Monday, July 30, 2007

One Already?!

Somehow, as if by magic…my daughter has turned a year old. As I type this, it seems impossible that the astounding moment when I first held her was a year ago. It seems too vivid in my mind to have been so long ago. Ask me again in five minutes and I’ll tell you that it seems impossible that our home was childless a mere 12 months ago. I am amazed at the lightning speed of time and simultaneously at the seemingly contradictory infinity that has somehow fit itself in these recent 365.

And this, I am learning, is a consistent theme in parenting. The ability to make peace with contradiction. I have spent a good deal of time this last year wishing I could get away for some personal time while simultaneously not wanting to miss a thing she does. My excitement to see her master new skills is almost equally matched by my desire for her to slow down so I can absorb as much as I can of each moment. She is infuriating and inexpressibly lovable. She is disgusting and overwhelming cute. She saps your energy and refuels you in the same instant.

I do not pretend to understand it.

We realized recently that although we are still just getting our feet wet with this whole parenting thing, was are, as of her first birthday, 5.56% of the way finished raising her to independence. Sure, it’s still a small percentage…but much larger than seems possible. Eighteen years seemed so huge when I was eighteen. Now, although it’s still a bit of a stretch, I can measure that time…and it’s alarming.

Anyway, family and friends piled into the Grenstead over the weekend to celebrate the Little Lutine’s astounding achievement of surviving under my and Moonshot’s care for a full year. Norah had a blast and seemed to handle the sensory overload of the event better than I would have expected. I plan on writing a more full description of the event soon, once I’ve dug through the photos that should accompany the story. I didn’t take many pictures, myself…mired as I was in vital hostly duties like spinning in place trying to decide where I needed to be. I snapped a few prior to the party and a few after…but the bulk of the get-together was lost in a haze of photo forgetfulness. Luckily, fellow blogger Stephanie from over at Breakfast at Stephanie’s was there to point her trusty Nikon at all the things I was missing. She tells me she took a minimum of 200 pictures and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of said files. And though I would never wish poor Stephanie to regret serving as the party photographer…a few friendly comments posted over at her site might just get some photos up at the Impish Gren a bit faster ;)

Thanks to everyone who came, everyone who sent cards and gifts, and everyone who sent birthday wishes in some electronic format or another. Norah’s pretty self-centered right now and is therefore unlikely to say thank you for it all. But know that her Daddy was deeply moved by all the fuss being made over his darling, one-year-old (!) girl.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #14

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Weekend Recap

The house is eerily quiet as I type this. My daughter is asleep, my wife is hundreds of miles away and my Mom left a few hours ago. I am, for these few hours, a functional bachelor, a man with no outside influence. I could do anything at all with my time. Live up the wild life and let the invigorating taste of freedom go to my head. But instead, I find myself sitting here at the computer trying to recap this, my first run as solo parent and looking forward to Moonshot’s return. And not just because she’ll be bringing a copy of Harry Potter7. No…I actually miss her.

Thursday “Morning”

My alarm went off at 4 am on Thursday morning. I’d like to explain this occurrence away as a malfunction…but the truth is that I set it for this ungodly hour. Moonshot was to be at the airport by 5 so a plane could whisk her away to Minneapolis for three full days of what was described to our friend Elsa as “help with the wedding planning” but which would truly culminate in a surprise bridal shower. I can say that now since the event should be happening as I type this.

We stumbled our blurry-eyed way through last minute packing, strapped a bewildered Norah into her car seat and made our way for Lambert International. Our local NPR station had yet to begin their daily broadcast, so the British accents from the BBC only served to remind us just how early it really was. If it’s before Morning Edition, then by definition it’s still night.

We realized on our drive that we could easily and quickly tally the number of times since we moved into together that we have been apart for any stretch of time. Once, I went to a family wedding in Reno. Later, when I went to Little Rock on business for four days, she took the opportunity to zip up to Iowa to spend some quality time with her folks. And last year I went to Memphis with my brother and several of his heavy-drinking friends. That’s it. We should probably make it a point to spend more time apart, foster a greater sense of independence in the marriage and such…but the sad fact is that even after so much constant contact…we still enjoy each others company most of the time. It just never occurs to us to demand that the other get on a plane and get the hell away from us for a while.

We dropped Moonshot at the American Airlines terminal and returned home. Norah, for her part, sat wide-eyed in the back seat the entire trip. I kept glancing at her and trying to convince her eyes to become droopy. However, there was absolutely no sign of the sleepiness that must have been evident on her father’s face. She seemed animated upon returning home, as if she fully intended to stay awake and start her morning routine. Panic started to well in my chest. After about fifteen minutes of convincing, however, she decided to do the right thing and let daddy go back to sleep.


I took Thursday off work and did my best to follow the daily schedule set out by Moonshot. Generally, I think I did pretty well. I kept Norah clean, fed, and relatively happy. I ran some errands (pick up repaired hedge trimmer, take Moonshot’s car to carwash, buy Star wars stamps for Canadian SW fans who can’t buy them for himself) was able to socialize a bit out at Duke’s house and also made time to take Norah up to the newly opened Cabela’s near our house to look at their huge aquarium with Superfly and Mr. Chubbers. My timing was slightly thrown off, however when a veritable waterfall appeared in the skies over St Louis. Parking lots became instant lakes, complete with wave action from the cars pushing their way through the liquid resistance. Norah was curious but unafraid about the drenching, but the extra time spent due to the downpour meant MoMa arrived at the house before I returned. She came up just so I could go to work on Friday…you’d think the least a properly appreciative son could have done was be there to welcome her.


Friday was a surprisingly normal day. Just a change in casting, really. I woke, showered, and fed Norah. Then, instead of waking Moonshot...I woke MoMa. Instead of eating breakfast with Moonshot, I dined with MoMa. I packed a lunch and left for the day and aside from a few more calls home to make sure everything was going well, it could have been any Friday. And since that was sort of the purpose behind MoMa coming up, I’ll call it a smashing success.


Saturday found us at the Little Gym with MoMa grinning ear to ear as her granddaughter ran about the child-filled room, hands in the air, emitting shrieks of pure toddler joy. (Norah was shrieking…not MoMa, mind you.) Later in the day we went shopping for Norah’s upcoming birthday, because the trunk load full of goodies MoMa shoveled into Norah’s room Thursday night wasn’t enough.

After supplying my daughter with another bundle of clothes and toys, MoMa drove away into the sunset.


It’s now Monday as I write this. You see, I didn’t quite finish the story above on Saturday night. I got tired and started thinking how great it would be to just lay down in bed and watch some TV. Maybe do a few Sudoku and just decompress. I told myself sweet little lies like, “Oh, you’ll finish this post in the morning,” but I never really believed it.

The bed did feel wonderful, though.

At any rate, Sunday came early as Norah’s protests sounded through the monitor at a little before 6. Not crushingly early, true…but 6 full Snoozes worth of sleep are not lost joyfully. We rose, ate and played with the suddenly abundant toys strewn about the house. We watched the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and waited until 10 or so to make our way back to the airport to pick up Moonshot.

Norah loved the airport. She likes most open spaces where she is free to roam. And I want to take a moment here to express how odd Moonshot and I both find just how odd everyone else seems to find our free-roaming child. It’s not as if we just let her go…but as often as possible, we let her walk about and we walk beside her and tell her about the things she’s seeing. At the post office on Thursday, she carefully pulled things off the shelf, looked them over, and replaced them (usually). As we waited for the car to be washed…she did the same in the attached convenience store. And at the airport, I let her stomp around; exploring baggage carts, benches and displays behind glass. In each of these places, people smiled at Norah but looked genuinely concerned about her range of motion. It’s true; most one year olds I’ve seen out in public are either held or strapped into a stroller. But Moonshot and I are subscribing to the “let her explore her world” approach to parenting. She tends to put things back on the shelves after she’s done looking at them because we’ve shown her and let her practice. I’m not saying it’s the only or even really the best way to parent…but thinking back to the airport, I can’t help but be a bit amazed that it’s so rare as to seem disconcerting to onlookers.

But that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about Moonshot’s return. And return she did; happy and unscathed. Well...mostly unscathed. She’s been nursing some pretty nasty mosquito bites from those Minnesota mutants they have up there. Norah seemed happy to she her mommy in a typically distracted sort of way and I, for my part, was genuinely happy to see my wife. Moonshot seemed happy to see both of us and would have been happy to see her luggage…but two out of three ain’t bad, eh? Apparently her luggage had failed to make the plane switch in Chicago.

“Where’s the Potter book?” I asked in terror.

“It’s in my carry-on, don’t worry.”

A sigh of relief, “Have you finished it yet?”

“No, I got motion sick on the plane so I’ve barely started.”

Gasp. See, my entire theory here was that she’d be done with it by the time she stepped off that plane. She reads like a book a day and I was comforted through that long and Potterless Saturday with the reassuring thought of its Sunday arrival. However, a bookmark stuck at page 135 was somewhat less promising.

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening. She read while I trimmed the hedges with the newly repaired trimmers. I read while put she Norah to bed and again after Moonshot went to sleep. We even found some time to just sit and chat…but not about Harry Potter. She has forbid it. Apparently she has so much confidence in my ability to read her that she doesn’t even want to discus the story as far as I’ve read for fear of giving something away. Which is, of course, an irresistible temptation for me to continually bring it up. Yup…it was nice to have her back ;)

I fell asleep with the book in my hands.

About a half hour later, the phone rang. Seems a guy with Moonshot’s luggage was cruising our neighborhood in a lost sort of way, looking for our house. I stumbled downstairs in my robe, accepted the luggage and returned to bed. I tried again on Potter. By this point I was only about 40 pages behind my wife and I had big dreams of catching her so that we could compare theories over breakfast. Alas…my comfy bed proved too much fore me. I again fell asleep with the book in hand. Sometime around 3, I awoke and finished the current chapter before turning out the light and accepting defeat.


The office is eerily quiet as I type this. I’m finishing my Subway veggie sandwich and trying not to coat my keyboard in sweet onion sauce. The Grenstead has resumes its normal rhythm, which feels nice after a fun but hectic solo flight. Tonight will find Jet and I killing time while Moonshot teaches piano lessons. Hmmm….unless I could sucker him into watching Norah while I work on Harry Potter ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hey, This Ain’t Wordless!!

It’s Wednesday morning and I am totally unprepared for Wordless Wednesday. I suppose I could sneak over and take a picture of my sleeping wife…but that would only be funny until she checked the blog later today. No, I think I’ll just fess up to way I’ve let you down this week. And I could try to explain why I’ve done nothing all week, failing to give my poor little website the love and nourishment it so richly deserves. But no…I think rather that I will focus exclusively on last night. Actually looking at my life patterns of procrastination would be too depressing this early in the morning.

See, usually I scurry about on Tuesday night, digging through any pictures I’ve taken over the week and if that fails digging through the archives. Last night, however, I watched a movie with my wife. And I’ll stand by that decision. For one, I like spending time with my wife and am very rarely going to feel guilty about it. Secondly, she’ll be leaving tomorrow morning for a four-day Minneapolis trip. She’s going up to help our friend Elsa with wedding preparations and Norah and I will be left to our own devises. Well…sorta. MoMa is coming up Thursday night so I can go to work on Friday. But other than that…totally on our own.

So, I mulled it over last night as she waved the little red Netflix package and look d at me expectantly and opted to ignore the website for a little longer. So you’ll have no pictures to judge.

What? Stop looking at me like that. You’ll be ok, there are hundreds of folks out there who are even now hoping you’ll visit their site and write a clever little comment under their picture, why do you need mine?

Fine! They’re not art shots, but they make me smile. I give you Superfly and Mr. Chubbers from Mr. Chubbers second birthday party.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ask the Gren

I do my best to report on the events in my life that I think will interest the folks who read here. However, this is your chance to tell me directly what stories you want to me to tell.

Are you curious about some aspect of who I am?
Did I leave out some pertinent detail about Norah?
Are you curious about something I alluded to in passing?

Just ask. Simply post your question or suggestion as a comment on this page, and I'll see what I can do. I may even respond in a timely fashion.

I’m not going to guarantee I’ll answer every question with a post. If it’s just a quick one, I may just answer it here as a comment. Or if I just don’t’ want to answer it…I won’t. I’ll do my best, however, to respond in some way to questions posted here.

Previously Answered Questions:

And Be There When I Feed the Tree - An answer to Mark's question about pot
Holey Man - An answer to Simon's question about nose rings
Who Wants a Hedgehog Thingy for Their Night Stand? - An answer to Mouse's question about books

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #12

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Thought It Was Just Me

Two times in the last 24 hours, the question of what it common behavior and what isn’t has come up for me. I’m not talking about truly twisted behavior or anything…just those little things you do during your day that you never think to bring up, so you never know if everyone does it or if it’s just you.

Feel The Force Flow Through the Door

Exiting Walgreens last night with Jet during some errands ran while Moonshot taught piano lessons, Jet asked, “So, when you go through an automatic door, do you ever wave your hand like you’re using the Force to open it?”

“Of course,” I laughed. “Moonshot makes fun of me…but I figure it’s pretty common.”

Jet chuckled. “That’s what I thought too, but I brought it up during a stand-up show the other night and everybody looked at me like I was an idiot.”

“Maybe they just didn’t want to admit it.”

“I thought of that,” he continued, “I was like, ‘Come on, guys, you know you do it when you don’t think anybody’s looking,’ and they just kept staring. Even the other comedians…real geeks, were shaking their heads.”

So, now I’m curious. Could it be that my brother and I are rare in this quirk. Surely the geek-laden readership of Impish Gren can relate to this behavior. I mean…if not Star Wars…Harry Potter? Do you make the swish noise like a Star Trek door? Anything?

Time Warp

It sometimes amazes me how skilled the human brain is at pushing astounding details to the background once they have become commonplace. We live in mind-boggling times, with almost magical devices and tools at our disposals. And we tend to just muddle through and relegate all this wonder to the sidelines.

Today on the Straight Dope Message Boards, someone brought up their habit of pretending to have conversations with historical figures…explaining the world around us to this illusionary person. I thought, “I do that too!!” and was amazed at the number of responses this conversation garnered. Then I recalled that Cheeseburger Brown had written something about this on his old blog and I ran over there to refresh my memory. Not only had he written about this habit…he did so exactly 2-years ago to the day. (What is it about July 10th that causes this sort of thinking?)

Anyway, since none of my readers took part in either of these other discussions, I wanted to bring it up here. Do you do anything similar?

I tend to do this while driving. I just pretend someone…often Newton, Ben Franklin, or some other historical figure of which NPR has recently made me think, is in the passenger seat. I try to imagine what about the scenery would snag their attention first and try to explain it as best as I can. This invariably leads to breaking things down to their basic parts since it’s tough to talk about an iPod without a lot of other details. Electricity, digital data storage, speakers, modern musical trends, and on and on. It’s cathartic to look at some small aspect of my day with new eyes and really ask why.

When I’m at home, the game takes a different form. I pretend that some common item has magically transported itself back in time. I ask myself what would someone from 1980 think about this item? 1950? 1900? How far back in time would my wristwatch have to go before someone said, “What the Hell?” My cell phone? My shoes? My toothbrush? Magazines and Norah’s picture books are excellent for this game. How far back in time would this picture need to go before someone recognized it as being from the future? And once they realized it was from the future…what could they deduce from it? How ‘bout this one? or this one? Literally...just about any random picture. I look at car design, fashion trends, building materials. What would be familiar? What would be unrecognizable?

One commenter on Straight Dope mentions that he plays the visitor from the past game with his daughter. Has her explain things to Thomas Jefferson as portrayed by dad. I’m filing that away for future use with Norah.

Anyway, do you do anything similar? Variations on the themes? Or are you just shaking your head…astounded at the eccentricities of this gren?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tag! You're Sick!!

It’s been an exciting game of pass the bug here at the Grenstead for the last few weeks. It was slightly annoying but still in the realm of amusing when the first illness made its way through our usually impenetrable immune systems. However, our sense of humor about this issue has diminished now that a new pathogen has begun its rounds a mere two days after the house had resumed its typical state of health and wellness.

Our microscopic friends first took up residence in our home a day or two before our friend Elsa arrived for a weeklong stay. Typically, our hospitality is a bit better than the snot-covered reception Elsa received, but we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that Elsa herself stepped off the plane with a minor cold of her own. All was fair, we reasoned.

Elsa was in town to make good on a wonderful birthday gift she had given to Moonshot back in May. It was a coupon for sanity. It granted Moonshot help around the house, a girl’s night out, a date night with me, and a few other such things. Basically, she came to shower my wonderful wife with attention and aid. That was the plan anyway. And to some degree, the plan was a success. We did, in fact, achieve each of the wondrous feats promised by the coupon. We strolled about the Botanical Gardens, Moonshot and I had dinner out and a nice stroll through Old Town St. Charles, and the girls made it to the theater to see Evenings. The time in between such feats, however, was predominately spent resting, moaning, and recouping for the next feat on the agenda.

The first illness made its presence known in me. Sore throat, general sense of blaaah. The kind of sick that you wish was just a little less horrible so you could function better, or just a little bit worse so you could feel justified in curling up in bed. It did neither. It stubbornly hovered in that functional but miserable area for a few days before jumping ship to my wife and daughter. I would return from work to find Moonshot and Elsa sprawled on the couch dabbing their noses and Norah sitting with a blank expression…a slug-like trial of snot escaping her nostril.

I was upset for my wife that the timing was so horrible…decreasing the enjoyment of her birthday present and all. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Elsa’s presence had been, in some ways, well timed. We actually made it through a week with a sick child and were willing to file it under “slightly annoying.” That alone proves Elsa’s impact on events.

Elsa went home on Monday, the first day that everyone felt pretty close to being themselves. We were given one day of mucus-free living before a second wave of invasion dragged us back into painful throats and chapped noses. Norah sleeps poorly, snoring and waking to cough. This lack of sleep leads to general grumpiness that must be dealt with by parents who are themselves battling the round-robin outbreak and not much in the mood to listen to a little girl shriek and blow snot bubbles just because we took away the remote control.

Currently…I’m remaining relatively untouched by this bonus round…but I figure I’ll get hit just as Norah and Moonshot recover. It adds a nice layer of symmetry to the whole endeavor

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #11

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And Happy 4th of July!!