Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barbershop

This week is the International Barbershop convention & competition. It's in Philadelphia. This is interesting, because, three years ago, we were immensely excited about having the convention so close. 3 years: a pregnant wife, house in New Jersey, a great job for The Wife, and unemployment for me. Sigh.



We're obviously not at the convention right now, but it is on the television through the Society's webcast. It's very nice, with a quality picture and sound. I've seen my friends sing, and we even got an email read to Round Midnight, barbershop friends of ours. The first round of the quartet competition runs from 10am to about 11pm, so we're watching a little bit in between boy times.



We've gone to the park, and we went to the comic book store, and we had some nap time. Nothing too exciting, although I was rearended in our car while parallel parking by a recent immigrant who didn't understand American parallel parking. Great. Just got the car back from the body shop, and it's going back in. No one's hurt, and it isn't cancer, so we're good.



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Monday, June 28, 2010

Exciting Day!

We went to Kennywood yesterday, which is a local amusement park just outside of town. It was a picnic day sponsored by Grandpa's company, so we had a nice picnic lunch and access to soda during the day. It was a big deal, because it was about 90 degrees with high humidity. Grandma & Grandpa actually gave us some time to go on some grown-up rides, which we used for two roller coasters - an old-fashioned wooden coaster and a more modern, speedy one.

The Boy had an amazing time! The Kiddie Land was a really great experience for him. The rides, for the most part, had no parents allowed inside. So, he had to go on the rides by himself, climb up on the ride by himself, and/or be helped by the ride attendant. He didn't have a problem with that, which was surprising. Some of the rides were pretty fast and pretty rough, and he really enjoyed them. It was exciting for all of us, because it shows that he's getting to the next level of social behavior. He's turning into a real little boy! His favorite was the "Autoland" ride, which let him sit behind the wheel of a car that traveled around a track.

We had a nice day. We were there from 1 until around 3:30 or 4, then we went home for a couple of hours to nap and to rest and to cool down. Younger Bro went to bed early, and we took The Boy back to the park and stayed until after 9 o'clock! It was a lot of fun and a great day.

This was the best type of anniversary that we could possibly have wanted: a little extra sleep in the morning, a beautiful outside day, and a nice, boring story. Would that I have about forty or fifty more of these... (at that point, at 85 years old, I figure I'll be a little too old for the roller coasters and will retire to easier rides.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick Hits...

It's woot o'clock in the morning, but I'm not sleepy enough. Sigh.



Younger Bro has started waving within the last day or so. Not often, and not on command, but definitely waving. He also said, "Hi!" to Mum.

Again, The Boy came out of bed at midnight. "Where's Daddy? Daddy?" followed by "Need go potty!" He used the potty then went right back to sleep. The gate is now up, so no early morning wandering.

We sang, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" and YB clapped. Very cute.



The Boy kept an accurate upbeat rhythm on some drums today. Tough to do, let me tell you... looks like he might have my sense of rhythm.



Got a nice little thank you today from my sub school - a t shirt and a Starbucks gift card. That's cool, you know? They didn't have to.

The Boy's first picture taken (he turned the camera on and started snapping pictures on my iPhone):



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Friday, June 25, 2010

Nighttime in Dixieland...

Crunchy Mama asked, a couple of days ago, how the latest experiment in The Boy's sleeping arrangements was going. With a cautionary air (one never talks about a batting streak), I can say that it is moving optimistically. (I say this as my other child is standing at a cabinet full of puzzles and chewing on the door. Sigh. The human race is not nearly as advanced as we like to think.)

The nighttime ritual, most of the time, goes something like this: we put Younger Bro to bed between 7:30 and 8:00. That's easy: kisses all around, a bath for a couple of boys maybe, a new diaper, some milk, reading Goodnight Moon, and in his crib. No problems with him, but he's rarely a problem sleeper. The Boy spends the next hour watching some television, or playing, or doing something reasonably unproductive but unexciting. Around 9 o'clock, give or take, I take The Boy into our bedroom. We read a story or three, until The Boy gets tired. We know he's tired because he'll start to rapidly turn the pages of his story to get to the end! At that point, one of us takes him into his bedroom, puts him down, and sits with him for a while. He asks for the usual stuff, to delay sleep: water (we keep a water bottle next to him), new diaper, toys, etc.

The Wife taught me a technique which we've been using to great effect: we say to The Boy, "Daddy will be right back, okay? Right back!" I might say that I'm going to the potty or something similar. I don't lie to him, though; I only use potty as an excuse when I go. Sometimes, I'll just go out in the hallway and sit down out of sight for a few minutes. Then, I go back in. That's important: he needs to know that, when I say I'll be right back, that I'll be right back. Never lie.

Surprisingly, he usually stays in the bed and usually is calmer and closer to sleep than when I'm just sitting with him. Two or three trips out, and he's close to sleep. When he's sleeping, I get up and go back and pretend I'm an adult for a little while - you know, playing video games and watching science fiction television. He's usually up once or twice more put easily put back to sleep.

The last two nights, he's fallen asleep early and while watching television. Sigh. But, last night, he woke up and went into Grandma's room, said, "Pink potty!" She took him to the potty in our bathroom (which is pink), he used the potty, and she took him back inside to go to sleep. Progress!

And, last night, we forgot to put the gate up in the doorway. So, when I heard, "Daddy, Daddy!", it was when he was climbing from downstairs with toys in his hand. No telling how long he was down there. Sigh.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Water SLIDES!

Our friend, Roxanne, bought us a summer membership into Sandcastle, which is a small waterpark located just outside of town. It's a little smaller than the water part of Dorney Park, for those who know that. They have three REALLY BIG, steep slides, and five or six tube slide areas, a wave pool, and three small pools for kids. We got into the park at 4PM, and we left when it closed at 6PM.

It was GREAT! We had such a fun time. The first play area, "Wet Willie's", had a playground area inside the pool, with lots of shooting water spouts and slides and such. It was a little too intense for The Boy, being more for kids 5 to 7. The Tadpool, where we spent most of our time, was more his speed. It had a very wide, non-steep slide that The Boy enjoyed, and two steeper slides that he didn't want to do. The Wife and I were even able to trade off and do some slides on our own! We had a nice time.

Best of all? The Boy went down one of the big tube slides with me, in a tandem tube. I think it scared the crap out of him, because he didn't want to do it again. I think he had some amount of fun: he said, "Fun!" and "I was scared!" and "We went so fast!"

Rough Night

Yesterday, I had a quartet job in the late afternoon, which I followed with a quick workout - doing squats a day after doing deadlifts. Not a great combination, as walking is painful today, but cie la vie. I'm a big boy. I got home just in time to kiss Younger Bro goodnight and play saxophone for a little bit. I've actually practiced the last four weekdays, which is a nice start. The only problem? I don't know what I'm playing for. There isn't an audition coming up, as far as I know. It's hard to practice a woodwind without a focusing agent. So, last night, I did some scales in 3rds, some overtones, some tuning, and lots of vibrato, then some chromatics, and called it a night.

I went upstairs and retrieved The Boy from Grandma & Mommy. She went off to practice bass while I put him to bed. He asked to watch "Classical Baby" one last time before bed; I have no problem with Classical Baby, two or three stories, then bed. The little stinker, halfway through, stuck his thumb in his mouth looked into my eyes, and passed out asleep. From marching on the bed to complete unconsciousness in less than 30 seconds. So, I finished a couple of chapters in my book (#nowreading "Contact" by Carl Sagan), picked him up, and put him to bed. No muss, no fuss, no nothing. I went downstairs, did some gold farming on Final Fantasy XIII (only one more mission to complete, but I need fully upgraded weapons and characters, which I can't afford right now), watched some baseball, talked with my wife, and went to bed. She joined me a little while later, and we were all asleep before midnight.

1AM: The Boy woke up. I changed his VERY wet diaper and put him back to sleep. 1:45: The Boy woke up again and required some extra nurturing. Long story short - didn't get back to sleep before 3:15. 3:45: Younger Bro woke up. 4:50: Younger Bro again. 6:00: EVERYONE woke up. Fortunately, my wife is a lot more patient and understanding than I am, and she got both boys to eventually get back to sleep. We all slept until 8 o'clock.

Praise to G-d for inventing coffee. That's all I'm sayin'.

On the good news front, I got a summer job yesterday: July 12 through August 6 (the most important day of the year; indeed, the most important day in history, being the anniversary of my birth) teaching Kindergarten through 4th grade music at a summer program. It's only $50 a day, but it's for 4 hours of work with a predetermined curriculum. Considering that they called me and offered me the job without an interview, I think that they were a little desperate to get a body in the classroom; wouldn't be surprised if it's idiot-type curriculum. Whatever. I just need to meet people so I can get work for next year.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Where the Wild Things Are (movie)

I showed "Where the Wild Things Are" during the last day or two of school, when all exams and such were completed and we were just kind of running out the clock. The students chose that movie nearly unanimously, and - just as unanimously - hated the movie within 15 minutes. We all know and love the beautiful children's work by Maurice Sendak, and this is not that.

"Where the Wild Things Are" is NOT a children's movie. This is not for children in any way, shape, or form. It is an exploration of the various parts of a child's ego, needs, desires, and immaturity, and children under the age of - say - 25 or 30 aren't going to get this movie very well. There's no definable plot or conflict except that of a child attempting to exert his will on the world and failing.

Instead, this is a slow-moving, introspective exploration of the immaturity of a child, set in a fantastical world of his own creation. There's no redemption here, there's no real growth, and there's no accomplishment or resolution in this story, because in real life, kids don't get resolution, or accomplishment, or redemption, with most experiences. I don't like to think that this is the way the world works, but this is the story presented by direction Jonze.

If you get this movie for your kids, you're going to be very, very disappointed. This isn't the charming, heartwarming feature that you'd hope from such a beautifully done piece of literature. Instead, this is a very adult exploration of what it's like to be a child. Max's behavior - and monster Carol's behavior - is infuriating, perplexing, and frustrating throughout most of the movie, and the behavior doesn't improve at the end. This is a good movie, but not necessarily one that I'd watch again. It's kind of disturbing, as I recognize myself in much of Max's behavior, even as an adult; and I'd hope that I'd outgrow it.

...which is, I suppose, the point. 7 out of 10 as an adult movie, 1 out of 10 as a children's movie.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Today was the big day: The Boy's first ever visit to a movie theater! He loved it, the whole thing, including the movie. Very mild plot spoilers here: basically, the stuff from the preview.

We arrived at 10:05, thinking that it was a 10:30 show. It wasn't; it was a 10:45 show. Sigh. We showed The Boy around the building, and he was entranced with the arcade machines. He ran from machine to machine, using the joysticks and pressing the buttons, climbing up inside the racing machines to turn the wheels and the gear shifts. We even played a little air hockey, which he seemed to sort-of remember from The Valerie Center. At 10:35, we went to the concessions and bought some popcorn and The Boy's choice of candy: Skittles.

We sat down in the theater just in time for the previews to start. He seemed to enjoy the previews, although - truth be told - he enjoyed the candy and popcorn more. Then, the movie started. He was very, very good through the movie. He alternated between his own seat, my lap, and Mommy's lap throughout the show, even choosing to spend some time standing up. He watched the whole thing, which is good, and seemed to enjoy the whole movie.

The movie itself was interesting. Set ten years in the future (because it IS 10 years after Toy Story 2 came out), Andy's getting ready to go to college, and the gang is reconciling itself to a life in the attic. There's only a few left: Woody, Buzz, Jesse, Bullseye, Hamm, Rex, Slinky Dog, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, and the three little aliens. The toys almost get thrown out before getting accidentally given to Sunnytime Day Care, where a dark secret awaits. Happy endings for everyone except the big bad guys await.

The movie was very dark at times in the middle, exploring topics of abandonment and the inevitability of growing up and being left behind. As a parent, I can see my sons growing before my eyes; even though college is still 16 years or so away, I can understand what it must be like to watch your baby leave your house and your protection. I know that it's only a matter of time before The Boy develops his own interests and friends outside of the family, and I know it's only a matter of time before The Boy chooses to spend the overwhelming majority of his time away from his parents.

The overall message that Woody sends to his friends is: "Our job is to be there for Andy, no matter how long we have to wait." That's a sophisticated message for young people to understand, because that's our job as parents. We're there for our kids on a 24/7 basis when they're young; as they grow older, that 100% of time descends to a much smaller number. That's our job as parents: be there for our children, with hugs and kisses and snuggles and discipline and books and such, until you've taught them enough to survive on their own, then wait for the next time they need you - if ever. If not, enjoy the view of their independent flight.

Tough message for The Boy to understand, no?

The other main message from the movie, that I hope he DOES understand: your friends, your family, is the most important thing. You can face anything at all, as long as you stick together and do your thing. It's important to fight for your family, even if you have fight your family - the conflict with Buzz Lightyear that ends up in the gang turning on his Spanish mode proves that. You never leave your friends behind, and you stick with them until the end, even if you have to sacrifice for that end.

I know how important that was. We had things reasonably well under control in The Boy's treatment until our families started to disintegrate. Then, quickly, things spiraled out of control and resulted in our hurried, emergency relocation out here in Pittsburgh. I know that it's more complex than that, and it likely would have happened anyway, but that's a big part of it. Because our families broke apart in conflict, we suffered mightily. The message of the movie stands tall in our lives.

I was also interested in how forgiving Woody was as a character. He tried his best to help and to save the big bad guy, and gave the big bad guy his chance at redemption. That's important, too; the message is, Woody never gives up on you, no matter what.

And, of course, never go adventuring without your hat.

The movie was definitely appropriate for the little folks as well as the big ones. I know that I cried a couple of times during the movie, as the underlying parental themes hit very close to home. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, also, and lots of silliness and lots of funny one-liners from the characters.

The opening sequence, also, was classic. Highly recommended, and a solid 7.5 out of ten.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Extraordinaire

My wife and I don't gift each other very much. It's not that we don't enjoy buying each other presents; we just try to do it on such a regular basis, that birthdays and anniversaries (which is coming up in a week... ugh) and such tend not to be big "gifting" times. On Father's Day, I don't expect a gift from her or the boys. A card would be nice, but isn't really necessary until the boys are old enough to make their own.

So, with that in mind, today was an ideal Father's Day. We all slept in - The Boy and I latest, until a little after 8:30. That's a nice start, considering the relative difficulty we had in getting the boys to bed last night. That's a story for later. We went to breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot, Ritter's Diner, and I had pancakes. French toast is better, but I had French toast last week. We came home, and I played some Final Fantasy while Younger Bro napped and The Boy played with his toys.



Then, the highlight of the day: going to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball! It was a lot of fun. VERY hot, so we moved back into the far depths of the upper deck to stay sane. Mommy brought yogurt, cereal bars, and waters for us; we did buy hot dogs and nachos at the park because, well, you have to.





I also bought a Pirates hat; it's not a conflict of interest to root for the Pirates because of two reasons: 1) they never play each other and are in opposite leagues, and 2) hating the Pirates is like kicking a puppy. They've already been down for 17 years and won't be better for a few more, so that's that.



Younger Bro didn't like the experience much. Grandpa & Mommy alternated taking him for walks. I sat with The Boy and explained a little bit of the game to him, and I also kept score. I love keeping score and have scorecards back to the early 80's! He enjoyed the game - particularly the nachos and cotton candy and peanuts. The Boy would be able to make it through a whole game at this point, particularly if given a wandering break every now and then; Younger Bro is still too little and too squirmy. It might be four or five years before he makes it through. We'll learn him, though.



We left after the sixth inning, with the Pirates still losing. They came back and won, after we got home. We got home around 4:15 and PASSED OUT until a little after 6:30. We had some dinner - I didn't eat, because I had already filled up on junk. Then, we went to Blue Slide Park, which reopened from construction on Thursday or Friday, for an hour before coming home and playing outside. The Boy climbed up the "rock wall" on the home swingset for the first time ever, which was awesome to see.



You see what I mean? A perfect Father's Day. Much better than any tie (which I already have nearly 100) or coffee mug (which I already have a couple dozen) or whatever the traditional Father's Day present is.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daddy do it!

A couple of quick hits while I sit with The Boy in a more-or-less vain hope that he falls asleep:

Younger Bro has a truly evil little cackle, mostly when he's smacking his older brother while he sleeps. I shouldn't enjoy that as much as I do, but a good evil laugh takes time. You can't neglect the laugh, you know? It's about standards.

He definitely gets it from me. Just ask former students.

The Boy does the cover-your-eyes thing with his hands when he's protesting something. It's really quite funny, but that's one of those parent moments where you can't laugh. What are you thinking, kid - "Oh, crap. Where'd The Boy go? I guess we have to stay at the pool now." I think not.

The nighttime stories chosen tonight: "Friday Night Fun," starring Lightning McQueen and Mater; "Meet the Super Hero Squad;" and the Mary Poppins story with Uncle Albert and the floating tea.



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Own Bed Training, take 4.

Last night, we re-re-re-re-embarked on the attempt to have The Boy sleep in his own bed. I'll still say that I'm of mixed minds about this. On one hand, I really, really like having baby snuggles at night, and I like having the ability to comfort him quickly and easily. On the other hand, over the past week, he's woken up at obscene hours in the morning and thrown fits over weird stuff: wanting to go to the playground at 2AM, wanting to watch Emperor's New Groove at 3AM, wanting noodles and sauce at 2:30AM, etc. Gripping hand says, it's probably time to get him out of our bed and into his own. Again.

The Wife handles most of the nitty-gritty of this, as I'm too soft AND not so great when it comes to the training thing. I probably should have stayed around to help her out, particularly when Younger Bro began to protest violently about having so much company in his room, but I didn't. Whoops. I'll get it next time. We watched a little bit of television (he's back into HBO's "Classical Baby" shows, for some reason), read two stories (last night, he wanted Dr. Seuss's "ABC" book on my iPhone), then Mum took him into Elmo bed (his own bed).

Good news: she did an amazing job of it, and he stayed in his own bed until around 4AM, when YB woke up for his morning milk. That's acceptable. She even didn't put the gate up in the doorway until midnight. What'd we do with all the spare time (NOT spent sitting in bed with him) and all the spare room? Look at our exciting lives for the answer: watched "Stargate Universe"'s season finale and went to sleep.

Better news: we ALL slept until 9AM this morning. That's because school is done. I have to think about what to write about it, but I'll say that I'm happy that my summer vacation is starting on a MUCH better foot than last year's hospital vacation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2am Meltdown

For sale: 2.8-yr old boy. Very handsome. Recently refurbished; new appliances, refinished midsection. Any reasonable offer will be discussed.


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Location:5th Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Entertaining

The Wife picked me up from work today, instead of letting me take the bus. It's nice when she does, because it's more relaxing to be in the car with her and the boys than on the public bus. One of the really funny bits? The Boy was asleep, and Younger Bro wasn't. YB started to grab at The Boy. When The Boy didn't respond, YB began to cackle evilly and whack him on the head.

It would go, whack! Cackle. Whack! Cackle. Whack! Cackle. Eventually, The Boy got fed up with it and leaned toward the other end of his car seat. Didn't distract his brother, who proceeded to whack his arm repeatedly. The Boy eventually woke up enough to holler at his brother and fall back asleep.

I'm noticing a certain air of deviousness in the little person. It's really quite entertaining. His older brother is stronger and more physically capable, so he's developing some cunning in order to keep up. Heck, YB even managed a nice takedown in the kitchen when The Boy tried to take his toy.

On a lighter note, we had a nice set of horsey rides tonight - first time in a week that my back let me do the horsey thing without screaming in pain. We even had both boys on my back, briefly; not the safest thing, as YB doesn't understand "hold on or fall down go boom." And, I showed The Boy some Bugs Bunny cartoons, which he really enjoyed.

Coming Attractions

It's going to be a busy couple of weeks, here at the Musical household. There's lots of stuff in the hopper right now, fortunately. Our transition to summer, as with everything else, will hit the ground running.

This weekend, aside from a singing job (in which I just discovered that I'm singing in a quartet), we're going to take The Boy to see Toy Story 3. It'll be his first-ever movie, so we're planning an 11 am matinee, with some explore-the-room time built in. Should be fun, if he doesn't sleep through it.

Sunday is father's day, and we're going to see the Pittsburgh Pirates. Surprising as it seems, tickets are still available for the ballgame. I don't expect to stay for 9 innings with The Boy, but it'll be fun anyway.

Next week, I'm going to take the boys to the toddler storytime at the JCC. Fun!

On the 27th, we're going to the Kennywood amusement park, as Grandpa's business has a family day.

We've also been given tickets to a local waterpark, to go along with the JCC family park. Lots of swimming for my little fishies, methinks.

Today & tomorrow left in school, then i'm done, folks. w00t!


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Location:5th Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Update

My father was in town for a quick visit this week, from Thursday afternoon until Friday afternoon. It was a nice, boring, uneventful visit: just some playing all night on Thursday, playing all morning on Friday, a trip to the zoo on Friday afternoon, then home to nap. Well, not really nap; too much traffic, and the boys slept in the car. Cie la vie. The boys loved visiting with Grandpa, particularly since they usually only see him on the computer. What I'm happy about: when The Boy first saw him, there was an unhesitating run-up-for-a-hug. It's important to me that they have a close relationship, you know?

Of course, things couldn't go completely smoothly. When I picked up one of the boys on Thursday afternoon, something TWISTed in my back, which knocked me flat for most of Friday night and all day Saturday. It's still really painful, but less so when I don't move, breathe, or laugh. It's not a lower back thing, it's a middle-upper back thing: kind of in between my left rhomboid and left lattisimus muscle. It's really, really, really painful right now, and it's actually better than it has been. Taking it easy today, again.

Other than that, we've had a recurrent theme on this blog: things have been nice and boring and NORMAL. I go to work, come home, and play until bedtime. After the boys are in bed, I actually get a chance to have conversations with my wife, or read a book, or watch some television, or play my Final Fantasy 13. I just crossed the 3 month date of playing the game, and the 60-hour mark. For the mathematically impaired, that's about 45 minutes a day - or what I used to spend watching television. 60 hours of entertainment - with about another 20 or 30 to go - for $100 ,with the special hard cover hint book? Not too bad. That's around $1.70 per hour of entertainment. Compare that to the movies, which is $15 a ticket for 2 hours. And, I've even managed to read a couple of real, actual BOOKS lately! Terry Goodkind's "The Law of Nines" and a random science fiction book I picked up in a used sale.

I think I'm going to try to restart some of the reviews I used to do, pre-diagnosis. We'll see. I need to rethink my blog usage, to start to transition towards something non-cancer-related.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Done!




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Location:Penn Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

He's In.

I walked him into the operating room and held him while they knocked him out. They'll access the port (for the last time, G-d willing) and put in a peripheral IV. The surgeon said the surgery would only be around 20 minutes. We'll see.


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Waiting room #2

Done with the initial exams, now in the playroom waiting for final nurse instructions. I'll go into the surgical room with him, to keep him (and me) a little calmer.



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Location:Penn Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Surgery Day!

Arrived at the hospital at 6:00, singing Dr. Horrible; checked in immediately and are preparing to wait until we're called. We are more anxious than The Boy, although this is different than Scanxiety. This is a bit of nervousness tinged with hope for the future.

Weird.



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Location:Penn Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Friday, June 4, 2010

Upon further consideration...

Once you start your day by being pooped on, you've pretty much gotten the worst case scenario out of the way. So, my day can really only get better, right?


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Location:9th St,Pittsburgh,United States

Late, late...

So, as we finished breakfast this morning, I smelled the smell of little boy poopies. It was 7:10, so I still had 5 minutes before I had to leave - enough time to change a diaper. Great. Checked his backside - yup, poop.

Picked him up without checking the front; mistake! He had power-pooped through the front top of his diaper, leaving me with a shirt full of poo. Argh and yuck!

So, long story short, stripped him of the diaper, wiped off his torso, arms, face, and midsection, threw him in the tub that The Wife drew (or he'd have smelled like it all day), changed into a new shirt and pants, and got on the bus 20 minutes later than expected.

And I just missed my stop. Damn.




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Location:Forbes Ave,Pittsburgh,United States

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Change of Plans & Surgery

My wife had a bad children day yesterday. Bottom line - she feels (and I agree) that The Boy was holding his potty urges until he wasn't receiving full attention, then pooping or peeing to regain that attention. It's frustrating, because we know that he's physically and mentally ready to be potty trained. He's just not emotionally ready for it.

That's a difficult thing to realize: that two or three weeks' worth of work isn't exactly going to carry through right at this moment. Going back on that means that The Wife and I need to retreat back through bold pronunciations of potty training-hood and restart the process later on. Our egos don't like having to show up with The Boy in diapers instead of the underpants that he wore last week.

I really admire that about my wife: while she is stubborn and persistent, she's also intelligent and mature enough to realize that she needs to reevaluate the situation and attempt something different. In this case, the "something different" is to take a few steps back, wait for a little while, then start the process all over again. I know that, for me, I have a tendency to push through things until they are accomplished, regardless of what bridges I have to burn along the way. While my methods get things done, I can really alienate people along the way.

Hopefully, I'll be able to adopt some of that trait from my wife. I think that, as a father, I'm pretty adaptable and flexible; I certainly try my best to listen to people and to try new things with my boys.

All is not lost in the potty arena; we have have to wait a little while longer, until The Boy is emotionally ready to commit to the potty. We can't push him and we can't force him. (Okay, that's not true. We could push him and we could force him. I know that we push and force other things on him. I just don't think you can do that often, without enacting a serious price and serious payback later in life. It's not worth it. I'd rather wait.) It might take another year; it might take another week; we just need to wait until he's ready.

The surgery for the port removal is next Tuesday. That's a pretty big deal; that's a major milestone in his remission-hood. The port is one of the biggest reasons why the oncologist is still his primary doctor; the chance of infection and corruption of the port is a big deal. Once the port's gone, and once the surgery is healed, then The Boy might actually get to know his "real" pediatrician.

Subject change: thanks to the miracle of this modern technology, baseball is alive again here in Pittsburgh. I shelled out $15 for the iPhone MLB At Bat application, and I shelled out another $20 for a year-long MLB.TV subscription; this lets me watch the Yankees games on my telephone or, as I'm doing now, on the Playstation 3. It's awesome. I can also listen to the radio broadcast over the 3G network, which is also awesome. I'm paying just as close attention to my team this summer as I was last summer - well, moreso, because the hospital didn't get the Yankees television network. I think I might have watched an inning or two, minimum, of pretty much every single baseball game this season.