Tag - family

Cats don’t limbo?

So we were at some friends’ place this afternoon and they have a cat.

Gabrielle told Aidan that cats like to play with string, and that he might like to wiggle a string in front of the cat. Aidan took the string, and held it with both hands horizontally in front of the cat.

He waited a second, and then – the cat not moving – said “Hey, it’s not working. This cat doesn’t do the limbo.”

We all cracked up, of course.

Halloween and too much candyâ„¢

halloween.jpgBack from trick-or-treating with the kids.

Ethan counted his candy, and he’s got 135 chocolate bars, bags of chips, and assorted other candies. The other kids have about the same.

We didn’t go to that many homes …. many just give out 6 or 7 candies at a time.

Sheesh – when I was a kid we had to work for our candy!

[tags] halloween, kids, trick-or-treating, john koetsier [/tags]

Teaching Ethan

Ethan, this is how you type without looking at the keyboard. You just have to know where all the keys are, and then it is very, very, easy.

(Typed with my eyes closed – mostly – to prove a point to my 7-year-old son, Ethan.)

[tags] typing, kids, son, ethan, john koetsier [/tags]

Ethan, genius

My 7-year old son Ethan is continually amazing me with his insights, thoughts, and questions. He’s not the most verbal or social of kids, but he is a (young) man of ideas.

Today, entirely unprompted, he came up with the idea of intergenerational starships.

After all, he figured, you can’t get to the nearest stars (he started with Pluto, but that’s almost correct as well) in one lifetime. So you’d have to have multiple families on a starship – and the people who started the voyage would never live to see the destination.

He also wondered how they would be able to take enough food along, and I explained that they couldn’t: in fact, they’d have to take entire farms along instead.

Wow. I’m impressed.

[tags] ethan, starship, inter-generational, john koetsier [/tags]

Waging a living

I just saw POV on PBS: Waging a Living, and I am ashamed that I am ever in any way discontent with my life or my job or my salary.

Waging a Living follows the lives of 4 individuals who are “working poor.” (More details about them.)

One’s a security guard in downtown San Francisco, making $9-10/hour. A raise of 25 cents an hour is a big deal to him. One is a nurse in New Jersey who supports 5 people on $11/hour. Another is a waitress whose husband left and didn’t pay any alimony or child support. Another is a woman who was abused through childhood and has slowly, painfully been getting her education and increasing her standard of living: 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

These people are inspiring. But their stories break my heart.

I’m a social, political, fiscal, and moral conservative, but:

  • it is not right that some make hundreds of millions and some make pennies
  • it is not right that a waitress could be paid less than $3/hour in New Jersey
  • it is not right that the gap between executive management and rank-and-file is wider now than ever (200-400x more, I think)
  • it is not right that many of us make so much money we don’t even think about spending it, or even know how much exactly we have, while others have basic living expenses that outpace their wages
  • it is not right that people die because they cannot afford medical insurance
  • it is not right that single mothers working for very limited wages have to spend half a week’s pay for over-the-counter medicines
  • it is not right that we have so little respect for people that we think we can pay them a wage that reduces them to living in inhumane circumstances

We can call a spade an implement for digging, or we can just simple say that this is evil. And – yes, I’m a Christian too – God will judge us for this sin.

That said, if I was counselling young people in school today, I would say the world is not fair, and you should never expect it to be. Get your education. Get your education. Get your education! It will improve your life.

And I would say to spouses: divorce will not only kill your relationship. It will not only scar your children for life. It will reduce you to poverty. All of the people profiled in this POV were divorced, and it adds greatly to the strain of trying to make a living.

May God make us thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have not been so blessed.

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And, PS: I’m glad to live in Canada, where anyone, anytime, anywhere, is guaranteed to get the medical care that he or she needs, to the best of our ability to provide it, regardless of the size of his or her bank account. Choosing not to help someone who is sick because they can’t afford medical care is revolting.

[tags] POV, PBS, waging a living, working poor, poverty, america, minimum wage, ceo compensation, social justice, health insurance, john koetsier [/tags]

You do it really long on Sundays

At a church that we recently attended, there was a VBS (vacation Bible school) that our kids attended. Teresa was the one who took them, and mentioned this to me:

You know how the pastor loves to talk a lot when opening VBS mornings . . . well at the end of today’s program he told the kids he was sad it was over and would miss telling them stories and reading the Bible and praying.

And then Erin H. piped up “Don’t worry . . . you do it really long on Sundays!”

A bunch of us cracked up laughing but I don’t think he got it. 😮

I love you 10 feet tall

I just put Aidan to bed. His bedtime story was an impromptu one that Gabrielle and Ethan also sat in for … about Frank. It was the first time I’ve made up an entirely new story for the kids for a long time … perhaps since The Wonderful Colorful House.

After the story, and after our bedtime prayers, Aidan said “I love you 10 feet tall!” I think you’ll understand why, when you see that Frank was a very special baby …

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Osoyoos

Teresa and I recently took the kids to Osoyoos, BC, where we met up with 3 other families of relatives and spent a few days at a hotel. It was a much-needed break for all of us.

Check out the Flick photoset.

Unfortunately, Teresa broke her foot when we went horseback riding. The stablehands didn’t put the saddle on tight enough, and when one of the guides made her horse gallop for a moment, it slid off to the side of the horse – with Teresa on it. And, of course, she was holding Aidan, our youngest son.

Her foot was twisted in the stirrup – but we’re fortunate. It could have been worse – she could have been dragged.

There’s more to be said about that, but overall, even with that, it was a very enjoyable mini-vacation.

So-called porfolio diversification

In case you didn’t realize it, having to work two jobs in order to pay the rent is now referred to as “portfolio diversification:”

Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “I think it’s great,� he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.� Pay for essential workers like plumbers and cabdrivers will tend to go up, he said.

… from an article in the NY Times about the declining availability of affordable middle class homes in large US cities. Canadian cities are no different.

One more soundbite:

But middle-class city dwellers across the country are being squeezed.

This time, they are being squeezed out by the rich as much, or more so, as by the poor — a casualty of high housing costs and the thinning out of the country’s once broad economic middle. The percentage of middle-income neighborhoods in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington has dropped since 1970, according to a recent Brookings Institution report.

The percentage of higher-income neighborhoods in many places has gone up. In New York, the supply of apartments considered affordable to households with incomes like those earned by starting firefighters or police officers plunged by a whopping 205,000 in just three years, between 2002 and 2005.

Personally, I think we’re losing something if families can’t afford to live in cities any more. Am I the only one who feels that something is missing in neighborhoods without children? Can you really call it a community if it’s all 20-30-40-something married-to-their-career types?

[tags] city, children, housing, affordability, middle class, NY Times, john koetsier [/tags]

Off to the park

Tonight Teresa and I took the boys to the local park. Gabrielle’s in Tswassen at my sister’s.

Ethan and I played some baseball and then joined up with a couple of neighborhood kids for more baseball and an soccer game – with Aidan joining in for the soccer.

The interesting thing is that it felt like when I was a kid – when there actually were communities, instead of lots of people talking about communities. We were at the park, these two kids were at the park, we started playing together. That hardly happens anymore …

In any case, lots of fun and good exercise to boot.

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When we came home, Teresa opened up the garage door, and Aidan happened to be standing next to it. We have the old-fashioned kind of garage doors, with actual handles on them. Aidan decided to grab on, and he was 5 feet in the air before I could grab him down!

It was funny to see him rising up like that, but also dangerous, since his hands would have hit the top of the garage door opening. Teresa went to the front yard to burst out laughing out of earshot, while I (mostly) seriously remonstrated with him to “never do that again.”

Life with kids!

Urban deer

We live on Glen Mountain, which is a part of Sumas Mountain, in Abbotsford, BC, and often get deer in our yard.

This spring, a young doe had two fawns which we’ve been seeing quite often. Here is a quick video taken with my digital camera of one of the young deer just below our deck:

Only when riding

Teresa took the kids for checkups today at the doctor. Everything’s fine, and we now know that Gabrielle’s 58 pounds, Ethan is 48, and Aidan is 30.

But the magical moment was provided courtesy of Aidan.

Dr. Stepney, our family doctor, asked him if he always wore his bike helmet. Looking rather oddly at her, he gently shook his head – no.

I wonder if she was a little puzzled – maybe even surprised. After all, it’s the law for kids to wear bike helmets here in B.C., Canada. And what mother doesn’t make her child wear his helmet when riding?

Then Aidan spoke up:

“Only when I’m riding my bike.”

Eau de slug

Apparently Ethan got in trouble a couple of days ago at school.

The story is he poked a slug with a stick and rubbed the stick on another kid. When asked why, he first said he didn’t know why, and then said “Because it was fun.”

I have to admit I burst out laughing when Teresa told me about it tonight.

Bad dad.

I will say hi to Jesus

I put our 3-year-old Aidan to bed tonight – he’s always most talkative at night when it’s bedtime.

For some reason tonight he was thinking about death and dying – and farting, of course. Kids don’t stay on any one topic for very long, unless they’re trying to bug their parents.

“It will be sad when we die,” Aidan said. Yes, it will, I agreed. But it will be wonderful in heaven, I mentioned.

But Aidan didn’t think that would happen very soon. “There’s a long line-up to die,” he said. “A million long!”

He has a plan all ready: “When I get in heaven, I will say hi to Jesus. And I will teach them to play soccer.”

Yes you will, Aidan. Yes you will.

Hard to pass up

As I’m doing some work on the the computer tonight (AKA bloghopping), our 3-year old Aidan pipes up:

I have to pee, Mommy.

Can I have a piggyback ride?

Hmmm. That’s a tough one to pass up!

Teresa and I both burst out laughing.

Tired

Up at 6:20 this morning (late), skipped breakfast. Left house at 7:20.

At work at 8:10 – working in Bellingham today. Juggled projects and priorities until noon, then had lunch with my boss, Kevin. Worked until 4:45.

Home at 5:45 (border lineup was huge). Eating until 6:00. 15 minutes of hockey – Buffalo Sabres beating the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0, then out with Gabrielle, Aidan, and Ethan to Ethan’s baseball practice.

While Ethan was practicing with his team, I threw the ball with Gabrielle and Aidan – they’re both getting better at catching and Gabrielle is really starting to throw well. Some hitting practice too – Gabrielle straightens her arms a little too early on some of her swings, but she’s working to avoid that and had 3 or 4 big, big hits.

Home at 8:00. Kids have to get ready for bed. Aidan needs to be changed; the older kids have their ‘reading time.’ (The choice is: go to bet at 8:00, or read and stay up until 9:00.)

8:30. Aidan’s in bed, Ethan and Gabrielle are reading. I can start to relax. Teresa reminds me of some work that I need to do in the gutters. I promise my Saturday away.

Tired.

(But, it is a good tired!)

Memories of La Jolla

OK, the title is accurate. But that’s not really why I’m making this post.

Actually, what’s going on here is that I’m testing Apple’s iWeb.

Teresa mentioned that she’d like to have something from time to time that would help her create a digital scrapbook, and so I said I’d look for something for her. It needs to be simple, needs to tie into all our digital stuff (which mostly means iPhoto), and needs to be fast.

So I gave iWeb a shot. Here’s the result: some of the pictures we took in La Jolla this spring.

Total time: about 15 minutes, most of which was picture selection.

Drag and drop, baby!

5,279

That’s the number of kilometres Teresa and I drove on our recent road trip to California.

(I thought I’d finally post it just to remove it from my list of to-blog articles!)

Note: 1500 of those kilometres were done on the first killer day: Abbotsford BC to San Francisco, CA.

Update on my neck injury

As I mentioned recently, my neck is not in the best of health right now.

Wednesday night I injured it somehow in the middle of the night, Thursday I was in the hospital once (and almost twice) and had to wear a neck brace or collar.

Friday morning I took the collar off, very gingerly, before getting a much-needed half hour of hot hydrotherapy (yes, I took a long shower). I didn’t put it back on the whole day, knowing that when you wear the collar, your neck muscles tend to just give up and atrophy, since they’re not being used or needed.

But simple things like getting up from a chair or – far worse – from laying down on a sofa were difficult and painful. Getting off the sofa took me about 15 minutes, with multiple sessions of neck spasms.

Today (Saturday) has been a bit better. Teresa and I went a few places with the kids – me wincing at almost every bump or pothole in the road. But although I’ve never had it quite this bad, I’ve had this type of neck trouble before, and know that I can typically expect a small improvement every day. This afternoon I even kicked the soccer ball around a little with Aidan.

Lord willing, tomorrow will be even better. I can’t wait to feel normal again, and be able to do all the things (ice hockey, baseball with the kids, etc.) I usually do without a second thought.

Off with my neck!

Today I woke up in excruciating pain at about 3:00 AM.

Somehow during the night I buggered up my neck. I had done a workout last night, and had stretched my neck, but ‘m presuming tension was building up that the stretching did not alleviate. Anyways, some time in the night I made a wrong move, and my neck was totally immobile.

I’ve been having this problem since about 1992, when I was rear-ended by a guy in a pickup doing at least 65-75 kph. I was a university student at the time, and was driving a tiny Nissan Micra. Three stiff and sore days later, I was gingerly trying out a workout when something went crack and I had this wierd fuzzy sensation in my neck.

I laid down to give my neck a rest, but when I tried to get up, couldn’t. My head was glued to the workout mat. You have no idea how heavy your head is until your neck muscles go on strike. So I asked for help, went through the whole neck brace/ambulance/hospital/X-rays rigamarole, and was discharged that same night with a neck spasms and general pain. Over the next few days it got slowly better.

Occasionally after that I would have relapses, but not until about 6 years ago – when I was involved in another rear-ender – did they become fairly regular and frequent. It was a very low-impact accident, but I had a stiff neck almost immediately – somehow it tweaked my neck sufficiently to cause problems.

Ever since then, I’ve had this sort of cycle: stiff neck, something snaps, excruciating pain, and almost uncontrollable neck spasms. Lately it’s been happening about 4 times a year. I tweak it, it hurts, I spend an hour of the morning in a hot bath, relaxing my muscles, and it gradually goes away.

But last night was different. It was worse – way worse. Usually, after this sort of thing, I can at least maintain some semblance of being able to function. But this time, I just could not get up. My usual strategy of holding my head up with my hands while getting vertical was not working. In my hour-long attempt to get out of bed, I ended up with my knees on the floor but my head attached to the bed. Lifting my head with my hands was not working, and I was getting almost continuous and excruciating neck spasms.

Teresa had no choice but to call the paramedics. 15 minutes later they were at our house. They strapped a neck brace on my and pumped me up with laughing gas (nitrous oxide). With the nitrous coursing through my veins and the brace on my neck I was able to stand up and get downstairs to the stretcher.

(Interesting: nitrous oxide is a dissociative drug … you still have the pain, but it’s blocked from reaching your brain.)

The paramedics got me to the hospital, where we had the usual hurry-up-and-wait routine. But finally a doctor saw me, prescribed a shot of morphine and gravol, a neck brace, and a prescription for a muscle relaxant. A nurse gave me the morphine and gravol in the nether regions, we had to pay $14 for the neck brace, and we were on our way out.

Teresa and I decided to fill the prescription right away. Big mistake. We came into London Drugs to get it, me motoring along with the brace on my neck at about the pace of a baby crawling, and Teresa gave them the prescription.

Then I started to feel faint – the morphine was making it out of my gluteous maximus and into my system. I had to sit on a bench. Teresa grabbed me, and apparently my eyes rolled back in my head. I don’t remember much of this, but I remember coming to rather muzzily, still sitting on the bench, the sweat of the world dripping from me. Everything was kind of dark and distant, as if I was dreaming my experience into existence.

The London Drugs manager called for an ambulance again, and they showed up in record time, maybe 5 minutes. But I had no stomach for going to the hospital again, since I knew they would simply admit me and keep me under observation. And besides, I was already starting to feel better. All I really needed to do was lie down and sleep. So the paramedics (thankfully, a different set this time) wheeled me out to Teresa’s van in a wheelchair, I got in, Teresa drove home in a most old-ladyish manner (out of sympathy for my extremely sensitive neck), and I collapsed onto the sofa.

That’s where I’ve spent most of my day, drifting in an out of almost-sleep. The big question is: how will my neck feel tomorrow?

I’m hoping it will be way better, but I’ve never had this severe a case of neck spasms before. It’ll all depend on whether or not I get a good night’s sleep tonight and don’t re-injure my neck while I’m asleep.

Funky Chinese patois

You can’t make stuff this good up:

“Let the hackle zipper cut in the drailing wheel, then draught at full tilt to upgrade, let the drailing wheel tunning hight speed, at this time set the product to evenness floor to go speed run.”

Also notice, under the name of the toy: “Playing must on the smoothness floor.”

But don’t worry, the toy itself is great. After all, it’s part of a “toys series with a strong sense for playing.”

Ahhh … language. Babelfish has got to be better than whoever mangled this translation.

Two cameras I have my eye on

I have a Sony DSC-W1 and have really enjoyed it: it’s incredibly easy-to-use. So now that I’m thinking about expanding, I’m wondering if I’d like to leave the Sony world.

I’d hate to have to know 2 or 3 camera operating systems and modes of operation – which I’d have to do if I bought from a different company.

I’ve got my eye on the DSC-T30 for myself: ultra-portable, but still fairly good quality. I’ve had my eye on the T series for a long time, and would love this camera for an everyday, always on me camera.

And I’m wondering about the DSC-H5 for Teresa, my wife, and our home and family shots. It’s going to be better indoors with less red eye because of the larger flash that’s more separate from the lense, and the 12X optical zoom is very enticing.