Memorial Day weekend babysitting Jack

John and Christine are in Mexico for a wedding this weekend. Back in February, when John asked me to be Godfather, he nonchalantly asked if we’d be willing to babysit Jack over the Memorial Day weekend. I said yes without hesistation.

A week later John asked, “Are you sure you guys are willing to babysit Jack for four days? I don’t want you to hate me when we get back.”

I said, “I said I’d do it, so I’ll do it.”

Here it is, Memorial Day weekend and day one of babysitting Jack. John and Christine came over at 6 a.m. this morning to drop off Jack on their way to the airport. Elise answered the door and immediately took over on morning duty. John woke me up and said something to me. I said, “yeah” and went back to bed. I woke up to the alarm, took a shower, etc. and staggered to the living room to say hi to Jack. I showed him where I keep the scotch, gave him a cigar and a bag of gummy bears, kissed Elise goodbye and went to work.

Elise played mom all day and must have done a good job because she’s conked out on the couch next to me right now. She’s exhausted. I’m pretty tired too because Jack ate all of my gummy bears and I have no source of sugar.

Thankfully Mom & Dad are here for the weekend so I can try to delegate poo duty.

The next three days should be interesting…

Graduation dinner at PF Chang\’s

Elise and I had dinner at PF Chang’s last night to celebrate our neighbors’ daughter’s high school graduation. We ate at the PFC on Jollyville Road six or seven years ago and I remember the Lettuce Wraps. We thought they were good so I made my own a few days later. They were just as good if not better.

We’d been to PFC a couple times since. I don’t think the food is anything to write home about. The thing about Chang’s is the atmosphere and attention. The waiter leads you to believe that this is the most unique dining experience you’ll ever know.

Elise had the honey shrimp last night. I had the wok seared lamb. Before our meal I asked our waiter to recommend a nice, creamy chardonnay. When he brought our bill he asked “Wasn’t that the best, creamiest, buttery chardonnay?” I said “No.” He didn’t know what he was recommending.

I thought this discussion of PF Chang’s was pretty funny.

Anyway – we were there to celebrate with Theresa. The food was okay but the company was better. We had a chance to talk to our neighbors who we hadn’t seen in a while and to congratulate Theresa.

I had the opportunity to give Theresa my very worldly and renowned high school graduation advice: If you trip while walking across the stage, you will lose all of your friends, your parents will disown you, you’ll never get into college, your boyfriend will dump you and you’ll grow hair on your back.

Assuming Elise

Many, many years ago, back in a time that we referred to as “The Nineties”, I lived in an apartment complex that was affectionately referred to as “The Method“.

Some of my closest friendships are biproducts of the days at The Method. We threw footballs to each other from the third floor of adjoining buildings. We played games like “Chenga” (Cheesy fell asleep on his birthday so we attempted to strategically stack household items on top of him without waking him) and Hacky Trash (a complex game of tennis requiring two empty pizza boxes and empty aluminum cans). We once put a scooter in the dumpster, removed it from the dumpster, jumpstarted it and returned it to the dumpster. We made a fancy plastic lawnchair bonfire in the breezeway. We would have regular competitions of Who Can Throw This Over the Roof of the Stripmall Across the Alley? We would order twelve pizzas to James’ apartment while he was at work. We would all hide in our respective apartments. When the pizza delivery guy would show up, we’d congregate in the breezeway and say that James was just hauled off to jail. We would get free pizzas.

It was a great fraternity. We were all free-spirited bachelors who were living in “The Nineties”; a time when men joined together, threw caution to the wind, passed wind, raised their fists into the air and belched.

Then a girl moved into building 4 just below your humble narrator. We never saw this girl. I’m pretty sure she was scared of us.

We liked to keep our sector of The Method relatively tidy. That girl below me left a pair of muddy hiking boots just outside her front door for a really long time. I immediately assumed and attributed this to lesbianism. Keep in mind that this was “The Nineties” and all lesbians wore muddy hiking boots. I know this because I once was a lesbian. I think.

Being the motley crew that we were, we contemplated using those muddy boots in a game of Hacky Trash. We thought about loading them with fireworks and seeing if we could launch them over the roof of the strip mall across the alley. It wasn’t that we were homophobic bigots, we just got tired of walking past dirty hiking boots everyday. We didn’t yet know this new neighbor and wanted her (and her hot lesbian friends) to feel welcome at The Method. We let the boots be.

Weeks later that dirty booted lesbian became my girlfriend. That was, of course, after learning that she wasn’t a lesbian. Then I married her.

Spring house work

I ran over to the Bicycle Sport Shop and picked up my mountain bike on Friday evening. I’m yet to ride it – that’s on the agenda for this evening. After washing the truck I sat down to watch “Saw” again. Elise came home from work midway through the movie and I got up and made her dinner as she hadn’t eaten in a day and a half.

Elise had to go to work before sunrise on Saturday. I woke up not quite as early, worked in the yard a bit and then drove over to the Four Hands warehouse to pickup the dining room chairs and buffet table that Elise bought Friday afternoon. Now we have a buffet table. I don’t really understand why we have a buffet table. I didn’t grow up with a buffet table in the dining room. We don’t serve buffets. Am I required to have a sneeze guard and an endless supply of banana pudding with Nilla Wafers®?

I stopped at World Market and bought some cool dinner plates to use when we entertain. I drove up north to Fry’s with an 800 lb. buffet table in the back of the truck to get some stuff for work. I made it home just as John, Jack and Elise were getting back from house shopping. Elise met up with John & Christine late Saturday morning to look at the layout of a house that they’re thinking about building.

John and I went and picked up lunch at Fu Lai. The owner of the restaurant kept trying to sell us “crap puffs”. We weren’t in the mood for tempura poo. We got our to-go order and went back to the house.

After lunch we commissioned Theresa’s boyfriend, Seth to come over and help move the buffet table from the truck and into the dining room. John & Jack went home so Jack could go to sleep. Elise and I rented “Ocean’s 12” and drove over to John’s to watch the movie and to keep him company since Christine was in Dallas for the weekend.

I woke up early on Sunday, washed the other truck, mowed, edged and treated the front and back yards for fire ants. Marc & Cyndi came over later that morning and Marc helped me install the new base boards in the guest bedroom. Thankfully Marc brought his mitre saw and nail gun. A project that would have taken me all day took approximately an hour with the right tools.

We went to Cypress Grill for lunch. Cypress Grill has the best muffalettas in town. They actually won the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Muffaletta this side of I-10” critics poll this year. Unfortunately they didn’t have their Italian bread so we had ours on po-boy bread. Still a great sandwich nonetheless.

We went back to the house and I watered the lawn while Elise caulked the base boards.

eBay bidding courtesy of TWX

Aside from the $100/month pricetag, I knew there was a good reason we that we don’t subscribe to Time Warner’s digital cable.

I have a tendency to get a little trigger happy on eBay.

“But we need a Mork and Mindy talking toilet paper dispenser.”

I remember many years back, back in my college days and shortly after Elise and I started dating, I was up really late and lost count of how bany meers I had when all of the sudden an informercial spoke to me:

“…Call within the next ten minutes and we’ll give you, yes, give you, for free, two bonus CDs of nothing but 80’s Power Ballads. That’s a total of 14 CDs for three low monthly payments of only $39.99…”

I did the math as best I could at 4 a.m. and decided that I needed 14 CDs of nothing but radical 80’s rock. I still have those CDs too. I ripped them all and some of the songs are actually on my iPod. When one comes on, I skip to the next song.

Job: one year ago

I had a weird feeling today – that something significant happened a year ago on this date.

Since then my worklife has done a 180 and been kicked into high gear. Aside from the headaches I can say that I’m happy with my job. A little over year ago I wasn’t as happy with my job.

My then-boss had the staff on a “performance-based” pay structure. If our outside sales staff didn’t hit their numbers, the rest of us took dings on our paychecks. When then-boss would hand out paychecks, he’d say something like “Well Josh, looks like we didn’t hit our sales numbers this month. I know it hurts. Trust me, I’m feeling it too.”

I’d think: “Yeah right.”

This “performance-based” pay meant that your humble narrator was often shorted 33% of my monthly salary. Don’t get me wrong, this program swung both ways. If sales exceeded their quota, I would get a bonus on top of my salary. That happened once – to the tune of a few inconsequential dollars. All other checks that year took significant hickies.

I casually searched for other jobs but aside from paycheck theivery, I enjoyed my job. I rode my bicycle to work, my coworkers were my friends, I was learning and my job kept me busy.

Then one day now-boss and his wife came into the office and said “then-boss is no longer with the company.” I was given a promotion a week later and soon learned why then-boss was fired.

In that week when I didn’t have a direct manager, I wrote down questions, company procedures, to do lists, job descriptions and a poem about an deaf-mute butterfly who suffers from a gender identity crisis.

Most of my questions were for now-boss. The most important question was quickly answered: No more “peformance-based” pay. We put our sales staff on a commission-only pay structure, cut costs, moved production in-house, called on accounts receivable and pushed inside sales. Now I work for and manage the operations of a successful small business. Not bad for one year.

I miss working in Austin. What I miss most is riding my bike to and from work. You see a lot when you ride a bicycle.

I also miss being close to the house. I used to go home for lunch and escape for an hour. I used to be able to meet Elise for lunch. It’s harder for me to run errands during the day. I can’t run over to the bank. I don’t really like the commute to Marble Falls. I do it though because I have to. It’s a dangerous drive and that’s two hours of my day dedicated to driving. Driving, not cycling – polluting the air, costing me gas money and cutting into time when I could be writing about transgender butterflies.

First diaper change

Josh changes his first diaper

John and Christine did a little house shopping on Saturday. Elise and I babysat Jack. Shortly after John and Christine left our house, Elise put Jack down for a nap. Shortly after that, Elise had to go to work. Your humble narrator and Jack were home alone. About an hour after Elise left, Jack woke up. I picked him up out of his crib and we went and sat on the living room floor and talked.

Jack sits up on his own now so it makes conversation a lot easier. We talked mostly about girls. I explained to him how society has adopted an image of what female beauty is by means of television and magazines. He absorbed that pretty quickly and mentioned how earlier this week he was at HEB and while waiting in the checkout line, he noticed the recent issue of Cosmo that features Jessica Simpson on the cover. He said he thought Jessica Simpon is quite an attractive young lady, but he prefers a woman who can provide vast intellectual stimulation.

I decided to play a few tunes on the guitar for Jack. I’m really out of practice but he didn’t seem to care. He sat there and closely watched both of my hands. When I finger picked a song, he watched my left hand on the bridge. When I strummed, he watched my right hand.

Midway through my third song Jack leaned back, held his breath, clenched his body and a sound came from his backside that could easily compete with his dad’s. I looked at him for a while. I looked away and thought about what that noise might have been. I looked at him again. He looked at me. I looked away. He was still looking at me. Then I smelled something.

I looked at Jack again. “Jack, did you just fart?” He didn’t say anything. “Jack, you farted, right?… That was just a fart, wasn’t it?”

“Uncle Josh, I just pooed my pants and now you’re going to have to do something about it.”

I have never changed a diaper. This was a new challenge for yours truly.

I called John for a consult. Specific things you need when changing a 6 month-old’s diaper: a diaper and approximately seventeen wet wipe things. John warned me that Jack might pee on me while changing him so I’d need to put a wet wipe thing over his “thing”. I hung up the phone.

With Jack in tow, I walked to the dining room to find a diaper out of the diaper bag. I couldn’t find one as I didn’t know how a diaper bag worked. We have a full bag of diapers in our house for occasions like this. We also have a box of wet wipe things. Left arm has Jack, right arm has bag of diapers, I have a box of wet wipe things between my legs and I have to walk across the house because I was instructed that I am to change Jack on our bed. So I’m duck waddling through the house with a box of wet wipes twixt my thighs, John calls so now I have a phone attached to my shoulder and Jack thinks that this is the perfect time to pick my nose.

I somehow made it to the bed. I removed Jack’s diaper and was greeted by it. Well, it was more like them. Three little gifts resembling tootsie rolls for Uncle Josh to deal with. What’s worse is there was a bit of backside paint smears.

I stuck my chest out, accepted the task, grabbed a wet wipe thing and gagged. I have an iron stomach but I swear to you that I almost threw up on my Godson. I seriously almost lost my lunch. That was absolutely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

The whole process only took me about 20 minutes and I think I did a mighty fine job. It’s not a job that I like, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Dodge Charger

I saw the end of a commercial for the new Dodge Charger this evening. Why can’t they just sell the damn concept car?!?!

The one I'd buy
[Concept car]

Grocery getter
“I’m on the way to Hobby Lobby to pick up party favors for my scrapbooking party”
[Consumer model]

I\’m thinking of a cutting board

1. It is classified as Other.
2. Is it used for entertainment? Doubtful.
3. Does it have a hard outer shell? Yes.
4. Does it break if dropped? No.
5. Is it a synthetic material? No.
6. Do you clean it regularly? Yes.
7. Can you put something into it? No.
8. Is it smaller than a golf ball? Depends.
9. Do you hold it when you use it? Maybe.
10. Can it be chewed? Rarely.
11. Is it smaller than a loaf of bread? Sometimes.
12. Does it have a handle? Depends.
13. Is it made of metal? Maybe.
14. Can it fit in an envelope? Depends.
15. Can you use it at school? Maybe.
16. Is it a common household object? Yes.
17. Do you use it at night? Sometimes.
18. Does it usually have four corners? Usually.
19. Is it found in a bathroom? Doubtful.
20. I guess that it is a table? Close.
21. Can it be stolen? Yes.
22. Do you use it at work? Depends.
23. Would you use it in the dark? Doubtful.
24. Is it brown? Depends.
25. Can you open it? No.
26. Is it small? Depends.
27. Does it have legs? Rarely.
28. Does it get wet? Sometimes.

Q29. I am guessing that it is a cutting board?

Play here.

Perpetual doghouse

I’m in one of those funks where every time I open my mouth, I’m in trouble. I can be 100% right and I’m the one who gets in trouble. It’s gotten so bad that this funk has slipped into my subconcious.

I was driving home this evening and thinking about work. I was focusing my thoughts on how we’ve moved 99% of marketing production in house and how our backlog turnaround has been exponentially truncated in the past 12 months. I thought “Man, if I could only find a good deal on a paper guillotine, I could get new signups out the door in a couple days.”

Yes, I had a day dream about a paper guillotine.

My next vision was of my marketing coordinator mangling her hand with the guillotine. I rushed to the rescue. As I made my ER doctor-like dash I grabbed a sweater that was draped over one of the chairs in the office. I used the sweater as a tourniquet and a blood soaking rag.

I thought I was doing the instinctive and right thing. I got my ass reamed by the other girls in the office for getting the sweater soaked with blood.

I just can’t seem to win.

Mother\’s Day wrap-up

We drove to Cat Spring to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my parents. We got to their house around 8, Elise and I ate dinner, talked to my parents for a while and then watched “Supersize Me”.

On Saturday Dad and I ripped the frame off of the compost pile and spread compost throughout the garden. Mom and Elise stuck their asses in the air practiced Hatha Yoga.

Mom & Elise doing Hatha Yoga

Later that afternoon we drove into Katy so we could shop mountain bikes. Elise and I revisited our differences in bicycle criteria. That’s French for “we had an argument”. Elise thinks I should own a bicycle that will allow me to gently traverse the marshmallowy terrain of Nerfland. I need a bike that’s fireproof, bulletproof, can take a 10 foot straight drop with a rider, a missle launcher, dual intake jet boosters, a sno cone machine and a whammy bar. Really I just want the current version of my old bike, a Specialized Hardrock. It was a great bike and I liked how it rode.

Our disagreement was relatively short lived and the four of us soon found ourselves browsing the aisles at Specs. I picked up a couple bottles of scotch with my new Specs membership for $3 less than I normally pay. Mom got a bottle of her spiced rum. While there I also picked up a couple filets of ostrich. Specs is a really cool gourmet spot that will be in Austin soon (so I was told by the cashier).

We stopped in Sealy on the way home and picked up 16 peice box of fried chicken at Hartz. I hate the Hartz Mountain Corp. but love Hartz Chicken. It’s comfort food from my days as a kid growing up in Houston.

We went home, ate greasy fried chicken and then watched the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again” on DVD. Mom and dad went to bed after the movie and Elise and I stayed up and watched SNL.

We slept in on Sunday. I got up and cooked Ostrich Diablos – Hickory smoked ostrich filets wrapped in maple smoked bacon with red D’Anjou pear, jalapeno and mom & dad’s home grown figs, dehydrated and soaked in a reduced balsamic vinegar.

For an early dinner mom and I made an orzo and pea salad with mint pesto. I baked a ham and we all sat down for dinner. Just after dinner it was about time for us to head back to Austin. It had rained all day and subsided long enough for us to have a clear trip home.

A relaxing weekend is always broken up by the sound of the alarm early on Monday morning. The rat race started again today.