Monthly Maly Letter: Month 14

Dear Maly,

You turned 14-months-old a week and a half ago. I’m sorry this letter to you is late. We were on vacation in San Diego last week visiting your aunts, uncles and cousins.

I’m going to keep this particular letter to you short as I will have another one for you in the next couple weeks. Your major milestones for this past month were: 1) You’ve boycotted putting anything green into your mouth that isn’t dashed with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or drenched in ranch dressing. 2) You don’t like HEB’s Hill Country Fair ice cream. 3) Your poop still makes me gag despite my ever-growing, exponential love for you and everything that is non-poop-related. 4) Your first top tooth poked through. 5) You suffered from a minor bout with Roseola. 6) You fell onto your face and busted your lip which made your mouth swell enough to the point where I suffered from a day-long anxiety attack that left me gasping for air, and 7) You’ve grown up and out, learned to say “eye” and point when we ask you “where’s Daddy’s eye?”; “Mama” when we ask “where’s Mama?”; “Dada” when we ask, “where’s Daddy?”; “Burr” when we ask, “where’s the bird?”; “Baaa” when we ask, “where’s the ball?” and, on rare and beloved occasion, when I say, “give Daddy a kiss”, you pucker up, lean forward and give me a kiss.

You’ve become so interactive and responsive. You’re such a precious gift. I anxiously look forward to you growing and learning new things but, in the same breath, I want you to stay where you are — as my perfect little baby girl.

I love you, Sugar.



California Time

We spent all last week in southern California and had a blast. Elise, Maly and I (and probably Mom, too) are all suffering from the post-vacation blues. And what’s worse is that our internal clocks are still on Pacific Standard time.

We got up early last Friday and hit the airport. We flew into Houston where we had an hour layover. We had an early barbecue lunch at Harlan’s (last chance for authentic Texas food!) and then, by chance, found Mom walking to our departure gate while I was taking Maly for a stroll.

We were in the air for three hours. It felt like eight. Traveling with a 14-month-old made us “that family” to the other passengers on the plane.

My brother-in-law, Craig, picked us up at the airport in San Diego and drove us back to their house in Poway. Ron, my soon-to-be other brother-in-law and I grilled chicken breasts and hamburgers for Craig, Terri, Grant, Adam, Mom, Ron, Ron’s Mom, Lisa, Gavin, Elise, Maly and me.

We woke up early on Saturday. I cooked eggs and bagels for everyone and then Mom, Elise, Maly and me headed north to San Jacinto to see my brother, Chuck and his family. We went to Chili’s for lunch with Chuck, his wife, Lisa and my niece, Jessica. After lunch we went to WalMart to get Maly some toys and so Chuck could buy a jumbo blow-up pool. We went back to Chuck’s house where Chuck, Quincy, Micah and me setup the pool while the girls stayed inside in the AC and chatted.

For dinner I grilled a London broil, chicken breasts and corn on the cob. We chatted for a while after dinner, watched Ghostrider and played with Stanley. Stanley is my nephew-by-marriage who we were fortunate to meet for the first time. He has Cerebral Palsy and a love for life that has made me re-evaluate the things that are really important in life.

Elise, Maly, Mom and I drove into Hemet to stay at a motel for the evening.

We woke up on Sunday and had a Father’s Day breakfast at the local Denny’s. We then drove back to Chuck’s house and visited with everyone for a while. I was able to spend some time with Jessica — She showed us her Snoopy collection and her MySpace page. We had fried chicken for lunch and were able to catch the ice cream truck as it was passing through the street. Maly had her first neighborhood ice cream truck experience and she loved it!

We said our goodbyes and headed back south to Poway for the continuation of Father’s Day. We were driving Craig’s Lincoln LS and only 10 miles from their house when a portable gas tank flew out of the back of a truck. I had a fight or flight moment where I was given the choice of dodging the impending bomb and sideswiping another video on the busy 15 or to plow through. I opted for the latter. The tank got stuck underneath the car and when I was finally able to pull over, found that I did quite a number on the cars undercarriage.

We made it back to the Gainor house in Poway in time to help with dinner. I grilled tri-tip while Craig’s Mom, Gerri made a salad, Lisa made a green bean salad and Terri made a pasta salad. We ate by the pool and opened presents while the kids played.

Shorty after dinner I had to have a little alone time with Maly. I had suppressed my emotions all day as it was my first Father’s Day without having a Dad with me in person to celebrate. I gave Maly a bath and, with a frog in my throat, told her that I loved her a thousand times.

After putting Maly to bed and clearing my head for a while, the adults, Grant and Adam hung out in the hot tub for an hour. It was there that I taught my youngest nephew, Adam, how to spar. He did very well.

I didn’t do as well after trying to go to bed. I cried myself to sleep that night.

We woke up on Monday and Craig and Elise went for a jog while I cooked eggs for Maly. When Elise and Craig got home, everyone showered and then we headed out to the San Diego Zoo. We toured the zoo for a few hours and Maly was impressed with all of the the animals. We also took a guided bus tour of the zoo which allowed us to see all of the attractions.

After a long day, the girls all headed back to the house while Craig and I went to Fry’s to pick up a new digital camera, a couple Airport Expresses and a MacBook (Yeah, I ‘switched’ my brother-in-law [I got him to buy my sister an iBook a year ago as well]). I setup Airtunes at the Gainor house and showed my sister how to use her new camera with iPhoto. After a long day, we all watched MythBusters and hit the hay.

Craig had to go back to work and the rest of us stayed at the house and did absolutely nothing! It was awesome. We swam, hung out in the hot tub, and pummeled each other in the living room with Aqua Noodles. That afternoon Grant and I went bird hunting with BB guns on the horse trails behind the house. That night I was commissioned to cook. I made bay scallop and tiger shrimp stuffed chile and coffee rubbed pork loin with guajillo mashed potatoes.

Wednesday morning started with some hard training for yours truly. We came back to the house, showered and then we all headed over to Lisa’s house to start our day at the beach. After assembling our caravan, we stopped at Carl’s Jr. for burgers and then to La Jolla for a walk along the coast. We then drove out to Torrey Pines to hang out on the beach. Maly loved the ocean. She loved it so much that she wore herself out to the point where we thought she was getting sick. The cold Pacific waters wreaked havoc on my little girl and she fell asleep on Elise’s chest for almost an hour. When she woke up, she felt completely revitalized.

After the beach we all piled into the car and headed back to Lisa’s house for chicken fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar salad. After dinner we looked at photos of Ron and Lisa’s house in La Jolla that they just purchased. The Gainors and us headed back to Poway as the sun set. The boys and I stayed up watching re-runs of MythBusters and Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and then Craig and I played 80’s Pop Music Trivia with Elise (the artist and title information that my wife retained from the 80’s is scary).

On Thursday morning Terri announced that she had heard about some free LA Weight Loss consultation in town. So the girls went to that and then to Target while I stayed back at the house with Maly and Adam while Grant went to a Padres game with friends. After putting Maly down for her morning nap, the neighbor kids came over so I was then charged with supervising 5 kids all aged 8 and under.

The girls came back home within a couple hours. The adults ate lunch and then Elise and I took Maly out to swim with all of the kids. Adam and I played pirates with the neighbor kids and we protected our coveted inflatable raft schooner with aqua noodles and super soakers.

We took it easy for the remainder of the afternoon. Later that evening Elise and I went out on a date. Alone. We’d been looking forward to our date night all week. With the help of Terri we decided that we would drive into La Jolla and do some shopping, have a nice dinner and take a walk on the beach.

We got to La Jolla at 7:30 and quickly found a parking spot in the center of town. We walked up Prospect and found a souvenir shop where we bought Maly a San Diego t-shirt. Then we walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe where we got her another t-shirt.

For dinner we went to Roppongi for tapas:

Rock Shrimp and Fennel Tempura with Wasabi Aioli and Remoulade
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Hon Shimeji Mushrooms in Puff Pastry
Mongolian Shredded Duck Quesadilla with Spicy Asian Guacamole

And for dessert:

Tahitian Bananas served over Vanilla Gelato Topped with Crispy Almond Brittle

It was going on 10 p.m. when we were done with dinner. We were tired, full and it was too cold to walk to the beach. It was then that, without directly acknowledging it to one another, we resigned to the fact that we’re getting old — we’re 30-somethings with a 30 minute commute and a child who is going to wake us up early in the morning and will require more of us than just letting her out into the backyard to pee and find her own food.

All-in-all I think we were both just too tired. Although our vacation thus far had been very relaxing, we were still worn out from traveling and not being in our own environment.

We got back to the house at 10:30 to find Mom turning off the TV and heading to bed. We told her goodnight and Elise went to bed in our room shortly thereafter. I stayed up until midnight while wishfully shopping online for real estate in San Diego.

On Friday we dinked around the house most of the morning after breakfast. Terri took us all out for lunch at Point Loma Seafoods (excellent, must-have local fare) for lunch and then we all went to see the Cabrillo National Monument and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse for some local history and enlightenment.

We all headed over to Ron and Lisa’s house where we then caravaned over to the new house they recently purchased in the hills of La Jolla. After touring the new house, we all went back to Lisa’s house and ordered in from Pick Up Stix. The boys, Elise and Maly all swam in the pool before dinner.

After dinner I took Elise on a ride on Ron’s V-Star for a quick spin around the neighborhood. We came back to the house in time to say our goodbyes to Terri, Grant and Adam. They were heading back to Poway and Elise, Mom, Maly and me stayed with Lisa in San Diego so she could take us to the airport in the morning.

We stayed up for a while and I showed Lisa all of the pictures and video that had been taken over the course of the week. Ron’s son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law came over to do laundry and we all watched the Matrix on TV. Elise and I went to bed as our last night in southern California had come to an end.

Morning came early. We all got up, ate breakfast, took showers, got dressed and headed out at 9 a.m. for the airport with a quick stop at Vons for diapers for Maly.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We said our goodbyes to Lisa and I watched as she drove away. It seemed as if at that point, our vacation was officially over. I watched as part of the family that we had come to see traveled on and we were all thrust back into our normal lives. The immediate family that I was traveling with had yet to endure almost a full day of waiting in lines and sitting restlessly in airplane seats.

We sat in the airport and waited with Mom for the first leg of our flight to Houston. The ticket agent came over the loud speaker and announced that our flight was overbooked and would offer $200 in travel vouchers if anyone would be willing to wait an additional hour for the next departing flight. Elise and I were quick to offer our seats.

I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Maly and I went to the California Pizza Kitchen and split a Hawaiian Pizza.

Half an hour later, our original flight started boarding. We said our goodbyes to Mom and saw her off as she traveled alone back to Houston while we stayed back and waited on the next flight.

Since we forfeited our original seats, we were upgraded to first class — that was nice for the long leg of the trip back to Texas. We stretched our legs, watched “The Bridge to Terabithia”, let Maly play in the aisles and drank wine.

Surprisingly Maly did well on the 29 minute flight from Houston to Austin with help from the 15-year-old boy who she dutifully annoyed as he attempted to read his PC Gamer magazine.

We got home safely and put Maly to sleep. Elise and I stayed up until 2 a.m. because were still on California time. We all slept until 10 a.m. on Sunday because… yes, California time.

I got out of bed and tended to some house and yard work and then took the girls out for barbecue at Rudy’s. I know we all really miss the west coast and the gorgeous weather – but in that same breath, we missed our Texas barbecue.

We had a great time with family in California and it was really, really hard coming home.

I like California time.

Janicek's in San Diego
Click here to see the photos from our trip.

San Diego Staging: Stage 1.4

I just bought Cinderella from the iTunes Music/Movie Store. My plan is to keep a 14-month-old sustained on a 3-hour flight and to make sure that the rest of the family realizes that our daughter DOES NOT wear corduroy. Ever.

Heading to Sandy Yay Go

We’re heading out to San Diego bright and early tomorrow morning for a much-needed vacation. I was just sitting here thinking about the last time we took a long trip. It was when we spent a week in Des Moines for Christmas. The trip itself was great but the traveling part of the trip wasn’t. Between Mom, Elise, Maly and me, I think we had 29 bags, a pool table and an 80 gallon water heater all to get through airport security.

It should be a fun week. I say it should be a fun week because I have left all the planning up to the Logistics and Family Event Planning Director which means I’m just along for the ride. And to carry the pool table.

Life of Riley

This video really means something to us.  We thought we were going to have to put Riley down this week.  He slept in the garage on Friday night and when he came into the house on Saturday morning, he just wasn’t the same.  He’s been really sick since then and hasn’t eaten much of anything.

A lot of money later, a trip to the emergency vet on Sunday night, two trips to the vet, X-rays, bacterial tests, poking, prodding, force-feeding a cat that looked like he was on the verge of death and finally a penicillin shot today.  He’s looking like he’s on the road to recovery.  It still might be a long road ahead of us…

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Memorial Day anxiety attack

Last Monday was a day off from work. A day to relax and spend time with my family. I spent the better part of the day seriously contemplating having Elise take me to the emergency room.

We took Maly the neighborhood pool that morning. We played and laughed as it was Maly’s first time to be in a big pool.

As Elise swam laps, Maly and I played in the free swim area of the pool. I kept giving Maly inches of freedom and she eventually wanted to pull herself up out of the pool. I finally let her pull herself onto the concrete by the edge of the pool and she immediately started walking away. I immediately got out of the pool to follow her as I didn’t want her to get trampled or trip and hurt herself.

As soon as I got out of the pool, she circled around and headed right back for the pool. I jumped into the pool ahead of her and turned in time to catch her as she lunged herself at me.

Whew. A little stressful, but fun in the same breath.

I held Maly in the pool for barely a minute before she decided she wanted to be at the edge of the pool again. Given our previous experience just moments ago, I decided to let her pull herself out of the pool and I would just wait in the water for her to walk away and turn around to jump in with me again.

She pulled herself out and up to her feet. She walked a couple steps to her left and stuck her arms out in front of herself to push against the mesh canopy of her baby flotation raft that was sitting on the concrete. What she thought was a solid, rigid object that would support her full body weight weight was actually a flimsy cloth held taught by bendable plastic dows. She fell face first through the canopy and onto the concrete.

I heard a little pop that I think only a parent can hear when they witness their child’s face hit concrete at terminal velocity. I watched in awe as a part of my brain was attempting to convince me that she would be okay. That part of my brain waited until it heard the cry. Not the I’m Sleep, I’m Poopy, I’m Hungry or I’m Angry cry. It was I’m really Hurt, Something is Probably Broken and it’s All Your Fault cry.

I immediately reached out from the pool, picked her up and held her against my chest while holding her head down on my shoulder with my right hand.

She cried and cried and cried and tears of pain poured from her eyes.

Elise heard the crying, jumped out of the pool and took Maly from me. When she took Maly from my arms, a mouthful of blood fell onto my shoulder.

I followed quickly behind over to the chair where Elise was sitting and holding Maly so I could provide whatever support was deemed necessary. My support role became Emergency Popsicle Fetcher.

Maly cried even harder when she saw that I was walking away. That sound made the lump in my throat grow ten-fold.

I came back with a strawberry popsicle and that, we have learned, is the emergency fix for a busted lip.

Now that Maly was intent on her popsicle I was able to take stock on my daughters facial anatomy. It was at about that time when my anxiety attack started. Although we were able to determine that her top tooth was still intact and firmly mounted to her upper jaw, I just couldn’t get over the fact that my daughter was hurting.

Her upper lip was busted very badly which made it swell to point where Maly just didn’t look like Maly. In my heart of hearts I knew that she was going to be okay, but my mind ran the gamut of “what ifs”. I knew she was in pain and I wanted to take that pain away from her. I suppressed my desire to panic and just sat there and watched Elise hold the popsicle for daughter.

Even though things were going to be okay, I was still flooded with emotions and fright. She didn’t need to go to the doctor. She just needed to finish her popsicle and we could all go home and she could take a nap.

Still sitting there I looked at Maly and almost wanted to cry. I didn’t, but it suddenly became very hard for me to breathe, the base of my head, just behind both ears started to ache and my entire body began tingling.

We took Maly home and I put her down in her crib for a nap. An hour later she woke up and she acted and felt perfectly fine. We fed her lunch (which included another popsicle) and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping for furniture. Before we headed out, Maly’s swelling had gone down almost completely and she looked almost normal sans a red upper lip and a bruised nose.

I still had a hard time catching my breathe for the remainder of the day. Elise later told me that she caught a glimpse of me watching Maly while we gave her the emergency popsicle poolside. She said I turned white.

The only other time I have experience what I think was an anxiety attack was when my family was waiting in the car for me to drive us all to Dad’s memorial service.