Sam, Scooter Thomas

We Moved.

Being introduced to a new habitat can be a harrowing experience for animals. Take cats, for example. notes what a traumatic ordeal moving can be for a feline:

Adjusting to a new home can be a tense and frightening experience for a cat.

Consider your companion’s past experiences. Your kitten may have been recently separated from his mother and litter mates. The kitten or cat has had to cope with the transition of a shelter and the stress of surgery. The adult cat may have been separated from a familiar home and forced to break a bond with human companions or other animals. Now he must adjust again to totally new surroundings.

Not exactly a walk in the park. Our cat, Scooter Thomas, has moved at least four times in his life. We adopted Scooter Thomas when we moved to Cincinnati six years ago. Being the well-adjusted creature that he is, though, we felt certain he would weather our latest move with trademark aplomb.

We were more concerned about how Sam, now eighteen months, would handle the transition. New bedroom. New play area. New bathtub. Friends recommended we keep as many routines in place as possible.

As it turns out, we needn’t have worried about Sam. Any angst over a change in surroundings has been taken out on Scooter Thomas, as evidenced by the photos below.

This is MY HOUSE, Cat. MINE.


I will crush you with love!



x would not be pleased with this situation.


Infant-pet tension aside, we’re getting settled in our new place and hope to resume somewhat more routine blogging in the days and weeks to come.

family, friends, movies, NBA, Sam, Scooter Thomas, sports, Utah Jazz

Voreblog Power Rankings: December 8, 2011

Ranking who’s currently wearing the pants in the Vore household. Previous rankings here and here.


Entering the list dead last.


8. TUESDAY’S DATE NIGHT. Previous ranking: N/A

You know you’re in for a bad date night movie when your babysitter tells you, as you’re walking out the door, “Oh, I saw that over Thanksgiving break and it was terrible.” We knew the movie in question, Breaking Dawn, would not be good, but just how not good it was startled even our low, low expectations. Taylor Lautner needed all of five seconds to rip his shirt off, while the CGI sequences involving wolves speaking to one another were almost as bad as the flaming moose CGI sequence from Knowing. (Almost.) Date nights being a rare commodity, Tuesday’s date night was, shall we say, a Flaming Moose. Did you know? Jacob imprinted.

7. OUR CHRISTMAS TREE. Previous ranking: N/A

Charlie Brown, move over.

Our five foot artificial Christmas tree is sparkling and festive … starting at three and a half feet up. The Vore Christmas tree is #7 this year thanks to #4 and #1. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, how lovely are thy topmost branches.

6. ERIN (down). Previous ranking: #4

After being dealt a grievous blow by David Stern and the National Basketball Association, Erin last night suffered another setback at the hands of the site Vistaprint, which suckered her into designing a super-sweet Christmas card only to tack on an egregious charge for envelopes before slipping in an even more egregious shipping charge which we had to pay if we wanted to see our cards before next February, so that what started out as an enjoyable endeavor filled with Christmas cheer soon devolved into a price-gouging, knicker-twisting, profanity-laced tirade at 11:30 at night. To top it all off, Gmail’s new look is terrible. Future prospects: Grim. A Google search about how to switch back to the old Gmail format proved fruitless. On the bright side: Vetoed Ben’s favorite cow ornament. On the less bright side: Ben put her Graeters black raspberry chip in the fridge instead of the freezer the other night. This was honestly not payback.

5. BEN (down). Previous ranking: #3

Despite once again failing to appear on People’s Sexiest Men list, Ben has, for the first time in his five year fantasy football career, qualified for the Mustache League playoffs thanks to his savvy midseason pickups of Cam Newton, DeMarco Murray and whoever is playing defense against the Chiefs. Ben is also ecstatic to have an NBA season this year, and has spent the last two weeks doing meticulous research on the new luxury tax and its ramifications on Utah’s bloated payroll. Though things look grim in Salt Lake this season, at least there’ll be basketball. Good news: A Dunkin’ Donuts opened across the street from where Ben works. Bad news: A Dunkin’ Donuts opened across the street from where Ben works. Also: Unlike Tim Tebow, Ben cannot pull another man into the bathroom during a tug-of-war contest.

4. SCOOTER THOMAS (up). Previous ranking: #5

After his precipitous fall from the top spot in the power rankings, Scooter Thomas has since regained his footing by asserting his dominance over the Christmas Tree (#7) — by eating the (fake) needles off all the bottom “branches” and then regurgitating them back into his food dish. (Why?) Despite the incoherence of this behavior, what’s undeniable is that Scooter T. has his mojo back. On the downside: Negligent owners forgot to fill his water dish yesterday, resulting in him licking the bathtub floor after Erin’s shower this morning. Sad.

3. CAMILLE AND MIKE ALLEN. Previous ranking: N/A

For sending us a Christmas card with the following message on the front: “Happy Holidays!” And the following message inside: “…is what terrorists say. Merry Christmas!” We were going to do the same thing but we didn’t have the cojones. Future prospects: Bleak. How will they top this next year? Guess they’ll have to have a kid or something.

2. GRANDPARENTS (same). Previous ranking: #2

The grandparents maintain their perch at #2, thanks to traction with the head honcho (see #1) and a willingness to indulge his sweet tooth with second helpings of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving (Nana and Papa) and fawn over him via Skype while he attempts in vain to pound the keyboard (Mamaw and Papaw). Grandparenting. Can’t beat it.

Papa and le tigre.


Papa, Nana, le tigre.


Papaw and Mamaw, Skypers extraordinaire.


1. SAM (same). Previous ranking: #1

Aside from a small bout of diaper rash, Sam continues to own the power rankings with his Christmas Tree dominance and irrepressible ability to bend everyone’s will to his liking. (“Sam wants more pie? Well sure, let’s give it to him!”) With a burgeoning vocabulary and firm handle on the sign for “more,” Sam runs shop at the Vore household, crashing trucks down the stairs to his heart’s content and getting Classical Baby on demand whenever he so chooses. He also knows just the right moment to grab and pull at Scooter Thomas’s tail whenever his feline nemesis gets a little too chippy. Future prospects: Bright. Despite the need for absolutely nothing for Christmas, he’s still everyone’s favorite to shop for. Ain’t that the life.


What Happened To October?

The calendar indicates that today is October 20, and our last post was us strongly recommending you not see Contagion on your date night … waaaaaaay back on September 30. This is a grievously long hiatus in our regularly scheduled posting. We beg your forgiveness.

What has been keeping us so preoccupied, you may ask? The short, unsexy (but truthful) answer would be work and parenthood, graphically and respectively rendered by these images:



The latter image is a testament to our family’s much rehearsed ability to all open our mouths simultaneously. We practice this many times daily.

We have been reading books (The Art of Fielding), watching movies (50/50, the superbly entertaining Tangled), and listening to new albums (Ryan Adams, Jens Lekman), all of which we intend to review in good time. For now, however, we will leave you with more pictures of Sam in various states of fall dress. Enjoy, and more soon.

At the Harvest Moon Festival. Sam can spot a random piece of Kettle Corn on the ground from a mile away.


Someone secretly switched my coffee with Folger’s!


Sam and his new car. It tops out around 100 on the freeway.


Sam meets Maximus, here seen not scowling.


books, parenthood, Sam, television

Catching Up

We’ve been remiss in our posting of late. Forgive our negligence and allow us to do a little catching up.

1. We have yet to sell our house. We have had three open houses and numerous showings at this point, and while the feedback continues to be generally positive, we have no takers. We are, however, becoming quite skilled at whipping the house into shape on short notice. Dirty dishes go in the oven if the dishwasher has clean ones. The toaster fits nicely right under the sink. Our laptop slides perfectly under the couch. One of us takes Sam outside to visit our next door neighbor, Gordo the pug (or, as Sam calls him, “Dordo”), while the other vacuums the steps and three rooms upstairs. (Sam really does not like the vacuum cleaner.) Scooter Thomas has yet to unload on one of his barfing binges during an actual showing, though he has done it the morning of. (Eleven piles of vomit. Ten in the bathroom, after we locked him in.)

2. I (Ben) had a parenting fail moment last Wednesday when, on a whim, I decided to take Sam to Lunken Airport to watch the planes come in. Sam is fascinated by all things that move, especially airplanes that pass overhead. Unfortunately we saw exactly zero planes fly in last Wednesday, even though we waited for an hour, in our parked car, since it was raining.

I made up for it this weekend during Airport Days at Lunken. Sam and I saw a B-17 bomber (one of twelve still flying), helicopter take-offs and landings from about 100 feet away, a color guard presentation and a missing man formation, which involves four aircraft flying low in a V-formation and then one abruptly pulling out of formation and flying west. It was unexpectedly moving. I was never a big plane/car/truck kid myself, but I loved the idea of being the kind of dad who takes his son to these things. Sam was mostly interested in the free hot dog, but all in all it was a successful father/son outing.

3. We breezed through season seven of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” over Labor Day weekend. While we love the show, we always need to take it in small doses. (We’re not the only ones, hence the shirt.) Season seven is the “Seinfeld” reunion season, and watching the writers pay tribute to “Seinfeld” and simultaneously desecrate its legacy made this one of our favorite seasons. None of our favorite clips from this season are really fit to include here, but until “It’s Always Sunny” starts back up, “Curb” remains our favorite irreverent and deeply offensive television.

4. We previewed A First-Rate Madness a few weeks ago. Upon finishing it, we respectfully submit that you should save your time and money and not purchase this book. For anyone interested in the subject matter (mental illness and leadership), though, may we recommend two books: one, Lincoln’s Melancholy, by Joshua Wolf Shenk, which is a much sturdier history than anything Nassir Ghaemi provides in A First-Rate Madness; and two, The Hypomanic Edge, by John Gartner, which argues that hypomania is a peculiarly American illness with tremendous benefits alongside its negatives. They’re in paperback, so you could get them both for basically the same price as the (inferior) F-RM (still in hardcover).


Sam Discovers The Sprinkler

Ever since our trip to the beach, Sam has earned the nickname “Sammy Fish.” He loves the pool. He loves bath time. And today, he learned to love our sprinkler. (It’s a turtle shell sprinkler.)

All right, let’s fire this thing up.


Yes, yes! Make it rain!




I just can’t get over the fact it’s water and it’s coming out of a turtle shell.


The only way this would be better is if this was breast milk.


I just peed myself and no one will know!


friends, parenthood, Sam, this day in Vore history

Sam Turns One

I can’t believe you made me wait a year for cake.


Today is Sam’s birthday. How quickly time flies.

One year ago he was born at Christ Hospital. It is a blur, now, to recall all the surreal details. We posted lots of photos the day after he arrived, but we never told the full birth story in this space. We decided to do that today.

The thing is, I (Erin) hadn’t planned on telling his birth story. I hadn’t even planned on writing the story of his birth at all. Not even for me. But as days turned into weeks turned into months, I wanted a record about how Sam, snug in my belly, entered the world.

My main concern was that writing a blog post about Sam’s birth would be the telling of a story no one would want to read or that perhaps should remain a secret between Ben and I. But then I read my friend Jill Van Hambergin’s post about the birth of her second son, Charlie. I read it aloud, Ben sitting in the chair next to me. Three quarters of the way through, I burst into tears. Who wants to read a birth story? Well, for starters, people like me. So here goes.

I’m told there are two types of people: those who loathe pregnancy and those who love it. I am happy to declare myself in the latter camp. I have memories of feeling nauseated during the first trimester, but I only threw up once. Because I was due in July and school ended before Memorial Day, I got to spend those final two months, when all you want to do is curl up on the couch, pulling a “Weeds” marathon while sucking down lemonade and eating tunafish bagel sandwiches from Marx Bagels. It wasn’t a bad deal. I also continued to exercise, which has me convinced that my pregnancy and labor were easier. Also, the World Cup was on, so those trips to the gym were further inspired by the promise of Spaniards in red Umbros and Vuvuzuelas.

The nausea, the backaches, the sleeplessness: those memories are sure enough sequestered to some area of my brain that I cannot access as vividly anymore.

Officially, I was due on July 21, 2010. All of my friends warned me that the first baby has the habit of arriving late, so I should prepare myself for what could be a frustrating week. And if I started to think that the baby would never come, not to worry. He or she will come. Eventually.

I went to bed on Sunday, the eighteenth, with a cramp. I didn’t think anything of it. Everything was a little achy or crampy in July. During the night, I slept like a baby, which is to say, I didn’t sleep very well at all. I woke up every two to three hours and thrashed the covers like I was drowning in water. [Ben’s note: I slept like a baby that night too.]

On Monday morning, the nineteenth, Ben and I woke up and had coffee. We talked about the team of men who were on their way to our house to replace our entire roof. That day. Two days before Sam’s official due date. But first babies come late, so we were fine.

We kissed, we exchanged I love yous, and we parted ways: Ben to work and I to my couch.

There was an ache and a cramp and I didn’t think anything of it.

A truck pulled up to the house and the doorbell rang. I introduced myself and told the men that if they needed anything I would be inside. I apologized that I couldn’t move the porch furniture since I was nine months pregnant. Inside, looking out our living room window, I watched as shingles began to rain down.

Then the ache and the cramp felt like a small wave. The wave came and went, erratically, but since I had never labored before, I didn’t know it was labor. Everyone told me that you wouldn’t be able to walk or talk, and I could do both of those things. I called my friend Katie. Always calm and full of advice, she told me to start recording the times I felt these waves. They were pretty regular, though at that time, still pretty spaced apart from the five-minute time frame.

I called my parents. My dad answered. I casually mentioned that I “think I might be having contractions.” Outside, more shingles fell.

I called Ben at work. He didn’t pick up so I left a message, something to the effect of “it’s probably nothing but I’m feeling something, maybe contractions, so could you please come home for lunch?” Before leaving, Ben told his colleagues he was sure he’d be back after lunch. He left his computer on and his man purse at his desk.

When I called the doctor’s office, I was asked who would drive me to the appointment. “Oh, I guess my husband will,” I said. I hadn’t considered the fact that I shouldn’t drive myself to the doctor. Ben called work to say that he needed to drive me to the hospital but that it was probably nothing so he’d be back to work in an hour or two.

Right before we left the house, we grabbed our pre-packed hospital bags — just in case — and then stepped outside and walked over and around hundreds of shingles. “I’ll be back!” I yelled to the workmen.

It’s a good thing Ben drove. I was in pain. I grasped my belly, hunched over, tried to breath, and bared my teeth.

Things get really blurry after that. I’ll let Ben take it over from here.

We met with Erin’s doctor at 2:45. Erin said she was fully prepared to be told that of course this wasn’t labor yet and be sent back home. But I could tell she was in a lot of pain. If this wasn’t the real deal, I couldn’t imagine what actual labor was going to be like. I was also still thinking about my conference call at 3:30.

Erin’s doctor told her she was two centimeters dilated. “You’re in labor,” he said. “We should probably get you up to the ninth floor.”

As we walked across the parking lot, I called my boss to tell him I would not be on the 3:30 conference call.

Erin and I had taken a tour of the birthing center during one of our classes, and it was then that we saw (and subsequently made fun of) the Feng Shui room, which featured a weird crystal hanging from the ceiling but was also probably the biggest of all the delivery rooms. Sure enough, we were assigned the Feng Shui room.

We walked up and down the halls, Erin’s hand digging into my shoulder every five to ten minutes. Our nurse measured her around 4:30. Still two centimeters. After the nurse left, Erin groaned and said, “I do not want to go back home.”

We were in a holding pattern for a couple hours. Around 6:30 she was four centimeters. I watched the monitor, seeing the reading spike with each contraction, knowing before Erin flinched when each round of pain was coming. After they gave her an epidural around 8:30, I was amazed to see the monitor spike and Erin … do nothing. The miracle of modern medicine.

The Wendy’s in the lobby closed at nine o’clock. I hadn’t eat lunch and I was starving. I excused myself, ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, and ate it sitting on the floor outside the Feng Shui room. All my father friends had warned me, “Do not, under any circumstances, eat in front of her during labor.”

After the epidural Erin was sleepy, and I was too. While she slept restlessly in her bed, I curled up in the fold-out chair with The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but soon put that down and watched the Phillies/Cardinals game on TV with the sound off. I was exhausted but I couldn’t sleep. This is really happening, I kept thinking. I knew the world was going on as usual outside our window, but everything about my life had shrunk to the size of that room and what would soon happen there. My wife, our new baby, and the family that was just beginning.

Erin started pushing at 3:30 Tuesday morning. She was adamant that I stay by her side and not watch the actual birth. When the moment came, though, the nurses asked if she wanted a mirror to watch and she surprised both of us by saying yes.

He arrived with a full head of blonde hair. I had convinced myself we were going to have a girl because everyone had been predicting that. It took me a moment to register that it was actually a boy. We had boy and girl names picked out. At 4:47 a.m., we knew we had a Sam.

The doctors stitched Erin up and cleaned Sam and then, for the first hour, before we called any family, it was just the three of us. He’s here! I thought, watching Erin hold him on her chest. I couldn’t stop smiling. The sun was coming up but our room faced west, so there was just a hazy red glow. Later a nurse told us there was a rainbow outside, and we looked far enough east to see it bending across the sky. In every way imaginable, it was a new day.