…because it was 68 degrees outside

17 08 2008

Being married to someone from the Caribbean is kinda cool.  No, it’s really cool.  I love Karen’s heritage and the culture of Trinidad.  And the food is pretty awesome too.  But here’s the thing.  In Trinidad they have a different definition of the word cold than we do here in the temperate zones.  Chilly in Trinidad is 70 degrees (21 Celsius).  Cold is anything below 70 degrees.  They wear jackets in Trinidad on chilly evenings.  Some even have electric blankets for when the nights drop below 70.  I, on the other hand, have trouble sleeping if the room is above 70 degrees.  So at home I turn the thermostat way up during the day and way down at night.  Karen has adapted to this for the most part, but the rest of her family isn’t so used to it.  During a visit in December I found her brother sleeping bundled up with a blanket and comforter as well as his winter coat and hat.

The good thing about Karen being pregnant during the summer is that she never complained about it being too cold in the house.  But she’s not pregnant any more, so it has returned.  And I thought she was finally adapting to the climate.  So when we had some unusual weather last week with rain, hail, and cooler temperatures, it took her (and us all) by surprise.  We took the kids to Borders one evening after it had finished raining, and Karen was shocked at how the temperature had dropped.  It was 68 degrees outside, and when Karen felt that cold Pennsylvania air she went and put on some long pants and long sleeves.  And since her motto is “If I’m cold then the baby must be cold,” she also found some warmer clothes for Nathaniel.

To be fair, he is less than a month old and this was one of our first outings with him.  But I thought it was pretty awesome to have him bundled up like that in August.

Guest Contributor: Book review by an 8-year-old

2 08 2008

I love Children’s fiction.  I love the Harry Potter books, I like Cornelia Funke, and I even read (and enjoyed) Eragon, even though the author was 17 years old when he wrote it.  And I’m thrilled that Isaac and Jonathan are getting old enough that we can start reading these stories together.  Last year I read James and the Giant Peach to them and we all had a great time.

I read The Tale of Despereaux last year (by myself), and while it had some suspense, I didn’t think it too scary for an 8-year old.  So I put it on the shelf and saved it for this summer.  After school let out I read it as a bedtime story to the now 8-year-old Isaac and 5-year-old Jonathan, and they begged for it every night.  I liked the fact that the author uses “big” words in the book.  Words like “perfidy.”  I’m not sure I knew what it meant before I read this book either.  I asked “Do you know what that word means?  What do you think it means?” a lot.

Here’s Isaac’s review:

My dad read me and my brother the Tale of Despereaux.  It is a story about a small mouse who saves a princess.  I think all my friends should read it too!  My favorite part is when Despereaux eats some soup.

Not bad for his first book review.

NEWS FLASH: During my search for links about the book I discovered that it’s being made into a movie, due out this Christmas.  Way cool.

A study in procrastination

24 07 2008

I’ve heard the grumblings.  “Where’s Mark gone?”  “Is he back yet?”  “What’s he up to now?”

Okay, maybe you didn’t care, but we have been busy.  More accurately, Karen has been busy.


Little boy #4 showed up on Tuesday morning, just before lunch.  Well, he didn’t just “show up,” he had to be forcibly cut from Mommy because Monday night he did a somersault and turned breech.  He’s the fourth child, the fourth boy, he had to be the first at something.  So he’s the first c-section.  Wonderful.  At least there’s not going to be a #5 (sorry Bennie) thanks to the other procedure they did Tuesday morning.

“Yeah, yeah, what’s his name?”  His name is Nathaniel.  After my contest I’m sure I had my mother in law worried that he’d never have a name.  And with good reason.  He didn’t have a name for the first 27 hours.  We introduced the boys to him that first night and told them “No, he doesn’t have a name yet.”  To be honest we probably won’t call him Nathaniel much.  He’s already been graced with a few nicknames.  I’ve been calling him Mr. Cheeks.

We finally brought home mom and baby on Thursday at lunchtime, and everyone is glad that they’re home.  Ben seems the happiest though.  Many posts later dealing with his reactions to baby brother.

And the winner is…

9 06 2008

This is where I post the results of my first ever giveaway. If you missed it, here it is.

After the first day I wasn’t sure what kind of a turnout there would be, but wow! This was awesome, and I was very pleased to see that I’m not the only one out there with a sadistic sense of humor. Thank you to everyone who participated, whether your suggestions were real or facetious (or both). The entries were so good that I must begin by honoring some that were awesome but didn’t win.

Honorable Mentions

Lauren was the early frontrunner. Not necessarily for the names, but she had by far the best stories. And her blog has the best tagline ever.

Bennie advertised my contest on his blog. That’s because he’s awesome like that, but then he went and made reference to “baby #5,” and that broke basically the only rule we had.

Karen’s Dad suggested Eddoes, which was the first food-related entry, and I thought it was brilliant. But if we’re talking Trinidadian heritage, wouldn’t Beddoe be a better name, in honor of the last stop for food and drink on your way to Maracas? And with three brothers he’s sure to be an “Uncle Beddoe” eventually.

Kristi suggested I.P. Freely, which was the only reference to those Bart Simpson crank calls that we love so well. I was secretly hoping for more entries like this.

But there can be only one winner, and as soon as I read Sandi’s culinary based entries, complete with alternate spellings, the contest was pretty much over.

And now for the winning entries (take your pick):

1. Gryll Marx
2. Char Broyel
3. Stayk Flambay
4. Ryyb I.
5. Sirloyn Stayk
6. Philay Menyon
7. Hoht Kwyzeen
8. Byrnt Dynner
9. Soopis Ezy
10. Weldon Berger

My personal favorite was Gryll Marx. Marx is close to Mark so I could call him Junior. Or would that be Joonyur?

This was a lot of fun. I’ll have to do another giveaway sometime, but I’m not having any more kids so it will have to be a different kind of contest.

Happy Birthday Jonny

5 06 2008

Jonathan was born with the greatest birthday in the world: The last day of school.  Tell me how sweet that is.

Jonathan is my kid who never stops.  Never stops what, you ask?  He never stops moving, never stops eating, never stops bothering Benjamin, never stops asking questions, and most of all, he never stops talking.

Jonny likes to draw pictures, color them in, and make up stories about them.  Mostly they’re about video games or Pokemon.  He’s always liked to bother Benjamin, squeezing his little arm to the point where he seems obsessive-compulsive about it.  But lately he’s really taken to helping out with Ben as well.  He’ll get toys for Ben when they’ve gotten away, and keep an eye on him when Mom or Dad are busy.  He’s done a lot of growing up this past year, and for that we are all grateful.

He even allowed a photo shoot on the eve of his birthday:

Actually it was two photo shoots.  The first set didn’t work out, so he let reluctantly put on the nice shirt again and, with bribery, let me snap away a second time.

Jonathan is way cool.  Happy 5.

My first Giveaway: Name my child.

1 06 2008

Following up my first ever book review, here’s my first giveaway. Selling out is cool!

No one believes that Karen and I haven’t even really discussed possible names for this baby we’re expecting in about eight weeks. We’ve been calling him “What’s-his-name.” Truth be told, we’re running out of boy names. But we’re also running out of time, and I don’t think he’d appreciate “Undecided” on his birth certificate. That’s where you come in.

So how about this for a contest: Name our child. And I’m not looking for just any names. Only funny or weird names will be accepted (I already know what my sister’s first entry will be). Names that raise eyebrows and contort the faces of strangers.  We’ve all heard them at one point or another. Here’s a photo of the babe to give you inspiration:

Put your entries in the comments section, and add as many as you like. Karen and I will look at the entries in a couple weeks and our favorite will be the winner.

For a prize Karen and I were going to let you pick one of our kids (excluding Benjamin, of course), but that news item about the guy trying to sell a kid on Craigslist took all the fun out of it. Apparently you can go to jail for it, even if you’re kidding.

So the prize for this contest will be Mario Batali’s recently published cookbook, Italian Grill. Just in time for summer. So come on people, do your worst.

ADDENDUM: Karen is demanding that I tell you all, in no uncertain terms, that we won’t really choose our baby’s name from your list. That part is fake, but the giveaway is real.  And if you wanted to suggest, you know, real names that could be fun too.

Ben is two today

1 05 2008

I thought of it myself

Well technically his birthday was Wednesday. It took me a while to come up with something to write, though, because at first I was kind of sad. Remembering back to what was happening in the days after Ben was born can be tough. We were glad to have the little guy around, but sad that he’d have to deal with these disabilities his whole life. And Ben is developing very slowly. But then I started looking through the pictures we’ve taken throughout the last year and it made me feel better. It’s very cool to look at where we’ve been and see how far we’ve come. So that’s what I’m going to do.

This is how small Benjamin was when he was first born:

Here he was a year later, on his first birthday:

Isn’t Mommy pretty?  Since his last birthday he’s learned to do a few new things. He’s started rolling over onto his belly by himself consistently.

He’s even started rolling around the room to get to toys.

He’s learned to hold onto things, like toys,










drumsticks (he also likes to play the drums),

and even his mic-key tube.

He’s even started bringing things to his mouth, which we think is very cool.

But the coolest of the cool is that he sits up by himself very well now, and he likes doing it.

I just need to work with him on his balance so that he can catch himself before listing over too far. There is a point of no return on that right side since he has no way to catch himself over there. In the past year we haven’t made a whole lot of progress with “mouth food,” but I like to attribute that to the fact that he’s been teething constantly since Thanksgiving.  Ben is interested in food, but it usually takes some convincing to get it near his mouth.

Happy Birthday Ben. We love you.

Do the laundry

14 04 2008

And when you’re done with that clean the fireplace.

Don’t superheroes get maternity leave?

10 04 2008

You could subtitle this post Disturbing Superhero Images, vol. 2
Here’s vol. 1 in case you’ve forgotten. I should really keep up to date on these things.

Jonathan has this Spider-man & Friends memory game. In this game you match the top half of the superhero to the bottom half. A very interesting concept and I’m sure this game is enjoyed most by the Marvel supervillians.

Well, upon close inspection of these playing pieces (because I have nothing better to do) I noticed something. The male superheroes like Spidey, Thing, and the Hulk are buff, with six pack abs and bulging muscles.

look at those abs!Flex the pecs!

Okay, so maybe Spider-man looks more like Fonzie. The girls, however, look 4-5 months pregnant. Here’s Spider-girl and Storm:

not so imposing…she’s supposed to fly, isn’t she?

Being married to a currently pregnant woman, I can truly say that it is indeed a super power. But not exactly in the crime fighting sense. More in the creating life sense. Karen’s other superpower is getting me to go get things for her.

Wasn’t an owl supposed to deliver this?

9 04 2008

This is how the letter reads when you’re accepted into a school of magic:

Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Yours Sincerely,
Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Here’s how the letter reads when you’re accepted into kindergarten at the Catholic school:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dinner,
Thank you for taking the time to allow your child to participate in the evaluation process for the 2008-2009 kindergarten program at [You don’t expect me to put the name of the school here, do you?]. Our evaluators are pleased to report that your child meets all the criteria to have a successful experience in our program for the coming school year.

In other words, congratulations, your child is qualified to enter kindergarten. Personally I’d rather have gotten the Hogwarts letter.