Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: My family's year in review

I have a couple family members who send out annual newsletters at Christmas time. They're always full of stuff that sounds super-impressive like: so-and-so ran a marathon, so-and-so finished writing his book, or so-and-so spent four months in an impoverished country building a school for orphans. Reading them is a great way to make yourself feel humble.

For some time I've considered writing such a letter myself, chronicling a year in the life of my family. Misty contends that we'll end up sounding pathetic, but I think we fared pretty well this past year.

Misty got a new job working as the communications director for Fresh Air Family, a non-profit organization that promotes outdoor activities. With this career change, she's been able to work from home and keep Emily and Kendall out of day care. That situation has not been without its difficulties, but the reward of spending more time with the girls has been nice for Misty.

With her job to propel us, we've taken numerous trips around the state to enjoy Alabama's natural beauty. We've gone camping in Conecuh National Forest... canoeing and camping at Bear Creek... explored caves at Rickwood Cavers, Sequoya Caverns, and Cathedral Caverns... searched for fossils at Shark Tooth Creek... and made other trips to places like Oak Mountain, Ebenezer Swamp, and Turkey Creek.

As for recreational vacations, we made three trips to Disney World this year. In February, Misty and I took Emily. We returned in September with both girls (and on that trip bought ourselves annual passes). Then in December Misty and I visited sans children to celebrate our 5-year anniversary (which was actually in November). With our annual passes, we're planning two more trips in 2009.

In between our jaunts to Orlando, we also managed a trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for a few relaxing days at the Gulf and another to Columbia, South Carolina where we got to visit with my brother and sister-in-law before they moved out to Denver.

Emily started taking a dance class in September. Supposedly, she's learning ballet and tap, but it's more like choreographed chaos. The teachers tell us that at her age, the main thing is to make the kids understand that dancing is fun. Emily has also begun working on a video project in which she'll host her own cooking show. Hopefully it will debut in the coming year.

Soon after she turned a year old, we began introducing Kendall to the idea of using the potty -- she doesn't do it on her own, but she'll usually go if you place her there. At around 18 months, Kendall gave up her pacifier with very little struggle. She's learned about fifty different words and has just begun putting them together.

I haven't had any significant career or life changes, but I'm happy with that. I reached my 10th year at, and I enjoy my job. I've been able to attend events at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Alabama Ballet, the Birmingham Zoo, the McWane Science Center, Disney on Ice, and more -- all in the name of "work." I've also seen a number of great concerts in the past year -- Band of Horses; Stars; British Sea Power; Islands; Ingrid Michaelson and Josh Ritter; Maria Taylor; Erin McCarley, Jason Isbell, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Michael Franti at City Stages; The National, Modest Mouse, and R.E.M.; KaiserCartel; Crooked Fingers and Okkervil River; and Wild Sweet Orange -- my proudest moment though was on Father's Day, holding Emily in my arms as she shouted through the noise, "I love it!," while giant balloons and confetti rained down on the audience for the Flaming Lips performance at City Stages. And like Misty's excursions around the state, that too was "work" for me.

Our final notable event of 2008 is that we joined a church. After a couple months of visiting Homewood Church of Christ, we decided that it was home for us. The people there have been wonderfully friendly and welcoming, and the classes and services have been enriching. Having grown up in the Episcopal church, it's a little different for me, but I really love it. It's the first time I can remember actually enjoying going to church.

Coming out of a year when so many people have had it rough -- especially considering the economic recession -- I'm thankful that my family has had so many good things happen to us in 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A little ham before dinner

Kendall is a ham
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Kendall has begun posing for pictures when she sees the camera pointed at her. She's become a little ham, and it's so cute.

I took this picture last night before we headed out for dinner at Iguana Grill with Trion, Stacy, and Paige. It reminds me so much of a photo I took of Emily when she was about the same age as Kendall is now. It was the first time (as far as I know) that Emily actually posed for a picture. In both photos, the girls are wearing sweaters and standing near a Christmas tree (though you can't see the tree in Emily's photo).

The cousins departed last night, and I've never heard Kendall wail so much. She and Paige were inseperable over the past two days. Everything that one of them did, the other had to do too. But it wasn't just Paige that Kendall was attached to; she constantly reached for Trion and Stacy, as well. It broke Kendall's heart for them to leave.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Young cousin camaraderie

Kendall and Paige
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Emily is up in Cullman visiting Aunt Wanda for a couple days. Meanwhile, Misty's cousin Trion, his wife Stacy, and their daughter Paige came to Birmingham to visit us.

Most of our time was spent playing with the girls. Paige is only about six weeks older than Kendall, and the pair got along great. They played with Potato Heads, had a tea party (something they never could have accomplished if Emily -- who knows a thing or two about tea parties -- had been around), sang songs, and made the most of being the center of attention.

Unfortunately, our attention lapsed briefly while Trion and I were playing Mario Kart Wii. The girls were playing in Kendall's room, and we'd commented that there was nothing in there that would cause trouble. However, when we heard a steady thumping noise, we went to investigate. I found Paige sitting in the rocking chair banging it into the wall. Her noise served as a warning, since I also discovered Kendall with a electrical plug in each hand trying to fit them into an outlet.

After dinner (where the girls ate very little and were more interested in getting up from the table and wandering around) Kendall and Paige had a bath together which resulted in much splashing and laughter. Misty read them a few stories as the girls stalled for time, but despite acting like they were firmly opposed to going to bed, the two of them both laid down in Kendall's crib around 8:45 p.m. and were immediately still and quiet. Apparently, they'd worn each other out.

Trion was worn out too, I guess. He fell asleep while we watched Tropic Thunder.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kids take things literally

As I was hanging up laundry this afternoon, Emily was nearby running around and hollering. She'd been acting particularly wild today, so at one point I gave her a stern talking-to (the sort she generally ignores) about calming down. Only this time I happed to say, "you need to shape up."

A minute later, she was in another room with Misty and Kendall. Misty heard Emily making grunting noises and turned around to find her doing what appeared to be stretching exercises.

"What are you doing?," asked Misty.

"Daddy told me to shape up," Emily replied without sarcasm, "so I'm trying to make myself a triangle."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Emily's rambunctious imagination

Emily's creativity astounds me. She and Kendall got a musical keyboard for Christmas along with toy microphones from Misty's mother. Here they are performing an impromptu (and borderline insane) concert in the kitchen, where Emily sings songs made up as she goes along, including "Unicorns of the Night," "Rock and Roll," and "Sad Robots" (named after the new Stars EP, which Emily and I both heartily recommend).

Hyper kids create their own music

I didn't say they were good songs. But they're still adorable in a grit-your-teeth sort of way. At four years old, she manages to concoct a couple rhymes in the lyrics, pairing "night" with "sight" and "town" with "sound." I know I'm biased as her dad, but I think it's pretty impressive.

For more of Emily's musical magic, check out this lullaby she composed and her cover of "She Don't Use Jelly" by the Flaming Lips.

Cookie Monster strikes

Misty just called me at work with a report on how the girls were faring in the post-Christmas frenzy. A few minutes ago she'd heard Emily hollering from her room, "Mommy, come quick! Kendall just threw up in the tent!"

Kendall had indeed thrown up, but it wasn't that bad. Following a brief investigation, Misty discovered the source of Kendall's upset tummy. A gallon-sized Ziploc bag, which yesterday had held a batch of M&M cookies my mother had made, was now empty. The girls had pilfered it from the kitchen and indulged themselves. Emily confessed to eating three of the cookies, so apparently Kendall had eaten the rest.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I didn't take too many pictures from Christmas morning. Whenever I try to, I end up frustrated trying to get the girls to look at the camera when their attentions are so obviously occupied elsewhere. I don't want to miss out on the joy of them opening presents by viewing the day through a camera lens, so I snapped a few photos at the beginning and then set the camera aside. It's more fun for us all that way.

Christmas eve pictures were plentiful, however. After a drive around a few neighborhoods to see the holiday lights and decorations, we took part in our annual family traditions of making reindeer food (which consists of Chex mix, marshmallows, baby carrots, and glitter -- the reindeer must love it, because they eat it every year), reading Rudolph and The Night Before Christmas, and leaving out cookies and milk for Santa (who got a big plate this year because we still have plenty of leftover treats from Sunday's party).

Emily was pretty good about going to bed -- she'd skipped a nap and had been nodding off in the car while we looked at lights -- but Kendall wanted to stall. She took one last chance to lay down underneath the tree and gaze up at the lights before we drug her off to bed.

The morning was plenty of fun. Emily was more excited than anyone else, of course, but Kendall showed plenty of enthusiasm for opening presents this year.

It's hard to say which gifts generated the most attention from the girls -- they were into everything. However, I am proud that Kendall loves her Brobee doll from Yo Gabba Gabba so much -- she dances around whenever he sings his "Party in My Tummy" song. That toy was the first gift I bought this year, way back in early October. Both girls also spent a lot of time today playing with the Mr. Potato Head parts we got them from Disney World. They can dress up their potatoes like Tinkerbell, Mary Poppins, Donald Duck, or even Malificent.

In the evening we headed over to Misty's mom's house where we took part in the third and final round of gift opening. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but it was indeed a merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Emily's Christmas creations

Sometimes the simplest gifts are the best. Emily worked for several days with the help of Misty's mom in creating Christmas presents for the family. They were tin cans covered in construction paper and decorated with glitter, stickers, stencils, ribbon, and other such things. The night before our family (Misty's) Christmas party, Emily set them all up in a semi-circle beneath the tree.

I wanted to wait until Christmas morning to open mine, but she insisted that I do it during the party when everyone else received theirs. Inside there was an assortment of edible goodies -- a couple packs of cheese crackers, a couple packs of Mini Oreos, a handful of 3 Musketeers Minis, a packet of cocoa mix, and a homemade bookmark with a picture of a snowman Emily had drawn. I'm not kidding when I say it's one of the nicest gifts I've ever recieved. Emily put a lot of work into her project, and I'm so proud of her.

She even took this picture of me opening my gift!

Pennies from Heaven?

I just came from the men's restroom at my office where someone had left a stack of five pennies next to each of the three sinks. It felt like some sort of Candid Camera operation revealing who's going to pocket the money.

Whatever. My kids like pennies. They'll be impressed, so thanks, mysterious change stacker.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Anniversary vacation photos

I finally finished posting the pictures from our 5-year anniversary trip to Disney World.

As I mentioned before, we made the trip without Emily and Kendall. It was wonderful to be able to go at our own pace -- taking our time when we wanted (with no one telling us they were bored) and hustling through the crowd when we wanted (with no one asking to be carried). We were also finally able to ride together on all the rides with height restrictions (since Kendall is still not tall enough, and Emily is too scared for most of them). Without the kids to slow us down in the mornings, we were able to make rope drop on three occasions. As such, we were able to ride Toy Story Mania twice one morning and on another occasion rode Expedition Everest four times in a row.

Meals were a particular joy, not having to plead with the kids to eat or to simply sit still. We took advantage of the Deluxe Dining Plan and dined at an array of the fancier restaurants. Almost everywhere we ate gave us some sort of treat for celebrating our anniversary -- from champagne to special desserts. There's a whole separate photo gallery with pictures of our food (since Misty says this is a popular theme on DISboards).

Disney World was all decked out in holiday glory. There were huge Christmas trees in every resort and each of the theme parks. We made sure to visit the Grand Floridian to see the giant gingerbread house. Over at the Boardwalk we saw their gingerbread gazebo with Donald, Daisy, and Stitch made of chocolate inside. It's all edible, but the thought of destroying the creations seems cruel. Even the Polynesian had statues of Lilo and Stitch crafted out of chocolate.

The Magic Kingdom was particularly spectacular. Main Street USA was strewn with wreaths, garland, lights, bows, presents, and even life-sized toy soldiers. Cinderella Castle was almost completely covered in lights, and we enjoyed a short lighting ceremony one night where the characters debated how to decorate it. We stuck around for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (despite not having the extra event ticket) and watched another Christmas show in front of the castle and the Christmas parade.

On our last day of the trip, we won dream pastpasses (again!), so even though we'd planned to get on the road early, we stuck around for a while to ride all the big rides in the Magic Kingdom with no waiting.

It was our third trip to Disney World this year (since we bought annual passes) and we're planning to head back again in February. The girls will be along for the fun then. As much as we enjoyed the trip by ourselves, I don't think we'll ever be able to go without them again. For one thing, I don't think they'd stand for it, but also, we just missed them too much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wild Sweet night out

After Emily's dance class last night, I changed clothes and headed right back out. My friend Yancey drove down from Huntsville to accompany me to Bottletree for the first of two back-to-back hometown concerts from Wild Sweet Orange. Here's a video I recorded from the show.

Wild Sweet Orange - 'Mad World' live at Bottletree

I've posted a few more videos from the concert in my Get On With Your Nightlife blog on

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our annual Santa visit

I had a half day off from work Friday, and we used the opportunity to take the girls to see Santa at Brookwood Mall. The benefit of going in the afternoon instead of the evening is that there was not a single person in line. With no one waiting, there wasn't a sense of urgency to speed through, so I was able to take several pictures in the hopes of hitting one we loved.

Kendall never smiled -- she just eyed Santa with a look of caution. Emily, on the other hand, was extremely cooperative with the camera.

When it came time to actually talk to Santa though, Emily got very quiet. She wasn't quite shy -- it was more like a display of reverence. She asked what kind of cookies he liked best, and Santa told her he liked all kinds. He did specifically mention chocolate chip and sugar cookies though, so it's likely we'll have to leave some of them by the fireplace on Christmas Eve.

Afterward, both girls received candy canes and coupons for a free cookie at Great American Cookie Company. Emily took one lick of her candy cane and was finished. Kendall devoured hers. The cookies, of course, were a hit for both girls.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

360-degree views of Birmingham

Birmingham finally has Google Street View! Unfortunately, the Google maping car didn't drive down my street, but here's's office. This thing is so much fun to play with.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chinese food is a new favorite

Emily and Kendall were introduced to Chinese food last night. Of course, Emily's first reaction upon hearing our dinner plans was to insist, "I don't like Chinese food." Nevertheless, we picked out a couple of what we thought would be less spicy entrées -- sweet & sour chicken and sesame chicken -- from Peking Wok and let the girls try their luck at eating with chopsticks. All went well until Kendall poked Misty in the eye with one of her sticks. After that, we all switched to standard American flatwear.

Apparently the food was a big hit, though. The girls both demanded the leftovers for lunch today. They also insisted upon eating with chopsticks again, and they followed up lunch by watching Mulan.

Emily is fascinated by the idea of throwing her food up into the air and catching it with chopsticks (something she saw in Kung Fu Panda), but luckily we've avoided any such attempts at culinary acrobatics.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sardines, Spider-Man, and toilet paper

Packed like sardines
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
I squeezed into the back seat of the car between Kendall and Emily for a short trip to Cullman for Traie's 4th birthday party this afternoon. Misty's mom came along, thus the need for my sardine impersonation.

On the way, Emily enquired about Traie's cake. When she heard that it would have Spider-Man on it, she said she thought it would also have Batman and Hulk because Traie likes all of them. I explained that such a notion was preposterous, as Spider-Man and the Hulk exist in a different universe from Batman. Something in the way my wife's eyes rolled told me that Misty thought I was the one who was preposterous.

The party was typical 4-year-old fare, but despite having once owned a comic book store, I never quite realized how much Spider-Man stuff there is out there marketed to kids. Seeing it all in one spot made me realize how Marvel pulled themselves out of bankruptcy.

After the party, Misty recruited Brittney and Leah to "hide" the Spider-Man party favor masks around Kriten's yard -- one on a birdhouse, one on the sattelite dish, one on the inflatable snowman, etc. But this was not enough delinquency for Misty and her young protégés. Next they ventured across the street to Cathy's house armed with several rolls of toilet paper and proceeded to decorate her trees.

Toilet Paper Mischief

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Messy art project

I came home today to discover this scene in the kitchen.

Finger paint gone awry

Disney World without the kids

Misty and I just returned from a trip to Disney World sans children to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. Feeling guilty about being there without the girls, we asked each of the characters we met to leave a video greeting for them.

Disney Character Greetings

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Checking out books! What a concept!

Some marketing geniuses have dreamed up an online rental program similar to Nexflix -- only instead of DVDs, customers can rent their favorite books.

How can such a business actually make money? I think I'll stick with the current book-borrowing system offered by my local public library.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Five years of marriage

5-year anniversary
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Misty and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary with a trip to Little River Canyon. Well, it wasn't really a celebration -- Misty had a Fresh Air Family event to host there. The actual anniversary trip comes next week at Disney World. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant (though brief) picnic at the waterfall before the afternoon's storytelling event. Afterward, we stopped at a few places in Fort Payne to take silly pictures.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election 2008: Taking part in history

We made voting last night a family event.

Expecting the line to be long (since there were more than 500 people lined up when I passed by on my way to work), we picked up a pizza to eat while we waited. When we got to the polling place though, there was no line at all. We enjoyed our pizza in the car before going in.

Misty went first while I waited with the girls, but when it was my turn Emily wanted to go in with me. We found a table where we could sit down together and fill out my ballot, and I showed her how it worked, coloring in the boxes next to the names of the candidates you wanted to vote for.

After a few minutes Emily asked me, "Where's Barack Obama?"

I pointed to his name on the ballot and said, "He's right here. We've already finished that section."

"No, not his name," she told me, "the man."

"He's in Illinois," I said. "That's another state."

"Then what are we doing here?!" she wanted to know.

It turns out that Emily thought we were going meet Obama and she would get to play with his kids.

After voting, we drove by Ben & Jerry's, but the line was wrapped out the door and down the sidewalk. Though we'd have waited it out to vote if we'd needed to, the idea of standing in that line for a free scoop of ice cream didn't seem worth it, so we continued on to Krispy Kreme instead.

Post-election donuts
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
There was a big line for free donuts too, but it was somewhat more manageable. Krispy Kreme has more space inside, and it's easier to hand off a donut to each customer than it is to scoop out an ice cream cone -- it moved along pretty quickly. Emily watched the donuts getting made and made quick friends with a couple kids wearing McCain / Palin buttons that matched those of their parents.

Our Krispy Kreme location didn't have the special star-shapped donuts, but at least they had red, white and blue sprinkles. We each got one (even though the girls obviously didn't vote -- I thought that was nice).

When we got home, we watched the results trickle in on CNN, then switched over to The Daily Show's live coverage. When Jon Stewart announced Obama's victory, I thought it was a joke -- a sort of "well, he's so far ahead, we'll just go ahead and call it." But switcing back to the "real" news, we learned that it was true.

I'm proud that my daughters got to be a part of the election night process, if only as observers. I doubt they'll remember the day when they're grown, but they'll always be able to say that they were there.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween x 4

The girls went trick-or-treating last night dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz. Emily was Glinda the Good Witch and Kendall was Dorothy. I even convinced Emily to ask people as they answered their doors, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"

Having also attended Fresh Air Family's Halloween-themed annual fundraiser, Trunk-or-Treat at our new church, and a Halloween party from Misty's mom's club, this was the fourth time the girls have gotten to dress up within the month. I'm glad they got so much mileage out of their costumes (though Emily wore something different each time).

A lot of the houses in our neighborhood were dark on Halloween night, and it surprised me to see several cars parked along the street where parents had driven kids in from other neighborhoods. Ours doesn't seem the most trick-or-treat-friendly subdivision. Nevertheless, the girls returned home with a massive haul of candy (much of which was confiscated overnight by the "Candy Witch").

More fun than candy or dressing up though, was before bed when Emily and Kendall went wild "styling" Mimi's hair.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unknown attention

Before the fall
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
It turns out that Misty, Kendall and I were in the newspaper on Friday and we didn't even know it. Someone at chuch today said that they'd seen us there in a feature about Fresh Air Family, and we were caught by surprise.

I don't usually pay attention to the Birmingham News' Lifestyle section on Fridays because it rarely contains locally-written content. So even though I'd had the paper on my desk at work, I didn't see Susan Stickland's "Scribblers" column.

Here's a PDF of the page.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A night out for me

Last night I went bowling with my co-workers (something I hadn't done in about a decade). I learned that Wii bowling skills do not translate to the real thing. Although I scored 211 "practicing" the night before, my two games netted scores of 66 and 105. When everything was added up, my team finished last out of the six teams we had playing. We had fun, though.

After bowling, I went to a concert at WorkPlay. I hate going by myself, but it's better than making Misty suffer through some band she's never heard of and doesn't really care to in the first place. It was an awesome show.

Crooked Fingers - 'What Never Comes' live at WorkPlay

Okkervil River - 'Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe' and 'For Real'

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Embarassing / funny, continued

Ready for church
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
It's a good thing these kids are so cute. That fact saves us from potentially embarassing situations. Like today at church, for instance...

Emily was sitting between Misty and me, coloring a picture during the service. I didn't think she was paying any attention, but when something was said about Jesus having died for our salvation, Emily gasped, looked up at us and said (thankfully, not too loudly), "Jesus is dead?!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No capacity for tact

Trouble brewing
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
We attended a Fresh Air Family event today, but ended up leaving early, in part due to Emily's behavior.

It was a "casual canyon hike" at DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne. The hike was led by Dr. Kelly Gregg from the JSU field school. Before we began, he told the group a bit about himself and what our hike would entail.

To a 4-year-old, such information is frivolous, and Emily interruped with, "Boooooring."

Despite being appaled by her embarassing outburst, I still thought it was pretty funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My name is Emily; I like to dance

Before dance class
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Emily started dance class today which offers a combination of ballet and tap (hence, the mishmash of her outfit as well).

We get to watch her on closed circuit television in the next room, and it's just as adorable as you'd expect. A bunch of 4-year-olds prance around a room trying to imitate the instructors' moves, yet few of them come close.

They're obviously having fun, though -- you can hear their collective enthusiasm through the door as they scream out, "That's what it's all about!" as they practice the classic ballet dance "The Hokey Pokey."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Undecided voter?

On my drive in to work this morning, a blue pickup truck passed by me with a pair of bumper stickers. On the left side of the bumper was an Obama '08 sticker. On the right side was one that said "Alaska Girls Kick Ass."

I doubt this irony was the driver's intention. A week ago, it wouldn't have registered, but now even the placement of the stickers on the left and right appears significant.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kendall's watermelon treat

The first bite
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Usually we just give Kendall little pieces of watermelon, but last night she was treated to a real silce. I'm very thankful, by the way, that my kids consider fruit a dessert.

I snapped several cute pictures of Kendall eating her sweet snack. If you browse through the photo gallery, you can watch her go back and forth from fruit to rind before Misty finally took it away and cut off the "inedible" part (Kendall got mad when she did).

It might seem strange that anyone would continue to try to eat the tough, bitter green part of a watermelon, but keep in mind, this is the same kid who will eat a lemon, peel and all.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Broken clock, broken dreams

Broken clock
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Remember the clock that I received back in May to commemorate 10 years of service at

Brian, one of my co-workers, broke it today.

He was moving around wires and computer equipment on the desk next to mine and the wall that separates the desks shook. My Scott Morse sketch of Misty and myself toppled over and hit the clock, knocking it off the shelf and breaking the glass.

Since I was at lunch at the time, I have no choice but to believe Brian's claim that the incident was an "accident."

Lucky for Brian (who just hit his 10-year mark last week), his clock is safely at home.

Maybe in 2018 I'll get a bronze one.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who gets stuck with all the bad luck?

Kendall's vocabulary progressed as follows:
1st word: Da Da
2nd word: Mama
3rd word: Bye bye
4th word: Donald Duck

Sadly, Kendall has all but given up on saying "Da Da." She calls me "Mama" now, as she calls most everything she points to "Mama." It doesn't matter if it's her big sister, a dog, or a pillow, everything is "Mama." It's her favorite person and her favorite word, and she reminds me at every opportunity.

Donald Duck cartoon shorts
However, she will acknowldge her fondness for Donald Duck. If we walk through the Disney Store at the mall, she'll point to stuffed animals and shirts featuring her favorite character and say "Daah Duck!"

Knowing it would be right up her alley, I picked out a Donald Duck DVD from the library, and last night we watched one of the shorts before bedtime. Kendall was beside herself. She had this big grin on her face and kept repeating "Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck!"

It's adorable, but I miss the brief time when she would only say my name over and over.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I have the cutest kids ever

If you thought her Flaming Lips cover was funny, just wait until you see Emily's improv lullaby for Kendall from last night (you'll probably need to turn your volume up to hear it).

4-year-old composes lullaby for her baby sister

You'll notice that Kendall fusses a bit when Emily stops, so following her off-the-cuff song, Emily endulged her baby sister with a recitation of the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? -- it's one that always seems to get her calmed down at naps and bedtime.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just shy of 451 degrees

Broken book
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Here's how hot it is outside.

The pages fell out of this book when I picked it up after it had spent the day sitting in my car. Apparently, it was so hot that the glue along the spine melted.

And, just my luck, it's a library book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Emily covers Flaming Lips

While visiting my brother and sister-in-law this weekend, Emily entertained us with a rendition of "She Don't Use Jelly" by The Flaming Lips. There's no mistaking that she's my kid.

4-year-old sings 'She Don't Use Jelly'

Here's The Flaming Lips' version of the song for comparison.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Balloon over I-65

Balloon over I-65
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
The drive to work this morning was made a little bit brighter when this hot air balloon flew above commuters on I-65.

I think hot air balloons are just one of those things that make everyone happy. It was a nice start to a Monday.

Wizard rock video interview

This was a really fun interview I did this weekend.

Harry Potter-themed ''Wizard Rock'' in Birmingham

Here are some performance videos from the wizard rock concert.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Get in line -- it just might make the news

I'm beginning to think that maybe this trend of taking pictures of people waiting in line for new Apple products has promise. What if we expanded that idea? Think of the possibilities!

Before our trip to Atlanta last weekend there was a line at inside the bank -- it was so long, I gave up and didn't even wait in it! Then there was another line at The Varsity where we stopped for greasy onion rings -- that place was packed; surely it was newsworthy enough to have warranted a photo. I waited in line outside both Toys R Us and Best Buy trying to get a Wii Fit. Yesterday I waited in line at the bar at Cantina to order a drink. Even this morning I waited in line at the grocery store to buy bananas and yogurt for breakfast. So many photographic opportunities missed!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Anticipation kills sleep

I wake up before 6:00 almost every morning to get ready for work. When the weekend arrives, I really savor the idea of that extra hour or so of sleep that I might get. Not today, though.

At 5:53 a.m., I woke to the sound of Emily's joyful voice. "Hi, Mommy and Daddy," she said. "I got all ready!"

Indeed she had. She was dressed in the outfit Misty had laid out for her to wear to a friend's birthday party today. Unfortunately, the party doesn't start until noon, so we're a little ahead of schedule.

There was no point in trying to stay in bed once Emily climbed in with us. Now I can look forward to six hours of her asking, "Is it time for the party yet?"

Friday, June 27, 2008

Talking to kids about 'Wall-E'

I spent about four hours working on this project today, so I hope everyone will watch it. It seems like a lot of time to devote to a five-minute video, but it was fun.

Kid critics review "Wall-E"

What I learned from the experience: See the movie yourself first, because when you interview kids, one or two of them are bound to blurt out the ending.

Still, I can't wait to take Emily to see it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Father's Day at City Stages

Here's one more video from City Stages.

Dancing to The Wailers

Emily had so much fun at the festival. She sang along to the songs she knew from The Wailers and danced like a fool during Michael Franti's performance, all the while demanding, "I want to see Flaming Lips!"

When her favorite band finally came on stage after 10 p.m., Emily wasn't disappointed. She was wide-eyed as Wayne Coyne rolled out onto the audience in a giant plastic hamster ball, confetti shot from air cannons, more than a dozen Teletubbies hopped around on stage, and huge balloons dropped on the crowd. She turned her head to me and yelled over the noise, "I love it!" That moment right there made it a perfect Father's Day.

She only made it through two songs before she started to nod off on my shoulder, but it was worth it. If you watch the two Flaming Lips videos in the post below, you'll see why.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How I spent my weekend

I'm taking a comp day today to recuperate from an 80-hour work week. I've been running myself ragged handling coverage of Birmingham's 20th annual City Stages music festival. Here are a few highlights from my weekend.

L'Angelus - "Iko Iko" live at City Stages Unplugged

Billy Bacon - live at City Stages Unplugged

Erin McCarley - "Love Save the Empty" live at City Stages Unplugged

Carolina Chocolate Drops cover "Hit 'em Up Style" at City Stages

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - "Goddamn Lonely Love" live at City Stages

Act of Congress - "In the Middle" and a cover of "Clocks" at City Stages

The Dexateens - "Makers Mound," live at City Stages

4 Guys with Guitars - "This Colorful World" live at City Stages

Ingrid Michaelson conducts "Far Away" with a lightsaber

Ingrid Michaelson covers "Creep" at City Stages

Feijoada - live at City Stages

Michael Franti & Spearhead - "Yell Fire!" live at City Stages

The Flaming Lips - "Race for the Prize" live at City Stages

The Flaming Lips close out City Stages with "Do You Realize??"

Suck it, Bonnaroo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sleep is for sissies

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went out to WorkPlay last night to watch Maria Taylor in concert. It wasn't her performance that was punishment (it was quite lovely), it's the fact that I'm heading into three straight 18-hour work days with City Stages this weekend. Staying out past 11:00 last night may not have been wise, but it was certainly an enjoyable evening.

Here's a clip from the show. Check my other blog for more videos.

Maria Taylor - ''Song Beneath the Song,'' live at WorkPlay

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Redacted prayer

Misty has declared Monday nights to be "Cajun night" at the Cuthbert household. Last night was the first installment, with dirty rice on the menu. Misty tried to offer Emily an alternative, but I guess dirty rice sounded too fun to pass up. Nevertheless, after one bite Emily's face scrunched up and she quickly grabbed for her milk.

While Misty made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Emily offered an ammended prayer for the meal for which she'd just given thanks. "I'm sorry I didn't like the dirty rice, God," she said. "It was too spicy. I'll eat butter and jelly instead."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yo Gabba Gabba Dance Party

Our family has recently discovered the Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba, and all of us are hooked. Misty and I love how zany it is, while Emily and Kendall love the non-stop dancing. Whether or not you have kids, I recommend you check it out. It's really wild.

Yo Gabba Gabba Theme

Party in My Tummy

Who wouldn't love that?!

Thanks to Yo Gabba Gabba, there's been even more dancing around our house than usual. Emily has even taken to planning her own dance party. Here's a note she had me write for her mom while Misty was trying to watch a cooking show.

"Something's wrong with you. You don't make me have a dance party. Someday, I want to have a real, really, really, really, real dance party, Mom — not pretend."

Take that, Rachel Ray.

Monday, June 02, 2008

God, I hope you weren't listening

This morning when Misty woke up and went downstairs to check on the girls, she caught Emily in the act of praying. Our daughter was sitting on her bed, hands together, saying "God, please bring a baby boy to Mommy's tummy." For parents who are already worn out from the laborious task of raising two kids, it's the sort of thing that sends a chill down your spine. When questioned as to why she wanted a baby brother, Emily replied, "I like boys. They're fun." I hate to disappoint her, but we have no intention of introducing a new sibling into the mix, boy or girl.

We didn't teach Emily about prayer -- it's something she picked up when she was in day care. Personally, I don't like the idea of day care teaching my kids about religious practices -- I think that should be the parents' choice in where (or if) they go to church. Still, Emily's "prayers" are harmless as far as I'm concerned, so I'm comfortable with letting her continue.

Besides, it provides for much amusement at dinner time when Emily delivers her version of a blessing, which lately has been something along the lines of: "God is great. God is good. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Kendall. Thank you, Emily. Amen."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The 'official' start of summer

Playing in the sprinkler
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Some people say that Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. For kids, it's whenever the last day of school falls. Others point to the first mega-blockbuster movie of the season. And some old stalwarts insist it's June 20 at the solstice.

I think it's the first day that it's hot enough for a romp in the sprinkler.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our 4-year-old chef

(or cooker baker, as she calls herself)

Misty didn't sleep well last night. I woke up for a few minutes around 4:30 a.m., and she was on the couch reading. When I left for work at 6:30, she'd finally fallen asleep. However, Emily usually wakes up around 7:00, so I didn't expect Misty would enjoy much rest.

I just got the story. Around 8:15, Misty awoke to Emily gently rubbing her cheek. "Mommy, open your eyes and wake up, because I know you're so hungry," she said. "I've got the answer to your problem."

On the coffee table next to Misty was a plate of four Pop Tarts along with two cupcake wrappers filled with crumbled up bread.

The miraculous part of this story is that Misty couldn't find any mess in the kitchen. Apparently, Emily actually cleaned up after herself.

Must-see video

I know this video won't seem funny at first, but keep watching.

Head on with heavy equipment

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back from the beach

Surveying the surf
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
This is my favorite picture from our trip to the beach this past weekend. Click on the image to see more photos from our vacation.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

10 Year Clock

10 Year Clock
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
I was given a glass clock this week to commemorate my 10 years of service with Alas, it didn't come with batteries. I set it to 4:00 so it will always be time for me to go home.

I'm glad to work for a company where the CEO found this humorous. That's probably why I've been where I am for 10 years.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Piñata for Cinco de Mayo

Never let it be said that the staff doesn't know how to have fun. Today we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a piñata.

Viva Piñata!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Catching up with friends at Haven

I spent the day at Haven Saturday for Free Comic Book Day. It was great fun, as usual. I was so involved in catching up with friends that I didn't read a single comic. Not to worry -- I bought plenty to read at home.

Everyone but me, it seemed, had seen Iron Man already. It would have been impossible to avoid hearing about it, so I didn't even bother trying. I don't really think the discussion "spoiled" the movie for me though.

Here's a video I pieced together featuring reviews of Iron Man from the perspective of comic book fans.

Comic book geeks review 'Iron Man'

Hopefully it won't be as long six months this time before I make it back up to Haven again. I miss it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Starting early

Starting early
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
I know this is horrible, but it serves Misty's mother right for leaving her cigarettes out on the porch where Kendall could get to them. I kept waiting for Kendall to actually put one in her mouth (she does it with everything else) because I thought it would make a great picture for a public service message, but she never did.

Afterward, I had a stern lecture with my daughter about the dangers of smoking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am a twit

Since all the cool kids are doing it, I've joined the ranks of those using Twitter. Feel free to sign up to follow me over there, but it may be a while before I make much use of the application. Presently, I don't see a need for it, but I figured I'd better jump on the bandwagon now before someone else snatches up "MCuthbert" as a username. I'd hate to finally see the light six months from now and end up with something ridiculous like "burymagnets."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Goodbye, Babec

Goodbye, Babec
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Babec, one of the gorillas at the Birmingham Zoo, died yesterday. Emily made this card for him, which we taped up inside the gorilla habitat at the zoo.

That's Babec on the right. Ironically, Emily drew a heart on him. Babec was famous for his prolonged heart troubles which led to the insertion of a pacemaker in his chest.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Please stop the music

While I was testing a new Flip Video camera before heading out to the McWane Science Center for the debut of the Alabama Dinosaurs exhibit, Emily delivered an impromptu rendition of Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" -- her version, anyway.

Please Stop the Music

Watch out, American Idol.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chickens and iguanas

Misty and the girls took me out to dinner for my birthday last night. On the way there, I learned how the choice of restaurants came about. Apparently, Emily told Misty, "I think Daddy wants to go to Chick-a-Way [Chick-fil-A] or Iguana Grill." I'm glad Misty steered her in the direction of the later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best birthday gift ever

Emily did the sweetest thing when I got home from work today. She told me, "Daddy, I got you something for your birthday, but I can't wrap it." She then proceeded to give me a hug and a kiss. It was just what I wanted.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two things that should never be purchased together

We just returned from vacation at Walt Disney World. I'll write up a detailed account of our experience soon, but first I wanted to share a short story about something that happened on the way there.

Before we drove to Orlando, we spent the night at my parents' house in Atlanta. While there, I discovered that I'd forgotten to pack any underwear for the trip. No big deal -- I figured I'd pick up some along the way. In the morning we stopped for breakfast at a Burger King just south of Gainsville. There was a Target across the street, so I went in to buy a pack of briefs. Misty's stomach was feeling upset, so I also picked up some Imodium for her. It wasn't until I got to the register that I realized how these two items must have looked together. As I walked out the door, I imagined the cashier whispering to another employee, "That poor boy done crapped his pants."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow angels

We just added a new community video feature to, so looking to seed it with a few videos, I uploaded this one of Emily playing in the snow.

Snow in Birmingham