Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pics from Connor's first year

It's mind boggling to think it's already been one year! Well, mind boggling to us, Connor seems a little unimpressed by the fact that he's a year old.

A few of our little guy's current accomplishments:
  • He now has 8 teeth: 4 top front and 4 bottom front
  • He's crawling lightning fast
  • He is standing for short periods of time (8 seconds is the record)
  • He loves to dance and...
  • He can't get enough of his stuffed ravioli dinners.
We can only imagine what this next year has in store for us! Enjoy the next set!

Connor's 12th Month and A Look Back At Year One

Previous installments (just in case you missed any):

11 Months

10 Months

9 months

8 months

7 months

6 months

5 months

4 months

Beginning of 4th month

3 months

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Connor turns 1

My son turns one today and in a few hours we'll be celebrating with some local friends and family. Pictures as soon as we can get them online.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Bathroom Door

The more I hear about MRSA, the more of a germaphobe I become. Unfortunately, this has led me down some paths of truly bizarre logic.

Take, for instance, the the door to the men's room at my office.

Like most men's rooms, you push the door to open it. And like most there's a metal plate where you're supposed to do the pushing.

For as long as I can remember, I've always avoided the "men's room door plate" like the plague, envisioning all the other people who've touched that plate and figuring that I was literally avoiding the plague by avoiding the plate. I've picked some spot above or below or to the side of that plate to push on instead.

Until today.

Today I had an epiphany as I was approaching the men's room: That door is filthy. The plate is shiny with nary a finger smudge on it. Everyone else is ALSO avoiding the plate which, when you think about it, is THE ONLY PLACE ON THE DOOR THAT ACTUALLY GETS CLEANED REGULARLY BY THE HOUSEKEEPING STAFF.


So now I just go outside and pee in the bushes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Connor's Fat Lip

On the way home from work today, as we're pulling into the daycare parking lot, my wife says to me "Oh, by the way, Connor got a fat lip at daycare today."

Turns out it wasn't as bad as I'd envisioned it. I've been gifted with a fat lip once in my life as a result of a Karate punch that wasn't pulled as well as it should have been by the guy I was practicing with in class and it wasn't pretty. I was really not looking forward to seeing any infant with a fat lip, let alone my son. However when we arrived at his room, he was sitting in a teacher's arms, looking a little unhappy and only a little swollen with a tooth-width scab on his upper lip.

Apparently the little guy was exercising his will in class and when he was moved from a place on the floor that he apparently wanted very much to return to, he scrambled off faster than his little arms and legs could take him and face-planted into the linoleum, biting his lip in the process.

Fortuitous - and I guess you could say somewhat serendipitous - that I picked out a red shirt when I dressed him this morning. Though as a Star Trek fan I should have known better...

So now we're home and he's doing well. I figure the scab will be gone in a few days since babies heal quickly. I just hope he heals better than I did... I can still feel where my lip met my tooth over 8 years ago.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Renaissance Babies

Today, we took Connor to the Charlotte Renaissance Festival. It's 20 acres of shops, food and characters with 6 stages offering constant entertainment. It's only the second Ren Fest I've ever been to. The first was in Laguna many years ago and we didn't stay there long, so I really can't say how they compare against one another.

Along for the ride were our friends Mary and Eric and their daughter Lila who was born 3 months ago. My sister's family was also there. The original idea was for us to all meet up and hang out together, but Francine got there before us (we were late) and between juggling babies, lunch and too much noise to hear your cellphone most of the time, we only bumped into Francine, Rob and Sam a few times.

Everyone had a lot of fun. We started the day by feasting on turkey legs and "Steak on a stake" for lunch. Eric and I shot crossbows and tried our hand at the thing where you use a huge mallet to try to knock a slider up a rail to ring the bell... whatever that's called... the only sign on the thing was "Play at your own risk". Misha and Mary took Connor though a maze and found a "gold" coin which was really plastic and a gimmick to get kids to run through the maze since you got to keep all the coins you could find. Connor wasn't too thrilled with the slide you had to go down to reach the exit though. Then, there was the Fudge vendor (yum) and the mead from ye olde pub (yum) and we wrapped the day with the Petting Zoo (stinky and oddly overrun with spiders). We all returned to the car tired and ready to go home.

I think I still smell a bit like dirt and Turkey Leg.

Some pics from the day:

Connor and Lila arriving at the Festival

Eric and Lila. She got lots of compliments about the cute hat.

Misha and Connor. I was taking this sideways and couldn't see the LCD so the composition's off, but I still like the shot.

Connor and Sam ... um... hanging out... (sorry, had to)

The petting zoo was a hit until we got swarmed through the fence by sheep.

"Oyez! Oyez! King Connor and Queen Lila decree that the day is over!"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Election 2008

I've been getting a lot of e-mail from friends about the upcoming election. I have friends on both sides of the spectrum and some in the middle, so it's an interesting array of messages that I find in my inbox these days.

What's concerning to me is - both in these e-mails and in conversations I've had and overheard recently - there's more pertaining to race and gender than the issues. I worry that as the election draws nearer, it will become more and more about race and gender than issues, and that's somewhat frightening.

Let me try to sum this up for everyone that's been inspired to vote based on the race or gender of the candidates:

It's not the history that will be made by either party on 11/4/2008 that's critical to the future of our nation, it's the history that will be made after 1/20/2009 that will matter.

Study the issues. Learn about the candidates. Make an informed decision.

We're all counting on you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pinball Pictures

A lot of our friends have been asking for pictures of our Addams Family pinball machine. So without further ado...

The game arrived wrapped in the shipping industry's version of saran wrap. A previous job taught me it's also useful for securing coworkers to chairs.

Misha wasted no time opening up her new treasure. Well, actually we waited 3 days. Until we had a night that Connor went down early and there was nothing else to do around the house.

A standalone shot of the game. Yes, we have a low ceiling in the basement.

A portrait of the machine and its owner. Misha had me retake this so it would say "The Addams Family" in the display. We've since found out you can also create a custom message, so the machine now also says "Gomberg Family Pinball". Cute, huh?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here comes the rain again...

Can I tell you how much I hate hurricanes?

Usually when it rains here, the wind blows from the southwest so it hits the front of our house, but these hurricanes are changing the wind's direction and causing the rain to hit the back of our house... with unfortunate circumstances.

See, when we moved in, there was no way for the dogs to get outside. Making matters worse, the doors to our backyard are all full-pane glass, so we couldn't cut a dog door in them. So we settled on buying a slab at Lowes and a dog door and installing both in a temporary solution. Very temporary... no weatherstripping at the bottom (which made for cold toes in the winter) and some insulating foam keeping the elements from using the dog door frame as a personal invitation to come on into the house.

Trouble is, this was never meant to have been used as long as it has and now it's the rainy season.

When Gustav rolled through, we got our first taste. The rain pelted the back of the house and poured down in torrents. Opening the back door, you'd think all our gutters had clogged from the amount of rain that was hitting the back of the house. Trouble was, this rain was streaming down the walls and door and straight into the framework of the dog door and into the house through the bottom of the frame. Not a lot of water, but we've got hardwoods in the kitchen, so it was important to take care of it. Rain was also coming in under the door due to the lack of weatherstripping. Luckily, we were home and caught it quickly and the rain didn't last long.

Now, Ike's upon us (well, not quite the way it's upon Texas at the moment... not even close) and we got another drencher against the back of the house, but this time water was streaming into the kitchen and onto the wood floors like someone had turned on a faucet.

I'd bought weatherstripping for the bottom of the door... I just hadn't gotten around to installing it yet. I figured that I'd have to take the door down and lay it flat to install the weatherstripping and screw it on properly. Picking up the door when I bought it almost gave me a hernia, so I wasn't looking forward to pulling it off it's hinges and lugging it around again. But in the heat of the moment, it dawned on me that I could just slide the weatherstripping onto the bottom of the door from the side, thereby fully realizing installation without also realizing a hernia. So out comes the weatherstripping and I open the door allowing even more water in from the deluge. About halfway onto the door I realized the folly of this plan: It was getting harder to push on the further it went and now I couldn't close the door at all without either finishing the installation or removing it completely. Some help from my wife and a hammer later, the strip was on and the door was closed. No more water from under the door, but it was still streaming in like a faucet from the dog door.

I opened the door again, inviting in the rain, and realized that the foam insulation that the installer had used to "weatherseal" the dog door to the rear door was cracking and most likely was the culprit. It also dawned on me that the foam did a great job covering the areas where gaps had been created by the door's panelling, but wasn't used at the areas of the dog door that were flush with the wood of the rear door. Both the foam and these exposed areas would have to be sealed... and fast. Trouble is, the door is wet, the dog door is wet and there's nothing I have on hand that will seal a hole without having a nice hot dry sunny day to set properly for several hours. We were running out of towels, so I ran to Home Depot (it's juuuuuust closer and easier to get to that Lowes and I needed a solution fast) leaving Misha with Connor to look after the door and the floor (and Connor, of course).

After several ideas that didn't pan out (either the suggested solution wasn't waterproof until dry or wasn't going to fill a hole, only seal a seam) Home Depot was able to direct me to a roofing sealer that plugs into a caulking gun that promised to seal roof leaks while wet. There was even a picture of a guy in a yellow rain slicker up on his roof right on the tube. I was sold. Of course, I've never used a caulk gun, but how hard could it be.

Of course, by the time I get out of the store, the rain's lightened considerably, but it's still drizzling so there's a chance that there's still an issue at the house. I rush home and set up the caulking gun, then reset it after realizing how to pierce the tube to get the stuff inside to squeeze out and then I'm in business.

The stuff is like tar and smells almost as bad. But it's viscous and oily and seems to be causing the water to bead on its surface, so it just might work. You're supposed to spread it around with a putty knife, but I don't have one, so a finger will have to do. Trouble is... this stuff gets everywhere... it's like tree sap. Later I'll realize that in order to clean my hands I need yet another "shop" item that I don't own: waterless hand cleanser (not to be confused with waterless hand sanitizer... I think I actually heard the goo laughing at me when the sanitizer touched it).

So I finish the job in my raincoat on the back porch (I can imagine what a sight I was) and use paper towels to wipe up the excess gunk so the dogs don't get any on themselves when they come through the door (because, people?... This stuff ain't never going to dry) and then go hunting for my wife's nail polish remover to get rid of the stuff that's now thoroughly coating at least half of my fingers. I must say, it did a great job getting it off my nails. The skin? Nothing. Well, almost nothing. It took a while but I was able to get it to a state somewhere between "still dirty" and "no longer sticky" so I was happy and figured either I'd get it out in the shower the next morning or wait until the outer layer of skin died off and took the gunk with it.

So emergency averted, floor dry, long overdue task completed, handyman sense of accomplishment achieved (AARGH-argh-argh-argh) and now it's no longer raining so I have no idea if it really works.

But it sure looks like it will.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another Tooth!

Just yesterday we were talking to my sister and commenting on how long it had been since Connor's first 2 teeth came in. We were thinking he's been teething again from the way he's been fussing recently and his upper gums look "ready", but still nothing.

Then tonight, I'm putting some Orajel on him and there it is, a new tooth just barely poking through the gums. So Connor's top front left tooth is on its way in now and I expect the right side isn't far behind, just like with the bottom teeth.

That's all, just wanted to share.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Connor's now 9 months old

Here's the 9-Month picture set:

Kodak Gallery

You know, when I think back over the past 9 months and compare them to the nine months Connor was in the womb during which we sold and bought a house, moved across country and changed jobs... I'm not sure which was the easier 9 month span.

All I know is I wouldn't trade the memories of either for anything.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Second Anniversary

Misha and I celebrated our second anniversary today. We've actually been together for almost 6 years now. Sometimes it's hard to believe.

We celebrated by feeding Connor dinner, playing some Addams Family pinball and eating the dinner I made (New York Strip steaks, mashed potatoes and veggies) while watching an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on the TiVo.

We're going to wait for the weekend to get out and really celebrate. Labor day weekend was spent doing things around the house and besides... EVERYONE's out and about Labor Day weekend, so we'd rather wait until attractions and restaurants have calmed down.

It's been an amazing and wonderful 2 years... here's to many, many more.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another milestone not going in Connor's baby book

I gave my son his first wet willy today.

I was riding next to him in the car and couldn't resist. He didn't even flinch. But then I didn't really get my finger that wet and it's not like I can even stick my pinkie in his ear canal at this age.

I proudly announced this milestone event to my wife in the driver's seat. She was less than amused.

I guess it's a guy thing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Addams Family Pinball Values

For as long as I've known her, my wife has always wanted 2 things:

1) a 1966 Ford Mustang
2) an Addams Family pinball machine

She came close to #1 in College when she bought herself a 1967 Mustang (sold off long before we met).

Now, tonight, she can mark #2 off her list.

Much the same way that I troll ebay for Disney Haunted Mansion stuff, she's been known to look for the Addams Family pinball machine. But it's always been more than she's willing to spend and besides... where would we put a pinball machine?

But wait, our new house has a basement that we plan to turn into a game/media room!
... and her mid-year bonus is just sitting in savings earning interest!
... and her worthless husband still owes her a Mother's Day gift!
... and her birthday's coming up!

So now that there's room and we're wanting to be good "economy stimulating" citizens and I'm a dottering moron when it comes to buying gifts (hey, acknowledging it is the first step, right?), there's nothing standing in the way.

And wouldn't you know it, a very nice specimen comes up on ebay and the price is reasonable (compared to some of the others we've seen out there) and with a little cajoling from me, she bought it.

Wow... I don't think I've seen her this happy since our wedding day.

Maybe happier.



Thursday, August 7, 2008

Connor's New Trick

Connor surprised us both with a new trick this evening:


Yup, he's crawling.

And yup, that's me saying "we're in trouble".

And yup, that's the TiVo remote. Chip off the old couch potato.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bonnie & Clyde Turned 2 Today!

Misha stopped at PetSmart and picked them up some new toys with sound chips inside. This is a rare treat for the pups, because they love toys with sound chips and they go nuts when the toy starts barking or quacking or laughing or playing music really loudly...

Yeah, it's a rare treat...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All Good Things...

One of our favorite things to do when we lived in California was to go to Las Vegas. And one of my favorite things to to at Vegas was to ride on Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.

I've been a fan of The Experience since it first opened and enjoyed it immensely. The practical effects were second to none. I mean, c'mon: they completely redress an entire room as you're standing in it (with the lights off) in about 20 seconds. And not only is the room different, it's seemingly inconceivably bigger based on the dimensions where you know you just were moments ago. I was lucky enough to take the "backstage tour" when they started offering it and got to see the workings of that effect with the lights on and it's still breathtaking.

The highlight for any Next Generation fan was a stop on a reproduction of the bridge of the Enterprise-D. (And if you're a TNG fan, you'll recognize the title of this post and its relevance.) As a special treat, the facility also hosted weddings on the bridge, something that was always a secret dream. (Ok, not so secret if you know my love of Star Trek.) I know my wife would never go for our actual wedding on the bridge, but she'd agreed it might be fun to do one day to renew our vows. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my wife?

But, alas, all is for naught, for The Powers That Be have decided that after 11 years, The Experience will be serving it's last patron on September 1, 2008. I can't believe it, and yet somehow I can see that it was inevitable. The Experience sits in a large section of the hotel and is attached to a Space-themed casino (complete with a mock-urinalysis when you used the men's room urinals) that was largely vacant most days. And the price of The Experience kept going up. And they gutted one half of the attraction to build an updated Borg 4-D adventure that was pretty cool but not nearly as groundbreaking as the original Next Generation ride (which was still there thankfully). Heck, they even Borged-out one of the fancy new Monorail cars to try to advertise the ride and get more traffic.

A lot of time and effort and money went into keeping that place running and there was apparently not enough to show for it so the hotel's owners decided that they could make more money with that space (no pun intended) if they got rid of The Experience and put something else there.

I'm sure we'll be back in Las Vegas one day soon. I hope whatever they decide to replace The Experience with is worth it. And a small part of me hopes they're able to save the sets and I'll still be able to renew my vows on the bridge of the Enterprise-D with my beautiful wife and some guy presiding who looks vaguely like Patrick Stewart.

Hey, a guy can dream...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well don't we feel like bad parents now...

Connor's first tooth has arrived.

We'd love to tell you exactly when it sprouted, but the little guy didn't really give us the warning (read: inconsolable screaming) that we were expecting based on what we've heard about teething from most people. Granted he's been touchy from time to time, but we figured there'd be more drama as the tooth actually emerged.

So imagine our surprise when we went into the Doctor's office this past Wednesday and as she's checking his gums and asking us if he's gotten any teeth yet and we're answering her "no, not yet", we hear her say, "Oh, there's one!"...

Well, crap.

Naturally, we're thrilled that another milestone has been reached and there were the phone calls to family that accompany such things. But darn if we didn't feel bad that we had to have someone point out to us that our son has started popping out teeth.

At least it'll be easier to tell when he starts crawling...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Go west young man.

We just got back from Los Angeles and a faster-than-it-should-have-been tour of family and friends. In hindsight, we wish we'd had a few extra days to spend, but given that this was our first trip out of Charlotte since Connor was born, we wanted to be as non-disruptive as possible to his routine.

We flew out on Thursday and Connor was great on the flight. He had a few moments, but his ears didn't seem to bother him and he slept for most of the flight (props to my wife for holding him both times and allowing all the blood to drain from her arms so he wouldn't wake up.) At one point a woman suggested that we let him run around the cabin a bit to calm him down during one of his little fits. Yeah... lady... he ain't even crawling yet... Must be all that hair.

We landed in LA, rented a car, swung through Carl's Jr. for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger (Hardee's doesn't sell them out here despite being Carl's Jr. in alsmost every other conceivable way), drove to San Diego, checked into our hotel and had dinner with some friends at a Mongolian place we used to frequent. Yup, we're crazy, but it was fun and it proved to be better than trying to go to dinner with them on Friday night.

Friday we swung past our respective previous offices. We started the day at my wife's company's San Diego office where she had been working before we moved and she said hello to all the people still there and got to meet several new employees who only know her as a voice on the phone. In the afternoon we dropped in at Sharp HealthCare to visit my ex-teammates at Central Materiel Management. (Yes, "materiel" is spelled correctly, look it up.) A lot has changed there, but a lot has stayed the same. All in all a rather surreal event. We closed the day with dinner at Souplantation (which our friend Don astutely dubbed "Everything but the meal") because the nearest Souplantation in NC is almost 3 hours away (and fresh corn on your salad is not worth the price of gas to get it.)

Funny story, we actually looked into setting up a Souplantation franchise here in Charlotte with the equity from our place in San Diego, but all of their restaurants are owned and operated by the company so all we could do was send them e-mail begging them to consider opening one locally.

Saturday we drove up to visit Misha's Grandma and Uncle in Burbank. It was great to see them, especially since we weren't able to fly out to attend her 90th birthday party. Afterwards we went to her mom's house where her mom had hired a professional photographer to take pictures of Connor in a 150 year old Christening gown that Misha had been photographed in as a baby. They even used the same chair (though it has been reupholstered since Misha's photos.) The pic was one that Larrian's been eager to get since before we got pregnant, so we couldn't refuse her. Other poses were taken with Connor in his diaper and a cute outfit. The final pictures came out great, though the photographer's a bit on the pricey side so we're not sure how many we'll end up purchasing.

Sunday we drove up to my parent's house but stopped by Eden Memorial Park to visit the graves of my Aunt Bernice and Uncle George. Aunt Bernice passed away last April, right after we arrived in Charlotte and we weren't able to fly home for the funeral. She was an amazing lady, full of more life than most people I know, and with more energy than the average 25 year old. It was a great loss and since we were back in town and had the opportunity to visit her grave, I didn't want to pass it up.

Later that morning, we got to my parents house which was in the final stages of preparation for Connor's naming ceremony. A Jewish boy is usually given his Hebrew name at his Bris, but since we had him circumcised at the hospital and didn't have a formal bris, we wanted to have a get-together at my parents to give him his name and introduce him to friends and family who hadn't had a chance to meet him yet.

We gave Connor the Hebrew name "Chaim Zohar". "Chaim" means "Life" and "Zohar" means "Light" or "Brilliance". We felt this was a fitting name as he is the brilliant light in our lives. "Chaim" is also the masculine form of "Chaya" which was my grandmother Irene's Hebrew name and whom Connor's middle name "Raine" memorializes. The ceremony was very nice (albeit a bit sweaty since it was outside during a heatwave) and was conducted by Rabbi Don Singer who also married us back in 2006 so it was nice to have him also conduct this ceremony. A real Circle of Life moment. It was also great to see family and friends, though the afternoon went quickly and I would have liked to have been able to spend more time with everyone.

Then, Monday, we packed it all in and flew home. Another rather uneventful flight (except during taxiing to the runway when the turned off the air and Connor went nuts) and we got home late thanks to a delay in LA, but it was good to be home. A mixed feeling somewhat because it would have been good to spend more time at each our destinations. We were so rushed at times that I'm getting tired again just writing about this trip, but we managed to get it all in and then some, so all-in-all a smashing success.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Connor's Picture Galleries

For months now, my diligent wife has been dutifully placing photos of Connor online using Kodak photo gallery and adding her own cute captions as she goes.

I've been forwarding on most of these galleries to friends and family, but it occurred to me that I'm not sending to everyone every time and some of you haven't seen them at all. For this, I am truly sorry.

To help rectify this situation, I'm listing the complete Connor Kodak Collection below. We've settled into a once-a-month routine now, so be sure to check back for future updates... and I'll try to remember to e-mail everyone as well. :)

(First... For those who missed our pics of his Birth and First Few Weeks)

3 Months

3.5 Months

4 Months

4.5 Months

5 months

6 months

Friday, June 13, 2008

Connor Sits Up

Yes, that's "sits" not "spits" (though there's been the occasional bit of that as well.)

Connor's moving from Infant 1 to Infant 2 at his day care, so to get him ready, they've been working with him on sitting up. Apparently this is one of the "milestone" abilities that helps him earn his golden ticket to the next room.

Granted, he's been sitting for a while now, but mostly with support and never in a very stable manner, but now that they've been doing whatever it is they've been doing at daycare, he's actually able to sit up without support for extended periods.

There's still the tendency to lean and fall over sideways, but front-to-back he's solid. It's pretty cool. He's now able to play with some of the toys we have that you need to be sitting up to play with.

Next step: Crawling.

AARP 4 Me?

So, yeah...

My membership application for the AARP arrived the other day, complete with temporary ID Card.

C'mon people, I haven't even hit 40 yet. Heck, I haven't even hit 35 for that matter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Whatever Channel

Why don't they just say "Heck if we know?..."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Connor's First Playdate

Connor had his first playdate today. Yeah, I know he's too young to actually play with another child, but it was a nice opportunity to spend some time with a couple we met in our childbirth class with whom we've become friendly.

Funny story about that... we actually ended the class without getting their contact info and regretted not asking them for it because they seemed like "our kind of people". (Ok, so they were the only other Jewish couple in the class... but it wasn't just for that reason.) We figured we'd probably see them at Babies R Us at some point as we'd run into other classmates there and were already spending a lot of time there before Connor was even born. What we didn't figure on was the wife going into labor 5 weeks early and them ending up in the room next to us for most of the time we were in the maternity ward. And just think, if we hadn't complained so much about our first two rooms, we might never have bumped into them at all.

So back to the playdate...

We all met for lunch at a local Macaroni Grill since it's an equidistant point between our respective homes and then afterwards we all went back to our place. Our family room is littered with a jumper, an exersaucer, 2 gyms, a swing and countless toys, so there was plenty to keep a small platoon of infants happy for at least 30 minutes.

Connor and their daughter got along well (when we placed them near one another). There were some pretty funny moments like when we put them side by side and Connor grabbed her pacifier, pulled it from her mouth, looked at it and then tossed it away. That's my boy, already impressing the ladies with his smooth moves... Um, yeah.

So it was fun to see the kids interact in their own toddler way and fun to spend time with friends who've been mostly phone friends until now due to all our hectic schedules. It'll be cool to start hanging out with them more often as we discover more of the things we have in common (aside from the obvious on the parenthood front). For instance, Jeff's a big Star Wars fan and is actually spending Father's Day at Disney World for their Star Wars weekend. Maybe I'll be able to tag along next year...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Connor's Antipoday

Connor's now traveled halfway around the calendar and is a whopping 6 month old now. Where does the time go?

I couldn't find a word for "6-month birthday", so I made one up (Antipoday). It's not just a typical "unbirthday" (Thank you Lewis Caroll) so I felt a special word was needed. Antipode's a fun word that semi-applies so I figured I'd have some fun with that. You like?

Misha's trying to get some time to post a batch of new photos, but until then, here are some recent shots:

I was on the phone but still had to make sure he didn't fall over. Here, he's sucking on my arm. Taste good little man?

Must've tasted good.

Connor's started exploring the world with his feet. It can be quite amusing at times.

More to follow...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

Connor rolled from his stomach to his back for the first time today! Hooray!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones

Saw Indiana Jones this weekend. For anyone who was expecting some great work of art, I'll ask you to watch the other 3 Indy flicks and tell me that they were any more believable or less fantastical.

Do you honestly believe that there was a Crusade knight in the middle of the desert, guarding the chalice of his god? When was the last time you reached into some guys chest and pulled out his still beating heart? How about some sand in a box that will melt your face right off if you look at it the wrong way?

But there's more truth in the archeology in the other movies I hear you say? There are no ark theories that place the ark in Tanis, though Tanis was uncovered by a German expedition in 1936 as the film depicts. The grail knight's hideout is actually the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World on 7/7/2007. And those nifty Sankara Stones? They're even more mythical than the grail apparently and even if they did exist, would be called Shiva Linga, not Sankara (who was apparently a philosopher who lived around 800 CE). And how sophisticated were those booby traps anyway? I can guarantee you that no archaeologist has ever been chased by a perfectly round boulder in the classic Indy manner.

Ok, you say. But at least those other movies didn't have aliens in them... Well you know what? One of the many actual Crystal Skull theories is that they were given to an ancient civilization, possibly even Atlantis, by extra-terrestrials, so there. Plausible? Not likely, but then neither is being able to live with your heart outside of your chest.

I'm not saying it was the greatest movie ever, or even that it was better than Raiders or Last Crusade, but I'd certainly consider it on par with Temple of Doom. Besides, it could have been worse. Apparently Lucas had seriously tossed around the idea of a Monkey King and a Haunted House at one point.

And he would have gotten away with it too... if it wasn't for you rotten kids. Indy-dooby-doo!

Monday, May 5, 2008

TiVo is the new Erasermate

The erasable pen was a wonder invention of Papermate. In the bygone days of 1979, one could suddenly do the impossible, erase the un-erasable: Ink. From a pen. It was truly, truly, truly outrageous.

But this amazing feat came with a price. Sure, there was the obvious blue, black, or red smudge where you had erased a word or the smear where you had accidentally run your hand over some of the not-quite-dry-yet ink (oh, just wait until Gel pens you innocent children of the 70s). No, this was a far more insidious evil that exacted its toll on your very being: Imprecision.

Now I'm not talking about how neatly you wrote or whether you stayed between the college lines of your Trapper Keeper's notebook paper. Oh no, I'm talking about mistakes. With a pen that you could erase, there was no longer any need to pay attention to what you were writing. You could make spelling errors with impunity and then just brush them away without a care and without having to use that unprofessional pencil.

Of course, the more you used your Erasermate, the worse your spelling became. And you didn't care. At least not until you were forced to resort to barbarian methods and use a regular pen for any reason. Only then was the folly of your hubris fully realized as you struggled to spell "dog" without screwing it up.

Now, there have been many similar evils since that time. Spell-check comes to mind and is the reason that wordvomit like "she could of tried harder" and "my interest is peaked" exist in myriad internet chat rooms and text messages today. (I'm sorry, we were looking for could've and piqued. Thank you for playing.) Be that as it may, I believe the erasable pen has finally met its equal:


You see, this new evil - this succubus of sanity - by its very nature of allowing you to rewind LIVE television is eroding what little attention span we had left after watching too many reruns of Remote Control and Robot Chicken. You see, it used to be that if you missed it; too bad it was gone and if the show wasn't going to be on again until summer reruns then you just had to wait. Sure, there was the VCR, but why tape it when you're already watching it and even then you can't watch what recorded on the VHS tape without stopping the recording.

But now with TiVo, you don't have to worry. Heck you don't even have to pay attention. What was that? Go back and watch it again right now. The rest of the show? Don't worry, it's still there, you can catch up to it during the commercials. Damn. Now isn't that cool. No. Not when the ultimate price is so high.

Forget the inability to spell, TiVo promises the inability to listen. And for those of us with ADD this is some bad juju. I find myself wishing that my radio had a TiVo functionality. I sit there waiting for the traffic report and just space off and only realize I'm spacing once the monotone traffic guy on the radio is wrapping things up and I've completely missed the report. Got to wait another 10 minutes now. Damn. Where will this lead? The inability to listen to regular conversations? Your friends & family? Your boss? Your spouse? I shudder to think of the possibilities.

Ooh, My TiVo just found Breaking the Magician's Code 4. Sweet!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Big week for Connor

Connor had a very big week this week.

He was watching me the other day as I was drinking a glass of water; staring intently at the glass as I raised it, drank, and lowered it, then staring at me until I drank again. So I asked him if he wanted some and put the glass down near him. He pulled it in and I guided the rim to his mouth and he started gulping at the air until I was able to tip the glass enough to get some water to him. A little sputtering, but I was quite astonished by the whole event and how he's really starting to try to mimic us.

Connor also found his feet this week and he's starting to sit up with less support. If you put him in his very reclined buzzy chair, he ends up looking like he's doing crunches, trying to sit up.

We also went out to Bark In The Park this weekend which is a half day event sponsored by the Mecklenburg County Park & Rec. (LA's in LA County, San Diego's in San Diego County... Charlotte's in Mecklenburg County... go figure) We took the pugs and the stroller, but we had to park so far away from the park in the lot of a local church that by the time we had walked back to the park both the pugs and I (pushing the stroller) were ready to go home. But we stayed long enough to see Pam, our friend and realtor, who was there working a booth to help a friend. It was quite an event, and I'm sure one day we'll go back and have a lot of fun once Connor gets older, but not for several years.

BTW: I've been promising you some photos. Here's the latest batch that we've put up online.

I'm excited to see what the coming week holds.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Baby's First Passover

My sister and her husband and 14 month-old son came over for Passover dinner last night. I'd wanted to do something because we've been trying to get together for weeks but the boys' sleep schedules haven't really permitted an easy meetup. Also, Passover's a bit of a Thanksgiving event at my parent's house and since they're now 3,000 miles away I figured it would be good to assume the east coast mantle of Passover Host.

I cooked up a surprisingly good (in my humble opinion) chicken matzoball soup. Most surprising because I've never made chicken soup before and my cooking skills are limited to only a step or two above Kraft Dinner. Of course, some of the ingredients (read: the matzoballs) were from a jar, but the rest was all me. And Food Network. They deserve some of the credit for the recipe, though I did take my own liberties and changed it up where I needed to to get by.

I also got a great Haroset recipe from Food Network, which included walnuts, pecans and almonds. I used a Baron Herzog Merlot instead of Manachewitz so it wasn't as sweet, but some honey sweetened it up nicely without making it overly so. My brother-in-law gave it high marks, and he's not even Jewish!

My sister prepared the main course and brought dessert. She made some thinly sliced checken breast in olive oil with thyme which was simple yet surprisingly good. And then there was also a gouda cheese gravy that went over it which was delish, though quite rich and a little went a loooooong way.

I had a great time and I hope everyone else did too. But before you congratulate me on pulling off a traditional seder, I must confess that the extent of the religious aspect of dinner was a quick "The Pharaoh enslaved the Jews, but God brought the plagues and had Moses lead us to freedom. The end". That, and my lamb shank was a bone from a chicken drumstick. I'm hoping it was the thought that counts.

Really though, it was just good to get together with family and have a nice dinner and nice conversation. The end.

Connor's First Haircut

You'd think "wow, 4 months is a little early for a haircut", but considering the number of people who are now mistaking my son for a girl thanks to his long curls, it was time to take him in for a trim.

Poor thing cried the whole time in the chair. I was holding him, of course, considering that he's only just able to control his head and still not able to sit up on his own. We took home the traditinal envelope of "Baby's First Haircut" clippings and took plenty of photos. I'll get these up online this week sometime.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Twitter... twitter... twitter

My friend Mike got me started back again on Twitter. I'd first heard of it over a year ago and signed up on a lark but only posted once and then let the account sit idle. Sometimes if things seem really cool I like to get in early so I can reserve the nickname I've used online since my college days: DixonHill.

If you haven't heard of Twitter, it's like a blog, except your entries are limited to 140 characters. So you really can't say that much except for "Going to bed" or "having trouble figuring out how to install my dishwasher" or "really hungry" or somesuch blabber. As such, it's basically a stream-of-consciousness what-are-you-doing-right-now view into the lives of other tweeters (those who use twitter)

Anyway, I'm out there in the twittersphere again now, tweeting from time to time. You can send in tweets (updates) via Instant Messenger or your cell phone, so that makes it easy to shoot off a casual tweet from time to time when the urge hits you.

Twitter also actively tracks your "followers": people who have "subscribed" to your twitter stream. If you follow someone, on your main page you'll see all of your posts and all of theirs, in the order they're written. Strangely enough, I seem to be attracting followers. Not sure if it's because I have anything interesting to say or just because I've got a bunch of SciFi and Disney stuff in my profile.

Anyway, if you're curious or bored, check out my twitter page to see what I'm up to: http://www.twitter.com/dixonhill

Sunday, March 9, 2008

You what?!?!?!

Recap of a conversation between my wife and the girl building her sandwich at Subway the other day:

Misha: "Can you also add some avocado to my sandwich?"
SubwayChick : "I don't know what that is..."
Misha: "... Avocado? ..."
SubwayChick: " "I don't know what that is..."

Excuse me while I cry...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Art Sale!

My friend Meredith and her husband Sean in Los Angeles are art distributors who represent several up-and-coming artists. I do their web design on the side (http://www.thehowsecollection.com).

Anyway, they're selling off some of their older Amy Lynn originals at amazing prices. One of my favorite pieces is on the block: "Speakeasy"...

... which was featured in the dorms on the recent season of Hell's Kitchen along with another Amy Lynn piece called "Mix & Mingle".

Here's the link to the originals that are on sale:

If you get a chance, check out the pieces and pick one up. I'm a huge fan of Deco so these really appeal to me. (We're probably going to get 1 for ourselves.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bad Carl...

I just realized I posted a grand total of 2 times in February.

And one of those posts I had to change the post date on since it was already March.

Bad Carl.

Well, now that the Gallbladder saga is over, and the parents have all departed, and my sister has moved into her new house, and Connor's no longer as fussy and is actually sleeping for pretty long periods at night, I might just have more time to air my insignificant minutiae to anyone interested in reading it.

Besides, some of the stuff that went down last month... it's just better to let it lie like the sleeping pit bull it is.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

What... you think there's more to be said about that?

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's called a BLINKER people!

Twice tonight on the way home I had 2 different drivers SPEED UP when I turned on my blinker and tried to merge ahead of them into their lane.

Both times, there was plenty of space!

Both times, I was merging with plenty of time/distance left to get where I needed to go and wasn't trying to cut in at the last second as the lane I was in ended!

Both times, we weren't going more than 20 mph!

Both times the driver shook their head and threw up their hands like I had just done the most offensive thing they could think of!

I really want to know what they teach in Driver's Ed here in North Carolina or wherever these dipwad transplants learned to drive.

Cuz it's not California.

No, in California we still speed up for blinkers, but we're better sports when we lose. Maybe we've just been road-raging a bit longer and are just used to the anarchy of the 101, the 10 and the 405.

That's probably it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rock and Roll

Well, Misha had her Gallbladder taken out today, stones and all, and she's doing well. Aside from spending most of the late afternoon and evening sleeping, she's not feeling much pain other than in her shoulders (which we understand is due more to the anesthesia than the actual surgery).

After the surgery, we came back to the house and once she was settled into bed for a quick nap and some attention from the pugs, I scooted over to the old place to get the last of our stuff out and clean up before the final walk-through at 4pm. Misha's mom is a physician, so she was in good hands while I was gone. The landlord was so impressed with the state of the house, that he's agreed to give us back almost all of our security deposit (less the cost to repair some A/C components that fried when the dogs decided to chew through the wires to the outside unit).

So after many months of counting saturated fats to prevent a gallbladder attack and a month or so of back breaking box moving, it was great to finally have both behind us and with such positive results.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Relative Descent

It’s been a week in the new house and so far so good. We’re not even remotely moved in yet and there are still a bunch of boxes in our garage not to mention a ton of stuff still back at the old place, but at least we’ve made the big move.

And not a moment too soon, because we’re about to have several visitors.

Misha’s mom (Larrian) arrives on Monday afternoon to help us out with Connor after Misha goes in for surgery to remove her gallbladder on Wednesday. It will be the first time she’s back in our neck of the country since just after Connor was born so it will be a treat for the two of them to be reunited, especially after how much Connor has grown. Larrian’s also a crack chef, having written several diet and recipe books, so I know we’ll be well fed. (She whipped up a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast for us and our friends the last time she visited; a feat and favor much appreciated by all in attendance.)

Then on Tuesday my sister (Francine), brother-in-law (Rob) and their 11-month old son (Sam) arrive. They are moving to Charlotte after coming to the same conclusion about Southern California that Misha and I did. (namely: too expensive for the perks) Rob’s only here for a week while they search for a house to buy, but Francine and Sam will be living with us until that house purchase is final. Moving to our new house means that we’ll be able to store all of their furniture and belongings in our basement (or at least in a room that we’re not using yet like the living room).

So with 5 adults, 2 babies and 2 dogs under the same roof, I’m much happier that we’ll all be in our new house. It promises that we’ll be able to live in relative (no pun intended) harmony with enough private space in which to retreat if it starts to feel too crowded.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Is it too late for a refund?

It's snowing here. They told us it didn't snow in NC.

Actually, they told us it was usually freezing rain instead which leads to power outages and black ice (which itself leads to traffic accidents and airbag introductions and higher insurance premiums and rental cars.)

All things considered, I'd rather have the snow.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Raking leaves is for the dogs

Let me start this post by stating that though I have shoveled snow before, I've never raked leaves. Technically, I still haven't, having purchased a blower/vacuum/mulcher at Home Depot. I mention this not to be completely AR, but because it's semi-important to the story I'm about to unleash upon you.

Like most homes, we have 2 sections to the lawn out front: 1) the large main lawn area and 2) the skinny little Brazilian runway strip between the driveway and the edge of the property. I removed the leaves from the large area about a month ago and left the smaller section undone, mostly because it was such a pain in the arse doing the large area, but also because every time I decide "Tomorrow's the day!", it rains.

Today, with restored vigor and no recent precipitation, I struck out to blow, suck and mulch the rest of the front yard.

Things were going fine until I found the first pile of dog shit. (About 3 minutes in in case you're curious.)

First and only would have been a blessing... Apparently I'm cursed or something. And apparently we've either got roving bands of dogs using that tiny section of my front yard as a communal latrine, or my neighbors have been letting their dogs crap there without bothering to wander over to pick it up.

Whether this is intentional because they know that there's most likely other land mines hidden in the debris or because they're trying to convince me to clean up my lawn earlier next year, I've decided that they all suck for doing this... especially the owner of what can only be a moose that left the Pilsbury cookie tube-sized turds out there for me to deal with.

I scooped up at least 14 individual poops and found another 4 with the mulcher (that was a pleasant experience - NOT). Unfortunately, dried semi-decayed and somewhat moist leaves coupled with fading daylight does not make it easy to spot dog crap on the lawn and by the time I was done, I could feel my Doc Martens were heavier than
they should have been with every step I took ("every move I mook"... thank you Sting...) toward the front door of the house.

I have no idea how many turds ended up on the bottom of each of my boots, caked into every crevice and oozing up the sides of the soles with various twigs and such mixed in. What I wasn't able to scrape off outside with a doggie bag took me a good half-hour to get off with hot water and a toothbrush.

I'd considered just burning the shoes, but I did pay good money for them and they were surprisingly hard to find for a brand that was so popular not too long back (or maybe it was a long while back and I'm just an old coot). Besides, I can't let the neighbors think they got the best of me. So they're clean and drying out on my bedroom floor and should be good as new except for the slight whiff of excrement whenever the AC blows on them.

I'm so glad we're moving.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Hey, there's a show on HBO about our minivan..."

So we bought the Entourage.

We got lotsa nudging toward the Odyssey and the others, but in the end it came down to a few facts:

1) We got all the extras we wanted and none that we didn't for a lower price than any of the competition.

2) The Odyssey was too stiff, the others were too loose, the Entourage was juuuust right.

3) Misha told me we were getting the Entourage.

Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit on #3 there, but since this is going to be her primary vehicle and since we were trading in her only vehicle for the minivan (for those keeping count, I have 2 cars of my own), her vote definitely had more weight than mine.

I'll be honest, it was a close race between the Odyssey and the Entourage, but in the end the Entourage just made sense when you factored in extras and price. To get the features we wanted in the Odyssey, we would have paid about $4,000 more.

So far, so good. We're enjoying the minivan (and the fact that it sounds like a muscle car when you open it up helps a bit) and are looking forward to many, many years of family adventures.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Connor Turns 1 (month)

Connor's officially 1 month old now and it's amazing to see how much he's changed already.

I'm going to blink and he'll be off to college. Wow.