Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's all done with wires, folks...

The Boy has shown a perfectly age-appropriate love of wires, cords and strings. More to the point, he has displayed a distressingly large amount of guile and cunning in his pursuit of playing with said wires. Unfortunately, today he made a mistake.

He showed me that he understands what "no" means.

Yup, you read that correctly. My little 8-month old genius, who displays ingenuity and creativity in his attempts to play with things that he's not supposed to play with, understands what "Boy... no." means. (I don't call him "Boy" in that case, but people seem to expect a certain amount of anonymity in the blog.) Today, he was playing around on the floor of the den.

We have a nice video setup. 42-inch LCD screen, 720p, with a Playstation 3, cable box & TiVo (series 2, not the nice HD TiVos). On the tv stand are those three items, along with a spare PS3 controller and the microphone for Rock Band, which is - upon further consideration - going to have to move. As are the power charging cable for the PS3 controllers, which is next to the PS3.

But, I digress.

The Boy was going for the microphone, because it has a nice, long cord that he wants to play with. I said, "Boy... no," in my normal teacher-commanding voice. He turned, looked at me, and put his hand down on the ground. He turned his body away momentarily, then turned back towards the machine and went for the microphone. I told him no again, and he took his hand away. At that point, I picked him up and moved him back into the center of the room. His response was to go straight for the cords again. We talked about it, and I moved him back into the center of the room; this time, I took my tenor saxophone (serving as a portable baby blockade) and put it in front of the tv stand so the cords were blocked from view.

The cunning runt actually crawled around the side of the tenor case, in the six inches between the case and the wall, to get at the cords. I guess it's really nice that he's displaying an understanding of object permanence - he also shows this when we're lying in bed, as he climbs over me because he knows that I usually keep the remote control next to my left hip for easy access. I just wish he was a tad less creative in his pursuit of those potentially dangerous items.

Worst part about the whole thing is that today, in particular, he wasn't feeling well. He's had a very runny nose all week and has been a little bit under the weather. He took the deprivation of his "toys" - the wires and remotes and such - very badly, and he spent a lot of time crying about it.

Today, he also took a couple of falls - not uncommon among beginning crawlers. Maggie Simpson does this a lot - two steps, falls. Two steps, falls. Two steps, falls. Repeat as necessary. The Boy was doing this today. Twice, he went from a seated position to a crawling position and just missed the weight shift. The first time, he did a nifty 150-degree flip in midair before landing on his head. The second time, he just did a classic faceplant - when I was on the phone with my mother-in-law. Great father, eh?

That didn't help his mood. I suppose there are going to be more days like today - days when he's trying REALLY HARD to get into stuff that's bad for him, at least until the house is better babyproofed, and days when he takes a couple of nasty-like falls. It's a shame, though. He's SO cute and such a beautiul kid that he doesn't deserve it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy week...

...as I'm procrastinating messing around with my calculus stuff, because it's kicking my rear end. Right now, I'm regretting starting this math thing. That's okay. I'll get over it.

Last Saturday was my big chorus show, and it was a success. We had a nice crowd - not the sold-out crowd we hoped for, but probably a solid 500 people. We had over $2000 in walk-up sales, which is incredible - it shows that word got out about our show, even if the guys didn't personally reach out to some people. That's not a criticism of the guys in the chapter - this is just an audience we haven't reached yet. I sold my 20 tickets, and then some, so I'm happy.

Anyway, it was a busy week, with rehearsals most nights and most of the day on Saturday. As a matter of fact, I'm sick, like I usually am after this kind of exertion. Enough about me, though.

I'm a little sad right now: The Boy's hit a point where we really can't take him to shows and performances for a while. He's now mobile - crawling around on his belly like a persistent and curious little snake - and he's vocal - talking away like a radio dj, even though it's mostly just single vowels and random noises and spitting. He's not verbal, though, which means that he doesn't really understand what we're saying and isn't able to communicate his thoughts and feelings to us.

This means that, during shows, there's no way for us to tell him not to yell or not to crawl around on the floor. It makes me sad, because it's going to be a long time - probably upwards of a year or two - before the three of us are going to be at a show together. It's not his fault; it's not like he's being a "bad baby" or anything like that. He just doesn't understand.

He did behave very, very well on Saturday night, even if he was up WAAAAY past his bedtime. Mommy & he spent most of the show in the lobby with another mommy & baby, which was fine by them. The Boy did fall asleep during Vocal Spectrum's singing of the Billy Joel "Lullabye," which was very cute.

We're here, we're still alive and blogging. It's just been busy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An interesting thought...

One consistent thing that is said to me is, "Just wait until he starts to [crawl / walk / run]. Then, your life is OVER!"

This is another example of a long string of examples of things that people say that, if they really sat down and thought about it for a moment, they'd be mortally embarrassed that they said. I mean, think about this: what they're telling me, and the tone of voice they're using, is that life ends when babies become mobile. The implication that I've received from those is that the baby moving around on his own power is such a negative event that it brings to an end anything that I hold dear in my current existence.

What?

The Boy crawling and running is going to be such an all-powerful and negative event that I will no longer enjoy singing, playing games with him, watching baseball and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, playing my video games and reading books with him?

How is that possible?

Now, I enter into this relationship (with the baby) with my eyes fully open. I understand that the baby is going to get into everything that he can lay his hands upon. I understand that he's going to try to pull every cable and wire, stick things in every electrical outlet, touch every television and computer screen and keyboard and flush every telephone and PS3 controller down the toilet. I understand that he's going to discover the fun game of unrolling toilet paper and yanking out tissues. I understand that he's going to try to get at the fun-colored chemicals underneath the sinks.

So? Is that bad? I mean, except for the chemicals under the sink. That's bad. But the rest really isn't. It's called "having children."

I think that anyone that does not expect massive lifestyle changes is truly ignorant and - considering the massive amounts of information freely and conveniently available on the internet - unintelligent. How do you NOT know that children are going to try to get into that stuff? Any babyproofing website at all is going to tell you to cover all exposed outlets, secure loose wires as best as possible and lock every cabinet that has dangerous things... and, if possible, create some cabinet and drawer space that can be marked with bright stickers and fun decals that is full of baby-safe stuff.

We're planning on taking the bottom drawer next to the refrigerator and turning it into The Boy's drawer. We'll put stickers on the outside, fill it with a couple of old pots and pans and wooden spoons and other fun and noisy things for him. We'll also have a drawer in the spare room that will have paper and crayons and things for him. In the bathroom, I'm trying to figure out how to rearrange the cabinets so that part of the space can be filled with fun bathroom things for him - bath toys, bubble bath and stuff like that.

Will this prevent him from trying to get into the drain cleaner under the sink? (Which is actually in the garage, in a difficult-to-enter storeroom, on a high shelf, but that's not the point.) No, it won't. He's still going to want to get into the areas in which he's forbidden, precisely because he's forbidden. But, if we're smart and do fun things that continue to change the contents of his drawers on a regular basis, then we can potentially distract him a little bit easier.

But I digress.

If you're talking with a new parent, please be careful about what you say to them. "Your life is over!", while technically true, is not a nice thing to say. It turns things into immensely negative events. Instead, say something along the lines of, "When they start to walk, look out! The excitement really begins!"

It's a lot nicer.

The Boy started crawling forward very well yesterday. I mean, he's still belly-dragging army crawling, but he's moving forward with intent. The excitement is truly beginning.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Conversations

Yesterday, in the morning, my wife and I were playing with the baby on our bed. This is the standard morning ritual - she finishes her morning ablutions while I play with the baby, then she feeds him, we play with him, and she leaves for work. Anyway, while we were playing, The Boy turned, looked at me, and said, "Dada." Just for emphasis, he did it again about five minutes later, several more times during the morning, and a few more times last night and this morning.

I'm not entirely sure if that's a "Dada" where he recognizes that I'm a person named "Daddy." I think that "Dada" is a sound that he hears relatively frequently - as a person with an awareness of infant development, I understand the importance of speaking in the third person. "Daddy is going to do this, Daddy will help David get dressed," etc., etc. Perhaps he understands; I know that I like to think that he's learning that I'm a guy named "Dada."

I know a lot of parents that can't wait for their kids to walk, talk, etc; I know that I'm not in a rush. I think that the baby's babbling is immensely cute. I do NOT believe that talking baby talk at the baby is harmful or that it somehow hinders development; I do believe in echoing back what he says back to him. That occasionally means a loud syllable repeated back to him. That's okay.

It's still a little weird that I'm someone's father.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Long Road...

Today was the Big Car Ride, from central New Jersey to Pittsburgh, PA. I loaded The Boy in the car at noon-ish, picked up my wife from her work, and we hit the road. It was a difficult trip, although it could have been a lot worse. Actually, strike that. Barring a catastrophe, it really couldn't have been much worse.

(I cringe a little to type that. Watch - we'll have a snowstorm on the way home, and blow a tire out in an area of Pennsylvania that has no cel reception. God forbid.)

First of all, thankfully, my wife did most of the driving. The knee injury that I sustained last summer makes driving distances very difficult on me. Plus, I don't fit into cars very easily - wide shoulders, wide hips, long legs, tall torso. It was actually quite painful to drive, and only moderately painful to be a passenger. I should have brought something more potent than Alleve, but hindsight is frequently 20/20. So, those were my major issues.

The Boy was a real trooper. He did a lot of sleeping, as you'd expect, and he did a lot of screaming, as you'd expect. I don't blame him; he doesn't understand where we're going, and he doesn't understand why he needs to be constrained in his chair for such a long period of time. He's used to freedom of movement - I really do go out of my way to give him plenty of room to crawl and move around at home. Today, he didn't have that.

We did stop five times during the 350-mile drive, once for about an hour at The Wife's aunt's house. The others, The Boy sat in the grass and played for a little while. Today was a beautiful day, so some sunlight was good for him and helped to restore his mood. With about two hours left in the drive, he'd had it. He was done with being in the car, and he let us know that in no uncertain terms. He spent a lot of the last two hours screaming, although he and I both caught a 20-minute nap in the middle of it.

What do you do? You can't stop, assuming you've checked to make sure that he's well-fed and wearing a dry diaper. If you stop and unlatch him from his chair for a little while, then putting him back in the chair to resume the trip merely makes it worse. So, this was one of those times when we agreed that we had to let him scream. That just hurts, as a parent and as a guy - as a guy, I just want to fix things and to make them better.

Can't do it.

Well, we made it to Pittsburgh in fairly decent time. From leaving my wife's school at about 1:10, we arrived at 9:10 - which is about an hour longer than normal. I suppose that, given enough time, The Boy will get used to this kind of a trip. This one was difficult.

My mother-in-law went as nuts as Grandma is supposed to go. She bought a crib, a jumperoo, a high chair (two, actually), placemats and she went nuts at the second-hand baby store for clothes. We appreciate this - it's hard to pack for babies on the trip. They need their toys, their stroller, and all of the other stuff. The grandparents here did a lot of the work for us, and that made our lives easier.

We did have a car full of kosher-for-Passover groceries, though, because they're lots cheaper in New Jersey then in Pennsylvania. Otherwise, I think, one of us parents would have sat in the back seat with the baby to keep him company - the biggest problem with the rear-facing seat is that he can't see us. It's hard to know we're there when he has a difficult time interacting with us!

Anyway, I'll keep you informed. This is The Boy's first major religious holiday... excepting the masses he's been to with us as part of our Easter church gig.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

History Lesson, part 3

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I’m a >REAL< father now.
Current mood: content
Category: Life

Day 3 highlights -

Changed my first poopy diaper last night. Actually, it's the first poopy diaper - and about the second or third total - that I've ever dealt with in my entire life. I think it was still lots of meconium, which is the stuff in the digestive tract as the baby is gestating.

(Side note - Meconium would be a great name for a stupid person. I've already met kids named Sh**head - pronounced Shih-thee-ad - and Chlamydia. Why not meconium?)

It wasn't as bad as I thought, which is a good sign for later on. The hardest part, for me, was keeping his feet out of the poop as I was cleaning it up. He's a squirmy one, as evidenced by the fact that he's rolling himself onto his side already - which shouldn't happen for a couple of weeks, I'm told.

I burped him a few times. He's surprisingly good at belching, which he gets from my side of the family. We May boys can burp with the best of them.

We brought him - and Mommy - home today. He fussed a bit when I was strapping him into his car seat, but was out like a light before we got out of the hospital parking lot, and he slept all the way home. My father videoed the leaving of the hospital, loading in the car... he got a late start out from the hospital, so I had to delay arriving home.

Yes, this means that my boy visited the comic book store before he visited home. A little Dorkling, like his father.

He's in his crib in his room right now, which he seems to be taking to quite nicely. So far. Everyone else in the house is asleep except for me - I don't really feel like it right now, which I might regret later. I do want to work out today, which shouldn't be a big deal. Molly can handle him for the hour that I'm lifting.

(Hopefully, the exercising won't change over time. I really feel like I need it to stay healthy, besides the vanity issues. It's not being selfish, I hope - baby needs me healthy, not just existing.)

Ian Kennedy, meanwhile, is making his first start for the Yankees. He doesn't look much older than David does. The Yankees now have a 21 & 22 year old in their rotation, and a 21 year old in a prominent part of their bullpen. Who'da thunk it? If you said that a few years ago, I'd say you were an idiot.

Oh, BOY!

Today, The Boy and I started out on the floor, him sitting in front of me, playing with some toy trucks. He pulled himself across my lap to go after the newspaper that I was reading. I moved the newspaper, which revealed one of the five remotes on the floor next to the chair. (Remotes in the living room: tv; cable; TiVo; PS3; PS3 controller) He went after the remote control with his usual gusto; I think that I need to get a remote control chew toy for him. But, I digress.

I moved the remote controls to the other end of the couch, which prompted him to fuss at me ("Hey, Bald Man, why the heck are you moving those things? I want them!") and spin around a couple of times as he looked for more stuff to play with. He pulled himself forward a bit, spun around and pushed himself backwards a bit, then repeated those two steps. He moved himself thusly to the other end of the couch, discovering a toy he doesn't usually play with. He played with it.

After ten seconds, he remembered why he usually doesn't play with it. He saw his bounceroo, and moved towards it. He chewed on one of the metal supports for a little while (which can't be comfortable, really), before he sighted the second PlayStation 3 controller, which was plugged into the machine to charge. He went after that controller like a junkie towards his latest fix.

To the surprise of noone, he made it three feet across the floor and got ahold of the controller. Since it was attached to the machine (a $400 machine, natch) by a cord, I took it away and hid the controller. He sighted the PS3 remote, and went for it. At that point, we really had to leave - I had to drive up to a local high school, where I borrowed a band uniform for the chorus show next weekend.

Summing up: The Boy circumnavigated 270 degrees around a square, intentionally and purposefully. Also, I'm not quite as babyproofed as I'd prefer. Do I really have to buy outlet covers? I guess so, but it's a pain.

I did order a baby gate, from this site. It'll probably wind up arriving Friday afternoon, when we've already left for Pittsburgh. This means that it will sit in front of our house for four days, telling the entire world that we're not home. >sigh<

Happy Pesach to any Jewish readers out there.

"Parental" Over-reactions

It's something amazing about having an infant: complete and utter strangers, with whom you have never had a conversation or any sort of interaction, feel comfortable with giving advice on how to raise your child. More specifically, people feel obligated to jump in and inform you when they feel you're "wrong" with your child.

Yesterday, The Boy and I were at the social security administration offices. Nothing serious - I lost my social security card and needed to get a new one. The room was really full, as was usual at 10:30AM - mental note, get there really early to reduce the wait. I sat down on the floor in the front of the room, where I could have the stroller and diaper bag near me and allow The Boy some freedom of movement.

So, The Boy was playing with my car keys while I was settling us into place. This is something that he does regularly, considering that babies love keys. He was chewing on my actual car key, which is a big, long key. There is no way that he can swallow this key, or the key ring - it's wide and long. A nearby lady decided to let me know that chewing on the key is dangerous and that I should stop him from doing it.

Great. Thanks. I disagree. First of all, he chews on "hard" things all the time - it's the nature of the beast. He plays with a pot and a wooden spoon in the kitchen and chews on that - if it hurt, wouldn't he stop doing it? I mean, that seems to be the best way to learn something, as cruel as that might seem. It's the old joke:

Patient: "Doctor, Doctor! It hurts when I do this!"
Doctor: "Well, don't do that."

Granted, this lady wasn't as bad as the people that strike up random conversations about breastfeeding v. formula (I'm sorry, do I know you well enough to discuss my wife's breasts?), my choice of diapers, my choice of career or other baby things. And, there is the old - and true - saying: "It takes a village to raise a child."

It's just interesting. The assumption by this lady was, "You're a man. You don't know how to take care of a baby."

Huh. Interesting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Glad to know it's not just me...

Right now, I'm lying in a darkened bedroom, next to my wife and my son. She's still (kind of) awake at this point, for no really good reason. Likely, she caught a little bit of shuteye after dinner tonight, which has kept her up. The Boy is awake, also; he woke up when I came in and had a brief conversation with my wife (regarding work ethic, which I won't get into right now. Not my work ethic, or hers).

Anyway, she's snuggling him close, and he's sucking his thumb and playing a little bit. More specifically, he's flailing his arms around (as he's prone to do) and whacking her in the shoulder and cheek. I admit to feeling a little bit of satisfaction as I watch this, partly because:

1) I'm a cold, heartless individual, and
2) I'm glad I'm not the only one he uses as a punching bag.

Did I remember to mention the way he decided to wake me from our nap on Monday? I had given him a water bottle to play with, and he decided to use that as a blunt instrument to pummel me into consciousness.

I'm glad to know that I'm raising a future mob enforcer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

History Lesson, part 2...

In order to blog in the same place, here's August 30, 2007:

The Boy was born on Thursday, August 30, at 3:04PM, weighing in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Mommy & Baby are doing wonderfully - The Wife is such an amazing woman, going through an induced labor and delivering a LARGE baby without the benefit of any medication or pain relievers, save for her husband's hand. Labor lasted approximately 14 hours, with only the last three hours getting bad... all in all, we were really goddamn lucky and ecstatically happy.

The baby, at this point in his life, is an absolute genius. I can tell this. How? Many ways... he made a perfect latch on the boobie the first time he tried. He doesn't cry when his daddy holds him. He loves his mommy's singing voice already.

Plus, he looks like a little burrito when swaddled. "Get in my belly," indeed!

And now, from August 31:

Baby, day two.
Current mood: pleased
Category: Life

Spent three hours at the hospital before returning home to let Grandma have a "shift". I'd be there now, but there's a dude coming to pick up a couch we're giving away, and considering that I want to get rid of the (darn) thing, I'm not leaving for a while.

Changed two diapers - one a little damp, one not so much. I sang to him - man, I can't believe that I'm blanking on so many words to songs. He liked "Lida Rose," with me singing Director (you know, the coolest part in any given section), he liked "God Bless The Child," but he didn't like "Love Me" so much.

He definitely likes the booby, though... in that, father and son are one. 8)

Geez, I am so lucky that I married such a wonderful, beautiful, strong woman!

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off...

...and start all over again, I guess.

The Boy has gotten distressingly good at standing himself up. This is a new trick - he only learned it a couple of days ago, as I recorded in the blog. Today, he decided that he was going to practice this skill. After our morning nap and his feeding, he had a nice, big poop. Considering that his poops are becoming more "normal" poop instead of baby poop, I cleaned and changed him and sat him in his crib while I rinsed the cloth diaper and put it in the hamper. When I got back from the bathroom, he was standing in his crib!

Okay, that was cool. I folded a couple of diapers, and I watched him hang out for a little while. Having a brilliant inspiration, I ran and grabbed the video camera, sat him down, and recorded. Then, I did it again, and here's what I got:



Isn't he great? He's such a cutie, and smart as a whip, to boot.

Contrast that with this video, taken about three weeks after he was born:



He did the same thing about a dozen times later, on his green toy. I didn't record that.

It's only a matter of time before he's mobile. I need to get a gate for the stairs, like, NOW.

In a way, I'm kind of sad about this development. I don't want him to grow up so quickly: I really do enjoy spending time with the baby. He's fun! It's only a short while that he's mine, before I have to share him with school, and friends, and eventually his own life and family... which will be great, I'm sure. With my looks and my wife's brains and talent, he's destined for success.

I wonder what kind of baby gate fits the railing that we have around the steps?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Historical Look...

Published on my myspace page, August 28, 2007:

One Day More...
Current mood: excited
Category: Life

...and my life irrevocably changes. My son will be born today or tomorrow, depending on when the induction takes hold.

I'm scared - I freely admit it. As you've noticed, if you've read this blog at all, I have a difficult time with things that are out of my control. And, this THING called childbirth is so unbelievably out of a man's control, by the definition of the act. I'll be there to be a cheerleader, to hold her hand and cradle her in my arms when she needs it - I can do that.

I just hope and pray that things go smoothly. I'm always a worst-cast scenario kind of guy, and I worry immensely.

If you're a prayin' person, give a nod upstairs (or wherever your God / Gods reside) and put in a good word for me.I think I've built up enough karma that this should go smoothly, but a little bit of extra help is appreciated.

I am really excited to meet my son, however. My little dorkling.... he needs to be taught the important things in life:

- never throw a slider 3-2 unless you're DARN sure that you're going to hit the inside corner.
- it's only okay to throw stuff at Ben Grimm if you live on Yancy St.
- Buffy shouldn't wind up with Angel OR Spike - but, if she had to make a choice, Angel. Spike was her experimentative / self-loathing stage.
- never try to resurrect the dead, unless you're specifically looking to raise a zombie army.
- never try to raise a zombie army. It never turns out well.
- if zombies are attack, STAY THE (heck) AWAY FROM THE BOARDED-UP WINDOW. That's where they come from.
- zombies are a regular menace that affects modern American society.
- never (anger) off Veronica Mars.
- take an inside breaking ball to the opposite field. If you try to pull it, you're just going to roll your hands over & ground out weakly to the middle infield.
- Kirk would kick Picard's ass. But, there is no way in hell that Kirk would survive as a Federation officer in the future. There's a proper time for cowboys, and a proper time for generals.
- There is only one Trilogy, and that's Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi. Ewoks suck.
- Lord of the Rings was a great book, in addition to being great movies. The Hobbit was a better book.
- when you bag & board a comic, the comic is always on the side away from the flap.
- don't (mess) with Batman. It's REALLY not worth it.
- the Flash is faster than Superman, and the Hulk is stronger than Superman. But, Superman would kick both their asses pretty handily.
- don't draw on an inside straight. You'll lose FAR more money than you'll win. And, when someone's betting up a pair on the table, fold. They've got the trips.
- there's a Simpsons quote appropriate for every occasion.
- bench press goes down to an inch above your chest. Don't bounce the bar off of your chest unless you need to give yourself CPR.
- you need stronger back muscles than chest muscles if you really want to put on bench press weight. Spend more time on cable rows than everyone else, and it'll pay off on your bench.
- nice guys don't get the chicks. If you're nice, you're not going to be rolling in multiple chicks like your (jerk) friends. But, the chicks that nice guys get, are the best chicks of all.

Above all...
- treat your mother right or I'll kick your (rear end).
- if / when you put me in a home, please don't make it that crooked one we saw on TV.

(told you there's a Simpsons quote appropriate for any situation)

Monster Mash

Friday night, The Wife was at a school event - the re-dedication of the school auditorium, which was rebuilt over the past year or so after several years of fund-raising. They did a nice job on it. I saw it a few weeks ago, when The Boy and I stopped in for a surprise visit. One of her orchestras played as part of the "pre-game" ceremonies, and they returned later in the evening to play in a massed group.

The Boy and I stayed home, having no real role to play in the performance. My BFF, hereafter referred to as Frankenstein (because, in body shape and general dexterity, that is the pop culture figure that he most resembles), stopped by the house to pick up some boxes. He and his wife are selling their house in eastern Pennsylvania and moving back to north central New Jersey, and I just happened to have about two dozen empty cardboard boxes taking up room in the garage: the boxes for the high chair, the new car seats, and a bunch of online Amazon boxes and such. This was stuff that he could use, so he came by to pick them up - and to grab a quick round of "Rock Band" on my PS3.

The Boy and I have spent about twenty days or so with Frankenstein and his wife since he was born, so he's not unfamiliar to The Boy. However, when Frankenstein walked in to the house, The Boy saw him and responded like Frankenstein was, in fact, the legendary monster.

He flipped.

I mean, full-bore, whole-body, oh-my-GOD schizo-psychotic break.

I mean, I was scared. Like, debating about taking him to the emergency room, because I thought he had an aneurysm. (Yes, I did have to look that word up. Thank you, google spell-check.) He was screaming back until he lungs were empty - and then continuing to scream without taking a new breath. He used to do that back when he was a few days old, but hasn't done that in quite a while. His entire body was rigid, except for his neck, which was bouncing his head back and forth in terror. His eyes were rolling around in his head, flashing from him to me to him to me, etc.

This is strange. He's never been TOO comfortable around Frankenstein before - Frankenstein is, like, 6'5" tall and almost that wide. He's not fat - he's not skinny. His shoulders are REALLY wide, his hips are wide and he's got feet the size of Volkswagons. He's just a big dude. That can't make a kid 29 inches tall too comfortable. But, he's never acted like that around ANYBODY.

I brought him into another room to calm him down and heated up a bottle, which he took. But, he wasn't able to be in the room with Frankenstein for longer than a couple of minutes without freaking out. Frankenstein stayed for a little while - we did play a little video game, when The Boy calmed down to occasional yips. Rock Band has singing, which The Boy tried to do with me, when he wasn't trying to eat the microphone. After F. left, The Boy was fussy and grumpy for a while, napped for twenty minutes, then was fussy and grumpy for a couple more hours until Mommy got home.

She tells me that he's never like that around her; a couple of days a week, he's fussy and grumpy for no discernible reason for me. I wonder if it's something I'm doing! This is one reason why I almost wish that The Boy could talk, so that I could hear what he's thinking and feeling. Then again, I'm in no rush for that, because he can't talk back and be the smart-a$$ that he's going to become, knowing his parents as well as I do.

Weird.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yet another first...

So, before dinner tonight, I'm doing my homework, and I hear a plaintive cry for help from The Wife, who is changing The Boy immediately before they were going for a walk to pick up some meds for Musical Daddy. I rush in the nursery, as quickly as possible, to find out that The Boy has created yet another first: his first "adult"-style poop!

Yup, for the first time in his life, he created poop that was actually poop instead of a liquid spray with broccoli pieces. This was actually a little turd.

I'm so proud. He's my little pooper.

Congrats to my friend, Band Guy, for the delivery of his son, Kevin Thomas Band Guy. 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 20.75 inches. It should be interesting and fun - I can't wait to meet the little guy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Exit Light, Enter Night... Take My Hand...

I've noticed that many - or most - of my blog entries have been tagged with "sleep" on the bottom. That's kind of entertaining, considering the amount of time spent trying to get the baby to sleep, keep the baby asleep, or prepare for when the baby wakes up from sleep. It really is an obsession with us. I suppose it beats talking about baby poop.

My wife and I have been having a long series of very serious conversations about our sleeping arrangements lately. For the last three months or so, the baby has been sleeping in bed with us, sleeping directly in between us. This is, I believe, a traditional "co-sleeping" or "family bed" arrangement. It just works for us, right now.

We've evolved into this arrangement slowly. When The Boy was younger, we would put him to sleep in his crib, wake up to bring him in for feeding, and put him back to sleep in his crib. Then, when he woke in the morning, we'd take him inside to the family room for snuggling and playing. This was a convenient arrangment; no bottles were necessary, considering that we've been breastfeeding the whole time (as we continue to do). But, at some point in The Boy's development, we hit a bit of a development: the baby, and the wife, don't have to be awake anymore while the middle-of-the-night feeding occurs.

So, what wound up happening was, the baby would come in with us, the two of them would fall asleep, and - if I didn't wake up and put the baby back in the crib - all of us would wake up four hours later in our family bed. Eventually, we started skipping the middle steps, and we just brought the baby to bed with us in the beginning of the evening. This way, nobody really wakes up for the 2 or 3AM feeding - he cries a little bit, the booby comes out, and everyone falls back asleep while The Boy eats. It works for us.

Understand, though, that this is a relatively stable situation. My wife and I are both immobile sleepers - we don't toss and turn, we don't roll over or move while we sleep. The Baby, also, is not a mobile sleeper. Once he's in between us, he doesn't flail or kick in his sleep, he doesn't rotate or anything like that. He sleeps like we do: in one place, and thoroughly. He does usually sleep on his side instead of his back; when it's just the two of us (him & me), he tends to roll over onto his stomach and sleep like I do. That's pretty cute.

This has inspired a number of conversations between my wife and myself, as each of us is concerned that the other is unhappy with the sleeping arrangement. Neither of us is unhappy. This was works and seems to be the most efficient and enjoyable for all parties involved. Is it ideal? No. I'm a very tactile person - physical contact is important to me. (Not talking sex, here, although the baby in bed does present opportunities for creative problem solving.) I miss not snuggling with my wife. It's difficult to give her the good night kiss I've given her for years, because I don't want to wake or crush the baby. But in one sense, I agree with her statement: "I am unwilling to listen to my son cry for minutes or hours just because someone else tells me that I need to change my sleeping arrangements."

I agree with that. I've read most of the infamous Ferber book. I think The Wife read the whole thing - marching band got in the way of the ending for me. Yes, one of the sleeping method "fixes" that he speaks about talks about allowing the child to cry it out. But, he's not talking about a willy-nilly, arbitrary decision to change sleeping habits and locations. It's not going to do any good for The Boy to "cry it out," because the same bottom-line problem exists: he still needs that 1 or 2 or 3 AM feeding (depending on when he eats last) to make it through the night. I am unwilling to wake up, go into his room, pick him up, carry him inside, wait until he's done eating, then put him back to bed in his crib. My wife is unwilling to wake up, go into his room, pick him up, carry him inside, wait until he's done eating, then put him back to bed in his crib. So, that neatly solves that - unless someone is willing to come to the house to do that for us, then we're "stuck" the way we are.

If he was a different boy, then things would be different. If he was a wild sleeper - a kicker / puncher / flailer - then he's be in his own room, crying or no crying. If he had many, many loud dreams, then he'd be in his own room. The way things have evolved has allowed us all to get the maximum amount of sleep at night.

I understand that things are going to need to change for him to begin sleeping in his own room. When his eating habits have changed such that he can make it from his bedtime until the next morning without a full feeding in the middle of the night, then we begin the discussion of putting him back in his own bed. I should probably start putting him down for naps in his own room instead of in our bed, but most of the time, I nap with him. He will nap for a solid hour and a half if I'm next to him; he'll wake up, see that I'm asleep, play with the sheets or pillow (the other pillow is placed to prevent him from rolling off of the bed on the other side) for a little while, then snuggle into me and go back to sleep. I nap with him in the morning and in the midafternoon, and we're both happy with the arrangement.

Nothing, after all, is better than a gorgeous baby snuggling up to you, sticking his thumb in his mouth, and going to sleep. I could, however, do without the open-palm smacks to the head when he really wants me to wake up.

Anyway, step one will likely be to bring the crib in our room for a week - let him sleep in his bed, but be in the same room with us. It's not the most convenient way, because our room isn't that big. We'll manage. Then we'll move the crib back into his room and start the whole bedtime routine thing. We'll make it work.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exciting Day...

Today, The Boy was sitting in his crib while I was folding his diapers and putting his clothes away. He grabbed the edge of the crib, pushed with his feet, and brought himself into a standing position!

Uh-oh... the end of the Easy Times is near...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Philadelphia

Took The Boy down to Philadelphia today, for the Sweet Adeline's convention. It was a good trip - he's just a good kid. He's got a wonderful disposition and an ability to entertain himself (as much as a 7-month old can) and to keep himself engaged in his surroundings.

He did really, really well during the competition part of things. During the first two quartets, he chirped a little bit - no sustained vocalizations, just an exclamation or two, which stopped when I got up and walked him around. Finally, I knew he was ready to fall asleep, and I walked him outside the competition and let him fuss and yell until he was asleep. He woke up in time to see Mommy's quartet sing.

He was one of the hits of the convention! The women in the quartets and the audience went absolutely ga-ga over him. I mean, I know I'm prejudiced, but he really is a beautiful child and he does behave extremely well.

I wonder how much of that I can take credit for? I hesitate to pat myself on the back, even though I think I'm doing a pretty good job as a father, because I know that things tend to 180-degree change when kid #2 comes along. I've heard that where #1 tends to be good, #2 tends to be otherwise. Not true in my family - #2 was the favorite, at least until I came along. But, it is true in my wife's family (#2 was much harder than #1) and in my brother's family (#2 is a little monster - no, not really. He's a little boy. His older sister was fine; he's just, well, a little boy).

Anyway. It's 1:22AM, and I'm exhausted. My knee hurts from 4 hours in the car and a bunch more sitting. I'm going to bed, because I have a bunch of lessons to teach tomorrow.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Guys' Night, 2008

...otherwise known as SausageFest '08. Yes, I'm crude.

So, The Wife is in Philadelphia tonight, preparing for the Sweet Adelines Region 15 Convention & Competition. Her quartet is competing tomorrow, where they are going to kick some major booty. I don't know if they will win - in something that is as subjective as music, no judging system is truly objective. But, the barbershop societies do a far, far better job of it than judges in other fields. I wish the "trained musicians and educators" that judge, say, high school band competitions would do one tenth as good of a job as the "motivated amateurs" that judge the barbershop groups.

...but I digress.

Tonight is, to the best of my knowledge, the first night that either one of us is solo with The Boy. How interesting is it that I'm the first to spend the night? I'm really, truly lucky that I get to experience lots of these milestone events with him. It went well, so far. We met my brother for dinner at Hooters - we figured, how better to start a Guys' Night? The waitresses, as you'd imagine, went gaga over the baby. The Boy is really a gorgeous young man, and he's at the absolutely cutest age he's ever been. He's very interactive with people around him, his motions are charmingly awkward and he's actually quite funny, if you pay attention.

Side note: while we were there, I gave him a chicken wing bone to chew on. This was something that my wife & I have discussed to great length. I removed all the parts of the bone that are detachable, save for a thin sliver of meat - this is something we've done for about a week now. A gentleman sitting at the next table - and I use that word deliberately, because he was a real gentleman, no sarcasm here - introduced himself, sat down, and very kindly and patiently asked if we were aware of the potentials for danger that a bone like that has for babies. I was - see the above bit - and told him that, with a smile. We discussed some particulars of the situation for a couple of minutes, and then he excused himself and returned to his table. I found it a particularly interesting discussion, as the man was very gentle and very sincere. This is very unlike the usual person that tries to involve themselves in others' business: usually, you get a stuck-up, nose-in-the-air, arrogant (and I know arrogance) know-it-all who attempts to lecture you about life. The great analogy that my wise uses is the fact that, since she became noticeably pregnant and gave birth, people have deemed it appropriate to ask what she's doing with her breasts. But, this guy was different - and, he bought my brother a beer. (Since I was singing later that night - and don't like drinking anyway - I had diet cokes, which were free refills.)

Afterwards, The Boy & I went to church choir rehearsal. He was very cute, even if he was far more vocal than I would have preferred - and, OMG, I hope that's not an issue tomorrow. I'll die. He wanted to sing along and to talk with Daddy LOTS. He did not fall asleep during the rehearsal, which was surprising. The rehearsal ran from 7:30 until 9:30, which is usually a time that he's asleep. But, he stayed awake and engaged in the proceedings for the entire time, only really crying twice - once, when I put him down in the stroller to try to rock him to sleep, and the second time, when I put him in the front carrier, facing me instead of facing out, like he usually goes. That's fine.

The big issue? He hadn't eaten, and I brought three bottles and no nipples. Argh. Not the Musical Daddy's brightest moment. I did improvise a bit - I had brought a sippy cup so that he could have some water with our dinner, and I used that to help feed him - even though the principal result was a change of his shirt because he wore more milk than he drank.

Brought him home, fed him a bottle and he fell right asleep. Then I watched Battlestar Galactica, Crossroads part I & II. New season starts tomorrow. I'm most concerned about the 4 or 5AM feeding, as it's been a LONG time since I was up at that time to prepare food. Like, never - I just hand him over. Oh, well. I'll adjust.

Tomorrow, we join Mommy in Philadelphia. Lucky us. I hate Philadelphia.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The eternal conundrum

I'm supposed to take my wife's car to the dealership today to get the oil changed. The baby is sleeping. If I wake him, I'll regret it. If I don't, then I'm adding another hour to my wait to get the car done. >sigh<

Fun day, more or less.

I wonder what The Boy thinks and feels these days. He's seven months old, as of Sunday, and I can see his cognitive functions developing. He's got a wonderful sense of focus and an amazing curiosity about the world around him. He likes to see what he can see, to experience lots of different things by grabbing them, touching them, hitting them and putting them in his mouth.

I knew some girls like that, in high school. But, I digress.

Each day, I watch him start to understand things a little bit more. He's starting to understand the food thing, and he's starting to understand that the whole "eating" thing is pleasurable and a way to cure those terrible hunger pains. He's starting to understand the whole communication thing, as he tries to talk to us all the time now. Today, we were watching a band class, and when the kids stopped playing, he said a nice, long sentence of instruction to the students - it was normal baby babbling, but entertaining and cute because of the timing. So, I think he gets the whole speaking thing as a concept, even if he can't do it yet.

Heck, he even understands that remote controls are symbols of power and authority in the house - at least, the way he throws his entire body at any nearby remote control would indicate that he wants them like they're chocolate. I'm the remote control hound in the family - I suppose that that's a tradition male duty, as I start to shake when my wife has the remote and I'm watching tv with her. Even in the bedroom, even when I'm not home, the remotes are kept on my nightstand. The Boy understands that, sort of, and goes after them full-bore. It's actually cute, because he really does throw his entire body into getting the remote control.

If I wanted to speed up his intentions of crawling, I'd put the remote control in front of him and let him go for it. I've seen him, a couple of times, do a full-body dive to try to get a remote. The problem with that is that it usually ends in a face plant, and I'm not too thrilled about that prospect. My wife would kill me if he had to get stitches because I was teasing him with the remote control.

Anyway.

I wonder about what he's thinking and feeling nowadays. For instance, this morning, after our nap, his feeding and some real quality playtime (side note: my favorite, favorite time of day - and some of the happiest moments in my lifetime, to be honest - come in that magical time as he's waking from his morning nap. He's fun, happy and playful then like no other time), I spent about a half hour-ish puttering around the house getting ready for our excursion today. I folded a half basket of laundry, put away my laundry and the towels/sheets from last week, stacked & stored the laundry baskets, threw a snack / lunch together for me, put a couple of bottles in a cooler for him, made up the diaper bag and charged the iPod with today's news podcasts. Some of that was okay with The Boy, particularly putting him in his temporary playpen, occasionally known as a big laundry basket, with him sitting & a couple of toys in with him. He's amused by that, as it helps him sit up and gives him things right there to play with and not drop. But, he was quite upset by the time I was done, because some of the things that I did (like my shower & dressing myself) meant that I wasn't holding him, might not be in the same room with him and definitely not paying full attention to him.

What's he thinking? What's he feeling? I know he's upset, and I know that - most of all - he just wants to be held by me as I walk around. He hates being by himself. Does he know that I'm running those household errands? Does he know that, when I walk out of the room, that I'll be back in a second?

He probably doesn't. Object permanence is an advanced concept for a baby, and one that he's not going to truly understand for a while. This is why peekaboo is so much fun for the baby: when the towel / sheet / blanket / whatever is pulled from his eyes, he's excited and happy to see that Daddy has appeared out of nowhere. I guess that he gets scared, when I'm in the shower & he's in his crib, or on our bed, or in his chair, that I'm going to disappear and never come back, leaving him to be all by himself.

That would scare the crap out of me, too. Hmm. I know he'll learn; I just hope I don't teach him the wrong things about it.