Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cool Blog of the Week! -- (Number Three)

It has been a fairly hectic last few days here on the farm. It is time to get the next flock of chickens, so I have been rushing to get things done. Of course the night before the final shipment I get an equipment failure. One of my motors that pulls the food from the feed bins outside the house into the smaller bins in the house gave out on me. I am having people come in to try to resolve that issue this morning. Hopefully they can get it going in time for me to have food ready for the baby chicks. 

Anyway, on the Cool Blog of the WeeK!

This weeks winner is: Diary of a writer - The life of Casey Emerson:

Why read it?: I came across this blog on BlogCatalog, which is a site designed for bloggers to see each others sites. I clicked on this site since it sounded interesting to me. It is written by Casey Emerson who shares her day to day life as a writer. I was curious as to what an actual writer thinks about and does when not actually writing. I enjoyed the first few posts I read, and added the site to the list of sites I follow. She is a very interesting person, and her writing on her blog is fun to read. Her latest post about her ex-boyfriend stealing her football cards pulled at me, and had me feeling mad at that loser ex, and wanting her to win. I wanted her to get those cards back even though it appears not likely to happen. (Sorry Casey. At least your not still dating that putz.)

If you are looking for a blog to read that is well written, and fun to follow along with, then take a tour of Casey's site and hopefully you will become as much of a fan of her writing as I am.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

You did what?

So I thought it would be nice to write something lighter today, since yesterday was a bit deeper. Here is a quick, SHORT story about T. 

Yesterday T, who is doing well with potty training, came running out of the bathroom towards L and I in the living room. "Daddy, I didn't go pee in the garbage can." he said. 

If that isn't an admission of guilt, I am not sure what is. Concerned, I get up and head over towards the bathroom. As I start walking T grabs me around the waist and starts trying to stop me. "No, don't go in there." he was screaming repeatedly. When I get to the bathroom, dragging a T behind me, I see the floor around the small garbage can is wet. I pull off the lid with the swinging door on top and look inside. Luckily the can was just emptied the day before because now it had been used as a toilet. 

There was a time-out involved, and a discussion. Hopefully the problem is resolved and will not happen again. 

I just think it is funny that he sometimes tells us what he did wrong by telling us he didn't do it. Especially when no one even asked him anything or accused him of anything.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Election



I was hoping to avoid this topic. Seriously, it always gets messy. Unfortunately, I have such a strong feeling about it and so much frustration that I want to get it off my chest. I am not sure which is more unsettling to read, this post or the creepy crawlies in my last post. So, as a warning, if you have a low tolerance for logic and reason, you may want to read this one with your eyes closed. 

First, after careful introspection I do not consider myself a democrat or a republican. I have always tried to categorize myself into one of these boxes, but each election I found my views changing back and forth. I found what I really feel comfortable with is to look at the candidates and then evaluate them as potential leaders. Do they look presidential? Do they have a past that may not be perfect, but shows a strong character of caring about people, and their country? Do they have charisma that can win over a hostile audience, and bring a calm voice of reason to tense situations? I don't want someone who seems so set in his ways and so filled with pride that he is not capable of taking a small step backwards in order to make great strides forward later. I am just a person who wants a qualified leader who can lead in tough times.

Now, I watched the primaries, and in my opinion the best candidates seemed to have reached the top of their respective race. However, at this point I think the choice is pretty one sided. Barack Obama is clearly the better candidate. I am dismayed at the fact that the polls are so close. 

It is not that I am all about being a democrat and would vote for anyone who ran as a Dem. Look, I actually voted for Ronald Reagan and I am glad I did. He was a strong leader and what I thought we needed at the time. I believed his trickle down theory of economics would work. It didn't, but it sounded like it was what we needed, and he was willing to try it because he thought it was best for the country. The thing is, it was tried, and we found it did not work. We need to learn from these things. Pumping money into the economy at the top does not work. Greedy people run big businesses and all the money we pumped into the corporations went to golden parachutes and bonuses to CEOs instead of passing it down to workers who could actually use it. For those not getting it, those workers are us. We have much more of a need for a raise in our salaries than the CEOs do. I mean, if you can't live well on the first $10 million will the additional 300 million dollar bonus really improve your happiness? Especially when that money came from tax breaks and incentives that were set in place so that the profits could be used to improve the lives of the workers who made it all possible. Anyway, I digress. 

I feel the way I do about Obama because I watch the news. I used to be a supporter of John McCain at one point. I was a soldier, I was in a war. I feel for him, and I know he is strong on veterans rights and cares about how we are treated. I respect his valor and sacrifice for the country, but being the most well known veteran/ former POW isn't what makes a president. It was a good start though, but he lost me along the way. Being a president is about character. John's whole campaign seems to be to take a fact, and then alter it to the point it is no longer true, and then state it as the truth even when all facts are presented against it. That is part of the frustration I talked about earlier. I am frustrated first that someone who seemed to be a good person has such deep flaws in character that he chooses to stoop that low consistently, and secondly, that this tactic works because so many people are uninformed and refuse to check facts themselves, or even listen to the facts when they are shown to them. Possibly, people hear the facts and know McCain lied, but have decided that is how politics are and it is OK. EIther way it all starts with McCain's inability to maintain his honor and dignity in a difficult fight. How do you think the rest of the world sees him now? As another politician who would say or do anything to try and win. That is probably why in a BBC poll of people around the world "...on average 49% preferred Mr Obama to 12% in favour of Mr McCain." And McCain says he wants to change our ugly image around the world, he is a part of that ugly image. 

OK this is going to run long. Stick with me a little longer. McCain chose Palin as his running mate. No one doubts that the reason for this choice was to steal away the women voters that wanted Hillary to win the Democratic Primary. I understand that these voters were up for grabs and I don't have a problem with him trying to choose a woman to be his VP in order to grab them. It is just that he put such little thought into the choice that it annoys me as a voter. I am sure Sarah is a great person, and a good mother. She is just not VP material. Definitely not presidentail material. How many other women could better fill this slot? Let me give you an example: Condaleeza Rice. Can you think of a better candidate than her? She has what I would want in a leader. Look at her, she has been involved in every major international crisis. Not by stopping by and saying he was there. Not by taking the one day quick press tour that makes you look presidential when in fact you learned nothing and did nothing of consequence. Condoleeza is intelligent, well-spoken, and would not need to be protected from the press. People know her views, and know that she has the ability to go into a hot spot and when she leaves there is at least a temporary truce in place to give people time to think more clearly. She is someone who could stand on her own merit and not be just a token woman who fills the spot but shouldn't speak unless it is specifically her talking points given to her by the campaign leaders. Now that is what we needed, not a Palin. Sorry John, bad choice. I am hoping Condoleezza was not overlooked because of her race. I didn't see many people of color at the republican convention. 

Obama is not perfect. He has flaws too. The point is his flaws don't seem as great of character flaws. Rev. Wright incident? Some people would choose to vote against Obama because of Rev. Wrights views. I don't think Obama could be an anti white racist when half his family is white. ALso, wouldn't there be something in his past to indicate he held these types of views? Clearly, at least to me he is the person who most likely could bring a real dialogue about racism to the forefront. A white leader can't do that effectively, and a black leader can't do that effectively either. Neither could speak from a neutral ground they would both have a tainted perspective. 

Also, when it comes to character, I see all the fact checking that is done about the campaigns rhetoric. I can not recall once when the news checked facts about Obama and found them to be out right lies. ON the other hand, it seems every day I see McCain or Palin's facts checked and the conclusion is that they are deceptive and untrue. I understand that in American politics this may be normal, but I hold my vote for the person who can show me some I can trust his facts. I have seen what happens when we are lied to as a nation by our president. It now costs us 10 billion dollars a month. Did that have any impact on why we have a weak dollar? Or why our financial system is in crisis and we have a huge deficit? Hmmmmm  I think this election I will go with the persn I can trust to deal with the world diplomatically, and not make up facts to get us into things we should not be involved in. I would love to hear your views for or agaist mine in the comments. I'll keep my mind open to new ideas if you will.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spiders, Beetles, Wasps and Ants Oh My!

If you have an aversion to bugs and spiders I'd recommend skipping today's graphic post. No, seriously. It is gross, but who else can I talk to about it? I'll get it out of the way once, and hopefully not mention it again, unless I get bitten by something more interesting. 

A chicken farm, because of its size, can be a host to a lot more creatures than just chickens. It is home to a plethera of insects, ants, arachnids and other creepy crawlies. Over the last two weeks I have had an oddly increase interaction with these pests. 

First there was the fire ant bite on my arm. I had to carry some old feed trays to the dumpster and since they tend to have left over chicken food on them when we pick them up ants found them and moved in. We stack up these paper trays after the first week or so of the flock, and when the dumpster is filled, we have to store the rest at the front end of the houses. They are like little sky scrappers for ants. I didn't notice the ants had moved in, and as I was carrying the stacks of trays to the truck from the chicken house an ant decided he didn't like the idea of moving. I mean, can you blame him. He had probably lived near this chicken house his whole short life and now some giant guy comes along and decides to move his food source away while he was in it. I would totally be upset if that happened to me. Alas, even though I can relate to his plight, he stung me, it caused great pain, and, well, he will be missed. 

The next day that I worked I went about the job of trying to beat back the beetle population. Litter beetles multiply at a quick pace in a chicken house. Farmers do what they can to kill them with pesticides, but there is no way to kill them all in houses that are so large. We use powders, and liquid sprays, but beetles are resilient and hide well in the wooden walls, behind the curtains, outside the houses, up in the roof, and by digging down into the dirt below the litter. The first few days I can see lots of dead beetles piling up in certain locations, like the front doors to the houses. At night the beetles come out looking for food and that is when they eat the pine shavings on the floorwhich have been treated. Millions of them die in the first few days, but there are still many that don't. 

[caption id="attachment_84" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Feed and water lines still raised up"]Feed and water lines still raised up[/caption]

A few days later when I was working in the houses, doing my usual set up, I could still see them crawling around on the floors, cielings, wires and food bowls. It is not as bad, but it is still enough to notice them. And while I am working I am standing still on that infested floor, sometimes I am kneeling on it. Beetles take this opportunity to come and explore my boots, and my legs. That explains the three bites around my ankles I believe.  Also, as I am dropping down the controls and sensors that get wrapped around the food bowls prior to the catch crews coming in to take out the chickens, beetles fall out of the food bowls and land on my head and face as I do this. Of course they don't want to be in the open like that so they look for places to hide. Typically that would be under my shirt, or under my hat. I assume that is where the bite on the back of my head and the one on my chest came from. 

[caption id="attachment_85" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Looking at the side of house from the front"]Looking at the side of house from the front[/caption]

This week I also started the process of mowing the grass. It takes several days for me to cut it all. The worst part is mowing near the houses. That one pass that goes right along the side of the house, where you are high up on the tractor with your head right there by the overhangs is trecherous. This is where the wasps live. Some are in nests that hang down, and others have thought it out a little better and built their nests inside the house through the cracks in the overhangs. I carry a can of wasp and hornet spray with me as I mow. So far I have been able to see the nests, and the lines of wasps trying to get into the house before it was too late. I usually finish mowing the area, and then go back and spray. In three years here I have only been stung twice. Could have been worse. 

The last creepy crawlie I want to mention is the spiders. Lots and lots of spiders live here. The biggest spider I have to deal with is the black and yellow garden spider. They are about four inches long and make huge webs, but luckily they stay on the outside walls, and not inside the houses. The good thing about these is that they make these huge webs, and then stick their giant bodies right in the center of it. That makes them easy to see, and easy to avoid. I also have seen several black widow spiders in my control rooms. Since I saw the first one, I always move things carefully in there now to make sure I don't reach under a bucket only to have my finger bitten. So far no bites from any of these. The control rooms have lots of brown spiders that make webs everywhere. Not the brown recluse, just some random brown spider. These have just gotten so out of control that if you walk into the control rooms at night you can just watch hundreds of baby spiders dropping down from the ceiling. What can I do, I have to go in. I get baby spiders all over me as I go about my business. Luckily, the bites from them are not too bad. The webs all over my face and hair is what annoys me most about these spiders. Finally, inside the houses my biggest spider problem is the webs. They hang everywhere and no matter how many times I knock them down they build them right back up again. They go from wire to wire, and from roof to floor in places. It is an arachniphobes nightmare in there. 

OK, those who closed their eyes during this blog post can now open their eyes and start reading again. Thanks for allowing me to rant about insects. If you need something to read to clear your mind of that you could read the story about Mornings with T. It always makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ground Control to Major Dad

"Houston, this is Space Rover One, over."

"Space Rover One, we read you loud and clear."

"Houston, we are prepared for take off."

       "I want to drive, let me get the steering wheel."

"OK, Get the steering wheel, I will hold the door open."

I lift up the blanket so T can get out from beneath it. It is a baby blanket, which is way too short to use as a space ship, but it was the closest thing I could grab. T climbs down from the sofa and his feet hit the floor running. He quickly finds the steering wheel from a video game and runs back to take command of our improvised vessel. 

     "OK, I'm going to fly the space ship."

"That's right, you fly it. I'll tell you where to turn."

     "OK,  You tell me that, Daddy."

And with that, we were off for a fifteen minute flight which took us past the moon, and several planets, and then back again to Earth. It was something he asked me to do in the morning before I went off to work, but I didn't have time then. I promised him that I would play space ship with him when I got home, and he held me to it, reminding me of it the first second my bottom hit the sofa cushion to relax. T has a remarkable memory for things like that.  He is also good at remembering where things are. It is so amazing for me to see how well he remembers things. I have such a poor memory already, and I am only in my 40's. For me to remember where my keys to the farm truck are is a good thing, and I put them in the same place every day. 

Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but T plays with Play-Doh a lot. He has the cups of the stuff all over the house. The Play-Doh table on the other hand he hasn't used for at least a month. L pulled it out for him to play with, and once he saw it he told her there was a can of white Play-Doh in there he wanted to have. Seriously, I look around the living room here and I can see at least five different colors of Play-Doh cups that he plays with, and after at least a month he remembers there is a white can in the table? How do kids remember so well and me so badly? 

Anyway, to get off the tangent and back onto a main road, I'd like to recommend space ship piloting to anyone who gets the chance. I put this three foot by three foot baby blanket over our heads for the roof of a space ship, and he had a blast. We were all squished up next to each other under this blanket, and he is turning the steering wheel as I navigated us past the planets, asteroids and the moon. He now knows that asteroids are something to look out for when flying a space ship, and may also accidentally remember a few of the planets names as well. That's not too bad for a few minutes of fun on the sofa with dad. It is just not often enough that I can figure out how to integrate learning into the play times and still have it be fun and a great bonding moment that I hope I never forget.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Six Great TV Shows for Toddlers

I know it is typically a bad idea for kids to grow up watching TV, but there are times when they just need something to do to keep them occupied while you are busy.  Here is a list of shows that will entertain a toddler, and at the same time have them actually learn something. We keep a few episodes of each on the Tivo so that we can pull them up quickly when needed and know exactly what he is watching.

Super Why! on PBS: Wyatt, whose alter ego is Super Why!, and his friends solve their problems by comparing it to similar ones found in books. They go into a story in every episode to find their answers. Along the way they solve problems by using letters, making words, and practicing their spelling. Educational, and still entertaining enough to hold a thee year olds attention for the whole show.

Go, Diego, Go! on Nick Jr.: This show really has a geat following among toddlers. It highlights different animals each episode and has the kids participate in rescuing the animal with Diego. Along the way they learn facts about animals, and also some Spanish words and phrases.

Dora the Explorer on Nick Jr. Have your toddler follow Dora along on her adventures. Dora teaches a few spanish words on each show. She also reinforces shapes, counting, numbers and sequence of events. It is a fun show to watch and learn along with, and kids love it.

Reading Rainbow on PBS: My son loves many of these shows. Each show revolves around a specific childrens book. Lavar Burton is the host and each episode has a guest reader who reads the story and shows the illustrations. The show then explores the theme in the book in various ways. For example, my son loves trains, so the episode named Kate Shelly and the Midnight Express is one of his favorites. Lavar takes the audience with him as he talks to an engineer of an Amtrack train and he even takes a ride on the train as well. Entertaining and educational at the same time.

Blue's Clues on Nick Jr.: Blue has been around for a while, and you have probably heard of the show. A great concept of having a live person inteacting with a whole ensamble of cartoon characters that kids can relate to. Blue is the dog who leaves clues for either Steve or Joe to follow to answer a question posed in the beginning of the show. Blue's friends are Mr. Salt, and Mrs. Pepper, Magenta, Shovel, and Pail, and Side Table Drawer among others.  It is fun to follow along as they solve the clues, and sing the repetitive songs that my son soon learned to sing along with.

Peep on TLC: Peep is a newly hatched chicken who has some exciting adventures with his friends Quack, the baby duck, and Chirp, a baby robin. Peep and his friends do their best to bring an understanding of different science related themes such as animals, plants, and habitats. The simple color schemes of the characters and backgrounds make iteasy for young kids to watch and enjoy. Throw in Joan Cusack and a snappy fun to listen to theme song and you have a hit.

Six Great TV Shows for Toddlers





I know it is typically a bad idea for kids to grow up watching TV, but there are times when they just need something to do to keep them occupied while you are busy.  Here is a list of shows that will entertain a toddler, and at the same time have them actually learn something. We keep a few episodes of each on the Tivo so that we can pull them up quickly when needed and know exactly what he is watching. 
Super Why! on PBS: Wyat, whose alter ego is Super Why! and his friends solve their problems by comparing it to similar ones found in books. They go into a story in every episode to find their answers. Along the way they solve problems by using letters, making words, and practicing their spelling. Educational, and still entertaining enough to hold a thee year olds attention for the whole show.  
Go, Diego, Go! on Nick Jr.: This show really has a geat following among toddlers. This show highlights different animals each episode and has the kids participate in rescuing the animal with Diego. Along the way they learn facts about animals, and also some Spanish words and phrases. 


Dora the Explorer on Nick Jr. Have your toddler follow Dora along on her adventures. Dora teaches a few spanish words on each show. She also reinforces shapes, counting, numbers and sequence of events. It is a fun show to watch and learn along with, and kids love it. 
Reading Rainbow on PBS: My son loves many of these shows. Each show revolves around a specific childrens book. Lavar Burton is the host and each episode has a guest reader who reads the story and shows the illustrations. The show then explores the theme in the book in various ways. For example, my son loves trains, so the episode named Kate Shelly and the Midnight Express is one of his favorites. Lavar takes the audience with him as he talks to an engineer of an Amtrack train and he even takes a ride on the train as well. Entertaining and educational at the same time. 
Blue's Clues on Nick Jr.: Blue has been around for a while, and you have probably heard of the show. A great concept of having a live person inteacting with a whole ensamble of cartoon characters that kids can relate to. Blue is the dog who leaves clues for either Steve or Joe to follow to answer a question posed in the beginning of the show. Blue's friends are Mr. Salt, and Mrs. Pepper, Magenta, Shovel, and Pail, and Side Table Drawer among others.  It is fun to follow along as they solve the clues, and sing the repetitive songs that my son soon learned to sing along with. 
Peep on TLC: Peep is a newly hatched chicken who has some exciting adventures with his friends Quack, the baby duck, and Chirp, a baby robin. Peep and his friends do their best to bring an understanding of different science related themes such as animals, plants, and habitats. The simple color schemes of the characters and backgrounds make iteasy for young kids to watch and enjoy. Throw in Joan Cusack and a snappy fun to listen to theme song and you have a hit. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Top Ten Things T Loves to Do at Age 3.

1. Hug Tigger, his stuffed animal friend.
2. Watch Little Bill on TV. (Created by Bill Cosby)
3. Play with Thomas the Tank Engine trains and track.
4. Play Mario Kart on his Game Boy.
5. Play with the steering wheel that comes with Mario Kart from Wii, and pretend he is driving a car around the living room and through the kitchen.
6. Sit on the couch with Daddy and drink milk while Daddy drinks his coffee in the morning.
7. Give Mommy giant hugs.
8. Dance to the song Real Gone by Sheryl Crow from the movie Cars. 
9. Walk around the chicken houses and pretend he is a chicken farmer like his dad.
10. Watch videos on his computer from sites like: Seseme Street, Noggin and Thomas and Friends

Top Ten Things T Loves to Do at Age 3.


1. Hug Tigger, his stuffed animal friend.
2. Watch Little Bill on TV. (Created by Bill Cosby)
3. Play with Thomas the Tank Engine trains and track.
4. Play Mario Kart on his Game Boy.
5. Play with the steering wheel that comes with Mario Kart from Wii, and pretend he is driving a car around the living room and through the kitchen. 
6. Sit on the couch with Daddy and drink milk while Daddy drinks his coffee in the morning. 
7. Give Mommy giant hugs.
8. Dance to the song Real Gone by Sheryl Crow from the movie Cars. 
9. Walk around the chicken houses and pretend he is a chicken farmer like his dad.
10. Watch videos on his computer from sites like: Seseme Street , Noggin and Thomas and Friends

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Baby Laughs, Her Parents Smile

I am at home today taking care of Q. I call her various names when I take care of her; Baby Q, QP, or even Peanut. Usually I try names on her until one makes her smile. Most likely it is the sound of the name, or the face I am making when I say the names, but whatever works. As long as she is smiling I am happy.
It has been three years since T was a baby. I forgot about all of those little, yet very amazing firsts that occur. I remember the big things like when he started to sleep through the night, and when he started to crawl and walk and talk. These were all very big moments in our lives, but somehow I forgot the smaller joys. Luckily, I have QP here to remind me of all the things that made us so happy as new parents. Recently QP has started to laugh. She has been smiling at us for a long time, but now has moved up to being able to laugh at us. I am going to stick with laugh 'at' us, since in my head the baby dialogue is something like:

Us: "Peek a boo!"
Baby: "Does this guy seriously think I disappear when he puts that blanket in front of me? Oh man, that is so funny! Who thinks like that? I am so going to get over on these people when I can talk."

Hopefully that is not what she is thinking, although its most likely true that she will get over on us later. I am definitely not sure how raising a teenage daughter is going to go. I was a teenage son, so, I think I know where his head will be most of the time and may be able to direct him at times in the right direction. A girl however is something different. When I was a teen I was barely able to talk to girls, never mind understand them. I think my wife is going to have to be calling plays at that point and just telling me what to say so I sound smart/hip.
QP also is starting to figure out what her hands are for. It seems to be a slow process, but she occasionally grabs at things now. That is unfortunate for L, who has long hair. QP likes to tangle her hands up in L's hair and pull on it. Now we know that L's screams of pain also make QP laugh a little.
The next  moment I am looking forward to seems like it will be rolling over. She is already attempting it from time to time, she just doesn't quite have it down yet. I expect it to happen any day now. I have learned to be patient though, these firsts only happen once and they give us plenty of time to build up excitement for them.

A Baby Laughs, Her Parents Smile

I am at home today taking care of Q. I call her various names when I take care of her; Baby Q, QP, or even Peanut. Usually I try names on her until one makes her smile. Most likely it is the sound of the name, or the face I am making when I say the names, but whatever works. As long as she is smiling I am happy.
It has been three years since T was a baby. I forgot about all of those little, yet very amazing firsts that occur. I remember the big things like when he started to sleep through the night, and when he started to crawl and walk and talk. These were all very big moments in our lives, but somehow I forgot the smaller joys. Luckily, I have QP here to remind me of all the things that made us so happy as new parents. Recently QP has started to laugh. She has been smiling at us for a long time, but now has moved up to being able to laugh at us. I am going to stick with laugh 'at' us, since in my head the baby dialogue is something like:

Us: "Peek a boo!"
Baby: "Does this guy seriously think I disappear when he puts that blanket in front of me? Oh man, that is so funny! Who thinks like that? I am so going to get over on these people when I can talk."

Hopefully that is not what she is thinking, although its most likely true that she will get over on us later. I am definitely not sure how raising a teenage daughter is going to go. I was a teenage son, so, I think I know where his head will be most of the time and may be able to direct him at times in the right direction. A girl however is something different. When I was a teen I was barely able to talk to girls, never mind understand them. I think my wife is going to have to be calling plays at that point and just telling me what to say so I sound smart/hip.
QP also is starting to figure out what her hands are for. It seems to be a slow process, but she occasionally grabs at things now. That is unfortunate for L, who has long hair. QP likes to tangle her hands up in L's hair and pull on it. Now we know that L's screams of pain also make QP laugh a little.
The next  moment I am looking forward to seems like it will be rolling over. She is already attempting it from time to time, she just doesn't quite have it down yet. I expect it to happen any day now. I have learned to be patient though, these firsts only happen once and they give us plenty of time to build up excitement for them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays Cool Blog of the week 2!

Tuesday  seemed to sneak up on me so quickly this week. I guess it is because I am spending so much time getting the chicken houses set up. So much to do, and so much time to do it. Hmm, that's not the way that saying is supposed to go. I guess the chicken farm business is changing, and not always for the better. Anyway, that's a-whole-nother post, if not website all by itself. Let's get back to the Cool Blog of the Week.

This weeks winner is: Girl in Georgia!

Why read it: OK, I hear the shouts of bias already stirring. Yes, this is my wonderful wife's blog, and there is most definitely favoritism in the choice. I selected this blog however just to highlight it for those of you who would like to see the other side to my stories. For example when I say my wife had a Wii night with her friends, you could go to her site and read what happened. Plus, she is kind enough to add some pictures of the family. This way you can see how incredibly cute T and QP are. I am going to be in so much trouble when they get older.
Also, for those not familiar with L, you can read her blog and get a chance to meet the person who may be the only one capable of putting up with me for so long. We have been together for around eleven years, and married for over eight. We met online before online dating was invented, still in the age when meeting people on the internet was considered seriously risky. She took a chance after talking to me online for several months, and eventually flew out to meet me in person. Luckily for her I was only half crazy. We fell in love, and I soon moved out to Cali to be with her. We were married a little while later. Oddly enough, even though we lived in California we still were able to get married first, and then have children later. We chose not to follow the celebrity trend and have kids, then get married. Maybe that's why I am not a star yet, although maybe living on a chicken farm may be hurting my chances at stardom as well.
To close, Thank you L for being such a wonderful and supportive wife. Everyone else, take a minute to stop by her site to see why I am so in love with her and my beautiful children.

Tuesdays Cool Blog of the week 2!

Tuesday  seemed to sneak up on me so quickly this week. I guess it is because I am spending so much time getting the chicken houses set up. So much to do, and so much time to do it. Hmm, that's not the way that saying is supposed to go. I guess the chicken farm business is changing, and not always for the better. Anyway, that's a-whole-nother post, if not website all by itself. Let's get back to the Cool Blog of the Week.

This weeks winner is: Girl in Georgia!

Why read it: OK, I hear the shouts of bias already stirring. Yes, this is my wonderful wife's blog, and there is most definitely favoritism in the choice. I selected this blog however just to highlight it for those of you who would like to see the other side to my stories. For example when I say my wife had a Wii night with her friends, you could go to her site and read what happened. Plus, she is kind enough to add some pictures of the family. This way you can see how incredibly cute T and QP are. I am going to be in so much trouble when they get older.
Also, for those not familiar with L, you can read her blog and get a chance to meet the person who may be the only one capable of putting up with me for so long. We have been together for around eleven years, and married for over eight. We met online before online dating was invented, still in the age when meeting people on the internet was considered seriously risky. She took a chance after talking to me online for several months, and eventually flew out to meet me in person. Luckily for her I was only half crazy. We fell in love, and I soon moved out to Cali to be with her. We were married a little while later. Oddly enough, even though we lived in California we still were able to get married first, and then have children later. We chose not to follow the celebrity trend and have kids, then get married. Maybe that's why I am not a star yet, although maybe living on a chicken farm may be hurting my chances at stardom as well.
To close, Thank you L for being such a wonderful and supportive wife. Everyone else, take a minute to stop by her site to see why I am so in love with her and my beautiful children.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trip to Grandma and Grandpa's House

Last night T and I went on a little adventure. We headed over to grandma and grandpa's house for the night. My wife was having a group of ladies come over for a Wii night. Wii tends to get loud when you are really having fun with it, and loud doesn't go well with a sleeping toddler. In fact, I believe he would take it as a challenge. Loud is one thing T does very well. Inside voice and outside voice for him really don't have much of a volume difference. So, to allow them to have fun, I volunteered to take T over to my parents with me and the two of us stayed there for the night.
It was a very nice time. We had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill. T has lots of toys there to play with, including a wooden train set which he loves. Things went along very well for the evening, and right on into bed time.
The morning on the other hand had quite a scare for me. T and I slept in the same guest room. There is a trundle bed, so I had T sleep on the lower bed that pulls out, and I slept on the higher bed. I woke up to T calling out to me in a sad voice. The room was almost completely dark, I could just barely see his bed and I wasn't sure if I could see him on it or not. Then I heard him call out again. "Daddy". Such a sad voice, but it didn't sound like it was coming from his bed. "T, Where are you? Are you OK? What's wrong?", I am asking in a growing panic, not sure where he is now or what is wrong. I climb off the bed and search his bed in the dark, and he is not there. I rush to the light to switch it on.
I scan the room quickly, now that I can see, and I don't see him. "T, where are you?" I am all panicked, and all that starts going through my sleepy head is, am I dreaming? I hear T but he is not here. It is like a dream, but I know I am awake.
"Down here, I'm stuck." He says. I finally zone in on him and realize he is under my bed. I lift the ruffle out of the way and I see him, laying under there, not stuck at all. He has a big smile on his face and he says," I want some milk."
I pull him out from under the bed and grab hold of him in a big hug, and lay back on the bed with him. He has no idea what was going on in my head, nor how much he scared me. I try to explain it to him, but see he doesn't get it and is more interested in why I am not getting him milk yet. Well, then milk it is. I am sure my parents are up, being that I doubt they ever sleep past 5 a.m., and it is 6:00 on the dot. We head out for some milk, and breakfast. (I wonder how long he waited for the clock to have the first number on the digital clock change to  six, or if it was just a coincidence.)
With that scare out of the way, the morning went well. We ate and then went out to the back patio where we soon noticed the donkeys were out in the field that is adjacent to my parents property. T and I went over to the fence to see them, and they came over to see us as well. I petted them, T stared at them from a safe distance, and grandpa came over and fed them carrots. It was a very nice experience for all of us. T came back to the patio after grandpa gave the last carrot to the donkeys and said," I want a people carrot." I guess he didn't realize that those were people carrots, and that we gave the last ones to the animals. The little boy does like his carrots. I guess we need to get more carrots when we go grocery shopping next time. Grandma gave him a craisin cookie to change his thoughts from the carrot, and I packed us up to head home. A successful trip all the way around.

Trip to Grandma and Grandpa's House

Last night T and I went on a little adventure. We headed over to grandma and grandpa's house for the night. My wife was having a group of ladies come over for a Wii night. Wii tends to get loud when you are really having fun with it, and loud doesn't go well with a sleeping toddler. In fact, I believe he would take it as a challenge. Loud is one thing T does very well. Inside voice and outside voice for him really don't have much of a volume difference. So, to allow them to have fun, I volunteered to take T over to my parents with me and the two of us stayed there for the night.
It was a very nice time. We had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill. T has lots of toys there to play with, including a wooden train set which he loves. Things went along very well for the evening, and right on into bed time.
The morning on the other hand had quite a scare for me. T and I slept in the same guest room. There is a trundle bed, so I had T sleep on the lower bed that pulls out, and I slept on the higher bed. I woke up to T calling out to me in a sad voice. The room was almost completely dark, I could just barely see his bed and I wasn't sure if I could see him on it or not. Then I heard him call out again. "Daddy". Such a sad voice, but it didn't sound like it was coming from his bed. "T, Where are you? Are you OK? What's wrong?", I am asking in a growing panic, not sure where he is now or what is wrong. I climb off the bed and search his bed in the dark, and he is not there. I rush to the light to switch it on.
I scan the room quickly, now that I can see, and I don't see him. "T, where are you?" I am all panicked, and all that starts going through my sleepy head is, am I dreaming? I hear T but he is not here. It is like a dream, but I know I am awake.
"Down here, I'm stuck." He says. I finally zone in on him and realize he is under my bed. I lift the ruffle out of the way and I see him, laying under there, not stuck at all. He has a big smile on his face and he says," I want some milk."
I pull him out from under the bed and grab hold of him in a big hug, and lay back on the bed with him. He has no idea what was going on in my head, nor how much he scared me. I try to explain it to him, but see he doesn't get it and is more interested in why I am not getting him milk yet. Well, then milk it is. I am sure my parents are up, being that I doubt they ever sleep past 5 a.m., and it is 6:00 on the dot. We head out for some milk, and breakfast. (I wonder how long he waited for the clock to have the first number on the digital clock change to  six, or if it was just a coincidence.)
With that scare out of the way, the morning went well. We ate and then went out to the back patio where we soon noticed the donkeys were out in the field that is adjacent to my parents property. T and I went over to the fence to see them, and they came over to see us as well. I petted them, T stared at them from a safe distance, and grandpa came over and fed them carrots. It was a very nice experience for all of us. T came back to the patio after grandpa gave the last carrot to the donkeys and said," I want a people carrot." I guess he didn't realize that those were people carrots, and that we gave the last ones to the animals. The little boy does like his carrots. I guess we need to get more carrots when we go grocery shopping next time. Grandma gave him a craisin cookie to change his thoughts from the carrot, and I packed us up to head home. A successful trip all the way around.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So Sensitive

I am not sure why, but it seems Mr. T has come down with a serious case of the sensitives. Where did this come from? I'm not sure if he is just tired from not taking naps, or it is just some emotional issue he is going through that we don't know about. It could be the naps thing, since he really doesn't like to take naps at all. We have basically given up trying to get him to take them at home since all methods we could come up with have failed. Positive reinforcement, bribery, rational conversations about how good he feels after he takes a nap, force, yelling, threats of taking away toys all have been tried and have failed. I am not sure how well he naps at school either. So he may just get grumpy and sensitive in the afternoons. 
Here is what I am talking about. Last night he was playing his Game boy with a different game in it than usual. It is Yoshi island or something like that. One of the parts of the game has a section where there are little plants and things that try to catch you as you apparently carry Luigi on your back. If they 'get you' Luigi ends up in some kind of bubble and starts to float away. You then have to jump up and hit the bubble and Luigi will then fall safely back onto your back. T is watching me go over it and Luigi went up in the bubble and the character starts to scream something unrecognizable. T hears this and is so concerned for Luigi that he starts crying. "Don't let him float away. I don't want him to float away. He is crying!" He was he so sad. We put the game away so he didn't have to play that. This is the same boy who has a great time crashing his Thomas the Tank Engine into anything he can find on the floor, including someof Thomas's other friends without a second thought. Also the same boy who grabs Elmo by the feet and bounces his head off the floor to hear his eyes bounce off the linoleum.

It is not just the game though. It can be just about anything that makes him cry lately. Asking him not to do something often makes him cry. I'm not talking about yelling at him, I mean just literally asking him not to touch something, or not to jump or run can make him cry lately. Normally it would just get a "Why not?" or maybe an "OK daddy, I won't touch that." Now it ends up with pouting, crying, and even yelling something at us like,"I'm not talking to you any more!", followed by storming out to his bedroom to pout and yell at us from there. 

The other day he got a nice haircut from his mom. He went through part of it fine, then after getting half of it cut he started to cry and fight her about cutting the rest. He was so scared that it might hurt he didn't want to do it any more. Not because it did hurt, but because he thought it might hurt. He already had half of it cut and that didn't hurt. Why would the other half hurt. The next day I saw a few hairs that were long in the front, so I grabbed a scissors to just clip them quickly. There was crying involved. He wouldn't let me do it and said it hurt. How could it hurt when I hadn't even gotten the scissors within a foot of him yet. I made the quick 1 second clip and the whole thing was over. He was then happy and off to find the next toy to play with.

So, I am just being patient, and giving him extra hugs to calm him down and make him feel happy again. Then when he is calm we discuss why we told him not to run, or jump, or do what ever set him off. He agrees with us and then we go and play something together or watch some TV together. Will this phase pass? Is there a different way to handle this? I imagine a father in the old west handling it by slapping the kid across the head and saying," Now that hurts, so when the hair cut feels like that, let me know." Not being Clint Eastwood, I'm going to have to look for more modern methodology in child rearing. 

So Sensitive

I am not sure why, but it seems Mr. T has come down with a serious case of the sensitives. Where did this come from? I'm not sure if he is just tired from not taking naps, or it is just some emotional issue he is going through that we don't know about. It could be the naps thing, since he really doesn't like to take naps at all. We have basically given up trying to get him to take them at home since all methods we could come up with have failed. Positive reinforcement, bribery, rational conversations about how good he feels after he takes a nap, force, yelling, threats of taking away toys all have been tried and have failed. I am not sure how well he naps at school either. So he may just get grumpy and sensitive in the afternoons. 
Here is what I am talking about. Last night he was playing his Game boy with a different game in it than usual. It is Yoshi island or something like that. One of the parts of the game has a section where there are little plants and things that try to catch you as you apparently carry Luigi on your back. If they 'get you' Luigi ends up in some kind of bubble and starts to float away. You then have to jump up and hit the bubble and Luigi will then fall safely back onto your back. T is watching me go over it and Luigi went up in the bubble and the character starts to scream something unrecognizable. T hears this and is so concerned for Luigi that he starts crying. "Don't let him float away. I don't want him to float away. He is crying!" He was he so sad. We put the game away so he didn't have to play that. This is the same boy who has a great time crashing his Thomas the Tank Engine into anything he can find on the floor, including someof Thomas's other friends without a second thought. Also the same boy who grabs Elmo by the feet and bounces his head off the floor to hear his eyes bounce off the linoleum.
It is not just the game though. It can be just about anything that makes him cry lately. Asking him not to do something often makes him cry. I'm not talking about yelling at him, I mean just literally asking him not to touch something, or not to jump or run can make him cry lately. Normally it would just get a "Why not?" or maybe an "OK daddy, I won't touch that." Now it ends up with pouting, crying, and even yelling something at us like,"I'm not talking to you any more!", followed by storming out to his bedroom to pout and yell at us from there. 
The other day he got a nice haircut from his mom. He went through part of it fine, then after getting half of it cut he started to cry and fight her about cutting the rest. He was so scared that it might hurt he didn't want to do it any more. Not because it did hurt, but because he thought it might hurt. He already had half of it cut and that didn't hurt. Why would the other half hurt. The next day I saw a few hairs that were long in the front, so I grabbed a scissors to just clip them quickly. There was crying involved. He wouldn't let me do it and said it hurt. How could it hurt when I hadn't even gotten the scissors within a foot of him yet. I made the quick 1 second clip and the whole thing was over. He was then happy and off to find the next toy to play with.
So, I am just being patient, and giving him extra hugs to calm him down and make him feel happy again. Then when he is calm we discuss why we told him not to run, or jump, or do what ever set him off. He agrees with us and then we go and play something together or watch some TV together. Will this phase pass? Is there a different way to handle this? I imagine a father in the old west handling it by slapping the kid across the head and saying," Now that hurts, so when the hair cut feels like that, let me know." Not being Clint Eastwood, I'm going to have to look for more modern methodology in child rearing. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Video Game Phenomenom

A long, long time ago, (last Christmas) in a land far, far away (also known as San Diego), T's cousin gave his old Nintendo Game Boy to T. It was a very generous gift to a boy who was two at the time. He loved the game boy because it was his older cousins. T had no idea how to make the game work, but if his  cousin could do it, then he would pretend he was playing it too.
 Since then, he had played with the game sporadically every now and then. The game hasn't always been a Game Boy. It has doubled as other things for him. While watching GO! Diego GO! for example, the game became his field journal. When he watched Super Why, the game was his super computer. At one point I remember him holding the game and telling me he was going to go watch his movies. I guess it was a dvd player at the time.
 The reason I mention this Game Boy now is because he has finally played with it so often that he taught himself to play the games. This past week is the first time I noticed that when he plays the games, he can really 'play' them. Before, he pushed buttons and listened to the noises it made and when the game itself was actually loaded up he would usually turn it off and start it over so he could listen to the songs and sounds it makes as it started up. He has a couple of games, but mostly the games that are in there most often are Mario Kart, and another one named Yoshi.

This week I noticed that he was moving the car around on the Mario Kart game. So I sat with him a short time and gave him some tips on playing, and he was off and going with it. He actually completed a race on the game by himself soon after. Believe me, to go three laps around the course on that game is no easy task.

 Then another time he had put in Yoshi. He was moving this little character around through the game screens. His only problem was that he just didn't know what he was supposed to do because the instructions are written on the screen before each round, and he can't read yet. I read the instructions to him for the first couple rounds, and let him watch me play it once. He went off and played for a while, and not long after he came running up to me with his all so proud grin on his face yelling,"Look daddy, Look!" I took the game and looked at it, and the screen read,"Mission Completed!" He had gone through the entire first round, and completed all the required goals. He had to find and have Yoshi eat a certain amount of apples; some of which required some difficult jumping maneuvers to get the Yoshi character to be able to eat them. I was amazed, and so proud of him for working so hard. I gave him a great big hug. 

Don't think I don't hear what you are thinking. I think it too. After all, it is the beginning of the video game phase. That possibly dark time when kids focus so intently on video games that parents often become invisible and only the game screen exists. I see it in his eyes at times already. He focuses so hard on that screen while he plays. But here is what I like about it for right now:

I like that he is so determined to figure it out. 

I like his curiosity about the whole thing. He asks me tons of questions. 

I like, for now, that he can focus on that game for an extended period of time. 

I like that he is able to stop playing at bed time without any problem.

I like that he likes to share and let me play so he can watch. 

For now, I think it is a good thing for him. It also works as a great reward when we need him to do something he doesn't want to, and that is priceless.

Video Game Phenomenom

A long, long time ago, (last Christmas) in a land far, far away (also known as San Diego), T's cousin gave his old Nintendo Game Boy to T. It was a very generous gift to a boy who was two at the time. He loved the game boy because it was his older cousins. T had no idea how to make the game work, but if his  cousin could do it, then he would pretend he was playing it too.
 Since then, he had played with the game sporadically every now and then. The game hasn't always been a Game Boy. It has doubled as other things for him. While watching GO! Diego GO! for example, the game became his field journal. When he watched Super Why, the game was his super computer. At one point I remember him holding the game and telling me he was going to go watch his movies. I guess it was a dvd player at the time.
 The reason I mention this Game Boy now is because he has finally played with it so often that he taught himself to play the games. This past week is the first time I noticed that when he plays the games, he can really 'play' them. Before, he pushed buttons and listened to the noises it made and when the game itself was actually loaded up he would usually turn it off and start it over so he could listen to the songs and sounds it makes as it started up. He has a couple of games, but mostly the games that are in there most often are Mario Kart, and another one named Yoshi.
This week I noticed that he was moving the car around on the Mario Kart game. So I sat with him a short time and gave him some tips on playing, and he was off and going with it. He actually completed a race on the game by himself soon after. Believe me, to go three laps around the course on that game is no easy task.
 Then another time he had put in Yoshi. He was moving this little character around through the game screens. His only problem was that he just didn't know what he was supposed to do because the instructions are written on the screen before each round, and he can't read yet. I read the instructions to him for the first couple rounds, and let him watch me play it once. He went off and played for a while, and not long after he came running up to me with his all so proud grin on his face yelling,"Look daddy, Look!" I took the game and looked at it, and the screen read,"Mission Completed!" He had gone through the entire first round, and completed all the required goals. He had to find and have Yoshi eat a certain amount of apples; some of which required some difficult jumping maneuvers to get the Yoshi character to be able to eat them. I was amazed, and so proud of him for working so hard. I gave him a great big hug. 
Don't think I don't hear what you are thinking. I think it too. After all, it is the beginning of the video game phase. That possibly dark time when kids focus so intently on video games that parents often become invisible and only the game screen exists. I see it in his eyes at times already. He focuses so hard on that screen while he plays. But here is what I like about it for right now:
I like that he is so determined to figure it out. 
I like his curiosity about the whole thing. He asks me tons of questions. 
I like, for now, that he can focus on that game for an extended period of time. 
I like that he is able to stop playing at bed time without any problem.
I like that he likes to share and let me play so he can watch. 
For now, I think it is a good thing for him. It also works as a great reward when we need him to do something he doesn't want to, and that is priceless.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday's Cool Blog of the Week!

I thought I would like just spend a moment to make you aware of some other blogs. Since it would be rude to not tell you about all the ones I love to read, I decided to highlight one of them each week on Tuesday. I promise not to grab any random sites and annoy you all. I will pick only the sites I really love to follow, and explain to you why I read them. I don't have a lot, so the Blog of the week may only last a short time. I am, however always looking for new, exciting blogs to read, so hopefully, as I go along there will be more to share with you. 
Today's Cool blog of the week is: Lauren and Ural

Why read it?: 

Lauren is a good friend of mine from when I worked at The Active Network. Her and her husband Ural are lucky enough to be able to take some time off and do some serious travelling. Right now they are over in Vietnam, eating their way through Asia. I say 'eating' their way because they are foodies who love to eat good food and seem brave enough to try some local foods from the places they visit. When you read their blog I hope you will feel like I do. It is as if I am travelling with them on their adventure. Through their use of incredible descriptions, stories and pictures it is like you are there with them laughing and enjoying the incredible foods and places they visit. 

Take  look at their site by clicking the link in the side bar or clicking here. If you like what you see on their site as much as I do, then bookmark their home page and follow along on their journey with me. 

Tuesday's Cool Blog of the Week!

I thought I would like just spend a moment to make you aware of some other blogs. Since it would be rude to not tell you about all the ones I love to read, I decided to highlight one of them each week on Tuesday. I promise not to grab any random sites and annoy you all. I will pick only the sites I really love to follow, and explain to you why I read them. I don't have a lot, so the Blog of the week may only last a short time. I am, however always looking for new, exciting blogs to read, so hopefully, as I go along there will be more to share with you. 

Today's Cool blog of the week is: Lauren and Ural
Why read it?: 
Lauren is a good friend of mine from when I worked at The Active Network. Her and her husband Ural are lucky enough to be able to take some time off and do some serious travelling. Right now they are over in Vietnam, eating their way through Asia. I say 'eating' their way because they are foodies who love to eat good food and seem brave enough to try some local foods from the places they visit. When you read their blog I hope you will feel like I do. It is as if I am travelling with them on their adventure. Through their use of incredible descriptions, stories and pictures it is like you are there with them laughing and enjoying the incredible foods and places they visit. 
Take  look at their site by clicking the link in the side bar or clicking here. If you like what you see on their site as much as I do, then bookmark their home page and follow along on their journey with me. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mornings with T

This morning: 
Approx. 0615 a.m. 

Scene: K and L sleeping peacefully. 

  Cue lights

After being awakened by an annoying light, I peer towards the source of the light. I see the bedroom door is opened and the light is coming from the living room. A small silhouette is visible in the doorway. I can tell he is taking a second to adjust his eyes to the dark room. He has already walked through the house turning on every light he can find. His eyes are not ready to see in the dark yet. I need to do something quickly or my bedroom light is going to be turned on, breaking the peaceful sleepy atmosphere of the room. 

"Pssssssst", I say.

That is our signal when we play hide and seek. I say,"Psssst" and he comes running to find me. 

"Psssst", I say again. 

I hear him giggle a little and see him walking slowly towards my side of the bed. He reaches up and grabs my arm, pulling himself up. He lays next to me with his stuffed animal Tigger in his arms. 

"Daddy, we can sleep until six o'clock". I have been teaching him to tell time specifically so he will stay in bed until six. He will randomly wake up anytime from 4:30 to 6:30 in the morning, and it can seriously ruin my day when he wakes up closer to the 4:30 time, especially if the I had to be up late waiting for a feed truck for the farm. 

I look over at the clock and see it is already 6:15. "It is already after six T" I tell him knowing that my sleep time is officially over. 

"Oh, Daddy, Tigger is thirsty. He wants some milk." 

"OK, let's go get Tigger some milk."

T and I quietly slip out of the room for our morning ritual trying not to wake up mommy. We close the bedroom door and head into the kitchen. 

Every morning T wakes me up. Sometimes he uses the baby monitor we have in his room, other times he comes and yells at our bedroom door. Today, since the door was open he just came on in and climbed up on the bed. One way or another I get woken up too early. In fact I have not used an alarm clock for a very long time because it is very rare that T sleeps past 6 a.m. 

Once I am awake I get him a glass of milk, and I make myself some coffee. I definitely need the coffee. I am in no way a morning person. Then we turn on one of his favorite TV shows and watch it together. It sometimes seems that he has been deciding all night what to watch. "Let's watch Thomas today", or "Let's watch Cars, put Cars on Daddy." I put on which ever show he has put so much thought into, and I slowly sip my coffee, trying to get my blood to flow again and hopefully wake me up. 

T moves close to daddy, leans up against him. He hugs Tigger tightly while watching TV with his head resting on daddy's arm. Daddy smiles and puts his arm around T. He gives T a kiss on top of his head. They both settle in to watch some quality children's programming. 

  Camera fades to black.

Conversation heard off camera, "What was that?"

"Tigger farted."  Sounds of giggling are heard as credits roll. 

Mornings with T

This morning: 
Approx. 0615 a.m. 
Scene: K and L sleeping peacefully. 
  Cue lights
After being awakened by an annoying light, I peer towards the source of the light. I see the bedroom door is opened and the light is coming from the living room. A small silhouette is visible in the doorway. I can tell he is taking a second to adjust his eyes to the dark room. He has already walked through the house turning on every light he can find. His eyes are not ready to see in the dark yet. I need to do something quickly or my bedroom light is going to be turned on, breaking the peaceful sleepy atmosphere of the room. 
"Pssssssst", I say.
That is our signal when we play hide and seek. I say,"Psssst" and he comes running to find me. 
"Psssst", I say again. 
I hear him giggle a little and see him walking slowly towards my side of the bed. He reaches up and grabs my arm, pulling himself up. He lays next to me with his stuffed animal Tigger in his arms. 
"Daddy, we can sleep until six o'clock". I have been teaching him to tell time specifically so he will stay in bed until six. He will randomly wake up anytime from 4:30 to 6:30 in the morning, and it can seriously ruin my day when he wakes up closer to the 4:30 time, especially if the I had to be up late waiting for a feed truck for the farm. 
I look over at the clock and see it is already 6:15. "It is already after six T" I tell him knowing that my sleep time is officially over. 
"Oh, Daddy, Tigger is thirsty. He wants some milk." 
"OK, let's go get Tigger some milk."
T and I quietly slip out of the room for our morning ritual trying not to wake up mommy. We close the bedroom door and head into the kitchen. 
Every morning T wakes me up. Sometimes he uses the baby monitor we have in his room, other times he comes and yells at our bedroom door. Today, since the door was open he just came on in and climbed up on the bed. One way or another I get woken up too early. In fact I have not used an alarm clock for a very long time because it is very rare that T sleeps past 6 a.m. 
Once I am awake I get him a glass of milk, and I make myself some coffee. I definitely need the coffee. I am in no way a morning person. Then we turn on one of his favorite TV shows and watch it together. It sometimes seems that he has been deciding all night what to watch. "Let's watch Thomas today", or "Let's watch Cars, put Cars on Daddy." I put on which ever show he has put so much thought into, and I slowly sip my coffee, trying to get my blood to flow again and hopefully wake me up. 
T moves close to daddy, leans up against him. He hugs Tigger tightly while watching TV with his head resting on daddy's arm. Daddy smiles and puts his arm around T. He gives T a kiss on top of his head. They both settle in to watch some quality children's programming. 
  Camera fades to black.
Conversation heard off camera, "What was that?"
"Tigger farted."  Sounds of giggling are heard as credits roll. 

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Two Pages

This morning I was talking to my mother when my blog came up in the discussion. She told me my fourth grade teacher would be happy about my blog because it is just like writing in my 'Two Pages' notebook. I thought about it for a second, and realized she was completely right. 
In fourth grade we were required to have a notebook to be used only for writing assignments. We were asked simply to fill two pages in the notebook with creative writing every week. You could write anything you wanted. It could be a story that you made up, or just random thoughts or ideas, or as I found out, even just write a bunch of jokes to amuse the teacher. At first glance it seems fairly easy. Just write something, and you get a week to do it. Well, when you are a fourth grade slacker prone to procrastination those writing deadlines seem to come up really quickly. I'm not sure how, but it seemed to me that every time the day arrived to turn in the notebook, I had not yet started writing. 

Fourth grade seems a bit premature to have come down with writer's block, so I'm guessing it was panic that made the job so difficult to accomplish under such impossible time constraints. Week after week I was forced to write two pages of material early in the morning, before the school bell rang. Desperately trying to come up with something to get down on the paper I tried everything I could think of. Being class clown seemed to be my role, so I tried writing jokes. You wouldn't think that coming up with original jokes could be so hard, but it seriously is. (Except for those darn sitcom writers who seem to do it week after week. God bless them for helping to make me less productive even as an adult.)

I wrote lame jokes, stories with endings that oddly concluded exactly on the last line of the second page, humorous poetry, even long winded two page excuses for why I didn't have anything to write about that week. Through it all, week after week Mr. Andrews made sure I turned in that notebook. Looking back at it now, I see how important that notebook was. It forced me to think creatively, to work under pressure, to complete a task, to practice my writing skills, and to learn that even under pressure I could do it. 

It was, at the time a silly fourth grade notebook. As I got older I thought about it quite often. I don't know how many college papers were put off until the last minute and I would remember that notebook and think,"It's Two Pages all over again". I always knew that I would get it done. I even started to enjoy the pressure of time. I remember several times, most likely in an alcohol induced stupor, that I actually thought to myself,"I don't need to do it today, I work better under pressure". Somehow, just thinking it seemed to make it come true. 

As I got older, and yet older still, I realize that I have always loved writing. I have some type of need to express things in writing and I wonder if that weekly assignment wasn't somehow the cause of it. When I got a motorcycle in my late thirties, one of the first things I did was start a blog to express what I was feeling and seeing and experiencing. It is almost as if it doesn't really count if you don't write about it and share it. I know that is strange, but there is something about writing it down that I love. The line from Socrates that says, "an unexamined life is not worth living" may express it better. Writing just helps me take a look at what I have done, and then as you write about it you have a chance to examine it and see who you are a little better. 

So here I am with yet another milestone in my life, raising children, and soon after the urge to write comes back. It is something I should learn about myself I guess. I like to write. I may as well face it, it is my therapy and my memory aid at the same time. Thank you Mr. Andrews for encouraging that with that crazy two pages assignment week after week. Thank you to all my other teachers along the way who pushed me, and forced me to write down my ideas and thoughts. Now when people say my posts are too long, I can always point the finger to all of you and say, "It's their fault." Now, on the other hand, the people who want to know why I didn't actually learn how to write well, that's my fault. Ill keep trying, and maybe someday I'll get a whole blog post without a dangling participle, run on sentence, or even a single split infinitive.

Two Pages

This morning I was talking to my mother when my blog came up in the discussion. She told me my fourth grade teacher would be happy about my blog because it is just like writing in my 'Two Pages' notebook. I thought about it for a second, and realized she was completely right. 

In fourth grade we were required to have a notebook to be used only for writing assignments. We were asked simply to fill two pages in the notebook with creative writing every week. You could write anything you wanted. It could be a story that you made up, or just random thoughts or ideas, or as I found out, even just write a bunch of jokes to amuse the teacher. At first glance it seems fairly easy. Just write something, and you get a week to do it. Well, when you are a fourth grade slacker prone to procrastination those writing deadlines seem to come up really quickly. I'm not sure how, but it seemed to me that every time the day arrived to turn in the notebook, I had not yet started writing. 

Fourth grade seems a bit premature to have come down with writer's block, so I'm guessing it was panic that made the job so difficult to accomplish under such impossible time constraints. Week after week I was forced to write two pages of material early in the morning, before the school bell rang. Desperately trying to come up with something to get down on the paper I tried everything I could think of. Being class clown seemed to be my role, so I tried writing jokes. You wouldn't think that coming up with original jokes could be so hard, but it seriously is. (Except for those darn sitcom writers who seem to do it week after week. God bless them for helping to make me less productive even as an adult.)

I wrote lame jokes, stories with endings that oddly concluded exactly on the last line of the second page, humorous poetry, even long winded two page excuses for why I didn't have anything to write about that week. Through it all, week after week Mr. Andrews made sure I turned in that notebook. Looking back at it now, I see how important that notebook was. It forced me to think creatively, to work under pressure, to complete a task, to practice my writing skills, and to learn that even under pressure I could do it. 

It was, at the time a silly fourth grade notebook. As I got older I thought about it quite often. I don't know how many college papers were put off until the last minute and I would remember that notebook and think,"It's Two Pages all over again". I always knew that I would get it done. I even started to enjoy the pressure of time. I remember several times, most likely in an alcohol induced stupor, that I actually thought to myself,"I don't need to do it today, I work better under pressure". Somehow, just thinking it seemed to make it come true. 

As I got older, and yet older still, I realize that I have always loved writing. I have some type of need to express things in writing and I wonder if that weekly assignment wasn't somehow the cause of it. When I got a motorcycle in my late thirties, one of the first things I did was start a blog to express what I was feeling and seeing and experiencing. It is almost as if it doesn't really count if you don't write about it and share it. I know that is strange, but there is something about writing it down that I love. The line from Socrates that says, "an unexamined life is not worth living" may express it better. Writing just helps me take a look at what I have done, and then as you write about it you have a chance to examine it and see who you are a little better. 

So here I am with yet another milestone in my life, raising children, and soon after the urge to write comes back. It is something I should learn about myself I guess. I like to write. I may as well face it, it is my therapy and my memory aid at the same time. Thank you Mr. Andrews for encouraging that with that crazy two pages assignment week after week. Thank you to all my other teachers along the way who pushed me, and forced me to write down my ideas and thoughts. Now when people say my posts are too long, I can always point the finger to all of you and say, "It's their fault." Now, on the other hand, the people who want to know why I didn't actually learn how to write well, that's my fault. Ill keep trying, and maybe someday I'll get a whole blog post without a dangling participle, run on sentence, or even a single split infinitive.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Preschool Closed Unexpectedly

Due to budget cuts T's preschool was closed. CLOSED! It was state funded as a part of the local technical college, and apparently the governor cut their budget so they cut the preschool completely out because it was not making money. I have to admit we were as stunned as the teachers of the school were by the news. I mean, this was not some local daycare run by the neighbors, this was a full functioning child development center that is a part of the school and was used to train teachers for their certifications in early childhood education. 
As parents, we loved this school. When you are looking for a school for your three year old you have a lot of fears. There always seem to be news reports about some child being abused in a daycare, or nanny cam videos of baby sitters or nannys mistreating kids. Anytime that T is not with someone in our immediate family I am paranoid. Does that make me over protective? I'm not sure, but if I could I would never let him out of my sight. That not being practical, the technical college was the next best thing. They made us feel comfortable. They had two way mirrors on the walls of all classrooms so that us nervous parents could stand and watch without being seen. We could go in at any time and peek in on the classroom with no one knowing, and see what was happening. 

I could see not only what the teachers were doing, but also how T was relating to the teachers and the other students. It made us feel more relaxed that he was adjusting well to the class, and that he was being treated well. But now, they went and closed it on us, forcing us to find another school and start over. 

L did a great job researching our options for a new school. None of which really compares to where he was going as far as I am concerned, but out of necessity he has to go to school somewhere since we both need to work for us to survive. We made a choice and enrolled T.

This new school seems to be OK, but really, how do we know? We send him there and thoroughly quiz him when he gets home about his day, his teachers, and his friends and hope that nothing comes out that makes us regret our decision. I just wonder how accurate of a method that is when your child has a great imagination? For example:

T comes into the living room and tells me,"Tigger is all wet." Tigger is his stuffed animal.

"How did Tigger get all wet?", I asked.

"A big wave came out of the ceiling and went SPLASH all over him and made him all wet.", he tells me in all seriousness.

I tried to get more clarification on that to see if maybe the wave came from the bathroom sink, or toilet, since he just used the restroom. He stuck to his story about the ceiling. We washed Tigger anyway, just in case. 

It is even more difficult to send him to school, when dropping him off is heart wrenching. I took him there Friday, and going into the school was fine, but he never left my side while I was in there. When I needed to leave he was screaming,"No daddy, don't leave me here! Don't go!" If L had not taken him the day before and came back with a similar report I would have taken him right back home with me. But when L picked him up after school yesterday he was all happy and had a great day. I was worried anyway and asked L to pick him up early today just in case he was having a bad day. When she got there he was playing and again, having a good time. He even had a friend that he was playing with. 

I asked him today,"T, do you like school?"

"Yes."

"What is your favorite thing about school?" I ask. 

"Playing." he says. 

"What is your favorite thing to play?" 

"Fire trucks" he tells me. 

"Is there anything you don't like about school?" I ask wondeing if pandora's box may open and make me regret asking.

"Yes" 

"What don't you like?"

"I don't like when you leave, it makes me sad."

Sounds normal to me. He had this same type of problem at the other school from time to time. It just didn't seem so bad in the morning. I am hoping though it is the same type of thing. He is just having some attachment issues because it is very stressful going to a new school. It is a big change for someone who is only three years old. Since it took him a while to get used to his old school, I guess it will take a while for him and us as well to get used to the new school. I just can't help but wonder, if our country wasn't spending billions of dollars a day in Iraq would our economy be better and the budget cut would not have to have happened. 

Preschool Closed Unexpectedly

Due to budget cuts T's preschool was closed. CLOSED! It was state funded as a part of the local technical college, and apparently the governor cut their budget so they cut the preschool completely out because it was not making money. I have to admit we were as stunned as the teachers of the school were by the news. I mean, this was not some local daycare run by the neighbors, this was a full functioning child development center that is a part of the school and was used to train teachers for their certifications in early childhood education. 

As parents, we loved this school. When you are looking for a school for your three year old you have a lot of fears. There always seem to be news reports about some child being abused in a daycare, or nanny cam videos of baby sitters or nannys mistreating kids. Anytime that T is not with someone in our immediate family I am paranoid. Does that make me over protective? I'm not sure, but if I could I would never let him out of my sight. That not being practical, the technical college was the next best thing. They made us feel comfortable. They had two way mirrors on the walls of all classrooms so that us nervous parents could stand and watch without being seen. We could go in at any time and peek in on the classroom with no one knowing, and see what was happening. 

I could see not only what the teachers were doing, but also how T was relating to the teachers and the other students. It made us feel more relaxed that he was adjusting well to the class, and that he was being treated well. But now, they went and closed it on us, forcing us to find another school and start over. 

L did a great job researching our options for a new school. None of which really compares to where he was going as far as I am concerned, but out of necessity he has to go to school somewhere since we both need to work for us to survive. We made a choice and enrolled T.

This new school seems to be OK, but really, how do we know? We send him there and thoroughly quiz him when he gets home about his day, his teachers, and his friends and hope that nothing comes out that makes us regret our decision. I just wonder how accurate of a method that is when your child has a great imagination? For example:

T comes into the living room and tells me,"Tigger is all wet." Tigger is his stuffed animal.
"How did Tigger get all wet?", I asked.
"A big wave came out of the ceiling and went SPLASH all over him and made him all wet.", he tells me in all seriousness.
I tried to get more clarification on that to see if maybe the wave came from the bathroom sink, or toilet, since he just used the restroom. He stuck to his story about the ceiling. We washed Tigger anyway, just in case. 

It is even more difficult to send him to school, when dropping him off is heart wrenching. I took him there Friday, and going into the school was fine, but he never left my side while I was in there. When I needed to leave he was screaming,"No daddy, don't leave me here! Don't go!" If L had not taken him the day before and came back with a similar report I would have taken him right back home with me. But when L picked him up after school yesterday he was all happy and had a great day. I was worried anyway and asked L to pick him up early today just in case he was having a bad day. When she got there he was playing and again, having a good time. He even had a friend that he was playing with. 
I asked him today,"T, do you like school?"
"Yes."
"What is your favorite thing about school?" I ask. 
"Playing." he says. 
"What is your favorite thing to play?" 
"Fire trucks" he tells me. 
"Is there anything you don't like about school?" I ask wondeing if pandora's box may open and make me regret asking.
"Yes" 
"What don't you like?"
"I don't like when you leave, it makes me sad."

Sounds normal to me. He had this same type of problem at the other school from time to time. It just didn't seem so bad in the morning. I am hoping though it is the same type of thing. He is just having some attachment issues because it is very stressful going to a new school. It is a big change for someone who is only three years old. Since it took him a while to get used to his old school, I guess it will take a while for him and us as well to get used to the new school. I just can't help but wonder, if our country wasn't spending billions of dollars a day in Iraq would our economy be better and the budget cut would not have to have happened. 


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicken Farm Photos

There are those that are curious as to what a chicken farm looks like. That way they can have a picture in their mind of where we live and better understand the chicken farm stories. I want to try to use this blog to make a little picture story for you.


 

The first picture is looking down from our house towards the farm. You can see the shed/office on 

the right side. That is a small office building attached to the shed where we keep our John Deere tractor and tractor accessories like mower, blower, spreader, trailer. All those things that end in -er. On the left you see three of the six chicken houses we have. They are 40 feet wide and 500 feet long. Each one holds about 22,000 chickens. In this picture the doors are open because it is between flocks and we are cleaning it out and getting it set up for the next flock.


In the second picture you see inside the chicken house after we have cleaned it out, had pine shavings spread on the floor, laid down paper under the feed bowls, and dropped down the feed bowls and outside drinker lines. This is my favorite time of the flock. The houses smell very nice with all the pine shavings on the floor, and it is nice and level, and no worry about stepping on a chicken. Currently we are between flocks, but are still in the process of having the litter removed. After that I blow all the dust and cobwebs out of the house with a high powered blower that runs off the power from the tractor. Next, I call the shavings people and they back a truck into the house and drive it out, spreading shavings pretty evenly all over the floor. 


The next step is for the company to come and deliver the baby chicks to us. A large heated tuck comes filled with baskets of chicks. Each basket has 100 chicks in it. They take them off the truck and slide them onto our trailer. They put how ever many chicks will go into one house on the trailer and then we back the trailer into the house. Once in, the tractor driver, currently my dad, drives out of the house very slowly. 


As he drives forward the two guys who drove the truck to the farm and myself dump the chickens out of the basket onto the floor. There are a lot of baskets to dump out, so the tractor never stops going forward towards the door, and we never stop dumping the chickens onto the floor as quickly as we can. If the tractor stops it would allow the chicks to run under the wheels, so we can't stop. The chicks are dropped right next to the food, and once the trailer is out of the house drinker lines are lowered. There are four lines of drinkers and two lines of food. Also notice that between the bowls are piles of food.  For the first week the food gets dropped into the bowls and onto the floor twice a day. This allows all the birds to have access to food to get off to a good start. After the week is over the food only goes into the bowls to reduce waste. The chicks are big enough at that point to eat from the bowls. 


In this picture the chicks have grown. They are about five weeks old here. I can tell that because they are almost through molting. They have changed color from the cute yellow baby chicks into the white feathers of the adult chicken. If you look closer you may be able to see some of them still have yellow heads, which tells me they are not quite there yet. Usually around six weeks the yellow is completely gone. 


This picture shows the length of the house. At five weeks there is still plenty of room on the floor for them to move around. By the time they are eight and nine weeks old the floor is white from one end to the other and walking through the house is practically impossible, but still necessary.  The bight light at the end of the house comes from large tunnel fans which suck the air through the house. 



Finally, after about 63 days the chickens have grown to hopefully near an average of 8 pounds. I then get scheduled for a pick up. The company comes to the farm with two crews of workers, two fork lifts, and an unending flow of tractor trailers to carry the birds away. The crews go in and pick up the chickens by hand, placing them into cages which the fork lifts pick up when they are full and load onto the trailers. They work about four hours per house to empty about 21,000 chickens out. The crews typically do two houses and then are replaced by another crew. I believe a crew that goes into one house is about 8 people. So each guy in the crew picks up around 2,600 eight pound chickens and puts it in a cage. I would not want the job. 

They take them away, weight them, and process them. After that they give me an estimate for how many days I have before they bring my new chicks, and I get back to work cleaning the houses out and setting them up again. So that is a tour of our farm.