Between work duties, family duties, holidays, and projects around the house, time for actual fun has been pretty sparse lately. That’s why, a few weeks ago, we decided to take a day and go to a museum. It was a nice, relaxing family trip, and was much-needed.
While we were there, I grabbed a little footage using my phone and when I got home, quickly cobbled it together (thus the crudeness of it) into this, our family tribute to the museum scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
These are the dorky things my wife and son have to put up with on something as simple as a family trip when I suddenly get inspired by an idea. 🙂
It’s certainly been an interesting two weeks in the milestone department.
Just about two weeks ago, our little guy suddenly went from just rolling around on the floor (something we have to be careful of in our living room, as the previous owners just threw very thin carpeting over hardwood, with no padding between), to all of a sudden doing what could only be described as a combination of an army-crawl and the worm.
When he abruptly realized what he had done, it was only moments before he was doing it over and over again, to the point of making his way all the way around our large ottoman to find me hiding on the other side, and amusing himself thoroughly the entire time. Is there anything more heartwarming then the giggles of a baby?
I couldn’t believe it. He was mobile.
However, reaching daddy was certainly only the beginning of this vast new world opening up in front of him, and that same night, he quickly found his way, all on his own, to one of our built-ins housing our DVDs, and pulled out Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” rolled himself on his back and just stared at it, ‘talking’ to Mr Incredibly and family in a myriad of noises for a good ten minutes or so.
It took only one week more for him to start finding the ability to move his knees and ditch the worm thrust that was getting him around. With that, we now have a fully-crawling baby on our hands. One that can sit up on his own, one that can make his way across the room, try to chase the kitties, and pull anything he can get his hands on out and all over the floor, be it cases, DVDs, papers, anything.
I think it’s time to start baby-proofing.
When a baby enters the picture, so much of your focus goes into what it takes to be good parents, that it can be easy to forget about what it takes to be good spouses.
Upon our return from our honeymoon a few years ago, my wife and I grabbed breakfast at a greasy little diner. There, we looked back on the road trip through Vermont in the fall we had just completed to celebrate our marriage and looked to the road that lie ahead.
It was at that moment that we decided to grab hold of those fresh-off-a-wedding-and-honeymoon emotions and make a little reminder for the rest of our lives.
With that, we grabbed a napkin and scrawled down the following, and much like our forefathers jotting down the framework of our soon to be country, we created in those moments our “Declaration of a Happy Marriage”…
*When it’s time to have kids, take them into our lifestyle, not create a new lifestyle for them.
*Keep eating healthy
*Be happy for what we have, but no excuses not to dream.
*Get out of ruts
*Have friends over.
*Take the time for date nights.
*Appreciate one another.
*When we fight, remember our vows.
*Do/say something kind every day.
*Help with and/or support each other’s dreams and attempts at achieving them.
I even had a sweater and pair of sneakers that I would pull out of the closet at the start of each show, climb onto (what seemed at the time to my little eyes) our massive couch, and get ready along with Mr Rogers as he welcomed me and countless other kids to the neighborhood.
I watched, I sang, and I learned, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
I walked away from those years of my life with some amazing lessons in morality, ethics and courtesy, all thanks to a man who was willing to treat his audience of children as actual people and not talk down to them.
I have a deep admiration for Fred Rogers, his vision and what he did for millions of children over various generations.
Where we live, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood is no longer in syndication.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to come across this latest creation from The Fred Rogers Company:
If, like me, you watched as a child, you probably remember the Neighborhood of Make Believe – the magical world accessed via the trolley, which would leave Mr. Rogers’ den, go through the wall and introduce us to the likes of King Friday, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Daniel Striped Tiger and more. For this latest generation, Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the original program.
I actually got a little emotional recently when I was home with him and we were watching it together.
He was cooing and laughing, and as I watched and heard those familiar chimes of the trolley welcoming us to the neighborhood, I was overwhelmed by how touched I was.
I once sat watching Mr. Rogers with my mom and dad, and here I was, with my son, watching the next generation’s equivalent. It made me so happy, so touched, and so thankful that the vision of Fred Rogers lives on in any form.
Children need people like Fred Rogers in their childhood and now that I’m a parent I need him there for them too.
Even before we had the baby, Meg and I have been doing our best to see where we can cut back when it comes to expenses. We may not be disciplined enough to chuck all the expenses and go live in a tent somewhere, but here and there we’ve found some things that may seem a little quirky, but have helped cut down a little here and a little there in our overall expenses.
And believe me, now that we do have the baby, yet still have my massive student loan debt, every little bit helps.
Here’s a few of the things we’ve taken a crack at.
Like many other folks we know, we used to have the standard Digital Cable plan. The box, the DVR, hundreds of channels, the whole kit and kaboodle. However, one day, long before we were even expecting, we just looked at each other and realized how often we were finding things amid the plethora of channels, even if it wasn’t great, just for the sake of watching something. It was like paying for all those channels made you feel like you needed to be watching one of them. What we started realizing as we’d flip through the channels, was that there were numerous times where we’d find nothing to watch, even with that large a selection.
So, we decided to try the experiment of going down to basic cable and see how it went. It took a little getting used to and there’s still some shows Meg misses seeing (she loves those DIY and Cooking programs), but we’ve now been going a few years strong with just basic cable and it’s been great. We’ve discovered which shows we enjoy enough to look for when they’re on (versus DVR) and have really embraced the variety of programming on our local PBS station. (Sunday nights have never been the same for us since Sherlock and Downton Abbey)
When we decided to do away with the cable, we thought we would rely more on Netflix for entertainment. At that time, we had the one disc at a time plan, that also included streaming if you so chose. However, in time, Netflix made that two separate plans and began charging people for each. So, we made the conscious decision after seeing a number of discs sit around for weeks and weeks without viewing, to cut our losses in half, do away with the disc option and go solely streaming. Sure, your choices are different and you may not always find what you want, but we’ve discovered some very entertaining films, documentaries and television shows, both old and new, that we would never have had we had the ability to have ‘whatever we wanted.’
This one doesn’t really equate to a monthly bill, but while we’re on the subject of entertainment, I wanted to throw it in. We’ve had quite a few offers for a new television, whether it’s a friend or relative getting rid of some widescreen behemoth or relatives offering one as a Christmas present. While grateful, we’ve respectfully declined each time. We like our little 4×3 television set. It’s the same one I’ve had since college, and not only has it lasted like new over the more than a decade since I got it, we still have Meg’s (almost the same model) in the basement if this one ever goes.
Okay, so they’re not saving you a fortune, but every little bit helps, right? Some time ago, my wife and I realized how we were always (or fairly frequently) spending money on napkins at the grocery store. So, while at Target one day we decided to purchase a package of cloth napkins. We also used to use brown paper bags for our lunches. However, the purchase of a reusable cloth lunch bag has meant we haven’t had to buy any brown paper bags in years. It’s amazing how reusable these items have been, all with a simple run through the wash with the rest of our laundry when they start to get a little dirty.
There are few things satisfying as knowing that you did something with your own two hands. Since moving into our little starter home, I’ve had to learn to do a lot, mostly out of necessity. Whether it’s installing a new front door, renovating a bathroom, putting in floors, it all has been infinitely cheaper to purchase materials and devote the time and elbow grease needed to get the job done instead of hiring someone else to do it for us.
Your library card can be one of the most valuable pieces of plastic in the arsenal that is your wallet, and I highly suggest taking full advantage of it. It breaks my heart every time I hear about another library not doing well, and not just because I worked in one in college. I love libraries. The idea that a place filled with the knowledge of a civilization or civilizations stands, ready and accessible for anyone to come and partake, is just breathtaking to me. And as long as you follow the rules, it’s absolutely free. What an amazing thing. Whenever I come across a title that I’m interested in reading, I always check the library first. If I like it enough to read it multiple times, I’ll purchase a copy, but if it’s only getting one read, why spend the money? Libraries are a great place to gain some knowledge, test some literary waters, and save a pretty penny.
On the same topic of books, I find myself often looking at our bookshelves and realizing how many books we have that I either haven’t read yet or haven’t read in so long that it’s like new! It’s like going to a book store where a) it’s free and b) they carry your favorites.
I love eBay. Not so much the buying, although I do now and then, but I love having an auction at my fingertips to unload items that I realize have been sitting around our house since we got together and heck, in our individual apartments well before that, doing nothing but collecting dust. I’ve learned that we, as humans, have a weird ability to create sentiment toward EVERYTHING, even when it’s not warranted. There’s nothing wrong with having a connection to something, it’s just having a connection to everything where you stir up trouble. Assess what you have, what you need, what you really want, and what you’ve held on to ‘just because’ and you’ll find there’s a lot of ‘just because’ you will be just as happy without, and someone else will be quite happy to take off your hands for a price. And if you have books you can’t seem to unload, try something like paperbackswap.com, an online book club where you list books you’re willing to send out to those who want them in exchange for credits that you can then use for books you’re looking for.
This isn’t an end-all, be-all list, of course – just a few small ways that we’ve taken on in an ongoing effort to “trim the fat,” as they say. They may not be huge, but they help, and I feel like at the same time, I’m learning a little something through each one of these efforts.
At 9 months old, there was no candy to be found in his basket, but he was in love with the large, colorful plastic eggs that were inside. In fact, whenever he spots one sitting somewhere (usually moved by our playful kitties), he has loved picking them up and showing us what he’s found, with a big smile on his face. It’s truly adorable.
He also got a bucket and shovel to play with once the weather gets nicer. What I like about it is that the shovel is rounded, as opposed to pointed edges, meaning he can bite on it, and use it to his heart’s content without poking himself. He especially likes using the shovel when taking a bath to shovel water. It’s hysterical.
The other highlights include a tiger puppet that makes some lifelike roars when you push its paw, a shirt with a robot on it, and some books about bunnies. Richard Scarry’s “I am a Bunny” (about a young bunny experiencing the seasons in the forest) and “The Bunny Book” (about a young bunny and what occupation he may take on when he grows up) are absolutely beautifully illustrated. I love the fact that they are about bunnies, but they’re not about Easter. That means we can get away with reading them throughout the year.
It was a wonderful day all around.
The little guy and I went for a walk (well, I walked, he sat in the stroller) while my wife made a delicious brunch that we had with my parents, followed by a great dinner at her family’s house, complete with an Easter Egg hunt with our niece and nephew (now teens). Since I’ve entered the picture, I’ve gotten to hide the eggs on them each year, which becomes a bit more challenging as they get older, but still fun nonetheless.
While we were all pretty beat by the end of the day, it certainly was all worth it.