Friday, December 26, 2008

Visit to the UN

As Curt noted in his previous post, my grandmother, my aunt Janice and her boyfriend Steve came in to the city today. Steve had never been to the UN, and Janice hadn't been since her Model UN days (and we won't say what decade that was in), so we decided to have lunch and a tour there. Loren posed for a few pictures to pass the time while we waited for them to walk up from the ferry.

Inside she took in some Buddhist art...

... and the General Assembly.

No, her arms have not gotten freakishly long. She got the shirt for Christmas and it is 2 sizes too big. But she fell in love with it before I had time to hide it away for later.

Stardate 62985.31 - Christmas 2008

This is a long one, so hang on to your hats! We've had some wild temperature swings here over the past couple of weeks. In the photo above Loren gets ready to brave the cold on one of out sub-freezing days. We had beautiful snow 1 day before Christmas, but it rained and hit the 40s on Christmas Eve so it was all gone by Christmas morning.

Below Loren plays with Cheryl's new Birthday present (an iPhone, if you cannot tell). Cheryl finally has found something to keep Loren entertained on bus rides home! Of course, I'll always remember the day we got the iPhone as the day I slipped down the steps in the subway and sprained my ankle. :-)

Christmas Eve we went to New Jersey for the traditional celebration. Loren got to open her stocking from Cheryl's parents while the TV played the Christmas fireplace scene from their fireplaces DVD.

Later, I read a story to the under-17 crowd (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish).

After dinner it was time to open Christmas presents, which was pretty organized--no real chaos or mayhem.

"Bobby" poses with her daughters.

We got home pretty late and still had some set-up to do before Christmas morning. The kitchen in the picture below, for example, required over 140 screws. But for the first time in my adult life, we had Christmas Day at home--just us, with no travel and no visitors. We spent most of the day playing with Loren and all her new toys.

Loren also got some GeoTrax additions, but didn't want to connect them up to the large set (yet).

We stayed in PJs for a large portion of the day, although Loren had to try on her 2 princess outfits she received. Below I read a new book to her (and you can see that my ankle is still wrapped). Cheryl got me the cool holiday PJ bottoms!

Here is Loren's other princess dress, and she is alternating putting warm and cold water on the princess doll (it makes her clothes and hair highlights change color).

It was a nice Christmas and Loren seemed to really enjoy it. Today (Friday) Bobby, Steve, and Janice are in the city for a visit (they are off with Cheryl right now, as I am still not terribly mobile). They are going to swing by the cream puff place before they come up to the apartment since Friday is cream puff day!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stardate 62973.63 - Why me?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

"Why me?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?"

That was what I exclaimed when I was a child and during a mock sword-fight with my cousin Justin I backed up, lost my balance a bit, and set my hand down on top of a very hot wood stove. You could see a hand-print on the stove for months afterward, as I believe I lost a very thin layer of skin. I repeated this mantra for hours (days if you believe my cousins). Well, on Sunday we decided to get out of the house, run a few errands, take Loren to Grand Central for the laser show, and swing by Cheryl's office to move the last few items out of her old office and into her new office (right next door to her old office). Well, 2 out of 3 got accomplished.

First, we went to the AT&T store where (for Cheryl's birthday) we got her an iPhone. We thought we'd lost her phone Wednesday night at my company holiday party, and between the time we realized we couldn't find it and when we actually found it 24 hours later, Cheryl had done some research on line and had decided that she'd really like an iPhone to replace it. I think she was a bit disappointed when we found the phone, so we decided that for her birthday (I had not gotten a preasent other than flowers for her yet) we'd get her an iPhone. So we did, and she loves it! I'm having some gadget envy right now, I must confess.

Then, as we were walking down the wet, slushy stairs to the 4/5 train I had Loren's hand in one hand, and 2 umbrellas plus the iPhone bag in the other hand and suddenly slipped. I was wearing ankle-high snow boots and I'm not sure if they helped or hurt but I slid down several stairs as I tried to quickly release Loren's hand (successful), grab hold of the handrail (partially successful), keep from smashing the AT&T bag (successful), and keep my foot from folding under my leg (partially successful). As I stood up I realized that my ankle hurt like hell and I couldn't put any weight on it. I hobbled down the stairs and after a few minutes realized it was not getting any better.

So Cheryl and Loren went on to Grand Central without me as I hobbled back up the stairs and hailed a taxi to take me home. It turned out that there was also a train display there, and Loren fell in love with it.

Meanwhile I elevated my foot and watched New England crush the Cardinals while I tried to figure out if my ankle was broken or just horribly wrenched. I'm going to call the doctor today to see if I need to come in to have it checked out. I can move around the house slowly today, and the swelling has gone down, so I'm hoping it is the same basic injury I did to my right ankle about 10 years ago or so playing racquetball. It hurt less this time (left ankle this time), and the swelling was less so I'm hoping it is just a bad sprain.

So I'm working from home today. What a great way to start the holiday week.

Why me?!? :-)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stardate 62969.35 - You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Cheryl and I were in the mood for some comedies so I moved this one up to the top of the Queue: You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Cheryl did not even remember when this was in the theater, but consented to watch it "for 30 minutes or so" to see if she got into it enough to make it a preferable alternative to just going to bed early.

She watched the entire movie.

It was not great art, and it was not a fantastic movie, but with minimal expectations going in, we both found ourselves snickering through most of it and even laughing out loud a couple of times. If you are looking for something pretty silly and humorous, you could do worse than Zohan. Two thumbs up.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Stardate 62967.03 - O Christmas Tree

After spending a fortune every year for a tree in New York City that was usually almost dead and left a trail of dry, discarded needles we were still finding months later, we finally broke down and purchased an artificial tree. We figured we'd break even if we use it for 3 years. This year Loren was really excited about getting the tree, and even helped decorate.

Here is the finished product, before we started stacking the presents under it. Loren has been very good and patient about not wanting to open the gifts before Christmas.

Happy Holidays to everyone!!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stardate 62964.11 - Cheryl's Birthday Weekend

For Cheryl's birthday weekend, we took Loren to NJ on Saturday and turned her over to Cheryl's parents. Then Cheryl and I, for what is probably our last weekend as just the two of us before the new baby comes, drove to Ocean Grove, NJ where Cheryl had picked out a nice little B&B named the Ocean Plaza. Comment from Cheryl: Actually, this would be our first weekend as just the two of us since Loren was born.

From the town website, "The Year was 1869, and a group of spiritual lay leaders assembled as The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to form and incorporate the town of Ocean Grove. Now New Jersey's finest year-round family seashore resort, this one square mile of natural beauty has welcomed and delighted vacationers, including U.S. presidents, for over a century. On Ocean Grove's tree-lined streets is the largest assemblage of authentic Victorian architecture in the nation."

After we got checked into our room, we took a walk around town. We so rarely go somewhere without Loren, and therefore neither of us brought anything to read with us. While we were in town we picked up some chocolates for Loren and Cheryl's parents, and 2 books for us to read.

The Great Auditorium:

Some of the original beach cottages still stand.

The scenery was quite spectacular.

And if you walk a few blocks north, you reach Asbury Park where the scenery is not quite as nice.

After the sun set it was quite cold and we returned to our room for a leisurely couple of hours reading our books. For dinner we made reservations at Bia in town (easily walkable from our hotel). The food was really good, although the pace was a bit leisurely. I had scallops and Cheryl had short ribs. Altogether a really enjoyable experience. Another comment from Cheryl: "Leisurely" is Curt's diplomatic way of saying SLOOOOOOW. But the food was excellent.

We returned to the room and read some more before falling asleep. I was up around 7 and Cheryl slept in a little bit. We ate breakfast and then checked out. On the way back to Cheryl's parents' place we even stopped and did a little Christmas shopping.

Loren was great for Grandpop and Grandma, and Cheryl and I had a very relaxing 24-hours together. Cheryl actually did all the work in selecting the place and the town, which was an interesting choice because even though it is only 30 minutes or so from where she grew up, she had never been there.

Two thumbs up on the Ocean Plaza, Bia, and Ocean Grove!


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Stardate 62933.12 - Last of Thanksgiving

They are the pictures that keep on giving! Here are a few more shots from Thanksgiving in Virginia.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Stardate 62917.64 - Thanksgiving, by Dad

Here are some photos my Dad (Granddad) took over Thanksgiving and e-mailed to me. Dad came down from Richmond for a few hours on Friday to visit with us. (My Mom posted pictures to Kodak Gallery and while you used to be able to download lower resolution versions from their site, they seem to have disabled that ability. I'll have to ask her to e-mail me a few of them and I can post some here.)

Here we are around the dining room table...

And here Loren and I walk with our walking sticks down to the creek.

And here Loren practices throwing things into the creek.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stardate 62914.12 - Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Cheryl and I decided to do things a little differently. With her due date in January, we decided we won't be traveling over Christmas. Since it was the year to visit Virginia for Christmas (we alternate between families), we decided to go down there over Thanksgiving instead. To try and avoid traffic as well as many Loren-requested stops, we left Wednesday evening at 7 PM. Loren slept in the car starting around 9:45 or so, and with only 2 stops we made it to Verona at 1:40 AM Thursday morning. It made for a tired day on Thanksgiving, but the trip was faster than if Loren had been awake and demanding a stop every couple of hours or so. Saturday night we did the same thing, leaving Virginia at 7 PM and arriving back home around 1:15 AM Sunday morning.

We did the Thanksgiving meal at Ginger's, where Aidan, Zach, and Loren played dress-up before lunch was served.

Loren got a little time in with the XBox 360.

After the meal was over we hung out for a while, catching up.

Later today or tomorrow I'll post some more pictures, but we didn't really take too many. My Mom will probably send me of hers and I'll post some of those.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stardate 62900.21 - Top Hotels for Business Travelers

I don't travel on business any more (one of the advantages to having a job with a local client), but I do keep my eyes open for interesting travel items. Forbes just released a survey on the best hotels for business travelers (click here for the survey). None of the hotels listed are ones I've ever stayed at, but it was interesting that personalization and customization are rated pretty highly. I also appreciate that (which is why I'm a member of a dozen hotel loyalty programs), but the customization at places I stay seems to be pretty minimal. Apparently, I need a higher class of hotel.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stardate 62894.23 - Too Cute!

Here Loren poses in her new poncho last Sunday before she and Cheryl went to NJ for the day (I was still recovering from surgery).


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stardate 62884.65 - Jess on EpicFu!

Jessica Stover was interviewed by EpicFu -- click here for the video (Jess appears about half-way through the segment).


Stardate 62885.83 - Medical Report

As many of you already know, I had surgery last Wednesday for a Right Inguinal Hernia. This is something I'm pretty sure I've had for over a year, but as the doctor told me, "Hernias never get better, they can only get worse." So I finally scheduled the surgery at NYU Medical Center (same hospital where Loren was born).

I know some of my friends and co-workers have already had this procedure, but for anyone else who may need it now or in the future I wanted to briefly talk about my experience. People with no interest in this type of thing can stop reading and hope for a new picture of Loren tomorrow. Some people may feel this is too much information, but I found it very helpful to talk to people who had already been through the procedure so if my experience can help set people at ease who are anticipating this procedure then that is what I want to do.

I had to go in 10-14 days in advance for a pre-surgery screening and other than a 2-hour wait that was uneventful - drawing some blood, an EKG, and a lot of questions. The day before the surgery I received my instructions and my time - no food or drink starting at midnight Tuesday and report at 0730 Wednesday morning. After meeting with every single person who would be working on me (and even the people who clean the room, I think!) and answering the same questions over and over I was finally ready for the procedure. The doctor was running about 30 minutes late, but I was quickly taken into the surgical room around 0900 and climbed up onto the table. There was some small talk, I was given an IV and oxygen, and then I don't remember anything until being woken up post-op and asked to help move off the table onto a gurney.

I was wheeled into recovery and asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink. I was very tired and groggy, so I asked for some decaf coffee. As soon as I drank a sip, I realized I was very nauseous. After lying on the bed for 30 minutes or so they moved me into a chair. They asked me about the pain - on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain ever (the time I broke 3 ribs and the morning after when I sneezed both came to mind). I replied the pain was a 2 or a 3, but the nausea was overwhelming. They gave me something in the IV for that (along with a lot of fluid), but it didn't help. Later they gave me a shot of something in the leg that was supposed to help. It helped me enough to get into a cab with help from Cheryl and get home around 1330, but I felt like I had the stomach flu. I went to bed and didn't get up until the next morning. I would sleep for 2 hours, get up to use the bathroom, and go back to sleep.

The nausea didn't dissipate until Thursday afternoon, and I didn't completely get my appetite back until Sunday. The entire time from the surgery through today the pain has been around a 1-2. The pain was completely dwarfed by the nausea, which I understand can happen from general anesthesia. In fact, the pain was so low I didn't even use the Percocet they prescribed for me and instead just used over-the-counter ibuprofen. In fact, I haven't even taken an ibuprofen in more than 24 hours as I write this post.

My friend Brian Hampton told me that the worst part would be getting up in the morning, and he was right. Everything is just sore and it is hard to get out of bed, but once I am up I am fine. I have an appointment this Friday with the doctor for a follow-up and I'm hoping the dressing gets removed--think about having a few napkins held on you by plastic wrap. Lets just say the itching really started kicking in yesterday.

So I spent Thursday and Friday off of work and watching nearly an entire season of Star Trek: Voyager (most of season three and the start of season four). Saturday I took it easy with the family, and on Sunday Cheryl took Loren to New Jersey to her parents' place so I could have another day with minimal activity. I worked a half-day from home on Monday and was back up to a full day yesterday (I'll be telecommuting through the end of the week). I should be able to go back to work in person the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Overall, it wasn't too bad. The pain was a lot less than I anticipated but the nausea was much, much worse. Apparently being under a general doesn't affect everyone the same, but for me it was so much worse than any other part of the procedure. I also recommend people really listen and take it easy for several days so that you have time to recover and heal up -- I was pretty tired for the next few days and was in bed by 9 PM for a few days afterward.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stardate 62876.61 - Team GeoTrax!

Here is Loren with her GeoTrax train set we gave her for her birthday (and Grandma and Grandpop gave her the tunnel accessory).


Stardate 62876.53 - Loren's Birthday, Actual

On Loren's actual birthday she opened up her GeoTrax gifts (actually, I set them up the night before). Cheryl stopped for cupcakes on the way home from school and we had a little mini-party just for the family that night at home.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Stardate 62870.93 - Loren's Birthday Party

It was Loren's birthday this week, and we held a birthday party for Loren on Saturday the 8th at Moonsoup. Before the party, Loren practices her present opening skills when a gift from Nanna and Kracker arrived. The party was a big success with around 15 kids and 20 adults. Cheryl's parents and Grandmother came in to help out, as we needed to transport food and beverage to the location and brings gifts back home afterwards.

Moonsoup had a large playroom that the kids enjoyed running around in.

Denise and Greg were able to visit from Monroe, NY.

Loren really enjoyed blowing out the candles on her cake, and she enjoyed eating the icing off her piece even more!

After the party, Denise and Greg and Allison and Max came back to our place with Cheryl's parents and Grandmother. Allison especially liked the drill toy that Nanna and Kracker had sent for Loren!

It was a great success and we were very happy so many of Loren's friends were able to attend!