instant gramming

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: 2011

So long, "oh-ten." It was a great one. 2011 will be even better, no doubt.

December 21, 2010

One Love, One Income: First day on the job

Yesterday was my first day on the job as Full-time Father, or Mister Mom, or however you fancy... It's one of those "easy" weeks where you get a couple days to adjust, then two weeks of vacation where you see everyone you know who will ask "So how was it?" and you say "well, it's been two days" and not being one to kill a conversation like that you continue to describe what you think it will be like and how you want to take Ellie swimming.

Anyway, the days have been good. Ellie has decided that sleeping at night just isn't her thing anymore. Blargh.

I'm pretty sure both Ellie and I are getting sick, too, which isn't making anything easier. And right before the holidays. Holiday?

The only thing that has me nervous is Winter. Cold weather, snow, and ice are going to keep us inside and our house is small. There aren't too many places to explore in here.

So, our life with one income begins now. I've been stretching my unimaginative brain in all directions trying to think of possible ways to supplement our income, just because a little more money doesn't hurt. Sewing stuff? Painting stuff? I don't know. But seriously, if you are interested in advertising here, let me know. I'll send you the smallest bill in our stack, on a first-come-first-serve basis; meaning you Johnny-come-lately's will have to settle on our car insurance or our property taxes. Don't delay! Call now!

Also, I updated my Linked-In profile headline to describe me now as an "Entrepreneur and Internet Visionary," for obvious reasons.

December 10, 2010

Random: Table for One

Random. Inspired by this very post relating to a subject that fell into my lab that has nothing to do with much of anything but might just be a window into the inner-workings of my brain.

One of my daily stops on the Internet Super Highway, Booooooom!, posted a link to this site, Table for One ( collection of pictures of people sitting alone, eating.

The reason this stood out to me is that I have historically had the opinion that someone eating alone is a sad thing and it usually breaks my heart. I don't know why. It's not like food has been a crazy social thing for me. However, growing up, lunches were in a school cafeteria and dinners were at the family dining table.

These photos confirm my suspicion: not everyone looks lonely or unhappy. Most are just eating, some are working, some look happy and relaxed. Some do look lonely or unhappy, and I guess that's life. It took me a long time to learn that alone time is worth while and important. Sometimes I crave alone time... but usually not.

Anyway, the "eating-alone" thing has always been a point of internal conflict for me and I think I'm understanding my reaction to it better these days.

November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving #1

We just wrapped up our first Thanksgiving with Ms. Ellise and while being out-of-town can be a drag, it was great to share stories with other new parents (and veteran parents alike) and play with new bambinos, centered around copious amounts of food. Ellie is getting wilder every day and it seems like we brought home a toddler.  Apparently with age so has come Ellie's increased tolerance of loads of family members catching up on their baby-time, wanting to hold her and use loud, exaggerated baby talk in her face. I like to think that my constant obnoxiousness and invasion of her personal space is to be thanked for that.

A lot of my conversations involved me justifying why I'm quitting my job. In every instance, the information was called out with the same statement said as a question: "So, I hear you are quitting your job---?" After ending my rehearsed explanation by saying how excited I am to be at home with Ellie, trying to leave it at that, both of my grandparents described how I need to go about getting my next job. Grandpa says I need to shave my beard and get a suit; "Look the part," he says, for a career with the County or the State. Grandma directed me to take some night classes.

Past those brief examinations, I realized my other conversations were with family members with whom I've never genuinely talked. Our discussions were about our children and daycare and daddy-penises. It was a great feeling, gathering up these little stories and thoughts, talking about babies.

Ellie is becoming more expressive and communicative every day and it's amazing to watch her grow. While it seems a little sad or scary that she's growing "too fast," it is awesome to see her flourish and learn in this safe, protected world we are providing for her.

November 19, 2010

On the move

finally figured out that rugs have too much friction to let this baby glide across the floor...

it's like lookin down in a fish tank

November 17, 2010


I've got a motto: nothing good will come if you take something you found. I think I've said it before, if you find one thing, you'll lose another. Well, I wasn't about to bike past the five dollar bill I found in the road on my way home today... Cha-chaaang!

I almost pooped myself when as I reached down I realized it could be fifty...

So what am I about to lose?

November 16, 2010


My head is about to explode. It probably has a lot to do with drinking coffee whilst churning out (creating) endless maps of an extensive tree survey. I've been making an effort to ride my bike to work these few days but know that the time I have for that is numbered. Winds of big changes may exist and they promise to be gusty at the least. I have only hope that the few plans I have made are good ones, and that I'll figure out which way to turn when I get there.

I could use some more coffee now

November 10, 2010

Winter, Fabric, and Money

The author of a popular cycling blog recently wrote this: "For some reason, fall makes me start to look at touring and randonneuring bikes."

Well, in my life, plummeting temperatures makes me want to bundle up in lots of heavy duty layers and I don't care if that clothing is large, baggy, and so ill-fitting like every pair of Carhartts that are available in the USA. I just want to wear boot socks, long-johns, canvas work pants, and as many tops as will fit under my winter coat. Instead of visiting bike websites, I prowl for workwear. I dream of wool and windproof softshell.

It's outrageously dorky. I know.

I hope that, in anticipation of quitting my job and forfeiting our second income, I can get crafty and start making some cool stuff, like shirts and pants and hats and socks... maybe more baby clothes than anything. I've been sourcing crazy, technical fabrics. I bet C should be getting a headache from having to roll her eyes so much when confronted with some of the ideas I've been coming up with lately.

Anyway, we had a really short conversation about money last night. It didn't really get anywhere since neither of us had enough attention to pay each other; but we agreed that maybe we should give up an unessential expense each month, even if only for that month, to better understand our budget. This month, for me? How about, no buying clothes?

October 29, 2010

Day 2

Second day back in the saddle for my short jaunt to the office. is telling me that my area is 43-degrees-eff currently with a windchill of 35! Woo!

October 28, 2010

Life be crazzy

Man, this life be crazy. Waking up through the night, "walking" little Miss Babygirl in a marathon around the house, trying to soothe the aches of her first tooth which decided to come at the peak of a cold she's been suffering, trying to compensate for a babysitter that was MIA for four weeks... it's madness. C has been taking the brunt of the work, as not only does her body make the food that comprises 98% of E-boo's diet, but she is also more compassionate and generally more sacrificial than I am. She get's it from her mom. Sometimes that difference between us leads to stress but eventually I find a way to make up for it because, and I believe this, I'm a pretty good guy. Maybe not great, but good. As in not bad. But as usual "not bad" isn't "good."

It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable. - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Anyway, long story short, I told my boss (after months of rallying the "balls" to do it) that I am ending my work as an Environmental Consultant--a title which apparently only means "a wage slave that works in a hostile environment consisting of shitty conditions and long, uncompensated hours." Yeah, I'm over it.

Fall is in full swing and Winter is knocking on the door. With the door to my future open wide in front of my face I am pretty excited, slightly nervous, but mostly full of hope and faith that life will get on to be as awesome as I ever expected it to be. C and I have been extra crafty lately which, in my case, has been partly influenced by my brother- and sister-in-law who are growing an ever-impressive photography business from scratch, and my increasing desire to work on my own terms, which is constantly at odds with my other undeniable ability to be lazy whenever I find a chance.

Today was particularly blustery and bone-chilling and I made myself bike to the office. It's a great feeling, cruising on a bike. I'm obsessed. Unfortunately, time constraints are squeezing me from all angles and I'm averaging about 1 mile a month. Not sure that's going to change anytime soon, and I don't regret anything that's causing that, except maybe not quitting my job earlier... But even still, finding time to ride is much harder than, say, cruising the World Wide Web and witnessing other people doing it. Bleh.

Meanwhile, I'm going to strive to figure out the meaning behind the above quote and turn any lingering stress into profits. Cha-ching!

October 17, 2010


Today we went with our family (including a caravan of siblings, a nephew, and a few cousins) to a pumpkin farm and orchard to harvest sundry things that comprise the cliche cornucopia of this season, including several pounds of Fuji apples (that we picked!), a gallon of cider, and a couple pumpkins.

It was the first time I had gone "pickin'" and will hopefully ripen into years of tradition.

This week we will fashion our Halloween costumes and maybe roast some pumpkin seeds while drinking pumpkin beer and consider the goal of eating pumpkin pie every day of November.

October 3, 2010

Triathlon - we finished!

This morning my dad and I finished the Little Miami Triathlon: 6 miles canoeing; 5.5 miles running; and 18 miles biking. We woke up to 40-something degrees "eff" and while Monroe, Ohio, may have warmed up to the mid-50's by the finish line, the mid-40 windchill brutalized us. Biking was by far the hardest part. Canoeing, while slow, warmed me up much more than I expected (too much) and we managed to stay upright, unlike a surprisingly high number of teams...

Anyway, not only did I get to bond with my dad and do something awesome today--if only to prove to ourselves that we could do it--but we had the great pleasure of having an amazing support team to pull us through and keep us lifted. C and a very bundled Ellie were there, as well as my mom who brought a ton of food, and my step mom who graciously acted as coach and cheerleader along the route. As my dad said in an email later today, "we are lucky guys."

Update: I just looked at our results online and in the "Parent/Child" division we finished 32 out of 38... Overall I was in 1,010th place out of 1,174.
Question is: would I do it again?

October 1, 2010

Brain dump: stress and a triathlon

Wow. It's been a minute, eh? If you're reading this I'm not sure why--I'm guessing it was by accident. My life has been "a hot mess," as they say, and busy, so writing has dropped way low in the priority list I lost a long time ago.

A couple recent political items have boiled my blood lately, including the overwhelming outcry against the proposed Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. The hatred, ignorance, and bigotry against an entire religion that surfaced was appalling.

Oh, and I guess astronomers found a planet just outside our galaxy--3 times the mass of Earth--that has the potential to support life like we know it. News anchor, Brian Williams, made some comment along the line of "it's nice to know we have a place to go when we mess up this planet." Shit. He's right. Now there's a backup plan and I'm sure it's going to be a bloody race to get people there. It's a fantastic thought, and a terrifying one at the same time. Those sentiments sent shivers down my spine just to think of the (distant?) future of Earth and what sort of scary, corrupt, greedy things might come of having a second planet, a virgin planet, that is waiting to be dominated.

This weekend is the Little Miami Triathlon in which I will be teamed up with my dad to canoe, run, then bike our way toward Accomplishment. My "training" has been laughable, but I have faith that come race day I will muster up whatever awesomeness possible to finish in decent time. If nothing else, this whole thing has forced me to get out and run and feel a lot more healthy than I've felt in a long time.

Ellie is growing so much, eating food, and working on her balance. Words do no justice. Hopefully I'll get more videos up here soon.

September 3, 2010

This stone is rollin

This week, just a few days from the 5-month mark, E-stro has mastered the art of rolling. Here's the proof:

Ellie_rolling from d strong on Vimeo.

August 30, 2010

Charity Album: Do Fun Stuff (Kids songs)

so this here widget links you to a charity album that just launched from a good blog I frequent, Pacing The Panic Room. In his words "100% of the proceeds from the sale of this album goes to a grant fund I established with PRISMS. The money will be made available to grad students who wish to make SMS their field of choice, the benefit of this is more hard research being done, which leads to more case studies, which leads to more answers for parents and researchers." I'm pumped about having some cool kid songs to enjoy with Ellie.

August 18, 2010

Outdoor work

Today (which marks the third of four consecutive days I will spend spraying herbicide on or cutting invasive cattails) I considered the different perspectives of a person with the archetypal 9-to-5 desk job and someone with an "outdoor" job. I've had conversations with people who have "inside" jobs and I've wooed them with stories of getting paid to hike through nature preserves taking inventory of plants and signs of animals. The sort of work where I even find myself asking "How do I get paid for this?"  But what about the end of the day? when you go home and get to make decisions about what you will do with your time? Well, after 6 hours of wading though knee-deep muck, under full summer sun, carrying a plastic backpack with a gallon of poisonous liquid herbicide, wearing rubber gloves as if they were keeping the chemicals off my arms and face... I could go on and on... what I want to do is sit down and stare at a screen. TV or computer will do. When C asked if I wanted to go on a run last night I laughed at the thought. If work hadn't kicked my ass, what all would I have the energy to do? Granted, I'm oversimplifying this and there are days when I get to do some cool stuff. But some days are just brutal. Someone recently asked if I would trade in the sunburns for a button-up shirt... right now I'm thinking I could handle a button-up shirt if when I got home I had the energy and desire to hang outside and get sunburned on my own terms.

August 11, 2010


I'm writing this in homeward transit from a two-day, out-of-town job. Not sure how I got out of driving on this return trip, but it is affording me some time to finish data entry, chat with C, and catch up on my stories. Two days hanging out in farm fields under a merciless sun, trudging through oppressive heat and humidity, picking up wood ticks along the way (just found another one!); not to mention the goofy work schedule that kept us outside until 9:30 at night and the fact that we weren't able to settle on dinner until around 10:45... and bed by 12:30.
At 5:30 this morning (when I was waking up to start our work day) I found text messages from C about Ellie waking up crying several times and Alden barking and needing to go potty. Sweet. All of this has amounted to an increasing feeling of helplessness and frustration and resentment of my job.
Not sure what to do...

August 4, 2010

La Familia: It takes a town

For the past week-and-a-half, we've called on our family to come help us out by providing daycare while our normal babysitter is off on vacation. My mom, Grandma, and C's dad, Jagee (The phonetic spelling of a version of the Polish word for grandpa, Dziadek) split up the work between them and have come from the corners of the state on different days, agreeing to stay on a futon in our pathetic excuse for a guest bedroom just to help us out and get to know their granddaughter.

It was not unlike a miracle, this act I witnessed, that demonstrated the strength of love between a grandparent and his granddaughter: Ellie was barely drifting off to sleep in her bouncer in the living room while Jagee was FB-ing on the computer when he was overtaken by a series of his sneezes.  "Sneeze" doesn't come close to describing what it is that he does. Technically, yes; but the force that releases from my father-in-law, is unworldly.  C was sitting next to Ellie and it never failed that for 5 times in a row, as soon as Ellie closed her eyes, Jagee sneezed.  And for as long as I've known him, those sneezes are punctuated by the gasps of surprise from anyone in the vicinity; that is to say, not an "excuse me." It's not offensive and I, just like everyone else who knows and loves him, accept it and forget it. But on Monday, when apparently Jagee was sneezing all day long while babysitting Ellie, he made a valiant effort to muffle those sneezes and bring them down to a volume normal for mortal humans. This simple act really underscored how much he loves his grandchildren.

Anyway, their help, and the help from all the rest of our family has been amazing.

July 24, 2010


Finally. I finally finished the "100 Days of Ellie" series. Ok, so there are a couple missing days-a few of which will have videos added soon, but nevermind that. I made it to day 100. On the sidebar you might notice a new photo of Ellise--if you click that it should direct you to all photos in the 100 Days series.

So, I've mostly been avoiding/ignoring this blog as I was so ashamed that these photos weren't getting added in a timely fashion. Now that I've finished, I'll keep posting good photos as they come up, but I hope to write more about all kinds of stuff.

Anyway, thanks for being patient. Stay cool,


July 23, 2010

100 Days of Ellie: Day 100!

100 Days of Ellie: Day 99

100 Days of Ellie: Day 97

100 Days of Ellie: Day 96

100 Days of Ellie: Day 95

100 Days of Ellie: Day 94

100 Days of Ellie: Day 92

100 Days of Ellie: Day 91

Ellie loves showers!

100 Days of Ellie: Day 89

100 Days of Ellie: Day 88

100 Days of Ellie: Day 87

100 Days of Ellie: Matt & Bre's Wedding edition

100 Days of Ellie: Day 86

100 Days of Ellie: Day 85

July 12, 2010

100 Days of Ellie: Day 76

This photo has everything to do with the outfit--which is actually really great and soft--but hilariously enough looks like a karate robe. Hence the set-up. I should also mention that we were working hard to get her excited for this photo--usually when provoked she starts kicking and flailing and we were hoping for a good judo-chop or judo-kick moment. We'll settle for this awesome smile

100 Days of Ellie: Day 75

100 Days of Ellie: Day 73

July 9, 2010

Big Things Going On

Massive, huge, monster-sized things have been culminating this week. Not the least of which includes the arrival of Miss Sophia Ann West (my niece!) on Tuesday, July 6 at 6:05pm (a minute early!), weighing in at 6 lbs 1 oz (an ounce too much!). J-k, j-k. I'm packing up the fam and cruising to Cincy this evening to meet the littlest bundle and take too many photos and otherwise irritate the sh*t out of her.

What else? Oh, new phones! Our busted, old hand-me-down phones were starting to fail and we decided to "embrace the present" as I put it, and get some Smart phones. Android Allys they are. Bringing the internet and a thousand widgets to my fingertips, among other things. A pretty handy way to stay abreast of the happenings surrounding our daughter and keeping us in touch with home when we are away from it.

What else, too? Lebron James. Bummer.

Umm... Ellie had her 3-month-iversary yesterday! C and I celebrated with Vendi caramel soy lattes and beer, respectively. Ellie drank a lot of breast milk. One of these days I'm going to have to cut her off that stuff. Daycare seems to be getting better each day, both for Ellie and the woman who is watching her. And today marks day 93 in the "100 Days of Ellie" series that has been so sporadic. This morning I uploaded a ton more photos from our camera and I plan to sort through them. My hope is to get it all on this blaugh before day 100...

Erm.... moments ago I broke down and bought myself some nice pants as an early birthday gift to myself. Expensive enough that I wouldn't let anyone else buy them for me. Hopefully they are as nice as promised. It was all I could do to keep myself from buying an additional pair of shorts and a second pair of pants. Lets try this first pair before I get so invested, ok?

Oh, and it's Friday. Woop woop

July 3, 2010


about a month or more back our Mr. Coffee machine tapped out. This turned out to be my excuse to open up the french press given to me as a gift from my sister probably a year (two?) ago. While I'm still trying to figure out the proper ratio of grounds to water, I've managed to make some good cups of coffee (amidst some terrible ones). I love it because it makes me feel real old school. Like, a legit coffee connoisseur. Mais oui. Like, instead of wearing some swim trunks right now, I should be wearing some nice trousers. Anyway, this photo is an homage to my french pressing experience. Cin cin.