Archive | February, 2011

A Dozen for 2011

25 Feb

Inspired by Defective Yeti, I’m putting together a list of a dozen of my pet projects for 2011. Some are in process, some haven’t started, etc etc. The log line is deliberately vague, per Yeti’s advice.



Log Line


Happy Birth Day

Crafts, Kinwork

Put together and send out birth announcements for the little one.

Mostly done. The last piece of the puzzle is getting snail-mail addresses for all of our family and friends.

Baby B Board Book (B4)

Crafts, Personal Development

Make some homemade board books, using Adobe Illustrator.

Have written the copy for one book, ordered blank books, made one image in AI.


Personal Development, Internet

Data Garden/Visualization of life or work or baby

Tried a bit. Read up on php, but lacks a compelling raison d’ĂȘtre.

Sound Check

Personal Development

Archive the baby’s voice, from post-natal squeaks to cooing, to speech.

Failing. I missed the squeaks with some ill-played tech fumbles, and when he cries I’m feeling like a monster documenting it rather than soothing him. Hoping to pass this off to the missus.

Resource Party

Kinwork, Personal Development

Throw a kickin’ resource party.

I dunno. I tried to do this as bilateral expertise swaps but in absence of a hard plan, it’s not happening. Plus, I think my circle of friends is too close-ties to be able to pull this off.

40th Birthday Walkback


I did this for a brother on his 40th, to make a list of some of my memories of things we’d done together, funny, big, trivial, critical. I’d like to do this for my two friends who are turning 40 this year. Then type them up on the old-fashioned typewriter, nice stationery, and send it to them.

I fear it’s a bit late. One has a birthday in late March, the other in early April. If I can get it together to start in the next week or two, I may be able to knock this off.

Sell, baby Sell!


One of my main year-goals this year is to sell something on Etsy. If I can list it, I suspect I can strongarm a friend or two into purchases. So it’s a little more like get something listed on Etsy.

Two ideas are in the can, the most promising is to sell Mondel Bread. Need a designer for my packaging, if anyone wants to get involved?


Personal Development, Fathering

A photo a day of Brooklyn Baby.

January? check. February? check.

Pull it Together, Man

Technology, Personal Development

Wrest back my identities from Facebook, Twitter, WordPress (this site included!). Eventually host my own identity on my own ISP. And get out of the Lobster Traps of the early 21st Century.

No idea how to do this without disappearing myself from my social circles.

They write Letters


100 Letters, hand-written or manual-typed, to friends, family, maybe even strangers.

If I don’t count the spate of letters written last summer, I’m at, roughly, zero.

Artsy Wall


Create a Wall of photographs for our apartment.

Ordered 1 print, of a cute photo of me and Brooklyn Baby. No frame. No plan.

Run, Fat Boy, Run

Personal Development

I’m working on an appropriate amount of distance, and a way to mark it. Ideally a self-updating map of the US, with me running across it, one mile at a time, measured by my fitbit.

Too much sloth, not enough Active Monkey.


Dear Little One, Part 1

21 Feb

[I’m going to be writing this a little at a time, since I a) don’t know how to write it all right now; and b) would rather write something while I’m thinking it than think it for a long time and write nothing. So this is going to be an intermittent, open letter to my Bouncing baby BRGL].

Dear Little One,
I’ve been wanting to write you for a while. You are a bit over two months old, and it’s been a heady two months. My thoughts and feelings towards you at this point are a jumble of hopefulness, joy, anxiety, curiosity, and exhaustion. You wake up so frequently now, and you’re so demanding, that it’s been hard for me and your mother to rest. And as you’ll learn, writing things down means putting one word in front of another in front of another, and inside I’m really feeling all of these things at once, with emotions and thoughts layered on top of one another. It’s hard to get it down just right, so that when you are a bit older, if indeed you are interested in understanding, you will actually understand.

When I was little, almost but not quite 7 years old, my own mom died. I had two older brothers. The oldest was born, and then, thinking they could not have any more children, my parents adopted a boy. 2 years later, I surprised them. So there were three of us, and mom and dad, and the boys were 6, 8, and 12 when she passed away. She was all of 34 years old. I think we had good times, maybe great times, with my mom, but I don’t really have memories of them. Nothing that wasn’t in a photograph, or that isn’t a story that’s been told to me time and again.

And my dad remarried a few years later, to a woman who brought a son and daughter to me and my two brothers. The son shared a room with me, the daughter floated away in a teenage eddy of anger and stupid and petulance. So there were four of us, all boys, 5 years from oldest to youngest (that’s me). We are a family of choice as much as biology. Two biological brothers, one adopted brother, one step-brother. I’d drop everything for any of them, still.

Despite the family turmoil and drama, it was a lovely childhood, a suburban one filled with games and running around, and outside play and the ups and downs of older siblings. I don’t know that you’re going to have lots of brothers and sisters in your life. Certainly not 3 or 4 of them. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that you’re here, and that my father was done having babies at 29 while we’re having you when I’m ten years older than that.

I think your childhood will be quieter than mine was. Less drama, less chaos. I hope this doesn’t keep you from thriving in chaos and drama, or knowing how to find your voice in a room filled with others.

The bar mitzvah, again

21 Feb

So my wife and I went to the Bar Mitzvah, which was split between a morning service and an evening reception. This left a number of hours (maybe five or six) between gigs. We spent the time at the hotel where the reception would be held, and where my eldest brother and his wife had a room. The plan was to meet him (let’s call him the Incredible Hulk, because you don’t like him when he’s angry), his wife, and their 7-year-old son, all at the hotel.

We’re sitting in the hotel bar, eating lunch, of course discussing the World Champion Green Bay Packers. Because I couldn’t remember the Hulk’s room number, and the nice people at the front desk couldn’t help me. 4 people with my last name were checked in – because it was a family event. But whatevs. We ran into friends of my parents, who immediately took Baby off our hands and sent us off to enjoy our nice lunch.

Hulk comes by, with wife and 7-year-old. 7-year-old (Junior Hulk?) had been given a hotel room key, as a mark of independence. He proceeded to wander around in circles in the lobby, unsuccessfully locating the hotel room while desperately needing to go to the bathroom. Once he was pointed in the right direction, Hulk and Hulk’s wife had a couple of drinks and sat with us to chat.

In the meantime, I get a call from a second brother, who was meeting us at the hotel. He was standing in front of Hulk’s hotel room, where no one was there, but the door was propped wide open by a suspiciously 7-year-old looking shoe. ‘Um, I’m in the hotel room but no one is here. And the door is open. And all your stuff is just sitting here.’ Yep, right room. We’re down at the bar eating lunch. ‘Oh, ok. Oh, here comes Junior Hulk. Never mind.’

Hulk had finished his drink and moved on to another, when he announced that he had decided to finally have a one-to-one, heartfelt discussion with my estranged sister, who had been invited to the event at the urgings of my mother and father, and whose presence at the family event was more or less the biggest deal aside from the actual Bar Mitzvah. There is, suffice it to say, considerable resistance to having the prodigal daughter returned to the fold by other members of the family. Despite gentle suggestions that a few drinks in, perhaps this was not the best, clear-eyed plan ever conceived, Drinking Hulk nevertheless was adamant that he was going to have his say.

When long-lost sister arrived, she and Drinking Hulk retired to the other end of the bar. Wife and I finished our lunch, reclaimed our kid, and headed off with Hulk Wife to their hotel room (and where second brother and Junior Hulk were hanging out). Two hours of chatting and playing, a diaper change, and an awkwardly screaming Brooklyn Baby, and now-Drunk Hulk arrived. Apparently his heartfelt talk went…well, it went. Hulk proceeded to rile up Junior Hulk, annoy Hulk Wife, then scamper down to the Bar Mitzvah cocktail hour. Junior Hulk and Hulk Wife joined them. Baby mama fed the baby, second brother eventually headed down to cocktails.

Things actually got ugly from there. The party was waaaayyy too loud for Baby (good idea to bring him to the party, bad in practice). So Baby Mama sat in the hotel lobby with the baby, away from the actual party. Hulk passed out, after further antagonizing others. Second brother went out of his way to make the night about the Bar Mitzvah boy. Prodigal daughter and family were thick as thieves with my mother. I eventually headed home with Baby Mama after deciding that it wasn’t working very well. Parents ended up coming out to say goodbye to Baby, who at the end of the day spent more time with my parents friends than with my parents. Next morning’s brunch, and our lack of attendance, turned out to be another finger in the eye of my parents and their Mother-Daughter-Family Reunification Plan. And that was the last I saw of my family during the trip. And the last I’ve heard from, or really much expect to hear from, my parents.

So, let’s call it a mixed-bag of family meet and greet. On the upside, I’m closer to some of my dearest friends (with whom we stayed) than I’ve ever been. On the downside, well, right.

Back from Chicago

20 Feb

We’re back from our first family trip with the little one, and there is much to say. I’m not sure how to talk about all of it, or which pieces of the trip are appropriate for sharing. There is obviously a large element of over-share in any blog, but in this instance some of my family relations are raw enough that someone reading about themselves might take something out of context. Or in context, actually.

That said, let me separate things out into the trip itself, the mitzvah, the family unravel, and the therapeutic return.

The trip itself
The trip itself went extremely well, both coming and going. Brooklyn baby has proven himself thus far to be a mild-mannered baby, and it showed. There was a grand total of 10-15 minutes or so of crying, from security through the air travel itself, both ways. On the way back, BB even slept through being taken out of the carrier through security. We fed him on take-off and landing, changed his diaper once on each leg, and he was simply awesome. It obviously helped that we had purchased a ticket for him, and so we had him in a carrier seat between us. Still, everyone’s suggestion that traveling with a newborn turned out to be spot-on. Easy, peasy, lemon breezy.

The mizvah
Our reason for traveling to Chicago was for my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, which went very well. My nephew goes to a Jewish private school, and has learned Hebrew all along, so reading from the Torah and Haftorah were not quite as hard for him as for others. But he handled himself with grace and humility, and it was impressive. Seemingly overnight, my two nephews have gone from being kids to being teenagers. Not sure how that happened. Surely it won’t happen to me.

The unraveling
On the other hand, the family drama surrounding the Bar Mitzvah continued a trajectory that began a few years ago, came to a head last summer, and has now basically unraveled my immediate extended family. I’m not sure what to say about this, because it is sad and frustrating, and anger-inducing, all at the same time. The gap between what I say, think, and do, on the one hand, and what I am perceived to be saying, thinking, and doing on the other, have never been wider. The end result is that it is more likely than not that BB won’t have much of a relationship with (some of/large parts of/key members of) my family. As Tolstoy notes, happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

The therapeutic return
Not that returning to Brooklyn is therapeutic. Actually, the smallness of our apartment, and the absurdity of living so cramped in this city, paying so much for so little, and being somehow proud of it, is pathetic. But that the boy’s foot has ‘graduated’ from stage one of the clubfoot therapy to stage two. From the cast to the shoes/brace. I’ll have more to say about this, but I think the next few months are actually going to be the hardest part of the whole ordeal for us. At least it looks like that today. Tomorrow it may look different.

So, we’re back. I’ll get back into the habit of posting, and there was fun and funny stuff that happened as well. But overall, this trip and its aftermath felt more like a sharp poke in the groin than a happy meet-and-greet of Baby Bilbo to his clan. Yay for awful beginnings! There’s nowhere to go but up!

Passed out naked, laying in your own vomit

5 Feb

During the 1:30am feeding, Baby B decided he didn’t really want the breast, or at least the second breast. His eating habits have become more, oh, let’s say, varied – sometimes eating well, sometimes not, sometimes eating for 5 minutes and becoming pissed off. He’s also developed an excellent spit-up technique. Last week, he fountained a stream of spit-up at his baby mama to cover hair, shirt, pants. Fascinating. I don’t know what kind of baby night school he’s enrolled in, but they’ve been teaching that lesson well. Finally, he’s learned how to slip almost any swaddle – the miracle blanket will hold him, but he screams murder when you put him into it. Otherwise, he is a swaddle Houdini.

Anyhow, at the 1:30am feeding, we had taken off his onesie, so as better to agitate him and freeze him out, hoping for better eating. When done, left the onesie off, swaddled him, and put him right back to bed (yay, Dear old Dad!). But at 5am, I awoke to find him out of the swaddle, with spit-up all over himself, kind of sadly whimpering. I cleaned him up, dried him off, and let him fall back asleep on my chest, on the sofa in the living room.

But I also wrote ‘BALLS’ on his forehead in a big black marker. I mean, if I don’t teach him the rules of drunken pass-out, who will?

Lowering the bar

4 Feb

Wife took the morning/early afternoon to be footloose and fancy free in Manhattan go to the doctor, leaving me with Baby Bilbo. The little squab. So I fed him a bottle, then we walked out (out!) of the house to get me some lunch at my favorite local cafe. I ate there, a quick lunch. Quick quick. As an aside, we need a word for ‘person eating as fast as possible while keeping one eye on the sleeping baby, hoping desperately that he won’t wake up before you’ve crammed at least something into your maw’ – how about ‘shoveling gastro-monitor?’ – and of course towards the end the baby began to wake up.

Doting father that I am, I then proceed to get back in line to get a couple of chocolate croissants, while the baby escalated from unhappy to crying (hierarchy of needs places chocolate croissants far above routine whimpering of small child, natch). By the time I made it out of there, baby had achieved a lovely kind of piercing cry that turns his face bright red and heats his internal temperature from ‘comfortable’ to ‘sweaty mess’ (he’s my son in this, sadly. The sweating, not the crying).

I roll out of the place with a beet-red, newly awake, crying baby, heated further by a hat and fur-lined cocoon, commonplace in walkable NYC, that would keep a penguin warm on the ice floes (I saw one the other day that I think was warm enough to incubate tropical butterflies). And a woman passes by, looks at me, looks at the baby, and says with a non-snarky, completely genuine smile, to the baby, ‘you’ve got such a good daddy!’

So, literally, no matter what I do, the fact that I’m a dad out with his child, makes me a good father. The bar is low, people, the bar is low.

The gaping maw

2 Feb

Our baby is now 7 weeks old, almost two months! In response to some problematic eating habits he’s developed over the last week or so, my ever-cautious wife took him to the pediatrician. Doctor is great, but it seems that we never get the timing for feeding the little one right. As a result, every time we take him in, he’s hungry. So she must think we never feed the baby.

Plus, when asked about his weight, baby mama over-reported (10 lbs 9 oz last week). Since he has a cast on now, it’s hard to guesstimate his actual weight. Nevertheless, a weighing in the doctor’s office prompted our pediatrician to tell us that he seems a bit underfed, not gaining enough weight. Which, incidentally, seems COMPLETELY INSANE to me, as I have now found myself calling our baby Little Fatty Cheeks, the Fat Man, and Holy God are you the Cutest Little Chubby Infant I’ve Seen EVAAA!1!.

But I digress. She basically suggested we supplement with formula, a suggestion she’s hinted at before but now has an occasion for implementing her suggestion more authoritatively.

As a result, we are now treating every time the baby opens his mouth as a potential feeding moment. I’m now wearing a bottle of formula around my neck like Flavor Flav and his clock. When Brooklyn Baby cries, coos, burps, or screams, there I am, poking him with a bottle.

This boy is going to have oral fixation issues, I have a feeling.