Tuesday, August 31, 2010

***The Final Post***

It's the end of the line for Dawn of the Dad. I've done 365 posts (one a day for a year) and my time as a stay at home dad is almost up. Tomorrow, I return to work as a teacher. The kids come in and the school year begins in earnest.

This last blog entry will sit atop all the other for all eternity. So to put a little cap on experience of blogging about my daily life there are a few things I want to do.

Explanation of this Blog

If you are perhaps a first-time visitor, here's a little backstory...

I took the last year off from working as a middle school teacher to stay at home with my daughter (referred to in this blog as Baby J). I began this blog so that family members who live far away could keep tabs on us and so I could keep a running record of my experience. I figured it would be cool to look back on it someday, to offer it to Baby J when she's old enough.

Dawn of the Dad also became a place where I could think out loud (or type out my thoughts out loud...whatever, you know what I mean). This process of reflecting and ranting and posting has given me valuable insights into the nature of family, fatherhood, and child-rearing. Over the course of the year, there have been some "valuable insights" which have developed into what you might call Super Mega Reflections, big ideas or perhaps major themes that involve parenting. Here they are...

Super Mega Reflections
  • Public libraries are the greatest thing on Earth. There is no doubt about it, libraries were what got us through this year. They have space, programs, and toys designed for little kids. They have a limitless supply of information and entertainment right there for you and your family. They want nothing more than for you to take from them all you can carry. And it's all for free. When you really sit and think about it, libraries are just amazing.
  • The parent who parents less parents best. I'm not advocating lassiez faire, total hands-off parenting. Keep your kids safe, of course. But, let them learn to fall and get up on their own. Let them learn to make decisions, screw things up, and then set them right again. Let them figure things out on their own. Someday you won't be around anymore and your kids will have to get along without you. Help prepare them for independence right from the very start.
  • When you care for a child, you must also care for yourself. Otherwise you will both suffer. Do what it takes to keep yourself healthy and sane. Sleep, eat, exercise, socialize with other adults. Whatever it takes. If you aren't a whole person, you cannot give of yourself in the way that children need you to.
  • Comparing children to one another is an ugly affair. Parents who measure their child against someone else's are really just exposing their insecurities and anxieties. I give you my solemn promise - your child will grow up to be big and strong and smart and happy. If not, your pediatrician will point out the red flags way ahead of time. So relax and find something else to talk about with other parents. I really don't care how many teeth your kid has.
Comment Policy

People seemed to enjoy making the occasional comment on my blog. And as much I appreciated the interaction, I'm afraid I will have to shut all that down now. The problem is that spammers love to post links to pornographic websites in the comments section. And for some weird reason, it's always in Chinese. So because of these Chinese spammers, as of September 1st, comments will no longer be a feature available on this blog. One feature that will be available, however, is a tidy, little table of contents.

Table of Contents
  • Firsts - This here is a list of all the milestones Baby J reached. First steps, first words, etc. Very useful if you are a Baby J historian.
  • Comics - When Dawn of the Dad first got started, I did a comic pretty much every other day. Though I couldn't keep up that pace, all told, I posted about 50.
  • Music - To celebrate milestones and to add a bit of variety to the blog, I posted about ten songs I'd written over the course of the year.
So there you have it. It's been a hoot. I hope you enjoy my musings.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Frustration

Baby J seems to have a low frustration threshold these days. If she can't complete some task quickly enough or make herself understood, she moans and growls and does this strange, fake cry. I think it's because she's at the point where she can communicate a bit verbally and knows how to get her message across. But when words fail her, she goes straight to angry grunts for almost anything. She sounds like a little cave-baby.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Biting

Baby J is going through a biting phase. At least I hope it's a phase.

At school she's been chomping down on her friends left and right. My wife is scared she's going to get kicked out of school but they don't seem too worried about it there. Especially since Baby J only seems to bite in an affectionate way. It's only when her friends are giving her a hug or she's playing nicely with someone. Never out of frustration or anger.

Either way, I'll be happy when this phase is over.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Got Poo

Today, Baby J reached another milestone - an awareness of poopy.

She was playing with some toys when suddenly she stopped and came over to me. She was babbling on about something but I didn't quite understand. But then, quite clearly, she said, "got poo."

A quick sniff confirmed it and I whisked her off to be changed. I really didn't think much of it. But when I told my wife, she got really excited - giddy even! After that, I thought about it a bit and realized that this is the first step towards potty training, towards doo doo independence, and, most importantly, the end of me having to change poopy diapers.

That is certainly something to be giddy about.

p.s. The spell-checker on my computer put a little, wavy, red line under every reference to poop in this post. Apparently, the folks who programmed my computer did not feel it is important to put potty talk in the computer, they consider it all to be misspelled. Why is that? The more graphic, four-letter word for it passes muster but not "doo doo." Strange.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Paycheck

I got my first paycheck today. I'm making money again!

We've officially made landfall on this stay-at-home voyage. Even though we'd planned everything out well in advance, it's still hard to believe that we survived financially for almost two years with a single wage-earner.

When I look back at my time as a stay-at-home dad, I don't much think of the lean living. I don't think about the student loans I've amassed. I don't think about the wage earning potential I gave up. At this moment, now that I fully realize my stint as a stay-at-home dad is ending, I feel only a tremendous sense of accomplishment, I feel really proud that my family and I made a goal, stuck to our plan, and made it out the other side. In these tough economic times and in a way that most families don't operate, we followed made a decision, stuck to our guns, and it's really something to be proud of.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Listening To

Over the course of the year, I kept a running record of the music I was listening to while I wrote. Part of the reason I did this was to make recommendations to anyone who happened to be visiting Dawn of the Dad. But I've been keeping track of my musical meanderings for my own benefit too. For some reason, I feel like this will be important to me someday.

So, for your benefit and mine, here's an excel spreadsheet of all the Dawn of the Dad albums complete with comments from yours truly. Yes, it took me a long to do but I think you're worth it.

And if you want some more musical recommendations, here's an online list of 1001 albums you must hear before you die.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Only Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

A thought has been bouncing around my brain recently: we only accept the love we think we deserve. I think I read that somewhere. Maybe a fortune cookie. Maybe on a bathroom wall. I can't remember. Either way, I think it's a pretty profound statement.

I'm not going to comment too much on this little snippet of wisdom. It's probably better if it infects your brain the way it did mine. I just wanted to ruminate a bit on where our concept of self-worth comes from. Is there a preset, innate sense of self-esteem for each person? Is it something taught to us by our friends and family? Is it both? How is it that we decide how much we're worth?

Psychologists have probably written scores of books on this subject. I should probably check a few of them out of the library. After all, I want to make sure that Baby J grows up feeling good about herself and worthy of love.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Accumulation

Baby J acquires things over the course of a day so that, when it comes time for bed, we have to disinter her from her collection. For example...

Yesterday, my wife bought her a toy stroller. She, of course, needed a passenger - her teddy bear, Timmy. Then, she decided she wanted to put on a pair of my wife's shorts but they were a bit too big to stay up around her waist. I improvised and used a tutu to hold them up like a belt. Then she found my wife's cardigan and demanded that she wear that too. She spent the final part of the evening walking around like some bag lady, pushing her cart and ambling around in cast off clothing.

At the end of the day, when I went to give her a bath, I had to take all this away from her and more!

I wonder if, when she grows up, she'll be a hoarder.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BBQ

I'm not on Facebook or any other social networking site so I don't really keep track of old friends via the internet. I try to keep up correspondence through emails and phone calls instead but it's a sad fact that some folks slip away as the years go by.

So when one of my friends said she wanted to get all our old pals together and do a BBQ, I thought it was a great idea. The date was set, the location picked, and all old friends tracked down. My family and I are driving out to see everyone over Labor Day and I'm really looking forward to it.

One of the coolest things about this BBQ is that everyone is bringing their kids with them. In the past few years, we've all been busy siring offspring and now they're all at the age where they can interact and meet each other. For some reason, I just think that's the cat's pajamas. I can't wait for Baby J to meet the other babies. I doubt she'll see anything really significant about it but for me it'll really be something special.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

FIRSTS: Sentence

Baby J's first complete sentence is:
"Where did it go?"
She said it the other day in the tub when the water drained out.

As far as first sentences go, this one is quite a doozy. I mean, how do you answer that? How do you explain that water is made of individual molecules that, by going down the drain, eventually rejoin the water cycle?

It's probably enough to just say it went down the drain but I try to give Baby J accurate information.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Daycare Update

In case you were wondering, Baby J has been adjusting well to daycare. She can nap there. She eats there. She has fun. She makes friends (she attacks some of them from time to time - we're still working on "nice touch"). She has no problem acclimating when we drop her off in the morning and comes home at the end of the day happy.

So far so good.

P.S. Only ten posts left until 365!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bard and Descendant Duties

My recent explorations into the works of Shakespeare has led me to take another look at Hamlet.



Hamlet has been fenced in by centuries of scholarly analysis so everything I say in this post is probably already out there somewhere. I doubt there's really anything new that can be said about Hamlet. But here's my take on it anyway.

Now that I'm dad, I see everything in a new way. The interactions of Hamlet and his family now makes me wonder how much we owe our families? Do we as parents ask too much of our children? Are we in some way bound to honor each others requests just because we are family? Is it our duty to oblige those we are descended from?

All of Hamlet's problems come to him because his family members make demands of him. He's basically just a solipsistic college kid who has grim responsibilities heaped on him until he buckles up the strain. I see that as the tragedy of the play. This young guy never gets a chance to live his life, never gets to fall in love because of his father's angry spirit, his uncle's murderous intrigues, and his mother's weird Oedipal thingamajiggy.

Of course, it's just a play, an expressionistic rendering of reality. But still, the plot of Hamlet could read as a cautionary tale for parents. It says don't place your burdens on your children no matter how pissed off you are. It says don't make unreasonable requests of your kids. Otherwise, you and your whole family end up stabbed and/or poisoned!

Listening To: Pacer by The Amps

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to Work

Today is the first day that I return to work in an official capacity. I thought I would have some grand realizations or insightful reflections about my time off and my return to work but I don't.

Well, maybe this one: Getting up really early sucks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sick in Six Hours

I knew Baby J would get sick more frequently when she entered daycare - the doctor said an average of once every three weeks! - but our little lady was in daycare all of six hours when she came home with a runny nose and some crazy stuff going on in her diaper.

But we have to build up that immunity before she enters Kindergarten, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Napocolypse

Yesterday, Baby J went down for her nap after coming home from daycare. Usually, she falls right to sleep for her nap but on this day she had a dirty diaper which kept her up. Apparently, she didn't much like sitting there in this dirty diaper and took matters into her own hands. Baby J unzipped her sleepsack, stripped off her poopy diaper, threw it across the room, and then fell asleep.

When she woke up she was cranky, uncomfortable, and flecked with poop from her less than surgical removal of the offending diaper. She went straight into the bath.

Usually cheery in the tub, Baby J was most upset this time, crying profusely. Afterwards, she looked so pathetic, teary eyed, dripping wet, and shivering. My wife offered her a hug which she gladly accepted. And to show just how appreciative she was of this hug, Baby J then peed all over the bathroom floor. She went straight back into the tub for scrub down.

I cleaned the floor.

All in all, this nap and the bath immediately after was a fiasco. But the worst part of it all was that, just as everything was reaching a fever pitch, our friends dropped by fir a visit. These young lovers are soon to be wed and don't have any kids yet. And I'm sure this napocolypse made an impression on them. We may have just changed their mind about having kids altogether.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Dori

If you've ever seen Finding Nemo, then you're familiar with the bubbly, blue fish Dori played by Ellen Degeneress.



Dori has some sort of fishie, short-term memory loss which leads to all sort of comical interactions. Over the course of the movie, she manages to overcome her disability and memorizes a single, vital piece of information, the address where the eponymous character Nemo is being held captive.

P. Sherman
42 Wallaby Way
Sydney

Dori is so delighted that she can memorize this address that she says it again and again and again.

The other day, on the way to daycare, Baby J began reciting the list of words she knew in a loop and my wife remarked how much she sounded like Dori from Finding Nemo. I thought it was very funny and pretty accurate and I told her I would post it on my blog.



Sunday, August 15, 2010

End of the Poo Poo Palace

We've moved some things around our house. Bookshelves, tables, etc. As a result, Baby J's Poo Poo Palace, the place where she once went to play and produce a full diaper, has been dismantled.

I'm sad to see it go for a number of reasons. First of all, it was the only enclosed, self-contained area in the house where we could safely leave the baby and steal a few moments to sneak off to the bathroom. But even more than that, I'm sad to see the Poo Poo Palace gone because Baby J no longer has her own quiet corner in our home. The Poo Poo Palace was her own private property where there was no chance of injury, no one bothered her, she had all she needed, and got a little space to herself. We all need a little place to go and chill out by ourselves. Baby J probably doesn't care one way or the other but, for some reason, I do. Probably because I wouldn't mind having a little Poo Poo Palace of my own. Oh, wait a second...


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gray Area

I write a lot about Baby J's firsts but really there usually isn't a single first instance of anything. Not for walking, not for words, not for the first day of school. Everything involved with a child's growth and development seems to be a gradual transition. There is no sudden walking, no sudden words, etc. No stark black and white. At least not for Baby J. For her, everything blends from one stage to another in a large swath of gray. I'm guessing it's like this at every moment in a child's life. Even in utero.

Friday, August 13, 2010

School Daze

Today we began a process that probably won't finish up for another two decades. Today is the day Baby J went off to school all by herself.

We dropped her off with the staff and the other kids and then walked back up the hill thinking wistfully of our little love in the care of strangers. It was sad and sweet but we didn't really have much time to dwell on it. Our neighbor almost ran us over in her SUV and the whole fight or flight reflex kicked in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Personality Study

Today's post is a link to a recent study that suggests people develop their personalities in childhood and that they do not change much at all through adulthood. That's good new for Baby J since she's got such a delightful disposition. I just hope she gets over the whole violent streak she's got. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bard and the Universality of Young Love

I have strange and sporadic areas of interest. Sometimes it's science, sometimes it's history. Some times it's science, sometimes it's mathematics. Right now, its Shakespeare.



I've been listening to recorded lectures on him, watching productions of his plays, reading his sonnets. One of the goals of my exploration is to find out why Romeo and Juliet has such universal appeal and why it has endured as one of his most popular plays despite being written some 400 years ago.

I'm not academic so I can't give any sort of elaborate dissertation on the subject but I think it has something to do with young love and the universality of that deliriously dizzying feeling. Everyone falls in love when they are young and, sadly, pretty much every one of those small, sweet romances is doomed from the very start. Folks remember these early affairs fondly and somewhere (in the back of the back of the back of their minds) can still feel the smart of the breakup. I think it is these memories of young love and love lost which give Romeo and Juliet it's universal appeal.

Anyway, what's all this have to do with Baby J and being a father? Well, Baby J is not going to be a baby forever. She will become Teenager J and then Adult J and then Senior Citizen J at some point. And somewhere during those transitions she is likely to encounter young love and her first heartbreak. From my vantage point as an adult, I romanticize the past. I see all that as being very sweet and charming. But she might not feel the same way as she's going through it.

Who knows? It may be sweet and charming for her or it may be bruising and bewildering. Either way, I'm pretty much certain that it is a universal occurrence and when she comes out on the other end she will, at the very least, be able to appreciate Shakespeare a bit more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nice to Meet You or I Will Destroy Your Face

I don't know what it is but for some reason, whenever Baby J meets another child, she tries to scratch out their eyes.

Today at the mall. Yesterday at the library. At playgroup. At birthday parties. At the pool. She runs up to other kids and goes straight for the face. Needless to say, I'm a little concerned about this sort of anti-social behavior.

However, I'm beginning to suspect that this is just the way she introduces herself to other children. Like adults shake hands, Baby J shakes faces.

Or maybe I'm just making up excuses for my child's homicidal mania.

Listening To: Led Zeppelin 1 by Led Zeppelin


Monday, August 9, 2010

Moonlight Serenade

Last night, around 2:00 a.m., I awoke to hear Baby J singing from her room down the hall.
Keeyah, keeyah,
Uh dah dah de uh dah dah
Translation:
Clean up, clean up
Everybody, Everywhere...
You might know this little ditty. We sing it to the baby whenever we're helping her to put her toys away. Why she was singing it at two in the morning, I'll never know. But if something's going to wake me in the middle of the night, I guess I'd prefer a singing baby over something else.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

McDonald's

The other day I saw a young mother feeding her toddler a cheeseburger from McDonald's.

When I was a kid, I used to love McDonald's. Going there was a real treat for me. But the older I got, the less appealing McDonald's was to me until finally I came to find it repulsive. But I'll always remember how cool it was as a kid.

Since I'm making the decisions about food for Baby J, she's never had McDonald's. And as long as I'm making the decisions about food, she probably never will. It's not that Im trying to shield her from gross, unhealthy food. It's just that I find it unappetizing so I why would I take my kid there.

But I know from being a kid once myself, raising a kid of my own, and teaching kids as part of my job, such behaviors of avoidance can create a sort of desirable forbidden fruit for kids. The more I shy away from McDonald's, the more Baby J will be interested in it. I guess at some point I'll have to take her there and give let her order what she wants. Otherwise, she'll probably grow up and go binge on Big Macs. Besides, McDonald's is just cool to kids.

And I have to admit, they make a good shamrock shake.



Saturday, August 7, 2010

Accessorize!

Baby J frequently goes into our closet and puts on one of my wife's shoes. Just one. Never two. If we try to take this one shoe away from her, she cries and moans and throws a fit.



Recently, she's discovered a pair of white gloves that she loves too. She needs help putting them on but once they're on, she hates to take them off.



Also, she's taken a shine to an old purse my wife doesn't use anymore.



And she's always had a thing for wearing my watch.



And two Livestrong bracelets we have.



Sometimes she puts them all on at once and stumbles around the house. She has zero fashion sense but she loves to accessorize. Maybe someday she'll be a trend-setting designer.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Sing, Sing, Sing, Sing

Baby J has been doing very well with learning how to communicate verbally. She has a large and diverse vocabulary at this point and is continually adding to it. But even more exciting than these new words are the new songs she's singing.

After months and months and months and months of singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to her, she's finally figuring out how to sing it on her own. Same with Are You Sleeping? and The Wheels on the Bus. She hasn't quite got them down yet - for example, the honk on the bus goes beep, beep, beep a little bit longer than it should - but she is definitely progressing with her repertoire and I couldn't be happier about it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kiss

Baby J is learning how to kiss and today I think she made her first official kiss. A proud mommy was the recipient.

You may be asking what constitutes an official kiss. Well, there are three parts.
  1. The kisser must first lean towards the kissee.
  2. The kisser must place his or her lips on the kissee.
  3. The kisser must make the appropriate kissy noise to ensure the transaction is complete.
And I'm proud to say that Baby J has mastered all three criteria.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bully Babe

There have been several instances where Baby J was the victim of other aggressive children. I've blogged about it several times in the past. However, the tables have been turning and my beloved little angel has now become the perpetrator of violent acts on others. She has become a Bully Babe!

Today at playgroup, she ran over to one of her friends and clawed her face in a grisly attack. She whacked another kid in the head. She scratched my arm quite deliberately when I was getting her out of the car seat this morning.

I'm pretty sure this is just a developmental thing and that my job her is to discourage these violent tendencies as best I can. For a long time, she's been beating up on the cat and we've been practicing "nice touch." And I think we've started to see some progress with "nice touch" and the kitties. Now we just have to get it to generalize to all other living things.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home Stretch

Alright! I'll admit it. I'm running out of gas with this blog. It's August now and my stint as a stay-at-home dad is in its final few weeks. I've been blogging for a year about the profound and the mundane. My world has been babies and bottles and binkies and boo boos and, now that I'm starting to return to the world of adults, it's hard to keep my focus on documenting the lives and times of a toddler.

So my posts have been less than stellar, the regularity with which I post diminished somewhat. But I committed to a year as a stay-at-home dad and I committed to a year of blogging and I will complete them both. There will be no Heartbreak Hill for Dawn of the Dad.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wedding

As mentioned in a previous post, Baby J was the flower girl in a wedding over the weekend. It was cute. We drove back this weekend. That's why I didn't post yesterday.

I have nothing further at this time.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flower Girl

My wife's brother is getting married today and he's asked for Baby J to be the flower girl in the service. We have a fancy dress for her and some nice shoes but no flowers. My wife assures me that we don't need flowers for her. But, to me, a flower girl without flowers is just a regular girl.

The three of us will walk down the aisle together holding hands. This doesn't sit right with me either. I think a flower girl should have at least one hand free to hold flowers. Again my wife assures me that this is not really an issue and she's probably right. I'm being too literal. A flower girl is just there for "cuteness relief" in the same way funny scenes are stitched into films for comic relief. Really, having a toddler around is like having cuteness on tap. All we have to do is give her a poofy dress and let the cuteness flow from that.

Friday, July 30, 2010

American Teen

American Teen is a documentary which chronicles the senior year of five high school students in small town Indiana. And it is intense!



There is so much tension and confusion and drama and solipsism ad betrayal, I can't believe kids regularly make it through high school without sever emotional scarring. I can't believe that I did it. And, more than anything else, I can't believe Baby J will one day have to run this gauntlet of teenage tempestuousness. As a father, it's a scary thought.

A major theme in the film that I picked up on was how the cruel and misdirected anger of teens is often the direct result of the kids' parents, their attitudes and behaviors. When Baby J is a teenager, she'll have to negotiate the troubled waters of high school but I like to think that my wife and I, our attitudes and behaviors set the stage for effective problem solving. But who knows. As Kahlil Gibran puts it in The Prophet:
You may house [you children's] bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
Listening To: Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Venn Diagram

The other day, my little family was out at a coffee shop when we ran into two former students of mine. We all sat together talking for a while and one of them remarked that Baby J is a perfect mix of both her mother and father. Baby J at the moment was seated directly between us and it was even said that the three of us looked like a perfect Venn diagram.

I thought that was very clever. Also, I was glad that some of my former students are still using the proper graphic organizers for comparing and contrasting.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Big Tub

There are many milestones in a person's life, some full of importance and some utterly insignificant. I'm not sure where Baby J's graduation to the big tub fits in on this spectrum.

For as long as humanly possible, we washed our baby in a small plastic tub intended for newborns. But Baby J has outgrown it and we had to move her into the real tub. She has been more or less fine with the transition but we're still trying to come to grips with it. It's usually a mess with crying, spilled water, and soap in the eyes.

I guess this is a pretty unremarkable change in our daughter's life and will get easier the more we give her a bath. But it's a milestone nonetheless. A wet, soapy, slippery, tear-filled milestone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pickin' Fights with a Baby

At the library, a little boy about 5 years old walked over to Baby J and started shaking a cool, red, plastic toy car back and forth to get her attention. Once she took notice of the car, he lifted it high over his head so she couldn't reach and then smiled as she stretched her hands upward and moaned.

It was a cruel gesture but not all that uncommon in young kids. I interceded to cut off any sort of meltdown that might ensue. The little boy looked at me and told me my baby was sad. I said she was and moved her away. A few moments later, the boy with the red car came back and did his little routine again. Baby J once again was left reaching and moaning.

This kid was clearly out to pick a fight with my baby and eventually she did hit him. To this he said, "she can't knock me down because I'm too big." I agreed and took Baby J up into my arms. We found another part of the library where there were no bullies to tease my baby but I was left to ponder why this little boy was trying to piss off Baby J. I guess it's some sort of developmental thing where he was just trying to exercise power over someone else. I'm sure Baby J will do it when she's older. I'm pretty sure I did it when I was a wee tot as well. Perhaps it's just human nature to pick fights.

I got into a lot of fights when I was a kid. Unlike the boy with the red car, however, I didn't have enough sense to pick these fights with babies. I would have won a lot more fights that way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Love Moo

Baby J is picking up new words like crazy. It seems she parrots back everything and anything you might say throughout the course of the day. But not always appropriately.

Today on a visit to a local farm she learned "chicken" and "cow" and "moo." On the ride home, my wife twisted in her seat to look back at the baby and said, "I love you." Baby J gave it some thought, ran through the list of new words in her head and replied: "Cow?"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Play Hut

A long time ago, we took some stuff to a Goodwill donation station. While we were there a kindly man offered us a folded up contraption that he assured us was a plaything for children. It sat in our basement for I don't even know how long. But my wife finally brought it up and opened it and unfolded it and put it all together and, as it turns out, it is a Play Hut.



We filled our new/old Play Hut with two bags of plastic balls like you find at the McDonald's playland so it's even cooler than before. The whole package is almost too much for Baby J to bear. When she plays in it she is unhinged, delirious with delight, crazed with glee.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Budgeting

When we first decided that I should take this year off to stay home with Baby J, we sat down to look at our finances to see if we could make it happen. We found a way to do it but only if we used several cost-cutting measures along the way. Well, we are nearing the end of this year long adventure in austere living and I'm happy to say that we're coming out on the other end okay. In just about one month, I'll start work again and start getting steady paychecks again. I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch but I feel a real sense of accomplishment now that we've nearly finished this year.

Of course, pretty soon Baby J will be in daycare and that will eat up a lot of money. Also, I'll have to start paying my student loans in the near future and that's going to be a sizable sum each month. And then I'll need new clothes for work. And my car needs work. And my cat is a diabetic so he gets expensive food and medicine. And there's college savings, retirement, and future babies to consider.

Dang! I guess I'll have to wait a little while more before I buy myself a hovercraft.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FIRSTS: School

Baby J spent the morning at her new daycare facility on Wednesday morning. I'm calling this her first day in school though she didn't really spend the whole day there and it might be a stretch to call it school.

We're going to start transitioning her into the daycare environment throughout the month of August with half days and half weeks leading into full days and full weeks. I'm sure she'll be fine with it since she's a pretty easy-going baby. The new arrangement will probably be harder on us, her parents. I bet I'll suffer longer than she will.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mr. Mom v. Little Children

Occasionally, when people find out that I am a stay-at-home dad, they ask if my life is anything like the 1983 film Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. I had never seen the film before so I couldn't really say one way or the other. But so many people have been asking me about it and for so long that I figured maybe it was time to watch Mr. Mom.


I finally got around to watching it this weekend and now I can say for certain that my experience as a stay at home dad is nothing like the way it is portrayed on film. There are some scenes in Mr. Mom I could identify with but really the film had very little to do with being a stay-at-home dad.

The film that most closely resembles my experiences as a stay-at-home dad is Little Children from 2006. There are some difference between me and the stay-at-home character in the film (i.e. no adultery, no child molesters, no crazed ex-cops, etc.) but, all in all, I would say Little Children is a more accurate and honest portrayal than Mr. Mom.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FIRSTS: Shoplifting

At the mall today, Baby J ran into a CVS and grabbed a pair of sunglasses off a rack near the entrance. She quickly slid them on and then left the store so casually it looked as if the whole operation had been premeditated. Of course, I snatched her up before she could get too far and returned the stolen sunglasses to the rack. But still I consider this act to be Baby J's first criminal offense.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Wisdom of Chris Rock

Chris Rock has long been one of my favorite entertainers. But I'm learning to appreciate him even more now that I'm a dad. I'm realizing that he has a lot of funny and insightful things to say about fatherhood and raising daughters. Take this for example:
"Sometimes I am walking with my daughter, I'm talking to my daughter, I'm looking at her, I'm pushing her in the stroller. And sometimes I pick her up and I just stare at her and I realize my only job in life is to keep her off the [stripper] pole...I mean they don't grade fathers but if your daughter is a stripper you f*&$#@ up."
If this is the only measure of a father you use, I guess I'm doing okay so far.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Return to Man World

I spent this last weekend in Montreal at an extended 2 day bachelor party extravaganza. Naturally, I didn't have time to post while I was in the thick of things but even amongst the thrum of club music and the money-sucking debauchery of the bars, I was able to reflect my role as a stay-at-home dad.

Since I took this year off to stay at home with the baby, I've spent a lot of time with mothers. At playgroups, playgrounds, etc. They are there when I let Baby J wander the mall. They have been my only conversation at the libraries. Basically, my year off has been a year bereft of men. The bachelor party was a sudden plunge back into man world. I haven't been there for a long time but not much has changed since I've been gone. It's still the same. There was a lot of talk about baseball. Moms don't usually care about that stuff. I found it refreshing to talk with other adults who care more about RBI's and ERA's than about how many teeth my kid has or how much she poops during any given day.

Soon I will return to work and soon I will have a few more guys to talk with on a regular basis. Someday soon I will return to man world once more. For right now though, I'm just happy to be home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Away

I've gone away for a little trip this weekend and won't really be able to post much. I will just double up when I return home. I hope you aren't too disappointed. Here's a joke to make you feel better.

Q. What can hummingbirds do that no other animal in the world can do?
A. Make baby hummingbirds.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This

Baby J knows lots of words and asks for things by name. Apple, glasses, bear, etc. However, when she doesn't know the word for something, she will point with her finger and say "this."
This? This? This? This? This?
Everything is "this." I think it comes from the way we offer things to her. Generally speaking, we'll holding something up and ask if she wants "this." I think she's taken "this" to be the word used for just about everything.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Perpetual Motion

Baby J never stops moving. Unless she is asleep, she is always doing something, running somewhere, wriggling, dancing, swaying, or stumbling. I've really never seen anything like it. It's like she is physically incapable of staying still for even a moment. Maybe she has baby ADHD.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And Eyes and Ears and Mouth and Nose...

Thanks to the delightful little tune Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes, Baby J can now name several of her body parts. What's more, she can name your body parts too. Every now and then, she'll walk up to you, point to your feet, and announces that you have toes. Or something along those lines. It's all very cute. However, it's not so cute when she points your eyes out to you. Or your ears or your mouth. When this happens, she invariably jams her little fingers into whatever orifice she wants to name for you. The worst is the eye gouge.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Disappointment

Last week, during a big family get together, I sat down with my parents to record a sort of family history for Baby J. My wife and I did the same thing with her parents a while ago and it came out being really nice. With my family, however, it wasn't so nice.

I didn't find out too much about my family history but I learned a lot about my family's dynamics. Mainly, I found that there is tension, disappointment, and resentment all over the place. I probably won't show any of the video recording to Baby J but it was kind of interesting to me. After giving this new family video some thought, I think I stumbled onto a big idea or a universal theme, a common thread, an epiphany of sorts.

When you're a kid, your parents are infallible, omnipotent, and altogether perfect. They are the biggest, smartest, fastest, strongest people in the world. But, as you get older, you start to realize that they're just ordinary people like everybody else. They have virtues and vices, strengths and weaknesses, prejudices and biases. And I think when children realize this, they can't help but feel disappointed.

And, this disappointment isn't necessarily limited to the child/parent relationship. I think brothers get disappointed with uncles. Mothers get disappointed with cousins. Fathers get disappointed with grandmothers. It goes every which way on the family tree. Everyone wants to have a perfect family but, at the end of the day, families are made up of people, flawed, imperfect, average, everyday, ordinary people.

Now, this all may sound rather dark but I don't see it that way. It's only dark if you focus on that disappointment forever. If you can move beyond it, find a way to accept the flaws of your family members, perhaps even learn to see their shortcomings as endearing quirks, it leads to positive relationships, it leads to empathy, and, above all, it leads to understanding. Learning acceptance is not an easy endeavor by any stretch of the imagination but I think it's worth the effort.

I know someday Baby J will realize that I'm not the strongest, tallest, smartest, or fastest dad out there. When she's older perhaps she'll even pick up on my many neuroses and pathologies. But, hopefully, we'll be able to teach her to be empathic, not judgmental, to focus on the good things in life. I love my family, warts and all, and, hopefully, Baby J will too someday. You get lots of acquaintances in your lifetime, lots of well-wishers, and a handful of really good, close friends. But you only get one family and they have to last you your whole life. You can't spend that time wishing they were different people. Time has a habit of getting away from you. People get older and you only get a short while to enjoy the people close to you. Life's too short and time spent with family too valuable to be spent disappointed or angry.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Mama

Once upon a time, Baby J was unable to utter the word "mama." Everything and everyone was "dada" and it drove my wife crazy. "I wish you'd say 'mama,'" she bemoaned to our baby.

I think we chalked it up to the fact that I spend so much time with Baby J as a stay-at-home dad. But that was then. Now that Baby J has learned to say "mama," she hardly says anything else. When she's hurt, she calls for mama. When she's unhappy, only mama will do. It's like she forgot all about dada.

So to all you mamas out there, be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flight Home

The two flights back from Florida were much better than the two flights there. All told, my family flew on four different airplanes and by flight number four, the last leg of our airborne sojourn, we finally figured out how to keep baby happy.
  1. Avoid using car seats on the plane - Baby J was much happier when she could flop around between mom and dad.
  2. Get a big package of bite-sized crackers - Baby J took comfort in sticking her arm into our bag of snacks and eating them one by one.
  3. Sing songs - I sang "Skin-A-Merinky-Dinky-Dink" hundred times on the flight and, every time, Baby J smiled and tried to sing along. The other folks on the flight probably wanted to kill me but they can Skin-A-Merinky-Kiss-My-Butt for all I care.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Aquababy

Baby J has had a lot of time to splash around in the pool recently.

Usually, if you're holding her and she wants to move around on her own, she'll say "walk" and do this crazy nose-dive thing to get out of your arms.

Well, in the pool, she does the same thing totally missing the fact that if I let her walk in the pool she would be underwater.

Good thing we had a special, floating, inflatable duck to buoy her.


Friday, July 9, 2010

New Teeth

Just for the record, Baby J has a whole bunch of new teeth coming in. Pretty soon, she'll be ready for steak.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Flightmare

A word of advice to all of you out there who are thinking about flying with your toddler to visit grandma and grandpa: Don't do it. Stay home.

Our recent flight down to Florida was terrible. The baby cried constantly. When she had a dirty diaper, there was no decent changing area for her. It was cramped and uncomfortable for her. And she was not shy about letting us know it.

I guess, at the end of the day, things weren't too too bad. We got to where we were going with all our luggage intact and now we're living it up in the Sunshine State. But it the back of my mind, something is nagging at me, gnawing at my peace of mind:

We have to fly home this weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Music Appreciation

My wife likes to ask what my favorite part of Baby J's developmental has been so far. I'm very pleased that she enjoys books. I also like how she runs around squealing and snorting with delight sometimes. But I think more than anything else, I like the way Baby J is developing an appreciation for music.

She dances to music. She sings songs. She does hand motions. She'll scamper over to our piano, pull herself up, and start pressing the keys as if she really has a tune to play. She'll pluck at my guitar. She'll bang on a drum.

When you're a kid, everything is magical and new and full of fun. As you get older, things become less magical and the novelty of life kind of wears off. The only thing that has really retained its magicalness(?) for me as I've gotten older has been music. Playing it. Listening to it. Thinking about it. Talking about it. It's been a constant source of awe and inspiration for me throughout my life and I hope that it's the same with Baby J.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No! Part Two

I think we've been overusing the word "no" with Baby J.

Occasionally, while she's running around the house, she'll stop by one of the things she knows she's not allowed to touch:
  • The smelly diaper champ
  • An electric socket
  • The shelves holding my artwork
She'll point to the forbidden object and shout an emphatic "no" at us. I'm not sure if she's letting us know that she knows what's off-limits or if she's trying to tell us that we're not allowed to touch certain things in the house either. Maybe she's just mimicking us. Either way, despite the fact that it's cute as all get out, I think I want to stop using the word "no" so much around her. I don't want her to grow up and think adults just shout "no" at each other all day.

Come to think of it, we do shout "no" at each other a lot.


Monday, July 5, 2010

The Moral Life of Babies

Today's post is an article from The New York Times Magazine entitled The Moral Life of Babies. Click the link below to see the original article.
It's all about how human beings are preprogrammed with rudimentary morality. Pretty cool, eh?

Listening To: Time Capsule by Matthew Sweet


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

I'm not sure why but I've been getting a lot of books out of the library on American history recently. I always thought history was dull when I had to learn it in school. But now that I'm learning about it on my own, it's amazing!

Specifically, I'm interested in the Revolutionary War and the subsequent birth of America. What my studies have impressed upon me more than anything else is how important our leaders were in those early days of independence. If it weren't for them and their devotion to democratic principles, our nation would be totally different. We might have had a military dictator like France's Napoleon or a merciless autocrat like Russia's Stalin. But, thanks to the progressive, forward-thinking creators of the US Constitution, we have enjoyed a robust representative democracy since the very start.



Of course, this all goes back to parenting for me. How much independence do we grant our children? Are we despots or representatives for our families? Napoleons and Stalins or Adams and Jeffersons? Are we looking forward to the future where they will live or the future we'd like to create for them?



Saturday, July 3, 2010

Table Tot

Baby J has figured out how to climb things. She's known how to do stairs and chairs for a while now. But the other day, my wife went to the bathroom came back to find our intrepid daughter standing triumphantly on the kitchen table.


Baby J, Baby J
Climbed onto of a table today

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book?

We can tell Baby J is up for the morning when we hear small hooting and peeping noises coming from her room. One of us rolls out of bed and goes into her room to get her. When you open the door she looks up at you, smiles, rubs her eyes, and says, "book?"

Baby J loves books and it cracks me up that the first thing she thinks about each morning is reading. Not, "good morning," or "change my diaper." Just, "book?" The only thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is going back to sleep.

If you don't give Baby J a book right away she gets a little feisty on the changing table. But, if you give her one, it makes changing her a real challenge. Oh well. Just another quandary of child rearing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flying with Baby

In just a few days, we're flying to Florida to visit my family. Aunts, uncles, cousin, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, etc. It will be the first time we've taken the baby on a plane and we're all a flutter over how to do it.

One of my friends told me she brought a portable DVD player with her, put headphones on her little girl, and just kept her going with a steady stream of videos. I'm pretty sure this would not work for Baby J though. She has a habit of removing anything that is not tightly affixed to her body (i.e. headphones) and she does not handle personal electronics with the tender care they require.

I'm thinking we'll just mix a little bourbon into her juice and see what happens. I just hope she's not an angry drunk.

Listening To: How I Got Over by The Roots



p.s. I'm not really going to give my baby hard liquor. That was just a joke. Geez! You're so uptight!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Climbing Chairs

Baby J has mastered climbing onto chairs. She hasn't quite got the idea of getting herself down yet. And she doesn't quite get that chairs are for sitting, not standing.

The most impressive thing about the whole production is how she hoists herself up with her little arms. She's going to have huge biceps if she keeps at it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mealtime Mayhem

Once upon a time, Baby J would obligingly eat whatever you gave to her during mealtime. But now, she's developed so many weird quirks and preferences, meals have become an elaborate affair.

First of all, Baby J needs her own spoon. If she doesn't have her own spoon, she won't eat. It's not that she uses the spoon to feed herself. She just wants to hold it and play with it while you use your spoon and feed her.

Once she has possession of her very own spoon, she then proceeds to paint herself with food. Hands, face, arms, hair. It all gets a carefully applied coating of yogurt or applesauce.

Then, if she tires of the spoon, she requires Cheerios or some other finger food. She doesn't want to eat them, mind you. She just wants to dip them in her food and have you feed them to her on a spoon. I think she just wants a little more texture to her food.

Lastly, mealtime is not complete without heaving the milk onto the floor or pitching a spoon across the room.

When it's all said and done, the table looks like a crime scene rather.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Storage

Baby J has a play area we sectioned off with baby gates. To make it a bit more stimulating for her, we stuck a mirror in there between the gate a wall. There's a small gap between the mirror and the baby gate and Baby J loves to stuff things into this gap. I f you leave her a lone long enough, she'll stick book, toys, stuffed animals, clothes, and shoes in there until it's totally full. It's kind of like baby storage space or a baby bank.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Waiting for You

Whenever Baby J hears somebody pull up in front of our house or sees someone she knows through the window, she runs to the front door to wait for them. Usually, she stands right behind the door so you have to be careful when you come in. But when you come in she greets you and then wanders off. It's a cool little habit she's developed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Multitasking

Just the other day, I posted an entry about how Baby J can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Well, as usual, whenever I think I know my daughter, she proves me wrong.

This morning, she came up to me demanding I hand over my cell phone. "Hone, hone, hone." After she had it, she got onto a little scooter my parents bought for her, wheeled over to the piano, and started pressing down the keys.

So, not only can she talk on the phone and drive at the same time, she can play piano as well.

Friday, June 25, 2010

300th Post

Today's post is number 300! That means I have only 65 days left until I return to work.

The tradition here at Dawn of the Dad has been that I make a montage of comics set to a song I recorded. However, since I don't any new comics to post I'm just going to post a song. Hope you like it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Like the Little Mermaid

I'm really excited about today.

I just got Disney's The Princess and the Frog and I'm going to watch it this evening. As I've said before, I love Disney movies including all the ones about princesses (except Pocahontas - that movies is just pure schlock). This affinity for princess movies is something I've never really cared to admit in public because I think it makes me look like a sissy. But, truth be told, I like The Little Mermaid. In fact, I like it a lot. I would rather watch The Little Mermaid than the Super Bowl.

Under da sea!


Grrr...Me run fast!

I feel I can admit this freely now because I have a daughter and her presence in my life allows me to watch movies like The Little Mermaid without fear of being called a sissy. Now I can admit that I'm really excited to watch The Princess and the Frog.

In actuality, there are larger issues at work here, issues surrounding rigid culturally-defined gender stereotypes which warrant further discussion. But, for the time being, I'm going to forget about all that and enjoy my princess movie. Thanks, Baby J.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shoes

When I was a kid my father was adamant that my shoes be in my room when they weren't on my feet. They were not go be anywhere else in the house unless I was wearing them.

I thought this was just some strange eccentricity when I was growing up. Now that I'm a dad too, I see the light.

There are shoes all over my house. My shoes, my wife's shoes, the baby's shoes. I'm constantly slipping on slippers and flopping down over flip flops. It drives me crazy. I try to kick them into a pile or organize them on the stairs or even put them in the bedroom but it is a futile pursuit. My house is home to three shoe slobs.

It only seems to bother me. The wife and baby couldn't care less and I'm not sure why. I think maybe the whole shoes-in-your-room thing is just a dad quirk.

Or maybe I'm just turning into my dad.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One Thing at a Time

Baby J cannot deal with more than one thing at a time. I think it's developmental.

If she is holding my keys and I hand her my phone, she will either,
A.) Throw the keys, pick up the phone, and run around saying, "hone, hone, hone."
B.) Keep the keys, push away the phone, and say, "no, no, no."

or

C.) Drop the keys, push away the phone, go terrorize the cat.
She doesn't quite get that she can hold both the phone and the keys and harass the cat all at once. I'm not complaining or anything. I'm glad that she can only cause mischief in one modality at any given moment. I just thought it was an interesting observation and, by blogging about it, I preserve it for all posterity.

You're welcome, future generations.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What to do with Shredded Books

Baby J is not kind to her books. She loves them but I think perhaps a bit too much. She shows her affection with raging claws of fury and bouts of destruction.

As a result, we've accumulated a pile of half shredded, completely ripped, and utterly demolished books and I'm not sure what to do with them. They can't just litter the play area and I'd feel strange throwing them out. In 1812, German poet Heinrich Heine prophetically said, "where they burn books they will eventually burn people." It seems like a sin to dispose of a book. Maybe I should just put them out to pasture somewhere but that seems like littering.

Who would have thought that The Very Hungry Caterpillar could one day cause such a vexing moral dilemma?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and I'm taking the day off. I deserve a break.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is a Blog Anyway?

I've been thinking about blogs in general recently. Specifically, I've been wondering why people keep blogs. My wife, who keeps an ol' school secret journal, thinks there an element of exhibitionism in blogging. Maybe she's right. I'm not sure whether I keep this blog for myself or for other people.

In part, I keep this blog going to inform family members on Baby J's growth and development. Also, I like to think that maybe, Baby J will read it one day - perhaps when she's Teenager J or Adult J. So I guess I am blogging for other people, an audience.

On the other hand, maybe I just keep Dawn of the Dad going because I said I would and I hate when people don't finish what they've started. I also use these posts as a way to keep things straight in my memory. Furthermore, writing a post once a day helps me sharpen my writing. It's a way of limbering up linguistically. So I guess I am blogging for myself too.

All in all, I guess the act of blogging requires both exhibitionist and "inhibitionist" tendencies. It's a strange sort of self-centered sharing. Or a paradoxical, simultaneous give and take. Either way, I enjoy posting here and I hope you enjoy reading it, dear reader. In the end, I guess we're both making out okay in this arrangement.

Good work, team!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Meaning of Life

This has very little to do with parenting but...

I've never been one for philosophy and all the big questions that face humanity. But I'm reading an interesting book now called Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and I found a passage I thought was pretty cool.
Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment...'Life' does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life's tasks are also very real and concrete.
So for me, right now, the meaning of life has to do with raising a baby. When she takes a nap, my life takes on meaning when I draw or write or exercise.

Frankl's book is part memoir about his time in a concentration camp and part psychological treatise about humanity's need to find meaning in life even when their lives are reduced to an unbearable existence. My description sounds grim but the book offers a lot of hope and valuable insights.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Camel Belly

Baby J has a few memorable features. One is her unwieldy hair. The other is her big belly.

We feed Baby J pretty much whatever she wants - which is everything. She eats and eats and eats until we simply run out of food. I think she uses her belly like a camel's hump. It's a storage facility. At mealtime, I think she eats enough to fill herself up and then locks up the surplus in the food bank of her belly.

Maybe someday when she has to cross the Sahara this little belly will come in handy.



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Dad

At the end of the day, our house is a complete mess, strewn with books, stuffed animals, shoes, toys, and other assorted bric-a-brac.

Usually, I don't have much energy to clean up so I just start kicking everything into place. Sometimes, it's just a gentle nudge with my toe. Other times its a full-on penalty kick.

I usually make big piles of stuff in the corners and in front of the television but sometimes I shoot for a little bit more. You see, there's something satisfying about kicking Winnie the Pooh. He flies through the air in a graceful arc and does so with that peaceful, jolly smirk on his face. Sometimes, I take aim at a container of toys, a smallish tupperware bin, and send Pooh flying. Usually, I miss but, sometimes, Pooh hits his mark and it's strangely gratifying.

GOOOOAAAAAAAL!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last Day

Today is my last day as a solo stay-at-home dad. What thoughts and reflections do I have about this momentous occasion?

None.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pants

Yesterday, Baby J discovered that she can pull down her pants.

Quite out of nowhere, she squatted down and pull her pants down around her ankles right there in the kitchen. After pausing to look at her bare thighs, she looked up at me searching my face for explanation. I didn't know quite what to tell her.

She pulled them back up and then wandered off. I found her in the living room a short while pulling her pants down again. When mom came home for the day, Baby J greeted her at the door and then promptly showed off her new trick.

I'm waiting to see if she does it in public any time soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lay-Z-Babe

Baby J's car seat is like a miniature Lay-Z-Boy for babies.



It's padded. It's plush. It's soft and cushy.

All that sound very nice doesn't it? Well, imagine if this padded, plush, soft, cushy, seat was left to bake in the car all day. Then imagine you were strapped into it for a half hour or so unable to wriggle or readjust yourself.

Now that the weather is warmer, I find that whenever I take Baby J out of her car seat she's soaked in sweat and her hair is done up all wolfman-style.


Grrr...What's wrong with
wolfman-style hair?

I'm really not sure how to fix this. Maybe she'll just have to suffer through it and then appreciate how warm and plush her seat is in the winter. Maybe this balance will help her find some sort of equilibrium.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nappus Interuptus

Once upon a time, Baby J could sleep through anything. She was once like the princess Sleeping Beauty, able to sleep with a diaper full of doo doo. But now, it seems our princess cannot even stand the presence of a little pee.

Baby J's naps and bedtime have been all chopped up recently because she keeps pooping when she's lying in the crib. She doesn't cry or anything. She just sits in there and talks to herself in her own blend of baby language and hoots.

It may not seem like that big a deal but when you mess with sleep, you make babies cranky. And when babies are cranky, parents are irritable. When parents are irritable, they can't do their job as well as they should. When people can't do their jobs as well as they should, the stock market takes a tumble, oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico explode, the economy as a whole suffers.

A diaper full of dookie doesn't seem so funny now, does it?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Printer Dance

The other day, I was using our old, junky, ink-jet printer to print out some stuff for one of the classes I'm taking.



In case you've forgotten, these printers whir and sing and dance and crank out a strange rhythm whenever you use them.

Baby J heard this strange rhythm and started dancing to it like she dances to the songs we sing in playgroup. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Baby J's got so much sauce, she can get down to the sound of an ink-jet printer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gran Torino

As part of the Dawn of the Dad's continuing review of "Father Films," I'd like to submit for you consideration Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino.



If you haven't already seen this movie, I highly recommend it. The acting is not the best ever but the subject matter is universal. Fatherhood and family. And Clint Eastwood does a great job as the enraged codger, Walt Kowalski. This old man scowl alone should have earned him an Oscar.


Other "Father Film" Recommendations So Far:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Home Stretch

This week is a sort of home stretch for me. My wife will be all finished with teaching and school will let out for the summer by this time next week. Once she's off, my role as sole care-giver for Baby J during the work week is over.

Of course, I will still be a stay-at-home dad but I'll have a stay-at-home mom to help me out. And once that happens, I can concentrate on some of the other home stretches I have coming up, my grad school classes' home stretch and my current author/illustrator project's homestretch.



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Low Battery

Baby J has a few toys that make music and sing. They are all battery powered and they tear through double AA's hungrily. Just before they run out of juice though, there is a sort of death rattle they go through, a sort of last gasp.

For example, Baby J has one toy that say, "you're a star," every time you turn it on. But, when it's about to die, it just shouts out, "you're a star," randomly. She has another one that sings about driving pretty much out of nowhere. And despite the fact that toys operating on reduced power are generally slower and quieter than usual, these two toys defy all conventions and blare their parting words every half hour or so like some kind of air raid siren.


I've seen enough Chucky and Puppet Master movies to be genuinely freaked out when toys start doing things on their own. It's not cute like Toy Story. It's unnerving.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Scrape

Baby J fell down the other day and scraped her knee. It was a grisly little gash and resulted in a goodly sized trickle of blood. She didn't seem to be bothered by this wound though and she isn't too concerned about the big scab that's formed in its place either.

So not only is Baby J a bruiser, she's not scared of getting cut up.

I think one day she'll make a fine Ultimate Fighting contender.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Rules


I recently became aware of a book called The Rules. It's basically an instruction manual for a woman who wants to attract the man of her dreams. Apparently, when it was first published in the 90's, it was both very popular and very controversial. I imagine it was popular because everyone wants an easy-to-follow guide to finding an ideal mate. I imagine it was controversial because there is no such thing as an easy-to-follow guide to anything in life and anyone proporting to have written one is obviously a fake. Also, many of the "rules" were real headscratchers.
Rule #5: Don't Call Him & Rarely Return His Calls
Rule #12: Stop Dating Him if He Doesn't Buy You a Romantic Gift for Your Birthday or Valentine's Day
Rule #31: Don't Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist.
Incidentally, one of the book's authors separated from her husband after 16 years if marriage.

Now, why am I posting all this on a blog about parenting? Because there's no shortage of parenting self-help books out there and most of them make it seem like they've got the answer. But, like I said before, there is no easy-to-follow guide to life. It would be nice if there was but things just doesn't work that way. There's no quick fix to finding a soulmate, raising a child, losing weight, etc. All that stuff takes takes utter commitment, generous support, and plain, dumb luck.

At least that's my expert opinion.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nice Touch

Baby J and I have been working on her "nice touch." That's the touch she's supposed to use whenever she pets the cat or touches another baby.

So far, it hasn't been going well. She beats on the poor cat. She face-palms unsuspecting babies and knocks them to the floor. Today at playgroup, she put the smack down on a little boy totally out of the blue. She squealed with delight as she shoved him down. It's all in the name of fun and I don't think she's ever lashed out in anger. But fact remains: Baby J is a bruiser.

I'm not sure how to encourage "nice touch" other than to take her hand and gently pet the cat or nicely pat the baby. I guess she'll get it sooner or later, but, between now and then, I predict a wake of baby destruction.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Day Without Doze

Yesterdeay was very hectic for me and my little family. We spent a lot of time in the car. We attended a funeral. Then, we sat in a restaurant for a while. Then, we got back in the car and sat in traffic for a few hours.

All in all, Baby J did not get any sort of nap. It's the first time I can remember that she went the whole day without any down time. I thought she would be psychotic, but, as it turns out, even when sleep deprivd, Baby J is a delightful little person.

This bodes well for the plane trip we have to Florida coming up in about a month. Not only will she not get a nap, she'll have to sit the whole flight.

Jeffery?


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clark Kent/Superman

I hang out with Baby J all day. Then my wife comes home and I go off to my grad school classes or up to my studio. On the weekends, we switch off too. My wife will take the baby to the beach while I run errands or get some work done. I'll take Baby J to the library and let me wife have some time to herself.

Now, with mommy and daddy never to be seen in the same place at the same time, we've started wondering if Baby J is going to get a Clark Kent/Superman thing going on in her head.



I wonder which one I am. My wife wears glasses so I think she should be Clark Kent. Also, I have been known to wear a cape on occasion so Superman would be a natural fit.