Telling Stories

Tonight when we were coming home from Grandma Gibby’s house, we were playing games made up by a 5-year-old. (Audrey said, “Let’s play a game called, ‘Let’s see if you can sing a song that you know’. How you play is, you sing a song that you know.”)

When we got to the game called “Tell a story” (“How do you play it?” Sarah wondered aloud, and we laughed), Audrey told one about a queen and king who had a 5-year-old named Audrey and a baby named Claire and a 2-year-old named Nathan.  They lived in a royal palace and had lots of servants. One day they took a walk and found some more servants who didn’t have anywhere to live, so they hired them.  The end.

Sarah told an engaging story about a little dragon who wanted to breathe fire like his big brother, but no matter how hard he huffed and puffed, he just got a little bit of smoke.  Audrey was INTO this story, so much so that she started coming up with solutions for the little dragon’s problem.  Sarah whispered to me, “Who’s telling this story?”

When it was my turn, I came up with a highly inventive tale that went something like this: “Once there was a little boy named Randy who loved to play with his cowboy doll named Sheriff Moody.  [Moody rhymes with “goody” and “hoodie” in this story.]  Randy had a lot of toys that he liked to play with, but Sheriff Moody was his favorite.”

“Then Randy had a birthday, and all the toys were afraid that he would get a toy that was cooler than they were and he wouldn’t play with them anymore.  Randy’s mom gave him a spaceman toy called… Muzz Gightlear.  Randy thought Muzz Gightlear was really cool.”

At this point, Nathan interjected, “An’ it was Buzz!”  We asked Audrey if she knew that I was really talking about Andy and Woody and Buzz Lightyear and she said no, but Nathan recognized my thinly veiled cribbing of the plot of Disney-Pixar’s beloved 1995 hit, Toy Story.  Pretty good for a kid who’s not yet three.

Posted by Curtis Gibby on September 26th, 2010

Filed under Family, Random Stories | No Comments »

And then there were five… (The story of Claire’s birth)

The set-up

When Sarah was about 20 weeks along with this baby, she began to lobby for us to not find out what the gender was until the baby was actually born.  After all, she figured, we could be surprised by learning if it was a boy or a girl at 20 weeks, or at 40 weeks.  Also, we already had one of each, so she wasn’t especially pining to have either a girl or a boy, and we already had the clothing for whichever kind of baby came out.  She figured that if she didn’t know, she’d also end up spending less money on clothes and stuff.  I supported her decision, even though I personally would have rather found out.  So we never got an ultrasound.

But as the weeks wore on, we began to regret our decision to not find out.  We had a great name picked out for a girl (Claire Rebecca Gibby), but we struggled with coming up with a good boy name.  We considered several — Seth, Henry, Thomas, Joseph — and spent hours trying to find one that had all the right qualities.  For me, that meant it couldn’t be too popular, but it still had to be common and recognizable;  Sarah wanted something distinctive, with character.  But we never settled on anything, even as Sarah’s due date drew closer.  We realized that if we’d gotten an ultrasound like most people do, we would have known whether it was a boy or a girl, and if we even had to worry about thinking up a boy name.

Baby Time

Our other two kids were early — 12 days for Audrey, and 10 days for Nathan — so we weren’t expecting Sarah to even make it to 39 weeks.  But as 39 and then 40 weeks came and went, Sarah started getting more miserable.  “I want my body back!” she’d exclaim.  Every time Sarah had a few good contractions, we’d hope that this was it… but then she’d get up and do something, and the contractions would peter out.  “I’m going to be pregnant forever,” she moaned.

On Monday, September 13 (three days after her due date), Sarah woke up with the same kind of contractions, but they were pretty regular.  I went to work, confident in the knowledge that I could get home within 5 minutes of when she called me.  Sarah got her doctor to come check her by mid-morning, and she was at a 4-5 cm dilation and 90% effaced — it was going to happen sometime today!  He went back to work (probably to cancel a bunch of other patients!) but promised that he’d be back when she needed him.  Sarah called our moms and her sisters to come down to our house, and got me to come home from work at lunch time.

By the time I got home, her contractions were almost a minute long and less than four minutes apart.  She really was in good labor.  Judy took Audrey to school, and my mom took Nathan to the store with her to keep him out of our hair.  Dr. Wright came back and we got the pool set up in our bathroom by about 1:30 p.m.

I got my swimsuit on and jumped in the tub with Sarah, and she got to work having good contractions.  I was against the back wall, and she was leaning back on me for support.  I rubbed her back and tummy, poured water on her belly, whispered encouraging words.  Being in the water helped her manage the pain.  A midwife and a midwife-in-training showed up to lend a hand to Dr. Wright, and Alaura started snapping pictures.  Once between contractions, my mom brought Nathan up to see what was going on, and he was happy and shy.

When the doctor checked her again, she was just at 5-6 cm dilated and fully effaced.  She was afraid that it would take a long time to be fully dilated, but soon Sarah’s “vocalizations” got louder and more intense and she felt the urge to push — it was really baby time.  At one point in the middle of a contraction, she cried out, “I’m so excited to have this baby!”  The midwives had never heard someone so enthusiastic and happy to be giving birth.

Eventually, Sarah could reach down and feel the baby’s head.  It only took her half an hour to get from that 5-6 to 10 centimeters.  When she actually pushed the baby out, the doctor grabbed her and placed her onto Sarah’s chest. We covered the baby with towels and got them wet to keep her warm.  We didn’t even check to see if she was a boy or a girl for a few minutes; we just looked and looked at her head and fingers, so happy that she was finally with us.

When the doctor peeked under the towel and announced that it was a girl, we were very relieved.  And we immediately said her name, “Claire.”

Sarah’s sister Zilpha missed the birth by five minutes because she hadn’t gotten the first messages that we’d left for her, but Judy and Alaura were both there to witness it, and Mom and Nathan came up to see the baby while we were still in the tub.  Audrey got home from school an hour after Claire was born, and she was so happy that we’d had a little sister for her instead of a brother.


Claire ended up being 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long, which surprised us — we thought she’d be bigger because she had longer to cook in the womb.  But she’s perfectly healthy and we’re happy to have her with us.

This was our first home birth, and we liked how it all turned out.  We knew where everything was and could easily grab anything we needed during the labor and delivery.  We didn’t have to rush to the hospital, we didn’t have to fill out forms before we could have a baby, we didn’t have to listen to any security lectures about not letting strangers walk off with our child, and we didn’t have to hear any other newborns crying all night.  Dr. Wright and his crew took care of cleaning up the tub and the towels and everything in the bathroom.  We just quickly settled back into life at home with our three kids.

Posted by Curtis Gibby on September 15th, 2010

Filed under Family | 3 Comments »

Syncing Stylish userstyles with Dropbox

I’ve used Firefox’s Stylish plugin for years to get rid of stuff that I don’t want to see on all kinds of web sites.  Once you know how CSS works, the plugin makes it easy to tweak the look of any page by adding a quick {width:100%;} or {display:none;} to your own personalized CSS userstyle for each site. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on August 24th, 2010

Filed under Programming | 5 Comments »

Maximizing font size in FPDF

At work, I use the excellent FPDF library to write PDF files.  But I couldn’t find any way to automatically make the text as large as possible to fit into a given space.  So I wrote the following function to stick into the FPDF class.  It’ll take a given text string and a width, incrementally set the font size higher and higher until it over-runs the space, then gives you the right size to just fit into the width. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on June 22nd, 2010

Filed under Programming, Work | 2 Comments »

My reaction to Google Font Directory: “Meh.”

Google Font DirectoryI’ve been interested in web fonts for a while now, so I was rather excited when the Google Font Directory was released last month.

Am I the only one who’s not really impressed with it? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on June 16th, 2010

Filed under Cool Web Stuff, Programming | No Comments »

The Sienna Saga (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Minivan)

Last week, we were content with the two cars we had, planning to put all three of our kids in the back of Sarah’s Matrix when the baby was born.    We knew we liked Toyota Siennas in general, since Sarah’s mom has one that we’ve driven around a lot, and they’re the most popular minivan among all our soccer-mom friends.   But Sarah was afraid that the Sienna was too big — so she wanted to check out the Mazda MPV, which was smaller than most minivans and she’d read good reviews about it.  So we thought that the MPV might be a minivan that we’d consider purchasing down the road, but we had decided that we could wait. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 24th, 2010

Filed under Random Stories | 1 Comment »

Let Us All Press On

Since I built this web site, I’ve taken it as a source of pride that I created all of the major functionality from scratch: blog, pictures, links, and so forth.  I learned that I could do it on my own.

But since I’ve started using WordPress in other applications, I knew that I wanted to use it for my blog here too. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 20th, 2010

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A Year of Wii : The Simpsons Game (May)

The Simpsons GameThis week we rented the fun “The Simpsons Game” for the Wii.  (I say “we”, but really I rented it.   Sarah never had anything to do with this one, either in the renting or the playing.)

You get to play with the four main Simpsons family members, who each have their own fun special super-hero abilities: Bart becomes Bart-Man with a grappling hook, glider cape and slingshot; Lisa has mystical Buddhist powers that include levitating large objects and striking enemies down with lightning; Homer can turn into a ball and roll around slamming into stuff; and Marge has a megaphone with the ability to make ordinary citizens become her very own mob, ready to do her bidding. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 11th, 2010

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A Year of Wii : Marble Saga Kororinpa (April)

Marble Saga KororinpaOur Wii game this month was Marble Saga Kororinpa, which Sarah thought would be an interesting puzzle game. The gameplay is like one of those old wooden games where you’re trying to get a marble to a specific point without letting it fall into the holes along the way.   Here, you’re trying to guide your ball through the course, collecting gems without falling off the edge.

We got it home and played for a while with the Wii Balance Board, which was a nice little addition.   Sarah would finish a course, then I’d try to do the same one in a better time than she did, and vice versa.   (This was the only pseudo-multiplayer action we found, even though the game claims that you can “Play with three other people on the same map as you race to the finish line”.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 6th, 2010

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A Year of Wii : Toy Story Mania! (March)

Our game rental this month was Toy Story Mania! — a carnival-derived bunch of mini-games where you throw darts, shoot wooden animals, and roll marbles along with Woody, Buzz and other fun Toy Story characters.

The kids liked watching me play, and Audrey was even able to do some of the games in multi-player mode.   High scores give you tickets, which you use to purchase new games to play.   My first run-through the game seemed rather repetitive and took less than an hour, but then I realized that there were more mini-games to unlock and have fun with. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on April 7th, 2010

Filed under Wii | 1 Comment »