September 27, 2005

Best Feeling Ever

Every morning I tiptoe into the babies room around 6:30 a.m. to see who might be awake first to give them their morning feeding. Lately TheMonk has been awake and Swee’Pea (who is more and more like her mother every day) continues to sleep away.

I pull TheMonk out and go about changing and feeding him. These moments of one-on-one time are few and far between and I enjoy them immensely. We’ll talk and coo and laugh and gaze at each other while TheMonk eats. Since he’s been sleeping longer periods he’s no longer grumpy in the morning. Instead he’s full of energy and smiles. Once he’s done I still have another baby to feed so I put him back in his crib and let him sleep a bit longer.

I then go over to Swee’Pea’s crib. Sometimes she is stirring at this point but many times she’s not. To gently wake her I put my hand on her tiny chest and whisper, “Briaaaannnna, your Daddy is here. Good morning little girl. It’s time to wake up.” She hears the sound of my voice and while she refuses to open her eyes, she breaks out into a great big smile (Okay, so maybe she’s not so much like her mother after all). This smile melts my heart.

I scoop her up and take her into the next room to change her. While I’m changing her diaper she has still yet to open her eyes. I continue to speak to her. “Good morning, Sweetie! Are you ready for breakfast my little one?” About this time she opens her eyes. She blinks a few times and then focuses on my face. Our eyes lock and we gaze in each other eyes – me with a small bemused smile that makes my eyes twinkle and her with a sense of wonder. I smile wider and her wonder grows to something that can’t be described any other way than a pure expression of love. It is then that she breaks out into the largest, brightest smile a Daddy could ever hope for. The room absolutely glows from the radiance of this special smile that’s just for me. We spend a moment smiling and talking but it’s breakfast time so I gather her up to get ready to feed her.

She laughs as I scoop her up and I rain kisses on her chubby cheeks. She rests her head on my shoulder as I take her into our loft area where breakfast occurs. On our way out she often finds one of my fingers and wraps her tiny fingers around mine. I settle her into my lap and give her the bottle. No one else is up at this time and the early morning silence of the room combined with the loving gaze we give each other while she eats makes me feel closer to her than at any other time.

It’s just Swee’Pea and her Daddy and no one else.

What more could a guy ask for?

September 25, 2005

Ready for Some Football?

As I got TheMonk situated on the couch this morning, I explained to him what the day was going to be like.

“Today we’re going to watch football, Monk.” I said as I absent mindedly waved his pacifier around in the air as I spoke. “We’re gonna be MEN! We’re not gonna bathe and we’re gonna eat all day long.” (Well, he gets to eat all day long every day, but I look forward to it)

As I spoke, I continued to jab the pacifier in the air for emphasis. “Today, we’re gonna root for Terrell Owens and Cadillac Williams in the morning and Drew Brees and LaDanian Tomlinson in the evening, okay? And remember, we’re gonna sit around and eat and drink. Why? Because we’re men!”

At that, TheMonk cannot take it any longer. The pacifier has been dangling in front of him for too long. In my excitement to share this male bonding with my 3 month old son I hadn’t noticed that he was growing disturbed. Suddenly, he begins to cry. I look at the pacifier in my hand.

“Oh, here you go.” as I pop it into his mouth.

TheMonk calms down and begins sucking furiously.

“Okay,” I say, “We can be men with a binky.”

September 23, 2005

What’s in a name?

I’m beginning to feel a little left out. Many of my much admired fellow bloggers have endearing, clever nicknames for their offspring and significant others.

I mean, MetroDad has the Peanut and is married to the BossLady, Defective Yeti has Squirrely and is married to The Queen, Morphing into Mama has Tod-lar and In-Fant and is married to Husband (she hasn’t taken my suggestion of calling him The Partner), Mr. Big Dubya has (of course) Little Dubya and is married to Mrs. Big Dubya. Not-For-Profit-Dad has Boy Twin and Girl Twin and is married to the Minister of Wifely Affairs (MOWA – Best wife nickname out there, in my humble opinion) and Sarah has her Goon Squad.

I have no creativity in this department. Any ideas, folks? Come on you lurkers out there, help me out!

Gray, The New Black

Somehow it happened. One day I was considered one of the “younger” ones at work and the next, I’m definitely one of the “older” ones. How did this happen? I look around the table at staff meetings and I feel older.

I shouldn’t complain, though, because I also have noticed that there’s a certain amount of respect given to someone who looks like he or she has some experience. So, maybe I should look at it that way. I’m not old – just experienced.

But age has been popping up more and more lately and, for someone in his mid-thirties, I never gave it much thought before now. But I am getting older. There’s no denying that. My hair (that which is not migrating North) is getting more gray and less black every day. My waist line isn’t what it used to be and I find myself saying things like “You were born in 1985? I remember 1985!”

Hopefully I can stay young enough to interact with the kids. That’s all I want. I used to have some delusion that I could keep my sprinting skills (Go CU!) sharp enough to challenge the kids well into their teen years. I’m not so sure that’s a realistic goal now. They’ll just have to listen to stories about how fast their “Old Man” was “back in the day.” (And I’ll try not to get faster as time goes by, but I can’t guarantee anything)

I guess that’s what I get for waiting so late to have kids. The good part is I got two kids at once so there won’t be a younger one who only sees Daddy in a walker.

Hobble on, friends.

September 21, 2005


I’m really tempted to put up a one-day-ad on Dooce.

$12.23 for one day. A bargain.

There’s only one problem. My kids aren’t for sale. (That and Andrea would give me a well-deserved smack upside the head)

The amazing thing is that the ad info says Ms. Heather B. Armstrong gets 27,000 unique visitors a day and 77,000 page views a day.

If I ever do want to sell the kids, I’m definitely going to advertise on Dooce.

September 20, 2005

Bare Testimony

I am ashamed to be writing this. I’m ashamed because I always pictured myself as one of those innovative parents that would do things differently. I wouldn’t buy my children tons of toys that served no purpose but to line the pockets of some movie executive. I wouldn’t load my kid with sugarary cereal no matter how magically delicious it was. And I wouldn’t let television become a crutch in our lives.

But, I can’t deny it. It has happened. I am embarrassed to admit this but I simply can’t hide any longer. I bare my soul to you my blogging community as I ask for your support in dealing with my 3 month old baby girl’s very serious, very real addiction to television.

I know, I know you are gasping as you read this and I don’t blame you. I’m sure you are condemnimg me with all sorts of vile insults and rushing to remove me from your blogroll or your bookmarks. I don’t blame you. I don’t even have an excuse because there is no excuse for poor parenting.

All I can say is it started innocently enough. We would place Swee’Pea in her Boppy pillow and she would crane her neck to look at the television. “How cute!” we’d exclaimed. (Oh, we just didn’t know any better!) We might as well have been saying, “Look how cute she is chasing that dragon!” And now, I know I was enabling my daughter’s addiction without even realizing it. I’d encourage her excitement every time she would turn to watch the football game with me. My wife commented that she seemed particularly interested whenever Oprah came on. We would joke with her every time she turned to look at the turned-off television, “Oh, are you looking for Oprah, Sweetie?” But no addiction, even an addiction to Oprah, is a laughing matter. I just didn’t think there was a problem.

But now? Now, things are most certainly a problem. She is always aware of where the television is. If we’re feeding her and she is turned away from that wicked black box, her eyes will strain to catch even the faintest glimpse of her crack equivalent. Why even yesterday she was being especially cranky. My wife picked her up to comfort her and she calmed down. I was about to comment on my wife’s magic touch when we noticed that Swee’Pea now had a very clear view to the television from her new vantage point. The manipulation of those closest to her had begun.

And finally, there was last night. Last night Swee’Pea cried for long periods of time. Those of you who are frequent visitors know that she isn’t a crier. At first, I thought she was gassy or perhaps suffering from a cold. It was only later we realized that she was particularly cranky because she was missing the season premiere of Oprah.

Yes, it’s a sad, sad day in our household. But they say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Since Swee’Pea can’t talk yet, we might have a ways to go in that department. But as soon as she starts talking we’ll work on all 12 steps.

I’m not sure where she gets this addiction from. Many addictive behaviors are inherited. Andrea is adopted so I’m assuming it’s from her side of the family.

What’s that? Ooh, Katie Couric is on. I gotta go.

September 19, 2005

Tough Interview

I love children’s books. There’s something about the possibility of imagination as you hold a hardback children’s book for the first time. Of course, the illustrations are just as important as the story and I love to spend time examining each page of a “Goodnight Moon” or a “Where the Wild Things Are.” These books bring back great memories of childhood and I currently have a print hanging in my office of The Wild Rumpus in the aforementioned Where the Wild Things Are. It reminds me that while my job can be wild, it can also be an adventure.

As for my job, I work at a Y. I am in charge of branch operations. It has been some time since I have worked directly with children and none of the people who work for me have seen me in this capacity. I am, to them, an administrator. Lately I have been sitting in on interviews for childcare positions we have open. I helped design the questions we ask and I thought it was important to gauge how these applicants relate to children. A couple sample questions…

  • How well do you relate to children?
  • Can you be silly?
  • What’s your favorite children’s book? Why?
  • Often they will have just told us that they relate well to children and yes, they can be silly. When they get to the children’s book question is when I start being persisitent. Many times the favorite book mentioned is “Green Eggs and Ham” or “Where the Wild Things Are.” I then will ask them to tell me their favorite part. I’ll ask them to recite part of Green Eggs and Ham to me. I’ll even help them out by saying things like, “I would not eat them on a boat, I would not eat them with a goat.” or “I would not eat them here nor there, I would not eat them anywhere!” Even then, the applicant does not want to look silly and will laugh uneasily and look at the other interviewers in the room (we always do panel interviews) to see if I’m serious. Finally, the good ones will go “What the heck” and jump in and recite the book.

    My staff, through these interviews, are beginning to see a different side of me. I hope that I’m showing how important it is that we find the right people to work with these kids. I tell the applicants they have the most important job in the world – they are developing today’s youth. And I want staff who really want to take on that responsibility. My feeling is we can teach someone how to discipline a naughty child or how to develop 6 to 8 year old curriculum, but you can’t teach the ability to be silly and the ability to connect with kids on their level.

    So, when I ask an applicant to sing me their favorite nursery rhyme or camp song or childhood rhyme, it’s the most serious interview question they’ll ever get.

    Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

    September 17, 2005

    Movie Talk

    The baby industry is a billion dollar industry. Therefore, it only makes sense that Hollywood wants to get into the action. Because Hollywood has a hard time coming up with original ideas, they have taken some popular movies and twisted them to meet the baby market. I have a very reliable source who is a Hollywood Insider that shared with me some ideas that Hollywood is working on for the near future. The movies titles are in bold followed by a short synopsis. Since I am always concerned about the welfare of my readers, I hope this will help you when it comes time to deciding what movies you will spend your limited resources on.

    Movie Title: What Babies Want
    A know-it-all daddy gets electrocuted when the baby monitor falls into the bathtub. He suddenly hears what Babies want. Contrary to popular opinion babies just don’t think about food and wet diapers. Hilarity ensues when it turns out that babies really do poop at the most incovenience times on purpose and like peeing dogs, they spit up on areas to mark their territory.

    Movie Title: Million Dollar Baby
    A baby enters the life of an aging boxing trainer. Not having any perky female friends to throw him a baby shower, he soon finds that the million dollars he had put aside for retirement will now have to be spent on formula, bottle warmers, and baby gyms.

    Movie Title: 50 First Diapers
    A new Daddy with no short term memory happily changes each diaper of his baby to the delight of his wife. Every time he opens up the diaper he is disgusted, mortified and amazed at the amount of poop a being that small can create.

    Movie Title: 30 going on 13
    A new father quickly regresses to the maturation of a 13 year old where fart jokes and the word “poop” never cease to create a snicker or two from the father.

    Movie Title: Catch Me If You Can
    Parents of twins discover the horror of their twins learning to walk at the same time. Things are further complicated when the twins figure out it’s a lot more fun when they run in different directions.

    Movie Title: How to Lose your Sanity in 10 Days
    A new father naively accepts a bet that he will remain sane while caring for newborn twins. The movie ends on the 8th day when the father is shown huddled in the corner, rolled up in the fetal position and muttering to himself “they just won’t stop crying, they just won’t stop crying, they just won’t stop…”

    Movie Title: My Big Fat Geek Daddy
    A daddy blogger finds himself ballooning far beyond the acceptable “sympathy weight” that was gained during his wife’s pregnancy. Daddy is calmed by his blogging buddies who insist he isn’t alone. The movie ends with the Daddy finally losing the weight and, of course, blogging witty entries along the way.

    Movie Title: Close Encounters of the Worst Kind
    A daddy is convinced he has an alien baby after witnessing the out-of-this-world toxic waste that is eminating from his baby’s butt.

    Movie Title: E.B.: The Extra Baby
    A couple who were only expecting one baby must suddenly cope with the demands of an extra baby. The movie takes place entirely in one setting (The house) because the couple cannot afford to go anywhere else.

    September 16, 2005

    3 month abs

    Recently daddy fitness has been a topic of discussion. Metrodad told us about his fights with Hector, and my wife (who exercised throughout her pregnancy and has been exercising again for the past 6 weeks) has been hinting about how it might be time for me to start exercising again (something about a good example for our children, yada, yada, yada. But she’s right, so what can I say?). So, I dug out the running shoes two days ago and got on our very nice torture device treadmill.

    I’m still sore.

    The ultimate indignity occurred this morning, however. While changing TheMonk’s diaper he started doing straight-legged leg lifts (while smiling – as if to say, look how it’s done old man). I glanced down at his tummy to see total definition in his abdominal area.

    My 3 month old has better abs than I do.


    If you need me, I’ll be in the garage on the torture device treadmill.

    September 15, 2005

    My Parenting Secret? My wife.

    Since I have started to tell people that the twins are sleeping through the night, it has become apparent that this is an unusual thing. Apparently many people’s babies do not sleep through the night at 3 months of age. So, people have been asking me how we did it.

    What’s our secret? First, I would never call myself an expert in anything but the art of the afternoon nap on a football Sunday. And, if truth be told, if I had been the only parent dealing with this issue, it’s very doubtful that both babies would be sleeping through the night right now. It was only after reaching a very high frustration level with Jonathan that Andrea did some research and we tried implementing a few things. So, for those of you dying to know how we managed to get two babies to sleep through the night, here it goes…

    1) Luck. Swee’Pea is just one of those babies. She has been so easy to take care of it’s not even fair. She is the type that if she were my only child and I were in a parent group and started in on how Swee’Pea hardly ever cried, smiled all the time and slept through the night, parents would be either thinking “yeah, right” or “Bastard.” Well, it’s true. She really is that easy. Swee’Pea just one day missed a late night feeding. We decided to let her sleep. Then she missed the middle of the night feeding and we decided to let her sleep. Before we knew it, she was sleeping through the night. It should be noted that I was freaking out that we were starving her. I wanted to wake her up (after all, she is the smaller of the two) to feed her. Finally, Andrea and I agreed that if she was hungry, she’d tell us. So we let her sleep.

    2) Swee’Pea gave us confidence that it could be done. Swee’Pea started sleeping through the night at about 11 weeks and I soon started having serious conversations with TheMonk about him possibly following his sister’s lead. He was still waking up at 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. for his feedings. Somewhere along the way, Andrea did some research that said, “Yes, babies can sleep through the night at this age.” The research also told us that we needed to feed them between 28 and 32 ounces of milk/formula a day (calming my “we’re starving them” fears). So, if Jonathan was getting his allotted amount during the day, there was no reason to think we couldn’t wean him off the night feedings.

    3) Cluster feedings. We had been feeding them every three hours when they were getting their night time feedings. Since they would be missing a couple of feedings at night, we started feeding them every two hours or so during the day – especially as we neared bed time. The last feeding we gave them each five ounces which is currently the most they get at any one time. Swee’Pea had no problem with this change. And even Jonathan started sleeping through the 11:00 p.m. feeding.

    4) Eliminate bad habits. Now, TheMonk was my Everest. I had to conquer this 3:00 a.m. waking. I had fallen into some bad habits when dealing with my crying screaming infant at 3:00 a.m. First, I would feed him. This seemed to appease him. Second, I would lie him face down on my belly and we’d fall asleep on the couch together. The problem was TheMonk was getting used to eating and falling asleep on Daddy. So, over a period of 3 very difficult nights, I would pick him up, comfort him and then put him back down to bed. I did this over and over again (one night it took me over 45 minutes) until he went back to sleep. In desperation, I also found that this was one of the few times he’d take the pacifier and it seemed to help.

    5) Identify other reasons. While now he was going back to sleep easier, he was still waking up nightly which didn’t help me out in the sleep department since I still had to put him back down. During this time I had noticed that he sounded very congested when he woke up at 3:00 a.m. We get a very dense fog that rolls in early morning and it appears his little nose was not handling the change in humidity well. A friend of mine told me about Vicks Baby Rub and that it helped her infant sleep. So, off I went to the drug store. Once I was there I figured if this Rub was good, more menthol should be better. I bought a menthol plug-in that permeates the room with menthol. I also bought saline drops and medicated nose drops for baby. The first night we used the plug-in and the rub on TheMonk’s chest. When I walked in the next morning, it made my eyes water. So we got rid of the plug-in. But the Baby Rub worked! So, every night we rub a little dab on TheMonk’s chest and put him to bed. He breathes well enough to sleep through the night.

    And that is how we did it. The only idea in this whole thing that wasn’t Andrea’s was the Baby Rub. She worked 8 strong innings to get the win. I just came on in the ninth inning to close out the game.

    EDITORS NOTE: I forgot the first step! The bed-time ritual. Every night we change them into pj’s, feed them at about the same time and then we turn down the lights while listening to soft lullabies. Very soothing sleep environment!

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