Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Food Pride

I make a point to try all the food Baby J eats. I figure if I won't eat it, neither should she. By now, I've tried a wide variety of different brands and flavors. Most are bland, some are gross, and a few are absolutely delightful. Gerber makes some dynamite flavors for Stage 2 including a mango puree and a bunch of granola/fruit combos.

Is it wrong that I want to buy baby food for myself and keep it on hand as a snack? That I want to take it with me when I need to pack a lunch? That I want to come home after a long day and flop down on the couch with a container of Stage 2 banana, strawberry, pear blend?



Something about it just feels wrong. Maybe if I buy a bunch of baby food and somehow fit it into an emptied beer bottle or something, I'll feel better about the whole thing, more manly. Maybe I could use a big, fat beer stein so everyone will think I'm just a drunk instead of a weirdo that eats baby food for pleasure. I wonder which is more socially acceptable.

Or maybe I shouldn't be ashamed at all. Good food is good food, right? Maybe I should come out of the closet and openly eat baby food whenever and wherever I feel like it. Maybe others will stand up and join me. Maybe I could start a movement. A baby food pride movement.

I'll think it over this afternoon while I'm slurping down some smooshed bananas.

Listening To: If'n by fIREHOSE




Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lovies

Baby J is at about that age where kids start to develop an affinity for their "lovie." You know, that favorite toy or blanket that they take where ever they go. Like Linus' blanket. Or Knuffle Bunny from the book by Mo Willems.

I think it's a little too early to start saying that Baby J has selected one particular lovie but over the past couple of days she's developed a curious relationship with a small, unopened package of Kleenex.



She clutches it tightly in her little fist as she crawls around the house, stopping periodically to mouth it or slap it around. Baby J has lots of cute bunny toys and a few dolls she could drag around but she seems to prefer the company of the Kleenex. I'm not really sure why.

There's really no way to know what kids will fall in love with. Or why. Human affections (even those in very young children) are mysterious. Who knows why we're attracted to one person and not another?

One of these days, someone is bound to pinpoint the structures in the brain responsible for our emotional attachments. In the not-so-distant future, I bet they'll be mapped through computer models like hurricanes.

Whatever we learn in the future though, it won't really change the fact that these feelings exist in all of us and they represent some of our more endearing qualities. We all have our lovies of one sort or another and we should celebrate that.



Monday, September 28, 2009

COMIC - Wardrobe

Here's another comic. I colored it in so it looks all nice and pretty. I hope you enjoy because it took freakin' forever!


--click to enlarge--

Listening To: Tenacious D by Tenacious D



Sunday, September 27, 2009

SONG - Squeaky Symphony

I made another little musical number with the assorted sounds of baby. This one is played entirely with Baby J's toys. It's probably best described as obnoxious and ear-splitting. Enjoy!

video

Drool

All babies drool. Baby J has certainly been doing her share of drool over the past 9 months. Just about everything in the house has been drizzled with cold, wet baby slobber at one point or another. Over the past few days, however, the drool has moved to the next level. It's no longer a trickle. It sloshes out in waves. It's a tsunami of tspittle. Her bibs reach the point of saturation three or four times a day. It's a wonder she doesn't get dehydrated.

I assume that she's teething but I haven't seen any teeth yet. I've heard that babies can teeth for months before a tooth comes in. Either way, it looks like we're just at the beginning, there's more drool to come.

It's raining out today. A cold, sustained drizzle.

Sky slobber.

Listening To: Promotional Copy by Reggie and the Full Effect


Saturday, September 26, 2009

COMIC - Claws

--click to enlarge--

Listening To: Armalite by Armalite


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hair

I'm losing my hair. Baby J has just the opposite problem. Her hair grows hair so quickly, thickly and in such an unrly way that I spend a better part of my day trying to brush it into submission. I am now a full-sevice, full-time hair stylist and the irony of the situation stabs at my balding pride like little baby fingernails.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hunchback of the Condo Complex

I watched Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame yesterday. I love animation and have a special place in my heart for this movie. You just have to admire the dark, adult themes they put out there, the new character paradigms, etc. Aside from the obnoxious gargoyle sidekicks and distracting musical numbers, I'd say it's an awesome movie.

But I'm not posting to celebrate or review this film.

I'm posting because, last night, I couldn't sleep. Something about the movie was bugging me and I couldn't quite figure it out. But in the wee hours of the morning, it started to sink in, I started to make a connection.

The hunchback never leaves the cathedral towers where the bells are kept. His sole purpose is their care.

Forgive me for this pun but is this ringing any bells?


me and Baby J

I rarely leave my little condo. My sole purpose is baby care. I change her, feed her, put her down for a nap with the same regularity the ringing bells in a church tower.


me?

When my wife comes home today, I'm going to grab her and declare sanctuary. I doubt she'll understand, probably think I'm going stir crazy, but what the hell. This is the type of humor you develop when you spend all day with a baby.




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FIRSTS: Kiss

Baby J and I attended a play group yesterday. Usually, Baby J crawls around and ignores the other babies. Today, however, she sidled up beside a boy named Matthew and sat down. After a few gentle pats of his downy baby hair, she leaned in a placed her mouth on the crown of his head and slobbered a bit. Matthew didn't seem to mind having his scalp slurped nor did his mother protest so we all watched and waited until she was finished. Afterward, she just crawled away like nothing had happened. I guess she's just not that into him.

Listening To: Open Your Eyes by Goldfinger


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

COMIC - Baby = Volcano

--click to enlarge--

Listening To: Good Mourning by Alkaline Trio

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby Justice

Whenever two babies come together in a play situation, the occasion will inevitably arise when both babies want a single toy at the same time. One will reach out and take it from the other setting off a flurry of activity from the watchful parents. Usually, adults react in one of three ways to this scenario.
  1. The toy in question is taken away from the offending child and returned to the first child often accompanied by a short treatise on why it's good to share
  2. Either the perpetrator or the victim of the toy theft will be offered an alternative toy as a distraction
  3. The adults nearby do not take action
I must admit that I am a member of the third category - in part because I'm scientifically interested in observing the ways babies can interact with each other. But, mostly it's because I don't really know what else to do. Until Baby J is older, I can't really see the point of rushing in to explain the virtues of sharing to both parties while I forcibly removing the toy from her tiny fists. Nor do I think it makes sense to distract either baby with an undisputed toy. It doesn't really solve the situation - only complicates it further.

I guess most folks react because they don't want to seem rude to the other child's parents. I certainly don't want to be rude either but I feel like it's just a little to early to swoop in and save the day. After all, if Baby J has a stolen toy and I take away from her, how is she to differentiate my behavior from hers? How is she to know that I have the law on my side?

Despite a nagging feeling that I'm reinforcing some sort of antisocial behavior, I guess the do-nothing approach is okay at this point. After all, do babies even have a concept of ownership? Do they understand justice? Can they feel slighted by an offending peer?

There's plenty of time to teach the importance of sharing. For now, baby toy-theft is a natural part of socialization, a victimless crime.

Listening To: Plain Rap by Pharcyde


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lazy Weekends...

Though I am a stay-at-home dad, I remain incredibly busy on a day to day basis with things other than the contents of Baby J's diapers. On most days, my "to do" lists stretch for a full page. I whirl around like a Tasmanian devil, a powerhouse of productive energy.

But, for some reason, that all changes when my wife is home on the weekend. For example, even though I have a ton of stuff to do, my schedule for yesterday (Saturday) consisted almost entirely of sleeping and watching television. I watched 3 DVD's pretty much in a row! My biggest accomplishment was taking a shower.

Since Saturdays and Sundays are like every other day for those of us without an official workweek, I have a feeling it has more to do with the presence of my wife than it does the day of the week. Like she's some enchantress of listlessness.

However, I'd like to change all that today. Even though the wife is here and it's Sunday, I want to get something done. I want to accomplish something. I'm not sure what that something is yet but I'm confident I'll get an idea if I just sit on the couch and watch t.v. for a little while. It may take all day but it'll come to me eventually. I can sit there all day. I have that kind of unwavering determination.

I think I'll hang out in my pajamas until it comes to me. You know, so I do put on the wrong sort of clothes for whatever this future task may be. And since I'm not getting changed just yet, it would be silly to take a shower.

Listening To: Vinyl Killer by Drums & Tuba


Friday, September 18, 2009

Big Questions

People like to wonder what happens to you when you die, but no one ever really considers where you are before you're born.

I guess Baby J really wasn't anywhere before she was born. Or, another way to look at it was that she was everywhere. Once I contributed my share to the venture, my wife went about the busy task of putting together a baby. The myriad pieces that make up Baby J were taken in and fitted together carefully over several months. Part of the baby could have been in a leaf of lettuce grown out in California, trucked across the country. Another part of her might have ripened in the flesh of a mango under a blazing Indian sun. So where do you come from before you're born? Probably the same place you go when you die. The thrumming cycles of the natural world.

Another question people love to argue about is when does life begin with a baby, when does not alive stop and alive start. I don't know the answer to these questions but this might be another thread that ties the beginning of life to the end of it.

My grandmother has been suffering from dementia for a few years now, the underpinnings of her mind have been slowly eroding. She's probably going to keep slipping until she can't hang on anymore. It's tragic, of course, but like all sad things in my life, my grandmother's slow departure will seem less sad if I can learn something from it, use it to think of something new and good. This is what I've got so far:

Maybe the time before you're born is like my grandmother's deterioration in reverse. Maybe there is no switch flipped, no sudden flash as you come on line. Maybe it's more like a dimmer switch sliding slowly towards the on position.

There are so many ways babies mirror our aging family member that it's hard for me not to come up with these ideas.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

COMIC - Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety.


--click to enlarge--

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

COMIC - Mom's Club Party

How about a comic.

Maybe I'll make this a regular feature. Maybe not.


--click to enlarge--



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Separate Anxiety

Baby J's reached another milestone, the onset of separation anxiety. This means that if I let her alone for any amount of time at all she turns red, teary-eyed, and howls until I return.

It's nice to feel wanted but...

I have to take her with me everywhere I go now. She needs to hold onto my leg when I do stuff in the kitchen. She needs to sit right beside me while I eat lunch. She needs me to carry around as I go boozing for chicks at the clubs.

Apparently, she's supposed to work through this over the next couple of months but until then she and I will share a closeness not felt since Kuato from Total Recall.



Okay, maybe not that gross but you get the idea.

Listening To: Teeny Shiny by Melt Banana


Monday, September 14, 2009

Compare and Contrast

Whenever two parents meet, there is an inevitable moment when both parties size up the other's kids and compare them to one another. Age. Weight. Number of teeth. Pretty much anything upon which you can place a numerical value.

I try to avoid doing this when I meet another baby, and, when probed by others, I tend not to divulge information easily. I'm pretty sure this is because I don't like ranking children against one another. I buck against this sort of behavior and find it kind of unpleasant. After all, when you meet another adult, you don't start gathering data for qualitative analysis. People who do that are usually economists or accountants and aren't much fun at parties.

Why are we so quick to measure our babies against one another? Are we fearful that there might be some developmental delay surfacing? Do we wish to boast? Do we wish to validate our own unique brand of parenting? Well, in my expert opinion, your child is not a yardstick with which you can measure your prowess as a parent and comparing them to one another throughout childhood is an insipid enterprise.

I'm not saying every child is a beautiful, wonderful, unique, little snowflake and, sure, there is reason enough to compare and contrast their development. But in a world where we fret like crazy over test scores, salaries, yards rushed, and the sizes of our various body parts, can't we leave our kids out of it for at least a little while? Childhood should be a haven from competition and ranking in my humble but emphatic opinion. They'll have the rest of their lives to compete, the rest of their lives dabble in the adult art of comparison.

Listening To: Lennon Legend by John Lennon


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hot Head

Baby J can cry. She can say, "da da da da da." She can grunt and she can squeal. None of these noises are easily interpreted so finding out what she wants/needs at any given moment involves a lot of guessing and intuition. Often times, I have to rely on her nonverbal cues to figure out what's going on. Yawning is an easy cue for nap time but it can go unnoticed if she's shoving something into her mouth which she usually is. A more reliable sign that nap time is near is a hot head.

When Baby J is tired, her head becomes very hot to the touch and she gets so sweaty her hair curls up. To anyone else, it would look like my daughter is just warm but, to me, a sweaty head is a sure sign that sleep is in the near future. I'm pretty sure she'll outgrow this someday. After all, you don't see very many adults sweating profusely when they are tired. But for the time being, I'm glad the hot head lets me know what I should be doing.

Idiosyncratic qualities of a baby, once properly interpreted, can be just as clear as if she were talking to you directly.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Baby Talk and Adult Conversation

Have you ever noticed how some parents talk to other adults through their baby? My wife does it when she wants me to do something. She'll say something like this:

[In baby talk] "Do you want daddy to empty the dishwasher, Baby J?"

I've noticed that lots of parent do this. They communicate with others by speaking to their baby. I've even caught myself doing it once or twice. It's kind of strange. After all, Baby J has no clue what a dishwasher is, let alone that it needs to be emptied periodically. It's actually probably pretty confusing to kids. They're just trying to figure out how to put both feet in their mouth at the same time. I doubt they'd even want input into who puts the dishes away even if they could understand.

The other day, a lady I met at a play group wanted to tell me that she liked the stroller I was using. So to her daughter she said:

[In baby talk] "Isn't that a pretty stroller? Don't you like the man's stroller?"

I suppose it was a nice compliment and should leave it at that. But why didn't she simply say to me, "I like your stroller." Her daughter clearly didn't care one way or the other. She was too busy drooling all over the plastic head of her doll.

It's nice that we all want our children to be comfortable in adult conversations but I think we should speak directly to one another instead of in some cloying, circuitous, second-tier communiqué.

[In baby talk] "Isn't that right, computer? Yes it is. We want parents to communicate directly. Yes, we do!"

Listening To: Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bug Meets Baby

Baby J was taking a bottle this afternoon just before her naptime. A warm breeze was coming into the nursery, lifting the curtains and then placing them down without so much as a whisper. It was placid, idyllic. But then. the calm was shattered suddenly when a gnat flew down, landed under Baby J's nose, and crawled into her right nostril.

I've heard of the proverbial bee in the proverbial bonnet but never the proverbial gnat in the proverbial nose. I grabbed a bulb syringe and plumbed my daughters nasal passages. She wasn't upset at all, just seemed a little confused why I was picking her nose before a nap.

I never did get the bug out. I didn't see it fly out the other side or anything either. He's probably still in there somewhere. I can only guess where.

I called the doctor's office. They weren't concerned. My wife came home, thought it was really funny. Haven't these people ever seen the fly?! Next thing you know Baby J's going to turn into some freaking Jeff Goldbloom monster and start spitting up all over everything.

Actually, she already spits up all over everything so I guess things won't really change that much.



Freakonomics of Fatherhood


If you haven't read or heard anything about Freakonomics yet, I suggest you check it out immediately. I specifically recommend chapter 5 if you are a new parent like me. Here's the basic gist of the book:
Conventional wisdom is, at best, erroneous, and, at worst, entirely harmful. Though the tools provided by the field of economics (which is usually incredibly dry and dull) information can be gleaned which reveals the true nature about the way things work.
Chapter 5 is all about parenting and basically reaches this conclusion:
You, as a parent, are very important in shaping your child's future but not at all in the way you think. It's who you are as a person rather than what you do as a parent that dictates your child's future - statistically speaking, of course.
Since I'm more of an artist than a scientist and approach parenting intuitively rather than academically, I found this conclusion to be reassuring. My being happy, healthy, and educated will help my Baby J more than the the various volumes on child rearing I was supposed to read but never did. As long as I'm not a jerk and don't do anything that feels out of sync with my role as a dad, things should go pretty well.

Whew...that's a relief


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Poop v. Star Wars

We have a small device in our house that looks, at a passing glance, just like R2-D2 from Star Wars. It's called a Diaper Champ and it's where you stuff dirty diapers so they don't stink up the room. With one motion, the diaper champ swallows funky little bundles and opens up an empty chamber for the next time you need it. It's a pretty ingenious little contraption.

Diaper Champ

R2-D2

I wonder if the designers really did look to Star Wars for inspiration when creating the Diaper Champ. Could there be other poop related items out there also influenced by the imagination of George Lucas?

Toilet Seat

The Millennium Falcon

Listening To: Pod by The Breeders

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

I don't have much to say today. I just wanted to record for posterity an occasion which I'm pretty sure few parents have ever witnessed.

Today, Baby J spit up on her back.

Here's how it happened: I was sitting with her on the front steps of our house when suddenly, though not unexpectedly, I felt the warm, regurgitated goo which has become a part of my daily life since Baby J made her debut. I looked down to see that somehow the "lava flow" had trickled down the back of her shirt and on to the backside of her pants, a complete reversal of how it usually goes. I had not witnessed her spitting up directly but, unmistakably, she had done in backwards. The breast of her shirt was unsullied.

She must have had a Linda Blair moment there. Maybe my baby is possessed. Either way, you have to be impressed. I mean, you try it. Spitting up on your back. Physically, I can't understand how it happened.

But it did happen and I have the soiled baby shirt to prove it.

That is all.

Listening To: From the Soil to the Soul by Tommy Guerrero


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twist & Shout

***DISCLAIMER: DAWN OF THE DAD WILL NOT BE HELP RESPONSIBLE IF THE FOLLOWING POST TURNS YOU OFF FROM EVER WANTING TO HAVE CHILDREN***

It is freakin' adorable the way babies get more and more mobile as the weeks go by. Rolling over, crawling, pulling up. It's pretty mind blowing that they just do it all on their own.

My parents love to say, "Oh boy! You'll have to watch out now," or "Oh boy! Life sure will change for you once the baby is able to move around more."

I guess it's sort of true. But since Baby J started moving around more, the most dramatic thing to change for us has been diaper time.

She flexes and spins on changing table now like a champion breakdancer. I try desperately to hold her, juggle the diapers, wipes, and butt salve while she's doing b-boy moves. Usually, it's manageable but yesterday she had a blowout unlike anything I've ever seen before. And, as I tried to conquer the poopy diaper to end all poopy diapers, she decided she was going to execute a half-gainer with a double twist, Greg Louganis style.

Somehow, I kept it under control but Baby J wasn't shy about sharing her displeasure that I was cramping her style.

It's no wonder kids don't want to potty train. Diaper dancing is something we only get to experience while we're babies.




Saturday, September 5, 2009

SONG - Anthem for Stay at Home Dads

I recorded a song today that includes some of Baby J's cooing and hooting. For no particular reason, I call it Anthem for Stay at Home Dads. Check it out.

video

Listening To: Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr.


Friday, September 4, 2009

A Clockwork Baby

My wife and I are very punctual people. Even with the addition of a baby to our lives, we do pretty much everything in our power to be where we say we're going be when we say we're going to be there. I myself feel something akin to physical pain when I feel there is even a shadow of a chance that I will be a moment late.

I'm beginning to suspect that timeliness is a genetic trait (most likely one of those rare recessive alleles). Our child, Baby J, wakes up each morning at a specific time. She grows hungry for a bottle at almost the exact time each day. She falls asleep for her first nap of the day promptly thereafter.

You could set a clock by my baby.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Most people very much enjoy the familiarity of their daily routines. Why should little people be any different? I guess I just find it hard to understand how my baby can be keep an solid routine when confronted with so many novel experiences each day. I mean, she's a baby. Everything is new to her!

If each day you were to discover new things your body could do, new places to explore, and a wide variety of things you could put your mouth on, would you break at exactly the same time each day to sleep? Or eat?

Or is that maybe novel experiences are simply part of the daily schedule for Baby J? Is novelty is the norm?

Baby J is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma...snoozing in a crib.

Listening To: Kamaal the Abstract by Q-Tip


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Epiphany While Doing Laundry

I folded Baby J's laundry this morning. Aside from a trip to the post office and the library, that's pretty much all I've done today. The fact that I've done so few things today must be magnifying their importance to me because folding the baby wash pretty much blew my mind.

I'm sure every mom or dad has a revelation at one time or another during which the sheer enormity of being a parent really hits home. I haven't had many (they tend not to happen in the first few months of life since exhaustion strips you of the brainpower required for an epiphany) but I had one while folding the baby wash.

Baby J's clothes are so freaking tiny, it's almost impossible to find a way to fold them in a practical way. I fell like some sausage-fingered oaf fumbling through a package of origami paper. It sort of brought home just how big the size difference is between babies and adults, how outsized they are in our world, and most importantly, how much help they need the help of their giant ambassadors (a.k.a. their parents).

In a world where everything is enormous (including your own unwieldy head) it sure does help to have a couple of affable ogre-like parents around. Otherwise, you're Gulliver among the Brobdignagians. Jack at the wrong end of the beanstalk.

Listening To: Wavering Radiant by Isis


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beach Baby (For Free)

We live right across the street from a lovely little beach. It's actually part of a state park. And even though, we pay state taxes to ensure that there are beautiful public places like this for all to enjoy, it costs $10.00 a pop to visit our beach. I can see the water stretch clear out to the horizon from my house. But if I want to touch it, I have to pay $10.00.

Actually, it only costs $10.00 during the summer season. Now that everyone's back to school and back to work, it's free again! Baby J and I went today. Just another perk of being a stay-at-home dad.

Baby J tried to eat the sand.

Listening To: Back to Front by Lionel Richie
What?! Is it a crime to like Lionel Richie? I'm not ashamed!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Play Group, Okay. Paint Shaker Brain, Not So Good.

Baby J and I went to our first play group today. Aside from feeling like a bit of a party crasher at a mommy sorority party, it went pretty well. We joined the women crouched on the floor clapping and singing to their kids. Baby J just sort of shrieked and crawled around despite a stirring rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from yours truly. She seemed to have fun, got to know some other babies. All in all, it was pretty good.

Baby J's nap routine got a little out of whack because of play group so she spent the remainder of the day howling like some red-eyed demon. Having worked in a school for several years, I'm pretty comfortable around screaming children. Today, however, things were different. Baby J's screams hit a rare frequency which caused my brain to rattle like a paint shaker.

She's down for the night now and a sense of calm is slowly restoring itself but I'm still amazed at the physical reaction that took place in me when she spent this afternoon crying. I guess it's something Darwinian but I would rather listen to a chorus of car alarms and dentists' drills thanhave her spent another day that way.

I guess when crying's all you can do to get your point across, you have to be good at it.

Listening To: Face to Face by Face to Face
I should probably be listening to something a bit more soothing.