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    I'm over here now....

    www.IrrationalDad.com

    Little Blog on the Prairie


    Ladies and Gentlereaders... I have exciting news for all of you. Well, maybe it's not exactly exciting for you, but it's very exciting for me. I can't help but to feel that I've outgrown Blogspot, or Blogger, or Google Blogs, or whatever they're calling themselves.

    I've been out of the blogging (reading and writing) loop for the past week, because I've been feverishly working to set up a wordpress blog at my very own domain.

    On Sunday, the 15th, I'm going to redirect the RSS/Atom feeds to point to the new domain. This may create a little bit of havoc on your blog reader (if you use one). What I think is going to happen is that your blog reader is suddenly going to show 100+ new posts from me. Go ahead and just click on the "Mark all as read" button" and maybe check out the most recent post, just in case I got ambitious and wrote a new post. I apologize for this part, but I can't think of a way around it.

    For those of you that are on the email subscription list... uhhh.... fingers crossed that you don't get 100+ emails. I'm super super sorry if you do.

    For those of you that have this site bookmarked, please update your bookmark to the new address. I'm going to program in a redirect on this blog, so it'll automatically send you to the new address. But, the best bet would be to just update your bookmark.

    Let's see... am I missing anything? Oh yeah, the address to the new (and kinda improved) blog.

    Irrational Dad is now living at:
    http://www.irrationaldad.com

    I did my best to get the layout to match what I've been using. There may be a couple issues here or there. If you notice anything that's off kilter, please email me at joe@irrationaldad.com to let me know. Seriously, I hate things that aren't right, and I need you to be my editor. I'm still wrapping my head around WordPress and how it all works, so bear with me.

    Wall Climbing

    Only eight months old, and Tyler’s already wall climbing…

     

     

    There is a walking path near our house. We like taking it because we can let Delilah off her leash to run around. With the unnaturally warm temperatures on Friday and Saturday, we capitalized on the situation. At the end of the path, the city is building around eight to twelve baseball diamonds. They also have a very nice playground, and that’s where we went.

     

    Tyler played on the swings.

     

    He went on the slides.

     

    He teeter-tottered.

     

    And he even went rock climbing.

     

    He loved his daddy.

     

    We did lots of other things there too.

    Vote for Tyler


    Tyler has been entered in a local photo contest. The winner will have their picture printed in color in our local newspaper, with a chance of being on the cover of a local family magazine.

    The photos are all located here:
    http://www.kpcnews.net/photocontest

    Tyler’s picture is the first picture on page 4:
    http://www.kpcnews.net/photocontest/?page=4&max=79&month=March

    View just his picture here:
    http://www.kpcnews.net/photocontest/viewphoto.php?ID=237&month=March
    and click on "VOTE" to the right of the image.

    All you need to do is click “VOTE” under his picture. Help me out, my dear blog readers!!!! This could mark the 3rd time Tyler has been in our newspaper!!!

    The backstory on the picture is here:
    http://joegearhart.blogspot.com/2009/01/oreo.html

    I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

    "In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team. "

     
    I used to watch The A-Team when I was a child. Who wouldn't want to watch Mr. T, covered in gold jewelry and sporting a mohawk, beat the crap out of countless bad guys (with his bare hand, no less), and then have to be knocked unconscious by his own teammates because he is terrified of flying? That's quality television right there.

    The series ran from 1983 - 1987. I have to assume that I watched it in syndication, as I doubt that my parents would have allowed me to watch a violent TV show when I was between five and nine years old. I know that I was young, but I just can’t remember how young I was when I watched it. Most of you know that I've got a very muddy memory, and if you didn't know, you do now.

    I think it was intended that Mr. T's “B.A. Baracus” character be the favorite. I mean, c'mon, he had a mohawk. Why he never received a "Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series" award is beyond the grasp of my expansive knowledge. Now don't get me wrong, B.A. was a great character. I liked him a lot. I thought then - and I still think now - that B.A. should have been the initials for “Bad Ass”, as opposed to the appropriate-for-1980's-television-audiences “Bad Attitude”.

    I'm not going to talk much about Templeton "Face" Peck. His character was likely cast for the simple reason that reluctant wives would sit through the episodes with their cavemen husbands because Face was easy on the eyes. Since he was the resident ladies man, this also provided an excuse for the directors (writers, producers, whomever) to cast a beautiful woman in - I believe - every single episode.

    H.M. Murdock was my favorite character. I don't recall whether his first name was ever revealed, as I can only remember H.M. referring to his nickname, Howlin' Mad. Murdock was declared mentally insane, and regularly "escaped" from a mental hospital to take part in the team's missions. Looking back, I would say that he was my favorite because I think I could relate to him and his strange “quirks” on some strange level.

    John "Hannibal" Smith was the (official/unofficial?) Leader of The A-Team. I remember thinking about the appropriateness of the character who was known for wearing a multitude of disguises having the most common name in America. The only name that would have better suited him is "John Doe". Hannibal did the planning for the team’s missions. In the end, the A-Team came out on top, but the plan usually fell apart at some point. Think of the dad that gives his son a baseball bat, and tells him to swing at the ball that’s sitting on the tee. Only the father stands too close to the boy. The boy does indeed hit the ball, but it didn’t exactly go to plan for the father. The boy hit two balls too many. That’s Hannibal, the dad who has great intentions, but doesn’t always lay the best plans.

    Why am I forcing you to read all this? Because of Tyler. Me talking about the A-Team is all Tyler’s fault. Strangely, it had nothing to do with the faux-hawk that we often style his hair into.

    Anyway, in addition to being a master of disguise, Hannibal was a cigar smoker. He would put a cigar in his mouth, light it, draw smoke into his mouth, and immediately blow it out the side of his mouth, without inhaling it into his lungs. Puff, blow, puff, blow. That was the memory Tyler drudged up yesterday which had me mere seconds from adding The A-Team to my Netflix Queue. I still may do just that.

    After Sarah fed Tyler his supper yesterday, she went to make supper for herself. Yesterday was "leftovers night". I had the pizza rigatoni that Sarah recently prepared in the crockpot. While she reheated her chili leftovers, I sat and talked to Tyler, who was still in his highchair. As he sat there, listening to me counting to ten or naming colors of objects, he put his sippy cup to his mouth, sucked water in, and drooled it out the side of his mouth three or four times. It reminded me completely of the way Hannibal smoked his cigars. The first thought that flashed in my mind (which A: I am shocked that I remembered in the first place, and B: Nobody here will understand unless you were a fan of the show) was "Tyler's on the jazz."

    I’ve been slacking off on my photo uploading, so I’m posting a picture of Tyler’s faux-hawk from January. I can’t believe how much his hair is (finally) growing.

    Interview 2009


    There's a new phenomenon sweeping the blogging world. It's called Interview 2009, and I guess it isn't really sweeping the blogging world. Phenomenon may be a bit of an overstatement as well. But it's happening nonetheless. I was asked to interview Lora (who has, like, a hundred and twelve blogs), and you can find that interview here. Cat, from My Name is Cat, was my interviewer. The thing I liked about this project is that it required me to read more blogs. I couldn't necessarily interview Lora without first doing some research. Well, I guess I could, but my name isn't Larry King. Then, I've got this random "Cat" person getting ready to shoot some questions my way. I had to read her blog to see who the heck this person was. As a result of all this, I've added a few more blogs to my reader. There's actually more I want to look into, but there's only so much time in the day.

    Chris, over at A Free Man, was the organizer of this event. The first blog I ever read of his was a "Science Tuesday" post discussing vaccines and Autism (Note: I can't locate the actual post. The link is to his follow-up post). I really wish I could remember how I found his blog, but that's outside the grasp of my memory. I've been an avid reader since then, even if we don't always have similar opinions. But, he's much smarter than me, so you can make your own call there. If you are a fan of music at all, I would highly recommend you keep up on his blog.

    Anyway, I get an email from Cat, telling me that she likes my blog, and that she's going to read some of my back posts before asking me my questions. I can respect that. Well, then she drops off the Earth and I never hear from her again. I don't want to say that my feelings were hurt, but it didn't feel great, that's for sure. I even went to her blog and posted a couple comments. You know, to remind her that I'm alive, and she has obligations. Nothing...

    A couple days ago, an online friend needed my assistance with webpage design and code. We started up a chat with 2 other people on MSN so we could all get on the same page. MSN Messenger does this really annoying thing where it always pops up a little window to tell me that I've got unread mail in my inbox. I say it's annoying because I don't use hotmail. Ever. I use my Yahoo account for email. I only have the hotmail account because you have to have it to use MSN Messenger. Actually, it's called Live Messenger now, but that's semantics. I clicked on the window to make it go away, but accidentally clicked on the link to open my inbox...

    ... and there was an email from Cat with my interview questions. Whoops. Looks like I listed the wrong email address on one of my profiles. Now I have to get my voodoo black-magic book (bound with human skin, no less) off the shelf and see how I would go about removing curses from someone. Here are the questions and answers.

    1) Cat: You are fairly new to the dad game, so what has been your biggest surprise about being a dad?
    I almost said "not realizing how tired I would be, ALL THE TIME." But then I thought about it for a minute. The whole "so tired I could probably sleep during a nuclear war" thing wasn't really a surprise. That was one of the first things that any guy would warn me about. One guy told me that I will soon wonder what I used to do with all my free time before having a baby. He was right, by the way.

    I've got two answers to give, because they both really caught me off guard. First, I didn't realize how much of a strain it can put on a relationship. Everything's fine, don't worry folks. But our buttons seem to be much more sensitive now, and it's much easier for us to push each others'.

    The other surprise, and probably the bigger one, is in how much I've changed. Kids never impressed me. Actually, they sorta annoyed me, always asking questions, doing stuff they shouldn't be doing, and crying their little heads off at Wal-Mart. Now... I empathize with parents, and understand that kids/babies are just being kids/babies. That being said, I still have little (read: no) patience for parents that don't control their kids. Letting a kid run rampant at Target, knocking &@#$ off shelves because they're too busy looking at clearanced Christmas decorations is just plain stupid, ignorant, and other insulting words.

    2) Cat: Besides gestation, giving birth and nursing, what do you think is the major differences in being a mom and being a dad?
    Tyler has been learning to pull himself up to a stand, with the help of household furniture. He's still grasping the concept that standing on two legs is completely different than hands and knees. As such, he's learned a few things about gravity and hard surfaces. When Tyler falls, and smacks his noggin on the floor or side table, Sarah rushes to him to make sure he's fine (not all the time, but enough). I, on the other hand, look at him and tell him, "That didn't hurt, you're ok. Get up and try again."

    So, my answer is:
    Mom :: Dad : Nurture :: Nature

    (seriously, I've been racking my brain, and using google, to figure out if I wrote that correctly. I may have mixed up the single colon and double colon. If any of you could point me to a reference, I would be very appreciative. For those of you not in "the know", it is read as "Mom is to Dad as Nurture is to Nature".)

    3) Cat: If you are able to attain your lifelong goal of becoming a superhero, what would your name be, what special power would you want and what would your costume look like?
    I never thought of a name for myself. I always liked how, in the comic books (and some of their movie adaptations), the populous named the superhero. It could easily backfire, for sure, but I trust the people that I selflessly protect.

    Superpower... well, there's the stock answer of "flying" that everyone says. I loved what Neo was capable of in "The Matrix" and while I would never want to sound or look like him, I would love his powers. Truth be told, they weren't really powers, since the Matrix was just a virtual world. Then again, at the end of the second movie, we saw Neo display a power in the real world. If you've got some time, we could analyze deeper, but I really would like to keep the reader base that I currently have.

    As for a costume... much to the dismay of my female audience (and maybe some of my male audience), you will NOT see me in spandex or tights. Probably a pair of Old Navy jeans, a vintage fit t-shirt, and a fleece jacket on chilly days. At home, alone, I may try out a cape.

    4) Cat: For the unconverted, why Firefox over Microsoft Explorer?
    Oh, where do I begin? IE (Internet Explorer) is finally getting some things right, like tabbed browsing. If you haven't used tabs before, you're really missing out. It's like always riding in the passenger seat, and then your dad gives you the keys and lets you take it for a spin. IE also has many vulnerabilities that don't get patched quickly from MS (Microsoft). FF (Firefox) is much more standards compliant... blah blah blah, right? Well, I will tell you this, with absolute certainty... FF is faster than IE, and that's what matters to most people nowadays. Plus, you can always uninstall it if you don't like it. Oh... and the addons for FF are beyond awesome.

    If you do try FF, get an addon called "Adblock Plus". It makes the internet so much more pretty.

    5) Cat: Are you going to get a tat commemorating the birth of your son?
    Let's recap first. When I turned 18, I got a tattoo of a clown... on my forearm. I won't go into the details, but I will say that I was a fan of a local band named "Insane Clown Posse". What? I said I was 18 for cryin' out loud! I have Chinese writing behind both of my shoulders. They say "Crazy" and "Insane". At least that's what I'm told they say. I have a huge tribal piece between my shoulders and down the middle of my back. Then, I've got two dragons on my lower back.

    I truly regret the one on my forearm, but don't have a spare $2k to get it removed. I also wish I hadn't gotten the other pieces done. Ahhh.... youth. Now I have to explain to my son why he shouldn't do what I did. Why, oh why didn't I listen to my parents when I was younger?

    That ends the question and answer session. I hope you liked it. Take a few minutes and click on the links. I try to only read the best of the best blogs out there, so you won't be disappointed if you check them out.

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes


    I've made some big changes to the code and styles that run this here blog. Hopefully, the only thing you'll notice is a change from 2 columns to 3 columns. I'm fairly certain that I've salvaged the legacy code that needed to be kept in order to get all posts before this one to display correctly. But, just in case, don't freak out if things are a little buggy for about a week, while I hammer out the little stuff that I may have overlooked.

    The Somnambulistic Son

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    The silence in the room was broken as a cry drifted down the stairs. Joe, an unassuming man who is convinced that Murphy's Law applies to his everyday life, turned to look at Sarah.

    As a stay-at-home mom, Sarah has developed an expertise in all things baby. On more than one occasion, Joe has found himself wondering if Sarah has some type of supernatural connection with the baby. He's attempted to rationalize these thoughts. He knows that Sarah's hearing is better than his. But how can she be in the kitchen, chopping up food, with a fan turned on and music playing in the background and STILL know when Tyler wakes up? And let's be honest, Joe. Doesn't Tyler always seem to know when Sarah's nearby, almost like he senses it? It's a two-way bond, between mother and son, and you aren't a member of that club, Joe.

    Tyler is the seven month old product of the the young marriage between Sarah and Joe. If you were to see his smile, you would see the sproutings of three teeth, with two more, maybe three, on the way. Tyler is also the owner of the cry that has Joe sitting up and looking questioningly to Sarah.

    Sarah was gazing upward, head cocked ever so slightly to the right. Joe was certain that she was focusing her auditory senses on the room above, but that small, nagging part of his head thought otherwise. She's looking through the floor, Joe. She's watching Tyler THROUGH the twelve inches of plaster, wiring, joists, sub-flooring and carpet. And matting, Joe. She's also looking through the matting.

    In the silence that followed the initial cry, she said, "Maybe he'll go back to sleep."

    Joe relaxed and let out the breath he didn't notice he was holding. Yes, maybe he would go back to sleep. It was eleven o'clock POST meridiem, after all.

    The answer to that particular thought came down the stairs in a more forceful tone than the cry that first interrupted the quiet evening. With a sigh, Joe stood up, walked to the stairs, and started up the fourteen steps to Tyler's room, stepping over the three creaky ones. It was a habit he picked up shortly after Tyler was born. In the darkness of the second floor, he turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. They live in an old house that has settled over the years. Joe has combatted the non-levelness of the house by placing shims under one or more corners of the furniture. The door to Tyler's room also falls victim to this non-level nature and will swing open without any external force. It stops only upon hitting the doorstop with a BANG....... BANg.... BAng... Bang.. bang bangbangbangbang, as it bounces off the stop with decreasing force each time it connects. Only a week ago did Joe have what he considers to be the brainstorm idea of placing one of Tyler's stuffed toys against the doorstop. Now, the only sound from the door is a quiet "ffff".

    Tyler was in his crib, sitting, crying. Joe could just barely make out the shape of the pacifier in the darkness. It was laying on the floor, about a foot or so from the crib.

    "Big surprise", Joe said under his breath as he bent to pick it up. He mused on whether this small piece of plastic and silicone was the source or the cure for the Tyler storms that have a tendency to materialize seemingly out of nothingness.

    "Here you go, buddy. Shh shh shh shhhh. Let's go back to our night nights." More times than not, night nights comes out as "nigh nighs", and this was no exception.

    With his eyes now adjusted to the darkness, Joe got a better look at Tyler and saw that, sitting in his crib and crying, his eyes were still closed. He asked in barely a whisper, "Are you still sleeping, TyTy?" In fact, the whisper was so faint that Joe would later wonder if he even said it aloud at all. He picked Tyler up an inch so he could lay him down again. Tyler's eyes never opened. They never even fluttered. Convinced more than before that Tyler was indeed still asleep, Joe placed the pacifier in Tyler's mouth. Instantly, Tyler fell still and silent.

    Shutting the door and walking down the stairs, a swarm of thoughts flooded Joe's head. Sarah looked at him, waiting for a status update, and although Joe was certain that she watched the entire scene unfold through the ceiling/floor combo that seperated the two rooms, he said "That boy is going to be a sleepwalker."

    The End

    somnambulistic (som-nahm-byoo-lis-tic): a parasomnia or sleep disorder where the sufferer engages in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness while he or she is asleep or in a sleep-like state.

    Blowing Some Balls

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    I can say, with absolute certainty, that nothing in my life has ever compared with the joy and warmth that fills me when I hear Tyler laughing. Tyler takes after his father in the sense that he is quite easily amused. If I'm watching a movie and see Matthew Perry run into a glass sliding door and crash to the ground - all this because he's trying to dissuade his assistant and Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski from murdering his wife - I will laugh every time. Sadly, I don't own a copy of this movie, so I can't be a hundred percent sure of the details of the scene.

    One of Tyler's toys is an orange plastic tiger that is holding a purple plastic basket. On the basket it a blue plastic bird. The accessories to this toy are three - you guessed it - plastic balls. Tyler received this toy as a Christmas present from his Aunt Jillian. When you put a ball into the basket, it plays music and says things like "woohoo", "good job" and "you're grrrrrreat!" I find it a tad interesting that this orange tiger toy says "you're grrrrrrreat" in a very similar way that another orange tiger - which is not owned by the same company - says "they're grrrrrrrreat", in reference to the yummy qualities of a certain breakfast cereal.

    Playing with this toy with Tyler entails ME dropping the balls in the basket while I say "daddy puts the blue ball in the basket." Tyler usually watches with mild curiousity for a few moments, before crawling away to find a power cord to chew on. Sometimes, Tyler would pick up a ball with each hand. I would then giggle madly (to myself) when I told him what he was doing. "Tyler is holding his balls." *snicker* A few days ago, Tyler seemed to finally "get it". He picked up a ball and dropped it in the basket. I was so excited that I almost jumped up and performed cartwheels. Almost. My worries that maybe it was just a fluke were whisked away when he made 9 more baskets.

    Last night, after dinner and before bed, we found ourselves playing with the tiger toy while Sarah took some alone time to unwind and read the paper. Tyler picked up a ball and swung his arm towards me, like he wanted me to have it. I said "can daddy have the green ball?", as I pulled it from his hand. I couldn't tell you why I did this, but instead of dropping it in the basket, I made a chomping noise and put it in my mouth. Tyler grinned a little. I aimed down a bit and shot the ball from my mouth, popping Tyler in his leg. He laughed, hard, and handed me another ball. "Can daddy have the red ball?" Chomp. Pop. Laugh. Honestly, I have never heard Tyler laugh this hard before. A baby's laugh is quite infectious. Sarah put the paper down, laughing, to watch Tyler. I laughed everytime he did.

    After a few minutes, I lay down on my back and started shooting the ball in the air, and catching it in my hand. Tyler started laughing even harder. If we weren't having such a great time, I would have grabbed the camcorder. I don't know how much that toy tiger cost, but it was worth every penny.

    And if you were thinking of something entirely different when you read the title of this post, then shame on you. If that never even crossed your mind (liar), then shame on me.

    Suck On This - Part II

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    When Tyler wakes up in the wee hours between sunset and sunrise (you know the hours. Before parenthood, these would be the hours that you would just be stumbling towards bed, sometimes in a slightly inebriated stupor. These would be the hours that we now cherish as quiet, sleepy time), Sarah takes care of him nine times out of ten. It would be more accurate to say 99 times out of a hundred, but who's keeping track?

    Sometimes, he needs nursies. Other times, he just wakes up and can't go back to sleep until someone picks his pacifier off the floor and gives it back to him. That cursed (please pronounce it "curs-ed", not "cursd", because that's how I'm saying it as I type it out) pacifier. When Tyler was born, I told EVERYONE that I would rather give Tyler a pacifier than have him be a thumbsucker. My reasoning? Well, because I can take away a pacifier. I can't take away Tyler's thumbs. If I could go back and talk to the Joe of seven months ago, I'd slap the white off my own face.

    I never considered the flipside of such a scenario. When Tyler falls asleep, his pacifier falls out of his mouth, and ALWAYS drops off his crib to the floor. Upon waking up and realizing his pacifier is not within reach, he will gently call for his parents to come and rectify the situation. If we do not oblige within half a second, he cranks the volume up to 11 until we do so. Many a time have we walked into Tyler's room to see him reaching through the slats of his crib, looking at us as if to say "What? I tried getting it myself before asking for help."

    Normally, this doesn't really bother me. Sure, it's a tad frustrating and a bit of a nuisance, but when I go up there to plug his mouth, it's usually between 3 or 5 in the afternoon. In the middle of the night, Sarah gets up and tends to him. When a couple sleep in the same bed, the wife will grow accustomed to the husband's alarm clock going off every morning. Eventually, she won't even hear it anymore. I can't exactly say that I don't hear Tyler yelling, but I hear it in a deep part of my head, and it takes a while to wake me.

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    Well, Monday morning, almost simultaneous to my alarm going off, Sarah cried out in pain next to me. We're both unsure of what exactly happened. She either pulled a muscle in her neck, pinched a nerve, or "something" that would cause severe pain to shoot down her neck and shoulders. Pain so intense that she was sure that she was going to vomit, and actually had to rush - well, as much as a person in that kind of pain can rush - downstairs to the bathroom. After a few moments, it was obvious that she was in no condition to care for Tyler. Feeding him and playing with him would already be quite a chore for her. Picking him up and moving him back to an area where we could keep an eye on him after he crawled into another room and started pounding on Delilah's crate would be quite another.

    We managed to get through the day unscathed, with daddy at the caretaking helm. Sarah and Tyler have their daily routines, and I'm sure I did some things differently, but like I said, all came out fine. He's still got ten fingers and ten toes, and I'm still breathing, so we won't talk about the new bruise that is forming next to his right ear.

    Tyler was definitely tired when we put him to bed. A few hours later, we heard him crying. I went up to his room to find him sitting upright, just crying. It was a comical sight, and I did laugh. As a matter of fact, I laughed again when I "drew the picture" for Sarah. It wasn't a big deal, because I hadn't gone to bed yet. I was simply hanging out, downstairs, watching TV or cruising the information superhighway, I can't remember which.

    Later that night (*cough* one thirty in the morning *cough*), I found my dreams being infiltrated by a strange noise. It almost sounded like...

    Screaming? Crying? Is that a baby crying?

    "Gimme a break", I grumbled as I flung the covers off myself. Promptly, I discovered that our house is cold at night! I don't mean the cold where I need to put on a pair of socks. I'm talking about the cold where I should be wearing a snow suit, over three or four layers of pajamas and shirts, and have all that stuffed with those warm-packs that hunters take with them in sub-zero temperatures. We have one of those smart, energy efficient thermostats. At night, it drops down to 62ºf (17ºc) and I'm here to tell you that the piece of junk is defective. It was cold enough to make a polar bear migrate south. Sarah said that she had just finished breastfeeding Tyler, so he probably just needed his paci. That was fine with me, because I wanted to get under the snuggly covers again as quickly as possible.

    "Of course he does", I thought, as I quickly walked as quietly as I could, or quietly walked as quickly as I could, "Why couldn't he just be a thumb sucker?"

    I walked into his room to see him standing up in his crib, pacifier in mouth, crying. I kept thinking, "I have to be awake in four hours. I have to give a two hour presentation today. And he's crying just because he doesn't want to sleep?" *sigh*

    I put him back to bed and tucked him in. After listening to him cry for another fifteen minutes, I went back in there to give him his paci that somehow managed to drop to the floor. I swear he must be pulling it out of his mouth and throwing it, just to get a rise out of us. He went to sleep for the rest of the night shortly after that.

    Why is it that I get exactly what I wish for when it turns out to be exactly what I don't want. He shows no interest at all in his thumbs. I've changed my mind! I want him to give up the paci and discover his thumbs. I wonder if it would be acceptable to fashion a rubber band on the pacifier, so I could wrap it around his head to keep it in his mouth. Like a doctor's facemask.

    Technorati

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    Tyler's giving Sarah a back massage.

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around Technorati, and what it does, and what it's for... BUT, if you're on Technorati, fave me!

    Add to Technorati Favorites

    Charades

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    I've never played charades before. To get me to list and discuss the myriad reasons why this is the case, I'd need to be lying on a leather couch, talking to a guy whose name is suffixed with the letters PhD. Instead, I'll simply say that it just isn't my "thing". I understand the basics of the game. A person will stand in front of everyone else and start acting like a fool, flapping their arms, hopping on one foot, and pointing at their nose. This is all done in pantomime, because the "actor" is not allowed to speak. The audience then shouts out what they think the phrase is. The actor grows increasingly frustrated that the audience can't see that the answer is - OBVIOUSLY - Chuck Norris. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    There are certain signals that the actor can make to help the audience along. If he touches his nose and points at someone, that person correctly guessed the word that the actor was working on. Tugging on your ear means "sounds like". So, if he were to pull his ear and jump in the air, the audience would start shouting "dump", and "bump", and "hump". I only know this because I'm pretty sure I saw an episode of The Cosby Show, or Full House when I was younger where the family played charades.

    Here in the Gearhart household, we've been playing charades for the past three or four days. We made the mistake of having Tyler start the game as the actor. He's only 7 months old, so we didn't set high expectations for him. But he was horrible at it. Maybe we didn't explain the game to him well enough (or at all), but Sarah and I have been yelling out our guesses over and over again, and Tyler hasn't once touched his nose and pointed at us. Needless to say, we're still in the first round of the game.

    First, Tyler would grab and tug on his ear. "Sounds like", I thought. No problem. Then Tyler would yell and scream. Sarah and I thought of every rhyming word we could think of. Steam, team, cream, deem, slipstream. Nothing. Bell, cell, tell, oyster shell. Zilch. After a few days of guessing, we decided that either he sucks at charades, or we suck at parenting, so we took him to our family doctor. I had to work, so Sarah took him in.

    The diagnosis: Sounds like Bubble Smear Chinflection.

    Tyler is now taking Baby Motrin for pain (berry flavored), and amoxicillin for the infection.

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    Double ear infection. *sigh*

    To top it all off, we just (last week) took Delilah to the vet to get her ears flushed. She's had ear problems and allergies since the day we got her. We have to put medicine in her ears everyday and give her an antibiotic pill with her food.

    DOUBLE double ear infection. *double sigh*

    Stuff You Shouldn't Be Doing, Tyler

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    This picture has nothing to do with the content of this blog. Tyler's teething, so he makes this face a lot.

    Tyler has some pretty cool toys. He has this really awesome ball that's got a plastic monkey perched on the top of it. It makes noises and music when you roll it, and the monkey somehow manages to always stay on top. He has a turtle that counts to four, says shape names, and sings to the tune of an Italian song. He also has a spinning top type toy with animals on it. It sings, counts, lights up, and makes animal sounds.

    They're great toys and, as a bonus to me, aren't very expensive. I can see how these toys can help to teach things, like cause and effect, and other cool terms that aren't coming to my mind right now. And Tyler plays with none of them. I try to engage him, I really do. I giggle like a little girl while I bat the monkey ball around, amazed at the monkey's ability to balance precariously atop the green and blue ball. My acting ability is top notch. I can fool any child under the age of two into believing that I am genuinely delighted by this marvel of a toy. This is, of course, partly because I am genuinely delighted by this marvel of a toy. I want to take it apart and see how this modern-day version of a Weeble Wobble works.

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    I hope cardboard isn't unhealthy
    Tyler has no such interest. He looks at it - with just a hint of curiousity - for a moment, then proceeds to chew on my slipper. While it's on my foot. And I don't stop him. I'll have to file this post under the "bad parenting" category.

    As much as I've been praying that Tyler will develop superpowers, and become a real-life superhero, the one thing I do not want is for him to have any psychic powers. I find myself less-than-amused at his innate ability to find everything that he shouldn't be playing with. If there are ten toys surrounding Tyler, and one of Delilah's chewed-up ropes, Tyler will see the rope, and only the rope, and he will commence on chewing said rope. Why he has no desire to play with the toys that we paid good money for is beyond the scope of my knowledge. I'm going to become a millionaire by developing a product that will be guaranteed to get any child interested in any item of your choosing. It's going to be a sticker that simply says, "Keep out of reach of children". You put that sticker on his least favorite toy, and he'll never put it down again.

    Until I manufacture and market my idea, Sarah and I have to try to stay one step ahead of Tyler. I have a feeling that we will be playing this "game" for years and years to come. If we so much as blink after setting him on the floor, he'll have a power cord in his mouth. Tyler must think that "no" is a slang term for "awesome work, my dear boy. Your very survival is solely dependent on your eating cords at any and every opportunity". Tyler's has 2 other favorite items in our house. One is either a plant stand, or the ivy plant resting upon it; we haven't determined yet which of the two he is enamored with. He grabs at it every chance he gets. No amount of "no", or "bad", or "ucky" will dissuade him from reaching for it. When he does get his paws on it, he slides it closer to him. The sound of the wooden legs sliding across the hardwood floor is like a Klaxon alarm for us. We immediately have to charge after him and start with the calls of "no", and "we don't play with that".

    Tyler's other, and probably more, favorite household item is Delilah's water dish. I don't know how to keep him out of it. So far, all he's interested in is splashing his hand in it, but I'm petrified of what could happen if left to his own devices long enough. I've been unable to come up with a solution that allows Delilah to get to her water, but still keeps Tyler away from it. Maybe I could install one of those wireless fence systems in our house. Anytime Tyler goes near the water dish, which will be just outside of the boundary, he will be delivered a high-voltage reminder of his lapse in judgment via a wireless elastic headband. I'm open to ideas, dear readers. In the meanwhile, I've got something else I'd like to talk about.

    The library group that Sarah and Tyler attend had Valentine's Day treats on Tuesday. So, Sarah went to the store Monday night (yes babe, I just called you out for waiting until the last minute) to pick up some ingredients. She made a chocolate covered strawberry concoction, and it was delicious. Sarah is very gifted in the kitchen. It's win-win for me, because she loves to cook and try new things, and I love to eat. The added perk is that I get to be a taste tester when she makes these delicious desserts. If it weren't for my insane metabolism, I should easily weigh in at 300 or more pounds.

    I've jumped off track. While Sarah was at the store, I played on the floor with Tyler. He was having a blast knocking over the towers of blocks that I was building. Unfortunately, our floors aren't very level, so any stacks higher than 6 or 7 blocks is impressive. As I completed one such stack, I turned to Tyler to let him know I needed his destructive assistance. I found myself unable to form words or even thoughts when I looked at him. When thought did finally return, I had trouble deciding on whether I should yell at Tyler, or grab my camera. I decided to do both.

    "Tyler!!!", I yelled, jumping to my feet. "Don't move! Where's my camera?"

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    Yup, he can pull himself up now.
    With the help of some living room furniture, Tyler - all by himself - pulled himself to a stand. I didn't run fast enough, though. When I returned, he was crawling to the tower o' blocks to demonstrate his skill at unstacking. Fortunately for my "I have to document this" side, and unfortunately for my "he's growing up too fast" side, Tyler crawled to the entertainment center and pulled himself up, four more times! One of those times, he turned and looked directly into my eyes, and I swear to you that the expression on his face said, "watch this". Then he just let go and plopped on his butt, and smiled at me.

    I really was excited, really, and I expressed it as much as I could to him, with high pitched wows, and saying stuff like "good job" and "that's my big boy". But I'm worried that Tyler saw the fear that swam just below the surface of my visible emotions.

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    Tyler just let go of the only thing holding him up

    Played Us Like a Fiddle

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    Yesterday was Adam's 30th birthday. Three days ago, on Saturday, was the super secret awards-show style surprise birthday party that his wife had been planning for the previous 4 or 5 months. She rented a conference room at the local Radisson hotel, which we decorated around a red carpet awards show. I won't delve into her devious planning, and how she was able to arrange for him to be there in a suit, with him none the wiser, but it's a good story.

    I've spent the last 2 months (maybe three, I can't really remember), making a PowerPoint for the event, which became known as "The Non-Annual Quoties Awards". Adam has the innate ability to watch a movie one time and quote almost the entire thing afterward. As a result, he somehow manages to work movie quotes into everyday conversation, well, everyday. Some are easily worked into a discussion, like "You're killing me, Smalls", from "The Sandlot". Others aren't nearly as easy, but he pulls it off. It's a gift, for sure. The meat and potatoes of the PowerPoint went like this. A quote would appear on screen for about 4 seconds. All quotes were lines that Adam has been known to say, many times. Guests would then shout out their guesses for the movie the quote belongs to. Then the movie clip would play. It took two (or more) months, because I had to get the movie from Netflix, if I didn't already have it, rip it to the computer with one program, compress it to a windows movie file with another, find the quote and mark its start and end frame with yet another program, and extract the segment of movie with a final program. After all the quotes and slides were loaded, I had to rearrange them all into a random order, and set the timing up for the clips. Sound effects, animations, blah blah blah.

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    The general format of the Quoties slideshow

    On Friday, I watched the slideshow about 10 times, and tweaked a few things. Sarah took Tyler to visit a friend that just had a baby, which allowed me to concentrate my time into making these final adjustments. The party was about two hours from us (ah, the joys of moving away from all of one's friends), so we spent Saturday morning getting everything around and packed up. The difficulty in this was that Tyler was being an absolute nightmare; easily the worst he's been since he was born. A peek into his mouth during these endless screams revealed the very beginnings of Tyler's third tooth. His first two teeth were the bottom front teeth. I don't recall which one is normally the next one to come through - and it's not worth my time to google it again - but this one wasn't it. Tyler appears to be copying Maddie, by bringing in his left, upper eye-tooth next (also known as the canine, or the fang tooth).

    It really hurts us to see our son in pain. The bigger problem is that we had a party to get to that night. If we were just regular guests (and I'm not being demeaning in saying this), we would have called and canceled. But, the PowerPoint was a very key element to the party. No matter what, the laptop had to get up there and hooked up to the speakers and projector! Sarah's last nerve was in danger of snapping and she needed a baby-break. So, she went to the store to look at shoes while I tended to the tester-of-sanity.

    "Tyler, I don't know what to do, buddy."

    He continued screaming as the lightbulb clicked on above my head. You know the lightbulb. It's the one that has the word "idea" curved around the top of the bulb. Sometimes, little lines will come off the word, to show emphasis on the fact that despair has been replaced with a brilliant thought. I searched through the luggage bag that Sarah packed, for the magical tube of Baby Teethers Orajel. I squirted about a half pea sized amount onto my finger and rubbed it onto his gums. For good measure, I handed the tube to him, so he could suck what he wanted to out of it, like an on-demand morphine drip. I'm making that last part up, but it did cross my mind. On a scale of one to a hundred, with one hundred being the best, the effect of the Orajel on Tyler's pain (as judged by the longevity and pitch of his screams) was about 0.00000001. And that was being generous.

    Have you ever watched a movie where the hero was hanging off a cliff by a rope, and the individual threads of the rope started to break and unravel, spelling certain doom for our hero? That's how I visualized my nerves and patience. Then I heard keys.

    "MOMMY'S HOME!"

    An angel, surrounded by bright, pure, white light appeared in the doorway, and she was holding a package of Baby Motrin. Berry flavored, no less. I couldn't read the dosage table, indications and fine print fast enough. Tyler definitely liked the taste of it too, because he looked at me as if asking where the rest of it was.

    Further complicating everything else, this was to be the first time that Tyler would be left with a babysitter. Let me clarify, because he's previously been left in the care of his aunts while Sarah and I went out. This time he was going to be cared for by a complete stranger. We weren't terribly worried, because this is the same person that watches Adam and Mel's son, Ben, and they love her. But he was wearing on our patience, and we're his parents. I had a real fear that she could just lose her temper with Tyler.

    We drove up to Kalamazoo and parked at a "For Sale" house just around the corner from Adam's and Mel's. At 6:09p, they pulled out and turned the other way. I said "It's go time" and quickly drove to their house, unloaded the supplies and hopped into Mel's SUV to go to the Radisson. Before I left, I told the babysitter to please be patient with our grumpy baby and call us for anything. Sarah was sticking around for another 20 minutes to go over all the details with her.

    Fast forward about 90 minutes. We were all setup and waiting for Adam and Mel to arrive from their dinner date to the surprise party. All the guests were lined up on the "red carpet" with their cameras. They were instructed to act as paparazzi for the guest of honor. Problem is, the guest of honor and his wife were running late, so every time I walked back into the room to update them (Melanie was sending Sarah text messages while Sarah spied from the halls of the hotel, looking for them) the guests all looked up, ready to yell and start taking pictures. All I saw were the looks of disappointment when they saw that it was just me. Truthfully, during one of my entrances, they expressed a collective sigh of disappointment, which was a mixture of "uhhh", deep exhalations, and "come on". It's great for ones pride and ego.

    Finally we got the message. "We're in the hotel. Adam's going to the bathroom." Sarah and I ran into the room and told them to take their places. When they walked in, flashes were going off everywhere as I faded in AC/DC's "Thunderstruck".

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    "What are you wearing?", "Who did your eyebrows?", and "Where the hell have you been?" were just a few of the comments I could hear over the music, as I was crouched right next to the speakers. The speech, the PowerPoint, and the surprise couldn't have gone any better. After the "awards" portion, we all started to mingle and talk and drink. There was a table setup with theatre sized boxes of candy, and a popcorn machine next to the beverage table. Sarah sent me into the hall to check her voicemail since there was no reception in the room that the party was in.

    "You have 1 new message, and 2 old messages", piped the recorded, emotionless female voice.

    "Hi Sarah, this is Jaime..."

    My heart jumped. Could Tyler really have been so bad that she had to call us? Why didn't I pay attention to when the message was received? How long ago was this?

    "... I just wanted to let you know that Tyler..."

    Seriously? Talk faster, woman! Get to the point!

    "... is sound asleep. He's been great tonight. He did start to get a little fussy, so I read him a book and put him to bed, and he went right to sleep..."

    I stood there, with Sarah's pink phone to my ear in stunned silence as she continued her message about Tyler's angelic behavior. The boy that seemed to be possessed by the darkest demons just 12 hours ago? I could feel the walls start to close in on me as I realized that my son is a two faced liar, and he played us like a fiddle. How could I ever have sympathy for Tyler and his Crocodile tears again? Little faker.

    "... press 7. To save this message, press 9."

    Snapping back to reality, I pressed 9 and folded the phone closed. Sarah's mouth made an audible thud as it hit the floor when I relayed the message. I told her that I saved the message because I knew she wouldn't believe me.

    If you are able to swim through... the Ring of Fire!

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    I went back and forth trying to title this post. The runner up was "Sharkbait OO HA HA", but then I realized that both titles would fall on deaf ears if you've never seen "Finding Nemo" half a dozen times or so.

    On the off chance that you haven't seen nor heard of the movie - and, if you're a parent and haven't seen that movie, then shame on you - it's about a fish. How's that for giving away the entire storyline?

    Tyler is taking swimming lessons at the YMCA. Sarah signed him up a few weeks ago. The classes are once a week for about 30 minutes, and go for 12 weeks (if I remember correctly). Tyler just turned 7 months old, so we don't really expect him to understand us when we say "kick your feet! kick your feet!", or try to get him to climb up the ledge of the pool (really, the instructor told Sarah to try to get him to climb up there, even though he can barely crawl). But, it's a good activity for him, and you can't go wrong introducing somebody to swimming and water.

    I can't swim. When I was young - I don't know how old exactly, but I was young - and I was at the beach with my dad, he decided he was going to teach me to swim. He had his hands under my body while I tried getting accustomed to the water. I said, very specifically, "Don't let go", to which he responded that he wouldn't. Mere seconds later, he removed his hands and I panicked. Because of that experience, I've had a very real fear of water since then. That's not to say that I couldn't take baths or get on a boat. I just couldn't put my body into any water that didn't allow my feet to touch the dirt while my head was still above water. Even in that shallow water, I couldn't do anything other than stand straight up. If we were playing frisbee and it went left or right of me, I could NOT dive for it. I've come leaps and bounds in the last few years. I've actually gone tubing, water-skiing, and "swimming", but only with the aid of a life jacket. And I've somehow managed to not loose my mind when I get thrown from the tube, or get a water enema from skiing.

    So, I think it's great that Tyler is getting exposed to water and swimming so early in life. When Summer rolls around, and we go to the lake with our friends, or to the local pool as a family, Tyler will be a year old and will hopefully take to the water much more easily than I did.

    I've only been to one of Tyler's classes. Sarah told me that in his first class, he didn't appear to be comfortable in the water, but that he still did pretty well. From then on, though, he loved it. I went with them this previous Wednesday to check it out for Tyler's third class. I had a feeling that cameras were probably not allowed in there, so I just brought it in without asking. Better to ask forgiveness, than permission, right?

    I can not believe how much Tyler enjoyed being in the pool. He was splashing and kicking, and lunging his body all over the place. Sarah had difficulty time holding him a few times. I'm still learning how some of the settings on my camera work, so bear with me on some of these shots.

    Tyler loves splashing his arms in the water.
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    He was even pretty comfortable on his back. I really didn't know what they were trying to accomplish, though. The instructor told them what to do, but I was completely focused on taking pictures. I'm pretty sure they were working on kicking their feet.
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    They were definitely working on foot kicking here. Tyler did really well, but we knew he would, because he does that in the bathtub too.
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    On his belly, Tyler did a great job of holding his head up while kicking and waving his arms. It'll be awhile before we let go of him, but he's definitely understanding the concept. Either that, or he just loves to splash the water. I'd like to say that it's the former, but I've got a hunch that it's the latter.
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    Time to towel off and hit the showers. I can only guess how much chlorinated water Tyler swallowed over the last 25 minutes.
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    Once we got home, Delilah gave Tyler some "good job" kisses after we told her how great Tyler did in the pool.
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    Oreo

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    Tyler had his first Oreo cookie last week. I would prefer that he not be given "grown up" foods yet, as he's only 7 months old, but it's a type of tradition with Sarah's family. When the first tooth comes in, and baby can sit up on his own, he's ready for his first cookie. I've learned the art of "choosing your battles", so I just grabbed the camera, knowing there would be some gems in there. If you would like to browse all of the Oreo pictures, they start here. For those of you that don't want to look at picture after picture after picture, here are a couple highlights.

    The first step is to give the baby a cookie, and then get very far away.
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    At first, I thought it would go relatively well. I found myself wondering why Sarah took all his clothes off, and had him in only a diaper.
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    It almost looked as if he wanted to see what he looked like with a mustache.
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    It was when Tyler started drooling that I started getting grossed out. He had dark brown drool flowing down his chin, neck, chest, and stomach.
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    Tyler's chubby hands were equally filthy.
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    Yeah, all down his chest and belly.
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    Tyler seemed to thoroughly enjoy this new, sugary food.
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    Sarah tried volunteering me for bathtime. I told her she was out of mind, because the Oreo fiasco was not my idea. As a last ditch attempt, she said that it wasn't hers either. I told her it was HER family's tradition, not mine. She realized I wasn't going to budge, and grabbed the filthy baby.
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    Luckily for everyone involved, Tyler cleans up nicely.
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    Normalcy

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    I'm not going to detail all of the events that have taken place over the last few weeks. Suffice it to say, we've been busy since around December 23rd.

    Last Sunday through Wednesday, I was in Phoenix, Arizona. Due to the nature of my work, I only see my co-workers about 3 or 4 times a year, so these meetings are a great time to catch up, and re-energize for another year of lonesome work. Sadly, Tyler was already in bed when I got home. Allison (Sarah's sister) came to visit on Thursday. Later that evening, we were joined by Jillian (another of Sarah's sisters) and her almost-2-year-old daughter, Lexi.

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    Friday was a very long, and very unlucky day for me. My workday ended up being about 3 hours longer than I had planned for. When I finished up, I walked my tools to my workvan. I drive a minivan, and the rear door opens "up" like a hatchback. Due to the ice that was all over the van, the door didn't raise all the way up. So, when I leaned in, I cracked my forehead on the door. After mumbling a few words, I lifted the door up and leaned in again. The door had, lucky me, drifted down, causing me to crack my forehead again. In the exact same spot. I was furious at this point. I shoved the door, grabbed my tool box, and swung it up to load it into my van. It turns out that I didn't fully latch the tool box closed. Wrenches and screwdrivers went flying all over the parking garage, mostly under other cars. Have I mentioned, yet, that it was -17º Fahrenheit outside?

    Not having any co-workers nearby to vent to, I called Sarah. She told me that UPS dropped a box off on the porch. Now, I get deliveries 3 or 4 days a week for work, but those come via FedEx. I've only been expecting one package from UPS. The flood waters of bad luck must be receeding, because that package contains my shiny new camera and lens. The drive home that evening suddenly became much brighter.

    While the battery charged, I read the entire user's guide on how to attach the lens, set the aperture, and change the shutter speed. I fell in love the moment I pressed the shutter for the first time.

    Then I dropped the camera! I was sitting in the kitchen with Sarah and her sisters and... Well, I don't know. I just dropped it. Knowing I wouldn't be quick enough to catch it, I stuck my foot out, hoping to break its fall. It worked, thankfully. The camera hit my foot, and rolled to the floor. On Sarah's advice, I promptly added the neck strap, and watched as they all played Clue.

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    Then I dropped the camera again! I was gesturing with my hands while telling a story, and slapped the camera right off the table. There were no fall-breaking interventions this time. The camera crashed to the floor. I wasn't worried though, because I've read countless reviews about this particular model. Many people have told stories of dropping their cameras on concrete and having them suffer little more than a scratch. What level of damage could a peel-and-stick linoleum floor do? I've got the answer to that question, and it's "a LOT". Linoleum must be some sort of camera kryptonite, because the LCD screen was shattered. *sigh*

    Side note: I mean, come on. If you watch football, you've seen some of the hits that photographers, and their cameras, take when a wide receiver crashes into them after being forced out of bounds. How could I have thought that my camera would be destroyed from a tumble off a table, when I watch them collide with 300-pound monsters, with no apparent ill-effects? It's just not fair.

    I'm not going to tell the story of how I now have a replacement, because I feel guilty for my deceptions. All I'll admit to is that the phrase "shipping damage" may have been mentioned. Don't look at me like that!! Let he who has not sinned blah blah blah.

    Friday was a very unlucky day indeed.

    I have not dropped my "new" new camera yet - knock on wood- and am absolutely in love with it.

    The rest of the weekend was about as crazy as you could imagine it to be with a 2 year old who doesn't like taking naps and doesn't like not getting what she wants.

    Sarah made the comment that, much like yawning, crying appears to be contagious between kids.

    My only hope for the next 3 to 7 days is a return to normalcy. Well, I guess I'm also hoping that I can fight away the cold that my body is trying to catch. I think I may actually be winning this battle.
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    Don't let this face deceive you. Evil lurks beneath