Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the presence of a legend

There are very few bands or performers around today who I would classify as "legendary." I define "legendary" as one of the best of all time. U2, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, George Strait ... and Tom Petty.

I've had a general liking of Tom Petty's music, although I didn't really know it was him, since grade school. I heard some of his stuff on the radio and thought it was okay. I liked the Traveling Wilburys songs that I heard. I thought his "Don't Come Around Here No More" video was really entertaining. But I wasn't a real fan. My first real "wow" moment regarding his music, when his name really was planted into my consciousness, was when I saw Silence of the Lambs. "American Girl" was featured for a breif moment in the film, and I really liked it. Then the "Into the Great Wide Open" CD cmae out. It was one of the first five CDs that I ever owned, and I like it as much today as I did back in high school when I used to play it over and over as I sat at my drawing table working on art projects late into the night. It's fair to say that "Into the Great Wide Open" and Rush's "Roll the Bones" became the soundtrack for my Junior year in high school.

I bought my first Tom Petty album in college. It was his Greatest Hits album. At the time, being a college student with little money, my policy for awhile was to ONLY buy Greatest Hits albums. And I played the heck out of it. There wasn't a song on it that I didn't like and only a couple that I didn't really, REALLY like. In 1994 I bought the Wildflowers album - breaking my non-greatest hits policy - and really liked it, too. And then a few years later in 1997 I saw a thing on VH1 about him (I think this was pre-Behind the Music). I determined that if I ever got the chance I would like to see him in concert, but still didn't really consider myself a fan. After all, what would Rush and U2 think?

Fast forward eleven years. Even though we now own several more Petty albums and his work on some soundtracks (Elizabethtown being our favorite), if you had asked me in April I still would have said that I liked his stuff, but that I wasn't really a fan. Then, driving back to Brenham from Houston late one night when Kristi's grandmother had been rushed to the hospital (it was about 3am and Kristi, Kayci and Noble were all sleeping), I was flipping through the radio stations trying to stay awake as I drove between Brenham and Bellville. I happened to land on some kind of news/entertainment show that was talking about new CDs that were coming out soon. They began talking about a CD coming out from a band called Mudcrutch and how good it was. "Cool name for a band," I thought.

Then they told the story about how Tom Petty's band before The Heartbreakers was called Mudcrutch and how on a whim he had decided to get the band back together after thirty years or so to play around (it wasn't hard to get them back together because most of the members of Mudcrutch ended up becoming Heartbreakers). They ended up cutting an album in his home studio and it was due to come out in the next few days. I was curious, but let it go at that.

A few days later I was at work listening to iTunes when a Petty song came on and it made me remember the radio show I had heard. So I did a search in the iTunes store for Mudcrutch and found it. I listened to all of the previews and really liked what I heard. It had a really cool sound, but it was a little more country and bluesy than his usual stuff. So I downloaded it and burned it to CD to listen to in the truck. I found Mudcrutch infectious. Every now and then a CD comes out that defines a certain season or period in my life. Mudcrutch defined spring 2008. I just couldn't stop listening to it. I highly recommend it.

I get iTunes new music updates every Tuesday in my e-mail. One day in July in my weekly e-mail there was a sidebar with artists who were on tour. Tom Petty was one of those, so I looked into it. He was playing at the Woodlands on August 29. I asked Kristi if she was interested and she said "no, check with Johnny." Johnny, my college roommate and best friend said he would love to go, so we got tickets. Then, the week of the show I mentioned to another friend, Misty, that I would be near her house on Friday for the show. She and her husband, Jason, went to the show as well and we all met up at on the lawn.

Johnny and I got to the Woodlands pavilion just as Steve Winwood was finishing up as the opening act. Neither Johnny nor wanted to give up out Man Card for seeing a Winwood show, so we went and had barbecue instead. Tom Petty came on shortly after and I must say it was one of the quickest concerts I've ever seen. By that, I mean that even though he played for a full two hours, it seemed like only thirty minutes. And he played all of his biggest hits. But he also played a couple of his lesser-known songs and some older stuff. And at one point he and the Heartbreakers launched into a ten-minute jam. I was a little disappointed that the newest song he played was "Honey Bee" from Wildflowers. He's released some really good stuff since then, including "Saving Grace" and "Jack" from his Highway Companion album in 2006. And he didn't do ANY Mudcrutch, which I was really hoping for. Instead of "Gloria," I wish he had done "Crystal River," which would make a really nice free-form jam. And "Scare Easy" is easily as powerful as "Won't Back Down."

I've seen Willie Nelson play live three times - twice from less than 30 feet away. As I was standing there watching the show it occurred to me that this show had a very similar feeling. There's something really COOL about being in the same space as a true legend. Even though I was about a hundred yards away from the stage, it still felt great to be there in the presence of greatness. Like his music or not, you have to admit that the man has produced a body of work that is as engrained in our culture and that he's a master at what he does. And that says nothing about the Heartbreakers. Now THAT is an under-appreciated band. Watching Mike Campbell play the guitar was just incredible. I was standing there watching a legend of rock do what he does best. Part of me wishes I had ponied up for the $150 tickets. But that's the part of me that also made me buy purple pants in Jr. High. I've found it's best not to listen to that part very often.

So that's what I did with my Friday night. I rolled back into Brenham about 12:30 and plopped into bed, dead tired but thoroughly satisfied that I had finally gotten to see a performer of whom I will finally admit to being a fan.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gas prices!

[Note: sorry for some of the strong language in the e-mail version. I always write the first draft the way I intend it to come out and edit it later. I accidentally published the post before I redacted the curse words. Won't happen again.

Buckle up, because I'm fired up. This is going to be a bumpy post.

Did anyone else notice that gas jumped almost 20 cents over night?

Sure, there's TROPICAL STORM Gustav out in the gulf. Actually, strike that. It's not even IN the gulf yet. It's still over freaking Jamaica as I write this. They're not even projecting it to ENTER the gulf until Sunday afternoon which - let me do the carry the 2... - yeah, isn't even for TWO MORE DAYS! And then the National Hurricane Center isn't even expecting it to make landfall until Wednesday!

Why is it that we're told that drilling offshore in the gulf or in Alaska would be pointless because it would be ten years before we would see any of that oil and that it wouldn't affect prices now at all. Yet a storm that's not even in the gulf yet causes the price of gas to rise 20 cents over night? What kind of crap is that? Because it MIGHT disrupt offshore operation on some rigs, so the price goes up? How long does to take for oil drilled in the gulf to get to the refinery, be refined, then make its way to the gas station? I figure a couple of weeks, conservatively. I KNOW I'm over simplifying this. It's not like the oil they pump this week is the gas I'm using in two weeks. I realize they have HUGE storage facilities. I know that the process is much more complicated than I'm painting it here. I realize that any time there's a storm it shuts down all the tankers. My point is that shouldn't something actually HAPPEN before prices jump? This speculation business is out of control.

And then, once the storm passes, why then does it take MONTHS for the price to go back down, not the weeks that a logical supply chain should require? Prices should go back down to pre-hurricane levels (assuming, of course, that none of the pumping rigs were damaged, thereby reducing supply) once the rigs were staffed and pumping again.
[EDIT: Thanks for the education, Layne, on what they have to go through after they shut down a refinery. Interesting stuff. My larger point is that we should have more refining capacity so that a couple of refineries isn't so big a hit to the overall production.]

I was commuting between Brenham and Houston every day during the summer when Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast. I watched gas prices rise from $2.00 a gallon to $2.80-ish (and over $3.00 in some places) when Katrina hit. Prices subsided to the $2.60 range before Rita hit and they went back up to Katrina levels. And they stayed there. Because they could.  People continued to pay the high prices.  Because prices have always gone down in the past, right?  Why should we alter our driving habits for a short-term spike, right?  Three years later, they're a dollar higher, and that's after an almost 50 cent slip since the height of the summer.

So I paid $2.55 this morning to fill up my truck. It cost $70. When I bought it three years ago it cost $40 to fill it. Earlier this summer it cost almost $90 when prices were hovering around $4.00 (for no good reason.) Anyone else notice that in the last month or so as gas prices slipped back a little that the economy started picking up? There's a link. We're finally at that tipping point where gas prices are affecting everyone's bottom lines. Frankly, I'm surprised that it took this long. And also, frankly, I'm embarrased that when prices dip down to freaking $3.45 a gallon that everyone rushes out and fills up because we've been conditioned to think that we're getting a good deal. Why is the American public acting like such a bunch of mind-numbed lemmings? We're told that there are more pressing issues. Crime... Iraq... The upcoming election... What's hot at the box office... What's Britney Spears doing today... So we accept high gas prices as inevitable and continue with our lives unchanged. We put up with - and accept - this stuff.

I don't fault the oil companies for making a profit. That's what they're in business for. And I hope to God that Obama isn't elected because his rhetoric about "windfall profit taxes" scares the heck out of me. Have we come so close to a Communist state that the government can talk about seizing private corporate profits ... and the public ACCEPTS it???? My friends, that's only one step away from the government stepping in and saying that you made too much last year and that your "excess profits" will be confiscated - in the form of taxes - to be redistributed to the less wealthy. That's the point where the government is deciding what its citizens are worth and what they earn. And that sounds a lot like the USSR, pal.

Of course, I come with a solution. It has four parts. First and foremost is for the government to allow more drilling by not tying the hands of the oil companies. Technology has made drilling much cleaner than in the past, which is the primary argument that environmentalists use when arguing against new drilling.

We also need more refining capacity. The US is still refining at the same capacity that it was in 1976, when the last oil refinery was completed. The population has increased 71% since then.

Third, stop the use of ethanol. It's sucking much-needed corn out of circulation in a year when droughts and floods have destroyed cops across the United States. That grain goes to feed livestock and to make things like corn syrup, which is in almost everything these days. The fact that so much corn is suddenly being used for fuel is a huge reason why grocery prices have risen so dramatically over the past year. It's also an inefficient fuel. It takes 26.1 lbs of corn to make a single gallon of ethanol. That's almost exactly the amount of corn a single person eats in a year. And there's still conflicting opinions on whether ethanol is even good for your car at all.

Fourth, continue to develop new and alternative energy sources. Anyone who says that wind power or solar power alone can give us all the power we need is living a pipe dream. From what I've read, nuclear energy is still the cleanest and most efficient fuel there is in any sizeable (read: usable to power large sections of the country) form. Develop new technologies that can be used twenty or thirty years down the road while we wean ourselves off of oil. It's a little scary that I actually agree with Paris Hilton's energy policy. But as I see it, the best approach is a two-pronged approach, not the either-or choices that McCain and Obama seem to hold.

For another great energy plan, read Congressman Michael McCaul's energy plan. I hope he runs for president in a few years.

So, now you know. That's what a 20 cent rise in gas prices does to me. I know, it's not pretty, but I'm tired of paying it and being quiet about it. I hope other people are as fed up with this continuous ridiculous madness as I am, especially when things can be done about it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Can't Wait

The soundtrack of my life: the washer's running, the dryer is pinging (buttons, zipper...I should check), the TV's on to provide background noise since they're working on the street outside the room where Noble's trying to nap...Noble screaming

This week has been all about Kayci--and rightly so--but I thought today I'd talk a bit about Noble. Specifically, about how I've really been looking forward to the work aspect of Kayci going to school (i.e., Noble will nap twice a day, I'll have time to WORK...). Well, that hasn't happened, and it's day 4. Although, to be fair, yesterday was Wednesday so I was in Houston working and so technically, I have gotten in a day's work this week. But back to today...I made a decision this morning that it was time for tough love. When Noble woke up 30 minutes after going to sleep this morning, I let him lay in his crib and cry for 15 minutes, then went in, comforted him, left. Did it again...then when I went in to comfort him, he had rolled over on his back and was mad about that and because he was screaming at that point, he gave himself a tummy ache. As badly as I needed to work, I couldn't leave him there. So I got him up, walked him until he quieted down, then put him down to play for a bit so we could start the process all over again. Now we're on AM nap, take two--I came into the office to get away from the screaming. :) Does it hurt my heart? Not so much. Do I get impatient? Not so much. I just want him to be a good sleeper, and for some reason that's one of my parental weaknesses. (Argh!)

As I was rocking him, trying to lull one of us, I picked up my MOPS book for this year, the mommy diaries: finding yourself in the daily adventure. Sure, I thought, after avoiding the book all summer...I could probably stand some self-help at this point. I opened it up, and found this song by one of my favorite artists:

I Can't Wait
--Sara Groves

When you reach the proper age
I will teach you to read and you can turn the pages
How to dress and tie your shoes
Your one plus ones, and your two times two's
And you'll teach me
Of hearts and dreams
And all the most important things
And all that I have lost along the way
And I can't wait

As you grow, I'll show you things
How to ride your bike and kick your legs out on the swings
To fold your hands and bow your head
To say your prayers before you go to bed
And you'll teach me
Of hearts and dreams
And all the most important things
And all that I have lost along the way
And I can't wait

How do you sleep so peacefully?
How do you trust unflinchingly?
How do you love so faithfully?
How do you dance so joyfully?
And you'll teach me
Of hearts and dreams
And all the most important things
And all that I have lost along the way
And I can't
No I can't
Come teach me
And you'll teach me
Of hearts and dreams
And all the most essential things
And all that I have lost along the way
And I can't wait

This really jumped out at me today, because it sums up so much of the adventure that is parenting. As my children grow I find myself growing with them, and the lesson I've learned this summer is that every day isn't perfect...but I can find peace every day. I can find joy in the craziness of a baby who refuses to sleep, just as easily as I can with a 5-year old who can't wait to get up to go to school each day. I can, and I will. Work will come in due time.

And speaking of, silence from the other room...just pray this nap lasts more than 30 minutes.

I'll wrap with Kayci--she was a little anxious about my first commute yesterday, but so excited to get to ride home with Paula. I called her at 5, and she was so happy! She said, "I have good news, Mommy." What's that, Bitty? "I made a new friend today!" Then she told me how they met--they were standing in line beside each other, and before she knew it, they were just playing together. :) That made my heart happy! Then this morning, she woke up at 6:15 instead of 6:30. We were all in the office hanging out and she said, "Wow! I get to have a LOT of family time this morning!" It was a great morning, and I while I know they can't all be great, I hope to hold on to that and do my best to make the majority of them, at least, good.

Back to work...well, to work, at least...

Wait a second... I know that girl!

The Mac rumor web has been all abuzz this week about some photos that were posted to Apparently, when someone got their new 3G iPhone home they found some photos on it of a "12 year old factory worker" at FoxConn in Taiwan, which assembles iPhones and iPods. The photos were supposedly test photos that didn't get deleted before the phone shipped.

I remember my brother in law, Ronny telling me that their apartment in Taiwan is very close to FoxConn. "Cool," I thought.

Then I saw the photo (above).

Suddenly it became clear why this weekend when I spoke to my niece, Reagan, on the phone she was less than forthcoming about her week at school. And also why she never has time to write on their family blog. And why she's always so tired. Jetlag, huh? Yeah, right.

Hey, Reagan... Hang in there! And snag me a 16 gigger, okay?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

4 AM, 2nd Day of School...

James and I both stirred; we heard Kayci's door open and little feet in the hallway. The feet paused at our doorway for a moment, and I could just FEEL her looking at us, trying to figure out if we were asleep or REALLY asleep. She must have determined the latter, because the feet went back into her room, and her door shut. Being a Mommy, I couldn't ignore the middle of the night visit, so I went in to check on her. I leaned down, kissed her on the forehead, and asked if she was okay.

"I'm fine, Mommy...but how many more minutes until we can go to Krause?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day!!

I figure the pictures speak for themselves. :)

I think I'll have to actually write about this later, because right now I really don't know what to say or how to describe how I'm feeling, and I think James is in the same boat. On the one hand, we're so excited because our beautiful girl is growing up. On the other hand, our beautiful girl is growing up. Oh, the heart aches.

This morning we set the alarms so we'd have time to get up and have the first cup of coffee before surprising Kayci with breakfast in bed. She beat us to the punch, though--as I was putting my shoes on, I heard her door open and little feet run into the hallway. I got the BIGGEST hug, and she said, "I'm SO excited!!" I told her that we were going to surprise her with breakfast in bed and she said she'd go get back into she did, and a minute later Daddy & I heard a funny sound coming from her room. We thought she was (for some reason?) making whining puppy sounds, and then the sound got louder and we realized it was no puppy--our Bitty was melting down. So, those are the first pictures. Some day she'll hate us for those--and the video James shot of her snarfling, "I...don'!"

Anyway, we'd kind of planned ahead for this moment and had a happy tucked away in her school bag. After calming her for a minute--it's so hard to be a parent and be honest, because telling her "well, you're gonna go anyway" didn't seem very helpful and at the same time, you can't say, "oh, you'll be fine"--I just had this conversation with Lynn. It's hard to strike a balance between honest and reassuring and just-quit-crying-it's-fine reassuring. :) Back to the happy...Kayci very, very carefully planned her first day outfit. She chose a messenger bag from the Gap (because she can carry it like Nancy Drew's sleuth kit, we found out later when she came out with it stuffed with magnifying glasses, a camera, pencils, a clue book, etc.) and then spent her Gymboree birthday money on a really cute, very traditional plaid skirt and short sleeve sweater, with matching knee socks and headband. She was so excited and we were totally shocked at the absence of shiny...until she told us, "now I'll look like Nancy Drew!" There have been several shopping trips since and more new clothes than either James or I are comfortable admitting, but she's held fast on the whole Nancy Drew first day of school. So, instead of a James Avery charm for her bracelet (that will come later, I think), we wrapped up Nancy Drew for her first day of school happy. It was a big hit, too!

So, with the hysterics under control (but not the butterflies, she wasn't able to sit and eat her breakfast), she went off to get dressed and Noble and I finished his pears and oatmeal (hence the pics of him in his Bumbo on the table...don't judge, it was a crazy morning). Once Nobley was fed, cleaned, and dressed, he and Kayci had some cuddle time on our bed while she talked on the phone and I made lunch. Again, lunch was determined well beforehand, down to the most minute detail. Her order: "A turkey, cheese and mayonnaise sandwich on white bread, cut into dinosaurs. Pickles and olives, a Capri Sun, a napkin and a note." (Every day since she started at Methodist in March 2007, we've put a note in her lunch.) So, I followed her directions but veered off course and added a cut up apple (with fruit fresh, one of my many obsessions) and instead of the usual note, I wrote a note on a pack of monkey stickers and included them. And to make her smile, instead of her regular blue ice, I put in the frozen teether that she bought for Noble (that was the first gift she ever bought for him--she was determined that the baby needed a "chew toy.")

We left for school only 5 minutes behind schedule, and it wasn't too crazy until we remembered that she hadn't eaten breakfast. We settled for the milk and a breakfast bar on the way to school--not mother of the year, but not Mommie Dearest, either. It was fun to sit at the light and watch the cars pour into the Krause Drive, and to watch an equal number shooting out as parents frantically tried to get to work by 8. As we drove in, we saw several friends leaving, but hit paydirt when the Headleys were on the sidewalk right in front of us. We also saw Ms. Alison in car line, and talked about how Daddy will pull in every morning and Ms. Alison or one of the other nice ladies will help Kayci out of the truck and then she'll go with her friends. (Wish us luck tomorrow!)

Kayci was very purposeful--she never looked back, just headed straight for her class. Man, that hall was long this morning--part of me thought we were never going to get down to the Kindergarten end, and another part of me was just fine with that :). But, alas, we made it to Mrs. Bolcerek's room and Kayci didn't hesitate...she went straight over and hung her bag on the hook, then went and got some play-doh and sat by her name. The class was very calm and quiet (very unusual for kindergarten!) and all of her friends were sitting quietly playing with play-doh. Savannah was already at her seat (at another table, smart on Mrs. B's part!) and doing great (we were worried...she has cried before at Dance, and we were all a bit anxious but she was a trooper!). It was really odd...once we got into the classroom, it was very apparent that we were unnecessary. Kayci was totally fine, and kissed me happily and said goodbye. She didn't need reassurance that I'd be back after school, none of that. I spoke with Mrs. Bolcerek for a moment (she thanked me for the goody bag we brought her last week--I was so Kristi-happy that one, we took her a teacher gift the night of Open House, two, it was in a cute monkey bag with a cute note and her room is decorated in monkeys, and three, that Open House was actually on her birthday. Score for Bitty, and her happy-loving Mommy!) Sidebar: when we got home later, there was a message from Mrs. Bolcerek which, once the blood quit pounding in my ears, was simply to double check that I'd be picking Kayci up today. Whew! Turns out, we got distracted talking about goody bags and forgot to talk about business. :)

So, that was it. James, Noble and I headed for the car and then for our prearranged Starbucks date. It was fun to see other Mommy friends there (Jennifer, Dee, Lil, even Sherri and Kaylin popped in!). After Starbucks, it was home to put Nobley down for a nap (which, if you're keeping score he STILL hasn't taken, and I'm writing at 11:11 AM) and time to make pb&j sammiches for Daddy's Food Day (Back to School theme). After Daddy left, I guess about 2 hours ago, I've gone between uploading photos, fielding phone calls, checking work e-mails and trying to finish a blog. Oh, and making beds, wiping tables, washing bottles, checking the mail...all the usual.

By my calculations, Kayci is at lunch right now. And Mr. Noble STILL has not taken his morning nap, so I'm going to take pity on him and let him have a little bottle to get him over the hump. I'm off for now...will get more pictures up later!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The End of an Era

Today was the last day of summer...and Kayci's last day as a preschooler. I have to admit, when I turned off her light this evening and kissed her sleeping little forehead, I had a very weepy moment. Dear Lord, please don't let me embarrass her tomorrow morning at school...

We wanted to make today a very special day for Bitty. Last week I was reading the new "Family Fun" magazine (a monthly must-read!!) and saw some great ideas for back-to-school celebrations. We gave Kayci the option of inviting her entire class or just a few friends for a special lunch today, and she surprised us by choosing to invite just a few friends.

Kayci and I have had fun preparing for her Kindergarten Kick-Off lunch (Daddy asked why a football theme, and if you know me you know it's because Target had football plates and napkins in the Dollar Spot!). The game plan: hot dogs and/or frito pies for lunch plus pickles and olives to snack on (Kayci's pick), build-your-own cupcakes, then a craft. We picked 1:00 PM to start to give everyone (including us) time for church beforehand and also to not be out too late the day before school. Emily and Rachel and their families were able to make it. Three girls turned out to be just perfect for what we had planned (and we had tons of food left so we were able to provide dinner for two teacher friends and their families tonight, hopefully making back-to-school less stressful for them!). We had a very nice, relaxing afternoon and really enjoyed visiting with our friends--and Kayci enjoyed visiting with hers. We will definitely make this a tradition!

After everyone left, we let Kayci pick how we spent the rest of the last day of summer, and of course she wanted to go swimming. As we were walking out the back door, Noble spit up all over himself and Daddy, so we decided that the two of us would stay home and rest and Daddy and Kayci would go on to the pool (she said, looks like this will be our last Daddy and Kayci date before school starts.) After swimming, she chose McDonald's for dinner (yum. Not so much!) and Scoops for dessert. Our poor stomachs today! Anyway, after a lavender bath and two of her favorite back-to-school stories (Berenstain Bears Go to School and Teacher from the Black Lagoon) it was bedtime for Bitty. I laid with her for a while to head off the bedtime marathon of "but I can't sleep!" and she was out almost immediately (probably a sugar coma). Now James is supposed to be working on a sketch and I'm supposed to be keeping him company, but he's about to be out of luck--all of the excitement today has wiped me out! I need to get some rest before we do it all over again tomorrow...luckily, my fashionista has already selected my outfit so at least that part's ready to go. More tomorrow...

Welcome to iPharaon... the Pharaon family blog!

Most of you will get this message in an e-mail (if I set everything correctly).

You're invited to the Pharaon family's blog located on the web at where you can marvel at the crazy things that run though our heads, watch Kayci and Noble grow and see what makes our little family tick.

If you would prefer not to receive blog updates via e-mail, please let me know.

We hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Noble laughing

A couple of weeks ago, on August 11, Noble was in a really playful mood. We went into the bedroom to change a diaper and ended up playing on the bed. Before long he was belly laughing. He'll chuckle for you just about any time, but belly laughs are rare. And he not only started laughing, but he KEPT laughing for almost 20 minutes. Luckily, Kristi grabbed the camera and got some of it on video.


The little things in life...

This is actually Kristi; I'm on James' computer so it automatically logged me in as him.

There's a plaque on our back door that says "It's the little things in life that make living so grand." Saturday mornings are full of little things--both kids in bed with us as we sit and talk about our day, watching Noble's face light up when Kayci walks in the room each morning, listening to them play together (Noble has figured out how to make his piano play this morning). We let Kayci pick her breakfast since it's the last Saturday of summer, and of course she wanted to walk over to see Mr. Dale (at Max Donuts) and get donuts. Because I'm me, I thought it would be fun to see how far she'd get--I told her that since she's in Kindergarten now, she could go by herself. (We live at the intersection of the of the busiest streets in Brenham, if you've never been to our house, so that's so not going to happen.) Anyway, she went and got dressed (James got dressed too, saying he was going to go work outside while she was gone). He handed her some money, and he went out the back door and Kayci and I went out the front door. I wish I would have had a camera when she realized that she was the only one stepping off the porch...she kind of just stood there on the front walk, killing time...James came around the side of the house and she ran to him and hugged him with a huge grin on her face. She told him, "I couldn't believe Mommy was serious about this!" It really is the little things...

Noble's done playing the piano and my poached eggs water is boiling, so I'm off. Really quick, happy birthday today to Melissa! (And it's 5 years today since Grandma, we won't even go there this morning.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where we are...

When James and I agreed to start a blog, we both felt pressured to put EVERYTHING in it.  Kayci and I kept journals this summer, and after I spent a couple of hours trying to go back and recapture everything we did this summer--reunion, vacation, every day details, etc.--I realized that those entries didn't SOUND right...they didn't sound real.  So, we scrapped 'em.  Laying here in bed tonight, we've been talking about this blog and working on our Flickr account and we agreed that trying to do it all will drive us crazy.  We can't go back and blog about the entire summer, because we WEREN'T blogging along the way.  What we can do is post pictures for you to enjoy--hopefully they'll make you smile.  

So, let's go from where we are.  We have had an amazing summer, but as we're wrapping it up it's so bittersweet.  Kayci goes to Kindergarten in just a few days (Monday, to be exact).  Last week as I was rehearsing my Staff Development talk in my head, I realized something:  I left the classroom 3 years ago, when she was just about to turn 2 years old.  At the time, I thought that 3 years would last forever.  I thought that those 3 years would be so much time, that we'd do everything we wanted to do and have tons of those lazy days when you just let life happen.  I had a lot of misconceptions about myself as a Mommy (yup, turns out I still have no patience) and the life we'd lead here in Brenham.  In a lot of ways, our life is so much better than I ever imagined.  Am I a better Mommy?  I don't know.  Am I farther along in my career than I expected to be?  Yes and no.  I haven't ever gotten serious about writing, and haven't written anything I didn't HAVE to write for work.  Did I have any clue we'd be a family of four?  I hoped, but honestly, I gave up on that about 7 months before we got pregnant with Nobley.  
Ah, crikeys--just realized I've digressed and have gone back to where we were, not where we ARE.  So let's try again...

Kayci is 5 years old.  She digs being 5, too.  Today she asked how many Kindergarten classes there are at Krause (pronounced Kraus-ee), and I said "four or five."  She said, "well, if there are five, that's cool, because I'm 5."   Life's pretty black and white for her--things are cool or not cool, even when I can't see the association.  :)  So, she's 5.  She loves clothes and shoes and anything shiny or snazzy.  She digs movies and music and watching TV (particularly TV at Grandpa's house, as he has the double threat:  big TV AND cable...).  She's great at art, dancing, singing, writing, drawing, name it, she rocks it.  Kayci is something else, I'm not too humble to say.  She is the best part of James and me...and then this whole other person entirely.  We see a little bit of everyone in her, and a lot of her namesake.  :)  This summer Kayci has learned to swim (we thought it would never happen!), and if you ask her what she did this summer she'll tell you "nothing."  Ah, a teenager in training.  When I went back and read her journal, I was struck by what she thought was cool--on days when we did the coolest stuff, you know what she journaled?  That we watched a DVD.  Or, on the days that excited her most, 2 DVDs.  Silly, silly kid.  She'd watch TV all day if we'd let her, and don't think I'm never tempted (I have discovered this summer that working with TWO children at home is, in a word, impossible).  James and I had discussed unplugging this summer (well, okay, I discussed it, he was willing to be agreeable)...but then summer came, and I realized that unplugging the TV in the morning meant I'd get NO work at all done for Region 4.  I know, I know, call CPS.  So, she watched TV in the mornings.  And it doesn't matter what else we did--the zoo, the library, scaling Mount Everest--her favorite part of the day was watching TV.  Kids these days, man.

On to Noble, before the laptop runs out of battery...he's 23 weeks old tomorrow.  If you go back and read his blog, he was exactly average at 2 months (5/16/08).  At his 4 months check-up 2 weeks ago (don't judge us--we were on vacation, then had some major life stuff happen) he was STILL exactly average in height & weight.  Pretty funny, as he's HOOGE.  Well, to us he is.  Looking at pics it doesn't seem like Kayci was terribly thin, but she just never had those baby thighs that you could just rolls on her arms and legs.  Nobley Obley has the baby rolls, and they're awesome, as he would say.  (Yes, we still do that annoying thing where we talk for the baby.  Turns out, Noble is quite the wiseacre, and his favorite phrases are "that's crap!" and "that's awesome!")  Anyway, Noble's right in between 5 and 6 months old.  Thanks to our great friend Ms. Amanda, Noble is the master of the horizontal plane.  (I won't get started on the benefits of tummy time for the sake of my battery, but seriously, folks, get your kids on the floor and out of the swings.)  He's having fun right now with eating, and he loves cookies.  Baby Arrowroot cookies,  that is.  If you're eating or drinking, he's just transfixed...and will turn himself inside out trying to get whatever it is you have.  We just had the conversation tonight that it's time to get him out of his Bumbo, as he's learned that when he arches his back and hangs over the back of it, it lifts his legs out and he starts to tip out of the chair.  He loves being watch out, grandparents, he'll throw himself right outta your arms if you're not careful.  He's so much fun, and watching Kayci with him just makes me realize what a blessing brothers and sisters are.  They'll always have each other, and this childhood they'll have in common.  Makes me kinda weepy...

Okay, down to 10%.  Our favorite things at the moment:

Daddy:  Flickr & MadMen & those Quaker rice cakes
Mommy:  MadMen & golden Oreos & spending time in our newly useable office!!
Kayci:  her new table in the office & American Girl (Kit!) & creating stuff
Noble:  cookies & his new carpet in the office & BoBo, a monkey Grandpa bought him at the zoo

There's so much more to say, but I guess that's what's cool about a blog--you always have tomorrow to say what's on your mind.  I was "talking" (actually e-mailing) to my favorite high schooler this evening about what being cool really is (yep, I think I know), and talking to her about high school made me remember how much I ACHED for real life to be more like a Molly Ringwald movie.  I wanted my happy ending back then, man, and anything less seemed so, well, less.  But you know what I know now?  Happy endings are endings--who wants that?  For us, every day is an adventure.  And I for one am freaking grateful that I get a do-over every day, so maybe tomorrow's the day I'll get it right.  Or at least better.  

Thanks for reading.  Is that what you say when you blog?  I'm going to have to learn the rules or something...

Oh, and if you're an e-mail friend of mine, I get total cool points for using capital letters, right??  :)  

Open House

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why iPharaon?

When Noble was born we started a blog for him on a service called Bundlo so we could share his growth with our family and friends.  We got a notice a few weeks ago that Bundlo would be shutting down, so we weren't sure what to do.  

Then Kristi's brother, Ronny, moved to Taiwan with his family for work.  Ronny has maintained a blog for his family for a long time, but they've been using it a lot more in the past few weeks to give everyone updates as they try to get acclimated to a different culture and to keep in touch. 

So that's kind of what led us to our family blog.  We've got a lot of family news for grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. and needed an easy way to share it.

So here we go.  We've never blogged before, so please excuse the mess while we get this figured out.  Hopefully this will be a great way for those that we love around the world to keep up with what the little Pharaon family in Brenham is up to.

Bouncing Baby Boy

Noble loves to jump.