Monday, November 26, 2012

Month 23

Or 2Y - 1mo!  The 23rd month is always going to give up a little luster to the coming celebration of the big 2 year mark, but this month has been pleasant.  Not only has the weather turned a little crisper, but you, my boy, have graduated into the next grade of terrorizing your parents.  This month, you learned to climb.

Just a few short nights ago, while prepping for one of many holiday meals, you climbed right up onto a two step stool and "helped" Mama with her cooking.  And now, forever more, the knives will have to be put away, not to be left on the counter top for reachy little hands.

I blame it all on your new friend; we recently had dinner with another family in their home, and their son (your age +/- one week) was climbing all over the place and you took copious notes.  It's all good, though.  1/8 of a second after this picture was taken, you learned the second lesson of climbing, and the bruise didn't even last a day.

You also continued developing your curiosity this month.  As mentioned before, you get to go to the TN aquarium a ridiculous amount, and at each stage of your very young life you have reacted differently to the experience.  This last time you finally took notice of the jelly fish and maybe a little bit the giant crabs.  And for 7 or 8 seconds you checked out the under water observation bubble.

This was your first year with real exposure to holiday food, and it turned out to be a good year for that. Both families (Mama's and Daddy's) celebrated Thanksgiving with above average iterations of the turkey, stuffing, potato, etc assembly.  At your Oma's house, you even got to show your climbing skills off out on the deck in pretty but brisk temps.

I should also mention that you are talking more, and with more sophistication.  I am more impressed that you look at a picture book and say "two mouses" than I am concerned that you haven't fully grokked the crazy English rules of plurals.

Along the same lines, it makes me and yo mama fuzzy and warm on the insides when you wander off in the house and we find sitting with a book, "reading" to one of your friends (owl, train, Pooh...)  It shows my bias, but I do believe that if we can get encourage your love of reading that the rest of your education will likely take care of itself.

We are excited about the coming celebration, and we are committed to recognizing your birthday despite the societal focus on the Christmas holidays, but we cherish each month, and 23 is no exception.  Maybe because you brought the style this month, hard.
I love you, son.  Stay cool.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time to move on

 Family, community, legacy...I mentioned these words in this space recently, and they have been resonating in my mind ever since.  I have known for quite some time what is important to me, what I value, what I love and care about, but I have also come to see more clearly that my actions have not always aligned well with those values.

I value my family, I care for my community, and I am mindful of my legacy.  This month I made a tough decision, a choice 12 years in the making, and one that I believe is more closely aligned with my values.  After spending 1/3 of my life building a career in one role, and with one firm, I have chosen to step away from that path and onto another.

This year I am starting my own business.  I believe I am well prepared and well suited for the endeavor, I am confident that I have the ability to be productive and to bring value to others, and it is my sincere hope that this new career will allow me to better express my values.

Family.  Community.  Legacy.

Stay tuned - see you soon!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Month 22

For those readers new to this blog, I write about a great many things but not very often (right now), but one thing that I write about every month on the 26th is my son.  He was born on December 26, 2010, and so he is now twenty two months old.  Except today is the 31st.  So I'm late.  Again.

On the actual day, the Chattanooga Zoo had a pre-Halloween event called "Boo in the Zoo", where you could bring your kids out in their costumes and walk around looking at the animals and the other kids in their costumes.

It was a lot of fun and maybe a little overwhelming but totally worth it.

Son, this 22nd month ended up being a pretty big in the course of our family's direction.  In some ways this shift had nothing to do with you, but from a different perspective it had everything to do with you.  The very short version of the story is that I made a decision this month to attempt a change in career.  After a lot of consideration, your mom and I decided that we both want to spend more and higher quality time together as a family.

I have more to say, about your development and about the changes in my career, but I'll save that for another day.  For now, know that you are my favorite little fireman in the world, and that you have an incredibly talented and crafty mama too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 things


That is all.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the wonder wanders

Hit play and let this be the soundtrack for this morning's post:

[i would prefer a live action video, but I didn't see any suitable PS originals, and the cover versions on youtube for this song seem...not great?]

There is a heavy fog in the Tennessee valley this morning, and when my little boy looked out the window to see the school bus hurtling by, and then later the trash truck doing its duties, he watched and reacted as he always does.  There was no concerned glance at dad, as if to communicate "why is the outside so fuzzy and white this morning?"  No, he just accepted this novelty (in his experience); he just took it in and rolled with it.

When do we lose that?  The phrase "childlike wonder" or "innocence" or similar have risen to the level of cliche, but of course their commonality derives from the fact that kids are more open.

Is it possible to extend that state a bit later in life than is typical for children in the US?  And would that be healthy or beneficial or wise?  Are adult attempts to rekindle that sense of wonder in their own lives appropriate, and is it even possible do regain that state, or are those childlike moments really just a quasi successful short term delusion?

Watching my boy engage with the world is fun, and it does in some ways give me a little wormhole window back into the child's eye perspective, but I also recognize the danger in allowing nostalgia to put a Instagrammed [ed note. too au courant] romanticized, sepia toned overlay on my actual experiences as a kid.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No Parking

We (people) impose order on our environments.  We build dams and levies to reign in our rivers, we carve roads through forests and through mountains of stone, we breed dogs to be friendly and corn to be productive.  Where many of us come together, we lay down laws and put up signs in pursuit of delineating those things that shall be allowed and those that shall not.

Some rules seem somewhat arbitrary on the surface (you may park your car along the street in precisely this spot on these specific days at these few particular hours), but generally derive from some sensible premise (the street cleaning truck cannot clean the street if your car is in the way).  Rules are designed by society to improve on the experience of society; rules and their design are what enable society in the first place.

Where things get complicated, though, in my opinion, is when people expect rules where there are none.

Since we operate almost exclusively within systems and constraints that we ourselves designed, it can be jarring to take a perspective step back and realize that just outside the cone of electric light there are some dark and complicated shadows.

For instance, biology requires that we mate and raise little versions of ourselves to perpetuate the species.  And that's it, the entire evolutionary rule book is that short: make more humans.  There is no naturally provided guidance about whether your kid(s) should go to pre-school or daycare, whether you should let them see you cry, whether you should put their college funding ahead of your retirement savings...  That's not to say that we haven't learned some tips and tricks to optimize "successful outcomes", but it does suggest that the very term "successful outcome" can have widely varying meanings around the world.  And so the rule remains, either individually or in aggregate: make more humans.

I've come to see humans as techno- or systemo-cratic creatures.  We respond well to a "do this and then that will happen" approach, but the actual experience of living in the real world very often turns out to be highly random or variable.  A spouse can internalize all of the best advice about how to be a good spouse and still find themselves divorced.  A parent can navigate the narrow and twisty path of giving enough but not too much attention to their kids and still end up with a "problem child".  A student can study hard, keep their nose clean, hit all their marks, and still fail to find a good job.  If there are actual "rules" to the game of life, they are designed for the statistical mean experience, not for individual data points.

Religious and secular philosophies attempt to glean a set of rules for the human existence from the natural and physical laws we can observe, and/or the "perfect standard" we can imagine, but again those systems seem to address the aggregate experience of the group and not a given individual.

I am feeling that the upshot is that in the case of an individual, rules are not rules but guides, because for an individual there is no guarantee that following rule X (or step, or process, or system) will produce result Y.  Maybe because NTTATS.

I'll think on this a little more, but the general sentiment above came out of a relatively brief conversation I had with my wife and life partner last night, and I wanted to capture the gist of that for further reflection.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

21 months!

So now you are 21 - party time!  Hey!  This is a placeholder, because Daddy's off work this week and we are maxing out the family fun time.  I'll come back soon to post some recent pics/vids/anecdotes to commemorate this milestone.  Love you, Buddy!

[I've decided to reopen this post versus starting a new one]

Some videos I had planned to share here have migrated away from a readily accessible location, so we will stick with photos for now.

Your personality has really ramped up in recent weeks - not that you haven't always been awesome, but lately your conversation skills and...awareness of interpersonal relationships?...has really improved.

This shot is now the "lock screen" on my phone.  You don't know who the Ninja Turtles are, but you could be their Pai Mei...

And this shot is now my phone's seriously (still) love tractors and anything else with a steering wheel that we can let you sit on and "drive".  The special obstacle this love has created for us in recent weeks is that you are no longer content to sit in your car seat, but wish instead to be in the driver's seat...we keep trying to explain things like licenses and laws, but you don't care.  You just want to drive.

Have I told you lately how much I love you and your mom?  I do.  I really, really do.

Some things are changing around here in terms of career outlook, and those changes will propagate out through the rest of our lives, and it's all terrible exciting and anxious and fun and unknown, but one thing that I have no intention of allowing to change is how much I love you two and want to remain focused on family.

In the meantime, keep doing what you are doing: you're fun, sweet, and pretty adorable.

I love you, Buddy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Do it tomorrow

So far in your life, how many times have you read, heard, seen in someone offer up the advice: "don't wait"? It could be for expressing your love, or taking that chance on a new career, or whatever, but the sentiment comes up over and over.

Do it now. Do it today. Live your life NOW.

You've heard it 1000s of times. At least, I have. And I've felt that urgency to act. But...

Sometimes there is a reason, but often there is not... we just fail to act. The status quo persists, or the obstacles to action seem to high, or or or.

My thought for the day: don't save it. Spend it. If there is love, share it. If there are new ideas, embrace them. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Month 20

A few days late!  Sometimes life comes at you fast, you know?

This has been a great month.  I hate it when people toss around terms like "blessed" cheaply; after careful consideration, I can say that I have felt truly blessed in recent weeks to be stuck with a kid like you and a wife like yo' mama.

today, I weigh "awesome"

We took a trip to Asheville, NC this month, for a long weekend break from home.  After touring the Biltmore house, we checked out the little "village" they have built for additional tourist dollar extraction.  One bit was a barn with retired farm equipment set around for viewing; this is a great time to share with the world your intense passion for tractors...

old MacDonald better watch his back - there's a new farmer in town
I'm sure that I would have been happy in an alternate timeline where we didn't have a child, but this actual timeline has brought me so much joy, and so much of it in ways I could not have anticipated.  Hearing you say "tractor, tractor, TRACTOR!" with this gleam of hungry joy in your eyes is so much fun.

It's not just tractors - you want to drive everything.  Anything with a wheel, you're going to wheel it.  And if it doesn't have a wheel, you're going to figure out how to drive it anyway.
no, I am NOT ready to stop driving the boat

Each passing month has brought new excitement too, in the form of opportunities to play and explore and experiment.  For example, you have learned both the solo and tandem approaches to sliding

Also?  You eat like a champ.  More and more, you are taking food off of Mom and Dad's plates, and in some cases when we are out to eat, you even get to order your own food from the menu.  At home, less of your food comes in a pouch with a picture of a baby or Elmo on it (ed note: you have always eaten a lot of fresh fruits and veggies), and more and more comes from the produce section of the store.

I've started thinking of you as "2"...maybe it's the concept of rounding up?  We have a few more months before you are officially 2, and I'm guessing there will be some new rounds of awesome in those months, and then we will have a special 24 months / 2 years post!  Stay tuned, and stay cool.

Daddy loves you very much!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Month 19

You woke up with a 102+ fever this morning, the morning after your old man turned 35.  Some mornings (and months!) are harder to appreciate than others.  Even so, the last 30 days had some highlights worth mentioning here:

  • you traveled out of the country, to Aruba for a few days, to celebrate the wedding of one of Mom's cousins.  You did great.  I intend to write more, later, about traveling as a small family with a young kid(s).
  • you have pretty well mastered eating with a fork
  • while you are still not making sentences, you are saying many words, more clearly and in appropriate contexts.  It's very cool to see your ability to communicate (verbally and non-) improve so much over such a short amount of time
  • on one of our semi-regular trips to the Aquarium, you walked pretty much the whole way around the exhibits, up and down ramps.  That was a big change from being carried or strollered around
So...sorry this month's post is a little mechanical and uninspired.  Be sure that you are still inspirational, but Daddy's kind of down today.

Monday, July 16, 2012

NTTATS update: further thought

When I first started talking (here and elsewhere) about the concept of "No Two Things Are The Same", one of the more valid questions/criticisms was concerned with the practical implications: what can I do with this knowledge?

At the time, my best answer was a somewhat vague "well, you can approach new ideas and decisions armed with the knowledge that No Two Things Are the Same", I'm happy to report that I feel the same way, but have some more concrete examples.

It's well know and accepted (and reasonable) that folks like to use examples (precedents, analogies, etc) to make a point, or to suggest best practices, or offer a contrast, and so statements like the following are pretty common:

During the credit crises of 2008+, the banks of Canada weathered the storm much better than the banks in the States - we should model our banking system on Canada's!

New Zealand has this awesome, pro-business tax policy and everyone there is happy - we should follow this model in the US!
I chose these two examples because they are similar in my view: the population of Canada is about 1/10th that of the States, and the GDP of New Zealand is a rounding error to the US.  Further, the demographics and urban/rural distribution of Canada creates a far different banking scenario than could apply to the States.

In neither case does the surface difference between the US and the other countries automatically invalidate the suggested policy, but those differences point out a very different reality on the ground in the example countries.

Based on my anecdotal experience, some folks are naturally more skeptical / sophisticated about applying some basic criticisms to suggestions like those above, but many people aren't...they hear "Canadian banks remained well capitalized" and they readily accepted the suggestion that the Canadian banks were subject to the exact same stresses as those applied to US banks.  So a more thorough acceptance of NTTATS in society could serve to shift the balance towards more critical thinking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

18 months! 1.5 years! wow!

Your mother and I decided pretty early on that we weren't going to do this "half birthday" non-sense...just because your actual birthday came the day after Christmas, it's your birthday, and we will be as ridiculous about you on that day as we want.

But...18 months does seem like a big deal, for some reason.  A lot HAS happened in this last month.

You got your first car (and you take personal safety seriously!)

You are learning to eat like an adult (this bit is home grilled pizza)

You even made a go at your first job, but it turned out that delivering packages was not your passion.

I have no video evidence to offer here, but this month has also seen you beginning to show your interest in expression via dance...nearly every day you find a chance to turn on the radio (you love pushing buttons), and we find you spinning, smiling, waving your arms.  It's quite a sight, and one we have yet to tire of seeing.

There is, however, video evidence that you are going to be awesome at hiding:

One of the things about this stage that constantly surprises me is how I see one moment, you look like a proper little dude about town, like here where it looks like you are weighing the decision between San Pellegrino and the more quotidian DeerPark bottled waters:

or here where you seem ready to have a heart to heart chat:

but then, at other times, I look at you and all I can see is the soft, tiny chunk of love you were 18 months ago:

Son, we tell you all the time, but don't think we can say it too much: your mother and father love you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Month 17

This month turned out to be full of interesting bits.  For one, you stopped drinking your mom's milk in the last few weeks.  This was a decision we made, a plan we agreed on, and when the time came you took the change in stride.  Your mom struggled a little, and still does - the intimacy of breastfeeding creates a very tight bond between Mom and Baby, and I know she misses that part of the evening; the bedtime feeding was the last to go.

Part of the rationale for weaning you this month was connected to the other big happening.  For the first time ever, Mom was away from you over night.  And not just one little Mother's-Night-Out, but a whole week!

The other side of that equation meant that this same week was Dad's first opportunity to be the sole care giver for you, several hours in the morning, and then from afternoon and through the nights.  For weeks in advance I had been building this little lump of anxiety in my belly, not sure of what to expect from the week but nearly certain that I would mess it up in some spectacular way.

I should not have worried.  Things went better than I could have expected, and probably better than I deserved.  The first night (my biggest concern!), you let me rock you to sleep without incident.  I sang to you for about 15 minutes (it turns out you like U2, Tom Waits, and I'm Just a Little Black Raincloud!), and you just closed your eyes and slept through until breakfast time.

And breakfast (that first morning and each subsequent iteration) was super easy too.  I should probably not brag too much, because when Mom reads this she will probably realize that I could take on more of these routine chores looking forward...

The second night you did do something weird, but it turned out ok.  After staring me down through the singing period (was it that you wanted a whole new batch of songs?  Or that you were hoping for more Gillian Welch and less INXS?), you let me put you in your crib - still awake - and leave you there.  This was after an hour or so of rocking and singing to you, during which you yawned plenty, rubbed your eyes, and snuggled in close, but did.  not.  go.  to.  sleep.

So I left you in the crib.  When I got downstairs and checked you on the monitor, you were still laying quietly in your crib, your little raccoon eyes (night vision cameras can be creepy) open and gazing up at me...  And so it went for another hour.  You did eventually doze off, but only after surprising me with this silent treatment.  I had expected tantrums and crying, and I got this very mellow, contemplative kid.  I convinced myself that you were working through some Trennungsangst about your mom being gone.  But hey, it was better than crying!

The rest of the week gave us opportunities for other "firsts": first bath time alone with Dad, first dinner trip out alone with Dad, first time singing Sunday Bloody Sunday as a lullaby...

I also gained some perspective on parents who are always doing this job solo, and came to understand just a little more how challenging that life must be.  I've appreciated (and loved) your mom since long before you were born, but a week where our only experience of her was over (an inconsistent) video chat link reaffirmed how central she is to our experience of Family.

In anticipation, I couldn't wait for this week to come and go and to be able to look back on it as "done", but now the rear looking perspective is bittersweet.  You and I had a great time, and we both know now that we can do this, we can hold it together for a few days at a time, just the two of us.

I love you, son.

Friday, April 27, 2012

month 16

You can never step in the same river twice, and no two months in your kid's life are the same...but, when I write the book of being a dad, I will probably comment that the pace of change and development and onslaught of novelty slows some in the low teen months.  You do new things, but they are really marginal progressions over the last few months.

The most striking "new" thing that I noticed in April was your ability to understand me and your mom.  We can give you pretty complicated instructions, and you carry them out (if you are in the mood, not distracted by the dog, not hungry, etc...) and that comprehension and ability to act on your understanding is very cool.

In so far as we have family "traditions", one that has evolved over the last year or so is a Saturday trip downtown, with a nice family breakfast and trip to the TN Aquarium.  We've found that getting there at opening time makes a HUGE difference in our collective ability to enjoy the exhibits.  You are not yet 2 years old, and you have probably been to the aquarium 10 times already.  On this most recent trip you showed more active interest in the fish and birds and butterflies, as opposed to just a general excitement in being "out".

There's a little park near our home, and Mom takes you there pretty often.  You have graduated from just swinging and checking out the more mobile kids to BEING one of the more mobile kids.  It's cool to watch you watch the bigger boys and girls  - you seem inspired by their excitement.  And then you try to steal their wheels.

You are obsessed with wheels - anything that you can spin or roll has your attention.  Your late, Great Grandmother gave you a vintage toy truck (a WalMart 18 wheeler with realistic engine sounds!) and you abso-freakin-lutely LOVE it.  And it has vintage features like tiny plastic parts that can break off and or poke you in the eyes.  So we keep hiding it, and you keep going to the hiding spot and pointing at where the darned thing is hidden and doing to "I want that" sign language.

The three of us - me, your mom, you - spend a TON of time together and I can't really imagine it being any other way.  I do not think there is one right way to parent and I don't know how our choices now will affect you later in life, but I really enjoy being involved in your whole day.

I have more and more pictures like this one, and the symbolic content is not lost on me.  You are both capable and comfortable ranging further and further from Mommy and Daddy, and that is bittersweet.  Your parents both want you to be confident and strong and interested in contributing to your community, and we know that means giving you space to develop your independence, but it is a constant battle against the instinct to cushion you against bruises, to insulate you from fear, to protect you from the world - let's just say we are going to do our best to keep you safe but not too safe.
You are my second favorite person in the world, and my best little buddy.  See you next month!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

ode to my French press

This post could possible belong over at DRW Food, but it's here for now.

I love my French press.  It's forgiving to different grinds, it helps with portion control (the missus and I each get a decent cup - cup.5), and it feels so refined versus my Mr Coffee dripper.

Of course, I also have an AeroPress, and it's great for one off "espresso" style drinks.  I'm not sold on it for the morning coffee.

And then there's the Bialetti stovetop espresso/cappuccino maker (I don't think I spent that much on mine...I hope I didn't spend that much on mine...)

Moral of this story is that I have a small fortune in kitchen gadgets, but I have settled into a nice pattern of the French press for my daily joe maker, with the AeroPress for the occasional espresso experiment.

This post would be remiss in mentioning that my good friend Michael introduced me to French press coffee a few years ago in a Bronx apartment.  Cheers, Michael!

Monday, April 2, 2012

lessons I've learned

What's that you say?  Month 15 post wha'?  You can count now, little boy?!

I may not have written a March 26 post, but I sure did think about you a lot that day.  And today, I was thinking about things I have learned since we began this experiment.  In no particular order:

  • most toys are not worth buying.  It may sound cliche, but you have had the most fun playing with wooden blocks, empty cardboard boxes, balls, and yesterday for the first time, a paper bag.
this video is long!

  • it is wise to rotate toys in and out of accessibility.  A car you haven't seen in a few weeks is like a BRAND.  NEW.  TOY!!!  But with the added value of slight recognition.  Also, and related: if you don't seem to enjoy a particular toy, we just rotate it out and try it again later.  It's pretty cool how you can totally not care about a multi-colored rolling wooden wheel toy for months, and then chase it around the house screaming hysterically (happy) for half an hour.
  • As with toys, so with food.  When you were a little guy just beginning to eat "real" food, you LOVED avocado.  And then you didn't.  And now you do again, some days.  Same with strawberries.  And yogurt.  And most everything else, except bread and french fries - you hardly ever turn those down.
  • sleep is not a science.  some nights you sleep for 7+ hours, some nights you don't.  You have two data driven and analytic parents who have run the studies looking for correlation, causation, pattern recognition, and witchcraft, and we have figured out that we don't know what the deal is.
  • stoicism is important for dads, and yet is harder to practice when you are a dad.  I have always given consideration to possible bad outcomes, but when I think about how and what could happen to by best little buddy I get all, well, unstoic
  • one never knows what is going on in a kid's head
  • making you laugh is the best.  It makes me feel better than making money or making a mai tai, or watching The Big Lebowski.  Novelty is so powerful with you, and I'm constantly thinking of things I can show you or do for you that will get you going on that goofy, toothy smile and then ramp it up into the chuckle.  The belly laugh is more than I can ask for, and when it comes it's like jumping the fence onto Shields-Watkins field after UT beat Florida in's a rush.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Traveling with child

Airlines are sociopathic institutions.  "Infant in arms" is a known thing, yet getting on the same page as the airline in advance is nigh near impossible.

In this case, even though we booked flights a month in advance on a major domestic carrier, we couldn't get assigned seats until we reached the departure gate.

On the first flight, this wasn't really an issue. Flying out of a tiny airport does have some perks, and one of those turned out to be uncrowded early boarding with baby and all accoutrements.  Not so in Atlanta for our connection.

The scheduled layover was about an hour, and with a 15 minute delay on landing for fog, plus deplaning from the rear, plus changing concourses in the busiest airport in the States...we got on our connection, in the midst of the fourth boarding group, and we took the seat assignments that the machine at the top of the jetway spat at us as we swept by in a sweaty rush.

I should interject here - perhaps as a  little foreshadowing or co-shadowing - the baby rocked this travel day. No screaming, no tantrums, no airplane poopy diapers...the best criticism we could work up between us is that his 1 hour nap could have been better as a 2 hour nap.

Regarding traveling with kids against a time zone's not for the faint of heart. Some of you may know about the trip to San Francisco we had scheduled for october 2011 that got unscheduled due to some family illness ...that trip was going to dislocate our precious cargo by 3 hours from his standard sleep routine, and the thought had me anxious.  Today's trip just set us off an hour. The jury is still out. 
We picked a hotel on the Riverwalk, based mostly on location and traveler reviews, but it also turned out to be pretty affordable.  And! When we checked in, they gave us punchcards for several unadvertised freebies: daily hot breakfast (kind of standard, I guess, but still! ), free wifi (no codes - you just connect!), and 3 freaking free drinks at a daily happy hour! I was not prepared.

the nighttime view from our balcony
"with limited service" - LOL


Breakfast in the hotel lobby, and then a first exploration of the Riverwalk in a drizzly rain.

Lunch at Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk.  We had to dodge around a guy out front selling time shares, but the food inside was pretty good.  Jude was not cool. I had a Margarita, fried shrimp tacos; mi esposa had marinated tilapia tacos, and we shared some guac mashed up table side.

In what became a welcome hallmark of this trip, we had a nice nap afternoon nap back at the hotel. And have I mentioned the cheerleaders?  Our hotel turned out to be ground zero for a cheerleader convention, and I don't mean a "Playboy Girls of the SEC kind of cheerleader, but a "12 year olds dolled up like Jon Benet by their parents to compete for trophies" kind of cheerleader.  Our room was second from the top floor, with only a rooftop terrace and lounge area above us - perfect for late night tumbling sessions...

the swimwear competition involves bottle juggling
The indoor pool at this hotel was a beautiful room with floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows facing out over the city from the 9th floor, and on our first attempt to go for a swim with Jr, we were greeted with the scene of 40+ cheerleaders, sans chaperone, enjoying the facility.  We came back later.  The kid loves "swimming".

That night we ventured out of tourist central (the riverwalk) to the King William neighborhood to this Belgian place:

View Larger Map

I think we were seeking an experience to remind us of the Hopleaf back in Chicago.  We had a great time, and the staff there really went to lengths to make us comfortable.  Another party with a baby had just preceded us and claimed their only high chair, but one of the waiters ran across the street for a loaner from the latin bar...very cool.  We shared Crevette Franca (so called "Belgian Style" fried shrimp), a fromage plate, Saison and Kwak beers.

low light = romantic.  just ignore the messy kid

We moved on to moules and frite in a "Basque " sauce with chorizo and herbs. I had an Omed Belgian blonde, then cappuccino and waffle for dessert...awesome. Jude rocked it.


Not a great night's sleep but decent. Breakfast downstairs, and then a drive out to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (link opens to music).  It's a drive through safari park where animals of all sorts come right up to the car and give you some facetime. Jude loved it.  He loved the poop out of it.

Back on the riverwalk for lunch at Boudro's. This is a tourist spot, but with a good reputation.  We got patio seating by the river and got caught in the rain. The prickly pear Margarita and steak sandwich were nice (if a little wet!); Mom had ropa vieja.

After a good, long nap we cleaned up and went to the Tower of the Americas for dinner at the Chart House. Long ago in the time before baby, we had dined a couple of times at the location in Boston and found it to be great "for a chain." Dinner went verrrrrrry long.  At least the view was nice.

notice the lack of food or booze, 1 hour in


We got up and out early and decided to look for breakfast outside the hotel. Sunday mornings can be tough, but we found a local bagel place and had a quick meal. The weather was finally more cooperative, so we committed to walking as much as possible for the day. We headed over to El Mercado to get our fill of souvenir shopping, and the we found our way back to King William for a look-around and lunch at Rosario's (music). There, We started with some chorizo queso flameado (in Chicago they called thie "fundido") and then dove into tacos. Mine were filled with pork chunks simmered in chilies, and nothing else. The big surprise at lunch - Jude fell asleep in the stroller on the way and slept through the whole meal! We had to keep reminding each other that it wasn't necessary to shovel food down as fast as possible.

On the walk back we stopped to give the baby lunch in a hotel courtyard, but not just any hotel...this one happened to be the Marriott where Mexico, Canada, and the USA signed NAFTA! Jude didn't seem impressed.
a helpful reminder that Canada and Mexico are part of North America

Back on the riverwalk I made the family stop for an afternoon libation in the patio seating of the Westin's bar. It would have been awesome but for the steady stream of smokers coming from inside to stand by our seats and spew their nastiness at us. It always makes me want to follow them back to their seats and fart a big nasty at their table and say "see?!?!"

A short swim and a long nap and then back out for dinner. The riverwalk was crowded (holiday weekend?) and Mom didn't like the look of the first place I had in mind, so we doubled back to a swank, romantic spot at the Omni. Las Canarias (named for the Canary Islands origins of the first European settlers in the area) was fancy. They had a 12 page wine list with maybe 5 reds available by the glass ...I had a Margarita. We shared a caprese salad, she had veggie ravioli and I enjoyed a salmon and pork belly dish. Jude rocked it.

Facing an early flight on Monday, we mostly packed tonight. I got 3/4 of everything we brought into my suitcase - I'm interested to see the drama around the other 1/4 in the morning.


Travel day - up at 5:30, on the road by 6:15... Dropping the rental car and getting to the airport wasn't too bad. But once again, security required Amber to go through a pat down to prove the baby milk we were caring was, in fact, baby milk and not b.b.b.b.bomb making material. At the gate, the friendly agents informed us and 100 of our newest, closest friends that our plane was actually on the property but parked somewhere else and would need to be "towed" around to our gate. We left 40 minutes late. The best news of the trip home was that Jude got his own seat and slept the whole way from San Antonio to Atlanta. That was awesome.

"Travel?  I could tell you some stories!"

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Depression is a sneaky bitch

You are rolling along, and things are OK, and then BAM - everything tastes like a penny, looks like a pile of Sunday night homework, sounds like soulless pop...

Depression is sneaky because it disguises itself, altering your perception immediately, making you feel that this state of bleak is normal...and having that feeling that your state of normal is bleak feeds into a dangerous downward cycle towards a more robust depression.

I hate feeling this way; I like to believe that I have achieved a heightened consciousness of self that allows me to recognize my own depression (to see through that disguise) pretty quickly, but that belief is likely delusional.

In Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books, and specifically those dealing with the witches, he introduces this concept of "third thoughts" and "fourth thoughts" - the general idea is that everyone is capable of having "second thoughts" wherein they apply a basic level of analysis to their own thinking, but that sometimes it may be valuable to analyze your analysis.  The recursive nature of this analysis brings a danger of paralysis, and so must be applied judiciously.  I'm no master of the judicious application of self-analysis, but I would like to believe that such analysis has added value a time or two.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Month 13

Year one is in the books, and year 2 is off to a great start!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[sad face]

some of my virtual friends are going through a trial separation in their marriage and it bums me out.

Also, I know I'm past-due on posts related to my 1 year old (and counting!) and some other topics, but my capacity for writing has diminished in recent weeks.  Sorry!