Classic Books

Beatrix Potter books were loved in my house as a child, so I will read them to Ashley too. Half Price Books had a copy of Peter Rabbit for ninety-eight cents. I started reading it and it was surprisingly good. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the lush, warm art; the lyrical writing. And I was shocked at the difference in quality between this book and most of the hand-me-down crap that has infiltrated our library.

Animator John K talks about design theory all the time. His blog is great, you should read it. In a post called "The Death of Form" he compares old toys with their post-1970 analogues. He concludes that modern toy makers "must hate kids. Either that or they are just plain retarded." My thoughts exactly.

I feel the same way about classic books (or just plain good ones) compared to the bulk of what's available today. One day when my wife is out of the house I'm going to fill up a garbage bag from our bookcase, and when she comes home there will be nothing but good stuff on the shelf!

Galactus, devourer of lunch

image from Lunch Bag Art

Geekdad posted these illustrated lunch bags. Made by a dad (and, yes, geek, based on the subject matter) for his kids, during his own lunch breaks. What a guy. And how cool to have kids who share your interest in characters like Lupin III or Godzilla!

Looking through the history on Lunch Bag Art, it looks like he has stepped up his game as the site became more popular. Some of the older bags look like something I could draw in a few minutes, while the more recent masterpieces (like this one) look like they belong on canvas, not brown paper bags.


Brigitte, originally uploaded by cybermelli

Don't you just hate it when Bloggers write cryptic, one-line posts with no context? Sorry about that. At the end of a very full day, it just dawned on me that I have so much to be thankful for, and I wanted to share it with you, Internet. I love my family and I am excited about my life.

Our little girl is seven months old. She has six teeth. She can scoot backwards on her belly by planting her hands underneath her and pushing against the floor. She finds it hilarious that she can do this.

After a string of holidays and visits with friends, we finally had one weekend to stay at home by ourselves. Ashley appreciated it. Of course there's no rest for my wife and I, as we spent the whole time picking out vendors for our urban craft fair. This is our fourth year and it's going to be awesome!


, originally uploaded by goodlux

Our baby can't stand, but she has invented a dance. She sits and bops her head from side to side like an enthusiastic Sunshine Buddy. Just like the nodding, she flails her neck around so fast that it looks like she's going to hurt herself. Obviously, this cracks her up, because she has a giant smile on her face whenever she does it.

Head-bobbing is currently her favorite method of expressing happiness. She dances in response to music, or funny sounds, or spotting me across the room when I come home from work.

We wondered briefly if we should be concerned about this frantic head-thrashing, but we're not so worried that we don't actively encourage her to do it.

I Like to Score

Baguettes Taste-Off, originally uploaded by ComeUndone

Bread baking is the new baby making. In 2009, I am going to focus my attention on creating tasty biscuits, instead of sticking another bun in the oven. Kneading dough, not knocking boots. Shaping a batard instead of shaking my babymaker.

Scoring the loaf is my second-favorite part of the process (next to eating, of course). Double-edged razor blades aren't just for shaving any more! You can even make a poor man's lame by wedging a stir stick in the centre of the blade.

I have made bread the past two weekends (baguettes and cheese bread) and I might keep baking a loaf or two every week. I can never eat enough bread, plus it's fun and cheap. Making babies is also fun, but the end result is not cheap and is certainly time-consuming. Speaking of consuming, I think it's time for a snack...

Daddy Drinks: Fuzzy Navel

The Nave of the Santa Maria Del Mar, originally uploaded by

When I was a kid, my dad tricked me by offering a sip of his non-alcoholic beer. It gave me a bad first impression of alcohol.  Shame on you, dad, that was a mean trick. I didn't have a proper adult beverage until that fateful day at an "Italian" restaurant in Hirakata City, Japan. Here's the one that started it all, my very first alcoholic drink, a Fuzzy Navel.

The classic recipe includes peach schnapps and orange juice in approximately equal proportions, poured over ice. More juice can be added to taste. As with any cocktail, there are numerous variations. I couldn't even find two recipes alike for the basic drink, during my three minutes of intensive Google research.

As I was drafting this post, I realized that my first Fuzzy Navel was also the only time I had this drink.  So I mixed myself another one.  It was good!  Do you remember your first drink?


interlocking, originally uploaded by paul goyette

They say real men don't read instructions, but I have always been a dutiful instructions-reader. I used to pore over manuals as a young PC gamer, devouring every page before even inserting the 5 1/2" floppy disk into my Commodore 64. When cooking, I always follow the directions very carefully, and make sure to use exactly the right proportions of ingredients.

This weekend I bought a bookcase at Target. It was on sale and it matched the crib. I hauled the box home, dumped out all the parts, and sorted the Styrofoam from the useful bits. Then I l sorted everything again. At which point it became clear that I had everything I needed to build a bookcase except--surprise!--the instructions. I couldn't find instructions online either, but I did find product reviews full of complaints about how difficult it was to assemble.

What I did have was a photo of the finished product from the box, and a few years of furniture-assembly experience. Ultimately, I was too lazy to return it to the store, and so I made a game of it. Like one of those jigsaw puzzles with no border and extra pieces that don't fit anywhere. In the end it only took me a couple of hours to build a very nice-looking bookcase. It turns out that real men really don't need instructions after all.

My New Shaving Technique is Unstoppable

Guys, I totally ditched my electric razor, and I'm using a double-edged blade every day. It was rough going sometimes at first. Cuts were a regular occurrence. But since then I have learned some tricks that helped me immensely. Maybe they will be helpful to you, too, if you're in the same boat.

Here's the new prep technique: I used to shave after my shower, until I got a hot tip that it's better to do it before. Start by whipping up your lather and apply a preliminary layer to your face and neck. You're going to massage this into your skin for a couple of minutes. Next, heat up a towel or clean washcloth and hold it against your skin. Let the steam warm up your face and open up your pores. Now wash off the remaining lather and do your shave as normal.

Did you try it? Awesome, right? Well, it worked for me. I'm sure that the experience I have accrued from daily practice has also helped with the reduction of serious injuries. In any case, the ritual is much more enjoyable now.

Ashley is a Headbanger

Sing-along time!
Can't stop stop that girl
there she goes again
I really really love
To watch her watch her headbangin'
Suzy is a headbanger
Her mother is a geek
Do it one more time for me
Our baby has learned the trick of shaking and nodding her head. The head-shaking is cute (as opposed to the full-body thrashing when she's actually saying "no" to something), but she nods with a special kind of ferocity, so that it looks like she's going to rock her noggin right off her little neck.

Obviously, I find this terribly endearing. Truly another sign that she is her father's daughter.


Enlightened, originally uploaded by Lawrence OP

Just before Ashley was born and my life got flipped turned upside down, I wrote about making time for our priorities. That post was about playing video games, and in the meantime I've allowed my gaming time to gradually dwindle away. It turns out they're not so important to me after all.

On the other hand, in November I was lamenting my lack of time to simply think. Obviously, it wasn't going to happen during the day when I have a job and a wife and a baby to take care of. It was clear that I would need to carve out a few minutes in my schedule for contemplation.

And so I devoted myself to daily prayer and meditation, first thing in the morning. It's part of my routine, right after taking the dog outside (which can only be postponed at my peril), and just before the morning shave. What an excellent way to start the day!


Junk Shop Gem, originally uploaded by Wickedlady

Get Rid of 2009 Things in 2009. That's my family's joint resolution this year. I don't think we own a crazy amount of stuff. Still, I'd wager we can find a couple thousand things that we don't need any more, just taking up space in our house.

It was my wife's idea. Obviously, I was immediately on board with the whole thing. Of course throwing things away (or donating or gifting them) is only half of the clutter equation. it does no good to toss two thousand things out of our house, if we turn around and put in four thousand new things.

To get a true concept of what's going out, we also need to track everything coming in. A balance sheet for the home, if you will. I don't know if we'll take the record-keeping to that level, but we will make a list of the outgoing stuff. I'll post an update later.