Thursday, May 30, 2013

Product Review - My Son – 2013 Edition

For this product review, we’ll take a look at my brand new baby boy.  Without prior baby experience, I readied myself for being a dad by reading the books and listening to advice from others with children. While the advice was helpful, I found that some things I had to learn on my own, as nothing can fully prepare one for parenthood.  But I'm happy to report that after four and a half months of daily (and nightly) use, our son is getting stronger by the minute and shows no signs of wear, which is good because I have yet to find an instruction manual or any sort of warranty. 

We received our 2013 edition human a week early.  Pick up was a mess.  Labor intensive and hands on to say the least. He arrived in a whir of chaos and fluids with a boisterous wail that left both mother and father gasping for air.  But after the traumatic start, things have settled down and are normal...the new normal anyway.

The decision to have a baby is not one to be taken lightly.  Sleep, money, spare time, and at times, sanity will have to be managed in effort to survive.  And there are no returns; posting on Craigslist is frowned upon. Anyway, here are some pros and cons I have found at this stage of fatherhood.

The Pros:

  • He’s exceeded customer expectations up to this point.  We couldn’t be more pleased in terms of product reliability and satisfaction.
  • Assembly was a breeze - for me.  My wife however, had quite the time. Nearly ten months from start to finish.  Sometimes I thought the day would never come.  But my wife is a perfectionist and she did a bang up job with him.
  • Healthy and happy.  He’s adapted to the transition of life on the outside with little or no complications, which is good because when we brought him home, I had no idea what to feed him.  Luckily my wife took the reigns and it all worked out.
  • His laughter has healing effects.  Arriving home from work, I can feel the day’s problems melting away at the sound of his squealing and laughing.

The Cons
  • Can become fussy.  When he becomes tired he becomes fussy.  Hungry?  Fussy.  Gassy?  Smelly and fussy... 
  • Messy.  Opening those diapers, I often find myself mumbling No whammies, No whammies, No whammies…Mine also drools a lot.
  • He still cannot walk.  My dog was walking within days of being born.  My child?  Not even a crawl.
  • $$$$$ Very expensive –Perhaps even more so than previous models. 

Overall, our 2013 edition human is an excellent product and well worth the investment for those willing to put in the work.  Cost can be staggering, but the rewards are plentiful.  He's a life-changer, and I look forward to everyday spent with him.  In closing I would say that the greatest thing about my brand new son is his smile, there’s nothing in this world that can compare.  Two thumbs up from this reviewer.


baby simon
I highly recommend this product...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I've been walking around the house like a star for the past few days, referring to myself as "The Talent" after Justin over at Writing Pad Dad gave my blog a little shine with a feature on his site yesterday.  But don't worry too much about my ego, it's nothing a few diaper changes can't correct...

Check it out here.

Thanks Justin! 

Writing Pad Dad

Monday, May 27, 2013

Strawberry Picking...

baby in stroller
We went strawberry picking on Saturday, a first for me. But I’m a family man now, so strawberry picking has replaced….whatever it is I used to do with my spare time. We arrived around noon and the lot was full.  Who knew so many people picked strawberries? I was delegated to stroller duty while my wife went to work on the picking.

Strolling about the countryside, I had to keep moving or crying ensued. I put that Chicco Caddy to the test, pushing over and through clumps of rocks and dirt as we checked out the cows and scenery...wait, that wasn't a rock..  

And then we stumbled upon the jackpot, rows of plump red strawberries just waiting to be picked.  I plucked one and took a bite, and then another.  It wasn't long before I was stuffing my face like a goblin while filling a container with the mother load.  Then Dad got in trouble.

It never occurred to me that there may have been a reason no one was in the area.  I was politely told that the section I was pillaging was off limits. With my head hung in shame, my son and I were escorted back to the public section and admonished for not paying attention.  I wiped my mouth with my hand, mumbling my apologies with a mouth full of berry…. Way to go dad. 

baby with cows

Saturday, May 25, 2013

10 Challenges for the new dad

There's a wonderful piece written by MsDora over at Hubpages.  Be sure to check it out, here's an excerpt:

Be Loving

Don’t only talk about your love. Practice love. The God kind includes patience, kindness, selflessness, humility, courtesy, forgiveness, fairness and trust. This kind of love reaps good results. If your dealings with your child are filtered through this mix of virtues, you child will know that he is loved, and will also learn how to love.
  • He will see love in your smiles.
  • He will feel love through your touch.
  • He will taste love when you spoon-feed him.
  • He will hear love through your tone of voice.
  • He will smell love in the scent of your embrace.
  • He will understand love the way you love his mother.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Before Your Time...

When I was a kid my dad surprised the family one Christmas by bringing home a video camera—or a home video recorder.  Basically a VCR with a shoulder harness.  My dad lugged that cinderblock around to football games, school plays, and throughout the neighborhood, capturing all sorts of embarrassing moments onto tapes that he saved for future use.
max headroom

Fast forward to last night. I swiped my phone off of the coffee table, touched the screen and began recording memories without causing any permanent damage to my back or having to adjust the tracking.

VCR’s and tapes in general are before my son’s time along with everything I know.  It seems I’ll have some questions to answer.  Dad, what’s a pay phone? 

The other night while giving my son a bath, I called him Suds Mckenzie.  Crickets….that joke may have even been before my wife’s time….the next thing you know I'll be quoting MamamaMax Headroom and searching for New Generation Pepsi on Ebay.

Man, its seems that everything is before my son’s time. 
For instance, we all know cursive is before his time, but what about pens and paper and textbooks.  Dad, what's a book bag?

But all is not lost. For example, mullets are before his time. And I am beyond fortunate that I won't be forced to listen to Justin Bieber, so I can breathe a sigh of relief there.

Newspapers and magazines will go the way of the Encyclopedia.  Tv Guide?  Just press info on the remote...

Cd’s and Ipods will become records and tapes.  Dad, what do you mean You'll tape it?

Moderate politicians are before my son’s time.  There was a time when being a moderate was a good thing, I even read somewhere that our congress used to eat lunch together. Gasp. Today, one must blindly follow one side or risk being called a traitor.  But what do I know? I cast my first vote for Ross Perot.

Pennies are on the way out; He’ll have to log in to check his virtual piggy bank.

By the time he's 10, we'll all be wearing those stupid Google glasses and laughing about those archaic days when we actually typed on keyboards.  And I thought a calculator watch was cool when I was a kid.  What is this Walkman you speak of?

Lebron James is 28, way before his time.  Michael Jordan is 50….Who?  

But there’s always the throwbacks….watching college basketball I noticed how the high-top fade has made a comeback.  MJ is still selling shoes and I can turn to youtube and Netflix to introduce him to the Cosby show and Knight Rider.  If that doesn’t do the trick then there’s always those video tapes of me as a kid….Thanks Dad.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Time Is Flying..

That’s my guy right there.  He’s a slobbering mess of a good time.  He’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. A gurgling chunk of love.  We’ve got big plans, him and I.  We’ve got messes to make and dishes to break.

He’s a happy guy.  His smile lights up the house and his laugh keeps our spirits high.  It’s hard not to smile when you hear a baby laughing.  Even if he is expensive and Daddy has to steal bread from the pigeons at the park to eat lunch...

I used to look forward to my son growing up, I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to enjoy things with dad.  But at four months in, I kind of want to slow the ride down.  This kid is growing overnight.  With each day comes a new surprise and I’m enjoying it more than I could have imagined.  But maybe that’s why it’s happening so fast.

I take pictures like crazy, hoping to capture the moment.  Childhood is a beautiful thing.  Looking back at my own, I’m only beginning to realize the sacrifices made in efforts to make it happen.  And now I get to do it all over again. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fatherly Behavior...

Blackwater Creek TrailsOn a recent walk on the trails with my dogs I managed to get into a yelling match with another guy. His dog was off leash, my dog was off leash. There was some huffing and puffing, and things went quickly went downhill from there. At some point he threatened to kick my dog's tail and I dared him to try. There was some really grown up behavior on display.

Runners gawked as we at shouted at each other, meanwhile our dogs played in the creek.  After a few less than polite words, we headed in separate directions, you know, like grown ups.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have given the encounter a second thought.  But these days I think differently, most of my thoughts are geared towards my son. It won’t be long before he’s joining me on these walks and what kind of example would I be setting for him?   

The incident stayed with me, and the more I thought about it, the more ashamed I became.  As the days passed I hoped to see the man again so I could apologize for being such a jerk.

Well the other day I saw the guy, and our exchange went something like this:

Him: Hey man, I’m glad I saw you.  Look, sorry about the other day..
Me: Hey me too, I wanted to apologize.
Him, laughing: I was just so worked up about the dogs.
Me, laughing: Yeah, my dog can be pretty wild.
Him: Alright man, take care.
Me: Yeah, see ya.

And that was the end of it.  Both of us came away from our quick conversation feeling better about our misunderstanding as cooler heads prevailed…eventually. I'd much rather my son see his dad in that conversation rather than our first...I'll get there.

My dog bruce
Happy Guy

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Root Canal...

This morning I started my day with a bang, and by bang I mean a root canal.  Yes, you can only eat skittles with milk and call it cereal for so long before you realize that it is delicious there are consequences for such actions.

father and son nappingMan labor, the equivalent to giving birth, that’s what it was.  Poor me.  For two hours I was strapped to a chair amidst needles, clamps, and other instruments of mass extraction.  I was forced to sit still—my restless legs notwithstanding--while a masked man got elbow deep into my gaping mouth while discussing Dancing With the Stars with his assistant. If that wasn’t punishment enough for brushing my teeth with Hershey’s Syrup, there was the matter of forging the canal; drilling and poking, a little digging and then more drilling, Panama was built less time…

I may be exaggerating a tad, it really wasn’t that bad…and no where near child labor.  After being set free with a drooping jaw, I took advantage of my day off work by doing some painting at my old house we're renting out.  I even had a prospective renter stop by, where I slurred through the showing of the house, biting the inside of my cheek as I waved my hands towards the washer and dryer.  I won’t hold my breath to hear back.

Afterwards I was off to pick up the little man early from day care, bringing him home where we mumbled and gurgled the same language.  We danced, we sang, and we drooled; catching a quick nap before Mom came home and took care of us. Overall, it was not a bad day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good Mood Dude

We are fortunate to have one happy baby on our hands.  Minutes after he wakes up he's cooing and giggling, eyes wide and alert as he takes in his surroundings.  He’s quick with a smile and once he gets going, he's a handfull to say the least.
Last weekend are little guy came down with his first fever.  It began on Friday evening with a pair of tired, glazed over eyes, continuing into the night when his forehead ran hot and he came up with some new gurgling noises that freaked dad out just a bit.  On Saturday the fever spiked, and he spent the day snoozing with mom, eating little and catching a few restless naps.  He was miserable so we were miserable.
Having a sick child, I realized just how lucky we are to have a healthy child.  I felt helpless as he cried, looking to me with glossy eyes for help. Neither of us slept much throughout the night, wishing there was more I could do.  His fever never got to dangerous levels, but it was more than enough for me.
Sunday the fever broke and although there were still some coughs and sniffles, our delightful guy was making appearances, flapping and bouncing as he was ready to go. 
He's a trooper, I'll give him that.  Throughout it all he still remained upbeat, flashing tired smiles as he peeked through the haze of sickness, as though to tell us, I’m alright guys, just a little cold.  (He doesn’t get that from me, that’s for sure).
Being sick is no fun but watching helplessly as my son was sick was nearly unbearable.  I’m beginning to rethink this whole boy in the bubble thing…

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Mother's Love

As it turns out, the woman I married is a wonderful mother.  She is a natural nurturer and her bond with our son is unyielding and beautiful.  It is special thing, a mother’s love, and I am lucky enough to witness it every day.  
mother and son after birth
I see the love at bath time when he looks up at her with adoring eyes.  I see it at night when she feeds him.  I hear her soft voice soothing him in the darkness when he is cranky and fussy. It is there in the mornings when she kisses his plump cheeks and his face beams with that wonderful smile.

Our little guy has grown so much already, nourished by the milk she creates in her body.  It's amazing to me that she can produce a substance that fuels his existence, but then again, her body created him.  Sure, I had a little something to do with it, but she did the heavy lifting. 

During the pregnancy I worried that maybe I wasn’t cut out for fatherhood, that I wasn't parent material. But those feelings subsided the moment I laid eyes on my son and completely washed away as my wife took him in her arms.  With her I know that he's going to be fine.

I have my moments with him and I know that my time will come.  But for now I’m content to watch and adore the two of them, thankful just to be a part of this whole thing.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stop By....Anytime

Welcome sign
Hey how are you?  Thanks for stopping by.  Let me tell you, we've been busy. The yard isn’t what it used to be, I've managed to get the grass cut but had to stop there.  I was all set to trim the hedges when there was a red alert diaper change and then an impromptu nap time in my arms…..end of workday.

Don't mind the barking, the dogs do that now, a lot.  A new development.  A cry for attention (I know all about crying these days).  They like to make a fuss and then look to me with those precious moments eyes, pouring it on thick with their best In the Arms Of A Stranger stares.

Anyway, welcome inside…

Watch your step, my wife’s breast pump/purse is on the floor near the door. She must have dropped it when she came home,stumbled through the door exhausted, mumbling something about school. Oh watch that!  Let me move the car seat, weave around the diaper bag and then sidestep the recycling…..there we go!  I should take that out.

car seat mess
How's my wife you ask?  Oh uh, I saw her a couple of days ago, passed her in the hallway. It was her turn to shower, long overdue I'd say. We're thinking about both showering one day and having the dinner table....together. 

Are you okay, you look....uncomfortable.  Here, look at this picture of my son I took yesterday!

Please excuse the mess, we run the dishwasher at all hours like a hospital kitchen. The laundry grows like kudzu, piles of twisted and tangled outfits that climb from the floor while overtaking shoes, books, and even small furniture. Wayward socks can be found, one here, three there. Their infestation is stifling, nesting in corners of the house, behind chairs, seeping into drawers, and between sofa cushions along with the hats, jackets, pants, and diapers, plenty of diapers…

Oh you went to see a 10 pm.  I was asleep at 9, but I'll play some music, just shake one of the toys in the pack-and-play to hear some tunes. Catchy huh? I find myself humming them at work.  Other’s make loud zinging sounds that prompt the dogs to bark and the cat to dart down the hall….oh yeah, we have a cat…

Let me get you something to drink…actually if you can just open the fridge and grab a water for me….the top shelf is breast milk, not bad with Cheerios if you're in a bind.
Wow, haven’t seen you in a while, how have you----hang on, Mason, give me the nuk, No!  Sorry about that, the dogs love these things, pretty expensive treat you know?

But we're getting by, working on four months now.  And you know what they say, after the first year you're in the clear...

What?  Don't they say that?

Oh, leaving so soon?  I feel like you just got here. Oh well--can you take this diaper genie bag out to the trash on your way out?

And here's one last picture of....Oh okay...See you later!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Redneck Next Door...

I've never considered myself to be a redneck (not that there's anything wrong with rednecks of course), but how I perceive my actions and myself are two very different things, as proven by my actions over the weekend.

broken lawn mowerSaturday morning I was cutting the lawn when the engine sputtered for a moment and then poof, the motor cracked.  Really, there's engine block shrapnel in the yard, I may want to start checking the oil. 

The gears started churning--not in the mower, it was still smoking in the yard. But I remembered the old mower engine in the basement (kinda redneckish), prompting some custom ingenuity. As my son slept peacefully in his crib, I went to work.  With tools spread amongst the dark oil dripping onto the driveway (my wife loves me), I affixed the mower engine that works onto the mower frame that wasn’t broken. And it worked!  Sorta...

We live by the woods on a dead end street and there’s a home for sale two houses up from ours. Lately cars drive down our street scoping out the neighborhood.  Such was the case when I had my wife (or for this post should I say old lady?) hold the funnel in place as I tilted the blown up mower engine, pouring the gas into the Frankenstein mower I had pieced together.  (All that was missing was a car sitting on blocks in the front yard.)

On to Sunday morning:

Taking the dogs on an early morning walk, before the runners and other dog walkers crowd the trails near our house, I looked around and then unhooked our husky Mason from his leash because well, I’m stupid.  Off he goes into the woods...…way off…..haha so long sucker off.

bad husky
He'll come back I'm thinking as I continue down the trail.  And then I hear it.  The bark, the one that means I have something…or I really want something.

He did want something. I spotted him from the other side of the creek, jumping around a rock, home to a beaver or whatever critter was squealing in the dark hole.  Shaking my head, I crossed the bridge with Bruce, my loyal lab, and we fought through the overgrowth of tall weeds and bamboo and I prepared for a snake bite to the leg while climbing down the rocks towards my lunatic dog.

Soaking wet and covered in mud, his blue eyes were full of maniacal intensity.  Steeled and determined, husky owners know this look.  It’s a look that means I will stay here for the rest of my life if that’s what it takes.

My options were limited.  Come now!  Wasn’t going to get it done.  Mason doesn’t so much need a dog whisperer so much as he needs a life coach with a bullhorn and whip. 

I slid down the bank towards the tip of his white tail, which is all I could see as his body was fully submerged in the hole.  Ready to bolt if something suddenly scampered out, I lunged at my dog, grabbing him by the tail and carrying him back to the trail where I secured him with the leash.  My apologies to all of you activist out there but there was no other way.  

At that point, it was safe to mention that if there were a film crew following me, the viewing audience at home would be placing bets on how many pairs of camouflage pants I own. (One pair of shorts).

I got Mason home where he promptly upchucks a muddy mixture of dirt and sand before I gave him a much-needed bath in the backyard.  After which, he ran laps around the yard before finding a good spot of dirt to roll around in so that he looked as though he had just run the Kentucky Derby.  It’s pointless….

So let’s recap.  Piecing together a lawn mower in the driveway may not have been such a redneck thing to do, but combined with noodling my dog out of a cubbyhole down at the creek the very next morning, well, I’m only a sleeveless Big Johnson’s t-shirt away from tailgating a Larry the Cable Guy gig.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kitchen Philosophy...

The other night while making dinner....helping to make dinner....handing my wife the cheese from the refrigerator, we listened to the playful tunes on the Baby Einstein station on Pandora while my wife sang along.  I held my son in my arms as he watched with wonderment as the ceiling fan worked its magic. Outside the azaleas were bursting with bright pink flowers after a springtime rain.  Mason, our hyper husky chased a bumble bee like an idiot.  Everyone was happy.  I couldn’t help but to think just how drastically different my life is now compared to what it used to be.
It wasn’t so long ago that a good friend and I found ourselves in the kitchen, taking shots of frosted bourbon we had discovered in the freezer.  With each shot we became drunken philosophers, discussing anything from world politics to American literature.  It was near dawn when we realized neither of us knew what we were talking about or more importantly, whose kitchen we were in.
Those were some crazy days.  I have a picture in a box somewhere (my wife didn't like it on the mantle) that encapsulates my twenties.  In it, a group of us are gathered in the courtyard of an old apartment complex drinking beer.  The characters:  An elderly woman, complete with a walker, drinking a Miller Highlife.  A strange lady with a really short skirt who had just happened to walk by moments before the picture. A random guy with a football...why not?  And of course there’s us, arm in arm, both with carefree smiles on our faces.  
My current lifestyle is much easier on the liver.  I’m waking up around 6am and changing a diaper while trying to coax a smile out of the little guy. I'm fluent in baby talk, taking piggies to the market and all sorts of other places.  I'm testing the temperature of breast milk on my wrist and can even pour it into a bottle with one hand, all things that were unimaginable to me even a couple of years ago.  And I would never go back. There are far worse ways to spend one’s time.  Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it's having a family, but these days I like to know whose kitchen I’m in.  Life is much simpler that way.
Recently, that same friend—whose son is almost three and whose wife is expecting, sent me a text asking if I would like to get together and catch up over a beer.  In the text he mentioned that he could meet me any time after 8pm.  I looked at the phone as though I were holding a human heart. After 8pm?  Is he crazy?  I was laughing off this late night invitation when, sure enough the phone buzzed again.
 I meant until 8pm.   
Oh, okay. 
Our lives have changed.  Our bar meetings are months apart and usually consist of a couple of beers and a glance at the clock.  We’re gone long before happy hour ends and at home before the band has set up their equipment.  I leave the bourbon to the kids who don't know any better and the old timers who can handle it. I have no time for kitchen philosophy…

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Diaper Disaster

Back when I was an inexperienced new dad I had quite the mishap with a diaper change.  I wrote about it over at Great Moments In Parenting.  Feel free to stop by and have a laugh at my expense.