Thursday, November 05, 2009

New photos for Halloween

I know, I've been a bad parent and haven't thrown around photos of my kids lately. Sorry. Maybe these will help make amends?

William as Thomas the Tank (or "Choo-Choo" as he says):

Elizabeth as Minnie Mouse:

And you can view the rest of the collection by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Television Is Brainwashing Me

Part of this post is inspired by my virtual slave-driver, Kelly (aka 1979 Semi-Finalist). The other part is inspired by FlashForward, the new TV series on ABC. You see, Hulu was kind enough to post the first 18 minutes of FlashForward. And based on that I bought the book. And another copy to give away. Even though I know the book and TV show differ. I'm sure I'm missing a show or two, but without further ado, here's what I plan on (or already am) watching.


Defying Gravity - Ron Livingston isn't the funny guy from Office Space anymore, but he's still a good actor. And the "5 years earlier" flashbacks help build the characters. The "uber-secret" payload is kind of lackluster right now, but it is nice to see the crew has finally seen it.


Jon & Kate Plus 8 - Yes, I watch this show and no I don't care what you think. I've watched the show for some time now and I like it.

Castle - An awesome idea with great chemistry. I've considered watching Bones to see if the chemistry is as good as it is here. This season had a bumpy start. The comedic timing felt a little off and there wasn't much of a "bridge" between seasons. Beyond that, I loved it.


NCIS - Another show I've watched for years. While Mark Harmon is okay as an actor, I actually enjoy the rest of the cast more. They make a good group.

NCIS: Los Angeles - I'll be trying this because of NCIS and will hope it is just as good.


Mythbusters - Somewhere out there is a new episode of this great show. Sometimes the show has a few too many explosions, but it is still education (who knew you only needed a few things to make a column of bubbles burst into flames).


CSI - I think I've watched this since it first started. I'm not sure how many twists and turns they have left to throw our way, but I still enjoy it.

FlashForward - One of the best advertised shows I've seen yet. And like I said before, I've bought the book and already started reading it despite knowing they differ widely.

Community - The first episode was good but since it conflicts with CSI, I'll probably catch it on Hulu. More on Hulu later.


Monk - I was late to the Monk party, but this show is very much about me. If I could stand to wear a suit and tie everyday, this show would indeed be about me. Instead, it's about someone very much like me.

Psych - More great chemistry, but this time between two straight guys. And another great idea that, so far, has been awesomely executed.


Cops - I watch it when I can and have stuck to that for years. Since my college background is in criminal justice, I've always been drawn to the show.

Everything Else

V - Another ABC show due to arrive soon. I'm hoping they don't mangle the old 80s show, but hey, it can't be worse, right?

LOST - If you've never seen LOST, then you'll be lost on why this is such an awesome show. The is the ONLY show I have entirely on BluRay. In fact, this show is the REASON I got BluRay.
Warehouse 13 - An okay series that's a bit campy. It's no biggie if I miss it, but Hulu let's me watch anything I've missed.

Wipeout - My wife turned me on to this show with big balls. And I like big balls, I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny, this show makes me laugh out loud every week.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien - Thanks to Hulu, I can watch this show. So far I haven't missed an episode since he took over and I've enjoyed most of them. I tend to skip the musical guest at the end, but I feel a little more "hip" now that I can hear all about TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER!!!!!

Stargate Universe - I'm kind of on the fence on this one. I lost interest in Stargate Atlantis, but was a die-hard Stargate SG-1 fan. I'm hoping it's good enough to keep me hooked.

Survivorman - Les Stroud is a great survivalist that actually teaches you something about surviving. And while I hope I never have to survive, I'd like to think I've learned enough from him to make it a day or two on my own.

Deadliest Catch - Another show that's not on right now but I enjoy. I love crab, love seafood, but rarely get to eat it. Watching how much people put on the line to catch the damn things makes me appreciate it that much more.

Woodwright's Shop - I know, sounds corny, but I've always enjoyed seeing how things were made "the old fashioned way."


Hulu has become my drug. I've watched several movies and TV shows on Hulu and love it. I've seen Buffy (seasons 1-3), Angel (season 1), tried to watch The Time Tunnel (didn't like it), and just saw a great classic movie, Gotcha! In the end, Hulu is my crutch. I can use it as a backup-DVR of sorts if any conflicts arise.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Zoo and School

We took a trip to the Metro Richmond Zoo with some friends to celebrate William's second birthday. Here are a few choice photos:

And Elizabeth and William played dress-up while I was gone one day:

And Elizabeth had her first day of school today:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

William Turns Two

Feel free to have a laugh at the photos in the link below.

William's 2nd Birthday

Here are a few choice photos:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Drinking and Driving

Most of us already know that they don't mix. But here's another reminder for those of you that are under the legal drinking age.

This could have been you:

(license plates blurred to protect the identity of those involved)

Sunday morning my sister-in-law was leaving for her return trip home after a short visit. Her life and those in the other car were nearly cut short by the poor choices of the teenagers involved. I don't know their names or much care. I'm sure they'll face enough punishment in the coming days and months that my adding spiteful words won't help them or their families. So I'll just hope they've learned their lesson and strive to do better going forward.

Instead I would like to heap immense praise on those public servants that responded to the accident. Within 2-4 minutes, the first County Sheriff's Officer arrived followed closely by a fire engine. Another Sheriff's Officer and State Trooper arrived shortly thereafter. Together, they not only helped those involved in the accident, but they also took the time to educate myself and my children in the work they do.

My biggest regret is not getting the names of all parties, but King George County Sheriff's Officer J. E. Davis, his counterpart in Car #12, the Virginia State Trooper, and those staffing King George County Fire Engine #11 were great. An extra special thanks to the firefighter who opened the doors and bays of the engine to show my two year-old son and five year-old daughter the tools they use. I never expected an accident to happen in front of my house let alone explain the basics of drinking and driving to a five year-old. But I now feel comfortable that if something were to happen to myself or my loved ones, we would be taken care of.

And again to those teenagers involved, I hope someday you realize how close you came to something worse than scrapes and bruises and never try to get away with anything like that again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Eddie's Energy Bars - Initial Impressions

I'm currently eating my third bar from Eddie's Energy and I figured it was a perfect time to give some initial impressions before I tackle a bigger, full-on review.

I read about Eddie's Energy Bars awhile back in a business magazine (Entrepreneur). The blurb said the company was growing and was one to look out for (in a good way). Having been on a granola bar kick for months, I figured I would check it out. And I did. And promptly forgot about them.

Fast forward a week or two and I decide to check them out again, this time paying close attention to the ingredients. While nearly half of the choices contain nuts, all of them have milk. And coming form a highly food-allergic family, I take labels seriously. My son is very allergic to milk and nuts, my daughter is slightly allergic to milk and very allergic to nus, and I am very allergic to nuts and poultry (and mildly allergic to various other foods).

Anyway, finding a granola bar without nuts is next to impossible. Go ahead and try it. I dare you to read the label the next time you go out grocery shopping. So when I saw Eddies had some bars that were nut-free, I figured I'd give it a try. So far I'm glad I did and here's why.

The Package
My biggest complaint so far is how difficult these are to open. Scissors or a knife are required to get at your bar quickly and easily.

The Flavors
So far I've had Chocolate Chip, Mint Double Chocolate Chip, and Cinnamon Raisin. The Chocolate Chip was okay when it came to taste. But that was without any refrigeration so the results may be skewed by the heat (I ate it right after it arrived in the mail). The Cinnamon Raisin was very good. A little too much cinnamon for my tastes, but not enough to make me choke on it. I could easily eat a bag of these. The Mint Double Chocolate Chip that I just finished was good, but not as minty as I expected. In fact, it was pretty well hidden beneath the chocolate flavor. But I like chocolate so that's fine with me.

The Texture
The texture is heavy. Not lite like a feather or heavy like a stone, but still pretty heavy. And it's dense. The bar is a standard size, but it feels like a lead bar when you pick it up. It's also a bit chewy and chunky. Certainly not a crunchy granola bar that could crack your teeth, but there's enough there to make you chew for a few minutes.

The Label
As I said, I take labels seriously. While I primarily read them for the ingredients, I also check them for calories. So far they're reasonable on the calorie count (for example, the Mint Double Chocolate Chip has 249 calories in the three ounce bar). I know it sounds high but consider you could eat one of these for breakfast and be full, it's a fair trade. They also go well as snacks in the afternoon.

The Oddities
This is where things get a bit weird. You see, the name of the product implies you can get energy from it and the main page says "We are on a mission to get you powered on natural energy!" (their emphasis, not mine). But with one bar, I didn't seem to have any extra energy. The other two, I have a weird buzzing feeling. Almost like a hum. In fact, I'm buzzing right now. I'm just not sure if that equates to energy or not yet. Seeing as I haven't tested the product in combination with physical activity, I feel it's a bit early to make conclusions.

The Company
This was another impressive part of the product. It tastes good and sits well, but the founder, Michael Adams, is not only available to talk to, he seems like a nice guy. I know, it sounds lame, but that first impression tends to stick with you like a tattoo sometimes. Fortunately, it was a positive impression. He sells his wares while going to college (his mom and dad make the bars at home) and yet, is very accessible to the general public. He's on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wordpress. And of course the main website.

I was a bit long in my "initial" impressions, but I'm hoping to do a longer review later. I've been slowly collecting peanut free granola bars for nearly a year now and these will fit perfectly into that post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Small Photo Update

Here's a small photo update with more recent pictures of William's cast, some video from vacation, and Elizabeth's unicorn, Lilly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Vacation was, well, it was a breakation. The first full day of vacation William broke his leg. And it rained nearly every day. But, in the spirit of staying positive (or at least trying), here are some good things that happened.

- Service and care was great at the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh (there was also another kid there that broke his arm trying to squish a spider - sad but funny).
- Elizabeth got a chance to go back to the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh and got to see bob the Builder (which is weird because she doesn't even watch his show).
- Elizabeth got to spend the night with my Mom and Steve (and got to see their cows).
- Elizabeth got to spend the week (still ongoing) with Yvonne's parents.
- I got to eat not one, but two Blizzards.
- I got to read.

Yes, other good stuff happened (like I ran a 5k race and survived) but, well, just look at the pictures. They're more entertaining anyway.

Click here to see them all.

Oh yeah, and today is our 9th wedding anniversary. Happy dorkiversary dear!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Box Turtle, Soap Box Race

More new photos, can you believe it? Wow, my mom will be so happy. And there's video too! Not the highest of quality, but hey, better than nothing, right?

Here's the link to the full album:

And, even though I'm not a big fan of turtle (they're creepy), here's my favorite photo from the batch:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photos from the wedding

Here be the link to the photos (with the messed up captions for some reason):

There are quite a few good ones in there, but here are my favorites:

My lovely wife

My cute daughter

My mischievous son

And my bald head

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today's Run

In a continuing effort to please those rabid fans out there, here's an account my run this morning.

First, the basics. I ran roughly 3.3 miles in a little over half an hour.

Second, the conditions. It was hot, hazy, and humid. Added to that was the horsefly menace. Overall, I did a decent job of hanging in there to run most of it, but obviously I'm not in shape enough to avoid walking. Most important to me (after making it the 3.3 miles) was that my lung capacity appears to be improving. Cool.

Finally, the exceptions. Construction appears to have begun on the new police station. Maybe it's the new animal shelter, I'm not sure. But they've cleared the trees, burned them, and are now grading the land. And I found a wallet of a young YMCA member in one of the dead ends. I won't say his name here because just a foot or two away was a used contraceptive. So, if you "lost your wallet" near the King George, VA YMCA, please find a new place to "lose your wallet" next time.

And that was my run. I turned in the wallet at the front desk (with no mention of what else I found), took my shower, and talked to the trainer about joining the woman's running club. No, I'm not a woman, but I would like to join a more local club. She said being a woman wasn't required and I wouldn't need to wear a grass hula skirt. But I might have to wear a pink shirt. Fine by me. I just want to run with a partner.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mini-Vacation A Success

This past weekend we took a mini-vacation away from home for my brother-in-law's wedding. His wife has been a part of the family long enough that we've been calling her "aunt" before she actually was one.

So Friday we travelled north to Bethlehem, PA. Along the way we got lost only a little bit. Thankfully the GPS unit we borrowed from my dad worked well enough to get us back on track. Just not well enough for us to want to buy that particular model. We stopped at my sister-in-law's condo and dropped the kids off. I'm not sure who was more excited to be there, the kids or the in-laws. From there we went to our hotel room and checked in, changed for the rehearsal, and went across the river to the church on Lehigh's campus.

From there we hopped a few streets over to the dinner then back to the hotel. Dinner was nice and the kids were very well behaved. Yvonne and I got a nice night alone while the kids stayed with the in-laws. Amazing how much better you feel after sleeping in until seven. After getting ready we had a nice breakfast with a great view then did some shopping. We went to the "oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world." I was hoping the Moravian Book Shop would have more books, but there were more crafts than books. Oh well.

Then there was the neat toy store, the Aardvark Sports Shop, and the Heavenly Hedgehog ice cream shop (where Yvonne drooled over the hedgehogs). Then we picked up the kids, everyone got dressed, then headed to the wedding. Elizabeth and William were both awesome and did a great job of not crying or making a lot of noise. Elizabeth was a flower girl and did a perfect job walking down the aisle and posing for pictures.

After the ceremony and pictures, we headed to the reception at the Hotel Bethlehem (where we were also staying). Dinner was nice, but I missed part of it while I was setting up William's play pen to sleep in (poor guy crashed hard - so did Elizabeth). So I missed getting cake but Yvonne scored a cigar for me. Elizabeth had a "sleep-over" with Yvonne's aunt that night which meant she got to play in the morning. I managed to sneak out for a short run before cleaning up and loading the car. Then we were once again on the road back home.

Overall it was nice to see family again and Yvonne and I are both glad we're not getting married again. All that stressful happiness can get to you. We were both impressed (and grateful) at how the kids behaved and continually reinforced that (with toys, hugs, kisses, etc.). Photos will be coming soon.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

From Ringing Ears to Shedding Tears

Well that was an eventful 24 hours I'd just as soon not repeat. Here's the situation....

A few days before a vacation, a storm decides to roll in. One of those big ones. One of those that will repeat itself tonight if the weather gods hate me. And what does foul weather spell for our house? Here's the checklist:

- Drooling, shaking dog that is so scared he throws up.
- Loss of satellite signal followed by loss of power.

Now that doesn't sound so bad by itself. But there were a few extra factors last night. Like, because I neglected to pull up the rugs in the bathroom, Henry throws up. Time to wash the rugs and clean the floors. And Elizabeth steps in the dog vomit. Time to clean her shoes and reprimand her for screaming bloody murder because she stepped in it because we thought she fell in the tub which was half full of water in the event of a black out. Might as well clean the bathroom while I'm at it. Might as well empty the tub since it looks like it won't rain anymore. Oh wait, there's more thunder coming. William goes to bed and was so scared he threw up. So we had to change him and the sheets. Yvonne snuggles with him in our bed while I watch a movie (Western Union) on the DVR (remember, no satellite signal).

And the storms roll on and on and on. The power goes out so we go to bed. This time though, I'm sleeping on the living room floor. Just not enough room for three people in our bed. Sometime during the night Elizabeth wakes up and joins them. Guess there is room for three people. So I sleep in her bed. And Henry needs to go out to pee. Fastest I've seen that dog pee in a long time while the thunder rolls across the sky. Finally, around four in the morning, the power comes back on. But we've all had very little sleep.

So that was the rough part of last night. The odd part was my dream. My old college roommate (not old like he's an old guy, old like it was a long time ago) gave me a present of an old camera. He works with old film so on his recent visit he brought his old camera. As in you have to wind it to get 16 seconds of silent film. Anyway, he gave me a camera like that (although it looked an awful lot like the surveyor's scope from Western Union) and I was so happy, I cried. And I woke up crying. Yeah. That's never happened before. Me crying doesn't even happen often. And to cry over a gift? Um, yeah. I can only explain it by blaming the lack of sleep and flashing lights in the sky. Maybe aliens abducted me or something, I don't know.

So, how was your night?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


That's my word for today. And this week. Some sort of evil sinus infection has found it's way into my nasal passages and colonized like it was the New World or something. Originally I subconsciously blamed my lovely wife for stealing the covers one night last week, thus giving me the chills. And you all remember what your mother's said when you were younger, right? You'll catch a cold!

Anyway, as my condition progressively got worse over the holiday weekend, I realized it wasn't her fault. It was Paul's fault. Who is Paul you ask? This nice comic artist/writer I know. But he's evil. How do I know? He's from New Jersey. Somehow he sent the Phlegm Phairy down here to infect me. I managed to wrestle her to the ground long enough to smother her with a pillow. But curse her, she left some "presents" behind on said pillow that turned into the Snot Monster.

By the time the Snot Monster reared it's ugly head, I had managed to survive the holiday weekend. Which meant I promptly called my doctor, made an appointment, got checked out, got a prescription, filled it, and started dosing myself with the wondrous of wonders, a Z-Pack.

So now I sit here after two days of medication still a bit woozy and muzzy headed. I've managed to make an attempt at a normal day today (minus the trip to the gym) so I'll be tired tonight. But don't worry Paul, I'll be coming for you. Oh, didn't you know? That's right, I'm headed north in another week or two for a wedding. My brother-in-law is getting married to a Jersey girl so I'm thinking I'll call in a few favors. Maybe she has some friends that could stop by your apartment and talk to that creepy old lady. I'm sure she's some sort of alien or zombie and would love to eat your brain.

Blergh. I think that just used up all my creative writing for the month.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicken Sh*t

First, a joke. Guess what?!

Chicken butt!!

Which brings us to chicken sh*t. And another joke. What's the white stuff in chicken sh*t?

Chicken sh*t.

Actually it's uric acid, but that's not as funny. Where is all of this going? To the birds. As in the birds around our house. In the past month, I've had two nearly hit me. And no, they weren't dropping letters or presents like they do in Harry Potter, this was bird sh*t. And both times they were easily within ten feet of me.

And to top that off, we've found evidence that they've been practicing their dive-bombing skills. I mean, how can you get bird sh*t on the side of a tire? Or the inside of a car door handle? Or the side of the house? I mean, it's like they're taking physics classes or something.

So there you have it, the straight poop on the poop around our house. I'm sure the birds will continue to cause a flap around here with all the sh*t they've been dropping. Let's just hope they stay away from the fans.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Supply and Demand

No, this isn't going to be a post on economics. It's about all six of my fans. Well, really just one fan. Who's more of a reader than a fan. And she's complaining that I'm not posting enough. Due to her "demand" I'm going to give a "supply" of reading material. Hopefully.

You see, I'm busy right now. No, I'm not curing cancer and yes, I'm sure I could be doing more important things like blogging. But I have enough on my plate to keep me from posting in this blog. And since I don't want to turn this into a whine and cheese party, I'll spare you the boring details. No really, they are boring. Unless you define exciting as creating a Microsoft Project file for a fake company's desire for a new human resources system. And if that's exciting for you, you're crazy.

Moving on, we have some new photos. First is the trip to the zoo in Richmond. I missed it, but it sounded like a lot of fun. The kids (and grown-ups) all came back with great stories to share about all the animals they saw.

Then we have Elizabeth's small birthday party at the local dinner theater. We're season ticket holders that (have been for years) and that's where she wanted to celebrate her birthday. There were some complications, but it all turned out for the good.

Will I be posting more? Yes, I've had my arm twisted enough by those nameless readers and I'll work on my thoughts of chicken poop and other ramblings.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Weekend Getaway

Yvonne and I just spent a long weekend in the mountains. Without the kids. Or the dog. Soooo relaxing. We don't normally take vacations so this was a nice break from work and the daily grind of life. Special thanks to the in-laws for coming to visit and entertain/babysit the kids (and dog).

Wednesday started with the arrival of the in-laws and presents for Yvonne and Elizabeth. Gotta love those spring brithdays! (click here to see all the photos)

So, we left Thursday afternoon and made the trip in a few hours. We made a pit-stop in town to get a pedicure (Yvonne, not me) and socks (me, not Yvonne). I also picked up some new books. Once we made it to the resort, we checked in, unloaded our junk in the condo, and went into the "big" town of Elkton. They had a spring carnival/fair/flea market. I knew we were in the "country" but wow. Mullets, camo wife-beaters, and well, stuff that looked like it "fell off" the delivery truck. But we had fun. We had dinner at one of the resort's restaurants and headed back to the condo dodging deer and groundhogs galore.

Friday morning was our "tour." It had a tour, but it also included a sales pitch. Since we weren't interested in a time share and just wanted a free vacation, we listened politely but declined. The sales guy was doing his best to be professional, but his persona was still that of a high school guy getting drunk and having fun. And by having fun I mean being stupid. We also reported our ant problem and snagged lunch before heading into Luray Caverns. Yes, into. I had been there some time ago and it looks like they've developed it a bit more. They also had a car museum and a hedge maze. After that we headed to downtown Luray and hit a used book store, did some walking, and found an awesome place for dinner, West Main Market. Best food we had all weekend.

On Saturday we slept in, which was nice. But odd. After all those days and weeks of getting up so early, it's hard to break that habit. Anyway, we headed to Staunton and visited the farmer's market in Dayton on the way. It wasn't the farmer's market we expected. They had a few food items, but was mostly craft stuff. But the choices of beans, grains, etc. was amazingly like the old days (except with plastic containers instead of metal. Anyway, we visited the Frontier Culture Museum which had several farms from several eras and form different places. Nice to see how they shear sheep, clean the wool, run a smithy, and generally just how they lived back then. While the exhibits weren't that far apart, we splurged and rented a golf cart. Yvonne had a blast driving it. Then we went to the Virginia Hot Glass Festival at Sunspots. They had a ton of blown glass, people blowing glass, and some jewelry kiosks. Yvonne picked up a nice bracelet with some hedgehogs. We also stopped at Pufferbellies, a toy store, to get presents for the kids (and me). And we stopped at the best antique shop I've seen in ages (the Jolly Roger Haggle Shop) after lunch at the Beverly Restaurant (food was okay, but service was very slow).

Sunday was the worst day. The last day of vacation is always hard. It's great to get back home and sleep in your own bed, but man that drive was just way too short. All in all, we had a good time. I think we'd both go back to Luray for the food and Staunton for the shopping.

All the vacation photos can be found here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The New Car

Edited 4/22/09: I've added the wrecked van photo at the bottom.

Well, it's not really a car, it's an SUV. Here's a preview:

Click here for all the photos.

But what I really need, is a name. I'm not big on naming cars, major appliances, or anything in general. But we can't call it a "van" (that's what we wrecked). We can't call it a "Suburban" (even though it essentially is). So should it be the "Denali" or the "Yukon" or something else? Vote in the comments!

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Photos

We have new photos of:

- Elizabeth's birthday
- Easter

Check them out!

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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wanna be in a movie?

I just had to chuckle at this one. Octomom gets an offer for a porno? Wonder if they can use the title from that James Bond movie...oh what was it called? You know the one I'm talking had Roger Moore and Maud Adams...

Watch out Zach and Miri!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goosey Goosey Goosey

I think only my wife will get the inside joke here, but she was once chased by a goose in college. Or was it a swan?

Just for you sweety!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I've been meaning to post about this for weeks, but I've lately been seeing a large flock of turkeys by the YMCA down the road. Not sure of the exact number, but there's been at least ten to fifteen of them every few days. They sit in one of the clearings pecking away at the ground.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Race Results

Congratulations Neil, you finished the Sweethearts 4 Mile Run on February 8, 2009 with a time of 00:48:24. You placed 296 of 316 runners, 160 of 169 Male runners and 16 of 16 in the Men's 30-34 division. Your pace per mile was 12:06. You scored 682 Grand Prix points in this race. Weather on Race day was 53 degrees, partly cloudy.

So I clearly didn't place where I wanted to, but hey, somebody has to come in last, right? Even if it wasn't last, last, it was last in my age group. There were a ton of runners out there (easily 300+) and many old men and women passed me by. I ran into the parents of a fellow high school alum and chatted before the race. He was running (faster than me) but it was nice to see somebody I knew.

I am happy with my pace, my first, second, and fourth mile were pretty good, but my third mile sucked wind. My legs weren't the problem (though they do hurt today) it was simply my conditioning. I think I need to build a large lung capacity and shed more weight. Not sure how I'm going to do either. Maybe I can hold my breath until I pass out? If I do it before dinner, maybe I won't eat....

It was also very nice to have my own little cheerleading squad at the race. Since we got off to an early enough start at home, everyone went. Elizabeth and William played on the playground at the park while I ran. And they all cheered for me when the race started and when I finished. I'm just glad they weren't there halfway through the race, I would have felt bad for walking in front of them. And I know Elizabeth would have yelled at me to "run faster Daddy, run faster!"

My next race (already registered for) is an 8k (4.97 miles) on March 8th. I'm hoping to do that in less than an hour.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm running in the first

I'm running in the first Grand Prix race of the year today and it's 4 miles long. Am I nuts?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hello, My Name is Scott Calvin

That's right, I'm going to change my name to Scott Calvin. Or maybe Samuel Carson. Either way, I need to have the initials of "SC" because I swear I'm living in a cross between The Santa Clause and Groundhog Day.


Because Elizabeth is turning into Charlie Calvin. You know, the kid who wants to re-live Christmas everyday? now don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Christmas everyday. I mean, presents, a day off, great food, who could ask for more? But my daughter takes it a step further.

Point 1 - Since Christmas, she's been listening to a jazz-themed Christmas CD when she goes to bed. Which means when I walk by, it's like getting a taste of Christmas in January. And February.

Point 2 - Last week, she wanted to watch a movie. Which one? White Christmas with Bing Crosby. And she said she wanted to finish watching it the next day.

I know, having two points doesn't exactly make for a strong argument. But I'm telling you, this is not going away anytime soon. I'll keep you posted on any more holiday-themed oddities.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Kids say the darndest things

The other day, Elizabeth said, out of the blue, something along the lines of:

"Remember when I was at the dentist and I got my crowns? And you wanted me to eat the popsicle? Well, I didn't want to eat it because I was tired."

Yeah. That was months ago. Then we have this kicker. There a death in the family last month and Yvonne was upset and crying. Elizabeth gave her a hug and said she would make a card for her "grandpap" to make her feel better. A few hours later she comes back to see me while I'm working and hands me a little picture that she drew. The conversation went something like this:

"Dad! Look at the card I made for mom's grandpap."
"It looks wonderful sweetie."
"See? This side has a dolphin." She turns it over and points "And here's an arrow and an airplane and two hearts."
"That's very nice of you to do that sweetie."
"Mom's grandpap is in heaven. Can you mail to heaven?"

And that's when I could only do my best to not cry and say I'd try to mail it to heaven. So if you know of an address I can use, please let me know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

You can't spell DEATH without the letters T-E-A

If you think I'm weird, welcome to the party. If you think I'm weirder than weird, here's further proof.

I recently switched my instant tea (iced, not hot) from the generic Wal-Mart brand to Crystal Light. So for a month or so I've been accumulating enough of this that I swear it was trying to poison me. I can't explain it, but there has got to be something in there that I'm either allergic to or that cannot be consumed in large quantities.

I know I drink a lot of it (about 2 quarts a day), but if drinking that much is bad, why sell it?

Needless to say, I'm back to the generic Wal-Mart brand of tea and I'm already feeling better.

Oh, and one more side note - don't use a regular knife from your nice silverware to cut cheese. you'll bend it and feel like a fool telling your wife about it. Instead use a cheese knife or cheese slicer or ask for help.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bird porn for my Mother

My mom has recently been on some sort of bird kick. This guy (or gal) has been haunting (and hunting) in our backyard for about two weeks now. See it during work and finally got a decent shot of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From 2 inches to this just five hours.

And no, I don't miss it.

My mom lives south of where I went to school, and I swear we always got more snow than she did.

Anyway, after poking and prodding yesterday, I think I'll survive my trip to the doctors and the lab. For those that don't know me, I'm terrified of needles. Despite having three tattoos. Go figure. The full physical went well. Everything appears healthy with the exception of my shin splints. But he gave me heavy duty Motrin for that last week and it works quite well. I'll run some tomorrow to see how it holds up. After the physical, I got my koondis (aka skin tab) removed. It hurt. Hurt more than my blood draw (thank God she used a small needle on me for that!). But what hurt worse than all of that combined?

Having my lovely wife peel the tape and gauze off my back. At least we were both laughing the whole time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Photos

Yes, a few weeks late, but hey. I wanted to make sure all two of you had a chance to go over to Library Dad and vote on what I should read next. And see what's happening over there too.

So, here's the album of Christmas photos from this year.

And, unfortunately, in order to make room for them, I had to remove some of the older albums. So if you find some links or photos not working here or in your favorites, let me know and I'll send you copies of the pictures.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My 2008 Reading Wrap-Up

*Caution, my OCD-prone nature is about to rear-it's ugly, Excel loving head.

In 2008, I read/listened to fifty books. Of those fifty books, only one was a re-read; The Sunrise Lands by S. M. Stirling. Which means, needless to say, that book is in my top reads list for the year. But seeing as I wanted to do something different this year with my "top reads" list, I did a "net worth" list instead. I ranked books on how much they were worth compared to how much I paid for them. So, with that in mind, let's cover the worst of the year.

The Three Books I Couldn't Finish:
#1 - Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley (cost $1.64 / value $0 = 0%)
#2 - The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (cost $14.95 / value $0 = 0%)
#3 - Roughing It by Mark Twain (cost $0 / value $0 = 0%)

Now, before you roast me for putting Twain in there, he was free, so chill out. And I love Twain, so chill out some more. But I just couldn't stomach this one, so I had to stop reading it. The Disappeared was, well, hard to get into. And Winterbirth had some way crazy names and characters I couldn't follow.

The Lowest Net Worth:
#1 - Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (cost $49.95 / value $2.50 = 5%)
#2 - Dark Lord by Ed Greenwood (cost $14.95 / value $1.95 = 13%)
#3 - The Ancient by R. A. Salvatore (cost $44.95 / value $9.95 = 22%)

Yes, part of me feels shamed that Salvatore, my once all-time favorite author, is on this list, but I think my reading habits have developed beyond puberty now and I'm ready to expand my horizons. At least a little. Brown's book was by far the most disappointing book. I was so hyped after Da Vinci that this like was a limp noodle next to it.

The Highest Net Worth:
#1 - Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling (cost $5.95 / value $7.95 = 134%)
#2 - Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (cost $15.00 / value $19.99 = 133%)
#3 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (cost $39.99 / value $39.99 = 100%)
tie - The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (cost $39.95 / value $39.95 = 100%)
tie - The Protector's War by S. M. Stirling (cost $14.95 / value $14.95 = 100%)
tie - A Meeting at Corvallis by S. M. Stirling (cost $14.95 / value $14.95 = 100%)
tie - The Sunrise Lands by S. M. Stirling (cost $14.95 / value $14.95 = 100%)

Feel free to call me lame on this list, but hey, they were good books. And yes, Stirling is on the list with four titles. So sue me, I like his work. Chabon's Yiddish book is likely the biggest surprise. Never would have figured it would amount to much but the guy is an artist that paints with words and prose. Abercrombie is, well, the king. Rowling's book was okay, but I really needed that ending. Without it, I think I would have given it a much lower ranking.

Books That Are Worth It:
...but didn't make the list (net worth included)
Winter's Discord by John Zeleznik (95%)
Dead to Me by Anton Strout (94%)
Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines (94%)
Last Argument of Kings and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (85% and 80%)
Beyond Band of Brothers by Major Dick Winters (80%)
Crusade by Taylor Anderson (80%)
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman (75%)
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by the un-related Nathan Hale (75%)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Come on over and vote

I know, I know, what a poor time to drive traffic. Well, once you get settled in, step over to Library Dad and tell me what to read next. Or else I'll be forced to make a decision.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolution Run 5k Race Results

Mile 1 = 0:10:59
Mile 2 = 0:11:53
Mile 3 = 0:11:46

Congratulations Neil Richard you finished the Resolution 5 km Run on Jan 1, 2009 with a chip time of 00:35:21 (just a second slower than my previous race in October). You placed 164 of 193 runners, 95 of 103 Male runners and 15 of 16 in the Men's 30-39 division. Weather on Race day was 33 degrees (in other words it was freaking COLD!), sunny, winds 9 mph.