I don’t know anything about girls. When I was younger I thought I did. But I’m older and I realize that I don’t know much about anything, especially how to raise a little girl in today’s society. It almost seems like it’s not enough to be just a good person; you have to go above and beyond and fight for a cause or a movement or brand your day to day activities with a noble “#”. I’m just trying to figure out how to keep my baby girl happy and safe, #happybaby.
I do realize that women struggle against sexism and inequality and I wrote a while back about how being a father helped me realize that and that my daughter might have a tougher time coming up in the world than a boy would. I say “might” because I don’t see women as lesser or incapable of doing the things a guy can do and I truly believe that if she sets her mind to it, Em will be able to accomplish the unimaginable. I know that’s not just me who feels like this, but social media makes it seem like I’m an island of male feminism in an ocean of ignorant bros. I grew up with an older sister and mom who were always there for me. They’re strong, they have careers, ran and owned businesses, raised a family, etc. What can I say? They’re strong. They’ve instilled in me a respect for women. They’re caretakers and caregivers.
(What’s the difference? I don’t know, but I was cared for growing up.)
Then there’s my wife- brilliant, beautiful, funny, extremely well-educated and able to put up with, well, me. If there was ever a case of beauty and the beast it’s gotta be me and my wife because I was definitely your basic, beastly, run of the mill, average dude before we met. If not for her I’d be a troll living under a bridge out of my car. Now I’m a pretty average run of the mill guy, but I don’t have cargo shorts anymore. Sophistication doesn’t begin to describe me.
YES YOU CAN!
My point is, I’ve always known that women are strong, capable, and more than magazine covers make them out to be. I’ve never been exposed to a life where they aren’t. I’ve never known men who haven’t thought, like me, that women, as a sex, are just as capable as men and are more that just the fairer sex. I know this and I want Emma to know it. To aspire to be more than mainstream media or social media tells her to be.
I don’t know what I don’t know.
As a new dad, though, I’m trying to sort out all the stuff society is throwing at me about sexism and racism and white power and religion and all that. It’s all confusing. I’ve read articles chastising fathers for not being more aware of these issues prior to having a daughter and it bums me out. Essentially, I should have been exposed to more and been less ignorant my whole life. I wasn’t, though and I can’t change that. Nobody can. I don’t think we can move forward in life by trying to change history or trying to erase our mistakes. We can learn from them though. We can take that knowledge and teach our kids not to make the same mistakes as us. I think a bit of introspection and less finger pointing could do the world some good.
So with all the hashtags floating around I’ve been doing my research. This is what I’ve gathered so far- people have issues. Issues become movements. Movements become action. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is to say, if you want to effect change you will encounter resistance. Life is a struggle and we need to be strong to get through it. Most importantly, you have to pick your battles. I’d love to try to address all the sensational controversies floating around the internet, but I’m one dude and that’s not my job.
I’ll do my damnedest! What do I gotta do?
What I will do is try to raise my girl so she’s as strong and independent as her mother and all the other women in her life. And I won’t be perfect at it, but I’ll try. I’ll try to make it as positive an experience as possible, but life has its ups and downs and I’m expecting it to be a bumpy road. So, like I do, I’m going to draw some pictures and hopefully they’re going to have a positive impact for at least one person (my daughter). This week’s “picture” is my modern spin on “Jack and Jill”. Em is going to have to learn to be strong and not take crap so I’ve modified a timeless classic for her.
Jack and JIll
That’s it for this week. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave comments below or on social media and as always Happy Parenting.
Holy crap. I’m so tired. Well, I’m still parenting and still working from home. On the upside I’m getting a lot more work than I ever planned on. On the downside I’m getting a lot more work than I ever planned on. Here’s the odd paradox I find about my current situation- I’m getting older and weaker by the minute and my kid is getting older and stronger by the second. Soon I’ll be outmatched by her. If she wanted to take me on in some sort of Van Damme Bloodsport kumite-style physical combat I’d be done for… and she’s only 7 months old. “You’re exaggerating, Chris.”
Am I? AM I?!
That’s Sick, Baby
Let me backtrack a bit and start from the beginning- this is how I discovered her super baby strength. Em’ was sick. Not the “runny nose, boogies everywhere, screaming from baby flu” kind of sick. It was different and a little undetectable. It started with a curious cough, dry in nature, that we kind of chalked up to the crappy air in our town. She wasn’t sleeping well for a couple of weeks. She wasn’t eating a lot in one sitting, and started spitting up more. When we brought it up to her doctor it could have been one of several things. (It’s always one of several things, isn’t it? You go in for a check up and you walk out with 17 different illnesses). Well we were potentially battling allergies, something in mama’s milk, the air in Central California, or a bit of acid reflux. A quick look at her throat indicated that it was probably reflux. That would explain the dry cough, waking herself up through her naps, her unwillingness or inability to eat a full meal, and the spit-up, so we were prescribed some sort of magic potion what could fix her good. We’ll be taking that for a month and then checking back in with the doc.
Unfortunately giving medicine to a baby isn’t that easy.
Why So Angry, Baby?
Trying to coax a baby into downing this syrupy potion is like fighting an angry gnome berserker. Though they may be small, they are impossibly strong for their age. My daughter’s talons had grown back in at the time so flesh wounds were all but guaranteed.
How many adults does it take to give a baby some meds? At least 2 shamefully weak grown @$$ individuals.
I had to hold her down while Kelly slowly squirted this syrupy concoction into the back of her mouth with a needleless syringe. It’s the most bananas situation I’ve been in in a while.
I feel horrible trying to hold Emma down when she’s trying to struggle free. I’m not a very forceful dude to begin with. I pride myself on my easy going nature. That’s either going to bite me in the back side as a parent oooor I’ll be the really cool dad on the street that all the other kids say to their parents “Why can’t you be like Emma’s dad?”
Baby girl is super strong!!! I mean, I’m not a forcible guy in the first place so if she wiggles I’m not strapping her down like a mental patient. Also, she knows how to spit out the medicine. It ends up all over her or in my face and my mouth.
Have you ever had someone spit medicine in your mouth? On the upside my GERD has completely gone away. We did find a solution to this daily battle. One of the earlier gifts we received when we first found out we were pregnant was a baby tool kit. It has things like a bulb sucky thing, a brush and comb, a nail cutter, and a medicine dispersing binky!!!
Dad Tip: Be a tricky daddy
Let me tell you about the amazing wonders of the medicine dispensing binky. It’s a complete 180 from just injecting a potion right into her gullet. I mean it’s night and day. We’ve gone from crying and doing capoeira in my arms until I’m taking her medicine to her just willingly popping a binky full of drugs in her mouth. Once she sees the binky she’s all like, “OOOH, binky. I’m about to be so relaxed. I’m a baby.” It’s a bit of deception on the parents part, but it’s so worth it. Would you rather have a cage fight with your baby so they take their meds or just slip them a tricky binky? That’s right, tricky binky. Granted, there’s still a little bit that comes out due to drool and whatnot, but at least she’s not spitting it in my face. If you have a kid that needs to take a liquid med but is unwilling to cooperate I highly recommend this medicine delivering binky. It’s going to change your life.
Hungry Hungry Baby
Now that Em can eat again without a sore throat she acts like she hasn’t eaten in a week. Oh, and she’s eating solid foods! Everyone doubted us. They said we couldn’t do it. They said it was too difficult for us and we lacked the gumption to encourage our kid to grow up. They said we didn’t want to feed her solid foods. They said I was scared of how diaper changing would become a nightmare once she switched over from milk.
Actually nobody said that. I was scared of how diaper changing would become even more of a nightmare for me, though.
The one thing I don’t get is the insatiable hunger. From everything we were told and read, once you start feeding your kid solids they start to wean off of milk. By 9 months we should have Em on a mostly solid food diet. The thing is, though, she’s eating solids and drinking just as much milk as before, if not more. Where before she was waking up due to acid reflux, now she’s waking up hungry… and we like, just fed her.
So, question: If you’re a parent, did you notice a time in your child’s infancy where they started eating more? Is it just part of them growing up? Could it be a growth spurt?
Maybe our cooking is just that good!!! My culinary skills have never been great, but baby food isn’t challenging. Since you shouldn’t add spices because you never know what allergies your little one might have we’re boiling up veggies and meats without any added flavor. SUPER EASY. Also, it’s just boiling and blending food.
We already have a system down, too! We’re good! It goes like so: boil, or Instant Pot some whole food (as organic as possible, ‘cuz you know… GMO’s and all), blend up said food in a food processor or use an immersion blender, feed (cooled off) blended food to baby, freeze the excess in silicone ice trays for later use. You know, the typical method that parents have used since time immemorial to feed their kids.
So what’s on the menu so far for my voracious eater? Chicken, pork chops, bananas, apple sauce, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and blackberries. I find that if you mix a fruit or veggie with a protein it works out great.
Oh, and we were surprised by my mom with a random gift of a Braun immersion blender for baby food, which came with a food processor attachment and a silicone ice tray to put all that delicious puree in once you’re done with your blending adventure. Even though we have an immersion blender, this one is pretty dope with the mini food processor sidekick! It sure beats pulling out a full sized processor to blend up one little chicken breast.
And the Instant Pot is PHENOMENAL at cooking frozen meats. I highly recommend one if you don’t have it. Throw in a couple of chicken breasts and a cup of water and you have pulled chicken in 30 min. They say 10, but no one ever tells you that you have to wait for the thing to heat up. Instant Pot? Yeah, it’s going to help you prep all the food you need for your little devourer of solid foods. And since my little girl eats like her father, who works from home, it’s nice to be able to just set something to cook without needing to keep an eye on it.
Dad Bod Update
Now that my kid’s eating healthy foods, we’re eating healthier as a result. Aside from an occasional trip to the coffee shop and hosting an out of town guest we haven’t dined out as much as we used to. And to be honest, fast food isn’t that fast anymore. We have a McDonald’s with 2 drive thrus and I can still make dinner faster than if I drove there and waited 25 minutes in line for a dry hamburger. INSTANT POT! Plus, loading up a baby every time you want some crappy meal is more of a hassle than the food is rewarding, so I just avoid it. As a result of just improving the food I shove in my face I weigh less than I did just before the holidays! I look the same, but I feel great, which is important. I have to live healthy to make sure my kid stays healthy by either setting good examples and habits or choosing the right foods and activities for her. If I can do it so can you.
That being said, if you think your kid is sick get them checked out. For us, since it was flu season, I was freaking out. The flu takes old people and babies as its victims all the time. Sick babies are no joke. And beware of that baby strength- they’re stronger than you think. Now, since my baby is on the mend this is where I sign off for the week. The only question is do I draw Em as Van Damme Bloodsport fighting in a kumite or do we go angry gnome this week? If you have any advice for dealing with a sick baby, as always, feel free to comment below or on social media.
Happy New Year! It’s been a helluva week for baby girl!!! She’s had a few “firsts” and we’ve tackled a couple of milestones. Let me tell ya ‘bout it.
BRING ON THE FOODS!
First and foremost we’ve finally started her on solid foods. Though it seemed like all of our family was accusing us of deliberately avoiding solid foods so I wouldn’t have to change a diaper full of legit people poop, we weren’t, and now we’ve hit that milestone. It’s just that all the timing was off and pediatrician’s recommendations came a little late and we had a ton of awesome gadgety tools for eating solid foods planned as Christmas gifts. It really was a simple matter of timing. If we started her on solids when we “should have” then we would have had to open some of her gifts earlier. Rubbish!
Since Christmas morning we’ve been well equipped to deliver solid foods down our kid’s gullet. She got a nice fancy high chair that, like all of her other expensive things, will grow with her as it becomes a booster seat for her to sit at the table like a big girl. There were some bowls with suction cups on the bottom. GENIUS! Babies have no hand eye coordination and just start flailing about and throwing everything. They’re like cats, but they don’t bury their own poop.
I mentioned a while back my confusion with baby rice cereal and how I would have just given Emma Rice Krispies. Dumb. Well, we found legit baby rice cereal and oatmeal by Gerber. I ate some of the oatmeal… I won’t do that again. It tastes like cardboard and breastmilk. Emma hated it and I don’t blame her. It could have just been because the whole experience was so new, that she was uncomfortable with it all so we’ll try again.
So far we’ve had oatmeal, rice, apple sauce, and bananas. Bananas are our new gold standard for palatable baby foods. Instead of mooshing it up, I just chop it into little pieces and feed it to her. It seems to work out well. There was a point, though, where Emma gagged a little bit and Kelly and I just about had a heart attack. Apparently, and you hear about this with baby led weaning especially, your kid might gag a few times, but it’s normal. They just have to figure out the whole solid food thing.
That being said, ALWAYS WATCH YOUR KID WITH SOLID FOODS. We’re just going off advice from experts and other parents so don’t look to me for how your kid handles food. Just be a good parent, always supervise, and make sure they don’t eat pieces of food too big for them. Even adults choke so don’t trust your kid to be any better at eating than adults.
BYE BYE BASSINET
Our next milestone comes just past the 6 month mark. We’ve been waiting and waiting for this day and now it’s finally here! We’ve folded up Emma’s bassinet and packed it away in a closet. Exciting, brah! Why is it exciting? Because it was taking up so much dang space in our bedroom, that’s why.
Aside from the fact that she would only sleep in it for a couple of hours and freak out to the point that we would put her in our bed, it was pretty useful. When she wasn’t in it it was a great place to keep laundry that hadn’t been folded yet. It came with a sweet little bluetooth speaker that I could pipe my own tunes through which also displayed the temperature in the room. This saved me several trips to the thermostat down the hall when Kelly would wake up too hot or too cold and ask “Did you adjust the temperature again!? What’s it set at?!”
Yes I did change the temperature again. No I didn’t pay attention to what it was set to. My body says too hot or too cold and I click the temp up or down a few times and let chance decide if I’ll be comfortable. So this little doo hickey came in handy when I needed to know what damage i had done.
Now that Emma is 6 months old and can roll over in the bassinet we’re done with it. It’s time for the crib. When she freaks out we’ll just have to walk across the house to tend to her. JOY! I’ll miss your laundry basket-like convenience you giant baby prison. You served us sort of well.
Speaking of rolling around on her own, my kid is crawling… ish. To be fair, she does like an army crawl, where her belly is on the ground and she drags her legs. The closest thing I can relate it to is Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump when he falls out of his chair on New Years Eve defending Forrest’s honor… minus the mean mean ladies. I’m sure she’ll get the whole crawling thing soon, but for now she’s mobile enough to terrorize the furniture. I’ll have to start baby proofing everything.
CALL OF THE PTERODACTYL
When she’s not a free range baby she’s contained in her bouncer or crib. Her disdain for extended periods of restricted movement can be heard in her Jurassic Park-esque dinosaur call. She’s found the shrill part of her vocal range and has realized that the most effective way to get daddy to free her is a pitchy squeal reminiscent of some hollywood pterodactyl cry. It’s horrible.
EMMA: A COMIC STRIP
Over the holidays, my father-in-law, whom I refer to as “Silver Fox”, mentioned to me that he enjoys the comics I do of Emma and our family. I was glad to hear it because I enjoy doing them and it’s a great feeling to know that at least one person enjoys them. We discussed where it could go and how I could introduce more characters over time. We were both really excited by the prospect of Emma being something like a syndicated comic strip. I think it has a ways to go, but Silver Fox got me amped up with the idea of bringing in “friends and family members” into the story. Family members, Silver Fox?
“Do you want to be in the comic?” I asked.
“No. NO! That’s not what I said.”
“But it kind of is.”
I got you, Silver Fox, and I appreciate your vote of confidence.
I learned a long time ago that as an artist you open yourself up to a crap ton of criticism. People are fickle and you’ll never make everyone happy especially with art. In a world where we are visually overstimulated from the moment we wake up and log online to the moment we pass out staring at our phones and televisions I don’t my expect little black and white cartoons to knock anyone’s socks off. That being said, I’ve hit a point in my career where I’ve learned to draw for fun again. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve done art to elevate my career, to be better artist, to try to be the best in the room (because competition was always my main motivation), but “fun” was always just out of reach. Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed my work, but it’s been just that; work. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the majority of my career, but I’m really grateful that I’m blessed with a family that gives me enough material and motivation to make something I enjoy. It’s a bonus when someone else enjoys your work and even more so when they believe in your potential to do something great.
So, based off of my conversation with Silver Fox I’ll be making “Emma” a thing with it’s own page on this site. Who knows, maybe one day it’ll have it’s own site. Thanks, Silver Fox!
My Horrible Blog
The other day I asked my wife to proof read my blog for me. I usually run it through spell check in google docs, word, or both. Then I have her read it mainly to see if I’m not writing some gibberish stream of consciousness that only I can understand, but also to see if I’m at least a little funny this week. I have a 3 chuckle limit. I sit back like some creep-o and watch her read and silently count how many times she laughs. If she doesn’t laugh at least 3 times I rewrite the whole thing. I don’t count smiles, nose flares, fluttering eyes… nope. Three chuckles. I’ll accept like a soft, low, deep belly chortle, but nothing less.
The other day I asked her to read that week’s post and as I walked by the office to check on her I see her there, head in hand, looking miserable. Where were the chuckles? Not even a smile? It was just a look of pure, miserable, anguish.
“OHMYGOD!? Is it that bad?” I asked? “You look like you’re reading the worst writing ever written.”
“No, no. I’ve read it once. I know what happens so I don’t have to enjoy it this time.”
“Did you chuckle three times? How ‘bout a chortle?”
“Yeah yeah. I chuckle on the inside.”
CHUCKLE ON THE INSIDE?! HOLY HELL!
That’s her escape plan when she doesn’t like my writing- laughing to herself.
Well, that’s it for this week and for 2018. We hope your year was phenomenal. Thanks for spending the last few months with us. If you have any parenting advice for a stay-at-home dad, recommendations for other baby foods, or just want to shout out and relate feel free to comment below or on social media. I gotta get back to my kid who’s dragging herself all over the house. Happy New Year and as always, HAPPY PARENTING!
Merry Christmas! Now that the pleasantries are out of the way …
Holy Crap! What a bananas time of year! My kid made out like a bandit. You’d think she was royalty or something with all the stuff she got. 99% of the presents under the tree were for Emma. I guess that happens with babies- people love babies and they shower them with attention and gifts and smooches and weird baby talk. It’s great! Really. It is. The only thing is that my 6 month old is totally oblivious. She’ll look away from you if you don’t speak to her as an adult, she turns her cheek at loving smooches, and she doesn’t know the meaning of gifts.
So what the crap is it all for?
WRAP IT UP!
Wrapping paper. She loves wrapping paper and eating wrapping paper. Obviously, she couldn’t open her own gifts so mommy and daddy helped or else we’d have been there all day watching her eat paper.
Daddy- “OOOH! What’s this?”
Emma- “NOM NOM NOM”
Daddy- “No, not the paper. This toy/clothing/book,etc.”
Emma- “NOM NOM NOM”
Daddy- “GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH YOU’RE RUINING CHRISTMAS!”
She loves wrapping paper.
WHO YOU FOOLIN’?
Here’s what I don’t get- Santa aside, we got Emma some gifts. At this stage in life she got things like clothes and toys to help her become super smart; necessities. All of these things from mommy and daddy were wrapped and put under the tree. WHY?! WHYYYYYY!?
I know what we bought her. She won’t remember the whole unwrapping process. Who is this for? Not Emma. I’ll tell you who it’s for- the adults. We took a lot of photos, none of which we’ll put on the internet because we’re not into showing our kid to the world (despite having a blog about my family), and she was the center of all the photos. Honestly, I could have done without the wrapping. I would have saved a ton of time wrapping a ton of things, and then… unwrapping the same things. But it’s part of our culture and I’ve decided, especially since we had such a low key Thanksgiving, that holidays and life should be celebrated. I have a happy little girl and I want her to learn to celebrate all the great things in life.
The bandit got a ton of great toys to help her with hand eye coordination, colors, numbers, opposites, feet, songs, etc. All the stuff babies need to learn before you can let them graduate to whatever the next stage of being a kid is. Toddler maybe? Once we got past the wrapping paper she was all about her toys. I mean… All. About. Her. Toys.
Now, if these weren’t toys that were meant to teach her some necessary motor skills so she doesn’t end up scooching through the city sitting on a skateboard like a residentially challenged transient absent of her legs, then we probably wouldn’t have given them to her in the first place.
I guess the lesson we would like to teach her is that Christmas isn’t about gifts. We don’t want the commercialism of the holiday to be what she looks forward to every year. It really is better to give than to receive because it fills a void that things never could. After all the lessons about fine motor skills, the alphabet, colors, and shapes, we’ll get her to learn about humanity and how getting new things isn’t the point of Christmas.
Lady Death Strike
This is just a friendly reminder to cut your kid’s nails. If you’ve ever cut your own finger nails too short then you’re familiar with the annoying sting that accompanies your awful mistake. I know if you’ve never done it before then you might be frightened of trimming your baby’s nails too short and inflicting that same traumatic short nail pain on them. The reality is that it’s a mistake to not cut your kids nails. They grow like weeds. They’re thin and sharp like little knives. They don’t mean it, but they claw at your face and rip at your flesh like pissy little kittens. They roll over during nap time and slice into your back, stealing what precious little sleep you get during the day. (Yes, when it’s nap time daddy tries to steal some shut eye, too. And yes, we let her sleep in our bed because she stays asleep a lot longer in there than in her crib.) Cut your kids nails before they cut you like one of Wolverine’s pointy nemeses.
Sizing Issues and the Diaper Dilemma
We’ve had issues with our diapers blowing out more and more frequently. If you’re a new parent then you’ll have recently learned of the number system of diapers. I know that there are at least 3. Why? Because we recently started using 3’s. Each number has a weight limit ascribed to it. For example, 2’s in the Kirkland brand of diaper hold 12-18 lbs …of baby, not dookie. A 12 to 18 lb baby. 3’s on the other hand are rated for 16-28 lb babies. The thing is, though, is that there’s the small 2 lb overlap. You best mind those two lbs. We went right up to 18 lbs and that was a mistake. For days and days it was a mistake. A stinky, messy, mistake.
I blame the two month gap between baby check ups for this oversight. The pediatrician is the one who weighs Emma. How was I supposed to know she gained a gajillion lbs in two months? I blame her mom’s genes for that. Her grandpa, my wife’s father, is a giant, like the nephilim offspring of angels and mortal women; an 8 ft giant full of other-worldly knowledge like how to run a house. My child growing so fast and me not knowing her weight is a product of her nephilim heritage and the poor appointment-scheduling skills of the pediatric industry working against me.
My advice, switch your baby’s diaper over to the next size up at the low end of the weights for the new size, not the high end for the current size. It’s gonna save you a lot of laundry time.
Day Care & the Daddy Blues
So we went to visit a daycare for Emma because she’s going to need to socialize with other people besides mommy and daddy. She’s also going to need a decent influx of germs to help her build up her immunities. It was a great day care. The teachers seemed very kind and knowledgeable and it has kids ranging from infants to preschoolers. So in theory we’d be set for quite a while in regards to her initial education.
I asked a lot of questions, checked on the cleanliness and security of the school, and started to well up a little bit. Yeah, I’m gonna cry when we drop her off that first day. I’m gonna cry hard. Then I’ll sit in the car waiting for her class to get out, just crying like a little beeotch. That’s gonna be me.
There are so many great foods during the holidays!!!! My wife makes these amazing giant cinnamon rolls with a delicious frosting. They’re so good you’ll cry. As an adult, you will cry. That’s how good they are. My eyes are still all puffy from crying over how good they are. Also, Costco has a Costco-sized tin of Danish Butter cookies (my favorite). Did I eat them all? Yes. Yes I did. I shared some, but not too many. If I have an addiction, it’s Danish Butter cookies. Aaaaand, just like I PLANNED– I gained weight, thus ensuring that my dad bod stays intact and safe. Not to worry, my body still says, “Hey look at me …I helped make a baby.”
Happy New Year!
Well that’s it for now. The new year is upon us and it’s time to set some unrealistic resolutions that I’ll break. What are your resolutions for the new year? Do you have any advice that will help me not cry in public on Emma’s first day of daycare? Feel free to comment below or on our social media and as always Happy Parenting!
Emma had the first of her holiday guests this past week with the arrival of her Aunt and Grandma. Yes, the same grandmother that fed her to the point of explosive dookies and ended her trip earlier than expected so she wouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath. I still maintain that she knew what she was doing and planned the whole thing as revenge for me being a bratty kid.
All in all it was a phenomenal visit. Aside from seeing my family it’s great knowing that there are people out there who love my daughter almost as much as Kelly and I do. I mean, we know it, but it’s wonderful to see that love in action. Of course it goes without saying that when you get a couple of excited, loving Sicilians in the house the volume gets turned up a bit.
On day one, the first thing my ma does is go to Emma’s room where all the light and sound producing toys are kept neatly on a shelf and proceeds to bring them all into the living room for Emma to play with… all at once. I like to use these toys judiciously, as tools to help entertain my daughter when I’m out of ideas. Not my ma, though. It was a cacophony of noise and light, like a bad trip at a laser light show. Mind you, these are all toys she bought Emma in the past 6 months so she knew what to grab. But it didn’t stop there.
As this was an early Christmas visit Emma got to open a few presents so my ma and sis wouldn’t completely miss out since they wouldn’t actually be here on the day. Her aunt gave her some very welcomed and practical clothes, good thing too because my baby is outgrowing everything she owns. My ma… she had more light up toys that made sound. There’s a 3 stage play and learn stuffed puppy that, coincidentally, I’ve been eyeing for awhile. I like the toys that will last a while and grow with your kid, ya know. After buying new clothes on a monthly basis I just want something she won’t outgrow by next week. Thankfully I hadn’t pulled the trigger on that purchase yet. Emma’s not “learning” much yet. She saw the faux fur and must have thought “delicious!” because like all her other stuffed animals she started eating it’s ear. I’ll let you know how her animatronic educator works out.
My favorite toy, though, by far, is a little ball that rolls around on it’s own and teaches colors, animals, and numbers. It’s especially nice when it rolls around and attacks my child as she’s laying on the mat. It’s a completely unpredictable movement and sort of reminds me of how I used to try to dance back in the day. The 90’s weren’t good for dancing. Crazy movements aside, I’m pretty stoked to have this because I think it will help motivate her to crawl. That, or at least stay down for tummy time longer that usual.
On a side note, my family got to see first hand that what I write about in my blog is all true. The stages of crying, the harnesses, the naps, the toys, everything is true. I might exaggerate a bit for humors sake, but I don’t lie.
It was a great visit though and we love seeing family. Kelly and I even got a chance to sneak off for a date day! It’s totally true what they say about parents missing their kids when they’re out. Even though I knew she was safe I couldn’t stop worrying about her. It really didn’t help that the movie we saw had a couple of disturbing plot points involving some children that didn’t make it to the end of the film. Of course Emma’s grandma and aunt took great care of her. The only person who didn’t love the visit was Shinobi.
Beware of Dog
Yeah, Shinobi is all about protecting my kid. I’ve never heard her growl or bark so much at people in our house. Granted, we don’t have people over that often, but it was surprising because she knows my ma and sis. She’s just super protective now. Even as I type this from the foot of my bed where Emma is taking her mid-morning nap, Shinobi is laid out at her feet being super watchful. Actually, since Emma’s been sleeping in our bed, ‘Nobi’s been at her feet the entire time. It makes me so proud of my dog. Good girl!
Luckily she’s down for a nap. It’s been harder and harder to get her to sleep as of late. She’s been extremely combative when it’s time for naps. I have my usual bag of tricks which I employ to get her to doze off, like white noise, singing, playing lullabies through the smart watch, warm milk, etc. Some of it works, but I usually need to go through several concerted efforts before she’s out.
I can tell she’s fighting it because as I’m cradling her in her glider she starts to lazily swing one arm about, like a pro wrestler fighting against a sleeper hold. Her eyelids start to get heavy as her arm flops about, slowly losing steam. The lullabies, the binky, the rocking, all of them taking their toll on her. Then, just like a scripted pro wrestling comeback, her eyes dart open, head flinging back. Her limp arm languidly hanging there shoots up as if she’s feeding off the energy of some invisible audience chanting “EMMA! EMMA! EMMA!”
Awake! She was almost asleep and now, out of nowhere, she’s awake! Regaining her steam, metaphorically jumping off the top rope like the Ultimate Warrior, and essentially body slamming me with surprise. So, in a sort of Stone Cold Stunner, I put her in the daddy saddle and she’s out. She can fight the glider, but not the comforting embrace of daddy dearest and her baby harness. Now that she’s actually cool with facing inwards she’s been falling asleep in her harnesses a lot faster than she used to. Before, I would be walking all around our home just to get her to fall asleep.
Why don’t I start with the harness you ask? Because before I would have to walk all around our home just to get her to fall asleep. Don’t ask a man who wears orthotic inserts to walk around for 45 minutes barefoot. Dumb.
Up Up and Away
But she loves her harnesses. I think she just likes to be up high. Once she sees you and she isn’t being held by anyone then her arms shoot straight up demanding to be lifted out of her current, low status predicament. That’s princess behavior is what that is. I’m not the only one who succumbs to her “PICK ME RIGHT THE @&*# UP NOW” body language. My ma and sis fell victim to that, too. Last week I described the stages of crying and they saw them first hand. My sister’s goal all week? Don’t let Emma get past stage 2.
Ultimately, once she’s up and has engaged the world from her crows nest for too long she’ll get tuckered out. This is mainly due to her whipping around from side to side in your arms to see everything that’s going on …even if nothing is going on. A lot of the times it’s just her avoiding my face. She has this thing where she won’t look at whoever is holding her. Like she’s too good to make eye contact with the help. That’s princess behavior is what that is.
When she has no time for me to be her manservant and chaufer her around the house she’s making progress on moving around on her own. We’re still not crawling yet, but we found out that some kids don’t always crawl. Sometimes they go straight to walking.
Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Currently she’s just rolling. Everywhere. She rolls right off her play mat and right through the open concept house. It goes like so:
Baby: roll roll roll
Daddy: “Hey Emma, where ya going?”
Baby: blank stare, but intense eye contact
Daddy: “Come on back.”
Baby: Stares back as if to say, “Screw you dad, I’m Audi 5000” and continues to roll away.
Apparently, and this is my legit advice for new parents, some kids just scootch and roll. Crawling happens around 7 to 10 months of age, but with the new guidelines for keeping kids from sleeping on their stomach there’s a trend for new babies to crawl later or just skip it all together. If you haven’t heard of the Back to Sleep movement initiative thing, it’s all about keeping kids on their backs while they sleep to reduce the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). See what they did there, back to sleep… sleeping on your back. Word play!
Emma’s started rolling onto her tummy when she sleeps. It has Kelly freaked out. I’m mildly concerned, but not worried. Is that bad parenting or have I just settled into being a dad? It’s not like I leave her on her tummy. I flip her like a flapjack if I find her sleeping on her belly. But I used to sleep on my tummy with my bottom up in the air. In yoga that move is aptly named “child’s pose.” It feels great. Try it. Speaking of Yoga and working out-
It’s the holidays. ‘Nuff said.
Well that’s it for this week. Emma’s going to have more guests coming into town to fawn over and dote on her and I’ll be writing all about it. I hope your holidays are warm and festive and thanks for spending a little bit of it with us. If you have any toys that your kids like or that you think are especially great for parents, or any advice for parenting during the holidays let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading and happy parenting!
This is pretty much a stream of consciousness post. You’ve been warned. I keep finding out that more and more people read this, which admittedly , is a little embarrassing. But I’m compelled to keep writing. And drawing my little cartoons. It’s a passion hobby at this point. It’s also a good way for me to look back on my memories of when my baby girl was still a baby. I hope it has some useful tips for new parents or some relatable humor for those who have already been through this stage of parenting.
On with the show.
Lil’ Miss Congeniality
Well, my kid is still alive. Parenting success!!! That’s the goal at this point, right? Keep ‘em alive? Like a goldfish, but with a lot more responsibility and pressure. I have the general maintenance of baby rearing down, but I’m unsure as to how to keep her brain stimulated so she grows up to be a genius. Not being a genius myself I feel ill equipped to raise the next Einstein, which is my secret hope for her. I don’t know why… I just associate that with successful intelligence, which would be awesome for her. I guess that’s what parents want for their kids: to be amazing at life. I don’t really know what I want for her- happiness, obviously. Success, hopefully. The will power and independence to make it in this world without it bringing her down, essentially.
Even if she doesn’t grow up to be some sort of world changing genius figure, which admittedly, is a lot of pressure for a kid, I’m pretty sure she’ll grow up to be a likeable and friendly young woman, despite her current serious disposition. She’s just got one of those smiles that melts hearts. And I can see it in her behavior already, when she wants something she knows how to get it. She doesn’t always start with the demanding cries. She builds up to that. First, a smile. If you’re lucky, a laugh. Then a coo. A chatty, sing songy flow of unintelligible vowels that draws you in and says, “ Hey you… check me out. I’m here, I’m playful, you want to give me attention.”
If that attention she’s craving isn’t received then lil’ miss congeniality starts the hulk out process. The coo gets a little louder and a little meaner and vibes out, “Hey… you WANT to pay attention to me. I promise you you do.”
I try to teach her to be chill and how to kick it on her own for bit so she’s not totally dependent on me, which is a weird goal because she’s 25 weeks old. That’s essentially the whole dynamic of our relationship: she can’t do squat without her parents and we’re there to make sure she stays alive. And other loving parent things. So … dependent. But she needs to be cool once in a while and I’m gonna make sure she learns that. You can’t just go around screaming at people demanding things you want. Normal people don’t do that. If you go around acting like an entitled prick that you’ll end up on some Real Housewives show or as President of the United States. She has to have better goals than that. (Let’s face it, the bar for POTUS has been severely lowered. It’s not as prestigious a position as it once was.) I digress.
New parents, your kids will learn to manipulate you. That’s like the first thing they learn about socializing. You are their testing ground for getting away with crap. Case in point- my Emma knows that I’ll always be there for her and she has a 3 stage cry that ensures that I will.
They are as follows:
Stage 1: “Hey I want your attention”
Stage 2: “…hey? PAY #$@^ING ATTENTION TO ME!”
Stage 3: “THE WORLD IS ENDING AND MY LIFE IS OVER! FATHER WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”
I try to get her to chill out by stage 2. My technique for calming her down is standing there and giving her my “dad look.”
Dad look is basically just stern staring. I learned it from my dad who had astigmatism. His dad look always started with him taking off his glasses and stressing out all the blood vessels in his head so his astigmatism made his eyes bulge super bulgy. It was scary to behold. Later in life I would worry that everytime he did that, and he did it often, he was having a stroke.
So I stand there and essentially look at my daughter like I’m having a stroke. Needless to say she hits stage 3 crying at that point. It may be my own astigmatism that freaks her out or her fear that I’m actually having an attack of some sort, but my dad look fails on a consistent basis to stop her from passing stage 2.
When she’s not crying for me she’s rolling around all over the floor. I took down the walls to her little play mat area we bought her a few weeks back. It’s been amazing. It’s easy to clean, I can build walls with it or keep it totally flat, and it’s kept her from smashing her head into the floor while her neck was still too weak to support it. This new found rolling has led her from the living room to the dining room of our open concept home.
“Come on back Emma. Come to daddy.”
That was my mistake. She knew what I wanted. I wanted her to roll back to the safety of the mat. She knew this. We locked eyes and she knew I knew she knew … and proceeded to roll further away.
I’ve seen my friends kids do this with them, too. “Don’t hit daddy.” SMACK! They just do the opposite of what you want. And they cry. They stand in direct opposition to your goals and they cry. But you love them anyways.
My favorite moments in life are when my daughter decides to eat her meals without any fuss. But it’s not just her pleasant tableside manners that bring me peace, granted that’s most of it. It rips at something in the soul when your kid won’t eat. You don’t want them to starve, obviously. And if they get too skinny someone will notice and the state will come and take them away because of your crap parenting skills. So yeah, when she eats, I mean really eats, not just taking sips from the bottle and then thrashing about like I just fed her broccoli juice, I have a sense of relief and a little flush of pride like I did something right.
These blissful little moments of her doing a solid take at her bottle which bring me so much joy are accompanied by my dog snuggling up to us on the couch, deprived of any extra noise like the tv, phones, and tablets, and followed by Emma passing out from her meal like it’s Thanksgiving Dinner.
In that three minutes of quiet time is where I find my zen place. No amount of impending work or chores can bring me down. Ultimately she wakes up and bursts my quiet little bubble, and we go about our day.
We’ve grown into her other harness this week, which I never thought we’d use. It only has one position and that’s where your baby has to face into you the whole time. I tried it once when I thought she was big enough (as it wasn’t meant for newborns- read the product descriptions, people) and she immediately threw a fit. Was it me? Did I smell? I wore cologne once and she just about blew my eardrums out from screaming, she hated it so much. I mean she went straight to stage 3 crying. Was she too small? Was it the fact that she wanted to face away? I don’t know.
We’ve started something called dream feeding. What is that, you ask? It’s feeding our kid while they’re still asleep in the hopes that they’ll stay asleep through the night instead of waking up hungry at 3 am. Let me tell you how that’s going.
One day Kelly comes to me and says, “Hey have you ever heard of ‘dream feeding'”?
“Nope, duh.” What about me makes you think I would have ever encountered that combination of words in my life? At first I thought she meant dreaming about feeding Emma. “That would never work” I thought. “You can’t just dream about feeding your kid. They’ll die. You need to actually feed them.”
Did she give up on our little family? Was she so tired of pumping that she wanted to retire from the dairy industry and let all our hard work just fade away?
So she explained it to me and we tried it. That night, as we’re preparing to go to bed ourselves, she preps a bottle of formula and walks into the room with a big ol’ grin on her face. She looks at me and whispers “Dreeeeeaaaammmmm feeeeeding”.
She picks up Emma, puts the bottle to her mouth, and my baby, passed out like a freshman on spring break, opens her mouth and begins downing this bottle… like a freshman on spring break. And it worked. She slept through the night.
The next day, though, she didn’t want to eat squat. She wasn’t hungry. She was full from her spring break bottle. Now she needs to drink right before we go to bed and we have trouble feeding her throughout the following day. So here I am …somewhere between 10:30 pm and midnight (depending on my client workload) feeding my baby in my bed.
The Inevitable Pooping of My Bed
Needless to say, when you put new food in, old food has to come out. I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Here I am, dream feeding my baby, which results in a late night blowout, furiously changing the baby and changing my bed sheets. It was the most parenting moment I’ve had so far. I kept my composure, jumped right to the task, and got the poopy sheets in the wash and clean sheets on in record time. Dad skillz. … Kelly helped- Mom skillz.
Dad bod update
I moved the weights and workout bench to the corner of the master bedroom so I would be inclined to work out more often. I have, too. Do I have a routine? Nope. But I’ve done something. Baby steps. Actually, I’m going at my own pace and I think it’s really helping the pinched nerve that’s debilitated the whole upper right quadrant of my body.
We started cooking at home a lot more often, too. We’re trying to stop using the baby as an excuse to cut corners. Yes, it’s harder to get meals cooked on a nightly basis, but we’ve gone back to meal prepping for the week. When Sunday rolls around and Kelly and I are both home to keep Emma from hitting stage 3 crying, we can tag team the cooking. It’s worked so far.
It’s the holidays, though, and Kelly bought me a tin of my favorite Danish butter cookies …so …that’s already gone.
As a result, I’m still pudgy.
I thought I might take a moment to explain this week’s image. It’s me as the Sandman trying to get Emma to go to sleep. Would I actually throw sand in my daughter’s face? …does she deserve it? Wait …NO. NO I wouldn’t. But there she is with sand in her face, hulking out and hitting Stage 3. Do your kids have discernable stages of crying or attention getting? Do you have any clever tricks for helping a fellow parent cope with the yelling? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and happy parenting!
Here we are in week 24. I’ve said to H, E, double hockey sticks with not giving my daughter solid foods. Actually I’m going to plan on saying H, E, double hockey sticks… I haven’t yet. Why not you ask?
I’m not scared of my toothless progeny not being able to handle solid foods. That’s just a mild concern. If she’s anything like her old man then she’ll be able to handle food. That’s when we have a problem; several, actually. Childhood obesity (not for the aesthetics, but for the healthiness of it all), cost- I used to put down 2 entrees at a time at Denny’s and IHOP and it took its toll on my wallet (I don’t expect Emma to down a club sandwich and a lumberjack breakfast in one go like her daddy, but I also don’t want her learning that that’s OK), and competition- when she’s old enough to find my secret stash of snacks I don’t want to have to fight over Oreos in my own home.
What I’m scared of is the whole change in her digestive process. I do about 90% of the diaper changes and I have it on good authority that once solid food is introduced into your child’s diet then you enter a whole new and horrible sphere of hell when they soil themselves. To be clear, my buds who have described this change in their own children to me prefaced the whole dynamic by telling me that baby dookie from a milk and formula only diet doesn’t smell. FREAKING LIES. Baby poop smells at any stage. It’s not like we brought her home on day one and thought to ourselves, “Oh, we can save on air freshener and Febreeze because now we have an endless supply of dirty newborn diapers.” My fear is that if solid food baby poop smells bad enough to make milk and formula baby poop seem odorless then I’m going to be covered in legit dookie for the next 5 to 10ish years. I don’t know… when do kids stop getting poop everywhere? Whenever that happens… that’s how long I’ll have to battle this evolved and hideous dook.
I’m not allowed to give her solids, though, thankfully. It’s not that we’ve heard from the pediatrician and were denied this opportunity. Not in the slightest. That would be amazing if we got a call; we tried to circumvent the whole 5 month limbo I talked about last week where the 5 month milestone of eating solid foods rests between her 4 and 6 month check-ups by calling our pediatrician. They never told us yay or nay about if we could or could not so we were never green lit to go solid. Alas, I can’t feed her solid food because …wife. And as the mother of my child, the oven that baked the bun, my other half, she has a solid say in how we raise Emma and she said “not yet.”
So my kid is still on a liquid diet, but it has to be some sort of amazing milk. I’m talking roided out to the max, get you kicked out of the Olympics good, because my kid is super strong. Despite my wife, or any lady for that matter, making super milk my advice still stands to new and expecting dads and significant others- if your baby mama is nursing do not call her your “prized heffer.” I still haven’t tried it, but I know it would be one of my less well received jokes.
Taking Baby Shopping
This week presented a bit of a nightmare for me. As it’s the beginning of the holiday season I decided to bring Emma Christmas shopping with me, which, I don’t know, was a mistake. Once again we were accosted by the the elderly and my baby thought so little of shopping that she literally poo pooed the whole experience. On the upside, she’s doing a lot better in public; less freakouts, but still, there are some occasions where I think I should have just stayed home. She’s growing up so fast and we’ve stopped using the baby carrier/carseat/stroller combo so she gets to sit up in her stroller like a big girl whilst we’re out and about. She LOVES stink eyeing people; it’s her serious disposition. I love when older women walk up all lovey dovey talking their baby talk to my kid and she just mad dogs them. It results in them a) talking baby talk louder in public in an attempt to make her smile and ultimately b) them taking a step back and saying something like “Oh she’s a serious baby” or “Oh somebody’s grumpy.” No lady, you’re just not as charming as you think you are… now back away.
So we’re out at Costco this week, like we do, and this happens a couple of times. The first time Kelly was there and this Laverne and Shirley looking duo make a b-line right for the stroller. I’m taken aback by this since they approached with such speed and ferocity. I had a bad dad moment. I wanted to whip the stroller around and put myself in a defensive pose between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Emma, but I took a queue from Kelly and observed helplessly as these women descended upon my child, proffering up unsolicited parenting advice. My fave. Kelly knows I hate that and the look she gave me after they resumed their baby-less course told me she knew exactly what I was thinking. I should have stopped them in their path and I feel like I punked out a little bit.
Afterwards, I needed to shop without Kelly since she gets a gift this year, too. My solo experience with Emma being fawned over by strangers wasn’t as bad. Let me preface by saying that I dress differently now-a-days than I used to. I wasn’t necessarily “thugged out”, but I was into a lot of angst alt rock as a kid and some of that style sticks with you. Ya gotta love the 90s. Sometimes, when my wife isn’t around, I slip back into that fashion sense. I don’t have the baggy ripped cargo shorts anymore since Kelly spent 6 or so years trying to get me to throw them out.
What is it with not liking cargo shorts? They have a purpose. Why do women hate pockets? Y’all have these tiny pockets in your own pants barely big enough for an oreo, complain about it, and then try to strip men of their extra pockets. What’s up with that? Pocket envy that is. If I still had my baggy cargo shorts I wouldn’t need to carry around the diaper bag!
Anywho, on this occasion I dressed a little like I did back in the day- shorts, rugged looking kicks, and a baggy black hoodie (courtesy of my lady I might add.) Only this time I have a baby and a beard. I’ve come to realize that in today’s political climate a tan man with a beard isn’t necessarily perceived as your friendly neighborhood hipster barista. On the contrary, I get more looks like I’m about to cause an incident with an incendiary device rather than make you a latte with a perfectly pulled shot of espresso and expertly foamed milk. And the lady who approached Emma this time took notice of me just a little too late. As she approached like a ravenous hyena, she reached out for my child. Without Kelly there to temper my reactions, I recoiled and withdrew the stroller from her grasp. Then she noticed me… the unabomber looking ambiguously Hispanic, maybe Middle Eastern dude who’s probably never perceived as either Italian or Filipino and obviously jumped the border illegally to be here. Then she recoiled. Emma must have been mad dogging her, because she backed away mumbling something about a serious baby and how she wished she was a grandma.
Leaving the store I thought I’d stop by Kelly’s work to grab some lunch with her. “What a nice husband!” THANKS! So I ring her and set up a date, but her lunch is still like 45 minutes out. So I have time to kill and shopping to do, why not go to the mall? Good idea. Wrong. The parking garage at our local mall has the TINIEST parking spots. And as it’s December it was crowded with holiday shoppers. Horrible, greedy holiday shoppers. So after 15 minutes of pulling off a 30 point turn, I squeeze Emma out of the car through the tiniest space between me and a double parked douche only to feel something wet on her back.
What was it, Chris?
She had a blow-out, so we went right back through the tiny car chasm, into her car seat, and on to the tantrum that accompanies someone being made to sit in their own doo doo. It was screaming like you’ve never heard. On occasions like this I usually just go home. With a tear in my eye I called Kelly and canceled our lunch. Driving home Emma’s screaming became horribly, terrifyingly, panicked and louder than I’ve ever heard her cry. So much so that I pulled over to check on her and wound up changing her diaper in the trunk. Afterwards she was all giggles and I called my wife to let her know lunch is back on!
En route the screaming starts up again and this time it was hunger. I didn’t bring enough bottles to make it through a spontaneous lunch with my lady so I called her up and canceled again. Swipe left, huh? And that’s my first Christmas shopping experience with my baby.
To clarify, Kelly and I aren’t big on gift giving. A few years back, we took a page from our friend’s book and decided to stop giving “things” to each other and spend the money we would have spent on gifts on experiences and trips instead. It’s a hard change in a sense, considering that we’ve grown-up and continue to live in a consumerism driven society where a good deal of self worth and validation comes from material objects. But it’s great to know that we’re getting out, seeing new things, and living life. Plus, my wife is super hard to shop for and super hard to surprise. Since we have a joint Amazon account and a joint bank account it’s pretty hard to buy anything without the other person knowing. If I look up, oh say, a slingshot that shoots arrows on Amazon (it’s a thing) then Google, Facebook, Amazon, and big brother internet at large, flood her online feeds with ads for slingshots that shoot arrows (look it up).
Since it’s Emma’s first Christmas in the new house, though, I wanted to have presents under the tree. So I suggested that maybe this year we be a little materialistic and get gifts. Nothing expensive, just some stuff to open on Christmas morning. But my wife is still hard to shop for because she doesn’t want anything. Or she doesn’t want for anything; as part of the shrinking American middle class (which I’m not sure we are if you consider crippling student loan debt) we have everything and anything we could need or want at our fingertips. If you don’t have cash you have credit. If you can’t leave your house you can order online. It’s kind of gross, if you think about it.
Our deepest desires for each other aren’t things that can be packaged and shipped, though. We want stuff like reaching our fitness goals, will power, a healthy lifestyle and outlook on life, wicked time management skills, time together. And sure, you can buy books and equipment that claim they can help you achieve all that, but really it’s just more consumerism dressed up as a helpful means to an end. Anyway, we already have too much in my opinion. That being said, if we need something we buy it. So we don’t need anything when gift giving occasions come around.
But Emma needs stuff! She’s outgrowing clothes left and right and her books and toys seem old- to me.
Boring Daddy/Digital Daddy
I’m at a point right now where I’m not sure if my child is entertained enough and I’m starting to think that I’m boring. We read, we play, we eat and nap, but for me, it’s the same old stuff. It’s a sort of routine, but is SHE bored? I’ve read all her books to her, but she only chews on them. I’ve played with all her stuffed animals with her, but she only eats the faux fur. We do tummy time and practice sitting up on her own and maybe, hopefully crawling soon. But is it enough? Also, I think I might have as much separation anxiety as she does. If I put her down she screams. If she’s not screaming I think something’s wrong and rush to her side.
Friends have told me it’s when you don’t hear your kids that you worry the most and that’s totally true. If I’m being absolutely honest, though, all the noise is bit of a downer. Here I am caught between a loud place and feeling totally boring.
So this week I turned to the kids programming available through our cable provider for help. It’s this bright over-saturated world of animated kids songs on demand. And it’s blowing my mind. Emma loves it, but like I discussed last week I’m trying to limit how digital her home life is going to be. I even took the leap and bought a companion device. Not the Light Phone or some other secondary tiny phone. I gots me a smart watch with a speaker phone in it. I’ve already reduced my phone usage by like 1000%. The nice thing about the holidays are all the sales and the new Samsung Galaxy Watch was available at a huge discount. So, since we’re part of the shrinking American middle class with crippling student loan debt, I bought it of course, and it really has changed everything! It has a timer app so I can track how long her naps are or how long her bottle has been in the warmer. It also stores and plays music so I loaded some lullabies on it and can play them softly right behind her head as I cradle her to sleep. I can take calls and text without Emma even looking at it. That’s huge for me; there was a point where I swear I was texting or something dumb with my phone and out of the corner of my eye I caught Emma looking down at the phone in my hand and then looking up at me with a little feeling of neglect in her eye. Worst feeling ever.
Amazeballs doesn’t even come close to describing how useful it has been for, ironically, decreasing the amount of tech in Emma’s life. Now when she cries for food or a nap I’m not fumbling with a phone to set up music or a timer.
The Switch-a-roo, Nap Time, and the Sleepy Time BFG.
Speaking of crying, she’s started crying for different reasons now and sadly, my new smart watch isn’t smart enough to make her stop. I mean, crying from being hangry is a constant, but other than this week’s blow out she’s switched it up a bit. Whenever she would soil herself we knew because she would let us know in no uncertain terms that she needed a clean diaper. Screams and tears definitely accompanied a smell, despite what people say about newborn poopies. She doesn’t seem to mind doing her business that much anymore. What sets her off now that she’s all alert and curious is her hatred of sleeping. When before she would sleep without a fuss, now she fights and screams if she gets a little drowsy. So she’s gone from crying everytime she pooped and passing out without a fight to pooping with a certain amount of joy and crying when she’s about to sleep. Is that normal? Should I be concerned? I mean, I understand not crying when you have a decent BM, who doesn’t, am I right?! Lately, to help stem her crying and fits I’ve been reduced to a carnival ride when it’s time for her naps. I’m either walking her around in the daddy saddle like a Big Friendly Giant or I’m loading her up in the car for a little nap time drive. I’m a little concerned about her falling asleep with either method because her head always tilts forward and I don’t know if she’s falling asleep ooooor blacking out because her head’s so heavy that she’s putting herself in a sleeper hold. I don’t want her pulling an elephant man and just clocking out by letting her gigantic head slump too far into her chest. Plus, there was just a story about how a child passed away when a daycare left her/him to sleep in their carseat for too long. I check on her when she falls asleep this way to make sure she’s breathing. I had to do this with my grandma when she got super old. You just walk in on a situation where they’re blacked out and you look for the chest or belly to be going up and down or you creep close and feel for breath under their nose. Getting caught that close to someone’s face is always weird no matter if they’re the elderly or an infant. They always look at you like “WTF, dude?” Is it safe? Do you let your kids fall asleep in the car seat? I’ll ask her pediatrician what we should do at her next visit.
As a friendly reminder, though, always read the safety instructions on your kid’s stuff.
Dad Bod Update
I’m still pudgy.
People Read This?
I recently found out that more people than my five friends read this. That’s awesome! I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to learn about my family and my journey as a stay-at-home dad. It means a lot! I wish I didn’t write about my daughter’s poops so much, now, but I’m stoked for the audience. As always, if you have any advice for my particular dilemmas feel free to comment below or on social media and as always happy parenting.
There was an issue where the post from last week was sent out a couple of times. I think the problem was from using the WordPress app and WordPress in a browser. It’s all very technical, I don’t want to bore you with it, but we think we solved it and the interwebs should be all good now. We apologize to anyone who may have subscribed for any misleading and confusing posts. And a special thanks to my father-in-law for giving me a heads up every time it happened.
(If you’re not interested in my working life skip this part.)
I’ve always wanted to do one of those “this is how I work” posts that I read about on tech and life hacking blogs. They always have some cool editor or globe trotting journalist talking about their working habits, tips for staying productive, and the cool tech they use to get the job done when they’re stuck in some hellish commute in some romanticized, overly crowded city. How I envy them. Truth be told, I used to live in big cities, had a hellish commute, and just stared at my phone the whole time. Being stuck on a train for an hour to go nine miles is not romantic. I guess I never took to city life. I could never see myself having a family and raising kids in a place like NYC. Luckily for me, given my penchant for road rage and distaste for large crowds and pickpockets, we live in a small town. Life is calmer, but how is the career now with a baby? How’s the working life of a stay at home dad/illustrator?
Well let’s explore.
Raising Emma is my first and main job. It’s essentially all the positions you need to run a hotel all rolled into one. During the day I’m the manager, the receptionist, the cleaner, the plumber and maintenance crew, the chef, the bellhop… I’m everything. Then when Kelly is home she can be everything because I sneak off for a long break that leaves her saying, “where the hell is that guy? It’s only a fifteen minute break!” (She’ll never know where I sneak off to..)
So my days are eventful… and very full.
I’m really just trying to keep up with Emma’s development since it seems like she grows into new habits and new developmental stages each week. Once you think you have her figured out she up and jukes ya. One constant that I can bank on is her nap time. That’s when I try to get some work in. I’ll either tackle client work, this blog, personal projects, or try to manage the constant disarray which comes with having a baby and has consumed our home.
Mainly, in regards to professional illustration, I work at night. Sometimes I lose sleep and sometimes I dread going to sleep because I know I’ll be up in 45 minutes when Emma needs to be fed or changed. Oh, holy crap, btw, night time changings are the devil.
La Scenario Del Diablo
Here’s a scenario- your baby has a wet diaper, you can feel the weight as the diaper sags off of their tiny tuchas, what’s more, you can smell it. Now, most parents have an instinctual urge to keep their children clean and for me that kicks in with a fury when I get a whiff of the dookies. So now you have to change your kid’s diaper, but you also know that if you go to change them they’ll wake up screaming bloody murder and they won’t go back down for another hour. That’s another hour that you’re awake in the middle of the damn night and you really like to sleep because you don’t get a lot of it.
I’ve never had a hidden addiction or a vice that would ever get me on that show Intervention; nothing I’ve ever had to hide from my family and sneak off to enjoy. If I did, though, it would probably be sleep. There’s no greater feeling than the way I feel when everyone one else is asleep, I finally put the baby down where she’ll stay down for the night, and I slowly creep through the house, double check the locks, and finally crawl into bed and await the warm embrace of slumber. I am dead to the world when I sleep. If I get more than five straight hours I feel like I’ve won the lottery.
That being said, I also have obligations to my clients, so sometimes I don’t get to sleep.
Back to Work
When I started working from home I got myself a nice set up, I did. I recreated the the old workstations I had when I was an in-house artist for various studios- a really strong desktop, big @$$ Wacom Cintiq, and a dual monitor setup. Only this time I got myself a good strong, gaming PC that won’t buckle under pressure because I do a bit of animation, too. I also set up a very respectable studio space in the new house and it’s done up to the nines. I’m surrounded by all my reference books, art, degrees, toys, and a nice mini bar with seating for clients and friends. What’s it like spending my days in this amazing space you ask? I couldn’t tell you, I don’t have any daytime to myself.
During the day the majority of my work is done on one of two devices- my phone or my tablet. I’m a big Samsung fanboy and have been a huge geek for their S Pen since it came out because it uses Wacom tech to operate. From these devices I’m emailing clients, researching, getting some preliminary sketches done, tracking hours, sending invoices, chasing down payments, and of course taking calls. I even get to write this blog and do my weekly doodles from the comfort of my companion devices. Well, it’s more convenient than anything. They let me multitask while I’m caring for Emma. I can be in the same room when she’s sleeping, playing… that’s it. She sleeps and she plays. She eats, too, and I can feed her while I’m emailing or making calls.
I do try to keep that to a minimum, though, because I don’t want her learning bad habits or growing up wanting to spend all her time on phones and gadgets, it’s apparently unhealthy for children. Plus, I really want to spend quality time with her. I don’t want her seeing me pay more attention to a phone than to her. In fact, I’ve really considered decreasing the amount of tech in our life so Emma isn’t completely surrounded by it at home. The phone is a big problem as it’s my sketchbook. I’m always on it and not necessarily sketching. I’ve wanted to switch to a Light Phone or a companion phone that limits the amount of time I’m staring at a screen by simply offering me less to do with my phone. That’s partly why I got a desktop instead of a Surface or a laptop- I don’t want to bring my work everywhere I go. Unfortunately, when you run a business, and in the case of being an artist where you are your business, you can’t stay disconnected during the working hours of the day. I’ve actually lost a client because, despite the quality of work, I wasn’t as available as they wanted. Luckily, word of mouth and social media have actually found me more work than I would have imagined, which is good and bad. I’ve ended up prefacing all my deals with the fact that I’m a stay-at-home dad and pull my 40 hours a week in the early mornings, at night, and on weekends. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t have Kelly, though. In fact, I couldn’t do a lot of stuff without my wife. I’d probably be a troll living under a bridge right now if it wasn’t for her and Emma.
23 weeks or 5 months… something like that
Speaking of which, Emma is an old lady now! She’s got that Benjamin Button disease…
Nah, she’s 23 weeks old and amazeballs. She looks so different and more grown up every time I look at her. She’s almost crawling. She has all the pieces she needs; she can prop herself up on her arms and reach out (for toys), scootch, pull her legs underneath her and push them back out. Everything’s there, she just needs to put it all together. Sometimes I feel like a Russian gymnastics coach for the Olympics. I’ve instituted regular tummy time so she can become more mobile, which I’m told, is something that I don’t really want. I can see that. She’ll be going places and it’ll be hard to keep an eye on her… but it might give me some reprieve from carrying her everywhere. I don’t know. I’m new at this so I’m probably getting it wrong.
She should also be on solid foods by now, according to the experts. Kelly and I are waiting for our pediatrician to give us the OK, though. Here’s the weird thing about waiting for the pediatrician to green light solid foods: your baby has a 4 month check up and a 6 month check up so they can get their shots.
VACCINES, PEOPLE, OR WE’LL ALL DIE OF THE MUMPS!
Well, what about all the milestones in month 5 like grown up human food?! Huh? Am I just supposed to figure it out on my own? I can’t do that! Example- Kelly’s parents told us how they dissolved puffed rice cereal into her milk to help fill her up. I said, “Like Rice Krispies?”
No, wrong, dumb.
They have puffed rice cereal just for babies, apparently. I would have been pouring bowls of Rice Krispies for my kid thinking everything was fine. How many adults who don’t have experience with baby food know about this mysterious Rice Krispies Jr.?
Am I psychic? Are my cartoons premonitions?
I’ve had a revelation- I’m partially psychic. Or my cartoons are psychic. I might have a super power. Last week I drew a strip where Emma grabs Shinobi’s ear and she yelps. Well 2 nights after that post that literally happened to us. We were just sitting on the couch, Emma on my lap, Nobi on her blanket next to me and all of a sudden this very sad and pathetic whine started to grow. Shinobi didn’t bark, growl, or nip at Emma… she just sat there and sadly whined at us. It kind of intoned, “Are you serious with this right now? Why me? Pay attention and fix this situation because my life is really crappy right now. PLEASE GET THIS KID OFF MY EAR. PLEEEEAASE!”
It broke my heart, but it was a teachable moment. Emma got another lesson in good touch/bad touch, which I’m sure stuck with her considering her excellent grasp of the English language, or as I like to call it “American.” And as it turns out, since Shinobi didn’t bite back, we don’t have to kabob her. Not an edible pet. That’s good news for the family.
I’ve also been drawing Emma grabbing my beard. I thought it was funny, you know, for the pictures. It’s now a reality.
Now that I might have a super power or magic drawing abilities Kelly wants me to draw other things that might become a reality. So I’m drawing us having hit our health goals. I might draw me in a jetpack or with a really cool sword riding a winged tiger and a like a Viking braid in my beard with a wicked little skull bead. That would rock.
Ow, my beard
Speaking of beards, thank God I started proper beard maintenance or I’d look like Mr. Clean. My little girls favorite thing is to grab two big handfuls of beard and yank my face around like she’s driving a car. It’s funny until it hurts. Oh, and if she grabs the stache part it’s all over. Daddy cries. It does have its uses, though. I’m the fuzzy face in the house and I think my beard has become a symbol of comfort and something familiar for her. I came to this conclusion after a few nights of rocking her to sleep. Sometimes, when she’s fighting how tired she really is, she’ll reach up and caress my beard. She won’t look at me, she’ll just close her eyes, snuggle into the nook of my elbow, and reach up and pet my beard. It melts my heart every damn time and I feel like a good dad.
That’s it for this week. I’m off to train my kid to crawl. Thanks for reading and Happy Parenting.
You’re 5 months old… maybe learn some independence?
I started writing this really early on in the week to avoid coming down to the wire, but it seems that my baby had other plans for my time. As I type, it’s Thanksgiving Day and I am indeed thankful for all the great many blessings in my life. Though, since I’ve only had an hour of sleep because Emma decided that last night, the eve of a holiday which would allow us to sleep in, was the perfect night to stay up and cry, I’m finding it hard to feel thankful. Despite not feeling it at the moment due to exhaustion, I am very thankful.
Emma hit the 5 month mark and things were going rather smooth. Well, we had a loose and adaptable routine that was in a constant state of flux. I guess, by definition, that’s not really a routine. It’s more chaos theory than anything. What I’m mistaking for routine is the fact that my daughter still eats, sleeps, and dookies every day and I still assist in facilitating these events for her. So “routine”.
5 months for a baby is a crazy, adorable time for learning how to control people. She’s so damn attentive and learning to manipulate me like a Sicilian mother. I know… I have one. She’s at this point where all she wants is to be held. All. The. Time. I think she’s going through a bit of separation anxiety. I’ve tried being rude so she doesn’t want to hang around me, but that hasn’t worked. All the expert advice says that she needs to learn “object permanence.” That is to say that every time I walk away and she can’t see me that I haven’t stopped existing. If I’m out of sight she freaks. If I walk into the room she raises her arms as if to say, “UP! UP! UP!” If she could speak I’m sure that’s what she’d be saying. For someone so bossy I think it’s time she starts to learn some independence. Needless to say I pick her up and hold her… a lot. So much so that my doctor thinks I’ve hyper-extended my shoulder from picking her up incorrectly. Maybe so. Lump another ailment under my dad bod syndrome. We’ve ended up trying to teach her object permanence by playing peek a boo. I don’t know of it works, but it makes her laugh and that just makes my day. My mom, coincidentally, bought her an animatronic stuffed elephant that covers its eyes with its ears and plays peek a boo, too. Toys like these are a great distraction for your kid you so you can surf the web, write a scathing Yelp review about your old apartment complex, or type out your blog. It’s pretty brilliant and has already helped me out with calming her tantrums. It also sings “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” which has three verses. I didn’t know it had three verses. Did you?
Emma’s growing attentiveness and curiosity means that she’s grabbing at things and ramming them in her face like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Her favorite thing to do is eat cloth. Her appetite is piqued by anything made of cloth or faux fur. After a while of her sucking on a burp rag she pokes her tongue out like a little snail coming out its shell. That’s when I know the cotton mouth has really set in. I don’t think it’s healthy. Now a majority of my day is spent taking rags away from her and swapping them out for binkies, which she throws across the floor. It seems that silicone is out this season and fur is all the rage.
The Good Touch, The Bad Touch, The Dog Meat
Speaking of which, she’s become super curious about our dog, Shinobi. Shinobi is 50% Dachshund, 50% Beagle, and 100% a clingy, neurotic, paranoid pup that suffers from separation anxiety as well. She’s freaking smart to boot. You can’t get ready to leave the house without her panicking over the fact that she’s going to be left behind. I mean you sit up in bed and put one foot on the floor with the intent of going out 2 hours later and she starts shaking like an old washing machine on the fritz. Well my smart, manipulative baby has found my smart, spastic dog and she’s in love. If they’re anywhere near each other Emma stops what she’s doing and tracks that dog like Varuka Salt trying to capture an Oompa Loompa. I like to joke that it’s the tasty temptation of dog meat that’s awakened a more primal aspect of her Asian heritage.
To be clear, I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten dog meat, but I have sat down at tables full of scary ethnic meals at large family gatherings on my dad’s side. If you’re eating at a table where one of the dishes still has its eyes and face and is looking at you you might just happen across an edible pet.
Gross food aside, my daughter’s intrigue with our dog has presented us with some teachable moments like “good touch, bad touch”. There’s not a whole lot of coordination at this age so it’s all just grabbing and shaking. I’m sure my dog will lose an ear if I let them near each other any time soon. She’d probably react like dogs due and nip at the baby… at which point, if you came to my house that night for dinner you might come across an edible pet.
She’s also grabbing my beard more and for a baby she’s pretty strong.
My Glorious Beard
Ever since Emma was born I feel that my beard has become thicker and more beautiful. I used to suffer from the sparse patchy facial hair that a lot of my Filipino kinfolk suffer from. My whole life my face has had its own culture war- there’s an Italian guy in there trying to grow an amazing beard and there there’s a mischievous little Filipino hacking away at the growth leaving blank patches of skin like a lazy landscaper. Becoming a father has really helped keep that guy at bay and as a result my beard is lush and thick like my own personal face jungle.
Or it could be that I started properly grooming it with beard oils, waxes, and balms. If you or someone you know suffers from a spotty beard where the white trash just grows in like Joe Dirt send them this as a gift. If that doesn’t work maybe they need to have some kids?
Well, it’s Thanksgiving and while sometimes it’s hard to be thankful for the things you have like a beautiful baby while she’s screaming in your face at the top of her lungs, just remember that nothing good ever came easy. For all the tears and heartache I don’t think I’d trade any of it if it meant that I’d never have my little girl, never got to rock her to sleep or hear her laugh, or watch her grow up and change my life.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy parenting.
Just because you can’t see me doesn’t me I’ve vanished… oh wait.. maybe it does.
(Translation: Screw you guys! Feed my face! Clean my dookies! ATTEND TO ME, SERVANTS!)
That’s a literal conversation I’ve had several times with Kelly.
Sleep? What’s Sleep?
What is it like to sleep through the night? It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten. My daughter wakes up every night, like clockwork, hungry as a shark with a wet diaper that adds like another 10 lbs to her when picked up. SHE’S SO DAMN HEAVY NOW. She’s been getting heavier this whole time but I’m not getting any stronger. My buddy had a kid way before I did and he described the first three months of raising a new baby and not getting enough sleep like constantly walking through water. I took that to mean that moving was slow and getting around was a bit more difficult. We’re going on 5 months soon and we’ve hit colic 2.0 and I’m basically a freaking zombie.
We’re pretty frugal people, my wife and I. We don’t feel the need to upgrade our phones, computers, and TV every year despite the barrage of ads and commercials making my current tech seem dated, and thus making me feel dated, unhip, and out of touch. We like to save our money so we can invest in things that last, like a nice bed. Beds should last like 20-25 years, right? We spend a good deal of our lives in them so why not spoil ourselves with a bit of luxury if it’s not going to be outdated in the next 6 months? So we did; we bought a Tempur-Pedic and an adjustable base that vibrates and inclines, reclines, declines, Calvin Klein…. All the clines. It’s great. Buying it was one of the best decisions of our lives and we can’t wait to pay it off and get the title from Wells Fargo so it can become a family heirloom. The only bad thing about the bed is that I have to share it.
Like, not with my wife. That’s fine. She’s more than welcome. No. I have to share it with the whole family. When we got our puppy she would not, for the life of me, take to her kennel training. She was a rescue and the family she was with before us let her sleep in their bed. As a result, she would whine through the whole night. Out of desperation we let her out of her little puppy prison to sleep with us in our bed.
Cuddles and snuggles of any kind went right out the window. Human on human snuggles, anyway. My pup likes to get right up next to us when we sleep, preferring the back side like she’s the big spoon. Have you ever been spooned by a 15 lb animal? It’s weird. She just hangs out like a fanny pack.
Once she established herself as a permanent fixture in our bed she started stretching out- full leg extensions right into my back, shoving me to the edge of a king size mattress. And if I move she has the gall to growl at me! I’m still paying off this bed, who are you to growl at ME!? But that’s our fur baby and she’s spoiled.
Fast forward to today. Emma is going on 21 weeks and Kelly let her sleep in our bed. She put the baby right in the middle of our king size memory foam mattress and turned the vibration on, essentially guaranteeing that we will never get her to sleep anywhere else… EVER AGAIN.
In her defense, just like the long nights trying to train our puppy, she was desperate for some peace and quiet and looking for anything that would appease our little adorable cry baby.
Emma has two beds- a crib and a bassinet. She never uses the crib to sleep in because we co-sleep. That is, she sleeps in our room and will until she’s six months old or learns to roll back to front and front to back. It’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics so your child doesn’t die in their sleep. I think it’s from SIDS or just rolling over onto their face and not knowing that the air goes in that way.
Does she use any of those beds, though? No. To boot, she’s started fighting us when it’s time for a nap or time for bed. I mean, she is screaming up a storm, twisting and contorting her body like she’s had some really bad Indian food and she knows the diaper won’t hold it.
No, she’s a fighter. So we have to tag team each night like the championship belt is on the line. We bust out the white noise, a warm bottle, a binky, and get to rocking in the glider in a pitch black room. It takes about half an hour but she eventually fades and we walk her to her bassinet like we just won WWII.
But we know that at 2 am she’s going to wake up. She’s going to be hungry. And she’s going to be pissed- literally and figuratively. The difference now, since she’s had a taste of the good life, is that she won’t go back down in her bassinet. Nope. No sir. She will fake sleep repeatedly until we put her in our bed, where she proceeds to sleep with her arms up next to her head like a Muay Thai fighter. God forbid there’s a sudden noise or jostle of the bed because those little fists will fly out and hit anyone and anything while she remains dead asleep. If you’re going to hit me in the side of the head at least have enough respect to be awake when you do it.
There’s no way she’s going to go back to sleep in her bassinet. I’ve felt the padding. It’s essentially cardboard with two-ply paper towel as cushioning. No, it’s not gonna happen. It’s memory foam and I’m pretty sure they call it that because you will never forget how #$@%ing good it feels.
Now here I am… sharing a bed with my wife (obviously), my dog, and my baby. You can’t sleep with a baby in the bed. My wife and I stay up like it’s a game of chicken, making sure the other one doesn’t roll over onto her. We never would, but that crap happens; I saw it on the news once. It was tragic. To avoid this, we both scootch to our respective edges of the bed, stare at each other in the dark like creepers making sure the other doesn’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep on the baby. All the while, our puppy is curled up at Emma’s feet, growling at me as I jostle her awake when my baby sucker punches me in the back of the head.
On a side note, I couldn’t be happier because Emma and our pup, Shinobi, are becoming very aware of each other. Shinobi has become super protective and I just want to share a very proud experience of mine. We had some blinds installed in the new house and the guy who was doing the install had to come into the master bedroom where Emma and Shinobi were chilling on the bed… because they’re spoiled little princesses. Well, as soon as this guy walks into the room Shinobi starts growling and barking, gets up, stands between him and Emma and proceeds to stand over Emma and then lay at her feet when she’s decided that the threat has passed. I’m so proud and I can’t wait for their adventures together.
I wrote a poem about my situation and figured I’d illustrate it. Enjoy. And as always, happy parenting.