Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Discussing My Itinerary

This morning, Chunk and I stretched out across the floor, looking at a huge, cartoon atlas he got from his grandparents. We had it open to a double-paged view of the United States, each state showing capitals and large cities, as well as little drawings of what you can expect to find in each location.

He quickly pointed out Denver, telling me that was where he lived. I showed him Minnesota, where we visited last summer. He found Mount Rushmore and told me about the "faces." I stretched my arm out and pointed to Kentucky.

"That's where I'm going today," I told him.

"You're going to work?" he asked.

"Yep. I have to work way over there," I answered.

He turned to me and asked, "Can I go with you?"

How can you say no to something like that?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Has It Really Been A Month Since My Last Post?!?

Chunk and Santa
It's been a long while since I've posted, so I thought I'd get you all caught up on the various activities going on in the Denver household. Here are the important or noteworthy events:

1. Chunk turned three! THREE! Geez, if people call it the "Terrible Twos" what are the threes? Something so profane, so unspeakably vile, that it can't even be uttered aloud? Almost overnight he went from a decent, pretty well behaved kid to someone in desperate need of legal action to help him regulate his meds. In the immortal words of my people, uffda!

There have been some goods things to come out of this weird transformation, however, such as the constant lectures from Chunk stating "I'm a big boy now, daddy" whenever I accidentally refer to him as my "little guy." Also, the way he literally walks around in public holding up three fingers as a sort of shorthand for "I'm still the birthday boy, damnit!" is kind of hilarious. And, as frustrating as he can be, it's been pretty amazing to see him becoming his own, independent person, a little bit every day. I'm hopeful that when he turns eighteen, I'll still be able to tolerate him, and his therapist will tell him that not everything is my fault.

My prediction for the next year: 1) Many posts that start with, "Man, that kid is driving me crazy..." and 2) An eBay listing for a slightly used three old, complete with toys, books, and croup.

2. Christmas Cards! My wife and I decided it was time to finally do the time honored tradition of sending out Christmas cards. We've been adults... legally... for a long time now and the world was an empty, sort of sad place, without a carefully constructed form letter from us addressed to anyone who'd be dumb enough to open the envelope. So, taking a very fetching family photo we took up in the mountains, we plugged my credit card into Shutterfly and were quickly the proud owners of 50 photo cards.

Let me tell you, when the envelope came, it was as if it was filled with opportunity. The smell that came from the fresh photos wasn't the scent of chemicals, but the lingering aroma of respectability. We would be sending out Christmas cards! Yes! We would add our pictures and lame Christmas update letter to the same stack of junk mail that contained offers from Citigroup and address labels from the Dumb Friends League! That would be us!

Then the smell went away.

So, how many did we send out? Well, we gave a few away on Christmas to family members, but that's about it. Denver Family: 0, Laziness: 1.

Maybe next year.

3. We celebrated Christmas! To be more precise, we celebrated three days of Christmas, starting with Denver Mom's extended family on the 23rd, my family on the 24th, then our small family (plus Denver Mom's mom and grandma) on the 25th. It would have been helpful to have water stations between the holiday meals, so I could run by, grab a cup, and throw it on my face before checking my pulse and continuing on to the next celebration, but I didn't plan far enough ahead.

The great thing about being a parent on the holidays is that you suddenly have power over your own parents. You know how when you were younger you had to do whatever your parents said, on and around every holiday? When you have a child, that completely disappears, because your child is the ultimate trump card. So, when my parents say, "We're going to go down to the Legion to help with the Christmas party" I can say, "We're busy!" Or, when my parents say, "We're going to watch Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas Eve," I can say, "It's not that same old Betamax version we've been watching since 1986, is it? We're busy!"

So, instead of marching along to my older sister's Christmas dinner orders, we can do our own thing, and that's exactly what we did. And, not to be arrogant or anything, but my ham was by far the most moist and flavorful out of the entire holiday bunch. Actually, my entire Christmas meal, which consisted of the already mentioned ham, garlic mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, and a salad, was by far the best meal out of all three. And, the pumpkin bread pudding we made for desert more than meet expectations.

Chunk had a blast, of course. I think he thinks his birthday is sort of like Christmas Lite, because going into the holidays that kid had his unwrapping skills honed to near perfection. He was the Michael Jordan of gift unwrapping! And yet, even he got tired of unwrapping stuff. After a while, he sort of sighed and shrugged whenever we urged him to open another gift, acting more like we were trying to get him to eat lettuce, than open up another book or toy.

The crazy thing is we really tried to cut back this year. Last year was simply embarrassing. It was every bit as vulgar as those cynics say Christmas has become, and so this year, we made an effort to restrain ourselves. Even then, he was overwhelmed by it all. We might cut back even more next year, but I don't really know how to walk that particular line.

I was talking to a woman in my office a few weeks ago and she mentioned that her kids get two presents every year, one from them (the parents), and then one from Santa. That seems a little too far in the other direction, but there has to be a balance there. If anyone wants to play armchair Santa in the comments section, I'd love to hear what your family does.

4. Snow! We had a white Christmas! And, a white... um... Thursday! And Friday was sort of white too. Today? Looks like it's going to be vaguely white with a chance of white. Tomorrow? Yeah, even I have to stop here... the joke is only a couple of sentences long and it's already getting old. We're getting lots of snow in Colorado, which is both sort of weird, and sort of expected.

Last year we had a blizzard every week. Literally. Every Saturday something would blow in and hammer us, so we got used to lots of snow (and cannibalism, for those Denverites that didn't have well stocked cubbards). The thing is, before last year, things have been kind of dry around here. In a lot of ways, the snow has been really fun, so I'm not complaining. I just wish the inside of the windows in the Subaru weren't icing up!

5. Guitar Hero III! Remember when I confessed that Guitar Hero II had threatened my very soul? Remember how I was both dreading and longing for the sequel? Well, my friends, Guitar Hero III is definitely in the house and it's every bit as fun as I was hoping. They have a new co-op career mode, which when translated out of nerddom, means Denver Mom and I have formed the most face-melting, cheesy plastic guitar band in Denver and we rock it when Chunk goes to bed. We rock it hard. Seriously. You should see us shred "When We Were Young". Denver Mom even does some cool guitar moves while she plays and so I'm expecting the inevitable Pete Townshead windmills any day now.

Denver Mom's Mom played on Christmas when she was over and she loved it. Looks like we're going to have to get Rock Band now, so all three of us can play at the same time. Sigh.

If we ever needed proof that video games are corrupting America's youth, we now have it. Chunk's new favorite song is "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," thanks to Guitar Hero III, and he knows all the words. I'm going to have to get video of him playing and singing along, all while dancing, because it's something you really do have to see to truly understand. I don't think I could explain it in a way that would do it any justice.

So, what's ahead? I'm glad you asked! In my immediate future....

1. Split Pea Soup! Yeah, I make it. And, it's pretty kick butt too! Insert macho cooking gestures here.

2. New Job/Travel! I start my new job in just over a week! And, my first day will be spent on an airplane, as they're flying me out to Kentucky for a national meeting! I've never been to Kentucky, so this should be sort of fun.

3. Jury duty! It's my civic duty and I'm all about civic duty, but I'm really dreading this. I hope I don't get called in. I'm trying to wrap things up at my current job and I could really use the time in the office. I missed the "whine to get out of it" deadline, so it's all up to luck now... which, sadly, has never really had my back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The End of An Era

How long, exactly, is an "era" anyway?

After 20 months, I've decided to leave my current position. It was a difficult decision for me, because unlike previous times when I've left jobs, I still really like where I'm at and believe in the mission of my organization. I genuinely care about the families we serve, believe we're making a difference in the community, and enjoy the quirks (and yes, irritations) of my coworkers, but as burnt out as I've been feeling, I needed a change.

It's funny, because one of the weird truths about the "industry" I work in (I put industry in quotes because its a strange word to describe what I do) is that development people last, on average, only eighteen months. So, I guess, I exceeded the average, but only barely. Why the huge turn over of staff? Well, begging for money is stressful, and although I was lucky enough to be one of the higher paid staff in my organization, "higher paid" doesn't necessarily translate into "high pay."

I gave my resignation last week and since then things have been a little tense in the office. My boss is pretty disappointed that I'm leaving. She's been great about it, very understanding, but I can tell that I've let her down. My coworkers seem to feel the same way, but one or two of them are probably glad to see me go. Offices are like that.

I guess this is my long winded way of saying that things are changing a bit over here. I'm hoping with my new position comes a little more time for myself and my family, which I hope will also translate into a little more time for this blog. Heck, I might even start sleeping again, but I don't want to get my hopes up just yet.

I'll post more soon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

She's Not That Kind Of A Girl, Booger!

I'm not usually one for posting YouTube videos. There's nothing wrong with doing that, of course, it's just not something I've done on Denver Dad. However, having made my obligatory protests about this sort of thing, people need to see this.

Isn't your faith in humanity suddenly restored?

The truly dangerous thing is that you can actually buy a track suit like that. Hmmm. It's too late for my birthday, but Christmas is just a few short months away....

It Eats The Pizza Or It Gets The Hose

DSC00568We have neighbors that, for some unknown reason, see us as something of a charity case. And, not just any charity. No, instead of dropping by with checks or warm winter coats or boxes of filled with canned food, they bring us their leftover pizza.

I don't get it. It's not like they caught me gazing longingly at the pizza boxes in their trash can one early morning, my lips smacking at the thought of pepperoni I wasn't able to eat. It's not like we were talking to each other over the fence and I said, "I feel like I'm a pretty good dad, but I just wish we weren't so poor that we can't afford pizza. My son deserves pizza, damnit! He deserves it! Sob! Sob!" It's not like we even had the "what kind of food do you like?" conversation and I screamed back at them, "Pizza, and lots of it! Hey, if you ever have leftover pizza, you should totally drop it by!" And yet, this morning, what do our neighbors bring with them when they drop by for coffee? Leftover pizza.

In theory, I'm all for it. I happen to like leftover pizza more than most grown men should, but something about this situation leaves me feeling vaguely uncomfortable. I mean, why have we been singled out for this kind of treatment? Why not the neighbors to their east? Why not the scientist across the street, that also works in my building? And, even more importantly, why pizza? Why not, say, chili dogs or tiramisu or that midwest staple I grew up with, "hot dish?"

The only rational theory that I can come up with is that they're plying us with pizza so that we'll eventually join their cult. If the pizza continues, I'm completely fine with shaving my head and giving away all my personal belongs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crystal Meth Visions and Cough Syrup Dreams

Of course! Of course I couldn't buy cold medicine at Target because I, like many around me, are brewing crystal meth in my basement! I'm so naive, which is kind of hard to swallow for some of you, I know, because I usually come across as being so hip and "street." Thanks for pointing out what should have been obvious to me, faithful readers.

Speaking of medications and the issues that surround their use, has anyone been following the recent blow up about cold medicine for infants and toddlers? The national and local news was on Defcon 4 yesterday, dropping tantalizing teasers about how cold medicine is kicking in doors, doing unspeakable things to our children, then blogging about it so all of its friends can laugh cruelly at our families. So, like most parents home during that time of the day, I dutifully sat on the couch, hugging a pillow, praying that cold medicine wouldn't be taking my son away, and watched the news stories with cold terror grasping my heart. I should have known this was going to be like every other crisis... something of a non-issue.

Basically, the terrifying news is that parents are ignoring the labels on the cold medicine they give their children, and making up dosages for their children. This is causing overdoses in children which is leading to horrible complications and sometimes deaths.

I'm not sure I understand the hysteria. The labels, if you take the time to read them, on any over-the-counter medication you find for children clearly say "check with your doctor" for dosage amounts for children under two years old. The labels never say, "Check with your doctor or just give them eighteen tablespoons, an apple, and some fresh air." They don't say, "Oh... just give out whatever you think is good." They state very clearly that you should check with your doctor. So, what's the problem? Why the overdoses? And, is this really an issue that the Federal government should be getting involved in, as they are? Is this the sort of thing that really requires medicine being pulled from shelves?

The problems with asking these questions is that they lead to a number of sticky social areas. Why aren't people checking with their doctors? Maybe they don't have access to doctors. Maybe they don't have insurance. We have what I think is pretty good insurance, but getting Chunk's pediatrician on the phone is a little like trying to call the governor of your state. Are people just not reading the dosage labels? Do people just take for granted the danger that medicine poses, especially for little ones?

It's a weird issue. On the one hand, I think this panic is a little uncalled for. On the other hand, I can see how it could be an issue.


Completely Unrelated Comment: I finally broke down and purchased an actual "blogging" application. Journler is nifty, but doesn't work with Blogger, so I tried out a couple of other applications like Ecto and Mars Edit. For what it's worth, I went with Mars Edit. Check it out if you're an OS X user and are looking for something simple, but powerful.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Papers, Please... I Vould Like To Zee Yer Papers

So, I ran to our friendly neighborhood Super Target last night to grab our son some new socks (his feet are massive now and eating through his old socks like they are make of acid... the feet, not the socks) as well as pick up some groceries. Does it make me less hip to admit that I have a strange, secret crush on Target and all their supposedly low prices? I say "supposedly," because groceries seem to cost more at Target than any other place on earth, unless you're buying pods for my ridiculously pretentious and complicated coffee maker. On the one hand, I just know they're screwing me with their prices, but their commercials are all shiny and have lots of stuff spinning around and they keep saying they'll save me money, so I believe them.


In many respects, Target is a lot like a politician. If Target runs for president in 2008, expect a landslide vote, then a raise in taxes all while sweater clad twenty-somethings smile and wave and dance with new appliances. Seriously.

Anyway, this post isn't about Target's bait and switch tactics. No, this post is about cold medicine.

Denver Mom wasn't feeling well and asked that I get her some "Advil Nighttime." After ten minutes spent looking for it in the cold medicine aisle, I determined that it doesn't actually exist, so I grabbed "Advil Cold & Sinus." Or, I thought I was grabbing Advil Cold & Sinus. In reality, I was grabbing a little plastic card, which told me I had to go up to the pharmacy desk if I actually wanted medicine. Then, the pharmacist asked to see my ID, then scanned it, and made me pay for the cold medicine right there, even though I had a whole cart of groceries I was going to be paying for shortly. I even asked the guy, "This isn't a prescription. This is just normal cold medicine, right?" The look I got, in response, was a combination of annoyance and shock.

What's going on here? It's not like the medicine was expensive ($4.85). I literally had an easier time getting codeine when I had pneumonia. Is there some rash of crazy teenagers getting hopped up on decongestant?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Those About To Rock... In Their Underwear

Just a few blog posts ago I was boosting about my maturity. No, no, the siren call of video games doesn't affect me any longer, for I have become a responsible adult! I was so bold, so self-assured, so proud of my newfound responsibility, so of course it wouldn't last. My friends, if there is another sudden disappearance from this blog, weeks and weeks of nothing new appearing in the many shades of green text you find here, you can blame Guitar Hero II.

Yes, I know, I thought I wouldn't be able to follow the plot either, what without my having played the first Guitar Hero, but I've managed to find some sites on the internet that have explained the idiosyncrasies of the story to me. And, thanks to my keen deductive mind, I've been able to follow the labyrinth of twists and turns with a fumbling, but modest success. What? You're not a fan yet? You don't know about Guitar Hero II?

It boils down to this... you strap on a cheesy, plastic guitar-shaped controller that has buttons on the neck and a weird switch/bar thing you can flick in its center. By pressing the keys and strumming in time to the music you're instantly transformed from a mild-mannered, non-profit office drone into a God of Rock. Or, at least, that's how it works for me. You might have different results, especially if you resist the urge to play in your underwear.

So, Guitar Hero has become my new “thing.“ It's become my hobby, my obsession, nearly become religion for me. Chunk? He loves it too. He doesn't really get that you have to press the buttons and strum at the same time, but he sure likes trying to play it, even if his attempts result in odd noises from his virtual guitar and his little computer-generated rocker gets booed off stage. What else does he like? He likes dancing along to the music while I play, which is kind of neat, as I get to indulge in my new obsession and then claim we were actually having some father-and-son time. I didn't know you needed dancers when you were performing old Motley Crue and Primus songs... again... in your underwear... but it seems to work in the Denver household.

The only bad thing I've discovered since mixing Guitar Hero II and parenting is that while it's a lot of fun, many of the songs are completely inappropriate for a two year old to know by heart and sing along to in public places. There's one particular song called “Possum Kingdom“ by the Toadies which, while not having any foul language or anything, seems to be sung from the perspective of a serial killer “seducing“ his next victim. So, of course that's Chunk's favorite. It's just called “the guitar song“ now and he likes to sing it while we're driving around, hanging out at the coffee shop, or running errands. I would lie to you and say it's cute, but really, it's just kind of creepy.