Monday, June 30, 2008

I Like Pool

My daddy and mommy took me on a planz ride to Hustin to see Gram and Grampa. Dad sez it was 'Afrika hot'. I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound plezant!

They put me in a gigantus bath tub. They called it pool. But it seemed like a just a really big bath tub. But it was confusing. No soap! I like the pool.

I wore a special diaper with Nemo on it and then got to wear a floppy hat. I like floppy hats. The water was colder than my bath, but I like it.

On my first day in teh pool, Mommy and daddy carry me all around. Sez I would sink. I thought sinks were in the kitchen? It was still fun.

Later, they let me sit on the step and play. I like sitting in the pool. I wanted to eat the pool, but they sez it is not edible. Who's Ed?

The second day I sat on rocks with water running on them. Daddy called it a water fall. I could feel the cold water running under my legs. It felt nice. Mommy looked worried and would yell at Daddy to "stay close" to me. Daddy seemed annoyed by Mommy's commands. He told me I was a strong, Little Man and would not fall over. I didn't!

I like pool.

Back From Houston

The first week of my paternity leave was a good one! Team Johnson packed up our wares and headed to Houston for an extended weekend of family fun.

Gilbert was fantastic on the plane rides. We learned a lot about when we should travel with him. The outbound flight was early in the morning and our return late at night. He was great in both instances, but the evening flight was more taxing on him. Clearly tired and ready for sleep, Gilbert's slumber was repeatedly interrupted by transfers from car to plane, plane to stroller, stroller to car, car to bed. Poor guy!

The weather was humid and HOT! Everyday was over 90 degrees and we loved it! My P's have a pool - most do in Houston; a requisite to survive the summers - and we used the opportunity to introduce Gilbert to the water. He was hesitant at first, but quickly embraced the water and enjoyed all his time in it!

My sister, her husband and their daughter came down for the weekend too! And during their visit we celebrated the birthday's of both my niece and myself (we share the same day!). I also played a few rounds of golf with my dad and brother-in-law and otherwise just enjoyed the concept of vacation. Kristen and I even went out for a dinner date!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Last Day of Work

No, I did not win the lottery. Damn it! But I did receive something close. My firm provides paternity leave, so starting tomorrow I get three weeks off from work! Hooray for me!

The leave is good for one year and can be taken anytime. I opted to wait instead of using the leave after Gilbert's arrival. Must admit that was a shrewd decision on my part. Now, he's more active, it is summer and we can enjoy the three weeks outside.

What am I going to do you ask? Well, there will be travel. Leaving for Houston on Thursday to see my folks and take advantage of 90+ degree days for some sun and fun in their pool. Then the following week we'll be in Ann Arbor visiting Kristen's brother for the 4th of July and meeting Gilbert's new cousin. The last week we'll be in Indiana for my annual Crony Cup golf tournament. In between all those trips I will be taking in a healthy dose of golf and quality time with Gilbert. I see multiple trips to Gymboree and visits to the park in our future.

I can not wait!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Delicious Has Arrived!

Okay, Delicious didn't walk up to the condo, but rather was picked up. All tightly packaged and neatly labeled.

To prepare for Delicious I collected coolers from the other cartel members (better known as the Delicious Meat Club), bought dry ice this morning to keep Delicious nice and cold and then headed north for the pick up. Accompanied by DMC member Brian, we traveled to the pick up point where we were met by a cold delivery truck and upon opening the door saw three cardboard boxes with my name on them! We loaded the meat quickly into the coolers and headed back to Brian's house.

Kudos to Jordanal Farm. The whole experience was professional and first class. As mentioned, the meat was well packed and labeled making it easy to divvy up back at Brian's house. In his front yard we lined up the coolers and laid out the meat, now grouped by type and cut and began the separation process.

Brats, wieners, sirloin, tenderloin, ribeye, new york strip, flank, skirt, flat iron, rump round, tenderized round, short ribs, soup bones, beef roast, ground beef, and the list goes on. Each member received a base package and then I had to make the executive decision on how to divvy up the rest. In the end I think our first foray was successful. All that remains is actually eating the meat!

With all the meat laid out, I quickly realized I had too much of the ground beef converted to hot dogs and brats. An error I will correct next time. Hopefully, when the club steps up to a 1/2 cow!

Not to just dump and run, I prepared a guide for preparing grass fed beef as its preparation is substantially different. The guide included a map of the cow so each member could learn more about Delicious and where each cut came from. Recipes for rubs, marinades, and sauces were also included along with tips for preparing and grilling the meat. I'll post it later.

First up, bratwurst. The package is thawing now and will be ready for the grill tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jack and Gil They Like To Chill

We voyaged out to We-Go (West Chicago) to visit our friends and meet their newest family member, Jack. It was a fun visit. Kristen spent most of the time holding Jack reveling in how small he was as compared to how fast they grow while lamenting how she can't even remember the time when Gilbert was once a newbie.

For me it was great to catch up and relax. Of course, we took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of Jack and Gil.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Counting The Days

Come Wednesday next week, I'll be off of work for three weeks. Yippee to me!

My firm offers paternity leave and I'm taking it. Good for one year, I held off using it when Gilbert was born thinking it might be more valuable come summertime. Those three weeks will be full of fun.Mostly visiting family, playing golf, hanging with Gilbert and getting some sun. I use to be a tan person, but the day job has killed that pasttime. And then the tan was good up to mid-arm and mid-thigh. Nothing is more attractive than a farmer's tan!

The next few days at the office will be tidying up my projects. I'm surgically connected to my BlackBerry so I will not be able to be completely devoid of work, but at least the responsibility of actually doing it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reacquainted With An Old Friend

More than a year and a half has gone by since I made contact. A year and a half too long! But this morning I made amends.

At 5am I teed it up and played golf for the first time since October of '06. As many of you know, knee surgery destroyed my golf season last year and after losing a game of chicken with a car, playing golf was further postponed.

After practicing for the past few weeks it was time to take off the training wheels and go out alone. Granted it was just nine holes, but it was a glorious nine holes. The City still asleep, I drove through the Loop onto Lakeshore Drive and headed north to play the nine hole track that is Sydney Marovitz. A nice layout, it suffers from destruction at the hands of the thousands of city golfers drawn to it as the only golfing refuge for those living downtown or to the north of the City.

The sun was just beginning to stir, but had yet to introduce itself to the world. In fact, the pro shop wasn't open either. So, I quietly slipped over to the 1st tee, smacked a 3wood down the middle (jitters be damn!) and begun my round. My game off the tee was in mid-season form hitting all the fairways. My iron play was inconsistent, but was expected. The greens were like putting on shag. Overall, I was pleased. Not bad, not great. But definitely some good moments. I shot a 40 and the rust definitely accounted for a few strokes.

But the best part was just being on the course. It reminded me of being a kid when I worked at golf courses and would be the first out to get a round in before working the bag drop. The grass was still wet with morning dew and walking would kick up the moisture onto the back of your legs. Just wet and cold enough to provide a little, friendly sting.

The course runs along Lake Michigan and as the sun broke the horizon you could feel its warmth. A jogging path runs along the course as well and it was full of joggers. Who jogs, willingly at 5am? Then again, they were probably wondering who plays golf at that time as well!

There were even times I forgot I was playing golf in the middle of the City. As I looped around to the finishing holes that run along the inner drive that tranquility was shattered by the beginnings of rush hour traffic. Only an hour and twenty minutes was needed to play and I was back home by 7am. What a great way to start the day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jumpin' Gilbert

Gilbert is becoming friends with his Johnny Jumper. This past week he's discovered the art of jumping. And twisting. And swinging. I'm sure the door frame will get a workout!

Got to love the background noise; clothes washer, Kristen beating eggs, and me making monkey sounds to entertain Gilbert. College education at its finest!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Many Faces of Gilbert

Pictures are courtesy of Kristen the Nanny! She gets to see all his crazy faces as his moods swing throughout the day. Glad she is around to capture his moments!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day...To Me!

And to all the other dads out there. Both new and veterans. Today is my first Father's Day. A day finally dedicated to PJ to allow me to do as I please. How cool!

And a good day it was. The weather was poor when we woke up - we brought Gilbert into our bedroom for some morning playing - and watched the storm front roll in. Gilbert seemed to enjoy watching as well. Or at least staring at the trees across the street get whipped back and forth by the wind.

No sooner did the storm unleash its rain and wind did it dissipate out over Lake Michigan so I set out on my original plan for the day; some PJ time at Harborside International for range practice. I've mentioned before the excellent facilities at Harborside and it has become part of my Sunday routine. As much for pleasure as for therapy to restore my strength and flexibility lost from the bike accident.

The course is a popular destination for city-folk - the best, and closest, fee-based course around the City. An interesting observation was the clientele today. No women. And all the foursomes were dads and sons. Very cool. Found myself looking forward to playing golf with Gilbert!

Back at home, we lounged, played, and watched the final round of the US Open. Turned out to be a great final round as Tiger miraculously sank a birdie putt to force a playoff on Monday.

The weather was still beautiful so we embarked on the second request I had for Father's Day and that was dining al fresco. A new Italian restaurant opened - Trattoria Isabella - recently just a few blocks away and we have wanted to sample their fare. The restaurant is in a nondescript office building and on first glance you would not know the establishment existed. The owners must have known this too and smartly built an expansive outdoor seating area equipped with a permanent, covered bar. In fact, they closed the inside portion and exclusively served outside. Smart move!

Jonesing for a 'sweet', Kristen was so Baskin-Robbins satisfied her craving as we continued to enjoy the day with a walk around the neighborhood. The employee working wished me a "Happy Father's Day". I was taken back at first not realizing he was talking to me. It was a mental check as if to say, "Yeah. That's me. A father!"

A new high-rise development is near completion only two blocks away and with it was a promise to build a park. I've been monitoring progress intently as it will give Gilbert quick access to a park. It is close to completion. The equipment is installed as well as the concrete paths been laid. Now the crew is installing the rubber asphalt ground around the equipment. This is only part of a larger park that has been graded and now awaits seeding for grass. Should be nice once complete!

Back at home, we watched the outcome of the golf tournament and begun preparations for back to normal Monday.

Oh yeah, Kristen and Gilbert gave me a fantastic gift - a Bulova watch - for Father's Day. Definitely a surprise.

I must say Father's Day has its privileges!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Peas Please!

Gilbert likes peas. I give him credit. I hated peas as a kid. My mom made me eat them growing up and it was a battle of wills as to who would win. No battle with Gilbert. The spoon lifts up from the bowl and his mouth opens like a baby chick waiting to be fed by his mother!

The latest pea feeding was a bit messy. When pureeing this batch, the peas became a bit thin (added to much of the cooked water). Add to the equation Gilbert's desire to be playful and you can see the results!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dive Bomber

As of late when Gilbert sees an object, toy, or something he wants to touch and investigate he's begun to lunge for the matter where he is at the time. Kristen and I now have to be more cautious in how we hold him as to not allow the Little Man to jump out of our arms.

In addition to the lunging he has begun to dive bomb. Breast feeding moms may be familiar to this as the babies have a tendency to lunge or throw themselves into your boobs, grab at your shirt, bra, etc. all based on instinct.

Well, Gilbert has done this to a lesser extent. However, what is funny is he likes to 'dive bomb' into his favorite blanket as witnessed by this video.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Splish Splash

Gilbert was making a mess in his bath! This is a portion of a greater splash session. After this episode, Gilbert graduated to the 'big boy' bathtub.

Unfortunately, Kristen and I have to develop a new routine for Gilbert. The past three nights have felt like we're all thumbs and he has been less than amused with the new surroundings. Hopefully we'll master a new routine soon as Gilbert's bathing time is a highlight of the evening!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Eater

Solid food and Gilbert are best friends. This is no secret as I've blogged about this plenty. During one of his recent dinners, he was particularly happy and was content to sit in his high chair upon completion (usually he's ready to move on to the boob topper or his bath).

Kristen finds it humorous that Gilbert crosses is feet. Full from his meal, he was in full recline and crossed his feet.
As if the gesture served as a signal to us for a 'meal well done!' Fast forward forty years and he'll be doing the same, just in his lazy boy chair and with his belt undone! How's that for illiteration!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Future Golfer?

I'm attempting to plant the seeds for Gilbert wanting to play golf early. I started introducing him to golf balls. He has taken to the round object. I think he likes the weight - as it is heavier than all the featherlight toys he currently plays with - and the texture.

However, like any object he comes into contact with Gilbert is not satisfied unless it goes into his mouth!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Teething Relief

As I write this post Gilbert is in his crib for a nap. I guess it is not a nap as he's not sleeping. No, I'm watching him on the monitor and he's grabbing his foot, shoving it in his mouth and then rubbing his foot across his gums for relief from teething he's currently going through.

Who needs ora-gel, pacifiers, or any other high tech stuff. Gilbert's solution to teething...his feet.


Laundry Helper

Kristen the Nanny was helping with laundry and Gilbert wanted to assist. I think he was more of a hinderance than a help, though!

Little Man

Sorry for the silence. Been sequestered in meetings and dinners the latter part of the week. But I'm back!

Gilbert has been waking up at nights lately. We quickly realized it was because he was too warm. A pool of sweat would be behind his head. Now that the warm weather looks like it is here to stay, we switched his pj's to short sleeve and without feet.

This has solved the sleeping challenge. He's back to sleeping through the entire night. However, with the change in nighttime wares, he looks substantially more like a Little Man and less like a baby. So sad!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Delicious Update

Just received word Delicious will be ready for pick up on June 15th. Oh yeah! Can't wait to get Delicious on the grill. I'm all stocked up on spices and dry rubs. To round out my arsenal, I picked up two types of BBQ sauce from local establishment Smoke Daddy.
The sauces are quite good and low in sugar (reduces the burn and charring of heavy sugared sauces). The sugar that is present is naturally occurring from the molasses that is used as opposed to pure cane sugar added for taste.
BBQ sauce tip: don't apply your sauces until just prior to the meat being finished. For example, for juicy skinless, chicken breasts as the breasts near completion apply to the top and turn over for 1-2 minutes. Apply to the other side and repeat. The sauce will be warm without charring the chicken. Of course, for brisket or other slow-grilling meats, the sauce will be more integral. Chances are you will combine it with a mop sauce as well.

Smoke Daddy sells three flavors here. I bought their Original and Sweet and Smokey. I have yet to test the flavors on my existing inventory, but have sampled it on some coldcuts and the flavors are fantastic!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

White Caps

I finally got a good look into Gilbert's mouth last night and saw not one, but two white caps just breaking through the surface of his lower gum.

Our feeding routine is solid food (last night's fare included oatmeal cereal and sweet potatoes) followed by a boob topper (Kristen hates it when I reference 'boob'). Once Gilbert is done, he's usually in a playful mood sits on Kristen's lap exploring by touching/grabbing her hair face, nose, clothes, etc.

I was sitting next to them enjoying it all when she began to tickle him and he'd open his mouth wide to laugh. It has been difficult to get a good look into his mouth. As parents, you know the challenge. Whenever you force something, the kid rebels. I'd stick my finger over his gums and his tongue would shoot out or he'd grab my hands away. But last night I was able to look right into his mouth (as drool poured out) and see the tops of his bottom two teeth. One is ahead of the other and still has a nice jagged edge. At least, Kristen tells me it is sharp!

The Cost Benefit of Making Baby Food

Now that the baby food making machine is in full gear, Kristen and I began to determine what makes sense to purchase and what we should make from home based on cost. Let me tell you, the money saved from making the food is amazing!

Sans applesauce (can't beat the cost of a big jar of the natural kind) just about every food is cheaper! For example, sweet potatoes. One medium sweet potato produces four servings for a baby in Gilbert's range. The sweet potato costs anywhere from 10-to-50 cents whereas a a single serving from the store can run between 75 cents and a buck. 50 cents vs. 4 bucks, hmm...tough call. Not!

We bake the potatoes when we make our own, I let them cool and quickly puree them up. Maybe takes an extra 15 minutes. And since I do the food in bulk, I just fill up a ice cube container and freeze it for later. Now Gilbert's food is done for part of the week.

Next up, peas. A frozen bag cost about $1.5. I get 8 servings out of the bag. Oh yeah! Prepared stuff costs about the same as the sweet potatoes. Do the math. Cha-ching!

Anyway, for any parents looking to budget or save a few bucks, in my opinion, experiment with making baby food.

Also, as your child sees you make the food once he/she is old enough to help it is a great opportunity to spend time together doing an activity that is constructive. Hope Gilbert will be a foodie like his parents!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Another Day In The Park

What another fabulous weekend! After spending most of Saturday assembling furniture and electronics, we were anxious to enjoy our Sunday outdoors. We headed to our favorite park for some swing and blanket time.

At Gymboree, Gilbert loves to play with their miniature beach balls. For two bills I thought I could splurge for the Little Man. We introduced the surprise to him. As you can see, he was quite happy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stimulating the Economy

Well, the Johnson's are doing their part to spur our economy through spending. And we did our best to increase the trade deficit by buying goods surely not made in the US!

We have been in our condo for just over a year. When we downsized our home, we sold our family room set. Not sure what we wanted to do in the living room, Kristen came up with the creative idea to combine our three file cabinets with our wine fridge, build a top for it and then drape it to create a faux buffet. Worked perfectly. It lasted about six months.

At home one day, Kristen had a moment of interior designer rage and disassembled the drape and made me take off the top we had cut for it (just plywood). So for the past six months we have just had the television (a whopping 20" LCD - got rid of the big bulky rear projection tv I had during my bachelor days!) and the stereo components sitting on top.

Come this spring I had enough of staring at file cabinets. We are adults and should have adult furniture. Problem, furniture - to me - is ridiculously expensive. To me it is just 'stuff'. I'd rather spend (or save!) the money elsewhere.

I challenged Kristen to design a built-in. When priced out it was quite expensive. Then again, the design was awesome, incredibly contemporary and would have been built with sustainable materials.

Since that didn't work, I succumbed to agreeing to buy furniture and we began looking for built-in's or entertainment centers. Of course, I rolled up my sleeves and did some research to assist Kristen (and to look out for my own interests!). Well, we ended up buying our media center from Crate & Barrel. It showed up this weekend.

Look how pathetic my television looks in it! I felt obligate to fill the void with a new television! Oh yeah. I almost pulled the trigger on a flat screen last year, but cancelled the order the day before it was to ship.
So, a year later I was prepared, but still reticent. Again, it is just 'stuff'! I settled on 42" plasma from Panasonic. Went to to compare and then price it out. Yes, I'm a research geek. However, as my friends know, when I'm committed to doing something I go full speed and don't mess around. Once I decided to buy the tv, I did my research and made the purchase in a single day. Hate loose ends.
The media center has yet to be complete. Most of our picture frames and other tchotchkes are in storage. Kristen wanted me to reiterate it is not done and would not allow me to show a full picture until it is sufficiently decorated. Stay tuned!