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.