Family “Vacations” with an Infant

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Family Vacation at Sea World

Family “Vacations” with an Infant

Hi! How are ya? What?! Where have we been?!  Well, I’m glad you asked; let me tell ya.

First, I’d like to preface that if you’re a parent (who parents like me) then you have no time at all to yourself. Nada. Zero. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “no time to yourself” and 10 being “Oh, look at me living like I’m a carefree, childless 20-something; maybe I’ll go to Starbucks and do some social justice warrior retweeting and look up ‘impeachment'”, being a parent rates at a whopping -10,000. NEG-A-TIVE TEN THOUSAND!

With that being said a lot has been going on… so much I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I need a table of contents. Oh look… Here’s one now.

  1. Family “Vacation” and the reason for my time away from blogging
  2. New Job…on top of owning a business
  3. Baptism- because God (and my mother) demand it
  4. Birthday- you’re all grown up
  5. 1yr check up or a nightmare of needles and incompetence

I’ll try to be concise in my recounting of the past few months because this is the internet and I’ve already lost your attention. That’s OK. We can still be friends.

Family “Vacation” and the reason for my time away from blogging

To be fair, there are plenty of reasons I’ve stayed away from updating my family, friends, clients, and a whole world of strangers about our life. One reason is that I’m not a blogger. This isn’t how I make money. I have plenty of things that require my time and attention that take precedence over an online journal because they either a) keep my family alive or b) …make money that I use to keep my family alive. It’s not that I’m chasing the almighty dollar, in fact I’m running away from it. But it costs money to run this race… like a 5k. So it’s a vicious cycle of me running from money while throwing money away that I pick up along the way. Let me tell ya, it’s tiring.

I digress- vacations. Vacations should be relaxing. So why would I bring an infant? Infants aren’t, by definition, relaxing. Why sabotage my relaxation with a child. I’d like to reference reason “a” in the last paragraph- I need to keep my family alive. I can’t leave her alone, so I take her with me. Plus, I love my kid so we kick it together pretty often. But what did we do, as new parents, that made me avoid writing about our vacation sooner? Well… have you seen Black Fish?

No, this has nothing to do with the inhumane treatment of Orcas. It does have to do with Sea World, though, and that’s where this story starts. My wife and I love San Diego. I love the beach. We love ice cream on the beach. We love authentic mexican food close to the beach with pitchers of mojitos and we wanted to share all that with our child. Everything but the pitcher of mojitos. That’s a mommy/daddy beverage 🙂  (which we avoided this time around because of baby.)

So we’re in SoCal to do the SoCal thing and we thought, “Hey, we should bring Emma to Sea World!” Awesome, right? Best parents ever! 

Now, bringing an infant to a theme park doesn’t seem very logical. You can’t take them on the rides. You’re stuck waiting in long lines to ride by yourself while the other parent watches the kiddo. You’re spending a week’s worth of salary on nutrient deficient carnival food. So we want to avoid places like that until Emma’s old enough to enjoy it. DisneyLand for example, we’ll avoid that place for awhile. At least until ticket prices are double what they are currently… so like next month maybe? We knew Disneyland wouldn’t make an impression on her at this age, at least one that she would remember, but we didn’t want to leave feeling like we just got sunburnt and day drank with an infant covered in melted ice cream and sand. So we bought tickets to SeaWorld. 

“It’s like a giant aquarium, right?” I asked. “I guess,” my wife says reassuringly. It’s not a complete waste of money. We’re not missing out on rides or anything. Let’s do it!

Well, there are rides.

There are lines.

There are seas of strollers parked everywhere and carnival food that costs a week’s worth of salary.

But…there are also animal shows.

As we entered, we were prompted to gather around this pool that’s half above ground and half below ground (with a big viewing window into the deep end). This is where the dolphin trainers warmed up the stars for the dolphin show. A sort of pre-show informational session to learn you good about some porpuseses..es.. Dolphins.

So my good lady wife, Kelly, the eagle eye that she is, spots a shaded area close to the pool and strolls ahead to stake her claim. It was impressive, actually, the way she made a b-line right to the shade. She used that stroller like a seasoned mom in a crowded mall, clearing a path left and right like a battering ram that isn’t carrying a baby. Zero regard for the lives at stake. But hey, we got that shade, ya’ll. When we get up to the pool we notice a rope around it keeping people at a 2 ft distance from the outer wall. A trainer up on a platform says “We’ll drop the rope in 15 minutes so you can come up to the pool and pet the dolphins”

Awesome, 15 minutes to plan how we’re going to cherry pick our spot at the wall ahead of this growing crowd of people. 

Now, my wife is in full on mom-mode. “We’re not losing the shade”, she says. “We can’t get the stroller beyond these ropes”, she says. “Take the baby, put her in the the daddy saddle, and get to that dolphin”, she says.

“Aye Aye Cap’n”, says I.

Dropping the ropes in 5. 4. 3… I’m ready… 2… 1. And the ropes open at specific points no where near us to let in groups of school children wearing color coordinated shirts that flood past us and start filling OUR space!

I look back at my wife in disbelief and she looks at me as if to say, “Idiot man! Jump the rope! Destroy anything in your path! Get to the dolphin!”

At least that’s what I saw.

So I jump the rope. I look back and she rolls her eyes in frustrated approval as if to say, “Yep… duh. And?”

And like a shadow I blow past a sea of children and get my child up the pool wall. I successfully avoided any casualties, by the way. 

Now it’s time for the show and we have picked a cherry spot. I. Mean. Cherry.

There’s the pool, then right in front of us is a little platform area where the dolphin pops up to beach itself for your pleasure. And right there to make sure the dolphin doesn’t become derelict in it’s entertainment duties is a trainer. A trainer in a wetsuit not getting wet. Just standing there in the sun in a big rubber suit. 

So the dolphin comes up, does a few passes and people cheer. Then the big sunburnt trainer in the rubber suit calls the dolphin up to beach itself for our amusement. At that moment I reach out with a sea of children and touch it on its snout nose mouth thing. 

I amazed myself! I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins, but changed my mind after this. They feel like a block of smooth wet rubber. I’m not getting in the water with that.

It’s then that I look back at my wife with a huge childish grin. I’m hoping to share this joy with her and ask if she wants to change places. She should be there with us enjoying all this and sharing all the people germs with our dolphin friends. She politely declines, but urges me to keep on having a good time. Now at this point I’ve realized a few things.

  1. I don’t want to swim with dolphins
  2. I’m in a cherry location
  3. That dad over there is holding his child over the deep end so he can pet the dolphin, too. Well, I’m in a location that is:
    1. Secured by the dolphin immobilizing beaching platform and
    2. Guarded by someone who is quickly turning into a raisin in a jumpsuit.

So I thought to myself, “My wife has silently urged me to the best dad I can be right now. I need to do something to win her approval. That dude got his kid to touch the dolphin. OK, next time this giant water based mammal has securely beached itself at a safe distance from us on it’s platform that is no more than an inch of water deep so it can frolic with these other children I’ll just take Emma a little bit (all the way) out of her carrier and let her touch the big rubbery fish.”

Golden!

And I do just that. I’m running over everything in my head- I’m at a safe distance. That dolphin isn’t getting any closer, that leggless bastard. If Emma does fall then I can just pick her up because the water is only an inch deep and dolphins aren’t known for eating people. If anything, they’re stereotypically known for saving people at sea, right? That guy over there did it; if there was a rule against it they’d have signs up. Plus we have this raisin looking trainer (God, someone please get her some sunblock) so in case something happens she’s there to help. Here we go.

The dolphin comes up. We lock eyes. I wink at it. It stares blankly at me, but I know it knows that I know that Emma’s gonna give it “gentle touches like we do with our puppy”. It beaches itself, opens its mouth slightly to smile at us and Emma is slightly taken out of her harness (all the way) and BAM. I’m struck by a dry raisin in a wet suit as it screams at me, “NO!”

Embarrassed I withdraw my child to the daddy saddle, turn to my wife for comfort and to clarify “why”. My loving wife looks at me as if to say, “@#$^ing idiot.”

So I jumped the ropes, ran away, and spent a week’s worth of salary on carnival food and pearl jewelry.

I didn’t know how to write this because honestly I wasn’t sure what my mom or Silver Fox would say. I had to tell them in person first before I told the world. In fact, I didn’t know how I felt until I thought about it for awhile. I mean, everything was awesome. I was going to get my kid to touch a dolphin!!! That would go down in awesome dad stories. But no. I was publicly shamed by someone in dire need of some Banana Boat. That shame sat with me for awhile and almost ruined my vacation. But I rallied. The rest of the trip rocked and I realized, if not for that raisin looking dry swimmer, my daughter would have been the youngest person ever to touch a dolphin (unverified).

Well, turns out that wasn’t concise at all. Let’s save the rest of the story for next week. Until then, welcome back to the internet to us and thanks for reading. Of course, as always, Happy Parenting!


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Sick Baby

We’re Back! Let’s Talk About Daycare!

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WELCOME BACK

Well, it sure has been a while since I’ve had some time to sit down and collect my thoughts on parenting and really reflect on the growth of my daughter and managing a career out of my home. “Why’s that”, you ask? “Where have you been”, you ask?

WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK… DAYCARE

I’ve been managing said career and making sure my kid stays alive. That is, after all, the first priority as a parent- keep ‘em alive! I like to take it one step further than the far right; I don’t just get ‘em born, I keep ‘em alive 😉 I’m essentially a 24/7 lifegaurd for all situations. Well, it used to be 24/7, but we started Em in daycare… because I have to manage a career out of my home and like they say, no man is an island. I needed help. With the wife at work making people’s lives better (or worse, it really depends on the patients and how fond they are of their opiates), I really started to struggle. It’s no one’s fault but my own. That’s the freelancer’s life- it’s feast or famine and when it rains it pours. I was in the middle of several projects for multiple clients, working in a variety of styles, illustrating, animating, staying up ‘till 2 am. I can do that for a few months, but it eventually takes its toll.

The only upside to staying awake into the wee hours of the morning is that I was all ready to answer the cries of my daughter as she would, for no reason at all and like clock-work, wake the EFF up.

So work/life balance started to get difficult and we were finally called up to bat for daycare. We were on the waiting list for I don’t know how long, but it’s supposed to be like… the best daycare in town… maybe. I have thoughts on that, but I’ll save that for a later date. For now, I’d like to rant about what daycare has done to my family.

So… work/life balance. That’s the whole impetus for placing my child in the arms of strangers, which I am not comfortable with at all. Ever. Is it a control thing? Am I a helicopter parent? Is it just me after a lifetime of being overly cautious bordering on paranoia-like behavior? I don’t know? Why? WHAT!? DID SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING?!

We also knew that Emma needed exposure to germs and other people besides Kelly and me. We planned on this day coming for eight months.

Apparently I didn’t plan well enough.

THE PLAGUE

When was the last time you were sick? For me, it was like 2001. I don’t get sick often. My wife will probably disagree and roll her eyes, but I don’t remember being sick… until this past week. We put Em in daycare on a Monday, by Friday we all had the plague. That was week one.

“Babe, we knew this would happen,” we said. We told ourselves it would be “fine” and Emma is building essential immunities. Immunities she was denied as I PROTECTED HER FROM THE WORLD FOR EIGHT MONTHS! I should be a bodyguard. Old ladies wouldn’t stand a chance 🙂

WHAT THE CRUST?

Then her head started leaking. Just everything… through the nose. And she would rub it with her hand and sleeve until it was all over her face. And the crust. THE CRUST! Why are sick kids so crusty?! So the boogies get wiped into her eye. The eye gets infected and starts to weep eye snot… just this golden, putrid goo seeping out of her eye that crusts up all around her beautiful eye lashes.

My kiddo has the longest eyelashes. They’re a point of envy for some.

So here I am, my precious, untainted, Fabergé egg, now reduced to a common sickly child ready for the plague doctors. All my hard work- down the crapper.

THE TRINITY

So we take her to the plague doctor/pediatrician who says she’s sick (obviously; she has a cold) but also has pink eye AND the start of an ear infection. 3 THINGS! SHE GOT SICK WITH A TRIFECTA OF PLAGUES AFTER ONE WEEK AT DAYCARE?! WTF!? IT’S CALLED DAY…. CARE. WHERE’S THE “CARE”?

Side note- did you know Pink Eye is a generic term for conjunctivitis? I thought it was a legit, specific sickness that had to do with getting fecal matter in your eye. Apparently not. I told the pediatrician and my wife this theory and they both looked at me like I was the dumbest man alive.

So… week two of “day-sort-of-care about your kid, but here’s a bunch of diseases” was non existent since we kept her home. Unlike other parents, who have no option but to keep bringing their sick kid to be around other children, we have the option of keeping Emma at home so she doesn’t spread this horribleness. So I was back to working nights- work/life balance was now successfully unbalanced. And we still had to pay the daycare for the days she was home because, you know, waiting list.

By the end of week 2 Emma was on the mend. Monday rolled around she was able to go back to school. No more crusty eyes, no more boogery face and Kelly and I were feeling fine, too. Then Monday night and BAM! I’m sick… again. I don’t know if the first cold was just tricky and laying low until I thought I was in the clear so it could sneak up and ruin my life or if Emma brought home a second illness. She was still finishing out the course of medication from her first cold/ear infection so whatever it is it didn’t hit her at all.

THEN… after one one week back I get a call about Em having a fever. No $#i* she has a fever, that’s where she got sick in the first place. But I have to come pick her up and take her home for 24 hours because the policy is to remove the sick and protect the other kids. I get that. I do. But what I don’t get is that my kid gets sick… from being at daycare.

A VICIOUS CYCLE?

..so the plan… if I got this straight… is to take my precious bundle of joy away from the epicenter of this pandemic and whoever patient zero is, get her healthy at home… and then drop her back off into the middle of the quarantine zone that is daycare? Correct me if I’m wrong, but won’t it all just happen again?

LIES!

Low and behold, when I get Emma home she has no fever, is eating just fine, and smiling, playing, and getting into all sorts of trouble by pulling things off of our shelves. What happened was, and I explained this to the daycare, is that my kid runs hot when she sleeps. She’s like a little star. She radiates so much heat that you could probably blame a good portion of global warming over the past 8 months on her naps. I explained the weird heat phenomenon to the daycare, but protocol dictates that she stays home. Which means I’m back to working at night until I take her back to get sick again.

So that’s daycare. You just kind of throw your kid into a pit of sick children and for the rest of your life you’re just sick. They’re sick, you’re sick. Everyone is sick. Everything has mystery crusty spots. Your kid has coughing fits from now on.

The best part of a coughing fit? When you’re holding them and they look you right in your face and cough. They actually turn in to face you…. face to face, which wasn’t how they were looking before the cough. No. They’re interested in anything but you, but then when the coughing comes, all they want is to look right the eff at you.

No wonder I got sick.

BYE

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to share your stories of parenting, daycare, and your sick kid in the comments down below or on social media. Cheers and Happy Parenting!


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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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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!


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27 Weeks: The Christmas Bandit

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WHAT DO I DDDDRRRRAAAAWWWW!!!

Merry Christmas! Now that the pleasantries are out of the way …

Holy Crap! What a bananas time of year! My kid made out like a bandit. You’d think she was royalty or something with all the stuff she got. 99% of the presents under the tree were for Emma. I guess that happens with babies- people love babies and they shower them with attention and gifts and smooches and weird baby talk. It’s great! Really. It is. The only thing is that my 6 month old is totally oblivious. She’ll look away from you if you don’t speak to her as an adult, she turns her cheek at loving smooches, and she doesn’t know the meaning of gifts.

So what the crap is it all for?

WRAP IT UP!

Wrapping paper. She loves wrapping paper and eating wrapping paper. Obviously, she couldn’t open her own gifts so mommy and daddy helped or else we’d have been there all day watching her eat paper.

Daddy- “OOOH! What’s this?”

Emma- “NOM NOM NOM”

Daddy- “No, not the paper. This toy/clothing/book,etc.”

Emma- “NOM NOM NOM”

Daddy- “GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH YOU’RE RUINING CHRISTMAS!”

She loves wrapping paper.

WHO YOU FOOLIN’?

Here’s what I don’t get- Santa aside, we got Emma some gifts. At this stage in life she got things like clothes and toys to help her become super smart; necessities. All of these things from mommy and daddy were wrapped and put under the tree. WHY?! WHYYYYYY!?

I know what we bought her. She won’t remember the whole unwrapping process. Who is this for? Not Emma. I’ll tell you who it’s for- the adults. We took a lot of photos, none of which we’ll put on the internet because we’re not into showing our kid to the world (despite having a blog about my family), and she was the center of all the photos. Honestly, I could have done without the wrapping. I would have saved a ton of time wrapping a ton of things, and then… unwrapping the same things. But it’s part of our culture and I’ve decided, especially since we had such a low key Thanksgiving, that holidays and life should be celebrated. I have a happy little girl and I want her to learn to celebrate all the great things in life.

The Christmas Bandit

Learning Time

The bandit got a ton of great toys to help her with hand eye coordination, colors, numbers, opposites, feet, songs, etc. All the stuff babies need to learn before you can let them graduate to whatever the next stage of being a kid is. Toddler maybe? Once we got past the wrapping paper she was all about her toys. I mean… All. About. Her. Toys.

Now they’re strewn about my floor like some American Ninja Warrior obstacle. Little rings. Blocks. Washable books. Baby tablets. More blocks. More books. Amazing books. Dolls. Chains of snap together planes, trains, and automobiles. Plus so much more! I’m buried in things.

Now, if these weren’t toys that were meant to teach her some necessary motor skills so she doesn’t end up scooching through the city sitting on a skateboard like a residentially challenged transient absent of her legs, then we probably wouldn’t have given them to her in the first place.

I guess the lesson we would like to teach her is that Christmas isn’t about gifts. We don’t want the commercialism of the holiday to be what she looks forward to every year. It really is better to give than to receive because it fills a void that things never could. After all the lessons about fine motor skills, the alphabet, colors, and shapes, we’ll get her to learn about humanity and how getting new things isn’t the point of Christmas.

Lady Death Strike

This is just a friendly reminder to cut your kid’s nails. If you’ve ever cut your own finger nails too short then you’re familiar with the annoying sting that accompanies your awful mistake. I know if you’ve never done it before then you might be frightened of trimming your baby’s nails too short and inflicting that same traumatic short nail pain on them. The reality is that it’s a mistake to not cut your kids nails. They grow like weeds. They’re thin and sharp like little knives. They don’t mean it, but they claw at your face and rip at your flesh like pissy little kittens. They roll over during nap time and slice into your back, stealing what precious little sleep you get during the day. (Yes, when it’s nap time daddy tries to steal some shut eye, too. And yes, we let her sleep in our bed because she stays asleep a lot longer in there than in her crib.) Cut your kids nails before they cut you like one of Wolverine’s pointy nemeses.

Sizing Issues and the Diaper Dilemma

We’ve had issues with our diapers blowing out more and more frequently. If you’re a new parent then you’ll have recently learned of the number system of diapers. I know that there are at least 3. Why? Because we recently started using 3’s. Each number has a weight limit ascribed to it. For example, 2’s in the Kirkland brand of diaper hold 12-18 lbs …of baby, not dookie. A 12 to 18 lb baby. 3’s on the other hand are rated for 16-28 lb babies. The thing is, though, is that there’s the small 2 lb overlap. You best mind those two lbs. We went right up to 18 lbs and that was a mistake. For days and days it was a mistake. A stinky, messy, mistake.

I blame the two month gap between baby check ups for this oversight. The pediatrician is the one who weighs Emma. How was I supposed to know she gained a gajillion lbs in two months? I blame her mom’s genes for that. Her grandpa, my wife’s father, is a giant, like the nephilim offspring of angels and mortal women; an 8 ft giant full of other-worldly knowledge like how to run a house. My child growing so fast and me not knowing her weight is a product of her nephilim heritage and the poor appointment-scheduling skills of the pediatric industry working against me.

My advice, switch your baby’s diaper over to the next size up at the low end of the weights for the new size, not the high end for the current size. It’s gonna save you a lot of laundry time.

Day Care & the Daddy Blues

So we went to visit a daycare for Emma because she’s going to need to socialize with other people besides mommy and daddy. She’s also going to need a decent influx of germs to help her build up her immunities. It was a great day care. The teachers seemed very kind and knowledgeable and it has kids ranging from infants to preschoolers. So in theory we’d be set for quite a while in regards to her initial education.

I asked a lot of questions, checked on the cleanliness and security of the school, and started to well up a little bit. Yeah, I’m gonna cry when we drop her off that first day. I’m gonna cry hard. Then I’ll sit in the car waiting for her class to get out, just crying like a little beeotch. That’s gonna be me.

Dadbod Update

There are so many great foods during the holidays!!!! My wife makes these amazing giant cinnamon rolls with a delicious frosting. They’re so good you’ll cry. As an adult, you will cry. That’s how good they are. My eyes are still all puffy from crying over how good they are. Also, Costco has a Costco-sized tin of Danish Butter cookies (my favorite). Did I eat them all? Yes. Yes I did. I shared some, but not too many. If I have an addiction, it’s Danish Butter cookies. Aaaaand, just like I PLANNED– I gained weight, thus ensuring that my dad bod stays intact and safe. Not to worry, my body still says, “Hey look at me …I helped make a baby.”

Happy New Year!

Well that’s it for now. The new year is upon us and it’s time to set some unrealistic resolutions that I’ll break. What are your resolutions for the new year? Do you have any advice that will help me not cry in public on Emma’s first day of daycare? Feel free to comment below or on our social media and as always Happy Parenting!


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Merry 6 Month Old & a Happy New Year!

Baby Talk

Grandma and Auntie

Emma had the first of her holiday guests this past week with the arrival of her Aunt and Grandma. Yes, the same grandmother that fed her to the point of explosive dookies and ended her trip earlier than expected so she wouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath. I still maintain that she knew what she was doing and planned the whole thing as revenge for me being a bratty kid.

All in all it was a phenomenal visit. Aside from seeing my family it’s great knowing that there are people out there who love my daughter almost as much as Kelly and I do. I mean, we know it, but it’s wonderful to see that love in action. Of course it goes without saying that when you get a couple of excited, loving Sicilians in the house the volume gets turned up a bit.

On day one, the first thing my ma does is go to Emma’s room where all the light and sound producing toys are kept neatly on a shelf and proceeds to bring them all into the living room for Emma to play with… all at once. I like to use these toys judiciously, as tools to help entertain my daughter when I’m out of ideas. Not my ma, though. It was a cacophony of noise and light, like a bad trip at a laser light show. Mind you, these are all toys she bought Emma in the past 6 months so she knew what to grab. But it didn’t stop there.

As this was an early Christmas visit Emma got to open a few presents so my ma and sis wouldn’t completely miss out since they wouldn’t actually be here on the day. Her aunt gave her some very welcomed and practical clothes, good thing too because my baby is outgrowing everything she owns. My ma… she had more light up toys that made sound. There’s a 3 stage play and learn stuffed puppy that, coincidentally, I’ve been eyeing for awhile. I like the toys that will last a while and grow with your kid, ya know. After buying new clothes on a monthly basis I just want something she won’t outgrow by next week. Thankfully I hadn’t pulled the trigger on that purchase yet. Emma’s not “learning” much yet. She saw the faux fur and must have thought “delicious!” because like all her other stuffed animals she started eating it’s ear. I’ll let you know how her animatronic educator works out.

My favorite toy, though, by far, is a little ball that rolls around on it’s own and teaches colors, animals, and numbers. It’s especially nice when it rolls around and attacks my child as she’s laying on the mat. It’s a completely unpredictable movement and sort of reminds me of how I used to try to dance back in the day. The 90’s weren’t good for dancing. Crazy movements aside, I’m pretty stoked to have this because I think it will help motivate her to crawl. That, or at least stay down for tummy time longer that usual.

On a side note, my family got to see first hand that what I write about in my blog is all true. The stages of crying, the harnesses, the naps, the toys, everything is true. I might exaggerate a bit for humors sake, but I don’t lie.

It was a great visit though and we love seeing family. Kelly and I even got a chance to sneak off for a date day! It’s totally true what they say about parents missing their kids when they’re out. Even though I knew she was safe I couldn’t stop worrying about her. It really didn’t help that the movie we saw had a couple of disturbing plot points involving some children that didn’t make it to the end of the film. Of course Emma’s grandma and aunt took great care of her. The only person who didn’t love the visit was Shinobi.

Beware of Dog

Yeah, Shinobi is all about protecting my kid. I’ve never heard her growl or bark so much at people in our house. Granted, we don’t have people over that often, but it was surprising because she knows my ma and sis. She’s just super protective now. Even as I type this from the foot of my bed where Emma is taking her mid-morning nap, Shinobi is laid out at her feet being super watchful. Actually, since Emma’s been sleeping in our bed, ‘Nobi’s been at her feet the entire time. It makes me so proud of my dog. Good girl!

Sleeper Hold

Luckily she’s down for a nap. It’s been harder and harder to get her to sleep as of late. She’s been extremely combative when it’s time for naps. I have my usual bag of tricks which I employ to get her to doze off, like white noise, singing, playing lullabies through the smart watch, warm milk, etc. Some of it works, but I usually need to go through several concerted efforts before she’s out.

I can tell she’s fighting it because as I’m cradling her in her glider she starts to lazily swing one arm about, like a pro wrestler fighting against a sleeper hold. Her eyelids start to get heavy as her arm flops about, slowly losing steam. The lullabies, the binky, the rocking, all of them taking their toll on her. Then, just like a scripted pro wrestling comeback, her eyes dart open, head flinging back. Her limp arm languidly hanging there shoots up as if she’s feeding off the energy of some invisible audience chanting “EMMA! EMMA! EMMA!”

Awake! She was almost asleep and now, out of nowhere, she’s awake! Regaining her steam, metaphorically jumping off the top rope like the Ultimate Warrior, and essentially body slamming me with surprise. So, in a sort of Stone Cold Stunner, I put her in the daddy saddle and she’s out. She can fight the glider, but not the comforting embrace of daddy dearest and her baby harness. Now that she’s actually cool with facing inwards she’s been falling asleep in her harnesses a lot faster than she used to. Before, I would be walking all around our home just to get her to fall asleep.

Why don’t I start with the harness you ask? Because before I would have to walk all around our home just to get her to fall asleep. Don’t ask a man who wears orthotic inserts to walk around for 45 minutes barefoot. Dumb.

Up Up and Away

But she loves her harnesses. I think she just likes to be up high. Once she sees you and she isn’t being held by anyone then her arms shoot straight up demanding to be lifted out of her current, low status predicament. That’s princess behavior is what that is. I’m not the only one who succumbs to her “PICK ME RIGHT THE @&*# UP NOW” body language. My ma and sis fell victim to that, too. Last week I described the stages of crying and they saw them first hand. My sister’s goal all week? Don’t let Emma get past stage 2.

Ultimately, once she’s up and has engaged the world from her crows nest for too long she’ll get tuckered out. This is mainly due to her whipping around from side to side in your arms to see everything that’s going on …even if nothing is going on. A lot of the times it’s just her avoiding my face. She has this thing where she won’t look at whoever is holding her. Like she’s too good to make eye contact with the help. That’s princess behavior is what that is.

When she has no time for me to be her manservant and chaufer her around the house she’s making progress on moving around on her own. We’re still not crawling yet, but we found out that some kids don’t always crawl. Sometimes they go straight to walking.

Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Currently she’s just rolling. Everywhere. She rolls right off her play mat and right through the open concept house. It goes like so:

Baby: roll roll roll

Daddy: “Hey Emma, where ya going?”

Baby: blank stare, but intense eye contact

Daddy: “Come on back.”

Baby: Stares back as if to say, “Screw you dad, I’m Audi 5000” and continues to roll away.

Apparently, and this is my legit advice for new parents, some kids just scootch and roll. Crawling happens around 7 to 10 months of age, but with the new guidelines for keeping kids from sleeping on their stomach there’s a trend for new babies to crawl later or just skip it all together. If you haven’t heard of the Back to Sleep movement initiative thing, it’s all about keeping kids on their backs while they sleep to reduce the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). See what they did there, back to sleep… sleeping on your back. Word play!

Emma’s started rolling onto her tummy when she sleeps. It has Kelly freaked out. I’m mildly concerned, but not worried. Is that bad parenting or have I just settled into being a dad? It’s not like I leave her on her tummy. I flip her like a flapjack if I find her sleeping on her belly. But I used to sleep on my tummy with my bottom up in the air. In yoga that move is aptly named “child’s pose.” It feels great. Try it. Speaking of Yoga and working out-

Dadbod Update

It’s the holidays. ‘Nuff said.

Happy Holidays

Well that’s it for this week. Emma’s going to have more guests coming into town to fawn over and dote on her and I’ll be writing all about it. I hope your holidays are warm and festive and thanks for spending a little bit of it with us. If you have any toys that your kids like or that you think are especially great for parents, or any advice for parenting during the holidays let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading and happy parenting!


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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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