Archive for September, 2008


Taking a break from all your worries

September 5, 2008

So, after losing my job on August 15th, the very next thing we did was leave on the 16th to spend eight hours on a plane with a five-month old baby followed by 10 days with my family, followed by another eight hours back on another plane with the same five-month old baby.

(wait for it…..)


Ok, seriously, by coincidence we had already planned a trip to Boston leaving on August 16th, so when I got the good news about my extended vacation starting on the 15th, we chalked it up to fate and headed out.

[WARNING: What follows below is a long, long blog post about our visit with my family.  If you are not one of them or have never met them, I recommend you skip this post and find something else to do.  Like maybe check out the archives and read about some of our previous vacations.  Or our most popular post ever.  Or maybe just read some other more interesting blog. ]

So, as I said, we left for Boston on August 16th.  We decided to fly during the day, since this was Sophie’s first flight.  We gave some thought to taking the red-eye, with the hope that she would sleep the whole way.  But we figured if she didn’t sleep and decided to spend the whole flight testing out her lung capacity, we would anger fewer people trying to sleep.  Here Sophie shows us how the whole flying thing works:

From 2008-08-16 Boston

Debbie managed to sweet talk the gate agent into moving the person in the middle seat in our row, leaving the only empty seat on the whole plane between us.  So we set up a little nest for Sophie and she actually managed to sleep for a good part of the flight.

After a quick layover in Detroit, we got on our flight to Boston.  This flight wasn’t quite as full, so we managed another empty seat for Sophie.

We finally got to Boston without any major problems.  Sophie got to meet her Grampy for the first time (It took her a few minutes to warm up, as it does with anyone new) and very quickly had him wrapped around her tiny little finger.

The next morning she got to meet the rest of my brothers and sisters-in-law (and Erin 🙂  I won’t post pictures of all of them in the post, but check out the full album at the end.)  The reason we were all together on Sunday morning was for a family portrait!  The last time we had done this was back in August of 2000.  Since then we have added three wives, one girlfriend, and three children, for a total of sixteen people.  After much hand-wringing about what everyone should wear, and the photographer yelling “boogie” about 10,000 times, we finally did manage to get a reasonable picture:

To help everyone decompress from the stress of our big photo shoot, my brother Brian and his wife Karen had us all over to their house for a little cookout.

The next day my mom had another party so some of my aunts and uncles and cousins could come meet Sophie.  As per her ususal routine she didn’t like to be held by anyone at first, but after a few minutes she warmed right up and was the center of attention:

On Tuesday, we decided to get out of the house and play tourist by going over to Salem.  We went over to the Salem Willows, which is a nice park on the ocean.  There are some small arcades and ice cream shops, along with some great views of the shoreline.

On Wednesday we went over to Endicott park in Danvers with Karen and her kids.  Endicott park is a large park (165 acres) which contains a bunch of activities to keep the kids occupied, including a large group of play structures, a pond, old barns with farm animals and lots of open space and picnic areas.  We spent most of the day trying to keep up with the kids as they ran around all afternoon.

Thursday found us heading up to New Hampshire to visit my brother Stephen and his wife Amy.  They live about an hour north of my parents.  Stephen, Sophie and I spent the afternoon hanging out waiting for his new sofas to be delivered while Debbie and Auntie Amy went off to the outlet malls for a little shopping and some lobster rolls.  (For those of you unfamiliar with the lobster roll, basically you take some lobster meat, mix it with some mayo, celery, onion, etc. and then stuff it into a hot dog roll toasted with about a stick of butter.  Yummy.)

After spending the night (Sophie slept like a champ in the pack-n-play) we had breakfast at a great little local restaurant (Debbie had the lobster omelet) and headed back down to Peabody.

By Friday night we needed a break from all of my family, so we came up with a great idea – go visit Debbie’s family!  Debbie’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Iris live in Newton, which is just west of Boston.  Debbie’s cousin Nathan and cousin Miriam along with her husband Nate were there as well.

We had a very nice dinner and hung out as long as we could before Sophie went into meltdown.  They did give Sophie this really cool puppet of a rabbit in a magician’s hat.  Thanks guys!

On Saturday my good friends and former college roommates Jack and Stacey drove up from New Jersey with their daughters Lizzie and Allie to meet Sophie.  We just hung out and went to dinner on Saturday, but on Sunday we all drove into Boston to go to the New England Aquarium.  We stopped at Quincy Market first for a little breakfast, but then it was off to see the fishes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there since I was a kid, but it’s still cool to see that huge central tank.  And they have added some new exhibits, including a tank where you can pet sharks and sting rays.

Sunday afternoon brought a surprise last minute visit from my cousins Maureen and Sharon, along with Sharon’s kids Andrew and Kristen.  I used to babysit for Andrew and Kristen back in high school when they were babies, so it was neat to see them as adults with Sophie.  (Of course it made me feel really OLD too!)

Sunday night was our last night in Boston, and as has become a mini-tradition, we spent it at my brother Brian’s house.  He had set up a little fire pit in his backyard, and we spent a few hours hanging out getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Finally on Monday it was time to go home.  We said our goodbyes and hopped on a plane to Minneapolis.  Once again Debbie was able to charm the gate agent to moving the person in the seat between us somewhere else (Actually, I believe the gate agent said to the man “Sir, you are seated between this woman and her five month old baby and her husband, or I can give you a window seat in an exit row.  He chose wisely.)  We were hoping to be able to squeeze in a quick visit with Uncle Dale and Auntie Jess but it didn’t work out, so we had to settle for Snoopy.

Our last leg home was the most exhausting.  We didn’t have an empty seat, and everyone was worn out.  Sophie was not happy to have to sleep while Debbie held her, but after a little crying did manage to get some sleep.  Luckily, the woman seated with us was a grandma and was on her way to visit her grandson for his first birthday, so she was very understanding.

Finally we landed back in San Diego. Auntie Niki was kind enough to come and fetch us at the airport (after getting up at 5 am to drop us off) and we were finally home again!

For those of you who managed to read this far, here is the link to the full album, all 188 photos!


Take this job and . . .

September 5, 2008

. . . involuntarily separate me from it!  Yes, for those of you who haven’t heard yet, after nine long years of thankless, back-breaking labor on my part, HSBC has decided to shut down the Auto Finance unit and as of August 15th I am officially unemployed.

I’m sure I’ll get into more detail about what this means in future posts, but for now it means that Debbie is going back to work for three days a week so at least we can have benefits and some income.  And I’ll be staying home to take care of Sophie!

Here’s some photos of my final lunch and happy hour with some (former) co-workers:

From 2008-08-15 Last Day at Work
From 2008-08-15 Last Day at Work

So, if anyone knows of a great Risk Manager position open in the San Diego area, let me know!

P.S. This photo is a good example of why I’m not too sad about the end of HSBC Auto.  This is an actual sign they had to put up in the men’s room.  You can imagine what this implies about the quality of some of the folks working there!

From 2008-08-15 Last Day at Work

Sophie has a drinking problem….

September 1, 2008

….she doesn’t know how to keep her lips together!  We decided to try to get Sophie to drink from a sippy cup for the first time, and the results were a little soggy.

She seemed to really enjoy attempting to drink from the cup, but she didn’t really catch on to the fact that you have to close you mouth when it’s full of water or else it will spill all over your shirt!

(Stay tuned to this blog, because in the very near future we’ll be attempting to feed Sophie solid food for the first time!)

We also received some wonderful gifts from the great state of Vermont.  My Aunt Denise sent us a beautiful baby quilt that my Grandmother had sewn for Sophie.  It is about 3 foot square and has four blocks in the middle that spell out “baby.”  (It’s hard to see in the photo because that’s where Sophie is sitting.)  She also sent us a bunch of baby books that belonged to her when she was Sophie’s age.  These are great because Sophie already loves when we read to her.  (Although I don’t think we’ll let her slobber all over these like she does to some of her books!)

And of course I have included a bunch of cute Sophie pictures:

Here’s a link to the full album:

2008-08-13 Sophie’s First Cup