Six years

Elise and I celebrated our 6th anniversary this past Saturday. The weekend started with Mom driving up Friday afternoon to visit for the weekend and for some free (and much appreciated) babysitting.

On Friday night, I got home from work and was almost immediately turned around and sent back out to get groceries for the weekend and pizza for dinner that night. When I got home, I cooked the pizzas while Mom played with Maly so Elise could get dolled up.

That night we met up with co-workers and friends to celebrate Jenny’s birthday at the Broken Spoke. Everyone had a great time and at some point, someone realized that this was the first time in years that our circle of friends were together without at least one offspring in tow.

Elise and I stayed behind after the party left. We sat next to each other at a table at the edge of the dance floor and watched people dance. It was nice to just sit back with my feet up and my arm around my wife while we both people watched.

Saturday morning came early as we all got up with Maly. We ate breakfast and then headed out for the Josh & Elise Anniversary day of whatever it is that Josh doesn’t know about.

Almost an hour later we were pulling into the parking lot of Skydive San Marcos. Let me preface this by stating that I love me some skydiving. I experienced a mini anxiety attack. Elise’s plan was that we were both going to go skydiving that day. When we were driving up to the drop zone, I noticed that the parking lot was almost full. I remembered when we were at SSM a year ago and how we spend almost six hours there. I wasn’t looking forward to spending the entire day there again today and I expressed as much as we were parking. So I pretty much immediately set the mood of the day off on the wrong foot, which really upset Elise.

After talking it over for a while, I decided I would jump with her; but if I jumped, I wanted to make sure that the jump counted towards my Accelerated Free Fall license. I inquired at the desk and was told that the jump would not count as I would need to take a class before the instructional tandem jump. So I weighed my options. I thought about my little anxiety attack and the cost of a tandem jump that wouldn’t count towards licensure, and decided to just let Elise jump and pay an extra $100 to have the jump filmed.

Since we got the SSM relatively early, Elise was on a plane within an hour, which was a nice surprise. Mom, Maly and I waved as Elise boarded the plane. We played outside the drop zone for 20 minutes or so before we saw the parachutes starting to float down from a mile up. We watched as Elise and her jumpmaster touched ground and then walked over to where we were standing.

Elise, like me, was at a loss for words. I could tell just by the look on her face that she had a blast, and I’m really glad she got to experience “flight”. I quickly asked if she would consider going through AFF training with me. She said she’d prefer to just do tandem jumps and “let someone else do all the work.” So we went back inside and bought Elise a same-day discount for her next tandem.

We decided to hang out on the patio at the drop zone and have our picnic lunch before heading home. After lunch we piled into the truck and headed back to the house while Maly conked out in her car seat.

When we got home we just hung out around the house. Mom, Maly and I played in the pool on the deck while Elise took a nap. When Elise woke up, we all hung out on the deck and watched Maly play. 5:30 came quickly and it was time for Elise and me to get ready for our date.

We headed into town and got to Starlite a few minutes past our reservation time. Luckily it didn’t matter that we were late because there were only three occupied tables at the restaurant. Dinner was awesome and we had a really nice time talking. Our waiter was extremely friendly and helpful with all menu items and wine selections.

We started with a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier les baux de Provence, which was an awesome recommendation from our waiter based on the kinds of Cabernet’s and Pinot Noir’s that we like. We were next treated to an amuse bouche of pan roasted veal cheek. Yeah, cheek. And man was it good! I got all cheeky is was so good. Here’s a great write-up on Metroactive on cheek meat.

For our appetizer I chose the Ahi Tartare with avocado mole, shallot preserves and gaufrette potatoes. Elise and I opted to simplify the consumption of this dish by scooping the tartare atop the potatoes (researchers have indicated that ‘gaufrette potatoes’ is a fancy name for homemade potato chips) with both sauces and called them raw fish nachos. Needless to say, the dish was excellent.

For our main courses, Elise had the Halibut with potatoes and buerre blanc and toasted garlic broccolini. I had the 16 oz. grilled veal t-bone with polenta and pearl onion and red plum confit. Both were fantastic, well rounded meals. I’m pretty sure I speak for Elise when I say Starlite is definitely on our list of favorite Austin restaurants. I’m certainly looking forward to returning soon.

After dinner walked a block to the parking garage and drove the Jeep over to my office’s parking garage and then walked to the Littlefield Market on 6th where we picked up a couple four packs of white wine. We then walked over to the OMNI with our swimsuits and went to the rooftop where we sat in the hot tub and drank wine from plastic cups. We had a fun time just hanging out with each other and overlooking central Austin. At 11:30 a staffer came up to let us know they were locking up for the evening. So we went downstairs to change in the locker rooms.

We got home close to midnight and hung out on the deck for another hour or so for a nightcap, to exchange cards and to look at the photos from Elise’s first skydive.

So we had a really, really nice anniversary. It wasn’t a “milestone” anniversary by commercial standards, but I think it was one of our best. Each one is better than the last as each year Elise and I grow closer together, stronger as one and happier together as we experience the everyday milestones.

I couldn’t imagine being happier or more proud of the relationship I have with Elise. I don’t know how I did it, but I sure as hell lucked out.

Josh & El's 6th anniversary

Dangerous flea prevention products no longer tied to erectile dysfunction started getting Viagra and Cialis story submission spam on August 14th. Since then I’ve been getting upward of 20 submissions a day with links to “Buy cheap Viagra” websites. It immediately got very frustrating because I was then having to login to my database and search for “viagra” and “cialis” and manually delete any and all of those entries in the queue before I could actually moderate any real user submissions.

I kind of leave to somewhat run itself, but the spam was starting to get unbearable. Thankfully all stories have to be submitted by me, so no viagra links had been published, but still, it was a pain in the ass to have to login and delete 99% of the content submitted.

After some here and there poking around, I found bbAntiSpam. And it’s the perfect solution for PHP-Nuke spam. I uploaded the two PHP scripts and added one small line of code to my index page. *POOF* No more spam submissions. bbAntiSpam uses Advanced Textual Confirmation which challenges a spam bot or a human to answer a question before the story can be submitted.

I’m really glad that this was an extremely simple fix. And I’m glad to be done with the headache of submission spam.

What I find interesting is that the influx of spam started a few weeks after I setup a MySpace account…

Update from the deck

Nothing’s cooler than writing this post using my iPhone while at the same time controlling the playlist and volume of the music being piped through to the speakers out on the deck via AirTunes.

I might just sleep out here tonight!

Monthly Maly Letter: Month 17

Dear Maly,

You turned 17-months-old today. You’re growing so fast that it’s hard to keep track of the day-to-day changes and all of the little miracles that you create. Every day you surprise us with a new word, expression or talent.

This month has been full of many milestones. The most significant has been your learning to test us. I can see it now: Your first day at school. The teacher asks, “Hi, cutie! What’s your name?” To which you will politely reply, “Maly.” The teacher will then ask, “What’s your full name?” And your quick retort will be, “Maly NO!”

One day while I was at work, your mom and you had a little altercation. Momma and you were playing on the bed. You ran across the bed and then stepped onto my night stand. Your mom quickly established the rule that those that live in the house and measure in at less than 5 feet are not to stand on night stands. Your mom said, “NO, No, Nooooooo!” You immediately turned to look at her, wrinkled your forehead, waved your index side to side, and said, “NOOO, NOOO, NOO, NOOO, NO!!!”

Your mom and I have been trying to employ the technique of removing you from any situation that you’re not supposed to be engaged in and then explain to you why you oughtn’t be doing whatever it is you’re doing. We really, really try this technique, but a lot of times it’s just quicker to say “no.”

You’re becoming more an more independent every day. You did something a few days ago that just about brought a tear to my eye. In these first 17 months of your life, I’ve probably given you 95% of your baths. Whenever we’re done with bath time, you would stand up in the tub and hold your hands up to me as I sat on the edge of the tub. I would lift you up and onto the towel on my lap. On this particular evening, instead of lifting your arms up to me, you just threw one leg up and over the edge of the tub pulled yourself out of the bath. Then you stood there and looked to me to dry you off while you stood there, instead of drying you while snuggling on my lap.

You have a ton of new words that you use regularly now. I think the cutest is “Meemee.” That means “Maly” in your vocabulary. You clearly say, mama, daddy, ditty (kitty), Annie, lally (Riley), ish (fish), burr (bird), ball, pool, oosh (shoes), ouch, ice, wiwwy (Willy – the ‘ish’) and Noooooooo!

You can point to your eyes, ears, cheeks, head, elbow, mouth, nose. You know who your babies are. You run to the bathroom when I say it’s time for your bath. You know exactly which buttons turn on and off my alarm clock. You tell me, “Bay bye” every morning when I leave for work. And you excitedly repeat, “Daddy?!” to Mom when I get home in the evenings.

You love your books. I’m not much of a book reader. I think you’re going to turn me into one. We have a bookshelf in your room that is completely full of books. I have to read at least five books to you every night. Who knows how many books your mom reads to you during the day. You LOVE your books. And I’m proud of that.

I’m proud of you for everything that you are. You’re such an amazing little girl. I love living life through you each and every day. I wish I had more time to do that on a day-to-day basis. I’m thankful that I have the woman that I love to be there when I can’t.

You’ve made me laugh more than I’ve ever laughed before. I love putting you on my shoulders and walking you around the grocery store. I love having meaningless conversations with you. I love that you telling me, “NOO, NOO, NOO!!” means that YOU shouldn’t be digging into the cat food. I love putting you down to bed and watching you put your fingers into your mouth as you get yourself ready for bed.

I love thinking that your mom and I are doing the right things for you. We’re trying hard for you.

I love you, Sugar.



On this date

On this date nine years ago, Elise and I had our first date. Elise and I had flirted in the gang dark room in the St. Ed’s photo lab during the ’98 term. It wasn’t until I realized that she lived in the apartment below me that I started thinking things were falling into place. I used the student directory to find her email address and at 3 a.m. one morning, I wrote my first letter to Elise. She can fill you in with the details, but the gist of it was, “Hey, I think you live in the apartment below me… let’s hang out some time.”

She confirmed via an email response that she lived in the same building the next afternoon.

I remember the day like yesterday. My buddy and neighbor, James and I were leaving together to go get my cell phone fixed when Elise was pulling into the parking lot. I remember giving an enthusiastic “Hi!” and introducing Elise to James. James and I were in a hurry and with quick thought, I asked Elise if she would want to hang out with my friends from work later that evening.

I went to work at the Austin Country Club that afternoon and told Doug that I was inviting ‘someone’ to our regular late night outing at The Tavern. The regular ACC crüe and I were there. Elise called me on my cell to tell me she was heading out to meet me.

Once she showed up, I immediately retired from playing pool and spend the next three hours sitting on a bar stool, talking to Elise.

As usual, we closed the bar. Everyone left together. Since Elise lived in the unit just below me, I joked and said, “See ya at home.”

We both got “home” at the same time. I followed Elise upstairs and asked if I could see her apartment. Her room was a wreck.

We spent the rest of the evening at my place. We hung out on my 3rd floor balcony until the wee hours of the morning, just talking. It started to gently rain. It was the perfect opportunity for the first kiss. I was a wimp in the ways of instigating back in those times. To this day, Elise asks me, “Why didn’t you just kiss me?” I was nervous! I knew, that night, that this girl was going to be with me forever. I didn’t want to screw things up. Maybe I should have kissed her on the balcony. I finally did kiss her before she left my place to go downstairs to her place for the night.

We’ve been together every day since. And we have a water color painting of The Tavern hanging in the hallway before Maly’s bedroom.

I love you, El.

Mr. Janicek, your yarbles are here, ready to be used

As I was driving home from work this evening I thought, “The yard really needs to be mowed. I wonder if I can hold off until the weekend.” I generally like to mow the yard on Wednesday or Thursday so my weekends don’t involve much, if any yard work.

I got home to find that the yard had already been mowed. And Elise was selling our old TV just as I was pulling into the driveway. She had to hurry inside to finish cooking dinner. And prior to doing the aforementioned, she had made a meal complete with chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of champagne for John and Christine.

So I stood in the driveway with my daughter as the guy who just bought our TV drove off. I sort of stood staring blankly at the lawn, wondering what my role at home has become. I still pay all of the bills and am the primary source of income. But even still, Elise has been doing some side photography projects with Marc and will easily pull in 5-figures this year. And paying our bills isn’t a hard job. I almost feel threatened. I think the last three times the yard has been mowed, it was by the hands of Elise.

It seems as of late my only responsibility is to make Maly laugh while Elise makes us all dinner. I used to be the Head Chef of the house. Now I dare not make any suggestions or offer critique because I know Elise works hard during the day and has every right to take great pride.

Maybe I should just embrace this time and look forward to nothing other than just playing with my daughter so Elise can enjoy her time alone, training to pummel me in the fight for the title of Ruler of the Kitchen.

I think I’ll just take this time to be Dad.

Buy ya a shot of mouthwash?

In an effort to revitalize with content other than monthly newsletters to Maly, I’m going to address a topic that I’m sure has had the rest of the western world standing around, scratching their heads.

Bathroom products. I’m a fairly simple guy when it comes to items that are considered “mine”. I have a toothbrush, deodorant, a razor, shaving cream, aftershave, cologne that I never wear and some headache medicine. Oh yeah, and a ear/nose hair trimmer. How could I forget that when practically I have to use the damn thing twice a day now. I don’t even have my own comb. I use Elise’s hair brush when I’m in a good enough mood to actually convince myself that I have enough hair that warrants brushing.

There are also the obvious community bathroom products: soap, shampoo, toilet paper, Q-tips, tissue, pads, hammer drill and the compressed helium tank.

What I don’t get it all the stuff that Elise has. I couldn’t begin to tell you what a tenth of that stuff is. Albeit she’s considerate enough to keep her things on her side of the vanity, but it would be awesome if there was a way that all of that stuff could be consolidated, concealed or stored so there would be more space on the bathroom counter for things that could be used more frequently. Like an air hockey table.

I can’t imagine not having a daughter

Elise has been in Marble Falls today, shooting a wedding with Marc. Maly and I had the majority of the day all to ourselves and we had a great time. After she woke up from her nap, I changed wicked gag-inducing diaper. Once the new diaper was on, Maly looked up and me and said, “bye bye?”

To which I giggled and said, “Yes, we can go bye bye. We need to go bye bye to Best Buy to return a wireless adapter.”

She responded with, “Oosh?” Which means “shoes” in the Malyway. If we go bye bye, she knows she has to have her “oosh”. My kid is a shoe freak. A real blonde Imelda Marcos.

So we went to Best Buy to return a USB wireless adapter and to just walk around the store. We browsed the DVDs. When we got to the kid DVD section, Maly saw an Elmo DVD and excitedly announced, “Malmo! MALMO!!” I quickly pointed out to her that the Godfather trilogy was on sale. She wasn’t very interested.

After Best Buy we went to Toys ‘R’ Us. We perused the store for an hour and made out with a plush rocking horse and some Sesame Street bathtub finger paint.

After Toys ‘R’ Us we hit Wal*Mart for some deodorant, AA batteries and antacids. While Maly did that, I got myself some water balloons and bubble gum. Before we left, I found a cute little pink Texas Longhorns jersey.

We left Wal*Mart and had a quiet dinner together at Burger King. Before I knew it, it was 6:15. We needed to haul butt home to catch the UT vs. TCU game. We got home in time to find that the A&M vs. Fresno State game was in triple overtime. So we had some time to kill. I put Maly in her new jersey and watched her play with her new horse, Silver.

I love having a little daughter. It’s days like today that make me very, very thankful. It’s days like today that make me proud to be the daddy of a little girl that can bring so many smiles to so many faces. It’s days like today that make me realize that what’s really important in life is often overlooked.

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