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January 03, 2005

Christmas pictures

Ugh. Still run down from last week. The weekend was, um, difficult as will be explained in a different entry.

That means you have to make do with some pictures in the short term while I work up the strength to sit down and do justice to the entire trip:


This was Jack with his grandfather, Farmer Dad, on Christmas morning. Jack is sporting his Reyn Spooner Christmas 2004 shirt to ring in his first Christmas morning. (The shorts, while just as stylish, were not enough to keep up with the cold on the farm.) Notice the bemused stare of both of them.


The long awaited presentation of Jack to Louise, my dad's mom and widow of Jack's namesake. The initial meeting was one of wary looks as they sized each other up. I was halfway terrified he might snap her thighs like twigs with his weight.


After a few minutes it was all smiles and giggles. My father reports Louise thought that Jack was looking at her like he had never seen an old person before. I told my grandmother that when it came time to come up with a name for our son it just didn't seem right not to have a Jack in the world. She got awfully quiet and it was one of those moments that was more powerful than I ever imagined.

Another comment on Jack to my dad from Louise, "He sure doesn't have any flys on him!" It's the sort of compliment that just makes you grin when you get it.


My grandfather that raised me laughing it up with Two Foot Small. Granddaddy is 86 now and one of the main reasons we made the trip. He thought that Jack didn't like him until I pointed out that while holding Jack he accidentally clonked Jack's head on some furniture.


My grandmother that raised me holding the 20 pound monster that is our child. (He's wearing 12-18 month outfits now.) She was thrilled to see him but was heard to groan more than once while carrying him around the house.


Mary Jane Watson and the fabulous prize she got from me in the Holiday Secret Santa. After her initial reaction of "Oh. How nice." I broke out the gift I actually I got her: a VERY nice knife from her favorite cooking joint. Alas, she already had it. Never fear though. That autographed copy of "Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy" by Dirk Benedict is going up on Ebay where you will have a chance to fund Jack's college fund. (Donations are non-existant and I have to pay that higher education off somehow.)

That's it for the short term. Long write up will follow. I just have to try to sum it all up. Look for me to release it around noon on Tuesday our time. (I always proof it before inflicting it on you my dearest readers.)

Posted by Jim at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Christmas Part 1 or "Packing everything but the birdcage"

“How was your Christmas trip?”

That’s the gist of the emails I’ve received over the last week or so. Since we got back both of us have been swamped with work and my will to sit in front of the computer has been negligible. I know I promised an earlier write up but hopefully this will make up for it.

We left the Thursday before Christmas for Fabulous Babe’s parents. My wife packed everything she thought we would need for Jack. “Everything” as in “there isn’t a square inch left in the car for anything you may want to add so don’t try.”

On the way down Jack was a trooper. He slept most of the time and we only had one stop along the way. We got to Farmer Mom and Dad’s around 10. Unfortunately in her desire to wedge things into the car Fabulous Babe jammed up the front passenger seat. (Also causing an SRS Airbag message to flash for the rest of the journey.)

Christmas eve was low key. Jack was in a good mood. We went to Grand Ma Ma’s house and had dinner with some of the extended family. After that we headed back to the farm.

Christmas day was the next travel day. After lollygagging around in the morning we hit the road for My Old Kentucky home. (Politically incorrect lyrics won’t be reprinted here.) The drive was fine until we reached the last 20 miles of road in IN outside of Cincinatti. The roads were hardly cleared and we were one lane at 20 mph for a long time. After that the highways opened up and it was smooth sailing again.

We got to Ashland at around 8ish. My original plan had been to surprise my grandparents at church on Sunday morning. (I had told them we would arrive late Sunday.) Figuring some advance warning would be good we decided to go ahead and stop by. (Also allowing me to be free of that last damn Harry & David box whose companion was responsible for gumming up the seat.) When my grandmother opened the door she nearly went through the roof with excitement.

It’s hard on me to go so long without seeing my grandparents. The time that passes between my visits makes their aging seem all the more dramatic. Their excitement at seeing Jack the first time was worth the 950+ mile drive however.

By the way: If you ever pass through Ashland, KY on Christmas day make sure to pack some food. Nothing was open except for the really wretched “Asian” restaurants and a Subway at a truck stop populated by people that Fabulous Babe teased me about for days. “You ain’t from here are you?”

Sunday morning saw us head off to my old church for the service. This was the first portent of what was to come as Jack was a very unhappy baby throughout the service. I eventually got up and went downstairs with him. (I had enough sharp looks from some of the blue hairs that I took the hint.) I still got to see some people I used to know who all thought Jack was the spitting image of Fabulous Babe. *sigh*

After church we had lunch with my grandparents and Auntie Dearest who had come to the church service. (When she walked in I looked up to make sure the roof wasn’t going to hit Jack when it fell.) We tried to go to my grandparents 1st choice in restaurants but they were closed for the weekend. Such is life.

After lunch we took Jack to visit my other grandmother, Louise. I got pretty choked up when we placed Jack on her lap. She cooed over him and when she smiled and got him to smile I was struggling to keep it together. She fussed over him and I was lucky enough to get a pile of pictures and some videotape. (I’ll try to upload a piece of the video.)

I had one great grandparent growing up, my maternal grandmother’s mother, who I knew. (Granny died while I was a sophomore in high school.) While I know that Jack’s memories of this trip will be minimal all of last week was about making sure that the other people on the side of the great grandparent equation get to know him. I recognize that I can’t hope that all 4 of Jack’s great grandparents will survive long enough for him to have a relationship with them. I have to try to compromise which is something I abhor.

While visiting with Louise we had the luck of having some more family stop by: My aunt and uncle, my extended cousin Sarah, her boyfriend and her newborn son, Noah. (Noah was tiny compared to Jack.) They were in town to visit Sarah and Noah and had stayed to see Jack.

I should tell you that my uncle, my dad’s brother, is the source of many legends in our family. My personal favorite is that while in high school he was out with some friends, *cough* consumed some beer *cough*, and his friends walked him along the floodwall and got him to lay down and fall asleep. The problem: his arms and legs were hanging over the sides and he had a 10 foot drop on either side of him. My grandfather eventually found him and brought him home. My aunt, always one of my favorites, was my stepmother’s partner in crime when they went shopping for clothes for Jack.

By the time we left for the hotel because Jack was fussing like he needed a nap. Little did we know it was a portent of what was to come…

Posted by Jim at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2005

Christmas Part 2 or ?For everything else there?s Mastercard!"

Sunday evening we went to visit my friends who still live in Ashland. We got together at the house of the Kentucky Philosopher whose wife Selma is still on the fast path to sainthood. My Brother also came over with his wife and two girls.

Before I go too much farther you need a reminder about the wit of the Kentucky Philosopher: While working as a manager at a Transistor Town he once had a customer who demanded a refund on a computer that had been used and abused. After a few moments the KP realized that the customer wasn’t dealing with a full deck and gave him the refund just to be rid of him. A day later the customer came back and began complaining to another manager. The customer was demanding to be compensated for his time from the day before. The KP walked by only to be accused of being the reason for the need for compensation. Standing behind the other manager he heard the following:

Customer: “I looked like a fool yesterday. I demand you pay me for my time.”

Hapless manager: “Sir we gave you a full refund yesterday. Am I to understand that you want us to pay you for the time you were here yesterday?”

Customer: “No! I’m demanding that you compensate me for my looking dumb.”

Hapless and now perplexed manager: “Sir I don’t know how to put a price on that. I wouldn’t know how to request a check for that.”

Cheerful Kentucky Philosopher: “For everything else there’s Mastercard!”

Now imagine that same sense of humor in a new environment with infinite resources. That’s right. The Kentucky Philosopher is now working at the County Jail. It’s already led to such verbal showdowns as:

Prisoner: “Can I go outside for a walk?”

Kentucky Philosopher: “No.”

Prisoner: “Why not?”

Kentucky Philosopher: “Hello! Convict!”

Prisoner: “Oh. Yeah.”

Also on hand was our old friend Matt. I’m not saying that Matt lies a lot but the standing joke in our group is that were you to look hard enough in the Saraha desert you’ll find skeletons clutching Maps to the Holy land that Matt’s ancestors sold them. (“I don’t understand why we are lost! He looked like such an honest young man.”)

Early on Jack started to fuss and cry so Fabulous Babe thought it best if she took Jack back to the hotel while I stayed for a while. When I got back to the hotel at 10:00 Jack was still fussing. Soon the protests turned into a full blown, air raid siren quality, wail. Jack had developed an ear infection.

The little trooper kept us up to 2:00 that night. Finally he fell asleep in his car seat as I was preparing to take him for a drive to try to settle him. When he woke up the next day he was just as unhappy. We literally stayed in the hotel room until almost 3:00, losing an entire day.

If I sound bitter I don’t mean to. My son comes first and his health and well being are more important than anything. I know how hard it is to travel with kids and that’s what made our losing a day all the more painful. Fabulous Babe’s family can travel to see us far easier than any of my family. I’m afraid the next time we’re going to be back to Kentucky it will be for a funeral.

Posted by Jim at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

Christmas Sidebar: A sad slave to dialup

While talking with my friends on Sunday night I heard a tale of desperation so funny I had to share it with you.

The Kentucky Philosopher and Matt received a frantic phone call from a friend who was having trouble with his computer. After assuring him everything would be ok they went over to have a look and see what was wrong.

The problem was simple: the computer was clogged with 4+ gigabytes of nudie .jpg files. That’s right. 4+ gig of still images of naked women. *sigh*

In discussing the tale of woe all of us agreed that having 4+ gig of nudie still pictures is sad enough on its own. We did have to admit grudging respect in one respect: This massive quantity of illicit pictures, illicit since he has to hide them from his mom because he lives at home, was downloaded via dialup. That’s right. No broadband, no ISDN. This huge amount of porn was all via his 56K modem.

This greatly explained his anxiety in retrospect. This represented at least several years worth of work. *chuckle*

For the rest of Sunday night all you had to do was hunch over, mimic holding a mouse, and say “I sure hope this one is cute” to get a belly laugh from everyone in the room.

Posted by Jim at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Ol' Stumpy!

How can a Monday be bad when this is what I have greet me after stumbling out of bed:


I had to sit Jack up to get the picture but he was just as happy that way as he was while prone. Thus my lunch is spent typing this up.

My morning routine is usually this: I get out of bed, check on Jack, take my shower, start to wake Jack, get dressed and then dress Jack. In the couple of minutes it takes for me to get dressed Jack usually rubs his eyes and start to babble a bit.

This morning he started ?talking? and laughing as soon as I opened the door. The entire time I was dressing he was carrying on while I listened over the monitor.


That?s a picture of Jack from when I was dressing him this morning. (He gave me a running commentary the entire time.) I realize that the site of my son bare-chested causes some swooning among you but just glance at the laundry basket next to his head for a quick recovery.

Since Jack?s now wearing the 12-18 month outfits and weighs somewhere between 20 and 21 pounds I?ve taken to calling him ?Ol? Stumpy, the largest catfish in the pond!? in a horrible backwoods country voice. He usually laughs when I do it and giggles as I raise him over my head like a big mouthed bass. Before you ask I'll just tell you: I?ve no idea where it comes from but Fabulous Babe is hoping modern medicine will cure me eventually.


Dino boy shot me a yawn after I got him dressed and posed again. All in all his good mood continued without a break in smiling.


Here?s the parting shot of the morning. He looks a little perplexed because before I handed him over to Dawn, head baby wrangler at the ranch, I smothered him in kisses and told him I loved him. This embarrassed him so much that he started to cry for the shame of having a father who would dare to show emotion. Realizing my mistake I handed him off and he quit immediately.

Go figure.

Posted by Jim at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

"Hey! Cold hands!"

Jack had his 6 month checkup on Thursday. At this point we have them every 3 months to chart his progress and growth.


That's Doctor Molotov's assistant, Mistress Judy of the Lash. Don't let the pastel flowers lull you for one moment. Here you can see her lecturing Jack on his poor posture. Her riding crop is just out of the picture.


An action shot with Doctor Molotov. Here you can also witness the frightening extent of Jack's mullet. Before she walked in we took Jack for the "Just landed Ol' Stumpy" weigh in: 19 pounds, 14 ounces. He's approximately 26 inches long give or take the squirming. All in all he swept the percentiles at 95th in all categories.


What's a doctor visit without a cold hand on the backside? Alas Jack was unable to escape the clutches of Doctor Molotov despite pleading with mom off camera. Go figure.

Posted by Jim at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

Jack's bound for Bollywood!

When Jack's godfather, El Jefe, came for the baptism he brought Jack a wonderful set of Kurta pajamas from India. Unfortunately it was a bit big at the time and we had to wait for Jack to grow a bit before we could have it cycle into the rotation. (It's also just a tad thin for Minnesota winters.) Although it will probably fit better over the spring months here goes:


Dashing and handsome isn't he? I'm tempted to get in touch with Aishwarya Rai and see if she'll be willing to babysit him one night. (Who you ask? *sigh* Go here.) I'm thinking that Jack's level of hotness, as inherited from Fabulous Babe, will simply increase with the help of El Jefe.


Apple Snout then decided to destroy the moment by devouring his hand. He's doing that a lot lately. Despite all the signs we have no teeth yet. With our luck he'll just grow fangs.


Mrs. Racetrack came over to watch the Vikings lose today. In tow was Miss Kate. (Mr. Racetrack is whooping it up in FL this week.) We got some great shots of the kids and I thought this one was outstanding. Kate has the befuddled "Why am I here?" look for her mother while Jack has the sly "I'm up to something!" for Fabulous Babe.

This is a vast improvement over the last time Kate was over where she tried to eat Jack. *whew*

Posted by Jim at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

New Year's Eve or "We really are too old for this."

I know I'm doing this out of order. (I haven't finished up Christmas yet.) That being said I need to tell you the story of our New Years Eve.

Mr. Racetrack decided a month or two ago that he wanted to treat some of us to a night on the town. He offered to hire a babysitter for the kids, retain a limo to ferry us around and treat us to a big New Years celebration. Neither Fabulous Babe or I could remember the last time we were out at a party for New Years like this and had been really looking forward to it.

The evening started out with some snacks and drinks at the Racetracks. Jack and Kate were pretty good and settled down before the babysitter arrived. Although one of the other couples had to back out there were 6 of us headed off into the cool night air: Mr. and Mrs. Racetrack, his friends the Married with Kids and Fabulous Babe and myself. The ladies looked hot and, well, the husbands just tried not to look too dorky. (Mr. Racetrack trumped all of us in an Armani shirt but then refused to wear his pimp glasses when we initially laughed when we saw them.)

The first stop was St. Paul to have drinks. The bar was packed with people having a great time in the low lights the booths and tables offered. The tone of the evening had been set earlier when, in a discussion of bad drinking habits, Fabulous Babe claimed that her college days had been spent drinking at a "Big Ten" school. Indeed the Married with Kids were having their first night out in a long time and after the first round proclaimed they weren't used to drinking like that. By the time we loaded into the limo to go to the club we were all in good spirits.

When we got to the next place we saw the line to get in which Mr. Racetrack assured us was for those NOT on the guest list. Leaving coats behind we followed him up to the bouncer who, checking the list, ushered us in.

It was then that we discovered that Mr. Racetrack had worn his flashy attire for good reason. Being far hipper than any of the rest of us he had scored us V.I.P. seats at The Lounge. (www.theloungempls.com)

This is what we saw when we walked in:


Oh yeah. We see THAT in the burbs every day.

This place was packed with beautiful people. Wall to wall. It was like when I went out with the guys in Toronto and we would head to Industry and get home at 4 a.m. reeking of smoke, beer and the assorted miasma of the club scene. I instantly felt old which must be a sure sign of parenthood.

We were escorted to our private booth which was veiled in gauze. The seats were covered in shag carpeting and the drinks were even more potent. At that point we all bowed to Mr. Racetrack as the ultimate host.

The next few hours saw the ladies dancing their butts off. I tried my hand at dancing for a bit, had some drinks and laughed myself sore watching the antics of the young and intoxicated. (The mens room had more women than men in the line at one point.) It was a blast and a wonderful glimpse into a life that, having a small child, isn't quite what you're capable of every night.


Strangely enough someone at the Lounge realized how hip Mr. Racetrack was and captured his image on film, that's him on the lower left. (I'm certain it was the women dancing that inspired the photo but whatever works.) Mrs. Racetrack is directly to his right lecturing their friends with the righteous fury that only a few cocktails brings. There are other photos on their site you can cast an eye on but none of them have any of the rest of our group.

At around 1:30 the women came back to the furry couch and crashed. Realizing it was time to go we called the limo driver and started to head back. That was when it hit.

In leaving it was obvious that Fabulous Babe, wearing her outfit with the really styling leather vest, wasn't feeling so good. (Neither was Mr. Racetrack's high school buddy.) I asked the limo driver what the emergency vomit procedures were and he handed over several empty plastic ice cream tubs.

Not a moment too soon.

My wife, a former member of the college drinking team at "a Big Ten" school, hottie mom of my gorgeous son, was horribly ill. I do mean horribly ill. Soon after so was Mr. Married with Kids. At one point I was bookended by folks being sick.

After letting them get everything out of their system I had the driver pull over so I could dump the buckets. (I had enough of this in high school.) By the time I got back in they were sprawled out in separate corners of the limo almost asleep with amused spectators watching.

We got home without any further events of an upchuck nature and soon were walking across the street with me carrying Jack and Mrs. Racetrack helping Fabulous Babe. After tucking Jack in I tucked my spouse in and put my head on the pillow.

The next morning I was up with Jack when Fabulous Babe came downstairs.

"Good morning Mrs. "Parties like a rock star.""

"I'm still drunk."

"That explains why almost every hour you woke me up last night to tell me how awesome the bongo player was at the club."


"Do you realize how ironic it is when the person bragging about drinking in college was the first to be sick?"

*FB sticks tongue out*

That's it. We're officially old and busted. No more new hottness, just old busted parents.

That being said...


He really was a great bongo player.

Posted by Jim at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Cost / Benefit

There are costs to being a parent. You find yourself constrained in ways you never expected or imagined. Quick trips to the store are an entirely different affair than what they used to be that require planning around schedules, feedings, etc.

I find that frustration at not being able to carry on 2 way communication is easily one of the worst things that go with the territory. When Jack is crying and tears are pouring down his face it’s maddening to witness the emotional turmoil but not be able to find out the specific cause. You’re down to reading body language and blind luck.

Jack’s battling either a head cold or another ear infection. We’re not sure which lottery we’ve won but either way it makes for a very unhappy Junior Woodchuck. He’ll cry and the only thing that dams the flow of the saltwater is to nuzzle him and speak in quiet and low tones that assure him that you’ll do everything you can to keep harm away.

The rewards are tremendous and far outweigh the unpleasant times. We’ve had three momentous occasions this week. Be warned that we are moving into the seas of proud parenting.

On Monday Jack rolled over most of the time he was at Daycare. Granted he was unable to roll BACK over but it’s farther than he has come so far. There was much rejoicing and the Captain ordered a 2nd ration for all of the men at the oars in celebration and a suspension of the lash for 10 minutes.

Last week Jack unveiled his newfound grasp at moving his face around. To this effect he now makes an “unhappy” face that is more grimace and squint than anything else. All efforts to capture this image have failed so far but I remain hopeful.

Finally the least important is that also on Monday night I discovered that Lord Goofball has finally developed a couple of ticklish spots below his armpits. On Monday night I was making faces with him and carrying on when I tried tickling him. Where previously my efforts have been for naught, this time was different. This time I was treated to great a great gale of laughter as Jack tried desperately to wiggle out of my grasp.

After a long first day at work for the week having a 6 month old looking up at you with wide eyed mirth is a really plus.

Children come first in life before all other things. It’s when they laugh with you that you realize how correct that equation is.

Posted by Jim at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

Post Holiday Mail Call

I've had some interesting mail in the last month or so. (Even excluding the offers from Nigeria.) Here's where yours truly tries to answer those occasional letters from you, my dear readers.

"Why don't I see my comments right away?"

A little while ago I threw the switch that no longer let comments be posted immediately without my approval. This means that I now can review them and release them for publication. This pretty much put an end to your seeing ads for various medicines or enhancing products. All comments or observations are still going up on the website, there's just a slight delay.

"You don't post every day!"

I realize that you read this with the expectation of high adventure and daring exploits. Alas dear readers we're far more boring than that. (Well I am. Fabulous Babe is far more exciting than I.) Sometimes I get home and there just isn't anything to write about or I'm not in the mood or have one of my infernal headaches. Realize that guilt soon has me back at the keyboard. ;-)

"Why are your pictures so big?"

I resize them before posting but leave them at the higher resolution so that family can save them and keep them. Despite using dialup I haven't had any complaints about load time. If you are having difficulty let me know.

"I want to start my own blog! What do you recommend I use?"

I really like the Moveable Type interface. I recommend it and suggest you see if it works for you. It's flexible and easily customized. I'm an HTML amateur and am still ok with the look of the site so far.

"What do you think about _____________." (Usually a political issue.)

This weblog is about the misadventures of our raising our son. I'm trying to make sure that this website has a universal appeal that transcends the folly of so much of modern political squalor. 'Nuff said.

"Do you advertise?"

No. Haven't really thought about it. Not sure it would generate any revenue.

"Do you link to other websites?"

I haven't but am currently re-thinking that matter. I'm beginnning to think that having reciprocal permanant links to those who have been kind enough to link to me would be a bad thing. That being said...

If you want me to post a link to your site please email me. I would ask that you include the link to the page you want people to land on.

"How's your new coat?"

Warm. I was mocked the first few times I wore it but when the average daily temperature got to -30 with the wind the mocking ceased. Ha!

"Are you still playing City of Heroes?"

Yes. Victory Server. My main character is the Last Templar. Add me to your friends list and keep an eye open. (Friday and Saturday nights for the most part.) Email me if you want more details. I roped Moose into the game so we'll soon be forming our own superteam.

"Can you tell me what my old train is worth?"

Sure. Again send me the specifics via email and I'll see what I can do. I mostly offer to give a good home to old trains much to the lament of Fabulous Babe. With Jack's arrival my purchases have dropped off greatly but I'm always one to look at something.

More as I get them.

Posted by Jim at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

More early morning Jack


With that much cuteness how can I be annoyed that he woke us up at 5:00 this morning?

Little stinker.

Posted by Jim at 05:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Sideways Bob...

Jack's mobility is increasing. This despite not yet being able to roll over from his face to his back, sit up on his own, etc.

On Sunday I discovered that Jack had rotated 90 degrees after falling asleep. His feet were stuck in the bars of one side of the crib and his head was pressed against the other. He wasn't uncomfortable but he was certainly not moving any farther. After this display his nickname of the day was "Sideways Bob" for the rest of the day.

I love him but what a nutbar. At this rate when he takes his drivers test he'll probably just roll the car.

Posted by Jim at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

First tooth!

We spotted the cause of all drooling yesterday: Jack's got a white spot on his lower gum that can only be his first tooth. While he's been drooling for weeks the output had increased dramatically last week and this was our confirmation of things to come.

The tooth can't arrive soon enough. Jack's eating food twice a day now and has the poop to show for it. If you wonder what the difference between Stage 1 Diaper Genie refills and Stage 2 is I can clue you in with two words: lead lined. Ugh.

Of course Jack's also bashful about said tooth. Every time we tried to get a better look at it on Sunday he stuck his tongue out. It was like some sort of silly game. Finally we gave up and he started to open wide like a great white rolling it's eyes back as it zooms in on a hapless Australian swimmer.

Posted by Jim at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

Dinner for two and a baby.

We went out on Saturday evening for a couple of things, namely two new car seats to replace the baby seat that Jack has managed to outgrow at a record pace.

$400+ dollars later we stopped at the Mall of America to have some dinner and do a little shopping. While we were there we ate at the best kept secret in the horrid Temple of Retailing: Napa Valley Grille.

The Napa Valley Grille is like an island of sanity in the otherwise horrid MOA. It's nice but not so nice that you feel out of place for eating in jeans. It's quiet and the lights are low which is a nice change of pace to something like the California Cafe which offers diners a spectacular view of... Camp Snoopy.

We ended up sitting at a table that was right next to the concourse which was fine by us. The entertainment was free and the food was great. Fabulous Babe had a wine flight and I kept Jack entertained. It was a dinner date along the lines of something we haven't had in a while.

The next time you visit the MOA seek out the Napa Valley Grille. You won't be disappointed.

Follow up:

After the nice comment below I thought I better clarify the car seat business. Before Jack was born we purchased a stroller, infant seat, and two bases for our two cars. In theory this would have lasted until Jack was a year old and 20 pounds. Jack, being fed Miracle grow daily by Fabulous Babe, is already 20 pounds at 7 months. Add to this that Jack is hanging over the sides and has to be wedged into the seat at this point. All of which leads to our having to buy new seats.

Why two? It's easier to leave them in the car than to try and disconnect one and remove it every time we drop the Junior Woodchuck at daycare or pick him up. You only have to spend a half an hour strapping a car seat in once to understand the wisdom of this. Sure it doubles the cost but the domestic tranquility is worth any price. Hell hath no fury like a new mother who suffers under the delusion that the baby seat can be moved more than 1 inch from true. (I still have scars.)

We went with the Britax Roundabout. It seemed to offer everything we needed and will hopefully last a bit longer than the Peg Perrigo did. (I'm still convinced it's Italian for "Baby Ferrari" or some such.)

Colors? Fabulous Babe went with a nice blue canvas and I went with leopard skin.

Posted by Jim at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

Train Redux

Ok. Here's the deal: This post is about trains. If you want to skip it that's fine by me. No harm, no foul. I'm not contemplating making this a full time model train blog so relax.

Here's what I'm working on right now:


That's a Lionel #10 engine from about 1925-1930. (Closer to 1925 based on a few things.) It was one of their best sellers for years. It's been stripped of the motor, brass fittings, and other things so that I could bead blast it clean.


That's the cab and frame after I bead blasted it to remove the paint and rust. Beneath the powder residue the metal is as clean as the day it was made. It's just wonderful.

I'm having a blast with this engine. It's not my usual O-Gauge, it's Standard Gauge which is a bit larger than O-gauge. My goal is to eventually have this be our "Christmas Train" under the tree every year. The idea of adding a car or engine every year after going to the effort of restoring it is very appealing.

I love the older trains like this and this is giving me a chance to do some hands on things that modern stuff doesn't really allow. It's the idea that this has been knocking around as long as my grandparents that makes it all the more fun.

I give good homes to old trains. If you know someone with trains that need to be loved, appreciated or taken care of have them get in touch with me. Most of my stuff is Lionel but everything that finds its way to my basement will be taken care of.

That's all. I'll post more updates as they are appropriate. (With proper warning for you train loathing types.)

Engineer Jim

Posted by Jim at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2005

Of keepsakes and Prom photos...

When I was younger I once came upon a box under my grandmothers bed of all of my school papers, report cards, etc. What struck me as things that should just be thrown away were things that she wanted to keep for sentimental value.

Since Jack’s been born I already have a few things that I know I want to hold on to. His soggy froggy is one. A scrap of wallpaper left over from where we wallpapered his room is another. There are a couple of outfits that I want to make sure we keep and the blanket my grandmother knitted for him.

Of the two of us I’m the sentimental one. Fabulous Babe is the “I did an inventory and we have one too many of that” kind of gal. This difference is best summed up in Christmas cards: I want to keep the really great ones from each year and she wants to toss the whole lot after harvesting addresses.

Why am I this way?

Easy: I was traumatized over my Senior Prom pictures.

That was the year I took a friend who had recently transferred to a Catholic high school after having a nervous breakdown in class. (What can I say? Anthropology is a rough class in a Kentucky public school.) All things being said it was hellish in the way that only a high school prom can be: I had awful 80’s hair but my date’s dress was low cut so it’s not like anyone noticed. We went to dinner, got photos taken and then went to the dance. (If you’re into celebrities I should point out I graduated with Ashley Judd. If I remember correctly her prom dress was black and gold.)

We had Prom in early May and were out by June. My job was to split the pictures with my date when they came in and get them to her.

My next door neighbor, Paper Boy, went to the same Catholic high school as my date. Unfortunately he was a tool that I didn’t have much to do with. Paper Boy had punched a girl named Denise in the jaw during class after she proved he had lied about something. Paper Boy was then told by the Nun in the class that if he didn’t leave immediately she would tell the 6 guys holding Denise back to let go of her and that he would get everything he deserved. (It was clear that Denise would have slaughtered him.) Needless to say my trust in his ability to complete a simple task like delivering pictures was nil.

The next step takes one of those weird Twilight Zone like turns. Shortly after receiving the pictures we had company coming over. In an effort to straighten the living room my grandfather scooped the pictures up and then put them inside a book which he promptly shelved.



I didn’t realize what had happened to them until I asked him where they were a week or two later. He couldn’t remember the book. I went through all of them and never found them. Puzzled I thought sure they would turn up. Of course they didn’t.

Months go by. Years go by. Eventually, almost 5 years after the fact, I’m at my Brother’s house one night when my old prom date shows up to hook up with her old flame who was now back in town. Watching the two of them circle for dominance was almost as frightening as the words spilling out of their mouths. Sure enough like two love crazed Bengal tigers they left together. Not, however, before I got reamed about never having delivered the pictures. “They’re the only pictures from a school dance I don’t have copies of!”


So I went home that night. I looked. I spent the next few days tearing the library apart. There wasn’t a single book that I didn’t look in, under, above, etc.


I gave up. They became a running joke with everyone and testimony to how safe something left in the care of my grandfather is. “It’s so safe you aren’t allowed to handle it anymore.”

You would think that was it. That they were lost and gone and never would be found again.

When I was living in Baltimore, sometime around 1994 or 1995, I was talking to my grandfather on the phone.

“I saw those pictures the other day.”

“Huh?” (His statement had nothing to do with what we were talking about.)

“Those dance photos. I saw them.”

“What dance photos?”

“The one with you and the girl in the blue dress.”

“What did you do with them?” (Now realizing what he was talking about.)

“I figured they were safe there so I put them back.”

“Do you remember what book it was?”



Now, if there is any sort of sentimental attachment, I keep it. I keep it where I can find it. That and I don't let my grandfather keep it safe.

P.S. Thanks to my Brother's wife, Miss Lilly, for reminding me of this tale of woe. (That's what comments are for folks.) Let's also be clear. If I ever find the darn things I will overnight them to my Prom date. Ed.

Posted by Jim at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

"Kids! It's 15 degrees! It's warm enough for Recess! Time to go outside!"

This is what was waiting for me when I pulled up at Miss Dawn's Day Spa for the Small & Troublesome.


That's our boy! Snow suit, hat and bib in a combo that makes Huggy Bear jealous. His daycare playmate is behind him probably wondering why the stroller is tipping towards the front. (It's called 20 pounds of Jackness there bub.) I like how Jack is giving the arm signal for a left. That or he's simply unable to move his arm. Oh well.


I'm not sure which is cuter: The look or the duck bib to keep him from having icicles hanging down his face like a scary old man beard. Either way Mrs. Dawn is doing wonders to keep him between her and the camera.

Posted by Jim at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)