Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Intersection of Holidays and Technology

Sherise got a digital camcorder for Christmas.

Our first experiment follows - given that Katie wasn't into it, the light was bad, and neither of us know anything about digital camcorders and editing, we're feeling rather chuffed.

Oh yeah.

Stay tuned right here for funny stories, pictures, and now videos as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Just Spent Twenty Minutes Picking Glass Shards Out Of My Oven: Why Multi-Tasking In The Kitchen Is Usually A Bad Idea

Q: If
  1. You are doing holiday baking.
  2. The bread you're making requires a water bath.
  3. You're a little distracted because you're preparing several different recipes at the same time.
  4. You decide that rather than transport a pan full of water from the sink to the oven, you will put the Pyrex dish into the oven and then pour the water into it.
  5. You allow the glass dish to reach the oven temperature, which is 400 degrees.
  6. You then pour hot tap water (approximately 120 degrees) into the preheated glass dish.

Do you know what happens?

A: Yep.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Conversation on the way to Dairy Queen

Mom: Can you hear that Snickers Blizzard calling to me?

Calvin: Yeah, it's saying, "Sherise, don't have me! Go on a diet!"

Friday, December 7, 2007

No loaves here, but a miracle with a fish!

This is Spotty the goldfish.

Before you start rolling your eyes, I have to explain that this fish is more than just a fish. We’ve had this thing for over two years. It was a birthday party favor received by Thomas from his very very bestest friend in the whole world. Spotty was only an inch or so long when we got him (we refer to him as a “he,” although we have no idea how to tell fishy gender), and now he’s probably five inches long, plus another couple inches of very pretty flowing fanlike tail. He’s quite beautiful, and people often comment on what a cool-looking fish he is. We even moved this thing from Colorado to Utah when our family moved a year and a half ago, propping the half-full aquarium between the front seats of the minivan, keeping an eye on the thermometer and dropping in ice cubes when the temperature rose too high. We’re very attached to this little fish, especially Thomas, because it’s a symbol of his friendship with the aforementioned very very bestest friend in the whole world.

So, two weeks ago, Paul's brother was at our house watching football (yay BYU!!), and he caught a small spider in the family room. He thought it would make a nice snack for the fish, so he dropped it into the aquarium. (BIL is a fish enthusiast who has several tanks of his own, so he’s not just an idiot who tried to kill my kid’s fish on purpose!) I wasn’t aware of this, as I was out grocery shopping at the time. I got home less than an hour after the spider snack, and as I was unloading groceries onto the kitchen counter, I happened to glance over at the fish tank, where I saw to my horror that Spotty was floating belly-up! He’d been fine before I left, so we can only assume that the tasty little spider snack did him in. Paul, BIL and I tried to revive the little guy (no, we did NOT do fishy CPR), but he was gone. Our poor beautiful fish!
I knew Thomas was going to be completely devastated, so when he came in from playing at a friend’s house, I headed him off before he saw the tank, took him into another room, and broke the news that his pet had died. I held him as he sobbed and sobbed, and I felt awful. Thomas is an extremely intense, emotional, tender-hearted kid who takes things very hard. Plus, this fish wasn’t just a fish, it was a reminder of his best friend, who now lives several hundred miles away.
After Thomas had calmed down a bit, we had to figure out how to lay our fishy friend to rest, because simply flushing him would have been traumatic for our boy. Thomas decided he'd like to bury Spotty in the backyard. I went to the tank to get the fish out, and I saw that Spotty was still breathing! Oh great, now we couldn’t even give the thing a proper sendoff because he wasn’t dead yet. He was still floating motionless at the surface, but his mouth and gills were moving, and every few minutes he’d struggle to move, but he’d give up and lie there again. We didn’t want to mercy-kill him, so we figured we’d just wait a few minutes for him to expire. Well, an hour went by, and he was still breathing. Two hours, three, it got to be evening, he was still alive. We started to hope that maybe he’d recover once the spider toxins left his system. That hope died when he sank to the bottom of the tank and lay there on his back, unable to move. Aw, shoot. But lo and behold, at bedtime—still alive. Okay, we thought, we’d bury him before church on Sunday morning. Morning came, and you guessed it, he’s STILL breathing! He’s still just lying on the bottom of the tank, but every once in a while he manages to wiggle his body and get into a different position before flopping over helpless again. Now we’re wondering if it’s cruel to let him suffer like this. Well, surely he’s going to die soon, so let’s just let him pass on his own instead of killing him ourselves. We go to church, come home expecting the worst, but guess what? Still alive!
I forgot to mention that when we first figured out that he hadn’t died yet, Paul, Thomas and I went to a quiet room and had a little prayer that Spotty wouldn’t suffer, that we’d really like him to be healed, but if not, please let him die quickly and painlessly. Since then I had had a constant prayer in my thoughts: “Okay, I know that one little goldfish isn’t that big a deal, but my son’s relationship with his uncle IS a big deal. And my BIL’s mental health and well-being is a VERY big deal. If it isn’t contrary to your will, could you please please please heal this little fish? Please?” As Sunday drew to a close and Spotty was still alive, I started to wonder if my prayers were actually going to be answered! I was still afraid to get my hopes up too much, though.
Well, Monday morning, he was still alive. He wasn't looking great, but I thought he might be slightly better than he had been the night before. He was still crashing to the bottom of the tank, but most of the time he could at least keep himself upright instead of flopping over onto his back or side. As the day wore on, he got more and more active, and by the time the kids got home from school, he looked nearly normal. And by Monday night at bedtime, he was swimming around his tank like nothing had ever happened to him! We couldn't believe it! Now, nearly two weeks later, he's better than ever. The Lord cares about a goldfish! Or, more to the point, He cares about my son and his uncle, and is willing to answer prayers about a silly fish when He knows how much it will impact two of His precious sons.
Long live Spotty!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's [supposedly] the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I'm down on Christmas right now. Since I work for a major online retailer, this is absolutely the worst time of the year. I'm trying not to complain -- I mean I have a good job, and I don't work near the hours of some of my colleagues in the warehouse who are actually trying to make sure the elves get their goodies to their final destination in time for Christmas. But the visions of fresh snow, beautiful lights, and wonderful surprises have all been replaced by words like "year over year sales growth," "contribution margin," "fulfillment scores," and "revenue by channel."

Only now do I really understand why my dear Dad says that his idea of hell is having to listen to the hymns for the rest of eternity. Work has a way of taking the luster off anything. Said differently, stay out of the kitchen if you don't want to see how the sausage is made.

Two friends of mine, "Vern" and AntiCruiser have two other very compelling reasons to think twice about the meaning of Christmas. Vern points out that the whole gift giving/decorating thing is pretty far off the mark and very contrary to what Christmas is all about. I'm not going to stop giving gifts (or receiving them), but she makes a good point.

However AntiCruiser has meticulously documented a Christmas gift that has seriously gone off the rails. I'll be brutally honest. At first I thought he was looking a gift horse in the mouth. However this "gift" passed "sweater that I'll never wear but can't take back" status some time back in April.

Now that the day of reckoning looms, one can finally see the true metamorphosis from un-needed gift, to unwanted gift, to inconvenience, to unhealthy situation, to a true disaster. And some very obsessive behavior on the part of the gift giver. I'm not a screenwriter, but I know funny when I see it, and this has farce written all over it. Although nobody in the cast will be laughing.

So for Christmas this year, my gift to AntiCruiser and his family will be praying for their very souls, and for their sanity.

And I think Vern might be right.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Conversation in the car while dropping the two older boys off at school.

Mom: What's that teacher's name who's in the crosswalk right now, guys?
Calvin: I don't know, but I know she teaches second grade.
Thomas: And she's always smiling. It kind of creeps me out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sherise's 20th High School Reunion

As I was going through old photos, trying to find suitably embarrassing ones to send in for the reunion slide show, Paul's brother Joel looked at the computer monitor and said, "Who is that? Oh my gosh, is that YOU? No way!"

I have no idea what he's talking about.

I think I look exactly the same, don't you?

Paul and I had a great time in Sumter, SC.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Diwali

Hima and Chandra are friends of ours. I've worked with both of them since late 2005/early 2006.

Paul with Chandra and Hima

Hima came to work Friday dressed in a sari, and reminded me that Diwali was that same day. Before that point, all I knew about Diwali was what I had learned on The Office. Of course, I knew there had to be more to it than that, so I invited myself (and the rest of the family) to the Hindu temple so we could observe the festivities first-hand.

We had a very difficult time finding the temple - turns out it's on Hindu Temple Lane (of course). And sitting literally in the shadow of a much larger (and less culturally interesting) temple.

View Larger Map

There were some fun things for kids to do - they had lots of fireworks that the kids could go and light (Diwali is also referred to as the festival of light), the children were allowed to go into the temple and ring the big bell, and there was food to eat.

There were also lights on something that looked suspiciously like a Christmas Tree. I did not think to ask Hima or Chandra what the names of the lights or tree are (I probably couldn't pronounce it anyway).

Max posing near the holiday tree/light thingy

Katie also enjoyed the festivities, as long as Mommy was holding her. She didn't know what to think of all the people in traditional Indian clothes, loud fireworks or other celebrations. She finally warmed up to Hima right as we were getting ready to leave.

Thomas somehow couldn't find anything fun or interesting to do.

We must be mean, awful parents to drag our kids off to a party where you can celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light fireworks and eat free food.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Some assorted highlights of this Halloween season.

This is one of the second grade teachers at Thomas' school. This is a SWEET costume, IMHO. Some fine make-up work as well. And she likes Star Wars. No wonder Thomas likes her.

Sherise and I are whores for Chipotle. If you've had a burrito there, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you really must go and try one.

As it turns out, if you were willing to make a fool of yourself and dress up like a burrito for Halloween, they'd give you one for free, just so they could have a laugh at your expense. We were willing to sacrifice our dignity for a free burrito!

Notice the high-tech costumes. If you look closely at the full sized photo, you can see our favorite style of burrito hand-written on the foil -- just like a real Chipotle burrito!

Calvin and his buddies went trick-or-treating tonight. Pillaging or plundering might be a better description. Calvin counted 410 pieces of candy as his take this evening.

Katie Doesn't Care for Her Halloween Costume

Either that, or she just likes to strip in public.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Am Not a True Sports Fan

Contrary to what you might think after seeing the pictures that follow, I am not a big sports fan - especially when it comes to baseball.

I have been a true bandwagon fan when it comes to the Colorado Rockies. Truth be told, I didn't even know that they were setting the post-season world aflame until I caught some mention that they would be playing the Arizona Snakes - I mean DiamondBacks - for all the National League marbles. Suddenly all the Rockies SWAG I accumulated over the 12 years I lived in Colorado came out of closets and boxes and went with me to work, prominently displayed in and around my office. At least I could try to "look" like a true fan.

Of course once someone came by to ask me about the team and started talking details, the gig was up. I couldn't name a single person on the team. Last time I could actually name a player on the team was 1997 when Larry Walker and Dante Bichette were the only two names I knew because I picked up mugs with their likenesses over the course of a few weeks whenever I went to Arby's for lunch. I found out last night that Dante Bichette was at the park - but I thought that was as a player, not as a spectator who, as it turns out, played for both the Rockies and the Sox.

So why, one might ask, did I go to Game 4 of the 2007 World Series? So I could say I did.

Sherise and I have really enjoyed watching the last 8 games of the Rockies' postseason. In fact we were staying up later than we would normally, just so we could take in every minute of it. We got caught up in the euphoria - it was an excuse to call old friends in Colorado, just so we had something to talk about.

Another friend of mine, Jack (who has been my boss, then my customer, then my boss again, and now I'm his customer) called me on Wednesday to let me know he probably had an extra ticket to the World Series on Sunday and would I like to go? Sure, I told him, but let me check with Sherise.

When I told Sherise, she said "You HAVE to go!" I wasn't sure at first, but she asked "When will you ever have another chance to go to the World Series?" This got me thinking about that list of "Things I'd like to do before I die" and I realized that with mid-life crisis looming, now was probably about as good a time as any to start on that list.

Honestly, I don't think "Go to a World Series baseball game" would have actually been an entry on that list, but since I haven't ever assembled that list, this seemed like a great opportunity to start the list and summarily scratch off the first item straight away. :)

So it was that I found myself taking a VERY familiar flight from the SLC to Denver to see my favorite baseball team play in the World Series. Now, I should mention that I had actually been to several Rockies games over the course of the years I lived in Denver, and one of my best memories is sitting behind home plate on the upper deck with my two boys while Sherise sang the National Anthem at Coors Field with 100 of her best friends.

So enough with the narrative, here are the pictures of the highlights:

No event/attraction is complete without mimes posing for money.

And inside the park:

The national anthem with a big-ass flag. The bald head you see here belongs to a very drunk Boston Red Sox fan:

And what about the game? Well, I had imagined it to be something like the Mecca of the baseball world, the Holy Grail. Once I was there, well, it felt exactly like any other Rockies game I had ever been to. I enjoyed being there, but it didn't feel particularly special. It was kinda like going to Church with a friend who belongs to a different church than the one you go to. You know it's really important, but it doesn't "feel" important. I almost feel guilty for having gone but not breathing in every second, feeling like I was part of baseball history.

Maybe that's because they didn't win.

Classic Calvin Stories, Part 3

(Calvin has the same teacher this year that he had last year. She's a fabulous teacher, and fortunately has a great sense of humor.)

CALVIN: Mom, Mrs. Walker is so cool. She's, like, EVERYTHING, except maybe a musician.

MOM (thinking, "Aww, isn't my boy sweet?"): Wow, honey, she sounds like she's pretty accomplished.

CALVIN: Yeah, she's a runner, an artist, a teacher, an athlete, and even a war veteran.

MOM: Really? What war?

CALVIN: Civil.

Classic Calvin Stories, Part 2

"Hey Mom, you want to hear how Japanese people greet each other?"

"Sure, honey."

"Konichiwa. [bows, brandishes plastic samurai sword] I shall now engage you in stylized action violence."

Classic Calvin Stories, Part 1

(Some of these have been shared in other forums, but I thought I'd preserve them here, too.)

I have a small notebook I keep in my purse to use as an exercise log. Not too long ago I opened it to find this in Calvin's writing:

Hunting the Monster, by Jimmybobjoe Poony

Day 1
I entered the cave. It stunk. Probably its poop.

Day 2
Heard roaring. It might be farting.

Day 3
Found monster. It's my brother. He must have gotten lost at the Barbie convention. He loves Barbies. Too much.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Reason #726 Why I Love My Husband

He does jobs like this so I don't have to.

Forget the party, where's my food?

Sherise and the kids were driving to Wendy's for lunch when we spotted a big truck with "Party City" painted on the side.

Thomas: "Follow that truck!"
Matthew: "Nooooooo, follow that cheeseburger!"

Magical Ninja Singer/Songwriter

Thomas' Halloween costume comes with its own theme music this year.

Magical Ninja super-powered freak!
He fights crime as fast as a streak.
He casts spells,
He rings bells,
Even when he has to stop to take a leak
In a creek.
Magical Ninja super-powered freak!
Fighting evil every day of the week.
He flips cars,
He wins wars,
Even with a tattoo of a birdie's beak
On his cheek.
Magical Ninja super-powered freak!
Foiling the bad guys who forge antiques.
He likes chicks
And action flicks.
And when he whips the baddies they give girly shrieks
And go "Eek!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Memorable Quotes from Thomas

"I remember that as if it were going to be seen in a wavy flashback!"

"La cucaracha, la cucaracha, enchilada blah blah blah. . ."

(Upon seeing a flyer for "Disney's High School Musical on Ice") "Putting something on ice just makes it crappier. It's like fighting crappy fire with crappy fire. All you get is a bigger crappy fire."