Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happiness Is Watching a Toddler Run

It's the head bobbing back and forth. Or is it the hands waving uncontrollably? Or is it the heavy steps? Or is it the smile? Or is it the drool? Or is it the wonder in his eyes? Or is it the intent on his face?
There really is something incredibly special and fun about watching a toddler run. Do it sometime. Just watch him or her run around. JD goes from room to room, chasing me or my wife, running away from me playing monster, or going to the door when the doorbell rings.
Sometimes he'll run down the hallway and stop before reaching the living room and peek around the corner to see what's there.
Sometimes he'll run into the room, smile and screech, turn around and run the other way.
Sometimes he'll run full force into my crotch, forehead and fists first.
He trips, falls, and gets back up. A great adventure is finding a ramp that he can run up, turn around, then run back down, repeat. Over and over.
I'm even writing a song about it. Seriously.
If you get the chance, go to a park and watch the toddlers run around. They'll run, then stop and look around, then run some more.
You'll wish you could have the same sense of wonder, curiosity, and anxiousness to figure it all out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

If you're buying new windows...

Whatever you do, don't buy Pella windows. I have two reasons why you shouldn't. First, a friend in the business. Second, personal experience.

I did not buy Pella windows. They came with the house that we bought last November. The problem that I'm having is two-fold and deals with a sliding glass patio door with a retractable screen. First, water leaks through the frame of the door. Second, the retractable screen is missing the part that hold the screen so that it can be pulled out.

A friend of mine works for his family business, Savocchi Glass, Window & Door Company. He says that servicing Pella windows and products is difficult.

It seems as though the manufacturer makes it difficult because they have their own service people. Therefore, they probably make the products so that they do not take universal parts. They also probably make it difficult to obtain repair procedure manuals. These assumptions are made based on my experience in the auto repair business, where car manufacturers make it difficult to get repair procedures, though they do sell parts over-the-counter.

The second reason for my warning against Pella products is that the service is difficult to come by and the manufacturer is disorganized. My experience, though not complete has been the following. I called to get an appointment and the soonest was approximately three weeks out. They asked me to send pictures of the product in question so that they could send the appropriate parts with the technician. When the technician arrived, he found that one of the parts needed to repair the problem was not properly packaged with the set. He said that such was not uncommon. He also asked if he could leave the correct parts in our garage, as he said that it would be likely the box would come up missing in the time it would take to order the misboxed part. Such statements do not give me the feeling that such a company would be worth doing business with.

They seem to be the type of company who is good at getting their product name out and onto store shelves, but are bad at servicing their products. If I were buying new windows and did not already have a connection, I would definitely read reviews and talk to several independent window installers to get an idea of which products are good to purchase, install, maintain, and repair. As much as we do not like to think about it, all things break and will need to be serviced. You want to have a product that is serviceable.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The End of Happiness: Hello Terrible 2s

Ok, so that's much more dramatic than it needs to be. We are still a very happy family. So what has changed? What's going on that would allow such a title to a blog entry to exist?

JD tries to get through openings between furniture that don't exist. He throws a tantrum. JD wants to go outside but is redirected. Tantrum. JD wants to run from the sidewalk into the street but is blocked off or redirected. Tantrum. My wife or I try to put him into his high chair for dinner. Tantrum. He is stopped from going through the garbage can. Hitting the TV with a hockey stick. Running from the garage into the alley behind. Prevention causes tantrum.

And that's what's happening. He is easily rattled. It is frustrating for both of us.

Obviously, the reality is that we are at a communication impass at a time when the world is exposing itself and it's possibilities. He wants to play with every toy, to climb every staircase, to run full speed down every ramp, to join in three-on-three basketball games, so cross the street unassissted, and the list goes on. All of these things that are hazards and I don't know how to explain that to him.

Also, he has began to refuse all of the foods that he loved for so long. Egg sandwiches, pears, cereal and others have gone from being immediately consumed to immediately thrown to the floor.

There are certainly other factors. The weather here in Chicago has been less cooperative than usual, preventing us from being outside the house as much as we'd like. JD's also has some illness over the last couple of weeks that have prevented us from taking advantage of some of the few weather days. Those illnesses have also prevented us from participating in playgroups and Gymboree. JD is certainly craving some playtime with other kids. I know that I get stir-crazy when I don't get a night out with the guys or even just to play some hockey. It must certainly be the same for JD.

All of this is probably pointing to something that I am lacking as a parent: good planning skills. Not only planning for the next day or the next week, but planning for unforseen times. For instance, having a plan for a rainy day. Having a plan for alternate meals. I lack diversity in the activities that we do during the day. With JD sleeping so much (yeah, woa is me) we really have about two-and-a-half to three hours of play time. And that's if I don't have shopping to do. Otherwise we're eating or preparing dinner. Want to shower? There's thirty minutes.

But if I learned to plan better, and stuck to those plans, we would probably be more productive.

I'll try that and let you know how it's going.