Day 50 – Snow day

Well, this certainly complicates things. Be safe and stay warm out there ya’ll!

Day 41 – Small victories

What a difference a haircut makes!

After a month or so of asking, begging, pleading, and insisting that Henry please, please, please, please, pretty please let Mommy cut that hair before it becomes a bonafide mullet…

Oh, who am I kidding? H-man and Stevie have both been sporting psuedo-mullets for a few weeks now.

But finally today, I managed to distract Henry enough with the iPad and offer the right kind of bribe (a strawberry Blow-Pop), and lo an behold he finally agreed to let me cut his shaggy hair.

He doesn’t even look like the same kid!

Now, I just gotta get Stevie’s hair taken care of and all will be right with the world again.

Day 31 – Dinner vibes

When Mom has to work late and we need an easy dinner. Runza for the win!

Oh, and Henry apparently knows a few lines from the movie Superbad.

Day 29 – Chronic Hypothermia

So, if you’re paying any attention at all to the weather here in the Midwest, you’ve likely heard that a Polar Vortex has settled over us. It’s Hoth cold out there folks, and we’re all bracing ourselves to see what unfolds. School closings and activity cancellations are pouring in. And there was a segment on tonight’s news to warn people of the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia.

The thing that alarmed me most?

I literally have every single one of those symptoms on a daily basis. Should I be concerned? Is there such a thing as chronic hypothermia? Or am I just getting old?

Day 28 – The Pothole Hotline

So with the exception of missing New York deep in my bones, I really enjoy living in Lincoln. I love its character, its history. It’s safe, affordable, and a really great place to raise kids. It’s a great little city, a fun college town.

But with all of that greatness comes a dark side, a lurking evil that threatens to destroy every man, woman, and vehicle–the curse of the potholes.

You know they joke in New York about the never-ending road construction, how there are always cones scattered around and lanes closed for repairs. But honestly, in a city like New York it makes sense. Take the amount of people, cars, trucks, busses, overall traffic in a city that large constantly punishing the roads and yeah, you’re going to need steady maintenance and repairs. But somehow, it all makes sense. There is noticeable progress. Things eventually get fixed, and stay fixed for a reasonable amount of time.

In Lincoln, it makes no sense, ever. At any given time, you’ll find numerous main roads closed for repair, often all at once, which means you have to get seriously creative cutting through residential neighborhoods to get where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

And don’t even get me started on the roundabouts. Someone who has been given way too much decision-making power in this town has a serious fetish with roundabouts. They’re ridiculous and they’re everywhere and we keep hearing about this double-decker roundabout they’re planning to build in the southwest part of town. I found this little video online to show how it’s intended to work…

And all I want to know is how much traffic do they honestly think we have in this town that warrants an elevated roundabout to keep things under control? Hell, people can’t even figure out how to navigate the “No Right on Red” signs at certain intersections, so they sit there, blaring their horns and cursing out the people in front of them who are simply trying to get to work on time while obeying the clearly posted traffic laws.

But all of that has nothing on the potholes. I don’t know what this city did when it paved the streets, but holy hell, you’ve never seen a pothole until you’ve seen a Lincoln pothole. I don’t know if there’s a Guinness Book of World Records category, or some sort of Extreme Home Makeover-style contest we can enter, but we’re definitely overdue.

And I’ve got a theory. I think it’s the beet juice brine. The city has been touting this magical formula of beet juice and salt (which they believe is so amazing they actually hired a lawyer to pursue a patent). They mix batches of the stuff and spray it to “pre-treat” the roads for snow and ice. I think the brine is directly responsible for the monster potholes that materialize in the wake of every winter storm–seeping down into the cracks in the concrete, freezing and destroying the structural integrity of the roads.

Prove me wrong.

It’s gotten so bad, the city of Lincoln has a Pothole Hotline. You heard me. They actually built an app called UpLNK that lets you report things like potholes, icy roads, parking violations, downed trees, and dead squirrels flung into the street by neighbors.

Check this out. Here are a few screenshots of the app with my favorite feature, the Issues Map.

You can upload a report and alert the city to issues that need to be resolved. But the best part? You can add a photo.

A photo.

A photo of the pothole you want fixed.

Of course I downloaded the app, and started testing the functionality, but I see one major flaw. The city didn’t really give any sort of rating system for the potholes. I mean, how are they supposed to prioritize if they don’t have any idea of the severity of the issue at hand. Stevie and I did a little brainstorming and we would like to suggest the following become standard Pothole Reporting Procedure:

STEP 1 – Take a clear photo of the pothole. Be sure to insert yourself into the photo or include a friend in the shot for scale.

I’m thinking, something along the lines of this image captured in 2015 in South L.A. would be most appropriate:

But if we really want to get serious, we have to implement a clear pothole rating system, which leads us to…

STEP 2 – Rate the pothole and provide a clear description of the size, location, and severity. Here are the proposed categories:

* – The CD Skipper – A small pothole that you don’t even see coming, but if you still happen to be rocking a CD player in your car, you’re going to skip a track and get annoyed.

** – The Tongue Biter – You might have noticed this pothole right before you hit it, and it was big enough for you to bite our tongue and spill a bit of coffee on your pants. Annoying, but no lasting damage.

*** – The Tire Popper – You saw this one coming, and if you were lucky enough to avoid it, you might be able to go about the rest of your day in peace. If not, you might have to pop the trunk and change a tire because yours just got shredded.

**** – The Axle Buster – You spotted this one a mile away, but if you’re boxed in with traffic, you might not be able to avoid it. Hope you’ve got the mechanic on speed dial, because you’re probably going to need a little work to fix that shimmy.

***** – The Transmission Drop (AKA The Fender Bender) – You saw it. You braced for it. And then you realized you were likely going to total your car, so you tried to pull some sweet evasive maneuver at the last minute. There’s no chance you or your car are making it out of this one without some permanent damage and emotional distress.

STEP 3 – Get your friends to download the app, and repeat. 

The only way things are going to get better is if we all work together. Let’s do this people. And go!

Day 27 – There’s stubborn, and then there’s Henry

It pains me to admit it, but there are days I feel like I’m pretty close to being bested by my three-year-old. Cadence was always a strong-willed child, but man she has nothing on her brother. Sure we’re in that fun three-year-old stage where he’s starting to assert his independence just like all the other kids his age. The difference with Henry is that he’s got a stubborn streak that runs deep, right down into his bones.

Hate to say, it’s most likely genetic, (so I probably only have myself and my ancestors to blame) but that doesn’t make it any easier handle.

See, with this kid, it’s all about making a point. Some days it doesn’t even matter what I’m telling him to do, unless he can make it seem like it’s his idea, he’ll fight me on it, deny it, protest it. Hell, some days he’ll stage a damn revolt over something as simple as me telling him to go to the bathroom. He could be dancing around the room on the verge of peeing his pants and if I happen to tell him it’s time to go before he has made the decision for himself, he’ll spend the next 20 minutes arguing with me about it. It’s downright exhausting.

Take today for example. After last week’s lukewarm soccer experience sans nap, we’ve been trying to prep Henry for today’s game. He tends to do better when you don’t spring things on him in general, so we’ve been reminding him that he has soccer again this week, and telling him the plan is to make sure he gets a good nap in before the 4:00 pm game so he can have lots of energy to go play with his friends.

We take him upstairs around 1:00 when all signs are pointing to him being tired. But, instead of settling down and going to sleep, H-man spent the next two hours singing, counting to 20, saying his ABC’s, talking to his stuffed animals, and acting out random scenes from Bob’s Burgers and Ghostbusters–anything and everything he could think of to keep himself from actually falling asleep. When we went to get him up and start getting dressed for the game, he was all smiles and jokes (of course he was). We even had some fun kicking the soccer ball around in the living room and again when we got to the gym. But we knew it wasn’t going to last.

Like last week, he only had 20-30 minutes of happy energy in him before things started taking a turn. And by the time we got home and I started cooking dinner, H-man was hellbent on making sure he was in charge and that we all knew how unhappy he was that he lost his iPad privileges because he refused to nap. But the real protest started about the time we sat down at the table to start eating. After five minutes or so of messing around, punctuated by the occasional whiny “I don’t wanna eat that,” we gave Henry a warning–take a bite, or you’re going straight to bed.

Henry sat and stared at us, so Stevie started counting.

“One.”

Henry stared Stevie down and held up one finger.

“Two.”

Henry shot me a glance and held up two fingers.

“Henry, if I get to three, we’re done,” Stevie said, giving an extra moment for Henry to change his mind.

Without even batting an eye, Henry held up three fingers.

And that was it. Stevie took him straight up to bed, while I wrapped up his dinner so we can heat it up for breakfast.

Then, when Stevie came back downstairs, we packed up his toys (well, all but his toy food groups and his talking Anger doll–I figured those two toys might be an interesting conversation starter when we remind him why he punished when he gets up tomorrow).

Someday, when Henry is a teenager or a young adult running around with a pack of friends, I imagine his iron will is going to serve him well. He’s not going to be a pushover. And he’s definitely not going to be one to blindly follow along with the crowd if there is something he disagrees with. That stubbornness is eventually going to be something people really admire in him (I can certainly attest to that), but for now, Stevie and I are just balancing on that thin line between teaching this kid the importance of boundaries without breaking his incredible spirit.

Have we mentioned parenting is exhausting?

Good thing I’m stubborn too.