Archive for May 2011

Shave and a Haircut…2 Bits

As the weather has gotten warmer, Mason’s hair, constantly getting longer, has began getting in his eyes and clinging together as he sweats more and more. It was time to give him a haircut.

I had to bribe him with a “cookie” (actually a piece of bread and jam…somehow Jess convinced him that a cookie was this). I am not proud of that, but I did it.

And he sat like a champ (mostly, with some help from Opa and a stapler…okay, just Opa).

Bunnies

It is a known fact: Rabbits multiply like crazy. Don’t believe me? Google it.

On second thoughts, don’t. I don’t want to be responsible for what you find with a Google search like “rabbit mating”.

Anyway, back to our story of teaching Mason about the facts of life. No, not those.

The other day, I pulled up to the house after riding home from work on my road bike. I was geeked to find that I had made the 17 mile ride in under 55 minutes (this is the mountains of western NC) but I didn’t have a chance to share it with Audrey and Omi (her mom) who were waiting on the porch with Kenzie (Mason was napping still). As soon as I dismounted, Audrey started in.

“My mom kills bunnies.”

Okay, okay, it wasn’t quite like that, but close. And it was a joke. And then Joan/Omi dove in to the story of how Zola had killed a mole (the previous night) and then they found the “mole” nest and so they decided that they should do something about the “moles”. I won’t go into detail about how they “disposed” of the “moles”.

I also won’t go into how the “moles” turned into “bunnies”. Let’s just say it was magic.

Regardless of all of this, after giving the remaining “mole” an examination, I convinced them that it was not a mole, but a bunny and, after a quick Google search (something like “what to do with ‘abandoned’ bunny”), Audrey knew what to do to get the mother bunny to come back.

We brought the remaining bunny into the house (without touching it) in a box and shared with Mason after he woke up from his nap. We then returned the bunny (eyes still closed, ears folded back) and called it a night.

We checked on the bunny in his (I have no idea if it was male or female, let’s pretend he was a boy bunny) nest of mommy fur and leaves and mulch every afternoon. Last night, we spotted him out on the edge of the garden beds and knew he would be fine.

As of this afternoon, it seems all is well, the bunny has grown up and left the roost. Photos documenting are below.

Ol’ Blue Eyes

I try to do more than just post photos of my kids (or family, but let’s be honest, the camera is for snapping shots of the kids, not Audrey and I…unless we are in the shot with the kids), but this one requires little more than an introduction.

When Mason was about 3 or 4 months (maybe even less…I think it might have been in September), I took a shot of him in the Baby Bjorn while Audrey was “wearing” him. It is still one of my favorite shots of him and I will dig it up and post it later (it is on a HD or different computer, probably down in the basement/office). We figured, since we are running out of days that we can still carry Kenzie around in the (same) Baby Bjorn, we should see if we can get the same shot.

If you remember the shot from my blog (which seems to have wiped the photos during the server transition last year), you will realize the poses are different. In his, he is chewing on the Bjorn with just his nose and up showing with this fierce stare in his eyes. Right before I snapped this photo, she was doing nearly an identical pose and stopped with the chime of the camera getting turned on.

Now, as I write this, Mason is pretending to be vacuuming the entire lower floor. Now, he is vacuuming me with the hose extension. I think he needs to get out and run around.

Sneaky shots

This past week (and again two weeks before that) we had Audrey’s mom (Omi, to Mason and Kenzie) here visiting, helping out and playing with the kids. She took the pictures in this post, most of which were shot sneaking in through cracked doors or over kitchen counters.

The first set are of Mason and Ella getting their toenails done (a la J Crew) by Audrey. I believe this was probably Audrey’s idea planted in Mason’s head, but I cannot confirm nor deny that. And take notice of the kids holding hands in the second shot. For those of you who have been around for the past three years, Mason and Ella have grown up together (Lydia, Ella’s mother, and Audrey have been best friends since 4th grade…1988?) and we have many shots of these two sweet hearts loving on each other. Gives one all sorts of hope for the world, when you stop to think about it.

These next two shots were snuck while I was reading Mason his bed time stories. Almost every Saturday, Audrey and Mason (and usually Kenzie and sometimes me) go down to the Pack Library in downtown Asheville and enjoy “Story Time” together where they have a theme, read books based on said them, sing songs and dance and have a generally awesome time. Afterwards, Mason gets to go pick out 2 or 3 books to take home. These books inevitably become the foundation of bed time story hour (which is more like 30 minutes, but whatever).

In one shot, Mason is hidden behind the book.

As a side note, I never want to read Pocket for Corduroy again.

And finally, the last series, appropriately, is what happens when I get to put the kids to sleep. Well, sort of. I believe the one of Mason was after Omi put him down (Audrey had a big meeting one evening this week, so Omi and I were on kid detail). Sort of. If I remember correctly, she read him a few books and then told him it was time for sleep and he began reading a book on his own (he does this quite often). She checked on him a bit later to find him like this (he does this quite often, too).

The last photo is of me getting Kenzie to sleep. She is still off and on with the bottle but is eating semi-solid foods (more like gelatinous lumps of goo), so I tried feeding her the bottle to get her down, but she wasn’t too keen, so I strapped on the Ergo and walked her up and down our street (oh, the memories of walking the neighborhoods of West Asheville). She fought and fought and so, to make sure I didn’t hog all of the crying baby attention, I called Audrey to see when she was returning.

As soon as I began leaving a message (she hardly ever answers her phone;), Kenzie immediately was out. I finished the message and she was back up. So I began reciting every accent text, scroll and psalm I could think of…and immediately, she was out. I continued walking up and down our street for another 15 minutes or so, reciting epitomes to myself (and her). Out loud.

Afraid to put her in the crib and waking her up, I sat in an awkward position and finished reading The Next 10 Years by George Friedman (of Stratfor fame) until Audrey got home.

Mason’s Red Wagon

This past Christmas (December 2010) was a big one for Mason. Sure, he had experienced the Christmas spirit before, ripping into gifts at a snails pace (this kid is meticulous if nothing) and being drowned in a sea of grand-parental love (through gifts). Being only 2.5 years old, however, he had never fully appreciated the awe of waking up Christmas morning and seeing a spruce tree potted in a mound of gifts wrapped in all manner of colorful (as long as it is gold, silver, red or green) packaging. He had never truly experienced what Christmas has become.

Note: My mother and father always did well by me and I, too, always enjoyed a bountiful Christmas, so I am not exempt, nor am I in any way exempting myself, from this phenomena, no matter how I may actually feel about the over-commercialization of the Christmas holiday.

What does Christmas 2010 for a soon to be three year old have to do with wagons in May 2011? Remember that abundance (in addition to being surrounded by gifts, Mason was surrounded by 3 of 4 uncles, 2 grandparents – with another en route that day – a sister and 2 parents…talk about abundance!)?

Exactly.

My father and his partner Tony had been here for Thanksgiving and just missed Kenzie’s birth. They did, however, manage to cover everyone’s Christmas shopping while here and one of the (one of) the gifts they got Mason was a Radio Flyer red wagon. I figured I would leave it unwrapped in it’s box (and not put together) in the basement until the last gift. One thing lead to another that morning and I forgot about it (it was stored in our basement storage room – and also in my defense, we were housing Audrey’s two brothers with Audrey’s mom and stepdad – Omi and Opa – staying in their RV down the road with uncle #3 Ben and we had four friends joining us for meals with Audrey’s dad en route from California who would also be staying with us…oh, did I mention the heavy snow storms that stranded people here and the new born baby?!).

Anyway, we realized it was probably alright to leave it for another day, a quieter day as he couldn’t play outside with it, so we waited. And waited. And next thing I know, I am in Tucson with Mason in April mentioning that we hadn’t given it to him yet, we were waiting for nicer weather, etc. Well, it turns out my dad (Grandpa Larry) was coming out for a visit and to meet his grand daughter AND Mason had been reading a book (from his “Aunty” Jess) called The Red Wagon. One night while reading it, I said, “Would you like a wagon? Why don’t we see if Grandpa Larry will get you one…”

Happy early birthday, little guy.

Freelancer Infographic

Amanda Rappak posted a great piece on the fine art (and leisure) of freelancing (go here: http://www.freshbooks.com/blog/2011/05/10/infographic-the-freelancers-game-of-life/). I guess it could be said about any entrepreneur really, but it – with it’s graphics and rib pokes at design industry quarks – really hits it on the head for freelance designers. Why? It’s a designer thing, I guess.

Anyway, as many of you know, I do some freelance work in addition to having a day job (and in addition to having a full day job of being a parent to two and husband to one). Sure, I would love to be my own boss and freelance full time, but this (Asheville) is a small market with a lot of fish. We’ll see how things pan out.

And another thing keeping me from going full time (besides the darkness into which I would be jumping, the instability, the not knowing about getting enough work to cover insurance for our family in addition to house payments and food, nagging doubt, etc…) can be summed up by many of these folks contributions:

http://www.google.com/search?q=clients+from+hell&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

And these:

http://clientsfromhell.net/

Photos of Kenzie (& Mason, too!)

Mostly, these are shots I recently took of Kenzie learning new things like sitting up (on her brother), rolling over, eating solid foods and long division. I know Mason is in over half of these shots, but he is getting to the point where, particularly after naps, he is really adamant about me NOT taking photos of him, so he is in the background more on this series (they were all taken either during or right after his nap).

I need to have my camera out a lot more often than I do.

April Fool’s (copycat)

I was reading through Audrey’s (my wife’s) seldom updated blog and came across a post referencing a Google Chat conversation that she and I had last year on April 1, 2010. I went back and dug through my emails and conversations and found it (of course) and sent it to her. We both had a good laugh.

At this point, she was fairly certain that she was pregnant again although not 100% convinced, so she hadn’t told me yet. That would come about a week later. After breakfast one sunny Sunday morning. It would be a few more months before we knew it was a girl and even many more moons until we finally got to meet  Ms. Kenzie Boyd Olivier.

Our conversation (online) started with her sharing a poster for her work that a “graphic designer” had done for them pro bono. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to graphic design, I will admit, but this was pretty awful by any standards. The conversation continued from there:

2:32 PM
MO: As for that poster, that might be the coolest thing. Ever. Cooler than, well…anything witty that I can think of right now.
2:33 PM
Girls: no it’s not
2:36 PM
MO: April Fools!
Girls: yeah
MO: i am so funny.
Girls: I’m pregnant!
2:37 PM
MO: THAT IS THE STUPIDEST AND CRUELEST APRIL FOOLS EVER!
MO: April Fools!
(This is never going to get old)
2:38 PM
Girls: It was old about 10 minutes ago before you started saying it.
2:42 PM
MO: April Fools!
You used to think me funny. Are you getting tired of me?
2:47 PM
Girls: Yes.
APRIL FOOL’S!
I’m pregnant.
I am hilarious!
I can’t stop laughing at myself
MO: No, really. You are pregnant.
I meant to tell you.
Girls: Ouch, my side hurts, not because I’m laughing so hard, but because I”m pregnant.
2:48 PM
MO: APRIL FOOLS! Girls: I’ve got an e-newsletter to finish

2:51 PM
MO: that’s not funny.

3:33 PM
MO: So, you aren’t really pregnant, right?

Story time at Pack Library

Nearly every Saturday, Audrey takes he kids to the downtown library for story time. Maybe this has helped with Masons love of books (we have to read three or more each night and other times more). In this day of smart phones (I am writing this on my phone), tablets (he knows how to turn on, start and play games on my iPad) and constant stimulation through tv and computers, we are so happy he loves books.

Kenzie Boyd: Crib Time

The other day, I was watching Kenzie while Audrey and Mason were off doing something (I don’t remember what) and so I pulled out the Canon and took a few (dozen) shots of her having some crib time. Later in the day, I got to take a few video snapshots of her and her Mommy talking to each other (forthcoming).

The First Meal

As we are about to hit the 5 month mark, we decided to try solid food with Kenzie (and by solid food, I mean rice cereal and breast milk) this past weekend. The first time went pretty well, and by pretty well I mean she actually managed to get a few spoonfuls down her gullet while the rest ended up in her neck folds. The pictures of this momentous occasion are below.

UPDATE: We tried another batch with her tonight and she did great. She was actually grabbing for the spoon and gulping down as much as she could. She also had her weigh in today at her doctor’s appointment and is just shy of 18 pounds…basically, she is a 7-8 month old baby.

Exercise & Kids: Keeping fit (& sane) with young children

How does one stay in shape? Exercise.

How does one get into better shape? Lots of strenuous exercise.

How does a parent stay in shape or get into better shape? Either:

  • A) Be really independently wealthy so that you can afford a child care service (nanny) to watch your children for you while you spend hours at the gym, or in my case, hours on the saddle of a road bike, or;
  • B) Marry a slovenly person who doesn’t give a rat’s *** about staying in shape and will allow you to spend hours at aforementioned gym or in aforementioned saddle.

In my case, I had to choose C (not mentioned above), which is to marry a woman who is god-like in her patience with both me and our children and who is self-less in that she will not complain about me going on 3-4 hour (or more) bike rides up the Blue Ridge Parkway while she stays at home and gets the kids to take a nap (sometimes a kin to charming two cobras, at the same time, without so much as humming a tune…basically just looking at the snakes and thinking really hard, “Will you just go to sleep you little monsters!”).

There is also D, which is get up really early in the morning, but let’s face it, I (and some of you) are parents of young children and you (and I) would prefer to get as many extra winks as possible, and we are not talking about the kind doled out by the creepy old dude/woman who frequent the gyms at 5:00 AM. Am I right?

Anyway, in spite of owning only one car (yes, we have my in-laws tow-car as a back up, but we try to use it as little as necessary…thanks Omi and Opa!), we do quite well getting to and from town. Wife works part-time and only has to go into the office 2-3 (sometimes more) days per week. I work in downtown Asheville, and need to be there 5 days per week. When she goes in, I car pool with her and then take the scenic route home up to and down the Blue Ridge Parkway (and then out by Warren Wilson College…my alma mater). The plan is to take the bus in the other days and commute home every day by bike.

This, in a nut shell, is how this parent of two children (and ever-faithful and doting husband to one) has gotten into shape. Granted, I have never been fat (a bit over-weight there for a year or two, according to basic standards for my height and age), so this hasn’t been a huge challenge. What it has been though is a sort of mental break through.

When I was a child growing up in Michigan and spending many summers in South Carolina at my maternal grand-parents house, I remember many nights having to be (literally) dragged into the house as all in the world went dark. What I mean is, I got plenty of exercise. Sometime around 1986 (I don’t remember exactly), I got a Nintendo for Christmas. I don’t think I played outside as much from that date forward.

Then I got into high school and joined the ski team, but quit my junior year after spraining and/or injuring both thumbs (followed by a ski trip out west with my dad). I never returned, and didn’t, for as much as I can remember, do much in the way of exercise until the end of my sophmore year of college when I began mountain biking while living in Skagway, Alaska.

Through all of this, however, I never broke 130Lbs. Heck, I might not have topped 120Lbs. much, either. Even through the next few years of teaching outdoor education in Hendersonville, NC and then at Warren Wilson College, I never did much more than walk (around barefoot, yes) and hike. I had the mountain bike, but after falling off onto my head a number of times (always with a helmet, mind you), I had lost the interest in trail riding.

Enter the children.

I swear, as soon as Mason was born, I was pressing down harder on the scales. Sure, I had been playing in a rock-n-roll band, hadn’t jogged a kilometer in well over a year or so, and probably was not the epitome of health food-wise, but still. I was 32!

That, it turned out, was it: I was 32 and my 20-something year old metabolism was no more. I couldn’t go 3 pints of Ben and Jerry’s and not feel it. We began eating out less, which meant eating quite a bit better, but that didn’t do it completely, so at the end of the summer after Mason was born, I bought a bike.

I researched and visited website after website to figure out which one to buy (used, of course) and finally decided on a Bianchi. Luckily, a week or so later, I found one on craigslist.com. I was hooked from day one.

I began commuting to work (at that time a mere 3-4 miles each way). Soon, the performance spandex began entering my wardrobe and the rest was a slippery slope into history.

This has become my method to help contain the madness that is early parenthood while at the same time keeping off the extra pounds. And, over a lunch of carrot sticks and lettuce rolls at my desk, it gives me a direction in which blogs and videos to check out instead of Facebook.