Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Daddy-daughter night out

Emily and Meiko, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

I took Emily out last night to see a concert from one of her favorite singers, Meiko. Actually, it was a Jewel concert where Meiko was the opening act, but Emily didn't care -- she was only interested in seeing Meiko anyway, and the short six-song set we got to hear was perfect for a 5-year-old's attention span.

We hung out in the lobby for a few minutes after the performance waiting for Meiko to do a meet-and-greet with fans. Emily ended up being first in line and got her picture made with the artist. We also couldn't resist buying a couple of T-shirts for her and Kendall -- they were pink with a dinosaur on them, and they actually had kids' sizes!

We told Meiko that Emily had a younger sister who couldn't come to the concert because she was only 2, but that earlier that afternoon, when I'd played a video from her City Stages appearance, Kendall had recognized the song within two notes and came running over saying excitedly, "That... 'Under My Bed!'" Of course, the singer-songwriter thought that was adorable (who wouldn't?), and asked us to take a picture of the girls wearing their pink dinosaur shirts and send it to her. Apparently, she's just had them printed and hasn't had the opportunity to see any kids wearing them yet.

It was a short night out, but Emily and I enjoyed it. I'd have been happy to stay for Jewel, but I let Emily call the shots, and she wanted to go home. Oh, well... I've seen Jewel before at Lilith Fair. This time I'll have to settle for the concert review.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jack-o-lanterns carved with sincerity

Jack-o-lanterns, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

We carved jack-o-lanterns last night. Kendall's is the one one left; Emily's is on the right. Misty did most of the carving and design, though. The girls and I just scooped the seeds and other goop out of the pumpkins.

Last year we carved our pumpkins too early, and by the time Halloween arrived, the faces had sunken in. Surely we won't suffer the same fate this year, having waiting until only two days before Halloween.

After carving, we sat in front of the TV for another time-honored Halloween tradition -- watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lunch time with zombies; brains served cold

When zombies attack, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

During my lunch break today, I headed over to UAB's campus to witness their annual Zombie Walk. It was much more exciting than sitting at my desk to eat.

Here's a slideshow of my photos from the event and also a short video I put together chronicling the zombie attack.

Zombies Attack at UAB

Luckily I arrived back at work with my brain still intact and uninfected by the zombie virus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Homewood Trunk-or-Treat

With Misty still potentially contagious, I took Emily and Kendall to Trunk-or-Treat at church last night. It broke Misty's heart to miss the event, but we were sure other parents wouldn't want us to risk having her around their kids. She reminded me several times that I was to let the other folks who work in the church office know that she has walking pneumonia.

The girls and I had a fun time. Emily went as Snow White, and Kendall went as Cinderella. The two of them were remarkably well-behaved. They never ran off, and didn't get into their candy without checking with me first. We hung out with the members of our Core group for much of the evening. Emily paired up with Tatum (who was also dressed as Snow White), while Kendall was glued to Ashlyn (who was dressed as Belle). It was cute to see all the princesses walking around holding hands.

I tried to take plenty of pictures for Misty. As we were browsing through them on the Wii later on, Emily alerted us to trouble in the kitchen. Kendall had broken her streak of staying out of the candy, and now had four things open at once and was going to town.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Earning a night out

I had a busy day yesterday. Misty had been feeling sick, so she went to the doctor in the morning. While she was gone, I made breakfast for the girls, cleaned the bathroom sinks, scrubbed the toilet, vacuumed, swept the kitchen floor, and washed two loads of laundry. Then Misty returned from the doctor to report that she has walking pneumonia. I wasn't surprised, since she's had a come-and-go wheezing cough at night for over a month now. She'd been to the doctor about it before, but it never quite got cleared up, and now it was accompanied by a sore throat and fever.

Misty did her best to tune the girls out and get some rest. Sometimes, though, it's like they can sense that you really need quiet, and they respond with the opposite. They came out in the yard with me and ran around playing and screaming while I mowed the lawn.

After a full day's work around the house, it made it easier for me to get away with going out at night to Bottletree to see A Fine Frenzy. I'd bugged Misty for weeks about going with me (she's usually not a fan of live concerts), and I think she would have really liked the music if she hadn't gotten sick. I enjoyed the show, but it's just not the same standing there by yourself.

A Fine Frenzy - 'The Minnow and the Trout,' live at Bottletree

Here are a few more videos from the concert.

After the show, I took a moment to talk to Josh Joplin, who was one of the opening acts with the band Among the Oak & Ash. I'd wanted to tell him that his song, "Camera One," was one I listened to a lot when I was going through a rough time about seven years ago, and it had made me feel better. He thanked me for sharing.

I think it's a wonderful thing about music that even if a song doesn't mean that much to the artist, it can mean a great deal to someone else (which is one of the themes of a Nick Horbny novel I just finished called Juliet, Naked). In this case, the song was rather important to Josh, as he told me, it was a turning point in his career that helped enable him to be doing what he's doing today.

Here are a couple videos from his set.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wild Things, you make my heart sing

Princesses of all wild things, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

Since Emily didn't feel well when Misty and I attended the "Wild Rumpus Party" last weekend, we returned to McWane Science Center last night for a "Wild Things Camp-In." Basically, you eat dinner at the cafeteria, see the movie on IMAX, play in the museum after hours, and spend the night there.

I didn't care much for the movie, and neither did the girls (Kendall said it was too scary, and Emily just kept asking, "Can we go play now?" and fell asleep during the last 20 minutes). We did have fun hanging around McWane late at night, though. The girls decorated crowns and got to pet a chinchilla (they skipped touching the snake and hissing cockroach). There weren't too many people there, so it was like having the place to yourself. With no lines, I finally got a chance to ride the High Cycle (it wasn't bad, but I wasn't about to look down).

We didn't make it to the overnight part, though -- as it got later, the girls were getting pretty cranky, and I wasn't quite ready to stay up until the designated lights-out time of 11:30, either. Luckily, all the girls really cared about was playing in the museum, so they didn't object to going home early.

Here are a few more photos from the Wild Things Camp-In.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No willpower

Super-size m&m's XXL
Originally uploaded by bettybl
I've aways wanted a candy jar on my desk to fill with M&M's, but I can see now it would be a bad idea.

Initially, my reasoning for avoiding it was that, years ago, a friend of mine had such a jar on her desk at work. I don't remember what she kept in it, but it was always depleted rapidly by co-workers. I didn't want to buy a bunch of candy just to have everyone else eat it.

As it turns out, my coworkers aren't the ones I should be worried about.

Yesterday while I was at CVS getting Excedrin, I also picked up a big 12.6 oz. bag of Peanut M&M's for myself. Supposedly it has eight servings inside, but I'm not sure it's going to last me half that. So, not only would my unchecked consumption make my candy jar initiative costly, but since each serving of M&M's (which I'm effectively doubling) has 220 calories and 17% of one's daily fat intake, it could also proove debilitating.

P.S. I wish they didn't make blue M&M's.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Date night with Indian food and theatrics

Misty and I had a nice date last night. We ate an early dinner at Taj India where they were celebrating the Festival of Lights for Diwali, then we went to the BJCC Concert Hall to see the musical version of The Color Purple.

Our food was wonderful. I liked it better than Silver Coin, but Misty disagreed (she merely thought it was wonderful). My favorites included the eggplant, naan bread, chicken flavored with apricots, and of course, the desserts. By the time we were finishing, the restaurant was getting so packed that people were hovering over our table. I guess it's a popular destination during Diwali.

Our experience at the theatre was memorable too, if not for the production (which was very good), than at least for the uncivilized behavior of people around us. I could not believe how poorly some folks acted during the show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

iDon't, but Droid Does

I like this commercial.

Since I own a phone powered by Google's Android operating system, I'm glad to see it getting a marketing push. However, the ad did lead me to question my own phone, T-Mobile's MyTouch 3G. Mine doesn't have a "real keyboard" (though I like this -- the T-Mobile G1 slide-out keyboard seemed clunky and frustrating to me); mine doesn't take 5-megapixel pictures (though 3.2 megapixels is still better than iPhone, and it's plenty for me); mine doesn't have a flash... The MyTouch is only a few months old... T-Mobile isn't planning to release an updated phone already, are they? That would be something Apple would do.

But close scrutiny of the ad reveals the fine print, "DRIOD is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies. Used under license. Copyright 2009 Verizon." Whew! So it's Verizon's new phone. There are two good things about that: One is that I won't be annoyed with an on-the-heels release from T-Mobile. But more importantly, with Verizon also utilizing the Android OS, it brings stronger competition for the iPhone. I'm not anti-iPhone -- they're very cool devices -- but the more attention Android gets, the more apps (and better apps) we'll see available for the MyTouch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our visit to the pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patch, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

We drove the girls up to Hayden, Alabama yestday to visit The Great Pumpkin Patch. It was cold and windy outside, but we still managed to have a good time.

We rode the hay ride out to the field to pick out our pumpkins. The girls enjoyed traipsing through the patch and examining each speimen to see if it met with their strict standards. Their standards weren't very high, of course -- Emily wanted to find a big one, and Kendall wanted to find a little one -- it was Misty and I who had to veto a number of selections that had holes or were rotten.

Once the girls settled on their pumpkins, we rode back with and let Emily play on the inflatables for a while. Kendall claimed she wanted to play, but retreated with fear almost immediately. Instead, Kendall opted for a pony ride. She almost backed out of that too, but once she realized Misty could walk alongside her, all was OK. She was so proud to be sitting on that pony, riding around in a circle.

Here are more pictures from our pumpkin patch adventure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Let the wild rumpus start!

Misty and I attended last night's "Wild Rumpus Party" at the McWane Science Center celebrating the debut of "Where the Wild Things Are" on IMAX. Unfortunately, on our way to the event, Emily started feeling sick and said she thought she was going to throw up. We turned around and brought her to Misty's mom's house where Kendall was already staying (she said she didn't want to see the movie because "Max is mean").

We had a good time at the party, but not nearly as much fun as we'd have had if the girls had been with us. The decorations the museum had put together to coincide with the movie were really cool, and we saw a surprising number of kids dressed up as characters from the "Wild Things" story. Misty and I worked on a scavenger hunt for snippets of quotes from the book -- some of which I already knew from having read it so many times to the girls.

However, the real reason I was there was to record video interviews kids as they finshed watching the movie. It was so noisy in there (especally because there was a howling contest where you could measure your decibel level) that I thought the audio portion would be useless, but it turned out just fine. Here's what I put together.

Kid critics review 'Where the Wild Things Are'

Misty and I didn't stay for the movie ourselves. We didn't feel right about seeing it without Emily. The upside of her sudden illness, though, is that now we're planning to attend next weekend's "Wild Things Camp-In" at McWane -- and I think we can convince Kendall to go too if she hears that she can stay all night at the museum. That should be a really fun time.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Misty's new job

Misty received her first paycheck today from her new job. It arrived on time, and it didn't bounce! For most people, those sorts of things are taken for granted, but in her situation such stability is a relief.

She's now working as a ministry assistant at our church -- a job she was offered mere minutes after turning over her final time sheet along with files and other equipment to her former employer. This new job is such a blessing for our family, and especially for Misty. Every day since she started Misty has come home and told me how much she loves working there.

All of a sudden, she's in a job that offers her health insurance, paid sick days, a retirement plan, paid vacation time, steady hours, and regular pay. She's working with people she already loves and respects (which, of course, is why we go to church there). And she's not taking any of that for granted.

Plus, she has her own office -- which Misty has also reminded me about nearly every day.