Maly’s dollhouse family

This year for Maly’s 3rd birthday we bought her a dollhouse. She LOVES her dollhouse. Every day she asks her mom or me if we want to play with her dollhouse with her. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we’re 30-somethings and we have bigger and better things to do. So we think, and we lie and rationalize with ourselves into thinking we’ve too many other important things to do. I always reach deep into my heart and remember those few days where there was total silence in the house, and how those days will be all too often in the not-to-distant future. If I’m in the worst of moods or have so much on my mind at the moment that the last thing that I have time to do is play with my daughter, I remind myself that there is nothing more important than being there for my family.

So, to genuinely play with my daughter and a dollhouse, I have to harness the child within and be sensitive to the fact that I have a girly-girl of a daughter who really wants to play with her dolls as dolls, not ninjas, soldiers or cyborgs from the future. I have resolved to the fact that I can play and engage in the masculine form. Maly has grown accustom and always hands me my “doll”, Mike I’m Married.

When we bought the dollhouse, it came with a few things like a table, chairs, high chairs for the kids, a swing, picnic table, grill and a slide. It also included a nuclear family; a clean-cut daddy, a loving mom, and two adorable twins, a boy and a girl. If I was going to have to play with dollhouse, it was quickly known that I would play the part of the dad. And I would barbecue with the included grill. I would use that grill a lot.

My character’s name was quickly christened “Mike”. After a few minutes of playing with Maly and her dollhouse the first time, I noticed Mike had a little wedding ring painted on his left hand. As play continued and we introduced a few Barbie dolls and other toys, Mike would introduce himself to whomever Maly was playing with as “Hi, I’m Mike, I’m married.” Which soon just became Mike’s name, Mike I’m Married. He still goes by just Mike in short form. In order to maintain Mike’s utmost manliness, I quickly created a short theme song (think Budweiser jingle/rock ‘n’ roll anthem sung in a raspy rocker voice):

“Mike I’m Married, I married Erica!
Mike I’m Married, I love America!”

So Mike I’m Married and his family have a pretty standard life. They also have quite an extended family and friends. Without going into much greater detail, here is an introduction to Mike’s family and friends:

Mike I'm Married's family
(Click photo to enlarge)

Starting at the top:
Lolly & Toony: They’re a couple mermaids that come by to play. They usually stay up on the top floor. They’re good people.
The Lemon Monster: He swings by and steals things and hides them. He has a high-pitched, sing-songy voice. He often frustrates Maly. I use him to help Maly understand that there are often people in society that will be frustrating and do wrong things. I try to teach her how to understand, cope and rationalize with these frustrating people.
Charlie and Emi Elizabeth: They’re a couple teenage girls that just kind of hang out, listen to music on their headphones by the lamp upstairs and play with the animals. They’re good folk as well and keep things tidy around the house and yard.
Tricky: It (haven’t determined sex yet) is the family canine. It barks a lot. Maly likes to play the part of Tricky quite often. Tricky has a litter of pups. The pups’ names change frequently.
Chip: Chip to me is just a worthless sack of shit. I don’t tell this to Maly, but dammit, Chip needs to get his lazy ass up and get a job. Or mow the yard. Something. Anything. He pretty much takes up the entire second floor of the house and doesn’t do a damn thing. He’s ALWAYS sleeping. That boy just ain’t right.
Barbara: She’s a Barbie from the old school. She wears a dress that Elise’s grandma made for her. She’s pretty conservative, likes to cook, dance and brush her hair. She’s an honest and humble homemaker. She’s extended family, I’m still not sure of origin.
Mary Ann: I sing or whistle Alice Cooper’s “Mary Ann” every time she makes an entrance. Elegant, beautiful, debonair, classy, LOVES to dance and garner compliments. She is a girly-girl. She is the daughter of Barbara. She was the present that Elise and I bought for Maly after she successfully pooped in the potty.
Erica: Mike I’m Married’s wife. Mike loves her to death, even though she has really bad hair. She’s a stay-at-home wife and keeps up the house and kids.
Ted: Mike and Erica’s son. He likes to swing and eat Slim Jims.
Lilly: Mike and Erica’s daughter. She kind of clingy and whiny. She likes to eat pizza and ride on the slide.
Mike I’m Married: The man of the estate. Mike drives downtown on his propane grill to his job in an office where he does a lot of emailing and is stressed a lot. He loves his family more than anything… Even Chip. And the dog.

UPDATE: I showed Maly the diagram of her family today and she was excited to see that everyone was documented. She even included a little commentary about Chip.

SoCal 2009

I’m sitting at the bar in my brother-in-law, Ron and sister, Lisa’s backyard, enjoying my final evening in gorgeous La Jolla. I love the climate in southern California, but it will take some serious convincing to ever get Elise to move out here. The week has blow by so quickly (what vacation doesn’t?!), but we’ve had a total blast, as we always do whenever we come out here to spend time with family.

The primary reason for coming to California was for Ron and Lisa’s wedding; and I’ll get to that soon. I want to try to recap everything we’ve done since we’ve been here, otherwise we’ll get back home tomorrow, get back into the hustle and bustle and this trip will quickly become yet another fading memory.

I worked most of the day last Tuesday. My mom drove into Austin around 4 p.m. and we were quickly shuttled off to the airport by our friend and neighbor Matt. Before heading to sunny Cali, we had to indulge in Salt Lick Barbecue at ABIA. Hopped on our plane and 3 hours later we were standing curbside at SDIA, waiting for my bro-in-law, Craig to pick us up. Twenty minute drive out to the house in Poway where took a load off and visited with Terri and Craig.

Wednesday morning, first thing we did was hop in the 88-degree pool and take a few runs on the slide (which is a great way to start a Wednesday morning!) We lounged around, swam, lounged, swam, and later cruised around the neighborhood in the Jeep golf cart. We fed the neighborhood horse some carrots. I left Poway around 11 a.m. and headed to the northern outskirts of San Diego to take clients out to lunch. We had a great lunch at Karl Strauss Brewing Company. After lunch we all headed back to their office for some brainstorming and Q&A. Always great to put faces to names when meeting clients in person. I left my client’s office around 3 p.m. and headed back to Poway. On the way, I happened upon an AT&T store, so I ducked in and upgraded to an iPhone 3GS. I got back to Poway in time to go swimming with the kids again. Craig and I smoked chicken breasts and grilled squash for dinner.

Thursday came early and was a busy day. We all loaded up and drove out to Pacific Beach for the wedding rehearsal at the ZLAC Rowing Club. After the rehearsal, Adam and I played football by the bay and happened upon a couple rays. After a couple hours, we headed over to World Famous on Pacific Beach for dinner. I wasn’t there for dinner, more there to wait on Ron to pick me up for the bachelor party.

After being at World Famous for an hour or so, Ron picked me up along with his best man, Jeff and Ron’s sister’s boyfriend, Dan. We drove a short while to Ron’s friend, Dave’s house for dinner, drinks and debauchery. Dave’s house, in a word: Amazing. Here’s a panoramic of the view from the rooftop.

Craig and I retired early from the bachelor party and headed back to Poway to call it a night.

On Friday, Craig and Terri had a few errands to run. The better part of the day was spent by us all setting up the house for the rehearsal dinner. Of course there were a few breaks to go swimming a couple times. Around 4 p.m., the guests started showing up. We had a great catered taco dinner complete with lemon, white chocolate and chocolate cakes. Later in the evening, I pulled my sister into the house and gave her my wedding gift to her. Earlier that week I had pulled out my dad’s old jewelry, which I’d inherited after he died. He had a simple gold band that looked like a wedding ring. He didn’t get a ring when he and my mom were married, so I assumed it was his wedding ring from his first marriage, which was to Elaine, my sisters’ mom. I asked my mom is she knew anything about the ring. She wasn’t sure if it was his wedding ring from his marriage to Elaine. So I put the ring on my right hand and wore it until this past Friday. During the rehearsal dinner, I pulled Elaine aside and asked her if she thought the ring was my dad’s from their marriage. She said she thought it was, keeping in mind this ring is probably 50-years-old.

So I told Lisa that I wanted her to have the ring. I took it off of my finger and put it into her hand. The look on her face was priceless. Lots of tears were shed and we hugged. I know she appreciated the gift and I’m really glad that I was able to give it to her.

The rest of the evening was spent breaking down tables and cleaning up after the party.

Saturday was the big wedding. The wedding was beautiful. My sisters looked gorgeous. Ron was very dapper. Gavin (Ron’s grandson) and Maly were adorable. The ceremony and reception went off without a hitch. Fun was had by all and I’m glad to have a new brother in the family and glad that Maly was able to be the gorgeous little flower girl.

Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation. The rehearsal and wedding were over and we just needed some time to hang out and do nothing. Grant and I worked on a new sailboat, we all swam and hung out in the hot tub, watched the boys race PlasmaCars down the big hill in front of the house (video coming soon), and ran a PlasmaCar down the waterslide (again, video coming soon).

On Monday we went to the Birch Aquarium where we met our Austinite friends Bradley, Susanna, Zachary, Grace and Caleb as well as Ron and Lisa. We saw lionfish, starfish, urchins and lobsters in a tidepool, jellyfish, more jellyfish, even more jellyfish, lots of indigenous aquatic life, a living shark embryo, sharks and stingrays, gorgeous sea dragons, potbelly seahorses, scorpion fish among other cool stuff.

We left the aquarium and had a great lunch with Ron and Lisa at the Cass Street Grill and Bakery. Then we were off to Ron and Lisa’s house in La Jolla. We made quick detour to catch my nephew Jason at two-a-day football practice at La Jolla High. He’s a freshman defensive lineman that I know will make me proud.

Shortly after getting to Ron and Lisa’s place, Lisa got a phone call to find that she got a job as a kindergarten/1st grade teacher, which was HUGE news. There was much rejoicing… two days prior, Lisa got married and then to find out she got a job that she’d been dying to get… doesn’t get much better than that! We were (and still are) so proud of and happy for her.

That night we celebrated by ordering a pizza from a local joint; the name escapes me but, holy crap, was that the best pizza ever!

Soon Tuesday was among us. We woke up early and started scurrying about the house. I was quick to find out that a few websites that I host were hacked, so I started “working”. Lisa had woken up at 3 a.m. and went to work getting her classroom at school setup. Mom & Elise started packing and helped clean the house. Ron had to go to work for an hour or so just to touch base and check in. It was a pretty stressful morning.

Ron came home and before we knew it, we were rushing out the door to head to the airport. We said our sweet goodbyes. The girls gave hugs and kisses to Ron and thanked him for the hospitality. I shook his hand, gave him a big hug and again welcomed him to the family. It was a sad farewell. I was last to enter the airport. Before I stepped foot inside, I turned west and took a deep breath in to collect the nice, dry, breezy and cool air of southern California before joining in the chaos.

The vacation came to an end. The whirlwind dissipated. Three hours later, traveling east by air, which always makes the weary traveler that much more weary, we found ourselves back in Austin. Humid, hot, sweaty, burnt grass abound.

Now we’re home, somewhat avoiding the imminent back-to-the-routine and silently reminiscing on the fair weather and the comfort of being with family and enjoying times with minimal worries.

I love southern California, probably more than my native Texas. I find comfort in knowing that we have family there who have told us on every previous visit that we’re welcome anytime. And I’ll gladly take ’em up on it.

Photos of Ron & Lisa’s wedding can be seen here.

Shoot! Big mess!

This past weekend my sisters and nephews were in town as they boys were finishing up their three weeks at Camp Longhorn. When my San Diego family is in Texas for any amount of time greater than 45 minutes, they must indulge in a Whataburger. Having heard just the word Whataburger over the course of the weekend, and not having patronized a local Whataburger restaurant in a couple years, we decided to go to Whataburger for dinner last night.

Whataburger hamburgers are great; fast food Texas-style burgers with an emphasis on mustard and onions. I opted for the double meat, double cheese bacon jalapeno burger, and just ask my gastro-intestinal system how good THAT was. My cholesterol will whole-heartedly concur.

The best part of dinner wasn’t the food, it was the drive home. Since we were out, indulging in unhealthy fast food, we let Maly have lemonade. Normally she only imbibes in either milk or water for all meals so lemonade was a definite treat.

This is really one of those “you just had to be there” moments. As we were driving home, Maly decided that she wanted to open her Whataburger cup so she could get some ice. We can only speculate as we weren’t actively watching her in her car seat, but we heard the plastic lid pop off the cup and the sound of large chunks of ice clunking against each other, then a split second of silence, and then the sound of ice hitting the car’s ceiling, window, seat and center console. We both knew the cup was empty of most liquid, so the sound of ice being flung about the car was somewhat laughable. But the best part was Maly, in a short, determined and frustrated sputter exclaim, “SHOOT! BIG MESS!”

We think she said “shoot!”