Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Too Funny to Hold In

#1 Bunny got a haircut today. Her stylist's name? Jana Bendova

#2 JD had a #2 accident today at grandma's house. The consequence? The only bottoms she had that would fit were girl's panties.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My 32-month-old daughter is calling me, "Dude."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Start = Good Day

Today was a good parent day for me.

I hope that my best parent days are not when both the kids are in school.

What made it a good day?
-Maintained patience
-Use positive motivational tools and positive reinforcement consistently
-Managed time well
-Did some homemaking, some parenting, some stuff for me, some stuff for Wife

More specifically:

Started the day having woken up before the kids. That seems to make a huge difference consistently. There really is something that makes me . . . resentful when they wake me up. And it's not like they wake up particularly early - early for them is 6:30 while normal is more like 7:00, sometimes as late as 7:30, though that is rare. Bunny tends to wake up earlier than JD and will wake him up.

JD's 5th birthday was on the 12th. Included in his gifts from his (yikes) four parties were some math flash cards. So I busted them out and, using the wall calendar, did some simple addition.

I had laundry, phone calls and errands. Did everything get done? No. Does it ever? Rarely. Did the essentials get accomplished. Yes.

And that's where I struggle. Getting those one or two essentials done because I was focused on something that could have been accomplished at another time.

It's 11:42 PM! I have to go to sleep so I can get up before the kids and have another great start to the day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tomato Sauce

Came out pretty good. This was adjusted from how I actually made it.

2T olive oil
1c onion, finely chopped*
1/2c carrot, celery finely chopped*
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1t italian seasoning
1/8t red pepper flakes (optional. the more, the more kick. 1/4t was used tonight and it was a bit more heat than I'd intended)
28oz can whole tomatoes
2T red wine
2t sugar
1/4c finely chopped parsley
kosher salt, divided
black pepper

*the veggies need to be chopped fine enough to fit through the openings of the immersion blender. If you're using a traditional blender or food mill it's probably not such a big deal

Heat olive oil in pot / pan over medium heat until drops of water fizz, not crackle and pop.
Add onion, carrot, celery, large pinch salt (appx 1/4t). Stir regularly. You do not want the onions to scorch. This is important. Continue 5-8 minutes until veggies are soft but not brown.
Add Italian Seasoning, red pepper flakes, garlic & stir regularly for 1 minute. You will notice the fragrance of the herbs lose its sharpness while that of the garlic becomes more noticeable.
Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer (you can turn up the heat to save a few minutes, but remember that, in general, the higher the heat, the closer attention the food requires.)
Turn heat to med-low, add Red Wine and sugar and continue to simmer. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, mashing the tomatoes against the side of the pot. As the sauce simmers, the tomatoes will mash more easily.
Total simmer time 15-20 minutes. That is when the tomatoes have broken down about as much as you can do and the sauce has reduced a bit.
Add parsley, blend with immersion blender.
Taste sauce. Add salt, black pepper, and sugar to taste. (What does to taste mean? It means until you can taste salt. Just kidding. Salt is not there so that you taste salt. Salt brings out flavors. As you add a little more, it will bring out the flavors. Just don't overdo it. A maximum of 1t total, but many people would be happy with 1/2t.)
Simmer 5 minutes, serve or store.

Served tonight with penne & meatballs with steamed broccoli and baguette. Yummy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

List of Awesome

The awesome things that happened today:
I ran 3.5 miles in 31 minutes in 20 degree weather.
Bunny and I shared a glass of chocolate milk. She absolutely loves chocolate milk and so do I. We are both big chocolate lovers, in general.
Instead of serving veggies on the kids' plates with the rest of their dinner where they could easily be ignored, I had them come to the table and handed them plates with nothing but a carrot each. That and the promise that their pizza (split 1/2 slice from a large pizza) and hot dog (uncured chicken dog from Trader Joe's) would be ready soon. Worked like a charm.
Remembered to pick up dry cleaning so that Wife would have a clean suit for her big deposition tomorrow.
Bunny pooped in the bathtub and I did not get arrested for toddlercide. Instead, I got the kids out of the bath and into the shower, gave her a good dressing-down, and sent her to bed with no story. Don't worry, she probably read or was read to 5-10 times today.
JD and I played some crazy game with cut-outs from paper plates I had intended for use in obstacle courses while watching the Blackhawks spank the Buffalo Sabres.
Kept my schedule.

Focus on the positive and the negative suddenly looks as insignificant and powerless as it really was.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Gift of Maturity

This past Saturday morning, Wife and I got out of bed at 10:15 AM. This is highly unusual. After all, we have a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. They certainly didn't sleep until 10:15.

A few weeks ago, Wife and I were in bed. The night before, I had a hockey game that started at 11:10 PM, so I didn't get to bed until 2 AM. So on Sunday morning, the kids woke up around 7 AM. That's pretty normal for them (yes, we're pretty lucky in that respect.) I was not prepared for them to crawl around our bed and bicker in our room while we clamored for a few extra minutes rest. So I said, "Hey guys, go play with your toys downstairs."

This had not occurred to either of us, but it resounded with them, as if I gave them permission to do something they'd longed to do for some time.

So that's what we do. They come to our room and I tell them to go downstairs. (My side of the bed is next to the door.) Usually by 8 AM one or both of us are ready to get up and deal with them. Or one or both of them will come up and demand sustenance. The nerve.

While this is newfound glory, there is always the flip-side. Getting up late means getting up late. That means breakfast at 9, start to get groomed and dressed around 10 and not ready to do anything out of the house until 11.

That's a dramatic departure for a family who, just a few months ago, would be waiting for Toast Lincoln Park to open at 8 AM on Saturday or Sunday morning. Up by 7, out the door by 7:40 or 7:45. (After all, there's a wait to sit down by 8:15 or 8:30.) Then we'd be home by 9:30 and starting chores, planning our shopping trips, or simply playing with toys.

Like all new changes, this will take some adjustment. It will be tempting to take advantage, but the reality is that time during a weekend is precious and, while some mornings require additional rest, most will require the full duration of the day.

The best part, really, is that the kids are able to go and play independently and, in general, without killing one another or themselves. One of the best things about having siblings is that, in the event that they play nicely together, it is among the most satisfying feelings I have experienced as a parent.

Of course, when they bicker and fight, it creates some of the most enraged feelings I have experienced as a parent. But that's all part of the fun, isn't it?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Fights Not Worth Fighting

I am not going to stop Bunny from dipping tortilla chips into her water, then eating the chips, then drinking the water.

Aside from the inherent disgustingness of it, there is nothing dirty about it. Carry on, my terrible 2-year-old. Experiment away.

Time Management *update*

This is an update from the "Email Backup . . ." entry from yesterday, 1/4/12.

How'd it go? There were a few things that I didn't get to, but overall, a success. There were some things that I couldn't foresee.

First, the UPS store entry. I was helping a friend who took her family to San Diego for a month. They forgot one piece of luggage that had some important items. In trying to find the best way to ship the bag, I tried to call the UPS store before going there (you know, from the old Illinois Bell commercials, "Phone First.") Though it was during business hours, they didn't pick up in several phone calls spanning about an hour. That threw off my cooking timing and time to spend with JD. C'est la vie.

Bunny was being "extra special" yesterday. Highly volatile. Well, even more so than usual. After returning home from preschool, it was a battle. Sitting down to play a game probably would have been the best thing to do, but I had to tend to the Chipotle Chicken Chowder on the stove. Then she pooped in her diaper just before we were scheduled to leave. That was my fault - not making time to put her on the toilet in plenty of time before we left the house.

And that's the thing that I see is a problem with having a tightly wound schedule like this. It sets time limits rather than priorities.

Oh, and it took a long long time to construct that schedule.

Perhaps I can set blocks of time in which I can accomplish like items. For example, I probably could have started JD on a table time activity together with tasks he could do on his own while I did various steps of the recipe. Instead of setting a time for Jewel, USPS, dry cleaners, and UPS store, I should have done them all after showering, as they are all within a square block of one another.

Thanks, Ed, for giving me some software tips. I fell asleep during TV time with Wife, but will peruse them tomorrow night. Of course, I did make time for some guitar. Working on Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and Turkey in the Straw. Probably should work on some more relevant songs than Turkey in the Straw, though. :-)

Tonight is stir fry night with brown rice, an 8:00pm haircut, then a 9:40pm hockey game.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

For blogging purposes, I will call Bunny's preschool teacher Ms. Polar Bear because Bunny is in the "Polar Bear Room."

While picking Bunny up today, Ms. Polar Bear recalled this story from earlier in the day.

Ms. Polar Bear said that she was working with Bunny about being a good listener and taught Bunny about "listening ears."

In talking about being a good listener, Bunny (who will be 3 in May), said, "Please don't tell Daddy."

I like a little fear in my kids. It means I'm doing my job, not being their friend. And her exclamations of, "Daddy!" when I pick her up from preschool show me that she loves me. I'll be her friend when she's graduated from college.

Finger lickin' good

JD: Dad, what are you eating?
Me: pirate booty and a sandwich
JD: you like pirate booty?
Me: I do. It's yummy.
JD: (between licks of his hands) my hands are yummy, too!

Ever had Pirate's Booty? Good stuff. Slightly less bad-for-you than cheetos, possibly more addictive.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Email Backup Is A Reflection Of A Larger Problem

75 emails. That's how many emails I have in my inbox that have "unread" priority. That's 75 individual items that I have putt off until later.

The reality, is that that number is hardly the only place in my life where I have projects hanging in the balance.

Too much aspiration, too little focus, or poor time management?

Choosing between those is like deciding whether to call a penalty for high sticking or cross checking when a hockey player gets a cross-checked to his head.

Rather than focusing on how to dissect the problem, I am moving forward with an attempt at a solution.

Trying to block off every minute of every day on my Google calendar. I have an Android-based phone, so my calendar is always with me, can send me reminders, can be shared with others, and can be updated anywhere.

Make time to clear off my desk. You know what, wait here while I put that into my calendar . . .

I'm back. Yes, I stopped writing my entry to input "Clear off basement desk". This Saturday at 9am. What's more, I sent the "event" to Wife so to avoid the scenario where, come Saturday, I haven't told her about this grand plan.

And that's what I need to do, but for everything. In fact, I'm going to design my day tomorrow:

6:30am wake up, put on weather, get dressed for morning run to school
6:50am go downstairs and get breakfast ready for kids, wash face, put in contacts
7:15am wake kids if they haven't woken already
7:16am Bunny (formerly Toodles) on the potty immediately, send JD downstairs to get dressed
7:17am fight with JD who wants to play with his 'guys' and not get dressed
7:18am read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?" to Bunny
7:25am get Bunny dressed, hope that JD isn't just staring at his plate but is actually eating.
7:40am walk out the door with dry cleaning bag & checkbook & mail
8:00am arrive at Bunny's preschool
8:30am USPS
8:35am Jewel
8:50am dry cleaners
9:00am stretch
9:10am shave, shower, dress
9:40am UPS store
10:00am make chipotle chicken chowder with JD
11:00am table time with JD
11:15am pretend play with JD
11:45am prepare lunch
12:00pm serve lunch
12:30pm leave to pick up Bunny
1:00pm back home
1:10pm exercise with kids (wii fit / just dance?)
1:40pm get kids out the door for JD Tx session
2:00pm go to park for 20 minutes
2:28pm arrive for Tx appt
2:30pm - 3:30pm JD Tx appt
2:35pm go grocery shopping with Bunny
3:00pm play in Tx center lobby / waiting area
4:00pm arrive home
4:05pm TV time for kids; get dinner ready
4:45pm play with kids (matching game?)
5:30pm Mommy comes home
5:45pm dinner
6:15pm clear dinner; Bunny & JD to bath
7:00pm pajama time; help Bunny get dressed herself
7:15pm story time
7:35pm kids to bed, take out contacts, wash face, brush teeth
7:45pm put laundry away while watching TV
7:55pm watch TV with Wife
9:00pm write blog entry
10:00pm play guitar
11:00pm go to bed

And there's so much more that could go in there.

Some people would look at that and see the lack of time for incidentals / what-ifs. I am the kind of person who isn't afraid to change the schedule. It's making the schedule and prioritizing things that's the important part. If I actually look at this tomorrow, it's more like a grocery list that's written with intricate knowledge of the store. There's always a chance that an unexpected sale will pull me away, but I'll still get everything on the list. And if the kids don't get as much TV time or we have to make park time the exercise time, that's okay.

Will follow up with my progress.