Monday, December 29, 2008

Ghost Town

I know things have been quiet on here for a bit, but we've been super busy with all the holiday fun! I've gotten to that point again where I'm scared to even think about posting anything, because there's too much to update, so I'll just have to ignore most of it and start fresh pretty soon.

Hope everybody has had a wonderful holiday! Happy New Year coming!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mac vs. PC

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Class Down...

Well, it looks like I won't have to retake Quant I again after all... And, if everything works out the way it's looking, I may actually end up with an A for this semester.. Next semester brings Quant II, so as much fun as I had this time around, I sure am excited for what the Spring will bring!

I couldn't find the review for the final that our professor posted, but here are a few questions from our first quiz review, just so you can enjoy some of it with me (gotta love his sense of humor...):

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In constant motion

More fun with the new toy... Emily and I went to a basketball game the other night, and during it she wanted to step outside and play for a bit.  I got some of it recorded, which you can enjoy below.  This one's got it all folks! Action, suspense, and stick around for the shadow dancing near the end, it's worth it :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New toy

I can't remember if I've already mentioned this, but I got a Christmas present a little early and have been playing with it for a few days. As you can see with the two videos below, if I upload it correctly to youtube, it will display in HD (or close to it). If you happen to have a computer from the 80's or so, you may need to actually visit the youtube page and watch in "normal" quality so it doesn't skip so much.

So now (hopefully) I'll have my pictures separated from my videos. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Video Test 2 - HD?

Video Test

Friday, November 28, 2008

"Happy" Thanksgiving not so happy for Emily...

So, if you get queasy fast, you may want to skip this post. I won't give many details, but there will be enough in here that if you have a weak stomach, you should think about skipping this one.

Yesterday we waited.. and waited... and waited for food. I tried to stay busy all day, and conserve my energy for my favorite meal of the year, and Leslie was busy most of the day preparing different dishes. She didn't particularly like me forcing her into decorating the house for Christmas, but I managed to talk her into it :)

So, family finally arrived around 4. It took another hour and a half to get everything ready to eat, by then I was starting to look at my shoe as an appetizer. Emily had made name plates for everybody, and assigned seats, so we all sat down to enjoy the meal. Just as we were getting settled in, Emily started complaining of a tummy ache. I brushed it off quickly, assuming it was just a normal ache, probably because she hadn't eaten hardly at all the entire day. I told her to eat some and it would probably get better. She wasn't convinced, and at that point I started wondering if this was something different.

She wanted to sit over at the table with Leslie, Benjamin and myself, but for some reason didn't want to sit with me. She chose to sit by herself, and continued to cry for some time. I finally told her that if she wanted to she could go lie down in our bed for a bit. When she immediately started heading that way, I knew something was up. Here we were, the entire family, and her two cousins, and she chose to lie down rather than hang out with all of us.

I went into the bedroom where she was on the bed crying, and sat with her. That's when wave one hit... I won't go into too much detail, but the bedding immediately came off, and I rushed her into the bathroom. She was crying too much to get her near the toilet, so she just proceeded to unload all over the floor (and me). When she was finished we got her clothes off, and Leslie rushed to get her some pajamas. Since I was covered as well, I took off my shirt and started washing my arms off in the bathtub. What came next was by far the worst moment of the entire evening... Taking into consideration the overwhelming need to take all pain and discomfort away from either one of my kids, and gladly accept it for them, as I sat there washing my arms, Emily was shaking, naked, next to me. She quietly said to me, "Sorry for spitting up on your arm daddy."

Those of you that know me, know that I HATE throwing up... I mean, "pluck my toenails out slowly rather than throw up" hate throwing up. I would have thrown up a thousand times rather than see my daughter, who was as sick as she was, think about apologizing to me... I mean, I would have done anything to keep her from being sick in the first place, but that moment got me bad...

So, we got her cleaned up, she laid down in front of the television, surrounded by towels and buckets for a while. She threw up every ten to fifteen minutes for about two hours, and got to the point where when she was done, she'd fall asleep sitting up while Leslie was holding her. We finally got her into bed with us, and by then it was only about every hour until about 10, then she was done for the night.

She seems better, but tired this morning. No signs of Benjamin, Leslie, or me being sick... yet :)

So now, just a few things... First, all the food I missed: I'm still a little hesitant, so I'm going to give it the day to make sure I don't have what she did. Second: this being my favorite day of the year and all, even though I didn't get out at 4 AM like I would have liked, maybe I can convince them to go out for a little bit :) Yeah yeah, I know.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the post below this, you MUST see it. It's worth every second!

Must see.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't believe I've neglected posting for so long.. I got into one of those cycles where I kept saying to myself, "what's the problem.. I've waited this long, may as well wait another day.."  Gotta break the cycle at some point, might as well be today!

The marathon was good, and was a lot of fun for Leslie doing her quarter marathon!  My knee has been killing me since, so that's not especially fun, but it was a great time in Tulsa. 

I've attached some pictures below of various stuff: Leslie reading at Barnes and Noble, Emily's Thanksgiving day party at school (she made the hat), and some videos and pictures from the zoo yesterday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Good times comin' ...

I received this email two days ago:

Greetings from your past. In the fall of 2005, you agreed to receive this message, which has been preserved for a year in the E-Mail Time Capsule. For more details, visit

Here is the text of your message:

Just finished putting Emily to bed (it's Nov. 6 2005 just in case it doesn't say). She just started running everywhere the past few days, really funny to see her legs move without bending her knees. Leslie is enjoying her new sewing machine, and I love my new ipod video. Just to see if my plan works, I'm saying we'll get pregnant next August, 2006, having our next child May of 2007 (and hopefully I'll be a principal by then). I wonder if these things will truly happen.... Cya then!

I remember the time capsule, but to be honest, I don't remember writing any of this. I guess I wasn't too far off (except the year off for Benjamin..), but thought it was really cool to be emailed by myself from the past.

Anyway, I'm up and getting ready to pack for our trip today. Ryan, Holly, Leslie and I are heading to Tulsa for the marathon tomorrow. I can't wait to see how I do, since I haven't run in about a week, and the other three are doing the 6 mile. The biggest concern I have at this point is not the 26 miles, it's the checkout time from the hotel at 1:00PM... Since I start at 8, and assuming I can get my run done in about 4 hours, I should have time to get back and get a shower. If something goes wrong, however, it could be one stinky ride home...

I'm also not real excited about leaving the kids, but as bad as I am, I'm not quite sure if Leslie is going to make it without Ben this long. I've been noticing it the past couple of days, and yesterday when she started asking me when we were coming home I knew it was bad. I told her we'd probably eat lunch or something after the run before we came back, and she quickly told me there would be NO movie, that would put us over the 24 hour mark without being home. Yup, that bond is pretty strong :)

Anyway, not much else lately. Emily was the "leader" yesterday at school, and apparently had a great time doing it. Leslie walked by and saw her sitting on a yellow square while everybody else was running around and playing, and thought she might be in trouble. She came back some time later, same thing. She popped her head in and asked the teacher if she had done something, she replied "No, that's the leader seat, and she just won't leave it." She was completely content resting on her throne :)

Last night Leslie read at Barnes and Noble for a crowd, which was a lot of fun. Emily did great sitting next to her, but boy did I see a different Emily then. It's standard practice that when we go anywhere, if Emily sees anybody, or if I see anybody, she'll hold back before speaking to them. She doesn't completely bury her face or go nuts, but she's pretty tentative... Not last night..

When we hit the door, she was greeted by three of Leslie's students, and immediately left me to go hug and say hi. Without even looking back they all ran off toward the back of the store. Once I got back there, Emily was already seated next to Leslie to start the reading. As Leslie read the book, Emily would look out into the crowd, wave her hand, and mouth "HI!" to various people. When Leslie was finished, Emily got up, and went down the crowd hugging and waving, like a little celebrity. I now see how the next 10 or so years are going to develop, and I'll tell ya, I'm not real excited :)

Now remember Emily, I'M your best friend... right?

We've got a new elf this year!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will you tell me a story?

Over the past few weeks Emily has been very interested in stories. She'll ask me over and over again to tell her the "spooky room" story, or the "trick or treat" story, or any other "story" we come up with during the day. I love how normal, average, run of the mill daily activities turn in to such amazing stories that she wants told and told again. It's a lot of fun, especially when I get to.. well.. as you can tell from most of these posts.. embellish just a wee bit :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


About a month ago, Emily and I were looking around at Super Target and we found a really cool Ariel costume for Halloween. We decided to wait (bad idea, for the second year in a row) to get the costume later, and wouldn't you know it, it was gone when we came back. Leslie ended up getting another Ariel costume which didn't fit really well (the legs were so tight - I guess to make it look like a mermaid - that it looked like Emily was trying to walk with both legs down one leg of a pair of pants), so we ended up taking that one back, and getting a Sleeping Beauty costume.

So, yesterday morning finally came, and after Leslie got her dressed in her Sleeping Beauty costume, she decided she'd much rather wear a white dress she'd had for a while, instead of the new one. So, off that one came, and on came the white dress. Emily packed her pink shoes in her backpack, "just in case the white ones make my feet hurt."

She had her Halloween party yesterday at school, and unfortunately I got there too late and just saw her leaving with Papa Vinny (with her pink shoes on - good thinking on her part!). She said she had lots of fun! You can see pictures from her school party below.

So, Trick-or-Treating time came last night, and at about 5:30 last night we got ready and headed down the street to meet at Gavin's house (a friend of Emily). They had invited a lot of the neighborhood kids over to eat pizza, hang out, and then go Trick-or-Treating together, so when we were all ready to go, we had about 15 or so kids.

For the past several years, trick-or-treating has consisted of strapping Emily into the car, driving across town to various friends' homes, loading up on candy, and heading back home - not exactly the fun filled walks I remember as a kid. I figured with all the "DEATH KNIVES IN CANDY!!!" or "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, THE PUBLIC IS THE ENEMY!" or "WALKING ON SIDEWALKS CAN KILL YOU" headlines over the years during Halloween had transformed this once enjoyable family outing into an exercise in surveillance, complete with mace and cell phones ready to dial 911. I just thought this was the new 'norm.' I was happy to see I was wrong, because as we stepped out, every way you looked in the streets there were kids and families running from home to home, laughing, playing, falling, screaming, etc.

So, we got started. As the kids rushed up to the first home, Emily stayed back (big shocker). We both told her that she was welcome to stay with us, but she wouldn't be able to get any candy that way... I could tell she was fighting the fear internally, so after a moment I offered to go up with her. Before I could even finish asking her she had grabbed my hand and up we were going. The exchange went well, and just like last year, I couldn't get a "trick or treat!!" out of her, but she quickly thanked them with no reminder.

As the kids made it to more and more houses, she started relaxing, getting into the candy grabbing groove. One of us still had to go up to the door with her, but each time, we could back up a little more, letting her go in. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the kids rush up there scrambling to be first at the door. Emily would just hang back, let all the chaos ensue, then as the kids rushed off, she would walk up to the door. Every time, the people at the door would take just a liiiitle more time with her, and give her just a liiiiitle more candy... Nice - working the system already - now that's my girl right there :) It was especially funny with several homes, because after our group would make it to the home, as soon as we'd leave, the porch light would be out and doors locked. Apparently we cleaned out quite a few stashes of candy...

We had finally gotten into a pretty good pace, and then, on the corner, was a house almost completely dark. There were a few pumpkins at the front door which were lit, and a light over the porch glowed with an odd purple haze. At first I couldn't tell if this was a 'go away' house, but then I heard some faint screams from a recording near the front door, and realized this was a 'come if you dare' house... Just as I was putting all of this together, the kids were rushing towards the front door.

You know how when you're sitting at a restaurant table, and you move for one reason or another, and you knock your drink over, spilling over every single square inch of the table, as well as soaking everybody with you? You know that instant... just before it crashes on the table... where time seems to slow for an instant? Somewhere in your mind you can actually see yourself reaching out and grabbing that glass just in the nick of time, but by the time everything has processed, it's too late... Okay, so.. Here are about 15 kids, all under the age of five, running from door to door, without a care in the world. They are rushing up to this house, just like any other they've done before. I started putting together the events which were about to unfold, but by the time I could make sense of any of it... it was too late.

Emily, working the system as she had been doing so well, was in the least fortuitous position. The first bunch ran up, and in concert, hesitated for an instant as they heard the first scream from the door. It didn't phase them too much, because an instant later they were rapping on the door. For a short time, there was no answer, but then, just as they were probably figuring there was no one at home, the door swung open and behind it stood a man (who probably looked ten feet tall from their perspective) wearing a hockey mask, and screamed at them with his best scary scream he could let loose.

A collective shriek echoed through the neighborhood as 15 kids turned tail and bolted. And like a carefully laid out row of dominoes, all fell on one another, Emily being at the end - putting her at the BOTTOM of the pile. Candy flew into the air, looking a little like fireworks as the light of the moon hit them, and scattered across the yard, but the kids could care less at that point, as they continued to claw and scramble their way back to the parents.

The man immediately took off his mask and started apologizing, but there really wasn't time to talk to him, because by then the kids were half way back to their homes, still screeching in horror. We managed to round them all up, get the candy back in their buckets, and back on track with the more... friendly... homes :) On a loop back around, Emily noticed we were back across the street from that house, and all she did was stop, raise her arm deliberately, and point at the house.. then quickly ran off to the next house.

After that, we ran over to Mema Marge's where she and Chippa were waiting with a full basket of candy for Emily. We chatted for a while, then rushed back home for bed. Of course, we had to look at all the candy first, but then a well earned restful bedtime.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McFarlin's Halloween Festival

This sure has been a party filled weekend! We just got back from the McFarlin Halloween Festival, and Emily had a lot of fun! We made the rounds through the different games, and had a few "talks." Emily would approach a game, then get shy, and would start walking away, which we would have nothing of... We tried to make it clear several times that if she wanted to get in line to play a game, she best be playing it when she got there (and you'll like it!) Once she warmed up to all the stuff going on in there, it went just fine.

She liked the hey ride (or is it hay? Too lazy to check...), but especially loved making her own cookie. As you can see in the pictures below, she didn't hold back on the toppings :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the SPOOKY room

Terry, Abby and Ryan came over tonight to play for a while. We got McDonald's for everybody, ate dinner, played some, then went to the Halloween Fun Night put on by the city. When we got there, Emily noticed a huge bouncy slide, so we made our way over to that.

Per the norm, it took Emily once with me helping her up before she warmed up to the idea of doing it herself, but once she did, we spent about the next 20 minutes watching her do laps around the thing, sliding down, running over, jumping onto the ladder, then sliding down again.

During these laps, Terry and her kids decided to go through the "Haunted House" in the back of the facility. They came back shortly after, Abby and Ryan didn't look too pleased. Terry told us it was pretty scary in there. As she was talking to us, Emily became quite interested in the conversation. After she was finished, Emily looked up at me and said, "Daddy, I want to go in the spooky room."

Perspective: Two nights ago Leslie heard a thump outside while I was putting Emily to bed, and asked from the computer room, "What was that?" Emily sensed something in her mother's voice, and like a switch had been thrown somewhere inside her nervous system, began crying and asking what was going on. It took about thirty minutes of reassuring her that there was no dog outside barking (and I was praying the stray dog that had been hanging out by our house wouldn't come back any time soon) or any other noises before she managed to go to sleep.

Perspective: At Wal Mart, when we're shopping and we get to the mask section, Emily tells me to put on a mask, then immediately asks me, "Daddy, is that you in there?" And VERY shortly after, "Daddy, take it off."

"Emily, it's really scary in there, are you sure you want to go in the spooky room?"


I looked over at Leslie, and she had that look on her that I could read instantly: "If you are crazy enough to encourage this, you are going to deal with the outcome." I didn't mind that challenge one bit, so we started moving toward the door. Between that point and the door, I asked Emily no less than three hundred and sixty two times if she was sure she wanted to go in the room. Each time, she said, "yes." So we continued.

As we neared the door, we could hear loud voices, sounding as if they were over an intercom system, as well as lots of screams. I was trying to gauge Emily's responses, but she seemed okay. I looked at her and told her, "Emily, everything in that room is pretend, and all the masks are from Wal Mart."


At this point I was beginning to second guess my judgment. I looked back over at Leslie. Yup, same look. I asked Emily again. Yup, same answer. So there we were at the front of the line. A few seconds later, a couple of kids came screaming out of there at full speed. I glanced at Emily, she showed no signs of backing off... Then the door opened for us.

As the door creaked open, I could see some stuff hanging from the ceiling that looked to be spider webs, ghosts and other spooky stuff. At the end of the first corridor (made of trash bags for walls) there hung a skeleton, which was glowing under the florescent flashing lights. I took one step in the room, and Emily said calmly, "I don't want to go in here Daddy." Out we went. Total time in room: 4 seconds.

We came out, Leslie had a pretty big grin on her face. "That was quick," she said laughing. So, back to laps at the slide.

About five minutes later, Emily walked up to me and said, "I want to go back to the spooky room." Now, you can throw all the evidence in the world that this kind of thing isn't genetic, but the resemblance to Leslie was uncanny at this point. I could tell how badly Emily wanted to be scared, but at the same time, wanted nothing to do with it. Leslie LOVES scary movies (they're the kind of movie we both can agree on), but then attaches herself to me for the next several hours (and I love scaring her during those times more than just about anything else.. it's the little things in life that make it all worth while :) So, off we went, back to the room.

The man at the door was smiling as we neared the front of the line. He tried to assure Emily that there wasn't anything real in the room, just all pretend. The door creaked open, and in we went, again.

As we neared the end of the first corridor, we noticed a group of two young girls and their father behind us. As I rounded the first corner, I saw the long hall formed by trash bags, and began wondering at what points those bags were going to come apart with somebody jumping out in front of us... So, I asked the girls and dad behind us to go ahead of us, hoping I could diminish the initial shock when people came jumping out, using the ones in front as bait. As they passed us, Emily said, "I don't want to go in there." Out we went. Total time in room: 34 seconds.

It was about time to go. Terry rounded up her kids, we said our goodbyes, and away they went. We were packing up getting ready to go, and Emily began insisting that we go back to the room. After some convincing, we went back, for the FINAL time in the room.

As the door opened this time, the man at the door called in, "we've got a young one coming in," then looked at me and said, "they'll go easy on her." This was it, I figured if we could make it past the first corner, I'd just push through as quickly as possible.

We rounded that first corner and she started crying. Not an all out cry, but a "why did I do this?" cry. I could tell she wanted to get through this, she was mustering up every ounce of bravery that she could. I could see people behind the bags as we walked down the hall, and I knew they were taking it easy on us, as they just stayed back there, not popping out. Then we reached the first big turn, and there was a cell with a strange clown looking dude with a lollipop. He looked at Emily and asked, "You wanna lollipop?" I figured Emily wouldn't even answer, she never does with even regular looking people if she doesn't know them, but not this time. She looked right back at him and said (pretty sternly, if I remember correctly), "NO." Okie dokie, and off we went. As we turned that corner, I could tell all that bravery she had pushed up to answer that scary man had pushed her over the edge, and she began to lose it. I picked up the pace, and there was a guy poking out of the "wall" with a scary mask on. He could tell things were going south quick, so he just waved. Didn't help too much. I whipped around the next corner, and we were out!

She lost it for a few moments, but calmed down enough to thank the man for the skittles and dots he gave her, then off we went. As we neared the car, Emily told us, "maybe when I'm... TEN I'll go into the spooky room." I told her, "Emily, you already went in there, and you were VERY BRAVE!"

"No, I'll go when I'm ten."


We didn't talk much on the way home. She just played games on my iPhone. We got home, and I was sitting with her at the computer before we got ready for bed, and out came the question...

"Daddy, can you tell me the story about me and the spooky room?"

So, I began to replay the details of our evening together. I watched her face as I described the room, and I could tell how proud of herself she was for making it through it. I was pretty proud too.

Pumpkin Patch!

Another visit to the pumpkin patch today, and this time we got one to take home and carve!

Halloween Fun Tonight!

We're planning on going to the Norman Parks and Rec department's Halloween Festival tonight, should be fun. Until more info, enjoy this footage I dvr'd from the Olympics. You may have missed it, it came on pretty late one night, but worth watching!
Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another video...

Emily - 3 Years

From Pumpkin patch and Andy Alligators

Benjamin's Baptism

A great morning!


Actually, there wasn't much more to the story, that about wrapped up my lunacy for that evening.

This morning Benjamin is getting baptized! We'll get some pictures and post them later. As for now, here are some we've taken recently. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lagging behind...

Okay, so it's been a while. Unfortunately, it's been so long I can't remember half the stuff that's gone on, so I'll do my best..

Going to the Norman Regional Hospital party at Andy Alligators had plenty of fun moments in it. The first was getting there: as we were driving closer to the shuttle location (the health plex), Emily started asking questions:

"Where are we going?"

"To Andy Alligators, but we have to park in the parking lot here and get a ride on a bus over there."

"Is there a doctor there?"

"No, that's just where we are parking."

"To go to the doctor? Do I need a shot?" Her voice became more and more worried..

"Emily, we're just parking there. We're not going into the doctor."

"For a shot?"

And on, and on, and on. We finally managed to convince her what was going on, and then there was the uncertainty of the bus. She enjoyed that after we got moving though. Once at Andy Alligators, the best part was the huge balloon slide that looked like a tiger. She wanted to go down the slide, but as soon as we got closer, she started edging away, telling me she didn't want to go. I knew she liked those slides, so I basically ignored her and kept walking towards it. I could tell things were getting worse as she started crying, but I was having none of it, and kept dragging her over there. Finally, as we got to the ladder, she begged me to go with her, so I did. As we got on, she turned to Leslie and said, "it's okay mommy, it's just a pretend tiger," and kept repeating that to herself as we crawled up his neck. Made perfect sense then, as I looked at his huge teeth twice the size as me as we walked up. From that point on she wanted to do it by herself, and slid down over, and over, and over.

We did lots of other rides, including the ferris wheel, which she loved as well.

The only other fun of the week was last Friday night. As we were eating at Teds, Leslie noticed that Emily didn't have a stamp on her hand. When she asked her about it, Emily answered, "I didn't get a stamp because I was running in the room."

I was shocked. But not for the reason any sane rational human being would be. I was shocked (wait for it) because I couldn't believe Emily had it in her head that she didn't get a stamp for that reason. If you don't get me yet, I won't give it away, keep reading.

"What does that mean, Emily?" I asked. She told me the story again. Still, I knew she was wrong, and was pretty disturbed that she was telling me this. So I asked some other questions.. Questions like, "did anybody else get a stamp?"


Surely not. If you haven't figured it out, here it is: I KNEW Emily didn't do anything wrong, so there was some big misunderstanding somewhere in this story. "No," I replied, "Emily, if you didn't get a stamp, nobody else did either, right? Did the teacher just forget?"


At this point Leslie went back to eating. She knew this would take a while.

"So, Emily. You didn't get a stamp because you were running?"


I looked at Leslie. "Do you have her phone number?"

At this point, oh, if only I could describe the look I received across the table. She looked at me briefly, and I could tell she was trying her best to choose her words carefully... Finally, she spoke.

"No, and we will not be calling her." She returned to eating.

Now, I know that I'm a little overboard when it comes to being dad. I know I've been banned from calling OU child development as well as McKinley by Leslie because I'm so overboard. Did that stop me during this conversation? Do I even need to ask that question?

"How do we know that's the right story?"

To be honest here, it felt a little weird even asking that. Again, didn't stop me.


I paused. Common sense dictated a pretty clear understanding of the situation. Of course, I disregarded it.

"Well, when teachers at Alcott give demerits, they have to contact parents for this very reason. How do we know this is what happened? Maybe she just forgot?" Yeah, I was reaching, even for me at that point.

"Well..." She slowed down her speech which was I'm sure for hopes that I would actually comprehend the logic escaping her mouth. "Emily has told us about three times now the story. I think we should believe her. Emily, you can't watch any TV or movies tonight."

"Okay," she replied.

Okay? That's it?

"Let's call her."

Oops, game is about to start. I'll finish later :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Feature Presentation (Part TWO)

The Yellow Park experience:

I've got to start writing these as they happen... My memory fades too fast :)

Okay, one afternoon last week, I had Emily and Benjamin (I think Leslie either had a meeting, or was working late at school), and I had the great idea that we should all go to the yellow park. I got Benjamin ready (forgot socks again, shhh, don't tell Leslie), and Emily got her shoes on. She hopped on her bike, I put her helmet on, and I sat Benjamin in the stroller. We were ready to go. We'd be to the park in no time, plenty of playtime, then back home before it got dark. Off we went!

Problems began before we even got out of the garage.. Benjamin appeared to be sitting at a 40 degree angle (the wrong way, his head was on the down-side of that angle...) and his head was turning slightly purple from all the blood rushing to his brain, and Emily needed the "two-finger-hold" technique I spoke about in an earlier post. I adjusted Benjamin, grabbed the bike, and started scooting down the driveway.

Now, those of you that know our driveway, it's not a steep hill, but it's got a slant to it, to be sure. And there's no curb in our neighborhood, just that "almost" curb that kills your car every time you leave your driveway. So at this point I realized that the stroller has an ever so slight tendency to veer off to the right, and Emily likes to turn her bike to the left. As Emily began her "Daddy can you hold me!?!?!?" cry as she realized I had released my hold on her bike, I noticed Benjamin had left my grip as well, and was throttling toward the street at what seemed like about 25 miles per hour. I sprinted off to grab Benjamin, and Emily started squealing out of control as her bike started plunging toward the street as well. I threw the brakes on the stroller, grabbed Emily's bike, and we all sat there in silence, panting, for about fifteen seconds.

We hadn't even made it off the driveway yet...

You can imagine the next 30 minutes or so. We went from the stroller racing to the right, me fighting Emily as she tried to pull her bike to the left, all the while making sure I had those TWO PRECIOUS FINGERS attached to her handlebars. Every time I'd lose my grip on her bike, she'd slam on the brakes and Benjamin and I would keep moving forward a few steps before she started demanding we return to replace my hold on the bike. At this point we're only down about a block, with six or so to go. And then came the hill. Oh, I'll spare you the details of that one, but one thing was certain at this point: I had COMPLETELY lost [my mind] my memory of how wonderful I felt knowing that Emily was slowly adapting to her bike just how she did swimming, and how proud of myself I was that I understood it, and could handle it so well. Yeah, that was completely gone, now there was just one... simple... goal: THE YELLOW PARK.

I reached critical mass about two blocks from the park. I grabbed Emily's bike by the throat, latched the other hand securely on the stroller, and kicked it into high gear. Emily felt the sudden change in tempo and spoke up, "Daddy, why are we going so fast?" I replied, calmly (I'd like to think that I held it together to maintain a calm demeanor - that's my story and I'm sticking to it..) "We're going to the park, and we're making it happen." I knew she didn't have a clue what that meant.. I didn't even know what it meant, but we were moving with a purpose, and it felt gooooood.

I can only imagine the look I had on my face as we powered down the middle of the road just a block or two away from the park. As if the situation could not get any worse, just then a large maroon suburban pulled into a driveway near us. As I glanced over, I could see a woman exiting the driver's side, and I could tell by the expression on her face she was thoroughly enjoying the show. As we neared her house, her grin became even larger as she yelled, "WHOAH, now there's some multitasking for you!" Of all the people, in all the world, I had to run into soccer-mom-joker.

The rest of the evening was a blur. I remember somehow getting to the park, Emily playing for a while, as I sat wheezing in the corner. To be honest, I can't even remember how we got home.

The Doctor visit:

We had come to Emily's 4 year visit, and Benjamin's 4 month visit. We knew there was a possibility of shots, but somewhere I was hoping it wasn't true. I know this one will come as a shocker, but I was wrong...

When we arrived, things went pretty well at first. We got back to the room, Emily seemed rather calm, she only tensed up a little when we tried to measure her height. As Benjamin was getting weighed, I remembered Emily's response, even at his age, when we tried to weigh her. She screamed and screamed as the nurse held her and placed her on the scale. Benjamin looked completely content. Emily: high maintenance, OCD, worries too much - my daughter. Benjamin: calm, laid back, enjoys almost everything - Leslie's son.

Anyway, when everybody got settled, we decided that Benjamin would go first, hopefully to ease some of the tension with Emily. He was silent through the entire exam, only laughing slightly as the doctor checked him out. Then Emily's turn. First she freaked out when we asked her to sit on the table, and then the best part...

She was yelling through most of the exam to begin with, then two things happened:

1. Her left ear didn't register on the hearing exam (you can imagine my response, both internally and externally...)

2. As the doctor was nearing her mouth to examine her throat, Emily grabbed her arm and pushed it away.

Now, the number one we can all deal with (at least, I hope everybody can). I knew it was just my over-OCD kicking into high gear, and it was nice to realize that I had the deaf one all wrong this whole time. Numero dos, however, now that was a different story. I was holding Emily in my lap at the time, but even with my reaction time, and as close as I was to Emily, as soon as I saw her grab the doctor's arm and I started moving my head down to scold her, I STILL didn't beat Leslie from moving across the room and into Emily's face. We weren't too pleased with her behavior on that one.

So, after all the drama had passed, the doctor pulled out about six pounds or so of "ear jam" (as we call it) and she passed her hearing screen. Now... prepare yourselves... it was time for shots.

Emily was first on this one, so without much waiting, I plopped her up on the table and grabbed her arms and upper body. The nurse had her legs and started unwrapping not one, not two, but FIVE shots for Emily. Lest we not forget my last shot experience when I passed out.. Emily was now up for FIVE. I've gotta hand it to the nurse, she whipped through those five shots with grace and accuracy in about ten seconds, but Emily didn't like it one bit.

Then it was Benjamin's turn. He ONLY had three shots. He giggled a little on the second.

And that concludes our feature presentation. Stay tuned for Andy Alligators, part deux!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Feature Presentation (Part ONE)

Emily's new school friend:

One morning last week I found some stuff Leslie had forgotten, so I was running them by her school before I had to be at work. After I ran into her, I asked her where Emily was, she told me she was in the Cafeteria. As soon as she told me that, I said:

"Who's with her?"

"I think Kaitlyn."

That's it? You aren't in there with her, and that's okay with you?!?! I almost turned and raced through the halls to find her, but then I realized, she's at school, and that's what kids do at school. Funny how it never computed that Emily would just be hanging out by herself with other kids in the cafeteria before the school bell rang. [Sniff] She's growing up so fast.. [Sniff, sniff] Ahem, anyway..

As I walked down toward the cafeteria, I saw her through the door. I thought she saw me, because she started running at full speed toward the door. I started to reach out my arms for her like I always do, but then I quickly realized she was NOT running toward me, but rather another student that looked about the same age as her. I saw them hold hands, and head back into the cafeteria. I followed them in, and ended up right behind them as they neared the food line. Emily was holding/tugging her friend at this point, and turned around and looked at me. Now, when Emily has seen me out of nowhere, her routine (consistently) has been: drop everything she was doing, sprint at full speed toward me, grab me with a big hug, then let me hold her for a bit. This time, she turned and saw me, smiled, said hi, and then went back about her business. I now knew I was in the twilight zone.

So she and her friend approached the server, and Emily told her, "Erika (not her real name, but since I don't have this girl's permission... you know...) wants cereal, white milk, a spoon, and napkins please." The server responded, "Okay, do you know her last name yet?" Odd question - and by the way, this whole thing was a little odd.. Emily being miss bossy britches here? The girl can't even get her own food? "No, not yet." She loaded up the tray, and carried it for Erika over to a table. Never mind me, I had to follow along like a lost puppy. I asked her if I could sit next to her, and she told me sure, so I did. Then Emily went to work on opening the cereal container. I looked over at Erika, who was silent, and said, "I'm Emily's daddy." No response, but a smile. As soon as everything was set, the school bell rang. Erika didn't get one bite, but that didn't matter much to Emily, she snatched up all the food, threw it away, and off they went to class. I rushed to follow them, still pretty confused to the whole event. Just before Emily got to her classroom, she turned, told me "bye!" gave me a big hug and kiss, and off she went. I ran back into Leslie on the way out and told her what had happened, telling her how confused I was. She told me that Erika doesn't speak a word of English, and is new to the school. Emily had taken it upon herself to befriend this little girl, and help her out throughout the day.

That's my daughter I'm talking about right there, and it's not possible to be any more proud of her.

Games we play:

One of Emily's favorite games to play in the house has been (for quite some time) "Do you want to run to the pillow?" We should probably come up with a better title to the game, but, that's what it is. The game basically goes like this: I start walking toward her room, and she follows close behind, giggling uncontrollably. At some point I snap around, and start sprinting for our bedroom. Since I'm behind her at this point, she whips around and runs at full speed toward our bed as well, barely able to breathe as she laughs so hard. Once in our room, she runs over to my side of the bed and starts climbing, and I rush to Leslie's side and "climb" up as well. Then, the head that hits my pillow first, "wins." No matter who it is, it's always the other person's turn next, according to the amended rules by Emily. So, if she gets there, she immediately says, "YOU'RE TURN!" and If I get there, "MY TURN!" So we repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

Well, as much fun and hilarity that has ensued with that game in the past, Emily was apparently ready for a NEW game the other day, as she started explaining the rules to me spontaneously one afternoon. She took one of the kid seats we put in the chairs over and placed it on the living room floor, then said, "Daddy, start at this chair, run into your room, come back, and touch the chair." So off I went. When I got back, she yelled, "My turn!" and stood up on the little blue chair. I told her, "Emily, ["yeah?"] run into my closet ["yeah.."], touch a shoe [giggle, "yeah"], go to my bed ["yeah"] jump on it three times [laugh hard, "yeah.."] then come back to the chair.

She sped off in a blur, quickly followed by faint laughter in my closet, then giggling as she hopped on the bed, then back to the chair. We went back and forth with this for a while, until she said, "Okay daddy, now give me a HARD ONE!!" So I gave her lots of steps, many places to crawl, she had to count to ten in the middle, spin around a couple times here and there, and then back. As she sped off I could hear her repeat all the instructions back to herself as she went from room to room, and at one point she came back in and said, "Do I spin in the chair in the computer room 4 times, THEN crawl under the chair in the dining room, or dining room them computer room?" I replied, "Computer room, then dining room." And off she went, whizzing through the rest of the steps.

So anyway, that's our latest time filling game. I like the sitting part and instructing her better :)

Okay, that's all I've got for now. I still have the yellow park and the doctor stories, so stay tuned!

Before the Feature Presentation...

Now that you've waited with just those tidbits, and I've got more than ten seconds to sit down, let me fill you in on all the good details!

Before I get to the stories, I want to share with you my 20 mile run this morning. I decided last week to run 20 this morning to get a good idea of where I was in my training. I figured that if I did pretty well with this one, the marathon on November 16 shouldn't be too much of a problem. So, that was the plan.

Last night I got to bed later than I wanted, but I still wanted to try it this morning. I was up every hour on the hour: my body knew something was coming, and probably wasn't really excited and wanted to stretch out the non-pain as long as it could. Well, 4:30 eventually rolled around, so I got up and got ready to go.

Remembering the info the great guys from OK Runner gave me on the first marathon, I knew that after an hour and a half of running, my body would start burning up my quads first, and then move to my brain, if I didn't get some sort of supplement in my system. I learned that first hand at my first OKC marathon, and couldn't walk for a week after :)

Anyway, last night we went to Wal Mart and got some power gel (nasty stuff, but it gets the job done). I shoved on packet in my shorts, and held the other one with my two bottles of water I took from the fridge. I planted the stuff near the entrance to our neighborhood, so when I looped around after my first ten miles, I could refuel with that stuff.

The run wasn't all that bad, but I did remember what it's like after you hit around 17 or so miles when you're running. I wish I could explain it with more detail, but things start getting... weird. I felt a little numb, and my mind would wander easily, and far. At some points I found myself edging closer to the middle of the road, not knowing how I got there... not a problem in a marathon when everything's closed off, slightly more of an issue on Robinson at 7:30AM on a Saturday Morning...

Anyway, the only other side affects of a long run like this for me are the extreme fatigue I have for the rest of the day, and the spots all over my body that have rubbed raw from my clothes... That's not too much fun either :) Anyway, all in all a good run, I'm excited for the marathon!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No time, but before I forget

I've got some good stories I have to write about over the past several days/weeks/whatevers... I'm just going to write the ideas here, so I won't forget to write about them later:

Emily's new school friend

Games we play

The Yellow Park experience (with Emily and Benjamin - and the "multitasking" comment by a mom on the way)

The Doctor visit (for both Emily and Benjamin)

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Andy Alligators

Yesterday we went to Ryan's Birthday Party at Andy Alligators, and Emily had a ton of fun! She bowled, played golf, rode the go-carts, and even rock climbed! Granted, the rock climbing only lasted about ten seconds before she started screaming, but the fact that she tried it was great! I've got some random pictures below, but also those from the party yesterday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Routine(s)

Emily and I have gotten into quite a routine when it comes to brushing our teeth in the mornings and evenings before bed. I know it won't be long before this routine becomes "uncool," so preserving what I can of the memories, I thought I'd jot them down here.. Her favorite part about this routine is that we both do everything exactly the same.

I get her toothpaste on her brush, fill her cup with water, then do the same with mine. She starts the light on her brush (the one that blinks for about two minutes to make sure you brush enough) and we both start brushing. She waits for me to spit so she can spit into her sink at the same time as we brush, and whenever I move to a new spot in my mouth, she moves to the same in hers. As soon as the light goes off, we both wash our brushes under the water, then tap (together) on the side of the sink 5 to ten times (depends on her). Some of the times Emily will say, "let me hear yours daddy!" so I tap my brush on the sink by myself. One time I did this she informed me it sounded like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. There are other times that she asks me to stop so she can listen to the sound her brush makes while she taps.

When we're done tapping, we both put our brushes into their respective holders, then we both grab our cups and swish/spit, then pour the cups out at the same time. We then put our cups down together, turn off our water together, then reach for our towels and dry our mouths off. After as much practice as we've had, we should take the show on the road :)

After going to the yellow park yesterday, and Emily riding her bike for the first time in a while, it made me realize something about her bike riding. For the longest time everything was fine, but then suddenly her bike started "wobbling" (according to her), and it was pretty much the end of riding the bike. I remember getting pretty frustrated with her at times over this wobbling nonsense, but after a couple of tries, she would have nothing to do with it. In fact, she would have rather get on her old three-wheeler than ride her new bike. So, yesterday was our first venture out in a while on the bike, and it went great.

One of the things she did while on this bike ride that she did before (which frustrated me to no end.. my patience runnethed over) was to constantly ask me to hold her handlebars while she rode it. I'd try for a while, then have to stretch out my back for a second as I'd been hunched over for a while, and would get a little tired of her running over my feet because I was so close to her while I did. As soon as I'd life my hands off the bike, she'd slam on the breaks and say, "can you hold it daddy?" UGH.

Well, what I realized yesterday as we were riding is that this is EXACTLY what she did while we would swim this summer. She'd need that constant assurance that I was right there holding on to her for her to feel comfortable. Funny how this only took me three months to figure out, but at least I got there. Anyway, knowing how the summer turned out with swimming (by herself, jumping off of the diving board or side of pool, even trying to swim a little without her floaties), it made me feel very optimistic about the bike riding. Sure enough, as we'd ride along, I would make sure she knew I was holding on, so instead of her asking me, I would let her know every couple of seconds, "I'm right here holding the bike, I won't let you fall," and just a few blocks down the road, she was asking me to let go so she could ride on her own. So, let's see which worked out better:

1. We would ride, and I would tell her she needed to ride by herself. She would constantly slam on her breaks, beg me to hold the bike, which I would for a little while, but then let go and the cycle would begin again. Ultimately, one of us (usually me.. well, at least on the inside.) would end up whining about it, and crying, frustration levels would go through the roof, and the experience as a whole was a big pile of poo.

2. We rode, I told her I'd hold on the whole time, she quickly asked me to let go so she could ride on her own, both of us enjoyed the whole trip, and she was very proud of herself at the end.

Funny how that all worked out, and guess who was the one getting in the way the whole time before? Yes yes, I know you saw that a while ago, again, it only took me three months. It probably helped a little that the back tire was a little flat and didn't wobble either :)

So, I keep trying to remind myself of perspective when looking at routines that aren't working out so well. It seems that every time things aren't going to plan, it's usually because I'm approaching it from the wrong angle. At least she's the forgiving type, gets that from her mother :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who knew?

Leslie has been getting some old baby clothes ready for a garage sale this weekend (over at Ann's house... Thanks Ann!). I figured we'd get maybe $20 or so out of it, which to me, really isn't worth all the work she's already put into it. She only got about a quarter of the clothes marked up and ready to be sold, but we figured it was better than nothing..

At 8:20 this morning, just as I was finishing my run, Leslie called and told me that since the garage sale had begun (at 8:00AM) we had already sold $50 worth of stuff! You can guess what I did at that point - picked up my pace just a wee bit, got home and started trying to convince Leslie to sell anything and everything we could get our hands on! So, she's gathering up as much clothes as she can while I get ready to head off for work (on a Saturday.. I'm thrilled :) and we'll see what comes of all of that!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Roar From the Core

Well, I've been working late or schooling late, so I haven't had much of a chance to hang out with the family lately, so there's really not too much to say tonight. Papa Vinny has been taking Emily out to the park (with Chippa), and to eat (Long John Silvers), so she's been having lots of fun with him and Chippa lately. However, I just experienced something that was too good to not mention here...

Not ten minutes ago, in the living room, we were sitting watching The Office. Leslie has been trying to organize all of Emily's old clothes for a garage sale on Saturday, so there's tons of clothes everywhere. I had finished with class, and had just come home from mom's (she just got a new iPhone, and we've been having some 'issues' with it [I bricked it last night... let me tell you how much fun THAT was, all is well tonight though] so I went over to make sure everything was okay) and I was eating dinner on the couch. Benjamin and Emily had been in bed for some time. Now that the scene is set...

As I was sitting there watching The Office, a "strange disturbance in the force" began to erupt from Leslie a few feet from me. Since I can't remember if I've mentioned this or not, before I continue this story, let me back up to one of the FIRST times I ever spent time with Leslie ------

It was in her dorm room at ECU a long time ago, in what seemed like a galaxy far, far, FAR, away... Mayberry, what I have always called it. I never understood how people could just walk down the middle of main street in front of cars, stop squarely in the middle of the road, and chat it up, while traffic just stopped and waited. This seemed the norm, nobody had any issues with it, and it drove me absolutely bonkers.. I felt like I was waiting for cattle to cross the street. "Hay thayre Bob, howe's work been treetin ya?" and such...

Anyway, Ada, lovely town that it is, was home of ECU. Her dorm room differed DRASTICALLY from my experiences with OU as well. As I walked in the dorm room, the "security [boy]" stopped me and asked me no less than twice the number of detailed examining questions of the Spanish Inquisition. After we were done with my life story, he then asked me (EACH TIME I WAS THERE... SAME KID... EVERY TIME... SAME QUESTIONS.. EVERY TIME..) for usually sixteen different forms of identification, and then usually held six or ten of them for ransom. I would then pass through about four stages of inner security doors before reaching the rooms.

Anyway, there we were in Leslie's dorm room, eating pizza and drinking cokes or whatever. I would like to think she was as nervous as I was on those first few encounters, but nonetheless, she was the first to break the "belching" ice. Just like a few moments ago, the rumble began deep in the pits of her soul, creeping slowly upward, generating more and more resonance as it reached her throat, then finally escaping through her mouth in a sound I can only relate to a Harley with a little bit of water stuck in it. About thirty seconds later, when she had finally ended her sonata belcho, she smiled pleasantly at me, and continued to eat her pizza. I was astounded for many reasons, some of them being:

- She belched in front of me before I did in front of her
- The volume rivaled any I had ever "mustered" up
- She was a girl... and was burping..

Anyway, the best part of this particular story was after she was finished, a faint sound from about six floors away echoed through the halls, "Good one Leslie!"

... Not only did they hear that.. They knew who it was.

Back to this evening... She let one go, and now, after 8 years of this, I've grown quite accustomed to it. In fact, I don't think it really even registered that she had done it, even though my drink had vibrated off the coffee table and spilled all over the floor. The best part of THIS story was what echoed from deep inside the back bedroom (echoing through the monitor from our room):

"Excuse you mommy!"

... Not only did she hear that.. She knew who it was.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Yellow Park Returns!

It seems like it's been forever since we've been to the yellow park, so today Emily, Benjamin and I walked over to play for a while. Since the summer mostly consisted of

1. Wake up
2. Eat/Brush Teeth/Get dressed
3. Go to swim
4. Eat
5. Swim some more
6. Eat
7. Go to bed

We got in the rhythm, and hardly ever made it out to the park. Of course, it feeling like we were walking on the surface of the sun most days didn't help any either...

So anyway, Leslie was working up at school, so I walked over to the park with both of them. One thing I noticed as soon as we started walking was that Emily could keep up much better than she could during the Spring. It was nice to have her walking with me over there, and not minding too much the tall grass as we went (she used to spin into OCD fits when we did this before... Apparently play time at school seems to be helping in that area). Benjamin was just bee-boppin along with me as well, bouncing to my "Liesenfeld-Mission" walking style (the 'Mission' because I'm always [apparently] walking "with a purpose." If I could have my way, we'd have transporters [yes Star Trek, yes I'm a nerd, yes all the rest of the thoughts that go with it...] so we would never have to walk anywhere, I mean, what a waste of time :) --- of course, it was nice time with Emily... uh oh, paradigm shift coming, abort ---

Anyway, we get just about there, and Benjamin unleashes his "formula-flow" all over my shirt. This wasn't the average chew-it-back spit up he has most of the time, this was one of those gush-down-the-shirt-and-over-everything-because-I-of-course-forgot-any-towels-or-spit-up-rags spit ups. Oh well, nothing new there. We got there and Gavin was playing, so he and Emily ran around and played for a while and I held Benjamin. Gavin's parents were there, and his mother held Benjamin for a while, and asked me, "is he always this chill?"

"Yes, this is not my child." --My standard response when anybody asks if Benjamin is always this calm-- "Emily, now that's my kid: OCD, high maintenance, girly, you know... ME. But Benjamin, I don't know who's kid this is."

And she responded (like EVERYBODY else does, without hesitation) "You mean, he's like Leslie." Yes yes, I get it. I'm a little... high strung.

Anyway, we played for a while more, then Leslie showed up with food, so it was time to walk home. Now Emily wanted to be held (I guess that walking with me was nice while it lasted) so we did the double-hold half way back to the house before I started complaining of my old age and let her down to walk the rest of the way home. The best part was when she got home and said to Leslie and I, "I think I got a little toe jam at the park," and took off her shoes. As she did so, about sixty pounds of dirt, wood chips, grass, flowers, weeds, and I think a little dog food came flying out with them... That was some toe jam :)

After dinner Emily had a quick bath, then we read four books tonight. At school she's keeping a log, and so far she's read 75 books since the beginning of school! We turn the log in each Wednesday (which needs to be full) so at times we have to play a little catch up to get there. Last Tuesday night we speed read ten books. Emily loved it. I felt like this guy:

Leslie wasn't too impressed, but I sure was. Emily just giggled through the whole thing, which made it even more fun.

Anyway, four books done, Leslie had put Benjamin to sleep, and Emily got in bed. Her nightly ritual has changed somewhat... We still do the hugs, kisses, laughs, singing, praying, all that good stuff, but now as soon as I get ready to leave Emily asks me, "Are you going to watch a little tv tonight?"

My answer always depends on what I'm doing, so sometimes she'll probe a little further and say, "Are you going to work on the compuder for a little bit?"

Which ever way she goes, all she's trying to determine is where I will be in the next thirty seconds to a minute, because as soon as I shut her door, make it to wherever I'm going and settle in, there she is right behind me. One quick hug and a smile, and off she goes to put herself back to bed. She runs back, turns off her light, shuts her door, and plops back in bed.

Man I'll tell ya, sometimes I sit here and stare at the blank blog window for an hour before I come up with something like, "lots of fun stuff today," and sometimes I can just ramble on forever... I'm pretty impressed with myself this evening.

And just because I can't get enough, I hope you've seen the latest installment of the Gates/Seinfeld commercial:

Let me just say that I guess I'm in the minority when I say... I LOOOOOVE these commercials. I mean, LOOOOOOOVE them. I agree with some of the deconstructionist views out there on these, and I especially love the comparison between the grandmother and Steve Jobs: The old grouchy one who's been there for 12 years (Jobs has been back with Apple for 12 years). There are so many easter eggs sprinkled in these ads that it only makes sense that Microsoft is going for the top down approach on this one. It seems that EVERYBODY takes shots at Microsoft whenever they can, especially on Vista. If these commercials appeal to the super-nerds out there, the loudest ones when it comes to berating Microsoft, and they start seeing the softer, squishy side of Bill, maybe it'll start turning around the opinions of the people that they talk to, and so on. If nothing else, a LOT of people sure are talking about Microsoft now :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A frightening moment

Yesterday I got up early so I could mow before the rain came in. After I was finished we got our family pictures done, and were heading home when it began sprinkling. We grabbed something quick to eat, and I left Leslie, Emily, and Benjamin at the house while I took the truck with all the equipment back over to my mom's to try to keep it as dry as I could...

I was trying to call mom, but instead I pushed the "home" contact on my phone, which gave me Leslie. Funny thing how stuff like that works out the way it does, because when I heard it was her, and I immediately knew I had called the wrong place, I could tell something was up. She told me Emily had just choked. I could tell by the way she was talking this wasn't our normal, run-of-the-mill (as if there is one) choking.. Apparently Leslie ended up having to grab Emily and try to force it out of her throat. Everybody ended up just fine, but those moments, no, those seconds, are the seconds we spend every other waking second worrying about.

Pictures were great. We ended up spending a ton of money because we need some family pictures (even though I felt like Ralphie in the Bunny suit from the Christmas Story), and we loved some of the shots that they took. They should come in about 3 weeks, so I'll post them here when the come.

Emily's been LOVING pre-k. Papa Vinny and her have a great time coming home together every day, and she talks about her classmates often. Apparently learning names isn't a big deal to 4 year olds, because her descriptions always include something like, "the boy with the green shirt" or "the girl with the pink skirt" when describing the kids she was playing with for the day.

One embarrassing moment happened when we discovered an umbrella in her backpack when we got home. Doesn't sound strange just by that description, unfortunately Emily doesn't own an umbrella. Turned out that she claimed to have gotten it from another girl in her class who let her "borrow" it. I was skeptical, so I probed a little more, and learned that the girl's mother just happened to be a teacher at Alcott... That was a lovely phone message I left:

beeeeep - "Hi, this is Pete from Alcott.. and, well, uh.. so... apparently we have your umbrella here at our house. Emily claims that she borrowed it from your daughter, and we're really hoping that's the case, and she's not just a clepto in training, but if she is, I really apologize and we'll get it back to you tomorrow." Good times on that one..

Anyway, turned out that the stories lined up pretty well, and all worked out.

Even in these past few weeks I've been watching Emily grasp more and more concepts. I've also noticed something we've always known to be true: she listens to EVERYTHING, even when we don't think she's listening. My favorite parts lately have been when Leslie and I have been talking about something that we wouldn't necessarily want to talk to Emily about, but think we're talking in too "adult speak" for her to understand, she invariably pipes up, "what are you talking about?" We consistently try to brush it off, but she is relentless on determining what the discussion is all about. So, we end up talking to her about it, which isn't a bad thing at all, just... interesting how much she's growing up so fast :)

Benjamin has been jammin (get it?) along well. He's trying to sit up now, which is fun to see. I think we're finally getting out of the [my opinion only] boring phase, and moving into the more fun stages (sitting, crawling, eating strange objects, playing with electrical outlets, finding all sorts of medications improperly sealed, etc).

I'll try to post a little more often than I am now... The whole point of this is to see a running "diary" to look back upon later in their lives, but funny thing about kids.. they leave little time for much else :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The week in pictures

Here's a bunch of pictures/videos we've taken over the past week or so.  Wish I had more time to describe all that's happened, but pictures are better than nothin'!  Enjoy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Picking out new shoes...

Emily had to take a moment to clean out all of her "toe jam" before picking out some new shoes that Papa Vinny got her...

Posted by ShoZu

Testing text

Seeing if I can update the blog from the phone without posting a photo with shozu.

Posted by ShoZu

Testing again

Seeing if this posts to both blogger and facebook...

Posted by ShoZu

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a week!

I feel better knowing that I'm not the only one neglecting to post anything this first hectic week of school... Everywhere I go, same 'ole blog posts.  I've found myself saying, "sheesh, when are they going to post anything new?"  And then I remember I haven't either :)

So, let's see if I can recap most of this past week...  I've noticed my memory failing me quite a bit, so I'm sure to leave out plenty.

Benjamin's news:
We're beginning to see a little neck somewhere in there as he approaches 3 months old.  I've been telling everybody this can't be my son: he's calm, never cries, and sleeps 8 hours a night.  Well, apparently I should have kept my mouth shut.. This past week he's been getting up 2 to 3 times a night.  Leslie realized that it's probably because he wakes up, doesn't know how to suck his thumb or calm himself, doesn't have his pacifier in his mouth, so he starts crying.  With Emily, we'd let her cry for about 15 minutes or so until she calmed herself down, but the problem with Benjamin doing that is then Emily will wake up in the next room.  Last night she let him cry for about 5 minutes at a time before going in there to try to calm him down.  Oh, and he can cry now... wow can he cry :)

Emily's news:
Her first week of school seemed to go well.  Apparently there is another little girl who is obsessed (even more than Emily, which is remarkable) with Disney Princesses, so for the first few mornings she would try to hold Emily's backpack after she had put it up on the hook.  Apparently Emily didn't appreciate this too much, so when the kids would start moving to centers, Emily would place herself squarely in front of her backpack, guarding it while the other kids played.  The very creative teacher decided that it may be better for Emily to put her backpack up on top of the cubbies instead of the hooks, which seemed to do the trick.  I remember her saying to us each day when we'd ask her about school, "well, some girls aren't nice in there, they try to take all the backpacks..." OCD anybody?  That's my girl :)

Two nights ago dad was watching Emily and Benjamin while Leslie and I got something to eat.  When we got home, Emily was complaining about her stomach, neck, and she felt like she had a fever.  We loaded everybody up, and headed out to the Urgent Care, much to the dislike of Emily.  If I would have thought about it more than three minutes before loading everybody up, I would have remembered those were the exact symptoms I had the night before school started, and it lasted about 24 hours...

She didn't enjoy the visit at all.  So little, in fact, that when they looked in her mouth, and swabbed it for a throat culture, she spit up a little (TMI?) Anyway, we got a z-pack (didn't know they did that for kids..) and the next morning she was doing fine.

Leslie and I have been busy trying to keep up with school, home, and the kids.  It's always an adjustment period when school starts, and we spend as much time as possible sleeping :) 

I started my Quant I class this week, and wow was that interesting.  All of my classes for my Masters had no more than about 11 people in the class.  This class had about 40 on the first day, and ALL were there pursuing their doctorate.  My favorite moment of the first class was about an hour in when I looked up from trying to take as many notes as I could, and seeing everybody else with very content looks on their faces and nodding affirmatively... I was wondering if the instructor was even speaking English... It wasn't a great start, hopefully it will get better...

This morning was race day for the Nike+ Human Race .  I got out and did my 10k in 49 minutes.. Not bad for sub-8 minute pace!  Now I just need to get that pace down to about 7 minute pace for 26 miles... That'll be the day :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fly me to the.. well, not the moon.

So, I forgot to tell the story of Emily and I going to the movies last weekend, so I thought I'd recap here. I had been waiting for Fly Me To The Moon to come out for some time, because I thought Journey looked so cool, but not quite Emily's speed... So, I got tickets to the Moore theater, and we headed up.

We got our goodies, and headed for the grand auditorium.  She was amazed at how big everything was, but more excited about how she could sit in the seat by herself without it folding up on her:
So, right before the movie began, I told her we needed to use our new glasses to watch this movie.  I expected a little fight, so that was okay.  By the time the movie began, she would at least hold the glasses close to her head to watch through them which was at least a small step in the right direction.  Then the first 3D jump out and grab you scene happened, and there went the glasses, flying through the air toward the head in front of us.  My ninja-like-reflexes allowed me to grab them before doing any damage, but the real damage had already been done.. I tried to hand them back to her, and she replied (very politely, I must say) "no thanks, I like the movie like this."  Well, without the glasses, it's like watching the screen through six different bottles stacked one in front of the other...

I let her go for a while, and I knew she was tolerating the movie just to keep from putting the glasses back on, so I tried a little more, she put them on once or twice more, but kept saying, "I can see daddy! I like the movie like this!"  So then I asked her, "Emily, would you just rather go home?"

"Yes please."

So there we went.  We had ben there about 45 minutes already (half the movie was over... and.. it wasn't worth watching even with the glasses.. SNOOZER if you ask me), but I thought might as well take my chances with the ticket counter, so I walked over, explained that Emily really didn't go for the 3D thing, and they immediately refunded all my money.  I LOVE THIS THEATER!

I didn't add the pictures of Emily's "Back" to School night, so here's a picture of her in her classroom (eating her treat after the scavenger hunt).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's worth watching...

If nothing else, just for the clapper. Awesome video if you haven't seen it.

Emily's first day of school!

Well, it finally came... Emily's first day at McKinley. Two days before she was showing off all of her new stuff (mostly because Kaitlyn was showing hers, so she needed to do the same.. see video below), and she was very excited to go to "mommy's school." We had figured that with this much hype, there was sure to be a breakdown when she got there, but no such thing! I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but the night before the first day of school, I spent most of the night sleeping with my head on the toilet... Whatever sickness it was hit me at about 1:30 in the morning, and the only comfortable place I could find was with my feet propped up against the wall in the bathroom, head on the toilet (outside cover at least :) crouched as tight as I could to keep the pain as far away as I could.

That morning I was still miserable, but determined to make it to school. Leslie asked me why I was even going in, I responded, "Yeah, so I'll be the guy to not be there the last day of school (when Benjamin was born), AND the first day of school?"

"Yeah, you better go," was her response :)

Anyway, I crouched and crawled my way through the morning, but was bound and determined to get our first day pictures taken, so we got some quick before I slunked (the only word I could think of to describe what I did to get into the car, and the rest of the day for that matter) into the car and off to work. Emily had a wonderful time at school, until the last few minutes when she saw my dad and Emily waiting at the end of her school day. The same thing happened to her when she was in line at bible school and saw us: she immediately dropped ranks and sprinted for us. We tried to get her back in line then unsuccessfully, but this time Leslie managed to drag her back to her class. When the teacher was done with her, she came back out still crying, but quickly got over it on her way home.

The second day sounded about the same as today, but she had a little breakdown during recess when she saw Leslie and couldn't stay outside with her and Kaitlyn. Apparently, no tears back in the classroom afterward, so good news there.

All in all a great start to a year at McKinley for Emily! I still can't believe she's old enough for it! She was talking this afternoon about Benjamin doing cartwheels like her some day, and I said, "when he's 4, you'll be 8!" After I said it, it took a while to sink in... years really do fly by...

So, I regained consciousness this morning at about 1:30 (almost 24 hours to the minute from whence it came)... I guess it helped that I went to bed around 5 last night, and felt fantastic, and what a great feeling that is.. Today was MUCH better than yesterday, I had a great time seeing all the teachers and kids, and can't wait for tomorrow!

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Back" to School Night with Emily!

I'll have to get the pictures up later, but tonight Emily went to her school for the first "official" time!

Leslie had to get ready early, so she dropped Emily and Benjamin off at Alcott, and we waited there until it was time to go (good thing too, I needed to get some work done!). When it was time, we rushed in the rain out into the car, and headed to McKinley.

When we walked in, Emily immediately ran to Leslie, as she was standing just outside her door. After a quick hug, Emily took me to her new classroom (she knew where it was, and I didn't... sheesh, I guess it starts already). Once in there, we were greeted by her teacher, and I got to work on some of the paperwork. After a few moments, we started our scavenger hunt and began looking around the room for various objects. Emily loved that part, as she went running from place to place, as if this was already a second home to her (we'll see about THAT on Wednesday.. hehehe), and even knew outside where the bathrooms were. One of our items was a toilet ("potty" if you ask Emily), and as soon as she saw it she went sprinting down the hall into the bathroom (probably should have reminded her to walk.. oh well) and yelled, "there's the potty!"

When we were done in her classroom, we went into Leslie's for a bit and chatted, and then headed out to go back to the car. On the way out, Emily had to say goodbye to every teacher as we left, and I saw McKinley for the first time as a dad, rather than a, well, whatever I am..

Every single teacher, without hesitation, immediately crouched down with their arms wide open, to which Emily ran into their arms hugging and laughing. They all took genuine interest in what she was saying, and made her feel instantly welcome. Now, as I watched this the first few times, I thought to myself, "sure.. well.. that's because it's Emily.. I mean, come on.. she is wonderful, and she knows you all.." but I couldn't have been more wrong. EVERY kid I saw was treated like that, whether the teacher knew him/her or not. So then, I started to wonder what it would be like if every teacher treated students that way, what would school look like? At some point it doesn't become "appropriate" to greet with hugs and laughs, in a welcoming manner, I just don't know when that happens. Here's a thought: what if every class you entered in throughout college your professors met you like that? Okay, that may be a little odd, but why not? At least, why not do your very best to make all the students feel welcome as they enter? When does it become okay to turn on the cold water?

Anyway, I sure did love seeing Emily being well taken care of, with lots of love (and chocolate chip cookies!). I can't wait to see her go to school on Wednesday, even though I know our golden rule will apply: anything we talk about more than twice with Emily, when it comes time to do whatever that is, melt down will occur. No question. Let's just hope we get through that quickly on Wednesday :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I told myself no more...

But I just can't let this one slip away and NOT post it. If anybody sees this on the shelves at the local store, let me know...

Friday, August 15, 2008

How about this? Anybody?

Oh the memories..

For Kate

This one's for Kate because I was never a huge fan.. I don't know if it was because I just didn't like fraggles too much, or more because back when I remember it, it was on HBO. During that time of my childhood, HBO was the forbidden fruit that only during brief moments of mighty courage would I attempt to flip the channel changer (the one still tethered to the television, with the line of numbers that you could zip the plastic handle back and forth on... I would spend hours zipping that little plastic thing back and forth... zip zip zip zip zip zip, that's how WE had fun in those days you little whipper snappers!) over to.

I always knew that when I was watching HBO, two things would happen:
1. Something horrible would be showing (violence, language, nudity, whatever) and
2. My parents would walk in.

With that in mind, I was convinced that Fraggle Rock had one or more of those horrible things on, and therefore could only be watched in snippets of 4 or 5 milliseconds at a time. So, I'm guessing that was the main reason I never really got into Fraggle Rock. I did, however, love this one:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Because last night's was so fun...

How about this one?  (One of my favorites...)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Who remembers?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It gets official tomorrow!

After a short summer, the new school year is here again!  Just a few short days before the students are back, and I know both Leslie and I are excited to get the year started!

Now that we're getting back into the school schedule, I've been taking my usual route to school the past few mornings, and realized another part of the school year that I've missed this summer... Right in front of the court house each morning, a guard (I'm assuming sherrif, or deputy) helps people across the street who have parked in the lot.  From what I've been able to tell in the two years I've been taking this route, the guards are on a 30 day or so rotation, as there seems to be a new person each month.  It seems to be a pretty uneventful job, but there they are, every morning (starting at about 7:30), rain or shine, cold or hot.

Through all the mornings that I've driven that route, I've come to know my favorite guard, although I don't know his name.  He's one of the few who waves back at me when I wave at him, and he does it more consistently than any other.  As my little red geo approaches, I'm always on the phone with Ryan, I always look over, wave, and he always waves back.  Nothing like creatures of habit, establishing our routines... it makes more and more sense why people resist change; it has almost become such a natural part of my morning, that when it doesn't happen, things seem "off" and up until recently, I haven't really noticed why.

For those of you still awake reading this (I know, a snoozer this evening, but I've managed to get my laptop from school working both at home and at school, so now I can sit in bed, watch my programs, and blog at the same time.. life is gooooood :), there is actually a point to all of this... And it fits neatly inside the "different" scenerio of my morning routine...

I was driving to work one day last week, and there was my favorite guy, waiting on the side of the road for people to cross.  I was approaching, per normal, getting ready to wave.  He began escorting somebody across the street, and the SUV in front of me slowed to a halt in front of the two of them.  The officer stood in the middle of the road as the woman crossed.  On any other morning, he would have walked back to the side of the road, the car in front of me would have driven off, I would have passed waving, he would have smiled and waved back... But not this morning...

When the woman was about a third of the way across the road, the SUV began inching forward.  I thought nothing of it, and continued to think nothing of it when I saw the officer smiling at the driver, but instead of moving back to the side of the road, the officer was moving toward the driver side window.  "He must know this guy," I thought to myself... but only for a second did I continue that thought.  Here's where my morning got interesting.. As I watched the officer, his gate changed, as well as his facial expression.  He was still smiling, but something was very different about his demeanor.  This must be something they train officers during the academy, because it's only officers that I see be able to do this so well... Anyway, he began speaking to the driver (I could hear him through my closed windows).  I'm assuming it had something to do with the "creeping" forward as the woman was crossing the street.  After a few words, he turned and began walking back to the side of the road.

This must have been where the driver thought to himself... "Yeah, I should probably just keep driving, but, it sure would be fun to see what happens if I say something back to this guy," and so he did.  The officer whipped around, walked RAPIDLY back to the car, and had another "discussion" with the guy.  In this part of the conversation, the officer motioned to the jail on the opposite side of the street, and I could only imagine how that entered into this conversation.  It was over as quickly as it started, and there went the SUV.  I found myself a little tentative to accelerate... 

He looked over at me, and we made eye contact.  There he was again, that guy I had come to know so well over the past two years, smile and all.  The only difference this time was that he wasn't waving back at me, he was just waving for me to go ahead and go.  As I drove past, I rolled down my window, and for the first time in two years, spoke to the officer... for some reason it sounded a lot cooler in my head than what it sounded like when it came out my mouth:

"You gotta gettem... "  Huh, what did that even mean?

"Oh yeah," he replied.  I guess he understood, or at least was kind enough to play along.

The point of this story eludes me at the moment, but if nothing else, it's interesting to see the little deviations in our "normal" lives as we go through each day.  It's the little jewels of chaos that make it so much fun :)

In other news, I had a wonderful evening with Emily tonight... we swam, got home, brushed teeth, bounced on the bed, read a book, prayed, hugged, kissed, loved, and snuck out of bed, all how I love it.  It's those moments of "normal" life that I love, much more than the little jewels of chaos.