Hinsdale.

Craving 'something sweet', Kristen went with the reliable - french toast. But no! Not just regular 'ole french toast, she upgraded to Banana Nut Bread French Toast. Ooh. Aah. I had a bite and felt like I ate a sugar cube. Almost went into hyperglycemic shock!

After picking up the dresser (frickin' heavy btw - now wonder it cost a C-note to ship!) we headed back to the city for our main excursion of the day...experiencing the Cool Globes project on the lakefront in front of the Museum Campus and Navy Pier.

Cool Globes is a project sponsored by Exelon (known locally as the parent company of ComEd) and hosted by the City of Chicago. Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Plant is "an innovative public art project of 124 extraordinary globes designed to create awareness and inspire practical solutions to global warming. Solutions that we can put into practice every home, on the job and in school."

The globes address all of the hot topics regarding our planet - recycling, reuse of materials, landfills, green building, alternative and clean forms of energy, water use, and the list goes on. 124 times. Some of the globes seemed redundant, but each artist provided a creative design on their globe.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my employer sponsored a globe (see pic to the left) on water efficiency. Did you know a slow, leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a year?

It was a beautiful, warm day. Could have walked all day, but Kristen received a hot tip that Carter's was having a HUGE sale on baby clothes and we MUST check it out and stock up in the areas where we still need clothes. How do we know what we need? The kid hasn't even been born yet! Luckily our time in Carter's was short and I must admit we did procure some cool stuff for Baby J.

To complete the Babymoon, my job was to build the dresser/changing table. After almost pulling a hernia getting the box into the condo, the assembly began. An hour or so later, the table was finished, replete with all the space needed to ensure Baby J has adequate storage for stuff he's completely ambivalent to!

And thus Babymoon came to an end! Can't wait to do it again. Really! Seriously! Why doesn't anyone believe me...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Braggin' on my Niece

How stinkin' cute (to borrow the phrase from Suzanne) is my niece?
Got these pics recently from my sister. Just had to share!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Babymoon, Part I

Ahh, the babymoon has arrived. After negotiations - tense at times - regarding the festivities, we settled on our 'moon (just kidding, we enjoyed picking the activities). The weather was amazing over the Labor Day weekend, and we took advantage of it by being outdoors most of the weekend.

Day 1 - Kristen has always wanted to visit the Chicago Botanical Garden. That was our destination Saturday morning. We laced up our walking shoes and headed north to Glencoe and the 385 acres of display gardens and native habitats situated between nine lakes. We particularly enjoyed the new Japanese garden and the Fruits & Vegetable Garden.

After a full day of walking, soon-to-be momma was in dire need of some food and a good nap! We headed back home meandering down Sheridan Road enjoying the beautiful (and quite large!) homes along the lakeshore.

We planned a nice evening out at a new restaurant called West Town Tavern. Definitely not a tavern, the restaurant was fantastic - the food, dining experience, presentation of the food (always important to the designer!). Kristen was jonesing for some seafood and settled for the diver scallops on a bed of very creamy risotto. For me, the sauted trout over a medley of veggies. Oh yeah, plugging for my friend Nancy who works at Goose Island, I partook in the seasonal beer available - Demolition. At 8.0% ABV, it is easy to discern how the beer gets its name! And Kristen took Emily's advice saving room for dessert - ice cream and cookies. She would have licked to bowl if we were at home. Wait, I'm the one that does that!

So, Day 1 of Babymoon was complete and was enjoyable. Ask the Little Guy if he had fun, and I'm sure he did if all his rolling and movement was any indication. Oh yeah, it looks like 'the wave' is taking place in there. How cool!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What's a Babymoon?

Babymoon. Another day, er event, cooked up from your friends at Hallmark. Ranks right up there with Sweetest Day! A few months ago Kristen mentioned how we needed to begin planning 'our Babymoon'. "Baby what?" was my response. I had to look it up.

Here's the scoop...

It's a new trend, common among first-time-parents-to-be, who see it as one of the last vacations they'll take before "baby makes three." Originally, the term "babymoon," was coined by British author and childbirth educator Sheila Kitzinger, who defines it as the important time a family spends together alone during a baby's first few days of life.

However, the travel industry saw it as an opportunity to make a buck, and turned a sincere idea into a cottage industry. With more than 6 million births annually in the United States, money is to be made!

Nowadays, you can find 'babymoon packages' at your more posh hotels, spas, and resorts where staff pampers the soon-to-be parents with love and care. Well, I did some research into these packages, didn't see much pampering for the guy; manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, and bed in breakfast. You want to pamper to me? Get me a round of golf on a course I can't get on. With a caddie. And a playing partner named Tiger Woods. Facials? C'mon!

So, the planning started for our babymoon. I went to Google and typed in 'babymoon Chicago'. There's a freakin' website called No shit! You can search babymoon events, packages, deals, etc. by state. I quickly abandoned my search.

Instead we settled on a nice weekend in the city. Cell phones off. Computer off. Television off! And we had a wonderful time. Read about it in another post.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Baby J's Baby Shower

Most of you who read this post were present for the baby shower last weekend. First, sorry for this late post. But, Kristen and I just want to say 'Thank You!" to all of you who attended of course to the hosts. What a great party!

I'm paraphrasing, but it has been said, that the richness of one's life can be measured by the hospitality of friends. If so, we are indeed among some of the richest people in the world.

Not to rehash the day, but it what a fun time! The gifts and thought put into them all were amazing. Especially the idea of each person providing a book with a customized book mark. Now we have instant memories of every book received from the shower!
And thanks to Emily for the creative invitations (and the golf theme, but of course!), Suzanne for the lavish setting at her home, and Jen for the cool party favors.

But what about the FOOD! And the DESSERTS! And the BEVERAGES! Unbelievable! And a special shout out to Chico's mom for the fantastic fudge! I had to get to the shower early just to guarantee I could get my share!

So, again, thank you to everyone for a fantastic day. Truly unforgettable.