Category Archives: Family

Snowpocalypse

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I was at work yesterday preparing for the Arizona snowpocalypse. I’ve lived in Michigan and Pennsylvania, so I’m no slouch in the snow department. I’ve had to abandon vehicles on the interstate due to snow. The biggest problem with snow in Arizona is that when it hangs around, nobody knows what to do. Many Arizonans are transplants from colder, snowier locals. For me, it’s been eleven years since I’ve driven in real snow, and I imagine longer for others.

For work, I had to prepare for the impending snow. It was stuff like make sure flashlights have fresh batteries and check the fuel levels of the back-up generators. About four hours into my ten-hour shift (I was taunting nature to really give me the snow) the general manager started sending people home. I resisted, and it was like the negotiation scene from Firefly at the end of The Train Job. I went home to avoid getting kicked into an engine. (Not really, but he’s also a Firefly fan, and I could totally see it going that way. It was either this or a Star Trek reference.)

Anyway, after the 60-minute drive home, (it normally takes about half an hour) Erika and I watched an indie film, after that, I watched another by myself. Alyssa played in and outdoors, tracking snow through the house as she remembered some toy or something she wanted. Anthony usually stays at grandma’s house because she watches the countdown. (I’m in bed by nine.) The snow cancelled this year’s plan and he was forced to do whatever 14-year-old boys do on New Year’s Eve in his own room.

At one point, I think it was while we were all fending for ourselves for lunch, Erika and Alyssa decided to only communicate by rhyming and singing to “Let it Snow.” It lasted about fifteen minutes before one of them gave up. I’ll never, under the penalty of perjury, divulge who gave up first. The rest of the day was full of lazy, with the exception of making sure the dogs got in at least one of their daily walks. And of course, fresh snow equals Alyssa building a snowman.

I hope everyone who visits the blog and follows me on twitter has a safe and prosperous new year.


Hallowe’en Wishes

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Hey, all you parents out there! Remember when your babies were, ya’know, still babies?

Most of you were there for their births. (Adoption is a wonderful and caring thing and should be celebrated.) Your own parents may have taken over for a little while when an exhausted mommy or daddy couldn’t keep their eyes open. After all, they raised their own children, and they turned out pretty well. You watched over them in their bassinets and cribs – tiny hands curling around your finger. Your parents probably laughed at the last-minute baby proofing. “Why do we even have a glass coffee table?” Or, from your parents, “You’ve known this baby was on the way for awhile, you could’ve done some of this ahead of time!”

You may have picked out the cute little orange onesie with a matching pumpkin top hat. Coming up with excuses to hold the lil’ buggers wasn’t difficult. “Was that the door bell? I’ll hold the baby while you check.”

They got older and started walking. “Where the heck is that kid? She was here three seconds ago!” You pretended not to find them while they giggled uncontrollably hiding behind the curtains while playing hide and seek. You watched the same episode of He-Man over and over and over and over and over. You acquiesced during a grandparent visit that was never complete without at least six hugs good-bye. “Grandma! Please stay a little longer!”

School started and you saw them less and less. Hobbies, activities and their friends ate up more of your time with them. Some of you welcomed the respite and some of you missed them terribly, agonizing over what they were doing.

There were achievements – achievements that boggled the mind. “Who the heck taught him how to juggle?” There were setbacks – setbacks that tried your patience and the limits of parental endurance. “I’ve told you twice to take a shower and get ready for bed! Do I need to confiscate something so you’ll listen?”

First words, first tooth, first kiss, first (gasp!) driving lesson: You were there for them all. You wonder, “Am I teaching them to be human beings?” Or, “Will my baby change the world?” Heck, if you could just get them to pull the legs out on their jeans before dumping them inside-out in the light clothes basket, you would most assuredly receive the Nobel Prize.

You look to a higher power to care for them when you’re not present. You’ve instilled in them the values that you believe in, but they don’t always understand or believe in what you do. You can only do your best and send them into the world.

Today is Halowe’en. The older babies are going to parties. Or, the infamous, “Trick-or-treating is for little kids.” Have fun with your children today. It’s one of the few days of the year where a kid can truly be a kid. We all dress up in silly, scary or simple costumes. We eat candy until our stomach hurts. We celebrate being a family, a family created by birth or assembled by adoption.

I’ll end this Halowe’en post with a quote from Steve Almond: “Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Hallowe’en night.”


A story by Alyssa

Like many children, mine see me doing something as a profession and they want to emulate it. Anthony has come down to the station and spent some time goofing off on the microphone in the production room. A few years ago, he discovered a game I worked on and I had programmed his and Alyssa’s names into it. He loves to tear apart computers and install every lame Linux distribution out there on one of the many machines that haunt my garage.

One thing they both have seen me spend innumerable hours doing is the craft of writing. I’ve gotten them illustory kits so they can write and illustrate their own stories. Anthony has moved on to other things, but Alyssa likes to spend time writing stories. They both played with the quiet-riter when I brought it home, but Alyssa wanted to write a story. She knows I write a lot of something called ‘flash fiction,’ and wanted to try her hand at it.

After some discussion, we decided she would try to write a 100-word story. First she would write it in a notebook. Then, I would circle misspelled words for her to correct. Finally, she could bang it out on the quiet-riter.

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***

Green is all I see.

Well, not just green, but many greens.

Crooked, twisted vines and branches move on their own.

“It’s just the wind,” I whisper to myself.

I hear lots of strange noises that I haven’t heard before, but I guess that’s what a jungle sounds like.

Suddenly, I hear a loud noise.

My heart races. I even jumped a little. I grabbed my tail and leapt to the nearest branch. I climbed as high as I could. I screamed, but my voice was lost to the sounds around me.

I knew I was safe.


Hiatus Concluded

Some of you may have noticed I’ve not been posting the last two weeks or so. It’s a combination of being busy with life, school and work paired with burnout. (Not the game, if it were, the ‘B’ would be capitalized. Besides, it has been forever since Burnout Paradise was released.) I’ve never thought of myself as someone prone to depression, but I do have occasional bouts of ‘meh.’ I just don’t feel like doing anything or interacting with anyone. I know, it’s hard to tell since I’m so antisocial. I suppose that’s what depression is, although I have a hard time with the negative connotation associated with the word ‘depression.’

* * *

Yesterday, after picking my daughter up from school, she innocently asked from the back seat. “Daddy, what’s dot-dot-dot mean?”

I replied, “Do you mean an ellipsis, like in writing?”

“Yeah, I wrote a story in class, but the teacher told me I couldn’t use the dot-dot-dot…”

“Ellipsis.”

“Yeah, ellipsis. She said I couldn’t use the ellipsis unless I knew its name and how to use it. She made be erase all the ellipsis from my paper.”

Most of the twenty-plus minute drive home, the conversation was us giving examples of the proper usage of the ellipsis. I know, we’re dorks. The conversation eventually steered towards different points of view (she wrote her story in first person past-tense limited perspective.)

When we got home, she and I read my dialog only story, trading parts. Eventually she got bored and went outside to play.

Overall, yesterday was a great day. Erika and I are going to watch The Winter Soldier before we get the kids from school and after the lunch buffet at Peter Piper Pizza (I have a coupon!)


We All Scream…

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….For ice cream! I think I’ve mentioned it in this blog before, but using that search thingy is just too much effort. We love ice cream. Years ago, we received, as a gift, an ice cream mega ball. It’s a blast rolling the ball and burning those calories to offset the ice cream calories. I wouldn’t use this thing on concrete or anything and you can see the pillow protecting my shins. I mandate that only those that participate in the rolling are allowed to partake in the resulting ice cream.

 

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If you find yourself in possession of one of these contraptions, here’s some free advice: Make half the recipe. I have the 1 quart, “Mega” ball and halving negates the need to scrape the ice cream and replenish the ice and rock salt halfway through the process. We just roll this thing for forty minutes and enjoy.

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Here’s my recipe for the 1 quart version:
1 pint of milk product (I use 2% milk for the convenience)
1 teaspoon of flavoring (I picked up a four pack somewhere – check your flavor instructions)
half a cup of stevia or sugar.
Add any additional items (shredded coconut is nice with chocolate flavoring. Don’t use full-sized chocolate chips, they’ll break your teeth.)

I put all the ingredients in, seal it, then shake it. Next I add ice and half a cup of rock salt to the other side. Next, forty minutes of rolling. Finally, I scrape the sides down with a wooden spoon and serve. Protect your shins!


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The wall of text from yesterday was about books and stuff, so today’s wall of text will be about not-book stuff.

It’s gonna be a busy week. Normally I work at a gaming store one day a week. The company has been jerking people around for like five months. A coworker finally got fed up and left to pursue other opportunities, so the manager asked if I would pick up extra shifts this week. I’m a total sucker so I acquiesced. Then another coworker asked if I could cover his shift. Since the other person working a parallel shift is a writer and we have great conversations about the craft, I accepted. So I work my “real” job from 7:30 – 2:00 and my gaming store job from 2:00 – 9:15. You can see the obvious issue of being in two places at once at 2:00, but alas the big problem is going to be working almost 14 hours on Monday and Tuesday. I keep telling myself the extra money this week will be great…

The kids start school this week. I don’t start until the 18th. I’m only taking one three-credit class for the next three semesters. I’ll be graduating with my Bachelor’s of Science in the Fall of 2015. My degree will be in Applied Human Behavior and my certificate will be in Community Development and Sustainability. I’ve already paid my tuition for this semester and I’m hoping I can get financial aid for the next two. I keep reminding myself it’s only nine credits to go…

A photographer was participating in a charity event so the family had some photos done to support that charity. The photographer took about 1,600 photos. Some photos from that photo shoot are in this post.

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Yogurt Fantasy

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I have a confession to make. I’m often skeptical when my wife is excited about something. It could be a television show or a restaurant or a song or something. I usually question her taste – after all, look who she married! I find myself pleasantly surprised regularly. You’d think after fifteen years of marriage, I would trust her judgment, but… ::looks around:: and don’t tell her I said this, but she’s usually right. Nope, my account was hacked; I wouldn’t ever say something like that. Maybe I can rescue this post…

I came home from work on Saturday and my wife was raving about this little yogurt shop she discovered while looking for a garage sale. She basically informed me it was the best and all other yogurt and ice cream shops were crap. I’m paraphrasing, but that was the general idea. She proceeded to drive the thirty minutes to go to the shop again with her mother the following day. She and my son demanded we drive in again on Monday to visit the shop again. I refused, indicating it was too far to drive for some, gasp, yogurt.

There was some trickery today. She took us all to my second favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. Then, we went to the mall to look at replacement exercise bikes. Next I found myself on Willow Creek Road on the way to the yogurt shop. It’s next to Safeway. The shop is called Yogurt Fantasy.

Here’s the deal: You get a cone or a cardboard cup and get as much of the ten flavors of yogurt you want. Then you load it up with as many toppings as you want. Finally, you pay forty-nine cents an ounce.

I love it! It totally reminds me of Fudruckers or Coldstone Creamery. There are always two sugar-free options (Erika loves this), plus gluten-free and lactose-free flavors. Anyway, for those who live in the Arizona central highlands, you should check it out.