Tag Archives: visits

And That’s a Wrap

From Family 2011

I’ve gone more than seven months without blogging here. Gee, you’d think life has been stressful or something…

Gladly, the stress in our home has been mostly distributed among the adults. Micah and Sophie are happily unaware of the majority of our family stress, although I’m sure they feel it from time to time, especially on days when Rochelle and I are not at our best.

Regrettably (and gladly, I suppose), we are aware that a huge source of unnecessary stress in our home comes from clutter, disorder and excess physical belongings. They distract from our spiritual needs, they cloud our thinking, and they impart their chaos to our thoughts. I’ve been aware of this growing problem for many years now, but only recently has it become so acute that I began contriving a solution and countermeasures.

As long as I can remember I’ve had a fondness for simplicity, a longing for a concise collection of belongings that could be easily transported, sorted and organized. Of course I haven’t always lived that way very well. I tend to hang on to things that I may need one day. Just in case. I love to be prepared, but preparedness isn’t about excess, it’s about necessary necessities.

I remember with great fondness my mission time in Mexico and my time living in small spaces as a student at SCAD. Moving from place to place required no more than a couple of hours to pack, and most (if not all) of my belongings could be carried by me alone. I sorely miss that mobility, and now my goal is to get my entire family into a position where we know what we own, why we own it, and how each item of our belongings is essential to our goals and priorities.

This will be a slow process, and one that I hope to share with you along the way.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend a book that I read recently called “Simplify” by Joshua Becker. I believe it is for Kindle only, but it is inexpensive and can be read from any Kindle reading application, even in a Web Interface that Amazon provides.

If you do not wish to pay for the book, you should still check out Becker’s website. Most of the ideas in his book are outlined in ample detail in his many blog posts there. I should warn you that I find his tone regarding simplification to be a tad overzealous at times, often coming off as a bit preachy. Rochelle didn’t feel preached at when she read Simplify, but I did in a couple of places. So if you’re not one to be preached at, perhaps just following our adventures here with my sporadic blog posts will be sufficient.

Although, in my excitement I can’t promise I won’t preach at you either. Simplification is something that I believe we should all strive for.

That is our great endeavor this year. It isn’t a new year’s resolution, but it is a change in our home that began with the new year.

The rest of our family news will be covered in greater detail below, but suffice it to say that we’ve experienced a wonderful close to 2011, and we are all looking forward to 2012.

In the latter half of 2011:

  • Micah started at a new school.
  • Sophie saw a neuro-ophthalmologist.
  • We flew out to visit my parents in Arizona.
  • Rochelle and I got new shoes.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Hurray! I’m reading again. My main Christmas gift this year was a new Kindle Touch. Since I got my Kindle, I’ve actually read several books. Most of them have been small, free books (just to get my reading muscles warmed back up after such a long period of minimal use), but I did read The Hunger Games, book one. I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it was one of my favorites. The story was excellent, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters, and the first person perspective paired with the present tense writing style didn’t agree with me. I think I’ll enjoy the movie, and I plan on reading the next book in the trilogy soon.

Currently, I am actually attempting to finish nine books that I’ve started in the last year. The one I started most recently on my Kindle is The Frog Princess. I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone except the most curious. It’s not horrible, but I’m only a third of the way through and I am going to have to force myself to finish it. I want to finish it, but it’s not the best writing for me.

If you really want to keep up with my reading, I log all of my progress on books I am currently reading, rate and review books I’ve read, and I even keep track of books I intend to read at a site called Goodreads. Here’s the link to my profile page there: http://www.goodreads.com/brianhaddad

Rochelle

Rochelle has always read a ton. She is currently knee deep in her twelfth read-through of the Harry Potter series. I think she’s on book 5 or somewhere thereabouts. I lose track of how many times she’s read them and which book she is on.

For Christmas she got all 8 of the Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray. We’ve been watching them since we got back home from our little vacation, and so far we’re halfway through the sixth movie. I haven’t read the books, so I’m trying to enjoy the movies just as they are, but I can’t help but notice inconsistencies in the characters and holes in the plots – all of which Rochelle assures me is the result of the movies being inaccurate. I plan to read the Harry Potter series once the ebooks are released later this year.

Rochelle is also on Goodreads, and she too keeps track of books she liked, books she plans to read, and sometimes even books that she is currently reading (unless she is reading something that she’s read before). You can visit her profile there at: http://www.goodreads.com/rochellehaddad

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2011

This year Micah started going to a new school. For his first two years here in Maryland he attended a school just outside of the military base where we live. The school was mediocre at best, often causing more problems than it solved with new policies and rules.

By the end of his second grade year there, Rochelle had nearly reached the limits of her patience dealing with the school, and to her great delight a new public charter school was granted permission to operate on  base.

Unfortunately, the new school, called Imagine Andrews, does not yet have a dedicated, official school building (they are imagining they have a school building). For this year they are stationed in a run-down, hastily remodeled maintenance building at the edge of one of the base golf courses. By next school year they hope to complete construction on an actual school building, complete with a much needed cafeteria, gymnasium, playground and additional classroom space.

The curriculum seems to be challenging Micah so far, which is good. There are several problems, since it is a new school being run by a new faculty in cramped conditions, but we are doing our best to remain positive and supportive of their efforts.

Micah, along with the rest of us, was excited to go back to Arizona to visit his Grandma and Grandpa Haddad. Amazingly, neither of our children showed any concern that Santa wouldn’t be able to find them in a different home.

Micah came home with plenty of cool gifts, including some fun games and projects, Lego sets, spy gear, and some books. He doesn’t know it yet, but his toy collection is going to be drastically reduced under our new policy of simplification, and we are going to help him ensure that his toys are limited to the most versatile, fun toys that he can find. Of course, we aren’t going to be totally oppressive with this, but it will be good for him to be discerning and thoughtful about what to keep and what to get rid of. I learned a lot as a child when my parents would make me dump my toy collection on the ground and think hard about what to keep. I’m hoping he’ll remember the activity with the same fondness that I do now.

Sophie

From Family 2011

Sophie is doing especially well. Every day she shows us new ways that she is smarter than we previously suspected, and she is developing an awesome sense of humor, along with a sharp attitude.

As mentioned above, she did have to see a neuro-ophthalmologist. It started when her last MRI in November generated some concern. We do not yet have any real reason to worry, but there appears to be some thickening in an area that her doctors are sure is merely scar tissue. It is not unheard of for scar tissue to thicken a little, even a few years after surgery. However, there is a possibility that this thickening could be a type of tumor growth.

Some of you have been lucky enough to see Sophie recently, and if you’ve seen her recently it’s likely she’s shown you her “eye trick.” She recently learned that she can roll her eyes up and point them in two different vertical directions. When she showed her doctors, they decided to send her to a specialist (the neuro-ophthalmologist) to see if the anomaly could be related to a new tumor growth.

With this new specialist, Dr. Avery, Sophie was a little angel. He was particularly impressed with her every step of the way through the appointment. He assessed her vision with one of the most in-depth eye exams I’ve ever seen, always amazed at her intelligence, cooperation and maturity. He couldn’t stop raving about how well she was doing.

Near the end of the examination he informed us that she would need eye drops to dilate her pupils. He said that it would “S-T-I-N-G a little” and that there was usually a lot of “S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G” with other children. Rochelle and I looked at each other, then told him that he didn’t need to spell it out with her. We explained to Sophie that Dr. Avery was going to put some drops in her eyes that would sting and hurt a little, but that it would go away fast.

I had her rest her head in my lap and helped the doctor hold her head still while he applied the drops. She barely budged, and didn’t complain even a little. Dr. Avery’s amazement was complete. He couldn’t recall precisely the last time he had seen such a cooperative, brave patient.

In the end, Dr. Avery concluded that the eye issue is a result of the original tumor and swelling that she had two years ago, though there was no visible sign that it was a direct result of the swelling (apparently you can see that sort of damage quite clearly even years later on the back of the eye). He was certain that there was no evidence that this eye problem was a sign of any new tumor growth, which came as a great relief to us all.

Sophie especially loved the trip out to Arizona, and had been talking about seeing her uncles, aunt, cousins and grandparents for several weeks beforehand.

For Christmas she also got some craft items, some books, a few toys and her favorite: a pink Nintendo DSi. She may not look terribly excited in the photo above, but she plays it nearly every day, and has a particular fondness for a certain princess game.

Sophie’s next MRI is in February (on Valentine’s day) and we will likely post an update after we get the results.

Until Later

Especially now that we have something specific to write about, and since its process will help me feel more organized about life in general, I expect to be a little better about blogging. But alas I’ve never successfully promised to be better about blogging, and I’m not going to make any promises!

I trust that you’ve learned to be satisfied with my ineptitude at blogging, and I should likewise be more forgiving with myself.

It is our deepest and greatest hope that all of you have transitioned safely and happily into 2012. We look forward to making sure we blog at least once this year, and we also look forward to your emails, Facebook posts, phone calls, text messages and old-fashioned paper mail.

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Filed under Celebrations, Exciting, Holidays, Sophie PMA, Vacation

Five Days Late

From Cell Photos 2010

Wow, where did the last week go? On the 13th I remember thinking, “I’m going to write up that post for the family site,” and it didn’t happen. Then one thing led to another thing and here I am posting five days later than I ever wanted to. While not an official rule, I always hope to have something posted for you by the 15th of every month. So, here is an underwhelming and unforgivably late collection of goings on from the Haddad family.

Yes, we’ve engaged in various activities of varying levels of excitement, but we have, on every single occasion, neglected to bring out the camera and record anything for you to see. I know, we’ve failed you, and I also know you don’t really care. It seems you can’t make up your mind. I understand your frustration, even if it is only the frustration that I feel, superimposed unwittingly upon you in the wildly distorted version of the world that lives safely confined to my head.

For any of you who are still wondering, I am no longer working the night shift. This is a good thing. As of a few weeks ago, I am working days again. There has been much rejoicing. Micah’s final day of school was last Wednesday, Sophie’s 6 month MRI was a couple of weeks before Micah’s last day of school, and the local pool is open so Rochelle and the kids have been visiting it with much frequency. So, with more details on all of that, let’s get into the individual sections.

Books We are Reading

Brian

I haven’t read any books in so long, it’s starting to eat at me. How can I call myself an intelligent person if I can’t even make time to read? I’ll get there, I promise myself. I was doing so well for a while, then everything fell apart. When I finally pick a book back up with the intention of finishing it, I’ll let you know.

Rochelle

She recently reread Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, which she just finished today. I remember we purchased the entire set of Anne books a while back, and, though I haven’t been counting, I’m pretty sure she’s read every book in the series at least fifty times since we bought the set two years ago. She really loves those books.

Tonight, before going to sleep, she will have to read, which means she’ll be picking out a new book. This usually involves several long moments of agony, in which she wishes she could simultaneously read several books that she wants to read equally, all while longing that her book collection were vastly larger. She’ll stand for what feels like hours in front of the bookshelf, staring at its contents, and if she can’t find anything there she’ll turn on her Nook and browse through the many books she’s downloaded onto the device, or peruse through the online selection, carefully pondering what she might purchase with her monthly book budget. In the end, if she isn’t feeling terribly adventurous, she’ll make her choice from among a very narrow set of books that she loves because she’s read them a hundred times or more.

Never mind, she’s not done with the Anne series. She’s on Anne of Windy Poplars. She’s reading it right now, as I type.

How the Kids Are

Micah

I haven’t taken any photos of Micah recently, and I would go in and take one of him sleeping right now if it weren’t for two potential problems. First, he’s been staying up incredibly late these days. So, I don’t want to barge in there with my flash blazing if he is still awake or just falling asleep. Secondly, he has been very hot in his room, so he hasn’t been covering himself very modestly. Sure, he’s got underwear on, but you don’t need to see it. And if he’s asleep, and I take a photo of him, you’ll probably wind up seeing some tighty whities. I’ll get photos of him up for next month. Promise.

Now, his self written content. For next month, I’m going to try to get him to write a little bit more. Also, I didn’t get a chance to go over this with him before writing up this post, so I’m just leaving all the errors in there (though I’m changing the letters that look like other letters to reflect the intended letters).

Almost everyday my family goes to the pool. We just went to the shallow part and of coarse, we went to the deep end. (1) Then at school, we had a picnic. And we had the last day of school with a pizza party. And we had feild day. (2) Have a great sumer folks!

  1. Just to shine a little light on why this is significant to him – he’s developed a borderline phobia of deep water. I remember him carelessly splashing around in deep water with those floaty things on just a couple of years ago, but something happened since then. Now, when we take him into deeper water, he literally freaks out – getting very tense, clinging on to anything he can as though letting go will mean instant death, and he becomes incapable of reasoning. This is often accompanied by sobbing and screaming bloody murder. Last time we went to the pool together, just yesterday, I worked with him for over an hour (at my own expense, since I was the only one not wearing sunscreen) and got him to calm down enough to be able to reason with him a bit. Though he remained very nervous, I managed to get him out to the deep end without him clinging violently to me, and once he stopped screaming hysterically, he even called out to his mother to show her how brave he was being. However, I had to keep at least one hand firmly gripping him at all times, preferably two. Every time I changed my hand configuration I explained very clearly what I was going to do in a calm, loving voice, I went over how I was going to do it several times, and I made sure he was ok with it. Then, when I actually executed the change, he lost it and it took many minutes to get him to stop screaming. Hopefully, if I can work with him with any regularity, we can prevent him from developing a real phobia that carries over to adulthood. I certainly identify with his feelings though, because, as many of you know, I am currently dealing with a phobia of needles that I developed as a child.
  2. The picnic, pizza party and field day didn’t happen in that order. I didn’t get all the details on the field day, but I think it was just a big outdoor sporting extravaganza at the school. It wasn’t a field trip (which, to me, would have been much more exciting). Now that I think about it, I think they had their field day, then the picnic, then the pizza party. Not that it matters, of course.

Like I said, I want Micah to write a little more for next month, so if you have any inspiring questions for him to write about, ask away in the comments. He may complain about having to write more, but he loves the attention, and he doesn’t have any school work to worry about, so it’s no big deal, right?

Sophie

From Cell Photos 2010

First off, Sophie had her six month MRI on Wednesday, the second day of June. She went down fine for the scan, but woke up afterward a little early due to a coughing fit. She had been somewhat congested, which was a concern with putting her under for the scan, but the doctors decided it was safe. She was safe, but the mucous had collected a bit in her throat, causing her body to want to eject it, inducing a coughing fit. She was still very groggy, and we had to endure a very cranky little girl for over an hour before she was able to show the nurses that she could keep fluids down and they let us go home.

The following Friday, I called to see what her scans looked like. They looked great. Thank goodness.

Other than that, she’s been very healthy and very happy. She enjoys going to the pool, and she has become a lot more vocal and expressive over the last month or so. Most recently, she has decided that she doesn’t want to go to bed on time. This is fine with us, as long as she plays quietly in her room. We put the gate up, sealing her inside, and for the first few days she would stand at the gate and cry for a few minutes until deciding that we weren’t coming. At that point, she would go play with toys. She would often take one particular toy that makes music into her bed with her and fall asleep listening to it. She’s very sweet.

The last couple of nights have been different though, with her deciding that she’d rather scream and cry than play and get in bed. Tonight I stood outside her door for several minutes listening to her cry like a mad woman before she started pitifully calling out, “Guys, come here right now. I’m crying. Pweeeeeeese.” Her voice was sobbing and whiny. It was really cute to me. Eventually, these calls turned into, “I need help. Please, I need help!” It’s quite entertaining. With it being Father’s Day and all, I decided to go in and comfort her for a minute. I held her, walked around her room for a minute, then sat by her bed until she fell asleep (which didn’t take long at all because she was really tired). That’s when I snapped the photo above. She always goes to sleep with her bear, her cat, and her Elmo doll. She is a very sweet little girl.

The other day we got some Summer entertainment equipment. The adults got roller blades and the kids got skates. We all have or purchased helmets too. Sophie’s skates are the type that snap on over the shoes. She loves looking at them and wearing them (they have Tinkerbell all over them), but not skating in them. She enjoys watching us skate, but she gets very nervous when we put her down on the ground with them on. I figure she’ll feel more confident after watching us get better at it for a while. I remember being very good at roller blading at one time, but now every time I strap them on I feel like I’m going to fall on my rump the whole time. It’s frightening.

Oh yeah, the only new video I’ve posted recently is of Sophie making silly faces. It’s fun, but it was taken on Rochelle’s old camera phone, so the quality isn’t great. Next time we go skating I’ll have to take some photos and video. And I’ll try to capture us doing other interesting things as well. No promises though, we’re still very busy with other life stuff.

Until Later

I know you don’t mind the post being late, but I am striving to post regularly enough that you can always come around the middle of the month and see the latest news. This month, I apologize for posting late, and I will do better next month.

Rochelle is taking the kids to see her family in Mississippi this next week, so we should have news and pictures from that trip to post next month. I would love to join them on the trip, but there is no way I can take any time off work right now. Plus, even if I could get away, it’s better for me to save the time off for later in the year when the holidays start coming.

We love all of you, and want to wish every father in our family a happy Father’s Day today (even though most of you are probably reading this after Father’s Day).

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Filed under Normal Life, Sophie PMA, Unexciting

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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