Six Months…

As of today, my daughter is six months old. Half a year. And it almost slipped my mind. The wife and I have been coming to grips with our son’s Kindergarten situation, and we’re wanting to move quickly for his sake.
But back to the little lady. She’s gone from this:

To this:

Before my very eyes. I hardly even saw it coming. She’s now giggling, and smiling, and rolling, and looking at everything. There’s a little personality taking shape in there, too. She doesn’t laugh at me much, but her brother is a riot.

Those Big Little Moments…

Yesterday was my son’s last day of preschool. It was slowly hitting me as I picked him up for the last time. He’s done. No more daycare for him. He will move onto the big time this Fall. Kindergarten is an incredibly exciting future.
But that moment had the parental twinge of hesitation. The cliché springs into mind in some form, he’ll never be this little again. It’s a constant gas-brake-gas in bumper to bumper traffic as a parent. Every time you get into a groove, the kid grows into something new and you have to stop and readjust then have to hit the gas all over again.

The lad hugged all his classmates and teachers goodbye. He knew he might not see any of them again, since he’s going to kindergarten in another district. But still the moment was lost on him, I think. He was bounding down the hallway and out the door just as he would any other day.

And strangely enough, life went on. It always does. There is a whole new batch of things to prepare for. The Lad needs a full set of school supplies (which will be huge and is very specific. I’ll post it when I unearth it from our pile of mail.)

And then there’s the Lass. She keeps eating and growing, blabbering on and on, telling me what-for, and when school and work are back in force, she will be in daycare. That’s a whole other trauma I’ll post about when it happens. Because, she’s my little baby girl, damnit, and I don’t want someone else watching her grow during the day.

Quoth…

From my four year old son, right now:
“Dad, we’re eating out?”

“Yeah, we’re going to eat at Target.”

“Aawwww!” (grumbles off)

At this point he’s playing on the floor for a minute.

“Butt-Head!”

“Excuse you!?”

I turn around as I say this… to see him tapping his head against a fort made of boxes.

Quickly trying to regain a modicum of composure, “I’ve told you not to use your head like that!”

My wife was laughing hysterically (her words) the entire time. I think the lad may have been right the first time.

PAHO, Part III…

[Continued from Yesterday.]
While getting the lad his first meal since swallowing a play penny, my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my mum this time. She was calling to tell me she and my dad were on their way to bury my granddad’s remains. He died last fall and was cremated, it has just taken some time to coordinate everyone who was to attend the burial at the family plot near Lake Berryessa.

Mum just wanted to see if in the next couple of hours I wanted to have them say a little something on my behalf out there. Well, okay. I’ll do my best with a fussy baby in my arms and a penny in my boy’s stomach. I suppose the fussy baby part was my fault for testing our alarms.

Finally, finally, finally it was nap time. I was in the middle of feeding the lass, so the lad was on his own for getting settled in. When he’s on the ball, he’s amazingly self-sufficient. Thankfully, that was the case. He got himself into bed, read for a while, then turned off his light and laid down. For all the insane stuff he does, he can be truly amazing.

Fed and happy, the little lady was passed out in my arms. The time seemed as good as any to come up with what I wanted to say to Granddad. But rather than writing down something to have read, I decided to record my own message. Here is where cell phone technology can be a wonderful thing.

I recorded my voice to be played back at the appropriate time. I simply said that I was glad that he had a chance to meet his great-grandson and I hoped he knew his great-granddaughter was on the way. And I promised that my children will love riding the rails as I do, a trait that he passed to me and that I am proud to pass to his descendants.

Admittedly, it took me a few takes to get the recording right. I kept getting somewhat choked up, particularly since I was recording all this while holding his great-grandbaby in my arms. Eventually I got it to where I wanted and sent it to my mum. I knew she could handle it since we try to send her recordings of the lass when we can.

I was really surprised at how strongly the moment struck me. It had been some time since Granddad passed, so my mourning subsided. However, I think the idea of saying goodbye orally, but not there in person, made it tougher. These are the times that make it tough to live so far from my side of the family.

Having sent my message and my children napping, I felt it would be a good idea to eat something. I warmed up some tortillas and started snacking. The peace was nice. Just me in my kitchen.

My cell buzzed again. Bad plot device, anyone? The doctor’s office was calling to schedule an appointment. Apparently after checking over the boy’s information, the doctor wanted him to come in to talk to him and check him out directly. So I cut nap time short and loaded up the kids to the doctor’s office.

We were there maybe twenty minutes. I really like our pediatrician, and I did appreciate him wanting to see us anyway, knowing our son is prone to not showing as severe symptoms as other kids would. At least we weren’t waiting around forever and the chat with the doctor was good. He was just really heavily debating whether x-rays should be taken. The concern was nice, but we decided it was unnecessary. We were all pretty certain that it was just a plastic penny that would pass.

The remainder of the day was wonderfully uneventful. My mum called again to tell me that all went well and was lovely for Granddad’s interment. She said my message came out nicely and that most people heard it. I was glad to be a part of it in some small way.

After dinner, I went to my favorite liquor store to pick up some wine. I picked a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Louis M Martini, properly grown in St Helena. I toasted to Granddad with my wife and a good glass of wine. Then I set to work on this huge post that, for the reader’s sake, I broke into three parts.

I made it through this short, yet incredibly thick muddle of my life. It sometimes amazes me that I do. Usually I am not very orderly or clean, and always feeling dangerously under-qualified for the position. And rarely, especially right now, do I have empty time enough to sit and ponder it all.

C’est la vie~

PAHO, Part II…

[Continued from Yesterday.]
Finally we get to today. It started out normally, I got the boy off to school and the little lady and I did our morning routine of watching The Daily Showon my DVR (Best. Purchase. Ever.) during her breakfast. I don’t mind that routine of feeding her while getting an easy dose of Stewart and/or Colbert is nice. They are definitely the only TV news I watch.

I had put in a load of laundry before taking the lad to school. When coming home to check on it, the laundry room was flooded. A-bleeping-gain. Apparently, the mighty power of my socks and unmentionables was too much for the washer to bear. It whanged itself into the neighboring basin well enough to knock the sponge on the ledge into the basin, plugging it up, blocking the washer’s only drain.

Again.

So the washer’s backup drain, the basement drain, came in handy. Of course, there’s the issue that the basement isn’t exactly beveled toward that drain. Have I mentioned I have some things to work on in my house?

Moving on… A couple hours later, my cell buzzed. M was on the line. “Hey, Hon. The daycare just called.”

“Oh?” Oh crap, what trouble is the boy in now?

“He swallowed a penny.”

Silence. Then my mind raced. Is he okay? I’m sure he’s okay. Next big questions: Really? How? Is he really that stupid? You sure it’s my kid?

“Okay… So now what?”

Well, M told the daycare I would be getting the boy, and called the triage nurse at our clinic to find out whether we’d be heading toward the clinic or the emergency room. I got the little lady changed and out the door.

I nearly forgot to mention, when my wife called I was in the midst of tearing out the second of the two alarms, and installing the new one. Of course, as with so many great features of our house, the old one was mounted with only one screw. Goody bloody gumdrops, I needed to take yet another trip to the hardware store. This time, to buy a screw. A screw that should already be there.

With daughter in car seat and screw in my pocket, I came into the daycare office to see my son chatting away with the manager and one of the teachers on break. The first words out of the lad’s mouth were, “I’m not in trouble. I choked on a penny.”

I really think Bill Watterson said it best: “Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time.”

After getting more of the story, I loaded back up the car with both he and his sister. She fell asleep, and since I was waiting to hear back from the triage nurse, I decided that driving around was the best option. I know it’s not the most eco-friendly, but I work with what I’ve got in this stage of parenthood. This basically translates to, ‘If it’ll make my baby sleep, I’ll spray aerosol cans into the air for two hours straight.’

I got more information from my son. Apparently, they were playing outside. He got in trouble for fighting with two other boys (the little cretin) as a game. Apparently, as they were headed in, another kid gave him a toy penny. Being without pockets, where’s the best place to hide a plastic penny? Your mouth, of course! You keep your clenched fist in a dozen-kid kerfuffle to yourself. Taking a drink of water, while still concealing the penny in his yap, my son swallowed it down.

Brilliant.

Still driving around the neighborhood, thoughts rattled in my head. The triage nurse hasn’t called me back. My son is breathing, talking, and ignoring me. The lass is asleep. And I need a screw from the hardware store.

So let it be known, dear reader, that after picking up my four year old boy from school for swallowing a play penny, I went to Menard’s. Yes, California folk, Menard’s is huge out here in ‘Sota. Huge. And yes, the name is still funny to me after two years of living out here.

I plopped the girl’s car seat onto the stroller, took Ignoring Boy in hand, and drug them around the hardware store in a desperate attempt to find exactly the same screw as the one I put in my pocket an hour before. I pulled it off, thankfully finding the small box of screws for 87 cents rather than the big box for five bucks.

Getting home and still no word from the nurse, I went ahead and called them back myself and got through to one. The nurse asked me about what exactly happened and went through the boy’s symptoms. There weren’t any, of course. He was bouncing around and talking with his sister. Then she had me call poison control to get more information on what could come out of the play penny. Since it was plastic, there were only concerns about it getting lodged, not poison. A real penny would be an issue. So it was decided that the lad did not need to go in to see the doctor and I would just be checking poop for a few days.

So I got the boy some lunch and I wrapped up installing the new alarms. I’ve gotten pretty good at replacing electric fixtures, and the alarms weren’t much trouble, once you have the right alarms and correct number of screws. However, testing them was another issue. The tests were fine, and the basement now yells out whether it detects a fire or carbon monoxide. However, some little ladies don’t much care for the sound of the new alarms. So it became a bit of a trial to relax her after twice testing the alarms (they interconnected, so if you test one, the other will fire as well to ensure they’re talking.)

[To Be Concluded…]

Parenthood, Adulthood, and Home Ownership…

Here’s a recap of my week, which should be over by now, but it’s only Wednesday bloody evening.
On Monday night, we all snuggled into our beds for some rest. At 1:45, a loud and terrible buzzing rang out throughout the house. Disoriented and worried, my wife and I got out of bed to find the source. It took us a bit to figure it out, as it was a sound neither of us had heard before. It was the smoke detectors going off.

There was no reason. Looking around, no smoke, no flames, nothing. In my groggy state, I even turned on the television to see if there were some rolling power surges messing things up. I also checked out the windows to see if neighbors were having issues. Of course, none.

Looking back now, I apparently originally thought that the source of the sound was either the thermostat (I flipped some switches on it and for a brief time the sound stopped) and the doorbell chime box. I did not look up high enough while in my impaired state to figure out it was the smoke alarm on the ceiling above those two devices. M went downstairs to take care of the lad who had finally awoken and started to cry. The lass handled all the chaos better than I thought she would.

Sleeping after all that was essentially not an option. Not only were we a little high-strung after the whole event (goodness knows my heart was pounding like nothing I’ve ever known), but the lad joined us in our bed. I have never been able to sleep with a small wriggling creature constantly kicking me around my groin or bum. Go figure. I eventually gave up as I usually do and slept on the floor next to the bed to get a couple measly hours of sleep.

The boy did not sleep a wink since the alarm. Still, he wanted to head off to school, so we did our morning routine of getting he and the lad ready and shoved off. Thankfully, the little lady up and slept hard after dropping off her brother, and thankfully again, the big ol’ hardware store was open as of 6:30 in the morning (good gravy that’s early). So she and I went and bought two new smoke alarms, the main thinking behind this being that even if the current ones worked, the sound was so horrendous and unidentifiable that it still justified their replacement.

The lass and I went about our normal business after that, namely me writing down all the ideas I have for work around the house and eventual remodels. Well, I started writing them all down. As it turns out, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. But that list is for another time. Probably many times. Seriously, it’s a huge list.

Later that evening, once my wife came home and we were all relaxing, I started fiddling with our circuit breakers to find the one that connected to the smoke detectors. As it turned out, my breakers hadn’t been updated since 1987 when my house was built, and a good four of them were described on the chart inside the box door as ‘Lights’. There was even another double breaker not even marked! I didn’t dare test it for fear of turning off the Metrodome.

Here began much trial and error and a Sharpie to illuminate the knowledge gleaned for the future. At least I got to the point of finding the correct breaker for the alarms, though at the expense of my microwave’s clock for the time. I set to work and broken open the God-awful plastic packaging on the new alarms. I felt like I was trying to rip off a CD player. That line, by the way, almost makes me feel like I’m dating myself, but then I’ve been watching fifteen year old Simpsons episodes, so I don’t right care.

Once up the stool, taking apart the old system and preparing to put in the new, I beheld… Wait, what the hell? This new one doesn’t connect to wires? I’m entrusting my home and family to a circle powered by a AA battery? Hell no. I bought the wrong damn alarms. I was absolutely pissed with myself. I’m getting annoyed with myself just remembering it.

I went back and bought new ones that night. But since it was after dark and I, strangely enough, was tired, I left it for the next day. This, my dear reader, was a mistake. I kept awaking all night at the slightest noise, thinking that alarm from Hades was going to eat my cats.

[To Be Continued…]

Part of the Moment…

My apologies to my dear dozen readership. I would have blogged before, during, and immediately following Barack Obama’s ascension to the Democratic nomination. But not only did I have class, but I was hungry afterward.
I nearly made it to see the event in St Paul. I almost heard, live and in person, Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. However, I decided to be a good boy and stay in class rather than ditch for the rock concert. I regret it, and I always will.

Obama started speaking just as I began to drive home. I hung on every word. The man was fired up and nearly had me cheering alone in my car on the highway. He was as classy as ever in giving his opponent her due credit.

There were moments, though. Amazing moments. Moments from his voice to my ears. Moments that can be harnessed into a source of energy. And these moments are not him pushing us into action; they are moments that awaken and evoke the very core of our own motivation.

Obama made a pledge tonight to not campaign on a platform of fear. Hearing that made my heart soar. I have never been afraid. And I’ve been made sick seeing others so gripped by propagandized, irrational fear for nearly seven years. That promise to run without injecting despair made the crowd roar. I had never heard such a noise erupt even while the orator is still having to shout themselves over the crowd.

And then there are the ties of this moment to history. Obama brought that in as well. I feel somewhat that Western cultures miss out a bit on the idea of invoking ancestors. We are here because of the battles they fought, and it should be known that we have that strength within us as well. Obama does not campaign on his ego, he campaigns on what he knows and believes that Americans are capable of.

This is a moment we all can be proud of. For the Greatest Generation, they can have one more moment to add to so many that they have given to produce a better world. For the Baby Boomers, they can have a moment of redemption that, even with all the nonsense they were involved in, that their social revolutions have come to fruition. And most of all, for we Generation Xers, so they can believe that they are indeed capable of doing something great as their predecessors have done.

When I got home, before sitting in front of the computer to write, I stared for a minute at my sleeping infant daughter. I know I’ve written on it before, but I still cannot imagine the world she and my son will grow up in. With the people doing right by themselves, my daughter will come to know a world where a black man has already been President.

That thought is the ultimate reminder that we are a part of this moment, and that this moment is a part of history. I may not have been there in person, but I will remember this moment when we had been told that yes we can, and yes we indeed did.

My Democratic Party Explanation…

I can only imagine that people slightly out of the loop, namely those who enjoy actually living their lives, cannot quite follow what the Democratic Party was up to yesterday. Normally the world couldn’t care what their Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) does. So why did it make such a big deal yesterday?
Actually, it is tied to what happened back at the beginning of the Primary election season. Michigan and Florida decided to hold their primary elections earlier than was scheduled. Well, not so much the states. Each state has its own branch of the Democratic Party, and there is a national branch as well. The national branch sets the time-table for all these primary elections (practically one set every Tuesday for six grueling months). So it was the states’ branches of the party that decided they would hold their votes early and the national branch said that violates the rules (set by the RBC) and so your votes won’t count at all.

The candidates then did not campaign within Michigan and Florida, knowing that the rules set were have those votes not count toward any delegates. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Clintons didn’t ‘campaign’, but they held ‘fundraising events’. Obama did not campaign, though I did read that apparently he was a swine, too, and campaigned outside the states. (No kidding? How do you think he’s still winning?) Obama, to show accordance with those rules, even took himself off the ballot in Michigan. I do not know why he did not do the same in Florida. I speculate it was because the Clintons ‘fundraised’ there.

Sorry, I meant to refrain from opining until the end of this. The whole situation bugs me.

So that was what happened months ago. This meeting of the RBC yesterday was to determine how, if at all, those two states should have their delegates seated (counted) at the convention. The states’ branches of the party have been vying for their votes to count. This has also been a major argument for the Clintons’ campaign.

I guess the word is that fanatics from both candidates’ camps have been going nuts outside this meeting of the RBC. For the Clintons, this was a huge argument for staying in the race at all. For Obama, it was better that the states not be seated, but if they were, then they should be sure to apportion the delegates fairly.

What the committee ultimately decided on was something similar to how the Republican Party works: states that violate the rules get only half the seated delegates they would normally be apportioned. In this case, Florida was easy. The delegates were apportioned according to how the voting went there, and then the numbers are cut in half for the convention.

Michigan was the real battleground for compromise because Obama was not on the ballot (sort of in its stead was ‘Uncommitted’). What was ultimately decided was that the Clintons would have almost their entire delegate count, minus four. Those four, and the remainder of the state’s delegates, would go to Obama.

Why go that way? Precisely because his name did not appear on the ballot. He undoubtedly would have won a larger percentage of the vote had he been there. A large number of people, having not seen Obama, would have selected their second-favorite, the Clintons. Or, knowing their candidate was not on the ballot, stayed home.

In the end, the Clintons got their majority of seated delegates, 87 to Obama’s 63. This is with both states added together and cut in half. Obama is still leading in all categories, with his pledged delegate lead shrunk back to 174.

Now it’s time for me.

This whole debate seems ridiculous to me, and the decision to seat Michigan and Florida delegates is a poor one. I will say this, though: the way the RBC decided to seat these states was fair to my eyes. And I do understand where some of the argument is coming from.

It is somewhat politically viable for these states to be seated since they are so large and important in the general election. However, I find that is ill-conceived reasoning. This decision affects only Democrats’ views, the huge majority of which wouldn’t dream of voting Republican this or any year. Plus, the outcome does next to nothing to change the balance of the campaign. But hey, that’s what the Clintons are for, right? Dragging anyone and everyone through the mud. I do so miss the ’90s.

Still, the original rules and decision laid out by the early Florida and Michigan votes were what they were. All the candidates were aware of this, and planned their campaigns accordingly. And, bigger still, the voters were aware of this, and planned their staying at home accordingly.

Yes, I do not care for this decision because of disenfranchising those who followed the rules and did not bother to vote. I know I would not have. Why get out and vote knowing my vote would not count or my preferred candidate wouldn’t even be on the ballot? I can only imagine the person voting would be geriatric, being swayed by a colored man or the ‘only chance to vote for a woman’ and accidentally voting for Buchanan all over again (James, not Pat).

Okay, that line was a little crude. And obscure at the end there. My apologies.

But I think it also reflects poorly on the Democratic Party. Who could put their trust in a system that changes its own election rules in the middle of an election? I think it portrays them as bad bureaucrats. Admittedly, that won’t change anything, because voting for Stalin would look like viable change compared to our days since 2001.

And my God do the Clintons and their campaign annoy me. Not only do they run a terrible campaign that proves they are unfit to sit atop our executive system, but they say this sort of thing (from a CNN article, emphasis is mine):

[We] strongly object to the committee’s decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan’s delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.

Are they nuts? Their own party just broke its own rules for them and they are complaining about it!? The truly rule-abiding way to go would have been to not seat these states at all. Sheesh. So I leave you all on this little ditty my son was idly singing in the background (and no, no coaching from me. He doesn’t even know there is a President or an election).

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.