Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

Category: Family (page 1 of 37)

Family-related anecdotes, visits, events, or topics.

My 41st birthday weekend

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

This year I wanted to keep my birthday pretty low-key. No big parties. No dressing up.  No big fancy dinners. No polite debating whether the 40-year-olds should go to a club, and see who drops out before we get to the sidewalk.

During the day, I was running around during errands, but the four Ipes met up for lunch — specifically, burgers, fries, and milkshakes — at the new Steak N Shake that somewhat recently opened up in West Windsor. Yes, you heard me. A Steak N Shake located above the Mason-Dixon Line. I can’t believe it, and they have the hats!

In the evening, the brave / fun people met up at Air Trampoline Sports on Rt 35 in Cliffwood NJ. We were going to dress comfortably, and act like kids again. For an hour, we jumped on trampolines, played dodgeball, and jousted like American Gladiators.

20170422_183752.mp4 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

While they also had a rock wall available, I decided to try to conquer this thing called the Walking Sticks, where you climb successfully higher on these wobbly podiums. It gets high, and you can easily lose your balance. You know what, I’m 41 years old. At this point in my life, the only thing I have to be afraid of in life is quitting. And I ain’t no quitter. Never have been. Never will.

Joel Conquers the Walking Sticks from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

After we all got hot and sweaty, we met up with our friends Lenny and Evanessa at Big Ed’s BBQ in nearby Old Bridge for endless all-you-can-eat ribs. My God, there was a lot of food.

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

On Sunday, I went to the gym, we all went to church, and had lunch at home. After lunch, we drove down to my south Jersey to watch my niece Abigail play soccer, then we hung out at the playground, and around my sister’s house. We later had dinner, had some birthday cake, then got on the road home.

Oh, in case you were wondering about birthday gifts…

  • a couple Amazon gift cards (always appreciated)
  • a new Polar H10 heart rate monitor for when I go cycling or working out while traveling
  • a new lens hood for my Nikor 55-200 mm lens
  • a replacement copy of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI on blu-ray, since no one knows what happened to my original set


This is how you celebrate being 41, people.

Happy Easter!

Joshua’s 3rd bicycle

Last year, I noticed that Josh’s 2nd bicycle (last purchased back in April 2013) was looking long in the tooth for him. We bought it when he was only eight years old, and now it looked way too small on him. We waited until this Spring season to see how tall he was, and to ensure we bought a good sized bike for him.

He did initially select a simple black cruiser model that was a little plain Jane, but we ended up finding a more interesting looking Schwinn Frontier 26-inch mountain bike for him instead. It’s got a durable steel frame, a suspension fork up in the front, dual handbrakes, a triple crank, and 7 gears in the rear. Yup, he’s gonna learn how to adjust his gears now, right around the same time I myself learned back on my old 10-speed bike.


2017 CMB Karate Demo Team performance at the Wells Fargo Center (2nd time!)

Last April, the kids performed with the rest of the CMB Karate demo team at the Wells Fargo Center. Last year, it was on the concourse next to a Kia Optima on display. Nice, but it obviously would have been cooler to perform on the hardwood in the actual arena.

This year, they did! You’ll find Joshua on the far right, and Lily in the middle.

CMB Karate Demo Team “Space Jam” performance at the Wells Fargo Center – 04-08-2017 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

**UPDATE** The Sixers organization recently published a much better (and closer!) video of the demo team performance. Check it out!

My sister was able to take some photos as well.

Lily’s 9th Birthday Party

Last Sunday, we celebrated Lily’s birthday a few days early by inviting about 20 kids over to our house for a detective-themed party. 

We purchased a detective / mystery story online, printed out multiple copies, purchased “detective” party supplies (pens, clipboards.) We also had kind friends and older kids play the various parts / suspects in the mystery of who dognapped someone’s dog before it could compete in the town’s big dog show.

I’m really glad we had help managing all of these 9 year olds running around our house, and to play various characters. I’d say the kids had a lot of fun, and our house survived in one piece. 

In case the mystery was kiling you, I played Officer Pickles.

In the evening, we put the house back together, my sister Julie and her family stopped by for dinner, and left to catch my 7:45 pm flight to Columbus Ohio.

My son Josh vs. peanuts everywhere, and Josh won

Josh has lived through a number of allergies growing up, since he was an infant. He was originally allergic to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, and had some lactose intolerance thrown in there too. It was a lot to deal with, but some kids have it worse, so I guess he/we couldn’t complain. We spent many meals ordering specific food items, navigating away from many foods with eggs or dairy in the ingredients. His allergist (plus research that Namita found on her own) advised that we should stay away from all of these allergens, with the hope that the body would slowly grow out of these allergies. In the meantime, we continued to purchase expensive Epi-Pens, in the event of accidental exposure to peanuts, as well as ensuring his various school nurses kept him away from other kids and their meals. Kinda sucks to spend elementary school stuck at the “peanut-free” table.

We went painstakingly about it for many years. Over time, he grew out of his allergies to eggs, lactose, and even gluten. It’s opened up a world of food choices to him. About two years ago, his skin test and blood work showed little to no sensitivity to peanuts. Tree nuts yes, but no peanuts! Still, the allergist recommended that we wait another year to confirm the results. Last year, again little to no sensitivity. They put us on peanut challenge wait list (about a year for us to wait it out.)

In March, his name came up on the list, and we scheduled the peanut challenge. Unfortunately, we also got blasted with a very late March snowstorm, and the doctor’s office was closed. Unbelievable — we had waited three years for the peanut challenge, and a freak snowstorm blows in. Thankfully, they were able to slot us into a last-minute cancellation the following Wednesday.

We got to the doctor’s office around 7:45 am, filled out paperwork, and carried in his clear apple juice. Over the course of 4+ hours, Josh drank increasing amounts of peanut powder dissolved in the apple juice, which he said was somewhat disgusting. We got worried at first, because his tongue was tingling after the first dose, but it calmed down after some water. After each dose, we had to take pictures, and the doctor and nurses inspected him for allergic reactions. While we waited patiently, Josh hung out and worked on stuff.

After the last dose, Josh and Namita had to wait around for two more hours in the doctor’s office for further observation, and I had to leave in order to get to my own office, so I high-tailed it out of there to grab some lunch and then to the train station. I’m happy to report that Josh officially passed the peanut challenge. It’s been a long time to wait, but this was huge progress. Later in the week, Josh enjoyed a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for the first time.

He said it was delicious.



Lily and I picked up our pottery painting projects from Art Around the Corner

Last month, we all went to Art Around the Corner in Freehold NJ to paint on canvas and pottery. Lily and I had a chance to pick up our pottery projects this weekend, and I think they came out pretty well.


Our pottery from Art Around the Corner in Freehold

The Ipes go to Broadway to get “On Your Feet!”

Last Christmas, Namita and I didn’t want to purchase more “things” for the kids. Sometimes they use it, sometimes they don’t. Instead, we bought 4 tickets to see On Your Feet!, The Musical for Tuesday February 28 2017. Namita found this deal / event called “Kids on Broadway” which promotes getting kids interested in musicals. You buy one adult ticket, get 1 children’s ticket free. You had to see one of the participating shows that specific night.

I had to be in the office that day, so the family ended up taking the train right after school, and meeting me in Times Square. I made reservations earlier at Havana Central on 46th St. Come on, how fitting? Cuban cuisine for dinner, then a musical about a Cuban Latina crossover pop star? Besides a common theme for the evening, Cuban food is delicious. The restaurant was very crowded with many other folks who had come out for the Kids on Broadway promotion. We had a dinner reservation for 5:30 pm, but we didn’t get seated until 6 PM. By the time we received our entrees, it was 6:40 PM. We Ipes know how to hustle, and we scarfed down our dinners in 15 minutes. We quickly paid the bill, then jogged quickly to the Marquis Theater (also on 46th in the Marriott Marquis hotel), without messing up our perfect hair.

The show was very entertaining, and the entire family enjoyed it. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning, but the pace picks up 25% of the way in. The music is good too. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to stay after the show was over, and participate in a Q&A session with some of the cast members. We couldn’t stay very long, because we had a 73 minute train ride to still catch. We  grabbed a cab down to 34th St, then caught the next train (packed with Rangers fans) to Princeton. It was a long day for everyone, and we got home around midnight,

Joshua’s 12th Birthday Party

Joshua turns 12 this year (I know, a tween, it’s shocking), and we were looking for what would be a good way to celebrate. He ultimately decided to invite a bunch of friends to come out to the Dave & Busters at Franklin Mills mall near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for games and dinner.

Due to timing, we went with the Sunday about 10 days before his birthday (late February.) Their parents dropped them all off to our house early Sunday afternoon, and Namita and I drove everyone about 45 minutes to the place. The parking lot was crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

We bought arcade / game cards for everyone so they could play for an hour. The kids separated and ran off. Namita and I walked around to supervise, ensure no child was stuck inside one of those claw machines. After the kids ran out of money, they bought prizes, and we took them bowling (available at this particular location.) We did order some appetizers but it took an inordinate amount of time and wasn’t ready until we were wrapping up a 2nd game of bowling. This was maybe my 2nd time at a Dave & Busters. It’s an interesting place, huge even, but it’s not well staffed. Way too many patrons, woefully understaffed. Everyone I spoke with (bowling guy, servers, bartenders) were frazzled and irritable.

We originally planned to eat dinner here, but it was too crowded and there was a line at the one restaurant. We called up to few local places e.g. Friendly’s, and they also had extended wait times or simply hung up. Sunday most be and popular day to go out in Pennsylvania.

We ended up taking the kids to a nicely rated pizzeria (also crowded) called Pat’s Pizzeria that still found a way to accommodate us all in four booths. After eating a bounty of garlic bread and pizza, we took pictures, drove everyone home, and called it a day.

Namita’s 40th birthday painting party with the family

For Namita’s grand 40th birthday party this year, we had a number of parties, get-togethers, and trips.

On her actual birthday, I left the office early, the kids took their sweet time finishing their homework, and we were off to a painting party at Art Around the Corner in Freehold. Instead of sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant, I suggested we do something different like painting. So that’s what we did.

Namita and Josh opted to paint a sample piece of artwork of their choosing. Lily and I were not as sure of our own painting prowess, so we opted to paint pottery. Namita painted a nice romantic couple. Joshua ended up painting an unexpectedly forlorn fox. Lily painted a cat. I painted a robot.

Afterwards, we got out of there pretty late, so we didn’t have time to make it to the Vietnamese restaurant that we had originally planned. Instead, we moved the car 50 feet away from its original spot, and had dinner by ourselves at Mahzu in Freehold. We laughed, we ate …. you know how it is with family.

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