2/23/2005


Alissa and Hamlet prepare to paint.  Posted by Hello


Daddy getting dirty! Posted by Hello


It's not exactly the Sistine Chapel... Posted by Hello


Corner detail Posted by Hello


The finished product!  Posted by Hello

2/22/2005

Soggy LA

It was another banner weekend for the Millar clan, despite the almost constant rain. Saturday I braved the deluge and competed in a very wet and very muddy road race down in Murrietta. Despite the conditions, I held on for an 8th place finish, which was my best so far this year. After I'd dried off, Alissa and I joined our friends Raj & Viola at Palomino, which was fantastic.

Sunday we headed "over the hill" to the Valley for our maiden voyage to Babies R Us. I'd been anticipating this visit with a mixture of excitement and dread that must affect every expectant first time father. But I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and organized the employees were, and how well laid out the store was. We stopped at the Baby registry desk first, to check in and get our awesome, Registry Lasergun. I'm convinced that this is just a ploy to get guys excited about registering for wedding presents or shower gifts, but I took the bait willingly. Once we'd been properly briefed, we jumped in feet first. We tried to pace ourselves, but the sheer size and scale of the place soon overwhelmed us. So we took a quick lunch break to regain our composure, and went back at it with full bellies. We looked at strollers, high-chairs, pak and plays, breast pumps, diaper genies, cribs, gliders, tub toys, bottles, diapers, onsies, activity centers, car seats, Baby Bjorns, etc. My mind was spinning by the time we were finished. The good news is that we got to test drive all the stuff we'd seen and heard about, and decided which we liked the best. My feet and psyche paid the price, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. We are now the proud owners of a Babies R Us gift registry, which is essentially a list of stuff that we plan to beg, bribe and otherwise coerce our friends and family into giving us... I mean, Sam. The kid's not even born yet and already he's become a scapegoat for blatant consumerism. Did I mention that we bought a video camera too?

Anyway, after our shopping hangover wore off on Monday morning, we decided to roll up our sleeves and paint the nursery. (Or as we like to call it, the Room Formerly Known as the Guest Bedroom) Alissa had come up with a really beautiful color scheme so despite the doubts of the nice people at the Home Depot paint department, we plowed ahead, undaunted. As it turned out, we did quite a fine job, if I say so myself. The ceiling is a really pretty light blue (so Sam will always have blue skies to look at...awwwww) and the walls are a very nice light yellow. Despite my best efforts to screw it all up, the final product actually looks pretty darned good. And of course, we also have the added satisfaction of knowing that all our hard work is for a great cause, our baby's first bedroom!

So that's the weekend update. I'll post some pictures of the room when I get home tonight. In the meantime, have a great week everybody!

2/18/2005

Back to the Mothership

After several weeks of negotiations, I accepted a staff position as Line Producer for MTV Music Development today. I left a staff job at MTV almost five years ago in New York, bound to test the freelance waters and earn what I felt I was worth in the open market. Like most people in the business who go freelance, I was initially thrilled about doubling my salary overnight and being my own boss. For the last several years I've grown accustomed to the financial and logistical balancing act that's often required in a world where taking on multiple projects simultaneously is par for the course. Recently, I was approached about coming back on staff. I've rejected several similar offers over the years because they never made sense financially, but with a baby on the way, suddenly the stability of a staff job was a very attractive proposition. So as of next week I'll officially be coming "back to the mothership," as it were. Though I've worked almost continuously as a freelance for both MTV and VH1 for the last year and a half, becoming a staff member involves a level of commitment I haven't known in a long time. But as far as I'm concerned, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Other than paid vacation and paternity leave, I'm also going to have the pleasure of working for and with a group of people who I really respect and admire. And that's no small accomplishment in this business.

Anyway, to celebrate my newfound commitment to "the man," I decided to spring for a new video camera. Alissa and I have been talking about it for awhile (what with the impending arrival of the Samster and all) and after test driving a few models I finally decided on a little Sony Mini-DV that I love. I thought it might be a good idea to buy something like this now, while I still have some spare time to teach myself how to use it before the baby arrives. Then of course, I'll be far too busy changing diapers, doing feedings and watching my entire world turn upside down. But somewhere along the line, I'll hopefully have time to shoot and edit some cute home movies. Either that, or we'll start teaching Sam how to shoot and edit them himself so he can drop out of kindergarten and start raking in the big bucks as an editor.

That's it for today. I'm off to carbo-load and get ready for a race tomorrow. Check back next week for some new pics of the nursery we're going to attempt to paint this weekend. Happy Friday everybody!

2/17/2005


 Posted by Hello

The Karate Kid

Alissa's been feeling Sam kick for weeks now, in fact he's been a regular "Daniel-San." (Sweep the leg!!!!) But last night in the middle of 'Law & Order' I felt it for the first time. It was pretty amazing, and somehow suddenly made this all VERY real. I was actually kind of shocked at how emotional this tiny symbol of our future made me feel. At this rate, I'm going to be a blubbering mess by the time this kid is born.

2/16/2005

Civilian Life

Not much to report around here at the moment. We went to see Green Day last night at a taping for VH1 storytellers. Our friend Patti produced the show, and a lot of my friends and fellow coworkers were on the crew. It was fun to go and just enjoy the show as a "civilian," without having to worry about anything. Green Day put on a great show, and we were even able to make it home to bed by 11PM. Woo hoo!

Yes, we are old.

Work is kind of slow at the moment and I'm trying to shake what feels like a cold, so I'm not 100%. Though it could be all the running around we've been doing just catching up with me. I keep telling myself that a morning of sleeping in would probably do me some good, but the sadistic side of me also thinks I should get used to being tired since once Sam gets here I'm sure my ability to get by on less than 6 hours of sleep a night will come in handy. But there's rain in the forecast, so I may get a morning of sleeping in soon whether I want to or not.

Anyway, I think that's about it for now. I'm going to force myself to enjoy this temporary lull, since these things are usually followed by insane amounts of work and stress. And again, in about 4 1/2 months, I'll be looking back fondly at these mellow times, wishing I could take a morning off.

2/14/2005

Show and Tell

This morning Alissa took me to school as her Show and Tell. I was a dual-purpose Show and Tell exhibit; husband AND cyclist! So I wore my kit and took my bike with me.

Alissa's school is really fantastic. For those of you just tuning in for the first time, my wife Alissa works as a Teacher's Assistant at a school here in LA for autistic children. The children in her class are between 10 and 12 years old. Alissa is one of two TA's in the class, and there are also 2 one-on-ones, which are Adults who work exclusively with one student. The school is fairly small, but it's beautuful and very well kept. The halls are lined with the students' artwork, which is something Alissa loved when she started working there and today I could see why. It's a really vibrant place. When my mother was teaching I was in elementary schools often, but it's been years since then, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I sat in the back of the classroom while the kids arrived and watched the expressions on their faces as they noticed the man in the funny looking clothes and the bicycle. They were all full of energy as they talked with the teacher Mrs. Martinez about their weekends and about the fact that today was Valentine's Day. Once they all settled in and finished their journals, Alissa got up to introduce me. After the initial shock of hearing that Mrs. Millar was actually MARRIED wore off, the kids started peppering me with questions about me and my bike. I hadn't anticipated how nervous I'd be up there. Speaking in front of a classroom of children is intimidating stuff! Thankfully most of the questions were pretty benign and the kids were very sweet. After we talked about racing and how fast I could go, and about Lance Armstong and whether I'd ever raced him (no) and about how important it is to wear a helmet, I said my thank you's and waved goodbye.

I left feeling very proud of my wife and of the way she contributes every day to making our world a better place. For years people have been telling me how exciting and glamourous they think my job is. But this morning in a little classroom full of 5th graders, I was happy to learn the truth. Nothing I do professionally will ever be remotely as important to the work Alissa and her coworkers do every day. And I couldn't love her more for it. Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

Weekend Update

What a weekend!!! I think we managed to cram in more during the last two days than we did all week, but it was fantastic. Friday night we caught up with our friends Shane and Sandra and had a great dinner at Bhudda's Belly, one of our favorite restaurants in LA. Sandra is also pregnant and is due two weeks after Alissa. It's been really amazing having such good friends going through this at the same time we are, and I'm sure it's only going to get better. The idea of having our kids grow up together is really awesome to me. S&S are such good friends and all around good people. It's just such a rare and wonderful experience for us all. So of course, we talked a lot about impending parenthood at dinner, and made plans for a major Babies R Us expedition next weekend. Yes, this is my life.

Saturday I got up to squeeze a ride in between the raindrops and was rewarded with a rare "Lance Sighting." I'd finished my ride and was on my way up San Vincente. I noticed a cyclist descending in the opposite lane and thought to myself, "Gee, that looks a lot like Lance Armstrong." I looked closer, and noticed that the mystery cyclist was wearing a Discovery team kit and riding a black Trek. My eyes were not deceiving me. It was indeed The Man. He was past me in a flash and though I briefly considered turning around to say hello, I decided to preserve what little dignity I've got and savor the fleeting memory instead. When I got to Peets for coffee I was in line telling a couple of friends about my sighting when I noticed that Brooke Shields was in standing in line in front of me with her daughter and her husband. Just another Saturday in Los Angeles!

Anyway, after my star sightings, Alissa and I helped our friends Steve and Nicole move down to Hermosa Beach. Their new place is great and only two blocks from the beach so we plan on visiting often. Hermosa is perfect for them, since it's a true beach town and there's loads of fun stuff for them to do. Alissa and I have commented several times about how interesting it is to us that all our friends are going through such major changes in their lives these days. It just feels like one of those seismic shifts in life that come along every once in while to shake things up. We're especially aware of it since we've got the baby coming. I've heard from many of my friends who already have children that becoming a parent really is the line of demarcation between you and your childless friends. I certainly plan on seeing Steve and Nicole often after Sam is born, but I also know that our trips to the South Bay will be very different from the ones we're used to, which is totally fine. I guess it's just another sign that I'm ready for fatherhood. When playing on the beach with your little boy all day sounds like more fun than pounding pina coladas and watching the bikini parade on the Strand, it's time to have a baby!

After our little adventure in the South Bay, we raced home and changed for our big date night. We had tickets to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo at UCLA. I'd really been looking forward to this show, because I'm just completely entranced by African music. It amazes me that music that comes from people who've been so oppressed for so long, can be so joyful. To sit there in the dark and listen to these beautiful men sing, really makes your spirit soar. They were much looser and funnier than I'd imagined they would be. And the entire time I was keenly aware that we were watching something truly original and purely of itself. It's rare to feel that way about anything I think, or I wouldn't have been so moved when I felt it Saturday night. The way they sang, and the joy that come from the songs and words, was really incredible. I knew I was watching something very special. And then, as if it couldn't get any better, Ben Harper came onstage and joined them for an encore. I love Ben Harper, and he was great. You could also tell that he was deeply humbled to be in the presence of such legends. So I'm glad I wasn't the only one feeling that way. It was a really incredible night.

Sunday we went out to Brea for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which is a Crit that traditionally kicks off the racing season here. It was my first crit this year and I was looking forward to racing after a week of recovery. I'm not really a big fan of crits; they're very fast, fairly dangerous, and they typically favor sprinters. I'm much more of a road racer, but a lot of guys from my team were going, so I wanted to be there. I did two races, and they were both a lot of fun. They were VERY fast, buy thanks to all the rest I'd gotten I felt good and was able to stay up near the front. In the second race I attacked as much as I could to keep the speed of the race up and wear down the field so our sprinters could sit in and have a better shot at a good finish. Our plan worked well and we had two riders place highly. Most importantly, everyone finished safely and had a good time.

We wrapped up all this fun with another Bradley class and a yummy dinner at home. As I got ready for bed I couldn't help thinking to myself how great my life is. I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing wife, such good friends and so many wonderful experiences. This is the good stuff!

2/11/2005

Blasts from the Past

The other day I got an email from a long lost friend of mine, asking permission to add me to his "friends" list on Friendster.com. I hadn't seen my Friendster account in a couple years (since well before I got married) so I logged on to update it and to get back in touch with my old buddy. We exchanged emails and by reconnecting with him, I was also able to track down a couple of other friends I hadn't seen or spoken to for over 15 years. Ah, the power of the internet. Suddenly thanks to websites like Friendster.com and Classmates.com, finding those long lost friends, lovers, classmates, teammates, exes, etc. is easier than ever. When I came home and told my wife about the email I'd received, she asked what I hoped to get out of it. It's a valid question I suppose. After all, I'm married, on the brink of parenthood, and happier than I've ever been in my life. What did I hope to get out of reconnecting with a handful of people I'd known when I was 14 years old?

I thought a lot about it and the most honest answer I could come up with was that I was curious about how it had all turned out. When I was 15 years old, my family moved from Oklahoma City to St. Louis. It's about 500 miles between the two cities, but for me it was the emotional equivalent of being relocated to Siberia for the remainder of my teenage years. But kids are resilient, and after a long and lonely summer, I met new friends and settled into a new life there. As it turned out, that move was a catalyst for all kinds of things in my life. It forced me to adapt to new experiences and to be open to new people and new ideas. Leaving the Midwest for college on the East Coast was a snap compared to leaving Oklahoma for the first time.

After college I moved to New York City and whole world of new experiences. I found myself meeting people and doing things I'd never dreamed I'd do in a million years. I had a great job and traveled the world. But as hard as I tried to be the thick skinned, world weary city dweller, deep inside I was always going to be the kid from Oklahoma. Eventually I moved on to California and to more life changes, including a marriage and soon, a baby. But all these years, that short span of my teenage years has held my imagination. The memories of the friends I left behind there have always been stuck firmly and deeply in my imagination. I wondered about the lives they'd all led, and where they were now. It was like seeing a really great movie, then leaving before I’d gotten to find out how it ends.

So suddenly I find myself in a position to find out how it turns out after all. The answer it seems, is sweeter than I’d imagined. My friends have moved on and lived their lives, just as I’ve lived mine. Most of us are married now, and some of us are parents (or about to be). I’m not sure what I expected to find. Maybe this is it, that life goes on. I’ve traded the mystery of the unknown for the satisfaction of certainty. But in the end, maybe that’s all I needed to know. That we’re all where we want to be, no matter how far we’ve gone.

2/07/2005

Sleeping In and Racing Deer

We slept in this morning, which is a rare treat around the Millar house. I'm usually up and out the door for training rides by 5:30AM, so we figure that by the time the baby gets here we'll be fairly used to the lack of sleep. But today we reveled in the luxuriousness that comes with not getting out of bed until 8AM.

Alissa's got a cold and spent most of the weekend trying to shake it off. Fortunately her mom's in town so she's been on a steady diet of TLC and chicken noodle soup. Hopefully she'll be back in the black in no time.

Friday night Alissa and her mom went out to Glendale to have a little Girl Time at their friend's Laurie's house. So I spent the night at home alone. I couldn't get over how quiet out little house was without Alissa and Hamlet in it. It's hard to believe I lived alone for so long. For most of my adult life I've treasured my privacy and was always the kind of person that couldn't imagine having a roommate. In fact, I really worried that when I eventually got married I'd have trouble sharing my space with another person. But now that I am married, I can't imagine it any other way. Walking around our empty house Friday night was a very real reminder of how lonely my life would be without Alissa in it. So after cooking up a pasta dinner for one, I decided to hit the sack and save my energy for Saturday's race.

Saturday Alan and I drove down to San Diego for the Boulevard Road race. The race itself is actually help about 50 miles east of San Diego, in the mountains. It's a very hard race, but one that I was really looking forward to doing. It was cold and cloudy when we arrived, but the sun eventually came out and it warmed up nicely in time for the start. Unfortunately for me, I flatted about halfway through the race, and was dropped by the peleton while I waited for a new wheel. I soloed for most of the rest of the race, which was pretty miserable. Though along the way I had one of the strangest and funniest cycling experiences ever. As I was descending I suddenly heard the sound of hoofs pounding on the pavement. I turned to my left and was VERY surprised to see a huge deer running right beside me at about 30 MPH! He looked as freaked out as I was, and for a minute it seemed like we'd just go on like that forever. But as quickly as it had begun, the deer passed in front of me and bounded off into the brush on the right side of the road. I just chuckled to myself and kept on riding. You never know what you're going to see out there, that's for sure.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. Sunday I got in another training ride and finished it in the pouring rain. All in an attempt to come down with a cold on my own without any help from my wife. So far it hasn't worked. Sunday night Sheila made us a fabulous dinner and we all watched Napoleon Dynamite. We'd heard so many good things about the movie that we were really looking forward to it. But I guess we're too old to appreciate the edgy humor, because we all thought it was awful. At any rate, that's about as crazy as it gets around our house these days. I suppose it's a good thing we're having a baby, since we're definitely not taking advantage of the wild and crazy night life that LA has to offer. But frankly, I'll take dinner and a movie at home over a wild party on the Sunset Strip anytime. As I found out Friday night, I don't miss my old life one bit.


2/04/2005

IT'S A BOY!!!!!

Yesterday we finally found out that we're having a boy!!!

We'll always have a soft spot in our hearts for Baby Bean, but we're VERY excited about welcoming Baby Sam into the world.

Here's a shot of the belly billboard we made to tell Alissa's mother the news when she arrived from Oklahoma last night.



Sam I Am!  Posted by Hello

2/01/2005

It's Been Too Long!

Wow, has it really been 6 weeks since I've posted anything here? How can that be?

Well, for starters, the Holidays have officially come and gone. Alissa and I flew home to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with her family. Once I got over my usual LA-to-OK hangover, it was a fantastic time. We saw lots of family, I met some fine Sooner cyclists, did some informational job interviews, ate WAY too much, and played lots and lots of Mexican Train, which by the way, is fast becoming the Official Game of the Millar Family. There was plenty of traditional gift giving and receiving. The Bean really raked it in, though I didn't do half bad either. Who knew that there would come a day when I would get an illustrated book about Poop as a gift and be really, really excited about it. (Actually if you know anything about me, that isn't much of a surprise.) At any rate, the whole trip was a big success and after a 36 hour flight we returned home to LA, which in our absence had begun to resemble some kind of biblical scene. In fact, I'm fairly sure there were actually frogs falling from the sky outside LAX, in addition to torrential sheets of rain.

So for New Year's Eve, we loaded up the ark, and paddled up to Santa Barbara with Sara and her new fiancee Pete. Sara's family friends had generously invited us all up to their house while they were in LA for the Rose Bowl parade. Since we'd seen nothing but sheets of rain since we got back from Oklahoma, we were only too happy to make a run for higher ground. As luck would have it, the weather in Santa Barbara was beautiful. We had a lovely day of laying around doing a lot of nothing, which seemed like the thing to do on a long, lazy weekend. New Year's Eve itself was fairly uneventful, which in comparison with the countless New Year's Eve disasters of years past, was a welcome change. We had a nice dinner, played some (more) Mexican Train, and were all in bed by 1AM. I've been told that somewhere along the way I also consumed several bottles of wine, but I can neither confirm nor deny this accusation. I can however, confirm that New Year's Day dawned sunny and ripe for hiking, which we all did before hitting the road back to LA and sadly, the Real World.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been working my tail off on a new pilot for work which was the reason for our only other big trip recently. The show taped on location in Texas, and I flew out to be there for the big finale, which we shot on a amazing ranch outside of Austin. Alissa came along to visit her cousin Erin who has recently moved to the Lone Star State, and to keep me company. We had a great time at the ranch, spent time with good friends and Alissa got to feed a buffalo, so it was officially a huge success.

Alissa's also been going gangbusters since the New Year. A few weeks ago she took a job with a small private school for children with autism. She's working as a Teacher's Assistant at their school in Culver City and is really loving it. Hopefully she'll be able to work until the end of the school year, when the baby arrives. She's also still doing plenty of commercial auditions and voice-over work, in addition to the somehow managing the daily challenge of living with yours truly.

On the baby front, the Bean seems to be doing well. As I mentioned earlier, Bean really made out like a bandit at Christmas, officially getting more presents that either of the Future Parents. Alissa and I have also enrolled in a Bradley Birthing class and I've been reading up on the finer points of husband coached childbirth. Thanks to our chosen method of delivery, I'll get to do more than just pace the halls and drink gallons of coffee when Bean arrives. And even though I'm sure I'll eventually freak out about the lack of control I'll have over ANYTHING that happens in the delivery room, for now it's pretty cool.

At any rate, that's a VERY general overview of everything we've been up to for the last 6 weeks. I'm sure I've skipped over several earth-shattering pieces of information but these were the highlights. Tomorrow we head back to Dr. Cohen's office to find out the sex of the Bean, which pretty dang exciting. So check back soon for an update!

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