Sara puts another half marathon under her belt

One of Sara’s college roommates had the brilliant idea of all meeting up again back at the old stomping grounds, and doing a race together. It was a lot of fun getting the four of them (and all the associated spouses and children) together for the first time in 10 years. Actually, come to think of it, Gregory was the only non-Purdue-ex-student among us (though I think he could be an honorary grad if Alexis would have just bought that “Purdue Boyfriend” shirt for him). We had quite a herd of children, and the lot of us together were more of a force of nature than a group of friends, but it was a lot of fun to cruise around and relive old times.

Only Sara, Phil, and Amy’s sister Mary opted for the half-marathon, though in Amy’s defense she is what can only be described as shockingly pregnant. This should not necessarily be considered a handicap though, since she and Alexis crossed the 5k finish line at the same time, but since her timing chip was pinned to her tummy, she ended up winning by a nose baby.

Sara usually runs in Chicago, which is the flattest of the flat, so she was a little nervous about running on all the hills. However, she was quite pleased with her time of 2:39:59, which was only 3 minutes longer than last time, even with the hills and the 5 extra minutes in the bathroom line (and that’s not even mentioning the freezing rain!)

Once again the kids and I tried to meet up with her as often as possible along the route. We did a pretty good job, but this was super-stressful, because it was very difficult to navigate through all the one ways, dead-ends, road closures, and tricky traffic situations along the route. We actually did a pretty good job of meeting up with her, but I was pretty tired at the end of it from getting both kids in and out of the car so many times, finding parking, and somehow dredging my brain for directions on streets I hadn’t used in 10 years.

The kids made signs to hold, and they both did a really good job. Sara came up with the idea of offering high fives to the racers and it was a HUGE hit.



I don’t think any of us were prepared for the amount of high fives; it was somewhat staggering. It really did seem to give a little boost to the runners, and even when we didn’t get the signs out of the car people would say, “There’s the high five kids!” One lady even risked life and limb crossing traffic to give us an extra high five.

In fact, the kids made the cover of The Exponent, the school newspaper (more pictures available in their gallery here).

Photo via The Exponent

All in all, it was really a lot of fun being at Purdue. Mostly if we go back there we just go to campus, but this time we were all over town, which brought back a lot more memories (“Oh, remember when you lived here?” “Wait, I remember this place, so and so used to live here!” “Didn’t this used to be…” etc.)

In fact, I guess it really was a throwback because as soon as we got back Sunday night, I had a nightmare that I was late for a physics lecture in EE 129 and when I got there I found out they were having a test I hadn’t studied for. I asked the professor if I could retake it and he started quizzing me with questions about how to draw different molecules. “Oh no!” I thought, “I totally don’t remember this being in the lecture!”

Yes, I guess we’re never too old for the old “test I didn’t study for” nightmare.

Good times with good friends, and I was very proud of Sara. Overall, I give the weekend a high five.


Indy Mini-Vacation

We took a little bit of an extended weekend last week and took a quick trip to visit my sister in Indianapolis.

Let me first start by saying that this is probably the most I’ve ever enjoyed my sister’s dog Luna. I love dogs, but I often don’t love that particular dog. My kids are usually terrified of Luna, and I can’t blame them. She towers over them, and it is very easy to get accidentally scratched or knocked over in her exuberance, to say nothing of slobbery smooches all over your face. The anxiety of the kids kind of rubs off on me. However, this time wasn’t so bad. I don’t know if Luna is calming down as she gets older, if my kids get less anxious as they get older, or maybe it was just being in Luna’s own environment, which was less stressful for all of us. In any case, I think everybody enjoyed Luna a little bit more this time.

Of course, the main thing to do in Indy is go to the Children’s Museum. It is *exhausting* going to that place. It’s so big, and there’s so much to do, but it takes a lot out of you.

Evie enjoyed drawing self-portraits:


And we all enjoyed reproducing “American Gothic“:


Sorry Rachael and Matt, I think Sara and Ollie did it best:


Probably the most exciting thing for me was getting a chance to play Carcassonne. This is a board game that I have heard a lot about, but never had a chance to play. I have to say, it lived up to the hype. There is a lot of strategy, and I can see that each game would be a little bit different. It has a lot of things in common with other games that I like, with no obvious downsides (and you can play with only 2 players!). Plus, I won, so definitely that game is awesome.

The other best part was the awesome chocolate covered cherries Rachael made for me, which were the best I’ve ever eaten, homemade or otherwise. Therefore, I promptly forgot them in her refrigerator.

Evie found time to absolutely massacre Rachael in checkers, and we played a lot of hide and seek (and lots of hide Luna’s treat).

We took a leisurely Monday getting home, with several stops along the way including a stop at Purdue. The kids were pretty excited to see where Sara and I met, lived, and got married, and I enjoyed my trip to the APO office. I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of dropping in there, but it’s fun to see a place where I spent a lot of time, and to look at all the names and pictures of people I haven’t seen in a long time. It sure helps to have a friend of yours be the one in charge of the yearly scrapbook when we were pledging. Sara and I are well represented. And yes, I bragged to my kids about all the plaques with my name on them. (And yes Nathan, I showed them how you won the Friendship Award 6 times, no need to bring it up again in the comments!)

We even had a chance to stop in at Triple XXX and introduce Oliver to the Purvis burger:

February 006

Cheeseburger + Peanut butter = Happy Ollie

The only black mark on our trip was totally our fault. We 1) forgot Ollie’s face steroids, and 2) didn’t bring Evie’s inhaler. This directly resulted in Oliver having a massive, itchy, sore face eczema outbreak, and Evie developing a reoccurring wheeze and cough. And with Evie having breathing trouble, this also lead to a pretty rough night of sleep for the 4 of us, which never helps anything. Sara even asked me if she thought we should bring the inhaler, and I said no. Lesson learned. The problem is that, even with the proper medicine at home, if you don’t nip these problems in the bud, it takes some time to get them back under control.

All in all a good trip though; hopefully Rachael and Matt enjoyed hosting us as much as we enjoyed being there (probably doubtful).

5 things I used to eat that I wish I still ate

In honor of the things that I used to eat that now disgust me, I thought it would be appropriate to list some of the things that I used to eat that I don’t anymore, but I still wish that I did. There are reasons I don’t eat these things anymore (as will soon become apparent…they are far too dangerous), but I’m not necessarily morally opposed to them the way I am the things on the other list. Still, when I was thinking of things to put on this list, it was surprising how some of the things I thought of really could have gone on the other list (such as honorable mentions Poptarts and Lofthouse Cookies…both so delicious, and yet both so artificial). Anyway, on with the list.

5) Chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joes

Oh man, you want to talk about addicting? I just could not stop eating these things. Unfortunately, they come in a giant container, so you almost have no choice but to keep eating them until you puke in a pillow case (or so I’m told). They’re deceptively simple: almonds covered in chocolate. How good could they be? A little too good, if you know what I mean.

4) A bag of sour cream and onion chips

I am a salty snacker. If you put a bag of chips in front of me, it’s going to be gone, end of story. When I lived by myself, it was not at all strange for me to eat an entire bag of chips in a sitting, and call that a meal. At first I was always begging Sara, who is not a salty snacker, to buy chips at the store. I just didn’t see how you could go into a store and not come out with a bag or three. Looking back on it, I guess I was a little crazed, but I think I’m more or less recovered now, other than the occasional setback with a bag of tortilla chips. But even then, I’m not eating the *whole* *bag* anymore.

3) Pappy’s grilled cheese sandwiches

Pappy’s Sweet Shop is a fixture in the basement of the Student Union at Purdue. Several times a week, I would order the grilled cheese basket, plus an extra grilled cheese. Oh, how I miss those days. I think the thing that puts Pappy’s grilled cheeses over the top, was an amazing invention that I have not seen elsewhere: the butter wheel. Basically, there is a tub of butter with a wheel half-submerged in it. Before throwing the sandwich on the grill, they would slap the bread against the wheel and turn it. This instantly and efficiently coated one side of the bread with butter for grilling, without taking unneeded time and bread-rippage of actually using butter and a knife. I smell a Nobel Prize caliber invention here, people.

2) The Pepperjack Bacon Stack from Champps

Champps is a great place to watch football, and if you’re watching football you want the biggest, most ridiculous, over the top meal there is to gorge on. The Pepperjack Bacon Stack is that meal. It’s the kind of thing that, when they bring it out, people are looking over from other tables to see what’s going on. And don’t forget the waffle fries with extra pepperjack dipping sauce! You can also add a Mile High Ice Cream Pie while you’re at it, which would kill you. It would kill you because to eat anything after eating a Pepperjack Bacon Stack would be ridiculous to begin with, but it would also kill you because it would fall on you. If I remember correctly, it is literally a mile high.

1) Maggiano’s family style

Ah, here it is, the granddaddy of them all. The legendary family style dinner from Maggiano’s. There was a time when I went to Maggiano’s so often, that I had the menu memorized. I had tried every item on the family style menu, and I didn’t mess around ordering the lemon cookies, or anything like that. I came to get it done. I would plan my trip days in advance, including what to eat to expand my stomach in preparation, what to not eat the night before, what to wear, etc. We even famously used to tell them up front, “Just bring the salads out in a to go box.” Those were the days, my friends, those were the days.

Purdue Rube Goldberg Machine claims Guinness World Record

I’m a big fan of Rube Goldberg Machines. A Rube Goldberg Machine is a “deliberately over-engineered machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction”. Of course this one also awakens my sense of collegiate pride, but this thing is honestly cool.

Usually, the end result of the machine is some sort of useful function, such as peeling an apple or something, but with as many steps as possible. This one doesn’t seem to perform a useful function, other than entertainment (and teaching!). This one embraces the entertainment aspect of these things, going through the entire history of the earth, from the big bang, to the extinction of the dinosaurs, Egyptians, Romans and knights, World War II, the space race, television, and finally takes us into the future to the end of the world (and even beyond that!), all in under 3 minutes!

So, without further ado, enjoy:

Exciting Garden News (speculation only)

As reported in our local newspaper (I would post a link but they only have the latest issue, so the link would be inaccurate in a week) our Alderman suggested the empty lot that is more or less across the street (sort of kitty corner, but a little farther) from our house as a potential new location for the garden.  This would be great for two reasons, 1) I didn’t think the garden could possibly be any closer, but across the street is pretty dang convenient, and 2) that lot is currently full of trash, broken bottles, etc. so it could only be improved.  The downside is that the lot is much smaller than where the garden is now, so we could potentially be pushed out of a spot. However, with such a convenient location, I would think we could wait as long as it takes to get a spot.

So perhaps something that seemed so dire could actually be a benefit! Clouds with silver linings and all that.

In tasty hamburger news, CNN had 5 Tasty Burger Joints Worth Visiting and good ole Triple XXX and the Purvis burger made the list! For those of you not in the know, Triple XXX is a sort of hole in the wall, iconic Purdue restaurant and the Purvis burger has peanut butter on it. That sounds kind of gross but it is surprisingly good. I usually got something else, but Sara was fond of the Purvis burger. Still, I can’t deny it exceeded my expectations.

Long time no post

Wow, was that really the last time I made a post??

Well obviously a lot has happened since then! And obviously we’ve been really busy and I haven’t had much time to post about it.

So the closing went okay I guess. There were actually a few snags that made it especially painful for the mortgage broker and the lawyers. We didn’t really know what to expect, so if you told us it took 10 hours we wouldn’t have known any better, but they all seemed pretty agitated. The first (minor) problem was that the parking spaces were numbered incorrectly and according to the contract they were selling us the parking space in front of the wrong condo! But that got resolved pretty fast. The more major issue was that the mortgage company was being a real pain. It sounded like maybe it was the first day on the job for somebody or something, but they didn’t know what they were doing. They kept requesting ridiculous stuff, like they made us redo the contract with asterisks next to the closing costs that were being paid by the seller and then made us redo it again because “the asterisks are too small.” Ridiculous things like that. Finally, after about 4 hours, we were told we could leave and they would get the rest straightened out. Whatever, we had the keys when we left, so that was the important thing!

So since that time, we’ve just been spending huge piles of cash. It’s amazing how fast things add up! I already mentioned what we spent on paint. We bought a crib and a nice chair for the baby’s room, some shelves for the baby’s room and a bedside table for the guest bedroom from IKEA and an end table for next to the couch. We spent almost $600 on fabric for the curtains (Sara’s mom is making them for us, so I can’t imagine what we would have spent to actually buy finished curtains!) and then ended up spending another couple of hundred for curtain rods and things. And that was from IKEA which had rods for way cheaper than like Target or anything. So the moral of the story, and I guess everybody said this but I still kind of didn’t believe it, is that even after you write the huge check for your house you still have a lot of spending left to do!

So, that first weekend after we bought the house we were visited by my dad, brother, and Sara’s brother for a painting extravaganza. We actually got a lot done! We painted the baby’s room, our bedroom, the living room and the guest bedroom as well as the ceilings of all the bathrooms with mold resistant paint. The living room was awesome because it is the biggest room to paint and also there was the little incident of the area over the stairs. See, the ceilings are pretty high (say 12 feet?) and then the stairs go down from the corner of the living room, so the distance from the stairs to the ceiling was reaaaaaly far. And of course this is over the stairs with no landing or anything, so we didn’t even know how to do it. The best idea we had we found online, but it sounded very sketchy. Basically, put an extension ladder on one side and a regular ladder at the top of the stairs and then run a board between the two resting on the rungs of the ladder. I know you can’t imagine what the area looks like, but trust me; someone would have died trying that. We tried to rent some stuff from Home Depot but they didn’t rent it. But finally in the end, the simple solution was the best solution. My dad brought an extension ladder and we just put a couple of cinder block pieces on the lower stair and put one leg of the ladder on that and the other leg on the higher stair. It was still pretty dicey though because I was still up pretty high and the ladder didn’t have much of an angle to it. So I had to cling to the top of the ladder because if I leaned backwards it would overbalance and fall. So anyway, it was a big relief off my mind to get that all finished!

So we got a lot done, but there is still a LOT more to do! Originally it was just the 3 bathrooms, the kitchen, dining room and the family room left, but then we decided we should paint the hallways and the office since we would actually have help at the moment (more on that later). We did get all of the corners and trim and stuff done in one of the bathrooms this week.

The Monday after that I picked my mom up from the airport on the way back from Japan. So mostly they went to see shrines (kind of like how we saw so many churches in Italy) but it sounds like my mom really enjoyed the trip to Hiroshima. It sounds kind of funny to say “enjoyed” and “Hiroshima” but I don’t know what the right word is. The main thing she just kept talking about was just the cultural differences. I think that is the main thing you gain by going out of the country is sort of a broadening of your horizons. Anyway, she had a good time.

The weekend after that was Nathan’s graduation. Jenny and Josh and their kids Jacob, Bekkah, Jaames and Braelynn stayed with us Friday night. We were a little nervous since it was such a large crew, but they actually weren’t there very long and it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, Braelynn was so quiet I kept forgetting she was there! I didn’t hear her cry once the whole weekend. I can only hope our baby will be so good! We didn’t act

On Saturday we met Sara’s family at a fabric store to pick out all the cloth for the curtains. I already mentioned how expensive this all was and all in all I have to say it was not as fun as I had imagined! I imagined running through the store throwing fabric around trying to narrow down all of our many choices. Instead it was like digging through trying to find one we liked. Sara told me she thought it would take 2 hours and I thought, “No way! 1 hour max!” Well, it actually took about 3 hours. But it was good to get it done and I’m excited to see all of the curtains when we are done.

So after that we went to Purdue and got there about 5. We didn’t go to the ceremony, just the after party. 🙂 We stayed until about 9 and ate some good food and visited with family members, etc. It was fun but it was also an exhausting day.

On Sunday we went to IKEA and then we planned to paint the bathroom, but by the time we got around to that, Sara decided it was too much for a weekend. So I ended up just sort of doing odd jobs around the new condo that somehow took hours. I did the touch-ups in the baby’s room and finished that up, put on outlet covers, etc. This led to my lock changing odyssey.

So we wanted to change the locks just to be safe, since who knows who has copies of the old key. So this is yet another thing to spend money on. However, I found some kit online which you are supposed to be able to change up to 6 locks for like $10. I figured it was worth the $10 to give it a try because it could potentially save us like $50. So even if it doesn’t work, I’m only out $10. So I get the kit and I decide to give it a try. There are lots of different directions for different kinds of locks, but I find the right set and get started. So I’m taking the lock apart and following the directions and everything is going well. It says, “Turn the key to release the locking mechanism, yada yada” so I do that and I’m like “cool, this is actually working” and I pull out the locking mechanism. All these tiny little pieces go flying everywhere. So I thought, “Well, I guess this is the point of no return, there’s no going back now!” and I looked down at the next instruction which says, “Be careful not to removing the locking mechanism because if you do all the tiny little pieces will go flying and you will be totally screwed.” Don’t you think that could have been mentioned before the previous step?!?! So it goes on to say, “If you are the type of idiot who just pulls out the locking mechanism without reading the next step, see this other step on this other page.” and it tells you how to reassemble it. Well holy crap, it was hard! There are 5 little holes that take 5 little springs with little metal pins on top. Once you get the spring with the metal pin into the hole, then you have to push it down and slide this tube over the top so it doesn’t spring back out. And of course I’m at the empty condo, so the only tool I had to work with was an unbent paperclip. It took me at least an hour and a half to get that lock reassembled! At least a quarter of that time was spent looking for the tiny pieces after they sprang out over the carpet which is colored the exact color of the inner workings of a lock. I wonder if the name of the carpet color is “lock mechanism brown” or something. And my back was hurting from hunching over because it’s so small you can’t see anything. So finally I managed to put everything back together and finish changing the lock. So I got it done, but it took me about 2 hours to change 2 out of 6 locks.

So I was very frustrated, but at least I got it done! Fast forward to yesterday and I was going to change the other 4 locks. I thought it should be pretty fast because by now I know what NOT to do and also I have a pretty good working knowledge of how a lock works after spending 2 hours on them. So I’m cruising along, I changed the next 3 locks in about 30 minutes. I was in a pretty good mood, everything was going well. I didn’t even need to look at the directions anymore because I knew what I was doing. And then of course what happens? I was actually past the hard part on the last lock and my hand sort of slips and pulls out the mechanism and ::SPRING:: out flies all the little pieces! Ohhh I was so mad at myself! I just got careless because it was so easy. So I figured, “Oh well, at least I know what to do to fix it.” But when I looked at the pieces, I realized it was subtly different that the previous lock. On that one the pin fit in the top of the spring, so you just had to put the spring and the pin into the hole as one piece. But on this one the pin did NOT fit into the spring, it just sort of rested on top. So you would have to balance this miniscule pin on top of this tiny spring and then somehow push it down so it goes in the hole. This would be impossible. I was almost done with the locks! The more I looked at it the madder I got at myself. I was thinking I would have to buy a new lock and then re-key that one (and hope the same thing didn’t happen) but in that case I didn’t save much money by doing it myself. Also it was quarter to nine so I couldn’t really get it that night. So Sara convinced me to put the lock back on so it looked like it was okay (but it wasn’t really locked or anything) and gather up all the tiny pieces and just wait until the next day. When I got home I tried a few times with tweezers (which sure would have helped with the other lock the other day!) but it was just impossible. But then, out of nowhere, I figured out the trick for doing it and I put it back together! It was so random because over the course of like 5 minutes I went from the total despair of, “This is impossible” to “Hey, I’m done!” So I ran back over to the condo and put the lock back together (veeeery carefully) and presto! Everything is fine.

So the moral of the story is, you can do it yourself but be very, very careful. And if I paid myself per hour it probably would have cost as much as if a locksmith did it.

Speaking of do-it-yourself stuff, we had this problem with our drains in the bathroom. The sink and the shower both were so clogged up that they virtually were not draining at all. I poured like 2 gallons of drain cleaner down each over the course of months, but it did little or nothing to help. We were kind of thinking we could just live with it for the next couple of weeks until we moved out, but finally the sink came to a complete standstill. I bought these cheep plastic zip line things from Target (2 for $5) and they actually worked miraculously! Probably better than advertised. You just push them into the drain as far as you can and then pull it back out, but it has these one way teeth (like an arrow head), so when you pull it out the clog snags on the teeth and out it comes. I had to do it a few times and it was grosser than all get out, but I removed so much hair from those drains you wouldn’t even believe it. You could have made a wig for a cancer patient, provided that that cancer patient had no sense of smell and didn’t mind that the wig was sort of a decaying grey color. But anyway, if you have a problem like that, go ahead and buy those cheep plastic zip things because they work really well.

Okay, so that’s about it. Sara’s entire family including an Aunt and Uncle are descending on the condo this weekend to try to get the rest of the stuff done before we move in next weekend. So we will be very busy with that, but in a good way!

One final thing. Just because I don’t have time to blog about the more fun things that I usually blog about, doesn’t mean I’m not saving them up. So when I get a chance I will drop some of those on you.

In the meantime, you’ll have to tide yourself over with this awesome Rube Goldberg machine. My favorite part is when the one cell phone calls the other cell phone. Very modern touch! 🙂

Weekend Update

First off, I’m reposting the search box now that my last one has moved off the page:


Hopefully I won’t have to do that forever.  Yet another LJ annoyance!

Okay, so now to what has actually been going on in our lives lately!

Two weekends ago we went to Purdue for the Alpha Phi Omega 75th anniversary.  We had a good time, it was a good weekend.  Unfortunately not many people turned up from our “era.”  Most of the people who came were recent graduates or from a really long time ago.  I was hoping to see some of the people I was friends with while I was there.  The weather was a little crappy…okay it was a lot crappy!  So we didn’t go around Bug Bowl very much.  We did a couple of service projects and went to a dedication ceremony for Professor Teaford.  That was one of my favorite parts, it was really good to see him again.  I would have trouble believing there could be any individual that could be more devoted to an organization or be a better adviser, not to mention the most entertaining professor that could possibly exist.  The highlight of the weekend was the banquet at the renovated stadium.  Some of the highlights included a past national president speaking, a presentation about our chapter (Alpha Gamma) through the decades including research on some of our traditions and how they started, and a short speech by a guy who pledged in the ’40s and talked about keeping the chapter alive through WWII.  So anyway, it was a good time and too bad for all you guys who didn’t show up because you missed out!

During the week after that I was supposed to go to a conference in Detroit, but that fell through.  So Sara had invited her sister to come and stay here in the meantime.  It was a pretty low key visit, we didn’t really do much.  It was nice to have her here, but unfortunately she got sick towards the end.  That weekend we visited a friend of Sara’s from grad school who recently moved to Chicago.  The highlight of that trip was playing with the parachute!  Remember like when you were in grade school and you played with the parachute?  Well, they have one to play with their son and it was good time. 

We also spent money like it was going out of style!  Behr paint was on sale, so we spent $400 on paint and paint supplies!  On Sunday we went to a store to look at chairs and we ended up buying a chair AND a crib!  We had been looking for a crib for a long time and hadn’t found anything, so we just stumbled onto the perfect one.  For the chair, we were looking for a rocker/glider for the baby’s room, but we ended up buying a little more substantial one that we can use in the living room one day.

Sunday night my mom and brother showed up.  Nathan was just there to borrow the car to continue on to WI for job interviews.  Mom got her passport fixed on Monday (after many trials and tribulations) and then left for Japan on Tuesday!  She’s there now.  Unfortunately I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to take her!

So this weekend, we had the final walk-through on the condo today.  There was nothing really to report about that, it went pretty smoothly.  Tuesday is the big day!  After that we will be a couple of homeowners.  Today I watched the NFL draft for about 8 hours and tomorrow we will go visit Dabu and play games.

Aaaaaand I think that actually brings us up to the present!  I expect that updates are going to start being few and far between since we are going to be this busy for the foreseeable future.