Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tomahawk Chopped

You are looking over the menu at a ritzy restaurant when the waiter greets the table and describes the specials of the evening. The specials follow a familiar formula: a rare ingredient from some strange place is prepared in a spectacular method then finished with a sauce that only a CIA (Culinary Institue of America) operative can comprehend.

For example:
"Tonight, the chef has put aside all of his obligations in order to prepare something very special. He starts with rare Carlsbad Cavern sea scallops. These are authoritatively grilled over an endangered redwood fire. They are finished in the oven, the very same oven that was used by Hansel and Gretel. The chef will top the scallops with a sauce that is so difficult to prepare and so mercurial that I dare not even speak its name. It's really really good. Highly recommended."

It sounds so good that the rest of the menu looks shabby and unpalatable. You have been sold on the special. You must have it. There is just one small detail missing: a price.

You know it can't be cheap. Redwood firewood doesn't just grow on trees. Carlsbad Cavern scallops are notoriously hard to procure. Everyone wants to eat special food. But at what cost?
Do you ask the price of the special, thus appearing to be cheap? Or, do you follow your gut, order it, and hope for the best.

Last night at Eddie V's restaurant in Austin, I ordered the special. Oh what a special it was: a 30 ounce dry-aged prime tomahawk ribeye with one foot of 'frenched' rib bone goodness. This was a manly, ostentatious steak. I chuckled at my coworkers' 4 ounce portions of fish. My tomahawk steak was the envy of the table. Until the bill arrived, that is.

The receipt took my breath away: Tomahawk steak $65.95. I felt like Ralphie after he almost shot his eye out. I felt like a thousand shoes were flying through the air toward my head. This wasn't good.

Doubts and second-guesses crossed my mind. Why hadn't I just ordered the regular ribeye? How much does a rib bone cost, anyway? And, most of all, why didn't I just ask the waiter one simple question, "how much?"


Please note, this picture isn't me. It's just some random guy with a tomahawk steak:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Wednesday

Cheers, everyone!
Love,
Happy Baby

Monday, December 15, 2008

I've Never...

I just realized that I've never owned a leather jacket. How can I have gone through my entire life of 30+ winters without this coat staple?

I could claim to be defending our bovine friends who would probably be more comfortable in their own skins. This would be disingenuous, as I love me some ribeye steak crusted in salt and seared to medium rare.

I've also never owned a bird or fish, but I have eaten plenty. I think they make better food than pets. The opposite goes for pigs (ehem, Carter).

I've never owned a car that has only two doors. What a brilliant idea that is! "So, it's like a 4-door car with a few improvements. First, the door will be heavy and difficult to open. Second, it will swing out and absolutely obliterate the car parked next to you on a regular basis. Finally, anyone who wishes to enter or exit the backseat must perform gyrations and unflattering contortions that are probably illegal in the state of Utah."

I've never owned a school class ring. I can just put on one of my ugly school t-shirts if I want to show my allegiance. Is there a hidden purpose to these things besides earning a rate of return for the shareholders of Jostens? The best I can come with is that the ring is helpful when punching someone.

Does anyone in the audience care to share an I've Never Owned story? Was this posting complete garbage?

Sieber Family Christmas Road Show

We're coming soon to a city near you!

12/19 (afternoon) - San Marcos, TX
12/19 (evening) - Georgetown, TX
12/20 to 12/22 - Holly Lake Ranch, TX
12/23 to 12/28 - Dallas, TX
12/29 - back home in Round Rock

There are too many Christmas celebrations and friend gatherings scheduled on the calendar to count. We'll be hauling a half-wild, half-sedated Corgidor, a happy baby in his car-seat, and a car full of presents and holiday cheer. Here's hoping that all bodily fluids and functions are minimal and/or safely contained.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lyrics to Clown Lullaby


Go to sleep, Go to sleep.
Or the clowns will eat you.
They'll drive up here.
They'll find your crib
In their overstuffed clown car!

Go to sleep, Go to sleep,
Or Bozo will get you.
He's got pies.
He's got a scary face,
And he's on his way now!

Go to sleep. Go to Sleep,
or Chuckles will get you.
You'll join the circus,
Become a sideshow,
and grow up a Sooner fan!

Copyright 2008 - Chris Sieber - Republication of this original work is discouraged. Author is not liable for emotional trauma or nightmares that result from singing this to children.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The End of Wall Street

We live in interesting times. Wall Street is in disarray. The financial industry has required massive government intervention just to keep the essential moving parts of our economy from melting down. Detroit is holding up a cardboard sign that says "Will work for food. Disabled veteran American company. God Bless"

How did we get to this point? We know that sub-prime lending played a key role. We know that decling home prices struck a match to the sub-prime powder keg. But how do you make the leap from a $14,000 a year strawberry picker buying a million dollar house to the collapse of Lehman Brothers? This article helps explain a lot.

The End of Wall Street Article

The ignominous cameo by Lomas Financial was particularly amusing. My own dear dad worked for Lomas back in the day. Le brilliant!

‘The Lomas Financial Corp. is a perfectly hedged financial institution: It
loses money in every conceivable interest-rate environment.’

My New Found Respect for C-Section Mamas

After having four small incisions and a couple of pointless organs removed, I now have had a taste of what it is like to be a C-Section Mama. I know my pain is no where near that of someone who had a full incision and a baby pulled out of their womb, but a taste of that is enough for me to know I don't care to experience that. Soon after we had Michael, Christopher and I were already talking about when we were going to have our next child. He was beautiful, the birth went awesome, my swollen feet were gone, and I was healing like a champ! Our family was taking short walks within a day or two! The good things about giving birth completely out weighed the negatives and the pain. I was over taking the pain killers in a couple of days! I knew that C-Section Mamas had it worse, but I really had no idea.

Now that I've had this minor surgery, I find it hard to get in and out of bed, walk up and down stairs, and to position my son for feeding where he is not going to kick me directly in the stomach! I'm still taking pain killers on a pretty regular basis and I'm having a very hard time being dependent upon others to help with these small daily tasks. C-section mamas have it hard and I have an even greater respect for those ladies who had major surgery and are still capable of being awesome mommies to their newborns!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Worst 5 Lullabies

One of the best things about parenting a precious baby is singing ridiculous songs and lullabies. Watching Michael's little eyes close and hearing the contented baby sighs makes singing goofy songs a wonderful experience. Here are some of lullabies I have composed for my boy:

"Go to Sleep, Go to Sleep, or the Clowns Will Eat You"
"The Itsy Bitsy Spider Laid Eggs in Your Brain"
"Rockabye Baby in the Ford Pinto"
"Sugarplums and Thousands of Tarantulas"
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Imploding, Life-Obliterating Supernova"

My personal favorite is the one about the clowns. Here's hoping that my baby doesn't really understand what I am singing, or we'll probably end up with a resentful, goth teenager.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

No Guts, No Glory, No More Worry

In about six hours from now, I will be one appendix lighter and possibly minus a gallbladder too. Although losing this horrific pain in my side will be much relief, it is a bit scary as this is my first time to ever have surgery. I didn't think that any pain could be worse than that of 20 hours of labor, 12 of which were without an epidural, but I had yet to experience a cyst in my appendix. During labor, I had at least a 3 minute reprieve from the pain, that appendix, it doesn't really let up, no breaks, no short amount of time to start the laundry, change a diaper, nothing! There is really no known reason for humans to have an appendix. It's an organ that is easily disposed of and now only requires out patient surgery to remove.

Sorry, Shannon. I removed the photo of a removed appendix. It was a little edgey. We love you.

Christopher and I really don't have words to say how much we appreciate the nurse practitioner that we saw starting at 9:00 this morning. She set us up to illegally bring Michael into the Ultrasound office, get lab work STAT, spent her lunch break setting us up with a very good surgeon, and then as she hadn't done enough, still took the time to call us this evening and made sure that we were taken care of. I'm amazed that in the hustle and bustle of her very busy schedule, that she took the time to treat me like I was her only patient today. It feels good to be a recipient of that type of kindness. I was reminded of the kind of person that I should strive to be.

This is yet another adventure that Christopher and I vowed to have together 2 1/2 years ago, not necessarily the type of adventure that I had in mind when I made that vow, but it works.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Venice in December


Isn't it loverly?

Link to more pictures. They seem to handle floods better than we do. Check out the pastry shop that is still serving customers who are wading through water in the store.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Shout out to our lone commentor...

In reading through the blog, I've noticed a trend, our beloved Sarah is the only person who comments. I just recently found out that Aunt Kathy reads often as does my old robotics mentor, Jason in London. I know there are more of you out there and we appreciate that you even care to visit our site occasionally to see what is going on in our lives, but Sarah, she takes it a step further. Not only is she on call 24/7 to answer any questions I have about mommyhood, she takes time from her busy day as a mommy herself to comment. Holla..to Sarah. Check out her blog, she's a great writer! http://sarahislookingforspace.blogspot.com/

Marginally Useful News

We are knee deep in baby lately, but that's not all that has been going on lately.

The Economy:
I stopped the bleeding in my 401k by reallocating my stock funds. The damage has been done though. I might end up a 79 year-old door greeter at Walmart, and Michael may have to attend Barber College (if we can afford that). In all seriousness, we're doing great, and we hope that this Auburn offense-esque economy shows some improvement soon.

King of Pizza:
A couple weekends ago, our friend Chris, aka Big Chompy, crushed the competition in a runaway victory in the Homeslice Pizza extreme pizza eating contest. Friends and family from all over Texas overran the place and did some serious ruckusing for Chris.

Shannon and I collaborated on posters for the cheering section. Here are a few favorites:

"Chris causes global food shortages"
"Don't eat me, Bro! (said by a cartoon pizza slice)"
"No Justice, No Pizza!"
"Chris Bankrupts Buffets"

Michael and Austin, Chompy's biggest little fans, showed their support in stunning customized "ThreePeat" onesies featuring a photo of Chris at the end of an eating contest.

It was a great day, and we are all very proud of Chris for winning yet again. Actually, we care about getting the best New York style pizza in Austin for free for another year!

Thanksgiving Highlights:
We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house in Round Rock, then hustled into town to watch the Longhorns crush the poor defenseless Aggies. We played an awesome Screenball game in Plano. GSK, my friends. Michael also made his first visit to the Sants. We capped off the weekend with dinner at Clay and Sarah's place in China Springs. There was another baby summit between Mad Dog (Michael) and the Moose (Austin), but talks were tense as there seemed to be some fussiness in the air. In conclusion, Roll Tide and the BCS and OU can kiss my grits.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Day in the Life

I'm not sure what time it is, but it's quiet and dark. Even that strange furry creature that licks my head is asleep and not barking for once. Those barks get me every time, and my hands fly up in the air. Stupid Moro reflex.
I'm so bored, and kicking my legs is just not that entertaining any more. I'm really jonesing for my pacifier right now. The stupid thing is sitting on my chest. I try to pick it up, but my arms flail around like Philip Fulmer at an all-you-can eat donut buffet.

I've had enough. It's time to fire up the vocal cords. What does a baby have to do to get a little bit of service in this joint?
"Wah. Wah. Wah. WAAH. Waaaaarrgh! Waaaaargh!"
The two giant faces seem to have heard me. I can hear something like, "Can you check on the baby? No, can you do it this time? I'm so tired….." Anyway, here comes mom-face.

PLUNK!
My pacifier is back in my mouth. Ah, sweet relief. Doh! It fell out.
"Wah. Wah. Wah. WAAH. Waaaaarrgh! Waaaaargh!"
Ok, it's back in again. I've got magic powers. I just scrunch up my face and scream, and the pacifier is summoned to my mouth. Turning red seems to help.

Should I sleep or should I experiment further with my new screaming powers? My pacifier just fell out again. That settles it. A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do. WAAAAAA……..

Friday, November 21, 2008

French Fry Grazing and Fairness

Situation:
You are picking up a bag of fast food, including two orders of french fries. On the drive home you do what comes naturally: you graze from the top of the bag, consuming fries until you get home.

When the time comes to dole out the meals and the fries, you are faced with a choice. Do you present the other party with the partially depleted portion of fries, hoping that they blame the deficiency on random chance or do you take the smaller serving?

Maybe you deserve the extra grazed/poached fries as compensation for picking up and hauling the food home? Or maybe you are actually stealing from your dining partner?

I think the best solution is to apply a french fry fairness doctrine. Spread the wealth around a bit. Combine the french fries into a shared pool and enjoy your meal.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roll Tide!



Michael, as many of you know, has become a HUGE fan of college football. Although his room is covered in Longhorns, he really loved cheering on Alabama to beat LSU! Roll Tide!

Big Chompy's Littlest Supporter


This Saturday, our good friend Chris Floyd, dominated the Homeslice Pizza Eating Contest for the third year in a row. We now get blessed with another year of great company and free pizza! Although we failed in the chaos to get pictures of much of the event, we thought we should post a picture of how Michael decided to show his support!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Changes...

It is Monday, November 10th, 2008 and Michael is now 16 days old. The nine months that we waited for this little guy to come on to this Earth seemed to take FOREVER, and now that he is here, our time is going by too quickly. I've already noticed how his long skinny fingers have started to fatten up and how his little chicken legs are starting to get those Kennedy thighs on him. He's gone from eating every three hours to every two hours and eating for longer periods of time.

We have been doing pretty good, and we have started to go out more and for longer periods of time. Michael went to his first high school football game on Friday. Although the football wasn't that entertaining, the half time show was awesome. The Reagan High School band has got it going on with dancing and great drum riffs. They made McCullum's show seem like nap time!

Although 17 days ago, I found myself scared out of my mind that there was no turning back, this little person that Christopher and I created is the very best thing that has ever happened to both of us. We are trading in our multiple evenings of great wine and food that took a lot of thought and time to make for endless feedings and whatever I can hold in one hand to stuff in my mouth while the other is tending to Michael. The transaction is well worth every coo, cry, and sweetness that this little boy has brought into our lives.

We will be posting more pictures soon!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Things I've Learned in Michael's First Week of Life...


1. It is perfectly NATURAL to want drugs when you are labor and it is OK to have them.
2. Modesty...What's that?
3. Vibrating chairs for baby = Sleep for Mommy
4. Dirty Diapers aren't as gross as I thought they would be.
5. I FINALLY understand why new parents ALWAYS talk about poop!
6. Brushing your teeth twice a day is optional.
7. Showers are only needed when you start to smell your own stench.
8. Doing things with one hand isn't as hard as I thought it would be.
9. A Nana that stays with you for a week after your first child is born to clean, take care of any baby that cries at 2:00 in the morning, and change dirty diapers is the best kind of Nana to have! (Thanks mom-we miss you!)
10. Once you feel OK to have people over, it is a great feeling to have your friends and family visit as much as possible.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Welcome to the World Michael Duncan Sieber

After a long awaited 9 months, Michael Duncan Sieber has finally arrived! He was born at 3:04 PM on Saturday, October 25th weighing 8lbs 2 oz and 20.5 inches long. Our beautiful baby boy is such a trooper, he didn't have any problems during labor! We are still getting the hang of things like feeding, burping, changing diapers, and all of that other good stuff. Its funny how you consider yourself a fairly intelligent person, but then when you get this little person that you have to take care of you seem to become the biggest moron.


Michael had so many visitors his first few hours in this world that the evening nurse finally had to finally kick everyone out so he could feed. We are all feeling very loved and appreciate all of the support, phone calls, and well wishers that we have had over the past 24 hours.

Currently, besides being really sore and losing a ton of sleep, Christopher and I are both doing pretty well. We're still learning and I'm sure still have 18 more years of learning to do!

Check out the rest of our pictures under photos. We will keep updating them as we fill up the camera memory card!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baby Sieber Arrival Date Poll...

Lets get your vote!

These are the votes I have so far, please submit yours when you get a chance. You can either e-mail myself or Chris, or post here and I will edit as we go. I'm bored.

Thursday2
Friday4
Saturday6
Sunday9
Monday1
Tuesday8
Friday 31st1

Here are some comments that went along with the votes today...


Thursday:

  • 11:59
  • I vote for today!! Since I know you want him here!! Yeah!

Friday:

  • all of the Sieber boys were born on Fridays
  • he will share a birthday with his Grumpa
  • Friday is my pick for Little Hurt Day.
  • I say Friday during lunch………………..

Saturday:

  • I will take Saturday. I think that he might want to watch some college football.
  • Saturday, during the game. It would only be right seeing as he will be "gifted" for all games UT wins for the rest of the season
  • My vote is for Saturday, and I'll take it one step further -- you're going to have your baby in the AM
  • Add me to the Saturday votes - I think you may be headed to the hospital Friday evening, and he'll arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
  • My vote is Saturday. Children always demand your needs when you have something planned.

Sunday:

  • I am going to guess Saturday evening (after eating Mexican food and [other things]) you will go into labor and deliver Sunday morning!!!
  • I’ve thought from the very beginning he was going to be born on the 26th
  • {My husband} and I both say Sunday!! No real reason, just gut feeling.
  • Grampy votes Sunday the 26th
  • I vote for Sunday...maybe Little Hurt will be good juju for the Cowboys like Moose has been for the Longhorns.

Monday:

  • New Zealand celebrates Labor Day on the fourth Monday in October. So will Little Hurt.
Tuesday:
  • I really hate to rain on your parade, but first babies tend to be very obstinate. I'll have to go with the "pessimistic almost Dad" and vote for induction date Tuesday. I've just seen that happen way too many times! I think he's going to let his Daddy have his UT weekend!
  • I’m with the pessimistic friend that baby will wait until Tuesday. It will be the best birthday present a mom could ever hope for. (plus, it’s just another way the baby will make sure nothing is about you again, ever).
  • I'm going to go with induction day, but I think you'll go into labor before they induce.
  • It's Mummy's b.day!, It's Diwali-the Hindu New Year!
  • It will be the 28th says the awaiting uncle!!!!
  • It will be Tuesday the 28th (Shannon's B-day also). Mark it down. Labor is something that only happens to other people.
  • Tuesday. I am in kind of a worst case mood.

Friday: October 31st

  • One week from Friday, sorry


Thanks to everyone who partook in the poll! It has made my day a little bit more interesting!

Correction to last entry....

Christopher and I talked to Chris Floyd about the plethora of gifts Baby Sieber should be getting in the near future with all of this UT football winning that has been going on recently, and we found out that we were mistaken about some particular details on the present distribution. According to Chris, Little Hurt will be receiving a Longhorn present for each game that UT wins from the time he is born until the end of the season, not from the time of the Rice game until he is born. Knowing this complicates things more and puts a lot more pressure on Colt in the upcoming weeks. Hook 'em!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I took a picture of the baby's mooses!

Now that I have a little free time on my hands, I thought I would share some of the things that others have thought about Little Hurt coming into this world.


Our future Longhorn Kicker has already started his famous endeavor by having an article written about him in the Cedar Valley Middle School Newspaper. The newspaper hasn't come out yet, as it generally takes a few weeks, but I'm sure it will be an interesting addition to Baby Sieber's scrapbook. The article is mainly about, "how much of a Longhorn will Mrs. Sieber's baby be." I had some great quotes from Christopher like, "we are already teaching him about the dangers of becoming an Aggie," but I'm not quite sure if my former student turned reporter really wrote any of that stuff down!


On another note, our Longhorn Mobile, from one of Christopher's college friends, got some pretty funny attention by his adopted little brother. JJ recently got a spiderman digital camera and was taking pictures of all sorts of things around the house from Bella to the baby's room. He was just hanging out with us and said, "I took a picture of the baby's mooses!" He was very proud of this statement, but it sort of perplexed Christopher and I as we didn't recall putting any sort of moose decoration in the baby's room. We asked JJ to show us the picture on his tiny digital screen, and we both started cracking up. JJ had taken a picture of Little Hurt's Longhorn Mobile. I guess since he's from Montana, it is natural for him to think of a moose before a Longhorn!


The baby has already brought on some wonderful things for the UT football team. We have made sure he watches all of the big games, and I think Colt plays better when he's awake! Chris Floyd has generously promised a different Longhorn gift for every game that UT wins between the Rice game and his birth. I'm beginning to wonder if he regrets this decision considering that they are currently ranked #1, and Little Hurt seems pretty content in his current housing situation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Waiting Begins



Little Hurt is now 24 hours past his due date. We are hoping with a little coaxing from long walks, lack of stress from quiting work, and lifting heavy boxes might make him come on his own. Just in case he doesn't, we do have our induction scheduled for October 28th at 5:00 in the morning. I'm not looking forward to that at all, but it is also nice to know that there is an end in sight!

Ironically, I have really started to induldge in the fact that I'm 9 months pregnant, and I have come to the conclusion that I can eat anything I want (including dessert at every meal!) The funny thing is, I've actually started losing weight since I've been on my new meal plan! If I only knew this from the very beginning, this pregnancy would have been that much more enjoyable.

The only other thing that I'm very concerned about is that my license is up for renewal in the next week. I would normally wait until my face didn't look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and let it expire, but if I do that, I won't be able to vote this year. Although it would be a multi-year reminder of just one of the wonderful gifts that Little Sieber has given me over the last 9 months, I'm not sure its the kind of gift I want to have!

We will keep everyone posted during the next week!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Parenting Classes

We attended a lovely 3-hour breastfeeding class the other night. It was an interesting experience. The following post is excerpted from an email sent to Sarah and Shannon about the evening:

The class will go into my list of essays about this experience. Some working titles:

"The Indignities of Parenthood: Insipid Classes or
Learning to Parent with The Lowest Common Denominator or

For the LOVE OF ALL THE PREGNANT LADIES WHO ARE UNCOMFORTABLE DO YOU HAVE TO EXTEND THE CLASS BY ASKING YET ANOTHER QUESTION THAT 3.6 SECONDS OF THOUGHT OR INTERNET SEARCHING WOULD SOLVE? CAN'T YOU SEE THE FEET THAT ARE STARTING TO LOOK LIKE DOUGHY MACY'S THANKSGIVING BALLOONS?

Or, perhaps, An Open Letter to the Tattooed Guy in the Darfur Shirt who Made a Five Minute Question About the Insanity of Our Society Drinking Cow's Milk While He Drinks Soy Milk Because He is Accustomed to Having Something On His Cereal. Dude.

Finally, this one might make a good off-off Broadway show: Yes, I Realize That you are an authorized Medela Dealer, and I would like to club myself unconcsious using your fantastic array of fine Medela products to avoid hearing another minute of sales pitch in the midst of a class that we paid for: The Musical.

ARRRRRRUUUGHHHHHHHH!! /robert dean off.

-----------

Monday, October 06, 2008

Soon, this room will be filled with crying and diapers

Here are a couple of nursery shots. We have top secret "name letters" that will go up soon to help round out the decor. Thanks again to everyone who has given gifts and support!




Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How do you like me now? Las Vegas update...

As posted before, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Las Vegas with Carl to celebrate Olie-O's bachelor party. Special thanks to Shannon for giving the budgetary approval for this trip.

Of all the famous landmarks, grand hotels, and shows there was one place we had to visit. Carl and I wandered through the opulent Harrah's Casino to find our destination. Suddenly there it was, a red, white, and blue beacon of freedom shining in the gloom. My pulse quickened and my hand unconsciously moved to my heart. We had arrived at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.

Let this be a warning to anyone who hates my freedom:

We didn't eat there or buy anything. We just had to go. The rest of Vegas was nice as well.

This was the view from our hotel room:Las Vegas is a glamorous city full of 5-star restaurants and the showpieces for celebrity chefs. Here Todd and Dan enjoy a gourmet meal at one such restaurant.

I had dreams of paying for the trip by crushing the house at blackjack. That definitely didn't happen, but I didn't lose my retirement account or anything. Little did I know what would happen just days later on Wall Street and in the Capitol. That, however, is a story for a different blog and day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Double Congratulations



First, congratulations to our dear friends Clay and Sarah for the birth of their awesome little dude, Austin. We were fortunate to visit with them at the hospital and hold their son on his birthday. He is indeed pretty cool with long hands and feet and a handsome little face. Well-made, Clay and Sarah!

It was an illuminating experience, and we have a lot better idea about what to expect when we finally head to the hospital ourselves. Our goal is to do our homework now but stay flexible and ready for the unexpected.

Another congratulations goes to Olie-O and Emily. We had a great time at the wedding in Plano. This day was a long time coming, and he is one of the happiest grooms I have ever seen. Shannon was a trooper to travel and celebrate at the wedding at 37 weeks pregnant.

The reception featured hours of funky dance moves. Some highlights: a massive "Sweet Caroline" sing-along that was like a Broadway number, an invisible jump rope "double dutch" dance off, and Olie-O just being Olie-O on the dance floor.

I think I've got some of the finest friends in the word and it was great as always to visit with them in Dallas.

Now we're back in Austin working on the to-do list and waiting. Bring on the baby, I say!
A couple of pictures from the weekend:

-Chris

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baby Q

Last night our good friends Dan and Amanda hosted one of our last parties before Baby Sieber gets here and I can't even express how blessed we are to have such wonderful friends and family. I hope that everyone who came had a good time and was not offended that we didn't open presents in front of everyone. I always feel like that is such an awkward part of "showers" and Christopher and I were having such a great time catching up with all of our peeps that we didn't want to quit!

Dan and Amanda were completely amazing with a great spread from Rudy's BBQ, the choice of any soda/alcohol you could imagine, and an amazing assortment of homemade cupcakes. They even had the smarts to TiVo the UT vs. Rice game so everyone could start watching it at the same time! I would say we did fail to take any pictures at all so I have none to share. I sometimes think that that attests to the great time we really did have, I didn't even think to stop visiting with everyone to get out my camera!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Going to Vegas...

Later this week, my brother and I are heading out to Las Vegas to celebrate Olie-O's upcoming wedding. It is going to be a great bachelor party weekend with an outstanding group of guys.

Some details:
Our hotel is Treasure Island, or TI, as it likes to be called. This hotel has been described as tacky, but great. I guess they are running from their past by branding as simply TI. Kentucky Fried Chicken restyled itself as KFC, but was anyone fooled? I say bring on the pirates, the rum, and pieces of eight.

Planned Festivities:
Thursday night will be a nice steak dinner with Carl.

Friday will be spent in the casinos, hopefully not squandering Baby Sieber's college fund.

On Saturday, we'll be spending some quality time watching college football and betting some of the games. Hopefully, I won't lose my retirement fund. The evening will be in a private section of some Hollywood-style, fancy-pants club. We will have "bottle service" and a dedicated bartender. This will cost my IRA.

Sunday will probably involve being tired, watching football, and finding a ride to the airport.

Here's to a great weekend celebrating with Olie-O and some good luck at the tables!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tap Dancin' Baby Momma

To all my loyal followers of dance, to those who came to support me and cheer for me at the recital, to those who only wish they could see my awesome display of agility, and to all the haters....I present to you the dancin' momma....

video

Dancing Update: Although I only have 6 1/2 weeks left until our little tap dancin' boy comes into this world, I am still taking both tap and jazz. I just started my second week back and I'm still loving it. I did have to borrow some tap shoes from the stock of used shoes for the middle school's dance classes since my feet have grown to at least one size bigger than my actual tap shoes, but that has been the only set back as of yet. We have already started on our moves for the recital in May (we're kind of slow learners). In an effort to keep up, I only plan on taking the minimal time away from my classes as possible. What I can promise you are some sassy walks, hair sweeping, and possibly a jazz hand or two.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Slackers...

There have not been many updates lately for the 3 people who read this page, so please accept my apologies. Here are some things that have happened lately:

We survived a major baby shower in the Dallas area on a 107 degree summer day. I nearly plummeted to my doom through a rotted wood balcony when a board suddenly collapsed. We were showered, nay, swamped with presents. All that generosity is going to get us off to a great start.

The baby due date looms ever closer. Less than 8 sleep-filled weeks of carefree living remain. Our friends Clay and Sarah are even closer. Their Little Dread Pirate Collins should make landfall sometime in September. ARRRRR!

Little brother J.J. who is five years old informed me on Friday that, "Zombies are really real, and they don't ever die. Even from that lightning." His big brother Carter has decided that young children should learn about brain-eating undead. Don't worry, it's nothing a little therapy can't straighten out.

Baby Sieber's nursery is taking shape. Gail and Dad visited, and we immediately set them to work painting, lugging furniture, and assembling a crib. The results are pretty cool (pictures to come soon).

This is not a particularly funny entry, so please visit www.theonion.com for some laughs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baby Sieber Update

As of today, Baby Sieber is 32 weeks old. He weighs approximately 4 pounds and is kicking me in the ribs at the rate of 20 times/hour. He's measuring about a centimeter bigger than normal which is better than being in the 31 percentile which is what he was at 20 weeks. I'm gaining weight like I'm training to be a sumo wrestler at the 2012 Olympics. Is that even an Olympic Sport? If not, it should be. I would much rather watch that than synchronized diving!

He has a room that was beautifully painted by his Grandma, GiGi, and furniture that was lovingly put together, taken apart (because it was put together wrong), and put back together by Grumpa, dad, and supervised by Bella. His Nana has currently taken home a plethora of fabric to make his bed skirt, curtains and possibly a few pillows. We can't wait to see the finished products! Check out the link under "Photos" to see the rest of the nursery pics!

Christopher and I are doing the arduous task of searching for childcare. We are on one waiting list at one place and have visited a couple of others as well as interviewed one other person in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the neighborhood lady was not such a good deal. Although she lived in a beautiful and large house, she had eight children crammed into a tiny non air conditioned garage with dirty rubber floors to which all of the babies were crawling on. My heart breaks as I write this, and I wonder what parent would feel comfortable leaving their tiny baby in those conditions. Certainly not me! We are off to another interview on Wednesday. I'm optimistic that this is the one, but we might be back to the drawing board.

School will be starting in two days and I'm anxious to see how Baby Sieber handles himself and makes me feel once I go back to a full eight to ten hour day. I'm sure my feet will be the size of watermelons each day as I go home.

Things we have discovered that he responds well to: Traditional Mexican Music, Tupac, and UT Football


Things that make him unhappy: bacon, seafood, when dad burps, and showing his entire face during sonograms.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Baby Shower!


Now what do I do with this thing again?

Lightning strikes

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Golden Baby

This evening we finally went for our 3-D Ultrasound. The Sieber's like to call this, "The Golden Baby" pictures. Baby is very stubborn and doesn't like his picture taken. (I wonder where he gets his stubbornness from?) He kept putting his hand in front of his face, but we did get a few good shots! It did seem like his mannerisms were very much like his dad's, but who knows!? You can check out the rest of the pictures on our "Golden Baby" link under photos.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Saving money


Most of you probably haven't heard about this, but gasoline has become somewhat expensive. I pine for the days of sweet, sweet $2.99 unleaded. Now that the price has risen 25%, our very way of life is being threatened. Some day, I will bore my grandchildren with stories about the halcyon days of $3 gasoline. They probably won't even know what "gasoline" is, and I'll get wheeled back into the license plate factory in the nursing home.


How we are getting by in these tough times:
1. I have changed my coffee drinking habits. For a while, I switched to drip coffee from my Mr. Coffee machine. That was a pretty brutal change that didn't last. We're not exactly in the Great Depression! I have now tightened my belt by switching from the Venti to the Grande size at Starbucks. It's tough.

2. Under Consideration: We've considered changing Bella and Velcro's food from organic and healthy chow that costs more than our meals. We will replace it with the poisonous stuff imported from China. You know, the stuff made from ground up dissidents, sick livestock, and all that algae they cleared out in preparation for the Olympics. That should save at least $20 per month.

3. We are gardening to mitigate rising food costs. We spent approximately $80 on seedling plants (heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelon, and cucumbers). Another $100 went toward supplies such as landscape edging, mulch, and tomato cages. I have contributed many hours of sweat equity. Our total crop this year has been about 20 tomatoes. That's about $10 plus an hour of toil per tomato. Maybe we should have just gone to the grocery store.

4. NETFLIX, BEGONE! I feel such shame every time I see the little white sleeve in its usual spot in the entertainment center. Beneath a layer of dust and cobwebs it taunts me. This movie has sat untouched for almost a year. That's right. We've paid over $100 for Dexter: Season 2, Disc 1. We're cancelling.
5. Homeslice Pizza: Chris Floyd is the two-time reigning pizza-eating champion of Homeslice Pizza in Austin. As champ, he enjoys a free large pizza any time he visits the restaurant. We tag along and get free pizza. A recent one was particularly good: pepperoni, meatball, spinach, mushroom, mozzarella, and fresh basil. They say that "free" is the best sauce, and it was.
By my calculations, all this belt-tightening should fund a few days worth of diapers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Did I Eat Too Many Beans or is that a Baby Kicking Me?

Although I had been feeling faint sensations of what I originally thought was a little bit of gas or some bad Taco Bueno since I was close to 18 weeks pregnant, I've found it is the most amazing feeling to feel your future child kick, punch, roll, whatever kind of party he is having inside me. The sensation started off almost 10 weeks ago with a feeling I described as having bubbles in my tummy. You can see why I thought I ate some bad Taco Bueno. After reading a bit in my Mayo clinic book and researching online, I found that these "bubbles" were actually my baby moving.

Since then, Baby Sieber's movements have become so pronounced that I have been able to see my stomach move up and down with his little jabs and pokes. Who needs TV or books when you have a child inside of you to entertain you? Christopher and I have been able to feel real body parts...we aren't really sure which body parts we are feeling, but I know it has to be a leg or a skull or some part of his anatomy.

Last week I was assisting with a teacher training at UT, and as I was talking with the group of teachers, he gave me such a whack in the stomach that my arms, which were peacefully resting on the top of my big belly, gave a slight jump. Maybe he was telling me he didn't really like my arms there, maybe he was telling me he really likes robots, or maybe (hopefully) he was practicing "Texas Fight" who knows? I love those little moments that no one else notices or knows about. They really make all of the uncomfortable facets of gestating a child sort of fade into the background. Who cares if I can't sleep, sit or stand without changing positions 500 times, it all seems to fade into the background when you feel that roll of an elbow, or what must be a tiny foot pressing up against your skin.

Cake

Cake decorating is an art and a science. For some, it is neither. Behold:
http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Food Journey


Tonight we dine in Driftwood, Texas! We are travelling with a large group of friends to visit Salt Lick BBQ. http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

Salt Lick is like a giant barbeque theme park in the middle of nowhere. The setting is a sprawling ranch, and the ambience is barn + banquet hall + party. Why do big groups travel all the way to Driftwood, Texas when there is perfectly good brisket available in town?
Four letters: BYOB.

Barbeque and coolers full of ice and beverages is a winning combination. There is something deeply and primally 'right' about having a cold beer in great company on the grounds of aTexas ranch with oak smoke and smell of cooking meat in the air.
I should also mention that the meat is served family-style on an all-you-care-to gorge basis. Life is good in Austin, and tonight should be great!

A Classic

video

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The 5 Stages of Minivan

1. Obliviousness:
That category of car doesn't even apply to me.

2. Pity:
Look at that poor sap driving a mini-van. Mommies and Daddies are such suckers. I'm too cool for that business.

3. Fear:
I'd sooner walk than drive one of those. Can't I just get a Suburban? I'm so afraid. I'm still young, right! How old do you think I really am. Really?

4. Acceptance: Maybe a minivan is the right tool for the job. They are pretty fuel-efficient and comfortable. What have I become?

5. Minivan Driving: "Be quiet and watch your movie! Don't throw your cheerios!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Of Risk Factors and Imagination


One of the most jarring things about being a parent-to-be is being bombarded with a constant stream of warnings about dangers in the world.

It starts with the list of prohibited foods, drinks, and activities throughout pregnancy. Watch out for the cat litter box! Put down that wine! Don't even think about eating that turkey sandwich. Use that sushi for bait unless you want to maim your child.
Then, it progresses to the perils of gestation and childbirth. Watch out for gestational diabetes! You're gaining too much or not enough weight. You better lay off the tap dancing! Your baby could be born with lobster claws!
After the baby is born, you're not even close to out of the woods. Car trips are deadly, so you need to buy a 12 ton SUV and the best car seat available. You better put your baby to sleep on his back! You need to turn your hot water heater cooler, pad your fireplace, secure your stairs, block your electrical outlets, attach furniture and ovens to the wall. Oh, and you may want to get rid of your cat.


Now I understand one of the reasons why parents are "different" than the childless. It's the constant worries and the resulting logistical difficulties caused by navigating a world full of risks. The idyllic world of my youth suddenly has a big sign on it: "There be dragons. And they like babies."
Another such worry is the ongoing issue with autism. Noone really knows the cause, but the disorder is becoming alarmingly common. Is it vaccines or something else?
There is some new research that is pretty compelling. Television could be a contributing cause of autism and related disorders! Doh! How can we bask in tv's warm glow? Who will raise our children now?
Article:

Baby Einstein could not be reached for comment, but I'll definitely think twice before plunking down Baby Sieber in front of the t.v.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Temporary Armistice

Alternative titles:
Stairdown
The Calm Before the Hissing and Barking


Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Update

Baby Update:
The march toward parenthood is going great. Shannon is doing awesome as her stomach and the baby get bigger each day. We're preparing the nursery habitation by selecting furniture and evaluating paint colors (low odor paint, of course). We are stockpiling a small, but growing, pile of cute baby boy clothes.

Finally, months of reading the book "Baby Bargains" is starting to pay dividends. I am well-versed in the relative merits of various bouncers, baby wipe warmers, and crib designs. Such is life!

Home Improvement
The floundering closet project of 2008 finally made progress. The objective was simple: replace a single row of shelf / hanging rod with a double row in our master closet to double the usable space.

Cost overruns and construction delays plagued the project from the beginning. Demolition posed some challenges as some overzealous past person used 2,590 nails and 2 gallons of paint to secure the previous closet to the wall. I was able to put a big hurt on the structure and down it came.

The construction phase started badly because of an attempt to use ClosetMaid wire shelving. This seemed to be the best choice at the time, but poor instructions and worse product design led to the removal of the nearly completed shelving apparatus. I lost several hours of drilling and cursing, but Lowes accepted our return.

At this point, we went back to drawing board. The new design would use wood brackets nailed into the walls to support the shelf and clothes rod. A chill went down my spine when I realized I would finally have to step up and use my compressor and nail gun for the first time.

I just knew I would make some critical mistake at some point, and be shredded by an exploding air compressor tank or possibly lobotomize myself with a framing nail to the cerebellum. I did incorrectly load a nail which caused a scary misfire, but with my trusty friend Google (search: HOW DO I SET UP A STUPID @#$@ COMPRESSOR THAT HAS INADEQUATE INSTRUCTIONS?) I finished the project. From now on, I shall nail gun with reckless abandon. Crown molding and fence repairs, Ahoy!

Baby Season
We're headed to Waco Saturday to celebrate Clay and Sarah's upcoming baby boy. This is apparently NOT A BABY SHOWER ,so we are not supposed to eat candy bars out of diapers or screech "Oh How Preeeeeecious!" I'm really looking forward to the visit and some great times.

Corgidor Update:
Thank you, Carter, for sending along this picture of our beloved Corgidor, Bella. In this picture she is panting from the exertion of harassing people at the pool.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And the Golden Apron Goes To...


Imagine a delicious lasagne. Garfield loves these things, and they are a steady, stolid staple of Italian-American cuisine. Now imagine the lasagne re-invented with southwest flavors, heat, and tortilla layers. That's exactly what Chris Floyd did with his Golden Apron winning creation, the El Pasagna.

Chris won his first championship in the Austin cooking challenge series after a tough showdown with Shannon's delicious "Starstada Surprise." The theme this time was Viva Tortilla, and there were some excellent entries.


Dan made a barbeque chicken pizza with a touch of balsamic vinegar that really brought the dish together. Squisher brought a barbeque chicken quesadilla highlighted by homemade sauce.



Kristin elevated a bean and cheese burrito with the smoky heat of chipotle peppers. My dish was a pulled chicken, bacon, and caramelized shallot soft taco. I lost to Shannon's aforementioned Starstada Surprise. She pan fried star tortillas and prepared fresh refried black beans to make a successful tostada.
I suffered yet another first round loss, but I was proud to win the Commissioner's Cup (for good citizenship, perfect attendance, and other flexible criteria).

While the crowd was smaller than normal, we had another great party. Dan and Amanda were excellent hosts, and their palatially landscaped backyard was a site to behold. Congratulations to Chris, and to those of you who couldn't make it: we'll see you at the next one!














Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's Behind Me...Isn't it?

lolcats funny cat pictures

I'm Pregnant, I live in the Desert, and all I want is to sleep in a house that is 72 degrees!

My lovely husband who has generally been a wonderful person throughout this pregnancy, cooking good meals, helping me lay off the sugar, and reading cover to cover our Baby Bargains book telling me what products have the best reviews, has recently slipped in his lovely and wonderful status in the past couple of weeks.

It all started last Monday. I had the thermostat set to 72 degrees starting at 11:00 so I could stay cool throughout the evening. Please note: I’m 6 months pregnant and my internal thermostat is completely out of whack. Christopher, however, feels the need to sit in the tiniest room in our house, saving imaginary aliens from imaginary strangers on a planet unknown to most non-gamers, until the wee hours of the night. I must mention that it is the tiniest room in our house because when the door is shut, which I generally ask him to do since saving the imaginary aliens or playing Rock Band can get loud at times, the room can get fairly cool no matter what the display on the thermostat outside the room says. Instead of conceding to the woman he lives with that has an alien of her own growing inside her belly, my husband decides it is in his best interest to argue with me regarding a two degree difference in the thermostat that night.

Although most men who have had a pregnant wife would tell you, (and some that have just known women who are pregnant), you can be a National Merit Scholar, have an IQ beyond IQ’s, but you are not a smart person if you choose to argue with a pregnant lady over two degrees of temperature. Our hormones are raging, we have this creature inside of us making our bellies three and four times larger than one ever thought possible, although a completely magnificent experience, it is a hormonal rollercoaster all the same. Two degrees is not the fight to fight big guy. I’m not really sure the outcome of that argument, but I think I let him get his way, only to wake up in the middle of the night and change the thermostat back down to 72 degrees.

As last week went on, I generally seemed to get away with my program of 72 degrees on the thermostat, only waking up once or twice to my husband still fighting off aliens in his tiny room while his pregnant wife was roasting in our bedroom. I figured at this point, I’ve proven to him that for whatever reason, my internal thermostat does not handle 74 degrees while I’m pregnant. I’ve won, or so I thought.

Now it is a week later, my husband’s friends have mentioned to him what an idiot he was for even trying to argue with his pregnant wife about two degrees on a thermostat and I’m pretty sure this is a battle left in my memory that I can check off as one for Shannon, zero for Chris. However, Christopher decides to start the same argument up again. Has this happened to me before, oh yeah, it has, and I won that fight! Apparently Christopher wasn’t convinced. Currently, it is 3:45 in the morning, and I’ve been up since 3:00 because, yes, I had to go reset the thermostat back from 74 to 72 degrees yet again! After our long discussion with use of choice words, I knew I had him persuaded that I’m not a thermostat dictator, I’m just gestating another human being and I just want to sleep throughout the night without having to change a thermostat in our house from 74 to 72 degrees. I ask Chris and our blog audience…is that really TOO MUCH to ask?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Best Barbeque in Texas...? A Quest for Brisket




This weekend, I accompanied the Floyd brothers and Shannon to the Middle of Nowhere, TX(population: a few people + lots of chickens + and numerous cows). Our mission: to eat the best barbeque brisket in Texas at a rustic shack in Lexington named Snow's Barbeque.

This wouldn't be as simple as hopping in the car and lollygagging out to Snow's. This little barbeque joint is only open Saturday, and even then, only until the meat runs out. Following glowing coverage by Texas Monthly magazine where Snow's was declared the best barbeque in Texas, more and more food tourists from all over the state have travelled to Lexington. Prior to noon most saturdays, the barbeque runs out, and the restaurant closes. Tough luck to all the city slickers who woke up too late, drove too slowly, or lingered a little long at Starbucks.
Our departure time was set for 6:30 a.m. The prospect of waking up so early and driving over an hour for barbeque initially led me to dismiss the idea out of hand. Maybe someone could bring me back a few slices of brisket so that I could sleep. Over the next couple of days, the idea grew on me. This felt like one of those carpe diem "life is short" opportunities, so I signed on for some bbq goodness.
We arrived at before 8 a.m. This scene was exactly like a barbeque place should be. Giant, rust-speckled grain silos loomed just across the street. Some nearby roosters just wouldn't stop crowing. Huge pickups rumbled past towing trailers full of noisily mooing cows. There was already a line full of groggy but cheerful folks snaking out the door.

I passed the time in line yawning and checking out the barbeque pits that were being tended busily by the pit-master (73 year-old Tootsie Tomanetz) and her crew. With five or six huge black metal smoker pits as well as several large trailer-mounted barrel smokers, this was a pretty serious operation.
Fragrant oak smoke and barbeque aromas filled the morning air as the Snow's staff constantly opened and closed the smokers to check the meats and apply mop sauce, and my stomach started grumbling. I'm not a big breakfast guy, but watching the aluminum pans piled high with black-crusted briskets shuttling from the smokers into the restaurant was almost too much to bear.

Service started up at 8 a.m., and I placed my order: one pound of brisket, one half pound of pork, and one pound of pork ribs. The brisket was the main event, but as a native Alabaman it was great to see barbeque pork on the menu (see also Dreamland BBQ: the best pork ribs ever). I was handed a serving of sauce (deliciously sweet and tangy) in a repurposed Ozarka water bottle. On the way out, I grabbed a bowl of the beans (always free, according to the sign). Free beans!

We grabbed a picnic table outside next to the barbeque pits, and got down to business. Would the brisket live up to the hype and justify the trip? Well, the pork was pretty solid, but the rub was a little on the salty side. The brisket exceeded my high expectations. The crucial crust and smoke ring in the meat were present and flavorful. But what made this special was the melt-in-your mouth tenderness of the meat. This wasn't health food. This wasn't a dessicated "lean" cut of beef to gnaw over and drown in sauce . This brisket was silky, artery-clogging, and freaking delicious.

This is the best brisket that I have ever tasted. Of course, I haven't visited the other top contenders like Kreuz's, Opies, or Louis Mueller (a deficiency that will soon be remedied). The trip was a little long, and I was wiped out for the rest of the weekend, but this was a successful food pilgrimage.

Here's an Austin American Statesman article about Snow's. The word is getting out!

Pictures from the Nathan's Famous Dallas Qualifier

The huge group of Chris supporters decked out in our super sweet "Bite for your right to Coney" shirts:
Chris has his game face on during his pre-contest media time:
The crowd just before the competition:

The HDB's being prepped for the showdown:


Here are some more pictures from the big Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Qualifier. Thanks to Mrs. Shinn!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wall-E


To anyone reading this on the Internet. Please go see the new Pixar movie, Wall-E.

We saw this at our beloved Alamo Drafthouse. We showed up early for the sell-out show and dined on queso fries and a "Blazing Saddles" BBQ Chicken Pizza. Dinner and a movie dates are always great here, and we do know that our dating days are numbered.

Wall-E exceeded my expectations. The movie was amazing, beautiful, and touching. Five minutes after leaving the theatre, I was already thinking about buying the movie on BluRay to be able to watch, rewatch, and catch all the intricate detail layered throughout. Shannon reported that Baby Sieber seemed to enjoy the movie as well, as evidenced by numerous kicks and movements that indicated approval and cheering.

The reviews are almost universally positive:
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wall_e/

Some curmudgeons might have their political sensibilities offended by the movie's secondary message about grotesque consumerism and environmental concerns, but don't let that put you off. Wall-E is a winner.

Note: I'm not getting paid a commission or bounty or any advertising dollars for this posting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fun with Data

I work in finance. I use data and numbers to pay my bills, and graphs are funny to me. If you like graphs as much as me, then you will love this site:

http://graphjam.com/

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Showdown at the Hot Dog Corral

This weekend, Shannon and I trekked up to Dallas to cheer for Chris (a.k.a. Big Chompy) at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. This eating battle was staged in a non-descript suburban parking lot with a big white tent offering protection from the sweltering Texas sun. We crammed in with the crowd of about 200 to gape at the gustatory spectacle. This crowd was dominated by Chompy supporters wearing fetching mustard yellow "Bite for your right to Coney" t-shirts

Chris drew a center-stage spot where he jostled for space with a massive eater known as "The Intimidator." As the athletes tore into the first hot dogs, a cloying wave of hot dog wind washed over the crowd bathing us in frankfurter perfume. I was certainly grateful to be in the crowd and not on stage.

The ten minute contest flew by quickly, and it was impossible to tell how well Chris or the other competitors were doing. From our vantage point, our guy was pushing a solid pace, and it felt like he was in the mix to win it. His cheering section, some 70-strong, punctuated the event with numerous rounds of deafening chants and cheers. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Chris crammed in one last massive mouthful of food. This technique, known in the competitive eating world as chipmonking can sometimes boost a competitor to victory. Well, it wasn't a pretty sight, and he was chewing for 5 minutes after the contest.

With the trip to Coney Island and validation as professional-caliber eater at stake, I know Chris really wanted to win this competition. I saw the brutal training regimen and heard the stories about sleepless nights and the terrible things that hot dogs can do to one's physiology. In the final tally, he fell just a handful of HDB's short of winning the competition, finishing 4th place out of 15 competitors with 15 HDB's eaten in 10 minutes.

Some travelling "pro" from California won the spot in the Coney Island contest, but there are much more valuable things in life. Chris drew a massive crowd of friends and family, people who support him and have his back. Even the Dallas Morning News took note in their coverage, declaring Chris the crowd favorite. That's pretty cool in my book.

Congratulations to Big Chompy for a great rookie effort, and thank you for saving us thousands of dollars in New York travel expenses.

Link to Dallas Morning News article:
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/plano/stories/062208dnmethotdogcontest.3a8b987.html


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coney Island Or Bust


Chris Floyd, one of the top amateur eaters in the world, is set to take his first steps in the world of professional eating. This weekend he is competing in the Dallas regional qualifier for the Grand Daddy of Them All: The Nathan's Famous Coney Island Hot Dog Contest.

Yes, this is the contest that you've seen on ESPN. This is the contest that Japanese prodigy Takeru Kobayashi dominated until Rambo-esque American superstar Joey Chestnut finally brought the Mustard Belt back to the U.S. last year.

With a win in the regional qualifier, Chris wins a seat at the star-studded July 4th contest in New York. ESPN and the world will learn what Chris's friends, family, and many a struggling buffet restaurant owner have known for years: this guy can EAT.

Chris has been in training for weeks. There have been speed trials. He has held whiteboard strategy sessions. He's reviewed hours of footage to study the bio-mechanics and techniques of past champions. He has scrutinized the results of other regionals to set his targets and pace. He has been downing 8-packs of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in shockingly fast fashion (note: this is greater than 2,000 calories and 150 grams of fat in minutes).

He is ready to take his shot, and a huge contingent of friends and family will be there to cheer him on (Sam's Club in Plano, Texas on June 21st.). This could be the start of something huge. Is this the start of a professional eating career or simply a huge stomache ache? Only time will tell.
Background Info:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Viva Tortilla~!

Viva, Tortilla! Viva Tortilla!
The Austin cooking challenge parties have returned with the Viva Tortilla party set for July 12th. A tortilla is a blank canvas to a skillful cook, so we are expecting some amazing dishes at the party.

The parties are always fun, even if somewhat excessively epicurean. If the party were a person, it would someone like Mario Batali or maybe Crazy Legs Conti.

We're expecting to see some excellent takes on tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, or maybe even a king ranch casserole. The wine will flow like water, judges will make hilarious comments, and a new champion will receive The Golden Apron.

Anyone in the blog audience have a favorite tortilla recipe? How about any crazy ideas for a fusion or inventive dish involving tortillas?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Garden Update...


We harvested our first couple of heirloom tomatoes today. After losing several to marauding bugs and the ravages of 97 degree sun, we were pressed into action. The ants that gnawed on my beautiful San Marzano tomato will pay dearly for their insolence. Also, any stink bugs, aphids, or worms out there: you are on notice. I'm not a violent man, but I do intend to commit insecticide.
In the midst of the tomato bacteria crisis, it's great to have fresh and organic produce from our back yard. The seedlings went in the ground in march, so it has been a long journey,
The big gnarly one is a variety called Dr. Wyche's Yellow. The smaller striped tomato is a variety called Black Zebra. We're looking forward to digging in and trying our first tomatoes.

We have a couple other interesting plants in the garden. There's a cute little banana pepper. It produced a giant pepper a month ago, and it has only now recovered enough to start another little one.