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Girls hanging out

5 Apr

(via Instagram). It’s so rare to get a decent picture of the girls sitting together and not moving so much the picture is all blurry.

We found out this week that registration is opening up for Lilly’s kindergarten class in August. TOO SOON!

I got to bag it up

27 Feb

Where to begin? Crazy season in my life starts around mid-February and doesn’t let up until mid-March. For about a month, my life revolves around South by Southwest Interactive and somewhere in there I’m also celebrating my brother and mom’s birthdays and trying to enjoy the suddenly awesome spring weather that only lasts a few weeks before the crushing summer heat returns.

I start thinking about how I’ll handle my DVR duties (MUST. WATCH!) when I’ll be gone for five or six days, how we’ll juggle the kids’ daycare and my middle-of-the-night commuting and even what I’ll be packing in my work bag, which became the subject of last week’s Digital Savant column.

(No column this week due to the Oscars).

I haven’t followed my own advice and purchased a little power strip yet, but I plan to do that tonight. The other thing I plan to do differently this year is to take my bike. The one I never ride that’s been sitting in the garage forever. I bought a fancy bike lock and checked to make sure the tires aren’t flat. I plan to dust it off, lube it up and ride (we’re still talking about the bike here). So if you see someone in downtown Austin in two weeks swinging wildly on a bike with a heavy work bag causing imbalance, that’s probably me. Say hi.

I had two other pieces run in the paper last week, reverse-publishes of a post I did about Code for Austin’s Saturday Hackathon and a guide to finding (and RSVP’ing to) parties at SXSW Interactive.

Also, I’m writing about the official app, the guy from Stratfor who’s speaking at the fest and the co-founder of Pinterest. (Oh, I’m on Pinterest, by the way. Come watch me pin things.)

Have a lot more pieces about the fest in the works including some stuff for CNN.com.

I’m trying to spend as much time as possible at home with the kids because I know I won’t be seeing them a lot in mid-March. When I wasn’t looking, Carolina went from the pre-verbal baby to a kid who can repeat pretty much any word and who’s talking nonstop and grabbing EVERYTHING. Grab grab grab, baby STOP! OK, not a baby, but STILL. Toddler, QUIT!

Here she is. We dig her crazy style.

Happy theater goer.

Hangers-on

And one of Lilly for good measure:

Getting whooped at princess checkers.

Carolina is two

21 Dec

Two years old

This was Halloween

5 Nov

20111105-092711.jpg

Garden gnome and “RaTangled.”

All Hallow’s Vacation

31 Oct

Illustration by Don Tate II / Austin American-Statesman

Today, I’m at home on the first day of a week-long vacation. It starts with Halloween and ends with the first day of Wurstfest, which seems to me to be some kind of divine calendarification, evidence that sausage and ghosts and perhaps God are all working together in some way. Maybe two out of three of those, at least.

The work trip I wrote about last time went fine. The kids were well-behaved and went to bed on time and there was even sleep to be had. That ended a week later when the weather changed, some allergens blew in and Carolina developed a bad, phlegmy cough (which sometimes leads to middle-of-the-night vomiting) that we’re still dealing with. Still, she just gets up and starts bouncing around when she wakes up, as if the psychic and also goopy wreckage of the night before never happened. She’s going to be one of those annoying people who never gets a hangover, I can feel it.

The vacation was… very necessary. We got more bad news at work last week. This was news that was scheduled. There was a meeting and a date and time for that meeting set and months of anticipation as to the things that would be announced at that meeting. All that was left were the details.

And yet, we’re all still devastated. We’re hurt and frustrated and knowing it was coming doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. This was the day before my last day at the office (which I ended up spending working from home). The last few weeks in general were really tough at work and I just bore down and tried to knock every single thing off my to-do list so that I wouldn’t have any loose ends or things to worry about when I was gone.

So here I am, first day of vacation, writing about work.

I wrote so much the last two weeks, a lot of it stories and blog posts scheduled to run later, that it’s going to look like I’m not even gone.

Last week, I did a Tech Monday column about Siri in which I asked her a bunch of questions about Texas and the lady of the iPhone 4S proved pretty convincingly that she’s no Texas belle.

This week’s Digital Savant column was a bigger piece, a lead story in Life & Arts in which I ask whether we might not all have a little bit of the online troll/griefer within us. This was part of the online identity series and as of right now, it’s the last officially scheduled piece of that series, but I’m sure we’re continue returning to the topic because there’s so many ideas that my editor and I have that deal with those ideas. I love the illustration that ran with it (it’s at the top of this blog entry) and the story, which I guess is half-essay, half-reported tech trend article, seemed to have worked out pretty well.

Also in today’s paper was a short story about SXSW Interactive’s ScreenBurn and I have a few more things in the pipeline for the rest of this week and next. The blog’s been busy with lots of tech reviews that’ll run as an upcoming roundup column and lots of stuff about Apple’s iOS 5.

We’re taking the kids trick-or-treating tonight. My wife and I went to our first Halloween party in probably about six or seven years and we even worse costumes. Mine was not so well-received and I blame it on the party being in San Antonio where, apparently, “Breaking Bad” is not a thing people watch at all. I went as Walter White, meth cook extraordinaire:

Halloween costume #breakingbad

We haven’t taken any photos of the kids in their costumes, but Lilly did get in some carving time yesterday:

4-year-old: carving pumpkin's sworn enemy:

Also on tap this week: new Trailers Without Pity season starts with The Muppets! That should be up in the next day or two.

Busy vacation! Hoping to do lots of writing, TV watching, de-cluttering, gym-going and Halloween candy eating.

Adventures in Temporary Single Dadhood

18 Oct

As I write this, the kids are asleep, one of them in the bed I share with my wife, the other in her crib.

Normally, we’d try to keep Lilly in her own bed, and in a little while I’ll carry her back over, but for now I’m just thrilled and a little surprised that they’re asleep and that there’s a little window of free time for me. It’s weird. It’s unusual.

My wife’s on a work trip, the first one she’s ever taken for any job. We knew about it weeks and weeks ago and have been planning for it ever since, but in the end it turns out not a lot had to be done. My parents came over last night to help and my in-laws will be here tomorrow night. (It’s a blessing, always, that they all live so close. We’re beyond lucky in that sense.) Tonight was the only night I’d be spending alone with the kids and even that turned out not to be true; my parents swung by to pick up something before a trip they’re taking out of town and got to visit with the girls again for a little while.

It’s been a lot easier than I was expecting. The girls haven’t been wailing for their Momma. Tonight, as we were reading books, Lilly said matter-of-factly, “I miss Momma.” But she didn’t whine or cry or get bent out of shape. She whines more when she wants apple juice or a snack after she’s brushed her teeth. I told her Momma would be back in two days and she asked if we could bake her some cupcakes.

And that was it.

We’ve got them on such a set routine, even if some nights (with my wife here) it can feel chaotic and unstructured, that the girls are kind of on autopilot with dinner, bath, medicine, stories, bed. Tonight, there was even time to take a walk around the neighborhood, wagon and tricycle ridden. They’re in daycare during the day and I don’t know if they’ve been wearing them out with laps or mini Hula Hoop marathons or what, but whatever they’re doing is working.

This was going to be this incredible strain; we talked about me taking days off from work or at least a sleep day since they’d surely be keeping me up all night. But, as happened when we went to Vegas, the girls have been on what passes for their best behavior. It’s almost spooky.

One friend on Facebook suggested I shut up and suck it up as I’m the dad, not a babysitter. First of all, shut up. Second, my wife would be just as freaked out if I was going on a three-day business trip. I’ve taken a two-night business trip, but that was when Lilly was still an infant and before Carolina was born. It’s a little different when they outnumber you. They’re little unpredictable monsters sometimes; even with both of us here, we sometimes get overwhelmed.

I’m going to chalk the way this week has gone so far to some major luck.

The other thing we did this week was take the girls to the San Antonio Zoo. We got rained out the week before when a freak thunderstorm (in a year when we’ve had hardly any rain at all) kept us away. This last Sunday, it was warm and sunny and the girls got to see some elephants, monkeys, sea turtles and butterflies. They only lasted about two hours before they were overheated and worn out, but that was still a good time.

I took photos with my new phone and with the trusty SLR. I got a shot of Carolina that I love because it reminds me of another lucky photo we got at a wedding. She’s tough to photograph because she never stops moving and when we pose her for photos, her tornado personality goes away. I always think of her as dancing or chattering or throwing something. She’s that kind of kid. The photos below capture her best. She’s always yelling or dancing or laughing or having a little party of her own.

Better version of Carolina the Monkey without the weird HDR artifacts

Carolina the partier


The only other real new stuff this week is that I had a Digital Savant column that ran about Aunt Bertha, a website that tries to simplify finding and applying for need-based assistance. Every once in a while I get to write about people who are out there doing legitimate Good Things for other people. Maybe they’re making money at it, but their goals and their mission are pretty altruistic and it’s often clear from what they’re putting out into the world that they’re doing something that’s, for lack of a better word, right.

I also did some crude drawings on the Digital Savant blog about the iPhone 4S (yes, I bought one; I’ll be writing more about that soon).
I always feel honored when I get to be the person who tells others about it. And I drew a zombie this week, so that was noteworthy, I guess.

Things have calmed down a bit at work since my last post, but like I said last time, I can’t wait for my upcoming vacation. I have a to-do list of stories that need to be done before I go and I’m knocking them down one by one, as they’re what stands between me and that time off.