pretty lights

I'd like to say happy birthday to my wonderful wife, Rhiannon. Because I'm a gentleman, I won't say how old she is[1. I imagine everyone who reads this already knows how old she is anyway.].

Sparkler Sundaie

And, because I'm a gentlemen, I also won't tell you that Rhiannon strongly considered blowing out that sparkler, nicely placed in the ice cream sundae at her birthday dinner. The fact that the ice cream is sitting on top of a half pound of cookie was what made the choice of dessert an easy one.


Seven years ago today was a Saturday. In our hometown, it turned out to be a pretty nice weekend. I wouldn't typically remember any specific day like that, especially in a town that wasn't were I was living at the time, but I do remember that one. Both Rhiannon and I were about a month out of college. I had a signed contract and job offer in Denver. She had plans to work at a summer camp and hopefully pick up a teaching job before the school year started. We were driving around the country side in a smurf blue Chevy Lumina north of 200,000 miles on the odometer. We had just signed a one year extension on the lease for the apartment I lived in during my last year of school.

We managed to drag a good chunk of our college friends back to our small hometown for that weekend. Getting people together then seemed a lot simpler. People didn't have kids. (Well, most people our age didn't.) Jobs were just getting started or they were temporary. No one was very used to full-time income anyway, so taking a little time off didn't seem like that big of a deal.

Since then, I've been at the same company, moving up the ranks with increased experience. Rhiannon is teaching in her third school and second school district, but overall our careers have been quite stable. We've been to Tuscon, Mexico, New York, Boston, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Honolulu, Lincoln, and Minneapolis. We've slept in a tent and seen Mount Rushmore. We've been in or through the Black Hills three times in three months. We've bought two cars, one house, countless flowers, and managed to kill four fish.

We've painted more rooms in the house than we've left plain. We've spent more time in IKEA the past 8 months then I care to think about. We've played together in a band, and orchestra, and a few volleyball leagues. We've made a bit of a dent in the library system requesting books with recipes of deserts.

To top it all off, we have two little girls. There are days and weeks that go by when we have no idea where the time went, and there are mornings that seem to drag on forever. We've spent a week in the hospital with a 7 month old and one night int he hospital with a newborn.

Seven years ago today we got married. It feels like forever ago and like just the blink of an eye. Our wedding picture (the one where I didn't have a ring on yet because we did pictures before the ceremony) is still hanging at the top of the stairs. It's really big, probably too big for the space. It looks a little like we have a shrine to ourselves going on. But at the end of that hall, there is a small memory box that has a program, some flowers, and matching pair of vows.

Those are the vows that Rhiannon and I wrote for each other, seven years ago today. Any they are still as true now as they were then.

Happy anniversary, Rhiannon. I love you.

Nuts About Each Other

dinner for mothers

This weekend was finally nice: we were in the low 80s for temperatures and we finally had a couple of days without the strong winds that seem to be the standard for this spring. Since it was Mother's Day weekend, we treated our resident mother to a nice dinner on the back deck.

Dinner on the Back Deck

We followed this Saturday evening with a new waffle maker and chocolate-raspberry waffles on Sunday morning.

Not pictured: the toddler just to the left of the picture waiting for her food. Yep, romantic indeed...


On Valentine's Day this year, Brooklynn ended up being sick and Rhiannon left work halfway through the day to take her home. So, my decision to pick up flowers at the last minute from the grocery store on the way home rather than spend a lot of money on some overpriced delivery to her school was completely justified. Plus, there is something to be said for picking out the flowers yourself, especially when a person manages to get a bouquet that actually looks good a full week later and has all of the blooms open up. Yeah, I'm that good.


can you find her?

I bought these pajamas for Brooklynn when I was out shopping by myself one day. Rhiannon thinks I'm trying to make her look like a boy. My response was "Brooklynn? Where is Brooklynn, because I don't see her." Find the Baby

Sometimes Rhiannon and I disagree about what's funny.

oh how the years go by

A few weeks ago, we flew in from Portland on a Thursday having been gone since Friday of the week before. My parents had been staying in our house watching Brooklynn, so we had gone for almost a week without seeing her. In fact, that was Rhiannon’s first time away from the baby for a full 24 hours. And then the next day, my parents took off to go back home and Rhiannon dropped her sister off the airport. Just like that, we were alone again with the baby. And it also happened to be our anniversary.

It seems the typical thing for a married couple with children to do on their anniversary is to get a babysitter or have someone watch said children while they get out on the town. If that’s the case, I guess we had ourselves somewhat of an anniversary week, what with wine tasting, site-seeing, and other generally touristy activities.

Enough that we didn’t really need to go out and live it up too much. Over a year ago, we went out for my birthday to the White Chocolate Grill and managed to only make it through the entree. So, we headed back for desert with Brooklynn in tow. French white chocolate bread pudding it was. And a scoop of ice cream for Brooklynn. We were celebrating, right?

After we put Brooklynn to bed, we watched the complete video of our wedding for the first time. While I was sitting there watching it and thinking of how young a lot of the people in it looked, I also started thinking about the fact Rhiannon and I started dating 11 years ago during the summer.

We made it through five years of college in separate states. We’ve been from the Space Needle in Seattle to Sea World in San Diego to Mayan ruins in Mexico to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs at Coney Island. We’ve logged more miles than I care to think about driving across the Midwestern states of the country.

We’ve lived in our current home for four years. We’ve put up some bold color on the walls, planted a fair number of flowers (some are even still alive today), and might finally be getting the hang of making the lawn stay green. We’ve made too many cheesecakes, cookies, and pans of kuchen bars than can possibly be good for us.

I don’t know if five years of marriage should be seen as a big achievement. We didn’t get married five years ago any exit strategy in mind. I do know that we wrote our own vows and talked about how we planned to help each other through whatever life may throw at us and support each other through hard times as well as celebrate the good.

(I think a baby fill pretty much all of that at the same time.)

And, watching ourselves as young twenty-somethings talking about a life that we couldn’t have even begun to anticipate, those words in the vows are still true. We’re still trying to find a time to get to Europe like we’ve been talking about for at least the past eight years. We have our fair share of disagreements and misunderstandings. And we’re still very much together and very much in love.

Happy anniversary, Rhiannon.

(Even if it’s a little late.)

another year down

Today is Rhiannon's birthday, which means that once again, she is the same age I am. When we were younger, I wasn't a huge fan of this - I liked being older (and wiser) and we would celebrate her unofficial birthday the day after mine, at which point I would officially recognize her new age since I would still be a year ahead. Rhiannon would get a second birthday gift, so she never protested too much about the arrangement.

We are past all of that now. Being another year older is no longer anything to celebrate. In fact, if I could stay right where I'm at (and keep all my hair), I would stop right now. But, apparently life doesn't work that way, so we are celebrating once again. Rhiannon is the same age as me, and now I just don't feel quite as old.

I had the day off from work today and took Brooklynn over to school to surprise Rhiannon over lunch. We caught the tail end of her class just before recess (back you tiny flu-laden vermin!) and took  a quick tour of the school to show off the baby. Brooklynn even wrote out a card (with a little help) - the first time Rhiannon has gotten anything addressed to "Mom".

Happy birthday, Rhiannon, from your family. It's more than just me now. Sorry if it makes you feel aged beyond your years.

(Don't fret too much. We can be old together.)

project family 2.9.36b

If you've been keeping track of the titles of these biweekly updates, you'll notice that the version number has gone from 2.1.xxb to 2.9.xxb.  I think that the change properly reflects how close we are to going to a full-blown status project family 3.0. While the picture is from the 36th week, my delay in getting this up has carried us well past the 37 week barrier, which is also considered full term for pregnancies.  As in, if labor starts, the doctor isn't going to stop it.  As in, one of Rhiannon's coworkers recently had a baby at 38 weeks.  As in, Beta is really more a release candidate / final build version than a beta at this point.  As in we could have a baby way too fast.

Yeah, a little late for that now, isn't it?

Week 36

Not to say that I don't want Beta to come visit.  I know she's still in the incubator getting that last honey-baked flavoring and all, but she's been in there a long time now and I'm not a patient person.

But then, there is still so much to do.  We have paint cans sitting in the nursery, and there are painting touchups to be done, and I'm not going to go in to the status of the basement other than to say Rhiannon has had to make more phone calls to me at work about it than I care to count.

This past weekend, we did an afternoon out walking around Babies'R'Us and the baby section of Target to finish purchasing what we naively think we need.  We've read lists on the internet and we've had plenty of suggestions from people who have kids, people who don't want kids, and people who have tried to give us their kids, but I'm certain as soon as we get the little one home, we'll figure something that should have staring-at-the-sun levels of blindingly obvious and I'll be the new dad standing in front of some lonely aisle trying to decide which size or pattern would be better.

But no, I'm not concerned about it.  About anything.  At all.  Ever.  Thanks for asking.

It isn't all work and no play around the house.  Last Thursday happened to be our 4th wedding anniversary, and if even if we had wanted to get out of the relationship, I guess it's a little too late for that now, isn't it?

In all seriousness, the past four years have seemed to fly by and I really can't complain about any single day.  Given that this will be our last anniversary or holiday as just a couple, we figured we should get out and celebrate while we still could.

We went out to a fondue restaurant that we ate at once before when we were still dating (and it's still around, so it must be decent) and spent over two hours winding our way through a four course meal (finishing with an en flambé chocolate and marshmallow fondue with strawberries, brownies, rice krispie bars, and cheesecake - all calorie free I'm sure) before waddling out of there.

We stopped by a home improvement store on the way home to walk a little of the dinner off and pick up a light for the basement.  We may have been a little over-dressed for that type of establishment - Rhiannon was wearing a formal black maternity dress that she had picked up for a wedding reception and I put on my black suit jacket.  An older man working there asked us if we were going out and we told him we had been out and we on our way home.

He asked if this would be our first child, and upon hearing that it was, he said go out as much as you can now while you still can.  I love hearing that type of advice that makes it sounds like your life ends with kids.  It's still amazing that the human race has managed to survive as long as it has, what with the horrors of child creation and rearing.

Still, as long as Rhiannon and I are together, I guess things won't be too bad.

Year 4 and still happy

not like the good ol' days

We have a small landing in the stairs that lead up to second floor of the house, and two steps is a good height where Rhiannon's shoulders are above mine and I can reach around her legs and pick her up.  I use to do this every once in a while and then set her down on the floor level. I tried it today without really thinking about what I was doing.

Rhiannon: "What are you doing?"

Me: "I was trying to pick you up like I normally do."

Rhiannon: "You can't do that anymore.  Things are different."

Me: "What do you mean?  I'm strong enough to lift you up."

Rhiannon: "Yes, but I'm bumpier now than I used to be and it squishes Beta."

Me: "Oh." [talking to her belly] "Sorry, Beta."

Rhiannon: "What are you apologizing to her for? She probably thinks it's fun.  I'm the one that was hurt."

Beta is causing trouble between us already.  (And sorry, Rhiannon.)

the benefits of being a heavy drinker

Oh, you thought I might have meant alcohol... I drink water at work.  Most people would say I have a lot of water.  A gallon in a 10 hour work-day is not uncommon.

There are a few drawbacks - I'm used to drinking quite a bit and I feel it when I don't, like over the weekends.  Also, a two-hour meeting that doesn't have a convienient bathroom break in it somewhere can get interesting.

But drinking a lot has its positives  as well, like when H.R. pulls your name for the random drug test.  There was a conference room full of people downstairs sitting around drinking coffee, water, and tea until they thought they were ready for the test.  Me? I just signed in, "tested" and was out in five minutes.

Really, I'm just trying to make the pregnant lady I live with not feel so bad for having to go to the bathroom often.

a look into our subconscious mind

Rhiannon and I both had dreams last night that we remembered enough about this morning to share stories.  In my dream, we were on a road trip without any maps through another country.  All I knew was the highway numbers we were suppose to take.  It got foggy so I decided to go different way and we got lost.  I have no what the significance of this is. Rhiannon had a dream that I was letting Beta lay on the very edge of the table while we were eating supper and she was telling me I would be in trouble if the baby fell off onto the floor.  Basically, I let it go until Beta did indeed fall off, except I caught the little bundle before impact with the ground could occur.

My reaction this morning was that I was pretty awesome in both dreams and Rhiannon’s thoughts were more along the lines that she would probably try to physically harm me in both situations.

I don’t normally put much stock in dreams having any significance in the real world.  I don’t call radio shows to find out what it all means.  I’d say this is probably a good thing, since neither of these situations could really be interpreted to be a great situation for me in the future.

when a man loves a woman...

This past Saturday was Valentine’s Day, and, like pretty much any other particular event, it was the last (insert whatever occasion of any significance that happens annually and also occurs before the middle of June here) before we have a kid. So obviously, we went out in style.  I had a huge arrangement of flowers delivered to Rhiannon’s class and…  No.  It was Saturday.  (I did bring home a nice bouquet for her on Friday evening.)

Ok, so we went out, hit all our favorite bars, and came home more than a little tipsy.  No, we didn’t.  Actually, we don’t go out that much, and from what I’ve been told, the whole state of being pregnant doesn’t really mix well with the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

But don’t worry; we did go out.  And we did in style, with a nice brunch at IHOP.

Nothing says romance like counting how many pancakes people at the tables around eat with the “all you can eat” pancakes meal.  Neither one of us had pancakes.  We’re already becoming disconnected from the socialized world – I’d say that makes us pretty ready for kids.

We did go out on a date.

A date to Babies’R’Us, where we bought some crib sheets (to go on the mattress we don’t have in the crib we haven’t bought yet).  We also bought Beta a first outfit, unless we find something cuter in the next 4 months.

If anyone knows – help me out: What do babies wear in the hospital?  Are you expected to bring some infant clothes with you?  Do they just wrap them up in a blanket and call it good?  If they provide clothes, is it $50 dollars for what amounts to the fabric equivalent of a dish towel?  These are things that the pregnancy books do not talk about.

In case you think that this was the lamest Valentines Day ever, don’t fret.  We did have a nice candlelight picnic dinner in the living room, complete with a fire and some locally made chocolates for dessert.

That night, when we were going to sleep, I was saying goodnight to Beta, which basically consists of me putting my hand on Rhiannon’s stomach and saying goodnight in some ridiculously cutesy baby-talk sort of way.  Exactly the thing that six months ago I would have sworn I would never do.  I felt one “pulse”, and then three more, all in a row.

Rhiannon confirmed that it was not abdominal muscle spasms.  We felt Beta for the first time, together.  Maybe not romantic in the traditional sense of the holiday, but it was the best thing either of us could have asked for.

there's something happening here

I don’t exactly know what typical behavior from a pregnant woman is supposed to be like; I’ve read quite a few articles talking about how the female may become a little hyper-emotional, or slightly unreasonable, and of course there is the stereotyped cravings of pickles and ice cream at the same time.  Apart from a few isolated incidents, I’d say Rhiannon is doing quite well. What I have yet to see discussed is how the expectant father-to-be is expected to react.  Outside of the congratulations and knowing smiles from other males, no one really seems to concerned with how I’m handling the pregnancy. 

I’m actually quite concerned about my own mental sanity, quite possibly more than Rhiannon’s.  I don’t mean to say I’m loony-bin material and a straight-jacket and a padded room, but my behavior as of late has become decidedly abnormal.

Case in point:  I talk to my wife’s stomach almost on a daily basis.  Six months ago, I would have rolled my eyes and told you than anyone who does that is stupid.

I have also named the baby – the baby who is less than half a foot long and doesn’t really have any chance at knowing who I am yet.  I call him Beta.  And no, when I say “him” I’m not giving away any state-level secrets.  I just refuse to call the baby it.  This is probably the reason I gave him a name in the first – to avoid the generalized use of gender constricting pronouns.  Again, six months ago – naming the unborn would have qualified as a little idiotic.

I am also beginning to notice the enormous amount of money poured into marketing aimed at the parents of tiny children.  I think for many years, it was probably assumed that mothers would make most of the child-related purchasing decisions, and baby products were correspondingly soft, soothing, and cuddly.  It was only a matter of time until some smart marketing genius realized that if they made baby items in the form of  cool-looking tech-laden gadgets, dads could be involved and spend even more ridiculous amounts of money on their offspring.

Case in point – Bugaboo strollers.  (Not that we have one sitting in our living room right now or anything…)  I get the same kind of same kind of rush watching the videos of how it folds, unfolds, and locks into positions as I do watching videos of cars with excessive amounts of displacement and low end torque or shopping online for completely over-designed computer systems.

Finally, I notice that a lot of the T.V. shows we watch seem to center around children or babies.  Maybe they always have and I just never really paid any attention, or maybe it’s an unusually high amount of small-person related story lines at the moment, but hey, we only get about six channels; my options are limited, ok?  Last night, there was a newborn that needed immediate and potentially dangerous surgery, and it bothered me – not because I was worried our child might have that problem, but more because, the poor baby and gosh I hope he’s going to be ok.

I haven’t gone past the point of no return yet.  I’m not gushing over every infant we see in public, nor do I ever anticipate asking to touch any woman’s stomach other than Rhiannon’s.  I also rationally understand that there will come a time when a small child who is unable to communicate using any form of recognizable vocabulary will refuse to cease crying despite the best efforts of the adults who created it.  At this moment, I fully expect to question the order of the universe and ask what we ever did to deserve such punishment.  And I will, again, question my own sanity for decided to reproduce in the first place.  Until then, however, I remain blissfully enraptured in imagining the future with a small child in our house.

Is this normal?  Gosh, I hope not.  I am enjoying it?  You better believe it.

just hoping to survive it

[Written on December 3, 2008] We’re into week 10, or 11, depending on how you count.  Seriously, the whole “How many weeks along are you” question is the most difficult part of this whole pregnancy thing (for me at least.  Hi Honey!) First off, they start counting from the start of an event that I don’t really care to discuss all that much, so there is an entire two week span (approximately) that you count as being  pregnant without ever really being pregnant.  I think it's some female conspiracy to make their job seem harder.

But, feel free to consume all the bad and illicit substances you desire during the first two weeks.  Hooray!

Ok, so you find out that you’re pregnant and try to figure out when that day was so they can add 40 weeks to it and give you a due date.  Have a specific due date in mind around 9 months from now.  Do a little calendar counting of your own, give one little while lie, and it can be yours.  (Or actually stumble into it with honesty like in our case – Brett’s birthday is our due date.  He’s rooting…)

In any case, you end up with a conversation that goes something like this:

Doctor: We normally can’t tell that until week 12.

Couple: We’re in week 12.

Doctor: [Looking at calendar] No, you’re in week 11 right now.

Couple: We’ve completed 11 full weeks, putting us firmly in the week 12 range, haven’t we?  (Depending on how the pregnancy is going and what symptoms the woman has been experiencing, she may become a little panicked at this point to find the promised relief from said symptoms all the books have been discussing has just been pushed out another seven days).

Doctor: Yes, you have completed 11 full weeks, putting you in week 11.  (At this point, the doctor will probably look at you and wonder if you are indeed qualified to raise a child, because seriously, you have 20 fingers and toes, how hard can it be to count to 11…)

Couple:  Ok, right now we are in the 21st century, but we have yet to complete 21 full centuries.  We are 20 full centuries and a few odd years.  Right?  So 11 weeks and 2 days is the 12th week of pregnancy.

Doctor: Oh, I see how you could think that, but that’s not how we count around here.  [Begins prescribing crazy pills for the neurotic couple.]

Couple: [Woman glaring at husband for making promises that things would be getting better and just now finding out they won’t]

(End Scene)

Not that I’m bitter or anything…

Honestly, I think Rhiannon has been doing much better than I expected.  Yesterday was the best day she’s had in a while, and if there was a trophy for getting all the way through a day without taking a nap, she would be receiving one.  Unfortunately, in the adult world, that type of achievement is rarely recognized.

We’ll see how the next few weeks go, but she has never thrown up and only felt really nauseous a handful of times.  Easy for me to say.  There was one morning when a feeble call came from upstairs for a piece of toast to calm some butterflies.  We haven’t had chicken breasts since a dinner of chicken and rice a couple weeks ago turned out to be completely unappetizing.  Other than the immediate “Oh no, what are we going to eat if not chicken?!?!” reaction, we don’t have the house packed with pickles and ice cream or vinegar chips, or anything strange like that.

In fact, Rhiannon’s sweet tooth had kind of declined over the past month.  Chocolate is still a yes of course I’ll have some, and thank you very much, type of food, but other things like cake and ice cream have been kind of take it or leave it.  Well, discounting the one evening she finished off the better part of a quart of chocolate chip mint ice cream and then couldn’t bear to look at the remaining bit the following evening.

Last night, she put on a pair of jeans, looked in a mirror, and asked me if they made her butt look bigger.  Any guy in a relationship knows that this question is basically a no-win situation, so I answered with all the sarcasm I could, “Honey, no pair of jeans in the world could ever make a butt as fabulous as yours look bad.”

I ducked the pillow that soon came my way.  The jeans were from college, and I pointed out the fact that hey, college jeans while 10 weeks pregnant should be a good thing, right?  Her take was that she must have been fatter than she thought in college.

Aren’t pregnant women suppose to be happy and glowing when they aren’t throwing up?

beating heart baby

[ Written on November 17, 2008] Today, Rhiannon and I had our second prenatal doctor appointment after work, and when I say that "we" had it, I mean I sat in a chair in the corner and tried my best to look away while the doctor did a brief pelvic exam.  I'm still not sure how I'm going to get to sleep tonight.  To any males out there - I encourage you to be supportive during pregnancy.  Go to the exams.  Ask the dumb "guy" questions.  But when the doctor asks the female of the relationship to remove clothing from the waist down, feel free to remove yourself from the room.

Now I didn't get to see this one coming.  Rhiannon was at the appointment before I was.  We were supposed to talk about the options for the tests that can be performed during the first trimester.  That's what I was going for.  I told the nice receptionist at the front desk who I was there for and she lead me back to the exam room and I walked right into it.  Sigh.

As far as we could tell, things have progressing exactly as they should so far. Rhiannon hasn't experienced intense nausea more than a few times at most - generally, she has just been mildly uncomfortable.  She has been pretty tired and takes naps a lot.  I guess this is all pretty standard operating procedure, and, although we don't have any real first hand knowledge about how everything is suppose to happen, the signs have generally agreed with what the books I'm reading are suggesting.

Still, Rhiannon recently found out one of her friends had recently had some issues with a pregnancy in the early stages, and we thought an ultrasound would be a good thing to have done.  We were told during her exam that we might not be able to hear a heartbeat until as late as 12 weeks along (and we just finished week 8), but we were just looking for the reassurance that everything was fine.

One of the ways that I know I like the doctor we have is Rhiannon simply explained what happened to her friend and said she was a little paranoid.  Rather than telling her she was a paranoid pregnant woman, the doctor called the ultrasound clinic and made up a reason why we needed to get one done right then.  Not tomorrow, not come back next week, but do it now thank you very much.

Luckily, the family practice doctor that we are seeing is located right in a hospital. We left the clinic, stopped by an office where Rhiannon had some blood drawn for a few prenatal tests, and walked to the radiology wing where the ultrasound would be done.

The only experience I have with ultrasounds has been on TV.  For pregnant people with large bellies, they rub some gel on and presto - fuzzy grey picture of baby to put on fridge.  For other procedures on medical dramas, it's all pretty much the same story; clear gel + magic rubbing thingy = picture of insides.  That was what we were looking for.

When a woman is only 8 weeks pregnant, they need to get the ultrasound equipment as close to the baby as possible.  Neither Rhiannon nor I was aware of this fact.  Well, the ultrasound still involved clear gel and a magic wand type instrument, but the scanning portion itself wasn't exactly visible.  Apparently, during a pregnancy, this area of a woman's body just sort of becomes public property to any remotely medical person.

The ultrasound tech was good - she told us what we were seeing on the fuzzy gray screen.  She found the gestational sac and a small bean looking thing that apparently is our baby.  This was a whole new level of real.  We had the home pregnancy test.  We had the doctor pregnancy test and the first doctor visit.  Rhiannon has been experiencing symptoms that correspond to everything the pregnancy books have said might be possible.

But this was real.  It was a picture on the screen of a real baby (or whatever passes for the beginnings of baby at about 6 weeks of development).  And then, the tech moved the probe just a little bit, turned a dial, and the area in the middle of the little bean on the screen started to oscillate back and forth between white and black.

The baby's heartbeat.  About 178 beats per minute.

So far, so good.  The tech even commented that with how good everything looked, she wasn't even sure why the doctor needed and ultrasound done right away.

Rhiannon has two heartbeats going on inside of her right now - one of her own, and one of the little thing that's taking her energy.  And we couldn't be happier about it.

a little bit scatter-brained, a lot relieved

This morning Rhiannon woke up and said she had her best night’s sleep in a while.  Yesterday, our high temperature for the day was one degree, and it was negative most of the day.  A week ago Tuesday morning, we had about 4 inches of snow.  I think all of these things are related. Last Friday, I got a phone call at my desk.  I seem to get a lot more of these calls when Rhiannon is out of school on her breaks, but this one was quite specific.  Had I seen her keys?

I took this to imply that she thought I had her keys with me, but I quick check of my pockets and coat proved that I was the proud owner of my own set of keys, a wallet, cell phone, and a little pocket lint.  No mistaken taking of the spouse’s keys here, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, that meant that she didn’t know where her keys were.  Usually, I am the one who loses things like that in the house. (See: How to lose your cell phone for three days  under the passenger seat of your wife’s car, only to have her finally find it for you written, edited, and masterfully executed by your’s truly.)

I have a bad tendency to scatter my daily possessions randomly throughout the house when I come home from work.  In a three room apartment, this wasn’t such a big deal, but in a larger house, it does make for some interesting mornings, especially when the house becomes cluttered and the missing item is required to start the car.

One of the contributing factors to Rhiannon not knowing where her keys were was the fact that she hasn’t had to leave the house during the day.  We go out in the evenings sometimes, but I’ve been driving and using my own keys.

So, from Friday, we started backtracking – when was the last time she drove without me.  Monday.  Was that the last time she had her keys?  No, she checked the mail on Tuesday during the day (the day there was snow).  And the worst part – she cleaned the house on Wednesday, so the clutter that so often plagues me was a non-factor in our search.

And we looked a little bit on Friday.  We went over all the normal areas, checked the pockets of every coat (including mine) downstairs, and looked around everywhere they might have been dropped.


On Saturday, we started getting a little more serious, because it was going on 24 hours, and they weren’t turning up yet.  We walked the street and sidewalks between our house and mailbox, in case they were dropped and still laying out there.  I tried to figure out if a snow plow could have pushed a set of keys down the storm drain.  We started looking in weird places that keys would have no business being, like the lazy-susan in the kitchen and the basket we keep library books.


On Sunday, I went back through the garbage bag that Rhiannon took out on Wednesday after cleaning.  We looked upstairs.  We looked downstairs.  We checked the basement.  We started discussing what was on her keychain and what we needed to replace in case she had dropped the keys outside and someone else had them.

The key-fob to her car could lead to the location of our house pretty easily.  Keys to the house, mailbox, and both cars…  in other words, we had some work to do to replace and reprogram everything.

Yesterday, Rhiannon called me to ask how thoroughly I had gone through the trash.  It was trash day, and our garbage bin was sitting out, with the possibility that the keys were in it.  So she decided to have a good look through everything, just for some peace of mind.

Being that it was cold out yesterday and she didn’t really want to sift through a week’s worth of trash in the house, she went upstairs to grab her warm winter jacket.  The same jacket that she put on a week ago when it was snowy out and she got the mail. The same jacket she put away back upstairs right after she got back in the house.  The same jacket she left her keys in and never checked the pockets.

Keys found.  Good night of sleep ensues.  One mind confirmed not crazy.  Merry early Christmas.

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.

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.

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.

selective memory about food

With the recent heat we’ve been having (today marks the 19th day of 90+ highs, an all-time record), we’ve been trying to do everything we can to stay cool in the house.  Mostly, this involves running the air conditioner.  Weird, right? This works ok, but we do try to help the AC out as much as possible.  We open the windows at night when it cools off, which it didn’t last night (69 degree low).  We close the shades so the sun doesn’t shine in.  And we grill a lot of our food outside.

I don’t think it’s a secret from anyone that I enjoy cooking and I do the majority of it in our house.  I’d like to think I’m good at it – Rhiannon eats pretty much everything I make, so that must be saying something.  I don’t often make food that’s completely inedible (but it has happened from time to time . Usually, most of the stuff that I have really screwed up has involved an oven, some type of leavening agent, and a lack of ability to correctly follow simple directions.

And, I was just inexperienced as a baker.  I’d like to think that I now could tell the difference between salt and sugar before I make a whole batch of batter.  (I still have nightmares about that one).

Last weekend, part of our grilling was bacon for BLT sandwiches.  We use turkey bacon and found out that it gets crispy like real bacon does when grilled.  The taste has always been fine, but there was just something about floppy bacon that didn’t sit well with me.  On Saturday, I probably could have crisped them a little bit more.  Sunday for breakfast, I had it perfect.  Sunday night, for sandwiches again, I stepped outside to see smoke rising from the grill.

Not just a little bit, but enough to create a plume that I’m sure was visible from the other side of the house.  Smoke signal level smoke.  Serious smoke.  The bacon was a little over cooked, somewhere between well-done charcoal and dry flakey ash.  For a product that tries to impersonate sliced pig, that isn’t really the sweet spot for flavor or texture.

At least a trash can doesn’t complain.

We might be having some people over for dinner this weekend, and I would be doing the cooking.  Rhiannon made the comment last night that she doesn’t worry about anything I make because it always seems to turn out.  Either her short term memory is worse than I thought, or it was that traumatic she blocked it out of her mind completely.