Friday, December 28, 2007

Imitation is the sincerest form...

So, The Boy, this morning, started trying to figure out how Daddy does that raspberry thing on his belly, by pushing his lips together and vocalizing through them. This is incredibly cute, particularly since the only thing that REALLY happens, right now, is that he propels spit all over the place. Baby spit, at this age, is still really cute. All is good.

I'm glad that he's trying to figure this out now, and not in a couple / few months, when we're feeding him solid food. I want to get it into & out of his system so it isn't a huge deal later on.

That leads into thought of, "What habits are cute right now, and not so much later on?" There's the burping and farting thing - right now, every burp & every fart is rewarded with kisses and hugs and smiles, as he's learning to use the various evacuation points on his body. It becomes significantly less cute as he gets older. It doesn't get less funny, though - burping and farting, to guys, only gets funnier as the years pass. It just gets progressively less cute.

Have I mentioned lately that I'm not looking forward to introduction-to-solid-food poop? I was reading about it - again - in Parents Magazine. I'm not looking forward to it. The breastmilk stuff is really pretty inoffensive; the solid food stuff, considerably more offensive - particularly as his body is trying to figure out how to digest food.

Not to worry, though. The reflex of pushing things OUT of his mouth is still in effect, meaning that he's not really close to solid food yet. I'm sure that we could push it - but, why? Breastmilk costs the right amount. We need the money, particularly as I'm a housewife with expensive tastes.

In other news, we bought Rock Band with some Christmas money. This is awesome. I'll post a review later. This game can be played with The Boy watching to no real detriment; although, the two hours that I've spent playing it should probably been spent doing other things.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This Christmas...

Isn't it amazing how a song like "This Christmas," which was only first written and performed within the last ten years or so (ed. note: Chris Brown released it as a single in 1970... only off by about thirty years, genius), has become such a standard nowadays? It's impossible to miss it... everyone sings it on their albums.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately - the Mac crashed on Sunday night, leaving us laptop-less in the house. Not to worry - we have an old PC laptop that serves it purpose, but it's annoying to be down to only 3 internet-ready things, counting the Playstation. ZOMG, I can't believe that that much of my life is wrapped up in these things... the only real tragedy is that I have SO MUCH WORK on the Mac that I really, really need - barbershop chorus stuff, school stuff, learning tapes, etc, that's most likely gone.

What does that teach me? Back up the hard drive on a regular basis. >sigh<

Anyway, Christmas was great. The Boy slept through the entire presents-opening up experience, but he did stay awake for Cousin J's birthday celebration earlier in the day and for Christmas Day dinner with the Furry Cousins. He was a great kid, very good natured and adaptable, although we did leave earlier than we would have liked in order to bring him home before he got TOO cranky. My work schedule was kind of intense - Sunday morning mass, followed by an extra rehearsal, followed by singing with the BAC, then Monday masses at 4 & 8 surrounding dinner & presents - but survivable. Thank God I wasn't teaching last week, or I'd be hurting right now.

The rest of this afternoon is clean-up time. Do the floors, dust the house, etc., because the in-laws are coming. Info on presents to follow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quick Review: The First Years Newborn-to-Toddler Tub



This tub ($16.99) was what we bought for The Boy right away. Not shown is the hammock for putting baby in before he can take real tub baths. The hammock is washable. The tub was designed to stand free or fit into a sink. Or in the bathtub. We have a large counter space in the bathroom, so we just put it on the countertop.

Like any other infant/toddler bathing apparatus, you don't leave baby out of arm's reach, and you have to hold up a baby until his head-holding skills are decent. The Boy was able to bathe in this at about 6 weeks without needing an entire hand of support all the time. Before that, one hand had to support him always and the other would be for washing. One side is for a reclining small infant, and the other is for a seated infant/toddler.

Pros: sponge-bath hammock, water reservoir, free-standing, padded back. Also relatively boy-friendly--many infant tubs come up between the legs of babies and the boys look uncomfortable. This doesn't do that.

Cons: Seems difficult sometimes to clean the diaper area because of how baby is seated. The feet part of the tub get dirty easily. Not sure exactly how long he'll be in this--hopefully by the time he's too big for it, he'll be ready to bathe in the tub. Storage is also a challenge. Ours fits between the toilet and the tub.

This is a good item to have. Put it on your registry if you have one--it's pretty inexpensive, so someone could pick it up for you. Also, if you register for ONE, hopefully other people will not buy you more baby tubs.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh, give me the jazz, the razzmatazz...

Just when I opened my big, fat mouth and said to The Wife that we have a reasonable expectation that The Boy will sleep until 5 o'clock in the morning... it's 3:45, and I'm awake with him. He's got all the energy in the world, on his Jumperoo making lots of noise and going absolutely nutso. The cool thing about it, as I watch him, is his wonderful ability to stay focused on The Musical Daddy, no matter how crazy he gets; and his ability to keep his head rock steady without leaning on stuff. He also understands things like waving bye-bye, because when I waved at him, he smiled and bounced. He's not waving yet, but I think he understands it. He's also drooling up a storm - does that mean he's teething?

Lord, he's huge. I mean, really, really big. It wasn't that long ago that he was a very portable size - under ten pounds, under two feet long. Not anymore. He's wearing mostly 9 month clothing right now, as he approaches month #4 of life. I said to my wife last night that I can start to see the shape of his real face already, start to see how he'll grow into the man he'll eventually become.

(I'll still whup his little bootie, even when he's bigger 'n me. That's just life. Daddy fights MUCH dirtier.)

(Please don't take that to mean that I beat my kid. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Just trying to break away from the maudlin with a little joke.)

Tomorrow's a big day - teaching a couple of lessons up north, followed by Christmas carols at the veteran's hospital in Lyons, NJ. It'll be a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work. I think I have another 45 minutes or so before I trade off with The Wife and let her take care of this current incarnation of Tigger.

It HAS been a long time since he's done this - been so active so early in the morning. I hope this isn't the start of a new habit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Give the singer a chance...

(Blood Sweat & Tears, Applause Applause)

Yesterday, The Boy was incredibly great to be around. I mean, in every single way, he was a GREAT kid yesterday. Now, putting things in perspective - he's suffering from his first cold right now. He's coughing, and stuffy-nosed, and clearly not his best. Neither is the ol' Musical Daddy - my throat's killing me, and my asthma's acting up. I was going to stay home yesterday, but I couldn't - I'm the only other person in my chorus who can sing all four parts, so I had to go. I felt a real obligation to go to the caroling at the senior center - it's the least we can do, you know?

So, The Boy & I packed into the car at 9AM yesterday and headed out. It was a 70 minute trip to the seniors' center, mostly because I took a stupid way to get there. He slept the whole way, which was fine - I listened to more of Brad Meltzer's book, "The Millionaires," which I downloaded for free from iTunes. We arrived, and he woke up as we left the car. His car seat fits inside his stroller, so we went inside.

I changed him on the table in the warm-up room, and the small chorus - 7 guys, including me - warmed up the holiday set. We went inside and sang. After the third song, The Boy was restless inside his stroller; so, I strapped him into the front carrier, facing outwards, and sang the rest of the show. He was a big hit: quiet, responsive to the music and very cute. The songs that he knew - The Story of the Rose, My Wild Irish Rose, which The Wife & I sing to him all the time - he got excited, smiling and kicking out and grabbing on to my hands.

He fell asleep in the car on the way to IHOP for a music meeting and woke up in time to be fed as we finished eating. At the high school - where I stopped to drop off some paperwork - he was a big hit, and the high school girls literally lined up for a chance to hold him or to touch him or to kiss him. (Lucky guy!) My son's the biggest flirt on the planet, so he was in hog heaven. He definitely likes the pretty girls!

Seriously, he was awesome. REALLY well-behaved. I wish that I could take credit, but I know that kids his age operate more on random chance than anything else.

Interesting thing: twice, the care center workers asked me to give the baby to them so they could "show the residents." Are you kidding me? I don't know who you are or where you've been. Why would I give a sick child to you to show off to a bunch of sick people, without me there? I understand why - nothing can bring nursing care residents out of their daily comas quicker than a cute kid - but, still. No. Not gonna happen.

Review: Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo



The Wife & I bought the Rainforest Jumperoo about two weeks before The Boy was born - this was one of those things that she had researched and heard good things about on her Mommy discussion boards. This came in a nice, big, flat box - "some assembly required." No problem. I put it together immediately after we brought him home from the hospital.

The thing takes up space - no doubt. It's big and solid, taking about as much room as a nice living room chair does. It's solid and somewhat heavy, so there's no chance of a baby getting that sucker to move very far. So, The Boy can safely go nuts on the jumper without The Musical Daddy worrying about him knocking over the Christmas tree or (God forbid) the HDTV. Oh, yeah - he's not going to fall & hurt himself, either.

The Rainforest Jumperoo is designed for babies around 14 to 15 pounds and up; when The Boy was smaller, his feet didn't touch the ground and he had a hard time keeping himself erect. To solve that, I started by putting some boxes underneath his feet to let them touch the ground; when he got heavy enough, the boxes were replaced by a blanket. (We've got hardwood floors, and they get cold in the winter. I didn't want him freezing his toes or slip-sliding around.) Little-little babies are going to want to wait before they play in this one.

It's got a lot of fun things to do on the sides, to keep him entertained. The first thing is the sounds - cute music and animal noises (monkeys, lions, etc.) play whenever they move around in the gym. The music and sounds, even after a month or so of steady, three or four times daily use, is not annoying and has not required a change of batteries. (The music can be turned off without removing the batteries for those with less of a noise tolerance than me.) Also, three lights on the main dashboard light up whenever the music plays. This, in and of itself, is enough to keep The Boy entertained for a long, long time. Aside from that, there are five main "action stations." Around the lights, there's a little elephant, parrot & monkey that move when grabbed, along with a nice, sturdy plastic handle for the baby to use to steady himself. There's a spinning rainbow wheel, a rainbow with a spinning sun above a "hiding" tiger (press the button and he comes out), a bug on a stick and another spinny-wheel. Above the bouncing rails is a blue frog and a parakeet, hanging from leaves. The blue frog was a favorite of The Boy's, for a long time.

Recently, this has supplanted the bouncy chair as the place to keep The Boy amused while I'm cooking, cleaning or otherwise need two free hands. The chair is kind of boring for him now, and this is new and keeps him out of trouble. He stays in it for three to five minutes before getting antsy; sometimes he's in it for ten minutes or more. He can really get bouncing intensely on the thing; I'm happy that he has a place where he can use up a lot of energy while playing safely. He does not, at 3.5 months old, know how to use most of the toys; right now, he's content holding on to the big plastic handles and watching the lights and listening to the music.

I recommend this to anyone who has a kid big enough to make it worthwhile, or for anyone with a short attention span that needs lots of stimulation.

Pros: lots of neat toys; fun sounds & lights keeps him amused; great exercise & leg strengtheners, plus practice keeping upright; relatively easy to assemble - only took about a half hour; sturdy enough to keep the baby safe while he's on it, but DON'T leave it unattended!

Cons: Not the best construction, because one of the posts seems to be looser than the others, and I can't figure out why; chair is supposed to rotate, but it's hard to do; not very easy to take the set cloth out for washing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Come Monday, it'll be all right...

Bonus points if you knew that the title was from a Jimmy Buffet song. Buffet is way, way underrated - his songs are, for the most part, catchy and singable. Yes, he is writing the same stuff he did 25 years ago; but there is something to be said for a person who finds his niche and is content creating inside of it. I saw him live, once, in Virginia... some buddies of mine painted a pickup gray, taped fins to the side & top, drew teeth on the front & drove a shark to the show. Awesome times.

This was a pretty good weekend, all told. We were iced / snowed in today... truth be told, I could have driven up for church singing & teaching lessons, but I just didn't feel like it. The trips would have taken twice as long as normal, and I wasn't in the mood to sit in the car for four hours today. Mommy had lots of time with her baby this weekend, as I was singing on the Chorus Tree Friday night, teaching lessons all day (9 to 3) Saturday and doing my math homework on Sunday. This is not a bad thing; baby need Mommy as much or more than baby needs Daddy.

I'm wondering how it will affect the filial relationships, to have me spending so much time with the baby in the first years of his life! True, he's still eating Mommy's Milk, and that taste has to be a strong associative, but the fact is that I'm with him constantly from 6:30AM, when she leaves for work, until 3:15PM when she gets home, and I have him for some time in the other hours, too... it's amazingly unreasonable of me to think that she'll be in charge of The Boy from the moment she walks in the door until the moment she leaves again. It's just not going to happen that way! She loves him, and she needs & loves to spend time with him; but, she's working hard all day at school and needs to do things like rest and sleep.

She does take care of him most of the time when she's home. She doesn't necessarily need to do that, but - with me working 20-ish hours per week after her school gets over, and with me doing this online master's degree thing - she steps up to the plate every single time. I think we do have a good enough relationship that, when she tells me she needs help, she knows that I'll drop everything and help her.

But still, what effect will this have on The Boy? Hopefully, it will allow us to have a closer relationship while he's growing up. Yes, I know that once they go to school and get to be teenagers and stuff that all bets are off. I've taught for 8 years in the public schools and talked things over with enough parents to know. I hope and pray that I can have a strong relationship with him - where I can help him learn right and wrong and help him avoid tilting at the windmills that have knocked me flat on my ass, and where I can allow him to make his mistakes and to learn the lessons he needs to learn as safely as possible.

And, most importantly, help him from making horrible life mistakes, like rooting for the Boston Red Sox or the Dallas Cowboys, or playing the drums, or liking Angel more than Spike, or liking Cannonball more than Coltrane.

This week, The Boy will be coming with me on Wednesday, on a LONG trip up to Wayne, NJ, to sing Christmas carols for a former Dapper Dan member who is not doing so well in a nursing home up there. Should be interesting...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Review: Fisher Price Infant Seat to Toddler Rocker

(This is a relatively recent picture of The Boy, in his chair.)

We bought the Fisher Price Infant Seat to Toddler Rocker at a garage sale for $5, from friends of ours whose daughters have graduated from toddlerhood to small childhood. They were getting rid of a lot of infant stuff, and this was one of the things that they sold on the cheap to us, two weeks before The Boy was born.

The chair is set on green rockers, with dark blue plastic pieces to block the chair from rocking TOO much. The fabric on the chair is supportive and soft, but very machine washable. It's relatively easy to get off, being attached by plastic clasps at the base. The chair has a "soothing vibrations" option, running on two D batteries, that has an easy-to-work, easy-to-see switch. The post that holds the toys is easy to remove by an adult, not so much by the child (fortunately). The three toys that are hanging from it (which might not be the originals, as this chair survived through two of their children) are a blue rattle, a purple monkey that plays the refrain of "If You're Happy And You Know It" and a thingie with some rings and plushy. The chair has a strap that comes up between the baby's legs and attaches to plastic clasps next to the baby's hips.

Pros: It's easy to get The Boy in and out of the chair. He can easily kick his feet and get the chair to rock back and forth. He likes reaching for the toys - the purple monkey, in particular, is a great target for him to beat up. The safety strap is easy to attach and keeps The Boy secure. The calming vibrations switch is easy on the batteries, although I haven't run it for lengths of time. The seat is easy to remove and to wash, so any spills and accidents are cleanable. The chair does not rock TOO far, no matter how hard he kicks.

Cons: The calming vibrations don't do anything for The Boy. He doesn't respond any differently whether they are on or off. The toys aren't THAT interesting to him.

This was, possibly, the best purchase that we made for the baby. In the first month or two of life in particular, he LOVED his chair. This chair was a place to put him, secure and safe, while we showered or used the bathroom, and he would frequently nap on it. One of the first things that he learned to do, physically, was to kick his feet and make the chair move - and he was very, very proud of it and enjoyed doing it! Now that he's a sophisticated three and a half months old, he doesn't get as much joy from it, even though he still sits in it when we're showering, eating or I'm working out.

The calming vibrations aren't really an option for The Boy, as they do nothing; I've heard from different people that their kids love the vibrations. Still, it was really, really cool to see him kick his feet and move the chair on his own.

This seat, or something like it, is a must-buy for any baby, in my opinion. This chair saved us - when The Boy needed to sit up and look around, he had his chair. This chair was great for him to nap in when he was brand new in life.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Review: Diaper Champ Diaper Pail

The Wife found this diaper pail after doing some research on her mommy's discussion groups, so we bought it about two weeks before The Boy was born. It's a sturdy plastic thing about three feet tall - and it's VERY sturdy. I'm sure that it can stand up to abuse by a little person, once he's up and moving around. It seems fairly easy to operate - put the dirty diaper in the top, and flip the handle over. The bottom of the diaper catch moves, and gravity helps push the diaper into the bottom of the pail. No muss, no fuss - use one hand and it will (allegedly) get the diaper where it needs to go.

Pros: Takes normal tall kitchen garbage bags - one trip to CostCo and you're set until he's potty trained. The slick plastic on the device makes it extremely easy to wipe clean when contents spill over the side. The device does quite a good job at concealing odors. The baby's room smells like poopy sometimes, but that's kind of unavoidable, as the changing table is the start of the sewerage system.

Cons: The device frequently jams because the sliding / moving bottom of the diaper catch will frequently grab the ends of the diapers. This means that the handle will not move until you slam the thing enough to shake the diaper loose or until you open it up and grab the diaper and pull it free, thus shooting the "one-hand operation" all to heck.

Thoughts: It looks nice, and the disposal theory is sound. The actual execution is a little bit frustrating for me. Granted, I'm not a mechanical genius, but I do have a master's degree - chances are, if there was a more efficient way to operate the pail, I'd know how to do it. Considering this, and considering the price - a quick check on Babies 'R' Us's website shows that this is the 2nd most expensive diaper pail out of the 4 they had available - it seems to me that there has to be a better system. If you remember to jiggle the handle after every use, then it's okay. Not great, but okay. If you don't, then you're going to be unpleasantly surprised when a used diaper needs to be disposed of while a squirming baby is doing his best to take a header off of the changing table.

(Is it scary that I almost typed "training table"?)

For the cloth diapers, this thing is a total mess. It's not equipped to handle the immensely larger cloth diapers. Right now, considering that we use a combination of Bum Genius diapers, the trifolds & the fitted cloth diapers, a better option is the chrome garbage can with the step-pedal that opens it (most of the time). It doesn't do quite as good of a job concealing odors, but we don't let the diapers sit there all night - we put the diapers on wash after dinner and let them dry, leaving only post-dinner diapers to contend with. We use the littler step-pedal chrome garbage can to hold the dirty diaper wipes.

Do I recommend this? This gets a "meh." There might be better. I'm sure there are worse.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I get by...

So, The Boy has been exploring various things lately. Last week (or two weeks ago - time kind of melds together), he discovered his toes during a diaper change. That was absolutely fascinating to him. It shouldn't be a new discovery - we play the "This little piggy" game (which I question in a kosher home, but that's another discussion) - but the newness was that he could actually reach them, if he so desired. This provided moderate entertainment value for him at the time.

The big discovery happened on Sunday or Monday - I noticed it on Monday, and I think that the Wife noticed it on Sunday. He discovered, again during a diaper change, that he's got an extra appendage that he hadn't noticed before. And, he now takes great pleasure in grabbing it whenever we change his diaper - during the nudity section in between diapers and immediately following. This, incidentally, is much more fun in a disposable diaper (which is relatively thin) then in the cloth diapers (which are thicker).

Hey, man, whatever floats his boat... I'm okay with it if he is. The really, really, hysterically funny thing about it is the ear-to-ear, full-toothless grin that he gets when he grabs it. It is as if he's proudly saying, "Look, Mom! Look, Dad! Look what I've got! And, I CAN GRAB IT!"

Ah, boys will be boys... although, I'm sure girls have similar habits. I'll let you know when the daughter is born in a couple of years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Like the first time, only better...

Tonight, The Boy came to my chorus' rehearsal, and he was magnificent. After a minor crisis at the beginning - his dinner milk was too cold, and I had to impose upon the cafeteria people to get a pitcher of hot water to warm it up - he behaved unbelievably sweetly and well for the rest of the evening! He stayed in the front carrier for most of the night, which was good for me - forced me to keep my hands steady and small, instead of conducting all over the place and jostling him around too much. Plus, he kept grabbing at my hands when they passed by him, which also kept me on my toes - nothing like trying to conduct a sensitive phrase only to lose the use of one hand to a baby who needs something to chew on. After the break, he went into the carriage / car seat, and alternated between there & being held by me until he fell asleep at the end of the rehearsal.

Cute moment #14: we were learning the beginning of "76 Trombones." I was conducting the guys to show the rhythm - all of a sudden, we looked over at the carriage, and The Boy was conducting along with me! His right hand was bouncing up and down, like mine, at the tempo of the music! He's a genius. Hopefully, he'll inherit my wife's ears, my leadership skills, her musicianship and my conducting hands... not that we're trying to put any pressure on him.

Five bucks says that he'll conduct better than I do by his fifth birthday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Review: Bum Genius Cloth Diapers

We've tried three different types of cloth diapers, since we've switched from disposables. They've been:

Trifold cloth diapers: This is, basically, a rectangular piece of cloth that is triple-folded to have a thick, absorbent strip down the middle of the diaper. It is held together by diaper pins or by a nifty little plastic claw-thing. When you're using these, you put a pair of rubber pants on the baby over the diaper to prevent leakage. Pros: inexpensive; good for the environment. Cons: VERY uncomfortable for The Boy when they're wet; must be changed immediately when wet, which tends to cut naps VERY short; also, try pinning a diaper on a grumpy, thrashing baby.

Blue Penguin form-fitted cloth diapers: This is similar to the tri-fold diapers, except they're form-fitted to a baby's behind and have plastic snaps to hold the diaper in place. These are more absorbent than the trifolds, but they still need to be changed VERY promptly upon evacuation. These came with two or three really cool diaper covers - plastic pants that snapped into place with plastic snaps, decorated with some really cool designs. High fashion for babies, indeed! Pros: still mostly inexpensive, slightly better at absorbing a little bit of pee; don't stain easily when washed correctly; still good for the environment by reducing throw-away stuff; cool looking covers. Cons: still must be changed promptly, no waiting - wakes The Boy up when he sleeps.

The biggest cons of the above come with the fact that nothing whisks the moisture away from the genital area. The Boy's got a horrendous diaper rash above his equipment, one that's been there for a few weeks without letup. I'm convinced this is because the moisture just sits there instead of moves away from the area. Plus, there's the whole washing-of-diapers thing, which is going to happen every day or every other day; there's no diaper service in Scotch Plains, NJ, to the best of our knowledge. The diapers need to be washed carefully, or they will stain permanently.

This absorption problem is mostly taken care of by the diaper we've stuck with: The Bum Genius diaper, from Cotton Babies. This diaper has a wonderful, soft inside, with a pouch that contains an absorbent cotton strip in the middle. The cotton is removable and must be taken out before washing; but, what this does is remove most of the moisture from around the baby's junk, leaving them almost as dry as a disposable diaper. These are smart-looking, coming in different colors, and attach easily with velcro strips. The pros to this are all of the above pros, plus the fact that this diaper really does absorb more stuff and is a LOT more comfortable for The Boy. Now that he's starting to sleep five or six hours at a time at night, he needs something that's going to absorb more stuff instead of waking him up when wet. (Yes, I realize the inherent contradiction of being concerned that he's got a nasty diaper rash, and then wanting him to wear a wet diaper for longer; I'll accept that contradiction for the sake of my sanity.) These diapers attach to the baby a lot easier and a LOT more securely than the other two; The only times there's been issues of leakage have been when we put the diaper on the wrong size-snap setting, and stuff leaked out the bottom.

The issues: they're a LOT more expensive than the other two. We've got eight or nine, and that means that we're washing the diapers every night. (Hope we don't get home too late, or we're staying awake for an extra 45 minutes.) They need to be washed specifically: on a quick rinse cold setting with a little bit of detergent, then on a hot setting, with soak time, with a 2nd spin cycle with less detergent. Then, tumble dry on medium. It's not hard, but it's specific. Also, the diaper rash cream interferes with the absorbency of the diaper, which has made treating The Boy's rash problematic - do I put cream on it and risk him peeing out the top of the diaper, or do I let it sit and potentially get worse?

I'm not entirely convinced that the cloth diapers are a step up from the disposables. The disposables do have perfumes and stuff on them that is irritating to The Boy's skin; that rash was replaced by a rash around his Thingie that looks painful. Which is better, which is worse? Your decision. For me, I'm not willing to make waves - The Wife wants cloth, we have cloth. I feel good that I'm not contributing 20 pounds of wet diapers into the landfills every week - just a small plastic bag of used wipes.

(I'm not quite emotionally prepared for reusable wipes yet.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A boy named Sue...

That's not really his name, I just can't think of anything appropriate to post. I think this one is more titled "Momma's Boy."

This week, The Boy has been a Momma's Boy. He's been so much happier and more content with his momma than with his poppa. I understand that it's not a lack of love thing; it's just one of the cyclical things that happen. If I piss him off in a given day, then he's going to want to spend more time with his source of food. Yes, I give him as many hugs, kisses and snuggles as his mommy does, but there's just something DIFFERENT about being with Mommy!

This is a normal thing with children. They pendulum-swing back and forth between the two parents at different times in their lives. It's okay. Last week, he was in a Daddy cycle. He screamed whenever The Wife came by. Not entirely surprising - she's the one who wields "The Boogie Man," the little squeezie-ball that gets the boogers out of his nose. He hates that, as would anyone! She also trims his fingernails. (I just don't notice yet.) And, she gives him baths... but he's pretty ambivalent about the baths. Some days, he likes 'em. Some days, he doesn't. Today, he didn't, and he REALLY didn't like being taken nekkid into the warmth.

Again, not surprising. Our house is a cold house. Our air circulation system is set up poorly, because the bedrooms are all on top of the garage - this means that any heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer is severely blunted by the lack of carpet on the hard wood floors. The bedrooms are WAY too cold in the winter and WAY too hot in the summer.

This week, The Wife has concerts - three, to be specific, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Each day has an in-school performance and an evening performance. I'm going to attend Monday's, probably during the school day; that might be it, although I'll try on Wednesday. I, myself, have caroling on Tuesday night and on Wednesday evening. Wednesday is at the Veteran's hospital, and The Boy will come with me. I hope he's in a good mood!

I'm not so worried about him crying during The Wife's concerts, mostly because I'll be there. I can soothe him pretty darn well ('cause I'm the daddy, that's why!!!). It's the performances where I'm involved and no other parent is present, that's worrisome. Still, it's going to be a problem for as long as he's a child, so he might as well get used to it.

I've decided, with this blog, that I'm going to start to review some of the baby products that The Wife & I use. I'll start tomorrow-ish. There's some good and some bad stuff out there, and - if any other parents are reading this - maybe I can give some good advice.

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world!

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Call To Arms

Today, I read in the Newark Star Ledger about the movie "The Golden Compass." Apparently, " the conservative watchdog Catholic League and the evangelical-activist group Focus on the Family both loudly urge parents to boycott the movie and ban the books."

To me, any book that has religious watchdog groups and activist groups asking for it to be banned should be bought by every right-thinking human being out there - particularly if the book is being banned for being potentially "satannic." The book from which the movie was made, "The Northern Lights," comes from a series ("His Dark Materials") written by a British man, Phillip Pullman. The book explores other realities, the nature of divinity and grand quests and such. Fairly standard, really - it seems like a reasonably well-written science fiction / fantasy series written for children & young adults.

But, these idiots called for banning are lumping it in with Harry Potter and To Kill A Mockingbird - which, to me, puts it in very good company. Keep in mind that, apparently, this book & series has won numerous MAJOR awards for literary excellence. After all, any book that causes people to think and to reconsider "standard" philosophy is an immediate threat to a group of people that pride themselves on ignorance and complete lack of individual thought and idea.

One would think that, in this day and age, the idea of banning a book would be considered ludicrous and ignorant. I would think that we would have learned from such accepting and socially beneficial groups as the Nazi party, that we would have learned to be open to new ideas and to find reasonable and rational ways to deal with people who disagree with our personal philosophies. It seems to me that a better response would be to read the frakking book or to watch the movie, and to figure out the following:

#1: does the book / movie ACTUALLY say anything subversive and / or destructive in it? And, if so, how is it destructive?

#2: does the book / movie function as an exercise in imagination and fantasy, in the same style as the nursery rhymes and fairy tales that we've entertained children with for centuries, or is the movie designed to attack religion?

For instance, look at the Lord of the Rings. We have a quest where a small group of underpowered individuals face off against a much larger, more powerful enemy in a world-sweeping quest to destroy the enemy's real power. The quest involves magic, magical races and creatues and a great darkness spreading across the land.

Harry Potter? A small group of underpowered individuals, facing off against a much larger and more powerful enemy in a Britain-sweeping quest to destroy the enemy. The quest involves magic, magical creatures, a magical school and a darkness spreading across the land.

So, why is one hailed as a great work of literature & an Academy Award winning movie, and the other as dangerous?

More later. The baby is waking.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

I'm a Christmas freak. I know, it's kind of weird - I married into a Jewish family and have a son that I'm raising Jewish. But, I love Christmas an awful lot. I love the decorations, I love the lights, I love my inflatable snowman & my deer with the electric motors that make their heads move. I love Christmas trees, I love presents and I love Christmas shopping. I love everything about the holiday - I love holiday music, I love holiday parties, I love holiday concerts. It's all good.

My living room has vomited Christmas right now. I'm slow this year, getting the decorations out - between my funny work schedule (baby during the day, teaching at night), my class schedule and my life schedule (the rare occasions I see The Wife and have meals with her), I just haven't gotten around to it. But, my tree is up and strewn with lights. I haven't hung the ornaments on it yet. My light sets are out, just not spread around outside yet - that's tomorrow's job.

I usually like to do the decorating during Thanksgiving break, but my in-laws are uncomfortable with the whole idea of Christmas things, so out of respect, I don't do 'em then. Whatever. It doesn't make a difference - usually, I've done the weekend right after. Last weekend I was a bit under the weather and didn't put 'em up.

Mmmm... good stuff. I want a house like the Griswalds. My brother's done it. I'm next. The Boy will help when he's able. It's just FUN.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Does whatever a spider can...

The Boy is really clingy this week. So far, in both weekdays, he's been a little daddy's boy (kind of like a momma's boy, but different because she's not home right now). He's needed to spend a lot of time being held, and he hasn't wanted to play in his chair much, or play on his playsets. Not that I mind this, although it does make teaching lessons challenging. It's hard to play saxophone when holding a baby.

Yesterday was funny. I taught a saxophone lesson at home, and the young man that I was teaching brought a tenor sax. The Boy was in his bouncy chair in a corner of the room, alternating between watching us and trying to catch that Bad Purple Monkey hanging from the chair. With this particular student, who is new to the tenor, I was working on helping get a better sound - that happens when he actually starts to put enough air in the horn. (In other words, BLOW HARD.) He was doing that, after a brief warmup period, and we were playing some nice, forte scales. We finished a C major scale, played loud, and - the second we finished - The Boy burst into hysterical tears because the noise scared the crap out of him. He was picked up and soothed quickly, but the two older people in the room were amused.

(Okay, I don't like scaring my kid. That's not why it was funny. It was funny because we had just finished playing a scale, and he played it with the best sound & rhythm that he'd played that scale on tenor - and THEN The Boy decided that he was scared and needed to scream. That is funny, bo doubt.)

I put him in the door-hanging bouncy seat, and he was fine after that. No worries, and Mommy came home ten minutes into the lesson to save the day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back in the old routine...

The last couple of days has seen us fall back into older patterns of behavior with The Boy. He's been lots fussier for no apparent reason, and he hasn't been sleeping particularly well at night or during the day. That's not to say that he hasn't been catching his catnaps - he will still drink himself into insensibility on a regular basis. "Asleep at the boob," The Wife calls it.

Hey, he's a busy guy. It's a lot of work to eat and poop and play.

The doctor said that he'll hit another growth spurt around 3 months - and, he was three months officially on Friday. Some of this is doubtlessly due to growing pains. I don't know if I ever experienced them - I certianly don't remember experiencing growing pains, and I've been taller than most people my age for most of my life. I'll bet it's not comfortable, though, particularly when you're only two feet tall.

The Wife & I think that he might be teething. He might not be cutting his first tooth per se, but it seems likely that stuff is on the move in there. (If it's true, I feel horrendous for her. I cannot imagine that it's fun to nurse a baby when he has teeth and doesn't understand that IT HURTS when you bite certain things.) That, I understand, causing immense & agonizing pain for the young ones.

Still, I'm hoping he gets back on that wonderful six-ish hours of uninterrupted sleep cycle soon. I was really enjoying that. I know not to expect that he's going to sleep through the night with any regularity now, and I do enjoy the accidental nights that it happens; but, this every three hours things is getting old.

Not to mention the fact that it's really challenging to deal with a baby who is screaming hysterically for no apparent reason. He won't eat, he won't sleep, he won't play, he's just SCREAMING, for twenty to thirty minutes at a time. During that time, he's really inconsolable - and I've always been good at working with babies, even before I had my own. Yesterday was just not a happy day for the baby. Today seems to be okay, but we haven't done much. 5AM feeding, an 8:30 feeding that he fell asleep during, and now a cute, warm lump on my chest with its rear end sticking up into the air.

(That's funny, how when they sleep on a person, they stick their fannies in the air. I get a great kick out of that.)

This week, I need to finish my first math course, set up holiday decorations, clean the house for my sister-in-law and her controversial boyfriend to come visit and set up piano accompaniments for a chorus rehearsal I'm running on Wednesday. Sigh. Too much to do.

Friday, November 30, 2007

For a more peaceful world (or, starting 'em young)...

Light Up Your Face With Gladness...

It's an odd feeling, being a parent. So frequently, in the first couple of months, all The Boy really and truly wants is attention: a smile from Daddy, or to be picked up, or just held, or just have a finger to squeeze. All of this "power" and responsibility is a little bit daunting, when you think about it. I mean, who the heck am I, to be the person in charge of this life?

This morning, The Boy was having a good old time, bouncing in his chair - as he is wont to do. (This was, natch, after he spent all night fussing at his Furry Cousins' house, staying awake until 1AM and screaming for a good chunk of the morning. Cie la vie.) He had a good head of steam built up and was just enjoying himself.

Yet, every time I looked over at him, he was staring at me. I looked at him and smiled, and he smiled that gorgeous, toothless smile that is so endearing and beautiful. He kicked harder, to show Daddy that he was having fun. I'd look away, then look back and smile, and he's smile broadly again at me. For about twenty minutes, he was looking at nothing but me, wanting only a smile and a touch.

You'd not think that that's daunting. Yet, it is. What's the catch?

The answer to that is obvious. The catch is the sleepless nights, the immense amounts of time invested, the money spent on clothes and toys that are used for a week and then outgrown... not to mention the wonderful attitudes displayed by teenagers, and then knowing you're sending your kid to college, where he's going to get drunk, just like you used to do, and do all of the same stupid things that you did. Back to the story.

The price is much less than the emotional profit, of course, It's immensely rewarding for me to be home with him. Granted, I don't know if it'll be that way at the end of the summer, when I'm sick to death of the house; but, right now, it's great. I'm looking forward to his first Christmas & his first Channukah (even though he'll remember neither and understand less), and you can bet your sweet bippy that I'm going to get a picture with Santa Claus.

It's just weird, that so much of parenting is so simple. A glance, some spoken words and some attention is all that is required. The trick is remembering to do it often enough...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh, what a night...

I realize that most of my blog postings revolve around sleeping; the rest revolve around pooping, or the receptacles of said actions. That's just baby life. If I was working, I'm sure that I'd be discussing things revolving around work. Since the baby is my full-time job this year, my life revolves around naps, feedings and diaper changings. That's not to say that we don't have fun - we have lots of fun together. We play lots of games, and go for walks (mostly to the comic book store), and go for rides, and read books and watch the occasional tv show. (I don't feel guilty about that yet, because he can't see the screen - although I wonder about baby's vision and hi-def tv, which might be different than your standard 30 frames per second show.)

Today, we separated the laundry and started washing it, then replaced the sheets on the bed. We've been listening to holiday music while pursuing our separate agendum this morning: he's napping and playing in his chair (not at the same time), and I'm doing my classwork. I hate having a silent house when I'm home by myself or with him; it's a little bit freaky. Plus, I don't want him to get used to absolute silence when he sleeps, because I know that that's the time when I'm going to watch my shows or play my games (not to mention conversation / snuggle time with The Wife). I took a brief video of The Boy and sent it to the grandparents, because they need that sort of thing. Here it is:



Last night was a great night, as opposed to Tuesday night, which wasn't. He ate at 6:30, then fell asleep around 8 or 8:30 for the night. The Wife & I went into our room to watch a movie, and we both fell asleep at around 9:20/9:30. We woke up at 2 when he needed to feed; he was awake and playful, so he & I stayed up until 3AM, when he was sleepy enough to go back down. The Wife woke him at 6:30 to feed, and he slept in bed with me from the feeding until we both woke at around 8AM. Man, I actually feel good this morning, particularly since the clarinet lesson up north that I've been struggling to find a time for now seems to have a time. My Sunday is now stretched from 8AM until around 3PM, but it should be close to a $200 day, which makes life a lot easier.

It's hard, because I have three lessons that are close together in location, about an hour from my house. I'm up in that area three days per week, but I don't have an awful lot of flexibility on those three days. So, it's a matter of finding that flexibility or planning a 40-minute drive for a half-hour music lesson. I want to teach the kids - they're all great kids and I like being around them - but I don't like the drive.

Someone's awake... gotta go!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just nappin' along, singin' a song...

The Boy slept an awful lot today. There's no doubt in my mind that he's growing again, all things considered - I think that he sleeps more when he's growing. It's hard to tell, though, because I spend so many hours per day with him. But, still.

Last night, he went to sleep at about 9:30 - The Wife took him with her to teach a lesson and to pick up food at Trader Joe's. He likes the supermarket - lots of things to look at and sounds to hear. He slept all the way through until 7AM - first time he's slept that long in his life! When she put him down last night, he screamed until he found his thumb - then sucked until he fell asleep. Perhaps he's finally figured out how to use that as a soothing mechanism; I believe, according to the things that I've read, that his sleep-through-the-night thing is supposed to start sometime around now, anyway. This morning, he was awake for 90 minutes, then slept until 10:30; awake for a feeding, a trip to the bagel store and Babies'R'Us (where he got a COOL turtle / froggie / fishie / buggie mobile for his chair) and most of Home Depot, when he started to fade. He slept until about 1 o'clock, then another hour nap later. After eating and pooping and peeing A LOT, he went down for some Tummy Time on his gym - and fell asleep after struggling with it for five minutes or so. Lots of stress, I guess.

I mean, he's a busy guy - lots of bottles to drink, toys to play with and diapers to fill.

The cloth diaper thing really is starting to work, but it requires a higher level of vigilance than the disposables. The contact rash that he was getting from the perfumes and powders on the disposable diapers is gone, completely; the only big problem is an ugly moisture rash caused by pee-pee diapers left on too long. Still, that's almost cleared up - another day or two, and it should fade. But, it's ugly - peeling and red and gross. It's remarkable how cheerful he is, considering the rash on his nether regions.

We have three types of disposables - plain old double-fold, you-pin-em diapers; molded cloth with snaps (both of those require a cover to go outside in); and the Bum Genius diapers, which are incredible - the ease and absorbency of a disposable (times, like, three) with the reuse of a cloth. While he's home, I'm keeping him in the double=folds, mostly; this lets me monitor him and get him changed out of wet diapers quickly and efficiently, hopefully curing him of that rash until the next time I'm stupid and forget.

I do like the cloth diapers, in principle. They are a whole lot better for the environment than the disposables, I think. (That is, until the drought hits.) And, his skin is as sensitive as mine. I can't stand the perfumes and things in normal detergents.

From a musical perspective, he's got his first favorite song: "If You're Happy And You Know It." I sing it to him, and I clap his hands for him, stomp his feet for him (on my belly, natch) and say "Hooray!" for him (while giving his belly a gentle squeeze / tickle), and he loves it. He gets his big, wide, toothless grin and his soundless laugh and really enjoys it.

He's also a big fan of "The Story of the Rose / Heart of my Heart." That's a barbershop quartet standard, and The Wife & I sing it to him all the time, as a lullaby.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rollin', rollin', rollin'... keep them doggies rollin'...

Thanksgiving wound up being a smashing success by all probable factors. The dinner was about as ideal as it could be - the food came out tasting and looking great, and nothing got burned / forgotten / destroyed / whatever. The conversation was pleasant and challenging, and the baby was good-natured and well-behaved, as was expected.

Again, I've gotten very lucky. First, The Boy is an extremely good-natured kid. He takes changes in stride so far, and he is very adaptable. He's willing to allow himself to do lots of weird things without protest, as long as he gets his food, clean diapers and occasional nap. (...takes after his father on that last one - I've always been a napper, even early in life.) Second, my in-laws have really bent over backwards to make themselves helpful and available to us, without judgement. I know a lot of people who are continually fielding questions about the way they're choosing to raise their children, the choices they're making, and that sort of thing. Blissfully, my in-laws - and my own family - have not started any of that bullshit. That's probably the one benefit of being teachers - they sort of assume that we know what we're doing.

The interesting thing, in watching the family interact with The Boy, is looking at how different people interact with babies. Many people are truly awkward around babies and don't do a great job talking with them, listening to them and trying to get a feel for what they really want. Not that I'm the great "Baby Whisperer" or anything, but I think I do a pretty good job of listening to The Boy's signals, both verbal and physical, to determine what he wants and how he's feeling. I'm right most of the time. That doesn't mean he doesn't cry or anything like that; it just means that I can guess why he's crying or when he'll cry.

When my in-laws are around, my baby time is obviously curtailed. Grandma wants snuggle time, you know! I have no problem with that, obviously - The Boy needs his Grandma & Grandpa, and his Uncle & Aunts from that side of the family. He should be spending lots of time around them, because they're interesting and fun people.

I guess I was awkward around babies at one time, also. I tend to think I wasn't; even though I've always been and always will be overly self-absorbed, I've always gotten along well with babies. I'm trying to be a good relative and not correct every little thing someone does "wrong" with the baby - no "he doesn't want to be held like that" or "he wants to do this" or "he wants to do that." I don't want to be overbearing. I think The Boy can adequately show what he wants by screaming. This, he is not shy about doing.

Anyway, I hope your Thanksgiving was as good, healthy and happy as ours. We're headed to Uncle B's in the Poconos today (my best friend, whose wife was The Wife's maid of honor at our wedding) to play with more furry cousins (Cousin Coco and Cousin Ewok) and eat burritos.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let's bounce...

The Boy is in his little bouncy-gym thing right now. It's a circular thing, with three posts with a chair hanging from the three posts on elastics, allowing the baby to push off with his feet and bounce up and down. On the chair is a whole bunch of toys and things that rattle, chirp, spin or are squeezed. In addition, there it a blue froggie hanging from one post, and a toucan from the other. It's pretty darn cool.

Of course, the problem is that The Boy's got short legs for his height... and he doesn't weigh a lot, for his height. This means that his feet don't touch the ground. So, I propped a box underneath, and he can reach the ground and make himself bounce by straightening his legs and pushing.

He is absolutely entranced by the blue frog. He has spent the last ten minutes staring at it intently, particularly since it bounces every time that he does. He really seems to like his blue froggie, and every once in a while, he reaches for it and paws at it a little bit. He doesn't quite grasp the concept of reaching for things he wants yet, though. He does it occasionally, but not often. I know this will change, but right now, he's darn cute.

Aww... he just smiled at his froggie, even though he seems a bit mystified as to why it isn't smiling back at him, like Mommy, Daddy & others do. What a great investment that little gym is - about $70-ish from Babies 'R' Us. The box underneath is an activity table that he's too little for - you really need to be able to hold youself upright to play with the table. Next month, maybe.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What is it that we're living for?

Applause, applause!

The Boy had his stage debut today. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

He woke at 4:30AM this morning. The Wife took care of him completely, as I had a slightly longer day than her on Sunday; he had slept since around midnight. They wound up leaving the house at around 6:30AM; there was a pancake breakfast at her school, and then she'd be heading north to our mutual concert. On Sunday mornings, I sing with an Episcopalian church choir in northern Jersey; this makes it difficult to watch him, so she kind of has him by default.

The first sound check was The Wife's quartet, at noon. The bass singer in her quartet had a 102-degree temperature; the baritone singer lost most of her voice the previous night. The sound check went fine, except for the sound guy arriving 15 minutes late; no worries. I took care of the baby while she was on stage, which allowed me to introduce him to a lot of other people that he hasn't met yet. She took him while I warmed up / sang with my two choruses. No problem, really - he slept through most of my time with him, considering he had just finished a 90 minute car ride. (The car puts him out as thoroughly as any medication imaginable.)

When it was the time for her quartet to sing with my chorus, The Boy was screaming his head off. He was wet (with cloth diapers, which is even more uncomfortable that you can imagine) AND starving, having just woken up from his nap. The show must go on... one of the guys from Reveille (a great quartet) walked him around until we were done, then she fed him and I changed him.

When her quartet was on (30 minutes later), I walked him around; no problems. A little bit of squawking, but that was just pre-nap fussing. Gave him back to her when she was done, sound asleep.

The end of the concert is a song sung by everybody called "Keep The Whole World Singing," and all performing quartets are invited out to sing. So, out she came - with The Boy! It was nice to hold him while 125 guys (and 4 ladies) sang this song. So, he made his debut in front of an audience of hundreds of people!

Since his birth, we've sung a song to him as a lullaby called "The Story of the Rose." This is a beautiful, simple tune expressing deep feelings of love; while the chorus is traditionally interpreted as being between two lovers, it is very easy to interpret that into parental love. We've both sung the song to The Boy - both separately and together - hundreds of times since he was born. At the afterglow, The Wife and I sung the quartet arrangement of that with two buddies of mine; he had been fussy and flailing about. When he heard the tune, sung in quartet form, he immediately quieted and laid his head on my chest and listened. It was a wonderful little moment that I believe will stay with me for a long time.

I wonder when the appropriate time is to bring a child onto the stage for a real performance. (Being held by Daddy / Mommy does not constitute a performance, really. That's fun for the parents and can be rewarding or terrifying or both for the child.) We've all heard the stories of the child actors that have come to terrible ends - look at the cast of "Dif'rent Strokes," for crying out loud. Burnout, drugs, alcohol, sex... they're all terrible things. I know of quite a few musical prodigies that burnt out long before their peak, and I know of many child gymnasts or skaters that burnt out before their 12th birthday.

I suppose the correct answer is, when he asks for it. If he wants to learn the songs and to sing with the chorus, then so be it. When he's ready to come on stage, then he will. If he expresses no interest in singing with the chorus, then he won't do it.

My son will play a musical instrument. That's a given. He will learn to read music efficiently and effectively, and he will learn basic musical interpretation. Those are not options; they are of hyper importance to the life of the parents, and thus they will be passed on to the child. These are skills that are helpful and rewarding to have, whether he follows his parents into music education or chooses a different career path. I'm undecided about when he should start piano lessons, and I'm undecided about when he should start playing an instrument - should he start Suzuki violin / viola / cello at 3 or 4 years old, or play piano until 4th grade, when he can start a wind instrument?

Not a decision we need to make right now; as far as I'm concerned, he can sing with my chorus as soon as he can #1: stand and #2: speak / sing words clearly. Once those two milestones are reached, then he has the potential to sing music publicly, and that's when he can join.

(Yes, I know that young children have little to no pitch-matching ability, and little to no vocal range; but those things are flexible. I've heard REALLY little kids sing the Star Spangled Banner clearly and in tune, and that has an octave and a half range, which is HUGE.)

(Another side note: not the first time he's been on stage with The Wife's quartet. As a matter of fact, he was with her during her quartet's performance at the Sweet Adeline's quartet competition last April - the only male on stage. He was in utero, but he was still there.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My momma done tol' me...

...when I was in knee pants, my momma done tol' me, listen, son.... ("Blues in the Night", Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer, 1941)

Insurance bureaucracy sucks. And, for once, I'm not talking about the insurance companies. I have no complaints with my insurance company. They've taken care of everything I need to have done to me, and they've done it with no fuss, no muss and no bother. They are perfectly competent and functional.

Now, The Boy's doctor's office, on the other hand, has stupid insurance people. Let me backtrack.

The Wife and I have our own insurance, through our teaching jobs. When The Boy was born, she put him on her insurance - figuring that there was a fairly high likelihood of me leaving my job. (...which I have; my resignation takes effect on Wednesday; more on that at a later date.) Because of that, I never bothered to put him on my insurance, figuring that the transference, at a later date, would be a monstrous headache. One does not enter into the wheels of the corporate giant without sufficient reason.

Enter the mental giants.

So, when you're given the wife's insurance card as the primary, and the husband's insurance card as the secondary insurance, what do you do? Of course. Husband's insurance as the primary, wife's as the secondary. But, wait... husband has no child on his insurance... after submitting the claims to the insurance company, now the wife's insurance won't take them, leaving $546 in the air.

Fat chance I'm going to pay it. It's their screwup. Let 'em come after me. I'll win.

Mind you, I've been on the phone with them a half-dozen times about this same problem. I've told them the reason that they've having this issue, given them multiple copies of The Wife's insurance card, and they're still having this issue. I'm torn between writing them a letter along the lines of, "It's your problem, your screwup, stop bothering me" and just calling them and screaming to high heaven. Likely, I'll call them and explain it, then follow up with a letter.

Still, it's amazingly frustrating. Let's see... telephone call, fifteen minutes on hold (if I'm lucky), another fifteen to explain it to the lackwit that's running things... that's a half hour of my life on Monday that I'm not going to get back.

Lucky me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wond'ring where you are, and how you are...

("All Alone", Irving Berlin, 1924)

On the sleeping front, he made it all the way through last night, as well, thanks to the 11:30PM feeding. He spent the evening at my brother's house, hanging out with his kids (14 and 16) and the furry cousins - cousin Skye, in particular. The Boy didn't REALLY get to know Cousin Skye - one doesn't leave an 11-week old baby with an Alaskan Husky - but they met each other for the first time. The dog wasn't really impressed. The baby was. We got home around 10:30, and Mommy came home at 11-ish and fed him soon after.

A word, today, about Alone Time for babies. Babies love being held. They love being carried around, and they love being fussed over. They love it and thrive on the attention - I've read studies that show that babies that are spoken to, snuggled and fussed over grow bigger and healthier than those that aren't. I think that they need to know, from the beginning, that Mommy and Daddy are there for them at any moment, for any reason, including no reason at all. This is common sense.

Babies also need alone time. Now, this could be a bit of transference from my own personality. I get overstimulated by other people fairly easily. I always have. I like people, sometimes, but I get freaked out pretty easily. I can get over it fairly quickly by disappearing for a little while, recovering my equilibrium and returning to the situation. Sometimes a short bathroom break will do it, sometimes curling up with a magazine for twenty minutes is necessary, and sometimes going home and snuggling with my Playstation 3 for a couple of hours is what is necessary. It depends on the situation.

The Boy is turning out to be no different. He loves attention, snuggles and Daddy/Mommy time as much as anyone does; but, he does get overstimulated fairly quickly and needs alone time. Sometimes, the alone time can be riding in the front carrier for a little while. Sometimes, the alone time is sitting on a lap and being still. Most frequently, it's sit in his bouncy seat and kick around for a while; least frequently, it's go to his crib for a half hour and rest.

It's not that he doesn't want attention; it's that he wants a little bit of balance time. Speaking of, he's ready to be moved to his crib for his morning nap. Later! Hope you enjoyed the lolbaby picture from fifteen minutes ago.

Medium rare, with onion'd be nice...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Funny, that rainy day is here...

(Here's That Rainy Day, Burke & Van Heusen, 1953)

The Boy is asleep on my chest right now, having finished a stressful (for him) feeding and diaper change. Love this feeling. He's warm and snuggly, with his arms sprayed out to the sides. Babies are really good for moments like this, because this is a very tranquilizing thing. It's impossible to maintain stress when your baby is relying on you for a sleeping bed.

The Wife decided that, due to a rash on his bum & nether regions, The Boy should use cloth diapers instead of the plastic disposable ones. This will help his pelvis become a more comfortable area, the theory goes, because there's less chemicals and perfumes and stuff that his skin will react with. The sensitive skin comes from me, not from The Wife; my skin breaks out very easily when it encounters harsh detergents, makeup (from the stage, thank you) and other things like that. It looks like he's inherited that, as well; so, we use our Dreft detergent (made for babies! By babies! Out of babies!), no fabric softener, etc.

The cloth diapers come in several varieties. The one that The Wife wants is called the "All In One." I've done no research, so I don't really understand the difference; what I get is that it's a cloth version of a disposable diaper, with a removeable / washable lining that he can poop on. It's supposedly got a nice shape and nice fasteners, so that it's easy and quick to get on and off.

That's not what we have right now. Right now, we have your basic, old fashioned cloth diaper: a rectangular piece of cloth, thicker in the middle (for more absorbency, I'm assuming) that is fastened by folding it in the proper way and pinning it together. We have a dozen pair of rubber pants that fit over the diaper to help prevent leakage from escaping. Not that it works worth a darn, unless you fold the diaper correctly. This skill requires a bit of a learning curve, as the three outfits that the two of us wore yesterday will attest; he peed on me right through the extra absorbency and the rubber pant backup.

>sigh<

The diaper rash, I suppose, is looking better. To be honest, I don't really notice a difference. I will trust Mommy's Intuition, because she's got a MUCH better sense of these sorts of things than I do. This is coming from a guy that continues to hit his head on the same low-hanging things in his parents' house, despite the fact that they've been there for thirty years. So, I trust her and respect her judgement.

What I do know, and this is important for those considering using cloth diapers: The cloth diapers, unlike the disposable diapers, do NOT whisk moisture away from the baby's skin. With a disposable diaper, a little bit of pee or poop is transferred away from the skin, which means that the baby might not even be aware - and will certainly not care - that it's there. With the cloth diapers (at least the ones that we're using right now), that's not the case; the moisture sits there.

I think I've got a handle on it; it just requires more and quicker attention. And, you need a second diaper pail. The first collects the diapers for washing; the second collects the used wipes and such.

The reason that today's changings and feedings have been so stressful for The Boy is the fact that his diapers have been wet for much of the morning. This is very uncomfortable for him; he does not like the wetness around his middle. So, he spent ten minutes screaming like a banshee from a combination of hunger and wetness, while I was trying to heat up his bottle (a Starbucks mug half full of water, microwave for 60 to 90 seconds; put the plastic bottle inside of the hot - not boiling - water, leave it for five minutes) and wrestling with the diaper pins and folding the new diaper. Boy, this boy can REALLY scream! Takes after both of his parents.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Angels watching, e'er around thee,

...all through the night was the alternative title of the blog post, because last night was WONDERFUL. The Wife put the boy in his crib around 7:30 / 8:00, post-bath & story & songs. He slept - HARD - until around 2AM. I call this hard sleep because, as I've documented, he has a tendency to swivel around the crib as he sleeps. If his head starts at, say, 9 o'clock and his feet pointing towards 3, it's not strange to see his head at 12, 2, 4 or whatever, with his feet pointing in any which direction, including up. Last night, he slept in exactly the same position as he was placed, up to being picked up by Daddy for his feeding.

The 2 o'clock feeding went quickly (at least to me, who fell asleep immediately upon passing the football to Mommy), and he went back to sleep immediately afterwards. Then, The Wife woke him up at around 6:15 for the morning feeding.

Oh frabgerous day, kaloo kaley! I feel wonderful this morning. Still tired - after going to see a pre-screening of Battlestar Galactica: Razor, I stayed up to watch Heroes and to read the next chapter in my math textbook, so I didn't get to sleep until midnight-ish - but hope is on the horizon. Here's to getting a steady five / six hours of sleep on a reasonably regular basis!

(Isn't it amazing how quickly our priorities re-set... BC, I'd be happy with knowing that I'd get ten hours of sleep on the weekend. AD, I'm ecstatic at the thought of six hours uninterrupted.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Exercising

In about ten minutes, I'm going to go downstairs and work out in the home gym we have. The Boy will come with -obviously; where else is he going to go? - and sit in his chair while I work out. Most of the time, he sits patiently for about twenty minutes, then spends the next 20 minutes fussing - I lift a set, lift the baby; put him down, do the next set, etc. It's all good.

Newborns are really quite good with this sort of thing. They sleep A LOT - and can be put to sleep fairly easily - and don't wake up easily at all. The noise of the weights doesn't bother him (much - I occasionally do startle him with a particularly loud sound), neither does my work out accompaniment - sometimes music, usually a tv show or movie.

This is good when I have to have The Boy with me during times like saxophone lessons, chorus rehearsals or band rehearsals - he'll sleep through most, without being bothered by the extremely loud noises.

Today, The Boy spent about ten minutes on Tummy Time in the little exercise mat we have, which he doesn't like - Tummy Time, not the mat. He struggled to turn for a while, then fell asleep on the mat. Good for him... Anyway, off to work out. Wish me luck - today's leg day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Travellin' Along, Singin' A Song

It might be fun to make the titles to be somewhat relevant lyrics. I don't know if I'll remember or make it stick, but it's worth the shot.

Got back from our timeshare in Massachusetts about six hours ago. It was an awful lot of fun, even if it did significantly interrupt the baby's routine, which is not something one wants to do with any regularity. We own an every-other-year timeshare up in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts; it's one of those trade-the-weeks-to-stay-elsewhere-at-another-time kind of things. Our week is the end of March / beginning of April, which means that we're not really going to be able to stay there during our week until we retire; we have it because, allegedly, it has great trading power and will allow us to stay anywhere we desire when we want to stay there. Whatever. They brought us up for the weekend to convince us to buy an every-year one for another $10K, which is simply not possible on our current, one income, budget. In return, we got a free weekend's stay, $50 and a free breakfast. I'm all for that. The gas takes up the $50, roughly, and The Wife brought most of our meals with us - the rooms have full kitchens.

Since there's only one bedroom, and since we have no travel crib, this weekend was our first experience with the Family Bed. We did not use any kind of "Bundle Me" stuff - we don't roll over when we sleep, and we don't drink, which means that we're not going to roll over without our knowledge. (We hope.) The Boy seemed to enjoy the whole family bed concept, as - frankly - did I. It's really NICE to have everybody there - the baby is a wonderful, snuggly little dude. I've spent a lot of time with the sleeping baby - being the primary "rock him to sleep" person of the first couple weeks of his life, as well as the primary during-the-day-nap supervisor currently. He tends to wake quite frequently, look around for familiar items - Mommy or Daddy, his bouncy seat, his crib, his carseat, whatever - and either go back to sleep or wake more to investigate / complain. He seemed to sleep better with us, because he felt more secure with the fact that we were THERE with him.

I could be imagining this, because it was significantly easier for The Wife to feed him - just roll over, whip out a Feed Bag, and go back to sleep until he's done. Which is, actually, what she did - the two of them fell asleep mid-feeding, which was quite cute. So, it's possible that his original stirrings / rootings were things that I didn't even notice. But, I have gotten quite good at fooling myself. I'm fine with that.

On the ride up, and on the rides around town, we played the album, "For The Children," by Max Q. This is a wonderful children's album - it's all male a capella, specifically barbershop quartet-style, arrangements of children's tunes. It's a two-disc set - disc one is daytime songs, disc two is nighttime songs. Love 'em. The Boy loves 'em. I can't say enough good things about this album. This is great quality singing, great technical singing, and wonderful, entertaining arrangements - things that adults can enjoy listening to, instead of much of the dreck that I've heard since The Boy was born. I can't recommend this highly enough.

More later. I'm tired.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

He's All Thumbs

..as we sit and watch Batman, The Animated Series (specifically, "Robin's Reckoning," from 2001). That's an amazing cartoon. The writing and the stories are incredibly tight and well-done. The animation is really stylistic and consistent, and the overall tone of the show is as dark as the comics. There's a wonderful mixture of 1930's classic look and modern technology - supercomputers and the internet, with all of the men wearing ties, jackets and hats and the architecture being perfectly suited for the 1930's. Even the crooks, en route to blowing up a building, are still dressed to the nines with snappy bow ties. Classy, to say the least.

The boy has really discovered his thumb lately. Specifically, his right thumb is his sucking implement of choice. He doesn't like the pacifier so much - he'll use it, but rarely for longer than a couple of minutes at a time before he spits it out. Over the last month, he's found his mouth with his fingers quite often, and he has spent quite a bit of time figuring out how much of his fist he can fit inside there. It's really very cute.

Well, this week in particular, he's discovered his thumb, and he's sucking it for all it's worth. In his sleep, in his waking... it's been in his mouth for much of today. I suppose that I'll eventually be worried about that - I've heard legends of front teeth being pushed outwards by the force of the thumb in the mouth, and stories of thumbsucking going on into the teenage years, and stories of sucking on the thumb until it's red, raw and almost bleeding.

My general sense is, when he wants to give it up, he will, and very little will be done before then. I suppose that I'd rather have his calming thing (sucking on the thumb) be easily accessible to him - if he can get to it easily, then I don't worry about having to go into his room twenty times per night to put it back in his mouth. (If he can't find his thumb, that's his problem and not mine.)

It's very cute. Him sucking on his thumb while he naps is currently the wallpaper on my cel phone.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why should I move?

So, The Boy woke up at 5 o'clock this morning, as per (relative) usual. He stayed awake through The Wife leaving for work, and he & I hung out for a couple of hours in the living room, playing. He was in a good mood, smiling and trying to laugh (he doesn't have a laugh yet - kind of a REALLY wide smile and a rattling breath). We played on the spinny-thing (fun) and had some tummy time on the playmat. That really pissed him off. He napped in his chair afterwards, and I napped on the couch.

He woke up, and I fed him his bottle - around four plus hours after the last feeding, which is good. He fell asleep in the middle, woke up after twenty minutes and finished the bottle, then fell asleep on me. I moved him from my arm (which fell asleep) to the middle of my chest, which he promptly moved to the left shoulder.

Now, there is nothing as rewarding as having a baby sleeping on your chest. He's sweet and precious and cute. There's nothing like the trust and love that a baby shows. But, one must be careful - if you move too much, then he wakes up and bad things happen. However, I have to go to the bathroom. My left shoulder hurts, and I'm really, really hungry.

So, I'll deal with it for a little while longer, then move him to his bouncy seat. At least I can get some online reading done.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chorus Experience

So, The Wife, tonight, came to my chorus rehearsal (the barbershop chorus - men's a capella chorus - that I direct) to sing the women's part to "Lida Rose," from The Music Man. We're performing it on November 18, with my chorus & her quartet. This is a common piece for both men and women, so no difficulty was expected or experienced. It was interesting to bring The Boy to the chorus rehearsal.

Don't get me wrong - for a 2 month old, he was remarkably well behaved. I shouldn't say that - most two month olds would be well behaved. They don't know enough to misbehave. Pretty much, at The Boy's age, he's usually going to be quiet and cute as long as he's fed, clean and reasonably well-rested. They don't talk, they tend not to cry randomly (it happens sometimes, as I've spoken about earlier, but not often) and they don't need constant feedback and reassurance from an adult. I held The Boy, and he was content.

It's hard to conduct AND hold a baby at the same time. I did well, but The Wife came a few minutes into my conducting and took him from me. Good thing: it forced me to use one and and not be too overly physically dramatic, for fear of dropping him or shaking him. (Not SHAKING HIM like abusive people do - but moving him in a way that causes him to get grumpy.)

The interesting thing was his ear. When chords were held and tuned badly, he gets agitated and starts swinging his little fists around. When chords are sung reasonably well, he's still. When chords are tuned really, really well, he gets excited and starts swinging his little fists around. It's cute.

I do note the irony that the reaction from the baby for doing things well and doing things poorly is the same. There's a difference, and it's visible. It just doesn't translate to text well.

He fell asleep about a half-hour into the rehearsal; Mommy took him home about fifty minutes into the rehearsal. So, all was good. It was a good night.

I wonder if he'll want to sing? Three of the four boys in my family did NOT.

Clearing Out The TiVo

Today, The Wife and I went out for breakfast. Turns out that she's at the high school every Tuesday, which means that her school day starts at 8:30 and goes until 4:00. This means that she has an extra 60 to 90 minutes in the morning. Since The Boy gets up at 6:30 regardless - 7 days a week, baby - we decided to celebrate the end of marching season by going out to breakfast.

It was nice, because we got a chance to TALK for an hour. During that time, we did not talk about baby poop, sleep, diapers (note the anal fixation we all get when the baby is not potty trained), naps or toys. We talked about education, activities for kids, and our job situations.

We're planning on strongly encouraging The Boy in a musical sense. I don't think that it'll be difficult, as he's already been to a half-dozen football game / marching performances, three or four dozen marching band practices, two chorus contests and two marching band competitions. He's around singing every single day, whether it's Mommy or Daddy singing to him or being the (forced) attendee at a rehearsal. The apple rarely falls far from the tree, so we're hoping that he'll choose a musical route in school.

As for music education, we're concerned. The "No Child Left Behind" nonsense has really put a damper on good musical situations - and caused some borderline ones to slip over the edge into nothingness. When your district's state and federal funding is dependent upon test results - and nothing in this mandate provides extra money or resources to help at-risk districts pass or bring up scores, and all benchmarks for improvement are arbitrary numbers instead of those that make sense - many districts choose the panic route, devoting more and more and more class time towards pounding these kids with a pencil and paper, sitting in class and listening to lectures and taking practice tests, instead of doing what the schools SHOULD be doing - providing a well-rounded liberal arts education.

This means that rehearsals are getting cut, and students who are academically borderline - who, emotionally and mentally, desperately need the release and creativity that a band / chorus / orchestra provide - are being barred from the arts and forced to take more academics in order that their test scores are raised. I'd love to see the numbers on that - students who are forced to leave arts classes for remedial classes. I'd bet any amount of money that their test scores and their school satisfaction sink down through the floor instead of improve.

Whatever. I've had the professional curse of being right approximately 99% of the time. This is what happens when children's education is being run by people with no experience or training in actual education or pedagogical practice

Enough with the education rant. I get in enough trouble for making wide-sweeping generalizations. The Boy is sleeping on me right now - he's moved from falling asleep in feeding position, stretched across my lap, to falling asleep on his belly on my chest. He's got a stinky, poopy diaper, but I'm not going to wake him up to change it for a little while. It's the Mutual Non-Aggression Pact that we have; we don't bug his sleep, and he doesn't wake up every 20 minutes at night. He's been on & off asleep since about 8 o'clock this morning, so I'm assuming that he's going to wake up in about twenty minutes (he ate at about 9:30 / 10:00) and want to play for a while. That's fine. I have a school call at noon that I need to be ready for.

Cushioned around the feedings, he slept through last night's Chuck (good episode - the show is growing on me), the last half of last week's Heroes and the first quarter of last night's Heroes (best episode of the season).

He's still very cute.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Marching Band: Over and Done

Congrats to the WHS & PVHS marching bands, who performed admirably this weekend in Allentown, PA. I know that nobody's particularly happy with their scores, but that's life. I'm impressed as all heck by the PVHS band, who REALLY maximized their abilities this year and improved in so many ways... it didn't show in the scores, but... to heck with the judges.

The Wife had The Boy all weekend, with the help of her parents on Saturday. They (TW, her father, my father & TB) came to the football game on Saturday, in the cold & damp & slightly rainy weather, thanks to the hurricane passing to the east of New York. It was neat to have them there, because WHS performed their last pre-championships show. The Boy seems to handle the cold rather well - he doesn't complain in the slightest because of the weather.

Mostly, I suppose, because we dress him appropriately. While there's been a couple of SNAFU along the way, wardrobe-wise, we've been pretty good about making sure that he's well-protected. He stays in the cutest fur-lining for his car seat - with the matching hat, he looks like a furry little teddy bear. He charmed the heck out of the color guard, who spent their pregame warm up time fussing over the baby instead of spinning flags... something I don't necessarily mind, as The Boy likes the attention and the girls need the occasional non-marching-band release.

Then, The Wife had a singing gig for a few hours, leaving The Boy home with Grandma, who relished the opportunity to spend time with the baby. I know, for a fact, that she's going to spoil him rotten over the course of the next few years, which is awesome. They've been nothing short of incredible with us, and I appreciate it immensely.

Today, The Wife had another show, and she took him with her for the day. As you read, he did wonderfully. I offered to take him with me to the marching band - not like there's any shortage of Band Mommies hanging out that wouldn't relish the opportunity for some baby time, particularly when they have the entertainment of passing him off to the Mean Band Instructor for feeding / soothing / changing / all of the above as needed. (Something about changing a diaper seems to make me a little bit less of an &&&hole. I don't see it, personally.) Considering that she was gone for seven hours to my thirteen, she wins.

All this means is that I really didn't get to see my baby this entire weekend. I spent some time with him yesterday morning, and a little bit in putting him to bed at nine, but that's it. I really do miss him when I don't get to spend time with him. I'm extremely aware of the passage of time, and I know that, soon enough, he's going to be a toddler...then a young boy... then in school... middle school... high school... college...

I know, don't get carried away. I just want to enjoy him as a baby for a little while longer.

We're headed away with him this weekend, to our timeshare in Massachusetts. We don't have a travel crib yet; is this something we should look into, or just suck it up & sleep with the baby for the weekend?

Perfect Baby Land

Today was another one of those days where The Husband and I both had places to be for several hours so someone had to take The Boy. I knew that where I was going, I'd be out for a shorter time and, more to the point, everyone there would fuss over him.

My quartet was performing at a show hosted by a chorus of which two members of my quartet are involved. The Boy and I left the house at 10:15 and arrived at the site an hour later, at which point I fed him and changed him.Then the quartet sang through our set. Following that was lots of sitting around. And hanging around. And walking around. We were supposed to have lunch but I really hadn't brought much, intending to go out but never did. The Boy fussed for some of this time, and slept for some of the time.

The show didn't start until 2:30. I was nervous that he wouldn't want to eat until then...but he was hungry at 1:45. So he ate and was changed once again. Various people paid attention to him during all this time. 2:30 the chorus took the stage and we watched the show. Then someone from the chorus kept an eye on The Boy, asleep in his stroller. For the second half of the show I walked around wearing him in the carrier. He was a bit fussy again and was ready to eat at 4:30. About 7 minutes into his meal it was curtain call time! I took him off and went up with him...fortunately he wasn't ticked off at me because I gather he'd finished on that side anyway. He finished his feeding and we got on the road.

He was awake and happy for a good amount of time, and he was just wonderful. I didn't realize, though, exactly how little time I spend holding him because I held him/wore him a lot today and now I'm exhausted!

People were amazed at how well-behaved he was! We're lucky. We're also smart.

--MDM

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Night PAAAAR-TAY!

So, my in-laws are in for the weekend, here to visit with The Boy while I'm at championships all weekend. This is kind of hell-weekend, marching band style: tomorrow is a 10 o'clock call at one school, for a three hour rehearsal followed by a brief appearance at a football game, followed by the 90-minute trip to Allentown for championships, which is an 11:15PM awards assembly, which means getting home at around 1:30AM. Then, Sunday, I leave home at 8AM for the other marching band, rehearse from nine until 11:30. The trip is two hours from there, with a 3:30 performance time and 6:30 awards, and home at around 9 o'clock.

The in-laws have been incredible since The Boy was born. They stayed for a week and a half after the birth, helping us get adjusted. They came by once more since, giving us the only uninterrupted sleep nights we've had (...by grabbing The Boy before we heard him). They come with lots of food to eat, like fried chicken and brisket and stuff like that.

Tonight, at dinnertime, they offered us the option of going out, as a couple. Imagine - The Wife and I, out on a DATE, having conversation that did not revolve around feeding, poopy and sleeping. We finished dinner and spent the night doing the one thing that we've been missing - sleeping. I passed out around 7:30, for "just a half hour"... waking at 11:30. I'm going to go back to bed in a few minutes. The Wife joined me at 8 o'clock and woke at the same time, but I think she'll be awake for a while longer.

Romantic evening, right? >sigh<

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Transportation

Right now, I have marching band car.

For those who've never been on a band staff, that means my car is packed to the brim, similar to someone who is either homeless or moving into college. I've got at least two entire changes of clothes, an extra jacket, two extra sweaters, one set of thermal underwear, two drill books (one per school) as well as another set of loose drill for the third school I've been associated with, most of a case of water, most of a 12-pack of Diet Mountain Dew, instrument repair kits, two dozen empty plastic bottles, remnants of a half-dozen meals, a spare trumpet, a spare metronome, extra 9-volt batteries, a 2-liter of Pepsi and a few other things that were not included on that list.

And, there's still the car seat base taking up half of the back seat, with the floor in front of it reserved for the diaper bag. And, I've been able to get the stroller in when necessary. Thank God that The Boy isn't ready to start grabbing for stuff yet, as he'd have plenty of things available that aren't particularly baby-friendly. (Not that he can do anything much with a trumpet. That's hard to swallow.) Championships are this weekend, though, which means that things clear up quite a bit next week.

In a way, I'm going to miss bringing The Boy to practices with me. It's been fun. The kids have been very understanding about him, helping me when he drops his pacifier or whatever. I appreciate them very much, because they could just as easily be a pain. He's also not affected, yet, by the gock block - the LOUD AS HECK plastic block that we use to keep steady beats. He's not affected by the sound of the wind instruments. It doesn't catch his attention yet, except that they're a loud noise.

Now, singing, on the other hand, catches his attention quickly. On Tuesday, I took The Boy with me to the church choir performance at a funeral of one of the members. (This choir, I'm a paid member - the bass section leader.) When I got to the church, and we all started singing, his eyes opened wide and he started looking around. He also stopped fussing and remained calm for a LONG time. He fussed a little bit during the actual ceremony, but it was the normal five-minutes-before-nap-crying. That was all. He enjoyed the singing and enjoyed the sound of the organ (which is loud enough to truly feel, as opposed to merely listen).

This is something that has been consistent, from the time that he went nuts in the womb for the barbershop contest. When I practice my chorus music, he usually stays quiet and listens. The real test will be next week, when I start to practice saxophone again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FIrst Picture Attempt


My early attempts at doing lol pictures of my baby... the images, of course, are (c) Chuck May, 2007, all rights reserved. Share with anyone; if you charge money for them, I want a kickback.

Hallowe'en

I'm entirely torn about the holiday of Hallowe'en. On one hand, it seems to be fun, dressing the little ones in costumes and going to meet the neighbors. The holiday or All Saints Day and All Hallows' Eve are solemn religious obligations concerning sending the deceased relatives on their way back to the afterlife. On the other hand, sending the children out to beg for candy from the neighbors seems somewhat undignified, and the holidays themselves are not scriptural but pagan-based.

The Boy looks REALLY cute in the pumpkin costume that my brother sent out from Cally. It's even got a cute hood with a little green stem on the hood, and it's warm enough to keep him happy (...despite the fact that it was, like, 70-something degrees today). That's something that I want to show off.

I just don't like the fact of the trick-or-treating. I think I'd rather have people over our house for a party. Of course, that'd be The Wife's party, because I have obscene marching band responsibilities. But, still.

I don't know. What do you think?

I'm Being Played...

...like a big bass fiddle. Actually, considering that The Wife plays bass fiddle, I make a medium-sized bass fiddle. I'm as tall as one, but not as wide as one.

Anyway.

So, The Boy and I get out of bed this morning at about 7:30-ish. He actually fell back asleep in his crib after the 6AM, pre-leaving-for-work Mommy Feeding. (...can't leave the boob at home, so she tops him off before leaving...) He wakes up at 7:15-ish, and we play in my bed until he starts getting hungry.

What do we play? Lots of games. The "tummy-time, climb on Daddy" game. The "standing baby!" game. The "Daddy's gonna eat your fingers / toes / nose" game. The "sitting up baby" game. The "attacking spider-hand" game. Basically, anything that involves encouraging him
to grab my hand or arm or nose or beard, and / or anything that encourages him to
keep his head held high and strengthen those neck muscles.

At 7:30 (20 minutes ago), we came out into the living room, with The Boy screaming bloody murder because of hunger. I put him in his bouncy chair while I went to prepare his bottle. I came in about 5 minutes later, and he was bouncy happily, grinning at the toys on his chair. I approach a little closer to him, and he starts screaming with hunger. I leave to get the bottle, and he starts smiling and playing again.

Anyone sensing something amiss? I call shenanigans.

He's still in his seat, although I moved it off of the area rug and onto the hardwood, where the seat can move a little freer. The bottle is sitting in a coffee mug full of warm water, and The Boy is now fully asleep. So, I'm going to join him, hopefully wake in an hour and feed him.