Two facets of fatherhood, and some mundane updates with cute baby pictures

I.

In many respects, I don’t feel like my life has changed tremendously since having a son. I had been preparing to have a kid for years and was very ready.

There have been some minor material changes. Less time to play video games. I don’t watch TV nearly as much. I need to be a bit more flexible with my time and willing to drop whatever I’m doing to take care of him. But it’s not a burden because I knew in advance that it was coming.

A lot of new parents go through a period of mourning and grieve their loss of freedom, but I mourned in advance.

Also, April is awesome, and I continue to marvel at how much of a difference having a great partner makes.

I continue to be thankful in all situations. We are blessed beyond measure.

Simon and Matthew — 2019-03-13

II.

There has been one significant change in me that was completely unexpected.

I used to hate “working with my hands.” I didn’t mind physical labor, but I felt like I was terrible at skilled physical labor, and I knew almost nothing about anything that needed to be done. So any work on the house was daunting to me. And because of this, I had almost no tools, which meant I never had the right tool for the job and that made any kind of work even harder.

Everything we did last summer wasn’t terrible but felt a bit like a sacrifice. It was worth doing, but not how I would have liked to spend my time. Now I kind of like this work. It really surprises me.

My father-in-law helped me build some bunk beds, and I am putting down flooring in our attic to make it easier to install ducts and bathroom exhaust vents. When I squeezed through the crawlspace last summer, it felt like a huge ordeal at first. Now, I’m working in the attic and it’s ho-hum no big deal.

Since we bought this house, I’ve been happy to invest in it. I don’t mind spending the money or hiring people to do things because this is our forever-home. We’re going to live here for as long as we can, which means we’ll get to enjoy all of the improvements to the house. But I haven’t wanted to do the work myself, even to the extent of hanging shelves, because I considered myself bad at it.

I’m learning that I’m not bad, that I can learn to be better, and that my family inspires me to invest the effort, not just the money. I’m happy to work on the house myself because it helps me become more familiar with it. And by knowing the house better, I feel like I can serve my family better.

It was a completely unconscious shift for me. But I was reflecting on my lack of dread when I crawled out of the attic for the first time and started thinking about everything that I needed to do. I needed to buy plywood, and a jigsaw, and build a floor, and cut holes in the roof, and install exhaust vent hoods, and and and… and it was all fine. No dread.

What changed? I want to take care of my son as best I can, and I want to prepare our house for more kids. Because someday, I hope that we’ll have a couple more, and they’ll all want to take showers, which causes humidity, which needs to be vented out properly because otherwise we’ll rot the decking and cause mold and that’s not good for anyone.

It’s like a switch flipped. I have a motivation to learn and grow in this area, and I guess that’s all I needed.

III.

Simon is now 6 months old, and a lot has happened since I last wrote about being his dad.

Simon and Matthew on the couch — 2018-12-09

At the same time, it’s all pretty mundane. Simon has a simple routine:

  1. Wake up around 6 a.m.
  2. Eat
  3. Play
  4. Eat
  5. Nap around 8 a.m.
  6. Sleep for 1 hour
  7. Repeat

And he goes to bed sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. Meanwhile, I’m working during the day while April devises educational games to keep Simon engaged and growing both physically and mentally.

At the Goeke Christmas Party — 2018-12-15

We had our first Christmas, which we celebrated quietly at our home with April’s parents and brother Adam. We typically celebrate Christmas whenever April’s other brother, Eric, and his wife Stephanie can visit, which meant this year (2018) we celebrated at Thanksgiving. So actual-Christmas was delightfully low-key.

Simon and Willow — 2019-01-16

Our dog Willow pretty much ignores Simon. This can be problematic when she wants to be on my lap and Simon is already there because she may try to crowd in anyways. She hasn’t actually stepped on or hurt Simon yet, but we’ve had a few close calls, so we keep a close eye on her.

She doesn’t dislike Simon… she just doesn’t seem to notice him.

Simon in his stroller — 2019-02-03

Early on, Simon wasn’t fond of the stroller so we always wore him when we walked. Now he’s liking it a lot, though the weather hasn’t permitted us to walk with it much. We’re looking forward to the warmer months a lot so we can get out and he can see more of the world.

Homecoming from an overnight work trip — 2019-02-12

My first work trip since Simon was born was an overnight to St. Louis. We used Google’s Duo app for a video call the night of the 11th and Simon recognized me through the phone and was all smiles, which was exciting. I was worried that he wouldn’t engage with me on the phone, but he did and it was heart-melting.

In April, I’ll be gone for a week, so we’ll be using Duo a lot

On the bed in the nursery — 2019-02-26

He’s generally happy playing by himself, happier when one of us is playing with him, and even happier when we’re all together

Simon in the alternate car seat — 2019-03-13

We’re finally making some good headway on saving up money and paying off all the recent home repairs, just in time to spend a bunch more money.

Both of our vehicles needed new tires, and the minivan had run-flat tires (supposedly they won’t go flat and you can drive up to 50 MPH for 100 miles or so on them even if they get shredded) that added a lot of cost. I had replaced the run-flats once before, but that was just a couple of years ago and I was shocked that they were already worn down. It turns out that these run-flat tires are 2x the cost while lasting half as many miles, and if you want to use regular tires (which last twice as long and cost half as much…), you have to actually replace the wheels too.

So in addition to new tires for the Civic, we got new wheels and tires for the Odyssey, which cost about as much as the run-flats would have. But now, when we need to replace the van tires in the future, it’ll be a lot cheaper.

While the van was in the shop, we used one of the car seats that Eric and Stephanie bought for storage at our house, and Simon really enjoyed having me sit in the backseat with him. It turns out that, with a rear-facing car seat in the Civic, the passenger seat has to be so far forward that I couldn’t fit into it.

Simon with Ophelia and Viola — 2019-03-15

Unlike Willow, the cats seem somewhat curious about Simon. But they don’t necessarily love him. Ophelia has bit at Simon once (though she didn’t actually get him), and they don’t go out of their way to snuggle with him.

I prefer their avoidance to Willow’s lack of noticing that Simon exists. And sometimes we can get cute pictures like this before they run off

Simon loves antibiotics — 2019-03-16

Simon got his first ear infection in March and he LOVED the medicine. We had to spray a saline solution into his nose several times a day, which he hates and screams and cries about, but then we give him his medicine in the morning or evening and it’s all smiles and delight.

Trying some food — 2019-03-21

Simon is trying food now, and sometimes he likes it! For instance, he hasn’t been fond of applesauce, but he does like applesauce with cinnamon. And he loves banana, but is less fond of avocado on its own. Avocado plus banana plus cinnamon is amazing.

Also, bone broth? He loves bone broth. Sadly, bone broth doesn’t love him as much.

On his side but not rolling or crawling yet — 2019-03-19

Simon is 6 months old today. They have probably been the best 6 months of my life, and I am so blessed to have the family that I do.

Winter 2009 Newsletter

I’ve been keeping up with blogging and publishing better this fall, even better than I had expected, but maybe you want to see some pictures, or maybe (for some reason we won’t discuss) you don’t check in often. It is for you that I carefully, gently, and with great love craft this newsletter.

If you’d like to receive this newsletter regularly, I’d suggest you drop your email in the bucket to get a copy when it comes out. Of course, they’ll show up here in the regular RSS feed as well, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed designed especially for them.

Download and/or view SilverPen News – Winter 2009.

Pre-PAX Day 2

Day 2 was, if anything, more awesome than Day 1. After all, how could it not be? Today included more Magical Mystery Tour, the Pre-PAX Dinner, and then the Triwizard Drinking Tournament.

Meetup and Monorail

Reciprocal

Indeed.

Strangely enough, or perhaps as one might expect (based on what The Simpsons have taught us), the monorail only exists to cover 1 mile. Yes, you get on, and you debark a mile later. I’m a bit curious how much it cost to build.

SciFi Museum

Welcome from the World of Tomorrow!

The SciFi Museum (there was a music side as well, but we were less interested in that) was pretty cool. Except that half of it was closed and the people running it were dicks. OK, maybe they weren’t that bad, but they didn’t allow photography of any kind. None of us particularly understood this rule, as photographs without using a flash is easy to do (so there’s no risk to damaging anything) and taking a picture of stuff isn’t really hurting anything. I would think sharing pictures would be good marketing, but instead every time we tried to snap a picture they snapped at us to put our cameras away.

So, you know, I just “checked Twitter” a lot.

Yoda Rocketman! Robots Donatello Stardate Awesome

Funland

Nomad's the coolest

There was some sort of arcade thing we went to after the SciFi museum where most of us sat and just checked Twitter. I did play a game where I used a rifle to shoot at pirates and a canon squirted me with water, but someone else took a picture and I don’t have one =(

CCST

CCST Group Photo

We got back to the convention center just in time to meet up with the Cross Country Super Trip. These intrepid adventurers piled into cars and vroomed across the US of A to come to PAX, forming a terrible mix of caravan and zombie-creating-machine.

Pre-PAX Dinner

Skillet Menu

Prior to the Triwizard Drinking Tournament we had a fantastic dinner together at the Naval Reserve Building. Though three options were offered, most everyone had the burger and fries. Unscientific polls suggested that this phenomena was due entirely due to the presence of “bacon jam.”

More pictures »

A few new photos on Flickr

Until recently, I was hosting my own photo gallery to make managing all this stuff more easy. However, I decided that I didn’t really want all my photos up for display, and I didn’t like the drain on my bandwidth and speed. Now I’m using Flickr, mostly because I can export from iPhoto with just a couple of clicks.

I haven’t pulled photos off our camera in a couple of months, so there were over 500 to import. Suffice it to say that fewer are on Flickr. Check it.

Events include:

  • Family Reunion
  • Eurkea Springs
  • Shaw Wedding Reception
  • April Langr’s BBQ

Smoothgallery consumes my life

I wrote a month ago about why I don’t, or can’t, use Flickr. Since then, I’ve done some restructuring of my photo gallery and, while I like the way it looks and functions better, I discovered something very important about Smoothgallery that I hadn’t thought of before. First, my last theme displayed 15 images on a page and, after you had viewed those 15 images, you needed to go to the next page. Second, Smoothgallery loads all of the images in a gallery at once so you can smoothly transition from one to the other.

The first statement impacts Smoothgallery by limiting gallery sizes to 15; if there were more than 15 images in a gallery, they wouldn’t be displayed. That’s easy enough to fix by increasing that limit, but then I run into issues where every image is loaded at the same time. I have a gallery with over 400 images, so when I gave this a try, it immediately overloaded my server because it tried to load all 400+ pictures simultaneously.

My conclusion is that, first, I want to keep Smoothgallery. It’s so much nicer than Lightbox, and I don’t want to change the way the gallery looks again. Therefore, I need to reorganize my albums. All of them.

I’m currently at 60 albums with well over 3000 images, and now I need to go through and break them down further into smaller categories. For example, I’m currently in Orlando, Florida at Educause and have subsequently been taking a lot of pictures of the conference and surrounding area. Instead of just creating one giant album, or even albums according to the day I took the picture on (like I have now), I could organize them according to location or event: Exhibition Hall, Conference Hall, Disney, Hotel, Orlando, Airport, etc.

It’s going to be a lot of organizational work, but I think the end result will be significantly better than what I have now. It will also, hopefully, decrease bandwidth usage and speed up gallery loading. I’m just not sure when I can do this; I get back to Springfield on Friday night, and Saturday marks the start of NaNoWriMo. But it’s still something that needs to be done, and sooner rather than later.

Lightbox

Just a quick post about my foray into Lightbox. I started messing with this while writing about Flickr the other day, and after a bit of tweaking, I got it working.

You could just follow the steps on this page, but installing the plugin for WordPress is probably easier. The first, however, will allow you to use Lightbox wherever and however you like, while the latter will only work inside WP.

I, of course, followed the steps to do it manually (mostly because I didn’t find the plugin until after I was done and had it working *sigh* ). Something I discovered that might be of interest to you is that, while the instructions technically allow Lightbox to work, it 1) doesn’t tell you everything you need to do and 2) doesn’t necessarily work right on blogs.

First, when you upload and extract the files, it is assumed that you’re putting those in the root of your web server. I had put them elsewhere, and subsequently it wasn’t working.

However, because they assume root (once you get them moved there), going to a specific blog entry will prevent Lightbox from working. Essentially, all the code in the JS and CSS files point to root or ../images for everything. Which is great, and works just fine on my main page (http://mstublefield.com), but when I go to a blog post (for instance, https://mstublefield.com/blog/2008/09/24/why-i-dont-use-flikr/), going to ../images actually points at https://mstublefield.com/blog/2008/09/24/images (the ../ being “go up one level”).

So, I went through the JS files and the CSS file and changed the links from dynamic to static. Therefore, instead of ../images/close.png, it became https://mstublefield.com/images/close.png. Instead of js/whatever, it became https://mstublefield.com/js/whatever. This allows Lightbox to work inside specific blog posts, as well as on the main page. The only files that need edited are the lightbox.js and the CSS file.

Secondly, the CSS file wasn’t quite working for me. The instructions say to put it somewhere and their files will point to it. Instead, I had to manually copy/paste the CSS and append it to my main stylesheet. This seemed to work a lot better for some reason. Maybe it’s that I didn’t have the CSS in the right place, but regardless, it was easier just to copy the code over.

Between adding ZenphotoPress and Lightbox, I’m pretty excited about adding more pictures to my blog 🙂

Why I don’t use Flickr

Note: I’ve closed the massive photo gallery once hosted at SilverPen of well over 3,000 images we had taken and uploaded. We’ll continue to maintain a smaller set of public photos on Flickr, but will reserve the local photo gallery for our backups and friends/family who want to see more images.

I know, I know. This whole article is about why I don’t use Flickr, yet I’m moving there. I’ll write a new one and link it from here about why I have changed my mind and habits.


As I was uploading pictures from our housewarming party to our photo gallery over the weekend, I thought I might take a gander at the other offerings in the photo-hosting business. Conventional wisdom tells us that we should speed up our sites as much as possible, and a good/easy way to do this is to host videos and pictures on someone else’s web server. After all Flickr, Google Photos, and Youtube are all free, so why not use them? That way, when people are looking at our pictures and videos, they’re using Yahoo’s or Google’s bandwidth, not ours.

And while it’s true that having the pictures hosted there makes your site load faster, it can make setup take a lot longer. Let’s take a look at my photo gallery.

I’m not really much of a photographer. April and I usually forget to take our camera anywhere we actually want to take pictures, I’m not artistic in the least, and when we do have our camera, we still have a tendency to forget to use it. That being said, take a look at the text just at the bottom of that picture.

7 albums, 40 subalbums, and 3,168 images. I hadn’t really used my camera until I met April, so that’s all within the last 3 years, and while Flickr et. al. have many good qualities, dealing with a large photo gallery is not one of them.

Since Flickr is free, there are a number of limitations on its use. One of these is the number of images you can upload at a time. Right now, when I have a few hundred photos to add to my photo gallery, I simply zip them up in a file, upload that single file to my web server (start the several hundred MB upload and walk away), then unzip them on the server. Bam, a new album has been added to my photo gallery.

On Flickr, however, you can only upload 5 images at a time with the free account. Google Photos starts you off with 1gb of storage space, and you can pay to get more, but my photo gallery is currently sitting at 6.7gb. I’m not sure on Flickr’s pricing, but either way, it’d be a lot more work to upload and orient my photos. Flickr also has a limit on how much you can upload in a day. Right now, I believe that limit is 20mb, and while I can resize my photos to make them smaller, just 85 photos = 14mb for me on average. If I don’t resize them, or have 2-600 (like I usually do in a batch upload), I simply wouldn’t be able to upload all of my images in a day. It’d take me a week to get everything uploaded.

What’s more, you lose control when you use those services. Right now, I have my photo gallery, and I can style and organize it any way I like. Since I’m not an artist or stylistically inclined, it’s not phenomenal, but it’s mine. Someday, I may try and make it better, but I like how it is now. (::Aside:: Except for only having 15 pictures per page, but I did add a slideshow feature (bottom left when you’re looking at an album), and only having 15 images per page speeds up load time quite a bit and cuts down on bandwidth usage, so it really is a good thing.)

I feel like I’ve been rambling, so let me conclude succinctly. I don’t use Flickr (or other hosted solutions) for my photo gallery because

  1. Too many limits on how many pictures you can add at once
  2. Too small storage size
  3. Have to pay for larger storage size (and I’m already paying for web hosting)
  4. Can’t style the photo gallery myself

Therefore, I use Zenphoto. It’s not as full featured as what I was using before (Coppermine), but it’s a lot easier to use and a lot more attractive. The administrative interface doesn’t have many options, but it’s simple and it does its job well. I recommend Zenphoto, and I enjoy using it.

What’s more, I discovered ZenphotoPress today, which should make it easier and faster to add images from my Zenphoto gallery to my blog articles. As someone who self-hosts WebPress, there’s no better way to manage your photos than to self-host a photo gallery as well, and WP and Zenphoto integrate pretty seamlessly.

As for videos… well, I don’t do any of that right now, but I suspect I would go ahead and use YouTube for that and embed the videos here. They take significantly more bandwidth and storage space, and I doubt I’ll ever be to a point where I would need more space than they offer. However, if I did go into video production and had a lot of them to share, I would most certainly self-host those as well.