Category Archives: Travels

Five Month Radio Silence

From Family 2011

It seems I suddenly became a terrible blog administrator. I was doing fairly well for quite some time, only missing a month or two every once in a while, but then 2011 happened and it’s been five months since my last post (almost to the day!). I did do one little post on my personal blog in April, but that one wasn’t a very good one. So within the next couple of days I hope to have this one and my personal blog updated.

Going off our Family 2011 photo album, I can see that we’ve done quite a few things already this year. We’ve been to the tunnels of Crystal City, we went ice skating in Pentagon City, we’ve been to the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy hangar complex, and we enjoyed a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Haddad for Micah’s baptism. We all enjoyed our birthdays (they are all within the first four-and-a-half months of the year), Rochelle’s family had a wedding and a funeral (both of which she attended), and I may have finally decided on a career path (this is a big deal). Some friends of ours left the area, some came to visit, and we’ve made a few new ones. Overall, everyone has enjoyed good health, and we are doing well.

Oh, and I got to ride in a helicopter.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Despite the recently circulating rumors, I can read. In fact, I recently finished a book, and afterward decided it was time to catch up on the last eight months worth of magazines I had been letting pile up.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, the former being my favorite, and the latter having several practical elements that prevent me from being able to ignore it entirely. As a subscriber, upon the arrival of either, I would have it finished before the day’s end under normal circumstances, but with work being as stressful as it has been, I began piling them up back in August and hadn’t gotten around to reading them until this month.

For more about the book that I read, you’ll have to wait to read about it at my personal blog (that post is up now).

Rochelle

Rochelle just finished reading the Harry Potter series again. This is something she does regularly.

After finishing that, she began reading The Poisonwood Bible. It took until about the  halfway point before she really got into it, but she seems to be enjoying it quite thoroughly now.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2011

While many of you share our religious views, much of our family may not be familiar with our beliefs.

In an attempt to quickly and briefly address any questions, I will share our views on what I think are the most common differences between religions when it comes to baptism: how to do it and who should do it (at what age).

We believe in baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, as taught in the New Testament. We also believe that the ordinance should be performed by one holding the authority of the priesthood, that same priesthood that John the Baptist held (he being a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses).

Finally, we believe that young children, before they are accountable for their own actions, have no need for baptism since they are not yet in need of a remission of their sins. Yes, we believe that baptism is a necessary step in our journey to Heaven, but small children are innocent before the Lord. Therefore, only after they become accountable for their own sins, knowing and choosing their own actions, are they able to make the decision to be baptized.

Micah, having reached the age of accountability, decided that he wanted to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He made this decision knowing that it was not something we required of him and knowing that he could wait to make the decision later if he should so choose.

The photo above is just moments after coming out of the chilly water.

I have to tell you, I felt bad for him. That water was cold. Preparations had been made so that the water would be warm. They filled the baptismal font earlier that morning with nice, warm water. Before dunking him in the water, we had a small service in which we prayed, sang and listened to some remarks about baptism from my father. He smeared peanut butter on his face. The children loved it. Then we all went into the room where the font is located and were shocked to find that all of the water had drained!

So, with only a little water in the hot water heater’s tank, they began to fill the font again. Of course, rather than wait several hours to fill it full of warm water, we had to settle for a little hot water and mostly cool water. We didn’t even wait for it to fill to the optimal depth. Having served a mission for our church and having done a few baptisms before, I knew that I could get him under water no deeper than my knees. So we filled the font until just after my mother’s remarks (she spoke about the Holy Ghost, a gift we receive after baptism as part of our confirmation into the Church). Then we all went back in to the font room. The water was pretty cool. Micah shivered pretty hard. With just one good dunk though he was baptized.

Because the immersion under the water must be complete, people often have to be dunked more than once if any part of them fails to submerge. Micah only had to endure the biting cold water for one submersion though. He was glad.

In addition to his baptism, he has enjoyed seeing the museums with us, he enjoyed the ice skating, and he’s been doing well in school.

Sophie

From Family 2011

Whether she’s cracking her mother up with the angry mean face, getting an MRI, or hanging out with me after work, Sophie is the brightest star in our home. She can cheer anyone up with a hug, melt anyone’s heart with a smile, or make even the angriest parent crack a smile with her antics. Undeniably, she has the cutest toes in the house, and she gives the best hugs.

Obviously, with five months having gone by, a lot has happened to tell about, but I can’t possibly remember it all. I’m really terrible about keeping a journal (these blogs are the best I can do most of the time, and we all see how well that’s working out).

In February she turned three. She is very aware of how old she is, and she knows she’ll be turning four next. She tells people this from time to time. Also, she understands relative age fairly well, tagging anyone younger than her as being one or two years old, and anyone older as at least four or five. Just recently she informed me that I am older than her, estimating my age as being four, then (seeing that I am obviously more than just one year older than she is) changing her guess to five (with an “oops, silly me” giggle).

Every now and then Rochelle and I share short little blurbs about Sophie on Facebook. Here are a few from each of us (more recent ones come first):

Rochelle:

I was watching a movie with Sophie. Two people started kissing in the movie and she said, “Look at those two people kissing.”
I asked her how that made her feel and she said, “Huhuhu, jealous.”

Sophie: Don’t sing anymore. It’s my turn to sing.
Me: Okay, you sing it then.
Sophie: I don’t know how to sing this song!

Me: We’re going on a toad trip tomorrow.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me: Really.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me:Yes. Really.
Sophie with a wistful look in her eyes: Can you take me to see the lanterns?

Brian:

Sophie (playing by herself) – “I did it! I am AWESOME!”

Sophie (holding MY flashlight): “I’m going to play with it.”
Me: “Can I please have it back? It’s mine.”
Sophie: “No, it’s mine.”
Me: “No it’s not.”
Sophie: “I’m Sophie and I’m the lost princess. It’s mine.”
I took it back. She’s getting better at this.

Rochelle: Sophie, say Wild Thornberrys.
Sophie: Wild Thornbabies. Wild Thornbabies to the sky!

As you can tell, we thoroughly enjoy having her in our family. She can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Oh, and she’s in this video.

Also, her latest MRI looked clean again, so we won’t be going in for an MRI after three months like we had been. We get to wait six months instead.

Until Later

Despite five months worth of activity to report on, I wanted to keep this post short-ish to prevent you from taking one look and turning back out of fright. I promise I’ll try to be more regular than I have been so far this year. If you have anything you’d like to tell us, leave a comment or contact us using the contact information on the blog’s main page.

We love you all and hope you’re having as awesome a year as we are so far. Be sure to check out our Family 2011 photo album to see a few of the things we’ve seen thus far.

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Filed under Exciting, Travels

Really, Really Late

From Family 2010

I have AIDS. No, not THAT AIDS! I have Ambition Imbalance and Deficiency Syndrome. Sometimes I get a little overambitious, and other times I can’t muster enough ambition to even think about starting something. Often my ambition is killed off during the process of planning and anticipating an event.

For example, over two months ago I posted that we had some exciting things planned – and we did. And we did them. However, when it came time to do my favorite part – write about those events – my ambition was dead. I had planned on writing, I had anticipated writing, but when it came time to do it, I lacked the ambition to actually write about all the cool things we did.

So now, two months later, I’ll be scraping the bottom of my rusty memory bucket to attempt a portrayal of our exciting activities without leaving out the most important ingredient – the fun.

The first activity we had planned was the construction and use of a compressed air rocket launching system. The details of the build and our adventures launching the rockets can be found at my other blog in two parts. The first part details the building of the system and presents a few problems with it. The second part has some video of our launches, and includes solutions to most of the problems we encountered.

The cool thing about this system is that everything is reusable (no burning engines to replace for each flight) and the rockets can be made from common papers and things you have in your home already.

From Family 2010

Going out to launch rockets is a good excuse for a picnic.

In all, we uploaded five videos of the rocket launches ranging in length from ten seconds to a minute and a half each, plus two compilations – one lasting over two and a half minutes, the other being only forty five seconds. I suppose I could edit them into a single video for you, but I completely lack the ambition. So, instead I will take the time to list and link to each of them here.

Note that the first round of rocket launches were unsuccessful due to the rockets exploding. These launches were still fun though.

In addition to launching paper rockets, we took the kids camping finally. More about that under each child’s section.

The rest of the time since August has been spent doing nothing. Not really, but that sure simplifies the process of writing this post for you. I’d get input from Rochelle on what she wants to include in here, but it’s three thirty in the morning and I doubt she’d enjoy me waking her to ask what I should write about. If I don’t do this now, it won’t get done until next month.

Oh, and I’m not staying up late for fun – I’m on a night shift schedule this month. Hopefully, this should be the last round of night shifts for about nine months. I’m not holding my breath though.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Nothing. Still trying to tackle the ever growing pile of magazines that I subscribe to. My RAI (reading ambition index) is at a zero lately. I did manage to model a more modest dream home than the one I featured last time. Maybe I’ll make a video of this new one for next months post. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll actually start reading a book soon. There are so many that I want to read.

Rochelle

Rochelle has read or reread hundreds, maybe trillions of books since I last wrote, so we’ll leave this blank until next month when I will actually consult with her on what to put here.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2010

Micah has been struggling to come to terms with the fact that nearly everything Sophie does to annoy him she learned from him. I’m hoping he’s learning lessons that he’ll actually take and use from all of this.

Micah really enjoys the rocket launching, and he had a pretty good time on our camping trip. See for yourself:

From Family 2010

Really though, he had fun. He especially had fun when… well, I’ll get to that in a minute. It has more to do with Sophie than Micah.

Sophie

From Family 2010

Sophie also had a good time launching the rockets, and she was the one who insisted we take that cute picture of her and Rochelle above.

On the camping trip she was especially good and very cute (took lots of video – see the links below). She especially enjoyed trips to the camp restroom.

From Family 2010

We did have one minor incident on the trip though – Sophie burnt her hand while roasting hot dogs for dinner.

Funny story actually, she was really excited to eat the hot dog, and before we could properly instruct her on how to remove and eat the hot dog, she grabbed for it. The hot dog wasn’t what burned her though, it was the metal stick it had been cooking on. We had warned her that it would be hot, but she’s only two and these things are easy to forget. Actually, while she was still cooking the hot dog I decided to pull out my camera and take some video since everyone was doing such a good job and following directions so well. Just as I hit the record button, Sophie decided she couldn’t wait to eat any longer, and I got video of the whole thing. It’s the saddest camping video I’ve ever recorded.

Of course, when she dropped her stick it landed on Micah’s arm. While he tried to play it up for a bit of a bigger deal than it was, his burn was minor compared to Sophie’s. He looked like he got a light sunburn through a hole in a long sleeved shirt.

Sophie’s burn, though, was a pretty serious light burn. It wasn’t anything we had to go to the hospital for, but it hurt bad and took nearly a week to fully heal. After a little while she recognized it for the cool battle scar that it was.

From Family 2010

She had a great time climbing around and talking about Toy Story.

From Family 2010

Here are the links to the videos I took at the camping trip:

Finally, make sure you check out all of the new photos on this year’s family web album.

Until Later

Obviously, that’s not everything we’ve done for the last two months, but it’s more than enough update for you, I’m sure. If you’ve been counting months, you know that we should have taken Sophie in for an MRI recently. It didn’t happen yet, but we’re scheduling it this week (the referrals were just approved at the end of last week). As soon as we know what the results are, we’ll post something on this blog (just a quick update).

I can’t shake the feeling that there are big, fun things I’ve left out. Such is the nature of really, really late blog posting. I’ll be sure to post something next month. Thank you for all of your love and support. We love all of you, our dear family, friends and random Internet citizens.

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Filed under Exciting, Travels, Vacation

Together Again

From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

If I were to ask you what the ugliest car on the road was, what would you choose? Here, let’s do a poll:

I picked a random coworker (a female) and without hesitation she replied, “The Cube.”

Nissan Cube

I have to agree.

So for Rochelle’s trip down to Mississippi, we reserved a compact four-door car, but little did we know the place we were renting from didn’t actually have any cars to rent. They are a little Avis satellite location nestled into the corner of a Sears Auto Center store. They get their cars from… elsewhere. So, we show up and the lady at the counter suddenly realizes that she had no idea what vehicle she could give us. She called up her… other location and asked what they had in the compact four-door category. Nothing. Guess what Rochelle got to drive down to Mississippi? That’s right, the ugliest darn car on the road.

The funniest part about this is that we had just seen a Cube on the road a couple days earlier and both of us had commented unanimously that it is the ugliest car on the road. I hope Rochelle enjoyed showing it off to her family.

Funny thing is, the interior is just as ugly, gaudy and annoying as the exterior. I wish I didn’t know that, but I do.

While Rochelle and the kids were gone I had some time to myself, which usually drives me mad. Since I was finishing up a Network + class the first few days of their trip, I took the opportunity to play with our wireless router since I’d have time to get it working again before it affected anyone but me. It needed a few adjustments, but I had long since forgotten the administrator password. For a fun read about how I figured it all out and got it tuned up, you’ll have to check my personal blog. Funny thing about the whole experience is that I don’t understand a lick of Swedish.

Books We are Reading

Brian

I just managed to get my Network+ Certification, which involved lots of boring text to read. I’m preparing to take another big, required test for work (two, actually, but one doesn’t require any knowledge), so all recreational reading activities are on hold.

Rochelle

Rochelle is busy retelling her life story to a close friend on the phone, so I’m not going to bother asking what she’s reading right now. Last I saw she was reading something on her nook, meaning she must have finally finished that Anne series of books. I do know that, since I have been working twelve hour shifts lately and haven’t been able to read to Micah for a while, she has started reading that “Series of Unfortunate Events” book to Micah (the first one, obviously – or at least, I hope).

Next month I’ll cover more of what she’s read that’s interesting. For a moment I thought she was going to be done, but she just launched into another long episode that is going to last longer than I want to be awake. I’m glad she has people to talk to, because if she were talking to me (which would be welcome most of the time) I’d never get this done.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

And now, for Micah’s segment:

There’s so much to write!

Sophie, Mom and I drove to Mississippi. So while Sophie was reading a book, I played my Didj (1). We finally came to Mississippi. It was a BLAST!!! My mom’s cousin Sarah played spy with me. Do you know why we played spy? Because my almost-aunt Emily (2) was putting on extra makeup (3). If you really know me call me S. A. M. (3) I got to touch clay mixed with sand. We went to a baby shower, and a birthday. We went to Ruby Tuesdays. We saw my two cousins. Grandma came with us! (4) We went home. Have a good summer, folks!

  1. The Didj is a little handheld game system made by Leapfrog.
  2. Almost-aunt because Rochelle’s mother has plans to marry Emily’s father.
  3. I don’t get it either.
  4. Rochelle’s mother accompanied them back home to Maryland, then she took a military hop flight back to Mississippi (she’s in the Army National Guard).

Lately I’ve been at work every time he’s written these things and he’s gone to bed before I could review them with him. Our next lesson is going to be on overusing the exclamation point and paragraph formation.

Sophie

From Stuff That Happened: 2010 version

A few days before Rochelle and the kids went to Mississippi for the weekend, Sophie was supposed to be taking a nap one afternoon when it was discovered that she had stripped herself of all clothing, removed her diaper, and relieved her bladder on the carpet, creating a fun little puddle to stomp around in and poke at. I thought it was funny, Rochelle did not. The best part was, when I went to get the little girl dressed, I couldn’t find the clothes she had removed from her body. She was on the ground waiting for me to dress her and I asked her where her clothes were. She pointed to the closet and said, “Right there.” Indeed they were put away rather neatly inside her closet, packed into a drawer of her dresser. I was impressed. So was Rochelle.

More recently Sophie has become even more cute. She will now randomly announce, “I have a superpower.” When asked what the superpower is, she responds, “good.” She also tenderly puts her baby down for a nap. She tucks the doll into her big girl bed, turns on the CD player for the baby, and puts up the gate in the doorway so the baby can’t get out (well, she leans the gate in place, but does an excellent job). I’m telling you, every moment I spend away from this little girl is a moment I could have been witnessing something cuter than anything anyone else has ever seen.

She is also beginning to take more of an interest in potty training. She will now request a diaper change at the proper time (after doing her business, unfortunately). Sometimes she even asks to go on the toilet. If we don’t get to her the very instant she wants to go, she removes all of her clothes (not just her pants and diaper), climbs up on the toilet, and does her thing. Unfortunately she only does it for number one, not the other one. She did, however, hand Rochelle a nice, full, stinky diaper full of number two the other day. Luckily none of the poo strayed from the diaper.

Until Later

Last month was interesting. Micah, Rochelle and I all survived an awful 48 hour stomach bug that made us throw up like a cement truck laying the foundation for a new Super Wal-Mart. It was no fun. So, we shared it with our good friend on the day before her birthday (sorry about that again). Sophie somehow managed to dodge that illness, thankfully.

Tomorrow we’re going back to the pool. I’ll try to remember to take more photos this month. You’ll notice that this month all of the photos come from Rochelle’s album. A big thanks to her for doing something interesting enough to photograph, otherwise I wouldn’t have had any good photos for you.

Have a wonderful Summer month, enjoy life, and we’ll see you next month. Not physically, unfortunately, but we’ll see you nonetheless. On here, the blog. Just making sure. Alright, later.

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Filed under Milestones, Normal Life, Travels

Home Again

From Family 2010

This last month has been a lot of fun. Sophie has been recovering superbly from her surgery, and her excitement, energy, laughter and happiness have contributed significantly to the spirit in our home.

Last week we flew out and spent a week with my parents in Arizona. They also enjoyed her random giggles, overpowering cuteness, and comical chatter. I know, you’re jealous. It’s OK. You should be. She’s cute. As a consolation prize for taking the time to read this post, I’ve added two super-cute videos of her on our YouTube channel.

Now, there are only six photos in it for now (and most of the good ones are embedded here), but I’ve started a new family album for the year 2010. I figure that some of you may be using dial-up, and a page with over 100 photos probably loads too slowly to be of use to you. So, I will do a new album every year to prevent them from getting so large.

How the Kids Are

Micah

I just have to say, Micah actually started a sentence like this today: “I can’t believe you’re forcing me to…” Now, it doesn’t matter what followed (the fact is, he was being asked to do something extremely lenient and easy, with a follow-up option to do something he really wanted to do). I just can’t believe (to use his words) that he’s talking that way to his mother.

In other Micah news, his jumping on our couch has finally paid off, and the whole thing collapsed yesterday. I managed to mash it back together for now, and once I’m feeling a bit better I’m going to wrap the broken areas up with a healthy dose of duct tape to hold it together until tax return season buys us some new furniture. We kept telling him that if he wasn’t gentle with the couch it would break one day. He must not have believed us, because when he saw that it broke, his face was hilarious. I wish I had the camera out then.

Micah dropped his jaw two times yesterday, in fact.  Later that evening he was in a bit of trouble and was being very rude (angry faces and all) to his mother and father. I carried the book we are reading at night into his room hoping his attitude had changed so I could read to him, but I was met by an angry troll face curled up in the corner of his room. So, I turned around to leave. He yelled something at me (it seems he wanted to talk about it), and it came up that he feels like his memory isn’t good enough to remember the few simple things we ask of him every day. So, I reached into his bookshelf and pulled out one of his favorite new books – a Pokemon reference book with over two hundred different pokemon in it. He’s got almost the whole thing memorized. I held it up and said, “I’ll bet you can tell me which Pokemon is number 150 in this book, but you’re telling me your memory isn’t very good?”

His eyes nearly fell out of his head and his jaw was jammed open for a moment. He was stunned into silence. Victory! I feel bad, because I used to use the same “I forget – my memory isn’t very good” argument with my parents, and I don’t remember them ever winning such a stunningly brilliant victory against me in that department. The moment was almost too perfect, and perhaps his feelings of defeat in the memory department are the driving force behind his rebellious statement this morning (“I can’t believe you’re forcing me to…”).

Either way, he seems to have realized the error of his ways from the two incidents yesterday, and it showed in his behavior a bit today. When he learns a lesson, he learns it well.

In completely unrelated news, it turns out Micah has a photographic curse. I just can’t get good photos of him. I try, I really do. He and Sophie could be right next to each other, doing exactly the same thing, and the photo of Sophie will invariably come out hundreds of times better than the photo of Micah.

Case in point: Take a second to scroll up to the top photo of Sophie playing on the rope web. Good, now look at this photo of Micah on the exact same web, from the same vantage point, at the exact same moment in the exact same lighting (no shadow caused the problem, I promise).

From Family 2010

I promise I didn’t alter either image in Photoshop or any other image editing software. Both photos were uploaded directly from the camera. It’s sad, isn’t it? I take a lot of photos of Micah, but as soon as he realizes he’s in the lens, he goes bonkers, and even if I get a decently lit and framed photo of him, I can’t post it. Either he’s blurred from moving too fast while going crazy, or his face is a grotesque mutation of the truth. So, from now on I’ll just post the photos of him that I get, even though I rarely get anything that I’m happy with for him.

Sophie

Sophie is cute. She has begun a real rambling streak, and we all love it. It can happen during play, during meal times, or whenever else she feels like it. She just starts “talking.” It sounds like talking, but it’s the most varied, random collection of fun noises and sounds that I’ve ever heard. It closely resembles what I once heard from a child (who is her age, but this was a year ago or so) who listened to talk radio with her mother all day. The baby would imitate the talk radio, and it was really funny. Sophie’s sounds area a little more varied than the noises that little baby could make, and Sophie really seems to know what she’s saying.

Of course, she’s also turned into a magnificent communicator. She tries hard to assemble whole sentences and a lot of her more recent attempts are much longer than the usual, “I like (insert something here).”

She’s more curious than ever before, thinking that there’s something interesting everywhere she can’t see, reach or be. She follows instructions really well, and understands a lot better than we thought she could.

I must say, after her brain surgery it was like watching a flower bloom. The child we thought we had opened up before our eyes and became something much more spectacular and beautiful. We are all happy for her and next month you can look forward to news about her future after the surgery as we are going to be meeting with her surgeon at the end of the month to discuss those things. For now, know that the biopsy did come back, but it was frustratingly inconclusive, so consider no news good news until we have something more definite.

From Family 2010

Until Later

On my other blog I wrote a single review for the two awesome movies we saw out in Arizona. The post is short, so if you’ve got a few more minutes, I’d encourage you to take a look.

I don’t want to overdo it, but I am too excited about it not to mention it – I’ve decided to reformat the interior and exterior design of my book, and the changes are making me feel all giddy inside (which is unusual for me). The redesign is meant to give the whole book a much more professional feel. I’m really feeling quite proud of the outcome, but the changes won’t show up in the product for a while. In the mean time the book is no longer for sale. The first edition was purchased zero times, so once I get the second edition up I’m hoping to market it a little to see where it goes. And if you own a bookstore (wink wink, hint hint) I might be possibly shipping you a couple of copies someday to see if they sell. We’ll talk more about that later though. 😉

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Filed under Celebrations, Travels, Vacation

Trip to NYC

From NYC

First of all, allow me to apologize for posting so late. When we originally began posting here, I intended on posting every month around the 15th. Nearly two weeks have passed since then, but if we hadn’t waited to post you would have had to wait more than a week for these fun pictures (click the link to see all four pictures we took in NYC).

I’m adding a new feature to this site: Section Headers!

The Trip to NYC

As you can see, we went to New York City on Friday to visit my brother, Eric. He had been living up in Boston for a while, but now he is moving out west to California. Since California is a lot further away than Boston we decided to try and meet up before he leaves, halfway between Boston and the D.C. area where we are living – New York.

A quick side note:

Meet Karen.

Meet Karen.

For any of you who aren’t aware, before coming back east from Arizona (see our posts related to our grand adventure across the US) we purchased a Garmin Nüvi GPS unit. We didn’t realize it at the time, but that GPS unit would soon become a fifth member of our family. For much of the trip out here we played around with the different voices it can use to talk to us and we finally settled on a nice sounding woman from Australia named Karen. Her Australian English is nice on the ears and she is much more pleasant than the Arabic woman who sounded like she was mad at me all the time. So, now that you know our newest family member, Karen, I’ll continue with the story.

We left around eight in the morning on Friday after plotting a course with Karen using an address Eric provided us in downtown Manhattan. Karen was thinking we only had about a two or three and a half hour drive.

Especially headed into New York, we knew that traffic would be an issue, but Karen gets traffic updates via FM radio transmissions as we approach cities and she adjusts our course to avoid really bad jams. Around 11:30 our she was telling us we would arrive at our destination in an hour, but suddenly her cool, Australian voice chimed, “Severe traffic ahead. Recalculating.” At that point we knew she had finished downloading the traffic information for where we were headed.

I always like hearing that she is re-plotting a course that won’t land us in a long traffic jam, and she usually picks routes that don’t add too much to our travel time (she only recalculates when the traffic delay is longer than the workaround). She took a long time recalculating though.

Finally, several minutes later, she finished her calculations. The new arrival time had changed from 12:30 to 5:30 PM! Checking the map, she revealed a new course that took us nearly two hours north of NY City (we were approaching from the south, obviously), then we would be hooking back down to come in from the north. Since we had planned on leaving New York by six in the evening, the new arrival time was unacceptable.

Watching Karen react to NYC traffic was like watching a bloodhound track a skunk. When it got close enough to realize what it was smelling, it freaked out and looked for a way to get there without getting too close to the business end.

We negotiated with Karen for a while, finally deciding to tell her it was OK to use toll roads. Once she had that option, she found us a route that let us arrive around 2:30.

From NYC

Cruising NYC

Once we arrived, we met up with Eric and his girlfriend, Lindsey, and went to a little Chinese place for a late lunch. Then, with a couple more hours before we wanted to leave, we wandered around a while looking for the Nintendo World Store. We finally found it and it was awesome (especially since just about every one of us loves Nintendo in one way or another).

They had a really cool museum showcasing just about every major product and prototype Nintendo has ever unveiled (OK, maybe not EVERY major one), including an early prototype of the original Nintendo Entertainment Center (NES).

Sophie LOVES Mario (not as much as Tinkerbell though) and enjoyed walking around pointing at all of the Mario dolls, shirts and games saying, “Mario.”

As we walked around it rained a little, but Sophie really enjoyed it, laughing and squealing every time a drop hit her face. Micah just wanted to splash in all of the puddles, but his Uncle Eric came up with the fun idea of making it a game. Depending on the size of the puddle, Eric would give Micah points for jumping OVER the puddle, and take points away for getting IN the puddle. It worked perfectly.

Our meandering around took us through Times Square (the first picture above) and the Rockefeller Center. When we walked past the area where the Today Show is filmed, Micah exclaimed, “The Today Show!?! I’m in HEAVEN!”

Back in California Micah and Rochelle used to watch the Today Show on occasion while I was at work, but it’s been months. Recently, though, Rochelle asked Micah if would like to go to New York, and his first thought was voiced in his response: “Yeah, because I want to be on the Today Show!” Unfortunately, they weren’t filming when we walked by.

We ended up leaving for home a little later than we had planned, but the trip was a lot of fun. We all enjoyed Eric and Lindsey spending time with us and we look forward to visiting New York again in the future. Next time we’ll try to have more time to really look around though.

Office Picnic

Saturday, as if Friday wasn’t a big enough day, we had a big work get-together picnic thing for our families to meet. There was a little kiddie pool and playground that Sophie and Micah enjoyed thoroughly, and the weather was pretty good (though a storm system was coming and hit pretty hard last night).

Sophie really liked playing on the playground equipment – she loved going down the slide all by herself (it was her first time doing it without a lap to sit in).

How the Kids Are

Micah

Micah goes back to school tomorrow in the first grade. He is still obsessed with Pokémon and rarely talks about anything else, so there isn’t a whole lot to report about him. If you ever want to get an earful of Pokémon, just give us a call and ask for Micah.

Sophie

Sophie is getting cuter, smarter and bigger every day. Here’s a cell phone video of an old trick we had been trying to get on camera for a while:

These days her biggest efforts have been in vocabulary. She really wants to sound just like us. The most recent thing we noticed has to do with when we give her a choice. We’ll tell her, “you can have apple juice or milk. Which one do you want?” and she will really think about it, looking around and saying, “hummmmm…” Of course I think everything she does is super cute, but it’s not just me. She’s cute.

Oh, and she says, “mine,” now. A lot. She doesn’t do it to everything, but ocasionally she’ll grab something and say, “mine!” Most of the time it really is hers, so she even seems to understand the concept.

Also, now that she is a year and a half old, she goes all by herself to the nursery at church. The first time we left her in there alone for the full two hours I worried a little that she would cry. The nursery leaders reported that she didn’t cry even once. She loves it and has a great time. When we pick her up she’s excited to see us, but dropping her off is easy and she doesn’t even ask for us while she’s there. She plays nicely with the other kids and loves the toys they have. I’m very proud of how well she handles nursery – she is the only kid her age that doesn’t cry at all in there.

I’ll wrap up by reminescing about Sophie’s ever growing Tinkerbell obsession. She loves and watches frequenly the Tinkerbell movie and we recently puchased some new Tinkerbell shoes for her (visible in the photo of us at Nintendo World). The shoes were a stroke of golden luck – she loves shoes and she loves Tinkerbell. It’s perfect.

There is just one more thing I guess I should tell you. Sophie must be in pants or have something covering her diaper at all times now days. We used to let her run around the house in her diaper alone, but then she started removing it. That’s right, she takes her own diaper off. Not just when it’s full either, sometimes it’s clean, she just doesn’t want it on any more.

Until Later

So, again, I appologize to all of you who faithfully checked back recently expecting an update. I was late and I’m sorry. I hope this long entry has been enough to make up for the lost time. With any luck, you’ll see an update around the middle of next month, even though it’s only a few weeks away.

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