Summer's Here!

Well, it may as well be. The temperature in the past few days has gone from the high-50's/low-60's to the mid-/high-90's. To say that the difference between the relatively cool weather and the relatively warm weather is dramatic is an understatement. There was no warning, no tentative increase over the space of a couple of weeks, to herald the approach of summer.

My car is covered in a thick coating of pollen. Normally blue, it is now a yellowish-green. Carpenter bees buzz as they fly clumsily around the patio, the stairs outside, and over the crowns of the verdant bushes along the walkway to the parking lot. The only thing missing is the cicadas, but I figure they're coming. Any day now, just wait.

March saw Stephen turn four years old. He's turned into such a big kid, it's amazing to me that he was ever as small as Madeline. Not to mention that Maddy is growing and growing and growing, too. She's huge! And the terrible twos? Let's just say that they've been a lot more interesting with Madeline (and not in a particularly good way) than they ever were with Stephen.

Welcome to Tantrum City, population: Us.

With that preamble out of the way, I suppose I'll post a few pictures for the fans out there (with appropriate commentary, of course). Sit back, relax, and witness the new faces of my pride and joy.

Stephen and Madeline at the Aerospace Museum

For Stephen's birthday, I took him and his sister to the Aerospace Museum to see the planes. They were both relatively well-behaved, but they ran me ragged. Literally. Video below to prove it:

Later on in the evening, we celebrated Stephen's special day with ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.

Stephen blows out his candle. I wonder what his wish was?

Since Stephen's birthday, we've been out a few times. I've taken the kids hiking at a nearby park. With one of them, it's manageable. With both of them, let's just say it's like herding cats. Madeline would rather play with dirt, and Stephen likes to fill his pockets with rocks. See below for a glimpse of our last expedition:

The kids, hiking. Me, behind the camera, saying, "Come on, guys!"

So that's our world in a nutshell. I'll try to get a picture of my pollen-laden car, because it's unreal. There's so much pollen on my car that it reduces my mileage. Well, not really. But still, it's disturbing.

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Photo Update

A quick photo update!

Maddy's Birthday (Ice Cream) Cake

Maddy blows out her candles (with a little help from Stephen)

She really enjoyed her cake...

...and so did Stephen!

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Two Years Ago, Today

Two years ago this morning, Amy and I were sitting in a hospital room waiting for Madeline to show up. I took a quick video, and here it is. You can hear Maddy's heart beating through the machinery that's hooked up to Amy's belly. Don't worry about what we're saying, it's not all that important.

After she finally arrived, Madeline did her best to keep us worried. Puffy and obviously uncomfortable, she had trouble breathing. They put her under an oxygen hood and I sat with her while the doctors fixed Amy up.

Later that day, Amy and Madeline got a formal introduction. Maddy was tired, and so was Amy. Amy also had a headache from her spinal anesthesia, and wasn't feeling real hot.

By the time we bundled Maddy up and took her home, we were all ready to kiss the hospital goodbye. It was a rough few days, but having Maddy home at last was worth the wait.

Today, Madeline's a very precocious two-year old. She's very much about what is hers and, more importantly, what isn't everyone else's. She has a temper, and she doesn't care who knows it. But much of the time, she's very sweet and I feel that I'm a very lucky father. After all, she's got a wonderful personality, she's beautiful, and she never fails to make me smile with her singing and dancing.

Happy Birthday, little girl.




It's been a long time since I've posted here. No excuses.

Everyone is doing well. Virginia is moving on towards winter, and you can feel it in the chilly morning air. Stephen often asks to go down to the playground, but once he feels how cold it is outside he begs to come back inside.

Madeline is in her fuss mode a lot lately. We figure it's just that age; Amy seems to remember that Stephen was fussy around this time, too, but I'm not so sure. Maybe it's just one of those things I choose not to remember. It doesn't help that we're weening her off of pacifiers, a crutch that Stephen never bothered to pick up.

Oh, the humanity!

Yesterday was the annual Mythic Halloween party (for the kids). Employees with small children brought them in for games and trick or treating. Last year, Stephen was terrified of dressing up. This year, he's gung ho about free candy.

Here's a picture or two of the little guy in his Jedi costume!

Bring on the Sith!

At least he believes me when I say, "I am your father!"

More later, when we have the real Halloween!

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Stephen's First Movie

Fourth of July was hot and rainy. We were invited over to my co-worker Amber's house for fireworks and a BBQ. Only thing was, Amy had developed an earache, and wasn't really up to it. In the end, Stephen and I went and Amy stayed home with Maddy.

The BBQ was a nice social occasion. Amber's husband, Craig, and some of his co-workers set off some smaller fireworks while Stephen watched. When it was dark enough, they started setting off the larger fountains. While the little ones were fine with Stephen, the volume of the larger ones (the bangs, pops, and whistles) hurt his ears. In the end, we decided to go home.

Our arrival home was just in time: seated on our sofa, looking out the sliding glass door, we could see a large fireworks display over the apartment buildings across the way. It had been going strong for nearly twenty minutes, and didn't end for another fifteen.

The next day, Saturday, was a milestone for Stephen. He'd been doing such a good job with the potty training that he earned a trip to the movies to see WALL-E. He was originally going to go with his mommy, but he decided that he'd rather go see it with me. It seems that, lately, he's in a pro-daddy mode.

The movie experience was new for him, and he enjoyed it. He was very serious about being quiet, so much so that he peered around at the other (noisier) kids with no small amount of disdain. It was almost a solemn affair for him. He watched everything, from the pre-show features, to the previews, to the film itself very attentively. He ate popcorn by the handful, and helped himself to nearly an entire soft drink during the film.

As might be expected, he had to pee when the movie was over. Only thing was, he didn't mention it until we were out of the theater and on our way to the car. I asked him if he could hold it until we got home, and he said he could. I even told him he could go in his pull-up if he wanted to, but he replied that he could hold it until we got home.

It was a very quiet, ten-minute drive. He concentrated on not peeing the whole way home. When we did finally get home, he ran to the bathroom and took care of business. He didn't pee one drop in his pull-up. He's turning into such a big boy!

Stephen Loves Lemonade

Today, I bought a bag of lemons at CostCo and Stephen and I made lemonade. Ever since I juiced limes for ceviche a few weeks ago, I've been telling Stephen that we could make lemonade. It came down to eight cups of water to one cup of fresh lemon juice to one cup of simple syrup, and it's very good. Just ask him.

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Long Overdue

It started just before tax day, and it's been going strong ever since. It seems that the typical 24 hour day had been truncated. Some days, it was only 18 hours long. Others, it was 22 hours in length. On average, it seemed to last about 20 hours, give or take fifteen minutes one way or the other.

I can't understand it. What caused it? Who do I blame? Could it be an alien plot? A result of nearly eight years of Bush administration rule? Faulty immigration laws? An Illuminati-driven conspiracy? Or, perhaps, some sinister drug pumped into the Fairfax County water supply? Maybe it's just a side effect of springtime?

I'm still not sure. I don't know if I'll ever find out.

The symptoms came on gradually, and seemed unrelated at first. Bananas seemed to ripen faster than they used to. My beard growth increased. The children's clothes weren't fitting. If a task at work used to take two days to finish, it was suddenly taking three days to complete.

The simple fact of the matter is that I didn't have as much time as I needed anymore. I'd be lucky to see my children for two hours a night before I had to usher them off to bed.

It's something I've had to come to grips with, and despite all the half-cocked theories I've thrown around, I've come to the conclusion that I know what is causing this loss of temporal mass: age. The older I get, the faster time seems to pass me by.

That said, I'm sure that many of you would rather look at pictures of my offspring than hear about my loss of sanity. So I'll bring you up to date on Stephen and Maddy.

Last weekend was the Mythic employee picnic. It took place at the National Zoo in DC. We were given frisbees, fed well, hydrated, and then sent out to look at the animals. The kids were really well-behaved, despite the long bus rides to and from the zoo. It was a sunny, breezy day, despite a weather forecast that called for thunderstorms.

Stephen got his face painted. There was some debate as to what he would have painted on his cheeks: a cat? A bird? A lizard? He wanted a butterfly. I didn't have any problem with that. He's three! It might not be the most stereotypically masculine animal on the planet, but butterflies are boys, too.

Madeline enjoyed the fresh air, too, in her cute little ball cap. She didn't seem to care that we were at the zoo. For all she cared, we could've been at a funeral, and she would have been just as satisfied.

We didn't see much in the way of animals. Elephants, tigers, lions, lots of turtles, bald eagles, seal lions, antelopes. Between you and I, the National Zoo isn't really all that impressive. I've been spoiled rotten by the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Nothing can really outdo either of those places for sheer style and substance.

Developmental milestones: Stephen is practically potty trained. There was that one incident I reported a while back, but that was very much an isolated event (despite our hope that it would continue). Two weeks ago, Amy decided that she was going to put the boy through "potty bootcamp," and she put him in underwear instead of a diaper. The first couple of days were hit and miss, but once Stephen got the idea, he was quick to insist on doing his business in the bathroom.

Madeline is going to be talking pretty soon. She says things that sound like words, and other things that definitely are words ("Go! Go! Go!") or expressions ("Uh-oh!). She's very expressive. Her hair is growing out. She likes to point at just about everything.

As for Amy and I, we actually we able to get out and see a movie recently. Mythic sent the whole company to the opening showing of Ironman, and Karen babysat for us. It was the first movie we've seen in Virginia since we arrived here last July, and the second movie we've seen since the movie (the first being No Country for Old Men, which we saw in CA over Christmas).

My freelance life has been busy. It doesn't help that I'm completely drained of life by the time I get out of work. It should ease up soon, though, once the current projects are put to bed, and then I can rest.

I've even been looking at joining a local Civil War unit, but it would mean buying all new uniforms and gear -- there aren't any Union cavalry units in my area. They're all CSA. Go figure!


Stephen is Three

Stephen turned three years old on Friday. He was fairly excited about it, and he seemed to enjoy all the attention. He even went so far as to tell his mother, "I'm three, mommy. I don't need to take a nap."

He's fallen into a pattern of behavior in the past few weeks that seems to be standard three year-old: screaming. It seems to be based on frustration, because it tends to occur when it's time to shift gears, go to bed, eat ... well, anything, really.

Example: Last night, he and I were playing with his Lincoln Logs, building a little house. It was time for his bath, and I told him so, to which he stood up, screamed, and ran into the corner, all sorts of angry. Nothing really placated him; he was mad because I was making him stop playing with his logs.

Well, we made it into the bathroom (him kicking and struggling the whole way), got him into the tub, and then he was fine. Of course, when it was time to get out of the tub, we had more fussing and screaming. Suddenly, the kid who didn't want to take a bath didn't want to stop taking a bath.

Just about everything is a struggle. I can only assume he's trying to establish some kind of control over his life. We give him lots of choices, and it's not like he gets away with murder. Hopefully, it will pass after a time. Seems that it's a pretty common trope among three year-old kids.

I still love him, of course, and he's good more often than he's rotten. I feel sorry for him, because he's at a point where he's on an emotional roller coaster. He can't control his emotions very well, and that's got to be pretty rough.

Maddy, of course, continues to be cute as a button. She says, "Uh-oh," now, which is pretty hilarious.

She like playing with the Lincoln Logs, too!

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