Sunday, December 30, 2007

3B's Mowah - Remember Maine!

That fat, quick, lively, jolly, old elf was good to 3B this year, and he got many gifts that he enjoys. One that he was particularly happy to play with, even after his day of travel home from his Great Grammy's house, was his new mowah, given to him by his Aunt Sister #1.

Even though Mama's from the part of Maine where they're more likely to call this a tondeuse, I'm still blaming her Maine background for 3B's pronunciation of the name of this toy: mowah.

As in, pahk yah mowah in Havahd Yahd, as my pediatrician used to say.

At any rate, you can rest assured that all of our carpets have been sufficiently mulched over the last few days.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

First, the second part

Because I'm left-handed and therefore look at everything backwards...well, backwards to all of you dime-a-dozen is my answer to Samantha's second question. My answer to her first question will be posted tomorrow on Black Belt Mama's blog, as my guest post, because in the blogosphere, I can't bring soup and ice and morphine to BBM, but I can guest post.

For those of you who have advice for Samantha about this, or her other question, please chime in. I'm only one parent, who's had only one baby, so I'm sure there are other perspectives.

Also, I'm going to be beyond the grid for several days now while I travel to Grammy's in Vermont, which doesn't even have cell coverage, much less internet access. So, to those of you who are celebrating something, even if it's just a day off from work, have a Merry Something. Me, I'm going off to have a Merry Christmas, and I'll be back with y'all for the New Year.

'Nother question for you: We're going to try and have the little man in our room sleeping in the P & P in the beginning, so I can nurse easily and keep an eye on him. Bryan will obviously be going back to work after 1-2 weeks. So, what happens to the baby when Bryan gets up and gets ready for work? We don't want to wake the baby if he's still sleeping. I know lots of parents do this little arrangement, and I can't figure out how it all goes smoothly. Thoughts? I don't know if 3B slept in your room or not, so maybe you have no clue either. But this leads into ANOTHER question: I know you're supposed to keep everything dark and quiet at night so they don't totally wake up. Just feed 'em and put 'em back down. But! What about diaper changes? Won't that stimulate them more? I know I should dive into a few sleeping books and will probably get my questions answered, but until this godforsaken move is over I have no spare time. So I ask you instead.
Actually, these are questions that no book answered to my satisfaction. They did answer your questions, but they didn't provide complete and real descriptions of how those answers play out. I'll try to do that, but as always, your mileage may vary, so be sure to check with other parents as well.

Oh, and before I forget, we only used one book dedicated to the topic of sleep: The Happiest Baby on the Block. I haven't heard anything that would lead me to use another book for our next baby.

3B did sleep in our room in his Pack & Play, which worked well. We initially set it up as a bassinet with the little changing table (tray? trough?) on the end. That worked well for us, although I did prefer using 3B's actual changing table, which was a changing pad on top of a dresser, because I didn't have to hunch over to reach him.

In regards to keeping an eye on him, there was no worry about hearing him since Mama's hearing is so tuned in to him that she can hear it when he so much as thinks about fussing. In fact, after 3B was born, Mama started sleeping so lightly that a fly walking on a cotton ball could wake her up. My Mom suggested having 3B sleep in the hallway, to keep Mama from being woken up every time 3B turned over. Another room is too far away, Mom said, but don't have him sleep right next to you, if you want to get any sleep. We couldn't imagine being more than six inches from 3B after he was born, so we kept him right next to the bed. Mom was smart.

Even though 3B has always been an active sleeper--picture a sleeping baby going through a bikram yoga session in a Pack & Play--Mama eventually got used to the noise, and was able to get more sleep. I, of course, wouldn't wake up if 3B crawled into my ear and threw a tantrum on my eardrum, which is typical dad behavior.

Another typical dad behavior is going to work in the morning. I double-checked with Mama on this, and we agree that I never went to work without seeing 3B awake. Here's why...and I think this answers your diaper change question too...

Although your baby will probably sleep "all the time," that's kind of a bullshit phrase that we all use without speaking the truth behind it. Initially, your baby will sleep, if you're lucky, for two hours at a time. Initially, you will sleep, if you're lucky, for two hours a day. Here's the deal (I picked 1:30 a.m. randomly, your baby will pick other random times for you):
1:15 a.m. Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:20 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:25 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:30 Baby wakes up.
1:30:05 Baby is in Mama's arms to nurse. Initially, nursing was a whole production number--propping Mama up in bed, or having her rock in the glider, or reclining on the couch--mostly because we didn't know what we were doing. After a short while, Mama would just lay 3B down next to her, and nurse him while dozing. I would sit up to burp him, since that worked better vertically, but I would also doze or sleep through nursing.
1:50-2:00 Baby is done nursing.
2:00 Diaper change commences.
(optional steps that applied for the first week--
2:01 Grammy comes in, changes diaper, takes 3B to living room, rocks him to sleep, returns him to P&P w/o waking Mama and Papa.
2:30: Grammy is beatified.)
2:07 Mama and Papa finish finding and opening all the snaps on 3B's garment.
2:08 Diaper is opened. Mama and Papa marvel at contents, reconsider why they wanted a baby so badly, consult 3B's cute little mug, remember why, and proceed.
2:10 3B pees all over his bassinet, having squirmed out from under burp diaper laid down to protect against this. Papa splits off to wipe down bassinet and change the sheet.
2:12 As Mama is closing up 3B's diaper, he poops in it. (Your mileage on this may vary, but we learned to not be too quick about changing 3B's diaper after feeding to avoid this. Then again, the longer you wait to change it, the less sleep you get. Then there's the serial pooping--I almost cried the night that I changed 10 diapers in an hour.)
2:20 With a second clean diaper on, and bassinet cleaned, Mama and Papa set out to snap up 3B's garment and reswaddle him. At the same time, somewhere in the world, a child sets out to fold an origami sock out of Kleenex and put two fighting weasels in it, all without tearing the tissues. Although the projects have striking similarities, the child finishes before Mama and Papa have 3B all snapped up and reswaddled.
2:30 Papa takes 3B out to living room to rock him to sleep in glider, and so Mama can get some sleep.
2:31 Mama pees, gets water to drink, etc.
2:35 Mama goes to sleep/passes out from exhaustion.
2:45-3:14 In an ideal world, 3B goes to sleep and Papa stays awake, gently transferring 3B to his bassinet when he's finally slumbering. Often, however, Papa would work the 5 S's from Happiest Baby, rock 3B, and walk 3B for awhile before he would go to sleep. Often this took so long that Papa would just stay in the glider with 3B sleeping on his chest rather than risk 3B waking up when he was transferred to the bassinet, which often happened.
3:00 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:05 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:10 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:15 3B wakes up to eat. Rinse, repeat.
Notice how we were awake through most, if not all of those two hours? And how 3B was actually awake for a significant part of it too? Every two hour segment of the day looks pretty much the same, so the odds are good that when Bryan is getting ready for work, he and the baby and you will all be awake already, or will wake up some time before he goes, as a part of the regular cycle. Also, if Bryan values his life, he will learn to be quiet enough to not wake the baby when he gets ready.

And about those middle-of-the-night diaper changes--baby's already going to be awake, because you'll do it after one of the 12 times you feed him at night, so you're not disrupting him. And you have to change his diapers anyway, to avoid diaper rash and blowouts, which cause you to have to change his clothes, his sheet, and his pad under the sheet, as well as his diaper.

You wrote, "I can't figure out how it all goes smoothly." From my experience, I would say that initially, the mechanics of it won't go smoothly. Hell, it's pretty rough emotionally too. But love will get you through--love for the baby and love for each other. Love for coffee doesn't hurt. Eventually, however, you and Bryan and baby will figure out a rhythm.

At which time, baby will change all of his patterns, causing you to start all over again.

But each time he does that, it gets easier. It's hard to picture while you're pregnant, but you will get to know your baby better than you know anyone--Bryan, your best friend, even yourself. You will eventually work mostly in concert with him, with him more as an extension of yourself, rather than as a person wholly separate from you. Yours and Bryan's love of your baby, and his love of you, will make it go smoothly.

Well, that and a live-in nanny.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Six nipples and a rock

Some of you have inquired whether we survived the latest virus to sweep through the Bradstein household, which was a good reminder that hey, I have a blog. As you may have surmised from my authorship of this post, we did survive, although my cure almost did me in.

3B fared the best and bounced back first, of course. Something about sleeping 16 hours a day seemed to help him recover. Mama caught the worst of this bug, losing her voice for a day, and sounding like Marge Simpson for several days after that, but she's finally getting back to normal. Something about being a consultant, stay-at-home mom in the midst of the holiday season seemed to complicate her recovery.

Me, I took the advice from a former coworker, who advised wrapping up tight in a blanket, laying down on the couch in front of the TV, and sipping through an entire bottle of tequila in one night. "Burns it out of your system," was what he said. I didn't have a ready supply of Agave-ade, so I substituted 63 martinis at our company holiday party. Something about those 126 olives made it easy to sleep my way to recovery that night.

And something about the 45 glasses of water and doses of Excedrin Migrane made it possible to walk upright the next day, despite what felt like the LSJUMB percussion section threatening to play and endless loop of The Obvious Child behind my eyeballs all day.

This time worked out slightly better than the last time I took the Cuervo cure (read: no hurling out car windows or in Denny's bathrooms--hey, if I didn't mention it, The King would), although it did have me sleeping through much of the last night that Mama and 3B were here before flying up to Grammy's for Christmas, which wasn't cool on several counts.

I was able to get home from the party before 3B went to bed, but all those olives had me laying down for a long winter's nap myself long before Mama was able to finish packing, getting our remaining gifts organized, finishing the final loads of laundry, and all the rest of what's required to leave home for two weeks with a toddler. So, even though Mama was gracious about it, I've been feeling like it was a bad-dad-no-biscuit move.

The tiny upside is that I would never have been tempted to such imbibery (imbibification?) at my former job. Sure, maybe with some of my former coworkers in a smaller group, but never at the holiday party. Which means that I'm still loving my new job and coworkers. And since they left, I've been able to pick up some of the slack with laundry, and receiving packages from Amazon, including some gifts and several new glass and Born Free bottles. Somehow, we only got the default latex nipples for the glass bottles, not the silicon nipples we ordered, so I've got to track those down.

But now that Mama and 3B are gone, and Barky and I are rattling around the house, I'm missing them more than I might if I hadn't gone to bed so early that last night. Then again, I'm not sure it's possible to miss them more than I usually do.

As they drove me to work before heading out for the airport, we went by the firehouse that we look down on from our condo, and the ambulance was out by the curb. Instinctively, both Mama and I said, "Look, 3B--ambulance." And, for the first time, he said, "Ambulance." OK, so it sounds more like "amby," but for the rest of the ride, every big red truck was an "amby.

And so, as I jostle along on the bus, typing this, every time we go by a red truck, I have to restrain myself from tapping the leg of the guy dozing off next to me and saying, "Look, an ambulance!" The same goes for whenever I see a bus, or a plane, or a truck, or a van, or a motorcycle, or a crane, or a dog, or a cat, or a baby, or another child, and I have to keep from singing out "Woo woo!" whenever I see a fire engine.

This morning, while walking Barky, I found myself pointing out the garbage truck, one of 3B's favorite vehicles to watch: "Look at the lights flashing. And the men putting the trash in. And the compactor..." Only to look down at Barky who was giving me one of those, "I'm really worried about you, Dad" looks. Then, I looked across the street and saw a mom holding up her son, who looked about 3B's age, so he could marvel at the trash truck over the roof of their car before she strapped him in to his car seat.

When I got home and was moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer, I heard a clunk in the wash tub. I rooted out a rock that I'm sure had fallen out of 3B's pocket, just as rocks (and bolts and nails and pieces of glass and coins and so on) had fallen out of my pockets into the wash, driving Mom crazy. And that just made me think of how I might have called Mom and told her that her curse worked--I got a child just like me, and how we would have laughed over that a little bit, and then she would have told me that I was never any trouble at all, because that was a reflex of hers. And I would have been reflexively comforted by that little white lie we would have shared.

And missing Mom made me ache a little more for Mama and 3B. It's as if I've lost an arm and a leg, but I can still feel them moving, as if they were still attached to me. And they are still attached, but not close enough to reach out and hold onto, so I set down the rock in the pile of useless nipples on the kitchen counter, started the dryer, took a sip of coffee, leashed up Barky, put on my coat and hat, and headed out into the inky cold morning.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mama and 3B sick. Barky crazy. Papa lazy. Send help. Or gin.

Thanks for asking, my back is still wrenched hard. Yesterday, I stayed home to take care of 3B while Mama rested (read Harry Potter) and slept behind closed doors. We've taken to closing our bedroom door at all times because that's easier than pulling him screaming away from the computer 15,673 times a day. We finally wised up and set the screen saver to require a password, so now he won't inadvertently reformat our hard drive by hammering his chubby mitts down on the keyboard, but still, 3B won't leave the thing alone, so we just keep our door closed now.

Of course, nothing could be so easy; every once in awhile, like several times a day, we end up closing Barky in our room. Since Barky has what his behaviorist called "confinement issues" (read: goes batshit crazy and will strip all the paint off the back of the door and the brass off of the doorknob when left alone in a room), this causes him to whine, tremble, and lift a paw. Each time we discover that we've done this to Barky and are trying to soothe him, 3B slips past us and begins playing Whack-a-MacMole on our keyboard. Never a dull moment.

Having 3B used to our bedroom door being closed, however, made it easier for him to accept that Mama was "gone" and would be "back later." Nothing like a little dishonesty between father and son to get the holiday season off to the right start.

And yet yesterday, with all of its lifting--get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench, get down off the toy bench--and carrying was easier on my back than sitting in a chair all day at work today. When I left, I was walking bent over like the bastard love child of Quasimodo and the rusted Tin Man.

So, not wanting to sit here and think and type any longer than necessary, I was glad to see that one of you had asked a great question to write about and that another one of you had already answered it for me--and I was glad to see in the answer that someone finally came up with a use for those infernal crib mobiles.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Funky Funky (Crunchy) Baby

Although I'm feeling empathy for Caesar, I'm not nearly dead yet, although we are all snorting and coughing our way through Snotpocalypse Now, like everyone else in the northern hemisphere.

My Cesarean feelings stem from my attempt this weekend to fold up our futon frame into the less uncomfortable couch position. I have about as much chance of doing this by myself as I do of folding a railroad track in half. The frame itself is difficult, and it's not helped by the futon, which has compressed over time into the consistency of, oh, sacks of Portland cement (ha ha ha, of course I'm just kidding, for all of you who I've offered this bed to any time you're in town, ha ha ha, have you seen the couch?).

Confronted by a railroad track layered with sacks of cement, I did what any male would do when confronted with something that's stuck--I tried to force it. I did this by bending over and pulling up, which resulted in my shooting a disk or some other valuable part of my spine across the room like a hockey puck. At this point, I did what any male would do--I lay down and called in a woman to clean up the mess I had made. Mama and I got the bed folded up, even though I haven't been able to unfold myself since.

That's due in part to the stabbing, burning pain in my back as if I were Caesar meeting all his pals on the Ides of March, and they had dipped their knives in lye just before giving them to me through the kidneys.

So, does anyone have any tips for typing whilst lying flat on one's back? Yeah, I thought so...but it doesn't hurt to ask...except the twinging all down my left side every time I stretch my finger to press a key... but hey, who cares about me?

Check out 3B's Thanksgiving footage. We went to the park. A lot. It's a groovy park that I played in as a kid, so I loved being there with him. We also went on the train to The City. I would explain more and link to all the previous posts about this, but ouch. Oh, the train footage is there twice--same footage, different song, because I can. That's why. Also, one version is for the King.

And 15 Bradstein points to the first person to correctly identify all three songs.

Funky Thanksgiving in the park...

Funky Thanksgiving train ride...

Crunchy train ride (same footage as funky, but with crunchier music...Pardon me boy, is this the Terrapin Station? Track 29?)

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Oh crap

Payback's a bitch. Even though Sarah didn't call me out by name, as in, "You, Bradstein. I'm so going to kick your ass after school for tagging me with that meme that never ends! So you better be there, behind the gym, at three o'clock, to get your ass kicked!" she did sort of not-tag in my general direction.

(Sidebar: What bully ever thought that announcing the time of the ass kicking would get the victim to show up? Seriously, if someone ever said that to me, the one place I wouldn't be at that time would be the place they named.)

OK, so here's my take on the iTunes meme, even if I have been seeing it everywhere and avoiding it like that egg salad that was left on the kitchen counter all day at work. I'll do it just so Sarah doesn't unleash the Goon Squad on me...

iTunes Meme

How many total songs?
5270 songs. 14.9 days worth. (Unlike Sarah, I would run out of music before the end of Noah's flood. Dang.)

Sort by song title - First and Last…
A-Rovin - The Barquentones

3121 - Prince

Sort by Time - Shortest and Longest…
Blank Blank - LSJUMB (Google it yourself, you lazy knob)
(shortest actual song: Bonus Track - Ani DiFranco [Not a Pretty Girl])

Dinosaurs Before Dark - Mary Pope Osborne

Sort by Album - First and Last…
Achtung Baby - U2

3121 - Prince (and why does iTunes sort numbers to the bottom of the list? anyone? anyone? Bueller?)

Sort by Artist - First and Last…
Aaron Neville

50 Foot Wave

Top Five Most Played Songs…*
Massage Music, Sounds of Nature (rainfall), 3632 plays (this is the white noise that we used to loop for 3B when we were trying to make him the Happiest Baby on the Block)

Nightswimming- REM, 125 plays

Boots of Spanish Leather - Nanci Griffith, 32 plays

Rainfall Ambient Music long relaxing - Sleeping Sounds of Nature, 31 plays (this was white noise we tried, but all the sounds of nature kept 3B from sleeping...those are some loud birds and frogs)

Ideas Are Like Stars - Mary Chapin Carpenter, 26 plays

Find the following words. How many songs show up?
Sex: 18, Death: 65 , Love: 209, You: 399, Home: 32, Boy: 63, Girl: 126, Baby: 95

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle…
Memories Are Made of This - Johnny Cash

Barbara Allen - Jean Ritchie

Step into a World - KRS One

Violet - Hole

Moonraker - Shirley Bassey

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let it snow!

When parents arrive at a hospital for the delivery of a child, they should have a video camera implanted in their forehead. Otherwise, they're bound to end up like me, always ready to record historic moments--Washington crossing the Delaware, the first Thanksgiving (and the turkey fryer conflagration the ever-cautious Pilgrims created that had everyone eating venison), and 3B's first walk in the snow--but with nothing to record them with...except my phone.

Apologies, then, for the quality, but you get the general idea.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Your mom is so cool, and I'm so busted

The blogosphere is a strange place--one that can chew you up and spit you out, embrace you in a group hug, or hoover up every spare minute of your life. And it can even make you correct your grammar, or make your mother call you to correct your grammar.

Seriously folks, you don't need to sweat the commas, I turn off the editor brain after work. In fact, it's not even on all the time at work these days, since I moved on from being an editor when I took my new job. (Of course, I'm still super-scrupulous at work, and I'm not just writing that because my boss' wife reads this blog. Well, OK, maybe a little bit.)

And I do appreciate your concern for my cardiac health, but I have to say that you may have imperiled it by letting me know that your mom regularly reads the blog, L-P. Do you know how much that stressed me out? What have I written about? What words have I used...oh crap!

But nothing I've said here will rise to the level of my lunch conversation with my coworkers yesterday. We were swapping dog stories when I described how Barky had been out at Auntie Banana's house with two other dogs, and how we'd heard all about what good times he'd had and we're feeling so proud of him for being so well behaved until we got the pictures from Auntie Banana that showed him--and I quote myself here--"humping the shit out of some dog."

OK, here's the thing about me and my potty mouth--it's a binary system. There are two settings:

  • drunken sailor who's just smashed every finger with a sledgehammer
  • mouth closed
However inappropriate my description was, I don't believe that it was incorrect. I'll let you be the judge:

So, at work, I'll be the guy in the meeting with the tape over my mouth.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

South Beach Diet leads to pregnancy

Unless you want to have another ankle-biter running around your house, step away from the South Beach Diet. According to Newsweek, you can now eat your way to pregnancy. Man, I thought the SBD was supposed to help me lose weight.

I suppose it's back to Wonder Bread and Twinkies for me until it's time for 3B to have a sibling. (Well, except the Twinkies, due to the beef fat and all.)

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

We love our bush

Is it a Christmas tree...
if you're agnostic, or undeclared, or too young to vote?

What if you're in it just for the shiny lights? What if you have no chimney?

Does it matter more that it was made in China, and came in a box or that it makes you cry out, "Mo'! Mo'! Mo'! Mo'! Mo'! Mo'! Mo'!"?

Personally, I'm partial to "Hanukkah bush" as a term of choice for this wire and plastic shiny thing, partially to remind people of the mixed heritage of our family, not to mention the mixed heritage of Christmas. But it is awfully tall for a bush. Because no actual trees were harmed in the setting up of this overgrown bottle brush, perhaps I should recognize the good karma that lack of killing represents and call it a Bodhi tree...except it's not really the Bodhi Tree.

There will be time to muse on that later. For now, I'm just celebrating that we have one and it's up. In past years, we haven't put one up, since we can't have a real dead one, due to Virginia law and our building's lack of sprinklers. [Update: This isn't entirely accurate, see my comment in response to my cousin's comment.] OK, truth be told, it's also since we killed a nice potted one we have and since we go to Grammy's for a week around Christmas anyway, which means that as soon as we got around to putting it up, we'd be leaving.

This year, however, 3B has been enraptured by the trees in the airports, stores, and neighbor's windows, so we had to get one for him. Turns out that we don't mind it so much either, even if we don't know what to call it.

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Friday, November 30, 2007


If you were able to dig through everything I shoveled out in the 30 days of this year's NaBloPoMo...well, I'm not sure that I would call that a victory.

Although, there are those who say that being buried under mounds of bullshit can be invigorating, but those who say that are all worms or weeds, and I'm sure that you're neither.

At any rate, I do believe that I'm going to take a few days off, which should be as much of a relief for you as much as it is for me. However, next year I may be back at it, because as the bear says, "Blog today, tomorrow you may be eaten."

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Visions of Blackberries danced in their heads...

Who has time for the news anymore? Certainly not me. I'm too busy detailing the fascinating trivia of my life here to read the newspaper. But hey, look, it's the NYTimes on my phone--shiny! Gee, I wonder where 3B gets his "Look, a shiny thing!" instinct.

So, today the Gray Lady ran a story on what the good kids are getting for Christmakwanzukkah this year:

Technology has been slowly permeating the toy business for a number of
years, but the trend has been accelerating. On Wednesday, six of the nine
best-selling toys for 5- to 7-year-olds on were tech gadgets. For all
of 2006, three of the top nine toys for that age group were tech-related.

The trend concerns pediatricians and educators, who say excessive
screen time stifles the imagination. But more traditional toys — ones without
computer monitors, U.S.B. cables and memory cards — are seen by many children as obsolete.

“If you give kids an old toy camera, they look at you like you’re
crazy,” said Reyne Rice, a toy trends specialist for the Toy Industry
Association. Children “are role-playing what they see in society,” she

That seems to be the case even when youngsters are not old enough to
have any clue how to use actual gadgets.
That's certainly not the case in the Bradstein Household, where tonight I held a long and fascinating conversation with 3B while he was in the bath on our crayon phones. For the record, everything was sounding very green on his end of the line, although they sounded blue to me.

But I can see that coming. Even though 3B doesn't covet our phones any more than he does a crayon that he makes into a phone--or a wallet, car key, or book, all of which have also doubled for phones in a pinch--the day will surely come when we can't hand him a copy of Go, dog. Go! and tell him to place a call. Every day, he understands technology more clearly. Just today, when Mama had me talk to him on the phone from work, he said, "Hi." to me for the very first time. (Before you start gushing, he followed that up with, "Bye.")

And, despite our vows to not expose 3B to any screens until he's 2--except on planes, where I would encase him in a mini-Cinerama dome showing a Boohbah marathon, if I could--he's been exposed. Any time we pull out our phones, or look up an address on our computer while we're holding him as we head out, or sometimes just to see what his reaction is. Ms. K also shows a little TV in the early morning, although 3B's only ever seen our TV on when we've had babysitters over. So, he's been exposed to plenty of technology, but I'm still not seeing a need to buy him any toy with a screen.

Then again, one of my big problems with this article is that it often lumps kids together as a unified group when, in reality, a five-year old is a much different person than a ten-year old, and a two-year old is nothing like either one of them. So when the article talks about children behaving in a particular way, it's hard to tell exactly which children they're speaking of. And it is the case that pediatricians generally agree that limited TV after a certain age probably won't do much damage to a kid's imagination, creativity, and intelligence. All of this makes it hard to determine from this article just what is best for parents to do this Christmakwanzukkah season.

But, I think that until 3B is at least able to hold a fork without sticking it in his eye once during a whole meal, that all of this tech is a little beyond him. Besides, he's still at that age where he can make it all up on his own--which brings me back to my Aunt M's point of view about exposure and acquisition. She was talking about boys and guns, but the point generalizes nicely to most tech toys; Aunt M simply asked, "How can you keep kids away from "playing guns" when they can make one out of a stick, a flower stem, their finger, or any other object? And why buy gun toys for them when they're just going to make them out of their fingers anyway?" I feel about the same way in regards to these tech toys--there's no way to keep kids away from technology entirely, short of becoming Amish, and why buy them iPhones when all they really need is a board book spray painted black?

After all, some of my favorite toys from my childhood were toy phones, TVs, and radios, all of which were high tech for the day. I have vivid, fond memories of getting to play with 45s on a small, kids phonograph, which was about as cool as iPods, back in the day. So, it's not like we're the first generation of parents to confront the intersection of tech and toys, although I don't know if the answers about this junction have become any more clear over time.

How about you? Will Christmakwanzukkah bring a new laptop to every tiny, outstretched hand in your household? Or will it be simpler toys...wooden blocks? Fire trucks? Doll house? Lawn darts?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The last of eight days this week

We're watching an episode of NOVA about chimpanzees, and I think that my son might be a bonobo. I'm basing this conclusion on the similarity between bonobos' shrieks and the high-pitched squeals that 3B unleashes when he's unhappy, excited, bored, checking out his lungs, or seeing how high he can make us jump.

3B shares a similarity with one particular monkey whose life is typically calm until a situation develops to the point that someone observes "But George was curious." That curiosity is what leads 3B to look over his shoulder as he climbs atop Barky's crate, or bangs on our windows with his wooden blocks, or presses his fingers into an electrical outlet--he wants to see what our reaction will be, if we will again tell him, in his words, "No. No. No. Don't. Don't. Don't."

I have a similar curiosity about all of you--what is your reaction will be when I tag you with this infernal meme, which is the equivalent of climbing onto your roof, banging on your windows with blocks, and jamming your fingers into an outlet.

I'm sure that as you read this, the last entry in this meme, and you either see or don't see your own name in it, you'll become unhappy, excited, or bored enough to shriek. Here's hoping that you find your lungs to be strong and clear, and my apologies to anyone close to you.

Eight People Who Should Do This Meme and Not Complain:

  1. Anthromama--because with two kids, a busy husband, and a busy freelance career, she really needs one more thing--or eight more--to do.
  2. Back to Me--because Barky is Mr. November and a cover boy for the YAH calendar, and his irresistible cuteness is supporting this good cause of hers.
  3. Family of Choice--because Bacchus was upset that I didn't come see him when I was in The City, so he could spread his plague to me (not to worry, I got one from someone else, but thanks for the offer).
  4. Life Is Just So Daily--OK, Lainey-Painey doesn't deserve this at all, but I love hearing what she has to say.
  5. Metrodad--because he won't do it anyway--as if he needs an excuse to write--but how much fun would it be to buy him a bottle of scotch and let him loose on this list? Or just buy him a bottle of scotch and let him loose?
  6. Sarah and the Goon Squad--because she kicked my ass in Fantasy Football--as did everyone else in the league.
  7. Vampdaddy--actually, I'd be satisfied with eight different music lists from him, or a list of his 64 favorite songs.
  8. Zygote Daddy--because he needs to post more know, in his copious spare time.
Start shrieking, monkeys.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This ain't no haiku, y'all

Friend in town for one night only.
Parents who get buzzed on two beers and whose normal adult social skills have atrophied after 16 months of conversations consisting of "Ba ba. Moo moo. Dada. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Ba ba."
Gratuitous cuteness, courtesy of Sister #1:

A bird! A plane! Or, more likely, his Mama, a lovie, or some food. [Update: Sister #1 is right--see her comment--it was the swings. The swings that 3B never tired of, the swings that gave us all swinger's elbow, the swings that inspired the title of our next video short: 3B swings eternally.]

Oh, we aren't taking our shoes off and making ourselves comfortable on BART? Are you sure?

More coherence,
and vindictive tagging of the deserving with this infernal meme.
Good night, Gracie.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm not quick, but I'm slow too.

As my six regular readers know, I'm a moron who is pretty much incapable of learning from my past. Or even remembering it.

However, with the help of a brief review of my own blog--holy crap, I'm a minister!--I was able to remember...

Eight Things I Have Learned This Past Year (part of a continuing series)

  1. I suck as a Fantasy Football coach. Actually, I have no idea how good I could be if I spent more time on it...which I plan to do next year, if only to make BBM suffer the same kind of ignominious defeat that I did at her hands this year.
  2. Having a whole bottle of milk vomited on my face isn't as bad as it sounds. It helps that Sister #1 cleaned up the stairs, but seriously, mostly I was concerned about 3B and hoping that MetroDad found a way to get rid of that smell.
  3. I can survive my child going through surgery. May I never have to again.
  4. I can't sing Moses Supposes or Forever Young too many times for 3B, and I can sing them all night if he needs me to.
  5. Good friends may move away, but they never leave me. Sort of like gum on my shoe. Unlike old gum, my friends know when they are needed, and show up right on time, as if they read ahead in the script.
  6. If there were no music then I would not get through.
  7. I'll never fathom the depths of my family's love, which will continue to humble me through all the days of my life.
  8. And one that I learn every year: The best lessons are worth learning several times.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Make it stop!

Mama suggested that the first two items on this list should be nice asses and big boobs, but I'm overruling that. I am, however, enlisting her help in writing this entry, which is in keeping with the list itself, since Mama is the best friend I could ever hope for. In fact, she's better than I could ever hope for or than I'll ever deserve.

In fact, she observed that it's easier to list all the traits I don't like about people than it is to list all the traits I do. I guess that means that one of the items on her version of this list would be "Whiners. Kvetchers. Bellyachers."

Eight Things that Attract Me to My Best Friends

According to Mama, I like people who are...

  1. Funny.
  2. Witty, as in intelligent. Or even sarcastic--that's a surprise, huh?
  3. Laid back, without a lot of drama, who are calm.
  4. Open minded. Unless their opinions are wrong, in which case, why should I waste my time on them? But seriously, Mama said this goes along with people who can see that the world is a big place, are willing to see beyond their own perspective and situation, and who are able to see the world from outside their own box.
  5. Not too serious about themselves, and willing to laugh at themselves.
  6. Willing to make an effort, because I'm not willing to make much of an effort to socialize.
  7. Kind and patient.
  8. Not crazy.
And while we're speaking of friends, what did I ever do to you, Black Belt Mama? Why did you attempt to break my soul tag me with this infernal endless meme? When will it end?!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's been seven hours and fifteen days

Mama and I are both so tired that we're both dizzy right now, so we're following 3B's lead and getting straight into bed without passing Go, without collecting $200, and without another installment of the 8 days a week meme.

Today's flights--Mom's home to Denver, Denver to our home--took about seven hours. The time passed so quickly, we were both amazed when they announced our final descent; it seemed like we should have many more hours ahead of us.

Then we had to take the shuttle bus to long-term parking. All I can say is, thank goodness for grandparents. Without the two sets of them just inside the rear door who moved their bags and themselves to make room for us, we would have never gotten on that bus. I suppose the Thanksgiving spirit dies some time on Friday, in the midst of consumerist mayhem in the malls.

Standing in the rear bus doorway, holding onto our big suitcase, our stroller, and our car seat, rolling and bouncing around turns, while Mama tried to hold onto a bucking, squirming, slithering 3B until we got all the way through the parking lot to Stop 15 made that bus ride seem to last years. Why is it always the way that the first 90 percent is never as tiring as the last 10 percent of a trip?

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Major collision in the back yard! Dump trucks! Bulldozer! Steam Shovels!

To escape the destruction and chaos in the backyard, we went to the park that we've visited at least once a day since arriving. 3B celebrates arrival at the park with a happy dance, and today, departure was marked with a short time sitting on a tree branch, which was partly done to distract 3B from the final departure from the swings.

When we got home, 3B had to call in the authorities to clear the wreckage from the backyard.

The crash was all over the TV news...reported by Mary and her little lamb.

And this is what it looked like from the news helicopter...

Oh, the humanity!

To comfort ourselves in this difficult time, we've been listening to...

Eight Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over Again (although this is far from a comprehensive list, this is part of a continuing series)

  1. Such Great Heights
  2. Song for My Father
  3. Starship Trooper
  4. Wish You Were Here
  5. Willin'
  6. Heaven (Talking Heads--live version from Stop Making Sense)
  7. Verdi Cries
  8. Forever Young (Dylan)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks for the memories

Dude, could I date myself any more than giving this post the title of a Bob Hope song that I remember from watching his TV specials? Maybe I could claim that I only remember it from when we played it for BoHo when he and DoHo would make their annual trip to the Palm Springs Follies, but I fear that starting Thanksgiving off with a lie is bad karma, and I'll end up choking on the wishbone from my Tofurkey and end up in the hospital.

While we're talking about Tofurkey, is anyone else with me on the name of this product? The first time we were walking through Whole Foods and Mom quickly turned to me and Mama and asked if we liked Tofurkey, I thought that our conversation might have just taken a unexpectedly intimate turn. In my defense, we were living in Colorado at the time, where tofu, much less Tofurkey, was about as common as Volkswagens on the moon.

Still, once I figured out what Mom was talking about--although not until after she'd asked if Mama and I wanted to try Tofurkey right there in the store...uh, what now?--I still thought the name was a bad idea. Imagine being a little drunk-lecsic at the Thanksgiving table and asking someone to pass the...what the !$#@ what that stuff called again?...and imagine what words might come out of your mouth.

Oh well, I suppose it's not as bad as a chicken fricassee spoonerism.

So, other than not having Tofurkey on the table to embarrass myself with, what am I thankful for this year? Most of all, I'm thankful for family. Yes, it's a bit of a hackneyed sentiment, but I'm thankful for family this year in ways that I don't think I could have been in years past. A lot of that has to do with two events, one bad, one good. The bad one was Mom's death, which brought the renewed recognition that our time here is limited. The good one was 3B's birth, which renews my faith in the future and my fellow travelers daily.

As for 3B, I'm not sure what he's thankful for, although I'll take some guesses, based on recent activities...

3B might well be thankful that his Papa survived long enough to be his Papa, despite riding in this car seat. And let's not even get started on riding in the back of the VW bus in the portacrib, which his Papa also did.

I suspect that 3B is also thankful for all of the fun toys at Grandmother's house. Even if she isn't hear to watch him take delight in them, he must know that she saved them for him and her other grandchildren to enjoy.

Do I need to explain how thankful 3B was this morning to have such fun boxcars to play in?

They're so fun, you can steer them even if the wheel's not connected.

Then there are the toys that Mama and I aren't sure about the safety of, like this Mormon Stepford family with the angry boy, happy dog with the spiked collar...

...and the wicked comb-over.

In addition to family, I'm also thankful for all of my virtual friends who share their laughter, their families, and their support with me through the innernets. This includes Black Belt Mama, despite her burdening tagging me with a meme. This installment of the meme is supposed to be something about books, but since I haven't read any books longer than Go, Dog! Go! recently, I'm going with...

Eight Blogs I'm Most Thankful For (after Sister #1 and Brother#2's blogs)

  1. Anthromama, for her calm, steady, reasonable, non-confrontational voice.
  2. Back to Me, for reading and supporting me for no particular reason at all--nothing like a little validation from afar.
  3. BBM, even if she did stomp me flat in Fantasy Football (although I suspect she rigged my lineup to do that), and saddle tag me with this meme.
  4. Hygiene Chronicles--Steve and Larry are the best uncles 3B could ever hope for, outside of family. Each time they've seen him, they've showered him with fun gifts--they've got this uncle thing down flat.
  5. Life is Just So Daily, for all the laughs (and a few good cries).
  6. MetroDad, for all the laughs (and the insomnia empathy).
  7. Vampdaddy, for showing me that it's OK to open up and show the mess and the hurt and the love and the perfection of parenting.
  8. Zygote Daddy. A NoCal expat with a big beautiful baby boy and a dear wife who's as smart as a whip...what's not to love?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Say what?

On Monday, we headed into The City--for those of you who aren't Left Coasters, that's San Francisco, not NYC. We traveled via car and BART--for those of you who aren't local to The City, that's the local light rail system, which is more similar to DC's Metro than NYC's subway, although the skankiness level across all three is about the same, even though none of them can be as bad as the cabbage roll at the Terre-Haute Federal Penn.

3B had a good time exploring BART with his cousin D and his aunts (Sisters # 1 and 2). He didn't have such a good time with Mama and Papa, who were constantly after him to put his shoe back on, put his sock back on, wipe his nose, put his shoe back on, get up off the floor, don't lick the seats, put his shoe back on, don't lick the floor, hold on, and put his shoe back on. As you can tell from Sister #1's pictures, his reactions were a cross between "What are you talking about?" and "You're not talking to me, are you?"

We did eventually arrive in The City, which stopped Mama and Papa from saying all of those things. "Don't lick the floor." became "Don't lick the sidewalk." It also allowed 3B to regain control of the situation, commanding his well-trained parents to march him up and down the stairs 1,637 times--Ms. K did recently observe, somewhat wryly, that "3B does like his repetitions."

At least the trips were fast; as you can see from the picture, 3B doesn't believe in taking stairs one step at a time. You know, some kids learn to get both feet on one step before going up or down to the next one, in part because their legs are too short to alternate feet. But who is 3B to let peer pressure, or biology, get in the way of his development?

After some delicious lunch, topped off with Nutella crepes, all eaten outside by the Bay, we were all sufficiently tired and happy on the way home, to the point that 3B fell asleep on BART. Mama and I were certainly tired after our Stairmaster workout, and I'm sure that 3B was exhausted from ignoring our repeated exhortations.

But hey, repetition is how he learns, right? At least that's what I tell myself, so I have hope that one day he'll learn, and I won't have to say, "Don't lick the sidewalk." If repetition is how 3B learns, here are some things he'll definitely learn quickly.

(5 Bradstein points to whoever correctly identifies the movie reference.)

Eight Things I Say Often (part of a continuing series):

  1. "Dude." (Dude! Who doesn't say dude, like, all the time, dude? Duuude.)
  2. "Anny anny ooo."
  3. "Where's your shoe?"
  4. "Crate, Barky. Crate. Barky, crate. Crate. Barky...crate." (The gesture that goes with this is my arm extended with my finger pointing at his crate--one of the first gestures that 3B mastered, much to Barky's chagrin.)
  5. "I love you." (To Mama or 3B any time we say goodbye.)
  6. "Where's your shoe?"
  7. "What was I saying?"
  8. "Don't lick that."

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pieces of Eight

We had to spend a few pieces of eight for breakfast this morning, but it's always worth it for the BDBIT (Best Darn Breakfast in Town--for those keeping score at home: eggs scrambled, cranberry coffeecake). The smiley faces were free, both the one on the plate, made from bananas, strawberries, grapes and whipped cream--one more reason to love Hobee's--and the smiley face on 3B as he devoured the one on the plate.

So, that's one thing that we don't usually get...actually three things at once: a meal out, a meal out with 3B, and a meal with Sister #1. Not only that, but the baby boy didn't cry, scream, or throw anything, and neither did 3B. It helps that they kept my coffee cup full.

Another thing that we don't usually get is the chance for a hot date, but tonight Sisters #1 and 2 bathed 3B and put him in bed, so Mama and I went out to a movie. OK, so perhaps Love in the Time of Cholera isn't exactly a hot date, but still, it was a movie, and for a couple of hours, we were transported away, with each other.

That means that we can cross those two events off our list of things to do before we die, but here are eight other unfinished tasks to continue this week's meme.

Eight Things I Want to Do Before I Die:

  1. Develop patience for others and myself.
  2. Maintain a regular Buddhist practice.
  3. Travel again with Mama and 3B, and not just home for the holidays, but trips like the one we fell in love on, which took us throughout Spain and Morocco.
  4. See 3B grow up to be happy.
  5. Speak Spanish fluently.
  6. Follow le Tour through France.
  7. Remember how to relax.
  8. Become immortal.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Eight days a week

Because she kicked my ass in Fantasy Football, and because she's all, like, famous and stuff, and because there are eight days in a week, I'm going to complete this meme that Black Belt Mama tagged me with.

But I'm going to do it the same way that Johnny Cash built his Cadillac--one piece at a time--which is why it's good that there are eight days in a week, because there are eight pieces of this meme.

If you want to see what we're doing, check out Sister #1's blog. She's got pictures of us and everything, because she's good like that. She's also good like picking us up at the airport after going grocery shopping for us, so the house was fully stocked when we arrived.

Eight Things I am Passionate About (in no particular order):

  1. Cycling. Love it. Just like those guys who run out onto the street at halftime to play a quick three-on-three, I identify with the pros when I'm pedaling up a mountain, or carving down the backside of it, or stretching out on a six-hour ride. There's something about the freedom and the adventure of cycling myself, and the mystique of cycling races over mythical cols.
  2. Bullies. Hate 'em. This probably has to do with getting my ass kicked by them in elementary school for no reason except my proximity to them.
  3. The Western U.S. Love it. I love the minutiae of the vast deserts, the emptiness of the massive mountains, and the solitude of the big, dark-timber woods. I love the spirit of adventure, innovation, and the sense of being on a journey that inhabits most denizens of the West.
  4. Cancer. Hate it. It killed Dad when I was 16, and I've never forgiven it.
  5. 3B. Love him. Do I need to explain?
  6. Sloth. Hate it. Hm. Perhaps hate is too strong a word here. I just don't understand it. At least, not now that I'm no longer a teenager. But, even then, when I finally woke up, I was pretty busy. I don't know about idle hands being the devil's playground, perhaps because my hands never seem to be idle for long enough for me to find out, which is a blessing and a curse.
  7. Politics. Love it. Love watching the give and take, the debates, and getting into the argy-bargy myself. However, as I age, I can see more and more subtle shades of gray; I've become less dogmatic, although I don't always let that show.
  8. Music. Love it. I can't sing, and I can't dance, so I'm forever grateful to those who can and do, expressing for me what I would love to, but can't. When I'm scraping up the dog food from the kitchen floor, humming Johnny Cash, I'm thankful. And when James Taylor, or Van Halen, or the Postal Service make my son smile and dance with joy, I'm thankful.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let's do the time warp again...

When traveling across multiple time zones, there are several ways to reset your clock, such as gradually adjusting to the new time zone in the days leading up to your trip, but this isn't always easy to do with two busy parents and an active toddler like 3B. Knowing this, 3B took matters into his own hands and stayed awake for 11 hours, through the trip to the airport, the first flight, the layover, the second flight, and almost the drive home from the airport.

As a result, he wasn't up at 3:30 this morning, thankfully. However, 3B's clock resetting method does have some glitches, like failing to account for nap time, which he's currently spending chatting away to himself. That's not bad, and in fact, it's much better than this morning's nap time, all 15 minutes of which he spent screaming, snotting, and coughing, until we finally got him.

You'd think that after 11 straight waking hours with us yesterday, he would want at least a little time away, even though he never did get whiny, cranky, or fussy during the whole trip. And that was despite his running nose and our running no's:

  • No kicking the seat in front of you.
  • No making calls on the cell phone in the seat in front of you.
  • No iPod in the mouth.
  • No eating the seat cushion.
  • No licking the carpet.
It was 3B's consistent no-worries attitude that was the biggest lesson for me--despite coming into the trip sick and sleep deprived, and then being shoehorned into jam packed planes for cross-country flights and not sleeping for another half day, he showed us what a graceful traveler looks like. I'll try to remember that the next time I'm tempted to whine about this or that inconvenience, although old habits are hard to break.

[Update: 3B never did take a nap today. We ended up getting him after his second "nap" and taking him to the park, where he ran, slid, danced, and swung (Cuyahoga...) to his heart's content.]

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