28 February 2010

NaBloPoMo - Say It Five Times Fast

So now that I got some linkjuice love, I decided it's time to give all eight of those visitors something to come back to. Thanks MaryMac, you've officially made this whole blogging thing work.

So I welcome you to my attempt at NaBloPoMo; it's not just fun to say, but it's fun to do, too! Basically, it's sort of a blogging test - post once a day for an entire month. Plus, stay on topic. Because heck, anyone could write something about anything for 30 days; the trick is to stay on topic for each of those posts. Especially when the topic doesn't closely resemble anything your blog is about.

This month's topic is: Strange(r), which could mean anything from writing about random people you come across every day to odd things that you see on your drive to work to different (i.e. "strange") Web sites you come across daily (see how we played on the word a bit to stretch the topic? You know you're in the presence of a writer).

Being a parenting blog, I don't really think Strange(r) is a topic that meshes well. I mean, we tell our kids not to talk to strangers, not to eat strange foods, not to stick your finger there and a bunch of other NOTs related to strangeness. So this could be an interesting month.

Wish me luck. 30 blogs in 30 days, starting today. Enjoy it while it lasts.

27 February 2010

Home Sweet (Dream) Home ... with an awesome custom bar

To all of you who made it here thanks to MaryMac, I welcome you. Ah, yes, linkjuice tastes so sweet. And just to clarify: my wife doesn't blog -- she just makes smartass comments and tells me what I'm doing wrong oversees production and takes a picture now and then. I hope you enjoy it here and decide to make your way back in the future.

Anywho, loving wifey is working today, which left Kaitlyn in the uneasy trembling capable hands of Daddy. We've already had a busy day, which has included looking at some shiny new homes. No, blogging hasn't made me rich enough to purchase a shiny new home (not to mention we've already got one). It's something I enjoy doing, considering my previous job.

Looking at homes makes me wonder what's going to happen in the years to come. I mean, that nice bonus room above the garage would make a great play area for Kaitlyn and/or more kids (Yikes, did I say that? See what happens when Michelle's not around to oversee my little production) but it would also make a cool poker room. Or maybe a pool table. With a dart board. And custom bar. Oh wait, no bathroom in the bonus room. Nix the bonus room.

Then what about that master bedroom on the first floor? Right now I couldn't think about my 26-month-old upstairs alone. But what about when she's eight? I mean, it won't matter once she becomes a teenager -- she'll be locked in the tower -- but I think I'll want a floor separating us when she's all about yelling at Daddy. At least seeing her stomp up the stairs when I tell her "no" will be entertaining.

And how big of a lot do I need? I mean, I want a yard big enough to put a swing set, but I'm sort of spoiled not having to do yard work. Plus, Michelle has a black thumb -- she can kill a cactus.

I guess for now we'll remain happy in our little townhome. It's a good home -- just one without a shiny new poker room/pool table/dart board/custom bar. Sigh.

23 February 2010

Who Wants to Go for a Run?

Ed. Note: I sent this email earlier this evening as a result of some news I got this week. Thought it was Growing Up Kaitlyn-worthy. Enjoy.

Dear Friends:

While you are getting this email from Michelle, it's actually James. I didn't have all your email accounts in my address book, so I hijacked my wife's email for this very important announcement.

As you may or may not know, I am a bottomless pit when it comes to food. I eat anything and everything. There's Papa John's The Meats pizza, the entire dollar menu at McDonald's, bottomless Garlic Parmesan Fries at Red Robin, the Tour of Italy at Olive Garden, a Joey Bag of Donuts at Moe's, the Great Wall of Chocolate at PF Chang's and countless other foods that, without my support, would likely be taken off menus across this great nation. I do, however, draw the line at Costco-brand dim-sum (thanks, Joe).

Because my body's metabolism has allowed me to eat these wonderfully sinful foods without gaining more than four or five pounds in any given calendar year since I was 15, I never saw the affect any of this was having on my health. Never looked at weight as a problem, never had a total workup during a physical because doctors told me, "You look fine. Anything wrong?" and the answer was no; never had my cholesterol checked, mostly out of fear the nurse reading the results would have a coronary just by looking at the high numbers.

All this changed, however, in my return from semi-retirement. In order to get lower health insurance costs, I had to participate in the company's wellness program. That required getting blood drawn and tests done. The results came back this week. And I need some help.

Apparently, all my fast food friends weren't actually my friends. Can you believe a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese isn't good for you? Yeah, I know. This will in all likelihood end my quest to becoming the next Deep Fried Ambassador. My cholesterol levels are -- how to put this -- higher than Tim Lincecum at HempCon. In plain English, I need to get healthier. And one of those ways is to (brace yourselves) start running again. *GASP*

I figured there's no better motivation than money. I am already dropping the $25 to register for the 2nd Annual Running for the Green on May 22, a 5K that benefits the Greensboro Children's Museum. I figured that not only will I have the motivation to run because I don't want to lose the money, but I would also be giving the money to a good cause -- one that the family will benefit from since we love bringing Kaitlyn to the museum.

So the offer to you is simple: come run with me. It's a mere three miles through Fisher Park on a Saturday morning. If you run with me, I'll even provide my home and the food for a grilling party that afternoon. Heck, come out and support everyone who's running and you too can come to the house (bring your own food though, slacker).

I have 13 weeks to get myself into some semblance of shape (and no, "round" doesn't count). Michelle might even come out and support me if you all bug her enough. But she won't run -- remember the Cannonball?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Talk to you all soon. Later -- James.

20 February 2010

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

For the past few weeks, Michelle and I have had a visitor in our bed each night. There was no telling when Kaitlyn would make her way into our bed, but inevitably there she'd be, snoring away in between Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes vertical, sometimes horizontal, always snoring.

Like I said, no telling what time she'd make her way in, either. Sometimes she'd start in the bed because she wouldn't go down quietly. In recent weeks, Kaitlyn would be in her crib screaming at the top of her lungs for an hour-plus while we sat in the bedroom praying for her to pass out from crying.

Nope. So either we'd bring her in the bed with us (I know, I know. Parenting 101 - you don't do that). or I would rock her to sleep. Sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour and a half. There have been nights when Michelle would have to come and get me at 2 or 3 in the morning because I was passed out on the rocker with her.

This trend continued on our Disney vacation, as Kaitlyn was wired with chocolate, diet soda (thanks, Nana) and ice cream and would not sleep alone. That trip was the last straw. We had finally had enough of this. Actually, Michelle finally gave in and allowed me to turn the last bastion of toddler-hood into Kaitlyn's first bed.

Earlier this morning, while Michelle and Kaitlyn lay in bed watching Playhouse Disney, I took off the prison bars and replaced them with the small wooden bar that opens up a whole new world for little girls and boys around the world. I have to say, it was a little tough to do, since there's always that piece of you that doesn't want her to grow up. At the same time, I like my sleep and nothing else seems to be working.

We'll see how we do tonight. She's gotten a little taste of the bed, crawling into it and putting her stuffed animals in a corner. I just hope she decides to be a big girl tonight, because I could really use a good night's sleep.

17 February 2010

An Open Letter to RDU

Dear Raleigh-Durham International Airport:

I like you, but I don't love you. I sort of view you as the Mistress of airports. You're airport-sexy thanks to low airfares from Southwest. And I like you enough to keep you around for a while, even for non-Southwest flights. Your name even rolls off the tongue. RDU. A lot sexier than PTIA or Charlotte-Douglas. Eh.

But I can't commit to you because of your flaws. And there are lots of them. And the more I see them, the more I know you're not the one for me. For instance:
  • You think more highly of yourself than others think of you. When I can find a cheaper flight to places like New York and Las Vegas from Greensboro, you're kidding yourself. And that's even including Southwest.
  • And speaking of Southwest, they're your bread and butter. Treat them like it. If Southwest bolted for someplace else, you'd be nothing more than the PTIA of the state capitol. Provide Southwest passengers some love, like a covered walkway from the parking lot to the Southwest terminal without having to trek two miles with your luggage.
  • For a "major" airport, you have no amenities. Pre-security checkpoint, you've got a chapel the size of a tack and a vending machine for flowers. That's it. Post-security checkpoint, I can either get a week-old turkey sandwich in plastic or a weak cup of coffee. Work on this. Pronto.
  • Your customer service is pathetic. Here's the deal: If my car needs a jump, I should be able to find a security guard and have them juice the ol' girl. Nope. Gotta call AAA, which promptly comes and takes care of business. Then, thanks to your stupid ExitExpress program, I actually get charged more when exiting the airport because I was over the allotted time to exit the airport. Here's a hint: If someone has to get their car jumped, spare them the extra two bucks. They've been through enough.
You've got a lot going for you, RDU. I like you, might even be so bold as to say that I like you a lot. But like any mistress, you've got baggage. You want me to commit to you, but are you really better than PTIA? Without Southwest and the rapping flight attendant, I don't think so.

15 February 2010

In Pictures: Shamu

I'm getting lazy today in an effort to keep up with the vacation blogging. Here was Funday Sunday at SeaWorld. You will note the lack of pictures compared to previous days. There are two reasons:

First, it's SeaWorld. I have pictures of animal all over this blog. No need to dull you any more.

Second, I was busy with three other children as Michelle's childhood friend, Aunt Jaimie, was in town with family. There's nothing like rolling through a theme park with four kids and five adults and still not feeling like you have enough hands.

Here is our side of the SeaWorld crew. Aunt Mary, Michelle, Kaitlyn and Nana with Rosie O'Donnell.

This might have been while watching the manatees. It could have been eyeing up the crocs. No matter. It was fun.

See what I mean about animal pictures? They're just stagnant. Yeah, sure, they're cute. They're colorful. They're boring as sin. 

If you see this group heading your way, you are advised to run the other direction screaming at the top of your lungs. Otherwise, you'll end up running after them through a theme park screaming at the top of your lungs.

Kaitlyn got a hold of this penguin doll first thing Sunday morning and never let go. Kaitlyn loves penguins. Too bad for her she never saw a real one at SeaWorld -- she slept through the Penguin Encounter.

14 February 2010

In Pictures: Disney Redemption

I'm running a day behind here in the hap-hap-happiest place on Earth, but that's to be expected. I'm on vacation, damnit.

After the typhoon landed in central Florida on Friday, we were able to make it to the pièce de résistance, the Magic Kingdom, on Saturday. While it might have put us behind a day, it all worked out. Especially since I didn't want to walk around sopping wet.

We did, however, walk around in 35-degree weather once you factored in the wind chill. Burr. Main Street U.S.A. was a wind tunnel, Walt and Co. were selling out of knit caps and there was a 45-minute wait to get coffee and hot chocolate.

The clouds parted toward midday, but it was still cold. Never got above 45 degrees all day. Sunday helped counter that and Monday is expected to get darn near 70 degrees (yea, golf day!), but Saturday was like sitting on an iceberg.

The highlights: Meeting the princesses in the morning, seeing the fireworks at night. And of course: Tinker Bell and her pixie friends.

Started the day at a character breakfast. While she appears somewhat interested, looks can be deceiving: Kaitlyn peed herself every time a character approached.

Off to the Magic Kingdom. Michelle sports a knit hat that Disney roped us into purchasing by turning the industrial air conditioners on inside the bubble that protects the resort. In the summer months, Disney pumps hot air into the bubble to justify $5 bottles of water.

While the characters with masks completely freaked out Kaitlyn, she was much more amenable to characters that are portrayed by actual people. This helps tremendously later, as you will see.

There are very few things Pop-Pop requests on his trips into the Magic Kingdom. One is the Country Bear Jamboree, much to my chagrin. I just don't get it. The other is the Jungle Cruise, which is a little more up my alley.

The line directly behind and ahead of us to see the Disney Fairies. We waited in this line for nearly 1.5 hours. And my daughter didn't whine, wince or create havoc once. She did, however, bust loose and darted into the character area ahead of 25 people.

Disney Fairy No. 1 was Rosetta, who seemed quite taken with Kaitlyn during the visit. Either that, or she was all up in Daddy's biz-niz, if you know what I mean. 

Disney Fairy No. 2 was Silvermist, who was very nice to Kaitlyn, but she was no Rosetta. To Kaitlyn or to Daddy. On a side note: This was one of the few pictures where Kaitlyn decided against the "Be Like Mike" tongue-sticking-out look during our entire stay in the hap-hap-happiest place on Earth.

Disney Fairy No. 3 was Tinker Bell herself. T-Bell (which is what the cool kids call her) was very sweet and bubbly, much how I would expect a fairy to be.

Valentine's Day Special: Disney Edition

So everyone's writing Valentine's Day posts about their significant others. Yada yada yada. Yeah, I love my wife, too. Enough to keep her out of a blog post once in a while.

Especially since we're here in the ha-hap-happiest place on Earth. After a day of mischief at Shamu's place, we're going to grab some grub with some real Valentines. You see, tonight's Nana and Pop-Pop's anniversary. How many, you ask? Enough to have six kids old enough to forget how many. That's a lot.

So we'll be back tomorrow with an update on the trip. For today, we here at Growing Up Kaitlyn wish you a Happy Valentine's Day with the ones you love. I'm off to celebrate two special days:

The happy couple, not looking too bad for 328 years married. Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids ...

... and Happy Valentine's Day, my two beautiful girls.

12 February 2010

Disney Day 1: Rain, Rain, Go Away

So here we are in the hap, hap, happiest place on Earth and it's raining cats and dogs. Or mice and ducks. Or pixies and princesses. Whatever, it's raining. And it sucks.

And it's cold. It's like we never left North Carolina, only the prices of beer went up about 75 percent. It's no snowstorm-hitting-the-Northeast or anything, but it's not supposed to get warmer than 55 degrees today. Did I mention that it's raining, like, an inch a minute here, too?

The Disney bus driver told us some forecasters even talked about snow flurries north of Orlando. WTF?!?!?

So here was our day today: Get up at 6:30 a.m., hang up around the timeshare watching Playhouse Disney until everyone wakes up. Head to breakfast at Olivia's and decide to test the rain. Jump on bus and go to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Get to Hollywood Studios amidst heavier rains. Decide to change course. Jump back on bus and go shopping in Downtown Disney. Shop and eat sundaes at Ghirardelli. Head back on bus for timeshare. Watch The Little Mermaid. Keep eye on rain at 2:15 p.m.

What are we going to do for the next seven hours? Probably eat something, somewhere. Pray for the rain to stop sounds like a plan, considering there's more in the forecast for the next 12-plus hours.

09 February 2010

Be prepared Mickey: Kaitlyn's a-comin'

It's been one year since our inaugural voyage to Walt Disney World with our Disney Girl. The last time we were there, she had a great time playing in the pool, a pretty good time riding It's A Small World, and was terrified at the sight of real-life characters. All in all, a lot of fun.

So here we are, just about 36 hours until the flight takes off from RDU bound for Orlando. This time, though, Kaitlyn's prepared.

She knows Mickey inside-out. Minnie doesn't know this much about the big-eared one. She's a pair of wings shy of being an honest-to-goodness fairy herself. My guess is she would be a Tinker fairy, considering she likes to take things apart (we're working on the putting-things-back-together-again part). The princesses are her new go-to characters, even though she calls Beast "Bear" and mixes up Pocahontas and Mulan. Apparently she's not too politically correct.

I've prepped her extensively regarding proper character etiquette. She's saying all the right things thus far:

Me: Who are we going to see this week Kaitlyn?
Kaitlyn: Mickey! Donald! Tinker Bell!
Me: Are we scared of Mickey?
Kaitlyn: No.
Me: Are we scared of Tinker Bell?
Kaitlyn: No.
Me: Are we going to give Mickey a big hug when we see him?
Kaitlyn: Yes.
Me: Can you show me? (big hug ensues)

We're nearly packed. We've got the cameras charged. We've got the tickets in hand. We've got the character breakfast booked. Now it all comes down to execution. And that's up to Kaitlyn. Or else we end up with this again:

06 February 2010

Boo would never eat Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn gets a big kick out of playing with Boo. Since Boo is all of nine pounds, it's not like she's an intimidating presence that scares Kaitlyn.

It also helps that Boo has never done anything more than lick Kaitlyn's fingers and face. That's due in large part to Michelle and I making sure that neither Boo or Kaitlyn cross the line of playing (No Kaitlyn, don't pull Boo-Boo's ears. No Boo-Boo, don't take Kaitlyn's toy).

So it's a little bothersome when you read stories like this one from our great state of North Carolina. Another one to file under the "Dumb Parents" header:

The night of Aug. 31, 2009, [Robbie Lynn Jenkins, 20, and Tremayne Jerel Spillman, 23] both consumed Seroquel, a sleep-inducing medication prescribed to Jenkins, and left their 4-month-old child, Tremayne Jerel Spillman Jr., on a foldout couch in the couple’s Murrill Hill Road home. A pit bull puppy they were dog-sitting chewed the toes off the baby boy.
[Jenkins and Spillman] appeared in court Thursday, pleading guilty to felonious negligent child abuse involving serious physical injury and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Jenkins received eight to 11 months. Spillman received 10 to 13 months. The couple also received five months credit for time served. Their plea was not part of a pre-arranged deal and they received the maximum sentence possible, according to state sentencing structure laws.

According to other reports, the couple was so blitzed that never heard the baby screaming and only became aware of the problem when they went to change their four-month-old son's diaper the next morning. THE. NEXT. MORNING.

Just as disturbing as the incident itself is the fact that they "received the maximum sentence possible." We've got pot smokers who get 24 months just for sitting on their couches with the munchies, but people who let a dog eat a baby spend less than a year in jail.

04 February 2010

Two-year-old forward commits to Lady Volunteers

I know I'm sort of stretching here, but I think Kaitlyn's going to have a lot going on. A whole lot. I mean, she's getting some pretty good genes for athletics, as I stand at six-foot-three and Michelle's just shy of a strong five-foot-ten.

And with National Signing Day being this past week, I am going to make a stunning announcement: After careful consideration, 25-month-old Kaitlyn Moffat has committed to play for the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and legendary coach Pat Summitt.

Granted, it's only a verbal commitment, since Kaitlyn is, you know, 25-months-old and there are plenty of things that could change in the next 15 years. I mean, she may decide that Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies deserve some consideration, or even Daddy's beloved Duke Blue Devils. She may pursue Daddy's dream dream of becoming a professional golfer and getting dear old Dad on some of those courses he could never afford to play another career path.

The point is, it's never too early to start planning for the future, especially when it comes to the competitive realm of college athletics and recruiting. It's a game (pun intended) that's starting earlier and earlier for players, coaches and parents. Take the case of David Sills.

You see, 13-year-old David Sills is a good football player. Apparently he's got a pretty good arm. Good enough for Quarterback U. to take notice and offer the youngster a full ride. You read that right. Newly-installed USC football czar Lane Kiffin has offered this newly-minted teenager a scholarship to the University of Southern California. I wonder how many 8th grade Science Fair blue ribbon winners get full rides to M.I.T.

The scary part? The youngster accepted the offer. Or maybe what's scarier is that the parents are apparently on board with this plan. Why not, considering they'll reap the financial benefits of young Davy's golden arm. Especially at USC, where financial benefits start even before you turn pro.

Sills is 5-foot-11 and 136 pounds, with doctors having told him he will grow to be 6-foot-5. "I've always imagined in my dreams going to USC," he said. "But I never really detailed it to the phone call. All I imagined was playing in the Coliseum. But this is so crazy and out of nowhere." [David Sill's father] said he talked many times with his son about college, specifically USC, cautioning his son about "if that opportunity is there when the time comes. "We assumed that would be when he was a junior [in high school]," Sills IV said.

Note to Coach Summitt: I am no doctor, but I can assure you that Kaitlyn will grow to six-foot-eight (give or take 12 inches). And with my athletic background (I was the starting point guard on my middle school team and played some pick-up ball through my 20s) and Michelle's anal-retentiveness attention to detail, you will truly be getting a unique specimen, as well as a student of the game.

02 February 2010

In Pictures: Kaitlyn's first snowman

So I return from sunny South Florida just in time for another winter blast in Greensboro. I say every year that I love a good snowfall, but now it's just getting ridiculous.

This is the second major snowfall here this season and, personally, this one's worse than the first. That's because it's not just snow, but ice underneath the snow. At least an inch thick underneath, meaning the sunny days won't completely melt away all the problems immediately.

Nevertheless, it's still awfully nice to look at, especially when you've got a peanut who loves nothing more than playing in it.

Kaitlyn does love her some snow. And yes, those are Michelle's fuzzy socks on her feet in order to keep her sneakers as dry as possible.

Kaitlyn and Daddy rolling out some snowman pieces. Just hours before, Daddy was in sunny, warm Miami. Ugh.

Kaitlyn's snowman is nearly complete, as she stretches to her tippy toes to put the carrot nose in place. And yes, I said tippy toes. Got a problem with that?

Kaitlyn's first snowman

01 February 2010

I just flew in from Miami and boy are my arms tired

It's been a whirlwind week, hence not so much as a squeak from my on social media. There were some random Tweets, but half of you probably haven't a clue that I have a Twitter account; one-quarter probably don't know how to use Twitter; the final 1/4 of you don't know what I'm talking about.

For the last six days, I was attending the Market America World Conference in Miami. It was a bit weird being away from Michelle and Kaitlyn for a full six days. And to think, I head back to Florida in 10 days. But more on that in the coming days.

So I had this great idea for today's post where I was going to share some of the texts exchanged between Michelle and I during the week. There were some classic ones in there, too. One was about Kaitlyn crying because YaYa and Pop-Pop were going to watch Boo for the week. Another was about Kaitlyn waking up and not seeing me in bed.

Problem is, I had to delete all of my messages because my memory was full in the cell phone. I figured Michelle would have her messages saved since she doesn't normally delete anything from her phone until it's 100 percent full. Unfortunately, Michelle hit that mark and deleted all her messages, too.

Instead, here's a short list of the things I learned while in Miami:
  • Don't order a Cuban sandwich at the American Airlines Arena. Apparently their version is turkey and ham on a hard baguette with banana peppers and a not-so-appetizing spread. That's $12 I'll never get back.
  • The Hilton Serenity mattresses and pillows make being away from home bearable. Those things are heaven.
  • Seventy-five degrees and sunny is perfect weather in Miami, as long as you're able to enjoy it outside. Otherwise, it's just a tease. 
  • I always thought the whole "Asians take lots of pictures" statement was a gross stereotype. Boy, was I wrong.
  • Some celebrities look hot on camera and when you see them in person, you're sort of like, "Oh, she's not really that hot." Eva Longoria is not that type of celebrity.  
  • I understand that the people of Miami are all about form-fitting clothes. But some people's form doesn't fit their clothes.