Second Tree Blog

Semi-regularly updated musings from the Tim, Julie, Benton, Carson, and Alana Wilsons.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

[Julie] Halloween 2007 - A Recap

Halloween has finally arrived and a fun time was had by all. Last night, Benton worked to cut out his Jack O'Lantern - a bat on top of a pumpkin. Carson was pretty concerned about getting his carved, so we made it happen this morning before school. His is a bat. Here is what they looked like after dark on Halloween night.

Benton and Carson had Harvest Festival activities at school this afternoon. This is basically a costume parade around the outside of the school followed by various fun activities inside the classroom. The parade started at 2:15 and everyone was finished with the classroom parties by 3:30pm.

Here is Carson during the parade. My little Ninja is walking with his friend, Tom Cat (a.k.a. Jack). Alana and I were along the parade route, which was sunny and relatively warm (in the mid-60's).

Here is Benton in his classroom, digging into a bowl of "brains" (spaghetti) in search of rats, eyeballs, and spiderwebs. This was a rather slimy but fun activity.

Other activities for the classes included cookie decorating, bean bag tosses, mazes, bingo, and limbo, just to name some of the ones I got to see. Benton's teacher (Cinderella with long white gloves on) finally gave in to the pestering from the kids and dug into the brains. It was fun to watch her AND watch the kids be entertained by their teacher doing this slimy thing. Of course, with her gloves removed and long nails digging in, she got to enjoy the "brains" a little longer than the kids, as it got all stuffed under the nails.

After school, we came home and played until our friends, the Hannan's showed up for a quick dinner and some trick or treating, which was scheduled from 6-8pm. With their 3 kids and a friend, and our 3 kids, we had a troupe of 7 trick or treaters hitting the street.

Alana was a little slower than the rest, but didn't seem to mind hitting every other house or so.... in the beginning. About 30 minutes into the trick or treating, she realized that she wanted to go to all the houses she saw the other kids at, so Tim provided much needed transportation between houses for her. She lasted about an hour and got her "chariot" to take her home to bed while I continued along with the boys.

By 7:30pm, the boys were ready to come home and count their booty. Here is a picture of Carson with his lot (and Benton's ziplok bag of candy). He sorted his candy in order to fill out a graph he was assigned to do from school. My estimate is that between the two boys and Alana, we gained 4+ pounds of candy!!! The pounds and pounds of candy I bought to hand out were about the right amount, with just a handful or two leftover. Despite Carson's extra large collection of candy, he still tried to "borrow" candy from Alana's bag and the extra candy we had leftover.

Thankfully, the school district planned a 2 hour late start day for tomorrow, which means Benton won't have to be at school until 11:00am and Carson won't arrive until 2:00pm. We will be off to the farm over the weekend and can hopefully run off some of this extra sugar!

Happy Halloween!


[Tim] "Daddy... Daddy... Daddy... Daddy..."

For reasons that are unclear to me, Julie took Carson to school this afternoon rather than having him ride the bus. 20 minutes round trip. She left Alana playing in her room, which she will do quietly for an hour easily.

Her room is directly over my office.

It's not uncommon to hear things thumping around as she rearranges various toys.

Today, though, I heard something different. It was a quiet, steady, almost melodic, "Daddy!" repeated every five seconds or so. It was sufficiently subtle that I have no idea how long she'd been saying it. But, she clearly was not in any sort of pain or distress.

I headed upstairs to investigate.

I opened the door to Alana lying on her back on the floor with her pants pulled down around her ankles, her feet stuck straight up in the air, and a dirty diaper in her hand. Apparently, she'd decided that: 1) she wasn't going to wear it, and 2) she wasn't going to come and find me to change it. She reported that the box of wipes was empty, as she had also tried to wipe herself a bit.

<sniff> They grow up so fast!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

[Tim] Back in Ohio...but Barely at Home

I flew back from Austin late Friday night. From the airport in Columbus, I called to check in, and Julie said she was feeling very, very ill. Luckily, the kids had already gone to bed, so she was able to bundle up and crawl into bed herself. By the time I got home at 11:30, she was out. Saturday morning, she got up early and took the dogs for a walk. This was based on her self-diagnosis and treatment plan. Which seemed to work, luckily!

We had a slow start to the morning, but then headed out around 10:30 to drive up to the Wadsworth Lyrens' house. We got there early afternoon and the kids played for a few hours before we donned costumes and headed up to Julie's cousin's house in Cleveland for their annual Halloween Party. Julie's cousin, Anne, is basically a Martha Stewart clone who has a side job as a doctor. So, the decorations at the party included headstones in the front yard, faux "legs" of her two sons coming through the ceiling in the sunroom, spiders mounted on the ceiling, rats running up the banister, and so on. The food was even more out of control: "fingers" (bread sticks with red pumpkin seeds tacked on the end), chocolate spiders, hard-boiled eggs with spiderwebs on them, chocolate mice (licorice tails), and four or five dishes that weren't specifically Halloween-themed, but were delicious and high effort in the making! Oh...and each dish had a meticulously lettered sign stuck in it explaining what it was. The goodie bags for the kids were two layers of brown lunch bags, with the outer bags stripped and shredded in a way...that I'm not describing effectively at all!

Benton went in full camo, including face paint. He's into a heavy camouflage/soldier phase, which we sort of hope passes sooner rather than later! Carson was a Ninja. Alana was a princess. A princess who, mind you, fell asleep five minutes before we arrived at the party. So, I stayed in the car and let her sleep for 45 minutes before heading in. Needless to say, she was a still a bit groggy when we entered the house, so I had her clinging to me as she checked out the very realistic mummy (Anne again...included face "paint" that was made from flour, water, and some sort of paper -- she is certifiabley out. Of. CONTROL!), a werewolf (Anne's husband, Matt...including hairy feet, fangs, and pointy ears), a clown (Aunt Elaine), and any other number of characters. Ultimately, Alana warmed up to the event and had a great time.

Carson, as is his tendency, found a group of cousins and friends to tear around the house with. Luckily, his Ninja sword, another kid's light saber, his second-cousin's pirate saber, and other kids' various plastic weapons did not inflict any real harm.

Oh. Yeah. Julie and I were M&Ms. Julie painted an M on a red sweatshirt for me, and she sewed a felt M on her yellow sweatshirt. I don't think we actually made the crack that we were M&Ms -- Julie plain and me "with nuts" -- all evening! As it turned out, Julie's Uncle Bill and her cousin's son, Luke, came as M&Ms, too. But with more elaborate costumes.

We headed out ~8:45 and were back in Wadsworth by 9:30.

And, we're getting ready to head back to Columbus!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

[Tim] Public Service: RSS Feeds

If you're reading this via the RSS feed, then move on -- there's nothing new here.

If you're reading this via e-mail or on the web site, then this might be interesting. There's nothing really pertinent to the Wilson Family, but it's cool stuff nonetheless.

Do you have a handful (or two handfuls) of web sites that you visit regularly? Or, that you sort of wish you visited regularly, but it's actually a hassle to type in the URL or navigate to a bookmark, so you don't get to it? go to it regularly, but half the time they haven't updated content since the last time you went?

RSS is the answer. It's actually a great way to check a bunch of web sites at a glance to see if they have new content posted and scan that content very quickly to see if there's any content of interest. And immediately read the content with zero or 1 clicks. That's what RSS does. And, RSS functionality is built in to Internet Explorer 7 (there are also a ton of more robust RSS readers that have additional functionality that are free...but IE 7 works fine for me, so I'm not equipped to speak to them -- I may switch over to the built-in functionality in some point).

RSS is a "pull" technology. You subscribe to a "feed," and then your reader (IE 7 in my case) worries about checking and pulling down content from that feed. I knew of RSS technology and even subscribed to a couple of feeds for the last year, but it wasn't until Kristin Farwell, a friend and co-worker at Bulldog Solutions, put together a quick presentation to talk about RSS that I got serious about it. It was quick and easy...and it's now where I get a good portion of content from the web.

To use RSS in IE 7, just look for the RSS icon:

Click on it. Then, you may have to read a little bit, but you're basically looking to "subscribe to this feed." You can set up folders for different types of content to keep yourself organized.

After that, it's just a matter of opening your RSS pane (you can keep it open all the time) and scanning through and clicking on different feeds to which you're subscribed.

Not exactly extensive documentation, but Google will help you find lots of more specific tutorials. If you have time and still don't quite get how it works, check out the video below.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

[Julie] Carson's Special Lunch

Today, Carson and I got to enjoy a beautiful day at the zoo. We headed over to have lunch with Spiderman. Yes - you heard me - that red and blue superhero who Carson likes to pretend to be. Well, he was at the zoo and we had tickets to join him, and 298 other parents and kids, for lunch. Here is our countdown to the big event.

11:45 am - The line opens and we enter the hall to claim our lunch and drinks. Since we were about 10th in line, we snagged a seat right in front of the stage.
11:50 am - Carson befriended a black Spiderman named Jeffery sitting across from him at the table. He and Carson tried to figure out if the black Spiderman was coming today or the red one. They both concluded he would be red.
12:00 pm - Spiderman theme music blared through the hall and then....wonder of all wonders... the webbed hero appeared (and he was red) much to the delight of Carson and every kid in the house.

At this point, the plan was to eat, get your face painted or get your picture with Spiderman until it was time for his 12:30pm show. So, Carson and I ate and then headed for the face painting. At one point during lunch, Carson asked me who I thought was in the Spiderman suit and I joked that maybe Dad was not on an airplane headed toward Texas. Carson ran with this and tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Jeffery that Spiderman was his Dad.

The show was about 30 minutes long with lots of audience participation and humorously covered topics regarding Halloween safety. It was very well done and kept the kids entertained and informed. After the show was over, we stood in line for a picture with Spiderman. Carson spent most of this time playing with Jeffery, his table mate. He also got to enjoy the various animals brought around by the zoo staff. Here is a sampling......

This is Ruffus, a 13 year old Eastern Screech Owl. Carson pointed out that his cousin Tyler was almost 13, so this little owl was pretty old even though he was pretty small.

This is some type of python. It was not slimy to touch.

Have you ever seen a Bear Cat? Me neither. This guy was fascinating and LOVED that banana. Apparently he spends most of his time in the trees and has a tail like a 5th arm. This one is less than a year old, weighing about 25 pounds. It can curl around a tree limb and support most of his weight. He must have crawled around the zookeepers neck about 50 times.

You probably have seen one of these, at least the plastic kind. This flamingo is not very old since it is not fully pink yet. I think she said it takes about 3 years for them to get all pink. Carson was able to get a pretty good view of this one. (Jeffery is right next to Carson.)

We ended our lunch with a picture. When Spiderman asked if Carson could do a web-shooter, Carson hopped right into Spiderman form.

After lunch, Carson and I wondered around the zoo doing a little trick or treating at the booths set up for the occasion. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with a high of 81 degrees forecast. It was a nice way to spend some one-on-one time with MY favorite superhero.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

[Julie] MY Dresser - It's Mine, Mine, Mine!!!

Today marks a new milestone in my life, the return of 4 of my 8 dresser drawers. I finished moving Alana's clothes out of my dresser into her newly acquired dresser, so that I no longer have to hang ALL my long sleeved shirts and put overflow items in plastic tubs in the closet. Here is a little history on how I have managed to have half a dresser for the better part of 4 1/2 of the past 6 years......

When Benton was born, we purchased an armoire-type dresser. It was all his. After his brother was born, Carson's clothes went into half of my dresser. Our house at the time had only 2 bedrooms since the 3rd "bedroom" was the office. This worked well since Carson slept in the master bedroom until after he was 6 months old. At that point, he moved into sharing a room with Benton, but still got changed on the changing pad located on my dresser. His clothes were close at hand where they were needed most, so we did not have to disturb Benton's sleep during middle of the night changes.

When Carson was 18 months old, we moved to a bigger house and had the luxury of separate rooms for the boys. Carson acquired the armoire and we purchased a new white dresser for Benton. This worked well and I once again had all 8 drawers of my dresser to myself.

Here's where I will share a relatively irrelevant picture since this blog seems more fun with some pictures. This was taken in April of 2004 when Carson was about 2 and a half, a time when I got to enjoy my entire dresser, briefly.

Then, in June 2005, along came Alana......

This is where is gets complicated. Since my dresser was really the ideal spot to use as a changing table, it made sense to put Alana's clothes in half of my dresser and I once again boxed up some of my clothes. A few months after Alana arrived, Carson started sleeping in Benton's room, while Alana started sleeping in Carson's old room. Here is where it got complicated.

In order not to wake Carson in the morning, Benton had to pick out his clothes the night before school, since he had to get up early. So as not to wake Alana in the morning, Carson had to pick out his clothes the night before once Alana started sleeping in. No one seemed to have access to their clothes when they were needed.

Along came our move to Ohio and the luxury of a yet a little more space. With this move, Benton and Carson each got their own room, so each had their own dresser. Until today, I still shared my dresser with Alana since we only had 2 other dressers for the kids. Last week, Benton got a new bedroom set with a dresser. So, after emptying out the white dresser and after Tim re-glued the legs the movers broke off (that's a whole other story....), the white dresser moved into Alana's room and today her clothes have followed!

And this is where I have now reclaimed my dresser. Yes, it is all mine. I suppose this is sort of the euphoria Tim is feeling over having a workshop in the basement that is not a shared space like he had in the garage in Texas, where he had to look at, work around, and clean up all the toys, bikes, and clutter that the kids and I generated. Somehow, I think he is probably a bit more smitten, but I am still glad to have my clothes readily at hand.
A final update on the sore throat. It was indeed Strep, though not identified with the 5 minute test they can do at the doctors office. The antibiotics I am on will do the trick, so I continue to heal. We are on the lookout for any signs of a throat issue in the rest of the family. Fingers are crossed.


Turns out it WAS strep throat

Julie just got the call that her culture turned up that she does indeed have strep. But, the antibiotics have been working their magic, so she's on the mend.

I figure I'm due to think that I've gotten out unscathed just in time to head to Austin on Sunday and find out I was wrong.

No worries -- my Austin doctor doesn't even know I've moved, and I haven't had a reason to find a doctor in Ohio yet! Dr. Maldonado -- keep an open slot for me next week, just in case!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

[tim] When Julie Talks, the PTO Listens!

Last week, I made a brief entry about the night that Julie attended her first Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) meeting. She was going out of curiousity -- curious as to whether that would be a good place for her to invest her time and energy.

The two pieces of information about the meeting that she relayed to me were: 1) that she sat next to Carson's teacher, and 2) that Glacier Ridge Elementary (GRE) has a monthly "CiCi's Pizza" night where a small percentage of earmarked proceeds from the evening's take go to the school. CiCi's does this for several schools and, at the end of the year, the school whose parents have spent the most money at CiCi's get an end-of-year pizza party. I haven't quite figured out how the teacher's reconcile lessons on balanced, healthy meals with "don't forget to go get pizza tonight" reminders, but that's beside the point.

What came up at the PTO meeting was that, last month, GRE had a rather dismal showing on their designated CiCi's night. Julie spoke up and said, "At the school my son went to in Austin, when the local ice cream parlor did this sort of thing, they always sent the kids home that day with a sticker on their shirt as a reminder."

Any guesses as to what Carson had on his shirt when he came home from school today?

We went to CiCi's for dinner.

It was mobbed.

With GRE families.

I mentioned in passing to Julie that this was a good, albeit simplistic, example of the sort of thing my company, Bulldog Solutions, does with our clients. It's all about the timeliness (within a few hours of dinner time) and relevance (we have to eat...and should also support our school) of the Marketing!

Her eyes glazed over at "example."

I do think she might be convinced now that PTO involvement is time well spent!


[Julie] The Princess Ninja Wand was the day Carson had been waiting for ALL week. Last week, he decided on a ninja costume for Halloween and it got ordered. Everyday, starting with the day we placed the order, he asked if the costume was here. When I told him it was not here, he asked me to tell him as soon as it arrived. After waiting 6 long days, his much anticipated ninja costume arrived. He was thrilled! The 30" sword came in a sheath and was one long piece. (I had warned him it might be a few pieces that we had to assemble in case that was how they made it. I was trying set reasonable expectations so he wouldn't be disappointed. Fortunately, it was one piece, so he was delighted.)

In a separate box, Alana's princess costume arrived. It is about as pink as you can get and came with princess sparkling shoes, a princess tiara, complete with netting that dangles down in back, and a light-up princess wand. She immediately had to have the ensemble on and wanted to know "What's this for?" when I handed her the wand. I told her it was her princess wand. She grabbed it and started to carry it around.

In the meantime, Carson was transformed from a 5 year old child into a black warrior ninja who started to move ninja-like around the living room. This movement included wielding his sword while standing on and jumping off of the couch and various other things that "Carson" would not be allowed to do, but a ninja was expected to do.

After a quick run into see Tim in his office and show off her princess dress, Alana returned to start the meeting between princess and ninja. Within moments, it was a good verses evil match whereby the princess wand was used as a sword to defend against the ninja sword. Carson loved it (as expected), but so to did the little, dainty princess. In the end, I, the fairy god mother or the wicked witch, depending on whether you were enjoying this battle or not, stepped in to stop the action. I tried to explain that Alana's princess wand was not for fighting.

Shortly afterwards, we got out of the costumes for dinner which brought a pause to the excitement. After returning from dinner, Alana found her princess wand and promptly whupped me on the leg. This led to her difficult choice of putting it down or getting it taken away. Seeing as Alana is 2 and a half and it was 7:30pm, she made the "choice" to have Dad put it away by not putting it down. This is where the "Princess Ninja Wand" title comes in.

Alana started to cry for she wanted her "ninja sword" back. I explained that it was a princess wand and that she had made the choice to have it put away. Apparently, she sort of listened, because she has since referred to it as her "princess ninja wand".

Beware you trick or treaters who think you are stumbling across a cute, sweet little princess on Halloween night as she will have her Princess Ninja Wand and she knows how to use it!

In case you are wondering, Benton's skeleton costume arrived, and he did not like it. So we are still on the hunt for something that he might wear, as I have given up hopes of finding something he will like. Carson has already made a pitch for us to keep the costume rather than return it, as he wants to wear it.

Boo to you!

By the way, my sore throat, mentioned in Tim's last post, is not strep but I won't get any culture results back on what it is for a few days. My trip to the doctor's office resulted in some antibiotics which have made a world of difference. I am not back to normal, but I can swallow without wincing, so much progress has been made.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cheap nail polish and date nights

A brief and rambling update...

Alana was long overdue for having her fingers and toes redone. "I want BLUE!" Blue was the $2 bottle we bought when we also bought purple several weeks ago. It turns out...$2 buys you approximately 2 hours on the fingers of an active 2-year-old. It was good and dry by the time she was released from Dad's Nail Parlor (aka the family room sofa), but it started flaking off almost immediately.

Tonight was our second attempt at a date night since we hit Ohio. You may recall that the sitter was a no-show last time. This time, the designated sitter was the same sitter who is tapped to watch the kids when I'm in Austin and Julie has some kid-related appointment or other next week. By the time she got the full run-down on where band-aids, neosporin, diapers, PJs, and everything else is located, we didn't leave until 45 minutes after she arrived.

Back up a little bit.

Julie woke up this morning saying it really hurt for her to swallow. Her throat is red, but she doesn't seem to have a fever or an upset stomach. We'd hoped the throat would improve as the day went on, but it did not.

I suggested canceling the date night. Julie's logic: "It's either going to get better or it's going to get worse. If it gets better, then we'd kick ourselves for canceling. If it gets worse, well, then I might as well enjoy myself before then."

We went to a nice restaurant called Jason's in Dublin's Old Town. We ordered semi-exotic martinis. I made a brief, yet witty toast. We sipped our drinks.

I watched my true love twist her face into a dramatic and pained grimace as she swallowed.

How romantic.

Despite her throat woes, the meal was excellent. Afterwards, we went for a little walk, and then hit Barnes and Noble to do some book browsing.

Julie's now doing a little doctor research. Our hope is that the nighttime medication she picked up will knock her out for the night, but we're bracing ourselves for an ugly week ahead.

Stay tuned...


Thursday, October 11, 2007

[Tim] Bob/Johnny --> Kris --> John/Steve --> Dan

This post isn't really an update on the Wilsons. It's just interesting music geneology that struck me this week.

As in "Dylan" and "Cash." The former was a major star in 1965 when he didn't notice the janitor emptying ashtrays in the recording studio he was workin in. The latter recorded that janitor's first big hit in 1969: "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Kristofferson. The janitor mentioned above.

Prine and Goodman. Both easily on my top 10 list of songwriters all-time. Prine writes sometimes-quirky/melancholy/humorous/political folk/bluegrass/country-rock songs: "Illegal Smile," "Sam Stone," "Spanish Pipedream," "Some Humans Ain't Human," "The Glory of True Love," (I'll stop now...). Goodman wrote a number of songs, although his most recognizable ones were made famous by bigger names, including "City of New Orleans" and "You Never Even Call Me By My Name." Goodman also graduated from high school in Chicago with Hilary Rodham Clinton -- how's THAT for trivia? Both Prine and Goodman...were discovered by Kristofferson while hanging out and performing in Chicago. Goodman, sadly, passed away when he was just 36 after battling leukemia for a number of years.

Reeder. Even if all of the above was old news, I'm guessing Dan Reeder is a new name. He's been popping up on my Pandora station (which heavily features every musician mentioned in this post, as well as Todd Snider, Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt, Warren Zevon, Arlo Guthrie, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jason Boland, and Robert Earl Keen among others) with "I'll Never Surf Again." The premise of the song is...well..a little weird. But, talk about raw, simple music and lyrics that really grab you...

He was discovered by John Prine. And the story behind THAT is just. Darn. Fascinating.

Talk about a guy who's truly livin' the dream!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

[Julie] Pruning

I am my father's child when it comes to tree trimming and pruning. When my dad helped me trim trees behind our house several years ago, I apparently was not cutting the trees back far enough. He taught me to use the "5 year" pruning plan so I wouldn't have to come back again next year to trim it again. I bought into that concept and learned to enjoy hacking away at trees and shrubs.

Today, I took care of a "little" pruning that was needed at our home in Ohio. In addition to removing a few low hanging branches that were too close to the cars, I decided to take out a very prominent bush by the driveway. It was blocking my view of the porch and blocking my view of the kids in the driveway when I was on the porch. It also got in my way whenever I would attempt to park next to it, so it needed to get drastically "trimmed". It may not survive and grow back, but I figure it can be replaced with something more suitable if I managed to kill it, which I just might have done.

Tim, however, is a little concerned. You see, four years ago, when we moved into our previous house, we had a very prominent, rather nice looking holly bush in the front of the house. It is that large green thing in front of the window.

After trying to dig Benton's soccer ball out from underneath the bush's very poky leaves, I decided that this plant was not appropriate for a family with active children. So, it had to go. It took a bit to remove it, including breaking a chain on my father-in-laws truck, but finally it was history. I placated Tim when he saw the vacant garden area with an assurance that I would plant something nice there. After discovering that the water on the roof ran directly into this area, there was no point in planting flowers unless we added gutters, which we never did. So, four years after killing the bush, there remained an unattractive muddy patch of earth, best used for mud baths.

Should the stump that remains after today's pruning not grow again, time will tell whether my plan to just "add some flowers" to this patch of earth will pan out. I really like to hack away at overgrown plants and trees and cut them back, but I am not really great about planting and growing new things. I suspect Tim has good reason to be concerned.


Taking an Experienced Birder's Advice

"Son," the grizzled retiree with the scraggly goatee and the stud in his ear said, as they stood in Lowe's pondering avian feed, "Black oil sunflower seed is the only way to go. You see this stuff over hear with this meal in it? That's worthless.

Yessir. Black oil sunflower seed. That'll bring the birds to your yard."

So, the two men loaded up a 20-lb. bag and returned to the son's new house. The previous owners had left a freestanding birdfeeder in the backyard, and the son's middle child was quickly turning into an avid avian-watcher in his own right, following in the footsteps of his paternal grandparents.

It took only a couple of weeks for the 20-lb. bag to disappear. The last of the sunflower seed had been loaded into the feeder, and the son had made a mental note that he needed to get some more.

The feeder had attracted its share of birds, certainly, and also quite a few squirrels. "Wildlife is wildlife," the son and his family concluded, so there was no point in trying to discriminate as to whom was fed and how.

A couple of days later, in the middle of the day, when only the son, his wife, and their daughter were at home, their eldest dog noticed a strange bird indeed at the feeder.


Strange bird, indeed! By golly, they had attracted an 8-pointed Deerbird! And it was BIG!


The son headed out that evening to buy a 40-lb. bag of black oil sunflower seed. And, he made plans to build a deerbird feeder in the near term as well, as he had heard that deerbirds, especially the 8-pointed variety, prefer corn.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

[Tim] Who Needs Parents?

Julie headed to a PTO meeting this evening to check it out.

Fortunately for me, Benton was in top form as a big brother. And, as usual when cousin Tyler isn't around, he's also Alana's preferred primary caregiver.

She agreed to let me change her diaper only after I promised her that Benton would help her get her PJs on. And then she insisted that he read to her.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

[Tim] I'm Just Living the Dream!

Julie's brother, Brett, told a funny story during his visit last weekend. He's a general contractor by trade and a generally personable fellow by disposition. Over the years, he has built up positive relationships with any number of contractors, subcontractors, and materials providers.

Apparently, he was in his paint guy's shop some time back and was engaged in idle small talk at the counter. The paint guy asked him how things were going -- knowing that Brett had been making a number of trips from Ohio to New York City and back to work on his brother and sister-in-law's home renovation. Brett, to this day, doesn't know what possessed him. For whatever reason, he was feeling particular hammy, so he responded by flinging his arms wide and declaring loudly, with a big grin on his face, "I'm just livin' the dream!"

At that point, Brett realized that there were at least a half-dozen other contractors in the shop milling around picking up paint supplies or waiting on their orders.

He got some funny looks.

For whatever reason, this story really stuck with me. I must have reenacted it or told the story ten times over the past week. I was in Austin for work and then wrapped up the week at the 12th Annual Columbus Day Party! just outside of town. So, I was doing a lot of catching up, and a lot of that catching up was with people who had no idea that we'd relocated to Ohio.

Somehow, "I'm just livin' the dream!" continues to be the best way to summarize my current situation: we landed in a house and a community that we thoroughly enjoy, the kids like their new school (and we like the fact that a school bus picks them up and drops them off), we're getting to see more of Julie's family, I'm having a ball at my new job and really enjoy the people there, and I'm still getting back to Austin on a regular basis. Even the negative aspect of being on the road once a month and being away from Julie and the kids has a silver lining, in that it's a regular reminder -- by Tuesday night, usuually -- as to how fortunate I've been to marry someone who is so wonderful...and then to collaborate with her to produce our entertaining little circus of kids and dogs. I've been borderline desperate to get back home by the end of a week in Austin.

So, yeah -- just livin' the dream!


Saturday, October 6, 2007

[Julie] Princess underpants - What was I thinking?

[Editor's (Tim's) Note: Julie started the post below early this month and then never got a chance to edit/proofread/complete it. Operating under the belief that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, I've taken an editing pass through the post and am going ahead and pushing it live.]

You would think, that, by the third child, a parent would know better than to utter the following to an as-yet-NOT-potty-trained two-year-old: "If you start going pee-pee on the potty, then you can start wearing princess underpants." Once Alana heard this, she immediately headed to the bathroom, stripped her diaper off and sat on the potty. 2.3 seconds (and no pee-pee) later, she got up and announced that she wanted her princess underpants. Needless to say, that was not something I could deliver, as I had not yet purchased any! Why on earth I thought she would mull over my offer and work toward using the potty -- rather than heading into the bathroom for immediate rewards -- I haven't a clue.

I was able to convince her that she needed to put her diaper back on and that underpants would be forthcoming after we had a chance to go shopping. A few days later, I picked up the underpants, and I decided to try out the cold-turkey approach to potty training. So, one morning earlier this month, Alana got to wear her princess underwear. We started with Cinderella, moved on to Belle, and finally ended up in Jasmine shortly after lunch. Suffice it to say, "cold turkey" And wet. And yellow. And on the carpet. Several carpet cleanings later, we are back in diapers with the princess underwear awaiting her successful use of the potty.

Alana has started making announcements from the back seat of the car along the lines of, "My bladder's full." Or, "I went potty. In my diaper." We'll see how that plays out.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

More Then and Now pictures

Ok -the directions Tim typed up for me so I could post to this blog are apparently dangerous in my hands, as I cannot seem to stop myself. You see, while looking at the pictures of Carson, I thought I would see what struck me as other good comparison pictures. So as not to unfairly leave Benton and Alana out of the mix, I will show off a few more comparisons for you to enjoy.

Benton - age 22 months - Winter 2001

Benton - age 8 years old - April 2007

Benton age 1 and a half years old

Alana age 1 and a half years old

So this last one does not show a lot of similiar facial features, but apparently both Benton and Alana know how to do the "bug-eyed" look when wearing pigtails (or pig "stubs").


Carson -- Then and Now

This post came about after I browsed through a few pictures on our computer. When I saw this picture of Carson, I was struck by how much the features he had as a baby (aged 15 months) are still so prevelant in his pictures at age 5 and a half years.

Carson - March 2003

Carson - July 2007


Carson and "learning to fight"

Well, after promising Carson for over a month that I would sign him up, I managed to take him to his first Tae Kwon Do class last night. It was at the Dublin Recreation center, so a relatively low-key class and a good place to try it out. The classes officially started last week, so he will have 5 classes total in this session. Here is a brief timeline of what occurred.

In August, while en route to Ohio, I stopped at the Bone's house where Bruce mentioned Tae Kwon Do as a possible thing for Carson. Scott had taken lessons growing up and it helped him with his self control - something Carson is getting better at but also something he could use some help with on occasion. Also, in talking with Cheryl, we discussed the merits of having a sport that Carson could do without Benton knowing how to do it better. So, this martial art form seemed a good place to start, especially given Carson's love of superheros and their martial art like moves.

After school yesterday, I confirmed with Carson that he wanted to go and then got a merciless interigation from Benton. Benton started by complaining about going and "wasting his evening" for which I reminded him that Carson spent several seasons of baseball finding ways to entertain himself 3 nights a week when Benton had practice. Benton then wanted to know what the purpose of Tae Kwon do was and why I wanted Carson to "learn to fight" because "you know he will do this at home and at school and get in trouble." I finally had to refuse to discuss it with Benton.

After an early dinner of left overs, we headed to the Rec Center, about a 10 minute drive. Once the class started, Carson was in his element. Benton read his book and watched intently. I also wondered off with Benton and Alana to a kids area and played a little pool with Benton while Alana took care of the baby dolls. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy it well enough. By the end of the hour, Carson was doing well and babbled all the way home about the new moves. Benton started asking some of his earlier questions and ended up wanting to know about classes for his age. Once home, Carson was required to get ready for bed before demonstrating his moves. He showed off his upper block, lower block, and snap kick. I think he is going to enjoy Mondays!

As for Alana, she will like it when Dad is home and can get her to bed on time. She was past her bedtime by the time she made it to bed. Teeth brushing was a little bit of a struggle, but Mom won. Her cuteness today included asking "Can I have some crackers now?" I responded "Yes, you may." Alana replied "Yes, me may!"

As for this evening, well it was rather angelic. This is not a term I get to use too often with our evenings, especially when Tim is in Austin for the week. Once home from school, the boys had snack and did homework. We then headed outside where Benton took charge of entertaining Alana for about an hour and a half while Carson played on and off by himself, with me or with his sibilings. In the end, they begged to have dinner picnic-style on the grassy area in the cul de sac, so I caved and brought out the meal. It was a fun time and in the end, everyone headed up to get ready for bed and cooperated throughout the end of the day rituals.

Tomorrow, after Benton catches the bus to school, it is off to the zoo for Alana and Carson. We have a playdate with one of Carson's classmates. Tomorrow night is MY time as I have a babysitter coming after dinner so I run a few errands.

Bon soir!