Monday, May 30, 2011

Birthday Picnic

Yesterday was our annual Memorial Day picnic and Boo's birthday party.  I can't actually believe that my baby boy will be three years old on Wednesday.
Anyhow there were a few minor emergencies at the beginning of the day that caused a bit of chaos unrelated to the actual picnic.  But other than that, everything went well.  We had a lot of fun.  There was a lot of food, good friends and family.

Michelle is visiting for the long weekend on her way back to Virginia from Canada.  She'll be home for a few months before heading out again.  This time to Pakistan, unless she can't get a visa, which is highly possible since they haven't been issuing any since March or so.  Anyhow, it has been awesome to have her around for the last few days.  I'll miss her when she leaves again and am not looking forward to her leaving the country again.

Hopefully I'll have more pictures up (all of May actually) soon.  Enjoy the picture at the top.  Boo was really getting into his ice cream, literally!  I would write more tonight but I'm being distracted by Big Bang Theory.

Peace to all and may your picnics be fun and your birthdays be happy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not So Gray

Well, I managed to make it through the weekend.  Saturday was a very nice day.  Except for the fact that I don't think my son actually fell asleep at nap time, but was just very, very quiet in his room for a couple of hours.
Oh well, it worked out in the long run.  I did manage to get in a wonderful ride both Friday and Saturday evening.  Friday I rode almost 3 miles in about 20 minutes and Saturday I took the long way up to the shopping center, did a bit of shopping and rode back, for about a 20 minute ride then as well.
Saturday was also Quakertown's Arts Alive festival downtown.  Boo and I went there after we did the laundry.  It was a good bit of fun as alway.  I purchased a mug for my mom within about 5 minutes of getting there.  It's this awesome dark green mug that looks somewhat like leaves and has this handsome frog perched on it near the lip on the one side.  Of course, I couldn't hold on to it until Christmas, and gave it to her yesterday.  She loved it.  I'm glad she did.  It was worth every penny, just because it's a mug, and a frog and fun and especially because it's hand made.  I love hand made things.  They're so much more special than any old store bought, mass produced thing.  Hand made things have souls.

Yesterday went both better and worse than I'd expected.  It went better because Dad had managed to plug in the docking station and I only needed to rearrange a few things.  (That is, plug the printer and mouse into the dock instead of the laptop, hence the whole idea of a dock...)  For some reason the games that come with Windows 7 weren't installed and I have no idea if they have a disk or where it would be.  So, I did a quick search and found a nice, free, online solitaire game and bookmarked it for Dad, putting an icon on the desktop as well.
The bad part is the fact that the router died.  This threw people into a panic and I had to spend a little time troubleshooting.  Thankfully I was on call this past week so I had my own laptop with me.  Once I found the control panel I was looking for on the new computer and verified that the NIC was working, I tried my own computer to verify that it was the router that had a problem, not the laptop.  It was the router and about an hour or so later it totally died.  (Thankfully it only took about 5 minutes on the phone with Verizon to verify this, they amazingly didn't have me do a million stupid things, and Mom and Dad should be getting a new one tomorrow.)
The other bad part happened while Gak, Boo and I were at Trader Joe's before going home.  (Boo hadn't napped so we really wanted to get home before dinner time, so that if he did nap in the car, it wouldn't get in the way of bed time...)  The computer apparently started acting up and got real hot and Mom had to hard boot the thing to shut it down.  So, of course we go over there and end up eating dinner there after I check out the computer.  Yes, it was still a bit warmer than I'd expect after being off for 10 or 15 minutes.  No, I couldn't find anything wrong and it stayed fine for the next hour or so.  But, even small things get complicated these days.

Yesterday was obviously not a great day for Dad.  We had the same conversation about the router being dead about 5 times in 4 minutes.  He honestly didn't remember just having it.  I just went along with it though and was patient, but not patronizing.  He also couldn't remember where or even when he'd got the computer or if it had been paid for etc.  I just reminded him gently of what I could and brushed aside other things.  It hurt to see him this way, but this is the new reality.  And this will be the new reality for a while (who knows how long) and then we'll have some weeks that we think are just "bad weeks" and then we'll all realize that it's the new reality.  It's painful for everyone involved.  This isn't something like heart disease or diabetes or something like that that mostly hurts the person suffering from it but can go unseen by most everyone else and they're unaffected by it until the very end.  Nope, this monster affects everyone in Dad's life.  Yes, mostly him, but us too and in a very personal way.  By the time this monster rears it's ugly head, there is no more quiet lurking in the background.  Everyone close to the person with the monster knows it and has to fight it.  Not fun.  Not fun at all.

Anyhow, PopPop had a very nice time with his grandson and I managed to ensure that the laptop is up and running and spend a bit of quality time with my dad myself.  So, overall it was a good day, even if it wasn't quite as smooth as I'd hoped, but smoother than it could have been in many ways.

Oh, I do have the rest of the pictures from April and the handful of pictures from May off the camera and edited.  But I'm too tired to be creative with captions and upload them to Flickr.  Maybe tomorrow.  Hopefully tomorrow.  I've got a lot of things to get done between now and Sunday.

Peace to you all and may your weekends not be too gray and your time full of quality.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I am feeling gray today.  I'm feeling very gray.
There are several reasons for this.  Some of which I can control, most I cannot.
I'm feeling gray because it's raining.  Again.  There has been some rain every single day for at least the last 7.  I'm getting tired of it.  I feel like I'm about to mildew or something.  Don't get me wrong, there has been a few breaks in the rain and the sun has even shone brightly for a bit, but almost always while I was sitting at my desk.  (I'm not sure I'm thankful or unhappy that there is now a skylight right near my desk that I can see if I sit up straight.)  Thankfully tomorrow should clear up a bit and Sunday should be good.  But, over the next two weeks every day but two or three has at least some mention of the possibility of rain. *sigh*

I'm feeling gray because things are getting a bit negative at work again.  The workload is getting much better.  We're actually getting ahead of the curve for a change, which is great.  It means that we can take better and faster care of the customer issues.  Unfortunately, there's also been a lot of negativity floating around the office with some decisions that have been made.  Oh, and we've been dealing with office construction for over a month now and will be dealing with it at least another week or so I'm guessing.  (The downstairs is almost done, but they've got to finish the surrounds of the new skylights up here, pull down the existing cubes and fix the walls,paint, carpet and put the cubes back up...)  It's not going to be fun at all.  There are parts of this that I can control.  I can control my own outlook.  I can try and be a positive person and try and find the positives even in the negative decisions that have been coming our way.  There is good going on, but so many in the building can't or won't see it, so it gets me down too.

I'm a little gray because of some news from Cynthia at the office.  She told us yesterday that she's pregnant and due in January.  Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic about that.  She and Jason have been trying for a while now.  They'll make awesome parents and I'm so very happy for them.  But, it was a reminder that if everything had worked out, I would be just a week or two shy of having my second.  Most days I'm ok with our current decision to not really try for a second.  But, I will admit, that some days, days like yesterday, a not-so-small part of me is jealous and sad that at this stage, more than likely Boo will be an only child.  Financially, and even emotionally in some small ways, it's for the best, but my heart doesn't always like that answer.
There, I put that in writing.  I guess it's been festering for a while.

But, the biggest reason I think that I'm feeling gray is because of Sunday.  This coming Sunday that is.  Mom and Dad got a new computer for the business.  It's a laptop with Windows 7.  The reason that they got a laptop is because Windows 7 is a new operating system for Dad and by having a laptop, he'll be able to take it back and forth between home and the shop and everything will be the same.  This is key because Dad's really having problems these days.  There, I said it.  I've been able to ignore it a bit, but I can't any more.
Anyhow, on Sunday I am going down to Mom and Dad's to set up the docking station at the house so that way it really will be set up the same as at the shop.  All he'll have to do is put it on the dock and turn it on.  I'm gray about this because Dad shouldn't do this for himself.  If he does, it'll take him three or four days and there will be a lot of frustration and anger and not-quite-yelling and I'll end up having to do it anyhow.
This really makes me sad because I know in my heart that he's upset and frustrated and sad that he just can't do this himself.  It makes me sad because until recently he was the one who was up on the technology and what's what and would give me advice.  It makes me sad because I'm treading on his territory.  This his his computer, his office, his set up.
And I can't fix it.
There is nothing I can do to fix it.
I can come over and bring Boo and he'll have a good day with everyone, but as soon as we leave, everything will go back to being not-so-good.
I can't even do much for Mom at this point.  I'm too far away to come over in the evenings and share dinner with them.  I can be an ear or a shoulder as needed.  I can come do things like take care of the technology in the house.  I can offer Mom a "day off" on Mondays watching Boo.  But I can't be there every day to help with the little things.  To be with her with the day-to-day problems and be a companion to watch and be there.

This isn't how it's supposed to be.  My dad's brain should not be turning to mush as we watch.  We should not all feel so helpless.  Personally, I'm angry and sad and helpless all at the same time.

Anyhow, there is much more roiling around in my head and heart about that whole situation.  But, I have to get back to work and do some real work for a change.  There are customer needs that need to be met and projects to be completed.

Peace to all and may your hearts be light and your days full of sunshine, both real and emotional.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


This weekend I made two, hopefully, life changing purchases.  I'm not sure which one I'm more excited about really.  I think it may be the more expensive one, or at least the more expensive one up front.  In the long run, it'll be the bargain.  I'd been going back and forth between which thing I wanted to get.  They're very different and serve very different purposes.  One was very high tech and the other pretty low tech.  Both can help me with goals I have and both are fun.  I thought I was only going to be able to get one or the other, but as luck would have it, and thanks to a sale at Target and a generous offer from Gak, who knew I wanted both and couldn't decide, I was able to get both.
Do you see that lovely picture up at the top of this post.  This is a picture from the web of my new bicycle (actually, mine's purple, not blue).  Yes, I actually bought myself a new bike.  Gak helped pay for a bit of it and a new helmet since I got rid of my old one ages and ages ago.  I'd been bitten by the bike bug when we moved into this new apartment.  It got worse, much worse, this spring.  You see, I've become quite active again and well, I always loved spending time on my bike rolling around the neighborhood and getting around.  Town is nice and flat (for those of us who aren't used to biking hills right now...) and we live close enough to the grocery store (and many others) as well as the park and some other fun things, that running errands or going for a ride with my son would be awesome, not to mention gas saving.  (Sorry about the run-on there...)
I have yet to get Boo a seat for the back of the bike and a helmet for him to wear.  I wanted to get back into the swing of things before getting that.  Also, I was hoping Kat still had her old one because this will be the last year that Boo will be able to ride it because by next year he'll be too tall even if he's not too heavy.  But, her old seat is being borrowed by another friend, so I'll invest in one of my own to keep in the family or sell/give to someone else next year.
I got to ride for a good bit Sunday after we picked her up, but it's been raining most of the last few days, so I haven't been able to.

As for my second purchase, it was a new phone.  I was eligible for a new upgrade.  I'd been toying with and tossing out the idea of going to a smart phone.  I figured if I did, it would be to an Android based OS.  Partially because I knew I'd never afford an iPhone (I know, the 3G or 3Gs is $50 now... but, I'd want to go 4 because with electronics always get the newest/fastest you can for your buck).  Partially because as much as Gak enjoyed his iPhone, it had a few quirks I didn't enjoy and you seem to get so much more with a 'Droid.  Well, Gak said he'd buy me a new phone.  It turns out he didn't have to.  We'd gone to the AT&T store to play with some of the phones a few weeks ago, and again over the weekend, and I'd found a couple that I really liked.  It turns out that one of the top rated ones was on sale at Target.
Yes, Target again.
For free.
Yes, that's right.  Free.
I go the Samsung Captivate.  It's got a huge screen.  It's got some really cool features and is very easy to navigate.  And did I mention the Droid app store is huge?  I've downloaded a handful of free apps, including two from Weight Watchers.  (Yes, I'm still following the plan, but even if I wasn't actively trying to loose weight, I'd still be following the plan to some degree, as it helps keep the amount of food I eat "real" and helps me not put all that hard work back on.)  I think I'm going to enjoy being a smart phone owner, even though I fought the idea tooth and nail for years.  Actually, I was still fighting it a week or so ago when Gak ordered his new phone (an LG Windows phone) because we were both up for upgrades.  (I was going to just hang on to mine for a good long time since it wasn't broken and did what I wanted it to, but then I realized I was paying for a new phone in my monthly bill anyhow.  Yes, most cell companies pad your bill with the cost of a new phone as part of your monthly access charges, even if they don't say so... that's why a $500 phone can be "free".)

So, in the long run my $180 bike will cost less than my free phone, but that's only because I now have a $15 a month data plan.  (Which is more that I'll probably need since I'm on wi-fi at home and try very hard not to use it at work...)  I'm very happy with both my phone and my bike.  I've been able to use the phone more, if only because I can use it when it's raining.  (Yes, I can bike when it's raining, but I prefer not to...)

Anyhow, I'm very pleased with my purchases, but I've now got 10 minutes or less to get together my breakfast, my lunch and get dressed and out the door.

Peace to all and may you get the tools you need and may they be ones you love.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Boy

I have been a delinquent blogger again.  I have so many things I want to talk about, but I've just been too tired and too busy to write anything down coherently.  I also have a month's worth of pictures on my camera that I need to download, edit and upload to Flickr.  *sigh*

Tonight's entry will probably be a short one, but it's one of the many topics that have been chasing around my brain for a while and I just want to get out.  If I get up in time I may post one tomorrow about the weekend and all the wonderful adventures that were had.

Anyhow, a week or so back Gak and I were talking about Boo after he'd gone to bed.  Boo and I had done another orienteering hike that Sunday.  The course was good and I did fairly well for carrying an additional 30 lbs.  The mud was a bit rough though.  At one point I had made Boo walk for a bit while I fixed the backpack, as something had gone a little off and my left arm was going numb.  Oops.  Anyhow, we were on a well marked, flat path.  Unfortunately, it was a very muddy path.  Boo hates mud.  He loves to splash in puddles, but he hates mud.  Doubly unfortunately, the mud decided to "eat" his shoes.  You should have heard the shriek of pure terror he let out!  Thankfully I could rescue him and his shoes and there was a downed tree that we could use to get him back into the pack and out of the mud.

Anyhow, this story got Gak and I talking.  Boo really is a very good mix of the two of us.  Half the people you ask, say he looks like his Poppa, and the other half usually say he looks like me.  (Although, I think he looks a bit more like Gak personally... but *shrug* I may be biased...)  But it's not just in looks.  It's in personality.  He takes to electronics and anything that has buttons with the same single-minded determination that Gak has.  Sure, I love me electronic toys of all kinds, but my dear, sweet hubby can't live without them.  Me, I'm the outdoors one.  I'm the one who always wants to go on adventures and go hiking and exploring.  Boo will go just about anywhere if you tell him you're going on an adventure.  We now have to classify them with "big adventure", "little adventure" or sometimes "just an every day adventure".  He thinks all this is really great.
I don't mind getting dirty and muddy, but Gak would much prefer not to.  Boo, will splash in water puddles but avoids mud and anything sticky, icky or "gross" like the plague.  He never, ever put his fingers into his baby food, and only recently has started doing things like that and usually only when he's done or looking for the M&M's in his sundae.
Boo will gladly go camping with me just about any time, even though Gak doesn't find it the most enjoyable activity.  But, Boo also won't go to sleep on the floor, he has to have a mat or mattress of some kind, an actual "bed" if you will.
He's a nest builder with all his blankets, pillows and friends, but he doesn't like being under the blankets usually like his Poppa.

Over all we have a very sweet, very polite (about 95% of the time), very smart and precocious little boy who turns three in just over two weeks.  Yes, that's right, two weeks.
We've been so lucky with him.  He's been such a pleasure most days to have around.  Even on the bad days, it's not as bad as it could be, and we're usually well aware of this.  He'll usually mind.  He's not destructive just to be mean.  (He destroys things out of boredom and curiosity... a lot like his mother...)  He likes to play hard and sleep hard and not eat a wide variety of foods, just like his parents.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share our revelation that yes, our boy is a wonderful mix of the two of us, and we're all the better for it.

Peace to all and may your heart be happy and time not go too fast.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Orienteering Monster

I've created a monster.  Not just any monster, but an orienteering monster.
You see, Sunday there was an O meet being run by two friends who used to work with me (Rick and Uday) and it was all of 20 minutes from the house.  So, of course I was going to go.  I'd said something about going hiking Sunday Saturday afternoon after Boo and I picked up Gak and we were talking about the rest of the weekend.  Boo pipes up that he wants to go hiking too.
So, I said sure!  I finally got around to getting the frame kid carrier backpack from Kat, so I knew he'd be able to ride in style and comfort.  I half expected him to say no the next morning, but he asked me about it before I could ask him.
We left the house around 9:00 (I actually had to go pick up said backpack from Kat's porch.) and after a bit of going in circles because I thought I'd made a wrong turn but I hadn't so had to back track back to the road I was on... we get to the park a little before 10.  Actually, it was a Boy Scout camp ground. 
Uday and Mary were working the start, so I caught up with them a bit and got Boo situated in the pack.  He's a funny boy.  He loves splashing in puddles, but not mud puddles.  There were lots of mud puddles in the parking lot with the rain late last week.  He also doesn't want to ride in the pack until you actually put him in it and get it on and start out.  Then he doesn't want to get out.
Now, a few things to remember.  Boo now weighs about 30 lb, so about 32 lb with the weight of the pack as well.  I haven't done much orienteering in 3 years and it's been just about a year since I last went.  I'd already been having a bit of one of "those" mornings with things not quite going right.  And I'm stubborn, did I mention that before?

Anyhow, looking at the stats and knowing my normal skill level is about at Orange, I decide to go with the Yellow course.  The white just sounded too short and there was no way I was going to do an orange with Boo on my back!
The first challenge is heading up the hill to where the start is.  Rick is working start so I catch up with him for a few moments as I catch my breath.  The path to the first control is marked with streamers because... well... the path doesn't really exist as well as it does on the map.
This should have been my first (okay, maybe 2nd or third by now) clue that it wasn't going to be an easy walk in the park.  I do just fine getting to the first control.  I catch up with a mom and her teenage son doing white (their second control) and "help" them out.  Yeah, I helped both of us in the wrong direction.  So, after about 20 minutes of walking around in circles around a building that wasn't the one I thought it was, I finally head in the right direction.
Everything continues fairly well after that.  I spend a lot of my time walking and talking with Boo.  I show him the map and the trails (some are not as nice as they are on the map... and there's a lot more marshy ground than is marked on the map... since there isn't really any on the map...).  We talk about what we're seeing and where we're going and what we're hearing.  I catch sight of a deer, but he misses it by the time he turns his head.  He only asked a few times "are we there yet" and that was at the beginning when I was getting frustrated and walking in circles.
This course had 10 controls.  Other than my debacle getting turned around leaving the first one, things go well until number 6.  I pass right past it about 4 times before a scout master who was cleaning up the fire pit it was near (they'd used it the night before) pointed it out to me.  (It was slightly down a hill and on the far side of the boulder so not easily seen...)  I made it to number 7 spot on.  Unfortunately, I should have actually taken the long way.  I never did find the trail that would lead me right to number 8.
Oh, did I mention that 7 to 8 is the longest leg of the course and that it's right on the edge of the map?  Not the edge of the camp property, just the edge of the map.  So, on one side I had a lot of vague things that I couldn't really place on the map and on the other side I had landmarks, but no map.  To make a long story short, I missed number 8, thought I was near number 9 but couldn't find it and came across a father/son team looking for number 9.  They pointed me to number 8.  I never did find 8, but I did find 9.  So, after a little more wandering and making Boo climb around a bit too because by now my back was killing me, I misspunched and headed for 10.  I never found 10, but I did find the finish.  Good enough!

I've been reminded of a few things with this little adventure.  I don't do well on long legs between controls.  Even if it's along a path.  I don't do well in camp ground areas where there are lots of little trails not on the maps because they're not official trails, just worn places where people have gone between buildings for years.  I was also reminded how much fun it can be to do this with someone.

After 2 hours and 20 minutes (from start to finish, probably more like 2.5 hours all told) Boo and I get back to check in.  I get some help getting Boo off my back, as I'm sure he didn't really want to be half dropped again like I'd done earlier.  I chat with Uday and Jerry (another friend from work) for a bit and we head home.  Boo and I did just about 5 miles of trail walking, boulder scrambling and just enjoying the outdoors.

And how do I know I created a monster?  Because this morning as we were cuddling on the sofa he asked if I was going to "do a yellow" today.  It took me a minute to figure out what he was referring to.  Once I understood what he meant and asked if he wanted to go hiking again, I got a very enthusiastic yes!.
So, it looks like if my boy-o has his way, I'll be walking 3-5 miles every Sunday.  I'm not really complaining, but Gak and my shoulders might.... I've got to readjust that pack so more of his weight ends up on my hips instead of my shoulders and with Gak's knee, there's no way he can join us often unless we go for a hike on level, paved ground.
Yes, Boo is my son.  I have created a monster, and I'm actually kinda happy about that.

Alas, I have to get back to work.  I'll have to write more again later as there is a lot buzzing around in my head.

Peace to all and may all your monsters be good, healthy ones.