Thursday, March 1, 2012

One Year In

Last week, Baby Dude had his one-year doctor's check-up. I can't believe how quickly the last year has whirred on by. And even more so, I can't believe how much growth and how many changes my little guy has been through. It's hard to believe that the almost-five-pound runt from a year ago is now a talking, smiling, character with the physicality of a bull in a china shop (just like his dad).

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with the mom of a 6 year old. She was reminiscing on her son's first year and she said she much prefers the steady developmental speed of an older child rather than the exponential growth of the first year. Think about it: in one year a child goes from being a pooping, crying blob on breast milk to a mobile, communicative kid (complete with tons of personality) who eats big-people food and has curiosity to spare.

Sure, this pace of development can certainly make a parent's head spin. Just when I was getting used to one set of skills and needs, Baby Dude would go and move into new territory and I'd have to adjust all over again. I think this first year of parenthood taught me a parent's most important lesson—when I put on my "parenting pants" (let me suggest the Dad Dude Jean, ha), I've got to roll with whatever comes my way.

Now, if I could just learn to apply that to the other areas of my life, I'd be all set......

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Endorsement for The Dad Dude Jean

feed-time ensemble

We've all heard of mom jeans. And, yoga pants are the uniform of a certain stripe of fit young mothers. Well, today I'd like to introduce you fine folks to The Dad Dude Jean—the perfect uniform for today's stay-at-home dad with style.
But wait, that's not all....

The ample side pockets of the standard-issue Dickies Carpenter Jean is a perfect fit for the dad on the go. The larger, angled side pocket is ideal for bottles. Even an 8-ounce bottle with its cap on fits as snug as a bug. You can complete the feed-time ensemble with the other, smaller side pocket, which serves as the perfect place to jam in a burp cloth, which is best left dangling gas-station-attendant style. On the other side of the jean is a loop meant for a hammer or, in this case, the clip attached to a baby monitor.
monitoring the situation
But wait, that's not all....

The handy, dandy Dad Dude Jean has many, many purposes. A favorite of the moms who take Gymboree classes with me and Baby Dude is its ability to keep unseemly plumber crack at bay! That's right, there is ample room in these jeans for modesty while I crawl, lunge and contort with Baby Dude throughout the day.
But wait, that's not all....

As Baby Dude gets older and morphs into Toddler Dude, the side pockets can conveniently serve as a portable fruit roll-up and string cheese warmer. And the ample front slash pockets and rear pockets will certainly allow for juice boxes, Cheerios and toys. (Not to mention the small change pocket that is perfect for storing guitar picks.)

I wholeheartedly endorse The Dad Dude Jean.

Friday, December 2, 2011

'Tis the Season for Cheer, Cheerios

When I called my wife, Mom Dude, at work this morning to tell her about our son Buck's latest accomplishment she couldn't have been more overjoyed. Today, for the first time, Buck successfully ate Cheerios. You may ask, "Why would that be a big deal?"

Well, one of the many cool aspects of first-time parenthood is the many jaunts down memory lane, back to our own childhoods. Cheerios not only were a young Mom Dude's favorite food, but it was also her first word.

I had the same waves of nostalgia wash over me last night as I was compiling a list of toys for my mom to consider buying for Buck's first Christmas. Memories lept off of my iPad screen as I clicked on staples such as Fisher-Price's See N Say and Xylophone, Radio Flyer's red wagons, and LEGOs, as well Green Toys' cool take on the dump truck. Of course I also had to add in some noisy things like a tambourine and maracas, because it is waaaaay too quiet around the house (yeah right).

Hopefully the near-constant thoughts of youth help balance out the stress of sleep-interrupted nights and the constant mild anxiety that we are doing a good job doing the whole child-raising thing. Of course, they can't turn the grey hairs that I have back to brown; I've earned them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Multitasking Happy Crap

Do you want to know one of the biggest crocks of the modern workplace? Multitasking. Why would anyone want to do a handful of things at once in a thorough half-assed fashion instead of doing one task correctly to termination or a logical stopping point and then moving on to the next task?

When I first started working from home while taking care of my son, I tried to multitask the living daylights out of my life. Any time my iPad would ding with mail, I’d spring up and examine the incoming message, no matter what I was doing—activities like feeding my son, putting him down to sleep, walking my dog, or trying to squeeze in a moment to read. I was working all of the time and trying to do everything necessary to take care of my child, wife, dog, home, and, once in a while, myself. I felt like I wasn’t taking good enough care of any of it. I just ended up feeling burnt out.

I realized that I needed to create some boundaries. First off, I silenced my electronic devices. When I was on kid-duty that is all I would do. I carved out (sometimes erratic) windows throughout my days and weeks to accomplish tasks like checking email, following up on potential interviewees, and writing. And Tuesday afternoons and all day Thursday, when Buck is at daycare, I need to really get to the old crankin’ and burnin’ on the work front.

So far, so good. Sure, when I’m on a tight deadline, all of these boundaries go right out the window. But I’m getting better at balancing my time during deadlines as well as in my day-to-day life. It’s a work in progress and it is always evolving. But at least I know better than trying to do that multitasking happy crap.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roughing It Through Heatless Nights, Surviving Big-Butted Divorces

the sleep bag that saved the day(s and nights)

I keep talking about all these “firsts” that I enjoy seeing my son Buck experience. Well, this past weekend we certainly had an interesting first: first winter storm that knocked out the power and heat in our house.

The early, sopping-wet snowstorm that hit the Northeast on October 30 really did a number on my street and my property. The power went out early on and we spent the rest of Saturday afternoon and night listening to trees and large limbs snapping and crashing to the ground—and through the roof of my garage, which caused a falling roof beam to leave its imprint on the hood of my Subaru. Excluding those limbs, which need to stay in place until the insurance man pays a visit, I spent all of Sunday running the chainsaw and clearing the larger limbs from my driveway and yard. But enough about me…

While it did get rather chilly in my house during the two-and-a-half heatless days, and having a lights-out at sundown was duller than watching golf on TV, Buck toughed it out like a champ—much better than my wife did, I might add. Part of the reason Buck weathered it so well is because my wife had the foresight just the week before to get Buck a toasty Merino Kids wool sleep bag.

The chilly days and nights did offer some silver linings. Both my wife and I had a great excuse to get some extra cuddling time in with Buck. I liked to crawl under my warm down comforter with him napping while perched on my chest. With the astronomical growth rate he has been maintaining, I know the days of him fitting on my chest are numbered. So, even though the pain-in-the-butt caused by the storm still looms, mostly I am thankful for those stolen moments with my baby boy. Well I’m thankful for that and for avoiding Monday’s news cycle, which I’m sure was full of news about a certain big-rumped, talentless fame whore’s divorce.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not Just Man's Best Friend

Dogs long ago earned the honor of being dubbed "Man's Best Friend." And I can see many, many reasons why. For instance, when my wife was pregnant and acting out of sorts, I would volunteer to make sure my ole best friend got her exercise. But after seeing my pooch Lucy with my son Buck, well, maybe dogs are a man's best friend, but a dog's best friend is a kid and a kid's best friend is that dog.

Even though Buck is only 8 months old, he has already established a great relationship with Lucy, and vice versa. Even from the youngest of Buck's days, they enjoyed each other's company and that relationship has grown. Anytime Lucy is near Buck, he is either smiling broadly or laughing from deep inside his gut. And Lucy, well, she has a penchant for licking Buck's feet, hands and, sometimes, face, and that only makes Buck laugh harder, which makes Lucy all the more adamant on her task. Sometimes, when I put Buck in his crib, I'll leave the door cracked and when I come back that door is open and there are traces of blonde dog hair left behind—just Lucy making sure her little buddy is alright.

Today's a special day for Lucy. October 20 is the day we designated as her birthday. She was estimated to be 7 months old when we brought her home from the shelter, so we counted back from that day. I need to wrap my work up here so I can get the birthday girl out for a hike. And later, some play time with Buck...and then a nice meaty ham bone.

A side note on the ham bone: Is it really necessary for Petco to label its ham bone with the warning: "Not Suitable for Children"? Although, with the way Buck has been chomping his teething gums, hmmmmmmmm......

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Tale of Frenchy Francois

Who would have thought that a rather plain 50-year-old rubber giraffe from France would turn out to be one of the absolute best baby toys I've seen? Sophie was one of the first things Buck was interested in at an early age. Its high-contrast colors attracted his limited vision. Its long legs were great for when Buck was learning to grasp. Now, its amusing squeaks and its soft-yet-firm texture that is perfect for emerging teeth (and its rubber surface that is impervious to the gallons of slobber a teething baby drools every day) are the attraction. I have a feeling that as he gets older he will use this for more imaginative play.

I have certainly used it for my own imaginative play with Buck. I have little story lines for each of his favorite toys. Sophie's story is [french accent]Hello, I am Frenchy Francois. I am a French giraffe and I smoke Gitanes cigarettes. Oui, Oui, Oui, but not on me.[french accent]