Monday, November 30, 2009

Phantom Food

I noticed that when I feed Baby J, my jaw moves involuntarily as I watch her eat. With each new spoonful that I offer her, my mouth opens. And when she clamps down to slurp the food off the spoon, my mouth closes as well. It's like I'm eating phantom food.

I've tried to resist doing this but it happens quite automatically. If I don't fully concentrate on my mouth at that moment, it goes right back to eating air. And it doesn't just happen to me. When other people feed Baby J, they do the same thing regardless of whether or not they have kids of their own. It's kind of funny to watch. We're feeding her but taking imaginary bites of our own as we do.

I'm guessing that this sort of thing happens anytime people feed babies. I doubt it's a phenomenon localized solely around my daughter. It must be some universal parenting thinggy we all do.

Next time you have the occasion to watch someone feed a baby, watch their mouth and see if the try to eat phantom food.

Listening To: Talking Book by Stevie Wonder

Sunday, November 29, 2009

COMIC - Modern Marvels Part 3

The third part in our continuing series.

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Listening To: Aerial M by Aerial M

Saturday, November 28, 2009

POEM - From the floor...

Today, a haiku about Baby J's dietary choices.

She eats off the floor
anything she finds down there,
but never pasta

Listening To: Last Splash by The Breeders

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cat Food

Since the moment she started crawling, Baby J has been dying to get her little fists into the cat dishes. My wife and I are usually pretty quick to snatch her up before she ever makes contact with the cat food but today, under my watch, she finally made it to the promise land.

I knew something was up because it got very quiet all of a sudden. When I went to find Baby J, I found that Baby J had turned over one of the cat bowls and was plucking up the little bits from the floor. I'm guessing she ate a few pellets before I got to her. I'm hoping she realized that it's nothing special. Maybe now she's learned why we've been trying to stop her from eating the cat food all this time. Maybe now she'll leave the bowls alone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

FIRSTS - Thanksgiving

We've had a special Thanksgiving bib for about a year now that we've been waiting to use on Baby J's first Thanksgiving. It has a turkey on it and scattered autumn leaves. It's really no big deal but I'm very excited for her to wear it at dinner tonight. I'm not sure why.

But other than that, this Thanksgiving will be a first for Baby J in other ways too. It'll be the first time she ever eats meat. We've steered clear of meaty baby foods so far since they're pretty gross, resemble dog food. And since my wife is a vegetarian, there's never much meat in our house. Baby J hasn't really had the chance to sink her gums into an animal other than our cats. But tonight she will try some turkey!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

COMIC - Identity

I think this is my wordiest comic yet. Word Up.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

COMIC - The True Meaning of NASCAR Dad

I've never been a fan of NASCAR myself but that doesn't mean I can't make a comic about it.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Lovies 2

As reported here, Baby J has made some curious choices when it comes to lovies. Usually, kids go for cute stuffed animals or fluffy blanket but not my baby. Baby J first went for a package of Kleenex Pocket Packs. Now, however, she's moved on and developed an affinity for plastic coffee cup lids.

Whenever we go out, I give her a handful. She bangs them together like cymbals. Or uses one like a mini steering wheel as she sits in her stoller or car seat. Licks them. Loves them. When presented with her toy box, she consistently digs one out and slaps it around.

Perhaps she is destines for a career at Starbucks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

COMIC - Simple Pleasures

Oh look! A sideways comic. A Dawn of the Dad first.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Do Rug Rats Eat?

Baby J puts everything in her mouth. Her particular favorite seems to be little clumps of carpet fibers that interbreed with the dust bunnies in our home. I'm not sure what you call these strange, soft, nuggets but I know for sure that they are not suitable for baby consumption. Part of my daily dad duties include fishing non-food items like these out of baby's mouth.

It gets me wondering...

What evolutionary advantage does this give us as a species? Isn't it a bad thing that we each go through a developmental stage where we put everything we find lying around into our mouths? Wouldn't that reduce the viability of our species?

It wouldn't seem so to me but humans have been around for a few hundred thousand years so I guess it serves some benefit. Maybe in a system so complex and complicated my feeble brain can't comprehend its intricacies the fact that I chase Baby J around removing balls of lint out of her mouth is actually counterproductive biologically speaking. Maybe it's a survival of the fittest sort of thing. If you're fit enough to get nutrition out of dust balls you'll survive better.

Maybe this is the case but I still won't let my baby eat household detritus she finds on the floor. Screw you evolution!

Friday, November 20, 2009

COMIC - Automat

This comic requires a bit of background info to make sense. Click here to see a Wikipedia entry on automats.

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Listening To: In Utero by Nirvana

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Creativity - A Really Long Rant

When you look at standardized test scores of children all around the world, it's pretty easy to see that the US is falling behind in some areas. Some folks panic when they realize this. They see a doomsday future where Asian countries rise up with their superior math intellect and subjugate less number savvy nations. I doubt this will happen.

First of all, standardized tests are hardly a measure of a nation's worth. Rather, they are merely a shadow of a reflection of a snapshot of a sketch of the cognitive capacity of children. So what if Asian kids know their times tables earlier than we do? The US has something much more important. You see, we have been for many years and continue to be a crucible of creativity.

Think of all the major invetions created in our nation, Henry Ford's Model T, the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk, that stupid segway thing that only mall cops use.

I think it's most unintentional, but our society nutures creativity. We attract great minds from all around the world because of our fascination with new ideas and new technologies. With this in mind, it's pretty easy to see why rank nations by test scores, which are perhaps the most uncreative things in existance, is not necessarily a good idea.

American schools should worry less about test scores, focus more on expanding children's creativity. This works in the favor of schools since creativity not something you need to teach. Not in the way you need to teach history anyway. Kids are by nature very creative. Just go watch a little kid play for 10 minutes and you'll hear more new ideas than you would if you could sit in on a brainstorming session between Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Edison.

America's schools are pretty good at getting kids to fall in line. That's pretty much what they're designed for. And, sadly, falling in line is often the death of creative thought. S it's up to us parents.

Want to keep America great? Challenge your kids to be creative. Don't drive it out of them with soul-crushing standardized tests like SAT's. There's a lot of value to finding new ways to solve problems. And, as a parent, I have to keep this in mind when Baby J has used her toy box to escape from her little play enclosure. I have to remember this when she using my computer keyboard as a teething ring.

Listening To: Farm by Dinosaur Jr.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

COMIC - Modern Marvels Part 2

Like the bulb syringe, the Diaper Champ is an essential piece of parenting technology. In fact, today it's being honored as a Modern Marvel here at Dawn of the Dad. And, as if that was honor enough, the Diaper Champ is one of only a handful of topics to gain multiple mentions on my blog (click here to see the first).

That's like winning the Nobel Prize and an Oscar in the same day.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

COMIC - Seeds

I knew Chris quite well and it's totally true. Ask anybody.

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Listening To: Ozomatli by Ozomatli

Monday, November 16, 2009

You're so Smart!

Baby J was once looked like a little plucked chicken. She didn't do much but drain bottles and fill up diapers. As a newborn, she was precious and darling and wonderful and everything but she was also pretty boring.

Now, nearly a year old, she's a lot more interesting. She can do stuff more complex stuff like clap her hands and give you a high five. Now granted, by themselves these little hand gestures are not terribly interesting. What's really electrifying is that she figured out how to do them on her own.

I remember quite clearly when she was in plucked chicken mode so any new self-taught ability makes the contrast between then and now looks like Forrest Gump and Isaac Newton. It's no wonder parents all think their kids are brilliant. The go from zero to clapping hands without being taught to do so. They learn to roll over, push up, and crawl away without training. They cruise, walk, talk, grab your earlobe, and low raspberries all without your guidance. As far as I can tell, they need only your encouragement.

Which is good because every time she does something new, it blows my mind. Every time Baby J acquires a new skill, I can't help but cheer and tell her that she's a genius.

I say, "You're so smart!" about a hundred times a day.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone said that to each other regularly throughout the day? Don't you think the world would benefit from some encouraging words?

Well, I'm going to start a trend right now and I hope you'll help me. I'm going to tell a bunch of people that they're smart and cool and awesome today. I'm going to start with you, dear reader.

"You're so smart! Also, you are very awesome."

Don't believe me, click here:

Listening To: Embryonic by The Flaming Lips

Sunday, November 15, 2009

COMIC - Bonk

Another comic about Baby J falling down.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009


Baby J has some new tricks that I thought I'd record here for posterity.

1.) She can clap her hands now.
2.) She'll give you five if you ask her to.
3.) She can kinda sorta walk but so far it's only been a single unassisted step followed immediately after by a complete wipeout.

She also knows her name which I'm guessing makes her as smart as a dog at this point.

Friday, November 13, 2009

COMIC - Baby Proofing

No babies were harmed in the making of this comic.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Monkees' Head

One of my favorite movies is Head from 1968. It's a psychedelic stream of consciousness centered around the fantastical, nonsensical exploits of the Monkees.

I'm not sure why I like it so much. Probably because it's filled with song and silliness. Also, I love that there never has been and never will be another movie quite like it.

While watching it the other day, I realized that this surreal, non-sequential flow of the film is probably how babies see the world. It's all totally random, there are things to laugh at, and things that will frighten you. Everyone carries on like everything's totally normal and you're left trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I imagine that kids spend the first few years of their lives trying to do pretty much just that.

So, if you haven't seen Head, go watch it. It's madness. It's ridiculous. And it's probably a good approximation of how babies experience the world.

Listening To: Saguine by Nero

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

COMIC - Stranger Anxiety

People are strange when you're a stranger...

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Listening To: Mclusky Do Dallas by Mclusky

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


When a baby girl is born, she comes into the world with every single egg cell that she'll ever need during her life. Every chance she'll get to one day become a mother. These cells stay locked away until adolescence but they're all still in there. They form in utero which just blows my mind. Even before they're born, girl babies have them all stacked up for one one day in the distant future.

It makes me think of those Russian nested dolls. Inside one lives a smaller one. Inside that smaller one is another smaller still.

It's strange to me that life arranges itself in this way but it's been doing so for many millennia so it must be a pretty good system.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marsupial Me

Carrying around Baby J can be difficult. Especially when she's squirmy. To make things a little easier, we bought a little device with a baby-sized pouch on the front. It looks something like this:

It's kind of like being a kangaroo except without all the hopping. Baby J loves it and though I look slightly ridiculous while wearing it, I've grown to enjoy it too. It sure has made moving around with baby a lot easier.

Listening To: Elephant by The White Stripes

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Baby J has always been a delightful baby. Happy, friendly, and full of smiles. But recently, a pleading whine has worked its way into her vocabulary of mews and babbles. Recently, she's been feisty and irritable. I've heard that babies go through this phase around 10 months so I supposed she's right on target. But it's difficult to deal with.

Today, after a morning of disgruntled grumblings and whiney whimpers, we took a walk through the park. Her disposition changed dramatically. Once out of the house, she became cheerful and jolly again. Laughing at fallen leaves. Smiling at strangers.

I guess to combat crankiness we're going to have to get out of the house more and more. It's probably better for the both of us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Forget the Barrette

In the ongoing struggle to tame Baby J's wild hair, we have suffered another setback. Once upon a time, we could use barrettes to pin back her bangs. But now, as soon as the barrette goes in, she pulls it out. Even though it looks painful the way she yanks them off her head, it doesn't stop her.

Where do we go from here? I'm thinking hair gel. Or maybe duct tape.

Listening To: 77 days by Kemuri

Friday, November 6, 2009

COMIC - Fellowship of the Dad

It's sort of like the Fellowship of the Ring but without all that homosexual tension between Frodo and Sam.

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Listening To: Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth

Thursday, November 5, 2009

COMIC - Hair Styles

To understand today's comic, you'll need comprehensive knowledge of current pop culture. If you don't get it, go do some research.

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I apologize to anyone offended by my use of Hitler. Also, I apologize to any geniuses, emo kids, greasers, and/or fans of the Addams Family that I might have offended.

Listening To: Potatoes and Melons... by Snuff

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Joy of Joys

Today is a fabulous day and I'll tell you why.

Today my daughter, Baby J, picked up a drumstick, crawled to a drum, and started playing all on her own. I gave her the second drumstick and she took it with her other hand. She pounded, she banged, she crawled away, came back, and did it all again.

Her musical career has begun and I couldn't be happier with her choice of instrument.

Listening To: Hang Ups by Goldfinger

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Science of Play

I like to define play as the way I see Baby J exploring things she find in her meanderings. If she encounters a toy that interests her, she'll run a series of experiments on it and evaluate the results. She'll mouth it, yell at it, turn it over in her hand, throw it, and then move on to something else. And she does this with pretty much everything. It seems to me that Baby J is in a constant state of low tech scientific exploration.

I'm pretty sure all kids do this. Play is universal after all and kids have been doing it for as long as there have been kids. What I find so interesting is that kids get into these scientific micro-explorations all by themselves. No one has to teach them how to do it.

Could it be that science is a primary human faculty? Coming before language acquisition, before numerical reasoning. Could you make the case that all of our understanding is based on these little experiments we run as children?

Monday, November 2, 2009


We're opening a 529 savings account for Baby J so that she might someday matriculate into the college of her choice. And,t he whole process of pooling our money, researching funds, and asking others to pitch in has highlighted for me just how difficult it is to pay for higher education. And, how utterly out of reach it can be to some people.

Baby J is lucky to be born into a family that can provide these things for her. But what about all those other babies who are not quite as fortunate, who have families that can't afford to save during these tough times? What are they supposed to do?

My college education was very expensive and largely unimportant compared to the on-the-job training that has made me good at what I do now. The graduate degree which I am required to pursue costs more still and, though I have not completed the program yet, I can tell you it will not be worth the debt we're amassing. It's not worth the $150 textbooks. It's not worth the time and energy.

So why is it all prerequisite to finding/keeping a decent job?

I'm pretty sure the answer to this complex issue can be summed up like this: higher education is a racket. Universities suck up money and transform it into hot air. Students get a slip of paper and a lot of debt instead of real-world experience that would really help them in their careers. Meanwhile, kids who can't afford the sanctimonious blessing the universities enter the workforce with limited options. Kids from working class families become part of the working class. Kids from middle class families enter the middle class. Kids from affluent families end up being affluent.

Universities do little but enforce the strict stratification of our society.

I'd like to feel good about saving up for my daughter's college education but, ultimately, it's just really depressing. It feels to me that we're saving today to buy Baby J a spot in the middle class tomorrow. It just doesn't seem right. It feels out of synch with the way things should be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

COMIC - Playgroup Problems

A good group is hard to find.

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Listening To: A Poet's Life by Tim Armstrong