Sophie Walks

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Sophie turns 10 months old today. In celebration of the event, here’s some video of Sophie walking. Enjoy!

(The video is encoded in Ogg Theora, so you’ll need at least Firefox 3.5 or Chromium 3 to see it.)

Knock-knock jokes

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My two-year old is turning into quite the comedian. He’s currently specializing in knock-knock jokes. Here’s a couple of recent gems:

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Baby Jesus.
Baby Jesus who?
Baby Jesus had luck.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Truck who?
Truck you haven’t seen about.

You might need to let those sink in a bit for the underlying humor to set in.

The Shrinking Ice Cream Container

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Has anyone else noticed that the standard ice cream container has recently shrunk from 1.75 quarts to 1.5 quarts? Same price, smaller container. I remember the last time they shrunk five or six years ago to 1.75 quarts from the then-standard half-gallon (2 quarts). It’s not just one ice cream vendor, either; they all seem to be on board with the transition. What’s going on? Would people balk at paying $6.50 for a half-gallon instead of $5 for 1.5 quarts? And how is the ice cream cartel so powerful so as to dictate that all manufacturers all switch together?

Four Weeks Later

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It’s been four weeks since Hong started going back to work at the office, so I wanted to write and say how it’s been going.

In short, it’s been rough. Sophie has had a hard time adjusting to drinking from a bottle instead of “straight from the source”, so to speak. She would essentially starve herself for eight hours until she couldn’t take it any longer, then she’d finally drink it all down. And of course, once she starts to get hungry, she’s quite fussy and needs a lot of holding and rocking. There were days where I’d literally be holding her for hours, pacing around the house and desperately trying to jam a bottle in her mouth, Sophie crying most of the while. And because I’d be warming up the milk over and over again, eventually some of it would go bad and I’d have to throw it away.

By Thursday of the first week, Sophie was getting dehydrated and had been crying most of the day, so I called Hong at work around 3:00, told her I couldn’t take it anymore and could she come home right now? She came home and fed Sophie.

You know, I’ve contemplated trying to come up with a Top Ten List of why stay-at-home dads are better than stay-at-home moms. Things like, “we can clean the house and fix things around the house too” and “we’ve got more strength to chase them around the house and get them good and tired for the night”. That’s usually about as far as I get, and a Top Two List isn’t very impressive. You could, however, probably come up with a Top Ten List of why stay-at-home moms are better than stay-at-home dads, and on that list you could say that “moms have breasts”. This whole bottle situation could be avoided if I just had a pair of boobs.

Each week since has been progressively better. Sophie would start drinking a little bit around noon or 1pm, and I’d be more calm in trying to feed her. As of yesterday, she was able to take her bottle twice without any fussiness or crying. I don’t want to claim victory yet, but it’s a relief to see that things are getting better.

As I predicted earlier, I haven’t been able to keep to my same standards of housekeeping. The house has frequently been very messy, which would sometimes add to my frustration, knowing that there are all of these chores to be done that I can’t get to because I’m currently rocking a fussy baby. It took me most of last weekend to get everything done and check most tasks off of my to-do list.

You’d think that dealing with three kids would be more difficult than one or two, but I’ve so far found the opposite to be true. Maggie and Oliver play together quite well, and seem to be understanding that I can’t always play with them because I’m dealing with Baby Sophie. The fact that I’ve been more willing to let them watch TV in the last four weeks helps. (I allocated my old laptop to serve as a media server, making it very easy to pull up an episode of Ni Hao Kai Lan or Word World for the kids.) And I think if I had to stay at home just to take care of the baby, I’d go crazy with boredom. For all their troubles, three kids are more fun than one or two.

Back to work

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Today was Hong’s first day back at work and, hence, my first day dealing with the kids by myself. As a result, I only have enough time to write this paragraph.

100 Days of School

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Yesterday, Maggie had her 100th day of school for this school year, something the kids are all aware of since they have been counting the days at the beginning of class each day. For a homework assignment, the kids were asked to count out 100 of something at home and bring it to class that day. The assignment had suggested raisins or Cheerios, but I had a better idea. I dusted off my old collection of Mardi Gras beads and we set out to see if I had at least 100 of them.

Sure enough I did, all unique. Six years of living in New Orleans will provide that for you. Maggie counted them out, creating 10 rows of 10 strands each. We had fun looking at all of the beads as well as my collection of Mardi Gras coins.

Using a Palm Pilot to manage the home

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I’ve been using a Palm Pilot for over a year to help me manage my day to day activities and have found it to be invaluable. I know Palm Pilots are so yesterday, what with iPhones and Blackberrys and other smartphones on the market, but I don’t have any need for accessing the Internet on my phone and certainly don’t want to pay more than the $100/year I’m currently paying for my phone plan. Also, used Palms can be had for under $50 on Ebay. I’m currently using a Tungsten T from 2001 that I bought for $50 last year and it works okay. It’s tech on the cheap.

My Palm Tungsten T displaying the HandyShopper application

My Palm Tungsten T displaying the HandyShopper application

Besides the usual calendar, address book, and to-do lists, which are great for organizing my schedule, I’ve found two other programs that really help me with my tasks:

  1. HandyShopper works great as a shopping list that I can use again and again. Items are organized by store, and once added the entry stays around in the database making it easy to re-add it later by searching by the first couple of characters. Anytime I need to buy something or realize I’m running low on it, I whip out my Tungsten, make a few scribbles, and put it back in my pocket. In the store, I check off the items as I add them to my shopping cart. Very Handy indeed.

  2. ReDo adds items to my To-Do on a schedule that I determine. Among other things, I use it to add my usual household cleaning tasks to my To-Do list, such as vacuuming the carpets or changing the sheets. The deadline date for each task is also quite flexible, so I can specify that certain tasks are due within a day of being added and others are just due sometime in the next week. It’s really helped me keep on top of what needs to be done, and gives me the satisfaction of crossing things off my list after completing them.

    Unfortunately, the website that used to host it is gone, and my attempts to reach the developer have been for naught. Among other things, it means I can’t pay the $10 shareware fee, and get a monthly reminder to register that I cannot get rid of. If you need a copy, your best bet is to look at the Internet Archive copy of the original page.

So far, I’ve been able to keep up with my To-Do list tasks because Hong is still on maternity leave from the office, but I have no doubt that I’ll have to scale back once she goes back to work in March. There’s no way the floors are going to get vacuumed once a week while I have to manage three small children.

Addendum: In case you’re thinking about buying a used Palm at this point, I would advise you to stay away from the Tungsten T model. It has a nasty bug where, after time, the pen’s register will drift away from where you actually pressed. I have to constantly re-calibrate mine, sometimes each time I turn it on. This only takes me a few seconds, but it’s enough of a hassle to warn people to avoid this particular model. As far as I know, the Tungsten T2 and T3 do not have this problem.

It’s snow fun

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Today in Indiana we experienced the infrequent combination of 1) enough snow to have fun in, 2) temperatures that weren’t too cold to be outside for, and 3) neither Maggie, Oliver, or myself were sick. I took this as a sign that I should put off my chores for the moment and go out and play!

They enjoyed making snow castles with their shovel and pail. Meanwhile, I didn’t shirk all of my chores…I used some of my time to shovel some of the snow off the driveway.

After it was over, it was warm chocolate milk for everyone!

Retail Me Not

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Retail Me Not
Whenever I’m getting ready to complete an online purchase and I see one of those “promotional code” fields, I always head over to Retail Me Not to see if they can give me any that work. More often than not, I can find one that works. Free Shipping is a common promotion, as are flat or percentage discounts of 5%, 10%, or even 20% or more. I’ve easily saved a couple of hundred dollars from these codes through the years.

Good baby

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I remember with our first two children, I’d be reading a baby care book to come across the helpful fact that

Newborn babies typically get between 16-20 hours of sleep a day.

I’d scoff at this because my babies weren’t getting anywhere near that amount of sleep. My selective memory remembers they were only getting 12 hours of sleep a day. It was probably actually more than that, but I quite remember that it was less than what “the books” were telling me.

Naturally, I was fully prepared to accept the inevitable with Sophie. Given that, it’s perhaps amazing that she was brought into this world in the first place. What could we have been thinking? But apparently God has smiled upon us and granted us a child that knows how to sleep. She’s definitely closer to the 20-hour-a-day mark, and can sleep through anything, including two other kids who may be squealing or fighting nearby.

Sophie is already on a regular sleeping schedule at night, waking up once around 2am and again around 6am for feedings. She’s calm the whole time, and can be coaxed back to sleep with a little bit of rocking and cuddling. After dealing with colicky Oliver and his hour-long crying fits at night, Sophie has been simply amazing. She’s such an easy baby.

We used to justify our kids’ wakefulness as a testament to their alertness and intelligence. Depending on how smart Sophie turns out, we may have to change our reasoning to simply say our first two kids were just unusually difficult.