Month: July 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Feeling Presidential

We took the girls to our church’s festival/carnival last night. While I did not indulge, I was reminded of why I’m glad I married a Catholic girl: drinking is encouraged at church fund raisers. That’s going to come in handy when the girls get a little older.

For now, though, we had to concentrate on keeping the girls from getting trampled and whatnot. We succeeded and they seemed to have a great time. We took three turns on the Merry Go Round, a couple on the little car ride, and then one on the ladybug ride. M. won a stuffed turtle in the Everyone’s A Winner fishing game. A few more pics on our media site (linked right over there on the sidebar!).

It is also funny to watch all the teenagers desperately trying to act older than they are. Girls showing off a lot of skin (I kept thinking, “Where is Father Ted to tell them to put some more clothes on?”), boys strutting around, everyone talking a little too loud and using language that isn’t as cool as they think it is. Thank goodness I never acted like that when I was a kid!

As we left, we walked by the preschool so we could show C. where she’ll be headed in a few weeks. M. didn’t understand why it was closed, and she asked at least 47 questions about why the doors were locked on our way home. The girls both wanted to try out the playground. But, we were already past bedtime and there were three teenagers hanging out in it. They were artsy looking kids, dressed like future art school students or members in locally popular indie rock bands. They were hanging on the monkey bars, talking. I had an urge to make a comment about how they seemed a little old to be playing on toys made for preschoolers, or something along those lines. Then, I realized I would come off like John McCain yelling at kids to get off of his lawn. A shiver went up my spine and I walked by silently.

End It Now

I was a little disappointed that baseball is being purged from the Olympics after this year. Not that anyone really cares about Olympic baseball, and I can usually name about one of the players on the U.S. squad. But <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/news?slug=ap-bbi-extrainningchange&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns”>this news</a> makes me think it is a good idea to ditch it. Freaking Euros messing with our traditional American sports.

 

Thought For The Day

Perhaps Brett Favre and Manny Ramirez should run off together. And then they could take a significant portion of the sports media with them.

Every football off-season, it’s Favre’s retirement drama. And every July, it’s the Manny Wants Out Of Boston drama. Every summer Favre comes back to play another year. Every August, Manny wakes up wearing a Red Sox jersey and goes out and continues to be Manny as long as the Sox play that season.

 

The Move

We decided to bite the bullet, take the plunge, make the move, etc. and put the girls in the same room last night. My rough plan was to do it sometime in August, so we had a buffer A) before school started and B) well before the baby arrived. And so, if we had a set-back, we had time to regroup and try again. But C. continues to have trouble going to sleep when we put her down and then wake up at least once a night because either her teeth are bothering her or just because she’s a stinker and enjoys waking us up, so we were dreading making the move.

Then, yesterday, we said, “Screw it,” and moved her bed into M.’s room.

I’ll chalk it up as a success, at least after the first night.

Bedtime was a chore. Because of her wandering ways, we had sunk to putting a gate in C.’s doorframe, so that when she did get up five times in the first 30 minutes after we put her down, she was at least stuck in her room. We decided to keep doing that, which required explaining to M. that should wouldn’t be able to get out of her room and if she needed us, just to call our names and we’d hear her on the monitor. She said she understood, we tucked them in, gave them kisses, and shut the door on two sisters who were very wound up about sleeping in the same room.

As we walked away, we heard M. repeating everything I had just said to her to C.. “If we need mom and dad, we just call their names and they’ll hear us on the monitor and come and get us, ok?”

About ten minutes passed and we heard M. calling our name. I went up and C. was sitting in M.’s bed with a big smile on her face.
“Dad, C.’s in my bed.”
I explained that might happen, it was ok, and to just ask C. to go back in her bed if she didn’t want her in.”

Five minutes later M. was calling my name again.
“Dad, C. took the thing off the door.”

She had removed the pull-knob off the drawer to their nightstand. I replaced it, put C. back in bed, and told M. that she only needed to call our names if she needed to go potty or something like that.
“OK, dad.”
Ten minutes later, “Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad.”

I went up, opened the door, and was greeted by the stench of a dirty diaper and M. telling me that she needed to go potty. The power of suggestion I guess. I changed C., helped M. take care of her business, then put them back to bed. This time C. wasn’t very happy, and as I closed the door, I heard M. telling her, “It’s ok, C.. Just relax. When I don’t feel good, I take a drink of water and then I smile and then I feel better. Can you do that for me, sweetie?” It kills us when M. calls C. sweetie or honey or baby.

My times are probably off a bit, but by now we were about an hour in. They continued to play, talk, and bug each other for awhile. We heard M. telling C. that she needed to get back in her bed and go to sleep a few times. Finally, M. was calling for me again and S. went up and spent five or ten minutes with them, which apparently did the trick. There was a little more noise but sometime after 10:00 there was total silence. Two hours to get them to sleep, without any major incidents. Not too bad.

C. did wake up around 5:00. I went to check on her, tucked her back in, and while I was in there M. rolled around a little. I looked at her and she rolled over, smiled, and said, “Good night, daddy,” put her head down and went right back to sleep.

Next thing I knew, it was almost 8:00 and the girls were just then opening their door. That’s the latest C. has slept in months. Hell, maybe ever. So that part of it worked out well.

Night one was good. We’ll hope things continue to go this well. After we had moved all the furniture around, changed sheets, vacuumed, etc. we decided there was no way were we doing all this again. So they have on choice but to figure it out because there’s no going back to separate rooms.

Four Years Old

We celebrated M.’s fourth birthday last night. As mentioned earlier, her actual birthday is today. We didn’t make a huge deal out of. Next year, no doubt, she’ll realize that she got to go to several cool birthday parties for friends and that she should start complaining about wanting farm animals to come to the house, or a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, or something like that when her birthday comes around. Perhaps this was our final chance to have a quiet one at home.

She did well most of the day, which I was incredibly thankful for since I was suffering from a migraine until about 5:00 when my third dose of Advil and fifth caffeinated drink kicked in. However, around 3:00 in the afternoon, all of a sudden, it hit her that she was going to get cake and presents in a few hours, and she started bouncing off the walls and asking the birthday equivalent of “Are We There Yet?” questions. When she would leave me alone for a few minutes, I would hear her talking to herself.

“I really can’t wait for the sun to start going down and Mimi and Ampa to get here so I can eat my cake and open my presents!”

We kept the gifts pretty simple, too. I had taken the girls to the mall earlier in the day (25 people in line for iPhones!) and got them some cups at Pottery Barn Kids that have the liquid inside that freezes and keeps their drinks cold. After dessert, both girls got Barbie Fairy Princess dolls. M. got Mariposa and C. got Willa. And I hooked M. up with a Beatles Yellow Submarine t-shirt. I’m still mad some other kid in her class was rocking a Beatles shirt last spring. She might have to wear a Ramones shirt on the first day of school this fall. Tomorrow we’re going out and finding the Mariposa movie to officially add to our collection. Slippery slope officially slipped upon. Damn.

Both girls were quite pleased with their gifts and M. is excited about being four. For the past couple days I’ve been doing my best to warp her and turn her into a little version of me who reflects on every little aspect of her life.
“M., did you know this is the last bath you’re ever going to take as a three-year-old?”
“Wow, really dad?!?!”

I’ve got pics up on our site. I’ll review the video tomorrow and see if there’s anything worth sharing from it.

Oh, and I’ve played around with the time/date stamp on this, so it will post exactly four years after she arrived, two weeks early, to our surprise and delight. For as exasperating as she can be at times, she’s really a sweet kid. Many of our friends have told us that four is no walk in the park, but it is a lot of fun to see her getting smarter, more aware, and more independent each day. You can see the seeds of the girl she’ll be in a few years.

Alien Invasion

Our house has been taken over by small creatures I can only assume are aliens. Nearly every room has at least one piece of paper with these strange little being drawn on them. Surely this is some kind of message that there are E.T.’s living in our backyard, right? Either that or anytime you give M. a crayon or pen and a piece of paper, she draws these cute little guys and tells us what people she wants to send them to. Her artistic skills really are getting better.

She told me today that she misses her school friends. I’m kind of wishing she was going back before Labor Day instead of after. And not because I want to get rid of her three days a week. Or at least not totally because of that.

Home girl turns four on Friday. Talk about time flying.

My favorite C. saying of the moment is when we’re reading books or singing songs before bedtime, I’ll ask her what she wants to hear next, she looks to the sky, as if pondering deeply, and says, “How ‘bouuuuuuuuut….” really stretching it out so it seems like she’s really putting a lot of effort into deciding if “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “You Are My Sunshine” is next. The best part is the little grin on her face, showing that she knows she’s being funny.

The other day C. walked into my office, sat on her chair in the corner, crossed her arms and said, “I willy angwy, dad.” I have no idea what brought that on.

Writing To Reach You

Interesting that these two pieces hit the Internets today. First, Joe Posnanski <a href=”http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/07/17/autographs-and-mays/”>writes about autographs</a>, mentioning how he sent letters to players and teams as a kid. Then, former player Doug Glanville <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/opinion/17glanvillefans.html?hp”>writes in the New York Times</a> about cleaning out his closet of some fan mail left over from his playing days. Apparently Glanville is a really sharp and cool guy. Who knew?

I totally spent my summers in the early 80s sending baseball letters to players, with their cards and SASEs included, and to teams hoping for autographs, stickers, pocket schedules, and any other freebies they were willing to send my way. Joe is right: every kid should be required to do this.

(Oh, and I hope some of you know the song the title references.)

Funny Kid Talk

Some day I’d like to mic up the girls so I could record every funny thing they say. Although their behavior could often use improvement, about 90% of what they say makes us laugh.

One day M. found a wallet-sized picture of her and C. on my desk. She looked at it and said, “Boy, this picture is adorable!” She paused proudly, and then said, “This picture frame is enormous, daddy.” Showing off the vocab I guess.

Today I was folding laundry and the girls decided they needed to sit right where I was putting the clothes and comment on my work, while smelling each clean item. I folded up a pair of M.’s underwear and C. shrieked, “Shis-sher, it your pant-ees!” as if they had been missing for years and we had finally found them.

When I’m reading to them, M. likes to pat my chest and say, “You’re my big boy, daddy. You’re my nice, big boy.”

We took them to the pool today and M. talked a couple five or six year old boys into including her in their throwing game. C. watched the ball sail back-and-forth a couple times and couldn’t take it. She hopped into the pool and said, “Throw it uh me! Throw it uh me!”

And finally, a more action than words example. Despite going to the pool around 5:00, C. is having issues calming down and going to sleep tonight. Around 9:00, after C. had been in bed over an hour, S. heard something in the kitchen and said, “C., is that you?” (I was sitting next to her with headphones on.) Sure enough, C. pops her head around the corner and has the biggest grin you could imagine a two-year-old having. I get up to take her to bed and notice she’s brought every one of her “diapes,” cloth diapers most people use as burp clothes but both our girls use as blankie replacements, clutched in her arms. We’re talking like 15 cloth diapers that she drug downstairs. I pick her up and explain it’s time to go stay in bed and go to sleep. Her response was an incredulous, wide-eyed “Oh?” like it was the last thing she would think of doing at 9:00 PM. Naturally, 10 minutes later, she was right down here again, still clutching her diapes and with an ear-to-ear grin.

There’s so much more, but as all the other parents out there know, it’s impossible to record or remember it all.

American League Pace

No way did I stay up and watch the end of the All-Star Game. I made it to midnight, which coincided with the end of the 10th inning and the AL wasting the bases loaded, no outs situation. If the All-Star Game is a big gimmick anyway, what with it determining home field for the World Series and all, why not just go to a league-vs-league Home Run Derby after the 9th inning. The Midsummer Classic version of a shoot-out. Three guys from both teams get three swings, with coaches throwing BP-quality fast balls down the middle, team with the highest combined HR total at the end wins. If tied, it goes to sudden death. That’s not any stupider than tie games or letting guys from last place teams determine where the World Series will start.

Reader’s Notebook

In between geeking out with the new iTunes software while waiting for the new iPhone software, I put together a little something about my two most recent books.

22 – <i>Three Bags Full</i> – Leonie Swann. I was searching for a book to take on my Kansas City trip and was torn between a international thriller-type novel and a more straight-forward detective novel. Then I noticed this one on the bookshelves of my local Border’s, noted the blurb from Carl Hiassen on the cover, and then the interesting sub-title: A sheep detective story. “OK, I’m in,” I thought. Wise choice.

One morning a flock of Irish sheep find their shepherd lying on the ground with a spade jammed through his chest. They loved their shepherd – he treated them with respect, understood their were intelligent creatures, and even read books to them – so they resolved to find out who was responsible for his murder. Over the next few weeks, they investigate leads as well as sheep can investigate, form theories, and eventually are ready to tell the townspeople who the killer is. They end up being wrong, but do get the truth out in a rather poignant closing section.

I think the best way to describe this novel is to say it is charming. I read most of it with a smile on my face, laughed out loud at parts, and there were moments that were quite touching as well. Swann is German, and the original book was published in German, but she captures the Irish spirit well. She also does a fantastic job giving the flock members personalities. Some are intelligent, others brave, others insightful. Just when you start thinking of them as people, though, something spooks them or they become overly excited about something and gallop across the meadow, bleating in anger/fear/excitement. You sense that they sheep are embarrassed that they’re acting like sheep, but know they can’t avoid it.

One of my favorite elements of the book was their misunderstanding of human theology. They believe the local priest is the person the townsfolk are referring to when they talk of God. So each time Father Will strolls by, they say things like, “Here comes God again.” That made me laugh because my three-year-old has the same problem. On days when her preschool class would go over to the church for an event, she would tell me, “We went to the Quiet Church today.” She refers to all churches as Quiet Churches because she knows you’re supposed to be quiet in church. “We sang songs and we saw God.” At first I was confused, especially when she said God had lunch with them one day. Then I asked a few more questions and determined she was talking about Father Ted. She is a very bright girl, so I think this is a glowing endorsement of those clever sheep in Ireland.

23 – <i>Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, The Man Who Pursued Him, And The Age of Flimflam</i> – Pope Brock. First off, perhaps the finest subtitle ever, this the inclusion. I’m going to take a guess and say that 99.9% of my many readers have no idea who John R. Brinkley was. Neither did I until a couple months back, when I heard the Pope Brock talking about his new book on NPR. I was fascinated by the story and added the book to my To Read list, an anxiously awaited its arrival at the library.

So who was this Brinkley character? Way back in the day, to the tune of the 1920s through early 1940s, he was a practitioner of “rejuvenation” medicine. Rejuvenators believed their methods could restore lost sexual desires and powers in those who had seen said powers and desires wane. Brinkley’s particular method was the implantation of goat testicles in his patients. That’s right, goat testicles. It was quackery at its finest, but since the placebo effect can have especially profound results in this area, people not only bought into it but some actually had positive results. Over the years his methods evolved and the issues he claimed to cure broadened, and in the midst of the Great Depression, he was taking in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In fact, when you adjust for time and inflation, just his radio show brought in the equivalent of $6 million/year. Along the way, he basically invented the format that AM radio followed for 40 years, invented radio advertising, ran for governor (and probably won, if not for some rare bipartisan chicanery by Kansas Republicans and Democrats) and in the process invented modern political campaigning, set an early standard for the far right to find refuge in radio, and when he later moved to Del Rio, Texas and set-up a <i><a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_blaster”>Border Blaster</a></i> across the river in Mexico, turned country &amp; western music into the dominant form of music in the U.S. (and set the stage for R&amp;B and rock &amp; roll to do the same later thanks to Wolfman Jack many years later on the same station). So even if you’ve never heard of him, he’s had a direct effect on your life.

I was interested in the book for several reasons. First off, Brinkley launched his career in the small town of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford,_Kansas”>Milford, Kansas</a>. I enjoy it when my native state gets a little publicity, even if it is for harboring one of the biggest quacks that ever lived. Second, the man who was most prominent in the race to bring Brinkley down, Morris Fishbein – an editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association – was from Indianapolis. Mo’ local ties! And I’m always a sucker for a story that revolves around radio.

This is an excellent story. It may seem odd and esoteric, but you can’t help but get sucked into it. There are some areas where Brock’s style frustrated me – most chapters are extremely short and at times it feels like he’s just regurgitating all the research he’s done rather than putting it into context or adding analysis. But the guts of the story are so good that doesn’t distract too much.

I was fascinated by a couple modern applications of the story. First, I was amazed at how much medicine has changed in less than 100 years. It wasn’t that long ago when serious “doctors” thought that things like blue light bulbs, mysterious tonics, and yes, goat testicles, could change people’s lives for the better. Or at least they got their patients to believe it. There are still many forms of alternative medicine that seem wacky today, but they aren’t mainstream. In the 1920s, completely reputable physicians were pushing all kinds of crazy treatments that had no scientific basis (Brinkley was never a true physician. He had some light training, but mostly operated with a degree purchased from the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City, a known diploma mill).

Second, I was struck by how little progress we’ve made on the consumer side. People may not be plunking down good money to have goat testicles implanted in their abdomens, but a couple hours of watching TV shows an seemingly endless stream of miracle cures and quick fixes. Whether you want to lose weight, grow back your hair, or sculpt the perfect body in only five minutes a day, there is a product out there that promises to help you. And more in Brinkley’s line of “expertise,” how much money is spent each year on Viagra, Cialis, and other <i>rejuvenative</i> medicines? We’re still searching for the magic treatment to cure all that ills or disappoints us. We may be more sophisticated about our search than our grandparents were, but we’re definitely still searching.

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