Mirror, Mirror, on the Van

The passenger-side mirror of our van has been cracked for a while – not just the mirror part but also the plastic housing. The housing had some sharp edges, so I wrapped it in some black duct tape after it tore a hole in one of my better T-shirts.

photo of a broken side-mirror housing

photo of a broken side mirror from a vehicle

After over a year of driving around with the mirror in that state (what? it was still mostly functional…) I decided to replace it. Why now? Because we had a couple of vacations that required some driving, and it would be a good time for that.

I had inquired about getting it replaced, but the dealership quoted over $100 (I forget exactly, $150 maybe?). I figured that, since I could still use the broken mirror and it wasn’t legally required anyway, why blow $150 on it? I could buy a mirror and try to install it myself. The total that way would be $50.

How long does it take to replace a side mirror? I took me about an hour. But I was staging photographs and noting things. If you skip those parts, it would have been 40 minutes. And if you skip the unnecessary steps, then it should take you 30 minutes.

The Replacements

Here are the 8 steps, with helpful photos, I took to replace the mirror on my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan:
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Back to Basics

I’ll let you in on a secret that the US government doesn’t want you to know.

Babies sleep better on their tummies than they do on their backs.

The government, of course, pushes the Back to Sleep program, which is intended to deprive parents of sleep.

If you want to make the government happy, you put your child on his back in the crib.

If you want the baby to sleep well (so that you can get sleep), you put your child to sleep on his tummy.

The only problem is visit to the doctor’s office. During the check-ups while the baby is an infant, the doctor will ask how the baby is sleeping. This must be required by law or by the medical establishment, because they always ask. But the wording is up to the doctor.

This is one of the differences between an average doctor and a good doctor:
an average doctor will ask if you lay the baby down to sleep on his back, whereas
a good doctor will ask if you are aware of the Back to Sleep program (that babies should sleep on their backs).

Note the difference – the average doctor places you on the defensive (in the spotlight) but a good doctor places you at ease. Because if you’re like us and sleep the baby on his front, how are you to answer?

Plus, a good doctor will already know what you’re doing and won’t need to ask.
Does the baby have a misshapen head? Must be a back sleeper.
Does the baby have a bald spot? Must be a back sleeper.Must be a back sleeper.
Can the baby roll from back to front but not front to back?

You don’t need to directly ask which way the baby sleeps.

We have a good doctor now.

Note: if you want some interesting reading, go learn about the success of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping campaign. That’s a better way of doing things – investigate and then address the actual problem, rather than guess and pick something that opposes basic biological tendencies.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8

The Three Kinds of Heat

Travel Conversation

For this to make sense, you should know that our kids call my mom “Nanoo” and you should also know that Beta has the bad habit of biting his fingernails. He is always doing that, which means that his fingernails are measured in negative length. It’s bad, and we encourage him to stop.

The Scene: our minivan
We are travelling with the grandparents to a local destination, and Nanoo is riding in the back with Alpha and Beta.

Beta: I’m picking my nose!
Me: Nanoo, you’re in charge of stopping that.
Nanoo: Okay – Beta, don’t do that. Bite your nails instead.
Me: Nanoo, you’re not in charge anymore.

Exploding Stomach

The Scene: Alpha just finished eating a foot-long sub.
Alpha: I feel like exploding
Beta: Okay, explode!
Alpha, waving his arms: Boom!
Beta: No, exploding means throwing up.

You can tell we had just gone through some flu-like symptoms in the family.

The Kinds of Love

The Scene: the dinner table, where I have just warned the children that their food is hot. Spicy hot.
Me: There are two kinds of hot: temperature hot and spicy hot.
Astute Child: And there’s the L-O-V-E kind of hot too.
Me: Umm, yes.
Me: Anyway, that food’s a little spicy, so take a small bite first.

I don’t know what to say to that, other than do not assume that TV programs or commercials will go over your children’s heads. We don’t watch much TV, and we filter the commercials when necessary, and this stuff still slips through.

You whose garments are hot, When the land is still because of the south wind?

Job 37:17

Skate Expectations

My Own Skates

My parents took us out for my birthday. We went to dinner and I picked out my present. Since Beta likes to ice skate, I’ve taken him a few times. He has his own skates, but I always had to rent mine.

Until now.

I have my own skates. I don’t need to wait in line at the rental counter. I no longer need to give them my shoes as collateral. And I won’t be worried that I get the rental skates with the one shoelace that’s too short. I am free!

Well, somewhat free. I still have to pay the admission fee.

picture of new hockey skates in a box

picture of new hockey skates in a box

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Please Answer the Phone

Somewhere, in a secret location below the streets of New York, the nation’s telemarketing executives plan their next move…

“The average citizen is on to our plan to disguise our caller ID.”
“They’re not falling for the caller ID where we list just a city anymore.”
“They’re not answering when we block the caller ID so they can’t tell who it is.”
“What can we do?”
“I got it! We can use caller ID to tell them they must answer the phone.”

picture of caller ID displaying an important message

No, I didn’t answer.

It turned out to be a reminder from the doctor’s office about an upcoming appointment. They must use a calling service that handles a number of different clients, so they keep their caller ID generic – a little too generic I think.

If they had the caller ID display the name of the hospital or doctor’s office, more people would answer. But it’s just a recording anyway, so no one’s offended if you don’t answer.

In summary, we had a recording leaving a recording. Eventually, all the machines will talk to each other and leave the people out of it altogether. That’s fine with me if it means that I don’t have to answer any phones.

Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming;

Isaiah 41:22

Tips for the Recovery Room

I’ve already listed tips to be prepared for a trip to the maternity ward. But what about after the baby has been born? That’s what today’s list will cover.

  • Pack a zip-up fleece or warm sweatshirt. And warm socks. They keep those rooms pretty cold. These items are not for you – they are for your wife. And it must be a zip-up shirt thingy. The pullover types do not play nicely with the IV lines.
  • Don’t get flowers before you go to the hospital, but do get them before she leaves the hospital. The sooner after the baby is born, the better. One trick is that, since the hospital doesn’t feed the dad, you have to go out and get your own meal. While you’re out getting your food, buy some flowers and bring them back to the room. With some extra fries.
  • Make sure your wife has her own pillow. The hospital pillows are not comfortable. If you’re going to sleep on the rocking chair or couch or whatever furniture the hospital has in the recovery room, then make sure you take your own pillow too.
  • Don’t forget the baby’s name. This is not a problem for the first child, but I kept calling Delta by Gamma’s name. I have corrected this by calling all my children “Buddy”.

And one more thing:

  • Right after the baby is born, it’s best to focus your attention on the baby. Get some pictures, etc. You really do not want to see what the doctor is doing anymore.

Any other things for dads to know about post-delivery?

I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

2 Corinthians 11:27

No Biggy

Some of you may have been wondering how Biggy the fish is doing.

Let me correct that to “how Biggy the fish was doing”.

He lasted about one more week than the other fish, so about two weeks total.

picture of a dead goldfish floating in a fishbowl

The kids were not distraught at all. They think that’s what fish are for – bring them home and check each day if they’re floating or swimming.

I came home from work one day and was greeted by “He’s floating!” I noted somewhere in my head that I would need to scoop him out and throw him away (I’m not stocking our septic tank with fish).

And then I got distracted by more important tasks

…for a few days.

When Beta asked me why Biggy’s eyes were turning white, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.

picture of a dead goldfish

So now we are the proud owners of…

an empty fish tank.

And we would like to keep it that way for a while.

The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.

Exodus 7:18