Friday, March 30, 2007



Monday, March 26, 2007

Two Types of Parents / Greener Pastures

It’s just a shame that the more interesting stuff you have going on in any given time frame…the more difficult it is to find the time to sit down and write about it.

Two Types of Parents

It was about a month and a half ago that the Parents as Teachers lady sat on our living room floor and said, “There are two types of parents. The first group moves all dangerous items out of the baby’s living space. The second group leaves the items there and teaches the baby not to touch them.”

Now I was sitting there, cross-legged with my daughter on my lap thinking, “Well, I’m on the leave it there bus, myself.” I mean…cover the electrical outlets, block the stairs, keep them from killing themselves. But, I’m not going to live in a padded house to keep Norah from conking her head now and again. Besides, said I to myself, a kid has to learn how to navigate the real world. Silly paranoid parents, I thought.

Well, it’s been a month and a half and we are now actually living with a mobile child. The thought experiment has become a scuttling reality and our living room is a very different place. Ya see, I’ll stand by my previous opinion in theory….but I failed to factor in the sheer annoyance that can be generated by a child so clearly determined to injure herself and wreck our home.

After countless floor shuffling sessions, our cd rack has been moved behind the large, unmovable potted plant. It’s a horribly inconvenient place for them…but then, that’s the point, I guess. The potted plant itself has suffered many crushed leaves and would probably have been moved itself if it weren’t for its significant roll as cd and lethal cord blocker. Thanks for your valiant sacrifices, Unmovable Potted Plant. We appreciate it.

The couches that once angled into the living room to encourage conversation have been pushed flush against the wall to discourage electrocution. HGTV would not approve of the layout, but Norah cares naught for feng shui and was far too interested in the power chords and the heavy block of marble on spindly, wobbly legs that once sat behind our couch.

The grate to the fireplace has been transplanted to a safrer home, replaced by a tension pet gate. Not only does it keep her from a) pulling the grate down on her head and b) eating the fake coals….it’s also the height of interior design. Very industrial.

However, we’ve not moved completely into the "remove everything" camp. I think we’ve found a comfortable middle ground in which Norah can maintain a healthy level of bruised-but-not-broken.

For instance, for several days after she learned to pull herself up, Norah seemed determined to head-butt her way through our coffee table. Due to time constraints and an underlying faith in my child’s learning curve, I never found time to make it to Lowes to purchase my baby-proofing kit of water pipe insulation tubes and zip-ties. And I’d like to report that by the time I went to Lowes this weekend…she no longer needed it. She hasn’t hit her head on that thing in about a week. Now…when she learns running, we may need to go back to Plan A.

The only other problem we’re facing now as we chase our little girl from room to room is dog toys. Arlo has long understood the difference between his toys and Norah’s toys. If one of his toys happened to roll up against one of hers, he would ever so slowly and ever so gently retrieve it, careful to let you know at every step that he had no intention of touching the baby toy. Norah, on the other hand, has no such etiquette. Any toy her furry brother is playing with instantly becomes to coolest plaything in the house. And sadly, the dog will drop the toy and let her have it before moping away to bemoan his lot in life. “You’re faster than her,” we explain to him. “Just keep away from her. You don’t have to share.” But alas…he is a martyr at heart and only too willing to submit to the cruel injustice of it all. We keep telling Norah, “Don’t touch.” But, she just finds it an interesting prelude to her touching something.

So, of the two types of parents…we’re saddling the fence between the two these days. We let her roam and explore and aren’t too afraid of some bumps and bruises along the way. But I’ll admit that we had underestimated the destructive force of an 8-month-old.

Greener Pastures

It’s official…Spring is here. No, I’m not talking about the calendar. I’m talking about the fact that I had to mow our yard and finally rake all those half-decayed leaves that I’d been avoiding since Fall. The flowers are blooming, green things are sprouting everywhere and the fans have been pulled up from the basement. The windows are open which means the midnight practice session of the band across the street now seem much louder. But it also means a wonderful breeze across the bed and bird song to wake to. It’s very difficult to get out of bed these days. Just…too…comfy.

Instead of hiding upstairs during Moonshot’s piano lesions, I’ve been taking walks with Norah and Arlo on Monday and Wednesday nights. I have to remember not to leave my lunch cooler on the sun room floor lest the ants find it. And Norah has been tickled to be allowed to scurry about the house in just a diaper.

We’re all big fans of spring at Casa de Gren. Hope you're enjoying it whereever you are.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where Would You Hide?

When I was a kid, I had a play room in the basement where I kept my Star Wars toys. It was directly beside the steps and on the other side of the wall was a wasted little bit of space under the stairs. Luckily, the walls in this room were fake wood paneling that had cracked, leaving a tent flap of sorts that would grant me access to this secret space.

For some reason, Dad thought that looked tacky and set about fixing it. However, Dad always had a soft spot for secret rooms and hidden passages, so he completely understood the magical appeal of the space behind the wall.

So, he framed in a bookshelf. Nicely trimmed border, nothing out of the ordinary. But, if you pulled on the shelves, you’d discover that the whole thing sat on hidden wheels and that there were handles on the back of the bookshelf that would allow you to pull the “door” closed behind you. He gave me a pull-chain light back there and I hung posters. It was my secret room. I’d sit down there and imagine that if the Russians ever did invade…I’d hide in my special place and they wouldn’t ever find me.

That sort of thinking was fine for a 2nd grader. However, I think that little room affected me. Ya see, on a fairly regular basis, I look around a building and think, “If I had to hide in this building…where would I hide?” I no longer think that the Russians are coming. Nor do I think a clever hiding spot would save me if they did. But my imagination still rushes to this question as a fun diversion.

When I was in high school I worked at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. They bought out the old United Super but, the locals just couldn’t accept the goofy name. We tried to explain that it was a pretty big chain down south…but they just couldn’t deal with it and the store shut down. But that’s not my point. My point is that in the back area, they had this big box smasher. Six feet wide, four feet deep and about seven feet tall, pistons on the top would shove a massive, flat plate down into the box bin. But, I noticed that above the flat smasher plate was open…no top and no moving parts. So at sixteen I would often contemplate hiding there if terrorists or criminals of any sort were to invade the Piggly Wiggly. I figured the only way they would find me is if they used the machine. If the smasher plate were lowered…I would slowly drop righting into view. But, I was fairly confident that the terrorists were unlikely to want to smash any boxes. I was, however, aware than vicious enough terrorists might want to use the box smasher to kill a few of my co-workers. In that case I was screwed…but overall, I liked my odds.

At my current job, there are two large pillars in the large open area on the upper floor…maybe five feet by three feet. One of them houses an electrical panel and other such equipment. However, the other one seems to have been added just to visually balance out the room. I’ve used it to run some CAT-5 cable from the first floor switch room to the plenum above, so I know that it is (aside from my wires) empty. If the bad guys take over this building and I can’t, for some odd reason, escape through one of the many handy exits...I’m jumping on a table, shimmying my way into the plenum and down into that pillar. I figure I’m still in danger of random gun fire…but no one would really think to look there.

So, villians of some sort are about to invade your work. They’ve surrounded the place and would see you if you made an exit. We’ll disregard the fact that your co-workers would see you hiding and probably rat you out. We'll imagine that you’re working late or something and are there by yourself. Where would you hide? Some of you may have your answer ready. Others may want to take a little stroll around your place of business and start asking, “Could I fit in there?” and “If I were a bad guy…would I look in there?”

PS - It appears that today marks this blog's 365th day in existence. I've been jabbering on for a full year and people still seem to think I've got something worthwhile to say. Go figure.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tale of a Lucky Idiot

I’d just like to take a moment to thank my neighborhood for being such a safe place to live. It’s an older section of town and there is some low rent housing about four or five blocks down the road, but overall, I feel very safe here. And I think it’s very important that I live in a place that harbors me no ill will since I am clearly incapable of protecting myself.

Only an hour ago, my family and I returned from a visit to Kansas City. We left yesterday morning and have therefore been gone for just under two days. We arrived to find our front door open. No, not unlocked. Wide open. The spring-closed storm door was shut to keep the cats in…but the actual door was open to the world.

“Come on in!” it said to the teenagers in the neighborhood. “Have a wild party. Puke in the corner and spray paint the walls.”

“Me stereo system, su stereo system,” it said to anyone passing by who happened to be in the market for electronics at the rock bottom price of FREE!

“Make yourself at home,” it said to any homeless crazy folks who were looking for a warm bed and a closet to crap in.

Fortunately, my neighborhood is safer than I am. So, I’d like to thank everyone around these parts for ignoring the invitation my open door was shouting to any an all passers-by.

And furthermore…I’d also like to thank the neighborhood for ignoring this issue last time I did the same, exact thing a couple years ago.

Man, I’m an idiot.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ain’t No One Gonna Break My Stride

guest post by Norah

It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been working on several new tricks for the past month or so, but have been trying my best to keep my development secret from Mommy and Daddy. They seem to so enjoy my status as a helpless infant that it would just break my little heart to make them start with the whole “oh, she’s growing up so fast” business. So, I find it’s best to keep them guessing.

However, last weekend the folks left me so they could go off and do grown-up things at a Bed and Breakfast…which is odd since I know we have both beds and breakfast food right here at our house. Anyway, MoMa came up to stay with me. Apparently word got out about the massive party I had been planning and they felt I needed supervision. But we had a good time, MoMa and me. I had fun waking her up in the middle of the night and then acting like I didn’t know why she was upset. That game never gets old.

When Mommy and Daddy came home, they seemed like they were in such good moods that I figured it was probably time to start wowing them with all my progress. And since they’ve been so impressed, I’d to take a few moments and wow you as well.

1) Gots me some chompers!

Yup, I’ve got two little teeth poking out of my lower jaw. I play with them a lot, bite my upper gums, run my tongue across them, that sort of thing. I’m still not quite sure why I need them, since all my food is pretty mushy, but it does make it fun to chomp on my toys. Chomp, Chomp!

2) Now I’ve got something to stand for.

Just to be different, just to shirk the system and take the challenges at my own pace, I decided to do this one completely out of order. I’ve been sitting pretty well for months. And I’ve been able to pull myself up to my feet for a couple weeks. But on Tuesday of this week, I freaked poor Mommy out by simply standing up in the middle of the room. Nothing to hold onto. I just propped myself into an A shape and pushed myself up. Mommy and I stared at each other for about five seconds or so before I toppled over. We laughed and laughed. I did it again a bit later just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and then decided to put that trick on the shelf and I haven’t done it since. I like to make my parents brag about my accomplishments…and then stop doing things just so all their friends think they might just be lying.

3) Knee-Based Locomotion

Having proven that I am fully capable of standing on my own two-feet, I was then willing to consider more traditional methods of baby mobility. I therefore set my mind to the challenge of the crawl. My major problem with this form of travel has been my feet. I lean forward from a sitting position to get crawling, but my foot would always get caught on my other leg…preventing me from forward motion. I could move around, but it was a complex maneuver in which I would lean forward, pivot and then push myself back into a sitting position about one foot closer to my goal. Repeat maneuver until the goal had been reached. It was effective…but tedious. However, by using the A-frame method that led to such success in the standing feat, I have overcome this hurdle and have become a child on the go. I did it once for Daddy on Wednesday night while Mommy taught piano. But, I refused to do it again so that Mommy would be tempted to dismiss Daddy’s claim. Then, just this morning, I did it again and Mommy said, “Moksha, come here! She’s crawling.” And Daddy said, “Yeah…that’s exactly what she did the other night.” But he still hugged me and acted all excited about it again. And then they argued over what date to put in my baby book since Mommy still didn’t seem convinced Daddy knew what he was talking about.

Grown-ups are so funny.

4) Movin’ On Up

Having mastered the art of standing and the art of forward motion, I’m now working on merging the two into what my research says is called “cruising.” Right after Mommy wrote down Wednesday as my first crawl, I pulled myself up to the couch and cruised a few steps to reach for a pillow. Just a tease for the old folks. Then I dropped to my knees and scooted away to get a dog toy.

Over all, I’m pretty pleased with my week. My teeth kinda hurt and that wakes me up in the night. But that’s ok. Since I can move around so much now, I don’t even try to go back to sleep. I just roam around the crib and scream for Mommy and Daddy. Rolling and crawling and pulling yourself up on the crib bars are all wonderful ways to keep yourself from accidentally falling asleep.

I would, in fact, count this week as just about perfectly done on my part except for one thing. I may have overplayed my cards. As I was crawling off into the dining room, I overheard Mommy say to Daddy, “Oh….she’s growing up so fast.”