About Jord

jord considers himself nerdy, mostly because he's a devoted gamer and freelance web designer. he works in computer technology and information services, but he'd be most proud to tell you that he recently built himself a computer, loves audio books, trying new beer and wine, grilling, and is so excited to have added "homeowner" to his list of titles.

Author Archive | Jord

a weekend to remember.

I really don’t know the last time that I had so much fun over a three-day weekend. I’ve experienced a lot of things, but the three-day ride of just pure joy from this past weekend would be hard to match for me.

As you may know, Lionel turned three. When Sara brought up the idea of an overnight stay in Omaha before hosting his party on Sunday, I was up for it. I had some expectations from the trip, but I was really unsure ultimately how it would turn out.

Heading into the weekend, Sara had to call her first audible. The weather was not looking good for Saturday, which was the day that we had planned to go to the famous Henry Doorly Zoo, so we decided to book it down to Omaha in the AM to hit the zoo on Friday to catch the good weather.

20150608171937-9fbe18ce-meMama started the gift opening a tad early to keep this almost three-year-old excited through the drive…but Lionel loved his magnetic construction site book!

The drive down went pretty smoothly. We had to stop once for a diaper change, and I’m not used to that, really, since we haven’t traveled too far with the kiddos in the past, but I got over it quickly {I’m of the mind that we’ve gotta go go go go go ;)}.

We got to the zoo, and the weather was gorgeous. Lionel’s excitement was high, and thankfully Quincy was a very willing and happy participant.

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We started off our day by petting a starfish…

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Woah…

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I need to be closer to the fish!

We visited the aquarium just after lunch on Friday, and it was not busy at all. This made the experience ten times cooler, as we had a clear view of all of the marine life, and we didn’t feel the need to rush through it.

We saw many animals, but we missed the elephants {the zoo is currently expanding the exhibit, so the elephants were off-site}. Lionel didn’t mind, though, since we got to do this:

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Riding the Skyfari with Daddy = love.

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Eating ice cream = love.

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Riding the zoo train with Mama = love.

Riding the Skyfari was a cool experience. Selfishly, I’d love to try and take him skiing this winter, and he showed himself ready for a ski-lift without any fear or hesitation. He had quite a bit of fun! It could be different with snow, but I’m encouraged. He obviously doesn’t have his mother’s fear of heights!

At some point, we got ice cream to help us all to cool down on the warm day, and later, our boy finally got to ride the train with Mama. They had loads of fun!

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Lionel’s petting a snake!

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A tree swing in the jungle = cool!

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Hi, Quincy!

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All smiles!

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Lionel loved to brush the goat in the Petting Zoo!

We spent almost five hours at the Omaha Zoo before things started to wind down. We made it to everything but the Desert Dome (Mama can’t handle the creepy crawlies there!). It was a ton of fun. But, it was time to find our hotel, find dinner, and get onto the rest of the weekend.

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Lionel runs the bases!

As we were leaving the zoo, we noticed that inside the zoo’s newly-expanded parking lot {part of which used to house Rosenblatt Stadium}, there is now a tiny memorial infield dedicated to the stadium of yore. We had to see if Lionel had any energy left. He ran the bases a few dozen times – OVERJOYED – before reluctantly returning with me to the car.

The night ended with a nice dinner and the opening of his second present, a Playmobil sports set that features a hockey get-up, among other sports gear. Lionel spent a good portion of the downtime of the weekend playing hockey with these guys, which was very cool.

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Good morning + happy birthday!

The next morning, we woke up to some donuts, and we stuck candles in Lionel’s to have our own private family rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” to kick off Saturday. It was a riot. Lionel opened another present {a firehouse version of the Imaginetics books}, and then we changed into swimming gear to head to the Coco Key water park, which was located inside our hotel in Omaha.

Unfortunately, given the large number of pools and water slides, water was all over the place, so there’s not many pictures. But, we snagged a couple…

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Daddy + Quincy-Bug!

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Swimming Lionel!

Throughout the day, Lionel transitioned from the kiddie pool, to the deeper pool, to the slides in short time. By the end of the day, he was traversing the entire park and going down the water slides in rapid fashion. We soaked in the pool for almost five hours before deciding to wrap things up and go home.

The drive home was pretty painless, as both boys were tuckered out, and while they didn’t exactly nap, they didn’t put up much of a fight about the drive, either. Mommy and Daddy got home and unloaded the car and did some clean-up, but were pooped and we all kind of crashed and went to bed rather early.

On Sunday, we woke up and began prepping the house for the party. Things were about to get real. We had no idea how many people were coming, but as soon as four o’clock rolled around, we found out how much everyone loves our Lionel. Cars started pulling up and parking, and people came into our home one after another to wish Lionel a happy birthday and celebrate with him.

In addition to great family and friends of ours, ALL of Lionel’s friends and one of his teachers from school came to his party, which delighted him, of course! Lionel was so good through the whole thing. He shared his toys, gave hugs and kisses, said many a “Thank you!” and had a smile glued to his face the entire time.

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Welcome to Lionel’s hockey party!

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Daddy had to get some baseball in…

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Quincy-Bug with Great Grandma Helen

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Q with Great Aunt Sharon, Great Aunt Judy + cousin Harper

Food was served, and then, a special guest arrived…STOMP from the Sioux Falls Stampede, our local professional hockey team!

Lionel’s no stranger to Stampede games, and when it was known that Stomp was available to come to the party, Grandpa Joe pulled a few strings to get the special guest to the show. Stomp posed for pictures, gave hugs to the willing kids, and played hockey with everyone.

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“Hi Stomp!” – Lionel

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Let’s score some goals!

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Defense!

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Everyone’s playing!

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Thank you, Stomp! A family photo.

We followed up hockey with cake and presents. Of course, a hockey party needs a hockey cake, and Lionel kept up the awesome vibe by hugging and often kissing everyone while thanking each person for the gifts that he received.

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“Happy birthday to you!”

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“Thank you!”

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Gift Excitement!

After the gift opening, the party started to disperse. Lionel played with almost all of his toys for some time the rest of the night. The energy of the day was long-lasting and incredibly positive.

I am still riding the high of how awesome the entire weekend was. Sara did an amazing job planning the entire trip and the entire party. I did my part here and there, but she truly shined as a mother who knew how to go the extra mile for her son. Friends and family showed up to make a special day even better. Quincy was better than you can logically expect from a six month old who is forced out of his routine.

It was just an awesome time. Wow!

Siblings.

It has been a long while since I’ve written any posts for this blog, my blog, or any blog blog. I could rattle off the hundreds of reasons or excuses as to why that is, but I’m going to ignore it and pretend like I’ve been writing once a week since the beginning of time. Go.

As my wife has so beautifully described to you on several occasions, I became a father of two boys past November. Quincy has a been an absolute riot and deserves a few hundred thousand words to describe the experience he has been in my life already, but I only know a thousand or so words (bad dad joke). Since his birth, I have gotten the pleasure to watch Lionel interact with this new human on a daily basis.

Q-L-Siblings

Before the birth, Sara and I did our best to try and prepare Lionel for this major life change, but I still did not know what would happen when Q-day would come. That day came and went, and both Lionel and Quincy have blessed us with an outrageous level of tolerance, love and patience.  It is extremely rare to have both of them upset at once. I don’t believe I have ever seen one trigger another one into some sort of fit. Granted, I know that Quincy, being less than three months old, has little to do or say, but both of them have their special ways of showing love for each other.

Lionel is down right adorable when he interacts with Quincy. He reads, he sings, he plays, and he watches “his shows” with Quincy. He gives him kisses, tries to comfort him while he is upset and even when he is rough-housing, Lionel takes a general care to not over do it with the small baby. It is remarkebly fascinating to see my oldest boy, who is on his way to three years old, coordinate and control his body around the baby. You can see him actively trying to be extremely careful. Finally, when Quincy needs immediate attention, Lionel might not always be happy to share “Mom” (that’s his new name for Sara, and it is under-appreciated by “Mama”), but he shows understanding.

Quincy, on the flip side, has dealt with an almost three year old who thinks he’s being extremely careful, is watching his every step and playing a charade of games to impress Mama and Daddy. That older brother steps, lays, screams, steamrollers (my bad), and runs all around Quincy, and of course, accidents happen. Socks get pulled on or off, pacifiers gets shoved into Quincy’s face, and the swing stops rocking as big brother attempts to join in the fun. All that being said, Quincy is resilient. Quincy typically handles all these interactions with a careful studying of the scenario at hand. Clearly, he prefers the tending loving arms of his mother, but from time to time, when Mama needs a break, he’s quite content when, sometimes, the entertainment duties fall to big bro.

As a father, it is absolutely fascinating watching and following Lionel grow up and learn new things. It has been just as fascinating to watch Quincy take seemingly a different course to the same conclusion in many ways. They are so similar and so different in so many ways. Perhaps I’m remembering things differently or perceiving things differently the second time around, but the best part of all has been watching them interact, learn and grow together. The sibling dynamic has been deeply meaningful, and they are so full of love and care for each other, even if, perhaps, they don’t yet understand fully what it means to have a brother.

Extra-Life 2014: Play Games, Heal Kids

Last year’s team!

For the fourth straight year, we’re back and better than ever. Team Dynasty is raising money for local children’s hospitals through the annual Extra-Life event. Cyle and Josh Scherger, Brad Tyler and myself (Jordan Gillis) are setting our goal to raise over $2,000 for Sioux Falls Sanford Children’s Miracle Network. Extra-Life is a grassroots fundraising event; there is no overhead, as it is run by volunteers. What this means is that 100% of your donation goes to helping sick children and their families in need in the Sioux Empire. Last year, our group raised over $1,000, and we look to double it this year. Every dollar counts to help beat cancer and making a difference in the lives of those who need it!

Be a giver and healer, support our Extra-Life cause by clicking the button below!
Support Us!

Please donate today. With your donation, you are helping kids, and you are supporting us playing the Extra-Life marathon. On November 15th, 2014, we will be gathering together to play a video game marathon. In 2012, we did 24 hours of gaming. In 2013, we did 25 hours of gaming, and in 2014, we are pushing for 26 hours of games! Wow! Please click the donation button above and donate today, tomorrow, and the next day! Thank you for all of your support, and please share this with everyone you know to help grow a great cause.

Conversation Breakdown {The Two-Year-Old Version}.

The first time I wrote this post, Sara rejected it like any good English teacher would. The post lacked focus and a thesis. I’d argue that my blogging style {which is whimsical, out of focus, and thought-jumpy} is as much my signature as is her choice to forget how to press the shift key. However, she’s the boss and she wins, so three…two…one…focus!

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Lionel talks. A LOT. I have no idea what’s normal conversation or word knowledge for a two-year-old, but I have this feeling that Lionel’s vocabulary is relatively impressive. My feelings are backed up by the comments and compliments that are often received from friends, family and complete strangers. Lionel knows a lot of words. What’s even better is that Lionel, in my opinion, knows the context of how most of these words are supposed to be used; however, I don’t believe he understands all the words that’s he’s using.

I have taken child development and child psychology courses throughout my many years of study, and there’s sufficient proof that talking and reading to your child is a great way to develop their language and communication skills. However, I don’t remember reading about what parents could/should/shouldn’t do when communication breaks down between an adult and a two-year-old. Conversation breakdowns with a child are confusing for me to navigate, and I think it’s equally confusing and frustrating for Lionel as well.

Last week {when I was originally writing this post}, I told the story of having breakfast with Lionel. One day last week, I was standing in the kitchen, trying to encourage Lionel to tell me what he wanted to eat for breakfast. To set the stage: each morning, I pick Lionel out of bed because he’s about as good as his parents at jumping out of bed (we like to hit the snooze). I then place him in his seat at the table and promptly say “Good morning!” I then ask about his dreams (the kid dreams like his mama – vivid and random), and then I ask him about breakfast. It’s part of our routine.

However, the question about breakfast turned into a battle that morning. On this day, I offered Lionel the typical choices – Frosted Flakes, jelly toast, or peanut butter toast. He responds “no” to all of them. I asked him again to tell me what he wants. He then picks one of the choices that I presented, and I’m pretty sure he chose the last option that I offered: toast.

But, when I start to grab for the bread to make toast, he shrieks, “NO toast!”

I then calmly rolled through the choices again. As I did, I noticed that as I continued to offer food options, my voice was getting tense, despite my best efforts. The clock stared at me:  I was running late, Lionel still needed to eat, and Sara was still sleeping.

Then, he said, “Watch Elmo.”

Our communication had broken down, so he returned to his favorite, frequent comfort statement. He knows he likes Elmo, and he’ll be satisfied if he gets the iPad to watch Elmo. This told me that breakfast had become stressful for Lionel.

I quit asking him questions for a moment as I tried to process the interaction. Our breakfast conversation wasn’t a negative exchange of words by any means, but it wasn’t a positive experience. I had a conversation with a two-year-old child who knows how to hold a conversation, but it became clear in that moment that he didn’t understand every word or phrase that he was using. That was frustrating, both to him and to me.

I denied Lionel’s request for Elmo and disengaged for another second while I set us both up with some cereal.

I then watched as he happily ate his entire bowl of cereal, not a complaint in sight.

Parenting a two-year-old is ever-changing and really interesting. I love talking with Lionel, and talking through conversations with him. But, I think there’s times when what originates as a positive interaction can turn into a negative one. For instance, when I get home from work at night and I ask him about his day, I have all night for him to process the words that he needs to communicate to me. In the morning, I have about 90 seconds. Despite his wealth of understanding, I can’t have the same conversation at the crack of dawn with Lionel that I could have Sara or with friends. It just doesn’t work – yet.

So, with one additional week’s perspective on the interactions that I’ve been having with Lionel, I’m realizing this: if I have time for Lionel to make decisions, I let him make the decisions. But, if we’re pressed for time, I make the decisions for him, like many parents do. And since following this general idea, our interactions have gone more smoothly.

With his expansive vocabulary and voice inflection, it is really easy to forget that Lionel is just two years old. He says some of the funniest and goofiest things, and he is consistently surprising me with what he knows and understands. But, he’s still just two, and he’s still learning.

Or maybe he just stinks at waking up like his parents do.

Trial + Error = A Brand New Bed.

There was a time when Sara and I decided to invest in a new set of mattresses. We also got a new bedframe from IKEA – the Hemnes style in black/brown. It was nice, and for our first “grown-up” bed, it worked quite well. But we moved on. After graduating college, Sara’s brother Brian needed a bed frame, and Sara wanted something new, so he purchased our Hemnes queen-sized frame (as well as our black/brown Hemnes dresser and nightstand). It was a good switcheroo.

But, that meant that I got tabbed with the task of building us a new bed.

The build was set to be a fairly easy one, based on this platform bed design from Ana White. We chose to build our bed sans headboard, as Sara plans to DIY an upholstered headboard at some point post-baby no. 2’s arrival.

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After much success with building our kitchen table, I again enlisted the help of my father for general guidance. We went and bought the wood and the hardware, and we got to building.

{Bad blogger announcement – there are no progress pictures. I have determined that I have no idea on how to take proper progression photos. When I’m building something, I’m zoned in, making cuts, staining wood, or drilling holes, and boom – it’s all ready for installation. Photos, what the heck?!}

So I’ll just talk about the project with words, because a thousand words is worth around one picture, right?

The First Weekend

First off, I’ve always heard the caution to “measure twice and cut once.” Typically, this plan works really well. However, if you’re using the wrong guide, you’re likely to also get the wrong cut. Whoops. We started the cuts using the directions we wrote out, but we later discovered that we were basing our cuts on a full-size bed, not a queen-size bed (the plans from Ana White provide both measurements, as well as measurements for a twin-size frame). It was early on a Saturday, and our brains weren’t thinking yet. So, we made a return trip to the lumber store and bought some more wood.

After returning home with the new boards in tow, we cut them to the right size, drilled pocket holes into them {again using our Kreg Jig, which we originally purchased for the kitchen table process}, and sanded them down as nicely as we could for being relatively cheap, soft lumber.

Staining the wood was a newer process for me. Sara choose a gray stain {specifically Classic Gray by Minwax} for the bed, which ended up looking very nice, but since I’ve never stained before, and since Sara {being pregnant} was not able to step in for me, I did what I could do.

So I stained. And stained. And stained…stainnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

I did…okay. The finish wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. All the boards got stained, including the boards that we cut wrong, which Sara decided to repurpose for shelves for the boys’ shared bedroom = score! One mistake turned into a positive.

The Second Weekend

After the stain dried and another weekend arrived, I set out to assemble the bed. Piece by piece, I laid out the wood and started screwing the bed pieces together.

But then, I noticed a problem. A major problem. The boards had warped. These boards that fit in the garage were no longer aligned, most likely due to the fact that A) the wood was relatively inexpensive and not the best quality, and B) the difference in humidity between our garage and the lumberyard.

I fretted for a while, but then decided that with some extra sanding, we could save this wood. It was worth a shot, since otherwise, we’d be back to square one {and we already had to buy more wood than we originally planned on, with our goof-up during the cutting phase}.

I assembled the bed inside our bedroom in the house – a necessity, since a bed frame, when assembled, is a monstrosity that can’t fit through a standard doorway. With some glue and some luck, the plan to salvage the boards worked well {apart from the fact that the sanding process had to happen inside the house – MESSY. I don’t recommend it.}

I put on the finishing “caps” around the top edges of the bed, and man, it looked good; Sara and I were both quite excited. Then, it was time to screw on the legs.

The legs went on just fine, but immediately after attaching them, it became clear that stability was quickly an issue. The bed was rather wobbly and squeaky, so back to the the drawing board we went!

My dad’s solution to the wobbly bed legs involved getting a new 4×4 board and cutting the legs so that part of the frame of the bed can rest on the legs, instead of being screwed into the side. The cutting and tapering of these legs was a two- to three-week process, but we got it done.

The Third Weekend

Once the legs were cut and tapered, I stained them. And stained. And stained…

The Fourth Weekend

The legs were finally dry and finished to my {well, really to Sara’s} standards, so I brought to the bedroom the glue, my screws, and my new drill that I had gotten for my birthday, and I went to work putting together the bed.

I let the glue and the screws set for a day; meanwhile, we moved our mattresses to the living room, where we camped out for the week.

During the Fifth Week

Throughout this past week, I added additional screws to the legs to stabilize the bed. I then had to do more sanding and wood-filling, since the boards had warped. Of course, with sanding comes more staining.

Oh, the staining. Rinse, repeat, agony. {Yes, I get my sense of dramatics from my wife, thank you.}

The Fifth Weekend

After working on the sanding and staining process all week long, the finish was finally up to par with what we were hoping for {with the exception of one spot on the frame – darn knots in the wood!}. The plan for the new legs worked famously – our bed now features not a wobble, squeak or shake.

Either way, we FINALLY slept on our platform bed this past weekend, and it was a rousing SUCCESS to A) finally be sleeping in an actual bed again, and to B) be sleeping in a bed that I built with my own two hands.

Take a look:

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Project Takeaways

This project offered a few lessons:

1. Buy better-quality wood. Our options for high-quality wood are quite limited here in South Dakota; even though the Black Hills of SD are full of pine wood, the quality can be hit or miss at times, as we discovered with this project.

2. Buy the wood earlier in the building/planning process, so that you have time to let it set in your home/garage to accustom to your environment. If it warps horribly, replace it.

3. Staining should be left to my wife. While spray painting is apparently a skill I have {more info on this to come!}, that’s where it ends. {Sara’s Edit: I’ve never stained, either…}

Anyway, we’re very happy with the fact that the bed is finally DONE, and we’re so pleased with the look and the quality of the platform-style frame. Sure, we’d do a few things differently next time around, but it, like building the kitchen table, was a learning process from start to finish.

Master Bedroom To-Do List:

Here’s what’s left on the good ol’ Listy McListerson for our Master Bedroom:

– paint (indigo)

– accent/repaint tray ceiling

– add end table

– hang curtain rod and curtains

– add seating area

– purchase new duvet cover, shams, accent pillows

– sell IKEA Hemnes bed, dresser and nightstand {to my brother!}

– DIY a bed

– make a haven for baby no. 2 in master bedroom {mood board to come!}

– DIY a sunburst mirror using wood shims

– add art

– remove and sell the ceiling fan {to Sara’s parents!}; add a chandelier

– add sconces flanking the bed

– DIY a tufted, upholstered headboard

– paint interior of closet a fun color {wine? emerald?} or add wallpaper/DIY a stenciled paint treatment