Thursday, June 28, 2012

Italy: Day Two

But I am writing this on day three so whatever.  Anyway, |I awoke yesterday morning and there's no start to the day like continental breakfast...regardless of the continent.  It just wakes you up and gets you going... well, that and not having to pay for one meal.  Yes, cheap Americans.

Anyway, I was thinking of taking a train trip in the morning but by the time I arrived at the train station, I knew that I wouldn't have enough time to get back to see The Last Supper at 4:15.  Instead I wanted to wander and see much of the center of town.  At least I tried to.  I went in the wrong direction and walked for two hours outside the center trying to figure out why I wasn't IN the center.  Stupid maps.  My supposedly brief walk expanded into a four hour hike. I nearly didn't get back in time to resettle, put on my pants, and go see the artwork.  Yes, one must wear pants when entering Italian churches.  Fine by me as I don't like wearing shorts to Mass anyway... just doesn't feel right.

This was another good walk spoiled.  With a few misread turns of the map (many streets NOT on the listing), I circled and circled and circled... never did find the church at the appointed time.  I was to be there no later than 3:45 to reserve my spot.  Alas, I finally did find the church... at 4:30.  I was a tired, sweaty, exasperated mess!  But the kindness of their hearts allowed me in.  The good news was that I was allowed to stand in with another tour group for their 15 minute stint. The bad news?  They were in there for eight minutes already!  Oh well, seven minutes of seeing the artistic rendering painted on the said of a chapel wall was good enough for me.

I made it back to the hotel later enough to watch the Portugal/Spain soccer game.  0-0 tie settled with goal kicks.  Wow, how droll... says the American.

As for day three?  I don't think I have the energy left to travel the country by train. I might just hit local museums instead.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Italy: Day One

First of all, I tend to forget how European keyboards are slightly different than American keyboards so my apologies if things are amiss. I'll rectify that when I return to the states.

I'm here in Italy on behalf as a bone marrow courier for City of Hope (yea, Miss Jill!).  The initial flight took off 30 minutes late so I feared that I would miss my connection.  Nothing like sitting in a plane, knowing that you can't do anything about it.  Then all the other people in the plane think they're in a rush when you actually have the life-saving marrow and you know that YOU are the only one in a trul life-or-death rush.  Luckily my connecting flight was late so I made it Milan in time.

Hey, it's Garribaldi
In Milan, I was actually picked up at the airport and then driven to the hospital.  That's usually not the case. Typically, you're on your own trying to find places.  Quite the difficult task on minimum sleep and 10+ hours of flying.  So at least I got a ride... alas, my driver knew NO English so the hour long ride was a bit silent.  He kindly drove me over to the train station afterward when I trained it from the hospital in Pavia back to Milan.  From there it was a 30 minute walk through intense city crowds and summer humidity to find the hotel.  It sounds difficult and it is... but there's something quite fun about the challenge.  I mean, there really is an aspect of fun to running around and trying to find things.  It's like The Amazing Race but no other challengers.

I had an excellent meal tonight with two dinners: the primi piatti and the segundi piatti.  Ah, I love Italian dinners.  Now it's back to some brief TV and some really long sleep.  I had dinner around 8 and everyone was still walking home from work or just getting stuff done.  Wow.  The night has yet to begin for them.  Well, their night begins now and I am off to sleep.  Ciao...

As for tomorrow... The Last Supper awaits.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Nothing cooler than a pic of the Grand Canyon

Waffles and Other Things

 So Fathers Day has come and passed but not before Daddy busted out some tasty waffles for the big day.  Somehow the Erb tradition started when Aunt Pat coerced Grampa to fix waffles many years ago on a June Sunday morning.  Gramma said it wasn't right as he's supposed to have the day off but Pat posited that was the day he needed to prove his "Dad-ness."

Deep in the Heart of El Segundo
Many years later hopefully Daddy has proved his "Dad-ness" as well.  Of course everyone would need to ask Mary Jane and Betsy Jo but they really don't have much of a say yet.  Not to say that Mary Jane can't talk (oh, she can!) but she doesn't have the profundity yet to question Daddy's role in the great holiday known as Fathers Day. 
The Prophet
Sometimes you might have to go to an outside source... say... a mule deer in Grand Canyon Park.  He seemed innocent enough.  Of course this picture was taken before the births of Mary Jane and Betsy Jo but what you don't see in this picture is the deer saying, "What's up there, Daddy-O?"  Foretelling the future?  Hmm... methinks so.

Anyway, Daddy is looking forward to a roadtrip next week.  Many pics to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mary Jane Dances Again

Nothing can stop her other than the word "freeze."  She's nearly unstoppable at her Mommy and Me class.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Big Soft Fluffy Friend: Pengoon

Mary Jane and Betsy Jo realize that summer is upon them when none other than the Pengoon mysteriously appears in the house.  The large penguin mascot of the Mary Star Decathlon program materializes over summer and Christmas break.  He sits on the large rocking chair and quietly asserts his need for a can of tuna.  This naturally irritates TV Turtle and Sharkey who both want their share of fish food as well.  The penguin is quite placid but he does seem to intimidate the other stuffed animals with his rotund belly.  He also frightens Mommy when she sneaks off to the bathroom in the middle of the night and the suddenly he creeps in under the covers. For some reason, she blames Daddy for that when it was really Pengoon trying to get some warmth.

The Pengoon showed up one day sitting on the bar in the den.
Along with the Pengoon this year is Deborah the Zebra (pronounced the British way of course, ZEB-ruh), the mascot for the Mary Star Decathlon team #2.  Deborah was initially introduced to the family for Mary Jane's first birthday party.  She was an immediate hit with the girls but alas filled a more important team role as mascot.  Deborah and the Pengoon sit atop Mr. Erb's closet in the back corner of the room.  The proudly watched the Mary Star teams win a combined 42 medals last year.  Strong mascots indeed.

In the picture, Mary Jane and Betsy Jo sit down in front of the two mascots for the photo op.  Mary Jane and Betsy Jo are the human mascots for teams one and two, respectively.  Thus the picture actually has the right human and animal mascots lineup up. 

In the brief video, Mary Jane attempts at putting Daddy's (aka Mr. Erb's) hat on the Pengoon.  After some failed attempts, she decides to place it upon Deborah's instead.  A for effort, MJ.  Wait, let's stick with the theme: gold medal for effort, Mary Jane!

Trying to Get Betsy Jo to Wave

While Daddy was at the pediatrician's office last week, he realized through their typical update questions that he and Mommy had not taught Betsy Jo how to wave.  Oops... must have been that intolerable UCLA basketball season that kept Daddy from imparting such wisdom unto his little girl like waving and clapping.  (Meanwhile Mary Jane is a waving maniac and a clapping fiend... especially when singing the lyrics of "Who's Going to School Today?")

Here Betsy looks agog at Daddy thinking there is no way that she will wave for the camera.  Daddy tries his best and Mary Jane also obliges but to no avail.

Do notice how well Mary Jane has moved on in utensil usage.  Sorry, no chopsticks yet.  Not until Mommy and Daddy have mastered that.  And don't listen to those who say Daddy doesn't hold a fork properly.  That's just nonesense.

Officer Mary Jane Is on the Beat

Pull Over, You Are Under Arrest!
Daddy crashed the Mommy and Me class last week and got to watch Mary Jane play with the others in her class.  While one would expect lots of interaction between the children, that was not truly the case.  Every child did their own respective thing and occasionally played with one another.  The only real interaction was when one child tried to steal a toy from another.

Anyway, Mary Jane kept jumping into the miniature cars.  The police car was the one of choice for her.  Watch out, here comes Officer Erb!  If she says "Highchair," you're under arrest!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Local Teams

Kings and Dodgers
Long may they both win.  As for the Lakers... let them play golf.


I'm ready, Mommy
Mary Jane spent some time at a local park and she was ready to go down the slide.  But no, she pauses at first, to wave at the camera.  Then she goes down the slide for a fun journey.  Naturally she then replies, "Up?" and the cycle starts all over again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Girls Visit Aunt Pat and Grampa Erb

Mary Jane and Betsy Jo went out to visit Aunt Pat and Grampa yesterday.  Well, Daddy drove them out there technically.  The two girls don't quite have the savvy yet to take the Expo Line to the Gold Line yet.  Maybe some day... but not yet.

Clearly Aunt Pat put Mary Jane to hard work as she's collecting weeds in the picture to the left.  What she really did was get some weeds and put them in the bucket and them pull them back out only to them back in again.  Good repetitive work!
 Mary Jane also tried to use Garrett or Trevor's old tricycle.  It didn't work out so well for her as her legs are still a bit short but she does have the right idea.  She drove it Flintstones-like before just giving up on and asking Daddy, "Up?"  This time it truly meant, "Pick me up from this bike which doesn't work, Daddy."
Betsy Jo frolicked in the backyard grass, just running her fingers through the grass.  No leaves to eat so she was content with mere idling.  Grampa came over to keep an eye on her.  Ah, good ol' Grampa. 

Afterward the girls were both tired from their ride out to Monterey Park and briefly napped on their ride home.

At an Angel's Game

 On Tuesday night, Daddy... aka Mr. Erb, went to an Angels game with three fellow teachers.  They all chipped in on a bid at the Mary Star auction and won front row tickets to an Angels/Mariners game.  Yes, they were quite the front row seats.  So much so that Albert Pujols was blocking some of the action when El Hombre was standing in the on-deck circle.  In the next picture is Ichiro Suzuki, another certain Hall-of-Famer. 
Oh, to be so close...
Good thing no foul balls came our way.  That would have been quite a "think fast" sort of moment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I finally post about the Kings... and they lose.  And so it goes.

Anyway, the rabbits are well and it's time to start grading more papers.  Only one week left of school. 

Our movie today is Mary Jane wandering through the desert.  Where art thou going, o little one?

Monday, June 4, 2012

15 Down, One to Go

While I by no means would ever claim that I am a die-hard Kings fan (the Dodgers and UCLA basketball are the top two for me), I do admit that watching this run to the Cup is quite amazing.  The veritable road warriors have won TEN straight on the road.  Heck, even the 5-2 home record right now is quite impressive.  Every game the Kings weather the early storm and then summarily close out their opponents in the final two periods. 

Mad props to all my friends who are clearly more ardent Kings fans than me.  It's been quite a long time... since... well, ever!  And I assuredly am not trying to jinx anyone but I might as well give the team mad props when I can.  I couldn't tell you where Anze Kopitar is from, or who actually played NCAA hockey (I'd leave that Jeff), but hey, I know good sport when I watch it.  And team play is much more interesting than that one-on-one garbage those Lakers play.  How can team ball be so effective at the college level and then it's completely forgotten by the time these guys get to the pros?  Anyway, I digress...

I rarely get to watch the games as they now start at five so the girls aren't even down and asleep until the third period.  And the geniuses at NBC have decided to play the games on there new sports channel which we really don't feel like paying extra for.  I'll save that rant for another day... but for now, Kings win!  One more, guys.

Every Afternoon Is a Walking Afternoon

This caption has nothing to do with the story!
Mary Jane and Betsy need to go on their afternoon stroll with Daddy.  Hopefully today they will pass Mommy as she drives home from work.  She'll stop and wave and they'll have large, precious smiles.  But Daddy cannot swap cars with Mommy because he cannot drive stick.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Messy Betsy

With all the pictures about Mary Jane's eating trevails, it's good to have one of Betsy one in a while.  Poor little Betsy was feeling left behind on the eating scene.  Oh, don't worry about that; she's eating almost everything that Mary Jane wants.

Proof of Betsy's Swimworthiness

Yes, Betsy likes to swim as well.  For now it's more like bob along in the water but that's a big deal.  So many babies at that age hate the water.  Heck, so many of my sophomores probably do as well.


Nothing like a little Water Peekaboo to make your day a bit more blissful.  Mary Jane had not been in a swimming pool since last August so it was a joyous occasion for her.  Get into a floatie at Aunt Lisa's and Uncle Greg's pool and have some fun with Mommy.

Not to worry, Betsy had a great time too in her first time in a pool.  Luckily for the two of them, they will be taking swimming classes this summer.  Fun for everyone!

And Daddy likes to cool down in the hot summer sun as well.