Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vacationing With A 1 Year Old

Things we learned while vacationing with our 1 year old in Philadelphia...
  1. Get your directions right. Missing an exit on the New Jersey Turnpike and going 100 miles out of your way is likely to coincide with the kid waking up and being quite unhappy about still being stuck in the car.
  2. Get a Junior Suite at the hotel. The room splits in half, so you can let the kid sleep in one half while Mommy and Daddy play cards in the other.
  3. Visit the Philadelphia Zoo. It's awesome.
  4. The Camden Aquarium is loads of fun. The children's garden next to it is less worthwhile. About the only thing there worth visiting is the kid sized dinosaur egg, in our case it happened to contain an Eleanor-a-saurus.
  5. The Franklin Institute Science Museum is kind of sub par. The giant heart you can walk through is all right, but honestly we expected better. The windows and stairs turned out to be more interesting than any of the exhibits.
  6. The Philadelphia Art Museum is nice, but every employee in the place will glare at your kid the entire time. On the other hand, they do have a lot of really cool stairs. Eleanor enjoyed them.
  7. It's possible to get Really Good Seats to a Phillies game at the last minute. Notice that we're two rows back from the field on the first base line. Bought those the day before the game.
  8. The Please Touch Museum was awesome, like the Boston Children's Museum but twice as big and with way more stuff for kids under 3 years old. Highly recommended. If we lived closer we'd totally have a membership.
Anyway, it was an awesome vacation, and we'd totally do it again.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Year Down

It's been a heck of a year.

Last week we celebrated Eleanor's first birthday. It was a smashing success, with a nice mix of my friends, Joanna's friends and both of our families. The new deck in the backyard made for the perfect grilling platform, the kids (ranging from several months old to early teens) all seemed to have a good time and the adults enjoyed themselves, although for the first time the stragglers mostly ended up leaving because they were bringing a rugrat with them who needed to take a nap.

In any event, I suppose it's natural at times like this to look back on the past year and take stock of everything that's happened. It's certainly been enlightening, enjoyable and just overall an amazing experience.

Eleanor went from a tiny little bundle of baby to a little person with her own desires (more food please!) and interests (can we read that book again?) who's even starting to walk around on her own (a recent development from the past few weeks).

Joanna's turned out to be an amazing mother (as expected), although she will admit that for quite some time she was a little surprised that she was actually somebody's mom. I suppose it comes with all the babysitting she did as a kid, but it takes some time before it really sets in that yes, this kid is yours, it's not just a really long term babysitting job.

I think one of my favorite memories from this part of our lives together was watching Eleanor deal with a week apart from Mommy. Joanna had a week long conference in Copenhagen, so Eleanor spent the week with me (and her Nanny and her grandparents and the multitude of other people who make up her daily life, of course). She actually dealt really well with the whole thing, but once Joanna got home it became clear exactly how much Eleanor had missed her. Our normally independent little girl spent the next 48 hours or so following her mommy around like a little blonde shadow, as if she was trying to keep Joanna from flying off to Copenhagen again. "You can't fly to Copenhagen if I'm sitting on your lap! Now lets get another book for you to read to me..."

As for myself, I'm enjoying being a dad. It's certainly got its exasperating moments (awesome, diet coke spilled under the table, in the magazines and on the wall!), but Eleanor makes them all worth while. It's just so cool watching her grow up, she's always been more alert and interactive than a lot of babies, and it's only continued as she's gotten older.

We've always been pretty big on taking Eleanor out and about, she likes getting out of the house and if we're going to go someplace Joanna and I would definitely prefer the Science Museum or the Aquarium to the mall. It was pretty clear at the beginning that Eleanor didn't have much of a preference, she can just as easily enjoy looking at the crowds of people at Target as she can the penguins at the Aquarium, but as she's gotten older it's pretty clear she's actually started to get something out of the more interesting destinations for these weekend trips. These days she's just as likely to be staring with rapt attention at the animals at the zoo (she was a big fan of the ostrich at the Franklin Park Zoo and the giant tortoise at Southwick's, for what it's worth) as she is to be staring at the other people in line at the grocery store.

It's been a hell of a year, and looking back all I can say is I'm looking forward to many more years of watching her grow. Eleanor's just gotten more fun as the year went on, and I'm sure that'll only continue as she gets older.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Back to Work

Today is the last day of my two month paternity leave. Yeah, I neglected to post about going on paternity leave, or about anything that's happened while I was on paternity leave, or for that matter about anything that's happened since Eleanor was born. Clearly I'm a bad blogger.

In any event, things have been happening, I've just been a bit distracted. Eleanor is now 5 months old, she's progressed from being a little lump of baby to a small person with likes and dislikes who is quite annoyed that she can't effectively move around on her own yet. She's actually rolling over on demand for a while now, but she's still a little ways off from being able to crawl, which infuriates her to no end. On the bright side though, she's now able to play with things, she loves her exersaucer and it's really cute to see her interacting with all the toys built into it, and she'll happily amuse herself for quite some time trying to chew on her blue whale bath toy (apparently it's just cooler than the orca or hammerhead bath toys).

It's been interesting being at home with the kid for the past few months. You really do get a better sense of the ongoing progress she's making, every now and then Joanna will comment about something or other that Eleanor is doing, and I'm like "yeah, she's been doing that for a few days now". You don't necessarily notice to the extent that you'd comment on whatever the new accomplishment was, but you definitely see it all happening, which is cool. On the other hand, it's a thankless, tedious job in many ways. Eleanor's smile can light up a room, and she hands it out often these days, but there's still the incredibly frustrating parts of the day where she's whiny and doesn't want to nap, or is bored with the house and doesn't realize that it's snowing and we can't go someplace, or just really wants to be entertained by someone other than whoever has been with her all day, which tends to happen about an hour or so before Joanna gets home.

I'm incredibly glad to have had the chance to take this time off to be with the kid, but I'm also looking forward to getting back into the swing of my job. While I'll miss getting to spend this much time with the kid, it'll be nice to talk to people during the day who can actually talk back, and needless to say it'll be good to get back to working on all the things I put on hold when I went on leave. I'm pretty out of the loop at work at this point, so it'll be interesting to see what has happened to the projects I was working on. It'll also be nice to have my commute back. It may seem strange to say it, but that train ride is really just built in time to myself, and I miss it.

Anyway, the napping child appears to have awoken, so that must mean it's time for another bottle. The endless cycle continues ;-)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eleanor Jane Rooney

Last Thursday at 5:17 AM, after roughly 53 hours of labor my lovely and very tired wife Joanna gave birth to Eleanor Jane Rooney. She's remarkably adorable, and after one tiring but awesome week we've decided we'll probably keep her ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Counting down...

Joanna pointed out this morning that she went in to labor as early as my Mom did when she had me, it would happen sometime around today.

Guess I better finish up work on that nursery...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Review: Home Game, by Michael Lewis

First, I should make a small confession. I'll read anything Michael Lewis writes. It started with Moneyball, but it's only gotten worse from there. From books to magazine articles, sports writing to the inner workings of wall street, the format or topic just doesn't matter. If he writes it, I'll read it. So, it's no surprise that when I saw that he was coming out with a book about fatherhood (something I'm about to become much more experienced in), I just had to pick it up.

The book is short, just 192 pages, and is generally a quick read. It's composed of a series of short chapters about the time around the birth of each of Lewis' children. The stories are amusing, and the writing is up to his usual high standards. I laughed out loud several times while reading the book, as did my wife. There are a few things you should be aware of going in to it though.

First, this is largely material that's been recycled from the "Dad Again" series of articles he published on Slate just after the birth of his second and third children. It's not entirely old material, there are some new bits, but lets be clear, the vast majority of this is already available online.

Second, this is a parenting memoir, not a parenting how to book. This book isn't going to answer any questions about how to raise your kids. It is going to amuse you with stories of Lewis helping to raise his though, and for me that was more than enough.

So, if you're at all interested in some well written and highly amusing stories about Michael Lewis' experience as a new father, check this one out, either on Slate or in dead tree form. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Little Disturbing

We appear to have food in our house with an expiration date that's further away than the kid's due date.

Monday, February 23, 2009


If you haven't been lately, can I just say that the Boston Museum of Science remains awesome? Joanna and I made a quick stop on Saturday to see some of the newer exhibits that we hadn't seen yet, and it was a lot of fun.

The new Triceratops (Cliff) is quite awesome, well worth seeing if you're into that sort of thing (although he does make the old model of a Triceratops look kind of depressed next to the real one), and the temporary exhibits (Frogs and Mythical Creatures) were both also very cool. They have provided a dizzying array of interesting frogs, and the mythical creatures exhibit does a great job of explaining the root causes of all those mythical creatures you may remember from the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual.

Plus, if you go now you'll have the added bonus of not going on the last weekend of February break like we did, so the herds of screaming children will likely be a bit smaller.

Monday, February 2, 2009

FYI, Joanna and I will be busy from August 10th through 2027...

Figured some of you might be interested in hearing that Joanna and I are expecting a baby sometime on or around August 10th. We just had the first ultrasound today, and everything looks great. Two arms, two legs, a spinal cord, everything you could want from a -6 month old ;-)

Now if only the little bundle of joy to be would stop making Joanna nauseous all the time, then we'd really be getting somewhere...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Speech

While there are a great many things to love about Barack Obama's inaugural speech, there are two sections that stand out for me.

First, this paragraph:
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Second, this one:
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
There are few things that please me more than a new President who is willing to both put Science and Education in the place they belong and to acknowledge that not only do some people not believe in god, but that it's perfectly all right that they do not. The contempt that the previous administration held science and atheism in was reprehensible, and I'm glad to see that falling by the wayside as we move forward.