DC in July

We drove up to DC for a day last week to get Maximos his Australian passport for his trip Down Under in September.  Decided to walk over to show the kids the White House after the embassy and took some snapshots, followed by some Frozen Yo (free hot fudge!).  Yum.

Traveloguette: Milwaukee

Milwaukee CollageMilwaukee is a nice city. I enjoyed my visit there. It’s comparable to my hometown of St. Louis.  Both big beer cities.  Architecture is similar in that there’s Art Deco, postmodern, neoclassical (the beautiful Northwestern Mutual Building) among the mix. The citizens talk a little funny but I found them to be very friendly.

I was there for three days for a conference, but I tried to explore as much as I could between conference sessions and while suffering through yet another sinus infection.  I was downtown, so I was only able to hit a few places that I could get to on foot.

It’s a very walkable city and I was able to do the Riverwalk and take the obligatory snapshot of the “Bronze Fonz” on my way to the Milwaukee Ale House (very good beer and even better pot roast).  About the Riverwalk – there was a shuttered Borders in a prominent spot there on the banks.  Sad that the chain, my favorite for books, has gone out of business because that must have been a great place for a bookstore.

Like St. Louis, Milwaukee has a revitalized warehouse district.  The area is called the Historic Third Ward, but they’ve done it much better than St. Louis and it seems much more vibrant.  There are plenty of lofts, boutiques, art galleries, and cafes in the area, along with an Art Institute and the Milwaukee Public Market.  I had a nice doppio espresso there at a locally owned coffee shop on my way to the lake shore and the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM).

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to tour the MAM’s galleries (there was an exhibit of work from Wisconsin-born Frank Lloyd Wright at the time), but I did go into the lobby and it had a ultra-modern Clockwork Orange/2001 A Space Odyssey feel about it.  Lots of hard surfaces and white plastic.  Very cool with a view to Lake Michigan.  The shore area around the MAM also has a science museum (Discovery World) and a children’s museum and it looks like they hold festivals there quite often.  Adjacent to the MAM is the impressive Milwaukee War Memorial.

I also went the other direction on the Riverwalk to the Westown area and picked up a couple of Nubs at the Uhle Tobacco Company.  The shop appears to have been in business for decades.  Very cool and very nice people.

The conference I attended had a private event at a spy-themed restaurant and bar called the Safe House.  Interesting place that was hidden away and required a password to enter.  Complete with false walls and hidden booths.  Dropped in there for a beer and called it an early night to watch more bin-Laden-is-dead news and get some Robitussin-induced sleep.

On the other side, the only real shopping center downtown is the Shops of Grand Avenue and it reminds me of the now closed St. Louis Centre back home.  More than half the stores are shuttered and the the anchor is a department store called Boston Store which is like a poor man’s Macy’s with much less variety.  The mall in general is pretty depressing and the only activity in there occurs at lunch time since they have a decent food court, featuring a Culver’s (Butterburgers!).

I ended my stay with another private party, this one at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Pretty impressive museum.  Nothing cooler than a gathering at a closed-to-the-public museum.  Earlier this year, I attended one in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, so very lucky to have had that experience twice this year.

The unique and fairly new Harley-Davidson Museum was not too far away either, but I simply ran out of time.  Also would have liked to have visited the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and catch a Brewers game at their convertible stadium, Miller Park (they were on a road trip).

Maybe next time.  I look forward to visiting again.


The P6 Visit Santa 2010

After staying home for half the day to get our well fixed, we ventured out to Fashion Square Mall for our annual photo and visit with St. Nick. The twins were very hesitant, especially Sofia which shows in her expression in the photo, but in the end we got a decent picture and they all gave Santa a big hug and told him what they wanted for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to everyone from the P6.


November 16th is right around the corner – our littlest guy turns one. What an amazing year!
Maximos is One

Not Just Another Year

For my family that couldn’t attend, which basically means the entire family….
Best birthday ever because of the lovely wife and kids. Thanks to Anna K for giving Aussiegirl instructions on how to make an ice cream cake. Wish the Greek family were all still here to celebrate with us.

Babies Got a Brand New Swingset



The Gorilla playset kit (Sundance) wasn’t too tough to put together, with the exception of some weak hardware that stripped too easily. Probably the worst part was getting the landscape timber retaining walls up (12″ spikes….ugh) and working in the heat and humidity. Still have a few more timbers to lay, but pretty much completed.

A Sofia laugh and smile makes all the sweat worth it.

CNN – All Class

I seem to remember New Year’s Eve celebrations being pretty classy. A nice dinner, a few drinks, dancing, singing Auld Lang Syne….

Man, how things have changed.

CNN, who call themselves “The Most Trusted Name in News” showed us exactly how that has changed.

First, they brought in the vulgar Kathy Griffin (again) to co-host New Years Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper.  Cooper is widely known to be gay, though I appreciate that he doesn’t flaunt it, and Kathy  Griffin is some sort of gay icon evidently.  All this was augmented with a special correspondent reporting live from that famous hub of NYE celebrations – Key West, Florida.

See a pattern here?

To really bring the theme home, whenever they cut to the Key West correspondent, he reported in front of stage filled with prancing drag queens and male strippers, even interviewing a particularly hideous version of “Cher”.

Stay classy CNN.  Stay classy.

And that’s my first rant for 2010.  Happy New Year.

Maximos at 3 Weeks


First Snowman of the Season


The Amazing, Incredible Fart


I never thought I’d be so happy to hear about a fart.  At least not since I was like eight years old.

I was at home last night experiencing one of the worst and scariest days of my life.

Carolyn had given birth to our fourth child, Max, on Monday, two days before.  She had lost a good amount of blood during the C-section delivery. An artery was lacerated in addition to the normal blood loss during a major surgery such as this.

Post operatively, Carolyn had a consistently low red blood cell count (hematocrit), was displaying an increasingly distended belly, and was not moving anything through her bowels.  At one point, her blood pressure dipped so low that they had to transfuse her with two bags/units of blood.  The worst part was that she was in a lot of pain, both in her belly and a sharp referred pain that shot up into her shoulder and neck area.

The wonderful doctors at University of Virginia Medical Center explained the possible reasons for the symptoms and it was looking a lot like there was either a postoperative ileus (a sort of paralysis of the intestine), a bowel obstruction, or a twisted bowel.  If you Google bowel obstruction or twisted bowel, you can see why we were all so worried.  Things like perforated bowels, high risk surgery, necrosis of the intestine, and life-threatening are mentioned.

It didn’t allay my fears when I read that singer Maurice Gibb died of complications resulting from a twisted bowel.

Unfortunately, I had to leave her that afternoon to care for the other three kids at home.

Meanwhile, Carolyn was moved back to the Labor and Delivery Ward to be closer to the operating room and was visited by the general surgeons.

The medical staff performed a couple of x-rays that identified gas pockets in the bowels and she was put on NPO (nil per os or “nothing by mouth”) in case there was a blockage which could lead to a rupture.  A three dimensional CT scan was to be done early Thursday morning to check for any obstruction or twisting.  The regular 2D x-ray would not see those evidently.

I was about 20 miles away and it could have been 20,000.  I felt sick and helpless.

My saint of a Mom called me around midnight and told me that her and my Dad were getting in the car and driving from St. Louis immediately.  My Dad had insisted.  My Mom, by the way had flown over several days earlier and returned to St. Louis when everything seemed to be getting better.They arrived about 15 hours later, with no sleep.  They’re the best.

Then, I got the magical phone call from Carolyn around 1 am Thursday morning.

She had farted!

Gas was indeed moving through those bowels.  After almost three days of inactivity.  The best sign that her intestines were not blocked.  I can’t explain what a relief that was, pardon the pun

That’s why this fart was so amazing and incredible.

Our prayers were answered.

The CT scan was called off and Carolyn has been improving (and farting) ever since.

She should be discharged with our newborn son, Max, on Friday afternoon.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers and support.  I may ask for continued prayers because Carolyn may want to murder me for this blog post.