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Archives for: September 2005

Busy Lad - Handyman Dad

September 25th, 2005  · stk

If I haven't been writing much lately, it's because I've been up to my eyeballs in work. Not that that's a bad thing, but I must say ... I've got more than I can chew, right now.

How did this all start?

Last spring, we realized that if I were to work at something, we would be eligible for a Provincial child care subsidy. How? With Rachel in University and with me a stay-at-home Dad, our income is ZILCH. If I earned a buck, we'd make roughly $400 a month "extra" to help keep Alex socially adjusted, entertained and up to her eyeballs in more germs than you can shake a stick at. (I'm all for "free" money if/when you can get it, mostly because I've been putting INTO the system for years, it's nice to take a bit OUT.) ;)

In March, I started doing web design stuff (thanks to Whoo for getting me started) and although I enjoy it, there hasn't exactly been a herd of folks knocking down the door. When summertime came, our landlord, who is starting a landscaping business asked if I wouldn't mind helping out on a job or two. So, before we left for extended holidays and again, upon our return, I did a small bit of manual labor. It was fun to earn a bit of money and I thought, "I ought to strap on my tool belt and do more handyman work, like I used to do."

Well, one eave fascia job led to a faucet replacement job, then a range hood exhaust fan job, to a complete bathroom renovation job, to a porch painting job and two or three MORE jobs, all waiting in the wings. No advertising, just word of mouth. Not bad, but it's now got me working evenings and weekends, in addition to regular hours. The mad rush, perhaps, till the big winter chill.

One woman, who is selling her house next spring, REALLY wanted me to come by and begin painting their porch this weekend. (Before it gets too cold to paint). Wouldn't you know ... Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day. Last night, I called around, trying to find a babysitter for Alex, but couldn't - everyone was busy. Rachel couldn't do it because she's got a 5-page paper due for one of her nursing classes and was counting on ME to look after Alex.

So I called the lady, a mother of two boys, one Alex's age and the other a couple of years older. I made a proposal, "I'd really like to help you out and start painting the porch. If you could look after Alex, then - yes - I can come by and get started tomorrow." She said yes.

So that's how I was able to finagle someone into paying me to baby-sit Alex! Pretty sly, eh? I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer!

What did Alex think of the arrangement? She loved it! She had WAY more fun playing with these two boys than she would have had playing at home. And what an odd coincidence. The youngest boy is almost EXACTLY the same age as Alex. And an odder coincidence, the older boy's name is ALEX too! (Alexander)

So for the better part of the morning, Alexandra was called "little Alex" and Alexander was called "big Alex". They watched a movie (Finding Nemo) in the basement, had a snack, went across the street to play in the park and ate lunch. They all had a great time, while "handyman Dad" scraped, puttied, caulked and painted ... turning a coin and getting free day-care, twice over!

That Dad, what a busy lad!

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
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Filed in:Alexandra

On the Mend

September 18th, 2005  · stk

After 8 days since she first threw up, I know that Alex is on the road to recovery. This morning, she ate some cheerios, an egg and a whole piece of toast. Then she wanted another egg, which I fixed and she ate. I gave her some raisins, which she ate. Then she had a whole kiwi. Then a bowl full of yogurt. Then half a banana. And during this time, she drank two cups of milk. Wow. I never thought watching the Oop "pig out" would be such a relief.

Our house has had a dark cloud over it all week. It started, last Saturday, when the Oop threw up in bed. (Those of you who know us, know that Alex threw up for the first time, a week earlier, after visiting Fort Edmonton Park, on Labor Day). That time, she slept it off and bounced back. That time, we thought it was a one-off (and it did appear that way).

This time, she didn't bounce back. She threw up again, a couple of mornings later, after a mouthful of breakfast. She had watery diarrhea and a fever. Our normally happy child became cranky and lethargic. She had difficulty sleeping and wasn't interested in eating anything. Not one bite of food for several days. She complained about being hungry, so we would try to feed her one of her favorites (yogurt) and anything bland (crackers and toast). She would push it away, saying, "no" or take a couple of bites, then stop, complaining, "Tummy hurt."

It was very distressing and, of course, Alex began to lose weight. She was 27 pounds (unclothed) when we started. When we took her to the University Health Clinic on Monday, she weighed 11.5 Kg (25 pounds) - fully clothed - and by Thursday, she had lost another pound and a half.

Because she's a lean toddler, it really began to show and we became concerned. When I changed a rare poopy diaper on Thursday, I was shocked. Our little girl was wasting away, right in front of our eyes. Her muscle tone was gone, she looked gaunt and her legs and arms were shrunken.

She didn't play. She cried a lot. She laid around a lot and just wanted to be held. She slept in the morning, in the afternoon and fitfully, during the night. She awoke in the night, several times, crying. She would say "poopy", or "hungry", but wouldn't be poopy (she hadn't eaten anything, so nothing came out) and though she was hungry, it was too painful to eat more than a bite or two of food.

Fortunately for us, she continued to drink fluids throughout this gastrointestinal episode. She drank watered-down apple juice, mostly, though we did try some Gatorade, because we were concerned about her electrolyte levels. (She didn't much like the Gatorade). We laid off of milk, for a while, as it's difficult to digest. We kept to simple, bland foods, but she never took more than a bite or two.

It was a stressful to watch, as parents. We could only console and wonder, "When is she going to kick this thing?". The week went by and again, we visited the doctor (on Thursday). The doctor figured that she was pretty well hydrated and that she should recover soon and he was right. The next day, Friday, she began to turn the corner. The diarrhea stopped. The fever abated. She began to show more interest in food, even asking for an egg at breakfast.

But it wasn't till today, that I took a deep sigh of relief, watching her pound down an abnormally large amount of food for breakfast. Now, she's contentedly playing with her toys, by herself, in the living room. These are nice sounds that we haven't heard for a week.

Of course, now there's going to be a mess, as she starts to explore and push boundaries again. It's been easy to watch her all week, because she spent so much of her time resting. Now it will be back to the high-energy toddler and (of course) we will be thankful.

Watching your child refuse food and waste away is very difficult and stressful. You're helpless to do anything and that only adds to the misery.

To think that this was just a bout of stomach flu. God, what would it be like if it were something serious?

With a newly found, though woefully watered-down, sense of understanding, our hearts go out to parents who's babies have serious health problems. We've had a glimpse of the heartache, stress and helplessness that you must feel.

UPDATE (10 AM) - We've just gotten back from a visit with Paul, our neighbor (who had a quadruple bypass operation a couple of weeks ago), where Alex ate a cookie and drank some chocolate milk. When we got home, she said she was "hungee", so she's eaten ANOTHER egg, drank another cup of milk and I'm just fixing her ANOTHER piece of toast. Wow.

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
Web View Count: 7440 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Feb-2006
Filed in:GoodCo-BadCo

GoodCo - OshKosh B'Gosh

September 14th, 2005  · stk

When it comes to infant and toddler clothing, we consider OshKosh & Baby Gap "top shelf". We were disappointed, however, when we received two OshKosh bib overalls as gifts for Alex and the snaps, on both sets, kept coming open. The material was rugged, but the snaps were wimpy. The bibs were tossed into the closet, nearly new, because of the snap failures.

Alex outgrew the two OshKosh outfits, but we were still pertubed, "Gran and Grandpa paid premium dollar for these two outfits and Alex has hardly worn them."

Rachel finally called OshKosh, explaining the story of the wimpy snaps and our disappointment.

To her surprise, the representative she spoke with said, "Yes, we've been having problems with some batches of snaps during manufacturing. Please send the articles back to us and we'll reimburse you the cost."

The really nice thing - they offered to reimburse us for the cost of postage. How nice!

Today, we received a reimbursement check in the mail, along with a letter:

Thank you for sending your daughter's overalls to us. We're sorry you've had a problem, but we appreciate you taking the time to let us know. Enclosed, please find a check reimbursing you for the overalls, along with the postage to send your package to us. We hope that you'll be able to find another OshKosh item that your child will enjoy.

It is important to OshKosh B'Gosh to maintain our reputation for quality products and superior customer service and while problems do sometimes occur, we have not intention of risking the loss of consumer confidence. Please be assured that youre concerns have been shared with our merchandising and product developement departemnts.

Based on our positive customer service experience, we look forward to Alex trying another outfit from OshKosh B'Gosh clothing. We know that if we're not happy with it, that OshKosh will stand behind their products. That's a nice, good, old-fashioned approach that we like.

Kudos OshKosh! We thank you and recommend your products.

Note: OshKosh (in business since 1896) was acquired by Carter's in July, 2005. We hope that Carter's maintains the outstanding level of customer service in their new OshKosh "division".

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
Web View Count: 11930 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Feb-2006
Filed in:GoodCo-BadCo

The "GoodCo-BadCo" Category

September 14th, 2005  · stk

What's it for?

We're consumers. We need things for life, so we purchase them. Food, clothing, and shelter are tops on the list, but we need other things too. So, we interact with companies that sell these products. Most of the time, the transaction goes smoothly. It meets our expectations and we go along with our lives.

Every once in a while, we encounter an outstanding positive experience. One that brightens our day and reinforces our faith in humanity. Of course, not all transactions go like they should and there are some negative experiences as well. These might really frustrate us or anger us, because they just don't seem "right".

This category is a way for us to pat some companies on the back and say, "Hey ... this company is a great company. Here is our experience. We recommend that you consider their products or services."

Likewise, the category also gives us a way to expose the bad companies and say, "Hey ... this company is horrible. Look what they did to us. Can you believe it? Don't EVER buy from this outfit."

Good Companies - Bad Companies

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Updated: 19-Apr-2007
Web View Count: 1736 viewsLast Web Update: 19-Apr-2007
Filed in:CSS
The Web

z-index on a:hover elements

September 11th, 2005  · stk

An(other) IE6 Shortcoming

UPDATE 10-May-2006: Thanks to Stu Nicholls & ¥åßßå, I have found an effective work-a-round for this IE z-index issue. (See the solution).

I developed the second, more advanced version of the pure-CSS Photo Zoom (PZ2) in mid June. Besides our long summer vacation, one of the reasons I haven't yet published a 'production version', has revolved around a couple of problems with MSIE. I've found a work-a-round for one, but the other issue - a Z-index change on hover - remains.

I believe that the problem is "unsolvable". The work-a-round is not ideal, as it adds unnecessary complexity and limits PZ2s application. I am not happy. >:(

I blame it all on Microsoft's poor support for CSS standards.

At issue: IE's inability to support a z-index value change for a hovered element.

For an explanation and demonstration, as well as an IE "fix", read on...

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Updated: 24-Jul-2008
Web View Count: 147237 viewsLast Web Update: 24-Jul-2008
Filed in:Our Life

Edmonton (Circa 1800-1920)

September 7th, 2005  · stk

Fort Edmonton Alberta


The Province of Alberta is celebrating its Centennial this year and the big party in town was on September 1st. We didn't participate in any of the venues, but from what we heard (the sound of fireworks), it must've been a rousing time. We did, however, celebrate on September 5th, when Edmonton offered free admission to a number of city attractions. What better way to celebrate a 100-year birthday, than by visiting old Fort Edmonton, the 1800's trading post that predates this Provincial Capital?

Fort Edmonton Park is a living history museum that shows the growth of Edmonton through four historical periods - The old Fort, 1885, 1905 and 1920. Horse-drawn wagons, a steam train and electric trolleys provide transportation to their period-appropriate locations. In addition to the old trading post and fort, the other eras each have their own street, filled with historical buildings, costumed actors, operating shops (which includes the 30-room Selkirk Hotel) and a variety of amusements.

Learn about Fort Edmonton Park and our family visit ... Onward Ho!

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Updated: 3-Feb-2007
Web View Count: 43691 viewsLast Web Update: 3-Feb-2007