Thursday, January 29, 2009

A First of Many

Anna and I were lucky enough to have MLK day off this year. As it happens, the day before, Abby had worked a double shift at IHUSC, kind of like IHOP but this is the International House of Sippy Cups, and was picking up a shift that evening for one of her inner city peeps. In other words, she had the day off too. Better still, Grandma and Grandpa Polzin were with us, and everyone knows they don't have day jobs. So, we decided to take our first trip, of what I imagine will be many trips, to BIG (Bloomington Ice Garden). It was truly a pleasure to strap 'em on my little girl. Her sitting on the bench with her tiny legs dangling and me down on my knees putting these humongous size eight skates on her feet. The smallest skates available were still too big for Abber Dabbers. But we all tightened our boots and made our way onto the ice.

Some may be aware of my self concious feelings about my skating abilities. Having grown up in the land of the Jaguars and as a wee lad being stricken with arthritis in the ankles, I was way behind from the start. Well, I do alright now, but I'm glad Abby has her mom to teach her skating. It should come as no surprise to me that everytime I mentioned taking Abby skating outside Anna would snicker. She was a figure skater you know. And I ought to have known that figure skaters don't like skating outside. Maybe it's the cold air that engulfs you on an outdoor sheet? Maybe it's because she's too good to put up with the bumps and imperfections found on Minnesota's pond hockey rinks? Or maybe she just wanted to give Abby the best skating environment possible. Whatever the case, Anna felt right at home on BIG #3. I swear she kept looking for the token snooty French judge somewhere in the stands. Abby did great, well, great for a two year old who has only been in skates once before. We all had fun but if it weren't for the skating aid Abby could hold on to, her mom and dad would have been shaped like candy canes for the rest of the day. We did a few "father, son, holy spirits" for that PVC miracle.

It's awfully strange not having an on-going project at home. I built some shelves in the bomb shelter recently. Is it strange that I get a lot of enjoyment out of having a shelf to put things on? I know 10 years ago my mom and dad would have never guessed I would say that and be even half serious. I guess I should take back that comment about no on-going project. I am working pretty diligently at getting a good 2 - 2.5 miles out of these chicken legs everyday. Then add to that a pushup and a situp. The other day Missy told JK he was looking a lot trimmer. It was really just that I was sitting next to him and I'm looking alot more muscular these days. I guess one might say that my arms have stopped looking so much like Harry Potter's and have crossed over into the Conan the Barbarian realm. I'm sorry, Conan O'Brien...that's right.

Many people probably are aware of Abby's former penchant for picking her nose. I say 'former' because I'm happy to report that she has completely stopped picking her nose for no reason. You guessed it, she's moved on to digging for a purpose. She is still unable to properly blow her nose. We hold the Kleenex up to it, tell her to blow...but the tissue flutters down by her mouth. Call me an optimist but everytime we try it I think this will be the time she actually pushes air out her nose. This is something I will be cataloguing over the next several truly find out when a toddler learns how to blow his/her nose. Once Abby does learn it, we'll quickly move to the snot rocket. Per usual, I'm an excellent teacher, just have Anna farmer blow for you one time. Anywho, back to the nasal excavating. Abby's new thing is to bring me "boogies" which are perched atop one of her fingers (usually the pointer, as one would expect). Reflecting on this new trend makes me think back to all the days of remodeling and house projects whilst I was perpetually wearing my "work clothes". Yes, "work clothes" for me mean something very different than for most guys who have e-mail accounts. When it came to my little girl, those clothes were basically used as a napkin, kleenex, paper towel, etc. I guess I shouldn't be surprised now since she's simply taking her new boogies to the old boogie receptacle. So, I do what any dad who loves his little girl would do...I round them all up and save 'em. No really, I take the boogies from her. I'd rather she wipe them on my hand than on the sofa or wall. But, as of yesterday I am directing her to the bathroom to get toilet paper as often as possible. Why? Well, we were sitting together playing Dora games on the computer, her in my lap, when across the top of the desk comes an uberboogie. I'll spare everyone the details about color and size, but the placement was simply not favorable. I had to explain that boogies go on toilet paper or kleenex and then in the garbage. I mean c'mon Abbers, that cute, not-so-little boogie could've spelled the end for our mouse.

The boogie story aside, it is definitely becoming apparent that our little Abigail will be a girly girl. She received many Disney princess gifts this Christmas. Let's see, underwear, shirts (not blouses), lip gloss and of course, a princess dress she got from Stacey and Mark. It came complete with dress, shoes, tiara, and a wand. One recent night she decided to put on a nice dress up show for us. It should also be noted, since the pictures are posted here, that there's also a good chance our sweet little girl will surrender to the temptress known as gangsta rap . L'il Prinsess (spelled wrong on purpose) might make a good pseudonym. Her first single will likely be called Killin' Boogies.

The two best Saturdays of the winter have passed and I'd love to say we're still on top of the boot hockey world, but I can't. We weren't able to bring our regular team to Annandale to compete for the Clearwater Cup and we suffered because of it. We went in as the two-time defending champs and left with...two losses? Say it aint so. The following weekend gave us another opportunity to win a different championship. JK's rink was finally going to be put to the test. The Quad City Championships were coming to the Konrad pond. It just so happened that a fellow member of the QCC, Cooper (or Weekend Warriors), had won the Clearwater Cup the weekend before. This would, no doubt, setup one of the best QCC competitions to date. It also solidified a budding rivalry that won't be put to rest anytime soon.

Good vs. Evil, Cops vs. Robbers, Smurfs vs. Gargamel and now, Jefferson vs. Cooper. In all, we battled the Hawks four times, splitting the first two. They made it to the championship game undefeated so in order to defend our QCC trophy, we'd have to beat them twice. We won the first game in OT. Then surrounded by the capacity crowd, 5 people, the Jags sealed the W with a convincing win in the "if" game. Cooper was outstanding all day. One wonders what the outcome may have been if they'd had their tall, large-domed teammate there. The tournament was a huge success and many props go to JK (and me) for making this installment of the QCC so much fun.

The next post will come soon as there is plenty to share about Anna and her stint as a critic...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For Abby, 2009 comes with a roof

Abby loves a good birthday party. Well, let me say that her Mommy has taught her that birthday parties mean one thing for sure...CAKE! We spent the first weekend of 2009 in Iowa for Ethan's birthday party. Joel is my cousin, and Abby and Ethan are our kids. I have no idea what that makes them to each other, so I'm going with cousin. Joel is cash money, just read his blog and he'll tell you ( We're a lot alike, hilarious, good looking, good at everything, full of crap, you get the idea. Joel is the reason I have created this blog. He started writing one for Ethan and I finally find out about it almost two years later. Great idea bro!

So, back to CAKE. As noted in a previous post, Abby now fully grasps the idea of helping with something the adults do so it gets done quicker and we can move on to something she wants. Well, I like to think we still have an intellectual edge over our two and a half year-old daughter. So, we ate lunch at Ethan's party and Abby found out cake was next. But, we told her she had to help clear all the plates. I'm not sure whose idea it was, but it was brilliant. Abbers gathered up every plate she could, one at a time, and brought them over to the garbage bin. She even asked for a few plates from people who weren't finished eating. That's my girl! It was awfully cute and took much longer than if she had just sat there and we cleaned up the plates. Elmo cake was served. Amazingly, especially with Joel present, the facial portion of Elmo's cake was never eaten. It did look like there were two or three dozen stab wounds from a fork, but that may have been an illusion.

That day finished with a trip to the frigid hotel pool. The equator line had to be breached with a jump, a slow trip down the stairs would not work for this swimmer. So, you know how the water is cold right away but then your body adjusts and everything is peachy? Not so much with this pool. I never warmed up, neither did Abby. So, what should have been a nice leisurely play session in the pool turned into Daddy carrying Abby around the giant tub of room temperature water...most times in a hovering position. Abby finally had enough and plopped herself down on the side of the pool, not even her toes touching the water. She stayed there and played with her cousin's cousins (or something like that) for a long time. She had a blast. It was a good trip and an important one since we won't be seeing Joel, Kari or Ethan until next Christmas. They are moving to Australia for a year...wild!

We all got back into our normal routine the following week. More snow, more cold and the beginning of our Fitness Challenge. As a family (including the Polzins) we've decided to make this the year that we turn our exercise and eating habits around. My goals are running and doing sit ups and push ups, eating healthier and cutting down on soda. Also, Fred, the father-in-law, Johnny K and I are going to take on and destroy the 26th Annual Elysian Rookie's Triathlon. "Rookie" in this sense means it's a mini-triathlon. I'm currently at a loss for how I will train for the swimming portion of the event, but JK does have a pond in his backyard. It's not the CUBE, but the water will probably be warmer than the aforementioned pool. And if I get into any trouble I can imagine my daughter opening presents on Christmas Eve and go to the backstroke.

I decided I could run outside easy enough. Day one, wake up at 6:30, run on the street, in the dark. Day two, run on the street, in the evening, in the dark. Day three, run on the street in the daylight. They all sucked. Day four, watch PTI while using the elliptical, IN MY HOUSE. The elliptical wins, and Tony Kornhesier & Michael Wilbon have awesome jobs. NOTE: I hope to make myself sound like less of a weenie by saying the running conditions were downright dreadful. Every step was on slush, snow or ice. No me gusta.

Abby continues to use her creativity skills to surprise us. One evening a couple weeks back she decided to help her friend Ella up on the couch by lifting/pulling her her hair. She also now hears noises when going to bed. The heat coming out of the ceiling diffuser, the faint sound of the TV in the next room and, of course, "the choo-choo train behind my curtains". She is, no doubt, referring to the trains that come by at every hour of the day and night, on the tracks which flank the Minnesota river, a mere stones throw from our back yard. Her imagination and awareness has necessitated a new crib apparatus every time she goes nuh-night...a roof. The roof is constructed out of the finest materials we could find, the Dora blanket Kjelsey and Uncle Nick made her for Christmas. This all started in the hotel room in Iowa. The friggen heater in the room short cycled itself all night. It would stay off for 30-45 seconds and then come back on for a minute and a half. So, Abby got spooked and needed a lid on her pack 'n play. I can't really fault her since I've been thinking of a way to build myself a fort that surrounds my bed ever since, no girls allowed.

Hearkening back to the days of our youth with that tree fort 'no girls allowed' reference is the perfect segue to the next topic...pond hockey. We may never know if the rink that now sits in the Konrad backyard was part of a secret, diabolical plan by the man of the house. And now that it's been brought up, Melissa will find out. Truth is, the only ones who care to know probably are missing a Y chromosome. Ironically, their distaste for pond hockey does not translate to the very popular (in my home) dome hockey. Maybe it's because "Super Chexx" contains the double XX that makes them feel at one with the arcade game?

As if our boot hockey dominance wasn't enough without a rink to hone our skills on. The Konrad Ice Basin is magnificent. It's roughly 95' x 55', equipped with two regulation size nets, shin high boards, minimal frozen goose dung and soon to come...snow fence and a custom ice logo. It's obvious this is a labor of love. How else could you explain how, one recent night, the rink's owner/superintendent shoveling the snow off all while battling a splitting headache, crappy gloves and 20+ below zero temps? Ok, it's probably just his fancy new shovel.

Yes it's a beautiful thing but a frozen pond doesn't need mere shoveling to turn it into a rink. I'm sure every Minnesotan knows how to get an outdoor ice surface in the best shape possible...flood. JK figured luke warm water was his best bet. So, I knew his plan was to run a hose from his laundry tub out the window and into the back yard...simple enough. Then my phone rings. "Guy, you should see my laundry room right now," speaks the panting voice. He goes on to explain that he got the hose hooked up to the faucet, threaded through the window and was standing on the ice, hose in hand when the water stopped flowing. Well, if you get the chance to take a look at either of our laundry tub faucets, they are a bit different than standard. Both JK and I went with the upgraded model in which the faucet is connected to a hose that pulls out and retracts, much like many kitchen faucets. [Seriously, look into getting one, they're made by Glacier Bay and you can get them at the depot. There's really nothing better than these faucets for cleaning out 5 gallon buckets and just your general all purpose laundry tub usage.] But, I digress. Leave it to Konrad to find the one fault in these faucets. I now know the story first hand as it happened again a couple nights later as I was there helping him flood...

The water starts out flowing like the drool on a teething toddler. Then the hose loses it's air and seizes up, causing it to go flat, stopping the water flow, annoying right? Especially when you're out in the cold standing on a frozen pond. Now, the other feature of this faucet is that it has both a stream and spray option. The stream comes out of the threaded spigot area, the part that is connected to the hose. But, the tiny spray holes are outside of the threaded area. Well, guess where the water goes once the hose seizes up? You got it, shooting right out of the tiny spray holes, mind you, at a pretty solid clip. Imagine this happening in your laundry room while you are standing outside on your homemade hockey rink, 200 feet from the sink, and without a clue as to what's going on. It was only after he had soaked Lord knows how many towels, trying to dry the floor, that Johnny boy called me to fill me in on this latest of our follies. What can you say besides, "Awesome"?

Remember how Abby likes a good birthday party? Well, Ella's birthday is coming up. So when the Konrails were over one night, Abby got involved in a conversation between Missy and Anna about said party. They were talking decorations, guest list, menu options, you know...drilling home these party planning basics into my Abbers. She'll be glad she gets that lesson repeated to her from those gals and not this guy. Anywho, what we didn't realize until John, Missy and Ella were leaving is that Abby thought Ella's party was that night. When she found out we weren't going home with them she started crying. Poor little thing thought she wasn't going to get to go her friend's party. So now she's on the lookout everyday for her invitation in the mail. Sometimes she's so cute I can barely stand it. Let's just hope she doesn't again re-write the lyrics of the oh so famous song to, "It's Ella's party and I'll cry if I want to."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oh 8 turns to Oh 9

I'll tell you what, that five day weekend was not so bad. I got my snow blower back from the shop and it seemed happy that I spent 80 some dollars to fix the carburetor. I suppose it may have given me something more than a smile had I popped for the entire $500+ repair the mechanic recommended. Let's see, the snow thrower is only three years my junior, I think I'll pass.

Abby showed off her skill for language and negotiating on the morning of Dec 26th. We had told her she might be able to go to Grandma and Grandpa Brett's house again if we had time. She knows by now that if we even mention the possibility of doing something that it's a lock. So when Abbers asked Mommy, "Are we going to Gramma and Grammpa's house after breakfast?" she didn't miss a beat when Mommy said, "Maybe...maybe yes, maybe no." Abby smiled and immediately retorted, "Maybe YES!"

As always, she had a great time at Grandma and Grandpa's house and so did Anna and I. It was nice to relax on the third day of our five day weekend. I find that relaxing is really pretty nice, but only in small doses. The relaxing came to a very abrupt end that evening when Johnny K and I got in my truck and headed for the Depot. We had to pick up some supplies for what can only be described as a Friday night for the ages. Installing an above the oven microwave, dishwasher and garage door opener may not seem like fun to some people, ok any people. But, it's nice to help out, and I think Jen and Brian were pleased. We did get dinner and some BS time out of the deal, so call us intellectual carnivores who can handle tools, we don't care. In fact, eat that Homo habilis!

That Sunday would mark the end of Abby's gift opening gala. In all, it had lasted more than a week and covered a good portion of southern Minnesota. On the car ride down to Austin, Abby, and consequently, Mommy, Daddy, Aunt Stephers & Auntie Jen, got to listen to one of Abby's Christmas gifts...a three CD set of children's songs. You're thinking what, 30-40 songs total? Try per disc. The set contains all the classics, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, etc. There was also plenty of crap like Lazy Mary Will You Get Up, terrible song, terrible singing, luckily Abbers hates that one too.

Then out of nowhere comes an instant classic. I'm talking Flyers vs. Penguins in the 2000 conference semis (5 OTs) or Tiger's 2008 US Open dubbaya. I assume the name is Apples and Bananas, but I'm not sure. Whatever, this song was pure gold. The melody hits and all three of the Polzin girls (29, 27 and 25) burst into chorus. Abby and I didn't know what hit us. Abby's reaction and the angelic sounds coming from the three sisters' mouths was a sight to take in. The second go 'round was even better. The Mom and two Aunts continued to wail away and I jumped in with some comedic noises that were, as usual, right on time and on point. Abby's face was priceless and this entire ten minutes or so were for the record books. I was turning around to see Abbers' reactions so much that I don't remember steering or driving the whole time (not much of an issue when you're the best driver in the state, ahem).

It was a very relaxing day at Bonnie and Russ' house. Abby waited patiently for her turn to open gifts and even put on a show for everyone by parading around in her princess dress from Aunt Stacey and Uncle Mark. Anyone think Abby held up her little GerberBic lighter for an Apples and Bananas encore? Umm..mmhmm. I guess you never really outgrow the habit of requesting more of something that entertains you. Millions have been made on that very concept. How else can you explain Billy Madison & Happy Gilmore, National Lampoon's [insert favorite here], CSI's: Miami, Las Vegas, and coming in September 2009, CSI: Pequot Lakes?

Another week shortened due to a holiday, what a great time of year. We celebrated New Year's at Justin and Casey's house, a whopping six minute drive from home. 'Twas a stellar time. Plenty of laughs with friends, games played, which were, of course, won by the guys. El Capitan Morgan made a not so surprising appearance, even if his fishnet leggings were. We rang in the new year with a group of five girls and five guys and four among us were (and still are) pregnant. Things sure have changed here on Walton's Mountain (I'm not old enough to remember that quote, I just like it). Let it be a lesson to everyone, even when it's a short trip, it's best to let your pregnant wife drive home.

Abby spent New Year's Eve with Grandma Barb and Grandpa Fred. They had a party with hats and masks and noisemakers. I know that this tradition will be one that all involved parties will be looking forward to every year. This year Abbers didn't know it, but she was celebrating the new year with everyone in Rio de Janeiro, and she didn't even get carded. Next year she might get to stay up until the little hand and the big hand both point to twelve, at least in Boston.

2009 will be the year of fitness for this family, or better yet, the year in which being fit and healthy becomes our lifestyle. What could be easier? I guess that topic will have to wait it's turn again...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Merry Christmas 2008!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2009. Unless I end up going into the archives of my memory bank and posting general summaries of events from the past year(s) this should be the very first blog entry on record. I guess I'll now know what it's like to be published, sort of. That may have been worth something in 2008 but not now that it's '09. About time we turn the page in this household eh? What do you expect...we moved into a neighborhood in which the residents think microfiche is that crazy new technology and hip-hop is what happens when Mr. Davis gets his medication filled. Don't ask...

So 2008 ended with a flurry. Abby obliterated her third Christmas. She's really coming into her own with her gift unwrapping skills. There are definitely faster kids out there, but Abby is all about technique. Don't be mistaken and think it's a one song show. No, she picks her spots. She knows when to coast (flat rectangular boxes) and she knows when to hit the throttle (any glimpse of toy packaging, or any sight of D-O-R or A). Again, it's not about speed only, yes her arms are moving pretty quickly, like tiny fists of fury, but it's the swim move that's most entertaining. It's as if she learned the back stroke from Aaron Peirsol himself. Right arm tear, full extension backward toss, left arm tear, full extension backward toss, repeat...very fun to watch.

Yes, Abby certainly got plenty of chances to hone her gift wrap shredding this Christmas season. We were lucky enough to have many Christmas gatherings this time around. December 19th at Grandma and Grandpa Brett's house. Abby got to open gifts with her cousins Braydon, Kaylin and Carter. I think she liked Carter's gifts best because she got to open almost all of them. Then she showed off her modesty when she asked us if we were happy that she was sharing Carter's presents with him. She must get her modesty from me. This was an even year, so this early celebration was necessary because Stacey and Mark and the kids were headed to Canadia (I know it's spelled wrong, but it's more fun to say that way) to spend Christmas with Mark's side. It was a great night, the first of many late nights to follow.

I can't go any further without mentioning that Bailey's presence was sorely missed. Our favorite pup was no doubt watching over us while taking down a "frosty paws" somewhere beyond those pearly gates. We love and miss you girl.

I do have to mention that work sucked blue chunks the last two weeks of the year. Calling on colleges that are closed, waste of time. At least I had the annual Christmas football game to look forward to. Thanks to my lovely wife for allowing me to play, and by "play" I mean shine. I, of course, had a superb team picked. If not for a freak appendicitis attack less than 48 hours before game time within the abdomen of my #1 pick (first overall), Jon Nuss, we would have fared much better. Anyway, details aside, we got smoked by the Konrad led Seth Eagles, gross. On a slight side note, should anyone find themselves very winded, breathing in sub-zero air, nauseous, and with what feels like frozen limbs, try taking a few puffs off a propane gas sunflower heater...two words: game on!

While I was off pretending to be 13, err wait, we could drive, 16 years old, Anna and Abbers were at home baking a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. Not sure why it was for Baby Jesus and not grown-up Jesus, but nonetheless it was cute. I made it back in time for the decorating, what else but red and green sprinkles on top of chocolate icing? I also made it back in time to catch the end of Anna and Abby's Rob and Big marathon. I can't wait to explain, at parent teacher conferences, why my daughter DOES, in fact, have ambition even tho if you ask her, "What you want to be when you grow up?" all she says is, "Big."

Later that night we congregated at my mom and dad's again for our traditional Christmas Eve celebration. So far, in Abby's short life, she's been seated at the grown ups' table three times. This would mark my 30th Christmas and first trip to said grown ups' table. It is probably worth noting that my mom, dad, Aunt Rock and Uncle Mike conspired (is the only word that seems to fit) to sit at what would normally be labeled the kids' table and in one fell swoop, my call up to the bigs was met with a hefty boot to the kisser, sending me back down to rookie ball. So, who's counting? I am, Abby - 2, AB - 0. Whatever, she still can't hit my fastball.

Directly following dinner was present opening #2. Funny how it took Abby two and a half years to figure out that the sooner the dishes get cleared, the sooner we can open presents. I was 12 before I caught on to that phenomenon. This session of gift wrap thrashing included the hit of Christmas '08, Super Baybeees, Goo Goo! The Super Babies have gone almost everywhere with Abby since that night. They've even edged out Baby Jaguar and "that guy" the Lamb in her crib. Bravo Mom and Dad, bravo! We again had a great time joking, laughing and reminiscing with everyone. Even Aunt Nita and Collin made the trip from Colorado, which seems to now be a tradition on its own, we hope!

We took a groggy Abber Dabbers home for nigh-night and to wait for Santa to come. But, not before we left some cookies and milk for the large guy ("the big guy" is God in our house) and a few carrots for Rudolph and his buddies (this was one of the cuter moments of this Christmas). Abby is dead-arse tired putting cookies and carrots on a special red Santa plate, but priorities are priorities and she's a strong-willed toddler. I think I heard her say, "Mommy, we gotta do work!"

Well, Santa came and he brought presents. But, he didn't eat all of the cookies. So, consequently when we asked Abbers if Santa ate the cookies she left, she said, "No." I'm now realizing we may be too hard on her when we say, "She hasn't eaten a thing" or "She didn't eat anything for lunch." Sorry sweetie, Mommy and Daddy don't want to be all or nuthin type of people. So, Santa brought exactly what Abby asked for, a Dora doll and...wait for it...Dora underwear. It's truly Christmas magic to see genuine excitement on the face of a two year old when they unwrap a package of undies. Gift opening #3 was later followed by #4, gifts from us. Nothing was a huge hit, how can you beat Super Babies and Dora drawers anyway?

Later that morning we headed down to Mankato for Christmas with Grandma Barb and Grandpa Fred and the rest of the Polzin clan. We went to Elysian first to check out the progress on the starter castle (I have to give credit to my dad for that label). Almost all the sheetrock hung, ceiling knocked down, mill work and first coat of paint done in the upstairs, tile in one of the bathrooms, really coming together now. We all wrote our names on the fireplace wall and posed for a picture in front of it, oh yeah, Super Babies included. Then to Mankato for food, stockings, and gift opening #5 and #6 for Abber Dabber Doo.

Santa managed to find Abby at Grandma Barb and Grandpa Fred's house too. A stuffed stocking and more presents to pillage. Then a nap, dinner and more treasures to unravel. It was no more apparent to me than this Christmas how lucky our little girl is! Sometimes I think you could use a richter scale to measure the love for our Abigail. It's overwhelming at times. Wow, how we are blessed.

Two hours and 20 minutes. That's the answer to, "How long did it take me to write my first ever entry?" Hell, I haven't made it to New Year's yet and it's Jan 5th, no wait 6th, I better get going. 2009 is the year of Fitness for Anna and I. More to come on that...