Duke Gardlebean

I heard a commentary on NPR this morning from an aid worker who is putting some nuts out there by saying America is upset at a slow aid effort. Slow compared to what?

I won't add bias, listen to the story. It crystalized a feeling I was developing over the last couple days that the Blame Game is in full swing and the 24 hour media did a good job illuminating the faults with our system, but it's all overblown compared to what happens around the world.

Take a listen.

Mrs. Austin and I were relaxin' around the house Saturday morning watching our son slowly turn from a baby into a little kid. Watching him walk and try to talk, I know where the term toddler came from. Yogi has the balance of drunk and the coordination of a newborn calf, but man his resolve to get places is unparalleled. He moves like he's motivated with money or his life.

For the last couple weeks, maybe months, he's started to do things that are showing more and more cognitive development. He knows patterns and anticipates events or tasks to come. Example: When it's bed time and he's had his bath and he's got his milk, he knows that when I'm putting his PJ shirt on he can shift his milk holding hand and stuff the other arm into a sleeve. He knows that after a shower he finds a towel and puts it on his head. He doesn't understand drying off, but he knows that the towel will make it all ok.

A side effect of this new level of thinking is his empathy skills, which are both cute and worrisome. Cute in that he's acting like a person and not a blob of human parts, but it also acts as a mirror to the people he lives with. When someone falls down or seems sad, he really wants to come up and give them a hug. If they hang their head, he bends down and looks into your face and makes a little inquisitive sound like "Are you ok?" He's starting to use spoons and forks more effectively, so much so that cleaning after dinner is become less a chore than in the past. Don't get me wrong, we still have to get Spaghettios out of his ears, but not as many off the floor.

But, he also yells at his sister when he thinks she's in trouble. If she's sitting in her room crying because she was just told by a parent to clean her room and stop crying or she'll get a spanking, he'll stand at her doorway shouting at her like he's doing the scolding. It's concerning to me that this is how he sees me, as a yeller and a punisher. It makes me want to stop, but that's a different topic.

I know I wrote a lot about Lil' Miss Austin when she was a toddler and I feel it's just fair that I pay some props to the little man. He's the cutest freakin' kid I've ever seen. He smiles a lot and laughs and shouts and purses his lips when he thinks really hard. He loves dropping things from the loft into the entryway below. He loves pushing things that have wheels and some things that don't. Even though we worry about his breathing, he does not seem in anyway hampered by ailments.

He's such a great little kid and he and LMA act so well together. It's neat to see them run around and play tag and tackle and watch cartoons together. It's funny to hear them fight over toys, and it's sweet to see them share. I'm really lucky to have them as kids.

This weekend saw some more home improvements. We finally got around to replacing most of the light bulbs. There was one above the dining room that was part of a ceiling fan the previous owner said they had to special order. So Mrs. A went online and looked for bulbs and really only found that it's hard to shop for bulbs online. So she hit Lowe's and got a few bulbs and one of those extender arms to help you replace hard to reach bulbs if you live in a house full of light fixtures that are just too high to make any fucking sense.

So we try this new arm on a couple fixtures that we could reach with a ladder, only to find that it doesn't really work that great. The little grabber/net spring loaded thing only works, I'm guessing, if the bulb is just hanging by a wire several inches away from a wall or ceiling. If the bulb is actually in any mounted fixture, you're out of luck with the grabber, so they included a suction cup and other implements of destruction. None were very useful. Especially for the outside light.

The outside light is a problem. I don't even know what kind of light this is, awning light? You know, there's a garage light, porch light, kitchen light, sconce, torch, table lamp, chandelier, etc. It's a flush mount with a triangle bulb, either incandescent or halogen, but it's about 40 feet above the front door inside a little upside down alcove. I guess it lights the door from above.

So we used the arm with the grabber, but couldn't get a good grip. Next the suction cup but it never got any suction or traction. So we tag out a couple times, arms getting sore from holding this pole for minutes at a time. Eventually, Mrs. A comes out wearing racquetball goggles and a determined look. She was able to get the grabber thing into the mount, but then couldn't get it or the bulb back out. Like the monkey with the hand in the anthill with a hand full of goodies, but with his hand in a fist, he can't pull away. Ok, I'm alone on that analogy.

So now all we want is to get the pole out of there. We find out there's an old nest behind the light and it's starting to drop pieces into our faces. Finally Mrs. A comes in and says, "Well I have good news. The pole's out." The gripper thing is still up there and the light bulb is shoved to one side. I know there's got to be a way to access that light without having to use a long pole, but I think it requires crawling through insulation and hot.

So, screw that light, it doesn't work.

That's the news.

Oh, the name of this post? Apparently Lil Miss A has a few imaginary friends. One named Honey and one named Duke Gardlebean (I'm guessing at the spelling.) She also does a pretty creepy impression of an adult talking on the phone. She answers her little toy cell phone like she's just found a long lost college roommate. Weird.

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