Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little Man Milestone

Thanks to all the readers of Little Man in the Big City.

Today the blog surpassed more than 6000 page reads!

Now, I only started metering the site in January, so the actual figure is much higher. Then again, if you subtract the number of times in a day Kristen and I visit to sneak a peek of Gilbert, it is probably a wash!

Whatever your vice; whether you are family, friends, or just a blog stalker (I mean that endearingly!) who wandered on to the site from another blog roll and now can't get the monkey off your back...all I say is "Keep Reading!"

All the Best,

Little Man's Dad


Kristen the Nanny caught this on film. She says Gilbert did it about 4 or 5 times before she decided to get the camera. Of course, we haven't seen him do it since!

Just outside the frame of the video is a mirror. We play with Gilbert in front of mirrors quite a bit and he loves them! He recognizes us in the mirror, but at the same time realizes we are next to him. He'll look in the mirror smile and then turn to us and smile again, as if to say "I see you!"

If you listen closely to the video, you can make out a faint "Hi", which coincidentally is what we say to him, well sort of, when we play in front of the mirror. You be the judge!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dog Days

I have a fantastic commute to work. 20 minute walk. Pretty sweet, I must admit.

One drawback. With the dog days of summer upon us, the walk results in a very warm PJ by the time I get to the office or return home. The walk is just long enough to get my body warmed up and the first signs of sweat appear on the brow and neck and cuff line of my shirt. Thankfully, I don't wear suit and tie anymore otherwise it would be miserable. Last Friday, I was decked out and when I got home my dress shirt was a wrinkled mess. I always laugh at the jokers on the 'L' with sweat spots showing through their work clothes and the guys who have to slip into the monkey suit everyday.

Some days to avoid being the 'sweaty guy', I have to be creative on my commute. And I have fun doing it. On the days when the sun is blaring (I walk into the sun to/from work), I'll attempt to walk to work only in the shadows of the buildings.

Just picture all the morning commuters with their cups of coffee, ears plugged with noise emanating from their ipod or phone all serious about their trek to work walking the most direct, efficient route to their job. Then there is that guy, meandering down the street zigzagging through the shadows. If you can't have a little fun on your way to work, what's the point. Besides, I'm a big believer in making your own fun!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BPA Free

Bisphenol A, commonly abbreviated as BPA, is an organic compound used to produce clear, hard polycarbonate containers, i.e. baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical devices, CDs, and household electronics.

BPA has always been suspected of being hazardous to humans. However, more and more research is showing that BPA is particularly dangerous for children. An endocrine disruptor and an estrogen receptor antagonist, long term exposure to BPA could induce chronic toxicity. I'm not a scientist and I know there is more to the research, but the result is maybe parents with children should take notice and perhaps make some changes.

Now I know what you are thinking, research can be twisted to represent a group's particular interests. And I agree. In fact, I have resisted being a hysterical, hypochondriac of a parent, but very recently retailers have begun to voluntarily pull BPA baby products from their shelves. That was my tipping point. Why do it unless there was good reason as it costs them money not to have the product on the shelves.

Okay concerned parents what are your options? Well, turns out there is a lot. First, there are baby bottles that are BPA free. We bought Born Free. Dr. Brown's makes BPA-free bottles as well. Of course, you can go the glass bottle route. Surprisingly, some of the BPA bottles, like Avent, make BPA-free bottles too.

I know what you are thinking. Baby bottles are only used for the first year. BPA is in those sippy cups as well! What are your options? Same thing. There are BPA-free sippies or you can do what we decided and go the stainless steel route. Thermos has a Foogo line. Upside is the beverage is kept cold.

Neurosis aside, just wanted to provide what might be valuable information. As a side note, Gilbert goes to town on the Born Free! Don't know if it is the flow system within the bottle or the nipple, but he's much more focused of a drinker than he was with the Avent!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blueberrry Poo

Yes, it is true. Perhaps I'm straddling the line of Too Much Information, but really, poo that smells like blueberries!

For those avid readers of Little Man, you know I attempt to make most of Gilbert's food. He's at the age where combo meals are the bill of fare. My recent combo concoction is applesauce and blueberries. Gilbert loves it!

Much like asparagus, the blueberries have a side effect, blueberry smelling poo. I was not a witness to the first exhibit, but Kristen told me she could smell blueberries the minute she walked into Gilbert's room. Doubting her, I had to witness it for myself. Sure enough, over the weekend, I reveled at Gilbert's output as I drew changing duty.

A bit sadistic, it was one of those smells that repealed yet enticed you to take another whiff. More out of sheer disbelief than curiosity.

Research has shown that some people have the 'gene' for this sort of stuff, if true, Gilbert will not get asparagus if I have anything to say about it!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gilbert was hanging with us in our room Saturday morning as we tidied up and prepared for the day. He made himself comfortable among the orgy of pillows (with love, Kristen!) on our bed. He acquisced to Kristen's shutterbug fix and flashed some good smiles. Of course, like a celeb tired of the paparazzi, he waved us off as if to say, " No mas!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Delicious Dilemma

Delicious is doing well. Still occupying my freezer, it is slowly dwindling. I have a dilemma though. I want to enjoy Delicious, but the more I enjoy, the less I have. Quite a dilemma!

I'm the same way with wine. I like seeing my wine fridge stocked, but I enjoy drinking the wine. I don't want to be out of my favorite bottle, but I want to drink it as well.

I know what you are thinking. JUST BUY MORE! Well, sure, that is an easy solution. But, I can be stingy in that respect, thus my dilemma.

ANYWAY! The latest Delicious discovery was flank steak. Kristen LOVES flank steak, so this was a particularly dicey endeavor as she was comparing Delicious to what we typically buy from Costco.

The end result. She liked it, but probably not as much as what she is used to. That is her dilemma. Kristen compares Delicious to what is known, the store bought steak. I'm working on her to accept that it is not a better/worse comparison, but that it is not an apple-to-apple comparison. Appreciate each for its own characteristics!

I'll be reaching in to the freezer tonight for some more Delicious. Outside the roasts (which I'll hold until the winter) I'm down to the good stuff - sirloin, NY strip, ribeye. Tough decision. Great, another dilemma!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bribery Leads To Corruption

You witnessed the earlier video post of Gilbert's energetic attempts to rollover. Continue my efforts to get him on his belly to spur the early stages of ground mobility, I have begun to bribe, er, entice him with treats.

Gilbert likes puffs. Sweet potato is his favorite (might be becuase this was the first food introduced to him), but he'll eat anything at this point. So, I began to place the puff container outside of arms reach so he would work on hopefully crawling toward it. As this video shows, he'll spend enough time to complete his task and roll over. So, in essence the bribery is working!

Well, bribery works in part, but often leads to corruption!

Factory Shutdown

With the employees refusing to work and produce, management has been left no choice but to shut down the factory!

Yes, the days of milk production have come to an end. A sad day indeed, but inevitable nonetheless. Kristen (Boss) cleaned out and packed up the pump and Gilbert (Client) is now relegated to the last of the frozen inventory as it is mixed in between feedings with formula.

The Boss was hoping to go a full year, but her two employees were just unable to keep supply up to match demand. Rumors abound as to the factory's demise.

Workplace injuries, vacations, no incentives, and poor healthcare are all potential contributors. As the Boss's displeasure with the two employees grew, Boss was forced to go outside for supply and as a result began to diversify holdings in order to satisfy the Client. The result was a downward spiral as the employees continued to produce less forcing the Boss to go elsewhere for a greater amount each time.

However, the Client is quite happy with the new options available. No longer relegated to just milk from the source, the Client has a multitude of menu options and is quite happy to be exlcusive Client of the Boss!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I was downloading pictures from the camera to the computer and came across these. While Kristen and I were out on Monday, Kristen the Nanny took these fantastic photos of Gilbert during his bath time. She left her signature trademark on Gilbert...the mohawk!

Standing Alert!

Kristen and I came home last night to learn that Gilbert had pulled himself up in his crib. We had an evening appointment so Kristen the Nanny kindly logged a few extra hours and put Gilbert to bed.

She was putting away his laundry and sat him in his crib to play. She heard him making noises and turned around to watch him - from a sitting position - grab the top bar of the crib and thrust up in to a standing position.

My first reaction was OH YEAH! But then quickly shifted to OH SHIT!

Thankfully, he has yet to master sitting up from laying down so we are safe with him not pulling himself up to a standing position at night and potentially falling out of the crib. No need to lower his bed quite yet.

Selfishly, Kristen and I enjoy the fact Gilbert is not mobile yet. We know those days are numbered and a new stage of wonderful (and challenge) awaits us.

Part of me thinks Gilbert might skip crawling. He's shown no indication of wanting to be on his belly moving. Instead he's on his belly long enough to grab or complete whatever task he wants and then rolls back over to his back.

He much prefers to sit and stand. Indeed, when he reaches for our hands, he quickly thrusts up in to a standing position and has shifted from being flat footed to constantly up on his toes. Almost as if he wants to walk. His knees are still locked out so the concept of walking has yet to settle. Of course, we encourage and work on his development, but he'll let us know when he is ready!

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday was a road trip, well a road trip in the sense we trekked it out to the far reaching suburbs of Cary to attended a baptism for friends.

Cary is where, in essence, I grew up. Most of my formidable years were spent in that town and I made two friends that have turned into lifelong buddies. We've known each other 20+ years! We've all remained close even during times when life has taken us in different directions.

In fact, one of them is transferring to Dubai in September for a few years. Looks like to see them will require a real 'road trip'!

Anyway, the baptism was held at a church that at one time (and still might be) in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most windows. As you can see in one of the pictures, stained glass is between every brick. Technically this serves as a 'window'. Pretty cool! Pictured is our friend Suzanne (Dubai bound!) with her daughter along with Kristen and Gilbert. As you can see Gilbert hit it off with her!

After the baptism, we all congregated at a family members house for food and camaraderie. Kids abound and they were all over the house playing. Gilbert was content to plop down and just watch the action. Being the ladies' man, he was not alone for long!

As usual, Gilbert was an awesome travelers sleeping both legs of the trip. However, it was a long day and we wound down on the sofa as I watched the last few holes of the British Open (got to love digital recording). Gilbert wanted to 'chill' and he does that best with his blanket!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Rollover

I mentioned Gilbert was showing signs of movement. He can now go from back to belly, but catching it on film has been like capturing a photo of the Loch Ness Monster! Well, finally I caught some of his rollover on film.

Getting him to rollover usually requires incentive and the best is the level on the toy that hangs from his crib. He reaches for it, pulls the lever and then rolls back over. He misses it here, but takes something back with him and then rewards himself for his achievement as he usually does when he's happy. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Morning

Nothing is better than a morning after Gilbert has had a good night's sleep. He's all smiles and loves the camera.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back At Work

I'm sitting at my desk back at work. Not much has changed. The mail did not pile too high and I cleaned out my email prior so I'm basically back up to speed. The summer months are often slower so nothing pressing was waiting my return.

I did recieve two requests to attend meetings/visit offices so I could be heading to Australia and South Beach. Of course, it is winter in Australia right now and brutally hot in Miami. Good timing on my part.

Signs of Movement?

Finally! Gilbert looks like he might ready, er, willing to be mobile. He's begun to stay on his belly more and now rotates to grab objects or change his vantage point. In bed he's moving around as well. His butt is starting to go up into the air as if he's going to put his knees under it for balance and propulsion.

Close to rolling over from back to belly he's reaching for more items and his awareness of surroundings has heightened. When people or objects go behind his field of vision, he is aware of its presence and expects it to be in the same place when he turns around. This makes for fun games. Especially peek-a-boo!

Also, he loves to stand up. When he's sitting and grabs my hands he shoots up into a standing position. This is not new. However, now he stays on his toes and wants to lunge forward.

All of this is very awkward, but the signs point to a mobile Gilbert!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The End Is Near

Today is my last day of paternity leave, i.e. FREEDOM! Tomorrow I'll be back at my desk. Ugh.

Temps are suppose to push 90 degrees. Not exactly ideal for taking Gilbert outside for prolong periods. Perhaps a trip to Gymboree? Otherwise, nothing incredible is planned for the day. Just a list of small tasks and items to complete.

My mind has already begun to transition as I cleaned out my work email last night. All my clothes are cleaned, ironed, etc. Feel like I'm just counting the hours until I go to the 'chair'! All that remains is what should I have for my last meal!

Carnivore Squirrels?

Gilbert and I went to the park yesterday for some afternoon 'swing time'. On the way to the park a squirrel came out of a city trash can. In its mouth looked like the remnants of a pork chop. The squirrel jumped out and ran to a base of a tree where it proceeded to clean the bone of any meat.

When did squirrels become meat eaters? Guess this is a prime example of darwinism. Scary!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gilbert's First Weekend Alone

No, we didn't leave him in his crib with a weekend's supply of food and water along with toys. With Kristen and I at the Crony Cup we dropped Gilbert off in the trusting hands of Kristen's mom. Taya has been planning Gilbert's arrival by preparing her home for the little man. She bought a pack-n-play and mapped out a weekend's worth of activities and parks.

She recently renovated the kitchen and the new deep sink was perfect for bath time! Gilbert adjusted easily, was intrigued by Taya's dog and cats, and overall had fun.

For us, this marked our first time away from Gilbert. Neither of us worried, but I do know Kristen talked with her mom at least once a day to check in!

Fantastic Golfing Weekend

Returned yesterday from my annual Crony Cup. Despite being on the losing team, the Cup was definitely a memorable time!

I believe I've posted about the Crony before, but to refresh it is a Ryder Cup-style event started by a group of guys who played golf together at Purdue. Of the twelve participants this year, 10 are still originals. I'm fortunate to be part of the group as a non-original! Most live in the Indianapolis area, but others have moved and now come from Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, and the New York area.

The golf is the main reason for the Cup, but tenants such as camaraderie, competition, and friendship definitely underpin the event. This year was no different.

The quality of golf is stellar with scores ranging from a few below par to the high 70's and I'm one of the weaker players of the Cup. However, once the first drive is hit, the competition becomes fierce. I drew 'A' players for all three matches making it tough. I played well the first two matches, but not well enough. The last match is one on one match play and again, I drew an 'A' player! However, I played my best and the match came down to the 18th hole. One down, I needed a birdie on the par 5. We both hit wild drives and I hit a fabulous low hook through the trees around a pond up to about 20 yards short of the green. My opponent was in jail in the woods and hit a great shot just to escape Sherwood Forest. He was so deep I asked if he saw Little Red Riding Hood in there!

Anyway, he stuck his approach to 4 feet leaving a kick-in for birdie. So, knowing I had to make my chip for eagle to win the hole and halve the match, I nearly did so as the ball ran over the right lip and stopped a few feet from the hole. Oh well!

Beyond the golf, the evenings were a blast. With the ladies in attendance, we had group dinners and on the last night an awards ceremony took place and the captains for this year's Cup created a Family Feud game for us to play. That was a riot!

In all, the Cup again lived up to its billing and I'm already looking forward to next year. The next Cup represents the 10th year and there is a lot of talk about taking the Cup on the road to a premier destination. Should be fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yep! Today is my birthday. 24. 39. Just kidding. 36. Ugh.

I've been joking with Kristen that on this day I will have passed the midway point. She was not pleased that I planned or wanted to check out by 70. Heck, the world is going to implode by then anyway!

But seriously. 36. I don't act 26!

How will I spend my day you ask? Not doing much. I fly to Indy this evening. Probably will spend the day just lounging, playing with Gilbert. Might take in a matinee, go read (and take a nap) in the park, or just sit on my thumb. The best part is it is my choice!

Long Drive

Yesterday was the final round of golf in preparation for my Crony Cup. The Crony consists of 12 guys who participate in a Ryder Cup-style tournament. Getting ready for the Crony has been difficult this year given my bike accident. However, the past few weeks away from work has helped!

I've attempted to play courses similar to the Crony course and in continuing with this preparation I went to Cog Hill. As a single or 'walk-on', I play roulette as to who I will be paired with for my round. I can play golf with all levels and still have fun, but it is nice to be paired with golfers of the same caliber.

I was in for a treat this time! I was paired with Sean "The Beast" Fister and his agent Stacey. The Beast is a 3x long drive world champ and is in the LDA Hall of Fame. The first hole was 325+ yards and he drove the green and sank his putt for eagle. This was going to be fun!

After a few holes and they realized I was a decent golfer the round became quite fun with a lot of conversation and storytelling. Well, I asked questions and then just listened. Turns out Stacey, the agent, used to be a guitarist for David Bowie back in the wild days. Good stories, wish I could have heard more.

The Beast was in town to do a show for the Speed Network. Eight long drive guys were paired up with eight drivers from NASCAR for a long drive competition. Filming takes today and the show will be aired over six weeks in September. They offered to get me tickets - most appreciated! - but I head out to Indy for the Crony.

Both were great guys and it was fun round. Shot 77, not bad in my own right. I did notice a few times I attempted to clobber my driver in attempt to keep up, show off, or whatever. Some results were good, some not so!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gilbert's First Visit To the Library

I have been quite delinquent in obtaining a library card. On my to-do list during my vacation, I set out this morning with Gilbert to accomplish the task. Also, Kristen and I wanted to learn of any children's programs or readings that Gilbert can attend.

Utilizing public transportation, we rode the 'L' around the loop to the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. Luckily, and without and prior planning on my part, each stop had elevators. Not all stops have accessibility and had either stop not had elevators we would have had to get back on the CTA and go to another stop. Whew!

I must admit not allowing strollers on escalators is a pain in the butt! In the library, I had to find the elevators to get to where we needed to go. Also, people can be rude about elevators. Young people not acquiescing to their elders, people with wheelchairs or dad's with strollers!

In the line with application in hand for my new card, Gilbert decided to start squawking. And loud! A few friendly looks from library staff and I realized my faux pau. Quickly, I inserted pacifier into child and quiet was restored!

Obtaining a library card was incredibly simple and swift. Afterwards we went into the children's library so I could reconnoiter the surroundings. I found the toddler section and we took a few minutes to read some books. Gilbert loved it. He quickly assumed the reading position - in my lap reclined against my chest - and waited patiently to be read to. With the library's schedule in hand, it was back on the 'L' for a quick ride home!

A Fun Holiday Weekend

I trust all my readers enjoyed their 4th of July and long holiday weekend. We sure did! We spent our time in Michigan visiting family and just relaxing. A hard task for me, I managed!

On the 4th I played a local golf course that was a quite a surprise and a treat to play. Reddemann Farms is located in Chelsea, MI and is on what used to be a working dairy farm. Now a well manicured golf course, the layout has nice rolling changes in elevation and winds through the local woods. At $32 to walk, it was an incredible deal!

Beyond the golf, we hung out on the property, enjoyed our time catching up, and playing with Gilbert and Jasper. For the evening of the 4th we built an ad hoc fire pit and started a bon fire. Kristen was able to fulfill her 4th wish of having smores!

Saturday consisted of traveling to family for a graduation party. It was nice to see Kristen's family as it has been awhile.

However, the most surprising aspect of the trip was to discover what a great traveler Gilbert can be. The trip was approximately four hours each way. He slept the entire trip home and on the way out he slept most of the way and when awake simply enjoyed his time in the car seat. Talk about a relief!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

From our family to all of yours, we hope you have a safe, patriotic and memorable 4th of July.

PJ's safety tip: when playing tag with roman candles, aim below the waist!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Traveling With the Kitchen Sink

I'm packing for the trip to Ann Arbor. Could I BE TAKING ANY MORE STUFF? Pack-n-Play? Check. Noise machine? Check. Video monitor? Check. Trip's worth of food and milk? Check. Stroller? Check. Sunscreen, lotion, diapers, wipes. Check. And the list goes on. I'm not sure if my mid-size SUV has enough room for me. And I'm the driver!

But seriously, the amount of stuff required when traveling with a child is immense. I know this is not new news to those veteran parents, but the reality of it has settled in. I'm considering contracting with a moving company to help organize each trip!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Week Down, Two More To Go

I've just enjoyed my first week (of three) vacation/paternity leave. I'm beginning to understand why the Europeans go on 'holiday' for an extended timeframe. I feel rested, been enjoying the sun, playing golf, and spending time with Gilbert all with the comfort of knowing I have two more weeks to go!

Checking my BlackBerry only sporadically, it feels good to be disconnected and have gone a few days without checking email. Quite wonderful. I had to ask someone today what day it was!

Tomorrow starts road trip #2 as we head to Ann Arbor for the 4th of July to see Kristen's brother, their new home, and newbie Jasper. Don't fear, the golf clubs are coming with me!