Tinker or Beau

Generally I get Maly ready for bed every night. We’ll eat dinner, play for a while, take a bath, put on pajamas and read a book before it’s time to go to bed. A few weeks ago, after I read a book to Maly, she asked me to tell her a story. Usually midway through the book we’re reading, I go into retired mode. When she asked me to tell her a story, the request caught me a little off guard. She loves animals, so I thought I’d tell her a story about my childhood pets.

I told her about Beau and Tinker. When I was a young boy, we had a little beagle named Tinker, and a yellow lab named Beau. Those were my childhood companions – the dogs that every little boy should have growing up. We played all kinds of games together. They were my soldiers in my army. They were the monsters when I needed a foe. They were my travel companions when I needed to explore. They were my guardians when I needed help in the real world.

I don’t remember what all I told Maly about my companions, but I know I told her about how their lives ended. Tinker was shot on the side of the road and we had to have the vet put her down. Beau, who was an old yeller in every since of the word, was attacked by coyotes and his last proverbial leg wasn’t strong enough to hold him up and longer. Beau was the one that caught copperheads and rattlesnakes. He was the one who crushed armadillos in his jaws. He was the one who was always by my side.

Maly knows that her dad had two dogs as a boy. Beau and Tinker.

On another recent nightly bedtime ritual, asked Maly what she wanted to ask Santa to bring her for Christmas. She leaned up in her bed, carefully held up three fingers and said, “three kitten toys! Oh, and a doggy toy. Like Copper from Fox & Hound.” Well, Santa and I had actually been texting each other earlier that evening and he told me that Maly had too many kitten toys already, but the dog toy might not be a bad idea.

I picked up a little stuffed beagle toy from the local toy store a couple evenings later. I thought about getting her a stuffed Copper, but decided against it. I know the Disney empire is hurting and all, but I wanted to give her something that I picked out; something of a reflection of me and my childhood.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. I have learned two things this year: 1) When the child reaches the age of 3.5 years old, she gets the concept of Christmas morning gifts and 2) the child excitedly screaming, “I GOT A PUPPY DOG!!!” from the side of your bed on Christmas morning is one of the sweetest sounds I think I’ve heard since I heard my wife say, “I do.”

Over the past four days, Maly has had that little stuffed beagle closely in-tow. For the first couple days, she called her dog Tinker. Just yesterday, I was informed that the dog’s new name in Beau. Either way, I’m glad she likes it. I’ll be curious as to what the dog’s name is when I get home this evening.

I think I just might put a bug in her ear about getting a real dog. Someday.

How great concepts materialize

About a month ago John posted a link to an interesting video on the growing rate of national unemployment from January 2007 to October 2009:

[flv width=”400″ height=”300″]http://www.janicek.com/01dz/panhandle_iowa/Unemployment_rates_by_county.flv[/flv]

Then there was a conversation on Facebook:

And then we went into production, all within the same day:

A Sunday with the Zombie Eater

I just put Maly down for bed. I don’t know if it’s the time of year, my subconscious is telling me to cherish these moments right now, the fact that we had a a great day together, or PMS.

The weekend started out on somewhat of a low note. I got up extra early on Friday and booked it to work. I was the first person in the office and I was ready to get everything done and get out by noon so I could do some Christmas shopping. Well, that never happened. I’d expected this to be a slow week at the office and it’s been anything but. I got home around 6 p.m. that evening and had to keep working until 11 p.m., after having dinner and casual conversation with the Zombie Eater.

On Saturday I’d planned on getting things done around the house, like finishing the Christmas lights, cleaning the cars, putting stuff on craigslist — just getting things done. Instead I went with the girls to run errands and have lunch. We went to the post office, Home Depot, Bed, Bath, Bird Feeders, Bark Mulch, Tire, Lube & Beyond, the toy store, Lowe’s, and probably a few other places. That pretty much took up the better part of the afternoon and evening. I put Maly to bed and then we watched “Terminator XXIVO5 – Rebuttal of the Automated Teller Machine”, you know, the one where it’s man versus machine, things blow up, Guns ‘n’ Roses playing in the background, grrrrr, motorcycle, “I’ll be back” and the fate of the world is yet to be determined. Awesome movie.

This morning Elise and Maly went to church. I stayed home and worked on Christmas lights. After the girls got home, Elise informed me that she needed to clean the house because the housekeeper is coming tomorrow. To clean the house.

So I talked Maly into going on a walk. We walked our usual walk to the mailbox, which is a few blocks away, but this time, we just kept walking. We went exploring in the woods south of Slaughter. We threw rocks into the “Turkey Bowl” rain reservoir/ad-hoc skate park and we discussed the dangers of snakes that hide under rocks and logs. At one point, Maly said, “Daddy, will you hold my hand?” I obliged and asked why. She told me she was a little scared.

We walked around for 20 minutes more and came across a concrete wall. Maly walked up on the wall and fell a good three feet, flat on her face. She fought back the urge to cry, picked herself up and brushed herself off. After that, I knew she was probably tired, so we started heading back toward the house. We came across a huge branch that had fallen out of a big oak tree. We stopped and had a riveting conversation about ball moss. Then we started our trek back to the house. About half-way there, Maly told me she was tired, so I gave her a piggy back ride all the way back home.

Once we got home, I washed the cars and Elise and Maly went back to church for a story reading. By the time they got back, both cars were cleaned and the Christmas lights on the house were done. Elise went back to cleaning the house, so Maly and I went for a couple rides on the PlasmaCars, and then for another walk, this time just to the mailboxes to get yesterday’s mail.

Whenever Maly and I go on walks, I test her on her house number, street address, city, state and her mom and dad’s names. Tonight we talked about how stranger equals danger. She even asked, “So Daddy, are strangerous dangerous?”

Tonight before bed I told Maly that I was only going to go into the office a few days this week. I then went on to tell her that Daddy was going to the movies with friends tomorrow night. She excitedly asked if she could go with us. I told her that this movie was about aliens. I had to tiptoe around explaining what aliens were just before putting my baby to bed.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day today, even if I had the all the power in the world to plan it myself.

Thanksgiving 2009 roundup

Thanksgiving has again come and gone. This year my mom came up to spend the day with us. I got caught up with work late on Wednesday afternoon (office closed at 2, I don’t think I left until around 6). I came home and mom and Elise ran out to do some shopping. Maly excitedly told me she wanted to ride PlasmaCars, to which I had to oblige. Twenty minutes into our ride, I got a call from a client in L.A. so I had to go back to work (from home, of course). Maly is such a good girl when Elise or I am on the phone. Maly was quick to point out after I got off the phone, “Daddy, you’re not done with work? We’re supposed to ride PlasmaCars!”

Elise and mom came home a few hours later and we had a great roast that Elise had been slow-cookin’ in the crock pot all day. Then mom and I made desserts for the Thanksgiving dinner the next day. Mom made a custard pie, I made a pumpkin cheesecake.

On Turkey day we had a great meal over at the Heisterman’s with all the fixins. It was great to spend time over a meal with neighbors we like to consider family.

7 p.m. came quick and mom, Elise, Maly and I darted across the street so we (me) could watch the UT vs. A&M game. What a game that was. The Aggie’s put up a good fight and made for one of the most exciting games that I’ve watched this season.

Friday morning Elise, Maly and I loaded up and headed out for our annual trip to Okeene, Oklahoma for the Boeckman family Thanksgiving. Maly did fantastic in the car. It wasn’t until it started getting dark when she started getting antsy and wanted to know, “are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet?!?!”

We pulled up to the farmhouse right at 6 p.m., just in time for fried catfish. We visited with family for a few hours before Elise and I headed back to the swanky Okeene Motel while Maly stayed back and had a sleepover with Boppa and Gran.

Elise and I got up on Saturday morning and headed back to the farmhouse. We snacked (dumb idea before a Boeckman Thanksgiving feast), Maly played on the swing and I took some shots of the Boeckman farm. Then it was time to EAT! Turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed taters, green bean casserole… you know, the whole nine. Then we watched a pretty uneventful OU vs. OSU game, and a similarly uneventful Florida vs. FSU game, and then a nail biter of a Mizzou vs. Kansas game. Then some sort of tile game with numbers, I don’t remember the name of said game, but I pretty much sucked at it, so after I won a game, I declared my self Grand Champion of Awesome Tile Game and quickly retired.

On Sunday morning, we headed back to the farmhouse (Maly in-tow this time, she wanted to stay with us at the hotel on Saturday night) for breakfast, and then we hit the road back to Texas. The leg back to Texas is always the long one – everyone’s heading home on Sunday and the traffic in the Ft. Worth area is always congested. We made our way west of I-35, through the towns of Burleson, Joshua (yes!), Cleburne and Hico until we finally got into familiar territory, and then finally home!

Alas, another long, roady Thanksgiving weekend. Always good to spend time with family!