January 31, 2005

Birthday Roundup

Things turned out wonderfully on my birthday, thanks to my lovely and very caring wife. First we had dinner with some friends at my favorite place for pizza (The Original Cottage Inn), and after that Ben, Kyle, JP, and I went to the Improv Inferno.

The Inferno is new to downtown Ann Arbor, and it was funny, not stupendously so, but still a good time. As it was my birthday I was called up on stange to be a part of the fun, and they improved a date between me (played by one of them) and one of them at Wal-Mart. Chuckles were heard due to my announcing of our band name (The Naughty Frogs) and because of the words on my birthday tee-shirt, "Men who change diapers change the world."

After the improv place we didn't really have any plans, so we ended up at Digital Ops, which is a geek-haven. They have a bunch of computers in a small dark room, and they're all networked together so you can play games with your friends. We played a bit of Warhammer 40K (which was too complicated for a 'drop-in' type game, at least for me), and then we switched over to a first-person shooter, Counter-Strike. We had a good time hunting each other down on this game.

After that, it was time for departure. I was quite tired, as I usually go to bed at 9:30 or so and it was now 11:15, so I was happy to get home and to bed. It really was a great time, and it'll now be the yardstick by which I measure my future birthday adventures.

Not Sleeping

Why, why, why are you not sleeping Jeremiah? Why won't your brain shut down like it used to?

Is it really that important to have a mental discussion about how different you are from your parents? Does Diplomacy (and the end of the current game) warrant staying awake at 5am? And yes, you have an appointment at 8:30 this morning, but there's no need to keep repeating it.

Blah.

In Case of Emergency, Sling

My wife and I are 'attachment parenting' our daughter, and many people haven't a clue what this is about. I was up reading, so I thought I might share with you a bit of what I was reading, and that might help you to get a sense of what style of parenting Keleigh and I are working with.

This Attachment Parenting is actually a blog of a pair of attachment parenters, who have a great set of links on their page.


No, this is not the 'post of the day', just something I thought I'd share.

January 28, 2005

They Say It's Your Birthday

Twenty seven years ago today, I was born.

I'm not feeling very wordy.

My baby is sleeping, my dryer is running, my stomach is rumbling, my cupcakes (yum!) are sitting on the counter.

My eBay things are selling, my hair is getting too long, my fingers are getting guitar calluses, and my life is pretty great.

I like to eat chocolate malts, my friend JP studies techtonic faults, the college greek system is made up of cults, and this is where our story halts.

January 27, 2005

Time to Move On

The University has finally caught up to me, and they're shutting down my account as of Feb. 7th. I've already signed up with someone to host the site, and I'll be switching over as soon as I can. There might be a 'blip' while making the switch, but I'll try to make it as painless as possible.

To make it as seamless as it can be for you, make sure that your bookmarks point to 'www.openappledumb.com', and not the umich.edu address.

Happy day.


January 26, 2005

Cold #2 (and a Roundup of the News)

Just a few days after Marion was fully over Cold #1, the forces of nature decided that it was time for another cold, and Marion's nose began to flow again. She went seven months without being ill at all, and now she's had two colds in just over two weeks. This one doesn't seem as bad though, just a cough and the runny nose. She did have a slight fever a couple days ago, but that seems to have gone away.

It appears that Keleigh was lucky enough to get this one too, so two thirds of the family is feeling a bit under the weather. I've been fortunate enough to escape, once again a virus proves insignificant when facing my body's stellar defenses.

The Naughty Frogs practiced last night, which kept me up late, but Marion chose to sleep an extra hour, so I made up a bit of the time. That was very nice of her, and I appreciate it. The Frogs had serious talks of getting a drummer, a real drummer. We thought we might be able to get by with programmed (computer) drums, but they aren't really working out very well, and none of us can drum. We've tabled the discussion, not wanting to make a decision without putting some more thought into it.

Adding a drummer would be a big thing for us, as it would mean bringing someone in from the outside, who might want to actually be in a 'good' band. Hopefully we'll be able to find someone that's just looking to have fun and play some drums. That is, if we decide to find a drummer.

My water bill was almost three times as much as it normally is this past quarter, and I don't know why. We've been taking more baths instead of showers (about 35 gallons vs. 25 for a shower, as per About.com), so that accounts for some of the rise, but I don't think that would double our consumption. I gotta look for leaks.

January 24, 2005

Two Men, Two Feet of Snow, and Two Shovels

Try as they might, scientists have yet to discover a drug that can take boyhood out of men, and turn them into fully formed adults. This is a good thing.

When snow falls, and you can't really go anywhere because the streets are nasty, you go out into your backyard and make a giant pile of snow. At least that's what you do if you're Ben and I.



After you've done that for about an hour, you eat pizza. After completing pizza duties, you come back and you hollow out the inside of the giant pile of snow. This is done with whatever tools you happen to have. We had two shovels, a hoe, and some strange claw-type thing, which turned out to be the primary tool.

Once you've done this for a while, you can get into the pile of snow.



That's when you start feeling really cool, in the I'm-so-hip-cuz-I-made-this kind of way. It's actually quite warm inside a snow hut, because snow is a wonderful insulator, and because you generate quite a bit of heat while digging out a giant pile of snow.

Yeah, so now you have this awesome snow hut, so what can you do with it? Well...not really that much. If you're adventurous (and you don't have to take care of a baby that wakes up at night) you can sleep in it overnight, which is quite nice, you can destroy it, which is just silly, or you can stare at it, and be amazed by your glorious creation.



This is what Ben and I have done so far, just gazed at the glory of the thing that we've made, and it is indeed glorious. There's talk of getting JP to help put on another room, with a snow tunnel to connect the rooms. JP likes this sort of thing, JP once dug a big hole just to see how much sand was in his back yard (and there was a lot).

There's a lot to be said of the sense of accomplishment that one can feel after building a snow hut, you should give it a try.

January 22, 2005

"Help Me"

Sleeping, dreaming of a disaster scene in San Francisco, where I'm getting into my family's 1986 Chevy Blazer in order to get out of the path of the airplane that's about to smash into the street. There's a note on the driver's seat, but I don't get a chance to read it, because I'm distracted by other noises, muffled human noises, maybe coming from the back (or the 'back-back' as we called it in our family).

I turn to check out the back-back, but the scene vanishes before I get a chance, and I'm lying in bed, and I realize that the noises are coming from Keleigh. Before I really get a chance to wake up enough to decide what to do, I hear her say, "help me" in the way that you hear unhappy ghosts speak in horror movies.

Now, at an early hour my brain just wasn't ready for this, and it rather freaked me out. I quickly rolled to put my arms around Keleigh, and she woke up in moments.

Apparently Keleigh has gained the ability to communicate the wishes of her subconcious into the non-dream world when she wants to. She told me that she knew she was dreaming, and she knew that things were getting creepy in her dream, so she decided to wake me up in order to wake her up.

Now, how was she able to wake me up without waking herself up, I do not know. I do know that it was freaky, and I hope she doesn't use her call-from-beyond powers too often, as I'm just not sure that my sleepy brain can handle it.

January 20, 2005

A New Record

Marion fell asleep in the car seat on the way back from lunch today, and she doesn't normally even like the car seat. She typically tolerates it for about 10 minutes, and then is quite unhappy. Well, today, my good friend, Marion fell asleep on the 10 minute drive from lunch. Then, when I got her back home, I got her out of her snow-suit, and into bed, all without waking her up!

Wow. I am astounded.

Busy Day

Thursdays are my busy days, and I expect this one to be no different. Today is Mothering Arts, where I get together with a bunch of full-time moms in order to talk about babies and such. Marion loves to sit and stare at the other babies, never really sure what to do with them. I expect that as she gets older (and starts to crawl, very soon), and is exposed to these other babies more (socialization!), she'll be more extroverted.

The Naughty Frogs practiced on Tuesday, and all went quite well. Ben brought the drum set from Laingsburg, so we each took a turn drumming, which was quite pitiful. It really makes the basement look like a band's rehersal space though, which is nice. I suppose it would look more like a 'real' band space if we actually had a drummer, but that's beside the point.

Ben and I also worked on our new song, which is turning out to sound quite nice. We (he) wrote a melody line for the lyrics, and I'm going to work on writing some lyrics this week. Surely they will turn out to be about Marion.


January 18, 2005

Visit from the Dad

When your dad drives a semi-truck, and he's only home on the weekends, you don't expect that he has much time to stop by, so you don't expect to see him much. It's nice though, when it does happen.

Dad called today at 10:15am (Marion and I were napping), and asked if he might be able to stop by in about 1/2 hour. Keleigh (who works from home in the first half of the day) said that it should be okay, and that she hoped we'd be awake by the time that he arrived. I woke up at about 10:20, and Marion slept until 11:05, a while after he'd arrived, but she needed a good nap.

We talked about being a full-time dad, about our families, and about Dad's work schedule, and we had a good time. Marion seemed cautious, but after a while she was playing and having a good time with her grandpa. It was nice to see him lying on the ground with her, playing with her Whoozit.

He also brought over Christmas presents for all of us, including this cute hat for Marion:



I got a big box of golf balls for my birthday ('blemished' balls, so you don't feel bad about hitting them into the water), and Marion was enthralled with them. Golf balls are too big to fit into her mouth right now, so we don't have to worry about that, and she really seems to like them. She'll likely get more use out of them than I will, at least for a while. I didn't golf at all last season, and while I do like to golf, it's pretty expensive.

Marion is napping as I write this, this is her second good nap of the day. I'm really feeling better about her sleeping recently (even if I sometimes think she'll never go to sleep). I feel like she's getting to the point where she doesn't need to be nursing or having a bottle as she falls asleep, and that's a big help. She's also sleeping in longer stretches during her naps (she's at 75 minutes right now). Now, this isn't to say that there aren't still very difficult times, such as yesterday at 3:30 when she wanted to sleep, but only if firmly pressed against my chest. There are tough times, but I have to keep the positive steps in my mind, and keep moving on.

Just like with my relationship with my family. I have to remember that we're making positive steps, moving towards reconnecting. There are going to be difficult moments, but we're headed in the right direction.

January 17, 2005

Waking up Stupid

May I present to you the evidence that leaves no question as to whether or not I should be awake at night:

After leaving the room to get something for Keleigh, I returned and handed her the toothpaste. When she had the audacity to ask me what the toothpaste was for, I was appalled by her demanding attitude. When she went a step further and asked if I'd managed to acquire what I'd left the room to get, I was insulted, for no good reason.

You can't just expect a man to wake up and know what's going on, because if you do, he's very likely to return to you with a stupid look on his tired face, and a tube of Colgate Tartar Control in his hand.

January 15, 2005

Web Hosting

I seriously have to get some non-university web hosting for OpenAppleDumb. If I don't switch over before the university realizes that I'm no longer working there, I fear that all will be lost, and I'm not a big fan of that. There might be a window of opportunity to clean up my server space, but I'm not sure, and I'm not willing to take that risk.

So I need to get working. The greatest difficulty is the sheer number of choices available. If you do a Google search for 'web hosting', it brings up over 21 million links, while 'free web hosting' offers over 16 million (I'm not interested in free web hosting, as that likely has additional clauses that are worse than paying $3-7 a month.

If you have any suggestions for webhosting, please let me know, as I really don't feel as if I can do enough research to get a good feeling of whether one web host is better than another. I'd like to make some kind of educated decision, so I'm looking for referrals.

In other news, Marion and I are making cinnamon rolls this morning, yummy!

January 14, 2005

Waffles

When your baby has a rough day, you have a rough day, and when you have a rough day, very little gets done, because baby is the number one priority. This happened on Tuesday. Marion and I were out driving home after an appointment, and Marion got hungry and tired. When babies get hungry and tired, bad things happen, such as babies getting very upset.

As I'm not one someone that enjoys hearing my baby wail, I set about fixing this. I had milk in the car, but it was cold, so I tried to warm it up with the car's heater. After a while I was able to warm the milk just enough to make it acceptable, and Marion was calmed. She ate, and she fell asleep, but something, some who-knows-what, woke her up, and she was not happy about it. We got home after much crying, and I got her fed and back to sleep.

So, by the time Keleigh came home from work, there was no dinner for us. Now, Keleigh doesn't expect that I will have dinner ready, but I do like to make something, as by the time she gets home we're both quite hungry. So, with no dinner prepared, I looked for something quick, and came up with waffles. This is where the fun started.

You see, in the pantry I also found some semi-sweet baker's chocolate, and decided that I would make chocolate waffles. When ice cream was added (vanilla), followed by Sanders chocolate syrup, we had ourselves a lovely (if not entirely surgar-free) dinner.



I say to you now, Marion must never know that this happened, or all shall be lost, and the dentist will be a rich man.

January 12, 2005

The Frogs Ride Again

While we didn't record anything for your listening (dis)pleasure, and there were no photographs taken, the Naughty Frogs had a practice last night. Much was accomplished, including finding my capo (a tool for raising the key of the guitar), and rummaging through my old lyrics notebook.

I used to write many songs, and while they weren't the most spectacular songs you've ever heard, they did get written. I was surprised to see that in one week in November of 1997 (a bad time for me, actually, I was pretty depressed), I wrote five songs. They weren't all doom-and-gloom either. I haven't written five songs in the past five or six years now. I became too self concious, and that just destroyed any desire to write lyrics. I need to get over that.

I did recently write a very nice chord progression, and Ben has set out to write a keyboard part for what could be the second new Naughty Frogs song since the late 90's. The other new song was 'Public Eye', written exclusively for us to record when Ben had access to the UofM recording studio, but we never actually got around to recording a full version.

And, when we played 'just something' to go along with the chords that I put together, it sounded good. It sounded, actually, quite lovely. 'Quite lovely' is not a phrase that I would have ever have used to describ any of our previous songs, so it was a surprise.

All this, and we'd already decided that we would learn a bunch of cover songs first.

January 10, 2005

eBay Loves Me (and I Love eBay)

Let's say, by chance, that I purchased this item on eBay for $6.54 plus $4.00 in shipping (which I did). And then, just as an example, let's say that I sold it on eBay two weeks later (which I did) for $40.75. Would that be considered ultra-cool in your book?

After fees from eBay and PayPal, along with shipping, I'm making a profit of $28.00, and on an investment of $10.54, I'd say that's a pretty good deal for me. I hope I can get 288% on more of the things that I sell. Being the numbers guy that I am, this works out to $2.00 in profit for each day that I owned this item.

So, it appears that I can make a profit buying and reselling things on eBay, and this really excites me. It's a 'job' that takes very little time, can be done from home, doesn't have a set schedule, and can provide the extra income that will make being a full-time father a bit easier on the budget. I actually made over $17 per hour of time spent working on eBay this past week, which is a pretty darn good deal.

If anyone wants to know how I'm making this happen (in more detail), feel free to ask, I'm happy to share the info with friends. It's not difficult, and since eBay is so gigantic, it's not like we'll be competing against each other for profits.

Back to the bidding, and more importantly, back to the reselling!

January 07, 2005

First Illness

We're over seven months into Marion's life, and today she officially has her first illness. One of the other babies that we know recently had a cold, and he passed it on to Maya (a very extroverted 8 month old), who then passed it on to Marion. So, she's upset, and we're upset, and everyone is tired.

Poor girl, she doesn't have any idea what's going on, she just knows that she feels funny, and her nose is all runny. We can only try to soothe her really, as there isn't much else that can be done for a cold, so it's hard on us too. We've never had to deal with our baby feeling bad for more than just a few moments, so this will be a difficult adventure.

I'll try to post some sad-baby pictures when I get a chance, but right now I'm gonna see what I can do for her.

(edit - I wrote this post yesterday, and forgot to stinking put it online!)

January 05, 2005

Moving Toward Normal

The whole at-home dad thing is still quite new to me, with this past Monday marking my first full month caring for Marion. Wow, it's been a month already? Being home with her is such a joy, it's making time move along quicker. The point, though, is that it's still new, and the newness can cover up some of the parts of this lifestyle which make it harder to handle. Because of my wonderful Christmas gift, The Stay-at-Home Dad's Handbook, I've been notified in advance of some of the difficulties.

The book suggests that the greatest challenge that most dad's face is a feeling of isolation. I've certainly had a bit of that, but it's been buffered by the recent holidays. I think that being aware that this can be a problem will help me to avoid feeling overly isolated, because I'll keep trying to stay connected.

The ways that I'm going to stay in contact with the outside world include, but are not limited to;

Naughty Frogs Practice: Getting three busy 20-something guys together once a week to make music is a tricky task. Lately we've been canceling our practices, due to various things, and that's been sad. There's nothing quite the same as playing guitar with Ben and JP, and I hope that all three of us can keep a day open for frogging it up.

Mothering Arts: While I'm not a mother, the women (and the occasional other father) that attend these Thursday sessions have accepted me as one of their own. They really are wonderfully nice people, and I'm so glad that Keleigh and I were connected to this group, through our midwives. Most of the ladies that I talk to are first time moms, and they're in just about the same situation that Keleigh, Marion, and I are, so their a great resource.

OpenAppleDumb: It's mainly a one-way enterprise, where I write, and you read, but it's very much a part of my connection to the world. I really enjoy getting comments (email or posted) about my posts, and I'm so pleased to have you reading, and supporting me in this way, on my quest of daddy-hood. I feel like I've recently been in a bit of a rut, and I need to post something completely wacky in order to get out of it, so be warned. It's also been a great source of a bit of extra income, thank you so much for clicking on the Google ads over to the left.

I'm also hoping to get on the phone more often, although I'll have to call people that share my non-nine-to-five lifestyle, as I don't want to bother people at work too often. There are family members that need talking to, even if they don't want to talk to me, there are people from WGTE (the radio station that I worked at about two years ago) that I'd like to keep in touch with, and there are friends spread to the wind. They all need some phone-time, during nap-time, of course.

January 03, 2005

Finance Matters

I have this giant spreadsheet where I keep track of our family's monetary resources. I put the spreadsheet together in September of 2003, and I've been recording every expenditure (well, almost every one, I miss some) on it since then. It's a big help for planning, to be able to look at our finances in such detail, and it's a lot of statistics that I just love to sort in different ways.

It also gives me a chance to check in every now and then to see if there's a way that I can reduce our spending, and therefore increase our savings. It's even more important that we save more now that I'm out of the money factory. The eBay money is starting to come in, and I did quite well with the Google ads (Thanks to you! If you'd like more detail, feel free to email me jeremiah at openappledumb.com), so we have some income from my schemes, but nothing like it was before.

The next big decrease in spending is (hopefully) going to be a drop in our mortgage payment. There are a couple of ways that our mortgage payment could go down; we could refinance our home, we could drop the mortgage insurance and escrow account, or we could run from the law and not pay it...of course, the last one would lead to very bad things, so we're not planning on that.

We're not really interested in refinancing right now, because we got a great interest rate when we bought the house, and we can't do any better. We're hoping to get the mortgage insurance and escrow account removed, but in order for that to happen we need to have 20% equity. Right now we're at about 12%, so we'd need to have our house appraise at about $15,000 more than what we paid for it. It's close to that right now, but we're gonna hold off for a bitjust to be sure.

That'll give us an extra $250 or so a month, and that's a pretty big chunk of change, nothing to laugh at.

In other news, I realized today that my brain had the same 'mugshot' picture in my head for both Desmond Howard (the former University of Michigan football player), and MC Hammer. Weird.

January 01, 2005

Welcome to the New World

I didn't cross the Atlantic without knowing what was on the other side, but the passage from 'normal man' into parenthood, into full adulthood, deserves a rhyme just as much as Captain Chris' "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

In 2004, Marion was all I could ask for.


Marion's birth brought me into a new world, and it's a world that I'm very fond of. She's out of the year of her birth now, which seems quite unreal, but it's just another step on the path of her life, and my own life.

With the start of a new year, we're drawn to making resolutions. More family family time is the #1 resolution (according to recent polls), followed by exercising more, and losing weight. I'm ahead of the curve on these, because I get more family time as a full-time father, and I've actually lost weight since I left my job. There are plenty of wonder pills that will help you burn fat while you sleep (or read, or dance, or poop, or whatever you wish to do), but I have a better way. If you want to lose weight, amuse a child for hours on end, you'll find that you shed those extra pounds in no time. I lost seven pounds in three weeks, while at the same time I'm adding to my ever-so-masculine arms by lifting and carrying my daughter.

This new world is full of good things, and I'm glad that you're here with me, to check them out.