Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bath Time

Gilbert digs his bath. What kid doesn't, right? Recently he's begun to explore putting his face in the water. Like catching an elusive animal in the wild, I finally caught on video Little Man blowing bubbles!

And good timing. We are heading to an indoor water park this weekend and his desire to explore the water more will definitely make the weekend more fun!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Afternoon At The Shedd

Kristen and Gilbert spent Monday afternoon at the Shedd Aquarium. What did I do? Work. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

Kristen met up with an former colleague, Tucker, who now is a nanny (and loves it!) for two kids. Apparently all the museums in January are free (or something to that affect) and with the weather bitterly cold, why not go exploring in some of the best muesums in the country?

This is not the first time Kristen and Tucker have got the kids together for an outing and apparently the little girl, K, is smitten with Gilbert. I'm not sure if it goes both ways, but she is quite friendly with him and likes to offer hugs! Well, at the Shedd it continued. Got to love this picture!

That love affair ended when K decided she'd like to eat some of Gilbert's goldfish! And for Kristen and Tucker, I think they were just happy to partake in some adult conversation and being out of the home!

Cost Conscious Treat

In my building is a caffe called Caffe Rom. People flock to it for their morning jolt of caffeine. On occasion I venture in for another treat they have called Yo-Fruit. Basically it is a parfait of granola, fruit, and low-fat yogurt. Originally, I would indulge maybe once every few weeks. Then it became once a week, and then finally a few times a week.

I had an epiphany after a few months that I was just as bad as those coffee addicts that shell out four bones for flavored java, but instead I was paying as much for simply a healthier high (remember I have never drank coffee, ever! And giving me caffeine is the equivalent of giving any addict keys to the store loaded with the vice of choice. Translation. PJ on caffeine...very bad!).

So, I took control. I make my own now. I dropped just north of$10 initially for a double box of Kaisha from Costco and a large container of low-fat vanilla yogurt. As my base, I anticipate getting at least 20 servings. Another $5 - $10 gets me my fruit whether fresh, frozen, or canned (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, mandarin oranges.etc.) and KA-POW! I'm in business with an equally healthy and substantially cheaper alternative.

If you have kids, what a great way to get fruit, dairy, and fiber into their daily diet. Same goes for adults. Especially if you are fiber challenged! And it tastes great along with all the different textures. All that remains is a cool name for my pirated concoction!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Christmas In January

The last of the 'Christmases' took place this past weekend. With so much family on Kristen's side it is just impossible to see everyone in December. A few years ago we decided that Kristen, her brother, and mother would get together.

We've been rotating among homes and spend the day just enjoying each other's company. With grand kids, the focus is on them. Gilbert seemed to really enjoy opening presents this time. In particular, the removal of the paper. Not so concerned with the gift inside!

The rest of the time we just relax, eat, drink and play with the kids. Gilbert loves to ride on Uncle Ryan's (with Aunt Shannon) shoulders as it gives him easy access to hair, ears, and chops to grab on to!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band

Sunday morning we had a date with a band. Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band were in town. Because Gilbert is on the on wait list, the Montessori School - host to the band - we receive invites to some of the school's events.

This seemed like fun and would be a different way to spend our Sunday morning. And with brunch scheduled with some friends, this would lead right up to it!

The place was packed! The kids were invited to come in their pj's and come in their pj's they did!

The band has six members, but only three for this occasion. The lead singer, Alex, is a music teacher and his story on how the band was created is quite interesting. Check them out here. The entire concert was interactive with kids and parents making sounds and responding to the chorus. One song was just for the dad's and we were encouraged to the one thing I love to do with Gilbert...throw him in the air.

Gilbert is transitioning out of his 'two a days' for naps. He's been dropping the morning nap and unfortunately on this day, he looked like he could use it!. As the concert came to a close, so did Gilbert! As evident from this photo, he was going zombie on us, but I had to included it because I think it is a good photo of Kristen.

What's My Motivation?

No, I'm not a method actor. It is a new year and I've yet to clasp on to my 'thing' (clean minds, please) for 2009. I'm not a resolutionist, but instead use the new year to explore or do something new.

Such an approach has taken me down interesting paths shaping some of my past and current hobbies and interests; triathlons, sky diving, karate, mixed martial arts (derailed by the damn bike accident), scotch, wine, and pro bono volunteer work as well as taking on a really fun home improvement project when we lived in the 'burbs.

But I'm struggling this year to find my 'thing' (again, clean minds folks!). I know my buddies in the Crony Cup are screaming "Play more golf!", but perhaps there is something else? Learn a new language, pursue some professional development, or perhaps rekindle a past hobby or interest? Whatever it is, I haven't found it and I think being in limbo is affecting my chi!

Any suggestions?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Going Post-al!

I was reading the tagline of my blog this morning when I realized I write about only one aspect of what the blog was meant to be. Currently, you, the reader, get a full does of Gilbert through the eyes of someone experiencing fatherhood. I wonder, am I depriving my readers by not sharing the comedy and tragedy that is my sanity and perhaps domestic bliss (that might involve permissions from the Inspector General aka my wife)? Maybe? Maybe not!

Let the experiement begin. From this point forward expect to see posts that venture into these areas. If you couldn't care less (why do people always say "I could care less"? Does that mean they could, but choose not to or that they do care, but just not that much? I'm confused.) about this information, let me know.

I don't want to lose my core readership that really only cares about Gilbert and couldn't care less about my life in general terms or whether I have whoopi with my wife (oops, probably should have cleared that with the IG!).

And it begins...


I am now officially Skyped. A buddy of mine (known since 7th grade!) recently relocated to Dubai with his family. Good friends of ours we have been tracking their adventures through their blog.

However, we finally bought a web cam this week and after downloading Skype we are talking and seeing them live over the internet.

Must admit it was pretty cool! Maybe I can talk my parents into getting a web cam so they can see Gilbert whenever they want!

If you have distance friends or family, Skype is a free method to communicate with them. All you need to do is purchase a web cam. We bought the Logitec 9000 and it took all of five minutes to install.

The only downside to web camming? You can't multitask!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gilbert's Cage

I had Gilbert for a few hours on Monday while Kristen ran errands and went to the gym. During that time, Little Man napped and during this time decided to lay siege to his crib. He pulled the quilt off the wall (second time that day) and was into all kinds of mischief.

Like a monkey in a cage restless, I caught on film the wild one in his caged habitat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gymboree Fun

Kristen and Gilbert made one of their weekly visits to Gymboree and had a blast! Through Gilbert's class both he and Kristen have met some wonderful people. C and O are often at the class or open gyms at the same time and the mom's have enjoyed hanging out.

This past class seemed to be especially fun just from viewing the pictures. Kristen snapped a lot, but with the kids moving so much only a few were actually in focus!

Both C and O are walking and running while Gilbert prefers to scoot. As a result, he often is content watching them move. Sometimes C's older brother (S) will come to class and Gilbert particularly likes watching S zoom around as he is doing here along with O (and her mom) and C.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Construction Quilt

For Christmas, Gilbert received a new quilt from his Gram, my mom. Knowing his love for the crane across the street, Gram made him a 'construction quilt'. We brought it out a few days ago and he loves it!

When the quilt is laid down, he is enamored by it and likes to play on it with his construction trucks. Exhausted from his play, he took a break and loved up to his blanket.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What is Gilbert Doing?

The past week has been consumed dealing with the fallout from Kristen's accident. Update. Kristen drives to work, slides on black ice, hits guardrail, air bags deployed, car totalled, new car purchase. Back to normal.

The week has been eventful for Gilbert as well. He's flirting with the idea of walking. Step 1...learn how to stand up unassisted. The past week we'll be playing and all of a sudden there is Gilbert standing by himself. Then he'll realize what he's doing and the knees buckle and down he goes! Priceless to see the look on his face, "Oh s***, I'm standing up. What am I thinking?"

And talk about being aware of one's surroundings! Now, every time he hears the 'L' or a Metra train, he turns to the window, points at it, and makes a sound, a noise, or some inaudible vocal and continues to do so until either Kristen or I respond by saying, "Train". At that point, the balance in the universe has been restored and Gilbert goes back to doing whatever he was doing before the train noise was heard. Funny, huh? 20-30 times a day. How funny is that?

Then there is his progression with talking. He has had 'mama' down for a long time now. What he does is over accentuate some of his word-sounds. Check this out.

What else? Oh yeah, Gilbert is enjoys dumping everything out of his crib. Yep. Especially during daytime napping. First to go is the animal zoo. The stuffed animals are easy to throw out with one hand. There is the frog. The gorilla. The monkey. And sometimes the occasional dinosaur. Next up a small pillow from Kristen's aunt Janet.

What remains? His blanket. A bit more difficult to extract. Gilbert will stand up and with one hand hold the rail and then lean back to the crib to grab the blanket. He'll attempt to throw it and then when that doesn't happen, still hanging by one hand, use the other to pull and throw, pull and throw. Repeat until the blanket has been expelled. Not sure why he begun to do it, his intentions were quickly revealed. With a clean dance floor, Gilbert grabs with both hands the top rail and proceeds to dance by bending his knees. His 'slow dance' picks up and he gets into the groove without any objects to interfere. Especially when he gets really excited and decides to jump. Yes, jump. Definitely clearance between his feet and the mattress. And to hear him squeal with delight. I have to to find a way to get that captured on film!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gilbert and Dada Have Breakfast

The benevolent husband that I am, I let Kristen sleep in this morning and I took on Gilbert duties (then again, she let me have a two hour nap on Saturday!). Of course Little Man did not get the memo about sleeping in and instead woke up early.

We did the usual, dump every toy from his bins, chug his morning milk, star out the window and survey the back forty and partook in the pinnacle of his morning...breakfast.

With time to spend on it, I whipped up some wicked scrambled eggs mixed with cheese, tomatoes, and yellow peppers. Accompanying the eggs was Gilbert's favorite staple - a piece of whole grain toast, along with bananas and some yogurt. As you can see he was not happy with me as I wouldn't let him dig in until I took a photo of the morning's breakfast.

I thoroughly enjoy having breakfast with Little Man. Perhaps because he'll eat my eggs (Kristen likes it without all the fixin's) or maybe because he will it all (lunch and dinner he does have his limits!).

Those of you with kids, let me ask you this. Do you find yourself eating the same food as your kids either because it is convenient or they don't eat it all and you, like the turkey vulture that you are, finish off what remains?

I have. In fact I usually just put my food on his plate. Easier cleanup. For the eggs, I always just make more and pile it on Gilbert's plate! This morning, though, I cut up some blood oranges (a tasty discovery when Kristen and I went to Italy a few years ago) for myself figuring Gilbert would not want them considering the pulp, etc.

Oh contrare. Not only did he scarf his food, but he loved the oranges!

Gilbert's Sweet Ride

Gilbert got this as a gift from his Gram, Kristen's mom Taya, for his birthday. He is finally tall enough to ride it with feet touching the ground.

He has still not learned how to propel himself with his feet, but he's an expert at activating every button and noisemaker on it! And nobody can load the cargo section better than him. I've lifted up the seat to see objects in there that I can't imagine how he was able to fit it all in!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wheels Up

Team Johnson is back! Sitting in our garage spot is a new(er) Santa Fe. Yep, we bought another one! Hey, the first car was good to us so why not get another one? Friday night was spent at McGrath Hyundai negotiating for a 2008. In the end it worked out well and after a few hours I drove off with a silver Santa Fe. The car has been upgraded from the model we had originally and for the buck is a great car. I recommend it!

Knowing the process would take time, I went out alone but wasn't sure if I'd need Kristen. That problem was solved when I learned my credit score was over 800! I thought the salesman was gonna give me a hug when I saw the tears of joy pool in his eyes! Just kidding, but it did guarantee one kick-ass interest rate!

So, 2009 brings us a new car. I wonder what other surprises await?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The car is. Got word that between the extent of the damage, mileage, year of make, and current condition the cost to repair the car is greater than the blue book. Say goodbye to the Santa Fe.

Until yesterday I had yet to see the car. Towed to a lot at an auto body shop, we had to get our stuff out before it is to be donated to charity. Yes, somebody actually wants the car and we get a tax deduction for it!

For those that live in Chicago, you know how bad the weather was Wednesday morning. So picture me decked out in snow gear with an empty duffel bag slung over my shoulder as I walked a mile and a half to the auto lot (no buses or cabs to be found!) in order to clear out our possessions from the car.

When I finally reached the car it was covered in at least a foot of snow. It felt illegal what i was doing. I removed all personal possessions, the licenses plates and city sticker (destroyed it in the process so now I need to buy another!). Remove the VIN and the car would have been officially stripped!

Ever smell a car after the airbags deploy? When I opened the door a wall of burnt air smacked me in the face. As if a fire had taken place in the car. Puddles of coffee were on the floor and had stained the seats. Loose change was everywhere.

As for the exterior, the impact point was the front quarter panel on the passenger side. It was gone. All that remained were dangling wires that were once attached to fog lights, turn signals and such. Fluid was dripping on the snow in colors of blue, green and yellow. The hood was popped up as well. But the car started the first time and the tires were still shiny (had those replaced in December. Grrr!).

It was a bit sad to see the car in its current shape. Some great memories and good times were spent in that car. It was our first co-purchase as a couple. Drove it on our honeymoon as we sequested ourselves in a lake house in MI. Took a road trip from Chicago to Hattiesburg to visit my alma mater and then down to the Gulf Coast (pre-Katrina) with a stop in Memphis along the way. And then there are the little memories such as going to drive-in movies, countless trips to see family and friends. We loved the car so much it was where Gilbert was conceived. Just kidding!

All packed up I trekked it to the closest bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited. I did make it home eventually and now in our spare bathroom shower are the remains of our years spent in the Santa Fe. A moment of silence please.

Next step? Car shopping!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Accident Prone

Scary moment happened yesterday. Kristen was driving to work on I55 and hit a patch of black ice and after some fishtailing, and perhaps a 360, collided with the guardrail.

Thankfully, she is fine. A bit sore from the seatbelt doing its job and the airbags deploying, but otherwise all is good.

Apparently where she hit the ice is a common occurrence. And Monday morning was particularly bad. Multiple cars had hit the ice in the same spot and pinballed around the highway.

Kudos to IDOT. A IDOT truck was on the road and immediately pulled over to help Kristen and then towed her for free off the highway and waited until another tow truck arrived so Kristen could stay warm.

The last nine months have been rough on Team Johnson. I received a flying lesson when a car unseated me from my bike, Kristen got hit by a cab driver, and now this. I'm starting to think we all need to go back to horse drawn buggies!

Finger Painting

With the weather absolutely shitty recently, poor Kristen the Nanny has been housebound with Gilbert. For fun, Kristen the Wife bought some finger paint. Add Gilbert and you have a fun afternoon activity. Not sure who the fun was for, but Little Man seemed to enjoy himself!

I came home from work to see green handprints all over the place on white index cards. It looked like a mini-Hulk had been in the house!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Gilbert was slap happy on Saturday and we were winding down in our bedroom. For a fun game, I hid in our bathroom and then run at him while he's on the bed. Guaranteed laughter!

Kristen was obviously doing the filming and I was waiting for her cue before I rushed in on Gilbert. I was a little slow as you will see.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gilbert Loves Disco

Well, maybe strongly likes. Then again, he wasn't really sure what was going on. Today was Baby Loves Disco as I posted earlier this week.

What better way than to spend your Sunday afternoon than at a concert venue with your son and wife! Hosted at the Metro up in Wrigleyville, we arrived about an hour after everything had started and the place was rocking, er, grooving to disco tunes.
The main dance floor was crowded with parents and kids dancing. Pretty cool. There was plenty for the kiddies to do. Those that weren't dancing, or could walk for that matter had a lot of options as stations were set up for kids to crawl (scoot!) or just chill.

Upstairs food and beverage was provided for the kids. And for the adults? Alcohol! Yep, a full bar was available. We didn't partake, but many parents did. At the top of each hour there was a new year's countdown followed by a big bubble machine. The kids flocked to it like bugs to one of those glowing zappers, without the zap of course!

At first, Gilbert wasn't sure what to do. He just stared wide-eyed at all that was going on. We met up with some new friends we met at the gala back in December so it was great to have people to talk with. They have a precious girl (about 8 months) with the best cheeks! She was all smiles!

Both missed their naps so as the party was winding down, so were the kids. In summary, if you have a Baby Loves Disco in your area, it is worth going to. Especially if your kids are older and enjoy dancing

Friday, January 9, 2009

Camera Challenged...Again!

This time the culprit isn't Gilbert, it is Kristen! She dropped the brand new camera. The one we just bought when the other broke. Unbelievable.

The original was repaired and works perfectly, but it feels like driving a Yugo compared to the sleek features of our new camera. Smartly, Kristen purchased the white glove, black tie, bend-you-over plan that basically insures the camera against any catastrophy short of an Iranian invasion. No questions asked. It is the camera version of the rental car Collison Damage Waiver. On a side note whoever created that snappy policy was a genius. Otherwise I'd still be paying off the damage I did to my rental while in driving on the other side of the road in Scotland. I mean really, who in their right mind has raised curbs that are literally up against the white line!

She dropped the camera off with the Dork Squad at Best Buy and in four months time we'll get it back duct taped up and ready to go!

Just in time to break the other camera, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lock The Cabinets!

I walked into the master bath and discovered this! Gilbert knows his bath stuff is under the sink and he apparently likes to play with it sooo much, the need for water is optional.

I think it is time to finally latch some of the cabinets. A task I was hoping to avoid!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby Loves Disco

Ever heard of this? Someone mentioned it to me last year, but I forgot. It is taking place this weekend in Chicago so we bought tickets. Promises to be interesting. Especially to see how Gilbert reacts to all the activity. If nothing else, we can dance like fools to the music!

If you live in Chicago and have kids, consider going. A unique way to have fun as a family! Check it out...Baby Loves Disco.

New Bath Time Towel

When it comes to drying Gilbert after his bath we have been using beach towels or oversized towels I have acquired over the years from my stays in hotels.

Those days are over! For Christmas Gilbert received a quite snuggly frog towel that is the perfect size! Thanks Jo and Randy!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Look, Same Model

Thought it was time to trade in the original blog template for a new model! The templates are limiting, unfortunately, but I'm not ready to spend hours designing my own!

Breakfast Out

Kristen loves breakfast, especially eating out. I'm more of a make it yourself and stay-in guy, but every so often we do go out so Kristen can get her fix. To start the new year off right, we went out for Flat Top Grill.

Flat Top, you ask? Yes! The restaurant chain started breakfast in a few of its locations. And it is awesome! Much like its dinner model, breakfast is done the same way. Pile on the ingredients, select your style (omelet, egg bake, pancakes, etc.) and it is all combined on the mongolian-style grill and dropped off at the table. With it comes a fruit and pastry bar.

The best part? KIDS EAT FOR FREE! Well, up to age 4. Perfect for us. Between my bottomless pit stomach and Gilbert's growing appetite, we definitely got our money's worth. If you have kids check out the location to find the one closest to you!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Guitar Heroes?

On New Year's Day we headed out to spend the afternoon with some friends. They are recent purchasers of the Wii so I brought along the Wii Fit so they could try it out. Instead we ended up dueling on Guitar Hero! Tim claims not to be into video games, but based on this picture he likes to rock out. For the record, his wife kicked his butt even though he racked up the 'star power'!

They also have Little People and it was fun to watch them play and interact. Here Gilbert demonstrates the proper headbutt on their littlest little people.

Quickly followed by the pupil showing the teacher!

We were there well into the evening so for the car ride home we switched Gilbert into his pj's. It was like a second wind and we caught some photos with their daughter.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Daddy's Helper

For Christmas, my sister gave Little Man some wood block alphabet magnets. I mentioned that on New Year's Eve I cut my day at work short. One of my goals was to attach a metal magnet board to the side of Gilbert's dresser so he could play with the magnets in his room as opposed to covering the fridge.

Gilbert was fascinated with the measuring tape, but as you can tell showed little patience in using it! I have watched this too many times to count, but I love his face after failing to open it and then his boredom as he moves on.

Not deterred he made one more attempt...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Whether a quiet evening at home with the spouse, at a friend's party or out on the town, I trust everyone enjoyed their New Year's Eve! For us, it was just the three of us. I cut my day short at the office to spend the remaining hours of the year with Kristen and Gilbert.

Gilbert particularly enjoys looking out the window. Unfortunately, the bottom of the window sil is high and Little Man can only see eye level and higher. So, for fun we often stand him on the sil so he can look down and out at the world. This particular day his reflection was visible in the window and I captured this picture.