Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

  • 0

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.”


  • 0

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!


  • 0

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.


  • 2

Week 28: New Skills for A New Year

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.

She got some small baby sized spoons as well. The most ingenious devices are these killer binkies that you put little bits of soft foods in that baby can chomp on. How’s that work, Chris? I’ll tell ya. In place of a silicone nipple is a fine mesh net. As baby gnaws on the net they masticate the food within and it mooshes right through and tricks them into eating.

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.

LIEUTENANT DAN!

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!


  • 0

Saddle Up!

Tags : 

“Hey there. Whatcha got in the car seat, fella?”

“… Seriously? In the car seat? Well, a boat load of responsibility and a woeful longing for solitude and crapping with the door shut.”

“OOH! Let me see!”

“Back up you old bitty!”

I wanted to discuss how the elderly behave as if they have a right to my child when they see us out in public. They see the car seat and flip out like someone just said they were getting a new hip for free. I wonder if they would be so demanding and invasive if I was a mother. My theory is that they’re trying to get close enough to suck the youth out of my daughter’s breath, like that Goblin in “Cat’s Eye.” I’m not going to write about that, though. We’ve hit the 17 week mark and $#!& has hit the fan.

Everything I’ve written about calming and soothing can go right down the crapper. Emma has started rolling over and now it’s like everything about her is different. She doesn’t want to be cradled. She’s completely abandoned the week and a half of scheduled nap times I’ve had her on. She doesn’t want to finish a bottle in one sitting, preferring to take little sips throughout the day, resulting in a bottle of milk reaching the 5 hour mark of un-refrigeration, the point of spoiling according to our baby making class. My baby… likes to take her milk to the point of expiration. (Coincidentally, that’s how I drink a beer; nursing it till everyone around me complains about how warm my drink is. Mind your business! It’s not like you’re drinking it.)

Anyways, sometimes I feel like I’m back to knowing nothing about my child and I’ve been needing my wife’s help figuring out 17 week old Emma. The upside to all her development is that she’s starting to look more and more like a real person. You know what I mean, right? Newborns and infants are weird… they just flop around and their facial features haven’t filled out yet. They’re a little alien. At 17 weeks, though, Emma’s face is filling out, she’s cooing up a storm, rolling around, actually grabbing for all her toys that have sat around collecting dust for the past year, waiting for her to be born and then grow up enough to notice them. Oh! And she found her feet! That’s adorable right there!

The biggest difference in her now is how curious she is. She wants to sit up or try to stand, be held in a manner where she can look around, and she hates going to sleep. She just wants to be up all the time, especially when she’s tired. That’s when the crap hits the fan. I know you’re tired! YOU KNOW YOU’RE TIRED!!! JUST SLEEP!!!

The new “binky” this week is her harness. It lets me carry her so she can look out at the world and watch everything I’m doing while freeing me up to actually do said things. It’s extremely useful. We have two harnesses, because we had to buy one that fits an infant. She didn’t fit in the one we put on our registry. We chose it because it has this awesome hood with animal ears. ANIMAL EARS!! From behind she might look like a bear or a Pokemon or something. I don’t know because she’s not big enough for it yet. A word to the wise- make sure you buy a harness that fits your baby. The daddy saddle, as I like to call it, kind of reduces me to nothing more than a means of transportation, a sort of weirdo centaur-like beast- half man, half horse, half dad- to take her from room to room so we can play with the same toys, read the same books, and listen to the same lullabies over and over and over, but I’m OK being nothing more than a baby taxi if it can quell a screaming tantrum.

Now I’ve had several side glances and smirks thrown my way by moms, random ladies just passing by, and bros with tiny dogs. Fine, whatever. Judge me in my daddy harness. I’m proud to have full mobility of my upper limbs. I join the ranks of other giants with tiny jockeys like Krang’s Android Armor, Master Blaster, Willow and Madmartigan, Hodor and Bran… Seabiscuit and Tobey Maguire. Being judged for being an attentive and caring father with a child strapped to him like a suicide bomber’s vest is not my concern.

Since it frees up my arms to work, I thought about doing some illustrations while ferrying my girl about. I tried a little digital painting without the harness for last week’s image of me fighting Emma’s symbiote dookie. Unfortunately, I was holding her in my lap while trying to work… needless to say I’ll never do that again. It resulted in a muddy image and a crap ton of frustration. But it was an experiment in mobile art- can I draw and paint while holding a baby?… hell no. Next time I’ll try drawing while harnessed.

Another upside to having a harness it that Emma will fall asleep in it easier than me trying to rock her @$$ out while holding her in a way that she hates… and she hates every way that I hold her this week.

One of my best buds who’s also a new dad JUST sent me this harness/baby seat/fannypack thing that he got from Kickstarter called TushBaby and I have to say it’s pretty damn useful. It doesn’t give you as much freedom as a harness, but it’s easier to put on and take off, and doesn’t result in you and your baby overheating from her being stuck to you like Kuato from Total Recall. Essentially, your baby is perched like a gargoyle on this seat sticking out of your hip while you steady them with one arm. It also has storage! So I can put my phone, keys, pocket knife, etc all in there and travel a little lighter sans diaper bag or car seat. I haven’t had the guts to wear it in public yet, but I’ll try it this weekend and let you know if anyone laughs at me.

If you’re on the go a lot or need to free up your arms, but you can’t step away from your kiddo for a while try a harness. Happy parenting!


  • 2

Wrap It Up! The Swaddle.

“Hey babe, do you think the baby is ok? She’s wrapped up kind of tight?”

“Yeah, she’s fine. Is she crying?”

“Nope.”

“That’s because I swaddled her up tighter than a double meat quesorito with guac at Chipotle. …guac is an extra two…”

” I KNOW GUAC IS AN EXTRA TWO DOLLARS!”

And that’s how quickly you can get back to living life once you’ve mastered your swaddling skills. As a new dad, the swaddle is one of your primary defenses against a crying baby. It’s one of my “binky” techniques I used to soothe Emma when she would freak out for no apparent reason. She’s too big to be swaddled now, but for the first two and half/three months after she was born she would need to be swaddled up to fall asleep.

I guess the reason it works is because restricting their range of motion reminds them of being back in the confines of the womb. That makes sense; the first three months of a baby’s life have been referred to as the “fourth trimester” …since babies are utterly incapable of survival without parents, a wolf pack, or gorilla to adopt them and raise them to be the hero of the jungle, so feeling like they’re back in the womb must be a comfort to them.

Kelly and I learned the proper technique for swaddling in our baby making classes, though there has been some debate, I’m told, as to how tight to actually bind your child into submission. I’ll go over the general maneuver, you decide how safe you want to be. I suggest taking a class or talking to your pediatrician about what they consider to be “correct.” If you break your kid it’s not on me.

So you start with a large square cloth, that’s the swaddle. They come in a range of styles and patterns. I recommend something basic,, but one with a bit of texture in the weave, though. That’s going to come in handy when your kid tries to struggle free from your loving embrace. They’ll squirm, they’ll fidget, and ultimately they’ll tucker themselves out when that texture starts to stick to itself like velcro. Texture.

First, lay out your square nice and flat so it’s rotated 45° (like a diamond.) Then fold down the top corner. How much you fold over depends on how big your swaddle and your baby are. Above this little fold is where your baby’s head rests when the mummification soothing begins.

Second, once you have your baby in place, wrap one side over and behind your kiddo. I found that rolling Emma on to her side allowed me to really tuck that sucker behind her. Lock it in good because babies will pull some David Blaine Houdini crap on you as soon as you turn your back. I’ve had many a night ruined by a weak and lazy swaddle.

Ok, step three, gently roll baby back so they’re flat again. Now take the bottom corner and fold it up over and behind the opposite shoulder of the first fold. I’ve found this fold to be the weakest point in my swaddle. You need to make sure you have enough material to tuck behind them so they don’t kick it all loose.

Finally, wrap the fourth and final corner over and around baby then tuck it up under itself on the topside.

That’s it. Easy, right? Maybe for you but it took me two weeks to master. I clearly remember the night I got it- it was out of pure frustration. During the midst of a screaming fit I had decided that tighter was better and I was going to wrap up my little chunky monkey like a pig in a blanket. Which, I might add, was nowhere near as tight as the nurses had her swaddled when she was born. Unwrapping that first clinically applied swaddle was like unboxing a new iPad that craps on you. The packaging was immaculate!

Over time, we developed various styles of swaddle to accommodate Emma’s growth and arm movements. She got to a point where if her arms were confined she took it out on us like we owed her money. So we employed the toga swaddle and the mermaid swaddle. These seemed to work; as long as her legs were bound but her arms were free she would stay calm.

We tried other products that make swaddling easier. Like this big velcro swaddle sac. Emma, true to her nature, hated it, like she hates anything that simplifies parenting for us. Also, the first time we washed it the Velcro stuck to all her trifolds and clothes. It tangled up everything, ruining my life.

On a final note, we were told to stop swaddling when baby starts to roll over because it poses a suffocation risk. We stopped before that because Emma just sort of outgrew it and as soon as I can start cutting steps out of my routine, dammit I’m going to.

I hope this helps. Swaddling is your friend- learn it. Use it. Happy parenting!

If you have any advice or tips that your want to offer feel free to leave a comment down below or on our Facebook page.


  • 1

The Call of the Baby

Welcome back to my life as a stay-at-home dad / work-from-home illustrator. I’d like to describe for you my experiences communicating with people who refuse to speak the same language as you. People like my child. Granted, it’s not her fault; she’s fourteen weeks old. Words aren’t her thing. Heck, baby sign language isn’t even her thing. Her thing is crying.
Yes, crying. SURPRISE! The language that every baby is born knowing. You actually anticipate that first wail during childbirth. It lets you know that, “OK, so far so good. My baby is alive. Her lungs work and she’s expressing some sort of feeling right now. Boy, I hope she quiets down soon.”
The last part never happens.
But it’s like I’m learning a new language! You know how people say if you spend six months in a foreign country you can pretty much learn the language? Well, the same is true for babies. At first, it’s like speaking to someone with a one-word vocabulary, but they use the hell out of that one single word. I mean, they can hold conversations… long conversations where they’re just talking at you. They don’t care what you have to say, but dammit you’ll hear them out.
With her monosyllabic rapport my baby lets me know when she’s hungry, dirty, bored, tired, or just generally displeased with my parenting services. In fourteen weeks, I’ve learned the subtle differences in her cries. To the untrained ear it’s all just blood curdling noise that leads one to believe that I’m a crap father. False. Not True. Fake news. Babies can be complicated in so much that they’re finicky, fussy, mood swing-y, constantly pooping, and all-around exhausting. But they have a pretty limited number of M.O.’s. Here’s what I’ve gathered:

  1. They’re hungry
  2. Their diaper is dirty
  3. They’re mentally or physically uncomfortable

I like to sing a little tune to my girl when she’s fussy. It helps me run through my list and it kind of entertains her. It goes like this:
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
I give you drinky.
I change your stinky.
I give you binky.
Whatcha doin’ in the world, baby girl, whatcha doin’ in the world?
I suffer from some sort of musical Tourette’s Syndrome. My wife is catching it as well; but that’s how I run through my check list.


That’s it. Pretty simple really. Solving how to attend to these basic needs has been the interesting part. It’s like a puzzle, but one where the clues and answers change over time. So, what works one week might not work the next, so you need to really pay attention to how your kid is changing. You can see it in their eyes. It’s like every month they wake up and a new part of their brain is turned on. They’re more curious, more aware, and more deliberate with their cries.
For a hungry baby, you might think the solution is obvious- feed your kid… fool. For the most part yes, but dammit there’s a lot to it. New dads, you can’t breast feed. Shocking, I know. This means that your wife is most likely pumping like she works at a dairy as a prized heifer. DO NOT CALL YOUR LADY A PRIZED HEIFER. I haven’t tried it, but I know it wouldn’t end well. You may be relying on formula, which can be expensive. I recommend someplace like Costco to buy formula in bulk or try a monthly renewal service through Amazon. If not to save money, then just to ensure that you have enough on hand- time can get away from you, then suddenly, before you know it you’ve used up all your formula, and you don’t want to be up the creek without a paddle. Personally, we use Enfamil.
Then there’s different types of formula to consider. They have some to ease digestion, some that are non-dairy, in case your new child, who completely subsists off milk… can’t have milk? We thought that was the case with Emma. Either she had colic or was allergic to dairy.
“WTF?” I asked her pediatrician. “What do we feed her if she can’t have the one thing God intended her to have?! It’s not like she has teeth yet! I’m not gonna go and blend up chicken and peas every day. She eats every two hours!”
Yeah, babies eat a lot.
But as it turns out, some babies have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk. Emma’s mom just had to cut out milk from her diet, so it didn’t end up in her …milk. Our pediatrician gave us this Enfamil formula because it lacks that dairy protein. It’s more expensive than the formula that has milk proteins, but thankfully it turned out that she doesn’t have that particular allergy after all. We thought we had figured out the cause of her colic-like behavior and I pretty much have my mom to thank for the discovery. Let me tell you about THAT!
My mom is a new grandma and super excited to be one. She came out to visit her granddaughter when Emma was about eight weeks old and at the time we were giving baby girl about 2 ounces of milk or formula in a feeding (following recommended guidelines). My mom, like any good Italian mother, fed my child until she was “satisfied.”
“I just fed her ‘till she stopped eating. She’ll let you know when she’s done. She pushes the bottle out of her mouth with her tongue. Don’t worry… she’ll let you know.”
This went on for about a week and it seemed to work. Whatcha doin’ in the world baby girl? Ah… the drinky.
Then my mom left… a day early, I might add, like she knew something was up. The next morning, while changing Emma’s diaper, she projectile pooped EVERYWHERE! IT WENT ACROSS THE ROOM. I tried to contain it with a wet wipe, but dear Lord, the force sprayed it back at me. It got on her changing table, the blinds, the wall her tuccas was pointed at four feet away, her crib, and her brand-new wicker hamper. WICKER! I’m still finding poop splashes in the wicker. It’s never gonna come out from all the crevices. Somehow it got under the lid. My kid can poop THROUGH solid objects! AAAAND it’s white wicker so you know it’s poop when you see it.
“Hey guys, where’d you get the polka dot wicker?”
“Oh… it’s, um… homemade.”
My mom knew what she was doing. She had three of her own kids, there’s no way she didn’t know Emma would pop like a poo piñata. That was some sort of payback for years of me being …well, me.
Which leads to my next point- the stinky.
Dirty diapers aren’t always accompanied by tears and tantrums. Sometimes my kid is just happy to be sitting in her own filth. In fact, the only time she really giggles is when I put her down to change her. Like it’s a game.
“Maybe I poop on daddy, maybe I don’t.” It’s been horrifying ever since the poo-splosion.
We tried cloth diapering for a while. My wife loved these cloth diaper shells. They grow with your child, but we couldn’t keep up with the amount of laundry we had. Plus, Emma was getting crazy diaper rash until we started using these super absorbent reusable charcoal inserts. Still, the laundry was getting out of control. For any new dads, kids poop a lot. I was told by clinical professionals that when you have a breast-fed child they might not poop for like a day or two and not to worry because this is normal. Breastfeeding is more “biocompatible” with your child’s digestive system. LIES, MAN. LIES! Expect to change a diaper at least 8 times a day. Butt… a dirty diaper can be upsetting to your kid. Again, we use Costco to stock up on either their brand or Huggies. The nice thing besides convenience is that they have a little yellow stripe that turns blue when they’re soiled. Butt… if you can cloth diaper I highly recommend it because a standard disposable diaper takes 500 YEARS to biodegrade. That means your dookie and your kid’s dookie and their kid’s dookie and probably their kid’s kid’s dookie will all still coexist on this planet long after y’all are dead. We fully plan on going back to cloth once Emma isn’t trying to set records for how many times she can go in a day.
Whatcha doin’ in the world baby girl? Ah, the binky. If your kid’s not hungry or dirty they probably need to be soothed. I rely heavily on binkies, or pacifiers, plus it goes with my song. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with decorations and whatnot. Now, our pediatrician told us not to rely on them because it will confuse a breastfed baby about which nipple is the right nipple or something. Rubbish I say. If it soothes my baby to the point of silence, then I’m using it. And I’ll tell ya what, she wasn’t confused about whose nipple is whose. But when I use the term “binky” it’s really a metaphor for “soothe.” What can you do for your baby to soothe him or her? Some folks can rock their kid to sleep. We have a glider in Emma’s room for just such occasions. It doesn’t work on her, but it may for you. We also tried a couple of motorized bouncers by Fisher Price and Graco. I really liked the one by Graco. It was a little expensive, but it did sooo much!!! I wish they made an adult sized one. Alas, Emma hated it.
What works for her is a combination of binky and core ball. I spend many, many, many evenings cradling her while bouncing on a core ball we bought for my wife’s delivery.
Let me take a second to talk about that. As an expectant dad you’ll come across these lists of things to bring to the hospital for when your wife goes into labor. This list will include things like scented massage oils, slippers, snacks for you which you must go eat in the hall or something because your wife can’t eat so don’t be an ass and eat in front of her. Sometimes the list, like the one we had, include a core ball. I bought it on Amazon and it came with a pump. Super stoked, I packed up the hundred or so items that the internet told me to bring and when the day came we didn’t use a single thing we brought.
I did end up unboxing the core ball on a whim just to see if bouncing on it while cradling her would soothe my little girl. Whattaya know, I’m a freaking genius. But now she’s so used to being held and bounced that that’s the only way she’ll fall asleep. She’s such a princess. Keep in mind, that if you bounce your kid, you need to support their little wobbly heads and do little, soft, rhythmic bounces. You don’t want to give your kid whiplash or shaken baby syndrome. That being said, I’m not responsible for what happens to your child if you’re off bouncing on this like a cracked-out kangaroo in a bounce house. Be smart about it.
Another very useful tip is to burp your kid. A lot of times my girl just has a big ol’ burp stuck in her belly and as soon as she lets it out she’s good.
If nothing works, your kid might have colic. Since we ruled out milk allergies, and once I’ve gone through my drinky, stinky, binky list there are nights where my baby screams like she’s being murdered. It rips at the soul to hear it, because there’s nothing you can do to calm her. Colic is when your child screams relentlessly for no reason at all for an extended period. We learned about the “5 S’s” in our new parent classes. They stand for 1. swaddle, 2. stomach or side, 3. Shush, 4… shhhhhhit, I can’t remember. But that all only worked for about a week when Emma was born. Essentially, you wrap up your kid like a burrito (which is one thing that continued to work until she got too big and started busting out), then you hold them on their stomach or side, and as loud as they’re crying you shush them in their ear. This simulates the sounds they hear in the womb. I remember the 4th- sway… or shake. It can’t be “shake” … there’s a syndrome that goes with that. Basically, gently rock your burrito baby while shushing them on their stomach or side.
It didn’t work for us. I did download this white noise app for my phone. My wife has it, too, but I have an old Galaxy Note 3 that is now a dedicated white noise machine/lullaby player that goes wherever Emma goes. We just want to make sure we’re never without it because it’s worked wonders for us. She’s catching on, though. I think she knows she’s not in the womb anymore. She likes to freak out in the evening, especially if daddy wants to have a drink or if we want to go out to eat. If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that our pediatrician says that colic and fussy babies grow up to be smart adults! We’ll see.
I know that’s a lot, but I hope if you’re a new parent or an expecting parent you got some good tips out of this. There is hope, you’re not alone, and if you have a baby with colic it gets easier. You eventually figure out what they want (that week) and maybe get used to the crying. Crying is just how babies communicate. Speaking of communicating, I should communicate to you that I’m trying to make a little scratch off this site. I had Google AdSense for about an hour, but it littered my site with ads and I can’t put people through that. The product links are affiliate links to things we’ve tried ourselves. If you want to know more about them feel free to message me on Facebook or email. Also, some of the pictures might end up available for print or as a t-shirt:)
That’s it for now. Keep calm and keep on parenting.