Saturday, December 29, 2007

Has It Really Been A Month Since My Last Post?!?

Chunk and Santa
It's been a long while since I've posted, so I thought I'd get you all caught up on the various activities going on in the Denver household. Here are the important or noteworthy events:

1. Chunk turned three! THREE! Geez, if people call it the "Terrible Twos" what are the threes? Something so profane, so unspeakably vile, that it can't even be uttered aloud? Almost overnight he went from a decent, pretty well behaved kid to someone in desperate need of legal action to help him regulate his meds. In the immortal words of my people, uffda!

There have been some goods things to come out of this weird transformation, however, such as the constant lectures from Chunk stating "I'm a big boy now, daddy" whenever I accidentally refer to him as my "little guy." Also, the way he literally walks around in public holding up three fingers as a sort of shorthand for "I'm still the birthday boy, damnit!" is kind of hilarious. And, as frustrating as he can be, it's been pretty amazing to see him becoming his own, independent person, a little bit every day. I'm hopeful that when he turns eighteen, I'll still be able to tolerate him, and his therapist will tell him that not everything is my fault.

My prediction for the next year: 1) Many posts that start with, "Man, that kid is driving me crazy..." and 2) An eBay listing for a slightly used three old, complete with toys, books, and croup.

2. Christmas Cards! My wife and I decided it was time to finally do the time honored tradition of sending out Christmas cards. We've been adults... legally... for a long time now and the world was an empty, sort of sad place, without a carefully constructed form letter from us addressed to anyone who'd be dumb enough to open the envelope. So, taking a very fetching family photo we took up in the mountains, we plugged my credit card into Shutterfly and were quickly the proud owners of 50 photo cards.

Let me tell you, when the envelope came, it was as if it was filled with opportunity. The smell that came from the fresh photos wasn't the scent of chemicals, but the lingering aroma of respectability. We would be sending out Christmas cards! Yes! We would add our pictures and lame Christmas update letter to the same stack of junk mail that contained offers from Citigroup and address labels from the Dumb Friends League! That would be us!

Then the smell went away.

So, how many did we send out? Well, we gave a few away on Christmas to family members, but that's about it. Denver Family: 0, Laziness: 1.

Maybe next year.

3. We celebrated Christmas! To be more precise, we celebrated three days of Christmas, starting with Denver Mom's extended family on the 23rd, my family on the 24th, then our small family (plus Denver Mom's mom and grandma) on the 25th. It would have been helpful to have water stations between the holiday meals, so I could run by, grab a cup, and throw it on my face before checking my pulse and continuing on to the next celebration, but I didn't plan far enough ahead.

The great thing about being a parent on the holidays is that you suddenly have power over your own parents. You know how when you were younger you had to do whatever your parents said, on and around every holiday? When you have a child, that completely disappears, because your child is the ultimate trump card. So, when my parents say, "We're going to go down to the Legion to help with the Christmas party" I can say, "We're busy!" Or, when my parents say, "We're going to watch Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve," I can say, "It's not that same old Betamax version we've been watching since 1986, is it? We're busy!"

So, instead of marching along to my older sister's Christmas dinner orders, we can do our own thing, and that's exactly what we did. And, not to be arrogant or anything, but my ham was by far the most moist and flavorful out of the entire holiday bunch. Actually, my entire Christmas meal, which consisted of the already mentioned ham, garlic mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, and a salad, was by far the best meal out of all three. And, the pumpkin bread pudding we made for desert more than meet expectations.

Chunk had a blast, of course. I think he thinks his birthday is sort of like Christmas Lite, because going into the holidays that kid had his unwrapping skills honed to near perfection. He was the Michael Jordan of gift unwrapping! And yet, even he got tired of unwrapping stuff. After a while, he sort of sighed and shrugged whenever we urged him to open another gift, acting more like we were trying to get him to eat lettuce, than open up another book or toy.

The crazy thing is we really tried to cut back this year. Last year was simply embarrassing. It was every bit as vulgar as those cynics say Christmas has become, and so this year, we made an effort to restrain ourselves. Even then, he was overwhelmed by it all. We might cut back even more next year, but I don't really know how to walk that particular line.

I was talking to a woman in my office a few weeks ago and she mentioned that her kids get two presents every year, one from them (the parents), and then one from Santa. That seems a little too far in the other direction, but there has to be a balance there. If anyone wants to play armchair Santa in the comments section, I'd love to hear what your family does.

4. Snow! We had a white Christmas! And, a white... um... Thursday! And Friday was sort of white too. Today? Looks like it's going to be vaguely white with a chance of white. Tomorrow? Yeah, even I have to stop here... the joke is only a couple of sentences long and it's already getting old. We're getting lots of snow in Colorado, which is both sort of weird, and sort of expected.

Last year we had a blizzard every week. Literally. Every Saturday something would blow in and hammer us, so we got used to lots of snow (and cannibalism, for those Denverites that didn't have well stocked cubbards). The thing is, before last year, things have been kind of dry around here. In a lot of ways, the snow has been really fun, so I'm not complaining. I just wish the inside of the windows in the Subaru weren't icing up!

5. Guitar Hero III! Remember when I confessed that Guitar Hero II had threatened my very soul? Remember how I was both dreading and longing for the sequel? Well, my friends, Guitar Hero III is definitely in the house and it's every bit as fun as I was hoping. They have a new co-op career mode, which when translated out of nerddom, means Denver Mom and I have formed the most face-melting, cheesy plastic guitar band in Denver and we rock it when Chunk goes to bed. We rock it hard. Seriously. You should see us shred "When We Were Young". Denver Mom even does some cool guitar moves while she plays and so I'm expecting the inevitable Pete Townshead windmills any day now.

Denver Mom's Mom played on Christmas when she was over and she loved it. Looks like we're going to have to get Rock Band now, so all three of us can play at the same time. Sigh.

If we ever needed proof that video games are corrupting America's youth, we now have it. Chunk's new favorite song is "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," thanks to Guitar Hero III, and he knows all the words. I'm going to have to get video of him playing and singing along, all while dancing, because it's something you really do have to see to truly understand. I don't think I could explain it in a way that would do it any justice.

So, what's ahead? I'm glad you asked! In my immediate future....

1. Split Pea Soup! Yeah, I make it. And, it's pretty kick butt too! Insert macho cooking gestures here.

2. New Job/Travel! I start my new job in just over a week! And, my first day will be spent on an airplane, as they're flying me out to Kentucky for a national meeting! I've never been to Kentucky, so this should be sort of fun.

3. Jury duty! It's my civic duty and I'm all about civic duty, but I'm really dreading this. I hope I don't get called in. I'm trying to wrap things up at my current job and I could really use the time in the office. I missed the "whine to get out of it" deadline, so it's all up to luck now... which, sadly, has never really had my back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The End of An Era

How long, exactly, is an "era" anyway?

After 20 months, I've decided to leave my current position. It was a difficult decision for me, because unlike previous times when I've left jobs, I still really like where I'm at and believe in the mission of my organization. I genuinely care about the families we serve, believe we're making a difference in the community, and enjoy the quirks (and yes, irritations) of my coworkers, but as burnt out as I've been feeling, I needed a change.

It's funny, because one of the weird truths about the "industry" I work in (I put industry in quotes because its a strange word to describe what I do) is that development people last, on average, only eighteen months. So, I guess, I exceeded the average, but only barely. Why the huge turn over of staff? Well, begging for money is stressful, and although I was lucky enough to be one of the higher paid staff in my organization, "higher paid" doesn't necessarily translate into "high pay."

I gave my resignation last week and since then things have been a little tense in the office. My boss is pretty disappointed that I'm leaving. She's been great about it, very understanding, but I can tell that I've let her down. My coworkers seem to feel the same way, but one or two of them are probably glad to see me go. Offices are like that.

I guess this is my long winded way of saying that things are changing a bit over here. I'm hoping with my new position comes a little more time for myself and my family, which I hope will also translate into a little more time for this blog. Heck, I might even start sleeping again, but I don't want to get my hopes up just yet.

I'll post more soon!