Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Good Ending to a Tough Morning

You know what it's like. Trashing every toy. Refusing to eat. Every time I try to play one game, he gets up and goes to another one. Cleanup attempts are battles. Everything is chaos.

But then there was nap time. 1:00pm came around. I picked him up and started up the stairs. Halfway up, he tried to throw himself from my grasp. Did I mention I had a laundry basket in my other hand and hip? Fortunately, I have big hands and long arms.

Anyway, we got upstairs, set him and the basket down, and locked the gate behind me, blocking him from getting there. I knew he would try to bolt to the stairs the second I put him down. He ran to it, found it locked, and sat down and cried. I took a deep breath, (probably the hundredth time I'd taken a deep breath today,) squatted down, and put my arms out. "Can I have a hug?"

The truth is, I needed a hug as badly as he did. He got up, then sat back down. His crying was subsiding. He got up again and walked into me and then hugged me. Then he said, "Teeth." He likes brushing his teeth.

After getting his tooth brush, we sat down in the glider next to his crib. While he sat in my lap, we read the usual two books: There's a Wocket in My Pocket (he calls "Pocket")and Fox in Socks (he says the whole name) by Dr. Seuss. Then I picked him up and we hugged while I sat and sang his favorite songs du jour, Jingle Bells ("Dashing") and Bye Baby Bunting (Bunting). After a couple rounds of both, I set him down in his crib. He stood up, but I told him to lay down and, singing again, put a blanket on him, turned on his night light, and walked out, closing the door behind the last word of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star ("Twinkle.")

This is our routine when it's bedtime or naptime. It was nice to get back to our good times after a long morning of fighting.


If you park on the street, here are a couple of snow recommendations.

First, don't be cheap about outfitting your car. I strongly recommend snow tires. You can often find deals for a set installed for $400 or less total. If you just replied, "but I have all-season tires," you are misinformed. All-season tires are meant for light snow. They are not engineered for deep snow and ice. Ask anyone who has winter/snow tires and they will tell you that the difference is remarkable. All-wheel-drive? Still put 'em on.

You'll also need a good snow brush and ice scraper. I just bought an awesome one that extends and has these nice padded handles at Costco for around $12. You may have to spend as much as $15. Do it. You'll thank me. Also, get a shovel. After the plow just went by on your side street, you'll find a foot or more piled up alongside your car. A broom is a nice extra. If you drive on the highway, or are prone to getting stuck, a bag of cat litter and some boards.

Next, you're dealing with the snow on your car. Some people just clear their windows so they can see. Others will include the hood. DO THE WHOLE THING. Top to bottom: hood, roof, in the nooks between the windshield and the hood, and the wheel wells.

Many people use their windshield wipers to help clear snow. Don't. They are meant for rain and some snow. They were not meant to clear several inches at once. And on the sides of the windshield, too. If they have to push too hard and don't have full range of motion, the motor will burn out prematurely.

If you don't clear the hood and roof, you are losing valuable fuel mileage. Snow is not only heavy, but is like carrying a mattress or other big block on your car. It will also fall in big clumps and scare, if not potentially injure, other drivers. If you don't do the hood, you are the person whose vision will be impaired. If you don't have one of the nice, big snow scrapers like I recommended, this is where the broom comes in handy.

And finally, the shovel. Don't waste gas spinning your tires backward and forward. Shovel a path for your car. It will take about the same amount of time as spinning your wheels. And it will probably save you a trip to the gym. If you really want to get altruistic, shovel the space after you leave it for the next person. If we all did this, we wouldn't have a problem the next time we park.

What are the boards and cat litter for? We all hear this, but seldom get direction on their use. You will need a shovel to use them. If you're stuck and you have all of these items, here's what you do. You will need to shovel driving tracks behind, underneath, and ahead of your car. Jam the boards under the drive tires (or all of them if you have enough boards) so that when you get going forward, you'll get on top of them. Pile up a good amount of cat litter behind the tires. This will act as gravel and another platform on which your car can get traction. Finally, GO SLOW. Start by going backward 2-6 inches. Now forward. Use the low gear. Push the pedal down so slowly that your car will barely start to rock up on to the boards. You will barely move. If you push too hard, you will spray cat litter, push the boards out of the way, and dig yourself in deeper. You'll have the RPMs up high, but will barely move. As you move up on to the boards and start going, ease off the pedal a big so you don't hurtle yourself into the street at fifty MPH.

Finally, if you see someone stuck, stop and help. If you're outfitted properly, you'll feel really good about having helped someone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Appreciation for the Flashlight

A power outage makes one appreciate the little things that we take for granted.

Like central heating. Lights. Digital Cable. Cordless phones. Refrigeration.

All things that we consider utilities these days.

Obviously, we had a power outage tonight. It was about 7:30pm. I was in the basement bathroom. After unzipping my pants, taking aim, and letting it fly, darkness ensued. Fortunately, I have good aim. And good lungs - my wife was wondering where I was and how long it would be to bring her a flashlight. I was laughing, trying to tell her that I was peeing.

ComEd's automated system said the power would be restored by 9:30pm. We resolved to get some books and read to JD in bed till he had to go to sleep. Around 8:30pm, power was restored. It felt like I was under water and was finally able to breach the surface and take a breath. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks lost.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fun with Potty Training

JD is not potty training, but some of his play group friends are.

During his play group birthday party, nature called to me. I adjourned to the bathroom where I noticed that the toilet had been used but the contents were not flushed.

The toilet contained a small poop and some pee. I laughed, flushed, then did my business.

While doing my business, I realized what I had seen, and what was missing. Have you guessed yet?

Toilet paper. That's right! The previous party failed to clean his rear end. He or she did wash hands, though, as the step was pushed to the sink and the sink was a mess.

Kids do the darndest things, don't they?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Party Time!

JD's second birthday is upon us. Well, Monday, anyway. To celebrate, we are throwing three separate parties to accomodate all of his friends, our friends, and our family.

Today was the first party, thrown for JD's play group friends. We've been attending the same play group for more than 18 months. I think the count in attendance was around 14 kids and 7 adults.

Saturday we are hosting a party for our friends who have kids. Some of them are JD's buddies, some are acquaintences. There will be around 10 kids and 15-20 adults.

Sunday is the family party. Last year, my wife's extended family was invited. This year mine is. We'll have 2 kids and around 25 adults.

Madness, I tell you!

For the kid parties, we're doing cupcake decorating. It's fun, easy, and everybody likes cupcakes. I have made them myself. The yellow cake cupcakes came out very good. The chocolate cupcakes came out okay. Both are very tasty (as good as bakery), but they aren't quite up to bakery presentation quality. Frankly, I don't think the kids will care what they look like as they are plastering them with frosting, M&Ms, Dots, and sprinkles.

For the family party, it's pizza and salad with a store-bought cake. I wouldn't be afraid to make the cake; it's the fillings and frostings that appear to be the hard part. I'm a snob when it comes to cooking - if I'm making the cake from scratch, I should make the frosting and buttercream from scratch, right? I made the cupcake frosting myself. That came out nicely. But making the buttercream and the frosting, then actually putting them on the cake and getting everything even and looking nice? I'll leave that to the professionals. I make tasty, not pretty.

We'll see how everything goes. I'll post pictures next week, if I survive.