Midnight music

After a long day of kids driving me nuts and being confused about what to do next in life, I discovered the secret to happiness last night. Make a bunch of chocolate chip cookies at midnight, eat as many as you can, then play the guitar until 1:30am. There’s something about playing music in the middle of the night that always makes me feel better. I used to do it with the piano when I was in high school. I know it bothered my parents when they were trying to sleep, but they let me do it anyway. I was able to learn some of the hardest parts of my contest pieces because I was more creative at midnight than any other time of the day. Luckily I have a digital piano now so I can use headphones at night. And the guitar is pretty quiet and portable, so that makes it good for late night practicing. I’ve also determined that midnight music is a whole lot more rewarding than midnight shopping.

Midnight shopper

I don’t mind taking my kids to the nice clean grocery store in town, but I really don’t like taking them to Walmart. So I usually do some late night shopping every couple of weeks after everyone is in bed. This evening was clear but cold. Lots of stars out and everything is clean after todays rain. The store was relatively empty, and I enjoyed taking my time throughout the store.  Everyone I met seemed really friendly tonight, which was welcome since I’m feeling a bit lost.

The funny thing about going to the store late at night so often is that I’m beginning to get to know the people that work there.  When it came time to check out, I saw that John didn’t have anyone in his line.  He’s a great checker.  A young guy about my age who is one of the best checkout clerks at that store.  There’s a nice lady who’s usually there too.  Her name is Shirley.  She’s been working the night shifts since Thanksgiving to help make some money since her daughter lost her job last year and had to move in with her.  She doesn’t mind too much, cause she enjoys having her grandson living with them now.  She retired from being a secretary at an engineering firm a few years ago.  She guessed that I was an engineer based on the way that I organized all my items on the checkout conveyor belt.  She says anytime she sees someone doing it the way I do, they’re almost always an engineer.  John’s a very quiet guy though, so I don’t know much about him.  There’s a few other clerks there at that time of night, but I usually go to John or Shirley if their lines aren’t too long.  And the best part about tonight:  John put my bananas in a separate bag and then placed them out of the way until I had loaded my cart with the rest of the bags.  Awesome.  No bruises.  He must have read my post from yesterday.

Bruised fruit

I think one of the best inventions is the self checkout lanes that a lot of stores are using now.  Maybe it’s because I’m shy and I don’t like to talk to the clerks who always ask me how my day is.  Do they really want to know, or do they just want me to say “fine, how’s yours?”  Because after a couple hours of shopping with one and sometimes two kids who are crying, hungry, mad, or all of the above, I’m about ready to tell the clerk exactly what kind of day I’m having.  And there’s usually no waiting in the lines for the self checkout scanners, which is a big plus when you’ve got those two impatient children who can’t understand why we have to stand in line for 5 minutes behind someone using dozens of coupons and then has to fish out their checkbook and write a check, really slowly.  Then they put their wallet away and then act surprised when the clerk asks to see ID and the have to get it back out again.  I know I’m an impatient shopper, but I’m even more impatient when I know my kids are like ticking time bombs that could go off at any moment, so I don’t like to waste time while out shopping.

So that’s why I choose the self checkout lane.  I can scan and bag my own stuff just as fast as the clerk, plus there’s no human interaction needed, which is just fine with me.  I usually do talk back to the scanner computer voice though.  Like when she says “please scan your first item”,  I’ll say “okay, coming right up.”  And when she says “Thank you for shopping with us”, I’ll say “You’re welcome, have a nice day”.  The only problem is that on our most recent shopping trip, my son started talking back to the computer too.   He’s very polite to the voice, which I guess is good practice since he’s shy around the real clerks like I am.  Maybe someday he and I will be able to interact with real people.

Anyway, the whole idea for this post came from the fact that all the bananas I bought on Saturday are bruised because the clerk at the store thought it would be a good idea to put the bananas on the bottom of the bag and then dump the rest of my purchases on top of them.  And then toss the whole bag into the shopping cart!  I also bought some pears.  Which she put in the bottom of another bag and then dumped two 3-pound bags of apples on top of the pears!  Doesn’t she know anything about fruit?  Doesn’t she know how picky my son is?  He won’t eat anything that is less than perfect.  No bruises or dents or funny colors.  I only went to her checkout because there were no other shoppers around and she was standing there saying “Sir, I can take you in this line.”  Next time I’ll just say “No thanks, I’ll go talk to the self-scanner and keep my bananas from getting beat up.”

Bathtime, on location

I’m posting this from the bathroom as I supervise my son taking his bath. I’m finding that my iPod touch screen likes to get foggy, but still works ok. After a day of playing on the farm, there was no way I would let him go to bed without a bath, eventhough he’s really tired from skipping his nap this afternoon. He’s had a few minutes to play with his boats and sharks. Now the fun of convincing him to use soap…

Spring mowing

This morning I mowed the grass for the first time this year.  It actually didn’t take too long to mow since I put new sharp blades on the mower last week  (with the assistance of my little helper boy).  And it was quick because the rest of the family was gone so I didn’t have to stop occasionally to help change a diaper or convince my little helper not to be too helpful with something in the garage, etc.  I kind of enjoy the time alone on the mower because it’s pretty much the only “quiet” time I get these days.  I usually wear earbuds inside my industraial strength earmuffs so that I can listen to music while I mow.  But finding good mowing music is kind of hard.  I don’t want something too slow, but listening to something really lively is kind of hard since I’m traveling about 3 miles perhour, and you can’t listen to fast music while going slow.  And sometimes I don’t like music with lyrics because what if my mood doesn’t match the words they’re singing?  So many requirements, it’s a wonder I can find anything to listen to.  I usually opt for happy imstrumental music for mowing, although last year I listened to a few audiobooks.  Maybe I’ll find a good audiobook instead of music for this summer.  The problem is that I usually don’t want to get off the mower when I’m done cutting, since I want to keep listening.  Here in the springtime, I’ll probably be mowing at least once a week.  I wonder if I can go that long between audiobook sessions?

More parenting quotes

A few of today’s quotes were:

“I am not a napkin.  Please don’t wipe your hands on me after every bite.”


“I don’t think you’ll fit into your little sister’s shirt.  No, I don’t think it will fit daddy either.”

Wordless Wednesday


Guitar practice

I started playing the guitar in 5th grade.  I took some lessons that year and then played off and on until high school.  A few months ago when my son found my old guitar in the back room, I got it out and played it for him.  It reminded me how much I enjoyed playing it that long ago.  So a few days later I bought a new guitar and I’ve been trying to play it a little every day.  I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying it until a few days ago.  On Saturday I dropped it off at the local guitar shop to get new strings and a few adjustments.  When I got home, the room seemed empty without my guitar hanging on the wall.  And I missed being able to just come in and play it whenever I wanted.  It even makes the kids happy whenever I practice.  So after 3 days without it, I got it back this evening.  Now I’m ready to start practicing even though I’m tired and should probably get some sleep instead.

I came across this video a few weeks ago, and it is one of the best acoustic guitar solos I’ve ever heard.  My son loves to watch it, and then he tells me “Daddy needs to grow his beard long like the guy in the video and then play guitar real fast and sound real good just like that.”  I remember being a kid and thinking that my dad could do anything, so I guess my little guy thinks I can play just about anything too.  When I tell him I can’t play that fast, he says “That’s okay, Daddy’s needs to practice a little bit first.”  Smart boy.

Spit up

Spit up is an intriguing substance.  I was never around a baby until I had my son three years ago.  He had a reflux problem for many months, so I quickly became skilled at seeing those subtle signs that occur a few fractions of a second before the regurgitated breastmilk starts to fly.  And it’s pretty easy to catch it if you’re prepared, as long as you’re in a well lit room.  The funny thing about spit up is that it’s at normal body temperature.  Which means, for example, if your son decides to shower you with it at midnight while you’re holding him in a recliner in a dark room, you don’t notice the extent of the damage until it starts to cool.  It’s then that you realize you are now covered from shoulder to knee with approximately 4 ounces of partially curdled milk.

And now it’s my daughter’s turn to help me refresh my spit up catching reflexes.  Usually I’m pretty good.  But yesterday she was sitting on the floor playing with some toys and I was lying on the floor with my head in her lap, looking up at her.  She often likes to grab my hair or face when I’m in that position.  So there I was with my head kind of sideways and a little upside down when I heard that unmistakable sound of an eminent spit up eruption.  But before I had a chance to move, it hit me.  A direct shot right into my nose.  And because of the angle of my head, it proceeded to run further up my nose.  All I could do was laugh at the absurdity of having my daughter spit up into my nose, something that most people will hopefully never have to experience.  And of course, my daughter just looked at me and smiled and laughed, which made it all okay.

WordPress App

As I stated in a post last week, I like gadgets. So it should be no surprise that I’m loving my new ipod Touch. It’s like an iphone, just without the phone capability. I suppose I don’t really need it, but it sure is cool, and it’s already come in handy a few times when I needed to chat with my wife while she’s napping our daughter in front of the computer. One of the neat applications that I’m enjoying right now is called Pandora, which streams CD quality music from the internet. You just have to select an artist or genre and it will give you a random assortment of songs and artists that are similar to your selection. I’d gotten kind of bored with my old collection of MP3s and was looking for new music, so this is a great way to discover new artists.

Another useful app that I’ve installed but not used yet is the WordPress app. It lets you view and edit posts for your WordPress blog, which is much easier than using the Safari browser to update your blog. It might take awhile to type out a big post, but it’s handy for editing previous posts, and for reading and approving reader comments. So if any of my readers are WordPress bloggers and have an ipod Touch or iphone, I recommend it. Maybe I’ll even blog from the backyard tomorrow.

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