Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Grandmother

I don't remember my great-grandmother. She died when I was super little. There's an old, black-and-white photograph of the two of us together somewhere. Me, a wee, pudgy thing in a diaper, and her, wrinkled and world-weary - probably also in a diaper. I'm sure it was a nice moment for my parents to see these two separate generations together for that split second in human history. Maybe it was nice for her too. I don't know.

Last night, my grandmother died. Her health and her mental capacity had been waning for quite some time now, but, last night, over the course of about a half-hour, she gave up the ghost and slipped away into an empty oblivion.

My grandmother was going to turn 90 this year. I was all pumped up to have Baby J meet her at her 90th birthday. I even had plans of taking a black-and-white photograph. I doubt either of them would have really known what was going on but I think it would have been nice for everyone else.

I wonder how much of my grandmother now lives on in Baby J or how much any of the distant relatives we never knew live on in us. Maybe when Baby J can handle it, I'll teach her some of my grandmother's Yiddish so the tradition can live on. Maybe she'll even use it someday without realizing how or why she knows it. Maybe all our ancestors affect us in just that way. My great-grandmother had a somewhat artistic inclination. I grew up playing with my G.I. Joe and He-Man figurines on tables decorated with her tile mosaics. Maybe that's why I picked up art as an avocation/vocation. Maybe it seeped in sideways while I defeated Skeletor and Cobra Commander.

Who knows what Baby J will get from her great-grandmother. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be great.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rapid Fire Questions

My wife has a tendency to ask me questions in quick succession.
How was your day? How is the baby? Did she eat a lot today? What's for dinner? Did you water the plants? Did you get the mail?
When she does this, I usually wait for a lull in the flow and then ask her which question she wants answered first. Or I'll say she can ask three questions before she hits a limit. Something to make the queries more manageable.

Well, like mother, like daughter.

Baby J has a habit of asking for everything all at once. Running through her entire lexicon in one rapid fire sequence.
Keys? Apple? Papa (grandpa)? Dada? Cracker? Ball? Up? Down? Shoes?
I never really know what she's getting at when she does this but usually I just give her a cracker and send her on her way. It satisfies her most of the time. Maybe I should try that with my wife.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Broke Dad's Broke Down Merry-Go-Round

Today at the mall, Baby J wanted to ride the coin-operated, kiddie merry-go-round.

What fun! Yippee!

A few quarters, the ride started up and Baby J was delighted. But soon, the music stopped and dad was all out of quarters. Using her toddler logic, Baby J decided the best way to remedy the situation was to freak out, scream, and cry.

Luckily, babies aren't the only ones with creative logic. After some quick thinking and cajoling, the two of us spent the rest of our time at the mall riding up one escalator and down the other. Up and down. Up and down. She was totally fine with it. So long as she was on some kind of ride. And though I probably looked very foolish, I was fine with it too.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ms. Baby Goes to Washington

Hey, look! Congress is just as pissed about all the crib recalls as I am. Check out this article.

Listening To: Venus Envy by Diesel Boy

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good Hair

I recently saw a documentary by Chris Rock called Good Hair. It's about the culture, economics, and social implications of the African-American beauty business.

It was side-splitting, eye-opening, and jaw-dropping. I hardly think I am the person and I hardly think this is the place to analyze any sort of African-American self-image zeitgeist, but I can say that this movie helped me to see just how crushing the pressure people put on themselves to be beautiful can be, regardless of skin color.

As the father of a little girl who will one day feel the societal pressure to fit a certain beauty archetype, I worry about what it will be like for Baby J when she's older. She will be faced with a whole separate set of issues than the women in Good Hair but they are certain to be vexing nonetheless.

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. What's a dad to do?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Baby J and I went to play ball at the park today. A lady showed up with a German shepherd and started playing frisbee with him. Fearless Baby J saw the dog and thought it prudent to charge screaming and flailing her arms.


Naturally, this made me a little apprehensive. After all, German shepherds are what they use for police dogs. They tear down coked up criminals on the run. Who knows what they'd do to a wee screaming wild child.

The lady tried to reassure me that her dog would not eat Baby J but I was still anxious. I ended up just putting Baby J in the car and driving home for lunch. But I was left wondering if it was a bit of an overreaction on my part? Was I being overprotective? For the record, let it be known that I love dogs. I just don't like the way that they maul people from time to time.

Did someone say lunch?

Listening To: Beelzebubba by The Dead Milkmen

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Key Ring

There are many ways to measure a man. Height, wealth, athletic prowess. All the traditional ways men are compared to one another in our society. But men everywhere know that these things don't really matter. There's only one thing that truly shows how important you are as a man. Your key ring.

That's right. You judge a man not by the color of his skin but the contents of his key ring. Men with lots of keys are important. Men with a few keys don't have as much status. Men with lots of keys clip them to a belt loop and let them noisily jangle against one another so that everyone in earshot knows how important they are. Men with a few keys slip them in their pocket and try to hide their inferiority.

Today, I'm not sure if I took a step forward or a step backward in the world of the man key ring status but my key ring is forever changed. My wife joined the rewards club at Babies R Us and clipped a little barcode to my key ring. Whenever I go to Babies R Us now and buy some stuff, I give them my keys and they keep track of my spending, offer me discounts here and there. Like they do at the grocery store.

So now my key ring has grown and my status increased. But, at the same time, it's not a terribly manly addition and I'm feeling conflicted. Perhaps a even a little keyed up.

Listening To: Cock Rock by Diesel Boy

Monday, May 24, 2010

Article & Rant

Today's post starts with an article on stay-at-home dads and their struggle to rejoin the workforce when it's time.

Read it here.

After I first read this article, I thought myself pretty lucky to have a career which allows ample time off for family. But then I realized, I'm not lucky. Part of the reason I chose teaching was so I could spend time with my family. Luck had nothing to do with it. It was totally intentional.

But now, federal and state government are trying to dismantle teachers' unions and change the way teachers are hired so that's it's more like a business model. No more tenure. No more time off for family leave.

So if there are any state or federal government officials reading this blog, quit screwing around with the underpinnings of educational system that attract new, talented teachers. Focus on changing the parts that base funding on standardized test scores and punish impoverished schools.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mix and Match

I took Baby J to a playgroup at a nearby library this morning. I've been going there for months but today there was a bigger crowd than I'd ever seen there before. Moms just kept on coming, bringing their babies with them.

After a while, all the babies were playing with each other and all the moms were talking with each other and I couldn't remember which baby went to which mom. So I sat and tried to mix and match them based on their physical features. I think I got all but one or two in the end. I wonder if I were on the other end of this little game would folks match me up with Baby J?

Speaking of which, here's a little mix and match game I made of myself. Click the image below to play.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beginning of the End of the Sleepsack

A sleepsack is like a baby snuggie...

It's what we put Baby J in when it's time for sleep. It's like a baby blanket they can't take off. But Baby J has now found a way to get out of her sleepsack. The other day I went in to get her up for the day only to find that she'd removed it entirely and was laying on top of it.

I'm guessing that this is the beginning of the end of Baby J's sleepsacks. From here on out, we'll probably have to find a new way to keep her snug at night. Good thing warmer weather is on the way.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baby on Board

A while ago, my wife suggested we get a baby-on-board sign to hang in our car.

I guess the idea is that people would see it, realize we're toting around a wee precious piece of cargo, and be a little bit more cordial to us on the road. It sounds like a good idea, like a little extra protection for our little darling. But it just doesn't feel right posting a placard on my car.

I've always thought of people who post stuff on their car as kind of cowardly. Like they slap on a bumper sticker because they want to say crass things in public without any reprecusions. Or they do so because they want to proclaim that they're part of some group (university student, religious organization, etc.). Like they gain a modicum of identity if they emblazon pro-life slogans across their bumper. Your personality, political beliefs, or life choices shouldn't be displayed on the ass-end of your car. There are more appropriate, effectual, and less garish ways to express them in your life.

So there will be no baby on board sticker on my car. The whole notice-posted-on-car thing has been forever ruined for me. But I can still enjoy the song!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baby Dracula

Baby J likes applesauce. We buy her little cups with foil on top that look like this:

If she gets one of these little containers into her hands, she bites down on the foil and then sucks the applesauce out through the holes like a vampire.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baby Farts

Every now and then, Baby J will let loose a deep, rumbly fart. Shamelessly slow and low, these baby farts take a long time to complete. They sound almost like adult farts only funnier because they come from such a little person. Baby farts are pure comic gold.

But occasionally, Baby J will rip one in public. Usually, it's at the library where everyone is quietly focused on whatever it is they have in front of them. And in that silence, it sounds so much like the fart of a grown man that I feel the need to proclaim my innocence.

"I just want everyone to know that was the baby and not me!"

Or something to that effect. Part of me feels like I'm selling out my daughter. I feel like I should own up to that fart even though it's not mine. Defend my daughter's honor or something like that.

But, really, what is the protocol in situations like this? Do I apologize? Excuse my daughter? Just laugh? Rip one myself? Who knows?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ancestors and Descendants

I heard an interesting podcast recently about ancestor worship and how it is expressed in Western culture.

Genealogy is a popular hobby and is pretty much the closest thing we have to modern-day ancestor worship. But, in reality, genealogy is more about the searcher than the subjects. People who scour the branches of their family tree do so to find out more about themselves, to bask in whatever glory they find radiating from illustrious progenitors. It's not really worshipping anyone but yourself.

The podcaster, David Bouchier, put forth a theory that ancestor worship has been pretty much discarded in our culture for the sake of descendent worship or worship of our children. People once hung pictures of their great ancestors in their homes. Now it's all kid pictures.

I think it all boils down to whether we exalt the past or the future. But that's just my two cents. Check out the podcast by clicking this link.

Listening To: Dear Science by TV on the Radio

Monday, May 17, 2010

Days Off/On

One of the coolest things about being an author/illustrator is when I get to go into schools and do presentations. I like to do individual class visits so in any given day, I see about 100 wiggly kids. This week, I had three such engagements so I saw a lot of kids. I can't bring Baby J with me when I go on these school visits so we arranged for my wife's mother to come and babysit for a few days.

Even though I went into a bunch of classrooms and hung out with hundreds of loud children, I kind of consider my time away from Baby J a bit of a vacation, a few days off.

It's strange when work is your vacation.

Listening To: Still Bill by Bill Withers

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Attack of the Snow Wolves

A friend of mine knows someone who knows someone else who knows someone else (etc.). And word has come down this grapevine that there is a pair of parents out there somewhere who tell their child, whenever he misbehaves, that if he's not good, they'll put him outside for the snow wolves. It is reported that this child once had a nightmare about snow wolves attacking him and his parents (who I think are psychologists as the story goes) manipulate his fear to guarantee submission.

Now shocking as this may be, it's important to remember that this is pretty much just hearsay and there's little reason to dial the Department of Children and Families hotline. Normally, I'd hesitate to post an unconfirmed case such as this but hearing about the attack of the snow wolves got me thinking.

There is often a struggle for power between parents and kids. It's a natural part of family dynamics. We want kids to behave. They want to empty out all the drawers in the kitchen and play with sharp objects. You might call it a conflict. Perhaps even a fight. But I wonder how often parents fight fair. How many respectfully and reasonably try to negotiate power struggles in their families and how many use less than savory tactics to ensure they win?

I wonder if I fight fair. I've never told Baby J I'd feed her to snow wolves but I'm sure I've tipped the balance in my favor 100 times or more.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Have a Ball

I took Baby J for a walk down by an athletic field today where some kids had just started soccer practice. Once she saw what they were doing, she screamed, "Ball!" and ran like hell onto the soccer field. I picked her up and placed her elsewhere but she is persistent baby. She wheeled around and went straight back to the soccer field squealing, "ball, ball, ball!"

I took her a nearby drug store and bought a big, red, playground ball. Then, we went back tot he athletic field and I turned her loose. She ran back and forth kicking, licking, lifting, dropping, fighting and biting her new, beloved ball. It was so flippin' cute my cheeks started to hurt after a while from all the smiling.

Flag of Japan?

Listening To: Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman

Friday, May 14, 2010

Artistic Growth

Baby J has branched out in her artistic endeavors. She's moved away from her crayon art stylings from before. It's amazing what she can do with a yellow highlighter, a ball-point pen, and a little drool.

She calls this one "boo boo dada book bleeg bleeeeg!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cracker Axis

Baby J loves crackers, saltines especially. But whenever I give her a whole one she bites from one corner which shatters the rest of it into cracker crumbs that land on the floor.

To prevent this from happening, I break the crackers in half, try to make them more bite-sized for a baby. There are two ways to break a square cracker into equal rectangular parts, two axis or plane of cleavage. We'll call them North to South and East to West. The crackers only break evenly on one axis. Try to break one along the wrong axis and it crumbles into dusty cracker shards. And you never know just by looking which is the right way to break it so the halves comes out perfect.

But somehow, I know how to do it based on touch. My fingers have split approximate 2,045 crackers at this point and they learned to intuitively find the proper cracker axis.

I'm pretty proud of this newfound skill though I'm fairly certain it's not going to help that much during my lifetime.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


An organization called Save the Children has just published a report ranking nations by a number of factors including maternal mortality rate, the mortality rate for children under-five, and the percent of kids in preschool. The US doesn't score very well and has been defined as a tough place to be a mother. In addition to the measures mentioned above it was said that the US has "the least generous maternity leave policy -- both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid -- of any nation."

Dang. I'm raising my next kid in Ireland.

Read a news report here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Of Time and Typos

I must admit there have been some quality control issues here at Dawn of the Dad. Primarily, it's my tendency to overlook typos when reviewing my daily entries. It's shameful, I know, to post things with spelling errors and grammar flubs, but, at this point, it's pretty much unavoidable.

You see, the time I give myself to blog each day is a narrow window between the moment Baby J finishes breakfast and the moment we step out the door on our way to playgroup or something. It comes out to be a bout 20 minutes or so and there's usually a diaper change in there too. So I dash off these posts as quick as I can without much time to look back at my work.

So I ask you, dear readers, to please forgive my mistakes. There just isn't enough time in my day for careful editing and revising. If you see an egregious error and you are so inclined, let me know and I'll fix it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

She's Got Legs

When Baby J was first born, she was all scrunched up. Then, as the months went by, she slowly unfolded into a glob of pudge. She had rolls on her arms and legs. Later, after she started walking, the pudge start to melt away. Now that she's walking pretty much nonstop, Baby J has normal, proportionate legs. No more rolls. No more thunder thighs. She's got legs and she knows how to use them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Baby J loves keys. I would say no less than 20 times a day she'll waddle up to me, push her little hand into my pocket, and ask, "keys?" Over and over. "Keys? Keys? Keys?" I usually hand them over but ever since she learned how to set off my car alarm I've ben a bit more hesitant.

But still she insists on playing with them. "Keys? Keys? Keys?"

So I took the battery out of my keyless entry clicker thingamajiggy. Now she can play with the keys and thumb the little lock and unlock buttons without setting off the "panic" feature. The only downside is now I have no keyless entry thingamajiggy and have to go back to the ol' school way of unlocking my doors manually.

It feels strange to take a step back technologically, to go from electronic, remote controls to actually hands-on mechanics. Very strange. You don't even think about the technology in your life until your daughter renders it untenable with her busy little fists.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Baby J has never been particularly vocal when letting us know she's filled up a diaper. But recently, unless my ears doth deceive me, she's been saying "poop" when she needs to be changed.

She also mutters snatches of song lyrics and can do the hand motions associated with them.

This whole language development thing is awesome!

Friday, May 7, 2010


I'm proud to report that Baby J started dancing today. This is a very momentous occasion because baby dancing is freaking hilarious. It involves the stomping of little feet, the wiggle of tiny hips, and the flapping of teeny hands.

She just sort of busted onto the scene today doing a bounce type move to the sound of her toy keyboard. It was quite unexpected and totally adorable.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Using a Tissue

Baby J has had a long standing love affair with tissues( see exhibit A and B). But only recently did she learn how to use them properly. Now, if you hold one up to her nose, she'll exhale sharply and deliver a nice glob of snot for you.

I realize this is may be a topic to make the squeamish blog reader squirm, but, when you think about it, using tissues properly is a pretty importatn life skill. Also, it is further evidence of Baby J incomperable genius.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Since I've started my stint as a stay-at-home dad, I've found that I need to buy new jeans every three to four months. The knees develop these small, sideways splits which quickly grow into gaping holes. After that, it's a downhill slide into a shredded denim oblivion.

Though I understand this is a fashionable look these days, it's not quite the look I'm going for.

I think it's because I spend so much time crawling around on the floor now with Baby J, so much time bending down to interact with her, stretching the fabric taught across my knees. Since being a stay-at-home dad is now my full-time occupation, I wonder if I could write off the purchase of new jeans as a business expense on my taxes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kitty Corner

We keep Baby J away from the cat food and the litter boxes with a baby gate. We put this baby gate about 10 inches off the ground so the cats can slink underneath and do their thing.

But Baby J has figured out how to squeeze under the gate too. Today, we found her in the little "kitty corner" happily munching cat food pellets with one of our friendly felines. Usually, mortal enemies, the two put their differences aside to share a light repast.

I'm just glad she didn't decide to share the litter boxes too. That would just be gross.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Baby J has lots of words now and uses them pretty regularly. Up, cracker, bubbles are in heavy rotation these days. Another that I'm pretty sure she picked up from her mom is "k," as in "okay."

She'll babble by herself and then say "k" as if asking if what she's babbled is sufficient. It's far from the verbal tic of Mr. Mackie but it is used with the same regularity.

Or perhaps she is saying "que" meaning "what" in Spanish. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Listening To: Flyover by The Workhouse

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I've been working on a research study recently that's brought me back into the classroom for a while. Since I have no childcare options, Baby J has to come with me when I make observations and collect data. So I get all dressed up and go into schools and bring my daughter with me. She runs around while I try to gather scientific measurements. It's been a surreal collision of my professional life and my work life.

Tomorrow there's a meeting I have to attend. I've already got the okay to bring Baby J with me. I'm going to bring a ton of toys and crackers and let her go nuts while we try to conduct business.
For a stay-at-home dad, I spend a lot of my time at work.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I'm very happy to have taken this year off from working to be a stay-at-home dad. It's been a great experience watching Baby J grow and learn and run around being cute as all get out. I'm very glad that my chosen profession has allowed me to devote a big chunk of time to family and to my daughter.

I think it is a shame that other people don't have the same opportunities as I have had to take time off from work. But it's an even bigger shame if they do have the same opportunities but have chosen not to utilize them.

There are a few things that I can look back on in my life and say that they really redefined me as a person, changed my overall, general worldview. Being a stay-at-home dad has been one of them.

It's been a good 245 days on/off the job.