Category Archives: Illustration

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Please and Thank You, Camera Man

Good Manners

“PEAS!” “TANK OOO!” “BESHY!” 

My daughter is now saying please, thank you, and bless you! The best part is that she’s using them correctly. We get a lot of “beshy” around the house because it’s that time of year when everyone is sick because my wife works at a hospital and my daughter goes to daycare. Germs just kind of hang around our house. My wife, bless her soul, gets the sniffles like it’s nobody’s business … and she should keep that business private if you ask me… and my daughter is a fountain of never ending boogies so I’m saturated in seasonal disease. I’m as sneazy as a bubble boy in a hay field and Emma is Johnny-on-the-spot, always ready to say “beshy.”

It always catches me off guard when she says it because it means that she’s kind of conversational now. It also means that she has at least some understanding of social and conversational cues (which is more than most adults I meet these days) and that now I have to really watch what I say around her or “beshy” will turn into “ooo dish bish ray heer.”

Then there’s “peas” and “tank ooo”. She loves peas but I’m pretty sure that’s not what she’s saying.

I feel like a bad parent, but I don’t think we taught her to say “please.” I mean, I say it to my wife and she says it to me and we always follow up with a thank you because we’re nice people. Well, we’re nice to each other… most of the time. But we’ve never sat down and said to Emma, “Hey kid… say please when you ask us for something” or “HEY… I just did you a solid so now you say ‘thank you’… or you can start changing your own diapers.”

So where did she learn it? I’d like to think that she’s learning it by observation, but she’s probably picking it up at daycare.

I fear this is just the start of a whole mess of things she’s going to learn from other people. Next thing you know she’ll be vaping on the corner with the cool kids, then starting yoga in park for the homeless until she runs off to join the Scientologists. Gross.

At least she’ll have good manners.

(Editor’s note: I’ve been corrected. My wife says we taught her “please”. “Thank you” she randomly started saying one day after school. So now I feel like a bad parent for forgetting.)

SUV- Super Uber Vehicle

We recently purchased a “family” vehicle. I had one, mind you. It was a 4 door sedan which I purchased knowing that I would ask Kelly to marry me, that she would say yes, and we would eventually have a well mannered child who would use the rear two doors on a regular basis.

I’m not saying I’m psychic, but….

Anywho, over time I paid off my car, used it to move across the country… twice, and when Emma was born, used it to bring her home from the hospital for the first time. It was a great car. Reliable, good looking (considering what I could get on an illustrator’s salary), and mine. Sadly, we outgrew it. We needed more out of a vehicle. More space for people and things and more room to spread out in. So I did what I said I’d never do and bought an SUV. 

Scholars claim that the meaning of SUV has been lost to time, but I’ve learned that it means “Super Uber Vehicle” … because I’m basically an Uber driver and my SUV is a super vehicle. See how I mansplained that?

Well, now that I’ve switched to the dark side I can’t turn back. I’ve gone completely “’merica” over my oversized ride. I’m now that guy with the super bright LED headlights who blind you at night. And they’re brand spanking new so you know retinas are being burnned out left and right.

Driving it home on our first night somebody even flashed their brights at me like I had MY brights on. I had to flash my own brights just to make sure I didn’t and I vaporized the car in front of us.

But the real reason we got it was safety. It’s big, sturdy, looks like it can take more of a hit than my Elantra and has a gajillion cameras. I mean, it tells me if I’m drifting lanes, shows me video of all angles around the car, and magically has a top down view of the car when I’m in reverse… like I have my own satellite looking down on me all the time. I feel like Tony Stark, this thing is so teched out!!! And my family is safe(r)…

Smile, you’re on TV

Speaking of safety and cameras, we added video surveillance to our house. Do I feel unsafe? No. But I have a daughter now and I’m over protective.

Scrap that, I’m just protective enough.

The world is scary, especially when you’re a parent. You always have to look after someone who doesn’t necessarily have their own best interests or safety in mind. 

Candy from strangers? You should have seen Emma on Halloween. If I wasn’t there she would have never found her way home. So I ate her candy to teach her a lesson… and I’ll do it again every year until she realizes what’s going on, dammit.

Her safety is my main concern, though, and it’s a good thing I put those cameras up because I just found out the other day that there might be a boy in her class with a little crush.

Too Young to Date

Yes… I know she’s only 17 months old… but it feels like she was born yesterday. I get the feeling that she’s really popular at her daycare. She’s always waving to people and we’ve seen the other kids saying “Emma Emma Emma” as we’ve come to pick her up. 

It might be the name. It’s super easy for toddlers to say. I mean it’s so close to “mamma” that it just rolls off the tongue for them. 

So now there are little boys walking up saying “Emma!” One morning as we were dropping her off a little boy… I don’t know his name… runs up and was like “Emma!” 

Which I took to mean, “Hey girl, where you been?! I missed you. You wanna play blocks?” and he proceeded to hug her.

Now, I was halfway out the door and as I turned to say my last goodbye I saw this happen. OH NUH UH, KID! You don’t go huggin’ my daughter. I’m not even in the parking lot yet and you’re trying to share sippies with my progeny?! No way. My daughter is way too nice. 

If she didn’t go around saying “PEAS!” and “TANK OOO” all the time and being so nice maybe boys will just leave her alone. …Being a dad is hard.

So, yeah… cameras around the house. Cameras around the car. Cameras everywhere that call me whenever someone starts to creep up on my kid. The name of the game is safety, people… safety.

That’s it for now. As always Happy Parenting… and tell your kids my daughter won’t be dating till she’s 30.


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This Little Piggy

What are the “Terrible Twos”? Why am I asking a question online that’s not in a Google search? What’s going to replace my child’s obsession with Baby Shark? 

Who knows?

I’ve been told the terrible twos happen when your kid turns two and all hell breaks loose. Like someone flips a switch and your kid goes on a year long rampage to destroy everything in your life, rip apart your sanity, and ultimately break you like Ivan Drago going up against Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. 

I’ve also been told that this is wrong.

The terrible twos, according to some, is a two year period between the ages of 1 to 3 where your toddler starts to behave like someone flipped a switch and now they’re on a rampage to destroy everything in your life, rip apart your sanity, and ultimately break you like Ivan Drago going up against Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. 

I’ll Google it once I’m done writing this. You should, too, because this isn’t an informative post. It’s a post about nothing… like Seinfeld. Seinfeld did well. Maybe this blog will do well. Meh.

Anywho, not much changes on a weekly basis with my kid. I mean she comes home dirty from day care each day and we clean her. Then she goes back to school… rinse and repeat. That’s as much change as we’ve had since last week. 

When I started writing about my experiences as a parent nobody told me that the exponential growth your child undergoes in their first year of life starts to slow and creep along like old people driving to the Corner Bakery on a Sunday morning for their overpriced scramby eggs and bacon. It leaves me here twiddling my thumbs, vis-à-vis my blog post.

But, as an illustrator and an aspiring word smythe I am not without a back up plan. I wrote a quick little modern adaptation of “This Little Piggy” for Emma depicting some of today’s most popular trends. I hope you enjoy it and as always, Happy Parenting.

…also, I realized that when I started this blog I was reaching out to other parents, specifically other stay-at-home dads in search of some way to meet people. Well, that didn’t really pan out. A) Don’t try to meet strangers on the internet. That’s just never safe. B) I’m already spilling my life to everyone in these posts. Do they really need to reach out and insert themselves into some dude’s life while he’s trying to raise a baby? C) I’m pretty sure only my wife and our parents read this… and my wife only proof reads this so my typos and poor grammar don’t go out into the world and embarrass her. That being said, if you’re reading this and you’re not my or my wife’s parents then “Happy Parenting” might not apply to you. 

I’m not going to stop writing it, though. It’s my “Stay Classy San Diego” and a sort of mantra at this point. Whenever Emma starts to behave like someone flipped a switch and she’s on a rampage to destroy everything in my life, rip apart my sanity, and ultimately break me like Ivan Drago going up against Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV, I just whisper to myself… “Happy Parenting.”

Now enjoy “This Little Piggy” 🙂


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Week 33: How Touching! (or Holding Hands With a Circus Monkey)

The Power of Touch

I should have titled this section “The Power of Physical Contact” or“The Power of Physicality” or something that sounds smart and more clinical. Touch- I feel like that has a weird connotation in today’s society. How many people do you touch on a daily basis? SEE!? That sounds weird to ask!

What I mean is, how much physical interaction do you get with people? Is it a few handshakes? Some fist bumps? A couple of awkward bro-hugs where you go in tough, bump shoulders, and maybe throw in a pat on the back for good measure? Maybe a couple of quick pecks on the cheek from family members and a quick hug?

See, it’s not weird touches I’m talking about, like if you’re on the subway and someone is too close and you’re thinking, “Dude… what… what are you doing? I can feel your breath on the back of my neck and we’re the only two people on this car.” That’s weird.

I bring it up because I realized that I love, whole heartedly, when my daughter holds my hand. She doesn’t do it when she’s awake; only when she’s sleeping, and she doesn’t know that she’s being adorable. For the most part, she’s pretty adverse to letting you enjoy her cuteness. She’ll turn from the camera right when you’re about to get the perfect shot or she’ll turn her cheek when you want to give her a little smooch. It’s kind of a harsh burn for Kelly and me to be rejected by our progeny. At night, though, as she’s drifting off to sleep, she’ll often wake herself up looking for her binky, or realizing she’s turned a whole ninety degrees in her sleep and is no longer comfortable. So, when she cries, we rush to her side to make sure she’s alright and for God’s sake, stays asleep.

That’s when I find myself lying there next to her, placing a binky within reach, adjusting her to a normal sleeping position (in adult standards), and rubbing her back or placing my pinky in her hand with the hopes that she’ll hold onto it like a little circus monkey. That’s when it hits me- when her little digits clasp down, and I’m locked in a Chinese finger trap of love.

Aside from its cuteness, it unlocks a whole aspect of my being that I don’t think is possible to know until you have children. It’s like a warm light washes over when your child reaches for you, holds you tight as you carry them in your arms, rests their head on your shoulder and falls asleep, or unconsciously clasps their tiny hand around your pinky as they sleep. In that moment, between feedings and diapers and tantrums, when your little person just wants your attention or needs you there, that’s when you feel like it’s all worth it. Those little physical interactions are so wholesome, and I don’t think people get enough wholesome physical contact.

Sleep Training = No Sleep for You

Lying next to her, Chris? How is that possible in her little crib?

Yeah, no. We actually haven’t had any success getting baby girl to sleep through the night in her crib. We’re sleep training at the moment, which consists of a methadone like approach to wean her off things like sleeping in a comfy grown-up bed or being carried around for 45 minutes in her harness as she drifts off to sleep. Apparently, we were doing it all wrong when it comes to sleeping arrangements. We’re not alone in this battle, though. Plenty of other parents have gone through this and many more will, too. Did you know that there are several methods of sleep training for a baby? Yeah, several because no one’s figured out one solid, sure fire, 100% guaranteed way of getting a baby to sleep… legally. So, we’re starting with more naps in the crib and no more harness, because apparently the issue is that Em is dependent on us to fall asleep.

We gotta break that dependency because it’s breaking my back. Literally. I’ve been wearing a back brace for 3 days now because my daughter has a desire to be held 24/7. (I’m trying to figure out why back braces work. Your back hurts? Let’s squeeze the crap out of with this elastic band. It doesn’t seem like it should, but it works).

“You hold her too much” (I can hear my mother and Silver Fox saying as they read this). Yes… I know. She cries if I don’t and the crying doesn’t stop. Ever. Unless I hold her. I know she’s exercising some sort of control over me. I know I should be stronger. I just can’t. It’s bananas. Parenting is hard AF, y’all.

I just want to lay there in the warm light of an afternoon nap as my baby slumbers off and holds my pinky like a little circus monkey… quietly.

But noooooo. I have to put her through baby sleep camp methadone clinic. I need to stop using the tools and techniques that I’ve been using for 7 months to keep her happy and quiet. I need to start pissing her off on purpose by denying her things she wants, like being held, sleeping in our bed, falling asleep in her harness. I need to, according to her pediatrician, lose out on my afternoon naps because she’s crying for two hours instead of sleeping because she needs to learn to do it on her own.

Do you know what happens to an infant that’s just learning to crawl and climb (like – you guessed it- a circus monkey) and hasn’t quite grown into a pair of stable standing legs yet? They throw a tantrum until they’re tired and fall over and hit their head. And since you’re not holding them like you want to and like they want you to you’re the jerk for not catching them.

Give up my afternoon nap? Please.

I need my afternoon nap. I’m juggling several clients at the moment and work till 2 a.m. some nights. If I don’t nap, I might die. I seriously might die.

Stay- at-home/ work-from-home-dad tips: Learn to say “No” to jobs if you need to. It’s OK. But if you can’t, because let’s face it, paying gigs can be hard to come by, and you have to juggle a lot of tasks, I recommend using something like Trello to organize your tasks. Or if you need something more tangible try a Word notebook. They’re small, pocket-sized ruled notebooks where each line starts with a unique bullet that you use to denote that something is either a bullet point- by making a dot, important- by drawing a circle, in progress- by drawing a line through it, or complete- by drawing an “x”. I believe Benjamin Franklin used a system like this, but don’t quote me. The point is, get organized or take on less jobs, especially if you have a child that eats up a good ¾ of your waking hours.

(If you’re connecting all the dots, my schedule sucked so bad last week that I didn’t do a blog post, a comic, or a drawing of me and Emma. Get organized or you’ll have to sacrifice your hobbies… or lose clients. Either way, it’s no bueno).

Watch Your Head

So yeah, my kid is crawling and falling. She’s only tumbling over like 12 inches because she’s small, but still her head is like half her body. If gravity is using half your body weight to force your noggin to the ground don’t you think that’s gotta hurt?

The science on that is bad. Don’t try to figure it out.

If gravity only affected half our weight/mass we might move around like astronauts? (Read this week’s “Emma” strip to see why I’m no good with science.)

I don’t like the idea of her getting hurt. Plenty of people have told me that it’s unavoidable, get used to it, you can’t protect them from everything.

I CAN TRY!

Soothing a crying baby is one of those primordial responses we inherited from our cave dwelling ancestors. Keeping a baby safe, protected, fed, and quiet were all things our greatest ancestors did so they wouldn’t get eaten by T-Rex. (I know that’s historically inaccurate, but I really want to draw that so it’s staying).

So, she fell over. What do I do? Get her a helmet? She’ll never make friends that way.

“What’s with the helmet, Emma?”

“Oh this? My dad sucks.”

No, that’s not how her interactions would be right NOW. Yes, I’d make her wear the helmet throughout junior high… so then. That conversation would happen around then.

I’m tired of people telling me that babies are tougher than they are. How would they know? Have they fought a baby and lost? Have they run them through some sort of obstacle course in their backyard especially designed to weed out the weakest babies? And who are these people putting their babies through this creepy obstacle course? No one knows how strong a baby really is because no one fights babies.

Fight a baby. Go on. Then tell me they’re tougher than I think, because I think I could beat a baby in a fair fight. Until you fight a baby don’t assume you know that they’re stronger than they are. And don’t project your assumptions onto my daughter. As for me, I’m going to put my daughter in a helmet, harness her till she passes out, and let her hold my pinky like a circus monkey while I take a nap next to her, because I’m running on 3 hours of sleep and cold coffee. Not iced coffee like some fancy hipster kid… cold coffee from my coffee pot from this… yesterday… two mornings ago.

Parenting is hard. If you have any advice on making it easier or if you have a particular tool or strategy to help you stay organized and multi task like Trello or Word notebooks, please share in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and Happy Parenting.

PSA- DON’T FIGHT BABIES. It just a joke people… I shouldn’t have to tell you not to fight a baby, but I feel like there’s one guy who’ll read this and think to himself, “Gee, you know, I really don’t know how tough a baby is. Here, hold my beer.”


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Week 31- Who’s Your Daddy?

Who’s your daddy?

I AM! Well, I’m Em’s daddy and apparently she’s well aware of that fact. This week my baby girl said, “Da-Da!” not once, but a whole slew of times. We got it on video, too, so this momentous occasion is recorded for all time! I admit, I got a bit teary eyed and my heart grew three sizes. You could blame the dry contacts for the water works and the cardiomegaly for the enlarged heart, but I say I’m a sucker for my sweet girl.

She hasn’t said it since, but no matter. We’ll just say that she knows who I am and said her first word and much to my wife’s dismay, that word was “Da-Da.”

OH SNAP!

I like onesies, not because I wear them, but because they’re great for babies. I wish they had adult onesies and I wish that they were socially acceptable because then I’d have a whole closet full of them. I’d be like Steve Jobs or Mark Facebook dude- one outfit all the time because apparently making decisions about what to wear each morning is counter-productive to creating a tech empire… which has always been my goal? I digress.

The one thing I hate about onesies, though, are the snaps. The little snappy buttons that fasten together the super convenient clothing item and keep the saggy diaper hoisted up where it should be.

We have a few from Carters that are like a hybrid between a karate gi and a burrito wrap… or if you prefer, a “tortilla.” It’s like if you went to Chipotle and they asked you “Taco or burrito?”  and you replied “Baby wrapped in a ceremonial Kimono… and fajita veggies.” It has like 145 snaps on each side, some hidden inside, then the 3 grundle snaps that keep the diaper from sagging out. It doesn’t come with a manual so you either have to have a higher education to figure the damn thing out or be some sort of wizard. Luckily I went to college… twice.

But damn if snapping all these little things together doesn’t start to wear on my pudgy artist fingers. I’m not built for manual labor like this. I hate snaps and you should, too because you’re reading this on the internet and you’ll never get this time back. Invest yourself in my emotionally driven beliefs!

7 Months In: Parenting Dislikes

DIAPERS! I hate diapers. Not just changing diapers, but the whole idea of diapers. The problem… they’re filled with poop. Poop and pee. I’m just not getting used to it. It goes against every fiber of my being to seek out human waste, but here I am, compelled by some primordial parenting urge to find and eliminate my baby’s doo doo. Kelly used to threaten me before Emma was born with diaper duty and vague tales of how I’ll be covered in dookie from time to time. That just set me down a path of despair and now here I am hating diapers. I know it’s not a complicated concept, changing your kid’s dirty diaper, but am I alone in thinking if we don’t have another child it’s going to be because dirty diapers are gross and contributing to the death of our planet?

After seven months of being a daddy that’s my only issue. I can deal with the lack of sleep, the crying, the inability for babies to use words; that’s all fine. It’s just the poop that I can’t stand.

Kelly got a new trash can for Em’s diapers. We were told not to get one of the Diaper Genies so we didn’t. Instead we got little a trash can with a pedal activated lid. It’s small and would be cute if not filled with dirty diapers. It’s bordering on being too small, though. It holds, in all, maybe 4 diapers. 2 if we’ve been feeding her a high fiber diet. But I jam in about 150 diapers before I change the bag. It’s heavy for sure. Dense. Like a dying star becoming a black hole. The only reason I change the bag so often is so I don’t rip a hole in space and time.

Child’s Pose 🙂

The cutest thing happened this week, allow me to describe it in adorable detail. We put Em down to bed one evening and I checked in on her like I often do. Since I work mostly at night and my office is right next to the bedroom I’ll pop in from time to time to make sure she’s OK. You know, urged by paranoid parent fears of your kid falling off the bed or getting caught up in a blanket or swallowing their foot. Well, I walked in and her tiny bottom was up in the air and she was sleeping in child’s pose. I always liked sleeping that way as a kid and when I do yoga it’s the only pose I do because a) it feels great to open up the hip flexors when you have an old man’s body and b) it’s really the only pose I know. Anywho, I was flooded with a rush of, I guess nostalgia, when I saw her because I remember being so fond of being able to sleep like that. Now, I’m just filled with a geriatric jealousy and pain. Pain from my tight hip flexors.

LOCK IT UP!

So now that my kid is mobile and scooching around everywhere we figure that it’s just a matter of time before she’s into the cabinets and starts smashing all the dishes and cookware so we installed some locks. They’re magnetically operated, which is great, since I can just put the magnetic keys up out of her reach. It’s also very possibly horrible, since we only have two keys and will most likely lose them. That means no more kitchen appliances, cookware, Pyrex, etc, etc. We’ll just have to eat out. I’ll keep you informed as to how well they work or if I end up ripping the cabinet doors off their hinges.

We got her a cage! Um.. play… pen.

Cage Fight

The best investment we made this week is this transforming baby cage fighting arena. It’s this polymorphic contraption that acts as a gate or the walled confines of a baby cage match. All I need now is another baby contender and a good bookie. Seriously though, Em has started to grow out of her exersaucer. We raised it up so it’s one level higher to match her current height, but she’s realized that it’s just a containment unit for her when I don’t want her crawling everywhere. So the cage/gate is an upgrade of sorts. I’ll use it to make her the next Ronda Rousey. Since I’m 99% sure she’ll be tall with a long reach like Silver Fox she’ll make for a great cage fighter.

Dad Bod Update

I lost a little weight, YAY! I worked out a little, too. YAY! It’s all thanks to the child’s pose I do for my yoga routine. Yes, it’s a one pose routine. My body looks the same, though, like a giant hairy baby, or an Ewok in the beginning stages of Alopecia Totalis- that’s full body hair loss, which my dad had, then he went to the Philippines for a miracle cure and came back with a ponytail like a Filipino Samson… just not as strong. He couldn’t grow hair anywhere else, though. It was all just magically on his head. He must have gotten one of those wizards what can operate the kimono burrito onesie to cast a spell on his noggin. I’ll have to find myself one of them, not that I need one, because I choose to shave my head. But still… a wizard would be useful.

Well that’s my ramble for the week. If you want to enter your kid into my cage fights or if you know a wizard that can regrow hair hit me up in the comments below or on social media. As always, Happy Parenting!


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Week 30: How to Raise a Little Girl

How Do You Raise a Little Girl?

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.

Feminism Island

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

Bye Bye

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.


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Week 29: Sick Baby Strong Baby Hungry Baby

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.

Angry Gnome Berserker

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.

  1. 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?”
  2. 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.

Stay safe and as always Happy Parenting.


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Enter Sandman

Week 25: Quiet Moments & Happy Times

Zen

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!!!!!!!”

Enter Sandman
Stages 1-3

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.

Bliss

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.

Dream Feeding

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”.

Creepy.

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!


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24 Weeks and She Still Drinks Like a Fish

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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 scared.

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?

The dooks.

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.

Consumerism Sucks

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.

UPDATE:

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.


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The Boogie Exchange

23 Weeks or This Is How I Work

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The Boogie Exchange

This actually happened.

 

This Is How I Work

(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.

The Boogie Exchange

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.

 


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Object Permanance and the Horror of Separation Anxiety

Emma 2

 

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?

Anywho.

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.