Friday, May 30, 2008


A New Take on an Old Tradition

I've been taking Emily out for a long years now around the time of her birthday for some frou-frou time and father/daughter bonding. The tradition is that she usually gets new acrylic nails done professionally. And since she's a captive audience, I get to talk with her about whatever might be on my mind.

The dynamic is a little different now. Anna and Katie both wanted to give the big lady nails a try and, being wrapped around their finger, I couldn't say no. They both chose colors that worked well for them and had a lot of fun studying everything the nail professional did.

I think it's pretty tough to be a "normal" and "well-adjusted" woman in our culture. So I feel the need to act on the idea that beauty is an internal and subjective thing, not an external thing done to satisfy others. So many young women struggle with self-image issues in our culture. So we spent a lot of the time just talking about the whole idea of fake nails, what's ok about it, and what's not.

One of these days, they'll figure out that these traditions are intended to solidify the ideas that 1) they are deeply loved, and 2) that by being loved, we then have much greater capacity to in turn love others. I'm also pretty sure that they fully understand that these little things are also all about having fun and doing your own thing.

This believe on my part is informed by my religious beliefs as a practicing Christian. We should show our love for each other extravagantly, as God did for us through Jesus Christ. But I think that, no matter who you are or what you believe, allowing such a belief (that is, that you are loved and in turn can and should love others) to permeate your life is never a bad thing.


P.S. I took Rachel's older girls, Savannah and Kaylee, out for the same trip on their birthdays. They had a ball too.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


My Favorite New Blogger... Jessica Hagy. She's totally awesome - very smart and funny. Her blog is composed entirely of drawings on 5x7 index cards, usually ven diagrams such as the previous or the following one:

Or this one:

Blogroll her today!



Monday, May 26, 2008


The TN Renaissance Fair, 2008

It's that time of year again -every weekend in May - time for the TN Renaissance Fair. We were blessed with unusually good weather this year. It was relatively cool and breezy, while still being a nice sunny day. And despite all of the rain we've had this month, it wasn't muddy either. The knights were quite a spectacle on the jousting grounds and the living chess match seemed a bit more polished and with more elaborate choreography.

Dylan and Emily had other plans for the day. I suppose I'll have to get more and more used to that as they each become more independent. But I still missed them. So, like this year, it was my girls plus Rachel and her three girls.

The big treat for the lil girls this year was henna tatoos. I forgot to load up on cash before going to the Fair. So I didn't have anything left over after drinks and the tatoos - except enough for one funnel cake - which the girls decended upon like ravenous vultures, only much cuter and better smelling. Savannah chose a flower on her forearm.

Anna chose a butterfly for her shoulder. (Notice that she just had to wear her cute little Bavarian dress I bought for her in Munich. I think this might be the last year it fits her.)

Ava got a butterfly for her arm - a different one from what Anna chose.

Kaylee got a really pretty heart pattern on her foot.

And Katie got yet another unique butterfly for her foot.

The thing that's really cool about the henna tatoos is that they stain your skin. So when the henna paste dries and crumbles off, you still have the pretty picture for another week or two.

This is the whole gang collapsed on the 30 mile hike back to our car (I exaggerate of course, but it was a long way.) A brilliant marketing person at Vitamin Water was handing out free samples on our way out, so they earned the undying gratitude of this very parched group of girlies.

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Friday, May 16, 2008


Dylan at Prom



Skinned Knees

Katie has a tradition of running down the handicap-access ramp at the YMCA in a spunky-kid attempt to beat me and her sisters down the stairs. Usually, she wins because she runs at maximum speed.

When we came down the stairs earlier in the week, Katie took off as usual down the ramp - but this time she was wearing flip-flops. Not a good choice for a high-speed sprint and, BLAM!, she was skidding across the concrete before I could even think straight. She skinned up her knees, big toes, and palms pretty badly, but especially her knees.

I probably should've taken her into the YMCA to see if they had any first-aid care. But my brain wasn't thinking too clearly, so I took her home instead. It was a 15-20 minute ride with her bravely and sometimes unsuccessfully fighting back the tears the whole time. Dylan drove and I held her, while Anna Lynn blew on her scraps to try to help ease the pain.

When we got her home, I doctored her up as best I could manage, making her look a lot like the mummy. She wanted her mom, so Kelly popped in and, in the end, wound up taking her to her place for some individual TLC. It's great that she can live so close.

Being the lil trooper that she is, Katie was back to being the spunky burst of energy that she always is in no time at all. Brave little girl!


Thursday, May 15, 2008


Europe at the Speed of Light

The Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland

I recently completed a whirlwind tour of Europe on behalf of my employer, Quest Software. As is typical for these sorts of trips, we try to pack in as many customer meetings and public seminars as possible to maximize the value of the trip while I'm there. This trip spanned seven cities and four countries. During the first week, I visited Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, and Franfkurt in Germany as well as Copenhagen, Denmark. I've blogged about all of those places before so I won't spend much time on them now.

(Note to self - I just checked and it looks like I did NOT blog about Copenhagen or Amsterdam. I'll post pictures of those wonderful places soon.)

My usual routine was to rise early, around 6:00 am, head to the airport (or train station) for departure around 8:00-9:00 am. I would arrive in the destination city before lunch and visit one or two customers. The sales people and I would grab some dinner, then we'd give a presentation at a local SQL Server user group meeting that night. European culture being what it is, we'd then go for beers, allowing me to get back to the hotel around 11:00 only to start it all over again the next day. Whew!

During my second week, I visited Amsterdam as well as Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne is a smallist city of about 150,000 with two main areas - beach and city. (Amsterdam in another post!) It's only about 40 km from Geneva and less than 10 km from the well-known resort towns of Vevey and Montreaux (where the band Deep Purple wrote "Smoke on the Water").

Switzerland, first and foremost, is mountainous. This is both beautiful, when you're looking, and arduous, when you're walking. The lower hills are covered with vineyards and small farms, while the upper hills and mountains are adorned with little villages and snow-capped peaks. The cities are clean and the people, contrary to the stereotype, are not generally multi-lingual. Most people I ran into only spoke French, unless they worked in the travel or hospitality business or were in IT as I am. All the signage was in French.

I was surprised that there were so many vineyards since Switzerland isn't known for wine. But from what I gathered from the locals, there's a very strong culture to buy locally. So most if not all of the wine produced locally is consumed locally. Same goes for the famous Swiss chocolate. The Swiss eat more chocolate than anyone else, about 7 kilograms per year (that's over 15 pounds!). Although brands like Toblerone and Lindt are famous, the Swiss eat more dark chocolate than I had imagined.

Switzerland is also expensive overall and uses the Swiss Franc instead of the Euro (which was a good thing since the Franc had a more favorable exchange rate than the Euro). The Swiss are an affluent people and so can afford to have the nicer things in life. Throughout the whole trip, I never felt like I was in a low-rent part of town. The pretty town of Lausanne and French/Swiss architecture made for some nice sightseeing, with the gorgeous Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva as a backdrop.

One peculiarity I found common throughout northern Europe was that there's no air conditioner in your hotel room. And if there's an AC in your car, don't expect a European to use it. I wasn't sure if it was just unusually warm for that time of year, but I found myself a tad uncomfortable most of the time. It wasn't uncommon to be with my German colleagues all wearing suits and even vests and yet not turn on the AC. I was sweaty but tried my best to just get used to it.

While there, my colleagues and I did our seminar at the amazing Beau Rivage Palace. This place was literally a 19th century palace and it showed in every detail of the place. To give you an idea what the place was like, the gift shop(s) carried famous Swiss watch brands that averaged around $3,000 after currency conversion. Of course, you could spend a lot more than that on a fine Swiss watch if you wanted.

I hope to go back some day and enjoy all of the activities and sights that the beautiful lake and mountains offer!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The Kids Choir Trip to NYC

I've been meaning to post pictures of Dylan & Emily's choir trip to NYC, but I've been so busy that it's been tough to find the time. One problem has always been carefully laying out all of the pictures on the Blogspot editor. Rachel turned me on to an awesome new service called Photobucket which makes this process much easier. You simply upload your pics to Photobucket and it will create a bloggable slide show for you. Voila!

Click on the link below to see more pictures.

Photobucket Album


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