Noticed anything new around here?

I’m in the process, slow as it may be, of jumping off the sinking ship called ipage.  iPage hosted my blog for a little over 2 years now, but their service has gone well beyond the threshold of pathetic ever since January.  On a regular basis (at least weekly) the website goes down and they haven’t been able to fix it or explain why even though I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with them over the past 3 months.  They tell me that other people are calling in with the same problem and they eventually fix whatever it is, but I’ve had enough of their incompetence — I’m changing to a new hosting company.

I’ve also decided that since I’m spending dozens of hours to relocate all my files and setup the applications and databases to work correctly on a new system, I may as well try to update the entire site a little bit.  You may notice some things look different and some may not work at all.  Please give me feedback though in case I missed whatever you’re seeing…

Today we didn’t do squat, except that I messed around with the blog all day and Jean ran down to our bank in Louisville for an hour.  In another 30 minutes the UK-U of L game comes on, which will have the entire state of Kentucky glued to their tv’s.  This household will be pulling for the wildcats!

Zobug finally turns 1

Well, after the birthday party last Saturday, Zoe still had 2 days before she turned 1.  I took off work on Monday to celebrate her birthday, but unfortunately she spent the first couple of hours of the day getting shots during a doctor’s visit.  Zoe had a runny nose all day too, so it wasn’t the best day for her, but we tried to make it special.

After the doctor office visit we went to Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, which is a really neat place with plenty of stuff to look at (or point at in Zobug’s case).

After breakfast we went back home and picked up my dad, then we all went to Louisville’s Waterfront Park.  Zoe went down the slide a few times and kept trying to stick her hands between the concrete slabs on the little person playground.

Eventually we drove into Indiana and up to Edinburgh to visit the Premium Outlets.  We did quite a bit of shopping for Zoe, then went home.  My mom left the following morning and the rest of the week was uneventful…

Worman party at Bearno’s

Zobug celebrated her first birthday party yesterday at Bearno’s By the Bridge in downtown Louisville.  The party started at noon, and by 2:15pm it was over.  During those 2 hours we talked, ate pizza, sang Happy Birthday (twice), opened gifts and watched Zoe splatter a “smash cake”.

All of Zoe’s grandparents made it for the party, plus several other family members and some family friends.  My dad arrived on Thursday afternoon, and my mother got into town on Friday evening.  Carol’s mother had been in town for a week, plus her Aunt Marie and cousin Anna made it into town Friday night.

Once everyone was in town on Friday night we headed down to Louisville to have dinner at Buca di Beppo.  We had a nice dinner, then we went back to our house and watched Kentucky beat Indiana and advance on to the Elite 8.

Yesterday morning we got up, got ready, then Jean went to pick up Zoe’s birthday cake, made up of cupcakes, and Zoe’s little smash cake.  After everything was picked up we drove down to Bearno’s.  My parents and Zoe rode with me, which Jean rode with Anna, Marie and Nancy.  I waited in the parking lot while everyone went on into the restaurant.  By noon everyone had arrived.  My grandmother, Jean, came with my Aunt Nancy and her boyfriend Billy.  My cousin Ellen brought her two daughters, Lyla and Bella.  Two more of my cousins, Sally and Maggie, came together along with Maggie’s little man, Max.  My Aunt Mary Jean came with her boyfriend, Mike, and my friend Everett came with his wife Sandy and their children, Luke and Rachel.

After talking for a little while the food was served, and after everyone ate we opened open the presents.  Zoe has more stuff than we can fit in her room, but she loved everything.  Thanks to everyone for being so generous!

After the gifts were opened we sand Happy Birthday and Zoe’s cousin Bella helped her blow out her candle, then we watched as Zoe made a mess, slapping green icing around all over the place.  Eventually everyone had a cupcake, and shortly after that it was over.  We had fun and Zoe had a blast too, mostly running around trying to follow Bella and slapping her balloons.

After the party we drove down to a park along the Ohio River and let Zoe play on the playground for a while before making our way back home.  We watched Louisville beat Florida, but it was an early night for everyone because we were all exhausted.

Here are some of the pictures:

Chees in Lexington

Zoe’s first birthday is coming up, so we have family coming to visit over the next two weeks.  Friday afternoon marked the beginning of Zoe’s birthday celebration when Carolyn’s mother arrived at the Louisville airport to spend the next week with us.

Yesterday the three ladies, Zoe, Jean and Zoe’s Memaw, all went to the Louisville Zoo because the weather was nice.  Jean forgot her camera at home, so there aren’t any pictures.  I stayed at home to wait for the delivery guys to bring Zoe’s new crib to our house.  The delivery company that Babies R Us uses is pathetic.  They were supposed to pick the bed up from the store last Saturday and give us a call on Monday to setup delivery, but they never did.  I ended up calling the store and speaking to a manager after a rude salesperson said “They’ll call you to set it up whenever it’s convenient for them.”  I explained that it didn’t matter to me what was convenient for the delivery company and she got even more attitude and said, “Well, do you think speaking to a manager might make you happy?”

The manager was actually very helpful, and he explained that the poor attitude of the workers there wasn’t a surprise to him, in fact that’s why he was just recently sent to that store.  Anyhow, he emailed the delivery company on Monday evening, then on Tuesday the company called Carol and said they’d call on Friday to give an actual time for the delivery on Saturday.  Well, Friday came and they never called, so at 6pm I called the manager again and he got in contact with the delivery company again.  Around 7pm the girl left Carol a message saying, we will deliver tomorrow, but the driver will call you later this evening to give you a 2 hour delivery window.

The driver never called Friday night.  On Saturday morning I called Babies R Us AGAIN and spoke to the same manager, and he called the delivery company AGAIN.  About 10 minutes later the driver called and asked what time would be good.  I said I’d like to get it in the morning so we wouldn’t waste our entire day, and he said “all I have is late afternoon times, how about 4-6?”  I asked why he bothered asking me which time I preferred, but just continued on to say, “whatever, 4-6 is fine”.  The driver said “I’ll call you at 4pm to make sure you’re there.”

I waited around at home all day, and 4pm came and went without a call.  At 5:30pm I called the driver and instead of apologizing for once again not calling when he was supposed to, he said “we’re on our way, and we should be there by 6”.  Their truck pulled into our driveway at 6:35pm…

The two guys didn’t know what they were doing, so putting together the baby bed, which consisted of only 12 bolts, took them until 7:40pm.  Do not buy a baby bed from Babies R Us if you care about customer service at all.

Today I decided to take Zoe to the Arboretum on the University of Kentucky’s campus, near Commonwealth Stadium, because it was supposed to be sunny and warm.  Zoe’s Memaw decided that she wanted to go to the mall instead of the Arboretum because she “can see flowers at home”, so it turned into a daddy-daughter day while Jean and her mother went to the mall.

Zoe and I strolled around the Arboretum for a while before the children’s garden opened up, then we went in there so Zoe could check out the ducks and run around for about an hour.  After she got tired I put her in the stroller and we walked the 2 mile loop around the Arboretum.  It was a gorgeous day – 78F and sunny.  The Arboretum had plenty of blooming “chees” for Zoe and I to enjoy, but she was more into the mulch, sticks on the ground and crumpling up old leaves.

After the walk we headed back to Louisville, where we had a daddy-daughter dinner at Zaxby’s.  We’re at home now, waiting for Carol and Memaw.

Here are the pictures of Zoe’s new bed and our day out in Lexington:

Zoe heads back to the Zoo

Yesterday Zoe had her second significant fall, but the first one that yielded a battle scar.  When we were in Birmingham a few months ago Zoe fell over Jean’s leg and off the bed at her Memaw’s house, but yesterday at Gymboree she fell off of a mat and whacked her face hard enough to get a little bruise.  I was driving home when Jean told me about it and I was freaked out, worried that Zoe was really hurt.  When I got home she had a little bruise on her cheek, but she was running around laughing like a crazy woman.  After the shock of seeing a bruise on my little princess’ face wore off, I was happy to see that she was wearing the little yellow dress I got her in Vegas – it has a sparkly butterfly on it.

While I was at work today, Jean and Zoe took advantage of the warm weather.  The Ohio Valley jumped straight from winter to summer because it was only last week that we had snow on the ground, and today it was 82F.

Today they went to Gymboree, then they headed over to the Louisville Zoo.

Tomorrow will be a normal day without any special mommy-daughter outings.  We’re expecting a thunderstorm, but Carolyn will be getting the house straightened up for the guests we’re expecting over the next couple of weeks.  Jean’s mother, Nancy (Zoe’s Memaw), is arriving this Friday.  Next week both of my parents and Carol’s cousin and aunt, Anna and Marie, will be coming to see us too.  Zoe’s 1st birthday party is only a little more than a week away…  I can’t believe a year has passed since we were nervously making regular trips to UCLA.

Here are some pictures Carol took of Zoe yesterday after I got home (notice the yellow dress and bruise on her left cheek), and some taken today at the zoo:

Nearing the end of the trail…

On Sunday morning we woke up early so that we could try to knock off one of our final two distilleries in our 2012 Bourbon Trail tour.  We still needed to get stamps for Heaven Hill and Jim Beam, so we decided to head down to Bardstown to tour the Heaven Hill Distillery.

We got to the distillery at 11:50am, 10 minutes before the visitor center opened up.  Heaven Hill is the closest distillery on the official Bourbon Trail to Bardstown, and they have the best looking visitor center.  Unfortunately they have the weakest tour.  Our group of 8-10 people were led to one end of the visitor’s center for a 10 minute video, which Jean missed because Zoe started talking once the lights went out.  The docent didn’t know how to work the video system, so there were messages showing the volume level and letting us all know that the projector’s filter needed to be cleaned throughout the entire movie, and the messages covered up about 1/3 of the screen.

After the movie we all walked across the street to a warehouse, where we walked around the inside for 10 minutes while 1 of 2 docents talked about their process.  Heaven Hill doesn’t distill any of their spirits at the Bardstown location, with all of their bourbon being distilled in Louisville.  The Bardstown location is where they have the majority of their warehouses, which ages the bourbon, and it is also the location where all their spirits (bourbon, vodka, rum, etc) are brought for bottling.

The main brand of Heaven Hill, or at least the one I’m most familiar with, is Evan Williams.  I’ve had a “3 Wisemen”, made up of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Evan Williams, more than once.  Heaven Hill also makes Fighting Cock and Elijah Craig.  The thing they point out the most is that they age their bourbon longer than the rest, with an 18 year old bourbon available.  I remember my grandfather telling me once that aging a bourbon longer doesn’t necessarily make it better – it gives it a more “woody” taste instead of a sweeter taste that you’d find in a 3-8 year old bourbon.

After the walk through their warehouse we went back across the street to the visitor’s center for our tasting.  They have a gigantic “barrel room”, where you go into this circular room that looks like the inside of a whiskey barrel, with a wrap-around bar on the perimeter.  The docent talked about the two brands they had for us to sample, we drank ’em, then it was over.  No bubbling fermentation vats, no piping hot copper stills, and no long bottling lines.  Movie, warehouse, tasting.

I was also disappointed that they wouldn’t allow Zoe into the “barrel room”.  They actually told us when we signed up that Carol and I could swap Zoe back and forth so we could both do the tasting, but Jean hates bourbon, so they walked around the gift store while I sampled.  The docent actually checked ID at the door for the rest of our group.  I can understand it if there were kids who looked like they were 16-25, but would the authorities really care if our 11-month-old joined us?  I can bring her up to the bar in literally thousands of restaurants and pubs in every state of the union, but for some reason not on this tour.

After the tour ended, we purchased a few items and then went over to my grandmother’s house for a few minutes to say ‘hello’.  She was watching the UK-Vandy game, and we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather (70F!), so we left and drove into Louisville.  We went to Cherokee Park, so Zoe could play outside for a while.

Cherokee Park is enormous (like 400 acres), and it was pretty hard to find a parking space.  Hundreds of people were on the big trail that goes around the park – some walking dogs, some jogging, a few pushing strollers, and so on.  We didn’t really explore much of the park because we were there for Zoe, so we ended up finding a parking spot and taking the Zobug over to the little person playground.  Zoe could have cared less about the equipment, she was more interested in picking up the mulch and sticking it in her mouth.  Carolyn spent an hour and a half swatting leaves, mulch, pebbles and all sorts of other detritus out of Zoe’s hands.

Zoe did go down the slide 4 or 5 times and appeared to enjoy it, but it didn’t compare to the thrill she got picking up junk off the ground and running away from us as she tried to cram it into her mouth.

Eventually we left, but we managed to stop by an Indian restaurant for dinner before going back home…

It was a great weekend, primarily because the weather was nice, which allowed us to spend a lot of time outdoors.  We’re hoping the weather stays like this for a while.

Animals and swingsets in Louisville

The weather has been crazy for a week now.  Last Friday there were tornadoes, on Monday we woke up to snow everywhere, it rained cats and dogs during the week (and the Ohio River rose quite a bit), then today it was 60F and sunny.  I don’t remember this many variants in the weather within the past 7 days here in Kentucky during our entire 6 years in California.

We took advantage of the good weather, and instead of taking care of errands we went out and enjoyed the sunshine.  We woke up kinda early for a Saturday – 7am, and once we all got ready we drove into Louisville to check out the Zoo.

Jean and I decided to become Zoo members so her and Zoe can visit during the week while I’m at work.  For $75 you can join, with one name on the membership and the other as a “guest”, so we can all 3 go together or Jean can take a friend instead.

The Louisville Zoo was actually disappointing.  Perhaps we’re spoiled because the last 3 times we’ve been to a zoo it was the world-class San Diego Zoo.  The San Diego Zoo is enormous, and since the weather is perfect 365 days a year in San Diego, the animals are always on display.  We’re hoping the main problem with the Louisville Zoo was due to it being early March; about 50% of the exhibits had signs posted saying things like “Sorry, but we are temporarily gone.”  Actually, the first 3 large exhibits we stopped to see were all empty.  Besides half of the animals missing, they had all the concession stands closed because of the “winter” season, so after walking around for 4 hours we still couldn’t find a place to buy a soda.

We will be heading back soon, once they expand to their new hours after March 23rd.  We’ve got our fingers crossed that it’ll be much better on our next visit.  It wasn’t horrible, it’s just that it was horrible when compared to San Diego.  It wasn’t any worse than the Cincinnati Zoo, the Birmingham Zoo or most zoos in the country.  Another benefit to becoming a member is that we can free entry into like 50-60 other zoos around the country.  I guess we’ll be heading to Cincy and Dayton soon…

After the zoo we drove through the Highland area of Louisville and decided that we want to live there some time because it was a really young and vibrant neighborhood.  Lots of St Patrick’s Day Parade partygoers in the streets and all sorts of things going on.  On the other side of the Highlands we ended up going to the Louisville Waterfront Park.

We visited it a while back and loved it, but it was too cold, so our trip was cut really short.  This time the weather was perfect…  I was a little disappointed that the same philosophy the Zoo had for limited seasonal availability was being used by the park system; the public restrooms were “closed for the season”.

We ended up going past the playgrounds designed for the bigger kids until we ended at the little person area.  Zoe ran around playing while Jean followed closely behind.  Zoe mostly liked walking around following the other kids, and she enjoyed spinning these big tic-tac-toe spinning wheels.

After Zoe had played for about 30 minutes we put her in her stroller and walked along the river for about a mile, then we turned around and headed back.  When we got back Zoe played for another 30 minutes in the kiddie area, then we left.

We went to our favorite sushi joint before heading home, then this evening I drove back into Louisville to watch my boss’ band play, but the parking lot was completely packed and I couldn’t find a parking space, so I left.  Louisville was playing Cincinnati in the Big East Championship, so tons of people were at the bar he was playing to watch the game.  I ended up going back home and watching the game.

Here are some recent pictures Jean and I took:

Zoe picks her palace

This weekend we spent our time taking care of things we’ve been putting off.  While a weekend full of errands doesn’t sound very appealing, it was actually a breath of fresh air to accomplish stuff that has been on our “to do” list for a while.

I suppose the biggest thing we did was go shopping for Zoe’s crib.  Zoe just turned 11 months old, and the days of her sleeping in her swing are long gone, and her playpen just doesn’t cut it for sleeping overnight.  Since Zoe was about 6 months old she started sleeping with Jean and I.  Zoe sleeps through the entire night and stays put between us, but sometimes she does turn sideways and do a little kicking.

We decided it was high time she got her own bed, so we went to a couple of places to look at cribs, and eventually we settled on the Oxford crib by Baby Caché.  Zoe probably won’t like moving out of our bed at first, but Charlie and Tank will love it because they’ll be allowed back in the bed once Zoe moves to her crib.  We also bought a mattress and sheets, but the bed won’t arrive for another 2-3 weeks.

The dogs were happy that we spent a little errand running time to take them to a vet to have their nails clipped, and Jean is about to finish up getting the birthday party invitations ready so they can be mailed off tomorrow.  We’re having a party for Zoe in a few weeks when she turns 1 year old.  I can’t believe a whole year has passed by since we were running back and forth to UCLA for what seemed like constant visits.

Last night we did take a break from errands long enough to watch My Idiot Brother and Horrible Bosses.  MIB was decent, but not worth more than the $1 we paid Redbox, but Horrible Bosses was hilarious and we may actually buy that dvd soon.

I’m not sure of a good segue from DVDs to weather, but things got interesting in this area on Friday afternoon.  Around 3:15pm I left work a little early because tornadoes were being reported all around us, and I wanted to get home to make sure Zoe, Jean and the dogs were ok.  Each town I passed through had the tornado sirens blaring.  I could hear ’em loud and clear when I pulled into our driveway too.  We all crowded into the master closet for about an hour and a half until the heavy stuff passed by, but we actually thought about going into the basement of the house that’s being built beside us because we don’t have our own basement.

There wasn’t any visible damage done in our city, but only 20-25 miles away in Henryville, Indiana, the entire town was completely destroyed.  I’m sad about all the losses these people experienced – houses, businesses, and even some lost their lives.  I am very thankful that my own family are ok and that none of the people I know personally were hurt or lost their homes.

Another awkward segue…  I’ve been thinking about traveling again recently.  I lost the desire to travel after Zoe was born, but I’m thinking about it more and more it seems.  I’m really excited about taking a trip down to Florida in the late Fall this year, and hopefully Zoe will love the beach.

Here are a couple of websites with some good travel quotes that I enjoyed reading.  One of my favorites: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” –Mark Twain