Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Hear the Train A Comin'

I'm way, way behind in getting some pictures and videos posted.  Sorry.  I really hope we can capture some of the sprog's latest antics in digital glory.  He's been pretty hysterical of late.

What's up with us, you ask?  Not a whole heckuva lot.  Summer in Houston has arrived, and the weirdish, hippy SoCal Spring we were having is long gone (As are the sit ins, peace demonstrations and tye dye).  Now it's just dead hot and nasty.  I try to do what I'm going to do outside either before the sun is up, or well after it's down.  Like vampires.  Vampires with lawn care businesses.

Bebe and Poppa decided to pop over for a visit since Majesty re-sprained her ankle at church a week back.  The redux was incredibly convenient, let me tell you.  Anyway, they (Bebe, Poppa and Jack) all had a blast over at The Children's Museum - a pretty slick place to hang out if you're in the business of being entertained.  Or in the biz of having your kid major-league diverted for a coupla hours.

Let's see... what else?  Oh, Jack is investigating his, uh, carry-on luggage capabilities.  So we let him string beads on pipe cleaners and shoelaces to improve those motor skill things.  The beads are, as it happens, about one nostril wide.  He started fussing a bit during the bead stringing exercise one night last week.  No one saw anything.  We asked him straight out if he had shoved one, y'know, up north somewhere.  He denied everything.  We looked (trust, but verify) but could see nothing.

Next morning, a hanky finally exposed his fib:  Kleenex, meet orange bead.  Right.

Musically, The Dude's on a pretty resilient Johnny Cash kick but alternates with Soldiers of Christ Arise and Send the Light.  Hey, Johnny was steeped in gospel, too.

And I kid you not, one day last weekend I hear "I HEAW THE TWAIN A TUMMIN', IT'S WOLLIN' WOUND THE BEND..."  and he proceeds to belt out, strumming his guitar, a medley of Folsom Prison Blues, Long Black Veil, and Oasis/Ryan Adam's Wonderwall.

I believe they call that "musical versatility."

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Post-Father's Day Reader

Once the line was cast, we popped open our Dr Peppers, listened to the rhythms of the wind and the water lapping against the boat, and the hours that passed opened up their marrow. --Tim Dalrymple
The events of FAHVUH's Day weekend have still got me beat.  I.  Am.  Exhausted.

But hey, I got a book* and (no fooling) a BASEBALL GLOVE from Majesty and Jack!  So awesome.  Oh, and a card that screams out Sammy Hagar's I Can't Drive 55.  I just want to say that having a day for presents in late June just blows my mind.  (My BUHFDAY is in the fall.)  This dad thing has got an upside after all.

So I give you a Post-Father's Day Reader.  Neither article is overly long, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

You might have heard already about Mr. Thomas S. Vander Woude.  His horrific choice becomes the ultimate illustration of fatherhood itself:

Next, I give you Tim Dalrymple's piece about his father, being a father, and some not-so-obvious gift ideas.  By the way, if you don't read everything Tim Dalrymple writes, you're the poorer for it.  The story is posted on his personal blog:

A quick Jack story for you:
Last night H.M. tells me about putting Jack down for the night.  They had made it through storytime.  Jack always hates when storytime's over, and pleads for more books to be read.  The Mommy puts the lamp out as he fusses, and says, "No, Jack, it's dark - and what do we do when it's dark?"  She was fishing for the painfully obvious answer of, "We go to sleep."

What she got, however, was Jack saying flatly in the darkness, "We turn on the WIGHT!"

Like, duh, old people.

*Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.  Looks to be just wicked crazy awesome so far.  Couldn't put the thing down last night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toddler, Monkey, Con-Man, Mountaineer

Do you have plantation shutters? I didn't even know what those were a few years back. Anyway, we've got plantation shutters. Lots of them. 'Cause, you know, I like to sit behind them in a rocking chair wearing a white linen suit and horn-rimmed glasses watching my sugar cane being harvested. Or something.

They're pretty cool little inventions, plantation shutters. They can make a room as dark as Egypt, which is excellent for sleeping. We like to say that la casa nueva is a great "sleeping house" because of that very thing. They're pretty much maintenance free. Dust on the shutters? Sure. It happens. But what shouldn't have to be removed from them, like ever, is my 2.5 year old. You see where this is headed.

Majesty walks in the used-to-be-a-study-now-it's-a-playroom the other day, and Mr. Guess Who is 8 or 9 feet up above the parquet, scaling the shutters like an ice climber on a frozen waterfall.

That ain't good.

Majesty hears Jack in the upstairs office closet and can't locate him. He's not in there, but she hears him... above her. He had climbed a series of boxes, and ended up on the extreme top shelf - a pretty darn wobbly deathtrap of a top shelf - of the closet.

That ain't good, either, folks.

And he's not getting the message of the frequently frequent spankins and talkin' tos either. I stroll through the playroom the other day (still in my linen suit, right), and just casually look over at Jack, perched atop his toy kitchen, about 5 feet up. You remember the toy kitchen.

We're trying the taking away toys thing. Pretty marginal results. He's had more stuff confiscated than a con doing twenty to life at San Quentin. His guitar. His ukulele. His microphone. Thomas the Tank Engine. Friends and associates of Thomas the Tank Engine (Yes, he has a ukulele; stay on target, here.) Buzz and Woody. Everybody - and I mean everybody - is in protective custody.

About an hour after the kitchen incident, I'm watering the withered lumps of greenish brown that pass for my mint plants. Jack's off playing in the jundle. I glance over there to make sure he's still alive, like they teach you to do every few hours or so in Dad School. He's suspended by both arms, hanging from a really unfortunate Youpon Holly tree. Smiling.

We've no idea what to do. He's far too young to fathom the whole grounding thing. Not to mention the whole acceleration of gravity thing, which is the real problem, I guess. Grounding probably wouldn't work anyway, gauging how headstrong (from mommy) and resistant to authority (from daddy) he is. He's got the pain threshold of a bull elephant, so all the whuppins are of little effect.

Nets? Maybe nets. Nets like those ex-Soviet trapeze dudes at Cirque du Soleil have. We can just cover the floors with safety netting. I might be on to something here. After all, netting worked like a charm in preventing BASE jumping from his crib.

We took a long weekend and went with our good friends Mike, Meredith, Aaron, Jason, Valerie and Baby NOWAH down to Galveston. We all split a house down at the western end of the island. You should have seen The Dude drown-proofing himself in the surf on the first day. Much more brave than in Florida, he crashed out into the deeper water and got just swamped with waves over and over again. Wouldn't stay with me for any reason. And he loved it.

At one point, he gets down parallel with the surf, letting it roll him, and roll over him, as he cackled and sputtered and choked and laughed and coughed out seawater. Not just a few times did I see the top of his hat under the big clear wave that just swamped him. Completely fearless. The second day he was a little more reserved, and got his kicks by letting me pitch him up in the air. I stopped counting at around 70 or so. Probably got a hundred out of me. Sheesh. I guess toddlers are sort of nature's medicine ball.

As you might suspect, swim lessons started yesterday.

Oh, I forgot to mention this the other week.

We took a walk on a trail by the house, and Jack insisted on riding his tricycle. We traipse up on a group of four high school girls, and they're still maybe 50 feet from us. Jack stops, stands up, and tumps his tricycle over. He flops on the ground and lies there, faking a wreck for the girls' benefit.

I've never seen someone stoop so low, or do something so, so... utterly brilliant.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reversion to the Mean

Not much time for writing these days, folks.  Our annual meeting is this week, and they're continuing to haze me by letting me give a brief presentation.  You know the secret of giving a really fantastic, engaging talk on an esoteric subject nobody could give two beans about?

Yeah, me neither.

So the family's back!  Jack is about 18 inches taller than when I last saw him in person.  Dunked a basketball right over me.  It was sick.

Right after they get back, and after several tries, I finally get the water wings/swimmy thingamajigs on him.  We swam yesterday until I was waaaaay past pruney.  I was almost raisiny.  I threw The Lead Baby up in the air a zillion times, him splashing everything withing a 10 mile radius and laughing uncontrollably.  He was churning water with those little legs pumping like crazy.  He would screech with joy and then plow toward our pool fountains like a semi truck driving through the water.

Majesty is still really playing up her "injury" limping around on her crutches and all.  Yesterday she was sitting there propped up on two kitchen chairs, icing the bum ankle.  She made some comment about how she was just taking it easy, not being demanding about anything.  This is the familiar "I'm a good patient" speech that absolutely everyone gives at some time or other.  Y'know, whether it happens to be true or not.

I had just filled Jack up on another sippy cup of pomegranate juice cut with water.  H.M. says, "I'd like some, too."  No problem.  After almost reaching for another sippy cup... I start filling her (non-sippy) cup up with juice.  "That enough?" I ask.  "No, I usually do a little bit more."  "How much more?"  "Oh, I don't know, just a little bit."

More juice goes in.  "No, no, that's way too much!"  Naturally, I drink down an inch of juice (as she crinkles her eyes at me).  What?  No, really, what?  I'm not throwing it down the drain - pom juice is like $10,000 an ounce.  It's got gold leaf in it, I think.

And I top the cup off with water, just like she likes it.

And everything is normal again.  Mostly.

Majesty reminded me last night that the best part of this was Jack sneaking over while nobody noticed, drinking all of her juice, anyway.  Resistance is futile.