Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confession of a Work-At-Home-Mom

I am guilty. I let the TV babysit my 3 year old son. Now don't get me wrong; I know what he's watching, and it's all educational, good stuff. Mostly PBS, Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer. But the poor kid is literally transfixed by the magic box.

I used to be able to leave the TV on while he played and he'd glance up at it once in a while, but mostly he'd play with toys. But lately he's grouchy and wants nothing but TV. He doesn't even want to get dressed in the morning in case he'll "miss something."

I'm worried. But I don't know what to do. Luke is a high-maintenance kid. He doesn't play on his own very well or for very long. Even the baby (1 year old) plays on his own for longer and is much easier to take care of. And I have to work. So what's a mom/employee to do?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't Hold Your Breath

I love my refrigerator. It's actually not as nice as the one in this picture here, but I'm not picky. I like my refrigerator so much that we brought it to Alabama when we moved from Georgia. And that's when we broke it.

Fortunately, we only broke my favorite-but-pretty-much-unnecessary feature, the in-door water & ice dispenser. For some reason, after we installed the refrigerator in our new home, getting a glass of water also necessitated wiping up a puddle of water from behind the fridge. So, we stopped using the water part. Goodbye, cold, filtered water. You will be missed.

So eventually I decided we should take a look at the leaky plastic tube to see how bad the damage was. We took off the front grill, wiggled the tube a bit, and lo-and-behold, it was simply loose from its fitting. Yay! We have cold filtered water again!

So now we get to the ice part of the equation. It works, to be totally honest. Always has. But it's not completely reliable. See, I have this quirk. Well, I have a lot of quirks, but let's stay focused here. I hold my breath while I'm waiting for that first kerplunk of ice into my glass. And this has become a problem, because sometimes that fridge just won't give up any ice. None. It does its grindy-groany thing, and even teases me with a little falling ice chip sound occasionally, but leaves me with an empty cup and unhappy lungs for great stretches of seconds at a time. I eventually give up and breathe. And then I really humble myself by opening the freezer door, reaching in, and actually physically gathering the ice myself! The humanity!

Well, at least I've thought of a new function for my fancy in-door ice maker. As often as it actually gives out ice, I'm thinking it would make a great slot machine.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dr Katz does radio

Jonathon Katz does a podcast you can download here for free:

The first bit is about a word dominatrix... it will give a giggle to you English majors...

It should be a monthly thing. It is well worth a listen for us who love dry, dry, dry, dry, dry humor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

eBay reminds me why i won't have 6 kids...

Here is a link to a real eBay item. The description is super entertaining. I think the price went so high just because she got so many hits. LOT OF POKEMON CARDS THAT MY KIDS TRIED TO SNEAK BY ME

Not the best post ever in teh blog, but good for a little laugh...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sipper Speaks

For all who might care to listen, here is a link to the Dalraida coC Website which contains a lesson I delivered on a recent Wednesday evening for the Summer Series. It's titled "The Gift of Song".

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Everything Old Is New Again

I think all of you have been to our house at sometime or other. Recently, we added some space onto our kitchen and knocked out some walls to make a nice, open layout between the family room and the kitchen. Here are some pics to show how the progress went, how much work was done, and how much space was added. My Dad was instrumental in most of the work. However, Rachel did quite a bit of the work, too, especially with installing the floors. We did this ALL ourselves, in other words.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Me playing a trick on my son...

I was bored, work was slow, and he was awake and in a good mood... you would have done the same...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Crossing over

The wife, myself, and the boy went to Chattanooga this weekend. No problems that would be considered unusual for travels with a 6 week old occurred. In fact, the drive up took only 30 minutes more than usual. The drive back, however, took a good 3 hours longer.

Being that we were so close to Knoxville, I would have considered it a crime to not at least invite the Mullins family to have dinner with my wife and I Saturday night. Being that we had grandparents to babysit our son, we figured we would go on a date.

I won't lie that at first, I was hoping the Mullins' would find a sitter for their boys. I wanted a little adult time. However, plans didn't pan out like I had hoped. Thankfully!

They came to my folks' home and took a look at Tyler. But only after Issac had peed in my parents front yard. The boys were with them and on their best male-Mullins-behavior. Afterwards, we all went to the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Not much to do there but look at real life trains that are no longer in use. Some fun restaurants there, including one that had singing waiters. But entertainment aside, the menu looked like any Ryans Steakhouse menu and wasn't anything special.

So I asked a gift store employee of some local favorites and he pointed me towards the Aquarium where there was a fine assortment of restaurants, including the one we ate at; Easy Seafood (Chefs nick name is Easy). The wait was 15 minutes, so we walked a block to the aquarium where there is a wide assortment of fountains, pools, and waterfalls that kids typically play in. One look at this from the Mullins boys and that's all she wrote. With their mother saying "don't get your shorts wet!" it seemed to only dare each of them to see how close they could get without getting water on their shorts to the point where Caleb was simply running straight through the fountain.
10 or 15 minutes later we go back to Easy and are seated. The food was great. Not a place I will make a bee-line to go to each time I go to Chattanooga, but if I have kids with me, i will. VERY kid friendly. Chalkboards, goldfish snacks for the kids, etc...

Afterwards, we found this huge waterfall of steps that loads of kids and families were cooling themselves off in. My brother takes his daughter here often. The kids loved it, to the point where my wife was telling me to take off my shoes and run down the stair of water to get Caleb before he hurts himself as he ran down these stairs without fear.

The night ended appropriately... as Larissa and I were leaving the parking deck, we passed the Mullins only to see their youngest completely naked by the car and loving every minute of it.

All in all I was very happy to have had their boys with us. Caleb is a hoot. He purposely will not look at a camera when you take his photo, which had me laughing alot. I have crossed over I think... from a childless guy who prefers to be with my friends without their kids around, to a parent who doesn't mind it so much anymore.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Shanghai Cafe

I created a new blog for my China adventures. After much deliberation I finally decided on the fairly lame name of The Shanghai Cafe. It seemed fitting as it is both where I am living and a nod to the old cafe.

It is a little sparse right no, obviously and won't be updated to much until we get internet in our home. But feel free to read and comment.

PS if the link doesn't work properly just click on my name and you'll find the blog. I'm working on a barely working connection and the site isn't pulling up for me at all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is it just me?

Something hit me the other day and it kind of made me sad...

This whole parent thing has turned my world upside down. More so than I expected. But one thing I didn't expect would be that my social life would plummet to a near-zero level.

I mean, I expected the first few weeks to not go hang with folks, but he is 6 weeks old now and still a part of me just wants to stick close to home base.

I mean, after the Sips had Noah (If I remember correctly) they were happy to have us over to their home! I keep thinking in my mind all the peoples homes I want to go to and take Tyler along, or to invite people over, but when Friday or Saturday come, and I see that dishes need washing, clothes need washing, the house is a wreck, and not to mention the baby needs feeding in a few hours, I give up the thought, slip into my pajama pants, and roll up my sleeves (Assuming I am wearing a shirt) to get to work. And if we get to eat our meal along the way, that's just a plus.

Believe me Sip, we want to come to yalls home. We want to go to several folk's home and we want to have people over. But when does the fear of leaving home base end? Am I a freak for feeling this way? I mean, I have never been Mr. Socialite, but I do like to hang with my closest friends from time to time and it frankly feels like ages since I have done so!

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing for a woman to share with her infant. This, however, is just wrong.

Travels abroad

With Brew leaving for a first-time traveling experience in literally hours, I thought I would post a blog being that I am in a somewhat similar "First time travel experience" situation as well...

My wife, child, and myself will all be going to my parents home in Tennessee this weekend. The idea is so that, of course, my mom and dad can spend time with thier grand son, and that my wife and I can go out that night.

Those without kids do not realize what a task this will be. Even as my wife and I decided yesterday that we would go take our son to visit them, the fullness of the situation didn't hit us immediately. And before I had this child, I would have just thought "Toss some diapers in a bag, a bottle, a jug of 1% milk and go". After having some dinner at home, we began to think it over. Thoughts turned to paper and pen, paper and pen turned into hands on head eyes widening.

Eventually my wife spoke up and said "Do you remember how Josh and Rachel had an entire suitcase for Luke when we went to Disney World and how we couldn't understand how a baby could need so much?" I agreed, and we both began to feel like the Sips actually packed light for their child on that trip...

So, rather than go in alone on this, I would take suggestions from the panel of experts at my disposal. I know there are a great many men my age with kids reading this. Those who frequent this blog, I expect nothing less than advice. Those lurkers out there, feel free to comment. Women, of course, are welcome to comment just as much as the men.

It is becoming all too clear in my mind that it will be alot more convenient for my parents to visit us for the next year or so than for us to visit them, though, the drive must be made, and often... adults can turn insane when they are turned into grand parents.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Research and Development gone lazy...

If you have seen any commercials for cleaning products these days, you know the buzz word is "Disposable". Everything is disposable and everything makes cleaning "Easier". Which is all well and good for me. However, we still live in the dark ages in my home. We have an up-right vacuum, a broom, and a dust pan. We took a huge leap and recently bought a dust mop.

Waste and environmental concerns aside, this is fine and good with me, but I saw one product on TV today that absolutely blew my mind...

Endust disposable dust cloths. Or, as I like to call them "Paper towels". I could understand if there was, like, Endust built into it, but there isn't. The commercial instructs you to "Spray on Endust, wipe with the disposable cloth, then, just throw it away!"... just like I do with paper towels.

Here is the claim:

For $5 you get 10 12x12 cloths that the company doesn't even pretend to claim are reusable... How many rolls of paper towels can you buy for $5? The marketing campaign is to "Hold on to your favorite tee shirt" assuming people dust with a tee shirt. I can;t tell you how many times I was found curled in the fetal position of my closet by my wife, hugging my favorite shirt, hoping that there would be someone to invent a way that I could dust without this shirt. And God forbid that we had to (gasp) throw the shirt in the washing machine after we were done! "Endust Dust Cloths eliminate the need to store and wash dirty rags for dusting" And we all know how much room a dust rag takes up, what with how contractors are making homes SO much smaller.

I mean, am I missing something? Do they do something that I am not aware of? Are paper towels damaging my bed side table? Is it no longer fashionable to dust with a washable rag, much less keep washable rags in the house at all?

I mean, how dumb can we get, people? If anyone has bought these, they must make themselves known.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Four Days

Four days from this moment I will be flying over some part of Canada heading north and west. We leave Tulsa in the wee hours of the morning to Chicago. From there it is all the way to Shanghai. Twenty odd hours of travel, 14 from Chicago to Shanghai.

That's a long time no matter how you shake it. I've loaded my carry on with books and magazines. I've checked the airline for what movies will be showing. The iPod contains some 18,000 songs, several audio books, two movies and a television program. I'm going to carry some Tylenol PM with me so that I might sleep a few hours, and heavier prescription sleep medicine in case I decide to knock myself out.

We are mostly ready to go. The bags have been packed and repacked and repacked. We have a box of winter clothes to mail. And some reserve books in boxes in case we need to mail those. We have scanned a million articles and books to help Amy with her research. We have loaded every song we've ever heard on to the hard drives. We have chosen books and movies to take. We have had long debates over which clothes to pack, what toiletries we'll need, etc.

We already have an apartment there. Brian and Bethany took a gander at it and said it was ok, it even has an American toilet and a real bathtub. They have bought us a bed, couch, comfy chair, kitchen table and other things. We will stay in a hotel for a few days while all of this is moved in, but soon should be settled.

The school pays for the hotel, will reimburse us 80% of our flight and give us a grand to help settle in.

I'm nervous. Nervous as crap. And yet I am so ready to go and get it done. This waiting around is killing me. I know we will have a good time. I know it will be a meaningful experience. I have no idea what to expect.

I plan to create a new blog just for my daily ramblings about china. I'll keep my regular blog up for the pop culture explorations, and the occasional long form essay about life, but I figure it's better to have a separate one for the normal day-to-day activities.

Any suggestions on what cool, quirky, ironic name I should give this blog?

Of course I'll keep you guys up to date here as well, even if it is just a link over to my place.

Also I don't know when I'll get an internet connection over there, so I may be intermittent for awhile.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

HP7: Spoiler Warning!!!

OK, Jamison gave us the go-ahead to discuss HP stuff within the comments. On your mark, get set, Expeliarmus!!!