Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Yellow Kid

Hannah is suffering from jaundice.

This is a pretty common occurrence for newborns, especially for newborns that are born early. The liver is not yet fully filtering the bilirubin out of the blood, which causes the skin to take on a yellowish or orangish tinge.

Usually, the liver gets going and the newborn's digestive system gets up to speed and everything evens out. If these things don't start soon enough, the jaundiced child can be lethargic and in extreme cases (so I'm told) brain damage can occur.

While lethargy and brain damage are never things you want to hear or think about when you are dealing with a newborn, I am trying not to jump to the worst conclusions. We took Hannah to the hospital this morning to get her bilirubin levels checked in her blood. It is in the "concerning" stage, but she is going back to get her blood levels taken again tomorrow. If the bilirubin level has gone a few notches up, we might have to use a biliblanket, which is a phototherapy device that helps break down the bilirubin that is building up in the body's fatty tissue and blood stream.

Hopefully, if we have to go this route, she'll tolerate the "blanket" well. Right now, she doesn't like to be put down very much, so it might mean more crying.

(For more about the original Yellow Kid, see here.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I should have read this book YEARS ago!

I know that I've done nothing but blog about Hannah lately, but it'll even out over time. (Heck, you know it will when LOST premieres next Thursday night.)

But this set of "helpful baby tips" is too funny not to pass along.

(Click on the image to see more.)

Births and Deaths

The house is full of the scent of flowers, courtesy of Lynda's work friends, my work friends, and other well wishers. I admit that the smell of flowers around the house is not (sadly) a typical scent around our house and I associate the constant smell to either of two life-changing events--births (as we now have) and deaths (which we are luckily free from).

Of course, flowers for a burial don't usually come with cute stuffed animals.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Full House

Lynda and Hannah came home today. I wasted no time in falling asleep. (I'm such a good father; I take every opportunity to sleep on the job.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here's how the last few days have gone down:

Tuesday was a day like most, I guess. Grace had been sick since the previous Friday with a triple digit fever that stubbornly refused to go away. We tried to medicate the number down with Tylenol and Motrin, but whenever we gave her medicine, she tended to throw it back up. So, we were trying to wait it out.

Lynda spend Tuesday at home with Grace. She worked on her project and I worked on stuff in the office. At lunch time, we switched places and I came home while she went to do think at the building. Everything was pretty normal. I hooked up my laptop to the work system and made some adjustments to a planning document that I'm working on. Grace watched TV.

At 3:30, we swung by the elementary school to get Sarah . . . and our neighbor's daughter . . . and Sarah's classmate. They were all playing together with Grace, who was feeling just fine thanks. I had already gotten out some chicken for thawing. I was going to make spaghetti with chicken (for a slight change in the taste profile, don't cha know). The girls were off playing hide-and-seek or something upstairs and I was letting them be. No shouts, no weeping. Everything seemed okay.

About 4:45 I got a call from Lynda, which I thought was a pleasant surprise, since these days she's doesn't come home before 6:30. But she wasn't coming home. She told me in a tense, surprised voice that she though (well, she knew) that her water had just broken, while she was standing there at her desk discussing the finer points of page-fitting with her team member.

Taken aback, I think my response was something like: "Um, really?"

(Please remember that, while this is our third successful pregnancy, and we are familiar with how this stuff works, we were--after all--three weeks from the stated due date. Neither one of us was remotely ready for TODAY to be THE DAY. We'd gotten the proper furniture in the nursery (some just that day, but more on that momentarily), we'd washed clothes, we'd done the rudimentary basics to be prepared . . . yes.

But, there was no hospital suitcase with essential toiletries, no change of clothes, no outfit for Hannah to wear home. There was no one set up (iron-clad anyway) to look after Sarah and Grace. And hey, what about the two other girls that were currently playing upstairs?

Well, neighbor girl number 1 went home very shortly. Neighbor husband came over and I quickly enlisted his help in getting the recliner moved from the den area up the stairs to the blank nursery. (We had previously decided to put the single mattress up in Hannah's room for late-nigh sleeping, but recently Lynda figured that the recliner would be more comfortable for sleeping while nursing . . . so over the weekend I had removed the mattress and was waiting for help to get the recliner upstairs. With neighbor's help at hand I got that taken care of.

Lynda was on her way home, but Sarah's playmate remained on the premises. Luckily, the parent was soon to arrive, since 5:00 was the predetermined time for the play date to end. Soon enough, the dad came and she was gone. Then I got about the business of deciding what to do with dinner. Lynda had told me that the next door neighbors were willing to look after the kids while we went to the hospital, but I wasn't sure they were going to be able to feed them also. I got a frozen pizza from the basement and was thinking about heating the oven when Lynda came in. She told me that the neighbors were going to provide the food, so I put the pizza away and started working on getting a suitcase prepared.

We threw whatever clothes and toiletries we figured we needed in a suitcase and got the kids bundled up and over to the neighbors house. Then we started our way to the hospital. The only problem was that the highways were firmly in what passes for rush hour around here. Normally, that wouldn't be so bad, just more cars on the road. But add in some snow showers and a bit of ice from previous cold nights and you've got accidents. As we neared the exit to take us south to the hospital (which we went to 1. because it is best for birthing and 2. because Lynda's OB-GYN basically refuses to go elsewhere), it became clear quickly this line of stopped cars wasn't going anywhere at all. So, we got off and headed north (to go south?) and worked our way to a side street that turned to another side street that might be taking us where we wanted to go eventually. Lynda double-checked the road atlas while making sure her contraction weren't lengthening and coming closer together. I tried to read the night-darkened street signs while trying not to image that hoary old sit-com stand-by of giving birth in a car.

Sadly (for dramatic purposes) we got to the hospital with plenty of time. Contractions were still far apart and Lynda was in good shape. I got started on paperwork and nurses checked Lynda's vitals. A phone consultation was made with the doctor and we were moved into the L&D (labor and delivery) area. From there we spent the next few hours walking the halls, getting checked by sensors, and chatting with nurses. Even though the room had a TV and a VCR/DVD machine, the selections in the L&D area were about twenty years old and all over the place. (MOST APPROPRIATE CHOICE--She's Having a Baby; LEAST APPROPRIATE CHOICE--Braveheart. "You can take our land, but you'll never take . . . OUR BAAABIIEEEES!!!") So, we didn't watch TV.

After about an hour or two of walking around the halls, Lynda had dilated another two centimeters. She was progressing pretty rapidly. We walked more and then the contractions started to hurt a bit more intensely. So, she decided to get the epidural put in her spine to numb the pain of contractions. After that procedure was complete, she was pretty well confined to the bed. I tried to lay down and rest, since it was around 11:00 pm at this point, and I knew the real work was ahead, but it was hard to sit there and ignore Lynda and the nurse that was in the room pretty consistently at this point. After thirty minutes or so of laying and resting--Lynda was nicely warm from the anesthesia and mostly quiet--she said that I should get the nurse and call the doctor. The quality of the contractions had changed pretty abruptly and she could feel pressure building in her pelvis. These are all signs of impending labor contractions, meaning the baby has taxied to the runway and is preparing for takeoff.

So, things shifted to another gear and we all got our second wind. Sure enough, within the hour or so since the previous check, she had gone from 5 centimeters dilation to 9 centimeters--a fairly rapid change that was significant since you don't dilate beyond 10 centimeters. So, the doctor got into position and the delivery phase began.

Delivery works like this: when the contraction starts the mother bears down hard and pushes along with the contraction as best she can while everyone shouts encouragement but can't do a damned thing. I count to ten slowly, take a breath and we do it again. Then we rest for when the next contraction starts. It took four "reps" like this and Hannah's head was out. Surely this was the swiftest and simplest labor of the three girls, which it should have been since, well . . . it was the third one. She was out, cleaned up, warmed up, and in arms in a matter of minutes. Amazingly quick, really and always a miraculous thing. I stayed close to Hannah while she was under the heat lamp and watched her wave her arms around and let out some tentative wails. She also tested out her eyes, but didn't open them fully very much.

Once she was all swaddled, she lay on Lynda's chest and basically chilled out. She remained very quiet, surprisingly so, I though. But I haven't seen her since Wednesday at noon. So she's probably making more noise now.

The reason I've been out of the picture since yesterday noon was that Sarah was hit with the fever and I've been nursemaiding the older girls while Lynda says at the hospital. Sadly, while Sarah is running a fever, I can't take the girls into the hospital around newborns, so they haven't yet seen Hannah live. They've seen the videos that I posted yesterday, but that's it. They'll see her soon enough though.

While we are waiting around, I've been finishing up some cleaning and straightening of the house and washed a few more baby items that are sure to come in handy. Lynda's parents also arrived this afternoon and have helped pick up some groceries and dinner for me and the girls. They are staying in a hotel now to keep clear of any of Sarah's sickness and I've convinced Lynda to keep Hannah away until tomorrow noon when the hospital will kick them out. That will give us a few more hours to get well before Hannah finally arrives home tomorrow.

It was an unexpected tale of arrival, but in the end, just like with good 'ole Harry . . .

"All [is] well."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogging right away, huh?

I am at home now, trying to get the kids ready for school. (We'll see if I can convince them . . . )

See here and here for the blow-by-blow (sort of) of yesterday's important events. I'll fill in the details as I get the time, but right now I'm running around pulling things together.

Since Hannah came about three weeks before we expected, we weren't exactly ready, but we were getting there.

I've got other stuff to do, so off I go.

Hannah Maria Martin says hello.


(quick typing before they catch me)

19.5 inches long

born at 12:01 am today, January 23rd.

all toes and fingers present

healthy set of lungs

mother doing well


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Early arrival

At the hospital.

Water broke about 3 hours ago.

Kids are with neighbors.

We're walking around the halls, trying to move things along.

Writing in short bursts because I'm really not supposed to be using this computer.

More later if I can . . .

Most likely Hannah will arrive before tomorrow morning?

Cross fingers and say prayers.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Overheard while watching "Star Wars"

  • At the very beginning of the movie, when Princess Leia's ship is being overtaken by Darth Vader's Star Destroyer outside the orbit of Tattoine: "The ships DO look like Legos!"
  • While looking at the DVD box, she points at the picture of the Death Star. "What's that?" she says. It's the Death Star. "Is there a Life Star?"
  • When Jabba the Hut first appears. (Remember that when Lucas reedited "Star Wars" in the late 1990s, he added a cut scene where Han talks to Jabba before Luke and Ben arrive to escape Tattoine. Sarah sees Jabba and says, "Is his name Java?"

She might have said more, but I got really sleepy and took a nap about the time that Ben was shutting down tractor beam. To make up for it, here are two weird Star Wars-themed websites.

1. Flickr photo page for Red and Jonny.

2. A Star Wars guide to the presidential candidates.

I can't win . . . or I refuse to be happy?

The kids can be really challenging sometimes, or maybe I just have outrageous expectations?

I really liked that they built that fort this morning (see the post immediately located below) and I am glad that they were self-motivated and put it together and interacted with each other (which they are usually very good about) and didn't involve me. They came up with it and did it and entertained themselves.

All good things.

But then, when they were done, they just walked away and left it sitting there in the middle of the floor, right in the middle of everything, demanding that everyone and everything go around their creation. (Kids are like cats that way.)

So, one the one hand, I recognize and applaud their creativity and their (all-to-rare) independence. But at the same time I am completely frustrated by their inability to think beyond their own noses to see that what they do (or in this case did NOT do) impacts others.

They were warming up from some brief playground time in the backyard and I got to sit down and read a book for a bit. But when they were done with that, they wander over to me and ask "What can we do?"

That is a surefire way to frustrate me, since I really dislike being expected to be their lifetime cruise director. Add to that fact the reality that we have a house/basement FILLED with plastic crap toys that they hardly EVER play with enough and I don't like to be asked "What can I do?" Oh, I don't know . . . why don't you play with the toys you couldn't live without two weeks ago?

(Yeah, I'm sure that if my parents are reading this right now, they are laughing so hard they might strain a muscle.)


Today is MLK Day and is therefore a work holiday for me.

I am lucky enough not to have too much work to do at the office right now, so I am home.

Sarah is out of school today and Grace has been sick all weekend, so I am looking after them solo while Lynda is working at the office.

The kids are busy entertaining themselves right now, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Here's what they are doing.

(In what you might call "The Curse of the Sleeping Dogs," the kids are now tired of this game and I'm going to take them outside. We haven't seen much of the outside this weekend while the weather has been frigid and while Grace has been sick.)

More later . . . ?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The ultimate nerd tattoo

When I get around to getting a tattoo someday, I will surely get this one, that I just created.

Take the Rambaldi symbol from Alias (top left) and the symbol of the Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (top right).

By combining them together, you get the ULTIMATE NERD TATTOO!

(Plus, it kinda looks like Darth Vader's tie fighter. BONUS!!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cloverfield review

I saw Cloverfield Friday night. (I can't tell you the last time I went to a movie on opening night.)

It was fun! Thanks to Dr. Actually, Flipper, Jack Thunder, Raisinette, and Shirtless Wonder for braving this mystery movie with me.

And super thanks go to Lynda! You're the best wife EVER!!

Click on the photo for my review.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tied up in knots

I've got some Omnimedia videos to deliver to you today.

The first is a new activity that the girls have coerced me into participating in.

The second, though not strictly related to the first, was a whim activity that I experimented with this past weekend. I liked how it turned out and will likely try again.


Regarding Omnimedia, I've been thinking about dabbling with podcasting (since that seems to be the only web-based convention that I haven't bothered to do yet), but I find that it poses a few problems:

  1. What, exactly, will I talk about?
  2. If I can come up with a theme with any recurring necessity, who cares what I have to say? For instance, (naturally) something I thought of right away--providing "on-the-spot" commentaries/reactions to LOST season 4 episodes might interest some of you, but it poses . . .
  3. Logistical problems--not the least of which is that I have never attempted podcasting before and I don't have a microphone/headset to plug into my laptop. I could purchase one of course, but I might want to do a bit of research beforehand so I get a decent headset that provides quality audio. Then, I'd have to learn how to use podcasting software. (I've previously downloaded "Audacity," which I hear does a good job, but I'm sure there would be a learning curve for the editing of whatever I record. And then I've have to work out the mechanics of the recordings. It wouldn't be workable to actually record while watching the show live. First, it would be disruptive to Lynda (and she doesn't get lots of relaxation right now, so it would be rude of me to cause lots of disruptions). Second, I would absolutely NEED to record the show, since if I attempted to record on top of the regular broadcast, I would miss lots of details while talking. So, if I'm going to record it anyway, I might as well do my reaction recording while watching it the second time.
  4. Then . . . if I even got this far, I'd have to edit my recording (learning curve) and post the podcast in a timely manner. (No one cares what I think of an episode two weeks later.) This bumps up against the most significant problem of all, which is
  5. Hannah. Surely I won't have time to be messing about with this highly frivolous podcasting lark while new baby is in the house. What sort of heartless cyborg would that make me?
So, I'll file it away for now and maybe begin tackling it in increments at an unspecified future time? I think it would be cool (for some topic or thing), but the timing may not be right at this time?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quick complaint

Just a quick note to say that my laptop is being repaired this week and therefore, I am without my weekly subscriptions of podcasts.

I'll be hopelessly behind with all of my arts & entertainment news, my sports headlines, my Harry Potter happenings, and my artful radio pieces. (It'll be just like a vacation or Christmas trip, but without the diversions of relatives and better weather to keep me occupied.)

Sure, I've got my 9 to 5 responsibilities, my children & wife, new books, and many thousands of songs to keep me occupied . . . but we live in a world where you never have to say no to anything.

(And, I can't post the video where the children praise my excellent homemade pretzels that were made on Saturday.)

Hopefully the laptop screen will be replaced by the end of this week--and at THAT price, it'd better be sparkling! It WOULD be "tied for the most expensive component on the machine" to closely paraphrase the Apple Store employee at the Genius Bar.


Friday, January 11, 2008


The family exhibited classic nesting behavior last weekend. For those unfamiliar with this term, pregnant women (and by extension families) begin in the last trimester of a pregnancy to prepare for the birth and arrival of a new person by occasionally going through fits of intense organizational activities.

We did this on Saturday by:

1. Buying several organizer drawers to put the innumerable crayons, markers, colored pencils, regular pencils, scissors, scrap paper, pencil sharpener, scotch tape, regular pens, and more crayons that are constantly shifting position through the house into separate areas. The girls now each have their own drawers for their rooms and we are attempting to organize the kitchen area desk by housing downstairs community art supplies into rational locations.

2. The kitchen desk was another organizational mountain. I used to place the laptop there, but have recently decided to place it in the side room (that is supposed to be a dining room but never will) on a small desk by the window. Now, with both computers in that "office" space, the kitchen desk tended to be an entrance way dumping ground for everybody's crap. Since this offends my obsessive tendencies, the aforementioned art supply drawers is one attempt to bring order and hold off entropy. Secondly, I went through the many pieces of paper, old calendars, rec center catalogs, out-of-date school lists, and other junk that filled up the desk drawer and desk trays. A great deal was thrown away and the desk is now a central location for gathering mail and art stuff for when it is needed.

3. The most radical, but logical move of all was moving the television from the kitchen/eating/den room and placing it in the front room with the main window. I have never liked the furniture configuration in the fireplace room, with the couches on either wall--perpendicular to the TV screen. This made the small love seat by the window to the backyard less suited to watch the TV from--you had to lay down (which I would often do) or sit sideways (which the kids always did). Furthermore, we all tended to use that room at the exclusion of all other rooms--eating, cooking, watching TV, playing all in one place. What were the rest for? Nothing.

By shifting the TV, we made the kitchen/eating/fireplace room more for reading and food preparation. That calmed down this area significantly. The front room is consistently used now and everything gets spread out. (Right now, for instance, I'm sitting at the kitchen table, Lynda's working in the office, and the girls are watching TV. Each of us are in our separate rooms and the house is better utilized. Ahhh, family togetherness.)

Of course, the only drawback to this plan will come next December when I have to figure out how to configure the TV to accommodate the addition of the snowman tree that sits in the middle of the window. But that's 12 months away. I'm sure I'll think of something.

4. Another nesting/organizational technique that is being implemented is the creation of a pictographic chore chart for the girls. They've been helping out for a while now, but the creation of a chart will be visually interesting and help them track what they've done and what still needs to be done. I've had fun creating suitable tableaus for each of the chores they have to do, such as putting dirty clothes down the laundry chute, making their beds, setting the dinner table, picking up their toys, hanging up their coats, brushing teeth and hair, etc. Once all the photos are taken and laminated, I'll construct the chart the pictures will be velcro'ed on.

5. I also put together two small shelving units for the corners of the office to house some toys and neaten up the corners that tend to be dumping grounds for half-used art notebooks, small memo pads, old guitar music, financial papers, and a great deal of old stuff that I chose to throw away.

We're trying to prepare for the addition of another person, anticipating the uproar of baby, diaper, bibs, toys, blankets, mats, and everything else. Of course, you can never really be ready for everything, but cleaning up does help.

Now if we can just keep it this clean . . .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Say Hello to My Little Friend

While in Georgia for the recent holiday trip, I picked up an item from my parents house that has deep meaning for me.

This is the orthopedic brace that I wore for several years during elementary school. It was not the first one of its kind that I had to wear. Rather, it was a simplification of the larger, double-legged model that fit on both legs and had a bar running from one thigh to the other. This had the effect of forcing my legs into a triangular shape and I walked with a swaying, twisting motion, swinging one stiffened leg in an arc from back to front while pivoting on the stationary leg. I got used to the walking style and was even able to cross the (very small) creek running through the woods that edged my childhood home while wearing this brace.

Later one, I only had to wear the single-leg model shown above, on my left leg. The buckle hit the younger me on the calf, below the knee. The bottom of the brace fitted into a metal channel inserted in the heel of my brown Buster Brown shoe. When I walked, the hinge of the brace made a satisfyingly, cyborgian click on each step. (Not that I though of it in those terms or so positively when I was young.) You can get a sense of the set up by viewing this not-to-scale photo.

One of the main drawbacks was that at night I had to sleep in the brace, still attached to the shoe. I can't remember wiping the shoe clean of each days dirt and mud before I crawled under the covers at night, but I equally can't imagine that mom wouldn't have cared if was constantly dirtying my sheets. (Mom, can you provide some help here?)

Wearing the brace was often a source of frustration and embarrassment for me, to be sure. No elementary-aged kid wants to be different. Certainly, no kid that age wants to click along and be slowed down by metallic braces. (The "Run, Forrest, Run" sequence in Forrest Gump is much more fantasy than reality, if you are wondering . . .) I hope I handled it all with good graces, but there were days, I know, when I took it all VERY personally and wasn't happy with my lot. I was always told to be thankful that I was wearing a small brace on one leg with a (relatively) healthy body and mind rather than living in a wheelchair.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Answer

Last Wednesday night I left a riddle on the blog.

The answer?

Each of those item that I listed owes a direct or indirect debt to Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle of operas, commonly known as "The Ring Cycle."

Why do I bring this up?

Because I was delighted to listen to the New Year's Day podcast of RadioLab that delved into the importance and impact of Wagner's "Ring."

Unlettered though I may be on many things, I am not unfamiliar with the importance of Wagner and his cycle of four operas. As fate would have it, I enrolled in a year-long, detailed study of this topic while attending Georgia Southern University many years ago. Dr. Michael Braz taught the course over the fall, winter, and spring quarters of my sophomore year. In that class I learned about Wagner and a great deal about the Ring cycle.

The class operated as follows: We went through each of the operas in the Ring Cycle, watching a video performance of the entire affair over the course of the year. We stopped to discuss the language being sung by the actors and especially focusing on the musical components that augmented the story.

Most illuminating of all, we discussed Wagner's use of leitmotif--a musical theme/sequence of notes that he assigned to characters, important objects, significant actions. The operatic score, therefore, helped tell the human story through music. In one of Wagner's most significant innovations, he used musical leitmotifs to foreshadow events that had not yet occurred. Those musically in-the-know would get tonal clues to spur the story on.

(Really, the RadioLab podcast does a much better job of getting across what I'm trying to say here . . . and it allows you to listen to examples. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.)

So, enough with the general answer. In specific--

1. J.R.R. Tolkien utilized the same Norse mythology that Wagner mined for his own Rings trilogy. And when Peter Jackson filmed the movies, composer Howard Shore (as do almost all composers today) utilized the idea of leitmotif. The Shire has a theme, the Nazgul have a theme, heck the Ring has multiple themes.

2. Jaws is a great example of the use of leitmotif foreshadowing. I am borrowing this specific example from the podcast, but you all know that when you hear the two note cello theme starting to build up, the shark is on the way, even if he's nowhere to be seen on film. Apocalypse Now, of course, made Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" a fanfare for the common soldier.

3. One of Elmer Fudd's greatest cartoon moments was when he donned the horned viking helmet and breastplate to try and "Kill the Wabbit." Directly lifted from opera #2, Die Walkure.

4. Another example of leitmotifs, more modernly expressed is John Williams Luke and Leia themes from the original Star Wars trilogies.

5. Hitler was a famous fan of Wagner, believing his German opera told the historical truth of the origins of the true, pure Germanic race. Wagner (and everyone after him) used mythology to tell their own versions of stories. Hitler twisted it around as well.

6. As mentioned above, Dr. Braz conceived of the course that introduced me to it all and I was in the first class to experience it. Sorry his original link was broken.

7. The painting displayed below was given to me by my brother Muleskinner when he was dabbling in the art form while I was in college. Since I got the flames as a Christmas gift the year that I was taking the class, I chose to name the image "Morning at Fafnirs," a nod to the moment in opera 3 (Siegfried) when he is trying to sneak up on the dragon named Fafnir. The flames are self-explanatory and the darker/lighter colors on the edge of the canvas made me think of sunrise.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Brunswick Stew

During our Christmas travels, between stops and stays at both parental homes, we spent about half-a-day with Lynda's brother, wife, and son in Waycross, GA.

For dinner that night AT served a delicious bowl of Brunswick stew, a favorite concoction of mine that always reminds me of Georgia and hometown band competitions and Saturday lunches.

AT was gracious enough to give me her recipe. You can see that it is very simple to make (especially if you, like her and we) are working parents. Please don't dismiss it out-of-hand because of the canned ingredients. If you've got the time and the inclination, please provide a freshly grown/made version. I'm sure it'll take even better.


2 (large) cans white chicken
2 (10 oz.) cans of BBQ pork
2 (10 oz.) cans of BBQ beef
1 can (any size, depending on preference?) diced new potatoes
20 oz. frozen creamed white corn
10 oz. of whole kernel white corn
10 oz. of frozen baby lima beans
2 cans of crushed tomatos
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. lemon jice
2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic
dash of pepper

Throw it all in a crock pot and let it simmer until all is cooked through and hot.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Riddle Me This

What do

1. J.R.R. Tolkien and (by extension) composer Howard Shore
2. the movies Jaws and Apocolypse Now
3. Elmer Fudd
4. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia
5. Adolf Hitler
6. Georgia Southern University professor Dr. Michael Braz
7. and this painting:

have in common?

Falling short of The Leap

For some people, The Leap is a description of when an athlete "figures it out" and can play the game with ease and confidence. Usually this happens after a few years of professional exposure.

Since this blog usually has little to nothing to say about sports, you may have already guessed that my title reference to The Leap is NOT sports-related.

It was just pointed out to me by my cube neighbor that February 2008 is one of those fabled Leap Months that features a 29th day. Such days only occur every four years in a weird attempt to cram a calendrical system around the fact that the motions of the universe and the progress of the seasons don't march to the same rigid beat every single year.

I bring this up because my cube neighbor made me realize that Hannah might have had a chance to have a Leap Year Birthday by being born on the ephemeral 2/29.

However, I know that the due date is currently set at 2/13 and while I was wondering how cool it might be to share a birthday with a major holiday, I suddenly began salivating about the possibility of my daughter only having a REAL birthday every four years. Please note I am not hoping this turn of events would result in ONLY having birthday parties every four years, but rather the chronological oddity that all of this might cause.

Hannah could age much slower than the rest of us. It would always be good conversation for her at a party. She would be (superficially) distinctive in a way that most of us never get to experience. It's kind of like having a tattoo but avoiding the pain of the needles.

But, as I said, the doctor's stated due date is 2/13. There is not even a snowball's chance in hell that Lynda will need to/nor would wait an additional 16 days for such meaningless triviality. More's the pity, I guess.

Now I'm depressed when I didn't even know I should be depressed twenty minutes ago.


LOST in 8:15

If you haven't bothered to watch LOST for the last three years or if you haven't bought the DVDs . . . but you have an overwhelming urge to find out what all the madness is about before the premiere of Season 4 on January 31, you could watch this ABC recap.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, Old List

Back in February of 2005, I broke out the "101 in 1001" list.
I technically have some more time to go on this list, but I think I'm ready to move on with my life and so what better time to put a cap on things than at the start of a new year.

(Happy New Year, by the way.)

So, here is the final tally on the 101 in 1001 days experiment. I am a bit surprised at the number of things I did accomplish.

101 in 1001

1. Reroof house. DONE 5/11/05
2. Replace gutters on house.
3. Visit California. DONE 8/17-24/05
4. Paint guest bedroom.DONE 4/14/05 by T.
5. Lose 5 lbs. accomplished with laid up in hospital . . . promply gained it back, so still pending?
6. Ride my bike once a week (in good weather, of course). [Nope, definitely NOT turned into a regular thing.]
7. Read one book each year (for pleasure). [Still not doing this one either. Too much TV watching and blogging.]
8. Fix lawnmower. (5/1/05)
9. Take kids to July 4th fireworks. 7/2/05
10. Enroll Ariel in piano lessons. [What was I thinking when I chose this one? Nope, not done.]
11. Paint Ariel's room.DONE 4/15/05
12. Paint Ruth's room. [Yep, we DID do this one, but I don't remember when it was done. The colors are purple.]
13. Paint out bathroom--apparently Tegan doesn't like that orangy-red color or the rooster wall border. (You just can't understand some people.) [Yes, we also did this one, painting the bathroom a much more pleasing shade of deep, deep blue. We even bought a bedspread that mimics that color, but I don't know how much farther down the line of blue we're planning to go.]
14. Paint deck. (Man, there is a whole lot of painting going on!) [Tried to strip old paint and start over and then decided to rip up the deck and put down a patio. We haven't done it yet, of course. Next spring?!]
15. Plant boxwoods beside deck. [Probably should be omitted since we are choosing to eliminate the deck. But, the fact remains, not done.]
16. Remove tree beside kitchen window.DONE 4/20/05
17. Watch four good foreign films . . . and I am willing to take all suggestions. 10/05--City of God . . .
18. Do some sort of physical activity as a family once a week--swimming, bike riding, walking . . . looks like painting is a strong contender in this category. [Why are all the physical options a failure? Again, not done.]
19. Join church activity--a new one each year. I started teaching Sunday school 9/05
20 Call family members at least once a month--not a problem for Tegan, but something that I should be working on. [They'll tell you . . . not done.]
21. Have at least three summer cook-outs for my friends. [I had some cookouts, but it's true that the frequency of them has dropped off in the last year or two. Sorry guys.]
22. Frame the family caricatures. DONE 2/22/06
23. Play scrabble once a month with Tegan instead of watching whatever bad movie happens to be on television. [Nope. No Scrabble games have broken out. And this one wasn't even an exercise thing.]
24. Teach Ariel to swim. Made good progress this summer. Not finished yet. [I think she's pretty well there. As she gets older and stronger, her technique will improve.]
25. Make decision about having or not having another child. Tabled for now . . . [Well, as you know, this came off the table in 2007. Child #3 is imminent.]
26. Remove junk from basement utility area--old paint, crappy metal shelving, other odds and ends. DONE sometime in summer of 2007, or was it 2006? But the basement was cleaned out and is now more organized than it used to be.
27. Purge junk from garage--stray wood, other bits of crud that is just bad looking. Amazingly, this was another organizational job that I got DONE in 2007. The garage is more organized than it has ever been, though it still is trying to hold more than it should. I need to get the bikes up of the garage floor and hanging from the wall.
28. Replace mulch beside house with rocks--better to avoid water wicking against the foundation. Still mulching. . .
29. Get rid of ivy beside house . . . we already killed it off near the swingset. Yes, DONE!
30. Drink the champagne that we got when we closed on the house--over half a year ago! Don't we have anything worth celebrating?! DONE at some point . . . but I don't remember when. Must have been a helluva party?
31. Teach Ariel to ride her bike. She made progress this summer, but not finished yet! [End of 2007 update--she's gotten better, but is still using training wheels.]
32. Limit myself to three desserts a week (that is going to be a hard one. HA! Getting nowhere here.
33. Find a place to hang Ariel's and Ruth's art boards. DONE! 1/4/05
34. Put drawer guides on oldest dresser. [I think we just moved the old dresser down to the basement. Out of sight, out of mind.]
35. Paint dressers. [See above.]
36. Get new family picture taken. [Well, we are going to get this updated when Hannah arrives. . .]
37. Take more pictures. Appropriately vague goal that is vaguely accomplished?]
38. Frame more pictures. I put up some good family pics and frames some of my favorites from our trip to San Francisco. 2/22/06
39. Display more pictures. Well, I'm posting some on Flickr . . .
40. Plan Spiderman 3 event . . . if I plan it now, it will be really good when the movie is ready! [Sigh . . . if only the movie has been worth it.]
41. Take Ariel to a baseball game in Cincinnati. [Nope, not done yet.]
42. Get promoted (Burb and Tegan). [Yes and yes.]
43. Develop new record storage system for home files, and get rid of the beat up filing cabinet we are using now. Nope, we're still using the beat up old filing cabinet.]
44. Develop some better organizational system for the main floor play room. [Done sometime in late May or early June.]
45. Play golf 4 times a year or hit golf balls more often at a driving range. Actually played in November! Thanks to Shirtless's efforts, I've played more in 2007 than in previous years.]
46. Cook a French meal.
47. Eat at the "Refectory."
48. Visit a new state--not counting California, since we are going there on an anniversary trip in a few months. [We did go to Arizona last summer.]
49. Sell the Escort. [Sure enough, that was done October 2007.]
50. Teach Ruth to swim. [She's taking lessons . . .]
51. Teach Ariel how to tie her shoes. She can do this now, but I forget when I happened . . .
52. Go camping.
53. Buy a desk for Ariel's room.
54. Write an update letter to Dr. Hew Joiner and let him know how we are doing.
55. Buy some new luggage to replace the enormous black thing we call the BFL. (That stands for Big F*%@$ Luggage--an adaptation from the monogram on the second-hand suitcase. That thing is just TOO big.) DONE! 1/8/05
56. Go to UK basketball game in Lexington sometime.
57. By a nice cast iron skillet. [Got one from Lynda's mom.]
58. Use aforementioned cast iron skillet to cook steak once a month.
59. Get a new grill for outdoor cooking. [Got that for Father's Day 2006]
60. Get rid of old toys in basement and clean up the toy clutter. Started on 1/4/05
61. Remove wood by backyard fence.
62. Buy and install shelves for bedrooms and den to display pictures (see # 39).
63. Purchase some Keen sandals to replace the ones that I currently have. (My mom swears by these sandals.) DONE on 5/1/05.
64. Set up a new savings account. [Yep, we did that sometime in 2006]
65. Alert Social Security Administration of new address . . . something we should have done before now, I am sure. Not a problem . . . as of the weekend of 5/1/05
66. Get trapped in an elevator during a power outage. Seriously! I really want this to happen to me sometime. [I've had some close calls, but nothing yet.]
67. Get rid of weird spasmodic cough . . . It seems to be slowly going away (1/22/05)
68. Begin reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Ariel. Started! 1/9/05
69. Get my new pajama pants hemmed before I trip on the hem and fall down the stairs . . . for the SECOND time--that's right, I did it a few Saturday's ago and nearly DIED!! DONE! (thanks Tegan!) 1/17/05
70. Get iPod! [Accomplished in mid-June.]
71. Get a new CPU instead of getting a new laptop. [Also done in mid-June.]
72. Transfer all programs and files from old CPU to newer one--conditional on accomplishing #71 of course. [ALSO done in mid-June.]
73. Get a faster Internet connection--this dialup is just too slow, and since we aren't getting a new laptop, we can probably afford it. [6/18/05]
74. Do taxes for 2004. DONE 4/10/05
75. Do taxes for 2005. [Finished before April 15, of course.]
76. Do taxes for 2006. [Yes, of course I did. Otherwise, I'd be blogging from jail.]
77. Finish this LIST!!!! (2/2/05)
78. Build snowman with Ariel and Ruth. #1 DONE 1/29/05
79. Paint a mural on the stairwell going down into the basement. [What? No, I haven't done this. Insane!]
80. Repair driveway.
81. Fix sidewalk.
82. Get faucet in guest half-bath repaired. DONE! 1/17/05
83. Get water heater repaired. DONE! 1/17/05
84. Get my project at work completed . . . PLEASE! I am ready to move on to something new. [Yeah, I got moved on to something else all right! Can you say "King Copyright"?] [2007 update, moved on again and again.]
85. Eat more soup. [Sort of . . .]
86. Eat less chocolate. [Come on, you know the answer to this one.]
87. Seriously, finish this list already! (2/2/05)
88. Do something nice for Tegan on Valentine's day (and again, I am open to suggestions). [I am sure whatever I did was nice, but I'll be switched if I can recall what it was.]
89. Use the movie tickets. [Used them yesterday afternoon on Tegan's birthday. We left work early and both saw Batman Begins.]
90. Fix TP hanger in kid's bathroom.DONE (thanks to T's dad) 4/13/05
91. Put good shelving in garage to better organize in there. [Well, I reused and rearranged the existing shelving out there. It's not new, but it works okay.]
92. Do more dusting and vacuuming around the house. [Won't admit how badly I do at this.]
93. Clean the bathrooms more. (Which is violating a marital agreement that we set up a long time ago. But, I was young a foolish then. I am a better person now.) [I've done it some, but not enough.]
94. Visit the Used Kids CD store.
95. Give
96. Up
97. With
98. This
99. List and
100. Move
101. ON! Sadly caved in and posted on 2/2/05
Does this diminish the list to end on such a pathetic note?