The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘fatherhood’

19th Month, Or A Pooping, Walking, Talking Machine

I’m not going to wait on this one, the kiddo did enough of that, the big highlight of the month was … WALKING! He had a few bouts of solo walking last month but boy it really came alive this month. The month started with a little trip my wife took to visit a friend, and my mom came and spent the weekend with the kiddo and I. Saturday night, after a day full of activities including swimming, we were hanging around in the family room and bedtime was fast approaching. Suddenly a switch flipped because he started walking. And walking. And walking. He’d go back and forth between my mom and I, ping-ponging the four or so feet between where the two of us were sitting. All the while holding baby.

Yes, my mom brought baby when she came to visit and the kiddo was delighted. He held on to her during all of her initial walking. Maybe he just needed someone’s hand to hold, and if it was an inanimate hand … so be it.

Aside from walking, it was a good visit with my mom and it’s nice to see that the kiddo is more playful and interactive with others these days (not just clinging to mom or dad out of a stranger danger reaction). Although the kiddo does still like to cling to me, and his climbing me like a tree seemed to amuse my mom. (When I’ve got him in my arms he’ll sort of reach up and climb around on my shoulder/head … I’ve got him supported the whole time but he just sort of monkeys around up there.)

My mom left, but thankfully she left baby behind. Baby has continued to be a hit all this month. Baby and Dido (our robot vacuum) are the two most requested names in the house. When the kiddo wakes up he and I often have breakfast together, and walking downstairs he’ll excitedly greet Dido by saying Dido’s name over and over. Then, around breakfast wrapping up, ‘baby! … baby! … baby!’ is the name of the game.

Baby has helped us out a few times, too. For example, the kiddo was sick at some point this month and he refused his medicine. So I got out a tiny syringe and had the kiddo give baby medicine, then boom, he took his with grace! Whala! Another time he was refusing to eat so baby fed him (which was a trick, I tell you, navigating baby ‘holding a spoon’ and feeding the kid with that). So, thanks baby, for the help. He has also put a diaper on baby a few times which is either very telling in that the kid things we aren’t gentle at all … or, perhaps more logically, his motor skills aren’t quite 100%. The diaper gets unfolded and put on the ground. Then baby is picked up and sort of smashed on top of the diaper. Then … sometimes, that’s it. All done. Other times the diaper is aggressively smashed on top of baby and then he works for quite a while to try to secure it with the straps. Whatever form it takes, that diaper business is aggressive.

I mentioned a sickness and we had two bouts of it this month. The first round was a wicked cough and maybe a fever … but the cough led to bad sleep which meant cuddling up with mom or dad through the course of the night. My wife ended up missing a day of work, and we had a weird hours day one day where I was home some, my wife some, and our sitter some. Spread the love! Thankfully he bounced back from that fairly quickly and we managed to catch up on sleep … Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. I still always feel like I could go to bed at around 7pm.

One thing we allow when the kiddo is sick is TV. Normally we have 0 TV going when the kiddo is awake and boy is it crazy how much he loves it. Just the littlest taste and he can’t get enough. After that round of sickness he kept pointing at the TV and saying, ‘me-me … me-me’ which was educational because who knew he had a word for TV? Thankfully that has since dropped off because he’s been TV free for a few weeks now.

Another new word this month was … ‘a poop.’ It was amazing. My wife and I were hanging out in the family room one day, or maybe it was just me, and the kiddo said, ‘a poop.’ I said, ‘do you have a poop?’ and he responded, very helpfully, with, ‘a poop.’ I looked and holy smokes … he’s right! He has a poop! He is starting to figure out bathroom stuff! Later that day or the next the same thing happened and my wife and I were so pleased, and adoring of his smarts, and really applauding him and … that backfired. Because then he just started saying ‘a poop’ all the time for no reason. It was still an entertaining little phrase for him to say but much less accurate. Our adoration died off and I think he’s now slowly sliding back into accurate territory.

Another fun weekend this past month was when my wife’s folks came into town. They were here for a long weekend and my wife and I had a nice outing of just the two of us, and we all headed to the mountains to go sledding together. That was a strange day because of a sudden bit of sickness. I drove the kiddo in my car, and my wife and her folks rode in the other. The idea was that the kiddo would nap in a quiet car with me. We arrived and I got out of the car only to find my son looking very out of it and with a chest covered in puke. Not great. I wasn’t sure when during the drive he threw up but oh he was looking pretty sad. We decided to walk around for a while and be low key to get a read on the kiddo and he perked up nicely with whatever it was out of his belly. We ended up doing some sledding with him mostly watching (he is greatly amused by ol’ mom and dad sledding) but it was clear he was still a bit off. The next morning that was confirmed when he threw up on me about a half dozen times or so. My wife gave him some medicine which thankfully settled his little belly and the road to recovery began. It was a short stomach bug but it worked its magic because it managed to transfer to my wife, my wife’s mom, and myself. That seems to be an unfortunate ritual we have had the last two visits with my wife’s folks. You get a stomach bug, and YOU get a stomach bug, and YOUUUUU get a stomach bug! And, strangely, my wife and I’s pattern tends to always be first the kiddo, then my wife, then me. And it’s always a slightly different form for each of us.

We ended up having a day where we stayed home with the kiddo … but not for some lame stomach bug nonsense. No, no, no. It was for a BLIZZARD! We had some classic bonkers Colorado weather where we went to the park one afternoon, 50s or maybe low 60s out, and then the next day … blizzard. The bad weather didn’t arrive til about 10 so my wife went out and got us some ‘blizzard provisions’ which included junk food for us grown ups for lunch (while the kiddo napped) and donuts. This included donut holes for the kiddo which was very entertaining. For some reason he thought it was an apple so we kept hearing ‘apple?’ the rest of the day. Yeah kid, we know, you want another.

And speaking of requests … the kiddo’s language has kicked on again. For a while I think he was so focused on walking that the language subsided (the PT helper had suggested that would happen) but it has come on again. It’s especially fun reading to him and seeing what he knows in books. Although, it’s a real crap shoot. You can look at a page and he’ll identify grapes, shoes, a baby, fish, pencils, and a bird. And then you ask again and he points to a baby when you ask where a cat is … But, but, you KNOW what cats are! So, who knows. It’s all a mystery inside that tiny, crazy brain.

Another fun thing, and cause of guilt at the moment, are new swimming lessons! We missed a bunch in his last class because of illness and visitors. When I went to sign him up for the 18 month to 3 year old class (meaning he’d now be the runt) we were put on the wait list. Eventually the teacher called my wife and we got in! Hooray! And my wife said sorry he was sick so much last time, we’ll be there more next time and what do you know, of the 3 classes so far this round we’ve only made one of them. DOH! Hopefully we’ll have a clean attendance record from here on out.

I mentioned above the kiddo and I often have breakfast together. On work days I swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays, come home and shower, then have breakfast with the kiddo. (Although lately he wakes up wanting to eat PRONTO so I’ve missed some.) He is getting better and better with the spoon which is really neat to see. And I don’t have my hand constantly on the bowl (he was inclined to flip the bowl for a while). He doesn’t just use the spoon to get stuff, he seems to seek out cheerios (or whatever) to get on the spoon and scoops much more! The scooping is often combined with him saying ‘scoop’ which is fun, too. That was a big effort of my wife’s to get him to learn scooping, and she would say the word over and over so … now we have this.

And, great news, I finally finished reading the book about raising a 12-24 month old. That’s right. Finished right before he turned 19 months. Impressive, right? Now I’m on to reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block. Hopefully this time I make better progress.

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March 2019 Haiku

March 1 (Friday)
Wife gone for weekend
My mom’s flying in to help
And freeze (temp’s ZERO)

March 2 (Saturday)
Swim lesson today
Big windows show snow falling
While we play in pool

March 3 (Sunday)
Kiddo is WALKING
He BEAMS as he takes some steps
He’s so pleased! (Us, too!)

March 4 (Monday)
My mom brought ‘baby’
Kid walks holding baby doll
Happiness abounds

March 5 (Tuesday)
Kiddo has new cough
The little disease magnet
Please sleep despite cough?!

March 6 (Wednesday)
Babysitter time
Kid and sitter snuggle up
Rest up, lil cougher

March 7 (Thursday)
Wife stays home with son
Low key day with hopes of sleep
Emphasis on hope

March 8 (Friday)
Dear sleep gods … THANK YOU
Kid and I snuggled some, then …
He slept 10 straight hours!

March 9 (Saturday)
New swim class begins …
Class goes up to 3 year olds
(Runt of litter here!)

March 10 (Sunday)
Kid’s vocab grows on
Wish he’d say them in a row
For record keeping

March 11 (Monday)
Meeting to find out
Just how lost/confused are we?
Lead’s way late (not great)

March 12 (Tuesday)
Tomorrow: blizzard
Today: playing at the park
60 degrees out!

March 13 (Wednesday)
‘Blizzard provisions’
Includes donut holes for kid
Surprise: he LOVES them

March 14 (Thursday)
Kid demands: ‘apple!’
Healthy? No. That’s what he called
Donut hole he had

March 15 (Friday)
Grandparents in town
Kid eats up all eyes on him
Playing peek-a-boo

March 16 (Saturday)
Sledding adventure
Kid feels off, sits and watches
Silly mom and dad

March 17 (Sunday)
Grandparents watch kid
While he takes FOUR HOUR NAP
Boring gig for them

March 18 (Monday)
Basement starts today!
Noise, strangers for many weeks
Will be great when done!

March 19 (Tuesday)
Why’s it called Tuesday?
Cause it’s twice the fun of Monday!
…I’ll see myself out

March 20 (Wednesday)
FAST basement progress
In the same time I would have
Hammered in one board

March 21 (Thursday)
Kid sick this weekend
Then, per our pattern, mom’s turn
Now it is my turn

March 22 (Friday)
Stomach says ‘I’m fine!’
No food last night so I EAT
Stomach says, ‘uh … sooo …’

March 23 (Saturday)
Minimal movement
Plus having a toddler means
Wife does all the work

March 24 (Sunday)
A bit better now
Museum with the kiddo
Fun stuff to see/do

March 25 (Monday)
After rough weekend
Monday is no spot of joy
Here we go, long week

March 26 (Tuesday)
Sweet – ran those commands!
Now we get to the hard part
What did I just do?

March 27 (Wednesday)
Post-work walk with son
Key step is: stop, pick up dirt
And just stare at it

March 28 (Thursday)
Kid’s spoon skills are great!
Can eat cereal solo*!
*Sans random bowl flips …

March 29 (Friday)
Kid woke up crying
‘Want to come cuddle with dad?’
Aggressive nod yes

March 30 (Saturday)
Date day with Mrs.
Enjoying nature’s splendor
Then, belly’s splendor

March 31 (Sunday)
Kid, wife at playdate
So it’s mini donuts and
Action flick for me

15th month, or How I Learned to Self-Pep-Talk Like a Pro

It’s a few days past 15 months and I am feeling a little bummed. I had a poor end of my work day. (Turns out I caused a bug in some code – NUTS, that really bothers me; and I recently took some steps to file for a patent and I got responses from committee members who review that and they all stated things like ‘how is this novel?’ And I want to respond saying YOU’RE NOT NOVEL! Your whole family’s not novel! But … they’re right, it’s not.)

Here’s the thing about the kiddo. He can really take your mind off things. For example, I got home and ran a few errands and was distracted with entertaining him. And then, I read to him and put him down to bed (my wife is off getting us dinner so we can eat our feelings). And it’s so nice to just hold his tiny hands and look at his tiny, crazy, adorable face.

Speaking of his crazy face, he is really into perspective shifts these days. That sounds highfalutin and fancy but all this means is he tilts his head to the side and finds this very amusing. He also shakes his head no at a very fast rate, probably mimicking the high of getting dizzy. Like a low-grade dizzy buzz. Recently I have taken to putting things on his head, trying to balance them just so. He’ll set still for a moment, then SMACK it off with a vengeance. I started putting things on my head and he would pull himself up, knock the item off my head, then tilt his head sideways while standing right in front of me. Face about 2 inches from mine, but sideways. This gives him such a big, goofy grin it’s unbearably delightful.

***

Ok now we’re about halfway through month 15 and I clearly should’ve kept writing when I sat down before. I got distracted by dinner on that night and then I never got back to this. And hey, guess what, the patent is now officially dead and there’s talk of us considering our latest release not good (as in advise customers not to use it) so things in my work world are coming up Milhouse. What do we do, gang? We distract!

The kiddo has not just been into nodding his head no aggressively, he is also nodding yes now! This is definitely new this month and a lot of fun. He is so deliberate with his movements when he nods yes it is very fun to see. And my wife and I debated for a while if he knew what he was doing when nodding yes … Because he would seem to nod yes at just about any question asked of him. But it has been quite handy with food (and adorable) because we’ll say, ‘more raspberries?’ … Well, that’s a bad example. The answer there is almost ALWAYS yes. But this morning he actually nodded no pretty quickly into a few raspberries which shocked me. The yes is still slow, and thoughtful, but it is coming along nicely and really helps a ton with communication.

Speaking of communication, the kiddo’s vocabulary is flourishing! My wife and I like to reassure ourselves by saying he is just so focused on language he doesn’t have time for physical stuff (more on that later). We have a very poor attempt at a running list of words that are maybe, possibly, sorta, but probably not, in the order the words arrived and so far that list is …

Dog, dad, mom, ball, bye, book, car, banana, airplane, high five, outside (?), bird, cracker, bowl, uh oh, water (agua)

I have 0% confidence that this list is right. But there it is, in all its incorrect glory. It is also a pretty odd list.

Bird is trying its best but failing to compete with airplane. When we first got him saying bird anything above him temporarily shifted to bird (for maybe a day) but now things are back to airplane. The kid is also, I think, catching on to adoration and he knows we get a kick out of ‘airplane’ so that has probably led to more than a few street lights, fans, and you name it being called out as ‘airplane.’

High five I talked about last month, which was a bit of a shocker and a lot of fun. One funny thing there is that a neighbor kid is a 14 year old boy who would without fail see our son, come up and say hi to us and then to the kiddo, ‘high five?’ This starting when our son was all of about 2 months. We’d explain, ‘he can’t even control his neck so uh … a high five is a tall order.’ And what do you know, now that he can actually high five, the neighbor kid hasn’t been seen in a while (less hanging out in the front yard for all of us now that it’s cold out).

A favorite new language is ‘uh oh.’ This has been accompanied with many, many, many deliberate drops of things. He will grab some food, reach his arm out, drop it, and then look over his chair at the kitchen floor to see where his food has landed. This is admittedly a much more fun game for him when the dog is underfoot, and for her sake and ours we have taken to putting her up. Uh oh has not yet lost its shine for any of us, and I am still willing to squat the day away picking up that just dropped (uh oh) item to retrieve it and do it all over again.

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The zebra walker, our on-again-off-again friend.

Ok ok, last language thing. I mean that’s all we’ve got right? (Foreshadowing!) The kiddo also seems to be doing more of … I don’t know. Maybe an impression of English? It’s like when you know a tiny, tiny bit of Spanish and you think ok sure I’ll just say a bunch of noises that sound sorta Spanish-ish … He does that occasionally? Good luck even trying to understand what I’m going for here, future self.

***

Now I’ll explain my vague statements. We had his fifteenth month doctor visit where we learned a few shocking things. One, he is still tiny when it comes to length. This doesn’t really matter but everything makes you worry. I have this sort of internal tango where I think logically, each kid goes at their own pace and blah blah blah but then I counter it with, but what if I’m doing something wrong or what if something is actually wrong? And you know, when it’s some conjectured hypothetical like that it’s hard to respond rationally. So the internal tango rages on and I suspect I’ll just grow more and more practiced at this dance rather than ever getting to leave the dance floor. PARENTHOOD.

Anywho. He’s tiny. You also fill out these questionnaire’s at these doc visits where they ask strange questions like, ‘can he take a cheerio and pretend it’s more than just a cheerio?’ (Not a real question.) And you think … well I don’t know … I don’t think we’ve ever tried that? After you answer all the questions they look and say, you’re in the white zone, grey zone, or black zone (talk about a racist form) and you want to be white. For language he was good, but for gross and fine motor both he was in the black! Fine totally surprised us because we think he is doing great! But gross was no shock since he’s still not walking. The doc suggested we talk to early intervention about his not walking and we said yes, anything and everything to help.

It was a harsh visit because we both thought the kiddo was bigger and doing so well, and then to have our doc say, ‘doing so well, huh? Hmm’ really threw both my wife and I. You just start questioning if you could or should be doing any number of things differently. Before the appointment I could’ve named any of a number of things where I felt like my son was excelling, after all I saw was what he wasn’t yet doing that others were. It was certainly a day of reminding myself that my son is who he is, he is bathed daily in the intense love my wife and I have for him, and we are doing are very best to create the best life we can for him.

Ok. Enough of that, eh? See, that’s another thing, you get into these little self pep-talks, too. Love, eh? What nonsense it generates.

This month he DID take a renewed interest in his zebra walker which has been good to see. (Oh and P.S. the early intervention people said don’t worry … he’s a premie and we don’t worry about not walking till 18 months anyway so take that, doc.)

(Oh and P.P.S. I actually really like our doc.)

Ok now for a the last few things, I promise.

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Say friend, you look like a savvy shopper!

One of the most fun things the kiddo is into now is hats. He LOVES putting on hats. You hand him a beanie, a ball cap, whatever? He’s going to put it on. And pretty darn well actually (take that, fine motor skills). I have had him put on his winter cap a number of times and just adjust it barely for it to be on right. He also has a sort of fedora type hat that makes him look like an old time salesman when he wears it. I like to talk about the miracle elixir he’s hawking that makes you poop diapers and pee out baby wipes. It’s a good thing we don’t have Alexa because God knows what Amazon would have to take away from its spying on us.

He has also figured out his nose! ‘Where’s your nose?’ is now answered with a point, a smash of the nose, and the phrase, ‘nose, nose, nose’ (said nasally because of him pushing on his nose). We’ve even got ‘where’s dada’s nose?’ and some aggressive nose smashing too. It’s fun (is it?) for everyone.

My wife and I have made a habit of pointing at characters in books when we read to him. That’s the Little Blue Truck! That’s a horse! That’s a cow! You get the drill. Now he will occasionally point too … quite aggressively, and 40% of the time at something that makes sense. That’s the Pout Pout fish, yes right there! Exactly! Wow so smart! (And as you’re saying so smart he begins smashing his tiny little pointer finger into some other random part of the page and you think, well … partial credit?)

I think my son was playing with my wife one day when I got the idea to tickle his back to see if he’d react. Not a proper tickle, but one of those lightly trace your fingers to give you the heebie jeebies. It worked perfectly. He sat up straight, got a goofy look on his face, and shivered. I don’t know if he enjoys it or not, but boy is it ever adorable. (Sorry, dear son.)

Ok last one!

We took the kiddo for his third haircut this month. First haircut all three of us went and he seemed unfazed. Great. Second time it was just he and my wife and he was NOT happy the whole time, so my wife strongly suggested I go. The tears hit pretty quickly into the haircut so out come our pacifier and I reached under his little haircut apron and held his hand. He responded by grabbing onto my pointer finger and holding that for the duration of the haircut. I had to dance around the girl cutting his hair a tiny bit, but it was just about one of my favorite and most adorable things to have happen in my life.

Kid, I’ll hold your hand anytime.

Rambly dad, OUT!

13 Months, Or One … And 1

Once again I have made the big mistake of not writing this down RIGHT on the 13th month day and lo and behold, here I am thinking of the latest and greatest developments which are all 14th month feats.

But that’s not what we’re here for, self. We’re here for month 13.

The month felt like it flew by. I wrote that statement in a note to myself a few weeks ago when I initially sat down to write this and I look back at that note and think, huh … all right. Seems fitting that a note I don’t remember writing about time flying by is a note that was written weeks ago. Enough of me blabbing about that note.

IMG_20180902_121720906The 13th month included Labor Day weekend which was a very adventuresome weekend for my wife and I. We went out on a FIVE MILE HIKE! The kiddo lived in backpack land the whole time, with quite a few stops to check if he wanted water. For the most part, with the cool weather that day, the brisk pace of our hike, and the other hikers as eye diversions … the kiddo was content with the ride along. Shockingly, he didn’t go to sleep at all during the trip – but we did bribe him with a graham cracker or two toward the end to keep him awake. It was a ton of fun for my wife and I to be out and taking advantage of the outdoors here, and the day went just so darn well. Generally it’s hard to have days where everything goes according to plan, but this day deviated from the plan only to have EVEN BETTER outcomes. You can’t ask for more than that.

We did our hour long drive to get to the hike which we planned during his first nap. Fantastic. Went great. Then the hike, which included a stop for all of us to have lunch. And then when we finished we had another snack sitting next to a river. It was pristine and beautiful and foot-numbingly cold water (which felt nice after the hike).

The bonus came when we left. We had planned to leave during nap two and drive home then. But the kiddo sat in the backseat awake and content. With about twenty minutes left in the drive my wife hopped out and sat in the back with him to make sure he didn’t conk out. When we got home we put him down for a nap and ended up with an unexpected lounging time. We had assumed both naps would be occupied by car rides so that was quite the treat to have that bonus free time.

Other fun Labor Day weekend plans included the pool (which he has grown to love) and a delightful picnic lunch outside. The kiddo is not exactly in restaurant-friendly territory these days so with the weather being so beautiful we decided to get ourselves some burritos and head to a park.

All in all, just about as good a weekend as one could hope for. The next weekend balanced it a bit because we again drove a long ways to a hike but this time it was so hot the kiddo was uncomfortable and unhappy and probably cooking in his backpack … so we turned around quickly. A long hike drive for a little jaunt, and then back home. That involved a bit more entertaining of the kiddo on the drive home because that was a good stretch of being cooped up.

My wife’s folks got the kiddo a teepee for his 1st birthday and that has managed to up our chase game. The little chaser would start to crawl, then look back at you and speed up toward the teepee. If you followed him he would make his excited little noises and pop his head up to look out at you from the little window in the teepee. It’s been a nice enhancement to our hide-and-go-seek / crawl-and-chase-me games.

Speaking of upping the ante … the kiddo can say no now! But. Here’s the thing. 1, I’m not sure he knows what he is saying. And 2, he says it to mock us. Great, right? He loves electrical outlets (great) and I’m pretty sure it’s just because he gets so much attention by crawling up to it. But he would crawl up to it, put his hand up on it, stand up, and look around. One time he did this and looked at me expectantly. I knew then how well he had trained me. My wife and I got in the habit of saying ‘no’ or ‘no, no’ or any number of times using the word no over and over. And occasionally he’d look at you with a big pout like, ‘how dare you take a firm voice with me’ but more often he would look at you and said back, ‘nonononono’ … great. Message clearly not received. Was it cute though? You bet it was.

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I decided to make a box an airplane, because why not. And it is the worst bit of DIY you have ever seen … til you look at the ‘pinup girl’ on the side. I told my wife she should draw one so it’d be like an old war plane and … my God. That pinup would make someone want to die at war.

My wife works Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’ve probably said that before, but what … am I supposed to remember everything I say? I say too much to have that kind of expectation thrown at me. Anywho. That means we have a morning ritual that is nice (when sleep allows it to be normal). Part of that morning ritual involves the kiddo and I being downstairs together for a bit while mom gets ready (or while mom catches some downtime on Mondays and Fridays before running the show all day). And we always go outside. The little outdoorsman loves it. LOVES it. He got used to the routine and came to know it, so just walking toward the front door would elicit little squawks of joy. Then, once outside, he got to show off one of his new favorite ways of communicating – the POINT.

The point is an all-encompassing, all-powerful way of telling us … we’re not sure what. You want to walk over there? You want to eat that? You want to look at that from here, you’re just letting me know that there is a thing over there? Generally, if you’re up and at ‘em, walking to whatever he is pointing at makes him happy. But sometimes when he’s eating he’ll point to a hat and you just have to look at him and wonder, what would you tell me if you could speak? Get that hat off the dinner table, dad? Is that it?

But when we are outside, the tree in the front yard is often a favorite target of the point, and the go to activity is trying to rip leaves off it. When it had crab apples on it, he would also relish trying to eat those … but ol mom and pop generally denied him of that fun.

Outside the former GREATEST THING ON EARTH was a neighbor’s dog. Move over dogs, because airplanes have taken over. We live pretty close to an airport and are treating to many planes flying overhead, and they have been the hit of the month. First we’ll hear one, and that results in a quick jerk of the neck to look skyward while we scan the skies until, aha!, there it is! At first in the month a plane would cause a little giggle, a point, and a lot of smiles. As time has gone on it is less exciting, and now it’s just a smile, and an excited point. I think he enjoys the challenge of hearing them and then trying to spot them.

Dear reader, if you want to, you should really treat yourself to an intermission. This post is more than 50% done, but boy is it a long one. And I’d apologize for that, but you’ve probably already stopped reading so it’s fine.

Back at it? Refreshed? Ok. Let’s do this.

My folks came out for a visit during this month as well, which was great to see them. Unfortunately, the kiddo does not see any of his grandparents enough for them to be an instantly recognized presence. There is an inevitable, ‘uhhhh … I don’t know about you, lady’ with the grandmas and the grandpas all tend to take a more hands-off, I’ll be over here approach which the kiddo digs. He would squawk back and forth happily with my dad, then crawl to me if my mom would try to play with him. It’s unfortunate that he is yet to recognize the grandparents as a steady, good presence but it’ll happen over time. And in the meantime, for the next trip, we’ll get the grandparents to feed him which ought to warm him up post-haste.

Two fun things coincided with my parents trip, too.

First is that the kiddo learned how to make a face. This is a weird statement, but it’s true. I think from my wife, though I’m not sure how this started, he would glance down very deliberately, then furrow his brows, tighten his lips, and stare at you! It’s a very adorable mean mugging that you are receiving. It’s especially adorable because he will often do this, and then grin at the end because he’s so pleased. My wife and I generally do this face back to him when he does it. One thing I have found pretty funny about this is when the occasional stranger is treated to this face. Generally it’s reserved for my wife and I, but randomly a stranger will get the treatment which usually gives them a bit of a surprise. Normally he is very smiley and, basically, flirty with strangers. He’ll smile, wave, and then sort of bury himself into my chest if I’m holding him and a stranger says hi. It’s heart-melting. But then there’s that blue moon and some stranger will smile sweetly at him and BAM, you’ve been mean mugged. And then the stranger probably feels worse because I just laugh and laugh while my baby stares, seemingly, with anger at him or her.

It’s pretty fun.

The other fun that happened was the kiddo’s first swim lesson! Woah! I signed us up for a ‘parent and me’ swim class which is thirty minutes once a week. So far we have loved it. Well, he has been ok with. His favorite activity at the pool is watching kids play, but he doesn’t mind being floated around in the water. I can tell you that he does NOT like when you put him on his back and try to float him around. No sir. He also has taken being dumped quite well! My wife was shocked when she did a lesson (meanwhile I was off on a hike) and the instructor said, ‘blow in your baby’s face, and then dunk them.’ But he has since been dunked by both mom and dad and he comes up, a little surprised looking, but still intent on the number one goal at the pool – finding and watching other big kids play. This whole underwater thing is just a brief deviation from the ability to accomplish that goal.

Right at the end of the 13th month a new skill also reared it’s adorable head – shaking his head no! My wife had made a point to emphasize offering foods and saying, ‘yes? Or no?’ while she would shake her head to represent those. Eventually, our little wunderkind got it because he too began shaking his head no! At first it was a very involved, whole upper body shaking of the head that made him look, and I say this with love, as though he was having a seizure of some sort. But he quickly managed to calm things down and now it is truly a head shake. He also mostly gets what it means … but he occasionally delights in looking at you and just shaking his head no over and over. Or saying no to random items. It’s just a fun thing to shake your head no, you know?

Stay tuned for next month, because it’ll include … oh wait. Crap. The 15th month is when Halloween hits. I bought him his costume this month which I’m QUITE excited about, and I really hoped he would be walking because he’d look like a little zombie (as all first-time walkers do) … but alas, he’ll likely have to resign himself to being a crawling Ewok rather than a walking one. But that’s ok, it’ll still be incredibly adorable.

Month 7, Or Oh the Places You’ll Go (Developmentally)

It’s a few days until the kiddo is 7 months old and I thought I’d go ahead and get a start on this post. Hopefully, dare I say it, finish it today too.

This month I had a personal success which was abandoning the idea of reading a book. I had checked it out from the library and it was just eh. But I kept on. I would read a few pages before bed, feel disheartened at how much there was to go, and pass out. But then one day – BOOM – I said NO MORE. I re-read an old comic book series instead. This may seem like a non-accomplishment, but giving up on a book is a challenge for me. Now I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale.

Let’s get into month 7, shall we?

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I have also learned I am much more inclined to spoil the boy than myself. Frivolous spending ahoy!

I have mentioned this before, but the doc advised we keep the kiddo out of day care for a long time. Multiple docs at the NICU suggested a start date of April. And, with flexible work, my wife only working two days a week, and very helpful grandmas, we will accomplish that goal!

Part of that involved me taking vacation days on the two days a week my wife works for three weeks. One of those weeks was during month 6, but two of the weeks (four days of kiddo and dad time) fell during this past month!

One day the kiddo and I headed to the library, a little shop, and then a tortilla shop (they make delicious burritos) so I could load up on food before a long nap drive. The library was fun, the kiddo LOVES the front facing Bjorn (a new delight in life) and he will kick his legs and or give huge smiles when excited. And he is a little charmer and flash a big smile at strangers no problem.*

From the library we head to a few little shops (including buying my wife her Christmas gift – BOO YAH PREPAREDNESS) and the interactions with strangers continue. It is always ladies, or old men. Never men my age or really any male I’ll say between 10 and 75. This was ESPECIALLY true at the tortilla shop where I am surrounded by construction workers. Not one ‘aw look at the cute baby’ instead just stares like I am an alien. I will say that I don’t think I ever noticed another dad and baby. I noticed moms and babies, and moms and dads and babies … but no dude and baby. What’s the deal, fellas? Why so lazy?

That was a lot of chatter. Let’s do some quick highlights.

The sleep stuff continues to be pretty good … He had occasional nights where he would wake up and have a long cry, which is BRUTAL because of our ‘sleep wave’ method where you don’t really do much to comfort the kiddo. But for the most part it has been great.

My mom was in town this past week and my wife and I felt very nervous about the sleep. It’s one thing to feel bad for your crying baby when it’s just you … but to have your mom 10 feet away while your kiddo cries and you stare at a timer? Oof. We ended up ‘cheating’ a few times this past week which actually felt pretty great. My wife rocked him back to sleep and put him down in bed between us. Waking up next to his tiny adorable body was fun. Another night I went in about 5:15 am because he had woken up (and we prefer him to sleep till 6), I rocked him to sleep then just snuggled with his tiny head tilted 6am. And this morning my mom is out of town but he was having a rough go from 430-5 am, so my wife fed him then laid him between us. We all woke up naturally about 715am and he looked back and forth between my wife and I, taking turns reaching his little hands out to squeeze our noses. It was very odd, and delightful.

One thing that has helped and hurt his sleep is that he is now rolling from his back to his tummy. When he rolls onto his tummy and is happy about it, hello glorious sleep. When he rolls onto his tummy and feels regret … one of us slips into his room, rolls him onto his back, and then sneaks out. Generally this leads to a tiny brief cry and then calm. The odd thing is he KNOWS how to roll from tummy to back, but it’s like he suddenly finds himself in that position and says ‘WHAT HAVE I DONE!? WHAT IS THIS PERSONAL HELL!?’

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Semi-pictured and also a new favorite thing: the mirror! We have one on the floor for tummy time social hour.

He also often has a pretty intense workout regime before falling asleep. You go through the routine, put him down (described in last month’s post) and then he rolls around, chews on his hands, chews on his lovie, rolls back and forth a few times, sometimes onto his tummy and then off. It’s a lot of work going on. My wife said he’s like a gymnast making sure he uses the whole floor space.

Another fun and simple pleasure in life is discovering him figure out his thumb. Before he would generally suck on his middle and ring finger (I don’t know why). This month he has figured out, I guess, how to pop his thumb out because boom, that is a new favorite too. His thumb is basically a slightly large tic tac, so you generally hear a lot of slurping when he is using his thumb.

A funny thing that is happening this month (funny to me that is) – he is very easily distracted while breastfeeding. My wife used to be able to call someone or watch TV while feeding the kiddo. Now? If she even coughs while feeding him he’ll look up at her. It could be a blank look, or a sly smile, or outright laughter on a few occasions.

Speaking of laughter – his laughs are more common now. Here are his favorite things … my impression of a chicken, crazy chase games (where I hold him and pretend to chase his mom around, then she chases us back), and one glorious time where my wife dropped a toy of his (a ball) and then kept hitting it instead of grabbing it to pick it up. He laughed at her. Genuine, honest to goodness, I’m laughing at you, not with you. It was glorious.

I recognize that this post is insanely long but you know what? A few more.

I was at a Costco on one of my dad-and-kiddo days. I was wearing the Bjorn and had finished my shopping. (Including two slices of pizza and a soda to go for my lunch-nap-drive.) I headed to the bathroom with my happy shopping pal (he loves Costco … well, he seems to love about every location where he can people watch and/or chill in the front-facing Bjorn). I walked inside and, keeping with my constant chatter when walking around with him I said, “ok little mister, let’s do this.” I also happened to notice at that moment a stall door was closed. It delights me to this day to think a stranger was sitting on a Costco toilet, and that stranger thinks he overhead someone talking to his penis … and that the penis was nicknamed, “little mister.”

Ok a few quick hits: he’s had a bunch of different foods this month! Peas, spinach, green beans, and peanut butter. Not surprisingly, peanut butter was the only hit.

He has also had little slivers of solo sitting. Normally my wife or I sit like we’re doing the old grade school sit-and-reach (which I think I could usually reach about to my knees, I’m not very flexible), and then the kiddo sits so that he can balance on either leg and won’t really fall. He has probably hit up to a minute or two of solo sitting. Look out world!

And last but certainly not least this month were two visitors/babysitters/grandmas. Both my mom and my wife’s mom came out to help us extend the kiddo’s daycare free life to seven months. Pretty fantastic. It’s going to be heartbreaking to drop him off at daycare soon, especially since he has just recently entered a ‘stranger danger’ phase of life (previously anyone could pick him up, now if someone else picks him up he locks eyes on my wife or I). But, it is amazing that he got to spend so much time around family. And my wife and I are very fortunate to have such kind moms, and ones who are able to afford to do us such a big favor.

Ok sports fans. This one was truly a blog post just for me. Til month 8.

*Except today. This was pretty funny to me. My wife, the kiddo and I headed to a downtown area to check out shops, walk around, sip coffee, and just enjoy the day. The kiddo is in the front-facing Bjorn and we are in line at a coffee shop. Two college aged girls walk up and one of them gets relatively close and says, ‘your baby is gorgeous!’ She gives him a big smile and for the first time ever he does not smile in response … he gives her a huge pout and a little semi-cry. She looks aghast, seems genuinely hurt … and I start laughing. I kiss his little cheek till he cracks a smile. The rest of the day out smiles, and smiles, and smiles for any and all strangers. Random ladies stop and ogle and talk to him and he grins and kicks. The mystery of the sad-face girl will live on. I wasn’t laughing at you girl, I was laughing at the situation. (She was wearing overalls, maybe he thought they were his.)

Month Six, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Short Nap

That title is a ruse. I would love it if the kid would take a longer nap. But let’s forego the details for the moment and get a little reflective.

My wife and I were talking about sleep. (remember month 5’s theme? Sleep? Well, that has continued on to month 6.) Our initial strategy with nighttime sleep was to do a modification of put him down awake, pick him up as soon as he cried, comfort him, put him down awake, repeat till he slept. That had started out and we thought ‘ok! We get to hang out after we put him down!’ but it wasn’t really improving. That is, every night it seemed like he really only went to sleep after all his cries were out.

At the recommendation of a friend, we read (the relevant chapters of) the happy sleeper. This book calls for the ‘sleep wave’ which is all about predictability and stability. You have a routine that you follow precisely for naps and nighttime (different routines for the two) and you lay the kiddo down awake. When he or she cries, you go in after five minutes of crying and you say this particular phrase (ours is, “Have a good sleep. I’ll be right outside. I love you.”) then you leave the room without providing physical comfort. The idea is that your child knows you exist, and that by this age (we started this when he was about 5.5 months) they don’t think you have up and ceased to exist when you’re out of sight. The child is left to their own devices for self-soothing. Our son had become a whiz at finding his hand and sucking on it (strangely, his typical fingers are the middle and ring fingers).

The approach worked surprisingly well. But wait, it’s reflective time.

In last month’s blog I mentioned saying that I wanted to baby my son because … he’s a baby. But it struck me, later on, that my mom’s saying over and over that her children will always be her babies could prove true for myself as well. Pain and discomfort are good things – they are really educational. I’m glad I struggled at times in school, I’m glad I had my heart broken, I’m glad I lost at many, many things. And yet, it’s a struggle to knowingly allow my son to feel discomfort or pain. And then I bounce right back, come on, self, he’s just crying a little bit while going to sleep! Anyway, it was a moment of wonder realizing that I will likely forever feel his pain as though it is my own.

My wife and I have a system where, if the kiddo wakes up in the middle of the night and struggles to go back to sleep, one of us tends to him while the other stays in bed. We have a white noise machine in our room for just such an occasion. But occasionally, if the white noise isn’t loud or he has an especially upset cry, you still hear him. And then you lay in bed, not sleeping and not helping anything. It made me think of my mom, wondering if she did this same thing while her children were grown, after, say, one of her kid’s experienced a heartbreak. Somewhere my child is in pain.

Those aren’t particularly deep thoughts – but they were interesting to me. Suddenly I was generation-less, just a person in a line of parents and children, where each person has felt love and heartbreak for others.

/End reflection!

Back to the sleep thing. The first night the kiddo protested, of course, but it took hold and he slept 11 hours with only one wakeup to eat. Holy pleasant night of sleep Batman. That was incredible. Before that he was waking up 1-3 times a night, sometimes to eat, other times just … I don’t know. Because why not?

The next night he slept THROUGH THE NIGHT! MY GOD.

But, that day was rough on the kiddo and dear old mom and dad. Up to that point I would walk him around or dance in the Bjorn to get him to sleep. This meant sometimes two hours of constant dancing and moving in the Bjorn. Trust me when I tell you this is really uncomfortable and tiring. BUT! He was a happy kiddo. Tough to get to sleep, yes, but happy. That day he was a not happy kiddo. He began to recognize the sleep routine and he would start crying, and crying.

Our nap routine is simple – change his diaper, put him in a sleep sack, pick him up and sing to him while you/he holds on to his ‘lovie’ (Harry Elefante) and then you put him down. The last nap of the day I was putting him down and he started crying from go. Oof. It was heartbreaking. Putting him down on the changing pad the face immediately turned to a look of devastation and there was no coming back. When it came time to sing to him peacefully to soothe his little soul before putting him down? Forget it. I was crying and singing (quite a sight). I sang all of about 10 seconds because no words were coming.

The nap, not surprisingly, did not go well. It involved a lot of the going in to check every 5 minutes.

But … here’s the bright spot. For the most part the night sleep turned tremendous. Suddenly we were able to wake up feeling somewhat rested. Hurrah!

***

I’ll be honest … I started writing this about two weeks ago, so now he is about 6.5 months old (so grown up) and already month 6 feels so far away. As is typical of this past half year, it’s hard to remember last week’s woes because this week’s woes are all important. Two of the last three nights he has struggled to fall asleep, and we hadn’t experienced that since we started down this road, pretty much one month ago today. It is disheartening, and a little confusing. But hopefully things will be back on track soon enough.

Also, about the title. That’s a lie. I have not embraced the short nap. It is what he does, and that’s that … But we have done a number of car rides to create a 1 – 1.5 hour nap. A great joy of mine is taking the kiddo out to some shop or area to have strangers ooh and ahh and tell me how cute he is, and then buy some junk food, then cruise and listen to the radio while eating said junk food. Oh yessir.

***

Random thoughts, you say? Sure.

  • Sometimes when I blow my nose in front of my son I feel guilty. Like he is looking at me thinking, ‘oh if only I could do that.’ Imagine sneezing and then just sitting there … not having the ability to blow your nose. Torturous.
  • My wife and I have not been posting pictures on Facebook or any social media for a number of reasons. But, like probably every parent, I feel the world is being deprived of cute baby pictures. The other day a coworker stopped by my cube and said, ‘any new pictures?’ then glanced quickly at the ones I have hung up and said, ‘nope’ and walked away. Smart move, dude, because I was about to bust out my phone and put you through a three hour photo sharing session.

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    The spinny-thing has some sort of bug type creature on it.

  • We have a toy with a little wheel-type device with pictures on it. Sometime in this month he began to realize he could spin this. My wife likes to say he is looking through his rolodex. Spin, spin, stop, stare (we comment, ‘oh Bob, haven’t talked to him in ages, hmmm should I call Bob?’), aggressively spin (‘eh, Bob’s a loser’), slowly rotate, stop, stare (‘oh Jean, wonder how -‘), spin (‘FORGET JEAN!’).

***

Ok, note to self. Do month 7 on THAT day. I swear, last week is already a blur.

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