The absurdity of toddlers

Toddlerhood is defined by Having Opinions. Our youngest (a.k.a. “Hurricane”) is current smack dab in the middle of Toddlerhood, and so has some Very Definite Opinions, not just on food, but on life in general.  We currently believe:

  • We Can Do It All By Ourselves
  • Animal Mechanicals is Very Silly
  • We are Afraid of the Bathtub
  • Daddy is Very Silly
  • Mommy is the best source of all snacks, and therefore her location must be known at all times
  • We Can’t Like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Honeynut Cheerios is the Best Cheerios
  • LET. ME. DO. IT.

If you have not had the mindmeltingness joy of a toddler in your life, imagine your new housemate is a miniature, incontinent Saddam Hussein, complete with lots of shouting, garish outfits, and absurd demands. Here you are, trying desperately to retain what little sanity you might have remaining from having reared them this far, and then they enter The Phase.

It’s as if there was a coup in Nowherezistan and you are now facing a determined terrorist opposition.

Like the United Nations, you meet feverishly with the rest of the security council. There are a lot of speeches made. The new regime is denounced. First, you try to reason with the new dictator and are stonewalled.

Put on your shoes so your feet don’t get cold.

No I caaaaan’t find my shoes.

Carrots are employed.

If you put on your shoes, we can go to Starbucks and you can have some popcorn.

No I want to stay in my jammies!

Sanctions are threatened.

If you don’t hold still and let me put on your shoes, you won’t get popcorn!


Finally, the conflicted is escalated.

*Grabs half dressed, screaming child and carries child out of the house*

*screams, cries, kicks, goes stiff as a board to avoid getting strapped into a car seat*

Eventually you win the battle, if only because you’re bigger and stronger and have figured out where on the hips to press to fold a child in half without doing any internal damage, but you are fighting never-ending war of attrition.

I have chemical warfare going on over here. In my pants. Where's your bright red line now?
I have chemical warfare going on over here. In my pants. Where’s your bright red line now?

Without doubt, though, the most frustrating Toddlerisms are food related.

Our children don’t eat so much as graze continuously.

I have been told this is better for them for a variety of reasons –smaller stomachs, faster metabolisms– but for me, it means I can never get the kitchen cleaned up and raisins are everywhere.

Open the bread cabinet, see ... rat droppings? No, just the game "Hide the Raisins"
Open the bread cabinet, see … rat droppings? No, just the game “Hide the Raisins”

And then there’s just the sheer randomness of it all:

  • Cereal, but only Honeynut Cheerios, and only if the milk and cereal are presented in separate containers and he is allowed to pour the former into the latter BY HIMSELF
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches, but only from Panera
  • Chicken nuggets, if presented in pleasing shapes, like dinosaurs
  • Peanut butter and jelly, but must be cut into halves diagonally so as to form triangles, but don’t you dare cut them into quarters or I WILL SHANK YOU

I get it, I have to feed my children, no need to call social services. Also, I have an amazing and wonderful wife, so the kids will always have box of wine three square meals.

We start’em young in the Nostrikethat household

I have been through this four times now, and in a way it does get easier, if only because the bar was set to “survival” a long time ago.

There are perks, though.

No seriously, it's exhausting.
This is moderately worth it.

Kerosene Heater Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about my new love, my kerosene heater. Since then, we’ve had a fairly cold few weeks, including the dumping of about 20 inches of snow on us in Maryland and I’ve kept up with the Kerosene heater usage. My initial hypothesis was that the more I used the heater, the more money I would save because the electric heat pump is so darn inefficient. So how did I do?

This is what I got my MBA for. Money well spent, right honey?
This is what I went back to school for. Money well spent, right honey?

Compared to the previous year, the story is interesting but ultimately not good. Ignore the dollar values and the size of the bars (A year ago I accidentally double-paid the bill the month before so we had an overage) and just look at the kWh usage and the average temperature.

The glass half-full view is that even though it was a colder period, we managed to keep our utilization relatively flat, so using the kerosene heater helped offset the electric cost. Conversely, I’ve spent about $60 on kerosene in this period, so the gains in efficiency were offset by the cost of the fuel. However, when the heater is on the temperature in the house sometimes gets up to 71 or 72 which we would never do without the heater.

I wasn't sure if I needed to pixelate just the wiener or the entire weiner dog
The gains in belly-warming, however, were astronomical

So are kerosene heaters frugal? Without having a whole-house system that’s attached to a thermostat and automated, it’s too hard for a person to maintain the temperature and cycle the heat on and off appropriately. At this point, it’s closer to a luxury, like running a traditional fireplace.

Is it nice to have? We sit in the same room as the heater, so there’s the soft woosh of the fire and heat pouring off makes it nice and cozy. It’s reassuring to have a heat source that’s off the grid. The house gets much warmer than we’d keep it if we were electric-only.

My best argument in favor though is deeply irrational. When the nights are long and the days are short the caveman wants to huddle around a fire and paint pictures on the wall.

Okay Mother Nature, You Win

It has been a rough couple of weeks in the Nostrikethat household. As alluded to earlier, we had Pestilence visit us last week which necessitated a few days off. This week we had two brief days of semi-normalcy, and then the Snowpocalypse clusterFuuu of Doom “Whatever we’re calling this storm” storm has given the East Coast a big warm hug.

I did not get a humorous sidekick or a catchy song with this post.
Now that song is stuck in your head. That is a catchy-ass song.

I may have also mentioned that my parenting style largely revolves around ignoring my children to the best of my ability. With all of us cooped up inside, it’s been hard to ignore. Still, I’m trying really hard not to be a whiny bitcperson about it. When life gives you snow, do snowy things!

I’ve gone for short walks in the snow!

WP_20131208_15_39_27_Pro (1)

I’ve taken slightly pretentious artfully composed pictures of things!


I have humorously posed our pet on the furniture!


Now, I am going to be a whiny bitcperson.

To top it all off, there is An Official Holiday approaching. - I love you for so much more than just your life-saving body heat.


So tonight, I dedicate this post to Mrs. Nostrikethat.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m stuck in the house
And you are too

Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.

Also, if I have to give our teenage babysitter a piggy-back ride (in a completely appropriate and non-sexual way of course) through the snow and to our house, we are going on our date Saturday.