Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer is over now

The girls have been back in school for 3 weeks now. So far no drama. Some attitude during homework last week, but nothing unusual. (Though with Meghan I do have to read the book to understand the questions sometimes. Who the heck remembers what makes an atom an isotope or not?)

Christopher survived his first week. So did Deb. Friday was much better. He cried when Deb dropped him off but his teachers said he was fine a few minutes later. He was really happy to see Deb when she picked him up, instead of crying and having to be carried (I feel sorry for the teacher who had to carry him)

Softball is fun swing. We had a scrimmage game on Thursday so I started getting back into 'Dugout Dude' mode. We had a 9 am practice on Saturday which was a little hard getting to. That was the first time we'd been out that early on a weekend since the end of school.

PSR (CCD for those who remember that term) starts on Wednesday, Girl Scouts is starting up this week and next and so are the clubs at school. So much for a little free time.

Football starts on Thursday! Go Giants! It looks like my Dad does read my blog (or may be Pat does?) since last night we got home to a box from my Dad with 5 new Giants Jerseys. (see here for why.) I'll post up pictures this week once everyone puts them on.

Here we go again ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Couldn't resist

I saw this t-shirt this morning and couldn't resist posting it.

1 week to NFL football!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The little things you miss when they don't work

Our ice maker broke last weekend. No big deal right? Except we drink a lot of water. I don't know how many times I've stood at the ice box (this one's for you dad ;-) pressing the button waiting for some ice, then remembering it is broken.

I did all the tests I could find online that didn't require moving the fridge to get to the back and determined it is either the thermostat or the whole unit. Of course GE doesn't sell just parts so I had to order a whole unit. Sears wanted $130 but I found it online for $75. Hopefully it will be fixed by the end of next week.

Not bad for an 11 year old part we use every day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: No Gate can keep me in!

I've liked how this looks on another blog I follow, so I'm going to try it. Pictures from the story:

That is the cabinet he can reach!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Christopher's first day of preschool

Pictures here

Well, he didn't cry when we dropped him off. Neither did Deb.

Today was Christopher's first day of preschool. He slept in (why doesn't he do that on weekends?), had a good breakfast and got dressed.

We're in the middle of some bad weather right now (remains of Fay) so we left extra early. We arrived at the school about 20 minutes early and waited. I was again the red sports car in a sea of mini-vans and SUVs. I think I saw 5 other cars total!

At 9 we walked him he. At first he tried to not go into the room, but I blocked him with my leg and he went in. He then turned around and tried to run out, but Deb and I had him blocked. Silly boy, we've done this before!

A few seconds later he found a puzzle he liked, then went to the easel to draw. A few minutes of that he found the pots and pans and started banging on them. That was our sign to leave.

The teacher said he was sad and cried a little while we were gone. When Deb met him after class (a whole 2 hours!) he was a little sad but cheered up when he got a new Thomas the Tank book.

Wednesday is supposed to be harder since he now knows what he is in for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Maybe we should move to Nebraska ...

From the AP article:

Nebraska's new "safe-haven" law allowing parents to abandon unwanted children at hospitals with no questions asked is unique in a significant way: It goes beyond babies and potentially permits the abandonment of anyone under 19.

After the end of the second week of school, that sounds tempting.

Just kidding of course. Please don't call DFACS ;-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Child locks for the upper cabinets?

Wow was Deb cursing me today.

As I've mentioned in the past, Christopher likes to climb. And he is pretty strong. And he likes to take things apart. Today he combined all 3 of his strengths to drive my wife crazy.

First, he stood on the chair by the computer, opened the cabinet above the computer (which is at a regular height for a kitchen cabinet) and took down a glass to get something to drink. Note: he didn't climb on the counter. He could reach from a chair.

About an hour later, he is in the family room, which has a gate across the entrance to keep him in when we're doing things like cooking or dishes etc. He really wanted to get to where I was (I was doing laundry). So he pushed the Lay-z-boy recliner from the middle of the room, across a carpet and up against the gate. He then climbed on the recliner and tried to swing over the gate. Deb's mom called just as I caught him and Deb was a little frustrated explaining what he was doing since she was expressing her displeasure at the child when I handed to phone to her ;-)

Tomorrow I get to see where the recliner will fit in my office.

FYI: he is only 2 and 1/2. It is going to get worse before it gets better.

Also, he had his meet and greet with his preschool teachers today. It went really well so we'll see how Monday goes ...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad Dad: Driving with the kids

The Geek Dad blog has a section for 'Bad Dad' where the dads talk about things they've done with or to their kids that their spouses (or the authorities) might not approve of.

They had an entry a couple of weeks ago I could relate to: letting your kids drive. I think at some point all dads do this. Maybe just not as often as I did (note 'did', when they are old enough to really drive I'll sell the Mustang or get a 'Daughter Tune'.)

First time I let Meghan drive the Mustang was the day after Courtney was born. I was exhausted so I gave her the keys and told her to drive to preschool. Yeah right. Being a dad, who is always on time for things, often early, we arrived a few minutes before she needed to be dropped off in carpool lane. About 20 minutes early. So we went to lower parking lot (where there were no cars at all, honestly) and I put her on my lap and let her steer as I slowly drove around. The 97 Mustang was a manual with a lot of torque so all I had to do was let the clutch out a little bit and the car would move.

When we were done, I put her back in her car seat (yes car seats fit in the back of SN95 mustangs!) and went and got on line. The woman taking her out of the car immediately asked how Deb's labor was. It seems that I didn't do a good job on Meghan's hair that morning, so they assumed she had the baby.

After that, we did the 'go up the driveway, roll back down, go up the driveway' game. Except with 250+ HP it was sometimes neck snapping and always loud. Once or twice I left a patch of rubber on the driveway. oops.

When Courtney was old enough, I did the same thing with her in the same parking lot.

Courtney in 2000:

Courtney in 2006:

(I can't find any pictures of Meghan in the car. I know we have them, but that may have been before digital cameras.)

When Christopher came along I've done a few of the driveway 'races' but in the automatic GT (Yes, I'm getting old.) so it is still loud, but we don't spin the tires.

He does start preschool at the same school in a week. Hmmm ....

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Summer of 1989

I've not started one of these before, but here goes.
What were you doing in the summer of 1989?
The rules are pretty straight forward:
- link back to whomever 'tagged' you
- answer the question ;-)
- identify 3 to 5 people who need to answer the question as well. I tag Laryssa, Chris Detje and Janine Mains.
Here goes.
How many of you have heard the song by Kid Rock 'All Summer Long'? Lyrics and video. If you haven't, the song starts with the line 'It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long'. Every time I hear this song, I remember some more from one of the most defining summers of my youth (and arguably my life.)
First, I was ending my Junior Year at UMASS Amherst. I'd could see (I thought at least) what my future was going to be and I thought had a good grasp on what was coming next.
The summer started with a major world event: the massacre at Tiananmen Square. In the last weeks of May, between studying for finals and all the other year end work, I honestly thought we were going to see change in China. As you all know, that was the farthest from what actually happened. I remember sitting in my apartment with my roommates debating what the protests meant (the massacre didn't happen until we were done.)
I was also moving even farther away from home. I accepted a summer job as a programmer in Houston TX. I was going to drive down, find a place to live and work all summer there. Yes, I went somewhere without much of a plan, knowing I had a credit card and my car to sleep in if necessary.

First though, I had to wait for my brother Pat to graduate from high school. The morning after his graduation, I packed up the car and left Danbury on my way to Houston. The trip was largely uneventful, except for a time in Mississippi when I was the only one on the road and there was a lot of debris. I found out when I stopped for dinner that a tornado had hit a few hours before I came through. Welcome to the South.
Before I left though, I had to talk with Deb. At this point we'd been going out over 4 years and were talking about what the future held. In one of the more stupid things I've ever done in my life, I broke up with her before I left. My thinking was it wasn't fair to both of us to be apart for 3 months, with little or no chance of seeing each other. Being at school was different, since it was a 2 hour drive and we saw each other every couple of weeks. So, no girlfriend, no place to stay and a job with people I didn't know (sort of) I left CT. I was 20 years old.
I eventually found an apartment, after having to pay the full rent up front (first introduction to credit checks, renting to under 21 years old etc.). I wasn't near where I was working, (which was good, the plant was in a horrible part of town) so I had to drive almost an hour each way. While I was used to commuting from Danbury to White Plains, this was completely different. Oh yeah, I didn't have AC in the car either. Ever been to Houston in the summer? God was that a nightmare.
The job was good. I was learning a lot and even met the company that moved me to Georgia a year later. I was developing software for their factory control system and I kept breaking their system. (This was the first time that I realized I was really good at this. In school being able to regurgitate what was in the books always frustrated me, but here I didn't have a book, I had a set of rough requirements and software that was supposed to work one way.) Except I kept assuming it would do something and break it. Finally after a month of this, the company (Maxwell House Coffee) put me on a plane and sent me to Atlanta to work with the engineers of Bradley Ward Systems (BWI then) on their hardware so as we broke things we didn't take the production systems off line.
I absolutely loved Atlanta. I worked closely with three guys I had only spoken with on the phone, showed them what I was doing and what was failing. We figured it out and at the end of the week I brought back several reels of tape with updated software. Now I KNEW I was going to love doing this for a living.
Turns out I had a cousin a couple of times removed living in Houston. And she was all southern girl. We went out several times to go dancing. Except I was used to pop/rock dancing and she was a southern country girl. I still remember the first time we went into a bar, I handed my ID to the bouncer, he looked at it and said 'Yankee'. My cousin stepped in and said I was with her and he still said 'have fun Yankee'. A few minutes later I'm introduced to a friend of her's and all I said was 'Hi' and the woman said 'you ain't' from around here are you?'. Yeah, this was going to be a fun summer.
So I learned how to line dance, actually understand the lyrics of a country western song and have a good time in a country bar. No, I did not buy a cowboy hat or boots. Thought about it though.
Living alone that summer was strange. Being in a factory, I worked 7 am to 3:30 PM. So I was home by 5 PM. Cooking wasn't a big deal, I did that at college, but the heat was so oppressive that it was hard to find anything much to do outside. Plus I was having second thoughts about what Deb and my relationship was going to be so I was doing a lot of thinking.
Not to say I stayed in my apartment the whole time. I went drag racing a couple of times in the 80 Capri. best time was a 15.50 or so ( I think I got into the 15's that last time.) I also went to several bars and entertainment establishments. Including my first strip club. Every hear of where Anna Nicole Smith met her husband? I was at the same place a few times.
I also went to see a movie by myself for the first time. The original Batman was out that summer as were some others I wanted to see. So I went by myself. Strange at first, but it is still something I do every once and a while when I want to see something Deb doesn't or the kids are too young for.
In July, a little over a month after I went to Houston, Deb flew down to spend a few days with me. We had a good talk about future and things and decided to talk again when I got back. It was a lot of fun just the two of us in a town we hadn't been in before.
A few weeks later Laryssa and her mom came to visit me. They were on a driving tour of the U.S.A. and stopped in Houston for a night. Ris and I went to a real pop/rock dance club and this thing put what we'd been to at school to shame. Also introduced me to big city 'dressing up' for the ladies. Damn they definitely didn't look like college girls ;-)
August is even worse in Houston than June and July. They had a severe thunderstorm while I was there. I of course didn't know what was going on, since I was in a separate part of the building than most everyone else and never heard the notice to go home. I left when it stopped and there was over a foot of water on most of the roads. I remember seeing stalled buses and cars everywhere.
Finally, in late August Pat flew down to drive home with me. I showed him around the next morning and loaded up to go to New Orleans. Yup, an 18 year old and a 20 year old in New Orleans. First stop was to get a beer. Of course Pat wasn't 18 yet (N.O. was 18 in those days.), but they let him in any ways. Except it was a 2 drink minimum club and we ended up paying $7 for a small glass of beer. Even in those days we both could drink a little beer so we knew $7 beers were going to kill us, so we bailed. (Yes, think about what places have minimum drink requirements in New Orleans. I can say I took Pat to his first strip club, but not really since they had pasties on.)
So, we found a bar with Hurricanes and proceeded to have a really good evening. We got to bed late, I don't remember how late but we wanted to get up and leave N.O. by 8 am. That didn't happen. We were on the road by 9 or 10 if I remember correctly. The ride was pretty uneventful until we were in North Carolina. Pat was driving the Capri when a guy in a Ferrari Tessarossa went past us like we were sitting still. Pat was like 'Dude did you see that!', then slammed on the brakes because a guy in front of us panic when the Ferrari went by. I swear we missed him by 6 inches.
As it became closer to dinner time, we started looking for a place to stay, but every place was full. (Yes, we winged it on the way home too)That was really odd, since it was a Saturday evening, we should have found something. Then we find out there is a NASCAR event somewhere in Virginia and everything on the highway as far north as Delaware is booked. Being stupid young men, we decide to drive straight through. We finally arrived home in Danbury around 9 am. So we'd been awake for 24+ hours at this point.
Mom is all over me, giving me hugs and kisses, then reminds me I haven't been to church yet. So I get dressed and go to 10:30 mass. I still don't know how I stayed awake, or how I wasn't reeking (remember, no AC in the car). When I got out of Church Deb was waiting for me in the parking lot. She'd called my mom to see where we were and mom told her I was at church!
I only had a week or so before going back to school so I spent most of it with Deb and getting all my stuff together.
The summer of 1989 ended with Pete Rose admitting he bet on baseball, another one of those moments when I realized everything isn't as good as it seemed.
I went back to school for my Senior year and what I think was the most fun I had at school, because I learned to hack. Up to that point everything was pretty structured, but my graduate-level compiler class is where I learned what being a real programmer was all about.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wii Fit

Anyone else's kids ask for dessert after doing the Wii Fit 'evaluation'?

Watching the girls do the hula-hoop is a trip. It took a few tries for them to get used to the way the board wants you to move, but they get it now. Both can Ski and to the ski jump.

Christopher keeps trying to stand on the board. I guess he gets that it is tied to the TV, but he's too young to understand what to do. Soon though, soon.

They still are playing Mario Kart like lunatics!

Monday, August 11, 2008

First day of school for the girls

Yup, it is early August and they are back in school. Yes we live in the south. Yes it broke 90 today.

No pictures. (Come on, they are in 5th and 8th grades. Do you think they'd let us take pictures?)

Christopher starts in 2 weeks. I promise pictures of crying (Deb that is. I think he'll be fine.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wii Shortage a scam?

Today I waited on line to get a Wii Fit and Wii Mario Kart from Best Buy. We were there an hour before the store opened and got one of only 10 Wii Fit and 4 Wii Mario Kart 'tickets'. I think they gave out 10 or so Wii console tickets as well.

Once the store opened Courtney and I went and found another wheel and some PC software, then got on line to get our Wii games. I was the last in line who had tickets, but could hear the two guys in front of us when they got the register to pick up their games. BOTH had problems, because the non-manager people checking us out couldn't get the games.

Not that they hadn't set the 10 (or 4) aside of each, but rather we had tickets and all the ones set aside were already given out. When the first guy was up there, the girl helping him had to call a manager and I heard the manager clearly say that 'someone must be selling them without tickets', then he went in the back and came back with the games.

Same thing happens to the next guy, but he was getting a Wii console.

My turn, the girl helping me sent a guy to the back with both tickets, and only came back with the Wii Fit. Said there were no more Mario Karts. Before I could ask for the manager, she called him. Same manager as before came up, I told him I was #4 on line outside so the ticket was good. He again told the girl that someone was selling them without tickets. A few minutes later he comes back with my game.

So, why would they have games in the back, but not sell all of them? Several people outside were turned away who wanted Wii and Wii Fit. To me it sounded like they had a lot more in the back than what they were telling people. Or that they had set aside a bunch for friends and family and that was the stash they were hitting to get me my game.

I understand the logistics of a supply chain, so I know the machines and games were probably in store Thursday or Friday for sale today. I get that. But not selling what you have to your customers? What's up with that Best Buy?

Mario Kart for the WII

Courtney and I waited on line today at Best Buy to get a Wii Fit and Mario Kart for the Wii. I was up early with Christopher so I was able to read the paper and see that they had at least 10 per store. Courtney kept asking me when we were going, so I finally gave in and told her to bring a book.

I figured getting there at 10:30 would be fine, but she wanted to go at 10. Good thing. At 10 am we were 4th in line, by 10:30 there were a couple of dozen people waiting. The Best Buy Blue Shirt guy came out with tickets for Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Mario Kart, XBox something and the new 80 GB PS3. He had 10 for each, except Mario Kart, he only had 4 of those.

An hour and a half later, we had another Wii wheel, Wii Fit and Mario Kart and were on our way home.

Wow, this game is addictive. And silly as hell. Even Deb was shrieking, cussing and talking smack with the girls. Unfortunately after a few minutes our Wii motes died. We have 4 battery packs, but the girls haven't been recharging them. So we couldn't play for a couple of hours.

Tonight, Courtney and I played for about 30 minutes. She definitely is going to need a lot of drivers education ;-)

I want to get a game going after a few cocktails next weekend. This looks like it would be fun with a few beers! You get rocket packs, cliffs to fall off, banana peels to spin out on, walls you can ride sideways on and lots more fun stuff.

I can see why so many people want this game. We could have played for hours more, but the girls had to get in bed. Tomorrow is their first day back at school!

Random thought from Church today

Why did they have the smallest altar server (a girl) be the one holding the book for the priest when he's at least 6' 4"? He had to bend over to read it. Another girl on the alter was at least 5' 5" and could have done a better job.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It is good to be a boy part 3

Today I put a locking doorknob on the laundry room. When we moved into this house Meghan was just a little bit older than Christopher is now. Courtney has lived here her whole life. And we've never had to lock things down like we do with Christopher.

The dryer beeps, has a dial he can reach and he thinks it is fun to open and slam the door. Plus there are all kinds of arts and crafts things in the room to play with too. I also think he just likes to go into the small room and hide from his sisters ;-)

So now, we lock our laundry room. Upside: with it locked we give him more freedom around the downstairs since just about everything is out of his reach. For now. Did I mention he can climb really well?

I guess it is good to be a boy

They grow old so quickly ...

Sigh, 30 months

Yes, 20 MPG w/300+ HP

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Favre to the Jets?

Wow, that makes this season a lot more interesting. Article from the Daily News here.

A couple of thoughts
- well, at least he isn't playing for the damn Packers any more
- how many days until he gets hurt? (okay, I'm a closet Jets fan and I can't remember the last QB that didn't get hurt. Namath maybe?)
- the NY media is going to LOVE him, especially his wife ;-)
- Strahan is now a first ballot hall of fame'r. He's arguably the best of his 'class' now

Finally - maybe he can beat the damn Patriots too?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Grandpa is on Facebook ?!?!!

Well, not really.

I am 'friends' with a cousin in California and in her album is a picture of her with her sisters, her dad and my dad. Just a picture, but Meghan thought it was funny her grandfather was on facebook.

Yes, Meghan has a facebook page and so do I. Yes, I am one of her friends.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Teddy Bear for Molly?

As I mentioned previously, John and Katharine are in the process of adopting a baby girl, Molly.

Since we have a tradition in the Curtin family about getting stuffed animals for the nieces, Courtney saw this today and thought we should get it for Molly.

I think it is a little bit bigger than Winston, but John won't care.

(Yes, that is a 10 year old girl standing next to the stuffed animal.)

As for Christopher, he just wants tools and a new Mustang.

What the heck was I thinking?

This weekend is a tax holiday in GA, so no sales tax on clothes, school supplies and some other things. The idea is to get all the things needed to go back to school. Yes, my kids start school August 11Th.

For some very strange reason, when Deb asked me if I wanted to go to the mall to look for jeans for Courtney and pants for Christopher, I said 'sure'.

The place was a madhouse. I'm glad I don't work in retail, because the employees couldn't keep up with the clothes bring dropped on the floor, thrown back into the wrong place etc. I'm not implying that they weren't trying, they were. In each store there were several people trying to fold stuff and put it back, only to have someone rip the pile apart before they could walk away. I would have gone ballistic if that was me.

I still don't get why, when I'm pushing a stroller, do people crowd up against us and act surprised when I need to turn around the stroller to get away from the register? Being a little bit older (and crankier?) this time around with a child in a stroller, I use my rather commanding voice to say 'excuse me' and people usually move ;-)

One nice thing: on two different occasions parents told their kids to hold the door open for me and Christopher. usually no one helps you, but here two different parents are raising their kids right.

We spent 2 1/2 hours going into 3 or 4 stores, found a few things for each child. And had chocolate chip cookies. Double Doozies for Courtney and I ;-)

Deb is going back out in a few hours with Meghan and a friend to go shopping for clothes for middle and high schoolers (her friend is a Freshman this year.)

Flash back for those of you who grew up in the 80's. I was looking for Levi 501 button fly jeans in Sears and found WHITE ones. Yes, 80's style, white button fly jeans. Deb wanted me to buy them, but I declined.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Want Hannah Montana to call your kid (or boss?)

Just when you thought the DVR full of Hannah Montana episodes, movies and audio was enough, Walmart has a new idea: let Hannah Montana call your kid to wake them up or remind them of an event.

See here.

Personally, I am going to have her call a friend at 8 am to remind him of cheer leading practice. Or may be have her call my boss to remind him he has Choir Practice, at 3 am.

Limit is 5 messages per email address, but I can create hundreds of email addresses because of how my server is setup ...

Oh the possibilities for abuse here ;-)