Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby Has Arrived

Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010

Well, today is Kathryn's due date and we're happy to announce the baby is already here! While most people seem to be getting Newman-related news off of Facebook these days, there is not a complete audience intersection (for example, I know my Arkansas readers don't get the Facebook news so I figured it's worth posting here, too. Apologies to my duplicate readers for hearing the same stories and jokes twice....

Thomas George Newman was born on Monday night (Jan. 25) at 11:33 p.m. He was 8 pounds 7 oz.

Kathryn had been having some contractions for the week or so prior, so I didn't think too much of it when she said she was having contractions when I called at 5:30 to say I was heading home. She got me at the train station at 6:30, and then had about a 1 hour Family Home Evening (not sure why we did an extended one that night but we did. Kathryn ran it which included some requirements for Webelos). In between teaching, she was recording her contractions on her new i-Phone app that allows you to just push a button to record the start and end of each contraction and then it tracks it and does all the math for you. (You can even email it to your that's one cool App).

At 7:30, I ran the bedtime routine while Kathryn labored in front of the TV watching the new Jane Austin "Emma" movie that she had taped from PBS the night before. At 8:30, I had the kids all to bed and she started to get serious. Knowing that most of the labors go all night, I wasn't worried and spent the next hour doing work email to delegate things off as I figured I'd be out on Tuesday.

When Kathryn started packing around 9:20, I figured she was really thinking this was it. At 9:45 I started timing her contractions. At 10, I called our neighbor Heather to say that we'd probably be calling her that night to stay with the kids.

At about 10:20 after Kathryn got out of the shower, she agreed we should call the midwife. The contractions were only about 40 to 45 seconds long but they were between 2 to 4 minutes. But she was handling them so well, I don't think either one of us thought it was imminent. The midwife said "get in here."

Heather arrived by about 10:40 and we were on our way by 10:45. It is a 30 minute drive to the hospital which is in Sleepy Hollow. All of our other kids were born in White Plains, but we changed for Thomas as policies had changed and we couldn't do a V-BAC at White Plains.

I ran about 5 stoplights....there wasn't any traffic so it seemed silly to wait at the light. Heck, I even drove in the left lane!

About 3 minutes to the hospital, she said she wanted to start pushing. Kathryn later said the drive was like one long contraction. We went in through the ER and the attendants didn't seem in too much of a rush so Kathryn said "Hey, I'm having a baby here, let's get this show on the road....Let's move!"

She was in the hospital room at 11:15 p.m. and I got up there a few minutes later after parking the car. She was at an 8. At 11:29 she started pushing. At 11:33 we were holding our new baby.

It's funny because Josh had always said the baby would be born on Monday, Jan. 25. As the labor started going fast, I told Kathryn that hey, this could still happen.

She got into her private room around 1:30 and then we waited for them to return the baby. So I slept on the Murphy bed in the room until about 4:20, saw the baby again, then drove home to share the news with the kids when they woke up. Sammy had crawled into bed with Heather. I found Matthew wandering around the house wondering where I was. Each kid was so excited. Josh was sad when he heard my voice because he assumed the baby hadn't come. I said no, it happened so fast I'm already home! They just couldn't stop dancing and celebrating. Josh later said we should all kneel down and have a prayer of gratitude.

I went back to the hospital after the kids went to school (and Sammy to a neighbor) and stayed til about noon, then picked up Sam and got the kids out of school early so they could come meet their brother. They fought over who would enter the room first and who would hold him first but if that's the only side-effect to the family dynamic, I'll take it.

Because he was born before midnight, it counted as "the first night" at the hospital so Kathryn was released on Wed. afternoon.

Two final things:

• At one point, the nurse came in during Kathryn's stay to ask a series of questions, one of which was "do you want us to inform your pastor". She pointed at me and said "Well, he's my pastor...." I thought afterward that I wish that when they said "Do you want us to alert your pastor" she had said "No need. He already knows....after all, he's the father". Or "No, that's OK. He knows since it's his baby." Missed opportunity.

• Whenever you tell someone a new baby name and they respond with "Oh, is that a family name", I think that means they find the name unusual and so they are looking for a justification for such a weird name. We haven't really heard that much with "George" but I just thought about that as I think I do the same to others when I hear names outside the "top 100" list of names. (For those wondering, Thomas is at about 50 on the charts).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Living a watch-less life

So I broke my watch in mid-December. It fell onto a tile floor during my monthly interview with President Bench and hasn't worked the same since. I haven't gotten around to replacing the watch.

I can't remember a time living without a watch strapped to my wrist. In fact, I literally check my watch about every 3 or 4 minutes for an update, so I was curious to see how I'd survive without knowing what the exact minute was.

Surprisingly, the withdrawal has been painless. There's plenty of places to check the time (like my computer and my i-Phone) but I do miss it the most while walking to the train (to ensure I don't miss the train) and in business meetings (when I like to have the watch laid on the table so I can keep to the time limits -- checking the phone isn't a real kosher option as it looks like I'm checking text or email, which is rude).

But I think it has relaxed me a bit not having a way to check the time every few minutes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

FREE! (or mostly free)

With the high cost of living in New York, anytime you can pull off a free (or mostly free) activity, it's worthy of shouting it from the rooftops.

Some recent successes:

• We went to the New York Hall of Science in Queens on Dec. 29 (Wed) cost (beyond tolls): ZERO! We purchased a Brooklyn Children's Museum pass that allows access to other museums including this one, so entry was complementary. Found street parking. Ate lunch in the car on the way home.

•  Date night with Kathryn to see Invictus on Tuesday night (Dec. 28). My boss gave me a fully loaded Fandango gift card, so the movie was free. PLUS we had watched a couple's children a week or two ago, so the wife agreed to stay here at the house while the kids slept and we were at the babysitting fee!

• Post Thanksgiving Friday night date night. We went to a free concert performed by local musician students at the New York Historical Society and found free street parking. We then went to dinner at Hill Country down by my office. Yes, you guessed it -- free street parking! Just had to pay for dinner (yummy bbq). We even took the non-toll way home from Manhattan into the Bronx.

• Our office party was virtually free because the party was free and -- yup -- free street parking right in front of the venue. BUT we had to pay for a college-age babysitter, so that was more expensive. But when the only cost is babysitting, well, that's batting above average

• Kathryn took the three older kids to the Chipmunks movie the day after Christmas with the Fandango gift card....FREE OUTING! Bonus: I got to stay home with Sammy and he fell asleep so I had 1.5 hours of quiet in the house on an afternoon. Unheard of!

• We also had a free outing to the Wrights' Christmas party a week before Christmas as the party was free and our favorite babysitter said that she had to perform free service prior to her Catholic Confirmation, and babysitting counted. So she asked if it would be OK if she babysat for free that night. Um, OK! But, we did pay for it on the drive home due to a bad snowstorm that made me think we wouldn't make it home -- and then I wouldn't make it home from taking the babysitter home.

• And lastly, we look to start the year off with a free date tonight. There is a Primary party tonight that is a drop-off -- and Sammy is now Primary aged! So we have a 1 hour 15 minute window and going to Panera Bread for dinner thanks to a gift card from another friend for Christmas.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Day of Week for Christmas???

Hi all:

For starters, now that the official Christmas Newsletter has gone out -- and potentially resulted in some more viewers to the weekly Christmas newsletter -- I wanted to welcome any new readers and to state that I'm going to make a renewed effort to provide an update to this blog at least once a week by Friday afternoon. I know, I've said that before, but here's to a New Year.

So I'm a big calendar man in terms of studying it and debating in my head the value of which calendar mode is best. To clarify, there are only seven types of calendar options (forgetting Leap Year) based on the year starting on a Sunday, a Monday, a Tuesday, etc. The only dates that get affected are birthday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving (early or late in Nov.) and Christmas as so much else is just a default Monday.

For years, I've said Tuesday was the best day for Christmas. But I'm leaning toward Friday as being right up there. I really liked this past week at the office as it's just a tad too short and too close to Christmas to be taken too seriously. (A Saturday Christmas does result in a more serious work week, I feel). Christmas Eve on a Thursday is great (I'm making the assumption that I get two days off for the Friday Christmas ensures I get Christmas Eve off).

I like having the day after Christmas being on Saturday....a perfect day to just enjoy your presents before having to go back to Church on Sunday. We had Christmas on a Friday 5 years ago, and get it again in a mere 5 more years. Lucky us!

While Tuesday is a great Christmas Day, I do remember that we spend Sat, Sun and Mon "running out the clock" looking for ways to keep the kids busy while we wait for Christmas to come. Then, as soon as Christmas night is over, it's immediately back to work. Not good.

Do you have a favorite day for Christmas? If you are like my kids, I'll bet it's not Sunday! :)

Post your thoughts as to which day for Christmas is best. (And sorry if this incoherent....the kids are making a ruckus behind me so it's hard to write cohesively and concisely).

Merry Christmas!!!!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Palmyra et al Family Vacation - PT 2

A now a continuation of our trip to Palmyra (see last post for the first half)

Saturday was our church site day. The weather was a lot warmer than Friday (which was cold) and it was actually a very pretty, a bit crisp fall day.

We went first to Hill Cumorah, which was about a 20 minute drive. It's a nice visitor's center, and they were just waiting for us to come in (it was a slow day). The sister missionary was really wonderful and did a great job engaging the kids. NOTE: always better to get the sister missionaries as tour guides than senior elders. The sisters are fun, engage the kids, know how to gauge their attention temperature and move along whereas the senior elders kind of have forgotten what it's like to have antsy kids.

I've never really spent a lot of time at the visitor center, but could have spent longer in the back with the exhibits. With kids, it's about a 20 minute visit...with no kids it could be an hour. The boys then climbed the Hill Cumorah and the girls drove to the top.

We then drove to the Joseph Smith farm. The area has changed since the last time I went there. For starters, they had found the original site of the first Smith home (site of the Moroni visit) and have rebuilt that to be as authentic as possible, down to homemade nails. (In fact, they had to use manufactured nails at the end to be done in time, and Hinckley saw them and commented on that during the dedication...he was assured they were temporary. The whole house was built by hand to keep it authentic).

After you visit that house, you walk down a trail to the Smith's second house, which is the original house and has stood since 1820s. (I had visited that before). You can see the hearth where the plates were actually hidden at one point. And the tree planted in the yard when older brother Alvin died (now it's a big tree). Then you can walk into the Sacred Grove.

I would have enjoyed more time in the Grove, but the kids weren't really going for that. So we took the short path But at least we made it there. Afterward, we drove to the temple which is also on site (and is also new, too). Across the street is the stake center. (Incidentally, the old stake center near the Hill Cumorah is now the city's town hall).

We then drove into town and saw the Grandin Printing Press building, which was a favorite of all of us. We again got a sister tour guide and had a wonderful time. It's spiritual, historical, and interesting. Fun to learn how they actually printed it. Kids do enjoy this part. From there, we drove out of town, saw the Alvin Smith grave site, the Erie Canal (which Josh is studying) and then the Martin Harris farm.

From there, we stopped at McDonald's near the Thruway and drove to the Whitmer Farm. It's about a 45 minute drive and not tons to see there. There is a chapel which has a small visitor center, but nothing too earth-shattering to see at the visitor center. The highlight is to go to the re-created cabin out back where the church was organized. We have a senior elder here, and it kind of dragged.

We drove back to our hotel and went to Chilis for dinner. Go for the "2 for $20" which gives you an appetizer, two main courses, and dessert. Not bad!!!

Then swimming and off to bed.

Sunday, we tried to go to church in Canadagia but found a locked building (stake conference?) and started the drive home through the Finger Lakes and through Ithaca. It was a pretty drive, but a bit windy, and Josh felt queasy for much of it. And the drive felt longer with the kids awake and not always happy. Plus, why do kids always say they need to use the bathroom 5 minutes after you just stopped for someone else to use it?

We went through Ithaca, and down through Binghamton so we could go see Harmony Penn (near Oakland, PA). It's a little road that takes you to the Harmony site, which just has a statue and some historical markers (plus a cemetery) but no on-site presence. A little out of the way, but worth the visit.

Instead of doing I-80, we came across I-84 just to make things different.

All in all, a very satisfying vacation, not overly expensive, and I really enjoyed it. Wouldn't really do anything differently. Family was at the perfect age to do this trip before the new baby in January....

Palmyra et al Family Vacation

Hi all:

Some friends have asked for details about our Church Sites trip on Nov. 6 to 8, so here's a little travelogue that may help in your planning, along with our highlights.

We left on Thursday night around 5 p.m. as the kids had Friday off for a school conference. I was surprised that the mapping systems said it was fastest to go on I-80 through NJ and Penn. to Scranton and then up through Binghamton and Syracuse, and then on to Rochester.

Driving at night definitely has its perks and its drawbacks. It was great the kids all fell asleep at some point. But I had some heavy rain in NJ, and then snow going over a peak outside of Syracuse, and all that in the dark wasn't fun. But the new Honda van drives smoothly and that was part of the reason for the trip.

We arrived at the Homewood Suites in Victor, NY around 11:30 p.m. -- it took us about 6.5 hours with stops, snow, and rain. I'm a big fan of Homewood Suites as it has sleeping for 6. This unit had one big bedroom with two doubles, then a small pullout couch for the little boys in another room -- along with full fridge, microwave and oven. The rate was $150, but we knew of a promotion that got it down to $135. We felt it was the perfect location as it was just off the Thruway and perfectly situated between Rochester and Palmyra, which was convenient. We liked the free hot breakfast each morning, the pool was the right size (and actually warm) for the kids, and low hassle.

On Friday, we got in the van again and drove to Niagara Falls. I had never seen it and I was actually very impressed. It's about a 1.5 hour drive, I believe. We arrived around 9:30 or so. The Maiden of the Mist boats close in late October, so we couldn't do that. But the state park was free except $10 to park (which allows you to park at the welcome center and then over on Goat Island....I never mind paying a little into the system to keep it up and running).

I knew that the view is more impressive from the Canada side, but I also knew that all U.S. citizens need a passport when driving into Canada now. Unfortunately, I didn't look closer to see that kids with a birth certificate can go sans passport so we could have driven across as Kathryn and I have passports, but alas, we didn't. Something for next time.

But the view from where we were was amazing. I'm surprised we could get so close to the edge at the top of falls. It's not really very fancy but I like that it's just kinda simple and I like that the safety experts haven't shut down such close access. All in all, we spent about 1.5 hours there.

(For the record, the towns on the NY and Canada side look very cheezy and dated...yet again, kind of refreshing to not see everything all "Disney-fied". It is what it is)

We then drove back to Rochester to the National Museum of Play (and Toy Hall of Fame). We felt this is the best kids museum we've been to. We arrived around 2 p.m. and stayed until about 5:30. Lots of open space, no crowds (as it was a weekday), and fun things for everyone, including a well stocked arcade of video games familiar to me (Asteroids, Tapper, Defender, Q-Bert, Popeye, Ultra Bowl, Berzerk). From a career perspective, it was fun to walk through the Toys Hall of Fame and identify the Hasbro stuff.

We returned to the hotel (about a 20 minute drive) and tried to go to Chilis, but a 45 minute wait at 5:15 at night. Well, what else do you do in Victor? So we went to Denny's which was surprisingly fun and good. The highlight was Sammy making a biscuit snowman. Then a visit to the pool and everyone collapsed into bed.

Sat and Sun. to be covered in my next post....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

General Conference

So it's general conference weekend, and I was thinking about how my listening and/or viewing of it has changed over the years while being in New York:

• Single, living in the city from 1994 to 1998: We would have to go to the stake center (which is now a temple) to view all the sessions. Sometimes, on Saturday, we'd go to Dallas BBQ between sessions 1 and 2.

• Newly married and living in Tuckahoe: We actually got a session or two on cable, but as I recall, they had a habit of cutting off after one hour.

• Married and living in Tuckahoe: the cable option stopped after LDS member David Checketts stopped being the CEO of the cable company. We'd take turns attending sessions at the Scarsdale chapel with the other parent staying home with the kids

• More married and living in Tuckahoe: Internet broadcast seemed to work well, but just audio for us. We "only" had one computer and it wasn't on wireless, so we had to squish into the upstairs "office" room and listen to it up there.

• More married and living in Tuckahoe: Kathryn's greatest upgrade suggestion: still broadcast the audio on the computer on the 3rd floor BUT broadcast it downstairs via the baby monitor

• Even more married and living in Tuckahoe: Wireless router and a laptop at work (that came home on the weekends) allowed for us to have conference "live" (no baby monitor) in any place in our house. Video wasn't reliable enough for us yet

• Eastchester house: video better and we can watch it as a family on my laptop or our bigger desktop computer. The system "skips" a bit and a 2 hour session ends up taking 2 hours and 10 minutes. I bring home a speaker from work to amp the sound.

ยช Oct 2009: Eastchester, four kids, one on the way: we can now plug the laptop into the flat screen and watch it on TV (just like Utah!) We will plug the laptop into the internet router with ethernet cable to hopefully enjoy a 2 hour session in 2 hours.

GOOOOO Conference!!!