Sunday, November 27, 2005


Thanksgiving's in the thanking

Thanksgiving was a doozy this year. We went down to Kelly's brother's house and met her dad and step-mom, plus her brother, sister-in-law, and all three of their kids. Kelly and I have a lot going on emotionally and relationship-wise, but we did the best we could and, in the end, it turned out to be a pretty good day.

The girls stayed at their aunt's house and Dylan spent the night with a friend. Kell and I returned home and went to bed early. On the following day, I performed one of my annual Christmas season traditions - early morning shopping for bargains. I found a few good deals at Staples and the crowds weren't too terrible. Plus, the Staples crew had a great system that made it a trample-free, riot-free morning. So I made my mind up that I could go back to Staples next year. But most other places, Wal-Mart in particular, are in the category of "No f--king way".

Later that night, we did another post-Thanksgiving tradition. We decorated the Christmas tree. We've got lots of beautiful ornaments for the tree, but I thought I'd show a pic of one that's really special (grin).

I'm not sure if I did enough thanking this week. But there are so many things I have to be thankful for. I just don't know where to begin.

- I'm thankful for Kelly.
- I'm thankful for friends who truly care.
- I'm beyond thankful and incredibly blessed by my son and three daughters. Each of them are better than a season of the year and just as distinct.
- I'm thankful for good health especially because I haven't always had it.

Today was an especially beautiful fall day. It was about 60 degrees and partly sunny. And there's nothing as relaxing and enjoyable to me as working in the yard, especially with the kids playing nearby. Some people relax with a good book, others use a fly rod, and some folks like to watch a game. But for me, there's nothing so soothing as working with brown of the earth and the green of the plants.

With our new yard so full of big hardwood trees, I had ample opportunity to work in the yard and have the kids out playing. Leaf raking! I have great memories of Dylan and Emily jumping into huge piles of leaves back at our house on Bonnabrook. And I knew that it was my duty as a dad to provide the same kind of wonderful memories for Anna Lynn and Katie Jo in the new place. They had a ball jumping in the huge piles of leaves and flinging them around. I just had to smile, set the rake aside, and snap a few picks.

The bad news is that our new yard is so frickin' huge that I'll have to do some more raking tomorrow. But, as long as the weather holds out, it'll be just as grand.

And just to make sure the day is packed, we'll also probably hang a rope or a tire swing and finish up with doing our outside Christmas decorations.

Now there's another area I could go on a long rant about - outside Christmas decorations. We're only going to put some Christmas lights around the windows on the front of the house. But have you seen these people who literally fill up every square inch of their yards with Christmas stuff? I'm talkin' Christmas lights around every external feature of the house, lighting nets over the bushes, lighted wire reindeers, inflatable lighted snowmen, inflated lighted Santas, nativity scenes, and on and on. What gives?!? It's not a competition people and the points don't count in the afterlife!

Oh well, it's late and I'm tired. Rest well, friends...


Saturday, November 19, 2005


The Beauty of Fall

I've had the joy of spending a lot of time with my kids this weekend. On Friday, Katie Jo and I went for a walk to both ends of our street. We visited with current neighbors and some new neighbors who are finishing up construction on their new house. We played in the creek. We tossed pine needles and climbed the stonework at the end of the driveways. But we had the most fun tossing dozens and dozens of acorns into one of the bigger crawdad holes in the creek.

Thursday was Katie's last day at preschool for a few days due to the Thanksgiving holidays. So I went to visit her, along with Kelly, for a special holiday luncheon. Many parents and grandparents were there. Most of the food was prefab and yucky, but several brave souls brought some real home cookin'. The deserts were especially good. And of course, Katie Jo had an awesome time especially with her friend Amanda.

It's funny how KJ can be so charming and funny. But she mostly chooses to be a cross between the Tasmanian Devil and a march hare.

Half of the time, I can't get enough of her and the other half of the time I'm trying to figure out how we can pay for preschool five days per week! I guess that's a dilemma all parents face.

The rest of the weekend has been very nice but also very busy. The girls and I slept in a bit, until about 8:00 am. Then, we all had baths, dressed, and enjoyed a breakfast together. After that, it was off on errands - Target, the storage unit, the lawn mower repair shop, Dylan's friend's house, the skating center, and then home. I got Dylan and Emily set up to do some extra housecleaning, which would pay for the trip to the mall they were planning so they could see the new Harry Potter movie. Meanwhile, Anna and Katie crashed for a couple hours of naptime.

It may not sound like much of a weekend. But it's been a precious opportunity to recenter my world on home and family. I've taken a lot of steps in the past several months to put my life's emphasis off of work and professional occupations and back onto my home life. I'll tell you, I can feel my blood pressure dropping every day. Unfortunately, I do not feel my hair growing back in!


-The Zebraman

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


'Membrance Monday

‘Tis another day to remember the things that I’m thankful for. The list could be huge, of course, because I’m such a blessed and luck guy. However, I’ll just list a few things that I experienced this week. Here are some things I experienced this week that brought a big smile to my face and at least a momentary rush of joy:

- Grocery shopping with TWO full carts ‘cuz our family is so big. Oh yeah, and the bill was $453!
- Seeing a little old lady and little old man walking and happily holding hands
- A hug from someone I love
- Pulling some cute kiddie clothes out of the laundry that don’t fit anymore

Don't forget to be thankful. Thanksgiving is only a week away!


Sunday, November 13, 2005


A Happenin' Saturday Night

Kelly and her girlfriends headed out for a night on the town last night, which left me ample time to catch up on chores. (I'm sure you'd have found me very sexy looking since I always do chores in a French maid outfit, fishnet stockings, and stilletto heels. JUST JOKING!)

So I invited some of my girls best friends (the three Lyttle sisters - Bailey, Morgan, and Zoe) to hang out since adult supervision was on hand to keep things under control. As it turned out, Dylan had invited a couple of his friends over as well. So we had a crowded house with lots of fun stuff going on.

Ever wonder what five hours of unadulterated laundry folding and sock matching looks like? Well, I can tell you! It looks like about 250 pairs of matched athletic socks and 2 dozen pairs of matched dark socks.

Plus, countless PJs, shorts, Disney Princess undies, camo t-shirts, towels, and so forth. Let's play I-Spy. See if you can tell me where I was sitting in the picture to the left?

The scary part for me is that I haven't even gotten to the 4' tall stack of clothes that need to be hung up! That'll take me an entire evening some time soon.

The major stumbling block for me to complete the chore, which in my mind means getting the clothes/socks into the right closer/drawer, is not knowing which one they go into. My two littlest girls, ages 4 and 6, are almost the same size. And Emily, who's 12, is getting to be nearly as big as Kel. Thank goodness that Dylan's clothes are so different from the girls. But he has about the same waste size as me (34). Still, I can tell our stuff apart but not so easily with the girls.

All the while that I was working on laundry, the older girls (Emily, Bailey, and Morgan) were painting up the little girls (Anna Lynn, Katie Jo, and Zoe) to look like zombies. Go team! Use up the last of that Halloween make-up! The spent a lot of the night haunting the corridors of the house and pretending to be princesses fighting the "darkness".

KJ's and Anna Lynn's newest creative play time is stapling. They've discovered the joys of stapling and go through loads of junk paper, stapling them all together. It's pretty funny to me, but I guess it builds important hand-eye coordination and prepares them for a future in the administrative assistant career path.

Anna Lynn, as you might expect, didn't want to be a scary monster. Instead, she wanted to be a beautiful kitty cat. Her play is so imaginative. I just love to hear her discussing play with her friends. You'll overhear her saying things like "...And pretend I was the princess who's heart was broken because her daddy was taken over by the darkness..."

Fun stuff!

How do your kids play?


Thursday, November 10, 2005


A Day in Frisco

I had to travel to San Francisco on Sunday night so that I could be there bright and early for a Microsoft product launch that started first thing on Monday morning. (In case you didn't know, I'm an expert in database technology and Microsoft was launching the newest version of their database - SQL Server 2005.)

The day started off with a big flashy presentation by Steve Balmer, the CEO of Microsoft. AC/DC music was blaring "For those about to rock". Flashy images were shooting across all of the screens and monitors. And he was ushered in by Cheap Trick - live and in person. (They were also that night's entertainment.)

There were some interesting and sort'a crazy things going on at the event. For example, there were quite a few show models who were wearing weird Teletubby shirts that had monitors built in that were constantly playing and replaying advertisements for some of the sponsors of the conference. Yes, Charlotte, that picture on the model's chest is not a picture but is actually a flat-screen TV. In the picture with me are one of the Teletubby models and Rushabh Mehta, a fellow member of the PASS board of directors (

Their were lots of other interesting things going on the entire time. Not only were there Teletubby models, there were also lots of celebrity impersonators. I didn't get a picture with Elvis. But I did get pictures with Tina Turner, Steven Tyler, Madonna, and Cher. The Cher impersonator was not a man, btw. I know that because her curly black hair were covering up some big time cleavage.

Microsoft also brought in some cool street painters who painted entirely with paint cans and airbrushes. They started painting when the party kicked off around 7:00 pm and they all finished around 11:00 pm. Here's an example of one of the paintings:

Finally, I was a judge for the SQL Server Chopper contest. In this contest, I got to judge a bunch of entries that were case studies of migrating from Oracle to SQL Server. The winner was the one whose project was the most interesting and high impact for their company. The winner of the contest got a grand prize of a custom made chopper from Orange County Choppers. I even got to meet Paul Sr. Mikey was also there and he was constantly saying mailto:F@#$ on the PA system. I guess that prima donas can do that sort of thing. Oh, and Paul Sr is every bit as muscular as the Hulk and about 3-4" shorter than me. I kid you not that his arms were every bit as big around as my thighs. Yikes!

Well, that's all for me today. I'll share more as soon as I have more to tell.


Friday, November 04, 2005


What were you for Halloween?

Fall is my favorite time of year. And Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I guess that it's because the holiday is so close to my birthday. I can remember as a little 4- and 5-yr old kid that I cried a lot on halloween, mostly because my mom and grandmom would make me dress up in these embarrassingly bad homemade costumes.

I guess that's the reason I now love self-deprecating costumes best of all these days. If it makes me look sillier or stupider than most of my friends, then that's the costume for me. My kids, however, love the silly costumers. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Just a quick posting that I got some quotes in the UK's biggest IT publication - Computer Weekly. The story is located at



Some favorite poetry

My all-time favorite poet is e. e. cummings. But here's one of my favorite poems by Robert Graves called "The naked and the nude"

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

What do you think of it... and what do you think it means?


'Membrance Monday #2

We had a low key Halloween within the Zebra household. The two oldest kids went out to trick-or-treat with their friends while mom & the two youngest went out to trick-or-treat in our old neighborhood. The new neighborhood is great, but the houses are space very wide apart and their aren't nearly as many young kids around. That means the little ones would visit much fewer houses and fewer houses would have goodies to give out.

At the end of the evening, I only had five, FIVE, trick-or-treaters. I was pretty shocked.

Well, today is the day for rememberances of things joyful and fun. Here are a few:

- family photos of truly happy people

- monkey grooming

- making my yard & landscaping better than it was before

- a cute Play-Dough figurine made by a child

What are you thankful for today?


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