August 31, 2008

Would you like to join us for dinner?

Before having kids I would think about how I wanted to raise my children. I imagined dinner around the table, having dynamic conversations about the meaning of life or how much western civilization has been influenced by the ancient Greeks.

Instead, I find our family engaged in conversation of the lowest common denominator:

TheMonk: Elmo says it’s okay to go pee-pee on the floor but I go pee-pee in the toilet.
Daddy: Let’s not go pee-pee on the floor.  You can go pee-pee in the toilet all the time.
TheMonk: Yes.  I go pee-pee in the toilet like a big boy.
Daddy: Yes, Monk.  And don’t you worry about it being 2 months since you started going pee-pee in the potty and you still haven’t gone poo-poo in the potty.  Don’t you worry at all, Big Guy.
Mommy: And Monkey’s going to go poo-poo in the potty soon, right Monk?
TheMonk: Yes.  But I’m not going to go poo-poo upstairs like Swee’Pea.  [Note: Last month, after a nap, Mommy took Swee'Pea's Pull-Up off without realizing Swee'Pea had deposited a few "pebbles" into her Pull-Up during nap time.  The pebbles fell out onto the floor and TheMonk freaked out and tortured poor unsuspecting Swee'Pea about "going poo-poo on the floor."]
Daddy: That wasn’t Swee’Pea’s fault, Monk.
Mommy: That’s right.  Swee’Pea went poo-poo in her Pull-Up.  Mommy didn’t know.  It wasn’t her fault, Monkey.
TheMonk: Hey, I just tooted!
Swee’Pea: Maybe you should go poo-poo in the toilet right now, Monk. Do you have to go poo-poo right now?
TheMonk: No. I don’t have to go right now. I just tooted.

Nothing like potty talk at the dinner table.  On the plus side, I hear the Ancient Greeks had indoor plumbing, so maybe I can squeeze that tidbit into tomorrow night’s conversation.

August 28, 2008

How AT&T & Apple suck and a birthday wish for my wife

Dear Beautiful Wife,

First, happy birthday Honey. You are just as beautiful today as the day I first met you. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share the last decade of your life with you. You are such a strong woman that I feel so grateful that you are the mother of my children and that you are my wife.

And for such a wonderful woman, on her birthday, I thought I would get you a gift that you’d remember for quite a while. I thought I’d get you a gift that would push you ahead of me in the cool technology department. I thought I’d get you a gift that would make you want to get frisky with me every time you held it in your hand. Yes, I was going to get you an iPhone.

At this point, you have probably noticed, in that last sentence, that I said “was going to get you an iPhone.”

Yeah, about that.

You see, I thought since we are already AT&T mobile phone users that it wouldn’t be much of a problem upgrading you to an iPhone. So, today after work, I waltzed into the Apple store and told a cheerful young lady that I wanted to purchase an iPhone, take it home to present to you on your birthday as a surprise and a sign of my eternal love and devotion, and then return to activate it once you had been sufficiently surprised.

The lady looked at me and said, “Uh, yeah, you can’t do that. They make you purchase the plan and activate the phone right away.” [And by "They", I'm assuming she meant AT&T because Apple would never, ever do anything to inconvenience their customers.]

I asked her if she was serious and she said, with a great “customer service” smile, “Yes. Sorry, we can’t help you in surprising your wife. How about a nice gift card?”

I’m thinking a gift card isn’t going to get anybody frisky with me so I quickly tell her “I guess she won’t be getting an iPhone, then.” And I turn to leave. The girl shouts out to me, “Don’t blame me, okay?!” I reply, “Of course I’m going to blame you. It wasn’t MY fault!”

So, I’m a bit pissed. But I see a way out of this. I figure, I’ll run home, sneak your cell phone out of your purse, and take it to the AT&T store down the street and see if I can get the phone changed over to the iPhone. I’m certain this plan will work. I’ll plop down the $199 for the phone, switch your old phone over to the shiny new iPhone and we’ll be gettin’ frisky faster than you can say Steve Jobs.

That’s when I hit snag #2. The lady at the AT&T store checks to see if your phone is due for an upgrade. This worries me because I know that it’s not and I’m not sure how it’s related to me purchasing an iPhone. “Well,” she says, “Because your phone isn’t due for an upgrade, the iPhone will cost you $399.”

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. “What happened to the $199?! The one that’s advertised all over the store?!” I ask incredulously.

“That’s for new lines or phones due for an upgrade. We don’t care that you have been a customer for years, you’ll have to pay $399 for that iPhone while anyone who has never been our customer and we have absolutely no relationship with, can get it for $200 cheaper. We want to screw you, our long and loyal customer, as hard as possible.” [Okay, maybe she just said that first sentence. Everything else is what she was thinking, I'm sure.]

So, even though with a little arithmetic in my head showing that with the price difference between the monthly plan you currently have and the monthly plan we’d have to pay for the iPhone, they would have made up the $200 difference for the phone in approximately five months (and considering we have 19 months left on our current contract, they would have made $560 more from us than they will right now by just selling us the phone for $199), I walked out of there agitated, angry and a little bit pissed.

As you know, I don’t have a lot of patience for businesses who claim they are all about the customer but then create policies that, in fact, are totally anti-customer. It drives me insane.

I say we just play out your contract, switch to Verizon, and use the new LG Dare. You’ll still be cool and we’ll be $760 dollars richer. A win-win.

Okay, now back to your birthday. So, I didn’t get you an iPhone. However, you know I didn’t leave you empty handed. You know I love to take care of you. So, I got you what you asked for. I got you, via Maggie’s shopping blog, your very own Fall Lunch bag, via The Gap. I know $10 is a big difference from $199 but it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And it was like, $17 with shipping, so I did splurge on you a bit. You deserve it babe.

The kids got you some chocolate that you’ll have to share with them because they’re three and think all chocolate is for them.

But most of all, you get to bask in the knowledge that you are loved by a doting husband, two beautiful kids, and one very vocal cat.

If that doesn’t get you frisky, I don’t know what will.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful wife! I love you!

August 25, 2008

He’s the chip, I’m the block

We are at a neighborhood luau on this particular Saturday afternoon.  After an afternoon of balloon-getting, face painting, yummy food eating, and playing with friends, the end of the luau features some very talented Polynesian dancers complete with fire knives.

At the end of the performance, the dancers ask kids to come up to learn how to hula.  Swee’Pea decides she doesn’t want to participate.  TheMonk, on the other hand, after some initial hesitation decides that he too wants to shake what his mama gave him and heads on up with the other 20 or so kids.  I wish I had my camera but this was a camera free afternoon so you’ll just have to take my word for it that TheMonk knows how to get down Polynesian style.  His little hips were all over the place and he was excited to participate.

In fact, he was so excited that when they called up the men in the audience to learn how to hula, TheMonk insisted on going with me.

So, there we were, father and son, sharing a father and son moment.  Some dads take their kids to ball games, some go for bike rides, but TheMonk and I were doing the hula.

And I must admit, I didn’t even pause to think how much of a fool I looked like because I was being foolish with my boy.


August 19, 2008

It’s my patriotic duty to not raise whiners

We have a saying around here… “Don’t give in, Don’t ever give in.”

Okay, maybe it’s just me that says that.  I’ll have to ask the Lovely Wife how she does it.  But for me, I have to look fury in the eye and never, ever blink.

‘Cause when you give into your kid’s screaming, the communists win.

But every now and then I think, “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to live with the commies.”

Like two days ago, upon arriving home from work, Swee’Pea greeted me with an “owie.” She showed me her thumb that had a hang nail.  So I went and got the clippers, trimmed the hang nail, and even put on a Hello Kitty band aid, which around here makes all owies seem less severe.

That night, after going to bed, Swee’Pea lost her Hello Kitty Band Aid.  It fell off and would not go back on.  But seeing as how we were pretty sure she wouldn’t die from her hang nail, we assured her we’d put on a new band aid in the morning but it was time to go to sleep.

And that is when Swee’Pea lost her sh*t.

She cried.  She screamed.  She yelled.  She kicked.  She thrashed.  She threw a tantrum so bad that Naomi Campbell stopped slapping her assistant long enough to say, “Damn, girl.”

It was at that moment that I thought, let’s just give her the damn band aid.  But then I thought of what could happen if I let her get her way by throwing tantrums.  First it’s band aids.  Next it’s expensive clothes and then, what, a car?  No, I don’t think so.  She was going to learn the hard way that crying does not get you what you want.  I would let her cry as long as it took for me to prove this important point.

It took over 30 minutes.

At one point, she screamed for Mommy, Daddy, and Nutty Kitty (our cat) to help her.  Little did she know that once the screaming reached octaves only audible by bats, Nutmeg the cat ran downstairs while saying, “I’m outta here!”

(Noticeably, she didn’t once ask TheMonk to help her and, just as noticeably, TheMonk never uttered a word while lying in the crib next to her.  Either the guy can sleep through a rock concert or he had no interest in getting pulled into this drama.)

Finally, silence overtook us as Swee’Pea screamed herself to sleep, a shell of her former self.  When I arrived the next morning, new Band Aid in hand as promised, Swee’Pea scrambled up to her feet so I could put on her band aid.  She then wrapped her arms around me as I picked her up and she gave me a kiss.

Nice try, Sweetheart.  But I’m not caving next time either.

I don’t look good in red.

August 17, 2008

Survey Says!

In an effort to get to know the readers that are kind enough to stop by here, I devised a survey to see what makes these readers tick.  And, I was also curious to see how much I have in common with the average reader here.  I received 100 responses in a little over 30 hours.  I was very surprised by so many responses over a weekend.  Thank you to all who answered.  So, without further ado, I will now present the results of my very scientific survey (along with my preferences, as well).  Percentages are based on the number who answered each question (at least 2 responses were blank for each of the 10 questions).  I have also added my own answer after the results of each question.

Question 1: How do you like your ice?

  • Cubed: 40%
  • Crushed: 34%
  • I don’t care, as long as it’s cold: 27%

I’m a crushed ice guy. I love that feature on my refrigerator and I will happily munch on any ice left over in my cup.

Question 2: Does your toilet paper roll…

  • Hang over the top: 71%
  • Hang down against the wall: 12%
  • Don’t care, as long as it’s there to wipe my butt: 16%

This one blew me away.  I too am a “Hang over the top” kinda guy.  I was astounded that 69% of you felt the same way.  (For the record, I think Oprah prefers it down against the wall for aesthetic reasons.  Don’t ask me how I know that)

Question 3: Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube…

  • From the bottom: 42%
  • From the middle: 28%
  • I squeeze wherever I darn well feel like: 30%

I am definitely a “squeeze from the bottom” kinda guy.  It seems that I’d be cussing out 58% of you for messing up the toothpaste tube.

Question 4: If you were forced to choose between the two, it would be…

  • Food Network: 52%
  • HGTV: 37%
  • I’d commit suicide if I was forced to watch either: 11%

When I first bought my house, I was obsessed with HGTV. I love design and it was great to get ideas. But lately, I’m an HGTV guy.  I can’t go more than a few days without watching Ace of Cakes.  And those of you who would commit suicide?  I could totally design your funeral or prepare a meal for your loved ones.

Question 5: I have this to say about the Designated Hitter

  • Great for baseball. Who likes watching pitchers hit? 24%
  • Bad for baseball. It takes away from strategy. 30%
  • What’s a Designated Hitter? 46%

The 46% who asked, “What’s a Designated Hitter” didn’t surprise me. I know that most of my readers are moms who probably don’t follow baseball.  For the record, the “DH” is a rule that the American League uses that appoints a batter (the Designated Hitter) who hits for the pitcher.  I am NOT a fan of the DH.

Question 6: When given a choice, I always choose…

  • Red Wine: 21%
  • White Wine: 15%
  • I don’t care, as long as it doesn’t come in a box: 4%
  • I dont’ care, even if it does come in a box: 12%
  • I don’t drink wine:47%

For all of the drinking stories I see from the Mommy Blogger genre, this one surprised me a bit.  I occasionally drink wine and, when I do, I always choose white.  I don’t like the tannins in red wine and it often leaves me with a headache.  And I love you guys who love your wine in a box. Very classy.

Question 7: I prefer to read…

  • Fiction: 68%
  • Non-Fiction: 24%
  • Only what’s on my computer screen: 8%

I am addicted to management and leadership books.  I will buy one or two a month and read them voraciously.  The last Fiction book I read? Probably the last Harry Potter book.

Question 8: If you had to choose for dessert…

  • Ice Cream: 35%
  • Cake: 21%
  • Both. The only choice is the one I eat first: 44%

I’m so glad to see I’m not the only glutton amongst us. Although if I could only have one, it would definitely be ice cream. But, c’mon, two is better than one.  Swee’Pea and TheMonk could tell you that.

Question 9: Browser of choice…

  • Firefox: 54%
  • Internet Explorer: 41%
  • I’m to cool for either of those: 5%

This one was interesting because after 50 surveys, Firefox was leading substantially.  IE made a comeback, however, proving it’s not dead yet.  But I have to ask you IE users… Why?  You can do so much more with Firefox.  Sometimes change is good.

Question 10: How often do you visit Childsplayx2?

  • Whenever there’s a new post on my RSS feeder: 45%
  • Daily: 32%
  • Every so often just to check in: 19%
  • This is my first visit: 4%
  • Who is Childsplayx2? 0% (whew!)

This one was enlightening.  It was a “throw-in” question because I couldn’t think of a 10th question originally.  I’m glad I asked this because a third of you come daily?! Wow!  I’m going to have to write more!

Thanks again to all who answered.  If you didn’t get to answer the original survey, just leave me your thoughts (or responses for that matter) in the comments.

August 16, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

In an effort to learn more about the readers of this blog, I have devised a survey that delves deeply into the psyche of anyone who responds.  The survey should take about 1-2 minutes of your time.  Thanks for participating in this highly scientific survey…

UPDATE: The survey site I used,, limits the free surveys to 100 respondents. Once I receive 100 responses, I’ll post the survey and results shortly. Sorry for those who don’t get to take it and thank you to those who did!

August 14, 2008

Parenting 2.0

How I see conversations with my kids transpiring in the next 10-15 years.*

Me: Swee’Pea, where are you going tonight?
Swee’Pea: I’m going to see that band ByteMe that I found on MySpace.
Me: Who are you going with?
Swee’Pea: I’m going with the “We Love ByteMe” social group from Facebook.
Me: Okay, but I want you to BrightKite your location to Twitter every hour so I know you’re safe.
Swee’Pea: *Sigh* Okay.
Me: And no blaming the Fail Whale, you understand me? If you can’t Twitter me then you’d better Plurk me, okay?
Swee’Pea: But Dad! Plurking is so not cool.
Me: I don’t care. If I’m not satisfied where you are, young lady, I’ll have you post a camera phone pic to Flickr to prove where you are.
Swee’Pea: Jeez, Dad. You’re a pain sometimes.
Me: Well, I’m sorry but you have to be safe. And be careful who you hang out with. I don’t want to see any inappropriate videos surface on YouTube.
Swee’Pea: Fine. Anything else?
Me: Yeah. If all else fails, you can text me, call my cell or the land line.
Swee’Pea: [On her way out the door] Okay. Okay. Fine. I’m starting to wonder if you giving me my own cell phone was a good idea or not.
Me: [To myself, under my breath] Yeah, and maybe someday I’ll tell you about that GPS chip in your phone.

*Of course, there will be tools and online communities that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. And I will be considered a dinosaur no matter how long I’ve been blogging.

Footnote: Also, this post is tongue-in-cheek. I believe good-old-fashioned parenting vs. relying on technology is definitely the better way. But with the proliferation of technology, it is interesting to note all the extra tools we have at our disposal.

And eventually technology seeps into our lives whether we like it or not. I imagine that before the telephone became widespread parents couldn’t even have their kids “call when they get there.” Many of the ways of keeping track of your child might even seem second-nature in 10 years. We’ll certainly see.

August 11, 2008

Conductor on the train of life

It’s another weekday morning and I have quickly descended the stairs after using my allotted 10 minutes to shower, shave and dress before your mother has to finish getting ready for work.

This morning I find you crouched on the ground around your train set, pushing your trains around the little wooden tracks while your sister plays quietly in the room as well. Your mother cleaned the entire room this weekend and you have more room than usual to play and you both are taking advantage of the extra space. I take a seat on the couch to watch you and your sister play and revel in the peace of the morning.

Soon enough, your mother descends herself, kisses her good-byes, and is off to work. Your sister goes off to watch Curious George but you continue to play with your trains. I decide to sit in the silence of the morning and be a fly on your little wall.

Your shaggy mop-top haircut, that looks so cute on you right now, hangs softly from your forehead as you bend down to escort Thomas the Train and his pals through the various trestles and tunnels. Your eyes are intent and focused. You are in another place, imagining yourself being the conductor of your own train, as you expertly guide the train down the sloping tracks towards the station.

I marvel at the way you play, with not a care in the world other than keeping that train on its tracks, and I am slightly envious at this world you live in. You don’t have worries about your job or paying bills or even what you’re going to make for dinner. You just get to be a little boy.

Suddenly, you realize you are being watched and you look up at me and smile. I smile back as I think of what to say. I want to tell you how much I love you and how much I want for you to live a life free of worry and stress. I want to tell you that I work so hard so that you can be a little boy a whole lot longer than I got to be. I want to tell you that my wish is that you never lose that boyish wonder and carefree spirit that exudes joy and confidence in all you do. And, finally, I want to tell you that your Daddy will be here for you – to guide you through life the way that you are guiding that train, so expertly, around its tracks.

But before I can say anything. Before I can verbalize one parent’s dream that his son feel protected and loved for eternity, you speak. “Do you want to play with me, Daddy?” you ask.

My eyes fill briefly with tears and I smile and blink hard. I nod my head and say, “Yes, little man. I do want to play with you.”

I crawl down to your side and you silently hand me the bucket of trains for me to choose my own train. You wait for me to string a few together and then you show me how to guide the trains around the track with the touch of an expert.

And as you make “choo choo” noises and push your train while watching me push mine, you look up at me with your big, brown eyes and smile brightly. And I suddenly realize that I’ve just learned a lot more from you than how to push a train around the tracks.

August 10, 2008

Video killed the blogging star

I have taken thousands of photos of Swee’Pea and TheMonk.  We have, however, been hit and miss on the video taping of day to day life.  The biggest obstacle has been the fact that our video camera has good old fashioned video tape and I am technologically impaired on how to convert it into digital formats that we can watch with ease.

To remedy the situation, I got a Flip Video Camera last week and I’ve been playing around with it.  Perhaps someday I’ll get good enough to where it doesn’t look like every video is being filmed by a drunk guy in an earthquake and, perhaps, I’ll even be able to edit out the parts where my voice sounds like an extra on The Muppets.

And, perhaps, TheMonk will one day not be so fascinated by the camera that he wants to see the camera rather than do the cute thing that had me video taping him in the first place.

But, even with those obstacles, here’s the first video I took of Swee’Pea and TheMonk.  They had just finished their bath on a Sunday afternoon and their favorite stuffed kitty and monkey had also received a bath courtesy of Mr. Kenmore.

While I might not receive any Director of the Year Oscar’s. Swee’Pea and TheMonk might win over the judges.

Everyone’s Clean from Matthew on Vimeo.

August 8, 2008

Apparently Mary’s tastes have changed

Lately, Swee’Pea has been singing her little heart out. She can sing her ABC’s and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with ease. She has some of the songs on the Pop charts firmly in her song catalog as well. She is still very fond of Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry and lately has been fond of the Katie Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. We play with the lyrics to that song and we all get a good giggle when we sing “I kissed a Monk, and I liked it!” This isn’t the only song we change the lyrics to. TheMonk has always like the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter but when I sing it to him in the morning, I sing “You’re gonna have a good day… Playin’ around…”

I guess this changing the lyrics of our favorite songs has begun to wear off.

Yesterday, as we were getting into the car to go to the park, Swee’Pea began singing her version of a classic…

“Mary had a little man… little man… little man…”

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