Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007

It's my favorite time of year. I don't dislike Christmas at all, but there's a psychic sigh of relief when it's over and expectations have been met and presents exchanged for one more year. I like this hangover period, when there's time to think about the last year and look forward to the next.

The year started in Los Angeles. I had never been to California before, but considering I was still sharing an apartment with a girl who spent most of 2006 getting up the nerve to dump me I decided I really needed to be away from Denver to ring in the new year. The Flaming Lips were doing a big New Year's show in LA with Gnarles Barkley, so I was there. I went alone. As 2006 was closing the Lips played the perfect song to end a crap year: "Suddenly, Everything has Changed." I was so happy to have the year behind me that it brought tears to my eyes, thinking the next year might be different.

Wow, has it been different. I fell in love (for real this time), got engaged, got married, became a stepdad, got a new car, a new job...just about everything a person could ask to come up roses has done so for me this year. It's been an amazing ride. The change in where I was a year ago versus what I have now is indescribable. (Which is why I feel a blog post attempting to describe it is necessary I guess...or something.)

I thought I had more to say, but words are really failing me thinking about all of this. Stephanie and the kids (and Arlo) have allowed me into their lives and it has filled up my heart with happy. A guy really couldn't ask for much more than has fallen into my lap over the last year. Yeah, sure, there's this little health issue currently impeding absolute 24/7 crazy ecstaticness, but that will be kicked in 2008. For 2007 I am immensely thankful for the incredible net happy gain.

On to 2008, and all of the adventures and good times to be found there!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve 2007!

Last Christmas was...less than stellar for reasons I don't even want to think about any more. If you had told me then the happiness that would be entering my life in the following 365 days I never would have believed it. I hardly believe it even now. It's very exciting to be able to share this time with people I love this much.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cuteness

Last Friday was the Christmas program at The Wooden Shoe. K2, being 3, was all excited to be in it. K1, being 6, didn't get to participate due to his big-kid kindergarten status. They let him wander down with Stephanie and my parents and I to watch though, so he got to see his sister perform her heart out.

They have this thing down pretty well. The kids were all on stage at once, but the lines were rotated in a snake-like fashion between every song, so no matter where you were sitting you'd get to see your kid at some point. There were 3-4 designated kids in front for each song, so everybody got a shot at being front and center (with mixed results). K2 was up front for the final song, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, which culminated in Santa Clause showing up. This was met by mixed reactions from the kids. He's not clown-scary, but I guess he can be pretty freaky in the right light maybe. And if you've been naughty it might be like having your parole officer show up at your bachelor party. But I digress. It was cute, and we have a natural performer on our hands, as evidenced here:

video

A related amusing moment occurred this morning. We got to the school and one of the office ladies up front started congratulating K1 on his AMAZING performance at the program and how LOUDLY he sang and Wow, you were Just SO Great!!! I'm sure she was giving this speech to every other kid who walked in the door, but seeing as how he hadn't sung in the program he was plenty confused. He asked, once we were out of earshot, "Why did she think I was my sister?" Oops! Kids see through fakeness! Ah well, the moment passed quickly.

sticky goo(gle)

I love my Google. I have my Gmail, I do this on Blogger, and I look *something* up on Google for actual work-related purposes at least 4-5 times a day. I don't like other search engines, no matter how fun their commercials are.

Last week I got a virus on my work computer. All that it did was hijack my Google. Somebody evil must have thought that one up. The searches looked fine, but clicking a link redirected to something unrelated (mostly...one cancer link sent me to a Neulasta ad...) It took my tech support friends a couple hours to make it go away. I was holding my breath for my continued access to Google searches, but luckily they pulled through and I can Google my heart out. All is right with the world. (At least on my computer :-P )

Thursday, December 13, 2007

No vacancy

Never before has my brain been so absolutely stuffed full of things. I've been neglecting this blog largely out of a complete lack of a place to start.

We continue to receive amazing support from most people in our lives through the starting of chemo. (If you're reading this you're not one of the people who hasn't been supportive...some people at my work have lost my respect though.) It's been hard on Steph and I'm learning to ask for, and accept, help when it is needed. I am still at times trying to figure out my place in this. Two short months ago I was technically (legally) single. Since October 20 I've been adjusting to:

1) living with a (3 actually) new person(s) for the 1st time
2) being married
3) being a father
4) owning a dog
5) supporting my wife in her new job
6) starting a new job of my own
7) cancer/chemo/post-op care
8) getting to know my new in-laws
9) trying to get my stuff out of the old apartment.

There's a lot of adjustment and adaptation going on in my life and in my head. This is an undeniable fact. I just can't figure out how I want people to feel about this. It's nice when people acknowledge that this is hard on me, but I don't like to feel like they think it's too much for me and I can't handle it. At the same time I feel like I'm doing my best to cope and get through the days doing the best I can, but it's sometimes uncomfortable to be told that I'm doing a great job, or to have it suggested that a lesser person might not be doing the things I am. Yes, I am doing everything that I know how to make life as happy as possible for my new family and to keep us all sane and happy, but what kind of person wouldn't?

The traditional vows (which we didn't actually get to say yet) are "in sickness and in health." All that's going on here is that we have hit the Sickness portion of the program right out of the gate, and we'll get to enjoy the Health bit later. That's kind of how I see it, and what I'm doing just doesn't seem all that special to me. Hard at times, absolutely, but I wouldn't want to know any man who would fail to at least try do the same things for his own family.

Reading over this I realize it sounds kind of...annoyed. That's not really the case. If people want to think I'm special, great! It just makes me wonder if there is a type of person out there who would seriously abandon his wife and/or kids because of something like this. I guess it does happen, but how could you live with yourself afterward?

On a lighter note, K2 has her Christmas program at school tomorrow. It should be adorable, and I will hopefully get video of it to post. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Traditioooon, tradition!

There is a book that all persons with small children should have at this time of year. It's The Sweet Smell of Christmas and it's wonderful. I have many fond memories of my mom reading it to my siblings and I, and scratching & sniffing our little hearts out. Now that I have kids, my mom thought that I needed my own copy to share. She was correct. It turns out that this book is something Stephanie has previously shared with the kids, but Adam got their copy in the divorce (it was beat up and falling apart apparently) so the household was sadly lacking this classic tome of Holiday Cheer.

Since getting it last week I've read it at least 4 times, maybe more. The pine smells just like I remember, the cocoa is the same not-quite-chocolatey smell of every 'chocolate' scratch'n'sniff patch ever made. It's one of the things I really remember looking forward to every year at Christmas. (The other was my dad's annual reading of A Christmas Carol, but we may have a year or two before the attention span for that is present :-) ) Even though the kids already know this book it still feels like I'm getting to share a piece of my special memories with them and that's an indescribable feeling.

The other thing that I never realized until my mom pointed it out last week...Little Bear has had a cold through every reading of this book I can remember. It was never intended as such, but the voice my mom used for Little Bear sounds completely congested. Was this an ironic commentary by my mother on the inability to sniff what you've scratched when allergies are flaring? I don't know, and neither does she any more. But it's tradition, and as long as I'm reading this book to the kids, Little Bear will be searching for a decongestant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Glimpses of happiness

The last few weeks have been a constant stream of medical information, doctor visits, learning about cancer and watching my wife get poked and prodded by all manner of physician. It has been a long journey but we are getting close to finalizing the answers we need and starting Steph's treatment (1st chemo is scheduled for next Wednesday). We know now that it is definitely a Hodgkin's lymphoma, nodular sclerosing type. Staging is still pending, but the doctors are sure it's treatable and nobody has broken a sweat talking to us or acted like this is anything other than routine (ya know, for cancer), which is encouraging. So on to a couple bright spots in the last few weeks...

Family and friends are great. I've thanked many people many times, but I'm still amazed at the support and help we've received. People are great, and we have good supports around us. It makes a big difference.

The other day K2 wanted to go ride her bike early in the morning, so we went out with Arlo to take a walk. It was a beautiful fall morning, K2 chugging along on her Dora the Explorer bike, me jogging with Arlo barrelling along behind her, and it was just what I needed. Contrary to the feelings of some, I really don't need to escape Steph and the kids...I just need the occasional reminder that things haven't always been and won't always be sad and sick and painful.

Another spectacular moment in step-daddyhood...K2 was on the toilet pooping, like she does, and she started rehearsing her moves for the Christmas program they're putting together at the daycare. I was in the kitchen making lunches and turned around to see a blond little 3 year old with her footie PJs around her ankles standing on the stepstool butt naked gyrating her butt off and belting out "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" at the top of her lungs. Luckily Steph was close enough to also enjoy the show. It was pretty damn cute :-) These moments help keep me in the game. "This too shall pass"!

Friday, November 9, 2007

And then there's cancer

Well the wonderful streak of goodness that has made up the majority of this year has been somewhat derailed. Stephanie has a giant tumor in her chest and the diagnosis came back Lymphoma. That's right folks, my beautiful bride of just under 3 weeks has cancer.

The good(?) news is that lymphomas are treatable. Medical science has gotten pretty advanced with this particular breed of cancer, and the prognosis is non-death-sentence-like. But it is cancer and it is scary and it will require chemo and all that comes with that.

The months ahead will be tough, and I don't know how much of this process I will be sharing in this space. Those of you who know me outside of this blog will, I'm sure, hear about this plenty over the coming months and I just don't know how much of it I want to post up here for anybody to read. But then I may need to put things down to get them out of my head. As a wise woman likes to say, "Hard to say..."

On a related note, the title of this blog is the title of a song that has been sometimes interpreted as the story of scientists working towards a cure...for cancer presumably...so for the 2nd time in 47 posts, here are the lyrics:

(I also think that once Stephanie kicks this thing it will really be time for me to finally go get that design over there on the right tattooed...)

"A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" (by the Flaming Lips)

And though they were sad
They rescued everyone
They lifted up the sun
A spoonful weighs a ton

Giving more than they had
The process had begun
A million came from one
The limits now were none
Being drunk on their plan, they lifted up the sun

Forcing it off with their hands
The trapdoor came undone
Above our heads it swung
The privilege had been won
Being drunk on their plan, they lifted up the sun

Yelling as hard as they can
The doubters all were stunned
Heard louder than a gun
The sound they made was love love love love love love love love

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An update

Looking back I realize I posted a month ago about how insane life had been lately. Little did I know...

In the past month, since that post, I was rejected for the promotion, Stephanie got a great new job, I was promoted into her position, sent on 2 trips (Atlanta and Phoenix) to learn about my newly assigned studies, celebrated my brother's marriage, and got myself married. In between that we had K2's bday party, transferred Falkor to Tim's place after the Wendy option went downhill, I met a bunch of Steph's friends from Wisconsin, went to the Broncos/Packers game last night, and have been racking up 45-50 hour work weeks. How much life change and random activity can we smash into a month anyway? November is looking gloriously under-booked at the moment and we really hope to keep it that way. I'll take a bit of status quo for awhile. (Once we re-establish what that even means in our lives...)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The real Meatcake post

This was not the most life-changing thing that happened this weekend, but in addition to getting married I also accomplished Meatcake!

First I must correct the previous attention-drawing credit...my buddy Kath was actually the source of the link to the meatcake blog referenced in the creation of my own personal meatcake. So thanks Kath!

Meatcake turns out to be a lot of work, but imminently doable. Your favorite meatloaf recipe will suffice, with some modifications. More breadcrumbs and less milk mostly...it has to be dry enough to stick together, even with another ~2 lbs of beef sitting on top. This is what I used...ish:

3.75 lbs beef
3 eggs
2.5 c. milk
2 c. bread crumbs
~3/4 c. onion
a handful of chopped parsley
~2 t. salt
~1/2 t. pepper
~1 T. ground sage

Mix in a bowl, bake at 350 to an internal temp of 170 degrees. The illustrated meatcake tour commences now.

Meat is the basis for meatcake. It is more expensive to get the less fatty stuff, but I figured it would help the solidity quite a bit if there wasn't a ton of fat making the whole mass slippery and squooshy. I went with the 93/7 variety and it worked well.

Add ingredients and mix, then squish into a pan. I got a couple 8.5" round disposable foil pans, because I figured if the final product didn't fall out I could cut them off. This was unnecessary. I lined the bottoms with waxed paper and Criscoed the sides and the baked meatloaves slid right out. (When using cake pans evening up a chunky meat mixture is more difficult than letting batter settle evenly. Take the time to do this as well as you can...it will make life easier later.)

The final round meatloaves were allowed to cool before assembly the next morning.
Side view; notice the uneven tops of the rounds. This was even after taking extra care to try to make them level. The tops were leveled off with a nice long knife before the layers were put together.
This picture skips a few steps...I didn't document the next morning very well. The bottom layer was placed on the cake carrier, then the usual ketchup-based meatloaf topping (doubled...1/2 c. ketchup, 4 T. brown sugar, 2 t. dried mustard) was slathered on top of that, then the top layer placed carefully on top. I cut around the sides to eliminate any crazy lumps and overhangs, then "iced" the whole mess with boxed mashed potatoes (the 4-serving preparation). The somewhat finished version seen here was accomplished by going around the cake twice with potatoes, since the 1st layer ended up fairly ketchupy. The second layer covered it nicely.


And then the finishing touches. Rather than a bloody uterus on top of my cake, I decided on a festive sprinkled look. Those are shredded carrots on top, with breakfast sausage links finishing off the trim.


And then it traveled across town to the reception. The meatcake was the semi-official Groom's Cake for the event, and it is pictured here next to the real wedding cake. My biggest complaint with this incarnation of meatcake is apparent here: the top layer slid. The ketchup layer was fairly thick and never baked, so the whole top layer just settled a little and disrupted the whole look. If there is a next time for meatcake, I will trim up the bottom layer and then throw it back in the oven with the ketchupy coating applied, like you do with a regular meatloaf. If that layer had been slightly more stable the look and taste distribution would have been much better.


Finally the last shot of the meatcake:
I was really surprised by the reaction to this concoction actually. The project was undertaken mostly as a fun thing for my brother, but it turned out to be quite the topic of conversation for the adults as well as the friends of the bride & groom. Quite a few people at the reception tried at least a little sliver...there was plenty of other food, so nobody needed a huge chunk of meat. The cake missing in the above picture disappeared about a 1/2" at a time (measured around the circumference) and fed lots of people. The experience would have benefited from the cake being not-cold, but even as a cold meatloaf experience it seemed to be a hit. I would definitely make one again, for the appropriate occasion, and the leftovers have been spectacular eating for lunches this week. All in all a smashing success!

Monday, October 22, 2007

MARRIED.

I'M MARRIED!!!

It's true. Steph and I decided to take the plunge this weekend. We've both been thinking that we don't *really* want to wait all the way until next June to make this official. We can't do a ceremony much sooner due to several people we really want to be there being wrapped up in school schedules, wanting something outdoors, general planning...June is the 1st time that works. In the meantime though it doesn't make sense for her to have a different last name, pay taxes like single people, pay for separate health insurances like single people, have to convince the bank to let us buy a house as an unmarried couple, and me to not get to have a ring on my finger, to name a few things. So why not?! It made sense to do it now, practically and in our hearts. We're both very excited about this.

The event itself...we went to the courthouse Saturday to figure out the process for getting married and learned that you can do whatever you want in Colorado. You can have your marriage solemnized by a judge, a minister, or the couple involved can do it themselves. Sounded great! So we got a hotel room in Cherry Creek for Saturday night and made a little in-town getaway out of it. Picked up a ring Saturday afternoon after my little brother's celebration of his recent marriage, then headed out to dinner with my parents to get hitched. We went to the Tambien Cantina, where Steph went with her friends last weekend, toasted with shots of Patron Anejo, then signed the papers and made it official. Stephanie made me cry; she does that. It's been a very happy time in my heart recently. I never could have predicted a year ago that I would be here right now and Stephanie gets all the credit for the wonderfulness of this year. It's been an amazing ride and this is just the beginning of the good times to come.

And...pictures:
Steph's ring
My ring
This hasn't stopped since Saturday...
Yep, it's official!

And Arlo celebrating our news from the back seat:

(The ceremony in June will be going forward as planned. That will be the big(ger) fun celebration. It will still be a fairly small event, but there will be a real event commemorating our marriage!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meatcake!

This will be updated in the near future, but for now...
I AM CREATING MEATCAKE!!!

Credit where it is due...I was introduced to the concept of meatcake by Kirk, I believe, who forwarded me a link to this wondrous creation. My brother thought that looked pretty fun, so I'm making one for his wedding celebration tomorrow. Pics and details to follow...pending success or failure of this adventure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Brand loyalty

I remembered yesterday why it is I like J. Crew. We hit the outlet stores in Castle Rock and spent a couple frustrating hours trying to find pants. (Turns out washing all of my cotton khakis on Warm leads to eventual shrinkage. I've learned now.) Banana Republic, The Gap, Rue 21, Timberland...nothing. Not a single pair of pants that fit. Steph said the Gap khakis made me look like "a clothes hanger," which is fun. So we finally wandered into J. Crew and just went around the store grabbing one of every style in my size. Hit the dressing room and 5 of the 6 pairs of pants we grabbed fit and passed the rigorous Fiance Approval Procedure. Ended up w/ 4 pairs of pants, a new belt, and a new shirt for just under half of what the whole mess would have cost at regular retail values. This is a wonderful thing.

In other news, I got Steph's job and I'll be headed to my 1st Investigator Meeting tomorrow evening. I get to be in Atlanta for a couple days, then next week I'm off to Phoenix for another one. Whee!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good times (a mushy feel-good post)

In these last nearly 7 months that Steph and I have been together we seem to have picked up a knack for running into randomly neat things. We've always enjoyed doing pretty much whatever we feel like together, which leads to plenty of good times on its own, but the consistent doing-of-randomness makes life even more interesting.

Our luck started with happening on a Kiteboarding competition in San Francisco, progressed to the Red Bull Air Races in San Diego, and this weekend took us to the Jack-o-Launch over in Aurora. Then there are the little things, like wandering off the touristy path in Ixtapa and finding possibly-toxic Strawberry Shortcake Stain-O-Stampers, eating horrible guacamole in Tijuana, reaching the top of Gray's Peak in a sleet storm, taking salsa lessons at The Church on Cinco de Mayo...these (and lots of others) are all great memories in my head, and it's only been 7 months! Steph and I push each other to do fun things. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a real partner in my life, somebody who wants to do random stuff with me and create fun experiences and truly enjoys it. I couldn't be more grateful that this girl has chosen to let me be the guy she shares these things with.

And in other non-mushy news...Steph got a new job! She's leaving our shared workplace, which kind of sucks, but the new thing is a giant step up for her and a wonderful opportunity. She's been ready to move on for awhile, but had to stay at Radiant long enough to meet me and fall in love (or that's the story I'm telling myself :-) ) Only 2 more weeks of getting to see her at work. :-( The not-as-good-as-her-news-but-maybe-good-for-me news is that I may get her job, which would be a nice step up for me too. I should find that out early this week. *fingers crossed*

Monday, October 8, 2007

When branding goes weird

If you were going to come up with a name for a new brand of dog food, you would naturally want to choose a name that reminded people of their deep love for their pets and the happiness derived from pet ownership, right? Or maybe something that sounded like it was healthy or scientifically derived to be good for your pet. That would be OK. But who the hell thought Old Yeller brand dog food was a good idea? The front of the bag is a big full-color picture of the boy and his dog...you remember, the dog that had to be shot by his loving boy pal because he had rabies? Just googling the product name reveals far more blogs lambasting the unfortunate branding choice than links to anything related to the product. So I'm not the first to notice that naming a product after a sad/tragic ending involving the product's target audience is a horrible idea. Is this what you would want to think of every time you go to feed your Best Friend?


In other marketing fun, Trice Jewelers in Denver has a series of those good-ole-boy commercials that feature the owner of a diamond company chatting casually with a major celebrity (in this case Mike Shanahan, coach of the Broncos). You know, like you do. "Gee Bob, one of my friends told me he was buying a diamond *online*! What do you think about that?!" The commercial spends probably 25 of the 30 seconds telling you why buying diamonds or really *any* jewelry online is a horrible no good very bad awful idea. So of course the little tag on the commercial is the standard "or visit us online at Trice Jewelers dot com!" It's not as bad as Old Yeller...but somebody maybe could have thought through the editing on that one a little bit better.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Run Lola Run!

Dear lord, I would like to have no more activities for awhile, kthxbai.
Since the last post 20 days ago I've seen been to 4 concerts, Spamalot, spent a weekend in San Diego, moved Falkor into Wendy's place (where he'll hopefully be living now), interviewed for a promotion at work, celebrated my dad's bday, preparing now to celebrate K2's on Thursday...Oy.
I'm beat. I keep wanting to post things in my life and then more things happen and by the time I get back to it everything has left my head. I know this has been the case since back when blogs began (when they were called 'diaries' and nobody else could read them), but I used to be better at it.

And now it's 12:30 am, my ears are still ringing from the Pumpkins show, my blankets are in the dryer, and I get to meet my new boss and assemble her new desk in 7 hours. Sleep beckons (once the bed is made...)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Britney goes down (video available!)

I like watching Britney Spears fail. Part of it is a reaction to manufactured pop music. Most of it has to do with my former roommate and friend Brian McKinnon and his obsession with all things Britney. He thought she was talented.
There are plenty of news stories today about how bad Britney's VMA performance was last night. Morbid curiosity drove me to hop on mtv.com and check out the video for myself. Yes, it was that bad. Yes, she was terrible. How sad to be 25 and a completely washed up caricature of yourself, which was already a caricature of Talent.

What she reminded me of more than anything is an after-school special or a feel-good kids movie about the Magic Potion. You know the movie. The down-on-her-luck kid gets a Magic Potion that gives her special powers, until the climactic scene where suddenly there's no potion left and Mom has to break it to her that it wasn't a Magic Potion after all, and the real power was Inside of You! Last night Britney looked like that kid...like she'd opened her backpack just before hitting the stage to discover that the bottle of Talent Potion was empty, and before anybody could tell her that it was Just Water All Along she was shoved onto the stage in front of a national audience with her confidence shot and her worst nightmare coming true. It wasn't pretty. But it was somewhat satisfying.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Skiing and football

Man I'm ready for fall. I have absolutely no complaints about the past summer...fell more in love, got engaged, spent a week in Mexico, a weekend in San Francisco, spent more time than ever before outdoors enjoying Colorado...no complaints in my head at all. But the cool breeze and the crisp fall air were evident today on the first Sunday of the football season and it was just perfect. I'm kind of ready for jeans and sweaters and sweatshirts and football. Not to mention that getting through fall means that ski season is even closer and I'm more excited for that than ever before. After Sniagrab last weekend and my dad's departure from the skiing world I finally own my own equipment and I have 4 A-Basin lift tickets in my dresser just waiting to be used. I've never skied more than 2 or 3 times in a season, but after last season I think I'm getting much better at the whole thing and I'm quite ready to hit the slopes. Steph's better than me too and having an expert eye with me on the slopes will be valuable.

Oh, and I just want to ski with Steph again. The first thing we did together outside of work was a ski day at Winter Park last year. It was great.

Other fun things I'm excited about...I just baked a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies and two loaves of bread and my apartment smells yummy. Also Fall means the return of The Office and we get to find out what happened w/ Jim and Pam(!!!!!!!). The Monolith Festival is next weekend which means The Flaming Lips at Red Rocks for the 2nd time in 14 months (and we're taking the kids! They'll love it). Followed by Muse, The Arcade Fire, and The Smashing Pumpkins. Also the Sooners wiped the field w/ Miami yesterday and the Broncos won a squeaker today (a field goal w/ 0:00 left on the clock put them up 15-14).

In other news I talked to my friend Jennifer tonight for the 1st time in awhile. Spent an hour and a half on the phone, which was nice. She pointed out too how insane it is that I have this much happiness in my life. She and Paul were there a year ago when it was...not at all like this. My life has come a long way, thanks mostly to Stephanie (and I guess whatever insane amount of karma I must have built up to have her in my life.)

/mushy bits. Bed now. Another exciting work week starts in 7 hours!

Friday, August 31, 2007

In sickness (and in health?)

OK, so we haven't exactly done the whole marriage/vows thing yet, but this week has been pretty crappy from a sickness standpoint. K1 went into last weekend w/ 2 ear infections and is now better through happy antibiotic assistance. K2 got the sniffles and a cough and fought it off valiantly w/ love and care from mom. I came down w/ strep, missed work Monday and was completely back to 'normal' by Wednesday. So of course Steph came down with something yesterday and spent the evening passed out and miserable on the couch. K1 was great taking care of her, K2 was not as compliant with taking pity on mom and going to bed.

I'll be glad when we're all happy and healthy again! That hasn't happened for 24 hours straight since I proposed. Poo. (And no, I don't believe it's a sign or anything :-P )

Monday, August 27, 2007

Engaged! (pt. 2- featuring Content!)

So everybody asks the where and how of such things. I didn't know that the outside world would care, but I like having a record for myself anyway :-)

It started a week ago Friday really, on 8/17/07. I obtained the last piece of the ring and took it to the jeweler to get it sized and all. He said it would be ready Wednesday, 8/22 at noon. Great! Then the question was how to get her up to where I wanted to ask her. I planted the idea last weekend that I wanted to go hiking somewhere Arlo could go along. He hasn't gotten to be with us in awhile so that sounded plausible enough. I suggested back above Golden, she thought that sounded good, and the trap was set.

Adam took the kids Saturday a.m. through Sunday a.m. this week, so it was set for Saturday. We went up to the trail (in the Mount Galbraith Park Open Space), hiked up to the overlook where we had 1st both realized that we were going to be more than weekend hiking buddies, and I popped the question*. I really don't remember exactly what I said, but considering how much we've talked about making this happen a big speech didn't seem terribly necessary. I probably wasn't as romantic and sappy as I would have liked, but I do that at other times I think...anyway, the response was the same. She said Yes ("Of course" is how she put it) and we're officially engaged now. Nobody was hiking by at that time, so we did the self-taken pic thing:
A little while later we were continuing on the trail and passed some folks we got to take our picture again:
You can't really see the ring in either of those, but I promise she has one now!
The rest of the day was spent sipping champagne, calling people to tell them the news, and then dinner at La Fondue. I'm still kind of in shock that I pulled this off. A girl this awesome is going to marry ME?! It seems too good to be true sometimes.

And then my sick yuckiness returned and I've been totally out of it and have hardly seen her. I'm home with strep, which is exactly how I'd always envisioned celebrating this time in my life. Blah.

*Note for future suitors...if your plan involves being on one knee, rocky outcroppings might not be your ideal location.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Engaged!

This is largely a placeholder post, to be updated later with details and such. For now...I got engaged today and I couldn't be happier. Stephanie is a wonderful girl and I'm incredibly lucky that we found each other when we did. It couldn't have been timed better and she couldn't be better for me.

Life, she be good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deja vu

I think today is a repeat. Several times today I have experienced an absolutely confident deja vu. Not "I think I've done this before," but "I've done this before. When was that?"

In other news, we're taking the kids to Water World tomorrow. I haven't been since I was 17 or 18. Should be a good time. K1 is getting his kindergarten shots tomorrow morning so this is kind of something to look forward to so he can get through multiple needle jabbings. He starts school Wednesday over in Jeffco. Exciting times.

My brother got married over the weekend. Hooray! Sounds like an excellent little event, with just close friends and happiness and very little stress involved. I wouldn't mind something similar, when it comes time in my life to do the marriage thing. Whenever that might be.

Finally, all readers...do me a favor and head over to http://www.archive.org/details/TSP2007-07-27.csb.flac16 and listen to "New song: 99 floors." Probably my favorite of the truly new songs they played both nights. Bolly on harmonica is a good thing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Kiddo wisdom

Since Mexico, K1 has decided he likes Godzilla, but not the big scary kind with death and destruction. He likes the cartoon versions, especially the "Original Animated Series" with the cute mini-Godzilla (Godzookie) for the kids. He also likes playing random free games on his computer. This weekend he wanted to play a Godzilla game on his computer. Where to find one? "Well just type in Godzilla dot com!"
He's 5 and already he understands that adding a ".com" to the end of something will likely get you a page with (hopefully) related content. The next generation is going to make mine look quaint, just like we did to our parents.

FYI, godzilla.com links to a page for the new Atari Godzilla game. K1 was right! You just can't, ya know, play it. Oh well. Damn close.


Now playing: Bootleg of the 7/27 Fillmore show. This was actually a badass concert. Gossamer clocks in at 33:39 though, which is extreme even for Billy. Not that I'm complaining :-D

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Football!!

The NFL preseason is underway. Hooray! The 1st Broncos game is tomorrow night...on ESPN. I have downgraded my cable to the $14/month uber-basic option, as has Steph, as have my parents. This means I have nowhere to go to watch Monday Night Football when the Broncos are playing, which is 1 preseason game and 3 regular season games...one of which is the Christmas Eve game. Dammit. In addition the Dec. 13 game is on the NFL Network, so I can't see that either (without going to a bar or some such to watch.) Anybody with better TV options want company for Monday Night Football, when the Broncos are on?

Friday, August 3, 2007

San Francisco

Last weekend was the big trip to San Fran. I'm really glad I decided I was still obsessed to go, and that Steph was willing to come along.

Friday morning bright and early my friend Kath drove us to the airport, as usual when flying any more. (Thanks!) Even before boarding the plane I was amazed by the insane numbers of Harry Potter books wandering around the airport. It had been out a week and it looked like anyone who wasn't finished already was sprinting to the end before somebody spoiled it for them. But I digress...

We hit the ground in San Francisco early enough to go explore before the show Friday evening. After trekking across town on the BART and the MUNI systems, we found our B&B and checked in. We were at the Red Vic, right in the middle of Haight St., just a couple blocks from Golden Gate park. There had been some reservations about this place, but we were quite happy with the whole experience. Aside from sharing a bathroom it was more like staying at a hotel w/ a cafe downstairs than staying at your grandma's house. We only ran into other people staying there maybe 3 times the whole weekend. After dropping our bags we headed off for Chinatown for browsing and shopping and general exploration of the whole San Francisco thing. We hung out there until it was time to head back and get ready for the show (stopping for dinner at the Squat & Gobble on Haight St. on the way back).We got to the Fillmore at 7:30ish for the 8:00 opening of the doors, which is awfully late for me to get to an SP show really. It turned out just fine though...We ended up being maybe 2-3 people back from the stage, right between Billy & Jeff. The show started absolutely perfectly. We had been talking over dinner about the symbolic significance of going to this show w/ Stephanie, and how I'd been thinking about it in relation to the whole Sarah thing (we met the night of my last SP show, 11/29/00, for those new to my life). So the show starts with Billy solo, acoustic, singing a new song (post-Zeitgeist-new). The lyrics were about a lost love "I used to know you/I used to care" and I was thinking huh, that's interesting. Then the rest of the band came out and they launched into That's the Way (My Love Is), their next single and the love song off Zeitgeist, all about love being a beautiful thing and being there for each other. It was a fairly perfect summation of the change between 2000-2006 and 2007. Then Billy threw his pick, it bounced off my face, and I got my 1st SP pick ever. Just perfect. I couldn't have asked for much more from the rest of the show. Several brand-spanking new songs, lots of old favorites, some stuff off the new CD...28 songs in all, 3 hours straight and Billy never left the stage for a second. They closed out with a 15-ish min version of Gossamer and we headed out, getting to bed at 2ish.

Saturday we slept in a bit getting up at 9 I think, which is very late for Steph, but obviously is was much needed rest after the 23-hour day we had Friday. We ate breakfast at the B&B (duh) then headed up to the wharf area. Right before we got off the bus we saw the Ghirardelli factory and had to go look. Ended up chasing breakfast with a tasty tasty Hot Fudge Sundae, then went down to the pier. Wandered there for awhile and then stumbled on a bike rental place. We had discussed renting bikes to explore, but after walking a bit on the ridiculous hills we had nixed that idea. This was on the water though, and pretty flat, so we went in to check it out. Ended up renting a tandem bike (because it was cheaper...not because it's cheesier that way :-P ) and biked along the beach and over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Got a couple hours exercise and mastered the skill that has been the bane of many an Amazing Race team.
Saturday evening was show #2. It was quite a bit like #1 as far as the song blend was concerned. They did 3 hours, 28 songs again, 10 of which they hadn't done Friday. The best moment of that one was right at the end. One of the songs I had been really really wanting to hear was Muzzle, and they didn't play it the 1st night. Being close to the stage, I shouted MUZZLE!!! really loud a couple times, like obnoxious people do when they think the band will change the setlist taped to the floor by their feet. They left the stage after the encore with no Muzzle being played. Ah well. The house lights came on and we went back to buy our shirts and everybody else kind of hung out, cheering and gnashing their teeth and stuff like you do for an encore. Except that the house lights were on...so give it up and go home people! But they didn't, and 10 min later the house lights went off, Billy and Jimmy came out with acoustic guitars, and they played Zeitgeist. Kick ass. Then everybody else wandered back onto the stage and they launched into Muzzle. Full-out electric version, which I hadn't heard live in years (Billy did it acoustic and solo for a long time.) Perfect ending to the night, and I'm still telling myself that they picked that for the unplanned encore because of me. (I doubt it, but it's still a nice thought, eh?)

Sunday we checked out of the Red Vic at 11 and spent a couple hours wandering Haight St. and dipping into Golden Gate Park briefly. Haight failed to yield both a flask (which I've been looking for) and a Grateful Dead Dancing Bear (for Steph). We were offered drugs many times in the 15 min. we were down by the park though. Then it was time to come home, all too soon.

Fun non-concert moments from the trip not mentioned above:
Jogging a mile or so down Geary St. to the Fillmore because it was too chilly to hold still and wait for the bus. Learning that Steph's sense of direction is better than mine when exiting a subway stop. Pomegranate martinis at the Squat & Gobble. Wandering into some random awesome little bar to use the bathroom when the bus failed to catch up to us on Haight. The little click that happened on the bus back to the airport. Overheard on busses: "They spelled it different, but it's still a HATE street!" "I only drink all-organic rum." "So do you identify WITH hippies, or AS a hippie?"

And pics of The Pumpkins from Friday night:


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Where to begin...

Catching the blog up...I'll start with the new car, only because I have pics from S.F. and I don't feel like uploading them at the moment.

A few weeks ago it became clear that a new car was in the near future for me. I had taken my Saturn in for the 60,000 mile regularly scheduled maintenance and received not-good news. The clutch was going to go "sometime in the next 6 months or so" ($1600 repair), the brakes needed fixing (at least $100), and the tires were right at the "replace" mark ($400ish on the cheap side). This added up to about $2k on a car I owed $1700 on, which was worth $5k as a trade. Mathematically this added up to "Trade Before It Dies Completely!"

So I started searching. With the help of the ever-reliable Consumer Reports, I narrowed it down quite a bit. The Honda Fit was cheap and well-rated, then there were the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 3. OK, that's a start. The Fit was rapidly shot down by Steph as being an ugly car that she wouldn't want to be seen in, so that's a problem. I headed over to Mazda and tried out the Mazda 3, then got introduced to the lovely world of fucked-up leases. The pricier Mazda 6 was cheaper to lease, due to the financing available. It was still $100 more than my current monthly car payment though, so I began getting discouraged about my chances of being able to afford something reliable. Headed over to Toyota and basically got laughed at by a saleswoman. "You thought you were going to get WHAT payment? How did you get to that number?!" (I explained and it was actually quite reasonable, but the best payment they came back with was still $30 more than even Mazda had managed.)

On to Honda. This is where the infomercial starts. Anyone reading this in the Denver area and thinking about a car purchase needs to go talk to Jack Must at Go Honda at 104th & Federal. We had dealt with him on Steph's CR-V, I test-drove the vetoed Fit w/ him, and I had promised to go back and see him before getting anything for myself. Boy am I glad I did. Somehow Accords are leasing for less that Civics with the model-year closeout and all, so I was already getting more car than I had thought I might be able to afford. After picking a base model Accord that I loved, Jack went back to run #s for me and came back a few minutes later w/ his manager. Would I be interested, maybe, in a car with more options that was $8 cheaper per month than the basic Accord? Let's see...add a sunroof, wood-grain paneling on the dash, audio controls on the steering wheel, heated side mirrors, and alloy wheels, and pay less money? Um....ok Jack, you talked me into it.

Longish story somewhat shorter, I ended up in a brand spanking new 2007 Honda Accord with lots of options for only $30 more than I had been paying for my falling-apart '01 Saturn. I'm fairly happy with that for some odd reason.

Jack Must, Go Honda, 104th & Federal. I promised him I'd recommend people :-)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

stop and smell the blogs

Life is so eventful sometimes that despite my desire to remember it all and preserve experience in blog-form for posterity, the time to sit and type rarely presents itself.

Forthcoming blogs in the next week (I'm promising myself to get these finished!):
1- 3-day trip to San Francisco w/ Steph for Pumpkins and QT w/ Ms. Wonderful herself
2- Procurement of brand new Honda Accord
3- The dawn of a football season and fuck ESPN
4- HP #7. No spoilers will be found here, I promise. Now time to go finish. Got within 75 pages of the end on the plane today and I must be DONE!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Love in Whitetrashia

Last Friday I had to go get my teeth cleaned. I have 2 cavities, boo, whatever, but that's not where this post is going. Steph was there immediately after me having her teeth cleaned as well, so when I was finished I violated HIPAA all over the place and wandered over to say Hi. Ended up staying until she was done, and got to hear the hygienist telling Steph all about her hoped-for love-life.

She said she'd met her "future husband" the weekend before. He's a bassist for this band called Great White. Um...wow chica, really? You mean the same Great White that killed 96 of their fans? I can't imagine going all gaga over someone even indirectly responsible for one of the most horrific cases of negligent manslaughter in recent memory.* She was so proud of the picture of the two of them together, told us she'd given him her number and she was a "total groupie," whatever that means. *shudder* Get some taste honey!


*I don't feel like looking up the outcome of the myriad lawsuits involved in the aftermath of that tragedy. The band was sued all over the damn place though. Something about maybe they shouldn't have set off pyrotechnics in a tiny, flammable dive bar...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Somewhere beyond Happiness

is Contentment.
This word has been floating around in my head for the last few days and I think it fits. For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say I am truly content.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

4th of July

Small children + freedom 'splosions = good times.

The Thornton fireworks are 2 blocks from my new apartment. Should I want to go to bed early on the 4th of July this would suck royally. However should I be in the mood for, say, not being an idiot and going to watch the fireworks w/ Steph and the kids...then this works out well, no?! We got there way too early, but we were on a hill so the kids had plenty of entertainment in the form of throwing themselves down said hill in typical childhood-rolly fashion:
The proximity to my place came in handy when the clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up as it was finally getting dark. I ran home for another blanket and made it back in time for the whole show. I don't know that it was quite as good as Arvada's annual display, but we all had fun and that's what matters. The quote of the evening came from K1: "Wow, the grand finale is a huge golden shower!" Steph and I laughed quietly and didn't have to explain, thankfully.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

September concerts

This is getting stupid...in September, at Red Rocks...

15- Monolith Festival, Day 2, headlined by The Flaming Lips
17- The Arcade Fire
18- Muse
30- THE SMASHING PUMPKINS

Tickets on sale next Saturday for that last one, already have 'em to the other 3. Dear lord I'm excited. 4 of my favorite bands in the space of 15 days, all at the most beautiful venue on the planet. And 3 SP shows in one year! I beat that in 2000 between the in-store performance/signing at Tower records (Cherry Creek), Balsch Fieldhouse in Boulder, Summersault in Vancouver, and the United Center in Chicago Nov 29. Still though...fucking SP at Red Rocks. It's a Sunday and I will be there waaaaay too early for my own good. Teehee.

Durango!

Last weekend I finally made it to the South-East corner of the state to the Durango area. Steph's parents live down there, along with her brother Jeff and his family. There's a new kid in that family that Steph hadn't met yet so a trip was overdue. We took the new CR-V that we got Steph a couple weeks ago and drove the 6 1/2 hours across the mountains with Arlo and the kids all in tow. It was a nice weekend...the drive was stressful at times, as 6 1/2 hours in an enclosed space with little bundles of energy will inevitably be, but another fun adventure w/ the family.

So Steph's parents live off the grid down there...they have a bunch of land with some horses, and we saw deer and tons of jackrabbits running around the property. It's fairly isolated, but they have all of the nifty new stuff that makes it quite livable. A huge solar panel array on a pole charges batteries than run everything in the house...Kathy (Steph's mom) said they'd run out of power only 3 times in the years they've had the system in place. They have high-speed internet via satellite, cell phones work out there and it's really comfy actually. Steph said the house was improving dramatically every time she went down there...as of last weekend they had just installed beautiful hardwood flooring. Selected pics from the weekend-

Alpine Sliding at Purgatory
One of the more amusing discoveries of the weekend is that K1 LOVES cutting out weeds. There were sticker/pricker bushes (whatever you want to call them) all over the front of the house, so Steph bought him a trimmer and SpongeBob gloves and he spent HOURS hacking away at them. (The lack of clothing was his choice as well. Cooler that way. And I don't know what that is on his head here.)

Of course Photo Ops are necessary. Me and K2 on Gma's front porch:And finally, Gma Kathy w/ all the cousins:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Overdue Ixtapa pics/trip summary

Like most good vacations to far off places, this one began on a plane. The kids did quite well, everything was smooth, and relaxation was off to a great start
We landed in Zihuatanejo early afternoonish and headed for the hotel. The first thing you notice of course is that there's an ocean nearby and you have to start chewing your air before you swallow it. Damn humidity. Heat is so much worse by the beach! (But there is water there for cooling off obviously...we'll get to that.) Steph had booked us through Apple vacations so the taxi was all paid for and waiting to take us to the Dorado Pacifico over in Ixtapa. It's on the beach and we had a beautiful view from our 15th floor balcony (the numbering went Lobby, Mezzanine, 5, and then skipped 13, so I'm not sure what you should really call it...but I digress)
Beautiful, no? You almost felt like you could jump off and land in the pool and it'd be just fine
That triangle sticking out over the pool on the left had a swim-up bar on one side and a restaurant on the other. This is the inside of that restaurant (and also the 1st non-horrible pic take of Steph and I together. 2nd time the 2 of us have ever been captured on film/memory stick that we know of :-P )
Other than eating and walking on the beach, relaxation was the goal for the week and we made that happen with a vengeance! The kids quickly found their favorite hangout for the week...the pool. Water wings are great btw, for you non-kid-havers out there.
Of course the girls made the most of the sunny skies and refreshing waters.
It wasn't *all* hotel time. On Tuesday we went out to Ixtapa Island, which is basically an excursion you canNOT avoid if you're in Ixtapa for a day of more. Every 100 yards or less on the street you'll pass someone trying to sell you a boat ride over to the island, with promises of wonderful things once you're there. We ended up going for free, since Steph's parents fell into many time-share presentation traps. (They got free cabs, free meals, and this trip out of it, saving us $100+, but by the end they swore to never listen to another pitch again.) Included in the trip they got us was Free Lunch! Due to something of a language barrier we had a hard time getting it ordered and figuring out what was involved, but we all ended up fed.
Of course the real reason to go to the island is that the beaches are on the non-wavey side of things. This is good for kayaking, which we did for an hour, Steph in the front, me in the back, kids between (without the camera, oddly enough). Also possible is snorkelling, which you can't do over by the hotel
Back at the hotel another favorite past-time were the 2 waterslides (visible up above). We were shown many different "forms" over the course of the week, most of them seeming to involve going headfirst on your stomach with differences only a 5 year old could identify, but it was an endless source of entertainment so why knock it?There must also be time for pictures, and my new camera came in quite handy for photo ops (thanks parents!) These are outside the restaurant mentioned earlier A huuuge highlight of the trip was parasailing. Steph had done it before, so K1 and I took a turn this time around. I never stopped to think twice about it...somehow trying to keep a kid from freaking out keeps you from thinking about your own safety. At least until you're 200 feet in the air. Getting ready to go:
And then you take off, pulled by a boat, and pop up and suddenly you're flying waaay up in the air. The way it was set up K1 was in a separate harness in front of me, kind of sitting in my lap but 2 feet away. We enjoyed the whole thing immensely, took in the views from way up high, spit in the ocean from up there like guys do...it was great. Obviously the camera stayed on the ground.
All of this fun leads to some tired kids. After throwing a fit about not wanting to go to bed one night, K2 did this and passed out immediately:
Another highlight of the trip (we think?) was the coconut milk. From the minute we landed K1 had been begging and pleading to go get a coconut and take it back to the hotel and/or back to the U.S. I tried to explain the difficulties with just picking up a coconut, not having packed a machete or anything, but he could not be dissuaded. So on the last day I got the location of a little beach vendor who had drinks served in actual coconuts. The directions were "the yellow umbrella by the massage place outside of Carlos n' Charlies over there." We went searching our last evening in town and found the guy as he was ready to leave for the evening. He agreed to get his stuff back out and we got our coconut milk. (The adult versions had a choice of rum or tequila in them. The one being consumed here was unadulterated coconut milk, like K1 wanted.)

And my photo op after that excitement had abated a bitAfter the coconuts we headed over to Senor Frog's for our last night in Ixtapa. It was Friday night and the place was totally dead, so we got up on the dance floor with the kids and had a blast.We even got them up in the cage. They're going to hate us for these pics some day :-P
Before we left we had to get a picture of K1's girlfriend. This girl worked at the local grocery store we went to almost daily and thought K1 was about the greated thing ever. He talked to her in all the Spanish he knew from school and she ate it up. We got to the grocery store as they were locking the doors for the evening, continuing the string of good luck in Mexico.
As mentioned before, all of that activity makes you tiiiired. This is about 10 minutes after the last picture (he's waiting for us to catch up with a room key):
And that's the ever-so-abbreviated version of the Mexico trip. Great fun, nobody died or got injured, and we all came back happy and still liking each other pretty damn well. That's success, eh?