Archives for the month of: June, 2013

Some stay-at-home parents get me hot and bothered.  It’s mostly mothers, but it’s not in a good way.  (Maybe some of my female readership can help me understand why??)

We’re out somewhere and I happen to start a conversation with another parent about kids.  The standard opening line is, “Boy, you got your hands full.”  Yep, I do.  Worm still wants me to carry him everywhere and Smush can’t walk yet.  I literally do have my hands full whenever we go out in public!  (Worm specifically asks me to “hode bose babies” often and I usually comply.)  Half the time, I’ve got a dog leash dangling from my fingers as well…

Then the talk veers toward our respective kids and how they’re so difficult at this early age, etc.  But actually, mine are not.  And I say so.

“My kids are really well-behaved most of the time.  They’re just great kids.  We’re lucky for them.”, I tell the other parent.

All of a sudden, we’re no longer commiserating together.  I get the “you must be kidding me” slightly-drop-jawed stare as they’re wondering how I’m carrying 50lb of kids, 40lb of gear and a 27.5 tooth grin.  The other parent quickly ends the conversation with a backhanded, “Well, I hope they’re great kids as teenagers!  JOHNNY, get your ass over here right now!”, or something to that effect, and scurry off towards their brood.

I’m standing there thinking to myself, “WTF?  That was awkward.  Do I have vomit on myself?”, and I check my shirt, my fingernails and slyly whiff my armpits.  I’ve upset yet another parent from something I’ve said.  It happens way more often than I’d like, but this particular scenario really irritates me.  I’m not bragging or trying to be pompous about my son and daughter.  If you want me to show off, watch me toss my kid 20ft  in the air and catch him behind my back.  I’ve got two wonderful babies and I shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed about it.

Now I need to get this off my non-lactating chest and I’m sorry if I offend anyone.

First off, this isn’t a competition.  The fact that my kids are well-behaved and yours aren’t, shouldn’t shatter your probably unrealistic idea of motherhood (or fatherhood. But I’ve never, and I say never, had a father try to make me feel like a putz for mentioning I have happy, pleasant tots.)  We’re two different people raising different children.  It’s like comparing your apples to my coconuts.  (I’m really into coconuts right now.)

Secondly, I’m not saying that you are incapable of handling your own kids.  I don’t think you’re doing a poor job and I won’t report you to child services for your inability to properly care for a dependent…maybe (unless, of course, your kid steals my wallet.)

Thirdly, don’t believe that I don’t have to work hard because my kids are well-behaved.  And don’t assume that it’s all balloons and birthday cakes with me.  I work damn hard at listening to my children and understanding their needs.  Paying attention can be just as exhausting as getting angry.

Fourthly (if it’s a word), I find it upsetting that some women are still surprised that a man can raise children just as well, if not better than, a woman.  (The internet is a vast ocean of knowledge.  Thank you, Al Gore!) Stay-at-home dads are not as much of a rare bird as they used to be, and fathers can step up to the proverbial child-rearing plate as much as moms, producing some damn fine progeny.

Fifthly, I’m not judging you as a parent.  I’m dealing with enough issues in my own life to worry about anyone else.  We parents all have our struggles and no situation is black and white.  I don’t understand your entire position, so don’t talk to me for 5 minutes and assume you understand mine.  Besides, the worst parent is one that doesn’t want to be there for their children.  As long as that’s not either of us, we’re both probably doing ok.

I find it sad that some people think their offspring are more trouble than fun.  I think it’s too bad that they have a hard time parenting them and enjoying it.  But please don’t try to make me feel embarrassed because my children are agreeable and I look like I got my stuff together.

My sippy cup is not half-empty, not half-full, but completely full.  My kids are lovely human beings.  All the time.  And I’m not going to apologize for that.  I will continue to be thankful for them.  Good or bad is not the important quality here.  Worm and Smush are mine and I love them for being my children.  I’m doing the best I can and trying to make lemonade out of the lemons tossed my way.  (No, really.  Try our MVG Strawberry Lemonade recipe this summer!)  And I hope that lemonade continues to fill my sippy cup to the top.  Cheers!

Look Happy, Dammit!

Look Happy, Dammit!

Studies have shown that babies with plagiocephaly are kind, sweet, loving, and happy infants.  Our research has determined a correlation between a cranial flat spot and a jovial affect.  First, I must give you a little background on our two test monkeys subjects.  Smushie, the present subject, is all of those pleasant things and the posterior portion of her head is flat.  And a number of years ago, I (the other subject) was a baby with similar features, both of personality and of physique.  Coincidence?  No.  These two positive data points makes us (and by us, I mean me) confident that my our assumption holds 100% true.  Babies with flat heads are definitely more good-natured than their round-headed counterparts.

A little history about me.  I was a considerate baby.  I never cried much.  I slept a lot.  I ate when I needed to and excused myself after belching.  I changed my own diapers and took out the trash once a week before I could walk.  (I tied trash bags to my body and dragged them out to the curb.)  I was an easy child and my mom and dad didn’t have to lift too many extra fingers after welcoming me to the family.  Good thing for them, because they needed the rest of their fingers and all of their toes to control my wily older brother.  For the most part, I was left allowed to peacefully sit and observe my surroundings.  And by sit, I mean that my parents would prop me up against the one coconut tree (‘Nature’s babysitter’ is what the locals would call it)  growing in the center of our dirt floor house.   I enjoyed many an afternoon watching my older brother run into that tree only to rattle the occasional drupe loose.  (How I loved the ‘thunk’ of a fresh coconut colliding with my dear brother’s head.  Sorry, I digress.)  Gravity also took its toll on me as I lay at the base of the tree day after day.  The pressure of my head on the hard tree trunk eventually molded my occiput flat.  I was an amiable baby and didn’t need my parents to coddle me much.  And they needed to use their extra energy for chasing after my brother.  (On a side note, I recently thought about having some fat taken out of my ass and injected into the back of my head to give me a more normal human look.  But, I couldn’t come to grips with being a true-to-life butthead and so changed my mind.)

Now back to the Smushster.  Her head is flat in the back.  Not so much now as it was before, since she’s been a stomach sleeper for the past 2 months.  I know, I know.  SIDS risk, right?  But, I can’t force her to sleep on her back without duct taping her pj’s to the mattress and the wife nixed that idea pretty quickly.  (She quickly nixes most of my ideas, huh?)  Because of the fear of SIDS that my wife instilled in me, I now sleep in the same room as Smush.  I keep one ear peeled and pounce on any funny noises exiting her crib.  Anyhow, for the first 4 months of her life, she was always on her back.  Why?  Because we read somewhere that you should never try to make a happy baby even happier.  So, we didn’t.

It would have been foolish of me to bother to pick Smush up while she was being such a good little girl.  And boy, oh boy, has she been a good girl thus far.  The only time she really fusses is when she’s hungry or the Worm is trying to separate her feet from her ankles.  That’s why she has spent a lot of time in the crib, in the car seat, and in the baby sling (which saved us from having to find a coconut tree to lean her against).  Which proves my hypothesis – babies with flat heads are the sweetest ones.

Why?  Good babies are allowed to just be.  They don’t need to be held, carried, rocked, bounced, jostled, swinged, etc.  They hang out.  Which means that they spend more time sitting or laying down in one position than the persnickety babies that need constant attention, changing scenery, etc.  By not being held as much, the happy baby heads eventually conform to the shape of the surface they come in contact with, which is usually flat.

There you have it folks.  Theory, hypothesis, a little imagination, some results, and a conclusion.  Who said life wasn’t one big science project?  (I’m really trying to exercise my own mind here…I feel it rapidly disintegrating from lack of use.)

In Some Cultures, a Flat Spot is a Sign of Beautifulness!

In Some Cultures, a Flat Spot is a Sign of Beautifulness!

I’ve finally been able to get some free time during the day.  (When I say free time, I mean time to toss in some laundry, make a meal for myself, go to the bathroom, pick up toys off the floor, and sit down for 3 minutes.  Free time in our house means free from screaming children!)

I knew that caring for a second child, in addition to the Worm, would make my life three times the lady it once was.  (Isn’t it impressive how I’ve thrown in a reference to the king of ballads, Lionel Richie, even if it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever?  I digress.)  Two kids requires not two, but three times the effort in managing triple the chaos.  I thought that a schedule would be a valuable thing to help me squeeze out some magical “me” minutes from my hectic day, but just after Smush was born and up until recently, I couldn’t even schedule the time to think about a schedule.

So, soon after Steph’s maternity leave was over, she went back to work and I began fumbling through the daily eat and sleep schedules of the little ones by myself.  Worm takes 2 meals and 1 nap a day.  Smush takes 3 meals and 3 naps a day.  I asked myself “How am I going to manage without hiring a really attractive nanny or a beer-slinging manny to help me out?”  (There were no negotiations.  Steph shot down the idea before I could convince her of its brilliance.)

With my dreams of an assistant stomped right out of my senses, I gravitated towards the hippie method of parenting in hopes that the universe would naturally organize my day.  I “let things try to work themselves out, dude…” for almost two months.  It didn’t work.  I was clearly not a hippie and therefore could not fool the hippie spirits to work in my favor.  Or maybe I wasn’t conjuring them up in the right smoke. *cough* *cough* *cough*  (Just kidding, NSA.  Tell the DEA I don’t do that stuff.  Please!)

It’s hard to believe that even with Smushie napping 3 times a day, there was never a time when both kids’ naps overlapped by more than 10 minutes.  Until I solved the riddle.  It’s all about sleep scheduling.  I learned that if Pavlov’s dogs could be trained, so could Honeydaddy’s children.

Babies and toddlers need structure, otherwise bad things happen (like creativity and abstract thought, neither of which make sense).  Their brains have not yet been calcified from the years of artificial sweeteners, GMOs, and over-flouridated water in our environment.  Their brains are, in essence, plastic.  Moldable.  Pliable.  Bendable.  Like play-doh.  During my short-lived hippie parenting phase, I was succumbing to the kids’ whims and fancies and it was getting me nowhere.  So, I turned the car around and drove in the complete opposite direction.  Structure, structure, structure.

Worm – you nap at noon. Period.  (Give or take a minute.  I kindly added some slack to the schedule.)  If you eat lunch before your 12 o’clock nap, great.  If not, I can stuff a sandwich and chips in your mouth while you’re sleeping with your mouth agape.  I know you can chew in your sleep.  I won’t let that talent go to waste.  Otherwise, you eat your next meal when you wake up.

Smush – you nap at 9am, noon, and 3pm.  (A minute here or there won’t hurt either.  I’m flexible.)  You’re so flighty that one minute you won’t touch your milk and the next, you’re starving.  I know how to work with you.  If you skip a meal and it’s nap time and you get hungry, you’re out of luck.  You’ll cry, wear yourself out and then fall asleep (which is the goal anyhow).  Enough repetition of this and your body will adapt.  I know you’re only 5 months old, but come on, how long are you going to use that excuse on me?

The result?  Sleep scheduling worked for me.  I can get anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours of “kid free” time without resorting to locking them both in the bathroom.  Besides, when the kids know what is coming, they’re less likely to flail and I don’t have to use the taser nearly as often.

I Caught You Two!  What Are You Whispering About?

I Caught You Two! What Are You Whispering About?

Gavin – 25; Honeydaddy – 15 (I’m more clever than I look.  For now, at least.)

Wormie tells us this all the time!  Translated, the title means that we love him.  Lucky for us, he doesn’t think we are tastier than the new gut-busting Krispy Kreme doughnut sloppy joe sandwich, because nothing is or ever will be.   (This sandwich incidentally made it’s debut in my hometown!)  So, in case I forget about these funny words and sayings that Worm toddlerizes, I feel that I need to post them here.  But instead of just putting together a list, I’ve decided to write it out as a dialogue between us in what would occur in a Honeydaddy-Worm conversation.

Me:  Worm, are you ready for lunch?

Worm:  Eat big meat!  Watch tah tee see-oh!  (Translation – “Sure father.  I would love to dine on pheasant or swine, or even bison while I view an episode of Curious George.)

—–

Me:  What are you stuffing in your diaper?

Worm:  Buy a nana, nut, and pee a bubba, ga koo!  (Translation – “Just some banana, doughnut, and Nutella.  Thank you!  These pants pockets are fake!  So, I found some extra space here in my soggy underwear.”)

—–

Worm:  Me tursy dat.  chase fo wo and guk eet.  (Translation – “I’m parched from exercising the dogs around the house.  Can you grab me a beer?”)

Me:  How about a root beer instead?

—–

Worm:  Honeydaddy, my arm hurt.  My pee pee hurt.  Tiss.  (Translation – “I can’t fathom how I could hurt my arm and pee pee simultaneously, but I did.  Can you kiss them to make me feel better?”)

Me (if there’s any time that I must step up and be a dad, it’s now.):  Umm….uhh….Well, I suggest you stop yanking on your pee pee like you’re starting a lawnmower and both your arm and pee pee will feel better.  Point to the boo boo.  *mwah*…one for the arm and…’hey is that a fire engine over there!?!’

Worm: Wow! Where?

—–

Sorry Worm, I Should Have Believed You The First Time You Told Me...

Sorry Worm, I Should Have Believed You The First Time You Told Me…

I’ve still got my eyes, and my wit hasn’t dimmed.  Yet.  So, I’m not sure what type of shenanigans Worm was trying to pull on me, but it didn’t work this time.  (And I assure you, Worm, that it won’t work until I’ve lost all my marbles.  I’m as sharp as a Ginsu knife.)

In our never-ending battle of man versus food, I was ‘convincing’ the boy to eat his lunch by way of the pause button on the remote control.  (If you’ve just tuned in, catch up here.)

“Worm, eat.”

“Watch show!”

I press pause and he rips off a bit of apple and gulps it down to get the TV moving again.  Curious George reanimates.

A minute goes by.

“Worm.  Eat!”

“No.”

I press pause again.  Worm springs to life and takes a sliver of apple and looks at me as if unsure of what to do with it.  I nod.  He takes a bite.  I unpause the TV.  (I do this about 100 times a day.  No joke.  I’ve had to modify Worm’s meal schedule because of this huge time suck.  And since I don’t want to get repetitive stress syndrome in my thumb, I now only feed Worm once a day.)

Another minute passes.

“WORM!  EAT!”

He looks at me and puts the last piece of apple in his mouth.  I unpause the show and he resumes watching the tube (that’s what we called it back when it really was a tube), chews a few times and then stealthily slips the apple out of his mouth and back onto his tray.  He then puts his palm over it like he’s performing a magic trick.  Voila!  The disappearing apple trick.  (Or the “I eat, but I don’t gain any weight” anorexia trick.)

Of course I see what’s going on.  How can I not see?  I’ve had 2 years to grow eyes in the back of my head and learn Worm’s every subtle hand gesture.  I’ve studied him like a chef studies fresh produce at the market…(I don’t know, it sounded good in my head.)

“Worm, did you eat that apple?”

“Mmm hmm!” and he gives me the classic bubble cheeked fake chewing face.  (The look was as fake as a Guccci handbag.)

Normally, I would give the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe Worm didn’t understand what I was saying.  He is only 2.  But what showed me that Worm knew exactly what I said and was really trying to pull the wooly mammoth over my eyes was that when I glanced over at the hand concealing the apple, the mini-Houdini couldn’t help but giggle and squirm.

It was Worm’s first lie.  He was testing me.  And after all of that, I had three options to remedy the situation:

  1. Rap Worm’s knuckles ten times with the edge of a ruler to show him that lying to anyone other than the government, is inappropriate.
  2. Tell him about all of the starving children in the world that DON’T have an apple to eat, and get Worm to cry uncontrollably about the crimes of humanity and why humans cannot support one another as easily as they destroy one another.
  3. Lift up his hand.  Show him the apple.  Then explain to him that real magicians, like David Copperfield (the second famous one, not the first) can make apples disappear by swallowing them.  But, only after he has chewed the apple a recommended 25 times first.

The readers voted for #1, but since the votes were tallied in Florida, #3 was the winner.  Worm, it’s your lucky day punk!

Hey dude...

What apple?

Gavin – 25; Honeydaddy – 14 (Watch me make your college tuition disappear, Worm!)

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