Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's giving time again

Back in February I made our first loan via the Kiva web site to a group of women in Mali who were buying cloth to resell in local markets. The group has steadily been repaying the loan and I've almost been reimbursed the full $25 initial loan. With only a few dollars remaining on that original loan still owed to me I thought it would be a good time to start another loan. The idea would be to start a new loan when the previous wasn't quite done and eventually I'd have enough left over from each of the previous loans to be able to cover a second loan independently. That's the idea anyway.

Here's the group I've decided to loan to - the Las Mercedes Group. I chose a group with a shorter repayment schedule to speed up the process a little bit to hopefully get that second loan in play sooner.

Adding to the map from my first donation -
Country donated to: Mali, Paraguay

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bedtime Routines

*Warning - this is a long post that will likely be of no interest to anyone else but it serves as a permanent reminder to this aged father who doesn't ever want to forget certain things about his babies.*

I'm sure almost every parent has their own version of this, but I wanted to post about my various bedtime routines with the 3 amigos before I got too old and/or senile to remember. It all started with JAM of course, and I've got to admit that I can only recall our routine as it started when he was about 4 or so. I've blocked out anything before that. If you knew JAM at the time you'll understand. :) Our routine was a fun combination of some things heavily influenced by his favorite movie at the time - Finding Nemo - and just general silliness that he and I seem to share a good dose of.

It went/goes like this... First we do the stuff influenced by our favorite character in Nemo... Dude Crush, and his little turtle son, Squirt. If you've never seen it, it starts with "Gimme some fin" which is a soft high five, then a "noggin" in which we bonk foreheads (this took some training as 4-year-old JAM had a tendency to be a little over zealous with this), and then we point at each other with both hands, roll our heads and say a good hippie-like "duuuuuuuuuude!"


After that we did a high five, then medium five, then a low five which I always pulled my hand away and did the "too slow" thing. Then maybe another. Then maybe another six or seven until I let him get me and we said a final good night and I left the room. It was fun, and to be honest, I had a lot of trouble remembering the whole thing tonight as I started writing this. I even had to ask JAM about it, trying to make sure I had it right. The sad thing? He didn't really remember either. He's getting old! :(

WOW! I never thought I'd be sad about that!

I'll skip my little red-headed terror right now as she was really the impetus for this post and I want to talk about her last. So on to my "little" Pudge. He's still little so we haven't gotten too into silly routines or anything yet, but there is one thing we do while Wifey is putting Red to bed and I'm rocking in the glider with him. Back when I was solely responsible for putting Red to bed, while Wifey was still feeding Pudge at night, I used to sing a silly little song with her trying to do something repetitious and soothing to get her to understand this was the go-to-bed song. It was really simple - "Daddy and "Red" do rock-rock" over and over again, softer and softer each time. Don't really know where it came from but it stuck and we did it every night.

Now along comes Pudge, and I find myself back in the saddle with him so to speak, and the song has made a resurgence. With a little silliness thrown in of course. I'll start by doing the sing-song "Daddy and "Pudge" do rock-rock" while gliding back and forth. He's got his head on my left shoulder (always the left with his right thumb in his mouth - don't try to switch shoulders or you'll be SORRY!!!) and we'll do a few of these, then I'll throw in a "Daddy and "Pudge" do bounce-bounce" with a little bounce, then maybe a "Daddy and "Pudge" do wiggle-wiggle" with - you guessed it, a little wiggle. I do it because it makes him do his little-boy giggle, and he does it while his thumb is still in his mouth so it comes out stifled and even cuter. I love this kid right at this age - he's as cute as can be and it is horrible to say but unlike JAM (who was a terror in all facets of his day - most of the time) and Red (who has been a drama queen and a throw-a-switch-hysteric her whole short life), I don't want Pudge to change at all.

Do other parents admit to stuff like that? Did I just break some kind of unwritten rule or anything? I hope I don't lose my membership card for that.

Alright, so now on to my little Red. She's getting bigger, and smarter, each day. Our routine has always been the same since she transitioned into the lower bunk with JAM. I'll snuggle with her in her bed, she gives me three kisses (which I always count - 1... 2... then some random number from 4-99, anything but 3), then I give her my I love you kisses... I kiss her once and say "I", then a second time and say "love", then a third time and I'll say something other than "you." I do this a few times, always changing up the word choice. It usually starts with "cheeseburgers," but I'll throw in anything that comes to mind from the day or the book we've just read. Giraffes have made an appearance, and tricycles and airplanes and kumquats and rutabagas and lamp posts and ice cream... you get the idea. And after each one she'll usually laugh and say "NO!!!!! - That's not right!" until after three or four other things I'll finally promise to try really hard the next time and say "YOU!" and give her a horribly gross, wet kiss on the cheek. She'll giggle some more and I'll give her one last hug then climb out of bed. It doesn't end there though.

In almost Major League Baseball-like fashion she's invented this fun handshake-type thing that we'll do. First, we do a thumb bash with an explosion thrown in (way too hard to explain, just go with it), then a "I love you" in sign language bash with an explosion, then a regular old bash (think terrorist fist-bump from Obama fame) with an explosion, and finally what she calls a twisty bash which is where you wrap your index and middle fingers around each other and bump them together.

Wow, that took a long time to type for something that takes all of about 4.7 seconds to accomplish.

I've wanted to write this down for a while, so I never forget these silly, but very important to me, things. But, the real reason I thought to get this down tonight was I was reminded of a subtle but significant difference in our routine that happened for the second time tonight. As I mentioned, Red usually responds to my silly I love ____'s with a giggle and a "NO!" or "That's not right!" They've sometimes been so loud and giggly that Wifey has complained from the other room where she's trying to put Pudge down. But tonight? My little girl is getting smarter and smarter by the day. Rather than her simple "That's not right"'s, she came out with the much more thoughtful - "That's true, but it's not the right word." That's a big difference isn't it? I'm sure some helpful child development-type person that I know will slog through this ridiculously long ramble and let me know there is a name for this or she's moved into some different stage of thinking or something intelligent like that. But for me? I just thought it was another example of my little girl growing up and I didn't want to let it slide without mentioning it.

My hands hurt after typing all of this, but now I'll never forget. And that is the point of this blog anyway.

Oh, and the kicker? After all this feel-good growing up type stuff where Red is the star? A little "incident" tonight that I just had to capture for all time. We were walking down to a couple of friends of JAM's houses to hand deliver some birthday invites when I asked Wifey to go up into one of the buildings to deliver one in particular. I'd never met the family and for some reason my anti-socialness was kicking in. So I stayed outside with Red and Pudge. Oh what a BAD idea!!!! Red did not like it one bit that Mommy was going up into the building without her. And she had no qualms about letting the entire neighborhood in on her feelings.

Yes, I captured the moment with my fancy new camera phone...

I'm sure the other people going into the building and in the parking lot thought I was a nutter for letting her scream like that while videoing, but we've learned there is just no consoling her in those times and really - who wouldn't want ammunition like this for later in life?

I love these kids. Really, I do!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I think the gods are aligned against me

Don't get me wrong. I've got no illusions I'm on par with Odysseus or anything, but something happened tonight that just makes you think there might be someone out there sending me a message...

We'll start by calling attention to the weather for the last few days. Well, you know what? Let's extend that a bit and take a look at all of July...

Did you catch that? Specifically, did you catch the fact that for the ENTIRE month of July there was a combined total of 0.0 in. of rain? After a very rainy May and early June we've gotten a whole lot of nothing around here lately. Don't get me wrong, it's been great pool weather without the nastiness that we usually deal with in the DC area - only five 90 degree days in July so far - but the lawn has been none too happy with the situation. I hate paying to water the lawn too. If only I was a little more like Pammy and killed every green thing I touched things would be far easier. hehehe

Tonight though? HA! Like I said, the gods are aligning against me. Had to take JAM to Target tonight to pick up birthday invitations for the impending festivities and in a show of love (second in two days mind you - I fixed us up with a date night last night - yes, we busted in on D&B's date and movie to see Harry Potter but it was a night out without the kids nonetheless!!!) I decided I'd grab all three amigos and head out to give Wifey some alone time. After totally sticking to the list (which never happens! may have been something to do with just having dropped $500+ on new brakes and other stuff for the car) I decided I needed to sweeten the deal for the kids and planned to take them to Rita's for some ice cream-like substances.

Wouldn't you know it though... what do the gods throw our way on this night of all nights????

That's right! It poured! There was no way I was going to stand in that to buy the kids some Rita's and then have to get back in the car and have them get that stuff all over the place. So we sat for a while waiting for the rain to let up. And how would you spend time stuck in a car, in the rain, with three wacko kids? Break out the camera phone of course!

All of us...

JAM being a goof and buckling himself into Pudge's car seat...

I don't think Pudge quite knew what to think about his big brother bogarting his seat.

Red got some time behind the wheel.

In the end, the rain never let up so we bailed. I called home to make sure we still had some ice cream bars in the freezer and the kids were absolutely amazing with the switch. I think they all realized that they didn't want to stand in the rain either. Look at these three... I'm so proud.

We did have a good time hanging out together in the car. I don't care what you say - these are good kids. Oh, wait. Maybe it's what I say. Either way, thems are some good babies. I wonder what the gods were thinking when they sent the torrential rains. I guess I wasn't meant to buy them ice cream tonight. I mean, if it didn't rain I would never have gotten these cool pics with my three amigos would I?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are you watching too?

Ever hear people about talk those shows labeled The Best Show You're Not Watching? I googled that phrase and came up with other shows given that label at one time or another - Mad Men (which I've never seen), Chuck (seriously? Best Show???), Arrested Development (funny as hell when I did watch), and the Sopranos (was there a time when people weren't watching the Sopranos?). Well, I think I've got another, and it's really f'ing good...

I never watch it on TV, but I do catch up online while I eat my lunch sometimes. What a great invention - this internets thing. Do yourself a favor - catch up and make sure it stays on. It was a little campy at first but I'm really digging it (just finished episode 6) and I'll be pissed if it goes the way of Firefly. The best part is Ian McShane of course. I loved him on Deadwood (why the hell did those b'tards cancel that one????) and I am so glad he's back with equally impressive writing.

Seriously - go watch...


Thursday, July 16, 2009

My public spoke....

...and I listened. Yup, all three of you said the same thing. No white on black. You racists!

So here's a new layout. I'm not exactly gaga over this one either. I want to stretch the main post area out wider but when you do that the little images that make the corners of everything rounded get all messed up. It will take some doing to figure out how to fix that. I'm wondering if there is one particular computer geek out there who might want to take a look at the code and see if he can figure it out.... hmmmm... not that I've got anyone particular in mind, mind you.

And, did you see that "interesting" comment left on my last post? I'm totally leaving it up there. I don't get enough comments to delete the crazy ones. :)

A new age, a new look

It's a sad day folks. Got an email the other day from Yahoo! letting me know that Geocities is closing. I'm not sure if that means much to you but to me that is a huge blow to the way things were. Way back in 1995 when I first transferred to the University of Maryland I was a business major. As such I was lucky enough to enroll in a course titled Management Information Systems. I'm sure this class would look very different today than it did 14 (seriously? 14?!!??!??!) years ago but back then it was all about using the tools we now all take for granted - Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and this new thing that was out there - the Internet. Yup, this was my first introduction to HTML.

As you can probably guess, I took to this class like a fish to water. I loved every minute of it! I spent all of my free time in the computer lab working on my project - a personal web page. The professor was so funny. He basically said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I don't know a thing about creating web pages so if you need any help ask the TAs, and they'll try to help but they don't know much either." I mean, it was 1995, there really wasn't anything available on the Web like there is today. Only a few well-financed companies had web sites. Most people didn't even have Internet access at work let alone in their homes. I was lucky enough to get a dial-up connection through UMD (14.4kbps baby!!!!) that timed us out after a certain number of hours each week. Ahhhhh... the good 'ol days of downloading something, going on vacation, and hoping it would be done when you got back.

So there I was, building my own web page without the help of anyone else. I went out and learned all I could on my own. Reading tutorials, books from the library, stealing code from other sites I found (totally legal by the way). And I built the coolest thing ever. It had all sorts of colors, marquees flying all over the screen, blinking text, horribly loud background images, it was by far the best project in the class. I got an A on that project because no one knew a thing about design. I really wish I still had that account open!!! I'd love to get a screenshot of that site but I didn't even know what a screenshot was back then. The TAs and the instructor were so impressed that I was asked to come back and be a TA for them the next year. But by then I had decided not to be a business major anymore so I dogged the final and got a B in the class and they said I couldn't TA without getting an A. Pissers.

What does this have to do with Geocities you ask? I built my first site on Geocities wayyy back then. I loved Geocities! I thought having free hosting was the best. I didn't even care when they started putting those little ad boxes in the upper right corner of the screen. I had my own little space and I worked on it all the time and I loved it.

This brings us today... Per the email they sent out, Geocities will be no more as of October 26, 2009. I mourn. And, I still have stuff up on my account! That was where I hosted some of the pictures and things that were on my blog before I made the switch to this new "design." And I was hosting some images from Wifey's site on there too. See that cool as hell banner I made for her? The one I turned into an image map? Yup, that's on Geocities! Yeah, we're going to have to figure out what to do about that. And with this change to Geocities came the realization that it was time for me to move to a new look over all. I'm not sure I'll stay with this white on black look, and I don't like how my tag cloud is only showing up in blue (see the box on the right), but I'll kick the tires for a little while and make a decision eventually.

Until then, let me know if this looks like a$$ or not.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My view of the struggle

Corrine, Wifey's good friend, posted about a tough day. Even saying it like that doesn't do it justice. It was one of those days that makes parenting not seem worth the effort. How sad is that to admit to. We've all had them. We do our best, maybe a little of our worst comes out, but no matter what we try the kids don't want to work with us. Her story made me think about bedtime last night, when I got fed up by the lack of love coming my way...

I come at this conversation from a different angle than Corrine, or Wifey - I'm gone almost 90% of the kid's day. When I do get home it is dinner, maybe a little play, bath, books and bed. With a HUGE amount of screaming and general mayhem thrown in. The end result is the very small amount of time I get to see my 3 amigos is usually quite chaotic. I try to savor every bit of it, but when my little girl throws a fit each and every night, screaming that she wants Mommy to put her to bed (and now the littlest one has learned to join in) it's really hard to grin and suck it up and try to be happy with them. Tucking in should be a happy time, not a time for ear-shattering screaming right?

I lost it last night. I'll try to do better tonight. I know it is silly and a waste of time and energy to expect these little people to understand that it is nice to share the love. How can they know how important it is for Dad to get some snuggle time too? It's not that they don't want Daddy time, it's just that as soon as the book is done it is Mommy or else. It's tough on Wifey to be all things to all people so I try to stick up for her and say nope, it's a Daddy night. But then the screaming starts, as it always does, and I end up leaving the room to one unhappy 3 year-old. I/we should know better. Having Mommy climb into bed after putting the other down is a small price to pay for peace and happiness, we just have to remember that in the moment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I can't believe I'm about to do this....

I just noticed something about today. And it made me think of the Barenaked Ladies. Wifey will be so proud of me. And all my other friends will slap me for admitting that yes, I do know most of the lyrics to most of their songs. It's one of those things about marriage - you pick things up here and there and soon enough you've been castrated.

Um, well maybe not castrated per se, but close e-friggin-nuff.

So, what was it about today that made me think of these (now) 4 funny guys from Northern North Dakota? Today's date of course!

And here are two versions. The first is the professional one - an actual music video for kids. The second is far worse quality but it shows why their concerts are so great to go to. Oh crap, did I just admit that too?

The professional one -

Now the better one -

Happy 789!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

For a hat???

I was watching Sportscenter over the weekend and saw that most (all?) baseball teams were wearing these hats with the American flag put into their logo. When I saw the Yankees version I immediately wanted one. Then... I found out how much these vultures were charging for them. $37 for a hat??? I'm sorry, does it sing or make me breakfast too? I mean, it's no brick or anything! Then I found out that the hat raised money for the organization Welcome Back Veterans and it made a little more sense. Great hat, donation to a fantastic charity, what more could you ask for?

How about $37 to afford the dang hat?

I still want the hat.

And the brick. :)

Oh, and 7 3/4 if you're wondering.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

July in and around Washington is typically just plain nasty. Hot, humid, flash thunderstorms almost every day - just not a fun place usually. It is usually second only to August, and maybe the gates of hell, in terms of enjoyable weather. It also seems to be a pattern that the 4th is always nasty in one way or another, usually hot and humid. Today though? It is just beautiful out. Late morning getting out of bed, Belgian waffles for breakfast, Wifey making some seriously nasty peanut butter banana bread stuff (*gag* peanut butter and banana should never be put together for any reason!!!!), that everyone except me seems to love, in the kitchen and me enjoying my bestest father's day present ever....

Happy 4th everyone, I hope you're enjoying your day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Excuse you?

That's it Mr. Orange!

I'm ashamed. I'm flabbergasted. I just don't know you any more. How could you not watch something like this, from America's Best Dance Crew, and not be entertained????

And I apologize for the popups, it had the best quality.

You're dead inside dude!

A double dose of huh?

I love the TV "variety" shows that have been on the last few years. So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, I even watched Idol for a while a few years ago. You know you love 'em too so stop snickering.

But this? They laughed and voted this "through to the next round???"

I just don't get it.

Second, I think everyone knows I am a Yankees fan. And I take a LOT of crap about it from my friends. I don't think it's fair to hate the Yankees though. We Yankee fans went through many years of garbage teams (think the 80's and early 90's) to get back on top. Then we spent a ton to stay there, just like the Red Sox are doing, and all other teams are trying to do, now. Haters....

But sometimes I just don't understand the marketing aspect of the business. I know it costs a ridiculous amount of money to buy a decent left-handed pitcher but I thought they made all of that back by way of the $8 beers and $1,200 tickets. Then I see this...

Yes folks, it is a brick. A $200 brick in fact. Said brick happened to live in a little place called Momument Park for 85 years, but it is still just a brick. What kind of hopped-up moron would pay $200 for a brick?

I want a brick.