Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ann and JD storm the Big Apple for the Big Anniversary

Well, I don't know how big the 6th anniversary is supposed to be, but for us it was a biggie—we took our annual anniversary trip farther afield this year and jetted north for a long weekend in the Big Apple.

We got a fantastic room at the corner of 7th and 57th, just a few yards away from the notorious Carnegie Deli. And we escaped most of the first day's rain inside the MOMA. But it was on the morning of our anniversary that our trip really got going. Ann got me up early and dragged me to church at St. Patrick's on 5th, across from Rockefeller Center.

After church, we got our first great surprise of the trip: The Big Onion's eating tour of the Lower East Side. It was a great walking multi-ethnic eating tour that served up fried plantains (Dominican); kosher pickles (Jewish); halva (Yiddish); sweet and spicy tofu (Chinese); dried rose petals and dried plums (Chinese); soppressata (Italian cured meat), fresh mozzarella, and parmesan reggiano (Italian cheeses); and finally canolli (Italian). Yum!

The trip also gave me the chance to satisfy my twice denied (1999 and 2005) goal of mounting the Empire State Building. I was determined to hit the Empire State Building at my first sunny opportunity. And after a short two hour queue that snaked through the guts of the building we finally made it.

Then came our second great surprise of the trip. After the Empire State Building, we decided to walk back to the hotel only to discover that Times Square had recently been cleared of Broadway vehicle traffic, making it a great big pedestrian mall. Very cool! And on that particular Saturday, Broadway's pedestrian market stretched over seven blocks all the way back to our hotel.

The second day started with our third great surprise: a walk along the newly opened Highline from the Village to Chelsea. Then we rode the subway up to the Natural History Museum so Ann could see the dinosaurs and I could see the Hayden Sphere. And after a walk back through the park we stopped for the best Reeses and Oreo cupcakes ever and headed out to see the hilarious God of Carnage down on Broadway.

But I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention Ann's celebrity sighting's. On our way to the theater, we stopped and had the best burger in New York at Burger Stand in the Le Parker Meridien. While I ran off to the ATM, Ann ran into the Phillies arriving for the World Series. Just the night before she ran into Ashton Kutcher the night before in that exact same spot. One of these sightings made a slightly larger impression on Ann than the other.

And we closed the trip perfectly: a post-show hop up to the Top of the Rock to enjoy the view and a pre-flight morning trip up to one of New York's great unknown museums, The Cloisters (so unknown I had to give the driver directions).

It was a fantastic anniversary all around. Ann and I love New York and can't wait to get back there sometime soon. It'll be blast to introduce Jack to the city when the time is right!

Enjoy some pics from the trip:

A shadow of the Empire State Building

Ann and JD shooting each other in Times Square

Ann on the Highline

Some cool chairs on rails on the Highline

Being goofs on the Highline

Ann at the Natural History Museum

Ann relaxing at Central Park's Sheep Meadow

Ann and JD shooting each other (again) in the park

One of the cloisters brought over stone by stone from Europe

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Summer Ends at the Beach

To wrap up this past summer, we took a trip back to our new favorite beach, Carillon Beach near Panama City Beach. We were looking forward to properly introducing the 'lil sir to the beach and gulf (last time, he was a little young and the weather, a little cold) and to a relaxing week away from the hubbub in Atlanta.

We went with Patrick, Pam, and their one-year old son, Noah. It was great to see the kids playing (as much as two toddlers play with each other and not just near each other). Noah was on the verge of walking when we set out for Florida and we all agree that it was Jack's constant running around him (and into him) that encouraged Noah to take those first few steps while we were there.

But walk as the kids might, neither of them much cared for the beach. Both boys loved the water (though Jack didn't like getting splashed in the face) but at first encounter both Jack and Noah were terrified of sand. It took our 'lil guy a few days to warm up to the silicate stuff enough to walk down to the waterline hand-in-hand with daddy.

One of the best parts of the trip was Jack's introduction to the slide—an oft-repeated activity, since. His initial hesitation was quickly overcome by overwhelming joy. We released his inner dare devil, then. It hasn't come back in since.

The most surprising development, though, was the revelation that Jack is bilingual. He'd been handing us toys and asking us to "Abee" them. It wasn't until we saw him playing with his Spanish-language piggy bank that we put two-and-two together. Next time you see Jack, test him yourself. Ask him to "Abierta" something and he'll open it right up.

We had a great time. Sea. Surf. Good friends. Good food. Good books. Oh, and beer. Yummy.

Enjoy some pics.

Jack figured out how to climb into the rockers

Jack's got the strut

Playing on the Carillon playground

Slides = Awesome

Ann and Jack playing in the pool

Jack and JD standing in the surf

JD and Jack out at sunset

Gettin' some last sun

Jack at 18 months!

This summer was a whirlwind, and not just cause Jack started running circles around us. There was JD's new job, the never-ending bathroom remodeling project, a trip to Albany for the twins' birthday, lots of trips around town, lots of company, that weekend with the rooftop pool, the Inman Park Festival, a couple parties for flavah, and, thankfully, lots of time to hang out and enjoy being a 'lil family.

But enough of that. This is a post about Jack.

For those keeping score at home, the 'lil sir weighed in on his 18 month-iversary at a whopping 27.6 pounds (70+ percentile) and a enormous 3 feet tall (99 percentile). So based on his current sustained rate of growth, if Jack continues to gain nine pounds every six months, and to add better than a foot of height every year and half, than by 18 he'll weight 333 pounds and stand approximately 20 feet tall. Hello, fat NBA money...

But in all seriousness, the little man has grown by leaps and bounds since his first birthday. Thinking back on that cake- and wrapping-paper-strewn day, it's hard to remember Jack before he could run, eat restaurant food, play ball, or ride a slide. Harder still to remember his primitive vocabulary. This kid can talk your ears off, now.

So, without further ado, the fan favorite: Jack's list of first over the last six months (it'll seem doubly impressive cause we waited so long to post about them):
  • His first steps. This kid can walk, run, dance, spin—lateral mobility has been conquered.
  • His first girlfriend: Emma, at school. They hug, knock each other over, and scream. And he says her name incessantly, even now that they're not in the same class anymore. Good times.
  • His first (second, third, fourth...) toy ball: Another favorite word to yell, "BAAAAAAAALL!"
  • His first chair: Pottery Barn Kids' Anywhere Chair. It doubles as a slide and trampoline.
  • His first Facebook message, to Chris.
  • His first climb up the stairs.
  • His first (of many) hilarious belly-slides down them.
  • His first (and second) trip to a museum, to see the terracotta warriors and King Tut.
  • His first bath in a bathtub—he'd been in the sink for better than a year.
  • His first climb up onto the couch, coffee table, rocking chair, cooler, subwoofer...
  • His first crayon masterpiece.
  • His first tickle (of mommy).
  • His first kids meal (Buffalo Wild Wings).
  • His first change of the channel (and volume, and parental settings) with the remote.
His love of books has also grown. As has his love of destroying them. And as his vocabulary has grown, so too has his appetite. Jack, like all proper Jordans and Kitchens before him, is a meat and potatoes kinda kid. He likes nothing more than to stuff his face with bread, french fries, and hamburger meat. Oh, the lifetime of meals we shall devour together!

The last second six months have been eventful, to say the least. And somewhere between those first shuffling, lunging steps and running down the dog, Jack became a little boy—a perpetually happy and utterly delightful kid who has exceeded all our expectations. And we're a better little family for it.

Keep up the good work, 'lil sir.

Enjoy some pics from the last six:

Jack in his notoriously awesome hat

Jack and Ann during the boy's first trip to Manuel's

Drinkin' off the back of a milk cow in Albany

(there's no depth perception in a viewfinder!)

Playing with mommy in his chair

...and crashing on her

Jack and Ann playing at the Roswell Area Park

And discovering the art of tickling