Monday, July 28, 2008

Elizabeth's bedtime routine

Although her feet are straight now and she can walk just fine, Elizabeth will need to wear her foot brace at nighttime until she is at least 4 years old to prevent a relapse. The brace is such a part of her routine that she doesn't mind it at all. Here she is in her PJs, with the brace, and sporting a new hairdo courtesy of mommy.

Bush's Dept. of Justice broke the law

It's disappointing, but unfortunately not too surprising to learn that the Bush administration improperly and illegally meddled in the hiring process at DOJ. According to a Department of Justice internal report, White House liason Monica Goodling rejected one candidate because of his wife's political views, and another because of the mere rumor that she was a lesbian. The politicized screening process even blacklisted candidates who were members of The Nature Conservancy (see report here), an organization that uses free-market forces to conserve natural habitats. Don't conservatives supposedly believe in free market solutions and doesn't the term conservative derive from the word conserve?

When did I wake up in a country where the President is above the law? If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Training for the Pikes Peak Ascent

I'm a glutton for punishment, or so it might seem. I'm running in the Pikes Peak Ascent again this year on August 16. It's a trail race of 13.3 miles and -- more significantly -- 7815 feet of vertical gain. My goal is to finish in under 3 hours, and beat my time from last year (3:05:03). In conjunction with my efforts, I'll once again be collecting donations for the Ponseti International Association for the Advancement of Clubfoot Treatment - so they can help more children with club foot birth defects. If you'd like to make a donation, click here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Buckets and Tap Shoes

Amy and I took the kids to see a performance by Buckets and Tap Shoes on Wednesday evening. These guys have a unique and entertaining act mixing drums, bass, some guitar, lots of tap dancing, and yes, banging on buckets, all with a good funky groove. It was fun for the kids and adults. They even invited all the kids in the audience to the stage for the last song to bang on drums and buckets. See them if you have the chance!

Lemongrass Creme Brulee

If you're looking for a restaurant with a unique menu, I'd recommend Zengo. The Latin-Asian fusion dishes are definitely out of the ordinary, and quite tasty. We went there for Amy's birthday an Tuesday night and sampled about a dozen different appetizers, tapas-style, instead of ordering entrees. For dessert, we had lemongrass creme brulee - an odd sounding flavor combination, but as it turns out, delicious. Very distinctive, too.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend sans kids

Jon Christensen, my friend and co-worker at 3 different companies (BoldTech, StorePerform, and IP Commerce), got married this weekend near Vail, and Amy's parents agreed to take care of the kids for us for 2 nights. We took full advantage of our kid-less situation, starting with a lazy Saturday morning at home - something we can't do when our kids are up at 7 am or earlier. Then we packed the 4runner with camping gear and loaded our mountain bikes, and had a nice ride on the Colorado Trail going west from Copper Mountain part way up Searle pass. The bottom section of the trail was a rutted, bumpy mess thanks to all the horses that ride through, but the upper part was beautiful and great riding. Our next stop was Piney River Ranch just north of Vail - the site of the wedding. We both washed up, dressed up, and enjoyed the ceremony and reception with it's spectacular backdrop of Piney Lake, the glacially carved Piney river valley, and the impressively jagged Gore range. Early Sunday morning, I got in some altitude training by running about 6 miles round-trip from 9,300 ft elevation to about 11,500. After breakfast, Amy and I hiked up the valley to the cataracts on the Piney river. We arrived back at Ron and Dena's a little after 5:00 pm to pick up the kids and get dinner. One heckuva weekend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm an uncle

A big congratulations to Amy's brother Jason and his wife Jan, who became proud parents today of a baby boy, Emerson Butler! They also succeeded in making me an uncle, and bringing Andrew and Elizabeth their first cousin. Here is Jason with the newborn boy.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

11th Anniversary

Amy and I celebrated 11 happy years of marriage today with a nice dinner at 240 Union and a concert by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks. I love you, Amy!

Camping and fireworks

For the long 4th of July weekend, we took the kids camping near Keystone. The trip got off to a rocky start on Thursday, which was a company holiday for me. With a customer deployment deadline of July 15, we ran into a snag with a supplier that I had to deal with on Thursday morning. Once I had my team working on the issue, we escaped to head up to the hills for two nights.

When we go camping, we do our best to avoid established campgrounds, most of which pack people way too close together and have all the charm of a trailer park. We picked nice spot next to a small stream, with no pit toilets or "rules & regulations" signs to be seen. Upon arrival, Andrew and Elizabeth grabbed their buckets and shovels and proceeded to get absolutely filthy, which is what you're supposed to do out in the woods. For dinner we grilled pork chops. Some advice, by the way - avoid the "light the bag" charcoal - unless you enjoy the taste of lighter fluid. (I knew this, but we couldn't find a small bag that wasn't the match-light kind.)

After dinner, we roasted marshmallows, and Andrew discovered the magic of a camp fire. He thoroughly enjoyed putting a stick into the coals then pulling it out to watch it glow and make smoke. (Last year, there was a fire ban throughout most of the state all summer, so we had to forego this most important ingredient of a proper camping trip.)

On the 4th, we snuck away from the camp site and took the kids to Keystone for the jumping castle, playground and some ice cream. At night, we enjoyed the fireworks display, which had Elizabeth fascinated and a bit scared at the same time. The next day, she called it "lightning McQueen" - a mix-up of lightning and the main character from the movie Cars.

We finished off our trip with a nice lunch in Breckenridge with my brother Erik, and a hike to Monarch lake. (By the way, three weeks after I popped into the bar where Erik bartends, he says people are still asking about his "twin" brother.)