Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little Man Fever

Gilbert has his first fever. Staving off a cold he caught while we visited friends in Indy, it seemed to be coming to an end. Then yesterday he was just 'off'. A bit lethargic, not his happy self, insert thermometer (armpit thank you - as a fellow dude no way that thing is going 'in' the 'out' door) and with 99+ degrees registered it is official...Gilbert has a fever.

He woke up a few times last night quite warm and crying. I must admit, if the crying we experience is his full-blown "I'm sick" crying, we got lucky! Regardless, the Little Man is just not feeling good.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I, er, Gilbert was getting bored with his toys. Problem solved with a quick visit to Toys'R'Us. I was looking for something big. And I found it. A pullcart wagon type filled with large lego-like blocks. Cool!

Anyway, on Sunday I attempted to teach Gilbert how to link and unlink the blocks. He quickly grasped the unlock concept. Putting the pieces together? Stage two. Stay tuned.

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Best of Both

We all know Gilbert likes to swing at the park and he enjoyed his jumper back when he was a wee-bit smaller. Like the amazing discovery of combining peanut butter and chocolate, Gilbert has turned his jumper into a swing-jumper.

I love it, but watching Gilbert sling himself back and forth makes Kristen nervous. With his weight pushing the upper bound of the jumper's limit, time is limited so let the Little Man have his fun, I say!

At this point, he's destroyed the door frame and I'm going to have to a lot of patch work to get the frame looking new!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Discharge

I was officially discharged from physical therapy on Thursday. A relief and a bit unsettling. After 4 1/2 months, there is not much left for me to do. The staff at Athletico rocks and my PT was amazing! As my symptoms and ailments shifted, she worked with me to help understand the problem and in turn solve it.

Equal parts separation anxiety - it is amazing how doing PT creates the sense of a second home - relief of having my nights free again, and an uneasy of not knowing what to do next to bring closure to my bike accident, Kristen and I joined a new gym over the weekend. Mainly to help us shed the layer of film that has begun to encase our bodies.

Our current gym is good, but basic. Meanwhile, all my 'people' have been recommending alternative types of treatments such as swimming, yoga, pilates, etc. Well, our gym just doesn't have that. So, we joined the neighborhood athletic club. The facility is awesome! Beyond the full amenities, the membership is incredibly reasonable compared to other full-service health clubs and we really like the family atmosphere. They have a secure 'kids club' and allow kids in the lap pool. In fact, they even have dedicated family swim time!

I think Kristen summed it up best as she said being there "made her want to work out". After signing up, I immediately went for a quick swim. Well, it is safe to say my triathlon endurance is gone! But it felt great to swim and the back appreciated some low-impact exercise!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gilbert's Rap

Gilbert was in a good mood tonight after his bath. Advanced for his age, Gilbert was working on his rap. Check out his pose!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gilbert's Perch

Friday mornings are always lazy mornings for us. With Kristen at home on Friday's, there is a more relaxed atmosphere as the need to be 'on-schedule' for both of us as we prepare for our workday. I'm free to get ready as I desire and today, Kristen departed for a quick trip to a showroom so Gilbert and I played on the bed.

Letting in some morning light, he gravitated to all the activity taking place across the street. He crawled in to the position you see in the pictures and simply watched the construction in progress. Probably for at least 10 minutes. He was oblivious as to whether I was even in the room!


I would have left and taken care of PJ's needs, but he is crawling so leaving the Little Man unattended on an elevated surfaces is not in my best interest!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reading In Bed

Now that Gilbert is quite the scooter, he no longer just sits in his crib. He's been moving around more and more exploring his boundaries. Gilbert's crib is flanked by two bookshelves that house his toys, stuffed animals, and yes, books.

Gilbert has learned he can reach the books and has begun to pull them off the shelf and play with them. Of course, until he learns to stand the books most often end up on the floor!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burlap Underwear

We're back from our weekend trip to Indy and I must pronounce the blanket experiment is a complete failure!

Being the smart cat that I am, both blankets made the journey. Throughout the weekend, we would attempt a bait and switch. To no avail. He'd kick off the blanket with sheer determination and vehemence. It was if we dressed him in burlap underwear!

There is something about those first two blankets that are different than the other (which by the way feels more like the 2nd of the two originals than the two originals feel to each other!). Whether it is feel, smell, color, whatever the new blanket didn't stand a chance!

#3 has been relegated to the bench and will be used for other activities beyond serving as Gilbert's trusted guardian during his sleep. Looks like I'll need to stock up on the 'original'!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Memory Loss

That is the best phrase to describe my golf game from the weekend. As a refresher, Team Johnson was in Indy to see friends and I played in a charity golf outing. Excited to play, besides Doral, I hadn't played since July.

After my Doral experience I was feeling confident I could continue the good play. Yeah right! There is good and bad and then the way I played on Saturday...abysmal! It was like I had memory loss and forgot how to swing the damn golf club. My back was hurting, but that doesn't account entirely for my poor performance. Sure, I hit a few good drives, but otherwise I felt like a beginner. Equal parts embarrassed and pissed off, I plodded my way through the round searching for a glimmer of something familiar. Nope.

Mercifully, a big rain storm came in. Unfortunately, the round was cancelled. We were playing well and in potential contention to win. As a team we were something like 10 under through 12 holes. The best part was the golf outing raised $14k for the local chapter of the Tuberous Schlerosis Alliance.

Despite my poor performance it was great to just be out on the course playing with friends and having a good time. On Friday, our friends who were kind of enough to shelter us had an impromptu get together and it was great to see everyone. Kristen and I have gained some good friends in Indy over the past few years and it is always great to see them - which is never enough!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blanket Dilemma

I was reading today's post from Gershwin Drive and the timing is uncanny. My post today is about Gilbert's magic blanket or rather our 'blanket dilemma'.

As part of cache that comes with baby showers, we picked up a 'snuggly' (Kristen's term). I must admit, the damn blanket is quite soft. Must be the organic cotton. Anyway, Gilbert took to it immediately as he sleeping blanket. In fact, you've seen many posts with him and the blanket.


Concerned about losing it, damaging it, wearing it out, etc. we bought a backup. That was a few months ago. Along the way, we've attempted to use other blankets, but to no avail.Gilbert will kick them away, throw them off, or simply repel from being near the foreign objects. Believing you can never have enough of a good thing, Kristen went to pick up a third, but the same pattern was out of stock. Instead she grabbed the same type of blanket, but in a different pattern.

We wondered if Gilbert would accept the new snuggly. As a test last night, I removed his blanket while he slept and inserted the new blanket. He immediately pushed and kicked it off. No way, you say! I say, yes indeed.

I conducted the test a few times all with the same result. The blanket felt the same. Hmmm...Maybe it was an olfactory issue. So, this morning I washed the new blanket with his other backup. I had to depart for work before it was done drying. Will test it out tonight.

If it doesn't work, we could have a dilemma. Stay tuned!

Road Trip

Heading out tomorrow as a family to visit some friends in Indy (people say 'good friends' a lot, but what does that mean? They have 'bad friends'? Is there such a thing? Anyway...)

This September trip has become an annual mecca. I play in a charity golf outing with some buddies who live local to support the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. Our friends have two boys, and the youngest was born with TS. The tournament is a fundraiser for the local chapter, but the real fun is we get to hang out with our friends!

Should be especially fun as Gilbert will get to play with the boys and they have all kids of toys! We haven't traveled with him since his mobility, so it should be fun.

Come Monday I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures to share!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mi Casa, Gilbert Casa

We have done a swell job containing Gilbert's metaphorical footprint on the condo. If you were to visit, beyond his room it would be difficult to see that a child lives in here.

That is changing. Our guest bathroom has a stand-up shower, so Gilbert baths in our bathroom. At first we kept things minimal - a few toys, etc. - that were quickly dried and put away after each bath. Then we'd leave the stuff out to dry and put it away the next morning. Then the stuff began to multiply.

As he's grown, so has his collection of bath stuff. Today we succumbed and Gilbert's stuff now has a permanent place in our shower. The acceptance was harder for Kristen than me, but I understand why. Then again, I look forward to shooting some hoops during my morning shower!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mimic

Gilbert will now follow directions, albeit basic. Commands like 'clap your hands' usually follow with him clapping his hands. We have a few more that are working as well, but the latest is the 'clacking' sound you can make with your tongue. He started doing this on his own, but if we do it first he's soon to follow. Witness.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

On A Mission

With Saturday a bust due to the rain, we played in Gilbert's room most of the day. His personality really comes through at times. He is fanatical about some of his toys, in particular his bucket-of-shapes, wooden blocks, and tower of rings.

When he sees any of these, he immediately scoots over to play. Well, play is a stretch. More like deconstruct!

If I'm building or stacking the blocks he comes over to simply knock them down (then pauses to bang a few together before moving on). For the other two toys, he locates, attacks, and removes/strips each item from its home.

Bear witness to his singular determination to clear a path to the bucket and then focus systematically on removing each piece!


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kristen's Handbag Shopping Extravaganza!

Saturday might have been an abysmal day in the City, but it was golden for my wife! She was one of the fortunate to be invited to a warehouse sale for 1154 Lill Studio.

Started by a single woman who enjoyed making handbags in her spare time, she has created a brand identity that resonates well beyond the borders of Chicago. At 1154 Lill YOU design your own handbag! Chronicled in numerous magazines, 1154 Lill is one of Kristen's favorite handbag stores. The company even has their own blog!

A repeat customer, Kristen is on the mailing list and received an invite to attend the warehouse party. Limited to the first 600 respondents, the invitations were filled within a day!

After following her husband's sage advice, she departed early to ensure she was one of the first 50 and thus guaranteed to get the free gift - a sleek cosmetic bag.

So, while Kristen was away at play, Patrick was at home toiling. Yeah, right! Gilbert and I played, watched ESPN, and while he napped I actually did some of my various domestic duties!

I was in the kitchen when she came home and seeing her haul in a white garbage bag, my reaction was "Oh shit!". However, Kristen knows how to find a bargain and did she! First, the warehouse sale was of samples. Second, the bags were 50-75% off the retail price. As a result, Kristen came home, with what I must admit, were some fun bags (you knew I was going to find a way to say 'fun bags'!).

Being the incredibly caring husband that I am, I participated in the retelling of her morning (actually pretty cool - she met the owner, toured the warehouse and factory, and conversed with the designers that work for the company) and was treated to a showing of all four bags and how they will serve her well during work and play.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Impact Of Ike

Last time I was able to talk with my P's was at 7:30 this morning. Power is out. Cell phone service was spotty and is all but nonexistent now.

My dad said the winds were making the howling sound, which signals 80+ mph winds. That starts to break things...like trees.

I attempted - to no avail - to reach them throughout the day. Called my sister - lives in Big D - and she heard from them late tonight. They were lucky. No damage. However, neighbors around them did sustain direct hits from trees, flying debris, etc. Natural disasters have always intrigued me, especially the randomness of what is destroyed while what is spared.

Oh yeah, my dad commented that the swimming pool is now a mud pool. He takes great pride in keeping that pool clean, I'm sure he'll be at it first chance he gets to clean it up! Check this out - hurricane tip, to prevent flying patio furniture, drop it in the pool. Crazy, huh! Bet that works for tornadoes as well. Never heard that one before.

Mail Call

You can never be too careful with your mail nowadays. So, to screen all the unwanted credit card offers, coupon books of stuff we'll never buy, and any other solicitation coming our way Gilbert is now in charge of the family mail.





As you can see, he takes his job very seriously and thoroughly scrubs the junk from the good mail. Then again, I haven't seen my paycheck in a while...


Friday, September 12, 2008

In The Path Of Hurricane Ike

My P's live in Houston and are bracing for the onslaught that is Hurricane Ike. My dad just emailed me pictures of all the rooms, the house, cars, etc. as a precaution for any potential damage. With winds project over 80 mph, chances are a the tall, whispy pine trees that cover the Houston-area will be uprooted and end up in their pool, the garage, or the house.

Of course, I told him to leave the cars outside so if the trees fall maybe the cars will be totaled and he can get a new ride!

But seriously, messing with a hurricane is no laughing matter as we can now all attest to from witnessing Katrina. Hopefully, Ike will behave, reduce it in ferocity and just pelt the area with rain. Let's hope...

Samurai Jack

Got to love Netflix. A member now for awhile, I've sufficiently caught up on all the movies that I wanted to see (or at least those I remember!). Now I'm beginning to work through series (TV and cable).

While perusing I came across an old cartoon series I used to watch with zeal, Samurai Jack. It was on the Cartoon Network. Loved it. So, I added all the shows into my queue and last night watched the kickoff movie for the series. Awesome.

Samurai Jack is a smart, creative cartoon that is part animae/part still drawings. Check out all you need to know on its wiki page. The principles of the character are worth teaching (loyalty, discipline, righteousness, etc.). If you have boys, I recommend the show.
And the show has enough edge to even attract an older audience (I'm case in point! Although an argument can be made I'm actually just a big kid). Now if you excuse me I need to go practice my ka-ra-teh on my boss.

Minor Procedure

When you hear someone say this term, usually it is in reference to a very personal area and the phrase is code for "I'm too embarrased to tell you."

Well, today I have a minor procedure, but actually it is minor. I'm getting a steroid injection. No, not to boost my physical structure so I can compete at Olympiad levels, but rather as an attempt to alleviate my annoying back pain as a result of the bike accident.

I've heard mixed reviews on the effectiveness of such a procedure, but I have to go through with it as protocol since this is all part of the process. What a pain in my, well, back!

I'm suppose to 'lay low' the rest of the day. That means not lifting Gilbert or playing with him actively. How tortureous!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Blog

Well, my friends have landed and are settled in to their new life in Dubai. Check out their blog. I have also added their blog to my blog roll on the right.

Cheers!

On The Move

It is official, Gilbert is on the move. He continues to master 'the scoot'. Kristen was home yesterday and wherever she would be Gilbert would scoot towards her. In the other room? No problem, Gilbert found her. However, he was distracted by the electrical sockets so the time has come to safety plug all the unused sockets!

And now that he's on the move Gilbert is determined to get as close as possible to the construction site across the street. He scooted up to the sliding door and slapped the glass as he watched the crane raise and lower materials!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Financial Planning

I remember fondly a simplier time when my only financial worries were paying rent and figuring out what bar was going to serve as my dinner for the evening. No car, no car payment. Retirement? What's that? I was more concerned on handicap score than the value of my 401k.

When did it change? When did it get so complicated? Oh yeah, marriage! Children! Turning 30!

I have always considered myself financial savvy. I enjoy the markets, researching stocks and mutual funds. However, I humbly admitted long ago I did not know enough to ensure my future or that of my wife, and now son.

Armed with that fear, it was time to enlist professional help. You may employ the services of a financial planner, or maybe not. All I can say is they are worth it!

This post is not a shameless plug for my advisor - Chris - or his company - Ameriprise - however, it is a referral business. Rather this post is a call to arms for all those couples or new parents that considering a financial planner is definitely a wise choice, and investment!

For Kristen it has been an eye-opener. I cherish the trust she bestowed me with our finances, but I privately yearned for her to be interested (or concerned). Now she is actively involved, asks questions, and sometimes challenging my kingship! How dare she!

But seriously, it has brought piece of mind, helped us realize our goals are attainable and ensured that we will not have to send Gilbert in to the rice fields next year to pay for his college!

Meeting Reggie

Sunday was a gorgeous day and we went to the local park for the few remaining hours of sun in the day. Dave and Kathy were in town - along with their new dog, Reggie - and swung by to see Gilbert.

Gilbert likes dogs and Reggie didn't seem to mind. A mix of shit-tzu, bijou, dijon, whatever, Reggie is a little guy. Still just a pup he is full of energy, but tired quickly playing with the Gilbert and all the other dogs at the park.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Volunteer Project

Tonight is the kick-off for my latest pro bono project. I volunteer for the Taproot Foundation. As an Account Director, I help select grants for non-profit organizations and then staff the project team for the specific grant and ensure a positive experience for all parties involved. Basically, I'm a seagull manager. Just kidding!

Proud of all my grants, I'm particularly excited about this one. The NP is the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. The grant given will be to develop a brochure targeted at membership awareness to help improve the organization's membership retention rate. Should be fun.

For obvious reasons, I have a personal affinity for this grant. A bicyclist and recent crash victim, learning more about what the organization does to advocate bicycling (and safety!) and to help promote their cause was of particular interest for me.

Tonight is the kick-off for the project team I assembled. If I ever have a lack of surety, it is at this meeting. I meet face-to-face for the first time with the team I hand-picked based solely on their resume from the volunteer database and a single phone conversation. I'm always wary that I picked a bad team, but so far all my grants have been successful. Tonight I will find out if my personnel skills are still sharp.

Making Noise

Gilbert has loved to clap his hands from early on. And lately he's learned that when he claps his hands together with force, they produce sound. Now, up until very recently he's only been willing to hold on object in his hand at a time.

He's now learned that if he holds two objects and attempts to clap...sound results! Let the banging begin. Next step? Pots and pans!

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Monday, September 8, 2008

It Is Not Pretty, But Effective

The latest in Gilbert's mobility evolution.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Being Manly

As I write this post Gilbert is taking a morning nap and Kristen is out running errands and taking a jog.

Waiting for NFL Countdown to kickoff my Sundays of football, I did some channel surfing and found that HBO is having a free weekend. Playing is one of the best man movies of recent, The Bourne Ultimatum. Being the multi-tasker that I am, I'm also doing some family laundry.

I'm watching the kick-ass hand-to-hand combat scene right now as I fold my boxers and Kristen's unmentionables. What a dichotomy. Is there anything less manly than folding your lady's laundry?

Cloud Gate

After the wine tasting we strolled back toward home. Walking through Millennium Park we detoured to the 'Bean'.

In case you have not seen it, the Bean is actually called Cloud Gate, but became known as the Bean by its shape - much to the dismay of the artist - and was the center of much conversation during the creation of Millennium Park. To learn more about how the park came to be and the history behind the bean check out the links.

The attraction to the Bean is the unique angles of the city that reflect off the sculpture. We took the opportunity to capture some pictures.

Gilbert loves looking at the mirrors at home. Particularly watching his parents. Just recently he became enamored or interested in looking at himself. We had a blast during our time. We walked around and under the sculpture and all Gilbert did was reach out his arm to touch it.

Outdoor Wine Tasting

On Saturday we attending a wine tasting in Millennium Park. Outdoors and in the afternoon, we thought this would be a great opportunity for all three of us to do something together and be the urban family we claim to be!

All was going well. Gilbert was in a fantastic mood all day and continued his great demeanor as we strolled along tasting wines. Then, Gilbert had a 'stranger, danger moment'. A grandfather type got down to Gilbert's level while he was in his stroller and violated Gilbert's zone of comfort. So much for Gilbert staying in his stroller!

Once he has a stranger, danger moment, he does not recover well. With the safety of his stroller compromised he wanted to be held the rest of the tasting. So, we took turns passing him from one another as we tasted As the day passed in to the evening, the area became more crowded and knew it was time to head out.

However, we had a good time and enjoyed being out. The weather was fantastic and along the way we were able to catch up with some friends who had recommended the event to us. It was a good time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gilbert is on the move. Still relying on his 'scoot', he is moving more swiftly around his room. More interesting than his mobility is his ability to recognize cause and effect. Looks like 'baby proofing of the condo will be coming soon!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Then And Now

A few posts ago I talked about the going away party for friends. Well, the pictures from the gathering have begun to circulate. Included was a nice group photo. Seeing the photo reminded me of an older photo of the same group circa 2003.

THEN












How times change! Edges soften, families move, and the kids have definitely arrived! Couples are celebrating 3, 5, and upwards toward their ten year anniversaries! All said, the group still gets together on occasion - a tribute to the friendships that have formed.

NOW














The kid count continues to rise! Among the seven couples pictured, 10 rugrats can be claimed and an 11th is on the way!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In The Postal Service I Do Not Trust

Sifting through my mail that piled up while on my trip I came across a package from The Good Cook. A member of their book club, I have not made a purchase recently. However, I do get shipments occasionally when I fail to respond to the monthly selection in time.

Thinking this was another one of those occasions, I was about to 'sharpie' RETURN TO SENDER all over the shipping carton when I noticed the familiar yellow forward to sender sticker our friends at the United States Postal Service affixed on mail that needs to be forwarded.

Well, we've been living at this address for awhile so I was perplexed as to the address sticker. Besides the club has been sending me mail ever since the move.

Curious, I opened the package. In it were three cookbooks. The same cookbooks I had ordered from the club...back in early 2007! I opened the packing label for the invoice date - May 2007. Unbelievable! This package had been floating around the netherworld that is the USPS system for more than a year before it made it to my old address. Wow!

I do remember now having to contact the club as to the status of my shipment. They graciously sent the order a second time. Wanting to return the favor, I have contacted the club inquiring what they want me to do with the books. They do belong to the club and I already have them. Stay tuned...

The books, you ask? 400 Best Comfort Food Recipes, Luscious Berry Desserts, and 100 Great Lite Bites (no longer carried by the club). Interested in the club? It is definitely worth joining. The commitment is minimal and the books are much cheaper than the stores. Always has deals (2 for 1, buy 2 get a 3rd free, etc) too. I used the club to round out my library of cookbooks. Needed to offset titles such as How To Grill Animals Killed With Your Bare Hands and Properly Pairing Animal Flesh With Alcohol, A Culinary Adventure.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gift From A Friend

A few posts ago I talked about a recent visit from longtime friend Gina. Well, we received a present for Gilbert from her (and famil). And what a great gift it is!

Gilbert immediately took to it. Porter is incredibly plush and comfy. I see Porter being a favorite of Gilbert's for a long time!