Category: General

It Might Get Loud

The Arnold Girls Dominating the Mall Play AreaIt’s Thanksgiving night. It’s 11:30, and I think it’s finally quiet.

One thing you can count on – a household with four little girls in it gets loud sometimes. Okay most of the time. Add in their three cousins (also girls) for a Thanksgiving night sleepover, and it’s a veritable cacophony. Everything makes noise – their toys, their TV shows, their joys, and their tears. I often joke that my job as a Dad (or “The Enforcer”, as my wife has dubbed me) is to find out who is crying, then find and punish whoever caused it.

We’re used to the din and don’t mind it much most days. After all, it’s what we signed up for when we had this brood. But it can be a bit much for the uninitiated. In restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices, churches, and fully booked airplanes, we’re a roaming wall of sound, assaulting the eardrums of everyone in our path.

The most flagrant noise ordinance violation we’ve ever committed was the time we took our 8 month-old twins on a red-eye flight from Seattle to Orlando. There were two aisles of seats, three across on each side. My wife and I each had a baby and were seated across the from one another, leaving two aisle seats wide open. The nice young couple who were scheduled to occupy those doomed locations explained to us that they had just been married, and were flying out for their honeymoon. Predictably, at least one of the little nippers was inconsolably screaming her head off the entire 6 hours we were aloft. The newlyweds were very nice and extremely patient with the whole situation, but I couldn’t apologize enough to those poor people.

We do try to keep the volume down, especially in public. But four is a lot of kids and even a little sound from each multiplies and carries. So we tend to eat out at loud places like Red Robin, go to animated movies at matinee times (when everyone there has a couple of talkative toddlers in tow), and generally avoid anyplace where people are expecting tranquility. Despite our best efforts, we end up harshing some folks’ mellow. Most are very gracious, but a few have taken the time to let us know just how annoying our presence is. So far, my all-time favorite is the lady who stopped my wife in Target on a weekday morning to let her know that our two year-old’s “Mommy said ‘no’ to me” tantrum was “disturbing the whole store”, and that she needed to “stop and attend to her needs.” I get it; we all know what a haven of peace and quiet Target on a Tuesday at ten usually is. And as all parents know, that kind of very non-specific, unsolicited parenting advice is oh so very helpful.

But noise isn’t all bad. The wailing of a newborn can be the sweetest sound you’ve ever heard. We strain to hear it during delivery – the incontrovertible proof that they are alive and well. And silence isn’t always golden. We’ve had quieter Thanksgivings, but I’ll take a noisy night over our former barren, empty nest any day.

I know I have to teach them to be courteous members of society, so I’ll keep trying to get them to contain themselves in public. I’ll employ ridiculous commands like “let’s use our inside voices.” I’ll keep tipping just a little extra at restaurants to make up for the 500 times per meal they forget to. And I’ll continue to be thankful for their beautiful noise.

By the way, if you ever make your way over to the Arnold Chick Ranch and Toddler Day Spa, you should know we don’t monitor the decibels quite as closely on site – I think home is the one place you should be able to let loose a little. So if you’re sound-sensitive, you might want to bring along your noise-canceling headphones. ‘Cause this place is full of life, and it might get loud.

 

Developmental Psychology 102: Control

It’s been almost a year since my last post. An eventful year for our family. We gained a new home. We lost a father / grandfather. And a thousand other tiny but no less epic events. I will write more about all that soon…

But today we continue our study in Developmental Psychology. Here in Dev Psych 102, we explore the limits of control.

I only have practical experience in raising children below the age of 6. By the time I have hands-on knowledge of each new age and phase, it’s far too late for our two oldest Arnold Girls, in the same way it’s too late to avoid a train once it’s run you over.

So I read a lot, hoping to find wisdom and help for each new stage or phase or seismic shift that’s coming. In the process I’ve found a lot of conversations about control – and not losing it. Controlling attitudes. Control actions. Controlling your emotions. There’s even a behavioral adjustment system you can order that promises to “change your child’s attitude in 30 seconds or less.”

Read More…

 

Game Show Fail

Tonight my episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” finally aired. I can now legally talk about the experience. That, in itself, is a huge relief. I thought I would collect my thoughts on the journey here, since this is our family blog, and this had a lot to do with the family.

A Brief Recap
For those who have no idea what I am talking about, last summer I auditioned in Seattle for the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” I passed the test and interviews and received notice that I had made the contestant pool. In August I was selected to be on the show. Stacey and I flew to New York at our own expense and taped my episode in September. The episode aired last night.

If you leave out the actual game, it was a great experience. My game play, however, was a complete,  unqualified disaster. The new version of Millionaire shuffles the difficulty levels and dollar values ($100-$25,000) for the first ten questions. This means you could get the hardest question and it may only be worth $100 . If you walk away before question 10, you keep half of the money you have won answering questions up to that point. Lifelines are ‘Jump the Question’ (2 of these) and ‘Ask the Audience’. If you jump a question, you don’t have to answer, but you lose whatever dollar value the question is worth. Oh – and you don’t know the values until you answer. I jumped two questions early on. The first was worth $25,000, the next worth $15,000. That was pretty much the end. I ran up against an iPad question (more on that later) and asked the audience. They were more or less evenly divided on all four answers. I took a guess, betting against the audience and risking my paltry $12,600 bank. I was wrong. 35% of the audience was right. Instead of $6,300 (half the bank), I got the consolation prize of $1,000. Subtract travel expenses for three days in Manhattan and I came out of the thing in the hole. Game show fail!

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Ella Does the Army Crawl

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLwldqUUJS0

 

Janae’s Christmas Story

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk2Rs4yXyfU