Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City Garden

I hear it's snowing in Utah.
We enjoyed the 76 degree weather here by taking a little trip to City Garden. It's a privately funded public sculpture garden, where you're encouraged to climb on and into everything. They have several different water features that have just been turned on for the season. The weather was absolutely perfect, even if the water was a little cool for my taste.

Henry chose to crawl and his hands and feet, keeping his knees off the stone walkways. He also did everything he could at first to prevent Nick from lowering his feet into the water. Eventually he remembered he loves water and dipped his feet into the pool. We even ran into some friends there. We're trying to get the most out of the time we have in St. Louis.
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Dumpster and Mattress Update

Still there, just a little more broken.

Sob Story

How could you?
How could you make me eat Cheerios?

So cruel.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Henry's First Birthday: Chicago Edition

I was a little sad to be on the go for Henry's first birthday. It meant I would give up the little party I had been planning in my head, and driving around Chicago instead.
Fortunately, Henry doesn't know what he's missing, and it turned out better than I thought. A highlight of this trip was staying with Sarah Page's parents. We met them several times in St. Louis, but got to know them much more over Thanksgiving, which we all spent in San Diego together. The Morrisons also served as our consultants on a house we were interested in. They came and toured it with us, and Steve (as a professional building inspector) brought to light a LOT of stuff I wouldn't have noticed on my own. We realized the house needed far more work than we're able to do.

We all went out to dinner Saturday night. Nick can now rest assured that Chicago has good Italian food. That's a real consideration for him when considering the lifestyle in a given city. It was very nice of the Morrison's to let us stay with them and let us glean from the Chicago wisdom, but the sweetest thing they did for us was the cupcakes.

Sunday morning we came upstairs to find Sally had prepared for Henry's birthday. She had the cupcakes and candles ready to go to celebrate his monumental first year. I was really surprised what a big deal is was to me to have our little group sing "Happy Birthday" to him with a single lit candle.
This was Henry at a McDonald's feeding himself some sundae. Yes, that's chocolate up his nose. Happy Birthday Henry!
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Housing Expedition

We took an impromptu trip to Chicago this weekend to explore our housing options. We spent a lot of time looking at neighborhoods, trying potential commuter routes, and seeing the hospital where Nick will work. We even toured several houses. This picture is of the oil-burning boiler in one of the houses we looked at. The house seemed perfectly maintained, but nothing had been updated since it was built in the twenties. The bedrooms were so tiny, that if you put a queen-sized mattress in there, I don't think you could open or close the door. Call me picky, but I think that's too small for me.

I feel like this trip parallels an episode of "Lost"- for every question it answered, it gave me ten more questions. I still have no idea where we'll live, what kind of housing situation we'll be in, or when we'll move. Nick has found out that he starts work June 14, which is earlier than expected, so we better hurry and make some decisions.
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The Docs of Hazard

It's time for an update of our beloved 1992 Honda Accord. I think the last time I posted pictures of this car, it was a year ago and it was missing a window and a radio. It's still missing a radio. I'm shocked the St. Louis police haven't solved that one yet. (You really should read that blog post.)
I figure the cost of ownership for this car is somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.12 a mile, which is pretty amazing. However, between age and living in St. Louis, it's not exactly the car it used to be.

In December, as I was leaving for the airport to go to Utah, I discovered that more local criminals had attempted to break into the car or perhaps steal the car. The was nothing in the car to steal as the radio had been taken the previous March, so perhaps they were after the vehicle itself. Good for me they're incompetent and the car was still there. What they did succeed in doing was breaking the lock on the passenger side. They hit the lock with something like chisel, and also tried to pry the handle away from the door. All they succeeded in doing was making the lock and handle inoperable. It was a two door car (already inconvenient), now it's a one door car. Because I was literally on my way to the airport, I didn't have time to report it to the police, not to mention I don't think I can take that much harassment again without doing something they'll arrest me for.

So we've meant to get it fixed, but really no one ever uses the passenger side so it doesn't come up too often to remind us.

A couple of weeks ago, the Honda quit while Nick was driving it as he was entering the intersection in front of Cardinal Glennon Hospital. He was the first car in the left turn lane, turning on Grand from Park, but the car just wouldn't go. Eventually he got the car restarted and was able to get it home. It seemed to be an electrical problem, but it wasn't exactly clear what the problem was.

So the next weekend he threw some parts and maintenance at the car, things we knew it needed but not necessarily things that would fix the problem. You'll notice our lovely new battery in the photo above. Things seemed fine for a few days, but the trouble with intermittent problems is you're just waiting for them to come back. Nick and Brigham went to the automotive store together in the Honda. Knowing the passenger door doesn't open, I was really curious where Brigham was sitting. I really expected him to be sandwiched into the back seat (which would be fairly comical as the seat is small and Brigham is really tall.) I watched as they pulled up to the house and saw Brigham seated in the passenger seat. I waited. I watched as Brigham rolled down the window (manually of course) and climbed out "Dukes of Hazard" style. Nick just had to roll up the window after him. It seemed all our car was missing was a confederate flag painted on top.

The electrical problem came back on Friday as Nick was headed to school. In fact, in came back as he drove on that same spot on Grand and Park. The problem was, this time he couldn't get it restarted, and had to back it down the hill, but there cars behind him. Poor Nick, he never made it to class. But I was really glad it wasn't me. The upside to this failure was it was big enough the problem was identified. We bought the replacement ignition switch at NAPA, and in a couple hours Nick had taken apart the steering wheel (including removing the air bag), put in the new part, and was ready to go again. He's pretty handy to keep around. With this maintenance and repair episode, we spent about $240, so that cost of ownership is creeping up.
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A Real Man

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sans Pants

You just can't keep pants on this kid. He manages to crawl out of them, step out of them, or make them vanish like Houdini.

Also, he has the pull string of the blinds in his mouth. You can never let him out of your sight.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010


We've been to Chicago a few times, and it is a great place to visit. This picture is from a year and a half ago when we rode the bus up to Chicago with Chad and Angelina for a whirlwind trip. It's an awesome city. It has incredible things to do and see. I love their world-class art museum, and I could spend days at a time in the science museum.

Still, I have to admit that I was shocked when Nick opened his match letter. I had not kept Chicago on my radar at all. I was too busy thinking about the dozen other cities we might move to, where we could buy a house, have a garden, and let the dog run in and out of the doggie door all day. I thought it impossibly improbable that we would end up in Chicago, the only other metro area with St. Louis-style problems, but with sky-high real estate prices.

Except now we KNOW we're Chicago bound, so I'm adjusting my expectations. Instead of owning a house with a doggie door, maybe we'll find an apartment that allows pets. No garden, but maybe we can live close to a park. Life will certainly be different in Chicago than it would have been in one of my dream cities, but it can be great. Just as I'll be sad to leave St. Louis this summer, I'm sure it will be hard to leave Chicago in five years.

Oh, and did I mention that in 8 weeks I'll be married to a doctor? Pretty incredible. I think Nick's junior high and high school teachers would be particularly shocked.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

And the Envelope Please

People gathered with their families waiting for the party to start. It could not start before 12:00 Eastern time per the match rules. At 11:00 local time, they began calling names of the students in random order to come get their envelopes. Our friend Chad Nelson happened to be the very first. When you pick up your envelope, you also drop a dollar in a bag. The very last person to receive their envelope gets to keep all the money.
Nick took Henry up to the front to pick up his envelope.
The big news is we'll be headed to Chicago UIC/Mt. Sinai for a five-year residency in general surgery. That means Henry can't be a Cardinals fan anymore. We'll have to get him a new outfit. Maybe a White Sox outfit. But not the Cubs. Nick said raising a Cubs fan is dooming a child to failure.
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Match Day: Class of 2010

Today was match day for all the fourth year medical students in the nation. Our school's party was held at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium. We had the chance to step outside the hospitality suite where the party was happening, and look at the field and the Arch. Henry had a new outfit to wear for the occasion in honor of the Cardinals.  The '92 on his shirt is referring to 1892.

We had put actual tennis shoes on him to go with the outfit, but he seemed to think we had shackled him or something.  The shoes were like baby kryptonite and he wouldn't crawl or move. 
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Man is Not Short

This man really isn't that short, the dog is just that big. Enormous dog. I think you could put a saddle on it and ride him like a horse.

All three of us (and Caesar) went to the park today. It was perfect. We really enjoyed ourselves. It has only been a week since we went to this same park, and the changes were anything but subtle. Spring is finally here.
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I Guess He Wasn't Hungry

He never falls asleep outside of his crib or car seat, so we were a little surprised when he wasn't eating much during lunch, and started to move more and more slowly. Maybe he's just trying to get out of eating his vegetables.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Like Disneyworld

Henry believes that every meal should be a celebration. That's why he insists on dining with a balloon.
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Little Red Riding Rody

A special package came for Henry today, with directions to open immediately. His birthday is still almost two weeks away.
He needed a little help from his dad to get the ribbon and paper off the box.
It's Rody! His favorite inflatable ride-on toy. He'll be able to play with this forever since its weight limit is 400 lbs.
The bouncing begins. Thanks, Toots, for the perfect birthday present.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

No, It's Not

One old man who doesn't know how to run the computer does not constitute customer service. And yes mom, I love you so much that I'm at a Walmart in Illinois looking for those bags for your church's service project.  

If anyone I know is going to a walmart, give me a call. I'd have you look out for the Bajer Mesh Back Pack for the ongoing project.  They're looking to buy a hundred of them.

Kara Johnson

Friday, March 12, 2010

Henry, Clean Your Room

He does some light reading before he gets to work picking up his toys.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Literature Review

Henry loves board books. He turns the pages, points to a page and makes sounds like he's reading it. He's actually quite content "reading" by himself for several minutes at a time. If he's crying, he will stop so he can hear you read a book to him.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm a Winner!

Tonight at camera club I received my first competition point. I entered this father/daughter portrait in tonight's open color print competition and received an honorable mention. The judge tonight obviously had great taste because he liked my picture, but he was really boring and went over on time. His picture philosophy was that all pictures were either a window or a mirror. He said this picture was a combination of the two. I have no idea what any of that means.

What I do know is that I achieved my goal of getting a single competition point. Assuming we leave St. Louis this year, it will almost certainly be my only competition point. The St. Louis Camera Club makes me sad to leave St. Louis, and even more sad that I didn't know about it the first three years we lived here.

Competition points aren't worth anything except the glory, but once you earn enough of them you compete in a more experienced division.
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How Does This Happen?

A disadvantage to our apartment is its proximity to a cluster of dumpsters. Two are the city dumpsters in the alley right behind us, so when we take our own garbage out we don't have to walk far at all. (That is when they aren’t filled with construction debris from the hick neighbors across the way and there’s room for our refuse.)

The third is a blue, private dumpster that belongs to the convenience store around the corner. (By convenience store, I mean the conveniently sell the necessities of life: liquor, cigarettes, lotto tickets, generic Doritos, and outdated canned fruit.)

In the heat of summer, walking by the city dumpsters is a little fragrant. The eyesore of the dumpsters is that all year, stray garbage blows through our yard. There was just an empty package of Kraft cheese on our back walkway. I know it’s not ours. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased name-brand shredded cheese. I also saw a crushed box of light beer- another product I’ve never purchased. The box frame is a new low.

So I wondered to myself, how did this happen? Step 1: Unknown person brings box frame to alley, and not on the week of the month when large-item pick up is schedule. Unknown person decides to lean the box spring up against the mattress.

Step 2: The dumpster is picked up and emptied by private sanitation firm. As the dumpster is lifted up, the mattress falls flat, and is now underneath the dumpster as the dumpster is lowered to the ground.

Step 3: Each week the dumpster is picked up, emptied, and replaced on the box spring.

Step 4: After several weeks of having a dumpster land on top of it, the box spring is now just a collection of broken boards held together by stapled-on nylon fabric.

Step 5: After millions of years of decay, the box spring returns to nature. Except for the nylon fabric. That never dies.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Things are Looking Up

I'm finally starting to feel better, I think. It's a work in progress. I am pretty sure I haven't been this sick since July 1996.

I'm actually thinking of going somewhere, just for the joy of getting out of the house. Henry and Caesar want to get out of the house, too.
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Going into the World

Crawl softly, and carry a big stick.
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Triple-ply Kleenex

Once you've had triple-ply Kleenex, you just can't use anything else. I've gone through at least four boxes, and my nose would be so much more sore without them. All my garbage cans basically look like this right now.
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