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February 13, 2011

Facebook killed the radio star

If video killed the radio star, then Facebook killed this pathetic little blog o' mine. Crap. 8 months since last post. Oh well.

Since I have a longer form thing to relate, to the blog it is.

So, Meredith is looking for a V-day card for Josie while we're at the grocery store. Most of the 'for Mom' ones are picked over, just scraps of envelopes left over. So we move over to the just for fun ones. I know to watch out for the obviously grown up ones, but M proceeds to pick up a card with a cartoon squirrel on the front. She then reads it in her out loud, first grade voice and it's about a squirrel inviting his lady squirrel friend to play with his nuts. Did I mention she's reading it out loud? Did I mention how %$&#-ing crowded the card section is late on the day before Valentine's?

The lovely thing is that she really wants the card, since she thinks it's hilarious in a single entendre way, completely oblivious to the extra entendre they packed in there for free. So she's begging to get it. Did I mention the fellow shoppers?

Before we're done, she also finds one with a donkey on the front with googly eyes, and the punch line is something about 'getting your silly ass into my heart' or something. Also read out loud in a first graders voice.

Who knew V-day card shopping was such a minefield? I talked her into some plain vanilla card and won't be doing that again with her for 6 or 7 years.

June 12, 2010


Last week of school coming up, hard to believe that Meredith is finishing up her Kindergarten year already. She's made huge strides all year with reading and writing especially. Most afternoons lately she's been coming home to write a 'book', usually a 5 or 6 pager complete with pictures and binding (OK, it's folded and stapled, but still...). Love to see that her school is fostering that writing mentality. She also took off on her bike without training wheels for the first time a few nights ago. Talk about anti-climactic. She had jumped on a friend's two-wheeler last weekend and managed to get going pretty good, so we took off her wheels on Wednesday and she just took off. No crashes (yet), just smooth sailing. Still not a fluid turner yet, but she's getting there.

Andrew has a balance bike (which has no pedals) but still prefers his trike. He also prefers to find and examine bugs, and by examine I usually mean maiming or killing while trying to pick them up. He's gotten better on that front, though, and we've had full insect occupancy in various jars around the house for the last month or so. Meredith has developed a squeamish I-don't-touch-bugs attitude of late, but she has taken nicely to a more managerial role, directing a very willing Andrew to pick up whatever bugs she deems worthy. It's teamwork at its finest.

No huge summer plans. M has a half-day camp through the park district. Nothing structured for Andrew planned, but there's nothing wrong with that.

In happy news, I ended a full year (actually 54 weeks -- yikes) of unemployment earlier this week. It's a contract job, so that's not ideal from a benefits point of view, but a paycheck is a paycheck. I'm working as a consultant, providing guidance to a company to steer their reporting/BI/data warehouse towards a more efficient and rational process. It's a definite challenge, which is good. I certainly need the income again and have missed the intellectual challenges of this kind of job, but the actual not working/hanging with family/getting stuff done around the house aspect wasn't so bad. Need to figure out a way to get a regular sabbatical like that on a regular basis going forward, but without the pall of impending financial doom hanging overhead. Send any and all suggestions and/or large sums of money my way at your convenience.

February 23, 2010

end of an era

Today *sniff* we got rid of Andrew's crib and moved in his fancy twin bed. We're officially toddler free, I guess. We also have no idea what we've gotten ourselves into. Ever since he was two, we had a crib tent on his tent, which is like a jail cell cute little net that sits on top of his crib. Don't judge. He wasn't staying in the crib and apparently 40 lb leg weights are considered cruel and unusual (I checked). Plus, as an added benefit, he's been malaria free for the last year. So, I like to think of it as a malaria net more than a toddler jail. That's my story.

Anyway, he's damn excited about having a big bed to sleep in. And we're wondering if he'll ever stay in it. God, I hope he stops waking up before 6am.

February 4, 2010

Happy 3rd birthday, Andrew...

...is what I would be saying now if I went back in time two days to Feb 2 which was Andrew's actual big day. But you know how it is, what with the hoopla of the Groundhog Day festivities and the excitement of Illinois primary voting that day, things got out of hand.

Yes, he's three, meaning unless we have any surprise kids on the way, we're officially done with the terrible twos in this household. Truth be told, though, based on the last two days I don't think Andrew read that memo.

We had a low-key pizza-and-cake party here at the house on Tue night with a few friends from the neighborhood. Andrew is in to Super Why, a PBS word maven/superhero. So the official Super Why cape, mask and WhyWriter that he got were big hits. Before he got those official duds, he had settled on wearing one of M's old fairy costumes as his cape, so this was a step up.

His early present to us, more impressively, is that he seems to have finally clicked on the whole potty training thing. He actually is moving on to his third or fourth week now of diaper free days.

Lest you think it's all sunshine and birthday cake here at the Phelps manse, we had yet another major appliance go boots up today. Technically, our washing machine is still working, but according to the guy who came out today to look at it, it's terminal and has about 6-8 weeks to go. So we're in the market for a washing machine. Anyone buy one recently and have a favorite?

And returning to the Illinois voting, how the hell did this guy get elected to anything, much less win the Dem nomination for Lt. Gov. I'm usually wary of stereotyping your typical steroid-taking, massage parlor patronizing, abusive pawnbrokers, but even in Illinois, that's not your usual stepping stone to the Lt. Governorship.

January 27, 2010

the iPad cometh

My thoughts on the iPad that Apple announced today:

  • Surprise -- it was over hyped. I listened to a lot of the event and was mostly underwhelmed. Product looks really cool and I can't wait to test drive one. Hell, I'll probably want one. But literally the only 'WOW' moment I had was the announcement of the price. That price range, for what you're getting, was attractive.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that 3G service was relatively cheap and contract-free.
  • What was up with all of the iWork focus? Nothing killed the buzz faster than talking about how fun it is...to process words. And create *yawn* spreadshee...zzzzzz. Those apps actually looked OK (and really cheap at $10) but no ones chomping at the bit for an iPad for that reason.
  • Blame the hype, again, but there wasn't a real gee whiz technology introduced. Some of the leaked rumors were proposing new multi-touch input methods or tactile feedback, for instance. I suppose I was hoping for something that 'revolutionary' to come out.
  • Was surprised and a bit put off by how much of the time Jobs and his cohorts kept reminding us of how revolutionary and magical it was. Seemed hyperbolic. I know they want to fire up the masses, but it didn't mesh with the otherwise pedestrian "it's basically a bigger iTouch" message.

Having been in the market for a cheap laptop or netbook recently (and choosing a laptop), I can say that this has infinitely more appeal than a netbook. I've got to think that even at a higher price point than most netbooks, that's the market segment that will get steamrolled. Netbooks already seemed dinky and underpowered to me. They certainly seemed unfun to use, with their cramped screens and keyboards. Compared to this, they're going to suffer even more on that score.

So overall, I actually liked the device and the price and want to try one out, but it didn't really come close to the hype. No one expects the hype and the rumors to be true, of course, but this ended up being far more modest and incremental than I expected/hoped. Oh well, there's always version 2.

November 18, 2009

Sad news

Those of you who know my sister, Jill, may have known that she and her husband James were expecting a baby earlier this month. Sadly, on 10/29, less than a week before her due date and just two days after a successful checkup, she noticed a lack of movement and went in to see her doctor. They couldn't find a heartbeat. It's hard to describe or imagine much worse news; I know our family is still reeling.

I was there outside Dallas along with other close family and friends when little Camden was delivered stillborn on Oct 31st, just after midnight. He was a beautiful, beautiful boy and we all got to spend some time with him that night. I've never personally been a part of anything that was so heartbreaking and senseless and so awfully unfair. I grieve for my little nephew and for my wonderful Jill and her husband.

The cause isn't clear, but the umbilical cord was around his neck several times, which led the doctor to suspect a cord accident as the probable cause. That's not definitive, though, and not knowing the cause is one extra emotional kick in the teeth.

We know that none of us will get over such a loss, but Jill and James have a strong faith and so far seem to be doing very well, all things considered. During my time visiting with them in Dallas, I and other family members remarked often about how strong they were and we meant it. They were thrust into this awful situation that no one wants to be in and were keeping their wits about them better than could be imagined. Keep them in your thoughts.

On a related and personal note, we became acquainted with a organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep during this time and I can't speak highly enough about their services. They are an organization of professional photographers who donate their time and expertise to provide families going through this heartbreaking experience with professional portraits of the child. They do this at no cost to the family and they did so for us in a very caring and discreet manner. They came to the hospital within an hour of the birth in the middle of the night. They have jumped to the tiptop of my list of organizations when it comes to being donation-worthy. In a difficult time, they truly helped us out in a way that will endure.

I confess, it feels a little weird to put this news out on my little blog which, when I bother to update it at all, is usually full of far less serious matter. But, practically, I've heard from a friend or two who knew she had been pregnant and I wanted to get the word out to those who knew. And more personally, I'm still a proud albeit sad uncle and an even more proud brother and brother-in-law. I simply want to share the news of Camden with those I know.

October 12, 2009

King of Kong...whoa

Watched "King of Kong" on NetFlix tonight, documentary about Donkey Kong champions. Fascinating stuff, but holy crap, I have trouble believing the incumbent champ, Billy Mitchell, wasn't a plant. He was right out of central casting for what you'd expect to see in a man who's reaped the "rewards" of being a video game champ for 25 years. Mullet? Check. Never seen without wearing a wacky theme tie? Check. Over inflated sense of greatness while working in parent's restaurant? Check.

I have a feeling that people who get decked out for Star Trek conventions or Lord of the Ring meetups might feel that these guys (and they are nearly without exception guys) are a little off center.

It was attention-grabbing, though, so check it out if you haven't seen it.

September 30, 2009

M learns puppy love lessons

So, Meredith told Josie a secret sometime on Saturday. Then, within a few hours of that, she let on to me that she had told Mommy a secret but that she couldn't tell me. Top secret stuff, apparently. Then within about, oh, 15 seconds of that, she caved and told me the secret too.

She said she was 'in love with' a boy at school. After suppressing initial thoughts of having a word with the young man to lay down the law, I pretty much just smiled and let her bask in her puppy love "secret".

This never happened in preschool, btw. That was just 3 months ago. What the hell happened? What's in the Kindergarten water?

Anyway, after missing school on Monday because of a 200-or-so degree fever, she came home on Tuesday saying she didn't want to go to school any more. Apparently, she told her puppy love secret to a "friend", who promptly let go of the secret like a hot potato, which led to some nice little schoolyard taunting. M was thoroughly embarrassed and has, I think, learned a lesson about being a bit more careful about whom she shares secrets with.

For starters, I can't be trusted since I'm telling the Internets. When she learns to read better, I'm toast.

September 6, 2009

Milestone week for M

Meredith hits two milestones this week, and thus we do to. First, today is birthday #6 for the wee lass and second, she starts kindergarten on Tuesday. Wow. It's cliche to say time flies and they grow up fast and all of that, and it's all pretty true. But I'm just happy/proud to have such a wonderful little girl, no matter how quickly or slowly it all goes down. It's a treat to watch her turn into whatever she wants to turn in to. And for the record, she currently answers the 'what do you want to be when you grow up' question by saying she wants to be an artist during the day, and a ballerina at night. She's figured out she can do both by splitting up her day cleverly like that.

She's had a good day. Her big party with friends is going to be later in the week, so the chaos is looming. It was kind of low-key today. Around lunch, we had a cake and opened some presents. Her friend from next door got her a fish, which was a big hit. His name is Fiona -- yes, his name is Fiona. Not much concern on M's part for gender-specific names.

Andrew is 2 and a half and into just about everything. He's been into trucks/construction equipment for some time now, but he's been in truck nirvana for the last several weeks. There's a sewer replacement project going down a block from us and it involves 5-7 large pieces of equipment: backhoes, excavators, bulldozers, rollers, you name it, it's there. He's in heaven. We make at least 2 pilgrimages a day down the street to check out the action. He's going to be spoiled when the project is done. Not sure if the Tonka toys are going to cut it for him anymore.

August 30, 2009

No real reason

For no real reason at all I've decided to start writing on this here blog again. And for even less reason, I've decided to start it back up with a relatively boring list of MLB baseball stadiums where I've seen games. Why? Pay attention, I said there was no real reason. Just came up when talking to someone the other day and I wanted to get it down.

Still Open
Astros -- Minute Maid Field
Brewers -- Miller Park
Cubs -- Wrigley
Dodgers -- Chavez Ravine
Giants -- Pac Bell or whatever the hell they call it now
Orioles -- Camden Yards
Pirates -- PNC Field
Red Sox -- Fenway
Rockies -- Coors Field
Rangers -- Ballpark at Arlington
White Sox -- US Cellular

Now Defunct
Astros -- Astrodome
Braves -- Fulton County Stadium
Mets -- Shea Stadium
Rangers -- Arlington Stadium
Yankees -- Yankee Stadium

After putting it on paper, I'm a little surprised at how paltry the list is. I would have thought it would have been higher. I've been to 16 stadiums total representing 14 teams (since I've been to both old and new parks for the Astros and Rangers). With 30 teams, that's right around the 50% mark, but I can do better. I think I need to make an effort to get to some more, pronto. I may have to suck it up and go to Detroit. Ooooh, I just threw up a little in my mouth when I said that.

March 30, 2009

Something to do the next time you're in Tunis

My first cousin, Sam, is starting a program in Tunisia and he's blogging about it. Sounds like it should be a great and unique experience.

March 24, 2009

My thoughts on Twitter, in cartoon format

I can understand the appeal of Twitter, I really can. I've got an account and have 'twatted', as Colbert says. But since I haven't bought into it yet, it's still easiest just to poke fun at it. And this sums it up nicely.

March 17, 2009

Name recognition

Want to know what to get me for Christmas Mothers' Day? Look no further than this.

It's better, all in all, to get name recognition from Olympian/lapsed role model Michael Phelps than from off-the-charts crazy pastor Fred Phelps, aka 'you bring the placards, I'll bring the crazy'.

January 14, 2009

Andrew update

IMG_1597.JPGYoung Andrew will be 2 in about 2 weeks and I haven't written of his exploits in a while. Shortly before Xmas, he treated us to our first trip to the emergency room here in Chicago. Here's how it went down.

  • Add one cast iron dutch oven lid, like this one

  • Throw in one toe

  • Add gravity and mix together

He managed to pull this lid out of our cabinet and drop it on his toe one morning shortly after I took off for work. Josie heard the loud crash and subsequent crying. It was only after a few minutes when the blood started seeping through his footed pajamas that it became apparent this wasn't a garden variety problem. She tried to stop the bleeding to no avail. Meredith helped; she's never shy about sharing her innate expertise on every subject matter ever invented ever.

When it was clear the bleeding wasn't going to stop, Josie pulled the kids together for a cold and icy stroller walk to the hospital. (We're only 3 blocks away from Children's Memorial here in Chicago.) For good measure, M slipped on the ice about a block from the hospital, so when Josie entered the doors, she came armed with dual crying kids. She called me in the middle of this and so I turned right around from work and met them there about 30 minutes later.

By the time I arrived Andrew was calmed down. The staff at the ER got the foot bandaged up pretty well and then we all waited together for a doc to take a look. At one point, they gave him some Motrin for the pain and I swear they gave about 5 times the max dose the side of the box tells us mere civilians to give. I'll never again angst over whether I went over the recommended dosage by a milliliter or two. And sure enough, something kicked in because shortly after an X-ray (which Andrew took in stride with curious detachment), he fell asleep at 10 in the morning in Josie's arms for the first time in...ever.

To sum up, the end results were no fracture, a bloody mess of a toe and a missing toenail. They had us keep him in a soft bandage for about a week. After realizing there was no serious damage, I half-hoped it might slow him down a bit for the holidays to give us a fighting chance. No luck. Aside from an occasional limp because of the big soft 'cast', he was at full speed. And the word 'bobo' jumped into the number three slot of most common words behind 'momma' and 'daddy'.

And I know what you're all thinking; yes, we now keep the dutch oven safely guarded behind our knife and broken glass basket. We don't want this happening again.

January 10, 2009

Will work for food

I'm suddenly finding myself keenly interested in any Obama job stimulus package. Or maybe my own personal government bailout.

My company's home office in Chicago is being relocated to New York in the summer, meaning me and anyone else not making the move are being laid off as of May 1. Despair and woe are not the overriding emotions, frankly. (that might have been the case with shorter notice and less severance.)

I'm actually handling it well. Given my longevity with the company, I'm in line for a decent severance package if I stay through May 1. Still, after the steady drumbeat of atrocious economic news since last summer, I don't relish looking for a job in this climate. Plus, even after 2+ years in Chicago, my network of colleagues is stronger in NY than here. So one thing we'll be evaluating is whether we want to stay here or make a move. Will obviously depend on how the job hunt goes.

Good times. Send job leads and cash donations.

November 21, 2008

Pray, don't ask me that

One of Meredith's books is a version of Beauty and the Beast. One of the passages in it has one of the characters saying 'Pray, don't ask me that question'. And so, of course, that's now part of her lexicon. We're at the grocery store and I ask her what kind of apples she wants. I get pray-don't-ask-me-that-question as the response, which usually turns the heads of anyone else who overhears. At times like that, I have an Elizabethan damsel for a daughter. She only says it once every 2-3 weeks, but it cracks me up.

September 13, 2008

1993 relived

Last night Josie and I got out to a local club to hear some music. The two main acts were Bruce Robison and Guy Forsyth. Robison and his wife Kelly Willis are two of Josie's favorite singer/songwriters. We have seen one or the other (and once both) of them perform separately probably 7 or 8 times from Austin to Houston to New York and now in Chicago.

Robison has penned songs that have been recorded by bigger names, so he personally stays under the radar. But he's really, really good. His genre is country, but if your biased against country, don't let that keep you from listening to him or to Kelly. To their likely detriment from a success point of view, they are both far from the 'pop country' that passes for country music on the radio.

Guy Forsyth is the 1993 connection. When Josie and I were first dating in 1993, we were semi-regulars at a weekly show he did on 6th Street in Austin at a bar called Joe's Generic Bar. Joe's Generic is closed now, but was just a very basic hole-in-the-wall blues club with no cover, which was key for my then-broke self.

It was very small, very intimate and Forsyth was (and still is, as we found out) simply a great entertainer. Unbelievable voice, a wide range of instruments and great blues. The sounds and energy he and his two other bandmates put out was phenomenal. His recorded music doesn't do his act justice. If you ever have a chance to see him live, go. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing him again and I'd jump at the chance again.

September 5, 2008

Let 'em have it

I sure was glad to see the GOP finally take on that scourge of America, community organizers. It's about time someone knocked them down a rung or two, what with their helping people and trying to improve communities. They make me sick.

Next target: those smug firefighters and paramedics. Always running through traffic lights and forcing me to pull over so they can 'do their job'. Makes me angry just writing about 'em.

August 16, 2008

Crime Wave

We've spent a week fighting off our own personal crime wave this week. Actually, Josie has. First, on Tuesday her purse was stolen out of our car. She was dropping M off for swimming lessons and thought she had locked the car. She was away from the car for about 10 minutes and when she came back, her purse was gone. We called it in and reported all of the credit cards and such, but what a pain in the ass.

Then we had someone let their dog go through our (closed) gate and leave an unwanted present on our front yard. Let's just say we didn't ask for fertilizer in that particular spot. They (or someone) also stole a bungie cord we use to keep our gate secure.

And today, she fended off a scam attempt. Someone approached her and said they were locked out of their house. They asked to use the phone; Josie dialed a number for her and there was no answer. At this point, Josie recognized this as a scam attempt, since the same thing happened about a year ago. The way the scam works, the con looks presentable, paints themselves as a normal person who's been locked out. They make a phone call (invariably with no answer) and then ask for around $15 to $20 for cab fare or something.


Josie just ended the conversation today, but isn't it nice to know such decent people are out there trying to con us.


July 16, 2008


We're fish sitting. A neighbor who is a few years older than M has a fish and is out of town. They asked us to fish sit and of course we said yes. Meredith is loving it so far, it's hard to say who's doing a favor for whom.

So here's the thing, though: I'm a little nervous. If it was a dog or cat, I'd be able to handle it, no problem. But what do I know about fish? I think I've watched too many zany sitcoms or movies where a fish doesn't make it when in someone else's care. A replacement fish is sought and hilarity ensues. Maybe Mr. Roper is involved. You get the point.

Here's hoping we don't enact our own zany episode. So far, so good on day #2. Quite easy, in fact. Still...

July 1, 2008

Swinging for the fences

Andrew learned well from Meredith's t-ball season. This has become his favorite activity of late.

June 26, 2008

tooth fairy

If all goes well, we may have a visit from Tooth Fairy tonight, since Meredith ended her day with one less tooth than she started it with. It's one of her bottom front teeth. She had gone to the dentist a few weeks back and the tooth was already loose then. X-rays show that her permanent teeth are right there behind the baby ones, just waiting to debut. And now it begins. I hope the Tooth Fairy has moved on from the dollars of my youth to iPhones. We'll have to wait and see.

June 24, 2008

my videography could use some polish

Here's video of Andrew from early May kicking around a soccer ball like a pro. He was about 15 months old when this was shot. We've never gotten around to getting a proper video camera, so this was shot using our basic little point and shoot Canon.

June 2, 2008

All baseball, all the time

Saturday for us was all about baseball, at least for Meredith and me. It was a gorgeous Saturday here and we started off with M's last t-ball game. She's come a long way in 6 short weeks. I wouldn't say she loves it like she did soccer, but she got into it by the end.

Then right after that we took a break from baseball and all four of us joined M's school classmates for an end-of-year picnic in Lincoln Park at a playground just a few minutes away from us. Both kids had a blast (no pics though).

Then we all came home and took it easy for an hour or so, before M and I hopped in the car and drove up to Milwaukee to see the Astros play (and lose miserably to) the Brewers. Miller Park was a really nice stadium, one of the nicest parks I've been too. M really liked it, focusing mainly on the food. Keep the popcorn, hot dogs, fries and ice cream coming every 2 innings and you can make it through the whole game, which we did. We had great seats, too, about 8 rows behind home plate. Thank you, Craigslist.

The sausage race during the 6th inning stretch was another highlight. If you don't know, Milwaukee is a sausage-eating town and they've got sausage mascots who race around the field. No on-screen dot races for these fans. There's chorizo, Italian, Polish, Brat and a hot dog. For those who were wagering, the Italian took top honors this time.

Meredith stayed awake and alert through the whole game and I think she'll be up for a return visit. Maybe we'll go see the red-hot Cubs next time, seeing as how they're a mile away, not 100.

On the Andrew front, he recently had a 15-month check up and is doing great. He's actually 16 months now, I'm just late talking about it. Like M, he's way up the charts on height and very middle of the road on weight. I used to think M was physical and coordinated for her age; she was and still is. But Andrew is hot on her heels. He's her equal and sometimes more so at this stage. He's more into throwing and kicking at this age. Of course, at this age for M, we were still in Brooklyn, sans yard, so maybe it's just different opportunities.

Over the last few weeks, he's really gotten into reading his books too. You just try to tell him no when he grabs a book and backs into you, angling for some lap time. Just try it, I say. You won't be able to pull it off.

Here are some more pics from the last few weeks. Click on the picture to move to the next one or use the thumbnails at the bottom. You can also place your mouse above the word 'Notes' to see any commentary I felt like adding.

May 29, 2008


I've been derelict in recording some of Andrew's milestone events. So let me put an end to that. Today, May 29, 2008, Andrew managed to open the oven and climb up on the oven door. (the oven was off, for the record.) And he figured out how to open the pantry, get into a box of shredded wheat and empty that on the floor. A momentous day, right? And yet Josie never thought to grab a camera and record the moments. Odd....

May 24, 2008

My dining companion

So this morning at breakfast at our local diner, Andrew was putting some pancakes in his belly button...

Actually, I don't have anything else to add to that, just wanted to get that in writing.

May 14, 2008

That was easy, here are some more

Trying out a new picture tool

I'm giving Pictobrowser a shot as an easier way to get pics online. This set shows some pics of M playing t-ball last Saturday. Use the thumbnails on the bottom to move from picture to picture, or just click on the big picture to go to the next one.

January 27, 2008

Almost never

A favorite turn of phrase from Meredith lately is, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?". The following is an actual exchange:

Her: Daddy, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Me: Mmmm, don't know, what are you thinking?

Her: I'm thinking why don't we get some marshmallows and put them in bread and bake them and then we'll have marshmallow toast. Does that sound perfect?

Turns out I wasn't thinking what she was thinking; frankly, I rarely am. And we haven't acted on her idea yet, so we've yet to feast on the delicacy that is marshmallow toast. That'll have to wait.

January 18, 2008

Wintry entry

Young Andrew is on the precipice of birthday #1 (on Feb 2) and is doing fantastically. He started stumbling around trying to figure out the whole walking thing back in November, taking tentative steps a little before Thanksgiving. Then he kept at it all December, still mainly crawling but working on his walking in his free time. Then, right after the New Year, some sort of switch just clicked and he became a walker. Literally over the course of a day or two, he went from an occasional stumble to all walking, all the time.

He's also making some progress on eating solid foods, finally. Meredith was chomping down solid foods with far more gusto when she was this ripe old age, but Andrew hasn't been as enamored. Give him so yogurt or baby food and he's a happy camper. Give him a pea and he'll set speed records relocating the aforementioned pea to the floor.

Meredith is loving her second year of preschool. It's striking to see the difference between her and the 3 yr olds. She's one of the big 4 yr olds that the other kids look up to this year. Despite the snow on the ground and the sled that Santa brought, we haven't gotten out to sled yet. Either too cold or too snowy or too distracted. We'll get out soon though.

We've got Josie's sister Erin and a friend arriving here tomorrow for the long weekend. Apparently, they missed the memo about visiting Chicago in January. Temps might not get above 20 for the whole weekend. Ouch. But we're looking forward to the visit.

Then my sister Jill is coming here two weeks later for her second annual Feb trip to Chicago. It's for a conference but it happens to fall exactly on Andrew's b-day, so that should be fun. It's also going to be Super Bowl weekend, so go Cowboys! may the best team win.

October 19, 2007

What is a shrift? Is it always short?

Mr. AndrewOne loyal reader recently suggested a name change on the site to "horribly disappointing". can't say I disagree. For those of you who said kid #2 would get short shrift, what can I say?

Andrew is getting plenty of shrift, his publicist (me) is just so busy giving him other kinds of shrift that the site has suffered. What is shrift anyway and why is it so exalted?

Anyway, I'm going short on the commentary but there are new pics up. We're off tomorrow to see Dad and Barbara in North Carolina for a week or so, a long overdue vacation. M is doing fantastic in her pre-school, loves being 4 and is playing a team sport (soccer) for the first time. Now that she's four, she loves to regale us with stories of when she was two years old. If she actually did half of the things she claims to have done when she was 2 years old, she'd be mighty accomplished indeed. Some of her 2-year old exploits are real, others not so much. Some of the not so real ones are mundane (when I was 2-years old I already had that soup), others more fantastic and often involving princesses and/or mermaids.

Meredith's explanation of a large puddle of yogurt on the counter just yesterday, one that hadn't been there 90 seconds prior when I was in the room:

Greg: Meredith, how did that happen?
M: What?
Greg: This yogurt.
M: Oh, when you left the room I got hungry and then it made a mess.

Her role, which I strongly suspect was a key one, was markedly downplayed in her version of events.

Andrew is doing really great, 8+ months now and crawling like a track star and climbing stairs like a person-who-climbs-stairs-real-good star. He's very animated and it's great watching him interact with her. He has built-in entertainment with Meredith (good) and has also been battered around and bumped into and wrestled around more than M was in her whole life. Take the good with the bad.

Alright, I said no commentary, but couldn't help myself. I'll stop now. New pictures are a click away, but only if you click in the right spot, which conveniently is right here.

July 27, 2007

What is Pottery Barn teaching our kids

Got a Pottery Barn Kids catalog in the mail a few days ago. Idly flipping through it, I saw this toy called a Language Wheel. It's got a few words in various languages. Cute toy, nice idea, except they spelled the Italian word 'ciao' as 'chow'. Nice. I'm no Italian linguist, but I don't think you can just make up spellings for words. Oops. Italian-Americans should rise in protest.

June 5, 2007

4 month birthday

Mr. AndrewAndrew blew past the 4-month mark over the weekend; had his doctor checkup today and everything is great. He's up to 17 pounds (merely big) and 27 inches long/tall (way big). No wonder it's hard to walk around with him for too long. Personality wise, he's really starting to light up, with smiles and fun baby noises galore.

M is still doing great with him and is doing great in general. She finished her pre-school last week so that will be a void to fill. Swim lessons, perhaps. Or maybe just hours and hours of TV. We're trying to break her of this reading kick she's developed.

This will be our first summer here in this house, 2nd in Chicago. One thing that should help fill the summer days is our new addition to the family. Yes, after only about a 6 week gestation period (waiting for the crew to actually show up), we and the nice people at the bank who let us live here are the proud owners of a brand new bouncing patio. The crew was here on Friday and got the job done in one day. Then we had a nice rainy weekend so that we could admire it from inside the house. Better weather will return.

Other interesting M tidbits. After not wearing a dress more than one or two times during her first 3 years, she's become a dress-wearer of the highest order. It really began in the fall and was an excuse to wear tights, but she's since become quite the stylish 3 year old. It will be interesting to see whether the warm summer days will get her back into shorts. It hasn't happened yet.

She's also been going to a weekly cooking class for the last month. The kids get to break the eggs, stir the food thingies (ingredients, I think they're called) and in general make a mess that we don't have to clean up. It's great.

Finally, we passed our one-year Chicago anniversary about 2 weeks back. Can't believe it's been that long. It's been a hell of a busy year, but a good one.

There are 30+ new pics posted. Click here or click on the pic above to see them all.

April 19, 2007

Plowing ahead with spring

Mr. AndrewThe temps haven't quite reflected spring yet (although this weekend is supposed to change that), but that hasn't kept us from doing spring-like things. In the last week or so, we've gardened extensively, M and I saw a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and we've painted a bathroom. Industrious little group ain't we, especially with a 2 1/2 month old nipper whose main job continues to be to keep us awake.

The gardening part of things involved ripping out scads of ivy that looked pretty blah. We now have replaced the ugly ivy spots with ugly barren spots where the ivy used to be. Next up it's time to plant. Mucho thanks to Monica and Jim for traveling out from the East Coast to lend a hand. By 'lend a hand', I mean 'do the lion's share of the work'. Jim at least got to go to a Cubs game for his troubles, while Monica got to enjoy some time in the yard. That must have been a nice break from her full time job ... at a garden.

Earlier tonight I went to a Dad's ice cream party at Meredith's school. It was very fun; M thought it was pretty awesome to go to school after hours (it was an evening party). The ice cream with cherries and sprinkles might have helped too.

New pics are posted. Click the picture above for more of 'em.

April 9, 2007

One of those "we'll laugh about it later" stories

...and then, just as I was cleaning up the 8 raw eggs off of the living room floor, I looked up to see Andrew pee on Josie's lap.

The story above is good enough to stand on the conclusion alone. You don't really need to know what led up to that last sentence, you can just infer that it's a good story.

If in fact you do want to know what happened, here's the outline version. It involves

  • Easter eggs, hard boiled
  • Turns out that they weren't so hard boiled after all, as we'll soon find out.
  • After hiding them throughout the living room, Meredith found them and put them into her basket. By 'put' I really mean slammed.
  • While the egg gathering took place, Josie knelt down on the floor to check Andrew's diaper.
  • I didn't actually see the next part happen, but apparently when Meredith 'put' the 8th egg in the basket, it set off some sort of egg-breaking chain reaction.
  • Big mess ensued and I started feeling a little sorry for myself since it happened on my watch which meant I had to clean it up. I hate that.
  • My feeling sorry for myself lasted for about 20 seconds, because that's when Andrew, unfettered by the constraints of his Pampers, let loose with marksman-like aim.
  • Suddenly my egg cleanup seemed like minor league unpleasantness; Josie had taken the lead on that score. We had ourselves a genuine Hallmark moment.
  • After extended cleanup efforts, we resumed egg hunting later in the day with proper hollow plastic eggs and Andrew remained diapered.

Good times.


Andrew is doing well after his 2 month birthday. He checked in healthy at his appointment, still quite big and tall. He's also starting to show some smiles more and more frequently.


If any of you faithful readers are hooked up with a webcam and ever want to do a little video chat, let me know. We're hooked up with a Skype account and will talk anywhere, anytime.

March 1, 2007

Um, have you seen February?

Mr. AndrewUh, did I miss something? Like February? That's right, Andrew is now moving into month number 2. The last month has been, predictably, a bit of a blur. This might be the stupidest thing I've ever typed because of the inevitable jinx it will bring, but so far it has gone comparatively smoothly. The first two to three weeks are never smooth since you have no patterns of any kind established. But the last week, maybe 10 days has gone pretty well.

The biggest surprise is that his nightly sleep has been pretty well established. He seems to have the whole night/day circadian rhythm thing understood. Asleep around 8pm until 1am or even 2am, then up around 5am or so. And for both of the overnight wake times, it's usually to nurse or take a bottle and go right back to sleep. Outstanding. Nothing to write home about, you say, but Meredith at that age was much more sporadic.

Now that I've written that, I realize that's the paragraph that will certainly unleash the mocking fury of the parenting gods on me. Please don't let that be a turning point.

In other news, Andrew is doing fine, growing well, working on getting that neck stronger. Meredith has been very involved. At the first sound of a cry, she's off to figure out what he needs. She invariably diagnoses that he needs a diaper change. In her vast experience, a crying brother can only have that singular need. She loves diaper time; like the rest of us, she can't get enough of seeing all that poop, I guess.

Meredith herself is doing great. She basically has three modes towards Andrew: trying to change his diaper, trying to hold him or completely ignoring him. Other interesting Meredith info:

  • She has been waking up a little more frequently at night. Hard to say if that's just because she's a three year old or because of all the change. Probably both. One night about two weeks ago she woke up in the middle of a bona fide nightmare and it kind of freaked me out. She kept pointing to random spots in her room shreiking 'That one, that one'. I, of course, didn't see anything and got her calmed down eventually, but for a few seconds, I was thinking, hey, I saw The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist, The Others. It's always the clueless adult who can't see what's lurking. It was one of only two nightmares I can remember her ever having. She settled down, but in these early days, even with Andrew sleeping pretty well, the last thing we want are 'surprises' like that.
  • At around the same time as the nightmare, she had a rash on her arm that got diagnosed as shingles. So that was fun. What 3 year old gets shingles? Apparently it's more common for kids now because of the chicken pox vaccine. It didn't bother her in the least. Must be different to have it as a kid (or it was a missed diagnosis).
  • Apropos of nothing, she shucked away 3+ years of calling Josie 'Mommy' and has switched to 'Mother' or to be accurate, 'Mudder'. We don't know if the change was spurred by a book she read or a show she watched or what. It's not a big deal, aside from being the cutest thing ever.
  • She's doing great in school, really loving it there. We're still feeling pretty lucky that we stumbled upon such a great place for her.

We've had a wave of helpers visit already this month and another wave on the way in next days and weeks. You know who you are -- much thanks for the extra hands.

There are some new pics. Click on these here words or click on the pic to the left to see the whole shebang.

February 4, 2007

Andrew Nicholas Phelps arrives

pretty in pickAndrew Nicholas Phelps came into the world on Groundhog Day, Friday February 2nd at 2:09pm. Andrew entered the world at 9 lbs, 14 oz. and 22 1/2 inches. He and Josie are both doing great; Meredith is very excited, already eager to try out a variety of techniques for when Andrew is "sad", i.e. crying. We're all back at home.

Click the picture on the left to see more pics.

Josie's mom came and went the week before the birth, back when we foolishly expected the delivery to actually be on or around the 1/25 due date. Aunt Jill was here before and during the birth, helping out immensely with Meredith. Hell, it wasn't just Meredith, she helped with all of us. I don't think I would have eaten in the last two days had she not been around. Of course, Josie was treated to hospital food, which wasn't as bad as you'd think, to judge by a dessert I got to have half of. Mmmm...

We took Andrew home this morning; he got to make his debut outside the hospital in the middle of a brutal arctic cold front, so the temp was about 1 degree. Later in the day it shot up to around 3 degrees.

Hard to say who he looks like so far. A little like Winston Churchill with some Alfred Hitchcock mixed in.

What will we call him? Don't know. Maybe Andrew or Andy. We may use both for a while, see what sticks. Or see which Meredith uses. I was kidding with her and told her his name was going to be Pumpkinhead and so far she's called him that more than Andrew.

November 17, 2006

Back to the grind

I figured I should get back to this posting thing. This here blog was getting a little dusty. The move to Chicago threw me for a loop, I suppose, and knocked me off what little schedule I was on. So, what's been happening. We've literally been here 6 months now and the big events keep piling up. In no particular order, we've bought a house; M started preschool for the first time; Josie's pregnancy with boychild has hurtled towards the January due date; and I've gotten immersed in my new job. Oh, and Meredith turned three. 2006 won't go down as a boring year for us.

We bought a house in late August, a 3 BR/2.5 BA in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Lincoln Park is in Chicago itself, a relatively close-in neighborhood with a lot of history and things to do. We're about a 10-15 minute walk away from the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is fantastic and which M has taken quite a liking to. She's grown fond of a gazelle, an ostrich and a "flamingo-bird".

The house is 3 levels including the basement level. The main level has the kitchen, living and dining, plus a 1/2 bath. The upper level has the three bedrooms, none of which are huge. But coming from NY, we feel like it's palatial. The basement level is split, with one finished half having a small den/family room and the other unfinished part having the washer/dryer and furnace and storage. We have a common courtyard with some neighbors, but we have a yard that is ours. Again, coming from Brooklyn, that's like nirvana to have a yard.

The new neighborhood reminded us a lot of Brooklyn in that it's very much a walking neighborhood, with lots of stores and restaurants and such. But it is more amenable to cars which is a plus. We have something we never had in Brooklyn: a parking spot. It feels so decadent to be able to run an errand in the car and know you'll have a spot waiting for. Pinch me!

J is progressing nicely pregnancy wise, no major issues to date. Boychild is scheduled to debut on Jan 24 (or 26; I get the date mixed up), so we're only about 10 weeks out now. Yikes. Just about when life has settled down and we've gotten into a pattern at the new house, that will all be shattered. Send any name suggestions my way. We're stymied. If boychild came early, his name might end up being Snoop the way we're going.

M is in school here, another first. She started in September, 3 days a week for a few hours. She loves it. She was really noticeably missing all of her cohorts from Brooklyn over the summer. It really made it obvious how much she had clicked with her little crew and that realization was, of course, heart-breaking for us.

She had a great attitude about it; she never pouted or anything like that. But we could kind of notice her looking longingly at kids she would play with at the playground when it was time to go. All of those interactions were fleeting. She'd play with some anonymous kid for 30 minutes and have a blast and then never see him again. So it's been great to get her involved with some kids that she's had a chance to get to know. (One boon for her that came out of our house search: she got to sample playgrounds and parks throughout the city. We know what's out there on the playground front, I can tell you.)

So, do we like it here? Good question. I think we do, and I don't mean that flippantly. It's just that life the last 6 months has been such a whirlwind and so non-routine, I don't feel like we've lived 'normally' here yet. We've been in the new house just over 2 months now, so any routines we're in are not exactly long-lived. We really, really loved Park Slope and our friends in Brooklyn, so that's been hard to replace. But what we've seen of Chicago has been great. The city has tons to offer and I'd say that all of our first impressions are As and Bs. And the same goes for the house. We've had a few surprises, but we all seem to be settling in well and it's feeling very much like a home. We're certainly looking forward to our first holiday season here. Plus we hear the winters here are...nice. Oh well, we'll get to use the fireplace a lot.

Signing off for now...

June 21, 2006


Meredith woke up shrieking last night at 4am. She was really worked up and we couldn't figure out what the problem was. It took a while, but when she finally calmed down a little she kept talking about how she had stepped on snails. I think this might be her first bona fide documented nightmare. She was really terrified and wasn't about to get back into the crib. Anytime we tried to put her in, she whimpered mightily and said she didn't want to go back to the snails. Kind of hard to fight that logic, so she got to crash the rest of the night with us.

For the record, there were no actual snails in the crib.

June 3, 2006

Where are we?!

If you're looking for us in Brooklyn, you're going to run into some obstacles. The biggest obstacle, really the only one, is that we are now, oh, about 800 miles west of there. What, says you? Well, if you haven't heard, we moved to Chicago about two weeks ago. After just over 8 years in Park Slope, we have uprooted ourselves in search of...what? Well, in early February I found out about a job opening with a sister company within Kaplan. I mulled over whether to apply or not for a while. Josie and I discussed it quite a bit and realized it was a good step forward, especially since it should help us get into a house or at least into a bigger place.

The catch is, the job is in Chicago. Meredith knew about as much about Chicago as we did. Neither of us had been there before other than to change planes at O'Hare. But most people we knew that had any connections to it had great things to say. So in late April the three of us came out for a long weekend to get acquainted. It was a fast trip but we liked what we saw. I also interviewed on that trip and got an offer. After mulling it over for a bit, I accepted and we began our way-too-fast exodus from Brooklyn and NYC.

The last 5 or so weeks have been chaotic: wrapping up my duties at work, trying to say goodbye to friends, lining up a place to live in Chicago, coordinating a move, trying to check items off of the 'things we want to do before we leave' list. Crazy.

There''s more to this post...to read the rest click here.

February 17, 2006

New pics

pretty in pickFinally, some new pictures are posted.
More news coming soon...

January 29, 2006

Say what?

Meredith says (or has said) some cute things over the last few months and I've done a very irresponsible job of recording them. Here then is an attempt to capture some of those in writing. This is mainly focusing on individual words, maybe a full phrase or thread thrown in. This is what a 2 year old sounds like.

Mair-dee = Meredith
Mair-dee wahn some = I strongly suggest that you give me some of what you're eating
Meanboom = Her stuffed bear Moonbeam
Ant Ernie = Aunt Erin
Ant Gosh = Aunt Jill (this version of the name has grown out of fashion)
Ant Jye = Aunt Jill (this is the latest incarnation)
Peas, Tiny, Milk = her favorite dinner, green peas, tortellini & milk
All by self = I'll do -- insert activity here -- myself, Daddy, but thanks anyway. We hear this a lot.
Ag-ee-ot = Alligator
Igg-ee-ahn-ee = Iguana


I'm not going to eat it, Daddy.
-- When I asked her why she was sucking her thumb

November 1, 2005

"More Trick or Treat"

It took Meredith about 2 houses to get the hang of the whole 'people will just give me candy if I walk up to their porch' thing. We met with some friends and their twin boys, Casey and Tyler, who are just shy of 3 year old. As the more experienced elder statesmen, they showed Meredith the ropes and were very good teachers. We navigated up a single block of 3rd St and then back down 2nd St in our neighborhood and that was good for a candy bounty.

Meredith was dressed in a Dalmatian costume and was very cute (duh). After each house she would usually look up at me or Josie and simply say 'More trick or treat' before plowing down to the next house. She was still saying it the next day. A few pictures will be posted soon.

October 28, 2005

The cat in the window

Less than a block from our house here in Brooklyn on 5th Avenue is a small shop named the Pink Pussycat. This establishment features, ahem, adult novelty items (or so I'm told!). All in all, it's a benign shop, a little shabby even. I usually don't notice it any more than I notice the dozens and dozens of other shops and restaurants on this busy shopping avenue.

Due to the nature of their merchandise, their front window has a heavy black curtain to prevent prying eyes from seeing inside. In front of the curtain is a fairly bland and amateurish window display, the central feature of which is a 2 foot tall sculpture or mannequin or whatever of a big pink cat.

I'm not sure what people out there are thinking about our neighborhood at this point, but trust me when I say it's not that big of a deal. So why am I mentioning it?

Meredith loves animals. Dogs. Cats. Squirrels. Zebras. Whatever. Did I mention cats? Whenever we happen to walk by this particular store, there's a very good chance that the pink cat in the window will catch her eye, and that of course prompts her to run to the window and point and chatter excitedly, "cat, cat, cat. Cat says meow". Then she'll just stand there and stare at this wondrous cat in the window, reaching out to try and touch it. Time then slows to a crawl. I feel the eyes of all the passersby as they take in the scene of the young father and his precious daughter loitering in front of the adult novelty shop. Somehow I'm not sure they can figure out that it's not my idea to be just hanging out there.

She does the same thing at the cat veterinarian's office just a few blocks away where there are real cats in the window. "Cat, cat, cat", she shreiks. That's OK. But I can't shake that slightly less than father-of-the-year feeling when she does it at the Pink Pussycat.

October 21, 2005

2 years on

s11.JPGNew pictures are here, new pictures are here. Click on the picture to the left for the latest pics.
Latest happenings include our September vacation to Westport Point in southern Massachusetts. We were up there for about 9 days over the Labor Day weekend; thanks to the hospitality of the Schleck's for letting us have the use of their house there. While there we had two sets of visitors, first my mom (aka MeMac) and sister, Jill. M can't say 'Aunt Jill'; it comes out as Aunt Gosh. That's a good name, it might stick. They were with us for about 4 days. We got in a lot of good beach time and a lot of relaxing-around-the-house time.

They flew back home mid-week, but their slots were filled by Josie's dad (Grand-Pere) and sister Erin. Again, M has trouble with the names of her aunts. Aunt Erin comes out as Aunt Ernie. Another good name that might stick.

While they were there, we had more of the same and that's a good thing. Lots of relaxing, lots of good food. We also spent a day in nearby New Bedford, an old whaling town with a fantastic whaling museum.

M loved the surf, no trepidation at all. She seemed to want one of us with her as she charged into the water, but we were optional. She was going anyway. There was a little toy boat at the house that she adopted as her new favorite toy. It had a string tied to it and she was more or less surgically attached to it as she played in the water.

I'm certain that if you ask any of the group who was there, they'll agree that it was an exceptionally relaxed and fantastic vacation. The surreal part of the trip was that Katrina slammed into New Orleans right as the vacation started, so our immediate experience was a large juxtaposition compared to what unfolded that week in the news. Unimaginable.
In other news, M hurtled past the two year mark while we were on the vacation. We had a small party for her there and then another one back in Brooklyn with her friends.

She is really exploding with her words, having real back-and-forth conversations with us, moving past the point-and-identify stage. The things she picks up are amazing. I casually said 'Go Cowboys' one day weeks ago when a Cowboys game was on. She looked at me like I was crazy (happens a lot) and we moved on. Then, when a football game was on several weeks later, she turned to me casually and murmured 'Go Cowboys'. So something clicked in there about context and she filed it away for future use. (Full disclosure: it wasn't actually the Cowboys who were playing that second time, but hey it was football. What do you want from her, she's only 2 years old?)

October 20, 2005

O, happy day!

astros.gifIf you don't know me that well or if I have never cornered you and bored you with old baseball stories, you might not know that I'm a fairly avid baseball fan in general and a Houston Astros fan in particular. I can date my 'Stros connection back to when I was 8 years old in the summer of '77. I spent most of that summer at my grandparents house in Lufkin, where my main activities were baseball, baseball, baseball and, for variety, vacation bible school. Baseball was the one that stuck.

I played on a little league team there (actually, a Dixie League team) whose name was, prophetically, the Astros. That name alone steered me a bit towards liking the 'Stros, but Lufkin's proximity to Houston was the clincher. I saw Astros game on TV and read about them in the paper. I was pummeled with baseball and the Astros. I was hooked.

Even moving to New York hasn't diminished my interest (thank you, internet). If anything, suffering through the recent Yankee successes and having to hear about them ad nauseam in the media has strengthened my resolve.

And now...the 'Stros have landed in the World Series, after nearly 30 years of unrequited fandom. O, happy day!

October 6, 2005

Don't forget Rita

If you're relying solely on the national news, you'd think that the second hurricane that passed through last month was practically a non-event. But that was not the case. While it paled in comparison to what Katrina did to New Orleans, Rita really did a number on Beaumont and the surrounding area, where Josie grew up and where all of her family still lives. It was two weeks ago today that they evacuated ahead of the storm to the relative safety of Silsbee about 30 miles farther inland. They rode out the storm there, but here we are two weeks out and they are still not home. They are allowed home now, but the electricity is still off.

A few days after the storm passed when it was clear that normal wasn't going to return soon, they all, Jud, Joyce, Audrey and their 4 collective dogs, re-evacuated, this time to Erin's house in Friendswood south of Houston. They've been there ever since. Fortunately, Joyce's house and Jud's house were both OK, just a lot of debris from trees being knocked down. Audrey's house in Silsbee is also OK, but it doesn't have electricity yet either.

If you want to read more about it, the Beaumont newspaper has been our best source of information. From that, we heard about this little tidbit regarding the mosquito problem that is escalating:

According to Jefferson County Commissioner Mark Domingue, the current landing rate is between 25 and 55 per minute, well above the 10 that FEMA considers a serious problem.

He went on to add:

"I have seen as many as 200 per minute," he said. "That's when you look down at your legs, and it looks like you're growing fur."

Look, if you're from the area or have been to the area, you probably know that SE Texas is fairly renowned for mosquitoes. It's not something you usually hear people complaining about since it is such a given. So when you do hear complaints, much less newspaper articles, about it being a problem, wow, that is very telling.

Hang in there, all of you. Better times (and hopefully electricity and cooler mosquito-killing weather) are a-coming.

September 24, 2005

Hurricane Rita update

Jud and Joyce and Audrey (Josie's parents & grandmother) are hunkered down at Audrey's house in Silsbee, about 20 miles north of Beaumont. They are there with their troop of dogs. Jud got a call through to us this morning and said that they were OK, although the connection was pretty bad so we didn't get any other details. I talked to Joyce at about 11am (better connection this time); Audrey's house is fine but there are trees down all around them, including some blocking the driveway. The electricity and phone are both out, so their only connection is cell phones. So they're going to be there for a bit, but they have plenty provisions to see them through.

Erin (Josie's sister) evacuated to Normangee, TX where her boyfriend Gregg's mom lives. Normangee is about an hour north and slightly west of Houston, so it was a good place to be. Gregg himself is a firefighter for Galveston so he stayed on the island with the other emergency workers. Fortunately the storm swung east and Galveston was on the 'good' side of the storm and escaped with less damage than there could have been. Erin talked to Gregg this morning and he was OK.

I've got a lot of extended family throughout East Texas and my mom is in Shreveport. They all should miss most of the heaviest wind but will get doused in the coming days.

That's the update for now.

August 1, 2005

Dog days of summer

DSCN2058.JPGIt has been quite a hot stretch these last few weeks. Much love and appreciation to Josie for persevering and keeping Meredith entertained at the local parks. Her reward: she and Meredith are off to Texas later this week for a week and a half of visiting family and friends down in those parts. Show her a good time, everybody.
We dog-sat our "step-dog" Darwin for four days last week for friend Monika. Imagine Meredith loving Darwin, imagine her being obsessed with him, imagine her with a big ol' cup of infatuation and you'd be about halfway towards picturing how much she adores playing with Darwin. And he is just about perfect for her, since he just calmly takes whatever she has in mind for him. She 'walks' him all over our apartment, tries to sit with him, kiss him, hug him, pet him, etc. It is consuming.
There are about 30 new pics posted, mostly from the Seattle trip, but with a few others scattered about as well. Click on the pic to the left to see the rest.

July 13, 2005

Just a sprain

Got word from the doctor today about my ankle; it's just a sprain, but a pretty bad one.

humongous_black_boot.jpgThey've given me an enormous air boot thing to wear to keep it stabilized until the swelling is down. It does the trick as far as keeping things stable, but geez, there's no way to look cool and/or hip (like I normally do) when wearing this thing.
Meredith has done an odd thing ever since we returned from the left coast. She's been waking up after 7am every day. Unheard of. We suspect it's just her way of dealing with jet lag and therefore we don't expect it to last, but damn it's been nice the last few days.

July 11, 2005

Back from Seattle

Well, we're back from Seattle, all in one piece (but barely -- more below). We flew out there on the day before the 4th and spent the week enjoying good company, good food, good hikes, good just about everything. Meredith was, I think, pretty even in maintaining her "being the entertainer"/"being entertained" equilibrium. She couldn't get enough of seeing family and she gave as good as she got, keeping us all pretty much on our toes. She's got more and more new words and even a few phrases, like 'is hiding' when Mawam (aka William) was hiding from her. Sounded like 'is highn-dee', but we got it.

Thanks to Gary, Ann, Sam and Ben for letting us invade and explore their gorgeous Pacific Northwest turf. Pictures to come soon.
On a downer note, I severely sprained my right ankle a little over halfway through the trip (on Josie's birthday no less) and that curtailed my activity quite a bit on the last two days. It's still swollen and five days later I'm still trying to get it looked at. At first, I assumed I'd just take it easy for a few days and it would be OK. Plus, being in Seattle I didn't want to fool with finding a doctor. But over the weekend it hasn't gotten tons better, so I'm going to get it checked out. I hope it's nothing worse than a real bad sprain.

My regular doctor is out on vacation, though, and the doctors that his office recommended for me don't accept my insurance. So I've spent the day in a Kafka-esque attempt to get someone to see me. I was met mainly with busy signals, interminable holds followed by disconnects, doctors who could see me the first week of August (great!) and more doctors who don't accept my insurance, even though I was referred to them from my insurance. I tried referral services who conveniently found doctors 20 miles from me. Double great. I think I found a place that will see me tomorrow AM; if not, I'm off to an emergency room as a last resort. Stupid health care system.

June 29, 2005

First hired gun

Today was a pretty big day, milestone-wise. Our friend Wendy had asked Josie to help her out for a couple of days with a special project at the museum she works at (the New York Hall of Science, if you're scoring at home). Today was day 1 of that project which means that today was also day 1 of Meredith staying all day with a hired babysitter.

Sounds mundane and I know it happens across the country millions of times a day, but it was a first for us -- the first time M has spent any time with anyone other than a family member or a good friend. Yikes! Of course, we weren't nervous at all, no way. OK, maybe a little. But it went well; Meredith seemed to like the sitter, the sitter liked Meredith and there was nothing eventful to report. That's the way we like it.
Some people have asked how I did in the pool tournament I mentioned a few weeks back. Let's just say I'm not booking my ticket to Vegas. We ended up losing fairly early, unfortunately. It brings to mind that famous old saying: "Crap!".
Josie and I had the rare treat of going to see a movie last weekend (thank you Monica! And Darwin!) and the chance wasn't wasted on a so-so movie. Go see Crash if you have a chance. It is riveting look at race and tension in LA. This is not a light summer movie where you'll go to escape your troubles and worries for two hours, but I thought that the subject was not only fascinating, but the execution was superb. The closest movie I could compare it to would be Traffic from a few years ago. It was that good.

June 20, 2005

Father's Day has come and gone

We just came off a very full weekend here. Not a whole lot to report out of the ordinary. M is doing fine; her biggest noticeable change over the last weeks is a burgeoning vocabulary. Any time a bus drives by, she shrieks out 'Busssss-Bussss'. Actually, when the windows are open which they have been lately owing to our mild weather, if she even hears a bus she will run to the window excitedly screaming her new word.

I got to play 9 holes of golf on Sunday, my first golf outing in a quite a while. I played at a course in Marine Park, Brooklyn, which is in south Brooklyn, a few miles east of Coney Island. Form a picture in your mind of what a Brooklyn golf course is like and I bet you're not far off. It wasn't the swankest place I've ever played, but it was uncrowded and there are a few holes where the Empire State Building and the Verrazzano bridge tower off in the distance.

Shameless website plugs and congrats involving two recent family additions to friends of ours. First, Paul, Josie's former co-worker from the garden, and his wife Elizabeth had their first baby, Ana, a few months back. Belated congrats to Mom, Dad and Ana.

And Tim and Julie, our friends in Austin, added a feminine touch to the family on Friday when Alana joined older brothers Benton and Carson. Way to go guys.

June 7, 2005

New pictures, and more

About 20 new pictures are up. Look at them or else I'll, well, I don't know what I'll do. Probably nothing.

DSCN2058.JPGClick on the lovely sample here to go direct to the latest batch of pictures or click on the "pictures" link above to see the main pictures page.
UPDATE: regarding the cell phone incident I wrote about a few weeks ago, it turns out that the phone is indeed kaput. Meredith is probably etching a little picture of a cell phone on her crib post as we speak, keeping a tally of her kills.
We just came off our hottest weekend of the year, temps in 80s for the first time. We spent some time across the street at the playground where there's a sprinkler set up for the young'uns to play in. We weren't real sure how M would like it, but that was quickly put to rest. She loved it, she was cackling every time the water would hit her. Much fun.

There''s more to this post...to read the rest click here.

May 23, 2005

Good weekend here

Good weekend here, fairly relaxing. Highlight was a Sunday morning kid outing. Josie and several of the other moms in her regular Moms group fiendishly finagled a deal whereby they all went to brunch sans husbands and sans kids, while the dads took the kids to the park for a few hours. Two of the dads were out of town, so we were outnumbered, 6 to 4. Plus one of the other couples, Tom and Kathy, has already had kid #2, so there were actually six toddlers, one infant and four dads. Sounds like the setup for a pretty bad sitcom, doesn't it?

It actually went quite well. We set up in the middle of the meadow part of the park and let the kids have free rein. As long as no one wandered more than 30 yards or so away, all was well. They had a blast and so did we, the moms included.

May 18, 2005

Most alarming

For those who didn't know, Josie spent the last weekend away on a mini-weekend getaway, so I was solo with Meredith on Fri, Sat and Sun. All went well and M and I made great progress in activities like putting on socks and taking off socks and putting on socks and taking off socks and putting on socks and taking off socks and putting on socks and taking off socks. And we did lots of other stuff too, but the sock-related activities were pretty consuming.

On Saturday night, I was bushed and went to sleep at the (for me) early hour of about 11:30 for a long night of slumber. Imagine my surprise when a crashing, screeching noise woke me up in the middle of the night. It seems that our precious daughter has taken to fiddling around with our alarm clocks and in this case she had pushed the right buttons on Josie's clock so that the alarm was enabled. And since the alarm was set to go off at its default time of 12am, I got an unexpected wake-up call right at midnight. Nice.

There''s more to this post...to read the rest click here.

May 10, 2005


OK, so Meredith's speech is coming along pretty well. She can 'say' a lot nowadays. What you'd expect, mainly, like Momma, Dada, ball, car, etc., even an attempt at her own name ("Mehr-dee"). But her favorite word bar none is "Ah-shah-shah". What does that mean? The beauty of the word is that it means so much. It's almost always used in conjunction with a vigorously pointed finger and usually means something along the lines of "Look at what I'm pointing at/say the name of what I'm pointing at/acknowledge whatever I'm pointing at or I will continue saying 'ah-shah-shah' over and over until you do".

We hear "ah-shah-shah" a lot.

May 2, 2005


Josie's MasterCard-like moment after a long day of standing on her feet after volunteering at the BBG's Cherry Blossom festival....

a cheap plastic tub of lovely hot water......$3.29
some frou-frou bubble bath for foot-soaking.....$11.99
watching Meredith deliberately drop Mommy's cell phone in the water.....priceless*

*or $229 bucks if you count the replacement cost.

UPDATE: the phone survived after all. It just needed about 24 hours to dry off.
Posted some new pictures a few days ago. Click on this sample or click on the "Pictures" link above. Includes some pics from our trip to Texas, plus Granddad's recent trip to NYC.


April 15, 2005

What does that mean in Spanish?

Meredith is starting to be able to say some animal sounds. She says that a cow goes "Mmmmmoo-mmmmoo". She says that a cat goes "Me-ah, Me-ah" and that a dog says "Buh-wuh". And a duck says 'Ca-ca', sounding a lot like a Spanish word of ill repute. I think this weekend I'll take her to the park and I will point to the ducks and have her yell out 'Ca-Ca' over and over. Bonus points if I can get her close to some Spanish speakers who think that 'caca' is the first word I've taught her.

March 9, 2005

Our journey begins

We're off to Texas tomorrow AM, bright and early. If you know where we live, please don't burgle us.

NY today: wind chill around 15 degrees.
Texas tomorrow: sunny and 67 degrees.

Do the math.

I've posted a few new pics, more from our trip to NC in Feb. These were from a batch Dad took with his camera that I just got my hands on.

If you want to get funny looks (and who doesn't), walk several blocks in Brooklyn in the aforementioned sub-freezing temps whilst carrying your golf clubs. I'm bringing my clubs with me to Texas with hopes of playing. I keep them in my car trunk usually, so I walked over to get them earlier tonight. Eyebrows were raised as I walked along. One witty fellow who was taking a smoke break outside a bar down the street from us pointed at a grassy patch down the street and yelled out to me that he thought he saw my ball. Ha.

March 3, 2005

Wintry Weather

Winter drags on here, with more snow and more cold weather. On the plus side, Meredith is finally getting the hang of the whole snow thing and starting to like it. There are a few sledding pictures added that prove this.

Other recent happenings included a trip around Valentine's weekend to North Carolina to see Dad and Barbara. Josie stayed behind in NYC for a much, much, much anticipated several days off. So I flew intrepidly solo to Asheville with Meredith; easy, easy. Aunt Jill flew out from Dallas, so she, Granddad and Mimi got some good quality Meredith time. (They got some good quality Greg-time too, but that didn't seem to impress them as much. Weird, huh.)

Granddad and Mimi have a new Weimaraner puppy named Zach, who isn't really very puppy-sized anymore. We were all a little unsure about how Zach would respond to Meredith and vice-versa. But after a tentative first hour or two, it's fair to say that they're now best buds. The NC trip was great, very relaxing for all involved, including Josie back in NYC. She got to have a proper adult weekend, going to movies, museums, sleeping in, etc. I swear that I think I caught her online booking my next trip when I came back!

More recently, we managed to make it out to Central Park last Sunday to see 'The Gates' before they made their departure. It was certainly an interesting sight, but I have to say what made it most interesting to me was the unusually large crowd that was in Central Park. I'm sure the population of the park was larger by many times what a usual late February afternoon would normally see. So that was a testament to the allure (or hype?) of the exhibit, the 'I've got to see The Gates' mentality that seemed to grab New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Next on the agenda is a trip down Texas-way. Josie's best friend from UT, Kerry, is getting hitched on Mar 12th, which is the nominal reason we're heading down. But while we're in the vicinity, we'll be doing our usual family tour of the state to see and be seen. We're leaving next Thursday and I'll be down there for about 10 days, Josie and Meredith will stay about 10 days longer. Should be a lot of fun. Ciao.

January 25, 2005

You never write anymore...

Yeah, I know it's been a while since I've posted anything new. I ran out of room on my free web space, so I took a hiatus for a bit. But I've found a new place to host the website that won't break the bank. And I took advantage of the time off to update the look of the site. Hope you enjoy it better.

Be sure to update your bookmarks. The address of the website isn't the old 'phelpsg.mindspring' address. It is now simply:


As for Meredith, she's still Meredith. Since the last post in early fall, she's become oh-so-much-more mobile. She started walking in late August and hasn't looked back since. One of my more vivid memories of her from this last fall will be the image of her marching down busy Brooklyn streets (and once in Times Square), fearlessly plodding forward with only an occasional look back to make sure one of us is still with her. When she's in particularly high spirits, she'll add a little gesturing and barking out of orders to the mix as she cruises on down the sidewalk.

One unintended side effect of her urban raising: during a Texas visit in November, she showed a marked preference for cement to grass when given a choice. She's treating grass as some sort of alien surface, best taken in small doses. I guess we need to work in some more park time soon!

Word-wise, she's very chatty. We're pretty sure she has a healthy vocabulary, but we are just inept when it comes to translating. We'll figure it out soon.

Holiday-wise, Meredith spent Halloween as a fearsome ladybug, then we spent Thanksgiving in Shreveport with MeMac (Greg's Mom). Christmas was here in Brooklyn with just the three of us, low key but fun. As expected, the boxes and wrappers were big hits as well as the toys. It's hard to beat a simple empty box at her age.

More recently, she got to experience a blizzard just the other day. She was a little unsure about all the snow; she wasn't exactly freaked out by it, but she wasn't diving in to it to make snow tunnels either. She's probably a year away from having some good fun in the snow.

What else? She still loves to be read to and loves to grab her books and run off on her own to 'read' (flip open the book and loudly babble as she turns the page). Loves her puzzles and sorting toys. Loves her two, count 'em, two play kitchens.

That's it for now. Sorry for the hiatus. Click on the 'Pictures' link at the top of the page for the latest pics. There are two full pages, some from as far back as the August trip to Texas.

September 26, 2004

A year already

Wow, what a year it's been. That's right, since last we posted, Meredith cruised past the one-year mark, on Labor Day to be exact. We were on vacation that week in Westport Point, MA, near the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border. 'Twas a fantastic place to spend Meredith's first b-day, a very relaxing taste of New England coastal living. Josie's mom and sister flew up from Texas and were with us for a portion of the week, adding greatly to the festivities. Josie and Meredith also squeezed a trip to Texas in, going down to Dallas for a week in the middle of August. Best I can gather from my reliable no-connection-to-Dan-Rather sources is that there was much pampering and spoiling taking place. Excellent. Anyway, there are many pics posted, so check 'em out.

On a sadder note, while they were in Texas, my great-uncle Earl passed away. Earl was a special and kind man and will be missed. I won't ever experience Christmas without thinking of the annual celebrations at Earl and Dennie's house; they were one of the foundations of what Christmas was to me as a kid. To Dennie, Sharon, Mike, Todd and Malee, we wish you all the best.

August 13, 2004

It was fina in Carolina

Talking. Saying her ABC's. Counting. Running. These are all things that Meredith is not doing yet. But she is doing a lot. She might have taken her first step by the time I finish typing this. She definitely 'walks' all over the place, as long as she has something or someone to hold on to. And she continues to learn about new foods, most of which she likes. All in all, she's still a lot of fun. Some new pics are posted, mostly from our trip to North Carolina in mid-July.

June 21, 2004

Meredith vs. the Gnome

gnome_thumb.jpgMeredith's about 9-and-a-half months now and is getting into, well, everything. Many of you asked for particulars on how big Meredith is getting, how tall she is and how much she weighs. And not surprisingly, a more or less equal number of you have asked about how she'd do if matched up in a fight with a garden gnome. So rather than answer both questions separately, click here for all of the details.

May 13, 2004

8 months old

Wow. 8 months old now and it's like we've got a whole new crawling, climbing, teeth-having, chatty, bath-loving, toy-playing baby. She is fun. Check out the pics.

April 8, 2004

Back to Texas

7 months now and counting. It's been a busy month. Following our Feb trip to the frozen climes of Maine, Meredith went to the opposite extreme with a trip to Texas that included some days lolling about on the beach. Other news this month is that she is sooo close to crawling, up on all fours and moving occasionally, but not quite sure how it's happening yet. She's also been eating solids (lots of fruits) and has the smallest little baby tooth poking through on the bottom. Exciting times, no doubt. Click on the 'Pictures' link for some pics.

March 2, 2004

Can it be 6 months?

Meredith hits the 6-month mark this coming Saturday -- wow! It's been all-encompassing, to say the least. Meredith herself continues to more or less delight us. I don't have tons of reference points, but she seems to be an exceedingly happy baby. Lots and lots of smiles. And her smiles beget our smiles; funny how that works. She's getting stronger and stronger on her tummy and seems to be making nascent efforts to get from point A to point B. We've retrieved her from her crib several times in completely different spots from where she was put down, so she's scooting around there somehow.

On the upcoming agenda, Josie and Meredith are flying to Texas this Saturday for a couple of weeks to coincide with Spring Break down there.

New pics are posted, FYI.

January 29, 2004

Cabin Fever

Meredith's first winter has proven to be a cold one. Can you say 'cabin fever'? She's doing great though, more and more fun everyday. Her sleep has become a little more predictable, which has been nice. And her ability to get to sleep on her own has taken a turn for the better too. That's real, real nice. Hope I'm not jinxing it.

January 11, 2004

to Tejas and back again

After a long journey to Tejas for the holidays, we're all back in Brooklyn, safe and sound (and cold). Meredith had nearly 4 weeks to meet and get re-acquainted with the members of her rapidly growing fan club. Mama and Papa were more than happy to show her off and to reap the rewards of multiple helping hands. Thanks to all of you down there for making it a memorable trip. Now on to the pics. Click the link to the left and enjoy a bonanza of pics, about 60 in all.

December 15, 2003

Snow falls -- and falls -- and falls

Since last we posted anything, Meredith's lived through her first bona fide blizzard, played for about a week with Kerry, Josie's good friend from UT and just recently had a visit from Greg's Uncle Larry and Aunt Anne. And in just a few days, it's off to Texas for nearly 4 weeks of getting passed around by new relatives. Or as we like to call it, baby-sitting.

November 30, 2003

Turkey fiasco

This week Meredith got to experience her first Thanksgiving, with Josie's mom and sister Erin making the trip up from Texas. A slight smoke problem delayed the bird by a few hours (photos included), but we all survived and had a great meal and a great visit.

November 23, 2003

Thansgiving around the corner

Meredith hit 11 weeks old yesterday; it seems like just last week that she was only 10 weeks old. :)
Since the last post, Meredith has attended her first party (for some friends' one year olds) and has had visitors, namely Granddad and Mimi (Ron and Barbara) who were here for a little over a week soaking up some good Meredith rays. A good time was had by all. Coming up this Thanksgiving week is a visit from Josie's mom and sister. Can you say "more helping hands"? That right there is reason enough to be thankful. Amen...

November 8, 2003

Halloween passes...

It's been a while since anything got posted here, about three weeks. In that time, Meredith has continued being Meredith, delighting and frustrating me and Josie many times over. We've experienced our first weekend trip away from home (to cousin Mary Shay's house in Monroe, NY) and that went fantastically well. Now we're gearing up for the coming week's visit from Ron and Barbara (Granddad and Mimi on the Phelps side).

October 19, 2003

Yeah; a quiet week

Quiet week here, all is well. Meredith taught us new things about her, shall we say, range. Suffice it to say that we were left cleaning up the floor, a bedspread and a lamp. And also suffice it to say that her new nickname is ThunderButt.

October 13, 2003

Aunt Jill comes for a visit

Meredith had the pleasure of making Aunt Jill's acquaintance this past week. I think I can safely report that each party was smitten by the other -- and that the extra pair of hands was well appreciated by me and Josie. Click on the Pictures link to see photographic proof.

October 7, 2003

One month old yesterday

Happy one month b-day. We're still surviving. Check out the new pics.

September 13, 2003

One week, what a week

Happy one week birthday to MEP. A few new pics have been posted of the first week. We're all holding up pretty well here, getting used to new rythyms and new routines. A timely visit from Grandma Bowman has definitely helped out.

September 7, 2003

Arrival at last!

Meredith Elaine Phelps was born yesterday, September 6th, 2003 at 9:59 AM. Mother and baby both doing well, Father ecstatic. Meredith weighed in at 7lbs, 14 oz. and is 21 inches long. Some pictures have been posted and there will be more to come. Click on the picture link to have a look.

The New York Times chimes in on the birth. Check it out.

July 7, 2003

In the Beginning

Welcome to the site...

Only a few more days and/or weeks until there are three of us. Not much to look at here yet; click on the pictures link to see the latest additions. The rest of the site isn't really fleshed out. Hell, there is really no rest of the site, but give it time.