Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh yes...

The kid pictures website HAS been updated: go Here!

Isaac has been an exhausted boy - refusing to nap during the day, sleeping fitfully in the night. But he remains a charmer. His language is now starting to take off - he's doing a lot of sound imitation, and can say a few words... "Up" when he wants to be picked up, and "Ball", his favorite toy. He can repeat "Bella" too.

Bella has been playing good and hard all week, and has complained of pain in her shins - she is growing so much: I was just looking at pictures from 2 months ago - she was in that pre-grow chubby state, and now she's a beanpole.

We'll see how we all do at the State Fair Saturday between growing girl and no-sleep boy. At least I'm going to be asleep before 10 tonight. Time to catch up!

Oh, and in workout news: I think I posted that because I was such a good cheerleader, I got us two 6am workouts a few weeks back... well that is going so well they are adding a third 6am - this one is Step. So I'll have two Weights and one Step a week, 3 hours of great workouts, getting me good and awake/alive for work. The 6am really is the only time I can work out without thinking i'm abandoning the family, since they are all usually asleep until after 7 (except when Isaac gets a crazy idea at 6:30).

The screw turns...

First, let me say that I do love my current gig. It is relatively low stress, I get to work with some very nice doctors, the tools I'm implementing have a direct impact on the quality of life of patients, I get to be downtown and take walks, and I can bus occasionally. I am trusted, I have authority, but things aren't all panicky.

Into this picture a rain cloud has appeared. On Tuesday, I gained an officemate. Now, I have a pretty large office, all told, and there's more than enough room for two. But...

This is a Temp who works for the software vendor: We are paying them to move all of our old data off of the old systems into their system. In return, they're paying this temp to sit at our site and click-and-move these studies one-by-one. It's not particularly hard work, but it does take an organizational mind. They needed a place for this temp to sit, and my office had room....

Alas, this temp is a talker. No matter what I'm doing - writing emails, reading a manual, headphones on... she just starts talking. About her nieces. About her previous jobs. About her desire to move to Dubai to work in "logistics". About her frustrations about not understanding what the dress code is. About seemingly anything, all with a sort of "authoritative" tone of voice, like "I know about these things"... despite the fact that any time she treads into territory I know anything about, she is quite far off base.

This wouldn't be so bad if I had confidence in what she was doing, but as of today, she couldn't even tell me with any degree of certainty exactly how many patient studies she had actually successfully migrated in the 4 days she had worked.

In short, I am sharing a now very small feeling office with a psychopath temp who doesn't actually work for me, and may not actually be doing the job we are indirectly paying her to do. My library of noncommital grunts and shrugs is expanding by the day. I have begun to relay my concerns to the vendor, and we'll see what happens.

This is obviously karmic retribution for my illicit viewing of Spider Man, and will take this lesson (this possibly four long month lesson) to heart. I am a changed man. Really, this time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Those darn kids

Today, we pulled up to visit Dad and Karen, and he was on the back steps getting his beard and neck trimmed up. Pamela said "hey, Papa's getting a new hairstyle".

Bella called from the back seat: "Oh, is he getting more hair?"

You can't make this stuff up.

So tomorrow I finally re-enter the working world after a long week away... and tomorrow will be the first day in 9 that I don't put Isaac down for his naps, nor pick him up when he wakes... and I think in a way it'll be a very long day for that.

The last two nights I've caught up on two Marvel hero movies: Spidey 3 and Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer. The F4 movie didn't disappoint too much - it was pretty decent for what it was... and it IS a cheeze movie, for sure. Spidey 3 was a harder call: It really did feel like there was too much trying to be crammed into this movie, and in the end it really was the weakest of the lot. I wasn't sure what they were going for with Sandman... but unlike many of my peers, I actually liked the Venom stuff the best in the movie - it was good and creepy, and Topher Grace was fabulous. And I loved the Peter Parker with the bangs down and eyeliner look.

But with them both, I have to say, it's a total of 4 hours I won't get back in life, 4 hours I could have spent sleeping or something more edifying, like working on my Swedish pronunciation. But whatchagonnado?

Off to bed now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Safe and Sound

Yes we are back at home: We hightailed out of town by 10:15 in the AM, and Isaac was conked out within a few minutes of hitting the road... and stayed asleep the full two hours home. It was a wonderful contrast to the trip up. Bella rode home with Jenny and the family around 90 minutes behind us. Alas despite feeling much better in the AM, she again succumbed to the ick during the ride home and made friends with the bucket.

Prior to leaving, I had a speed breakfast of blueberry pancakes and was able to say farewell to my Russian and Belorussian friends in the dining hall. They again complimented me on my excellent pronunciation. I tell you, I'm not sure why I felt this urge to bone up on my Russian this past month, but it was such a blast to be able to use it!

Once home, we did a power-unpack, just in case we were going to get sick ourselves. Bella felt better after a few hours at home and started demanding to play with friends - which just wasn't going to work - you puke, you're quarantined in my book. She got progressively sadder until she ran upstairs and climbed into bed with Pamela (who was taking a little nap) and conked out. Pamela napped from 4-8. Bella was out at 5pm.

One of the things we do when she's "bored" is she writes a comic strip, and I draw it. Tonight it was "a lion goes outside to draw, but it's so cold he turns to ice, and his drawing and pencil blow away in the wind". This was quite the challenge to draw, and I had to resort to some thought bubbles to illustrate the point... I do love these cartoons. The ultimate panel always seems to be something blowing away: Food in wind, or flower petals from a sneeze, or art materials in a gale... Alas, as noted above, our fun didn't last.

That left Isaac and I to be buddies until his bedtime. We went to Byerly's together and shopped for good "sick food" assuming we'll all get the ick sooner or later. Bread for toast. Applesauce. Gatorade. Chicken Soup.

My take on getting sick: If the virus is going to get you, it's not going to care if you ate crackers or cantonese, so doing a mild "preventative" diet is for the birds. I had Big Bowl sesame chicken for dinner. We'll just see what happens. Once you're sick, you do need the mild stuff, though. And we have LOTS of it. Perhaps this voodoo, this being prepared will ward off the virus. That happens, you know.

Anyway, Isaac and I had a lot of wrassle time, and we played with blocks: He's very good at knocking down stacks, at chewing on the blocks, and at tossing them down (not going for distance, more interested in seismic effect). I patiently would stack them again, showing different architectural principles. He played visigoth again and again, but with such glee, I had to keep playing along.

So now it's off to bed in my own room, without my kids within 5 feet of me in the same room, without both of us waking up whenever Isaac rolls over. It will be a good night to rest, and we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Spoke too soon....

Well, poor Bella got the ick, and got pukey late afternoon, after a full day of arts and crafts, fishing off the dock, playing with Jenny, and over 2 hours of swimming. She's passed out next to me on the couch - I'm on bucket patrol, though by now there's very little coming out. Mae got it too, earlier in the afternoon, and us remaining "uninfected" are all warily clutching our stomachs, hoping we're not next. Well, Isaac's not, since he's happily oblivious.

It's just not fair - Bella's trip to Madison earlier in the summer also resulted in puke-age. She's going to build a negative association with lakes if we're not careful.

I realize in my updates I have been very Isaac focused: That's mostly because I've had to keep him in my sights so much: Bella has been off playing so much with Jenny, that I'm really only seeing her at mealtimes. Having a friend along really does make a vacation fun for a kid, and I think that even with the sickness, she and Jenny both can count this as one of the "fun" trips.

We've packed up the car and will be ready to hit the road tomorrow morning right after breakfast... assuming we're all roadworthy. We have something of a tradition of "lingering" on the last day, leaving at the last possible second. I think this time we'll try to time it with Isaac's nap and hightail it ASAP.

If you gotta puke, there's no place like your own bathroom.

Bad then good then ok.

Well, after that sun peeked through, we had a rough night where Jenny got a wicked stomach virus that had her puking all night. Bella was sleeping in the same room and never once woke up with all the ruckus. So we were steeled for whatever yesterday would bring... Would the virus take us all down one by one? None of us could recall her eating anything we all hadn't eaten as well, and a few other visitors had told us of stomach horrors in the past few days...

Which added a slightly dramatic pall over was perhaps the nicest day I've ever seen in my life on Wednesday. The sun was shining, there was a mild breeze, it was warm but not too hot, the lake was still, the birds were singing - it was a perfect day. But Bella was mopey because he best friend couldn't play. By afternoon though, Jenny was feeling well enough to play, and we all spent time at the beach. Isaac LOVES the lake, sloshing around and picking up handfuls of muck from the lakebed.

My head cold finally cleared up by afternoon, and I was a happy participant in all activities... In the evening we took a paddleboat ride, and bella showed us her fantastic skills at shuffleboard (it involves methodically pushing every single disc from one end to the next and stacking them neatly.) Into the evening, as the kids slept, Pamela and I played some "no-score" scrabble, which was too bad because I opened with the 7-letter "Blister" across the double word, which would have been around 140 points all told. But no score is no score...

Today, it's just sort of a BLAH day: Gray sky, no wind, light rain... but the girls are playing hearty - they're at the pool now and will likely be for quite a while. We are finding ourselves around 4 bottles short on Isaac's supply for the trip, and I took a trip to the local town, only to find NO soy formula of any kind. Once he goes down for a nap this afternoon, I'll be tripping to Brainerd!!!

So we got 1.5 beautiful days out of a 7 day vacation with a shrieking (but still loved) maniac, with some illness going around. Not one for the record books of wonderfulness, but oddly not the worst either. A neighbor told us: "with kids, it's not a vacation, it's a trip". So this was a pretty good family trip all told... there are still a few hours left in it (we leave Friday around 11), so we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hed Code

Today was a better day.... and a worse day.... The bad was that I have come down with a horrible head cold and feel like I have a 2 second delay forcefield around my head. Also, a nonstop runny nose, the accompanying sore nostrils, watery eyes, a hacking cough, and raging headaches. Started last night, still going strong tonight.

BUT on the plus side: The weather finally broke late this morning: We woke to no wind but a little drizzle, but we got full fledged sunshine by early afternoon. The girls went out fishing this am, swam in the outdoor pool before lunch, and played on the beach and in the lake all afternoon. Isaac was out on the beach as well - he loved the water.

Isaac woke up this morning with his volume set to 11: joyful shrieking was our soundtrack of the day, combined with the occasional complete meltdown tantrum - a new skill he's learned this week: The complete "drop to the floor" with huge tears. We're so very excited. Alas, our mealtimes are now 10 minute shifts between Pamela and myself: minding Isaac as he makes his rounds through the lodge, while the other eats... And speaking of eating:

Things he would not put into his mouth today:
Melon, banana, bread, pancake, cheerio, yogurt, chicken, pasta.

Things he did put into his mouth today:
Acorn (nut, top, both), rocks (various sizes), pine needles (short and long), leaves, sticks, lint, sand (dry), sand (wet from lake bed), lake water.

With that it's time for my sick self to be off to bed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The windy cold lake...

Alas, we continue to be cabin-bound, as we're having unseasonably cold and windy weather here at the resort. We're still having a great time, but as we look out the window at the lake mere feet from us, there are whitecaps and gray skies and a general feeling that says "stay in - have some coffee... Read!"

I only just figured out last night that the wireless internet reaches our cabin, so here's a blog post from the lake.

The food is fantastic as always, and Bella and Jenny could care less about the lake - they have the indoor pool and eachother and that's more than enough for them. Bella has moved in over to Jenny's cabin and we see her occasionally... It's actually good she's sleeping there, since Isaac is proving to be quite the handful. On the trip up, he resolutely REFUSED to nap, screaming most of the 2 1/2 hours, and dropped off to sleep literally as we pulled into the resort. He's also holding to his twice nightly bottle and cuddle routine.

He's been a shrieker at the restaurant, so Pamela and I have taken turns eating and running through the halls with him. He's up to running now, and his game is to make a beeline from the dining hall, through the halls, to the pool, where we need to scoop him up before he goes headlong in. Along the way, he may pause to make friends or harass computer users (he just can't resist grabbing screens or mashing keyboards).

Even so, he is well loved by everyone here at the resort, who all coo over him... and we do love him too.

Today (and every weekday) Bella and Jenny will be at Kid's Club, with a whole host of planned activities, so us grownups can rotate around being the Isaac minder and get some R&R in. The weather is supposed to improve around Wednesday, so until then, I guess at least Isaac's not eating handfuls of sand!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The busyness

A quick update before going offline for a week up to a resort on Gull Lake... where the relaxing will be wonderful.

After the wonderful weekend away, we got good and busy to get ready for the resort: Well, I was busy at work and play, and Pamela was the packing demon: Our car trunk was ready to go a full 48 hours before our anticipated departure!!!

Work has been good: The glow is still lasting from our successful rollout last week: Comments from the CIO on down are filled with praise and amazement that things went as well as they did (they're not used to things going smoothly here). In the "education of Jimmy" department - I spent a few hours with one of the Cardiologists, who talked me through the entire world of Nuclear Medicine, which completely blew my mind. This is where they inject you with radioactive materials, and then take a 15 minute photograph of your insides, and see what parts of your body are getting normal blood flow, and which parts are "starved". A nuc of your heart will show the whole thing glowing, except for areas that have been "infarcted" - which means the muscle is "dead".

The whole science is amazing, and while I've worked around Nuclear medicine for years, nobody has ever truly explained HOW it works... So I'm just thrilled.

In another fun moment, an "emergency meeting" was called for all staff (it was a quiet afternoon), and we reviewed a portfolio of nature photographs one of the Cardiologists had taken to pick a few to submit to a contest (his pictures have been in the Kare11 weather watcher calendar in the past!) They popped popcorn, it was fun.

It was a week of movies and bonding for me: Tuesday one of my old co-workers at the previous client asked me out to see Transformers and get caught up. It was fantastic - literally the Citizen Kane of transforming robot movies. Wednesday our Manny Justin had another premiere - this one a Coen-brothers-esque double-triple-quadruple-cross thriller. These guys are making feature length movies, fully produced, in their spare time. It absolutely amazes me. And it was a really good movie!

Last night was yet another Scotch Avengers night - a bit later than usual. The truly bizarre moment came when Chicken revealed the following: 2 months ago, Ant had brought a truly rare bottle - a 12-year Lagavulin which had a very complex character and we all loved. But it was challenging - it needed just so much water, and so much rest... it took work, but was rewarding. We all basked in the glow of "discovery" on this bottle.

Chicken revealed to us last night that he had been rooting in his cabinet and discovered that HE had actually brought us that very same bottle one year earlier, and we had all rejected it, not able to figure out how to enjoy it. He had the 2/3 full bottle as proof. But the funny thing is even HE didn't remember this until he stumbled across the bottle, tucked deep into his cabinet (since he didn't like it either!!!)

It was a fun moment to realize just what sorts of scotch nerds we had become, and how we had come in the past year... and how far we could likely yet go.

Well, this is the last update for a week probably - we're off just after lunch to our week up north. Oh yes, and Isaac's 4th tooth finally cut and he's so relieved.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

One week later

Again I remark on the fast-forward button being pressed in our lives... how can a week have gone past since the last update?

The week went very well at work: We installed the new system, trained the docs and techs, and had a pretty smooth go-live. This was just for one piece of the system, of course, and I'll be spending the next year putting in more, but this was important, AND it needed to go smoothly for us to have credibility and buy-in for subsequent phases. And we did well.

So on Friday, Pamela and I dropped the kids with Grandpa and Grandpa (as Bella calls them) and hightailed it out of town... to a bed and breakfast in Stillwater. We stayed at a beautiful Victorian mansion up atop a hill, looking down at the town and river beyond. We had early cocktails and dinner, and then settled in for a night in... whereupon Pamela passed out at 7:30... and didn't wake until 12 hours later! Oh did she need that rest.

I unfortunately had finished dinner with an espresso, and wound up awake until 1am or so. The problem was that I tried to go to bed by 11... so there were a few tossing and turning hours in there... Luckly I caught a nap the next day.

Saturday was a relaxing day of walking through town, antiquing, noshing, resting, reading, dining... We got caught in a summer shower on the way back from dinner and were happily soaked - it was so hot, and the rain was refreshing.

Pamela started and finished a book on Marie Antoinette. I got halfway through William Gibson's newest: A sci fi book set in last year (2006). It's surprisingly effective, and his imagery is just wonderful... If anything, removing the "well is THAT possible or unlikely?" reaction to technology imaginings allows me to focus more on his story and writing, which is very crisp.

I also continued my torrid affair with the Swedish language: As I may have explained over on Language Addict, I've been frustrated that I'm dabbling in so many languages but not feeling confident in any: So I've been focusing back on French, Spanish, and German. I'm also refreshing just a bit on Russian (mostly because I resent that I LOST the language after my college years - the goal is just to bring it back enough to... I don't know). So what's up with Swedish? Well, it's actually very close to English and German, and we have friends who speak it, so I thought it might be an easy "pick up"... and less than a serious week into it, I'm feeling ridiculously confident that this will be one in the belt within a few months.

But in terms of confidence: As I was walking in Stillwater, I passed an old German couple, and I understood everything I overheard. I even had right in mind a phrase to ask them if I could speak with them... but by then we had too much distance between us. I'm telling you, this multi-language way of working really is making ALL of them stick better.

I'll come back to the Asian ones in a month or two... but I really need to "own" my current languages better...

Ok - back to family: When we picked up Isaac this afternoon, we learned that Grandma had interpreted his 3am feeding time as "time to get up", so we had one TIRED little buster. He grabbed a tomato from me and started eating it like an apple... and seemed to like it. He also chomped many cheerios AND half of a go-gurt. So I think that he's starting to get into people food well enough... it'll grow. We played until 6:30 and then ZONK.

Bella played even harder this weekend: 3 hours at a pool on Saturday... And then zoning out to episodes of Scooby Doo... she was so catatonic that she completely ignored Auntie Carrie when she visited Saturday... But Bella has figured out the secret of Scooby Doo: The monsters are ALWAYS just guys in costumes. Therefore, it's not scary. She had an all-afternoon birthday party today... lots of playing and swimming... and yes, she's in bed now as well.

So it was great to get away for the weekend. We have a busy week ahead of us too! I have dates to see friends Tues-Wed-and-Thurs!!! I've got my 6am workouts Tues-Thurs. Full week of work, of course... and then Friday, it's off to VACATIONLAND with the family AND Jenny's family, for a whole week of all-meals-included family fun. Whoo HOOOO!!!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Block Par-Tay

Yesterday was rainy and cold, which didn't dampen the kid's spirits for the Block Party - AKA running around for hours with all of the other kids in the neighborhood while the parents hide in a garage. We had the moonwalk, but it was soaked. Not that it stopped the kids from taking turns in there... So all things considered, it worked out ok. The firemen came too, and the kids loved looking at the fire engine. I actually took Isaac home around 7 for bed, but Bella stayed out until 10 playing tag in the dark, and other great games.

But last night around 10:30, Isaac decided it was time to PARTY. After an unsuccessful hour trying to get him back down, I took him downstairs and let him play his heart out. And he was so thrilled - he was shrieking with glee, laughing, cuddling, and being just the happiest kid. At 1, when he finally started rubbing his eyes, he went right to sleep. These things happen.

I am a little concerned: Isaac's joyful shrieking is just bone jarring, and he's been doing it for months. We try to get him to work on more "wordy words" like "dada" "mama" etc, but when he gets excited, he just let's fly with the sonic attack. And got in himmel help us when he is in a place with good acoustics - he lets fly just to hear it come back. I do hope he moves on from this however. My nerves can't take it!

The kids slept in until 8, but were still a bit groggy. After going out to get a haircut and playing at Eden Prairie Center, Bella announced that "Whoever is going to take a nap this afternoon, I'll join them". A nap? Wow.

Tonight was another Progressive dinner night, so Bella, Jenny, and Isaac were watched while we spent 4 glorious hours of grown up time. Upon our return, Isaac was still partying, and the sitter, a VERY capable young lady, was looking frazzled. It didn't help that the dishwasher decided to go crazy and make whirring sounds while blinking its lights in a seizure-inducing manner. So I got Isaac settled in my patented daddy manner, and then played with Bella until a later bedtime (the nap always resets her clock).

I was showing her words in different languages tonight, to get her used to the idea that things have different names to different people. She thought that was a pretty neat idea. I showed her colors and animals in Russian, Swedish, Japanese, and Chinese. She wound up really liking Chinese for some reason - those words were the only ones she was repeating and remembering - perhaps because they're a bit musical? I'm going to keep experimenting with that.

I got some Swedish flash card software because I thought it would be nice for the whole family to have some words to drop with our Swedish friends Annika, Sara, and Lisa. I'm just browsing now, but it sure looks close to German in some key ways... we'll see.

And that's the weekend update.

Friday, August 03, 2007

How can it be Friday already?

Good evening. Another week has passed by with me only vaguely being aware of it! Actually, so much happened....

The biggest news which has everyone on edge is the bridge collapse. We didn't know anyone directly impacted, though two people in the family had been nearly on that stretch of road within a half hour of the event - one missed a bus, the other left work late. So something was keeping people away from the area....

In non-tragic news, we had a GREAT week at work: The new system arrived, we got it configured and workstations started to roll out: Even though we're not going live until next week, we were able to use one of the workstations to help diagnose a case (reviewing a prior study that couldn't be read by any other computer)... There's been a lot of work to do, but I get to be hands-on, and I'll be working with the docs a lot from here on out... which you know I like.

We had guests this week: Pamela's cousin Rachel and her son Justice, who is almost exactly Bella's age. The two got along pretty well all week, though they were frequently on different energy frequencies. Still, movies and legos proved the universal solvent, and great fun was had by all. And it was wonderful to see Rachel. She showed us tons of pictures of archaelogical digs she's participated in: Turns out sometimes people start building a strip mall, and the road grader finds bones, and they have to call in the emergency archaeologists, to tag and excavate the site, and move it all out, so they can keep building that strip mall. The pictures were supermegacool.

Isaac Update! He has finally turned a corner: He prefers walking now to crawling. Sometime yesterday, the scales tipped, and he decided that walking WAS more efficient, so now it's closer to 70/30 walk/crawl. And he is so proud. He'd be happy too if there wasn't a massive pollen bloom causing him to stuff up, and another tooth starting to push through (leading to crying, and massive drooling).

Workout Update! Yes, I've still been exercising, just not telling you people about it. But my tireless efforts to get people at the 6am Tuesday class have been paying off: We're regularly around 10 people, which earned us a second class: Thursday at 6am. So I will finally be able to do two classes a week in the early morning, because truth be told, with Isaac and Bella, I've had a hard time justifying taking off after work for exercise - I just want to go home and see my family.

This weekend will be another slightly busy one: We have the Block Party on Saturday (which we are only attending - we don't need to DO anything!), and a progressive dinner on Sunday. So actually, it'll be busy with eating and conversation. I think I can handle THAT!!!!

More as it happens. Oh yes, I have been updating over at Language Addict, if you want to take a peek. Do Zaftra.