# The Lydster, Part 73: The Health Report

A bunch of pictures from last fall. The reason I don’t use a digital camera is the very real likelihood that I would lose it. I took these on a one-use camera, then lost it, then recently found it.

In any case, Lydia is 4’2″ (50 inches) and 70 pounds. She’s over the 97th percentile for her height and her weight. She’s very active. Not only does she take ballet once a week, but she dances in front of the TV to the music of her favorite TV shows. Usually it’s quite graceful, though the thing she was doing to one particular song from the Backyardigans looked more like thrash dancing.

She loves to run. In a 50-yard race, she will beat me because she has great acceleration; eventually, I can catch her, but it is by using maximum effort. She’ll race me up the stairs and always beat me, but to be fair to me, she usually has the inside track.

She has various and sundry allergies, some seasonal, others year-round. She takes Zyrtec practically daily, plus her fluoride and vitamin, and other medicines seasonally, as needed. She was tested again, and she’s still allergic to peanuts; she’s never been allergic to tree nuts, but we have to avoid them too, since they tend to be processed in the same location.

She lost her eighth (or is it her ninth?) baby tooth this week, and has one adult tooth (top center). I must say that the Tooth Fairy is WAY more generous with her than she was with me.

As I’ve noted she’s doing well in school. Initially she fretted that she wasn’t ready – the source of the glum look (above) is that this was the first day of school back in September – but now she loves it.

I generally help her with her homework. Recently, he had to add coins, two quarters, and she guessed 51 cents. I explained that if 5 plus 5 equal a number ending in zero, than any two numbers each with the last digit of 5 added together would end with zero. She hugged me and said, “Thank you for showing me that, Daddy!” She REALLY loves to learn. The curse of being the child of a teacher and a librarian, I suppose.

EDIT: Found picture.

ROG

# No, I'm NOT Doing Kill Your TV Week

The annual tradition of encouraging people to forgo their television viewing is upon us again. Frankly, I had forgotten this until my wife sent an e-mail.

Have you thought about how much TV you have watched this year? I think you will be surprised to see the statistics on this web site. For example the number of hours the average youth spends watching TV in a year is 1500 hours! YIKES!

National Turn off the TV week begins today. See if you can challenge yourself and your children to “turn off” to TV and “turn on” to reading!

This is all well and good. The problem is this: I LIKE TV. I don’t get to watch it all that often, sharing it with The Wife and the Daughter. Not that the Daughter watches it all that much either. She watches maybe 15 minutes in the morning, when she’s getting her hair done, then less than a half hour at night when she takes her medicines, including using her nebulizer. The average youth may watch over 1500 hours a year, but our youth sees less than 300. And all of it, on PBS Kids and Nick, Jr. with some legitimate educational content; I’m actually all right with that. In fact, in honor of Earth Day, Nick, Jr. is going to have a series of new shows on the topic which I had recorded for her.

So when the Wife came home Monday night and said to the Daughter, “Hey, how would you like it if I read you a story while you nebulize instead of watching TV,” and the Daughter frowned and said, “I don’t want to do that,” I was a bit sympathetic to the Daughter. I told the Wife that she had to sell the concept. So, a half hour later, AFTER I HAD WATCHED THE NEWS, BTW, the Wife repeated what she said before. The Daughter said, “Daddy doesn’t want to stop watching his news, does he?” Well, no, actually he does not.

By “selling it”, I mean to find the key to MOTIVATE the Daughter not to want to watch TV. There was this article a book review, really, in TIME magazine a couple months ago. Regarding Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the piece begins: “Whether you’re a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath–authors of the best-selling Made to Stick–survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works.

“Lesson No. 1: tell people what you want them to do in a way that will make intuitive sense to them.” Not watching TV, rather out of the blue, made no sense to her. She was going to get a story anyway before bed. Perhaps discussing how others were also doing this across the country, aligned with some reward, might have worked.

Besides, since I watch very little in real time with the DVR – even the news is taped – I don’t really want to give it up myself. Does no TV mean that we just fill up the DVR and watch more NEXT week? The DVR’s hovering around 50% full already.

In parenting, we really try to do the united front thing. But in this case, my heart simply wasn’t in it.

ROG

# The Lydster, Part 72: Lydia is Six

Here are some things about the daughter that I think I’ll remember forever, but fear that I will forget:

*She’s 50 inches tall, weighs at least 65 pounds. I can still lift her, though I prefer the over-the-shoulder method of transportation.
*She’s in kindergarten, going to school with the wife.
*I make her lunch four days out of five. She eats a cheese sandwich (sharp cheddar) on whole wheat bread, with the crust cut off. Every day. That’s what she wants. She’ll get carrot or celery sticks, fruit cup or apple sauce, pretzels or fig bars, and a juice.
*She has developed a bit of sweet tooth, but she’ll eat yogurt as often as ice cream, and seem to find them each acceptable.
*Her favorite cereal used to be Cheerios, but when she tried Froot Loops when we visited my mom in Charlotte in June, that was the only cereal she’d eat for about six months. Lately, she’s really into Life cereal.

*She was the fastest girl in her class this fall in the Apple Run, by a considerable margin.
*She dances to EVERYTHING – TV theme music, especially the outro. She’s taking ballet once a week, and she likes to choreograph her parents.
*Her favorite show is Martha Speaks (PBS), about a talking dog, though she’ll watch her Nick Jr. favorites such as the Backyardigans, Ni-hao Kailan, the Fresh Beat Band and the Wonder Pets.
*She hates it when I pretend I don’t remember her name, or make a variation on it. Yet she often makes a variation of MY name or title, and THAT’S funny.
*She doesn’t seem to have a single favorite book. Carol’s reading the Little House on the Prairie books to her, while she prefers that I read the Dr. Seuss books or other texts. She can read Green eggs and Ham herself; we tend to take turns reading it.
*She’s somewhat less shy than she was last year.
*She still covers her ears when she sees conflict on a TV show or movie.
*She’s lost at least seven teeth; I believe she ahead of schedule. And she’s gotten five back, four lower and one upper.
*Usually, I dress her in the morning and put on her pajamas at night, except Thursday night, which is my choir night.
*She’s increasingly more helpful, putting away her clean clothes in the drawer. she also has this system to pick out her clothes for the week.
*We bought her trucks and blocks and other gender-neutral items, and she still is more a girly-girl than I would have anticipated. She likes pink and purple. Someone in Salon was fretting about her girly-girl daughter, who to be fair is even moreso than Lydia. Lydia will wear pants.
But I guess I don’t fret about it. If she wants a Disney princess tent and sleeping bag for Christmas, I don’t object. I may cringe a little on the inside, but she is who she is.

I love the girl.

ROG

# The Lydster, Part 71: Hiding Less

Making her own kind of music

The daughter has had this habit of getting all shy, even around people that she has met repeatedly, such as folks in church choir and in church generally. We had hoped that she would outgrow this, and it seems to be starting to happen.

I wonder if it’s the ballet lessons she started taking last fall. Now, let me be very clear that Lydia taking ballet is strictly her idea. Her mother and I are rather agnostic on this issue; we certainly aren’t the kind of parents to push her into performing. The first time she mentioned it, it was merely talk, I think. But she persisted in asking, and now once a week for 45 minutes, she’s in a class with other girls of her age and experience. They had a “performance” a few weeks ago which I went to; it mostly involved showing a few positions and few moves, but it was a pleasant enough experience.

Coming in from the cold

The other experience that seems to have helped her in church choir. She and five other girls sang in front of the church just before Christmas. I would have bet money that she would have bailed, but not only did she stand there, she actually sang out.

It could just be greater security from going to kindergarten, but whatever it is, I’m in favor.

Time to go home – on the road again

ROG
First picture by Uthaclena
Other pictures by Sprylet

# The Lydster, Part 70: Remote Control

The daughter has learned how to use the remote control on the DVR. Neither her mother nor I showed her; she just picked it up by observation. She’s particularly fond of pausing or reversing her program so we can see something on her program that amused her, and thought she should share with her parents. Sometimes, I’m truthfully not all that interested, but it’s useful nonetheless to see how her mind works.

One time, I was in the kitchen, listening to, but not watching ABC News. She had wandered into the living room and was captivated by this graphic that showed how it snowed so much somewhere in the upper Midwest that it would bury a car. The graphic of the increasingly covered vehicle fascinated her. And she needed to share; it was sorta interesting.

Actually, I need to be more mindful when she’s around and I have control of the remote, trying to catch up on the news. There was a recent story about a drone strike that killed 20 people; fortunately, there were no graphics. She was drawing something and I didn’t think she was paying attention. Still, she asked me, “Daddy, were they all bad people?” After thinking, “Oh, crap,” I said, honestly, “Well, probably not,” which seemed to satiate her for the moment.

Another time, I didn’t think she was paying attention was while I was watching the 11 January JEOPARDY!, almost certainly after 11 January.
FACTS & FIGURES \$1200: Researchers have found more than 40,000 of the dust type of these microscopic bugs in 1 ounce of mattress.
She turns to me and says, “Dust mites!” She didn’t reply in the form of a question, but she was correct. This pleased me greatly.
***
She knows I blog about her and as I was musing about what to write. She suggested that I tell that Sunday morning, she wrote notes saying “I love you”, and put them on her mother’s and my pillows. OK, I’ll write that.

ROG

# MOVIE REVIEW: Fly Me To the Moon

I told someone recently that we had never taken our daughter to a movie in an actual movie theater. This was inaccurate, a function in part, of the fact that I never blogged about it.

Actually, it was August 2009, right after the wife had (thankfully) returned from her intensive two-week college experience. the three of us went to Schenectady to one of the theaters in the Proctors complex, the GE Theatre. There we saw a 3-D movie from the summer of 2008 called Fly Me To The Moon. And yes, Sinatra, or a Sinatra soundalike, does sing that familiar theme.

The story was about three young bugs who wanted to go to the moon, hitching a ride with these guys named Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who looked, BTW, almost exactly alike, even without of their space helmets. Of course, the youngsters don’t bother tell their mothers about their trip, who only discover their sons’ mischief after they see them on television. The small travelers experience mild peril but (hardly a SPOILER in this type of film) make it back home safely.

The voicework is done by name stars such as Tim Curry, Robert Patrick, Nicollette Sheridan, and Ed Begley Jr., with Kelly Ripa and Adrienne Barbeau as a couple bug moms, and Christopher Lloyd as a bug grandpa.

The bad news is that it’s a pretty dopey story with minimal animation techniques. It was painful to watch the real Buzz Aldrin at the end of the film explain to the audience that there were really no insects in space, let alone on the moon, in 1969. The good news is, given those limitations, the 3-D effect wasn’t half bad, with bugs “flying towards us” at times. At least once the bugs were “flying from behind us” and toward the screen, and I instinctively shooed an insect away.

The mixed news was that it was short, maybe 50 minutes. At \$8 a pop, it’s a bit pricey, but then it was pretty tame fare for the child’s first flick, so that was a plus.

Fly Me To the Moon must be a reasonably successful film at this venue, since it’s showing again every weekend in January 2010. I can’t recommend it, obviously, but it’s less painful than, say, root canal. And I’ve HAD root canal.
***
Oh, and when I misstated Lydia’s movie experience, I was asked if we have surround sound at home. Well, no, we STILL have that 1987 19″ GE color TV with no SAP or V-chip, which I turn on and off —ready for this? manually — and I am still NOT replacing it until it dies, I tell you, until it DIES.
ROG

# The Lydster, Part 69: LS's Oth Christmas

Three months before Lydia was born, I made a mixed CD for the child. We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl, so she was called Little Soul. Or more accurately, my wife’s friend Alison, who was in our wedding, dubbed her as such.

Anyway, the playlist is this, and for most of them I was able to find something on YouTube:

1. Mr. Sandman – the Chorettes. A song from the 1950s I always liked that I have on some compilation.
2. Lullabye (Good Night, My Angel) – Billy Joel. From his last proper pop album, River of Dreams. One of my favorite songs, even though, or maybe because, it has a certain melancholy.
3. Dreamland – Mary Chapin Carpenter, from her greatest hits album, Party Doll.
4. Good Night – the Beatles. From the white album, a Lennon tune sung by Ringo. I often sing it to Lydia before she goes to bed.
5. Lullaby for Sophia – the Beverwyck String Band. A lovely tune by our friend, violinist/vocalist Britney and a couple of her friends.
6. Alright for Now – Tom Petty. From my favorite Petty album, Full Moon Fever.
7. Sweet and Low – Bette Midler.(Starting at at 2:03)
8. All Through the Night – Shawn Colvin. The last two songs from some benefit album for the rain forest called Carnival, which also features Saint-SaĆ«ns’ Carnival of the Animals.
9. Common Threads – Bobby McFerrin. A song without words, a transition to the instrumental portion of the album.

Songs above are by the artist on the recording; below are not.

10. Brandenburg Concerto #5 Affectuoso – Bach.
11. Pachebel Canon. The last two by Neville Chamberlain & the English Chamber Music Orchestra.
12. Four Seasons: Autumn, adagio – Vivaldi.
13. Four Seasons: Winter, largo – Vivaldi.
14. Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven. Dubourg.
15. Fur Elise -Beethoven.

Now that she has her own boom box to go to sleep to, it’s in her pile of music to play. Not that she plays it as often as I had hoped, but I’m glad that she doesn’t seem to hate it.

ROG

# Stop. Breathe. Think.

One of the things I try to do each month is to take one day off from work on a day the wife and daughter are at school. This allows me to write slightly longer blog posts, while also allowing me to catch up on the newspaper and a TV show or two, a bit of “roger time” that just doesn’t usually happen during the week.

I had planned one of my days for Monday, November 30. I had a couple posts, including a movie review, I wanted to work on for the next two days.

Unfortunately, the wife decided the daughter was sick. Her temperature was up slightly, but I wasn’t convinced of her illness. In any case, I stayed home with her, because i have far more sick days available (140+) than my wife does.

I must admit that I was disappointed and frustrated. If she were home sick in bed, it’d be one thing. But this was a very active “sick” child, who wanted to play various games and wanted me to watch her TV shows with her.

As it turned out, I ended up watching an episode of Blue’s Clues – neither my favorite or my most loathed of her programs, seeing an episode called Blue is Frustrated. Boy, could I relate! (So can this woman.)

The message when you’re frustrated is to, well, it’s in the title. So I don’t post the movie review until the following Sunday – so what? The world didn’t end.

So, in answer to the question posed by Salon, Is my kids making me not smart?”, the answer has to be “no”.

And when I’m too busy, or feeling lousy, both of which are true this week, sometimes one just has to post pictures of cute kittens. I’ll just have to deal with that.

ROG

# The Lydster, Part 68: the North Pole

If you are one of those people who just cannot STAND hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, or December 1, or the first day of winter, then I highly recommend that you NOT visit Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY in mid-September, as our family did. Notice the Merry Christmas on the water mill.

Not only Christmas carols but parts of Messiah by Handel – “For Unto Us Is Born”, e.g. – as well. As the website says, it was “founded in 1949 and designed by Arto Monaco. We are known as the forerunner of present day theme parks in the United States.” And it most definitely felt like that, a pre-Disneyland theme park.

I must say that it was initially disappointing. It was not inexpensive (\$17-\$19 each) and many of the rides Lydia, at over four feet, was too tall to ride in. Of the two rides she could be on, she tried the (little) roller coaster (with me), and decided that she did not particularly enjoy it.Worse, a train that we ALL could have ridden through the park was closed for repairs.

Ultimately, what made it worthwhile for Lydia were the friendly clowns and animals and snowmen who performed musical bits periodically. It was a little schlocky – OK, it was a LOT schlocky – but it was earnest. There weren’t that many attendees to these mini-shows and the clowns, e.g., would always go to the performances of their costume-clad colleagues.

Ultimately, it was a successful visit because we had a nice getaway from our usual Saturday routine of cleaning and shopping and laundry.

And Lydia got to go to the North Pole! The pole is not some painted stick; it is actually made of ice. This was actually a thrill for my wife, who went to the North Pole when SHE was a child and feared the frozen pole had been turned into a plastic replica. No way!

I should tell you about this production of the Christmas story, told on the loudspeakers, with clearly young actors performing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Wise Men. Even from the distance – they were up the hill from the little amphitheater we were sitting in – you can tell that at least some of them were cracking up, though they tried to hide it.

But the high point in the trip for the child was Lydia playing on swings, playground equipment and this container of plastic balls she could wade in, things she could do on the local playground or the local McDonald’s. She had a good time, so we had a good time too.

ROG

# It Ain't Easy

Very few phrases fill me with dread and/or irritation as the response, “Oh, it’s EASY!” And it bugs me on two separate but related levels.

I had this colleague who was very smart but I don’t think she recognized her own intellectual gifts. When I would ask her for help, she’d say, “Oh, that’s EASY.” It was as though, if SHE could could do it, it must not be all that special. But, in fact, it was, and in her profession, she is now quite accomplished. It seems that she has recognized the value of her talent.

The other version is when a techie or someone doing something technical or mechanical says, “Oh, that’s EASY.” Implicit in this one is that “anyone” can do it it. Well, obviously, they don’t know ME. While I have mastered which end of the hammer is the one you generally hold, there is nothing in this arena that comes easily to me. If there are four ways to put something together, but only one correct way, you can be sure I will have tried at least two of the other three first. I have absolutely no innate spatial reference capacity.

And it also extends to my absolutely DREADFUL capacity for remembering names. I’ve tried all the tricks. Someone named Mr. Dole is wearing a pineapple shirt; I’ll remember him as Mr. Pineapple.

Now there ARE some things that I do do easily, but I don’t assume that others can, or should be able to do the same. I specifically remember 9th grade algebra, which I was rather good at (97 on the final – I’m also pretty good at remembering numbers generally). There was a particular problem that this kid Sid was trying to do on the board. The teacher was trying to explain it to him, but he just wasn’t getting it. Then she let me try, and the light bulb went on in Sid’s head.

What got me thinking about this was the daughter in kindergarten. She’s fairly smart. Her teacher is having the students spell out the words phonetically, and she knows most of her letter sounds. What happened last month was that she spelled the words incorrectly, of course, and burst into tears. Her mother and I had to emphasize the fact that English isn’t easy.

I mean I am a pretty good speller. A lousy typist but good speller – 100 on my 5th grade final (really) – but I don’t know if I ever knew WHY most words were spelled as they are. Why do “giant” and “jelly” have the same starting sound? Or “cat” and “kitten”? Or “school” and “skill”? The silent e has some rationale – long vowel sound – but what about the silent b in climb or silent g in gnu, the latter of which appears in one of her picture books?

She HAS mellowed since then, but does have a perfectionist streak that doesn’t seem to come from either her mother or me.

“Well all the people have got their problems
That ain’t nothing new” – It Ain’t Easy

It Ain’t Easy by David Bowie video. “Dedicated to The Big Easy with much love.” ROG