Tuesday, January 31, 2006

a visit to the dentist

Today Cooper had his regular visit to the dentist. Apparently today was also the day they talked about brushing their teeth in school.

Cooper loves going to the dentist, which is pretty strange for me with my slight dental phobia. It is funny because, I have watched the kid being born, been there for most every needle shot and other painful act, but I had to turn my head when they stick that pointy mental tool in his mouth. I cringe just writing this.

I'm not totally sure where my phobia comes from. Maybe it just is. But I am glad my son enjoys his trips to the dentist.

welcome to the dome

The Pseudoviolence of the Fusion Dome
By Valerie Welch (guest blogger)

This Christmas, my six-year-old son wanted two things. The first was a Sponge Bob beach ball. His old beach ball, given to him by his Granny, met its untimely demise in a family game of “Throw the beach ball inside as hard as you can.” His second request was rather mysterious; known only to him and his father, it was referred to as “the set.” Cooper and Chad saw this toy at Wal-Mart, but neither has a knack for memorization of details such as the actual name of the toy. Here’s what I first learned about “the set”:

1. It was a toy.
2. It was at Wal-Mart.
3. It had “men” that “came together.”

Now, this description was about all that my husband or son could come up with. I didn’t worry about it too much, trusting my husband to at least be able to visually identify “the set” and intervene with the North Pole accordingly.

To get even closer to Santa that year, we went to the eighth floor of Marshall Field’s in Minneapolis to see the holiday display and speak to the big man himself. After a long wait in line with some other children’s overzealous grandmother breathing down our necks, Cooper finally got to hop aboard the old man’s lap and answer the traditional question: “So, what do you want for Christmas?”

With a conspiratorial smile, Cooper raised his little hand to his mouth and related in a stage whisper, “I want a set.”

“Ohhh…a set. A set of what?”

“Of the men. That come together.”

Santa gives a jolly, yet slightly questioning glance to us, the proud parents waiting in the wings beside Brittany, the teenage elf photographer. We nod and smile knowingly...we are aware of the meaning of “the set.” All is well. Cooper and Santa briefly discuss the Sponge Bob beach ball, then we’re off to watch the Holidazzle parade.

On Christmas Day, I discovered at long last the true identity of “the set.” It is a toy made by Fisher-Price known as the Fusion Dome. This consists of a plastic, stage-like apparatus, upon which various plastic beings are set. The beings are each part of their own gang, posse, or “Fusion Crew.” There’s the animal crew and the monster crew. Each creature has the same “tough-guy” stance, with arms braced for action and legs slightly bent at the knees. The figurines also have the unique talent of splitting in half, down the middle of the body, in what we would call in medicine the mid-sagittal plane. The creatures then are able to merge the right halves of their bodies with the left halves of other creatures bodies, creating an entirely new beast by means of strategically placed magnets.

This is where Fisher-Price cleverly appeals to a young boy’s zeal for testosterone-laden violence, yet skirts the actual appearance or mention of such. Any given beast and his “opponent” are placed on the stage and covered with a semi-opaque hemisphere—The Fusion Dome. Next, the “opponents” are “challenged” to a “match.” Again, note the lack of words such as “fight.” Lights start to flash, and we hear the figurines grunting and crying out—yet we do not see any actual hits, kicks, or blows whatsoever. After a few minutes, one beast is declared the winner, and the other is quickly dumped down a miniature plastic tunnel to make space for the next “challenger.”

I find this concept in male-oriented toys intriguing, and at the same time confusing. Is this promoting violence, or providing a safe, relatively non-violent way for children to express their natural desire for competition and aggression? Is this a “starter drug” for more violent games and toys later in life, or a more positive alternative? At any rate, my son loves playing with it, and actually is much more interested in combining the half-figurines in various permutations than conducting “matches.” Eternal questions, therefore, have surfaced in my household about the nature of masculinity, violence, aggression, and competition—all because of “the set, where the men come together.”

Virtual Fusion Dome

web redesign

I have updated Cooper's home page, CooperWelch.com

Since I started the first blog the news section never got updated (because it was easier to update the blog) so I have streamlined the front page design.

He's six now, and needed an update on his site.

Friday, January 27, 2006

not again

Well, Cooper got in trouble at school again. He got into a spat with a fourth-grader during their puzzle time.

I had a good talk with his teacher. Part of the frustration is that the majority of the time he is a happy, friendly kid at school. He had some issues getting his work done, but those have to do with concentrating and getting distracted by other things.

But the hitting seems like it is out of nowhere. We can't figure out exactly why he has done it the two times that he has. I thought maybe part of it was his inability to express himself verbally. He was a late talker and went to speech therapy. He used to throw huge fits because he couldn't communicate what he waned.

The teacher said this his verbal skills are above the majority of the class. And the he is smart and thinks outside the box. And he is very apologetic after he commits his act. She thought that part of it may be that he is very curious and is kind of testing what happens.

He will be involved in a type of peer group at school. I hope to be talking to the counselor soon. We are certainly blessed with teachers and school employees that will work with us. That is such a blessing. I can't imagine having to be a parent that doesn't have that, or worse a kid who doesn't have that and doesn't have the support at home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

can you hear me now?

Well, my wife's PDA has slowly been drifting away. So she need something to replace it. Apparently she keeps her schedule on the thing and runs some programs at work so on and so forth. She diligently researched and decided on a PDA/phone combo.

So we recently headed down to the Verizon store to get it. At the store you have to sign your name on a pad of paper, which she did, and then one of the service reps calls your name. She was skipped over twice. The second time she stopped the lady and got taken care of. This whole phone thing took forever.

Meanwhile I was trying to round Cooper up, kind of like a sheep dog trying to keep the sheep headed in the right direction and keep them from touching every phone in the store.

We headed next door and I asked my wife to pick up the USB cable for me measly LG 8100. They asked if I wanted the audio or video one. I wasn't there, but she called me. I want the USB cable. Then the guy told her that it wouldn't work without a SD card. She was smart enough to lie and tell the guy I had one.

So now, thanks to BitPim I am able to download pictures from my phone and upload my own ring tones to the phone, and without paying the charges that Verizon would like me to.

So here I sit, late at night, googling for free ring tones.

meet coop's dad

No, not me another coop's dad. T. Nic' Hinson is an expecting father of Jacob Cooper Hinson. He was nice enough to drop a note on the Raising Cooper blog. While he has yet to meet Coop face to face, from the looks of his blog he is having a great time getting ready. That is fun to see. It brings back a lot of memories for me.

So I wish the Hinson's great joy in the coming days, months and years as the welcome a new little one to their fold. I will be following along at home.

Monday, January 23, 2006

the door is here

After the long saga with HomeDepot and well after the Christmas decorations have been put away the door is here.

I got a call a week or so ago from HomeDepot that it had arrived. Val was on call this weekend and with all the things going on for church, there was just no way. So today, after Cooper left for school, I went down to and picked it up.

Then, when I got back, I installed it in place of his door. I have a little issues to work out with the handle hardware, but otherwise the installation went well. I had the door up before Cooper got home from school. He was very excited when I told him he got something from Grandma and Grandpa. He asked if it was big and I told him it was bigger than he was.

He ran up to his room and first just saw the white outside and said, "it's a new door." Then he went inside and saw Buzz. I have a feeling is door is going to be shut a lot more.

I told him we would call Grandma and Grandpa tonight, to which he added, "and send them a thank you card." Maybe some things are starting to sink in.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Kid Stuf

Today our church put on it's first ever version of Kid Stuf.

I was blessed to be asked to be part of the production and had a lot of fun doing it. It was hard to judge from my perspective how everything came across to the audience.

I got to see the dramas from back stage and they did a great job. I had watched them in practice and I was still laughing today.

The main props (yes, I am too old to use words like props) go out to Brenton Balvin our associate pastor who headed up the entire production and served as the main host. Even after I flooded his in-box with my many ideas for Kid Stuf. [after today's service I am as convinced as ever that the auditorium is the place to hold Kid Stuf, but I would love to get reactions from those in the crowd today]

The only flaw I saw was one that I made in the one part we didn't rehearse. I was on stage at the end and when I tried to get out of the way for the singers and dancers I passed right in front of one of the speakers and set off some major feedback. (sorry about that y'all) But I have learned, and while normally for our sound guys sanity I wouldn't turn off the mic, I probably should have knowing I was done.

I know Cooper had a great time. And considering Val was on call so I had to take him to the Saturday practice and I had to wake him up Sunday morning to go in with me, he still loved the show. Thanks to everyone involved in the production today.

thinking forward/thinking back

I guess there have been quite a few things lately, including the impending birth of #2 that has me thinking back to when Cooper was born. Val was in residency and her schedule was nuts. She got 2 months off when Cooper was born and then she was back to 15+ hour days and sleeping at the hospital every 4th night. Sometimes I literally wouldn't see her for a 4-5 days at a time.

I was working full time. My boss was very gracious to let me telecommute half days once Cooper was born.

As hard as it was on me, it had to be especially hard on Val. For that I am eternally grateful to her. For out of that chaos came a delightful, funny, adorable little boy. And while I wouldn't want to do it again, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I am thankful that now our life is at a little slower pace. That Val will be able to take more time off and when she goes back it won't be a schedule where she misses out on a great deal of his first 18 months.

I am thankful to a wife who is willing to go against the traditional gender roles and allow me to stay at home and raise our children, even when she would be very happy to switch places. She may now be wishing she married someone smarter.

I love you sweetie. You are an amazing woman.

Friday, January 20, 2006

a week with no TV

Cooper got in trouble at school earlier this week. It is a long story, but as his consequence he lost his Television rights. It has been interesting to see how this week has gone.

It was definitely a punishment for him. He lost not just TV but computer time and video games. Today he was asking to watch me play a video game. He didn't get to.

I have gotten less done this week. Even in one hour of TV time I seem to get a lot done. But overall it was good week really. So we may have to try it a little more. I will try to watch myself and make sure I do not become too dependent on the live in babysitter called Television.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

TOP 10

To start this new blog off I thought I would share my top 10 things about being a stay-at-home dad.

10. Learning the wide variance in hues and saturation of human poop.

9. Every night is "Taco Night"

8. Bragging about your successful wife.

7. 3 am feeding, 3 am sportscenter

6. Using a giant duffle bag as a diaper bag.

5. Awkwardly singing "Good Bye Mommies" at playgroup.

4. Culvers is a business lunch.

3. Seeing the reactions when you tell people "where you work"

2. Boys learn to pee standing up.

1. Your boss is often whiney and demanding, but you still love him.