Lunch with the Smiths


Kris and I met up with the Smiths for lunch today. Though Meter was wary of Kris-Stranger-Danger, she cuddled up to me, which made me very very happy. Yes, having lunch with two little girls who have a balloon and a tiara between the two of them, is a fabulous way to start a new year.




Yeah, and, about that tiara, I couldn't resist.

The tiara looks good on me.

Mark will appreciate this


MMMM housewarming!


Kris and I went over to Mark and Megan's for their house warming party. I tragically didn't remember the invite correctly, and missed that it started at 11:00 AM, thinking it started at 1:00 PM and showing up at 2:00 PM would be fine. It was supposed to end at 3:00 PM, so I was dumb.

We arrived some time soon after 2:00 PM, and chatted for a moment with Brynne and Chookie and Shirley and Martha and Doyle people before Megan walked in with Meter on her hip. Oh, little kid, please tell me you've forgiven me, please, oh, please, I thought, as I asked Megan if I could hold Meter. Megan said sure, Meter resisted. I eventually won her over, and she let me hold her and play with her.

With her pigtails, oh my goodness, does Meter look like Mirabelle.


Eventually, Mark came over from socializing with other guests, and sat down with us to talk. When I handed him Meter, Mark commented that she's been having a rough week. He brushed aside her bangs and showed us a lovely flower of a bruise. Aside from Meter's gum dive, she rode her tricycle off the deck and managed to land on her head.

Either that kid is going to be the toughest kid on the block or Evel Knievel's logical successor.


That sound? The disposal.


Some time last month, our garbage disposal stopped working.

It didn't have a spoon or a knife or a fork jammed into it. It didn't have an excess of food in it. It just stopped spinning. If I had to speculate, I would have guessed it was all the string from the string cheese going down the drain caught on the spinning parts. Okay, not really, but I do think that the stringy something or other that I've been pulling out of the garbage disposal had something to do with the stop. Of course, the something that ruined the pipes could have something to do with the disposal problem, too.

Kris had attempted to clear it, using the Intarweb™ to find solutions. Unfortunately, using an allen wrench and turning the disposal in a counter-clockwise direction didn't solve the problem.

So, we did the next best thing.

We bought a new garbage disposal and bribed Mark to help us install it.

We bribed him with dinner.

More importantly, we bribed Megan with dinner, and asked her to bring Mark along.

Mirabelle, Megan and Meter at dinner

Given our success with the kitchen lights, we were on a high, and ready to do the install ourselves. Mark, however, had recently installed a garbage disposal in his house, and commented that this install was going to be easy, and we didn't need the plumbers putty we had bought.

Turns out, garbage disposals have a part that attaches to the sink and is sealed. The disposal itself hangs off this part. If you need to replace your current disposal and have the foresight to purchase the same (or near enough the same) model as your old disposal, you can leave the attachment on the sink, and just screw the new disposal onto the attachment.

THIS is why I bribe Mark to help us with these things. I didn't know about these parts before today. This is also why I bribe Mark, and don't pay some recent college grad to replace the disposal. Two blinks after dinner, the disposal was in place and running.

Mark dealing with the disposal

Thanksgiving at the Smiths


This holiday season, Kris and I have pretty much made no plans. No, that's not quite right, we've made some plans. In particular, we've planned NOT to travel for the holidays. This is a big break from my family's usual plans of gathering for Thanksgiving, which typically leaves Christmas open for Kris' family gatherings in December. However, with all of my travel this year, and finances being as iffy as they are, we've decided not to join the mass migration to other parts of the country.

Besides, how would Kris be able to play World of Warcraft from his mother's computer? I mean, really?

So, when Megan let us invite ourselves, er, invited us over for Thanksgiving, we jumped at the chance. I enjoy big family gatherings, and the Smith family qualifies for both big and family. Besides, the new house needed proper family christening, and what fun would that be?


Since we were heading over hill and over dale to the Smiths' house, and hills crush Kris' car's gas milage, I drove us up to the house. When I arrived, I noticed that the parking pad next to the house was empty. After checking that the other easy parking spots were full, I circled back around to part on the parking pad. That was when Kris spoke up.

"You're not going to part here, are you?"

"Yeh, I was planning on it."

"Can't we park back up there?"

"No. Look, there are four parking spots here. Dinner is in like an hour, we're probably the last people here. I'll just park here. Besides, Megan said they put in an extra spot."

"Why aren't you parking on the side?"

"Because the tenant parks on the left."


Take that, gravity!

Megan later confirmed that EVERYONE avoided parking on the new parking pad, so I had better have parked there! I made sure Kris heard her, complete with a confirmation that he had.

So, you know that Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin is just walking along in one panel, and in the next there's this blur with a tail on one side? Yeah, the one where both Calvin and Hobbes are in a heap in the third panel? Yes, that one.

That was us, when we approached the front door of the house. Together, Kris and I were Calvin. The part of Hobbes was played by Kevin, who came rushing us from the side of the house and tackled the two of us, to much merriment and greetings.

The tackle just set the tone for the whole evening, which was marvellously spectacular. I managed another bear hug from Matty, and lots of chatting with Kevin, and Mark, and Mark's parents, and Megan's parents, and TWO grandmothers (which is crazy! Mirabelle and Meter have a good chance at long lives). I wanted to help Megan out with the dinner, but, well, she was done.

The meal, holy moly, I swear must have taken Megan all day plus two, even though she denies it. She made the entire meal a Smitten Kitchen recipe meal (which could have ended disastrously when SK's monthly bandwidth quota was exceeded this morning and everyone was locked out of the site, except that Megan is resourceful and used the Google cache to retrieve the recipe details she was missing), which meant it was completely Kris friendly.

Think lobster, and you're close to how wonderful the meal was.

The house is looking fabulous. I really like the design choices they've made with the house. I need to ask about the flooring. Thinking of putting it in at the Indiana house.

So, when people ask us what we're thankful for, I'll say with no hesitation that having friends like the Smiths is one of the biggest blessings in our lives and we're incredibly happy for their presence in our lives. I'm glad I don't need a big holiday to know or remember this.

How many engineers?


How many engineers does it take to get gas in a rental car on the way to Tampa Bay airport without getting lost?

From today's experience, more than 4.

HBD Mark!


Mark, Megan, Mirabelle and Meter came over today for dinner. Well, make that with dinner, as Megan brought over all the fixings for a tasty mushroom pie, then made the pie for Megan, Mark and me.

Mirabelle hadn't had an afternoon nap when she arrived, so the typed "baby" and "mirabelle" on my computer, then went off to the guest room for a nap. I'm glad we have the happy yellow room for naps and guests, and that we can get our small house to sleep seven if it has to sleep seven, though, I guess the floor would actually allow us to sleep even more if less comfortably.

So, while Mirabelle was sleeping (more or less, with "less" being more accurate), and Meter was crawling around playing with electronic devices and power plugs and batteries (mmmmmmm, tasty batteries), Megan baked a pie, Mark came over and eventually Kris came home, too.

We celebrated Mark's birthday by melting pink candles in his birthday pie.

Yeah, I can honestly say I didn't realize that the candles would melt in the pie when I shoved them into the pie. Megan pulled them out a few minutes later to light them, and managed to pull out only the wicks. She pointed it out to me, and, well, I was pretty much mortified that I had just added wax to Megan's labor of love.

We ate around the wax. The pie was awesome.

Happy birthday, Mark!

Feed me!


I borrowed Andy's jigsaw from him about three weeks ago. I had intended to have it exactly one day, but, for reasons I really can't explain, I continue to have his jigsaw. Determined to return it today at practice, I pulled out the shelves I was intending to jig, and started cutting away, expecting each shelve to take about 5 minutes, realizing quickly that the 25 minutes I had alloted myself before practice was about ten minutes too short. I'd have to hurry.

I was half way through my first fig when I paused and went into the kitchen to get something. As I entered the kitchen from the garage, I realized that someone was rattling on the front door, following our open door policy: just walk in. If the front door is unlocked, we're not having sex on the living room floor, and all friends are welcome to walk straight into the house, no doorbell or knocking needed. Andy has a similar policy, and honestly, even when he's expecting us, it's still hard to just walk in without knocking. However, it keeps the dog barking to a dull roar when visitors don't knock. Sometimes said visitors can actually manage to enter the house without a dog noticing. Said visitors are rare and usually named "Megan" or "Mike."

My visitor was having little luck with the front door, however, as I hadn't unlocked it after the morning tryst on the living room rug. I looked to see it was Mark, and hurried to unlock the door for him.

A few hours earlier, Megan had called our home phone, the one I rarely answer since the only people who call the number these days are telemarketers, political auto-dialers and people with whom I have a professional relationship but who mistakenly believe calling my home number is okay. Well, and people I really like to talk with, like Megan, Jessica, Mike and Andy. Which, honestly, is why I keep answering that phone in the first place.

So, Megan called, asking if the new medical facility over by our house had emergency care. I told her it wasn't emergency, but rather walk-in, urgent care, open from like 9 to 9, but yeah, it had walk-in health care, what was up?

Turned out, Mark had possibly broken his hand and needed it x-rayed, could I recommend the new facility? Except for the devastating environmental impact of the facility and the overwhelming inconvenient traffic patterns the infrastructure created, yeah, I could recommend the facility. So off Mark went.

After his xrays and cast and paperwork adventure, Mark stopped by to visit with us. He had, indeed, broken his hand, his fourth metacarpal bone with both a break and spiral fracture, caused by the power tool that had caught when Mark was doing electrical work on his house, spun his hand around and slammed it against the nearest wall. He might need surgery, but was out of commission for at least two weeks.

Oh, and he hadn't eaten today, could I feed him?


Minor panic, sure.

We don't exactly have "snack" food in our house. I haven't been eating many wheat products as of late, having neither the particular desire for large amounts of bread or posta, much less bought any wheat products, as loaves of bread will go stale or moldy before we finish it. Kris has his own crackers, but I haven't bought any in over a year or so. Uh... what could I feed him?

Apple and peanut butter? That's been my snack for a while now, more so now that I can walk outside and pull an apple off the tree to eat.

How about yogurt? Plain or vanilla?

A glass of juice! Yes, that will get sugar into your blood stream quickly.

I then remembered that Mark likes avocado, so I pulled out the second half of the one I had started for breakfast that morning, sliced it up and poured balsamic vinegar over it.

After about 10 minutes of eating and chatting (only brieftly with Kris, who hadn't gotten up from his WarHammer game, WarHammer, the new World of Warcraft), Mark turned to me and declared, "Ahhhhhh... I feel human again."

Except the broken hand thing, I think.

Balancing act


Yeah, so, that tightrope of nylon webbing/straps... some of Mischief were more brave than others. In particular, Doyle and Mark.

And maybe Andy.

I know Shirley tried, too, but I don't have any pictures of her attempts. Being the lightest of those who attempted to walk the tightrope, Shirley appeared the most graceful of the bunch.

I'm just glad that no one fell off and hit the 2' rock that was only a meter from the rope/webbing/strap.

Not so faire


Megan and I went with the girls to the Maker Faire today. Only, we didn't quite make it. And Mark came along.

Our original plan was to head up around 10:30, head into the faire around 11, and leave around 1:30 or 2. The cost was $25 a person, but, well, two crafty women tooling around with two small kids in tow? Yeah, we'd see what we needed to see in those three hours, and boy, would it be worth the $25 a head, kids free!

Only, we didn't figure on the lines. The lines, the lines, the lines.

The first line was on 101 N to get onto 92 W. Megan pretty much said "screw this!" in a much nicer way, and went north on 101 to 3rd St. Megan's navigational abilities are impressive, as she turned left on Delaware after crossing 101, and voila! we were on our way to the fairgrounds, which were ON Delaware, about a mile south. We managed to bypass about a hour of sitting in traffic with the detour, and find a great parking space on the parking shuttle bus route, so we didn't have to walk to the fairgrounds.

We arrived, to discover two lines: the 45 minute credit card line, and the 30 minute cash line. Mirabelle and I jumped in one line, as Mark and Meter jumped in the other, and Megan went off to figure out which line we wanted to be in, and how long we would be in the line.

After looking at the line, seeing the next line inside, realizing it would be 12:30 before we managed to actually get into the fair, we gave up, and went off for a different adventure.

We ended up at Central Park in San Mateo, mostly because the park has a train for kids to ride around on, but also because it was close, and we were hungry and ready for lunch.

The great thing about parks is that they enable you to learn, without really trying. Take, for example, the cork tree that I learned about. I thought it was just a weird tree. Turns out, it's actually a weird, FUNCTIONAL tree. How's that for learning?

I also learned that, hey, you know what, people do go to the park for lunch and resting by a tree in the shade.

Who knew?

After lunch, the only appropriate thing for a two year old to do at a park is, well, you know, break the law.

So, with a little encouragement, Mirabelle did just that.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't "a little." It was, however, certainly appropriate. Civil disobedience at a young age! Ah, it warms the heart!

What? What did Mirabelle do?

Well, the sign behind her reads:

"It is unlawful to enter or use the elevated stage area at CENTRAL PARK without a CITY permit."

The sign is actually quoted like that, too.

Of course, Mirabelle was by far NOT the only person up on the stage, sharing it with a runner, an old dude and a dog, but she was the cutest. And! She was up for a continuing adventure. Like, battling the bathroom wind monsters. I tell you, Mirabelle's wind kung fu knows no limit!

Neither does how much she's able to impress me. Without hesitation, when we arrived at the playground, she wanted to go up! So, up she went to the top of the playground equipment. "Ladders? They're for climbing. Even if the rungs are slippery, and I have to hang on with one pinky while I manage to get my footing." That's what she was telling me.

Clearly she's done this before, as neither Mark nor Megan worried about her zooming up to the top. Me? I was a wreck during her climb.

One of the best parts of climbing up, is coming back down.

After the junglegym, we had to leave for other afternoon plans. We buzzed through the Japanese gardens, seeing the small japanese maple trees, the pagoda, a couple bridges and, of course, the fish.

All in all, a pretty wonderful day with the Smiths. Who needs a faire when you have a Mirabelle to keep you company?