A Seder Filled With Pandemic, Lost Teeth, And No Internet

Toothless_JSLFriday night was the first night of Passover.  As such, we had the first Seder.  It was nice and the boys enjoyed it.  They even stayed up until the very end – going to sleep at 12:30am!  (Their bed time is usually 8:30pm so this was quite the late night for them.)  The next day/night, though.  THAT’s when things got interesting.

As the second Seder neared, we decided to give the boys a snack.  After all, there’s a lot of stuff to get through in a Seder before we eat.  So, among other snacks, I cut up some apples for us to share.  Now, JSL had two very loose teeth for some time.  They were actually pointing outward a bit which was quite creepy to look at.  The first one came out after JSL bit into a slice of pizza at an Autism fair.  (I ran with him to the bathroom to extradite the tooth.)  As he bit into an apple slice, the second tooth began to bleed and got very wiggly.  As much as I shook it, though, it wouldn’t come out.  The bleeding stopped, though, so we made our way to the Seder.

Once we arrived, the boys and I played a few games with one of B’s relatives.  It turns out that he’s quite the gamer and brought along Pandemic.  He explained the game as he set up for the four of us. We didn’t get to play the whole game (as the Seder started), but what we did play was very different from other games I’ve played.   In other games, you are out for yourself (and, perhaps, a teammate) trying to beat the other players.  In Pandemic, all of the players are working together.  You don’t sabotage the people playing with you, but try to figure out ways to help them.  After all, you are all playing as medical professionals fighting a series of illnesses.  If you all lose, the illnesses spread out of control.  If you all win, the illnesses are eradicated.  I could definitely see playing this with B and the boys to help NHL understand how to work with people to achieve a goal.  I could also see this being used in an office environment as a team building exercise.  I’ve been eyeing the game ever since that night and it’s only a matter of time before I buy it.

The pre-meal portion of the Seder passed without anything unusual happening.  Which is saying something considering that B’s family’s Seder routinely involves people being whipped with scallions, her uncle talking like one of her aunts, and another relative of hers read her passage with liberal use of the Hebrew word shadayim (breasts).  (It’s quite a fun Seder.)  As we began eating the meal, JSL eagerly started eating the matzo ball in his soup… and then screamed out.  His tooth was bleeding again.  I was prepared and took him away from the table where this time the tooth came out.  I wrapped it up, helped him with his bleeding mouth, and comforted him (it was late already and a bit traumatic).

After dessert, the Seder started back up, but we had to leave.  It was already past midnight.  We got home and despite my suggestions, JSL insisted on writing a note to the Tooth Fairy that night.

We also discovered something else:  We had no Internet.  None at all.  It had been getting a bit flaky over the past month.  Honestly, we wondered whether this was intentional due to our cutting cable, but the person on the phone insisted (after trying many things) that it looked like a bad Ethernet port in our cable modem.  Since we own our own modem and don’t rent it from the cable company, we had to buy a new one.  (We figured out that – given how much this one cost us and how long it lasted – we paid about $2.80 a month for it.  So it was a very good deal.)   On Sunday, we decided to shop for modems.

Except there was one problem.

It was Easter Sunday.

Stores are closed on Easter Sunday.

In the end, we found a store that was open, had the cable modem we needed, and at a decent price as well.  We brought it home, got it set up, and… still nothing.  Another call to our cable company and some tests later and we still had no Internet.  Just when I thought we’d need to wait a few days until they could send a technician over, the guy on the phone said he’d try sending a refresh signal to our modem.  Sure enough, that did it.  Which leads me to wonder whether that was the problem all along and whether our old modem is still good.  (We might give it to B’s parents to try since they need to stop renting a modem.)  Either way, we have Internet again and it seems pretty reliable so far.

And that was our eventful Seder.  Instead of "Next Year In Jerusalem", perhaps I should close my Seders with "Next Year… a bit more boring please."

Was your holiday weekend eventful?

So Much Geeking Out So Little Time

Anonymous-sandglassThere are so many geeky activities I want to engage in with my kids.  There are a half dozen TV shows ranging from Doctor Who to The Flash to Star Wars Rebels that I’d love to watch with them.  There are still so many perler bead projects to start or complete.  JSL has recently expressed interest in story writing so I’d love to have a "story writing time" with him where we sit down, write a story for a period of time, and then read each other our stories.  I want to play some more Munchkin and maybe even Settlers of Catan with NHL.  NHL and I also need to finish reading the last Harry Potter book so we can watch the movie together.  (JSL is reading book 2 with B.)  Then, there are the Minecraft worlds we can create and explore.

There’s only one problem:  Time.

There never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do with them.  Between my work, their school, and must-do chores/errands, our weeks seem to fly by with too few hours spent geeking out.  Even when we have an hour or two of downtime, the boys seem more interested in playing on their own or watching TV shows they like instead of engaging in activities with me.

I almost feel like we should schedule weekly Geek Nights where we all sit together and do one geeky activity together as a family.  More and more I want to seize the day and enjoy every moment with them.  It won’t be long before they are grown up and spending time geeking out with dad won’t be on the agenda at all.

How do you find time to geek out with your kids?

NOTE: The "Sandglass" image above is by Anonymous and is available via OpenClipArt.org.

Chasing the Shiny

DTRave-Cartoon-Computer-and-DesktopWith the new year comes the end of the Chanukah/Christmas gift-giving season.  Now, as things settle down to routine, we begin to see which of the boys’ new acquisitions will get played with often and which will be placed aside after one go-around.  Which will still be used months from now and which won’t be used after a few days have passed.  We also get to see how long these new acquisitions quench the urge to chase the shiny.

My boys love new things.  They are always begging for new apps and games for their tablets, new toys, or to record new TV shows.  They love everything new.  (Well, not everything.  New foods still tend to elicit more "yucks" than "yays".)  This isn’t to say that they don’t like older things.  However, today’s fast-paced world has reached the youngest of kids and they always seem to be looking for what they are getting next.

There are days when I worry that we’re raising a generation that acquires, uses once or twice, and discards in favor of the next new thing.  Unfortunately, our kids aren’t the only ones.  The urge to get the next new thing seems to have worked its way into our society.  How many of us happily trade a device in for the newer model when the older model is only a couple of years old?  How many people will toss out a perfectly working TV set because the new one comes with cool new features?  How many people don’t bother finishing an old game on their smartphone because there’s a new one that everyone is playing?

This might be weird coming from someone who calls himself "TechyDad."  Yes, I’m guilty of "chasing the shiny" too.  Though I can’t afford every piece of new tech, I do drool over them.  Were money no object, my house would be fitted out with the best in new technology and I’d constantly be getting some new acquisitions to satiate me.  I’ve had my share of toys that I bought that I just *had* to have which I didn’t look at a month later.  That gyros wrist exerciser comes to mind.  Similar to this model, it was supposed to help with some carpal tunnel I was suffering from.  Instead, I used it about three times before putting it in a drawer.  I’d take it out to show people as a conversation piece, but that was it.  It was shiny and I had to have it – until I had it at which time I didn’t really care enough to use it.

I don’t want my boys to be afraid of change and of new technology.  To survive in this world, you need to be able to surf the changing currents.  However, I also think it’s important to keep a sense of perspective of where you’ve come from and what other shiny temptations have brought with them.  Being able to spot when the shiny brings helpful changes and when it’s all flash and no substance is key.

Do you find yourself chasing the shiny?  How do you teach your children what shiny is good to pursue and what to avoid?

NOTE: The image above is "Cartoon Computer and Desktop" by DTRave and is available via OpenClipArt.org.

Do As I Say Not As I Do: Bad Habit Edition

bad_habitWhen you’re on the Internet, it can be easy to hide your bad habits. A photo of food is never accompanied by a video of the person chewing it with their mouth open.  Selfies rarely show the person reaching in their nose to "scratch the inside."  Pictures of your house don’t show the stack of papers that’s been sitting since 2008 but that you’re definitely going to clean up this weekend.  In short, the Internet makes it easy for people to put forth idealized version of themselves.  It makes it easy to look at someone online and think that they are perfect.

What isn’t often discussed are our bad habits.  We all have them.  I’m definitely no exception.  I know of plenty and I’m sure there are plenty of annoying things that I do without knowing it.  NHL, unfortunately, seems to have picked up on one of my bad habits.  And I mean "picked" literally.

For the longest time, whenever I was stressed or found myself with nothing to do, my attention would turn to the cuticles and skin surrounding my fingers.  I’d see the usual assortment of tiny pieces of skin that virtually everyone has.  Most people would ignore these – they don’t hurt and if you leave them alone, they tend to just go away.  I wouldn’t though.  I’d pick at them to try to get them "looking right."  All too often, I’d pick so much that I’d wind up bleeding.  If I got the urge to pick my nails and tried not doing it, either by attempting to ignore the urge or by sitting on my hands, I’d just feel more and more compelled to do it until I gave in.  My father kept warning me not to do it, but I just couldn’t stop.  It was as if a powerful force were pulling me to do this against my will.

As I grew up, I learned to hold off on my picking, but the habit never fully went away.  I even resorted to keeping a small pair of scissors or a cuticle trimmer with me since these could make a cleaner cut (and thus not have a risk of bleeding) over picking it myself.

Lately, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.  NHL has been picking his nails also.  I’ve tried to give NHL alternatives to picking.  If he feels the urge to pick his nails, I told him to, instead, press along the edge of the nail instead.  This will give the sensory input that will help quell the urge without the risk of bleeding.  Unfortunately, for all my warnings and recommendations, NHL steadfastly continues these actions.  Now I know how my father felt all those years ago.

I’ll continue to try to help NHL break his bad habit, but perhaps there are just some things that are out of a parent’s control.

Six Years of TechyDad

Last week was my sixth blogoversary.  Honestly, I completely forgot about it given that it was also the first full week of school.  That and other hectic life events caused it to slip my mind until I happened to notice it yesterday.  I decided to go back and see what I was blogging about in September each year (limiting myself to one or two posts per year).


This was the year that NHL started kindergarten.  JSL did not like his brother leaving every morning and he especially didn’t like me leaving every morning.  Though he still couldn’t talk, he made his opinions on the matter clear and gave me quite the guilt trip.


This seemed to be the month of cooking.  I tried making Mock Crab Cakes to limited success (though now I’m thinking of trying it again).  The Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Dessert Pizza, on the other hand, was a bigger success.  (NHL’s braces might preclude this one given the ooey-gooey marshmallows.)


JSL had finally figured out how to ride his big wheel.  He also got on his brother’s big kid bike to pose for a photo.  Little did I know, at the time, that not four year later, he would climb atop that bike again and ride it without training wheels.


This wasn’t the happiest of months.  Hurricane Irene had just swept through, devastating much of the area.  Though our property was relatively unscathed, we had planned a trip to Disney World with just B and me.  This trip had to be cancelled due to the hurricane.  While it wasn’t of the magnitude of what others had to deal with, it took me quite awhile to recover from this.  Posting my two part blog post detailing our could-have-been vacation was very cathartic.


Shhh…. There’s something I can’t share.  Or, at least, I couldn’t at the time.  I wanted to shout the news from the highest social media rooftops, but we needed to keep quiet while we got some things in place.  Eventually, I was able to post about how we had gotten a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome for NHL and how I suspected that I am an Aspie as well.


B went to Type A Con.  While she was away, the boys and I had some time to ourselves and I learned some valuable lessons.

There you have it.  A quick overview of my six years of blog posts, or at least a selection of the September ones.  It’s been quite a wild ride.  I can’t wait for the next six years.  Then again, that will bring NHL’s bar mitzvah, NHL going to high school, JSL graduating elementary school, JSL’s bar mitzvah, NHL prepping for college, and me being the father of two teenagers.  Maybe I can wait for a bit for all of that.  Here’s hoping the next six years go by slowly!

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