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Random Dadding Thoughts

Believe me, I've tried, but moving slow while at home with the kids simply does not work. There's no time for sluggishness. The more you put stuff off, the more it piles up on you, the more you have to hurry and scurry, the more stress builds up. Seems a bit like boot camp. Boot camp lite. But it lasts for several years.

The best thing to say to a baby in a high chair, who's throwing food around and getting all messy, or to a toddler who's taken to whining like a fish to water, is: "Might I venture to point out, madam, that I wouldn't mind if you didn't do that anymore." And you have to say it like Jeeves.

Can u put badassspeakers on a macbook? that would be cool. Mine lack bass. My daughters are getting a second-rate metal education when I play all my music through Spotify, sans bass!

I've got a buttload of homework to do! Let me try to summarize:
--It's my turn to lead a class discussion today, along with my boy Doug E. Fresh. The topic is online social networking.
   * PowerPoint presentation
   * Gotta be able to talk for 10 minutes.
   * Blog post beforehand--premiliminary
   * Blog post afterward--reflection (but that's not due till Friday)
--General homework for Blogging:
   * Find a Wikipedia entry with an error.
   * Find a source containing the correction. (in class we will make Wikipedia usernames and edit the entry, w/citation)
   * Study for the first class quiz.
--Sample questions for the quiz:
   * What are three examples of Web 2.0 technology?
   * What are three (there are more than three) characteristics of a blog?
   * What are the differences between copyright and public domain?
   * What is a symmetrical relationship in a network? (Think Facebook)
   * Digital technologies fundamentally change our world in three specific ways. What are they?
   * What is a switching cost?
   * How are digital products like public goods?
--Study for Spanish test tomorrow.

So. This will be interesting. I've been running around the house this morning, taking care of the kids and doing chores, and working on all this whenever I have a spare minute.

BB is finally asleep, which gave me time to type this blog entry out. Lucy is a good girl about playing by herself and giving me some space. It took a while, but she's getting older. It was eventual.

Oh, and last night I was at the library from 3 till 11, with periodic food breaks.

BB is can pull herself up onto her feet now, and is talking the baby babble. So precious I think I might melt.


Lucy's Eating Toast

My kids. They sure do get old. My love for them hits me in waves.

"The light is broken," Lucy just said. The cutest.

She's eating a piece of toast and drinking milk.

I let her play with water in the sink today. She loves to fill and empty different containers, like bowls and empty baby bottles and cups, making dirty dishes into playthings. Cheap, right?

Today, after I let her play 10 minutes with a trickle, I began to think of all the places in the world without ready access to running water. So I asked her, from the other room, to turn it off and be all done. She complied, and continued to play with the water left in all her containers, dumping from one to another over and over again. When I came into the kitchen a little later, I found she had put all the rinsed dishes, free of excess water, up on the counter, leaving the sink empty. Is this girl trained or what?

My little Beans. Megan was getting ... oh my baby woke up. Jealous that BB was also a little Beans, cause it was Lucy's name and BB should get her own. So I made one up. The Bears! She makes bears, too. Little brown ones. Sometimes nutty.

Wittw BB Beaws

Testing Me
Another development in Lucy is the tendency to start testing me, to see just how much saying, "No," and protesting she can get away with. Today I didn't get mad; I just told her to put her face on the door. Two minutes. No fuss, no muss. It wasn't exactly over after that, but by that time I'd had BB down for a nap and I could play with Lu.

It's all about compromise, you know? The older kid wants attention that the little one needs. It's the attention the older one used to get from me.

I'm gonna take them both outside now. My last snowy park trip with them has me all inspired. I took them out two days ago, too!

In other news, I got into my blogging class. The decision was postponed for a week because of the straight week of snow days. Yesterday, before class, whilst stressing, I looked up my student file thing online, and there it was--I was enrolled.

Even better--this means financial aid disbursement!



A Rare Snowy Park Trip

I had a great time with my girls two nights ago. We went to the park and played in the snow!

It was about five p.m. when Megan and Lucy began talking about going outside to play in the snow. Megan asked me if I wanted to stay with BB at home, or come with them. After sorting my unhappy coffee-jittery moodiness out, it became clear to me that the Michigander inside myself absolutely can not resist an invitation to go outside and play in the snow with kids.

It only took about a half hour to get ready :), kids and all. It was cold outside! The evening was already progressing, as these January days get dark early. The kids were both bundled up, looking all cute with red noses and rosy cheeks. Lucy and BB both expressed discomfort with the temperature at regular intervals, but who wouldn't expect them to?

We walked around the block to Cowen Park, where we found a crowd of sledders moving quickly and slowly, depending on sled type, down a hill with a snow-weathered path. There were totally dirt patches showing up. When we get snow around here, the sledders flock to it, and there never seems to be enough snow to go around.

So we hung around the sledders' general vicinity, and I made a snowman! It was great. I haven't rolled a snowball around in the snow for a long time. I'd forgotten all about it--how it gets bigger as it goes, how it picks up snow as it goes, and picks up more snow the heavier it gets, yet becomes harder to roll, and how hard it is to lift the middle and head pieces to place them!

It looked a bit funny, my snowman. Definitely not spherical shapes going on there, and no carrots or coal to define features. Some older kids (read: my age) had made a snow goddess with leaves over the boobs and branches of long hair. There were a few much better snowmen around.

So after I finished my androgynous snow abomination, I walked with Lucy a little closer to the sledders. She started to do this (you can see my androgynous snow abomination in the background):

Shortly after this, we found a lone yellow circle saucer sled by a tree. Lucy sat right down on it and wanted to go, and I didn't see anyone hurrying over to claim it, so I sent her down the hill on it! Way too much fun. It was her very first time sledding.

Since the snow was so beaten down, and her sled was not very slippery, and the hill isn't steep, I had to give her periodic pushes all the way down. After the second time up and down, I was getting pretty tired, and Lucy was starting to realize the futility of trying to go fast. The older kids with better sleds were inspiring her and making her jealous.

doesn't look too big here...
Megan had been watching us the whole time, wearing BB on her chest and talking with another mom at the top of the hill. Lucy and I split off at that point, as her and mama went over to my snowman, and I went off to find a piece of the field with nice, soft, rollable snow. Finding it, I proceeded to roll a bigger, better snowman.

It was getting really dark by that point, so Megan took BB home, and Lucy stayed with me at the park. we added perspective
Being outside with the kids almost felt new; it had been so long. The addition of BB in our lives has made park outings twice as difficult. Nay, thrice!

Anyway, I proceeded to make a huge base for my snowman, and a slightly smaller middle piece. When it was time to lift the third one on there, I set it down too hard, and broke the middle piece in half!

My arms then being in a jellied state, Lucy and I walked to the playground, where a group of high schoolers and early 20-somethings had engaged in a snowball fight. After hanging out on the icy jungle gym and going super-fast down curly and straight icy slides, the snowball fight was edging closer and closer. It was getting dark and cold anyway; I used it as an excuse to drag her out of there with me.

And today, January 21, the snow is all melting, school is returning to normal operating hours, and that experience described above will most likely prove to be our only snowy park experience for the whole year. Goodbye, 2012 snow! We'll be patiently enduring the rain until next time ....


SOPA / PIPA Protest Day -- synopsis, starter guide

Today, all I have to do is sit back and watch my world get covered in snow.

No school today! So today I'm going to try to blog and record some music.

What to blog about, hmmm. Well, this site IS called Retaining Metalhood Thru Dadhood. It would stand to reason that I should blog about my kids, but...

This SOPA / PIPA thing is really stressing me out, ever since I watched this video from Vimeo. Also, Wikipedia is blacked out today, along with a handful of other sites.

Check out the homepages of GoogleWordpress, Reddit, Craigslist, and Mozilla today. They've blacked out content on their front pages, or their entire sites, in protest.

The best SOPA / PIPA protest page I've seen thus far is The Oatmeal.

Read a little more about it here, at The Verge (the article I got most of my info from for this blog post).

Twitter hash tags to search:
#sopaprotest #pipaprotest #onlineblackout


Music Makes Lucy Cry

My BB is the bashfulest. It’s the cutest. Her dimples are the deepest. Her eyes are the biggest.

Sometimes when I make eye contact, she blushes and turns her whole head to the ground, bending her back and folding almost in half. Without seeing the front of her face, I can tell when she’s smiling by looking at whether her dimples are sucking in.

An issue I’ve been wanting to blog about for some time now concerns Lucy’s reaction to certain pieces of music.

Where did it all start… it may have been the Star Trek: Voyager opening theme. I’ve been watching the show on Netflix for several months, and somewhere near the beginning of my voyage, BB, Lucy, Megan and I were all in the living room. Voyager's opening theme begins playing, and I see Lucy’s eyes get a little wet and red. Her mouth begins to contort. I can see her trying not to cry. As the song reached its climax, the floodgates opened with a full-on, open-mouth wail.

It was awesome. I felt proud of her somehow. Megan and I made sure to give her lots of hugs and tell her it's okay, that that song is indeed a sad one. I didn't want her to think she was having the wrong reaction.

That song used to make me tear up too, until I saw it for the umpteenth time and its effect on me was overstretched.

Fast-forward to two days ago—Lucy wanted to watch her Baby Einstein dvd. It’s the “Baby Shakespeare” episode, which contains versions of several pieces of classical music. The tunes are played with more kid-friendly instruments. It sounds like they were played through a toy music box and vibes and stuff, replacing the harsher horns and strings.

As the closing credits roll, a version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony plays. A beautiful piece of music, it is. Let me cast the scene—high noon, Lucy and I on the couch. I’m leaning forward, sitting on the edge, helping BB stand on the floor. The song begins playing, and Lucy comes over behind me, kneels down, leans on my back, and hugs me from behind. She must have had a face full of my hair, but she just stayed there for a few seconds, which is uncharacteristic of her. Usually when she does this, it means she wants me to lean back and squish her against the back of the couch. But after a few seconds, she starts wailing!

So there I was with two hands on the baby, unable to let go, with a sobbing 2.8-year-old crying on my back. It was funny, and heartbreaking. I gave Lucy lots of cuddles after that, and mom came home for lunch right then to double the cuddles.

Underneath my alpha male, supermodel, bodybuilder's veneer, I’m an emotional guy, just like all dudes. We're conditioned to hide it from a very young age. It’s not the fault of the parents any more than it’s the fault of society at large; parents are a part of society; society wants boys to be rough and tough, and girls to be weak and emotional. Often this social encouragement creates the opposite effect. Studies have shown males to be more emotional and romantic about relationships, for example, than females. Women have been found to often view a relationship as something practical rather than emotionally fulfilling. They also break up with men more than the opposite. This is not true across the board, but it happens frequently.

So no matter how we try and mask it, we're all emotional, and we all pass it down to our kids. The cycle continues.

It’s a touch surprising when someone, especially a non-musician, cries in reaction to a strong musical piece. But when you add a visual to the music, especially a moving picture, the human brain is tricked, somehow, into registering a greater emotional response, overriding the brain’s logical portion. I don’t exactly have a scientific handle on how it works, but my communications professor mentioned it in class last week, and it made sense. Advertisers will test audience reaction to ads in the making by attaching nodes to the viewers’ skin. How better to gauge emotional response? Goose bumps don’t lie. This gives television designers the power to make really, really moving content, out of thin air. They can make us cry at a commercial for football or some other such base product, because they know how to play on our emotions.

I feel bad for my poor Lucy, when she finds herself crying and doesn’t know why. There’s not much we can tell her, except that it’s okay. I also feel happy for her that she's experiencing this feeling at all. It's important to realize what's important enough to you to make you cry.

Since then, Lucy has also cried at a song contained in her toy house that sings, a simple goodnight song. It only happened once; now she loves it.

Let me tell you a story about myself, from my childhood. An embarrassing story; I was embarrassed then, and it’s weird telling it now, which is why you’ll have to read on, right? We have to stop and stare at train wrecks, or the car crashed on the side of the freeway, even when it holds up traffic.

I was probably somewhere between eight and 10 years old. Sitting in the big red chair in the basement of my parents’ house, watching professional wrestling on tv. It was mid-day, and I think I was home from school for some reason. Dad was at work, Ian was elsewhere, and I had the tv room to myself. Sweet, blessed privacy with the tv--I could watch whatever crap I wanted without having to compromise with anyone else. 

It was a segment about Hulk Hogan. Who did he work for, WWF or WCW? Anyway, it was an emotionally-charged montage of Hogan’s seemingly-final match in the ring, one that he lost, and ended him up (or his character) in the hospital. The tone of the montage was grave, conveying that he might die from his injuries. The music was epic, sad and cinematic. There were shots of audience members looking on, afraid. I remember one shot of a woman, who looked very much like a lot of the rednecks I lived among in northern Michigan, covering her mouth with her hands, standing up, wide-eyed.

As the montage progressed, I suddenly found myself crying. It was weird. I kept thinking how silly it was to cry at wrestling. I couldn’t discern why I was having this reaction. And RIGHT THEN my mother walks in, on her way to the laundry room.

All of a sudden, I’m like, “Fuck, she’s gonna come over to me and try to make me feel better, cause she’s my mom, cause it’s exactly what I don’t want her to do right now.” I didn’t want to explain that I’d been crying about something as stupid as wrestling. I didn't want to be vulnerable. I was also confused at my own reaction, and wanted time to sort it out. I really didn’t want any sympathy for this, but sympathy I received.

Mom wasted no time in approaching me. She knelt down in front of my chair. I can remember how 10-year-old me felt—that lack of certainty, the embarrassment of being caught showing that raw emotion, the annoyance at my mom's over-reaction, the not knowing how to explain myself.

“What’s wrong, honey?” she said with that tone of wanting to bond with her son who wants nothing to do with her at that moment.

I can remember staring at the tv just to to avoid her eyes, which were right in front of mine. All I wanted was for her to drop it; equally, she wanted to console me.

"Nothing,” I sheepishly muttered.

"Why are you crying, honey? Is it something on the tv?"

I answered only minimally, evasively. I think at that point she was beginning to get a handle on what I was feeling. She got up and said, “Okay, honey. If you want to tell me what you’re crying about, you can.”

I denied her the bonding she desired. I was afraid of facing my sadness. Like my father, brother, uncles, and every male in my family, I'm terrible at expressing my feelings.

Mom resumed her household business, and I was left with a lot to think about.

Kids feel things that easily confuse them. It’s a weird sensation, and an unavoidable part of life. In my crying-at-wresting instance, I blame the television producers for amping up the emotional content of their ridiculous programming, desperately trying to squeeze a few saddening drips from the idiocy of professional wrestling. As a child, I was too young to see thru their tricks.

I've been fooled before. Never again!

How do I impart these lessons onto my children? I don't. Kids have to feel things for themselves. I'll just try not to smother them.


New Year's Day Videos of my Kids

I'm seeing all these articles online about things going on in the world, and I really want to read them, but ... it's that old adage coming into play once again: Time is Precious.

Here are a couple really long YouTube videos of my kids. I could stare at these beautiful girls all day long. Have fun, mom! And Caryn and Colleen. Love you all.

New Year's Day 2012's Lucille Virginia Rose

New Year's Day 2012's Beatrix Kathleen Lizette

(vid contains copy-written material--the music I'm playing on my computer from YouTube in the background. Please don't sue me--I'm just a poor, humble dad.)


To the dishes! : Kid Summary, Long-Form Windbagging

I've got so much to say about my daughters and so little time to say it. Let me just categorize my thoughts here:

Lucille: Getting smart, calling mama and I out, feeling complex emotions, understanding most everything I say (though she can't articulate reciprocally).

BB: Crawling.

Well, jeez, when I say it like that, it seems my work is done. Which is good, I've gotta get off the toilet to wash the dishes and go to school at noon to study in the library when it opens.

The readings for this Blogging class I'm wait-listed for are more challenging than I thought they'd be. Obviously, they're long passages, but they're also written really well. Like, scholarly-well. Complicated. Big words, long sentences, high ideals.

Last night, I read the first passage in about two hours, at home at the kitchen table. Sitting still and reading is something that's always been difficult for me to start, but relatively easy to maintain. I've been pining for the opportunity to be able to do it ever since I had my first kid, but now that I not only have the chance to, but am required to, I'm remembering how hard it is.

Here's a link to the passage. It's a Wordpress blog page. One of three passages I have to read by Monday. It covers much ground on the idea of blogging as a genre, of genre itself, and what purposes a blog serves. There's lots of mention of kairos, and rhetoric. On a few occasions, while reading, it all seemed like so much pontificating out of thin air. Sort of like having to filling out a word count requirement as an assignment, when there's nothing relevant left to say. Then it occurred to me that it all is relevant, I should care because it's about blogs, therefore it's modern, it's obviously well-researched, and the only reason I'm starting to call bullshit is my brain is tired and I don't wanna anymore.

The last time I had readings this challenging was in my International Relations class at Western. Oh, man, but was that stuff dry. SO DRY. Politics. Long-form analysis. Way over my head. It was a struggle to pass that class, but pass it I did.

I'd better fucking get into this blogging class. For one thing, I deserve to, and for another, it's really gonna aid my understanding of the genre in ways I hadn't imagined and couldn't expect. That's what school is for, isn't it... huh.

To the dishes! Bye.



Winter quarter's begun at UW. Last night I went to my potential second class--Blogging, COM 495. I'm third on the waitlist, and I'm facing particularly dire circumstances.

The instructor is a woman named Kathy, from Georgia. Her accent only comes out in every fourth or fifth word. After class, her and I talked a little about my chances of getting in.

Two factors are working against me. The first is class size strictness--the classroom is a computer lab, and there simply aren't more computers to accomodate more students. She's going to ask the higherups if I can use my laptop, while everyone else uses the inferior Mac monitors that run Windows software and won't unmute (seriously--every computer in the lab is like that!).

Secondly, for some reason, Kathy has less power to alter the class size in the evening degree program than in morning classes. I asked her why, and she couldn't really answer except to say that there is a different administration running the evening program. Basically, if they say no to her, there's not much more she can do.

So I'm sorta stuck attending this class that I don't know if I'm going to get into, doing homework for it that may or may not matter.

And if I don't get in, I'm not sure I can register for another class without paying some late registration fee. It would be worth it, however, compared to only taking one class this quarter. Lord in heaven, I don't want to be in school for-fucking-ever!

BB is taking for-fucking-ever to eat this teething biscuit thing. I thought it would work in my favor, giving me more time to type, but she's fussing and making a lot of noise. She seems bored. And tired. And I didn't put a bib on her and she's got food ALL OVER her clothes.

So I'm off to take care of a baby that refuses to do everything for herself. Le sigh.

In closing, I look good in red. And I hope I get into this class, so I can learn more about blogging and in... some word that begins with in... induct? introduce? it into my grande schemes.


An Old Memory

Once, as a younger man, in a land far to the east, I was driving with two sleeping co-workers, early in the morning.

The event we had been working had kept us out all night, a rare one, that, and I was trying to find my way back to the base in my 1992 sky-blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. New to me at the time. I was 19.

So the other dudes were sleeping as I'm meandering about, trying to find the way back to the freeway. I pull into this church parking lot, for some reason, I think to turn around. Somewhere in the turning around I had to stop.

Now the guy in the passenger seat is a big, tall, burly, hairy brick wall of a man, a little younger or the same age as me, but just a powerhouse. Great for staging work. Feather was his name. And he's sleeping upright, head tilted back, mouth open, the big Italian.

When I stopped in the church parking lot, it was from a slow speed, perhaps 10 mph. What I mean to say is, it was slow. It turned out to be the perfect speed to gently bring Feather, not wearing his seat belt, gradually forward. And he didn't stop until his forehead hit the dashboard with a gentle 'thump.'

And then, just as slowly, he raised himself back up and resumed his sleeping position. He never woke up once.

Whenever I think about that, I always laugh out loud. That may have been one of the funniest things I have ever seen.