Month: May 2008

The Outhouse

In the late 70s and early 80s it was hard to find two cities that, per capita, loved baseball more than Kansas City and Baltimore. 30 years later the Royals broke their 12 game losing streak tonight and in Baltimore there were about 50,000 Red Sox fans filling up Camden Yards. Watch the video of Manny Ramirez hitting his 500th home run and notice how many people are going crazy, as Red Sox fans would do, rather than just standing to watch history, as O’s fans would do. Depressing.

It’s safe to say all that early season enthusiasm in Kansas City is long gone. At least they won’t be working on a 30+ game losing streak when I see them play in late June.

Feeding The Kids

Like all parents, we struggle at times to ensure that our girls are eating a well-balanced diet. Not just making sure we’re hitting all the food groups in the proper ratios each day, but also just in variety of foods. We could serve mac & cheese with some kind of fruit at every meal and the girls would happily gulp it down.

In an effort to branch out, I picked up <a href=”http://www.deceptivelydelicious.com/site/”>Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook</a> at the library last week. It’s one of those “hide the vegetables” books, in which you puree the hell out of some veggies and blend them into recipes so your kids are, in theory, being tricked into eating them. Eating veggies isn’t a huge problem for us; C. would eat green beans all day if allowed, and both girls will kill some corn on the cob. But, again, I was searching for some variety. We’ve tried a couple recipes so far. A muffin recipe has been a big hit. The other two got mixed responses.

So I’m going to throw it to the group, since I imagine most parents of toddlers have gone/are going through this. How have you mixed up your menus to get your kids to eat new and different things? Again, I’m looking more for variety in main menu items than ways to get more fruits and veggies into our diets. Post your ideas in the comments, or e-mail them directly to me. I’ll share the most interesting ideas with the entire Brannan Blog nation later.

BTW, perhaps the best part of the Seinfeld book is her line in the acknowledgements that, right after she married Jerry, Chris Rock told her that it was inevitable that she was going to write a cookbook now that she was married to a celebrity.

Milestones

We’ve had a couple large milestones here in La Casa De B. in recent months that I’ve failed to mention.

M. left the pull ups behind in March. It was one of those “We’re down to about ten pull ups, do we want to buy any more?” changes that we parents have to force upon our kids sometimes. She was cool with it, though, as she was ready. She had been taking naps without a pull up for about a month and avoided any incidents. We went back-and-forth for awhile, until the last pull up was gone, but she was super excited to be sleeping like a big girl. And, knock on wood, we’re three months into it and we’ve still had no accidents. It makes it easier to buy more fun stuff at Costco when you only have one box of diapers in the cart.

Second, C. finally started sleeping through the night around the same time. We do struggle to get her to sleep some nights, but most nights she goes to bed and stays asleep until the morning. When she does wake up, you just have to go tuck her back in and tell her to go to sleep and she drops right off again. Her funny (to her at least) trick is to go to bed, be half-asleep after I leave the room (I usually lay with her for 10-20 minutes to try to get her to sleep), and then about 10 minutes later, get out of bed and open her door. She waits with the door cracked, peeking out, until I come up the stairs to put her back down. Some nights she’ll act surprised and run back to bed giggling. Other nights, as soon as she sees me, she flings the door open, runs to the banister, and greets me with a big smile like it’s morning.

The only downside to C. sleeping all night is that she’s been getting up earlier in the morning. Most days one girl or the other comes into our room between 6:00 and 6:30 and crawls into bed with us. (S. might dispute the “us” part, since the girls always get into her side of the bed and disturb her while I roll over and go back to sleep on my side.) The problems usually start when the second girl comes in. Girl #2, for whatever reason, almost always comes in whining and crying, which often sets the other one off. It’s bad enough when your kids come wake you up. It’s even worse when they do so with tears.

But C. sleeps at night, which was by far her worst issue in the first 22 months of her life. Things aren’t that bad.

They Grow Up So Fast

M. finished up her first year of preschooling yesterday. Her school year went out with a bang with a big bike parade for all the three year olds followed by a cookout/pot luck lunch for the kids and their families. The parade was pretty funny as it clearly demonstrated the differences in ages amongst the two classes. The bigger kids, who turned four last fall, were flying around on their bikes, some of them on pretty big bikes with training wheels. The younger kids, like M., who either just turned four or are still three, were more likely to be on trikes or Big Wheels, and managed the course (the school’s parking lot) a little more slowly. M. peddaled about as much as she’s ever done, and had a really good time. C. enjoyed waving a checkered flag and cheering for her sister and the other kids. Adding to the fun were the kindergarteners who came out to watch the little ones.

Last week, the teachers sent the kids home with a progress report that showed how the kids had improved (hopefully) on various activities over the year. Along with the “report card” were tangible examples of how the kids had progressed. A package of art projects included similar items done at the beginning of the year and the end. M.’s attempt at drawing a person back in September was just a series of curly lines. By May, though, she was busting out the classic little kid stick figures. Her coloring got better and more imaginative – an apple in September was just red, and not colored very well; by May it was red with a black stem and green leaves and more thoughtfully completed – and was doing a better job with scissors.

(Aside: I always wonder what kids see when they draw their stick figures. Do they see a stick figure and understand that’s all they’re capable of at this point, or do they look at the over-sized feet, uneven legs, and grotestquely long torso and think, “That look just like my dad!”?)

M. has just started to master writing her name, which is funny. The M is easy. The E and G are both interesting interpretations on the classic form of each letter. The H is done with the horizontal center first, then she adds the sides in four steps rather than two. It often ends up looking more like an old-school football goal post than an H. The A is excellent. And the N is ususally pretty good, although sometimes she petters out by then and puts it somewhere else on the page. It makes me laugh everytime she writes her name because it often looks like Moohan rather than M.. She loves to write letters to people, which basically means writing her name on some paper, putting it into an envelope, putting some stickers on for stamps, and then handing it to me. Lately she’s been adding <a href=”http://admin.nickjr.com/printables/harry-the-helpful-horse.jhtml?path=/printables/noggin-shows_little-bill/coloring-pages/5-6-years/index.jhtml”>Harry the Helpful Horse</a> to her letters, which is a nice touch.

So, it appears the preschool money was a good investment. She’s definitely changed a lot over the past eight months, and while some of that is natural development, we know she’s benefitted a lot from being around other kids and learning in an organized setting. She made a lot of fun friends and is always doing and saying things we haven’t heard before. She’ll go to the three-day-a-week class for four year olds next year, with C. joining her on Mondays for the once-weekly twos class.

Now we have to figure out what to do with them this summer…

Paragons Of Customer Service

We’ve been trying to sign the girls up for swimming lessons using the city’s parks &amp; rec website. We kept getting an error saying we were already registered in their system that we couldn’t work around. So S. called and got a fairly young guy on the phone. After a couple minutes of fruitless explanations of what she wanted, basically to have our password/account reset, he said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She just laughed, hung up, and called again today to talk to someone else.

The battery on her laptop tells us it is almost dead less than a year after she bought it. So I logged a point with Dell and got their traditional e-mail response that asks you to do about 1000 things before bugging them any further. My favorite part was a link to a section of their support site called The Dell Battery Center. When I click it, I get an error message that says the page does not exist. That explains why the battery is so shitty, I guess.

It’s Not A Mario

Three lines. That’s what the sonogram showed today. For those of you who have never been lucky enough to sit in on a sonogram, those three lines indicate you’re growing a little girl. I believe we’ve officially debunked the Chinese Birth Calendar and proven that S. and I are only able to produce girls. As I said last week, what was important to me wasn’t the gender of the kid but that it and S. were progressing normally. The sonogram confirmed all of that, as well. So it was a good visit to the hospital.

The little girl was not terribly cooperative. Most of the time she was rolled into a ball, with her feet and her head in roughly the same location. She put her hands over her face at times. At others, she pressed her face into various Mom body parts as if she was trying to get away from us.

As I said in an e-mail some of you received, now comes the hard part. The wardrobe is taken care of. We understand how to take care of girl babies. But I’m wondering how the hell I’m going to come up with another name for a girl. It was hard enough with the first two. Maybe we’ll be like those parents who don’t name their kids and let them name themselves when they’re old enough (Isn’t that how Picabo Street got her name?).

Even though it’s a girl, she still might get a Mario Chalmers jersey.

Election Day Wrap Up

Please note a more important post will be coming later today. Remember, we’re making a trip to the doctor this morning.

I did not stay up late enough to catch all the drama last night, but I followed some of it. Ironically I was thinking, before results began coming in, that there aren’t any surprises in politics anymore since 800 different polling groups are constantly surveying voters before each election. But last night was a surprise, and perhaps the effective end of the Democratic nomination race. Putting my political science degree to work, and stealing from other people on the ‘nets, I’ll say we’ve got two more weeks of going through the motions and this thing is put to bed after a big Obama win in Oregon on the 20th.

Even though Barack wasn’t able to pull off the win here in Indiana, I feel like my vote mattered. For the record, he did win Hamilton County. I thought the Rush Limbaugh factor might be especially important here. Have I mentioned that my podiatrist plays Rush loud enough for everyone through his entire office to hear? I always wonder how people, even those who agree with his politics, listen to Rush. What’s fun about listening to someone yell that much?

M. actually voted for me. I made all the selections and she pushed the big red button to register the votes. And she got a sticker.

As I stepped into the booth, I realized I had made a critical error. I had not spent enough time examining the two Democratic candidates in the governor race. I frantically tried to remember if either of them had any important endorsements or had made any especially interesting policy statements. I came up blank. So I ended up voting for the candidate who lost by 5000 votes. I guess now I can figure out if I like the woman who won or not.

Speaking of that race, the incumbent Guv wasted no time. I saw a commercial for him at 6:30 this morning. So much for a respite. Sigh.

Big Day

First off, happy belated Cinco de Mayo to you all. I hope you enjoyed a bag of Doritos or perhaps had some Cinnamon Twists to celebrate the occasion.

Oh, and happy birthday to the <a href=”http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/05/06/the-imac-turns-10″>iMac</a>, which was announced ten years ago today.

Well, the big day is finally here. Indiana, for the first time in 20 years, gets a real say in who our next president may be. While it appears Indiana is about as muddled as the rest of the country is and neither Barack or Hillary will end the day with a commanding victory in this state, it has been an interesting six weeks or so as the candidates have showered our fair state with attention and ad dollars. I don’t watch much regular TV, but when I do, there’s not much else other than ads for those two, for the Democratic US House primary in Marion County, the Democratic primary in the Governor’s race, and then a few for the Republican primary here in Hamilton County in which Dan “Two Handicap” Burton is being challenged. And the radio is ridiculous. Anytime I leave the house, I’m guaranteed to hear at least five political commercials. This must be what it feels like to live in Iowa.

And then there’s the phone. I’m getting at least five calls a day between my cell phone and the house phone. I assume they’re all political in nature, either campaigns or pollsters, but since I don’t answer and they rarely leave messages, I can’t be sure. Barack has left me a couple messages, or at least people speaking on his behalf have. The guy running against Burton left me a message, too. I’m waiting to get texts and IMs from them as well. Maybe they’ll get that element together for the general election.

The final indication that this is a crazy year in Indiana came Sunday when someone actually came to my house from the Obama campaign to see if I was A) voting today and B) voting for Barack. I’m surprised the police weren’t called out. Democrats roaming the streets in Hamilton County?!?!

After I talked to him, M. asked who he was. I explained that he was talking to me about voting. “What’s voting?” I said it is how we pick the president, mayor, and stuff like that, which I knew was a horrible answer for a three-year-old. Her response was a long pause, then “What?” I rephrased saying the people who make the rules. Not sure if that helped or not.

Anyway, it ends today. My polling place just happens to be at our church/M.’s preschool, so when I pick her up this afternoon, we’ll walk over to the main building and she’ll help me vote for the change America needs. Afterwards, we’ll go put on some Italian loafers, get a latte, and maybe test drive a Prius.

The pre-election polls are all over the place, but I would expect Hillary to win Indiana by a narrow margin. I mean, she’s going to end the gas tax! But, amazingly, my vote for a Democratic candidate in Hamilton County Indiana might make a difference this year.

Not Sure What This Is All About

M.┬áhas a new thing where sometimes after coloring, she’ll wad her paper up, throw it onto the floor, get off her chair, and go put the paper into the trash. If I ask her what’s wrong she just whines and walks away.

Apparently she has very high standards.

Fetus

I’ve only obliquely discussed the impending addition of a third kid to the Brannan fam on the blog. Part of that is despite our broad e-mail and phone broadcast of the news awhile back, we were waiting to tell a few folks less directly connected to us. Although I doubt they have access to the blog, I wanted to be sure. But I think everyone who needs to know knows now, so it’s no longer off limits.

All has gone well so far. Apparently the Mrs. now qualifies for “advanced maternal age,” so we’ve had a few more tests this time around. Thus far, everything points to a normal pregnancy. Today we scheduled a sonogram for next Wednesday. If the little fetus cooperates, we’ll have some news regarding pink or blue that day.

People have been asking me since we shared our news whether I was pulling for a boy or not. The easy answer is I’m hoping both mother and baby make it through nine months safely and it’s too late to do anything about it, anyway.

But, as you all know, I am a thinker, and I’ve devoted some time to the subject. To be honest, I’m a little fearful of the prospects. With the first, everything was a bit of a blur since it was all new and we were busy putting things together, painting, buying stuff, going to showers, etc. The second was a breeze, and knowing our plan was to have three, no pressure either way. For #3, everything is a blur again, but for different reasons. We’re chasing #1 and #2 around. I know it’s a marathon and not a sprint, so I don’t obsess about the details as much.

When I do think of it though, I find myself pulled in different directions. A boy would be awesome, no doubt. I will strive to treat my kids the same, knowing no matter how hard you try each kid will be treated slightly differently, but let’s face it, there’s something about having a boy as a man that is special. M. and C. can bat their eyes at me to try to get what they want, but a son will be happy to go outside and play catch with dad for hours at a time. One day he’ll be happy to sit next to me watching a game, not talking about much other than the game.

And that’s when the fear comes in: I don’t want to treat the third differently if it’s a boy just because it’s a boy. I’m sure it’s not something I need to spend too much time worrying about, because whether my kids are swimmers, soccer players, or captains of the chess team, I’m going to support them in their activities. But I don’t want the girls thinking I enjoy going to the baseball diamond more than going to their events. If I show a little more enthusiasm for tossing the football around than going to a choir recital, will the girls never be able to find a stable relationship because their dad neglected them?

Probably not. But the thought has crossed my mind.

So, basically, I’m way overthinking it. Besides, I have the girl thing down. The teenage years are going to be an utter disaster anyway, why not add one more girl to the mix? And I may not be capable of producing a boy anyway. Or my wife’s body might fight off all the little boy sperms and accept only girls. In other words, it’s out of my hands and I’ll just hope everything continues to look normal next week.

But if we do find out it’s a boy, I’m totally buying a little Mario Chalmers jersey when I visit Kansas City next month.

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