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Monday, January 18, 2010

New Hire Training

Hello, my name is Jack.
How may I provide you with excellent customer service today?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baby Gitmo

There's a long list of things that I didn't think I would do as a parent: use the swing for naps, introduce a pacifier, cry-it-out sleep training, have lots of brightly colored plastic toys cluttering every corner, etc. Minds are quickly changed, though, once parenthood is no longer just a concept and you are faced with the reality of doing what it takes in caring for your little one. You begin to research for more balanced opinions of what seemed unfathomable before, to look around at other parents' experiences, and eventually to go with your gut - which may contradict what your mind was telling you just yesterday.

Add playpens to that list of things that I didn't think I would need, want, or do. Until now. They always seemed like lazy parenting. Confining. Stifling a child's sense of exploration and limiting budding mobility.

Though, as Jack becomes more mobile (and quicker) every day, it was becoming clear that it was folly to think we could watch him every second during self-play times. And as we played together on the floor, it was apparent that dog hair is more attractive on the dog than all over baby and Mommy. Jack's brightly colored plastic toys come with little plastic companion pieces and Stella has a knack of sniffing out and destroying that one errant piece left hidden under the table. For addressing all of these reasons, I embrace our 36 square feet of playpen. And Jack's digging it too.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Carnage

Before: O Tannenbaum.

After: O my. Sure beats vacuuming up a path of pine needles through the apartment, down two flights of stairs, and through the lobby.

Goodbye Christmas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A New England Christmas and New Year's

We flew back to Boston for the holidays for our usual whirlwind tour of visiting family and friends. Jack was a trooper and was content to be shuffled from the eager open arms of one person to the next. Boston was hit with a wintry storm just before we arrived but rain washed much of it away until New Year's Eve when there was a dusting which made the city sparkle.

The holidays are a time of coming together, and this year was special as we reconnected with several people that we hadn't seen in a long time or wouldn't normally be able to see when we come back East.

Here's some highlights of our trip:

LOLA - CLICK HERE for pictures of our stay with Lola

When we go back to Boston we stay with Mindy's Mom, Linda, so she got lots of Jack's attention on this trip. Linda setup a room for Jack, spoiled him with Christmas presents and clothes, and even babysat allowing us to catch a movie one night.

[Inset picture: Lola and Jack]

Funny coincidence: the team that Linda works with at the Mass General Hospital lab wanted to meet Jack so we took him over for a quick visit. When we arrived we noticed that we were entering the "Jackson" building entrance to the hospital on "Blossom" Street!

GRANDPA JIMMY - CLICK HERE for pictures of our Christmas day visit with Grandpa Jimmy

Jimmy fixed us a big meal on Christmas Day and we had fun watching Jack with his Grandpa. Jack clearly enjoyed playing with Grandpa and also took a liking to his cat, Binks. Grandpa can always get a giggle out of Jack, CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW to watch them together:

FAMILY IN FAIRHAVEN, MA - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with Tom's Aunt Mildred and cousins

We went to visit Tom's Aunt Mildred who lives in Fairhaven, MA (about 50 miles outside Boston). Mildred is now 88, smart as a whip, and has a fascinating background as one of the few woman pilots when she was a young woman. Her passion for flying is still strong and she now avidly follows the NASA shuttle liftoffs and space programs. Enviably, she has a family member that works for NASA and allows her the inside track on NASA activities - she was invited to attend a shuttle liftoff from inside the NASA grounds, she has several photos and signed pieces from past shuttle astronauts, and her name was even inscribed on the Mars Rover when it landed on Mars.

After our visit with Mildred we met with more of her family, Tom's cousins, for lunch. Through a little social networking, Tom reconnected with his cousins who he hadn't seen in at least a decade. They now have kids of their own and we had a great time taking over the restaurant for a couple of hours while we made up for lost time.

[Inset picture: Mildred and Jack]

JOSE FAMILY - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with Mindy's grandmother, aunt, uncles, and cousins on her father's side

Mindy's Dad is one of nine so you know its going to be a large family gathering to see Jack. Sure enough, we were warmly welcomed by several aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins - both all grown up and new little ones. As always, there was plenty of food and laughing. Jack seemed to enjoy playing with other kids. And Mindy was most amazed to see her "little" cousins who were now handsome young men and women, paving the promising roads of their own lives.

[Inset picture: four generations - Mindy's Lola, Jimmy, Jack, Mindy]

CATCHING UP WITH COUSINS - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with two of Mindy's "little" cousins

On a separate occasion, we visited with another two of Mindy's "little" cousins. All grown up now, Michelle recently bought a house and Candice recently moved back to the Boston area from NY/NJ. It was so good to see them as adults and introduce Jack to them.

[Inset picture: Sarah (Candice's friend), Candice, Michelle, Mindy, David (Michelle's boyfriend)]

BURKE FAMILY - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with Mindy's aunt, uncles, and cousins on her mother's side

Christmas Eve in Maine is a Burke family tradition and a strong childhood memory for Mindy. As the Burke family has dispersed themselves and the kids have started their own families away from Maine, the Christmas Eve gathering is smaller now but no less traditional. Sadly we couldn't make it to Christmas Eve in Maine this year, but we did want to ensure we saw as many of the family as we could so they could meet Jack. We decided to meet halfway in Portland for lunch and then have dessert at Jill (Mindy's cousin) and Matt's (her boyfriend) newly purchased home.

Snow started to fall after lunch so Mindy's cousin, Kari, scooped up a bowl of freshly fallen snow for Jack to feel!

[Inset picture: Kari introducing Jack to snow]

CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with friends including the Costa family, Maggie, Paula, and Eileen.

We had so many family visits scheduled in one short week, but we also wanted to ensure we visited with some of our closest friends.

We were excited to meet the daughter of one of Mindy's friends, Maggie. Maggie's adorable little girl, Lola, is now almost 4 months old and this was our first time meeting her. We've seen so many pictures, but actually holding delicate little Lola was a treat. Maggie and her husband, Scott, live on Long Island and we don't get to see them nearly as often as we would like to.

Mindy is very much in touch with her old in-laws and was excited to be able to introduce Jack and catch up. Maria made an authentic Italian feast for us, Lucy, and Olivia and we were so happy when Nicholas was able to drop by as well.

We met Eileen and Dave, and their kids, Natalie and Michael, in town for some lunch and walked around Boston as the city was putting the finishing touches on their "First Night" activities on New Year's Eve. It started to snow and made the city sparkle.

On our last day in Boston we were happy that our friend, Paula, was able to meet us for brunch. She met Jack a few months ago when she was vacationing in California and it was great to see her back on the East Coast.

STELLA COMES HOME - CLICK HERE for pictures of our visit with Jaime and her bulldogs

Our friends, Jaime and Joe, once again hosted Stella. She had fun playing with her Mom (Sarah) and half-sister (Holly) and Jaime and Joe's two children. She cuddles with Joe on the couch and plays "bitey-face" with her half-sister, Holly. Jaime sends pictures via Facebook and texts updates which makes us feel more connected. We think Stella had a little too much fun - once we were home, she would pad into the bedroom at 10:00pm or later and stare at us, wanting to play.

[Inset picture: Stella, Holly, Sarah]