Monthly Archives: April 2008

So that Grant’s Farm trip on Sunday …

Now that Oliver and Sarah are both sleeping at the same time, I am sneaking some Internet time on the laptop. Thought I’d write a little more about Sunday’s trip to Grant’s Farm. It was for my work picnic. We bundled Oliver up in a little onesy that has a tie sewn on it, and we topped his outfit off with his first pair of blue jeans. It was pretty cute.

So anyway, we were running late as usual. I actually thought I had made up for lost time with my driving, but had forgotten about the LONG tram ride. We had to take it all the way to the back area of the park where our picnic was being held. Needless to say, we missed the special tour our company had arranged. Instead, we indulged in some brats and hamburgers. Then we walked around and did all the regular “Grant’s Farm stuff” that you do there. You know, feeding animals, reading about animals and looking at animals, as well as smelling poo, looking out for poo and trying not to step in a pile of poo.

After a few hours, Oliver was getting fussy so we headed home. He was a hit at the party, but I’m pretty sure he’ll enjoy his next trip to the park — when he’s older and all that. Anyway, I’m trying out a new photo service tonight. If it works, there should be a few pictures below. Enjoy!


Oliver all dressed up:





Sarah feeding her new friend:




Me feeding my new friend:




By this time, even the kangaroos were getting tired:




And so Oliver and Sarah posed for the obligatory “You-can-tell-I’m-at-Grant’s-Farm-because-of-the-sign-behind-us” photo shortly before leaving the park:



 

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Where has Justin been lately?

I haven’t written a blog post in several days. And I don’t even feel like doing this now. However, I’m caving to the pressure of loyal readers such as Jennifer Hatton’s mom (just kidding; I’m really happy to have you here!).

So where have I been? I’ve been super busy of late. I’ve had about four or five blog ideas in the past week, and I’ve had pictures as well. I just haven’t had time to write anything.

A few days ago, for example, we had Oliver’s great-grandpa Gil’s 90th birthday party. We had a blast, just talking and hanging out. We even played Wii together. Gil loves to play bowling, and he’s pretty good at it.

Then on Saturday we went on a massive, and long overdue, shopping trip. On Sunday, we took Oliver to Grant’s Farm for my work picnic. It was a little chilly and made for a long day, though we had fun. When I got home, I needed to grade papers for the courses I’m teaching in my spare (“spare”? How funny is that?) time. However, our thermostat wasn’t kicking on and it was getting cold in the house. As Sarah prepared for the thought of taking Oliver to spend the night at her mom’s house, I went downstairs and worked on the unit. Thankfully, I know how to read the HVAC Morse code-like blinking light. Turned out it was just a burnt fuse that needed to be replaced, so I took the thing apart, found the culprit and head to Home Depot. Of course, HD didn’t have the damn thing, so I had to head across town to AutoZone. Got the part, came home and the unit worked fine. I then graded papers until bed time.

Yesterday was a complete blur. To give you a better understanding of how my day went, I thought I’d break it down by time. Here you go:

6:30 a.m. – Wake up for work
7:20 a.m. – Leave for the office
8 a.m. – Arrive at the office (BTW, this long commute that I’ve been doing over the past three years is ABSOLUTELY KILLING ME – it’s taken years off my life and I wish we could afford to live in certain areas of St. Louis County that are, quite frankly, out of our price range at this point in life)
Noon – Eat lunch
12:30 p.m. – Back to work
5 p.m. – Leave work
5:45 p.m. – Arrive home (again, the long commute was a blast)
5:50 p.m. – Help calm Oliver, help with dinner, clean up the kitchen
6:45 p.m. – Eat dinner and clean up afterward
7:15 p.m. – Head upstairs to grade papers
10 p.m. – After finishing grading, head downstairs and am given Oliver and told by the wife, “I’m going to bed. I’ve had him all day and I’m tired.” I’m like, “I have also had a long day.” The wife shrugs it off.
11:30 p.m. – Awake from awkward and light sleep, startled and ready for bed. Let the dog out and head upstairs, where Oliver wakes up and starts feeding. Of course, the lights are on the entire time, and he’s grunting and snorting. This is causing our dog, Molly, to bark from her crate downstairs.
12:30 a.m. – Oliver finally goes to sleep. I’m wide awake due to the commotion that took place over the past hour. Plus, the darn lights. I don’t know how I could have physically gone back to sleep. Google the words “sleep,” “light” and “melatonin” and see what that cocktail of items does to your sleep cycle. Do it now. This page isn’t going anywhere. We can wait for you to come back.
1:30 a.m. – Oliver is awake again, snorting and ready to eat (again! just an hour later!!!)
2 a.m. – Fed up with laying there and thinking about my alarm going off in a few hours, I head to the guest room. I lay there for an hour, listening to Oliver cry and snort, and getting angry at our dog, who is now barking rhythmically every 1 minute or so
2:45 a.m. – Finally fall asleep for good.
6:20 a.m. – Wake up for work.
7 a.m. – Start this blog post
7:20 a.m. – Head out to my car to start the whole cycle over again.

What a day, and what a frickin’ week. Hopefully things will slow down soon, though I have 25 more papers to edit this week, plus there are about 80 more due this coming Saturday. Sorry to rant so much in this post, but it makes me feel better. Plus, I know that there are a lot of new moms who read this blog, so maybe (just maybe) a lucky husband out there might catch a break by someone who finds some sympathy for me.

Really touched today by story of Sarah Jane

Anyone who knows me or has been around me over the past, well, 32-plus years knows my thoughts on charities. While I have never had anything against them at all, it’s the giving of my money to them that I never got around to actually doing. You see, I had a pretty humble youth. Later in life, I was a poor college student and struggling journalist. I’ve lived on my own (with some help from the parents, mind you) since the fall of 1995. For 10 years, I struggled financially as most of my friends flourished with well-paying jobs. I’m living proof that it’s really difficult to make a career out of an English degree.

Flash forward to the present, and I’m now doing pretty well. There’s room for growth, yes, but it’s nothing like the late 1990s and early “aughts.” I now have a master’s degree, a great job, a side gig teaching college classes and a wife who also earns an income. I also have a son.

Having a son has really changed my outlook on helping others. For example, I recently bought overpriced candy bars to help seventh-graders pay for their basketball jerseys. I even had a 2-3 minute conversation with the girls, teasing them about how I could head back inside Schnucks and buy three candy bars for the price of one of theirs. I still bought three of theirs. Best (and only) $2 candy bars I’ve ever tasted.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I was really touched today. A little over a year ago, I helped on a video for a client and the editing took place at SmithLee Productions in Maplewood. Overseeing the project was Dave Smith (to my hockey friends: this is not “Diving Dave” Smith who used to play for the Black Bears and mysteriously fall like he had been shot every time a stick went near him). Dave owns SmithLee. He was great to work with, and after the project I agreed to meet him for lunch a few months later.

During that lunch, I learned about his daughter, Sarah Jane. She suffers from seizures. Originally able to walk and talk, she sustained major injuries from a five-hour epileptic seizure in 2004. She’s currently recovering from an operation to rebuild her hip joints so she will one day be able to stand up, ride a special tricycle and walk using a special machine. The activities, according to Dave, will help extend Sarah Jane’s life.

Hearing and reading about Sarah Jane and her progress and challenges has moved me like never before, probably because our little Oliver has given me a new perspective on parenting and children. You never know what life will throw at you, and having a child has really softened me up when it comes to relating to other parents.

In an e-mail from Dave today I was informed about a trivia night and silent auction that will be held next Thursday to benefit Sarah’s medical fund. Details can be found by clicking here. You can also find more information about Sarah Jane on her Web site by clicking here. It’s worth checking out, and it would mean a lot if you’d forward the links along to anybody who might be interested in helping Dave and his family.

What do you think? Am I becoming a “softie?” Can any of you new parents out there relate? What about my fellow English majors?

Oliver and his first lady-friend

Oliver met his first lady-friend yesterday. You may recall that my good friend Mike and his wife had a daughter about two and half weeks before we had our son. Mary Kate and Oliver are now about the same size, though Mary acts much more mature, plus she smiles a lot (Oliver is just starting to smile, though I haven’t been able to capture one on film).

It was cool seeing the two of them together, but they’re babies, so they didn’t really interact. It will be even cooler to see how their friendship evolves over the years. Oliver should be a certified ladies man by the time he’s a teenager — all of my friends who are pregnant are having girls, and all the ones who had babies during the past year had girls (except Jen and her son Drew). Here’s a picture of cute little Mary Kate, followed by the babies with their moms and another that looks like the two are singing in unison (in that picture, Mary Kate was crying and Oliver was yawning). Enjoy:







For those in caves with Internet access, we did feel an earthquake

It’s been confirmed: What we felt last night was a magnitude-5.2 earthquake. I thought I’d let you know in case you live in a cave that’s somehow equipped with Internet access and, like most of my loyal readers, you check out my blog before reading the daily news.

We also had an aftershock a little over an hour ago. I heard the magnitude was in the 4s. It was a little freaky.

So what exactly went down at the Lopinot household in the wee hours this morning. Well, as I’ve been telling a few people around the office today: A woman’s chest was exposed and the bed was a-rocking, but it was nothing like my college years. Yes, Sarah was feeding Oliver and our bed was shaking like crazy. In my tired stupor, I thought maybe his vibrating bouncer was on and touching the bed (like that little thing could have shaken our king-size mattress with that much authority).

After realizing it wasn’t the bouncer or wind, I was like, “I think it’s an earthquake. What do we do?” I just couldn’t remember. It had been nearly 20 years since the late Iben Browning, a business consultant and climatologist, predicted a 50-50 chance that an earthquake would take place along the New Madrid Fault between Dec. 1 and 5, 1990 (I had the year wrong in my earlier post; I found the information here). The media was all over that prediction and, naturally, the public freaked out and overreacted. At our school, we learned to stand in a doorway, get under a desk or head outside. Of course, at 4:37 a.m. and extra tired due to our baby, I couldn’t remember those things. Instead, we headed downstairs, got on the Internet and turned on the TV.

Nearly 20 minutes went by before KSDK broke into the national morning show and informed us that we had experienced an earthquake. I can’t believe it took 20 minutes. In this instant-or-bust society, 20 minutes is a LONG time. They could have at least put a scroll at the bottom of the screen telling viewers that they’d have information forthcoming. The anticipation nearly drained me.

I was back to sleep around 5:15 a.m., turned off my alarm at 6:20 a.m., and overslept until 8 a.m. Then we had that fun aftershock here. What a day.

Nothing new on the Tiny Love mobile front, plus our new ride

There’s nothing new to report on the Tiny Love mobile front. It’s pretty ridiculous, but I’m just too tired to deal with it right now (tonight, for example, I had an hour-long conference call from home this evening, and I still need to check e-mail for the college courses that I’m teaching). I’m still angry about the mobile, but I’m just tired.

I need better Web diagnostics on this site, but there was a spike in readership on the post about the Symphony in Motion mobile and the near tragic snapping strap. Whether somebody from the company read the post, I’m not sure, but at least people are becoming more aware of this faulty product.

Most of you know that I work in the public relations industry. I advise companies about how to deal with situations like the one that happened to us. The so-called “blogosphere” is large — and permanent. Soon, my blog entry will be listed among Google searches for this product. Companies like Tiny Love should take bloggers like me seriously. Despite my skewed Technorati ranking (it’s based on http://blog.blogfullofletters.com and not http://www.blogfullofletters.com, with is the URL people link to), I have a pretty strong readership. If a company like Tiny Love would read a blog post like mine and then step in to make the situation right, especially before I take the time to contact them myself, that could have a positive impact on their business. It would show that they truly care. Or they can just keep quiet and I’ll continue spreading the word about the situation, as I’ve already started doing on several Web sites. But I digress …

Well, another reason that I’m tired is that we were out pretty late (for us) last night buying a new vehicle for Sarah. We purchased a 2008 Mazda Tribute. It’s pretty nice, and the gas mileage is decent for an SUV so I don’t feel too bad about our carbon footprint. The best thing is that it will be great for hauling Oliver and Molly around in. I can’t wait for our next road trip down to Springfield, Mo., to see the parents. We’ll have so much more room!

Below is a picture of the new ride. Enjoy:

Symphony in Motion almost maims our “Tiny Love”

I received a panicky voice mail from my wife today. I had just gotten out of a meeting and was ready to head to lunch when I checked my phone. Sarah’s voice was trembling and all she said was, “Justin. It’s Sarah. Please call me. Bye.” Needless to say, I was nervous.

Turns out my instinct was correct. You see, Sarah was trying to calm Oliver this morning in his crib. She had his mobile going. It’s the Symphony in Motion model by the company Tiny Love. This model wasn’t our first choice, but we didn’t have many options due to the sleigh-style crib we purchased (with the help of our mothers, I might add). The attachments on most of the popular mobile models wouldn’t fit over the wood slats on our crib. So we checked around, read reviews and settled on the Symphony in Motion model.

So back to today … Sarah had Oliver in the crib and was going about her business. She heard a cry coming from the baby room, so she went to check on Oliver. He was fine and the mobile was still going strong. Then, she heard a loud “CRACK,” and the mobile came crashing down right on top of Oliver. It smashed into his face, and he let out a shriek like she had never heard before. She also said that Oliver’s face turned a bright red.

Yes, the strap on our well-reviewed Symphony in Motion mobile snapped and the darn thing came crashing down. Unbelievable. Luckily, the part that hit his face was fairly soft and not one of the hard plastic parts. It could have seriously damaged his developing brain or wounded his poor, defenseless face. Needless to say DO NOT buy this product. It is not safe.

What should I do about it? I feel like we deserve some sort of justice for this near-tragic incident. It sickens me that something like this could happen to a baby, especially ours. Let me know what you think. And for evidence, below are a few pictures that I took when I got home from work.

Here’s the mobile in the position I found it in:



Here’s a close-up picture of the broken strap:



And here’s a picture taken after I took the thing down; it’s of the broken strap and the parts that were supposed to be holding this together:



Oliver rocks out (cold) to 87.5 FM

For those of you who know me well or have been reading this blog regularly, you are quite aware that Oliver has been pretty fussy of late. We’ve tried everything (you name it, we’ve tried it). About a week ago, we watched a video called “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” While not all of the techniques work all of the time, one of the best is using white noise to calm him down.

I’ve now found that the best way to keep Oliver quiet is to lay him on the ground in front of our TV. I then place a speaker next to him and tune the radio in to 87.5 FM. For those of you not in the St. Louis area, that station does not exist. It’s all static — and Oliver LOVES it!

He doesn’t always sleep when the radio is tuned to his new favorite station, but he stays pretty quiet, just looking around and cooing every once in a while. We’re having a good time now. I’m watching the Cardinals game without sounds (Pujols just hit a three-run HR … hold on … OK, I’m back) and he’s being a good little boy.

Below is a picture of Oliver rocking out (cold) to 87.5 FM. Notice the “rock fist” he’s making? Maybe I’ll have a little buddy to go to some concerts with me in a few years. That’d be cool. Enjoy: