Friday, June 30, 2006

Joe Anne Chris Katie ...

Uncle Joe & Auntie Anne visited Annapolis along with first-cousins Chris & Katie. Was great to see them after not seeing them for a year. What happened in that year? Chris, now 12, grew like 3 feet! I'm sure that sounds like an exaggeration until you realise that at 12 his shoe size, as Prince would say, are the same as his age. Seriously, 12! He was great playing with Jacob - we're hoping by the next time we see him we have a new babysitter.

Katie has blossomed into a beautiful young girl. She was feeding Andy food like a professional mom. And we watched a video of Katie singing, "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" in perfect pitch. Joe & Anne pretty much look the same as last year. Actually, that's not true now that I think about it. Joe used to look like a Picasso painting because one of his eye's was lower than the other due to a sinus infection. With the miracle of modern medicine they were able to insert 3 plastic pieces below his eye to hold it into place properly after draining his sinuses and they didn't even have to cut into his skin. No scars - doctors are truly amazing.

We had our normal bad movie ritual with Joe and Anne. Last time we were all together we went to one of the worst movies I remember struggling through - "Cold Mountain". If Tania & I had gone on our own we would have seriously walked out. This time we checked the movie listings and there was virtually nothing on so we go the idea to go see the new Adam Sandler movie, "Click". We are now 2 for 2. The movie was written for 8 year olds. Given that Adam Sandler did such great films like "50 First Dates", "The Wedding Singer", "Punch Drunk Love" and even a cute film like "Spanglish" we figured we couldn't go wrong. Wrong. Click sucked.

Virginia Cousins

Drove around The Beltway today to Virginia to see Tania's first cousins (Andrea and Kelly) and Aunt Betsy. Snapped these photos of Andrea's boy Devon (Blondie), Kelly's boy John Henry (Red Head ... or Ginga [pronounced geeng-gah] as we say in England) and Jacob. So cute, hey? We decided the one from the front looks like it could be a rock album cover from the 70's.

Jacob mostly played well but had bouts of driving into John Henry while sitting on a dump truck and trying to grab little plastic men from Devon and shouting "that's mine". Enjoyable day. Also posting some shots of Andrea with Tania & Jake and Betsy holding Andy. I also have this shot of Ellie and Sarah that I just love. They are really gorgeous. I deserve a medal for getting Ellie to somehow agree to be in a picture! Kelly somehow avoided the camera - run in the family?


Our little guy, Andy, does this really funny flying thing where he lays on his tummy, arches his back and gets his arms and legs in the air like he's Superman. He then flaps his arms and kicks his legs in rapid succession. Never seen anything like it but it sure makes for a good party trick! He is getting so close to crawling and sitting. I give it 2:1 odds within 30 days.

Birthday Weekend at Rehoboth Beach

Celebrated Tania's birtday last weekend at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I guess all efforts at announcing it as her 29th birthday are lost on the birthday cake picture so I won't even bother. More commentary later - just wanted to get the pictures up and live. Off to see the cousins early this morning so need to go and shower.

Friday, June 23, 2006

East Coast Uncles, Aunts & Cousins

As promised I am uploading the pictures from the visit of Tom, Moni & Rowan. We also were lucky enough to see Tania's Aunt Betsy, cousins Kelly and Andrea and their 5 kiddies. As usual the kids made it into the pictures but the grownups must have been camera shy. More text coming - pictures for now.

Off to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware tomorrow to meet up with Kako and Uncle Jeff "the Cowboy" (according to Jacob).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

East Coast, USA

Thursday morning, 7:25 AM EDT

In Annapolis, Maryland with the family. Arrived here a week ago and really enjoying being here with the beautiful June surroundings. Normally we are only here in December where it is bitter cold. Picture to the right is downtown Annapolis with the view of the State House in the background. Would love to post some recent pictures of the family but I have lost control of the camera and the computer a bit as I'm not in my own house. But I'll try to get some of the shots off of Tania's camera since she got some good shots of the entire extended family. Check back later in the week.

Arrived last Thursday. I flew in from London and Tania flew in from California. Wouldn't have been able to pull it off were it not for the HUGE assistance from my cousin Sophia who traveled with Tania and the family and then flew back on Saturday - what a superstar. I worked Friday as my personal holiday doesn't begin until this Saturday (24th June). Went into Washington, DC on Saturday evening with Tania to attend Ali Shapiro's (her friend from Wharton) wedding. The event itself was lovely and was held in Union Station. If you haven't ever visited it is a grandiose station that is well kept and befitting of a train station of the nation's capital - the picture to the left barely does it justice but should give you an idea. We stayed over night at the Hotel Monaco in downtown DC. Was the first time since Jacob was born that we both spent the night away from the kids together. The joys of living out of town with no family network! It really was relaxing (especially for Tania) to be able to wake up in the morning with no kids to take care of. Big thank you to Papa/Kay for holding down the fort.

Sunday morning Tania and I had to go our separate ways for a few hours - she to a post-wedding brunch and I to meet David Lapter for a work preparation meeting (yuck). But we had the afternoon to explore a small bit of the nation's capital, which was great for me. First time I have had a few hours to just tool around DC in 15 years or so. Normally I am there in the Winter where I barely want to get out of the car or I am there for work where I only see the inside of a hotel meeting room. Sunday we had the chance to walk around Georgetown with Meredith and Matt (T's friends from Wharton) and then visit some of the tourist sites. Most impressive for me is always the Lincoln memorial. We then walked around the famous reflecting pool - site of the Civil Rights movement and opposite the Washington Memorial. Then we headed over to the Jefferson Memorial before we were exhausted and ready to return home to save Papa/Kay.

Monday I had to go into DC for work. What an easy commute from Annapolis. Tania drove me to New Carrollton station (22 minutes) and I took the Metro into the central Metro station, which was only 27 minutes. The Metro is air conditioned and everybody had a seat. What a difference from the London Underground!

Arrived home on Tuesday evening. Tom (one of Tania's older brothers), Moni and Rowan were visiting. It was so nice to see Jacob playing with his big cuz, Rowan (7.5 years old). It was also sweet for me because I still remember Rowan from when she was a 2.5 year old girl when I first met her. She was the center of attention of our Christmas gathering that year as she has all these silly and sweet little kid sayings and gestures, which of course is now the stage that Jacob is at. They were "thick as thieves" and at the end of the day even decided to sleep next to each other on Papa/Kay's floor. I laid down with both of them and read stories (the Gruffalo, of course!) and talked. Rowan recently visited the San Diego zoo and told me all about the animals that she saw. Amazing how a 7 year old child can know about 50 more species than I have even heard of. I did catch her out, though, when she tried to tell me about the "skank," which clearly can't exist at the zoo. I told her to ask her daddy about the skank, who I can only assume was related to his college days? Anyway, when I left Rowan took over the reading duties and read to Jacob about Ponies. I heard them giggling as I headed out to catch up with the family. I hope to be able to get some photos of the Maine Kandra family's visit up soon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Gelsenkirchen, Germany

World Cup Match US vs. Czech Republic (12 June 2006)

Here I am in the sea of red Czech Republic supporters. Many people have asked whether I feared being the one white shirt routing for the US in the thousands and thousands (literally) of Czech supporters. I wish. One can only be fearful if defeat of thy enemy is a possibility. They scored 5 minutes into the game and never looked back. We lost 3-0. They have a seriously great team - ranked 2nd in the world. Had a blast at the game, though. Had lots of beer and bretzels (yes, this is the German name for you know what) and hung out with my German colleague, Ingo. Afterward we went to Dusseldorf to a local drinking place to drink many more local beers, eat bratwurst and watch more games on TV. We drank by the river in Dusseldorf until 1:00. Home at 1:30. Up at 5:40 to catch my flight back to London. No, I'll never learn;-)

Next match is Saturday against Italy. We have to win to keep the dream alive. On the other hand England is already through to the next round. It helps to have two teams to support!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

International Travel ...

June 7-8, Frankfurt Germany

Sitting at my PC at 2:30 AM trying to get work done that is due today in the US where it is only 5:30 PDT. I arrived this evening for the opening of our new Frankfurt office after giving a presentation this morning at our London user conference. I arrived in London the afternoon before from San Fran. So you can guess how big the bags under my eyes are. And when the stress and sleep deprivation roles in so too does the crap food. Dinner: 3 beers at office opening, lots of crappy canapés followed by a Quarter Pound (actually a “Royal with Cheese!”), large fries and a coke. I will be in Germany 1 week then back to London for 2 days then off to Annapolis. So international travel isn’t that glamorous.

EXCEPT … I am going to the opening match of the World Cup for the USA! They are playing Czech Republic (ranked number 2 in the world behind Brazil – doh!) in the city of Gelsenkirchen (see map above).

Okay, files just arrived from my CFO. Off to crunch spreadsheets so I can get to sleep!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Go See This Film (An Inconvenient Truth)

Best analogy of the film ... if you drop a frog in boiling water it will jump straight out. If you put a frog in luke warm water and slowly turn up the heat it will stay in the water until it boils to death. We are fighting incrementalism in which it is hard to feel the effects of global warming on a daily basis but the evidence seems clear we are headed in the wrong direction and we ought to put the world straight for the young boys below in the blog. I wouldn't mind hearing equal time of people who are not convinced that global warming is a serious problem just to hear how they argue it. If you know any great sources let me know. But the film was at a minimum a very compelling case that we need to act now and also to find ways to reduce our dependency on oil. DON'T BE LAZY - GO SEE THIS FILM !!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

No Title Required!

Okay, I know exactly what you're thinking. But it isn't true. Daddy didn't decide to revisit his 1980's glam rock days by dressing up Andy in this outfit. In fact, all of these shenanigans occurred while I was asleep in bed. I was on the late shift last night and had dueling crying babies from 3:30-4:30.

So this morning I didn't make it downstairs until 8:00 and Mommy had a bit of fun with the dress-up basket she bought for Jacob. And you can see who her accomplices were!

I just got done putting Jacob to bed. He explored his usual imagination with the truth during "let's talk" time. It went something like this ...

- Let's talk
- Okay, what do you want to talk about?
- Stuff
- Stuff?
- NO! Jeff.
- Oh. Uncle Jeff?
- Yeah, Uncle Jeff.
- What about Uncle Jeff? (who he hasn't seen in a year - what a memory!)
- He is a cowboy, just like me
- Oh?
- Yeah, but he doesn't have a hat like Andy.
- He doesn't have a hat?
- No because, because he has long hair (he doesn't)

Choke Up, Jacob

So Uncle Matt and I decided to help Jacob learn how to play baseball. Mommy bought him the bat and ball after "discovering" his natural talent while watching him play ball at his friend Daniel's house. I have to admit the pride you have as a Daddy when you hear that your son is better as sports than then other kids. I guess that competitive spirit never dies!

It was great to have Uncle Matt and Aunt Adrienne over. In the top picture on the right you can see me teaching young Jake the finer points of how to "choke up" on the bat (holding it higher for any non-baseball included folks). And you can imagine how hard Matt & I laughed when we told Jacob to choke up on the bat and he started coughing on purpose.

It was seriously comedy hour when Matt then said, "Jacob, show me you swing" and Jacob walked over to the swing set! Only to be topped by a quick non-sequitur story. We also went to the "Water Mountains" today. Jacob told me that some of the kids weren't letting him play in the water. I jokingly said to him "let's go and rough them up" in my best Austrian accent imitating the Saturday Night Live folks imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger and flexing my muscles. Jacob said, "yeah, let's rough them up" (let's hope he knew I was teasing!). So we went over to roll the boys and Jacob came up, flexed his muscles and started barking like a dog, "rough, rough, rough, rough ..." Honestly. That is one for the memory bank.

Okay, so back to baseball. After showing Jacob how to connect with the ball you can see the results that are now captured on digital film. Below would have at least been a double!

Zeide visits !!!!

Zeide and Marianella visited for a quick 24-hour trip last weekend. They came on the train from Sacramento - only a 3-hour journey. Jacob & I picked them up Sunday night at the train station and did the "happy dance!"

As you can see they soaked up both the sun and the son at the same time. We went to the Water Mountains on Memorial Day to give them the fun experience of watching Jacob challenge the water to spray him. This is what moving home is all about.
And one last story so that the picture on the left isn't lonely without any text. What a sad moment I had this week. I was in the put-Jacob-to-bed ritual and we were talking about the fact that I would be going to London next week. He said in his little sad voice, "Daddy, please don't go. Mommy, Andy and I love you and we want to see you for dinner tomorrow." This is the reason I soak up every early morning, evening and weekend moment I can with the kids. You gotta love 'en. Anyway, I will be meeting them on the 15th June in Annapolis and we'll manage to fit in a week's holiday on the beach on the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) peninsula. My first ever East Coast beach holiday. Should be fun to play in the sand with the kiddies.

Visiting Norm ...

Went to lunch with childhood friend Norm Epstein and his family Karen (wife), Samantha (daughter) and Leo (son). Leo is 4.5 so was a perfect age to play with Jacob and Samantha's maternal instincts were kicking into full gear with Andy. Was great to see them. Now that we live in NorCal we hope to see them often. My how life is strange when you see the children of your childhood friends playing together. Norm & I met as Sunday school when we must have been 5 or 6. Here are a couple 'o quick snaps of Leo, Samantha and Jacob. As usual none of us parents rush to be snapped in photos.

Quick aside ... My brother is visiting this weekend. I was lying in bed with him the other night telling each other stories. I told him that "Uncle Matt" was coming. "Do you know who Uncle Matt is?" I asked. "I don't know, you tell me!" shot back Jacob to as is common to almost any question you ask him. "He's my little brother. Do you know who your little brother is, Jacob?" He responded quickly in his proud, knowing voice, "My little brother is Leo!" You can't make this stuff up.

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