Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saving Time on the Front End

One of the biggest things I'm learning as a parent is the value of preventive maintenance. Not on my car, but everywhere. In particular, cleaning up messes.

Yesterday, I fed our son prunes, peas, and applesauce for lunch. Not only did it get all over him, but on his bib and onto the high chair try. It did not help that, just as I fed him a spoonful of prunes, he reared his little head back and, "Sneeze!" This sent the food all over the tray and his bib. I was happy that it didn't get on me.

After the feeding ended, I wiped his mouth, took of his bib, got him out of the chair, and went on to the next activity. During his nap, I looked at the tray. It was covered in prunes that had since dried. On the counter was his bib, also covered. I brought them both over to the sink and proceeded to scrub. If I'd only wiped them up immediately after the prune tornado, it would have been easy. Now, I had to spend five good minutes scrubbing. And all of you parents know, five minutes of scrubbing is a long time and could be much better spent.

Now I truly understand Benjamin Franklin's saying, "A stitch, in time, saves nine."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Funny Kid Speak

One of the kids in my playgroup was showing me her room. She pulled out a silk nightgown that used to be her mother's and told me that she slept with it. I asked, "Do you use it as a blanket?" as it was too big for to wear. She replied, "No, I just suck on it." It was really cute. For the rest of the morning, she demonstrated, not letting go of it, but letting it rest securely in her mouth.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Help! My son is lazy!

Our son has several talents that could probably put him into the top percentile of his class, but there is one thing that I'm starting to worry about.

He doesn't hold his own bottle.

For the past two months, I've been trying to teach him to hold his bottle. While feeding him, I'll actually take his hands and put them on either side of the bottle. While he is beginning to get it when I do that, he still will not take the initiative to pick it up from the start. Furthermore, he hasn't grasped the concept of gravity with respect to liquids in a sealed container; he doesn't understand that he has to tilt the bottom of the bottle up to make the formula come down to the nipple.

Does anyone have suggestions? I know that our son is barely 7 1/2 months old, but we have high expectations. I believe that he can learn, if only I knew how to teach him. Help!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reality Check

A can of Emfamil formula costs the same as a bottle of Grey Goose. God has a terrific sense of humor.

Fresh Family

Last Sunday, my mother remarried. My father passed away two years and eleven months ago. The reality of my mother remarrying was not one easily grasped. No matter what I felt, though, it was going to happen.

And rightfully so; how many people lose their beloved spouses and then go on for years lonely and depressed? It might not happen immediately, but after years and years of being alone, there comes a time when a person might wish they had someone with them.

So my mother found a companion. He truly is a good man and is good to our family. Not only is he a good guy, but he's got a great family of his own. That was probably the thing I overlooked the most, is that I am not only technically gaining a step-father, but also gaining step-siblings.

My siblings and I have never discussed that. It wasn't until we were at the wedding when that technicality crept into my head. Fortunately, they are quality people. They have their own kids, all under the age of ten.

Another reality that I faced was that, provided my mother and her new husband continue in good health for the next twenty-six years, he will have been with my mother for as long as I knew my parents together. That continues to be a thought that I don't know how to handle. To add to that, his family will be in our family for at least that amount of time, and possibly longer if we become so close.

It turns out that I am fortunate. First, my mother found a good guy to share her life with. Second, this guy has his own good family. Third, my family gets along with her new husband. Fourth, our families get along together.

These things do not always fit together like puzzle pieces. I'm sure there are plenty of families who had resentment, who refused to accept another family. It is easy to see how people could reject such dramatic new beginnings. Fortunately, my siblings have been able to see the trees through the forest to understand what was at stake. First, it was our mother's happiness. Second, that we might eventually be happy, too. To be happy without our father has been difficult to grasp. As we go forward, we never have to forget him, but we can rest easier knowing that this situation, exactly as it has unfolded, is what our father would have wanted for our family.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Updating Baby's Hardware

I didn't know why, but our son and I have been bored with each other for about a week. Playtime hasn't brought its usual enthusiasm, and he hasn't been as enthusiastic about doing the same activities we'd been doing.

Over the last week, we've been to a couple of houses where there were kids' toys around. I realized that I haven't updated his toys in quite a while. Looking around our condo (still not sold), he's got a bunch of dolls and some balls, but that's about it. He still likes the balls, which are good for certain types of development, but the dolls are old and are boring. We needed some things with a little pop, a little pizazz.

Then I walked into Target. Fortunately, the number of toys appropriate for his age group are somewhat limited. I don't think I missed many, though. We rang up over $75 in new toys. Depending on who you are, that may sound like a large number or a small number.

As he gets older and interests become more diverse and complex, his toys will become more expensive. They will include bikes, sporting equipment, musical instruments, art supplies, video games, and more. If you think about it, though, all of those are toys he will have for quite a while, whereas these newly acquired toys will last six months at best. Some he will play with once and then never acknowledge again. Others will be staples for a year. He's only seven months old and the toys are generally reasonably priced. That is, until you start buying ten at a time. Then 7.99 - 24.99 price tags become sticker shock at the register. Not that I'd put anything back.

Now that we've got some new things, we'll have a lot more to do when playtime comes around. While one would think the new toys are just for our son, that is just not the case. If I'm not having fun, then it's hard for me to have fun with him. I'm looking forward to introducing a couple of new toys at a time and seeing how he reacts to them. As all of us parents know, watching children do things for the first time brings great happiness.

Monday, August 13, 2007


My family and I were recently at a first birthday party. While there, one of the relatives to the host family was a twelve-year-old boy who had some sort of cough. I didn't notice it until it was pointed out to me.

Then I heard him.

Cough. Cough. Not just a little cough, but a rough cough with some reverberation. And that happens. The appalling thing was that at no time did the boy cover his mouth with his hand. Not once. Every subsequent cough felt like he was closer and closer to my son and I. Soon, it felt like he was in front of me, coughing in my face.

When it was time for the family to leave, the boy coughed again in front of his mother. No hands. She didn't say a word. It was as if this was normal behavior and not something was needed to be noticed. Like he was tying his shoes or running his hand through his hair.

I can't wait for my child to be old enough to see him make all of these mistakes. Then I'll be able to criticize myself for the lack of manners that he has. Until then, he's perfect and will continue to be so.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Poop Pride

I love that I am so proud of our son for his poop. When he has a big poop, he gets cheers, applause, kisses, etc. Can you imagine such treatment throughout your own ife? Can you imagine being at a family dinner, leaning over, and letting a good, ripping fart go, then your family smiles and cheers you, giving you encouragement? One or two people might even lean over to get a good whiff. My how things change.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

How to Tell Baby Needs New Clothes

By the time an infant has outgrown his clothes the old ones are so stained, you would've had to replace them, anyway.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Funny Thing About Kids

At playgroup today, there were a group of the "older" kids, ages 3-6, who spent much of the time in an upstairs room of the host's house. Every ten minutes there would be some yelling, followed by some crying, and a parent would go up and straighten everything out. Sometimes the crying child would head downstairs to try to get some cuddling and tell his or her side of the story first.

One little boy, one of the youngest in that group, came downstairs crying a couple of times. One time one of the other kids stole the toy he was playing with; another time he was pushed to the floor. Both times he took a few minutes with the adults, then went back upstairs to get back into the mix.

When his mother told him that it was time to leave (as it was for everyone), he started crying that he didn't want to go. I guess fun hurts sometimes.

Friday, August 3, 2007

His Routine, My Mania

Our son has formed a routine like I've never had. The closest I've ever been was my last semester in college.

That semester I had to take eighteen credit hours - six classes. I wasn't going to sacrifice my social life for my education, though. Classes started between 9:30 and 11:00am, so I got there around 9:00am and stayed there until 7 or 8:00pm. When I got home, I was ready to party.

These days, I'm in a different sort of routine. I get up before 7:00am to feed our son and drive my wife to work. She's up around 5:30 or 6:00am, as she spends extra time with him before being gone for the day. I have specific times that I need to feed him, put him down for naps, and play with him. He takes a bath every other day. We have playgroup every Tuesday and Gymboree on Thursdays.

While he's in his routine, though, he's thrown me out of mine. His morning nap is fairly consistent, but his afternoon nap can last one to four hours.

That means, while our son is getting everything that he needs, I can't do the things I need to. The gym hasn't seen my face in almost a month. I used to go two or three days a week. If I don't get my act together during his morning nap, I can't run errands. If I do, then I miss his afternoon nap. If I wait for his afternoon nap, I don't know if he'll wake up so that we can go out and back before my wife gets home. Now that he's eating solid foods but is particular about how it's presented to him, I have to do remember more things to bring every time we leave the house. (And anyone who knows me knows how superior my memory is.) As I get better at one thing, like getting him on his routine, I get out of mine and my life becomes less certain.

There are still things that I can count on. He still poops and pees. He still laughs and smiles a lot. He's mesmerized by the trains that pass by our condo regularly. He naps during the day and sleeps through the night. Those are the highlights of my day. Mundane? Maybe to the layperson. When that smile is directed at you, you know that you're having a good day.