30 November 2008

Miscellaneous end of the month post...

It's that time of the month, err, well, that time where I just sort of blurt out random crap that's driving me nuts in some weird form of Internet therapy (who the hell would do that anyway??)
  • Nice game tonight Bears. Vegas had you finishing 8-8 and you're just dying to make them right. Charles "Peanut" Tillman, you're STILL horrible. All of the people who tell me different need to have their heads checked
  • We spent some $$ this week. Who says the economy is in a recession? They're quoting that Black Friday sales were up 7% this year on last. Is this just all of us trying to find a deal and then pinching back or are we all shop-a-holics who are trying to drown our misery in material things? New in our house is a Blu-Ray DVD player and a Wii. All nicely installed into our "man-cave" in the basement which isn't really a man-cave as it's a "MK-Duey Cave" We both love all the gadgets and games and of course, alcohol.
  • Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I still love my turkey. Every year we vow to have more of it during the year and now that I brine them, I think that's an easy thing to do. Whipped up a batch of Turkey A La King tonight. Yumm-o (sorry Rachel Ray)
  • Another tree is cut, transported, "mounted" and decorated in the LoCicero household. Despite the rampant flu running through our house we still pulled out the ladders and decorated that 10 foot bad-boy today. I've come to accept that there's no perfect trees in the forest (or the nursery) and in some small sort of way they'll always be Charlie Brown trees that are just counting on us to make them beautiful. This is the biggest one yet and it's definitely coming down the day after Xmas this year. Last year I waited and it was a holy-hell mess.
  • This coming week is the boy's 1st Birthday. I can't believe how fast a year has gone. I'm sure I won't believe how fast the next 17 go either.
  • Watched a lot of High School Football this weekend. There's nothing like the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving in Illinois. I think the IHSA has done the right thing by going to an 8-class system. The games are more exciting and you can truly see the differences in talent, the bigger the schools are. Congrats to Immaculate Conception and St. Francis, two old "West Suburban Catholic Conference" foes who we (Benet Academy) usually beat easily 'back in the day'.
  • Today was the first snow in the area that "stuck" to the grass/ground. I guess it's finally here. So much for being able to wear nice shoes and shorts. Also makes walking the dog a pain in the arse.

That's it for November. Only 142 days to our Mediterranean Cruise leaving from Barcelona, Spain. Something warm to think of during these cold, dark months.

28 November 2008

Macy's Parade gets "Rick-Rolled"

This is classic. Laughed my arse off. For those of you who don't know what "rick-rolling" is, here's a link.

Sports traditions

Lots of discussion, both on tv and in my household, about how important professional sports traditions are and whether they should always continue. But when we all tried to continue to bring up examples of long-standing ones, we fell very short of well, a handful.

And it's the last one that has everyone talking. With Detroit having been miserable over the last 9 seasons, (40-100 as of 11/28/08) it's called into question whether these "traditions" should continue. During this same period the Lions are 2-7 on Thanksgiving Day.

Only the NBA has marquee games on a specific day (Christmas) and they usually pick the "hot" teams as it's the start of their network television coverage for the season (they are usually on cable up until that point).

But with this tradition, well, first of all it's over 70 years old. The Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934 (except '39-'44), but even before the Lions, there were teams since 1920 who played on this day. Also, the Lions are good for an occasional upset or two. Although I don't remember it, my Dad and Father-in-Law reminisced about how the unbeaten Packers marched in one Thanksgiving and how Bart Starr got his butt sacked a bunch of times and the Lions won.

So although I'm partly in the camp to dump the Lions, we'd have to dump the Cowboys too to be fair. When you get down to it, both the Lions and the Cowboys are roughly .500 ballclubs on this day and that's only because they play it every year, so either of them have their "moments", but it's only because the Matt Millen-era of the Lions has them in a 9-year slide that it's noticeable.

At the end of the day here, I think we just have to leave it to the Lions and Cowboys. a) Their fans are used to adjusting their feasting schedule to either the parking lots of their stadiums or in their own homes, b) it truly is one of the last long-standing traditions and c) for those not living in Detroit or Dallas, isn't it SUPPOSED TO BE just background noise while enjoying the company of your loved ones, chowing down, and starting of the holiday season?

I actually hate it when the Bears play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day as it's hard to watch the game and well, not swear ;-p

26 November 2008

I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay

Time to pull out the big bow saw and sharpen the blades as hunting season is open and I gots to kill me a big ass Evergreen the day after Thanksgiving. (that's the first day of the season so don't be late!!)

This will be the fourth year of our trek out to Spring Bluff Nursery in nearby Sugar Grove. It's quite nice and it's going to be especially fun dragging Aidan out there for the first time. I can't wait to see his eyes when we get rolling out there.

What I love about it is that all trees are $40 no matter the size, shape, condition and they zip it into a mesh sort of bag and tie it to the roof of your favorite SUV (they actually tied it to the roof of my Camry when I had it). You first jump on the back of a hayride trailer and they bring you out to the portion of the nursery where they will let you cut. You then walk for awhile until you see "the tree" and then you go at it and hack it down. You drag it back to the main trail and then they whip it onto the back of the trailer and you head back to the main lot.

They have a continuous fire going and you can get hot chocolate and other goodies. Plus you can visit their little shed and buy live wreaths and other holiday-type things. Last year when MK was very pregnant, I took my Dad and he was amazed at the operation.

So this year, I'm going to stick to roughly a 8 footer. If we get bigger than that, it becomes onerous to decorate and we end up having problems. This year also, we have a much bigger and sturdier base for the tree. The last couple years as we've bought bigger and bigger trees, we've had a few incidents. Nothing like losing a few ornaments to a crash in the middle of the night.

Additionally Wrigley has been messing with the tree and chewing on it. DK how we're going to stop that this year but we'll also have a little boy who is going to want to pull on things. It's gonna be an interesting four weeks with that tree in our house.

25 November 2008

Allergy, is such a lonely word

Yesterday we took Aidan to an Allergy & Asthma specialist.

I'll say it again, but he's a real trooper. Originally they told us to prepare for 2 1/2 hours of tests (ugh) so we packed up a few toys, change of diapers, some food and headed out for the best.

We arrived to a room packed full of kids. How is it that schools now close the entire week of Thanksgiving? I do NOT remember that happening when I was little. Anyway, we checked in and sat for awhile. Aidan is hilarious in that he really gets a kick out of watching other kids. He just observes them to see what they are doing and smiles and waves at them.

We were called in and met with Dr. Abraham and he explained that the first test is a 'scratch' test where they basically lightly scratch his skin and put 16 different samples on his back. Then we have to wait 15 minutes to see if there's a reaction to any of them. Aidan was pretty good, he didn't flinch one bit and just sort of sat there. We played for awhile as it's important for no one to touch or scratch the samples.

He had a reaction to about 6 or 7 of them and I think that had me worried as well, that's a sign that there was a reaction. After the nurse consulted with the Doctor, he only wanted to further test for 3 specific allergans. This test also lasts 15 minutes but is a tiny shot just under the skin and on the arm. Again, if there's a reaction then maybe there's some additional tests. He took those shots and never flinched ONCE!! He's really an amazing kid.

He had no reaction to those three and the nurse said that we were all done (so much for the 2.5 hours??) and that the Doctor would be in shortly to talk to us.

So it ends up that he's allergic (mildly) to Ragweed, Bermuda grass (so much for his golf game), Box elder trees (??) and, sad to say for several of our friends, cats! (sorry Val, Romy, Donna & Bill, and MB). He's going to be on a mild course of Singulair which is only a preventative and we'll have to watch him the rest of his youthful years. It's possible to grow out of these, but one never knows.

The biggest thing we were worried about though was allergies to dogs. He loves Wrigley with all of his might and they have quickly become the best of friends in their short lives. If we had to get rid of Wrigley, well, that would be a serious downer in the household, but one we'd have to make the decision on for the health of our little guy.

24 November 2008

How's your bird?

Again this year, we're hosting Thanksgiving.

I love this particular holiday as I fancy myself quite the cook and I annually get raves about my brined turkey. It's actually a pretty easy holiday in that it's only there to eat and there's no worries about gifts or having to be in multiple locations.

Thanksgiving for us has been the bringing together of the two sets of in-laws and it's a really nice night. We get to fancy up the dining room (we only use it for T-give and maybe a few other limited events), pull out the china and the Waterford and act like big-time adults.

This year, of course, we have a special guest in a high chair who gets to be at his first. The "year of firsts" is quickly coming to an end and its like it just STARTED. We know he likes chicken and turkey already so I'm sure he'll have fun.

So back to my brining. It really means that I start working on Tuesday night. After getting all of the ingredients into a pot, you need to bring it to a rolling boil and then put it into the fridge to cool off. Then, 24 hours prior to when you're going to start cooking the bird, you have to put the bird into the brine and back into the fridge. What this does is infuse the bird with some salt and other aromatics and after it's done cooking, it retains a lot of juiciness and flavor.

I think the only change this year is that we're going for a bigger bird (23 pounder). We really didn't have that much leftover last year and that's one of our favorite things. Turkey sammies the day after are boss and I might even want to try my hand at making some Turkey a la King. So upward and onward to a bigga bird.

23 November 2008

Cheap gas again

I filled up for $1.349/gallon tonight. No, I'm not in Saudi Arabia at the moment, but I AM the proud holder of a Speedy Rewards card for a regional gas chain in the midwest called Speedway. Let me explain.

You get Speedy points for every gallon you buy at Speedway but, and this is where it adds up, you also get 40 points a dollar if you use the Chase Platinum Speedway Master Card, which I have. So this past summer when I was pumping $65 at a fill-up, the points were cranking and adding up.

One of the rewards you can cash out points on is $0.50 off per gallon up to 25 gallons. It takes 8750 points. I'm currently up around 125,000 points. Additionally, if you use the Chase PSMC you get automatic $0.05 off per gallon up to 20 gallons. So $0.55 off tonight from the "list price" of $1.899/gallon.

I can't believe I filled up for $26 tonight (20 full gallons). Even without the discounts the current price is pretty sweet.

22 November 2008

The pressure of the FIRST Birthday

I don't know. In 1967, it had to be the easiest damn thing in the world. Your kid was turning one, you had over the families, Mom made the main course, the Grandma's brought the sides and there was "the cake". Such was my first birthday, celebrated at 1133 N. Massasoit Ave.

Nowadays it's like you have to plan the biggest damn fiesta in the world AND have "gift bags" for the guests to take home. I've had people ask me if we're having the big bouncy things or clowns or if it's being professionally catered.

So for at least year ONE, we're just keeping it simple stupid. Inviting family and some close friends, who admittedly, we need to spend more time with in 2009. Portillo's beef, Brown's chicken, a few sides from the Grandma's and we'll get the macked out cake, cuz we love cake in this household.

I guess moving forward, we'll just have to see. With his birthday being in December, there's likely never going to be big bouncy things in my backyard but we'll just have to do that stuff outside of the house. It's going to be a lot of fun and it's the people you're with that truly make it a special event. What IS going to be a little odd is that I'm just not used to parties going from 2:30 to 7:30 or so. But I'm sure after Mr. Aidan gets his butt off to sleep there'll still be a few adult cocktails to be had.

20 November 2008

It's winter, so it must be time to talk about.... the Cubs!

With the 2008 post-season a miserable six-and-a-half weeks in the books, why not pick at the scabs a bit and feel a little pain.

Season ticket holders got a letter from Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney which spent 60% of the 2 pages talking about luncheons held with season ticket holders and a redesign of the cubs.com website area for season tickets holders.

Then a tiny little bit about how the "season was bittersweet" and how "Our disappointing performance in the playoffs continues to weigh heavily on all of us in the organization and fuels our efforts to improve the team this off-season"

He then goes on to bloat about Soto being named Rookie of the Year and Piniella, Manager of the Year. He closes by saying that "I also know this organization is on and upswing and we will win a World Championship for the greatest fans in baseball."

So there you have it, the classic magician's misdirection. "Lookie here, lookie here, slipped that by ya, lookie here, hey you're a great audience."
  • MLB doesn't really call it the "World Championship" so I'm glad you're guaranteeing it (only guys to truly pull that sort of promise off was Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath), but it would be nice, Mr. Chairman, that you called it the World Series.
  • However, I'm not a complete ass, the club is on an upswing, so I do agree with that.
  • Efforts to improve the team in the off season.....hmm. Don't know about that one YET. "Kid K" gets the boot after all these years which truly IS bittersweet because he did everything the club asked him to, including rehabbing his arm so that he could contribute coming out of the bullpen. But as with Prior, management's patience wore thin and for the second year in a row, a player who was the "ace of the staff" at one point is released.
  • They released him because they got Kevin Gregg from Florida. 7-8, 29 saves, 3.41 ERA last year in 72 appearances (18-21, 62, 4.00 in 6 seasons overall with the Angels and Marlins) Not sure here but we didn't trade much to get him. Interesting to get him when they are growing Samardzija and Hart. This does force Marmol to the closer role though. Just praying that his arm holds out.

I'm honestly not sure what the Cubs could do to improve other than show up in the post-season. Their 97 wins this year were the most by a Cubs team in 63 years!!

Lastly, with the SEC going after Mark Cuban, it's very possible that even if he were to blow the doors off that last round of bidding (all final bids due by December 1st per MLB), would the other owners really approve him? He's already hated by the majority of NBA owners, and that club is as tight with MLB/NHL owners as anyone, so his reputation will precede him. Add now that he could be put in jail for a year (a la Martha Stewart) and well, they don't need any other reasons to reject him. This will be a sad day if he doesn't take over the Cubs as we'll get another set of unknown white collar robbery artists who are in this just to milk the money and not for the "fun" of just winning.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that Sam Zell is just the greediest son-of-a-bitch alive and will tell the other owners that they BETTER approve a sale to Cuban or else he'll make their lives a living hell. That would be his BEST parting shot.

18 November 2008

My little hero

So these are the days that really make your heart ache when it comes to children.

Aidan had a bout with, well, let's call them the 'squirts' on the weekend. We switched up his diet, made sure he stayed hydrated and by Sunday it seemed that he was fine. Add to this lovely thing the fact that he's had a cold and was congested and was constantly coughing, it was quite the weekend for him.

So yesterday after he woke up and downed his bottle of formula, we got dressed and went to school. When I dropped him off I talked the staff through what happened on the weekend and what sort of diet we wanted him on for at least the first two days of this week. He was happy and glad to be back to school. He was back to normal. Or so we thought...

Around 2:10, I got a call from the Director, Linda that Aidan was inconsolable. He just wanted to be held and never let down. When they tried to lay him down, he cried and after every time he coughed, he cried. Add to this, that the 'squirts' were back and with a vengence.

My Lord, what was my son going through? I thought we had it licked but maybe all of the coughing from the weekend hurt his throat or even his ribs? I mean, if Sammy Sosa can throw out his back when sneezing, well, surely Aidan can hurt his ribs from coughing non-stop.

I got to the school and he seemed happy to see me but he looked like absolute Hell. I hadn't seen him this bad EVER in his 11.5 months and the look of desperation on his face was gut-wrenching. He was in this stasis where he just looked like he wanted to be put out of his misery.

We got home and I knew that I had to get him to get to sleep so that his little body could just rest for awhile. I took his temp and it was 101.4, so I shot him a dose of Children's Tylenol and he seemed more than happy to take it. So we got down to a diaper and t-shirt and I rocked him for 20 minutes. He fell asleep in my arms.

I got him into the crib and immediately called the Doctor and asked for an emergency appointment and unfortunately I got the last one of the day which was 7:30pm (which honestly is GREAT that they stay open that late). He slept for about 2.5 hours and then woke up. I brought him downstairs and we played a little game where Daddy cuts up a banana and we played the sharing game (giving pieces to each other to eat). He seemed happy with it, but he clearly was off kilter.

We got to the Doctors office and met Mommy there. He had lost a pound through all of this which is 1/20th of his weight, so that's kind of scary. After a quick exam, we found out he had hit the child sickness lottery. Here's what he has:
  • double ear infections
  • double eye infections (conjunctivitis)
  • flu with bad congestion
  • and well, still the squirts

He won "sickest kid of the day" for the office, which, being the last appointment meant he was the ultimate "river card".

So three prescriptions: Antibiotics for the ear infection, medicated drops for the eye infection, nebulizer breathing treatment for the congestion and coughs and continued fluids and bland foods diet for the squirts. Thank GOD for insurance.

Anyone who says that having insurance, free, for every child in America is a waste or socialist behavior should just piss off and die. This stuff would have cost us a FORTUNE or we would have tried to find some sort of community health care area where we might have gotten generics, etc. I'm sorry, but if we cannot do this for our own country but we can do it for Iraq, etc., than our priorities are totally bass ackwards in this country. Or just take $4 billion from the $700 billion we're using to bail out the banks (and possibly Automakers).

Anyway, we got home and got him dosed up and it's almost like he knew "help is on the way" as he started smiling and laughing and getting back to the little guy we know. At this moment, he's slept for about 6 hours through the night and is likely feeling better.

Sorry for being totally self-indulgent, but hey, it's MY blog and I'll do with it as I want.

10 November 2008

Now that it's calmed down a bit

Six days post election craziness and things are starting to calm down a bit, until Barack visits the White House this week. Imagine THAT awkward meeting of Bush and Obama.

Things that have imbedded themselves in my head from the night of November 4th, 2008:
  • Barack is going to be the 44th President. I'm not one that's huge into numerology, but 4-4 is the day MLK was shot, but 44 is also Hank Aaron's number who was the first man of color to break Babe Ruth's Home Run record.
  • The looks on the McCain supporters faces at the Biltmore in Phoenix when every news agency declared Obama the winner at 10:00pm CST. It's admirable to support your candidate and feel down that they have lost, but some of those people had such a look of disbelief that I have to wonder what campaign season they were watching.
  • McCain delivered a classy concession speech, but as with all politicians, I have to wonder how sincere it was given the day before, he was still talking crap about Obama. I guess Hilary did the same thing. I know it's part of the game, but these guys should think about how it all sounds given what they said during the election.
  • Who really gives a crap WHO Oprah was leaning on in Grant Park? Sure, I was curious too, but I didn't go on a national search for that liver-lipped guy. One thing for sure, it wasn't Steadman who was looming large behind her and Gayle.
  • Jesse Jackson crying. I'm not a big fan of his, but given he was with MLK when he was shot and that Jesse was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, the waves of emotions that had to be running through him are unmatched by just about everyone in America. I do wonder though, what the relationship is like between he and his son. Given Jesse's slamming of Barack when he thought he was off-mic and Jesse Jr.'s reaction, I'm sure there's some hurt feelings. Also Jesse Jr's wife was a huge Hilary supporter. Man, talk about a house divided.
  • The view of Grant Park. I remember walking Wrigley right before Barack came out for his acceptance speech. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and I could see hundreds of stars. Even with the city lights, the skyline with the hundreds of thousands of people, under the stars, on the lakefront had to be a magical place and moment, and the world's press was there to show it and record it for history. For Mayor Daley and his family it had to almost be a sort of exorcism as just 40 years prior, Grant Park was the scene of the riots during the Democratic convention.

It sure is going to be an interesting next 4 years. I do fear that the expectations are SO high, that neither Obama nor McCain could probably live up to them. We're a country in deep financial trouble and in a war that seems to extend across two countries (Iraq and Afghanistan), so I have no idea how anyone rights that ship in less than 4 years. But for some small glimmering moment, the world has smiled on us, and we're off on a new adventure to try to fix the giant mess we are in.

I do believe that Obama will continue to be the person that got him here. If he's honest with the people and pushes every single person who will work in his administration to make each and every day their best, I think we will be in a much better place in 4 years time.

04 November 2008

Proudest moments as parents (they start)

Last night was our first parent-teacher conference. Yes, they actually do them for all children at The Goddard School, no matter their age.

We got there and met up with Miss Leah and she showed us Aidan's personal binder that she's been keeping on him. They start a binder when the child starts and it follows them all throughout their stay (until age 6) and it's where they document developmental steps for the child. There were comments in there for when they saw him first roll over, first pull himself up and other "precious moments" that you come to love and cherish as a parent.

Then she got into her report. It was very moving to see her hold back her own tears and emotion. She/They really loves Aidan and just predicts very big things for him. It was so very moving to see how these teachers work with our kids and how they have invested in them and their futures to ensure that they succeed in whatever they do. In her report we learned some NEW things that we didn't even know about Aidan.

She said that when the paints come out, that Aidan gets really really excited for artwork time. This totally blew us away because we haven't provided him crayons or other things yet, but Mary Kay is an artist and a damn good one. At almost 11 months, Aidan is exhibiting something that we didn't TEACH him, but that is in his genes. Mary Kay almost lost it at this point.

We found out that he loves bugs (well, that's ONE of us) and that when they had a bit of a cricket problem, he'd crawl over to them and touch them and then try to squish them. Any bugs! She said that when they go outside in the grass that he's always looking for them.

We were also told that he loves the outside (that's good as we do too) and that he's just learning the word "no" (yes, we know that as we've been having some struggles with him about that.) Lastly that he gets very upset when he can't accomplish something. We've seen this at home and he gets this very unique look on his face when he can't figure something out or can't get something to work how he thinks it should work. It's sort of cute, but we do feel for him. He's a very curious boy and has to pull things apart to see what they are made of.

So then the things that also make you cry came up. We talked about next steps for him as at 15 months he "graduates" to the next classroom, "First Steps". We found out that they actually do a two-week transition with the children starting out with 1-2 hours in the new room and the rest in the current and then slowly increasing until they are spending the full day in that room.

They go from sleeping in cribs to sleeping on a cot, so that'll be a big change for Aidan, one I see him struggling with for now, but he'll get used to it because it's what all the other kids do. They all take their naps at the same time (as opposed to the Infant Room) and they have more structured mealtimes as well.

So our little man is growing up and quickly. It's not a surprise, but it sure does take you back for a moment.

02 November 2008

DST - Just to make adults happy?

So we all "fell back" and turned our clocks back an hour this morning (there was no way in hell I was going to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to do that) and most of the US is back on Standard Time.

Except for babies and animals.

Aidan normally wakes up at 6:30 a.m. and Wrigley about 30 minutes prior. So this morning at 5:00 (on the "new" time) Wrigley was punching her nose into my arm and hand because it was time to go for a walk. I sort of felt sorry for her because frankly, she can't read clocks and well, when nature calls, the Golden Retriever must answer.

So after our walk this morning, and thank the good Lord that the weather was sort of nice, we came in and I put her food down (normal routine) and she wolfed it down like it was her last meal. I was so surprised that I almost didn't know what to say until I heard the baby monitor and Mr. Aidan was waking up....at 5:30!! You gotta be kidding me?

Aidan actually sort of runs on "light" time as in, if there's light out, he's up, if its dark, he's asleep. If you think about it, that's pretty much like the cavemen used to do it before they invented fire. And THAT'S the key here. We do all of this gyration about time supposedly for "farmers" originally so that they could still have more daylight during harvest and then it was for energy conservation and now, well, now, it''s just for our emotional well-being.

But we're conditioned to this, it's not inherently hardwired in our brains. Oh well, all I know is that sunset was at 4:44 p.m. and that means that before I leave work tomorrow, it'll be dark out. Just disgusting.