Thursday, October 29, 2009

Evie's Portraits

Tonight we finally took Genevie for some professional photographs. Although part of me felt bad that we'd waited this long, I think it actually was a wise decision. She's at an age now which is so interactive and adorable. Every day I think she can't get cuter, and then she does.

The photographer captured so many beautiful poses, we had a hard time narrowing it down to the ones we chose. Thank goodness for the fabulous coupon deal I got online. The rest of the pictures can be found in the new album in the sidebar. Check them out for yourself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Rainy Season

Photo courtesy of Victor Bezrukov at flickr.

Apparently the work day is full of the same mundane anecdotes that the stay-at-home day is. I find many of the most interesting observations come during my walk to and from the subway or during my time on the train. I've taken to knitting again on the train and am well on my way to finishing a winter hat for Davis. Evidently knitting bridges the communication divide which often separates commuters who are otherwise jammed onto a train pretending the others don't exist, plugged into various forms of media or busy reading because now I've now had two different men strike up conversations about my knitting. One man was sitting next to me and wanted to tell me all about his mother who used to knit. The other came over and offered me his sister's card, saying she led a knitting group in South Jersey.

With the recent rain we've been having, I've spent more time walking underground to avoid the wet. So, too, have the pigeons. Yesterday as I trudged my way to the train watching overzealous skateboarders use the smooth surface of these underground passageways to practice their moves, deafening the rest of us with the reverberating crash when those moves didn't quite pan out, out of the corner of my eye I noticed black bundles lined up in a row. I turned to take a closer look and those black bundles turned out to be pigeons. I guess the pervasive damp had gotten to them and all the dry eaves in the city were sublet. These resourceful foul and set up home each on a slab of concrete, graciously granting their fellow pigeons a wide 2 foot berth so as not to overcrowd. I kicked myself that I didn't have the camera with me. It was the funniest site, six or so pigeons all in a row fluffed and snoozing comfortably.

Don't forget the contest is still on. Make your guess and you could win a Slinky Dog Bank.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toy Story

As I mentioned yesterday, my friends over at CSNBaby.com are offering a fabulous giveaway to one privileged reader. CSNBaby.com is a tremendous resource for all your baby needs from high chairs to car seats with a particularly extensive selection of beautiful crib bedding at affordable rates. Go on over and check them out!

And now for the contest details. As you know, last year's Halloween costume theme for the boys was Curious George. This year's is Toy Story and this time we have three participants, a serendipitous decision coinciding with the release of Toy Story 3 next year.Your task? Guess which characters from Toy Story Addison, Davis, and Genevie will be dressing up as. If you get it right, you will win this adorable Slinky Dog Bank. If more than one participant guesses correctly, I will randomly select from among the correct answers. The contest will remain open until Saturday at which time I will reveal the correct answer in photographic form and the winner.

Happy guessing!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Winner and a Teaser

Congratulations to Chris Green, the winner of my "Name That Photo" contest. His caption? "Waiting around for a really big nose." It made me laugh and apparently that's what it took to be named the victor. I wasn't sure how I was going to pick from among all the witty entries, but when I saw the winner I just knew.

And now for the teaser. I have another contest brewing with a fabulous prize at the end. The lovely people over at www.csnbaby.com have donated something very special for this contest. Come on back tomorrow to hear the details and see what you could win!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One Hand

So in a week's time she's gotten comfortable enough to one hand it. Any guesses when the walking will commence?

One word. Trouble.

The Colors of the Season

Every year I do a little tribute to the season -- autumn if you're UK side, fall over here. Whatever you call it, it's divine.

Through the moon roof of our newly repaired car.

The Train

One of the wonderful features of my new job is its location. Situated smack-dab in the middle of center city Philadelphia, I am able to take the train to work every day, which solves at least two problems -- traffic and parking -- the former of which there is too much and the latter too little. In inclement weather, I don't even have to emerge onto the streets of the city. I can walk the 5 or so blocks from my subway stop to my building completely underground. My building literally has its own subway entrance right up into it. I certainly prefer to walk outside, but in rain or with the coming snow and ice, underground will be just dandy.

The first photo I've included here is the view in the morning as I cross the Delaware River onto the Philadelphia side. Incidentally, the train I ride crosses one of the two Philadelphia bridges, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The other one is the Walt Whitman Bridge, an homage to the leading citizens of both places cities.

This photo is the same day on my ride home and shows the Camden side of the Delaware River. The stadium you see here is Campbell's Field (yes, as in the soup), home of the Camden Riversharks, our minor league baseball team. I love the light and the changing leaves of this time of evening at this time of year.

Being back in the city on a regular basis has reminded me afresh of the extreme brokenness we live in. The other day, on a busy Monday morning, throngs of well-dressed executives mounted the steps from the subway to street level, pressing past a homeless man sound asleep on the steps clutching a white stuffed animal. It took my breath away for a moment. One of the ways that my time in Aberdeen has changed me regards my attitude towards the homeless. Before, I think I was fairly cavalier and hardened. Now when I see them, my heart breaks for the pain and emptiness that has led these people to such a point of hopelessness, addiction, and isolation. It weighs heavily on my heart and my mind wanders, wondering what their stories are, how they got to where they are today. It's a whole other topic for another blog, but something that's definitely been on my mind.

And to bookend my week after my Monday encounter, Friday evening as I made my way down into the subway ready to see my family and relax for the weekend, I was greeted by the most wonderful sound. Music. Take a listen.


So it wasn't a full orchestra, but a violin connected to an amp playing Beethoven's 7th, movement 2. And the sound reverberated against the concrete and tile walls in a way that gave me goose bumps and thrilled my spirit. I had to find the source. He was dressed shabbily with a scraggly beard and tattered clothes. Again, I wondered what his story was and how he learned to play so beautifully. My heart swelled with gratitude as I dropped a dollar into his bucket. What a gift at the end of a long albeit satisfying week. And although that man and I are probably quite different, for a few moments before my train whisked me away, we were connected by the strains of a genius who died nearly two hundred years ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Homage: Another Contest

How altogether fitting that right in front of my building is this piece of modern art. Concoct a clever caption and I'll send the winner a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible: Deluxe Edition.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Movin' On Up

Rolling...check
Creeping...check
Crawling...check
Sitting...check
Clapping...check
Yoga...check
Standing...check

We are terrifyingly close to walking.

video

Pretty cute even with a slick of snot coming out her nose.

There Is This Little Island

far, far away that captured my heart and wouldn't give it back.

And do you know what?

We're going back on November 24th. Yesterday I booked Trey's and my (and Evie's) tickets to return to Aberdeen for his graduation. I can hardly describe the excitement in my heart. I remember well leaving the first time with fear and uncertainty for all that lay ahead. This time, I return with a heart full to overflowing with love for friends and happy memories of two beautiful years in Scotland. It will surely be a sweet reunion.

Oh yeah, and I'm pretty excited about the whole doctor thing too!

So if you're there and would like to catch up, email me. I'd love to see you.

Gentle Readers

Gentle Readers,

I am alive. We are well. Could it be I've just gone the longest period of time in my personal blogging history without a post? Egad. I'm beginning to shake. So here, in no particular order, a la Matt Logelin is my week in review.

i now join the ranks of
the fully employed
no longer just a consultant
i have a new title
office manager
what does that mean
a little of everything
trey is a quick study
three full weeks of
three full kid duty
and he's a pro
back off ladies
he's mine
davis is learning bible verses
left and right
the mind of a two year old
is a sponge
we've discovered
addison's grown this summer
a lot
pants are too short
sleeves are too short
incidentally he calls his new old navy fleece
his sleeves
yes it's gotten cold
and fleeces or sleeves are cozy
evie just got over a nasty head cold
which meant the bottle was
persona non grata
one step forward
one step back
sigh
we'll try again next week
but in happier news
she pulled up to standing on sunday
she's seven months
c'mon girl
cut us some slack
video documentation to follow
and so the holloways continue
to figure this whole
mama workin' thing out

i miss blogging

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Second Week

It has been quite a week. After my first week back at the office and our completely unsuccessful attempts to get Evie to take a bottle, we determined that in order to keep her caloric intake up we would have to redistribute her feeding schedule throughout the day. This means that Trey now comes in at lunchtime so I can nurse her. His new daily route includes all of these locations, which he obligingly shot one day this week on his way in. I'm not going to ask how he got the bridge photos.

The westbound view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which spans the width of the Delaware River from Camden, NJ into Philadelphia.

Recognize some of those buildings from the header? My building is squished in between some of those high rises.

City Hall proudly sporting Billy Penn.

Reflected in the surrounding buildings.

Liberty One with the needle. My building is the concrete one to the right.

And this is apparently what happens in the city when you attempt to find a quiet, back alley to nurse and a delivery truck parallel parked in front of you doesn't bother to check before backing up. Yes, we were front-ended. Thankfully, everyone was fine although it was a bit harrowing. We currently have a rental mini-van (which I'm in love with) while we await the appraiser's valuation of the damage. In the meantime we've found an alternate street for private nursing.

In recent news, however, Evie willingly took a few ounces from the bottle today and we are holding our breath that this is a sign of things to come and the hopeful end to our dual commutes.

Slacktivism and Pinkwashing

The recent protracted silence is now to be broken by a series of blog posts that have been begging to be given voice all week. Brace yourselves. I work only half a day tomorrow (thank you, Mr. Columbus) and who knows how much material will be produced in the next 24 hours.

As you are probably aware, unless you've been living under a rock somewhere in the Mojave Desert, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is one of those illnesses that strikes without discrimination and affects all of us. I have had more than one grandparent and a parent impacted by this disease, and Trey lost his father to it. It is brutal and ugly and strikes terror into even the strongest of us. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer to strike women (after skin cancer) and the second deadliest after lung. More than 40,000 will die of it in 2009, but what gives us reason to hope is that there are now 2.5 million survivors in the US alone. It is no longer a death sentence as it once was.

The fountain depicted here sits across the street from my office building at the junction of Market and Broad right outside City Hall. (Remember my recent post?) October 1st its waters ran pink. No, that's not Pepto Bismol or a strawberry shake. It's dyed water to honor this NBCAM.

Now I offer some food for thought. The commercialization of American culture is undisputed. It was inescapable and overwhelming when we first moved back from the UK, but slowly over time you reacclimate to it. And then once in a while I am struck afresh by how blatant it is. Ads, billboards, commercials come at us at an almost frenetic pace. We are bombarded from the minute we open our eyes with logos, brands, taglines, jingles, all trying to get us to do one thing. BUY. Perhaps I am so acutely aware because I myself am in that very field, Marketing. But something in me revolts about the commercialization of cancer. What? you say with horror. What am I talking about? Hear me out. Slap a pink ribbon on any product and you're guaranteed to boost that product's sales. Why? Pinkwashing promotes slacktivism. Never heard of pinkwashing? It's the not-so-flattering terms used to describe marketers who prey upon people's sympathies towards breast cancer to promote the purchase of their product. People will buy the product to make themselves feel better as if they were actually doing something for the cause...without actually doing something for the cause. It's the armchair quarter-backing of philanthropy.

Do I think we shouldn't donate to these worthy causes? Quite the opposite. Give and do so generously, but as I stood in my grocery store yesterday and looked with disgust at the bag of variously shaded pink M&Ms strategically labeled with pink ribbons for NBCAM just tugging away at every passer-bys' heartstrings, I wondered if we had perhaps gotten a bit off track. Here are some interesting questions I found on the Think Before You Pink website.

How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package? When the package does state the amount of the donation, is that amount enough? Fox Home Entertainment, for example, sold “DVDs for the Cure” for $14.95 and donated 50 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Is this a significant contribution, or a piddly amount? You decide. If you can’t tell how much money is being donated, or if you don’t think it’s enough,give directly to the organization instead.

What is the maximum amount that will be donated? Many companies place a cap on the amount of money that will be donated. For example, Give Hope Jeans, sold by White House Black Market for $88, donated “net proceeds” from the sale to the organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer. But they’ve capped their contributions at $200,000. This means that once they had reached the $200,000 limit they stopped contributing, no matter how many pairs of jeans were purchased.

How are the funds being raised? Does making the purchase ensure a contribution to the cause? Or do you, the shopper, have to jump through hoops to make sure the money gets where it’s supposed to go? Lean Cuisine, for example, had a pink ribbon on its boxes of frozen meals, but the purchase of the meal did not result in a donation to a breast cancer organization. Instead, consumers had to visit the Lean Cuisine website and buy a pink Lean Cuisine lunch tote. Only then would $5 of the tote purchase be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Here are some helpful things to think about before you go pink crazy. One idea? Cut the corporate profiteers out of it altogether and donate directly to the cause.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vultures

It was one of those surreal moments where you're not exactly sure how to react. We were driving along this past Saturday when we passed a house with 6 -- count them -- 6 vultures idling on a rooftop. The rooftop of a house. An ordinary house, not the haunted variety. At first I thought they were Halloween props gone a little over the top. But then they started to move.

Any idea what would prompt 6 vultures to roost on the ridge of an otherwise lovely little house in the burbs? See, you're going where I'm going. Not good.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Naked Chocolate

Although my blogging time has been literally cut off at the knees, to give it up altogether would break my heart. The Holloway Clan has become our family history, and it must continue come new job or not. I imagine the posts will change a bit as I spend less time with the children during the day. So for now, I bring you little vignettes from what my days look like now.

This past Friday I indulged myself in a little lunch out with a co-worker. I had a hankering for a panini, so we headed a few blocks over to an amazing little place called The Naked Chocolate Cafe, which was featured by USA Today as one of the top 10 places in the US to get chocolate. Chocolate for lunch? Well, not exactly. I did get a mouthwatering panini with applewood smoked bacon, turkey, and basil pesto complemented by a lovely Caesar side salad and a fresh-brewed black currant iced tea. They feature a limited lunch menu of several paninis and homemade quiches with side salads and a drink for a cool $7.95. You see, they know once they have you there for lunch, there is no way you're leaving without a treat.

Their gleaming counters feature full-sized cakes, pies, and other confections, but what stole the show for me was the case of truffles. I am a huge fan of truffles, and boy does Naked Chocolate do truffles. Every shape and variety you can imagine. At $1.25 a pop and with such a high cocoa content, one was plenty for me. I chose Flambe, and, yes, I chose wisely (Flambe is the one in the lower right-hand corner of the plate below).

Flambe is a pyramid of dark chocolate -- oh yeah! -- accented with cinnamon and the most amazing hint of chili powder, which, rather than ruining the indulgent decadence of the dark chocolate, only heightens it as the heat spreads gently across your tongue, intensifying the lovely flavor. Can you tell I liked it?

Naked Chocolate is also known for none other than their hot chocolates, which are apparently a far cry from the meager Swiss Miss varieties we're accustomed to. They specialize in European drinking chocolates, which are thick and flavorful, as well as sipping chocolates, which the clerk behind the counter informed me was equivalent to drinking a melted candy bar. Um, bring it on!

Needless to say, I will be back. With its inviting leather couches, intimate bistro tables, warm earth tones, and whimsical chocolate creations stashed in mirrored displays, Naked Chocolate is, indeed, a must visit if you find yourself in the city of brotherly love. You have to go just to see the fairy tale carriage made entirely out of chocolate and painted with edible metallic glitter. I need to go back get the boys a dinosaur-shaped milk chocolate treat (they only had dark this past Friday) and to sample the hot chocolate for myself. Oh, and I think there may be another Flambe in my future.