Monday, September 29, 2008

Curious Joseph Visits the 4 Seasons

Last week Mommy's firm, which we will refer to as Barnum & Bailey, decided she needed to go to Palo Alto to be trained with lots of other lawyers. Because they wanted Mommy to be well-rested and lawyerly for her training, B & B put her up in the 4 Seasons for the duration of her trip.

Joseph had never been to a luxury hotel before, so he jumped at the opportunity to visit Mommy in her fancy surroundings (see last week's airplane post). Also, note that Joseph never visited Mommy on any of her trips while she worked for the federal government--Joseph is quite savvy.

Wanting to make a good first impression, the 4 Seasons rolled out the red carpet for Joseph and upon his arrival, provided him with his own crib, diaper pail, age-appropriate toiletries, and official "I love Palo Alto" teddy bear.

Joseph (who can be seen climbing around in the background of the above photo) was most excited about checking out the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows to see all of the cars on the freeway below.

Joseph also approved of the hotel's drapery, which allowed for twirling and playing, but did not interfere with his view of the passing cars.

After thoroughly inspecting the curtains, and finding them adequate, Joseph then moved on to examine the bathroom. As you can see from the following video, Joseph's inspections are very comprehensive.

(One of my favorite things about Joseph is that he loves to put things on his head and then run into things. He'll do this at home with laundry, plastic bowls, blankets, or paper sacks. He then tries to intentionally run into things. You can tell he's doing it on purpose because if he goes for a while without bumping into something, he'll take a quick peak, align himself towards a wall, and then cover his head again and run full speed until he hits it. I really think he's trying to be funny when does it, because he loves looking for our reactions when he does it.)

Even though he only stayed over one night, Joseph highly recommends staying at the 4 Seasons in Palo Alto.

He also recommends that the next time you're staying some place fancy, go ahead and twirl around in the curtains, put a trash can on your head--you only live once.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Joseph's First Airplane Trip

This week, Joseph set out for a quick trip to Palo Alto. He'd never been on an airplane before, so we didn't know what to expect.

Mommy was already in Palo Alto, so it was going to be just Daddy and Joseph versus the world for this leg of our trip.

The Airport
First of all, Joseph loved the airport--except for the part where the stroller had to be taken away to go through the x-ray machine and he couldn't go after it.

All Joseph needs to be entertained in public is something to push. (In the grocery store, he wants out of the cart so he can push it.) So, naturally, at the airport we spent a good part of an hour and a half pushing the stroller around.

There were plenty of people and airplanes to look at and all sorts of trash cans to examine, and that kept us very, very busy.

Joseph's other new game is to spin in circles until he falls over. He doesn't go very fast, and it doesn't take long for him to fall over, but he loves it. He entertained quite a few fellow travelers with that routine as well.

It turned out that our flight wasn't full, so instead of having to sit on Daddy's lap for the whole flight, Joseph was able to sit in his car seat, which likely made the experience much, much easier.

We flew on Southwest, which means free-for-all on the seating. About the half the passengers had already boarded when we made our way on to the plane. I saw plenty of anxious eyes as I came lumbering down the aisle with a car seat, and it was kind of fun to be on other side of those glances (It doesn't take much for Daddy to go on a power trip).

The section that can be skipped if you just want to read more about Joseph
Southwest recently changed their boarding process. It used to be that anyone with small children could pre-board, but it seems people in the 'A' boarding group got all uppity about not being able to get their favorite seats because too many people with kids would get on the plane before them.

In response to these complaints, Southwest now has people with small children board in between the uppity A-group and the (apparently less-uppity) B-group (unless the parents get into the A-group by printing out their boarding passes far enough in advance, but most parents of small children are too busy cleaning up after their small children to remember to print out their boarding passes early enough to get into the A-group, so this isn't much of an issue).

So here's the thing: If I have a small child with me, I really don't care when I get on the plane (as long as I have my child seated next to me, of course), so getting on the plane in the middle of the group doesn't really affect me.

HOWEVER, if you're not flying with a small child, don't you want to do everything in your power NOT to be seated anywhere near a small child? Doesn't it behoove the A-groupers to allow the small children to take their seats first and then be able to pick the seat as far away from these kids and as close to a different time zone as possible?

Alright, that's over. In a future post I may write about those people seated in the back of the plane who try to get off the plane first, but, for now, let's get back to talking about Joseph.

Joseph, the in-flight experience
Here's Joseph's initial impression of being on an airplane:

Joseph loved pretty much everything about the plane ride. He laughed and smiled and giggled the entire trip. He's an easy going baby generally, but it was unbelievable how great he was throughout the journey.

Once we were seated on the plane, a nice lady came and joined us on our row. During the flight she'd sometimes forget to look at Joseph so he'd hit her on the arm until she put down her in-flight magazine and played with him again.

Joseph also loved the overhead lights. He'd point at them and giggle each time Daddy flipped them on and off.

We were worried about how Joseph would handle the changing air pressure on the flight--I remember how awful it was when I was little--but it turned out not to be an issue at all.

I've heard that it helps to give kids something to eat or drink during take off and descent, so he had a sippy cup and snacks on the way up and then polished off a bottle as we prepared to land.

Daddy's in-flight experience
Remember how I said, Joseph loved "pretty much everything about the plane ride"? Well, there was one moment that he didn't quite enjoy.

Mid-way through our 90 minute flight, I decided to give him a drink of water from his sippy cup. For this trip, I brought our high-tech, non-spill sippy cup with a straw. When I flipped the lid to give him a drink, water shot out of the straw like it was a fire hose--I hadn't thought about the air inside of the cup remaining at sea-level pressure.

The stream of water nailed Joseph in the face and got in his eyes. This made him really confused, and he scowled and rubbed his eyes as he tried to figure out what on earth was going on.

Daddy quickly tried to stop the geyser while simultaneously assuring his son that he hadn't acted with malice when he shot him in the eye. Joseph didn't cry and a couple of fruit snacks later seemed to have forgotten the whole messy affair.

It was at that moment that Daddy looked down and realized that damage that he'd done to himself:

It may not be obvious from the picture, but it was very obvious to anyone who saw Daddy walking around the San Francisco Airport that Daddy may have struggled on the plane ride.

(What's even more amusing is the image of Daddy trying to nonchalantly take this picture without anyone around wondering what he was doing).

Within moments of the plane's wheels hitting the ground at SFO, Joseph decided that he had seen all there was to see on this trip and went to sleep.

All in all, I'd have to say that it was a pretty successful adventure.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Mommy's Away, or "The Man-cation"

This week Mommy is in Palo Alto for a week of training. We miss Mommy a bunch, but we've tried to come up with some ideas to make this a non-lame week. Since us guys are getting getting a lot of male-bonding time this week, we've dubbed our time together "the man-cation" (it's like a vacation, but more manly).

First, we watched roughly 780 hours of television coverage from the Ryder Cup (a biannual golf event played between teams from the U.S. and Europe). We were pleased to see the U.S. win again finally, and our appreciation for Boo Weekley, one of the American players, grew so much that Joseph and I declared him to be the symbol of our man-cation. Boo can flat out play the game of golf, but he's got a down-to-earth, everyman appeal to him that has won him a place in the hearts of a lot of fans.

Aside from having a fun name to yell out, Boo has a great story. Before his arrival on the professional golf scene, Boo tried to earn money by doing anything from boxing orangutans to power-washing chemical tanks. If those stories don't win you over, you can't help but appreciate a professional that follows his opening tee shot with this trip up the first fairway:

Once we finished watching all the golf we could find, we decided to head up to Nana's house, where we found lots of people who love us and keep us entertained with a seemingly-endless supply of toys.

Lunch at Nana's sometimes features waffles or chocolate chip cookies and other verboten treats that we don't get to eat for lunch when both parents are in town. For dinner, we ate the manliest food we could think of:

"The Hat"--home to the world's greatest pastrami

The Hat has been clogging arteries in Los Angeles for nearly 60 years. It's an institution dripping with character and worthy of an annual pilgrimage.

To top off our day of manliness, Joseph didn't take a bath--even though it was warranted.

On Tuesday at Nana's house, we were left with an empty house as everyone else had places to go and things to do. But we didn't let that slow us down.

Wearing PJ's all day--because we can

Eventually, Joseph did take a bath, because being manly doesn't have to mean never taking a bath.

That afternoon, we played "Dukes of Hazard." This involves running around without a shirt and jumping into the little tykes cozy car (aka "The General") without opening the side door.

Sitting on some riding toy backwards (also very manly)

Tomorrow, we're probably going to play "The A-Team," but we're still trying to figure out which car would be the best one to flip over. We thought about "Knight Rider," but Joseph didn't think the idea of a talking car was very believable.

We ended the day with some good ole' fashioned rasslin' and playing in the dirt before heading off to bed (a little past our standard bedtime).

We sure miss mommy a lot, but we're having a heap of fun finding manly ways to make the time pass quicker.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Big Boy Book

Joseph has always liked books. But in the last little while, he's noticed that his books are different than other books; his books have sturdy cardboard pages, whereas other books have paper pages, perfect for rapidly turning and flipping.

Since making this discovery, Joseph has become determined to get his hands on non-board books whenever the opportunity arises.

He does have one "regular" book of his own with paper pages and lots of pictures of animals, and this has become his favorite of late.

It's fun to watch him turn the over-sized pages and point out the things that catch his eye.

With his picture books, we try to ask him where various objects are, but he's not really into that. Sometimes he does point at the things we name, but most of the time he just ignores us and turns to another page. Joseph does, however, like to point at things and have us name them, so we're learning a lot of animal names.

I like this series of pictures, because it shows how he handles books and how excited he gets when he reads his big-kid book.

I was going to mention that so far he has managed to avoid ripping any pages, but right after I took these pictures he tried to stand up while holding on to the book and ended up tearing a page. I'm guessing that it's just the first of many torn pages.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Say Prayers?"

Out of a fear of being like those parents who claim their 6-month old knows how to say, "Rhinoceros," we sometimes overcompensate by refusing to believe that Joseph does certain things until either other people observe it firsthand, or he makes it undeniably obvious.

For example, during the last couple of months, there have been multiple times where we would sit down to pray over a meal as family, and Joseph would grab his upper arm near the elbow to copy me and Erin as we fold our arms. He stops after a few seconds, but it's still cute to us.

Sometimes, after sitting in his high chair for a while, he decides it's time to pray again and grabs his arm and looks at us for acknowledgment.

Here's a shot of his reaction this morning when we were getting ready for church. We asked him if we should "Say prayers?" before we headed out for the day.

Other Developments

This week he demonstrated a couple of ways that he's starting to put things together in his head.

One day, he was sitting in his high chair eating when he spied a nearby dinosaur book. After reading a couple of pages to him, I noticed that he was pointing at his bib and looking at me expectantly. It was only then that I realized that his bib had a large image of a dinosaur on it as well.

His other fun trick this week involves a book called "Mommy Hugs."

Incidentally, if you ever want to get someone a great set of board books, pick up "Mommy Hugs" and "Daddy Kisses" by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben; they've got great illustrations. (I also think they provide a good way to teach about parents' love for their children. And, if you've got a child with a lot of wiggles, you can have fun by acting out the words and interacting with your child as you read.)

Anyway, one of the pages in "Mommy Hugs" shows mommy monkey giving her baby a hug with a pat on the head. The other day, Joseph was flipping through the book, and when we came to this page he started patting himself on the head. When I realized what he was doing he got a little twinkle in his eye. Now, every time we open that page he pats his head and giggles.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Apple Picking in Julian

Today we made an outing to Julian, the apple-picking capital of east San Diego County.

We were excited to take Joseph out to pick apples, because we thought he'd get a kick out of pulling fruit off of trees.

--Joseph in search of the perfect apple--

Despite his parents' best intentions, Joseph decided that there were plenty of things to do at the orchard that didn't involve picking apples.

--Joseph, no longer in search of the perfect apple, smacks a tree with a stick--

Joseph also tried to teach his parents that there was no need to pick apples, because there were plenty of great apples all over the ground.

--Joseph and a shriveled, rotten apple--

The highlight of Joseph's time at the orchard involved chasing around a skinny cat that mommy insisted had worms. (We don't have any pictures of this part of the trip because daddy was busy protecting Joseph's intestines by pulling on the back of Joseph's overalls any time he came within striking distance.)

The rest of the time at the orchard was a bit of blur for Joseph--likely the result of sucking on his hands after smashing fermented apples between his fingers.

Joseph did manage to make his parents laugh with his repeated attempts to take apples from the ground and re-attach them to the tree branches.

--Joseph picking, or possibly un-picking, an apple--

The other highlight of Joseph's day (and possibly of his life so far) was his introduction to apple pie and ice cream. As long as apple picking ends with apple pie eating, I think it's safe to say that Joseph is a big fan of apple picking.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So last night I was putting Joseph to bed. After our story, prayer, and song, I just held him and rocked him for a long time because I was sad about going back to work. I hope not to miss our bedtime routine very often, but I know there will be some nights where I have to work late and it will break my heart.

But anyway, I was holding him and he was snuggled into me, his head on my shoulder. Eventually he sort of started grunting; I thought they were happy grunts. But he set me straight when he sat up, and, grunting more emphatically, pointed to his crib.

I guess he was ready for bed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

She Passed!!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: After some intense studying, and despite some last-minute pre-exam distractions from the test administrators (but that's another story), we are happy to announce that Erin is now licensed in California.

Yes, Erin and Todd can now both tell everyone that they are both officially recognized by the state of California as legal drivers.

Erin's key to DMV success? Applying the same fool-proof strategy that worked so well for her in law school: (1) learn a lot more information than is necessary, (2) be convinced you're going to fail, (3) miss only one question on the exam.

Congratulations on passing, we knew you could do it!!

P.S. To celebrate Mommy's passing of her driving test, we went to the beach today:

--Joseph calls this look "Blue Steel"--

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Sea World

Today, we took a family trip to Sea World, where Joseph got up close and personal with some new favorite animals and had a blast in the Elmo play-area.

I promise there's another beluga whale that he's looking at, although often times when we go here or to the zoo, he finds other objects in the enclosures more interesting than the animals.

In this next series of photos, it's fun to watch him as he tries to interact with the Walrus (it's also fun to zoom in on the middle picture to see the fish heads the Walrus was chomping on).

I'd never been this close to a Walrus before, and it startled me to be this close to such a massive animal with just a tiny sheet of glass separating us. Joseph, oddly enough didn't mind this close encounter--which is more than we can say about his run in with the "pet a Clydesdale" exhibit a few minutes earlier.

--Petting the Clydesdales at Sea World--

(I have no idea who these people are, but they show up when you search for images of "Clydesdale sea world")

For those of you who may be wondering why Sea World showcases a team of large horses along side killer whales and dolphins, it may be helpful to point out that Sea World's two-fold mission is to increase (1.) vistors' appreciation for aquatic life and (2.) visitors' beer consumption.

(I sort of wish American advertising laws weren't so restrictive, because part of me thinks Joseph would have really liked Joe Camel)

Joseph loved running back and forth to look into different tanks. He's becoming a lot better at climbing and getting around generally, and the lack of crowds gave him a clear view of the different exhibits.

Sea World recently built a play area for young children with, of all things, a Sesame Street theme. I guess they figured Disney already has its own theme park, Joe Camel is out (despite the great potential for tie-ins with the Budweiser horses--see above), and the old school Sea World mascots just weren't cutting it.

--Old school mascots (showed up during the above-mentioned image search)--

Even though Sea World probably spent quite a bit of money researching and marketing the name of it's Sesame Street play area, Todd never quite remembers the name of the area, and in our brief trip today he referred to it as "Elmo Land," "Elmo World," and "Elmo's Play Place." Although none of these is the correct name, this post will use these terms, and others, interchangeably.

Joseph loved his first visit to Elmo's Playland. They have a couple of Disney-esque rides and Joseph took a ride on Sea World's equivalent of the teacups. These photos were taken as we spun around at a faster rate than Joseph realized he was in for when he sat down in the brightly colored seat.

His reaction was a blend of confusion and indifference with a little bit of frustration mixed in from when we wouldn't let him stand up on the ride. He didn't cry or seem too scared. He just couldn't figure out exactly what was going on and why his parents wouldn't let him stand up.

Fortunately, Elmo Land also includes fountains for little kids to play in. We figured Joseph wouldn't be a fan of water shooting out at him unpredictably, but we were wrong. The fountains were a definite hit.

We also got this video of him in one of the fountains. At this point, he's not really smiling and laughing like he was at first, but he's still enjoying getting splashed, running away, and then looping back to repeat the process.

We also like the little kid in the orange shirt who shows up in the video. He looks scared of the water, but like a moth to a flame, he seems irresistibly drawn to it.

At the end of the day, we had one very, very drenched little boy, who couldn't wait for his next trip to Elmo World.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reading Chair

I mentioned that one of Joseph's favorite things to do lately is sit by himself in big chairs. He sat in this one and "read" The Poisonwood Bible for like 20 minutes the other day. Later he just hung out in his cute jammies.

Ok, there are a lot of pictures, but I couldn't decide.

Bye bye!

Joseph's reaction when we said we were going to go bye bye this morning. We weren't fast enough for him.