Posted by & filed under awesome, baby, family.

Ginelle Grace Robleto

Ginelle Grace Robleto

At 6:45am on Friday May 25th, everything in our world changed completely… again. After 23 hours in the hospital, Selena delivered a beautiful and healthy baby girl – seven pounds, 12 ounces.

We named her Ginelle Grace Robleto.

Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully. Here are many many pictures of Ginelle when she first arrived.

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Ginelle is born, a set on Flickr.

Posted by & filed under awesome, birthday.

Kaylee on her 2nd birthday

Kaylee on her 2nd birthday

There were balloons, a pile of presents, and Kai Lan themed banners and lanterns and gift bags for the kids. There was Chic-Fil-A nuggets, homemade Mac & Cheese and Chinese noodles along with cookies, chips and cupcakes, one that had a little number “2” on it. It was Kaylee’s second birthday party, and we celebrated in style, not with all of Selena and my friends, but primarily with the friends who had little ones of a similar age and the immediate family including my dad and stepmom who were into town from Florida. The pictures tell a far better story than I can narrate so I’ll let them do the rest of the talking from here. Enjoy.

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Kaylee’s 2nd Birthday, a set on Flickr.

Posted by & filed under awesome, holiday, starwars.

 

Kaylee Yoda

Kaylee Yoda

 

My co-workers all know me as the guy obsessed with Star Wars, (well one of the guys, I do work for in technology), that is why my co-worker Katrina knew I would just love a Santa hat with Yoda ears sticking out of it for Kaylee. And I do, it is a great gift.

Kaylee, however, is not so big on wearing hats… ever. So it was a real challenge to get her to put on the Santa Yoda ears even long enough to snap a photo. We finally succeeded about six weeks after Christmas, right before we were going to put all the holiday stuff in the attic. Kaylee was in a tolerant mood one morning and I was able to get her to wear the hat for just a moment and took the picture.

Posted by & filed under awesome, vacation.

Disney's Newsies - one of Selena's secret indulgences

Disney’s Newsies – one of Selena’s secret indulgences

A Babymoon is one last vacation for the parents before the baby arrives. When Kaylee was due, I was fortunate enough to win the Fool’s Errand from my work and that gave us two weeks of forced vacation, so we went to the Florida Keys and Disney World as our last trip before becoming a family.

With the second one due in May, knowing it will be a challenge to have any sort of vacation this year, I wanted to plan a special getaway to celebrate Selena and going through all the trials and challenges of being pregnant again to bring our second wonderful little one into this world.

So, I called grandmom and asked her to watch Kaylee so I could take Selena on a weekend away later this Spring to New York City. Typical trips to NYC for us are off the beaten path, in the Villiage or out in Brooklyn, but for this trip, I went straight into the heart of the touristy version of New York City – Times Square. We will be staying at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and sitting second row to see Disney’s Newsies, which was one of Selena’s favorite movies as a kid.

Yes, it’s extremely cliche New York, but since we do midtown so infrequently, it’s a bit novel for us, and will make for a memorable babymoon getaway, the last opportunity to do so before we have two little ones under our roof.

Posted by & filed under reading.

Grover getting frustrated in A Monster at the End of this Book

Grover getting frustrated in A Monster at the End of this Book

A year or so ago, my book club trying to stay connected but recognizing it’s tough to find time to read around the holidays came up with an interesting idea. Instead of all reading the same bestseller and discussing, instead we would each bring in a favorite book from our childhood with a prepared book report to share with the club. This was my report on one of most cherished books from when I was very little – The Monster at the End of this Book.

The Monster at the End of this Book

Setting

The most meta of children’s book, the action actually takes place within the page of the book that you hold in your hand.

Characters

The protagonist is lovable furry old Grover, an established empathetic anti-hero. There are two sub-characters referenced, 1) the monster, a one dimensional embodiment of all our fears, and 2) the reader (you), described as determined and surprisingly strong.

Main Events

Fearful of the lurking monster, Grover undertakes a series of actions to try to keep the pages of the book from being turned from tying and nailing them together to building a brick wall.

Problem

Grover so strongly fears the impending monster that at the onset is announced to be coming at the end of the book, that he spirals through the five signs of grief: denial that it is inevitable that the pages of the book will be turned, anger at the reader doing so and hastening the appearance of the monster; bargaining to stop the reader from continuing on, depression at the realization the end of the book is; near and finally acceptance upon reaching the end.

The reader has his own conflict, wanting to continue on reading to see how this action will resolve, while knowing with each page turn he is causing more distress for our lovable character, Grover.

Conclusion

This very meta book has one more meta twist in store at the end, the monster that throughout has been the catalyst for tensions and strife turns out to be no more than a technical classification of our anti-hero Grover. He is the monster after all.

Did You Like This Book

This imaginatively book was my favorite as a kid because it engages with the reader so directly and addresses the topic of fear with humor and charm.

Posted by & filed under home.

A couple months’ back we visited our friends Doug and Kristy who have a new house and new baby. I had heard that Doug had been doing some work on his home, but when we saw it firsthand, I was stunned. The house was amazing and the amount of effort Doug had put in was impressive.

I resolved then and there to no longer put off house projects, at least out of ignorance. I would determine how to get things done and then go out and do them. It was about six weeks until we were having a lot of family over for Thanksgiving, I had to get started.

The problem quickly became apparent that I “started” too many projects at the same time. In the 3-4 weeks of November, leading up to Thanksgiving:

  • I was resealing and repainting the deck (two separate colors for railings and surfaces)
  • I was repainting the living room, dining room and hallways
  • I had hired a contractor to add a shower to our basement bathroom that required completely overhauling that bathroom
  • I had ordered new kitchen appliances, so the old ones needed to be cleared out
  • I had installed 3 new light fixtures
  • I had reorganized the basement to make a separate playroom for Kaylee and  man cave for me
  • In the reorganizing process, I had decluttered the basement and had two full loads to donate to Goodwill

I was working every night after putting Kaylee to bed, I’d put in 4-5 hours on the house. It was exhausting and straining but eventually successful. We got all the changes done by Thanksgiving (some actually on Thanksgiving as company in town for Turkey day helped get the final pictures back up on the walls).

Once the holiday was over, I promised Selena (and myself) that I was going to take a break. So ww took the past two months off from the home, but will be getting back to it in earnest now. We still need to make room for baby #2.

Posted by & filed under games.

The Resistance

The Resistance

Over Thanksgiving we bought a new game called The Resistance. It’s sort of a card game, but that’s even being extravagant, cause you could recreate the whole game with scraps of paper. It’s very simple structurally.

Each person playing is either a member of the Resistance or a spy. The game involves suggesting a mission team, getting it approved, sending them on their mission and hoping a spy wasn’t sent who would sabotage the effort. If there are 3 success missions, the Resistance wins. If there are 3 sabotages, the spies have prevailed.

We added one element to the game that you have to define the mission for this Resistance fighting force to go on. That has quickly become the best part of the game, suggesting your mission and explaining how it will further the Resistance.  Previous missions include:

  • Ringing the President’s doorbell and running away
  • Designing a new logo for The Resistance (a new primary font as well)
  • Following the President around when he walks his dog, and replacing the poo he picks up with new poo so the public turns on him cause he doesn’t clean up after his dog.
  • Removing all cat videos from the Internet
  • Reprogramming the President’s TiVo so he’ll miss all his favorite shows, and
  • Writing a Resistance sexual harassment policy document

As you can imagine, it adds a new level of hilarity to what it supposed to be a fairly intense game. We’ll be happy to pla it with you, just let us know when you want to join The Resistance!

Posted by & filed under wedding.

Jeff and Katie at their banquet

Jeff and Katie at their banquet

Back in July, Selena and Kaylee and I went out to California for my brother Jeff and my now sister Katie’s wedding. It was a fantastic experience, but not one shared by all that many people. A lot of folks couldn’t get across the country this summer, so Jeff and Katie through a second reception the weekend after Thanksgiving giving the family and friends that weren’t with them the first time a chance to celebrate closer to home.

The reception consisted of a cocktail hour and a dinner then dancing at the beautiful Hartfeld club near Hockessin, DE (where I grew up). Katie wore her wedding dress again, and Jeff re-rented the same tux. We also dressed Kaylee in the same adorable dress she had worn as the flower girl.

It was a very different reception from the first, in part because so many of my family were there and they know how to take over the dance floor, which wasn’t as prominent in California, but moreover because since July, Kaylee has learned to walk – more than walk, she can motor around at surprising speed. So I’m spent a fair amount of the evening following her wherever she led, sometimes to the bar, sometimes to the dance floor and often to people she can call by name like Mommy and Grandma or Poppop.

When not chasing Kaylee, I did have the opportunity to indulge on the food which was amazing (the pasta station was soooo good) and catch up with family and friends a little, but there is never enough time for that. I still feel bad that cousins came in from north Jersey that I hadn’t seen in forever and I got little more than got a quick hello with them all evening. Weddings just go by too fast.

Maybe, I’ll get more time with them more at Jeff and Katie’s next wedding. I mean, why stop at a mere two receptions, right? They haven’t even experienced getting married in the Spring, that’s got to be different enough to warrant another party. I’ll have to bring that idea up to them when I see them next.

Posted by & filed under home.

Selena in her VW Bug

Selena in her VW Bug

The flip side of getting the new Mazda was that we had to let go of the VW Beetle. We would rather have traded in the Jeep which is older with way more miles, but since we had the hardest time fitting Selena and I and Kaylee with the baby stuff in the VW car already, it would be rendered mostly unusable once the second child arrives.

Still it was hard to accept letting it go. Selena had that car for eight years, and took great care of it. She loved having that car, it was one of her horcruxes (she decided years ago when we read the final Harry Potter and decided to list out our own).

We may have caved and held onto it just as a fun car, except that my aunt and uncle, recent empty nesters, got in touch with us saying how they were looking for a smaller fun car themselves and were thinking of a VW Beetle. In a moment right out of the finale of Toy Story 3, knowing the car was going to a good home, we agreed to sell the car to them. They drove up at Thanksgiving and drove home the happy new owners of the silver VW convertible.

Posted by & filed under awesome.

Our New 2012 Mazda3

Our New 2012 Mazda3

Have you seen our new car? That is it right there.

We were looking for a new car with four-doors and a big enough trunk to handle our growing family, but was still able to get great gas mileage so I could drive it from Rockville to Alexandria and back each day.  So we went with the hatchback that has plenty of room for strollers and things, but also the new 2012 model that includes the Skyactiv engine technology which allows the car to jump to near 40mpg when on highways. I’ve already seen the difference in how much we’re (not) spending on gas each week.

A late addition to the must-have list (that I didn’t even know I had to have until I noticed it during the test-drive) was Bluetooth integration so I could listen to podcasts and music as well as take and receive phone calls in the car without extra equipment. I am loving this feature.

I’ve never bought a new car before, so when they handed over the keys and I looked at the odometer and it said 11, I found that just remarkable (especially since at least 4 of those were from our test drive).