Look at this Instagram

A work friend sent this to a few members of our office cohort today. It's funny because it nails my thoughts about Instagram ... and it's a parody of a song by Nickelback, a band several members of our office, including me, have declared awful.


Random week in review

Oh, the graduate work is back in full force. Read 100 pages -- three chapters -- in my higher education law book over the weekend. Spent most of Sunday working on my three writing assignments -- one for each chapter -- and submitted them at around 11 p.m. last night.

Class this weekend and work on my research project has resumed.

... So if the pace of my posts slow down again, that's why.

* * *

This Digital Short was the best thing about last weekend's "Saturday Night Live," featuring Adam Levine. ... As I was watching Saturday night, I was thinking, "This is great! I would totally download this." Then -- bam -- No. 1 on iTunes.

* * *

We're getting into a good rhythm of enjoying some movies as a family. Some old favorites, some new stuff, and some that Kates and I haven't seen but Phoebe has at preschool so she suggests them to us.

Sunday night, we watched "Meet the Robinsons." It had been one of those that Kates and I always wanted to see, but never did.

It lived up. Good family flick.

* * *

A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names

Eye roll. ... When are these guys going to learn!?

* * *

This story made me miss "Lost." ... I think enough time has passed since it ended that, yeah dude, I could go back and be sucked into watching it all over again. ... Man, those were the days. We have seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. So that's a start.

And speaking of good TV, several friends have posted this one on Facebook recently. Mind-blowing.


Presidential images

I enjoyed yesterday's inauguration coverage, watching it nearly all day from home, like I've never done before. Here are some good reads and images that I think best capture yesterday's festivities ...

First, some stunning photos from The New York Times. ... Which doesn't include Malia's photobomb, which, in case you missed seeing it play out live during the TV coverage, was a classic family moment of the day.

From Rolling Stone: Obama's 2013 Presidential Inauguration
From Parade: Top 5 moments from the inauguration
And this morning's New York Times editorial: President Barack Obama

Then there's the always wonderful, entertaining and amusing reviews by NBC News ... Which doesn't mention Al Roker's impromptu interviews with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, not to mention his comical banter with Brian Williams and David Gregory afterward.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
... And finally, this wonderful little commercial that aired during yesterday's coverage ... The shot of that little girl staring out the window, riding in the car with cotton, or stuffing, or whatever it is attached to her face is priceless.


Longing for spring

Kates, Phoebe and I have the day off today. ... Faye is at the daycare. Only because we're paying for it.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

I'm settling in for a day of doing some things around the house, catching up on some work projects and watching the inauguration coverage, of course. ... With fond memories of four years ago. (Interesting to read that post now. Faye was unusually crabby this morning, too, and last night was one of our most sleepless nights yet with her.)

After a brief battle for the living room big screen -- which Kates and I won -- Phoebe is watching her Disney shows on the small TV in the downstairs playroom. We tried to convince her to watch the inauguration with us, but she doesn't yet get the importance of it.

It's been a wicked, cold weekend here. Complicated by the burden of trying to catch up on lost office time last week and the looming crescendo of my graduate work.

I'm longing for spring and the summer daze, and more opportunities to spend time outdoors.

No doubt some of my angst over weekend stems from reading a lot of baseball news ...

The Cubs Convention happened, and the club unveiled the latest plans to rennovate Wrigley Field. ... They're as impressive and thoughtful, with the ballpark's historic significance and feel in mind, as any of the plans I've seen over the years. Check out these images. ... Gosh, I can't wait to get back there some day.

And Saturday we lost two of the game's greatest -- Stan Musial and Earl Weaver. ... Both of them were out of baseball before I first picked up a bat, but each of their stories have always intrigued me. The stories of Stan the Man's cool, steady play for the Cardinals and of Earl's genius in managing the Orioles, not to mention his famous run-ins with umpires. They are among my favorite baseball personalities.

RIP Stan and Earl.

Good reads and a video ...  

a Stan wouldn't want us to be sad
a 11 things I didn’t know about Earl Weaver
a Musial, Weaver were two sides of the same coin


'Saturday Night Live' recap: Jennifer Lawrence and The Lumineers

For the first time in, like, forever, Kates and I actually watched "Saturday Night Live" live. Entirely live. No DVR watching for us at a later date when it's convenient.

Heck, we were excited. It was the first new SNL since before the holidays. And the night's guests were two hot entintees right now -- Jennifer Lawrence and The Lumineers.

And the show was ... underwhelming. The sketches Lawrence had to work with were poor. As usual, EW's review is right on par.

I like that Lawrence is feisty. And her appearance with Letterman the other night was far more entertaining.


Back to good

Catching up on where we left you last weekend

We thought both of our girls were on the mend by Sunday evening but decided to keep them home Monday as a precaution. In most cases, I’d stay home with the kids because it’s easier for me to do than for Kates, given our jobs. But Monday was the first day of spring classes at the university and I had a couple important meetings scheduled. So Kates headed off to her school late Sunday to draw up lesson plans for her substitute teacher, and finally returned around 1 a.m.

Monday afternoon, Kates took the girls to the doctor’s office. The diagnosis: Faye had an ear infection and Phoebe, indeed, had the influenza. Faye wasn’t contagious and could return to daycare Tuesday, but Phoebe had to be fever-free and going on no medicine for 24 hours before she could return to her school.

When I arrived home from work Monday evening, the flu bug had Phoebe in its grips. She was running a 102-degree temperature and the poor girl, sitting in our rocking chair and covered in blankets, was so warm and breathing so heavily and looked so miserable … I seriously feared for her life. But the medicine kicked in and she pulled through.

As it turned out, Phoebe was one of eight children in her class – of 20 – who missed school Monday and Tuesday because of their illnesses.

So on Tuesday, Kates and I reversed the roles. She took Faye to daycare – a task that’s usually mine – and I stayed home with Phoebe. As usual, I juggled my work with taking care of Phoebe as best I could. I had an interview scheduled with the head football coach Tuesday morning, but had to resort to talking with him over the phone rather than in person.

Also Tuesday, our washing machine was repaired once and for all. Once the repairman left, I started laundering the clothes and towels that accumulated since Saturday’s especially messy day – and doing laundry has never been more enjoyable.

We kept Phoebe home again Wednesday, and Thursday, too, as her fever returned to normal and to be sure she made a full recovery. In the meantime, I kept up with emails, arranged several interviews with reporters and pumped out news releases in between answering Phoebe’s calls for water, changing the TV channel, short games of hide and seek, and cuddle time. …

I always end up feeling guilty on these sick days I spend at home with her because I would much prefer to spend those days watching movies, playing and cuddling with her. But the demands of my job require that I be tuned in and always ready to act. … And if I don’t stay home with Pheebs, than it means more 1 a.m. nights for Kates to work up lesson plans and classroom instructions for her substitute. You accept the trade-off.

That said, it was wonderful to be at home with Phoebe this week. We did have a lot of fun, and we laughed a lot. Which is the best medicine, right?

Perhaps my proudest accomplishment as a father this week is turning her into a fan of “The Brady Bunch.” In trying to avoid watching any more Disney programming Wednesday evening and searching for something on TV that both of us could enjoy, I discovered the Hallmark Channel shows “The Brady Bunch” from 5 to 7 each weeknight. By Friday night, she was begging Kates to turn it on when they arrived home from school. … Friday night’s episodes featured the classic ghost town/Grand Canyon story arc. (See: One of the coolest, grooviest days of my life ...)

On Friday, it was back to normal. Kates was up early and off to school around 7 for her morning recess duty. I worked to get myself and the kids ready for the day. Phoebe threw the mother of all tantrums because the outfit Kates picked out for her was “uncomfortable,” and it took us two more outfits to come to a consensus. Then, I accidentally knocked over a glass of water in the bathroom, spilling it on the cabinets and rug. And in the chaos, I may have forgotten to brush my teeth.

Nonetheless, I got Phoebe to preschool and Faye to daycare on time, and walked into my office just a few minutes late.


The Golden Globes

I rarely watch awards shows – aside from the Grammys, of course. Most are way too long and a waste of time. Plus, I’m a cynic about the politics, qualifications of the judges and all that goes into selecting the winners. … It's all subjective.

But when you book Tina Fey and Amy Poehlertwo of my favorite entertainers of all time – to host the thing? Yep, I’ll watch!

Totally worth it. EW posted their best jokes here. ... I especially enjoyed the Meryl Streep line.

And yes, the presentation of fellow SNL alums Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell was totally amusing.

Best acceptance speech: Adele for her best original song in "Skyfall."

Although, everybody seems to be talking about what Jodie Foster did – or didn’t – say. Looking stunning, she had me standing in awe in front of the TV as I watched her speech, and it was easily one of the most memorable moments of the show.

Here's two more good reads ...
a The Lifting of a Veil, Discreetly
a Jodie Foster speaks out

Back to Tina and Amy. I was catching up on my online reading and surfing the web tonight when I stumbled across this gem that's now nearly a decade old  …


Some weekend

It was the best of weekends, it was the worst of weekends …

Let’s start with Friday. Our washing machine broke down Christmas Day, and Friday was the soonest we could get a repairman to check it out.

He pulled it out, inspected it and determined it needed a new pump and belt, which I was prepared to hear. Then, after further inspection, he also determined the washer needed a new motor, which had burned out – literally. It melted its plastic parts and even burned a strip in the carpet on the floor of our laundry room. I guess that explains the burning smell I found when I discovered the washer’s demise Christmas Day.

The repairman’s visit ended with me giving him the go-ahead to order the replacement parts, and we expect to see him again later this week when he installs them and finishes the job. Which in the end, despite the inconvenience, will be several hundred dollars cheaper than buying a new machine.

So we’re good.

* * *

Friday night we went bowling with my work colleagues and our families. A belated holiday party. We had loads of fun. We reserved two lanes for the adults and two lanes with bumpers for the kids.

Phoebe had never been bowling, and I’m not sure she even knew what that meant, but we played it up for her all week long. And when she went to school Friday, apparently it was quite the topic of conversation among her and Lucas, one of her classmates whose mother works in my office. So much so that she told her teachers she was going to sleep during her nap so she could be ready for the bowling.

As we pulled out of our driveway to head toward the bowling alley, Phoebe announced from the back seat, “Guess what?” – because that’s how she starts every sentence these days – “Me and Lucas both took naps today, so we’re all ready for bowling!”

Phoebe took right to it, with an orange bowling ball. And every one of her turns was adorable in its Phoebe way. She’d step to the bowling lane. Set the ball down and push it just enough to get it going. Then she would immediately turn around and stroll back to her chair to resume eating her snacks, completely ignoring the big orange ball that was bobbing its way off the bumpers and traveling ever-so-slowly toward the pins. Five, 10, maybe 15 seconds later, the ball would reach its destination, knock over some pins and attract hardly a shrug from Phoebe. … But when her new point total appeared on the board, she’d break into a jumping fit and shout the latest total, “Daddy! I got 13 points!”

Toward the end of the night someone taught her how to push the ball while turned backward …

For the record, I’ve never been a great bowler. But I enjoy it, and my game seems to improve the older I get. I bowled a 127 in my first game.

And I bowled a 147 in my second game, topped with a strike to start off the last frame. I believe it’s my all-time best score. And I even bowled a goose egg in the first frame.

* * *

Saturday, Kates and I sorted the laundry, and I agreed to take it to the laundromat.

Aside from the cheesy infomercial about some brain enhancer product on the TV, it wasn’t so bad. The college students are moving back to town this weekend, fresh off of four weeks of doing their laundry at their homes, so the mat was relatively open and quiet.

I filled four washing machines and spent the cycles sitting at a booth, transcribing some of my interviews during the week.

Twenty or so minutes later, I was moving the loads to the drying machines. When they were finished, I folded our laundry, and I was out of there in 2 ½ hours.

Aside from the fact that I spent about 10 bucks in quarters, the time it took, using four machines at the same time, sure beat the time it usually takes us to finish the process with our single washer and dryer at home.

* * *

Shortly after I returned home, things really got interesting.

Phoebe, who we discovered had a fever as were putting her to bed Friday night, started complaining her stomach hurt. … A few minutes later, she was bent over the toilet and vomiting.

Cut to a couple hours later in the afternoon. Kates and Faye had just woken from a nap on the couch, and Kates, while lying on the couch, had Faye sitting on her belly. Suddenly, white formula vomit began erupting from Faye’s mouth and poured down onto Kates like a waterfall. It seemed to go for several minutes …

(Is this good reading, or what?)

After bumbling around the kitchen trying to find something to clean up the mess, I finally just grabbed Faye away from Kates and carried her to the bathtub, where I stripped her down. And Faye began giggling and slapping her hands to her legs like I was her stuffed giraffe.

A couple minutes later, after she had cleaned the mess from herself and changed clothes, Kates came into the bathroom and tossed her dirty clothes into the bathtub on top of Faye’s.

At that point, I burst out laughing. “Both of our girls are sick and throwing up, and our washing machine is broken! Could this get any better?!”

Today, Phoebe had a low fever. And Faye vomited again. Neither will be going to school tomorrow.

* * *

We can't be sure it's a flu bug we're dealing with at our house -- all of us have had our flu shots except Phoebe -- but ..

Is it just me, or does it seem like the media behaves every winter like it's the worst flu season we've ever seen? To Gail Collins' smart-and-witty-as-usual column Friday, I say: Exactly.
* * *

It sure has been an excellent weekend to watch the NFL playoffs. Even though three of the four teams I was rooting for lost.

Only the Patriots' win left me pleased. And that was the only game that never was in doubt.

And I worked through most of the Falcons-Seahawks game, while following the updates on Twitter. It was only when I saw the tweets anouncing the Seahawks had gone ahead with 31 seconds left in regulation that I turned to the game on TV. Only to see the Falcons move down the field and win it with a last-second field goal.

Broncos-Ravens. A great game that looked like it was in the Broncos' hands every time Trindon Holliday fielded a punt or kick. ... Then Peyton Manning through an interception in overtime, and the game turned into a Ravens win.

Of course, the most upsetting loss was the 49ers' defeat of the Packers.

Meanwhile, our hometown hero, Miss America was giving up her crown. ... Has it really been a year since we watched her crowning moment?


Clear and strong

2013 is off to a fantastic start ... The other night I told Kates, I'm on fire.

As I write this, I'm fully aware that I'm in a lull in my graduate work and my attitude may be completely different in a couple weeks, but here's hoping that doesn't slow me down ...

I'm catching up -- and keeping up -- with projects like I haven't done in a long time. Not since Faye was born. Not since I started my graduate work. ...

And even though Faye is still waking us up every couple hours and neither Kates nor I can remember the last time we truly got a good night's sleep ...

I'm really happy and content.

Maybe it's the knowledge that I'm over the hump. That it's all downhill from here. ... The fall semester was a tough, draining one. And as it was winding down and I had completed my coursework, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulder. Something clicked. I've found some clarity again.

We had a refreshing and inspiring holiday vacation, and I hit the ground running upon returning.

As the new year has begun, I've resolved to conscientiously spend more time with the kids. Not just be present, but be there in the precious moments with them. ... I like to think I'm pretty good at balancing work with life. But I can do better.

So far so good on that one.

And I resolve to do a better job of updating my blog ... Even if it's just a breezy post about a snippet of my day. Too often I get buried in the unnecessary details. And I'm going to get back to sharing with you the good music I'm listening to, which tonight, for instance, is Augustana and The Avett Brothers.

So this morning was our all-employee meeting at the university. Leadership expert Tim Elmore was our keynote speaker, and he delivered
some fascinating insights to generational differences within our society today. I'd go into more detail, but I'm trying to be breezy, so check out his blog.

And this afternoon I went 700 feet underground and toured a cement mine with a university alumnus as part of the cover story I'm working on for our spring magazine. The experience was totally unexpected -- and totally amazing. And yes, a little bit scary. 

The university photographer and I suited up in protective gear and rode an elevator shaft below ground with the mine director. Then, we boarded a jeep-like vehicle and rode around the caverns -- just like driving on a state highway -- for nearly an hour, occassionally stepping out to talk to some of the miners and watch their processes.   

Miners have their own little community down there, with workshops and huge equipment, including dump trucks that are larger than some houses (... They're so large that they have to drop the pieces into the mine and assemble them underground). The  mine director described the pillars throughout the mine as a forest of rock. At the same time, I likened the high ceilings and arches in the rock to a cathedral. It was magestic. 

It was just another day in my lucky life. ...  


Christmas vacation: The finale

We’re at home tonight, relishing the final hours of our Christmas vacation. I spent the afternoon watching the football playoffs and playing with Faye, while Kates took Phoebe with her to the elementary school and made some preparations for her week.

My vacation beard is shaved. The kiddos are in bed. And tomorrow morning we’ll return to the organized chaos that is getting them ready for school and daycare and navigating the workday.

* * *

We completed the traveling portion of our vacation Thursday, although it officially was Friday morning when we rolled into our garage.

By the time we got everyone dressed, bathed and packed that morning, it was 11 a.m. – far later than I preferred, but I’m coming to grips with that part of having two girls under the age of 5. We said goodbye to Kates’ parents in Milwaukee and next headed south to suburban Chicago for lunch with our good friends Ray and Leah with their 3-year-old daughter Audre.

A chili lunch waited for us there, and we conversed while Phoebe and Audrey set up a pretend birthday party with all varieties of dolls in the next room.

We departed around 4, with our next destination set on our house. Kates had pitched the idea for trying to drive as far as we could and spending the night at a hotel in Iowa, but I wasn’t going for it. Besides, we didn’t need to spend the money.

We stopped for supper in Davenport, Iowa, at a McDonald’s – Phoebe insisted – and it had a play area that was modeled after a jungle. After downing her Happy Meal, she was in playtime heaven.

Shortly after we began traveling again, the girls were asleep for the night. We made a final pit stop in Osceola for gas, and they barely stirred.

Also, note how packed our vehicle was …

After leaving Ray and Leah, I pinpointed 1 a.m. as our arrival time in The ‘Ville, and we hit it.

I carried Phoebe to her bed, and Kates carried Faye to hers, both sound asleep. Then I unpacked the car, only to get everything in the house. The suitcases and bags and new gifts remained in the dining room until I could put most of it away Friday afternoon.

One of the best things about returning to our home after being away for a while? It has a distinct, flowery aroma within it. Coming back to it and moving our stuff back inside Friday morning was almost like the bliss of moving for the first time – except our furniture was already here. It’s refreshing.

Being able to finally sleep in our own beds was refreshing, too.

* * *

Friday, I was up by 7:30 a.m. and got Faye off to the daycare. Again, we had to pay for the duration of our two-week vacation, so we were going to get as much of our money’s worth as we could.

Kates was off to her school by 11 a.m. for a meeting and work day. Phoebe and I spent the day hanging around the house, putting things away after our traveling and running some errands.

* * *

Friday evening turned slightly traumatic. Kates came home around 5, not feeling well and wanted to lay down. So I ordered some takeout and the took the girls with me to pick it up. … As I was pulling into the crowded parking lot, there was a pickup truck in front of me and the driver appeared to be attempting to pull into a parking space. Then, she started backing up. I began honking my horn as the truck showed no signs of stopping and – crunch – the truck hit my car’s front end.


Then! The truck pulled forward again, the driver apparently trying to squeeze into the same parking spot. I didn’t move, waiting to see what the driver was going to do and whether she was going to acknowledge she backed into my car. Instead, she gave up on parking, exited the parking lot and drove away.

In the time it took for her to attempt to park, I used my handy dandy smartphone to record her license plate and a description of the vehicle. … Frustrated and shaken and with the little ones in the car, I opted not to call the police right away, got our food and headed home. … I then called the police, who had me come down to the station, and filed a report. Although I’m no expert in auto bodies, there doesn’t appear to be any damage to my car outside of a broken license plate cover. Still, I believed that filing a record of it was the right thing to do.

As of tonight, I’ve learned the driver was a 17-year-old girl who just received her license. The police obtained her insurance information, which is under her father, and we’ll have to sort out what to do next.

* * *

I cooled down from the mishap and we enjoyed our takeout. The food seemed to help Kates, who admittedly was exhausted and hadn’t eaten much all day, feel better.

For our evening entertainment we turned to our DVR recording of last week’s Kennedy Center Honors program, which this year featured Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Led Zeppelin, Buddy Guy and Natalia Makarova.

I respect the other performers, but really I just wanted to watch the program for David Letterman and Led Zeppelin, who, fittingly, were the last two honorees highlighted during the night.

Tina Fey’s introduction of Letterman was perfect.

And the tribute to Led Zeppelin was electric.

Afterward, all I wanted to do was crank some Led Zeppelin. So I did, on my iPhone. And we proceeded to rock out, having one of our epic dance parties in the kitchen. Phoebe brought down her instrument kit from her bedroom and she danced and jumped around the room, performing while Kates and I sat on the floor as her audience.

I’m on a Led Zeppelin kick now and was playing my vinyl copy of their IV album earlier tonight. The music made Faye smile and she seemed to really enjoy it.

* * *

I reserved Saturday for catching up on emails, online reading, running errands, taking down the Christmas lights and getting the cars washed.

We also took in the Packers playoff win over the Vikings. Aside from the Vikings opening drive, which yielded a field goal, it was hardly a contest. The Packers rolled, and I like the way they’re looking as the playoffs are gearing up.

Admittedly, I dozed off during the last couple minutes of the game and then stumbled to bed around 11. I still needed to catch up on lost sleep during our travels.

It’s been a very good Christmas vacation.


Christmas vacation: Day 12

We played it low-key at my parents for New Year’s Eve Monday.

Dad and I spent most of the afternoon on the floor, picking through piles and books of old black and white photographs he inherited from my grandmother’s house, photographs of my great-grandparents and grandparents in their young adult lives. There were depictions of happy, simpler times during family gatherings at my great grandparents’ farm and my grandparents’ home. The pictures also brought to life more of the names that I’ve discovered during my research of our family tree. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

We spent the final hours of the year watching “Enchanted” on TV and then New Year's Eve with Carson Daly. We could barely keep our eyes open long enough to see the ball drop, but we succeeded and called it a night very quickly after the hoopla died down in New York City – past midnight there but before the clock struck midnight in our time zone.

* * *

Tuesday morning we watched the Rose Bowl Parade and then packed up for our next destination: Sheboygan for another Christmas family gathering, this time with Kates’ father’s side of the family.

Once again, the girls slept for most of the two-hour drive. And they were greeted with hugs and kisses and fanfare when we arrived. Like our other family gathering Sunday, it was the first time many of them met Faye.

The dining table was covered with snacks, and conversations filled the room. And when the eating died down, there was more gift-unwrapping. Clothes, games, DVDs and toys were exchanged once more. … This time, the gift of the moment was a Baby Sniffles Ernie doll given to Faye. The significance of this is that Phoebe, Faye and I each got Ernie dolls as babies, all of which we still possess.

The party died down and we were on the road shortly after 6 p.m., heading to Kates’ parents Milwaukee apartment for the night.

* * *

The family gatherings complete, we reserved the remainder of our trip today and tomorrow for reuniting with old friends. Today’s destination: K-Town. We officially departed town 2 ½ years ago now, and it had been two Christmases since we last visited. We’ve seen some of our old friends from K-Town during meet-ups at different places, during other times. Only when we start to think about how young Phoebe was when we moved does it sink in that we’ve been away longer than what seems like a few months.

We met our good friends Laura and Kevin and Wes at their beautiful new house – that’s just across from one of the town’s Lake Michigan beaches. Laura texted me the address and we knew exactly where to find it (One of the great things about K-Town always has been that all of the streets are named by numbers, with streets running east-west and avenues running north-south. So when someone tells you to meet them in K-Town at, for example, 4303 Eighth Avenue, you immediately know, without having ever been to the place, that it’s located on the north side of town, eight blocks from the lake.). … After getting the tour of the house, we headed down the road for lunch at the Coffee Pot, a classic diner near the city’s downtown. I ordered a turkey melt, and it was arguably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. … Over lunch, we caught up on each other’s lives, and Laura, who became a close newspaper buddy of mine, updated me on the continuing soap opera at the K-Town News. … Afterward, we headed back to their house, where Laura and Phoebe had fun making balloon animals. Laura made her a puppy, which Phoebe popped while playing with it in the car later – and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Not just today, but throughout this trip, there has been memories, nostalgia and sentiments at nearly every turn, on nearly every road we travel. It was prevalent when we joined family in one of my old stomping grounds Sunday, and I noticed it again last night as we traveled the road between Sheboygan and Milwaukee, especially through the highway network that makes up the Marquette Interchange through downtown Milwaukee and past Miller Park, where our beloved Milwaukee Brewers play ball. My family traveled that route so many days and nights, and looking out the car windows as we passed the old County Stadium, marveling at the engineering of the old Marquette Interchange or smelling the yeast that permeated the city from all the breweries, always ranked among the highlights of the drive. And there I was last night, telling Phoebe to look out her window as we passed Miller Park.

As we drove around K-Town today, there were more memories around nearly every corner, fond memories we built over seven years there. The first apartment Kates and I shared. The family-owned diners and Italian bakeries we frequented, some of which have changed hands. The hospital where Phoebe was born. The parks we visited. The old-time stadium where I played baseball on Sunday afternoons, and Kates would walk over with Phoebe in the stroller to watch me play. And, back to my newspaper experiences, all the crime scenes I covered.

We drove by our old house and then made our way up 75th Street, to Noni’s house – the place we took Phoebe for daycare during the first two years of her life, and the neither of the daycares we’ve had Phoebe or Faye at since then can compare. There was plenty more nostalgia there as we walked to the front door, Noni’s teenage boys greeted us and the family’s little dogs barked as they swirled our feet. The boys led us to the lower level which serves as the base for the daycare, and Noni lovingly embraced Phoebe like she always used to. Some of Phoebe’s old playmates were still there, and her handprint was still on one of the walls, too. Phoebe immediately started pulling out some of the toys, and Faye naturally joined the other kids playing on the carpet.

We made our final stop in K-Town at a Panera Bread to meet old friends Raechel and Shaun. Just as we did with Laura and Kevin, we enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives and just being in each other’s company. … I established close friendships with both couples during our years in K-Town – we experienced newspaper adventures together, attended concerts together and they were among those lucky enough to hold Phoebe shortly after she was born. I miss them greatly.

Phoebe made fast friends today with all of the people we encountered in K-Town, whether she remembered them from her previous life or not. When we were ready to leave Panera, she took Raechel’s hand and made her walk to the car with us.

We said our goodbyes, buckled the girls into their car seats and were driving again. Both girls were zonked before we exited the city limits and they slept all the way back to their grandparents’ apartment.

* * *

Now we’re watching “Horton Hears a Who” – a delightful little movie I never knew was made – and I can barely keep my eyes open.

We’ve made the rounds and we’re growing weary now, anxious to get back home – to The ‘Ville. To return to our normal routines and ways.