The look that nearly killed me

Elise left last night at 10:30 for Luling so she could get a hotel room and be ready bright and early for a photo shoot with Marc. I woke up bright-eyed today and did my usual morning ritual. I heard Maly playing in her crib a little before 8. Riley and I went into her room. Immediately she asked, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?”

I told her that Mommy was on a photo shoot and would be back tonight for dinner. I told her a couple jokes, played with Riley, made some funny faces and eventually got Maly into a really happy mood. I then picked her up out of her crib and we started our day. We changed a diaper, ate a banana and and a tangerine, and put on camo cargo pants and Maly’s favorite pink UT jersey.

Then we went back into her room and read her Gossi the Gossling book, which we’re using as a tool to learn how to share. It was then that Carla pulled into the driveway. The driveway can be seen in plain view from Maly’s room. Carla is our nanny that we used a few weeks ago when Elise had a week-long photo assignment. I said to Maly, “Look! Carla’s here!” Maly immediately stood up, about faced and threw her arms around my neck and commenced pouting.

I picked Maly up and we walked to the front door to let Carla in, Maly still clinging to me. I talked to Carla for a few minutes and then it was time for me to head out to work.

I tried to pass Maly over to Carla like I would to Elise. I found this first attempt to be rather awkward and difficult. This was a new experience for me as a dad. I’d never been the one to engage in the process of leaving my daughter with someone who wasn’t family or a close friend. Elise has experienced this quite a few times and has become quite astute in the technique of prying off latched-on offspring.

I tried to hand Maly to Carla again. Maly clenched to the back of my neck with her hands. I budged and reeled her back onto my chest. Finally the third time I got Maly far enough from me to where her arms were still outstreched toward me, still reaching for me while desperately not wanting herself and me to be parted. Carla jumped in, with apparent knowledge that this was my first time leaving my daughter with a sitter, and took Maly from me.

The moment I was just a couple feet away, I could see Maly in Carla’s arm. I immediately noticed her face. Her eyebrows sloped down, her bottom lip stuck out and made for the most heartbreaking frown while her eyes looked in my general direction, but as to not make direct eye contact and read, “Why would you EVER do something like this to me, Daddy???”

I will forever remember that look on my daughter’s face. As heartbreaking as it was to endure, it made me proud that I was needed.

Forced to start car shopping

Elise and Maly were setting off to go to the grocery store yesterday afternoon when Elise found that the Expedition wouldn’t start. I got up this morning and tried to start it because my being a man means that I can use my innate mechanical wherewithal to turn the key in the ignition to determine that the Expedition won’t start.

I, like any man, popped the hood and took a gander at things. Everything looked good. There was a cable over there, some spark plugs down there, battery was still in the same place where I last saw it. Yep, everything looked good.

So now I’m waiting on a tow truck to come pick it up and take it to the mechanic. The truck’s got 235,000 miles on it. It’s time to sell. Which means it’s time to buy. This next vehicle purchase is going to be for Elise. The last time we bought her a vehicle, it was her Jeep (which I’m now driving). She knew EXACTLY what she wanted which made vehicle shopping pretty easy. I don’t think she knows what she wants this go-around.

Assuming the tow truck gets here sometime this morning, I think we’re spending the day test driving cars.

Slow weekend

I made a mad dash to the grocery store after work on Friday to pick up steaks and other miscellany for Saturday’s dinner. I got home, started a fire in the fireplace, turned the TV to one of those digital music channels and started making a marinade for the steaks before Elise and Maly got back from swimming at the gym.

On Saturday we all loaded into the truck for an unusual day of reverse consumerism. We stopped at Target so Elise could return a bunch of stuff, then to Office Depot where we picked up a labeler, then to the HoPot to return some stuff, then to the grocery store and then finally home. Elise and I started prepping for dinner as Rob, Julie and the boys came over later that evening for steaks. I grilled five filet mignons out on the deck among of flurry of sirens and a helicopter that kept circling our neighborhood overhead. After dinner and about an hour more of the helicopter a sirens, I called 311. After inquiring about the helicopter, the operator asked if I lived on or near Via Dono Drive. I told her I didn’t know where that street was. She then asked on what street I lived. I told her. After a odd pause while she looked up my street, she then said, “It has been advised that you stay inside your house and keep all doors and windows locked. I’m sorry I cannot provide more detailed information at this moment.” Of course while she’s telling me this, I’m standing out on the deck. So I made a fast dash back into the house to tell everyone what the operator had told me.

So that left Rob and me to mentally prepare for the worst. Rob’s a huge gun enthusiast and I have a few firearms of my own. We were both ready to get all Red Dawn on the insurgents. After combing the media outlets, we couldn’t find any news of what was going on in our neighborhood. About an hour or so later, the Fenders walked back to their house two doors down. I stayed up watching TiVo’d episodes of Fight Quest until 3 a.m. I was subconsciously keeping myself up should something happen.

On Sunday morning we finally found out that a man a few streets over had barricaded himself in his house with a gun and SWAT was called out to the scene. It was reported that “the situation ended peacefully.” Whatever that means.

The girls and I were then off to Cabela’s. Maly conked out on the way there, kept snoozing in my arms as we entered the store and it took Elise and I both to wake her up so she could see the huge aquarium and all its fish and turtles. We walked the store for an hour or so. I picked up some jerky seasoning and curing salts and ogled over all of the other cool stuff that I wanted to buy. We had a late lunch at the Cabela’s restaurant. Elise had an ostrich sandwich and I had the 1/2 lb. buffalo burger with chipotle mayo and fried jalapeno slices (holy crap was that a good burger).

We then shopped camping gear and finally decided to leave before Maly unleashed holy terror due to only getting a 20 minute nap on the ride there.

We got back to the house and Maly and I hung out, watched the Chargers lose to the Patriats and eat dinner while Elise went shopping. I seasoned 4 lbs. of meat to be made into jerky. Elise got home while I was giving Maly a bath. So we put Maly to bed, watched a little TV and tried to watch Superbad on the Apple TV. Despite what Apple says, you cannot rent a movie in the iTunes Music Store and watch it on your Apple TV. So we sat on the couch and watched movie trailers on Apple TV and went to be early.

It was brought to my attention on Friday that we had Monday off for MLK day, so today is weekend day three. Maly woke up groggy, probably because it’s cold and rainy today. I packed the dehydrator with the meat I seasoned yesterday and have been making jerky all day. We’ve done a little finger painting, played with some Play Doh, fed the baby dolls, took one baby on a stroller ride all around the house, learned to say, “Daddy, mere!” which means that I am to follow Maly around the house while she pushes baby Gigi in the stroller, and got into trouble after sneaking into Daddy’s beef jerky before it’s done.

This evening we went to Target for diapers and then to dinner at Cypress Grill for their famous muffaletta’s. So it’s been nice to have a long weekend even after having some recent time off over the holidays – just hanging out with the girls.

Monthly Maly Letter: Month 21

Dear Maly,

You turned 21-months-old this week. During this past month you’ve seemed to become a fully functioning, self-reliant human being. You’re starting to embrace your independence and take on life’s little challenges; like how many times can we all watch Finding Nemo in a single day.

You LOVE the movie Finding Nemo. It wouldn’t be a normal day if we didn’t hear the pitter patter of your feet as you come running from the other side of the house while exclaiming, “Nemo. Nemo. Nemo. Nemo. NEMO! NEMO!! NEMO!!! NEEEEEEEEEEEMO!!!!!!!!”

What’s funny is that although every member of this household has seen Finding Nemo a combined time of four hundred thousand times, your mom and I still enjoy watching it. In fact, we’ve decided that if we ever provide you with a sibling, his or her name will probably be named Nemo. That way we’re pretty much guaranteed you’ll eventually get sick of Nemo.

We thought you were going to be an Elmo kid, hence us getting practically everything Elmo for you for Christmas. Elmo’s got nothing on Nemo in this household. Although I am a little partial to the Elmo cell phone that I got for you. This little phone let me download a recording of Elmo saying your name. But of course you have a very unique name, Elmo thinks you’re a little Asian girl. “Ha ha! Hello, Elmo speaking! Oh, I’m so glad to hear from you… May Lee!”

This month you learned how to get out of your crib. When this first happened, your mom and I were baffled. It wasn’t until recently that we were able to witness your escape technique. I must say, I am quite impressed.

Another feat you have accomplished is turning doorknobs and opening doors. Why, just the other evening I was taking care of some paper work when you just barged into the bathroom. You walked right up beside me, pointed at the toilet and proudly said, “Poop!” Not one of my proudest moments, but a moment at which I was relatively proud of you. And just so you know, next on your hit parade is learning how to use the toilet.

Something really cute that you started doing this month is calling you mom Mommy. Up until recently it had always been Mama. It just sounds so much cuter and endearing whenever you say Mommy.

If I had to guess, I’d venture to say that you now know 90% of the letters of the alphabet. We play our alphabet game during bath time. I pick up a letter and say, “Maly, what’s this?” To which you usually say the right letter. After a few minutes you invariably get bored and resort to body surfing or demanding that we watch NEEEEEEEEMO! again.

You’ve also become very astute with your colors. You know blue, green, red, pink, purple, white, brown, yellow, orange, silver, gold and black. “Blue cup”, “Green spoon”, “White truck”, “Red choo choo train”.

Recently you’ve become very much a Mommy’s girl. I’ll come home from work in the evenings, excited to see you and play with you, but you don’t really seem to care much that I’m home. You usually start in on your quasi-witching hour when I get home. Eventually you’ll warm up after much coaxing on my part. I’ll give you your bath, brush your teeth and put your pajamas on, but after that, you go back into Mommy mode. I’ve tried on a few occasions to put you to bed, but you scream and cry for your mommy! I think this has a large part to do with your mom recently taking on a job for the better part of the week where you were at home with a nanny all day.

It wasn’t until tonight when I was finally able to have to privilege of putting you to sleep. We had the Fenders over for dinner and we all stayed up late. It was too late to take a bath, so I brushed your teeth and we walked into your room. You asked to read a book, so we read one book. You wanted to read another book, so you walked to the bookshelf and got the picture book that you and I would always read before I would put you to bed. After we finished that book, I told you it was time for night night. You grabbed Baby Gigi and I picked you up, ready to put you to bed. We went into the kitchen to give your mom a kiss goodnight. We walked back to your room and I put you in your crib. You had me put Gigi at the foot of your crib with Mickey, your teddy bear, bunny, baby and bear. Then you did something that I’ve only heard of. After I kissed my hand, put the kiss on your forehead and told you I loved you, you outstretched your arm and held your palm out to me. I knew to kiss your palm as this is Mommy’s and your ritual. I dutifully kissed your palm. You then outstretched your other arm and presented me with your palm, which I kissed as well.

That moment made me feel good. It felt like you had let me back into the club.

I’m so proud of you and so thankful that you’re my daughter. I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re getting into when they become a parent. You’ve made it for a blessed ride and I want you to know that I’m thankful for everything that you’ve taught me so far. I hope I’m doing the best to return that favor.

I love you, Sugar.



The #1 way that a web hosting company can screw up

I received an email from Dreamhost this morning stating:

This is just a notice that your DreamHost Account has a balance of $208.95 (including any charges not
due until 2009-01-24), with $208.95 due (since 2008-12-24).

You also have $189.05 past due (owed since 2008-11-24), and if
by 2009-01-24 you do not pay at least the $189.05 part, your
account will be automatically suspended until payment is received.


We have the last payment on this account to be $9.95 on 2007-12-24 00:18:41.

Since then the following charges have been made to the account:

2008-01-04 – $9.95 for “Domain Registrations” through 2009-01-11.
2008-01-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-02-23.
2008-02-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-03-23.
2008-03-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-04-23.
2008-03-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-04-23.
2008-04-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-05-23.
2008-05-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-06-23.
2008-05-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-06-23.
2008-06-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-07-23.
2008-06-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-07-23.
2008-06-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-07-23.
2008-06-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-07-23.
2008-07-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-08-23.
2008-08-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-09-23.
2008-08-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-09-23.
2008-09-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-10-23.
2008-10-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-11-23.
2008-11-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-12-23.
2008-11-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2008-12-23.
2008-12-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2009-01-23.
2008-12-24 – $9.95 for “My Strictly Business SALE!” through 2009-01-23.

After my “what the hell is going on?” email to their billing department bounced, I checked the Dreamhost Status blog to find their Billing Issues post.

Customers’ credit cards were charged, bank accounts were drafted (many were over-drafted). This is going to be very, very bad for Dreamhost. I’ll be curious to see how they redeem themselves. I think at least a free year of hosting services would be a decent start.

HDTV and the suckiness thus far

It’s 2:00 p.m. as I write this. 2:00 p.m. Keep that time in mind.

Elise and I got a HDTV for Christmas this year. It’s a nice TV, too. And we were really happy to get it. We brought it home and I got it all hooked up with our newly acquired HDTV digital cable from Time Warner. I quickly realized that I couldn’t get an HD signal through our existing TiVo box unit. The next day I did a little research and decided that I needed to get us a HD TiVo box. I decided that I was going to stop at Best Buy on the way home from work. But before doing so, I called TiVo to ask if there was anything I needed to do with my account if I was going to get the HD box. They said, “No. Everything will be the same. We’ll just charge you a one-time $199 fee to transfer your lifetime TiVo membership.” I quickly pointed out that that just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. I wasn’t about to pay $199 to keep something that I already paid $300 for in the first place 3 years ago. The rebuttal I received was along the lines of, “Ummm, well, I’m really sorry, sir.” So I asked to speak to someone else. My case was escalated to a client services representative. I calmly and politely plead my case and explained that I felt as if I was being treated unfairly. She concurred and waived the transfer fee.

Damn skippy. TiVo was about to have themselves a pissed off customer. Now I’m happy. Sort of.

During my research and upon purchasing the TiVo, I learned that you have to have CableCARDs for your HD TiVo box. Basically a CableCARD is like a de-scrambler that is inserted into the TiVo box and does away with the digital cable set-top box. I then called Time Warner and scheduled a technician to come out to get my old digital cable box and install the CableCARDs. I, being the lay person that I am, am not qualified to insert these CableCARDs into the clearly marked slots on the front of the TiVo box that says, in cryptic cable technician language, “INSERT CABLECARDS HERE”.

So I called Time Warner a week ago to have a technician come out today to install the CableCARDs. In the meantime, we’ve been without TiVo. We have learned in the past days that we sadly rely on TiVo more than we had realized. We actually had to watch our television shows at their regularly scheduled times. This meant that we heard, on more than one occasion a conversation like this:

“I’m going to go give our loving offspring a bath.”

“Um, the season premiere of The Apprentice comes on in like 8 minutes!”


“She doesn’t need a bath this week.”

So a technician was supposed to be here between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. today. I called Time Warner at noon to let them know that no one had showed to install these gem nugget CableCARDs. They told me someone would be calling me back within 15 minutes. An hour later I called back to let them know that still no one had showed up or called.

It is now 2:15 p.m. and I just received a call that the technician is on the way.

2:19. Cable guy is here. And there is much rejoicing as there will now be a clean child.

Year-end wrap-up

The girls and I spent Christmas at Mom’s this year. Christmas morning was a blast with Maly and, of course, the day was all about her. I filmed the majority of the morning and as all of the present opening was coming to an end, I thought, “Awesome! I have 53 minutes of Christmas morning present opening on film in HD!” Only to find out later when we watched what I had filmed that the majority of what I filmed was the side of my leg, the couch’s armrest or the bar stool in the kitchen. When I thought I had hit the record button, I was actually hitting pause.

Later that afternoon my uncle J.L. drove out to Mom’s house and shortly after, my other uncle Bill and cousins Shantel and Joshua came out. Mom, Elise and I made Christmas dinner and the seven of us sat down for a nice meal before the uncles and cousins headed back to the Houston area.

The girls and I headed back to Austin on Wednesday afternoon in time to put away most of the Christmas presents, have dinner and go to bed.

I worked on Thursday and Friday amid a virtually dead office as most folks took the entire week off.

The weekend was upon us again soon. Mom drove up to our house to watch Maly while Elise and I went to San Antonio for Adrian and Sarah’s rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal went well and dinner was great (I’ve forgotten the name of the restaurant at which we ate… something Oyster Bar). A few of us stayed late at the bar and before we knew it, it was pushing midnight. Elise and I left and got back to our house in Austin around 1 a.m.

On Sunday we all got up and ate breakfast. Mom, Maly and I went to the AT&T store to get the cell phone that we gave to Mom activated. Then we went to HEB for lunch and to get some eggs, milk, yadah yadah.

We got home in time for Elise and I to head out for San Antonio again for the big wedding. All went well; the ceremony and reception were both great and we now have a Mr. and Mrs. Adrian Gutierrez. The reception winded down around 11 p.m. Elise and I helped load gifts and decorations before we headed back to Austin. We used my newly acquired GPS, affectionately named Claudine, that Elise’s parents gave me for Christmas to navigate our way home by way of 281. We were driving my mom’s car which makes for very easy speeding. Traveling at 85 mph down a country rode, it wasn’t until it was about 30 feet in front of us when we both saw the imminent collision we were about to have with a deer. I swerved with break-neck speed and we barely missed the deer. For a split second I had come to terms with the fact that we were probably going to flip the car and either both be seriously injured or worse, die. Thankfully we were driving Mom’s car, so it stuck to the road and we remained unscathed. Elise then politely suggested that I didn’t have to drive so GOD DAMN FAST!!!

Hearts still aflutter, we stopped at a fireworks stand out in the middle of nowhere and loaded up on explosives for New Year’s eve. We arrived safely home and went to bed around 2 a.m.

Mom left New Year’s eve morning. I went to the grocery store and later made fennel gruyer potatoes gratin. Later that evening we all loaded up and went over to Marc and Cyndi’s to celebrate bringing in the New Year. We had an awesome pot luck dinner and vegged around and chatted while the kids tore up the Swendner house. Around 11 p.m. we went out onto the golf course where Chris and I shot off the fireworks that Elise and I brought. The New Year was among us without anyone’s knowledge as we were all outside in the cold, watching Chris’s and my amateur fireworks display.

We all went back inside and everyone yucked it up while yours truly conked out on the couch. At around 3 a.m., I was awoken by camera flashes and giggles. Seems there is no rest for the wicked.

So we had a great Christmas and New Year this year. We hope yours was as well.

New Years Queen