Flat David

In the mail today, I received Flat David in the mail. My nephew David's third grade class is participating in the Flat Stanley Project to help them prepare for their upcoming mapping unit. I have been asked to write back to his class about what Flat David and I do together. Hopefully I have a chance to do some fun things with Flat David while he is with me. Today we went to Target, but tomorrow Emma, Flat David, and I are going to try to go to the zoo. That should be an interesting place here in the Twin Cities for him to visit. One thing I need to find out about Flat David is when he needs to be sent back by. That information was missing from the letter I received.


Playing with the Atari

As I previously mentioned on my blog, my sister got me an Atari 2600 video game console and several games for Christmas. I finally got around to hooking it up this afternoon while Mel and Maximus were napping. I started by playing Frogger, followed by Pac-Man and Dig Dug. Other games which came with my Atari are:
  • Adventure
  • Asteroids
  • Berzerk 
  • Breakout
  • Centipede 
  • Chopper Command 
  • Circus
  • Combat
  • Defender
  • Dodge 'Em
  • Donkey Kong 
  • Dragonfire
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Fishing Derby
  • Frostbite
  • H.E.R.O.
  • Ice Hockey
  • Kaboom! 
  • Kangaroo
  • Keystone Kapers 
  • Lock 'n' Chase
  • Math Gran Prix 
  • Maze Craze
  • Megamania
  • Millipede
  • Missile Command
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Outlaw 
  • Pitfall!
  • Pole Position
  • Popeye
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Q*bert
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • River Raid 
  • Robot Tank
  • Seaquest
  • Solar Fox
  • Space Invaders  
  • Sky Jinks
  • Stampede
  • Super Breakout 
  • Super Cobra
  • Tennis
  • Tron Deadly Discs
  • Turmoil
  • Venture
  • Video Olympics
  • Video Pinball
This is probably more games than I ever actually owned for my Atari when I was a kid. None of these games includes a manual, so I am hoping that either I can figure out how to play them on my own, or that I can find directions online somewhere. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to trying them all out. One thing I do need to do though is to locate a switch so I do not have to disconnect the satellite box from the TV in order to attach the Atari to it. I may have one somewhere, otherwise I will need to go out and buy one.

The First Days at Home with Baby

Mel and Maximus checked out of the hospital Tuesday after lunch, and we all headed home. Overall, I was very pleased with the hospital where Max was delivered, Saint John's Hospital in Maplewood. Every one of the nurses that worked with Mel and Max was excellent, and the facilities were very nice. The only real problem we had was that Mel's dinner was very late Sunday night, but that was resolved. There were a couple of other details that did not rise to the level of being problems, but could have improved our stay. It would have been nice if there had been a channel listing for the cable TV provided. It was sometimes difficult to determine what channel was what. And I thought that the food in the hospital cafeteria was a bit pricey, although it was good. One thing I liked about where Emma was born, Saint Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was that the maternity section had a room where the baby's mother and father could serve up their own food at no additional charge. Once again, these were not real problems, and neither of these would deter me from recommending Saint John's Hospital to others.

When I brought Emma home from preschool on Tuesday, she was very excited to see mommy and "her baby." Her excitement waned however when it was time to give Maximus a bath. He did not appreciate being stripped down and being bathed. Max was sure to let us know this by screaming as loudly as he could. Emma, who has never really liked loud noises, was very upset by this. I was going to wait to give Emma her bath until Max's bath was done, but I decided to do it right away.

As the week has gone on, Maximus has become less and less agitated while having his diapers changed, and even, to some extent, while being bathed. Just to be considerate to Emma though, we gave Max his bath today while Emma was still at preschool.

With Emma, I remembered being up multiple times throughout the night to feed her once she came home from the hospital, but I do not remember the frequency at which she required to be fed. With Max, we ended up feeding him approximately every two hours the first couple of nights. And after being fed, he did not want to go back to sleep right away. He appeared to have his nights and days cattywampus. Last night though, Max managed to go at least three hours, up to three and a half hours, between feedings overnight, and he went back to sleep much more quickly. Consequently, I got a much better night's sleep last night. His sleeping this long between feedings did concern us somewhat as we were already used to him waking more frequently. However every time we checked on him, he was just fine. I do wonder how long it will take for Max to sleep through the night. Emma was doing so at six weeks. Of course, every child is different.

The home visitation nurse stopped by the house today to see how Mel and Maximus are doing. While she was here she weighed Max. He is already exceeding his birth weight by 2.5 ounces. Mel had thought it looked like he had filled out a bit. We take Max into the doctor for his first appointment next Wednesday.

Everyone in the house is transitioning well to the new resident of our home. Even the cat, Ike, is doing well with it. We'll see how things go next week when I return to work. As I work from home now, things will be different from when I went back to work after Emma was born, but I am sure things will work out fine.


Emma Meets Her Brother

As I wrote earlier, while Mel and I were in the hospital Friday night, Emma spent the night at my aunt and uncle's house. When my mother stopped by their house on the way to visit Maximus at the hospital, she picked Emma up and brought her along.

When Emma entered the hospital room, she was really excited to see her mommy, she wasn't so sure about her little brother though. She sat down next to my sister, who was holding Max. Rebecca asked Emma if she wanted to hold him. Emma quickly replied "no!" She didn't seem to want to have much to do with him. She was much more interested in sitting with her mommy and looking at the present that Aunt Rebecca had brought. She did become more interested in him before she left for the night though. It may take some time, but I think she is going to enjoy being a big sister to Maximus.



This morning, at 8:23, my son Maximus Xavier was born. But before I go into any details about this morning, let me begin by writing about what happened on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, Mel and I went to the hospital where Mel had an ultrasound done to see how the baby was doing. Mel's blood pressure had been very high on Wednesday when she saw her doctor, so he was a bit concerned. From the ultrasound, the technician estimated that the baby's weight was about 9 pounds 2 ounces. Mel was also hooked up to a monitor for a while so the nurse could listen to the baby's heart. Everything was fine though, so we were sent home, as we expected to be.

Yesterday when she got home from work, Mel decided to take a nap so she would be more alert when Emma got home from daycare. While Mel was sleeping, I cooked dinner. When it was ready, I sent Emma downstairs to wake Mel. It was then that Mel's water broke. Emma seemed a bit concerned by everything that was going on, Mel's cleaning herself up, and my getting things packed in the car. My uncle came over to Emma to his house where she then stayed the night. In the meantime, Mel and I headed to the hospital.

At the hospital, they verified that Mel's water had indeed broken and checked the location of the baby. Everything was fine. After Mel's doctor consulted with the obstetrician on call, Mel decided that she would deliver the baby by cesarean section, so around 8:00 this morning, Mel was wheeled into the operating room. About half an hour later, our 7-pound-8-ounce and 20.5-inch-long baby boy, Maximus, was born.


Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I hope you all are having a good Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I had the day off from work. Instead of doing anything to celebrate the day, I painted a wall in the living room and the ceiling of the bathroom. Besides that, I took a trip to the Mall of America where I purchased eight postcards representing the Twin Cities. Since moving here, we have had a couple requests from friends and family in Iowa for us to send postcards for school projects, helping students learn about different places. The last time I got such a request, I had a hard time finding a postcard. Fortunately, my sister helped out that time and gave me a postcard that she had acquired at some point. Recently I realized that the Mall of America gift shop has postcards, so I got some there, and from the Underwater Adventures gift shop. Now I will be prepared the next time I get a Minnesota postcard request.


Killer Fish

In case anyone is curious about the fish in my aquarium that has killed almost all of its tank mates, here is a video of it. This is my black-banded lepornius which I have recently bogged about, on both December 19 and 31. Perhaps it is my fault this fish decided to eat his companions. Maybe I hadn't fed them enough. The last time I fed the fish, I thought I put too much food in, but the lepornius quickly ate it all up.


Finishing Christmas 2009

Yes, Christmas was over three weeks ago, but today my family finally got around to finishing our exchange of presents. Emma and I, along with my sister, were supposed to go to Iowa to spend Christmas Eve with my family there, but because of the weather, that trip was cancelled. Then my sister spent two weeks galavanting about the Galapagos Islands, returning home last Saturday. So yesterday my mom drove up from Iowa, and we all got together this afternoon at my sister's house to complete our celebrating of Christmas.

We had a good time together today. Emma especially enjoyed the presents she received, although my sister's cat kept scaring her. Prior to Christmas, my sister had told me that she thought she got me the best Christmas present ever. That really intrigued me, and for days after that, I was trying to figure out what she could possibly have gotten me. Well, while my sister was on her South American vacation, one of her friends, with whom I am also friends on Facebook, let it slip that my sister was giving me an Atari 2600. This mutual friend had indicated a couple of months ago that she was selling hers, I guessed that my sister had decided to buy it. Anyway, not wanting to ruin the surprise, I didn't tell my sister about it, and I figured she wouldn't see our Facebook conversation since she was riding around in a boat in the Pacific Ocean while that conversation took place. I did tell my wife though that I had accidentally found out about the present.

So this afternoon, I opened the present from my sister and was quite surprised when I saw an Oral B Vitality electric toothbrush in a rather large box. There was something under the toothbrush though, so I continued through the box only to discover that she had weighed it down with softballs to make it appear as if it had held more. I had really expected the Atari to be in the box, so I was a bit disappointed, although I tried to appear not to be. After we were done opening presents and had cleaned up, we ordered pizza for dinner. I went to pick it up. While I was away, I was wondering if my sister had figured out that I knew about the Atari. I thought maybe it would be out when I got back with the pizza, but when I returned with the pizza, it still was not present. After dinner, and after viewing my sister's vacation photos, I loaded up our car with the presents we had received. After my last trip to the car, I went back up to get Emma and Mel and was shocked to see a large present on the chair. Of course, this was the Atari 2600.

Apparently another mutual friend of my sister, her friend who originally had the Atari, and me reported to my sister about the conversation regarding the Atari. My sister wasn't too happy about my finding out so she decided to mess with me. Originally she had planned on waiting until I was at the hospital with Mel when the baby was being born, during which time she would place it in our house. However, my mom wanted to see my reaction when I got it. I was quite excited to see the game system in the box once I opened it. There are quite a few games with it as well. I haven't checked out what they all are yet, but I did see Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Pitfall to name a few. I really can not wait to hook it up and give it a try. The only problem is that it only came with one joystick, so I won't be able to play any games requiring the joystick with two players. It did come with two paddles though, so games using that controller will not be a problem.

After expecting the Atari 2600 for the past couple of weeks and not seeing it right away, I was initially a bit disappointed, but I really was getting excited about the electric toothbrush. And while I think I will really like the toothbrush, hopefully it helps prevent me from getting any more cavities, I know I will really enjoy the Atari. Just now as I write this, I can't help but remember the hours I spent at home playing games on the Atari system I won in a coloring contest in the late 1970s. Actually, my game system was a Sears Video Arcade system which was fully compatible with the Atari 2600.


Emma's New Favorite YouTube Video

Just a few days ago I wrote about Emma's watching of Sesame Street videos on YouTube. Well, she now has a new favorite video, it is a video of Elmo's daddy singing to him about using the potty. Emma now comes up to me when I am in the office and tells me she wants to watch Elmo use the potty. It is kind of cute.

Late Nights at Work

Since the beginning of the year, I have spent a considerable amount of time working late into the evening. Part of the reason for this is that I had two dentist appointments last week. I could have used sick time to make up for those, but I didn't want to dip into my paid leave so early into the year. Also, I had a lot of work to get done.

It had been quite a while since I had really worked late into the evening. Until last week, I had been keeping pretty regular, 8:00 to 4:30 hours, but with Mel going to bed fairly early lately, and little worth watching on TV, I decided I might as well get some work done. Now if I hadn't volunteered to take on some of the extra tasks that I have lately, I probably wouldn't feel the need to work so much. But I do have a lot to get done before I take time off when the baby comes, so I feel it needs to be done.


Celebrity Lullaby

Recently, I began using videos on Sesame Street's YouTube channel to keep Emma entertained while I do some tasks such as washing dishes or vacuuming the basement. I like that Sesame Street Workshop has put up videos from older episodes of Sesame Street. I really feel that the program was more educational back when I was a kid than it is today. Today it almost seems that they should just rename the program The Elmo Show.

Anyway, the first time I checked out the Sesame Street channel, the video that came up initially, and began playing automatically, when I first did this was a video of Ricky Gervais singing a "lullaby" to Elmo. The song also teaches about the letter N. Emma did not care for this video the first time she saw it, but she now enjoys it a lot and will sometimes come into the office while I am at the computer and ask to see the "Elmo lullaby." I actually find the video to be pretty entertaining as well, which is something which I can not say for much of the more recent Sesame Street programs I have watched.


Return to the Dentist

Today I had my second appointment with the dentist this week. On Monday I had some cavities filled, mostly on the right side of my mouth. Today it was time for the cavities on the left side of my mouth to be repaired. This visit did not go quite as smoothly as Monday's visit. The dentist had a difficult time getting my lower jaw to become numb. She had to inject me with the usual anesthetic three times toward my back lower left tooth, and my jaw still did not really get all that numb, so she ended up using a different anesthetic which she injected down into my gums right in front of the tooth. After that, there were no problems with pain. I did have a problem keeping my mouth open the whole time though as she had to work on my rear lower molar, so I really had to keep my mouth open wide. That ended up being very uncomfortable. Fortunately I made it through the procedure pain free.


The Dentist

I had to go to the dentist this afternoon to have some work done on my teeth. I had some cavities and a few fractures that needed filling. Despite what Mel insists, not all of these dental issues were my fault. The dentist even told me that the fractures had been beyond my control. Mel is right though that I need to brush my teeth better. Anyway, I had a few fillings put in today. I have to go back on Wednesday for the rest. The whole process was rather painless. The dentist did a really good job of numbing my gums prior to injecting the anesthetic into them. I barely even felt the needle as it entered my gums. The wort part of the whole ordeal was having to sit in the dentist's chair for almost an hour and a half with my mouth open most of the time. That was not the most comfortable position to be in for that long. After leaving the dentist I had to stop at Walgreens to pick up a night guard for my teeth as my dentist told me that she saw signs of my grinding my teeth at night. I am going to wait to use it until the remaining teeth are done Wednesday night since the work she does then will likely change the impressions that my teeth leave.

And while I didn't have any experiences like this kid, David, when I left the dentist, for some reason I feel the need to further spread this video which has already had over forty five million views on YouTube.

The Hangover, The Movie

Yesterday I rented the movie The Hangover from Redbox. I had reserved it on their website, but there was an error when I submitted my credit card information, so I had to resubmit the information to complete my reservation, or so I thought. When I swiped my credit card in the Redbox machine at my local Cub Foods, the machine dispensed two copies of the movie. Not needing to watch the movie twice, and definitely not needing top copies of the DVD even if I did want to watch it twice, I returned the second copy immediately. When I got home, I emailed Redbox to make sure that I wouldn't be charged twice for the movie. The rental is only one dollar, so if I do get charged twice, it's not that big of a deal, but I don't feel that I should have to pay twice as much just because their website hiccuped when I used it.

Anyway, Mel and I put Emma to bed about half an hour early last night. She hadn't napped much the past couple of days, and we couldn't really start the movie until she was in bed. I enjoyed the movie. It had that certain offbeat humor in it that I like. Mel appeared to enjoy the movie as well. I thought the idea of having the characters of the movie retrace their steps from the night before to reconstruct their memories of what had happened during their drunken night was clever. And while a lot of the things that the discovered shortly after waking the next morning in their suite didn't make sense initially, everything came together through their day of fact finding. While Mike Tyson is not one of my favorite celebrities, I thought his part in the movie was really good. He was actually pretty funny! The major problem I had with The Hangover is the same as a problem I have with every movie that takes place in Las Vegas. After seeing this film, I really want to take a vacation there. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be in the cards at the moment.


I Gotta Feeling

I found this lip dub of the Black Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling" thanks to @billprady on Twitter. It features 172 communications students at the Université du Québec à Montréal and was filmed in September 2009 with a single shot. This is a really fun song.

A Late Christmas

We were supposed to have Christmas with my wife's family last Saturday, but since the weather was so crappy, we had to postpone those plans for this weekend. So today we managed to squeeze fourteen of us in our house to celebrate Christmas. While our house isn't all that large, we did manage to fit in it alright. It's just a good thing that we received, not one, but two card tables and sets of chairs for our wedding in 2005.

Before lunch, all six of the kids managed to make a mess of my daughter's room playing with her toys. When I eventually told everyone it was time to pick up the toys later this afternoon, it took a significant amount of time to get things straightened out. After lunch it was time to open presents. To avoid having too many presents to buy, the adults each draw names so each of us gets just one present from another of us, so most of the present opening is left to the kids who get more presents. My present came from my parents-in-law. They gave me a book, Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, published by DK. The book is "the ultimate guide to characters and creatures from the entire Star Wars saga" according to the text on the cover, and it is right about that. It includes photos of many of the characters in each of the movies, as well as nice photos of the various weapons and ships from the films as well. I was looking over the book with my nephew David. He  has a rather extensive knowledge of the Star Wars movies, especially episodes I and II. It is a pretty long book, so I will need to make some time to read it from cover to cover.

We are going to be meeting all of the family tomorrow morning for breakfast at Perkins before those who live in Iowa leave for their homes.

Dead Pool 2010

For the second year in a row, I am participating in the celebrity dead pool at TheDeadPool.com. Here is my list of twenty celebrities for the year:
I do not personally hope any of these people die during the course of the year, but if they do, you can read about it here in my blog.

The Year We Make Contact

Good morning everyone! Here is my very first blog posting in the year twenty ten or two thousand ten, whichever you prefer. I think I am going to be calling the year "twenty ten," but we'll see how well I stick to that. And while I am talking about sticking to things, I am going to make a few New Year's resolutions. We'll see how this goes, but my wife is already doubting my ability to keep any resolutions.
  • Watch what I eat -- I need to watch what I eat for the purpose of losing weight. I will know if I have succeeded in this resolution if I manage to get my weight down to 205 pounds and keep it there, as my doctor says I should.
  • Reduce my caffeine consumption -- While I have greatly reduced the amount of soda I drink over how much I used to, I should cut down on the amount of caffeine I consume.
  • Exercise more -- I only exercise sporadically as it is. I need to get into the habit of exercising at least three days a week.
I could probably come up with some more things I need to to, but I think I will just leave it at these three resolutions for now.