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Sunday, March 26, 2006

 

Gone Fishin'



Won't be back 'til we're good and rested.

Happy Spring!


Saturday, March 25, 2006

 

Sgt. Pepper Across The 8th Dimension



I was going through my old poster collection, recently unearthed after nearly a decade of storage, and I asked my son if he wanted a few of them for his wall. He got his two requests: Star Wars and Beatles. Can you spot the two 30-year-old posters in the picture above? I told my son, "These posters are special to me, so I want you to take care of them. They used to hang on my wall when I was a kid, you know." He stared at them in silent awe, then said, "Thank you Daddy, I always wanted to have antiques in my room!"

Strange sounds have been coming out of the shower when my son is in there... He likes to sing at the top of his lungs and lately it's been a non-stop Beatles medley. His favorite songs are from the Sgt. Pepper's album, but he can only remember the first few lines of each song so it sounds something like this:

"It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper told the band they could play,
and if I sing a song out of tune,
would you stand up and leave the room.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
And Lucy up in the sky with diamonds!!"


So I've been making all sorts of Beatles-related playlists on iTunes for him. After explaining what a "cover song" is, he really liked this re-imagining of the Sgt. Pepper album...

I call it Sgt. Pepper Across The Eighth Dimension. Click each MP3 file to listen. Enjoy:

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by Bill Cosby
2. With A Little Help From My Friends by Wolf Sun
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by William Shatner
4. Getting Better by Hawaiian Style Band
5. Fixing A Hole by Hampton Avenue
6. She's Leaving Home by Billy Bragg
7. For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite by The Spongetones
8. Within You Without You by Big Head Todd & The Monsters
9. When I'm Sixty-Four by John Denver
10. Lovely Rita by Big Daddy
11. Good Morning, Good Morning by The Lolas
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) Outtake by The Beatles
13. A Day In The Life by Jeff Beck


Friday, March 24, 2006

 

Basketball Lessons

Things My Son Learned During His First Basketball Season

1. Practice is more fun than the actual game.
2. Friends pass the ball to friends.
3. Coaches yell, "Work as a team, slow down, pass the ball!" Parents in the stands yell, "Take it all the way, go for it, shoot the ball!"
4. Snacks are a great reward.
5. It's just a game, you don't need to cry when you lose.
6. When the ball hits you in the face, it hurts like a you-know-what.
7. Even though I never got to shoot a basket, or catch a pass, or dribble the ball down court, I still had fun!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 

Short Stuff

  • The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has added a daddy blog to their line-up of great blogs. Another newspaper that is embracing the future!

  • My daughter was upset today because at snack time all the girls were given pink cups. She wanted a blue one like the boys, but they didn't have any extras.

  • Today was my son's last day of school before Spring Break. I asked him if the kids in his class were happy about no school for ten days. His reply: "Yeah, they were happy, but not as much as our teacher."

  • Total Depravity weighs in on the Men's Reproductive Rights lawsuit.

  • This post at The Oda Mae Baby Blog has me nervously thinking about all the spring projects I'm supposed to be tackling... Now that it's spring.

  • During our movie night, I reached for my daughter's chocolate milk (just to help her finish it, you know) and I heard these words for the first time from her: "Daddy, don't even think about it."

  • I've never used illegal drugs, but I imagine the effect of something like heroin is a lot like what I feel when one of my kids comes up to me and says, "I love you, Daddy."

  • If you're not making daily visits to Small Ages, a wonderful kid-oriented MP3 blog, then you're missing out on a lot of great music.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

Winter's End



On Sunday we drove across the border into Washington to spend the last day of winter on the tubing hill at Mt. Spokane's Bear Creek Lodge. It was a great afternoon for both kids and grown-ups. The best part was the tow-rope that hauls you up the last part of the hill, saving a whole bunch of wear and tear on old muscles like mine.



My 4-year-old daughter was stubbornly firm that she would not go tubing, but it only took one coerced trip down the hill for her to say, "Again again!" And she didn't stop for two hours. She is now officially over her fears of snow sledding.

My son was a machine. He lapped me several times. He knew this was the last chance he'd have for snow play until next winter, and he wanted to pack in as many memories as possible. I think his favorite moment came when I did a face-plant in the snow... it was my wife's fault -- she made me wave at the camera (see below).

Goodbye winter, hello spring! We're ready for the new season.





Monday, March 20, 2006

 

Teacher's Pet

My son and I were talking about something, and the phrase "teacher's pet" came up. He didn't know what that meant, so I explained that it refers to a student who gets extra-special nice treatment from the teacher.

I asked him if his teacher had a "teacher's pet" and he replied: "No, she yells at everybody just the same."


 

Kids With Cameras

Hey, it's National "Give Your Camera To Your Kid For Fifteen Minutes" Week!

Okay, so I made that up. But if you'd like to play along, it's kind of fun to see how your young child views the world. Here are three pictures out of about two dozen that my 4-year-old daughter took yesterday. Most of them were out-of-focus, and of toys, but these were keepers:









Tomorrow I'll be handing the camera to my 7-year-old son to see what he comes up with.


Friday, March 17, 2006

 

Cotton Messy



It was "Spring Fling" at my son's school last night. Games, raffles, pizza, and... my daughter's favorite, cotton candy! The volunteer making the sugary stuff was just getting started, but look how messy she already was!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

 

Can You Dig It?

A couple of summers ago we discovered this amazing Forest Service site about an hour from us where visitors can dig for star garnets. These gem stones are only found in two places: India and Idaho. It was quite a thrill to get down in the mud with shovel in hand and dig out the garnet-bearing gravel. The kids had a blast splashing around and looking for treasure.

Well, all good things come to an end. The Forest Service has announced that because of issues involving water quality, aquatic habitat, and safety concerns, visitors will no longer be digging at the site. Instead, there will be stockpiles of gravel, presumably dug up by rangers, for people to wash and screen through a sluice. Not nearly as exciting for my kids, who equate finding treasure with actual digging in the ground.

I'm glad we went when we did. This is a reminder to not put off those little day trips that you think you'll do next summer, or the next. Put them off too long and you might just miss out altogether.



Here I am, digging for treasure, standing in frigid water in my bare feet. My son loves this picture... It's a memory that will last him a lifetime.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

 

Big Ideas

For the past couple of weeks I've been nagging my son about the Reading Rainbow Young Writers & Illustrators Contest that was coming up this month. He entered a story in the contest last year and received a nice certificate signed by Levar Burton that he has proudly hung on his wall.

This year, however, he dragged his feet about writing another story. Not that it's hard for him. On the contrary, my son can churn out all sorts of tall tales, adventures, fantasies, and space operas. But put him under a deadline and all of a sudden he's got writer's block.

Finally, after another reminder about the contest from me, he stomped his feet and whined, "I just can't do it. Levar wants short stories and I'm full of big ideas!"

Turns out that my son is composing the Great American Novel in his head and doesn't have the time or the patience to whittle it down to 300 words.

Lucky him, though, because I just learned today that the contest has been put on hold due to lack of funding. How come there's no shortage of money for the most inane television shows, like Dancing With The Stars, but quality educational shows like Reading Rainbow have to struggle to be produced? Makes no sense to me.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

 

Belle of the Ball



Watching her big brother play basketball this past month, my daughter has announced that it is now her favorite sport.

Just wait until April when she starts soccer for the very first time!

And...GULP... I'll be the coach.


Friday, March 10, 2006

 

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I just realized that I'm getting to know a huge number of moms and dads in my town through all our school and sports activities. What do you call that... Parental networking?

Funny thing though, we all greet each other like this:

"Hi Tyler's mom!"

"How was your weekend, Emma's dad?"

"Hey Nathan's mom, did you get a call from Callie's dad about next week's snack?"

"Nice to see you again, Aaron's step-grandma."


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

Break The Ice



I've received thousands of emails informing me that it's been a whole week since I posted a picture! So, not wanting to disappoint my devoted fans, here's a photo of the kids breaking the ice at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Marina. That's the world's longest floating boardwalk they're standing on.


 

I Am A Rock

A mom from my daughter's preschool came over today with her daughter for a playdate and lunch. This was my wife's shindig, not mine, so I just tried to stay out of the way and get some work done in the far reaches of the house. But then I realized that I always do that when we have visitors: stay in the background, keep my head low, let my wife take the lead.

It's that last part that I think has colored the view that some friends and family have of me. They never see me in my element, making the majority of the meals, doing most of the housework, teaching the children, and all of the countless little things that go into maintaining a family and a household.

These people never come over except on my wife's days off, and it's on those days that I step back and allow my wife to take the lead on the tasks that she enjoys the most, which includes preparing meals and playing with the kids. So these friends and family members come away from their visits with the impression that I'm nothing more than a lazy bum (yes, I've been called that by one of my wife's relations).

I could put on some big elaborate show for them, but that would mean I'd have to start caring what they think. And in the end I really don't. I only care what my wife and kids think of me... So far I'm passing the audition.

In fact, just the other day my son said to me, "Dad, you rock!" I don't know where he picked that phrase up, but yeah, I guess I do rock! As do all the stay-at-home dads who work long hours for no pay and little respect outside of your own home. You may now pump your fist in the air and shout, "Stay-at-home dads rock!"


Monday, March 06, 2006

 

Chaos and Creation

Today I witnessed a scene of horrific chaos. My son's class had a substitute teacher.

On Mondays I volunteer in the computer lab at his school, mostly running around and re-booting these incredibly frustrating computers they have in there. Today, however, the teacher was sick (again! that's like the tenth time this school year!) and the substitute was cowering in the corner, covered with post-it notes and pretzels. No, not really. But she did look a bit, uh, stressed.

And the kids were learning absolutely nothing. Most of them were drawing. I asked my son what they'd been doing all day and he said "Drawing, reading, playing." So, basically, it was just another day of babysitting at the public school.

The sub didn't want to risk going to computer lab ("It's not in my instructions!!") so I left, happy in the thought that soon, very soon, my son will no longer be wasting his days with busy-work and redundant repetition. We are preparing for home-schooling next fall, and I expect my son to thrive.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

 

Blown Away

My son's second-grade basketball team lost their game this morning by a score of 65-8.

Not a single kid seemed to mind, which is how it should be at this age. Except the coach's son, who sat in a chair sobbing uncontrollably after the final buzzer. I felt sorry for him. So did my son, who said to me in the car, "He's kind of a sore loser, isn't he? You shouldn't cry over things like that. It's just a game."

Despite all of his strange moods, listening problems, and lack of patience with his little sister, my son's turning out to be a really nice person.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

 

Bouncing Baby

A post about babies in restaurants over at Daddychip reminded me of an incident when my son was a baby. We ate out a few times a week back then, because it was just about the only thing that got us out of the house. Not to mention we were both too tired from sleepless nights to think about preparing dinner.

We usually ate at a new Perkins Restaurant that was the only eatery within three miles of our house, and we always requested a booth because my son's car seat fit securely between the back of the seat and the table. He almost always snoozed peacefully through the meal while the wife and I enjoyed the alone time.

One night we ended up at a different restaurant, which was short on booths, so we sat at a table and placed the car seat on one of those tall wooden high chairs, only the waitress turned the chair upside down to accomodate the car seat. It didn't take us long to realize that this set-up was too unstable. So, we took my son out of the car seat and took turns holding him on our lap during the meal.

Our table was located right around the corner from the kitchen door. Toward the end of our meal a waiter came rushing out of that door, looking down at a check in his hand, rounded the corner, and swung his leg right through the high chair, kicking the car seat and sending it through the air about ten feet away. It was quite spectacular, I wish I had instant replay.

But what I remember more was the absolute look of horror that came over that waiter's face when he realized that he had just killed a baby. I think everyone in the suddenly silent restaurant thought the same thing.

After an awkward moment, the waiter realized there was no baby in the car seat, apologized, and ran off to change his underwear. We learned there and then to never place our car seat on one of those high chairs, at least with the baby in it.


Friday, March 03, 2006

 

The Case of the Missing Money

Yesterday my son's class was late coming out of the school at the end of the day, so I walked into the building and started down the long hallway toward his classroom. Before I got there, however, the door opened and out walked three kids, including my son. He breathlessly informed me that "Somebody stole $2 out of Tyler's locker, and the teacher isn't letting anyone go home until the thief confesses!"

Uhhh, so why did she let him and two others out of the classroom? "Because she asked us if we did it, and we said no."

If I can make some sense of second-grade logic, I believe what just happened was that my son's teacher eliminated those students who have a reputation for honesty. Yes, that made me feel pretty good... It confirms that we've instilled in him enough lessons, stories, and examples of good behavior that he has secured himself an early reputation as being a trustworthy and sincere little boy who makes teachers' jobs easier by speaking the plain and simple truth.

I was certainly very proud of myself as we walked out of that building past the other parents.

I said to my son, in a louder-than-usual voice, "Your teacher obviously recognizes you as one of the most honest kids in the class, and that's why you got to leave right away."

He replied, "Or maybe it was just because she believed my shirt!"



Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 

Common Cents

A post about the economy over on DadTalk got me thinking about the sacrifices we make in order to have one parent at home with the kids.

It's not that hard, folks. Or maybe it is for some of you.

Here are a few things that we do in order to live comfortably on one income:

Haircuts: I cut the kids' hair. Scissors for my daughter, clippers for my son. Last week my wife did the unthinkable and allowed me to lop five inches of her long hair off. The next day at work, everyone raved about her haircut. They didn't believe her when she told them who did it. As for me, I cut my own hair with the clippers. And that is why I am easily recognizable around town with my University of Idaho baseball cap always firmly in place. Monthly savings: $50

Entertainment: No cable TV. It saves us alot of time, too, as we aren't tempted to plop down in front of the TV for marathon sessions of House Hunters or Kumars at No. 42. We have a subscription to Netflix at $17.99 a month, so we still enjoy TV shows and movies, only without the commercials. We don't go out to the movie theater except for a family film a few times a year. Books are from the library. Games and puzzles were mostly Christmas presents from relatives. Monthly savings: $40 to $60

Food: This is easy. We just don't eat out very much. Maybe once a week, and even then we usually go to a place where you don't have to tip. No, not fast food. One step up from that, like a fresh burrito or Chinese express type of restaurant. In fact, one of our favorites, Qdoba, has a "kids eat free" deal on Sundays. $12 for a family of four, and it's good food! As for groceries, we don't keep cookies and pop in the house... Things like that add up quickly and aren't good for your kids. A bag of baby carrots is cheap, healthy, and long-lasting. Monthly savings: $50 to $100

Home Maintenance: I do most of it myself. With the amazing resources available on the Internet, a person can figure out how to fix just about anything in your home. As for landscaping and house-cleaning, I'd love to have someone come in once a month to spruce the place up, but those services are usually wildly expensive. There's just no need to pay for that when you can do it yourself. Plus, the kids will see you working and learn to do those chores when they're older! Monthly savings: $20 to $50

Clothes: My wife will disagree, but I'm perfectly content with my two pairs of old jeans, five various t-shirts, and one classic sweatshirt. I have some dressy clothes somewhere, but in my line of work it's better to just wear the old stuff because it's a daily inevitability that something will smear itself on me (usually peanut butter, milk, or cat barf). The kids have more clothes than us, but that's because of their grandparents. Still, when I buy them stuff I head for the clearance rack at Target or Wal-Mart. Those $4 t-shirts do the job just fine. Monthly savings: $100 to $200

Newspaper and magazines: Who needs them when I'm already paying $35 a month for Internet access. Besides, I received two great magazine subscriptions (Smithsonian and Rolling Stone) as Christmas gifts this year. More than enough "office" material for me each week. Monthly savings: $5 to $20

Those are a few things that we do to make sure one of us is home and that our budget isn't stressed. No matter what your income situation, if you took a serious look at your family expenses you might just be surprised at the savings you could find if you learn to cut back and do without. You'll never miss that stuff, really! Just don't forget to buy a nice hat to cover up the funky haircut.