Friday, February 27, 2009

Fun With Car Seats

Sunday night, long after the dust settled from Mom-E's cell phone adventure, she reminds me that we need to wash the cover of Little Brother's car seat.

Doesn't seem like a big deal. Just take off the car seat cover, wash it, dry it, and put it back on. Ta-da!

Not so fast.

We have the Evenflow Triumph 5.

Burn that name into your hard drive--Evenflow Triumph 5--it's in the car seat catalog under "Made by Satan and his minions."

On the one hand, this particular car seat got wonderful safety ratings. (Mom-E is a grand master of scoping out the product ratings and comments before any major purchase. If it didn't get 5.2 out of a possible 5 stars, then it's not good enough for our boys. I defer to her completely.)

On the other hand, I'm certain that the designer(s) of this particular car seat DID NOT HAVE CHILDREN, NOR DID THEY EVER HAVE TO INSTALL A CAR SEAT THEMSELVES!

The problem is that in order to take the car seat cover off to wash you have to:
1. Uninstall the car seat from the car.
2. Unscrew the 6 screws in the back panel of the car seat.
3. Unhook the straps and feed them through the anchors.
4. Slip all 5 points of the 5-point harness through the car seat cover.
5. Actually take off the car seat, wash, dry, etc.
6. Repeat steps 1-4 in reverse order.

I kid you not. The cover will not come off without literally uninstalling the car seat.

Those of you who have installed a car seat (properly) are already feeling my pain. Go ahead and look at your Busy-Dad-E Honorary Engineering Degree. It'll make you feel better.


And so the simple phrase "let's wash Little Brother's car seat" becomes the answer on Monday to "what did you do this weekend?"

"We washed Little Brother's car seat."

"What else did you do?"

"That's it. It took the whole weekend to do that one thing."

And just think what happens if Little Brother gets nauseated from the smell of a clean car seat and pukes on it...
You get to do it again! Yay, happy day.

Are you appreciating my contempt for the designer(s) of this car seat?

Amazingly, I don't remember being traumatized this time by the process of washing the car seat. I must have amnesia.

However, what I do remember is that apparently it had been A LONG TIME since we last cleaned his car seat. I know this because after I uninstalled the car seat, I shook out ALL of the snacks/junk that had accumulated in the crevices of the car seat, and swept them up into a dustpan. There was enough food to feed a pack of wild, hungry dogs. (Okay, maybe not that much, but I think it totalled about one cup--see the picture below).

I don't want to think about what kind of "bugs" were growing on all of the "treats" under Little Brother's butt. Please don't call the department of child protective services on us. I promise to clean his car seat more frequently (once we buy one that you don't have to uninstall to clean).

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cell Phone Repair Man

I put Mom-E's cell phone through rigorous aerodynamic testing on Friday. (It did surprisingly well--good for you Motorola Razr.)

And now for a description of the test procedures/results:
I was vacuuming out my car before leaving for work on Friday, owing to the boss would be riding in my car later in the day. Mom-E's phone was conspicuously sleeping in the driver's seat. (She says it accidentally fell out of her pocket, I think the phone had volunteered to be a test subject, and spent the night in the car to get my attention).

Either way, I put Mom-E's phone on the deck of the trunk while I vacuumed out the car (a prelude to this Friday's post, "Fun with Car Seats"). The problem was that I forgot Mom-E's phone was still on the trunk after I finished. We'll blame it on a combination of "it was 6:45 am" and parenting-induced chronic fatigue syndrome.

Shortly therafter I left for work.

As I'm walking in to work, I get this funny feeling like "I know I've screwed up, but I don't know what I did." (As you can see, marriage has trained me fairly well). Slowly, my hampster wheel starts to come around, and I begin to think "did I bring Mom-E's phone inside? Oh, no, tell me I didn't." (I did.)

I call Mom-E's cell phone and get the voicemail. Okay, there's a chance she's still alive.

I call Mom-E at the house. (Of course), her phone is not there. I alert her to the "possible situation", all the while my accumulated cache of "husband points" are dropping faster than the stock market.

Mom-E bundles up the boys, puts them in the stroller, and goes down the street looking (to no avail) for the phone. I'm now running a negative balance in the "husband points" category. Mom-E believes her phone to be dead and gone.

About 9:30 am, I get a call from Mom-E's cell phone! "Yay, it's her, she's found it!"

It's not Mom-E. It's a construction worker, who found the phone about 15 miles from our house, near an exit ramp off the highway. Apparently, the phone was run over, but it had enough life in it to power up and make a call.

And that was the last call her phone ever made. Mom-E was able to reclaim her phone and pay "last respects", but that's about it. At least the phone had one heckuva final ride.

And sweet Big Brother, the same Big Brother who tells us "I have to play with my Play-Doh because it's sick and that'll make it feel better", consoles Mom-E on her loss.

He quickly said, "Mom-E, when we get home, we can get some tape and fix your phone."
What youthful optimsm. Don't ever let go of that Big Brother. If only everything could be fixed with tape (or superglue).

And when Mom-E showed him the broken phone, he said without hesitation "Mom-E, we can go to the 'girl store' and buy another pink phone." Spoken like a true "Repair Man". It's even better when you can create a store that only sells exactly what you need. When all else (i.e. tape) fails, Big Brother knows to get out the toolbox (a.k.a. wallet).

You're such a sweet helper, Big Brother. It's too bad you fell asleep in the car for an hour while Mom-E was in the "Girl Store" getting a replacement phone.

Don't worry though, we'll call you the next time.

See you Friday,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bribes Я Us

Okay, I admit it.

I bribed Big Brother (with good intentions), and it basically blew up in my face.

As discussed previously, Big Brother is quite the picky eater. That said, he's made a few gains as of late. For one, he rediscovered a previous infatuation with corn muffins, eating a total of five over the last two batches.

Meat and other non-yogurt sources of protein are still off limits for him, and I got a little impatient about his protein coming largely from Flintstones.

You see, Big Brother used to like peanut butter. I mean he LOVED his PB crackers. Then one day, about 2 years ago, apparently peanut butter was no longer en vogue, and it hasn't touched his lips since. We still don't know what happened.

And so, about a week or two ago, I told Big Brother if he tried peanut butter that he could go to Target and pick out a small toy (READ: INSERT BIG MISTAKE HERE). I figured a little extra incentive wouldn't hurt, and I already know he likes peanut butter. (I FIGURED WRONG).

Although the idea of a Lightning McQueen car piqued his interest, he didn't take the bait. Every now and again, I'd casually remind him, "if you take a bite of peanut butter, just one bite, we can go get that toy."

Out of the blue on Friday, he DID take the bait. A switch must've flipped, and he decided he was going to do it. I didn't even have to ask him. He said, "Dad-E, if I eat peanut butter on a pretzel, can I have that toy?" "Sure!" I said with excitement.

We ate peanut butter together, feeding each other PB-dipped pretzels. He ate about 4 pretzels. He even ate PB on a cracker. It was a great father-son bonding moment. I was THRILLED, and so was Mom-E.

As promised, we went out to pick out the toy. It was initially delayed by a trip to Verizon (SUBJECT OF THIS COMING WEDNESDAY'S POST--STAY TUNED), and Big Brother falling asleep in the car (for an hour after not napping all day).

We then stopped for a sandwich before going to Target, and at that point a now awake Big Brother LOST IT! He was tired of waiting and he wanted the toy NOW!

The stares of tens of pairs of eyes in the resteraunt burned like steaming hot guilt on my conscience. "My intentions were good, but now I've created an ungrateful monster (and a tired, groggy monster at that)," I thought.

We survived dinner (barely). We did go ahead and get him the toy (decided not to break a promise to a 4 year-old, even if he did throw a tantrum). The difference was night and day. Mom-E and I have never heard quite such a constellation of "thank yous" and "I love this car" and "wow that's a great present." There was enough gratitude left over to bottle up and sell.

But the story doesn't end here.

No, now Big Brother is in the process of trying extrapolate our deal, in an attempt to garner more toys.

The next day he asked "If I eat peanut butter on a cracker, can I get A-NOTH-ER toy?" "No," I replied. "You already ate peanut butter on a cracker." "No, I didn't," he retorted.

I started to feel like I was riding in a truck that's lost its brakes without a runaway truck ramp in sight.

He tried it again at dinner last night. "Dad-E, what do I get if I eat a peanut butter cracker?" "We'll be proud of you, that's it," Mom-E and I said in unison.

Without prompting, he even took a bite of a fruit and grain dinner roll (something he'd otherwise never do), and basically asked "what do I get for that?"
"We'll be proud of you, that's it," Mom-E and I again said in unison.

I should know by now that a test of wills versus Big Brother is doomed to fail. This child does (many) things on his own schedule. I'm not at all saying he's oppositional. He's a very good boy, very sweet and loving. There are just certain things that he's not going to do until he makes up his mind he's going to do it. Trying to push him into it will only delay the process. I can't think of ANYONE ELSE in the family who is like that.

*Ahem, ahem, ahem* (Sorry, some more guilt was stuck in my throat).

Food is just one of "those things" for him. Since then, I've offered him PB pretzels, which he now wants NOTHING to do with. Ouch.

Morals of the story:
1. Don't bribe your children. It's not worth it, and better on everyone if you don't.
2. Pass the Flintstones, please.

See you on Wednesday,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coach Busy-Dad-E

It seems not so long ago that I was playing YMCA youth soccer and biddy basketball, and Little League baseball.

Now it’s Big Brother’s turn.

He starts YMCA soccer next month, the whole family is pretty excited. We’ve already bought him some shin guards, soccer cleats, and a youth soccer ball. He’s had fun running around the yard in his “gear” (and even kicking the ball a time or two), which brings me a smile that warms my heart.

I’m excited about re-living this part of my childhood, about which I have very fond memories, vicariously through Big Brother.

I can remember my dad volunteering as an assistant coach for soccer, coach for basketball, and keeping official score for baseball.

Just last week, I got an email from the YMCA saying that they were in need of a coach and parents to help with the team. And so, I wrote back, saying “I’m happy to help as a parent assistant, but I can’t be the coach (I work full-time, travel to meetings periodically, etc.)”

The response comes back: “I will put you down as one of the coaches. For this age group we like to get all the parents involved during the season to keep it organized and structured, so there really isn't just one coach. I will be having a coaches meeting towards the end of next week. If you could make it and be the team representative that would be great.”

Okay, apparently none of the other Dad-E’s or Mom-E’s stepped up, and I’ve now been promoted to “Coach”.

Wow, talk about life coming full-circle (and feeling a little old, too). Don’t let it bite you on the back-side when it comes around!

While I’m excited, I’m also terrified. I haven’t played soccer since I was 10, not to mention coached anything.

In fact, the peak of my athletic career was as a Little League pitcher at age 12. At that point, I pretty much stopped growing, (most) everyone else didn’t, and physically I started getting left in the dust. By 10th grade, it boiled down a decision between riding the bench all season versus doing something else with my time.

And that brings me to my rant for today. I love sports, but our society has gotten completely out of control with it. I’m not even talking about the pro’s, but the youth level.

Sports are great for kids because it promotes values such as physical activity/fitness, team work, commitment, and discipline. Not to mention sports are just plain fun for them (and the parents who are watching).

We all have great stories about youth sports, like the kid who hits the baseball and starts running the bases backwards, or the kid who picks his nose/plays with dirt/picks flowers out in right field, or a huddle of kids all trying to kick a soccer ball (when the ball left the pile ages ago).

However, we’re at risk of losing the pure fun of youth sports. At earlier and earlier ages, the kids who are pretty good at a given sport start getting recruited for “travelling teams”, or summer leagues, or spring ball, or whatever. They often focus on playing one sport—year round. The ultimate goal of this seems to be to prepare kids to play Division I college athletics.

Fictitious example: “Johnny can’t play soccer this year because he has to play AAU basketball.” The problem is that Johnny is only 7 years old. Johnny shouldn’t have to decide between two sports (or a sport and a musical instrument or drama club or whatever for that matter). He should be playing and exploring (and having fun being a kid) while he can. He shouldn’t be required to “specialize” at his age.

I once missed part of a high school basketball practice to attend an after-school English honors program. The coach asked me “What are you going to do about English honors when we’re getting ready to play team X (big rival)?”

“What do you think I’m going to do?” I thought. “I’m going to go to English Honors. Do you realize that you’re a teacher, and you just accosted me about putting academics ahead of an extracurricular activity?” Unlike a large segment of society, I realized MY SPORTS CAREER WILL SOMEDAY COME TO AN END, AND THEN I HAVE TO FALL BACK ON MY BRAIN/SCHOOL. This even happens to some professional athletes who have a career-ending injury.

Okay, I’m putting the cart before the horse here. Big Brother hasn’t even officially started soccer. I’m getting carried away. I just vow not be be one of those "win-at-all-costs" fanatical sports parents. For now, we’re just going to go out there and kick the soccer ball around and have a good time. I just want him to have fun without being pressured.

And so, I leave you with Busy-Dad-E’s rules of coaching:
1. Have fun
2. Be a good sport
3. Always do your best
4. The rest is just details

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Odds and Ends

I'm going to go backwards here and start with "ends."

I was enjoying breakfast with the boys this morning, Big Brother sitting across from me, his face partially obscured by a tower of Legos, Little Brother strapped into his high chair next to me, when all of a sudden Little Brother made "THE FACE."

You know "THE FACE", the "suddenly quiet-turning slightly red-concentrating very hard-letting out a little grunt-I just pooped my pants" face. I love that face--cracks me up every time. What makes it even more amusing is that Little Brother makes that face while sitting in the high chair like clockwork. The probability he poops given that he's in his high chair approaches 85-90%. It's like moths to a flame.

And so, I hereby rename the high chair his "Poop Chair." (Of course, I immediately took him to the "throne room" and changed him). However, maybe Little Brother's on to something here, maybe he (and children everywhere) have already discovered the cure for constipation: just sit in a tall chair and eat something. Somebody should market that.

Big Brother not to be outdone, we'll now switch to "odds".

We took Little Brother to the pediatrician for a check-up this morning. The entire time the doctor was in the room, Big Brother played constantly with the stirrups that pulled out of the exam table. After the doctor left, while we were waiting for the nurse to come give Little Brother his shots, Big Brother continued to play with the stirrups. He would fold them in and out while standing on the step at the bottom of the table. Big Brother proceeded to tell us about how he was using the stirrups to operate a train. One stirrup made the train go, the other was a semaphore that told the train when to go and when to stop.

Although a little "odd" choice of something to play with, Big Brother's actions here were yet another reminder of how children "think outside the box". I'm constantly impressed with his growing imagination and creativity--he only needs his mind to have fun.

Lastly, for your amusement, I'll "end" with a little cartoon humor


Monday, February 16, 2009

Hotel Nights

My apologies to those of you who checked the blog on Friday (or over the weekend) and did not find a new post. I was away at a work-related meeting, and the wireless internet at the hotel was being oppositional. The entire family came with me, and everyone was either sick or tired when we got back, thereby deferring any new posts until today.

That said, our time away gave inspiration for a new commentary. I've discussed before all of the fun of getting ready in the morning for activities with young children, including getting ready for church, but we shouldn't neglect all of the fun at night that PRECEDES getting ready.

Q: What do you get when lock two parents, a preschooler, and a toddler into one (albeit) large room at night?

A: Chaos and insomnia, of course.

The boys travelled well in the car, both falling asleep. Of course, the moment we checked in to the hotel, both boys were WIDE awake, despite it being 1-2 hours past their usual bedtimes. The boys LOVE being in a hotel, the problem is they don't love SLEEPING in a hotel.

Big Brother, slightly delirious from fatigue, starts running around the room the moment we enter with an empty water bottle yelling "Bottle! Bottle!"

Not to be outdone, Little Brother becomes completely enamoured with the travel-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash in the bathroom. He liked them so much that I think we could probably have given away all of his "regular toys." I mean, he SCREAMED and CRIED if you tried to take them away. And so, if you're looking for a Christmas or birthday gift for the young child in your life, I suggest a supply of these travel-size items in a variety of colors. They make for endless hours of entertainment, and are even better to play with than the empty boxes regular toys come in.

You can only imagine the submission holds that was required to get the boys to fall asleep. We usually get a room with two double beds, plus a crib for Little Brother. At home, the boys are champ sleepers. They both can be put to bed, and fall asleep on their own. Put us all in the same room and all of that goes out the window. Little Brother sees everyone else having fun, so he prefers to stand in his crib cheering "Hey! Hey! (giggle, giggle)." Big Brother puts up a similar front of resistance.

Midnight. Finally, the boys are both asleep. Mom-E falls asleep as I put the finishing touches on my presentation. About two hours later, Big Brother has wet, I mean FLOODED, the bed. We change him and all of the linens we can. And people worry about hotel beds being dirty?

Two hours after that, Big Brother wakes up again, this time to spit-up. Poor guy. Too much excitement? Ran around the hotel so much that he shook himself up like a can of Coke? Spit up and pj's are cleaned, and he's back to bed.

By now it's around 4 am. The alarm at 6am seems way too close. Superman, can you fly around the Earth fast enough to turn back the clock and give me a few extra hours of sleep.

5:30 am. Little Brother wakes up. And he is UP. The odds of winning the lottery. are better than the chances of him going back to bed. His diaper now changed, he's ready for milk. Apparently, his romp around the room with the "hotel bottles" accelerated the metabolism of his milk/dinner. Thank goodness we have a little extra milk in the cooler, which eases the screaming.

I'm sure our "neighbors" love us right about now. It's just like when you're on an airplane and you see the mother with a screaming child walking towards you and you're thinking "please, not me." I'm sure our family has elicited that reaction a few times.

6 am. My alarm clock goes off. The phone rings with the "back-up" wake-up call from the front desk. "Good thing for both of those or I might've overslept," I think to myself sarcastically.

Did I mention that before Big Brother is even awake, Little Brother has already spilled milk into Big Brother's open suitcase and over all of his clothes?

You get the idea.

Now that Mom-E and I are "wide awake", time to start the routine of getting ready.

Let me tell you, I was a ball of energy for this meeting (but still wouldn't have it any other way--to have my family there with me).

Have a good week,

P.S. Belated Happy Valentine's Day. Busy-Mom-E got me a remote-controlled car! (Big Brother got a remote-controlled car for his birthday, and informed us that I needed one too so that we could "race together," and Mom-E obliged. How sweet.) What I won't admit to *ahem* (clearing throat) *ahem* is that I would've been excited about the RC car even in the absence of Big Brother's request. They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. This is partially true (as Busy-Mom-E's sous-chef, I'll sing the praises of her culinary abilities, as well as her ability to reform picky eaters), but the way also goes through children's toys. Let's face it, the chance to play with toys and relive part of childhood is one of the big perks of fatherhood. I, for one, don't play with my boys' toys after they go to bed, no, never *ahem* *ahem* (fingers crossed behind back while knocking on wood). Now, how to go about getting a Wii for Father's day?

Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Baby Baby Baby

Since my last two posts have been about new family members, let me just preface by saying that Busy-Mom-E and I are NOT expecting a third child (at this time). :)

Rather, in an attempt to be as fair and equitable as possible with our boys, this post is all about Little Brother. Despite less verbal output than Big Brother, he is still quite the communicator, and with this communication comes good fun and humor.

If I had to decide today, I would predict that Little Brother is going to be a veterinarian someday. He absolutely LOVES animals. Every time he sees our dog (or any animal for that matter), his face lights up with a smile and a shriek of excitement that rivals the reception he gives Dad-E or Mom-E when we get home from work.

And so, one of Little Brother's first signs was "puppy." From there, he quickly started trying to say the word "puppy", except that it came out "baby" (which he pronounces bay-bee, with the syllables very long and drawn out.)

Well, it didn't take long for the word "baby" to catch on. Every time he sees the dog, he makes the puppy sign and says "baby" (about three times "baby, baby, baby" with a finger point). Then, he got a stuffed dog (the same color and breed as our real dog), which was quickly named "baby." He carries this "baby" EVERYWHERE. "Baby" has been through the laundry so many times to decontaminate from food stains, spit-up, and being dragged on the floor (at home and in public), that he is starting to get a little ragged.

So, we had the idea of getting a second "baby" that we could interchange when the first "baby" was dirty and needed washing. The idea being that the two stuffed dogs would have equal wear and last longer. That plan backfired the first time Little Brother saw that there were actually two "babies", and he wanted to snuggle with both simultaneously.

Now, we've seen expansion of the word "baby" to refer to other (generally soft and plush) things. Blankets, other stuffed animals, and yes even "fur" from the fabric store are "babies." Whenever he sees a "baby", he often spontaneously looses all muscle tone and collapses to the floor to snuggle with it. This works well on most occasions, except for the time that a "baby" was on the kitchen floor and he bonked his forehead on the linoleum when he fell into a heap on top of it. Still, he has not been deterred.

And, of course, we don't want to forget "real babies." While visiting Little Nephew at the hospital, Little Brother was quick to point out and refer by name to all of the babies in the nursery with fervent excitement.

Thank you, Little Brother, for your love of all things "baby." The raw emotion of your passion and enthusiasm brings a smile to our hearts.


Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Uncle Busy-Dad-E

Yep, that’s right! As I alluded to in my last post, we have another new family member. I’m an uncle for the first time! Somebody slow down this population explosion. Congrats to my sister-in-law and her husband on their new addition, Little Nephew! They’ll make great parents, no doubt.

As everyone settles down into their new roles, including Aunt Busy-Mom-E, who is so thrilled about this new role she can’t settle down, I couldn’t help but reflect on becoming a dad-e for the first time.

I think that new parents get overly bombarded with advice on parenting, from everyone, including strangers. While this is usually well-intentioned, the fact is, my sister-in-law and her husband will be wonderful parents on their own. Let them relish in this moment, probably the happiest one of their lives. They’ll figure it out as they go. The combination of natural instincts, love for their child and each other will serve as a compass for parenting.

Sure they’ve got a lot of on-the-job learning (as my updated motto describes) to come, but experience is the best teacher. And so, rather, than give them advice, I decided to make a list of a few things I learned on the journey of being a first-time dad. I’ll focus on just the newborn period. I wish them the best on that journey—that first year goes by way too quickly.

Newborn Insights from a First-Time Dad:
1. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you get home with the baby from the hospital. It hits you all of a sudden: we have a baby now and we’re responsible for that child 24/7. I freaked out (briefly) at that moment. I think everyone does.
2. I chuckle every time I see the commercial/public service message that says “being a parent changes everything.” “Yep, you got that right,” I think to myself. “That’s an understatement.”
3. My wife has never looked at me quite the same—in a good way—I’m both a husband and a father now.
4. I’ve never been so tired in my entire life those first few weeks. I didn’t know I could get used to functioning on so little sleep.
5. As tired as I was, I enjoyed getting up to change the baby and bring him to Busy-Mom-E for feedings. Since I couldn’t breastfeed :), this was my time for bonding. Not to mention you will score countless husband points by bringing the child to your wife at night for feedings, so that she doesn’t have to get up.
6. Anyone without a baby at home takes little things like showering, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, and eating for granted.
7. If your wife is home all day with the baby while you’re at work, the first thing you need to do after greeting them is to take the baby from her. She probably has to do at least one of the things in #6 above.
8. Some of my fondest moments were rocking the baby or holding him on my chest in the wee hours of the morning when he was fussy and wouldn’t go back to bed. Big Brother and I once watched “The Bourne Identity” at about 3am, which I’m sure is why he loves movies so much now.
9. My wife would get up to look at the baby and feel to see if he was still breathing at least once a night, probably more. I soon learned that this is normal maternal behavior.
10. I was instantly bonded with my child the first time I saw him, and I would do ANYTHING to protect him.
11. My friends without kids started calling less and less, and I probably didn’t care.
12. I learned that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, takes about 2-3 times as long to do when you have a baby. I still remember that it took us about 6 hours in total (from getting ready to going out the door) the first time we went anywhere with Big Brother.
13. Proper car seat installation warrants Busy-Dad-E’s Honorary Engineering Degree.
14. As soon as the baby gets into a routine, the routine will change.
15. I never knew that one person so small could influence the actions and thoughts of so many adults, without even saying a single word.

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but I'm still residually tired, and these were the first things to come to mind.

Oh happy day,

Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Adventures of Chuck

It's time to welcome Chuck to the Busy-Dad-E family!

Chuck is, of course, Big Brother's newly-forming (literally) imaginary friend. Big Brother has always had a pretty good imagination, but things have been taking off as of late. As Big Brother's understanding of human interaction and the human condition increases--we've been talking a fair amount lately about the new daycare situation, babies, being a good big brother, and death (we're reading a children's book about George Washington that includes his death, not to mention deaths in just about every Disney story we read)--we think that Chuck may be with us for awhile.

And so, we don't know yet whether Chuck is Big, Little, Medium-sized, or just plain Busy. In fact, the details on Chuck change as fast as the fickle mind that created him. That said, we love to ask Big Brother questions about Chuck, to which he fires off rapid responses like he's know him forever.

Let me give you what details we do have:
-Chuck started out as a "code-word" for going to the new daycare, and then it meant the color yellow.
-Now, Chuck has the ability to morph his physical form--sometimes he's a boy, but other times he's a baby in a Mom-E's belly, and he can go back-and-forth easily. As best as we can tell, he's a boy about Big Brother's age.
-Chuck lives in the "other" "City, State" where we live. That is, Big Brother says he lives in a City, State with the same name as ours, but it's the "other" one (maybe a parallel dimension?)
-Chuck's Dad-E's name is Joe and his Mom-E's name is Henry(?). Apparently Joe does "statistician-work." Don't ask where he came up with that. My sister-in-law informed the family at age 5 she was going to be a palentologist (no one knew she'd ever heard of paleontology).
-Big brother and Chuck love to go to the "Jumping Place" (which is a real place).

Stay tuned for Chuck's next adventure. I can't wait to see how this is going to evolve.

Have a good weekend,

P.S. You'll notice the new label "Family members." More details to come in a future post.

Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Decisions Decisions

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” -John Allen Paulos

Parenting (and life for that matter) is filled with difficult decisions, made even more difficult by the fact that they are made on behalf of another person who can't truly make the decision. People (probably more men than women) often like to think of things "discretely", that is in absolute/"yes or no" terms. "I am either happy or I am not. My child is sick or well. That pizza tasted good or bad. Etc., etc."

In actuality, almost everthing in life occurs on a continuum. On a 0-10 scale where 0 is worst and 10 is best, if you rated your happiness today as a "9" and yesterday an "8", then you were happy both days, but you are happier today. By extension, the decisions we must make as parents don't fit into categories of "good" and "bad." Every decision is a balancing act between risks and benefits. And as the quote above suggests, there is no "right answer."

Recently, I've had several situations that exemplify this paradox:
1. We recently changed daycare arrangements for the days that Busy-Mom-E works (outside the home--both of us work hard every (moment of every) day--not going to start that dicussion, as avid readers of this blog already know my position here). We no longer felt comfortable leaving them with the (previous) nanny. Potential benefits: the boys will have more fun and more opportunities, be better cared for, Busy-Mom-E and Dad-E will be more "at ease", etc. Potential risk: maybe despite our "research" and "gut feelings", the boys don't adjust well, it's not a good fit, etc.

2. Busy-Dad-E's grandfather recently had some heart trouble. our family is faced with the decision of starting medication "X". Medication "X" significantly lowers the risk of bad event/death from condition "Y", but increases the risk of bad event/death from condition "Z". Condition "Z" is probably less likely than condition "Y", but it could still happen. Should he get medication "X"?

You see where I'm going here.

And so, there's no "right answer", but what do we do in these situations? Fear and insecurity? Bury your head in the sand? Flip a coin? I would argue that the answer is to TALK and PRAY as a FAMILY. I mean really talk, not the "Busy-Dad-E is blogging right now"/facebook status update kind of talk. Technology such as email, Blackberry, IM, Facebook etc., has given us this tremendous capacity to reach anyone in an instant, but the price is that we've forgotten how to communicate. Really sit down face-to-face with your spouse or significant other, and your children (if they're old enough), and discuss the risks and benefits of these decisions. Pray about them. God is always testing us, but these "tests" or "bumps in the road" encourage our faith, strengthen our families, and strengthen our relationship with Him. And in the end, do what you decide together is best, and act out of love for your family. That's all we can do, but it allows you to leave regret at the door.

And so, I leave you with the following quote from AA Milne:
“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh)”

Happy "over-the-hump" day,

Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Picky Eater

Big Brother is going to take his prom date to "Granola Bar Hut" for dinner. (Or, at least that's my worst fear.)

I admit it. Big Brother got the picky eater gene from Busy-Dad-E. Whether it's a case of immature taste buds or yet another way for a 4 year-old to be the master of his environment, Big Brother is my "Mini-Me" when it comes to eating. They say that you can "grow a child" on anything, and I think they're right.

Let me first confess (a few of) the sins of the father, as some background.
1. When I was a kid, I would only eat the mini Lender's bagels. If they were the full, adult-sized ones, I refused.
2. Foods were not allowed to touch each other, and were eaten in sequence (e.g., I'd eat all of my sandwich, then all of my chips, etc.) I'm still guilty of this one.
The next few things I did not eat until my early 20's (and now love)
3. Milk on my cereal.
4. Pudding.
5. Pasta with sauce (would only eat the noodles plain with a little salt and pepper)
6. Cooked vegetables (but I'd eat tons of raw vegetables).
7. Soup (I promised my grandma I'd try her vegetable soup by age 5, which never happened)
8. Salsa
9. Any toppings on a sandwich outside of meat and bread
10. Casseroles

Okay, you get the idea.

Although Big Brother doesn't eat much "junk food", such as chips or dessert, he is pretty limited in his food choices. No meat. No green vegetables. No sandwiches. No pizza. No chicken fingers. C'mon, some kids only eat chicken fingers?!?

Let me give you a sample menu from Chez Big Bro
-Le juice de chocolat (made from the finest cows, with a splash of chocolate soy milk)
-Your choice of:
--Belgian waffle (Eggo style, with High School Musical logo--and it HAS to be High School Musical (see Dad-E's sin #1 above).
God help us if that show ever goes out of style)
--Breafast pastry with icing (your choice of a fruit or brown sugar-cinnamon filled tart)
--Chia (aka cereal). Milk costs $1,000,000 extra

-Le juice de chocolat
-Cracker style fish (Whole grain, cheddar flavored. Note this product does not contain any actual fish)
-Bar du granola (Nutra Grain, you choice of fruit filling)
-Yogurt (your choice of Trix the Bunny or Sully from Monster's Inc.)
-Apple (just like the ones from the Wicked Stepmother's basket, hold the poison)

-Le juice de chocolat
-Les tots du tator. Ketchup also $1,000,000 extra
-Bar du granola
-Juice de yogurt (Danimals, your choice of red or purple)

Evening Snack:
-Multivitamin with Iron

Even Big Brother's behavior/answers (aka excuses) when it comes to eating must've be genetically determined as well.
1. "I don't like that, it's yucky." he says. "But you've never tried that," we reply. His usual counter-replies are "Yes I have" or "What's it yucky for?"
2. "I'll eat a sandwich when I'm 4." he said. Now that he's 4, he says, "I'll eat a sandwich when I'm a daddy."
3. Even if it's something he doesn't want, if you try to take the food away he'll scream that he wants it. His record for keeping something on the table this way is 2 days (okay, not really, but you still chuckled).
4. Big Brother is the master of trying something new one time, LOVING it, and then refusing to eat it again. Peanut butter and carrots (not together, but as separate items), are prime examples. I even have him on videotape eating carrots and saying that he loves them. We might as well burn the tape.
5. If something is made that is "deceptively delicious" (e.g., brownies with broccoli in them), he is NOT deceived and won't eat it.
6. Anything that is dessert, that does not meet criteria 5 above, he will eat.

The redemption is that I probably doubled or tripled the number of foods I ate (and the way they were prepared) in the first year Busy-Mom-E and I were married. Thank goodness for her patience. She made subtle suggestions and slowly gained my confidence. "If you like A, I promise you'll like B," she'd say, and she'd be right. It snowballed from there. I hope Big Brother marries a woman one day who is that good.

And so, we hold out hope for Big Brother. He's tried a few new things here and there. We continue to offer him a small amount of our meal (on his own plate), which he promptly refuses. The "cooker thing" (aka play kitchen) has helped his tolerance of having things like meat, rice, and vegetables within a half-mile of his plate. We ignore the screams, and will keep offering. I've tried to tell him that Dad-E waited too long to try these things, and he regretted it, but so far it's fallen on deaf ears.

Gotta run. Can I get my granola bar to go?


Rate this post (1 is lowest, 5 is highest)
5 free polls