Category Archives: Uncategorized

How NOT To Change A Diaper

A discussion on Facebook reminded me of this story that happened a LONG time ago. Hope you enjoy it, Penny Z. — and I strongly recommend that you NEVER try this yourself.

The date: some time in the early 1980s. I was a young soldier. While I’m no longer a soldier (and may or may not still be young 🙂 ), I still have one thing in common with those days…

I cannot stand strong, stinky odors. Like the kind that emanate from a dirty diaper. Thankfully I have a loving wife who takes care of such things nowadays (not to mention the fact that both of my younger children are way past the diaper stage — OK, my OLDER children are ALSO past the diaper stage, and I somehow sense that they’d like to leave no doubt in your mind about that…). In fact, I have a GREAT wife who lets me get away with all kinds of stuff and still loves me at the end of the day.

But “back in the day”, I had no such luxury. I was “expected” to do my share of Dirty Diaper Duty.

Which usually consisted of something like this:

  • Strap baby to changing table so she didn’t fall off (both of them were “she” back then).
  • Run out on the balcony and draw in a quick, deep breath of fresh air.
  • Hold that air.
  • Run back inside and “take care of business” until I had to take a breath.
  • Say a quick prayer that Baby would not think to touch themselves in certain unclean areas of their body.
  • Run back outside and grab another quick breath of fresh air.
  • Hold breath again.
  • Repeat process until the stinky stuff was either 1) gone, or 2) thrown over the edge of the balcony (or 3) neighbors pounded on door, wondering why I was throwing poopy diapers over the balcony!) (No, I never really did that; it just makes the story slightly more interesting. The part about the diaper over the balcony. But the rest is true.)

Not exactly the best way to handle the situation (especially when I forgot to unstrap the baby after I changed the diaper…). But it sure beat cleaning up another mess that would have been caused by a hyperactive (and extremely effective) gag reflex!

One day I got a brilliant idea. For whatever reason, our unit commander wanted us to keep our M17A1 protective masks (otherwise known as a “gas mask”) with us at all times. I’m not sure why he did this, but his reasoning is not all that important; the simple fact of the matter is that my unit did issue them to us and told us to keep them with our alert gear (this was in Germany, back in the early 1980s, when we thought that the communist hordes were going to roll across the inter-German border without warning. We pretty much thought of ourselves as speed bumps anyway, which means that we — being the lower enlisted cretins — didn’t really give it a whole lot of thought, but apparently the officers they gave us — whose job it was to worry — thought differently. Whatever!).

When my turn next came up for diaper duty, I realized that I had a device in my possession that would effectively eliminate those odors. Yes, thought I, why not use the aforementioned M17A1 protective mask while changing the diaper? Problem solved! No more strapping Baby to the changing table, no more running outside to snatch a breath of fresh air, no more imaginary poopy diapers to fling over the balcony… An absolutely perfect solution, right?

Uh, NO. Tom forgot one small factor… and I do mean a SMALL factor…

…which I’ll get to in a minute. First, take a moment to consider what an M17A1 protective mask actually LOOKS like.

This mask was not only made to filter the air that the wearer is breathing — it is also used to protect the skin and is part of the suit used to protect the wearer from exposure to chemical elements. It wasn’t made for good looks; it was made for survival.

The mask itself goes on over the head and fastens itself to the back of the head with a black, elastic harness. Six straps attached the harness to the mask itself: two above the temples, two just below the temples, and two somewhere else (memory escapes me…). The mask itself was a black thing, with two big triangular-shaped plastic openings so you could see out the thing. The front had an oval-shaped gizmo with a vent that allowed the wearer to exhale; it also had a little tube you could connect to a canteen so you could drink while wearing the mask (nothing like an enforced water fast in an airtight suit that made you sweat like a pig to lose weight. You could always tell the people who didn’t do their required training in the suit; they ended up on the weight control program!).

Of course, this arrangement left the neck and head exposed to the elements — CHEMICAL elements, no less — so there was a green hood that attached to the mask that you could pull over your head. Straps hanging off it attached under your arms so it wouldn’t come off (easily). The hood itself attached to the eye openings (which, in turn, had another plastic shield which helped secure the hood to the mask), around that oval-shaped gizmo, and around the two air intake valves on either cheek.

So when the whole thing was done, all the observer would see was somebody covered with an ugly GI-green hood, with two huge triangular openings for the eyes, that round gizmo in front, and two small round thingys — one on either cheek — that were black and allowed for air intake.

In other words, you looked like some type of monster to the wearer. Especially one that had never seen someone wearing an M17A1 mask. Which led to the small factor I was talking about a few paragraphs ago.

Yeah, the small factor lying on the changing table, waiting for her diaper to be changed.

Slick Dad slips on the mask in the bedroom, rounds the corner prepared to work…

…and baby screams, nearly jumping out of her skin.

I think she was constipated for about 3 years after that little incident.

Free Learning Resource

My six year old son saw a word search puzzle on the back of my new calendar for 2010. He saw the “easy” words right away (the ones that read from right to left), then started asking questions about the “backwards” words that I had already circled.

One thing led to another and he soon wanted to try his own word search puzzle. So I headed over to my favorite search engine and found a really neat site that has lots of downloadable and printable worksheets for school age children — including word search puzzles.

The site is nicely organized; you can browse for materials by age / school grade or use the “Search” box on the page to look for a specific item (as I did with the word search puzzle). Although I didn’t explore it, there are also links to other sites that offer similar resources. To me, this is a sign that this site is a “labor of love”; after all, most for-profit businesses don’t link to the competition…

Regardless of the motive, it does cost money to host a website and make materials like this available. While you can download everything for free, there is a link you can click to make a small donation, and if you find this site to be useful, let me gently encourage you to donate a few dollars, as I did.

The only “down” side, if you can even call it that, is that the site’s style looks to be a bit dated. But don’t let that fool you; the content is there and it’s pretty easy to find what you want. And even if it is a bit older-looking, the layout is clean and it’s easy to figure out where you want to go.

Overall, this old dad thinks it’s a great site — and thought enough of it to send a few dollars their way. You, too, may want to check it out.

Thanks for a nice site and a great resource, TLSBooks!

Instant Competence

We purchased a bicycle for my now six year old son a couple of years ago. To be honest, he hadn’t shown much interest in it until recently. All of his friends used scooters to get around, and our son got quite good at getting to where he wanted to go via scooter.

Recently Mom decided to press the issue a bit. I got out his bike, gave it the once-over and pronounced it as being street ready, and he got started with it. And all was fine until…

The day I first took off the training wheels. He refused to ride the thing. But did I put them back on? Absolutely not!

Instead, I took off the pedals and lowered the seat a bit, which allowed him to push himself with his feet. Lots of small children do that here in Germany; in fact, his little sister has just such a bike (it has no pedals and no chain).

So he rode around on that for a few days, then started pushing himself faster and faster, then started picking his feet up as he was coasting…

Which was the answer we were looking for. This experience taught him how to balance himself without the pedals. So when I put the pedals back on today, he took right off and rode the thing like he had been doing it for months.

Of course, we now need to teach him to ride safely (but thankfully he’s a good boy and the lines of communication are open).

There was one minor glitch, however. At first, when I put the pedals back on (it was actually his idea; he asked me to put them back on), he was having trouble and was getting a bit frustrated. But just as soon as I told him that it was a “practice session” and that it was OK if he didn’t get the hang of it today, he immediately relaxed and took off pedaling.

The lesson? If there is one, pressure probably isn’t a good way to get small children to learn and perform.

If this post helped you teach your child how to ride their bike (or if it helped you in any other way), please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

So Much For Discipline

The Scene: Dad is typing away at the computer in his office, nose seriously buried in a project that’s already a week overdue. Children, age 6 and almost 3, are playing in Dad’s office while they watch a DVD.

The “Crime”: Almost 3 year old starts screaming at the top of her lungs. 6 year old brother immediately falls back into a defensive, “I didn’t do anything mode” while trying to out-scream almost 3 year old.

The Reaction: Dad sternly looks at children and says, “Stop it NOW! If you do it again you are BOTH going to bed! Look at me; do you understand what I just said?”

At which point almost 3 year old daughter looks back at him and with a slight smile (you know, the one that says, “I’m cute and I can get away with anything”), says, “No, Daddy!”

So Much For Discipline! We all had a good laugh at that point…

Theme Updated

OK. I’ve changed the theme to something that’s (hopefully) a bit nicer. I just wanted to make a quick post so that the previous post (where I talked about the “old” theme) wasn’t the one on top.

I’d love to hear your comments.

And if you’d like to compare the old theme to the new, here are two links that will make it easy:

  • Here’s a screen shot of the blog BEFORE the theme change (click here).
  • Here’s a screen shot of the blog AFTER the theme change (click here).

I still need to center the blog on the page. It shifts all the way to the left in my web browser (Firefox 3) and I don’t like that.


P.S. — We’ll soon get back to the children. Olivia is sick today with a stomach virus and the house just isn’t the same when she doesn’t display her usual energy levels.

Life Goes Forward

It’s been an interesting week here in southern Germany. In the space of just a few days I learned of the death of three people. One was the mother of a co-worker, the other a neighbor (an American) from down the street, and a third was a former co-worker whom I worked with on countless occasions.

Setting aside the obvious dangers of combat, it’s not often that death touches the members of a military community, especially when the community is tucked away in a major city in a safe country like Germany (and “Danke Schön” to our German hosts, who quite capably tracked and neutralized the most recent threat to Americans in Germany). Military people are, for the most part, very young and have very young families, and the energy you feel on a military base is incredible. I’m positive that it keeps me feeling young and healthy.

Thinking back over my 30+ years of association with the U.S. military — and my entire life, for that matter — I can’t really think of anything like this week ever happening before. The Bible says that man has an appointment with death, and of course that’s just fine — after all, who am I to argue with God? — but sometimes it would be nice to get the schedule a bit ahead of time. But that’s the problem; we will never get that schedule. Never. So it’s up to each of us to love and appreciate each blessing that comes our way every day.

As I pulled into the driveway this evening, my Golden Retriever practically jumped in the car when I got home, “demanding” that I give her something to carry into the house (my ball cap sufficed), my four year old son came running up to me for a hug and to tell me about his second day at his new pre-school, and my 15 month old daughter almost fell out of her mother’s arms as she lunged for me (and “mom” had a pretty nice hug, too). And as I write this, my son is demanding that I watch his every step as he plays a game on his computer (which, of course, was originally dad’s office server) and his sister keeps wanting a different video every 3 minutes (Jay Jay The Jet Plane is her current favorite) as she empties the contents of daddy’s pen holder all over the office floor.

So maybe I don’t get that schedule in advance. It doesn’t really matter because I do get it “just in time” — and the schedule for today says “LIVE”. Enjoy my children who are growing way too fast. Cherish their hugs, their love, their enthusiasm. Ensure that my dear wife knows that I appreciate every little thing she does to ensure that I have a successful career and a good chance at having a successful business.

No, today’s not my appointment with Eternity, so instead of wondering when it will be mine, I choose to live, love, and cherish every last blessing that God sends my way today. In fact, I think I’ll do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next… and when the day comes for my appointment, I just might do like Hezekiah did and ask for a few more years!

A few congrats are in order before I sign off:

First, happy birthday, big brother. Are you up to a game of basketball yet?

And congrats, David and Merry. Your agenda for tomorrow definitely says “LIVE!”. Enjoy life as you welcome your new son-in-law into the family.

Thanks for listening,

New Feature: Article Directory now has an article directory. You can click here to get to the article directory.

There is also a link to the article directory in the right column.

Here’s how you can submit your articles:

1. Click here to manually submit an article.

2. You can purchase software that will automatically submit your software to my article directory, plus others, provided your article’s main topic and theme matches the topic and themes of my directory.

I’m not going to make a bunch of silly rules for the directory. Just remember that it is my site and I can, and will, delete articles that, in my sole opinion, detract from what I’m trying to do here. And if I were to read your article out loud to my tea-totaling, super-strict Baptist mother and she would, in turn, wash my mouth out with soap and a wire brush, it will get disapproved… Plus the children may be watching!

Oh, one more thing: click here if you want to get an article directory script for your own website(s) that can automatically grow while you sleep.

Thanks for listening,