Friday, November 23, 2007

A Bar Mitzvah and a Baptism

Wow, November is flying by, which means before you know it will be Arbor Day! I swear, every year I promise myself that I’ll have the tree ready to plant by the end of March, but I’m always running around at the last minute trying to find the right one.

It has been a while since the last update here, so this will be a longer one. Hopefully, you’ll find it entertaining, too!

Keelie is very “talkative” these days, and thus cuter than ever. Too bad she still doesn’t sleep through the night. She’s been reaching out for Shelby lately and giving her soft pats. She’s also been reaching, grabbing, and holding on to glasses, hair, and necklaces with all of her might. She’s just started holding her own bottle to the point of pulling it out and putting it back in again.

From joy to sadness...As I noted previously, Bruce Gordon, someone who was a hero of mine, passed away suddenly – and way too young - not long after our previous full update here. That bummed me out and cast a cloud over me. You can read more here.

Early in the month, we were battling colds and really wanted them to be cleared up before Keelie’s first flight, especially since air travel can be extra hard on a baby with a cold. Flying is draining enough on me, and I used to keep myself down to carry-on luggage, but of course marriage and a baby and security restrictions have all made that impossible now.

We were all set to fly out of town on the 8th and fly back late in the afternoon of the 12th on a trip centered around a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday the 10th for my father-in-law’s eldest grandchild (Kori has two older half-sisters from Bill’s first marriage). Word came that Bruce’s memorial was set for 2 p.m. on the 12th. I reserved hope that we could end up changing our flight back in order to make the memorial. I felt a need to pay my respects and have an event to deal with my feelings.

Though the Bar Mitzvah festivities went well and were a good time, the overall trip ended up NOT being one of our better trips. I was already trying not to focus on Bruce's death, but then some other things happened.

We were up early on Thursday the 8th, after not getting enough sleep. Kori had packed most of our luggage days earlier because she was so stressed about our first trip with Keelie. We drove over to her parents' place and then Bill drove us in our minivan to LAX. We were flying to Philadelphia through Vegas, and we did not get a seat for Keelie because we knew she'd want to be held most of the time anyway. It was a hassle to get through security with the stroller/car seat combo and everything else.

For the flights out to Philly, we were in a row of three, with someone else, so we were packed tight. Keelie did well enough flying. Her cold was mostly gone, and we deliberately gave her the bottle during takeoffs and landings to help with her ears. When she did cry, the sounds of the plane were loud enough that she wasn't much of a problem to others.

The flight into Vegas was short, of course, and it is always interesting to see the Strip from the sky. All of our flights seemed to have a lot of turbulence. Nothing too violent, but more than enough bouncing around. The turbulence didn't bother Keelie. The announcements about turbulence, though, would jar her awake.

We had to switch planes in Vegas, which was a hassle, but the silver lining was that Keelie likes to be walked around.

I'd never been to Philadelphia before. The drivers struck me as much more friendly than here. Our hotel was in the boonies. It was a Marriott that Kori picked because of the lower rates and because they had a kitchen in the room, so we could store the breast milk in the freezer and fridge, then warm it up with little hassle. The way the room was set up, I would get out of bed and automatically be standing on the kitchen tile. I could reach the fridge without getting out of bed. Now that’s a man-friendly design!

Checking the Blackberry, I could see there was a lot of activity at work, including some e-mails to which I had to respond right away. This is why some people are reluctant to take vacations. They end up not being restful because the work piles up at the office, especially if you are they are the only person who handles certain things.

We completely forgot to watch Survivor until the very tail end of the episode. It was late when we finally got around to dinner. We had Philly cheesesteaks delivered. Yummy.

Friday the 9th, we slept in. Keelie slept in a crib just fine, so we decided she no longer needed to sleep at an incline in the bouncer on our bed at home.

We drove to meet up with Kendra & Steve, who were staying in the main hotel were everything was happening, had lunch in a small local place, and then went into the city for sightseeing. We visited the Liberty Bell (lots of security! expensive parking!) and Independence Hall. Got some pictures. The area is beautiful. For dinner, after enduring really slow traffic back out of the city, we hit Cracker Barrel. But then we couldn't find the onramp to the freeway so we managed to successfully guess our way back to Kendra & Steve's hotel on meandering surface streets.

Saturday the 10th was Bar Mitzvah day. We managed to sleep in again. We skipped the actual ceremony, since we had the noisy baby and all. There was a cocktail hour with great food during which we gathered for photos, as this was a rare occasion where all of Bill’s grandchildren and four of his seven children and their spouses were together. The mother of the Bar Mitzvah had made it out for our wedding and Kendra & Steve’s wedding, and it was nice to see her again.

The party/meal was good, with a live band and live dancers. Kori and I lit our candle to the band playing "Zip a Dee Doo Dah". When we picked that song, I had no idea of course that Bruce, who oversaw Splash Mountain (which features the song), would have just died.

Keelie was a hit.

We retired for a bit to Pam & Bill's room, and then went back down for the "family" dinner in the skybox. The appetizers included, among other things, crab cakes and BBQd shrimp wrapped in bacon. Mmmm.

On Sunday the 11th, we slept in again. Pam, Bill, Kendra, and Steve came to pick us up (Bill had rented a minivan) and we continued on to Hershey, where Bill lived through much of his childhood. Hershey, of course, is where the Hershey chocolate company is based and where the Hersheys provided all sorts of philanthropy. I was s bit cramped in the back with Kori and Keelie, and perhaps suffering from food poisoning. The drive out there was about 2 hours, and the countryside was beautiful and free of the litter, graffiti, burned-out cars, and dead bodies to which we’ve been accustomed during our drives back home. We even saw an Amish horse & buggy going by! (Cue Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise”) The only problem was… I wasn’t doing well. Perhaps car sicknesses was playing a part. We drove slowly through Hershey, including by their awesome theme park (closed for the season), and stopped by Bill's childhood home. It was all very nice… but I wasn’t doing well.

Kori had us stop at a Wendy's because she needed a quick bite and she thought I could also benefit from raising my blood sugar - bless her. The smell of the place only made it worse for me. Kori got me a huge lemonade, which I barely sipped, and a frosty, of which I had very little. That's when you know I'm sick... when I turn down food. Kendra switched places with me for the 2-hour drive back, which gave me more room. That was very nice of her. I went into sort of a shut-down mode, crossing my arms over my chest and bowing my head with my eyes closed... and kind of slept. That seemed to work. I felt like I was making it through. When we got back to surface streets, I directed Bill back to our hotel, and realized I was feeling as bad as ever. We pulled into the parking lot and I jumped out of the minivan and lost it. Steve helped Kori get Keelie out and followed me into the hotel room.

Unfortunately, in the dark and the commotion, we left our brand new digital camera in the back of the rented minivan, something we wouldn't realize until we got home to Anaheim. This is why this posting does not have a picture of us at the Liberty Bell. The others continued on to dinner while we retired for the night. At dinner, Steve bit into his food to find *a staple* that chipped his tooth. The manager at the restaurant acted as though this happens on a weekly basis.

Oh- and there was no way we'd be able to fly back to make Bruce's memorial. Ugh!!

Monday the 12th, we had to get up early to make our flight. Keelie had woken up frequently overnight, but was able to sleep soundly in the morning as we prepared to leave. There was a lot of traffic heading in to town, so we were in a big hurry as we approached the airport so as to not miss our flight. Thus, we returned the rental car to Hertz (that’s the Hertz at the Philadelphia Airport, for those of you keeping score) with half a tank of gas, and they charged us $7.19 per gallon. The gas charge almost doubled our entire rental bill. I guess they must hire Donald Trump to fill up the gas?

We made it for boarding, but I noticed that our three-piece car seat, base, and stroller combo wasn't tagged at the gate in the exact the same way it was on our flight out.

On the flight to Phoenix, we had the three seats to ourselves, which was nice. No such luck on the short flight from Phoenix to LAX. When we got to LAX... TA DA! Our stroller/car seat set did not arrive with us! My mother had come to pick us up. After about an extra hour, we left with a loaner car seat and my mother drove us back to Pam & Bill's in Anaheim. We wanted to get dinner for my mother to thank her, and we ended up taking along Pam & Bill to a family Italian place around the corner, even though we were exhausted and Keelie was very grumpy.

At Pam & Bill's Kori had looked for our camera. We confirmed we didn't have it when we got back home. Keelie was grumpy from being overly tired. Kori was tired and upset and swore off traveling.

Tuesday morning, the 13th, I ended up looking after Keelie until Kori got up in the afternoon. She needed to rest, and I’m glad she did. She was feeling much better.

That was also the day Keelie reached 21 weeks of age! She was so excited, she grabbed her left foot.

The airline called and said they had our car seat/stroller. We told them to deliver it to Pam & Bill's because we were going there for Bill's birthday dinner. Everyone made it for dinner.

Unfortunately, it meant getting home way past my bedtime, so I got all tired out.

We have been unable to reach someone live at National Rental Car at the Philadelphia Airport. We have left messages about our camera, but have not heard back. Clearly, it has been stolen. The camera had been registered with Kodak online, and I called Kodak to tell them the situation. I’m sure it won’t matter. I know there’s a way to track these things, but I know they won’t do it.

Last Friday, I covered a "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" 70th anniversary event at California Adventure for Since Kori is a big Snow White fan, I decided to go ahead and spend the money getting her the expensive package, too. Kori appreciated the thought, but she wasn't all that into it. Giving birth has changed her. She’d rather spend her time with Keelie and spend the money on diapers.

We dropped off Keelie with Kendra, who was gracious enough to babysit along with Steve, who was on his way home, and went to the event. You can read about that here.

Sunday the 18th was a special day. Keelie got baptized at the church where her Puma and Granddaddy sing in the choir, and where Kori used to go.

I had no idea how big of a deal this was going to be, but I should have, considering how Pam feels about her first granddaughter.

The church Kori, Keelie, and I attend regularly baptizes people when they ask to be baptized, not when their parents want them to be baptized. They "dedicate" babies instead, because Jesus was dedicated in the temple as a baby and then baptized as an adult, according to the Bible.

Keelie’s godparents are neighbors to Pam & Bill - Jerry and Lynda. Very nice people, and it was so sweet of them to agree to this. Great people.
We got there to the church in Huntington Beach as the first service was letting out at 9:30. Many people swarmed around Keelie. It was obvious that Pam must talk about her a lot. My father came...
and my mother came down...
...with Kim, Mike, and the boys.
Vicky had to work and Chris couldn’t make it either. Kori's siblings were all there, and Steve's parents were even there. I mean, this is their daughter-in-law's niece getting baptized. I'm surprised – and honored - they made it.

The baptism was early in the 10am service. The pastor (a nice woman) called us all up in front of everyone. Keelie got three splashes of water to the side of her head. Different churches do different things for baptism. Some dunk you in the ocean. Me? I had gotten two wet fingers tapped to the side of my head three times. Then the pastor walked Keelie around the room so everyone could get closer look. After the pastor ended one of the prayers in the baptism with "amen", Keelie said something - most people heard "amen". It was funny.
After the service, everyone swarmed around Keelie again. Then we went back to Pam & Bill's for a reception, complete with food, gifts, and speech by Pam. It was a big deal. My dad scored points with my nephews by letting Blaine drive his convertible BMW from the church to the house.

Work has been busy, so I’m thankful for the holidays.

We have much for which to be thankful, so it makes sense that we celebrated Thanksgiving twice. We did Thanksgiving at Pam & Bill’s on Wednesday night, since that is what worked with Puma’s work schedule. Yesterday, we went to my mother’s in Pasadena to have Thanksgiving with her and my siblings. All of this meant more attention for Keelie, of course!
Thanks for reading. Remember – with most of the pictures in these postings, you can see a bigger version by clicking on it. And you can also save the picture by right-clicking on it. You can leave a comment here and you can send us an e-mail message at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ken's Latest Report Now Online

The moment you've been waiting for is finally here!

Ken's written and pictoral coverage of the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" 70th Anniversary Event is now online at

Go to to read all about the exclusive event at California Adventure.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Keelie, Weird Al, and Fires - Oh My!

Thanks for tuning in to the Los Angeles Pellmans of Anaheim. It’s time for another photo update. Remember, you can usually click on a picture to see a bigger version.

First of all, as I write, there is a “red flag warning” again as far as the weather conditions, but the fire situation was under control the last time I checked. Where we live, we get ash, smoke, and haze, but the fires don’t ever come close to us, thankfully. But here I am grabbing Keelie just in case.

Okay... so where did we leave off? Oh yes… on the 20th of October, we went to get Keelie’s “official” four-month photo. Unfortunately, the place was busy because everyone was taking pictures for their holiday cards. We arrived in time for our appointment, and Keelie was great for the hour we ended up waiting. Then, the moment it was time to take her picture, she got very upset. It probably had to do with her adorable costume.

We ended up letting some other people go ahead of us and then we got a photo of Keelie after she fell asleep.

Saturday also happened to be the last night of the “Weird Al” Yankovic tour!!! We went to my mother's for dinner and to drop off Keelie, taking along her swing and some other stuff. It was the first time Keelie would be without either of us. My mother and Kim were happy to babysit. Kori and I took off for the Greek Theater. The Santa Ana winds were really going, and the Greek is in Griffith Park, where there had been some fires earlier this year.

The concert wasn’t sold out, and given that it was the last night of the tour, that’s understandable. Al and the band had made plenty of other southern California appearances in the preceding months. Guess who was there, though? Dave, the creative Idea Guy I once interned under. He was being a cool uncle again and taking his nephew to the concert.

Al and the band were flawless. They always put on one heck of a show. It wasn't quite the experience I was used to, though, probably because I didn't have my friends with me who are also Al fans. It’s a long story, but Kori and I were never sure we were actually going to the concert until about a minute before we walked through the door, and that lack of certain anticipation also kind of subdued me.

It was the first time I didn’t linger after the concert. So, I'm no longer a Weird Al Die-Hard Fan. I'm a WANNA-BE Weird Al Die-Hard Fan!!! All of the Close Personal Friends of Al, Al-oholics, Al-lies, and Yank-ees laugh at me and mock me for my failure.

But we had to get back to our little cutie.

Keelie had been mostly good for my family. She was asleep when we picked her up and she slept on the way home.

The next morning, we woke up to find that Malibu was on fire, and for the rest of the week the fires would be on television and radio nonstop. We could hear the strong Santa Ana winds all day and for the next few days.

For dinner that night, we went to Puma & Granddaddy Keel’s.

Okay, here are some pics of Keelie on the couch.

Looks like she is so happy to be photographed. Yes, she is on her way to becoming America's Next Top Model.

"Hmmmm, covering my eyes didn't work. Maybe covering my ears?"

I ended up working quite late at the end of my workweek, thanks to the Medfly. Then, instead of starting my weekend, I was up early the next day and off to the Palos Verdes Peninsula to do news media work.

In the evening, the entire Keel clan met for dinner in Fountain Valley to remember Kori’s Grandmommy Keel, who had passed away after a long convalescence.

It seemed like everyone had some stage of a cold, which was okay because Keelie did, too.

There she is with Auntie Kendra and Uncle Steve, and below are Auntie Kirby, Uncle Troy, and Uncle Toby.

As you can see below, Puma is completely bored with Keelie now ;-)

Granddaddy Keel got his turn to hold Keelie.

We went to Steve & Kendra’s annual Halloween party, which was a lot of fun.

We were able to make it down to see Boot Hill in Irvine, which is getting better and better every year. Keelie wasn't scared in the least.

This past Tuesday evening, we went to El Cholo for our last fix of green corn tamales until next May.

Wednesday, we went back to my old apartment complex (where I still have family) and used it as the base of our “trick or treating”. Really, what we did was dress Keelie up in her costume and went around to show some of the gang in South Pas. We even ended up getting a tour of my childhood home, which I’d been in once since it was sold, but Kori had never stepped foot inside. I was glad she got the tour. The family that bought it keeps it immaculately clean, and they’ve really done a nice job with the place. I had lived there from about the time I had my first birthday until I moved out for my freshman year of college, and my family had continued to live there for a few more years after that.

Keelie was getting fussy, so we had to stop making the rounds.

Kori, mercifully, takes care of Keelie when I sleep, and usually doesn’t have me get up to tend to her. Keelie still tends to wake up a few times overnight, and on my days off, one of us is usually holding her during the day, switching off to let the other person get something done. As a result, we feel like were getting very little done and some stuff just falls through the cracks. I also feel like an old fogie, with cutting back on activities due to time, energy, or logistics.

But gosh darnit, Keelie’s such an adorable little girl, with her laughs and her smiles and her eyes, and it is so heart-warming to see Kori mothering her.

I almost forgot – Keelie really likes her left foot, for some reason. She’ll grab it with her left hand and hold on to it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this latest update. You can always comment here or you can e-mail us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com.