Tag Archives: Holidays

We’re Home.

We got in at 2:15am, after more than 16 hours on the road.  Was it the traffic getting out of New York City?  Nope — the Brooklyn Bridge and Holland Tunnel were wide open.  Was it the weather?  Nope — it slowed us down a little, but it wasn’t really a problem.

Was it the two-and-a-half hour traffic delay before and right after the Delaware Water Gap at the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, where there was NO REASON AT ALL for there to be so many people?

Maybe.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We have just arrived at the apartment we’re renting for a couple of days in my hometown.  An extremely long drive for a very short visit, but it’s worth it — it’s the first time since autumn, 2003 that I’ve been here except for work.  Unfocused Girl was 2 the last time, and Junior has never been.  We’ll head out shortly for Thanksgiving dinner with my father and the family of an old friend (and my apologies to my other old friends in town who we won’t be able to see this trip; if it works out as well as we hope it does, we’ll do it much more often).

I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

July Fourth: In Which Junior Discovers His Limits, and We Discover How Tough He Is.

Junior has been pushing his physical limits lately, testing to see what his body can do. He’s four and a half, and since spring finally hit Chicago he’s been accumulating new bruises far faster than the old ones can heal. When he gets undressed, he appears from his thighs to his ankles to be more bruise than boy. Unfocused Girl went through this a couple of times, and Junior went through a similar phase the summer after he turned two, but since he’s bigger and older now he can do more interesting things and do even more damage.

Example: a week or two ago, while Unfocused Girl was at a class at the Y, the Mrs. took Junior to the playground. When she told him it was time to go pick up UG, he begged to be pushed on the swings before they left. The Mrs. relented, and agreed to push him four times on the swing. He climbed onto the swing — the big kid swing, not the baby swing — and with each push, they counted together: “One!” “Two!” “Three!”

On “Four!” he waited until he got to the highest point of the arc and let go, spreading his arms wide. If you had seen him at that moment, Mrs. Unfocused said, you’d think the kid could fly. Until he belly-flopped onto the rubber tile.

He was lucky, and got up laughing.

We hosted an Independence Day barbecue yesterday, not huge, just family. At one point, Junior was lying on his belly on one of the swings on our backyard playset, when he tipped over and landed on his face. He didn’t have anything worse than a scraped nose, but it shook him up and he cried for a while before we could get him calmed down.

He cried less than that an hour later when he broke his arm.

He was on the playset, at the top of the slide. He was Spider-Man, and he said that I should be the Joker, and come up the slide, so I did. He pushed me down, and I slid down the slide. As I reached the bottom, he started down the slide after me — on foot, not on his bottom.

If that sounds unstable, well, duh. Still, even though I was standing a few feet away and saw it happen, I don’t have any idea how or why he went over the side, but he did. He landed on his front, then rolled over and started yelling; it took me less than a second to start yelling too, because his right arm was bent at a 60-degree angle about two inches up from his wrist. We put a dishtowel over his arm because the sight of his arm bent that way really bothered him, and it bothered me, too.

I’ll spare you the details from the rest of the evening, except to say that (1) he stopped crying before we got to the car, and did not cry again for the rest of the night except when the nurse stuck the IV into his left hand to give him morphine, a drug I associate with addicts in Agatha Christie novels, not pediatric medicine, and (2) Children’s Memorial Hospital is, as you might imagine, the place to go with a child injured for any reason, but certainly it’s the place to bring a child with a broken bone on a major national holiday. We checked in at 6:50pm, and walked out at 10:30, with Junior — awake and yammering away, just like normal — wearing a plaster cast from his elbow to his thumb.

Today was a little rough. Junior watched a lot of TV, and had good moments and bad. One of the bad moments came around four o’clock, when he told us that his arm was straight and didn’t hurt anymore, so it was time to take the cast off, and we had to explain what “4 to 6 weeks” means. He cried then, and asked about our trip to the beach later in the summer; we told him we didn’t know, but we thought there was a cover we could put over his cast to let him go to the beach.

There were good parts, though. After some coaxing, he agreed to walk around the corner to Starbucks at around 5:30, but only if I carried him down the stairs from our front porch (a compromise from his original negotiating position that I should carry him all the way to Starbucks and back), and he really enjoyed the distraction. We spent an hour or so outside after that, chatting with neighbors and using up the noisemakers and poppers we didn’t get to use last night.

Now he’s finally asleep, and I’m falling asleep at the computer. The Mrs. says I was more restless last night than I’ve ever been. I’ll post some more about it, and an update, tomorrow.

May 1. Happy Law Day!

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the first official Law Day in the United States, a day to celebrate and reflect on the importance of the rule of law. Originally, it was a thumb in the eye of the Reds from Ike and the American Bar Association; now, nobody cares but us lawyers. What the hell, it may not be much of a holiday, but we’ll take it, thanks.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry, and to the editorial by the President of the ABA. There, now you’re informed. Go forth and celebrate! And reflect!

It is also, for the record, exactly six months until the start of NaNoWriMo.

Happy Passover!

When I was in high school, my friend Barry used to say that he was Jewish, but not very good at it. I’m half-Jewish, and not terribly good even at that. Add it to the list of things I’m not terribly good at.

We do have a seder almost every year for Passover, though, so the kids learn something about this part of their heritage (and because we enjoy it). Over the years we’ve cobbled together our own Haggadah from various sources, and we all have our designated lines. Mrs. Unfocused, Lutheran born and bred, gets into the spirit of it, even to the point of buying kosher-for-passover wine, which has come a long way from the sugary aged grape juice I remember tasting as a youngster. She also does a lot more of the preparation work than I do; she’s cooking now – I can smell the lamb shanks from the upstairs bathroom where I’m giving the kids a bath. A little over eight hours to sunset. Getting hungry.

I don’t have anything deep to say about Pesach; I’m neither religious nor spiritual. But I do think it’s important to pass on at least some of these traditions, if only to keep the history alive.

Happy Easter from the Grey Goo.

Happy Easter. We’ve been invaded by hostile, replicating nanobots, of supposedly “natural” origin. They struck the most vulnerable member of the family first, of course — Junior woke up yesterday with a fever and stuffy nose and a cough, then threw up as his body attempted to expel the nanites, to no avail.

One by one, our defenses appear to have failed. By last night, Unfocused Girl, Mrs. Unfocused, and I all had mild fevers, but our diagnostic equipment has been malfunctioning, and is therefore unreliable. Mrs. Unfocused had the highest fever of the three of us, but this morning Unfocused Girl woke up with a stuffy nose and cough. Between her and Junior, they are emitting enough grey goo to convert most of the eastern half of the continent.

The nanobots are using our bodies’ energy for their own replication, leaving us droopy and listless. The vaccination I received last fall appears to be useless against this strain of nanite.

Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid potential carriers of nanobot infection, and remember to wash your hands often — the soap won’t disable the nanites, but may make your skin slippery enough at the molecular level that they will be unable to find purchase.

At least we have lots of candy.

More on resolutions

I posted my perennial New Year’s resolutions from the previous post at the NaNoWriMo Big, Fun, Scary Goal Center forum, and decided they were too vague, so I added some detail on some of them, and admitted that others were unrealistic (at least for this year!):

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Some of these require more specificity. I want to get my 5K time down below 20 minutes, which is not so terribly far from my PR in both 2006 and 2007 of 20:26, but will certainly take some concentrated effort.

Language skills. I have been teaching myself Spanish off and on for a couple of years, and plan to do a little more with that this year, but this is actually my lowest priority goal this year.

Go back to TKD: I just registered myself and my daughter for Family TKD at the Y, and I think my wife and son will end up joining the class, too. Perfect! Also, this helps with “spend more time with the kids.”

If we buy a piano this year, I will learn to play at least one Billy Joel song.

Writing: a couple of weeks ago, when I started my blog, I said that my writing goals for 2008 were: keep up with the blog, write one professional article and one short story before NaNoWriMo 2008, and win NaNo. I’m having to modify those goals slightly because I started hashing out a novel the other day. So now my new writing goals are: keep up with the blog, write one professional article and the first draft of my current novel before NaNoWriMo 2008, and win NaNo.

I will not grow taller.

Learn to draw: again, probably not this year.

Superpowers: I plan to go up at least one belt level in TKD this year — that and breaking 20 minutes for a 5K would be superpowers enough for 2008.
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So, yeah, I started work on a novel on January 2. I’m such an idiot. I don’t know what I was thinking — I had a plan, and the plan did not involve working on a novel until November, which was comfortably far off. But an idea I’ve been kicking around occasionally since I was in high school more than 20 years ago popped back into my head with a new angle that I couldn’t resist thinking through. That’s the problem with ideas — once you get one idea and start going in a new direction (such as, “I’m going to start writing fiction again”), you can’t help but get flooded with ideas related to it. This isn’t NaNo, though — I don’t have that kind of tight deadline, although I’d like to finish the first draft of this novel before I have to start a new one for NaNo.

Happy New Year

I can’t say I’m sorry to see the end of 2007 — there weren’t any major problems at home or at work, but it was a stressful year and I’m glad it’s over.

We did have a very nice New Year’s Eve, including the countdown for the kids at about 10:15, outside in the snow. We told the old year not to let the door smack it on the ass on the way out, and now we’re ready for 2008. Today we met up with some friends and took the kids sledding, which in the flatlands here is a treat. They had a blast, which was fun.

Back to the office tomorrow. I’m feeling particularly unmotivated, but I expect that will change when I get back into the thick of it.

I’m not much for resolutions, but if I were going to make resolutions, they would be exactly same as they would have been for 2007 or any of the last 7 years:

Get my 5K time down.
Learn a new language, or an old language better.
Go back to Tae Kwon Do lessons.
Spend more time with the kids.
Take the Mrs. out more often.
Learn to play the piano.
Start writing again.
Grow taller.
Learn to draw something other than stick figures.
Obtain super powers.

The problem is not that I can’t achieve any of these things, the problem is choosing a manageable number of them to work on, while maintaining a full-time job where I am essentially paid by the hour.

This year, I plan to focus on the writing, through this blog, at least one professional article, at least one short story, and NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how that goes.

On Christmas: in which I completely geek out

Day four of not going into the office. You’d think I’d be more rested.

Mrs. Unfocused and I were up until 2:45am last night, wrapping and tagging presents for the kids, and Princess was up at 7. It was all worth it, though, watching their happy faces as they opened their presents. Princess, two months shy of turning 7, opened her gifts in approximately 3.4 seconds, a new record. Junior is still young enough to want to play with his presents as he opens them, and the second package he opened was the Geotrax train set he has been lusting after for months. He liked his other presents, but the train set was really all that mattered, and you could tell that even when he was opening another present that he liked, he still wanted to go back to the train set.

I’m sure he’ll become interested in the bike in the spring.

The Mrs. even liked her gifts, which I always worry about. This year, I had her with the new L.L. Bean slippers — everything else was gravy.

As for me, in addition to several surprises, Santa (or, more precisely, Mrs. Claus) brought me exactly what I asked for: the new Blade Runner Four Disc Collector’s Edition DVD package, with the original 1982 U.S. theatrical release, the 1982 international theatrical release, the 1992 director’s cut, and the 2007 “Final Cut.” I’m in nerdboy heaven, and will be scheduling a screening soon.

I can’t have the Blade Runner screening until after we have the official first viewing for the kids of Star Wars, which we may do tomorrow. Not the new stuff – Episode Four, Star Wars 77, A New Hope, the original. At least, as close to the original as Lucas will let us get on DVD. Check out the reviews of the various DVD versions of the original Star Wars trilogy on Amazon.com to see what the complaints are all about (essentially, the remastered versions have new material added, and the “original” version available is not remastered or even from a particularly good print) and you’ll see the contrast with the new Blade Runner collector’s edition.

Princess asked me if she could watch Blade Runner. She’s a good kid, but I don’t think I’d be doing her any favors by exposing her to Philip K. Dick at this tender age, even filtered by Ridley Scott. I told her that she had to wait until she was at least 7.

I don’t mean to imply that the whole day was about presents. We had a great afternoon and evening with family, a wonderful Christmas dinner, and watched a couple of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons for the edification of the children. Very low pressure and nice. Also, did I mention the new Blade Runner set I received?

I hope your Christmas was as nice as ours, whether you celebrate it or are simply an innocent bystander, that the coming year brings peace and prosperity to you and your family and, most importantly, that you too receive the Blade Runner Four Disc Collector’s Edition.

Merry Christmas.

On Being Santa: the joys of some assembly required

I’ve done it! It’s 1:05am on Christmas Eve, and I have completely assembled the Spiderman bike that Santa Claus will bring for Junior tonight. I have achieved 50s fatherhood nirvana!