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Curious behavior

14 Mar

The last few days, Brooklyn Baby has begun to manifest some weird behavior. This morning, at like 6am, he started coughing, then started crying, “mommy!’ Kind of soft, kind of crying, interspersed with a bit of sleep and a bit of coughing. I finally got up to get him at 6:30, whereupon he seemed…mad? He was fine once I got him up and changed his diaper. But then he sat on the floor, crying and kind of unresponsive. Not sick, no fever. I suspect psychological origins.

Actually, my hypothesis is that he wanted water at 6am, but then felt a little betrayed that we didn’t get it for him (well, there’s also the perennial hypothesis that he’s 2). So he was a little resentful. This is kind of new behavior for us.

Last night at dinner, he wouldn’t touch the pumpkin ravioli or the vegetables, and sat crying and crying, and crying and crying (I want cheesy rigatoni! I want chicken! I want yogurt!). We had been edging towards a harder-line stance for some time, but last night we sort of hit a ‘No, this is your dinner. Like it or lump it.” When I finally went to start his bath without him eating anything, he took a bite of ravioli, then spit it out.

We responded with a sort-of spontaneous “Wow! Look at that! You tried it! Great! Woo-hoo!” and then gave him some chicken cutlet (which he calls Chicken Parm and will eat happily). I mean, we do want him to try stuff, and I have been a pushover about food. But I somehow ended up with a feeling like the US experience in Afghanistan: declare victory and go home.

Anyhow, it feels like baby’s psychological wants and needs are becoming more…interesting.


Projects in 2013

9 Jan

So, we’re underway in 2013, and the first thing we are up to is cleaning and beautifying our ugly-ass apartment. I’m feeling all Manhattan Nest, and if we are going to live here for a while, we need to get this apartment feeling like it’s a livable space.

Of course, there are some impediments to this, including things that I’ve purchased over the past year with intentions, but which have yet to resolve. Like a bunch of bottles (for the failed vanilla project) and Mason jars (because I read Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal and thought I would want to save leftovers in glass jars). So yeah, gotta get rid of, or repurpose, these things. If I can get my nerve up, I’m going to try to replace our ugly light fixtures with something more attractive. You know, stuff like that.

We are also going to be potty training the baby this year. And we are going to pull a 3-day weekend of no-pants, no-diapers. Maybe. But poop. So, I don’t really know yet.

And I know that you all want to know exactly how baby is doing nowadays. He is speaking up a storm, this morning he was shout-singing the ABC song in his crib at 6:30. When I get up to get him, I like to knock on the door, and he sing-song responds, “Commeeee Iiiinnn!” When I take him to the neighborhood coffee shop for coffee and muffins (well, coffee for me), he likes to clean up the trash, toting it across the cafe by himself to put it in the can. Then he takes our plates and glasses, puts them on the bar, and says “thank you!” Well, it’s more like “dank-u”, but it’s getting close.

He eats a ton…of bread and cheese and yogurt and sometimes fish and chicken and sometimes meat. And fruit! But still nary a vegetable, and I’ve made brussel sprouts 15 different ways. We’re not going to worry about it at this point, but geez it is a bit annoying. And no, I’m not going to put spinach in brownies, thank you very much. What are you people, monsters?

Lately he has been toddling around on his balance bike as well, even in the cold. Seriously, what is it about toddlers and their inability to wear mittens or gloves? Crazy brains. I think he’s just an accidental hop-step from realizing that he can coast on it rather than just walk on it, but we’ll see.

I’m also trying to take a lot more video this year, little clips every day or so. I’ll start posting interesting stuff when, well, I get some interesting stuff. Lately it’s stuff like this, crappy quality, but rather hilarious:

Exciting stuff, right? Amiright?

It’s three in the morning

3 Jul

A combination of hot weather and high allergy season is making life in our household unbearable. I am just collateral damage in this little skirmish of discomfort. I’ve got no allergies, and the skin of an alligator. Plus, I don’t much care about hot or cold – my Midwestern upbringing and all. My only bane is that I have trouble falling back asleep if I somehow find myself up in the middle of the night or early morning. And so, the discomfort of mama and baby had me up at 3am.

Baby has a cough but no fever, which means that every 30 seconds or so, all through the night, he’s coughing himself half-awake. I think it is because his nose is stuffed up, and that as he relaxes into sleep, he tries to breath through his nose rather than his mouth. Congestion, catch, cough cough. Rinse. Repeat.

Finally, I picked up the little sleepy hotbox and held him to my chest and shoulder, where he eased up his breathing and fell back asleep. We ended up sleeping on the sofa together, in front of the window air conditioner unit, him sleeping on my chest. It was sweet, and intimate, and hot and not restful. Baby likes to kick his feet a bit while sleeping, and since he is still in the shoes and brace, this means a little jab in the gut every so often.

We did drift back into sleep finally, until a couple of hours later he half-woke again. At that point, I picked him up and tipped him back into his crib, where he slept until 6:45 or so. When he did wake up for reals, he was in a good perky mood. “Did you have good sleeps?” we ask him every morning when we take him out of his crib. Big smiles, “yes,” he always answers.

This too shall pass, and the weather will turn, and he’ll be too big to sleep on my chest, and he won’t really want to anyhow. For now, even looking back at three in the morning, everything is wonderful. Full of wonder.

Irreconcilable differences

24 May

Here’s a partial list of seemingly irreconcilable differences between me and my wife:

1. She refuses to put the bowls in the dishwasher in what I have again and again demonstrated is the most efficient fashion.

2. I simply refuse to rinse silverware and plates before putting them into the dishwasher. I mean, why wash your dishes by hand if your dishwasher will wash them for you? Plus, the time I spend re-washing silverware is orders of magnitude less than the time I would spend rinsing every dish.

3. I feed baby water from my glass. My wife wants to take everything that is glass out of our apartment until baby is 15.

4. I think it’s ok not to be watching baby every second. My wife thinks that if I leave him in his room unattended, he will pull the bookshelf down on his head and die. If I leave him in our bedroom, he will find our (unplugged) shredder and shred his hands in it. If I leave him in the bathroom, he will find razor blades and eat them, etc.

5. I don’t care about which school/kindergarten/pre-school/”two’s-program” baby attends. Baby mama thinks I am insane, don’t care about baby’s education, am high on crack. If anyone can show me any evidence at all that these early programs correlate with any educational outcome (other than ‘getting into the next level of competitive institution’), I will change my tune. She has shifted in response to this to an emphasis on ‘supportive and stimulating environment that baby will feel comfortable in,’ but I remain unconvinced.

6. I constantly interrupt my partner in conversation. There is no argument here, she’s just right on this one, 100%.

7. She won’t eat condiments. I think most foods are simply conveyances for condiments.

8. I don’t believe in having a ‘side of the bed.’ Wife believes the side closest to door and most convenient should always be hers. Equity demands switching off sides. Her position is unreasonable and insane.

9. I believe in giving baby whole raspberries. My darling wife believes that if food is larger than a centimeter, it needs to be cut up. We can of course all agree this is going to lead to an adult who is unable to eat foods unless someone else cuts it up into tiny pieces for him.

10. My wife believes in compliments. If America runs on Dunkin’, my wife runs on appreciation. I believe compliments are for suckers. Words are wind, says George RR, and he’s right!

When when when will baby do the walking?

1 Apr

Baby is 15 months and not yet walking. I say this with full expectation that one day he will indeed walk. And talk. Eat food. Do math. Don’t get me wrong, we will love him whether or not he does these things. And perhaps, given that we’re on schedule to give him deadly, autism-causing vaccinations, he won’t do some of these things. But he was born with club foot, he’s 15 months, and he is not yet walking.

It’s hard to avoid obsessing with at least some piece of the bell curves of development. To avoid it completely. Intellectually, this makes no sense whatsoever. It is a bell curve, standard deviations around a mean. 1.64 standard deviations encompass 90%. 1.96 SDs encompass 95%. 2.58 encompass 99%. If the average is 11 months, with a standard deviation of 2 months, one in a hundred babies will walk at 16 months. Easily, one in a thousand should be walking at a year and a half. Normal, normal, normal.

At the Tot Lot, a wildly unrepresentative (of Brooklyn, of America, sometimes even of Park Slope) clump of kids and caregivers, a mother tells me, unsolicited, that her daughter is small for her age. A father, when I ask how old his baby boy is, tells me: 14 months. He’s not walking though. But he’s cruising, and that’s what’s important, right? Right? Riiiiiiiggghhhhht?

I try to repeat what a close friend with slightly older kids once told me. That by the time they’re 8, they all walk and talk. Further, you forget about when and which kids walked or talked. What looms large while before you looks little when behind you (ok, that last part is me, not Cary).

I’m not sure what my point is here. I somehow imagine that Pioneer parents never thought much about such things, that they were too busy rendering tallow for candles, or chopping wood, or hunting wild boar. We theorize the hell out our babies, and wonder from where our worries come. Still, I’ll be happier when baby starts walking.

Writing for an audience of one

14 Mar

One of the difficult things about starting a blog is that you kind of have to continue writing on the blog. This is good when there is a specific purpose (for you, at least), or a passion for sharing, or if you’re getting paid to do it. For something like Brooklyn Dad, the impetus for the blog remains, ‘can you raise a normal kid in Park Slope?’ But increasingly I’m having trouble thinking about that. It’s time to do something different, and to return to writing for an audience of one – me. Me me me me me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love you. I love you. You are awesome, and I want a closer relationship with you. You make me happy when skies are grey. But I write best when I’m writing for me.

This is not a prelude to saying that I’m giving up on the blog, or that I’ll be posting much more intermittently (really, how much more intermittent can you get already?). It is, instead, a way to try writing my way back into the blog, and into more regular updates on the wacky and wonderful life that fathering a baby in Brooklyn entails. It may take a bit of time. Right now, it feels like I need to make up the time I’ve spent not writing with an epic post of catchup. There are 5 posts in ‘draft’ mode already, dribs and drabs of that epic post that inevitably feel less than satisfying. I’ll finish that later. And then it’s later, and I haven’t.

I realize I’m describing something familiar to anyone doing, well, almost anything. It’s why I always felt bad when I hadn’t called my grandma enough when I was a teenager, and then feeling bad led to not calling, led to feeling bad. Rinse, repeat. Which is all so odd, considering that the parenting stuff has been going so well! And I’m pretty happy, if stressed out about our future career plans, living plans.

It is also the case that we’ve moved past the easy and easily-described funny misunderstandings about being parents. The ways that diaper and delivery used to have to wait on the nursing department at inopportune moments. Things are so much more divergent, and, well, significant now. It just is not that funny to talk about how we think about religious education and ethics, and schools, and sleeping and eating patterns, and development, all in such different ways. Making fun of these things in a public way is more passive-aggressive than joking about my mother-in-law. haha, baby mama wants to send our kid to private school, which I think is crazier than the Republican position on birth control. Zing!

So either it’s down the rabbit hole a bit more, or else endless posts on Notes from the Tot Lot (and there will be posts on this! The place is, as we sociologists say, ethnographically rich!). This is potentially a little sketchy, but I’m going to give it a try.

And on the flip side, I want to share more ephemera, stuff that matters to no one but me. What iphone or XBox games I’m playing (King of Dragon Pass! Dark Souls!). Gender, technology, the future, recipes for chocolate ice cream. Coding, our awesome enamel mugs, a jellyfish in a bottle! I don’t really watch much TV anymore, my procrastination time, such as it is, is spent surfing the nooks and crannies of the interwebs.

So here comes more. Our baby turned 15 months yesterday. Let’s celebrate almost a year and a half of dadd-ing it up.

A dozen for 2011 – an update

15 Dec

A while back (say, February), I posted a dozen for 2011, 12 projects I was hoping to accomplish during the year. It’s time to see how I made out.

1. Happy Birth Day – make birthday announcements. Status: DONE!

2. Baby B Board Books – make homemade board books for Baby, with Illustrator. Status: Bought the blank books, story-boarded out a couple of stories, made three illustrations, haven’t picked it up since.

3. Dashboard – make a personal development dashboard. Status: Bought a Fitbit and used it intermittently throughout the year. Kept no data on baby. Began to code a page which would mash-up a Google Maps and my fitbit data, to show a constantly-updated map of my walking mileage running between NYC and LA (like this, but with a person instead of car, and the route automatically updated). Got maybe 5-10% of the way done.

4. Sound Check – Archive the baby’s voice. Status: Did this pretty well, to about 6 months. Have video, but no systematic archive of sounds for the last 6 months or so. Enjoyed walking around with giant headphones and a big high-quality recorder for a while though.

5. Resource Party – Have a party, inviting various friends to share expertise. Status: Total fail. Untried at all.

6. 40th Birthday Walkback – Do a memory-lane, manual-typewriter-typed birthday present for my two closest friends. Status: 1/2, hit on one, missed on the other.

7. Sell, Baby, Sell! – Sell something on Etsy. Status: Originally planned to sell mandel bread or chocolate chip cookies, but selling food is actually something that needs to be licensed (though some don’t). Made a shitload of baked goods to test out recipe and brainstorm about marketing. Ultimately failed to post/sell a damn thing. Anyone wanna buy a dozen chocolate chip cookies? I’ll do it for $30/dozen. I’ll even throw in an extra.

8. POTD – Picture of the Day, a photo a day of the baby. Status: With help from my spouse, this project is just about complete. We need to backfill a bunch of photos from the end of November/beginning of December, but we’re pretty close to done. Going to call it a win. Let me know if you need the URL to access this.

9. Pull it Together, Man – Pull IDs from various social media. Status: I think I’m pretty far along here, surprisingly. I’ve mostly given up on Twitter, I have a kinda working FB strategy (I post, but almost always delete stuff from my own wall). Have domain names reserved for a switch down the road, feeling not complete but pretty accomplished about this.

10. They Write Letters – write 100 letters. Status: Probably wrote 25 letters all year. 3/4 fail.

11. Artsy Wall – hang a photo wall in the house. Status: It’s not pretty, it’s not professional, but it’s there. With some luck and a good eye from my partner, this should continue to grow. There is also a little wedge frame with baby’s cast on it, which makes it even better. Win.

12. Run, Fat Boy, Run – Get in shape. Status: Gained 10-15 pounds since baby was born. Wife lost like 30 pounds during the same interval. Screw you.

And there you have it. I’m thinking about themes for 2012. Ideas are welcome.