Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn in Grand Rapids = summer days and giant pumpkins


Today was a gorgeous day, temperature in the 70s, not a cloud in the sky... just what you would expect for fall. I guess someone didn't see their shadow.

The ladies and I went to Meijer Garden this morning and had a lovely picnic lunch and then walked to their Replica Farmhouse exhibit to see the giant pumpkins that had been set out. There isn't that much to tell (I can hear the collective "whew," I know you only come for the pictures). Basically we posed Lyla next to pumpkins that were almost the same size as her and watched with enjoyment to see her reactions. We ended up getting a bunch of great photos in the process. Here you go:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chuck E. Cheese

So far Katherine and I have been able to protect ourselves from the huge marketing machine that seeks to devour children's souls. Our exposure has been limited thanks to the fact that our healthcare provider promotes breastfeeding (protecting us from the onslaught of offers from formula companies) and because we do most of our shopping through resale channels (Craigslist, Once Upon a Child, Mom-to-Mom sales, etc). So far, all we've really had to endure was the professionally trained fear-mongers at Babies R Us ("if you don't purchase the most expensive crib mattress, it may accidentally fold in half and crush your innocent child while he/she sleeps."... they're good.)

Well, about two weeks ago we were invited to the birthday party of our friends' daughter. And that birthday party took place at Chuck E. Cheese's ("where a kid can be a kid"). Most of you will remember Chuck E. Cheese's as Showbiz Pizza, which used to be operated by Billy Bob Bear (lead singer and guitarist for Rock-afire Explosion) until it was takeover in a leveraged buyout in the late 80's by a group of investors which included Berkshire Hathaway, KKR, and Chuck E. Cheese (who I've heard comes from a wealthy family that made its fortune speculating after the Civil War).

I hadn't been to one of these places in somewhere between 20 and 25 years and was a little overwhelmed once we arrived. I think Katherine summed it up best by observing, "this is just a sports bar for children." The place was full of games and rides and things to climb on and tv screens and flashing lights and ringing bells and people dressed in animal costumes... it was total sensory overload (which is why Lyla woke up crying three time that night). Anyway, once we were able to get oriented we ended up having a lot of fun, playing games, eating pizza, talking, etc. etc. A lot of my friends were there too: Ellie, Justin, Josh, Abbie, Megan, Biscuit, Lady Biscuit, The King of the Mammals, Duracell (aka Spinner), Theresa, Julie, uh, other people.

Overall, it was a lot of fun but a little too much stimulation (see photo above and on left). I ended up winning about 100 tickets which I gave to Ellie. Lyla made it through the whole night without melting down but she was definitely overwhelmed by all that was going on. The best, er, worst part was when Chuck E. Cheese himself came up to Lyla while I was holding her and she started to cry. Stupid mouse, scaring little kids. The nerve!

Monday, September 22, 2008

And you thought 5 year olds were tough!

I could survive for 1 minute, 19 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Uncle Ben stops by on his way to Beantown

Mmmmm.... rice and beans.... er, not that Uncle Ben. Ben, Ben our friend from San Diego whom we met at Kaleo. Ben recently left San Diego to move back to Boston with his lovely wife Lisa. Ben has family that lives in Grand Rapids and so made lovely GR part of his trip across the country. Though the visit was brief, it was great to spend time with him, to have him meet Lyla (who he had only known when she was Button, who coyishly hid behind Katherine's uteran wall). We really enjoyed hearing about his wedding and adventures in San Diego and their plans for the future. I'm sure we shared some information with him as well... it wasn't just one sided. Anyway, here are pictures from the visit. One thing to note was that Lyla was not afraid of Ben despite the massive and awesome spectical of his beard. I don't know if she's over her shy phase of if I've conditioned her to be comforted in the presence of awesome beards.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We're thinking about taking this show on the road:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Tuesday

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chicago trip

Katherine, Lyla and I headed to Chicago this past weekend to meet up with our dear San Diego friends Jaime and Danielle who we hadn't seen since we abandoned them in July of 2007 (known as the Summer of Our Discontent to the fun timers). We drove down on Saturday morning (after deciding not to try and leave Friday night because someone... I won't name names... decided to be wide awake from 2:30 am to 5:15 am on Thursday night, thus limiting the amount of sleep the Driver for the Chicago trip got). We arrived and met up with my cousin Jen and cousin-in-law Matt who moved to Chicago 6 weeks ago for work and adventure. After a couple minutes driving around looking for parking (ah, cities...) we went up and saw there place which is awesome and in a great neighborhood. I was impressed with how much they've set it up in only six weeks. Katherine and I have been known to not get fully settled in for long periods of time when we've moved in the past. Jen, Matt, Kevin, Katherine, and Lyla went to lunch at this great Thai restaurant called Oodles of Noodles. Katherine kept remarking how she had forgotten about Thai food since we haven't found a restaurant in Grand Rapids (I'm not saying one doesn't exist, but they aren't prominent in the 'hoods we roll in). The food was delicious, including (but not limited to) pot stickers that were the size of Lyla's fist and muy delicioso!!

After lunch we drove over to our friends Chris and Beth's condo where we were going to spend the night. We got settled in and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Dinner that night was a Mexican restaurant not to far from where the live. It was good, but not as good as the Thai (seriously, imagine going over a year without Thai food and then breaking the fast with an amazing meal). The rest of the night involved putting Lyla to bed, talking, and watching the end of the Matrix.

The next morning we got up and went to breakfast at Milk and Honey, a local, um, restaurant. I can't think how to describe the food other than "delicious". I had a huevos rancheros casserole that was piping hot but delicious. We met our friend Krina there and had a wonderful time catching up. After returning to the condo, some of us got naps, some of us got to watch Ghost Rider (no comment), some of us got to load the car. Fun times!!

Then we headed to the water front to meet up with Jaime and Danielle who were in town for a wedding and finished all their activities. We met at the Shedd Aquarium which is like a zoo for fish. We had a good time walking around looking at all the marine life and supplement our pretty decent knowledge of marine life with various factual tidbits. Mainly the aquarium was context for catching up on the many many life changing happenings of the past year for both of us.

Man it was great to see them. And it was great to see them with Lyla. I don't know that many people who are like this so it was great to see it in both Jaime and Danielle but they are just natural parents. I'm not sure how best to describe it... it's like a combination of love, gentleness, confidence, and playfulness that children can't help but be attracted to and comforted by. Now Lyla is a good kid and very cheerful around people but there was definitely something more with Jaime and Danielle; something I didn't expect to be drawn out in only the six or so hours we spent together. Anyway, seeing them was bittersweet because we were reminded how awesome they are and because we were reminded how awesome they are.

All in all it was an awesome weekend considering we went there and back and spent quality time with seven different people all under 40 hours. Here are pictures that Jaime took with his super camera. I'll post the mediocre ones we took with our camera later.

Lyla looking for things to do in the guidebook:

Lyla and Daddy marvelling at the reflective power of the "bean":

Family portrait under the "bean":

How big is Lyla?

So big.

Little Girl turned nine months old last week and has grown into a super-cute, super-sweet, super-fun little kid. She's pulling herself up on anything she can reach, she's fast crawling all over the house, she's playing games like "How Big is Lyla?" (when she feels like it), and so many other new and fun things. One of my favorites is her fake laugh she started doing this week. Whenever people are around and are laughing, she'll start fake laughing, mimicking the noise she's hearing. It's definitely different than her real laugh, I'll try and take a video of it so you can see what I'm talking about.

Today we're going to the doctor's for Lyla's 9-month check up. Hopefully she doesn't have to have any shots today because she cut a tooth yesterday (she has the front four, top teeth all coming in right now) and somehow teething and shots does not seem like a pleasant combination.

UPDATE: Lyla is 29.5 inches tall and weighs 18 lbs 12.5 oz. Go Ring Family genes!!!! Fortunately for everyone involved, she's all up to date on immunizations and didn't have to get shots. Also .325 sounds good.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Behind the scenes

Here's Lyla working on another post!