Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cooper update

Let me update y'all on our toddler, who is a dynamo, a whirlwind of energy seeking constant entertainment.

Our house is not clean. There is Cooper Stuff everywhere, in every room, on every floor, on every surface, and only on weekend evenings when Val's mom watches him do we get to see the floors.

Until he dumps his mega blocks, toys and books out of buckets and baskets and tears up the alphabet mat on the floor of his nursery, which every weekend I get on all fours and piece back together for one glorious day.

The boy is a hoot. He makes me and Val smile all day long, thinking about how he plays and how he talks now.

Yep, he jibber jabbers all the time, even if we can only make out about 25 words, though mostly "outside," "dog," "choo choo," "bike," "truck," "remote," "fan," (he loves to turn them on and off), "water," "snack," "juice," and "stuck." He calls Val "Mee Mee," me he calls "Da Da," and Val's Mom he calls "Maw Maw."

Whenever someone calls on the phone, he says "Maw Maw," "Da Da" and "Mee Mee" over and over, because that's usually who it is, since Val talks to her Mom every morning at 8, me at 10 and on weekends her Mom is on the phone with Val three times a day.

Cooper is a picky eater, as are all toddlers, from what I've read. All those promises to ourselves about how he'll only eat healthy foods?

"Hahahahaha!!!!" Is what y'all said. And now we see what you mean.

This is the list of what Cooper will eat eagerly:


That's it, that's the list.

Now, when he's really hungry he will eat Cheerios at breakfast, and yogurt and applesauce when we feed it to him.

Before he started solid foods, I said that in no way would he only eat nuggets and hot dogs for the first ten years of his life.

So what does he like most and we give to him freely just so he'll eat something, anything?

Chicken nuggets and fries.

Although he does enjoy rice and beans and grilled chicken when we eat at our favorite Mexican places. When he sits still enough, that is.

Unless we eat with Val's parents, we've given up on going to restaurants. Cooper does not want to sit in a seat and play or eat, and Val is tired of eating alone while I walk around outside to keep him happy.

He will eat veggies if I feed it to him, but he's still getting the hang of feeding himself with a fork and spoon. Nuggets and fries we can put on a plate on the table that my Mom bought for him, and he'll go back to it every ten minutes or so and pick off another bite.

Of course, we also said that our mini Cooper wouldn't watch a lot of TV, but, um, well, yeah, that didn't happen. I noted earlier that one of his words is "remote."

Actually, it's pronounced "'mote," and accompanied by a point at the TV so he can watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins and Chuggington, and occasionally he'll still watch Sesame Street episodes with Elmo featured.

He'll also watch Nick Jr. if we have it on in the background, which is most of the time since he won't let us watch anything else, including ballgames and even the news for five minutes.

Cooper does play, of course. It was a little cooler for a week, so Val was able to take him out front on the porch to play with his cars and trucks, and in the late afternoons I enjoy taking him out back to the pool.

While inside during the summer heat, we let him roam from room to room. He'll play in the living room, move to the guest room to play with all his old baby toys that are awaiting Penny, his nursery has tons of toys and books, the master bedroom has a fan, hangers and the exercise bike that he likes to ride, and yes, even the bathroom has all kinds of goodies.

At least we've established a pretty regular routine, so that's helpful. He wakes up about 7, naps from 1:30 to 3:30 (although the last hour is usually on me or Val in the living room), and is ready for bed by 8 at night.

And we only have to bribe him to sit on the couch and unwind with a popsicle and milk. Hey, whatever works, am I right?

UPDATE 1:03 p.m. - Can't believe I forgot so much stuff this morning ...

Cooper's favorite thing might just be his feet. He holds them up and yells "FEET!" so we can kiss them or tickle them. This might be our doing, since we've been oohing and aahing over his tootsies since birth.

He likes to "boo" at cows and "ba!" at sheep.

He doesn't say yes, just looks at you with the cutest look and goes "uh-huh!"

When playing on the bed we used to pretend to go to sleep, so now he'll curl up against us and pretend to snore.

In the pool or on the bed, I'll recline with my legs up, and he'll crawl through them or push his cars and trucks through.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cooper all around

Our nightly pre-bedtime routine, eating popsicles, snuggled up in PJs and watching "Little Einsteins" ...

He likes sitting at the table his Grams bought him last week, watching his shows while eating some chicken nuggets ...

Uh-oh, he'll be 16 in no time!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cooper at Tracy's house

Thursday night we went to visit Val's friend, Tracy, at her home in Oakland while she recovers from foot surgery. Cooper especially liked her two big basset hounds!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memphis during the war (150 years ago)

More selections from The Commercial Appeal's Civil War-Era Memories from The Memphis Daily Appeal

June 20, 1861

A one-armed man was arrested yesterday for begging after he asked a policeman to buy him a loaf of bread. The officer did so and watched the beggar sell the bread for five cents and then go into a groggery and buy a drink with the money.

June 22, 1861

By the kindness of Mr. Trezevant, we were yesterday admitted within the Confederate Government saber manufactory, on the south-east corner of Monroe and Third streets...In giving employment, the widows, wives, and families of soldiers, have the first preference. The women are paid four dollars and a half a week...No less than two hundred and eighty five persons are employed, of whom two hundred and thirty are females.

June 26, 1861

The Corporation Buggy. --The mayor having continual need to visit the various parts of the city, has for some time been furnished with a horse and buggy. Last night council passed a resolution to have them sold. Candidates for the office, not desiring to take it without the horse and buggy, are allowed to withdraw. Persons unable to walk four miles an hour, in all weathers and on the muddiest roads, will not do for mayor of Memphis, as for the future that officer will have to find his own buggy, brains and boots.

June 27, 1861

Practical Hints to Soldiers -- The following is from Soyer's series of small recipes which may be increased in proportion . . .

Camp Soup

Put half a pound of salt pork into a saucepan, two ounces of rice, two pints and a half of cold water, and, when boiling, let simmer another hour, stirring once or twice; break in six ounces of biscuit, let soak ten minutes; it is then ready, adding one teaspoonful of sugar, and a quarter one of pepper, if handy.

July 4, 1861

On this day recurs the anniversary of the most important event, which, up to the present year, ever occurred on the North American continent. ..The day, because of its memories, is the noblest and best of our calendar. ...That the South must continue to honor the day is evident.

July 5, 1861

Apprehending the rout of its armies, the Lincoln government has removed the archives of the late United States from Washington to cities further north.

July 7, 1861

The City Council has passed an ordinance suspending public schools in Memphis, which have not been in existence long but which have done much good in a short time. But the aldermen took the view that the schools must be suspended during the war because the city could not afford the expense.

The question has been raised among astronomers whether the light and heat of the sun are gradually falling away. As this would be accompanied by the destruction of all the plants and animals on the earth, it is rather an interesting question.

July 11, 1861

Public Acts of Tennessee -- An Act for the Relief of Volunteers

Sec. 1 Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, that from and after the passage of this act, the Governor is authorized at his discretion to receive into the military service of the State, all male free persons of color between the ages of fifteen and fifty years -- or such numbers as may be necessary, who may be sound in mind and body, and capable of active service.

Sec. 2 That all such free persons of color shall be required to do all such menial service for the relief of the volunteers as is incident to camp life, and necessary to the efficiency of the service, and of which they are capable of performing.

Sec. 3 That such free persons of color shall receive each eight dollars per month as pay, for such person shall be entitled to a yearly allowance each for clothing.

July 12, 1861

Men and boys who have been in the habit of taking off all their clothes and diving into the river off moored steamboats at the foot of Beale are warned that if they persist in the practice the police will introduce them to the recorder.

An alderman in his place in council expressed the opinion the other evening, on a proposition to have all the dogs running about the streets killed, and that each citizen should kill his own superfluous dogs. The question arises, have the superfluous dogs any owners?

July 18, 1861

Council meeting. -- A petition from a one-armed man for leave to peddle without a license was not granted. A petition was presented by Ald. Amis from several parties asking to be allowed to sell ice cream on Sundays. ... Ald. Robinson offered a resolution to contract with Lilman & Green, to remove dead cattle from the streets, at $37.50 a month. Adopted.

July 21, 1861

Yesterday the weather was warm -- the city was dull -- the streets were clean -- the Square was beautiful -- the river was falling -- the mosquitoes were plenty -- so were unpaid debts, pretty girls and candidates.

July 22, 1861

Reports of a great battle at Manassas Junction in Virginia have been confirmed. General Beauregard's Confederate forces of 8,000 men inflicted a disastrous defeat upon the enemy force of 20,000 Federals under command of McDowell.

July 23, 1861

The general impression (in the North) ... seems to be that Richmond and Memphis are the two great points toward whose capture such vigorous movements are now being made -- both being desired as headquarters during the approaching winter for two grand divisions of the federal army...

July 25, 1861

Daniel Edson, the livery clerk of whose arrest we have given an account, was before the recorder yesterday morning on the charge of being a woman, Mrs. Ray, in man's clothes. A large crowd filled the court on the occasion. The lady appeared to answer the charge in the manly garb which she has chosen instead of crinoline and accompaniments. She was fined ten dollars, which she paid.

(Read the whole saga of Dan Edson, including the question presented in criminal court: "Can a woman legally wear pants?")

The greatest battle since that of Waterloo was fought yesterday, in the neighborhood of Manassas, between 50 or 60,000 Southerners on one side, and 95 or 100,000 Yankees and Hessians on the other. .

July 30, 1861

By resolution adopted in the Confederate Congress on the reading before that body of the telegraphic dispatch from President Davis announcing the victory at Manassas, Sunday was set apart as a day of thanksgiving for the success of our arms and the deliverance of our homes from the menacing hordes that have hung upon our borders like wolves upon the outskirts of the forest. We are pleased to state that the day was generally observed in Memphis in accordance with the spirit of the resolution, and we believe that every pulpit echoed the thankfulness that fills the public heart.

Further from Manassas - (from the Richmond Enquirer, July 24)

. . . Our men have not yet completed the burial of the enemy's dead, and they yet remain by scores upon the field where they fell, mangled, putrifying masses of what was once humanity, filling the atmosphere with stench. It is worthy of note in this connection that many of the bodies had lying near them a pile of crackers and a cup of water, which had been left by our volunteers as sustenance until they could be removed from the field.

Aug. 2, 1861

(Read the entire account of a British war correspondent's observations at Memphis and Fort Wright at Randolph)

Seven or eight hundred men were formed into line for inspection. There were few of the soldiers in any kind of uniform, and such uniforms as I saw were in very bad taste; and consisted of gaudy facings and stripes on very strange garments. They were armed with old patter percussion muskets, and their ammunition pouches were of diverse sorts. Shoes often bad, knapsack scarce, head-pieces of every shape...

Aug. 5, 1861

A Memphian, Capt. J. T. Shirley, has designed an iron-plated boat for river service. The iron-plated vessels hitherto built were built for sea service. It is so cased with iron that missiles fired at it glance off and it is considered proof against both shot and shell.

Aug. 7, 1861

(At Manassas)

Col. Wm. C. Faulkner, of the Second Mississippi regiment, and all the brave men of his command, won immortal honor. ..When (his) second horse fell under him, he was thrown violently against a stump, and for some moments lay senseless. Recovering, he again mounted and went forward to engage the foe, Gen. Beauregard, who had been observing his gallant conduct, shouting to him as he went, "Go ahead, you hero with the black plume; history shall never forget you!"

(Col. Faulkner, actually spelled Falkner at the time, was the great-grandfather of William Faulkner.)

Cooper gets a visit from Grams, pt. 2

He loved, loved, loved the rolling cooler that Mom used. I even took him for rides on it around the house.

They're not just blocks, they're MEGA blocks!

Snuggly Snuggie time with Mommy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Cooper gets a visit from Grams, pt. 1

Mom came down for a visit this weekend!

Cooper plays a ditty for his Grams!

She bought him his own table, which no doubt will get some major use by he and Penny for many years!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Jeff's Top 5: Things I Would Totally Buy from SkyMall Magazine

You've read it cover to cover during a flight, laughed about it with your family and friends, and yes, you would totally buy some stuff from it. Here are my picks ...

1. Largest Crossword Puzzle - 7 feet by 7 feet, 28,000 clues and 91,000 squares, a 100-page clue book. The description says it's "for the lone wordsmith." Yeah, I'd say "lone" is the key word here. The movie "A Beautiful Mind" comes to mind also.

2. All Edges Lasagna/Brownie Pan - I'm not as picky about my lasagna, but would be completely stoked by having all edges on my brownies!

3. Voice Activated R2-D2 - For inner nerd. And outer, because we all know it's just Nerd Central in the Rushing house.

4. John Wayne Monopoly - I will buy up Monument Valley and charge you a fortune to cross it in your stagecoach, or I will start shooting.

5. Squirting Remote Control Car - Because everyone needs something completely useless and ridiculous, yet sort of awesome.

Honorable Mention

Brobdingnagian Sports Chair - Why do you need a 5 1/2 foot tall chair? Favorite line from the description: "affords ample room for full-body gesticulations." Also: "Step stool not included."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The "Huxtable" part is my favorite

Not to say that expectations have been small for the Tigers football team the last couple of years, but one can't be surprised that they would make the list of "The Least Watchable College Football Teams In Recent Memory: A Loathing Compendium":
MEMPHIS 2009-2010. Remember that we are not discussing teams that played hard, and so that means we can keep on talking here about Memphis 2011. Some teams lose with valor, and are thus fun to watch in the way that reading a Hemingway short story is: you know this ends with blood poisoning killing the narrator, but the drinks and stoic bitterness along the way will give it all a kind of sepia-toned dignity.

That would not describe the only multi-year nominee here, the package deal of the 2-10 2009 Memphis Tigers team that got Tommy West fired and the 2010 1-11 team Larry Porter took to familiar depths the following year. I knew something was special about this Memphis team from the start, and knew it from personal experience. I had stayed in their hotel for their trip to the St. Petersburg Magic Jack Bowl in 2008. They spent most of the night and some of the morning before the game attempting to pick up middle aged ladies from a sorority reunion downstairs with lines like "Wassup, Claire Huxtable," and that's when I thought: "We have a special group of young men here. They're going to do spectacular things."

I was not wrong. The 2-10 team in 2010 relied on one freakish game against UTEP (always good for one mind-blowing loss a year under Mike Price) and a win over FCS Tennessee-Martin to climb to the two win pinnacle. The rest was carnage, including a 55-14 loss to Houston where the entire team should have been hosed off the grass like the remnants of a herd of cattle who stumbled into a minefield.

AND YET THERE'S MORE. The Tigers fired Tommy West, hired Larry Porter, and then kept right on using the tree shredder to do routine shaving. The Tigers got worse the next year under Porter, racking up exactly one win in 2010 against Middle Tennessee State in a game so execrable footage of it causes no fewer than seven major diseases upon rewatching, all of them being some variation of CancerAIDSheartattackEbolaflu.

You could cite the rankings, sure: their 116th ranked rushing offense, 119th ranked scoring offense, 115th rank in total defense, or their 118th ranked turnover margin. Any of those would suffice, but focus instead on the only enjoyable element of Memphis football: players celebrating wildly after making marginally good plays while losing by thirty points.

Cooper Swimming at the Burk Party, pt. 2

Back home, Cooper found his old bouncer in the pile of things we're starting to gather for his little sister, and pushed it all around the house ...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Vain Blog Post On Personal Political Preferences


"Facebook and Twitter Are Creating a Vain Generation of Self-Obsessed People With Child-Like Need for Feedback, Warns Top Scientist"
If you enjoyed this report, please click "LIKE," share with your friends and re-Tweet or my life's work will be rendered meaningless.

"How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education‎"
Sample courses taught: Genetic Engineering 101, Using Alien Lifeforms For Mind Control, Advanced Studies In Revenge, Tactics

- GLOBAL WARMING WATCH: Don't you hate it when science gets in the way of scientists' doctrines?
Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that
the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle.
Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth’s changing climate is feedback from manmade greenhouse gases.

- NEW AGE OF CIVILITY WATCH: During the debt debate, VP Biden agreed with another Dem that the Republicans were acting like "a group of terrorists."

Nancy Pelosi went global, saying that, "we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget..We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today," and "The budget deficit is an excuse for the Republicans to undermine government plain and simple. They don't just want to make cuts, they want to destroy. They want to destroy food safety, clean air, clean water, the department of education...."

Former Obama administration official Steven Rattner: “These Tea Party guys are, like, strapped with dynamite, standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying, ‘Either you do it my way, or we’re going to blow you up, ourselves up, and the whole country up with us.’ ’’

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warns that “if sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the GOP on a suicide mission.’’

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House minority whip, compares the debate on the Right to “Russian roulette’’ with loaded chambers, and how House Republicans “want to shoot every bullet they have at the president.’’

Former Ted Kennedy aide William Yeomans, now an American University law professor, says labeling Tea Party Republicans “hostage-takers’’ doesn’t go far enough, since “they have now become full-blown terrorists.’’

Liberal columnist Ruth Marcus compares the GOP to a bunch of pistol-packing punks: "Welcome to the new Washington normal: endless rounds of legislative carjacking...One side wanted the car, had a gun and wasn’t afraid — certainly not afraid enough — to use it. The other had a child in the back seat."

Cooper Swimming at the Burk Party

A little over a week ago Val's uncle Steve and aunt Gloria had a get-together, and Cooper got to hop in the pool with Cousin Cody:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cooper's Cute "No"

Here's another from May that I guess I forgot to post:

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Joys of Parenting

Things We Know We Shouldn't Do - But Do Anyway

1. Fib that Bunny Lala got a brand-new fur coat when you accidentally shredded the real Bunny Lala in the dryer and bought a look-alike.

2. Say you're out of mac 'n' cheese to avoid having the fifth "but you need protein" fight that week.

3. Crack up at how crazy-funny your toddler looks when he's having a tantrum.

4. Set the clocks ahead an hour so it's "bedtime," just because you need some silence.

5. Sit back and let your kid be hyper-loud in the yard because it annoys your mean neighbor lady so much.

6. Give in and let the kids paint the dog's nails because you're too tired to come up with a reason not to.

7. Funnel the birthday checks from the grandparents directly into the college fund without telling your kids. They need education more than another Littlest Pet Shop toy.

8. Lie to your 10-year-old about what Lady Gaga means when she sings that she wants to "take a ride on your disco stick."

9. Terrify expectant moms with life-as-you-know-it-is-over stories. It's true, and they'll find out soon enough.

10. Tell each sibling he's the special one .... and mean it.

(From Parenting magazine)