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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leo’s been here 16 months

Look at all that hair! It’s really thick and long in the back. I think he’s working on a mullet.

Okay, let’s get down to business:

This kid can TALK. I’m losing track of all the new words. He’s now starting to say some of the words he signs: For instance, milk is now “mimi” and he just started saying some form of “all done.” For "help," he pats both hands on his chest as the sign but also says “hep.” He uses it when he can’t open something or can’t turn on his guitar.

What’s more amazing than the words he says is what he understands. Like the other day I was on the computer and he wanted to come mess with everything on my desk. In an effort to distract him with something else I said, “Where is your dump truck?” And he went over to his play area and pointed at his dump truck. Then I said, “Why don’t you put your blocks in your dump truck?” And he did! Frank is certain that soon he will be able to understand, “Get daddy a beer.” He already pulls beers out of the fridge and says “dada.”

He still has "stranger preference" and people always comment that he is so friendly. Sometimes at play groups he goes up to the other moms so much that I fear they think I don’t pay enough attention to him.

Totally has this down! So long scoot. Well, the scoot resurfaces every now and then.

He’s prone to toddler meltdowns—especially in the morning. I don’t think he’s a morning person. Everything upsets him in the morning and if I dare try to clean a dish or do something that doesn’t involve him, he goes crazy. I mean screaming, thrashing, crying, foaming…until I pick him up and comfort him. I feel like I’m constantly talking him off the ledge. (And then I’ll take him somewhere later that morning and people will say, “He’s so calm.” If they only knew.)

He’s not in music class right now but we still listen to the music class CD all the time. He loves to sing, “Bah bah bah” and his Leo CD is basically on a constant loop in the car. I’m totally numb to it now. I’ve heard it at least once a day since Christmas.

He’s still obsessed with balls. And he calls everything a ball—fruit, acorns, anything round. You’d be surprised how many ball-shaped statues there are outside of retail establishments. Leo always finds them. He also loves his red and yellow Flinstone-ish car. So you would assume that when he saw the inflatable red and yellow car filled with balls at John’s house, he would be stoked. I said, “Leo, look! It’s a car full of balls!” But he was freaked out by it. He wouldn’t go in it. He said, “No, no, no, no” and clung to me. I think it was too closed-in for him. I’ve noticed a pattern of him being afraid of enclosed spaces. He doesn’t like the tunnel slides at the playground either. I think I’ve got a little claustrophobic on my hands.

Sometimes when Leo’s food is hot, I blow on it. He loves this and now he blows on his food no matter the temperature. He always says, “hot” and then exhales onto whatever he’s eating. It’s pretty cute.

Next week he starts Mother’s Morning Out. It’s once a week for two and half hours. I’ve left him at the YMCA play center and the church nursery but this will be the first time I leave him somewhere where I won’t be on site. I don’t think he’ll have any problems…as long as they have balls.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I wish I liked: Golf

As promised, I will now explain why I don’t like golf but wish I did.

First, why I wish I liked it: Fancy people play golf. Golfers are clean, sophisticated and wealthy. They get to be outdoors all day. They drive those cute little carts. They have special outfits. Plus, the whole living-on-a-golf course lifestyle always seems nice. The grass looks pristine. There’s always a clubhouse that has great food and drinks and I imagine that the golfers drive their little carts up to it to relax after a fun day of golfing. They say things like, “Max, put this on my tab.”

I’d like to wear a special outfit, spend all day outside and have a tab.

But the game itself seems really boring. And hard. I didn’t know things could be boring and hard at the same time. Just golf. And it’s really the only sport I can think of where you wouldn’t lose weight. I mean, you’re driving those carts around, eating at the clubhouse. I think you might actually gain weight. So I don’t see why I want to spend all day—and it does take ALL day—sweating in the sun just to end up five pounds heavier. And speaking of heavy, how about those clubs? I can see why they need the carts. But at home, where am I supposed to put those things?

If you play golf, you have to watch golf too. Now, I don’t personally mind the TV turned to golf as sort of background noise (for all the reasons I listed in the first paragraph) but I certainly don’t see how I could sit there captivated, watching them putt or whatever it is they do. It’s just too slow-paced.

Golf. I just don’t like it.

Although I do look good in plaid.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I love you, man

At six months of age, Leo and his best friend John loved nothing more than just sitting around, hanging out, shootin' the breeze.

Some things never change:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Into it

A few years ago the ad agency I was working for sent me on an assignment to attend the Hill Country Wine Festival to figure out if winery owners needed our services. It was a pretty cool gig; I got to go to the outdoor festival for free (Frank too) and sample all sorts of wine. And before that I went to the Four Seasons hotel to listen to panels of wine experts talk about wine. When I walked into the Four Seasons I looked around at all the wine enthusiasts. Many had on t-shirts with wine-inspired slogans like, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me,” (a quote by Thomas Jefferson) and “You had me at Merlot.”

I thought, “What would it be like to be so into wine that you actually buy t-shirts and attend a convention?” I thought maybe it was a life I could handle. I dove deeper into the wine-obsessed psyche when I attended one of the panels. The people were asking all sorts of questions about grapes and fermenting...I had no idea what they were talking about. And the way they stuck their noses way down into the wine glasses…odd. These people were REALLY into wine. I left that wine convention thinking, wino = weirdo,

Then there are people who are really into Nascar. They spend much of the year driving around from race to race, camping out at race tracks and for what? To watch cars go round and round…round and round. And don’t even get me started on their t-shirts, jackets, hats and tattoos. I just don't get it.

I guess it's because I'm not that into anything. I mean, I like spinning. I’ve even gone to some training weekends that may be considered convention-esque. But I don’t think about it all the time…not even most of the time. I like cooking but to be really into it I’d have to take cooking classes and definitely get a Kitchen Aid mixer.

So since I’m not an “into it” kind of person I’m fascinated by the things that people choose to be into. Like they’re so into it they can steer any conversation towards that subject: karate, golf, Wide Spread Panic.

The other day I saw a “Pimp my Ride” where the guy was really into paintball. Did you know there were people who were really into paintball? He goes to tournaments and he actually had paintball enemies who had paintballed his car—thus the need to have his ride pimped.

I used to write this column called “My Favorite Workout” and every week I’d interview people who were really into their workout. The people who were into hooping were the most into their sport. Again, I ask: did you know there were people who were really into hooping? Not just “Hey, it’s kinda cool to hula hoop…” No, I mean seriously into hooping. Like going to festivals, conventions and hooping for hours a day.

If I’m starting to inspire you to get into something, you need to consider the following facts:

Being into something costs a lot of money
Being into something takes a lot of time

So if you don’t have time or money I think it’s better to just piddle around in different things. Anyone feel like playing some paintball and then going for a glass of wine? See? Moderation is so much more manageable. And you don’t have to attend any conventions.


Apparently, at some point in their young lives, toddlers go to a convention where they are told to point at all infants and yell, "BABY!" I first learned this when I would take Leo out in public. Every child between the ages of 16 months and 3 years would do this. Don't get me wrong; it's totally sweet and adorable. I just think it's so amazing that they all automatically do it and say it in the exact same way. Sometimes their moms can't get them to stop: "BABY! BABY! BABY!"

Mom: "Yes, that IS a baby. Now let's go."

Toddler: "BABY! BABY! BABY!"

Mom: "Who cares about the freakin' baby? We gotta go!"

Toddler: (screaming, stomping, thrashing...)

The other odd thing about it is how young kids will do this. Most of the ones that say it are babies themselves. Like this little girl Leo and I see all over town--at Michael's, at the park, at storytime. The first time we met her she said to Leo, "BABY!" He was 14 months old. She was 17 months old. She says it like this: "Bay-BEE," which makes her sound French. Oh, and one day at the park a baby who was born one day before Leo said, "BABY!" to him.

And now guess who's saying it. Yes, at 15 and 3/4s, Leo now says, "BABY!" And he says it the French way too--"Bay-BEE" with the accent on the "BEE." He always says it when I get out his Yo Baby yogurt because there's a baby on the container. Yesterday, at the zoo, he said it to a kid who had to be pushing two. He had a bowl haircut and there was Leo with his barely-there-hair saying, "Bay-BEE!" We pretended like we didn't notice.

I don't have any videos of him doing this but I do have some cute pictures from the zoo:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kissing Bandit

Leo loves to give kisses; sometimes he doesn't stop! Here he is kissing mommy:

Going in for a kiss to Reagan:

Planting a wet one on Elise:

And doing a little hugging too:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Writinggal Takes on Healthcare

In the ongoing healthcare debate a frequent complaint is, “It’s so expensive!” But to me, the real problem isn’t the cost; it’s the fact that I never know the cost. You walk into a doctor’s office and you have no idea if that visit is going to cost you $20 or $2,000. What if other industries were run by insurance?

Customer: “I’m trying to decide between the grilled chicken salad and the blackened salmon. They both sound good. How much does each cost?”

Waiter: “The blackened salmon is probably more but that all depends on the negotiated rates with your insurance company.”

“Oh, so can I see a menu with those rates?”

“No, we don’t have that.”

“Why not?”

“You just order, eat your food and then we’ll bill your insurance company.”

“And if they don’t pay for it all, then I’ll get a bill?”

“That’s right.”

“And how much will that be?”

“I have no idea. You’ll have to wait and see when your bill comes. I’m just the waiter.”

The Gap:

Customer: “I’d like to buy these jeans. How much do they cost?”

Store clerk: “Have you met your deductible?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve definitely bought a lot of clothes this year.”

“You have to spend at least $500 and then your insurance will cover 80% of your clothes.”

“Well let’s see. I bought some clothes here a few months ago and then I bought some jeans for my husband last week.”

“Your husband’s jeans don’t count. He has to spend $500 too.”

“What about clothes for my baby? I’ve definitely bought a lot of clothes for him.”

“No, your baby has to spend $500 as well.”

“So if I haven’t met my deductible, how much are these jeans?”

“That all depends.”

“Um, I’m not sure I want these jeans anymore. It’s just too complicated.”

“Well, you’ll have to pay for trying them on and for my services counseling you on the subject.”

Grocery store:

Customer: “So how much are all these groceries?”

Cashier: “Well, your insurance company will bill you but it looks like right now you have a co-pay for $50.”

“But I thought my co-pay was only $20!”

“Yes, but these groceries were out of network.”

“Out of network? But I bought them all right here in your store!”

“These zucchinis here, they’re from Florida. That’s out of network. And this bread? It’s made in California. That’s way-outta-network. Your insurance company ain’t gonna cover that at all.”

“So my insurance company is going to send me a bill on top of the co-pay I’m already paying?”

“That’s right! And you can bet there’s gonna be an extra charge for me. I usually work at the store down the street so I’m outta network too!” (Laughs maniacally)

Isn’t it all ridiculously confusing? I mean, I’m college educated; I should be able to understand my health insurance. But there’s nothing to understand because there’s no rhyme or reason to any of the prices or what they’ll cover. So what's the best solution? I don't know but I hope it involves a menu.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Proof is in the Pictures

It's official. Leo is not a baby anymore. He's a kid. And it's not just because he can walk. And it's not just because he has hair. It's because of all the reasons you see here:

He enjoys frolicking at the spray ground with other kids:

He threatens to beat up kids who try to intrude on his water spray (even if that kid is bigger than him and wearing a wife-beater).

He shares clothes with daddy:

John and Dawson, the two other babies born within weeks of Leo? They're kids too!

He fights with John over who gets to sit shot gun.

He flirts with older women (like Dawson's big sis, Reagan).

He rocks out to Granny Jo's guitar playing.

He eats with a spoon...sometimes two!

But most of all, he already dances like an old white man.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Remember that whole Y2K silliness? We were so focused on everything exploding (or whatever it was we were worried about) that we didn’t think much about what we were going to call the year 2000 (which is what we ended up calling it as you’ll recall--2000. I like that better than 00 as in Oh Oh or Zero Zero, dont' you?)

But here we are, coming up on ten years later and it’s time to think about two important things, semantics-wise:

1. What do we call this decade from 2000-2010?
The early 21st century?
The turn of the century?
The Ohs?
The zeros?

What did they call 1900-1910? I’ll Google it.

Answer: The Oughts.

That’s so weird. We totally cannot call 2000-2010 “the oughts.” But we really need to figure this out before 2011 so keep thinking.

2. What are we going to call the year 2010?

Two-thousand and ten?

I mean, right now we call all the years preceding it “Oh One,” “Oh Two,” “Oh Three” and so on so really, “Ten” makes the most sense.

But then again, the year 2012 comes a lot because of reasons both Olympic and political and people always say “Twenty-twelve.” So if you go with that then next year will be “Twenty Ten.”

“Back in the summer of twenty-ten.” That just doesn’t work for a rock song.

Our year name is almost as crappy as our decade name!

“Who were the Jonas Brothers?”
“You know, they were a band that was popular in the oughts.”

Yep, this is a way bigger disaster than Y2K.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Growing up at the beach

Leo wore 70+ sunblock while on vacation in Virginia Beach last week so he didn't get burnt. But he did seem to age. He became a full-fledged walker and he grew hair!