Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quick Hits

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day here in Pittsburgh: between 55-60 degrees and sunny. So, twice (once in the afternoon, once in the early evening) the boys went outside to ride their bikes up and down the block where we live. Some quick moments:

The Baby, waving both hands in the hair, laughing and squealing while he ran down the hill...

The Boy, resolutely playing "The Incredibles" by assigning other people parts from the movie, despite being soundly ignored...

Little Bear, pedalling quickly down the hill, shouting, "I'm doing it, Daddy! I'm doing it!"...

The Baby putting his feet on the pedals and trying to push them, a bit, on the tiniest tricycle in the world...

Little Bear, wanting to run up and down the hill when it was too dark to bike, just because it was fun and because I was running with him...

The Boy, pointing over the river to the houses, wondering if he could see his friend's house from here (no, we couldn't)...

Little Bear, wanting to race around the block to the neighbor's wall...

My wonderful, wonderful wife, who said, "The dishes can wait. Let's play."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Last night turned our normal conventions on their head: The Boy stayed in his own bed until it was wake-up time in the morning, and Little Bear climbed into bed with us around 1am or so. That hasn't happened often. In some ways, Little Bear is a better sleeping companion (less kicking, less pawing to get belly), but he also likes less physical contact than The Boy. So, he's better company but has less actual snuggles.

Yesterday was my first "new" not-as-late day, starting work at 9:30 instead of 8. That let me bring the older boys to school on my way to work. I liked it, particularly when The Boy's teacher told me how great he's been this year. "A real leader in the classroom," she said. Granted, I expect nothing less - that's what I've been like, everywhere I've gone (sorry for the ego, kind of), but it's nice to see it coming down into the next generation. The Wife says he's inherited my stubborn argumentative nature as well, which is less complementary. Hopefully, I can teach him to control it better than I can.

I had quartet rehearsal last night. The boys all went to sleep on the early side, so The Wife was able to come downstairs and give us some pointers. You know what I love about my quartet? The amount of time we spend rolling on the floor laughing. When The Wife came to coach a bit, she was laughing just as hard as we were, so I'm glad that other people can feel it, too. With luck, I'll be singing with these guys for years and years. Not only do I enjoy singing with them, I >like< them, too.

The Nintendo Wii has gotten a lot of use over the past week: moreso since the older boys figured out how to turn it on and navigate to the games they want to play. I'm kind of happy about that, because I like the concept of video games (like Wii Sports, which is all they're really playing right now) that require some physical movement in addition to video game hand-eye coordination. Eventually, I know they'll graduate to the Mario Kart and Smash Brothers games, which should be a lot of fun as well. The struggle with this, as every parent knows, is to figure out how much video game time is good for the kids and how much leads to overstimulation and a complete lack of physical activity.

We've always thought The Baby looks an awful lot like The Boy, and he does. This morning, with his haircut and the particular direction of light in the bedroom, he looked an awful lot like Little Bear. That's the first time that I've actually noticed that resemblence. I mean, I know they all look similarly, to an extent - they're brothers, after all.

A couple of days ago, The Baby had used the potty right after he woke up. Afterwards, we figured that it was reasonably safe to let him run around naked and air out his junk for a little while. He found a stink bug crawling along the floor and stopped to look at it. Funny part? After about ten seconds, he peed on the stink bug. I'm fairly sure it was unintentional, but it was pretty funny.

My father's coming to town this weekend. This is the first time he's been here since... ummm... November, maybe? I think the Metro show. The older boys and I saw him in December, but he was away most of the month of January. We're all excited to see him, but - truth be told - I don't really have anything planned for the weekend. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The only item definitely on the agenda is the older boys' swim class on Sunday afternoon. We might go real-life bowling, and I hope to have breakfast with TWO GRANDPAS!!!! on Sunday morning. There will likely be playground or sledding time, depending on which is appropriate.

The Boy is really into the movie "The Incredibles" right now. I'm okay with that. The Incredibles, which is loosely similar to / based around the Fantastic Four (my favorite comic book ever), is a great movie that shows how families can stick together to conquer any kind of problem. That's also the core concept behind The Fantastic Four: family and adventure, in that order.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Injury Report

Pittsburgh (AP): Right handed starting pitcher Grandma has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with what is being called a fractured shoulder in her non-pitching arm. The team physician notes that it's a "clean break," and she should resume baseball activities from 15-20 days from Monday.The Pirates have called up AAA left-hander Jeff Locke to take her starts in the rotation in the meanwhile.

Grandma slipped on the ice coming out of Grady's house and broke her shoulder. She heard the snap of the bone, so she got in the car to drive home. Her doctor lives further down her street; so, upon reaching her house, she decided to drive down to the doctor's office. "Nobody is going to tell me that I didn't consult my primary care physician before going to the emergency room." She was then taken by Ford Taurus to the local hospital, where x-rays were performed.

Grandma is expected to make a full recovery, and the doctors guess that she'll be throwing off a mound again by March 1.


In all seriousness, she's okay. Well, not okay - she's got a broken shoulder - but it's being cared for. She is, in the old school parlance, a "Tough Broad," as evidenced by driving herself to the doctor's office. Don't forget: this is the same lady that drove herself back and forth to her chemotherapy appointments. This is the same general mental toughness that allowed The Boy to sit quietly and not react (by screaming) when his port was accessed or when a blood sample is given (unlike his father, who screams like a toddler).

It'll make things difficult for a while - I don't think I can undersell exactly how much Grandma does for us! Particularly since The Wife is subbing four times in the next few weeks... when you're short one wing, it's hard to chase after three healthy, active little boys. It's difficult to explain to a toddler why Grandma can't give snuggles, either. Fortunately, she's expected to make a full recovery and not need much in terms of therapy and rehabilitation, although there will doubtless be some PT (particularly if the health insurance covers it).

So, send a few prayers Grandma's way for a quick recovery. The Wife has already made some pasta and meatballs and some Jewish pencillin for her - some to eat now, some frozen so Grandpa & Grandma don't have to worry about food for a few days.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Run 'em 'til they drop

Friday night, we had Tot Shabbat at Rodef Shalom, and that's always an awful lot of fun. They had brinner (breakfast for dinner), and then I got to be Mordechai in a the Purim story. I wore an outrageously fake white beard and a cool hat. The kids were alternating between amused and concerned about the beard thing.

Yes, that is a picture of The Boy trying to write his name on his name tag after he already put it on.

Saturday, I worked. The Wife let me exercise before work (I'm thinking about resuming exercising in the morning, which means getting up at 5:15 or so on workout days - not sure if that's going to happen, but I think it'll be better than doing it at 10pm), which is always really, really nice. After work, I found The Wife sleeping under a pile of little boys; never missing an opportunity, I slid into bed and caught an hour's nap.

After the nap (they had napped almost four hours!!), we had a discussion about what we could do. I wasn't sure what we COULD do - we're broke, it was snowing (not enough to go sledding), and there isn't much we can do indoors with little kids, outside of the house. So, we stayed in. She cooked corned beef sandwiches on the Foreman grill (kind of like a panini), we played Wii bowling (and The Boy continued his streak and whalloped me by 40 pins), watched a show, and cleaned the house.

The Baby and Little Bear helped The Wife fold laundry and sort it into piles, and The Boy threw a massive fit. I took him upstairs and put him in his room (after removing the Trio blocks) until he calmed down and got ready to help me. I was almost done, but he and I used a Clorox wipe and cleaned the tub. I showed him how to spread the wipe out with his hand for maximum surface area and made sure he didn't do anything like try to wipe his nose with the wipe, but he did the work.

Sunday morning, The Wife had normal Sunday school and a "Lunch 'n Learn" at work, so I'd have the boys by myself (basically) until 2:30 or so. Grandpa graciously took us out to breakfast, and we watched a few episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold after we got back. We went to the JCC for the Open Gym time, which is always a lot of fun. Little Bear decided that he wanted to wear the Superman costume all day, so he wore it to the gym. It was really, really cute watching him run around, playing, in his Superman outfit, and people responded very positively to that.

After the open gym, we went up to the playroom to have lunch and kill some time, then we brought the older boys downstairs to change for their swimming class. I'm still not sure if I'm sold on the swimming class, but I'm honestly not sure how much different the class is from their lessons. I taught an awful lot of swimming lessons, but I did the kids that were a little more advanced than the boys are. I don't remember teaching that particular age/skill group very often. The Boy has a tough time staying by the wall and not screwing around, which is shocking only if you've never met me or my wife. I stayed out of the teachers' discipline zone, mostly because I didn't want to hover.

The Baby had gamely attempted to keep up with his older brothers all morning. He was getting progressively grouchier as the morning and early afternoon wore on, and he sat in my lap and groused until he got my iPhone. Because he was snuggly and tired, he and I were able to sit in the chairs by poolside and observe - this made Little Bear quite happy, because he was feeling a little tired and insecure as well. The Baby fell asleep about ten minutes into the class and stayed asleep until he woke up while the boys were getting dressed - a total of about thirty minutes.

The rest of the afternoon passed napless, which showed later on while we were at Grandma's house for the big game. I chased after the kids while The Wife was working on her lesson plans, and then she chased after them while I was doing some chorus work. About ten minutes after I finished my chorus work, The Boy came up to me and said, "Daddy, I'm really, really tired. Will you please take me home so I can go to sleep in my own bed?" So, I got to watch about ten plays in the entire game. Good thing I don't really like football. He and I went home about a half hour earlier than The Wife and the other boys, and I gave him his own bath and stories. The Wife put the other two bed fairly quickly. I sat with her for a few minutes while she did some recordings, then I went to bed around 10:30 or so.

This was a fairly typical weekend: a lot of running around, a lot of things to do, yet a relatively slow pace with room for relaxation. I'm happy about that.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fatherhood and Video Games

A couple of weeks ago, we finally brought over the Wii and an old television set (the tv that my parents gave me to take to Michigan back in 1999, as a quasi-graduation present). The boys have become quite excited by playing the games, and Wii Bowling has become a definite favorite. They play reasonably often, and The Boy, in particular, is just about old enough to turn everything on and navigate to the correct area.

On Wednesday night, The Wife went up to a nearby school district (where she's hoping to land a job this offseason) to help out with an elementary school orchestra concert. The boys and I hung out after work, and they requested to play Wii. No problem.

I've always been really, really good at video games. I pick things up really quickly, and I have a certain amount of hand-eye coordination. I haven't played an awful lot over the last few years, mostly because staying stationary playing console games while the children are mobile is simply not an option. But, there is a certain amount of ability there.

The Boy, meanwhile, trashed me in two consecutive games of Wii Bowling. He set his two highest scores ever - 184 and 185. The first game, he beat me by 11 pins. The second game, by two pins.

My ego's been having a difficult time taking this. Getting walloped by a five-year-old is a little dicey to take. On one hand, I'm kind of proud that my son seems to be taking after me and has some prowess with video games. On the other hand, there is NO WAY I should be beaten soundly by my preschool son.

I know, I know... he's played it more (this was my fourth-ish game of Wii bowling, like, ever), he's played it more recently, etc. That's bunk. This is the same kid that, two weeks ago, didn't know if the bowling ball was going towards the pins or going behind him. To make matters worse (or, actually, better), he bowled the second game in a Batman mask and cape.

I also realize that, relatively soon, I will be fourth-best in the house at video games. It's a young person's thing. I just didn't think it would be this soon.

Little Bear did well - around a 120 in the first game, a 100 in the second game (he lost focus in the middle of that one and was done quickly).

Excuse me. I'm going to go home tonight and practice Wii Bowling.