Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Here's hoping you've had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Joyous Kwanzaa! We certainly had a Merry Christmas here.

I apologize to the 3 regular readers of my blog for having not written for such a long time. There have been three extenuating circumstances:
1. I recently got freaked out by some of the traffic finding its way to my little slice of life of the web. I use sitemeter to see how many visitors end up visiting my blog. It gives some statistics on when people are coming and who referred them. Recently, some people (monsters) stumbled on my blog using a search engine to query terms that should never be written in close proximity to each other. I won't repeat them, but you can make some assumptions given that I post and discuss photographs, relive some of the potty training stories inherent with raising small children, and, of course, sing the praises of my (and others') children. More than ever, I feel the need to not use my children's names. So, when I find the time, energy, and know-how I am going to revamp everything. Any suggestions from fellow bloggers would be most appreciated. The sheer magnitude of such an undertaking has deterred me from blogging recently.

2. The inherent holiday hecticness. The holiday parties. Shopping. Wrapping. Etc.

3. I have been battling a cold, such that even when I do have the time I cannot muster the mental energy.

May you have a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Town Parade

Our town parade was held this past Friday. We met with three other families and the kids got to hang out and enjoy the parade together. It was awesome, a bit short, but I think just the right length for the kids in the cold. Afterward, one of the families invited everyone over for hot chocolate and wine. I love when these impromptu gatherings just happen.

My Girl

Just a beautiful picture.

I won't stand for even the dolls becoming smarter than I

This must be nipped in the bud.

Practice squad called into action

Finally updated Thanksgiving post from Draft status to published. Click or scroll down to read.

File under: Funny things they say

Yesterday, I was trying to help my wife find an outfit for this holiday party to which we've been invited. I ended up on the Banana Republic website -- remember when BR was safari-inspired clothing? They've come so far around that their name and its connotation has little if anything to do with their apparel. I guess if ain't broke, don't fix it. Anyway, I digress, Lulu saw this image, pointed and said, "Mommy!"

Today, I was on my isp's portal page and they had an article about the House voting on the Intelligence bill. The image accompanying the article was an image of the Capitol Building. LuLu points at it and says, "Nonna's house." Sorry LuLu, Nonna and Pop-pop's house is nice, but certainly much, much, more modest.

The other day, Four, LuLu, and I were eating lunch together. We'd had a busy weekend and we were all visibly tired. I started talking about all of us taking naps after lunch. I was really making a great case for the benefits of naps, and thought I was making some real progress, when Four turns to me and says, "Dad, I'm not a big fan of sleeping."

One day this weekend, Four came into our room before sunrise. He starts cuddling in our bed, we start trying to talk him into going back to his bed, when he climbs up on M, gets right in her ear, and whispers, "Mommy, do you want to watch the sun come up with me?" Who can resist that. The two of them ended up at the window in the hall bath waiting for the sun.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Santa at the Lake!

Four with Santa
Santa made his annual visit to our Lake for photos and receiving of lists. Four did well. I guess LuLu is getting coal, she wouldn't sit with the giant elf.

'Mr Mommy'

Today, at lunch, the boy child called me 'Mommy' by mistake. I replied, "Just don't call me Mr. Mom." Well, this was all my two progeny needed. Lunch erupted in a chorus of "Mister Mommy" and "Mitta Mom-mee". I pretended to be mad, and that my head was exploding. We were all belly laughing. It was fun.

I have plenty more content to post, especially from the busy Thanksgiving weekend (Happy Belated, btw) -- I've just been too busy or tired to write it down. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Practice Squad Called Up!

Wednesday morning around 8AM the phone rings. Its my Mom. She is not feeling well and did not want to expose my grandmother and her brother's father-in-law to whatever it was that she was experiencing. Could we hold Thanksgiving at our house? Of course, I said. Thankfully, my parents (with some help from my sister) were still planning to do the bird, potatoes, and stuffing, as they would've done if were at my parents. Everyone else was bringing a vegetable, salad, or dessert. We were still slated to do our sweet potato casserole (tried an awesome new recipe this year), but otherwise, we didn't have to do much, just provide a place to be Thankful together. Well, and we bought plenty of wine and liquor in case any of the less Thankful had to be coerced into conformity. The day went off without a hitch, except that my Mom and Dad weren't here. But, as it turns out, my mother's stomach ailment was appendicitis. The offending organ was removed on Turkey day -- perhaps some non-coincidental act of retribution by a malevolent turkey deity somewhere -- and they had her up and walking that day. She was released from the hospital the next. LuLu's nose running like Niagara Falls and the fear of my mom coughing and sneezing with still healing stomach muscle incisions prevented a visit that weekend. While everyone had a great time, and M and I have thought about the days when we'd host Thanksgiving, I've not yet given my mom a hard time for ducking out of Thanksgiving duties, but at least next year, she'll have to come up with something more creative. Last I heard, you only get one appendix.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
View the rest of the pics.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Supersize Us!

The other night M and I watched (or tried to watch) Supersize Me. M made it through, I fell asleep. A total reversal of roles, but I guess it happens. One part that I did see talked about how even though the food is pretty well-known to be not an integral part of a well-balanced diet (i.e. it isn't real good for you), the Golden Arches can found everywhere including inside some hospitals. I didn't think much of it. As I've never seen them in any of the hospitals I've been in. Another part of the movie that I saw talked about how McDonald's works to ingratiate the youth. Again, I didn't think much of it, I take the kids there once in a while as a special treat but very infrequently and certainly with no regularity. But the two pieces came together on Monday when I took Four to his doctor appointment at DuPont. In the waiting area, there is a train table that the kids love to play with. And there in bright yellow and red is a fully McDonald's train. One of the experts in the documentary called this "brand imprinting for later actuation in life." Another compared the 10,000 ad and marketing exposures that children face to the roughly 1,000 opportunities for the family that eats every meal together to encourage healthy eating habits. Good Luck!

Fly Eagles Fly!

As an early Christmas present, my sister treated me to my first visit to the Linc. With some help from the Birds, the visit was extra special as the Eagles improved their record to a league best 9-1 by trouncing the Redskins 28-6. (Sorry Russ.) It was a great game and we had a great time. Jess and I may have been two of the loudest in the crowd and although we couldn't have been much further from the field, I like to think that we played an integral part in the victory. Andy Reid was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, "I give a lot of credit to our fans. They did a great job with the noise level in that stadium. It was tough for Washington to hear, particularly when they were down there at the 10-yard line." So, Thanks Jess, and Andy, you're welcome!

In a related story, M took the kids to her p's for the game. Her brother, his wife, and 13 month baby were there also to take in the game and have dinner. Her brother had taught his daughter to raise her arms like the refs whenever the Eagles score a touchdown. I didn't see it, but apparently its pretty cute. Today, LuLu was yelling, "Tutz...Down!"

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Price of Admission

It's Not the High Cost of Living...It's the Cost of Living High.
No, no. Not that kind of high.
You may have read that we bought a mini-van. Well, one day last week I was talking to some neighbors about missing a neighborhood party the same day we took delivery of the van. I was sick and had lost my voice. I was telling them how frustrating it was to not be able to appropriately voice my frustration about the vehicle not being ready after we signed the papers, and we ended up waiting and waiting and waiting with both kids and no car as we had just signed over our Explorer. More on that later. One of the ladies asks, "Oh what did you get? The Volvo?" Apparently, the XC90 is becoming the vehicle of choice for the well-to-do stay-at-home moms in the hood. I replied that there are already too many of those in our neighborhood, that we needed more room than the XC90 offered, and that my tree-hugging background just wouldn't allow me to buy a smaller vehicle that ate more fuel. I just found it funny that she made the assumption that we had bought the status sled.

In a related story, I was at the mall one day. I found myself in Nordstrom buying shoes for LuLu at the annual Women and Childrens Sale. This very-well dressed customer ended up helping me match some shoes to an outfit I had previously purchased at Janie and Jack. After we had found something adorable and were coincidently paying at the same time, she turns to me and says, "I noticed that you had a Janie and Jack bag. Is that boutique in the mall?" I told her yes and that I had gone a bit overboard and that most of it was probably going back. I further told her that it was a shame that their sizing stopped at 4T and that I couldn't shop for my son there any more. She says, "I just hate when they outgrow the boutiques." She must have used the word "boutique" about 5 times in our brief conversation. It struck me odd, as if she could only shop in a store exclusive enough to be called a boutique.

These experiences underscore this epidemic of affluenza running rampant across our society. I, too, fall prey to the ever-present marketing and merchandising that bombards our daily experience, but I try to temper it somewhat by putting on the brakes when I can. I often remind myself of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Koy Detmer who does the bulk of his wardrobe shopping at Target and rapper/actor Ice Cube's passion for bulk shopping. And then there are the words of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson:

         Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your soul? Is it cold?
Is it straight from the mold, and ready to be sold?

And cars and phones and diamond rings,
Bling, bling, because those are only removable things.
And what about your mind? Does it shine?
Are there things that concern you, more than your time?

Gone, the wind.
Gone, everything.
Gone, don’t give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don’t wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things,

Look at you, out to make a deal.
You try to be appealing, but you lose your appeal.
And what about those shoes you’re in today?
They’ll do no good, on the bridges you burnt along the way.

Are you willing to sell, anything?
Gone, with your head.
Leave your footprints,
And we’ll shame them with our words.
Gone, people, all careful and consumed.

Gone, gone, gone, everything.
Gone, don’t give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don’t wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things, Gone.

Just something I think about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Click Elmo!

M was surfing the site with LuLu and Four the other night. Four was driving the mouse, and at one point, Liv starts and keeps saying, "Click Elmo, Click Elmo, Click Elmo..." It's amazing how much she is speaking and understanding. Tonight I was running around with the kids on my back -- one at a time of course -- and after each of Four's turns LuLu would say, "I want my turn." Not quite that clear but I am too tired at this hour to think about the more realistic phonetic spelling.

Back on 11/8 (as captured in my planner) the icemaker dropped some ice into the bin while we were eating lunch. Four asked (as he does for just about any noise in the house), "What was that?" LuLu answers, "Iish. Iish."

Again playing catch up, several nights ago Four came into our room in the middle of the night. M asks, "What is it?" Four replies, "I just have to tell Daddy a joke." Walks around to my side of the bed. "Daddy, you better check your ears -- bunny ears." And with that, he turns and marches right back to bed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


For some time now, I have been asking Four, "Capisce?" (italian for "Understand") when discussing things and trying to gauge his listening and understanding. We've coached him to answer, "Capisce." when he gets it. Yesterday, I was speaking to LuLu about some behavior type thing, now I don't even remember what it was, but I asked her, "Do you understand?" She replied, "Aah-peesh." I was floored by her ability to put the two together. She's at such a fun age in terms of both physical and language development.

Well, most of the time it's fun. Tonight at dinner, she kept saying, "I don't want that" before she even got in her chair. Then, she was excused early after she and her brother kept saying "Yucky" after I had worked to make a pretty nice meal. They didn't really mean it, they just got a bit out of control. Four actually did quite well, eating raw leaf spinach and enjoying it.

The Deed is Done

We did it. We bought a van. A mini-van. But you know what it's not so bad. It's actually quite nice. It came down to the Toyota and the Honda because they were the only ones that offered Electronic Stability Control (membership required). Why ESC (or VSC or VSA or whatever acronym the various manufacturers are using)? According to Money magazine:

 Toyota found that electronic stability control reduced single-vehicle crashes in Japan by a remarkable 35% and head-on crashes by 30%. And in the European study, Mercedes-Benz, whose lineup has sported ESC as a standard feature since 1999, reported a 29% drop in single-vehicle accidents; crashes of all types fell 15%. Those kinds of results could prevent as many as 6,000 of the nearly 43,000 crash-related deaths each year in the U.S.--dramatically more than air bags, which have saved about 800 lives annually since 1987, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

So although the two vehicles command a bit of a premium over their domestic counterparts, we justified the purchase based on the thinking behind the old joke, "What's funny about safety?" "Nothing." Additionally, the two Japanese models have historically held their resale value better than the domestics. In fact, comparing True Cost to OwnSM values for earlier model years, the Honda, despite higher initial sticker price, had the lowest TCOSM values.

Between the two finalists, the Honda drives more like a sport sedan, while the Toyota drove more like a plush Cadillac -- nice just not my thing. So we went with the Odyssey. The 25 extra horses in the Honda didn't hurt either. The kids love it, and it's what works for us right now. As far as the mini-van stigma, I've decided that I didn't need to have so much of my identity wrapped up in what I drive.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Peter Pan and Tinkerbell!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

One for the Good Guys!

You may have read some of my rants about dad stereotypes portrayed in popular culture, especially advertising-- JCPenney ad ("where's your mother?"), Nissan ad ("Moms have changed shouldn't the minivan?"). Well, my sister sent me a print ad from a magazine the other day. It was a J&J baby wash product, a color photo of the product tastefully laid over a black and white of a man's soap covered hand gently touching a baby's face. The text read "As gentle as a father's touch." Thanks, J&J and JJ!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Money, money, money, money

Tonight I took Four to a birthday party thrown by one of his classmate's parents. It was at one of the indoor playpark/arcade venues. The 4 year olds seem to really love it. I ended up having to take LuLu also as M was stuck in a meeting that ended up going until 7PM. Four is getting so big, and is really learning how to play well with others -- recent behavior has had us wringing our hands and pulling out our hair (I now know why men go bald), so any positive is progress -- but more on that later. So, while Four and his classmates were entertaining themselves and each other, I would follow LuLu like a hawk and strike up a conversation with other parents when I could. Eventually, LuLu climbs into one of the ride-ons. It requires a two token payment to ride. LuLu looks at me, starts rocking and says, "Poosh. Poosh peez." I tell her that its not that kind of ride. Somehow, she figures out the economics of the situation and says, "Ma-nee. Da-dee ma-nee." How could I resist? But later I began thinking about it. My daughter, not yet 2, is already asking me for "ma-nee".

P.S. Both LuLu's top canines have finally borken through. Now the bottoms are looking ripe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Happy Birthday Four!

Celebrated Four's 4th this weekend. Our second party in just over a week. It was a good time, hectic getting ready, but a good time nonetheless. We did a barnyard theme and made sure to have some planned activities. Last year, we just figured the kids would all free play for most of the party and it just ended up feeling long. This year, the timing seemed perfect. We had a little craft for the kids to do when they arrived and allowed for freeplay for about an hour. Then we had three games; Pig Races, Duck-Duck-Goose, and Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Cake followed. I made an egg-free cake in a tractor mold pan and decorated it in John Deere colors. My brother Eric said I'd "make someone a good wife one day." Since I'm pretty confident about my role and my manhood, I took it as a compliment that I had done a pretty good job with the cake. Presents. More freeplay. Good-byes.

I think everyone had a great time and was very well behaved, even Eric.

things they say

friday night Mon sent home a link given to her by a guy she works with who's son races BMX and Motocross. I was heading out the door but she said I should check it out before leaving without giving me much detail about it. After checking it out, I had to show Four. I told him that we'd have to look into that -- I figure he'll be able to keep up on an MX bike before an MTB or road bike. He's been all excited about motocross anyway ever since spending an overnight with Mon's parents and borrowing You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown. He excitedly asked, "Where can we get that? On eBay?"

This weekend, Four's cousin was here complete with his Spiderman costume which in turn comes complete with super-jacked foam muscles. While Four had one of his many turns at wearing it, I asked him if he was "hitting the weights." He replied, "No, I've been hitting the bad guys."


LuLu calls Four's fish, whose name is dory, doo-doo. Four asked M the other day why does she call dory doo-doo. M explained that LuLu cannot yet speak as well as he can and that sometimes she does the best she can and often the result is pretty cute. Four then asked, "Did I say things like that when I was little?" M said, "Sure." Four asked, "Like what?" Let's just say we're still working on the answer. That does remind me, though, why I blog.

Friday, October 15, 2004

exquisite creature

i was just reading on the floor with LuLu and i couldn't help but notice how beautiful she is. her tiny little features so perfectly formed. her wavy, bordering curly hair, still so fine and soft. her smile. her smile is probably the most endearing of these. we are so blessed. i give thanks every day.

the book we were reading was baby einsteins boardbook babies. as a sahd, i found it a refreshing, if not subtle, look at parenting. so many of these books talk about mothers and their love for their children. this book has a page "Daddies love their babies." and the following page reads "Mommies love their babies, too." Like I said subtle, but a welcome change from the typical. One book we have, I Love You As Much only deals with mothers, leaving fathers out of both human and animal parenting.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

i'm back

life has as usual been crazy busy. we had our neighborhood beef and beer here at the house. it seemed to be a success. we had 63 people jammed into our place. it was fun. now we're trying to re-organize and put on a birthday party for our little guy. he and i have again been butting heads recently. i chalk it up to my extreme workload in getting this place ready for that party and in performing the duties of the president of our neighborhood civic association. we have a little situation brewing with the large estate behind us and i have been on the phone what seems like non-stop. and if it seems non-stop to me, it must seem like an eternity to a four year old just wants to play cars or do puzzles or play hide and seek. on the way to yet another meeting tonight, Monster and I were talking about the fact that this was not why we made the decision for me to stay home with the kids. After the meeting was over, I announced to the board that i would be stepping down as prez. it was hard b/c i am passionate about the neighborhood, but the time is just not right for me and my family. i will remain on the board but can no longer accept all the responsibility associated with being the president.

with all this stuff going on, my exercise/training time has dropped down to 'nil. as we were coming down the home stretch to the beef and beer, i could feel my cyclocross season slipping away -- or at least my ability to be competitive. it's funny how when my exercise/training tails off, my dietary choices suffer just as badly, or maybe even worse. still don't have a bike put together, but have decided given that my fitness is not where it was several weeks ago, the wheeler -- suspension fork and all -- will become the bike of choice for the season. its not going to be the reason i'm not competitive.

the girl child is growing up so quickly. it's amazing how much she is talking. she just had her 18 months check up, and the doctor made a comment how advanced she is verbally. i mentioned that it must be b/c of her older brother, but she said that 2nd children actually speak later, given that they often don't need to since their older siblings do the speaking for them. now i'm chalking it up to all the reading we do with her (and him). the other good thing that came out of her check-up was that she had been tested for lead about a week prior to her visit. the doctor had requested because the exterior of our 50+ year old home had been painted. mid-way through my interior project i started to freak out that i was releasing lead dust into the air. my fears were mitigated when lulu's lead tests came back at essentially zero.

the boy child has been giving us fits lately. as i mentioned before i think its my relative non-availability. after this weekend and his party, i think we're just going to lay low and spend a lot of quality time. he's funny, even when he's being a complete pain in the you-know-what, he can turn it off and be ultra-sweet, insightful, and perceptive. i was walking up the hill tonight after the meeting listening to a little mozart and trying to find perspective on my day, week, life, and i had that very thought above, but now cannot for the life of me remember what cool thing he must have done to make me think that. the point is though, even though he can make my blood boil at times, he really is a good kid.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Our bridge failure made the local paper. We weren't really stranded, we just couldn't get cars or trucks in or out. Thankfully, there were no fire or medical emergencies.

The Best We Can Do?

I listened to the debate last night as I (surprise) painted. I just kept thinking that in this great nation of 293 million these are the best we have to offer.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Apparently, we are no longer trapped in our own neghborhood. Although we weren't really trapped today. Our situation just made us get a bit more creative in getting things done. My wife had a co-worker pick her up on the other side of the wounded bridge. The only downside there was that she was made to walk around the lake, i.e. through the swamp in her work shoes and pants. We hadn't thought to wear boots.

Later, I took the kids out on the Fuel and Chariot. We, too, had to walk around the lake. As I walked, pulling my charges over the wet, flood ravaged grass, I remembered again my days in Colorado, and found myself thinking about a simple life. I enjoy the challenges and hardships of living near the edge that most people don't seem to tolerate well. Even though a few neighbors had offered to loan cars or give rides. I wanted to remain self-sufficient. We rode up into town to drop the boy off at pre-school. He thought that was pretty cool. After coming back to the neighborhood, LuLu and I checked out the outed bridge and the new emergency access road the township was building. She was supposed to be sleeping but was having too much fun throwing dirt back into the new road bed. We hopped back on the bike to pick up the boy. Returning again to the 'hood, people couldn't believe that we had been up into town. They asked, "HOw'd you do it?" I was polite, but thought, "what do you mean how? I'm still sitting on the darned bike".

All in all, the day was kind of neat. It was like a snow day except that it was relatively warm and most were wearing shorts. Informal groups of adults and kids forned to tallk, play, and watch the progress of the two projects. Apparently, the emergency access road that the Township was wokring on today is now open. As nice as it is to have the ability to get the vehicles out of the 'hood, I fear that this is much like Pandora's Box. I fear that after putting the time and energy into creating this road, this road could become more than a temporary access and will begin to see more and more traffic through our heretofore very quiet neighborhood. The road also, and perhaps more importantly, could very significant implications in the development of the land which surrounds our little community. Ihave neither the time nor energy to go into that at this hour. Perhaps later.

Good night. Peace.

THe Sky is Falling

Not really. The sky is not really falling. Sometimes it just feels like it. But that's not the point of this entry. Tonight, well last night now, I was painting AGAIN. This time is was doing the crown molding in the hallway. The creaky little ladder I was using made me nervous that I would wake the kids as I worked near their doors. It reminded me of one of the nights that we were removing (or trying to remove) the wallpaper. I was using the scoring tool which makes a very unique sound. The missus was putting the boy to bed when he said, "Mommy, you hear that? That's my ceiling cracking. It's going to fall down." He was very nonchalant about the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rain, Birthday, Funeral

Not necessarily in that order...

First off let me thank my Mom and Dad for taking the kids so my betrothed and I could get some much needed painting done before this neighborhood party that is ever more quickly approaching. In fact, I should be painting and installing new trim at this very moment but I feel more like 'blogging right now as some things are more clear in my head. Between the lack of sleeping and the inhaling of noxious fumes, these midnight painting episodes are starting to get to me. I am always amazed how much longer these home improvement projects take than expected or alloted. We started this current thing on the Sunday before Labor Day, and with the exception of a few bike rides and a run, it has been all consuming. But I digress. Let me secondly (and a bit sarcastically) thank my Mom and Dad for bringing us all this rain. You see, every time they go to the shore, it seems to rain on the East Coast. Their current trip has brought the wrath of Jeanne down on my little slice of nirvana with such voluminous rain that the little creek that runs beside the neighborhood's lake is flooding with fury. So much so that it has eroded the little bridge that provides the egress from those of us on this side of the 'hood. The police have barracaded the road and apparently it is now a FEMA issue. With the Feds involved, we could be landlocked forever.

The other day was my birthday. I got to spend it at a funeral. Actually, it wasn't so bad. Attending the celebration of someone else's life really made me think more about how fortunate I was and how many wonder gifts I already had. The kinds of gifts that don't get wrapped. My wife. My children. My parents. My brothers and sister. My extended family. And, yes, even my in-laws. I am pretty lucky.

Today, one of the other dads in the neighborhood today made a brief visit at our playgroup. It was funny because he seemed so awkward. I was hopeful that we could hang out for a while and have some male bonding. He left after a short while. Not sure if it was my lack of conversational ability or if it was the fact that he ended up taking a plastic golf club to the head from one of the more 'active' playgroup participants. I found out later (Mon had a meeting to discuss Beef and Beer with several moms) that at least two of the guys in my neighborhood don't bathe their kids. Avoid it like the plague. Now maybe its just Moms exaggerating. But I doubt it. It seems that it has become very in vogue to pay lip service to spending time with your children, but I am constantly amazed by how often I hear both first- and second-hand about dads worming their way out of being with their children. Don't get me wrong I need a little separation from time to time, but I am with my guys almost all day, every day. Many of these guys are working outside the home 10-12 days. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Do Car Salesmen Want to Sell Cars?

I thought these guys worked on commission. After our experience with the used Eurovan and the experience I just had at the local Honda dealership I am beginning to wonder whether these guys really want to sell cars. Maybe they can sense that we're still all over the map as far as what we want to buy, and figure they're not going to waste their time on us. Or maybe it's the way I dress -- today, for instance, my blue Yankees T (thanks Scott!) and a pair of army green cargo shorts. I had on clean running shoes AND socks. Most importantly, I did shower AND shave today. But anyway, the 2005 Honda Odyssey officially came out today and Four convinced me to take him and his sister to check it out. Unfortunately, the only model on the lot was the $35k Touring edition. At that price, he wasn't willing to let it go out for a test drive without a more serious commitment to buy. I'm not going to give a serious commitment to buy anything without driving it first. He says he's getting in a permanent demonstrator that will be used for test drives. I told him to give me a call. The funny thing is that the Toyota dealer was willing to let us take out a $35k vehicle for a test drive with NO commitment to buy anything. Maybe I'll pay him another visit.

Since we are all over the map as far as what to get. I'd like to ask those who read this to let me know what they are driving and if pleased with their choice. I am especially interested to hear what any stay-at-home parents (even more especially dads) have to say, although all others are welcome to chime in. Any suggestions are also welcomed. The practical side of me keeps telling me to get a newer model minivan, but the guy in me who doesn't want to look like a male soccer mom yearns for something different. Not even tougher or more masculine, just different. I've never swam well with the current. And although it is often more difficult to swim against the current of popular culture, it just isn't me.

Updates Added

See "Situated" and "Eurovan" for updates to previous entries.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I'm gonna let you go now

Four's words to my betrothed before hanging up on her while on the phone.


Today at our neighborhood playgroup, I had a great conversation with one of the other moms about being a stay-at-home parent and the always attendant (though not oft discussed) frustrations. Actually, this wasn't just one of the other moms, it was one of the women I respect very much and often find myself thinking what would she do in a given situation relative to parenting. Our conversation put me a bit at ease. I have felt easily frustrated lately. I don't know if its the summer and the lack of separation, or recent events in which the kids behavior created some real tension and have kind of caused us to become hypersensitive to and evaluate every little infraction. Also, we're trying to change some of our discipline techniques, so of course there are growing pains in conjunction with that. I could go on and on. Anyway, to have this woman whom I very much respect voice sentiments similar to my own was quite relieving. I love our children very much and hope to continue in this position. It's good to know that what I am going through is not just me and not a sign that I can't continue to do the job well.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Bedtime Blues

Bedtime has become very stressful here.
I don't know why.

More to follow.

Missing Summit County's Trail System

today, well now yesterday since its so late, after lunch I loaded the kids in the Chariot and pulled them with my mountain bike to the local shopping center. Knowing that people can drive particularly aggressively around here, I made sure we had our flag and a flashing clip-on light. Despite this, I was still pretty nervous the whole time with my precious cargo, and while nothing happened or even came close to happening I am definitely going to rethink our route and/or our ability to continue that activity. Which is a total bummer. In this era of instant gratification and luxury this and luxury that, I want to teach my children the simple pleasure of getting there yourself, making yourself go. Not just for exercise, but for the sense of accomplishment that it allows. I just don't want them to get injured or killed learning that. When I lived in Summit County Colorado, there was a great paved trail system (in addition to great road and off-road riding) that connected all the major desinations in the area; Breck, Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco. Especially with the two munchkins, I am really missing that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

If Only I Could Type Faster

I can't sleep. It's 12:40AM and I can't sleep. I fell asleep telling Four a bedtime story and in making the transfer back to my bed, seemed to have unexpectedly and unwantingly found my second wind. Earlier it would have been fine, but its far too late even for me to begin the skim coat that is proving to be necessary on our now paper-less walls. So, as I lay there in bed, trying to fall asleep all these images and stories came flooding back to me much like the scene in Finding Nemo where Dory has all these past event flash before her, many of them the same images and stories that eluded when I last tried to catch up after my brief return to income-producing labor. So, here are snippets in no particular order, placeholders really, to most likely (hopefully) fleshed out at a later date.

VW Eurovan test 'drive'
 [Updated 9-22-2004] So I had this earlier post about our mini-van search. On Friday, I called a local BMW dealer who was advertising a 2000 VW Eurovan for sale. With our busy schedule we couldn't get over the weekend, so we scheduled an appointment for the following Monday at 10:30 AM. We made sure that gave ourselves plenty of time to get over there, drive the vehicle, and get Four off to his first day of pre-school. We get there and Liv is asleep (off schedule due to her middle of the night shananagins the night before). I go in to meet the salesman, who tells me that they've had all kinds of interest in this vehicle lately. Meanwhile, I am remembering that the photo online appeared to have snow on the ground around the vehicle. We haven't had much snow lately in this part of the county. So already, I'm leery of this guy. Once we get out to the van, he opens it and there are lollipop sticks and candy wrappers all over the inside of the vehicle. I don't think they touched since it was traded in, and it definitely doesn't seem that anyone was test driving this vehicle recently. Meanwhile, I am trying to allay my wife's fears about the vehicle. "It should clean up nicely". "Let's just see how it drives." I put the keys in the ignition and turn. Nothing. The salesman tells me to try again. Yeah, that'll work. Even after getting the slowest walking person on the lot to bring out the battery charger out, the vehicle would not run. Mon said "No." when the salesman asked if we could come back that afternoon after they replaced the battery. We put the kids back into the Explorer and left. Why did we make an appointment? Doesn't it seem like a good idea to prep a car when you know someone is coming in to test drive it. I will never buy a car from this dealer.

Kayaking at lake after dinner
To continue SAHD conversation with J.I.
LuLu singing
LuLu wrapping blanket at bedtime
 [Updated 9-22-2004] Four was playing with one of his cousins and pretending to have a camp-out. He came out the living room asking us to "help me get the sleeping bags situated." We are constanty impressed with his (and his sister's) ever-growing vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I love Fall!

Tonight I went for a bike ride. I rode even though I am seriously starting to question whether we can finish our (not so) little painting project in time for the party that we're planning to have here. But the Tuesday night ride has become almost like therapy for me. Not quite in the middle of the week, it provides an island of physical outlet. Physical exercise seems to play an important role in my ability to stay sane. Anyway, as a result of the now quickly receding hours of sunlight, as I rolled up the hill to my house in the dark last night. The sight of our house with its outside lights on reminded me of the rich reward of returning to a warm home after a ride in autumn's brisk air.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Two weeks AGAIN?

Two weeks again? I can't believe it. Things have been busy. I just hope I don't fall off the rebeldad blogroll. I really write this drivle for myself and the kids, but it's still fun to be recognized. For the first of the recently missed two weeks, I was still helping my neighbor frame up his addition. With that my mom was here (see previous post) and sleeping in our den/guest room. We've decided to host the neighborhood Beef and Beer event, which means my list of things to do has grown dramatically. The biggest of the items is to address the peeling wallpaper in the living room and foyer. The Sunday before Labor Day, we began removing the wallpaper in our living room, foyer, AND hallway. This had us up 'til about midnight just about every night last week, and we have just only now finished removing all the paper. We still have to wash off the residual glue, sand, and, of course, paint. All of this has dropped blogging to the bottom of a long list of priorities.

It's scary how quickly these kids are growing up. And even scarier how quickly I forget stuff. As I sit here finally prepared to capture all the great things that have happened in these past two weeks, I am drawing blanks. Even today seems a blur. We went to the Brandywine Arts Festival. On the way down, the kids were adorable. Playing with each other and making each other laugh. It was great. At the festival, the kids did remarkably well -- considering there was little for them to do and we stayed way past nap time. One of the reasons we ended up staying so long was that I was hemming and hawing about which piece to buy from a local artist, Joe Jacobs. We had seen his stuff just before lunch, but as we were looking and trying to decide, LuLu fell apart. So we told ourselves we'd come back after lunch. After lunch and a circuitous route which ensured that we checked out some other artists first, we ended up back in Joe's booth. To my chagrin, the piece which had originally drawn us into the booth was gone. As I stood there trying to decide among three others, this women ends up buying the one which had been my new frontrunner. After another agonizingly long period of time, I decided I was just trying to convince myself to buy something, and ended up leaving empty-handed and deflated. All of Joe's pieces were originals not prints, so it would have been really neat to have gotten just that perfect piece. Lesson learned.

After dinner tonight, we went for a bike ride/walk. Four and I were on bikes. LuLu was in the stroller. Mon pushed her. With the exception of a few bits of assistance on only the steepest of the hills, Four made it all the way around the big block. Which reminds me of one of the things previously forgotten. Four pulled out his fixed gear bike which has the training wheels removed. He would ride (coast) about 8-10 feet and tell us he had done it. I went over and helped him steady until he got some speed. Then he was on his own. He rode 30-40 feet all on his own. We repeated this about 20 times. Sometimes going on the sidewalk, sometimes in the yard. We recently had some stumps removed and the trips in the yard became dangerously closer and closer to the holes left by the stumpgrinder. Finally, the inevitable happened. That boy went for it. Not yet four, that boy aimed right for the middle of the hole. The six-inch hole ate up the front 12-inch wheel and the momentum shift sent him head over heels. Mon and I were both very nervous and ran over to console what we were sure would be a shaken, maybe even broken, little boy. Before we got there he popped up, brushed himself off, and said, "That was fun! I'm going to do it again." Somewhat foolishly, we got the video camera out, and encouraged him to ride other places. Nope. He followed through on his plan to do it again. This time the result was not as pretty. Dirt in the teeth. Dirt all over his face. And, this time, crying. I think it'll be a little while before he 'jumps' that hole again. Other than that little mishap, he is doing awesome on the two-wheeler.

That's it for now.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Has it Really Been Two Weeks?

Life is a bit busy right now. Like crazy busy. It's good, but busy. Two weekends we drove out to Southern Ohio for a family reunion. With stops on the way out, it took us 11+ hours to get there. The reunion picnic is 3 hours long. On the way out we were trying to figure out how to make the most of the reunion to make it a valuable experience for us and the kids, especially given the length of the drive and the relative brevity of the actual function. Things never turn out as planned, we'll just leave it at that. 12 hours drive back home, trying to figure things out.

I have been helping a neighbor frame up an addition to his home. Nonna has been coming to watch the kids. She is amazing. Playing with the kids and making them feel special and loved, while still finding time to do things like laundry, ironing, prepping dinner. How does she do it? It is really forcing me to think about some of the areas where I have been, shall we say, falling a bit short. I have one more week of framing, and while I will miss some aspects of the work, I hope to come back to my real job with renewed focus and inspiration. Thanks, Mom! You are incredible.

LuLu's vocabulary continues to grow and she continues to amaze us with how her little brain is developing. Mon reports that LuLu was trying sing the ABC's tonight. It sounded pretty cute. Nonna brought her and Four down to the house where I am working today. They had been there less than two minutes, and she's asking for "Chiece" (her version of "Chief" -- our neighbor's dog).

I came home from a bike ride tonight and was greeted by Four's project. It was awesome. Three long narrow pieces of wood wrapped together with electrical and packing tape. It brought a huge grin to my face and reminded me of the crazy stuff I would try to build when I was a kid. It got even better when I got inside. After his inspiring visit to the construction site, Four had been motivated to come up with his own workman outfit. He put on a pair of blue shorts, a blue windbreaker, passed one of his belts through the handles on a blue gift bag, placed the homemade toolbelt and pouch around his waist, and filled it with his tools. He was so cute and excited that I couldn't resist when he asked if we could hang his clothes hooks that we had bought last weekend. As M and I both lay in his queen size bed reading him stories tonight, he says, "I feel like a grown-up helping Daddy hang my hook."

Thursday, August 12, 2004

what would I have to pay that guy at blogging the children to get him on my staff?This is too much fun. Pick one of almost thirty poses, one of five backgrounds, and get George to say whatever you want.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

So Sorry Song

Today I was playing Jem's "They" (sample - click the play triangle - lyrics)which frankly we don't listen to very often -- maybe twice, and even at that, I'm not sure when Four would have heard it. Four asked within the first 35 seconds -- I thought to look at the counter in iTunes -- "Is this the 'So Sorry' song?" I was flabbergasted. They hadn't yet sung those words. I had to rewind in to the beginning to verify, and, in fact, they hadn't. Despite his doing similar things before, I was so excited I had to call Mon at work. He does seem very musically astute. I am considering signing him up for Paul Green's School of Rock. Seriously.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Saddling Our Children with Debt

To think what else this money could have bought:

Thanks to the DadTalk site for bringing this to my attention. And be sure to visit, to see what this money could have done for Pre-School Kids, Public Education, World Hunger, and more. I, too, wonder how much less we'd have to spend on defense if we were feeding and educating people instead of fighting them.


A few days removed both temporally and physically from the situations of Thursday and Friday, I am feeling much better about how things are. We had a great weekend as a family, and even some escape time to recharge the batteries. Learning a new skill is difficult, and it probably won't feel natural for quite some time. However, I feel as if I have already seen an improvement in the way Four responds to requests. Now, perhaps its the fact that we did have a great weekend, and he did get to spend some great quality time with Mom and Dad, and he's more eager to please in order to get more of that. But I can't help but think that some of the marked change is some of the info I've been able to glean from Dr. Gray.

Also, we've made some progress in the BM area. Two good ones today from number one, and one good one yesterday. How? More fiber, no dairy, glycerin suppositories, milk of magnesia.

I don't know

Today, we were getting out of the car on one of our errands. I asked Liv where her shoes were (if the drive is any more than about 15 minutes the shoes come off). She answered somewhat slowly and very deliberately, clear as bell, "I ... don't ... no."

17 months, but still won't say "Joosh peez."

Saturday, August 07, 2004

What a Difference...

...a couple of hours makes.

Last night was our neighborhood's ice cream social down at the Lake. Immediately following was the camp out. Four and LuLu had such a great time. Its awesome b/c Four is getting to age where he and his friends can run around on the beach and surrounding lawn and entertain themselves (with a watchful yet distant eye*). Four and I stayed for the camp out, and he couldn't have been more excited -- this was his first camp out. We set up our tent in the small tent city of about ten tents. Later in the evening we roasted marshmellows and the kids again ran around entertaining themselves with flashlights and walkie-talkies. Around 10:30 -- way past normal bedtime -- he decided to get into his pajamas, despite the fact that many of his friends were still running around. I was impressed by the decision. After one round of goodnights to all his pals, we were back in the tent where we stayed until around 7:30 this morning. I was nervous that we might be making the trip up the hill in the middle of the night, but he did great. A few times, he wanted to hop out of his fleece bag and into my mummy bag, which was fine. Crowded, but fine. I figure it will be soon enough that the little bugger won't want to snuggle with his dad. He did wake up around 5:30 and said to me, "Dad, you hear the birds? That means its time to get up?" Somehow I convinced that we needn't get up with the birds. Around 7:30 we heard some of the other kids racing around outside our tent and went out to join them.

One by one, different families whose spouses (mostly the moms) had not camped out showed up with pitchers of coffee, raw eggs, onions, bagels, bread, etc. Our recently donated gas grill got quite a test as breakfast was prepared for 20-plus hungry campers. It was awesome. What a sense of community. This is not the first time such impromptu gatherings have sprung up, and Monica and I are continuously thankful for having moved into such a great community.

* thanks to Catherine Seipp for forcing me to be extra vigilant and precise about what I write. Feels like I'm sensoring myself lest my words, if not perfect, might end up being used to denounce dads everywhere.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sh*tty Day

The past two days have been pretty sh*tty both literally and figuratively. My children have adopted positions at opposite ends of the BM spectrum, which ends up leaving me pretty much up to my elbows in the not-oft-discussed excretions. The boy child grows through these periods where he doesn't eliminate for several days and then ends up having these 'soiling' events. There are times when you can tell he needs to go but he refuses. His age and the frequency with which we deal with this lead me to do a few google searches and found several sites which are very informative on the subject of encopresis. Essentially, after ignoring the urge to go frequently enough for whatever reason (i.e. pain during constipation) the brain just starts to ignore the signal. Stuff starts to back up. It gets pretty ugly, if interested in learning more (questionably likely), visit link above. But, essentially, the experts insist that the child effected by this is not doing it on purpose. So, I have been working to be extra understanding and compassionate during this time. Unfortunately, as it turns out, I am human. You see, between the scrubbing of dirty underpants and reading in the bathroom for periods of over 30 minutes, my other charge finds her way into trouble. At one point today, I felt completely overwhelmed. I just couldn't keep up. By lunch time, I had already changed at least 4 poopy diapers, and dealt with this other issue, including a trip to the pharmacy for some over-the-counter remedies as recommended by our pediatric practice. Another frustrating thing about all this is that after I've done all this research about encopresis and try to talk to the medical staff informedly about it, I just get the impression that they're like, "Yes, yes, thank you, but you'd better let the professionals take care of this." They just talked about fixing the 'flow' right now and didn't address the chronic nature of the problem.

I don't mean for this to sound like poor me at all. After all, I get to be home with two (mostly) wonderful kids, and our problems could be far worse. I think what makes this all the more difficult right now is that I am listening to the audio book "Children are from Heaven" by John Gray (author of the Mars and Venus books). The CAFH book/content is about positive parenting skills and love-based parenting. As I am trying to learn and implement some of his techniques, I end up stumbling over some of my old habits and end up getting more and more frustrated with myself and my parenting, my organization, and my planning. I am going to persevere with it though, as his ideas and logic make sense on most levels.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


My parents have recently installed ZoneAlarm personal firewall software and pop-up blocker, which for some reason or another does NOT like Shutterfly. Therefore, I am considering changing to ofoto for my digital picture sharing and printing. Here are some test pics.

New Old Add-Ins

I have added some new posts that I had captured in my planner, and finally got motivated enough to go get my planner from the other room. If interested, read Time Out! and Manipulate. I'll try to be more timely.

Getting Along

It is so awesome to watch these two little creatures when they get along. This morning Liv woke up in a grumpy mood. Turned out she was pretty constipated. Things got much better after she had a BM the size and shape of a golf ball and nearlly as hard. Too much detail, huh? Anyway, until that point, she had been miserable and Four loving brother that he can be when he so chooses, was doing all kinds of things to cheer her up. He was talking in a sweet and gentle voice and just being genuinely concerned. Then tonight the two were playing together and, minus one altercation, they were both being so nice to each other. Leaning on each other while playing cars and dinosaurs, neither one minding the presence of the other, in fact, I like to think they were thoroughly enjoying each others company. Here's to hoping they remain close.

New Words

Liv's vocabulary grows daily. Today we were watching Jo-Jo's Circus after lunch (we're trying to cut back -- Shane's turning into a junkie, but that's fodder for another post), and Liv pointed at the tube and said "Jo-Jo" each time the little clown made an appearance, and each time Goliath her pet lion showed up she would point and say "Line". Early, we were visiting a neighbor who has a relatively new puppy whose name is Chief. She called him "Deefz". All of these have happened almost spontaneously without our encouragement. Its neat.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Time Out!

Today, Lulu got her first time out. She had bitten Four hard enough to leave a decent mark. I very firmly told her that she was not to bite anyone, and then put her in the spot where she's witnessed her brother spend a time out or two. Much to my surprise, she stayed there the entire time until I came over to talk to her about it. Recently, a neighbor's mother who teaches early childhood education was over for dinner and told my wife about how time outs are not effective disciplinary tools. It wasn't clear what her alternatives were. To me, this is one of the most frustrating things about "experts" and their advice. They tell what not to do, but offer little to no alternatives. I think Liv got the message that she shouldn't bite. Not to say, that she won't do it again, but it's a start.

Four and LuLu Triumph

A neighbor recently got a Triumph motorcycle. Four and LuLu were almost as excited as the new owner. Check out the pics. I am biased but they're pretty cute.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


This morning at breakfast, Liv was dropping her cereal on the floor. She had eaten most of it -- this her new way of telling us that she's finished. I very firmly tried to stop this, "Livvy, NO!" She stops, looks at me, tilts her head, puts on her very cutest face, and says, "Da-Deeeee." I had to bite my lip.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

My Little Helpers

After an MTB ride today, the little ones helped clean the new ride.

LuLu: "I Love You"

Tonight at dinner, LuLu said "I love you." We have said "Guess what? [Pause] I love you." to Four (and less to LuLu because she's only 17 months) so many times that it's become something of a game. Now he often tries to beat us to the punch, finishing it before we can. And then, it becomes, "No, I love you." "No, I love you." Well, you get the idea. Tonight, M had told me how nicely Four had played during the day. I told him that I was very proud of him and "guess what?" LuLu chimes in almost clear as a bell, "I lub oo."

Friday, July 23, 2004

Et tu?

Uncle Drew stopped by a couple times here recently. It was cool that he just stopped in, the kids were excited to see him. When he got here the other night, he had called on the way over, so we knew to expect him. When he turned in the driveway, Four, who had been brushing his teeth, could see him from the bathroom. "My man uncle Drew is here," he announced. Then went running out to see him. Today, he kept refering to him as "that tough guy." LuLu couldn't stop saying his name either. "Doo?" "Doo?" "Eh doo?" (translated: "Drew? Drew? Where Drew?") I couldn't help but think that it sounded a bit like "et tu?" -- which translates in French (or freedom? ;^]) to "and you?"

We went out for dinner to tonight and then stopped in at Carsense to check out *gasp* mini-vans. The Explorer recently 'needed' $1800 worth of emissions work. Needs new tires. And, apparently the transmission is starting to slip. Go it's probably time for something. And it's probably the mini-van. We keep trying to talk ourselves out of the mini-van but it just seems so darned practical. Anyway, both the kids were really good at both stops. On the way home, Mon and I both thanked the kids, especially Four, for their good behavior and told them how proud we were of them. Four says, "Where did we go, again?" Brief pause. "Oh, that's right, we went out for lunch. And the car store. That's not that much." It was enough for us. Thanks kids!

At some other point on that drive, M and I were trying to figure out if a mini-van (henceforth van) is really what we want. M basically said that it would end up being what I drove most of the time and she just couldn't see me in a van. To me, this is no small compliment, because while I cannot argue the practicality of the vehicle, the whole market segment just seems so generic. What is really more my speed would be an old Vanagon Syncro or a double cab Vanagon (TriStar). Failing those a 23-window would be sweet. But I am not sure if I am ready to deal with the requisite tinkering. I have too many (unfinished) projects as it is.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

It Could Possibly Happen

One night at the shore M and I were talking over dinner. I don't even remember what it was that we were talking about. I think I was describing some incredulous thing to Mon and she seemed a bit skeptical. Four chimes in, "It could possibly happen." We are constantly reminding "our chuther" (Four's version of "each other" which he's been doing for quite some time but have never captured here on btc) that he is only 3.

Monday, July 19, 2004


Going into this year's tour, I wasn't rooting for Lance. The decisions he's made regarding his family have caused me to lose a great deal of respect for him. From a historical perspective I do think it would be neat to see him win his 6th in a row. I had been pulling for Tyler "ride through the pain" Hamilton. Now that Tyler has pulled out, I feel myself being pulled onto the bandwagon. Although my adoptive Italian roots are making me like Basso more and more. Anyway, like him or not, Lance is trying to raise piles of cash for cancer research, and that's a bandwagon I don't feel ashamed of jumping on. So I bought 20 of the fund-raising bracelets and thought that the kids could sell them at a lemon-aid stand in the 'hood and then donate that money back. Kind of a lesson in philanthropy and volunteerism. Of course each of the kids wanted one for themselves, but even the youth size was too big for their little wrists. So we put them on their ankles. Four had one on each ankle and asked if we liked his soccer pads.
As an aside, President Bush has recently predicted that Lance would win the tour, and that he would win in November. I had heard that Jan Ullrich went as far as to guarantee a victory in the tour. Here's to hoping that Bush's prediction for his own success shapes up the way Ullrich's is looking to.

Manners Progress

Thursday night, I went out for a ride and Mon took the cherubs out for dinner. According to my beautiful betrothed, Shane found an action figure in the restaurant and asked all the children in the area of it belonged to them before he began to play with it. This occurred without guidance from Mom. Additionally, it was reported to me that he was quite the big helper retrieving utensils and napkins for his mother and sister. Progress is good.

Finding Dory

Shane has been asking us for a pet for some time now. On Tuesday, we finally caved. Our newest family member is Dory, a red and white fan-tail goldfish. You would have thought that I had lasso'ed the moon for the young man. Comments received included:
  • "Thank you so much for getting me this fish."
  • "I love my fish so much."
  • "I am going to take such good care of this fish."

In addition to Dory -- whose name very nearly was (drumroll please) "Nemo" or "Marlin" -- we also got a snail, who was to help us keep the tank clean. The snail, who never really had a name (sometimes we called him Sampson), is no longer with us. We clean the tank the other day, and the snail never seemed quite right after that. I went to clean the tank again tonight and the snail just floated in the water after being removed from the side of the bowl. I don't know if it was rough handling in the previous transfer, Shane did pull him off the side of the transfer cup rather quickly and not rather gently. Or, if it was overly warm water temp on the return to the bowl. I actually ended up ushering the kids out of the room and adding a few ice cubes, b/c the water seemed a bit warmer that room temp. But Dory (knock on wood) seems none the worse for wear. Shane doesn't know yet about the snail. He's asleep. Possible future post fodder.

Where's Our Baby?

Liv is growing up so fast. Last night, she was chasing Shane around the kitchen after we all finished dinner. She was really looking to mix it up. She would grab him from behind and give him a sisterly but rough-and-tumble hug. He would ask or tell her to let go, but they were both laughing. As I've said before on this blog, it's so neat to watch them interact and get along so well. Although they really do love each other, the getting along well is not always the case.
At a friend's 4th birthday party this weekend, Liv was playing with some toys and as she was reaching down to pick one of them up she said, "I want that." It was clear as a bell. The funny thing is that is a 3-word sentence, yet I can't get her to say "Juice please." -- or any other 2-word sentence. She'll say "Juush" and "Peez" but not "Juush Peez."
Today, we were down at the lake. Before I could get my shoes and socks off, she was up to her knees in the water and ready to go further. Both the lifeguard and a neighbor commented on how brave and how capable she is. Later, she was laying in the water up to her chin with her little fingers just barely able to touch the sandy bottom, and then squatting in the water up to her chin and experiencing the resistance of the water as she waved her arms back and forth. At one point, the three older kids (V.N., P.N., S.J.) ran up to get foam noodles and began to have "sword" fights with them. Shortly thereafter, she started walking up the beach with a very determined look on her face. It reminded me that I keep wanting to read the book What's Going On In There?. But anway, and I should have known, she was going up to the shed to get her noodle, emulating the big kids.
It's neat. And it's scary.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Falling further and further behind

I keep falling further and further behind with my blogging although cool and cute things -- and not so cute things -- I want to blog about continue to happen. With that said, here are some placeholders:
Liv LAF bracelet.
Liv hats.
Shane fish.
Shane big bro.
Shane found toy - tried to find owner. 
[Update: When linked, placeholder has been fleshed out in another post.]

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Here's a Thought

Never tell parents -- especially involved, caring parents who are working hard and making serious sacrifices to raise kind, well-adjusted children -- that they are "raising a monster."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Sea Isle Pics

Enjoy the pics. Stories to follow (hopefully!).

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Back from Vacation

Just got back from vacation. Will try to get caught up here in the next few days (daze?).

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"Meet Today's Dad" Article

First of all, many thanks to Rebel Dad for the awesome resource his site represents in terms of collecting and summarizing SAHD relevant media. While reading his site the other day, I ended up visiting the Catherine Seipp piece entitled Meet Today's Dad: A Model to Avoid. I started to read it and then got pulled away to attend to something. Before I got back, my wife sat down at the computer and began to read the article. I ended up coming back as she was reading it from the point where I had left off (therefore didn't see the by-line). We read it together silently. Silently, until my wife asked, "What's his problem?" I told her that it was a woman writing the article. When we got to the sentence, "My ex-husband was a great diaper-changer, but he left when our daughter was just ten months old." We both knew what her problem was. I have to give Ms. Seipp credit though, her gender stereotyping seems equally entrenched regardless of X or Y chromosomes. Her comment about "women and parallel parking" seemed inappropriate and flat out unnecesary. It seems it doesn't matter who's watching small children, attention MUST be paid.

This article further fails to recognize the scores of at-home moms, who are struggling to do their job well. Believe me, they're out there. Just today, I was waiting in a line to make a return, and two boys were standing on and jumping off a bench seat it the waiting area. Mom didn't say a thing until the one boy started dancing - should I say shaking his bottom - in my one-year olds face, and singing "Shaking my butt". While decrying the fact that the "wife slaves away at an office job", Ms. Seipp also fails to recognize that the husbands of at-home moms have been doing this for years. I suppose that if the man works outside the home, Seipp would accuse the man of escaping domestic duties.

It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Seipp's experience was what it was, but to bash an entire group of men who make time for their children is out of line.
Shane had picked out these gourd birdnests for his two Pop-pops for Father's Day. My Mom had been at the shore until this past Saturday, and had not seen it until Sunday while we were all eating breakfast at my parents house. She began to ask Shane questions about it. When she asked where he had gotten it, you could see the wheels turning, but he kept pointing at my Dad. When further pressed, he finally said, "the grocery store without a roof." This was his way of describing the farmer's market.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Bottom Left Molar

Liv's bottom left molar has broken through.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Chez Jason and Michelle

Had a great time hanging out with friends. Kids were pretty well behaved. Almost felt like we were able to have real conversations. On the way home, I think Liv thought that if she could say every word - or pseudo-word - she knew she would be able to stay awake. It was past her bedtime, so I was impressed with how long she made it. But she eventually succumbed (succame?) to sleep.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

father's day

Had Grandma, Pop-pop (Roger), Monica's parents, Drew, and Jess over for a BBQ. Before dinner, the two grandfathers, Shane, and I went over to a car, motorcycle and aircraft show. It was pretty cool. It was just neat to have three generation of Dads (or potential dads) hanging out. Shane's favorite? "The old-fashioned fire truck"

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

defying gravity

this morning Liv decided that she did not want to wear a shirt. I persevered for a while but she kept trying to pull it off, getting frustrated, and crying. finally, I figured "What's the big deal?" Later, I called a good friend to catch up, see how his latest expedition had gone, and plan an escape to the IR stomping grounds for a bit of mountain biking and whitewater kayaking. Not two minutes into the conversation, I noticed that Liv had poop flowing out the top of her diaper onto her bare back. After explaining to John what happened, he told me that I was scaring him and that he was going to ensure that he didn't have any children. I won't write what that method was.

Later, after having changed the diaper, I thought about how that's the easy stuff. The poopy diapers, the food always on the floor, even the occasional vomiting and colds, that's the easy stuff. It's all the rest that's hard. Grocery shopping with two kids in tow. Cleaning a bathroom with two kids constantly trying to "help". Getting two kids to nap at the same time. Finding appropriate disciplinary tools when you've decided that spanking and slapping are not going to be used. Not yelling. That's the class V stuff.

what he said

from gandhi:

Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:

I shall not fear anyone on earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill toward anyone.
I shall conquer untruth by truth.
And in resisting untruth I shall put up with suffering.

going underground?

blogging, on the one hand, is a great tool. i started blogging to make sure that I never forgot some of the awesome and not-so-awesome things the kids do as they are growing up. it turns out, its also been a great way to vent. the problem is that it has become a bit less anonymous than I would like. I love that it's an easy way to share events, thoughts, and feelings with my family and friends. but I have become uneasy with the fact that typing just my children's and wife's first names into a google usually brings up my blog within the first 2 to 5 results. Normally, that would be no big deal. But, recently, there have been a number of situations where I find myself biting my literary tongue. While I want to share these experiences with some, maybe even most, of the three people who read my blog, there are some experiences that shouldn't be shared with some people. As a result I am considering going underground. Essentially, changing the names of the innocent as well as those of the guilty. Although I hate the idea of writing endearing stories about my children and using pseudonyms. It just doesn't feel as special. Decisions, decisions.

they say the darnedest things

Part I:
one of Shane's frequent "I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up"'s is a stay-at-home dad -- despite his frequest musings that he wants a stay-at-home mom. the other night he was particularly tired and therefore particularly contrary, and as I tucked him in to bed he says, "i dont want to be a stay-at-home dad when I grow up. Or a firefighter. Or an astronaut. Or anything." "So what would you like to do?", I ask. His reply, "I want to stay home with mommy." Great, I'm raising George Castanza!

Part II:
Yesterday, I took the kids down to the lake after naps. We swam and played for almost two hours. While we were there, another dad came down with his two boys. Two older kids were there and played well with Shane. My beautiful wife saw us there on her way up the hill and stopped. While I was sitting on the bench and having a real adult conversation with this other father, watching my children playing in the sand and interacting beautifully with other children, watching my wife and her beautiful smile and laugh talking with another mother, and just soaking in the beauty of the lake and the surrounding grounds, I thought, "This is perfect. This is a slice of heaven." Later, at dinner, I relayed these feelings to Mon, gave her a kiss, and reminded her how beautiful she is.

After I took Olivia back for a bath, Shane and Mon were still at the table. Shane tells Mon, "Mommy, you are so beautiful." "Thank you, Shane," she says. "You are so beautiful, that's why I want you to be a stay-at-home mom." I guess I'm just not good-looking enough to be a SAHD...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

bottom right molar

Liv's erupted today. We're up to 11 teeth. 9 more to go, and we're good for a little while.

Friday, June 11, 2004

growing daily...

...more quickly than I can type. Liv just asked, "Mommy go?"

Monday, June 07, 2004

liv's growing vocabulary

liv is speaking very well. sometimes she gets real chatty and while you can't understand a word she's saying, you get the sense that she thinks she saying exactly what she wants to say. saturday morning, Mon was changing her diaper and playing "where's the baby", liv was repeating clear as a bell "where's the baby" and "there she is". she tries to say her full name, but does much better with livvy. its fun to watch how she experiments with intonation and word length. for instance, sometimes "please" comes out as "bez" (so fast that the "p" becomes "b" or as "peeeeez". other words include: thank you, nane (for Shane), go, da (for down), ba (for ba, bike, book), ha (for hat, hot).

Little Sponges

Despite the recent trip to the beach, I am not refering to the kind of sponges that live on the ocean floor. Nor their artificial counterparts. I refer here to the remarkable absorptive powers of the growing human brain. We feel we have been doing an age-appropriate job of shielding our toddler and pre-schooler from the insanity occurring in the Middle East. We don't watch the news when they're awake. Even when our "commerial-free" radio station pumps the daily body count into our car's speaker, we try to turn down the volume. But the other night when going to bed, Shane, who was very over-tired and very upset anyway, told Mon, "I am sad because all of our soldiers died." Can't we find a sensible way to end all this madness?

On an equally innocent but less depressing note, Thursday night, when I was putting Shane to bed at the shore, he says to me, "I looked everywhere and can't find a lady to marry. How will I ever get married?"

World's Largest Sandbox

Spent a great two days at the shore with Nonna and Pop-pop this past Thursday and Friday. Liv had been at the beach last year but likely doesn't remember it. Shane is an old pro. This year, as soon as we got into N&P's place and she could see out the sliding glass door to the ocean, Liv started bouncing in Nonna's arms. Mon was bummed to have missed that. We didn't need to ask what Liv wanted to do. After a quick coating of sunscreen (or as Shane says "sun cream"), we all hit the beach. It was great. The weather was incredible on Thursday. Not too hot, no humidity, beautiful sunny skies. Even the Atlantic was relatively warm for this time of year. Shane quickly took to floating boats and chasing them down as the got ravaged by the (relative to them) large waves. Liv was no less expected, and loved to be in the water, but needed to be holding a hand or two whenver the whitewater crossed her legs. As she got more used to it, she would run in and out on her own, but never allowed the waves to touch her unless she had a hand to hold.

Quick lunch. Naps. Went back out and hit the beach again. Flew kites. Rolled in the sand. Lounged in the water. Liv chased sea gulls -- I think she really thought she would catch one. I have never really been much of a beach person, and couldn't understand the appeal. Now that I have children, I get it. The kids have so much room to roam. Even after dinner when we went out for ice cream, Shane could walk ahead safely, and feel like master of his own domain. With the exception of leaving Mommy at home (actually work), it was the perfect day.

Friday, the weather turned. Cold and windy. Shane didn't mind. Liv did -- she's still a tough cookie (we'll blame the teething). And me, thinking we didn't need too many inside toys. Fortunately, Nonna was there. She designed a few hours of fun around an old deck of cards and a bucket.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Shane's First Date

[placeholder: details to follow]

Finally getting back to this (06.13.2004): Aunt Jess took Shane to see his first movie at the theater. We were a little nervous that he would have some trouble sitting still for the entire film. But as we watched him bouncing with excitement as he marched through the rain to Jess's car, he seemed like such a big boy. According to Jess, he was a very good boy, even while standing in a line for popcorn and drinks that would have given his line-averse dad a coronary. He was so wide-eyed is seemed as if he was trying to savor the experience with every sense. As far as the movie, like the rest of the nation seems to be, Shane was mesmerized by Shrek 2. Thanks Jess -- I know this was very special to him!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

finally got my computer mounted on my road bike to see how truly out of shape I am. to not steal the kids' thunder, I have (foolishly?) created another blog. no real editoral content, just technical data on my rides and a subjective note about how I felt. it's there if you care. the name ochspeed is a marriage of ochsner -- my old steel road frame -- and litespeed -- my newer ti road bike. thinking about unloading the litespeed as things get a bit tight financially. interested?
Memory Joggers
Has it been a week since my last post? Time flies. Still too busy to truly flesh out some of this stuff, but getting thoughts and moments down b4 they vanish in the hinter lands of my grey matter.

Sat: S: "Mommy, there's poop in that bag."
Mon: S: Mem Party behavior
Tues: All: What a morning.
Wed: L: sits down with Happy Birthday Miss Spider, says "Happy"

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

added pics from aquarium trip. enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A Day
Went out for a group ride tonight -- I needed a little time away. About 35 folks who ride a hell of a lot faster than this SAHD who hasn't been out much lately. Needless to say, I got dropped pretty hard. While I was out Mon fed and ate with the munchkins. Both kids eating crab cakes for the first time. Mon really tries to sell the fried mushballs to Shane, "Mmmm, aren't these delicious." Shane takes a bite, "Ummm, yeah, they are good, but I don't like them."

So, why did I need a little time away? We had two hitting incidents at playgroup today. First, one of our friends got hit on the head with the oversized wiffle ball bat. Then, after a warning that any more hitting incidents would lead to our departure, we had a second incident where a different friend was hit in the face. I thought we were on track for a great day. Everyone was doing great in the morning. We had no issues. Shane and I rode bikes with Liv in the trailer to our friends house for playgroup. Not sure what's going on. Except that there are two boys who are a year older than Shane who get together and can be quite mean, especially for whatever reason to Shane. They even pull our friend Jack, who's Shane's age, into the action from time to time. Whether related or not, I should mention Jack was the second hitting victim. Of the two instigators, the one boy, we'll call him David, is usually quite nice to Shane. It just gets complicated when this other boy is around. The other boy might be a direct descendant of Satan despite his biblically inspired name, but lets call him Louis. Another Mom and I have noticed and discussed Louis' behavior several times, and, perhaps especially the fact that his mother is completely oblivious to it. It's a bit unsettling.

Another recent worry is Shane's stated desire for Mon to stay home. I don't know if this is a phase. I like to think that I am about as caring and loving and supportive and fun as a parent can be. Maybe he sees all the other Moms at playgroup and at the park and wants his situation to be the same. Maybe I am trying too hard and he senses some stress. He said something about it to Mon tonight while she was getting dinner ready, and he and Liv were coloring at the table. He also asked on why she had to go to work and why Daddy couldn't go to work. My first 360 degree feedback from my charges is not the glowing report I had hoped for. Back to the drawing board.?

Monday, May 24, 2004

the daily yak
just stumbled across this guy. another dad who blogs. fun to read and funny. check it out: the daily yak

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Fare Thee Well, Scotty!
Party at Mom and Dad's to sent Scott-O off to San Mancisco. Scott is a great dude and we will miss him sorely, but he is pursuing a great opportunity in his career field. Go Scott! I'm sure you'll do great! Monica and I sometimes think back to one of our first dates where I had to pick Scott up from soccer practice before we went out. There he was "playing goalie" but actually squatting in the field checking out ants. It was pretty adorable. Monica thought that I must have been a pretty good guy b/c of how much I cared about this little brother of mine. So, thanks Scott for helping me get the girl of my dreams (even if we fooled her) and for being my brother.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

National Aquarium
Went to National Aquarium in Baltimore today. What a great experience. Baltimore's Inner Harbor was clean and vibrant and alive. It made the idea of city life seem exciting. Dolphin show was ehhh. The dolphins themselves were great. I just wished the MC would have done less talking and allowed the dolphins to show off their talents more. After all, its called a DOLPHIN SHOW, not a wannabe actor/marine mammal trainer show. Anyway, it was still pretty cool. We sat in the "Splash Zone" and the kids both got soaked. Shane's first rxn was to laugh, but then rethought it and stole Kristen's jacket from off her lap to hide from subsequent splashing. Liv did NOT like getting unexpectedly splashed.

The facility itself is pretty neat. Olivia love climbing up on the little built-in foot stools in front of most of the displays. It was neat to watch her protect her space on the step from three older boys without being overly aggressive, mean, or agitated. It was if she was saying, "Look, I have a right to be here, too. Don't mess with me." A stranger who was eerily going the same pace as us in the nearly empty aquarium, even noticed her ability to hold her own, and told me I should sign her up for soccer. I'm thinking Harvard Business School.

After getting what should have been a quick bite to eat, but nothing is as quick as you'd think when two adults are outnumbered 2-to-1 by children in an unfamiliar town, we got ice cream and went down to the outdoor ampitheater where there was a steel drum band playing. We listened and dance for quite a while. It was neat to see the kids interacting and playing with kids from various cultures. Got home well after ten.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Must've Failed Math!
Yesterday at an unfamiliar grocery store with both kids. Liv is teething so outings are a bit more manic than usual. In my haste to pay and exit, I hopped into a line that was relatively short. After placing about half of my 30 or so items, and now with an elderly lady behind me in line, a middle-aged lady walks by and I notice a perturbed look on her face as I'm turning back and forth loading the belt. She mutters something to the elderly lady. It takes me a few to figure out what she said. But then it comes to me, "He must've failed math in school." I look up at the aisle light/sign that indicates whether or not the aisle is open. Sure enough, "12 items or less." Now I feel like an ass. I apologize profusely to the elderly lady behind me and offer to let her go in front of me. She declines, indicating that its an understandable mistake, especially for a father with two kids. I say [not to her] it's an understandable mistake for anyone shopping with two kids -- especially when the item limit lanes aren't at the end where they are in most other stores. My wife did it once recently and said that no one should have to go to the store with two children.

Being a SAHD, I find that many people are more open to giving me some leniency. Which can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It's good for me -- hey, let's forgive the well-meaning but somewhat bumbling dad. It's not good for the movement away from gender-stereotyped roles for M and D -- reinforces the image of a bumbling father when it comes to the care of children and home. [That JCPenney commercial "Where's your mother" used to make my blood boil.] The funny thing about it is that I'm really not a bumbler. I do pretty well in the grocery and other stores, I keep a reasonable house, and I am working to raise two happy, well-adjusted, and loving children.

oh, yeah. I saw the woman who criticized my math skillz in the lot. I couldn't help but assure her that I hadn't failed math, and in fact, obtained an engineering degree with honors from an Ivy League school. I reminded her that sometimes people make mistakes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Mother Hens
I have been wanting for sometime to write a piece about SAHD's and the rxn from SAHM's in various settings -- this isn't it, just a warm-up. My experiences have been so varied depending on setting. Yesterday, again at Dupont, we were on our way out when both kids spotted one of the many activity centers attached to the wall. It was already being used by two older girls, probably sisters, so my guys just kind of hung back waiting their turn. I, too, stopped, waiting for my children. The mother of the girls, probably 30 feet away, assumedly finishing up the business part of their visit, sees me and immediately calls the girls to come huddle under her wings. I am pushing a stroller, wearing a diaper bag (well, OK, it IS a messenger bag, but it's got a sippy cup in the mesh pocket on either side), and walking with mini-me and his obvious sister. I am clean shaven, and wearing clean clothes. Lady, I am not going to steal or otherwise hurt your children. Similar scenarios have happened just about everywhere. Yes, statistically speaking, men are more likely to do the kinds of things I can only imagine she was afraid of, but SAHD's buck every other trend and statistic, can't you give us a break on this one?

The flip side of this is that my neighborhood playgroup has been extremely inclusive, and couldn't be a better resource. Thanks!
Today was a good day. We have been getting a bit nervous about the difficulty Shane exhibits in listening and behaving. But through reading some websites and books, we have developed some strategies to improve how we react to his behavior (good and bad) and his desire to listen, and well as giving him more structure and tools to help him. Also, we are working to remember that he IS three.

Playgroup today was at the park. Which is cool, but this particular park has practically no shade, and my kids couldn't be much more fair complected, and it was hazy, hot and humid. So, of course, we did the sunscreen before leaving for the park and some other errands. Picking up Shane's prescriptions at the pharmacist, he somehow rubbed some errant sunscreen into his eyes. So, we ended up back at home before the park. After thoroughly rinsing his eyes, we were once again ready to go. Just once minor incident at the park where we had a little talk about how to treat our friends. Shane likes to play pretty rough, some of his friends don't. After our talk, they both met in the middle.

Olivia continues to amaze me. She was climbing all over the playground like a pro. A couple of the moms commented on how athletic and coordinated she is given her age. It was validation of what I had suspected, but thought was maybe my biased view. She saw 2 samoyeds, and ran over to say hi, giggling and squealing the whole way. I joked with the owner that she doesn't really like dogs. They were really friendly, beautiful animals. The heat seemed a bit much for them though.

The mention of the dogs reminds me yesterday's visit to the Allergy/Asthma department at A.I. DuPont. We were down there b/c the little man has had a cough going on about a month or so, that has just kind of lingered. We weren't sure if it is/was allergy/asthma related -- he's been off the Pulmicort for about 6 months now AND grown like a weed in that period -- or if it is/was something else. Docs aren't sure either, so they re-tested all his environmental and food allergies via the skin test. It was awful. He was crying and fighting the process even before the skin pricks, just when the nurse was writing the nums on his back with a ball point. As I held (restrained) him on my lap, chest to chest, and alternated between giving him kisses and telling him, "It's OK" my eyes were welling up a bit. The poor guy was not happy about this and I was contributing to it. The good news is that he seems to have outgrown his walnut, dog, and dust allergies. The bad news is that the eggs blew up like they always do. But even that has a silver lining. His immunoGap -- the measurement they do with the blood tests -- on the eggs is dropping. His doc indicated that he has seen this before, where the skin is more reactive than the body's other systems, and since the iG is dropping, he predicts that within 6 months we can do an egg challenge. I had Olivia with me for this visit (as I do for most visits). I put her in the stroller and gave her a snack and drink to keep her occupied during the test. At first, she watched very intently, but as Shane struggled more and more, she got very upset. Their bond is really neat. However,...

... they are often partners in crime. During the waiting phases of the visit, the two would open the back door of the room at try to wander out. Behaviorly, this was very frustrating and embarrassing (especially when the doc would be in trying to talk to me) and really led me to get more serious about this listening and behaving thing. But now 24 hours removed, I realize that they were waiting alot yesterday, and there wasn't much for them to do. I had brought toys and books, but we had been through it all. That's not to say we can't improve.

If you made it through all that, congrats and thanks for reading.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Mother's Day
My mom and dad, Grandma, and Jess came over to celebrate Mother's Day as well as celebrate my parent's safe return from China. After lunch, we were treated to Mom and Dad's digital pics -- all 500+ of them. But it was really cool. We only lost one audience member, and even at that it was for a very short time. Shane got to spend some one-on-one time with my Mom, whom he absolutely adores. They went for a bike ride -- he rode, she walked. One car drove by -- perhaps new neighbors -- and waved. They waved back. Shane told my Mom that sometimes people drive by and he takes one hand off and waves and they say he's a cutie-pie. My mom asked if she waved would people say she was a cutie-pie. He said yes.

The normally outgoing and gregarious Liv has been going through a shy patch. She would just bury her head in my or Mon's chest when asked to say Hello.

Thanks Monica, Mom, and Grandma for all you do! Thank you Monica for giving us these wonderful kids!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. There were five families from our neighborhood that went down together. As we were getting ready, Shane asked why we were meeting at Jon-Jon's house. I told him that Jon-Jon's mom had arranged the trip and that all the moms and dads were going to meet there to follow each other down to the zoo. He said, "Dad, there aren't going to be any other dads there." Anyway, the zoo was awesome. It was Olivia's first time where she was able to respond to and attempt to interact with the animals. I tried to take still photos and found myself wishing I had brought the video camera. The stills just couldn't capture her excitement the way video might have. She loved everything; monkeys, peacocks, birds, bears, giraffes. You name it. At each exhibit, she would tense up so tight that you thought she might stop breathing, bend over at the waist, point, and practically yell, "Oouuu, oooouuu."

Shane had a good time too. He found a pair of glasses used in the primate exhibit to show how lemurs are color-blind and have to rely on their keen sense of smell to determine which fruits are ripe enough for eating. All the kids got in on the act. I think they all just lliked wearing the glasses, but hopefully got something out of the lesson.

I just put Shane down for a nap -- hence my ability to write now. But as we were laying there reading and telling stories, he told me that he didn't have a drink. "That's interesting", I said. "May I please...", he says. So I go off and get it. Since we had been out grocery shopping just before lunch, his cup was still in the car. So it took a while longer to gather the cup than if it had been in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house -- and I did grab myself a cookie. After I had exceeded what he must have thought a reasonable amount of time to produce the juice, he calls to me, "Dad, don't get off your focus!" My own words (slightly altered) used against me!

Our Town
Tonight, we rode into town to hit the library and get a bite for dinner. I rode my mountain bike with the kids in the trailer. Mon rode her bike solo. It was the kind of thing that we thought we would do more of when we had children and moved to this house. We need to do it more often. We ate at Penn's Table, which is a bit of a greasy spoon for me. But it was just good to get out as a family.

Tonight, reading a story about Lars the polar bear. Shane asks, "How do you make polar bears?" I asked, "Do you mean how do you draw polar bears or how does God make polar bears?" "How does God make polar bears." Mon answers, "He puts cells together." Shane interrupts, "What are cells?" Monica and I are both stammering. And Shane goes, "Anyone?" Where does he learn this stuff?

Today, when we walked into the restroom at Wegman's (yes, we have returned there) Shane says, "Wow, this is a nice bathroom, and they have such pretty music."

Olivia has gotten to be so much fun, she was in such a great mood today, except during aforementioned trailer ride. I cannot put a long-sleeved shirt on her without her playing this game where we look for the hand and the other end of the sleeve. She laughs and laughs and laughs. And, oh yeah, she's gotten two of her molars. Both first molars on the top. Her left came through about 3 weeks ago, and the right about 1 week ago. Pretty exact there, huh?