we now hope to return to our regularly scheduled baby

You know on Sunday morning how it was really cool that we got to sleep in until 9am because Brooklynn was up during the middle of the night? Not nearly as fun on a night before work. We think it might be a growth spurt, but she has been completely off of normal for about 36 hours now.  Still, it's hard to be displeased with someone with such wonderfully chubby cheeks. I'm fairly certain that there is simple mathematical formula to describe a curve like that.

(And Rhiannon is probably worried that I will actually attempt to find it. She likes being married to a nerd. Really, she does.)

Side View

off schedule

I mentioned that Brooklynn went in for her 4-month shots on Friday. It's not the first time she's had vaccines administered, but it is the first time she's developed a fever and was clingy most of the weekend. We already fight to keep her on a somewhat normal schedule over the weekends because, frankly, Rhiannon and I like to sleep in as much as possible. Yes, we would rather sleep at six in the morning than see our baby. You can call us horrible parents anytime you'd like. Brooklynn had a small fever last night and napped a little more than usual during the day yesterday, so she was up later than normal. Then she woke up at 4am to eat. And it was one of the best things to happen in a long time.

We fed her a bottle and she went right back to sleep. Sleep - until 9am.

For those of you without children, yes, the fact that both Rhiannon and I got to sleep in until 9am was amazing. It was like a real weekend back before there was a Brooklynn and before there was a Beta that made Rhiannon too uncomfortable to lay in bed that long. I'm sure there will be days in the future when Brooklynn is a little older that she will stay up late on a weekend and then perhaps come and cuddle with us on a weekend morning to sleep in, but we are not there yet.

Do I feel bad that she was uncomfortable and irritated by the bruising and fever from her shots? Of course I do.

Did I love to sleep in? My gosh, yes.

Maybe we'll make all her shots on a Friday afternoon from now on.

is it too early?

Last year, we almost didn't do anything for Christmas outside of put lights on the house. Kind of at the last moment, we put our fake, pre-lit tree without any decorations on it. This year, we have a baby to take pictures of by the decorations, so we're getting on it just a little bit earlier. I figure if all the stores can be in full decoration mode, so can we. We just put light strands on the back deck this evening as it was getting dark.  It was a nice day (rather than two feet of snow), so we figured we better get to it while we could.

Yep. We're Those People

I guess nobody really waits for Santa at the end of the Macy's parade anymore to ring in the season, do they?

left behind

I wanted to tell you about how easy this parenting thing is getting. Really, I did. Tonight, Brooklynn and I went along with Rhiannon to watch her playoff volleyball game.  Gametime: 6:30 pm, which means not only do we have to get home, eat, and get out the door, but we also fight the tail end of rush hour to get to the game location.

When Dalon and Lynn visited a few months ago, it would take us about an hour to get everything ready before we could get out the door. I'd like to tell you how much better we are now. I knew that the game would be right during Brooklynn's normal eating time and that she probably wouldn't need a diaper change. Since we already have a diaper bag at least partially stocked for daycare each day, it took my about five minutes to throw in a couple extra needed items like a bottle and dry formula to mix up. Successfully out the door.

We are experienced parents and all.

Except the part where I left the formula powder sitting on the kitchen table when we left.

Luckily, Brooklynn's daycare is pretty close to the fieldhouse where the games were at, so we ran over there and picked up some extra formula. (Thanks, Jamie.)

You know that experienced and prepared part I wanted to tell you about?  I'll get back to you on that. At least I forgot the formula and not the baby.

change isn't always for the better

I don't like to get into politics too much on this site, because, when it comes to opinions, I think everyone is entitled to one and, last time I checked, arguing on the Internet rarely solves anything.  However... We found out that the school board election in Rhiannon's school district, the one in which over half the school board was up for vote, did not go the way the teacher's union wanted. The new members are conservatives who ran on a platform that teachers are overpaid and schools would be better off as charter schools run by parents.

I think it might be time to consider a different school district. At least we have a few years before Brooklynn actually goes to school; we can assess how much things have gone downhill at that point.

10 things i think i've learned

  1. The first rule of having a well-behaved baby is that you don’t talk about having a well-behaved baby. She will hear you and decide that well-behaved is not all it’s cracked up to be.
  2. Babies will spit up on you just after you put on clothes to go out in, regardless of how long ago they last ate. You can either change or wipe off the spit up and carry on with your day. It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to doing the latter.
  3. As much as you value your sleep, a full night of it can be optional for months (or years?) on end. You will survive. Flourish? No, that’s crazy talk. But survive? Yes. Survival is possible.
  4. Mirrors are one of the most intriguing inventions ever. Now, how do we get to the people who live on the other side?
  5. Babies know when a camera is pointed on them and that cute behavior or adorable face they were just making? They will stop. But don't worry. They will start it again as soon as the camera is put down.
  6. When you come up with a perfect schedule for a morning, and evening, an entire day, whatever the case may be - it will not work out like you planned it. Babies are about the closest thing to omnipotent and physic that I have ever seen in human form. And they are manipulative as well.
  7. An object's properties of harmful and incredibly interesting are directly proportional. Also, the best way to investigate interesting (and potentially harmful) objects is to insert them into ones own mouth as fast as possible.
  8. Mothers can never buy too many shoes for their daughters, even if those daughters have more shoes than their fathers and aren't even walking yet.
  9. Even people who weigh less than 20 pounds can feel like a sack of bricks after a little while of wanting to be held. The white hot burning pain of debilitating shoulder cramps is not an acceptable reason to set down said people.
  10. Any behavior described in this list (i.e. typical, anticipate, planned for, expected, or anything else that might be "routine") is subject to change without notice.

halloween hangover

Halloween Drinks Due to some large amounts of snow and numerous holiday parties happening, trick-or-treating seemed a little lighter this year.

No, we didn't have too much extra candy, but between the pop and 3 dozen extra sugar cookies (and frosting) that we ended up with over the weekend, I've been on a 48-hour sugar high bender.

I expect to crash sometime just before my alarm goes off tomorrow morning.

we have great timing

Rhiannon and I are traveling for Thanksgiving to see my parents, and we decided to go by air.  Somehow, two thousand plus miles seemed a little excessive for a long weekend. Luckily, we aren't alone in our plans.  We will be traveling on the busiest and second busiest travel days of the entire year.  Basically, I take this to mean get there early and expect to stand in line.  A lot.  I just hope that there are parking spots available.

With the changes to baggage fees, carry-on luggage restrictions, and the general hassle that is airports, I kind of dislike flying, especially when the destination is close enough to consider driving.  It's one thing when it's a business trip and the company pays for it, but personal travel is a pain and it costs dollars.

Still, we grin and make the best of it.  DIA does have free WiFi and charging stations.  Maybe when we get their well in advance and everything goes smoothly, I'll have to write somthing from the airport itself.  Yeah, I won't hold my breath either.

trying to act my age

This morning, when we were sitting on the couch, Rhiannon looks at me for a while and asks, "When did your dad get grey hair?" My reply was that I don't really remember.  Frankly, I don't really remember him with all much hair to begin with, although I have seen photos that show he did at one time have a full head of it.  The fact that I don't remember him with hair really scares me, as that type of tendancy seems to be a little genetic.

I asked her why she wanted to know, and she told me that I am starting to show more than a few lighter, rather colorless hairs on my head.

So, in honor of the fact that I may or may not be getting some gray hairs, my body is trying to tell me I'm old.  A day of working in our garage installing wiring and insulation plus an afternoon of running around the roof hanging Christmas lights has left me with nothing more than the desire to lay very still and never have to move again.

After the age of 25, when your car insurance goes down, I don't really see much upside to the aging process.

jumping the gun

Last weekend, a lot of people took advantage of the nice weather to get some of their Christmas lights put up on their houses.  I don't have an issue with it.  If we had the lights we want to put up this year in our possession, I probably would have started as well. The thing is, not everyone who has their lights on their house actually turns them on.  Or if they do, the lights aren't accompanied by several inflatable figures.  10 days before Thanksgiving is pushing it just a little in my book.

A little early for Christmas

out-nerded, by my wife of all people

In our household, I am the nerd.  I am the one responsible for just making things work.  I am the one who plays with new tech gadgets, lusts after the latest computer to come out, reads instruction manuals, and figures out how to do cool things with the equipment we have.  I take the pictures.  I shoot the videos.  I write code to make websites.  I AM THE NERD.  KING OF THE HOUSE! (And I'm proud of it.)

I've never had any competition for this title.  Rhiannon shows some interest in what I do, like watching the TV shows that we miss and I download to our computer, or comenting on how nice the cable cabinet in the basement looks after I spent hours reconnecting and organizing rather than folding clothes like I said I would.  But I never thought I would see the day where I was blown away by something nerdy, a little campy, and a lot cool made in our house that I did not initiate.

Iron Dog from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

And the best (or worst) part of the whole thing?  She got paid to do this as part of some training classes on the iLife suite.  This is probably the first time I've ever been remotely jealous of her job.

creature of habit

More than a few years ago, when I was growing up in my parents' house, something very traumatic happened to me.  It was bad enough that I can’t say exactly when or why it happened.  It was something bad enough that I partially blocked it out of my memory, but I still have flashbacks.  Even today, as an adult, I still have flashbacks. It happened in the kitchen, and I don’t think I have ever completely recovered.  Some event, so horrific, that I hesitate to even mention it on this website; but I will, and may the truth set me free.

In the cupboards by the sink, we had bowls behind one door and glasses behind a different door.  It seems simple enough, and that’s always the way it was.  Those cupboards were a rock in an otherwise turbulent upbringing*.  Until one day, I opened on door and found glasses where the bowls should have been, and bowls now in place of the recently displaced glasses.

It was a moment that still haunts me to this day**.

Maybe this anecdote seems a little random.  I’m generally not one to dwell on the past, especially something as mentally scarring as this.  Recent events in our neighborhood have brought all these painful memories rushing to the surface once more.

I like to know how things work and where things are.  And once I know this, I don’t like them to change.  One of the biggest adjustments we made when we moved to our current house was learning the layout of a new grocery store.  The chain was the same as I had been going to since college, but the store was nothing like the one closest to our old apartment.

It took some getting used to, but considering that we don’t plan out what we are going to eat on any given day more than about 24 hours ahead of time, we spend a decent amount of time there.  So I know that the cheese isn’t in the dairy section; it’s by the deli meat.  And the pancake mix is in the cereal aisle, dried fruit is next to the nutrition bars, and the doughnuts and Cool-Whip are in opposite back corners of the store.  Sliced water chestnuts are in the Asian food section and they put the day old loaves of bread next to the frozen desserts.

Just in case you wanted to know.

Recently, the store has been going under some cosmetic changes: new wallpaper, updated lighting, and redone floor tiles.  Considering the store is only 5 years old at most, it seems a little unneeded, but Rhiannon and I have commented that the leading competitor’s store does seem nicer.

Well, the remodel has become more than cosmetic.  This past week, the store, which is normally open all night, has been closing down.  They are moving food with wild abandon.  The quirky location of the cream cheese?  Now it’s with the rest of the dairy.  I was looking for a cake mix and found myself trying to decide between pop and fruit juice.  One of the things that Rhiannon and I really enjoyed about going to the grocery store was exchanging knowing looks about the people aimlessly wandering the store, looking from list to directory to aisle, trying to locate some tiny item, while we effortlessly breezed in and out.

Now, I’m back in the same boat as everyone else.  I go in and expect to get the supplies to make a plate of nachos.  Instead, I find that I am leaving with more a fruit cocktail mixture.

It’s times like these that call for drastic measures.  Do you think they would notice if I slowly put the store back the way it was, one box of Mac and Cheese at a time?

* - In the interest of full disclosure, my upbringing was pretty much as opposite of turbulent as you can get, but saying I had a great childhood doesn’t lend itself well to the dramatic buildup of the story.

** - I’m actually kind of serious about this one.  In our kitchen, the glasses, bowls, and sink are in a similar layout to the house I grew up in, and every once in a while, I still pause and think if the dishware is where I actually think it is.  I know, how do I bring myself to get out of bed in the morning?

vacancy (finally)

Yesterday, Rhiannon and I got something pretty monumental done. We washed, dried, folded, and put away our clothes.

I know it sounds like we must be slobs if washing clothes is a big deal (and maybe that's more true than I would like to publicly admit), but the washing and drying part isn't the problem.  It's more a matter of when we wash and dry clothes, which more and more often seems to be on Sunday evening when we realize we won't have enough clothes to wear for work the upcoming week if we don't.  While the clothes get clean, they don't exactly get put away while we are getting ready for bed on a Sunday night.

Luckily for us, man has invented the perfect solution to our dilemma.  It's called the guest bedroom.  In it there is a great, flat, clean surface where dry and clean clothes can be dumped.

Sometimes, when we're really motivated, we even separate the massive pile into manageable partitions, like socks, my t-shirts, Rhiannon's low cut tank tops and so on.

Sometimes, when we're really foolishly optimistic, we dump the clean clothes on our bed thinking that this will force us to put them away before we go to sleep for the night.  All it does is force us to put the clothes back into the laundry basket so we can dump them on the guest bed.

Usually, we end up with the last load of the clothes that went in the dryer as we were going to bed sitting there, the clothes that couldn't be dried hung on the drying rack and various chairs downstairs, the freshly dried and clean clothes sitting on the guest bed, the clothes that were worn but didn't need to be washed sitting on the dresser, and the clothes that we really don't ever wear put away neatly in the drawers and closets.

Am I proud of this? No. Did we make it work? Sort of.  It involved a lot of yelling in the morning along the lines of "Do you see my green tank top down there?" "No." "Well, where is it?" "How should I know where your clothes are?  I can barely keep track of my own socks."

Yesterday, along with the clothes we washed, I also put away the accumulation over the last month or so of all the rest of our clothes.  Thinking back, Rhiannon and I think the last time that happened all on the same day might have been before my parents came to visit, simply because that was the last time we needed the guest bedroom and the rest of the house clean all at the same time. (And no, that wasn't in mid-September, was it?)

The guest room is clean and open for business.  We have vacancy.  Personally, I'd act now - there's no telling how long this offer will be around.  Sadly, that's a very honest statement.

we've got gas (history)

I think anyone out there who knows me even a little bit is aware of the fact that I could be classified as a bit of a nerd.  I like math and programming languages and discussions about quantum physics.  I enjoy making elaborate spreadsheets to track rather mundane things, like anticipated loan pay-offs dates and interest saved by early payments. I also track our gas mileage we make in the vehicles we drive*.  I think Rhiannon has come to accept that this is who I am and nothing is going to change about that.  Most of the time, when we fill gas in her car, I’m with her, but even when I’m not, she’ll write down how many miles were on the tank of gas and give me the receipt.  Then I enter it into my spreadsheet – I can tell you how much we paid for pretty much any full tank since mid-2005.

And the kind of cool thing (in my opinion) about the whole process?  Instead of saying “Remember when gas was cheap?”, I look back and really know.

And the best part of the whole thing is that right now, gas is as cheap as it has been since I started keeping track of everything.  3 years and 5 months later, I’ve filled for over 4 dollars a gallon and less than 2 in a span of about 150 days.

Now, if someone can explain why the airlines are still charging fuel surcharges and making people pay extra for the first checked bag, I’d really appreciate it.

* - I’d like to blame a little bit of this type of behavior on my dad.  As far back as I can remember, he kept a fuel book in every one of our vehicles.  I’ve just updated his methods a little to the digital age.  Not that I have anything against it; in fact, I enjoy it.  It’s just not only me who does this sort of thing.

** - and yes, I missed two days... sigh.

lack of white

Over the end of last week and this weekend, I keep hearing these words like “snow”, “blizzard”, “winter weather”, and most strange of all, “The Dakotas”.  I’m really not familiar with that last term - maybe it’s a new ski resort up in the mountains that I didn’t notice.  Wherever it is, they have been getting something we haven’t - snow. This will be my 8th winter living in Colorado, and I can’t remember any time that we haven’t had snow by the middle of November.  Now, just to be clear, I’m not asking to be dumped on.  In fact, after writing that first sentence, I will now proceed to knock on any wood surface that I happen to pass by for the next few hours.  And I certainly don't mean to insinuate that we have ever had snow stay for the entire winter.  That type of storm is reserved for Christmas time when we're gone and have to spend 4 hours shoveling into our own garage.  I just mean that outside of a few frozen flurries one day at about 34 degrees, I haven't seen anything resembling a snow flake yet, which is unusual.

I know that the ski resorts have had some snow, and there is suppose to be more white stuff falling in the mountains over the next few days, but nothing for us.  And, considering I still need to buy a new shovel (ours cracked last year in one of the big heavy snow moving days), I hope it holds off for a little while longer.

funding is not coming

Another election season has come and gone, and I for one am more than happy to bid farewell to the political advertisements and phone calls.  In the last few days before Tuesday, and after we had already turned in our mail-in ballots, we were averaging about 5 phone messages a day telling us why to vote for various candidates and amendments. While I’m sure that there are many opinions about the national election results out there, and most of you reading this probably know what side of the line I was on, there were some local results that I was disappointed in.

We had three measures up in our county that would have increased property taxes a little and benefitted some of the public services.  Two were about the school district and one was for the public library system.

All three failed to pass.

I admit that I am more than a little biased on these issues. With Rhiannon teaching in the public school system, we would have seen a nice mid-year increase in our household income had the school bonds and mill-levys passed.  Last summer, the teachers received a 0.5% salary increase to cover cost of living expense increases.  Ok, I know that the recent job reports have seen a huge number of layoffs, so I won’t push this issue when she still has a consistent and steady job.

The part that gets me is that our county is, on average, one of the richest in Colorado based on per household income, yet the school system has one of the lowest budgets based on dollars per child in the entire state (these are figures directly from the school district).

Because the school systems are spending more money to supply food and to get kids to the school, they don’t have money for classroom improvements or new carpets that are walked on by hundreds of feet every day.  Non-classroom positions like technology specialists and resource teachers to help plan curriculums may be cut.  We expect our educators to work magic with kids who aren’t taught respect, courtesy, or any sort of work ethic at home and then we refuse to give the education system and money to work with.

I know that some people think teachers are glorified baby-sitters and are overpaid.  I looked on Craigslist at some common rates for baby-sitters in the area.  $10/hour seems like a pretty common if even a little low number.  I’ll even put in 2 kids for that rate.  7 hours a day by $10/hour by 10 pairs of kids in a classroom (I’m rounding down since there are more than 20 kids per class but other people in school as well).

$700 a day for a babysitter.  And while their at it, teachers should prepare kids for the future and educate tomorrow’s leaders.  I think that’s a little more challenging that making chicken nuggets in the oven.

Yes, I’m biased.  Yes, I think the schools need to manage their money better.  I still think education should be public and free to attend.

But I also think that the general public doesn’t understand what goes in to a classroom today.  It isn’t a curriculum that involves reading from a text book, handing out a worksheet, and grading a test.  Things are suppose to be fun, creative, engaging, active, authentic, and advanced.  Between the parents who can’t understand why their child isn’t at the top of the class and the parents who couldn’t care less about their children, I don’t think teachers get to spend nearly enough time planning and working with the kids.  They have to play politics as well.

Ok, I’m off the soap box. I know the education system needs work, and I don’t have any solutions. But I’m disappointed in the community I live in this week. I wrote that I felt like a part of this community on Halloween. The county is more than the people on the streets around us, but I can’t see the other side of this issue.  Maybe people aren’t as much like us as I thought.

getting ready for the festive spirit

  When I was little, we lived in the country, so we never really had trick-or-treaters come to our door.  I would go around to my friends houses in town, and a few of them might stop by our house, but other than that, Halloween was more a school party than anything.

As I got older, I went into town and ran around for the night with some friends.  Being North Dakota, more often than not, it seemed like we normally had snow at the end of October.

Now that we have a house instead of the apartments I lived in through college, and the fact there are a decent amount of kids in the area, we do get some people stopping at the door.  Since we ended up with a free pumpkin that was a decent size, we even carved it up and set it out.

Jack O'Lantern Jack O'Lantern 

(I carved it; Rhiannon lit the candle and set it out.  That’s called teamwork...)

Jack O'Lantern 

Over the past few years, we’ve gradually had more people stop.  This year, the weather was great, so a lot of parents with younger kids were out as well as the junior high kids running unsupervised.

We had anywhere from ages of about 6 months (really, who is out for the candy at that point) to around 14 years old (which is pushing it, but as long as they are in costume, I don’t mind too much).  Rhiannon didn’t feel like being cheerful, which means that I handed out most of the candy on the evening.

The cutest kid was probably 3 or 4 in a fireman costume.  He looked up just long enough to say trick or treat, and after that, his entire attention was firmly focused on the candy in his bag and my hand adding more to it.  I feel like he suspected that I would try to grab some candy away from him if he didn’t keep a close eye on it.

As horrible a holiday as Halloween actually is (let’s give kids too much candy and cause mischief!!), I did enjoy feeling like part of the community.  Maybe I’m just getting ready for the holiday season with a little early festive spirit.

Or maybe I’m getting soft in my old age.  Probably the latter.