Friday, October 31, 2008


Good EVENING! Perhaps you are wondering - how can he be blogging at 8pm on this most spooky of nights? Simple - I have a two year old.

Despite talking all week about how on halloween he was going to be a "Gunk" (two year old for "Skunk"), when the rubber hit the road, the man chickened out. No costume no way. I tried. Pamela tried. Teachers tried. The Dali Lama tried, as he passed through town. Barack tried. That costume was not going on.

Perhaps as a consolation prize, his teacher did some face painting today. He had a carrot across his forehead. For the evening, we had him in a coat, and pinned a large sign to the back of the coat for all to read:

"I refused to wear my costume because I am two years old".

He got all candy crazy on two starburst and a reeses peanut butter cup, and instead of trick or treating, he stood in the yard spinning and yelling for about a half hour. I took this to be a subtle cue that me may be ready for an early bedtime. As my costume was somewhat slight (Cat ears, a tail, and a collar - bought from the "Cute Lady" part of the costume shop and put to far more pedestrian use), compared to Pamela's get up (Metro Witch, full costume and makeup), I took the duty of chilling the boy out.

I brushed his teeth and washed him up, and we played with toy airplanes for 15 minutes, did a little wrassling, and finally got into pajamas for stories and songs. He dropped of pretty soon thereafter. It was just what he needed - some quiet one on one time with dad.

Bella on the other hand, gleefully wore her rat costume at school, at home, and out trick or treating. She ran with the neighborhood kid pack (actually one of the packs - there were no fewer than three running factions this time), did two candy drop-offs and one swap-out for a pillowcase instead of a bucket.

Bella and Pamela are now at the neighborhood party, and will be until probably a bit too late. I'm turning in early myself: I've got my two-day Les Mills BodyAttack training this weekend, which will involve about 14 hours of running and jumping across two days. I'll need my rest.

Oh - work. No big news this week. Another visit to Seattle, finally got over my cold around Tuesday, after having a nice dinner with Caesar Monday in which I coughed about a pound of phlegm. But the table we were at was perfect for this - my seat actually abutted a little passageway (might have been an old entry to the restrooms that they placed a table in front of), so I was able to literally duck my head into a DIFFERENT ROOM for each cough. Didn't see Paul S since he was just on the UPWARD tick of this cold - hopefully he's well by now.

Next week, it's one night in Philly. The following week, San Fran, then Seattle again! Did I mention I made Platinum on Northwest/Delta? Yes. I'm that guy.

My next posting will be with limbs made of jelly. Wish me well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

sniff sniff

Well this is just great: At the end of a whirlwind week with a full schedule awaiting me tonight through the weekend, and I might just have a full blown cold. I'm amping up the fluids, teas, and vitamins, I got a good night's sleep, and will snooze on the plane today, but I have doubts about how effective I might be as a fitness instructor tonight. I'm less worried about having my scotch buddies over: I can happily abstain and enjoy their company as we watch a crazy movie (Speed Racer). Unless the Ant brings some legendary dram, as he did last time (that Glenmorangie 25 was the stuff of fairy tales).

Denver has been good: I visited the grandparents for a bit: Grandma is well, Grandpa is looking ashen - he has bronchitis again and his back is hurting... and his memory is flickering a bit: He asked the same question to me twice, but I did see him correct himself on a few other things - you can see him trying. Grandma said that he's been asking for key background info at times - "Did you come from Bismark?" was one question asked in the middle of the night. Grandma is weathering it well, but I can't imagine how hard it would be to watch Pamela slip away like that.

On to the REASON I was in Denver: Our big "rebranding meeting" - my company will no longer be what it was. And since this blog is googleable, I won't go into the new or old names here. The new name is predictable, but the new LOGO is way better than I expected - it's very compelling. New to the organization (and brought in by the acquisition of our company, where the personal touch was paramount) was the concept of bringing all your people together for big announcements: Previously this sort of thing would have been an email. Ted, the CEO, said that the past 3 weeks with these town hall meetings were the most rewarding he's had in the last 3 years with the company, which was pretty nice to hear - if we at 80 people have influence the culture of a thousand person firm to that extent, that's amazing.

On a purely personal note, it is nice to be standing in a reception and have the CEO holler out my name as he walks in the room. To have identity like that in a big company is not bad at all.

This AM, I was chagrined to have not remembered the lesson I learned back in July at this hotel: They have the worst breakfast on the planet: Omelets made to order, but they cook the eggs completely, then toss the "add ins" in (cold) and fold it over like an egg taco. I watched them make my waffle, and he picked it out of the iron with his FINGERS. The tray of bacon on the buffet was at best medium-rare, and I never got a warm up on my coffee... yes, this will not be a breakfast I repeat.

Well it's time to pack up and head back to the airport. I have two fresh "killer sudokus" to do on the flight home: Killer is were you not only have to not repeat numbers in a 3x3 box, row, or column, but you also need to make the numbers ADD UP to sums all over the board. Whereas I can usually chew through a half dozen sudokus on a usual flight, a Killer will last the whole flight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Portland Effect

So this is the crazy travel week - 24 hours in Portland, home to put the kids to bed, then followed by 24 hours in Denver. I had a couple of good events yesterday.

I introduced one client to the wonders of the Voodoo donut. She enjoyed the "Voodoo Doll", which is person shaped, jelly filled, chocolate dipped, and pierced with a pretzel stick. She "let" me enjoy the Bacon Maple, which was amazing as always. In the spirit of options, I had also got a custard filled (with little eyes drawn on the top) and the Old Dirty Bastard (Raised with chocolate dip, oreo crumbs, and peanut butter), which we gave to some geeks on her team. No I did not revisit the VooDoo this morning. One donut per visit is enough.

In the evening, we did a team building dinner - my six people have had a pretty rough couple of weeks, with 2 of them NOT GOING HOME for over 3 weeks. So I treated the gang to a steak dinner and drinks to thank them for their work. But there was no carousing afterward - everyone just wanted to go home and crash.

This trip, I've been catching up on the Alan Partridge BBC shows: Steve Coogan was simply brilliant in this series following a washed up BBC presenter adjusting to life as a radio announcer in Norwich. Combined with Heroes (Episode Six, another BARN BURNER), I have good media mojo happening right now.

Poor Pamela has bad Stair Mojo happening: She slid down our stairs at home yesterday and banged up her bum and elbow: Thankfully nothing broke, and her back didn't give up the ghost... but I'm demanding that she wear workboots with strong vibram soles and strong ankle support whenever she attempts to navigate any vertical passage (see a few weeks back, the Isaac Lip Incident for other Stair Mojo issues).

Besides, I need her at full fighting strength: We're rearranging the basement for better feng shui, and everything is turvy topsy. We need both of us to whip it into shape down there by the weekend!

Something about Oregon encourages beards: I've seen quite a few big bushy chin afros around here. Interesting. That's it for now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Le Weekend

Bella got better just in time for school to be out for an MEA conference, but she was laid LOW by that illness, the poor dear. Everyone else in the house seems to have avoided it (knock wood!). She got a lot of good playing in over those two days, however.

Isaac had some extra synapses connect during the week: He's definitely in a "dramatic tantrum" phase, but is extra cuddly too. As you know he loves phones, and will use just about anything as a "phone" - from a diaper to a sock - and have a conversation with you by phone. Tonight Pamela had her legs stretched out on the kitchen booth bench, and he walked up, put his head up to her foot, and said "Hewwo? Oh hi!" We almost fell over.

Isaac has been bottle-free since Labor Day weekend, but only just this week could we say his appetite has taken off: He's eating pretty well now, if not with any particular discipline. He messed around all during dinner, but immediately before bed snarfed an apple and 6 spoonfuls of peanut butter. Whatever it takes.

This morning Isaac and Bella went to swimming class: I swim with Isaac, and Grandma watches Bella. As I jumped into the water, I dunked my head under and turned around just in time to see Isaac take a running jump right into the water: That kid is FEARLESS. His teacher said he's never had a set of kids who were as comfortable in the water as this group.

We're rearranging the basement: the feng shui was all wrong, with the couch against the cold wall, and the view of the TV conflicting with the view of the stairs. So everything's getting moved. We've clocked some serious time down there this week. Tonight I was assembling more of those ancient Crate and Barrel shelves.

Today Pamela and I took a CPR class at the Red Cross: I had to for my fitness instruction work, and Pamela thought it sounded like a good idea in general. It was great fun to be in the class together - we got to be partners for exercises and everything.

Another Time Out instructor was there, so we were chatting about the studio a bit. On the subject, Friday was a double whammy silly day: I went to the 6am to co-teach, only to find that nobody had a key to the place! So we and all the students had to leave. And I was going to teach at 5:15, with a camcorder in place so that I could finish my certification for BodyPump, but there wound up being a big issue with the machine, so I didn't tape... though I did teach. We'll have to try again later.

The 6am crowd is full of regulars who need (in general) very little coaching - they're pretty serious and experienced. Friday afternoon is a very very different crowd - a lot worse form, less attention span, and more brand new people. It is a fun challenge to bring those people along with the teaching.

Next week will be a strange travel week - Two trips, two nights away: Portland Tues-Wed, and Denver Thurs-Fri. I'll try to see the grandparents again when I'm in Denver, of course.

Two media things: First, I invite you all to experience Tarvu: This is a religion created by the "Look Around You" geniuses Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz. Secondly, I must say that Season Three of Heroes is like electricity applied directly to the pleasure centers of my brain: Every episode has rocked so hard that reality itself seems suspect. The direction they're going right now is simply amazing: through choice, cowardice, or inertia, the heroes are slowly becoming villains, and some villains are showing signs of becoming heroic. Truly amazing television happening here.

And that's the news for the moment...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick Ones

Bella IS sick: She spent Monday and Tuesday in bed with a fever and some puking, but somehow managed to perk up when I came home from San Fran tonight... so we played some go fish, colored, read stories, and cuddled, while Pamela got some much needed time... Isaac was also a bit of a wreck tonight and passed out pretty early so we're hoping there's not any sickness headed that direction.

San Fran was wonderful and productive this time - no grand adventures to Muir Woods alas, but good connections with clients current and future, and some consultant bonding too.

Two quotes from Bella for you:
1) Jenny wasn't at swimming with Bella on Saturday, and Grandma wondered if perhaps she was sick, so she asked Bella "Was Jenny on the bus with you yesterday?"

"Why do you ask?" was her response.

2) At Bella's birthday party, where was a short food fight (clearly started by the older boys). On Monday, Pamela asked "Who started the food fight at your party?"

Her response: "I don't know: I wasn't involved."

These are very grown up responses from my little girl.

Well, I'm home now until next Tuesday - hopefully the house will not get any sicker, but if something does happen, I'll be here to help.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A big weekend

For me, the weekend started on Friday, with me teaching another "double shift" at the club - 6am and 5pm. I'm tantalizingly close to being a solo teacher - by the end of next weekend I may have everything I need. But it wiped me out but GOOD - a double workout for sure! In the evening, we made some beef stew for the weekend, which filled the house with incredible smells. Sort of the opposite of cooking eggs.

Saturday started with swimming for the kids, and Isaac continues to do very well: He's an amazing backfloater, no stress about having his ears under water, and I only need to place a single finger at the base of his skull to have him floating. Bella is also a superstar swimmer - she's with girls a year older than she, and is holding her own with LOTS of full lane length swimming.

Immediately after swimming, we welcomed Grandma and Grandpa, and Carrie and (fiancee) Scott for a little combined birthday for the kids. The stew flavors had come together, and we had a fun couple of hours. Grandma got Bella a foam stomp rocket set and spent the afternoon strafing the family (with the kid's help, but I note that she held the aim).

A short break, and then it was Bella's birthday party with her friends: 10 kids, with a horse theme: The table was covered with oats, carrots, and apples. The chandelier had carrots hanging from it, and in what may be a first for birthday parties everywhere, the kids had a one-upmanship thing going on with WHO COULD EAT MORE CARROTS. We had an obstacle course set up in the front yard with hay bales and corn stalks.

By the end of the party, the kids had discovered that the corn stalks had actual ears of corn in them, and shucked them all, de-kerneled all of the cobs into a pot, and stacked all of the stalks into a "bonfire" in the middle of the yard, with our solar-powered yard lights all uprooted and piled in the middle as "fire". They took the hay bales and formed a ring around the "fire", and told stories. This was all done with absolutely NO intervention from any adults - they made this all happen. It was amazing to watch kids at work.

In the night, Bella was tossing and turning with concern for her loose tooth. I told her "Tell your body that if you feel something loose in your mouth, DON'T SWALLOW IT - WAKE UP". And sure enough, around 2 am, she called me in to her room: She had woken up with a tooth in her mouth! So now she's got a cute little gap in her bottom teeth...

Today was much lower energy: Isaac and Bella helped me with some errands in the morning and we got Burritos. Then during Isaac's naptime, Bella played with friends and I mowed. Bella was pretty fragile all day - she was quick to cry, and prone to inactivity. Perhaps it's because of all of the activity, but I also think she had not been sleeping well with worry over that tooth for several days.

In the afternoon, we had one more birthday party - Bella's birthfamily had us over for sandwiches and snacks and presents. Poor Bella actually lay on their couch the entire time, barely moving, with half closed eyes. Even the present opening failed to elicit much activity. She was flat out dead on her feet (or tush, as the case may be). I felt kind of bad for the family - she wasn't really "there"... but they were understanding. Isaac made up for her by being extra-active, along with his cousins Macy and Clayton.

Today's Isaac amazingness: As he opened presents, he said "Oh my GOSH!" He also ate a frightening amount of pickles.

So now we're home - Bella went right upstairs and passed out. Isaac has finally stopped thrashing around too - these kids need to catch up on their sleep!!! Mom and Dad could probably use a break too. The tooth fairy has been left a note asking politely if Bella could possibly keep her tooth for her collection: I suspect the tooth fairy will respect her request: Pamela still has a box with all of her baby teeth too, so we know the fairy can be flexible where girls who like to collect nature are concerned.

Tomorrow, I'm off to San Fran for a single day - meeting with a new client with room to grow, so it'll be worth it. My boss is a Ritz Carlton "superdude" and secured us a suite downtown SF for $200, so we'll be living MUCH larger than our budget would indicate!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Birthday Girl

Bella turned 6 officially yesterday. She reluctantly tumbled out of bed to find some presents waiting: a new set of silky pajamas (with Owls!), a set of dried bird eggs, some polished rocks, a hunk of petrified wood, a 1" diameter copper ball... you know, typical things kids love (!?!?). But you know Bella - she loved every bit of it.

She came home with a backpack FILLED with drawings that her friends in class had made for her... Which struck me as wonderfully creative of her teacher. She's a lucky gal.

We had a sitter for Isaac, and we went off to Chuck E Cheese - Bella's request. We had so-so food, and burned through 200 tokens (winning a pretty decent 900 tickets in the process. And no, dad didn't really help with that - she had this rain-man like way with the "pure chance" ticket games and won scads of tickets). Bella got a whole bag full of prizes - she's the kind of gal who will not even LOOK at the 500-1000-5000 ticket "big prizes" up on the shelf: She was happy with 4 10-ticket plastic frogs, 2 100-ticket clay sets, a 100-ticket troll head pencil, and the like.

We got home in time for Pamela to run off to watch the Debate with friends, and for me to put two wound up kids to sleep. Isaac is going through some big brain development right now and isn't sleeping very well: thrashing about late, and up at 5am. It's a phase and I'm sure once those lego bricks in his brain lock in with the new skills, he'll be back "in phase" with our universe again.

In Jimmy News: I attended Bodypump this AM as a civilian - just participating for the first time in a week. I loaded up the weight and really felt it by the end. OOoof. Just got confirmation on my second set of training - BodyAttack which is a no-step aerobics training: Coming up in under 4 weeks (must work on my cardio! 2 full days of running around!). Plus I have CPR training in 2 weeks! So people better be healthy around here, dang nabbit.

Had a big full-day meeting with my "real job" to plan out the next quarter and some vision for next year: There's going to be a lot of travel in the coming weeks unfortunately. I'm actually doing WORK out in Tacoma, plus trying to get a prospecting trip up to New Hampshire... I'll be Platinum Elite before the end of October, actually. When you're elite, they actually give you pity miles when you DON'T get upgraded to first class. And you're allowed to fly the plane once a quarter. One of those two perks is real, actually. But in good news, we're looking to add a support staff under me, who will do a lot more of the "onsite" work for me. We just need to get it through the budget.

And that's the news for now...

Monday, October 06, 2008


We brought Isaac to the dentist today to have those teeth checked out: Turns out that while he did knock a couple of them up a bit into the gums, they don't appear to be chipped or cracked, nor have they impacted the "adult teeth buds" above. The dentist thinks they'll make their way back down on their own in the months to come, and everything should be fine.

His lip is almost completely healed as well, with just a little line noticeable. So while 9 days ago, I was staring in horror at a bloody mess, today you might have to tell me to look for where the problem was! Amazing healing power. Perhaps a superpower?

We had a great family weekend, and this evening I even got to have dinner out with Pamela. Without the kids. All grown up like. It was wonderful! We need to do that a lot more...

Bella turns 6 tomorrow morning. between Kindergarten and this birthday, it has me feeling like she's growing up too fast. But the loose tooth is definitely affecting me the most. That's big kid stuff. Speaking of big kid stuff: Bella asked that we take her to Chuckie Cheese for her big event. She's looking forward to the Skee Ball, the basketball hoops, and the strange machines that spin around and spit out tickets. At age 6, it's all about the tickets.

Media Alert: Still loving Heroes: Episode 4 tonight was another nail biter. Ooooh those supers.

Off to bed. I've been up since 4:45 - taught class this AM, taught last night at 5pm as well, so I got a LOT of work in. I'm planning my trips for the month - somehow I need to hit San Fran, Portland, Denver, Philly, and Seattle, and none of the trips are lining up right for multi-stop: They're 5 different trips. Sigh.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

All about Bella

After a long stretch of Isaac Posts, I'm pleased to offer a set of stories about the amazing Bella.

Bella had made it very very clear that she wanted a Razor Scooter, and BAD. So for her birthday, we got her one, and decided to let her open it early, for more fun on the weekend. She was zooming through the house on that thing all evening. We had Paul and Melissa (the lovely couple whose wedding I officiated) come by for wine and a chat, and they got the full Bella show. Isaac decided he liked Paul pretty well too, and was climbing all over him.

Ant and Chicken soon came and added to the gang (an Avengers evening was planned, with the viewing of Iron Man on the ticket), and we all mingled for an hour. As I put Isaac to bed, Bella got more and more excited about showing off her scooter: She created a "speed circuit" from the living room to the dining room, around the table, and back. She had us all shouting the count for her (between 8-10 was the usual), and would pick a language for us to count in - Between Paul, Ant, Chicken, and I, we were able to cover quite a few of them. By 9, the newlyweds were home, Pamela was putting Bella to sleep, and the Avengers were in the basement enjoying some absurdly delicious drams, including a very rare Glenmorangie 25, a Port Ellen 24, and a bewildering Highland Park 12 Sherry Cask. And of course Iron Man was insanely good.

This morning instead of going to swimming, Bella insisted that we participate in the TC Marathon Family Mile run: We road rallied out to the State Capitol with some neighbors, and had a wonderful morning in the crisp fall sunlight. As to the RUN - it was more of a 1/8 mile run, and a 7/8 mile stroll, but Bella was very excited to be doing it. She got a shirt, a number, and a medal at the end, which she proudly wore all day.

We got lunch at Cosetta - delicious Mostaccoli and Pizza: Bella worked up quite the appetite and devoured a half order of the mos, and a full slice of pizza. We actually got there at 10 minutes to 11, and opened the place up: By the time we left, the line was snaking out the door as usual: So we really played that one right.

Big Girl: She woke up today with a LOOSE TOOTH. Bottom middle, back and forth. She spent all day wiggling it, but around 8pm suddenly was filled with worry about the tooth, which she had decided was "her favorite tooth":
- Will the new tooth that comes in be just as nice looking?
- What if she loses or swallows it - how will the tooth fairy know?
- How can she possibly brush her teeth with that loose tooth?
- She can only eat SOFT FOOD now... until all her teeth are big.

I have done my best to assure her that tooth fairies are very clever and are quite willing to offer up rewards based on lost teeth, regardless of whether the tooth is in hand or not. And also that food WILL need to get eaten, and teeth WILL need to be brushed.

Sunday looks like a quiet day... so we'll just see how THAT pans out... ;->

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Like a ROCK

Isaac got his stitches out today: Now I remember getting stitches out as a kid (I had a quite a few), and I don't remember it being particularly pleasant. But Isaac was a champion:

I held him snug, he held a lollipop, and simply sat there looking patiently at the doctor as she pulled the stitches out: No screaming or crying. At one point, he asked us to sing "ABCs" to him, which we did... And when it was all done, he popped the lollipop in his mouth and marched out of the room.

During his nap, the rest of the scab fell off his lip, and he now looks 90% normal, with some little lines in there, and we still need to see the dentist about those teeth.

We celebrated tonight with Pei Wei, which we all devoured eagerly, along with a dessert of those "Humongous HoneyCrisp Apples" which are maybe the best tasting apple ever ever ever created.

Off to bed - I have to teach tomorrow AM!