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Sears Tower Glass Walkout

Sears Tower Glass Walkout
"The Ledge" 1350 feet above the street in Chicago's Sears Tower

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raising your children on the internet

My little girl is online. She's not tweeting, nor texting, nor facebooking or anything like that. But I taught her how to use a mouse a few months ago, and now she's a real pro at it. 2 1/2, and she's using a mouse...who hoo!!!

She's got a handful of websites that she likes, and after playing only a few weeks is now a pro at navigating, closing screens, opening new ones, and somehow, she now knows how to add.

That blew my mind...my little girl seems to have figured out addition, and now subtraction. I would be beaming with self pride, but the only problem is that I didn't teach her that.

I taught her numbers, but the internet taught her to add them together. I swear, here's the link to the game that she learned with. I guess I have to share some credit with the internet this time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks1bitesize/numeracy/numbers/index.shtml

Gotta share credit with Grandma for sending the website also

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Second Dump!

She did it again yesterday, her second dump.

My feelings are still a little hurt over no one wanting to see the first result...but oh well...

She went in the potty chair...or on top of it anyway. I think she got a little excited to see it, and stood up before it was out. Oh well...it was great.

Not even 2 years old, and already getting the potty thing.

Otherwise, it's just been more of the same lately. More words, more sentences that actually make sense, more of us being amazed at how much she remembers.

I asked her if she remembered the museum in NYC 2 weeks ago...she said yes. I asked if she remembered the gorillas we saw, she said "stuffed". She remembers seeing the stuffed gorilla. She must remember the dissapointment when she stared at the gorillas for a half hour and they didn't move an inch.

We were in Meijer today getting some paint, and she pointed at a mounting bracket for their computer screen and said "Bobby's House". Sure enough, the bracket is pretty much the exact one that is at Bobby's house. I never would have drawn that connection.

Then, as we were waiting for the incompetant worker to mix the paint, she started saying Bobby's House again. I kept saying I know Alex...I know. She then grabbed by head and turned it across the aisle...pointing me directly at the beer coozy that...sure enough...Bobby uses to keep his beer cold.

This both makes me proud, and worries the hell out of me. I'm quite the unobservant one, and my memory will often fail me like someone in an old age home...and my almost 2 year old is picking out details and drawing connections I would never make.

Whoo...maybe spending the last 6 months doing nothing with my day but cramming as much as I could fit into my daughter's head is eventually going to backfire on me. Perhaps I'm going to raise a kid smarter than I am.

Who hoo...Superdad!

I guess my wife should probably get some credit too...but, I'm egotistical and she isn't, so be it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New York City

It was time for our little girl to meet the big apple. We figured, if she could make it there she could make it anywhere...it's up to you, New...nevermind.

Quite a step up from our fortress in the woods, far from any city life. We live in a city where if there are 2 cars waiting at the red light (either one) it's considered gridlock.

It was quite overstimulating for her...so much to look at, so many people, so many bus and train and boat rides. It took several days for her head to stop spinning.

We started out by taking a subway ride to the Staten Island Ferry. If you're going to New York, this is a definite must. It's a free ferry, and gives you some amazing views of the Manhattan skyline, New Jersey, Brooklyn, and of course the Statue of Liberty. Also, it was the only time all week that we weren't sweating like pigs, because you get a nice misty breeze from New York harbor.

Staten Island is kinda cool...like one big suburb. We walked around a little, and saw the 9/11 memorial with all of the people from Staten Island who were killed. Pretty neat.

We then headed up Broadway to Wall Street, checked out the NYSE and all those banks (many of which are still open). We were getting hungry, so we wandered into Chinatown for some food. I'm thinking most of the restaurants there cater to actual Chinese people, and they all were cash only. So instead, we walked into Little Italy for dinner. Found a great spot, mostly great because they had air conditioning...did I mention it was like a swamp in NYC?

We figured enough for one day...and hopped on a bus back to New Jersey. Alex loved the tunnel...and she crashed pretty hard.

The second day, we went to see the World Trade Center...and we were horribly dissapointed to find out it wasn't there anymore. What happened??? kidding...but it wasn't all that spectacular...a big hole in the ground. They're already rebuilt World Trade Center 7, very nice building.

We then headed over to the East Village, and walked past Katz's Deli (where Harry met Sally) and went to a bodegah grocery store because I had heard ravings about their deli. Note to the wise...always listen when people rave, because we had some world class sandwiches. I had the pho real, and Susan got a bbq chicken kimchee hero. We took our lunch to a small park and let Alex blow off steam while we feasted. A huge moment of jealousy overcame me when I found out that not only was this awesome deli open 24/7, but they also delivered sandwiches and beer at 4:30am if you were so inclined.

I gave the rest of my sandwich to a homeless guy...and he literally ate it with his whole face. Wasn't that nice of me?

We toured the East Village, I was kinda dissapointed there were no freaky looking people walking around, but oh well. We went to Washington Square Park and let Alex blow off some more steam on the swings, and they even had some kiddie toys for everyone to share. Probably some heiress (it's a wealthy neighborhood) left her kid's toys there.

We also saw a rude and filthy homeless woman throw half a hot dog into the fountain. I wanted to chase her down and make her pick it out...there were kids playing in the fountain that she decided should double as her trash can. What a pig!

We then made it to Rockefeller park while we waited for Nobu to open. Another nice park, right on the NJ waterfront.

Nobu was incredible. It's Robert DeNiro's restaurant...not quite a sushi joint but kinda. I had some Kobe beef (wow!) and some shrimp and Susan got some beef skewers...Alex had rice and some other goodies we had store away.

After a quick tour of Soho, we wandered our way back to Chinatown and found a fruit stand selling mutant grapes. These things were the size of plums, so we had to buy some for Alex. She loved them! That was enough for one day, so back to NJ for some sleep.

We then wanted to hit Coney Island, but first though we should get a bagel. I picked what was considered one of the best places in NYC for bagels, Essa-Bagel. I was right...holy cow, I'm so jealous of New Yorkers...imagine being able to eat like this every day! Outstanding bagels!!!

We walked past 30 Rockefeller (NBC) on our way back to the subway. We saw Hota Kotb from the today show (my wife recognized her). 30 Rock is cool, but since I have a wife who isn't fond of heights, we skipped the skydeck.

On the way to Coney Island, we went to the Brooklyn Heights promenade....awesome view of Manhattan!

Coney Island is quite cool...we went to the Nathan's Famous for a real Coney Island hot dog (Detroit does a damn good immitation I must say). Nathan's is good...not quite Layfayatte Coney Island, but damn good.

We walked the boardwalk, and decided that we should hit the beach since it was a little warm...ok, it was horribly hot and humid I must remind you. We went to what we thought would be the changing room, and then the dry heaves hit. It was disgusting, it smelled like a hot pile of pig shit with some limberger cheese melted on top. Instead, we opted to try changing on the beach (unlike the family of 35 who just decided to drop trou in the middle of the board walk...i'm not kidding, there were naked children everywhere.

We quickly changed Alex on the beach, and then it was our turn. My wife amazed me (and dissapointed me a little) that she could change her clothes under a towel and not expose herself a bit. I wasn't so good at it (Jeff, your _____ is hanging out, I can see your ____).

After we got our suits on, we took our little girl into the water. We would have preferred she walk, but apparently sand is too dirty for her, so she was carried. She also couldn't walk very well in the water, becuase the beach is littered with clam shells. I cut my feet up a little, so she had an excuse. Once we got in the water, she loved it.

As I was working on a massive sand castle for Alex to destroy, her and Mommy went over to a playground on the beach. They came back about 20 minutes later, upset because some "dumb boy" was throwing sand on the slide, and threw it into Alex's eyes. Oh boy, I was pissed off. So I grabbed Alex and went back to the playground. I think I scared the crap out of the "dumb boy"...no, I didn't drown the kid like I wanted to...but simply stared him down and told Alex not to worry about this "dumb boy". We didn't have any further problem with "dumb boys". I told Alex that Daddy would probably be scaring dumb boys away from her for the next 20 years...but luckily she still appreciates my help.

After we were all tired and had sand in many unmentionable places, we decided to get a coke and walk around a little more. We decided that Alex should ride some kiddie rides, but first there was a ferris wheel calling our names. It was quite the ferris wheel, some of the cars actually slid on tracks and swung as it was moving. I was astounded when Susan picked one of those cars rather than the stationary ones. Did I mention that she doesn't like heights all that much?

The ride was fun until the car slid and swung...it was no joke, they really move a lot. I have fingernail marks on my arm from Susan grabbing me...and since Mommy was scared, Alex was terrified. I quietly reminded Susan that if she pretended to enjoy it, Alex would be less scared. So as she was locked up in terror, she managed to let out a wheee! After going around twice, the ride was over, much to my dismay and the girls' relief. I'm proud of my girls for facing their fears.

Then we decided that kiddie rides were probably more appropriate, so Alex rode the carousel a few times (loved it). She also rode the dizzy dragons twice, liked them at first but then probably got a little nauseous. She rode the choo choo (boring) and rode the whale ride with Daddy. She liked that one, up and down, up and down. She even rode the little car ride by herself, and I think the operator let her go around twice.

She was pooped, so we gave away the rest of our ride tickets and boarded the train. We were on our way to Di Farra's Pizza in Brooklyn, which was supposed to be one of the best in the world. Apparently, they're so good they don't need to be open on Monday or Tuesday...a fact that escaped Daddy. Oh well, we made our way back to Broadway and got some pizza there...which was quite good.

Enough for one day...back to NJ.

We then decided to do the shopping tour...we walked past a ton of high end stores, and then took our little girl to FAO Schwartz. It's a huge toy store, and Alex was literally screaming running in circles looking at all of the toys. She found a huge stuffed frog that she loved, she loved the dolls, and we had to pry her away from the one that we let her hold. They were a little expensive for my taste.

She was astounded by the train set they had set up...she kept making her way back to watch the choo-choo's. Something tells me that there's a train set in her future. `
She got to walk on the big piano (see the movie Big) and loved it, and after 2 hours we had to get her out of there or she was going to have a seizure.

The next day, we got another bagel from Essa-Bagel, which was again incredible. We then went to the Natural History Museum. Alex got to see all kinds of dinosaur skelatons, and Susan and I got to see some anthropology stuff while she napped in her stroller. Once she woke up, we went and saw some stuffed animals (she didn't want to leave the gorilla exibit) and we left.

Then, feeling a little hungry, we decided to go shopping at Zabar's Deli. This place is a foodie paradise. We picked up a baguette, some spicy salami, some percuitto, some regular salami, some cheese (including a brie wheel for $0.99, couldn't pass it up). To top it all off...we got a pastrami and corned beef sandwhich from their deli. We also went across the street where they were selling very good wine out of a cardboard box. It was better than any wine I ever drank from a box.

We took our feast to Central Park and found a nice spot on the grass for our picnic. I sat there overwealmed by all the great food and blue with jealousy again because New Yorkers can eat like this every day.

After our 2 hour picnic, we rented a row boat and Daddy rowed us around the lake in Central Park. It was very relaxing (especially if you were not rowing). We saw some lady feeding the turtles, hundreds of them, against the law but she said they only give her warnings.

We also saw the Dakota apartments...which is where John Lennon was shot and killed. Very sad...all I can say.

It was our last night in New York, and none of us wanted to go back to New Jersey yet. We walked down Broadway, past all the lights and shows...saw the Letterman building, The Lion King...all of that. Maybe next time we'll do some shows but figured Alex was too young to sit still for hours. We made our way to Times Square...I wondered to myself what the electric bill would cost for one month...

We made our way to 42nd street, and we were starting to get a little hungry...I thought we could probably find something near Grand Central Station, so on we walked. Luckily, we walked past The Original Soupman (the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld) and we had to try some. The people working there were not as mean or strict as the show, but the soup...omg...we shared a pint of crab bisque. I have honestly not had any soup that good in my life, nor as expensive (15 bucks for a bowl of soup). Alex was being adorable for the guys working there, so they gave her a free ice cream cone (it was Hagen-daas) Wow...made her day.

We made it to Grand Central...very impressive inside and out. They have the entire zodiac painted on the ceiling. We kept walking and made it all the way to the United Nations building. We were about pooped, so it was back to Grand Central for a shuttle to the bus station, and on our way back to New Jersey. Alex said bye bye Nyork City as we drove away for the last time.

Man...what a week. There were so many things we didn't get to do...but the good news is that now we have a reason to go back.

Don't visit New York without getting a bagel from Essa, without getting a sandwich from Sunny and Annie's and Zabars, and without taking a row boat in Central Park.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Big Girl

Just got back from a trip to New York City...which I'll talk about later...but when we got back we decided it was big girl time.

I figure getting back from vacation away from home is a good time to start some new things with her.

The main point here, is getting the buh-buh (pacifier) away from her. She was dangerously addicted to that thing, and just like cigarettes for me on my 30th birthday, cold turkey was the best way to go about it. I had my last cigarette forever on 11:55 pm on my 30th birthday.

Alexandra had her last buh-buh in the car ride Monday afternoon, then we took it away forever.

The buh-buh is for babies, and my little Alex is a big girl as of Monday.

She's doing ok without it today (4 days cold turkey). Going to bed was a 20 minute screaming experience Monday night..but today it was less than 5. In the car, it doesn't get to screaming...but she still likes to remind us that she would like the buh-buh if we were so inclined.

She hasn't really minded, because Monday began a whole new life for her. She now eats at the table with Mom and Dad, rather than the plastic tray that accompanies her booster seat. She also got an old painting ladder, to pull up to the counter and help Mom or Dad cook dinner. She loves helping us, kinda scary.

She also gets to use a stool to wash her own hands in the kitchen sink. She's getting better, but still prefers to wash one hand at a time. I keep telling her, her hands need to use the buddy system, but she apparently doesn't quite get it...

Alex is also starting to use the potty chair, and has taken her first pee and her first dump in the potty. Who hoo! No offense little one...but I'd like to stop wiping your butt. Get on it (bullwhip crack)

I'm starting a poll...I have a picture of Alex's first dump...would anyone like to see it?

I think this was a good idea...get rid of the baby habit at the same time that you get more grown up priveledges. Genius idea if I do say so myself (although I think my wife actually thought of it...)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Damn Jets...

For some reason...the Air Force likes to play with their million dollar toys in my backyard. We live in the middle of the woods along the Ohio River Valley, so I guess it's acceptable for them to zoom around over my house.

Now my little girl is not a very big noise person. She's terrified of loud noises. I guess for once I can accept a little bit of blame for that, since as I said we live in the middle of nowhere. We never listen to loud music, don't talk too loud, and really never got Alex used to noises early enough.

So the jets screaming through the Ohio Valley have always terrified her...and coincedentially since they like to do this around naptime...cost her a lot of sleep.

It's always been a little bad, but then we decided to attend the Detroit Hyrdoplane race. She was a little scared of the boats at first, but since she got to watch them splash water everywhere, she soon was ok with the noise.

Then they decided that it was time for the Air Force flyby. Oh joy...but wait, there's more. They decided that this time, they should fly by at mach 1, so everyone can experience the fun of feeling their chest cave in for a sonic boom.

Assholes!

They scared the living daylights out of her. She's traumatized now, perhaps forever, because they decided to take the multi-million dollar toys I bought them (I'm still waiting for my ride) and blow my daughter's eardrums out.

Now it's more than just a little whimper and a scared look when jets do their almost daily flyby...now it's a terrified run to Mommy or Daddy with tears and a ghost white panic face.

Thanks guys

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Powerpoint Slides

I spent some time in corporate America, and one thing I learned was how to operate Powerpoint. It's a useful tool when selling your soul in the corporate meat grinder...it keeps you on point in front of people so your conscience doesn't take over...otherwise you might actually tell the truth.

Powerpoint has also proven to be a useful tool in teaching my little one her numbers and letters. I spent so much time getting her to read her flashcards, that I didn't stop to think that she wasn't reading the whole word, just the big letter in the middle of the card. Thanks, Mom, for pointing that one out. As a result, my little girl thought that the letter A always meant Apple, B meant Bee, and so on. Oh well.

I made a powerpoint slideshow with 26 slides, each slide had one capital and one lowercase letter, in 400 point font, and in bold red letters. The first slide had Aa, the second Bb, and so on. I also recorded my own voice on each slide, saying the letter on the slide. I set the slideshow up to change the slide using the space key, and to wrap so the show goes on and on.

Sometimes she'll hit the button and wait for the audio, sometimes she'll just hold the space and let it loop the alphabet over and over. Either way, she's learning the alphabet and it's something that she likes doing. She asks me to play "letters game".

Oh, and before you suggest, I also did it with numbers as well. I have the number, a bunch of red dots for each number, and my voice saying the number. She's got up to 20 pretty well down, and she can count from 1 to 12 without the slide show running. I also had mom do the same except in French (she's teaching both of us French now).

If you would like, shoot me an email at minsterhol@gmail.com and I'd be happy to email you these files for use with your own kids.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bonk

Man, tonight was a bad night. My poor little girl had her first head bonk. She's ok, cried for a minute (an especially long time for her to cry) and was quite shaken up for a half hour or so.

Baby, seems she's doing fine. Parents...maybe not so much.

I feel terrible, I should have been there to make the diving catch. I'm supposed to be superdad, and man did I drop the ball today. I feel awful that I turned to use the laptop...and not for a noble function, no, it was to look up whether or not a KFC we're going to frequent next week is a buffet or not.

Great Dad I am, I put the Colonel and his damn 11 herbs and spices ahead of my daughter's safety. I was more concerned about increasing my saturated fat content than acting as an airbag for the tile floor...luckily we bought a large area rug just for this purpose.

Maybe I am a decent Dad after all, at least I knew eventually my little baby would bonk her head, and bought this rug to cushion the blow.

Actually, my wife bought it, but at least I carried it in from the car.

She's probably going to have a rough day tomorrow, not only because of the bump on her head and cheek, but also because she's going to have Dad not letting her climb a stair, put on her shoes, or let her eat with any utensils save her hands for fear that she might get hurt.

I think I feel a headache coming on...perhaps it's sympathetic...or more probably because i actually banged my head on the same floor to try and recreate the sound to see how hard she hit. You bet, I don't lie, I actually did that. It's not the first time I've done it either.

Man, now I'm going to have to teach my little girl calculus this week just so I can feel like a decent Dad. Overcompensate...that's how I roll.