Friday, May 31, 2013

Fountain/Carousel Update #2

     Looks like the mall is prepping for the concrete pour. I'll also say that I'm not only standing by my estimate of the process taking twice as long as I was told but now I suspect it will take even longer. It took forever for them to get this far and they clearly have lots of other things they are trying to manage elsewhere in the mall. Like this...
     Part of new tenant Von Maur's stipulations when they came in was that the elevators be moved to the rear left side of the food court to clear up their frontage. Call me crazy but I consider this to be a terrible move aesthetically speaking. Remember that vertical space we talked about regarding the fountain? The last thing that was filling it up is about to be gone. Not to mention the glass faced elevators that used to provide a good overlook of the food court will be lost.
      To say that I am not a big fan of these renovations and updates would be an understatement. I was also surprised at the number of empty stores in the mall as well. I'm not an expert on the retail buying cycle but I would have thought stores would have been prepping for summer, not leaving. Just for the record, turning an empty store front into an advertisement for other stores is kind of silly too. I was worried when I heard the management company that killed Century Plaza had taken over the Galleria. Looks like my fears came with good reason. Hopefully this makeover isn't just polishing brass on the Titanic. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Animated Gif

Amazing, how such a small thing can make you so happy. Smart phones+the internet=awesome.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Damage

      This past weekend we took the girls to the library to get some books. Ru had been begging to go for a while and we decided the weekend while we were out running errands was the perfect opportunity. We rented some DVDs too so it was a win for everyone. They were each allowed to pick three books. Sailor chose two that were about pumpkins. Ru chose one about potty training. Their selection process was pretty fun to watch too. They were overwhelmed in the stacks.
      Tuesday night, the girls were enjoying the books before bed. olivia made the mistake of leaving them alone with one at just the wrong moment and they ripped the last page out and tore it into pieces. olivia explained to them how bad this was and that there would be consequences. Ru was very upset. When I came in to talk, she was in her bed sobbing. I explained that I was very disappointed in her but would always love her even when she did bad things. She was even more upset to learn that part of her punishment would be to take the book back to the library and apologize to the librarian and ask if she could still check out their books.
      I fixed the page the best I could using scotch tape. There were a couple pieces that were lost and only a small fraction of the page remaining to hold it in the book. We were prepared to pay the fines or replace the book if necessary.
      We pulled into the parking lot and Ru started to get upset all over again. She had her head down and was sadly carrying the bag of her books. I took them out of the bag and put them on the counter, opening the damaged book to the torn page. I scooped her up and turned her toward the librarian. I prompted Ru and she spoke: "Sailor and I tore a page out of the book and i'm very very sorry." The woman helping us seemed a little touched by Ruby's heartfelt delivery and shot me a quick look that confirmed it. She said that she needed to consult with the children's librarian.
      The girls sat and waited. I had been sure to tell them to be on their best behavior. The librarian returned to the bench where the girls sat and bent at the knee lowering to Ruby's level. "The librarian says it can be fixed and there won't be a fine. I appreciate you coming in and your apology." I prompted Ru again.
     "Can we still come back and get some of your books?" She assured us we could and Ru, Sailor and I all thanked her.
      I took Ruby outside, hugged her and told her how much I loved her and how proud I was of her. She was a bit drained and asked to be carried back to the car. I obliged, her in one arm and Sailor in the other.
It was a tough experience but as upset as I was at her initial action, I was very proud that she took responsibility for the action and the consequences. Our little girl was a big girl about it. Of all the things you wonder if you are doing wrong, it feels good to get verification that you must be doing some things right.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure

     olivia is usually the one who gets the girls down for bed and before sleep, she reads them a couple books. Lately, Ruby has been really stoked on my old Choose Your Own Adventure books. In case you do not remember these from when you were younger, they do not read straight through. Every few pages or so you are faced with a choice that will effect the outcome of the story.
     We have to read them to her aloud. The best part for me is when we get to the choices. It's pretty awesome to see the gears turning in her head and the internal weighing of options. We've always been pretty good about encouraging her independence and I think these are a great way for her to learn about decisions and consequences.
     I put her to bed the other night and read one to her and she was most sad when her choice resulted in a very brief story time. There is nothing keeping her from trying again another night. The great thing about these books is the added readability. The one above alone boasts 40 possible endings.
     Ru is very selective right now about which ones she does and does not want you to read to her. She goes by the covers which I think is a solid indicator. I'm sure these will see a lot of use in the future. We have a pretty good collection of them. I'm pretty sure they will keep the girls busy and engaged for a bit.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Wife

     I love my wife and just wanted to say it. We went on a date last week and drank coffee, did a crossword, ate Japanese, saw a movie, ate frozen yogurt and watched another movie when we got home. Well...truthfully, I watched it while she slept but I don't care. Sometimes just being in the room with her is enough. If you don't know my wife, you really should because she's killer. Literally, the best person I know and how I landed her is still a mystery.

Monday, May 13, 2013

10 Things Every New Parent Should Know

Some friends of ours who are expecting have been asking all their friends with kids to make this list for them. Here is our take.

1. You are not alone. Your family and friends are just a phone call away. Whether it is advice, a shoulder to cry on, something you need while you are in the hospital or in the time after, don't be afraid to ask for the help you need. This is especially true of your friends who have had newborns before. We are willing to help however we can, please don't be afraid to ask.

2. Your baby is not as breakable as you think it is. Your baby will hit things, fall off of and into stuff and there isn't any way you can prevent it from happening. The fist big hit and goose egg will scare the life out of you. Believe me, it isn't as bad as it looks. Ice that sucker down no matter how much the child protests and do whatever you can to soothe them. A good rule of thumb is convex boo-boos are usually ok, concave ones are what you should worry about and seek medical attention for. All that being said, do your best and make sure you childproof, anchor furniture, use outlet plugs, etc.

3. Happiest Baby on the Block. A good friend and new father turned me on to this and it literally saved our bacon when our children would lose it to the point of being inconsolable. A technique referred to as "The 5 S's" simulates the feeling of the womb and will calm the even the most upset babies. They can be done one at a time or all at once if it is really bad. Trust me, this really works.
      1. Swaddling-swaddle the baby tight, tighter than you think you need to (see item #2)
      2. Side position-helps aid digestion and feelings of support.
      3. Shushing or "Ssss" sound-the white noise sound, this is what the blood flow around the womb sounds like
      4. Sway/swing-duplicates the feeling of movement from being inside the womb
      5. Suckle-whether its a pacifier or your thumb, this triggers chemicals in the brain that have a calming effect

4. Every Mistake Has already been made. You'll try and put a diaper on backwards. You'll get up for a middle of the night feeding, letting the baby eat for five minutes before realizing in your half-awake state that you didn't put the formula in the bottle. You'll get a half hour away from the house and realize you left the diaper bag...or worse the baby. There isn't any mistake that hasn't been made before and usually, nobody is worse for the wear.

5. Alternate Nights. It took entirely too long for us to realize that if both of us got up with the baby at 2am we'd both feel like crap all the time. Alternate nights with the baby duty so at least you'll get a good night's sleep every other night. If you are a light sleeper, don't be afraid to sleep in a different room. This will make a huge difference in your ability to function and cope with the changes.

6. Three must haves: gas drops, teething tabs, children's Tylenol. Stockpile these three items. When you are at the store, if they are on the list, buy two. You will never be able to have too much of these. Good side note here. We first started using gas drops just as needed. Later the doctor told us just to put them in every bottle. They are safe to use this way so we did and it made a huge difference. Speaking of bottles...

7. Dr. Brown's bottles are worth the pain in the ass. They are a pain to put together, a pain to clean and a pain to store. All that being said, Dr. Brown has made a superior product and it is worth all the effort. You'll learn quickly about to to best load the dishwasher cage or how to pile everything up on the drying rack. It will be second nature but it still is a chore. It helped us to store the bottles as a unit so when we needed one we didn't have to grab around for all the little pieces. Taking it a step further, we would start each morning by preparing all the bottles we would need for the day with water and gas drops and preloading the formula in the hoppers. That way, feeding time was as simple as unscrewing a top, dumping the hopper, re-screwing the top and shaking the bottle.

8. Crazy, frustrating shit will happen...and it gets worse as the child gets older. Learning to deal with this and the stress the children cause you now will be an asset to you in the future. Yes, changing a diaper and getting peed on sucks but so does cleaning crayon off your beloved big screen and out of your surround sound speakers. Expecting the unexpected and being patient when it happens becomes such a big asset because out of the ordinary things happen so frequently. Children also start to mirror your behavior at a young age so the more chill you are, the more chill they will be. On a related note, don't try and rationalize what they did or how they think. Everything is new to them so they'll be trying everything. They'll also argue with you when you are clearly right. I tried for awhile, in vain, to talk my daughter our of her crazy position on things. My wife had to constantly remind me that my daughter is 3... and she's right.

9. Accept babysitting offers from people you trust. A baby is a new beginning but it isn't you or your spouses end. Whether you choose to go out on the town or take a nap somewhere else in the house, let people babysit for you. A baby is a lot of work and you need to be on the top of your game, mentally and physically. Getting away for a bit is very important in keeping your perspective. Getting some time to relax and blow off steam is healthy, especially in the beginning while you are struggling with the adjustment. Getting away now and again helps ease the transition. People will offer to do this for you, take them up on it.

10. Make sure she gets some alone time. Your wife has been carrying and worrying about the baby inside her for a long time. Over this stretch they have a bond that only a mother and her child can share. For some mothers, it can be very hard to let that go even for a moment. The reality is that the mother needs to maintain her identity as a woman and an individual not only for her own sake, but also for that of the baby. Spending time apart prepares both the mother and child for the normal routines of daily life. Mothers and children who never spend time apart can develop serious separation anxiety. Start early by letting her have some time alone to do whatever she wants with. A spa day would be a good push present and help her to relax after nine months of carrying the child.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Monster Spray

     When I was a kid, I had a bout with monster paranoia. My young mind raced vividly each night with visions of otherworldly creatures who were waiting to spring out once my parents left the room or the lights went off. At some point, my folks decided enough was enough and picked up a bottle from who knows where called "Monster Spray." I'm not sure what the liquid actually was but I remember it was red and had a sweet scent. I also remember the label had a drawing of a happy child, in bed under the covers with his eyes closed. I'm pretty sure the fact that I remember is so well is a testament to how effective it was.
     Ruby is having a bout now with the same paranoia. I overheard olivia trying to reassure her earlier this week and rushed to grab the spray bottle. I took it into Ruby's room and announced what it was, much to her and olivia's surprise. It just has water in it, no color or scent, but it got the job done. Ruby was able to get to sleep that night and every night since.
     The only downside it that everything in her room has to get a little misting before bedtime. I decided to label it yesterday in an effort to increase its placebo effects. Ruby asked why it had a skeleton on it. I told her it was strong stuff as it had to be strong enough to keep monsters away. Last night she was sure that I didn't spray anywhere near her and spent the duration of my spraying under the covers.
     I wonder how long it will take her to realize that since we are using monster spray that we have in some small way confirmed a bit of her paranoia. It is questions like this that you will wonder about as you get deeper and deeper into parenthood. It's crazy but it is also an immeasurable amount of fun.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Creepiest Baby on the Block

     Sailor is a great baby. I mean great. Sure...she gets into things she shouldn't now and then. Occasionally, despite her new age increase, she will still dump a plate of food on her own head ...and I'm cool with that. There is something that she does that honestly, I am a little bit afraid to talk about.
     Sometimes when I go to get her up in the morning or from a nap, the lack of noise coming from her room will make me think that she is still asleep. On repeated occasions, I've been startled to find her sitting right up in her bed or crib looking toward the door. In a dark room with a noise machine going...lets just say that a calm little wide awake baby staring at you...into you...through you...well folks, that's just the stuff that horror movies are made of.
     There have been a couple other times that I have found her sleeping only to walk up and have her open her eyes up and focus right on me as soon as I look down at her. I'm not easily scared but a couple times, the speed with which her lids launched open, well I won't say I jumped and screamed like a frightened child. I mean, it might have happened like that, but I'm sure not going to admit it.
     I think the next step will probably be me going in to get her and everything will be floating, suspended in the air. She'll notice me and it will all come crashing down. After that its prom queen, a bath in pig's blood and years and years of therapy. Just what we need, another thing to start saving for...

Friday, May 3, 2013

American Motor Drome Co.

Took the girls out today to see the American Motor Drome Co. Wall of Death Thrillshow.
Man, what an amazing thing to see...the girls were riveted by the motorcycles and the riding.
This is by far one of the coolest stunt shows I have ever seen. The riding these guys do on old bikes and go-carts has to be seen to be believed.
Sailor seems to have a little crush on wall rider Charlie Ransom. He asked her if she would like to ride the wall one day to which she gave an enthusiastic head nod. Big thanks to all the riders for putting on such a killer show and for keeping old school American entertainment alive.

Seriously, I can't stress this enough, get out to Big#1 in Homewood this weekend and see this show. You will not be sorry!