« November 2005 | Main | January 2006 »

December 01, 2005

"It's like that AC/DC song..."


But it appears I've already travelled the highway and am now in Hell. (At least that's what the milage seems to indicate.)

When I got into the car the other day and saw this I thought it was either a.) a sign or b.) a warning. Who would have thought a run to Target was so perilous or that my car bears the number of the beast?

Posted by Jim at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

"True Love or Eye Beams?"

Night time became much more interesting since Jack developed Eye Beams. Proof?


"I said I wanted my milk warm!"

Jack, while preparing to fry the sippy cup to a cinder, looks pretty spiffy in his winter pj's. I got them a few weeks ago when the sun was actually visible in the sky. If you look closely you can see the symbol of all that Jack holds dear: a wrench. If our son was a superhero his name would be Wrenchboy. The boy likes his hardware.

Posted by Jim at 01:15 AM | Comments (0)


So we're on the brink of getting Jack to ramp down from his Nuk. The only time we give them to him is at night when he goes to bed and on the long and awful car rides we have made him suffer though. I'm a little more patient that Fabulous Babe on the matter but we're both wanting to make sure he's through with them soon.

Let me give you a tip for those of you who have a child of Nuk using age: replace the things every 2-4 months. They just get nasty after a while and no amount of boiling is going to keep them clean. I looked at Jack's the other night and recoiled in horror. I know I boiled them for 5-10 minutes but in no time the creeping crud was back.

On a similar note make sure you aren't using one size for all ages. They come in different sizes for different ages. Again a lesson that I wish I had known earlier.

The Nuks make the teeth cutting an easier time but I saw a 4 year old the other day with one and it wasn't pretty.

Posted by Jim at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

"I just need a Christmas party..."


Jack's taken to wearing Tupperware bowls on his head. (He usually fetches them from the cabnet when we aren't looking.) This one just happened to be a bit more in line with Christmas than the usual Cool Whip containers...

Posted by Jim at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

"He's back!"


I just finished my last test and couldn't be happier. That's Jack looking laid back and happy for me. I could use a sippy cup of beer right now. (lol)

So how did it all end?

Geography was an "A" but not much of a surprise there. I'm usually pretty good when it comes to maps, cultures, etc. I'm not one to have maps of every major city memorized but I do know where the Falkland Islands are. Ironically when Fabulous Babe was headed to Hong Kong and Beijing I was taking a test on China.

Biology. Ugh. This was easily the worst of the three. If you wonder why my updates have been few and far between blame Biology. I am not a physical sciences person and despite the subject matter getting better as the time went on I still had to lock myself into a closet and memorize vast chapters of the textbook. My hard work paid off: another "A" which was unexpected. This was the course that had me the most frazzled and is responsible for emails going unanswered, phone calls going unreturned, etc. Apologies and forgiveness is begged.

IT 101. Don't have my final grade yet but I'm expecting something "B"-ish. I nailed the homework which was 50% of the course. (High 90's for all 4 areas.) The problem was the dippy interface that you use to take the tests. It opens the applications in a window and it's so quirky that it records accidental movements as attempted answers. I did ok on the first test, a solid 84%, but the second test, the one I just finished, was a 75%. Ugh. I would have been better off just to take Geology 101. Ha ha.

I have oodles of pictures and stories but right now I'm going to bed. It's been a long couple of weeks, the tests are over and while there were some surprises at the end I'm just glad to have it over and done with.


Posted by Jim at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2005

Ho ho ho, here's your tree.

Most years I'm dispatched to go find a tree and bring it back. This year we had a new assistant to our crew of tree erectors:


Jack watched in amazement as we hauled this in and then planted it in the tree stand. Once we got it up and set he began running up to it and touching it as if it wasn't really there. Pretty funny.

You'll notice we have God's most formidable tree stand. This was purchased after we lost a tree to Fabulous Babe's old tree stand the first year in our house. (As well as a pile of very nice Christopher Radko ornaments that I had given Fabulous Babe for our first Christmas together.) It's a tree stand designed for 15 foot trees which is a lot of overkill considering our trees never top out more than 9 feet.

Being Jack's first Christmas with some awareness makes this a pretty special year. We're thinking that he's going to be a lot of fun on the 25th. (I've already been planning to have the camcorder batteries charged up and plenty of videotape.) Big things await.

Posted by Jim at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

"It's the hat that draw's the ladies..."


Jack went to the Wild game last week and lo and behold he ran into Miss Brittney. She and her mom came to sit with us for a while and it seemed a good time for a picture.

The Coonskin hat was, of course, a huge hit with everyone in the section except, of course, Jack's mom. Fabulous Babe still hates it.

Ha ha.

Posted by Jim at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

"Like Molbaks with winterizing."

When we lived in Seattle we used to go to Molbak's all the time. It's a huge nursery in Woodinville that was family owned and operated. (Loads of great pictures to see here: Molbaks. )

The local version is Gerten's which is larger in size and sprawl. It's usually where I go for our plants and the staff is exceptional.

For our annual Christmas party I always head over for some decorative plants. Here's the centerpiece of our table:


I love the sight of a field of Poinsettias. There's just something peaceful about the sight and smell of all those plants that makes me relax. I could spend hours walking through the rows and brushing the leaves with the tips of my fingers.

Posted by Jim at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

"Do you think Mom would like a coffee mug?"


Sometimes the pictures just happen without any posing. Honest. He grabbed the Target flyer and just started turning pages.

Posted by Jim at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

"Normally we would grease his cheeks with bear fat."

On Friday it was a whopping 8 degrees. As party prep continued we let Jack run around outside for a while to burn off some energy:


In case you're wondering that is his "Oh $hit it's cold out here!" face.

Posted by Jim at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

"Terrible Two's are just around the corner..."

Jack's begun testing us a lot. He's pushing on boundries more and more which is normal with kids at his age. We have to say "No" more often and sometimes more than once.

Most times he just totters off and tries to find more trouble. Every now and then we get this:


Full meltdown.

Usually it lasts for just a couple of minutes and then everything is ok again. He's not got enough energy to really go all out with an eardrum shattering tantrum. Jack goes from upset to frustrated when we don't react to his outbursts. All part of the psychological warfare that is parenting.

Posted by Jim at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

"How do you know your wife watches too much of the Food Network?"


When your child begins to leave offerings of Juice Boxes on the altar of the television in hopes that the channel will change.

Sad really.

Posted by Jim at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

"Fabulous Babe's study buddy."

Meet Mrs. Partner in Crime:


That's a shot of her I took on Saturday night at our Christmas party. She's in Fabulous Babe's MBA class and on her "team" as well. During the semester these two were virtually joined at the hip. (Email, teleconferences, etc.)

How similar are they? At nearly 10:00 one night Fabulous Babe climbs into bed and cranks up her laptop to do some homework. She gets an email from Partner in Crime and, knowing she's online "live" at the moment, emails her to see if they can have a quick conference call about their project. Elated, Partner in Crime instantly replies and dials. They're scary, especially when they finish each others sentences.

Partner in Crime and her husband came to our party on their first "date night" in months. When I pointed out to Mr. Partner in Crime that the Carlson Executive MBA program only allows for *cough* "Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow" *cough* on specific holidays during the calendar year he suddenly remembered our CEMBA Widow and Widower briefing. (CEMBA students need all available "free time" for sleep during the time that classes are in session.) I consoled him with beer and reminded him that Memorial day really isn't that far away. I think he quit sobbing before they left.

They're so much like peas in a pod it will be hard to imagine what next year will be like when they're no longer team mates. (You have a different team each year in the program.) They're good together and the best part is watching/listening as the thrive together.

Another of Fabulous Babe's teammates made the party and all of the spouses agreed that my idea of t-shirts should go into production: "My spouse enrolled in the University of Minnesota's Carlson Executive MBA program and all I got was, um. All I got was, er. In all honesty I haven't seen them since they enrolled in the program."


Posted by Jim at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

"He looks dorky!"

With school over for the semester the only thing on Fabulous Babe's schedule currently is work. After checking her calendar I discovered that Tuesday would be the best day to try and bring Jack for a visit. So...


Here's Santa Jack on his way to go see Mommy! Instead of a sleigh and reindeer he has to suffer with Dad and a Mazda Tribute. With his Santa suit he was plenty warm so a coat wasn't necessary.


After picking up a dozen roses for Mom we started to work our way through the building. It wasn't long before Jack began being mobbed by women wanting to have their Christmas wishes heard. This was a frequent problem.


Once we got to Mommy's office Jack walked in. Fabulous Babe's first words? "He looks dorky!" (Can someone please have a chat with her?) The roses seemed to help a bit so that when the time came she finally got past the suit and gave Jack a hug. Notice the look of scorn Jack has for the telephone interupting his quality Mommy time.


As part of Santa Jack's schedule we took Fabulous Babe to lunch. Being Santa Jack is some powerfully thirsty work and Jack was quick to start knocking back a cold one as soon as he could. The impressive straw work is coming along. Every once in a while he takes a swig and then spits it out but we think the Sippy Cups days are numbered.

If you're wondering where I got the suit: Target. I also made sure it's big enough we have a shot at a repeat next year.

Posted by Jim at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

"Let's go shopping!"

Jack at the Mall of America on Friday:


I'm not sure who had more fun: Jack with the stroller or Fabulous Babe at Williams Sonoma.

Posted by Jim at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005

"The stockings were hung by the Chimney with care..."


The calm before the storm...

Look for updates all day tomorrow.

Merry Christmas all,


Posted by Jim at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

"With the hopes that the fever that showed up would soon leave..."

Jack woke up screaming about 20 minutes ago with a fever of 102.1 and the shakes. We gave him a bath and let him watch an episode of Miffy in bed next to us. When the episode was drawing to a close he passed out and we put him back to bed.

Being sick on Christmas is no fun.

Posted by Jim at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2005

"For me? No way!"

After a long night of Jack getting me up a few times and Fabulous Babe punching me once for snoring I managed to sleep in until 7:45. That's when Jack started waking and things went into high gear shortly after that. I had just enough time to get into a chair, start the video camera and grab one of the digitals before Jack came down.

His initial reaction to seeing Thomas was pretty funny. He stared at it and was nervous at first. Pretty soon we got him to sit on it and when we took him around on the track for the first time everything was fine. (He's not strong enough to hold the button down so we have to hold it for him.)


Jack opening a present with some help from mom.


Engineer Jack, future Rail Baron.


One of the packages was labeled "To Jack, From Ted Kaczynski" which drew a laugh from Fabulous Babe. Inside?

Two books that every boy should have growing up. If there's one thing I remember fondly from my childhood it's the memory of building my first improvised explosive device and coupling it with my first catapult.


Jack after managing to hold the button down himself.


A book from Farmer Mom and Dad or Farmer Grandma and Grandpa as the case may be. Jack got several books.


More happy Jack.


The start of one of our Christmas Traditions: Mommy made yummy fresh Cinammon Rolls this morning! When Fabulous Babe was little her mom used to do the same thing. Christmas is an awesome opportunity to start traditions and this is hopefully one of many.

I'll do a loot summary later.

Posted by Jim at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

"Windpipe O-Rama"

About 4 months ago I hurt my throat. I was chewing some food and when I went *gulp* I heard a popping sound. The *pop* was then followed by an unbelieveable amount of pain around my adams apple and in a line up my neck. I went to the doctor and then to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who after giving me the once over decided that I had pulled a ligament or some such and told me not to use my voice for a couple of weeks and let it heal.

Last Tuesday? *pop* This time even more painful.


I called the doctors and they said to wait a day and then come in if it still hurt. Thursday saw me back at the doctors and on the table. Doctor September called the ENT specialist who said:

"Wow. Again? That's not good. I've never heard of it happening a second time."


They told me to take it easy, not to talk and to take loads of Vicodin before I go back to the specialist Thursday. (He's on vacation right now.) In the meantime just ignore the blazing hot agony in your throat.

The Vicodin at one tablet make me nausious and at two tablets, the recommended dose, nausious and loopy. Bleah. Who wants to be sick while you're already feeling bad?

Either way we'll know more on Thursday. My voice is froggy and the pain is intense. (I pray every morning that the good Lord delivers me from sneezing at any point during my waking hours.) Until then it's the Vicodin tango. Ick.

Posted by Jim at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

"You were expecting a Tiny Tears or a Cabbage Patch doll?"

So last night Jack was knocking around the upstairs as Fabulous Babe had settled down into her office chair to check email. Pretty soon we wandered into the office where Jack was intent on getting into everything. After asking my wife to help and getting no response I decided to play my trump card.

"Come here Jack. It's time I gave you something."

(Fabulous Babe tilts her head.)

"In every boy's life a moment comes along where he gets something that he's never owned before. Something that will change his life forever. It's a special moment and I'm glad as your father I can be the one to give it to you."

At this point the wife turns around to see Jack seated on my lap and my fumbling behind my back with something.

"What are you giving him?"

(Ignoring the wife.)

"Here Jack. I want you to have your first Tank."

Saying this I produced the 1/32nd scale King Tiger Tank that I had been hiding in the closet for just such an occasion. I handed it to Jack and made vroom vroom noises. Jack responded by growing and then proceeded to gnaw on the 88mm cannon.

"Jack it didn't benefit from the speedy production lines that produced Shermans but it was a great tank and your father has actually laid hands on two of the surviving King Tigers in the whole world."

At this point I couldn't keep a straight face while enduring the withering look from Fabulous Babe. With hoots of laughter I let Jack loose and he tottered off while dragging the King Tiger by it's cannon.

Not sure when he'll get his next one. I'm thinking Jagdpanther but part of me wants to steer him towards something a bit more modern.

Once a tread head, always a tread head. I blame my neighbor Mr. Stowe for showing us Patton on Saturday afternoon when I was 8 or 9. He had served under Patton and wanted all of the neighborhood boys to see it, bless his heart. It sent me spinning off to the library where I pestered the librarian for titles like "Improvisations during a Winter Campaign" and similar things written by old German staff officers.

With my luck Jack will have no interest in any of this and decide to take up cooking with mom. *sigh*

Posted by Jim at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

"I'm Batman!"

My throat got a lot worse overnight. Read that as "So bad I might want to go to the emergency room when the wife wakes up." Instead I toughed it out and went to the local clinic this morning to get my appointment moved up. (Flog me later, a good husband lets the wife sleep.)

When we were there Jack wandered into the optical department and was an instant hit with the ladies. They liked his hat so much they gave him a pair of kids glasses to wear. Once he had them on he didn't take them off until I laid him down a little while ago.

Here's Jack with the glasses at Target. (We were returning a duplicate workbench Jack got as a gift last night.)


A nice woman at Target said that she's pretty sure there really isn't anything I could add to top the look. I think she's right.

*If you listen closely you can hear echos of Fabulous Babe shuddering when she first sees this photo*

Posted by Jim at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2005

"I swear I saw an article advocating it in the JAMA!"

While ending up my visit with Doctor Molotov...

"Hey Doc. Can you do me a favor?"


"As long as you are filling out the prescriptions can you write one to my wife for me?"

"What for?"

"Sex. Three times daily. Until my throat is better."

"Keep dreaming."

With replies like that I'm convinced we've got the right doctor for our family.

Posted by Jim at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

"Up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane... Oh come on. You know the rest."

When I had Jack at Target yesterday I bought him a DVD out of Target's new $1.00 section. (They're currently blowing them out at 50 cents a piece.) Normally I don't even glance at this sort of thing but...

When I saw the cover art I realized that it's a collection of Fleischer studio Superman cartoons from the 1941-42 that have all fallen into public domain. (It's 10 of the 17 cartoons so it isn't a complete collection.) At 50 cents I thought how wrong can I go?

After watching it with Jack I can say the reproduction is fair but not stellar. It's certainly not the best quality but for a slush pit of DVD's at Target it's still better than most of what they have. Part of that is the strength of the material. The Fleischer brothers were phenominal at the time and true rivals of Disney and Warner Brothers. (I'm now hoping there's a disc somewhere of their Popeye cartoons I may have overlooked.

If you want a better copy of the material here's what I would recommend:

Check your local Target and if you spot it pick up a copy. Kids will love it and you're out less than the cost of a soda.

Posted by Jim at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

"How the @#$% did I wind up here again?"

I have a scar on my head. I've made it the subject of a lot of jokes. I tell people it's my haircut indicator and when I can't see it anymore it's time for a haircut. I've referred to it as proof that the common sense portion of my brain was removed a long time ago. The jokes are a defense mechanism and I am very cognizant of that. The jokes change but the scar remains, not as livid as it once was, but still the scar remains.

I got to my appointment with the ear nose and throat doctor this morning. When he walked in he said “Back again!” with a fairly cheerful manner. I managed to croak out that he should be offended but I had sincerely hoped to never have to see him again in any sort of professional capacity which got a chuckle. As the exam went along he tied off my tongue, gave it a yank, looked down my throat and began probing around.

Every morning, when I’m in the shower, I have another reminder of the surgery that left me with the scar on the side of my head. The inside of my nasal passages, while mostly healed from the repair work, have an odd shape that causes dirt to accumulate in my right nostril. As steam from the scalding shower works its way through my respiratory system this unsightly and fairly disgusting mass will usually work its way free. (Imagine the worst nose goblin of your life on steroids.) If I was in 3rd grade this is the sort of gross thing that would make me a legend among my peers. It’s present every day.

The exam was pretty thorough. He felt my neck and had me show him where the pain was, where it originated and how it increased based on my movements or actions. We discussed the timeline of the injury, the resulting infection and loss of voice. The strain of the muscles and the additional damage the sneeze seemed to cause the other night. For the short term he prescribed a large dose of ibuprofen and some steroids to try to encourage the repair of the muscle tissue that seems damaged.

I was 30 when I had the surgery. Another joke I now make is that no one ever tells you that the warranty runs out when you turn 30. At 28 it’s last call at the singles bar and you seem to be stuck with the bill. With me, less than 3 months after my 30th birthday, I was having surgery to remove a tumor in my head. The path the surgeon took was to remove it via my nasal passages. Once it's removal was accomplished they then took tissue from behind my right ear and used that in reconstruction and re-alignment of my septum. My scar is the only external evidence that the surgery took place,

May 26th, 1998: “I don’t like the frequency of the headaches, where you’re experiencing the pain or how long this has been going on. The medicine doesn't seem to be working so I’m scheduling you for an MRI and CAT scan tomorrow.”

December 29th, 2005: “I don’t know what the underlying cause of the damage is. I’m concerned that it’s in the soft tissues of your throat and that it’s happened twice in less than 6 months. I don't know if there are abnormalities in the structure of your musculature or if there's something else present. I’m scheduling you for an MRI, today if possible, and a blood screen as well.”

If there were words I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing again it’s that there’s an unknown factor in my life requiring me to climb into an MRI machine.

Logically my mind knows that there’s nothing to panic or be melodramatic about. It’s my throat and the odds are I’ve strained something or pulled a muscle. I'm 99.999% convinced that it’s not another tumor and I am not going to require surgery. The odds favor it being nothing. The problem is that the odds favored there nothing in my head 7 years ago either.

Before driving from the doctor to the MRI clinic I sat in the car for about 5 minutes trying to calm down. A lot’s changed since 1998. At the time I was single and went through the surgery alone with just a little help here and there and very few visitors. All I could think about today was that if something was seriously wrong now the stakes are so much higher now: Jack and Fabulous Babe. I can’t really call if fear because that’s not the emotion that was appropriate or present. Anxiety? Annoyance? I can’t really say I was angry just bewildered that it seemed to be happening all over again.

The drive from Maplewood to Eagan went pretty quickly. I got there and as I sat in the waiting room filling out forms it was like going back in time answering the same questions from 7 years ago. “Do you have any sort of metal implant that will be ripped from you during the MRI scan?” “Should shrapnel from the metal objects leaving the body kill you is there anyone we should call?” “You’re sure you didn’t swallow any coins before coming to visit us today?” After pages of this you finally get to hand the clipboard back and sit back down to read a copy of Redbook, People or Field & Stream.

Finally they call me back to get undressed and into a gown. As I’m sitting there all I could think about was:


Thank God my socks match.

The MRI starts at 11:45. They start by “shooting” 4 sessions ranging from 6 minutes to 10+ minutes. The technology has changed some but not a lot. My head is clamped into a brace with an angled mirror that allows me to see the control room. It’s also as loud as I remember and just as tight a space as I recall. At this point I’m pretty numb.

After the first four shots they have to inject me with a dye for the next series of shots. The start with my right arm, hit a vein that doesn’t work, break the needle in the second vein and then go to my left arm. 4th time’s a charm and they get the necessary amount of dye into my system and its back into the machine.

When I’m done the technician comments that I didn’t move at all during any of the sessions and that it’s rare to see someone hold so still despite the noise and motion. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not but I assume as much and thank him for his work. I’m handed my hard copies of the scans to take with me and then head for my blood work.

The blood work is back at our local clinic. After filling up several vials of blood I head to the pharmacy and drop off the prescriptions. By the time I get home it’s almost 2:30. All I want to do is take my medicine, head to bed and try to get some sleep. (I don’t feel safe driving under the influence of the pain medicines. They work just a little too well.)

It’s this terrible limbo that is bothering me right now. I just want to know what I have to get to grips with and it’s that lack of knowledge that is most upsetting. I can't change anything but damned if I don't want the results now.

7 years ago after the MRI was done the technicians told me there was something in my skull and showed me the on the screens. They then pointed out that the blood work would confirm what it was and what the next course of action was so I shouldn’t get to upset. Sure it’s easy to hear, but accepting that is a lot harder. It was two days before the blood work came back with good news, benign, but those were a long two days.

At least today I didn’t have to go through what I did the last time. 7 years ago I returned to the office after the scans and blood screens and my supervisor at the time, Dead Freddy, irritated at having me interrupt his constant stream of text messages back and forth with his girlfriend said that if I needed to leave a little early that day he would let me due to the circumstances. Fortunately his boss, The Rhodesian Tiger, was much more sympathetic and assured me that if I needed anything I would have it. (He also apologized for Dead Freddy being a self centered twit.)

At one point today I was crying for a few moments in the car. It’s not at my being upset at my health because, at this point, there's nothing to be upset by. It's the thought of not being there for Jack or Fabulous Babe in some way when they might need me. Dying doesn't scare me. It's the unfinished work you leave behind that unsettles me and Jack is by far our greatest accomplishment in the making.

Posted by Jim at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)