Wednesday, April 30, 2014

iFail at Technology: Otterbox Defender

I pride myself on being a pretty smart individual. I've never been arrested, punched, and for the most part I give decent advice.
I apparently have a black thumb when it comes to technology.

Today, I attempted to put together the Otterbox Defender for iPad Air.

And I failed so hard.

Like epic amounts of failing.

Here's a lovely shot of the case from Amazon.

I researched my butt off to find something that would not allow a toddler to break an iPad. And although this one has it's flaws, it seemed like it would honestly do as good of a job as any sane person could ask.

So I get my package out, I pry off the included screen cover (it shows in the pic being used as a stand, another bonus feature, but I can't seem to figure it out for my children). No instructions. Yep. Super awesome. I wave my fist in the air, but what can you do when you buy it off of eBay for half price amirite?
I google "how to take apart otterbox defender ipad air" and get a lovely video that shows me how I should be doing it. He says a credit card will significantly help in removing the impossible silicone outer layer. I try a credit card. Doesn't work. Maybe Otterbox does not like Discover Card, so I try my license, I try an Olive Garden gift card. Nada. I'm trying to be pretty careful not to tweak the eff out and just rip it off she-Hulk style. Because, as I said earlier, I bought it off eBay and pretty sure Otterbox doesn't honor shady second market deals.
I watch another video, thinking maybe I just need another opinion. So very unhelpful. I'm trying to use my own brute strength minus the credit card to get that damn silicone liner off. Oh the struggle is very real. I don't even care if I break it if I can just conquer this damn silicone gasket.
I call the husband and beg him for assistance. He tells me how much I fail as a human if I can't get it off.

Then I grab that damn credit card and try again.

And lo and behold some mighty miracle occurs where I actually pry back part of the silicone gasket.
Hard part over, right?
H to the no.
It's about 10 more minutes of trying to pry this off the entirety of the "high-impact polycarbonate". It's difficult normally, then add to that the fact that all of the ports have special covers made out of the silicone. And if you pull too hard you'll rip it (supposedly, then again this is some rugged ninja silicone). Fiiiinnnnnalllllyyy, I get the silicone off. Hard part over, right?


There are all these tabs you need to push in to get the polycarbonate case apart. I just cut my fingernails two days ago and apparently that's the weapon of choice. Luckily the video suggests a butter knife, which pushes the tabs just wonderfully (thank you, video). Then I nestle the sweet little iPad inside, snap the polycarbonate case back together (which is very satisfying to hear, like the lockdown of potential smashed iPad). Getting the silicone back on is much easier, although not entirely easy.

Outcome? If my children can somehow get that iPad out of that case then I have either won as a parent or I'm quitting life entirely because I can't manage to outwit a 3 year old.

This is the most difficult case I have ever wrestled onto a device. It seems ridiculously secure. We shall see. All-in-all, another day where a simple piece of plastic has left me sweaty, near tears, and feeling like a failure to the human race. Well played, Otterbox. Well played.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reviews of Things: Go Diego Go

One day you might be a parent, or you are already one, or you may even just watch a kid because you are kind or you kidnapped it. Either way, you will be subjected to some pretty brutal stuff. Diaper changes, burping, baths, crying fits: all of these could be in your future. How to get through it mildly unscathed?
I'm here to help.

Cuz I'm a giver.

I'm going to review stuff (cuz stuff is great) so you know whether it is a good thing, a bad thing, and save yourself alllll that mental anguish of finding out on your own.

First up, a gem in children's entertainment:
Go Diego Go.

This is an older Nickelodeon show, and I'm pretty sure they came up with it after Dora the Explorer. In fact, Diego is a cousin of Dora.
There are some cool aspects of the show, like finding out more about wildlife and learning traits of animals. We discovered this show on Amazon Prime. Our cable company just upgraded so you have to have a cable box to get cable, and I am so decidedly lazy that I didn't call them to get a free box (yeah, you even get the box for free- but man it's hard to dial numbers ughhhhh), which meant we had nothing to watch upstairs. Then by chance I discovered that you get FREE streaming movies, tv etc with Amazon Prime, which we already have because we buy all the diapers in the world. So we have been watching new shows, such as a really cute one called Pocoyo, and then others like this lovely Diego.
If you are new to the Dora franchise, dear sweet little Dora attempts to teach your children Spanish, and repeats directions to places about 3000 times per episode. I hate Dora. I don't believe in violence against children so I won't gouge her eyes out, but I would sit her in the naughty corner for sure. Diego is also trying to teach your children Spanish. I don't appreciate this aspect, since my kids can't even speak English. It's mildly amusing, since Diego will say some Spanish word and ask you to repeat it, and my kids will utter forth such unintelligible goop. 
Also, the character is voiced, at least for the first three seasons, by that little boy from Wizards of Waverley Place, who I just googled and turns out he is Spanish. So checkmate, Diego. 

Wrap up
Good: educational, keeps kids involved, lots of animals which kids love
Bad: my kids are too incomprehensible to be bilingual, stop telling me to stand up and climb like a jaguar- I'm sitting down and I want to stay down, thanks, and speaking of jaguars, pretty sure that Diego having a pet jaguar is teaching kids that jaguars are friends, which might not be great if you live in a jaguar-heavy area, and finally, his sister Alecia says they are animal scientists which I kinda question since they are what like 8 and 11? Maybe rules are more lax in whatever country they are from.

Overall- much better than Dora, more educational than Spongebob, but has a few flaws. Nothing that watching 9 seasons of won't fix.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Inevitable

I have been lulled into a false sense of ease.
My complacency got the best of me.

Last night when I returned home from cleaning (which is bound to happen when you own a cleaning business), I asked my husband down the boys had gone to bed.
And the inevitable had happened.

My baby has learned to climb out of his crib.


When this happened with my eldest, the very next day we got a toddler bed and set him up (and then we learned that he cannot be contained by a toddler bed, so we threw a couple of twin mattresses on the floor for maximum sprawling pleasure). It was a steep learning curve, but within a week he was a big boy in a big boy bed.

So I had to face some of my fears.
Namely, sharing a closet with my husband.
Even more so, cleaning out aforementioned side of the closet that may or may not have been where scarves go to die.

Yeah, only about 50 scarves. No hoarding going on here, nothing to see.

During nap time, I attacked the closet like a madwoman, and was able to clear up a spot for my husband's stuff, while packing 3 bins for storage (1.5 of purses, .5 of winter scarves, 1 of sweaters), stuffing a bag to try to sell at resale, and 1 for donations. And I still have a mountain of scarves on my bed, as I have yet to decide their fate.

But I have made some progress!
Please ignore the reflection of my terribly trashed room. Pretend you can't see it. I know I do.

Now to figure out how to get the boys to sleep. The crib is in the diaper room, ie where we do diaper changes. Both boys are still in diapers (yeah he's almost 4, lay off, I'm exhausted) so the diaper changing table is key. There is an old dresser for my husband's clothes, and much stuff on hangers in the closet (which has no door on it). A small child cannot be left to his own devices in that room, as many of these objects can be climbed, pulled over on oneself, or used to murder/cause bodily harm. The boys could sleep together in one room, and the room that the crib is in is the larger room, so it would make sense to relocate the two twin mattresses to that room. There is just soooo much work to make that room safe. My husband would disagree but then again he would let a fairly tame monkey watch them, so he is not the arbiter of sense.

All I know is, since he can climb, the boy is climbing.

It's inevitable. Fish gotta swim, boys gotta climb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hobbies: Knitting

I tend to be a perfectionist. (And also a procrastinator, but that's a different story for a different time).

I don't want to do something unless I can be perfect.

About 13 years ago, I took a knitting class with my ex at a local community center. From there, I was hooked (or I guess that's for crochet- get it? Get it?). I made all sorts of poorly executed acrylic nightmares, mostly in scarf form, and bequeathed them to beloved family members, who wore them one and promptly hid them (I'm looking at you, mom).

I bought books, needles, and as much cheap cheap yarn as I could, and would go on spurts of vigilant knitting. Now I learned knit and purl originally, but never taught myself other skills (the community lessons were short and the teacher was a bit scary). I was afraid of experimenting and failing. When I moved back home my mom even paid for me to have a one-on-one with a local yarn shop owner, during which she taught me cables (and I immediately forgot since I'm one of those people that needs to do something like 10 times before I remember).

When I was pregnant with my first, I started going to that little yarn shop all the time, and I bought a set of expensive (at the time) interchangeable needles, nice (at the time) yarn, and all the accoutrement. I made a baby blanket for my future progeny, and made a friend who has since turned into a knitting fiend.

After giving birth to said progeny, I discovered a little site called Ravelry.

My eyes were hence opened to all that I didn't know.

I learned that the "nice" yarn I was buying at the local shop was actually pretty cheap! I learned the expensive set of needles I bought were just the tip of the iceberg. And there are sooooo many more skills necessary to this whole knitting thing than I imagined.

My good friend has since taught herself these skills and can do cables, sweaters, color work. I can do big and little squares and rectangles. That be all. I be dumb.

But damn if I didn't go whole hog on this hobby.
Go big or go home, right?
If I have all the right gear, then at least I have a chance of succeeding.
And if not, then I look like I'm talented, even barring lack of talent.

I give you- the right gear.
Needles that have about a year wait to get them custom made? Dyakcraft Darn Pretty Interchangeables.
Yarn-specific bags? Tom Bihn yarn stuff sacks.
Yarn from Germany that only goes on sale at 3 am Michigan-time, and sells out in a matter of minutes? Wollmeise DK in Maus Jung.

The project? A free cowl pattern from Ravelry- honey cowl. And that little bit has taken me months, mostly because I get it out of the bag, knit two rounds, and go to bed. I'm old. Or I get onto Ravelry and just stalk things, search through people's stashes. 
I can't knit with multiple colors, I can't pick up stitches or make socks, but the crappy cowls and scarves I can knit are made with pretty yarn.

Maybe I'll even guilt myself into learning more, since I have so much money tied up in this thing.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Blame- Hot Button Topic

Yesterday, my oldest felt warm. By midday he was sprouting a high fever, and after nap it was up over 102. He was just acting like normal, perhaps a bit more draggy. Before dinner it was 103.2. So that's when I threw both boys in a warm bath, gave him some ibuprofen, and waited for the temp to drop. I usually am a panic-er (haha like you couldn't tell from my previous posts), and want to ibuprofen my boys up when they get a fever. I did some reading about fevers, how important it is for the body to get hot to fight off the infection, yada yada. Everything I was reading said a virus from a simple cold can sprout a high fever for 2-3 days, and after that you should be concerned. Last night his fever went down, he was still acting like his normal, brother-hitting self. I slept on the mattress next to his, and around 5 a.m. he was up, trying to convince me to wake up. He was warm and I decided to give him another dose of ibuprofen.
This morning, he felt a little warm, but was acting normal. By midday he was up to 101.7, but didn't seem to be moving from there. He didn't nap, and after, while he was sitting on the couch watching the millionth episode of Bob the Builder (on amazon prime instant, can't believe I just discovered that), he just looked too flushed for me. I took his temp- 103.2. Again. Dammit. So I called the doctor's office and raced to his appointment.
At the appointment it was 103.2. The nurse even seemed surprised by that. He was too interested in her temperature-taking-thingy, scanning his nose, the wall, his knee. The doctor came in, asked some questions, and listened to him breathe. My husband (who arrived to help me wrangle both boys just before the doctor came in) told him to breathe deeply. So he did. And that's when she heard it. The crinkle, apparently. He has pneumonia, she told me. And that's when my heart fell through the floor. Pneumonia. In my professional knowledge of pneumonia (which extends to basically how to spell it), only kids like the sick one from "Secret Garden" get pneumonia. And here is my kid, suffering from it while I'm hoping that his fever will burn off an illness. Holding back tears I asked her some questions about it, none too reassuring (especially that they would give him an antibiotic but if his fever didn't break in two days we have to come back and have him put on something else).
Once I got home I decided to google pneumonia. Trust me, don't do this. Phrases like "number one killer of children" pop up. It isn't pretty.
Then I started playing the blame game. And not in a normal, sane-person way. I didn't think- what did I do wrong, was it because I took him out in the cold, etc.
Nope. The blame game I play is on a whole 'nother playing field.
Photo from last time he was super sick
The blame game I play is, what have I done to upset God. When I worked my last job, my kids started to get sick often. Each time I would think, it's because I just spent a lot of money at the store. Or, it's because I was talking crap about my husband. I'm wondering if the pneumonia is because we didn't go to church last week, because our youngest had a cough. Or is it because I am questioning tenants of the faith? Am I the only one to think this way? 
I didn't think this way when I was growing up. I was raised very middle of the road Methodist. I had crappy things happen, but I felt they were just crappy things. I dated a crappy guy, it was because I made a bad decision. I got sick, it was because I wasn't taking care of myself, etc.
Now, I feel like what I hear in church and what's happening in my life are at a conflict. If by His stripes I am healed, if I am sick or my kids are sick, why is that? Because I haven't had enough faith? Because of sin nature? If I pray for health and immunity for my children and they get pneumonia, is it something I have failed to do in my faith walk? It's like when my mother in law was dying, she fully believed she would be healed. Why wasn't she? Was she not in the right part of her faith walk? We are told all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed, so does this illness show that I do not even have faith that size? 
Maybe I need to sit down with a theologian and ask some questions. Or maybe I just need to read my Bible, talk to God on my own level, and come to my own conclusions. Or maybe I am not supposed to do that, and this is just a test from the devil? I just feel very stranded here with my faith, knowing what I  feel and believe, and what I am told and preached to. Everyone stands up, yells Amen, that by His stripes we are healed, but maybe it's just meant as our souls are healed, we can go to Heaven, not there will be no pain or infirmity again. One of the Apostles says that those with the most faith will be tested the most.
All I know is I am praying that the medicine works, that the pneumonia goes away, and that he won't get it again soon, which they say is a possibility for a few months after.
Once again with the too raw post. There is humor in my life. I'll let you know after the pneumonia and funeral for my neighbor, ok?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Our next door neighbors are pretty awesome. When we moved in we weren't looking to really become chatty with any neighbors. It's just not part of my (introvert) personality. But our neighbors north of us were just hard not to like. They were retired folks, always inviting us over for a beer after my husband got done with work, welcoming me to stop by with the boys whenever I wanted to, even offering to watch them if I needed to run someplace. Granted, they had a lovely home full of things that little children would just treasure to break and smash, so we did most of our socializing outside. In the summers we would talk over the fence, once or twice we took them up on the offer of beer and conversation in their backyard while the boys tried to dig in their garden.
They would tell me, in a hushed voice, how they would wave to my oldest son when he peeked out of the blind during nap time. They knew he was supposed to be asleep, but he got such a thrill out of peeking and waving at the neighbors- "friends" he called them.
Then in November, our Neighbor Grandpa went to the hospital with bad back pain. Not only did he have a crack or some such horrible thing happen to his vertebrae, they found lung cancer. He underwent radiation and chemo, and they found it had spread to his bones. After several rounds of treatment, he passed away yesterday. I knew something was amiss, as the street was literally lined with cars for the few days leading up and preceding it. Neighbor Grandma called to let us know what had happened. What can you even say? I tried to remember what had helped when my mother-in-law passed. Just sorry, praying for you, here for anything you need. How do you go about life as normal when someone you have shared it with for the past 50+ years is gone? I can't even fathom.
Both boys are down with colds, coughs, one small fever. It makes me feel like an ass for the anxiety I feel over illnesses. I would take a cold, a fever, even throwing up over cancer. Any day.
I'm so sick of cancer that I could just scream.
I understand, sin nature, evil in the world, yada yada.
Right now I'm just trying to focus on how to say goodbye, to those just lost, to those lost long ago.
And I can't even...