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Or maybe paint chips?
Thursday, December 17, 2009 - 11:53 a.m.

Every year one of our vendors sends all our environmental personnel a pizza from Gino's East in Chicago. Every year I seriously debate intercepting the shipment and claiming all the pizzas as my own. This year's offering came in this morning, and now all I can think about is pizza. Omnomnomnomnom.

Yesterday we had some bigwigs from the company we're merging with visiting our office. There were some pretty specific rules of conduct, as listed at the staff meeting the day before:

No burping
No farting
No cussing
No pets
No butt crack
No crack
No cussing
No nose-picking
No cell phones
No cussing
No yelling
No booze (unless you bring enough for everyone)

It goes without saying that the mere fact these were listed at the staff meeting - and not entirely tounge-in-cheek, either - explains why I love my workplace so damn much.

I'm proud to say that I think we all conducted ourselves in a mostly professional manner (I did let out one loud squawk while imitating "Stumpy the Christmas Vulture" but it went largely unnoticed). I hope our visitors left thinking what a fantastic assest we'll be, and not, "holy shit, do they do engineering work or do they sit around all day and eat glue?"

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Micah Cam: First Words Edition
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 08:13 p.m.

Ball:



Moon:



Martian-Speak:

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'Tis the season
Monday, December 14, 2009 - 11:14 a.m.

This weekend was EXHAUSTING.

Saturday morning, we had a clean-up day at work to spruce up our office for some bigwigs coming into town on Wednesday. Saturday afternoon, I went to Jessica's Christmas party where we almost burned down her apartment with an exploding candle and ate a lot of cookies. Sunday afternoon Todd and I hosted our own Christmas party (complete with two 4-year-olds, one 8-year-old, one 15-month-old, one 9-month-old, one 6-month old, and a partridge in a pear tree) and therefore spent most of the morning prepping and the rest of the evening in recovery. Take all that and add in one feral, vicious toddler who refused to nap the entire weekend and HOO BOY, I'm glad it's Monday.

Not so long ago I mentioned that our house was officially on the market. After only 19 days, we got an offer. A really GOOD offer. Now our house is under contract, with closing scheduled for *deep breath* December 30th. It goes without saying that we'd expected it to take months to sell our house, not weeks.

We made a deal to rent the house back from the new owner until January 11th, partly to give us the holidays, and partly to give us time to find somewhere to live for the next four to six months while our new house is being built. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a rental house with a fence that allows pets and doesn't require a minimum 12-month lease? Right now, we have a deal to rent a house in the neighborhood we're building in, and since it's owned by the developer, we don't have to worry about breaking a lease to move when the new one is completed. The only downside is, he won't spring to finish the fence, so we can't keep Niki with us. The current plan is for her to stay with friends at night, and come to work with me during the day.

In the meantime, we're going to enjoy our last few weeks in the house. Last year we kind of missed Christmas, so this year we're making an effort to celebrate. We actually had friends over for the first time in a couple years, and we'll be hosting Christmas dinner at our house with my sister's family and my parents in attendance. I'm hoping to finish my Christmas shopping BEFORE Christmas Eve. I'm also still planning on mailing out Christmas cards, once the pictures come in later this week. I should have done photocards, but I figured why not make it harder?

On top of all that, I'm putting together my application to (finally) take the PE exam in April. Once that's submitted in January, it's time to start studying. I haven't used most of my general engineering knowledge in over six years, so I've got my work cut out for me.

But I'll just go ahead and say now that no matter what else piles on, I have three days at the end of December when our office is closed but the daycare is open, and I intend to spend at least one of those days doing absolutely NOTHING. And it will be awesome.

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December 9 Sunset
Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 08:38 a.m.

Taken out of the car window during my evening commute down Highway 53.

Sunset on the way home

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Saving Dinner: Week 1
Monday, December 7, 2009 - 08:57 a.m.

I work full-time, Todd works full-time, and we have a 15 month old child. When we get home in the evening, we're all tired and hungry, and the baby is very very angry. Too often, we haven't planned anything for dinner, and so we spend five to ten minutes staring into the pantry, glassy-eyed and mouthbreathing, before we either a) make tacos or b) go out. Other weeks, we end up running to grocery store nearly every night on the way home to pick up an ingredient, because we didn't plan a menu out prior to shopping on the weekend. It's not that we don't like to cook, or that we don't know how - we just suck at planning and, honestly, we're kind of lazy.

Of course, that laziness is costing us time and money, and when we eat out we're not eating healthy foods. When we're at a restaurant, I have a hard time finding food I want Micah to eat, because most of it is terrible for him, especially the vegetables. Then that starts me thinking, well, if I won't give it to him, why am I eating it? We knew we should cook at home, and we really were trying, but we obviously needed a better system.

A while back (a VERY long while back), my mother gave us a copy of Saving Dinner. It's a book that plans out menus for a week at a time, compiles the shopping lists, offer tips on how to speed up the process by doing certain steps ahead of time....and basically removes all excuses for not cooking at home. The book has been collecting dust on the shelf with all the other cookbooks lo these many years, until I happened to drag it out Saturday. After quickly determining that Micah wasn't interested in waiting for us to compile our own menus and shopping list, we decided to just go ahead and give it a shot.

Last night we started off the week's menu, and dinner was fantastic. We already know what we're eating tonight and all the ingredients are on hand. That's a huge change right there. The first spouse home can start on dinner, without our usual phone calls of "what are we having? did you take anything out to thaw? can you stop by and pick up _____?" Just having a plan is a relief. And if tonight's meal taste as good as last night's, we'll be in good shape!

Hopefully, this is a plan we will actually stick to. We'll see how it goes.

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And we're off!
Friday, December 4, 2009 - 03:33 p.m.

Tuesday night after dinner I was puttering around in the kitchen when Todd called me from the other room. I turned the corner to the hallway, and there was Micah, walking. He walked to me, back to his dad, back to me, back to his dad. And he's been on the go, off and on, since then.

My favorite part is how he walks exactly like a zombie: shuffling, stiff-legged gait, arms held out in front of him. He's smiling the entire time, though. And just as he comes within reach, with a shriek of glee he gives up the last few steps and throws himself at you, trusting you to catch him. There's nothing like the feeling of watching your grinning baby toddling towards you at top speed.

So there we are. Milestone. Micah walked at 14 months and 19 days. And here the days of peace officially ended.

(Or maybe that was back in September 2008?)

We're off to see the wizard... I honestly think all the running around of the past weekend had a lot to do with it. For Thanksgiving we visited Todd's family in Knoxville, and Micah had a blast for every non-nap-time moment of the trip. He spent most of the days outside with his Papa, pushing his walking toy up and down the driveway and road. They must have walked at least a couple of miles. The rest of the time, he was crawling up and down their stairs inside. They're wooden stairs with open risers, and I spent every second of his adventures right behind him, resisting the urge to pounce every time he slipped a little. I try to be a pretty easy-going, non-hyper parent, but even so, letting the baby climb the stairs of death without interfering unduly was a big event in my just-relax-already parenting method.

To go along with the improved mobility, we also have the advanced temper tantrum. Micah has now entered a charming new phase in which, when displeased, he throws himself to the ground and howls. If you're holding him, he wiggles, thrashes, kicks, arches his back, throws back his head, claws, and slaps until you let him go. Then he throws himself on the floor. And ya'll, let me just say, I have a Very Hard Time dealing with it with patience. The other day he caught me across the face, and I swear, I was right back to looking for a woodchipper. I'm trying to figure out a new strategy for dealing with Rabid Badger Baby - preferably one that doesn't involve duct tape - because when that shit goes down, I need to have a PLAN, people. Otherwise, someone's gonna end up in the dryer, and I outweigh the little jerkface by at least a hundred pounds.

Teuh! But it's not all tantrums and screaming. Actually, most of the time, Micah's in a pretty incredible stage. He's talking more, and always pointing at things with his question sound. He brings us books, then turns around and scoots into our laps so we can read to him. He laughs like crazy if you toss him into the pillows on the bed. He gets behind his push toy and zooms at things at top speed with a maniacal grin on his face. He shrieks with delight when the dog licks him, and he's intent on one day catching a cat. He is obsessed with bouncy balls and kick balls and basket balls and exercise balls and anything even remotely resembling a ball (the moon is a big hit). He loves to climb, he snuggles, he sleeps all night. He is just awesome, in nearly every way, and our lives right now are so, so good.

On Dad's shoulders

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Whee!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 01:53 p.m.

What better way to get me interested in posting here again than to futz around with the layout and screw everything up? I'm sure I borked something, so if you'd be so kind as to let me know if anything's wonky, I'd appreciate it.

Whee!

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