Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The 5 Stages of Grief (about taking a nap)

Appleseed hates taking naps.

A kid Appleseed's age should sleep something like 14 hours a day.  Even if he miraculously sleeps 8 hours at night, he still needs to get six more hours in during the day.  He's not happy about that.

He doesn't want to sleep.  And, honestly, I don't know that I can blame him.  I know all babies are inquisitive about the world around them, but Appleseed strikes me as even more so.  He's incredibly thoughtful.  Combine that with his new found stranger danger, and we can already start to see his personality coming out.  He's got introverted parents, so I guess that makes sense.

Appleseed's protestations against taking a nap could easily be organized ala the 5 stages of grief.


We call them "meth eyes."  Appleseed's eyes themselves don't really get red, but the area around them does.  It's like his eyeballs are suddenly surrounded by inflamed tissue.  Even his eye brows get red.  It's crazy.  It's also a sure sign that he's tired.

Appleseed likes to talk.  He can't say anything yet, but he likes to try.  And listening to him is fantastic.  He's to the point where he's not just making noises, it actually sounds like he's trying to say something, he just lacks the words.

But at a certain point it becomes these whale-like noises that are a surefire indicator that he's sleepy

Take meth eyes, add in whale noises, then figure out how long it's been since he last slept, and it's not hard to know when Appleseed needs to sleep.  It's obvious to everyone but him.  Actually, it's probably obvious to him, too, he just doesn't care.  He wants to stay up.  Tired?  I'm not tired.  Why would you think that?

I hope he never plays poker.


Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the anger.

I get static in my ears from Appleseed's screaming, it is that loud.  It's also freaky as hell because I honestly think I'm hurting him somehow.  Maybe I messed up the swaddle, even though none of him is really swaddled anymore these days.  Am I holding him too tight?  Does he need to burp?  He must
be in real pain!

No, he's just pissed off.  And he knows when we're going to try to get him to sleep.  He knows as soon as we carry him anywhere near the nursery.  And he starts the boil.


Okay, how about if I stop crying and just lie here in your arms for a while, will that make you happy?  Is that good enough?  I'll be quiet and wide awake and that should be enough, right?


This is when the bizarre noises kick in.  He sounds like a drunk bird or a raccoon that's taken one too many sleeping pills.  He'll often make these noises with his eyes closed, too, just to set me up.

The main problem is that the noises are hilarious, so I inevitably start laughing, which, of course, startles him and we're back to square one.

This is the stage when I know I'm actually making some progress.  His Anger and Bargaining stages are unpredictable in length, but the Depression stage usually means the home stretch is in sight.


Okay, daddy, I'll take a nap...for 25 minutes, even though it just took you 50 minutes to get me to fall sleep.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mr. Mom

As you are reading this, I'm probably freaking out.

This is set to be published the morning of 7/9, which just so happens to be the day that Nicole goes back to work, and my first day as Mr. Mom.

I will fully admit that this scares the heck out of me. 

I've spoken at length about Nicole's anatomical advantage when it comes to appeasing Appleseed.  But beyond that obvious trump card, there's the simple fact that Nicole has spent months staying at home, taking care of him.  She knows this whole thing inside and out.  And while it's not like I haven't spent a lot of time taking care of our son, I've yet to spend a full day doing it alone.

The timing is just about perfect, and by perfect I mean really, really bad.  Appleseed has decided to be really fussy about taking a bottle.  I fought for half an hour to feed him just two ounces yesterday.  Eventually, I had to walk him around for a while just to get him to settle down.  I tried to feed him again and he started getting fussy again, so I decided to turn on the Indians game.

Yes, I know, TV is bad for babies.  But a) baseball isn't full of quick edits, which are supposedly the worst and b) I just needed him to chill out, and then the plan was to turn it off and try feeding him again.

While he was watching the Indians lose, I decided to try giving him the bottle again.  He took it.  He didn't even register me giving it to him, he just took it.  Drank the rest of it.  I got more.  He drank that, all the while watching baseball.

Clearly, that's not a pattern that can hold.  But I guess it's nice to have that as a fallback, given my anatomical inadequacies.

Appleseed is also not a fan of sleeping these days.  I think I once suggested that the amount of time
spent trying to get him to sleep is roughly double the amount of time he actually sleeps.  It seems like lately that ratio pushes towards 3:1.  Granted, it's the same for Nicole as it is for me, so I'm not any more of a disadvantage than she is.  But I am going to have to perform this song and dance more in a single day than I've ever done before.  I'm going to blow through my back of tricks before it's noon.

But I think I'll be okay with all of that.  I'm sure I'll need to step away and take a deep breath every now and again, but what could be more worthwhile than taking care of Appleseed?  Nothing.  It's the most important thing I'll ever do.

The hard part, I think, will be when I'm trying to get other things done.  The hard part will be when I'm trying to do dishes and he wakes up after ten minutes.  It's going to be hard when I want to make some reasonably healthy food and he starts crying.  I don't want to see my diet go to hell because I'm just eating whatever I can, whenever I can.

I realize that I'm going in naive, but despite everything I've typed above, I can't help but think about how great it's going to be to spend so much time with my son.  I know it will be taxing, but I'm trading a day at the office for a day with Appleseed.  I'm getting a day of him making crazy noises, him smiling and giggling, him trying to eat his own feet.  I'm trading the relative peace and quiet of work for the insanity of being a stay at home dad.  There are no tedious, mind numbing two hour meetings.  There will be frustrating, chaotic hour long feedings.

In the end, I'll smile at Appleseed and he'll smile back.  He might even giggle.

And I'll make it through the day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Free Music Monday: The Shins!

It's that time of the week, people!  Time for some free music!

This week it's the digital download for "Oh, Inverted World" by The Shins!  There's a little song called "New Slang" that a few of you might have heard.

It also happens to be filled with a ton of other great songs.  And it could be yours!  For free!

All you have to do is like my Facebook page and send me a message saying you want this album.  I only have one of these codes, so it's first come, first serve.

And, hey, even if you won the free music download last week, you can win it again this week.  I'm all for someone putting the work in to get all these great records for free.

So like, send, download, and enjoy a fantastic album.  And come back next week for another free download!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baby Slang

This picture choice will make sense in a minute
I have used the word "shart" more in the last four months than in the rest of my life combined.

For the uninitiated, the Urban Dictionary describes "shart" like this:

a small, unintended defecation that occurs when one relaxes the anal sphincter to fart

Yes, I know, it's charming, but it's also what Appleseed does on a fairly regular basis.  I'm not sure if he's ever pooped without sharting.  I think the two go hand and hand for him.  Oh, and I suppose I've also used the word "poop" and all of its variations a lot more recently.

This is the lexicon of having a baby.  Not only do you use words you've never used before, you start to make up terms for things.

Like volcano.

Appleseed isn't always done emptying his bowels after he sharts.  Sometimes he likes to wait and release the rest of it while we're changing his diaper.  Not unlike a lava, more poop flows out.  In the beginning, it ended up on the changing table, but we're careful enough now to always have a diaper underneath him.  So, yeah: volcano.

But one time there was a little extra behind the lava, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Having a boy means periodically we will exclaim "fire in the hole!"  I attached this particular phrase for the times when Appleseed has an "airborne accident," as the baby app we use calls it.  Why "fire in the hole" when a) it's the opposite of fire and b) it's coming out of a hole, not in a hole, I don't know.  I just said it one day and it stuck.

One day, when Appleseed was probably only nine or ten weeks old, he sharted.  I carried him to the nursery, put him on the changing table, and took off his diaper.

"Fire in the hole!"

He peed everywhere.  It got on the carpet, that's how much he peed.

I removed his poopy diaper and began cleaning everything up.  And then he volcanoed.  I'd yet to put a new
diaper beneath him, so it ran down onto the changing table.

I picked him up by the ankles so I could wipe his butt and lower back clean.

He volcanoed again.  But this time, he had something extra behind it.  This was a shart, a shart that occurred as I was lifting his butt into the air.

And that is how we ended up with baby poop on the walls in the nursery.

I lost it.  I laughed so hard that I nearly fell down on to the pee soaked carpet.  I was practically in tears I was laughing so hard.

The changing table is actually the site of a great many slang occurrences.  On a fairly regular basis, Appleseed will flex all of his muscles, turning himself into a human board.  I think it was Nicole's brother who referred to him as a plank when he did this.  So, naturally, what he does is now referred to as "planking."

His planking has taken on a new element over the last week or so as he's started trying to roll over.  He does this by thrusting his hips forward and to the side.  We call it "Elvising."

This is just the tip of the iceberg, really.  Baby slang is great because it's specific to the family, even if it's dealing with universal occurrences.  I'm sure everyone has a term for when their kid continues to poop while he or she is on the changing table.  

I'm envisioning references to oil fields.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Free Music Monday: The National!

I'm giving away some free music!  Every Monday for the next few months, I'll be giving away codes for digital copies of albums.  Don't worry, it's all on the up and up -- no illegal downloading or sharing going on here.

Basically, I've been building up my vinyl collection and pretty much everything I've bought is something I already own in digital form.  But these records all come with codes for digital copies.  So I'm going to pass these codes on to you!

First up: "Boxer" by The National!

Here's the Metacritic page where you can read about how awesome this record is.  It's one of my favorite albums to listen to while I write.

How can you get this gem from me, for free?  Easy!  All you need to do is go like my Facebook page, then send me a message saying you want the free album!  I only have one code, so it's first come, first serve.

That's it!  You are mere moments away from owning a modern classic.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Days, Weeks, Months

On Wednesday, Appleseed turns 3 months old.

Up until now, we've mostly referred to his age by weeks.  I can remember being a kid and asking my mom at what point people stop referring to babies' ages by months.  I guess I'd just met a baby or something and the kid's mom said the kid was 19 months old or something.  My mom told me that most parents stop using months as the unit of measurement when the kid turns 2 years old.  That made some sense to me.  One year isn't a long enough time to diminish the impact of a month; even after 12 months, a 30 day period is still substantial.  But after 24 months?  Well, months are old hat by that point.

And that brings us to Appleseed's 3 month birthday.  He's already passed 12 weeks.  Accumulating a third month makes accumulating more weeks seem small.  Why count pennies when he has dollars?  And so, after Wednesday, he will be 3 months old.  When people ask, that will be the answer, no doubt broken out to 3 and a half and then four.

It all seems so very significant to me.  At the very least, 3 months is a developmental milestone.  But it's more than that.  Moving from weeks to months is the first real change in how time is measured for Appleseed.  Sure, there was a point where he was days old, but that was a whirlwind and didn't last long.  He's mostly been referred to as "x weeks old" -- his whole life, he's been talked about that way.  And now that's going to change.

It's also impossible for me to comprehend that our son was born 3 months ago.  Surely it was more like 3 years ago and also just yesterday.  Three months is obviously too long and not long enough.

Nicole has already started looking at pictures from months ago.  She's already lamenting how big Appleseed
has gotten.  It seems like every other mother we know says something about wishing babies could always stay at this age, which makes me think that these mothers have completely forgotten what it was like taking care of a baby this age.

I've become infinitely aware of time.  You don't appreciate the idea of living each moment to the fullest because it's the only time you will experience that, specific moment.  Then you have a kid and you realize he'll only be x weeks old one time in his entire life.  This is the only time he will ever turn 3 months old.  This is a unique moment.

And it's one which Appleseed couldn't care less about.  None of this means anything to him.  Eating means something to him.  Sleeping means something to him.  These days, his parents' faces mean something to him.  He doesn't care about time.

But time is moving.  I'm excited for Appleseed to get older, just as I think Nicole is worried.  I can't wait for him to become more interactive, to see his curiosity for the world grow.  I look forward to being able to offer him more than just affection, because he's maxing out on that on a daily basis.  This kid couldn't possibly be loved any more than he is.  I'd like to be able to offer him something else, too.

Happy 3 month birthday, Appleseed.  I have a feeling 6, 9, and 12 months will freak me out even more.

Monday, April 28, 2014

8 Things I Learned After 8 Weeks as a Parent

Yep, I'm doing it.  I'm using a classic link bait title.  People love numbered lists.  Who am I to deny the people what they want?

Technically speaking, you are reading this on Appleseed's 2 month birthday, so I've actually been a parent for a little longer than 8 weeks.  But a list of 2 wouldn't have been as entertaining.

8. I enjoy sleeping.  Heading into fatherhood, I was prepared to get very little sleep.  I have a long history of being sleep deprived and getting on just fine.  But a few years ago, I got help for my sleeping problems, and since then I've managed to get a relatively solid 7 hours a night.  Still, I figured going back was no problem.  I had this sleep deprivation thing down.  Just one problem: I like sleeping.  I had no idea how much I'd gotten used to it, gotten to enjoy it, until it was taken away from me again.

7. Showers are amazing.  I never appreciated them the way I should have.

6. One handed.  It used to freak me out when I saw someone carry a baby with one hand.  It was insanity.  How could anyone hold something so fragile, so precious with just one hand?  I would have extra arms attached to my body so I had more hands to hold my baby!  And yet, on a daily basis, I now hold my son with one hand.  I don't even think about it.  Most of the time, I do it because I need a hand free to do any number of other things.  Some of the times it's just nice to have the other hand free.

5. I am a dancing monkey.
By Tina Burke

4. The golden hour(s).  Nicole and Appleseed usually go to bed between nine and ten.  After that, I'm on my own, and it's glorious.  It's not that I don't love being with my wife and son, but it's nice to have some time alone.  I don't even mind that I spend most of it cleaning up the house, since it's just nice to be able to go about my business without any distractions.  I've finally started using some of this time to edit my writing.  Someday I'll get to the point of actually writing, too.

3. My wife is unbelievable.  I mean, I knew that before, but she's taken it to another level.  The physical demands of being a mother are insane.  Add in recovering from child birth and crazy hormones and you have perhaps the most trying period in any one's life.  She doesn't think so, but she's been astounding.

2. It gets easier.  It's hard to even wrap my brain around how hard the first few weeks were.  Everyone tells you that it's hell, but, like with all things children, it's impossible to explain it to anyone.  You can't understand it unless you go through it.  But each week gets better, even if each week also feels like it's the worst.

1. I feel like I'm going to burst.  Not to be too melodramatic, but I have never felt this way before.  It's unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I love Appleseed so much and in such a unique way that it was almost too much for me.  I think I've just now been able to really function.

Let's face facts: this list should be longer.  It would take days for me to cover every little thing I've learned since Appleseed was born.  The truly crazy thing is that I've only scratched the surface of what I'll learn being a parent.