csberry: (pumaman)
A couple of weekends ago, my little brother got married. Mike/Shortlegs married Amanda Rose on Nov 22, 2014 at the Church of the Assumption in Nashville's historic Germantown neighborhood.

I'd rather get this posted now kinda dirty than never post it because I'm busy trying to put everything in some sort of laid-out prose form...so prepare yourself for bullets!

* Mike asked me to be his best man, which meant I would be expected to provide a toast/speech at the rehearsal dinner on Friday night and at the wedding reception on Saturday evening. I tossed ideas around in my head for a while, but didn't settle on the theme for each toast until a couple of days beforehand. The bulk of both toasts were cobbled out and set in order within 24 hours of my giving them. I was also in charge of the wedding rings and I lost neither ring.

* The rehearsal dinner was at Husk in SoBro(?) (South of Broadway in downtown, just inside the interstate inner-loop) where we had fancy rustic food in their "stable" behind the main building. My toast during the dinner quickly noted that I don't have blackmail stories to share about Amanda, I know Mike keeps things to himself so I shouldn't share his blackmail material, so I was thus forced to talk about myself. I talked about how this marriage was killing the vicarious bachelor life I've lived through Mike and our bachelor weekends when I would visit. Those bachelor weekends ended with my coming home to family. Now, M&A were creating their own home...and in a dozen years when JD and I are empty nesters, M&A could live vicarious empty-nester lives through us.

* One of the bridesmaids shared the story of "Charlie." During her college years, Amanda worked out the qualities of her ideal man and gave that ideal man the "Charlie" moniker. For years, when the bridesmaid would talk to Amanda about who she was dating, she would ask if the guy was Charlie. Amanda never felt compelled to say yes. That is, until she met Mike/Ben. When the bridesmaid talked to Amanda after her first date with Mike, Amanda quickly volunteered that he was the "Charlie" she had been searching for.

* JD had a lot of wine to drink and got more drunk than I've seen her in a few years. She just couldn't stop herself from telling everyone how drunk she was.

* Woke up the morning of the wedding feeling discombobulated with a nagging feeling that I had or was about to drop a ball. It was about then that I got a text message from Mike about just bringing my wedding clothes instead of wearing them to lunch. Yup, 45 minutes later I was picked up from the hotel and spent the rest of the day with the groom, his men, and photographers. We had lunch at BLVD (I had a hot chicken sandwich, a goblet of Chimay white, and a glass of Yazoo's Dos Perros) and then headed to the bed & breakfast to get changed in the groom's suite.

* If there was a wedding tradition or superstition, Amanda tried to use them all in their favor. So, the first time M&A saw each other on their wedding day was when she appeared at the door at the back of the sanctuary. I know she was starting to cry before coming down. Since I was behind Mike for much of the time, I will take the maids' comments of Mike also crying on face value.

* The reception allowed me to enjoy more Yazoo beer by having Dos Perros available. Would have rocked if the hefe or Sly Rye Porter were available...

* The wedding reception toast I gave focused on Mike's multiple names and titles. Despite being named "Benjamin Michael Berry," my parents decided to call him "Mike." First he was my baby brother (insert memories here), then he was by little brother (insert memories here), before coming my teen brother (insert memories here) and getting the nickname of "Shortlegs" from Dad. At Auburn, Mike became Benjamin, then Benji, and finally Ben. He was an architect student, then became a landscape architect. Now he was taking on a new title - "Husband" - and so a new name - "Charlie" - was also at hand. I wished them well as Mike/Michael/Shortlegs/Ben/Benji/Benjamin continues to evolve into newer and greater titles.

* It was really good to see most of the relatives come to the wedding. There were some kids of one of my cousins that didn't come, but I got to see some of the Auburn wing of the family that I haven't seen in a decade or so.

* The Berry clan danced. And danced. I think Calvin logged the most time on the dance floor. I was second, Harper and JD were close at third, and Nigel was just barely behind them since he seemed the least certain on how to dance. I did the splits twice and came home with a baseball-sized bruise on the inside of my right knee from one or both of those splits. My FIL, Andy, took quite a bit of video of us all dancing. Once I've edited the video to compensate for his flipping the phone landscape after starting recording in portrait, I'll post a link.

* Amanda's family are Italian by heritage, so there were some Italian songs thrown into the mix. As things were winding down, the DJ asked for all of the Italians to get up on the dance floor. While that was going on, I sat in my seat pondering what ethnicity could possibly be used for my family. We're pretty darn "Southern" with one great-grandmother that was French and another that was Cherokee. I didn't think of the obvious, until the song was over and the DJ segued into "Sweet Home Alabama." It was then that my entire, extended family got out on the dance floor. Folks who wouldn't come to the floor for "The Twist" or any other song for the past 3 hours leapt from their tables and waved their hands above their heads.

* Danced so much at the reception, I found myself STARVED when we got back to the hotel. Thankfully, Hattie B's Hot Chicken was basically right across the street, so I got some hot tenders and tried Turtle Anarchy's Portly Stout while I waited for my order to be done.
csberry: (pumaman)
Just realized this morning that I hadn't posted in LJ since February.

Most of that is due to my putting the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums thing on hold for a bit. I had been using Rhapsody to listen to the various albums on the list. Well, early in March JD and I were frustrated that only one of us could listen to Rhapsody at a time on mobile devices. I decided to go to the site and see if that was a feature I wasn't paying for or if there was an issue with my subscription. While there, I discovered that I was paying the higher of the two packages. I checked out the features for the one listed for $5 less each month and it seemed to have the same features I was paying for. So, I decided to look at the features for the Premium Plus program I was paying for. There was nothing - NOTHING - on Rhapsody's site about Premier Plus. I then started this horrific dance with support via phone, email, and FB trying to find out what the deal was. Essentially, they had to make a change to compete with the price/features offered by the competition. So, several months ago, they changed the $10 plan to be exactly like the competition...and they eliminated my $15 plan from new signups. Alas, the change in features offered meant the $10 plan and $15 plan had ONE difference - on the $15 plan, you could have more than one mp3 player (unlimited phones and tablets). In my case, that difference meant squat because I didn't use an mp3 for Rhapsody, let alone need to pay an additional $5 for more than one mp3 player. Through the entire process, the customer service folks were unsympathetic asses that attempted to avoid clearly stating the differences between the $10 and $15 plans and they scoffed at my concerns about how subscribers were not notified of the changes in subscriptions. I am no longer giving Rhapsody any of my money. They lost me for life.

I have been very lazy about searching for an alternate source of the Rolling Stone albums. I decided to go with Spotify, but never have my wallet around when I think about signing up. Along with that, I started using TuneIn Radio a lot on my phone. I've been listening a lot to Lightning 100 in Nashville; Mesquite, TX's school system's own KEOM (great playlist of 1970s pop...DJed by teenagers); B'ham-based Substrate Radio (in particular, Blood on the Knobs on Tuesday nights); 'HFS in Baltimore; and various chill/acidjazz/ambient stations that come up in searches.


In other news...

* For the first time in my life, I essentially broke even on taxes this year. I have mixed emotions about this. Glad I got all my money with paychecks, but that burst of cash early in the year has been a blessing in the past.

* The top reason why I am writing this post is because I'm dodging work. I built several pages with information about a service a business partner is rolling out soon. I did the construction on the development site several months ago. Long enough ago, that I forgot I had work in progress on the development site and had the db wiped for the sake of having a more current backup of the production site. Yesterday evening when I went to check the info on the pages I had previous constructed, I discovered my flub. This morning I verified that there was no way to recover what had been lost. I'm pissed about my being forgetful about that progress sitting on the site. I've made some attempt to rebuild those pages today, but I've wasted time staring at the screen each time I try to think of what to write there. I finished some work, looked it over, and decided that I need to go back "later" to look at it. Will "later" be in an hour or so? Will "later" be pushed until tomorrow and I get a day away for more emotional recovery?

* Calvin has been seeing an occupational therapist for his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) this year. Liz Hamm, who I've known since high school, is his therapist. She and I got together for lunch during the holiday season last year because we hadn't seen each other in a while. When I talked about Calvin's condition and quirks, Liz chimed in to explain some of those as being his SPD and things that Calvin could do to deal with it. I called her later to get the ball rolling to have Calvin see her for therapy. The boy loves it so much and it has been making a fantastic difference in his attitude and stress levels. He is understanding his body more and learning how to cope with situations that would previously devastate him and require much emotional support from JD and/or myself. The fact we drive 45 minutes to Guntersville and then back each Tuesday is well worth the progress Calvin has seen.

* Harper's imagination runs away with her quite a bit. One day I'll be very grateful if this feeds her creative juices for writing, drawing, or whatever. At this time, however, much of her imagination manifests itself in fear. Her mind takes what people say too literally. When a friend of hers makes a hyperbolic verbal threat such as "I'll beat/kill/stab/punch you" or play acts some villainous role, her brain is visualizing all of it. To her, those threats have just happened, for real, in her mind. I was reminded of this the other day when I was talking to her about preparing my dinner and she asked what meat was. My explanation had her imagining her own skin getting peeled and someone pulling her muscles/meat off of her bones. The rest of that car ride was really sad and emotional.

* Nigel would eat gummies for 2 of his three meals of the day, if he could (flatbread and curry ketchup with a bowl of homemade beef jerky would be the third meal). At this time, his primary focus is on online gaming and trying to meet up in person with the people he's met online. He has a friend in Washington state that he is dying to hang out with. Every time there is a Minecraft convention in the world, he lets us know. He loves to travel and is pushing for us to work on a vacation late this summer to either the family house in Panama City Beach or attend the Rethinking Everything conference in Little Rock. At this time, we are also toying around with the idea of going to either PAXSouth in Texas in January2015 or PAXEast in Boston in April2015. This has prompted Nigel spending some time plotting out the cost of air, train, or car travel to those locations and what stops we might make to or from those conventions.

* Jennifer's interest in aromatherapy has been invigorated again. Yes, this time it escalated to numerous textbooks...that she then took copious notes from and drew up posters and diagrams to help her learn the material. She has also spent the past couple of months looking into certifications - what kind to get or even if any of the certifications are really meaningful or required for what she would like to do. Because of the Attachment Parenting, the natural child-birthing, and the general granola social circles she's come in contact with in Huntsville, she's finding an interested market in the items she has an interest in mixing and making. She made some items for Christmas gifts and proceeded to have those people or their friends offer money for Jen to make more.
csberry: (pumaman)
Earlier this year, JD and I found out about an opportunity available for us to get discounted tickets to Disney World during the week in November that contains Nigel's and Harper's birth days. With the discounts involved, some financial shuffling, and some Disney gift cards sent our direction, we were able to afford this trip.
The trip details back here. )
csberry: (bigmclargehuge)
No, don't worry, you haven't missed some news about JD and I. Last week was the local Cub Scout day camp. JD volunteered to work and both of the boys were there. They needed to be at the park by 7:15am and were there until around 4pm each afternoon. This was a huge thing for the three of them to do and I'm so proud of them for doing the whole week.

For those of you that don't know, we homeschool (actually, we belong to a sub-group of homeschoolers called "unschoolers," where the educating of our kids is nearly entirely led by their interests and not a curriculum). So, none of my kids have a school routine in any way; they wake when they want, they play when they want, they eat when they want. Other than the heat and being away from his computer all day, Nigel's biggest complaint was the regimentation of time; he really got annoyed when "we do certain things at certain times each day. *sigh*"

While they were off at camp every day, I was at home alone with Harper. From when she woke up until 5pm, it was just the two of us in the house. I had crammed on work the week before, so I was fairly guilt-free on how little work I was getting accomplished. I helped deal with a few urgent items, but otherwise spent my days playing with Harper and doing errands/chores. The house was cleaner at the end of the week than it was in the beginning.

I now have the sidewalk to the front porch and driveway pressure washed practically white. Harper kept herself entertained while I sprayed the cement by riding her bike back and forth through the mist. When I'd finish up the for day, I'd shut off the motor and we'd have a water fight to help get the debris washed off my arms and legs.

And Harper got a week of complete one-on-one time with someone. She didn't have to wait in line behind her brothers for a while. The amount of spontaneous hugs and kisses I get from the girl definitely grew a great deal as the week went along.
csberry: (Default)
Whether we're talking national politics or inter-personal relationships, I do worry quite a bit about how fractured we can be on various scales of "society" when it comes to voicing and supporting our choices/opinions and the effort we place on understanding others' choices/opinions. That is a big enough concern, let alone going the next step of actually taking the time and effort to compromise and come to some sort of agreement on things. It is so easy (and lazy) to isolate ourselves in our own world where we surround ourselves only by like-minded people. Is it within our collective ability to think outside of our own opinions and put forth the brainpower and communication necessary to find common points and overcome the differences so we can get along together?

I just keep noticing so many instances lately where those that disagree or dislike something instantly choose the isolating or aggressive (reporting to police, personal attacking, PR/political ploys) option in a situation rather than working with the person of a differing stance to come to a mutual agreement or understanding. I'm tired of seeing people paint those that disagree with them as evil or stupid. I can tolerate people of opposing positions a lot better than I can people that are intolerable.
csberry: (normal completely different)
Over the course of the summer, our household changed food habits quite a bit. JD has been making a good deal of effort to drastically cut the amount of processed food we buy and consume. There is some amount of replacing Factory Brand Cookie Product with Aunt Trudy's All Natural Carbon-Neutral Cookies, but a lot of it is doing homemade cookies from scratch instead.

She's been drinking smoothies with greens blended in for a while, but she has also increased the amount of vegetables we eat...and fresh veggies, too, not just more canned stuff. One of us hits the downtown farmer's market each Thursday for local meat, veggies, and fruit. We've had some of the largest leaves of kale that dwarf anything we've seen at Earth Fare or Publix. Oh, and the kale. Yes, I've eaten some very bitter kale...but I really enjoy it in stir fry and as "kale chips" (lightly oil and sprinkle with sea/kosher salt, bake in the oven until crispy). I used to enjoy occasionally buying up a bunch of fruit and binging for a week. Now, it is uncommon to not have several fruit and veggie snacking options. We've been borrowing JD's parents' food dehydrator so much lately that I think it's likely we'll be getting one for Christmas this year. Feel guilty for keeping it so much, but I love the dried apples, banana bread chips, and beef jerky.

My biggest food addiction lately has been peanut butter banana smoothie popsicles. The kids have been making a bunch of apple juice popsicles for themselves. These have been nice treats with the heat of the past couple of months.
csberry: (DonnaOMG)
Last Wednesday morning I was up early because the weather radio was sending out alerts like crazy overnight and throughout the day. Things were seemingly going well. None of the tornadoes seemed aimed for the south side of town. They were all going to the north of us or really far south.

But you don't have to get hit directly to be affected. Around 5:20pm last Wednesday, a storm/tornado finally made a big, wide-reaching impact. The line of external power to the local nuclear plant and the three main lines that run from the plant to the various cities of North Alabama were knocked out. As in...the HUGE metal towers were now scrap. Essentially power between Florence (in NW AL) all the way across the northern portion of the state to the Georgia border was knocked out. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) would have to completely rebuild the towers for those three feed lines before anyone in the north portion of the state could get power.

There was one exception to this. A town just north of the plant (for some reason) has a direct power link to the plant and their electricity was still flowing. Come Thursday, Athens, Alabama was the hub of emergency commerce. It was the only city that citizens of Huntsville, Decatur, and their surrounding metro areas could go for gas and other supplies.

On Thursday, JD and I weren't certain how long the power was going to be off. What we learned via FB and the radio was it would be somewhere between 2 and 7 days before TVA could build replacement towers to send power to the cities and then have the power restored to our house. We decided to go ahead and trash all of the food that we didn't think we could keep cool or wouldn't otherwise use in the next 3 days. We threw as much of the meat and other frozen items we could into a cooler, packed up suitcases with 4 or 5 days worth of clothes, and headed to JD's parents' house. They didn't have power, but they have a gas stove and a propane grill. Thursday was spent making that move and doing our best to make certain nothing was on or going to spoil or stink if we were out of our house for 3+ days.

My fil and I were already scheduled to attend a learning conference in Nashville on Saturday. I had planned on staying Friday night with my brother. With the power outage, my fil decided that he was willing to pay for two hotel rooms for a couple of nights so we could all go to Nashville. On Friday morning, a couple of nearby gas stations got generators and were pumping gas...for those willing to wait 45+ minutes in line. I ensured I had enough gas to get into TN and returned home to pack up the family.

We spent Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon in Nashville. Shortlegs got to see us for a few hours each day we were there. While I and my fil were at the conference on Saturday, JD and my mil took the kids to the zoo. On Sunday, we visited the kids science center. We returned to Huntsville just before sunset on Sunday. News was that power from TVA was starting to flow and that it should be available to residences some time Tuesday afternoon.

However...around 9pm, the power came on at my in-law's house. Yeah, it was quite a surprise and we kept expecting the power to go back off. But it didn't. As I lay on the floor browsing the internet Sunday night, I started to see little announcements that the president was planning on addressing America on TV. It didn't take long for word that it was an announcement of Osama Bin Laden's death to get out. I walked to the steps, saw my in-laws were in bed reading and let them know of the situation. My fil came downstairs and joined me in waiting for and then watching the president's announcement. Sunday was quite an adventure.

On Monday morning, we packed everything up of ours and headed for the house. After dealing with a faulty outlet that kept the circuit for both the kitchen fridge and the computers/modem in the "dining room," things started to slip into a minor task of putting away everything we brought back and doing some minor straightening.

Utilities and the city have been asking for folks to conserve water and energy as everything gets running again, so I have yet to do laundry, but otherwise have the house back to normal. One thing that happened during the power outage was that I pulled out the Settlers of Catan game I got for Christmas. JD bought it for me after reading about it via some of her friends. Thankfully, the boys were interested in playing and then completely got into the game. The only caveat being that the boys don't have the attention span for a full game yet, so they end up taking turns playing one player every few minutes. But I got to play the game 3 or 4 times in a couple of days.
csberry: (bigmclargehuge)
Our family spent April 9-14 down in Orlando with the great bulk of the time spent on Walt Disney World. The flight down was the first flight for Nigel and Harper. They both took the time in the planes in stride and had no issues. My brother, Mike, flew in to Orlando just 30 minutes after we arrived, but he had to leave on Tuesday morning.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge )
Epcot )
Magic Kingdom )
Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure )
Disney's Hollywood Studios )
Animal Kingdom )
Misc. Info and Advice )
csberry: (Santa)
JD and I were up until around 1:30am being Santa (eat some cookies, discard some of the deer food on the porch, open/assemble/display a selection of presents in the living room). Thankfully, the kids slept in. Calvin didn't wake up until around 7:30am and we were all huddled in the living room shortly thereafter. As JD and the kids were attacking their stockings, I decided to look outside. SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! Not only was some on the ground, but it was falling in thick batches. Convinced the snow was not going to last, we sped through the kids doing their stockings, playing with what Santa set up, and opening one present each. JD's dad drove over the mountain to take the kids to their house. As soon as JD and I were loaded up, we'd help them move the whole crew to my parents' house. Thankfully, the snow let up as we crossed the mountain with JD's car loaded with presents and a suitcase with clothes for everyone...JUST IN CASE.

Mom and Dad were blessed by the contractors working on their kitchen. Just the day before, the guys installed all of the appliances (minus fridge) and tested that they worked. Mom was able to prepare food for all of us using more than the hot plate and microwave they've been using in the dining room for the past month. She was go pleased that we could all come over, see the progress on the kitchen, and have plenty of yummy food to eat.

The kids, of course, raked in a huge collection of loot. Harper's big presents were some dolls, a big stuffed dog with a metal frame so she and the boys can straddle and sit on the dog, and some books. Nigel's desire for a pet has been temporarily satisfied by his getting a Roborover robot, a pet robot dinosaur (Cruncher), and a membership to Club Penguin (Disney's penguin-oriented kiddie site - think Second Life or WoW for kids). Calvin finally got a Nintendo DS along with a collection of games, a couple of mega-Bakugan figures, and some board games.

After the kids opened their presents, we all took a break for lunch and socializing. I took the kids outside to play in the even deeper snow. Mom and Dad have just enough slope for some sledding by the kids. The kids and I had snowball fights. JD came out and got involved in the snowball fights and then lead them in creating a couple of snowmen.

After putting dry clothes on and warming up, it was time to let the kids veg in front of the TV with some food while the adults had their turn for presents.

As I mentioned in the previous post, JD got a Le Crueset Dutch oven that will certainly be used today for cooking up some red beans and rice. She also received several pairs of flannel pajamas and gift cards for clothes shopping. JD and I were both given a new crockpot to replace our recently busted one, new phones for the house, AND a new Canon printer. I have already read the transportation policy book Shortlegs gave me. The other treasure of a book I got from my brother was one filled with historic and recent maps of subway systems around the world. My parents gave me the gift of music - a couple of mix tapes of 60's music, $30 iTunes cards, and a gift certificate for Vertical House Records in Lowe Mill for me to stock up on vinyl. JD bought me a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver pen.

The hardest part of the day was getting everyone in the car at sunset to get over the mountain before the roads could ice over too much.
csberry: (Santa)
I plan on doing a post with details, but this is here just in case I forget to do that. We woke up to snow in the air AND accumulating on the ground. I got orange Chucks, a sonic screwdriver, and a great book of (historic and current) maps/diagrams of various subway systems from around the world. I am such a map geek.

Harper is currently straddling the back of her big stuffed dog while watching TV. Nigel got a robotic pet dino that is the coolest toy in the world for a kid begging for a pet. Calvin now has his own DS, so Nigel shouldn't have Calvin begging to borrow his any more. And I am eagerly awaiting the meals that JD will make in our new crockpot and her new Le Crueset Dutch oven.
csberry: (Default)
The daily routine during the week fell roughly along these lines:

7:30am - alarm goes off
8:00am - actually get up
sometime between 8:30-9:30am - head to the family house
The rest of the morning would be spent getting ready for the pool, going to the pool, and changing out of pool stuff.
Noonish - Lunch
Late Afternoon/Early Evening - go to beach or pool
7pm - Dinner
10pm - return to rental house for quiet and relaxation
Midnight - fall asleep

The big exception was on Wednesday when everyone except for Andy and Harper went to Shipwreck Island water park. We all had a blast this year! The boys were adventurous enough to do some of the rides outside of the kiddie area; which made it much easier for the adults that wanted to do those things to do 'em without sticking one person with a horde of kids. Everyone went home with at least one hot, pink patch of skin on their body so Thursday was mostly an indoor day for the kids. We waited until sunset before going to the pool.

Our timing was very lucky. It wasn't until Saturday morning as we were leaving that there was any news of oil located in the area. Apparently, there were a few tarballs found on the western beaches (our place is located on the far east end next to the state park and the bay).

The decision to only take one day to return to Huntsville paid off nicely. Calvin got a tiny bit more of a dose of Dramamine, which let him get a 20 minute nap through south Alabama. We stopped at noon on the south side of Ft. Rucker. Lunch was the buffet at Pizza Hut. This was followed by a trip on post to visit the Army Aviation Museum just inside the gate. IT WAS GREAT! The building is packed with equipment from early flight to some recent aircraft. The kids spent a good deal of time playing inside a Chinook. Harper loved running up and down the ramp and then getting into one of the seats along the side and buckling in. The seatbelts were a big hit for that girl. They also enjoyed playing around inside of a Cobra trainer. AND all of this fun was had for FREE! This museum will undoubtedly become a regular stop on future trips to the beach.

Other than torrential rains once we got on the interstate on the east side of Montgomery to a bit north of Prattville, the remaining time on the road was pretty smooth and much less tense than the trip down was.
csberry: (bigmclargehuge)

The family is down in Panama City Beach for the week. We spent Saturday driving to Birmingham, where we spent a few hours playing at the McWane Science Center. That place is so huge. I'm so happy that our membership to SciQuest in Huntsville allows us free admission to McWane.

We left my grandmother's apartment in B'ham at 9am on Sunday. The big anxiety for the trip has been dealing with Calvin's increased awareness of his motion sickness. We gave him a kiddie dose of Dramamine...that left Calvin feeling both woozy and excessively talkative. I swear there was a grand total of 10 minutes that he didn't talk on the 4 hour trip.

We arrived in PCB and soon had the kids on the beach. Wanting some quiet, I stayed behind at the house, put away items, and did a bit of household maintenance and improvements.

The in-laws decided to rent a house so we wouldn't all be crammed in Doris's place. JD's parents stayed in the extra house Saturday night and told us that JD and I would be staying there for the rest of the week while they stayed at the family house with all the kids (the only stipulation being that we couldn't leave each night until we had put our kids to sleep).

After being in the rented house for a little while, it became obvious that this wasn't an entirely altruistic act. While the family house is essentially a "manufactured home," the rented place is best described as a converted camper. The ceilings and doorways are low (requiring me to walk around with my head hung down and body slouched), the bedrooms are barely larger than the beds, and I must squat to see anything higher than my nipples in the bedroom and bathroom mirrors. But it is a kid-free zone.

Monday started with a trip to Home Depot followed by several more household projects. The house water filter was replaced. Next was the replacement of the door for the utlity closet. I took the old door apart and helped Andy with templating all the holes and such on the new door. I then hung the new door and was grateful that the latch was perfectly aligned an didn't require any adjustments.

Chris (JD's middle brother) arrived in town Monday afternoon with his two older kids in their A/C-less rental. Shortly after their arrival, we were at the beach. This time I joined them. The surf was nice and smooth with few waves breaking, so I could see thru the water to the bottom even better than usual. I ended up wandering out quite a bit from shore, trailing big schools of tiny little fish.

Once the kids went to sleep, JD and I returned to the rental. Chris decided to stay at the family house for the first night to ensure his kids didn't have any feakouts from being in a strange place. JD gave me a mini-pedi and painted my toe nails purple while we watched Grease on AMC.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

csberry: (Oh My Joel)
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Now competing with kids for attention.
csberry: (Cory(smile))

While at War College in Carlisle, PA, my parents took a trip to NYC during the winter of '94 and woke up early one morning to hang outside the Today Show studios.
csberry: (Default)
If you like Pearl Jam, you really should give Winston Audio a try. The principle songwriter, lead vocals, and bass player (Daniel DeWitt) is one of JD's cousins.

IndieATL- Winston Audio "Hey Ann" - Watch more amazing videos here
csberry: (Default)
This has been a rather pleasant winter snap for me. The wood I set aside to stay dry has served me well and supplies are ample to make it into Monday, if needed. I haven't had any need to leave the house between Wed nite's scout meeting and seeing the chiro this morning. I won't leave again until tomorrow afternoon when JD and I head out to Rave to see Avatar or Sherlock Holmes.

The kids have had a blast playing out in the snow the past few days. While we didn't get much of an accumulation, the cold weather keeping the snow from melting has severely helped to prolong the fun for them.
csberry: (dead parrot)
The family entered Christmas in relative health. As the weekend progressed, Harper got sniffly and JD started to feel a tiny bit ill. Today, Calvin seems to be the only healthy one. Harper and Nigel may be the sickest, followed by me and JD. It is particularly frustrating to me because this is the first "down" time we've really had post-Xmas celebrations. This means, that the house still has large piles of items that need to find homes, boxes that need to be opened and broken down, and the usual debris found in a house with three kids. I feel a need to work on some of this...while maintaining the fire in the fireplace, do work (it is a week/work-day, after all), fold laundry (have two baskets of clean clothes and a load sitting in the drier), and do any kid-shepherding that may be required.
csberry: (Santa)
Calvin (who is usually last to wake up) woke us up this morning that Santa had come overnight and set up a drum kit in the living room. It took a little while before he realized there was also an electric guitar for him (drum kit is Nigel's).

JD has done her best to stock me up on new movies. First off is the Woody Allen Collection with Annie Hall, Bananas, "Everything you always wanted to know about sex* *But were afraid to ask," Interiors, Love & Death, Manhattan, Sleeper, and Stardust Memories. Only Annie Hall is a duplicate DVD. Manhattan will be replacing my widescreen VHS copy. Accompanying this box set was one more Woody movie, Vicky Christina Barcelona, along with Tropic Thunder and The Goonies.

Anyone particularly itching to claim my now redundant DVD of Annie Hall and widescreen VHS of Manhattan?
csberry: (Santa)
JD and I decided to break up the trip to Atlanta (technically, Gwinnett County/Lawrenceville/Duluth) by stopping at the Tellus NW Georgia Science Museum. For being next to the middle of nowhere, that place ROCKED! There was a gorgeous collection of prehistoric creature skeletons (including a T-Rex, Edmontosaurus, and mosasaur), huge minerals/crystals, many planes, trains, and automobiles...and the little kid section was pretty big. Thanks to our having a membership to Sci-Quest here in Huntsville (which is very mediocre and basically an scienced-based, educational, indoor playground), we got in to the museum for free. It was an absolute hit for the whole family and will likely become a regular stop whenever we travel to ATL.

Friday's big adventure was to drive to I-285, hop onto the MARTA rail, take it to Midtown, visit the Federal Reserve Bank, and back. In case you didn't know, it was raining like all hell on Friday. Thankfully, the MARTA station was only half a block from the Federal Reserve so it wasn't far; but even after hanging out at the visitor's center for about an hour, our clothes were still quite damp. Then we had the pleasure of running back through that rain to the station. But since the Fed was free, two of the three kids rode the rail for free, and parking was free, it was a fun, educational activity to fill the day with the boys. While the Federal Reserve was our "destination," Nigel's primary interest was in riding his first subway car. He was been very interested in the driving capabilities in the Sim City 4: Rush Hour set. He loves to build a city of infrastructure and then drive/pilot cars, trains, planes, and boats on the screen. The anticipation of finally riding in a subway train had Noodle absolutely giddy.

Friday and much of Saturday was spent at the relatives' home. Well, more specifically, in their basement. They had the Wii set up there and it was the boys' first exposure to RockBand/Beatles RockBand. After all the playing, Calvin has been singing numerous lines from the songs. Although he had mild interest in "Ticket to Ride" and "Drive My Car" a couple of years ago, the only songs he actually sings to himself are ones from Depeche Mode and Duran Duran along with "Smoke on the Water." Now he's going around singing verses of "Eight Days a Week" and "Yellow Submarine," and thankfully only a few lines of "I Am the Walrus."

The kids did a great job, as usual, while we were hanging out with family and kept all their youthful insurrections to themselves until the visit was at its end.
csberry: (omgzkasey)
For me...

It would have been a very green day at Michigan. I spent much of the day in the teens, but moved to the front near the end and finished in the top five. There was some traffic I had to deal with, but there was plenty of room to maneuver.

Unfortunately, for JD...

It was the night race at Bristol. The woman was constantly watching wrecks happen in front and behind her. She kept getting out of synch with the other drivers on the track and could never get together with her team mates. It was a good day in that the car completed all the laps, but she's quite dinged up.

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Cory Berry

June 2016

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