First Days

The holidays have ended.

Jen is back to work, as are most of you.

And I’m… I’m doing things. Things like getting our carpets cleaned, and the woodwork repaired, and turning down an offer for a dream job in Seattle…

Yeah. It’s true.

But you know the trouble with “dream jobs?” They’re often a lot of other people’s dream jobs as well…
And as such, the pay isn’t exactly competitive. At least, not for a guy in his 40’s with a wife and child.
And Seattle is a very expensive city. I won’t go into specifics but, with adjustments for cost of living, I was looking at making about $500 a month over minimum wage.

As such, I will not be writing and editing Pathfinder manuals and novels. (Man, they’ve really got to do something about that website…)

This does make me a little sad. But there’s nothing I can do…  So onward.

In brighter news, there’s been a lot of hanging out with Daphne this past week. And I took her to her first day of ECI school yesterday.

Ready for her “first day of school” pictures?

I know I’m a little biased, but seriously… Is that not the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?

No?

Well what about this?

That’s right…I got a video of it.

I’ll will undoubtedly talk at length about what I thought of their curriculum, but for now, let’s leave it there.

Talk to you soon.

j.s.

2018

Well, we made it. That was a helluva thing.

I began this post by going into a brief overview of each challenge that the past year brought, but I’ve since deleted the whole thing and started over because, honestly, it was just depressing.

Suffice to say, 2017 can go suck eggs.

But!

Just 4 days in, and 2018 is already starting on a much higher note. I’ve gotten a few nibbles, and one giant chomp, during my angling for a new job. And I began the very first steps of offloading our house today. (Regardless of whether we stay in Houston or not, we’re definitely leaving Fulshear.)

So, there is hope.

A Christmas gift from my wife and daughter. It sits on my nightstand as a reminder each morning.

Speaking of which, I briefly mentioned a doctor visit in my last post, didn’t I?

As my insurance winds down after the layoff, I thought it wise to get the hood popped, so to speak, and ensure that all my tubes, pumps and wires were still in some semblance of working order. So I went to my doctor for a check-up/blood work.

And all appears to be well, with the glaring exception of familial hypercholesterolemia.

Yes, it turns out I have a cholesterol of 360 , which I assume means that my blood samples had a layer of whipped cream on top.

Honestly, I’ve known about my high cholesterol for a while now. And because it’s inherited, there’s little I can do about it except take pills to keep it in check.

Thing is, I hate taking pills.
I don’t even like taking aspirin.
And I’ve never had to be prescribed a single medication (well, one that I was to take in perpetuity) until now.

So I’m having a harder time with it than most might feel is within the bounds of rationality normal.

The face of irrational chemical aversion…under a silly hat.

Anyway, I’m taking medication now. Bleh. Moving on.

Daphne is still enjoying her big girl bed, which I feel like I should shorten to just BGB, given how often we’ve been talking about it lately.

In fact, when she woke up this morning she hopped out of bed, picked up her Nursery Rhymes book, then climbed right back under her covers to read for a while.

She has not, however, completely grasped the concept of napping in the BGB. She will do so, but it is an undertaking that requires no small amount of kicking and flailing first.

Or maybe there’s always been that amount of flailing, and it wasn’t an issue because we were in a queen-sized bed?

Okay, see you soon.

j.s.

Christmas Limbo

We’re in that strange space between Christmas and New Year’s. The time when people are driving to the office, but just pseudo-working for a few hours before heading back home. Where the newness of kids’ toys begins to wane, and they get antsy to fit in a few more things before school starts up again. And where none of us have any idea what day it is.

Or maybe that’s just me. It’s been a weird Christmas.

Not a bad one, mind you. In fact, it’s been very nice. But I’m in my own head quite a bit right now, and that’s a strange place to be on a good day…nevermind with the rest of this nonsense going on.

But let’s go back a bit.

On Christmas Eve Eve, we started the festivities by getting Daphne dressed in some suitably adorable holiday attire.




And then did an early Xmas dinner at Jen’s parents’ place, where we opened a few of Daph’s presents.

Then on Christmas Eve I spent the morning baking more gingerbread cookies. Which were summarily devoured when Jen’s family came by again that afternoon. So I made more gingerbread cookies. (And no. Sadly they weren’t GingerSumos.)

That sounds like I’m complaining, doesn’t it?
I’m not.
I don’t mind baking at all, and I’m happy that everyone seemed to dig the cookies. It was a light Christmas for us, present-wise, so it felt good to be able to do something that people enjoyed.

Later that evening, after Daph went to bed, I could hear Santa’s Workshop gearing up. And I have it on good authority that a few elves were up until 2am building her presents. (One elf in particular was a huge help, as he’d brought his strange elven tools down from his workshop.)

But, the gifts did arrive and Santa was quite good to our little girl once again this year.

Then, once presents were finished at our house, we headed over to Gramps and Nana’s place to do round 3 of gifts. And while we were there, those same elves removed Daphne’s pld crib and replaced it with a brand new “big girl bed.”

I’m happy to say that she’s taken to sleeping in it like a champ. Didn’t bother her in the slightest that her crib was gone, and she went right to sleep the very first night, and has been fine ever since. **knock on wood**

She did, however, fall out of the bed last night…which prompted a very quick bout of crying before she clambered back in on her own and went right back to sleep. All without her mom or I having to go up and reassure her. Jackpot!

In all, Daph proved once again what a fortunate and well-loved little girl she is, and Jen and I are incredibly thankful to everyone for their generosity.

I’ve some more news on the job front and a bit more about a doctor visit, but I’ll leave all that for another post.

For now, merry Christmas everyone. I hope yours was as warm and wonderful as ours.

j.s.

One Door Closes, Another One Opens Presents

And…it’s done.

Our office shut down permanently last night. I’m talking cubicle breakdown, lock replacement, moving companies, and saw the infrastructure in half kinds of permanent.

9 years worth of data flowed through the twisted pairing in those wires…

Hard to say if I’ll ever have my own office again.

 

The final shutdown…

And now… Now it feels like I have a phantom limb where constant emails, worries about viruses/hackers, client meetings, and my nightly, pre-bed network monitoring ritual should be.

Everything went silent. And I suddenly feel very cut off.

I had no idea how pervasive that stress had become in my life until it disappeared, and left me here staring at an alertless cell phone, wondering what in the hell I’m supposed to be doing with my working hours if I’m not taking care of an office infrastructure.

Between you and me, Internet…I’m still not sure.

So today I wandered around the house and tried to make myself useful. Cooked breakfast. Did some dishes. Some laundry. Got my tire fixed. (Oh yeah…I had a flat tire on Monday. Bleh.) That kind of thing.

And now I’m writing for you guys in a desperate reach for some semblance of normalcy. But you know, even this feels strange…writing on my laptop in bed at night instead of on my lunch break. Hmm.

This being said, I cannot say that I will mourn working for the people that purchased our company last year. They are a miserable group, the lot of them, and the company is rotten from the head down. I am happy that my daily efforts are no longer making them a dime.
In fact, I’ve had at least 5 different people express jealousy over the fact that I was getting out of there, each of whom voiced some variant of, “You know, I think I’d rather be in your shoes than be stuck here…”
A couple of them were executives in the company.

My shoes.
The ones that are walking out of here jobless 5 days before Christmas.
Sure.

Speaking of Christmas, our tree is up, the stockings are hung on the mantel, and while we’re still wearing shorts and t-shirts, we’re hopeful that Santa might bring a Christmas cool front with him.

I even got one of my Christmas gifts early this year.


Which in turn prompted the requisite bout of baking.I found what looked like a decent gingerbread cookie recipe online, and set about making some ninjabread men of my very own.

Alas, it would seem my oven is less Wushu and more Wal-Mart, as the ninjas went into the 350° dojo looking like svelte, ass-kicking AOL icons…

Martial Stewart

And they came out 12 minutes later having gorged themselves into flabby, cinnamon-scented bloblets.

The sorting kasa must have switched their house from Ninjitsu to Sumo.

Delicious frosting nipples.

And who am I to argue with a sorting hat?

Besides, a mawashi (that sumo diaper thing) is way easier to draw using frosting than those ninja outfits. Now I just need to get working on some gumdrop mobility scooters…

Merry Christmas everyone.

j.s.

Monkey Grooming

Hey there.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We had a couple inches of snow fall in Houston last week, and I’m incredibly proud of this city for not freaking out about it and responding by closing all the things. Everyone just seemed to be happy to play in it for a while, which is absolutely the correct response to the first snow of the season, no matter your age.

And our little family responded by going for a walk in the morning…

and then doing our Friday evening ritual at Braman Brewery with some friends.

I have since trimmed that burly, grey beard. And, looking at it now…I kinda miss it.

A perfect snow day.

This week has been relatively uneventful. Well, in a “there are just 5 days before they throw me out of the office where I’ve been working for 15 years” kind of way. I’m still putting my resume out there and looking for a new job…we’ll see.

I did, however, take a call while we were at the brewery last Friday. I saw an 801 area code pop up on my phone and wondered “who the hell is calling me from Salt Lake City?”
So I answered…
And it was a hospital recruiter doing a follow-up to a resume I’d submitted with them, and “would you have time to answer a few quick questions?”

There was no way I could escape at that point so, despite being a couple beers in and having skipped lunch, I did an impromptu interview on the spot…and utterly bombed it.
At one point I even said as much to the guy, after I’d made a wild guess as to the difference between QA and UAT testing. (Turns out, I did answer correctly…I just wasn’t confident in my answer.)

Also what kind of company asks a question like, “how is data created, transmitted and curated?” in an interview? Could you be any more vague?

Anyway.
Probably not meant to be.
Moving on.

Daph has had a good week so far, and she and grandma spent yesterday playing at Rock the Spectrum.

Seriously…her legs are getting long!

Also, she’s recently begun the endearing habit of trying to wipe off my stubble (at least I think that’s what she’s doing?), which has the unintended effect of looking like she’s grooming me like a little monkey.

Adorable.

Okay, see you soon.

j.s.

Stranded

Heya.

Things are going along. There’s been cause for hope here and there recently, and signs of changes on the horizon, but nothing worth reporting on just yet.

Instead, let’s go back a bit, to a week or so ago when Jen had to take off for the evening due to a familial issue. So began zee BumbleNacht!

Meaning I ordered a pizza for me, some spaghetti w/ meatballs for Daph, and we stayed home and Netflixed some Zootopia.

I love her “oh hi, why don’t you join us?” look.

Last Saturday was Dickens on the Strand, which is like an annual climatological crapshoot. Will the first weekend in December be cool enough for it to actually feel like a Dickensian Christmas wonderland?
Or will it be 80°, and the streets lined with people sweating Buckets in their woolen Victorian costumes? (Sorry. Dickens pun.)

Unfortunately, it was the latter this year…

And so we didn’t stay too long. Instead, we headed back home to trim our Christmas tree and humiliate Jib for a bit.

Poor puppy…

Although I’m happy to report that this morning the first real tramontane blew in while we were all on our walk, and the temperature has since dropped to an acceptable Decemberish level. (For Texas, anyway.)

Winter is coming…sorta.

Now if I can just keep myself from becoming sick, which seems to always accompany these swift changes in temperature, I might actually be able to enjoy this weather a bit.

Okay, I’m heading outside.

j.s.

Tha’ Givin’

Hey there!

So there was definitely a Thanksgiving that just went by. I should also apologize for not getting around to a post last week, but we were doing the family holiday thing.

We’ve been bouncing around a few different places lately, not the least of which has been the Braman Brewery just down the road from our house. And I gotta be honest, we’d avoided this place since their opening in April…well, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that they totally ignored my repeated calls when I wanted to have my brother-in-law’s bachelor party there.

And the second is that it looks like a giant aluminum shed…

so we figured it would be like a big fermenty sauna in there during the summer months.

Imagine our surprise when we strolled into that little door on the left and saw this…

It’s beautiful inside. And air-conditioned to boot!

They’re also pretty kid-friendly, pending you’re there before 6pm, and Daph had an awesome time running around…

And the beer was…pretty good. Actually, the Oktoberfest was great. The other one I tried (Secession) was a bit bland.

Anyway, it’s a great place. So great, in fact, that we’ve already been back once more on Black Friday.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Turkey Day!

It was awesome to have a lot of the family together for a little while. And it seemed like everyone had a good time. The bird itself wasn’t too bad either…

Behold, Torquemada el Pavo!

And Daphne looked adorable in her little pioneer girl Thanksgiving attire…

Although that alphabet game she’s playing with there eventually became, for reasons unknown, a little upsetting…

Fortunately, for I am both a clever and silly daddy (not necessarily in that order), The Great Thanksgiving Alphabet Crisis of 2017 was quickly averted.

A good day. And we’ve already begun to dip into the Christmas spirits…  But, that’s a post for another time.

j.s.

There’s one last thing I’d like to mention. The holidays can be a difficult and lonely time for any of us. But there is always an answer.
Always an out.
Always hope.
And if you ever feel like those three things aren’t there, there is help. And there is no shame in asking for it.
800.273.TALK is the suicide help lifeline.
Or hey, just reach out to me… We’ll find them together.

TheraPLEASE!

Daphne has had speech/development therapy every day this week because they’re trying to fit in the required sessions before Thanksgiving break.

And this morning, when her teacher arrived, she was over it.

Fortunately my BumbleSense alerted me that this was about to happen, so, just before the teacher arrived, we did some light mood reading. We cracked open one of her long-time favorites, “I Love My Bunny.”

“I love this story, Daddy!”

This is her sign for “more!

And then, her teacher arrived…

“Hey, who’s that?”

“Oh. It’s you. Again.”

Obviously she had to warm up to getting some work done, but after a quick crying jag she was identifying animals, pointing at Old Mac Donald’s eyes/hat/feet, and pushing the lot of them around in a tractor like a champ. So by the time I had to leave for work, it had been a pretty good session.

It didn’t stop us from sneaking in a little cuddle time here and there, though…

In other news, we’ve been trying to work our way through Stranger Things 2 on Netflix and it’s been…  “Disappointment” is too strong a word.
It’s been fine.

Just fine.

It feels a bit like watching weak episodes of Mad Men, where they hid the lack of plot substance behind a bunch of time period kitsch.

That said, It didn’t stop me from having several beers and playing around with the Stranger Things Facebook filters at No Label last Friday…

Old Things

Okay, see you next week.

j.s.

Cleaning Up

Hi there.

Things have been steady, in situationally adjusted terms, over this past week. Obviously there’s a very loud ticking clock in the background of my life right now, as I have just 5  weeks left of a job that I’ve held for the past 14 years.

I’ve been pushing out resumes everywhere, and have gotten several “no, thank you“s in response, and a lot of radio silence from the others.

I’m not panicking yet…
Yet.

I did, however, receive a minor admonishment from my mother that I needed to clean myself up the other day. It seems that in my stress, I’d forgotten to groom/manscape myself, and I was starting to look like I’d been trapped in a board game for 20 years.

What. Year. Is. It?

And so last night, after work, I drove over to the Boardroom Salon in Katy for their “Benchmark” service, with an additional beard/brow grooming ordered off their a la cheveux menu.

They offered me a scotch while I waited, but since the only thing I’d eaten all day was an apple and a tin of almonds, I thought better of it.

The entire process took roughly an hour of washing, trimming, shaving, plucking and waxing, but I seem to  have emerged on the other side slightly less unkempt.

Albeit still very, very grey… Sheesh.

So big thanks to Xenia there at Boardroom, who took care of me from start to finish. Including that whole bizarre paraffin dip thing, where my hands were submerged in in hot wax, wrapped in Ziploc baggies and then stuffed into oven mitts for 10 minutes while she washed my beard and scalp.

I get the concept, but unfortunately my hands/fingers were torn to shreds by schooner halyards long ago. I appreciate the effort, though.

Anyway, it was a nice, relaxing respite and while they are a bit pricey, I do recommend them. (And no, they have not compensated me in any way for saying all this.)

So Daphne is doing fine. I picked up some 3T jeans for her last week from The Gap (before I knew I was going to be laid off) assuming that she’d grow into them. However I tried them on her this morning and they fit perfectly. Her doctor visit last week did inform us that she’s still in the 91st percentile in length (clearly), however she’s only 33rd in weight.
Some of that was likely due to having that stomach bug and being unable to eat anything but rice and crackers for a week. But she’s been absolutely ravenous since then, so we’re not too worried about it.

Speaking of eating, it’s Friday! So I’m going to bounce out of here as soon as I possibly can and perhaps even swing by No Label for a beer or two with Jen, if she can escape early enough.

I’ll leave you all with the following. A BumbleDad Simulator that covers pretty much what my mornings look like, prior to getting Daphne out of bed.

See you next week.

j.s.

Timelines

Hi.

I don’t know where this post is going to go, so you’ll have to bear with my meandering. There’s a lot to cover.

First, we had a bit of cool weather last week, which was a wonderful respite from the disgusting, humid heat that we’ve endured long after the summer should have been over. The low was in the high 30’s, which totally counts as “cold weather,” even for someone who spent a long time living in a very cold clime.

 

Dust off the coat!

And now, let’s talk about Halloween…

Rock the Spectrum was throwing their Halloween party on Saturday evening, and so we headed there right after little Snow White here had her nap.

 

Halloween itself, however, was a bit of a bust.
It poured for most of the afternoon and continued to drizzle long into the evening. Couple that with a doctor visit earlier that day for a flu shot (which happened to conflict with naptime) and Daph was in no mood for trick or treating…or anything at all for that matter. So she went to bed at around 8.

Which means we have all these Snickers and Reese’s that weren’t passed out to children. And each one of those little Fun-Sized bastards screams my name from the depths of their candy bowl the moment I get home from work.

Work…
Okay, let’s talk about work.

Let’s see…I suppose I can dress this up in several different outfits, can’t I?

CorpSpeak: Due to fluctuations in the healthcare market the parent company has decided to consolidate its interests and reassess its risk priorities.
Accountants: Assets and FTEs in the satellite office are not cost-effective.
Motivational Poster: When one door closes, another one opens.

Real Talk: I’ve been laid off.

Yes, they’re closing our office next month and they’re throwing all of us out.

I’m not allowed to discuss the particulars of this because of the litigious tenets involved in my severance package. Suffice to say: I’m disappointed. I’m angry. And I’m scared.

I’d actually already been looking for a new job, but that’s been slow going and, naturally, I don’t know how long that will take. Or if we’ll still be able to afford our house when I do find one. And finally, any new position would undoubtedly carry a different work schedule than the one I’ve had for the past 3 years, so my mornings with Daphne will be a thing of the past.

I guess I’m just lucky I had them at all.

See you soon.

j.s.