Monday, March 31, 2008

Birmingham Visit

This past weekend we made the trek down to Birmingham to visit family and sites, of which there are many of both in Alabama and Tennessee. I'll do a more comprehensive post once we return, but here are a few highlights thus far.

1. Erin got to eat in her first truck stop. (Here's a shout out to my good buddies at The Tennessian in Cornersville, Tennessee! 10-4...breaker breaker...whatever...)

2. Hanging out with Grant's cousins at a T-ball game. I was dismayed that they didn't keep score and you got to take as many swings as necessary to connect with the ball. What's wrong with these people? I'd have benched half of those kids in the first inning.


3. Driving all over the South with the world's cutest baby...


I'll post more once we return. There have been some bizzaro experiences...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Music List

Just so you know, I'm under no delusion that anyone reading our blog actually cares what music I listen to or like. But another website that I frequent was having people submit their favorite album from each year since the beginning of time (better known as the 1950's), so I put my list together. I figured I'd post it here for anyone who's curious. Feel free to make fun of me.

I would like it noted that the presence of three Kingston Trio albums can be seen as either a) the influence of my dad on my music taste or b) the dearth of good music from 1958-1962. Since I like a lot of other stuff from that era, I'll go with a).

And yes, R.E.M. really were that good in the 1980's. They would have made a 6 year sweep if Zen Arcade hadn't come out in the mean time. (Actually 1988 should have probably gone to Surfer Rosa by the Pixies, but the cover features a partially nekkid woman, so I figured Erin would make me change it. Imagine...Censored by a journalism teacher...sheesh...)

Each album also has a link to its picture, review, clips, etc on Allmusic.com, just to prove that somebody else actually likes this stuff...

1957 - Buddy Holly - The 'Chirping' Crickets
1958 - The Kingston Trio - The Kingston Trio
1959 - The Kingston Trio - At Large
1960 - The Everly Brothers - The Fabulous Style
1961 - The Kingston Trio - Close Up
1962 - Peter, Paul & Mary - Peter, Paul & Mary
1963 - The Beatles - Please Please Me
1964 - Jan & Dean - Dead Man's Curve / New Girl in School
1965 - The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man
1966 - The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
1967 - The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday
1968 - The Kinks - Village Green Preservation Society
1969 - The Beatles - Abbey Road
1970 - Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
1971 - The Who - Who's Next
1972 - Big Star - #1 Record
1973 - Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets
1974 - Big Star - Radio City
1975 - Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
1976 - Kansas - Leftoverture
1977 - Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick
1978 - Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight
1979 - XTC - Drums and Wires
1980 - The Jam - Sound Affects
1981 - Mission Of Burma - Signals, Calls and Marches
1982 - Duran Duran - Rio
1983 - R.E.M. - Murmur
1984 - Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
1985 - R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction
1986 - R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant
1987 - R.E.M. - Document
1988 - R.E.M. - Green
1989 - The Cure - Disintegration
1990 - The Beautiful South - Choke
1991 - My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
1992 - Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
1993 - The Posies - Frosting on the Beater
1994 - Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
1995 - Pavement - Wowee Zowee
1996 - Manic Street Preachers - Everything Must Go
1997 - Radiohead - OK Computer
1998 - Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
1999 - The Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Animation Music
2000 - The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious
2001 - The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
2002 - Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
2003 - The Wrens - The Meadowlands
2004 - Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
2005 - The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
2006 - Mission Of Burma - The Obliterati
2007 - Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Diff'rent Strokes

The longer Erin and I have been married, the more apparent it has become that we grew up in different worlds. Now the obvious difference is that I grew up here in the midwest with our hometown values and Bible-belt sensibilities, while she grew up in California.

But the differences run deeper than that. It seems to me that Erin somehow missed out on some of what we Hoosiers would consider "the finer things."

1. Erin grew up eating avacados and hummus (which my dear mother pronounces like the Islamic group). I grew up eating baloney sandwiches. She also never ate Spaghetti O's or American cheese. I repeatedly am given a lecture about how American cheese isn't really a cheese. Whatever.

2. Erin got to go to Disneyland "all the time." In Indiana, elementary school kids would sell their kidneys for a trip to Disney World. (Nobody here even knew DisneyLAND existed.)

3. I grew up listening to my parent's music from the 60's. Erin didn't know who Simon & Garfunkel were until we got married. Oy. (Incidentally she did know all the lyrics to every "song" ever released by Salt 'n' Pepa.)

4. Erin and her mom were very, uh, open in talking about, uh, what happens when people, er, go to, uh, bed with each other. I was born through spontaneous combustion. That's all I needed to know.

5. I got to ride my bike throughout the neighborhoods surrounding my own for hours at a time. Erin got to make one loop. And she carried a handgun.

This list is endless, really. I'm sure this isn't the last post on this topic.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lucky Night


The whole time--that he was "eating" his ice cream cone--he had a look that said, "Did you know you gave this to me? This wonderful thing with sugar... you gave it to me, right?"

Thanks for the pics, Kate.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter





Happy Easter! Despite the frigid temps yesterday, we all headed to church. I know that God loves me, but during the Easter season, that message of love is loud and clear. So thankful!

Grant, who is just a tad too young to get the whole hunt for eggs idea, settled for fisting a few eggs and a rubber gumby-like rabbit toy. Next year, he'll be at a perfect age. I did discover, while talking to some friends at church, that I have been robbed. They all mentioned that their Easter egg hunts as kids involved the plastic eggs, and those eggs were filled... with money! One girl became indignant (I was incensed myself), and she declared, "Money? I was robbed. Mine were only filled with candy!"

Candy? How about not filled AT ALL!! I searched for hard boiled eggs, usually 11 or so as one was most likely dropped during the decorating. Candy? Money? Easter Egg hunts outdoors? Am I missing something? I searched for the stinky eggs around our house where they were hiding--without money or candy--in plant dirt and under rugs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Crazy Days

It's funny the things you notice yourself doing as you get older. This afternoon, I went into the bathroom. (I'll pause here. I realize there's a large percentage of you going, "Oh no. Another bathroom story.")

Anyway, I went into the bathroom to tuck my shirt in. I simply slipped into one of the stalls, loosened my belt and slacks (since I'm now in my 30's, they're slacks, not jeans, right?), pulled my shirt tail out, repositioned it, and carefully placed it back in its assigned place. I then buttoned up, prettied myself in the mirror and went on my merry way.

This was concerning to me due to the fact that this resurrected memories of my father doing something similar. As a kid, I can remember my dad entering our kitchen after work and performing the same general set of steps in front of mom and everyone, while discussing what was for dinner as she slaved over something on the stove.

I can remember staring at him as his pants hit his knees thinking, "Why the hell is he dropping his pants in the kitchen?" and "Why are we talking about dinner? Pull your damn pants up!" Now I understand, and it appears that I now have something else with which to bond with my father. Thanks, dad.

I also noted this week that my perception on what constitutes a "crazy day" is changing as I get older. What I'm finding is that it takes a great deal more for a day to qualify as "crazy" now, with child, than it did a couple of years ago.

My mom informed my wife that she'd had a "crazy day" babysitting Grant a couple of days ago. Now for this term, "crazy," to qualify for Erin and me, there has to be an event requiring either an insurance claim or an ambulance. Otherwise, it ain't crazy.

What qualified as crazy for my dear, retired-other-than-babysittin' mom? Grant spit up on himself and then later she spilled a little milk on our kitchen floor (which is hardwood, and didn't therefore even require much cleaning.)

I long for those kind of "crazy" days.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Darwin Award

My wife frequently notes that I expend much more energy on these pages discussing her faults than I do my own. Therefore this entry is a brief attempt to even the score...for this week.

Erin has started a new diet over the past few days, therefore I'm doing what I can to rid the freezer of all remaining dairy treats. This includes various popsicles, Klondike bars, ice creams, and sherbets. Last night I decided to have a few scoops of rainbow sherbet. I grabbed the scoop, ran hot water on it, and scooped out 2 or 6 scoops (who's counting?).

As I began to throw the scoop in the sink, I noted a tablespoon's worth of sherbet left in the scoop, so I put the scoop in my mouth to get that last bit. At this point, I began an exact reenactment of that scene in "A Christmas Story" where the kid becomes attached to the icy flag pole.

It didn't occur to me that this would happen (obviously). I had warmed the scoop prior to use, and the sherbet wasn't sticking (initially) to the thing, so I figured I was safe. When I noticed that the scoop appeared to be sticking to my lip just a bit, I did the natural manly thing and gave the scoop a good yank.

I noted a sort of burning sensation in my mouth as I did this, but didn't think much of it. I sat down to eat my sherbet and noticed that with each bite, a new kind of red colored sherbet was forming in the cup. At this point I checked my mouth with my hand and discovered that I was bleeding profusely, having left a good portion of the left side of my lower lip on the ice cream scoop.

After spending last night trying to stop the bleeding, I awakened this morning to discover that I have a nice fat lip from the incident. Erin's sympathy ran just deep enough to inform me that I'm a moron. Sometimes she's right.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fro-tastic

video

I love when his hair is all picked out into a little afro-poof. He's just too cute!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a few pics from the last few weeks



Grant has two new things he does that make my all time favorite list:

1. If you give him a stuffed animal, he holds it like a baby and pats it on the back. This skill has translated to people as well. Now, when I pick up Grant, he sometimes pats my back with his hand. His own little love pat. I die of happiness.

2. The most constant of new tricks in our house is the "question"? Grant has asked for months, "What's that?" But now, when he wants to know why, who or any of those types of questions, he holds his arms up. Here's a pic to explain:


Again, could he be any cuter?

Too Cute!

video

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grant and MaMa

That's me. MaMa. Grant says it like this: "Ma.......(wait 5 seconds)... ma."

I just came home from work, made four pounds of spaghetti (half for us, half for a couple in our house church who just had a baby), somehow managed to spill salsa all over the fridge (and get it in my eye... which hurts, in case you're wondering), and right now, I'm listening to Grant's soft baby ramblings as he drifts off to sleep. I'm tired. Really, really tired.

Last night was our last night at gymboree. The center close to us is closing, but if we want to drive to the other side of town, we're golden. No thanks. We'll take advantage of the free toddler class at the library now that it's warm enough to play outside.

Here's a few pics from our last class.

(you think Grant loves you until you see him with Mrs. Megan. Grant LOVES Mrs. Megan. LOVES).

In other Grant news (for the sake of journal keeping for future reference):

1. He LOVES the "this is the church, this is the steeple" hand game. LOVES. He tries to do it which is really cute.

2. He also tries all the hand motions to both "Twinkle, Twinkle" and the "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" (which for some strange and stubborn reason my mom insists is the "inky-dinky spider").

3. He is one "spirited" kid. Spirited, of course, means sweet and lovable. I hope that's what he thinks it means when I call him "a pill." Sometimes, these days, I need a pill. A real one with lots of medicinal help.

4. He still makes his animal sounds: snake, cow, lion and fish top the list. He still loves to shake his head "no" like his mommy. I still haven't decided to get Grandma back for that one. YET. He just added sheep to his list, but it's less than perfected.
5. His list of words is growing slowly: socks, mama, dada, uh-oh, book and his all time favorite (hear it 50 billion times a day)... what's that?

6. He's not a picky eater... but he still hates texture. He'll spit out a cookie because he doesn't like the way it feels. We hope he comes around soon, but food is a big issue in our house these days.

7. Grant pulls up on everything, but still, no sign of first steps by himself. No hurry. He's "spirited" now, so I can't imagine what he'll be like when he can outrun ma........... ma.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

There Will Be Blood

OK, so now that we've introduced all of Erin's family to each other...

When I was in the 8th grade, my family took a three week vacation to Europe with the Indianapolis Children's Choir. (I was a founding member of this fine organization, which now includes approximately 2 million kids in a 6 state range. When I was in it, there were 4 choirs. Now they have one choir specifically for kids between the ages of 6 and 6-1/2 who sing through a mechanical voicebox like a robot. It's amazing...)

Anyway, last night after dinner, I suggested that Erin had never seen the pictures from this trip. I inquired as to where the pictures were stored, and my mom informed me that she kept them under the sink in the bathroom. I'm proud that my mom treasures our family history enough to leave it beneath a set of 40 year old pipes.

Dad quickly lept to his feet and returned a short time later with a projector, screen, and a moldy box of slides. Why slides, you ask? Excellent question. I have no clue. The trip was back in the late 80's, and while there weren't digital cameras or the Internet, we also weren't limited to slides. I suppose it's a better option than a box full of tintypes, but not by much.

I was somewhat shocked that my parents still owned an actual projector and screen. I suppose when you've got the space in your attic for your kid's placentas, you've got room for a projector. (For those who haven't heard the story, my parent's are both science teachers. You can make your own joke about the scarring effects of discovering remnants of your own birth while searching for Christmas lights.)

After setting up the projector, dad whipped out the first canister of slides and threw them into the machine. We saw approximately 2 and a half slides of London before the projector jammed. This made us all laugh, because we all have fond memories of my grandfather desparately trying to show us slides of family vacations while continually fighting a jammed projector. His solution was always to stick something sharp and metal into the still-powered projector in an effort to free the stuck slide. This always made us laugh and wait for the inevitable electrocution.

Without any sense of irony, my dad immediately began searching for something sharp and metal to perform a similar operation. His first attempt at fixing the projector only took a couple of minutes. After a couple more slides from England and Whales, we moved on to France. Apparently the projector didn't dig the French, because it immediately jammed again. After spending a few unsuccessful minutes trying to fix the stuck projector, dad gave the back of the canister of slides a good whack.

This did appear to move the canister, at least part of it. The canister began to bend while still attached to the projector. After a couple more good whacks, the slides sprayed out of the canister and onto the floor, leaving a mangled shell of the canister which previously held them. As dad began cleaning up the slides and preparing to move onto the next batch, I noticed that there was blood on the side of the projector.

Another trait of my grandfather's was that he could injure himself doing virtually anything. He was a doctor and performing minor surgeries on himself didn't apparently bother him, because he routinely had to reattach various appendages to himself after making basic household repairs. With this in mind, it was no surprise that there was blood on dad's projector at this point.

I inquired about the blood, at which point we all noticed that dad had a large slice in the side of his hand where he had fought with the slides and lost. Rather than clean his wound, or even admit its presence, we moved on to Germany and Austria. Two more slides, blammo. At this point, Grant was becoming weary of the whole event, so we had to begin packing. I felt bad leaving my folks with a pile of slides and a busted projector, but I feared that if we stayed, I'd be asked to "hold the flashlight." And that's a whole other post.

And also, for those who are interested, here's a link to a little news from the homeland. Make sure you read all the way to the end of the story. Thanks to my aunt and uncle for the tip. There's strange things afoot in Southern Indiana.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another New Blog and the Beauty of Adoption

I have another new family member to add to my list of bloggers: James and Kathy David. And guess what... they're adopting a sibling group (a set of siblings--2 or 3, right?). Congrats!

Welcome to the blogging world, folks!

Okay, Taylor family... it's time for you to start too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cousin Stalkers

I've already admitted that I have a problem.

Truth be told, I have about 15 blogs I check with some (read: daily) frequency. In our amish-no-cable-on-a-strict-budget household, I find myself wandering from one blog to another. I don't surf randomly. Rather, it starts like this: I check a blog of a relative or close friend. Let's say I visit my cousin's blog (Holdridge Clan: it has to be scary how many hits you have from Indiana, huh?). I read; I watch a video; I laugh or smirk. But then, if I've got five minutes on my hands, I'll start viewing the blogs he has listed of his friends. I don't check his friends' blogs with any regularity, but they do pass the time from time to time. I don't know his friends, have never met them, but about every three months or so, I stumble upon their pages and catch up with anything I find interesting (who knew there was a Gap Baby Model Search Grant could have won).

But, admitting that I'm a major nerd-stalker is not the purpose of this post.

You see, this last Christmas, we were all hanging out with Bret's family down in Bedford (you always have to say "down in" when you refer to Bedford; that's a rule in my book about Southern Indiana I'll write some day). Grant and I were playing in the corner, when I heard the following statement come out of one of Bret's relatives (you know who you are... but you'll remain nameless for now): "Yeah, it was funny how he called her belly a torpedo. She is so little, so she's all baby." I thought that sounded familiar. But then, I heard, "and those girls, they are just too cute. Violet and Lauren, what great names."

It was at that moment that I realized I wasn't alone in blog stalking geekdom. Bret's family members were talking about my family members, and somehow this crazy thing called the internet had made the world a little bit smaller.

So, I've got a new blog to add to my list. My other cousin couple--Bryna and Riley--also have these adorable, pinchable kids, and they've just decided to join the blog world. Like the Holdridge Clan, they also live out in gorgeous Monterey, California, and yes, like the Holdridge Clan, they are beautiful, beautiful people (inside and out). Though, they are all really good looking out there, huh? I totally got shafted on the good genes.

So for our friends and family out there who frequent our blog, there's a new link in our list of people you should visit. We'll talk about them (in a good way) over Easter dinner. Bryna and Riley's Blog

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Proof

I just sat through a meeting with some fellow engineers where much time was spent on "how people use products."

Basically we were just discussing how the everyman (wasn't this the term that got Ford in trouble with the Edsel?) chooses and uses various electronic gadgets in the home. What I discovered during the course of the meeting was just further proof that engineers exist in a world all their own.

For example, many engineers can't be bothered to tuck in their shirts or take a bath with any regularity, but they will spend countless hours choosing what quality of cable should run from their DVD players to their TVs. Who else cares?

Some engineers consider themselves "just like any other user" of electronics, but does anyone else actually care about the quality with which the chip resistors are soldered to the main board of their TV?

Has the phrase "fieldtrip to Fry's" been uttered in any other boardroom?

Do people in other professions drink their beverages, hot, cold, caffeinated or otherwise, in nothing less than two liter quantities?

Are most people able to reference their computers by their location in the home (i.e. the computer in the kitchen, the computer in the office, the computer next to the toilet)?

When asked by the sales guy if they require help, do most people threaten violence? Engineers would sooner steal electronics than be assisted in buying them.

I'm continually awed by engineers. There's geeky, but this is a whole new level. I'm confident that if we truly want to design products for "the everyman," engineers should probably not be able to use them at all. Or at least not without some major irritation.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Sheets

I've had it.

It's been a long running battle, and now I'm choosing to either cede defeat or at least try something completely new.

Since we've been married, Erin and I have battled over the sheets on our bed. We have a fundamental difference in philosophies. I like to sleep under sheets (like a normal human being) while Erin likes to wrap up in a comforter. This wouldn't seem like a huge dilema, but it is.

The problem is that in the past, Erin has placed normal king sized sheets over our bed, and then about 10 minutes after we go to bed, she throws her sheets off onto my head and snuggles up in her comforter. She's all snuggily while I'm suffucating trying to get half a set of king sized sheets off of my head.

We've tried numerous things. Her favorite solution is to simply start with her side of the sheets piled in the middle of the bed, but if I sleep on my back, as I frequently do, this leaves my left arm approximately a foot higher than the rest of my body, since it's resting on all her sheets. Her latest solution was to simply put the sheets only on my side of the bed, leaving her half of the sheets hanging off my side of the bed. This worked for one night, until the weight of the sheets on the floor pulled my sheets off and left me bare, laying in a freezing, shivering heap in my own bed.

I finally suggested this morning that it was perhaps time for me to buy my own house. Or at least a shed out back to sleep in.

Suggestions? Neither of us has slept well in five years. Something's gotta give.