Friday, December 26, 2008

Family’s First Christmas

A Merry Christmas indeed!  Time keeps flying though as Jack Jack’s already a month old.  We’re Christmas junkies as it is, pretty much going haywire every year with decorations, family dinners, parties, etc., but this year obviously added another dimension.

The temp is still sub-30, so the snow and ice remain.  And while it makes for some sketchy driving, the scenery isn’t bad.


The water “issue” behind us, or at least to the point that we have hot water again, Abby and I set out to have Christmas basically explode all over the house, have a few friends and family over, and just thoroughly enjoy the Holiday with Jack.  Hopefully, we’ll find some time between now and New Year’s for a little R&R.  But that’s a Christmas wish that’s not likely to happen.

Along with Grandma and Grandpa Rogers and Aunt Chelsea, we had our good friends Rick and Lori over on Christmas Eve with their new baby girl Emily who is a few days away from six months old.  Grandma, Grandpa, and Chelsea stayed the night, so I had my sous chef again for Christmas dinner…although we kept this a bit more low-key than Thanksgiving.

I know mom and dad had a blast, and I think Jack did too.  Granted, it was more for us than him, it’s another milestone first of our family.

Ho, ho, ho!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Exacts Its Pound of Flesh

Mother nature created quite a balancing act this year.  On the one hand, it looks like Jack’s first Christmas will be a white one.  Outstanding!   On the other hand, the temp has been so far below freezing that a water pipe busted at 3am on Sunday.  Definitely NOT outstanding! 

I have to give credit where it’s due here, as I was immensely impressed by the City of Bellevue who not only had the decency to answer my wee morning call with a live body, but sent a crew out within 15 minutes to shut off the water main at the street.  They helped keep a nasty situation from becoming truly disastrous given that the previous owner of our house, in an epically boneheaded move, had buried the water shut-off valve behind drywall – something we didn’t discover until days later.  Anyway, all that “fun” is worth a separate story.

Let’s just say, this isn’t the type of thing you want to see on the outside of your house:


And though I can’t stand shameless plugs, I have to give one here.  Right after the 3am call to the city, the 3:30am call to Beacon Plumbing went out.  Not only did the owner answer the phone himself (evidence of how much volume the weather was creating), he guaranteed a crew would be out by 7am – something no one else would do, if they even bothered to answer the phone.  I almost felt guilty when the guys had to spend another hour digging their truck out of our driveway. 


Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

We have so much to be thankful for, all the more true this year with Jack joining the family.  It’s hard to believe little man’s only (already?!) 10 days old.  It’s been non-stop action since we brought him home though…the parade of visitors, 3am feedings, etc, and now hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  This was, of course, by our own design since the idea of packing up to go anywhere with a not-yet-two-week-old had less than zero appeal.   But we wouldn’t change a thing. 

Jack spends most of his days sleeping, and despite a full house with plenty of noise, today was no different.  Every now and then he cracks an eye or two and joins in the festivities…


All in all though, a rather smooth day.  Abby had one “demand” with a late-November due date: “I want to spend Thanksgiving at home!”  So as promised, I spent the day in the kitchen.  If not for my trusty sous chef in Grandma Kristine, it wouldn’t have happened though (I’m not sure how Grandma feels about ever reprising that role though).


Just a low key night at home with family.  Now, family +1.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peanut’s Outta the Shell!

Introducing John Michael Mellon, our flawless new addition.  Baby “Jack,” as we’ll call him, joined us at 11:06 AM this morning, weighing in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and stretching out at 20 inches long.  Abby and Jack are doing well, both sleeping peacefully as I write this.  Stay tuned for more to come as time, picture aggregating, and exhaustion recovery allow.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It’s GO TIME!!!

Something told me I should stay home from work today.  But wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I head out for a few minutes to run a couple of errands, I get the call from Abby that her water broke!!!  It looks like little “Peanut” is set on making his or her grand entrance a few days early.  So after setting the land-speed record getting home, the car is packed and as soon as Abby’s out of the shower, we’ll be off to the hospital to welcome little “Peanut” into the world!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And Still Ticking…

Much to Abby’s frustration, there’s just doesn’t seem to be any movement. At least she started maternity leave yesterday, so there aren’t any more go-go-go-go 16 hour days.   Hopefully that means a little R&R before the REAL 16, 18, and 20-hour days begin.

Meanwhile, I’m being told to think “happy labor thoughts” since Abby’s ventured further down the path of “ready to meet Peanut” over the past few days.  I think it’s safe to say she’s reached the point of discomfort. 

Regardless, the bags are packed and in the car, the nursery’s ready, we’re as ready as we’re going to be (I think)…now, about Sam and Gracie…

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Clock’s Ticking

We’re getting down to the wire now…37 weeks today.  This past weekend was spent assembling all manner of baby-related paraphernalia, putting the finishing touches on the nursery, and trying desperately to get my “honey-do” list down to only ten pages.  My two epiphanies?  I’m now convinced we (and our overly generous friends and family) have effectively cemented Q4’s profits for Babies R’ Us.  And I’m now painfully aware of what the phrases “some assembly required” and “batteries not included” mean.  A sign of many holidays and birthdays to come I’m sure.

Meanwhile, Abby becomes even more of a stunning mom-to-be every day.  She’s had a great pregnancy and while she’s enjoyed almost every minute of it so far, I finally heard “You know, I think I’m done. I’m ready to meet Peanut.” yesterday.  The stiff joints and exhaustion of the final month are taking their toll.  And I’m sure 60+ hour work weeks she’s still putting in aren't doing her any favors either.  Then again, the words “go slow” just aren’t in her vocabulary.  After much hounding though, she’s moved up the start of her maternity leave to this Friday which couldn’t come soon enough for those who know “waiting patiently” is a tendency neither of us really  possess.  While our “official” due date isn’t until 11/23, something tells me we’ll be seeing Peanut a bit early.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's catch up...

It's been quite a year. No question about it. Let's see if we can cover the big stuff without rewriting War & Peace. Abby and I left for our latest overseas adventure on Valentine's Day, bound for Africa. After a quick pit stop in London, we spent the next three weeks traipsing about South Africa and Mozambique. The primary reason for the trip was for the wedding of our friends Katherine and Seth, who were married on the beach just north of Cape Town. The bonus was the week over the water in Mozambique...

...well, and of course the critters...

...and a few other views weren't bad either.

But the biggest news of all? Two went out, but three came back!

And now the real adventure begins.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Day 22 - Timbavati Reserve, South Africa

After leaving Entabeni early in the morning of the 8th for a three hour drive back to Jo'berg, we hopped a short flight to Nelspruit, the closest we could get to our destination of King's Camp in the Timbavati Reserve on the western edge of the Krueger National Park.  Nelspruit turned out to be about another three hours from King's Camp, but we did manage to arrive just in time for the afternoon game drive.  We had just enough time to drop our bags, change clothes, and hop in the Rover. 

Our ranger, Morné, introduced himself and off into the bush we went.  While Entabeni was much more open plains and grassland, Timbavati is dominated by scrub bush and small trees.  It's a tangled web of "roads" and double-tracks that had us completely turned around in circles, but Morné knew exactly where he was going.  We also had the benefit of a separate tracker this time, Selby, who perched himself in a little seat on the Rover's front bumper and scouted for tracks in the trail.  As it turned out, if Entabeni was to be our lion encounter, Timbavati and The Krueger would give us the rest of what we were after and then some.

Within ten minutes we had come across numerous herds of the usual kudu, springbok, etc., and even a massive water buffalo (check another one off the "big 5").  But Morné was on a mission to find a female leopard that had been spotted the day before.  Leopards are one of the most elusive animals to find as they are solitary hunters and quite content to remain hidden most of the time.  In the process of our search for her, a pack of roughly 30 elephants started walking across the road both in front and behind our Rover.  We were right in the middle of them, mostly female, nearly all enormous, but with a few babies hanging onto mama's tails as they wandered past.  One of the biggest even stopped in the middle of the road and turned toward us as if to pose.  No sooner had they passed by that we came across a handful of giraffe, peacefully gorging on their afternoon meal.  Then luck found us again.  As we drove forward, the female leopard several lodges in the Timbavati were simultaneously searching for just popped out in front of us on the road as if she was out for a casual evening stroll!  We tracked her for nearly a half hour, finally backing off so others in the area could move in for a view.  She was an absolutely magnificent creature.

Thoroughly satisfied with our first day's findings, we drove back to camp and, without question, the nicest accommodations we've had on this trip, or any other for that matter.  The staff and attention to detail here is nothing short of amazing.  Being relatively small, they can focus more attention on each guest, but as an example, we came back from the drive to found a hot bath already drawn for us and waiting.  After cleaning up, we were treating to yet another incredible meal and shipped off to bed in anticipation of Morné's 5:30am wake up call and our next morning drive.


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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Day 20-21 - Entabeni Game Reserve, South Africa

LIONS!  Alright, that's not completely fair as we did see some incredible animals in their natural habitat while here, but our "lion hunt" was one of the most unforgettable things we've ever experienced. 

We had a FULL travel day having left the Dolphin Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park in the morning, driven to meet up with the rest of the group in Plettenberg Bay (~1 hour), driven to the airport (~2 hours), flown to Jo'berg (~2 hours), then hopped the bus for our drive north to Entabeni (another ~4 hours), the first of two game reserves we'll be visiting.  Unfortunately, we arrived much too late for the evening game drive, so they stuffed us full of great food around 8pm and briefed us on the do's and don't's (e.g., no walking around the reserve - even to our cabins - without an escort...there are no fences).  We were then shipped off to bed with the news that a 5am wake up call would summon us for the morning drive.

The next morning after coffee (at 5:30am), we were lucky enough to climb into the Rover of the lead ranger, Jeffrey.  By the end of the day, he was our new best friend.  But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  We set off on the three hour morning drive in search of the high plateau game.  Not 60 seconds out of the front door and we came across small groups of gnu, or wildebeest, kudu, various boks, and other small antelope-type game.  A little less than an hour into it, we came across a pack of four white rhino munching on their morning grass.  Jeffrey drove up close enough that I can safely say rhino do not have the freshest of breath.  These were flat out massive animals, and when one started to square off on us, we quietly backed away and moved on.  Before the morning was over, we also came across a small group of giraffe, but they were a couple hundred meters away.

I think the translation of "safari" is "massive amounts of food interspersed with the search for animals."  We were fed WELL morning, noon, and night.  Now we know what being on a cruise must feel like.  The evening drive began about 4:30pm, and this time we were driving to the lower plains of the reserve about an hour away in search of the lion pride.  Great scenery on the way there, it wasn't long before we were running across more kudu and wildebeest herds.  Without any luck finding the lions, we stopped for an evening cocktail at sundown.  That's when Jeffrey went off tracking on his own.  We were barely out of the Rovers when we heard the lions roar off in the distance, less than 1000 meters away.  We packed it up quickly and while th e other groups went in separate directions along the main road, we drove headlong into the bush, directly toward the lions.  Completely offroad and virtually dark, we plowed forward through the bush, stopping periodically to wait for the lions to roar again and adjust our heading.  Jeffrey had Todd man the spotlight and scan the brush as we slowly made our way deeper into the bush.  After about 30 minutes, Todd passed the spotlight across a reflection that caught my eye and I pointed Jeffrey in that direction.  We drove forward about 75 meters when the head of a VERY large, but fortunately very sleepy, male lion popped up in our headlights as if to say, "Now who's disturbing my nap?!"

What an adrenaline rush!  It turned out we were within a stone's through from not one, but two males and one female, all peacefully napping.  Jeffrey figured they had eaten at some point that day and were quite content to have us park right alongside them.  It was a bit unnerving to a couple folks in the Rover...alright, they were petrified, certain we were about to be eaten.  But Abby and I couldn't unplaster the ear- to-ear grins off our faces.  Let's just say it took a LONG time to come down from the rush and fall asleep that night.

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