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We’re looking for a new SUV that’s bigger than our 2000 Honda CR-V (3150 lbs curb weight), particularly in back seat room and cargo capacity, without being too big, gaudy, and expensive.  We looked at the Honda Pilot, the Toyota Highlander, and the new Saturn Outlook this afternoon; we came away very impressed with the Outlook.  Both the Pilot and the Highlander are awaiting redesigns that are coming on the market later this year, and the Outlook came out just a few months ago.  Would anyone like to recommend other mid- to large SUVs that we might like?  Anything over 5000 lbs curb weight or getting less than 20mpg on the highway probably won’t be considered.

Had a whirlwind weekend between helping with Zachary, Ryan’s soccer game and birthday party, tinkering with “the beast” (now named “FarCry”), hanging with my parents, and going to the Middletown Fair as well as some “normal” weekend stuff.

Ryan’s soccer game Saturday morning was great.  They’ve got a core of 6 kids on the team that are playing together well; the last two weeks, they’ve really started playing like a team.  They have one more game this coming Saturday.  Can’t wait to see how they do in the Under-8 division next year, and I hope they get to continue to play together.

Mom and Dad came late Saturday morning to visit and watch Zachary as we took Ryan over to Fountainblu for his early birthday party.  I’d never been to this rink before and was impressed by its organization, cleanliness, and size.  I hadn’t been on my blades yet this year, and hadn’t skated indoors since leaving Buffalo.  I was in hog heaven.  I had fun whipping around the rink, and helping the little guys get the hang of their skates.  Being six and seven, they haven’t skated much yet.  Ryan really impressed me.  He went down a lot, but everytime I thought “he’s done” he was back out on the floor a few minutes later.  I think we’ll be back at Fountainblu, even if it’s just Ryan and myself.  Melissa did get out on her skates as well near the end, but she was great as the greeter and overall party runner.

I was pretty tired after the party; the skating was my first significant exercise in a while.  But it was all good; I made dinner and we had a restful evening talking with my parents and playing with Zachary.

Speaking of Zach, at a month old he’s really liking laying in front of the activity gym and observing the lights and songs for 15-20 minutes at a time.  I’ll have to get a pic of that soon.

I did find some pockets of time to get Win XP x64 installed on FarCry and get the drivers loaded.  The only “gotcha” was that I had to go out and grab Realtek’s drivers for the onboard audio.  MSI’s provided drivers (had to go online; the x64 OS wasn’t supported with the included CD media) weren’t installing.  Everything else loaded up great, and once I get the Audigy 4 and FireWire card from Earthshine inserted I should be able to finalize the hardware build and then install Ubuntu 7.04 x64.  Don’t know how often that’ll get used upstairs, but I have plenty of hard drive space to use to play with it.  I’ve also successfully tested its dual-boot-ability with Win XP and was impressed.

On Sunday my Dad wanted us to go for a bike ride but I woke up with a headache and was still feeling the skate a bit, so I declined.  Early in the afternoon we headed down to Hoffer Park in Middletown for our first Middletown Fair.  It was nice to go a craft show that we weren’t participating in as Manolas.   It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the food was OK.  I noticed that the crowd skewed pretty old; I guess that reflects the average age of the borough’s population.  We don’t get down there much except to go to Alfred’s.

We had a very eventful weekend at Harrisburg Hospital, beginning with our arrival in the wee hours of Friday morning.  Melissa’s wishes were granted; labor started and progressed naturally, and she had a healthy baby!  Mom and Zachary passed all their tests in the hospital and we came home yesterday afternoon.  My Mom and Dad were in town to watch Ryan and they kept him and the house happy.  Melissa and I had a nap-filled night last night as Zachary kept us on our toes.  It’s nice to be back home!

Zachary Franklin Harden, born at 9:16am on May 11, 2007.  Weight: 7 lb 8.8 oz; length: 19.5 in.

Zachary Franklin Harden, originally uploaded by aharden.

Mom and baby worked hard last night! Welcome Zachary!

Melissa’s due next Wednesday, May 9th, and she’s doing great.  We’re heading into the final stretch here.  The new infant seat and bases have been installed in the cars, the bags are just about packed, and the room is stocked and ready.  Within the next two weeks I expect to be holding our new little boy.  More news as it happens!

IMG_0437, originally uploaded by aharden.

Just about another month and a half left…

I’m going to have some good stuff to listen around the time our new baby arrives. New Porcupine Tree (April 24th) and Rush (May 1st) albums are due in the few weeks before the baby is due (May 9th-ish).

I’m hoping neither album suffers from “louder is better” syndrome…

Update: Can’t hurt to throw a few links out there if you don’t know what I’m referring to.

Ryan joined the Cub Scouts this year and Pack 23’s annual Pinewood Derby is today. I wanted to keep the car’s design simple so that Ryan felt it was his, or perhaps ours, but definitely not mine.

We had talked about some very basic designs that would mold the car into more of a minivan-like design than an Indy racer. He picked red and yellow as his colors; I think they were probably inspired by Lightning McQueen from Cars. Our quick trip to Buffalo last weekend was well-timed; we visited his grandpa’s wood shop to make our cuts and sand our corners. Ryan wasn’t allowed to use the saw, of course, but he did do some of the sanding once we showed him how. We continued sanding by hand from home and sealed and painted the car over the course of this last week. We put the axles and wheels on this morning. It’s ready to go.

There’s definitely more we could have done to tweak up the car, but I wanted to keep it simple since we didn’t allocate a whole lot of time to it. I didn’t want to heap a lot of detail to the project because I though it might turn Ryan off. I’m hoping he’s inspired by the race this afternoon and keeps his eyes open for car designs for next year. I know I will be!

Links to photos to come later.

Update (1/29): IMG_0431