Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cooking With William

One of the things I'm trying to do between now and the time the baby comes is get a slightly better hand on cooking. Now, that's not to suggest that I can't cook anything - but really I don't cook a lot. John and I have often discussed the importance of having home cooked meals, and sitting around the table eating as a family... so in order to keep up my end of the bargain I'd like have a fairly eclectic list of things I can cook. Hopefully, I'll be able to cook healthy, TASTY meals that will help persuade the family to want to sit around the table at dinner time.

My family has been very helpful. My stepmother sent her family recipe book to me, and I've tried a few of those items (some are really easy, and some are really hard - I've decided that part of my family must have a little master chef hidden in them). She also bought me a great book called "How To Cook Everything." Which is - I think - the best beginner cook book ever made. It's well written, very comprehensive, and is very easy to understand.

A new thing I'm doing is having friends over so that we can cook together. Last night, we had our friend Jennifer over. She thought it would be fun to make her famously delicious chicken Parmesan. She thought it would be yummy, and fairly easy to make it. Turns out she was right. I had a blast cooking with her - and besides spilling oil all over the kitchen - I think it went very well. It tasted very good, if I do say so myself. Hopefully, our future child (when it's old enough to eat that sort of food) will agree, because I plan on making it again in the future.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Cousin Katie's baby is here!!!

The newest addition to the family is here! My cousin Katie gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl. Cambell Jane Keber. She weighed in at 8 pounds 4 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. We can't wait to meet her!

Cambell Jane Keber

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Community Service Update

I'm happy to report that I have officially been accepted as a volunteer at the Northside Hospital program. As you might have read in the earlier post I had filled out an application to become a volunteer a couple of weeks ago. As per standard procedure, shortly after they received my application they called me to set up an appointment with the Director of Volunteer Services - Maryanne.

Going into the interview I wasn't really sure what to expect. A couple years back, part of my job was to do all the 2nd line interviewing for my department, so to say that I'm familiar with the interviewing process is a little bit of an understatement. My old department hired about 50 people a month, and turned down 3 people for every one we hired - if you do the math that's A LOT of interviews. But those were all interviews for specific jobs - I was interviewing to donate my time to the hospital, and I wasn't really sure what kind of questions they would ask, and even more importantly what they were trying to determine in the interview.

As it turned out the interview was much more of a meet and greet then anything else. Maryanne, the director, was a nice lady who is probably in her early to mid 50s. I'm not sure, but I think she was at one point a nurse... she's got that "I care about you, but I'm very busy so I'm going to get to the point" nurse attitude (that I personally love). Her main concern was that I understand that volunteering at Northside is NOT like volunteering for Habitat For Humanity, or the Salvation Army. The main difference is that unlike other programs where you volunteer occasionally and you aren't really committed to the program, the Northside program is a COMMITMENT. Much like a job. In the program you have to commit to a weekly four hour shift, and a minimum of 50 hours of service. So, essentially she wanted to make sure that I understood that if they accept me into the program I would be expected to work for a minimum of 3 months.

I explained to her that I had read all the hour commitment information before even applying, and that I wouldn't have wasted her time - or mine for that matter - if I didn't think I could make at least that kind of hours commitment. She appreciated that I had already taken the time to review the documentation, and the conversation quickly turned to what kind of volunteer position I'd like to fill.

I had written on my application that if at all possible I would like to work with babies. The only problem is that the baby rocking program is one of the most popular programs, so openings are slim. So, she put me on the waiting list. I'm currently second, but she said chances are good that I'll make it. Evidentially, by the time my orientation is completed (next month) a couple of the current participants are moving and she expects those slots to open soon. If spots don't open up, I told her I'd be more then willing to help in any other area until one does.

I can't wait!


Friday, August 04, 2006

Downtown Disney

During the past week I've been in Orlando for business meetings. It has been a very productive week, and I finally got to meet some of the great people who I've been on conference calls with during the last few months. Normally, when I travel for work I travel alone - well, what I mean is that I travel to the destination alone, and then end up working with what at times ends up being literally hundreds of people. This week I was actually traveling with some of my associates - one of whom is my boss, Mike.

Mike is a good guy - he's fair, and has been with the company for nearly twenty years, so he has a lot of great experiences and knowledge to share. He's also a father of five! He's got two boys, and three girls - the youngest of which is 6 years old. I wasn't surprised when he asked me if I'd like to join him on a shopping trip to Downtown Disney.

In case you're not familiar with the GIANT, magical, world of Walt Disney; Downtown Disney is essentially the out door shopping mall of Disney. Shopping mall isn't really the best description because it's really much more then just a shopping mall. First, there are kids everywhere. It's one of the few places in the world where kids are not just allowed - they are expected! And, even better then the huge population of kids...they are all happy! After being there for about an hour I realized that of the hundreds of kids running around, I didn't see one child that didn't have a smile on his or her face. On the road connecting the outdoor shops there are statues of every Disney character you can think of. There are clowns and people dressed up in Mickey mouse costumes everywhere you look. It's really amazing.

Mike had three things he HAD TO GET. He explained that if he returned home without the items he would lose his "best father" award, and even worse would have a house full of upset little girls. His two youngest girls wanted just two things: 1 - princess flip flops, and 2 - princess puzzles. Although it might be a little difficult to find princess things in the real world, in the world of Disney one thing you are never without is princess stuff. Disney has princess everything...and I mean EVERYTHING. Princess flip flops, princess dress shoes, princess shirts, princess wands, princess cups, princess dolls, princess glasses, princess pins, princess jewelry, princess bottled water... if you can think of it, it comes in princess form. So, it actually didn't take long for Mike to find such common place items as princess flip flops and puzzles.

After Mike found the flip flops, I heard a noise coming from across the square so I told him I'd meet him there after he'd finished buying the princess items. What I discovered across the square was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. It was - of course - the Downtown Disney hoola hoop contest. There was a DJ playing up beat dance music, and a referee who was "judging" the contestants. Any child who wanted to could take part in the contest. It was basically a last man standing event. The referee would count down from three, and then the music would start playing for one minute. If during that minute you dropped your hoola hoop, you're out. Then the remaining "contestants" reposition and the music starts all over again.

The best part was that there were no age constraints on the game... so there were twelve year olds, and there were two year olds. This proved to be a very fun, and even funny combination. Of course seeing the two year olds attempt using a hoola hoop is about the sweetest thing you will ever see... but seeing a two year old pick up his hoola hoop and bounce into every contestant so that they have to start over is very funny. This cute little boy, who I guess was probably close to three would quickly drop his hoola hoop, and then pick it back up and try to link it with the older boys and girls hoops. At first I thought that the older kids would get upset that the little boy was disturbing their hoola hooping, but - maybe because of the magic of Disney - they just smiled and let the little guy run a muck. He had a blast, and it was at least 15 minutes before his mom decided she'd take him to one of the other events. Again, you'd think that a three year old being taken away from his play pals might upset him... but he just smiled and walked on down the road with his mommy. He was so cute. I wish I had thought to take pictures - I didn't bring a camera, but I wish I would have thought to snap some quick photos with my camera phone.

After the shopping, we went to the Downtown Disney Wolfgang Puck dining room to meet up with another associate of ours who had flown in later that week. She's a mother of a 15 year old boy who was on his first official date with his first official girlfriend that night... so needless to say she was a little anxious to get back to her hotel to call her husband to find out how it went. She seemed to be a really attentive mom - so it was great to have her share some of her stories. Her son sounds like a pretty amazing person for someone his age.

Anyway, shopping and dinner turned out to be much more fun then I could have ever expected. Being around all those kids, and at the same time being part of a loving couple hoping to adopt a child was really a huge feeling. It brought great hope for the future, as well as great memories of my family and our vacations to Disney when I was just a kid.

As always - thanks for taking the time to read this post.