Friday, January 30, 2009

Caught Up

Haven't written in a while. Things at home are busy/stressful and that takes all of the snark right out of me. I haven't written a lot at GameShark either, but there are a few items there penned by yours truly.

There's a review of Moon that I did recently and there's a piece on 2008's Dubious Achievement Awards. That last one is a little less timely now then when it was originally slated to run, but things don't always work out the way we want them to.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The End of Daycare

Tomorrow marks a very important day at HyphenRidge, namely the last day of daycare for our brood. While Ben has been out of daycare since he started Kindergarten in August, Abby stops tomorrow as it has been determined that she needs to attend the Special Education pre-school program that the county offers.

I am of two minds about this. The one mind isn't too thrilled that my 4 year old needs to be in a Special Education class, nor do we know what we'll do with her during the summer when school is closed, especially if "normal" daycare isn't an option.

The other, much larger mind, is absolutely thrilled as this represents an additional 900 bucks a month in the bank. Oh sure, I'm also glad that Abby will be getting the help that she needs, as it would appear that this environment will be much better for her in preparing her for Kindergarten, and I certainly won't miss having to drop her off in the morning, but having that extra cash ain't too shabby.

Honestly, daycare was never one of my favorite things. I always found daycare to be annoying, preferable to a single income as it may have been. The thing to keep in mind about daycare is that while individual teachers may care about your kid, the daycare as a whole is only interested in their bottom line and if, at any point, the best interests of your kid and the best interests of their bottom line conflict, well, guess which one will lose. To me that always seemed backwards, no doubt because it was my kids that came out on the losing end, be it something as trivial as a kid with a fever that has to come home only to have the fever mysteriously gone the minute he toddles through the door, to a kid asked to not come back to school because no one is willing to work with her and her unique needs.

I'm sure this all sounds like I wanted the daycare to raise my kids, which isn't the case, however Linda and I have always been at odds with the various places our kids were in due to the fact that their idea of discipline and our idea of discipline were so completely different. Step out of line at our house and things will go poorly for you. That's just a fact and I don't care how cute you are. At daycare, minimizing conflict seemed to be the rule of the day as it worked towards making the place appear cheery and happy for prospective customers. When you have a kid like Abby, there is a lot of conflict, and a firm hand is needed to work through it. You may find a lot of things at daycare, but a firm hand ain't one of them. Obviously, I'm working from my own experience here and your results may vary, but if it's a big "chain" place you're dealing with, I doubt that you'll find things to be much different. I'm not asking the daycare to smack my kid, but perhaps making her sit by herself when she freaks out because she doesn't want to follow directions would be a better idea then letting her go and sit in the Director's office and eat waffle fries from Chik-Fil-A. And no, I am not kidding about this. I mean, come on, I'd drown kittens daily if it meant I got a steady stream of waffle fries and I'm 36. How the hell is a 4 year old supposed to learn proper behaviour in this situation?

So yeah, not having an option for the summer right now sucks, as does the extra burden on Linda to have both kids home a little later in the morning and a little earlier in the afternoon, but if it means that my kid will get the help she needs and I get almost a thousand buck staying in my pocket, where it belongs, I'll take the hassle of figuring out the summer. To daycare I say so long, and thanks for all the waffle fries.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tales of a Driveway Gourmand

As you all know, I like to eat. A lot. I'll eat pretty much anything, unless it's fish, because fish are nasty. Seriously. Despite living in water, which is an excellent solvent, fish are filthy creatures, cursed with a lack of limbs because God hated them so. It's totally true. Look it up. Did you know that fish pee and poop in that water, as well as make nasty fish love in there? Also true. Also verifiable in books. I don't care how healthy a salmon is, that thing is a rancid beast, capable of doing nothing more than infecting you with all manner of plagues and pestilence, when it isn't violently thrashing its way upstream to take place in some debased fish orgy.

I do enjoy a good plate of calamari though.

Where was I? Oh right, food. For some unknown reason, those cagey advertisers have started to put samples of food in with my Sunday paper. For some other unknown reason, I am compelled to eat these samples, despite the fact that they are found in puddles of the various forms of lawn based detritus that exist at the base of my driveway. I honestly don't know why I feel the need to eat whatever comes in the newspaper bag as I have never once been compelled to eat the actual newspaper. There must be some primal part of my brain that sees the food just laying there, and feels that eating that food will be the difference between survival and slow, wasting death.

With that in mind, I give you the first in an occasional series of articles I'm calling "Tales of a Driveway Gourmand" in which I review the food found at the base of my driveway, usually attached to a newspaper. I'm sure you're thrilled. A week away from posting and he comes back with a story of eating essentially garbage? Oy vey!

Item #1: Kellogg's™ All-Bran™ Fiber Drink Mix Pink Lemonade
Everyone knows that print is dead and that the only people reading the Sunday paper are old geezers and people like me who really enjoy reading the funnies. Kellogg's also knows this and figures that if old people can be counted on one thing, it's irregularity. I guess that's not a condemnation of old people, more of a comment on our general society as moving to the fast food nation we've become has made us nigh allergic to vegetables. Kellogg's only has your health, and the health of your colon at heart hence the All-Bran Fiber Drink mix, a powder you mix into water to give you a tall, refreshing glass of digestive aid. As drink mixes go, it's OK. It's got a vaguely chemical taste to it that causes you to have to really choke down those last few gulps, however if it's this or spending the weekend on the toilet trying to pass those Angry Whoppers you spent the week eating, I'd say go with this one. Looking at the list of ingredients, I have no idea what the hell is in this stuff that can give you 40% of your daily fiber needs, but I do know that you're not going to want to mistake this for the pink lemonade at your next garden party. Well, not without stocking up on toilet paper first. 2 Magic Driveways out of 5.

Item #2: Fiber One Chewy Bars Oats and Chocolate
Fiber One apparently has access to the same demographic information that Kellogg's has and has also chosen your perusal of Saturday's sports results as a means of injecting more fiber into your lifestyle. In the interest of all honesty, I should point out that I have a huge box of these very same bars in my pantry as we speak. It's a well known fact that as you get older your metabolism slows down, but what people aren't so quick to point out is that your ability to eat nothing but raw meat and then crap out a dumpster lessens as well. Plus, if you're looking to lower your cholesterol, taking in enough fiber is a good way to do it, or so my doctor told me many moons ago when my cholesterol was a wee bit too high. These bars are a good way to eat like crap on the weekend, when I'm forgoing my usual fiber rich cereal, and still maintain some semblance of digestive health. The tagline of the bars is "Cardboard, no. Delicious, yes." and while these bars certainly don't taste like cardboard, they require as much chewing as one would need were they to eat an entire cardboard box. Oats may be lots of things, but "melt in your mouth" smooth ain't one of them. That being said, they're not bad. There's enough chocolate there to make things interesting and they're pretty filling so not only do you get your fiber but you're probably less inclined to go eat something else. In the end, we all win. Well, except for those that have to share a bathroom with you. They certainly lose. 4 Magic Driveways out of 5.

Item #3: MultiGrain Cheerios
Isn't it odd how Cheerios can really stink up a pantry? I mean, have you ever opened up a box of Cheerios and taken a big whiff? Not pleasant. Yet, despite the odor, we give these things to kids like they're the last food on the planet. Supposedly it's because toddlers can pick them up easily and eat them, which could be said for rabbit droppings as well, with the only difference being that the droppings would probably smell better. I stopped eating Cheerios once I became responsible for my own cereal choices and decided that I could cut out the middle step of ladling on four cups of sugar to make the fucking things remotely palatable and just buy the real life equivalent of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. The fine folks at Cheerios decided to mix things up by throwing in all sorts of multiple grains and the barest hint of sugar. The cereal was OK, but nothing I'd buy for myself. My daughter seems to like them, so I guess they're a big hit with kids who can't take less than half an hour to chew a noodle, but your results may vary. Hey, Cheerios people, perhaps the feeding aversion demographic is an untapped market for you. I can see the slogan now, "It's us or the feeding tube. MultiGrain Cheerios." You can attach your samples to the copies of Highlights delivered to the Gastroenterologist's office. 1.5 Magic Driveways out of 5.

Item #4: Gillette Men's Shampoo
Yeah, I know this isn't a food product, but that didn't stop me from almost eating it. Hey, when it's early and you haven't had your coffee and you're used to having food stuck to your paper, opening the bag up to find shampoo and what looks like pomade is enough to throw anyone for a loop. Personally, I always thought it was silly that women had so many different types of shampoo, but at the same time, my wife does a hell of a lot more to her hair every morning than I do. The fine folks at Gillette, not satisfied to be making Mach 19 razors that you can strap to your back and ride to work once you're done shaving with them, decided that men needed to have multiple shampoo options as well and came up with their own line of products designed to be no better than the hand soap you find in the rest stop bathroom. These kinds of products are wasted on me as I try to keep my hair barely longer than the hair on my face, and if it gets blown dry it's because I walked under a heat register while the furnace was going. I'm on to you Gillette. Save your fancy hair care products for all those Metrosexuals in New York City. Here in horse country, I wash my hair the old fashioned way with mud and pig's blood. The gravel is a wonderful exfoliate. I'll save the shampoo for the next time I'm traveling so that I don't get arrested by Homeland Security for carrying too much soap, but the pomade I threw right out. I'm sure I'll regret that decision should I get warped back to 1959 and have to ask my mom to the spring formal, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. 0 Magic Driveways out of 5.

That's it for now. Tune in next time for when I review the dead squirrel that wasn't a sample, but just happened to get hit by a car and land on my paper. Tangy, with a slight hint of vulcanized rubber.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On Mastering Noodles

Yesterday my daughter mastered noodles.

As I'm sure that makes no sense to any one, it means that yesterday, my four year old managed to consistently eat a third of an egg noodle, chewing and swallowing it in under 30 seconds.

We're so proud.

That last part was supposed to be sarcastic.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that we're making progress, a happiness that was dimmed right after the aforementioned noodle mastery when she promptly gagged on a corn kernel. That would be one, singular piece of corn.

I guess I'm just bitter. We've been working on this for so long, bouncing from doctor to doctor, trying all sorts of things and all we have to show for it is mastery of eating noodles, which, by the way, will probably promptly fly right out of the window once we start doing it at home. I know that these things take time, but seriously, we're going to be doing this for ever. For. Ever.

At least we have the positive side effect benefit of her bringing older foods back into her repertoire, which is nice. She ate a sandwich on Sunday, and I can't tell you the last time that happened. Still, back to me being bitter, the progress isn't exactly progress as she's eating things that she used to eat. I know that I should be thrilled, but I'm basically tired and grumpy about the whole thing.

You know, the usual.

I'm sure that my mood will lighten once she starts adding more and more things. I know that there will come a day when I can just put a plate of food in front of her and she'll eat it without any drama but that day is so far removed from my ability to imagine it, that it might as well end with me donning my jetpack and flying off to the space monkey farm.

That being said, I'm very much looking forward to that day because hey, space monkeys.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year fellow Earthlings! For those of you beaming in from Zelbarg, Happy Day of Ultimate Exfoliation! That's a loose translation. The Zelbargians don't have a proper skin, so it's kind of hard to come up with a direct parallel in our Earth Speech. Regardless, those Zelbargians will be getting down with some pretty hot and heavy mitosis tonight, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.


Seriously though, I hope that your holiday season was a good one and that you did whatever you wanted to, or got whatever you wanted or generally was pleased with the outcome of whatever holiday shenanigans you take part in. Hopefully that's vague enough to cast a net over all possible positive outcomes from the past two weeks. Bonus if you got laid. Extra bonus if it was with someone that you wanted to get laid with. Get laid on? What the hell is the right preposition for that proposition?

Ok, I'm rambling.

2008 was a pretty good year from me. I lost 20 pounds and kept both of my jobs as well as my spouse. Any one who has spent an appreciable amount of time with me would understand just how much of a chore it can be to persist in my presence, so the fact that both my place of employment and my wife decided to stick with me for another year are big, big wins. GameShark is similarly enthused with my work, despite my pathological need to separate every other word with a comma, and a complete and utter refusal to learn the rules for "it's" and "its". It's not that I don't know the rules. I just feel that rules are for lesser writers.

Other than continued health for all, the only thing I really want out of 2009 is progress towards Abby's laundry list of problems. 2008 was a very frustrating year as we bounced from doctor to doctor, all in the pursuit of getting her to eat and to stop biting other children. I know that these are seemingly at odds with each other, but we're not interested in raising a cannibal here. The end of the year appeared to bring major progress in that it appears that she can't be at a normal daycare center and instead needs to be enrolled in a special education class offered by the county, complete with door to door short bus service. This is good for a number of reasons, namely that we won't have to pay for private daycare any longer and I can make retard jokes with impunity. Tee-hee-hee. We're still not sure what's going on, nor do we have any idea what happens in the summer when schools are closed (her class would be part of the county school system) if "normal" daycare isn't an option, but hopefully we'll learn all of these things soon.

She has been eating more, which is good, especially given that we've been paying out of pocket for the therapy sessions. For the record, Cigna is still the shittiest health insurance company ever, and if you work for Cigna, even as a janitor, I hope your dick falls off. If you're a woman, I hope that you grow a dick and that it then falls off. Abby still hasn't added any new foods to her repertoire, but trust me, her adding old foods back in is significant progress. Maybe by the end of the year, she can chew and swallow half of an egg noodle in under 5 minute's time. This too would be progress. No bullshit.

For all of you, I hope that 2009 is the year that all of your dreams come true, or at least, the shattering of so many dreams that accompany us all as we grimly march towards death is kept to a minimum.

A pony would also work.