Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Vegas post

Preface...this was a work trip. This wasn't a wild-n-crazy trip to Vegas, so I won't go into too much detail, but a few fun things need to be shared.

A sign in New York New York proclaimed that a bar had "24 Kinds Of Beer!" Um, ok? I don't know if that's a lot in other parts of the world, but I could find probably a dozen bars within a few miles of me that could meet or exceed this number. I think maybe we just like more variety in Colorado.

Another funny/sad moment was the woman I got stuck behind waiting for an escalator. She was probably in her 50s, overweight, and wearing crocs. Her husband was your typical overweight midwesterner cowboy wannabe (or maybe actually-was. Not sure.) He hopped on the escalator and was halfway down before he turned around and realized that his wife was desperately trying to overcome her fear of the moving steps to board the escalator herself. She barked at him for getting so far ahead, he looked ashamed, then she stumbled on and rode successfully to the bottom. (It's those damn crocs I tell ya. They seem to mess with balance/walking ability.

Then there was the off-duty Elvis I passed on the strip. I walked by him in the morning as he was headed in to work. From the neck down was totally casual, guy going to work- jeans, well-worn concert t-shirt, black workboots- but his head was ELVIS 100%. The hair, the sunglasses, the was quite the juxtaposition.

Just some moments from Vegas. I went with $11 in my pocket and came home with $100, so that counts as a good trip!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mishmash of things

Today's blog...just some things I found interesting amusing...

On 30 Rock Thursday night, a few of the guys made up a religion (verdukianism). Kenneth and Tracy discuss religion when Kenneth buys them a bunch of pizza:

Kenneth: Tonight is the verdukian holiday of mouth pleasures. Misters Rossitano, Spurlock, and Lutz must have free sausage pizza followed by some gentle flossing performed by a blonde virgin.
Tracy: Your generosity is being taken advantage of!
K: What do you mean?
T: Verdukianism. It's fake. Those dudes made it up because they didn't want to do secret santa.
K: But they had all these rules and rituals
T: That's what religion is K-fed. Just a bunch of made up rules that manipulate people. Why don't Catholics eat meat on Fridays? I'll tell you why; because the Pope owns Long John Silvers.
K: Wait a minute, are you saying that other religions are made up by man too?
T: Oh Ken, we may have fallen into the intellectual deep end here, and if you try to grab onto me we'll both drown.
K: What if there's no God?
T: OK, time to go
K: *falls over*

Also from NBC Thursday night (This from Community, which is a spectacular show)
"To me religion is like Paul Rudd; I see the appeal and I would never take it away from anyone, but I would also never stand in line for it."

And then there's this from a song on the radio:
"I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful"
What the hell is that? The lyric is said/rapped in a way that suggests it is actually supposed to be flattering to the girl he's singing about. Apparently the vocabulary is so stunted that he can't do it. His mom is ashamed I'm sure. It bothers me.

Then something else on the radio...a commercial for one of the male enhancement things says that it's "the breakthrough pharmaceutical companies don't want you to know about!" I find that weird. I know the pharmas have a bad name and all, but the people I've met who work for them really just want what's best for people. It's a race for sure to create the newest and best therapy with the fewest side effects, but nobody I've met in the research world would ever consider withholding/hiding a therapy that had been proven in any scientifically valid way. That's my experience. Maybe I'm biased since it's what I do for a living, but the idea that things are being withheld in a selfish quest for your money is a tab paranoid, IMHO.

Enough for today. Soon...Vegas trip!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey lurkey dee (2009)

For Thanksgiving 2009 we decided to do things a bit differently. Steph and I took our family (just us, the kids, and Obi) and got out of Dodge, heading to Colorado Springs for a day of relaxation at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. I'd found the place online on Wednesday so it was somewhat last-minute, but it worked out great! We got there with a bit of time before our buffet reservations, hit the outdoor pool and hot tub for a bit (with Obi in tow and Steph not able to join us in the water due to the cast and all) and then went for the big T-day buffet. It was great; turkey, taters, ham, bacon, salmon, trout, stuffing, salads, cheeses, soups, fruits, and plenty of dessert options. For our little family it wasn't any more expensive than if we'd thrown our own dinner, and there were tons of options with NO DISHES!! Good time. Then there was time for a bike/scooter ride, another pool (indoor this time), relaxation in the room, and pool (the kind with a table and a cue ball) in the hotel bar area to close out the night.

So Thanksgiving itself was great. I'm thankful for my family. My wife rocks, the kids are awesome, and my dog kicks ass. What more could a guy want in his life, really?

Today Steph had to head back to Denver to work, so the kids and Obi and I split off for our own quality time together. We swam some more and then hit the Cave of the Winds for a tour. Obi couldn't go on the tour obviously, but the kids and I had fun. Driving back to Denver with a 105 lb (yes, he's gained weight...) dog in the passenger seat of an Accord is a bit precarious, but it was another great day.

I'll end with a final thought...if a turkey has been bred and raised to be slaughtered, isn't pardoning it a bit anti-climactic? Does a presidentially-pardoned turkey become entitled to healthcare and hospice in its later years? And how hypocritical/cruel is it to pardon one turkey and then eat another? "You're off the hook Courage*, but by the way I'm EATING YOUR BROTHER THIS EVENING!!! Now go back to your pen and think about that." That turkey will have issues for the rest of its life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*The name of Obama's pardoned turkey

Friday, November 13, 2009


First a fun thing from work today. We have to re-certify that we know how to ship hazardous materials safely, since we deal with biological samples and dry ice and such, which are carefully controlled. Not to the level of explosives or anything, but we have to train anyway so we don't have blood leaking onto the package from your grandma or anything. In addition to the usual training there's a new required DOT training for hazardous materials. It was humorous in weird ways. Right off the bat they mentioned 9/11 and showed pictures from the WTC, and then admitted that it had nothing to do with the transportation of hazardous materials, and what we were about to learn wouldn't have made a bit of difference in that situation. They tied it in with "We need to be vigilant!" but mostly I think somebody wanted to show 9/11 footage. Boo!

So the post I started out to write...last Sunday the Bean woke up miserable. her head hurt badly, so Steph gave her Tylenol, which she immediately threw up. She brightened a bit in the late morning, so we thought we would go skating w/ Tim and Erin, but after a trial trip out of the house (to Target) she said she wanted to go home and lay on the couch instead. This is so not normal for her. After a day of lying around she wanted a nap (also weird), slept for 2 hours, and woke up still miserable and in tears because she hurt so bad. Steph called the pediatrician who directed her to the ER, fearing meningitis. Luckily that didn't check out, so they diagnosed the Bean with her 1st migraine. Seriously. At 5 years old. I guess that's somewhat normal though for people who have migraines; most can trace their 1st back to when they were 5 or 6. It sucks to see though. After a few hours at the ER sucking on popsicles and watching The Princess Bride the Bean felt better and thought Children's was a pretty cool place to hang out. She even got a free hand-knit blanket from Project Linus. So all ended well I guess, but I hope that doesn't happen often.

One final observation- in the bathroom at my work there's a sign asking people not to throw Feminine Products in the toilets. If our toilet paper is embossed with flowers, isn't it a "feminine product" by definition?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A preview just quoted Larry King's feelings on a movie. Would you see anything on the basis of Larry King's opinion? Why not "Gee, your grandpa liked it! Go see it!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

New banana fritos

One thing about taking a banana in your can't leave it in there for long. I made this mistake last week and my yummy chili cheese Frito's took on the distinct banana flavor, with a hint of chili. Not so yummy.

In other news, thanks to the benevolence of friends and a nice iTunes gift card, I'm wallowing in newly acquired music for the 1st time in awhile. I have the new Muse, Flaming Lips, Jay-Z, and the Ben Folds I didn't buy last year. Good times. I've also hit the app store and have actual apps that I paid money for now! Free versions of games are fun, but some things needed to be explored further.

Life continues to be busy. Steph has been out of town a lot to meetings and such lately and I've had a lot of downtime to go wild with no wife or kids in the house. It turns out that "going wild" means working a few hours for a school board campaign and being productive later into the night. When everybody is home I have to disappear to the basement after everyone is sleeping...when it's just me I can mop at 11:30 and nobody cares! I can also take Obi for walks at midnight, which is just gorgeous under a Colorado Fall full moon. Speaking of which fall is typically crazy weather wise. A week ago we had 2 feet of snow, every school in town shut down, my office closed, and the roads were a disaster. Fast forward to today and it was 75, sunny, and I was plenty warm running in shorts and a t-shirt. I love Colorado.

Friday, October 9, 2009

H1N-da house

We officially have sickness in the house.

Wednesday morning Mr. K woke up feeling pukey and not wanting to go to school. His temp was 100.8, so we figured staying home was a good idea. Steph took the morning off, since I had patients, and we swapped at lunchtime so we could share the sick time at home. The pediatrician had a slot for us at 2:45, so we came home and hung out for a bit, Mr. K feeling and appreciating the effects of Motrin. At 2:15 we left the house for the doctor. Mr. K's temp just before getting in the car was 102.3 Huh. Going up.

By the time we got to the doctor, he had taken a serious turn for the worse. Another dose of Motrin was due, and he was looking miserable. We were waiting on dosing again so the doctor could see the full-blown illness. That may have been a mistake. His temp was at 102.8 when we first went to the exam room. Motrin was administered and he was swabbed for the flu culture. After 30 min or so his temp was at 103.6. By this time he was more miserable than I have ever seen a kid. Freezing cold, wanting to nap, every muscle in his body aching...not a happy camper. The M.A. had given him a popsicle and put some wet paper towels on his head to cool him off, but when his temp kept rising she sprung into action. She peeled his socks off, ran them under cold water, and put them back on his feet. Um...ok...

After about an hour at the office, the fever was up to 104.4. Mr. K's face was turning all sorts of weird shades of not-healthy and the doctor was starting to look concerned that the temperature kept rising. Being miserable, Mr. K asked the doctor if he could take off his wet socks, since they were uncomfortable. She looked confused as she asked how his socks had gotten wet. She looked more confused when I told her that her M.A. had thought it was a good idea.

Long story a bit shorter, after some Tylenol kicked in, the fever started to drop. The flu test actually came back negative, but the doc was honest about the false-negative rate of such things, especially in the early stages of a flu. (Also the M.A. had swabbed just the tip of the nostril, and a correct nasopharyngeal swab goes a lot farther back.) Basically H1N1 has been going around here and he's smack in the middle of the high-risk category, being an 8-year-old public school kid with asthma, so they weren't about to write it off on the basis of a negative flu test. We went home with the somewhat doctor-approved idea that it was H1N1 and a prescription for Tamiflu. Tamiflu turns out to be wonderful; the fever broke Thursday and Mr. K is totally better today (Friday).

So that's one down. Steph went to bed feeling miserable tonight with a temp of 99 or so. *fingers crossed*

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's a birthday!!

Today The Bean turned 5. Given that I met her the day she turned 2.5, I have now officially known her for half of her life. It seems like only yesterday. She's getting big way too fast and I'm not ready for it. It's probably better for her that way, because she can still get away with some things she's a little too old for sometimes. But whatever. She's an awesome kid and I'm really just glad to be in her life.

She's totally a girl. She got 2 Toys R Us gift cards today, so we headed in expecting a long afternoon at the store. Instead she picked 3 things she just had to have in 10 min and we were out the door. Just like her mom; knows what she wants, knows how to get it. Granted Steph, as a grown adult-type woman, can take much longer shopping, but The Bean definitely has the love for the sport at an early age. Happy birthday Bean!

So speaking of sports...I only watched about 3 min total of the Broncos game today, because there were more important things going on w/ the birthday and all, but damn Broncos! 4-0?! Who knew? Throw in that the Sooners have 2 losses and my perceptions of this football season are totally out of whack. This is why we love football though, eh? (From ESPN: "The Broncos have allowed an NFL-low 26 points this season. In the final three games of the 14-year Mike Shanahan head coaching era, Denver allowed 112 points." Nice.)

In other news, the video camera function of my iPhone 3Gs has been getting a workout lately. (Videos are being uploaded here: I find my love for my iPhone hindered only by my non-skinny fingers. Typing can be tough, but other than that I'm in love. So much so that I find I'm hurt and betrayed when I hear John Krasinski's* voice on the Blackberry commercials. I feel he should know better.

Speaking of celebrity endorsements, I'm thoroughly confused by Evander Holyfield's Taco Bell commercial. Basically he's a big dude, orders 2 $1.99 burritos, and is told by the counter girl that even someone of his size only needs 1. So...what? Taco Bell is asking you to order less food. They're essentially calling you fat if eat 2 of their 1/2 lb burritos in one sitting. Does this make sense in any way? "Come to Taco Bell, but don't order too much, or we'll mock you to your face!" Huh?

*Jim from The Office

Monday, September 28, 2009


Thank you for participating in my little experiment oh blog. That last post sat in my outbox for days before it finally went through. Now I'm just curious what the deal is with the spacing. Mr. K had a playdate with 2 friends Saturday. He's been begging me to have friends over for weeks and there was finally a chance since my hike Saturday was called due to mud and muckiness on the mountains. I was bummed not to go, but instead I had a memorable day at home with the kids. That's not a bad trade off!

Trial run

Now that I have a real phone I thought I should set up mobile posting. This is more satisfying than updating a facebook status. But...does it work? Let's find out.
Test post via text message. The one I sent 3 days ago disappeared. Hmmmm

Monday, September 14, 2009

Been awhile

Much has happened since the last post that shall not be blogged. Some things I will share:

This comic at xkcd made me laugh mightily. I hope you, theoretical reader, have some idea what this refers to...

Last weekend I had the opportunity to witness Roller Derby firsthand. It was highly entertaining, if an overwhelming beatdown...1 match of the double-header ended 127 to 14 or something ridiculous like that. The other was almost as bad, but we left prior to the 2nd half of that one. We got to see lots of skating, shoving, pushing, falls, and 1 super nasty ankle break involving a limb rotated in entirely the wrong direction. Despite that I think the kids would get a kick out of the experience and I think I'll take them when the big tournament is in town the weekend of Oct 2-4.

Speaking of questionable appendages, Steph's toe continues to give her troubles. It's been more than a year since she was hospitalized for the toenail infection at the end of chemo and it has never been quite right. A podiatrist did what he could to fix it, but the post-surgical recovery has been iffy. We only hope it turns out ok.

I was supposed to have a meeting in Chicago on Thursday but that isn't happening. Poo. I've only traveled to 1 meeting this year and that doesn't help my frequent flier miles darnit!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Flaming Lips in District 9

Unrelated concepts, yes. I saw District 9 this evening and can report that it is every bit as spectacular and intense as advertised. It's a movie with so many things going on and metaphors and social commentary and seamless special effects and "reality"-style camera work that it's hard to take in all at once. I suspect I'll see it again someday. Go see it though.

Tomorrow night is the Lips show at Red Rocks. Should be a great show as always. I'm excited. Once again the "no confetti" rule will be ignored in spectacular fashion and Wayne will talk a bit too much between songs. We know what to expect though! They may bring the UFO along...last show they told us they'd had it confiscated due to radioactivity issues w/ some of the pieces, but would bring it next time. I wonder if they remember promising us that.

The Broncos are down 27-13 currently and seem to have no viable QB. This might be a long season.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Path obstructed

The dog park has remained closed since the last post, until 2 days ago. Then it's been rainy and gross so we haven't gone, until today. I got off work and there were storms in the distance so Obi and I headed to the park for some quick excercise hoping to beat the rain. We got to the bridge going to the back of the park and hit this:

It was so close to open! There was still room to run a bit so Obi came home less frustrated than last time. Not quite his usual level of freedom though.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A plague of plague

Our dog park has the plague.

We love our dog park. It's the "Westminster Hills Open Space and city dog park," 3000+ acres of off-leash doggy-running happiness that Obi visits 3-7 times a week. Either Steph or I usually run the 4-mile round trip trail to Mower Reservoir and back while Obi runs along chasing prairie dogs, rabbits, and the occasional coyote. Yesterday the Bean and I went with Obi near sunset for a quick visit and the entrance was blocked. The sign on the barrier said that they'd tested the fleas in the park after an unusual number of prairie dogs started dying off and the results had been positive for The Plague. I tried to explain to the Bean and Obi why we were skipping the visit to the park due to a scourge of the 1340's, but the Bean was just annoyed and Obi was really upset when we drove away without his usual exercise. I'm hoping he didn't stick his nose down the wrong prairie dog hole when we went running Wednesday morning...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kitchen counters- picture heavy happiness!

As mentioned here previously, I have been replacing the counters in our kitchen. Since we moved in they have been the one thing on the main floor of our house that looked like they didn't fit with the obvious care taken to make the rest look nice. The existing counters were the cheap functional stuff found in every college apartment in the country; off-white, easily stained, easily ripped out and replaced before the next tenant moved in, if necessary. Not counters for a home, IMHO. Consequently we have very few pictures with the old countertops visible. This was taken the 1st day we looked at the house...that's the realtor in the picture:
We did get 1 shot prior to me tearing everything apart. The picture doesn't at all show the stains and scratches that covered these counters. This is just before everything came out:
So first I had to remove the old counters and rebuild from the cabinets up. This required a .75" layer of plywood sealed against moisture, followed by a .5" layer of Hardibacker cement board. (Throw on a .25" layer of thinset w/ a .25" tile and you've got a tiny bit of extra counter height. This will cause problems later of course) Here's me working on...something. I was in and out of the house on a bright sunny day, hence the shirtlessness. Avert your eyes if this scares you.Now one thing I did in the bathroom that I thought served me very well was laying out the tiles prior to putting down the thinset. My handy tiling book doesn't say to do this, assuming that everyone will cut as they go, but I like a visual and measurements without the pressure of thinset wanting to dry on me. When working with multiple intersecting grout lines there's a lot of minor adjustment as well, which is complicated if the tile is sitting in a bed of cement. Here's what that looks like (the tiles against the wall aren't cut to size yet obviously):
Getting closer, this is the view after the thinset was down, prior to grouting and sink replacement. If you look closely, the lines between tiles are deeper than they should be, due to the conspicuous lack of grout. Also you can see the symmetry of the counter- originally I'd laid this out as 2 12" tiles towards the front of the counter with a 7" tile at the back, as evident in the above pic, but when I laid it out I decided to move the smaller tile to the center. I think it looks nice that way.Then Steph said "Let there be Grout!" And there was grout. And it was good. Steph is a lot faster at grouting than I am. This is the final finished countertop. Due to a miscalculation on my part (and an astute observation by Steph involving an edge that was done weirdly when the prior counters were installed) I ended up short 4 pieces of bullnose and had to order more and wait for a week to get it, so the final finished product took a bit longer than hoped. But here it is! :
The tile is as textured as it looks. It's full-body porcelain (the color goes all the way through the tile) so it's pretty much never going to chip or crack and if it does (i.e. somebody launches a cannonball at it or misses when tossing a bowling call across my kitchen) you shouldn't be able to see the chip. This next is the edge that I stressed about, since there was such a small tile at the end. The bullnose at the front of the pic was tricky as well, since I had a 36" deep counter and "12 inch" tiles tend to be more like 11 3/4". My bullnose didn't quite fit, so I ended up cutting down 2 pieces and making a slightly more complicated end. I've been told it looks good by the only people that matter in such things, so I'm happy with it!
And now the sink. The light is a bit funny in this pic (the sink is black and all one color, not grey), but we are very happy with how this looks in the new countertop. There's a slight flaw in the tile work around the sink, but my in-laws tell me I'm being too picky, so I won't even say what it is :-) I will say though that Russ had to help me re-work some plumbing- the slightly higher counter meant the pipes didn't quite line up, and I moved the whole sink back maybe 1/2" somehow. Not a big deal, but there's a giant vent pipe under the sink that was positioned so that it was pressing against the underside of the telescoping faucet, pinching the telescoping mechanism. We cut the pipe off and dropped it about 1.5" lower and everything is fine now.
A couple more angles, just because. This is the corner by the dishwasher. Everything started with the tile at the corner of the angle-cut bullnose. If that hadn't been straight none of this would have worked.
And the other pieces of the counter, behind the sink by the stove. The left edge here by the hall is what threw me- the old counters had a non-rounded edge there , so I had a non-bullnose edge planned, which wouldn't have matched the rest of the kitchen. Adding bullnose to that edge makes complete sense visually and practically, it just screwed up my math. Better right than fast though, eh?
So those are the counters for now! We will be doing a border of some sort everywhere the counter meets a wall, to break up the corners a bit and cover some flaws in the drywall. The old counters had been caulked in place and had been there awhile, so the wall is a bit of a different texture 4" up all the way around and it needs covered. We'll also do a backsplash around the stove, but we want to take our time with that and come up with something we'll really like. For now the counters are done and I'm quite happy with my 2nd major commission of DIY.

Special thanks to The Home Depot for existing and Jim at A World of Tile in Westminster for patience, helpfulness, and taking my money :-)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Red Rocks, 04Jul2009

Every year Blues Traveler plays a 4th of July show at Red Rocks. I've always thought that sounded kind of cool. The kids are in Illinois with their biological father, so tracking down a firework display wasn't as necessary. On top of that Lewis Black was opening for Blues Traveler and since he's about my favorite (living) comedian Steph and I decided to go.

The show started at 6, which is seriously early for a concert, so they had an extra opening comedian. He was some local guy and pretty bleh, but Lewis Black was hysterical. Better than when we saw him on his own at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House awhile back. Then an opening band, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, who were really really good. By the time the main even rolled around it was dark and the clouds had blown over without soaking us. (Whew!) Between bands we sought a seat higher in the amphitheater where we could see the city over the top of the stage.

I'd heard that this is a cool show to see, with the fireworks and all, but it really has to be experienced. From the top half of Red Rocks the entire Denver metro area is spread out in front of you. So there we were, live music going strong, stars out over our heads, my arms around my lovely wife, with 20+ fireworks displays erupting in the distance. I'd say if there is a heaven it has to be something like that.

Bed now. There's a lot more going on this weekend, but it's late. Kitchen counter pics forthcoming!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson has died

I won't comment on MJ dying, but since the FCC has declared that all broadcasts must contain a mention of his death I don't want to risk the fine.

I only have 90 minutes left in the month and this is only the 2nd post of June. Oh how I slack. We went on vacation though, so I'm allowed. June 7-14 we were at the Barcelo Tropical in Riviera Maya. Good times and good relaxation. (Pics are on Steph's phone and haven't been retrieved yet.) On Friday night just before we left Steph's driver's side rear window was smashed in a robbery attempt in Cherry Creek, so we started off the vacation somewhat poorly. (They took her loose change and that's it.) Fortunately our luck changed when we left for Mexico.

We got to the airport early enough for breakfast, so we sat and ordered food off the kids' menu so they'd be full and Steph and I picked off theirs. 10 min after the food had come out the manager walked out with another identical order...oops. He was shocked to see empty plates already at the table, but kindly left us the extra food for free. The flight to Mexico was uneventful, as was the transfer to the hotel*, and then we checked in. Steph asked nicely if we could have a room close-ish to the pool and they obliged, putting us in a suite for no extra charge instead of a regular room like we'd booked. Sweet. This came with a bottle of champagne and a fruit plate. Alrighty!

So we headed to the beach. On the way down the stairs we passed an older couple who told us they were leaving in the morning and had left an inner tube and an air mattress by a tree if we wanted to snag them. More free stuff! So we grabbed the air mattress, then went for a walk on the beach. As we were walking and enjoying the sand a little girl and her mom walked up with a bag full of sand toys. They were leaving in the morning as well, and would we like a bunch of sand toys for the week? Sure, thanks!

That was all day 1. The rest of the trip was great, with less overtly free stuff. It was all-inclusive, so everything felt free. The kids had a blast and The Bean took huge leaps with her swimming. She didn't like to let go of mom either, which put the kibosh on the plan that the kids go to the Kids Club a couple hours a day so Steph and I could relax a bit. Oh well. I have to remember that even though I got into this for Steph the kids are #1 for her, which is as it should be.

We're getting our alone time now though. The kids are with their dad in Illinois for 12 days and we're celebrating by re-doing the kitchen countertops. More on that later, when pics are available...

*We're never taking an Apple Vacations transfer again. We waited an hour for "2 more people!" who had been on our flight and must have gotten distracted by the line of time share salesmen offering "Free Rides" to the hotels in exchange for 4 hours of your vacation time later in the week. There's nothing more frustrating than getting off a plane and sitting on a bus for an hour waiting to get to the beach because the driver won't just LEAVE. This has happened every time we've booked the transfers through Apple Vacations.

Monday, June 1, 2009


According to the calendar I have aged another year. 365 days until I'm 30. That's bizarre.

I guess I knew I was growing older last week. We saw the NIN/JA (Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction) tour on 5/26 and it occurred to me that I'm just not the target demographic anymore for much of NIN's music. Don't get me wrong...they're great live. But a gorgeous teen-angsty post-breakup ballad like "Something I Can Never Have*" doesn't have quite the same emotional punch when you're standing next to someone you're madly in love with. Songs about bleakness and the world falling apart don't quite fit a happy life full of joy and contentment. It's a small trade-off, but I definitely recognized that my life has moved on past some of the music I enjoy very much.

In another sign of aging, I'm quite happy to see green grass popping up in my front yard. The new sprinkler is doing its thing and the grass seed we put down has started coming in. The "baby grasses" are being monitored daily by The Bean and are up to 3" in places now. Hopefully by the time we get back from our week in Mexico it will be nicely established. (It's a bit patchy, but we're hoping that it will fill in, given some time and water.) Then we'll have to figure out why the hot tub mysteriously quit working when the sprinklers were put in. I'm afraid it may have something to do with the control box being put in the ground right where the electrical cable ran through. That's a problem for another day though.

*Sample lyrics:
I still recall the taste of your tears.
Echoing your voice just like the ringing in my ears.
My favorite dreams of you still wash ashore.
Scraping through my head 'till I don't want to sleep anymore.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dorothy, I think we're back in Kansas.

Last weekend I spent the weekend in Kansas with Mr. K, my Uncle Tod, cousin Alex, Tim, Erin, and my mom. The trip had been planned for awhile for Tim, Erin, and my mom, but the recent death of my great-great-aunt Dorothy brought Tod and Alex out from Seattle, so Mr. K and I picked them up at the airport and went out as well.

My relationship with my mom's family has always been a bit odd. Her parents refused to attend her wedding, since it was in a Catholic church, and things between them and my parents have been a bit strained for my whole life. We spent almost every Thanksgiving at Grandma Billie and Grandad Rex's house in McPherson, but mostly I hung out with my cousins and Tod and left the older folks alone. Rex and Billie were there, but somehow I have more positive memories of "Aunt" Dorothy and her sister "Mom-mo" Lynn (my great grandma) than my grandparents.

So that's the backstory. Aunt Dorothy is gone now, so we spent the weekend visiting the remaining relatives. First up was Mom-Mo Lynn. She's somewhere around 95, and has the Life Force that Eddie Izzard speaks of: "I'm a gran, I live forever!" She lives on her own, goes to church on Sunday, and sells Avon in her spare time. She was also heavily involved in my mom's upbringing, so has a special place in her heart. We were they for quite awhile on Sunday and went to church with her. Once back at her house we fixed her lamps. Apparently her power had been out that morning and she had panicked until the neighbor came over to find the tripped breaker. Good thing it tripped too- the 2 lamps in her living room were running on ancient cords that were frayed to the point of arcing and melting the power strip into which they were plugged. Tripped breaker= no housefire. So that's kind of scary actually. But we hit Home Depot and got some new plugs, cut the wires, and made it all safe again.

Then it was off to Mom-mo Bernese's for a quick visit. She's Grandad Rex's mom and has opted to turn her thermostat up to 90 instead of just moving to Florida, so we didn't last long there. Actually I spent most of that visit outside with Mr. K and Alex so they wouldn't melt.

Then we headed to Grandma Billie's. Grandad Rex died last year and I didn't make it to the funeral- Steph was in the middle of chemo and it wasn't a good time to get away. So it's just Billie now, living on her own. Somehow, in her early 70's, she appears about 5 years older than her mother. She's been tiny my whole life, <5' tall and <100 lbs. She has also spent her life smoking and drinking, has experienced 2 or 3 strokes (that we know of), and lives in a 3-story house that used to house a family of 5. After Grandad died my Aunt Terri got her a new boxer, so she has a dog that weighs as much as she does to keep her company.

It was kind of a scary visit really. My grandma should not be living alone. She fell several times when we were there and needed help standing back up. There were several empty wine boxes lying around. (After your 3rd stroke, why stop drinking, eh?) Her left hand is frozen and useless and her ankle is swollen unnaturally. She can't walk on it. There's a room in the basement that was full of junk when I was a kid, now less cluttered with 1/2 the junk, but the room has a water leak from somewhere above and a pool of mold in the corner under it. Tod mentioned that the pipe above had been leaking, I looked up, and gee, it's still wet! Oops. The box I moved underneath fell apart on contact and we immediately stopped touching things in there. Needs professional attention.

The real excitement was when Grandma decided that we would be allowed to clean out the freezer in the basement. This turned into more of a challenge than was originally apparent. When Tod first opened it the door didn't budge until considerable force was applied. There were 5 shelves in the freezer, of varying degrees of fullness. There was also a layer of ice on everything. I have never seen such freezer burn and I hope I never do again. There were pork chops in there that were grey after 7 years in the freezer.* There were 3 tins full of collector's coins, in their protective sleeves. There were things that were not to be chipped out of the 5" of ice covering them- they went straight to the trash on the curb like that. We spent 1.5-2 hours in the basement breaking out food, chipping ice, melting ice, and mopping the floors. The freezer ended up clean though.

We ended Sunday at Tod's cousin Brandon's house. (I can't figure out the name for how he's related to me...he's the son of my Grandpa's brother...) The kids hit the pool at the Holiday Inn Express that evening, slept, then it was Memorial Day. We stopped by Grandma's on the way out of town, partly so my mom and Tod could talk to her about moving closer to somebody, or at least seeing a doctor. She refused to consider either.

So we came home, and the car trips are for another post I guess. The whole weekend was pretty overwhelming. It's hard on my mom to see her relatives looking so old and frail, but Mom-mo is 95 and Billie refuses help, so there's not much to be done. All in all it was a good trip for me to have made, from a duty-to-family standpoint, but I can't say I'll be rushing back anytime soon.

As a side note, Mr. K was an absolutely perfectly behaved and patient kid almost the whole trip. Probably did better than when I went to my grandma's. I bought him Lego Indiana Jones as a reward. Hooray for new games!

*Grandad Rex meticulously labeled things, so there were dates on everything. It was kind of scarier that way.

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Ominous Smorgasbord

(^^Currently the only usage of the phrase "Ominous Smorgasbord" on the interwebs!^^)

Today the Bean had a Smorgasbord at daycare. I'm not sure what the occasion was, but they wanted to call something a smorgasbord, so they did. We were practicing saying this yesterday and we somehow started combining it with the other word certain members of the family have a hard time pronouncing, Ominous. So we decided the Bean was having an Ominous Smorgasbord and practiced saying it 3 times fast. Try it. If nothing else you'll sound goofy.

So this morning we were headed to school and the kids decided I was the school bus teacher. Not the driver, the teacher. Just go with it. They started telling me about the pet tiger they have at home, an apparently well-trained beast who won't bite. Mostly. The Bean says he knows the commands Sit, Stay, and Eat Bad Guys. Quite the talented tiger, eh?

Speaking of pets at home...we almost lost Obi last Sunday. One of the folks who installed our sprinklers last Saturday apparently wandered through the gate on the North side of the house and left it unlatched. Sometime last Saturday night or early Sunday morning Obi went for a walk. Steph woke me up at 6:45 a bit concerned that she couldn't locate our dog. We discovered the open gate and hit the streets. We drove a bit yelling out our windows, Steph hit the dog park, then we came home and Steph started putting up signs while I went down to Standley Lake. It's only 3 blocks South of us and would be a good place for a doggy on the run to go for a stroll. I walked towards the campers and started talking to people, seeing if anyone had seen a stray dog run through. The first 2 guys I met had not, but took my number in case they ran across him. As I was walking towards the 3rd group of people eating breakfast, I saw a shape move under the next camper. A quick "Obi! Come!" and my dog popped out and ran right over to me, looking as happy to see me as I was to see him.

So all is well. The gate now has a board screwed in place over it, since we never use it anyway. Also we now have an idea where Obi might go, were he to get out again. Luckily the kids were at their dad's house when this all happened, so we just kept it quiet that Obi was almost lost. Whew.

Tomorrow I drive to Kansas for my great-great-aunt's funeral. Mr. K has opted to go with me, since he's never been to Kansas and wants to see what it's like. We're going to try to make this fun! We're driving with Tod and Alex and we'll be staying w/ Tim, Erin, and my mom, so it should be a good time. Hooray for long weekends!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rainbirds live in my yard

Today I had a sprinkler system installed. Exciting, eh? We are hopeful that by the end of the season we will have something growing in our yard. To that end we put down some topsoil, fertilizer, and grass seed today. In the next 3-4 weeks we will try to grow some seeds. If it doesn't work we may end up sodding in the next year or 2. For now we are hopeful that regularly scheduled computer-generated waterings will inspire growth more than the haphazard distracted watering schedule employed last summer.

Yesterday was another entertaining day in my life as a stepdad. We went to The Bean's spring program at her daycare and afterward I had promised to take her home for the day. When we were in her classroom, one of her best friend's moms was saying goodbye, leaving for the afternoon to move things into their new home. We have been trying to schedule a playdate for awhile, so Steph offered that she could come over and play at our house instead of hanging out at daycare for the afternoon. This was a generous offer, considering Steph was headed back to work, and it was going to be just me at home. I'm flexible though, and 10 min later I was headed home with 2 4-year old girls to hang out for an afternoon.

It was a nice afternoon...the plumbing guy came out and ran the line for the sprinkler, we made chocolate chip cookies, met the FedEx guy who brought an envelope full of Mexican pesos for our trip*, watched The Little Mermaid, and the girls got in the hot tub for a bit. Quite an eventful 4 hours. Steph called probably 6 times to check in, wishing desperately that she was home hanging out w/ us instead of at work. The 4th or 5th time she called I pointed out that I had 2 cute blondes in my hot tub and fresh cookies in the oven. Life doesn't get much better than that!

Today I took Mr. K to see Star Trek. He loved it and asked ever-so-innocently when it was over if there were more Star Trek movies or books or anything we could get for more Star Trek fun. This could be fun!

*The FedEx envelope specifically states that it is not to be used for the shipment of "cash or cash equivalent." Should I turn in Wells Fargo for apparently making this a business practice?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Project finished!

It's over! The kids' bathroom is now a much nicer place to be. I hope the pictures reflect that adequately.

First, here's the view looking into the room. The Before pic is on the left, clearly displaying the horrid vinyl flooring which was probably installed when the house was built in 1985. Also you can see a touch of the yellow color on the walls, added by the prior homeowners and, we're guessing, picked by their 4-year-old girl. It's the only explanation. The After pic is on the right obviously...the tile behind the shower curtain hasn't changed, but I didn't quite replicate this pic exactly. Oh well.

Looking closer, this is the Before vs. After paint color. See a difference? What amazed us was how much the new paint changed the look of the tile in the shower. With the dingy yellow paint it looked like an off-tan pukey color that needed to be replaced. Once the new paint was in place, the tile looks greyish and not bad at all.

Also in this pic you can see the trim we replaced. It's dark brown now to match the vanity under the sink. I think it ties the room together nicely and makes the whole thing cozier, but that may be biased. Also you can see more of the new floor- I don't know why the bottom right corner of the pic looks that red. It's not like that in real life.

This is looking back towards the door. I love how the paint and reworked trim color go together, especially compared to the Before pic. The yellow with the light trim just didn't do anything for the space.

And now a word on the floor, since this pic has more visible than the others. We hated the old stuff. It was like a rejected 70's dorm bathroom floor sample. The pic doesn't do its horridity justice. The new stuff is porcelain 20x20 tiles picked up at our local tile place down the street (A World of Tile). We love the color and it has a nice subtle texture to it under the toes.

And just because I have to mention it...the floor grate on the left was replaced to better match the room. Almost everything else in the room was a brushed silver, and the new grate looks much nicer. You can't see it in the pics, but the tile around the grate is solid...I managed to cut a perfectly sized (4"x10.5") rectangle out of the center of the tile using only the $88 tile saw from Lowe's. That cut alone took the better part of 2 hours, but it was totally worth it.

So that's my first major home-ownin' renovation! I'm pretty darn happy with how it turned out. There's only a 2-week gap from the Before pics to the Afters. Like Steph says, I may not have gotten much else done in the last couple weekends (laundry, cleaning, etc.) but the stuff I did get done will make a difference for a whole lot longer. (And yes Matthew, there are contractors who do this kind of thing, but this was totally worth doing myself!)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My fingers hurt

so I guess I'll spend some time typing!
Something about working with porcelain tile for 13.5 hours straight makes the fingers dry and rough and irritated. At least when your day job involves sitting at a computer all day doing namby pamby desk work. The change is shocking to the system.

This morning I started at 9ish cutting tile and laying it out to fit the bathroom. At 10:30 PM I finished cleaning the last tool. At this point all of the tile is mortared in place and curing so I can grout tomorrow, then reinstall baseboards and put the toilet back. It was a good day's work. Steph got to hang out w/ the kids all day, which had it's own whiny challenges, but we all survived and the bathroom is going to look great. Pics will be posted when it's complete!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Who knew you needed a 1/2" chuck to mix mortar? Guess I need another drill, in addition to the circular saw, jigsaw, and handsaw I bought this evening. Back to the store...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New project(s)! Hooray for homeownin'

We have decided that the kitchen countertops are due to be replaced. They're the only part of the main floor of our house that look really cheap. Think apartment countertops. Functional, but obviously installed with no thought for aesthetics or longevity. They're scratched and stained and really just ready to go. So last weekend we started painting the kids' bathroom. A logical first step in refinishing the kitchen.

See, the kitchen is a big part of the ground floor, and we want the counters to look great when complete. Steph had the great idea* that we should maybe try to learn tiling skillz on an area of the house that wasn't quite as visible, such as the kids' bathroom. In the garage was a stack of tiles that matched the ones installed in the master bathroom upstairs, so it seemed like an easy thing to throw those on the floor, learn some things, and move on to the kitchen in June when the kids are in Illinois w/ their dad for 10 days. But first, the color of the kids' bathroom needed work. The prior homeowners must have let the 4 year old girl pick the color, because it was a hideous pastel yellow. Since the floors were about to be redone, it was a great time to paint with no concern for the trim or the floor, both of which were being trashed anyway.

While picking the color, I measured the floor and realized we were 4 tiles short of having enough materials. 4 tiles short of a tile variety that has been discontinued by the manufacturer and is no longer carried by the tile place down the road where our predecessors purchased it. So we have now purchased all new tile for the bathroom and a nice coordinating paint color (kind of a light blueish-grey) which is now almost completely finished.

Tomorrow I get to go tool shopping to expand my collection quite a bit, Thursday my father-in-law is in town and will help me pull out the toilet, prep the floor, and figure out layout, and I should be tiling sometime this weekend or early next week. If all goes well we'll have new kitchen counters by July!

*not sarcasm

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A lost pony, and the tragic demise of the Easter Bunny

There's a song by Afroman, "Tall Cans," which contains the following lyric:

Now I'm walkin down the street with some chicken and a forty
I'm yellin at these hoochies and I'm lookin for a party

This song is in the rotation on Steph's ipod, so it's popped up in her car a couple times when the kids are present. Anyway, yesterday Mr. K started to sing:

"Now I'm walkin down the street with some chicken and a phony
I'm yellin at these hoochies and I'm lookin for a pony"

And just like that the song is transformed. Instead of a no-good thug lookin' to get crazy, we have a poor guy wandering the streets enlisting the help of the neighborhood hoochies to help him find his lost pony. It's so heartfelt. I've named the pony Nibbles and we've decided the "Tall Cans" in the title of the song refer to the tall cans of oats you buy in the store. Nibbles just needs his dinner. Hopefully the hoochies saw which way he went.

Yesterday I had to fulfill my manly duties once again and discard a dead animal that was stinking up the garage.* Mr. K had mentioned the stench first, and Steph said when she got home that it smelled like something had died next to the wall of the garage. So I moved some stuff and sure enough, there was a teensy baby bunny lying next to the wall. It must have hopped in when the garage was open and then couldn't find it's way out. Poor guy. Being the man of the house I had to grab a shovel and remove the body. If you're keeping score at home (assuming anyone even reads this thing anymore) that's 1 dead mouse, 1 live vole, and 1 dead bunny that I've had to rid the house of in the 13 months we've lived here. Darn varmints.

*My nose officially sucks. There was a rotting maggot-ridden rabbit in the garage and I couldn't smell it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Swiper in action!

A question pondered in a prior post, has been answered. The Bean has Dora on in the other room (the episode involves mermaids), and Dora and Boots just asked Swiper to swipe something for them from a whale. I'm not sure what it was, but I hope it wasn't the whale's personal property. Apparently Swiper's swiping skills are only appreciated when they are selfishly utilized by others.

More adventures in daddyhood

Yesterday at dinner The Bean was vexed by something (I don't remember what), but she looked right at me with a 4-year-old glint in her eye and said "Curse you Anthony!" I'm not sure where she got it, but it was a funny moment in my evening.

I'm home with The Bean today, due to explosive bathroom happenings this morning. The poor kid lost everything and ran for the bathroom again when we were headed to the car, so she ended up with a day off (as did I...though I really need to be at work at the moment. Family 1st though!) This afternoon we have a date with the dentist to get her chipped molar worked on. What fun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Airborne Toxic Event

funny pictures
more funny pictures

In other news, the ninjas are so scared by the crackdown on pirates that they're reduced to robbing dry cleaners. How the mighty have fallen.

In more other news, I saw Airborne Toxic Event at the Ogden a week ago and they were really really good. Go listen if you haven't heard them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Manufactured in a facility that processes tree nut products."

Well we're back from Easter Weekend at the in-laws. We left Friday afternoon, getting Mr. K out of school early to beat the impending storms over Wolf Creek Pass. The first, craziest event of the weekend took place Friday evening. We'd had dinner and Grandma Kathy broke out dessert- Dreyer's Fudge Tracks ice cream. Bowls were served all around and Mr. K, being the always-conscious severe-peanut-allergy-having kid that he is, asked if it was safe for him. I went straight the allergy warning and read "This ingredient is manufactured in a facility that processes tree nut products." Now he does have a severe allergy, but he has to be a kid as well, so if Steph and I are there with an Epi-pen we don't stop him from those kinds of 2nd-hand-possibly-maybe-tainted things.

So Mr. K ate a couple bites of ice cream. He said it didn't taste right and thought he tasted peanuts, so Steph double-checked the label. She read the same thing I did, re-assured him, and he ate a few more bites. Then he stopped, set down his ice cream, and within 5 minutes was having gut-wrenching stomach pains. 45-60 min later he bolted for the bathroom and lost everything in his stomach in spectacular fashion.

Steph, thinking something seemed off by this point, quadruple checked the label and notices, in little 10-pt font on the side of the carton, a notation that the ice cream contains "Real Chunks of Peanut Butter Cups!" Um, shit? Peanut Butter Cups are also listed under the ingredients section, but the allergy warning is pretty vague. (Feel free to judge my parenting skillz here. I have many times in the last 4 days) So, since Mr. K has about the most severe peanut allergy you'll ever see, we packed up and went to the ER for a visit. By the time we got there (really by the time we left the house) it was over. According to the ER doc, Mr. K's GI tract experienced the allergic reaction in place of the rest of the body and saved him. He had some tummy troubles the next couple days, but for the most part his body knew just what to do with peanuts.

So we learned some things...
1st, 3 adults can look at a container and completely miss peanuts. That's scary.
2nd, allergy warnings can be useful, but aren't always as specific as they could be and don't substitute for reading every ingredient.
3rd, Mr. K's body will be completely and totally trusted when it tells him to stop eating something, and if he says it doesn't taste right we're all going to listen.
4th, puking can serve a life-saving purpose. If Mr. K's body can do that every time he ingests a peanut product it will probably save his life multiple times.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Billy Corgan has not "sold out"

I've been struggling with this thing for a few weeks now, since "Today" popped up in a Visa ad. It's a lot more than just a backing song for a random commercial..."Today" was the song that launched the Pumpkins to superstardom, as well as the song that Billy credits with saving his life. All the way back in 2004, there was an interview in Newsweek in which Billy discussed why he had repeatedly refused to license Today and Tonight,Tonight. Here are his words:

(Billy) The song I wrote, "Today," which ended up being a pretty big song--that song literally saved my life. I was completely suicidal, and I wrote that song in a cold bedroom on a day where it was like, "I'm either going to kill myself today, or I'm going to live because I'm sick of thinking about this." When I played it, it was an intense, extreme feeling. Last year, I was offered heavy, heavy money to license that song. I actually turned down two huge, huge, seven-figure-plus deals last year for two songs.

(Newsweek) For "Today" and for which other song?

(Billy) "Tonight, Tonight." That's a fundamentally difficult position to be in. At this point, it's just free money. Song's already been played. It's been exploited. The record company's literally begging me: go ahead and take these commercials. At this point in my life, I don't feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I'm alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it's a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what's not for sale?

So now everything is for sale. Is that selling out? In a sense, absolutely. But looking at it as a progression of the Pumpkins it's a natural step in where the band has been headed. I've been a huge fan for years the last 16 years, but looking back there's a definite break between Adore and Machina, and things haven't been the same since. Gish, Siamese Dream, MCIS, and Adore were the work of a band (and a frontman) that wanted to express things
that could only be expressed through music. From teen angst through the shock of realizing that you're an adult now, those will always be magical CDs.

Machina I and II were different. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the music, but the meaning just isn't there. It's a CD about grappling with the fact that you're a huge rock star. We can all relate to that, right? Then the breakup, Zwan, Billy Corgan's solo CD, SP reformation with 2/4 of the original members, and Zeitgeist, which is a CD about America. Again, good music, just not on the same emotional level as the first albums.

So for the last 9 years the music hasn't been emotional. Musically it's still great, but it hasn't been the kind of music that teenagers will listen to late at night and thank the stars that somebody out there understands what it is to be lost and confused in the big, big world.

With the licensing of Today, Billy has told us all that he realizes that his music doesn't mean what it used to anymore. It's a sad position to be in, but it's somewhat honest as well. Add to that the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin from the Pumpkins, coupled with the announcement that Billy will be going into the studio, alone, to record as The Smashing Pumpkins, as we have a clear picture of Billy's view of the world:
He is the Pumpkins, and music will continue to be made. The music will continue to rawk and be spectacularly constructed, but if you're looking for music that will save your soul the new CD probably won't be it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stewart vs. Cramer

I finally saw The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from 3/12/09. If you doubt the brilliance of Jon Stewart, go watch. I don't watch The Daily Show as much as I'd like to these days, but it remains brilliant. I wonder how it will be viewed 50 years from now. It's one of those cultural touchstones that pops up every so often and you know it's going to be on "I Love the 2000's" on VH1 in a few years, and enshrined in the Smithsonian for posterity.

In other news, life continues in wonderful fashion, hence the dearth of posts. Of course this year I only have 1 blog to update, so my post count here is fairly consistent :-P It also strikes me that as I grow up there are lots of things I can't say on a blog. With the nature of my work, frustrations with sponsors and such are largely confidential. Steph's job lately has been...interesting to say the least. And frustrations with the father of my children will rarely be posted here, because I don't want this to be off limits to the kids in the future.

So things I can talk about...I've been doing well ramping up my running lately and getting some consistency. Currently I can go about 3.5 miles at the dog park without stopping. Pacing is good, as is music to run by (for some reason "Everlong" is great at sunset looking up at the foothills). There's a 5k Saturday being organized as a benefit for a parent of a kid at Kade's school who has cancer, and Steph & I want to go run it. I think I'll do well.

Jennifer and Paul are coming out in a week and a half to see me, which is exciting. The last time I saw them was a few weeks after Sarah and I broke up. I drove to OK for the weekend and spent the whole time venting about how much my life had quietly sucked for a long time. They admitted to me on that trip how little they had liked Sarah, but had put up with her to hang out with me. It'll be a nice change to have them come out and see how great my world is now and meet my new family. They'll love Steph :-) Also I want to go running with Paul. I know he can go a lot farther than me, but then we'll be on my home turf about 5,000 miles higher than he's used to, so I'd bet I can keep up. He was always a runner and I was jealous of that ability. I think I can not embarrass myself now, under these conditions at least.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lookie there, we're in the paper!

This was the front page article on the Denver & the West section of today's (Sunday) paper. Our picture was the big above-the-fold image. We're famous!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A little too quiet...

That doesn't refer to my blog, but rather to the release of the new ipod shuffle. I live on MSNBC for my news updates, and I completely missed this happening today. 4 GB with no buttons? It's like the flea, but REAL. I actually paused for a sec to think about how close April Fool's Day is. But no, apparently this is real and I kind of want one. (But only kind of...1st I'd like a real ipod. My Mini has served me well, but at almost 3 years old it doesn't function when not connected to a power source, and it's only 6 GB.)

I used to mock the original shuffle. My sister had one and I thought it was dumb. I've stolen Steph's now though. I've taken up running and it's perfect for that. 1 GB will hold plenty of music for a good assortment when running or skiing. It works well for the purpose it was made for. Weird how that works.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shenanigans in the past week

Wow it's been a crazy 7 days.
Last Sunday my Uncle Tod made it to Denver for the 1st time in forever. He was always the favorite uncle growing up, so we were all looking forward to his visit. He brought my cousin who is a year older than Mr. K. They got along great and it was good to see them...except that Tod picked up Influenza A on the way down and ended up being a bit too miserable to enjoy himself. By Tuesday my cousin had been stricken as well so we had to stay away after that. Luckily Mr. K and the Bean didn't catch it somehow. Whew. They'd hung out with my cousin Sunday evening, all day Monday, and again Tuesday night and didn't get the bug. Kind of amazing, but we're happy for the small favor. Mostly I was bummed we didn't get to hang out more.

Wednesday was the final prep evening for the MyLifeLine event last night. We headed to Marcia's house and stuffed the gift bags w/ the rest of the crowd. We met Marcia's parents too; good folks. Thursday was the usual gymnastics, but it was bring-a-friend night and since my cousin had left town we did a last-minute invite and had to do a last-minute friend-invite and pickup. Friday we hung out w/ the Myers clan (Steph had drinks w/ Taryn, Jarrod and I hung out w/ the kids and the Wii), and then it was time for Saturday.

We knew yesterday was going to be a bit stressful. We had been helping a bit w/ planning the fundraiser for MyLifeLine when they asked us to share our story as the "featured speakers" for the evening. We agreed, but only because we believe so strongly in the organization. Public speaking is something I haven't done in years, and Steph was a tad apprehensive. We ended up spending almost all day yesterday tweaking the speech to get it just right and finalizing the powerpoint we were going to be using to show off the features of the site. We practiced as many times as we could manage and did a pretty damn good job of it at the actual event. (Video is forthcoming...right now it's trapped on Jarrod's video camera and we need to get cables to get it digitally shareable...) We got nothing but positive feedback (but then I guess people wouldn't say it to our faces if we sucked :-/ )

The event itself was quite nice. Both of our sets of parents went, along w/ Tim & Erin. They'd reserved a table for us right up front, which was nice. We got a couple things in the live auction too. Yay for carefully-directed tax deductions!

Today was regular weekend catchup stuff, and Steph and I both got runs in. I'm up to 1.5 miles or so without slowing to a walk. (At the local dog park that's the distance from the bridge to the pond off over a few hills.) It's not at all a level course, and it's good for me. Steph says I run well, so maybe I'll stick with it awhile and see how it goes. I don't know that I'll get up to her half-marathons, but maybe a 5-k? We'll see.

Bed now. Work 9 hours tomorrow, then immediately hop on a plane to Atlanta, where I stay until Wednesday. Oy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recent goings-on

It's been a few weeks. Oops.

So the weekend before last a critter entered our home. This was brought to my attention when I was in the shower and heard Steph talking quite excitedly to Obi. I couldn't hear much, but it was the "come on doggy, let's play!" type voice. Then she started yelling for me. Hmmmm. I turned off the water and Steph yelled at me to GET DOWNSTAIRS! I did so as quickly as was decent given my previous state and found Steph standing on the stairs trying to redirect Obi from the couch to a basket in the corner. Some sort of creature had darted behind the basket and Obi was lost trying to find it. I found a box and a broom and went to my husbandly duties. One poke to the basket and a small furry thing ran right at me. I showed great braveness and jumped out of the way, while Obi snatched it up in his jaws and ran right outside with it. When Steph and I followed we found him in his dog run poking at a now-bloodied vole. I had to pull Obi off and put the poor little thing out of its misery. Poor guy just had to pick a house with a dog. I felt a little bad for him. But then we don't want to share our house with any furry thing that wanders in out of the cold.

The kids continue to do their thing...The Bean is growing up way too fast. She's getting really tall and it's scary. She has started coming home and relaying details of her day, along with the 4-year-old daycare gossip (who was mean to who, who was her best friend yesterday that she doesn't like any more, etc.) Mr. K has started to notice that people generally like him. It's a good realization for him to come to. He's an energetic kid and quite smart...the realization that people look up to him has helped him with the idea that he needs to set a good example for his friends. He's definitely going to be the ring-leader type. We'll just have to make sure he's steering his friends in the right direction.

In other news, the mylifeline annual soiree is coming up Feb 21. Steph and I have been helping a bit w/ the planning and we are slated to speak at the event...they wanted somebody to share their story and we were a convenient choice. If anybody reading this would be interested in attending, please RSVP at event code: mylifeline09 . Or if you just want to make a donation to a very worthy cause that helped us a ton through the cancer thing, there's an option for that as well at the same link.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's immediate impact

(x-posted from squarestate)

An interesting thing happened yesterday. There was that whole inauguration, sure, but I witnessed a change closer to home that was pretty interesting.

First some background. My stepson is 7. His dad is obsessed with all things military, being from a military family (but not having enlisted himself. Details.) So Mr. K, as I call him in blogs, had grown up with the schema of good guys vs. bad guys, our side vs. their side, our military vs. theirs. Now combine this with the fact that he's 7; born 2 months after 9/11, alive through almost the entire W presidency. His background has always been this national talk of war, conflict, and terrorism. He has told us many times that he'll be a soldier someday, or develop the biggest and best weapon yet, or something of the sort.

And then Obama became President. Mr. K canvassed with me, went to the DNC with me, and got to see the result of all this election nonsense. His class watched the inauguration and by the time I picked him up from school his plans for the future have changed. Suddenly he wants to learn about conflict resolution; about how to get people to agree without fighting; about how to make a living by traveling the country teaching other people about how to get along.

It's hard to imagine the impact a speech can have on a young brain. We older folks watch and think "that was a good speech." For kids they may be getting introduced to new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, and new priorities. I think for kids Mr. K's age and older this change in leadership and tone is going to have a huge impact in the long run. If Obama can continue to inspire, be honest with us, and display real American values, Mr. K and his generation will grow up with a really great study in contrasts. The better option should be fairly obvious.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Transitioning to manhood

Along with the growing of new hairs and the deepening voice, there is a step that is not often mentioned in the health classes. (I blame abstinence-only education.) This is the moment in a young man's life when he pauses in the aisle of a Home Depot (or similar store) and thinks, "you know, I would like to own that tool. I know what I would do with that tool. I can name times in the past week when I would have found that tool to be a handy thing to own." It's a weird moment. Stephanie thinks it's more a function of being a relatively new homeowner, and she probably has a point. But in any case, I have reached the point in my life where I would actively like to own more tools. Straaange.

In other news, this evening the Bean was talking to Steph about her ankle tattoo. "It's there all the time? Will it be there when you die? When you die you're a zombie. But first you have to eat brains." Thanks Uncle Tim.

***The following paragraph may be considered gross to some. Just a warning.***

Continuing on the subject of death, I have started reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers finally. This was recommended to me by both my brother and sister, so I figured it had to be a good read. So far I'm not at all disappointed, however I made the mistake of reading it over breakfast this morning. I was on the chapter about the decomposition of the human body, specifically the part where the author mentions that adolescent maggots chewing on a weeks-old body sound just like fresh Rice Krispies in a bowl of milk. I was eating Cocoa Pebbles, but that was close enough. Note to self- don't read about decomposing bodies while eating. Duh.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Being a superstar

American Idol is back. The season premier was last night, and I can honestly say I have never seen auditions like those on display yesterday. The people on TV were OK, but the real powerhouses of rawk were in my house. See, during commercials the Bean and Mr. K would get up and perform their own auditions, using entirely original compositions. Mr. K had one called "10 Blankets," which faltered only slightly when he needed to pause and think about how many blankets he had referenced so far in the song. The other I remember was about mascara (he rejected my starter lyrics "I've got bat poop on my eyeball/and it makes me pretty"). We'll work on song structure maybe in the future, but he was pouring his heart into it and having a blast. He made it through to Hollywood.

After songs about rainbows and such, the Bean provided the grand finale of the evening. The song was called "Being a Superstar," and the lyrics were something like this:

Being a Superstar is harder than I thought
Harder than I thought
Harder than I thought

Being a Superstar is harder than I thought
Harder than I thought
Harder than I thought

This song was at least 10 minutes long. Every time she hit a "BEING" the air guitar got a big strum for emphasis and her rawk poses came out in force. It was an hour after bedtime, but Steph and I were laughing too hard to stop the madness. She later confessed that the song went on so long because she thought she would have to go to bed when she finished. At least she could admit that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wedding reception

OK, it's night and my internet is so far functional...lately it's been crashing at night, so we'll see if this works so I can actually post something.

On New Years Eve we had a wedding reception. The plan originally had been to have an outdoor mountain picnic in June of '08, but that didn't work out with Steph's treatments and such, so we moved our target back to October. The impending birth of our new nephew delayed that, since Jeff and Kelly wouldn't have been able to make plans to be here. It turned out that they couldn't come anyway, but in any case the party was pushed back to New Year's Eve, which has become my favorite holiday over the years anyway. The shindig was small, with just family and a few of our very close friends invited. There were still some last-minute no-shows (Wendy had the nerve to have a baby the day before her due date, which we knew might happen, and Kath had a migraine. We love those.) but then my uncle Steve happened to be up skiing in the hills with his family and they were able to come down, so that was a nice surprise.

The party itself took place at our home, with food prepared almost entirely by Steph & me. We had fun putting it together and the whole thing went off nicely. So! (Photo credits and thanks to my sister-in-law Erin, previously mentioned here as the designer of my tattoo)

Since this was a wedding reception, we did have a couple traditional things...I gave Stephanie a wedding ring finally (which had been offered when we got married and declined at the time):

And of course there was cake.The kids were able to pretty much entertain themselves, the adults sometimes wandering in on their action...Tim enjoyed telling them scary stories at their request. I can't wait until he has kids and I can repay his kindness :-)

The evening was spent hanging out with friends and family, eating, talking, the things you do at a reception.

And just 'cuz...some gratuitous pics of the happy couple:

Steph thinks I don't open my eyes when I smile. Where would she get that idea?!
But seriously, am I lucky or what?

I'm glad we got to celebrate our marriage. The meaning of the celebration kind of changes when it's over a year after the fact, but more than anything this was a celebration of where we've been and where we're going. We face the future with our eyes wide open to the curveballs life can throw, but we're happy to have each other, to be a family, and to build our future together.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009!
There's a lot to be said about the holidays and addition to Christmas, we finally had a wedding reception on New Year's Eve :-D Pics to follow when I get to it...

For now a quote from and old SNL that had Steph and I laughing our asses off the other night...

"Laughter is the best medicine. Unless you have cancer. Then you should get chemo."