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.