Two states
One apartment
Two houses
Two graduations
Four cars
Four jobs
Five rats
One betta fish
One dog
Two kids
13 years
One wife.
Happy Anniversary, E.


Yes, it’s been done, but as I sit here digesting my far-too-large dinner, I feel compelled to throw another Thanksgiving post on the pile.
I am most thankful that, when I first met Elise almost 20 years ago, I had the good sense to latch onto her. I am equally thankful that she continues to put up with me. Without her, so many things would not be as they are.
I am thankful for the two beautiful children we’ve produced. Especially now that they’re asleep.
I am thankful that my parents, though they turned out to be as human as the rest of us, still set an example for parenting that I strive daily to match.
I am thankful that, through a combination of good fortune and hard work, I have the liberty to sit on my own couch, in my own house, and blog about how thankful I am.
I hope today finds you in a thankful mood, too.

Nostalgia attack: when I was seven…

Andrew’s birthday last week made me mindful of the fact that he’s now of an age that I should remember pretty well from my own childhood. Those of you who know me (that is, both of you) know that I can’t really count my memory as one of my stronger qualities. Even so, I should be able to remember something from age seven, right? I spent some time trying to dredge up memories from that time in my life, and what I’ve come up with feels surprisingly scant:

  • I was in second grade when I turned seven in December of 1979. Earlier that year we had moved from Moline, IL to Lebanon, MO, so I was a new arrival at Donnelly School that fall. I looked, and Donnelly is apparently an administrative building now.
  • My teacher’s name was Mrs. Martin. She had dark hair, wore round, plastic-framed glasses, and was probably closer to retirement than her first day in the classroom. I remember one day she gave us a spelling test, and of was one of the words. She vocalized the f so that it sounded like ov, but warned that she’d “better not see any v’s.” This confused me for a minute.
  • I loved to read Childcraft, especially the history volume. In particular I remember reading the story of Molly Pitcher, probably over and over. I don’t remember if the Childcraft books came from the school library or the classroom, but I do recall that I stuffed that history volume in my desk and would sneak looks at it during the day.
  • I don’t remember much about my music teacher, but I do remember that I first learned to read music in 2nd grade. He had one of those five-pronged chalk holders for drawing staffs on the blackboard.

In terms of what I can pin specifically to age seven (rather than generally attribute to the four years we lived in Lebanon), that’s about it. Without assistance, I can’t recall my birthday cake. I remember my friends – in fact, I think I still remember Bobby O’Neill’s phone number – but I don’t recall exactly when we met up, so it may have been later. I may have started Cub Scouts that year, or it may have been the next year. The years between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back have turned into one big, pleasant blur.
Which, of course, doesn’t matter. I have a 21st-century seven-year-old now, and the stories of my childhood probably would make as much impression on him as my own parents’ stories made on me. And yet as Andrew engages in the things I remember from my own childhood, I can’t help but try to reach back to my own experiences for some common ground. In him I can see myself, and I can see Elise, and I can see elements of a new person taking shape. Surely that’s every parent’s experience, but part of being human is having these trite, done-ten-billion-times miracles living down the hall, and still not knowing what to do with them.
Except write, occasionally.

Andrew’s Birthday, Episode VII

Andrew turned 7 last Thursday, and this weekend we hosted what felt like 3,436 of his closest friends for the obligatory cake-fest. As Andrew wished, the party featured a Star Wars: The Clone Wars theme, but for the cake. Again as he wished, the cake took the form of Torterra, the powerful Level 2 Leaf-type Pokemon that has captured his imagination. Mom is such a good sport.
The party consisted of 1) Pizza 2) Tearing around the house wielding various cylindrical-shaped objects as toy weapons 3) Movie-watching 4) Tearing-around while glancing at the movie 5) Cake. Andrew loved every minute of it.
We have a few more pictures over in the gallery, as usual.

It’s Scout-tastic: Pinewood Derby and Raingutter Regatta results

Since mid-January, Andrew’s Cub Scout pack has kicked into high gear. He raced in his first pinewood derby on January 24th, and he and his Tiger Cubs posse put up some tight races. He wound up 3rd in the Tigers, which apparently gets him an invitation to a district meet in March.
When we signed into the race, we also took possession of a Raingutter Regatta kit. Unlike the pinewood derby kit, which looked much like the ones I had nearly 30 years ago, the boat has changed quite a bit. I recall a pine block for the hull, which may or may not have had a pre-drilled mast hole. We also had to cut the sail from a plastic milk jug. The darn kids these days get a pre-shaped balsa hull with metal keel, plastic rudder, and sail. As with the car, Andrew and I got to spend some quality time together with the sanding block, exploring the effects of different grits of sandpaper. He chose the color scheme – a black-on-gold fade made somewhat lumpy by a spray can that didn’t want to turn off when we released the button.
The Tigers had much lighter turnout for the regatta, which I find as regrettable as it was predictable. Coming only a couple of weeks after the derby, not doubt many families suffered from scout fatigue. However, the regatta is a more engaging event for the boys. Instead of watching their cars roll down the track, they have to blow the boats down the gutter. Of the three boats in the den, Andrew came second to his large-lunged friend Connor, who ended up third in the pack against some much larger kids.
Andrew also took home the best design award for the pack, and his 2nd place in the den is good for yet another trip to a District meet. Fortunately, the district boat race and car race are on the same day. Unfortunately, it’s also the same day that we’re scheduled to spend on the USS Salem with his den. That’s gonna be a long weekend…

Hey, it’s, uh, 2009!

Maybe too late for Christmas, but still in time for New Year’s. Sorta. Hey, I’m a busy guy.
Pix in the Gallery, as per usual.
We are still finding places to stash the fresh load of kid stuff, but really, the kids seem not to mind having their new toys within easy reach of the dinner table. Since the arrival of Torterra in a pack of Leaf Pokémon, I have lost approximately all of my battles with Andrew. Clearly I’m going to have to start spending my allowance on Pokémon cards.
Maggie really likes her new kitchen set. I got a full ration of hassle about gender stereotyping from a colleague, and perhaps rightfully so. But seriously, the girl likes to play with kitchen stuff, and I’d much rather she have her own set than to have to retrieve my pots and spoons from under the couch so I can cook dinner. It’s a win-win, folks.
Optimism seems to be in short supply these days, so rather than wishing you the sun, moon and stars, I’ll just say this: here’s to a 2009 that doesn’t totally suck. For any of us.

Halloween: in the bag

We lucked out with nice weather on Friday night, and enjoyed a nice evening with our friends over on Cheever Street. Clone Commander Cody (Andrew) and Dora the Explorer (Maggie), moochin’ sacks at the ready, raided the neighborhood.
I put a few pics in the gallery, which also cover last weekend’s school Halloween party and the Friday morning Halloween parade.

…H I J L M N O P…no K?

Nope, we’re done with K, or at least Andrew is.
Here’s a couple clips from his last day yesterday:

Now it’s time for a summer of swim lessons, day camp, and leaving his sister alone. Really.
Update 6/18: video fixed, and now we have a few pix in the gallery.

Paternal Pride

I apologize for the extra-crappy cellphone-quality video, but you can imagine how excited I am about this:

Won’t be much longer before I can’t keep up with him.