Tag: jen

Cats in the cradle

On Thursday evening at 8:29 PM, Sadie Evelyn Ashlock was born and Jen and Jason became parents.  Congratulations he11o_sunshine  and stubiebrother !

Jen is 7 years younger than me and definitely falls into the category of "baby sister".  When she was born, we lived in a small house in Somerset, New Jersey (see picture to the right).  I clearly recall visiting her in the hospital a day or two after she arrived.  She was in the nursery along with rows of other babies and Dad pointed her out to me.  When I got home that night, I threw up.  I’m told the two events are not related.

I remember the day Jen came home pretty clearly.  There was a crib or playpen of some kind set up in the family room and I recall watching her lay there, squirming around, making all kinds of faces.  Naturally I thought that she was making faces at me, something that I took personally for a while.  I made faces right back at her.  Funny thing is, to this day, she still makes those faces.  (See picture below).

When Jen was about six months old, we moved from the little house in Somerset to a bigger house in Warwick, Rhode Island.  It was at that house, when Jen was two or three years old, that we had our first significant bonding moment.  Mom and Dad had gone out somewhere and I was left in charge to babysit.  Like any big brother, I thought it wise to teach my sister the kind of things that she would find useful in making her way in the world.

I decided, in this case, to teach her to do spinning jumps off the railroad ties by the driveway.  The railroad ties were about 3 or 4 feet above the surface of the driveway.  A spinning jump, for those of you unfamiliar with this vital skill, is where you jump into the air while performing a 360 turn.  I demonstrated the jump for Jen several times, and then asked her to perform it, to ensure that she’d understood the instructions.

Poised at the edge of the precipice, I recall watching Jen as if in slow motion, bend her knees and then gracefully leap forth into the air, applying just the right amount of torque to spin her counterclockwise.  I watched as her legs seemed to continue to rise into the air, while the rest of her body began to descent.  I watched as she cracked her chin into the railroad tie on the way down–which, incidentally, was not part the instruction I gave her; but this is why we perform tests.  When she pulled herself up from the pavement she was actually very composed, a kind of weird smile on her face.

It was I who lost my composure.  Her face was bloodied–so much so that I couldn’t even tell where the blood was coming from.  I panicked, and of course, Jen panicked, too.  (I never failed to miss the irony that she could imitate my panic, but not my smooth, spinning jump.)  I rushed her across the street to our neighbors, Debbie and Dave.  Debbie, I knew, was a nurse, and a nurse could fix things right up.  Mostly, I just wanted her to stop crying.  Naturally, I felt terrible about the whole thing.

For some reason, I was never able to keep my composure around my baby sister, although she was very composed around me.  Years later, after we moved to L.A., we flew together, just the two of us, back to New York.  We had a stop in Chicago, but we given strict instructions not to get off the plane.  When the plane arrived in Chicago, there was some mechanical problem and all passengers were told to get off the plane.  I must have been thirteen years old by then, and standing in O’Hare airport, uncertain of what to do, I panicked.  It was by six year old sister who put her hand on my back and said, "It’ll be okay."  And of course, it was.

My favorite picture of Jen has always been one of the two of us that I took back in April 2003 while we rode a trolley together in San Francisco.  By then we were both grown up, but she was still my baby sister.  Now, my baby sister is also a mother!  It’s a strange phenomenon, but one that I imagine most people experience, particularly in siblings with whom they have a 7 year advantage.  As I said, I can remember when Jen was still in the nursery at the hospital.  I can remember when she came home, squirming and crying, and making faces.  I can still see her in mid-air, suspended above the pavement in Rhode Island.  Years pass.  There are graduations, weddings, moves across the country, trips up to New York to visit her in Astoria and Manhattan.  All the while she was my little sister, and now my little sister is a mommy.

So while I still love the picture of the two of us on the trolley in San Francisco, I think I have a new "favorite" picture of Jen.  It’s one that was taken yesterday by Mom or Dad in Jen’s hospital room in New York.

When you see the picture below, I think you’ll understand why.

So congratulations, lil’ sis.  Congratulations, Jason!  Kelly and I can’t wait to come meet Sadie.  And while we are not yet parents, we offer some humble parenting advice:

Keep your eyes open when Sadie is near railroad ties.  If she’s inherited any of Jen’s sense of coordination, it could spell trouble.

Hurricanes, Annapolis, car trouble, thai food

Roughly in that order.

We were up around 8:30 AM. I didn’t sleep too well, I think because we were just sleeping on the floor. But I survived. Mom was already up and everyone else was up shortly after us. Kelly’s parents were going to stay until Monday, but decided to leave first thing this morning. They had driven up from south-western Florida and with the tropical storm headed their way, they wanted to get back in time to avoid the rain and get their house battened down. They were on the road by 9:30 AM.

Mom, Jen and Jason headed out for coffee and bagels while Kelly and I got ready. When they got back, we all piled into the car and drove out to Annapolis. Everyone got to see the Inn where we are having the wedding. We walked through the Naval Academy campus and found a shady spot to sit for a while. We headed to Buddy’s for lunch. By the time lunch was over, it was time to head home. On the way, we dropped Jen and Jason off at Union Station so that they could catch their train home.

Back at the house, we debated taking a nap, but Kelly decided that she needed to go to Whole Foods first, so off she went. Mom and I sat around talked. A short while later, Kelly called. Her car was “broken”. I headed out to meet her. The exhaust had rusted through at the base and fallen off on one end. We called AAA and the tow truck was there in 10 minutes. Since the exhaust had rusted through, we had the car towed to nearby Honda deliver and used the after hours service drop to drop off the keys. Meanwhile, Mom fed our hungry cats.

We were back home by 6 PM. We sat around talking and chatting for a while, and then headed over to Pentagon Row for some Thai food. It was Mom’s first time having Thai food. It was my first time having duck, which I really liked. We hung out for a while longer and then we all decided to call it an early night. Kelly and I headed off to bed around 10 PM.

Friday evening arrivals

Headed home from work at 4 PM. Kelly had her first flex-day today and so she was home. Around 6:30 or so, her parents arrived. We had moved Kelly’s car onto the street so that they could park in our driveway. Shortly thereafter, I heard from he11o_sunshine: their train was delayed a few hours and they were going to try and get on another train. They called back later; they managed to get on the 8 PM regional train and would be in D.C. around 11:30 PM. Kelly and I and her parents walked over to Shirlington for dinner at Capital City Brewery. We walked home through a light rain afterward. Sat around talking, watched some Olympics, and finally shortly after 11 PM, Kelly and I headed out to Union Station to pick up Mom, Jen, and Jason.

We timed it perfectly. They were just getting off the train and we didn’t have to wait for them at all. We headed back to the house, introduced people all around. Kelly’s parents headed up to bed. The rest of us sat around chatting for a while, and finally, around 1:30 AM, headed off to bed. I’d been wired so around 1 AM, I took 2 Tylenol PMs to help ensure that I would sleep. Kelly and I slept on an inflatable mattress in the family room. Apparently, around 3:30 AM or so, the mattress had collapsed in around us. I was dead to the world and didn’t notice, but Kelly, who found it uncomfortable to sleep in a collapsed mattress, had moved to the couch.

Rainbow Room Birthday Bash 2008

Saturday began early for I was anxious to see everyone and wanted to get an early start. Kelly and I had gone to bed around midnight and I was up at 6:40 AM. I showered and then headed downstairs to sit on the couch and read until everyone else woke up. Kelly was up early too, and so we waited for vickyandnorm (Norm and Vicky) and kruppenheimer (Lisa) to awaken and get ready. It didn’t take too long but it seemed as though it took forever. However, we were ready to go by 9 AM, which is what I was hoping for, and at that point, we hit the road.

How’s this for a great day…

A night of jazz hosted by Bill Cosby, himself

First, Saturday afternoon: sometime after noon, Jen, Jason, Kelly and I headed over to Central Park to walk around the reservoir. It was cold. We made it about 2/3rds of the way around when Jen simply couldn’t stand the cold anymore and insisted we more to someplace warmer. Initially, “someplace warmer” was Central Park West, but eventually we made our way down to 81st street, cut over to Columbus (passing right by the Galaxy, where Jon and Hollie live), and into Patagonia, where we spent some time browsing around the store and warming up. Afterward, we walked two doors down to Pizzaria Uno to get something into our stomachs. I’d only been to this particular place once before, four years ago, with kevnyc. We then caught a cab back to Jen and Jason’s place. We crowded into the living room, Kelly and I mashed-up on the couch, Jen and Jason on the floor. They put on an episode of the BBC miniseries Planet Earth, and we all promptly fell asleep.

Hours later, we got ready to head to Manhattan Center for an evening of jazz on 34th street. Specifically: “A Tribute to Thelonious Monk: 90th Birthday Celebration”, hosted by Bill Cosby. We left around 7 PM and caught a cab. The show didn’t start until 8 PM, but there is only 1 elevator and or 7 flights of stairs and on the advice of kevnyc; (who has been to every venue in NYC, and quite possibly North America), we arrived a little early. It worked out well. It was not crowded when we got there, we got upstairs to the ballroom in a jiff, and we had second-row seats, left of center which presented us with a good view of everything.

‘Round Midnight…

In New York

Kelly and I caught the 5 PM Acela to NYC yesterday. I tried to upgrade us to first class with some free upgrade coupons I had, but since I had already used one discount (Kelly’s ticket was a companion ticket) I couldn’t do it. So we rode in the regular Acela Business Express class. We got comfortable seats in the “Quiet Car”. Kelly napped for a little while and we chatted quietly for a while. Then I read. Kelly read for a while and also watched a few episodes of The Office on my iPhone.

We caught a cab to he11o_sunshine and stubiebrother‘s. The cabs in NYC now have TV and GPS in the back seat so that you can see where are. You can easily pay by credit card too. It was kind of neat. We got to Jen and Jason’s place just after 8 PM.

For dinner, we headed down the block to Mustang’s. I had the Mustang Burger, which hit the spot. Jen and Kelly had a couple of Margarita’s each. Jason and I split a pitcher of Dos Equis (eliciting fond memories of the Mediterranean from this past summer) and each had a shot of Patron. It was a lot of fun.

We were up at about 8 AM this morning, had breakfast at the local diner, and plan on walking around the Reservoir in the Park, once everyone has finished their showering.

What I did on Sunday

I took Kelly to breakfast at IHOP. Afterwards, we ran up to Michael’s and PetSmart to do some errands.

I did a couple of loads of laundry.

I read Connie Willis’ “All Seated on the Ground” in the December ASIMOV’S. I napped. I finished Connie Willis’ novella.

I ran some more errands. I made dinner. I packed my lunch for tomorrow.

I nearly finished my holiday shopping (two more gifts to get).

I completed 6 of my holiday cards.

I spoke to Dad, he11o_sunshine and stubiebrother on the phone.

And now I’m off to bed so that I can get up at 4:20 AM for my Monday morning strength training workout.

Mail call!

I had a few items waiting for me in the mail when I got home from work last night. First, there was the book I ordered from Amazon over the weekend, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 24th Annual Collection (ed. Gardner Dozois). There was also a book from he11o_sunshine and stubiebrother on something like 50 different recipes for grilled cheese. It’s a very cute book and will certainly add some variety to my grilled-cheese-preparation. Thanks guys!

I spent the evening working on revisions to my story. I’m hoping to send it off tomorrow or Saturday at the latest.

Paid a couple of bills, the electric bill and the gas bill, which topped $165 because I like to keep my house cozy and it’s been cooler lately. But that’s okay. I’ve been saving money by bringing my meals to work every day and I haven’t spent a dime in the Mall downstairs in nearly 2 weeks now.

Thanksgiving dinner

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner last night. First, we had everyone over at Mom and Dad’s: me, he110_sunshine, stubiebrother, Doug, Rachel, Ruby and Carson. This year was a non-traditional year for dinner. We had excellent crab legs, delicious prime rib, rice, and broccoli. There was plenty of food and it was all delicious. Doug and Rachel made dessert. We sipped drinks after dinner, it was a lot of fun.

I was exhausted soon after dinner, but we stayed up so that Mom, Jen and Jason could watch Gray’s Anatomy. Jen, Jason and I slept on air mattresses down in the living room. Lights were out by 10:30 PM and I slept really well.

We were up at around 7:30 this morning. I was hungry as soon as I woke up. Mom made me chocolate chip pancakes. I ate 6 of them and they hit the spot. Doug, Jason and I head off to our Scuba lesson in about half an hour. Meanwhile, Jen and Rachel are going to their spa treatments soon. I think they are going shopping later. Today is black Friday. But if you ask me, you’ve got to be crazy to go shopping today.

New York weekend, day 2

[Written on November 13, 2007]

I was up early, 5 AM, and couldn’t really sleep thereafter. Norm and Vicky had some early errands to run and so I was up to see them off and say goodbye. I’d said goodbye to them the night before, and I would say goodbye to them one more time, as they returned sooner than expected.

A day in New York City

Happy Anniversary, Jen and Jason!

Yes, today is the two-year wedding anniversary of he11o_sunshine and stubiebrother and writing those words makes me realize just how quickly time is flying by. Two years already? Jen and Jason spent a romantic weekend in Mystic, Connecticut to celebrate their anniversary.


Hope you had a great weekend, and a great day today. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks.