The Gravley Life

Monday, October 31, 2005

(insert generic blog title here) Happy Halloween!

Betsy, her Mom, Bones, and I piled into our van in the wee hours of this past Saturday morning heading for Betsy’s sister’s family’s house in Iowa for the weekend (yikes, that was a long sentence). The drive was uneventful, but the stay was fantastic, as usual. We all love visiting their two little girls, Melissa and Sonja (pictured below).

I like Iowa, as it turns out. After years of being conditioned by dumb Iowan jokes and hearing about how corn is so copious that it’s on the brink of overtaking civilization as we know it, I just couldn’t see the appeal. But after having visited the state a few times, I can see that it does actually have something offer after all. For example, the southern part of Iowa, where we stayed, is not flat and dull. It’s actually quite hilly and beautiful. The rolling deciduous landscape reminds me a lot of those American farm oil paintings you find at flea markets (like this one, for example). I’d even say more nice things about Iowa, but my Minnesotan acquaintances might excommunicate me, and I don’t want that. I have to make clear, just so there’s no confusion, that the top two thirds of the state are, in fact, very flat and on the brink of being taken over by corn.

I don’t think I’ve posted any pictures of my nieces Melissa and Sonni before in my little corner of the web. I intercepted some pictures of them apple picking and also at a kids’ Halloween event. Oh, Melissa is three and a half, and Sonni is turning two next month. I hope you enjoy them!

(click them to see the full picture)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Learning to Over-Share

Warning: this post contains over-sharing. Read at your own risk

People have told me that I’m an optimist; that I tend to look for the good and positive in even the worst of situations. For example, I was sitting here envying one of the very few positive aspects of being a crack addicted twenty-something selling their organs for money. I’m not sure why my mind would immediately jump to this scenario, but hey, I’m just along for the ride and my
id’s in the driver’s seat. But I digress, for now…

At some point during the past three or four years, I became a student. Most of you know that I’m trying to get my degree. I’m taking one to three classes per semester which usually means I’m gone two nights each week for school in addition to studying. But that’s not where it ends… During my commutes, I learn Portuguese with my fancy new MP3 player. I’m currently on my 37th of a total of 90 30 minute lessons (it’s great fun, I love it). Additionally, at work on my breaks and late at night, I’m going to through CSS lessons. CSS is a technology that web designers use to make their websites look pretty. This is preemptive learning for my Blog’s redesign (coming later this year). Also, I’m constantly watching cooking shows, reading cooking media (all kinds), and practicing my cooking on Betsy’s unfortunate and forgiving palette. Lastly, I’m doing lots of reading and other types of research on kids and becoming a father.

I know people say that you never stop learning, but I have a feeling I might be going a little above and beyond.

I don’t know for certain why I’ve turned into this studious person, but I have three theories. First, I am trying to quench my brain’s thirst for knowledge after having wasted my adolescent education with disinterest and underachievement. It sounds good, but my second theory is just as likely. I just happened to stumble into these new interests recently, and it’s just a coincidence that I have the motive, time (barely), and means to learn all of these things where I didn’t have all three of those before.

My third theory is the strangest and least likely of the three. In my life I’ve usually clung to one vice or another for whatever reason; never more than one, but usually not less than one. For example, at one point I smoked (cigarettes, fyi), at another point I drank (during college), and at another point I played online games a lot. It’s always been something, not to the point of danger, but to the point where I could say I had a little vice. My third theory is that learning is my new vice since I don’t smoke, don’t play video games, don’t drink very much, or participate in any other “vices” that I can think of.

One thing is for sure, that crack addicted twenty-something selling their organs for money knows he or she has a problem. There can’t be any doubt in their mind that they are addicted. I envy that (and just that one aspect) because it's not that clear to me if I have an "addiction". I mean, it's not like I'm desperately hawking my wife prized possessions and selling plasma for books (…yet). Because then, I'd know for sure I had a problem.

But honestly, I don’t have "a problem", but it’s getting harder to ignore the potential considering the length of my laundry list of studies.

Who knows? Maybe I’m having a one-third life crisis - trying to stuff every moment of life with something of interest. (uh oh, there's another theory

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

An email from Tracey and Kevin

I got an email from my sister and brother-in-law announcing and talking about their first kid. I thought you might enjoy what they have to say and look at the pictures.

Hi Everyone,

Kevin and I are very happy to announce the arrival of Andrew Jason Crisp! He was born very punctually on his due date Oct. 4. In fact, labor started just a couple of hours after the day began and Kevin and I headed to the hospital by three o’ clock. I was in labor until 8 that night when it became apparent that things were not going as planned and Andy wasn’t coming out. I had a C-section at 8pm and it became apparent that his size (and partly mine) was the cause- he was born 9 lb 2 oz! He’s very beautifull and very well behaved.

Today is his first week birthday and he had a check-up and is doing great. Also, I’m recovering well from the procedure and have been told that I should feel 100% in about a week. It’s been a little hectic around here because I can’t do as much while I recover and Kevin is swamped at work, but, then, we’re so taken with Andy that it’s totally worth it.

I’ve included four pics. One of me the week before birth and you can see that Andy was huge. The other three are of Andy. What a cutie :)

Kevin gets an extended weekend this weekend and we’ll be headed up north for an early Halloween celebration and I’ll be sure to send pictures of Andy in his little pumpkin costume.

Hope this finds you well,
Tracey & Kevin.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Straight to Size 1

**Updated with a new picture**

Tracey gave birth to a 9 pounds 2 ounce Andrew Jason Crisp last night (October 4th) at 8:23pm. Andy is a healthy and beautiful boy with red hair, and Tracey is recovering well. Here is a picture of Kevin holding Andy taken from my cellphone (so it's low res):

I'll post a couple more pictures tomorrow so you can see Andy with more detail.

Tracey started labor at 2am, and though she had contractions all day, she didn't start pushing until about 6pm. She pushed for a long time and did an amazing job all day, but Andrew was a little too big, so she had a c-section. The c-section went perfectly.

Kevin came out with Andy and we got to oooh and awww over him for a little bit. They started processing him for measurement, shots, and the like. The nurse weighed him, turned to Kevin, and said, "we're going to skip the newborn diapers and go straight to size 1." We thought that was very funny.

Incidentally, Andy was born on the 4th, which is the same day of the month as Tracy and Kevin's anniversary. Also, his time of birth (8:23) is the same as Betsy and mine's anniversary.

Kevin, Tracey, and Andy are at the Northfield Hospital. The contact information is Northfield Hospital, 2000 North Avenue • Northfield, MN 55057 Phone: 507-646-1000.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Like Cats and Dogs (unrelated anecdotes included!)

Any relationship between two animals where there is a five to one difference in size is fated to have its difficulties. I’m speaking of our cat Bud and our dog Bones.

Eight months after moving into our new house, and just as Bud was getting really comfortable, we decided to get a dog. Since Bud’s successfully lived with a yellow lab for a year, we hoped that Bones and Bud would get along right away. Here’s how I pictured it; Bones might hold Bud’s hair back as he puked up our houseplants, and in return Bud might provide his services as a comfortable feline thermo-pillow. But it was not meant to be…

--In case I’m boring you (don’t worry, this happens to many people), here’s an anecdotal link to refresh your interest in this story by distracting you for a brief period of time. Here are instructions on
how to shuffle a deck of cards with one hand(opens a new window). Amazing!

As I was saying, the vision I had for their amicable coexistence was not meant to be.

Bones, being part coonhound, found Bud to be an exceptional coon/toy and relentlessly chased him off of the top floor of the house into the basement where he was scared to pursue. Whenever Bones saw Bud coming out of that basement, his eyes would roll into the back of his head like a shark and there was nothing we could do to stop him from chasing/hunting our poor cat. So, Bud lived in the basement - a sad and lonely existence punctuated by Betsy or me going down there to pet him or feed him a few times each day.

Something had to be done, so we came up with a plan to try to get these two to live in peace together. Our plan: Every time Bones didn’t treat Bud with gentleness and patience, he was put in his kennel for a couple of minutes.

After a couple of months (sigh, poor Bud), Bud finally found the courage to sit at the top of the steps. He would bat at Bones with his de-clawed paws with this killer rapid-fire bat-fu action. As soon as Bones would lift a paw to defend himself, into the kennel he went. It might not seem fair to Bones (or you) that Bud got to swing away at Bones unpunished, but that’s the burden of being five times bigger. Besides, Bud needed the confidence.

-- Another anecdotal link, something I never thought I would see: Someone created a system where
video playback speed is controlled by the amount of play-doh on a table(opens a new window).

About a month after the bat-fu attack was discovered, Bud learned that he could hide in corners and on furniture on the main floor. If Bones bothered him, he would bat-fu him away. Another three months passed and Bones and Bud seemed to tolerate each other and we didn’t need the kennel anymore. Bud could roam the house cautiously.

These days, Bones and Bud aren’t best friends, but they certainly tolerate each other’s existence with remarkable patience. I think their progress has mostly leveled off, but as you can see in the picture below, things are much better now. Bones finally got his comfortable feline thermo-pillow and Bud only goes into the basement to use his litter box and to get some peace and quiet.

This pictures makes me laugh because this couch sharing situation happens fairly often. The funny part is that Bones sometimes pretends to "stretch" while he's sleeping to kick bud off because he know's that the only way he can kick him off without getting in trouble. Heh.