Monday, March 30, 2009

The Dreaded Weekend Report

Yes, that's right, blame it Paul. He inspired me.

- William's first haircut. He wailed, but survived.
- The cheapest trip to Costco EVER. Try to beat $1.35. I dare you.
- I did the thing-that-shall-not-be-named (aka work) at home.

- Elizabeth, William, Yvonne, and I went outside to play.
- Flew the kite to the end of the string (and only crashed like Charlie Brown a few times).
- Yvonne pulled some weeds around the well.
- Elizabeth road her bike a little while William tried to pedal the tricycle.
- Visited friends who just had their third child (their second daughter). It's easy to forget how small they are.
- Stopped at the library to check out three books.
- Stopped at Poncho Villa (local Mexican restaurant) for take-out dinner.

- Yvonne is off today so I got up early and hit the Y. Ran a mile without killing myself (or my legs).
- Got donuts on the way home to make-up for my run.
- Yvonne and kids are now off to town to shop and play.

There you have it. My weekend in a nutshell.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

William's First Haircut

I think the title pretty much sums it up for you.



Go here for the rest of the photos.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

In the hopes that my mother will forgive her loving (and only) son for not sending her a birthday card, I'm writing down a few memories I have of her over the years.

The Deer At The Cemetery
I don't recall exactly what year it was, but I remember my mother and I (and I think my step-father too) visiting the cemetery her father was buried in in the Chicago area. I'm sure we were visiting his sisters and brothers and my cousins for some reason, but the trip to the cemetery was, well, creepy. You see, I've never been fond of cemeteries. In fact for the longest time I would hold my breath when we drove by them for fear the dead would steal my soul (one of those foolish beliefs I picked up from a cousin, I'm sure). While visiting the cemetery, we went and stood by the grave and said whatever it is we say to make ourselves feel better.

At some point during the visit, before or after the grave-visiting, we saw some deer. I thought this a little odd, since we were in a fairly suburban area and seeing deer in a cemetery just seemed odd. Well, the deer either took offense at us or our beliefs and charged me. That's right. It was straight out of a cartoon bull fight. Hooves pawed the ground. Breath was snorted through the nose. And the damned thing charged. Scared the heebeejeebees out of me. I must have gone to the bathroom before the trip because I didn't need to change my undies afterward. That's how scared I was. I mean, being around a bunch of dead people in the ground is bad enough, but to have a deer charge you on top of that just sent me over the edge.

My Mom Gets A Dog And Dates Jesus
When my stepfather died, my mom was distraught. So much so, I didn't know what to do. You hear about women that lose their children or husband and just wail in some un-earthly keening that can strike a man down into the depths of despair and beyond. While I don't remember my mother wailing like this out loud, I know she did inside. Bobby was never the nicest guy, to me or her, but they were still married. So when he died, it was hard. And it was harder since it was such a sudden death.

So when the final arrangements were done and everyone was back home and doing their best to get back into some sort of routine, my mother told me she got a dog. A dog? She must be crazy. Then she said she got a boyfriend. A boyfriend? She must be really crazy. And she's moving in with him? Wow. And he looks like Jesus? She went off the deep end. I just couldn't believe how fast they were moving into this relationship. Clearly it was fast enough for them, but it was way too fast for me.

Fast forward nearly ten years (has it been that long already?). Turns out my mom's boyfriend/fiance/partner/whatever you want to call him, is a nice guy. Granted, I've not spent a lot of time with him, but just seeing how he interacts with Elizabeth and my mom tells me he's better than just a nice guy. And yes, he looks a little like Jesus would with blond hair, but you know what, who cares? I still like him.

The "D" Word
Growing up as a kid, my parents were always divorced. To many people, that was a label they applied to myself and my parents. And it often wasn't a nice label. Even when my remarried, the stigma was still there sometimes, rearing it's ugly head. But for me, it was no big deal. When my friends in school had parents going through a divorce, I couldn't see what the big deal was. After all, my parents were fine, theirs would be too.

Turns out, that's not always the case. As I got older, I learned more from these friends that their parents wouldn't talk. Some would go to the agreed upon meeting spot and get out of mom's car and into dad's car, the parents not exchanging a word the whole time. For me, it was the opposite. My mom and dad would talk. They'd call each other. They'd talk to me. They'd even eat a lunch together if they were swapping me from house to house. So traveling to see my mom in the summers or on school breaks wasn't that big of a deal. It was hard to adjust from one house to another, but I got used to it. Besides, my parents were grown-up enough to be adults about the whole thing, why shouldn't I be? I could go on and on with countless stories about traveling back and forth between my parents, but I'll just give you a few highlights.

Highlights Of Visiting Mom
- When I was about five, I started flying back and forth from east coast to west coast to see my mom for the summer. I flew alone and would get to tour the cockpit, get a free deck of cards, get pilots' wings, and always had a flight attendant take care of me. Mom lived in a trailer in Salinas and I remember taking her picture with my Polaroid camera by the trailer-park pool. For some reason my picture was crooked. I still have it.
- When I was in 3rd grade, I spent the school year with mom in Bellevue, Washington. We lived in a trailer park and I got into trouble a lot. This was the first (and only) year I walked to school. My grandparents came to be with me when she moved, but I don't remember that. I just remember living in that tiny trailer where the rain made so much noise on the little vent in the roof I could barely sleep.
- My moved lived in Salt Lake City once and I remember the apartments they had their. Vaguely. I remember the cat that had kittens under the house or trailer or something and I had to stay away because it would get mean. And I would trim the grass next to the sidewalk with scissors in the front yard. I also got to see my Aunt Susie (my mom's sister) and her family. They lived next to a car dealer and had an orchard in their backyard. They had a weird house; it had a central vacuum!
- I remember my mom living in Madera, California. It was always hot as hell there. We lived in the fifth-wheel there. I had odd dreams there that I still remember to this day.
- I remember traveling with her across Nebraska and we stopped to meet my grandmother (my dad's mom) in a restaurant. I was scared of her (something I'm ashamed of to this day, I mean, what kind of kid is afraid of his own grandmother?).
- I can remember countless adventures with cousins, aunts, and uncles in the Chicago area. Most of the fun time we had was at Aunt Diana's house.
- In sixth grade I went to spend the school year with mom again, this time in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania. We lived in a house on ten acres and I learned a lot that year (and the summers before). Like turkeys make terrible pets because they are as dumb as the rocks they eat. Having the stray dog you took in as a pet shot in the woods by your step-father can emotionally scar you. When given the choice of moving a wood pile and getting paid or moving it later for free, choose to get paid. Pay attention when cutting the grass because you may run into something (I still have a hard time with this one). When stealing a Christmas tree from your neighbor, make sure you have a getaway car.
- Around the time I was in the eighth grade, my mom got sick. It was a hard time for me because I was trying to be the man of the house (which meant I was butting heads with my step-father) and my mom was in and out of the hospital with an illness I still have a hard time understanding.

Enough Already
I could go on and on and on about anyone in my family given the proper inspiration. But today belongs to my mother. Sometimes she was my mom, sometimes my mother, sometimes my mutha. I never had the chance to grow up with one of those "stay-at-home" moms and sometimes I'm sad I didn't. But I still had a mom as a kid and I still have one now as an adult. I'm hoping she'll stick around long enough to be a great-grandmother, just like Grandma Grace. Maybe she'd even wear those silly glasses.

And in case you forgot why I wrote this, Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still grouchy but done

Done with tubes.

Just a little grouchy

Getting ready for tubes in his ears.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New photos

I know, I know, it's been ages since I've posted photos of the kids. Well, here's a few of all of us (including our recent snow storm that left us with 14 inches of snow).

Monday, March 09, 2009

John Robbins 8k Race Results

Yes, yes, I'm excelling quite well at punishing myself. I honestly think I should start telling myself I make an effort to abuse myself everyday. By running. And to think of all those miles I ran as a kid that I hated it.

Anyway, this race actually has more story to it than my previous ones. I got up early (around 0530) because the night before I had a nightmare that I forgot to set the clocks forward an hour and was half an hour late to the race. Needless to say that I didn't sleep well the night before the race. I got there super early which put my mind at ease. I grabbed a horrid cup of coffee at the local Hardees and sipped it like it was mud. Even sugar and cream didn't help.

Once I was semi-awake enough to process where I was and what I was doing, I began to mentally prepare for the race, mapping it out in my head. And it was a doozy. I checked in, got my number, got my timing chip, and reviewed the map. Feeling I might get lost (5 miles is a long ways to run), I kept it in my pocket the whole time.

Anyway, I warmed up, stretched a little, and patiently awaited for the race to start. I ran into the father of the fellow high-school graduate again. We chatted for a bit until the race started. It was great to see the police escort, but they only escorted the race leaders, so I saw it for about 2 minutes before it was gone.

Mile 1 Split = 10:29
I did great for the first mile, but it ended going up a steep hill. And that's where I hit my first, small wall. I was keeping a great pace, but couldn't keep it.

Mile 2 Split = 12:35
After walking a bit to rest, I alternated between running and walking. People were still passing me and I lost sight of the people I wanted to stick with.

Mile 3 Split = 12:33
This was a very hard mile. As we neared the halfway point, there was a very, very long stretch of road. And the worst part was it looked like it went on forever. Once I turned the corner, then I new I was near the end and could see people ahead of me. I was closing on some of them. Another uphill section, but it was nice because a young girl (maybe 12 or 13) was running with her dad. He was trying to encourage her to keep running and to catch the old guy in front of them. As I passed them I said "don't let the old guy beat you" (meaning me and the older guy in front of both of us.

Mile 4 Split = 11:53
After the uphill, I knew I was close to the end. But I couldn't push myself much more than I was. Still alternating running and walking, I was feeling pretty old. And out of shape. And fat. Anyway, the young girl and her dad were passing me towards the end and mentioned she had the same shoes as I did and I should keep up with them. I did my best. And as they were just a little in front of me as the finish line was in sight, I began to sprint. So did she. And I beat her. Barely, but I did. Made me feel great. At the awards ceremony afterword though, she won second place for her age group. Me? Not so hot.

Mile 5 Split = 11:15

And here's the map in Google if you'd like to see it. I passed a DeLorean and a giraffe. Can you find them in the Street View?

Congratulations Neil you finished the John Robbins 8 km on March 8, 2009 with a time of 00:58:28. You placed 228 of 241 runners, 138 of 142 Male runners and 8 of 8 in the Men's 30-34 division. Your pace per mile was 11:46. You scored 726 Grand Prix points in this race. Weather on Race day was 62 degrees, mostly cloudy.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where you were meme

Stealing Jim C. Hines' post on looking back, I thought I'd take everyone on a little trip down memory lane.

1 year ago - I was struggling through Assassin's Apprentice and posting some Norwegian Family photos. How odd that I'm struggling through Royal Assassin and I still want to go to Norway. Yvonne had short hair, Elizabeth was still cute as a button, and William looked like a giant, hungry worm.

5 years ago - I was eagerly awaiting the birth of Elizabeth. Ha! I was scared out of my gourd. Totally not ready to be a dad or a father. We were living in King George, Virginia, Yvonne was a teacher, and I was working for Intuit.

10 years ago - I was eagerly awaiting the marriage to my then fiance, now wife. Ha! I was scared out of my gourd. Totally not ready to be married. We were between moving from Edinboro, Pennsylvania to Shelby, North Carolina. Yvonne was moving from being a grad student to being a teacher and I was moving from being a baker's assistant in a grocery store to working for Books-A-Million.

20 years ago - I was 12 and in middle school. Eighth grade I believe and I had huge hair. Don't believe me?

30 years ago - I was 2. And I have no idea what I was doing. Probably running around and terrorizing my parents.

40 years ago - I wasn't around yet.

Note: I meant to post this last week but must have missed it in the shuffle of things.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Great White South

Yes, we're alive, warm, and watered. So far we have power, although there were a few brown-outs and flickers last night. So far we've had 24 hours straight of snow (it just stopped). Total accumulation is around 14 inches (give or take 3 inches in the drift/non-drift areas). And while the local employers were closed, I still got to do you-know-what from home.

Here's what I get to look at right now.

Elizabeth did get to play outside for a bit (William is running another temp, likely another ear infection). Part of the driveway is shoveled (enough to see where NOT to drive). And we still don't have a paper.