Saturday, January 31, 2009

Busy Weekend

This is a busy weekend! Last night was the Governor's Dinner and Ball, today was a 4th birthday party for one of Ethan's school mates, and tomorrow is Ethan's 4th birthday party at Chuck E' Cheese. Both Heather and I commented "it would be nice sometime just to sit down and watch an old movie." Many of my friends and family shake their heads at how busy we always are, but I don't really know any different way. We like being busy. would be nice to sit down and watch an old movie with Heather!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birthdays, TV ads, and "That's it?"

Ethan turns 4 years old today, and his understanding and expectations for his birthday have matured along with his discerning television viewing habit. This morning, he was allowed to open one small present (which, admittedly, was something left over from a "going out of business" sale at a now defunct toy store). To suggest he was underwhelmed by the dual guns that shoot foam discs is an understatment ("That's it?") but also a testament to the effectiveness of television marketing during his favorite shows. He wants the Lego Miner (pictured). He also wants a remote control dinosaur because a classmate brought his $300 Christmas dinosaur to school this week for "D" week. Ethan's $3.99 dinosaur (hey it does roar) that I got at an airport gift shop didn't really compare. So, he will get a little bigger and a bit more expensive present later today. In addition, he will get his birthday party next Sunday at Chuck E Cheese. But, I guess "that's it."

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Ethan's buddy from school Henry has become quite a friend. They love being with each other and share a fascination with Transformers. Henry turned 4 in October and Ethan turns four this week. I have distinct memories of a couple of my friends who I had at that age, and we still keep in touch all of these years later. Of course, we grew up in a smaller town with two junior highs and one high school. Life seems more transitory these days, and as I watch Ethan play with Henry or our neighbor Elizabeth, I wonder if their friendships will transcend the years.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bananas, Santa, and Elves

The other night when Heather was getting Ethan ready for bed, he wanted his nightly bedtime snack, so she brought him a banana. Jokingly Heather used the banana as a telephone and said the call was for Ethan. Here's the ensuing conversation:

  1. Heather: "Ethan! It's for you!"

  2. Ethan: "Who is it, Mom?"

  3. Heather: "It's Santa Clause."

  4. Ethan puts the banana to his face like a phone and nonchalantly says: "Hey Santa."

  5. Ethan pretends to listen and says "What! You wanna drop your elves off here? Well...I guess that would be OK."

  6. After handing Heather the banana/phone, he grabbed it back and exclaimed "Oh, wait. I have school tomorrow!"

  7. He pretends to listen, and says, "Oh. OK. Just drop them off at the house."

There's are fine lines between imagination and cute -- and weird!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Working from home

I took today off from work, but I wonder if those of us connected to -- dependent on! -- technology ever really take a day off? I use a Motorola Q and have a built-in WiFi card on my laptop. So, although I officially took a day off, I am still connected, responding to e-mails, working on projects, etc.

There are sometimes days in the office when I don't physically see fellow employees because we comminicate virtually either through e-mail or an internal communication system called "HUD Fonality." So, is it any different to be connected from 2 miles away? From 2,000?

I have really tried -- on a few rare occasions -- to simply check out. I had a wake-up call once when Ethan wanted me to be outside with him while he rode his bike. At one point, he peddled up to me and said "Daddy! I want you to watch me -- not that thing!" I had been "doing e-mails" the whole time thinking my mere presence was sufficient. It wasn't. And it isn't. I need to work on ways to disengage from work and technology so I can engage in being "with" my family rather than just being around them. There is a difference. And I struggle with it.

He went from crawling to a trike to a bike in the blink of an eye. Maybe he did it while I was checking e-mail.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And so it begins....

As I noted in a previous post, the Idaho Legislature convened yesterday and heard Governor Butch Otter give a bleak State of the State address that outlined painful budget realities. There will be targeted and significant cuts to the state budget which will be as difficult politically as they will financially. At the same time, the Governor outlined an aggressive and thoughtful approach to raising certain taxes and fees to address Idaho's crumbling roads. You could have predicted the rhetoric that is spewing forth from legislators searching for any reason to oppose the Governor. And so it begins....

On another note, at a legislative dinner last night for new Senators hosted by a small group of lobbying friends, as introductions were made around the table, many of the lobbyists good-naturedly insulted me given my age which, though relatively young in the scheme of life (though I am 4 months older than the President-Elect), having lobbied since the mid-80's and being in my 40's, many of these guys were in grade school or high school when I started. And they let me know it. For the record, I do NOT have false teeth....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Idaho Legislature Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, Idaho's legislature convenes for the annual session, and it promises to be a painful session. I presented on Wednesday to the Economic Revenue and Assessment Joint Committee (or whatever it's named this year!) and commented I started my career working with the legislature before this same committee in the 1984 session! I've been working with the Idaho Legislature longer than most, and there are less than a handful of legislators and other elected officials who pre-date my run at the Idaho political game. Having weathered the legislative process for so long, I've been an active participant and a bemused observer in many of the larger battles in Idaho's recent political history. I have also witnessed the ups and downs of the budget, and we enter this session with an economy that can only be described as frightening. Given the global nature of the economic debacle, there isn't a lot the Legislature can do -- or is likely willing to do -- but weather the storm. There are necessary public policy priorities like investing in our crumbling roads and bridges, but even that obvious need will take a backseat to the economic reality coupled with the inevitable and inherent political jockeying that often pits legislators against each other for the sport of it rather than for what's best for the state. It should be quite a show, but I say that every year.

Cabin Fever

With the holidays over, the snow melted into a few remaining dirty piles, and the walls seemingly closing in, I think we have cabin fever at our place. Couple that with a 4-year old (in two weeks) with a growing mind of his own and an independent streak...well, we need to get out more! Ethan and I rode bikes around the neighborhood today though it was cold, and he and his mom have gone on a shopping trip (despite his protests) to buy him some socks and shoes that fit. But on this gray, drab Sunday, I think all of the Dunhams are looking forward to Spring...and it's still two months away!

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's in his blood

Being a carpenter runs deep in Ethan's pedigree. From great grandpas to uncles on his dad's side, being a carpenter (or an artist specializing in wood I think in awe when I see what his uncles can do!), is in Ethan's blood. He is so excited to "get to work" on projects. Over the Christmas holidays, he had a lot of fun working on projects wearing the prized construction outfit he received from Uncle Dirk and Aunt Cheryl. He helped Dad with some projects in the house, and he spent a LOT of time developing and drawing a complicated plan for what turned out to be a treehouse. He showed it to Uncle Steve on Sunday, and it's now posted on Uncle Steve's fridge awaiting warmer weather when Ethan will bring his tools to Uncle Steve's so they can "get to work on that treehouse."

A defining moment

Over the weekend, Ethan -- who turns 4 in a couple of weeks -- got his first real "big boy" bed from a cousin who has decided he's too old for it. It's about 4 feet off the ground with a ladder for access and a slide for a quick exit. Underneath is a fort. Ethan and I put it together on Saturday night, and on Sunday he and I headed to the store to outfit the new bed. Heather wasn't involved in either activityv"because forts are for boys." He chose a "Transformers" theme with a "Spiderman" extra pillowcase "just in case, Daddy." In addition, he decided he needed posters for his wall, and we purchased Monster Trucks, Marvel Comics with the "Fantastic Four" (a new favorite), the movie "Cars," and a "Spiderman" to round it out. He was disappointed they were out of "Transformers" posters, but confidently told me "we can just check another store, Daddy." When we got home, I couldn't help but notice the now discarded Little Tykes blue race car bed sitting in the hall awating a sale on Craigs List. But what really hit me was when we took down the Disney pictures from the wall. Gone are Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. Ethan insisted on placing his new posters where he wanted. He's also now insisting on picking out his own clothes. Wow....