My cousin Sean stopped by for a few days in the first week of August. We did some recording again, but I was mostly too exhausted to do anything this time around. I was glad to offer up my recording services to him, though. There is no better feedback than listening to yourself, and most people do not get that opportunity. Recordings do not lie. Oftentimes they are too objective. If you are not your own harshest critic, then you probably have the wrong attitude.
After Colorado, I really did not want to go on another “vacation” this year. We decided to forgo the cabin in the woods vacation that we usually take with my extended family and instead drive down to see my family in Georgia.
The boys behaved impeccably on the way down and the way back up. In fact Henry would cry when we stopped to gas up or get out. We made it down in ten and a half hours and we made it back up in nine and a half. In time for dinner both ways. We had a lot of visits: a pool party at my Aunt’s, some time at the neighbor’s pub, a day spent at my brother’s, a trip to the petting zoo, and a pretty large gathering at my parents’ house. Stephen got to log some time playing with his second cousins and they did awesome! There wasn’t any of this lack of sharing nonsense that drove me crazy in Colorado. I guess maybe Stephen is learning to navigate interaction with other children. Stephen is pretty terrified of pools that he can’t stand up in, even though one of his cousins was swimming and jumping off the diving board with no life vest. He just stood on the steps for hours and squirted with a pool toy. We took Henry’s pack and play, noise maker, and baby monitor everywhere we went and he was able to get a nap every day in all sorts of different locations.
The night we got back, Stephen threw up in the tub. The next morning, Henry threw up his whole smoothie. The kids had hand, foot, and mouth disease, probably from the livestock at the petting zoo. Oops. Stephen had it much worse so my wife took him to urgent care. We have never been to urgent care so we had to search google maps for 20 minutes to find the closest one that was still open at 7pm. The doctor did not give him a diagnosis and gave him three prescriptions. By the way, you’re just supposed to let hand, foot, and mouth disease run its course. I hate doctors.
The sad truth that I am starting to understand is that Henry can only do as well as I do in a given situation. I’m somewhere between an old soul, a stick in the mud, and a homebody. I like old things that are tried and tested. I like being home around all my stuff. Driving my preferred route to Georgia still fits into the homebody comfort zone. It’s the house I grew up in, after all. I grew up taking long trips in a car with nothing but music and my imagination to soothe me.
I am so far behind on editing and posting pictures. I’m trying to make this site a permanent, searchable photo album. As long as I eventually slog through it, I’ll be okay. The recency effect makes things slightly more interesting, and I’m seriously lacking that right now.
I’ve finally done it. There is no TV or movie watching in this house. Ever! (At least not until the boys go to bed, but don’t tell them). If you ask Stephen if he wants to watch something, he will even turn it down. He’d rather pretend to play Plants vs. Zombies – wearing different hats while trudging around the house or making up new pea shooters that don’t exist in the game. I give them each 30 minutes of “screen time” (the lame parenting term for playing with touch screen devices) in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. We do, however, listen to A LOT of music. I have an audio station in the front room of the house that has an iPod, laptop, and turntable hooked up to large speakers. At least once a day, I load a KidsTV123 Playlist and turn the laptop monitor off so it’s just the music coming through the speakers. We’ve also been digging this Edward Sharpe audio.
We got Stephen a magnetic chore chart and it’s going very well. He’s setting the table, doing the laundry and dishes with me, cleaning up his toys, and feeding the dogs. Actually it went very well for two weeks and then we left on our trip. We’re slowly getting him back into it.
May 22, 2013
Let’s start off this month’s wrap-up with some paranoia, shall we? I’ve been looking into non-lethal home defense stuff for a couple of weeks now. Actually, the first time I started looking into this was about a year ago, and it was because of a Bill Burr bit. Now my interests have been re-stoked after watching, sure enough, Bill Burr’s latest appearance on Conan. Anyhow, basically what I’m looking for is “how can I incapacitate a gunman without owning a gun myself?” The short answer: good luck. Regardless of mine or anyone else’s stance on guns, keeping a loaded gun in the closet is simply not an option with kids around. And keeping around an unloaded gun (or a disassembled shotgun, a loaded gun in a gun safe, whatever) does almost nothing to protect you in a home invasion. Most of my ideas go back to trickery: buy a 12 gauge shotgun with no ammunition and just scare people off by cocking it (like that would actually work). Load up a junked truck with NRA stickers and put it in the driveway… just something to make the bad guys go “I’ll pass.” Obviously those aren’t solutions. :) The real solutions are more like a high-powered CO2 bb gun with a billion rounds or a giant can of pepper spray that hikers carry when they are in grizzly country. So anyway, I’ve been searching around and it has led me to some pretty weird websites. Lots of camouflage.
Stephen has reached the perfect age. The age I have been waiting for. We play a pretty elaborate imaginary “restaurant” game where he is the server/owner/chef/bus boy and I am the patron. He cuts up his fake plastic food, puts it on a plate, and gets me a drink. He’s extra polite while he does this and awaits my order with his hands folded behind his back. He talks about how cool his restaurant is because “we use books as plates and we have robot menus.” He’s referring to his robot sticker book that he uses as his menu.
We toured a preschool and signed Stephen up. He’ll be going six hours a week from September through June.
We’ve started the long process of transitioning Henry into a bed from which he can escape. I took every single thing out of his room. I mean everything — dresser, shelves, pictures off the walls, stuff out of the closet, the closet doors themselves, everything. Then I converted his crib into a bed and pretty much locked him in his room at bed time. Last night was the first try. Seems like he ran around happily and acted crazy from 7:30-8:30 and was awake until 9:30. Then he slept all night on the floor with no pillow or blanket. Silly child. But today he napped in the bed using both his blanket and his pillow.
The 4th of July in this neighborhood is simply awesome. I don’t know what the local ordinances are regarding fireworks, but the people in my neighborhood are surely breaking the law. The guy directly behind us must have set off $1500 worth of fireworks that night. Big booming explosions towering over the trees for more than an hour. I knew they were done when I heard them get out the leaf blower to clean up the debris in the cul-de-sac. The next two years are the prime days for July 4th (Friday and Saturday, respectively) and we plan to have a big party at least one of those years. It’s like standing directly beneath a small city’s fireworks show with no crowd to deal with.
My birthday trip was the last weekend in July and it was fantastic. We stayed in a stand-alone house at the bed and breakfast that used to be the owner’s art studio. A tiny two-floor thing with a king bed and a nice bathroom (with Jacuzzi) upstairs. Downstairs had an easel, paper, and some art supplies. Unfortunately some dummy had written “Caroline hearts Ben” with pastels on every single page. I didn’t know fourteen year olds could get their own room at a bed and breakfast. Outside was a patio that looked out onto the small pond made by the spring. Someone dammed up the flow from the spring a while back and it makes a nice waterfall right outside of the house. So close to the house, it could be a mill (in fact I think our room was called “the mill by the spring” or something like that).
Not only was the place nice, but the surrounding area was really cool. Hadn’t been to Winchester (Est. 1752) in a while, and never for leisure. Nice place with an old-timey feel. Also it’s orchard country, so everywhere we went, we had to drive past and through orchards. And we were only an hour from home. So many nice things within an hour of here in all directions. We are an hour or less from rural Maryland, West Virginia, Winchester, the Shenandoah Valley, and Washington DC. This trip got me thinking that we should try to buy some land here, maybe ten or more acres. In my opinion you need at least five acres for privacy. My wife brought up the obvious flaw in this plan: we would have to pay for it. Oh yeah. Even still, I’m looking for some land around here before it all gets swallowed up. It would be so nice to have a totally private, treed-in lot while still being in the same amazing school district and all of that. We shall see.