Monday, August 25, 2008

Mini Golf

I went to the miniature golf course located outside the Diversey Driving Range. Accompanying me was a friend of mine and JD. With my membership to the park district golf association, it was $6 per adult and JD was free.

A good thing he was free, too, because he didn't play. He held the club and the ball and ran up and down the greens on each hole, occasionally stopping to 1) step into the cup, seeing if he could twist his ankle or 2) throw his ball into a water hazard.

Eventually, the course became less about trying to putt the ball into the hole and more seeing who could putt their ball to the hole without JD getting in the way. Upon completion of a hole and walking up to the next, JD would run about ten feet up the new green and then stop. Right in the middle of the putting alley, he would just stop and look at us.

Oh, he would run onto adjacent greens, especially the one occupied by the little girls. I kid you not, he found them and flirted as well as a 19-month-old can. They were charmed.

My friend was cool about the whole thing. We certainly weren't there to compete for the putt-putt championship, but rather to hang out and give him a chance to see my boy for a bit.

It actually was fun, but we could probably had just as much fun dragging his t-ball set out to a park and hitting some line drives. He's currently hitting the ball about ten to fifteen feet every other swing. Maybe I'll figure out how to put some video on this blog thing. Oh, and update pictures.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great Moments

Today was my wife and my third anniversary. Aside from our date tonight, I brought JD downtown to her office where I gave her flowers and went out to lunch.

First of all, I prefer to arrange my own flowers. Maybe if we had tons of extra cash, I would be more open to sending flowers, but I was able to buy a dozen red roses and two dozen petite roses for the price of delivery. And I'm pretty good at arranging, if I do say so myself.

So JD and I drove downtown and brought the vase up to her floor, where I would page her to bring us inside. After paging, I gave JD one of the petite roses and hid in the adjacent hallway. My wife opened the door and crouched down. JD, rose in hand, took off toward her and then, as he got close said, "Mommy!" and stuck out his hand, offering the rose to her. I could not have staged it any better.

It's moments like that that make being a parent worth any of the hardships that kids can give us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Language Arts

It has been assessed that JD is behind in his language development. Although he uses jibberish in a banter manner, the development of his vocabulary and the spontaneous use of that vocabulary has been slow. Therefore, we have enrolled him in a preschool; one of the specialties of the school is language development.

Over the last few months, JD's vocabulary has increased dramatically. Before seventeen months, he barely said Mama and Dada. Now he uses around fifteen words spontaneously and probably has up to fifteen more words that he'll repeat. He's now nineteen months.

So what's the problem?

The problem is that he doesn't use his vocabulary to express himself. While he knows the words for milk and water, he doesn't use them when he's thirsty; instead, he'll whine and point, a skill for a 9-12 month old. He knows "all done" for being finished with his food, but will throw food from his tray or hit away any offerings for myself or his mother. While he knows the words up and down, he whines and sticks his arms out when he wants to be picked up.

He started to get better a couple of weeks ago, signing or saying "more" when he wanted more food or drink, saying "apple" when he wanted fruit, or "cookie" for cookie or cracker.

This week, he's reverted back several steps. He's being more aggressive when he's done with his food, is rejecting milk, and generally not using words and signs that had given him success.

The frustrating part is that I know what he wants, but don't want to give in too soon. But how soon is too soon? At what point does my frustration from his frustration actually lead to reversing his development? Certainly, I know that there is such thing as overdoing it. Usually, he'll get what he wants before total breakdown (his and mine.) But when it's something that I know he can do or say perfectly well, that I'm certain that he knows the answer, how do I give in?

These are some of the concerns that I will bring to his preschool teacher tomorrow morning. I'll update if I remember!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Play Kitchen Review: Little Tikes Inside Outside Cook 'N Grill Kitchen

After doing some research on play kitchens, my wife and I decided to buy the Little Tikes Inside Outside Cook 'N Grill Kitchen. The factors in the decision included price, gender favorable, and least amount of synthetic noises. We purchased it from Toys 'R Us in Chicago on Western Ave. for $129.99 plus tax.

Set up was difficult. Mainly, excessive tools and force were needed almost every step of the way. Faulty manufacturing was the problem. Holes to hang the doors did not exist and had to be drilled. Looking back at the directions, my memory was accurate for once – they specifically said not to use a drill. (I did anyway for the entire install.) The procedure had to be repeated for the cabinets, the microwave, the refrigerator, and the phone. For all of the other screws, using a screwdriver manually would have taken forever; each hole had to be opened, then had to penetrate sometimes two or three layers of hard plastic. There's no way I could have done it by myself in less than four hours. I have a Ryobi drill and set the torque to the lowest setting so that it wouldn't push the screws too deep. That and a gentle touch sped up the process.

The other difficulty we found was inserting the range knobs. Even putting soap on the ends as was recommended, it was tough.

I'm 6'5", 200 lbs. and in play hockey regularly. Some of you might also be able to overcome the difficulty, but I would use caution.

On the other hand, The price compared to other kitchens was $20-70 cheaper and, once set up, it is awesome. JD loves it.

All in all, if you are an expert toy setter-upper with an assortment of tools, this is a good buy. Perhaps others don't have the manufacturing flaws this did; maybe we got the bad box. I could have returned it, but the thought of putting it back into the box or even just into the car, burning the gas, then hauling it back into the store only to deal with the savvy, motivated personnel at Toys R Us left me motivated to make it work.

I have contacted Little Tikes to tell them the difficulty I had. I also tried to post a review on the Toys R Us website but had some trouble.

I'll try to get a picture up of JD playing with it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roast Beef

As usual, JD was in his high chair with my wife and I flanking him right and left, respectively, at our round, black table at dinner time. JD was served a roast beef sandwich with cheese and bacon (yeah, a Kosher meal, I know) on whole wheat. My wife and I were having salads with grilled chicken and ginger soy dressing. (Trader Joe's Fat Free dressings are amazing.)

JD was happy eating sandwiches until about a week ago when he decided he could go straight for the bread and discard the internal components. So last night, he was taking the roast beef, etc., off of the sandwich in favor of the mayo-covered bread.

As the meal went on, we started joking and laughing as usual. Suddenly, JD took a piece of the discarded roast beef and threw it at my wife. It stuck to her left upper arm. As if a booger had flown onto her she said, "Get it off!"

After removing the cold cut from her arm, I knew that I had to say something to him about throwing food, but it was too funny and I had to hide my hysterics in silence. I pulled my shirt collar up over my face and turned away so JD would not see my face turning red and my snickers