Monday, April 27, 2009

Camping in the Conecuh

Smelling a flower
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Misty, Emily and I went camping in the Conecuh National Forest over the weekend with Fresh Air Family.

It was the second year in a row that we've made this trip for Misty's work, and this year turned out better than last. For one thing, everyone was meeting us at the campsite, so there was no need for us to lead a caravan this time -- something that just starts a trip off with too much stress. There were also fewer people this year than last, which was disappointing, but it made the group much more manageable for Misty.

Emily had a ball because two of the other families camping with us had girls her age. In fact, there was only one little boy in the whole group -- even the bigger "kids" were girls. Emily made instant friends with everybody, and spent the weekend exploring, playing tag, climbing trees, picking flowers and pine cones, playing in the sand, and eating hot dogs and smores. There was educational stuff in there too, but our rambunctious daughter didn't pay much attention. Maybe something soaked in though.

Here are more pictures from our camping trip.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A night out with Wilco and some ghosts

My friend Greg joined me to see Wilco last night at Sloss Furnaces. I'd been to Sloss for the haunted house and other events, but this was the first time I'd seen a concert at there, and I thought it was pretty cool. The train runs right next to Sloss, and one passed by blowing its horn during the show. Neither the band nor the crowd seemed to mind -- in fact, it added character to the venue, as did the legendary haunting of Sloss Furnaces mentioned several times by the band.

I was really tired during the show (which made me feel old), and I kept thinking to myself, "Just one more song..." I ended up staying for the whole thing though, and I'm glad I did. Wilco put on a great performance. Even though I've been listening to them since the mid-'90s, it was the first time I'd seen them live.

You can read a full synopsis of Wilco's concert in my Get On With Your Nightlife blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kendall's first 'boyfriend'

Misty and Emily have spent the past two nights at the Ronald McDonald house visiting Kristen and Traie (who had surgery for cerebral palsy), so Kendall and I have been hanging out at home by ourselves. We've spent a lot of time playing together, and it's nice to see her in the spotlight on her own for a change, without Emily vying for attention.

Kendall loves to play outside -- especially in the swing. She's also fond of dancing, playing ball, and talking about Ron, Hermione, and Harry Potter constantly. In fact, she's convinced that Ron is her boyfriend. This fixation actually stems from Emily, who has developed her own infatuation with Harry Potter. Since Kendall pretty much copies everything her big sister does, once Emily began professing her love for Harry, Kendall latched onto Ron. I think it's adorable.

Here's a video I put together of Kendall and me playing in the back yard and then taking a trip to the library. You'll hear her favorite witch and wizard friends mentioned numerous times.

Kendall plays outside

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fancy date night in Huntsville

Misty and I made a trip to Huntsville last night to see Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco at the Von Braun Center. As usual with Cirque du Soleil, the production has us mesmerized, but we were very surprised at how few people were in the arena. It looked like the place was only half filled.

Before the show, we stopped by Bridge Street Town Centre to walk around a bit and have dinner. It's kind of like Birmingham's The Summitt, only the sidewalks run down the center with shops on either side -- truly an outdoor mall. There's also water surrounding the area with paddle boats and gondolas -- it sounds weird, but it's really spiffy. We talked about coming back sometime with the girls -- if the boats didn't impress them, I'm sure the carousel would. The massive Monaco Pictures theater is something I'd like to explore further if I have a few hours for a movie.

We ate dinner at Cantina Lardeo, recommended by a couple co-workers who live in the Huntsville area. It was really upscale compared to the usual Mexican fare, and we loved our food. It was easily the best Mexican food I'd ever eaten. I probably shouldn't have gone for an appetizer -- even though we shared it, the salad was enough for a meal. Our dessert -- a Mexican brownie, described as a "brownie with pecans on a sizzling skillet with Mexican Brandy Butter and vanilla or cinnamon ice cream" -- was devine. It was worth packing it into our already-full bellies. I wish we'd thought to snap a picture of it while the brandy was sizzling.

As for Saltimbanco, you can read more about it in my review on my Get On With Your Nightlife blog on I don't think we'll ever tire of seeing new productions from Cirque du Soleil, and I'm anxious for another one to make its way to Alabama.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The elusive number 34

Our new "Sweet Home Alabama" license plates arrived today, and Emily helped me put them on the cars. By "helped," I mean she brought her plastic toolbox out to the garage with me and tried to use a toy Phillips-head screwdriver to attach a screw that required a socket wrench.

Misty and I received nearly identical sequences on our plates -- hers ending in 33 and mine ending in 35 -- which leaves us to wonder: Who is the interloper who got 34?

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'll put a spell on you

Last night as I was cutting the grass, Emily said to me, "Daddy, your hair has a lot of white in it."

Ah yes, that's just what a father wants to hear. She couldn't even give me "grey;" she had to go with "white."

As it turns out, the subject also came up earlier in the day while I was at work. Misty relayed to me the details of the conversation.

Apparently Emily was concered about my "white" hair and asked Misty how old I was. Misty told her that I'm 34. Then Emily wanted to know how old Misty was, and she said she was the same age. "But your hair doesn't have any white in it," Emily told her. "I think I know what it must be... somebody put a spell on Daddy."

As you can see from the photo, Emily is very concerned about magic spells.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

My milk mustache

Milk mustache
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
Yes, I am "Milk's New Face of Wellness."

I visited the Birmingham Zoo on my lunch break today and had my picture made with the "Got Milk?" people outside. Unfortunately, you can barely see the milk mustache left by the milkshake I drank.

Misty and the girls met me at the zoo, but Emily and Kendall both refused to get milk mustache pictures made. They did each pick out a free pint of milk which they enjoyed sipping as we walked around looking at the animals.

For the most part, the zoo was a bust today. The "rhino encounter," advertised outside the park with a big banner, was closed off. The entrance to the primate house was closed because the outdoor cages for the gibbons and spider monkeys were being painted. You could get in to see the primates, but you had to use the exit door and then backtrack when you were finished. It was hot and crowded in there -- I was wishing I'd had shorts on, but poor Misty was in both jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt.

On the positive side, the girls finally got to see the kangaroo exhibit. With as many kangaroos as they have, there's a pretty good chance that some of them will be active. We couldn't find the wallaby or wombat, though. Kendall liked the Kangaroos and was also a fan of the sea lions. And I must say that the new exhibit of squirrel monkeys is one of the best things at the zoo. Those guys were crazy-active (the sign said they only rest for 10% of the day).

For some reason, all Emily seemed interested in seeing was the snakes. Maybe it's because she's been watching Harry Potter lately, and she's hoping she can make the glass disappear.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Packing a lot into two days (and two suitcases)

We headed over to my parents' house in Atlanta for a couple days this week while my aunt was in town visiting from New Hampshire. Kendall was especially taken with Aunt Suzy and repeated her name constantly. This led to argument between the girls because Kendall, following Misty's, was saying "ant" Suzy, while Emily, following my lead, was saying "aunt" (rhymes with font) Suzy.

With a packed house, the girls were excited about the chance to sleep on the floor in their sleeping bags (though Kendall ended up in bed between Misty and me the first night). During our brief stay, Emily learned to ride a bike with training wheels and tried desperately to become friends with Cooper (my parents' Welsh Terrier who isn't overly fond of anyone). We also played at Ronald Reagan Park and enjoyed a dinner at the Old Spagetti Factory (God bless mizithra cheese). Emily thought the restaurant was very fancy and was amazingly well behaved. I'd never seen her eat so well, either dining out or at home.

On the way back to Birmingham, we made our usual stops at Book Nook and Trader Joe's. We also passed by the Hindu Mandir Temple in Lilburn. It's gorgeous. Hopefully we can tour it sometime.

Perhaps the most exciting part of our trip though was, on the way to Atlanta, while using the GPS to follow a different route than normal for fun, we passed by the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts. I had no idea such a place existed, but Misty and I got a big kick out of it.