Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thomas's Toyetic Tyranny OR A Marxist Critique of "Thomas & Friends"

The semester is over, the madness of finals has passed and I am enjoying the holiday season. My son is two and a half, and he is way more into Christmas this year than last. He can also reach way farther than he could a year ago. You will notice that after only having our tree up for a few days we had to move almost all the ornaments up and out of his reach.

It hasn't been hard to decide what to buy him for Christmas. The kid LOVES Thomas & Friends. For those of you who don't have a two year old, Thomas is a show about the adventures of the eponymous anthropomorphic steam train and his friends who live on a fictional island. My son would watch it all day if we let him.

This was all well and good until my wife and I went toy shopping, where it turns out that every episode of Thomas is essentially a 45 minute toy commercial. My wife has always marveled that there are 90 trains on one island with approximately seven people. It must be a very robust economy; the recession hasn't touched the Island of Sodor. But when we got to the toy store we realized that they frequently introduce new characters so that they can sell new toys, which are criminally overpriced.

Marketing dudes get their hooks in kids early on. There's a knock-off show called Chuggington and those toys sit right by the Thomas ones. They cost half what the Thomas trains cost but my son won't go near them. The Chuggington trains are admittedly a little creepy-looking, but I think the real explanation is brand loyalty. My son is already indoctrinated to love Thomas exclusively. Well done, Thomas marketing vultures. Enjoy spending our money.

Aside from existing solely to sell toys, Thomas also bothers me on a philosophical level. In the show all the trains are extremely subservient to Sir Topham Hatt, a fat white guy who owns the railroad. They become borderline suicidal when he is displeased, and they are only happy when he approves of their work. It has a very propaganda-y feel, like, "Hey kids, your purpose in life is to be laborers and work really hard to please your corporate overlords." For example: Watch an episode called "Day of the Diesels." The Diesels, who are like second class citizens, complain about their working conditions and even stage a little rebellion which is promptly put down. Union Busting playset available now for $99.99. I'm certainly not the first to wonder about Thomas, but maybe I'm reading into it too much.

At the end of the day, we bought him the Thomas toys. He loves them. What are you going to do?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Games my kid plays

"Come here!"

My son wouldn't go nap the other day. I could hear him in the room talking away, so I went in to check on him. He was sitting on one end of the crib, and on the other end he had lined up all his stuffed animals, as if he were giving a speech and they were his audience.

We can understand most of what he says but some of it is still undecipherable, and the speech he was giving was mostly gibberish. I wondered what he was saying, I imagined it was something like this:

Junior: "After the revolution is over and the parents are overthrown, our first act shall be to abolish all naps!"

Crowd of stuffed animals: "Hooray!"

Junior: "You'll never get thrown in the washing machine again! There will be no bedtimes, no broccoli! And most of all..."

The crowd quiets and waits.

Junior: "All the ice cream we want! Breakfast, lunch, dinner!"

The crowd goes crazy.

His favorite toys to have in the bath are his toy cars, and he's always crashing them off the edge of the tub into the water and I wonder what he is imagining. Probably something like this:
On a dark and rainy evening two men in trench coats stand on a riverbank as a wrecker pulls a mangled car from the turbulent waters. 

Sergeant: "What do we have here, detective?" 

Detective: "Well, sarge, as best we can tell a Camaro, a Corvette and the Batmobile all took this curve a little fast and ended up in the river."

Sergeant: "That's quite a coincidence, wouldn't you say?"

Detective: "I'm pretty sure all three drivers were unconscious before they went into the water. I bet when we get the toxicology reports we'll find that they were drugged. We need to find out why."

Sergeant: "You'd better be right or it's your badge."

And his most favorite game of all is “Everything is Opposite.” I’ve tried to figure out what he’s thinking on this one.

Me: “Come here!”

Junior: (to himself) “Ok, that’s the signal to RUN.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

No matter how many I dispatch with the axe, more keep coming

I'll fill you in on my first semester of grad school. It can be summed up in three words: SO. MUCH. READING.

If you want to know more about it, grad school also includes: listening to lectures and writing excruciatingly long papers, which is similar to my experience getting a masters degree. Oh and there are also research meetings. That being said, I quite enjoy it. Everyone I've met so far has been helpful and nice and the work I'm doing is interesting.

I want to say a quick word about international students: they make me feel bad about myself. The international students I know are doing awesome in the program and excelling and they're doing it all in their second, third or fourth language, meanwhile I'm struggling along in my first and only language.

I'm not super busy yet, but the amount of work is steadily building as the semester goes on, I can feel it. That's all I'll say because I don't want to be that guy who talks about how busy he is, because I've found that people who constantly talk about how busy they are aren't really as busy as they say and mostly just want other people to know how important they are.

I do feel a pretty steady stream of anxiety, which has caused me to have some kind of recurring symbolic stress dream. In it I am on a large farm in Bernalillo, NM (no idea why that location) and it is surrounded by zombies. I climb to the roof of the farmhouse to escape the zombies and spend what, in my dream, feels like hours and hours fighting off zombies as they try to climb up to devour me. No matter how many I dispatch with the axe, more keep coming, and then my alarm goes off and on that cheery note it's time to get the day started.

Lastly, all of a sudden the Sun has disappeared. Hopefully you all can see it from where you are, but we can't even remember what it looks like and sometimes doubt that it still exists. We have to rely on our memories, like, "Hey remember the Sun? Like how it was warm and bright and everything? Yeah, those were the good old days." We're New Mexico kids: used to lots of sun and not really equipped emotionally for so much darkness and rain, so the sudden solar departure has kind of thrown us into a funk. We bought a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp and some Vitamin D gummies, and on any given evening you can find all three of us huddled around the S.A.D. lamp eating gummies and trying to cope the best we can.

So that's my life. Reading and zombies and Vitamin D gummies. Who knows what the future may hold?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My mother-in-law drops in unexpectedly PLUS More "classic dad"

The other day I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I busied myself with some other household type tasks while the cookies were cooling on the counter. When I returned, most of the cookies were gone, and I found myself getting upset (I take cookies very seriously).

Of course the culprit was my son, who is growing faster than I realize and can apparently reach the counter now. He turned up a few minutes later, smiling and covered in chocolate, without the decency to even try and clean himself up. His Blood Chocolate level was off the charts. I was so annoyed I exclaimed, "I can't even eat my own cookies in my own house!" Classic Dad.

It's freaky enough to see me turn into my dad, but now my wife has started to turn into her mother. My son was getting into some mischief and before she could stop herself she blurts out, "How many times have I told you not to do that?" Classic mother-in-law.

It's weird to see my wife do and say things I've seen my mother-in-law say and do. In those moments it's like she has physically transformed into my mother-in-law. For instance, we were sitting on the couch the other night and she gave me a look that was exactly like my mother-in-law. It was as if my wife had disappeared and I was suddenly sitting alone on the couch with my mother-in-law. If you are saying, "That's sounds pretty unsettling," you are right.

A couple of minutes later my wife tried to cuddle up to me, and I hastily shooed her away. I couldn't cuddle with her, not with her looking exactly like my mother-in-law. 

Nothing against my mother-in-law, but you see how that would be weird.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Through the cross country move and what we found there

The view as we rolled into Ohio, including bugs.

We made it. Moving is the worst, amiright? And let me say that Oklahoma sucks, at least from my experience driving across it. They could scrape Oklahoma out and fill it in with kitty litter and I wouldn't even care.

There were some casualties on our journey. Malcolm Reynolds, my betta fish of three years, passed away during the trip. I didn't want him to be in the sun on the dash so I put him on the floor of the cab of the moving truck, which apparently gets pretty hot. It would've been different if he had just died, but it was kind of like I killed him and that kind of broke my heart.

The Midwest is different than the West, so we're adjusting, and when I say adjusting I mean holding on for dear life. Overall, we're happy to be here in Ohio. It is so green and pretty. Cleveland itself is a little crowded but we can drive for 15 minutes and literally find ourselves in the middle of the forest. I love it. However, I feel like I'm cheating on my home state, New Mexico, whom I love dearly. Maybe New Mexico and I can have an open relationship.

We miss our friends and family. We also miss New Mexico something awful: the landscape, culture, people. We tried watching Breaking Bad because it was filmed in Albuquerque, but it was a smidge violent for us. We switched to In Plain Sight, also filmed in Albuquerque. It's total rubbish and the acting is atrocious, but we watch it anyway because we like catching small glimpses of New Mexico. 

We like our apartment very much, only did I mention that it might be haunted? We contacted our current landlord during our initial apartment hunting phase and she said she didn't have any openings. A few weeks later she called us back and said an apartment had “unexpectedly” become available so we jumped on it. Now that we're here, we find out that the previous occupant was an elderly woman, so did our apartment “unexpectedly” came open because she died? I thought about asking the landlord or some of our neighbors about it, but we'd rather not know.

The one downside is our upstairs neighbor is getting a PhD in, like, trumpet studies or trumpetology or something. He has a sixth sense that tells him when I'm lying down for a nap and compels him to start practicing at top volume for hours on end. He practices songs that are about musical virtuosity, like he's trying to break the "Notes Per Second" record, which is not the best soundtrack for a relaxing Sunday afternoon nap. He's a great neighbor otherwise, so we can't complain.

So... that's what we've been doing.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

To go back to where I was would just be wrong, I'm pressing on

We’ve finally done it. We got into grad school and as you read this we are moving to Cleveland, Ohio. We are beyond excited.

We will certainly miss the Southwest. We’ve both grown up here and spent the bulk of our adult lives in the Land of Enchantment. We will take with us as much green chile as we can fit into our luggage. We will also miss our family and friends.

On the other hand, we’ve been here our whole lives, so we are excited to see new places.

We’ve packed everything into a Uhaul. Our trip will be 1,446 miles and will take over 22 hours, not counting toddler freakout time. Pretty scary. According to Google maps we have to make around 56 turns, so I know we’re gonna get lost. Several times. Also, on our route there are several "toll roads." What are those? How do they work?

We are excited about all the possibilities, but with our excitement also comes fear of the unknown. 

For instance, since we're from New Mexico - where it is sunny, warm and generally a hospitable place - we’re terrified of the winter in the Midwest. We may freeze and die. But nothing ventured, nothing frostbitten, am I right?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Manifesto Manifesto feat. Restaurants

This is what we'll be eating now.

Recently I’ve read a couple of manifestos posted online from people who proudly proclaim that they don’t want to have kids ever, and also an article about a restaurant banning kids. As a proud parent, it got me thinking...

To the No Kid manifesto people: I guess I don't understand why writing an internet manifesto is necessary. Maybe No Kid people feel like they have to write something to defend themselves because you have felt judged by the Pro Kid people, and that’s not right. There should be no judgment going either way. If someone doesn’t want to have kids, that is fine with me. I would never ask anyone if they plan on having children because A. it’s none of my business, and B. they might desperately want to have children but they can’t due to infertility or other issues, and way to bring it up, jerkface.

Something that bothered me in some of these online declarations were a few smug intimations that people who choose not to have children are somehow better or smarter than those who choose to have kids. I don't think that's true and I think we should all probably accept the fact that the Pro Kid people and the No Kid people have different ideas and expectations, and that’s OK. Some people want to have awesome careers and travel; other want to get covered in throw up and lose massive amounts of sleep. Some people think you can do both; others swear it’s one or the other. Either way: it’s fine.

Also, I imagine that No Kid people probably get sick of Pro Kid people always talking about their kids, and I acknowledge that we parents talk way too much. Sorry. Parenting takes up so much time – like, an insane amount of time – that your former hobbies and interests get pushed into the background. If I post too many pictures of my kid on Facebook, I’m sorry. I don’t mean anything by it. Just make it so I don’t show up in your news feed, that’s what I’ve done to any of my friends who post conservative gobbledegook.

To the restaurant people: I hear you, man. We’ve all seen nightmare kids at restaurants. However, there are lots of well-behaved children with parents who are trying their best, and they might want to come to your restaurant some day. Kids need to eat too.

It feels weird and a little discriminatory to me that some places are starting to ban children. If we’re banning people based on age, who else will be banned? “Old people are shaky and they spill everything, and they always forget what they ordered, so: BANNED.” (Hyperbole, obviously.)

Maybe these restaurants could do things on a case by case basis, like asking parents of unruly kids to get control of their kids or leave.

Or stop serving macaroni and cheese.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm Turning Into My Dad: Volume #1,000,000

I've spoken here at length about how I'm turning into my dad. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I keep accidentally saying more things that sound exactly like him and it still surprises me.

My son currently has a thing with water: he won’t drink it, but he loves to pour it on the floor. I always say things like, “Drink your water. You don’t want to get dehydrated and get sick,” which is a fantastic waste of breath because everyone knows you can’t reason with a two-year-old. Then he gets a look in his eye that we have learned to recognize as the “I’m-going-to-pour-this-water-straight-onto-the-floor-the-instant-you-look-away” look.

So of course I say something stupid like, “Don’t pour your water on the floor,” and of course he does it two seconds later and I put him in timeout. We do this several times a day. “Don't pour water,” pour water, timeout, repeat. It’s like a time warp nightmare where every day is the same and I have to repeat it until I change my ways or whatever. As a side note: People say Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. However, I find that this also describes much of what I do as a parent day-to-day. Does that mean parenting is, by nature, insane? And if you want to be a parent, you are insane? I digress.

One day in particular began like any other: I told him not to pour his water out. He looked right at me and then poured out every loathsome drop on the kitchen floor. Before I could stop it, I heard myself yelling, “What did I just say? What did I JUST SAY?” Classic dad.

What I’ve realized over time is this: The kid obviously heard me. I know because: A. He’s had all his checkups and his hearing is fine, and B. He was looking me right in the face as he did it. It’s not a matter of him hearing me. It’s a matter of him not giving a crap. Asking him if he heard me is about as pointless as trying to extinguish the sun with, well, a cup of water.

He then proceeded to immediately slip in the giant puddle he had made, fall face first onto the floor. Then he had the nerve - the audacity - to lie there in the puddle of his own making and cry and look at me as if this whole thing was my fault.

I wanted to say, “This wouldn’t have happened if you had just listened to me and drank the stupid water like I told you!”

But what would be the point?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I strongly dislike The Man with The Yellow Hat

I want to salute all those who raised children before television was invented. Those are the real parents.

I don’t know what parents did back then. No matter how good a parent you are, there eventually comes a time where you just need 30 minutes to get stuff done, and TV is the perfect solution.

When I set my son in front of the TV for a few minutes, he really likes to watch Curious George. If you don't know, the eponymous Curious George is a little monkey who lives with a guy who has no other name than “The Man with The Yellow Hat.” Curious George is similar to a young child in that he is always curious and it frequently gets him into trouble.

What irritates me about Curious George is this: The Man with The Yellow Hat is annoyingly patient. In every episode George innocently wreaks havoc and generally makes TMWTYH’s life a waking nightmare. However, at the end of each episode TMWTYH inevitably says something like, "It's ok George, I know you were just trying to help. It's ok that you flushed all your toys down the drain, flooded our apartment and our whole building, and the plumber had to come out three times. The plumber's bill and the bills for all the water damage in our apartment and throughout our building are going to cost me a fortune and I don't really seem to have a job, but I know you're just being curious."

He never yells. He never raises his voice. He never sends George to time out. He never even gets frustrated. The most reaction Curious George ever gets out of TMWTYH is a gentle sigh and it drives me insane. I dislike TMWTYH so much because I wish I could be like him and have infinite stores of patience. He is the ideal parent and I hate him for it.

TMWTYH also seems like he'd be a drag to be around at school functions or parties. All the other parents would be griping about their kids and he’d just be like, “You know, they’re just exploring their world and I think it’s wonderful blah blah blah.” That’s why TMWTYH spends his time exploring the jungle because no adult wants to be his friend. Nobody likes to be around somebody who is unflaggingly patient and optimistic.

They make you feel terrible.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cows and fireworks and the best Independence Day ever

Last year we moved from a relatively large city to a small town. The local economy is primarily agricultural, and almost everyone in our town is in the dairy business. We are surrounded on all sides by dairies, cows and cow manure. Cows outnumber people by a factor of 30 to 1. Whenever the wind kicks up, which is always, it stirs up a fragrant mixture of hot desert sand and cow manure and blows it across town. Then the wind changes and blows it back across town from the opposite direction. The amount of cow manure in the air is 999,999 ppm. You can smell our town from several miles away. I once heard someone liken living here to living on a “giant cow pie,” and I find that to be an accurate comparison.

What I’m getting at is this: The people here are either locals who have been here for generations and love it, or people who are here by unhappy circumstance. We are unfortunately the latter, but I have enjoyed watching the locals and the unique way they do things.  

For instance: the Fourth of July is two days away and the Locals are going nuts for fireworks. School is out and there’s nothing for the kids to do here. Fireworks stands have been open since, like, March and the local teens have just been using every spare cent to buy fireworks. And of course they can’t wait until the Fourth to light them off, so they’re lighting them off about as soon as they buy them. Nonstop. All through the night. Every night.

The other night I was driving to the store as fireballs of teen angst and boredom exploded above me. A truck passed me and backfired with a deafening bang. For a split second I thought that I had been shot. But I wasn't, it's just all these fireworks, plus everyone here has guns in gun racks in their trucks and concealed carry licenses. It's like we're living in a warzone.

Our town is nothing if not patriotic. And I just realized that all this complaining makes me sound really old, which, I guess I am.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Two years of adorableosity

My son just turned two and it was cute and heartbreaking.

Cute because he doesn’t quite understand birthdays yet, so there was none of the snotty entitlement that you sometimes see in older kids. He was just happy that people came to see him and gave him stuff. Each time he got a present or a piece of cake he was genuinely surprised and happy, like, “Free stuff? For me? And cake! This is all for me, you say? Thank you very much, but I don’t understand this at all.”

He obviously didn’t say any of that, but that is what his little face was saying every minute. He was also sharing and saying, “thank you,” all over the place like a little gentleman and it broke my heart. My wife and I know this innocent, good-natured baby sweetness is not going to last. We’ve known it all along and we're trying to remember all of it, but all of the adults at the party kept saying, “Cherish this time,” and it started to really weird me out.

Lots of people have said this to us, from total strangers on the street to family and friends. What does it even mean? That the people saying it are admitting to having been bad parents and are expressing regret in a really weird way? Or they really think we aren’t “cherishing” properly? There are also other questions such as: Why do they all use the word “cherish?” And why does that word make my skin crawl?

One lady cornered me in the produce aisle and said, “Cherish every minute.” Once I had escaped, I got to thinking, “Hold on now. Every minute?” I don't feel bad saying that there are a few things I wouldn’t mind forgetting, or at least letting time dull my memory a little. For example, the first six months where he wouldn’t sleep or gain weight and my wife was a stapled-together post-op patient and it was non-stop stress. I wouldn’t go back to that time for all the tea in China, all the clam chowder in New England, and all the omelets in Denver put together.

But overall, it has been awesome. Rest assured, random people: We’re enjoying ourselves, taking pictures, writing things down and generally “cherishing” the time the best we know how.

Has anyone ever said this to you? If so, do you have any theories on what they mean?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The first installment of what I expect will be several posts about the trials and tribulations of potty training

As a parent of a child in diapers, you have to periodically check to see if they need to be changed. For a #1, you just touch the front of your child's diaper to see how squishy it is, and for #2, you just give 'em a good sniff. It was while I was performing the latter test that disaster struck.

I was sniffing my son’s diaper at the exact moment he decided to let out a huge fart, so I inadvertently took a huge hit of it. I was essentially huffing toddler farts. As my son matures, so do his farts, and this one was particularly potent, like a 45-year-old dude on an all-bean diet. Next to giving birth, I think this is the most unpleasant experience a human being can have.

We had been wavering on when to potty-train him, but after this I was ready to start ASAP. According to everything we read on the internet, our son was ready. One of the things we read said to prep him for potty-training was to let him be in the bathroom with you while you go. I guess he’s supposed to learn by observation and say, “Ah! I see now!”

We’ve been trying this the past few days and I HATE IT. The fact of the matter is: I don’t like anyone in there with me. My wife and I know some couples who leave the door open when they are using the bathroom, and that's fine. However, my wife and I have tried to keep a “closed door” bathroom policy because, for us, it is an attempt to keep a tiny bit of the romantic spark alive. And the bathroom has kind of become my one spot for peace and quiet.

I'm not sure if it's working because he is not interested in observing bathroom procedure. He's more into emptying every cabinet, pulling everything off the counters and climbing into the dryer (our washer and dryer are in our bathroom). It’s impossible to go when you have to yell, “Don’t touch that!” every ten seconds. Sometimes I have to get off the toilet and chase after him, because what two year old really listens to an adult? So now I just hold it until he goes to sleep.

On the whole, potty training is going OK. Because he is thus far an only child, he seems to think he is a full-grown adult like his mom and me and wants to do everything that we do. Consequently, he prefers the “big” toilet to his little potty, and that’s great. We’re skipping a step. The only problem is two-year-old boys are anatomically designed to pee right between the gap between the toilet bowl rim and the toilet seat.

Still, it's way better than huffing toddler farts.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It would fill a small apartment OR Our poop adventures are just beginning

When I became a parent, I had no idea just how much poop it would entail. Like so many other things about being a parent, I was blindsided.

A lot, is how much poop parenting actually entails. If Science were to measure the volume of poop one baby excretes in the first two years of life, I think it would fill a small apartment.

I can handle poop in diapers, but the problem is that poop rarely occurs exclusively in diapers. For instance, I was bathing my son the other night. I was letting him splash and play with a small fleet of rubber ducks. Things were going fine until I noticed something that was not a rubber duck float ominously to the surface.

My first thought was, “Not again!” because he does this at least quarterly. I don’t know why, maybe it’s in his contract.

If you find yourself with a 22-month-old in a poop-filled tub, do not despair. Simply immerse your arm up to your elbow in poopwater, pull the plug and drain the tub. Next, scrape all the poop off of your child and out of the tub. Be sure to break it all up into small chunks with your hands so that it will go down the drain. Finally, figure out a way to clean your child and the tub simultaneously.

My son screamed bloody murder as I tried to clean around him, as if it the whole disaster were my idea. My wife, upon hearing my son’s and my distress, waited until everything was cleaned up and then called from the other room, “Hey, do you need any help in there?” I think she timed it like that so she could say she offered to help and have a clear conscience but not have to actually help. Genius.

Payback was swift in coming, though. In addition to quarterly tub poops, our son also is contracted to refuse to nap 1-2 days per week. My wife puts him to bed anyway, and he just sits there refusing to nap. On one fateful day my wife was summoned back to his bedroom by panicked toddler shrieks. When she opened his door, she found our son and his bed covered in poop. Apparently he had gotten bored and decided to strip down, pull his diaper off and smear poop everywhere. Then he decided this wasn't such a great idea and freaked out, which is where we began this poopy tale. I was unfortunately away at work and unable to help with cleanup.

We’re going to start potty-training next month, and I’m afraid our poop adventures are just beginning.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

We finally got a snow day! OR And then they laughed me to scorn

We don’t get President’s Day off where I work, so after Martin Luther King Jr. day, there are no holidays until Memorial Day. What can a state employee do then but look at the barren calendar and hope for a snow day?

As far as I can tell, “snow days” are not universal. When I was going to college in Idaho, where snow is a constant, they never shut anything down. There could be four feet of snow, cats freezing to death, and a nine-inch layer of super-slick ice covering every road, but school and work would still be business as usual. You were just supposed to harness up your dog sled and mush your way to class. One time there was news that a blizzard was moving in, and I naively asked some of my Idaho peers if they thought we’d get a snow day. First, I had to explain to them what a snow day was, and then they laughed me to scorn.

However, when it snows here in New Mexico, everything shuts down: schools, roads, places of employment. What kind of state cancels school and work for a few inches of snow? The best state in the whole union, of course! It makes me proud to be a New Mexican. In my office, all through the boring months of January through March, this is the prayer that is on everyone’s lips:

The State Employee’s Snow Day Prayer” 

Dear Non-denominational Entity Who Governs the Universe or Lack Thereof because the State of New Mexico does not give preference to any one based on religious beliefs or lack thereof,

Please let it snow long and hard, especially at the home of my supervisor who makes the decision on whether we close or not. Let it snow at their house most of all.  


It snows in New Mexico, but not very frequently. Weathermen/women are always leading us on. When we hear “20% chance of snow” our hopeful brains instantly translate it to: “SNOOOOOOOOOOOW DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.” And when the snow fails to materialize, everyone is irritable at work the next day because we all made plans and stayed up too late, certain we’d get a snow day. We get our hopes up every time, and we never learn. 

After several weeks, the state employees’ prayers were answered and we finally got a snow day! And it was on a Monday, too! My office was closed and I stayed home and played in the snow with my son, and it was glorious. We made a snowman, but we couldn’t find any good sticks so we ran back inside, grabbed a spatula and a slotted spoon, and used them for snowman arms. My son was delighted. We don’t own a sled, so I tied a jump rope to a laundry basket and pulled my son around in that. He had pulled one of the snowman’s arms off and he waved the slotted spoon and shouted for me to go faster. We had a blast.

It seems like no matter how boring or bad life is, every once in a while you're bound to catch a break. 

Do you have snow days where you live? Any good snow day memories?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Somehow it all turns to biscuit dough OR The effects of LIFE

I just renewed my driver's license and I don’t think I’ve ever had a more depressing experience.

First of all, the lovely people at the State of New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division insist on taking your picture. I asked if I could keep my old picture and they said they didn't do that anymore. Then they give you your old license back. I tried to make them keep the old one, but they wouldn't do it. Then they give you your new license so you can compare the two, which is where the depression comes in.

Curse you, Motor Vehicle Division! As if waiting in line for three hours wasn’t bad enough! As an additional service, here’s a picture of you when you were young and skinny, side by side with one of you four years later. Compare and enjoy! It's kind of like those “The Effects of Meth” things, only mine could be titled, “The effects of LIFE.”

I don’t like to think of myself as vain, but one of the worst things was my documented weight gain. For one, it has my weight printed on there, before and after, and that math is depressing. And then there are the pictures. In 2009 I was trim and svelte, but by 2013 it somehow all turns to biscuit dough. Plus, there are the visible signs of aging.

And it's not just weight gain and aging, it's also my eyes. In the 2009 license, my eyes sparkled with hope and promise, and in the 2013 one, my eyes are just... dead.

I know some of what caused my rapid physical and mental deterioration: In the time between licenses I graduated and started working for a living. Also, we had a baby and our bills quadrupled. I’m not knocking kids. I love mine. If the driver’s license could show my heart, you would see that it has grown three sizes. But man, having a kid takes a toll on you physically. The sleep loss alone is killer, not to mention all the other demands and stress. Sometimes it feels like my son is getting big and strong because he’s feeding off of my wife and I.

But enough pity-partying! I need to embrace the aging. One of the good things is: with age comes wisdom and freedom. Freedom from caring what other people think, and freedom to speak your mind. You’ve seen old people, they can’t stop speaking their minds. I know that one day I will be a cranky old senior citizen complaining about everything, and that thought makes me smile.

“Pull up your pants!” “Get a job!” “Get a haircut!” “Where’s my ointment?”

Just practicing.

Has anyone else had this same harrowing experience? Can you give me any tips on aging gracefully? As you can see, I need them.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Punched in the eye

My baby punched me in the eye the other day. Straight up punched me in the eye like a thug. My wife and I don't believe in spanking, but in that moment I was considering it... but I didn't.

What made me so mad was I know he punched me on purpose. He was mad at me and he looked me right in the face before he did it. He's been hitting a lot lately and my wife and I can't figure it out. We don't hit him. He's not around other kids that much, so I don't think he's picking it up elsewhere. I honestly think he's just coming up with it himself. Maybe it's evolutionary. If a sabertooth tiger was creeping up on you in cave man days, you had to smack that sucker or your caveman days were over. Perhaps hitting is an instinct that has served mankind well, but it's pretty annoying when it manifests itself in my previously adorable son.

For a split second I almost felt like I needed to defend myself. If someone just walked up to you in the street and punched you in the eye, you'd fight them back. It was instinct. But then the middle-class, liberal, I've-been-to-college part of my brain kicked in and I gave him a timeout instead. When I had cooled off and had a chance to think, I would've felt pretty hypocritical if I had tried to teach him not to hit by hitting him. On the other hand, “I'm going to give you such a long timeout!” doesn't sound nearly as fearsome as some of the other things parents threaten, but you can say it all day long in the supermarket and no one's going to call Child Protective Services on you.

Maybe he's a mean-spirited little baby, or possibly it comes out of frustration because he's a little slow at talking and gets frustrated because he can't express himself. We were reading about it and when babies get really frustrated they start biting, so in addition to hitting, we've got that to look forward to. Some people say you have to bite your kid back, but that is obviously stupid.

My wife and I feel like Dr. Frankenstein must have felt. We've created something, and he is quite possibly going to destroy us.

Does anyone know where he is learning the hitting stuff if he's not getting it from us? Please let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Germ-of-the-week Club OR A Very Fatty Christmas

December was the worst, am I right? First, our son got a new illness each week for the first three weeks of December. He's started playing with some kids his age once a week, and it's kind of like a germ-of-the-week club. The first week he had croup, which means he was coughing like a 108-year-old man who smokes a carton of unfiltered tar cigarettes a day. He almost had to go to the emergency room, but instead the doctor prescribed him a nebulizer, which is a kind of baby hookah.

The second week he had a stomach virus that made him puke every 15 minutes like clockwork. He slept in our bed so that we could ideally catch the puke in a bowl, but of course it didn't work that way and all three of us ended up covered in it.

Week 3 brought a super-cold and more than enough snot, and in Week 4 we tried to catch up on sleep and put everything in the washing machine.

Next, my computer broke, which was hard at first. I couldn't blog, I couldn't play Star Craft, I couldn't read about celebrities (I had to learn that Harry Styles and Taylor Swift broke up from someone at work). It was a good thing because I realized I have a problem with wasting time on my computer. I was astonished at all the things I got done in my computer's absence. I kept telling my wife, “This is great!” and listing off all the things I had done. She said, “You know you can just turn it off whenever you want, right?”

And lastly came all the disappointments of trying to be healthy in December, the fatty-est month of the year. After awhile I just gave up trying. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Exibit A - I went to a place called “The Rib Crib” and ate a sandwich called “The Pig Man.” Even my wife, who has promised before the Great State of New Mexico and a religious leader to love, honor and cherish me, looked at me like, “Seriously?”

Exhibit B - A mysterious person claiming to be our neighbor brought us a giant plate piled high with fudge, cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats and everything else that is right with the world. My wife said, “Don't eat them, they might be poisoned!” but I said, “I don't care! Don't they look delicious? Just call 911 if anything happens to me and they can pump my stomach. Google 'arsenic,' too.”

Exhibit C – On Christmas Eve I had an extremely vivid dream about eating a breakfast burrito. The egg to potato ratio was perfect, it had sausage, bacon and chorizo and it was smothered in just the right amount of green chile and cheddar cheese. My wife woke me up and said, “Hey, it's Christmas morning. Come participate in the magic of Christmas with your son.”

And I said, “You guys start without me. I want to keep dreaming about this burrito.”

Any ideas on how to stop using the computer/internet so much? Please leave a comment.