Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Sanctuary

I came home yesterday to learn Gilbert knows no boundaries. He had been resisting his nap and after Kristen closed his door he was right behind her having opened it!

Yes, Gilbert can now open doors. Great. We have the lever door handles not the round knobs. As a result, he can reach the handle and using his super-toddler strength get the door to 'click' signaling him to pull or push. What a smart little guy!

Yet to realize all doors can be opened, he is still opening just the door to his room. Surprisingly there are so many other doors closer to his level that Little Man has shown no interest. For example, the kitchen. Gilbert doesn't open the kitchen cabinets. Not once has he attempted to get under the sink. He'd rather struggle (and fail) to open the fridge.

We have yet to "proof" any of the doors or cabinets, but might need to now if Little Man decides to wander in the dark while we are sleeping. Oh boy!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Go Spartans!

Gilbert was decked out in his Spartan gear to cheer for his mommy's alma mater as Michigan State won their regional final and is now headed to the Final Four!


Gilbert has been sick for the past week. He's had a lingering cough that as it seemed to subside, a fever arrived.
The early signs showed up early in the week. Kristen and Gilbert went to the Lincoln Park zoo on Wednesday for sing-along and you can see he is was starting not to feel good.

In all the times we've checked his temperature, this was the first time he actually registered a fever (100+ degrees). That told us Gilbert really wasn't feeling good. Then a rash broke out over his chest and back. Add in teething for the last two teeth in his mouth and we had the recipe for a very unhappy Little Man.

On Saturday we just relaxed and watched March Madness. Gilbert settled in next to Kristen with hands behind his head and having his belly rubbed. Talk about being comforted!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Gilbert loves BBQ sauce. We give it to him as a side condiment and with no prompting began to 'dip' his food into the sauce. Oh yeah, he likes to share too!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ball Play

In Gilbert's room I keep a medicine ball and some physical therapy balls that are holdovers from my bike accident. Little Man has begun to play with the smallest (1.1 lbs), but it is all the world to him.

He likes to pick up and carry the ball around and now is exploring how to throw it. The challenge is getting him to release it. You can see it in his face. He wants to throw it, but doesn't know how to throw it. When he finally lets go, it is a mad scramble to pick it back up immediately.

Funny note about this video. Now that Gilbert can walk, his scooting days are over, but for some reason he was scooting everywhere chasing the ball!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Yep, we got official word late last week. Gilbert has been accepted for enrollment to the Montessori Academy of Chicago!

I was excited when I read the letter, but was a bit deflated when I read his acceptance was to start with the Fall 2009 class. But I realize my expectations were wrong. I had envisioned this to being like in AAA baseball. You are waiting for your call up to the big league and when that happens you are immediately on the team.

Misperception on my part. This is more like the NFL draft. He's been selected by the team and will join them when the new season starts.

When Kristen came home from work and I shared the good news, she was elated! And, of course, I am as well. We shared the news with Gilbert. Unfazed. I think he was more interested in watching the new construction crane he can view from his window.

Montessori look out. Here comes Little Man!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Day At The Zoo

Team Johnson took advantage of the pseudo-warm weather and visited the Lincoln Park Zoo. I write pseudo, as the sun was out and when we looked out our windows we witnessed people not bundled up. Fools! When we got out of our car at the zoo, the wind was kickin' and the temp not so warm - especially in the shade!
The zoo was packed with families! And for once all the animals were out and about. Too often when I go, the animals are off exhibit or sleeping. Not this time! The lions were sun bathing and Gilbert just stared in amazement. His eyes were so big with wonderment. Ask him where the lion is, he would immediately thrust his hand out in the direction of the beasts.
From there, we went in to the cat house where a beautiful jaguar was resting and a leopard paced its space. Outside, Gilbert was in a trance as a puma was playing right in front of him (through the fence of course). It was clear from his face that he was in awe of seeing these beautiful animals up close.
After the zoo, we walked across the street to a nearby park, and he was off and playing. Climbing, scaling, you name it! And then he discovered mulch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cashing In

Gilbert's piggy bank was getting full, so we decided a trip to a Coinmaster was needed. Little Man has an awesome piggy bank courtesy of our friends The Hoffmann's. Piggy banks are great ideas and putting money in is easy, not so getting it out!
Kristen and I spent ten minutes shaking out the coins and a few more delicately pulling out the dead presidents; Lincoln, Washington, Jackson, and even a Grant!
At the grocery store, we started feeding the machine the coins and quickly the tally rose. I guessed $75, but that number was quickly passed. Kristen guessed $100, but the final count of coins was north of that too! When it was all said and done, Kristen had about $170 in his banking account. As I told him on the way out of the grocery store, the money in his piggy bank was worth more than my 401(k)!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gilbert's New Toy

We bought a training potty last weekend. Neither of us are prepared for training, but we are introducing it to Gilbert. It is currently sitting in the guest bathroom.
Little Man has shown no interest in it. He is making deposits in the potty, though. We often find his door magnets where his disposable nuggets should be instead!

March Madness

I have a March Madness tradition. I take off the Thursday and Friday the first week of the tournament and watch baseketball, a lot of basketball. For the past ten years, this tradition has been in place. Some things have changed though. I do Thursday by myself as the crew is unable to do both days anymore (and as a result, I go to a bar with wireless so I can work while watching games). Also, I watch very few games during the regular season, so the tournament is that much more special to me. And keeping the tradition going somehow still connects me to those younger days!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In The Spirit Of The Holiday

If you have parents you know that with any clothing that is thematic, you better wear it more than once because same time next year the clothes will Gilbert is still wearing some 'Santa's Little Helper' pjs to get our worth from them!

In the spirit of St. Patty's Day, we clothed Little Man in his only shirt for the holiday on Sunday when we attended the birthday party of Kristen's godson, Tag.

The party was quite bustling, but we actually were able to get both in a single frame! Kids were running everywhere! Imagine flashing a spotlight in a dark corner and seeing cockroaches scurry about. There you go. Now, I'm not saying kids are cockroaches, but you get my drift!
Tag's parents have great birthday parties. Held at locations where kids can be kids, this year it was at an indoor soccer center an in an enclosed field, the kids can run around without the parent's having to turn on the GPS locator!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

To celebrate, Kristen prepared us Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast. Yummy? Well, yes!

Gilbert saw the book on the table and immediately requested he be seated so he could read it! This bought us, er, Kristen time to finish breakfast. Little Man has become quite impatient in the mornings when it comes to his feeding. Just because he is sleeping in doesn't mean we still get the same amount of time in between as we did prior. He still expects to be eating at the same time. Demanding little s***!

Then after all his posturing he has the gall to flash that grin!

Monday, March 16, 2009

For The Record

The mess you see in these pictures was not created by Gilbert. Nope. I'm the messy one!

Gilbert has gone a food strike in relation to green veggies. He use to eat peas and broccoli (never green beans), but now adamantly refuses to eat it. Trick him into putting either in his mouth and he quickly realizes the dupe and will just open his mouth, stick out his tongue and push the food out. I find this to be quite irritating!

So, I'm back to pureeing the greens. Last night I did peas. They were cooling on the counter in a container (lid just sitting on the top for venting) and in preparation for bed, went into the kitchen to put the peas on the fridge. My superior dexterity failed me as I attempted in one smooth motion to pick up the container and press the lid down with the same hand. Instead I lost my grip and the peas fell to the floor. The result? A CSI-like blood splatter!
Kristen was kind enough to help clean up as she chided me throughout!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Afternoon Out For Gilbert and Kristen

These pics are from last week when Gilbert and Kristen spent an afternoon out at the park. Great photos! I've mentioned before the part buttresses up against a new high-rise development. Gilbert loves to watch!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Delicious Is Dead and Gone!

Yep, Delicious no longer exists in my fridge. Some of the new readers are probably wondering what craziness I speak? Well, here you go...

Delicious is the name we (the meat eaters cartel) assigned to our grassfed cow we purchased last summer. Answer to the often asked question...no we did not meet our cow. Felt since we didn't buy the whole cow meeting it was not appropriate. If I ever get to the level where a whole cow is purchased a visit and naming ceremony will definitely be called for. C'mon! That is not weird. Our knuckledragging forebearers caught their food with hand and stick. The least we 'civilized folk' can do is pay homage to the food that keeps us plump!

Last week Kristen prepared a tasty beef roast that required removing the last frozen butcher paper meat product in the fridge (I'm not counting the soup bones that will be in the freezer for some time as they are devoid of meat!). So sad, Delicious is gone!

The real question is will there be (in the tradition of many college mascots)a Delicious II? Yet to be determined. I would like to purchase more of a cow so I'm looking for anyone in the Chicagoland area interested in getting more connected with your food source. Not to mention the bennies of grassfed beef!

Sleeping Setback

The last two nights have been rough. Gilbert just isn't sleeping. We think it has something to do with a lingering cough that two weeks into it is now going to take us to the doctor.

I think he just has trouble breathing because he is so stuffy and the has a coughing fit he can't get comfortable. Last night we were up at separate times with Little Man and it probably cost him two hours not to mention breaking up his good REM sleep!

We'd hear him up and talking, look in the monitor and find him just sitting up, holding his blanket. Sometimes on the bed. Other times on the floor. You could tell he was just in a daze and wanted to sleep, but just could not get settled! Poor guy!

Still his fun self, he had tremendous tired eyes this morning. My money is he'll crash today for a long nap. Fingers are crossed!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Walk of the Zombie

In one week Gilbert went from Frankenstein to a zombie. His arms are now down at his side like withering limbs. We've now seen both sides of the pendulum. Now that the arms have lowered his balanced has improved dramatically. He will stand in place for what seems a long time (but is probably only a few seconds).

The funny part is his zombie walk.

The Sleeping Experiement - Day 3

Victory! Or is it Success!

Looks like the studies that kids can pick up habits in three days is true.

Last night Gilbert slept on the bed the whole night! Only one shout out at 10pm from what appears to have been a bad dream. Otherwise all good. He also slept for a two hour nap - again on the bed!

Not once has he awoke during a nap or at night to play with toys, read books, turn on his stereo (yes, he has discovered how to hit PLAY) or simply to mess around.

This morning I got up for my shower and check the monitor. Still in bed. Got out of the shower (usually he is up by now) and noticed he was off bed, but snuggled in amongst the big pillows that still protect him from rolling off in his sleep. I didn't bother him, but an hour later when he was still asleep, I was a bit worried so I checked in on him.

He was so snuggled in, no wonder he was still asleep. Little Man had wedged himself between the pillows and the bed while hugging his blanket and the pillow. Talk about being all cozy and warm. Only problem occurred when he did wake up. His body had rolled under the bed and he was stuck!

Thinning The Herd

Something else we took away from the seminar was focusing a child's attention during times of play by reducing the number of stimuli (in the form of toys). When you walk through the classrooms of the Montessori Academy of Chicago you notice all the shelves are open and on each are only a handful of toys.

For the home, they recommend no more than 1-2 toys per shelf. Crazy? Maybe, at first. But it is hard to argue with the results when you see the kids as well as the philosophy. Because our space is tight we naturally do not have room for a lot of bulky toys, but we do have bins loaded with small stuff. Gilbert is notorious for dumping the baskets and wildly playing with everything. That is not to say he will, at times, spend long periods of time playing with a single toy or reading his books.

Testing another concept, we have thinned out his shelves. The idea is only a few toys are available and the child will be more focused. Rotating the toys and books every few weeks keeps the inventory fresh when the child's interest wanes. We shall see!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Sleeping Experiement - Day 2

Yesterday and night were a challenge. Gilbert did not want to nap. I'm not sure it was because the bed was now open. The hour shift in daylight savings time and the fact he was just wired only compounded the situation.

He wanted to fall asleep, but just couldn't settle. He would crawl down try to sleep on the floor, but then would be up and about. Finally, he had had enough and it was on with our day.

As for the night, he did sleep, but we found him often on the floor snuggled up in the big pillows or on Porter - his oversized stuff animal. We'd put him on the bed and he would stay asleep. So, the question of the day is..."Is he rolling off and then just staying on the floor or is he climbing down?"

His room is extremely dark and Kristen thinks he's disoriented because he can not locate the bed or his blanket in some instances. Perhaps a night light will help solve that challenge.

Conventional thinking says kids can pick up new habits in three days. We'll see!

Momentus Week

This past week we were witness to an explosion in what is Gilbert's development.

In the mobility section, Little Man's arms have dropped when he walks so say goodbye to Franken-Gilbert and say hello to his impression of a walking zombie. His balance and coordination have improved dramatically and he now stand up and be still without h having to be in motion. He's getting better and bending over, squatting, picking up an object and standing back up.

For eating, he's realizing he can now bite his food. That doesn't mean he still doesn't stuff it all in his mouth, just now it is done in two steps! And we've removed his tray and slid the high chair up to the table so his plate is now on the table with ours.

Kristen introduced Gilbert to washing his hands on his own and now he can deftly ascend, and more importantly, descend the step stairs to the sink. The walls and mirror are covered with water marks, but it so fun to watch a pair of little hands squish the sesame street foam soap between his digits.

In the auditory category, the kid can't stop talking. His chatter is incessant! Some of his pseudo-words we understand, some we don't. You've been witness to "blackberry" video. There are plenty more of those! We've been writing down the words we think he's saying. The list seems get longer each day!

And there are the challenges. Not happy with what is going on. Look out, he'll flop on his back and kick the air and ground wildly for a few seconds. He also has a tendency to slap or hit when he's being playful. And why the face? So, we need to work on that.

In the kitchen he screams and yells at us when he comes in and we do not immediate acquiesce to his needs or pick him up. At first, we just thought he was hungry and ready to eat or just wanted to be held because he'd quiet down when he was picked up. We have since realized he just wants to be at our level. And with good reason. When we are in the kitchen our backs will be to him and he is unable to see the counter. So, we brought out the step stool and up he went and immediately quieted down. Now we just have to address him grabbing at everything! Sunday morning was fun though. Kristen got a few extra minutes of sleep while we made breakfast. I held his hands in mind and we chopped a banana and buttered toast together. I did catch him sneaking in a few bites of the banana.

I can only imagine what will take place this week. Phew!

Family Weekend

Not this weekend, but last weekend, we took a day trip to MI for some family time between Gilbert, his cousins and the great grandparents. It was a blast!

Little Man and Jasper got some good face time and the great grandparents got to enjoy them as well as talking with their grand kids!

For Gilbert, he loved the attention and the space! He was walking all over the house doing circles through the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallways and back around. By the time we left he was tuckered out and slept the entire 3 hour ride home! One of Kristen's cousins recently had a baby so the visit allowed them to see each other for the first time. Lilly is her name and she's a cutie (Kristen's words of course!).

With a family visit comes family photos and the herding of cats to capture at least one good still. Lilly is sleeping, Gilbert is attempting a prison break while Jasper is looking at Little Man with a, "Dude, can't you just sit still for one second!"

Kristen's aunt, Barb, was kind enough to bring Gilbert a gift and as you can see had fun opening it together. It was a John Deere tractor with hitched cart. It now sits on the shelf along with his growing race car collection!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Funny Story

I have a sense of humor, my wife would call it sarcasm. Anyway...She and Gilbert headed out for a few hours to do some errands and allow me quiet to do some job work.

She was sitting waiting for me to put on Gilbert's shoes when she asked me what the size of the shoes are. I started to look for the size (check the bottom, inside, then tongue) and her ever, always helping way was directing me how to do it as I was in the process.

Here was how the conversation played out.

"What is the size?"

"5 and a half." I said.

"In US?"

"No. Somalia." I quipped.

Gilbert laughed.

She asked if that was the size in US (you know because we often buy shoes in the UK). C'mon! The question required a sarcastic response. And Gilbert laughed.

He knows humor.

Gilbert's Sleeping Experiement Day 1 - The Day After

last night was the first night Gilbert slept in his 'big boy' bed. Overall the experience went well. As a precaution, we laid pillows on the floor next to the bed in case he tumbled out. Gilbert likes to "top rope" it his crib. He'll stand in a corner with arms spread holding on to the sides of a crib - much like a boxer or wrestler waiting to pounce - and then without notice spring into his blanket wherever it may be in the crib. Our concern was (and still is) he'd pull this maneuver and just bounce right off the bed and onto the floor! He also likes to snuggle up in a corner or against the side rails.

So, we're watching him on the video monitor settle in to bed and sure enough he moves close to the edge of the bed and in his usual manner looks to nestle up to the side rail when, oops!, he tumbled feet over head out of the bed and onto the pillows! Instead of jumping up to go help, we restrained ourselves. Gilbert ended up sitting upright on the floor - dazed I'm sure being half asleep - surveyed his current situation and climbed back into bed! Hooray, Little Man!

He quickly settled in and went to sleep. He did seem to shift a lot so perhaps he was a bit unsettled with the new openness. He slept throughout the night without any 'shout outs'. Kristen didn't sleep well, perhaps worried for her little baby that to her dismay is growing up so fast! She did wake after midnight, turned on the video to find Gilbert sleeping on the floor amongst the pillows. She deposited him back and bed without incident.

The real test came in the morning. He woke around his usual time (6 - 6:30). Typically he'll roll around to wake up and chatter. Once done, he moves to the door side of the crib and begins to let us know he's ready.

Not this morning! With the sides down, he reached over to the night stand and began to read books that were left there for him in the morning. He did this for at least fifteen minutes. After exhausting his reading, he climbed down from the bed and quietly went over to play with his toys! No shouting for mama or dada. I was ready to get up and quietly walked into the room. He had just turned on his stereo (a new discovery this week) and was holding the side of the bookshelf while he danced.

Day 1 = Success!

UPDATE: Gilbert is a little grumpy today. Perhaps he didn't sleep as soundly as he is used to due to the new bed. That or he's grumpy because the weather BLOWS!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gilbert's Sleeping Experiment

This morning we attended a seminar at the Montessori Academy of Chicago. The program covered how parents could bring aspects of the school into the home. It was thought provoking. We we pleased that many of the elements used at the school are done to various extents already.
One of the overriding themes was independence for the child. A good example the school employs is the belief in not using cribs, but rather low beds or even just a mattress on the floor! The belief is often kids are ready to get up, but because they are confined to the crib they call out, cry, yell, whatever to get your attention. Whereas if they are free to climb in and out they will entertain themselves. Often playing for a bit and then returning back to bed!

Now, Gilbert sleeps like a champ. We don't have the issues of him waking up at night, but in the morning when we wish he would sleep an extra 1/2 hour he's at the corner of the crib by the door yelling for us. If the crib was converted into the low bed that it can be, we wonder would if he would quietly play giving us some extra sleep time?

Well, we are going to find out! Upon returning from the seminar, I took down the outer wall of the crib. Little Man decided the three walls were perfect for jumping!

By the end of the day all four sides were down. Gilbert immediately climbed into the bed with a book! Right now Little Man is sleeping so the first test of the experiment will come once he begins to stir from his slumber. Stay tuned!

Non Stop

Now that Gilbert is walking, he is non stop! I get tired just watching him go back and forth. I feel sad at times as if he's a big polar bear stuck in a small zoo exhibit. There is so much room to roam in the wild and here I am stuck in this box that is my home!

To air Gilbert out, we venture into the hallway and he loves it! We are completely screwed when he masters how to open the doors (and he's getting close, just not quite tall enough!).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Word Play

Gilbert likes my Blackberry. That has been well documented. Apparently, he's getting tired of pointing and grunting in an attempt to procure it and wants to actually request the device by name!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Just some nice, recent pics of Gilbert.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Crony Cup

I just received my invitation to play in the 10th annual Crony Cup! Oh yeah!

The Crony was started by two buddies that played golf together at Purdue. It is a Ryder Cup style golf tournament that takes place every summer in Indianapolis area. One of the founder's wife is a childhood friend of Kristen's over time I became good friends with them and the lot of guys that play in the Crony. In fact, a core group all played golf at Purdue so you get a sense of the caliber of golf so when I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Crony I jumped on it!

It is probably obvious, but I love golf. Played it as a kid, through high school and in college. Now a citizen of the real world, I play less than ever. The Crony gives me focus and is the pinnacle of my summer in terms of golf.

This is our tenth year and it promises to be memorable (like the others aren't!). No, it is not a guys golf and drink fest. The ladies drink too!

Now that the venue is set, it is time to think about golf. If only the damn weather would warm up!

Cow Bell

I am really, seriously considering putting some kind of sound device on Gilbert. He's become quite the ninja. Both of us have had instances where we turn around and surprise! it is Gilbert. Unfortunately, he is the one who suffers as he gets accidentally stepped on or tripped.

Just last night I was running the water in the bathtub, turned around and found him walking silently behind me to the tub. The result? I swept (or he tripped, depending on your vantage) his feet and down he went colliding into the side of the tub. Talk about an unhappy camper! Little Man can produce some crocodile tears, and fast!

Back In The Kitchen

Kristen was making bran muffin mix yesterday while Gilbert was playing nearby. In the bottom drawer under the stove we keep some items for Gilbert to play with - spatulas, measuring cups, etc. - as a distraction while real work is done in the kitchen.

Well, Kristen looked down and witnessed this for the first time.
Gilbert has never actually crawled into the drawer.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The World Needs Dishwashers Too, Danny

Actually, the proper occupation is ditchdiggers, but I couldn't resist. Anybody know the movie reference?

I was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Kristen prepared Gilbert for bed. I turned around and this is what I found in the dishwasher.

Now that Gilbert is walking he's a little too stealth for my liking. I'll turn around and he's disappeared only to find him in another room in the process of doing something mischievous! I'm considering putting a cow bell on his neck. Good idea?