Sunday, December 25, 2011

2 for 2

All votes are in! We are having a baby boy on or around March 11, 2012! So far Kira and I are 2 for 2 on guessing the gender of our children. We were pretty certain that Avey would be a girl, and were guessing on a boy for this one, so we're undefeated this far in the game. We're very excited, and have begun the long process of choosing names. 

On another note, Merry Christmas! We're staying with Kira's family this time, and it has been a lot of fun. Avey has more cousins here than she knows what to do with. Last night they acted out the Nativity story. Avey, being the only girl who can walk and follow instructions among the cousins, played the role of Mary, and did a beautiful job. 

Avey Plays Mary
She was quite insistent that we have a real baby in the manger, but the closest one in the house is a girl and has not felt well, so we suggested we substitute a doll. Avey turned her nose up to the idea, so I suggested we use her little penguin doll, Wheezy (a la Toy Story 2). She loved the idea, so this year the shepherds left their flock to worship a stuffed penguin. 
Wheezy's 5 Minutes of Fame
 It's so wonderful to be home for Christmas. We'll just have to catch up on sleep when school starts back up.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Guessing Game

Avey is very excited for Christmas. She has been going through a wide range of emotions as the celebration draws near:
  The moods tend to shift with her candy cane intake, so once we get that regulated things should smooth out. In the meantime, it is time for everyone's favorite game - the Guess the Gender of Our Next Child Game!

We have an appointment to learn the gender tomorrow (assuming he or she isn't too shy), and we'll post the results in a few days (to allow for a few more votes). If you're really dying to know, you can call us tomorrow evening. In the meantime, take a close look and let us know if you think that's a boy or a girl inside there:
Kira as of Today
Whatever it is, he or she has been kicking and punching up a storm in there. I wouldn't think it possible to have anger issues before even entering the world, but this one has me wondering. I should probably have a punching bag waiting at the hospital for when the child emerges, lest he or she knock out a nurse.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Avey is a marvelously creative child, not to mention energetic. We have been trying to come up with outlets - uh, I mean ways to encourage her creativity and energy - and Kira discovered one that fits both fields; a free dance class! Avey has come home a couple of times and shown me her dance games, where I have to mirror all of her movements, at least until she collapses in a giggle fit. They had their public debut last night, after knowing about it for only 3 practices.
Even though the title makes light of their synchronization, I think they did very well considering the preparation time and, most especially, average age of dancer. Say what you may about their technical shortcomings, if this video doesn't put a smile on your face you have no soul.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Madness

I feel so betrayed. I moved here under the assumption that Texas is 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the 9 months that it isn't scorching. I was grossly misled. Not only has it dropped below room temperature outdoors, but nights here (and even most days) have digressed to jacket weather. Two days this last week I felt compelled to put on a near full-size coat. Shocking, I know. Luckily, as soon as we moved here Kira talked me out of cutting up all of our winter clothing for a massive stockpile of cleaning rags (perhaps some day...), so we still have all of our winter attire. However, I still am not in a position where I feel I can trust the Lone Star State and all of the stereotypes I hold so dearly. I even met someone the other day who does not own a truck or a firearm! She's not from here, but she's still lived here a while, so I'm really confused. 
Avey Decked the Hall with Santa's Sleigh "Landing" Gently. He's Gonna Need a Chiropractor After This!
Here are a few of Avey's latest gems:

  • If you recall the Darn Hand, he has been alive and well since his debut. The other night at dinner, Avey was playing with him, taunting him to tickle her, and then scolding him for doing so. After some time, Darn Hand decided that he would wait until she was not paying attention, and then attack his prey. Avey asked what he was doing, to which he replied (with Dad as translator) that he was waiting until she didn't expect it. Avey waited a while and then said, confusing the verb, "Darn Hand, tickle me because I'm not existing!"
  • One morning this week I had Avey set up to watch something on the television to keep her occupied while I showered. I came out to find her on the couch, holding her foot in front of her face, licking it from heel to toe as if it was a 3-scoop ice cream cone. Not meaning to pry, I asked her what she was doing. She looked at me with a little smile and said, "I wanted to see how flexible I am." This is where we parents say "whatever" and put a little money aside for future institutionalization. 
  • Avey has been scoring treats in Primary class since we moved here. She has always been quite generous and thoughtful by saving some of her treats to share with us. Today when Kira went to pick her up from Primary, Avey was holding a small bag of cookies and announced excitedly that she had saved some crumbs for us! It is the thought that counts after all. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011


What a wonderful holiday to spend with family! We had a great time running around town and gorging on anything that was edible. It really whetted our appetites for holiday and home though, so now we're counting down the days until Christmas.
Enjoying the Meal
Avey was quite the character during the big meal. She didn't want to try any of the fancy foods, so we practically had to force feed her. She was quite impressed with the centerpiece and the large table. She announced to everybody during the meal that we could pass something all the way around the table, so she picked out a plastic green pepper from the centerpiece and passed it counter clockwise, calling on each diner to tell us all what he or she was thankful for. It was spontaneous and cute, and may have sparked a new tradition of the "Thanksgiving Pepper".
Avey with the Thanksgiving Pepper
The unfortunate news is that we are now in the final semester stretch for me, meaning finals! What this also means is that most of the students in the statistics class (for which I am a teaching assistant) are beginning to realize that they have not understood anything from Day One and their only chance at passing the class is to finally start coming to my office hours. So my week is booked with homework and tutoring appointments. Yippee.

Luckily, we have a lot to be thankful for as always.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This was a pretty rough week. Avey was sick last week and was good enough to share it with me for all of this week. It hit me hardest Tuesday night, when I could not seem to get comfortable or get enough oxygen through my nose to sleep. I made my way to campus the next morning, feeling like death, when the truck died. Of course it died right then and there - why wouldn't it die right then and there? The symptoms rose suspicion of a faulty fuel pump (which wear out eventually anyway), so I had it towed to a nearby shop who confirmed the diagnosis. I slowly pushed through the rest of the day, mostly fantasizing about a warm, cozy bed. I picked up the truck about 10 minutes before my evening class was to start, but made it barely in time, only to learn that we were having our work load doubled for the last two weeks of the semester for a "bonus" exam. Yeehaw!
Avey's Interpretation of My Local Aunt
I'm still in recovery from my illness, the shock of the bill for the fuel pump, and the increasingly bothersome preparations for the end of the semester. I suppose that if I were to look on the bright side, and I mean if, I could be thankful, hence the season, that at least I got sick before my family came to town or during finals, at least we've got a shiny new fuel pump that should last another decade or two, at least the truck didn't break down on the highway when I needed to be at some important meeting, at least we got the free towing option on our insurance, and at least I'll get a chance to learn a lot more about behavioral neuropsychology than I ever wanted to.

And most importantly, at least I can spend some time searching for solutions to all these problems at the bottom of a pie dish this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Big Three-Oh-My

I turned 3 decades old this week. I normally do not like very big parties or much fuss about my birthday, but this year in particular I think I was trying to forget the whole thing. There's something pretty weird about that 2 turning into a 3 on the old odometer. I've gone through some experiences recently that have put my age into perspective. The juveniles I interview at the probation office often have birth dates in 1995 or thereabouts. I was in High School when they were born. We spent most of yesterday purchasing a washer and dryer - something I never thought I'd spend my weekend doing when I was younger. And the really sad thing is that I was kind of excited about it. 
Avey's Card to Me
It's strange how our priorities change or don't change as we age. At the top of my list most of my life has been the obtaining of sweets, then having cool toys. Those have not really shifted at all; I always keep a nice stash of baked goods around the house, and my big present this year was a sound bar for our TV (unless you count the truck, and I count the truck).
Modeling My Spiffy New Hat
Kira and Avey (and the rest of the family) made a very nice attempt to pass this tragic time off as a celebration. I got a lot of nice phone calls and cards, got to sleep in, got to binge on take-out from my favorite Chinese place in town, and Avey even sincerely attempted to tone down her demands for a few minutes.
My Aunt Made Me This Snicker Doodle Cake with Pics of a Younger Me.
One cannot help but reflect back over the years at times like this. I think of what I've accomplished and what I have left to do, and even though the road ahead seems too short and scary sometimes, I'm just glad that I have great people by my side to nudge me along. Let's see if the next 30 are as good to me as the first.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Out With the Old...

Seven years ago I purchased a 1976 Chevy Vega, which I named "Lucille". I went through a lot with that car; a drunk driver hit it while it was parked, I installed a new fuel pump with my own two hands, had the carburetor rebuilt, drove it 550 miles to Utah to attend school where a neighbor vandalized it on two separate occasions, and I spent hours cleaning and waxing it. 
Sadly, I finally realized in the last month or two that we just weren't the best match anymore. The Vega was a fun car, but it just wasn't much of a family car; no AC, two doors, and not very highway friendly. I had intended to hang on to it until I got some money to put into it, but that time still had not come. What finally got me thinking of selling it was a coworker in Colorado offering to buy it before we moved. I declined, but then found a note on it here in Texas from another gentleman interested in buying it. Eventually, I decided that it was indeed time to give it up to someone who had the time and money to give it the attention it needs. I put it on the market, and last Sunday sold it to a nice guy for $400 more than I had paid for it all those years ago.
It's strange how emotionally attached we get to things sometimes. As the man drove away in my little blue car, I couldn't help but feel like I was losing a family member. Avey was saddened too, so we helped each other through the parting, and began making plans for a new set of wheels.
After a lot of searching, we went the very next day to find a '95 Dodge Ram in good condition, and at a price we couldn't ignore. After a lot of shuttling around with our other car, trying to get the seller to be where we could make the transaction, we finally made the exchange.
Even though I still miss my Lucille, I'm very excited about the truck. The V8 Magnum engine is a whole lot more power than I'm used to with the little 4 cylinder engine from the Vega. Most importantly, we can now fit in with the other Texans (one risks ostracism without a truck).
Now we need to come up with a name for the new addition. Maybe this little exercise will get us warmed up for picking names for the new baby too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scare Tactics

Ever since Avey really started getting into movies and such, she always showed a preference for the more intense scenes - or at least as intense as it can get in a G-rated flick. We let her watch something brief whenever we need her to hold still so we can do her hair. For a long time when we would ask her what she wanted to watch, she would respond, "Something really scary!" It seems our daughter is a bit of an adrenaline junky. It should come as no surprise, then, that she has been into Halloween in a big way. For example, she requested a "really scary" jack-o-lantern design this year:
 My own creation is below, largely plagiarized from The Nightmare Before Christmas:
 Of course, Avey is still a princess at heart, so she chose to be Rapunzel this year. Luckily she opted to leave her frying pan at home. I, never breaking from the formula, stuck with my nerd ensemble:
 Kira chose to dress as a modest Flamenco dancer:
Lately Avey has developed an interest in all Halloween-themed monsters and spooks. She wanted me to tell her a story about zombies during dinner the other day, and begged us to wrap her up with toilet paper so she could pretend to be a mummy. She's also frightened our local relatives with her Frankenstein's monster face. It's quite terrifying, let me assure you.

Naturally, her favorite part of the season is the candy that has suddenly become available. As any good parents would do under similar circumstances, Kira and I will help her get her candy stash under control.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Man vs. Machine

A few pairings come to mind here: Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, Johann Sebastian Bach and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight, and few others. The pattern here is brilliance completing a masterpiece - where mere mortals begin to mingle with infinity, where the raging potential within our humble frames can no longer be contained and must come bursting forth, demanding to be free. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we may now add to this exclusive list, "Eli and his PC". 
This bee landed in my andric version of a bonnet several weeks ago when I got thinking we really need two functional computers now that I'm in school and Kira has a calling that is heavy on the paperwork. As I got looking into what's on the market these days I just wasn't finding anything that was quite right. Finally, I took to heart the old adage, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself." After (a lot of) emails consulting my younger brother, who has tread this ground before, I took it upon myself to build a computer from scratch. Hours of research yielded the proper parts, and when they all arrived, I (panicked a little bit and then) confidently performed the nearly surgical procedure to build the perfect machine. When the moment of truth came, my heart beating like a bass drum, my palms sweating, and not a breath escaping my diaphragm for fear of the tension in the room... nothing happened. No fans turning, no lights blinking, no tones beeping. No fireworks bursting. No parades jubilating. I could feel the stroke coming on until I decided to reexamine my work before tossing the whole stupid tin can into the garbage and fleeing to my room to sulk and binge. Within a few seconds it occurred to me that I may have wrongly connected the fan's power in two places, thus preventing any current from flowing. I unplugged one end, and pulled the switch again, this time shouting to the heavens, "Give my creation life!" a la Dr. Frankenstein.

I then drank the sweet nectar of success, squeezing out every last drop into my parched mouth. And I was filled. My machine lived. It and I were instantly bound - two beings of one mind and purpose - our only goal to produce hyperbolic blog posts with slightly faster speed than had ever been experienced by humankind (or so I assume). Consider yourselves warned.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reverse Psychology

It seems that most parents resort to reverse psychology at some point in their care-taking careers. The idea is that you behave as if you want the child to do the exact opposite of what you really want her to do. Avey caught on to this about 6 months ago, but she always treats it like some kind of game (which it is, I suppose). These days she insists that we use reverse psychology with her. 
 At meals, for example, she calls to me from her chair while I'm preparing my meal. In that melodic, I'm-up-to-something tone of voice she sings, "Oh DAAAAaady, come look at my plAAAAaaate." I will cautiously approach, feigning ignorance at the reason for such a beckoning. Avey smiles a knowing, naughty smile and gestures toward her plate, which is apparently missing a minuscule fragment of beef, chicken, cracker, or broccoli. She directs me, "Now get mad."

I muster up an Oscar-worthy performance; "What are you doing, eating that food right in front of you! That food is just to look at! You spit that out on the floor right now!" All the while Avey giggles with delight at successfully getting my goat. I return to my preparations, and this mystical dance continues a dozen times or so until the food is finally gone.
At this point, of course, we're willing to go along with whatever, just so long as the food gets in her stomach somehow.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


As languages go, English is a pretty quirky one. You may have received one of those emails jesting about the inconsistencies of our plurals (e.g., mouse = mice, but house = houses), or the double and sometimes triple meanings of some words (e.g., "Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present."). But one thing that really sets English apart from other languages is the rarest phoneme in the world. The "r" sound we make every day with words like "road", and "farmer", and others is far rarer in language than even the clicking sounds found in some southern and eastern African languages. While many languages have the letter "r" in their lexicon, the English "r" makes a different sound than the Spanish or German "r", for example, and is the rarest vocalization as far as its prevalence in languages.
The unfortunate result of this linguistic oddity is that those who attempt to learn the language have to master the subtle muscle movements of the mouth and throat that produce that sound on demand. That's quite a bit of pressure to put on the little ones who are already attempting to master a thousand other things. The "r" is one thing that our Avey has put on the back burner so far while working on items such as planning her career (princess), organizing her inventory of toys (anywhere on the floor), and conning her father into telling her stories off the top of his head.

Just in the last couple of weeks we've tried to draw her attention to the tiny detail of the English "r". She didn't seem to hear the difference at first, but then she could get it if she tried really hard. In the last couple of days she's caught her misuse of the letter "w" in places it doesn't go. She's getting better at correcting herself, and slowly words like "real" are beginning to sound less like "wheel".

* * *

Avey's Nana made her a beautiful quilt for her birthday and had the brilliant idea of making a "magic" pocket in one of the squares. In this square will appear a prize of some sort on mornings after Avey has been particularly obedient. Her biggest prize thus far was a magnifying glass! She's been running around the house checking everything out with it. Yesterday, while she and I were waiting to go on a drive, she wanted to inspect things outside. She asked how the magnifying glass works, and I tried to explain that it bends the light. Then I noticed a discarded Popsicle stick in the rocks. I showed her how the sunlight, when bent to one small point on the Popsicle stick, can make it so hot that it burns. She was awestruck at this magic, so at every stop on our outing she requested to burn another little spot onto the stick. Luckily she hasn't got the hang of it yet to do on her own, but I'm beginning to worry I've lit a spark (pun completely intended) in her for pyromania. We'll just have to keep an eye on her to make sure she's not setting fires in her car seat while we drive.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Quite possibly the best birthday ever! Avey decided that to celebrate she wanted to go swimming. We didn't think this would be much of a problem because, hey, we live in Texas. However, our limited experience in Texas has involved mostly temperatures up to and including 103 degrees. The day we chose to swim it was a balmy 83 or so, and the pool water was freezing! Luckily my 12-year-old cousin came along and was able to put lots of energy into Avey's games while Kira and I moaned and groaned and shivered. 

She is thrilled with all of her generous gifts! Here are a few highlights we got on video (we didn't record all of them):
As one might imagine, she requested a chocolate cake with green frosting. As I was coloring the frosting to get it the right shade, she told me to stop at a very light, mint color. I'm not sure the picture does it justice, but it looked more like key lime pie filling. Tasted great though, thanks to Pillsbury
She was also pleased to receive a Rapunzel costume, so that she can be a more authentic version of her latest obsession. Later while she was playing she gasped and turned to me, "Daddy! I don't have a Pascal toy to help me be Rapunzel!" We found a stand-in and she could continue her fantasy.
Probably what she loved the most was the love and affection from her relatives. Thank you for the cards and notes. She is so glad to have you in her life!

Now let's hope this next year is longer than the last...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Avey 4.0

It's the end of September again; cue Eli's freak out about his daughter turning a year older. It's the same thing every Fall. I start sleeping worse, I eat more junk food than usual (if you can imagine), I get this twitch in my eye, and clumps of hair start leaping from my scalp at random intervals throughout the day. There is something so awful about another year passing in my little girl's life. I don't know which is worse: getting farther away from her first steps, or getting closer to her first driving experience. Or maybe what's most depressing is that I'll still be in school when she starts, and every year she gets closer to starting.

At least during Avey's fifth year of life, we will be blessed with another new life to nourish and witness. While I am ecstatic about that, I don't know if I can start going through this emotional turmoil twice a year. And what may be most difficult is being reminded of Avey's little beautiful moments that we'll never get back while Newbaby goes through his or her own. The life of a parent is full of so many brief glimpses into innocence and purity, and it is so difficult to be reminded that the source will someday forget what things once were like.

For what it's worth, I am also a teensy bit excited that Avey will get to try out being four. She'll get to experience the joys of reading by herself, she's already forged into the mysteries of having a "big girl bed", she'll soon learn the wonders of basic math, and she'll feel the responsibility of being an older sibling.

At least one thing's (almost) for sure; she'll still enjoy giving me hugs for another year. And the countdown begins again...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Defense Mechanisms

Avey was finally exposed to Tangled recently. She's been quite taken with the stunning visuals, the exciting plot, the tangible characters, and the romantic development. She's also gleaned an additional valuable piece of information from the film, which will become apparent in the following anecdote.

A few nights ago, after putting Avey to bed, she called to me and explained that she was frightened about going to sleep. I asked what she was scared of, and she told me that she feared skeletons would get her (she's been a little nervous about skeletons since seeing a small plastic Halloween decoration at a store a few weeks ago). She said that she could not stop thinking about skeletons, and she was too afraid to sleep. We talked about some things we could try to help her not think about skeletons, and she finally came up with the idea of keeping something next to her bed to protect her from them. And what did she decide she could use to ward off the demons? A frying pan!

So while she may or may not have reaped the more subtle messages of non-prejudice, unselfish love, and unrelenting hope, at least she  understands the basic idea of blunt objects. You've done it again, Disney!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


If you'll pick at random some of the posts over the years I've been blogging, you'll undoubtedly notice that Avey has been through several interesting phases, and grows into and out of many quirky behaviors. One of the most recent that she is slowly growing out of is what we've come to call her "friends". It began with Avey starting to sleep with a stuffed animal or two every night. This quickly grew into a routine of having the same few stuffed animals every night. 
Somehow, the routine developed into a ritual where Avey had to have her friends "set up" before she would actually lie down at night. It went like this: "Sheepie" (now known as Baby Shaun the Sheep after we all became fans of this show) was to lay on her right side on her pillow, next to "Doggie". "Cowboy Bear" was to lie on her pillow on her left side. Eeyore, everyone's favorite dysthymic donkey, would be held between Avey's knees under the covers. Avey would then finally lie back, wrap her arms around her friends, turn to her side, and (sometimes) nod off to sleep.The ritual had to be strictly followed, else slumber was impossible. About once during the week, in fact, Avey would call out to us from her bed at about 2:00 in the morning and inquire as to the whereabouts of Eeyore. We invariably found him lost in the folds of her blankets, no doubt interpreting his misfortune as a reflection of his personal worth as a stuffed donkey. Safely returned to his place between Avey's knees, Avey could once again sleep until dawn. 

Her companions recently became regular attendees at several other events throughout Avey's day, such as taking their assigned seats on the dinner table during meals (Avey insisted that they had to watch her eat), and witnessing Avey's use of the water closet.

I've personally begun to worry that Avey needs more social exposure to kids her age, so that she can make some real friends. Luckily, we have a neighbor here with a daughter just a little younger than she. I just hope that once their friendship blossoms Avey will require less from the little girl than she has of the stuffed animals.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


As the reader learned from the previous post, we are expecting a second child. This news came to us with much joy and celebration (we had been trying for some time), and we are glad to share the joy with everyone else. Here are a few points about this pregnancy:

  • Kira is approximately 12-13 weeks along.
  • She is slowly leaving the "morning sickness" phase. This time around was relatively better. With Avey there were a few days where Kira could not keep anything down at all. With Newbaby she has had a few rough moments (pretty much whenever she eats), but has had no days where she was unable to keep down most of the meals. 
  • We have basically no ideas for boy names.
  • We may have some options for girl names. 
  • Avey is convinced this will be a boy, and his name will be Robert. 
  • Avey is excited to be a big sister, and continually refers to the child as her baby. She's compiled quite the list of things she will teach him or her. 
  • Avey has been reliving what it was like to be a baby by having us ritualistically play peek-a-boo with her, pulling out her old baby toys, and explaining to us what babies don't know. 
We'll share updates as they come.

In other news, Kira's Texas license came this week, so that she can now practice therapy here. The temperature today has been in the upper 70s or so, which feels amazing compared to the lower 100s we've endured for the past couple of weeks. UTEP's football team won their first game in overtime against Stony Brook last night! I will start a small job at the juvenile probation office here next week. I will mostly be doing psychological assessments to determine appropriate mental health diagnoses, if any, the probationers have. I have also been picked to be the teaching assistant for a statistics class - the one class I had hoped I would not have to TA for. I think it will be alright.

Sorry for a mostly journal-entry-post. Things are sure to get crazier soon...

Sunday, August 28, 2011


After receiving widely positive reviews from critics and the public for our first attempt, Kira and I are pleased to announce that we have a second model of posterity coming to the market this Spring! We've listened to feedback from our biggest fans, closely researched what features are in demand, consulted with our chief production engineer (Kira), and feel that we are prepared to offer consumers a durable, versatile, and cutting-edge product at a fraction of what they might expect. As with our first model, the second will offer non-stop entertainment. Consumers will find that this new model will include all of their favorite features from the first, but will deliver them in unique and often unpredictable ways. Although we have not yet established the precise specifications of the model (i.e., male vs. female), we have voted that the new model will have a unique operating system. Our first model (currently running Avey 3.11) will continue to receive free periodic upgrades. Unfortunately, this news likely comes as a disappointment to many of our avid customers, as it is to be expected that many features of Avey 3.11 will be incompatible with the new operating system. Our programmers (Eli and Kira) will attempt to work out the discrepancies between the two, and hope that they may be more compatible within the next 16 to 25 years. After years of working with Avey 3.11, customers should expect a familiar level of user-friendly experiences with the second model.
Our new model is currently in approximately its 12th week of production, but customers may begin to reserve time with it now. You may also vote on the aesthetic attributes at this website.
Thank you for your business.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


My vision of how the move would go:
  • 8/12, 9:00am - I'd arrive at the truck rental place. The man behind the counter would smile and welcome me, hand me the key to the truck, walk me through the features thereof, and I'd be on my way by 9:20.
  • 10:00am - finished with breakfast and other preparations, we would spend the rest of the day organizing the last few things, taking apart a few remaining pieces of furniture, and begin cleaning windows and sweeping floors.
  • 4:00pm - the help would arrive to assist with some of the heavy boxes and furniture, and some last pieces of detail work. We'd finish it up by 5:30pm, thank them and send them on their way with pizza. We'd spend the last few hours before bed reminiscing about the good times, and enjoying the company of family, laughing until we fell asleep soundly at about 9:00pm.
  • 8/13, 6:00am - I'd awake without an alarm, stretch for a moment, get ready for the long drive with a hearty breakfast, and load up the last few items.
  • Driving away at 7:00am.
  • Entertained by the engaging discussions on the radio and the invigorating music on my iPod, and put at ease by the comfortable seat and cruise control of the truck, with strong tailwind assisting us southward, the morning passes with ease - almost unnoticed. We arrive at our lunch destination early, find diesel gas at a startling $2 a gallon, sit down to a relaxing brunch, and continue to our destination.
  • Admittedly, by about 3:00pm our nomadic spirits are waning. We feel the excitement of a new place to live with a new chapter in our lives.
  • By 4:30pm, we arrive at our new home, find half a dozen strapping young men welcoming and eager to share the burden of unloading the truck.
  • Unloaded by 5:30pm, beds put together and paths cleared of boxes by 6:30. Eat a delicious home-cooked meal and to bed by 7:30pm with dreams of degrees and empanadas in my head.
  • 8/14, 8:00 - Avey wakes us, and we share a warm breakfast, relax a bit, and slowly begin to unpack before taking my brother to the airport with thanks for helping us with the whole trip.
  • Unpacked by 8/17, all loose ends tied, eager to begin classes on 8/22!
What happened:
  • 8/12, 9:00am - I arrived at the truck rental place to find that they did not have my truck ready. Someone had apparently removed the tow hitch with which I needed to tow our second car. They got me another truck. The guy gave me a hand hooking up my car, only to find that someone had removed the bolts that held a chain onto the tow dolly. Those are kind of important, so he spent the next 20 minutes finding replacement bolts. I drove the truck home without incident by about 10:00am.
  • We ran into several hurdles with the last stuff to pack, and apparently left too much for the day of.
  • Our family help arrived about midday, and were miracle workers in getting us up and going - the men worked on loading the truck so that the womenfolk could work on the cleaning. By about 5:30 the truck was loaded, and the house almost clean. We were so exhausted and scatterbrained, however, that we had a hard time tying up loose ends until very late.
  • I realized that I should shut off the gas to our hot water, but we all wanted to shower, so I went into the crawlspace after it was dark outside, thinking I would just go the few feet in until I could reach the light. I opened the door and shone the small flashlight we hadn't packed to find a big spider web blocking my way in (if you know much about me, I'm pretty arachnophobic). I clenched my teeth and went in anyway. I groped around for the light, found it, and pulled on the string, only for it to fall into my hands, broken. I opted not to freak out yet, and plunged on into the abyss to find the water heater, and shut it off. I then found my way back out, covered in dirt and sweat, with a little bit of my dignity left.
  • 10:00pm - We finished our showers and tried to sleep.
  • 8/13, 6:00am - after about 2 hours total of sleep, due mostly to my bed being packed, my sore body, and the anxiety of the upcoming trip, I rose as a zombie from his grave. I had a quick breakfast of donuts and milk, brushed my teeth, and started throwing last minute things in the car. Long story short, we were ready to leave at about 7:30am.
  • 7:30am - we discovered several problems with the truck. For one, I couldn't get it to start. It seemed like it might be the battery, so my brother and I started searching for it. we spent about 10 minutes looking and simply could not find it, so I called the truck's roadside assistance to be placed on hold for about 15 minutes and then told that we would have to wait for a tow truck for up to 2 hours. By then we had found the battery, and eventually got it started while waiting for the tow truck. We were on the road around 8:30am.
  • Oh, here's another problem we found with the truck. This is the chain from the tow dolly to the truck:
  • 11:30am - in my attempt to quickly get things arranged so that I could eat and drive, I accidentally plant my iPod earbud in my frogs' tank (it works fine now, but had to dry out for a few hours).
  • We made our first stop about 3 hours into the trip. I warmed leftover pizza in a gas station microwave and got back on the road, trying to make up lost time.
  • 2:30pm - far too close for comfort, I finally find a gas station just before Santa Fe. I fill it up amid a horrible hail/rain storm. During this, I discover that the truck will not start again. While attempting to figure out the problem, I get completely drenched from head to toe. I call Kira and my brother who are about 20 minutes ahead of me, tell them of the situation, and try what we did the first time to get the truck started. It does not work.
  • 2:45pm - I call the roadside assistance again, and speak to an operator who gives me his diagnosis of the problem (I knew he was wrong, but arguing wouldn't have gotten it fixed any faster).
  • 2:47pm - the gas station worker tells me I need to move the truck (hey, great idea!). I discover that their bathrooms are out of order.
  • 2:55pm - Get a call from the tow company. The gentleman tells me that his mechanic will be right out. Kira drives me to find a bathroom. We cancel the help from the ward we had arranged for unloading the truck.
  • 3:30pm - Gas station worker tells me I need to move the truck (Do you think I'd still be here if I could move the truck?).
  • 3:50pm - I finally changed my clothes into something dry, and called the tow company again.
  • 4:00pm - the mechanic shows up ("Sorry about that - I lost my keys").
  • 4:03pm - the mechanic smacks the starter with a hammer and the truck starts right up. He explains how to do it if we have the problem again, we thank him and head out.
  • 4:20pm - grab a quick dinner in Santa Fe and eat on the road.
  • 11:30pm - arrive in El Paso, defeated and drained. By the grace of God, my aunt and uncle had picked up our key for us, left us an amazing meal in the fridge, and set up an air mattress in our room. They also supplied us with toilet paper, disposable dinnerware, and many other essentials. We will forever be in their debt.
  • 8/14, 6:45am - after a few hours of sleep, my brother and I begin the slow, torturous process of unloading all of our worldly possessions from the truck into our new home.
  • 11:00am - with about 15 boxes left, the ward calls and asks if we'll still need help after church is over at noon. We also realize that we didn't let my grandparents (who live in town also) know that we had arrived. They came anyway and brought another uncle of mine to assist with some of the last things, and then they took my brother to the airport to fly home.
  • The rest of the afternoon - I got our beds ready, and tried to unpack some things. Kira tried to occupy Avey, who was anxious to explore this new state and the neighborhood.
  • 4:00pm - dinner at Grandma's. An exquisite break from the hectic ambiance of our new home.
  • The next week was spent slowly transforming our place into a home. During the course of the unpacking, we pieced together that we must have left several of our dishes in the dishwasher at our old place. We're attempting to recover them now. As of this post, we're moved in, but still have several boxes and a few pieces of furniture that need a place. Avey loves the pool:
I guess things don't always go according to plan. We're glad to finally be here, and looking forward to feeling like we're home. It has been so nice to have family here; I think we may survive. Now let us never speak of the last two weeks again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A History of Moving

As are most things with the human race, moving is a constantly developing practice. It has gone through several changes over the centuries. I have been contemplating this odd behavior for the past few days, and I'd like to herewith examine the progress we've made as a species in the moving department.
  • As cavemen, moving was a non-issue. You'd pick up your blunt object, whack your neighbor with it, and start sleeping and eating in his cave. This may have been the simplest type of move humankind has ever known. Ahh, the good ol' days...
  • As nomadic tribes, moving was part of everyday life. You never really unpacked your stuff, because your stuff consisted mainly of a tent or similar structure, some furs, and some nifty bone or stone tools. This may not have been as bad as it sounds because you never expected to settle down either. I'm slowly beginning to surrender to this idea as well.
  • During the Dark Ages, people would pack all of their things in a small handbag by waving a magic wand and singing a bunch of nonsense words. Or so is my understanding from intense study of The Sword in the Stone. I would totally go for this method if I could only find my wand. I must have already packed it somewhere.
  • Around the 12th Century, you'd just drop all of your crap and try to get away from the Mongols. They were coming for you man, so you had to get booking. While this option had to be exciting and can't have involved a whole lot of preparation, it falls lower on my list of preferred moving options.
  • In 14th Century Europe (the time of the Bubonic plague) you'd sometimes die before you started packing, which saved a lot of trouble. Most people probably didn't move though, because they were trying to avoid human contact; as long as they didn't die where they lived, they were doing better than a lot of their neighbors.
  • 17th Century - you'd pack up only your most precious belongings, take a several-month-long cruise on a ship across the ocean, living off rancid food, unpredictable weather, and shipmates with horrible morning breath, only to reach your destination where you had to build your own dwelling and probably die there during the winter. I'm afraid I'm not much of a gambler, so I don't think I would have enjoyed this option either.
  • 19th Century United States involved a brisk walk for hundreds of miles in shoes that probably didn't fit right, decades before Dr. Scholl ever went to med school. The weather was harsh, the diseases were deadly, and the roads weren't paved. Many even had to pull or push the carts containing their possessions under their own power. I have nightmares after playing The Oregon Trail, so I probably wouldn't have done too well going this route in real life.
I suppose comparatively the present day practice of moving is significantly less of a hassle and risk of life and limb than it has been throughout most of history. I really shouldn't whine as much as I do, but I'll probably still let out a couple of whimpers and pouts over the next week. Please bear with me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramble On

Everything is slowly falling into place for the move. We're in a bit of a stalemate where we've packed most of the non-essentials, but have too much time still here to pack the necessities. This will be my last week of work (thank goodness), and then it will be all about getting us out of here.

Avey describes her feelings as mixed. She will be sad to leave all of the fun places we've discovered here, but she is ecstatic about the pool at our new place. She's been a very good sport through all of this, and we're sure she'll thrive wherever she's planted.

She's been particularly hilarious lately. The other night at dinner she had invited a puppet by the name of Dough Boy to join us. She spent the majority of the meal intensely interviewing our guest about very personal things. After several minutes of me playing ventriloquist, she asked him why he was so fat. I thought I would have a little fun with the scenario and try to get a laugh out of Kira too, so I answered for Dough Boy that he had fallen prey to a vicious cycle where he was depressed because of his weight, and the only comfort he found was in food. Avey, always the amateur therapist (thanks to her parentage), reached out a pretend handful to Dough Boy and said, "Oh. Well, want some bacon?"

Here she is performing for herself in front of the mirror earlier this week:
She has also been suffering from a major case of the whys the past couple of days. She recently asked me why a dog didn't want another animal to bite him. I answered that he didn't want to get hurt. She asked why he didn't want to get hurt. I said no animals like to get hurt. She wanted to know why. I came up with some answer, to which the reply came, "Why?" Our conversations go like this a lot lately.

We need to teach that girl how to use Google.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I've Learned in Prison

Ahh, shock value... I'm beginning to see the appeal. If you're a recent addition to the enormous-and-constantly-growing readership of The Ricks Experiment, the title of today's post may have thrown you off guard momentarily. Adventurous as T.R.E. audience members are, I'm sure you will venture on to explore the meaning of the title. Yes, I have been in and out of prison for the last 2 years, I admit; but it was entirely voluntary every time (well, I suppose employment is a prison in itself in many ways, but that's for another post). I am within 2 weeks of my final date of employment, or as we like to call it in the corrections industry, my "Mandatory Release Date." I have worked as a psychotherapist with the offenders in several of Colorado's correctional facilities, from medium security all the way to the supermax security, where I am currently. This position has allowed me a great deal of face time with the outcasts of American society, and, I believe, has left me with some valuable experience and interesting perspectives. I would like to share some of what I have learned in the last 2 years, in no particular order.
  • Aggression is not learned, but self control is.
  • Criminal thinking is very often taught.
  • Almost everyone exists with the inherent assumption that they are reasonable people.
  • The greatest hope we have of building a better, more functional world is through functional familial relationships.
  • I look like a nerd in a tie and slacks.
  • No matter how bad I think I have it, somebody has it far worse than I could have imagined.
  • As Nietzsche said, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
  • The difference between a miserable person and a content person is how he or she approaches the world. Perspective is everything.
  • We are none of us perfect, and taking an honest look at ourselves is perhaps the most difficult, but most rewarding task we may undertake.
  • Many seemingly "normal" citizens are just as sociopathic as those behind bars (I think I probably dated some years ago), they have just found adaptive or legal ways of being sociopathic.
  • I can't last very long without a little fresh air.
  • Sometimes the best therapy is a little bit of intentional listening.
  • When it rains, it really does pour.
  • Among the largest challenges to criminals is understanding and accepting that they are in control of their destinies, not simply victims of the rest of the world.
  • The little things we do today lead to the things we will be doing tomorrow.
I'm sure I could go on and on, but these are probably the most significant things I've learned. Some of these are hopefully intuitive to most of you, but I believe that my experiences among the criminal population has driven these home for me.

Of course, my Ph.D. program is a legal concentration, so I'm sure I'll be spending more time in prisons. I just hope they'll continue to let me leave whenever I want.

P.S. We have finalized our address in Texas. If you did not receive an email with our updated address and would like it, please leave a comment with your email address or another way to contact you. I'll delete the comment as soon as I send the address to you. Please be advised that we prefer to get mail containing good news.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We're within 1 month of our move now, and things are slowly coming together. I've got a truck reserved, I got credits transferred to cover my 1st year statistics class, I've packed about a dozen boxes, and we signed the lease on our new place on Friday! We're beginning to feel the tension of the approaching deadline, however, as you can see by Avey's nervous nail-biting:
I'm half tempted to just bag up everything and haul it over to Goodwill, but I'm afraid that they wouldn't want half of it. Of course, Avey wants to keep everything in sight, so we've had to sneak some things away that she hasn't played with for months. So far so good. Now if we can just hold those same standards for our toys, we'll be able to lighten the load pretty significantly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in Business

Please excuse the lack of a post last week; we were just getting home from a trip to Texas and were very busy recovering, etc. Kira and I were off hunting for a place to crash for the next 3-4 years, and Kira’s parents were gracious enough to keep Avey for us for a few days to increase our productivity. In brief, our trip established a few important things: (a) Texas is a hot place, (b) we are both wimps, (c) we love our daughter, and (d) Avey is nearly oblivious (or perhaps “indifferent” would be the more appropriate word) to our existence. Allow me to explain:

A. It was about 103 degrees Fahrenheit the first day of our hunt. Of course, we were in and out of the car all day as well, and the car had to have been a good 10 degrees more as the concept of shaded parking has not yet caught on in the Lone Star State.

B. We were thus quick to establish that we cannot live without central AC wherever we live while residing in said climate.

C. The first hour or so of our separation from her majesty was liberating, but emotions quickly turned into longing when my attempts to tickle Kira’s tummy were met with less giggling and more slapping than the same would reap from Avey. Seriously though, we were both so focused on our task at hand that we were able to ward off the depression of being away from Little Miss Sunshine pretty well. That is, until we called her to check in. Her rating on the adorable scale is a function of our time and distance away from her (for the math geeks, a = t x d), because every word out of her mouth made us homesick.

D. Which brings me to the next item. Avey was polite enough to us on the phone, mostly updating us on the status of her moth jar, and reminding us that the room in which she slept was green, “[her] favorite color!” But the more we called her, the less interested she seemed to be in us. One day we called for the second time and she asked, “Hi Mommy and Daddy! Why are you calling me?” Naturally, we told her it was because we love and miss her. If we could have seen her, I’m sure we’d have seen her rolling her eyes when she responded, “Again?!?” We worried that we would arrive home to pick her up and she’d have moved on from our relationship, but she impressed us very much; we quietly opened the door to the dining room where she was sitting, looking elsewhere. I don’t know if it was staged, but we overheard her ask her grandparents, “When are Mommy and Daddy getting here?” Then she saw us, and it seemed as if she were dreaming for a moment until she realized that we really were there. She smiled widely and then hugged and kissed us for several minutes, giggling all the while. Nice to know we’ve had some impact on her life.

So we’re pretty sure we’ve found a home, but we’re waiting on the application stuff to all go through. We’ll let you know.

In other news, it was Kira’s birthday this week! She chose to spend her special day engaging in a family pastime and source of PTSD for me: water skiing! It was a pleasant day – Kira got in a lot of water time, and I was able to avoid the pain and humiliation by acting out scenes of Muppet Treasure Island over and over with Avey in the designated swimming area while she floated in her little inflatable “boat”. In retrospect, maybe impersonating a fictional frog and pig who are in love should be more embarrassing to me than skipping across the lake on my face at 25 m.p.h. I’ll consider it…

She appreciated all of the phone calls, emails, messages, and tweets. She truly is loved and valued, and we are all lucky to have her in our lives. Avey and I especially would be lost without her. Here’s to several more years to celebrate!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


One of the characteristics I hoped and prayed (and, quite frankly, predicted) my daughter would possess is that of compassion for others. Even before I knew I would eventually begin to work therapeutically with the criminal population, and witness the horrors that result from antisocial thinking and behavior, I desired above all that empathy would be an inherent trait in my offspring. It looks as though my prayers were answered; Avey has a soft spot for all creatures both real and fantastic. She is even able to relate with a plethora of nonliving things, such as rocks, clothing, books, clothespins, etc. As Abraham Lincoln said, "If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it," Avey seems to look for the good in everyone and everything - refusing to believe that there are useless objects, meaningless creatures, or lost souls. She has apparently taken the ideological stance that if it exists there must be something beautiful about it. Observe her philosophy on a creature whom I have a hard time restraining myself from killing:
Notice her choice of words, "I love moths a little bit." Instead of mostly hating them, she has chosen to see the vermin as a proverbial glass half full (or in this case maybe only a few drops full). I'm lucky that she is my daughter - it seems that I still have volumes to learn.

I've been under the weather for about half of the week. Avey, astute as always, caught on to this during dinner one evening and queried, "Are you sick Daddy?" I answered in the affirmative, giving her a pouty lip just to punctuate the circumstance. She considered for a moment, making her diagnosis, and then suggested, "Maybe salt will help!"

Ah yes, even though she was clueless as to how to treat my symptoms, she combined her three years of pre-basic first aid knowledge and came up with the best solution she could. I have to admit though, after laughing for about 3 full minutes I did feel significantly better. In this case certainly, it is the thought that counts.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day '11

Another nice Father's Day this year; got a nap, a nice meal, a few gifts, and a sincere apology from my child. It was pretty funny actually; a couple of days ago Avey and I were home alone, getting ready for bed, and Avey told me in her most apologetic voice, "Daddy, I'm sorry that I'm getting older." I was sincerely touched that she would know and care that I am saddened that she will not always be my "little" girl, but for a moment I was also horrified that I had somehow warped her. I took a moment to have a mini-freak-out imagining that she would be some kind of Peter Pan complex case - still acting like she's 3 at age 15, still sleeping with stuffed animals when she's 20, still demanding that everything in the house be green (her favorite color), and so on. I used the opportunity to explain the terms "mixed feelings," and "bittersweet" to her. She seems like she'll be okay getting older now, but agreed to still live next door to me even after she is a mommy.
In the car yesterday Avey and I were having a conversation, and she was being a little bit argumentative. I asked, challenging, "Do you wanna fight?" She snapped right back, "No Daddy! I do not want a piece of you!"
For some reason idioms are hilarious when toddlers use them. They're even funnier when they use them in slightly wrong ways. This father thing is the best job I've ever had by far!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I suppose the grass really is always greener on the other side. When we're in the dead of winter I'm ready for summer; and when it's in the upper 80's in June I'm ready for the winter again. Of course, the grass isn't greener in winter. It's actually not green at all, at least 'round these parts.
Anyway, I've decided we really are sissies. Air conditioning hasn't even been around that long in the grand scheme of things, but somehow the human race has survived for thousands of years even when unable to escape temperatures up to and including 89 degrees Fahrenheit. And yet right around 78, my entire body shuts down to the point where I feel utterly incapable of disturbing my catatonic state on the couch to get up and dish a bowl of ice cream. We do have air conditioning here in the house, luckily, or I might have ended up in a coma while writing this. On a completely unrelated note, the forecast in El Paso for this Thursday is 105!

Honestly, I think my lack of energy is more related to my lack of motivation than the heat. We finally got around to looking into housing for our move this week (making sure AC is a feature)!

I'm sorry we have no new pictures or video this week. We've been pretty busy. Just this week Avey's developed interest in dancing and bugs. She woke up one morning and decided that she likes moths and wants to hold one in her hand. So I, being the tender father I am, wounded one, but before finishing him off, let it flutter around in her palm before falling to the floor. Think that'll scar her for life? Anyway, she later had me "catch" a dead one in a jar so she could watch it while she ate. I think that's a little funny, but what scares me is that she knew it was dead, but still wanted it put in the jar anyway.

Random update: Scarver, the guy who killed Jeffery Dahmer, is now housed in the prison where I work. One way to know that you've been working in prison too long is when you kind of want to get the autograph of the guy who killed one of the most infamous serial killers in history.

I think I should compile a post of "things I learned in prison" before we move.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blog Post

Attention-grabbing opening statement, engaging reader. Brief statement foreshadowing humorous and interesting anecdote. Narrative covering history before alluded-to whimsical episode, including word play, self-deprecating humor, reference to pop culture, or otherwise comical element. Build up to jest's zenith with analogous reference to everyday life. Punch line. Insert heartwarming photograph depicting familiar figures in pose/situation which is mildly humorous. Segue into strong family-oriented statements, including bittersweet reflections on the scarcity of time, importance of commonplace events, strength of relational bonds, etc. Drive point home with reassuring statement that cost-benefit ratio of parental obligation is encouraging. Close with final sentence that may leave reader questioning the sincerity of previous statement, but with enough jovial sense that reader ultimately concludes the writer jests. Repeat sequence weekly until death.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Well, it seems that I published the previous post too soon. It turns out I have ridden an elephant (I am at the end of the line):
So how do you like that? Turns out I had a pretty cool childhood after all. I guess it's moms that never forget. Good work Nana Laura for enlightening me!


If you're reading this right now, it means that someone made it through. Someone survived. We've fought them off as best we can, but it appears all of our efforts have been in vain. For every one we kill, two more take its place. We are nearly overrun. The worst part is the fluttering. The constant fluttering, the chills up the spine, the surprise attacks after opening every door. These moths will be the death of us all. Our resolve is waning, as we are down to our last 2 functional fly swatters, and running out of places to bury the dead. Whoever gets this, please tell our story, that others might know of our plight...

Seriously though, I hate moths. For the last 3 days they come out of nowhere as soon as the sun is down, and then they fly around our lamps, smacking into the bulbs and each other like idiots. Do moths even have brains? Or are they like jellyfish, just drifting and annoying the rest of the world?

Anyway, this was quite the week of novelty. We went to a circus Monday night, where Avey got to see real clowns, acrobats, tigers, a bear, and even ride an elephant (she's the only one facing the camera):
The elephants put on quite the impressive show, but Avey seemed more concerned about her little cheese crackers throughout the displays. She doesn't seem to get how cool it is that she rode an elephant. I'm nearly 30, and I've never even touched an elephant!

We also decided to take the plunge this week and get Avey's hair cut. Here is a photo of it at maximum length, having never been cut since birth:
When we suggested she get the haircut, she said that she wanted a "boy haircut," like mine. We tried to get her to explain why she wanted it that short, but didn't ever really get a great reply. After a little coaxing, she agreed to keep her girl cut, but declared that she would get a boy haircut someday and just walk behind everybody so that they wouldn't see it. Here she is during the operation:
And below is the finished product. Be prepared for me to begin writing more freak-out posts in the future as she experiences more firsts, and I wrestle with the reminders of her growing up. It's almost like I can feel my youth evaporating from my body as I write this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Call me prejudiced, but I thought it was usually boys who are obsessed with cowboys. Avey, however, has loved pretending to be a "rootin' tootin'" cowboy for some time now, going months back to a certain Elmo's World about the Wild Wild West. I think we inherited it from my brother, and Avey instantly fell in love. It probably has something to do with the fact that they get to ride horses all day and wear those spiffy hats. Her interest in cowboys seems to have been reinforced by her recent introduction to Toy Story 2, in which the hero is Woody, a cowboy toy:
She's really been studying the cowboy way of life too. For example, this week a friend of hers came by while in town, and through the conversation revealed that her father is a cowboy. Avey became ecstatic at this news, and the barrage of questions began. When could we meet him? Does he wear a real cowboy hat? What color is the hat? Does he have a horse? What's his horse's name? And so on. A few minutes after her little friend had to head home, Avey and I continued on a walk and she, still lost in her fascination, speculated, "Dad! Maybe her cowboy daddy says 'tarnation'!"

After all, that is the mark of a genuine cowboy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


We were graced this week with a nice visit from Kira's brother, his wife, and their baby. Avey's auntie somehow found the time between feedings to spoil Avey and Kira with some fancy nail painting:
Unfortunately, I was stuck at work all day and didn't get home in time to have my own done. Maybe next time they're in town...
Other than the pleasant visit, there's not been a whole lot to tell about, so here are a few updates on Avey:
  • Yesterday she started using the phrase "after all." We were sitting at the dinner table having a riveting discussion on a Pixar film or something along those lines, and she said the phrase a few times. "After all, Dad, Sully is a good guy," she'd say.
  • I taught her recently what a cylinder is. She started identifying cylinders around the room, but slowly faded from saying "cylinder" and finally drifted to something that sounded more like "calendar."
  • She can identify about two thirds of the alphabet consistently, and has been working on identifying words that begin with which letter. We've been informally coaching her on some basics of reading, and she's taken an interest. Maybe we'll have her reading in the next year or so!
  • Avey upgraded to a "big girl bed" a few weeks ago. That just means that we took the front rail off of her crib. She loves the freedom, but has fallen out a couple of times in the middle of the night. Kira and I will hear a soft thud, and then a second later, an exhausted little cry. When we go in to console her she mumbles some disoriented nonsense until we lay her back in bed. It's actually pretty funny to us, but we try to feel bad all the same.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


A very happy Mothers' Day to all! I hope everybody called their moms today and thanked them for tolerating all that we children put them through! I was in charge of Avey only slightly more than most days today, and I got a pretty big wake up call about how hard it can be to deal with a little princess all the time. For some reason Avey decided that she would make sure I paid my dues, and had two potty accidents over the course of the day for me to clean up. It's kind of sad how Kira and I both went to 6 years of college in the hopes of keeping from having to do that kind of work, and yet here we are cleaning up poop, doing food preparation, and attempting to smile at our "customer" as she tells us that nothing we do is helpful. We sometimes begin to understand why so many people these days are opting to let the television raise their kids (here's a funny article on a similar subject).

We have had quite the busy week! Yesterday was the Blossom Festival, and we (i.e., Avey) dragged two of my brothers around town to all of the little fun spots. They even waited patiently while Avey got her face painted. She chose a dragon, but we lost one of his eyes while playing at the park later:
We also purchased yet another betta fish! We decided to throw down the extra money this time and get one that actually eats. He's made it 8 days now, so we think he just might make it a little while. Avey chose another red one, and named him "Elmo" just like the last one. We'll be sure to follow his antics closely over the next year or so.

Earlier this week Avey was sitting at the table attempting to keep herself entertained. She typically accomplishes this by imagining inanimate objects are living beings, and making them interact with one another. This often creates problems, as her spoon and fork nearly always are the stars of her play, but her unimaginative parents also need her utensils to help direct the food from her plate to her mouth. These conflicting roles are often the subject of great dissonance at the table. I tried to explain to her at dinner the other night that I needed to "borrow" her fork to help her take a bite. She barely muffled the impatience with my naivety in her voice as she said, "No, Dad. My fork is not a fork - it's a girl!" I chuckled internally and decided that I might add to the fun. I picked up my glass and suggested that it was a rocket ship. This time she made no attempt to hide her disgust with me, and informed me that my glass was "just a glass." She almost seemed legitimately worried that I was losing my mind, because she added, "Look at it" just to drive her point home.

Well, I did look at it. I concede that it is no rocket ship, but you have to admit it sure would have taken her little fork and spoon game to a whole new level.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Kira and I celebrated our 6th anniversary this week! "Celebrated" may be a bit of an exaggeration though, as we have been trying to be more thrifty in preparation for our move at the end of the summer. We did spend a couple of hours away from Her Majesty, and had a little evening picnic and Frisbee toss until we came home for ice cream and the last half of a classic 8Os flick, The Last Starfighter. Avey was very kind to us and slept in until after 8 on Saturday, and until about 7:20 this morning! And that's the greatest gift of all!

It's hard to believe that it's already been 6 years! It's been nice looking back through old posts to remember all that we've experienced over that time - good, bad, and ugly. I just hope the next 6 years are as good as the first six!
Avey has really been into games lately, as you'll recall from her Monopoly interest. This week it's been a little bit more about Hide & Seek. Usually the way we play is that Daddy will randomly hide when Avey is looking for him, then Daddy sneaks up on her and surprises her. That must have been provoking too much anxiety because Avey changed the rules recently. Now she tells me where she is going to hide, and tells me to "look in wrong places first," then find her. That might take some of the fun out of it normally, but even when I don't know in advance where she's hiding, she squeals and giggles in anticipation so that I can hear her from the other side of the house. Even when it's my turn she tells me where to hide, and still acts surprised to find me right where she told me to be.

I guess to her it is more of a role playing game than a competition.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

[Catchy Title]

Happy Easter everyone! As is tradition for us, we spent time with family for the annual egg hunt and lots of good food. Kira and Avey spent hours in preparation for the festivities by saving, dyeing, and filling the eggs with delicious treats. It's been our luck for the past couple of years that it's been very cold during our egg hunts, and this year was no different. Luckily Avey's adventurous zeal (or perhaps her sweet tooth) kept her from getting discouraged, and we pressed on.
Avey really loves to be around family. She doted on her baby cousins, played with the older cousins and her uncles, and performed for grandparents. While we were at my mother's house, Avey said out of nowhere, "Maybe when I am older, I could live with Nana and be her daughter!" I empathized that it would be fun, but lamented that I wanted her to be my daughter even when she gets older. She quashed my concern as she informed me that "It's okay. You will just have another daughter, named Ava." She then went on to explain how we would spell our other daughter's name; A-V-O-E-... [trails off]. She did reassure me that I could still be her daddy, even if she becomes Nana's daughter. That blunted the blow a little.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Obviously, the biggest thing that happened this week was deciding to attend more school in Texas this Fall. This move comes with mixed emotions;
  • On the one hand I'm excited to continue my education, but on the other hand I am dreading homework.
  • I'm glad to be able to leave my job (which I haven't liked very much), but I really enjoyed having money.
  • I'm thrilled to be closer to family I've not lived near for most of my life, but I'm quite sad to leave family I have lived near most of my life.
  • I'm excited to be so close to exotic Mexico, but concerned I'll get kidnapped and murdered.
You know, the usual emotions that come with change.
Seriously though, we know this move is yet another investment in our future, we've survived moving before, and El Paso is one of the safest cities around (Juarez, however, is another story).
We'll adapt to this change, as we've always done in the past.
On another note, Avey made a big step in her cognitive development in the past couple of weeks. For the last year or so, she's used the number 5 as basically the biggest number in the universe. In her mind, 5 was equivalent to infinity. For example, she might estimate that there were 5 blades of grass in our lawn, or 5 hairs on her head. I can't really blame her; after all, once you reach 5 you max out the number of fingers on one hand. How else should one continue to count? But now she's been using the phrase "an hundred of..." to describe large quantities of things. For example, she'll want "an hundred of crackers" with her lunch. Anyway, I was pretty impressed.

Also, she has been acting out the same scenario in several places lately. The general storyline is that a male something meets a female something, they have to dance with each other briefly until the male dips her, they kiss, and then Avey pronounces them married. She also usually adds that the female is suddenly with child after the kiss. I guess that's what we get for teaching her everything about biology through Disney movies. Ignorance is probably okay at this age though.