girls can like rockets

Tuesday work worked me.

After doing my usual cramming of two days into one, working through lunch as is typical these days, I decided to pack up and leave shortly after 4pm.  I wanted to leave early because I had some “work/life balance” errands I wanted to run.  Namely, it’d been far too long since I’d randomly brought home flowers and chocolate to my wife.  I also had been wanting to pick up a particular gift for Keaton for a while, and figured I could kill to birds with one stone and be cheered upon my homecoming as some benevolent springtime Santa Claus.  So I stopped and got some midrange spring arrangement and walked in with it.  They look nice, as much as my male opinion is valid here, in the vase on the kitchen table.

Prior to getting the flowers I made a stop at the local hobby shop to pickup the gift I wanted for Keaton.  See, last week I got this crazy idea that it would be fun to build, decorate, and launch a model rocket with her.  My brother and I used to do this with my dad, and I know it’s typically a “guy thing” but I thought she’d get a real kick out of it.  I bought a starter kit with all the junk one needs to blast the things into the air, and made sure to pick up a can of pink spraypaint and a purple paint marker so we can do some fancy decorating around the Disney princess stickers we’ll surely affix to it.  So yes she’s a little young,  but how cool will it be for her to do the countdown for SpacePrincess One and hit the trigger to launch it?  Then we get to chase after the thing as it drifts back down; I’m pumped.

What?  The rocket thing is just something I wanted to do and Keaton would’ve rather had a 3rd dollhouse instead?  Well… maybe so but too bad… we’re gonna father/daughter bond with this rocket.  We are!


winner winner (and a chicken dinner (for real))

Good Monday to ya, online friends.  Hope your Easter weekend was relaxing and whatnot; ours was.

For her birthday Keaton got a “toddler cookbook” from friends.  It has a small selection of fun recipes which kids can help with.  Since she and I have a history of enjoying cooking and baking together, we’ve been anxious to try it out.  So on Saturday morning we paged through looking for something to cook for Sharaun that evening.  We settled on cheesy bread rolls, which we’d serve as an appetizer, and chicken satay skewers, which would be our entree.  We told mom we’d be cooking dinner and even made up a fancy menu and lavishly set the table.  We went on a shopping trip together for a few ingredients we were short on, and then we set about cooking.

Even though it’s a toddler cookbook, the recipes are fairly demanding in time and prep.  I actually liked it, because Keaton got an idea of how much time can go into creating something yummy.  We did the biscuits from scratch, kneading and rolling the dough by hand and then leaving the rolls to proof while we worked on the chicken.  She learned to how juice a lime, grate ginger, dredge chicken, and even stir a sauce while simmering.  She also learned that the cheesy bread roll sheet is hot when it comes out of the oven, and you get burned if you touch it (a good lesson, despite of, or maybe in owed to, the pain).  Anyway, it was a truly fun thing to do together and, as much as dad’s opinion counts, the cookbook was far and away her best birthday gift.

If your eyes work and you feel like it, you can check out some pictures of the fine dining and prepwork just below.  Despite  her apparent absence, Sharaun was indeed the guest of honor and was there… she somehow just managed to stay out of any photographic evidence.

OK let us move along.

Ever since I told Sharaun that Black Eyed Peas tickets weren’t in the budget this month, she’s been on a quest to win them from the radio.  Her track record here is quite good, so I was pretty sure she’d actually end up scoring them.  She called all day long all week long, and I suffered an entire Saturday listening over and over and over again to same stinking seven songs that the stupid radio has in heavy rotation while she tried and tried again.  She even enlisted me to help, and I’d dial and hangup and dial and hangup and dial and hangup right alongside her when she’d hear the cue to call.  In the end, though, around 11:30pm that day, she (of course) did win the tickets.  I half wish the lottery did call-in shows; I’m reasonably confident she could win us millions if they only gave it away over the phone…

Check out her winning moment below:


When she decides she’s going to win, she wins.
(direct link for those on mobile devices without Flash)

I really should start keeping an index of things that are given away this way… and have her start doing it more strategically… I think we’d have to start claiming winnings on our taxes.


fix some sprinklers before going into work

Last night Sharaun and I laid in bed until 2am, talking.

Been a while since we’ve done that, actually.  But sometimes the best time for just talking is when there’s not much else that’s doable (six months pregnant… remember?).  When the mind is tired and everything else has already been thought about or talking about or watched or read or listened to.  Being up so late and being tired and knowing I should be asleep but wanting to continue our conversation reminded me of way back when we were dating.  Sharaun would sneak the phone into her room and we’d literally talk all night.  Wasn’t all night last night or anything, but for an old man like me who has to wake up at 6:30am to fix some sprinklers before going into work… it’s close.

The weather has been so fantastic here lately.  Warm, sunny.  Things are green and budding.  The grapes Keaton and I planted are already putting out nice thick growth and we’ll be training the strongest of them to wires this weekend.  The fruit trees are all flowers and buds, aside from the orange tree which, despite showing strong growth and having a good healthy look, just doesn’t seem to want to flower.  The blueberry starts we planted only a month ago are full of leaves and the raspberry a friend gifted me from his lot seems to be taking to its new home.  Driving home from work today with the windows down I decided that I’m going to try and start biking to work again come Monday.  I’m done saying I’m going to make it an everyday thing, I never have and obviously won’t… but I’ll do it again when I can.

I think it’s time to go to bed now.  It’s dark and I seem to be done writing.  Usually those are signs.  In the end I’ll just noodle around online until Sharaun makes her move and end up following her.  She mostly leads on the “time for bed” thing.  And I’m still not writing right.


three books

I feel like this week is slow.  I’m stuck in amber and it’s a monumental effort just to get from bed to work to bed again in the cycle of day.  Sounds bad but I don’t intend it to.  I like slow.  Gives me time to think; feels like more hours in the day; makes me more productive.

Keaton apparently had some mega-fit, a fit to end all fits if you hear Sharaun tell it, Monday afternoon just before I got home from work.  Sharaun described it as topping the Disneyland tantrum.  That scar is still pink and puckered on my brain.  I was there for the Disneyland tantrum, I can vividly recall the delirium and the madness and the emotion.  I know how bad Disneyland was, I lived it.  And like veterans of America’s so-called “greatest generation” will spit on the ground and call us young folks “soft” and “pampered,” having weathered that tempest of awful behavior I think I know a thing or two about fits and their relative severity.  So for this fit, which I’ll call the grocery store fit, to best that… well, hell… that would certainly be something.

I mean I believe her.  She has no reason to exaggerate.  We have no contest of parenting one-upmanship whereby she’d be chalking up another mark in her column or anything.  So I can only take her on her word – this must have been a humdinger of a fit.  Part of what scares me, though, friends, is that I think we’re still just getting started here.  Disneyland, while still my high-water mark, will no doubt be eclipsed in time by something else; something that much worse in it’s own time.  And then again something else.  And again.  I don’t mean to say that I expect our wonderful daughter’s behavior to be a runaway truck or anything, a white dwarf compacting its way to nova or something… I only mean to say I’d be silly not to expect additional potholes on this road.  Things always seem seem worse in-the-moment and not-so-bad after the blessing of years; maybe I just mean to say that eventually all  passé  “old fits” will in time be replaced  by some nouveau “new fit.”

Sharaun pegged the epicenter, the Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, as a denied ride on the outside of the shopping cart.  Apparently this is a sometimes treat that she grants on some type of special occasion at one certain store… something about a carpeted area where she allows this sort of risky cart-ride if the whim hits.  Wherever that special place is, it’s not the grocery store parking lot and Sharaun told Keaton as much in answer to her request.  Like the tiny sunburst an errant rock makes in your windshield; like the long, thin lateral lines that appear in a snowdrift; a series of tremors at the base of a volcano – Keaton’s initial displeasure was but a harbinger of the coming storm.

OK so again I wasn’t there and I don’t know how bad it really was.  I’m trying to pretend I was though; trying to write like I was or put myself in her place or something.  I think they call it “identifying with your subject.”  Or, I imagine they’d call it something like that in journalism school or creative writing.  We were both there for Disneyland, and Sharaun swears this grocery store thing was worse, so I think I can somewhat accurately place it on the scale in my head.  I just do that and try to write from there, as if I were part of it when it actually went down.  Were I truly present I could likely flesh out this story with personal anecdote or some details about the parking lot or the shopping cart.  Instead I resort to cheap paragraphs about how I’m writing about it having not experienced it.  There; good.

Anyway the storm came and Sharaun called it nearly unbearable.  A screaming, crying throw-down against all things holy the whole trip through the store.  “Everyone was looking,” she moaned, tortured by the retelling.  “I restrained myself,” she said, “But I kept thinking, ‘Oh, if David were here he’d spank her right in front of all these people.'”  Boy, I didn’t realize I’m that heavy-handed.  This Disneyland thing really has marred my reputation. I swear violence is my absolute last option.  My spanking hand does not have a hair trigger.  But still, I fear she may be right in her thoughts.  Worse than Disneyland, and all the more “public” to boot?  Yes sir I may indeed have spanked her right there… although I can already tell you that in the alternate universe where it was me at the grocery store and I did spank her, it didn’t help a lick and, in fact, made things quite worse.

She did, in the end, restrain herself.  She continued her shopping undaunted.  Went right down the list anyway amidst Keaton screaming her head off and thrashing around in the cart.  For that I’m infinitely proud of her.  A small victory maybe, but I like to think at least one or two of those people looking on – even while mortifying her and very likely causing her to question her very mettle as a child-rearer – I like to think at least one or two of them did so as their backs straighten in solidarity.  “You do it, fellow parent.  You don’t take that.  You go right on with your business, go right on shopping.  Do what you need to do and let the kid bawl and whine.  With raised-fist I’m with you.”  I tried to explain this notion to Sharaun but it was lost in the rawness of her embarrassment.  I did tell her though that I was proud of her for not giving up on or rushing her errand because of it all.  And I really am.

Oh and the punishment.  Poor Keaton.  Never before has the toy room simply been “closed.”  I mean, it’s the room with all the toys.  For an almost-four year old what else is there but toys?  I found this all out upon arriving home that night… Keaton’s eyes still red and puffed from tears and Sharaun screwed up tight.  She got three books.  Three books and that’s it.  She didn’t even get to pick them, I’m sure a final rankling indignity in her eyes.  Three books and everything else was sealed off in the toy room, entombed.  The doors stand closed and the light is off and the blinds are drawn.  I heard about the punishment from a huffy Keaton before I heard about the reason for it from Sharaun, she caught me at the door on my way in.  “Wow,” I thought.  Sealing off the toy room… this must be something big.

Two days without toys or TV.  Three books and that’s it.  Yeah I’m proud of my wife.  She’s doing a great job with that girl and I’d be hurting without her consistency.


i should be able to pull it off

Happy Wednesday already internet.

I don’t know where this week is going, but I’d like to change the posted speed limit or at least get it to pay attention or something.  I need just a few more than five days this time to get things done but I’m somewhat unwilling to give of my personal time just yet.  Oh that day will come, each project at the sawmill exacts its slow-times revenge with requisite after-hours work at some point… I’m just not ready to yield even bits of my evenings quite yet.

I didn’t have a lot of options this morning.  The laundry situation was dire.  I don’t say this as a marital indictment, our recent travel is to blame.  Feeling creative, I set about scavenging an outfit.  After assembly and a quick mirror test I walked into the house proper where Sharaun was busily preparing breakfast for Keaton and coffee for herself (that’s allowed with a baby in-progress, right?).  My wife then looked at me askew, cocked her head inquisitively while taking in my wardrobe decision and said, quite matter-of-factly, “It’s not your best outfit, but you don’t have to go change.”  To her answer of my unasked question I laughed and said, simply, “Thanks.”

Don’t think this shook me, folks.  No don’t pity me the belittled man.  No way man, I’m the kind who easily suffers a factual judgment or criticism.  You remember that when you really want to tell me something but are afraid to, OK?  I can take a punch.  And anyway, I was actually pretty proud of my creation.  I don’t have a picture so I’ll word it out to you.  Black dress slacks, matching black shoes and socks, and very dark and very bright (if that makes sense) blue button-down long-sleeve dress shirt.  The kind of blue that’s just bang-for-sure primary blue.  As blue as it gets.  Over that blue shirt I donned a white sweater I have.  It has little white braids down it in vertical stripes as decoration or dress-up.  I wore this such that the only place you could see my Crayola blue dress shirt was up top and the neck where the collars popped out from under the sweater.  I’ve always wanted to wear a dress shirt under a sweater in this way… it some how looks scholarly to me.  Like something Professor College would wear.

So I don’t know folks.  Maybe it was the combination of bright white, stark black, and this vibrant blue.  Maybe it was the sweater itself, I got a couple more jabs on it later in the day – I think it’s the white braidwork.  Or maybe just the white in general.  A white sweater is somewhat non-standard I suppose. I see other people at work rocking this shirt-under-sweater look with success (or at least to what I deem success) – I feel like I should also be able to pull it off.


a saturday to remember

Two-thousand ten.

Hard to believe that Sharaun and I will be married ten years this year. Veterans. Pillars. So long together now, if you count the years we dated (subtracting that self-imposed “break” around ’95 that she won’t let me talk about much), that I’ve been with her as long as I haven’t. Sixteen years without, seventeen with. Something to be said for longevity – and perhaps forgiveness and long-suffering too – I suppose.  I know, this paragraph reaches for continuity… but those ten years are the first thing I think of when I think about how it’s now two-thousand ten.  That, and that Keaton will be four and I’ll have been ten years at my job.  Or, is a “career” now?  When does that line get crossed?

Ten years.

I read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for the first time over the weekend. Made me half wish I could spend a year drinking my way around Europe, bankrupting myself halfheartedly chasing fleeting passions, having impossible conversations with a cadre of equally sloshed and disenfranchised comrades. But in addition to daydreaming about being part of the perennially-tight “lost generation,” reading the book piqued my interest in good literature again.  I found myself once again wanting to read.  I made a trip to a couple used book stores in town on Saturday, but came up short.  A visit to the library was disappointingly equally unsuccessful.  Not to say there wasn’t plenty of good reading to be had at each stop, just that I couldn’t find a single one of the ten or so tomes I’d set out to acquire.

Then I wondered about downloading books… maybe reading them on my iPhone or something.  At first, I wrote off the idea as stupid.  Who’d want to read from a screen, let alone a screen as small as the iPhone’s?  But, later that night as I lay in bed I decided to re-download the Stanza application for the phone.  As a test, I grabbed a free book from Project Gutenburg – Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  At right around 100 printed pages I figured it’d be short enough to use as test.  Stayed up reading it in bed and, as I finger-flipped the last “page” I realized that, yes, I think I could read books on my phone.  I immediately set about finding some of the stuff I’d been out amongst the brick-and-mortar searching for.  Oh, it’s all there, but unfortunately most of the works carry a prohibitive pricetag.

In short order, however, I found a way “around” that and was able to load up my phone with all manner of classic  and “modern classic” literature.  I’m actually pretty excited to have a pocketful of good books with me at any time.  Now to see if I can truly adapt to reading things this way… I’ll keep you posted.

A couple paragraphs I wrote on the iPhone over the course of the weekend, to round things out:

Saturday we woke with an idea at grand plans on the day. Something as a family, something fun for Keaton. We took our time in the morning. I made coffee and Sharaun and Keaton had cereal. I read a little. By and by it was 10am and we thought we’d better firm up plans. 11am and some discussion later and we were no closer to anything material. We ate lunch and after that everything fizzled. We played a few games of memory together and ended up running errands and shopping for dinner. A Saturday to remember. Maybe next weekend.

Work begins back this week after what feels like a fantastically drawn out hiatus. I’m not exactly eager. I feel a bit too disconnected from what’s going on. I’ve felt this way before and it always passes naturally as I wade back in. Not sure where to get started, but it’s coming up on annual review time and I guess that’s about as important a piece of work as you can dig into. A good start, I suppose, to numb me back into the day-to-day of corporate infinity.


fleeting festivity

Last day of 2009.

Goodbye year.

Still 50% zeroes though. Another year until positive numbers regain the majority; a-hundred-and-one more and I predict the zeroes will be nearly extinct altogether.

I took down the Christmas stuff today. House-hung accoutrements, tree and all the trimmings, and various knickknacks. Did it all by myself; motions mirrored and reversed from my lonesome assembly only weeks ago. Sharaun was alternately busy and sleeping, and so couldn’t lend a hand. Boxed it all up and moved it back to its resting place high on a garage shelf. It’s good to put the Christmas high, you only need to reach it once a year so it’s not a pain.

It had to go, though. If you don’t get the Christmas stuff out early enough, give it enough life during December, the festivity is just too fleeting. Like going camping for one night it’s all setup and teardown. I’d have preferred this not to have been a solitary thing, but the tree had been goading me and I broke under the strain. Just sitting over in the corner glowing cheerily and multi-colored, growing more out-of-season with each passing minute, taunting me that it’d still be standing come 2010. Not this year tree. Not this year.

Someone needs to sweep up or vacuum the fake plastic pine needles now, though. They litter the floor, both the new hardwood and the carpet in the adjacent toy room.

The floor. Sharaun’s dislike for it seems to grow stronger by the week. I finally said to her today, “I don’t think you know how bad it makes me feel to hear you constantly ‘tsking‘ over each and every minute surface mar on this floor. I need to let you know that it pains me to think we spent this much on something you might hate.” Earnest appeals fell on deaf ears, however, getting something crushing in return like, “It makes me feel bad too; I wish we would’ve spent the money on something else or got laminate instead of this ‘soft’ hardwood.” Ouch.

I try not to make it a fight but it’s hard. Instead I settle for saying, simply, that I really like the floor. I comment often on how much better I think it makes the place look. Maybe I can at least keep the scales level if I say enough positive things. Balance it out. Some yin for some yang.

I don’t know why, but I take her disliking the floor so much almost as an affront to my ability to “provide.” I know it’s not like I felled the trees, planed out boards, scraped and stained the planks and set them down in rows myself… yet her derision makes me feel a poor decision-maker. Maybe it’s the ostensibly misdirected investment. Maybe it’s that she asked for wood floors for so long. Maybe it’s the fact that, personally, I really do like the floor. I guess it’s complicated, or stupid. Probably stupid. I hold hope that she doesn’t just plain hate the floor. It helps me feel less of a failure.

Yeah; stupid.