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.

video

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.



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fiddler on the Roof

I just saw the 1971 film version of Fiddler on the Roof for the fifty bajillionth time. I always forget how much I enjoy it until I have occasion to sit down and watch it again. Every time, it just totally sucks me in even though I know exactly what's going to happen, who it's going to happen to, and what song is going to be sung while it's happening.



This was the first time I watched it since becoming a father, however. Now, it's like watching a totally different movie. It's metaphors inside metaphors all about the father/child relationship. And some cool, bottle-headed dancing action.



Interesting viewing for new fathers whether they are rich men (deega deega deega deega dum) or paupers.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Whole New Mind

I just finished a book by economist Daniel Pink called A Whole New Mind. It was all about the next evolution in American jobs and I thought it was a very interesting book.

One theme that kept coming up again and again was the idea that, in this age of abundance, where people have what they need to survive, they start looking for reasons to survive. They start looking for meaning effectively making meaning the new money.

I'm not sure I totally agree with everything Daniel Pink has to say, but I know giving up some of wage earning potential to be a stay-at-home dad has been a meaningful experience for me.