Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy new year!

In the words of Franz Liszt, "Merry Christmas, y'all." (Bet you didn't know he was from SOUTHERN Hungary, did you?)

It's been a busy year at Burton Manor, home of the Burton-Lyfords (or, if you prefer, Lyford-Burtons). We have spent a lot of time adjusting this year. The boys are both doing very well at Montessori School. Kid1 has started kindergarten at The Big School and is learning so much that in two years he'll be overqualified for management. Kid2 is now one of the older kids at The Little School (aka preschool) and is starting to develop leadership skills. However, I don't know if I like his plan of annexing Ohio first. Kentucky seems a better target, but you have to let kids learn.

The boys have also started karate classes, to help with their coordination, concentration, discipline, and appreciation of old Bill Cosby bits. "Now he only picks on jello and whipped cream."

Richard took Eva to her first Indy 500 this year. What a finish! What a first race! Not only was it one of the best finishes ever, it was great for her to see another Andretti loss in her first race. She wrote about it in her blog in June, so you know it's huge if it's been blogged. She may not be too interested in going again, especially on such on a hot day, but it is something everyone should try once.

We took two trips to Brown County State Park this summer. The first was a day-trip to go hiking, with a side stop at the Oliver Winery, which we've been asked if we own now that we wear the Oliver hats. While on the hike, kid2 spotted a bullsnake that kid1 had passed and wanted to step into poison ivy-laced undergrowth to check it out. From a distance, it looked like it might have been a rattlesnake, and that hiss sounded close enough to a rattle. Richard, fortunately, did not need his spare set of boxers, and the boys got a nice lesson: nature is not all Disney. We also saw some wild turkeys in the park, which nearly inspired the adults to crack open the wine on the way home after a day of kid-herding. The second trip was in late summer, right before the boys went back to school. We stayed at one of the Abe Martin Lodge cabins in the woods. It was neat for Eva and the boys, but Richard, having grown up listening to Waylon and Willie, didn't find it quite as fascinating. This didn't involve too much danger, except for short but steep climb at the end of one hike. There was also a huge scary-looking spider near the cabin that inspired all sorts of Tolkeinesque stories, some from the kids.

During the summer, Eva and Richard went to southern Ohio to visit his mother's relatives, the outdoor toilet side of the family. Oddly enough, Eva did not run screaming to the horizon, though that does make sense given the local snake population. That she didn't immediately file for a divorce/annulment is a good sign, though we shouldn't expect her to wear a Git'r'done belt buckle with Daisy Duke shorts any time soon.

One of Richard's highlights was taking the boys to their first Colts game, a pre-season affair with the Bengals. The Colts do know how to do pregame introductions, with both boys' eyes rivetted to the field. A big motorcycle on the field! Fireworks! Cheerbabes! Popcorn! It was the coolest thing in the world!

You may not have heard, but there has been an addition to our family. On that fateful day, Richard called his father to let him know that he was about to become a grandfather again ... of a bouncing baby beagle. As soon as she came into the play area at the Humane Society, we were all sold. Eva dubbed her Perl, after Richard's favorite programming language, and she has become the center of our family life. Eva and kid1 took her to a few basic obedience training classes, and Richard took over when Eva got sick. (Too bad the place only works with dogs, not kids.) Perl is an absolute sweetie, though there are days when Eva is accurate in saying she is "slightly less trouble than she's worth." She still has a lot of puppy in her and has charmed everyone she's met. Our house and life is very dog-oriented. Seeing how Perl and the boys interact, Eva and Richard are now wondering why they didn't get a dog earlier.

Here's hoping for a better new year than the end of this year was. Eva has been sick for four straight weeks and counting, kid2 and kid1 have been sick off and on, and after holding it off for so long, Richard has finally succumbed. Eva wants to call a "do over" on November, but Richard's knowledge of physics and time says that this is unlikely to happen. On the other hand, Richard is considering a correspondence course to be medicine man, starting with the "You Too Can Speak Sioux in Twenty Lessons or Less" cassette series.

Here's to a happier, healthier New Year for all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Did they finally take me seriously?

I just realized today that it appears my family and loved ones finally took me seriously in my regular affirmatons about the benefits of using the public library collection, the Project Gutenberg e-books, my fussing about lack of space for book storage, and angst over my ever-growing hopper of books to read at my bedside. For the first time in, probably, ever, I didn't get a book for Christmas.

Oh, they all did plenty well with gifts (Star Trek DVD collection! Woo-hee!) but I was shocked to receive not a single piece of literature. Not one. Nada.

And, as the kids said, it was still the best Christmas ever. I was home with my children and family, everyone fairly healthy, well-fed, warm and secure - I really couldn't ask for more, except hoping that everyone else enjoyed the day too. Merry Christmas, all!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I'm trying to make sure this holiday season that I'm logging 10,000 steps a day, to combat the rising digits on the scale with rising digits on a pedometer. I'm doing ok, but have seen no real change in the scale yet, though a previously unwearable pair of jeans has now become merely tight. That's ok for now. I'm also thinking that setting an average goal of 10,000 steps a day in the new year may be something that gets me up and moving, breaks my sedentary habits, and is an exercise I can actually get my heart into (and hopefully, for the holidays I'll get a cool and more usable pedometer to replace my old but servicable one; unfortunately, the reset on that one is prone to jarring and a heartrending 00000 appears midday.) I don't watch tv or sit around much, other than when computing. After wearing the pedometer for a few days without consciously trying to change my habits (although I suppose I must have just by putting on the pedometer!), I found I logged a baseline of 5,000 or so steps 'natively'. After trying to adjust my habits a little - by following the Jane Fonda credo to "park far and walk" to get in shape, I started to get up and moving more - and that surprisingly nudged me up to around 7000 steps easily. Wow, a 40% change with just a little more thoughtfullness. Yesterday, I put the dog on the leash and we went for a trot; this sent me right up to 13,000+ steps.

I'm also planning to log my steps at Check out the nifty widget they have for me, now debuting in my sidebar. I love useless statistics and trivia, and this widget blends them so artfully.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Fiddling with Frappr

I set up a Frappr map a while ago for a set of friends, and then today stumbled upon their "Friends" map feature that allows me to create a map which I could use to let blog visitors note that they've visited. Neat! However it looks pretty lame, brand new and all, with just a few paltry pins in it. It passes muster for a post but definitely not for my tweakily obsessive sidebar - yet. (I have this eerie vision of a beautiful, badge bar type of sidebar where all the badges are only 80 pixels wide and still legible, interesting, and thematic. I must be dreaming.) Help my Frappr map by adding a pin or two and maybe it can make the grade. : ) And thanks to my pal Jenni for (I think accidentally) clueing me in to this feature in Frappr by updating her Frappr profile!