Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas this year was busy, but very exciting. It was a holiday of firsts - first time Erin was properly introduced to the concept of Santa Clause. First time we woke on Christmas morning in our own beds, in our own house. First time we didn't have to travel 500+ miles (although the amount we drove exceeded that to be sure). First time in untold years that the Miller side of the family all celebrated together. All in all it was wonderful, bountiful holiday with great food, fun presents, and lots of family time.
And there were pictures:

Get the flash player here:

And there was more video than decency allows us to inflict on our dear readers. So here is one, unedited, highlighting two of Erin's favorite toys Santa brought: a kitchen and a baby doll. Not that he intended these to be played with together in such fashion.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting into the spirit

Time spent so far: 1.5 hours

Pieces assembled: 6

Pieces left to assemble: 17

Number of different screws/pegs: ~90

Number of F-bombs dropped: innumerable

Hours till Christmas morning: 30

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On Language

It occurs to me that Erin could be transitioning from "toddler" to "kid" now that she's using parts of speech I don't even know the names of.   Just now I found myself Googling "prepositional phrase".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dance uniform

After bath tonight, Erin wasn't quite ready to get the jammies on yet. So she pieced together this outfit. She's modeling by spinning around, dancing to the music in her head:

Is that regulation dancewear?

Shirt: "I heart Nature" by Roots
Underwear: Elmo, of course
Leggings/arm warmer: Baby Legs
Socks: Trumpette, size 0-6 months

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow in Orinda!

Apparently this happens every eon or so.

Snowy Morning

Snow and House

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Earlier than the rooster

Some small person in the house woke up early this morning. About 4:35, approximately. By 5:30 it was apparent sleep was done for the night so the McMiller household got a bright dark and early start this morning. There are advantages to these early mornings. Here's what we've done so far:

Made, ate and cleaned and egg, bacon, toast breakfast
Fixed the stopper in one sink
Replaced the drain pipe of the kitchen sink
2 loads of laundry
Changed duvet covers
Made 3 emergency "Go-bags"
Bought more emergency supplies off the Red Cross list
Talked to PGE worker about safety posts around the meter
Baked 1 batch Maple Cookies
Watched 1 episode of Sid the Science Kid
Wrote 1 blog post

Time now: 9:00 AM

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bedtime is better with friends.

Friends in bed

Erin snuck into our bed with a few pals... she couldn't resist the new sheets!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Latest exercise fad....

... toddler push-ups:

Erin Push-Up

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seeking nominations

For the coolest scientist hair ever.

Thanks for sending me this one, Christie. I've spent waaaaayy too much time looking for people I know. I vote for Lundblad.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Big Girl Bed

Showing off how to step down:

And a demonstration:

Thanks, Cousin Sean, for the awesome bed!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Silence, please. I'm concentrating.

Update on potty training: Erin is doing really well! She has a dry diaper most of the time, and lets people know, both at home and at school, if she needs to use the potty. She's diaper-free at home, either lady-Godiva style or in her Elmo skivvies. We even had one outing diaper-free two weekends ago and it went very well.

However, she's hung up on one thing. Well, two, to be more precise.

She will only poop standing up. It's very obvious when she's making her #2s: she stands very still and concentrates with a very serious face. Tonight, as she paused in her play to do her business, B asked, "Erin are you pooping?"

Erin held up one finger and commanded, "No! No talking, Dada!"

She then asked to use the potty. Waddling. Slowly. Observe:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Playing with Erin's piggy bank this morning:

Erin, shaking coins out of the piggy bank: Monies!
Brian to Dr. A: Ha! That's good.  "Monies"...
Erin: Heh, heh, heh! Erin say monies!

Monday, November 9, 2009

"What di did you see?"

Erin's favorite song these days is "Brown bear, brown bear" sung to the multi-purpose "twinkle twinkle" tune. She's showing off her vocal range here, as she sits in her "boat" reading/singing the book.

Rated G for "Grandparents".

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why? Because it's Sunday.

Cake: Yellow Cake from Better Homes cookbook
Frosting: Quick and Rich Dark Chocolate Frosting, America's Test Kitchen.

But really, I was trying out new silicone baking pans I picked up a couple of weeks ago. It was definitely a trial run. What I learned:
1. Do oil and flour the pans before putting your batter in. (A few bits stubbornly stuck to the pan.)
2. Do put both pans on cookie sheets for stability.
3. Do not crowd the pans together. (One side of one layer got smooshed.)
4. Do take the time to put little strips of parchment/wax paper under the cake while frosting. Messy frosting edges, while fun to clean with your fingers, probably should be avoided.

Although a bit lopsided, nothing beats chocolate cake. Looks aren't everything in life.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

13 years

Brian and Dr. A celebrated 13 years of dating last night. We did the dinner-and-a-movie, child free. Dinner was at a funky Southern food place that Oakland Dilettante recommended commanded we go. It was delicious, super filling, and just our style. The movie was, well, an adventure. Our ticket stubs were for this movie, which we were bored of within about 12 minutes. So we skipped over to see this one, but Dr. A got too creeped out. We ended up at this movie and enjoyed it. The date was rounded out by two hearty scoops of ice cream, a trip up the glass elevators of the St. Francis hotel, and then... and then... we didn't go home!! That's right. We stayed at a fancy hotel. Erin spent the night at Grammy and Papa's house - her first sleep-over - and Brian and I, for the first time in 2 years, 2 weeks and 6 days, spent the night alone together. Needless to say, we slept. And slept in late! Apparently, so did Erin. She woke up at 7:15. Maybe she should go to sleep-overs more often.

In the morning, we got some pastries and went to the top of Twin Peaks. The day was gorgeous. Somehow these were the only pictures we got:

Yeah, we're grown-ups.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Erin M, M.D.

Erin inquires frequently into our health and well-being these days. Any loud bump/crash will bring a "Are you OK, Mommy? OK, Mommy?"

Then there's the band-aids. We've gone through many boxes lately. Here's the routine:

Erin: (opening up a band-aid) Got an ouchie, Mama?

Me: (trying to find anything that resembles a boo-boo. Moles, generally) Yes, sweetie. Right here.

Erin: (looking concerned) What happened?

Me: I touched the stove by accident. It was hot and I said, "Ouch!".

Erin: (smoothing band-aid over ouchie) Feel better, Mama. Feel better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reason #5498 why I love my husband

Does he throw out the 2 week old ice-cream birthday cake?

No. He eats it. Out of the box. For breakfast.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Warm Appley Goodness

Some friends of mine are involved in a photography class so they can learn how to use these fancy SLRs that is the modern-day parent's must-have accessory. I'm awed by their eagerness to learn. Maybe if they do post every day this month about their photographic endeavors, some of it will rub off on me.

Because here's the extent of my photography knowledge.

With flash:

Without flash:

I knew you'd be impressed.

Recipe: Apple Oven Cake from Sunset October 2009. A snap to make, and now the house smells like cinnamony appley deliciousness. Serving size says 6 but that's a gross overestimate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

For Erin's second Halloween, Grammy, Papa and Uncle Heath came over to go trick-or-treating. After warming our bellies with a chicken stew with biscuit dinner, we headed out. Erin had the choice between a cheerleader or a Fraulein. Since she'd been cheering all week, she decided everyone loves a German girl.

Note the already chocolate-smeared face.

After a the first few shy houses, she soon gained her confidence and dragged Brian by the hand, saying, "This house, Daddy, TRICK OR TREAT!!!".

The neighborhood teemed with small children and their grown-up escorts. Brian and Dr. A were just about the only parents not in costume. That'll learn us.

I predict next year she'll be wise to our pilfering of her treat basket.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rise and shine

December 25, 2008: Fancy espresso machine received

December 27, 2008: Fancy espresso machine breaks.

February 3, 2009: Broken fancy espresso machine replaced.

November 1, 2009: "Stats" feature states 1084 cups of espresso made by fancy expresso machine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Decider

Erin is huge into making decisions these days.

Sly Dinner

She's developed this really cute habit of saying "Uhmmmm" and looking up in the air to let you know she's thinking about something. As in:

Brian: "OK, let's eat some cereal. You want me to pour you some O's?."
Erin: "No! Erin pick!"
Brian: "Yeah, go for it."
Erin: "Uhmmm... this one. No... aaahhmm... *this* one."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Erin's 2 year stats

Height - 34.5" : 50%
Weight - 26 lbs 8 oz : 50%
Head circumference - 51.5 cm : > 97% (Actually, not on the chart.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Erin!

Erin opens the door to her third year.
Go get 'em, kiddo!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry. Page not found.

Error received tonight from the intertubes:

"Sorry, we can't find ''. We suggest that you check the spelling of the web address or search above."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Look

If you're related to me, you probably know this look.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Go Bears!

For Uncle Jim. Coming home from a Cal Bears game a few weeks ago:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We have new phone numbers!

Welcome to the 925!  So we just got new phone numbers.  Please contact me by email and I'll send you our new phone number.

Verizon was lame and is unable to have a message at the old numbers informing callers of our new number. I was like "But, dude, you're the phone company!" Whatever. Apologies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Stinky Story

So, we're not one week yet in our new house when the first interesting thing happened. We did laundry. Washing clothes is not normally cause for excitement, but with this load the toilet in the adjacent bathroom flooded.
One call later to the plumber, 2 1/2 hours, some time on the roof with a motorized snake, and voila, clog cleared. And just to make sure it was really cleared, the plumber ran the water for half an hour.

That night, Brian was muddling around in the garage when he noted a vaguely damp, unpleasant smell just about everywhere in the house, particularly in the kitchen, family and living room. After Erin went to bed, he bravely donned his rattiest clothes, dug out the flood light and dove into the crawl space to check for a leak. Can you guess where this is going? He crawled swam through muck to get to the sewer pipe. He finds it is bent, which was likely causing the clog, and finds not just a leak but a giant hole. That's right, folks. A hole. So all the water from the kitchen sink, powder room toilet and sink, utility sink, and clothes washer was, instead of flowing to the East Bay MUDD treatment plant was dumping out under our house. Ick.

One additional call later to the homeowners warrantee company, one sanitation specialist, several hundreds of dollars of bactericide, fungicide, and absorbent compound and one 100% homeowners-warranty-covered plumber later, our pipes efflux to the magical sewage treatment plant, the crawlspace is drying (with chemical aid), and the only side effect is the house smells vaguely like a porta potty.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The ABC song, now with Banana

It is a little muddled in the middle, but all the elements are there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quite a do.

Erin is very sensitive about her hair. Her irrepressible locks approach the sacred; consequently she rarely allows us to brush it or style it (much less wash it. We do that about every 2 weeks). So she surprised us last week by wanting pig tails. Every day.

Alas, the newfound love of styling was short lived, and it's back to red afro once again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I just got a call from our real estate agent: it's official. We're homeowners again.

Front of house

We get the keys on Friday, then we'll spend the next few weeks getting the house ready and getting or crap organized. We'll be fully moved in by mid-October.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The name game

A great resource for baby names is the Social Security Administration. They keep detailed records on the most common 1000 names for the last 35 years or so, and have records for the most common names going back about 100 years. Great if you're curious minded, really interesting if you're trying to find a good name for a kid.

Here were some interesting girl names from 2008, and their ranking.

164: Erin
429: Lyric
575: Aria
583: Amani (also Armani for boy. Just thought it was strange to see
such similar names side-by-side.)
674: Monserrat
791: Precious
893: Deja
927: Ashleigh
937: Tiara
939: Princess

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Erin had her first day at her new preschool today. She was dressed in fancy new back-to-school clothes (thanks, Grammie) and a new lunchbox (or purse, depending on your perspective) selected by Erin herself.

New lunchbox

Here she is testing out the playground:

1st day at school!

It was a bit of a rough start, but she had a great day including a riveting round of Itys Bitsy spider, a watercolor painting session, and of course, lots of playground play.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Happy Days"

Cal Shakes

Last week Dr. A and I went to Cal Shakes to see a play that was too smart for us: Happy Days by Samuel Beckett. Acting, direction, environment were excellent. Play itself, not so good. The theater is outdoors, and we picnicked there beforehand.

The play is essentially a well-delivered 90-minute monologue given by a woman buried up to her waist (and then her neck) in a 20-foot high pile of dirt.

I guess I'm just not smart enough, Beckett -- is that what you want me to say!? Stupid Nobel laureates. Phttffffttt!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


So the ultrasound went smoothly -- all the limbs and such were of the right number and in the right places. I had assumed that the tech would let us know the gender right when he figured it out. However, after the ultrasound, the tech left the room to get the guy who was going to do the amnio. When the tech returned, we had this little exchange:

Me: "Um, sooo, could you determine the gender?"
Lame-o ultrasound tech: "Oh, it was a girl." (spoken as "It was obvious to the trained eye. Couldn't you tell?" )
Me: "..."

Good news: everything checked out OK as far as they could tell. The actual amnio took only about 90 seconds. The needle was much smaller than we thought.

Pooping Puzzle Pieces

Parents learn some from books, some from friends, but most is hands-on experimentation.

For your pleasure, McMiller Productions presents a short feature on how parenting is going so far.

I'm expecting the Father of the Year award to be sent from the American Academy of Pediatrics any day now.

The video is grainy due to the fact that I had to edit the hell out of the video because the original image was way too dark to see anything.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cast your vote!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Dr. A will be having an amnio because she will be of "advanced maternal age" when Jellybean comes along. Boo.

But there's a bright side: we have the chance to find out the gender a wee bit early. Here's your chance to show off your amazing predictive powers. Vote early, vote often.

The McMillers Have Given Notice!

See ya, apartment!

We're all lined up on the house purchase:
  • Received final loan approval? Check.
  • Inspection didn't show anything terrifying? Check.
  • House appraised to sale price? Check.
  • All buyers contingencies removed? Check.
  • Given 45-day notice at apartment? Check.
Close date is September 16th, we take ownership September 18th, and we're out of our apartment October 14th.

We'll have a month of overlap where we've got both the house and the apartment. We're going to use the time to schlep all our stuff over to the new place, go through years of crap, and do some minor repairs.

By the way -- this photo from the apartment's website is what we see off of our balcony. I'm definitely going to miss the pool.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Ice Cream in the Park

Said with effort: "Oooh, eh-bee."
(Said when attempting to lift something heavy.)

"Mi-mi, Da-dee."
(Said when I'm in her way. Translation: "Excuse me, Daddy" )

Said with arms crossed across chest for comic affect: "Sooooooo!", as in "So, how's it going?"
(Just like it sounds: being funny.)

Said pointing at Steve our cat: "Seeb! No!!"
(I guess Dr. A and I tell Steve not to do things a lot)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Movie Night: Finding Nemo

I'm having a hard time getting my brain around this video. It looks like Erin is going on eight years old.

Note the Jiffy Pop. Dr. A says it was quite the center of conversation in the checkout line at Safeway.

Also of note: we had to fast forward through the scary parts in Finding Nemo. Seriously, they need to come up with a rating that's like sub-G or something.

Pizza, acrobatics, music

Friday night in Lafayette:

Walking around outside the pizza place.

Then more kid-oriented live music.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Telegraph, Ur-ine for a Real Treat

The McMillers hit Berkeley today for a walk. Highlights include (but not limited to):
  • More urine than you can shake a stick at. And I can shake a lot of sticks. It was early morning, before most shops had opened up, and before the street vendors had set out their hand-made hemp-and-bead wares. I guess it was before the daily hose-down.
  • Crappy doughnuts. Berkeley, really: how could you?
  • An amusing jogger wearing a sports bra, running shoes, and sheer pantyhose that went up above her belly button. That's it -- no shorts. And no, it was not a butt that needed viewing.
  • The portion of the trip unanimously voted Most Exciting Disaster: A broken water main causing this huge river down like five separate streets. We're into natural disasters like that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wacky Times in the East Bay

That's right, nothin' but crazy shenanigans in Lamorinda.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mount Diablo Challenge

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about running up the local peak, Mt. Diablo. It keeps sitting there, saying, "Hey, B, I wonder if you can run up me. I'm probably pretty fun. Check me out.". So, Sunday morning was the First Official Brian McFeely Mount Diablo Challenge. 20 miles, 3700 vertical feet. 4 hours 11 minutes. Four Clif Bars. Many salty pretzels. Two tarantula sightings. Booyow.

It's a big, squat mountain, and it was interesting to be on foot moving up it -- it felt just like they say, like moving up the side of a big, sleeping monster. Views were beautiful but smoke from fires in the state obscured the bay. Ms. A and Erin met me at the top and drove me home.

Monday, August 17, 2009

House pictures

We just signed a huge stack of disclosures today. We now know everything there is to know about California real estate law.

Front of house

Living room


Master bedroom

Front bedroom

Back bedroom


Back deck

Rear of house