12.31.2009

That Damn Black-banded Leporinus


Black Banded Leporinus
Originally uploaded by catxcatxx

My black-banded leporinus has done it again. Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how my black-banded leporinus had been attacking the other fish in my aquarium, killing the albino tiger barb. Well today it murdered the only other fish in the aquarium that really swims around a lot, the red-tail tinfoil barb. There is also a plecostomus in the aquarium, but it does not swim around much, at least not when people are watching. So help me, if this fish starts attacking the pleco, I will have to get rid of it. Of course then I could restock the aquarium with all new, and hopefully less-aggressive, fish.

Avatar

Mel and I both used vacation days, this final day of 2009, so with Emma at preschool, the two of us went to see Avatar. We saw the movie in 3D, and it was well worth the extra cost to do that. I thought Avatar was a fantastic movie. For maybe the first two thirds of the movie, I thought it was really good, but that it wasn't living up to the hype. However, by the time the film was over I had changed my opinion on this. I thought it was absolutely amazing! First of all, the special effects were awesome! The alien characters and their environment seemed so real, and when actual people were in the same scene, it appeared to be so seamless. I really liked the characters as well. The main character of the film started out as a sympathetic character, but then he lost my sympathy and I started to really dislike him, but by the end of the film, he was again a hero. The big battle at the end of the movie was one of the best I have seen in a movie in a long time. I am not sure if it was the 3D glasses or what, but I was so engaged in the film at that point that I could feel my heart rate increase dramatically from just watching it. Avatar is a movie I will definitely see again. I'd see it again in the theater, but there are a lot of other movies playing right now that I would like to see, and we so seldom get out to movies that we probably would go see something else instead. However I will be watching this when it is available on DVD.

12.28.2009

Furniture Shopping

For a while now, we have really needed some new living room furniture. Mel has owned the sofa and love seat we have for quite some time, and they were used when she got them. Holes are starting to form in the fabric of the seat cushions, and they are rather dingy. So tonight we went to Slumberland to check out some new furniture. We decided to go because their ad for the week that was in Sunday's paper showed a sofa that we could buy and then get a free matching love seat. Well we checked that sofa out, and it was alright, but upon touring the store, we found a better sofa. And while it does cost more than we intended on spending, it seems like it will be more durable. The sofa and love seat that we are buying are also larger than the ones we had gone in specifically to look at. And to top it all off, they both recline! Mel's family is coming to our house for Christmas this Friday, postponed from last weekend, so we were hoping to get the furniture by then. However, they didn't have what we wanted in stock, so we will have to wait three to five weeks for it. It looks like the new furniture should arrive just in time for when the new baby arrives as well.

Back to Work

After four days off from work, six if you count the weekend, I am getting back to work. I am starting a little late this morning as I just returned home from taking my sister to the airport. I enjoy the time off to spend with family, but I don't mind getting back to work. It probably helps that I like my job for the most part.

12.26.2009

My Dead Pool Results for the Year

This year I participated in a celebrity dead pool at TheDeadpool.com. Unless someone else on my list dies by the end of the year, I will have only earned a pathetic 37 points for the year. The only people on my list who died this year were Ted Kennedy and Bea Arthur. Perhaps I will do better for 2010.

Christmas

I had a great Christmas yesterday. Emma actually slept fairly late, not waking up until almost 8:00. She was excited to see that Santa Claus had been here and had left her presents. She was excited, but quite patient. She checked out the contents of her stocking first. In that, she got some M&Ms, some Hot Wheels cars, a Fisher Price Little People figure, and a few other things.We then waiting to open other presents until my sister came over. As she the driveway of her condo hadn't been plowed yet, I went to pick her up.

When I returned home with my sister, Emma opened her Christmas presents from both Santa and from Mel and me. Mel and I also opened our presents to each other, and we had Rebecca open one of the presents we had gotten for her. Emma got another baby doll. She also got accessories for the doll, including a stroller, extra clothes, and baby dishes. She also got a Mr. Potato Head, which she also enjoys playing with. From Mel, I got a bear from the Build-a-Bear Workshop which is dressed as a Jedi knight. Very cool!

Later in the afternoon, after both Mel and Emma had taken naps, we all went to my aunt and uncle's house for dinner. We had gone there on Christmas Eve after church in the afternoon where we participated in their family Christmas celebration. Last night though, we hung out for a while, visiting with my aunt and uncle as well as my uncle who lives in North Carolina who is in town visiting. One of my cousins and her family came over shortly and we all had dinner. After playing Uno Attack for a while after dinner, we took my sister back home and then returned home ourselves.

Despite the fact that our plans for celebrating Christmas were completely thrown out the window because of the snow storm, we still had a good Christmas. We plan on doing more Christmas celebrating next Friday with Mel's family. Now we just need to figure out when to see my mom for opening more presents.

12.25.2009

Tay Zonday sings "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

You may remember Tay Zonday from his performance of his song "Chocolate Rain," but then again, maybe you don't. Anyway, by popular demand, he has released a performance of himself singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!


Merry Christmas!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very merry Christmas!



12.24.2009

Snowmageddon 2009

It looks like I'm not going anywhere today, aside from church and my aunt and uncle's house just a couple of miles away, this afternoon. I have already cleared six inches of snow from the driveway and I have heard that we should expect at least another foot before the entire storm is finished.





Oscar the Grouch Hates Christmas

Continuing my series of non-traditional Christmas videos this week, here is Oscar the Grouch singing "I Hate Christmas."


12.23.2009

Trip Cancelled

Emma, my sister, and I were going to drive to my mother's house in Iowa tonight so we could celebrate Christmas with her and the rest of my family. I was really looking forward to this trip because both of my cousins who live in Germany, as well as their spouses and children, are back in the United States. I haven't seen them for quite a while, and the only time Emma ever met any of their children was when she was still an infant. However, this big winter storm that is coming has cancelled our plans. We could possibly have made it to Iowa if we had left early enough today, but we likely would not have been able to get home on Christmas day as we had planned. Since Mel would have been unable to go along with us, and Emma and I wanted to be back home on Christmas to spend the day with her, we are staying home. I am not sure yet if my sister is going to try to make it to Iowa on her own, but she has to be back to the Cities for something on Monday, so she might not go either.

As well as cancelling a trip to Iowa, Mel's family in Iowa who were planning on coming to Minnesota to celebrate Christmas with us on the twenty-sixth may not be able to make it either because of the storm. It looks like that celebration may need to be rescheduled as well.

At least Emma and I get to spend Christmas with Mel. And assuming the weather isn't absolutely horrible tomorrow, we will be able to see my aunt and uncle who live down the highway from us, as well as my uncle who lives in North Carolina as he is here visiting.

Happy Festivus!

I would like to wish you all a happy Festivus, if "happy" is the right word for it.


The Muppets: Ringing of the Bells

Today's Christmas song is the Ukrainian Bell Carol performed by the Muppets' Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal.


12.22.2009

Merry Christmas...If That's Okay!

Here is another Christmas carol, or not, from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to help you to celebrate this joyous season.


12.21.2009

A Christmas Carol from Mystery Science Theater 3000

Here's a nice Christmas video to help get you all in the mood for Christmas.


New Cell Phones

Mel's cell phone has been acting up recently, giving really bad reception to the people she talks to, so since we were at the end of our two-year cell phone contract, we went out to buy some new cell phones yesterday. While we would have loved to get smartphones, we really couldn't justify the added expense we would incur with the required plans for those phones. Besides, Mel already thinks I am on Twitter and Facebook too much as it is. With a smartphone, my usage of those would only increase. One requirement that both Mel and I had for our phones was a QWERTY keyboard. Both of us have begin texting more since we bought our last cell phones in December 2007, and a full keyboard would really help with texting.

After being shown the three non-smartphone phones in the store, we had a decision to make. We quickly narrowed our decision to between two phones, the LG Chocolate Touch and the LG enV3. The touch phone looked really cool, having a touch screen and no physical keys, but with the discounts we were getting, it was still going to cost us $110 more for both of us to get that than if we got the enV3, which we would get one free when we bought one. With the discount we were getting for upgrading our phones, the first of the two enV3s was already free. So when it came down to spending $110 versus $0, that made our choice fairly simple. Besides, I think I like the feel of actually having a physical keyboard to use. I think it makes it easier for me and my big fingers. So while the LG Chocolate Touch looked cooler, we each got an enV3 phone, which still look pretty snazzy. Fortunately that had two different colors of this model of phone in stock. So now Mel has a maroon phone and I have a blue one. That will help us keep the two phones straight between us.

Now this next part of my blog posting is a bit morbid, but I am going to include it anyway. While we were at the desk with the salesperson, I received a text message on my old cell phone which was still active. It was a text from a coworker of mine in Iowa City. She was letting me know that Brittany Murphy had died. So I told Mel what the text was. Both she and the salesperson were quite surprised by that news. To confirm the news, and to get additional information, the salesperson immediately looked it up on her Blackberry. Now to my readers, it might seem a bit odd that a friend of mine would text me when someone who neither of us knew personally, although I was once on a flight from Minneapolis to Cedar Rapids with Brittany Murphy, died.

This all started this past summer when Michael Jackson died. I was talking on the phone with this coworker the next day and she expressed mock disappointment in me for not informing her of the death of the King of Pop. Now I would have called her once I learned the news, but once it was confirmed, it was after our normal workdays, so I assumed that she would be at home or somewhere where such news would be spreading like wildfire. She was however working late that evening. So every time I learned of a celebrity death since then, no matter the caliber of the celebrity, I have either called, emailed, or texted her to let her know. I can only assume that since she hadn't heard from me when she learned the news, she assumed I didn't know, so she returned the favor and texted me. Now this all reminds me that I need to get to work on my picks for my death pool list for 2010.

12.19.2009

And Then There Were Three

I must be a really bad aquarist. Today another of the fish in my aquarium passed away. My albino tiger barb had not been looking well for the past few weeks, and it especially seemed to go downhill after my two remaining tiger barbs started disappearing from the aquarium a few weeks ago. This evening I noticed that the black-banded leporinus was really going after the albino fish. He was really digging into it. While drying dishes this evening, I noticed that the albino tiger barb was swimming upside down. It was still alive, but I knew it wouldn't last long. And indeed, within a couple hours, the fish was gone. So now I am left with the black-banded leporinus, a red-tail tinfoil barb, and a plecostomus. I'd like to get some new fish, but that won't happen as long as these remaining fish survive. Any new fish would be too small to introduce into an aquarium with these larger fish.

12.18.2009

Alec Baldwin and his Schweddy Balls

As soon as I saw the commercials for Saturday Night Live's holiday special that aired last night, I knew that they would have to show the Delicious Dish sketch from December 1998 in which Alec Baldwin's character, Pete Schweddy, talks about the tasty balls he makes for Christmas.


Hallelujah!

A friend of mine posted a link to this video of some high schoolers performing Handel's Hallelujah chorus. I thought it was cute, so I am sharing it with you all here.



Emma's First Performance

On Wednesday night we went to Emma's daycare center for their holiday program. Emma and her classmates sang three songs, "I Am a Little Snowman" (to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"), "Santa's Reindeer" (to the tume of "Frère Jacques"), and "Jingle Bells" (also to the tune of "Frère Jacques"). It was cute to see Emma and all of her classmates stand at the front of the room singing these songs. Emma sang a little bit, but some of the time she just stood there smiling. At least she seemed to have a good time.

12.17.2009

Christmas Video of the Week: Kathy Lee's Hip-Hop Christmas

Okay, this video is just awful, but I am going to share it anyway. This is Kathy Lee Gifford's Hip Hop Christmas.


12.15.2009

A Lot of Hits Recently

I've noticed that I have been receiving a significant number of visits to my blog from people who searched for "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sexist" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sexism" on Google. It appears that as of a moment ago when I checked, my blog comes up either second of fifth in the Google search, depending on which phrase is used. I never imagined that my blog entry about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would garner such attention.

Starting Christmas

On Sunday, Emma and I went to Mel's grandmother's house in Iowa for a Christmas celebration. Mel did not come along because she has found such long drives to be somewhat uncomfortable with her about seven weeks from giving birth. Travelling with Emma sure makes the trip interesting, and a bit longer than it was before she was out of diapers. We ended up making four potty stops during what should have been a three-hour drive, but we made it accident-free!

Dinner was good, and Emma had an especially good time opening presents. She got a dolly, which she barely lets out of her sight when she's at home, some Play-Doh, and a large stuffed ladybug which turns into a pillow. I got the 2009 Star Trek movie on DVD. This is somewhat ironic, because I got the present from Mel's brother, and it was for him that I bought a Christmas present, Star Trek on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, his wife also got him that movie, so I guess one of them will be going back.

Our drive back to Minnesota took even longer than our drive down. Not only did we have numerous potty stops, but we had to get gas and stop for dinner. We did make it home eventually, and Emma was very happy to see her mommy again. She told me that she missed her when we were gone.

12.10.2009

Christmas Video of the Week: R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas

From the Meco Mondaro's 1980 album Christmas In the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album, here is the song "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas." This song is the first professional recording by then seventeen-year-old Jon Bon Jovi.


12.08.2009

A Creepy Christmas Song

I went to YouTube this morning and I saw a video titled "Christmas Is Creepy" in the "Spotlight: Music Tuesday" section of the page. Wondering what it was, I decided to give it a watch. It is a video by Fred Figglehorn, whom I had not heard of prior to watching the video. Apparently his YouTube channel is the second most subscribed to YouTube channel in the United States. Who knew? Anyway here is the video of "Christmas if Creepy" followed by his video for "Christmas Cash."




12.07.2009

Titanic

Yesterday Mel and I went to see the Titanic exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota with my sister and our friend Martha. We left Emma with my aunt and uncle since we didn't think she would have a great time. And if Emma were along not having a good time, we probably wouldn't either. Our visit started by watching the film Titanica at the Omnitheater. It was good film which documented an exploration of the Titanic wreck. Both my sister and I wondered about one aspect of the film. There were photos of one of the survivors of the Titanic. I would think that the people rushing to the lifeboats would not have taken the time to grab personal possessions, such as cameras, when they left their rooms, but I guess I am wrong about that.

The exhibit itself was fascinating. It was really interesting to see some of the things that survived the sinking intact. There were a couple of bottles, including a champagne bottle. I am surprised that these did not break under the intense pressure of the water. The stack of dished that remained stacked neatly in there resting place at the bottom of the ocean were also fascinating.

Another Visit With Saint Nick

Saturday, Mel went to a craft show with my sister, so that left me alone with Emma. I wanted to go to the Mall of America to do some Christmas shopping, so the two of us set out for the mall. We spent a few hours roaming the mall, mostly just window shopping. There was one store in particular that I intended to make a purchase from, and I did find something there to buy.

While at the mall, Emma and I ate lunch at McDonald's. Now McDonald's isn't my preferred quick service restaurant, but it is one which Emma enjoys. As usual, I ordered her a Happy Meal. Since Emma is a girl, the cashier automatically specified with the order that a "girl toy" be placed in the Happy Meal. The current toys that McDonald's has for girls are Strawberry Shortcake rubber stamps. Now these toys suck for two reasons. First, they aren't really toys, and second, they make a real mess. The toys they have that are specified for boys are mini Nerf toys. I had them replace Emma's rubber stamper with a Nerf toy, and I am very glad I did. Emma got a little Nerf cannon which shoots plastic darts at targets. She absolutely loves this toy.

After we finished our shopping at the mall, we went to a nearby Walmart to pick up a few other things that we needed. Like the weekend before, there was a Santa Claus at the Walmart, so Emma got her picture taken with him as well. Of course, as we then shopped around the store as we waited for the photo, Emma kept asking to go back to see Santa again. He shift had ended though, so we did not. We had a fun time shopping, and I think we are done seeking out Santa Clauses for this Christmas season.


12.05.2009

Bonus Christmas Video: John Denver and the Muppets - The 12 Days of Christmas

I was just going to post Christmas videos on Thursdays prior to Christmas, but as today is the thirtieth anniversary of the television special John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together, I am including a video from that special today. Here is John Denver and the Muppets performing "The 12 Days of Christmas."



12.04.2009

The Bathroom Is Almost Done

In July of last year, while Mel and I were on RAGBRAI, we had the bathtub and sink replaced in the house. As a result of that, the floor of the bathroom has looked horrible since then. There were tiles under where the vanity had been, and there was a gap in the subflooring in front of the bathtub. Well today I finally put new tile on the floor, using self-adhesive tile squares. The hardest part of that was cutting the tile for the curves it had to go around. Now that it is done, it looks much better. I still have to install moulding around the perimeter of the room. I will try to get to that this weekend.

Tonight I fixed the exhaust fan in the bathroom as well. I had bought a fan about a year ago. A few weekends ago I tried to install it, trying to fit the motor and the part it was connected to into the space that was in the ceiling. It did not fit and I ended up breaking it trying to get it to fit. Tonight we found a different fan at Menards which happened to be the same model as the one that had been installed in the ceiling previously. It was very simple to slip the motor and blades of the fan into the existing housing. Now we have a working exhaust fan in the bathroom.

Neither of these tasks was really that difficult. I do not know why I didn't take care of them a year ago, but at least they are done now.

Preschool

Emma has now completed her first week in the preschool class at daycare. Prior to Thanksgiving, Emma had been spending some time in the afternoons in the preschool class, but beginning this Monday, Emma has spent the entire day in preschool. Well actually, Monday through Wednesday, I dropped Emma off with her old class and she went to preschool after breakfast. But Thursday and Friday she went directly to the preschool class. Emma seems to be doing really well in that class. I had been worried that she would not do well since the teacher she really loved is still with the toddler class, but Emma appears to like her new teachers. She also likes playing with her new classmates. I guess I had nothing to worry about.

12.03.2009

Rudolph the Sexist Reindeer

Last night CBS aired the classic 1964 TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We decided to let Emma stay up to watch it as she has recently taken an interest in Christmas-related television programming, watching part of The Santa Clause with us this past weekend. We even let Emma stay up past her bedtime to watch the entire program which ran until 8:02. Why it had to be an hour and two minutes long is beyond me. I suppose they needed those extra two minutes of advertising revenue.

We all enjoyed watching Rudolph, although Emma, who primarily watched shows on commercial-free Playhouse Disney, did not seem to understand why the show went away every ten to fifteen minutes for commercials. She kept saying that she wanted the snowman, the narrator voiced by Burl Ives, back. In fact, I think the Sam the Snowman was her favorite character in the entire program as she kept asking where he was. Emma did not get scared by the Abominable Snow Monster of the North. She did say that he was not nice though and was a little concerned when he showed up at the very end when he helped to decorate the Christmas tree.

One thing about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that really stuck out to me was the dialog was quite dated. One can tell, just from how the narrator speaks, that this program was made decades ago. People just do not talk like that anymore. Another aspect of the show that shows that this show was from a different time was the sexist nature of some of the dialog. A couple of examples from the show, both spoken by Donner, Rudolph's father, were when he was going to set out to search for Rudolph, Rudolph's mother and girlfriend wanted to come along, Donner told them that they could not come along because it was "man's work." Then later, after being rescued from the Abominable Snow Monster, Donner says that the women need to get back   home. I wondered why. Did they have to get back to cook and clean before he got home himself?

Another thing that bothered me was how much of a jackass Donner and the other adults, including Santa, the jolly old elf himself, were toward Rudolph simply because he was born different from all of the other Reindeer. I can understand that the other reindeer children gave him problems, after all kids can be unkind like that. And besides, the song kind of requires the other kids to leave him out. But even his own father showed extreme disappointment in Rudolph, directly to him, because of his birth defect. Not only was Santa a ass to Rudolph, but he just mean in general. He did not seem to care for his elves, finding their song to be annoying and not good enough. And his wife wasn't much better, insisting on fattening him up. She apparently did not care about his health.

And what was wrong with the doll on the Island of Misfit Toys? She seemed fine to me. Also, so what, the elephant had polka dots on it? Did all toys in 1964 realistically depict whatever it was they were supposed to be? Today no one would think twice about a toy elephant that was not gray like real elephants are. Finally, do elves not care about their teeth? The very idea of an elf being a dentist was just ludicrous to Hermie's supervisor. But I guess that when you live at the North Pole and make toys year round, you don't need good teeth?

I seriously doubt that this show would be made in this way if it were made today, or even a decade ago in fact. Nevertheless, I look forward to many more Christmas seasons of enjoying Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Emma and her little brother.

Christmas Video of the Week: Wham! - Last Christmas

Today, and for the next three Thursdays, I will be posting a different Christmas video. This week's video is from 1984. Here is Wham! performing their song "Last Christmas."


12.02.2009

The Golden Girls on Marriage Equality

The Golden Girls was really quite a progressive program for its time. This clip from an episode in 1990 or 1991 shows Sophia explaining why Blanche's gay brother would want to get married.


Made My Decision

Yesterday I wrote that I was trying to make a decision regarding buying an electric shaver to replace the manual razor I have been using for years. I decided today to go ahead and buy the Philips Norelco SpeedXL 8240X, which was the least expensive of the three shavers I was considering seriously. I went to Target to see how much they were charging for it. Their price was $79.99. At Amazon.com the price was $10 less, so I ordered it from there. In addition, I have a form for a $10 rebate on the razor which will bring my final price down to $59.99. Since I want to receive it as soon as possible, as my current razor blade won't last too long, I signed up for a free 30-day trial membership of Amazon Prime. With that I get free two-day shipping. Once I am done purchasing any additional Christmas presents that I may want from Amazon.com, I will cancel that membership. I definitely would not get my money's worth out of it during the rest of the year. I hope this shaver does a good job, otherwise I may end up sending it back to Philips Norelco and giving a different one a try.

12.01.2009

Electric Shaver?

Last weekend I really cut the hell out of my face using a manual razor. This got me thinking again about switching to an electric shaver. I have been using a Gillette Mach 3 razor for a while, and it usually does a decent job, but my most recent blade has just not been satisfactory for me. I would switch to the Fusion razor, but those blades are really damn expensive. In fact, the blades for the Mach 3 are a bit pricey too. Except for the initial expense of buying an electric shaver, using an electric would be much less expensive. In fact, it would pay for itself rather quickly as I would not be buying blades as frequently.

The question then is which razor to get. I have been reading reviews online, and that just makes it more difficult to choose. One option is the Braun Shaver Series 5 570cc which is actually on sale at Target this week. The reviews I have read for it at Amazon.com are mostly favorable, although there are not many there. Then there is the Philips Norelco arcitec 1050X, which was named the best rotary electric shaver in an article I found online. However, its reviews at Amazon.com are not as good. The final shaver I am considering at the moment is the Philips Norelco SpeedXL 8240XL. This one has really good reviews at Amazon.com, and is less expensive than the other two razors under consideration. One drawback with this final shaver that comes up in several of the reviews is that there is no warning when the battery is about to run out. I guess it will run while plugged in though, so maybe this is not a major issue. One advantage that the two Norelco models have over the Braun though is that Norelco lets the buyer return it in 45 days if not satisfied. This may play a major role in my decision making. Whatever I decide to do, I need to do it soon, otherwise I will need to buy more blades for my Gillette Mach 3 razor.

Weight Watchers Week 1

With Thanksgiving over for this year, it is again time to get serious about watching what I eat. So today the Weight Watchers resumes. My initial weight is 226.6 pounds. By May 4, I should be at my goal of 205 pounds.

11.30.2009

The Pumpkin Dance - Christmas Edition

Just in time for the holiday season, here is a video of KXVO's pumpkin dance guy dancing in front of a festive Christmas background.


11.29.2009

Here Comes Santa Claus

This afternoon the family and I went to Walmart to get some of our Christmas shopping done. We only bought presents for Mel's and my niece and nephews today, but that was a good portion of the shopping that we needed to finish. Except for presents for Emma, which Mel will get later, I may try to finish the Christmas shopping online tonight. Our first Christmas celebration with family is on December 13, so if I am going to make any online purchases, I should make them soon. While we were at Walmart, Emma got her photo taken with Santa Claus. She was much more excited about sitting with him for a picture this year than she was last year, although she did not tell him what she wants for Christmas.


Thanksgiving at Mom's

Thursday morning, Mel, Emma, and I were joined by my sister for our journey to Waterloo, Iowa, for Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's condo. That morning I realized that I had neglected to let my mom know that we were planning on driving down Thanksgiving morning rather than the evening before. When I called her to let us know that we were on our way, she said that she realized around 10:00 the evening before that we would be coming down on Thursday, and not on Wednesday. We had a very yummy dinner at my mom's place. Besides the five of us, my aunt, uncle, and grandmother joined us. Emma and I saw my grandmother just a few weeks ago, but I hadn't seen my aunt and uncle for some time. This was the last trip that Mel will be taking to Iowa before the baby is born some time in January or early February, so it was good that we got to see some other relatives.

I had thought about staying up late on Thursday or getting up early on Friday to do some Black Friday shopping, but I decided against it. Instead, Mel and I went to Toys R Us at a more respectable hour to see if a particular toy we had seen in their ad was still available. It was not. We did however find a few gifts to pick up. Fortunately, while the store was quite crowded, we did not have to wait in line too long to check out.

As Thursday was Mel's and my fourth wedding anniversary, we asked my mom and sister to watch Emma Friday evening so the two of us could go out to dinner and to a movie. We had dinner at Carlos O'Kelly's. I really wish we had a location of that restaurant closer to our home. While we have plenty of good places to eat, I really like the meals there. Besides, half-price margaritas on Thursdays are good as well. Following dinner we went to see New Moon. I had not seen Twilight, so I was initially concerned that I would have difficulty following what was going on. That was not the case though. I found the movie quite easy to follow. Overall, it was a good movie, but I did find the first half of the film to be a bit slow.

The four of us returned home to Minnesota Saturday morning. We would have stayed in Waterloo until after lunch, but my mom had a funeral to go to. The drive back went pretty well. It can be a bit challenging driving three and a half hours with a two-year-old who is still relatively new at not wearing diapers of Pull-Ups, but we made it home okay.

11.25.2009

Another One Bites the Dust


Tiger Barb 1
Originally uploaded by MewissaPR
I am now down to five fish in my aquarium. This morning, after giving the fish their food, I looked around the aquarium to see how my fish were doing, but I could only locate one of my two tiger barbs, much like the one pictured here. I quickly noticed something sitting at the bottom of the tank next to one of the fake plants. It was mostly just some white, flaky stuff. I soon realized that it has a bit of a tail on it. It was one of the two tiger barbs! I am not sure if it died on its own or not, but it was obvious that my surviving fish had a late-night snack of tiger barb last night. I wonder how long the remaining tiger barb will live. Hopefully the larger fish in the aquarium leave him alone.

11.19.2009

Poker Face

I would not consider myself to be a big fan of Lady Gaga, but each time I hear her song "Poker Face" it seems to grow on me more. Most of my exposure to this song though is from others' interpretations of it. Those include versions from South Park and by Christopher Walken. Now, someone has combined these two videos together with the original Lady Gaga video, and they did a terrific job at it. There is just one problem though. Watching Eric Cartman performing the song makes me want to buy Rockband 2 or Band Hero for our Wii, but I do not know which one to get.


11.18.2009

The Biter


totoro teeth
Originally uploaded by chotda

Yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks, Emma was bitten at daycare. Last week when she was bitten, there was a slight visible mark, but it did not look too bad. This time though, the mark on her arm was much more prominent. From what her teacher told us, the bruise on Emma’s arm appeared immediately after she was bitten. Fortunately the skin was not broken. This could be in part because Emma was wearing both a T-shirt and a sweatshirt at the time.

We are not sure of the circumstances surrounding the previous bite, but yesterday the girl who bit Emma did so because Emma was sitting in the chair that the other girl wanted to sit in for lunch. Emma was one of three victims of this other girl yesterday, causing the girl to be sent home for the day. This girl may end up being removed from the daycare center if the biting continues. However, Emma will soon be getting away from her as Emma will be transitioning to the preschool class after Thanksgiving.

We spoke with Emma about biting last night, letting her know that biting someone else is not acceptable. Emma says that this girl is still her friend, but I wonder if she will try to avoid her at daycare for the next week until she moves to the preschool class.

11.16.2009

Starting Thanksgiving Early

We had Thanksgiving dinner at Mel's grandmother's house in Iowa. We rode there with Mel's brother and his two kids. After that ride, I have to say that being squeezed in the back of a minivan next to Emma in her car seat was not the most comfortable way to spend a three hour drive each way, but it was worth it as we did save some gas.

We had a tasty dinner and got to see much of Mel's family. Emma really enjoyed seeing all of her cousins. She also had a great time playing in the leaves in the yard. Emma and I will be back down to Mel's grandmother's house next month for Christmas, but Mel has decided that after Thanksgiving, she is done going on long car trips until the baby is born. So Mel will not be able to make it there then.


11.12.2009

Garden Jawa

This morning I discovered one of the latest offerings from StarWarsShop.com, the Garden Jawa. For just $34.99, plus shipping, this solid-resin, fully-painted, Jawa, complete with a garden hose, could find himself along side the garden gnomes that we already have. He measures about one foot tall. As much as I want this, I am going to refrain from buying it as I know my mother needs ideas for Christmas presents for me. The garden Jawa is not available to ship until December 9, but I would guess they will sell out quickly, so I sincerely hope someone orders this for me for Christmas. If I do get this for Christmas, the next thing I will need to do is to convince Mel to let me place it in the yard.

11.11.2009

Wii Fit


wii fit at the airport
Originally uploaded by davidking

As part of my renewed effort to lose some weight, I have decided that I really need to become more active. I haven't really gotten any real exercise since completing RAGBRAI in July. As it is getting a bit too cold outside to do much cycling, unless I were to buy some cold-weather cycling gear, I have returned to exercising using the Wii Fit. My plan is to alternate between days of aerobic exercise and days of strength and yoga exercises. Today was my second day of this exercising. I hope I can keep it up. Or maybe I should use some of the money I got for my birthday to buy some clothing for cycling in cold weather.

11.10.2009

Overweight


scaled
Originally uploaded by wader

I have written about this a few times already within the past year or so, but I am going to write about it again. I am overweight. When I last went to the doctor for a checkup, he told me that I should probably try to lose ten pounds or so. Well, that was ten pounds ago, but in the wrong direction. As of this morning, I weigh 225.6 pounds. I would really like to get my weight down to 200 pounds, but my doctor says that 205 pounds would be good enough. Just a few months ago, I realized that the size 34 waist pants that I had been wearing were not going to work any longer. I was not pleased that I had to move up to size 36, there being no size 35, but at this point I do not think a size 35 would even fit comfortably.

So today I am going to resume paying close attention to what I eat. That means that I will no longer be touching any of the leftover Halloween candy that sits in a bowl a mere six feet from the desk in my office. I really should ask Mel to take to work to share with her colleagues all of the candy from the bowl that she will not eat. That would really help me out. My goal is to lose at least one pound each week. That means I should reach my goal of 205 pounds in 22 weeks, by April 13.

11.09.2009

Visiting Mom

This past weekend Mel was going to visit a friend of hers in Cedar Rapids. Since my mom lives along her route to Cedar Rapids, Mel dropped Emma and me off at my mom's condo in Waterloo. It was good to see my mom, especially since we hadn't seen her in a couple of months. As soon as we got there, Emma wanted to go straight to her toys. It is the same when we go to Mel's parents' house as well. I think Emma likes playing with different toys than she is used to at home.

Saturday morning, the three of us headed to my grandmother's house in Keystone. It had been even longer than we had seen her. At first Emma didn't seem to remember her great grandmother, but she eventually warmed up to her. Of course, Emma enjoyed playing with yet a different set of toys there. We stayed for a while after lunch then returned to Waterloo. We ended up having dinner at Beck's in Waterloo. I hadn't eaten there in a very long time. I had the ribs. They were very good and very meaty.

Sunday morning, the three of us went to church. Mel stopped by early in the afternoon to pick Emma and me up. The three of us then returned home to Minnesota. It took us a bit longer to get home than it usually would due to one little girl's insistence on using the potty in three consecutive towns that we passed through. She actually only went twice. I suppose having to stop often to use the potty is the tradeoff to not having to buy diapers anymore, for now anyway.

11.04.2009

Skywalking - A Star Wars Love Ballad

There are some inacuracies within the lyrics of this song. For one, despite what the lyrics say on the YouTube page for the song, it sure it sounds to me like Luke says he's from Dantooine, not Tatooine. However this love ballad "from" Star Wars is really good. It is also pretty creepy considering Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa were brother and sister. Although in their defense, they did not know that at the time.


11.03.2009

Election Day


Vote Here
Originally uploaded by lakelandlocal

Today was election day, so I did my civic duty and voted. The election was not as interesting as last year, and there definitely weren't as many voters present. The only race on the ballot in my precinct was for South Washington County Schools school board. So yesterday I did a little research to decide which four of the candidates I would vote for. Now I don't recall the names of the people for whom I voted, but I will try to remember so I can see if they won or not.

Return to Standard Time

I suppose it couldn't last forever. Not daylight saving time of course. I knew that had to end, but the way Emma seemed to adapt to the change from daylight saving time to standard time so easily. Last Saturday night, Emma went to bed around 7:30 as she usually does, and she slept until 6:30 Sunday morning, a whole twelve hours! Emma tends to wake up between 5:00 and 6:30 usually, with most of the time waking up between 5:30 and 6:00. But her sleeping until 6:30 was basically the equivalent of sleeping until 7:30 on any other morning. And yesterday she slept until almost 5:30. Well this morning that all came to an end with Emma waking up screaming at 4:00. Now it did seem that she may have woken up because she had been having a bad dream. Hopefully that was the only reason she woke up this early, because I really do not want to be getting out of bed that early for the rest of the week.

10.31.2009

Trick or Treat

Earlier this evening, Mel and I took Emma out trick-or-treating. I took her down the street and back last year, but as she was just one and a half years old at the time, I don't think she quite understood it. This year was different however. After stopping at the first few houses, Emma got the hang of saying "trick or treat" when someone answered the door. She even did pretty well with her thank-yous after receiving her treats. There didn't seem to be quite as many houses giving out treats on our street as I remembered from last year, but maybe that is because we went out fairly early. So instead of just walking down the street and back, we went around the block. Emma had a blast trick-or-treating. It was fun to see her having such a good time.

When we got back from trick-or-treating, we turned on our house light and got ready to hand out candy ourselves. I thought things started out a bit slowly, but we ended up giving candy to thirty-eight kids this year. I think that may be slightly fewer than last year, but my numbers for last year are only an estimate, so I can not be sure. While we only had ten trick-or-treaters come in the first half hour that we were giving out candy, we had eighteen kids, nearly half of our total number, come within the first fifteen minutes of the seven o'clock hour. Emma liked watching the other kids come up to our door to get candy almost as much as she liked getting candy herself. We have quite a bit of candy left over. But know that I recorded the number of trick-or-treaters we had this year, I think I can plan better for next Halloween.


10.30.2009

Pumpkin Carving


Wednesday night, Emma and I carved a jack-o'-lantern. She told me that she wanted a smiling face. I had her draw a picture on paper, and I would carve it on the pumpkin. While Emma was drawing her design, I started removing the guts of the pumpkin. I tried to her Emma to help me with this task, but she thought it was yucky, and didn't want to help. It didn't take long to empty the pumpkin.

As Emma is only 2 years old, her drawing didn't look much like a face, smiling or not. So I drew a design on the pumpkin and carved it. She then drew some more on the pumpkin with markers. After carving the smiling face, Emma told me that she also wanted a sad face. So I carved a smaller sad face in the side of the pumpkin. Emma seemed to be very pleased with her jack-o'-lantern.

10.25.2009

An Early Start to Halloween

We started our celebration of Halloween early this weekend by going to the Cottage Grove Halloween Parade. Since Emma and I were stationed toward the end of the parade route, things started out slowly as far as receiving candy went. The first few groups in the parade did not hold back enough candy to make it to the end of the street. But that was quite alright as Emma still managed to acquire a significant amount of candy. It was definitely more candy than a two-year-old needs.


Then in the afternoon, Emma and I made out way to ZooBoo at Como Park Zoo. Mel was not able to make it with us to the zoo as she was home sick. Nevertheless, Emma and I still managed to have a good time trick-or-treating at the zoo. It took me a while to get Emma to let me take her picture at the zoo, but toward the end she warmed up to having her picture taken. In this first photo of her at ZooBoo, she, in her ladybug costume, is standing next to a ladybug decoration.


I tried to get Emma to stand with the people dressed in Star Wars costumes so I could take her picture with them, but she shied away from them. Instead, I managed to get a photo of her giving HealthPartners' Petey P Cup a kiss. I do not think I would want to kiss a specimen cup, but Emma had no problems with doing so.


As a child, I loved Halloween. I liked getting and eating all the candy. It was also fun to dress up in costumes. As a parent, my feelings regarding the holiday are a bit more mixed. It's been fun to see Emma dressed up in her Halloween costumes. She was a really cute pirate for her first Halloween. Last year she dressed up as Elmo. And This year she is a pretty ladybug. But the candy can be a bit much. This morning Emma woke up at 5:00. She wasn't up ten minutes before she started begging for a sucker. When I wouldn't give her one, she started screaming. I eventually calmed her down by turning on the TV. Mel and I will eat much of her other candy, so once the suckers are gone, we shouldn't have a problem.

This afternoon, our Halloween-themed weekend continued by going to the Minnesota Zoo where they were giving out treats and having other activities for HallZOOween. We got to the zoo just ten minuted before they were finishing with passing out the treats, but we managed to make to all the treat stations before they closed. We then checked walked around much of the zoo, checking out the animals, including the grizzly bears. One of the grizzly bears was enjoying the remains of a pumpkin that was in his enclosure.

10.24.2009

Greeting Card Conundrum

If you read my blog regularly, you know that my birthday was on Tuesday. On Thursday, a greeting card came in the mail. It was not addressed to me however. It was instead addressed to someone named Jami with the same last name as me. I do not know anyone named Jami who shares my last name, and I didn't recognize the return address in Ohio or the sender's name. I decided that maybe this was some junk mail for which the sender wrote the wrong first name, and I opened it. It was not junk mail. Instead, it was a birthday card for Jami from her grandparents. It included a nice letter about how they won't be able to see her for Christmas since they will be arriving in California after she leaves, but they would try to see her the next time they are in Minneapolis.

Being the nice person that I am, I decided to see what I could do to get the card to its intended recipient. I did a Google search for the name of the person to whom the card was addresses. The first search result was Jami's Facebook page. She is in the Minneapolis/St. Paul network, but of course I couldn't see her profile. I considered sending her a message through Facebook to let her know that I had her birthday card. I even considered scanning the card and sending an image of it to her through Facebook. Both of these options seemed to be a bit creepy to me though. So I ended up putting the card in a new envelope and mailing it back to its sender in Ohio, with a note explaining that they had the wrong address. Hopefully they will be able to find out their granddaughter's correct address and get it sent to her.

10.20.2009

37

I had an early start to my birthday this morning. Around 3:30 I awoke to hear Emma calling out through the baby monitor. Is it even right to call it a baby monitor still since she's no longer a baby? Anyway, I checked on her and she was still sleeping. I guess she was dreaming or something. So with Emma sleeping still, I went back to bed, but for some reason, I was unable to get back to sleep. Since I was not falling back asleep, at 4:00 I got back out of bed. After checking a few things on Twitter and Facebook, I decided to go back to bed once again. However, I was still unable to get back to sleep.

I have a few plans for my birthday, but not much. In my email this morning was a message from the Speedy Rewards program giving me 200 Birthday Bonus Points, so I might stop by SuperAmerica today to apply those to my account. Since we are unable to go out to dinner tonight for my birthday, I may treat myself to lunch today. I am thinking about picking up a couple of Black Jack Tacos from Taco Bell. I had one a little over a week ago, and it was good. Besides, it can't be too unhealthy, can it? (Ok, after writing that last question, I decided I would check to see if nutritional information for the Black Jack Taco was available. Each one has 210 calories and 17 grams of fat. Each of the tacos has a Weight Watchers Points value of 5.) Since Mel has a doctor appointment this afternoon, I will be cooking dinner, but afterward we will be having some birthday cake that Mel baked last night. It looks very yummy. Hopefully my sister will be able to make it over to join us for dinner, cake, and ice cream. Oh, and I do have a couple of presents to open at some point. It looks like I should be able to have a nice, relaxing birthday.

10.19.2009

Coughing Correctly

Emma has a cold right now. Fortunately she's been getting better at proper coughing etiquette. Lately she has been coughing into the sleeve of her shirt instead of using her hand to cover mouth or not covering it at all. I have mentioned to her that she should do this when she coughs, and maybe they are teaching it at daycare as well. A couple of days ago she even told Mommy to cough into her sleeve.

This is really good, but it did cause a problem this morning. Since it was supposed to be relatively warm today, I thought Emma could wear a short-sleeved T-shirt. She picked one out of her drawer and put it on. She then tried to cough. However, because the shirt had short sleeves, she tried to pull the sleeve down her arm to a point where she could reach it when she coughed. The sleeves were too short though, and I didn't want her to stretch out the shirt. We then tried another T-shirt that had slightly longer sleeves. The sleeves were still too short though, so I resorted to dressing her in a long-sleeved T-shirt. It wasn't going to be so warm that she would be uncomfortable after all.

Hospital Tour and a Sick Kid

We had big plans for this weekend, only some of which came to fruition. On Saturday, Mel and I toured the maternity care center at the hospital where we plan on having the baby in a few months. This is the only hospital that Mel's doctor practices at that the baby can be born at. The maternity center was nice. They are currently in the process of remodeling it. We got to see one of the older, non-remodeled rooms, but not any of the newer rooms as all those were in use. It will be a fine place to have the baby, but I really think that St. Luke's Hospital's birth center in Cedar Rapids was nicer. But as we live about 300 miles from there, having the baby at St. Luke's isn't really an option.

We had planned on going to church yesterday morning and then going to ZooBoo at Como Zoo in the afternoon, but at around midnight Saturday night, Emma woke up vomiting. I got everything cleaned up and Emma seemed to be doing a little better then, but we decided that it would probably be better to just stay at home. In the event that Emma was actually sick, we didn't want to infect people at church or all the kids who had come out for a good time at the zoo. Mel is going out of town for the weekend, so unless I want to take Emma to ZooBoo by myself, it looks like she will miss out on that this year.

10.16.2009

flickr


flickr Badges
Originally uploaded by poolie
My past few blog entries have included photos that I found on flickr. I have decided that by adding images to my blog entries, as available, I am making my blog more visually appealing. I am only using photos that have Creative Commons licenses indicating that their use is allowed. After all, I wouldn't want to violate anyone's rights. Of course, if I have photos of my own, I will most likely use them.

Accident Free


The Happy Potty
Originally uploaded by BenSpark
We have been working for a while with Emma on using the potty. She has been doing pretty good about peeing on the potty, but until recently we had been having problems with her pooping on the potty.

When Emma began using the potty, we would give her one M&M each time she peed on the potty and two for pooping on the potty. A couple of weeks ago, we stopped giving the M&Ms for peeing since she was doing very well with that. After that, we still had some issues getting her to poop on the potty, but she seems to have figured it out. Emma has not had an accident in her underwear, neither pooping not peeing, in over a week now. I'd like to think that we have finished Emma's potty training, but I fully expect another accident or two.

Once Emma is completely potty trained, she will be ready to move to the preschool class at daycare.

10.08.2009

The Banana Incident


Just a Banana
Originally uploaded by wabberjocky
This afternoon when Emma got home from daycare, she wanted a banana as a snack. I had no problem with that, so I peeled a banana for her, and the two of us cut it up into pieces together. When she finished with the banana, she asked for another one. I grabbed the last banana in the house, peeled it, and we cut it up as well. Emma ate most of the second banana, but when there were four slices of banana left she told me she was done. Not wanting to waste the remaining banana, I told Emma that if she was finished with it, I was going to eat what was left. She said that she wanted to dump it out into the trash, but I replied that I wasn't going to waste it and that I'd eat it if she didn't want it. She was quite emphatic about dumping the remaining banana into the trash. However, I ate it. Emma got very upset then, and she began to scream.

A few minutes later, I realized that I had forgotten Emma's eye medicine at daycare, so the two of us got back into the car to retrieve her medicine. When we were in the car she kept insisting that she wanted more banana. To get her to calm down, I told her that we would go to the grocery store to buy some more. So after picking up her medicine, we went to Cub and bought two bananas before returning home. Of course, once we got home she didn't ask to eat the banana. At least we have one available in case she wants one for breakfast in the morning.

10.07.2009

Pink Eye


Eye : Pink
Originally uploaded by W3 Studio
Monday afternoon, when we got Emma home from daycare, we noticed that her eyes looked red and she had some gunk coming from the corners of her eyes. Concerned that she may have pink eye (although not the kind pictured here), we took her to the urgent care center after dinner to discover that she did indeed have conjunctivitis. Because it is contagious, we had to keep her home from daycare yesterday until she had been on her medication for a day.

Even though I work from home, it is not really possible for me to get much work done if Emma is not at daycare, so since I am out of sick days, I used one of my remaining vacation days to watch her. Spending all day with Emma by myself, I really wonder how stay-at-home parents do it. I love Emma, but watching a two-year-old all day can be exhausting. When Emma went down for her nap after lunch, I considered getting some work done for my job, but I decided to just relax instead. I am guessing that when she is older, it might be a little easier to get work done if she is home sick, but for now watching Emma when she is at home is a full-time job.

10.04.2009

TV Shopping

I spent a good deal of time yesterday afternoon shopping for a new TV. Unfortunately, it was not a TV for me. Rather, my sister asked me if we would help her get a new TV. We went to Best Buy and looked at some of the TVs. Before my sister could really make a decision though, the DIRECTV salesman cornered her, trying for about half an hour to get her to make the switch from Comcast cable to DIRECTV satellite service. Eventually she thought she ditched him and she ended up picking out a TV.

It took a while for them to find the TV in the back of the store, and once she declined to have them calibrate it, they finally got around to ringing up her purchase. However, the price that came up was higher than the price on the TV's price tag. Apparently they had brought out the wrong model. They went back to find the correct model of TV, but the only unit they had in that model was an open box model. They would have given her a ten percent discount on that, but we all thought that for something like a new TV, it would probably be better to get one from a sealed box. They located the model that she wanted at their Maplewood location, so we were going to go there to get it.

It was while they were ringing up the purchase from the other location, that my sister finally got an explanation about the difference between the model she had wanted and the model that they had brought out. From what she was told, she realized that the model that they had brought out was the model she really wanted, so they rang that one up instead.

We had spent about two and a half hours at Best Buy at this point and were about ready to leave with my sister's new TV, but the Minnesota Twins were on the myriad of TVs in the home theater section of the store. There was out remaining in the top of the ninth inning, so we stayed to see if the Twins would win, which they did. It was while we were watching the end of the game that the DIRECTV salesman came back and started putting the pressure back on my sister. She eventually walked away from him without signing up for the service. We then tried to load the TV into our Saturn VUE, however with Emma, Mel, Rebecca, and me in the car, it wouldn't fit. So we ended up taking the TV back inside to have them hold it until we could come back with Mel's truck to take it back to Rebecca's house.

By now it was pretty late, so we headed to Don Pablo's in Roseville for dinner. The food was good, as it usually is, but we did have a couple of problems. First of all, the entrée they brought out for Mel was the wrong one. They did get the correct meal for her eventually, which meant we had an extra meal to bring home as a leftover. The second problem we had was that while Emma and I were in the restroom for what had to be the tenth time since our arrival, our server took away Emma's meal before Mel and Rebecca had a chance to react. There was just one small piece of corndog remaining on her plate, but she still had quite a bit of rice. Emma was not happy to see her food was gone when she returned. We tried to offer her some of the leftover rice from either of Mel's meals, but she wouldn't eat them.

Today we joined Rebecca for church and then returned to Best Buy to pick up her TV. We returned with the TV and ordered pizza from Broadway Pizza. They have such good pizza. Anyway, once we were done eating, I got to work at connecting Rebecca's cable box and DVD player to the TV. We got it all hooked up just in time for the Twins game this afternoon. Her TV looked pretty good once we found the game in the HD range of the dial instead of the regular definition broadcast. At first my sister thought the TV looked too big for her living room, but I think she decided it was just the right size by the time we left.

9.27.2009

Rearranging the Office

Moving Emma into her new room last weekend left us with the problem of figuring out what to do with the things that had been stored in the closet in that bedroom. So this weekend, Emma and I made a couple of trips to Home Depot to get supplies so I could install some shelving in the closet in the office. We went yesterday evening and got some individual pieces from a closet organizing system. However once I got the items home and looked at the closet again, I realized that it probably wasn't going to work too well to use that. So this afternoon, Emma and I returned to Home Depot to return the items we bought yesterday and to buy some shelves and brackets to hold them. Installing the shelves probably ended up being significantly easier than my original idea, and it looks pretty good. All of the board games are now located in the office closet.

The room that is now Emma's used to be our guest bedroom. And once temperatures get cold enough, we would put the hibiscus tree that we got at my dad's funeral four years ago. Since it wouldn't look good in Emma's room, and because she might be tempted to play in the dirt, we decided to move it to the office. The only problem with this idea was that we wanted to place it between the desk and the window, and there were only twenty inches between the two. The diameter of this tree is easily between three-and-one-half and four feet. So to accommodate the tree, I ended up moving the desk about eighteen inches across the room. This doesn't sound too complicated, but the desk is very heavy, and it had two computers and their peripherals on it. I had to disconnect all of the components of both computers, and remove a lot of books from the hutch on the desk in order to move it. I now have the computers hooked back up and located on the desk, although their configuration on the desk has changed -- the work computer had been on the right with the personal computer on the left, now it is reversed. However, there is still a mess of papers, books, and assorted other items all over the floor. I at least have room to work tomorrow morning. I guess I will have to spend tomorrow evening working at straightening everything up further.

I think this arrangement is going to work out just fine, and I will like the added greenery in the office. There is one problem that I will have to deal with however. I will now be sitting further from the window. I suppose I should still be happy though that I am near a window. Before beginning to work from home, there were no windows anywhere near my cubicle.

9.21.2009

A New Room

Over the past two weekend, we have been preparing to move Emma to a different room in the house. With a new baby arriving early next year, we decided to let Emma have the larger bedroom upstairs as her bedroom, leaving her current room for the new baby. The weekend before this past weekend, I painted her room as I mentioned in an earlier blog posting. I also repainted the dressers that were in the room. These were the same dressers that I had when I was a kid, and I believe they were my mom's before that. They had been beige in color, but they are now white.

This past weekend I finished painting the dresser drawers and added new knobs to them. I also added a butterfly border around the room. Because she now has white furniture in her room, we got a new bookcase/storage unit from Target, similar to one she had in her old room, but white in color. In addition, we also got a few cube-shaped fabric storage boxes that fit in the storage unit. We also got some new bedding for the queen-sized bed that is in the room and assembled the bedrail to keep her from falling out of bed.

We were a little worried that she would not want to move to a new bedroom, but it turns out that we had nothing to fear. Emma loves her new room! This morning she even sat in her room listening to music while eating a cereal bar instead of watching Little Einsteins in the living room.

There are still a few things we need to do to complete the room, including finding a net to put up in which we will store her plethora of stuffed animals. We also need to put up some pictures and some additional butterfly decals. But all that can wait until next weekend. Now we need to find new places to put the things that we took out of the room.

9.17.2009

Potty Training

For a few months now, we have been trying to get Emma to use the potty. She has actually used the potty quite a bit. It helped when we started giving her an M&M when she did use the potty. Despite this, we weren't making too much progress since she could still go in her diaper or Pull-Ups. About a week ago we bought Emma some real underpants. We were going to start using them Monday, but since Emma was sick, we thought we'd wait. So yesterday was the first day that Emma wore real underpants instead of either a diaper or Pull-Ups.

Emma and I had to go grocery shopping before she went to daycare yesterday morning. I tried to get her to use the potty before we left for the grocery store, but she said she didn't have to go. So once we got to the store, and before beginning our shopping, I tried to get her to go in the grocery store restroom. Once again she claimed that she didn't need to go. Once we checked out though, Emma told me she needed to use the potty. We made it to the restroom and she did indeed go potty in the store restroom. Since I didn't have any M&Ms with me, I bought a small package before leaving the store so she could have one.

Dropping Emma off at daycare, I let her teachers know that she was wearing underpants instead of a diaper. I also gave them a bag with several extra pairs of underpants and shorts. Things went pretty well at daycare yesterday. When Mel got home with Emma in the afternoon, she told me that Emma had only had one accident, and it was during her nap, so I would hardly count that. After dinner we went to Target to pick up some Pull-Ups Night Time training pants for Emma to wear to bed. When we got home, Emma had a second accident, but just two accidents on her first day of wearing underpants didn't seem too bad to me.

This morning when she got out of bed, Emma's Pull-Up was still dry! She used the potty right after she got out of bed as well. She did have a couple of accidents at daycare today, including pooping in her underpants. But she did fine this evening once she got home from daycare. While we are going to be saving money on diapers now, I have a feeling our water bill will be slightly higher due to washing more loads of laundry.

Now, since we are on the subject of using the potty, here's a video of Elmo asking some preschoolers what they call their products from using the potty.

9.13.2009

The Renaissance Festival

I love living in the Twin Cities because there are so many things to do. Last weekend we went to the zoo. This weekend a trip to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee was on our agenda. Emma had been ill on Friday and yesterday, but this morning she was feeling somewhat better, so we decided to go ahead and go to the Renaissance Festival as we had planned.

Going to the Renaissance Festival with a two-year-old in a stroller creates a bit of a challenge. First of all, pushing a stroller on rock or mulch-covered dirt surfaces can be challenging. And secondly, our two-year-old doesn't always have the longest of attention spans if she isn't watching Little Einsteins. We saw bits and pieces of a variety of shows at the festival. Most of the times we tried to go into one of the shops, Emma wanted go to back outside. It was when Mel was looking in one shop, that we started watching a presentation by Minnesota Traditional Morris. Mel rejoined us before their performance was done.

All the time we ate lunch, Emma kept looking over toward a kids' ride in which children sit in butterfly-shaped cars and get pushed around in a circle. So after eating, we went over there so Emma could go on the ride. I gave the ride operator the money and went in with Emma to put her on the ride. However, for some reason she decided then that she did not want to ride. I don't know if she was afraid to go on the ride by herself, or what her issue was, but we got our two dollars back and continued on our way without Emma going on the ride.
One show that we were sure to see was Puke and Snot. Their act is fantastic. Unfortunately I had to miss part of it to change Emma's diaper. I did get to see most of it though, returning just before they finished.

Had the temperature not been in the mid 80s this afternoon, we likely would have stayed longer. Mel would have liked to have seen the kilt competition, but with her being pregnant and Emma getting tired and hot, we decided to head home after about five hours at the Renaissance Festival. I was getting a bit tired as well. Maybe when Emma is older, it will be easier to stay longer, but with a two-year-old a longer stay would likely have just made her get cranky.

9.11.2009

Vacation Day

I took a vacation day from work today so I could get some stuff done around the house. My primary task today was to paint Emma's new bedroom. Since we are expecting a baby in February, Emma is going to be moving to the larger bedroom upstairs and into a big bed. When we moved into the house last summer, I painted the bedroom brown. However, we didn't think Emma would like for her room to be brown, so we decided to paint it brighter, more kid-friendly colors. The colors that we chose were Crayola's Just Ducky (the yellow color on the left) and Little Princess (the purple color on the right).

I had just finished with the first coat of each color, the purple is on the top half of the wall and the yellow is on the bottom half, when I got a phone call from daycare informing me that Emma was throwing up and had a fever of 101.9°F. I was about to leave the house to pick up my car from where it was getting its oil changed, so instead, Mel, who was also taking today off, drove with me to daycare to get Emma, and then took me to Tires Plus where I picked up the car.

We called the doctor's office to see if we should take Emma in to be seen, but the triage nurse indicated that we didn't need to. If she still has a fever tomorrow morning though, we might take her to be seen by a doctor. It was a rough afternoon and early evening. Emma kept wanting to eat different things, but the nurse to whom I spoke said that we should just give Emma water or a lemon-lime soda, but that she shouldn't eat anything until she kept fluids down for four hours. We did decide to allow Emma to eat some Club crackers, and they appeared to be fine. She did throw up twice more this afternoon, once shortly after getting home from daycare, and the other an hour or so later. The second time, she not only made a mess of herself, but also of me. I had to change all of my clothes after that. I think that maybe the Tylenol we gave her didn't agree with her stomach. We had been told that we could give her Tylenol in suppository form, but neither Mel nor I really wanted to do that. I suppose if her illness continues, we may have to resort to that.

Anyway, since we didn't want to eat in front of Emma, Mel and I waited to eat dinner until after Emma went to bed. I then got a second coat of paint on the bedroom walls, and finally have had a chance to sit down for a little while without Emma sitting on my lap. I sure hope she feels better in the morning. Being sick is hard enough when you can understand what is going on and can adequately express yourself to others, but for a two-and-a-half-year-old it has got to be no fun at all.