Friday, January 30, 2009

Good-bye to a Feline Friend



Kaylee had to make a very mature decision. A hard one, but a decision only she could make. For her 9th birthday Mike and I let Kaylee choose a kitten to bring home for her very own. She choose a noisy little tabby cat that was cute as a button and that really wanted to come home with us. The problem was that this little cat was afraid. I mean afraid of everyone and everything. She occasionally would let us pet her and Kaylee hold her. But that trust wasn't consistent and it never lasted long. We decided after three years of coaxing and sweet talking with no lasting affect. That maybe Tabby's nature was to be wild, a feral cat, one who would be happier in a barn chasing mice, away from the people she so feared.

Last night a new family came and picked up Tabby. They live in Gig Harbor on 5 acres. We hope she will be happier there. Kaylee is sad, she will miss her loved one. I am proud of her, what an unselfish choice she has made, a mature one.

Good-bye Tabby, we hope that you will enjoy your new home, bounding through acres of land, catching mice and being free to be a wild kitty. We love you!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why I Blog



My cousin Marilyn did a tribute to blogging last week, and I'm borrowing her logo graphic for this post. I've written several times about how many great things I've experienced through blogging, the greatest of which is all the family members I'm growing close to after way too many years of no real communication. I've been there... No sense going there again right now!

But what I have been thinking about, that I haven't really talked about before, is why I like blogging better than the other social web stuff that's always coming and going.

For example: I had a myspace account for about 30 minutes. Hated hanging out there so much that I cancelled it less than an hour after creating it. There were several things I hated about it - for one thing, there seemed to be an overall feeling of "ick" to it. Like hanging out at WalMart. Or worse. And then there is the fact that myspace and its addicts have gone a long way to kill the web with painfully bad visual design. A fair amount of that has crept into the blog world too... When I go to a blog that has a really busy layout, say a static picture that's not toned down at all, and then has text floating above it, that's just barely two shades lighter or darker than the prevailing color of the background, and you have to scroll the text up and down to get it to stay over the parts of the background that you can actually see it against... It's pretty close to seizure inducing - certainly maddening, and bad enough that I excused myself from that party a couple years ago, when the 'space was at the peak of its popularity.

These days, the big big thing is Twitter. I don't have nearly as many reasons to explain why I'm not Twitterpated, but it really just boils down to a "so what" attitude. I really haven't ever said to myself "I wish I could let anyone and everyone know what I'm doing minute to minute."

If you're not familiar with the Twitter, it's like text messaging for the web. Messages have a really small size limit, and its claim to fame is that it's so easy and quick to let people know what you're up to, that you can update it for every little mundane thing. Being the "IT!" application right now, there are many people who literally live on it. While I've never created my own account, I've seen several other people's Twitter feeds highlighted - and sometimes ridiculed - on other blogs or sites. None of those have made me want to sign up and join the TwitterNation. No bad blood to those who do - it just gets a big "meh" from me.

A couple years ago I wrote about how irritating classmates.com is to deal with. For years, they had the "what ever happened to that guy I went to school with" market cornered, and despite the huge amounts of advertising interspersed within all the lists of possible classmates, they also charge what always seemed to me to be ridiculous fees to actually communicate with any long lost friends. I did get re-acquainted with my high school best friend Scott through there, but I'm pretty sure we would have gotten in touch by now anyway, thanks to the other current big thing, that often runs hand-in-hand with Twitter.

I'm talking, of course, about Facebook.

I first created a Facebook account several years ago. I never actually went there, or used it for anything, but a friend had invited me, and since I'd never heard of it at the time, I signed up to see what it was all about.

In the years since, it's grown and grown, and now just about everyone in the world is on Facebook. (obviously exaggerating here, but not by too much) My aforementioned friend Scott and I keep in tough through Facebook, which is good because I will certainly never give classmates another thin dime of my money. Why would I, when virtually everyone I went to school with is on Facebook for free?

So Facebook has some pretty great things going for it...

So why don't I like it?

I know that a couple months ago, several of my blogging cousins and friends started dipping their toes into the Facebook waters, and it was abruptly stopped by a well timed email virus that did a fair amount of damage to their systems. While I'm willing to bet that the offending email and virus didn't actually come from FB, it did enough PR damage to scare them off.

But that's not what I don't like about it.

What I don't like about Facebook, is that it's too much like a Super-Sized Twitter, which also has the benefits of being able to post pictures, videos and other things you like to share. Most people link their Twitter account to their Facebook, so that their seemingly insignificant "What Am I Doing Right Now?" feed is published in both places for even more to see.

But if that's all it was, I wouldn't mind. Sometimes it's fun to know that Rob is worshipping his iphone again, or that Glen is suffering with 100 degree heat at 9:00 in the morning. And there's no denying that it's kind of exciting to get an alert that someone from high school, whose name you haven't heard for years, stumbled upon you and wants to be Facebook Friends. Of all the aspects of FB, that's the one that has most captured my interest, and kept me coming back.

But...

Once re-connected with people that I haven't seen in over 20 years, and who - and this applies to the vast majority of them - I really never had anything in common with anyway, other than that our parents bought houses in the same community, and we probably liked some of the same music, but I tend to think there's a reason we didn't stay in touch after graduation... Anyway, once re-connected with these people, your Facebook news feed quickly fills up with not only their usually innocuous status updates, but also what I call app-spam, updates from the hundreds of applications running on the site.

So while scanning down to see cool tidbits like Rachel having an exciting countdown of some sort, I have to sift through 25 different announcements that:

[NAME YOU VAGUELY RECOGNIZE] Has Just Moved Up A Level In Mob Wars!!

OH. MY. GOSH. There is NO WAY I could have gone through this day without knowing that.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!

[ANOTHER NAME OF SOME PERSON] Has Sent You A Piece Of Flair!!

Well, it's a GOOD THING that I took my thyroid medicine this morning, otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep up with the excitement of GETTING SOME FLAIR!!

Wow.

Luckily, you can adjust the "newsfeed" to show more or less of the types of things you do or don't want to see. I've done that. It's quited things down a lot. And you know what I've found?

I can go three or four days without checking in, and when I do again, the items that were most recent at my last check, are only maybe a quarter of the way down the page. If I had all the "OH WOW, SOMEBODY IS GOING ON ANOTHER DRAGON QUEST!" noise pouring in, it would be the other way around. It's amazing how high the noise-to-signal ratio is.

I do check in once every day or two, because like I said, there are a lot of people there that I don't see anywhere else, and they occasionally have something worthwhile going on, like Glen's heatwave. And I have my blog imported to my FB, which works out well because that's where Scott (high school best friend) reads it, and comments on it, and we converse back and forth.

But it amazes me that through its premise of bite-sized chunks of info, FB has lulled the masses into thinking they have time to hang out there. After all, you rarely see more than two lines of text from any one person at any given time. But I think people would be, and ultimately will be amazed when they suddenly realize how much time they're devoting to what is 95% utter nonsense.

Getting back to the title of this post...

I blog because I can put several thoughts together, and occasionally go on rants like this. I then share my multiple thoughts with other people who also enjoy non-bite-sized chunks of info - people who also write down full length thoughts, which I enjoy reading. It's a pretty cool thing!

Plus, there are several companies out there who will take your blog and publish it into a keepsake book, a real journal of your life, which will last beyond the craze of online publishing, or Twittering, or texting... Something you can put in a time capsule for your children and/or grandchildren. Something real.

Holy Crap, I sound OLD!!

Over the past few months, I've realized that despite the other options out there, this blogging thing is cool, and is what I like to do.

Thank you Marilyn, for inspiring me to take a closer look at it.

Oh, and Marilyn has a brother, my cousin Mitch. He's not one to ever let a mockable moment go by, so this week he paid tribute to his sister's previous week's blog-love-fest with his own modified logo...



It was cool last week. And it's cool this week, and I'm guessing it'll still be cool next week.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Some Assemby Required

Tonight's activity was affectionately referred to by me as "Chico & The Man".



Let me introduce the players...



Meet Chicco! This is the stroller that matches with our carseat, so Daneekins can ride in style...

The man?? Well... uhh.. That would be me!

While attending to the highly technical job that is assembling the stroller, Little Miss Precious had a nice nap by the fireplace...



Her timing was perfect, because right as she began to make her "Hey Daddy, I'm waking up now" sounds, I was just taking the finished product for a stroll through the living room!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Latest & Greatest Danee News

I feel like I should do another Q&A post, but it's way too late and I'm way too tired to do something like that right now.

Instead, I'll just give a quick update on what's been going on.

As I mentioned the other day, with the latest video, Danee has finally passed her due date, and is a "newborn" instead of a preemie. To go along with that, she has outgrown all preemie clothes, and some of the newborn size ones are getting a little snug. The newborn diapers are also getting a little tight around the thighs... And last night, all three of us (Cindy, Danee and myself) had the worst night of sleep we've had since she was born. This evening we kept her up as much as we could, so she'll hopefully sleep more tonight.

My sister Susan recently asked when the adoption will be iron clad, to the point where she is really ours and nobody can take her from us. Susan, you can rest easy knowing that last Friday, our attorney went to court and officially terminated the father's rights. The mother had already signed hers away, but the father wasn't so cooperative, so we had to give him 30 days notice, and then cut him off. It went off without a hitch!

Next on the Adoption Agenda, is another home study. You know, in case we were just kidding when we put on the "aren't we a great family" show back in November. This second inspection needs to come once we've had Danee for 60 days. Since we brought her home on December 24, that means that sometime around February 24, we'll call the inspector guy for the follow up. We're budgeting a month or so for him to visit us, put together his report, and get it to the Pierce County adoption liaison, who in turn will send it to the court commissioner with her recommendation that we be granted permanent adoption status. Then, Cindy and I will go before the court and take an oath of some sort - kind of a parental inauguration day, only probably with fewer people attending - and then it'll be done! We'll get her new birth certificate that lists us as parents, and she will officially be ours forever.

All of that will likely take place by the latter half of March. Once it's all done, we can finally bless her in Church, which is tentatively penciled in for the first Sunday in April. We'll see how well we stick to that date! In other exciting family and Church related news, Cindy and I will be getting Sealed for Eternity this Spring also! We're really excited to be taking this big step, and are even happier to be able to do it with our sweet baby! More details will be revealed as they unfold...

Okay, so that covers Danee becoming a genuine Brinkerhoff... But we gotta keep her healthy too! And that is where this comes in:



I think they mis-spelled it on their own logo though. It really should be $YNAGI$. It's one of the new genetic engineered drugs, that is reportedly very effective at preventing infections of RSV, a nasty virus that is the leading cause of bronchiolitis and several other respiratory infections. In babies, it can be fatal.

Just so we're all on the same page, it's important.

Even more important, since we have a daycare in our home, and those little germ-magnets bring in every bug from miles around! Danee got her first dose at the hospital the day before coming home. We'd heard that it was very expensive, but nobody actually told us how much. The first dose was covered by her DSHS/Medicaid insurance, since she hadn't been placed with us yet.

For the past week, we've been wrangling with pharmacies and insurance companies trying to get her second dose lined up.

It's not a drug that's stocked at your corner pharmacy. It's overnighted from somewhere (the manufacturer maybe) the day before it's needed. It really is quite a big deal.

I got a call from the specialty pharmacy, wanting to get my insurance information so they could have our medicine sent to our doctor's office. I got as far as saying what insurance company I'm covered by, and the girl on the phone cut me off. "Oh. With that company, they don't cover the shot at your pediatrician's office. You'll have to bring her here to us."

When I asked where they were located, she initially said Everett (YIKES!) but then said "or Tukwila." For those of you not from the wet side, Everett is a good 2+ hours away, but Tukwila is just over 30 minutes. So that sounded good.

It sounded even better today, when we found out that to have it at the pediatrician's office would cost us $720. That was enough to make us build a bubble around Danee until Summer to keep her safe. $720 per month until April is not something we have in the budget, especially after all the expenses of the adoption...

Oh but wait. If we go to the pharmacy in Tukwila, it's "only" $160 per dose. Well, that's much better!

Until Danee gets a little bigger, in which case she'll need a larger dose of $ynagi$.

That larger dose will cost us $300 at the cheap location. We didn't ask how much it would be at our local Dr. office. So Wednesday at 1, Danee is going up to Tukwila to get a shot in the leg, to protect her lungs.

In case you were wondering, this starter dose retails for nearly $1000, and the larger dose is $1500.

Cindy had the first of her two baby showers tonight! It was the one put on by her friends at church, and they did a great job! She got lots of loot, and a bunch of them even pooled together and got us the stroller we wanted - the one that our carseat latches in to!

One of the ladies in our ward is a professional chef, and naturally she was recruited to make the cake. Cindy brought home some of the leftovers, and I'll verify the fact that it was a very delicious cake! In fact, it still IS a delicious cake - there is still some left, because I did NOT eat it all!

It was decorated cuter than any baby shower cake I've ever seen! (not that I've ever really seen any baby shower cakes before though) The cake was roughly the shape of a baby bed, and this fondant sculpture was sitting on top of it:



After they got home from the shower, Cindy brought Danee downstairs to get her ready for bed, while I made bottles for the overnight shift. I really wasn't too surprised to come downstairs and find the picture-perfect Mommy/Danee moment that I did, but I was sure glad that I had the camera with me! (which I did, because I'd just taken the pic of the cake topper, and wanted to post it on the blog!)



And finally to close out this update on the Danee News Network, last week the Puddle Jumpers finally got to go hands-on with our little baby girl! (not ALL of them, but a couple of the older, more trustworthy and germ free ones did...)

Here's Zoe enjoying some Danee time:



And Kaoru not only got to hold her, but he'd also made her an origami ninja hat!



That'll definitely come in handy if she ever needs to fend off someone who wants to hold her, who hasn't washed their hands!

Well there's all the news that I can think of in my half asleep state. It's definitely time for bed, and HOPEFULLY Danee will sleep for a long time so that her loving parents can too.

G'nite!

Monday, January 26, 2009

No Longer A Preemie, But Definitely Still Premium

Danee's due date was this weekend, meaning she's finally caught up with herself, and isn't hanging out here in the real world before her time!

The last few days have been amazing, as she has made changes to so many of her behaviors... One of the biggest ones really cracked me up. You'll recall that as of last Sunday, she did NOT like her carseat. Well, both yesterday and today, she fell asleep in that carseat while out running errands, and actually stayed in it,sleeping more peacefully than she had in her crib, for a couple hours... Just like a "normal" baby!

Today, to celebrate her newfound non-preemieness, we took some new pictures of her, with the hope of finding one that would work as an official portrait. Not only did we get the picture we were hoping for, but we got a very cute video of the preparations that it takes to get a 7-week old ready for pictures.

The end result was what you see here... Presented in full colour, classic black and white, and a faded antique look. We really like the antique one, so that's the one we ordered prints for the grandparents of!



Oh Boy! While I was typing up all those words, the video finished uploading to YouTube! Here is Danee getting ready for her portraits:

TIP - After clicking Play, hover over the little triangle button in the bottom right corner, and click on HQ for WAY better video!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Amazing View Of The Inauguration


Just for a moment, throw out the political views and agendas involved, and just take in the scope of this week's Inauguration.

The estimates of 1.8 million people seem to be agreed upon, and the visual spectacle of seeing all of those people in one place is a powerful sight.

Undoubtedly, nearly everyone there was packing some sort of camera... Certainly there were professional and press photographers lining the entire perimeter.

One such photographer used a robotic camera mount called a Gigapan to stitch together 220 shots to make a monstrous, 1,474 Megapixel image that you can zoom through, pan around, take in the massive event in amazing clarity.

For more details on how the picture was created, go here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Secure Enough To Admit It

My nephew The Donald (or El Donaldo, to our Spanish speaking friends!) recently made the bold, brave move of admitting that he's a Miley Cyrus fan. I related to that post, because I really enjoy a lot of Miley's music too... Maybe not quite to the extent that The Donald does - his Miley Glasses are rosy enough that he even likes her ill-conceived cover of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," which I thought would be great when I saw it on the track listing, but about fifteen seconds in, was reaching for the skip button.

But his post raised an issue that I am actually quite passionate about, and that is how important it is to recognize quality and talent wherever they are, even when you're the minority in an ocean of people groaning that it's fake, lame, terrible, phony, or worse. His key points are valid whether you like Miley Cyrus' music or not. She wrote or co-wrote nearly all of her last two albums, and has sold out concert halls with a fervor that doesn't happen much now that The Beatles have broken up... Come to think of it, The Beatles, in their heyday, had an awful lot in common with young Ms. Cyrus. Their core audience was positively rabid in their adoration, and their core audience's parents insisted that they were talentless hacks.

Please don't threaten to hang me on the cross of culturally sacred cows... I'm not saying Miley is as good as The Beatles (though I'd rather listen to her, any day!) - I'm just saying that the passion amongst her fan base is something that you don't get very often in this day and age, where everything is so on-demand that nothing really builds any sort of anticipation, and therefore, there's never really much to get excited about.

But I have digressed from my original intent for this post - it's almost like I'm out of practice at actual writing, after two months of posting nonstop tidbits of baby news and pictures! (don't worry, more of those will be coming soon...)

Okay, so against the backdrop that I just set up, I get extremely annoyed by things like this:



Okay... Let's see now... When I first heard of the Jonas Brothers, I figured they were a manufactured-for-TV fake band. Then I heard their remake of the Little Mermaid song, "Poor Unfortunate Souls." It was a pretty respectable re-interpretation of it, and I figured that even if they're fake, someone was making them sound good.

My opinion got bumped up several notches when I heard "S.O.S." It was on heavy rotation on the local college station I listen to, and it was an extremely catchy song. I bought their self titled CD for use at the elementary school's Halloween dance in 2007, and ended up playing half of the album, by request. To my amazement, all the songs I played were good!

Normally I'm a total credit reader. I'll scour over the booklet from a CD, taking note of the writers, producers and musicians... but for some reason, I never looked at the JB notes. It wasn't until their current album, "A Little Bit Longer" came out, that I really looked into them.



The first thing I noticed is that the AllMusic Guide gave it a 4-star rating. This caught my eye, because they tend to be rather conservative with their reviews. So I hit up my good friend, Wikipedia. There, I found that they are indeed, brothers with the last name of Jonas. I also learned that they were hardly manufactured. Nick Jonas started out as a Contemporary Christian solo artist, and on one of his demos, his brothers sang backup with him. Poof, the Jonas Brothers were born.

Okay, I am not a happy little cheerleading fanboy here, but Nick Jonas is three months older than my son Andy. At the age of 16, he has written and performed two albums of excellent material. Actually, there have been four albums, including his original solo album... But I'm just focusing on the ones that have made them household names. Looking at the writing credits, he and his brothers co-wrote every song on the new album, and all but the two covers from the previous album.

But it's not just about the songwriting. A few weeks ago, on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve with Ryan Seacrest And Some Kind Of Robot Pretending To Be Dick Clark, there were several musical guests. Taylor Swift proved that she should never, ever be allowed to sing live. Let her lip sync, for the sake of all those within earshot. Lionel Richie phoned in a medley of his hits... I was beginning to think that maybe since it was so cold in Times Square, nobody would sound good. When the Jonas Brothers took the stage, I was very concerned that they'd justify some of the negativity aimed at them. But no, they did an outstanding set! Vocals in tune, music played tightly... and it was actually LIVE! (unlike the why-do-they-even-exist pussycat dolls, who lip synced.. badly...)

I'm sorry, but to have all that under your belt within three months of your 16th birthday doesn't happen without a rather large helping of a little thing called TALENT!! You may not like the style - after all, it's cool to hate things that people actually like - but the people who claim they have no talent are really just exposing themselves as the purveyors of haterade that they are.

My favorite song on the new album is "Can't Have You," which starts off with a very moody sounding piano and drum loop. It would sound right at home on one of the GOOD Depeche Mode albums. Of course, once it hits the chorus, they go for the straight up pop hook, then blend the two on the subsequent verse. Oh, and that song was written by Nick Jonas. Alone. No help from his brothers, or any other professional writers.

The brothers are just hitting their stride. I'm fully aware that their next album could be the one where they try too hard, and their empire implodes on top of them, but I sure hope not. It seems like there's a lot of good songs still to come.

My name is Mike Brinkerhoff, and I like the Jonas Brothers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Checked Out

Unlike many babies, Danee's not a big fan of her car seat.

Sunday when we got home from church, I went to lift her out of it, and saw that she had burrowed down and was hiding from the world!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We Finally Got Registered!

Ever since we announced that we were adopting our sweet baby girl, everyone we know has been asking us the same question:
"ARE YOU GUYS OUT OF YOUR MINDS??" "What do you need?"

Before we brought her home, we had already arranged all of the immediate needs - Crib, Cradle, Changing Table, Car Seat, Bottles... And I knew that once we brought her home, we'd suddenly realize all the things that we'd forgotten, so we decided to hold off registering anywhere until after we brought her home.

Well, by now she's been home almost a month, and we definitely have some shortcomings in the "Stuffs" category. On top of that, two groups of Cindy's friends (one from the School and neighborhood, and one from Church) have finally pinned her down and told her that she's going to have baby showers. So far, she'd been holding them off by saying that we didn't really know what we need yet, and have so much stuff going on with the Holidays and assorted similar reasons. This week, the appointed leaders of the two groups put their feet down, named a date, and said "Go Forth And Register!"

So Go Forth And Register we did.

We hit up both Target and Babies R Us, and learned that there is a huge difference between a store with four aisles of baby stuffs, and a store entirely devoted to the same stuffs. It took us a lot longer to get through Babies R Us, but having been ordered to get it done, we soldiered on through it.

The end result: We now have wish-lists at both stores, as well as their respective websites. I've had a heck of a time looking them up through the normal methods, so I'm gonna cheat and put the direct links here.


(Just click on the logo to go to our registry at that store)

Now, here's the deal though. It's awkward doing this... We both feel really weird asking for stuff, when we already feel like simply having Danee is the biggest blessing we've ever received. We're putting this registry information up at the requests of people who have asked us to do so. We are in no way ASKING for gifts - the love and support we've gotten through the comments here, the phone calls, the visits, the meals, the free babysitting, has meant more to us than any material items ever could.

Thanks for all the support! And thanks for making it to the end of this - I think it's the wordiest post I've done in quite a while, but it feels good to actually take the time to write something again! As a reward for sticking with it, here's a pic I just took of Danee in Grandma's arms. Cindy and her mom just left to take Mom back to the airport for her flight home, so she gave Danee a farewell feeding and snuggle. Danee had just downed one of her biggest feedings yet, so she was starting to snooze it off!

Friday, January 16, 2009

What Happens...

What happens on Friday night after a long, busy week?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

She Did It!

After falling for a trick question on her first attempt, yesterday Ellysa again ventured into the depths of the DMV, and emerged victorious with her License to Learn to Drive!



She was ready... SO ready...



And last night, since she was going to church for youth activity night anyway, we got there a little early so she could, for the first time, meet The Clutch. She did really well, stalling it a few times, but quickly learned important Clutch Concepts, like pushing the clutch in whenever you need to hit the brake...



I've actually been dreading this moment for several years, but after trying to teach our niece Chelsey to drive last summer scared the crap out of me, I figured I would either be somewhat desensitized now, or would have a much greater level of appreciation for Ellysa when she started driving and did things well.

Well, she really did! After the activity, I let her drive around for another 20 minutes or so, and she made several laps around the parking lot. I had her stop, and then restart on a slight hill, so she could feel the need to keep the car from rolling backwards... I had her park, so she could give Reverse a try... For a first timer, I am very proud of her!

But what's a first drive without some comic relief? After doing really well, and getting some confidence, I told her to go down one side of the parking lot, and park it, so I could take over and drive us home.

I TOTALLY know why those official driver's ed cars have a brake pedal on the passenger side for the instructor... In a quick moment of Oopsitude, she hit the gas rather than the brake, and...



Her nervous giggle was really cute, and helped keep my calm... It was (obviously) dark, so I didn't get to see if there's any damage, but I'm thinking other than some scrapes on the front bumper, we got off pretty easy. And luckily, the handrail for the stairs she almost climbed was spared!

Good job on your first drive, Ellysa! I'm proud of you, and I love you!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ellysa Has Successfully Turned 16!

As I pulled into the driveway after work this evening, I saw the door of Ellysa's new car close... And as I was walking in to the house, I heard its engine start up... And I chuckled to myself, because I remember doing the same exact thing! Sitting in my car, starting the engine, dreaming of the day I would get my license and be able to actually drive it... Tomorrow after school, she'll take the test for her permit, and then after dinner I'll be giving her her first lesson on the finer points of driving with a clutch!

But first, she just wanted to soak up the ambiance of her little blue Mazda.



I came inside, and saw that in today's non-Ellysa related news, we had received a wonderful gift basket of baby goods as a gift from the company I work for!



Very cool stuff, and I LOVE duckies, so it's a great bunch of clothes and stuffed things!

We went out to dinner tonight, so Daneekins had her very first babysitter... The honors went to a really good friend from church named Jennifer. Jennifer is now the proud owner of our chickens, as well. She's been wanting to get some hens for years, and with all that's been going on around here, the girls were being quite neglected. So now she's spoiling them rotten, and for a couple hours tonight, she did the same for out sweet tiny girl.



She thoroughly enjoyed her time with the little angel, and we were so glad to be able to go out to dinner in full confidence that she was still being surrounded by love!

Then it was off to the Sakura Japanese Steak House, for food, presents, relatives and fun! Cindy's brother and his family joined us, and the evening also served as a trade-off point for her mom, who likes to split her visits between our two families.











When we got back home, I went to get some milk for breakfast in the morning, and also to fill up the van for Cindy. I made it about 50 feet, when the van sputtered and came to a halt. Wow. Completely out of gas! Just minutes earlier, it had delivered us home from our evening, with a baby who was ready to be fed! I couldn't believe how blessed I was - and though I don't even remember the last time I ran out of gas, and it's never a good thing, I'd much rather have it happen right outside my house - to have first, gotten my family home safe and sound, and then, still be right in front of our house, so I could easily run to the garage and grab the gas can.

Now there is milk for tomorrow's breakfast, the van has a nice, full tank, Danee has a nice full tummy, and I've got to get to bed.

One last thing though...

Remember the camera I got in my "Bag o' Crap" that arrived on New Year's Eve? The cable I ordered for it arrived today, and once it was plugged in long enough to put some juice in the battery, it works great! In fact, every picture in this post was taken with that camera! Not bad for a buck!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Very Sweet Sixteen!

Ellysa got up this morning, and immediately started doing her Happy Dance...



But why?? Why would a girl who's turning 16 on Monday be doing her Happy Dance on Saturday Morning??

Well...

Her parents got her a pretty cool birthday present... and since her stepdad doesn't get to be home during the week until after dark, the photo op was WAY better to do it now... Ya know, because visibility really matters when your present is sitting in the front yard!





(nothing happens in our yard without Kitty walking on it)





It's a 5-Speed, so we had to explain that you gotta push the clutch in to start it...





And it started right up!



A quick hug from Grandma, who is up visiting this week...



And then I got to give her her first ride around the block in her NEW CAR!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLYSA!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Good Help Is Hard To Find.....

Of course when the job at hand is snuggling a soft, sweet, warm baby girl.....





Who can blame anyone for sleeping on the job???

This happens to me too, girls!

A Good Read

Back in April, I did a fun, '80s Name That Tune contest, which was won by an old online friend of mine from the '90s, who I'd just recently re-connected with.  This friend's name is Greg Bulmash, and you've probably seen his name on an email that makes the rounds every few years - a job application to McDonald's, or sometimes Walmart, where the applicant is very flippant, sarcastic, blunt, direct and generally hilarious.  The email forwards usually claim that the kid got the job because his wit and humour impressed the manager.

Well, the email is fake, and it began as a humour column that Greg published back in the '90s.  I was on his mailing list back then, so I can smugly say I was there when the magic started.  In case you'd like to see this whole phenomenon explained more clearly, just click here.

Anyway, Greg - like me - is a new father, and is finding himself up at odd hours with his new baby.  This extra time has given him the ambition to publish a novel he's been working on.  He's been putting up two chapters per week, with the new sections coming in on Mondays and Thursdays.  As of today, Chapter 11 is as far as it goes, and I have to say I'm hooked.  I sent the link to The Donald (or El Donaldo, as he's currently known) and he got hooked too.

So I'm going to see if I can drum up a little interest for it here, because it really is a good story so far!

What is it about?

Greg has a hard time answering that, because he feels that any synopsis he gives out is also a spoiler for the story...  So I'll just say that it's about Vampires.  But unlike the recent vampire craze, and actually most vampire stories I can think of, this one isn't directly aimed at, nor written by, a woman.  This is a guy's vampire story, but just as many guys enjoy Twilight, I don't see any reason that women wouldn't enjoy this book.

Just be aware going in, there is occasional strong language, and an "adult situation."  Then again, that last Twilight book had a warning not to let kids read it, so if you treat this with the same filter, you should be fine.

The book is called "Hell on Five Dollars A Day" and it starts here.  Happy reading!  If you like it, and get hooked, leave Greg a comment to encourage him to keep it coming!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Random Crap

Once again, I'm typing this with a tiny baby on my chest... She just drank a couple ounces, and has yet to burp. I think she's intentionally holding them in, or letting them out silently, so that I'll keep holding her!

There are a bunch of bloggable thoughts swirling around my head right now, so I'm going to fling a few of them up on the wall and see if they stick...

First, inspired by the title of this post, I just realized that I never posted my latest Bag o' Crap goodness from Woot! I scored this most recent bag on December 11, but then with all the excitement of bringing Danee home and settling in, I forgot to talk about it here. I'm surprised by that, because it was a pretty decent haul this time.

First, the box was a pretty good size.



First peek!



A Bag o' Crap tradition is counting how many bags of Texas Air you got. This was a great haul, with 21 bags of Lone Star Breathing!



Second peek, without all that air in the way...



Wow, not bad at all!! I should mention, when the Bag o' Crap arrives, it's an event the whole family gets excited about! Kaylee, Andy and Tyler were very eager to model my treasures.



In addition to the 21 bags of air, I received two red, white & blue baseball hats, which were instantly confiscated by the kids, an ipod travel charging accessory kit, which I gave to Ellysa's friend (I don't do apple, so it was worthless to me), a 2nd handset and charging base to an AT&T multi-handset cordless phone which seems like it would be a really nice phone if I had the MAIN base, that would make it actually work, and to top it off, a Samsung digital camera that regularly goes for around $200! It briefly powered on, but appeared to have a dead battery, and no cable to charge it with... But that's why they make Ebay! Six dollars later, I have a cable on its way to me, and hopefully the camera will work once it's charged. Oh yeah, the "bag" in the "bag o' crap" was a pretty respectable camera bag, which if the camera works, will probably be used to hold the camera!

(end random thought number one)

(begin random thought number two)

Still with me after all that crap? Good! As I mentioned in my last late night post, Danee had another weigh in yesterday. She initially tipped the scale at 4 pounds, 15 and a half ounces. Juuuuust shy of 5 pounds. Then she drank a bottle, so the doctor said "Hey, let's weigh her again!" and this time she came in at 5 pounds, 1 ounce! Our little rockstar is finally a 5 pounder!! And she looks SO CUTE!! She has gotten chubby, chubby cheeks, half a dozen chins, and as I exclaimed when changing her diaper tonight, she also has roly poly thighs!!
(wow, I don't think I've ever written out "roly poly" before - it looks wrong! Good thing I'm too tired to care!)

That's it for this edition of Random Crap... Danee's back in her bed, and once again I have a date with the racketball court at 4:45 in the morning. So I'll leave you with a picture of 5 Pounds of Babyluvs, and I'm off to bed!