31 March 2008

No mo NaBloPoMo

Well, in some ways the month just flew by, and even though I struggled at times, publishing a post once a day for a month wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. That being said, I'm still not up to publishing every day of the year.

I'm looking forward to taking a day off here and there, but if this month is any indication, I can keep finding something to say on most days for the foreseeable future. See you tomorrow!

Corporate intelligence, Vol. 2: AT&T

To follow up on their previous note, AT&T also felt compelled to inform me of the following this month (emphasis mine):

February 16th launched the new redesign of att.com, featuring task based navigation for Explore, Shop, Support, and MyAccount. Notice the vibrant use of orange, approachable tone of voice, and expressive use of photography. A new section called Explore, features and highlights AT&T's latest products, technology, and consumer information.

They send me these important notes on my paper bill and online. I think maybe a very bitter, underappreciated employee has drunkenly stumbled out of his or her pity party and hijacked the customer notification system. Only after commanding people to openly acknowledge their hard work, which has foolishly been believed to be best when it's least noticeable, will they finally get all the praise and attention they've soldiered on without all these years.

So let's all be sure to mail in our To Whom It May Concern letters showing our appreciation as soon as humanly possible!

30 March 2008

The laughing wounded

Another one (of just a precious few...) of the hidden benefits of having multiple kids, versus having just one, is that wailing and whining over minor (or even non-) injuries is greatly reduced, without your having to do anything at all. This is at least true at the age my kids are (3 and 1), though I can see when you throw in scamming and scheming as they get older, the whining could actually increase over time. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

For the time being, though, I can't tell you how many times I've heard a head go "donk" in the afternoon, then silence for a second, and instead of crying next I hear laughing. This laughing, of the non-injured party (of course), is closely followed by the laughter of the successfully infected afflicted party.

This phenomenon works the same for both kids throughout the day, and let me tell you, I relish being freed of the constant dilemma of, "do I encourage the kid to fall apart at every little thing by fawning over him/her and checking for injuries, or do I seem heartless by basically not reacting at all?"

Between those two choices, I tend towards the latter most of the time, since it's usually pretty clear what warrants attention and what doesn't. I wait to see if the kid is shocked or otherwise on the fence about the event, and if so, I say something like, "Whoopsy!" in a happy voice. If it's for real, there's not usually a need to wonder about it. The rest of the time, I say if the kid wants a hug, why not, but otherwise it's no big deal. This has served us well so far. [A side note to the prospective parents out there: babies understand when they're being openly mocked at an astoundingly young age.]

By this point, if D- is crying or complaining about an injury, unless he's just really tired and cranky, you know he's earned it, and he can have some coddling. I don't think this will be an issue with the bulldog that is M-, but we still have to maintain my aloof demeanor to make sure we don't break her.

Outside whatever J- and I are teaching them with this, what they are teaching each other now is that watching other people get minorly injured is generally pretty funny, but then that's just a universal truth we all discover eventually. If you haven't yet, and especially if you already have, I highly recommend going to YouTube and searching for "people falling". If you're too lazy for that, here's a sample:

29 March 2008

Recipe for destruction

While typing up one of the blog posts this week, I was frequently leaning back in my chair to peek into the dining room where the kids were playing, all of 12 feet from me, and the following happened in the space of 2 minutes between peeks:

D- threw a giant rubber ball at M-'s Snack Trap cup full of Goldfish crackers, which jostled the lid loose. I had heard the ball throwing and scolded him, but he neglected to mention the result of said throw, which is out of character for him.

With the lid loose, M- was duty-bound to pull it the rest of the way off and silently (somehow) dump the crackers on the floor, and D- was curiosity-bound to watch without alerting me. M- proceeded to delicately stomp on each of the crackers while D- had a grand old time consistent with any unsuspicious and legal game of merriment.

And here's how aptly named our household routine is:

I leaned back over, saw the enormous mess all over the floor (luckily hardwood), and invoked M-'s full name in a stern voice. Without prompting, she immediately sat herself down (of course on some crackers that had survived the massacre up to that point), and quietly awaited my strides over to her. She greeted my arrival with as droll a recital of, "No, no, no" that a 1-year-old could possibly manage.

Employing parenting instincts so finely honed in the fire of raising a previous baby, rather than reacting to this magic word or dignifying her defiantly smug mockery, I simply said, "That's right-- 'No, no, no!' " I then lectured her as usual, finished rolling her in the cracker crumbs, and baked her for 45 minutes until golden brown.

28 March 2008

The best part of waking up... is not to

You know what's great? Having your wife finally home from all her wanderings and willing to get up in the morning to watch the kids so you can sleep in just a little, for the first time in too long a time.

Of course, by this point your lousy kids have long ago programmed your body to just wake up in the morning no matter how much sleep you've actually gotten. But it's nice to be able to ease into the day, anyway.

Or so I've heard.

27 March 2008

Things I found in my bed last night

Maybe I should stop leaving our bedroom door open during the day-- here is a list of:

Things I found in my bed last night

1. Extremely disheveled sheets and blankets.

2. A toy car.

3. A pre-worn 3-to-9-month-sized onesie (what can I say, the baby-o's on the small side) that I had put in the hamper.

4. An oversized rubber Winnie the Pooh ball.

5. Some of my wife's freshly-laundered (a week ago now, actually...) clothes she has yet to put away (what with the wedding shower planning and now her trip to speak at Katie's school).

6. A pencil.

7. A little book shaped like Tigger's face.

8. A (clean) size 3 diaper.

9. A half-full sippy cup.

And then, to contrast that list with my pre-marriage-and-children days, here are the:

Things I used to find in my bed

1. (See number one in the list above.)

2. Myself sleeping, more than just occasionally.

26 March 2008

Yet another reason why I love my son

After intently watching the anti-blind-consumerist The Story of Stuff (maybe another post on that later) on the computer with me, I put on Wallace and Gromit's three shorts, since I promised D- we could watch a movie while Momma was out of town for a few days. Just as the third one was finishing, he sat up on the couch and said, "I wanna turn off the TV."

Perhaps there's hope for the future after all.

P.S. Just now, he wanted to sit on my lap to see what I was doing that was so much more important than playing with him (what is, really?). He looked over the page, pointed to "TV" and asked, "Why did you write the word 'TV'?" The reading begins.

25 March 2008

Kamikaze baby

I realize the hypocritical folly in shouting at a toddler to stop screaming at every little thing, but you know, sometimes I just can't stop myself. Man, that baby's got lungs. It's like living with a two-foot-tall fire truck siren.

Here are a few dialogue samples:

D-: M-, don't take that toy away from me!
M-: Aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!
Me: M-, get down off that stair...
M-: Aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!
J-: M-, put down that knife!
M-: Aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!! (stab)
M-: Hun-gee!
Me: M-, are you hungry?
M-: Nohhh!!
Me: Well, why did you say "hungry" then?
M-: Aaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!

Okay, so one of those is made up, but if you heard her scream, you wouldn't think it was far behind.

24 March 2008

Developments at our house, Vol. 3

Some more developments at our house in the past few days:

1. I accidentally left M- unattended with a yogurt cup on the coffee table, and I didn't end up with yogurt all over the couch, or anything at all for that matter. We must be making progress.

2. D- discovered the ability to step on his own finger, and how frustrating it is when you have no one to blame but yourself for pain.

3. M- sneezed and a miniature (appropriately enough) chocolate chip flew out of her mouth and hit my foot. I have no idea where she got this from, so I've gone ahead and assumed that D- dropped one at some point earlier in the week. It's too strange to ponder beyond that.

4. Possibly in an attempt to top M- and her chocolate chip, D- turned up at my brother's fiancee's bridal shower this weekend (at my parents' house) chewing on an unidentified black chunk of something. This was brought to my attention, since he was showing it off upon request but was unable to explain what it was.

I took a look at it and had no more luck recognizing it, and all I could get out of him was that he found it somewhere at our house before we left. The closest thing I could guess it was is half a dried blueberry (uncooked, hence all the chewing) from the "Mixed Berry" oatmeal he had the previous day. Again, guessing beyond that is too intimidating.

5. M- has begun insistently calling out "Deet! Deet!!" (meaning "teeth", not the potent insecticide) and tugging on pant legs whenever any of us are brushing our teeth, standing near a tooth brush, using or standing near any other type of brush, or whenever she remembers she has teeth. Apparently we won't have to worry too much about dental hygiene with either of our kids. J-'s curse may be broken already.

6. D- was sitting on the couch staring off into space, then he suddenly said "What? Did you say something?" I said, "Nope." He thought for a second and said, "Did I?"

Space cadet, indeed.

Note: Here are the other volumes.

23 March 2008

Merry Eastermas

There's just nothing better to recognize the death and resurrection of your favorite savior than purchasing and consuming the very finest hard liquors available at what are quite simply the best prices in town, if the Easter Sale flyer I received from a local liquor store this week is any indication.

This just begs one multi-part question, for me-- since even winos deserve Easter excitement, I wonder if bourbon shots would leak out of those plastic Easter eggs, and if so, how big of a market would there be for watertight eggs intended for imbibing such spirits for the Lord? And if this market was to be capitalized, would there be a marked enough decrease in church attendance on Easter morning to warrant a much-sought condemnation from the Pope?

At our house, we'll leave this question rhetorical and stick with the candy in baskets. But then, I would posit that eating five eggs' worth of jelly beans at once could leave you in much the same state as taking an equal portion of booze. M-, for one, is definitely already drunk on the power of eagerly calling out "meh-whoa!" to get a mini marshmallow placed in her hand. Her judgment clouded, she decided this morning to steal D-'s egg of marshmallows and run to the other room to devour them as quickly as possible.

Even Ms. Chubbycheeks was clearly at maximum capacity by the time we found where she had gone to. But by the look on her face, she felt it was worth it. Luckily the Easter Bunny left the rest of the marshmallow bag in the cabinet...

One parting note; D- has already nailed down the spirit of Easter, and by extension Christmas-- he told M- she should climb back down off the stairs, as Daddy was demanding, because, "You should not do naughty things on Easter!" As an aside to my dad and me, as much as to continue his mentoring of his sister, he added, "You only do good things, so you can get stuff." I asked if that was what it was all about, and he confirmed that yes, yes it is.

So there you have it. Take that, Hokey Pokey!

22 March 2008

Do not fill above this line!

Please tread on meSeven things that spring to mind whenever I see these dumpsters with American flags painted on them:

1. That's right-- "Don't tread on me" is for all you old people! My generation boldly declares that we'll accept a substantial amount of your oppressive garbage, but only up to a preset point. And even then, it's really only a guideline. (Proud salute, and a single tear.)

2. Just burning the flag is for pussies! Why set it on fire when you can instead fill it with the biggest, most filthy pieces of trash around, and then steadily chip away at it until it's obliterated into a mere mud-stained memory?

3. This is a Bush Republican's idea of true patriotism.

4. " 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore' ...and I will imprison them in a rancid dumpster for the low, low price of $5,000 a month!"

5. Does it count for proper disposal of an old flag to throw it in this thing, instead of ceremonially burning it?

6. What's next? American flag g-strings, handkerchiefs, tampons, and adult diapers? "For only the most discerning and incontinent of patriots."

7. The United States Flag Code should be more widely publicized, and it should absolutely be enforced for corporations.

21 March 2008

Developments at our house, Vol. 2

Some more developments at our house in the past day or so:

1. D- declared while standing in our shower yesterday that "it smells like Hot Pepsi." I have no idea what this means, and when pressed, it became clear that he didn't either.

2. M- has developed a need... a need for speed. She got her first taste yesterday of D-'s old Power Wheels Lil' Quad ATV, and she was very disappointed to have worn the battery out. To quote her as she stood up on the running boards in her knee-high leather boots (another story), fruitlessly mashing the red ignition button, "Go, go, go!!!"

3. D- has decided that he thoroughly enjoyed my explanation of how even big kids sometimes make bad decisions (we live right near a junior high school...), because their brains are growing a lot in a short time, just like little kids' brains. His new favorite word to say over and over is "teenagers". I foresee saying that one a lot myself, with a much different tone, in about 10 years.

4. J- has been staying at my parents' house during my sister's Spring Break, as they try to finish the planning and preparation for the wedding shower they are throwing my brother's fiancee tomorrow. We've decided life is much less fun without Mooooommmmma around.

(We aren't all staying over since the shower will be at my parents' house, and they said something about kids and their messes being counterproductive to cleaning...)

5. The TV made a liar out of me after I told D- that there wasn't enough snow yet to go sledding today (which is true). After watching Lilo and Stitch (awesome movie, by the way), the DVR went back to the news just long enough for D- to see a kid "making the best out of this unwelcome return to winter" by sledding down over the vaguely white grass. We just sat and watched in silence, probably with the same unfortunate expression on our faces.

I knew there was a reason I get all my news from the Internet.

Note: Here are the other volumes.

20 March 2008

How much snow for Cancun?

What does today, the official first day of spring, hold for beautiful Chicagoland, Illinois?
The daytime looks relatively promising: "Partly Sunny - Hi 38°F"
But then for the evening, we're back to business as usual: "Heavy Snow (Chance for Measurable Precipitation 90%) - Lo 31°F"

Can't we get a meeting with whoever decides these things (I know some people have an easy answer to this, of course) and reset the seasons so we actually get a White Christmas and an agreeable Spring?

Does anyone wonder why so many people feel compelled to go away to Florida and beyond for so-called Spring Break? Think of all the girls who could be going wild north of the Mason-Dixon line! What about us cheap bastards? Are we to just be left behind in the mucky chill (at best) to be depressed by the fact that by the time the weather gets any better our break will be long over?

Lucky for me, I no longer have this dilemma, as I no longer have anything resembling a "Spring Break"...


19 March 2008

Five years later.

It may seem as unbelievable to you as it does to me, but it has been five years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Whatever you may think of that and everything that goes with it, today didn't seem like a day to post about something else.

Let's just hope everyone involved on every side can suddenly grow up and figure this all out, so both Americans (and other nations' troops) and Iraqis can get out of harms' way as soon as possible.

Here's hoping five things, one for each year: 1) the non-Iraqi extremists and troublemakers leave the country soon; 2) the people can pick up the pieces of their lives shortly after; 3) an independent and genuine government comes to power, without undue influence of self-interested Americans and their massive permanent military bases; 4) the full truth is eventually revealed about why and how our troops were sent there; and 5) all those responsible for crimes against our nation, its ideals, and humanity at large will be held accountable and punished like any common felon.

And most of all, here's to the nearly 4,000 American soldiers, hundreds of "coalition" soldiers, and the tragically uncounted hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives, as well as all those injured, as a result of this horrifically unplanned invasion.

Let's do better in the future, for ourselves, our children, and all the people who share this world with us.

18 March 2008

Age is wasted on the elderly

I've decided that it's more fun to be a kid than an adult.

In the interests of full disclosure, I decided this long ago, even before I entered kindergarten. (I was no sucker, going to school before I actually had to...) My mom often tells of a day near my fourth birthday when she asked if I was excited to be turning four. I answered that no, I wasn't, because three was just fine.

I still stand by that answer. If anything, I probably believe in it even more strongly, having now followed up my experience of being a 3-year-old by spending every day for almost a year with a 3-year-old. This was purely for research, of course. I'll be packing him up and shipping him back to the dealer once he turns four.

Seriously though, after all this careful observation, I can tell you that for as much that has changed in the past 20 years, not much is truly different, at least where our nation's 3-year-olds are concerned. Big hobbies still include playing, running, shouting, spouting nonsense, and thinking of cute and unintentionally amusing things to say.

Meanwhile, old people just keep getting older and less fun. This is largely due to a preponderance of unfun activities presented to us as Necessary Parts of Being an Adult. Big hobbies include working, walking at a reasonable speed, muttering, worrying, accruing debt, and thinking things through.

I'd trade my Maturity, Knowledge, and Experience in a heartbeat to live the carefree life of a child, but I'm told it's too late to change teams. (Also, it hasn't worked out that well for Britney Spears.) At least I have some hope, though, because I've heard that one way to mitigate the effects of age is to spend more time with those not yet suffering its ravages, and I've got that base more than covered.

17 March 2008

The great and holy St. Padraig's Day

It's on days like today that I reflect upon what a crazy life I've led since I last walked the hallowed halls of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Fall of 2003. Marriage, two kids, two cross-country moves... who knows what's next? I just know that college is another world quite far away from this one:

I managed to catch this rare shot of a dancin' leprechaunFor the scholars in the aptly named Champaign, IL, today is the unwelcome end to the St. Patrick's Day Weekend, which traditionally begins, at the latest, the Thursday preceding the day itself and ends on whichever is later of the day itself or the end of the weekend, which may or may not extend several days into the week.

Other notable events around these parts are that the city of Chicago dyed the river a slightly different shade of green than usual, a bunch of people marched in the street Saturday afternoon for reasons unclear, and lots of UIUC alums spent the weekend reliving their college days.

I've always felt a special connection to St. Patrick's Day, since it's my middle name. I always hated it for some reason (probably to do with my brothers' declarations, as with so many other things, that it should be a source of shame), and it was nice to have a day celebrating it. Unfortunately, since I'm not religious and not much of a drinker, there's little left to do on the day except try to remember to wear a green shirt, or something.

Celebration accomplished!


16 March 2008

Part of a balanced breakfast

Let me tell you, there's nothing like waking up to the sight of this first thing in the morning:

A bird presumably died shortly after blasting out its insides sideways all over our windowCurious what that might be? You shouldn't be.

But since you're still reading, I'll tell you.

That's avian feces that somehow managed to travel roughly dead east with enough velocity to slice through the screen and spray itself all over the inside window. How this was achieved, and whether the bird from which it was deployed actively hates us or merely felt compelled to send us a message, I do not know.

What I do know is that the effect is even more disgusting than any picture could ever do justice. I think I'll stop writing about it now, just as we've tried to stop looking at it whenever we go in the dining room.

Any cleaning tips for the screen? I'd like to take care of this mess before any of Buzzy's relatives come in for Fly Thanksgiving.

15 March 2008

Beware the dentist in March!

On this day, the Ides of March, I believe we should all be as idle as possible, out of respect for the opportunity to have an excuse to be more idle than usual.

To this end, M- found a travel See'n'Say at the bottom of the toy box and she has since chosen to spend the entire day laying on her stomach on a blanket, pushing the button over and over again. Since M- is unavailable for anything as strenuous as playing, that leaves D- no choice but to race a Matchbox car back and forth across our coffee table as many times as he can before I go insane from the repetitive noises filling our house.

Meanwhile, J- is napping to get over her ordeal at the dentist's office, leaving me to suffer alone. Don't tell the kids, who think that going to the dentist is Very Fun, but even though J- is slavishly devoted to our very friendly dentist, her horrible childhood experiences with bitter old tooth-torturers in rural Maine still make it hard for her to smile and not clench the armrests while he pokes her mouthful of denial-related cavities. Poor J-.

Only one more filling to go!

14 March 2008

Bites of spring

For any of you out there still confused on the point, the difference between a 3-year-old and an adult is that when the First Fly of Spring (much less celebrated than the boring old First Robin) is discovered in the house, the adult will begin hunting him with a cup and paper (or a flyswatter, if you're into big gross messes), while the 3-year-old will instantly decide that not only will this fly answer when called, but that his name must logically be Buzzy.

A common housefly [Hertwig, Richard (1909). A Manual of Zoology, p. 492]We were successful in sending lil Buzzy out into the world today, but I have a feeling he was just the first of many of his ilk who will grace our apartment this year, based on the fact that it's still March and it's only been mildly warm (40s-50s) for a few days already.

I thought I might be imagining it when I first heard that familiar buzzing against the window this morning, but alas, the sight of poor Buzzy mercilessly abusing his exoskeleton in sheer fury told me I was not. Oh well, at least he isn't a biting blackfly like back in Maine.

I think we'll just spend the next few months pretending the same fly is sneaking back into our apartment over and over again, since that seems like more fun.

And so it shall be. Welcome to our home, Buzzy.

13 March 2008

Do the sweeping, Cinderelly

M- was suddenly inspired to earn her keepApparently M- read my dishwasher post and is trying to pitch in to earn my love. Good girl!

Note: This wasn't my idea-- she grabbed the broom out of the closet when I opened it, as she often does, but this time she took off across the house actually trying to sweep. After taking this picture, I traded her for a more manageable hand broom, so she could push crumbs around the floor for a few minutes. I don't think she fully understood the purpose of this activity, but then it took me awhile, too.

12 March 2008

Portrait of the dishwasher of a young man

I just wanted to share with you all one of the not-so-minor joys of my life: my dishwasher.
The mighty tower of cleaning power... "'twere profanation of our joys / To tell the laity our love"This is not just some ordinary dishwasher, though dishwashers in general are right below the washing machine and microwave for the greatest inventions of the 20th century. I guess the refrigerator would have to figure in there somewhere as well, but even the car takes a back seat to the ability for me to put all my faith into a machine that washes dishes for me.

I never feel like dishes that are hand-washed by me are really, actually clean. As I put those dishes back in the cabinet, I feel a secret shame that people will assume in looking at them later that they were cleaned, when in reality they were merely wiped with soap and water until I couldn't see any more specks on them. The dishwasher, my friend, absolutely neutralizes all dirt and contamination at extremely high temperatures. Nothing is cleaner. Don't disillusion me, please.

Anyway, my particular dishwasher (a White-Westinghouse) is more than just a dishwasher-- it is an apartment-sized, portable, four-wheeled wonder that only cost me $10 at a moving sale. Almost 4 years ago back in Maine, we were lucky to come upon someone desperate to sell it the day before they officially moved to a house that already had a full-sized dishwasher. Granted, it was probably about 10 years old at that point, and someone had inadvisably clipped the grounding prong off the plug, but after easily installing a $2 heavy-duty grounded appliance plug, we were in business with what would be a $400 appliance to buy new.

This dishwasher has already made it through one cross-town move and one cross-country move, and it's still going strong. Sure, a couple of years ago it went through a minor bout of incontinence, but that cleared up as quickly and mysteriously as it occurred. And one of the casters broke during our first move, but even that broken caster (possibly part of the source of the incontinence) held the thing up for about a year before I finally remembered to buy a new one. Now it's better than new and glides like a dream.

I think I just might even love it more than my children. In my defense, neither of my children has yet washed even one dish for me.

If you think I have an unhealthy obsession with this dishwasher, you may be right. But if this is wrong, then I want to be very, very wrong. Sigh...

11 March 2008

Kiki's delivery service

Because my sister Katie lives away at school (and of course because she's also a fun person), she is a highly sought-after commodity amongst the chilluns in our house. For example, whenever any of us are on the phone, M- has now officially switched over from endlessly calling out "Dado" (pronounced "DAH-dough"-- it's my dad's grandfather-name, which is Irish) to endlessly calling out "Kiki".

When she gets the phone, and it actually is Katie, M- is beyond triumphant, and she will walk casually around our apartment for an impressively long time, actually talking to Katie as best she can at her age (a few months past a year).

Every few weeks, M- gets the extra pleasure of delighting Katie with her enthusiasm in the flesh, and M- lets her know the feeling is mutual by running up and hugging her upon arrival. This, I think, may be what keeps Katie leaving her fabulous, glamorous university life to visit us all as often as she does.

Note: In reference to the title, J- and I highly recommend Kiki's Delivery Service along with all the other movies of Hayao Miyazaki we've seen: Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and, to a lesser extent, Princess Mononoke. This is true whether or not you are Japanimation fanatics (which we're certainly not) or have children.

10 March 2008

Let's charge $50 for aspirin

A random picture of pills from WikipediaThis is just what we need-- now the drug companies will never make their products more affordable:

Pricey pills work better even when they're fake

09 March 2008

Spending my daylight time

Apparently we forgot to tell M- that Daddy was promised she would wake up an hour later today...

Let me just say that, children aside, I still hate Daylight Saving Time. I think it's antiquated and unnecessary, regardless of the purported side benefits of fewer car accidents at rush hour and less energy consumed overall. I'm too tired to think of how these aspects are offset somewhere else, but I know they are.

I wish more states (and countries) would rebel and we could all just give up the ridiculousness.

This agony is not worth the one day with an hour of extra sleep. Especially when kids just wake up an hour earlier then, anyway. Damn well-rested children.

08 March 2008

A conversation with D-: The mysterious stranger

The other day I rediscovered how fun it is to immediately announce where my son is hiding after he tells me to ask "Where's D-?" while hiding himself. He doesn't know how to react to this, and the resulting awkward moment, in which he rediscovers the meaning of betrayal, is a great stress reliever for me.

He might grow into a great hide-and-seeker all by himself, but with my help, he can be The Best.

Here's a typical sample:

D-: When I hide, say (overly demonstrative) "Where's D-??"

Me: Okay!

(D- hides.)

Me: Where's D-?? ...Oh there he is, hiding under the blanket on the couch again!

D- remains silent for just a moment, in confusion. Then, in a muffled voice, presumably attempting to sound like a passerby, he throws me off the scent.

Passerby(?): No, he's not!

Me: (impressively keeping a straight face-- I'm a professional, after all) Yes, he is! He's hid there 10 times already this morning, plus I can see his foot sticking out!

After a moment's hesitation, D- then pops out from under the blanket with an expectant look, as if he has not overheard any of my exchange with the mysterious stranger.

Me: Yep, see-- there he is!

He then gets up to eagerly find a fresh hiding place, and I laugh hysterically to myself at my evilness. This seeker does not countenance lazy hiders.

Note: I only do this once in a while-- I'm not that big a jerk. I usually only do it when he hides in the exact same place 20 times in a row and I am bored out of my skull by it. I would also like to note that I was once driven to do this when D- was playing with his cousin of the same age, and the results were possibly more than twice the fun.

More Conversations with D-.

07 March 2008

I like me a self-serve baby

As M- gets older, I'm taken back to the glorious days before I was able to take for granted how many things D- could do for himself. Each day I was amazed by some new thing he mastered. You see, as a parent, and as a human, my goal in all areas is to be as lazy as legally allowed, and this stretch of self-sufficiency for the kiddos is a big part of that effort.

Of course, I will never take for granted that D- can use the toilet completely by himself (and it is absolutely still the high point of this cycle), but all the other little things just kind of fade into distant memories as you take on new challenges. You can never be fully prepared for all the little things you have to do for a baby (including pre-chewing their food, for some-- thankfully that's not so common in this country...), and when you're hit with all of them at once, they just kind of blur together. Once the kid grows up, those little things all disappear together and you get spoiled. This is how people end up with more than one child.

Granted, that helpless baby phase does not end all at once, but in some children, it certainly seems to. For example, as I discussed yesterday, M- has suddenly burst forward in her speaking abilities, and she seems in it to win it. Similarly, back in December, before she was 1, she just began walking outright all of a sudden after a select few test steps in the week or so before that. There was no middle ground, no real learning phase. And around the same time, she popped out one, two, four, then six teeth total, all in the span of a week or two.

I really can't fully describe all the things she can do and understand versus a month ago, but I think I can pretty much sum it up in one anecdote:

Through much of her first year, M- had to be held while sleeping, or she would wake up and scream, and almost literally never sleep. This was not for lack of trying on J-'s and my part-- I think you all must realize by now that I can be a "terrible father" with the best of them. I mean, God made earplugs for a few reasons, and one of those was to show your children you really, really aren't listening and they just have to deal with whatever they're screaming about.

Now, M-'s a cosmopolitan baby that will sleep anywhere you lay her down (at the right time, of course) and when she wakes up, she merely calls patiently for her entertainment committee (D-) to dance a jig in front of her crib till Daddy comes to get her. But what's more, now that she has harnessed the power of speech, at exactly 10:40 this morning, she put down her toy, looked up at me, and said "nigh-nighhhhh" several times until I picked her up and confirmed the message was received. Nap 1 went down like clockwork, then she did the same thing again about 2 hours later.
"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."

06 March 2008

Developments at our house, Vol. 1

Some developments at our house in the past day or so:

1. Last night, I offered M- a bottle of milk since she was trying to steal D-'s cup. She looked frustrated as she took a step back, shook her head, and then surprised herself by saying "No" in a very thoughtful way. Against my better judgment and future sanity with regards to this particular word, I praised her for speaking her mind.

This goes along with her saying "mo' " several times recently when signing for more, the dozen other words we got her to say later on last night (including "yeah", "car", "kitty", "shiny", "hurt", "sorry", [see #7 below]"dude", and "poopy"), and the ones she has been saying for awhile now (such as "daddy", "momma", the names of most of my family, "hi", "bye-bye", "doggy", "guy", "go", "wow", "uh-oh", and "nigh'-nigh' "). Unsurprisingly, I cannot get her to say any of these this morning.

2. D- has inexplicably taken to speaking in a 3-year-old's approximation of a southern accent. I would place it somewhere around Imaginary Tennessee.

3. Just as J- was finishing up changing M-'s diaper, M- suddenly flipped over, stood up, grabbed the old diaper, and ran across the room while shaking it vigorously. Was there Number 2? Oh yes, of course there was.

I never thought I'd say it, but thank god for constipation...

4. D- has decided that wearing camouflage pajamas requires him to repeatedly march with a mean face towards the TV, point at his reflection, shoot himself with screwdriver, and then fall down dead. I'm not sure where he learned this, but he may soon be joined by 20,000 more 3-year-olds seeking to put a stop to this menacing force.

5. M- discovered that tossing an aptly-named throw pillow on the floor provides her with a portable and comfy seat from which her feet only just touch the floor (if you can believe it). She also found out the painful way that on such an uneven surface, bouncing on one's bottom out of sheer joy at this discovery will cause one's head to hit the floor surprisingly hard almost as many times as one tries it.

6. I learned that a 1-year-old will actually struggle to find her brother hiding under a blanket right where he was sitting for the past half an hour, even when said brother is giggling uncontrollably. (She eventually found him, but only after walking around for several minutes calling him with her hands turned up in a "Where on Earth did he go?!" posture.)

7. J- learned that you never tell a baby she can't have the phone back immediately after hanging up on her aunt, because that baby will be bound by Baby Law to shriek once loudly and then head butt you in the mouth at full force.

Note: Here are the other volumes.

05 March 2008

Mommy's new watch

Get your Mom & Me watches FREE!I don't know how many of you have seen this, but Rice Krispies boxes (at the very least) currently have an irresistible offer of "Mom & Me" watches. As you can see, these watches are not cartoonishly juvenile and cheap, but rather they are classy, understated, and a steal at twice the price.

All the box demands is that Mommy take off her boring old watch (one that can never be counted on to spice things up by losing or gaining time intermittently throughout the day), and replace it with this one, which is clearly the only genuine way a parent can express love and solidarity with her offspring.

I can only conclude that Snap, Crackle, and Pop hate fathers, as they fully exclude them from this offer. I'll get along, somehow...

04 March 2008

Corporate intelligence, Vol. 1: Citibank/AT&T

You know what ridiculous e-mail I got from Citibank the other day? One suggesting I add them to my address book to make sure I never miss an e-mail from them.

I think it goes without saying that if their messages were being filtered out, I would not have received this helpful tip.

That's almost as delightful as this hilarious Important Notice I got in my phone bill recently (emphasis mine):

Over the last several months, we've transformed the AT&T brand to reflect our commitment to our on-the-go customers. As more customers seek to stay connected at home and on the road, we're borrowing from our mobility group and including more orange throughout our communications. In the next two months, you'll see more AT&T orange on your bills. Why? We're in the business of keeping you connected, and we want you to know it.

Thank god they let me know!! What would I have thought when I got my bill if I hadn't been forewarned?!?

03 March 2008


Building on her success in signing for "more" to get what she wants, M- has moved on into attempts at speech, in a big way. When she's concerned we're not getting her 20-time-daily-feeding message, or when she wants to celebrate that we got her message, she will smile and say "Eeeee! Eeeeeee!!" (for "eat") as she steadily approaches us or the food source:
A tiny zombie craving more yogurt-y braaaaaiiiinnnsAnd in case you were wondering, yes, she does quite resemble a zombie repeating a single syllable as she toddles over, rocking from side to side in that "leave me alone, I'm still learning to walk" way that 1-year-olds do.

Meanwhile, J- and I are stuck watching in horror, feeling an oppressive wave of impending doom, knowing we may be destined to live the next year either in front of a high chair, allowing a child to feed herself from the floor (because that's where all food ends up when M-'s in charge of it), or strapping a feed bag to said baby's face and hoping Child Services isn't making surprise housecalls that day. It's a tough situation to be in, but I know I'll make the right call.

I'm just not sure which call that is at the moment.

02 March 2008

Diapering as a spectator sport

M- unwillingly posing, hand in mouthLately, D- has taken an increasingly proprietary attitude towards M-, not meaning that he wants to set clear divisions of who owns what (at least not that much) but rather that he seems to believe that he owns her, or at least as much as J- and I do.

At the same time, he also has more than a passing interest in bodily functions, which is to be expected, but this results in a sometimes-awful combination when it comes to diaper-changing time, (along with other times, of course). He thoroughly enjoys using his developing vocabulary to expound upon the properties of M-'s output.

Here's what went on Friday after J- got home and discovered a less-than-immaculate baby:

J-: (laying M- down and handing her a bear she wanted, before depantsing her and employing the standard baby-talk voice) Now, you be a good baby and play with that bear! I'm gonna change your poopy little diaper!

D-: (superhumanly eager, akin to the old Shake n' Bake girl) And I'm gonna watch!!

J-: (finding the eagerness disconcerting, she makes an executive decision) No... no you're not.

D-: Why not?

J-: Cause M- needs some privacy, like when you go to the bathroom.

She then began to change M-, and she immediately noticed D- "casually" walking by the couch and peeking around her back to estimate the relative impressiveness of M-'s byproducts.

J-: D-, get away! I told you to give M- some privacy!

D-: I'm just walkin' around!!

J-: Go walk to the other room!

Once she was done, J- let D- know he could come back, but he very clearly was pretending not to hear her before saying "What?"

She asked, "Don't you want to come back in the room?" and he very dryly answered that no, he did not want to come back right now, as if there was no reason for us to assume he would ever want to be in that room during his work day.

I just can't wait till toilet training, round two.

01 March 2008

It's NaBloPoMo fo LitDa

I had planned to do this in November, but now that NaBloPoMo (National Blog Publishing Month) is expanding to any month of the year, I am going to publish a new entry each day of the month of March.

So this is entry number one, but I promise they won't all be super simple like this. I've been consistently posting about 5 days a week so far, so I really just need to come up with about 8 more posts this month, which shouldn't be too hard.

I won't dare attempt Blog365 (you can imagine what that means) until I am much more seasoned. Besides, since 2008 has 366 days, I would just be doomed to failure from the start. I can see doing 365 posts, but 366? Come on.

I'm not promising I won't be so hard-pressed sometime this month that I won't do a whole post of nonsense akin to the title of this post... HoDoThaSo?