Mars Rising

Sometimes I wish I had a really nice telescope and knew how to use it. This week is one of those times: it's a great chance to see Mars. Phil Plait says:

When Earth does lap Mars, the Red Planet’s on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise — we say that Mars is at opposition when that happens. When it does, we get two advantages in one: it’s at its closest point, so it’s bigger in telescopes, and it’s up all night so you can observe it at your convenience. This happens next in just a few days, on January 29, 2010.

I tried looking at some online star charts and couldn't make heads or tails of them. So I was glad to discover Stellarium, a free, cross-platform, open source planetarium progam. It's very intuitive and fun to use. One cool feature is the ability to click on an object (like Mars) and zoom in with the scroll wheel. In yesterday's cloudy weather it was better than going outside, but I hope tonight will clear up so I can see the real thing!

Winter Fun Status

art shanties, originally uploaded by massdistraction

We took Natalie out to Art Shanties. It was terrible. She cried whenever we took her into a shanty so there was never a time to get out of the wind and warm up. We did not stay for very long.

Last week I brought her along to a sketch jam with the local Cartoonists Conspiracy cell. I thought she might enjoy seeing people and watching them draw. She usually loves coffee shops, but not this one! She was very restless and we had to leave.

I want to give Natalie a chance to enjoy playing outside in the winter. It's tough because I essentially hibernate during the cold months and usually prefer to stay inside. I can't blame her if she feels the same way!

2010 in preview

White tiger, originally uploaded by floridapfe

It's dangerous to write about commitments or goals for the future. Some say that sharing goals publicly adds accountability, but in my experience it's an almost guaranteed path to failure. But there are some things I can be relatively sure of happening (assuming I don't get hit by a bus crossing the street tomorrow).

I'm excited about the future. The year of the tiger is approaching! Here's a quick list of what I'm looking forward to in 2010:
  • Natalie turns two: fatherhood is an incredible adventure and I can't wait to see what my daughter will get up to next. Last year she became a real little person with a distinct personality, and now she's learning how to express herself more and more. I hope we have lots of fun together this year as she continues exploring her world.

  • Family fun times: part of the joy of having children is an excuse to go outside, play, and do "kid" stuff. This month alone I've got Art Shanties, Rock the Cradle, and St. Paul's Winter Carnival on our calendar. It will be really great when it warms up outside, but why wait until then to have fun?

  • Loving my wife: we are in our sixth year of marriage and I thought we would have it all figured out by now, but we are still making it up as we go along. We were lucky to figure out early that you have to work to make a happy marriage. Every day is a new chance to be a good husband. I will try to screw it up as little as possible.

  • Craftstravaganza: this is our fifth year organizing an event that my wife and I started on a lark because it was something that I wanted to attend and I wasn't willing to travel all the way to Milwaukee to do it. Of course, since then it has grown and each year we get to spend time with friends that we've met along the way, and make new ones. I say it every year but this year wiil be the best one yet.

  • Mpls Indie XPO: the giant annual craft fair wasn't enough of a commitment so last fall I started planning MIX, an independent comic festival. I am super pumped about this project because honestly, the Craftstravaganza was getting a little boring (which is not unusual) and this early planning stage is my favorite part of event management.

  • Swap-o-Rama-Rama: last of all, it looks like I will be hosting a DIY clothing swap event for Spring MN Fashion Week. We're still pounding out the details on this one, so I'll share more when I know more. This is part of my evil plan to be involved with every scene in Minnesota's arts culture. Also it just sounds cool.

2009 in review

Musk Ox of Alaska - Explored, originally uploaded by drurydrama (Len Radin)
2009 was our first full year with a baby. Natalie went from barely scooting at the start of the year to full-on toddling and grew a complete mouth of teeth (she's cutting her two-year molars right now). We got her to sleep in her crib, which was a welcome change from holding her throughout nap times. She has always loved to move around and now yells out "dats!" while holding up her fist, a signal for me to lift her up and swirl her around the room.
2009 Thing Challenge: We easily removed 2009 things from our home last year, although we stopped tracking every item about halfway through. We plan to continue the purging; in fact, we've already begun for this year! Would anyone like to buy a motorcycle?
I started a lot of new hobbies and routines with great fanfare, then dropped them quietly. What stuck: giving up coffee (it makes a big difference in my energy levels!). We grew lots of food and baked and cooked a lot of things. I did projects: designed a poster, built a compost bin, and gave a Pecha Kucha presentation. We tried to sell our house and got two offers, neither of which worked out, so we pulled it off the market.
2009 was a good year for our family. My wife and I still have our jobs and my company at least is doing well. We hosted our fourth annual craft fair with a fifth coming up, and started planning two new events for 2010. I hope the new year will bring many fun surprises and exciting adventures for us and for your family too!


Photo Parrot (Ara Ararabokeh), originally uploaded by docfuz on 20/20

Natalie has started to mimic words when we talk, and there's no telling which one she'll pick up on. It seems like there's a new word every day. Here are a few that she has added to her vocabulary in the past month.

She knows "up" and "down" but can't always remember which is which. She can identify several more animals: "moo," "nay," "rawr," "hoo hoo" and "ka ka" (the sound of quacking ducks). She even says her name: "Na-na."

Natalie learned "bay-bee" just in time, the day before receiving the first of three Christmas dolls. This is probably her most-used word now. My favorite new word is "yup," which she uses interchangeably with "yeah." We are teaching her words, and she is teaching us the way we really talk!

White Christmas

Back from Berlin, originally uploaded by ElseKramer

We had a truly white Christmas this year, with around a foot of snow falling over the course of a few days. We drove up to Jenna's parents' house a day early and on Christmas Eve my car was buried in their driveway. We stayed with them through Christmas morning.

My extended family met the next day and after that we drove up to visit my parents and brothers. Natalie was a trooper through all this but afterwards she was a wreck. Finally we got back on schedule around New Year's Eve, just in time for us all to get colds!

But really I am thankful for a good holiday season. Jenna gave me some real maple syrup which I love so much, and I ate lots of cookies. We also had a boxing day on January 1 and packed up lots of junk to get out of our house.