Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Turkey day is here again, and with it comes stuffing, football and my annual list of things I'm thankful for. So here it goes in no particular order:

  • The 100+ years worth of love and life lessons from my dearly departed Grandma.
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • A living family full of people that make every day feel like a holiday
  • Online shopping
  • The hide-and-seek game by the banister that Little J and I play every night upon my return home.Being an American
  • Getting grandfathered into an unlimited data plan
  • An interesting job with co-workers I respect
  • Chrome, the web browser
  • Inspiring friends
  • The Beverly Hills 90210 theme (it never gets old)
  • A wife that displays the true meaning of determination
  • Pork

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Something Smells Fishy

We're at the halfway point of our vacation. Though it hasn't all been exactly according to plan, we've been having a great time anyway.

The pool and beach are great, and our condo couldn't be more convenient with the kids. But outside of the complex, the Sandbridge area leaves a bit to be desired. For example, this is a shore town so we were expecting a bunch of fishmongers selling their "fresh off the boat" product. But there are only three around. Melissa and I drove to the first one, a plain shack of a building without even a sign out front. As we pulled into the empty parking lot our car was immediately surrounded by hound dogs. We didn't think we could get Little J out of the car without being attacked so we started turning around. As we did, a man came to the shack's door - toothless, neckless, hunched over and walking with a limp - and started waving for us to come in. You could practically hear the Deliverance banjos in the background.

We pulled out and drove to the second fishmonger. It looked exactly the same as the first so we just kept driving to our last hope least we be stuck with the Gordon's Fisherman. We pulled up and were relieved that it looked legit. We walked in the door with a spring in our step, eyed the counter full of fish and asked "what came in today?" Its a standard question you ask at these places (even though you know they're going to name whatever came in a week ago in hopes of moving it). Our anxiousness was returned with "I dunno." OooooooK, so what's locally caught? "I dunNO," this time with attitude. So we got some shrimp and left.

The rest of our dinners were take-out, which is a whole other post in itself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hello Virginia Beach

After eight hours of driving, we made it to Virginia Beach.  We're looking forward to an exciting week on the beach with LAB, Beersy and Pony.  Based on our trip down here, it's sure not to be dull.

We split the drive into two parts.  Friday night we hit the road at 8:15 PM and headed to Salisbury, MD.  We were concerned that traffic might turn the four hours drive into six, but were pleasantly surprised when we made it to our hotel right on time.  "Perfect!" we thought. "We'll get the pack-and-play set up, move Little J inside and go right to bed.  Of course, Little J had other plans.  She woke up just as we arrive at the hotel and refused to go back to sleep.  Melissa had to hold her all night and barely got to close her eyes.  At least her hard work was paid back when Little J peed so much that it escaped the diaper and flowed all over Mommy's pajamas and pillow.

As chance would have it, the Beersy clan was staying in the same hotel that night, unbeknownst to us all.  We met for breakfast and then hit the road convoy style.  Little J decided that she still wasn't tired and was awake for the two hour drive to Cape Charles, VA (awake and cranky).  We hadn't planned to stop in Cape Charles, but decided it would be best to eat there in case we hit traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. A Google search of accessible restaurants suggested a place called Sting-Rays.

We pulled into what looked like any other roadside restaurant and placed our orders at the counter (three fried crabcake sandwiches, a fried flounder sandwich and fries all around) and found our seat. We didn't know at this point Sting-Rays had been featured in Southern Living magazine, Rachel Ray's show, and others.  Anyway, we sat down and when the food came I started feeding Little J while Melissa ate, and we planned to switch when Melissa was done.  That's when one of the workers - a sweet looking, mid-40s Cambodian woman - came over and started gushing over the girls.  She asked if I wanted her to hold Little J while I ate, and I respectfully declined.  A few minutes later the woman came back and said how cute Little J and Pony were, and put her arms out toward Little J.  I reluctantly handed her over and all of a sudden the woman goes "OK, I'm going to walk around with her" and walks away!  I watched her walk behind the counter, greet customers on line - she was walking around the entire restaurant.  All the while, the four of us at the table are in shock over how our baby ended up in the arms of a complete stranger.  We found out later that she was the owner of the restaurant, and was a very very nice woman.  And the food was very good too - the crabcake was all crab.  We'll likely stop back there on the way home and Little J can visit her new friend.

Little J fiiiiiinally feel asleep once we left the restaurant and completed the journey to Virginia Beach.  We arrived, checked in, unloaded the cars and realized that despite my best efforts to pack the million and one things a baby needs, I forgot two of the most important - food and diapers.  Melissa and LAB were going to the grocery store last night anyway, but it still makes me wonder how many other things we'll find missing.

We took it easy last night, getting pizza and hush puppies from Baja (above average for southern pizza) and watching Elizabeth Crot win Miss Virginia 2011. This morning, we're about to hit the beach and get some pics of the kids first view of the sand and ocean.

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the Road

Today begins the next adventure in the never-ending list of Firsts that is parenting: vacation with Little J.
We're going to Virginia Beach for a week. This is our first trip of any significant distance since well before Little J's arrival. Last year we went to Cape May for a few days which was fun, but not a real getaway of the likes we spoiled ourselves with pre-baby. And its likely to be our most challenging trip yet.
Why, you may be asking? If you don't have a kid you won't get it. I certainly didn't get it before I was a parent. There are a million new considerations to be made. The location, the hotel, the packing list, actually packing, planning your travel time... I could go on and on with the phases of travel that have changed.
A lot of it has to do with the amount of stuff* a baby requires. We briefly considered somewhere further than VA Beach, but logistically we don't understand how people fly with a baby. The toys she'll need to entertain herself for a week alone would cost us $25 in baggage fees. So we're driving, but how do you pack all of her stuff plus yours plus beach chairs, an umbrella, etc.? My choices where buying a rooftop carrier or leaving Melissa at home. I opted for the former because Melissa is handy to have around when Little J wakes up at 4:00 am.
Then there's the travel time. Little J is generally pretty good in the car, but she has limits. Our plan to minimize screaming is to a) split the trip into two parts, and b) start the first (four hour) leg after she goes to bed at 8:00. That's after a full day at work and before a morning of driving another four hours.
But we've got the car top packed, the coffee machine set to turn on at 7:30 PM and our sights set southward. Here's to Family Vacations!
* yes, I see the irony about packing too much stuff on a blog called I Think We Over Packed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good Times

As I sat here watching video of Jim's brand new baby boy, something occurred to me - it's been a pretty good year. Let's think about the things that have happened in the last 12 months or so within our circle of friends and family:

  • The best thing of all - Little J was born
  • Four other  new babies were born
  • Two couples got married
  • Two couples made huge upgrades to their living situations
  • We celebrated a 100th birthday
  • A major health scare turned out to be just a small issue
  • That aside, everyone is healthy and happy

There have been a few bumps in the road, like the passing of a very very good man, but even at times like that you can see how strong and supportive those around you are.

Man, I'm getting soft in my old age.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The ITWOP Bracket Challenge is Back!

I haven't been writing, but I'm still balling!
Only in its third year, the ITWOP Bracket Challenge has a history steeped in Cinderella magic. First, Himom came out of nowhere to win the 2009 edition. The Brutus Buckeye rebounded from a bottom of the barrel finish in '09 to take the 2010 win. Was he excited to win? He bought a house just so that there was an appropriate place to display the trophy!
Now its your turn to feel the glory. March Madness is just around the corner and with it your chance to proudly proclaim "I beat all you suckers!" So go now and sign up
here. Picks need to be completed before games start midday on Thursday. And invite your friends and family - the more the merrier.
P.S. - Pop culture connoisseur LAB wins for best bracket name so far with "Duh, Winning!!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who Needs Jeffery?

I'm far from a parenting expert. For example, I still dread the day that I have to take Little J's temperature the... you know... traditional way. But in the 20 weeks since her birth, I have learned a thing or two about baby products. There are some wonderful contraptions, gizmos, thingamajig and whats-its out there that don't show up on the Babies R Us suggested registry. The way we learned about them is through friends and families who raised a little one before us. So since many of our friends are starting their own registries soon, here are some of my favs.

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper: imagine that a bouncy seat and a playpen had a love child. That love child is the Rock 'n Play Sleeper. Little J spent the first three weeks of her life in this thing. She slept in it, she sat in it, she... well, that's pretty much all she did for the first three weeks besides eat. And she ate in it from time to time too! Even now, when she gets a little fussy at night we move her from the crib to her Sleeper when she cries at 5:30am and she sleeps soundly until 7:00am. I think she likes that it cuddles her, like she's being held. Whatever the reason, she loves it!

Dr. Brown's Formula Mixing Pitcher
: if you're like I was back when I was a naive expecting father, you're thinking "what the hell do I need a mixing pitcher for? Can't I use a spoon and my German beer stein?" Shockingly no, you can't. You don't realize how valuable every minute of your life is when you have a kid. This pitcher makes it easy to measure, easy to mix, and easy to pour the formula. And its easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher. We don't even use Dr. Brown's bottles, but I won't give up my mixing pitcher.

Pacimals: you don't realize how powerful of a force gravity is until you give your baby a pacifier. Those little uncoordinated hands drop those things like their lead weights. Pacimals are plush toys in the shape of animals which make it easier for your baby to hold her pacifier. The Pacimal holds the pacifier via an adapter on its head, and then the baby holds this bigger toy instead of the tiny pacifier. The pacifier is removable for machine washing, and you can use the regular pacifier or an orthodontic pacifier adapter. They're not foolproof, but Ooie the Monkey has allowed us to eat dinner without picking a pacifier up every three minutes.

Lamaze Musical Inchworm: I've heard there comes a time in every father's life when he recognizes he isn't the only man in his daughter's life. For me, that came during Julia's first poop on her nursery's changing table. This stuffed toy, which we've oh-so-creatively named "Caterpillar" hangs above the changing pad and is Little J's best friend... after Mommy. All of the Lamaze toys are great, but in our opinion the Inchworm and Jacques the Peacock really stand out.

Skype: it's a digital world and you don't want your kids lagging behind those with Chinese parents, do you? You need to bone up on their computer skills ASAP. But Skype is also an easy, free way to share your litttle bundle of drool with distant loved ones. Create an account, hook up your webcam (inexpensive options abound if you don't have one integrated already) and start video chatting.

Baby Blanket Music: ugh, baby music. Awful. Just awful. I don't think the kids even like it, they just don't know any better. But Baby Blanket Music is changing that by baby-ifying grown up music. Its incredibly listenable versions of some adult contemporary favs. Unfortunately they have a much smaller selection than their barely tolerable competitor Rockabye Baby! but will be able to expand thanks to the enormous cash influx this recommendation will yield.

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets: swaddler, play mat, security blanket, I think it even put a bottle in the warmer and feed Little J once when we feel asleep. These do-everything blankets are constantly in use. And since they have beautiful, delicate designs you don't mind seeing them strewn about the house.

Cloud B Sleep Sheep: here a secret every parent must know - shushing works! But try standing next to the crib shushing your angry newborn for 45 minutes and you'll asphyxiate yourself. That's why you thought ahead and bought the Sleep Sheep, a white noise machine stuffed inside a cute little sheep toy. Our's hangs on the side of the crib and lulls Little J to sleep with the sounds of a heart beat, whales, or the ocean.

Hospital Aspirators: babies are the cutest things, until they start snorting like an angry water buffalo at 3am from a stuffy nose and you're trying to use the aspirator that came with the saline drops. Those things couldn't suck wind after running a marathon. On the other hand, you'll be afraid the baby's brain will come out her nose with the hospital ones. Take as many as you can, each night before going to the nursery. The nurses expect it and they'll restock your supply.

Now that you know what gear you need, go forth and procreate! And make sure to tell us about your favorite baby gear in the comments.