Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What in the &$%# was I thinking?

There is a funny phrase that we've been kicking around at work, to put a nice bow around the reaction of some more distant colleagues to some of the new initiatives that our office has been trying to implement... No good deed goes unpunished. That same phrase nicely encapsulates the last few days of our vacation in Williamsburg, visiting my father and his wonderful wife. As the prospect of spending 5 days or so in a new environment, sans most of our familiar toys, games, child-proofing, gates on stairs, etc., I began to realize we'd need a game plan. What could we do to help pass the time? Bring the bikes! Done. Bring the Wii! Oh yeah, done. Toys, books, enough other assorted crap to make us have to borrow DnB's roof-top carrier in order to cart it all down here? Done.

So, what else? I know! I heard a story on NPR the other day where the afternoon anchor invited a cookbook author into her home for a personal tutorial on how to make a gingerbread house. It sounded like so much fun! And what a cool way to spend some quality time with the kids working with great tasting treats!!! So, it was a plan. I picked up a bunch of decorating things at Target the day after Christmas and we hit the Super Wal-Mart down here for all of the other ingredients. Then, away we went.

Dude, I don't know how these "bakers" do it. I mixed up three batches of gingerbread batter (one double batch, then realizing that my plan was way more ambitious I did a third) and let it sit overnight in the fridge. I’m such a homemaker!


Check out my ambitious plan made out of cardboard...

Next day I did the baking, cutting out each piece using my cardboard pieces as templates. Took me a while to figure out how to transfer the rolled and cut pieces to the cookie sheet. I finally figured out to put the rolling sheet on top of one cookie sheet, then put the other one on top and flip them over. I’m such a smarty. Pretty sure people who do this all the time could have figured that out prior to totally wrecking one of their pieces. Ok, not such a smarty.

Anywho... I got ‘em all baked, which took FOREVER and the assembly started the next night. Let me tell you, all these how-to and tutorial sites… they are in need of some serious revision. They all need a sign on them saying NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART or maybe FATHERS, WHO HAVE ONLY A CURSORY KNOWLEDGE OF BAKING, SHOULD NOT EVEN THINK OF TRYING THIS. Yeah, that about covers it. Why do I say this? Because aside from using some sort of construction adhesive or 2x4’s and wood screws putting these dang pieces together ain’t easy. I had to play with the icing glue for a LONG time to figure out how to get the right consistency to hold these things together. But, I did it! I did the four walls last night, and put the roof on this morning after making a fantastic breakfast.


So, hopefully after nap the kids will finally be able to jump in and decorate. Only four days later...

Yup, nice easy project to do with the kids. *shaking head*

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

The presents have been torn through, the stockings are empty and rehung, Red is snuggling in her bed for nap and Pudge is refusing to sleep, and the NBA is on. Who can ask for more?

Some pics from our fun morning...

My little future doctor with her new kit.

Red surveying the loot. Too bad Santa didn't buy her some pants.

The three amigos. Wifey got JAM some footie PJs!!!!

Me showing off my favorite new shirt. Thanks Wifey!

Being a good Daddy, modeling some of Red's new play jewelery. Aren't I pretty?

Just a cute pic of nearly nekkid Red.

The aftermath.

More loot.

I didn't realize they were calling for a hurricane!

From our crazy family to yours, we hope you have the merriest of days.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

If it weren't so funny

If this weren't so funny, I think I would cry. Check out these border patrol agents showing why our modern immigration policy isn't quite up to snuff...

Seriously... how many people can you fit in a minivan?

A tribute...

To all those "Stay at Home"s out there, you have my utmost respect and admiration.

For some reason, wifey and I seem to be surrounded by a huge contingent of families where one of the adults stays at home while the other works. And I'm proud to say that it is not always the women who are staying home - you rock Drew!

So, to all those who keep our worlds running smoothly and try their hardest to make sure there will be at least as many kids in the house (and breathing) when we get home as when we left, this is for you...

Just thank God it isn't us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Special Time

Today was a day full of special things. First, something for Wifey. I cleaned the upstairs bathrooms. Yup, little ol' me. And it wasn't even her birthday.

Then, JAM and I took some time out to go to our little independent local one-screen theater to catch a noon showing of The Polar Express. We love this movie. We love the book even more but they did a really good job on this movie. I will say that there wasn't really any reason to put in the scary moments (it's a story about belief and trust and caring, not an adventure story) and I think they overdid the roller-coaster sequences (3 or 4 of them in a 90-minute movie), but all in all it was a very sweet movie for kids.

Our favorite part, by far....
Sorry, best clip I could find, sound is pretty weak

Then, after Red got up from her nap, she and I took a little walk down to a friend's house so Red could visit with her 3-year-old daughter and I could say hello to their brand-spanking-new baby boy. I can't believe how little they can get. Seeing as how Pudge was my last experience, and dude came out as big as a third-grader (not quite, but 10lbs is pretty hefty) this little guy was a shock. :) Red and I had a great time walking to and from, practicing our leaf stomping and then having a go at a new playground in our neighborhood. It was wicked cold out though, and getting dark, so we cut that short. She was a trooper and walked the whole way although right before we got to our friend's house and then again right after we left the playground she started telling me she wanted to go to sleep. Her way of letting me know she wanted me to pick her up. Yeah, Daddy wasn't playing that so girlfriend got to prove to me that she could make it. And she did. I ain't raising no wusses. :)

So, #1 and #2 got some special Daddy time and Wifey didn't have to get all up-close and personal with the porcelain. Good day all around I would say. Poor Pudge, he was left out of most of that. Gotta go roll around on the floor with him now. He's our snuggler and he loves a good tickle.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Launch and custom icons

A computer trick I picked up today... from your friendly neighborhood wanna-be tech geek. PC only though so all you Mac weirdos can just go hug a tree or something. :)

Do you use your quick launch tool bar? It is located down next to your Start button and allows you one-click access to some of the programs you likely use frequently, as well as a handy Show Desktop button that minimizes all open windows to get you back to your desktop. Did you know you can create a shortcut to any program or even any file you access frequently? Talk about a time saver! All you need to do is right click on any program icon in your Start menu or any file icon and choose "Create Shortcut." Then, once that shortcut has been created you can drag it down to your Quick Launch toolbar and let it go.

Here is a picture of my quick launch:

Notice how I’ve got an icon for Microsoft Word and a few other programs down there? Really quick and easy access.

But wait! There’s more! Do you see the unfamiliar little buttons in my picture, the ones that don’t look like normal Windows icons? There is one that says Voc, another with a G and a third with an 09. In the past I’ve made shortcuts to files of a similar type, 2 Excel files for instance. It was pretty hard to remember which was which and I was always opening up the wrong one. Although there were loads of pages dedicated to turning on and off your Quick Launch toolbar I couldn't find any that tied that in with making your own little icons for different files. So, I did some quick searching and learning this morning and found out how to create my own custom icons. After doing some reading I was able to create an icon saying 09 for a shortcut to an Excel file with 2009 data in it (not to be confused with the one I used to have with 2008 data).

As I said, one issue was when I had two different quick launch icons that were the same. Another problem I’ve run into was sometimes you can create a shortcut to something but the icon Windows gives you doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to create a shortcut to a network drive we have at work (the G Drive) and the icon for it looked like this: . I had no clue what that icon was supposed to be. So, I made the one that says G and applied it to the shortcut and now I will be able to remember what the heck that button does!

So, how the heck did I do all this?

It is really pretty "simple," just follow these steps...
  1. Open a image editing program. I use Fireworks but Photoshop for you fancy people or even Microsoft Paint that comes with every PC in the world will work fine too.
  2. Create a new image that is 32x32 pixels. Make it look however you want but keep in mind that because it is so small you won't be able to do much with it.
  3. Save that image as a .jpg file to your My Documents, Desktop or somewhere else you will be able to find it.
  4. Go to
  5. Download their free InfranView software and install it.

    I am not verifying the safety of this program. Their download came from cnet's which I've found to be pretty respectable in the past but the choice is yours to trust them or not.

  6. Open the newly installed InfranView.
  7. Go to File >Open and locate the .jpg you saved in step 3.
  8. Go to File > Save As... and save it to the same easy to find location with the same name as your original (makes it easier to keep track of). Make sure that when you save your new file in InfranView you choose the .ico file type at the bottom of the dialog box:

  9. You are done with InfranView for the time being so close it out.
  10. Find the icon on your quick launch toolbar that you intend to manipulate. Right click on that icon and choose Properties.
  11. Click on the Change Icon button:

  12. Click on the Browse button and find the location where you saved your new .ico file.

  13. Select your new .ico file and select open, then OK, then OK one more time and your new icon should be attached to your shortcut. If it isn't, you screwed up so don't blame the instructions. :)

I hope this works for you, it's been a nice little tool for me.

Thanks to for pointing me in the right direction.

Happy Friday!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Tis the season

So you may be wondering where the heck all these posts are coming from, all at once. Well, a while ago our desktop crapped out on us and then the laptop Dawn was using started going goofy too. This woman is death to computers. With all that in mind, she's been kidnapping my laptop every night so I haven't been able to post in a while.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled post...

Christmas season around the 'chez which means waiting until way late to get the tree up. We finally did the deed last weekend and the kids had a blast with it.


Yeah, I love my goofy kids. How about some pics?
and if you see some abnormally large amount of white space between this text and the pictures I blame blogger because I've gone over the code like a hundred times and nothing is wrong... grrrrrrr.

Pudge gettin close and personal with some fake tree branches and lights
Red putting up her first ornament
JAM and Red ornamentizing the tree
Pudge getting involved
Wifey lookin' good
Pudge and his abnormally large Dad
A blurry but nice pic of the whole fam
Red hamming it up
Goofy face
Little brother loves his big brother
The three amigos
Another of the three

Okay, last one
Did you ever see that Steve Martin movie where his little son puts a bucket on his head and runs into the walls? That's our Pudge.
JAM can't be left out!

Happy holidays to everyone from all of us!

To Facebook or not to Facebook

Wifey and a lot of other friends have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon. I... have not. I have my reasons, both public and private ones. My friends all tell me that using Facebook is a great way to connect - with new friends as well as old ones. My usual comment is that if I wanted to get in touch with someone I would, Facebook or no. That is a safe answer. It is easy to say, understand, and get away with. I end up looking like a grump but that is a small price to pay to cover up the truth.

Back in March I posted about an instance where an old high school acquaintance contacted me and how much it scared me because I still carry a lot of baggage from that time in my life. I am still not at all comfortable with the idea of reconnecting with people that knew me when I was less than the person I wish I would have been. It's really tough for me to know how to work through that.

So, what's the reason for the timing of all this? Wifey showed me a page on Facebook that has dozens of people who graduated with me from HS back in 93. As I looked at the names and faces of kids I went to school with I couldn't help but feel all those same feelings again. Man, I've got a lot of work to do. Proven by recent events within my own family, getting over old impressions is about as tough as can be, even when you desperately want to move past them. How would it be dealing with people who have no personal interest in moving past old impressions? I know I still have all those thoughts and feelings about certain people. If I'm feeling this way, with all that I wish about moving on, I can only imagine how people would act who have no such feelings.

Maybe someday.... lot of work to do first.

A very Muppet Christmas

One of my favorite memories from growing up was our Christmas tradition of listening to John Denver and the Muppets when we were setting up the tree and on Christmas morning. So, it's been great fun indoctrinating teaching my kids all about these wonderful songs. It really is a lot of fun, I highly recommend it.

So, imagine my joy when I was surfing the other day and came upon an ad on telling us about their new Muppet's Christmas special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. I was so excited!!! And, I was really looking forward to sharing this with JAM after the two young ones were safely tucked into bed.

Then, we turned it on.

Big song and dance number up first, following a cameo by NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

So, what was the topic of said song and dance number that we were all waiting for???? The Post Office. Yup, Jesse L. Martin singing about how we should all be thankful for the mail carriers who bring our letters to Santa. It's going to be a long hour.

Oh, and Wifey didn't mind one bit that Mr. Law and Order himself showed up. *sigh*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Piss and vinegar is more like it

Sugar and spice? Are you flippin' kidding me? This little girl is a true gift. The only problem is... I haven't figured out whether she was sent from above or below.

Tonight was a doozy! Wifey took off after dinner, about 630ish, to go to PTA. Big Red was not at all pleased that Mommy was headed out the door so Daddy dipped into the 'ol bag of tricks and totally bribed her with a Halloween candy when we went upstairs for bath. All was well as Pudge got into the tubby and Red munched her peanut MnM's. Things were even very nice as the two started playing with the Rescue Heroes and these plastic tubey things we have in there that the kids use to make trumpets and pour water on themselves with. The night went downhill quick from there let me tell you. Pour Pudge was minding his own business trying for all his life to suck the paint off the foot of one of the Rescue Heroes when Red accidentally bumped him on the forehead, which, by the way, he had just slammed into the hearth. So, I tell Red to please be careful and watch out for her little brother. What does she immediately do? Knock him in the same spot again.


So, I thought it was important to get her to realize what she had done and get her to at least acknowledge it with an "I'm sorry." Ohhhhhh. Bad idea that. This little peach decided to go mute. I really hate it when she does that. Looks you right in the eye and pretends she doesn't know how to speak. Daddy doesn't do well with that. I know it. I'm a reasonable adult who knows he shouldn't let a two-year-old get his goat. Yeah right. She kills me with this every time. And I fell for it again. I'm a dummy. I didn't let it go. I thought it was worth it to make her at least say the words. It escalated. She started to cry. She lost story. She cried harder but refused to acknowledge her brother. She lost snuggles. She cried harder. She was threatened with immediate bed time. I picked her up out of the tub and gave her one last chance to just please-for-the-love-of-all-that's-holy say "I'm sorry!!!!" No dice.

One thing Wifey and I promised never to be (hard to say never but we've probably stuck to this about 98%) those parents who say one thing then give in to the crying and whining. We try to never say something we aren't prepared to follow through on and we've learned to always be very measured in our "threats." So when I got to the point of "bed or else" I knew that I might potentially have to follow through.

She was in bed at 7:02. What's normal bedtime? 8ish. Life was not good. I asked JAM to hang out with Pudge as I got her dressed and into bed and he was a champ. He was having a great time playing with Pudge when I got back into the bathroom so I asked him if he wanted to take a stroll down memory lane and jump in to play. So as the two boys played in the tub we were serenaded by the lovely musical stylings of Red screaming from her bed in the next room. Oh it was lovely.

After Pudge was done with tub, and JAM was taking his own shower, I relented a little bit and got Red back out of bed for a story. It was a good thing too, she told me she had to use the bathroom. We then moved back into normal territory and read a story and did our almost normal bedtime routine and felt so much better by the time the lights went off.

Yeah, I caved. A bit. Guess there isn't really an "always" or even a right way to do all of this but we can only do our best right?

Only 16 more years right?

*shaking head*