February 27, 2009

The Weeklies #75

The Weekly Bodily Function. Puking.

The Weekly General Observation. I feel totally out of whack and off schedule.

The Weekly Viral Video (That's Totally Unrelated to the Viral Puking, I Promise). Fred and Sharon's Movies. Safe for work, I promise.

The Weekly Word That Sounds Dirty But Isn't. Stimulus.

The Weekly Read. Lee Child's Jack Reacher is pretty much the ultimate hero. Incredible Hulk-like with his vagabond ways, he kicks ass, tasks names then wanders off. Part of me feels sad for Jack. Guy's gotta be lonely. But he makes for a great read. Nothing To Lose is no exception. Amazon reviewers panned it but honestly, honestly, I dug it. It ain't great literature so don't labor under the impression you're getting your hands on the equivalent of a long lost Dickens novel. It's merely entertaining. And frankly that's what I was paying it for.

The Weekly Time Waster. Jam Legend. Think Guitar Hero without the guitar. Rock out with your cock out! (If you have a cock, that is.)

The Weekly Thing My Daughter Inexplicably Yelled While Running Through The House. I'm in the mood! I'm in the mood!

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Northern Trust is a Chicago-based bank that recently received over $1 billion in bailout funds. What did they do with it? They threw a gigantic party. Specifically, they flew a few hundred employees out to LA and put on a heck of a show. Chicago, Earth Wind And Fire and Sheryl Crow played and Tiffany's gift bags were handed out to all the ladies. Bet the 400 folks they laid off in December were happy.

The Weekly Not Quite Hypothetical. So, what's the period of time after your family has had the plague that you stop worrying about contracting it yourself?

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (22)

February 26, 2009

The Great Plague of 09

I should be a fortune teller. I mean, I'd get one of those fancy crystal balls, a couple really cool hats and maybe even my own infomercial. Why? Because, as predicted yesterday, last night was a long one. I know what you're saying - you didn't have to be psychic to know that, boy genius. And you're right. But I'd still like my own infomercial, please.

Just before she fell asleep for the night, Mia came down with what we're going to call The Great Plague Of 2009, for lack of a better term. During the first several hours of the affliction, we piled up laundry at an alarming rate. Picture, if you will, Mount Everest. Now, picture Mt. Everest composed entirely of laundry. You now have a good idea what the laundry room in our basement looked like. Beth and I divided and conquered. I managed to convince Owen to accept me over Beth for a second night in a row while Beth crashed with Mia, who was up sick about every half hour. The night passed slower for some than others but, when the sun rose, no one was throwing up.

And what did I learn during this process?

  • We have a shitload of sheets, towels and blankets in our house. We could probably wrap the earth with the amount of sheets, towels and blankets we've got. Not that we'd actually do that. That would be hard. I would say that I have no idea what we'd ever do with all of them but I think we found out last night.
  • Our washing machine is way the hell to slow to keep up with sick kids. We have one of those high efficiency washing machines. Apparently in this case high efficiency means uses less water and not goes real fast. Efficiency is in the eye of the beholder.
  • My daughter shrieks like she's getting her arm chewed off by a rabid monkey when she's sick. It was one of the single most awful things my ears have been witness to.
  • Throwing up is a learned behavior. No, you're not born with the knowledge of how to throw up. Without getting too graphic - because I myself am a pukaphobic - we had to instruct Mia as to the finer points of throwing up. And it took all night to master.
  • It's not as hard as you'd think to go through a dozen pairs of jammies in one night.

But above all, I learned that I'm a dad. Sure, I knew that before Monday night but there's nothing like a little reinforcement every once in a while to make it all very real. I get to play with the kids but I also get to clean up the puke. And while one is definitely more fun than another, it all comes back to dadhood. Which is fucking awesome.

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (33)

February 24, 2009

Long Long Night

It's been a long 36 hours. Long. And? Long.

On Monday morning, Owen woke up sick. First clue? He didn't want to eat. And that boy loves him some food. Second clue? The horrific smell coming out of his cute white butt. Seriously, good thing he's cute because he sure was stinky. His poop, in fact, staged a breakout and let slip the surly bonds of diaper. I wasn't there but Beth admitted to me that she didn't for a second stop to consider washing the clothes he was wearing. They went straight into the trash. Then, for the hat trick, he threw up.

We waited for the other shoe to drop. And it did. Or, rather a whole shoe store metaphorically dumped itself on us. I'm not talking about a bag full of Manolo Blahniks either. More like cheap sweaty old Crocs.

Because, sometime around 10:00 last night, Beth became insanely ill.

The intervening hours were long. I'm sure they were longer for Beth than they were for me. For my part, I was trapped under a sick infant who was tolerating my presence only because he was, after all, sick. He woke up at 5:00 and molested my chest before realizing that the breasts I had were not at all functional nor were as bountiful as his mom's. Beth - looking much fresher than the night before - retrieved him. And the day began.

It's tough balancing a rigorous work schedule with playing Florence Nightingale. The solution? Fuck work.

And wouldn't you know it? We're dealing with a three-footed deity because, an hour or so ago, a third shoe dropped. Mia has now joined the ranks of the sick. I am outnumbered three to one. And I'm scared.

After she got done throwing up, Mia was remarkably good-natured about the whole thing. And wise. It's going to be a long, long night she said. I'm sure she's right. Wish us luck. Oh, yeah, and send good no-sick vibes my way. I'd like to keep us from going four for four.

By the way, if you want some actual new content from me tomorrow - because who the hell knows what's going to happen tonight - stop by Where's My Damn Answer?. I'm guest posting over there tomorrow. It's about trying new foods, ironically the exact opposite of this post.

Posted by Chris at 8:08 PM | Comments (32)

Everything Must Go

On Saturday, I went on a personal beer run. Now, there's a good alcohol place right next to a Circuit City (there's irony in there somewhere) so I decided to see what their liquidation sale was all about. For those of you not in-the-know, Circuit City is a retail electronics retail chain that, after being screwed up for many years and deciding to make bone-head moves like firing all their senior, experienced employees, finally went under and declared bankruptcy. So, hey, cheap cool stuff. I checked it out for myself.

And, really, it was depressing.

What I found was a half-empty store mobbed with people trying to score deals and swarming around anything shiny. It was, as I mentioned, depressing. Not quite as bad as wandering through Tower Records the day before it closed down. But still, depressing. They'd tagged everything for sale - floor samples, signs, even the shelves which stood empty. And there were no deals to be had. There must be some sort of sale-mentality that forces people to buy all kinds of crazy shit they don't need. That makes people who don't have a Wii fight over hot pink Wii accessories. Or wrestle over a $2 copy of Milli Vanilli's greatest hits. And how many people really need a 35-foot USB cable? (Okay, I have a confession - I do actually own a 35-foot USB cable but there's a really valid reason and good story behind it but that's a post for another time.) That mentality is called consumerism. It's not bad in and of itself. But it can veer out of control quickly. Without warning. Triggered by words like liquidation.

And maybe that's part of the problem. I mean, the economy is based on consumerism, materialism. But we're partially responsible for getting ourselves into this based on those two concepts. Sure, there are some bad asshats out there who defrauded others and approved loans no sane person should have. But we also played a part. If we weren't all after higher lines of credit, expensive houses just at the top edge of our price ranges, faster cars, and more crap than you can cram into a track-mansion, maybe we could have avoided this.

In the same shopping center are four other businesses - two retailers, two restaurants - that are no longer, well, businesses. Closed-down stores and going out of business signs are becoming familiar sites. This shit is getting kinda scary. And who knows when it will end.

So what do you think? Is the economy ever coming back? Or are we really and truly screwed? What are you doing differently as a result of the economy?

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (37)

February 23, 2009

My Weekend, By The Numbers

I've got a hard week ahead but, luckily, I had a great weekend to prepare for it. That said, I haven't ingested nearly enough coffee to coherently recount the events of said weekend. So I'll let the numbers do the talking.

  • Trips to the petstore: 1
  • Dogs large enough to ride that my son and daughter fell in love with: 5
  • Kid-sized ATVs received by well-intentioned relatives: 1
  • Total kid-sized ATVs now owned: 2
  • ATV races that took place early Sunday morning: 50,000
  • Hours I had to work: 5
  • Hours I worried about work: 10
  • Beers consumed: 6
  • Cups of coffee consumed: 5
  • TiVoed shows caught up on: 2
  • Replicas of Monkeytown built with big-ass Legos: 1
  • Times my daughter mentioned Obama or Lincoln: 43
  • Times I played some character from the Oz book we're reading: 39
  • Takeout meals ordered: 3
  • Pizzas consumed: 1.5
  • Hours of sleep gotten: 14
  • Dreams had about the end of the world: 1
  • Teeth my kid cut: 2
  • Dollars required to get my car back after being fixed: $509
  • Times I said really bad things about my car: 452

So, what about you? What were your weekend numbers like?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (18)

Haiku For Monday #257

Woe is me, rough week
ahead. Wake me up when its
over. Pretty please?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (5)

February 20, 2009

The Weeklies #74

The Weekly Time Waster. Be a Virtual Juggler!

The Weekly Pain In The Ass. I have to take my car in - AGAIN - to get worked on. Fucking German engineering.

The Weekly Read. A few weeks ago, I read Safer by Sean Doolittle. It was a really strong showing by an author I'd previously regarded as a writer of forgettable, throw-away mysteries. So I bought Rain Dogs. And while it was decent, it fell more into the forgettable category as opposed to wildly recommend. It was good, sure, but it just failed to grab me and keep my attention.

The Weekly Answer To The Question That's Been Bothering You. B. The answer is always B.

The Weekly Music. You know I'm a dork and my favorite band is old-school Genesis (not the poppy 80's version but the earlier progressive rock period). Another one of my favorite bands is Spock's Beard, even though mastermind Neal Morse (who may literally be the most talented musician on the face of the planet) departed leaving drummer Nick D'Virgilio to take the mic (a la Genesis...coincidence?). Anyway, Nick decided he wanted a challenge so he rearranged the Genesis concept classic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and re-recorded it. It's called Rewiring Genesis and it's insanely good. What makes it unique is that, unlike the progressive rock original, there are no keyboards on the album at all. They've all been replaced by strings, and brass, and woodwinds...and accordions. And while it sounds strange it somehow works. If you're a fan of Genesis and are willing to admit it, or you just like good unique music, check this one out.

The Weekly Beer. Longboard Island Lager from Kona Brewing Company.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. If you're Roland Burris and you've just been picked by disgraced and soon-to-be-inevitably-impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and you are not ethically challenged or in any way hiding anything, don't you do the stand-up thing and say I appreciate the fact that I was nominated for the position but in light of the current governor's legal issues, specifically those revolving around the seat that I am now nominated to occupy, I will decline unless higher authorities tell me its okay? See, that's kind of what I thought he should do. But he didn't. And that bothered me. And now he's under investigation of a Senate ethics committee. Are we supposed to be surprised?

The Weekly Hypothetical. You can invent one device to do anything. What thing to you invent and why?

Posted by Chris at 5:26 AM | Comments (28)

February 19, 2009

Dadhood

Allow me a moment of introspection.

I keep a list of things I think are funny or strange or compelling in some way shape or form. I write down a sentence or two, identifying whatever it is I want write about. These, hopefully, turn into posts. Now, I'm pretty sure the majority of these notes mean something only to me. The note that spawned yesterday's post was disney kookaid cinderella sequels while the note for the previous post was a little more explanatory - how i froze my ass off in owen's crib. The net result is a list of ideas that need to be turned into full-fledged posts. Or abandoned completely because they suck ass.

Last night I looked at the list and realized something that, for some reason, surprised me. Each of the three or four things I'd jotted down over the last few days was somehow related to parenting. I don't know why this was shocking but there were, temporarily, no notes about strange bathroom encounters or music or the latest book I'd read. Just parenting and the crazy shit my kids had done.

And that's when the truth really hit me.

Four years ago, I wouldn't have imagined identifying myself this way but I am, first and foremost, a parent. When people ask me what I do, I say I'm a dad. Sure, I'm an IT geek on the side but my primary gig is dadhood. Sure, I have clients that I serve with my IT geekhood but my primary customers are named Mia, Owen and Beth.

This has fundamentally changed the ways in which I view and interact with the world.

I work in a building next to a daycare facility. I can hear the kids yell and scream from my office. Every time I hear those kids, there's a little pang in my heart that makes me miss my own more than anything in the world at that moment.

I walk into my daughter's room at night, after she's fallen asleep with books strewn over the entire surface area of her bed and I marvel at this person I've helped create - this person with ideas and thoughts and imagination and cute fingers and feet that keep getting bigger and bigger like her ideas and aspirations and dreams and vocabulary.

I was stressed and tired and frustrated over the weekend and I decided to leave the house before I pissed everyone off around me even more than I already had. I went to a bookstore and walked around. I noticed, slowly, that nearly everyone around me had their kids with them. This made me sad. I cooled off, went home, hugged my kids.

My world used to be defined by the music I listened to, the concerts I'd seen, the books I'd read, work I'd accomplished. Promotions and salary were signs of advancement. Now, though, time and accomplishment are marked by the number of three syllable words my daughter uses regularly. Or the three steps my son has taken since the weekend.

Sometimes I sit back and try to objectively look at this blogging thing. I keep wondering how many of you actually give a damn. How many of you are sitting out there on those mornings I lapse into parental rambling and talk about my kids and the latest silly things they've done. That has to get boring, right? Combine that with the fact that I have a sum total of about three and a half minutes to myself everyday which leaves me exactly no time to visit any of your sites and frankly I'm surprised any of you show up at all. Yet you do and for that I'm immensely appreciative.

I'd started off typing with the idea in mind that I'd somehow beg forgiveness for rambling parentally. But I don't think I'll do that now. Because that's who I am. And I'm proud of it.

Dad. Yeah, that sounds right.

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (63)

February 18, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Kingdom

I've mentioned this before - Mia loves all things Disney, particularly princesses and fairies. This makes me feel like a slight failure as a parent because it means I have yielded to the pressure of commercialism. The Evil Empire won. But I'm not too concerned because Mia is incredibly creative in her play and she clearly benefits from this obsession.

The other day while we were visiting Pixie Hollow online (if you don't know, don't ask because you don't want to know), we ran across a clip of the second Cinderella sequel, Cinderella III: A Twist In Time. We watched all eight minutes of it and now, whenever she mentions it, she refers to the movie's title in its entirety. Daddy, can we watch Cinderella III: A Twist In Time? or let's play Cinderella III: A Twist In Time. The other day, she even told me that something was coming soon on Disney DVD and Blueray, the exact wording used in the trailers. That scared the shit out of me. It was a clear indication that we've collectively consumed the Disney Kool-aid.

So the last time Mia asked me to play Cinderella III: A Twist In Time I started throwing out alternate sequels which just confused here. They made me giggle, though. Of course, that's not hard. Here are my suggestions for the Disney folks about the future of the Cinderella franchise.

Cinderella IV: Prince Charming Goes Abroad. While Prince Charming travels to remote regions of the empire, Cinderella becomes enamored with stable-boy Phillipe. Sparks and hay fly in this wild animated romp through royal desires. Add this Disney DVD to your collection today.

Cinderella V: Cinderella In Outer Space. Cinderella has pursued Prince Charming across continents and through time but now the adventure travels through another dimension - outer space. See the excitement as Cinderella trades her tiara for a spacesuit and, with help from the Fairy Godmother, finds love in zero Gs.

Cinderella VI: The Return Of The Princess. Never has Cinderella faced such a challenge. Her animal friends are marooned on the forest moon of Endor while, orbiting above, Darth Stepmother is plotting to destroy the moon and all its inhabitants, finally reclaiming the glass slipper for her own. This underdog story will be inspirational for the whole family.

Cinderella VII: Rule Hard. Cinderella is trapped in her castle, which has been overrun with German bandits seeking her riches. Armed with only a magic wand and a walkie-talkie, Cinderella must act stealthily to avoid capture and overcome them before they make off with the royal treasure.


Cinderella VIII: Cinderella Versus Predator. In a smackdown of royal proportions, Cinderella must stave off the apocalyptic hordes threatening her kingdom and the world. Even with the help of her mouse friends and the magical Fairy Godmother, can evil truly be defeated? This charming addition to the Cinderella saga is full of magic, suspense and evisceration.

Cinderella IX: Cinderella Visits Vegas. After a little bump in her happily ever after road, Cinderella finds herself getting the high-roller treatment in Vegas on a drug-fueled binge through seedy casinos and seedier hotel rooms. This inspiring cautionary tale shows that even royalty isn't perfect. The whole family will enjoy. [Warning: Deleted scenes contained on the bonus disc are for mature audiences only.]

Cinderella X: Cinderella Does Belgium. This heartwarming Disney adventure shows what happens when a Princess no longer wants to be a lady. If you know what we mean. Watch Cinderella take on all courtesans and their royal scepters. [Available by mailorder and at participating adult retailers only.]

Cinderella XI: Cinderella, The Revenge. Strung out and left for dead, Cinderella - half human, half cyborg - returns to get revenge. Can Prince Charming appeal to whatever sense of right and wrong she has left? Or will he find himself another corpse in Cinderella's wake. The whole family will love the return of a Disney classic, the first animated feature directed by Quenten Tarantino.

Posted by Chris at 6:28 AM | Comments (25)

February 17, 2009

My Teeth, They Betray Me

So, no root canal (just barely dodged that bullet) but thanks to a tricky filling, I used a straw the whole damn day.

Posted by Chris at 9:26 PM | Comments (11)

Things I Learned Whilst Lying In Owen's Crib

Owen, like most kids his age, prefers to be comforted by his mom. I understand this. My feelings are not hurt. I do not smell pretty or have breasts. When he invariably wakes up in the night, it is Beth who goes to comfort him. When I try, he screams as if I am trying to gnaw off his arms. If he could speak English, I'm sure this would be translated as where is my mommy...get this guy the fuck out of here right now. But the other night was rough and when it looked like we were in for another rough one, I tried to take over for Beth. I was, surprisingly, moderately successful. About 10:00, Owen started making noise so I climbed, cat-like, into his crib with him. He was tired enough that he didn't do an identity check. Over the course of the two and a half hours that I spent next to and under him, Owen managed to maneuver me into a series of positions which left me uncomfortable and unable to sleep. Yet I made a vow that I was not going to move or in any way jeopardize Owen's sleep until he, himself, woke up. Here's what I learned.

  • I am not a large man. I'm not overweight or tall but the time at which I could comfortably fit into a crib is long passed. Worse, cribs are like the ideal torture device for adults. There is no possible way to get comfortable. Especially with a grumpy baby in there with you. If it wasn't getting closed down eventually, I'd say they should buy cribs for Gitmo. Those guys would sing in no time.
  • If there's any genetic component to it, Owen got his snoring gene from me. For something so small, he's a hell of a good snorer.
  • Having a kid sneeze a nice juicy sneeze directly into your ear is just as bad as you'd think it would be. It's hard to say if I lost hearing because of the loudness or the kid snot stuck in my inner ear.
  • Owen wears nice warm jammies and our windows, up until this weekend, sucked. I was dressed in PJ bottoms and a t-shirt. Owen was dressed in jammies (tops and bottoms) over which he had a nice fuzzy onsie. I got cold. Like, really fucking cold. Well into hour two (remember, part of this time I was actually under Owen and had made my vow not to wake him up) I got desperate and found his baby blanket and strategically placed that on various parts of my body in succession. This was not at all satisfying because his blanket is no more than 12 by 12 inches.
  • Despite what I often think, I cannot indeed sleep anywhere or in any situation. I know it's shocking but despite being a mattress, shivering, getting sneezed and snored at and being twisted into odd positions a circus freak wouldn't even find comfortable, I didn't get a wink.

After a while, Owen woke up, became lucid and realized that I was not Beth. And he got pissed. I got to crawl back in a warm bed and sleep. But I also learned that it's uncomfortable, sure, but kinda nice to be trapped under a sleeping baby. Which I was. Again. Last night. I woke up at 3 AM to him faceplanted on my back. My back, which was covered in a puddle of drool.

Speaking of drool, I have to go find out if I need a root canal. Please think no root canal thoughts for me, okay?

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (28)

February 16, 2009

Friends And Windows And Stress...Oh My!

This weekend I managed to finally come to terms with an interesting paradox. If you rest and relax and do nothing, while you feel more rested come Monday, it doesn't feel like you accomplished much. But if you're busy - if, say, you have some construction done on your home, you work, and you have friends over - and manage to cram a lot into a weekend, while you don't particularly feel very well-rested on Monday morning, you sure had a lot of fun.

On Friday, our new windows were installed. When I returned home in the middle of the day to work, I was greeted by Beth, Owen and Mia hiding out in the basement. It made it a little difficult to concentrate on work but I understood the fight or flight mentality when faced with home renovation. So, it was pretty cozy in the basement. Luckily, the team of guys took only about seven hours to finish the job. We're the proud owners of band-spankin'-new windows. And they're gorgeous.

This weekend was played host to some friends and bloggers. And by that, I mean friends who also happen to be bloggers not some people who are friends then some other people we don't particularly like who maintain blogs. On Saturday night, Sarah brought the extended Goon Squad over to play. And for dinner. And see, this is one reason Sarah and her family are awesome - they seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable that we decided not to cook for them but, instead, to order takeout Indian. That's friendship. On Sunday morning, Erin brought Clementine and Oscar over. We had a nice lunch and we did some hardcore playing. Mia was especially happy about seeing Clementine. Last week she heard a song about a different Clementine on the radio. She was particularly concerned about the you are lost and gone forever line. And while Beth assured her that the song's subject was indeed a different Clementine, she was only finally convinced beyond a reasonable doubt on Sunday.

This weekend also brought some work. See, back before Christmas I talked about a project - a certified Big Work Thing - that was supposed to happen but didn't. Said Big Work Thing finally hit last week. And I'm in charge of part of it. Sure, it's only for the next month but by the end of that time I might be insane. Wish me luck.

Anyway, that's the weekend - friends, windows and work. What did you guys do? And do you have any tricks for making it through a solid month of stress?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (22)

Haiku For Monday #256

I'm supposed to have
President's Day off, right. Then
why am I working?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (6)

February 13, 2009

The Weeklies #73

The Weekly Event. Owen's birthday, of course. Followed closely by my Solo Parenting Extravaganza last night. I'm wiped.

The Weekly Unsexy Purchase That Is Being Installed Today. New windows.

The Weekly Most Worthless Celebrity. Chris Brown. 'Nuff said.

The Weekly Viral Video. What happens when some Japanese dudes put on funny outfits and strap binoculars to their heads and play soccer? You should really see for yourself.

The Weekly Read. So, I finally bit the bullet and picked up a James Patterson novel. Never read anything by the man before. I breezed through The Quickie and, while I wasn't expecting to like it based on all the negative reviews I saw, I found it marginally entertaining. I mean, you have to set some realistic expectations. It's not War And Peace. It requires a massive suspension of disbelief. It is the verbal equivalent of a throw-away summer movie starring Ashley Judd. But it is entertaining. Not great, not terrible. Just entertaining.

The Weekly Time Waster. Sorry about this but Bubble Spinner is pretty rad.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Okay, I'm going to pick on Octomom again. Remember the lady who just had eight kids and shopped her story around for $2 million? Well, surprise surprise she and her family are on food stamps and she's even gone online and set up a site taking donations. Look, I'm sorry if having 14 kids is too expensive but you should have thought of that a little sooner.

The Weekly Hypothetical. You can fix the economy or you can figure out the meaning of life. Which do you do and why?

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (48)

February 12, 2009

Inappropriate Things My Daughter Said

My daughter says some wacky shit. I mean, she always has. But lately it seems like there's a higher concentration of wacky. I'm going to attribute it to the fact that she's given up napping during the day and she's downright delusional by the time I get home in the evenings. I like the fact that she's wacky. Fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, and all that. Here are three examples which occurred within 48 hours of each other.

Scene One. I was putting a very tired Mia to bed. She was lying down, under the covers, preparing to read one of the 2,402 books on her bed with her flashlight. Yes, her flashlight. Her room, in the evenings, is wondrous. In one corner are hanging lanterns, surrounded by hand-painted butterflies while a moon and stars hang in another corner. The entire room is adorned in butterflies. And, lately, the ceiling is awash in stars generated by this little mini-planetarium she loves while princess songs waft through the air. While lying there with her, both of us tired and close to snoozeville, she unexpectedly became very animated and very excited. Daddy daddy daddy! she shouted. What what what? I asked. Daddy, I just put nose boogers in my ear! She was so proud. And so classy.

Scene Two. I was getting changed after work, trading in a suit and tie for jeans and a t-shirt. I was in my boxers and socks (sexy) when Mia walked right up to me and - before my manly instincts to protect one's nether regions from uncertainty could kick in - opened up the front flap of my boxers.

Mia: Do you want your penis out?
Me: Um, no. I think my penis is fine where it is.
Mia: Okay, but if you want it out, I'll be here to help.
Me: You know sweetheart, I think I have that covered. But thanks.

At some point we're going to have to have the Private Parts Talk or the Personal Space Talk or the Let Your Daddy Wield His Own Penis Because He's A Professional And Would Rather Not Talk To Child Services Today Talk. But I really hate to spoil the innocence.

Scene Three. The kitchen. Beth is making dinner and I'm playing with the kids. Mia, who often makes up randomly named games the rules to which no one knows - like Hoodle-Heee-Hooo-Pickle which involved screaming the alphabet and kicking a ball - was tossing an oven mitt in the air.

Mia: Hey, let's play a game of Catch-The-Cock!
Me: Mommy and I played that last night.

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (52)

February 10, 2009

How The Today Show Made Me Dumber

I'm pretty sure that the sole mission of The Today Show is to lobotomize the American public. Before you jump up and down screaming, accusing me of inciting panic and fear-mongering or throwing "America's First Family" of Matt, Ann, Al and Meredith under the bus, I have evidence. First, the list of stories covered so far this week, according to their own website.

  • N.J. man finally gets to see son in Brazil
  • 10 tips for the fun-yet-frugal Valentine
  • Dr. Ruth: Great sex is like fine wine
  • 20-year wait to see abducted kids not over
  • Four sisters, four weddings — in one year
  • Barefoot Contessa's mustard roasted fish
  • Under pressure: Are girls facing too much?
  • Stressed out! The life of a ‘Supergirl’
  • It's a boy! Tiger becomes father for second time
  • Call TODAY’s parenting expert for advice
  • How sweet it is: Spiced hot chocolate
  • Snooze away those unwanted pounds
  • Hoda, Kathie Lee return to 'SNL'
  • Secret cupid delivers V-Day cheer
  • Best gift for your guy? A boudoir photo
  • Martha’s Valentine’s Day crafts
  • Tara Conner on getting sober
  • Grammy red carpet glitter
  • Ambush! Hot new looks for heart patients
  • Last year's top dog ready to yield title
  • Is your diet making you fat?
  • Secret cupid delivers Valentine's Day cheer
  • Miss Piggy: How to love like a ‘Diva’

I have, uh, news for Today - this is not news. Tiger Woods having a kid would be news only if it was revealed that he had blossomed a vagina and given birth from his own loins. There is absolutely no possibility that I could care less about Martha Stewart's Valentine's Day craft prowess. Nor do I give a crap about Tara Conner. Frankly she was a hell of a lot more interesting when she was a trainwreck. My diet is not making me fat. It's making me crabby. Crabbier now that you've brought up hot chocolate. I cannot conceive of fashion specifically designed for heart patients. The Grammys are boring. And Miss Piggy is a fucking puppet and, as such, should not be giving advice on love. I'm pretty sure Dr. Ruth is a puppet too so the same goes for her.

And if this list of inane crap wasn't bad enough, didn't scream hello, we are NBC and we are here to turn your brain into mush so that one day we can run nothing but really bad remakes of old series from the 1980s and you will watch and you will love it, I actually tuned into this crap about a week ago. Willingly. No gun to my head or promise of free candy after watching.

I was home, working, and made the mistake of turning on the television. If I'm home and doing something that takes less than full brain power I'll sometimes pop in a DVD of Magnum P.I. (come on, Magnum rocks) or something similar. But no, on this particular day I wanted to see what was happening in the world. Boy was I barking up the wrong tree. Because what I found instead were two worthless giggly people dancing and talking about Facebook. Kathy Lee Gifford - who I now know to be completely useless - and Hoda Kotb - who I once ran into at the beach a few years ago and respected - were, I swear, talking about Facebook, Regis Philbin and god while dancing around the studio. It was completely fucked up. I thought I must be drunk or asleep so I turned off the TV, pinched myself, said ow, turned the TV back on and there they were dancing and talking about Facebook. I wish I could say that this lasted a minute and a half then they went back to reporting news but, no, they kept dancing, talking about Facebook and how many friends they had.

So, when I turned the television off fifteen minutes later - who doesn't like to watch a good trainwreck? - I felt stupid. Not embarrassed stupid but literally stupid. The Today Show made me dumber.

Look, I know that if I wanted news, I went to the wrong source. I really do know that. But The Today Show is billed as news. It's included in the news section of NBC's programming site. The people who host it are called anchors and reporters. And all it is is a televised ego-tripping wank-fest populated by pretty people who think they're important and like to hear themselves talk. Is this seriously what passes for news?

So, news. Is the coverage good or are we getting a raw deal? How do you get your news? Or do you just avoid it altogether?

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (40)

One

Dear Owen,

One year ago today you were born. You emerged into the word, pulled from your mother, all covered in goo to the strains of the Phil Collins cover of You Can't Hurry Love echoing through the white-tiled operating room. It was both ironic and fitting. Fitting because it's true - you cannot indeed hurry love. It just has to wait. Nine months, as a matter of fact. Ironic because your mom hates Phil Collins with a fiery passion. You and I know better.

When you were born, your mom was lying down by necessity, missing out on all the action. So I narrated everything that was being done to you - the weighing, the measuring, the cleaning, the drops in your eyes. It probably sounded like a really strange documentary with an emotionally unstable narrator. The first cry spoke for itself. It was evident early on you had a good set of lungs. Then I got to hold you. And show you to your mom.

I'm not afraid to admit it but before you came into the world, I was scared. I was scared what life would be like now that your mom and I were evenly matched. I was scared of what would happen to my relationship with your sister. I was scared that I wouldn't love you as much. But all of those fears melted away once I met you.

A year later, you're a funny kid. You have wild blond hair that sticks straight up and cannot be tamed. You love being told no. You get into absolutely everything and once that everything is acquired it goes straight into your mouth. You love making noise. And you love to eat. Last night alone you ate two cups of yogurt, a bowl of avocados, a half-dozen slices of cheese, a few dozen grapes, a bowl of the baked orzo we had for dinner, an apple and a graham cracker. In certain respects, like food, you're the Anti-Mia. But speaking of your sister, you absolutely love her. You call her Aiya, follow her everywhere and try to do everything she does. This annoys her - and your very existence will continue to torment her for the next decade or so - but you should understand that she loves you right back. The strangling hugs combined with the fact that she tries to pawn her dinner off on you are ample evidence. You love to kiss me with bizarrely cute open-mouthed kisses that gross out everyone watching. You enjoy nothing more than being naked. And when you really truly like someone it shows because your arm goes straight down their shirt. You could stand some work on the whole sleeping thing, but I suppose you'll work that out eventually. Still, this next year, take it easy on your mom, okay? She deserves a break.

It sounds cliche, but it truly seems like yesterday when we brought you home from the hospital and plopped you down in the middle of the living room. The three of us stared at you sitting there in your car seat and I know that we were all asking the same question - now what? I guess we have our answer. We all grew a year older, a year wiser, a year better off for having known you. You are a wonderful little person, Owen. I love you little dude.

Dad

Posted by Chris at 6:38 AM | Comments (42)

February 9, 2009

A Tale of Two Celebrations

The weekend...what to say about the weekend. First, it was absolutely beautiful. Now, I'm sure it was just some kind of seasonal cock-tease. Tomorrow it'll probably be three degrees and snowing. But it was nice while it lasted. To illustrate, here's my backyard, first thing Sunday morning as the sun rose in the east and began to shine on the trees to the west.


I am loathe to put an adjective to how I think this week is going to go. I don't think it's going to be a lot of fun. That really couldn't slow me down this weekend though. We had celebrating to do.

On Friday night, Beth and I took my parents out for dinner for their anniversary. They've been married, get this, 45 years. In this day and age that's pretty incredible. We hit a hip local Italian place, ate way too much pasta and had a wonderful time. I can only wish Beth and I as much success.

Tomorrow is Owen's birthday. We celebrated it this weekend - yesterday, in fact, which is why I feel as though I was kicked in the head by a pony at a midget rodeo - with a family-only party. And despite the fact that the guest list was pretty small, those kids parties will take a lot out of you. Backing up a bit, Mia, Owen and I hit Target on Saturday morning. Mia had money burning a hole in her pocket. Or, rather, a Target gift card. While out with Beth on Friday, she spied an Aurora so we headed back to spend some of that money on good old Sleeping Beauty. And for the difference on the card, she managed to score a Tinker Bell teapot-house thingy. Then we returned home whilst Beth finished making a few dishes of enchiladas for the party. Beth and Mia had a date making cupcakes for the celebration. Then the four of us went for a wonderfully long walk. I wore a t-shirt. It rocked. On Saturday night, we managed to get the kids to bed at a reasonable hour after which we cleaned and hung decorations. More of the same can be said for Sunday morning.


The party was fun, the company was great and I'm pretty sure Owen had a great time despite the fact that he didn't get to unwrap any of his own toys nor was he allowed to play with them once they had been liberated from their wrapping. Both of those jobs went to Mia. But he seemed pretty thrilled with the attention, loved the toys once he finally got a chance to play with them, and, well, I let him watch cartoons so that was pretty cool too.

I'm sure I'll have adequate opportunity to reflect on Owen's birthday this week. Right now, I just need a lot of coffee. And, perhaps, a nap.

What were you guys up to this weekend?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (45)

Haiku For Monday #255

Time out. Stop the clock.
Nobody move 'til I get
lots of coffee, yo.

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (1)

February 7, 2009

The Final Winner

All of your answers yesterday were awesome. What I thought was especially cool was that given the opportunity to interview anyone in history or in the future, you guys mostly chose family. Especially touching was Maribeth's response. Maribeth lost a daughter. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like. Flowers certainly can't make up for that at all but it seems like the least I can do.

Congratulations Maribeth. And congratulations to all the winners. Thanks to all of you for making it a pretty successful week around here!

Posted by Chris at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

February 6, 2009

The Weeklies #72

The Weekly Worst Name of a Person That I Actually Met. Myluv. Yeah, her first name was Myluv.

The Weekly Time Waster. I'll just apologize for this in advance. The New Switcheroo.

The Weekly Oops. Comcast customers in Tucson got a little more than they bargained for while watching the superbowl - porn. For thirty seconds, viewers accidentally got a taste of some of Comcast's more adult offerings. They're trying to get to the bottom of the malfunction. In the mean time, they're offering viewers $10 for the inconvenience.

The Weekly Read. I was prepared not to like Ablutions: Notes for a Novel by Patrick deWitt. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the gimmick factor. I like books with a gimmick - when they tell a story in a unique way - but the more of a gimmick that exists, the more they have to prove that they can tell a story. A book can't be all gimmick. deWitt's angle here? Just what the subtitle says - notes for a novel. It's told in the second person, as if you were quickly jotting notes down to write about yourself. The thing is? This is a terribly sincere, heartbreaking and funny novel. The gimmick works. But it doesn't overshadow the fact that deWitt can write and has developed a truly moving story.

The Weekly Music. Ever heard of Hope Roth? You should. I mean, she's been a blogging buddy for a long time and I've been reading her for years. But I finally got a chance to check out her music. Hope's got a new album out entitled Beer and Pie. And honestly, I'd give her five out of five starts just for the name. But the name alone didn't have to carry the album. I guess I'd describe it as a little bit folky with a definite sparse, vintage feel to it. Something like Aimee Mann or Ani DiFranco would put out - stripped down, honest. The songs are well written and the musicianship is fantastic. So, support a fellow blogger and give Hope a shot.

The Weekly Terrible Person. A California woman gave birth to octuplets in late January. Neat. Mazel Tov! My enthusiasm ends, though, when discovering that the 33 year old mother already had six children, is unmarried and unemployed, and resides in a two-bedroom home. Worse, she's already hired a publicist and is shopping what she hopes is her $2 million story to talk show hosts. I'm not some ancient, sexist prude. I don't believe that every woman has to have a man for support. But I do think you should be able to provide for your kids. And there's no way a 33 year old, single unemployed mom can support 14 kids without the financial burden being passed to you and I. Just because something's possible doesn't make it a good idea.

The Weekly Cool Discount. 20% off at ProFlowers and a free vase for each of you!

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Michael Phelps smoked pot. But based on the public's reaction, he might as well have shot Santa Claus dead with a shotgun. Look, I get that he's a role model and that taking a bong hit in public probably wasn't the greatest idea ever. But the guy is 23 years old. He's trained - and been, as a result, successful - for something all of his life. In doing so, he never really got those formative years in which we all get to screw up and get a pass from society. The man smoked pot. So what.

The Weekly Hypothetical. You can go backward or forward in time - or just stay put in the present day - with a notebook and a pen to interview anyone for one hour. Who do you interview and what questions do you ask?

________________

Wondering who won the Battle Of The Made Up Words? That honor goes to Arwen for the simply brilliant touron and satisfying combination of tourist and moron. Living around DC, I particularly appreciate that one. You've got one more chance to win - yep, the last $70 gift certificate from ProFlowers is up for grabs. Answer the hypothetical and I'll pick a winner.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Getting free stuff is fun but giving it away is more fun. And you all rock hard. I wish I could give you each something for being awesome. But I don't have that kind of cash so you'll just have to be satisfied with my humble gratitude.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (40)

February 5, 2009

No, There Really Isn't A Word For That

Before I graduated from college with the ever-useful degrees I now hold, I had to write a thesis, develop an hour long presentation, brief said presentation and defend it to a board of professors. It was rough. See, I'd spent the majority of my college career to that point studying Asian history - specifically Chinese - with a professor who I deeply liked because he was a goofball. I learned a lot, sure, but this was the guy who had to be summoned to deliver a final because he'd forgotten, was cleaning out his gutters and showed up in ripped jeans and dirty gloves. This was the guy who, having arrived on our shores from Korea in the early fifties, got several degrees from impressive American institutions of higher education and had been teaching at my college since 1968 yet could still barely speak the English language. This was the guy who accepted the exact same research paper from me for three separate classes (I had him a whopping 13 times). This is the guy who claimed you could learn about the cultures of other countries by drawing a map of the world in potatoes and insisted that the Jewish god Yaweh was actually named Yahoo. So, while I learned a lot from him and am absolutely positive that a good percentage of his absent-mindedness was an act, having to defend a thesis to "real" professors was tough. But I did. The topic? Mao Zedong's legacy to modern China. (Y'all are asleep now, right? WAKE UP!)

Writing the paper was the easy part. I loved writing papers, hated taking tests. I'd gladly take any class for which long research papers were the basis for grades. And I had an entire semester to write this one, and my absent-minded professor advising me. The presentation made me the most anxious but I presented my thesis and backed it up with irrefutable research. I spoke eloquently about the uniquity of Mao's rule, the uniquity of China as a country and how these two unique elements intersected to bring about the uniquity of the current Chinese governmental and societal structures. And as I was leaving, the cold sweat abating, I was told by one of the professors - the Department head - that I'd done a good job but by the way uniquity was not a word.

Fuck.

I'm sure I turned bright red. I distinctly recall saying something like I can't believe I did that after which I turned and left the room. I got a B+ on the entire package. I was happy but I couldn't help thinking that uniquity lost me the A. And the more and more I contemplated it, the more and more I thought that uniquity should be a word. I mean, uniquity is perfect, much better than uniqueness, the actual correct word which to me sounds terribly awkward and much more made up than my fake word. And though that was 13 years ago, it still bothers me. I often think about lobbying the word police or the big brains who run the Oxford English Dictionary to add uniquity. I think it could be my great contribution to society. Or something.

What concepts do not have words devoted to them that should? What are your favorite made up words? And what words would you make if you controlled the dictionary?


________________

Who won yesterday's gift certificate? Jessica. You all entertained the hell out of me and without it, I wouldn't have made it through the day. But Jessica went the extra mile. I think I got about 2,491 emails from her throughout the day including a portrait of herself and Jesus. That's hard to beat. Don't despair. You've got two chances left to land yourself $70 gift certificate from ProFlowers. Today, open those comments and give me your best made up words or words that truly should exist but don't. The awesomest (see, just made up that word - its easy!) wins. Bonus points if, you know, I shoot coffee out my nose or something.

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (79)

February 4, 2009

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning?

I was up early with both of the kids on Saturday morning. Like, both were awake and rarin' to go at 6:00 AM. So while attempting to consume as much coffee in as short a time as possible, I did what any right-thinking person would do. I flipped on the TV. Look, I'm not proud of it but for a few minutes it provided ample distraction while I went about caffeinating myself and scratching the sleep from my eyes. And it's not like I let them watch The Sopranos or CSI. Sesame Street was on. But still, whilst flipping through the channels looking for something marginally appropriate (hence, Sesame Street), I got kind of wistful and nostalgic.

See, when I was a kid, Saturday mornings were special. Saturday mornings were the original must see TV.

On any given Saturday, you'd find me downstairs in front of the television before my parents were even awake. My parents weren't TV people but even they recognized the fundamental importance of Saturday morning cartoons. The cartoons that were new when I was a kid? The Superfriends, Scooby-Doo, something surreal from Sid and Marty Kroftt (The Banana Splits or Land of the Lost, maybe), and Space Academy. Of course, there were also the obligatory re-runs of The Flintstones, The Jetsons and The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show. Eventually, The Smufts and the near-identical Snorks took over and ran alongside Fat Albert and Super Globetrotters. Sprinkled throughout were short segments like In The News and Schoolhouse Rock. Looking back at old TV schedules I'm horrified to learn that Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Laverne and Shirley In The Army, The Gary Coleman Show, The Dukes (yes, of Hazzard) and Gilligan's Planet (yeah, Gilligan in space - seriously) were also on many a Saturday morning. I seem to have blocked those from my memory.

It makes me sad that Saturday morning cartoons are no longer an institution. All that's on on the networks are infomercials or news. I realize there are more channels available. When I was a kid, we had six - NBC, ABC, CBS, a PBS station and two independent UHF channels one of which could only be viewed if we stood on one leg while holding rabbit ears at precisely a 43.2 degree angle while singing the chorus to We Are The World. But still.

I'd like to think that it was then that I did something that, again, any right-thinking person would do. I changed the channel and the three of us watched The Flintstones in our jammies.

________________

Congratulations to yesterday's winner - Morninglight Mama - who happened to be four entries off of the answer, 2780! If you'd like to be in the running for the 3rd ProFlowers gift certificate valued at $70, try to keep me entertained while I sit in meetings all day long. Seriously. I have one half hour without meetings. So there's your job for today. Crack me up, distract me or generally entertain me while I sit in meetings (I'll be checking my email on my phone) I'll be picking the winner who kept me most amused tonight. Of course, you can always just randomly comment and hope you get randomly chosen too. That might work.

Posted by Chris at 6:30 AM | Comments (77)

February 3, 2009

TXT? WTF?

If you were to pry my smartphone from my hands - not something that's accomplished easily - you'd find my complete calendar which tells me exactly where I need to be and when. Without it I'd be really and truly screwed. You'd find two email inboxes - one from work the other my rudecactus Gmail account. That's right - I can't stand being away from you guys but I promise that I'll never reply to your email from the bathroom. You'd also find a scant few text messages.

Among those text messages are those Beth and I traded the other day. This event was strange for two reasons. First, neither of us text that much. Second, we were sitting in her car, next to each other.

Me: Hey baby.
Beth: Hey.
Me: Whatcha wearing?
Beth: Nothing. You?
Me: Me either.
Beth: How bout a quickie?
Me: Awesome.

The second batch of messages are between me and a few folks I work with. We're frequently in different places, in different meetings and texting is the only convenient way to get to one another.

Coworker: Did Frank ever get back to you on the details of that contract?
Me: Course not. He doesn't exactly follow-up well. Plus he's kind of an ass.
Coworker: True. Follow-up with him, k?
Me: WTHN
Coworker: Huh?
Me: Thought that was texting shorthand for why the hell not.
Coworker: Oh duh, yeah.
Me: I don't text much.
Coworker: NS
Me: I don't need that translated.

That got me thinking about the prevalence of texting. I mean, I remember seeing a news report last month that one girl last month sent over 14,000 text messages in a single month. Now, I'm pretty sure her thumbs are now gone, worn clean off, but it's still damn impressive. Me, I've never really gotten into the whole texting thing. I see how it's convenient. I get that, I really do. But my phone can get me in touch with anyone in virtually any way short of Princess Leia hologramming and I'm not sure but I believe it can actually make sandwiches as well. So texting, to me, seems pretty rudimentary, pretty low-tech to me at this point.

What about you? Do you text? Do you avoid it? How reliant on your cell phone - especially texting - are you?

________________

I know - you've made it this far and you're thinking cut the crap and tell me if I won and, if I didn't, what can I do for another shot. Well, chill out and put your virtual hands together for Sue R (currently blogless but a long time reader), the lucky winner of the first $70 ProFlowers gift certificate randomly selected by Mia me (yeah, Mia was totally into helping out but the comments just kept rolling in well past her bedtime). If you'd like to pocket the next gift certificate, all you have to do is answer this question correctly (or be the closest guesser).

Since starting this site, how many posts have I written?


Posted by Chris at 6:34 AM | Comments (98)

February 2, 2009

Suburban Ninjahood

We've known each other for a few years so it's about time that I reveal my true superhero alter-ego. This weekend, as I do most weekends, I transformed myself into Suburban Dad Ninja. The job of Suburban Dad Ninja? To fight boredom, change diapers, provide sustenance and wear a pretty darn kick-ass ninja outfit.


As with most weekends, I was up early doing my best to walk the fine line between coffee chugging and third degree mouth burns in order to get focused. Kids are amazing in that they wake up completely and totally awake and alert. If I could bottle whatever it is that allows them to wake up talking 80 miles and hour bouncing off the walls, I'd be Rich As God Suburban Dad Ninja.

And poor Owen. The kid's got, like, 87 teeth trying to come in and he's in a pretty massive amount of pain. And it didn't help that Mia and I conspired to dress him up in the clothes her Babar doll was wearing. I know at some point, when he's in his fourth or fifth year of therapy, he's going to stumble on the photos I took of him and later report to his therapist they dressed me like a fucking elephant. But it was sure cute at the time.


My daughter herself is no stranger to the strange. Beth had a dentist appointment on Friday morning and Mia went with her, wanting a preview of what she's in for when she has her appointment this week. She came home way more enthusiastic about the dentist than anyone with teeth has the sense too. Apparently, she dug the whole rinse and spit thing the most. Because she repeated the process in our kitchen for, oh, a half hour. She just sat there rinsing and spitting, totally focused, totally in the zone. Kids are weird.

In the last hours of the weekend, both kids were in the kitchen melting down, screaming over crazy crap and all I could do was sit there and laugh. I actually felt bad. But I laughed. Because what the hell else are you going to do? And its not a good weekend unless you've had a few meltdowns.

Now, allow me to shill for a moment - I think you'll find that it's worth your while. The kind folks at ProFlowers gave me not one or two but five (F-I-V-E) gift certificates valued at $70 to give away. That means you can pick up virtually anything offered at ProFlowers worth up to $70 for zippy. It's Monday and early so I am neither well-rested or caffeinated so if you're asking yourself self, how do I get my hands on one of those gift certificates that would really and truly be a kick ass way to start my week the answer is simple - just leave a comment. Mia will be randomly drawing a name based on today's comments. So comment early and comment often. I'll announce the winner tomorrow, along with details on how you can land the second gift certificate of the week.

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (186)

Haiku For Monday #254

I predict this week
will be a crazy ride, yo.
Please wish my ass luck.

Posted by Chris at 6:30 AM | Comments (6)


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