Things Emmy Says, Part 3

I like catalogging the weird, crazy, and funny things that Emmy says. I can't even remember things that she said the next day, so having a place to write them all down is nice. Hopefully they aren't groan inducing to everyone else, but I never said my One A Day blogs were for anyone else. There are a bunch at the bottom that my wife had been collecting for awhile.

She was watching the Saturday morning cartoons and playing with Play-Doh when I went downstairs to check on the laundry. When I came back up an infomercial was on, so I started to put in a kid's DVD. As I was opening the case the woman on the infomercial said, "Oh! Look at that grilled sandwich!" and Emmy responded, "Oh! That's a grilled sandwich!" Apparently infomercials work well on three year-olds.

Emmy and I were in bed watching Conan. Comedian Nick Thune came on and said, "C-Sections are like Digiorno. They aren't delivery." Emmy followed along with the audience and me and started laughing hysterically, then said, "He's weird!"

I think it's even more appropriate that she found that funny as she was delivered via C-Section.

About 2 ¼ She was up at 3:00 am after a late nap trying to convince me that she needed to go downstairs. When I asked her why she said “I need to make a phone call, I need to call Aunt Pcam”

July 18, 2010- Emmy while holding the remote “Do you want the TV off everyone?” Me: “No” Emmy: “Yes?” Me: “No” Emmy: “You don’t?” Me: “No, we don’t” Emmy: “Whatever People”

Around 2 ½ “We are all people, we are all different people”

Around 2 ½ She calls Chicken Tenders, Chicken Nummers.

Around 2 ½ She started calling the dining room the “diamond room” and the living room the “lemon room”

09-03-2010- Alex- "Daddy's birthday is next week. Do you know how old I'll be?" Emmy: "13?" Alex- "No. 25." Emmy: "I don't know what 25 is.”

August 2010- She was doing something she wasn’t supposed to be so I said “Emmy, pause” she just looked at me and said “I don’t have paws”

October 2010- Nemi asked Emmy if Nemi was funny. Emmy: No Nemi must have looked sad because then Emmy said she was Awesome!

One of Those Days (or Nights, Rather)

R.I.P. my faithful headphones. You provided me with hundreds of hours of joy.

You know those days when everything goes wrong? They are the reason the phrase, "When it rains, it pours" exists.

I woke up last night at 11pm, tired from getting just under four hours of sleep, but ready to start a night of paper delivery. As I got on the laptop to sync my iPod, I noticed that it was displaying a big red X on the screen, instead of my list of music. Annoyed, I looked up on Apple's site exactly what that symbol meant. The directions told me to put it into "disk mode," though, no matter how many times I attempted to follow them to the letter I'd fail to actually achieve the desired effect. So I gave up, loaded my wife's old 1gb nano with my night's podcasts and set out.

After loading the papers into my car and buying the needed energy drinks, I went to put on my trusty headphones, only to have the the right side snap off. My attempt to tape it back together left much to be desired, but it had to do.

I got through my first route nearly finished when I discovered I was going to be significantly short on one of the three sections of the paper. 17 short, to be exact -- and just as I was realizing this, the podcast I was listening to abruptly ended. The iPod battery had died and I had no way to recharge it. Still half the night ahead of me and I was stuck with NPR/BBC and shitty music stations.

I trudged on and finished my second route. The caffeine was fading, but it was finally time to head home. Cue the unexplained car problems. As I left the gas station I noticed my speedometer was going a little haywire. I pulled over and it went back to 0, then I started up again and as I reached what felt like a normal speed it told me I was going 110 mph.

Apparently there are a couple things that could be wrong. One is a loose battery connection, which I pray is the problem. The other is a faulty powertrain control module. Hopefully that's not an expensive part to replace if it ends up being that one.

So, in one night I'm left headphone-less, with an iPod that I can't seem to repair, and a new car thing to have to fix. When it rains, it pours.

No Inspiration

This one blog a day thing is getting kind of hard to do. I'm running out of ideas to write about and my life is like a never-ending circle that never deviates, so nothing new really ever happens. My goal was to write something specifically for my personal blog -- whether it be about my life or just something that happened to me -- every single day.

I've already written two things today, but they weren't personal things. I wanted to have an account of my life for the entire year. I could easily write something every single day if I just copy and pasted the stuff I write about music and games and such, but I don't really want to cheat.

I'm not really sure why I want an account of a year in my life, because it will likely never be interesting. Remember that New Year's Resolution I made to change my family's life for the better in some way? I think it's about time to start working on that. Problem is, I have no degree and little experience, and submitting an application in this economy seems pointless. I know a lot of people more qualified then me that have had no luck after years of trying. I'd like to stop living my life driving the same path every day, it's just a little intimidating to even bother trying.

Adventures While Sleeping

Last night Emmy kept kicking the blanket we were sharing off, which meant she was kicking it off from me as well. The first several times she did it I yanked it back up in my sleep. Apparently at some point I yelled about it. With each subsequent blanket removal I woke up a little bit more. By the point that Zoe started yelling at me I was wide awake, but when I'm awoken out of the state I'm incredibly annoyed.

She started telling me I was doing it myself and that Emmy hadn't kicked the blanket off, but I knew very well she had at least the last time because I was awake enough by that point to realize what had woken me up. Thing is, she was telling me all this with a huge smile on her face, because my sleep antics are apparently hilarious to all who hear of them. Maybe I can laugh about them later that day, but when I've just been harshly yanked out of that deep of a sleep, the situation at hand is the most deathly serious situation I have ever been in. So I don't often react well to being told it was all a fantasy in my head, and that it is incredibly funny to someone else.

Quickly losing the argument that she was indeed kicking off the blanket, and being laughed at while I was arguing it, I told my wife she was being something that you should never say to your wife, and rolled over. Of course, this whole ordeal left me unable to sleep, and after awhile I rolled back over and voiced my frustrations. I apologized and went to sleep. Today we hashed it out further, because wives don't let you forget about things like that.

I've always done strange things while sleeping. They've very rarely escalated to actually getting up out of bed and venturing forth on a mission that I'm unaware of the purpose of, but some form of talking or moving happens probably once a week. I don't like it. Usually when you tell people about it they find it the funniest thing in the world, but by this point it just annoys me. My dad gave me all sorts of anger problems that I've worked very hard to squash, and when I'm asleep the cage door is wide open.

I'm not afraid of becoming violent towards anyone when I'm asleep, but on more than one occasion I've woke Emmy up by yelling at her to stop doing something that I'd imagined in my head. The next half hour is spend comforting her back to sleep, though I'm not entirely sure that she understands why I was yelling in the first place. I've always told myself I would look into solutions if I ever started wandering around the house doing dangerous things, but perhaps I shouldn't wait. If only so that Zoe and Emmy can get a good night's sleep every once in awhile.

The Parent's Great Sacrifice

Sometimes kids like really annoying things. As a parent, you are forced to put up with it. I've written before about how I kind of enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine, so Emmy's obsession with it wasn't too big of a deal. Now, however, she has discovered Dora the Explorer.

I kind of want to gouge my eyes out and stabs pencils into my ears when that show comes on, but I suffer quietly through it. Since we watch it at night I usually just put the show on and roll over to go to sleep. I have never made it through an entire episode of that show.

In a recent episode of the Film Junk Podcast -- one of my favorites -- one of the hosts talked about how he used to watch the Police Academy movies all day long as a kid. He has since revisited them and realized how awful they are and what amazing parents he had to put up with it. That is unfortunately what I am likely to endure from now on. I never used to watch stuff repeatedly, but Emmy is already doing that. The things we put up with.

This post was rushed because I want to go play DC Universe Online. Sorry about that.

Religion and Death: Tackling the Tough Issues with a Kid

A while ago that Parenthood show had an episode that tackled a parents trying to explain death to their daughter. Honestly, I've never really been sure why this is a hard thing for a lot of parents.

Early last year one of our horses gave birth in the middle of the winter. Despite our best efforts the baby didn't survive. We took Emmy to see the baby when it was born, so we also took her to say goodbye when it died. We didn't jump around and find a silly way to explain it to her, we just told her it had died. Dying meant that you weren't alive anymore. She didn't have trouble understanding. She told us she was sad that it had died and she said goodbye to it.

Later I bought her some pet goldfish because she'd hurt herself and...well, I wanted to. They didn't last very long, most likely due to the fact that they were grocery store goldfish. I didn't hide them from her or run to the store to buy new ones that looked just like the dead ones. I told her they had died, we walked down the hallway together to put them in the toilet, and she waved goodbye to them as I flushed it. I bought her some new ones and they also died after a few weeks. We went through the same routine and I told her we'd wait awhile and buy her some better pets in a few years.

In that episode of Parenthood, the parents of the little girl weren't religious and didn't want to use the concept of heaven, which they didn't even really believe in themselves, to comfort their daughter. After a few minutes of consoling her, the mother cracked and told her about heaven. Maybe some kids take the idea of death harder than others, but this wasn't an issue at all for us.

I'm agnostic. I don't adhere to any religion whatsoever. If there is a higher power, than I'd prefer he judge me based on how I've lived my life and not whatever hoops I jumped through in a church. Zoe is probably agnostic as well, I'm not entirely sure. The point is, I'm not hiding the idea of heaven of a god from Emmy, I'm just purposely avoiding it until she is old enough to make her own decisions. Telling a two year old about God and heaven pretty much assures that is what they will believe. They don't question things at that age, you're just heaping a belief onto them. How do you think the Westboro Baptist Church gains new members? They have kids and raise them with their stupid beliefs.

When Emmy is older I'll tell her what I believe and what other people believe. It's up to her to make that choice. My sister is very religious, despite my father being staunchly atheist and my mother being numb to the whole issue on account of a crazily-over-the-top Baptist Church she was forced to attend at a young age. That's her decision and I'm fine with it.

I'd be just as upset with my dad if he started pushing Emmy towards atheism as I would my mother-in-law if she pushed her to be religious. I don't think anyone can even start making that decision until at least their late teens.

The Internet Thinks it is Better than You

Recent hubbub surrounding IGN's Greg Miller and his poorly written review of Dead Space 2 has got me thinking. Admittedly I laughed and thought "I can write so much better than this" when I first read his review. That's something I normally avoid doing, because it bothers me how quickly aspiring writers are bashed and put off from trying to improve themselves because of the inclusive world of writers.

Now sure, there is a bigger issue with the fact that IGN apparently has no copy editors to run their articles past, but that seems to be the way of things nowadays. I couldn't do it justice if I tried to tackle that monumental issue. I'm more concerned with the way the Internet reacted to it; by bashing his intelligence and making jokes.

Maybe Greg Miller is a bad example because he's been writing at IGN for four years now, but I've always been of the mind that everyone can always improve their writing if they have some help and put in the work. Unfortunately most writers don't seem to have this belief. A lot of talented wordsmiths see a poorly written article and choose to make jokes, and it always bothers me a little.

I'm not proposing they reach out to the author and tell them what they could do to improve, I just wish more people would remember where they came from. I know I have a lot of improving to do with my writing, but I've come lightyears in the last three years that I've been doing it regularly on the Internet. Every small step I've made was because of a desire to grow and the help of someone better. I've always crammed writing into the little free time I have, so scouring for answers myself or taking classes just wasn't feasible. It was only when I read a comment from one of the editors at Bitmob, or someone told me on Twitter, that I realized mistakes I had been making and corrected them accordingly.

Of course, the mocking of Greg Miller's writing is more a comment on the fact that IGN doesn't seem to have editors that can help their writers improve, so I understand it. I'm glad Miller has a thick skin and can handle the abuse. I guess this whole blog is just a long-winded way for me to say I feel bad for the guy because I've made all the same mistakes he made and I know how long it took me to stop making them.

If you want to make it as a writer but keep getting discouraged, hang in there. You can improve if you just hold on and try your best. A huge part of why I'm taking a break from my attempts to become a professional writer is because I feel like I need to slow things down a little. I got overwhelmed when I finally got hired in at Bitmob because instead of slowing improving over several years I was suddenly at a break-neck speed. I haven't so much given up as I have slowed things down. Some people take a little longer than others.

Emmy Pics and Captions

I have a lot of pictures and videos of Emmy. Like, more than 365. So I figured I'd cheat a little and just share those today.

Just after she was born. She's only a day old in this video.

I'm reminded of that one scene from A Christmas Story.

"A citizen in distress! I'm off!"

"My toupee looks like what?"

"Why of course I'll give you a hug, Mr. President! There's no need to give me an award."

TV Remote pictured with baby, for size comparison.

"You're only just now feeding me this?!"


"Know what I mean? *wink* Hold up, gotta sneeze."

Sunday Free Writing: Sub-Zero and Long Games

I never have anything good to write about on Sundays, and even when I do it gets lost in the deadzone that is weekends on the Internet, so I'm going to do free writing most Sundays from now on. It's nice and easy because then I have an excuse to jump between topics seemingly at random. Plus, I never edit these one a day posts anyway.

Last night it was -13 degrees Fahrenheit almost the whole time I was delivering papers. It was cold enough that my car couldn't seem to handle the cold and puttered a little bit at stops until a ways through my route when it had more time to warm up. My father-in-law keeps saying I should already be thinking of trading it in for another car, just over a year since I got it. What with all the abuse I put it through doing papers it might be a good idea, but I just can't wrap my head around getting another car before I've even paid off the loan on the one I own. I tend to hold onto my cars until the last part falls off. But then, I haven't really liked this car since the day I got it, so I wouldn't mind getting a new one so soon.

I've finally started that one resolution to make a dent in my backlog of games and popped in Dead Space. I'm enjoying it, but was a little put off when I realized that it's been taking me about an hour to get through each chapter in the game, and according to the trophies there are 12 chapters to finish. I wrote about having trouble finding time to play games the other day, so I'm kind of worried I'll get bored with the game if I can't beat it quick enough. Most people take a week or two to play through a game of that length, but with my sporadic gaming schedule it can take me more than a month sometimes. Now that Emmy is older it's a little easier, but sometimes I feel like the last 3 or 4 hours in a game is just a slog to the end that I'm not enjoying, I just want to finish it. Hopefully I can put a bow on Dead Space before that ends up happening.

Gaming with a Family

There was a time when I could play video games for several hours a day if I wanted to, no problem. Long RPGs and action games like Okami that took 40 or 50 or even 60 hours to beat were no problem because I could make sizable dents in them on a regular basis. Nowadays? Not so much.

I guess it takes all parents some time to adjust to their new schedule, and fitting in time for their hobbies is always the last thing on the list. Obviously the duties of being a father should always come first, but I'd really like to be able to carve out a small part of my day for video games so that I'm not always hopelessly left behind in the gaming community.

Most people in this situation suggest staying up after the kids go to sleep, but Emerson has always gone to bed with me at 11 or so, and Zoe comes up a little later. I wake up earliest each morning so I can check emails and maybe write a little bit before I head out to work. Being that the video games are all in our bedroom with my sleeping wife and child, I can't really play then either.

Once I'm home from work, it's always hard to sneak upstairs to play games because I'm basically abandoning Zoe to take care of Emmy by herself, which she's done all day long already. I sometimes bring Emmy upstairs with me, but all of her toys are downstairs and she usually gets tired of staying in the bedroom and starts making mischief out in the hallway, bathroom, or other bedrooms. Plus, I'm never sure if a game is going to cuss, become overly violent, or do any number of other things she really shouldn't see.

The other day I had the idea of playing with headphones on while Zoe and Emmy slept in the morning, but for some reason the headphone jack on our TV doesn't work. Someone said I could get an adapter to possibly make the headphones a possibility so I'll have to look into that. Until then I've mostly found myself gaming on my laptop because I can do it downstairs while Emmy plays. That'll have to do unless I can get the headphones working. Maybe I can get through Dead Space by pecking away at it whenever I can sneak upstairs. Ah, the sacrifices of parenting.

Things Emmy Says, Part 2

It was my mother's birthday today and we just got home, so here's some more silly things Emmy has said that I've been saving up for a little while. I need to get to bed so I can wake up and do papers.

*When entering our room for bed*

Emmy: "It's dark in here! I want the light off."
Me: "Alright."
Emmy: "Now let's watch Thomas."
Me: "Oh, I thought we were going to keep it dark. How about I tell you a story?"
Emmy: "Uh, no."
Me: "I can tell you a Thomas story."
Emmy: "OK!"

*I began repeating the entirety of a Thomas episode that I've seen far too many times. After finishing:*

Emmy: "Let's watch Thomas now!"
Me: "My story wasn't good enough?"
Emmy: "No.""
Me: "Oh, that's mean."
Emmy: "Um, your story was really good, but the show is really good too."

*After we climbed into bed and turned on an episode of Thomas I took off my glasses and snuggled up to her. She pushed me away.*

Me: "Hey, I wanted to snuggle."
Emmy: "Not now."

*She climbed further over to Zoe's side of the bed.*

Me: "Well that hurts my feelings."
Emmy: *She sighs and climbs back* "One minute." *She holds up a finger*
Me: "For what?"
Emmy: "For nuggling."
Me: "Oh, alright."

I walked out into the kitchen and found Emmy up on a chair reaching for a box of cookies. I grabbed the box and opened it to show her there was nothing inside.

Me: "They're all gone."
Emmy: "Oooh, then what can I put in my mouth?"

One night I was playing with Emmy before bed, rolling around and such. Apparently I somehow touched her neck at some point and this is what followed:

Emmy: "That hurts my throat."
Me: "Oh, sorry."
Emmy: "My throat is in my mouth."
Me: "Yeah, at the back of your mouth."

*She then started to jump on the bed as I was getting ready to get into bed.*

Me: "Em, can you lay down now? It's bed time and I don't feel very well."
Emmy: "OK. I'll make you feel better by giving you another throat."
Me: "What? You're going to give me a new throat?"
Emmy: "On top of your old throat. It will make you feel better!"

Podcasting Professional

Yesterday I officially released the first episode of my own real podcast. Yeah, I know, everyone has one of those, but it still feels kind of cool. Think of it like a personal goal of mine. A small goal. It wasn't a life goal or anything, just something I thought might be cool. You know?

Back when I started papers I had to find something to help pass the time. For awhile it was music. I'd download several albums a day, but finding stuff that I liked enough to keep listening to wasn't as common as finding something that was exhausted by the end of the day. So I moved onto audiobooks, which worked for awhile but on the weekends when I was tired they just weren't cutting it for keeping me awake.

The day I discovered podcasts was like the day Stone Cold Steve Austin discovered the Bible. I was hooked. If it wasn't for podcasts I would have quit my job out of pure insanity long long ago. So it wasn't long before I started thinking about giving back to the podcasting world. After guesting on several other podcasts the urge to create my own grew.

Now that I have my own, I'm kind of addicted. I've been thinking about several others that I could make. I should probably just settle for the one right now, but we'll see how it goes.

P.S. You can subscribe, rate, and heap praise upon my podcast via this handy iTunes link right here, or this handy link to the write-up of the first episode.

One of the Uninsured Millions

Last year on my 25th birthday Blue Cross Blue Shield gave me exactly what I was hoping for; they jacked up the price of our health insurance. This big increase in a monthly bill was too much, so we canceled our plan entirely so that we wouldn't be overwhelmed with the incoming Christmas season. For several months the three of us joined the millions of other uninsured Americans.

Because of new laws and such, at the start of the year someone can be on their parents insurance until they're 26, regardless of marriage or living situation. So my wife got back on her parents insurance to ride out one more year. Apparently the insurance companies claim that a retirees insurance doesn't count though, so I can't get back on my parents. Personally, I think that's just a load of shit loophole they're clinging to until someone tells them to shut up and abide by the new laws, but I guess I'm going to fall through the cracks no matter what the outcome of that is.

We put Emmy on Medicaid, something we'd always avoided doing. It's not that we don't agree with government-funded programs to help people out, we just disagree with signing up for them unless you absolutely need to. There's no sense in bleeding the system dry by going on Food Stamps and Medicaid and everything else just because you're below the income limit. If you can get by without government assistance, then by all means leave more for the people that desperately need it.

With them out of the way we are now left to decide what to do about me. Currently we're looking at plans that are really only for emergencies. Something like $60 a month, with thousand dollar deductibles and absolutely no office appointments. Stuff that is really just in case I get in a horrible car accident or my kidney explodes or something. It's definitely not the lap of medical-coverage luxury.

I'm not really complaining, just laying it all out there for posterity's sake. You know, I rooted for Obama over Hillary back in the primaries because I thought he'd fight for universal healthcare. Sure, Clinton claimed she would as well, but back when her husband was in office she brought up that battle and it didn't take very long before she completely gave it up, so I didn't think she would fight very hard this time either. But Obama couldn't get it done either. We'll get by one way or the other, but I wish this country would stop being so stupid about it and get it passed. There are a lot of people out there that are far worse off than we are.

People Don't Understand Hyphens

It sometimes amazes me how dense people can be. My wife's name is Zoe, which is pronounced exactly how it looks. Still, pretty much everybody with that name pronounces it as Zoey, so I can understand how everyone does the same for my wife when reading her name in written form.

Yet, even when one of us says her name out loud to someone, they come back with, "Oh, hi Zoey." 99% of the time. No, nobody said Zoey, they said Zoe. If I was in that situation I would never respond with anything but an attempt at pronouncing it exactly how I heard them say it, even if I'd never heard that name before. If you'd never met someone with the name hispanic name Jesus (I can't do an accented U on my laptop), would you return their introduction with, "Oh, hi Jeez-Us. Nice to meet you!"?

But after trudging through that swamp of stupidity, I discovered an even bigger pond of muck. Apparently people don't have the slightest idea of what they should do when someone has a hyphenated last name. On top of that, they can't even fathom of a man having one.

When Zoe and I were engaged, we talked about the whole name issue. She didn't want to take my last name, Young, because she didn't like the way Zoe Young sounded. It probably didn't help that my brother joked about it sounding Chinese, but either way I wasn't going to force it down her throat. I didn't particularly want to change my last name completely either, so I understood it.

Still, I didn't want us to have two different last names because we wouldn't seem like as much of a family then. So, we both went with Cronk-Young and I couldn't be happier. I love having a (most likely) completely original last name that no one else has, and it feels like we're our own family, apart from her parents and mine.

But I never dreamed of the responses we'd get. We've seen everything at this point. Some people just skip the hyphen and write out Cronkyoung. Others invent their own name using an amalgamation of the letters. A lot of people just pretend half of it doesn't exist. They look down at what's written and look back up at me to say, "Uh, Mr. Cronk?"

Do people seriously ignore people that blatantly whenever they speak, or are people just completely unwilling to adapt to something they haven't yet experienced? Or is the entire world full of complete morons? Those are the three reasons I've thought up. Have you got a better explanation?

Waiting for the Rock Bottom

Listening to the first six or so episodes of the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast was kind of hard for me. After my cousin got out of a rehab clinic for heroin addiction I became his impromptu parent. Basically, I was Kevin Smith and he was Jason Mewes, because our relationship was almost the exact same as theirs. I was his babysitter, taking him along with me everyday on my paper routes and making sure he got to AA meetings at night.

That podcast would have been a huge help to have back then, because it's brought up everything that I completely missed. Of course, our entire relationship for that year or so was doomed from the beginning, just like it was with Kevin and Jay. You can't babysit an addict. Sooner or later they will find a way to betray your trust. Only until they hit rock bottom can they begin to pull themselves back up, and protecting them just prevents that from happening. I know that now.

The one day that I trusted him by himself, was the day it all went to shit. Zoe grandpa had died and I wouldn't be able to make the visitation because of papers. My cousin said he could do them for me, so I entrusted him with my car. This was obviously a mistake, as he drove to his old drug dealer and cleaned out the change in my car to buy a bunch of Xanax and some beers. When we got home later that night we found him passed out on the couch and the fun began.

I went through his stuff and found his old drug stuff was still around, so I called the cops. They came and took it away to test it, which sent him over the edge. He left out the front door with a backpack full of clothes in the middle of the winter. Apparently he slept on the steps of a church. I saw him the next day and without the beer and Xanax he was much less angry. He was waiting for his brother to come pick him up, someone who has more than enough addiction problems himself.

I doubt that was his rock bottom. I'm not even sure if he has hit a rock bottom. I haven't talked to him for a couple years now so I'm not really sure. I imagine if he had recovered I would have gotten a call or email as part of that whole owning up to all the people you hurt part of the process, but I haven't.

Listening to Jay and Silent Bob Get Old just brings up those old memories. I kind of miss having him around all the time. In between the occasional moments of having to act like a parent to my 6-months-older-than-me cousin, it was fun. Of course, I don't think we're at the point of hashing out all of those nasty little details yet. I'd love to get a call from him and be truly convinced that he is over all of the addictions. It would be great to have one of my best friends back, because that entire experience really ruined our relationship. I used to look up to him, but a lot has changed.

Working Through a Pet Peeve

I guess it's become one of my pet peeves to get a little annoyed when I see tweets about people being annoyed by kids in public areas. One of my good Twitter buddies sent out a couple tweets like that the other day and I gave him some shit for it. As it turns out, that shit was completely undeserved. We talked about it at length later and it made me really start to think about why that kind of stuff bothers me.

Obviously I was thrown into parenting with no real experience. Pretty much everyone is. An all of those cliche lines like about there not being manuals to being a good parent are completely true. Even though I love doing it, it always brings me close to pulling out my hair on a regular basis, because honestly, I have no clue what I'm doing.

Often I try everything in my power to stop certain behaviors, and it all fails miserably. Emmy has a bad habit of pummeling her cousins when they are mean to her, take away her toy, or in any way annoy her. For the longest time we tried absolutely everything to get her to stop when she hit one of them. Time outs didn't seem to even phase her, nor the corresponding long talk we gave her and the apology/hug she had to give. She would look right up at you and tell you everything you wanted to hear, and then the next time a situation arose her cousin would get another beatdown despite everything.

I would run through horror scenarios in my head about when she starts going to school. She'd likely pound on the first kid that looked at her funny and we'd get a call home. When it kept happening, things would escalate and before you knew it she'd be thrown out of school for the rest of her life at the tender age of five years old.

Yeah, I doubt it would ever play out that way, but I'm trying to say that I was worried. Eventually we decided to adopt a chart system. She has several things that she needs to do throughout the day (like keeping her hands to herself), and if she does them she gets a smiley face for that activity. At the end of the week we count up her smiley faces and if she has enough of them then she gets a reward. This process has proved much more effective.

But it took a long time to come to that solution, and it still isn't a full proof method. Nothing ever is. We haven't experienced any epic temper tantrums in a grocery store, but honestly I'm not sure what I would do if we did. Maybe we never will because when she threw even a tiny fit over being told no we just moved on and didn't give in. Still, who knows if we'll have to face down something like that in public.

Sometimes you just go numb. You watch your kid doing something they shouldn't be doing and you just can't bring yourself to try to stop it this time when you've failed countless times before. I got that way a lot when she was hitting her cousins. After trying incessantly to get her to stop, I'd watch her cousin pick up a toy, Emmy stand up, chase her down, smack her, and take it away; and I'd do nothing. It was defeat. I'd tried what I thought was every possible solution and nothing worked, and I couldn't stand to try doing the same things over again when I knew it wouldn't change a thing.

Maybe that makes me a bad parent, but I suspect every parent has come to that point on more than one occasion. So when I see a tweet along the lines of, "Kid behind me on the bus is screaming his head off and kicking my seat. Parents aren't doing a damn thing!" I guess I sympathize a little bit. Maybe they aren't doing a damn thing because they just don't care, but in my mind I see that haze of defeat. I wonder if that is one of their moments of despair, when inside they are mortified, but outside they just can't bring themselves to try in futility one more time.

They just want that bus ride to end as badly as you do so they can get behind the safety of their home's walls, where no one can judge them for having an unruly child that they don't know how to control. They'll probably wake up the next day feeling a thousand times better, and maybe by the end of the month they'll have discovered a way to stop the behavior, but you saw them when they were at their worst.

Clearly this is probably not the case in a majority of these types of situations, but it's what I think of. I guess just as some people jump to judge people for being bad parents, I jump to assume that people are trying their best. I definitely need to stop letting it bug me when I have absolutely no idea for sure what the situation is like, but it's hard to not let my own feelings of desperation transfer over to those other parents whom I've never even met. I suppose it's nice that I assume the best in people, at least, but unless I'm experiencing it myself I really can't make any judgement calls.

Weekend Freewriting: Reddit Time Killing

Pete Davison commands, I obey. Let's try out this "freewriting" he speaks of.



So I've been staring at a blank page for quite awhile and not really sure what to write about. I have several ideas written down, but I don't think I can do them justice on the weekend when I'm tired. Plus I'm out of the writing mood right now.

I've been killing a lot of time on Reddit lately. The funny section provides endless lawls. It's actually kind of amazing how many really smart people there are over there. I mean, for the Internet. A lot of times the actual link will be mildly amusing, and the stream of comments that follows will just escalate the hilarious. Every subsequent comment is even funnier, and just when the well of funny has run out the thread of replies ends. I find myself continually shocked that some moron doesn't shove his stupid joke in there at the exact wrong spot and kill all the funny that everyone else had built up.

And when I say smart, I mean on top of all the stupid humor that I find hysterical. They get in long debates over grammar, while at the same time mocking each other in the stupidest of ways. Someone posted a Facebook status update of a guy who spoke in an extremely pompous manner, and the first comment was pointing out a grammar mistake he'd made. From there, someone else pointed out a grammar mistake that they had made, and someone else pointed out one that that person had made, for about 6 people deep. It was pretty amusing, and no one ruined it.

I'm just a little intimidated to actually start commenting more myself. I mean, I can handle somebody pointing out a mistake I've made, but I feel like there is such a tightly wound community of people there, and they have so many in-jokes, that whatever I say will be turning on a bright beacon light to let them know what a n00b I am. Oh well, I don't really need to comment to enjoy all the hilarious stuff I find there.

The Degradation of Society Through the Lens of Children's Programming

Think outside the box.

Earlier a Twitter friend linked a video of a woman talking about the fact that in Australia they've decided to slap a "For Adult Viewing Only" sticker on a DVD release of some early Sesame Street episodes. Why? Because the children play freely outside in their city streets and greet older-men neighbors with a friendly wave. We wouldn't want children thinking that being outside is safe.

Of course, Australia and censorship seem to go hand-in-hand, and this sort of ridiculousness doesn't translate over here in the states...yet. Because honestly we seem to be walking down that road more and more everyday. I've written about this before through the veil of video games. Here's the relevant parts of that article:

"We are raising our children in a scary new world of knowledge. We know about more things that could hurt them than our parents could have ever imagined. We truck out all of the gravel in playgrounds and replace it with recycled rubber; we ban games like dodgeball; and we freak out at every bump and bruise.

In our fear, we've begun to treat our children like Faberge Eggs, and just as we assume they won't be able to handle a scrape, we also assume they won't be able to handle a challenging game. Chances are, they would be better at games than we could ever be -- if we'd just stop assuming."

I've been noticing a progression toward this awful, bubble-wrapped future in a rather unlikely place; Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. As I've mentioned before, Emmy is a little obsessed with that show. The show began even before I was born, but various iterations have continued to be released. Through the nightly ritual of scouring Netflix Instant for a new Thomas DVD to watch, I've noticed there is a clear downward spiral.

None of the Thomas shows say the date of release on them, but I can tell what came first. Older episodes don't shy away from putting the trains in actual danger. They're on bridges that get washed out from a flood and are washed down the river toward a waterfall. They careen off of docks into the water and into buildings when their brakes give out. In one episode a train refused to leave a tunnel because it was raining and he didn't want to dirty his new paint job, so they removed the tracks and built a wall in front of him and left him. That's how the episode ended. It wasn't until the next episode that a chance happening gave reason for them to let him out again.

You know what happens in the newer episodes of Thomas? They chase a runaway kite. Lots of drama and tension, aye?

Look, I'm not saying we're going to end up like that Idiocracy movie, but we could definitely take a good hard look at how much we're coddling our kids. Everyone throws heaps of praise at Pixar for putting real emotion into their films and not being afraid to include genuinely sad or scary moments. As far as I can remember nearly every kid's movie from my childhood was pretty damn sad at times. I think Pixar might be one of the few studios around that haven't bubble-wrapped their movies for maximum child protection. I'm just glad people are praising them for it instead of demonizing it.

Texting > Calling

Let's try one of those Plinky suggestions for today's One A Day post. Do I prefer text messaging or actually calling people? That's easy. Always texting.

No, I'm not a 14 year-old girl, but I really can't stand talking to people on the phone. Every second that goes by feels like torture. Here is a typical phone conversation with my mother:

Mom: "Hello?"
Me: "Hi, I'm supposed to ask you what day would be good for us to come over this week."
Mom: "Oooooooh, I don't know. Uuuuum, let's see."
Me: "Wednesday? Is Wednesday good?"
Mom: "Ooh, I think so. I don't think your dad has anything that night."
Me: "Alright, we'll assume Wednesday and you can call Zoe if that doesn't work."
Mom: "OK. So what's new?"
Me: "Uh, nothing."
Mom: "How's Emmy?"
Me: "Fine?"
Mom: "OK."
Me: "Alright, we'll see you Wednesday. Bye."

Like torture. It's not that I hate talking to my mother, I just hate talking to people on the phone entirely. I'd much prefer to just send her a text message that says "Does Wednesday work for us to come over?" and wait for the response.

And this doesn't even necessarily mean I dislike actual human interaction. My mother-in-law has the annoying habit of leaving a completely pointless voicemail whenever she calls and I'm in a bad service area or something and miss it.

"Hello. Caaall me back."

Ugh! I had to call my voicemail inbox, enter my password, listen to the robot lady for 10 seconds, and press another button, for that? If I see that I have a missed call, I'm going to assume that I should probably call that person back. It is completely pointless to leave a message asking me to do so without actually just leaving the information that you called to deliver in the first place. I have told her this and it hasn't stopped her from doing it. Which leads me to believe it is just something that comes with that generation.

Like when my mom calls me and tells me who it is. Yep, I know who it is, because my phone tells me who it is before I even answer the phone.

It's quite clearly a generational thing, and some people hate that. They feel like text speak and a desire to constantly shorten the time it takes us to communicate is destroying the English language. I think it's easy to assume things like that, and takes a little bit more thought to actually analyze it like Clive Thompson has multiple times in his monthly Wired column. Taking shortcuts in our means of communication isn't making us less intelligence, our intelligence is just evolving to adapt to our new technology.

Emmy on Games

When you're a parent, it's hard to get in a free moment for some gaming. Even when you manage to sneak upstairs and escape butt-wiping duty with the glow of a shiny video game, your kid is likely to open the door five minutes later and ask what you're playing.

Actually, I kind of love moments like that. Sure, if I'm playing a Mature title it means I have to quickly save and turn it off before someone swears or kills somebody, but I'm always up for introducing my kid to video games. It's fun to plop her down on my lap and watch her stare in fascination at the game. But even better are the things that come out of her mouth.

For a few nights in a row I let her pick out some games we should play from the downloaded titles on my PS3, and documented the reactions. These were the results:

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

"He doesn't run too fast."

Noby Noby Boy

Emmy: "I don't want this. I want you to turn this off."

Emmy: "What's that worm's name?"
Me: "Noby Noby Boy."
Emmy: "Mm, it's Nobby Nobby Boy."

Linger in Shadows

In a desperate attempt to not watch Clifford's Really Big Movie for the zillionth time, I tried the hard sell on virtually every game on my PlayStation.

Me: "You want to play this game? It's got a unicorn!" I said as I stopped on Peggle.
Emmy: "No."
Me: "How about this one, you can feed fish!" I didn't know a lot about Feeding Frenzy 2, but I assumed this was the case.
Emmy: "No." as I scrolled up past each game at a time, I stopped on Linger in Shadows, whose graphic featured a creepy (dead?) cat and dog with...tubes (?) coming out of them. "I want the dog and cat!"
Me: "Uh, alright." I was desperate.

She seemed fascinated for awhile, as the game flashed past a couple scenes of people or statues, then I realized stuff happened when I shook the controller. Creepy things. I regretted it immediately. She said nothing, but it was clear she was getting more uncomfortable. The creepy shaking didn't stop, so I shook the controller even more. Suddenly we broke through to an even creepier, and darker scene. This was the breaking point.

Emmy: "I don't like this now."
Me: "I'll get back to the people. Do you want the people."
Emmy: "No. I want it off. I don't like it. I want to feed the fish!"
Me: "OK, OK, we can feed the fish."

I quickly exited the game and switched to Feeding Frenzy 2.

Feeding Frenzy 2

Emmy: "There's fish! We're going to feed them?"
Me: "Um, well I guess I'm a fish and I need to eat the smaller ones."
Emmy: "We need to feed them."
Me: "Yeah, that's how you feed the fish, he eats the other fish."
Emmy: "No, that's not nice. I don't want him to eat them."
Me: "That's what some animals do, they eat other animals."
Emmy: "No!"

Evolving Friendships

I had a lot of acquaintances in high school, and I would call them friends, but I don't have a lot of "friendships." What I mean is, a friend that will stay in my life throughout the changes that come. In high school you make a lot of friends. I wasn't a "popular" kid, but I'd say I had at least 20 or 30 people I interacted with on a regular basis -- eating lunch with, talking with in or between classes, or meeting up with after school -- that I would certainly have called friends. The day I graduated from high school those numbers dwindled down to a mere handful.

From there, that handful started to drop as well. For awhile I'd hang out with each of them every couple weeks or so, but after a marriage and a child came along that changed. When you're married and have a baby and a friend calls you and ask you to come over and hang out, you can't really just hand the baby to the wife and say you'll be back later because you're gonna go sit around and play video games with so and so. The friendship has to evolve and both friends have to be on board with that.

I got married when I was 21 years old, so those friendships had to evolve pretty fast. Only one of them rolled with the punches. So, at 25 years old I have one friend to my name, but I am extremely thankful he's been so damn good at adapting to the new friendship we have.

He doesn't have a family yet because he finished college, but he seems to understand mine. Sometimes we meet at the local Chinese place with Emmy in tow and he has always been great with her. When I invite him to come hang out at our place I feel a little bad that I might not be as entertaining as most people our age that are spending their 20s doing whatever they please and "finding themselves." But he seems to be fine with the fact that these invitations usually end in us playing toys with Emmy.

Having that solid of a friendship is great, because my wife and I haven't really made any couple friends that we can do couple-y things with. All of her friends don't really bother trying to adjust, they've just fallen into the category that all of my high school friends are in; happy to run into each other and "catch-up" for five minutes, but not really an active friend anymore.

So while I'm extremely thankful for my one friend, I'd still like to have some couple friends who also have a kid so that we can do family type things together like going to the zoo or park or whatever. How exactly do you make those? I'll have to look into that.

Let Me Make This Abundantly Clear

I made a commitment to the One A Day Project because I wanted to put my personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences down on some form of paper so that I could look back on them in the future, and my kid and future kids could if they wanted to at some point. I thought it might be cool to have a document of a year of my life, plus it was a way to start writing for myself again.

I tweet links to these posts because that's just what is done with the One A Day Project. I know that my wife reads them everyday, and my friend usually reads everything I write, but otherwise I don't really mind if no one at all reads them.

Yesterday I wrote one that I thought was particularly uninspired because I was awake for far too long and had no real ideas for anything to write about, so when tweeting it I warned that it wasn't good at all and probably should be skipped. I was honest in that, not fishing for compliments or trying to get attention, but someone seemed to think I was.

With the first response I joked back with what I hoped was a joke, but clearly he was out to be an ass. Even though he responded to my employment at Bitmob with a backhanded compliment, I never want to be the one to hurt someone else with my words, so I ignored it.

It's clear he is jealous of the fact that I got a gig at Bitmob because he feels like he is a better writer than me...and he is completely right to feel that way. He is a better writer than me. But sometimes life is about the attitude, buddy. I am one hundred percent a better person than you, and I don't need anyone to tell me that. I know I'm a good person because I have a wife and a child that tell me so, and my friends on Twitter like me enough to do amazing things like chip in and buy me a PS3 (Which I'm still paying back, slowly.)

So you know what, I'm not "still crying." I'm in a great mood. If I ignore the entire situation I run the risk of letting you think that you somehow weren't a piece of shit. You have a fundamental flaw in your attitude and it is destroying your life. I improved my life by trying my best to be a good person, and I'd like to clue you in on that little trick. Live your life like Cody Winn, because no one hires somebody that treats others like shit, even if they are better at the job than other prospective candidates.

Zombie Sundays

My sleep schedule is eternally screwy because of my job. On Mondays through Fridays The Grand Rapids Press is an afternoon paper, meaning I don't have to deliver until around Noon. Not bad at all, but once it comes to the weekend things get messy. On Saturdays I have to wake up at about 3:30 AM, and on Sundays I start at midnight. There is pretty much no sleep routine that fits well into that schedule.

So every Saturday I get only three or four hours of sleep, then power through the day until five or so when I go to sleep again. After waking up at 11PM and doing papers all night long, I have the choice of going to sleep at some point on Sunday and remaining on a screwed up system, or staying awake for 24 hours to get back on my schedule for the week. I usually try the latter, and it means reaching a zombified state of existence at some point in the day.

I'm productive enough in the morning, but somewhere I hit a wall and tasks that require more than a handful of thought are all but impossible for me to complete. I've been writing this for several hours already. I mostly just stare at the same sentence for about 25 minutes and then stumble my way onto the next. It's not exactly the best way to write, but you're probably going to have to come to expect it from me on Sundays what with this whole one a day thing.

I made apple streusel muffins earlier for no real reason. They got a little too done on the bottom, but they're alright. I actually made them because I found the box in the middle of the living room floor after we took the Christmas tree outside. Emmy likes to take her toy shopping cart into the kitchen and empty out the cupboards of all of our baking-type products. You'll always find boxes in any and every nook and cranny of the living room.

Later I watched some late '90s action flick called Fled with Stephen Baldwin and Laurence Fishburne. I didn't really pay attention, but I think they were fleeing from someone. Now Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist just ended. It seemed alright, but seemed to meander and get a little boring. Could just be the commercials that dragged it out though.

I just got an email with a review code for the Costume Quest DLC. It's not exactly Christmas anymore, but I think I'm gonna go play through that. Maybe. I forget when I ate last. Hmm.

Oh, I'll try to write next Sunday's one a day as early as possible so I can avoid another completely pointless article like this one. If you made it to the end of this, I'll give you an apple streusel muffin. Just don't eat the bottom of it.

All About Pee

We potty trained Emerson a month after she turned two years old. My wife had a sure-fire plan to make the entire process as painless as possible. We bought at least 30 pairs of underwear at once, lost the diapers, and stuck her on the toilet at the slightest sign of an accident.

That first day she peed in 13 pairs of underwear, but with each subsequent day the number dwindled. Before the end of the first week she was only having an occasional accident. We were out of the woods it seemed; finally free of the annoyance of changing diapers.

Now, as Emmy approaches her third birthday, it seems that old annoyance has reared it's ugly head again. For some reason we keep dealing with incidents where she doesn't quite make it to the potty in time -- at least once or twice a day. It's gotten pretty stressful, mostly because I have no idea what is causing it or how to make it stop.

I can't really get a straight answer out of her about why she's doing it. If I ask her if she is holding it in because she doesn't want to stop playing she says yes. If I ask if she's peeing in her underwear because her cousin doesn't use the potty she says yes. She pretty much just agrees with anything I come up with.

Sometimes it's hard to know what the best solution is when it comes to parenting, and this is certainly one of those times. You just have to barge forward, try your best, and hope that the kid doesn't come out of it scarred for life.

Emerson, if you're 30 years old and you cry every time you have to go to the bathroom, holding yourself in the fetal position on the floor as you soil your pants, well, then, I'm sorry. At least you can look back on this blog post and know that I tried my best.

Things Emmy Says

Kids say the darndest things, right? Bill Cosby wasn't wrong about that. Who knows where they pulled them from, or if they just made them up by themselves. Either way, if you're also a parent you probably find their crazy sayings charming and adorable. If you're not a parent they're probably so charming and adorable that it makes you want to vomit. Or maybe everyone except the actual parents of the kid who is saying the adorable things feels that way; I'm not sure.

Whatever the case may be, I thought I'd try to catalog some of the crazy things Emerson says so that I could look back at them and laugh. Here's the first, containing one from last night and a bunch that I posted on Tumblr and I want to transfer somewhere else before I forget that Tumblr exists like I pretty much already have.

Last night as we laid watching Thomas in bed, Em turned to me and gave me a hug, then turned back to the show. This isn't uncommon when we're snuggling, but this time I heard: "Best hug ever."

Me: "What?"
Emmy: "Best hug ever."
Me: "Oh. Good."
Emmy: *turns and gives me a kiss* "Best kiss ever."
Me: "That was the best kiss ever?"
Emmy: "Yeah." *gives me another hug* "Best hug ever."
Me: "You're crazy."
Emmy: "You're also crazy." *turns and looks up at me* "You're a good man."

Doesn't it just melt your heart? It certainly melts mine.

Me: “Em, no blankets on the potty. Take it off.”
Emmy: “But I’m cooooold.”
Me: “But you’ll get pee on it. Take it off.”
Emmy: “Ooooooooh. Maybe poop even?”

When Emmy isn’t crying or sleeping in her carseat on a trip, she’s rambling about anything and everything. At some point last night she was imagining some sort of scenario with a cat and a trashcan that worries me a bit. “The sun is in my eyes.” is also something I frequently hear from the back seat, but last night we got this gem:

“The dark is in my eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyes!”

Guess she wanted to complain about something but realized the sun wasn’t out, so she revised a little.

From the bathroom, I heard her messing around with something in the kitchen and called for her. She opened the door just enough to stick her face in the crack and I asked her what she’d been doing.

Emmy: ”You’re on the potty?”
Me: ”Yes. What were you doing in the kitchen?”
Emmy: “This is my face… right here.”

Apparently my daughter has the humor of a 12 year old boy. Here is our conversation from last night in bed:

Emmy: I want to nurse.
Me: Well, you have to wait for Mommy, she’s got the boobs.
Emmy: Mommy has boobs?
Me: Yes.
Emmy: And nipples?
Me: Yes. Well, everyone has nipples.
Emmy: Everyone? Grandma has nipples?
Me: Ugh, yes, grandma has nipples.
Emmy: I have nipples?
Me: Yep.
Emmy: You have nipples?
Me: Yep.
Emmy: *pause* *hysterical laughter* Nipples *More hysterical laughter*

At which point I obviously started laughing, and for probably 2 straight minutes she periodically said “Nipples” and we’d laugh.

I was telling her to go to sleep last night, and she said she wanted to be held. So I picked her up and rocked her back and forth a little, and told her to close her eyes and go to sleep. After about a minute, she whispered softly:

“I’m still a little awake.”

Me: “Alright, then stop talking and go to sleep.”

A minute or so later…

“I’m still a little bit awake. I’m closing my eyes.”

Last night we climbed into bed with two books to read: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Emmy: I want you to read this one. *holds up the Polar Bear one* No, I want to read it to you.

Me: Oh, you’re going to read me the Polar Bear book? Alright.

Emmy: *Opens to the title page* There are words in this book!

Context: On the Jordan Jesse Go podcast they are having a competition they’ve named “The King of the Children Contest”, where listeners describe things they talk about on the show to their kids and have them draw pictures of it to send in. Anyway:

Me: Oh shoot, I forgot to have Emmy enter The King of the Children Contest.

Zoe: What?

*I describe the contest*

Me: Emmy, you wanna be The King of the Children, right?

Emmy: No, I’m going to be corn!

(That’s what she was for Halloween.)

Reverting to a Childlike State

Even before I had a child, I planned ahead; purchasing several old cartoons that I liked as a kid on DVD so that my future children could enjoy what I had enjoyed. I didn't want my kids to be stuck watching all the crap on TV nowadays; all those copy and paste kids shows.

I should probably explain that last part. You know those kids stories that go something like, "Turtle is looking for his Mommy. He found a lion. "Are you my Mommy?" "No, I'm a lion." *Turn page* Turtle is looking for his Mommy. He found a zebra. "Are you my Mommy?" "No, I'm a zebra." *Turn page* Turtle is... -- you get the idea. I HATE those types of kids stories. Not to mention the boring stuff like Dora or Super Why that sticks to a set structure and then leaves huge gaps for the kid to interact.

"Do you see something?"
"Behind me?"


Suffice it to say, when Emerson was born I began hatching plans to gently coerce her into having better tastes than that. But somewhere in the haze of Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, and Ninja Turtles DVDs, Thomas the Tank Engine snuck in as stealthily as a train engine possibly could.

Strangely enough it was from a tube of toothpaste we bought for her, but when she started talking about Thomas I figured I might as well encourage it. I never watched it when I was a kid, but I knew it was old so it probably didn't suck as much as the stuff made in the last decade. So I bought her a set of Thomas DVDs, and the downward spiral began.

We watch Thomas every single night before bed now. We have Thomas books galore, and for Christmas we bought her a train table, a bunch of train tracks, and some Thomas toys. But in all of this hub-bub surrounding her love for all things Thomas, this is the dirty-little secret I've yet to share publicly: I kind of like the show as well.

Look, all parents have to act like a kid sometimes; it's just the natural way of things. I have to know the names of every single train on that show so that when my daughter asks me about one I can tell her who it is and when I'm in the store looking to buy her a new toy I know which ones she likes. The thing is, last night we were watching an episode in which Sir Topham Hatt (The head conductor for the island of Sodor (where all of the trains live (duh))) had a statue made of all of the main train engines, and I noticed that one of them was missing. I actually paused the show and took it frame-by-frame to make sure that he really wasn't in there. I debated whether or not a generic mass at the end of the statue was actually the missing engine with my nearly three-year old daughter.

Yes, I found a flaw in a children's television show and I analyzed the situation to make sure I was right. That's probably taking it a step to far, but here's the thing: I love snuggling up with my daughter every night and watching our show. Besides, what fun would have a child be if you didn't revert back to your own childlike state? None at all.

Why? Because. Why? Because.

"What said hee-haw?"

"Huh? Donkeys say that. Where'd you hear a donkey?"

"On the TV. Why do they say hee-haw?"

"Just because that's the noise they make."


"That's just the noise that they make. Like pigs say oink oink."


"They just do."




You know, sometimes those jokes you hear all the time are completely true. My daughter has definitely reached the "Why? Phase", and it's driving me crazy. This is the battle line. The choices I make now will help decide whether or not I was a good parent. Will I try my best to give accurate answers, or just tell her to stop talking and turn the volume up on the TV?

Actually, it's kind of somewhere in the middle. Look, I'm not a genius. I have my limits, and she really likes to test them. Sometimes I find myself trying to explain things that I'm really not sure I entirely understand myself. One of my favorite podcasts, Stop Podcasting Yourself, has an overheard segment where people call in with whatever ridiculous/hilarious/stupefying things they've heard. I'm reminded of one that went something like this:

"Dad, how do fireworks work?"

"Well, son. They take a lot of.... I don't know, son."

My approach is along those lines. I explain what I can until I reach the limits of my knowledge, and when the next "Why?" comes I tell her I just explained that to her. Usually this is met with another "Why?", at which point I distract.

"Hey, you wanna watch Thomas?"

At least I tried my best, right? I just hope she doesn't figure out that if she asks "Why?" enough she's going to get a cookie or be able to watch a show.

Lane Cutters Can Eat Shit and Die

There is a bridge that I have to cross daily while working. It is the only bridge into and out of town, barring the one completely out of your way to the south, and the one completely out of your way to the north. It was in rough shape, so it is being completely replaced, which means each direction has been cut down to one lane and the two-lane road leading up to it merges into one lane just after the stoplight before the bridge.

This is, of course, clearly labeled. A good mile before the light is a giant light-up sign informing drivers of the impending merge just beyond the light. If I'm running a little bit late, the big factory in town changes shifts and traffic across the bridge becomes a slow crawl stretching through the light, but never that I've seen past that gigantic warning sign.

Yet, when there is a long line of traffic in the one lane, waiting to get across the bridge, there is inevitably an asshole every other minute that flies past everyone in the soon-to-close lane until they reach the construction barrels where they rudely shove their way into the line of traffic. You assume they must be in that lane to turn at the light until you see them fly right through it and the rage ensues. Allow me to provide an even better example of what complete pieces of shit these people are.

Have you ever been at a grocery store with only one lane open and a long line ahead of you? When you were in that line, did anyone walk straight past everyone in the line toward the closed checkout lane ahead, only to shove their way into the line of people waiting at the open one at the last possible second? NO! Of course they didn't, because if they did someone would probably punch them in the face!

A lot of people talk about trolls on the Internet being empowered by their anonymity, and I think it's the same exact thing when people are in their cars. They know that they are being raging assholes when they do stuff like that, but they're confident that no one is going to merge their car into the side of their SUV like they might with do with their fist into their face at the grocery store.

Do me a favor: don't be an asshole. I don't mean only when you're face-to-face with another human being, I mean all the time.

Proper New Year's Resolutions

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, probably because they were always doomed to fail. One Kevin Smith discussed the notion of people having a "present bias" -- their future selves are perfect beings with which they can place all of their dreams and aspirations, confident in the fact that they will achieve them, just...later. There's a really good TV show on right now.

A New Year's resolution is the epitome of that. Everyone makes them, but probably something like 0.001% of them are ever achieved. So, I usually spare myself the disappointment of realizing I've failed to complete the tasks I've given myself for the year. But then I was reading through Pete Davison's first One A Day post and was kind of struck by the idea of making attainable and broad resolutions that I can easily achieve if I put my mind to it. I'll check back with you in a year and find out what my percentage was.

1. Take back my pant size: I keep telling myself I'm gonna drop a good 60 pounds and lose the beer gut that has never even had any beer in it. In all likelihood I never will, so I'm going to start taking baby steps toward that goal. This year? I would love to be able to put on the 38 waist Dickies pants I have without sucking in and stretching. I can still wear other pants in size 38, but Dickies are much tighter.

2. Improve (or take steps toward improving) our life: A new job; signing up for some sort of classes that might help me in working toward a new job; finding a house that we can afford. I'll take anything, really.

3. Keep somewhat up to date on the video games of 2011: At the end of every year I get a harsh realization of how little current gaming I did in the last 365 days. I'd like to at least play enough 2011 releases to be able to make a top 10 list.

4. Make a sizable dent in my gaming backlog: I always feel guilty when I buy a new game because of all the games I have sitting around that I haven't even touched. I'd like to start crossing games off of that pile of shame I've got going.

5. Read more: I don't have a ton of books lying around, but the percentage of the ones that I've actually read is embarrassingly high. By the end of the year I will have read these books that have been on my shelf for far too long:

We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001 by Eric Davidson
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer
Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Igniting a Revolution by Various Authors
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
Dermaphoria by Craig Clevenger
Syrup by Maxx Barry
On Writing by Stephen King
My Boring-Ass Life by Kevin Smith
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Of course, if I find any of them particularly boring I can stop reading and still cross them off my list. Some of them have been lent to me with the insistence of quality, others gifted to me at Christmas or such, and a few were purged from the belongings of an acquaintance with whom I haven't had contact in several years -- so who knows if I'll like them. I've gotta leave myself an out if they completely blow.

And those are my modest resolutions. Wish my future self luck in completing them. I certainly could use it.

Time to Rest

The first day of the New Year, I awoke at 5am to go to work, only to find a larg amount of pain every time I bent my right knee. Unsure of how I'd injured myself while asleep, I limped off to deliver papers. Do you know how difficult it is to get in and out of a car without bending a knee? The answer is: impossible.

When I got home at 8 or so I would normally feel the need to write my next article, but given that I've shifted my goals in life I reassured myself that there was nothing I needed to do and went back to bed. Throughout the day I mostly laid in bed and watched comedy specials on Netflix.

After dinner Emmy came upstairs with me and we watched Toy Story 3 and some Thomas the Tank Engine episodes as we snuggled up together. At 11 at night I went off to deliver again, through the middle of a snow storm, of course. When I finally finished at 8am or so my knee felt a little better but I reassured myself I could get some more rest and headed upstairs to climb back in bed with my wife and daughter instead of plopping down with the laptop for more work.

Well, I'm awake again, and guess what? My knee feels a thousand times better, my stomach is no longer sour, my head doesn't hurt, and I feel like chowing down on a big plate of food. I feel refreshed again.

Long story short, if I was still attempting to pound out articles on a regular basis for at least two websites then I would probably still be super tired, grumpy, and limping around the house. It feels good to be able to get a little rest when I need it.

New Year Resolution: Shift Life Focus

You know how they expect you to know what you want to do with the rest of your life before you're even out of high school? Almost seven years after graduation I still don't have a clue -- writing was just my best guess. I went about life the completely wrong way based on what society expects.

I was stumbling through community college with absolutely no direction when I took a semester off to get married. We found out we were having Emerson maybe a month later as she was obviously conceived on our honeymoon. Most people wait until they're settled down with stable jobs before they think about kids, but that's mostly a lot of excuses for not being ready. It might have taken some convincing from my wife to get me out of the mindset that we needed to have our career paths in order first, but Emmy was by no means unexpected like most of our family assumed.

And thank GWAR for her. Well, GWAR would probably sell her for crack or something, but thank that hard-working semen for her...or something. Either way, my daughter is the best thing in my life and I would lick dirt off of worms for a living if that's what it took to pay the bills and buy her toys. But back to the point of this article.

A good two years ago when I decided I would pursue writing as a career, it was mostly because that was something I enjoyed doing, but also because I wanted a job that my kids would be proud of. Flash forward to a few weeks ago and I was getting home from delivering as many papers as I could possibly fit into the day, only to plop down with the laptop and pour over emails about the website I was trying to run or the other one I had just gotten hired at.

While feasibly I could get up and play with/take care of my kid and be a loving husband to my wife, and I certainly did on a regular basis, this still lead to a heaping amount of stress when it came to the actual professional writing. I am honored to work with some of the veterans of the game journalism industry over at Bitmob, but the stress of submitting a piece of writing and receiving countless corrections to make -- on top of a two year old running around the house screaming -- kind of killed that whole thing I mentioned about enjoying writing. It's hard to enjoy something when you're agonizing over an edit, trying to deliver the article in a timely manner, as you glance over to the bathtub ever few seconds to make sure the child is still playing and not drowning.

So I'm done. Well, not done done. It would be completely stupid of me to just throw everything away at this point, but I'm shifting my focus. It probably sounds like, "Waaah, becoming a better writer was too HARD!!!" but I'm gonna stop trying to ascend in the games journalism field for awhile and just plateau. My personal blog fell into complete misuse for huge swaths of time, and with this here One A Day Project I aim to change that and hopefully have something to show a year from now. Like, a year in my life. For the future's sake...or some shit like that.

I'll also keep Cerebral Pop up and running and chugging out regular content that I feel like writing, as well as moderate for Bitmob. Yeah, that doesn't sound like much of a change, but trust me, the simple fact that I'm not always thinking about how to advance my writing career is a huge weight off my shoulders. Everything I write now will be entirely my own, which probably means there will be far more misplaced commas. But maybe I'll start to enjoy writing again.

I also have my mind set on starting classes again, maybe getting into electrical work or something, so I may have to shuffle some of the Bitmob and Cerebral Pop stuff if that gets in the way. We'll see. So, like I said, I'm not gone, just changing tracks for awhile.

I'll leave you with a fitting video. It comes from the final moments of the last episode of Louie, Season 1. After trying and failing to fit in at a club where he really doesn't belong, Louie heads home to his children. In a lot of ways I think this clip fits me perfectly. I don't really fit in with the writing world. I could probably make it with a lot of hard work, but there will always be a disconnect in my vocabulary and ability to analyze a topic. And ultimately being a parent is my real calling in life; whatever I do for a living comes second to that.