Renaissance man

2004/12/05 at 16:10

I don’t mean to blow my own horn, but I’m a man of many talents. Yesterday, I baked two different types of Christmas cookies; today I pulled up the bathroom toilet (though I think I’ll hire a contractor to replace the rotten sub-flooring under the toilet). Last weekend, I sewed a Christmas tree skirt and hemmed pants for the kids.

More cute dogs

2004/12/03 at 10:16

Speaking of cute dogs, one of my favorite sites is The Daily Oliver. Canadian Dean Allen, who lives in rural southern France, posts a photo every day of his Weimaraners Oliver and Hugo (he named the site when he only had Oliver). A visit to the site always brightens my day.

No snow this year

2004/11/23 at 11:50

A battered round plastic sled came along when we moved back to Austin from New Jersey in 1997. After a couple of years of no use, it made its way to the attic. When we moved to our current house two years ago, the sled, along with a couple of other unused items lurking at the back of the attic, got left behind.
Well, since we’ve lived in this house, we’ve had two opportunities to sled: a severe ice storm two years ago, and a little bit of snow on Valentine’s Day last winter. In both instances, we had to try our luck with cardboard or stand in line to use the sled that one family in the neighborhood dug out of their attic.
After last spring’s snow, I promised the kids that I would buy a sled before this winter. I used an Amazon.com gift certificate to buy this bad boy. But as Katie keeps telling me, having a sled pretty much guarantees that we won’t get any snow or ice for the foreseeable future.

Fascinating personal fact #4,331,017

2004/11/22 at 08:15

When I was a kid, my mother had a small poodle (toy size, I think) named Chanel. In the car, Chanel would ride on the back of the seat behind my mother’s neck–or, when cars started coming with headrests, wedged between my mother’s neck and the headrest.

The real Stan Taylor

2004/11/09 at 16:17

In case you’re wondering, I am not that Stan Taylor:
Stan_Taylor.jpg

Peeing with Zeal

2004/09/27 at 12:30

I’m a sucker for blog postings where the author humorously shares about the craziness of parenthood. Like this one, for instance:

When you have kids, helping them out in the bathroom becomes a part of your life. So much so, that you forget just what a pain in the ass it is until they become fully potty trained. Then there’s this crazy feeling of re-gained freedom. Like when that warm water plugging up your ear finally trickles out, or taking off that annoying condom. (If you’re really curious about this whole potty-training thing, try the second one.)

What I most enjoy about my son’s self-reliance in this department is the zeal with which he does it.

He doesn’t just go quietly about his business. First he runs around the house in a near frenzy, announcing to each individual “I HAVE TO MAKE PEE PEE!!!” After a few minutes of this, he finally makes it to the bathroom.
I find it refreshing that he’s taken a routine task, and turned it into a bonafide event. Zeal!

Could you imagine if I started doing this at work? Actually, I think we should all try it.

Before you excuse yourself from your next meeting, run around the office shouting “I HAVE TO MAKE PEE PEE!” And remember, it’s not just shouting it, but taking the time to shout it at each person in the vicinity. Oh, and don’t forget to grab your crotch. (As if you need prompting.)

Zeal: you shall be ours. Along with unemployment.

Guides to Life

2004/09/09 at 09:35

In a recent blog post, Lance Arthur shares some insights about therapy, but I think they’re good advice for life in general:

Your therapist knows what your problems are pretty early, but they have to allow you to discover them for yourself or you won’t believe them, and/or you’ll be so quick to believe them that the discover itself has no meaning to you and you think you’re cured simply because you now understand what’s wrong, but that’s only the first step in a long, laborious process.

Knowing what’s wrong isn’t really helpful. It’s a step along the way, and it has a certain satisfaction, but it isn’t the resolution. It’s like cooking. You set out the ingredients and there they all are, sitting there, the sugar and butter and flour and salt and baking soda and semi-sweet chocolate chips and brown sugar… but that’s not cookies, is it? It’s what makes up the cookies, but you have a lot to do before it’s cookie time.

Saying things out loud changes them. You’re constantly telling yourself things internally, things about how you feel, or “woe is me” things, or ideas about how you’re feeling and why. It’s only when you say it out loud that, suddenly, and for whatever reason, it turns real. It hasn’t changed… but it has.

However you feel about yourself, you’re right. There is no wrong. You can be wrong about the reasons, and you can be wrong about the person you are (characteristics and behaviors and so on, the things that physically manifest based on the way you think you out to be) but you’re never wrong about how you feel. Feelings are just that, and trying to control them is an exercise in futility.

You can’t force anyone to do anything they aren’t ready to do, including yourself. You can’t force yourself to be happy. You can’t logic your way out of it or into it. There are always reasons, but you may not be able to see them or verbalize them or understand them.

Words can fail you, but they’re only words. Don’t think that because you can’t describe the way you feel or why that it isn’t real. Words may come later, so don’t let that frustrate you.

It’s sometimes more important to understand something than to believe it.

Parry dogs

2004/09/07 at 09:19

Last week, Gordon Atkinson wrote about his youngest daughter mispronouncing ‘ponytail band’ in her childish way.
This past weekend, Mawmaw came to visit us, and she had goodies for the kids from her recent bus trip across the western U.S., including a book about ‘parry dogs’ for Samuel. I agree with Gordon: I should cherish childhood while it lasts.

Putting down roots

2004/09/03 at 15:52

We’ve lived in Pflugerville for over seven years now, but until recently, it’s just been the place where our house is located. We led significant parts of our lives in other parts of the Austin area: work, church, kids’ school, etc.
Eighteen months ago, we bought a different home within Pflugerville, and things started to change. First off, we (and especially the kids) have made quite a few friends in the neighborhood. I attribute a lot of that to the lack of privacy fences and the greenbelt behind our house where the neighborhood kids play.
We decided a few months ago to try to take root in Pflugerville: first step, we joined Pflugerville First United Methodist Church. We’ve also taken the kids out of private school. Hannah just started fourth grade at the public school two blocks from home, and Samuel is attending the preschool at our church. Turns out, Samuel’s preschool teacher lives a couple of blocks from us, and we run into her every day at the elementary school.
All in all, our plan to take root here is going pretty well. It sure feels good not to have to drive the kids all over creation to school. Unfortunately, Katie and I both still work far away and do a lot of commuting, but that’s a much bigger challenge, given our professions.
I think I’m particularly sensitive to the sense of rootlessness in modern American urban and suburban lifestyles, since I grew up in the country. In any case, it feels very good to become more a part of our community.

Stuck in my head

2004/08/31 at 16:38

I pretty much always have a song playing in my head. Normally, the songs rotate pretty frequently, except for two cases: if I’ve listened to the same music repeatedly (which I tend to do with new CDs) or, I just remembered, when I’m singing in a choir.
Occasionally, I overdose on a new CD and get really tired of the song(s) in my head. If I stop listening to that music, the song will eventually change to something else.

But now that I’ve started singing in a church choir again, I remember that there’s a different dynamic to the songs that get stuck in my head. Rehearsing and performing a choral piece seems to lodge music more firmly in my head than just listening to it (which makes sense). I’ve had last Sunday’s anthem replaying all week–and I didn’t really like it in the first place! Maybe it’ll be replaced after Wednesday night’s rehearsal. I hope so, because I’m REALLY tired of it.