Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 o'cocktail

On one hand, it makes me sad that I occasionally use alcohol to help me cope with my late afternoon / early evening "I've had it" feelings.

On the other hand, who the fuck cares? I feel fantastic!

And it doesn't help me "escape." I am well aware that my "problems" are small and are with me the whole time as opposed to the concept that they will be there when I come down.

In some ways, I think, in a small dose, not a case of beer or a bottle of wine, but a single serving, can bring serotonin back from depressed levels. Terrific rationalization. See "The Big Chill" about rationalizations. The question is, how will my chemical balance be once the euphoria wears off?

At least the Arizona Wildcats are playing tonight! They'd better win!

Shocking Play Date Revelation

Bunny had a friend of school over for a play date today. After lunch, the girls decided to play dress-up. They pulled some dresses from Bunny's treasure chest.

First, Bunny came to me because she was having trouble getting the Disney dress over the dress she was already wearing. I showed her how to tuck the tutu-style skirt into the dress, then pull the play dress up and on.

Then, Friend came to me with a similar problem. She asked to take her dress off before putting on the play dress. I suggested that she tuck hers in to the play dress the same way I had shown Bunny.


Full-out meltdown, followed by her stomping out of the room, laying down, and doing a yell-cry to ensure that all of Chicagoland could hear her plight. I said from the kitchen where she had approached me, "When you're ready to talk, stop crying and come see me."

In a few minutes, she did return. I thought of a moment, then explained that the play dress was not intended to be put on without any clothes underneath and suggested that she see Bunny to borrow a shirt that she could wear under the dress. So she went and returned with shirt in hand. Then I unbuttoned her dress and asked her to take it off. It became so challenging for her that she started yelling and crying and went to the floor, writhing in agony. I asked if that was the customary way she removed her dresses. She looked like a magician trying to escape from a straight jacket and, to my surprise, was ultimately successful. The borrowed shirt and, in turn, play dress went on far less dramatically.

In the next twenty minutes, she melted down a couple more times because Bunny referred to herself and her friend as, "Goo goo ga ga-s." This was a most displeasing insult, just short of insulting the dress she wore to school. Things settled down and they played nicely for another ten minutes when there was something else to fight about. This continued for the next two hours, the duration of the play date.

Bunny, as you know if you read regularly, is no angel. Hanging out with another child who falls apart regularly makes me feel a little more normal.

Bunny melts down so much that I can't keep writing about it for fear of finding when I look back on my entries that my entire parenthood was consumed with dealing with an irrational whiner. If I mix in the good things, I can write history any way I see fit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Simon Says, the Potty Version

JD was on the toilet. Suddenly, I heard from the bathroom, "Simon says, 'Make a big stink!'" Then, laughter.

I asked, "JD, did you say, 'Simon says make a big stink?'"

He could barely say yes, he was laughing so hard. I had a good laugh, too.

Happy omelette

My food network hero is Tyler Florence. I love Bobby Flay and Alton Brown, but Tyler is the one who made me want to cook from scratch. He is my favorite chef to watch cook by himself.

A few weeks ago, I caught his show in which he made an omelet. Here are some of the keys to making an omelet successfully without using a non-stick pan.

First is choice of pan. If you're only doing one to two eggs, use a small pan. Three or more, increase size appropriately. If your pan is too big, the omelet stands little chance of holding together upon the transfer. Too small and you'll end up burning the bottom of the eggs or they'll simply take forever to cook. (You can use this method and finish them in an oven, but that's a lot of steps for a quick breakfast.)

A lot of oil is unnecessary. Put in a heavy teaspoon and get it warm, then wipe it all over the pan with a smooth kithing towel or wadded up paper towel. Heat over medium-high until a pinch of water flicked in has a heavy sizzle but does not crackle. If you want oil or butter flavor, a little after the first step will go a long way.

After cracking your eggs into your bowl, add a pinch of salt. Remember, salting before cooking will result in less salt use and it will allow the salt to do its job: salt is used to bring out the flavors of the food, not to make food taste salty.

When the pan is heated to the right temperature, add the eggs and, after about ten seconds, use a silicone spatula to move them around a bit, not quite scrambling them. If you oiled correctly, you'll notice that the eggs pull away from the stainless pan just like they would in a non-stick pan. This will even out the cooking just like stirring a sauce and help keep the eggs from browning (too much. Getting them perfectly golden takes some practice.) Then, use the flat side of the spatula to even out the top of the eggs with a stroke similar to icing a cake. Then, remove from heat. After a few minutes, the eggs will cook through using its own steam.

I have not mastered the art of adding other ingredients so that they are not only folded inside the omelet, but also mingled with the eggs. Regardless, use another pan to heat additional ingredients. My guess is that, after cooking the additional ingredients, start the eggs and then, after adding the eggs to the pan, add the ingredients and fold them in while moving the eggs around. Will let you know how that goes next time.

This morning, I was hungry and wanted an omelet. Looking in the fridge, I found some Rotel that was begging to be consumed. I drained it and put it in a pan preheated over medium with a splash of olive oil (about 1 tsp.)

In the meantime, the larger pan for the eggs was preheating. After starting the omelet using the procedure mentioned above, I put a slice of provolone cheese on one side of the omelet, the side that would first slide on to my plate. I continued to allow the eggs to set and the tomatoes to simmer. Finally, when I felt that most of the excess moisture had been cooked out of the Rotel, I put it on top of the provolone in the omelet. A couple of turns of the pepper mill and it was ready for transfer.

Sliding the spatula under the eggs helped release the omelet and readied it for transfer. With one hand holding the pan and the spatula in the other, I turned the pan 45 degrees and used the spatula to slowly slide the eggs on to the plate. When the omelet was more than 50% off of the pan, I pushed the pan while sliding the omelet to fold it over the top. Grab a fork and eat!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inappropriate Malt

Bunny took my chocolate malt. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that she needed to suck really hard.

I also giggle every time I tell one of my kids to pick up the balls or clean up the balls.

I am a grown-up, I swear.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scary First Tooth

Many kids are terribly anxious to grow up. JD is not. There are many times he does not want to be taller, doesn't want to grow older, doesn't want to move to the next grade in school.

He is Mr. Status Quo.

I have discussed the inevitability of losing teeth periodically with him. He brushed it off.

Wednesday 1/16, there was nothing to brush off.

Unbeknownst to me, he had a loose tooth. And it decided to come free during the latter half of the school day. And JD was none to pleased about it. Here were some of his problems with the occurrence:
-his mouth was broken
-he would not be able to eat or drink
-he would not be able to brush his teeth
-he looked silly
-the tooth needed to be replaced immediately

The student teacher read a book with him about teeth and he received other special attention. He was hysterical and inconsolable for a while, I am led to believe, which did not surprise Wife or me in the least.

After school on Wednesdays JD has speech therapy. I gave Miss Emily a heads-up to the situation so that she could prepare to work with him. After all, part of his emotional distress was the inability to communicate his fears. Remember, part of the communication circle is receiving information. While he was clearly able to send information about his distress, receiving and rationalizing feedback from those around him was challenging. 

Miss Emily, in her infinite awesomeness, began the session by talking to him about losing his tooth. Then they walked around the facility talking to the other therapists and kids receiving services asking if they had lost teeth. Some kids had, some had not. The realization that this was not a unique situation and that his peers really had gone through similar circumstances helped him deal with his fears. 

Throughout this process, we talked about the Tooth Fairy. At bedtime, he feared that the Tooth Fairy would not be able to get to his tooth if he put it under his pillow, so we put it on top of an overturned basket in the middle of the living room. He also wanted to show the Tooth Fairy his "guys" (action figures). We explained that she worked at night and had to visit many houses but that she would leave a present for him.

As soon as he woke up he asked if the Tooth Fairy had some. I said that I didn't know. He ran downstairs to find a $1 bill. He was not happy about it. He wanted a replacement tooth. Yes, we discussed, medically, how the whole new tooth pushes the old tooth out, blah blah blah. Sometimes I think I sound like the teacher from "Peanuts."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unconventional Parent Training

Wife and I have been struggling with the idea of discussing something very personal within our family in a public fashion. Over time, we have learned that we can trust beyond our family and closest friends.

Coming into her second race season, Wife is going to run in the Autism Speaks race in Chicago. If you would like to partner with her, you can click here to donate to the cause.

Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and fund research regarding Autism.

This is important to us because our son, JD, is on the "autism spectrum." There is nothing "wrong" with him. Just as there is nothing "wrong" with a deaf child or a child who is not athletic. Simply put, autism is a set of traits that can affect social-emotional behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.

JD is considered "high functioning." He is able to participate in a traditional school environment and has friendships with "neurotypical" children. One difference, though, is the amount of services and therapy that he receives every week that help teach him the tools needed to function "normally" in society.

There are several blessings that have come from being part of his therapy for four-and-a-half years. Parenting skills, education, and exposure to children with various disorders have all been favorable experiences for our family.

I have no doubt that I am a better parent now that I have been exposed to so much therapy. Being a good student in my school days, I was able to learn how to better work with JD and all children. All of JD's therapy is play-based. When he was younger, they worked on learning animals and their sounds, colors, and shapes. As he got older, they would talk about feelings and social behaviors as well as observational skills. Today, his therapeutic curriculum includes "wh-questions" (who, what, where, when, why, how,) following multi-step directions, and motor skills. All part of traditional early childhood development. The difference is  the level of patience required as well as understanding the type of language needed to be used by the adult.

One of the beneficiaries of all of this is Bunny, JD's little sister. Now that I know how to teach these skills in a one-on-one manner, she is reaping the benefits. The reason I bring her into this is only to demonstrate how helpful the therapy has been to my family and me.

I see other parents with neurotypical children and their lack of exposure to early childhood development and realize that they simply have not been taught the tools that I was exposed to in terms of dealing with young children. The use of schedules, both verbal or visual, to learn expectations and time management; the use of countdowns to learn that activities, whether playtime or something they don't like, eventually come to an end; dentifying words so that the child can mimic your mouth movements and pronounce words correctly; discussing feelings and behaviors in stories that are beyond the written plot. These are all things that were not natural to me as a parent.

In my hockey locker room, a couple of guys were talking about having children. As many of you have gone through, there are prenatal genetic tests that can show serious developmental problems of a child. One of the guys suggested that a child with a severe developmental disorder should be aborted. Not for genetic purification or anything like that, but because the child wouldn't have a life and be a tremendous burden on the family. I was able to say that, having been around children with various developmental disorders, raising such a child is not what any parent envisions when they're conceiving, but the child still has milestones and a personality, just not a traditional one. To an outsider, it appears that the challenged person is lifeless. That couldn't be further from the truth. The person may not show it in traditional ways.

For me, one of the best experiences happened after dealing with our first bout of lice. JD was cleared to go back to class in the middle of the school day, so I walked him out to the playground where his class was playing after lunch. He ran across the field to the jungle gym where his classmates ran up to him and greeted him cheerfully; some of the girls hugged him. They asked him where he'd been and I heard him telling them about having had lice in his hair and all of the things we had to do to overcome that problem. Seeing that he was an important part of the class, that the kids really liked him, and that he was able to relate his story to them almost made me cry. It was one of the happiest moments of my parenthood.

I want to leave my faithful and caring readers with this last thought. Again, there is nothing wrong with JD. If there was a pill that would take away his autism, I would not put him on it. JD is a wonderful person. All he wants to do is play and laugh and interact with people in a positive way. He is full of love. There are challenges that he will face based on certain behavioral traits, but is that different than any of us? I love him exactly the way he is and am looking forward to helping him develop the social tools he will need to put his thoughts and desires into appropriate social context. After all we've been through, I think he's made me a better person.

Again, to partner with our family and help so many other families learn the tools to help them have a normal life, click here to donate on behalf of Wife's team to Autism Speaks. Thank you!

Why are we talking about Manti Te'o?

This is so stupid. Stop talking about it. This may be "news" in the sense of, it is new, but who cares? There is so much more important going on in the world, there are so many more relevant discussions to have, why is anyone paying attention to some college player's Twitter hoax?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Free spirit

I took off my underwear. I just want to walk around with my vagina out.

They say the darndest things  don't they?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Grilled Cheese Delight

I made the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever eaten.

The process started by melting over medium heat a pat of butter on a square skillet pan, then threw on a good pinch of sliced red onions, moving them around every minute or so for three or four minutes.

In the meantime, I spread a pat of butter on one side of each slice of bread. For the cheese, I used once slice of provolone, put the onions on that, then put a slice of aged white cheddar, then on the skillet for one minute per side with a small cutting board on top as a press. After the time on the skillet, the sandwich was put it in the toaster oven at 350 for 2 minutes to ensure thorough meltiness and a crispy exterior.

Not one of my healthy choice options, but really really yummy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gimme The Beef - Update

When last we met, I had drastically undercooked the roasts I used to make roast beef. My plan was to slice up one and freeze the second. When I would defrost the second, I would put it in the oven and complete the cooking process.

It worked really well. The one thing that I may do next time will be to leave it out to come to room temperature, then bake it for longer. I failed to take into consideration that the directions said to go from 500 to 300 which is much different, of course, than going from room temp to 300. Will let you know how this progresses.

In the mean time, I did make another roast. This time I only bought one. Instead of seasoning then putting in the oven, I wrapped the roast and let it sit in the seasoning all night. This proved to work out quite nicely. I did, however, forget the olive oil. I'm not sure how much different the roast would have turned out but this turned out great, as I followed the baking directions more closely.

This was a three-pound roast, though, and we're not going to eat three pounds of roast beef in one week. So I cut it into thirds and froze two of the pieces, slicing up the third. I also sliced it thinner than last time. It came out great. We'll see how the other pieces defrost and slice.

One thing that I may need to pick up is a cutting board that has irrigation channels as these roasts shed a lot of juice. I also need to figure out what to do with all of that juice and also consider whether I'm allowing it to rest long enough.

That's part of the fun of cooking is experimenting with a recipe until you get it right and it becomes your own!

US World Junior Team - on a video game?

You know what's awesome about gaming on the internet? The developers can constantly update the game. 

As I was watching the US win the hockey World Junior Championship (U20), I thought that it would be cool to have that team available to play in NHL 13. Couldn't the developers create teams to use? They already have the platform. It would be a matter of uploading the jersey design and creating the 20-25 players on the team. 

This could easily extend to classic teams, like the 1980 Soviet or US Olympic teams, the Summit Series teams, famous Cup-winning teams, etc.

Of course, I have not checked into how much of this has already been done, so there likely will be people telling me so :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fun blurb

Bunny was looking at the side of a stock pot.

I asked, "what are you looking at?"

She responded, "what i look like."