Sunday, December 28, 2008


I'm playing catch-up this week after skipping out on you guys last week, so I'm breaking this week up into two posts.

This post will be the usual, while the second post (see below) will explain why I didn't post last week.

He continues to stand up in his crib and doesn't like it when you suprise him with a camera flash in mid-cry.

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Last Friday we braved the crowds and hit the lights at Acadian Village. The lights are nice, but it has turned into much more of a carnival/WalMart atmosphere since we last went 10 years ago. It was fun nonetheless.

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Just Hangin' with Dad. (his favorite position)

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With Granny Lynn and a Louisiana Christmas Tree

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With Poppy and a helicopter

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Traditional Uncle Eli pose

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Meeting Santa

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and posing for a profile shot

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We found out that olive oil really does help to break up cradle cap, but he looks quite greasy while you let it set.

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I don't know what he and Joan did Saturday through Wednesday because of what I was doing (see post below), except that he watched me work on his present for a little bit, while holding onto the Jeep as if to save his life.

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So we'll just skip to Wednesday evening when we went to the children's service at Asbury and didn't have to worry about him making noise 'cause there were kids everywhere and the preacher encouraged it.

Then Joan's immediate family came here for gift exchanging and grubbing on a Brisket from Johnson's Boucaniere, a Logan's honey ham, Joan's corn macque choux with Johnson's tasso, and Liz's sugar free (but you'd never know it) Sweet Potato Casserole. We were doing it right.

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This year, in an effort to recycle (not because of laziness, I swear) everyone's presents were packaged in baby themed bags which we received at the various showers. It was very efficient.

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Thursday we ran all around, starting at my parents' house, where he racked up on the toys.

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Next was Joan's paternal extended family, where Riley hung with Cousin Lillian and racked up some noise making toys.

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Finally, we headed to Joan's maternal extended family. Unfortunately, the host has a trampoline. After Riley was done bouncing with Cousin Courtney, I took him through some bouncy antics, which I am still paying for today.

I'm pretty sure I fractured all of the vertebrae below my shoulders, but it may just be muscle soreness. Hopefully the pics Paul has make it worth my pain.

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Like Thanksgiving, Riley watched Caroline eat (she rarely stops) while she watched him bounce around (he rarely stops). Maybe they'll motivate each other to pick up the other's skills.

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Aside from a trip to Johnson's to refresh his pulled pork supply, the weekend was just cleanup and another DIY project (see below)

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Joan and I did go see the Curious Case of Benjamin Button which we enjoyed and I would recommend. (just ignore the incredibly forced Katrina tie-in)

We hope everyone's Christmas was good, your New Year celebrations are safe, and your neighbors (unlike ours at this moment) only set off fireworks at reasonable hours.

PS- I forgot to write about one of our interesting experiences this week.
Earlier in the week, while working on the tables in the garage, I smelled something horrible. It smelled like a rotting dead animal, and I looked all over the garage but found nothing. I then walked through the yard and spotted what we thought was surely an alien life form in the now neglected flowerbed.

It looked like a folded up starfish, made of sponge/grapefruit, coming out of an egg, with a glob of cat crap in the middle, covered in flies, and smelled like freshly baked roadkill.

We pulled it up and found that below it were more of the "eggs"

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Then on Friday another egg hatched one of the alien beasts.

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Fortunately The Robert & Sherie family stopped by and the spectacle piqued their curiosity.

Within juts a few hours, Sherie's research informed us that out new growths are Columned Stinkhorns. You can read more about them here

and here (warning- adult language

They are often spread through mulch and thrive in the winter.

They are a fungus of the family Phallaceae, which is appropriately named, though we are lucky enough to have a less "adult" looking variety in our yard.

Joan has tried to dig them up, and hopefully that is enough.

But remember the name Stinkhorn if you ever have a rotten smelling fungus in your yard. It is NOT, I repeat, NOT actually an alien.

Project Life

Here's the second post of the week, and the one I'm most proud of.

I've spent the last week and a half all up in the projects.
But not in the rapper sense of the phrase.

I was unable to post last week because, from Saturday morning at 9 until Wednesday afternoon, if I wasn't sleeping or at work, I was working on crafting Christmas presents for Riley and Caroline.

My Dad and I built them activity tables with toys mounted on them.
These things are cool.

Each table has 5 toy stations.

Each station is a separate 15x15 wood square with a toy mounted to it. Each square bolts in from the bottom and each of the squares can be changed out, individually, for another toy without having to physically remove the toy that is screwed on to the square.

The idea was to make the tables very modular so that the tables can grow with the kids.
For that same reason, the legs easily unscrew and can be replaced with taller legs as the kids grow.

There is no metal hardware holding the table together, just glue and joints.

We found some really cool looking "butcher block" type wood for the toy mounting squares, and a really neat looking, knotted up piece of wood for Riley's table frame.

The edges and corners are all rounded and each table bears 5 coats of hand rubbed poly finish. (I am sore all over from putting that stuff on.)

The two tables are built in the same way, except that Riley's is a full rectangle, while Caroline's has a notch in the middle of one side to allow her to be surrounded on three sides by toys. Paul liked that idea, while we opted to go with a storage bin that hangs below for the legos and wood blocks.

Here are the pics:

Starting with a pile of lumber

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The tables forming up.

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Countersinking the anchors

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Routing the edges

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Sanding & Finishing

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Mounting the toys

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And the Finished Products

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Like seeing a child off to college, I watched Saturday as Caroline's table was carted off to BR.

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It was hard work. Cold and dusty, but totally worth it.
Riley, Anna and Gabe will definitely get lots of use out of ours, and Paul said Caroline is already learning to move around hers.

Without pulling too many muscles patting myself on the back, I must say that these are two beautiful pieces of woodwork. Heirloom quality in my opinion.

Given the cost of materials, toys and labor (at my usual legal billing rate), I calculated that each of the tables is worth about $3,500 (I spent over 35 hours on them and my Dad spent another 18).

But finding a place for our table led us to another set of problems.

The only reasonable place is in the corner of the living room, next to the fireplace. But with a couple of kids just learning to crawl and walk, brick ledges and walls do not make the best play area borders. (I've got a nice scar on my forehead from a toddler run-in with a brick windowsill)

We weren't happy with the selection or price of the protective items sold in stores, so we got crafty and made our own.

So after spending about $50 on some plywood, mattress toppers and vinyl, our hearth and one chimney wall are covered in three inches of memory foam.

I did the woodwork, Joan did the covering.

Despite knowing nothing about upholstery, these things came out quite professional looking.

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That's it for the week. No more DIY projects for a while.