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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