Iris Luella Kelley!

Iris was born today at 5:53 PM. She was 8 pounds, 10 ounces in weight, 22 inches long, and no, she is not giving you the finger. Look carefully and you’ll see it’s the wrong finger.

Iris was born by C-section because she was breech. Speaking as a breech baby myself (who was born the old fashioned way back before C-sections were invented) a C-section is definitely the way to go for a baby who is pointed north. Vaginal birth is humiliating when you’re breech. It’s not just the bad first impression you make by backing into the world and introducing your butt to everyone before they’ve even seen your face. It’s also the whole idea that you’ve basically screwed up your first task ever. Everything is provided for you in there, all you have to do is face down. It’s just not a good start, and a C-section is a graceful way to get around all of it and get a clean start.

Anyway, word is that Megan and Iris are well. I can only guess that while Megan is the one who had the tougher day, Iris is doing most of the complaining. And this is just the beginning.

Congratulations to mother, father, aunts, and grandparents of various rank (Clara was just promoted to ‘Great-Grandma’!).

Amy Lures Firemen To Her Bedroom

The good news is that Amy appears to be fine. The bad news is we’re not convinced the emergency room doctors really knew what the problem was. The good news is Amy is getting better rapdily. The bad news is there wasn’t much room to go anywhere but up. The good news is that Amy now has quite a story to tell. The bad news is that Amy now has quite a story to tell.

Anyone who has experienced an Amy story knows that they tend to go on a bit, and well into the story, well after your head has started to spin from all the seemingly unrelated details and side-stories she includes, she casually drops in a detail that would have been the starting point (or the only point) of most people’s stories. So she might say “My coworkers and I like to watch movies at lunch” blah blah blah “I brought in The Shawshank Redemption because” blah blah blah “I made some popcorn but I forgot about it being in the microwave because the movie was at that part where” blah blah blah “and then the smoke alarms went off” blah blah blah “and they evacuated the building.”

The story from today will begin with Amy telling all about a recent bout of the (apparent) flu, and after a while get to the part where she wakes up in the middle of the night hardly able to move from weakness and soreness. If you don’t know the story of me having Guillain-Barre Syndromein 1995 then you’re likely to hear that whole story before returning to the present day to the part about the fully outfited firemen in Amy’s bedroom and a ride in the back of what little Amy used to call a “hospital truck”.

At the moment it appears the ending of this story is anticlimactic. Let’s hope it stays that way. Right now it appears that Amy “just” had a virus, and as of late this evening she was up, eating, and even sent Mom home.

In case you haven’t experienced an Amy story, and in case you haven’t seen this video already, here is a video from this Christmas giving a mild simulation of the Amy story experience:

A Fairey Tale

I display this image not for political reasons. This isn’t that kind of blog.

There is something significant about this now famous poster, though. It was created (independently) by an artist named Shepard Fairey of South Carolina. While his last name must have made middle school a little rough (especially for an aspiring artist), he nailed the first name. He even spelled it right.

The poster – which elicits either retro-coolness or totalitarian leader-worship, depending on your perspective – was eventually adopted by the Obama campaign with the word “Progress” replaced by “Change.”

So I post this poster not to rub it in for those who aren’t celebrating today, but just to make the case that we weren’t entirely off-target when we chose the name “Shepard.” The Obama-voting artistic Fairies of South Carolina apparently liked the name, too.

The timing is just a coincidence.

An Anxious Moment

Grace: Dad, will you open the washing machine?
Dad: [suspiciously] Why Grace?
Grace: Because it’s stuck.
Dad: [more suspiciously] Why do you need it open?
Grace: To wash some clothes.
Dad: [sternly] What happened to the clothes, Grace?
Grace: They got dirty.
Dad: [more sternly] Grace, how did the clothes get dirty?
Grace: [pause] Barbie got them dirty.
Dad: [exasperated] Oh, so Barbie did it. Grace, what is on the clothes?
Grace: I don’t know.
Dad: [sigh] [pause] [On the way to the laundry room] Okay, I’m coming.
Grace: [from the living room] No, not that one, Daddy. The one in Barbie’s Dream House.
Dad: [relieved] Oh! Yeah, I’ll open that one right now!

The Best of Times; The Worst of Times

‘Tis the season for articles with titles like “The Best Reality Show Moments of 2008,” “The Worst Snack Foods of 2008,” and “Why 2009 Will Be ‘The Year of the Sweet Potato’.” So I’m going to pile on with two lists of my own:

1. Why 2008 Was Great:
  • The Orwig twins are born
    Goes without saying. One of the best and most significant days in my life.
  • Harrison milestones
    Too many to mention. The guy started second grade, and has been growing up in countless ways. He seems to be making the transition from “little boy” to “young man” already. With the addition of the twins to the family, Harrison has sometimes moved into a more grown-up caretaker role even though we haven’t asked him to.
  • Grace Milestones
    Again, too many to mention. She started preschool. She changed instantly from “baby of the family” to “big sister” and “middle child.” She has made the transition from toddler to little girl.
  • My political candidate wins for a change
    Don’t worry, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this. But it was very important to me because I felt it was very important for all of us. To me, November’s election seems to improve the odds we will pull through the next decade.
  • Ford releases some kick-butt new cars, giving hope
    I had been worried, but it seemed I was starting to see some Ford cars in daily use that really could be a part of the Way Forward we’ve been counting on for the past three years. It wasn’t just the Fusion any more. Now there were multiple Ford vehicles out there that people genuinely liked.
2. Why 2008 Sucked Big-Time:
  • Grandma Shepard dies
    The fact that this event was not unexpected makes it no less traumatic and significant for all of us. Now that the body of Wealthie was gone I’m really starting to miss the Grandma who was in my life for so long.

  • Luke dies
    I still have trouble believing I’m even typing this one. It still doesn’t make sense, and it still affects our family on a daily basis. Luke, and the loss of Luke, comes up when I’m talking to Harrison, Grace still asks questions about him, and I think of him and his family literally daily. Harrison has made new close friends but he will be forever affected by losing Luke. As stunned and sad as we were when it happened just before school started, I never would have guessed how affected we would still be now. 
  • Claire gets sick
    This story has mainly turned out to have a happy ending, but it was horrific while it was happening and it cast a dark cloud over an exciting time in the life of someone who didn’t deserve it.

  • The economy siezes
    That “Way Forward” plan mentioned above, already behind schedule, was dependant on people not only wanting but also being able to buy these new Ford cars they were starting to like. The events of the fall seemed quickly to nullify any hope of a way forward not only for Ford and the (now) “Detroit Three”, but this entire region of the country. 
  • The US Senate left us to die
    I know I shouldn’t take this personally. It was just politics, after all. But when the bailout failed, it killed any remaining faith I had that when necessary, politicians would rise to the occasion and become leaders. They didn’t. It doesn’t bother me as much when citizens who don’t have all the facts make callus statements about “letting the free market take its course” or “controlled bankruptcy.” But those senators knew the likely consequences and they cold heartedly decided to risk the ruin of a region of our country and even a potential depression in the hope the UAW would die in the process. As one of the people scheduled for ruin, I do take it personally.
So there’s my list. I’ll start work right away on my next post: “Why 2009 Will Be the Year of Early Potty Training.”

Twin Milestones

These startlingly cute “jackets” from Grandma Burke are creating quite a reaction whereever I take the twins. It’s the ears that make the outfits. Kennedy and Shepard love the warmth, but of course they can’t see the ears. Someday they’re going to get old enough to check this blog and I’m going to be in trouble.
A couple of milestones over this past week or so:
  1. Kennedy has popped out the beginnings of a lower tooth. It’s just the start, but Kennedy and a babysitter both noticed it before Sarahjane and I did. 
  2. Both babies can now get up on all fours. Neither of them are moving very fast yet, and when they do move they are limited to reverse. But it tells me my days of parking them in one room and expecting them to stay are almost over. By now, the cats should know that their days of relative quiet are over, too.

Flex Manual Addendum

As you may have deduced from previous posts, I am a big fan of the Ford Flex. It drives like car but hauls people like a van, and it gets great mileage for its size. I’ll bet its cost-per-Orwig-hauled ratio could beat just about anything out there. It looks cool, too. The next time someone starts taking unfair shots at the ability of the “Detroit Three” to innovate, they ought to be challenged to test drive a Flex (or an Edge or a Fusion, for that matter).

Lately my Flex and I have been under some pressure. Due to child care issues and Sarah’s schedule, I’ve been hurrying to and from work without my usual ability to stop for gas. Then yesterday I was actually allowed to go out without any kids along, but it must have thrown me because I completely ignored the fact that the Flex was running out of gas.

As I pulled into the driveway last night I saw the “Distance to Empty” indicator change from 1 to zero. I’ve seen that before, though, and those things always underestimate gas. Besides, I could solve the problem using the large container of gas I keep for the lawn tractor. I had been meaning to use that gas anyway, rather than letting it age all winter.

As you might have guessed (because you are reading it here), things didn’t work out as I planned. Rather than complain I decided to do something more constructive: Draft a potential addendum for the Flex manual specifically designed for people like me.

Your Ford Flex requires fuel to run. While we design the vehicle to be as efficient and convenient as possible, current technology does not enable the Ford Flex to make allowances for the fact that you haven’t had time to stop for gas because you’ve been hurrying home to relieve babysitters. It is also unable to take into account that when you drove to the grocery store over the weekend (driving past several gas stations) you were engrossed in a particularly good interview on NPR’s Fresh Air and didn’t notice the Distance-To-Empty gauge helplessly trying to get your attention.

Therefore, this addendum is here to offer the following information and advice:

  1. This vehicle is equipped with the new No Bull Distance-To-Empty gauge. That means when it reports “0 miles to empty,” you are actually out of gas.
  2. This vehicle is equipped with a new Dorkfree Capless Gas Hole. We learned years ago that people like you tended to unscrew the gas cap and leave it on the roof of the car when you drive away. So we tried tethering the gas gap to the gas hole, but found that you would still forget to screw it into your gas hole and would drive around with it hanging on the side of the car. Yes you did. We saw you do that at least once. So this latest attempt to save you from yourself removes the gas cap entirely. Instead a special valve is placed over the gas hole itself. This valve will only open when the proper sized nozzle is inserted into the gas hole, and it seals tightly when you remove the nozzle.
  3. A plastic lawn-mower gas can does not have the right size nozzle. So when you attempt to put extra gas into your car from a gas can in your driveway on a dark winter night, you will discover in the morning that the gas simply ran down the side of the car and melted all the snow in that area of the driveway.
  4. As mentioned above, the gas hole valve seals tightly. This means that in the morning, when you attempt once again to pour gas into the car using the wrong nozzle, ALL of the gas will run uselessly down the side of the car. Your personal assurances to yourself that “some of it must have gone in” are incorrect.
  5. Your best course of action at this time is to remain in the driveway and read the instruction manual. You, of course, won’t. You’ll figure you can make it a few miles to the gas station.
  6. When you ignore the Distance To Empty warning and neglect to read these instructions, there will be no further warning when the last drops of gas are finally burned. The dash will not begin showing “-1 miles to empty” or “You’re bummin’, Dude”. When your Ford Flex starts to stagger and stop moving forward, that is your indication that you are, in fact, bummin’.
  7. At the first indication that you have starved the engine of gas, you should use your last remaining lurches of motion to pull safely to the side of the road. Do NOT attempt a U-turn back toward home (particularly not in an intersection of your subdivision) as you will stall in the middle of the turn, blocking traffic much more effectively than if you had simply pulled over.
  8. When you ignore that advice, turn on your hazard lights so your neighbors know you are a dork stuck in the middle of the intersection with car trouble, rather than an even bigger dork who decided to park in the middle of the intersection for some reason. The hazard light switch is located in the center top of the dashboard. It’s there, look again. No, higher. There you go.
  9. By now you will likely have figured out that no gas actually is getting in the tank when you try from the gas can. Attempts to hold the gas hole valve open with foreign objects like straws and pencils will fail.
  10. While you are trying to force open the valve with foreign objects, you will eventually notice there are little pictures drawn on the gas hole door. We didn’t have much space to work with, but tried to communicate via pictures that you should not attempt to force open the valve with foreign objects. You should use a special funnel instead. We also tried to get across that you should read the manual for more instructions.
  11. As you are looking for the manual, please refrain from profane complaints about the inconvenience of having to bring along a funnel. First of all, the need for the funnel is explained in this manual, so you can hardly blame us. Second, we have anticipated your lack of preparation and have provided a funnel for you. It is conveniently located alongside the spare tire, which is in the far back of your Flex under the twin stroller, preschool papers, and empty pop bottles.
  12. You should really return those pop bottles.
  13. On your way to the gas station, you will panic as you can’t remember putting the twin stroller back in the car. You can stop picturing it sitting in the middle of the intersection. You didn’t screw that one thing up today and the twin stroller is safely in the back of your car.


I subscribe to an email weather notification service. I know, that’s very 2005 of me. I should really be following the weather through a Twitter stream or an iPhone app, or at least an RSS feed. Actually, I’m doing all of those things, but I haven’t yet unsubscribed from the email list.

I think I’m about to, though, and it’s not just because of the embarrasingly antiquated nature of an email list. It’s because the email list just doesn’t get me and my . . . eh . . . sensitivities.

You see, I hate snow. There may have been a time that I enjoyed it, but I don’t remember those times and I don’t intend to try. I’m a Michigan resident who wishes he lived in Santa Monica, California. At least several times a day I picture what it must be like on the 3rd Street Promenade or on the Santa Monica Pier. I say what it “must” be like because it truly must be that way. Sure, the temperature can vary by 20 degrees over the year in the rest of the LA area, but with the Pacific so close, Santa Monica doesn’t typically have such wild fluctuations. It’s guaranteed sunny in the high 70s 99.999% of the time. It rained once while we were there and people were in shock. The temperature got down in the 60s and people were — I kid you not — wearing scarves. Sure, there are homeless people in Santa Monica (in fact, that’s my current backup plan if things get much worse), and there are crazy people there, and even occasional violence. But generally it’s close to perfect, and my favorite part is the climate.

I’ve heard arguments that I would miss real weather, particularly snow, but I don’t believe it. And if I did miss it I figure I could visit it. Or have some snow shipped to my seaside home (or park bench).

So I spend the months from about May through September pretending I live in a warm climate. Then it’s sometime around this time of year that my illusion is shattered. If reality floods in too suddenly there’s no telling how I might react. Which is my problem with the email I recently received. I don’t even remember the subject line, but when I opened it I found something like this:


That’s the kind of loud (ALL CAPS!) sudden announcement that could lead me to a total flip-out. I need a weather service that understands me. Such a service might send me a message (or Twitter or SMS or RSS) something more like this:

Hey, Scott. How are you?

We’ve got some news for you. Are you comfortable? Warm enough? Good. Well, you know how we’ve had some frost in the morning? Remember the other day when you woke up and thought the frost was snow? Yeah, well hopefully that kind of eased you into our news. The fact is, we’re likely to get some snow tonight. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is — and this really isn’t as big a deal as it might sound — the second thing is that a tiny little bit of that snow may be left over in the morning. If it is — and really, it probably won’t be — but if it is, it will melt just as soon as the sun comes out. So you can think of it as a little introduction to winter.

If it happens. Which it probably won’t.

If it does happen, think how happy the kids will be! And it will cover up the lawn and look really nice. C’mon, you have to admit that snow can be very pretty at times, right? Am I right?>

Sorry. Anyway, just in case — really just as a precaution — you might want to take a moment to make sure the snow scraper is in the car. If you don’t need it tomorrow then you still will later in the season when it really does . . . er . . . so might as well get that out there tonight, right?

Have a nice, warm evening, Scott. And don’t worry about the you-know-what. It probably won’t happen.

If there isn’t already a service like that I need to start one. Maybe I could charge for it and be able to afford a park bench with a nice view of the Pier.