Archive: Family

A Friendly Sharktopus for Christmas

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Shopping for presents for my wife, Denise, isn’t easy. She usually just says she doesn’t need anything, and leaves you to guess.  This year she unwittingly helped me out. In late September she was semi-randomly pushing buttons on the TiVo remote while I was getting ready for bed (as she often does) when she came across the description of Sharktopus (2010):

Genetically engineered, a monster that is half-shark and half-octopus goes on a killing spree.

“Why can’t it ever the good halves of things? Why can’t it have a big smile and wave to eight people at once?”, she asked. After thinking about it a bit more she, rather sadly, commented on how the outcome would probably be the same with people killing it out of fear when it tried to hug them.

The next morning I woke up and found I couldn’t shake the image of a happy, friendly sharktopus, smiling and waving.  My thoughts immediately went to Natalie Metzger. I though she might also find the idea humorous, and as we already have some of her art and photography hanging in the house I figured I’d see if she would be willing to take a commission based on the idea.

Natalie responded positively, and send along her (very reasonable) price sheet.  I looked it over, and my brain exploded.  There at the end of the list was “(~1ft.x1ft) stuffed animal”. Stuffed animal! How awesome would that be?

I asked if an 8×10″ and stuffed animal could be done in time for Christmas.  About a week later I received a sketch. It was better than I imagined. Perfect. Well,almost. It only had one tooth, which gave it an amazingly cute smile, but knowing Denise I was pretty sure she envisioned it having a very toothy shark grin.  I managed to bring it up again in conversation and confirm my suspicions without awakening hers. I let Natalie know and she quickly made the change.

Soon after this arrived via email:

The Friendly Sharktopus

The stuffed animal took a little longer, but when I saw the photos Natalie sent I knew Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. Luckily the box came on a day when I was working from home and alone in the house.  I opened it, took a quick peek at the awesomeness it contained, then packed it back up and hid it just as I heard the garage door opening.

I wrapped the print, and the stuffed animal separately and made sure Christmas morning that these two particular presents were the last left under the tree.  I gave Denise the print to open first, and she understood at once what it was (and even recognized the artist on the spot). I could see she was pleased.  When I handed her the big giant box she had a bit of a “how are you going to top that one, and what in the world is this giant thing?” look on her face.

Then she opened the box:

Denise and The Friendly Sharktopus

Quick Followup for Saturday

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Sorry for not posting this sooner.  I did not get quite as much done as I hoped on Saturday, but I did make a signifigant dent.

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544/743 replaced

Sunday I reserved for doing fun things with the family. Among other things we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, read some Paddington, and played with clay.


Turtle (close up)

Summer’s End

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Sorry things have been so quiet around here. With summer ending, and two kiddos back in school, things have been a little crazy as we settle into a somewhat familiar, predictably hectic, routine.  We had a lot of fun this summer as a family. We visited zoos, aquariums, museums, cookouts, and, of course, the beach.1

Writing Update

As I saw summer flying by I knowingly let the writing side of things slide a bit to make sure I enjoyed all the fun things we did as a family. 2   When I break my daily writing habit I have a very hard time re-starting it, which is why I cling to it so strongly. It’s even hard to re-start while adjusting to the much tighter morning schedule of the school year. But I’m happy to say that, after a rock start, things are back on track. I’m making daily progress and I’m starting to see the light at the end of the revisions tunnel on “Miracles”.

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  1. Although we only made it to the ocean once, and the weather was a bit overcast, everyone had such a great time it didn’t matter. []
  2. There were additional factors contributing to this being perhaps the most stressful summer I can remember, making happy family time more important that ever. []

“Miracles” Type-in Update for April 20, 2009

Monday, April 20th, 2009
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I’ve switched back from words count to scenes revised as it seems to make a bit more sense in that context. I managed two more scenes yesterday, three this morning, and another just now.I’d keep going, but I’m falling asleep at the computer.

I put in the extra time tonight because Tuesday and Thursday mornings are the tough ones, and tomorrow night my oldest daughter is giving a reading of the short story she had published in her elementary school magazine!

T Is for…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Last night, after the little ones were in bed my wife pointed to a pile of papers near the mail containing my oldest daughter’s school work (she’s in first grade). For one of the assignments she had to color a picture of something beginning with the letter T.

Kiddo1's Letter T Assignment

Yup, my kid drew a TARDIS. I’m so proud!

Another Moment: “at the End of the Day”

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

So I joined Bitstrips...

At the End of the Day

Family

Thursday, September 6th, 2007
This is part 2 of 3 in the series Hello 31

My family was accustomed to me working in the home. They never bothered me during the work day (my office is separate enough that we have an intercom). But they were quite accustomed to me having lunch with them daily (as was I with them). Also, before if I had to watch one or more of the children while someone had an appointment I could walk downstairs and quite often keep working while the kids played.

The biggest change was the addition of a new family member, which is always an adjustment. She’s doing great by the way. I never imagined having three daughters, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. My wife is a great mother, and I try my hardest to be a good father. The kids are all damn smart, which can be tricky because you forget how old they are, and that while they can talk like adults they can’t understand things like adults.

My second daughter has changed dramatically. She started talking at six months old, but it really took off this time last year. She added about thirty new words in a month and never looked back. Soon she was referring to herself in third person, and after about two months she figured out how “I” works. By the time she turned two was speaking in full sentences. Now she talks better than I do sometimes. She’s generally very happy with an amazing sense of humor, although being two this is starting to change as she tries to find how far she can push things.

The roughest part was getting her to go to sleep in her own room. I spent many a night rocking her in a chair, singing to her in complete darkness. I actually got to the point where I could sing “Twinkle Twinkle” on autopilot, which let me listen to audiobooks at these times (hey, she didn’t care). Finally she got the hang of it, and has since moved into her older sisters room.

The oldest went to pre-school last year. She loved it and we were excited to see her doing so well on her own. She’s come a real long way in her swimming, and we even wrote a few stories together this year. I’ve started reading chapter books to her when I can. She really enjoys the Paddington books from the library (how did these go out of print?). Her drawing has really improved. The people she draws have distinguishing characteristics. At least half the time we can tell who the picture is of before she tells us.

She started school-school last week. I dropped her off for the first time this week. I found it quite stressful. My wife had gone to all the open-house type things while I watched the other kids. I didn’t quite understand how the drop-off line worked, and then the lady pulled the van door before I put the van in park. The automatic doors do not like this, and they pretty much stop after opening an inch. The van then proceeds to beep at you incessantly. You would think, since the thing can talk it would say, “Please put the vehicle in park and try to open the door again.” Nope. It just beeps away while you feel like an idiot in front of the Kindergarten teacher who is yelling something at you that you can’t make out over the beeping. Anyway, I’ll be dropping her off in my car from now on which doesn’t talk or have automatic doors, so that’s one thing off my mind.

My wife has had to deal with the brunt of these changes. She went from being home with two kids with a husband who was less than a minute away to having three kids with a husband off at work during the week. At times it seems to take it’s toll, but mostly she amazes me. I can’t imagine doing what she does and keeping my sanity. A lot of things have changed since we fell in love thirteen years ago, but not how we feel about each other.

Introduction and Work

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
This is part 1 of 3 in the series Hello 31

I turned thirty-one yesterday, which means it’s been a year since I left Sun Microsystems (SUNWJAVA) for my current job. A lot of things happened, good and bad, expected and unexpected. Things started changing pretty quickly last September, and it hasn’t stopped yet (of course it never really does, but some of these were a bit bigger than I was used to).

Work

I’m starting with work because it was the most immediate change, starting the day after turning thirty. Besides working somewhere new I also went from a work-from-home 7:00am to 3:00pm job to a more standard 9-to-5 office setting. It’s still casual (which is good because so am I) and fairly flexible. The people are great, which is very important. Working in an office is quite a change. Firstly, I now need to shower before work instead of just before lunch. Also, with my vision is so poor I’m distracted by things out of the corner of my eye (which are all just different colored blurs). I’m pretty sure this is a hold over from getting the dodge ball in the side of the head because I couldn’t see it coming.

The work is interesting and often enjoyable. I hadn’t used Visual Studio since the mid 90s, so that was a change. I’d never touched C# or .NET before. The target browser was the polar opposite of everything I’d done to date. Once I got my head around ASP.NET I got the hang of things pretty fast (although I still have a tendency to code to the standard, then work around the browser bugs). I’m happy I made the jump, and I have no regrets (other than wishing I had been laid off from Sun).

I’m looking forward to the coming year. I’m working on some good projects and I’m excited about some of the new directions things are going in. My contributions seem well received and appreciated. My desk feels like my desk, and I look forward to seeing the people I work with. Not bad at all.

Laura Tegan Penney

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Photo of Laura and Jason

Born: July 12 04:02am EDT
Weight: 7 lbs 10 oz
Height: 20 inches

Not Quite According to Plan

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I got an early start yesterday hoping to make some good progress on my revisions. Then the kids decided to get up at 6:30. They were a bit of a handful most of the day (the family cold is not bringing out the best in people). Later when I tried again I only managed to squeeze in just under an hour before I was needed. Then I noticed the water dripping into our bedroom. So up to attic I go to find that the central air, which should drain outside, well, isn’t. Joy!

Oh, and I found at least six bee, hornet, or wasp nests on the house, and I only had three mostly empty cans of bee/hornet/wasp spray. Just enough to wake them up when I tried to get them last night.

Today we have a pretty busy day, and on top of it I need to get everything out of the way of the attic entrance. Not sure where I’m going to move stuff too… I’m going to try and get a bit more work on the revision done now, but I don’t have high hopes at this point.