Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holidaying in Michigan - The Return

During the holiday season we trek back and forth to Michigan to spend time with all of Kristen's family. We attempt to make as many family functions as possible, but the past few years we've missed the Boggio family get together (Kristen's Mom's family). This year Ryan was able to wrangle them all together in Ann Arbor for a Christmas party. We departed early Friday after Gil's morning feeding (it always sounds like I'm describing how you feed livestock. "Hey Vern, the cows get their mornin' feed, yet?"). Anyway...this is the third time we've gone to Ann Arbor, but are still batting 1000 for snow storms during our travel.

I tip my hat to the meteorologist. He said snow would start at 8am. Well, come 8am the snow started. So, I thought we'd be ahead of the weather. Yeah, right. I-94 was littered with wrecked cars (some unfortunately, looked to be serious) most of the trip. Of course, as we entered Ann Arbor city limits, we finally got in front of the storm.

Background. Taya is one of three sisters. When they are all together, the decibel pitch of their conversations and laughter can be deafening to the uninitiated. Of course, I mean this affectionately! I warned Gil, once we entered the house to be prepared for the shriek of the Boggio women. However, no warning can prepare oneself for that experience! Still emerging from his car seat slumber, his eyes shot open wide as he looked up to see all these new faces doting over him. I quickly ushered Gil upstairs before grabbing hands could claim him and prepared the little man for the evening.

As for the evening, it was fantastic. Lots of food, beverage, and good conversation. Michigan State was playing their bowl game so many were attuned to the television. In lieu of the traditional chinese gift exchange, Ryan made it a requirement that everybody instead brought a book that was hopefully a favorite. Still enforcing the rules of the game, we opened and stole books from one another. I ended up with a great book on grilling and Kristen got some chicky, feel-good story of Camelot told by four chicks. Like King Arthur was a touchy-feely guy! If he wasn't killing and pillaging, I'm sure he was drinking with his buddies at the 'Round' betting on joust matches!

On Saturday, we finally got to see the farmhouse Ryan and Shannon purchased. They have big plans for the house (and a lot of work to do!), but I'm sure it will turn out fabulous. We walked the 40 acres (not all of it!) and enjoyed some nice, very un-city fresh air.

Our return trip home was much quicker and easier and of course, Gil slept the entire ride home. Here's a picture of what he looks like all the time in his car seat. And no, I wasn't driving as I snapped the photo!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mr. Smiles

Eight weeks into life with Gilbert, his facial expressions have begun to evolve. Gilbert has begun to flex his facial muscles for smiling. Dubbed "Mr. Smiles" when he flashes the big grin at Kristen and me, we can't help but smile back! For your enjoyment, here are a few pics of Mr. Smiles!

Christmas Day

Okay, I'm a few days late. Back off! It has been a relaxing time at Casa de Johnson. Christmas Eve and Day were spent at home, just the three of us, and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Being with family is always special and a lot of fun - especially on during the holidays, but there is something to be said for the tranquility of relaxation. And that was definitely our theme the past few days.

We continued to gorge ourselves on snacks and holiday treats while opening presents on Christmas Day. Santa was good to everyone and Kristen and I were surprised that Gil was able to get some shopping in for us. Apparently he has become quite adept at using the internet. No more leaving him unattended! Of course, we had time for some photos. Here Dad and son are in their Christmas colors. He is less than amused with the new headwear.

The day was quite temperate, so we went for a walk that night and was surprised how quite the city turned out to be. Walking along the river on Wacker Drive we encountered only a handful of people. With the streets empty I attempted to coax Kristen into the middle of the intersection for a fun photo, but this is as far as I could get her to go!

As I write this post we are preparing for round two to our holiday trips to Michigan. This time we are off to Ann Arbor for Christmas with Kristen's mom's side of the family. We haven't gathered in a few years so it will be good to catch up. Also, we'll get a first look at the new home Kristen's brother - Ryan - and his wife - Shannon - bought recently. It is an old farm house on 40 acres. Ryan, the consummate outdoorsman, is quite giddy about the new home and space especially with their family expanding by one next summer. Should be a good time.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa's Little Helper

The day after the Lawrence family Christmas, we celebrate the holiday with Kristen's immediately family in Niles. It was bitterly cold and windy outside, but warm and festive in! Kathy had a fantastic spread of food - as usual - and we ate throughout the day as we opened presents.

This year we had a visitor. One of Santa's special little helpers. He surprised us when he came down the stairs to drop off the presents and enjoyed our company so well, he decided to stay around during the present opening!

Later that day, we visited Kristen's lifelong friend Mindi as she was in town with her two kids and husband, Brent, visiting her family. Getting all three boys to focus on the camera was a bit of a challenge, but we captured the reality of the day!

We wound down the day back at Kristen's parents house and prepared for the drive home. Gil was awesome, considering we completely threw off his routine. He was a bit cranky as we packed the car, but the magic of the car seat seduced him into a nice slumber that lasted the whole way home!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Lawrence Family Christmas

Saturday was an early morning. Kristen the drill sergant had me pack the car the night before in preparation for our dawn raid on Michigan. After Gil's 6am feeding, we headed out in order to make lunch and see everyone at the Lawrence family Christmas.

Dave is one of five siblings; all married and with kids. As a result, the Lawrence family has grown to be quite large. The youngest of Kristen's cousins are upperclassmen in high school so it has been some time since a baby has been in the family.
Additionally, Gil is the first great grandchild bringing together four generations of Lawrences. Pretty cool, huh? A generation picture is to the right (Lynn, Dave, Gil, Kristen, and Phyllis). With multiple cameras snapping, getting everyone to look in the same direction and Gil smiling was all but an impossible task.

The day itself was its typical good time. A big family dinner followed by a Chinese gift exchange accompanied by the usual wrapping paper ball fights! Throughout it all, Gil was a tropper. He was definitely handled by a lot of family members, but provided his best smiles, a few cries, and a nap when he was done being social and a few 'steamers' along the way. Then again, Kristen had Mexican the night before that might have contributed!

Here's Kristen with her grandparents - Lynn and Phyllis. However, the day was also special, as the siblings surprised Phyllis with a birthday cake for her 80th birthday (January 1st).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Quality Time

Starting today I have a strech of seven days at home; all for spending with Gil and Kristen. Been looking forward to it! Kristen has been out all day today visiting friends and some old co-workers so it has been just 'Daddy and Gil' time today.

We had a nice bath, some good naps, and tummy time. He's sleeping right now so I'm taking advantage of the quiet to wrap presents and post this blog. Gil feel asleep toward the end of the bath and was snoring before I could get his pj's on! Definitely asleep at the wheel, I'd say! Oh yeah, with Kristen gone, I can raid the cookie jar unabated now that it is loaded from Kristen baking all week!

Ooh, I can see on the monitor Gil's stirring. Got to go!

A few hours later...

I'm back. This is a big weekend for Team Johnson. We have the Lawrence family Christmas on Saturday and with Gil we now have four generations of Lawrence's. Should be fun! Sunday will be Christmas with the family in Niles - Dave, Kathy, Katie, Ryan and Shannon - as we are all going to be at our respective homes for Christmas Day.

It will be interesting to see how well Gil travels, is passed around among all the family members, and what happens to his routine. He's been such a fantastically dispositioned baby so far, I hope the true Gil continues to shine through the weekend. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bottle Transition

Dad is now of value in regards to the feeding of Gil. The bottle was introduced last week. Gil took to it immediately. Kristen felt shunned. Was there now value in the authentic? I think for the first few minutes, she was actually upset.

But I reassured her, there is no replacing the real thing. Fakes just don't cut it. And trust me, I've seen my fair share of fake ones. I digress...

I told her to look at it from Gil's perspective, he wants the breast milk. As long as it resides behind the nipple - real or fake - he's gonna go after it. To him, it is Liquid Gold!

However, with the bottle now in play I'm now involved with feedings. So much for the care free late night feedings. Actually, that is still Kristen's role. I'm stepping up with the morning feed. This way Kristen can get an extended sleep after the late night feeding and it actually gets me up and forces me to prepare for the day.

The hidden gem that has emerged is Gil is quite playful after the morning feed. So, while Kristen sleeps Dad and son have a little bonding time. Best part of my day! He smiles in recognition of my over exaggerated faces and I get to sing ridiculously made up songs. Some G rated, others for adult ears only. But hey, to Gil if they are in an up and down pitch, I could be reading the box scores.

Back to the bottle, we're still learning on the timing of pumping to create our milk bank and when she feeds direct. Here you can see Gil's reaction when it came time to feed and Kristen had to inform him, there was 'no milk in these here boobs'.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Me and My Monkey

Actually, it is Gil and his monkey. Of his stuffed animal kingdom, the monkey hasquickly become his favorite. Only time will tell whether the primate becomes his long-term best friend.

Aunt Katie came over for a visit so we dressed him in his Christmas best. With time to waste, we captured some photos of him with his monkey and santa's hat. Gil even gave us a 'thumbs up'. Enjoy!

With Gil's outfit came a skull cap. Unfortunately, he's not a fashion bug when it comes to headwear. His annoyance quickly turned into downright disgust for the hat. Then again, I'd be upset too if I looked like a member of an Alabama prison chain gang from the 50's.

Friday, December 14, 2007

And It Begins

The search for daycare, nanny, babysitter. Whatever you want to call that person, the process has now started for us.

As many of you know, Kristen is striking it out on her own hoping to find gold. She already has a project and with more potentially looming, plus work from her past employers, we are in need of daycare. I offered to stay home full time, ala Heimer, but we weren't keen on changing our address to "Under the Highway".

And I though choosing a college or selecting a job was difficult. Jeez. At Gil's tender age, we want to bring the daycare into our house. That means finding a nanny. Luckily, there is a fantastic service called Sitter City that vets and does background checks on its sitters. As a sitter you can post a profile, a video via YouTube, and other information to assist parents in the selection process.

From a parents perspective, we post listings, sit back and let the sitters come to us. We just posted and the inquiries are flowing. Now the hard part. What questions do we ask, where do we meet. Basically how does it all work. So, we're relying on those with prior experience.

Our goal is to have our sitter selected by late January, so KJJ Design can go into full gear come February 1st.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It Has Been a Good Week

It has been a fun week for us. The past weekend was full of activities. Team Johnson took a road trip to Cary (anything over 50 miles is a road trip, even if just the suburbs) - as posted earlier - and then on Sunday Gil and me had our first outing to the Niepomnik's Holiday Open House.

They were fantastic hosts and the spread was awesome. Since I had Gil full-time it kept me away from destroying the buffet. Everyone benefited from that! It was a good learning experience having to care and feed the little guy one-on-one. After he destroyed a few diapers = pee-uuu - he calmed down and was a champ! Kristen had to call of course as she was having Gilbert withdrawals! Here we are dressed in our best Christmas colors!

Today was a good day for Mom and Gil. He slept through most of the morning and was quite playful in the afternoon. Luckily she snapped some photos of his playtime with his friends in the animal kingdom!

Where Does It All Go?

As you know, Gilbert was born with a full head of hair. That hair has now begun to fall out. The mystery to me is, where does it all go?

When Kristen sheds it is everywhere. The bathroom sink, floor, and shower. But Gil's hair just seems to disappear. It is not visible on his clothers, the crib, etc. Where does it all go!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

First Crawl

Got excited reading the title, yes? Well, a first crawl did occur, but it wasn't Gilbert. No, we were witness to Fayth's first crawl.

Team Johnson visited the Evenson's for a fun, relaxing evening of kids, food, and just good conversation.

As we were sitting around the family room, Suzanne was holding Gilbert as Fayth was playing with her toys when she started to scoot as she always does, but turned it into a full blown crawl over to her mommy and Gil.

Suzanne proceed to burst out, "Oh, Pookie. Fayth just crawled. Ooh!" Okay, that might not be exactly what she said, but it was close!

What a great way to start the evening. Fayth is an incredibly happy child. Even her crying is accompanied by a smile!

As usual, they were fantastic hosts and we had an enjoyable evening. Thank you!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The House That Goose Built

Friday has been a fun day. My office is being painted, so displaced I've been working from home. Probably helpful, since my latest proposal has involved one of our Germany offices resulting in a shift in my work hours.

Come Friday afternoon, the work was done so Team Johnson headed out for some holiday shopping. Gil and I dropped off Kristen at her doctor's for her post-delivery follow up. All is good and she got the green light to begin working out again and perhaps have some 'relations'. Yippee!

Gil was a trooper. He slept through most of his first shopping experience - lucky him - while I had the joy of bearing witness to Kristen shop for a new winter coat! But seriously, she is quite expeditious when it comes to shopping. Especially when its a one day sale! We headed home after lunch, sans Kristen who continued on shopping and then proceeded to get herself a new haircut.

But the highlight of the day was visiting our friend Nancy. Nancy is my Goose Island connection. Kristen met her through a mutual friend, provided some interior design services and they've been friends ever since. Because of Nancy, I've been fortunate enough to attend some kickin' Goose Island events. But seriously, Nancy is a good friend and we enjoy visiting her.

Nancy likes art. And she has a lot of it. Well, someone has to hang all that art. And that someone is me. When Kristen was working with Nancy originally, she devised a 'wall of art' for her. It was a collage of about 10-15 art pieces arranged in a square on a wall around her television cabinet. Kristen required the best of the art hanging contractors around to complete this difficult task. After calling around and not being able to locate anyone, I got the nod.

My compensation for toiling over the 'wall of art'? Goose Island beer!

Fast forward. Nancy just returned from what was a fabulous vacation in France and Belgium. She bought art in Paris and drank beer in Belgium. Not a bad trip. Armed with all this 'new' art, we headed over so Kristen could revel in it and then order me around as to where to hang it! I must admit, some of the art was pretty cool. You should see her condo, it is covered in art and there is still more yet to be hung!

After a few hours of work, I'm happy to admit I'm now two cases of beer richer. And one of the cases is a special limited bottling commemorating Goose Island's 3000th beer run. Congrats to the Goose!

This Is Not a Nipple!

So, this morning I had the pleasure of sharing in Kristen's joys of waking up when Gil is hungry. We introduced a bottle to the little man for the first time and I had the bleary-eyed pleasure of being the delivery vehicle.

He took it like a champ. Breat milk is breast milk, right? Nipple be real or plastic, the kid knows liquid gold is on the other side, so have at it I say!

I'll spare you the picture of the feed (actually we didn't take a pic, rely on Mom for pictures and our family would be photographed as much as any family from the early days of photography...never!). Instead enjoy this collection of recent photos!

Here Gilbert imitates what he'll look like when he gets to ride his first Harley. Vroom. Vroom. He's actually sound asleep. We were eating dinner and looked down at him to see this little man sleeping with his arms completely rigid and sticking straight out. How can that be comfortable?

First Big Snow

Contrary to popular opinion, snow does not blanket Chicago often before the new year. However, twice now we've witnessed a good snow fall. Icy walking paths are viewed so differently now that I have to navigate not only myself but a stroller as well!

This picture is from our balcony looking east back to the city.
Unintentional, but with the flash on, you can actually see the snowflakes upclose. Pretty cool. Ansel Adams, step back! Here's the same night, but now looking west.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Results Are In!

And Gilbert is expected to pick up the red states. Oooh, sorry. Thought this was an election.

But seriously, Gil had his first check up visit with the pediatrican and all the hand-wringing Kristen and I have done over his results is over. We fretted what percentile he'd be in for weight, height, and noggin size. Was he going to be behind already? We couldn't bear to watch as the nurse weighed him and the doctor conducted his measurements. Were we good parents? Or were we neglecting our child?


C'mon. Like we care how he compares. As long as he's healthy. And to that, the answer is YES! Here's his progress...
  1. Gil was born 7lb. 7oz. He tipped the scale at 10 lbs. 11oz. That throws him right in the median percentile at 50%. That puts him in the middleweight class (for all those pugilists, out there!).
  2. He's grown quite a bit, though. He came out of the chute at 20 inches, but is already at 23 inches (okay 22 3/4 to be exact) and that places him in the 70 percentile. A good start to reach the Mendoza Line of height...6 feet.
  3. And as I expected, his nug has expanded as well, dropping him in the 65 percentile. Needed as he is already soaking up the nuggets of useless information I'm feeding him as we have our 'daddy' talks.
So, he's growing and gaining. All good things!

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Now when you hear this term, you immediately think "Bed & Breakfast". Well, for Gil that's "Boob & Bath". Not a bad consolation, I say! When we are both at home, we split "B" duties. Obviously, I'm in charge of the bath! It is pure enjoyment for both of us!

The routine goes like this...Strip him down, fresh diaper, followed by a good feeding. I prepare the bath. Handoff from Mom, give him those awful vitamins (with iron) via a dropper and then strip him down to his birthday suit and it is bath time. And there you have our version of "B&B".

This weekend marked his first real bath. No 'birdie baths' for this guy. We filled up the sink and dunked him head first. Okay, so he actually went in butt first. He loved it!

Gil has enjoyed bathing from the beginning. We think he gets that from his dad as it allows him to be 'free'. No gold bond for him though!

After the bath Gil gets his much appreciated 'naked time'. Just him and a supersoft bath towel. Pure joy, but of course and it registers on his face. Such tranquility after a good bath, no?

Here are a few more photos from his latest "B&B".

That relaxation quickly transitions into animation and he's always good for some excellent photos. Here he gives his patented "power to the people" pose.

Pre-bath. First of the B's. He's wondering, "Wasn't there a nipple in my mouth just a second ago?

Staring intently at Kristen and his food source, he must be thinking..."You gonna feed me or what?"