Monday, December 26, 2011

My Li'l Poser

A few days ago, while brushing her teeth, Suz realized Cooper was copying her in mirror. Now we can get a "smile" with the command, "Cooper, show us your teeth!"

This has opened up all sorts of photo ops... It's also created a monster of cuteness. Cooper has started posing for pictures.  He leans over, maybe because I'm leaning in to get the shot.  And his li'l smile is at full wattage.  I don't know how much cuter this kid can get without causing me to implode.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Time... is here...

Christmas for our family is a two part affair.  Christmas Eve for the Czechs and Christmas Day for the Americans.

We always hit Suzi's family for fish and presents on the 24th.  The 25th is the traditional turkey and Ted's pork roast... which may not be tradition at your house, but then you've never had Ted's Pork Roast.  (Capitalized there because it should be.  Like Old Faithful or Disneyland...)

So, here come some shots of the chaos 'round the tree at Sasha's last night... and the traditional Couch Family Picture.  For eons, Jan always took a family shot on the couch.  It's fallen to me to pull out his tripod and keep that flame burning.  I don't begrudge it a bit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Memorial DVD Available

If you missed the Dad's Memorial Service or just want to re-live a wonderful evening, this is your chance.  This DVD includes the two hour event, plus the slide show from the Visitation.  Proceeds will benefit the Pastor McGarvey Memorial Fund.

Memorial DVD - $5
Memorial DVD - $8 (with shipping)

You can use the convenient Paypal button below to pay via direct debit or credit card. You may also send a check to Memorial DVD c/o APC, 2197 Six Mile Lane, Moberly, MO  65270.  Be sure to include your mailing address.  If you choose the Pick It Up option, please let me know how you plan on doing that in the order form's special instructions section.


And to give you a brief glimpse of what's included,
here's Jaime's Eulogy to "All the Kids' Daddy."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Waiting Game

For those of you who've done any Final Cut editing, the render is the worst part... oh, the waiting!!  I'm working on my dad's funeral piece.  It was a fairly easy, two camera edit with some sync and location audio issues.  This was the initial estimate of time to dump the ProRes file... of course, it's nearly two hours of footage!  It'll be about 100GB. 

FYI... Since I grabbed this screen shot and started writing it's dropped to 31 hours.

Here's to hoping it's a little less than that!

(And, yes, I'll be posting a clip of the choir at the finale, plus the entire event will be available on DVD!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Freakdom

In the past, I worked Black Fridays.  The past couple of years I've been in the States, I've actually gone out on Friday... last year for a specific sale at Alpine Shop and this year... I went to Walmart.

Now, before you chide me on my conspicuous consumerism, the trip was purely anthropological.  The Morgans clan and I just wanted to see the chaos... and take the off-chance of getting pepper-sprayed in the process.  Sure enough, when we arrived at 10.15 on Thursday night, we had to park across Hwy 24 from the store.  There were cars lined up and down the shoulder.  Once we schlepped across the road and got inside, the craziness was amazing.

But, before we get into all of that, did you notice what time we got there?  What should T-Day be?  A day of family and gratefulness, right?  Not in post-modern America.  The country that invented a national holiday of thankfulness has officially usurped it for deeply discounted sheets and shop-vacs (one of which I did end up taking home).  The first sales at Walmart started at 8PM.  Toys-R-Us started at midnight.  In one year, we jumped from 4AM door openings to 8PM the night before!  This is troubling to me... it means that soon, we'll have turkey dinners given away free in the parking lots while we wait in line for the high-noon scramble for Elmo and Cuisinart goodies.  

Thanksgiving?  Short of us dropping our deep-seated angst over bargain basement bounty, it's gone, America.

But, back to the event at hand... there were no carts when we walked in and the wall to shelf mass of humanity was so incredible, I laughed out loud.  It works like this:  At preset times, pallets of shrink-wrapped merchandise are delivered to specific areas around the store, usually in the main "Alleys."  Workers stationed throughout the store have maps to direct die-hard shoppers to their desired discount landing zones.  Once the pallets arrive, the shrink-wrap is stripped away to the magpie tune of panicked shrieks and cries of joy.  Of course, this makes the folks in Bentonville nestle deeper into their Snuggies with glee.  

Pandemonium ensues.  In Moberly, I overheard one man telling of slipping on the wrapping and falling to the ground.  Folks were cussing and ripping at each other over $4 sheets back near Electronics.  A grandmother I know (but am not related to) wrenched her back getting PJs for her kiddos.  In some cases, it was physically impossible to move in the crush of carts.  I've seen better manners at European soccer match.

And these are mild stories.  The woman in an LA Walmart who pepper-sprayed a group surrounding X-boxes, got out with her purchases before police arrived. Over 15 were treated at the scene as a result.  Including children.

"Sorry, kids, Santa didn't bring you an X-box this year... but we did get a ride in the Ambulance!  Ah, the memories we're making!"

Really?  This is where we are?  Shop Amazon, folks... it's safer.  And you can do what we should all be doing... spending quality time with each other.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SUZI: The Thankfulness Tree

In the midst of all kinds of construction clutter that has seemingly found a near permanent place in our home, we have a Thankfulness Tree...a bundle of branches collected from our yard placed in a ceramic pitcher.  Every day for the month of November, we've written something we're thankful for on a small paper circle. The circle then gets hung on one of the branches.  The first day when I asked Cooper what he was thankful for, he enthusiastically responded, "Eggs!"  

Since then, "Elmo," "Heidi," "Babi" (the Czech word for grandmother), and "Bubbles" have all been added to Cooper's thankfulness list as well.  Scott and I have added all kinds of things from the Lord's grace, chocolate chip cookies, homemade bread, to chimes hanging on the deck, and autumn leaves.

If you haven't read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, it would be a great choice to get you in a mood of giving thanks.  Voskamp was an agorophobic who literally changed her life through the power of thankfulness to the Lord.  It definitely has some life changing principles in it. 

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 4, 2011

SUZI: Toothbrush Chart

Just after we moved into our new house (Cooper was just over a year old) I made a chart for Cooper for when we brush his teeth.  He gets to choose a sticker, and we put it on the chart.  It all started because I had a horrible time trying to brush his teeth.  He hated it and would clench his teeth so I could barely even get the brush in.  Great weeping and despair would follow.  I figured there would be no way he could actually correlate the stickers with the brushing, but I was desperate and figured I had to try something.  The first time we used the chart was in the evening.  The following morning, without any prompting from me, Cooper reached onto his shelf, got his toothbrush and tootled over to me with it.  He then turned and pointed to the door where the chart was.  I was floored.  And thankful.

The brushing has been much better than it was in the beginning, though I will admit that the novelty of the stickers has worn off some.  We try to rotate different kinds of stickers to try to make things a little more exciting –animal ones, sparkly ones and even some homemade ones (thanks to Cooper’s cousin Maddy).  We sing teeth brushing songs (that are loud and obnoxious and that I make up on the spot).  We “count” Cooper’s teeth with his toothbrush, and we say silly things like “Aaauuuggie Aaaalligaaaator likes to brush his teeth.”  Yeah…you have to open your mouth to say it!  Some nights Cooper just stares at me like, “What are you doing?  And why do you keep singing those songs?” But usually a reminder about the sticker and he’ll at least crack his mouth open.

Now, if you know me at all, you can understand that I made a nice, neat chart to hang on the door.  It says “I LOVE CLEAN TEETH” across the top and then thirty nice, neat squares underneath.  We would put one sticker in each box – nice and orderly.  When the boxes were full, I’d print out another chart and we’d start again.  Except I started letting Cooper put the stickers on himself.  I’d direct his little hand to the next square and help him put his sticker on.  And then one night, Cooper moved that little hand and wanted to put his sticker in a box at the end of the chart.  What to do?  Clearly he was completely messing up my process.  (Please tell me you sense my irony here.)  It wasn’t the “right” box!  It wasn’t the next one in line.  But, OK, I relented.  And then the next night, Cooper just went all wild and crazy and wanted to put the sticker next to another sticker way at the top of the chart.  I was trying to get him to put the sticker in the “correct” box when I realized that I was being ludicrous!  Little Miss Everything-Has-To-Go-In-This-Nice-Linear-Fashion realized that it doesn’t really matter where the sticker goes.  Cooper just loves to put the stickers on himself.  Now we have a lovely collage of all kinds of stickers – overlapping, hodge-podged, happy little stickers.  He’s happy and so am I.

Thank goodness for little people who remind you that there are different ways to do things.  

I think I should get a sticker for reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SUZI: Flour on Floor

Scott and I are trying to eat out as little as possible, which means that we’re making as much food at home as possible.  When we got home from being overseas, we realized we had gotten pretty spoiled with our food.  In both Jordan and Prague, the bread we bought was fresh and had to be consumed in just a few days or it would go bad.  The fruit and vegetables weren’t picked before they were ripe and then stored somewhere for a long time before being put on the shelf.  There weren’t a lot of preservatives in the food we ate.  It’s been difficult adjusting to so much of the food here – everything tastes so processed.  Apparently we have unintentionally become food snobs.

So I decided that I was going to try to make our own bread.  My dad used to bake bread, and I thought I could surely carry on the tradition.  I’ve done it for several weeks now.  I’m still just working on some basic white bread to get the hang of things but am hoping to move on to some more nutritious and exciting options soon.  It’s not really that hard, but it does take a while.  It’s definitely a time commitment to do it every week.  Mondays are usually bread making days.  I make two loaves which last us for the week (the loaves are much smaller than store bought loaves).  One gets left out and one gets frozen until the other is eaten.  It is infinitely better than store-bought bread.  When I don’t feel like baking bread, I just think about some butter melting on a fresh, warm slice and suddenly I’m a little more inspired.

The only “problem” is that you have to knead the dough for about ten minutes.  This isn’t truly a problem except for the fact that Cooper wants to watch.  For anyone who read my blog entry about cooking with Cooper in the kitchen, you know that he wants to be held while he watches.  And while you can knead dough with one hand (I can attest to the fact that it is possible), it isn’t ideal.  Some days Cooper will happily play by himself with some toys while I get the dough ready to go.  Other days, he’s a little needier, so I try occupying him by giving him a little bit of dough that he can play with.  This didn’t go so well.  He stuck the dough in his mouth for a bit and then decided he didn’t want it.  He handed the sticky, globby mess back to me and wanted to be picked up.

So one day I had the brilliant idea to give him a plate with some flour on it.  I figured flour would be easy enough to clean up.  He has a little step stool in the kitchen so I put the plate with the flour, a spoon and another bowl on it.  He spent most of his time neatly (as neat as a 17-month old can be) scooping the flour from his plate to the bowl.  Great!  The next week, he spent more time raking his fingers through it.  Fine!  He’s occupied and how hard is it to clean his hands off?  A couple weeks later, he was happily playing in his flour when he suddenly decided to dump the plate, upside down, on the floor.  Hmmmm…ok…but what can I do?  I have four more minutes of kneading to go.  Let’s just say that by the time it was all over, Cooper was lying on his belly in the middle of the floor, flapping his arms and legs back and forth (imagine making a snow angel except on your belly…and in flour instead of snow).  He was happy as a clam.  And absolutely covered in flour from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet (Aunt Helen, remember Cooper in your sand box?  Yeah…like that.).  He became quite irritated when I started washing him off and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t go tromping through the rest of the house until I stripped him down and cleaned him off. 

Then, of course, we had to get the vacuum out to clean up the floor and great glee ensued.  There’s nothing quite like the joy of having a toddler who is delighted with flour and a vacuum cleaner.

And in case you’re wondering if I gave Cooper some flour the next time I made bread... (pause for suspenseful silence)…you better believe it.  And there was plenty of cleaning and vacuuming afterwards.

Trick or Treat?

Guess who was a pirate, but didn't want to wear a do-rag or carry a parrot?  Guess who did over an hour of running from one house to another begging for candy?

Guess who did a happy dance with both hands full, while shoveling Twix bars into his mouth?

Yeah... you guessed right.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You. Us. Dad.

There are times when we go through events that are so mundane, they defy words.  There's just no reason to waste perfectly formed syllables on such trivial (mis)fortunes, as the case may be.

And then a September 25th arrives.  A single moment in time that appears and stays locked immemorial.  On that day, that moment (4:07 to be exact) changes everything.  Things you don't realize. Ways that haven't yet materialized.  And then others that are immediate in their sharpness and clarity.

I hope to talk about those moments as the days are quickly becoming weeks.  These will not be chronological, but emotional.  As the well overflows, whatever is floating at the top will naturally end up here.  Perhaps in my constant quest to document life, the full story will eventually emerge.  I have to say, I haven't written anything else here since the funeral simply because I didn't think it right to jump back into the normalcy of life.  Even though that "normalcy" is certainly swirling around us.  I had to start with something about him and then go on with the stuff you'd expect.

In the past weeks, I am particularly struck by how others are reacting to the death of my father.  I have my own patented response, but others' reactions are just as fascinating to me.  There's "caught-in-the-hall-thinking-of-you" or the "sit-down-and-share-my-story."  And then there's this hand that slips under your elbow.  Casual.  Easy. Yet strong enough to lift you off your feet.  It's a book of poetry that helped the giver through their loss accompanied by a note written deep from the heart.  Or the executive who stops to scratch below the facade of rote responses and in the process offer amazing advice on allowing for grief without guilt during the joy of upcoming holidays.

Do you know what kind of man my dad was?  In the final hours we had with him after counseling and praying with those who stopped by (and recording that video), he mentioned off-handedly to Jaime and me:

"Now, in my library there's a book called Good Grief.  It will take you through the five stages of grieving.  You'll need to read that book."

"Really, Dad?  You're still working?  Even now?"

He never stopped.  Loving.  Caring.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Update on Dad

For those who are following Dad's condition... All updates will be posted to the McGarvey Family Blog.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers during this time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SUZI: Cooper in the Kitchen

Cooper has been observing me in the kitchen since he was born.  He loves to watch me cook.  When he was just a baby, I’d put him in a bouncy seat on the floor and he would fuss and fuss and fuss until I picked him up.  He wanted to see and not be so far away from all the action.  I’d put him in his high chair and hand him toys and kitchen utensils to try to keep him occupied while I chopped and sautéed, but he still spent most of his time fussing…until I was holding him and chopping and sautéing with one hand.  

So I hold Cooper a lot while I prep food and cook (for those who are nervous at this point – I obviously keep Cooper away from dangerous things like open ovens.  He’s not playing with knives or helping me chop food, so you can relax.)  I’ve gotten pretty good at doing a lot of things in the kitchen with one hand.  Did you know you can bake a cake from scratch with one hand?  Did you know you can cut up a tomato with one hand?  Did you know you can prepare a meal for twenty people with one hand?  Yes…yes, you can.  It may take twice as long, but it is possible.  And I know that one day soon Cooper will prefer running and playing outside while I cook by myself in the kitchen, so in the meantime, I enjoy having him in there with me.  And, clearly, we discuss fractions, addition and subtraction while we measure various ingredients.

My mom has become quite the garage sale queen (Cooper has a room full of wonderful, like-new toys that my mom has found for him for dirt cheap – it’s great!).  I sent her on a mission to look for a kid’s kitchen in “boy” colors.  It took a while, but low and behold, she found a blue plastic kitchen for Coop.  Let the rejoicing begin!  We played with it together for many days and then one day while I was cooking, Cooper ran over to his kitchen and began “cooking.”  Bravo!  Exactly what I had hoped for.  It was fantastic.  

The next day, I was getting ready to make dinner and I put a little bowl of Teddy Grahams in his kitchen – bait to encourage him to play over there so I could quickly get my work done.  Once again, my genius plan worked.  He was happily whipping up some deliciousness in his kitchen while I enjoyed having the use of both of my hand.  I turned around to get some milk out of the frig, and noticed that there was something all over the floor.  “What on earth?”  Small little specs of something were everywhere.  In fact, there was a little trail that led straight to Cooper.  Who happened to be standing at his kitchen furiously shaking Mrs. Dash into his bowl of Teddy Grahams.  Obviously, at some point when I wasn’t looking, Mr. Quick-As-a-Wink snuck the Mrs. Dash out of the Lazy Susan (which he LOVES to spin around and point to all the spices – he’s probably one of the few toddlers who is learning how to say “Rice Wine Vinegar” along with “Ground Cumin”).  He had a huge grin on his face - he was so happy that he was cooking all by himself.  He had already dumped half the container of spice when I caught him.

But, seriously, how could I be mad at him?  He was doing what he’s been watching me do for 17 months.  So I simply told him that we needed to get the vacuum and clean up the mess.  At which time, Cooper squealed in delight, threw the Mrs. Dash on the floor and ran to the closet with great anticipation while we got the vacuum out.  Vacuuming happens to be one of Cooper’s favorite pastimes.  

We’re hoping this phase lasts for a looooong time.

So one day when Cooper is a great chef in a world famous restaurant, we’ll all know that it started with Teddy Grahams and Mrs. Dash.  I see a new Teddy Grahams flavor in the making, don’t you?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Once Lived in a Palace

Going through some pictures tonight, I came across this panorama from Prague.  This was our street.  Our building was the center one with the statue.  I've mentioned it before.  I guess I'm just sayin'... There're some amazing places on this little ball of mud we call home.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another 9/11 Post

Suz & I moved to Missouri in late summer, 2001.  I was commuting back & forth to finish my USCC job in Chicago, living in the hotel just across Bryn Mawr off the Kennedy.  That morning I didn't turn on the news.  I even thought, "Just get to the office; you're gonna be late."  By the time I walked into the building & got in line at the lobby breakfast kiosk, the first plane had already hit.  The girl behind the counter had the radio on.  Something going on in NY, she said.

That singular moment impacted my life in ways I'd never realize.  What if I'd checked the news?  I probably wouldn't have left my room.  Every morning we lived overseas, the first thing I'd do is check the news... "Just to see if America's still there," we'd say to each other.  Suddenly, you never knew what morning you'd wake up and everything would change.  Forever.

When we were in Prague the first time, my grandmother died.  We'd said goodbye.  She knew she was going soon.  It was agreed that we wouldn't come home (a mistake, I belatedly realize).  It was early in the morning... or very late... a jarring awakening.  Then, Sasha's cancer.  My dad's bouts with cancer.  Jan's sudden death.  All calls seemingly in the middle of the night. I'm realizing it now, but for the last ten years, I've been waiting for the other shoe to fall.  Dreading that lobby experience... something in NY.  In Boston.  In LA.  In my life.  It got to the point that I always answered the phone with a subdued tone.  I never knew what disaster would await me on the other end. 

You could see the end of O'Hare's runway system from my 7th floor office.  On approach, it seemed the heavy haulers were at eye level.  There was just a constant roar.  As the FAA shut down the skies, the atmosphere became eerily quiet.  There was a TV on the 8th floor and we alternated between projects & soaking in the awful reality, replayed over & over.

That night I went out with some friends (to a TGI Fridays or something) and just watched TV together.  Nobody wanted to be alone.  Later, I looked out at the city from my hotel, watching the Hancock & Sears Towers glittering in the distance, wondering if they would be there when I awoke.

Of course, there was no going home then.  The whole country was in lock-down.  I think I finally rented a car & drove home several days later, grateful to be with my family when so many others weren't.

On a desperately cold November weekend in 2002, my family visited NYC.  We made the pilgrimage to Ground Zero.  I grabbed a few shots of 10 House... the FDNY firehouse across the street from the Twin Towers.  They lost 5 guys and a truck in the collapse.  Along with their normal job, the firefighters play host to innumerable tourists, telling the story of Tuesday over and again.  Here's a quote from their site:

As the towers collapsed, tons of building debris fell onto the firehouse and forced its way into it, blowing out windows and doors and causing extensive damage to the facade, interior structures, utilities, lighting and the roof. Inside the firehouse, the apparatus floor was flooded with over three feet of debris and in some areas in and around the firehouse the debris from the collapse was nearly six feet deep. The building’s ventilation system, air conditioning units and Nederman exhaust system were completely destroyed.

Back in early Texas history, the battle cry was, "Remember the Alamo."  Today, we "Never Forget."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

SUZI: Asleep on My Feet

For years I’ve heard about how Scott’s Grammie broke her foot when she stood up without realizing that her foot had gone to sleep.  She stepped weird, and that was it.  I must admit that I never really understood how she didn’t know her foot was asleep.  When I have a limb that’s asleep it either has those needle pains in it or it is oddly numb – that kind of numb that you can feel (which I realize seems to make no sense).  I recently had the opportunity to understand with a little more clarity.

I was trying to get Cooper nice and calm before taking a nap.  We were in the comfy chair in his room; he was snuggled in my arms.  We were rocking; we were listening to lullabies.  That’s all I remember until I woke up an hour later…still holding my snuggly (and now sleeping) little guy in exactly the same spot.  I wasn’t twisted in some weird position.  Nothing seemed to be pressing on my legs.  I was just sitting in the chair.  I stood up to put him in his crib when suddenly I found my right leg unable to carry any weight.  Apparently my leg had gone to sleep without any of the telltale signs.  All I knew was in a split second I was crashing to the floor and seeing my ankle twist under me as I fell.  I was trying to hold onto Cooper but dropped him a few inches above the floor just before I fell.  He, of course, woke up in complete shock.   At first I wasn’t able to move my foot and was in a good deal of pain; I was afraid I had broken something.  I didn’t want to freak Cooper out, but I needed to let him know there was a problem.  All I could think to say as I was clutching my ankle and trying to breathe was, “Mommy…owie!  Mommy…owie!” 

I also couldn’t help thinking, “I can’t believe I woke Cooper up from his nap over this!”

I slinkied my way down the stairs but realized that Cooper wasn’t following me.  He can navigate stairs with no problem, but I think he was so stunned by what had happened that he was still sitting on his bedroom floor crying.  I called and called to him, but he wouldn’t budge.  So I crawled my way back upstairs, got him and maneuvered back downstairs.  I made an icepack, and by this point realized that I could move my foot and toes and hoped for nothing more than a sprain.  Cooper was happy to sit on my lap as I fed him ice chips out of my icepack and read him books.  I called Scott who did some quick research on how to handle sprains – icepacks, ibuprofen, elevating the sprain.  I tried to take it as easy as I could with a 15 month old who still loves to be toted around.  The next few days I hobbled along fine – just no racing Cooper around on his little bike.  Thankfully, at this point it looks like it’s just a sprain with plenty of swelling and soreness. 
Because we document all of our wounds, you too can enjoy a picture of this injury.  And the next time someone talks about a leg going to sleep without knowing it, know that it is absolutely possible.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A little creativity

I don't claim to be a craftsman... but I do fancy a turn about the shop with power tools from time to time.  And I'm a sucker for improvement opportunities when they pop up (which seems to be all the time!).  I've been waiting for a file cabinet for a couple of months at work.  It seems it needed to be custom built to match my space (a lot more on that later...).  So, in the meantime, I've been working out of boxes of files culled from various offices and closets.  One afternoon, while digging through another carton of crazy, I couldn't deal with it any longer.  That night I went home, pulled out some scrap wall brackets, sliced up some excess lumber and voila', a temporary filing system!

Theoretically, my furniture should arrive tomorrow... if so, I'll post more!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An STL Weekend w/ U2 & the Zoo

Many months ago, we picked up tix for the U2 concert in STL.  We had no idea if we'd be in town.  We had no idea what we'd do with Cooper.  It was U2.  In STL... there was no question. 

If you watched a time lapse of our life conversation since then, you'd hear a lot of, "What are we going to do with Cooper?"   It's a whole 'nother post, but suffice it to say, Cooper has very specific needs when it comes to sleep.  One of those necessities happens to be Suzi.  Alone.

What was a concert soon became a full-blown weekend vacation at Len & Helen's house with all the wonderful love and attention that goes along with it.  The two McGarvey siblings dragged their respective families into their living room and deposited what constituted a small wagon train of supplies worthy of the Oregon Trail.  Do you know what it takes to keep two 15 month-olds going for three days?  I do.  And it required me using my roof rack.

But that was really only necessary because I was also carrying a small studio with me as well.  Cyndy, a fellow AIMer, is about to go on the fundraising road, so we're doing her promo video.  It made sense for us to meet in STL for a taping while the clan invaded the Zoo and the house returned to some semblance of order.  Throw in a BBQ with the McClintock crew and, well, yeah...  it was a busy weekend.

But the shining star of the whole parade was Bono and friends at Busch Stadium.  General admission meant it was all up to us as to where we got to stand.  Part of the group went early.  Suzi & I waited it out as long as we could before heading over to the venue.  Something about 10,000 people crushed into the infield, all standing on an aluminum floor baked at 100 degrees just kept me second-guessing right up to our Gate 5 entry.  I was happily surprised.  Busch spokesmen were warning of baked potato burns from the floor and advertising cooling stations.  It was downright pleasant.  We stood in great view of the stage.  The rest of our group was tucked up in the inner circle under the bridges... and they've got great pix to prove it.

It was a good concert.  I was nearly teary when Bono walked past the entry camera and appeared on the massive 360 screen.  This has been a bucket-lister for us and we got it done.  Just the two of us.  It was the first time Suz and I have done something alone for any stretch of time in 15 mos.  Big steps for baby parents.  We left mid-way through to relieve the baby-sitters... it took two sets of uncles & aunts to deal with our combined brood.  Cooper did alright.  Not great... but well enough to not leave indelible scarring on the family. 

Pix are in the usual place... and a side note: If you program your thermostat to Vacation, but forget to add in the "cool" function, you get to come home to 89 degrees... and that takes some time to cool down.  

Just passin' that on.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Skills

Caps & Pens
The Mouse
Chocolate Ice cream

All the necessities of life.

Life & Military Spouses

A co-worker of mine is married to an Air Force Reservist. Rumors floated for sometime that there would be a ship date soon, and a couple of weeks ago, the papers finally arrived.  He's going to Afghanistan at the end of July.  This started a flurry of activity for them and quite a bit of conversation for all of us.  They've been married less than a year.  She's managed to deal with the weekend separations and a two-week training op, but 9 mos is a whole 'nother story.  Did they know this was a possibility?  Sure.  It comes with the territory.  But, there's still something lurking just below the surface when we all talk about the deployment.  He's going to war and, as much as we all like to wave flags and cheer, it's scary for everyone involved.

She recently passed over a blog entry from a career military spouse to me.  It was an interesting take on the home-bound reality of military life.  This was my co-worker's perspective:

"The blog does explain the large and obvious separation between military families and civilian families.  But in my eyes it shows the bravery that most spouses carry and the pride they have in their husbands/wives, which is what I find most inspiring within the military today[...] That is why spouses like her are people I look up to being new to military life, even if I only see and deal with an ounce of what she lives through daily."

We talked last week about the fact we've been at war in some form since 2003.  In contrast to the civilian environment of WWII, our lives are largely unchanged.  No rationing, no bond drives, no politicians drumming up support "for our boys over there" at every public gathering.  It's not a world war per se, but there is world-wide conflict.  It's not something to take lightly nor forget in our daily, mundane routines.  Somewhere there's a mom or a dad or sibling or spouse shipping out.  And they're leaving a big hole behind.

Ask how you can support your local military family...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th Weekend

Our weekend consisted of two things:

Pulling out carpet and Cooper on the back deck with a hose. 

All other events, family or otherwise can fall under these two categories.  It was a good weekend.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Professor Greenbottoms

Because sometimes you need a bunny named "Prof Greenbottoms," the blue binkus and a book with mom to help you wind down at the end of the day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I *heart* organization...

I was putting away a... um... few hangers we'd accumulated during the unpacking.  I realized I was subconsciously color coordinating them in the box.  I admit it... these types of things give me great joy.  For years, my clothes were hung in my closet with care... by color... with matching hangers.  Blue shirt.  Blue hanger.  Green shirt.  Green hanger.
Some people smoke.  I coordinate.

For those who may share some of this joy with me, I'd like to pass on an absolutely addicting site (as if you needed another) of all things organized neatly.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

SUZI: Liking 36

I’ve never had a problem telling my age.  Some people might say that that’s because I’not that old.  But I’m planning on always freely giving my age when asked.  I have more wrinkles around my eyes than ever before.  I’ve noticed the skin on my neck is a little looser than it used to be.  I have more grey hair than I’ve ever had.  I won’t be covering them up…I’ve earned every one of them!   But right now I’m really enjoying being 36.

I recently had an incident happen to me that made me realize I’m happy with where I am in life.  I had just finished having my teeth cleaned at the dentist and needed to run to the restroom before I hit the road.  Our dentist remodeled a few years ago and has a lovely space…natural paper wallpaper, soothing earth tones, local art.  It’s all lovely.  The only problem?  The lock on the bathroom door is odd.  It’s just this little lever-thingie on the handle that you push over.  It’s hard to know if you’ve locked the door.  You can’t test it because pushing down on the handle to see if you’ve actually locked the door actually opens the door.  Sooooo….someone knocked on the door.  I responded.  He didn’t hear me and tried the door.  (Can anyone guess at this point what happened next?)  Apparently, it wasn’t locked.

In an effort to be discreet, let’s just say that he didn’t see anything.  However, I could tell this man was mortified by what just happened.  I hurried up and finished and decided that I would laughingly tell him about how difficult it is to tell if the door is locked and make some sort of small talk to make this stranger feel better.  However, when I opened the door, he was standing in the hallway, turned completely away from the door, his back to me and his arms crossed.  He wouldn’t look at me or say anything.  I thought it best at that point to just slip past him without saying a word.

As I was heading out the door, the only words that came to mind were, “Sir, I’ve given birth…in the Middle East…this little incident cannot possibly faze me in the least bit.”  I giggled as I walked to my car.  I truly felt sorry for the guy.

There was a day when I would have been the mortified one.  I would have apologized all over myself.  I would have played the incident in my head over and over.  I would have felt stupid.  But instead, I laughed.  It’s funny what grace and life teach you.

Yeah, I’m really liking 36.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No, Virginia, they didn't look like this...

I gotta tell ya'... I laughed out loud when I saw this on a Biblical research site recently.  There's blond, blue-eyed Cain or Able with, wait, that's not his mom & dad!  That's Garden Barbie & Ken!  Collect the whole series... Malibu Barbie now comes with a sheepskin wrap and matching fig leaf slippers!

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to create their view of history.  For the record, there's a pretty good chance that the first family looked more like someone from Palestine than Pasadena.

And Adam wasn't a Dapper Dan Man.  I'm positive.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Green" Grass mowing

First off, I'd like to thank a previous owner of our property for putting in the retaining wall in the front yard.  I love retaining walls and am excited I didn't have to deal with the headache.  They also planted these lovely lilies which happened to bloom this last week.  I've never had lilies blooming in my front yard.  I feel special.

And all this talk of yards means that, yes, I have a yard and thus, I have a yard to mow.  I haven't had that pleasure since...ah, maybe 2004 when we lived on Windsor.  I don't have a large yard.  It's a decent amount, a postage stamp up front, but long, narrow and sloping out back (perfect for another retaining wall!).  
When looking for a lawn mower I got all goose-pimply about a reel mower.  Yep, like old-school Leave it to Beaver kind of thing.  Fiskars (of scissors and sharp things fame) decided to put their prowess to work on turf reduction in a grand scale.  No trimming here.  Their Momentum reel mower drags your grandpa's torturous process into the Jetsons' realm.  It's smooth, sharp as a razor and requires no gas.  There's 4 inch height adjustment and near edge-to-edge cutting.  Do I sound like I bought one?  You bet I did.  And now I can listen to the cicadas scratching out their dirge instead of a Briggs & Stratton muffler.  The neighbors ask questions... kids walking by want to try it out.  It's pretty cool. 

Now, it's not all roses and rainbows.  You have to stay on a pretty short schedule or the lawn length will get away from you.  The longer weeds and dandelions don't get sucked in like a convention mower, so you have to go back and get them by hand (see shot below... there's long weed sticking up right in front!).  And it doesn't work well without long straight, smooth lines to cut.  You can't do short hops easily.  I'm having to fill in spots in my yard from burrowing canines... it just makes for a happier experience.  Overall, I'm pleased as punch with the thing.  Plus, it's great cardio.  Swing by... I'll let you take it for spin.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I've been trying to include Cooper in stuff that I do around the house... of course, it also means he's cleaning other people's baseboards now.  But, sometimes it makes for some enduring experiences... like the coffee table we put together recently... together.  The li'l guy loves screwdrivers... but not hammers.  Thankfully.  And the reverse button on the drill.  Why not the trigger, dude?  Nope, just wanna hit the reverse button, Dad.

Yuck... again.

Some of you may remember the flood we experienced in Jordan.  While we enjoyed the country, that was one event we'd rather not have had to do over.  (Insert maniacal laughter here... and foreshadowing music that lets you know, the following ain't gonna be pretty.)

We've moved into an 85 year-old house.  We've lived in these types of places before.  We know the character that comes with the property.  Creaking floors, scary basements, it's all part of the game.  One of the first items of business was a carpet cleaner.  We'd noticed some... odors.  Now, I'd like to give this word of warning to those of you with cats.  I've lived with cats.  I know what they're capable of.  If they're not happy, they'll take a dump in your shower (personal experience with that one).  And if they're using your closet instead of their box, no amount of carpet shampoo or smelly soaps will clean it up.

After the cleaner dude was gone, there was still a lingering atmosphere that just had to go.  First, we stripped the carpet out of Cooper's closet, bleached the floor and continued our "sniff-tests."  We're talkin' nose to the... um... grindstone.  While the front entry way wasn't in terrible shape, we'd had some comments from more gentile nostrils.  When I pulled back the carpet our fears were confirmed.

 But it was when we pulled back the padding we knew we'd entered a new level of reconstruction.  We bleached and scrubbed.  And bleached and scrubbed.  And at the end of the night it looked better.  But, you can be pretty sure this isn't the end... anybody wanna do some unexpected carpet shopping?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is he getting this?

We've been working on the house pretty hard... Suz all day and me once I cut loose from the desk.  Cooper's been right there in the middle of it with us, sometimes in one hand while the other hand is scrubbing or drilling or painting.  It's an old house and there's plenty of corners to clean.  If you wonder how much time you spend doing something, maybe you should turn around and see what your kids are doing... chances are, they're imitating you.

Tonight, we were putting together a futon for Cooper's room (I know, it's never too early to get them ready for college... next he gets a lava lamp and a mini-fridge of Red Bull; there's another story to that, but it's not my point here.). So, I turn around and in walks Cooper with a screwdriver he picked up.  He goes right to the boards and starts trying to tighten the screws down.  One by one.  Well, we're just proud as punch, but then he leaves and comes back with a brush from the bathroom... and begins to scrub the thing down.

Yep, we're teaching him something alright, at least he'll be clean... hopefully it doesn't scar him for life!