Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Li'l Drummer Boy

Cooper's been asking for a set of Blue Drums for some time now.  He's got a drum that he plays around with and he likes to beat on my congas (which are pretty much his now).  Actually, now that I think about it, it was the McClintocks who gave him that first drum... thanks guys!  He's really gotten a lot of use out of it.  In fact, when he's watching concerts, he'll get a booster seat and set up his own kit.  I've let him work out on the church kit after hours a couple of time.  He's got quite a punch.

So, this weekend we were in Wisconsin (a whole 'nother story) and I noticed a Guitar Center near our hotel.  What better way to bond with your 2 y-o than go gear hunting?  And we did.

If you've never been in a GC, imagine all the gear from a massive road show crammed floor to ceiling in one maze of a space.  Amp racks, heads, drums, lighting, pro audio, and wall-to-wall guitars.  I normally stop just inside the door just to smell it.  Any gearhead will tell you there's something wonderful about the wafting of new gear in the morning.

This time I paused as my son stopped dead in his tracks and went, "Whoooooa..."

That's my boy. 

 We lingered a bit with a few guys who were testing stomp boxes and then turned the corner into percussion.  My son lost all interest in anything else.  We pulled some sticks and went on the test ride of his life.  Interestingly enough, I couldn't get him into the electronic sets.  He's an acoustic man through & through.  

So, without further ado, here's Cooper's first run at a retail test kit.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blood draw gone wrong

My insurance provider performs wellness checks every year. Included is a blood test. My stick was uneventful... But as the day went on, my arm continued to be sore. Bruising started Tuesday evening. By Wednesday night I was taking pictures! The next shot is Saturday... Still sore and spreading!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Historical Hand-Me-Downs

 I love history.  I love the stuff of history.  It's one thing to read about an event, but having a little something authentic from the event makes it all the more tasty.  This works quite well in my position at the College... I'm surrounded by the flotsam & jetsam of the past 85 years... yearbooks, letter jackets, the odd medal or trophy.  It's wonderful.  I also think it's terribly cool to incorporate the historical into a modern setting which, a paragraph later, brings me to my point today...

Years ago, when I was old enough to think these things through, I decided I wanted the giant spray-booth lights out of my Grandfather's shop.  These things were massive, 300 watt, blast-proof fixtures that were supposedly scavenged from an shut-down Alco Valve factory in St. Louis.  I didn't know what I'd do with them, but they'd be cool wherever they showed up.

A couple of years ago the family did a massive clean out of Grandpa's shop in St. Louis.  We all got bits and pieces of things that held significance to us... and there were the lights.  In the back of my truck.  On the way to a storage unit (because, at the time, we didn't have a house... we were out getting our passports stamped in exotic locales).
Once we moved into the Lee St. house, I knew exactly where the lights would go... although I think it was pretty confusing for Grandpa.  "Son, that's 600 watts of light there.  Why would you put them in your kitchen?"

Well, Grandpa, first, I replaced the 300w bulb with a 7w CFL.  

And second, they're just so totally cool.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SUZI: A li'l sweetness never hurt any...

We try not to eat too much candy around here, but we certainly have some in the house.  I don’t think it pays off to not let kids have any candy.  I believe that only makes them want it more.  We’ve always kept our candy in a cabinet just over our kitchen counter. 

(This is all basic foreshadowing.  I’m talking about candy and kids.  Any idea what happens next?)

Cooper is doing a lot better about playing on his own for a little while, so every day at some point, I let him stay downstairs for a short while and I go upstairs to check my email or something.  It gives him a little freedom and it gives me a mini break.  After one such break, I ran downstairs and noticed the candy cabinet was open.  Hmmmm….I didn’t remember leaving it open, but I naively still didn’t suspect anything at that point.  Until I came into the living room and saw Cooper wandering around with a half eaten sucker in his hand.  And a bunch of chocolate wrappers on the floor. 

“Hey, Cooper…can you show Mommy where you got that candy?”  

He led me straight to the cabinet and pointed right to it.  

He was so proud.  

His eyes were absolutely sparkling. 

Secretly I was really proud of him for thinking through all of that, climbing up there and getting his sweet treat.  I didn’t want to make it a big deal, so I just told him that while it was neat that he was big enough to get the candy himself that he needed to ask us before getting into the cabinet.

Nothing happened until about three weeks later when I came downstairs only to find him sitting on the counter, chocolate wrappers strewn about, with a piece of candy in each hand.  And, people, he looked darling.  I told him to stay right where he was as I reached for the camera and snapped a shot.  (Scott later questioned me about this and wondered if maybe that was just reinforcing Cooper.  My response?  “Of course it was reinforcing him!  Of course it was the wrong thing, but he looked so cute I had to take his picture first!”)  So we had another little chat about the candy, and so far he’s left it alone.

The funniest thing was that later I was looking for something behind the couch.  As I leaned down, I noticed little silvery Hershey’s Kiss wrappers littering the space between the wall and the couch.  Apparently, when I had caught Cooper up on that counter, he had been going back for seconds and had already enjoyed a helping of chocolate in his little hiding place behind the couch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Influenza and Colds

I usually don't forward stuff on and I myself rarely read random forwards ("Don't DELETE!  Obama OUTLAWED Kissing on BUSES!).  This, however, is newsworthy and timely... and my insurance company copied it from WebMD and put it in a newsletter,  so, you know, I trust it... somewhat.

I know, I know, it's all common sense stuff, but it's a good reminder as we head into The Season...

So, get your tissues, wash your hands, and be germ-free.
Source: WebMD
With no known cure for colds and flu it is important to take steps toward prevention. Colds can weaken your immune system and allow other, more serious germs to take hold in your body. And if you've ever suffered through the flu, you definitely want to take steps to avoid it. While we can't promise you'll never get sick, we can share some proven strategies to increase your odds of staying well. So read on and live healthy this cold and flu season.

Keep Germs Away
Washing your hands frequently is the number one way to reduce illness. A study conducted by the Naval Health Research Center showed that recruits who were ordered to wash their hands five times a day cut their incidence of respiratory illnesses by 45 percent.

Focus on Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May. It's best to get vaccinated before flu season starts, however, it's beneficial anytime during the flu season. While the vaccine is safe for most adults, please check with your healthcare provider to determine if it is right for you.

Survival Tips
If you do end up getting sick there are ways you can minimize your symptoms and prevent the spread of infection. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and then dispose of it. Coughing into your hands makes it easier to pass the germs on. Also, ask your doctor about taking zinc lozenges and cook up a pot of hot chicken soup. Both may reduce the time you suffer from a cold. Don't pressure your physician for antibiotics. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics, designed to kill bacteria, won't do a thing. In fact, they can kill off friendly bacteria that are part of our immune defenses. If you get the flu your physician might prescribe an antiviral drug, which is different from an antibiotic. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious complications.

What is the Difference Between Colds and Flu?
Because flu symptoms are quite similar to cold symptoms, it's often hard to tell the difference. However, there is one clue about flu that helps you identify it. When you have the flu, you feel flu-like symptoms sooner than you would cold symptoms, and they come on with much greater intensity. With the flu, you may feel very weak and fatigued for up to two or three weeks. You'll have muscle aches and periods of chills and sweats as fever comes and goes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose, headache, and sore throat.

Comparing Flu and Cold Symptoms
The following chart compares flu symptoms with cold symptoms. Use it to learn the differences and similarities between these two illnesses. If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor and ask about an antiviral drug.

SUZI: Still Teaching

I had a wonderful father-in-law; I learned so many things from him.  He taught me a Bible study when I didn’t know anything about the Lord.  He helped me learn to pray.  I watched his commitment to his church.  He taught me about loving your community and looking outside of yourself.  I learned about painting, remodeling, refinishing, cooking and a list that would be too long to name.  I learned a lot about life from him.  But more importantly, I learned how to die from him.

It’s taken me a year to write this.  It’s taken my mind a long time to deal with the fact that my dad is gone and now my father-in-law is gone.  But I think my brain has processed enough of it to wrap my head around some of my thoughts.  Vernon was so calm and steady to the very end.  I have heard of people in their last moments who give a pulled-together public image but behind the scenes are freaking out and questioning God.  Not Vernon.  He was just simply, well,… Vernon.  Smooth and steady.

He didn’t really want to leave his grandchildren and family behind, but he was just so committed to the will of the Lord in his life, that the disappointment of that was easily overshadowed with trusting the Lord.  No kicking.  No screaming.  No shaking his fist at the sky.  Just Vernon reminding all of us that what He wants is best.  That He’s in control, and we just need to let Him be.  Our actions reveal who we really are and what we really believe.  It was Vernon’s actions, not his words, that were so powerful that last weekend.  They were the proof of his unwavering belief.  Of his steadfast life.  Of his powerful trust with one of the most precious passions he had…his life.

So, thank you, Vernon, for all of those life lessons.  I think the last lesson you left us summed it all up the best.  It was the one that spoke the loudest because it exemplified all that you believed for those short 64 years you were here.  Thank you for teaching us until the very end.  One of these days when it is our time, my wish is to leave this world with as much grace, dignity and trust as you did.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall is Here!

On the way to Columbia tonight I was amazed at the colors that slowly appeared over the past week.

I love fall... much more than spring. Mainly, I think, because there's a chance for warmth in fall, but spring is always blustery and chilly.

It kids around with you, handing out sun in April and a brisk breeze that sends you scampering inside for an extra layer.

Spring: Faker.

Fall: Happy. Warmth.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

LA for the Weekend

So, we hopped a plane to LA for the weekend... like we were fancy or something... or because Suzi's cousin said, "Why don't you come out and stay with us?"

And so we did... and it was nice.  They live in an gentrifying area called Echo Park, which seems to be 20 minutes to just about everywhere in LA.  I think we Mid-westerners (and the rest of the world fed by satellite TV, for that matter) seem to think that LA is all red carpets and glamor and gang-bangers and Lindsey Lohah running into things all the time.

But it's not (well, not all the time)... it's quite like any other urban area where people are working very hard to scrape together a living.  Of course, some of them are producing products that millions of folks will line up to watch/ eat/ smell, but at the end of the day, it's a job.  And we all know what that means... a job is work.  And work is what you do when you're not at home with your family, on the back porch enjoying amazing weather.

Near the ocean.

Which is what separates SoCal from the landlocked bunch of us... ocean... nice breezes.  Mountains in the morning.  Surf in the afternoon.  And that's just what we did.

Well, we didn't surf.  We kinda stood near the edge of the waves and let Cooper get wet in the salty stuff for the first time.  Which he thought was pretty cool... and totally cold.

There was no way I was getting in that water.

We drove up to Mt. Wilson Observatory... and it became clear why the fires a few years ago would have been so devastating to this national scientific treasure.  Cooper got to plod around in high elevation and his parents kicked themselves for leaving the stroller in the car...

(Carrying an extra 30 lbs of tired li'l boy on a mountain trail = "Here you take him for a bit." )

It's always nice to hang out with locals when you go to a new city... they take you to their fave haunts and off-the-book eateries.  And let you scab off their internet and crash in their space.  It was a plus that Cooper was so unbelievably comfy... it was just quite a relaxing weekend.

All the pictures are over here...