Family Life

30th Birthday Party in the White Mountains

Last weekend Candyce treated me to an official 30th birthday present–a trip to the White Mountains in Eastern Arizona. It was as magical of a white Christmas you can have this side of heaven. The cabin was stunning (thanks Megan!) and comfortable. Candyce made my favorite food and beverages, including Bobby Flay’s favorite jalapeno cheese grits. We ate like a king and queen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In between we listened to Christmas music and sipped coffee.

Here are some photos from the weekend, including many from when we played outside…

For those who are interested, I snapped those photos with my week-old camera, the Canon PowerShot SD 880 IS. This is the pocket digital camera I’ve been waiting for:  small but still takes excellent photos. Plus, it has a wide angle lens, which allows me to capture more engaging scenes.

Shouldn’t They Have Closed This Road?

The drive home turned out to be difficult and frightening. The 50 mile stretch between Show Low and Payson is wilderness, so even in the best weather it’s a little unnerving to drive. There are no gas stations, no restaurants, no nothing. It was all about steep inclines and declines, snow and ice. Had I known the danger we’d encounter, I would have never have left Show Low.

In normal conditions, you can make that stretch of the trip in less than an hour. But it took us two-and-a-half hours, and every minute was horrible. We saw two wrecks, one of which was a semi truck that had spun out of control, tore through guard rail, and then flipped upside down in the snow-covered median. We crawled past the thrashed truck illuminated by the spinning lights of a police car. It was a terrible thing to see.

And how do you deal with these semi trucks? At first I was happy to follow a pack of  trucks because they carved a good path for my own wheels. But having a big truck behind me was claustrophobic. Twice I crawled down the mountain side to see the headlights in my rear-view mirror growing stronger brighter and closer. Was he sliding? Has he lost control of his truck? For a full hour I tried to maintain a healthy space between the semi in front of me and the semi behind me. It’s not enough to keep your own car on the road–you have anticipate everyone else on the road.

I believe that was the most persistently scary thing I’ve encountered as an adult. In between Payson and Phoenix the snow turned to rain and all Candyce and I could do was to gush about how relieved we were to be alive. It was surreal to eat pizza and watch the end of the Suns’ game in the comfort of our own home. Because just two hours before, we didn’t know if we’d be alive.

We got up early the next morning to go to Mass to thank God for taking care of us. It’s crazy how an experience like that can weld a close relationship even tighter. We hug each other more than we did last week.

Norah’s 1-Month Par-Tay

We celebrated Norah’s first month on Earth last week in San Diego at Jeff’s house. Miah and Stacey made the ice cream (yes, they made it) and Candyce made the cupcakes. Notice that there’s one candle on the cupcake.

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! (Read it again, but sing it.)

Yesterday Candyce and I went to Los Toquitos in Phoenix for lunch and The Food Network recorded me eating a burrito and describing it to the camera. Having been on two MTV reality shows, I understand that very little of what is recorded actually makes it on the show. I’ll have to wait till this spring to see if my description was good enough.

If you liked the Lumberg Look (think Office Space), read what I found in the Wall Street Journal this morning…

Modern takes on these and other iconic looks of the 1980s — think suspenders and paisley power ties — have popped up in a wide range of collections for this fall and next spring.

Read the article: An Ironic Look for Lean Times: Extreme Banker

Matt and Norah’s Excellent Adventure

This morning I decided Norah and I would take a walk to the coffee shop. This is a big deal, because she’s only 5 weeks old and we’ve never gone anywhere without Candyce. After receiving authorization from a drowsy Candyce, I lifted Norah out of her bassinet and lowered her into the hammock/sling on my chest. We walked out the door into the cool morning air. She was asleep before I passed the mailbox at the end of the driveway.

Twenty minutes later, I was visiting with the Sunday morning hot rod club from my neighborhood. They sat beneath the patio umbrellas sipping coffee and admiring their fleet of cool cars  had filled the parking lot: several ’32 Fords, a sedan delivery, and a vintage Vette. We debated the merits of the rumor that Chrysler might merge with General Motors and the wily ways of Cerberus Capital Management.

Once inside, I sipped espresso and visited with neighbors while Norah snored. I flipped through the pages of the Wall Street Journal in between compliments from strangers: Your baby is so beautiful! She’s so little! She’s so precious! I have not received this much attention since I was as B-list celebrity in the year 2000.

By the time we walked back through the front door of our home, Norah and I had been gone for an hour-and-a-half. I never knew you could have so much fun doing something as simple as spending a Sunday morning with your daughter.

Flip a Strip at SMoCA, Photos of Norah at 3 wks

We attended the much anticipated Flip a Strip show at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday. I was underwhelmed. Maybe the smallish exhibit had more context the day before when the winning designers were able to explain how they re-imagined tired strip malls around Phoenix. But standing alone in the exhibit and left to make sense of it myself, it seems to me that very few of the entries (if any) were interested in following the homework assignment of re-structuring blah strip malls.

The entries either promoted a single facet of utopia or a dramatic shift in the principles of city planning. What was noticeably missing was the space in between where responsible Real Estate developers can take notes on how to clean up the multitude of forgotten intersections within cities built around the automobile.

Here’s some photos from over the weekend, a couple taken at SMoCA: