Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Allison Update

Just spoke to Allison on the phone, she is helping out in the Houston Convention Center. She actually seems to be having a satisfying trip, helping people... some people are strange like that, I guess.

I found some pictures of the damage on-line... wow, she is going to be busy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Allison in TX

Since I can't remember who I told what and when, here is a quick update on what's going on in my life. Allison volunteered to go down South to help with Hurricane relief. We thought it might be right around Labor Day in Florida, but that wound up being no big deal. Instead she finds out on Friday September 12th that they need her on Sunday. We had a nice time at the annual Raytheon trip to Canobie Lake Park on Saturday, then Sunday I brought her to the airport to head down to Texas. Here is the email she sent out from there:

Hi Everyone,
I made it fine to TX though my luggage, with all my clothes, didn't. Delta took off my luggage in NY when they shouldn't and it got left in JFK. Good news is that it came in today. I haven't done much yet. I've been assigned a team of 5 others and we're waiting for assignment. I did go on an errand to Marshall, tx - 2 hrs away, to deliver some supplies for a shelter. So that was nice that a few of us were able to do something besides sit around.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring something. They plan on opening shelters in the disaster area and we'll have sporadic everything so I may not be able to keep you posted besides this. I'm staying in a staff shelter in Dallas today and it's not bad - group sleep area,etc. The most exciting thing is that they have phones we can use for calls and there are red "Incredibles" phones! :) Anyway I hope you are all doing well.
email me at allisonuccello (at)
Stay well!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McGuire Uccello and the Chipped Toilet

The timing really is quite perfect: he's going to be 11 this year, the same year as Harry Potter when he started at Hogwarts, and now he has his very own forehead scar in time for school! Luckily for me, the scar had nothing to do with evil wizards, a dying parents protection or flying motorcycles, but it is a good one.

The version of the story I heard was that McGuire was getting ready to go see an animal display at the library while visiting his grandparents in Maine, and before they left, he needed to brush his teeth. Being 10, and stubborn, he was watching a TV show while brushing. So when his grandfather turned off the TV and made him go into the bathroom, he didn't like that. Solution: sneak back to the TV as soon as Grandpa's back is turned. Of course, he knows he'll get yelled at when the volume notifies the adults of his addiction, so he runs into the bathroom to hide. The tile-floored bathroom. The slippery tiled bathroom. Can you guess what happened?

Note the chip on the tank. That was not there before the tooth-brushing.

McGuire is fine, despite a trip to the ER and a CT scan. He got 6 stitches and might wind up with a thin scar down the road. For now, it is just a red line on his forehead, healing nicely.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Birthday Parties

So, better late than never?
It was a weekend of birthday parties, both of which went quite well. Carrie was first, hosting us on Mom's birthday at her house. Us, in this case, was my family, Kurt, Carrie's family, Dad and Joanne, Mom and Don, John and Laura (it was also John's birthday)

My boys with both paternal grandparents at the same time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

World War 2 Memorial

Just wow.

Such a beautiful monument, and a great time to appreciate how intelligent McGuire is.  We spent a long time talking about the Second World War, things like Isolationism and making hard decisions like dropping nukes.  Pictures are found in my picasa Web Album.
WW2 Memorial

August Wedding in DC

8/8/08 marks the wedding of Allison's second oldest sister. 

Boys in Tuxes

At the Church

On the bus from Chapel to Reception

Ring bearers and Flower Girls

McGuire Dancing

Archer Sleeping

Monday, July 28, 2008

Taking Care of Business

All quiet on the home front, for me anyway. It's been a crazy mix of crunch time and vacation time at work, so for the last three weeks I have been doing the work of anywhere between two and four people, obviously none of it as well as two people would do it, so I've been working my butt off, putting in all kinds of overtime, and not spending more than the occasional weekend day with my family. I have been able to swing the extra time such that I still have two day weekends, which is great, it just isn't quite as nice as the two/three day weekend cycle I'm used to.

The next few weekends should be crazy, birthday party at Carrie's for her little ones, then one at my place the next day for Archer. I can't believe he's four already! He certainly makes the most of his inherited stubbornness, I think he just might be the most stubborn person on the planet, and he is willing to argue with you that he isn't until you both pass out from hunger.

I tried to get Dad to come to John and Jane's house this past Saturday for a party, I didn't know it was to celebrate Jaime's college graduation and landing a job with "The Magic Treehouse: The Musical"! Major congratulations for that one, she is on a first-name basis with the author of the Magic Tree House books, so I thought that was pretty cool. Dad decided that he didn't want me driving all over CT just to let him socialize, which is silly, I never would have offered if I wasn't willing to do it. Jim was making fun of him, but most people were just bummed that he didn't come up.
It was a really fun time, Archer and McGuire were busy playing with Tucker, John and Jane's half-lab dog, and Keira, Josh's lab/beagle mix. I got to spend some time with James, who is a gamer like me and Josh (complete with the M-rated violent games!) and talk to Jaime for a bit too. It was a really nice time, me and the boys stayed until like 9:30, so Archer was a total mess when we left - just a bit overtired. I also got to show off my Rock Band skillz, which was awesome. I've turned some kind of a corner on the drums, and now I can play most of the songs on Medium without too much trouble, just the occasional shin cramp.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One tough old guy

As requested, an update on my Dad.

I saw him the day of the accident, and the Wednesday he got home from the hospital (6 days later), then I saw him again the following Sunday. Quite the difference between the visits. When he got home, he could walk, if barely. His feet were really swollen, and his knee was very inflated as well. His hands were casted up pretty well by that point, the right hand already in a cast that should last a while, the left hand in a more temporary one, to facilitate removal of stitches when the time comes. He again winds up being fairly lucky, in that he has some mobility in his fingers, even though the breaks are limiting his strength with them for now. For example, he can cradle a cup of coffee, and manipulate the straw into his mouth, but he can't pick up the cup on his own. I felt bad when we saw him on Wednesday: Archer carelessly crashed into his leg; the look of pain on his face injured me. I stayed for a few hours, enough to make sure he was doing alright, and see that he could make it up the stairs, which was hard, but he managed it.

Sunday I brought the whole family down to see him. McGuire had been worried about his grandpa, and I think he was a bit jealous that Archer got to go down there with me and he didn't. Allison got her weekend plans ruined due to my recent inability to schedule anything, but she was a good sport and a good daughter-in-law and came down too. We visited for a pretty short time, mostly just to take my Dad off Joanne's hands for a while and have lunch with him. His mobility was dramatically improved in just a few days. He could walk a lot easier, and it seemed like he had a much better feel for how to deal with having a few weakened fingers instead of two hands. We took him out to the 99, and he was able to feed himself really well. He needed his food cut for him, but I had to have that done for me with only one broken arm. To me, as nice as it was to have a really nice visit, the actual best part was that after Archer had one minor freakout over the seating situation, his behavior was as good as possible, for days! He had been a huge pain all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, but after getting calmed down, he was a little angel until Tuesday night. It was pretty nice while it lasted.

One thing that has always impressed me about my father is that he is so into toys. His motorcycles, his police scanners, his PDAs, his laptops, his satellite radio; he just really likes the new, shiny technology. While so many people from his generation seemed wholly terrified of the battery-operated devils, he is always picking them up, learning how to use them and seeing if they "stick". With his hands so beat up, using the computer will be really hard for him, as would reading or most things needing manual dexterity. So what does he do to combat the boredom? Picks up the new DS package that comes with Guitar Hero On Tour bundled! While he was at the store, he got Mario Kart DS and Brain Age, too. I recommended a few turn-based games that might work better with the casts, but I think Guitar Hero might be the perfect thing for his situation: it has a strap to connect the DS to your hand, and the frets will be great exercise for his fingers, keeping them strong while he heals. I have no idea if he can play Mario Kart with the casts, the game is pretty thumb-intensive on both hands. Either way, I just think it is the coolest thing to have a 60 year old Dad who buys himself a DS! I can't wait to exchange Friend Codes with him and kick his butt at a Mario Kart race.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Near death

What an interesting weekend this Father's Day was... I refer mainly to the Thursday, June 12th when my Dad got into what should have been a fatal motorcycle accident; but there was also the visit to the East Coast by my sister and her family from Colorado. To think that I went into June thinking that seeing my nephews and nieces would be the big excitement...

I guess I should start with Thursday's fun, while it is still mostly fresh in my mind. I was sitting at my desk at work, around 4pm, when I got a double ring on my phone. This indicates an external call, usually Allison; but on this day, it was Joanne. When the first thing someone says is "He's alright, but," you usually know that something bad is coming. She goes on to tell me that my Dad has been in a motorcycle accident, and broken both of his arms. I think I got a few details then, enough to convince me that I didn't need to leave work early, but also enough to convince me that I needed to get to the hospital to see him that night. I think I have a habit of expecting the worst, and it has served me well, once you get past the extra stress I put on myself until I get the truth. This was really no different, I stopped at home after work to get some food and see my kids, who I knew were worried about their Grandpa Bob. They took a lot longer than I wanted to wait, but they really wanted to make cards for my Dad, so I had to wait. Eventually, I headed down the to hospital, roughly an hour away in New London.

I get to the hospital (after driving past the exit, no kidding, 3 times) around 9pm, I think. I get a good spot, and see Joanne walking outside. She takes me to his room, and I'm wholly relieved to see that my Dad only looks tired and in pain, not destroyed. He told me that he broke one of his right hand bones, and his left forearm. They had also done X-Rays on his neck and a CAT scan on his chest. When I got there, he was just about to have his right hand splinted up, which caused him a fairly high amount of pain, and he went into some shock, sweating and getting close to passing out. Joanne and Anita were freaked out, but I think I was able to keep them calm while getting a cool washcloth for my Dad's forehead. The ER doc suggested that my Dad try to walk around a bit, so the nurse came in to help him get ready to try. Keep in mind, his left arm (the worse break) was neither splinted nor in a sling. I tried to tell him that he should just tell them he couldn't do it, but he felt like he had to try, probably because the nurse was pretty cute. Thankfully, he realized that he would not be able to stand up before he tried to support his weight. The imbicile ER doc came back to say that the neck X-ray looked good, so my Dad could go home that night. Riiiight, he can't stand, has two broken arms, and is doped up on morphine, but he can go home tonight. I had made my mind up to stop that from happening, but the orthopedic specialist determined that his left arm would need surgery.

We tried to keep Dad fed and watered before midnight, since it sounded like he would be going into the OR in the morning, and he needed to fast after midnight. I left around 12:30am, since he was supposed to get a room on the surgical floor shortly, but I guess that didn't work either. His morning surgery wound up happening at 8:30pm, and the 1-1.5 hour operation lasted until 2:30am. I felt awful about the whole surgical angle, since I had forgotten to metion to Carrie that Dad was having a metal plate put into his left arm, and when she found out in the morning, there was nothing for me to tell her, since I was waiting for information, too; information that was not there.

My Dad told me about the accident: he was driving down 184, when a woman in the other direction decided to make a left turn across his lane, not giving him enough time to stop. He hit the brakes, and the bike began to skid; he knew that he was not going to stop in time. He had the smarts to recognize his predicament and just before impact he stood up on the bike to get the height needed to clear the car. The bike hit the passenger side of the car with enough force to bend the frame of a 900 lb Harley and total both the car and the bike, throwing my Dad over the roof of the car. He had the sense to be wearing his helmet, so landing on his head didn't kill him. He had the instincts to stand up, letting him slow down more gradually in the air and on the road instead of against the side of the car. He had the reflexes to get his hand in front of his face, which broke his hand, but kept his face intact. He had the luck to not detach his retina, going blind; he had the luck to fall in such a way that his neck wasn't broken.

I think I have only been this scared for a loved one twice before, since Archer is such a fearless kid, but even with the potential head trauma in my little boy proving harmless, I don't think I've been this relieved over a terrible situation before. I'm not ready to lose my parents. Thanks for not dying Dad. I love you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

April in Washington

I have created a flickr account to store photos, I'll attempt to link them here to get a more solid "blog" thing going on.

We were a little worried about the trip down to DC, since I finally got the orthopedic surgeon to take a look at my knee. I didn't know how bad it would be, but I figured my knee was bothering me anyway, and the operation should be pretty trivial, able to walk out of there. It did wind up OK, but man was my knee tired at the end of every day! I got the pictures of the inside of my knee, in case anyone is interested.

We took a train ride out from Boston, got a neighbor to drive us into the city bright and early. We got a brief surprise visit by Allison's sister Michelle in Boston, one of the resaurants she manages is just a block away from the train station, so she saw us onto the train... and didn't get off in time! She wound up riding with us towards Providence, where she was able to get a ride back into Boston. It was pretty funny. The train ride went well, took longer than flying, but so much easier, and less stressful than driving. Archer got a nice long nap in on the way down, fell asleep watching McGuire play on the DS.

We were met in DC by Mary Ellen, Allison's long-time DC resident sister. She had just announced to us that she was engaged, everyone else had met him, except for me. We went to his place for a picnic later on. First thing we needed to do was meet up with Carrie and her family, who were vacationing in DC for Sean's birthday. It was raining, and they were not having the best vacation time, but it was nice to see them anyway, they are such a photogenic family.

It's getting late, so for now I'm just dumping a bunch of pictures and I'll maybe toss in a bit here or there to describe them.

I can't get enough of Abraham Lincoln's writing. There is something so simple and so eloquent about it. McGuire probably thought I was weird because I felt like I just had to read the Gettysburg Address and this out loud when we were at the Lincoln Memorial.

This statue is in the Capitol building, I can just imagine Senator Clinton pausing in front of it for inspiration when times get rough. The uncarved block in the back is saved for the first woman President. I hope it is not still uncarved when I die.

McGuire and his aunt and soon-to-be uncle at his house in DC. He's a software guy, with a big strong dog and both of them like my kids. Three good marks for him in my book.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Catching up

It's been since March that I put anything of value on the blog, so I really want to try to fill in the gaps.

In late March, we went to Mom's for Easter. We were 4 of the maybe 60 people there, but it went well. The kid situation at these gatherings is crazy! There were so many little boys and girls running around, it was really great to see McGuire be able to play with kids. Fortunately he is much more adept at socialization than I ever was.

We went to Washington DC April 18th! It was a long, but nice, train ride. More details and pictures will follow here.

McGuire's Karate school closed with only one class after we got back from vacation. To say that he is devastated would be a huge understatement. For now we are looking at the same franchise in a different town, but it is a half hour away, when the old school was 5 minutes. We are also looking at a different place, another one in town. That is still all up in the air.

Also on the McGuire front, he had his Spring Concert. Dad came up to see it, and McGuire had a solo that turned into a duet. He had been practicing "Aura Lee" ("Love Me Tender") but one other kid was also doing it, so they got their two solos turned into a duet. I have uploaded the video to YouTube.

Look at me, less than 2 months apart!

So much for the idea that I would actually post frequently, or even regularly. I had this grand scheme, on Sundays, when Allison is at church, Archer and I could think of things to post for family to read. That plan almost made it one time. I'm so pathetic. Basically, Allison got paranoid about the amount of information some people put on the web. Beyond just the provocative MySpace pictures of teenage (and preteen!) girls, things like where people live and their routine could make it easy for a sick (evil) person to track a person down from their web profile and hurt them. With respect to her, especially given her good intentions, I had refrained from putting anything up. I have come to the point, now, where I feel like having this token communication with people I care about is well worth the risk of the Internet Sickos, who I am not sure actually exist (at least not trolling

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Image dump

Here goes, my first attempt at getting some pictures on the blog.

This picutre is from Christmas Eve, if the date on the bottom left didn't give it away. Pretty much our annual "Family on the couch" picture. This is at Carrie's house.

Here's a bunch of good "guess which kid it is" pictures
No fair using the different resolution to guess the age of the photos, either. I can tell who is who, but some of these you could just swap one kid for the other. Almost seven years apart and they look practically like twins, they even act like polar opposites of each other a huge percent of the time.

My Mom made me do it.

Seriously. After seeing how nice it is to have Kim updating a web page with all sorts of info on her family, and Carrie following suit, my Mom said I should do one, too. Considering I'm the most 'techy' person I know, and most of my time is spent interfacing, in one way or another, with computers, it really does make good sense. I started a blog about my gaming habits around the beginning of the year, but I'm just not that good at keeping that up to date. I'm going to try to be better about this one, since the purpose is to let my family (extended) know what is going on in the lives of myself, Allison and my boys. I will try to get pictures up at least once a week, and hopefully some kind of "what's going on" at least weekly, too. We'll have to see how it goes I guess.