Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Cautionary Wail

For those of you who may be a little cavalier in your birth control, I've posted a video of one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. Regrettably (well, Emily is the only one who seems to really regret it), I've developed an uncanny ability to filter out these noises from the hours of 10PM to 5AM.

When we talk about Summer's vocal talents to other parents, we've discovered there are two types of mothers: those who've had screamers and those who have not. Parents who haven't had screamers casually brush off Emily's concerns with lines like "it's OK, all babies are like that." On the other hand, parents who have had screamers will immediately rat out their offending child ("That was my Nick, the rest weren't so bad"). Sorry, Summer, no immunity for you either.

Note: No babies were harmed during the filming of this blog post. No comment on the parents.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

paradigm shift

i am a success junkie:

beginning academically, i maintained prized A's and high scores all through high school, college, and graduate school (uh-hem, excepting for that cursed aerobics class, forever tarnishing my record).
transferring this philosophy to employment, colleagues will attest to my continually competitive nature and attempts to "make the grade" be that through promotions, salary increases, reviews, kids reading (even if i have to force them!), or little daily things like just being right.

i also plan for months what to bring to a pot luck and make darn sure it is a dish that everyone loves. nothing screams B- to me like a half-eaten casserole.

and now, here i sit, at home. no one even cares if i get dressed in the morning.  my task-master, a six-week old baby. and i don't think she'll be handing out any pay raises in the near future.

still, i scour my life for little successes. and as acknowledgement is my heroin, i must share them with the world:

1. summer slept for her first full nap--over 2 hours--without being held! (from here on out, i can see myself confusing my successes with my children's; the line is becoming fuzzy...)

2. my sophomore effort at candy making was far more successful than my debut; bryan has officially been uninvited.  

3. i went almost three months without purchasing clothes for myself--you know how hard that is for me. today, i ended my record on (what else?) a sweet pair of jeans.
if that's not an A+ day, i don't know what is. 

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Patterns and practices

Most of my early memories derive from what I would call experience archetypes. Many of my experiences conform so closely to these archetypes that I cannot distinctly remember them. Consider the following:

Hiking Trip Archetype
1. Get up early
2. Start hiking when it's dark and cold
3. Come home when you're reached all of your objectives (it's never too dark and cold to turn around)
Ski Trip Archetype
1. Get up early
2. Start skiing when it's barely light and very cold
3. Come home when it's dark (it never gets too cold)

Fishing Trip Archetype
1. Get up early
2. Start fishing when it's barely light and very cold
3. Go home when it gets too dark (it never gets too cold)

Astute readers will notice that even these archetypes share common features. With this in mind, consider my fishing trip last weekend.

1. Leave my house shortly after 4AM to meet my dad and his workplace colleague in Concrete, WA.
2. Meet the guide while it's still dark
3. Learn exotic, double handed fly fishing technique (see Spey casting) while the sun is rising
4. See more bald eagles in 10 minutes than I've seen my entire life
5. Stand waste deep in frigid water the rest of the day
Strangely, it's much more fun than it sounds. We didn't catch many fish (my dad caught a single dolly varden, pictured above), but that's OK because catching fish isn't part of the "Fishing Trip Archetype" and thus not critical for enjoyment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

if wishes were fishes

upon a review of the most lauded and up-to-date literature revolving around newborns, we have discovered there are a few things that, as a baby, summer is supposed to love. among these: car seats/rides, swaddling, and white noise. but instead, she hates them with all her little baby might.

#1: car seats
this one is actually rather problematic and presently constitutes most of her hate. we don't go a lot of places, but when we do, it's such the ordeal. i have never heard summer scream in quite the way she does when she decides she is done with a car ride. so poo-poo on all those recommendations to take your child for a ride in the car to calm them down. unless it's opposite day.

#2: swaddling
very early on in her life, summer decided that she was bigger than her baby body. in fact, most of the time, we think she feels grossly inhibited and frustrated by her own corporeal immaturity. she put up with the swaddling for a little while; then she got bigger, stronger, and louder. the catch-22 with her swaddle-hate is that she, as with most babies, has a hard time sleeping with her arms free (if they are free, they are moving). we are still experimenting with effective solutions.

#3: white noise
instead, she prefers the musical stylings of everyone from beyonce to counting crows to martina mcbride to creedence clearwater. nothing settles little summer down quite like rocking out. just the other night, we had on our usual white noise cd--which was markedly ineffective in calming her--then put in some more hard core tunes, and she was out like a light. my secret weapon is putting her in the baby bjorn, turning up the music, and practicing some moves of my own. dance, mommy, dance! if i stop before she is ready, the peril be upon me.
on the upside, she loves the tub.

Me + Tree = Storm

Long time readers may recall our difficulties in obtaining a Christmas tree last year. We forged a path along treacherous roads deep into a US national forest only to turn around, no tree in hand, due to unseasonably inclement weather.

Emily assured me that without a suitable offroad vehicle (more on that in a later post), and more importantly, with a 4 week old baby on board, we would not be plying any forest service roads in pursuit of the perfect tree.

Fortunately, local tree ranchers have long recognized the desire of families to cut down their own Christmas trees with little or no physical risk. Furthermore, said families prefer to cut down their trees within spitting distance of an espresso van. We happily found just such an enterprise at the Carnation U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm.

As luck would have it, bad weather hampered our festivities this year as well. Summer stayed in the car with Granny Wendy while Emily and I braved the snow storm to obtain this lovely Douglas fir (a third the price of its more pretentious cousin, the noble fir).

And since no blog post is complete without a picture of the babe, here she is, ready for a blizzardy car ride.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

bushy tailed

baby summer's feats for week three:

--she holds her head up and turns it from side to side while on her belly
--she tries to drink her bath water
--she holds her own pacifier in
--she likes to eat sitting up
--she continues to show forth more of the "Young" half of her genetic code
--she went to a whole three hours of church (truly, an achievement for anyone)
this is a photo of what she looks like at three in the morning...bummer for me.
(ps: thanks to lisa for the adorable ensemble!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A fuller spectrum of Bryan

I've been sitting on a significant piece of news in order to not steal Summer's thunder. In an effort to cram two years worth of stressful life events into a single week, I left Microsoft on Oct. 31 (4 business days before Summer was born). On November 1st, I became an man.

Astute readers will note that this move is not as drastic as it sounds. MSNBC is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal. This means I get a lot of the Microsoft plusses (resources) without a lot of the minuses (corporate bureaucracy). In fact, my new office is still on Microsoft campus, a mere 300 yards from my old one.

More fundamentally, this shift represents another step along the path I started back in grad school. In essence, I've been travelling along the ideas-technology-business spectrum. Let me explain:
  1. Grad School -- This was all about pursuing ideas for their own sake. Although we were solving real problems, it didn't matter if the horizon for widespread application was many years off.

  2. Microsoft -- I was on a platform team. Only developers directly interacted with my "product." It was all about the technology. Technical contributors were more or less insulated from business considerations.

  3. MSNBC -- With Microsoft as a parent, you can bet we have a strong technology bent. Nevertheless, projects without strong business justification don't see the light of day.

My expectations have not been disappointed. On Friday, we held a kickoff meeting for the first big project I'll be working on. I expected to discuss features and schedules. Instead, we spent the time debating the practical value of the project.

I think I'm going to like it here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the last sunny day

summer is now a week old. to celebrate, we went for her first walk--which she happily slept through.

also in need of celebration: mama fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans! quite the accomplishment, as those of you who know me well know how tight i wear them...

and one further item of interest: whilst starting out as very much her father's daughter (see previous post), summer is beginning to look more and more like her mom everyday. still, some of her facial expressions are all dad.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

trailing clouds of glory

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
     Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar:
     Not in entire forgetfulness,
     And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
     From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

--William Wordsworth
Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, excerpt

announcing summer elyse

i knew we had an advanced baby:

coming into our lives two weeks early, we got to meet our little girl on tuesday, november 6th at 9:55 pm. i would like to be able to say with harry chapin that she "came to the world in the usual way," but there were a few not so "usual" factors pertaining to her birth.
the beginning

the tale begins but two weeks ago at my 37th week check up. i was dilated to 4 cm (not entirely unusal) and my pelvic station was +1 (less frequent, but still nothing noteworthy). my doctor sent me home and told me i could go into labor at any time. of course, after consulting the vast knowledge base that is the internet, i learned that such a situation occurs frequently, and more often than not, the babies are not born early and the women just walk around for weeks at 4 cm.

i had not experienced any contractions and felt really great. i went about my business for the ensuing week, but i did have my mom change her plane ticket and come a week early, and i couldn't shake this strange feeling that i was going to wake up in the middle of the night and find the baby at the foot of my bed.

the labor

still having had no contractions that i was aware of, i went to my 38th week check up. there i learned that yes, i was dilated now to 8 cm; pelvic station +2.  Eight cm, people!, all unbeknownst to me. so abnormal is this situation that a long line of nurses came in to look at me to see what a walking, talking woman at 8 cm and technically in transition looked like. i still felt great.

thinking it a bit irresponsible to have me wandering around like that, the doctor broke my water and 5 hours, 25 minutes later, summer arrived.

while i acknowledge that i cheated labor (i only had about 10 contractions--granted, they were the 90 second, overlapping, physically demanding type, but still there were only a handful), i grossly underestimated pushing. more than half of my labor experience was spent in this stage.

now, i'm not going to romanticize my emotional state here: i screamed for an epidural, i demanded a c-section, i yelled obscenities at everyone in the room (you can ask bryan or my mom about a special moment and some choice words i had for my doctor). but finally, in a sensation i cannot describe, my baby was born.

speaking of screaming for drugs, bryan and i had decided a while back that this was going to be an unmedicated birth, and i am very pleased that we were able to reach our goal (though i will not gloss over my aforementioned moments of weakness). however, we did not previously realize how unusual natural births were in this area. it must have something to do with the demographic, but less than 5% of births at the hospital i delivered are drug free. again, a long line of nurses entered my room both during and after the birth to view my experience, calling me "the natural." ladies, if you are considering one way or the other, i would totally recommend au naturale. recovery has been great and the birth itself was phenomenal.

the baby

of course, summer is beautiful. she looks so much like her father, and her face is incredibly expressive. she was born with a good amount of hair (a curse from my genes that has finally been lifted), my nose, and perfect lips. she is awake and alert more than we thought she would be, hates having her diaper changed, and breastfeeds like a champ. what we ever did to deserve such a pure gift we will surely never know.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

To the Pumpkin Smashers

To the hoodlums who visited my house last night:

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right

I'm slightly indignant that you did such a poor job of smashing my pumpkin. From the crime scene, it would appear that you were barely strong enough to carry the pumpkin off my door step and may have even accidentally dropped it. When it came time to destroy it, you were unable to raise the pumpkin sufficently high to cause a proper smashing. Next time, bear in mind the following:
  1. Patience is a virtue: you must wait for pumpkins to rot; once you've waited long enough the job of smashing will become trivial

  2. Real glory requires taking real risks: don't brag to your friends about smashing the pumpkins at the one house on the block with the light off and owners out for the evening. Try smashing all the pumpkins on the street where the police officer lives.

Something to look forward to
The pumpkins will be heavily booby trapped after 9PM on Halloween next year. Please stop by for a visit.



PS -- To all those parents wondering how to explain pumpkin smashing to small, terrified children, consider making up a mythical creature that only smashes the most fantastic pumpkins in the neighborhood. Next year they'll await the pumpkin smashsers with glee generally reserved for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

game over

we never doubted the intellectual aptitude of our readership: already, we have a winner for our name game. we thought about continuing to post clues and press forward with the contest, but our attention spans are pretty short, as we imagine most others are also.

the winner will be informed and congratulated here shortly. maybe even sooner than previously anticipated (one can only dream).

on a somewhat different note, we carved that beautiful squatty pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. bryan so loves his job as guts-cleaner-outer. can't you tell?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tale of Two Women

Many moons ago, I promised Emily that I would never fill this blog with political rantings. Nevertheless, two of my experiences this last week were political in nature and merit mention here.

For most Seattleites, the pleasure of seeing Senator Clinton in person last week cost $2000. For Microsoft employees willing to walk 10 minutes across campus, the privilege was free. Regardless of what you think about politics (and I expect the readership to be evenly divided), Hillary is an impressive presidential candidate. As wiser men than me have said, "the 50 states are hers to lose."

On the opposite side of the political spectrum (in scope, that is), Vicki Edwards knocked on my door this afternoon. Vicki is running for city council position in our town of 6000 people. Although Emily and I already had visitors over, I invited her in for a chat. Since a buddy of mine is running her campaign, I was already familiar with her stance on a variety of issues. I did, however, express my concern about the lack of sidewalks in our supposedly pedestrian scale community. My concern was duly noted and we parted ways amicably.

Photo Credits:
Clinton -- Jeff Maurone
Edwards -- King County

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the name game

after months and months of spreadsheets, algorithms, baby books, and a few heated discussions, bryan and i have finally decided on a baby name. although according to many of my high school, college and early marriage journal entries, i had already chosen names for all my children, it turns out that such whimsies become obsolete when dealing with an actual person who will have to live with the consequences of this decision for the rest of their lives.

early on, we came up with the perfect trifecta of conditions our baby’s nombre would have to meet: easy to spell and say, not too common, and (of course) liked by the both of us. it only took us the ensuing eight months to reach our verdict. and yet, for some reason, i can still here regis in the back of my mind asking, “is that your final answer?”

we have chosen not to reveal said name until little baby’s debut, but instead, as competition runs deep in both our hearts, to encourage our adoring public (yeah susanne!) to vie for a chance to win one of three amazing prizes by being the first to guess the moniker we have selected.

here are the rules:

  1. anyone we know can play (sorry random guy from flickr)

  2. each individual may submit up to one guess per week

  3. submissions may be made via our blog comments section or can be emailed directly to either bryan or myself (though we encourage using the blog so that all players can see the names that have already been guessed)

  4. the winner will be announced shortly after we bring the little one home (middle of november-ish)

  5. in the event that this name eludes all who participate, we will hold a random drawing to distribute the prize

here are the prizes:

most importantly, respect as the winner AND (bonus!) a choice of one of the following gift certificates--a few of our favorite things:

  1. cold stone

  2. itunes

  3. netflix

here are the clues:

  1. begins with the letter “s”

  2. 6-8 letters

  3. one baby book had this to say about it: “sweet but not silly, and can sound sophisticated when required”

  4. no real nicknames can be derived

  5. (additional clues will be posted every week)

this is a great way to utilize those 2.5 hours a day the average american worker spends schluffing off at work.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

alice in pumpkinland

Seeking to repent of my role in the Candy Massacre of 2007 (see previous post), I was more than happy to spend the last sunny day until next summer with Emily at a local pumpkin festival. Although most children did not attend in utero, our child was still able to convince Emily to buy something we really didn't need (a giant pumpkin sugar cookie for $2.25). I was reminded of my father's sentiment that "festival" is just a fancy way of saying "a place to buy things."

After getting lost in the corn maze and relying on Emily to guide us to safety, I decided to make myself useful by trekking deep into the pumpkin patch and retrieving the largest pumpkin I could find. Soon thereafter, I discovered that my plan was a little rash for someone who spends most of his waking hours in front of a computer. I did, however, find a nice, squatty pumpkin that was more manageable.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

taffy pull

it is a relatively recent aspiration of mine to make candy. i purchased a book. i read it. and then i was ready to be (and, as is my nature, fully expected to be) the next willy wonka.

unfortunately, i decided to turn my virgin confectioner pursuits into a family affair, and for fhe this week, bryan and i made taffy. or at least that was the goal.

yet it soon became obvious to me from his ensuing sabotage that it was bryan's alternative goal to dash my candy making dreams to pieces. realistically, though, i can only blame myself for thinking it a good idea to put him in charge of the thermometer (uh, isn't he an engineer?)

due to his ever-watchful eye and precision (please read with oozing sarcasm), the candy mixture was overcooked--for those of you unfamiliar with the art of candy, this is a very, very bad thing. not knowing what else to do, we decided to press forward with the "taffy." i was able to salvage some of the concoction to make hard candies (hopes of actual taffy had long ago been abandoned). and who knows what bryan was doing; please note the difference between our end results. again, i can only blame this on myself, as i should have been supervising him more closely.

to make taffy, one must pull the glassy mixture until it changes color and becomes opaque, roll it into a rope, and then cut it into pieces. bryan just fiddled around with the goo until it hardened and moved on to another piece. thus ruining most of the batch.

he is ever preparing me for motherhood.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Occam's razor

Conference weekend

Next time going to church for an hour seems like a drag, consider this: twice yearly, faithful Mormons around the world spend 10 hours over the course of a single weekend watching live satellite broadcasts in an event called "General Conference." I highly recommend the proceedings to interested readers, and I'm always ready to discuss, but that's not the reason you're still reading.

Despite our increasing numbers (13+ million) and an increasing number of high profile members (ever heard of Mitt Romney or Harry Reid?), Mormons remain a bit of a mystery to the populace at large. I recall an anecdote recounted to me by the son of a BYU anthropology professor. The professor, who we'll refer to as JP, frequently worked with other anthropologists who were trying to unravel a bit of the Mormon mystery.

One particular colleague of JP had a theory that speakers at General Conference used special vocal techniques to lull listeners into a catatonic state. In this state, the helpless individuals would be more susceptible to moral persuasion. Ever the scientist, JP invited his colleague to experience a couple of sessions of General Conference firsthand. Needless to say, after awaking from a rather normal nap midway through one of the sessions, he promptly discarded the theory.

On a more personal note, I did rather well this go around in terms of not dozing off. Not something to brag about, but I did want to establish a solid baseline of my behaviour before I can start blaming my napping propensities on late night interruptions from the baby.

Photo credit: cuibel

Sunday, September 23, 2007

schmatt is back

with a few weeks to kill before he enters the mtc, little matto returned to our humble abode (see last year's post) for two weeks of wild and crazy fun. what he got instead was a tour of duty at the wheeler slave labor camp: assembling baby furniture, taking out garbage, preparing dinner, cleaning, and completing other various and sundry tasks as we saw fit.

here he is being forced to blow up his own air mattress, which would deflate by morning and need to be reinflated every evening (eventually, as we noticed his respiratory abilities faltering, we purchased an automatic inflator, and we did find the leak--albeit two days before he left).

but matt's a good sport, and we did manage to squeeze in some fun (not too much, though, or he would come to expect such things). now he has moved on to alabama, and there is a hole left in our little family. who will eat all the cookies? who will put together the jigsaw puzzle? who will enter all my recipes into an access database? who will play scrabble with me? who will paint the nursery? the answer to none of those questions is bryan (except maybe the one about the cookies), so we are presently looking for a new "tenant." if interested, please submit qualifications.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

vulcanology thwarted

st. helens 013 - Copy
If Emily looks a little forlorn, it's because she is. After driving 200 miles and risking death (more on that later), her reward is profound fog. Ordinarily, visitors would have to pay $8 to approach this guard rail and view the infamous Mount St. Helens. Given the circumstances, we thought it reasonable to have Emily reconnoiter before we ponied up the cash.
On a clear day, the view would of looked more like this (credit to this random guy on Flickr).
On a road trip, I know that getting there is half the fun. And trust me, it was. I was able to convince Emily to snap a photo when the fog on the drive was thin. Moments before, when visibility was about 10 feet, a minivan full of tourists decided it would be safer to perform a u-turn with zero visibility on a treacherous mountain road rather than keep forging ahead towards a legitimate pull off. After coming to a stop a couple of feet from the driver side door of the minivan, I played a few notes on the international instrument of driving good will. I think he got the point.
st. helens 008

Sunday, September 09, 2007

well spent

Since I've had a long blogging hiatus, and since Emily isn't around to stop me, I'll indulge myself and pontificate a bit:

Observation #1 -- There's never a good time to ride
One of the things that excited me most about finishing grad school was the prospect of a better work/life balance. Several months and zero bike rides after starting Microsoft, I decided to blame myself. Regardless of the true source of the problem, it freed me to do something about it. I've ridden more times in the last 6 months than in the previous 5 years.

Observation #2 -- My brain is weaker than my legs
Quite a confession for someone who has been praised for his intellectual abilities and mocked for his athletic gimpyness. On Labor Day, some work buddies and I went on an monster bike ride on the outskirts on Rainier National Park. Eighteen miles and 5000 vertical feet later, I was spent. The only problem was that the car was still 3 miles away.

Ordinarily, I'd crawl to the end, blaming my unatheletic body for my dismal finish. Instead, I shifted into a harder gear and kept on grinding. Surprisingly, it worked (I wasn't riding wheelies when we reached the truck, but I wasn't an hour behind, either). Ever the closet scientist, I performed the same experiment yesterday and had even better results. Conclusion? My brain is actually weaker than my legs.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

she's lump

while we were in utah for vacation, my mom and grandma threw me my first baby shower (hooray for baby showers!). and because i do not subscribe to the new-fangled "let's just chat" shower philosophy, we played the dreaded baby shower games (hooray for playing games!). my personal favorite was the how-big-is-your-belly string game; at the time, i was just shy of 28 weeks.

here is cousin lindsie. fairly accurate--only a few centimeters off, actually. what excellent spatial reasoning.

contrast with sister-in-law cindy who has apparently confused me for some kind of pregnant walrus. ah, cindy, we love you. thanks for helping me to realize how truly lucky i am.

this is what you're missing, ladies, when you don't play the games.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

can't stop the clock

a truth with which both jack bauer and i are intimately acquainted.

24. significant, really, only in its closeness to 25. and what have i done with myself in those 18 years since learning to ride a bike? 13 years since losing my last baby tooth? 8 years from getting my first job? and nearly 4 years from changing my name?

well, not what i would have thought. for starters, i would have had more children by now. less job experience. fewer unfinished graduate degrees in areas that no longer interest me. a house somewhere in texas. and a husband who is satisfied working as a company man from 9-5.

but it is what it is, and i yam what i yam. i have given up trying to imagine my life on the cusp of 30; there is simply no way to predict.

for this year's festivities (to celebrate both how far and how not-really-that-far i have come), bryan took me to a mariner's game. unfortunately, i forgot my sunscreen, so the first hour and a half of the game were spent trying to hide my delicate, snow white skin from the devilish rays of the sun. but eventually, the sun was blocked by the stadium, i got a giant licorice rope, kicked off my shoes, and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the evening (both watching the sport and spying on people, as i so like to do).

¡feliz cumpleaƱos!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ain't What It Used To Be

If you're a new college grad with dreams of home ownership, read no further to avoid being disillusioned.

For me, it started 6 years ago. I recall reading an article describing a young, professional couple making well over six figures and living in a homeless shelter in Silicon Valley. The piece didn't exactly rock my world, but it clearly made some kind of impression given that I typically can't remember what I had for lunch on any given day.

To the American psyche, six figures was supposed to be the gateway income to the good life. Once you earned six figures, all hope of sticking it to the man was gone because you were the man. It signified a life replete with 4 car garages, golf club memberships, and ski vacations.

A mere three years ago, two friends of ours took up good paying jobs in California. Their combined income was certainly greater than $100k. Imagine my dismay upon discovering they lived in grandma's basement.

By the Numbers

So what does a six figure salary mean? I'm going to make some gross simplifications, but with $100K in annual income, you could easily take out a mortgage for $350k. In lovely Houston, TX, you could buy this 4000 sq ft behemoth with a thousand bucks to spare.

Let's forget about NYC & LA for a moment and look at what we can get in the sleepy suburb which happens to be home to Microsoft:

I'm not exactly sure what this is, but 1000 sq ft of it will be yours for a mere $2400 a month + taxes for the next 30 years. Tempting, no?

Of course, the average salary for a newly minted software engineer in Redmond is $62,814. On this salary, you could afford a house on the order of $225k. Coldwell Banker reports no homes for sell in this price range. Forty-five minutes to the east in our lovely town of Duvall, still no listings. That's right, Duvall is suburb of a suburb and still offers no respite.

What's the problem here? Maybe it's the 6 figure median income in Remond ($101,247 by some estimates). Maybe it's our country's 5 year real estate binge. But whatever 6 figures means, it certainly ain't what it used to be.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sparks fly

Though most of humanity has been aware of its presence and power for thousands of years, this Independence Day, Emily discovered fire.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

sugar and spice

as one can clearly see from exhibit a, in which our baby is widely spreading her legs and showing the whole world how she has no penis, it's a girl. (ultrasound pictures are a strange view, but for this one, imagine she is sitting on a piece of glass and you are looking up at her from beneath.)

not only is this baby a girl, but she is definitely her mother's daughter. yesterday at our appointment, as the doctor went to place the fetal doppler and listen to the heartbeat, she vehemently kicked it off. bryan could just hear her saying, "don't touch me!" (shout out to matt and ken who have experienced this abuse in real life.)

the other two photos are profile views. in the third picture, she is arching her back, and you can get a great view of the spine. she has beautiful bone structure (just look at that nose!), a great heart, perfect organs, ten fingers (we have one photo of her flashing us some sort of womb 'what up' signal), ten toes, and a highly functional brain which bryan can fill with all sorts of intellectualism and, of course, lies.

thus far in our adventures with her, she has been very energetic, outgoing, curious, and stubborn. so, mom, it looks as if sweet justice is coming my way.

and do i dare say we are thrilled, or will that sound too cliche? oh well, let's throw caution to the wind here: we are thrilled!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

and deeper

After years of disarray, the Wheeler Family Reunion emerged from the ashes this year promising a once in a lifetime opportunity. I boarded a cruise ship in Copenhagen with 25 of my closest (genetically) relatives for a 10 day tour of the Baltic Sea. For lack of a better word, the experience was intense.


1. How many times a day did you eat?
I stuck to 4-5, though my cousins averaged 7-8. Before you laud my self control, bear in mind that Emily promised dire consequences if I came back any heavier (see my belly in photo 1 versus 2).

2. What facet of the American justice system did the cruise ship most resemble?I'm going to have to go with those minimum security prisons for white collar criminals. The food was good, but it wasn't great. The cabins were good, but not great. It all adds up to take quite a toll. I can see why that Enron guy decided to have a heart attack rather than go to prison.

3. What was Emily's favorite part of the cruise?
Clever... a trick question! Due to the progressive and forward-thinking nature of American public schools, Emily wasn't actually able to go on the cruise with me. I know many couples these days like to take separate vacations, but I really don't see what all the fuss is about. Additionally, I've incurred a sufficient amount of emotional debt to make sure I never make the same mistake twice.

I've resisted the urge to post a travelog. Interested parties can check out my photo galleries on Flickr or Facebook soon (blogging is like a soap opera, you always need a hook to keep them coming back).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

in memory

last week, grandpa homer died. he was 87. (above is grandma lucile at the funeral. i didn't know whether or not it was appropriate to post pictures of the casket--closed, mind you--so gradma lucile will have to do.)

knowing little of his early life, i can assure you that his later life was very abundant. grandpa loved to go to the DI, watch movies at movie theaters (even though he slept through most of them), spend the day at lagoon, catch the weather report, make soup (i use the term "soup" very loosely here), play scrabble (above all else), and, for some odd reason, eat at arctic circle. sometimes i thought he was their only patron.

matt and i played a token game of scrabble on the day of his funeral. and due to unknown powers, matto was able to beat me by five points. who knew that ford was the new-fangled spelling of fjord? kids these days: anglicizing everything. despite the loss, it was refreshing to play the game again. bryan refuses to play with me--says i get too mean and competitive (me??), and since we haven't a neutral third party to either support or deny his claim, we have stopped playing.

grandpa homer would be displeased.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


i just found this archived picture of bryan and i eating some one and a half years ago. it appears we have not been able to come up with more creative poses since then. (see previous post; look familiar?)