Friday, January 25, 2008

A place in the world

When I picked up 3B at Ms. K's yesterday, she and I were talking about how his day went. I was enjoying watching him walk around and amuse himself as Ms. K and I chatted, which is quite a change from just a month ago, when he would need to leave as soon as possible after I arrived. Mornings are so different now too. On the way over, he'll talk a little bit about the other kids...OK, he says their names and "Play." and "Fun." but it's much different than the silent, sullen trips we used to make to Ms. K's.

When we arrive, it's so much nicer as well. 3B walks right on back to where she has the other kids in their high chairs for breakfast, and lets Ms. K put him up in his chair. As soon as he's in there, the little boy who just turned one starts pulling on 3B's tray, pulling himself closer to 3B. 3B takes the boy's hand off of his tray, but then reaches over and pulls the boy's chair closer himself. Kids...go figure. They go back and forth like this for awhile, while the big girl, who 3B plays with all day, looks on and laughs from her chair. Again, much better than the screaming, clinging drop offs that I used to make.

As Ms. K and I watched 3B amuse himself, she was telling me about all of his activities, especially about his books and his words. She's always surprised at how much he likes books with so many words--the originial Curious George stories are big favorites these days--and will sit still for them. As for words, there are so many, including colors and vehicles. "Yellow. Taxi." is a big favorite. "Thank you." is another of his favorite new phrases. He uses it appropriately, every chance he gets (I swear 3B gets online when we're not looking and reads up on what the Peanut is doing.) But that's just the latest phrase; as Ms. K said, his new words "just come tumbling out." She said even in the week since she's last seen him, she was surprised at how many new words he had picked up. Not that Mama and I talk a lot or anything.

Ms. K went through all of the things they talked about today. "We especially talked about the farm--the barn, the tractor, the cows, the hay, and Pete." Oh lord yes. If it's anything like our conversations here, the ones about his Uncle Pete, who takes him for tractor rides, are a bit one-sided:

3B: Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete!

Papa: I could box you up and send you off to him, if you'd like.
3B: Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete!

Papa: Seriously, dude.
And I don't think that 3B would mind that much. He loves the farm. He loves his uncles who all have trucks ("Truck! Truck! Truck! Truck! Truck! Truck! Truck!") and take him on tractor rides and show him cows and take him for walks anywhere he wants to go and throw him up in the air. And why shouldn't he? It's where his Grammy went to school in a one-room schoolhouse, up on Bump Hill. It's where he goes to see his Great Grammy. It's where Mama and Papa were married. It's where the Bradsteins go to run free--even Barky gets to go without a leash on the farm.

None of us know where 3B will end up in this world, but I do know that for now, for 3B the farm is the place, his place in the world. And why not? Better to have a place, even if far removed, than to have none. None of us knows what we've got 'til it's gone, 'til we hear that screen door slam and we hear the car drive away with our old man...perhaps except the children, fully present in every moment in their worlds. They know what they've got now, before it's gone, they know that this must be the place, they know that this is their place in the world...

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

There is a party. Everyone is there.

According to one of my favorite songs, "heaven is a place where nothing ever happens." It's where the band "plays my favorite song. They play it once again, they play it all night long."

According to 3B, however, heaven is a small island, criss-crossed with enough train tracks and anthropomorphic locomotives to make Casey Jones shiver with antici...pation just thinking about it. It's ruled over by a benevolent god, Sir Topham Hatt, who has seen fit to share some of the wealth outside of his realm by licensing replicas of elements of heaven.

And who could turn down officially licensed replicas of heaven, like their very own...or their friend's very own...Thomas the Tank Engine to ride on? Not 3B, that's for sure, as you can see below.

I shot this at a friend's first birthday party. These are both friends of 3B's from daycare...OK, as an aside, should I be concerned that in the past two months, 3B has been invited to more birthday parties than I have been in the last five years? I suppose not, since 3B

  • acts his age.
  • dresses to match the theme, even if it's unannounced.
  • doesn't spill his drinks.
Whatever it is that gets 3B in the door--I prefer to believe that it's his natural charm and cuteness, which he got from Mama--once he's there, he knows exactly what to do. It helped that the guest of honor was turning one, and therefore unable to really ride on Thomas.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm an HP widower

The first time Mama tried to read Harry Potter was at the height of the early craze, when she worked at the local bookstore in the small town we lived in. Unfortunately, she started reading right as she had her wisdom teeth pulled, and so was either too doped up or in too much pain to get very far. I tried to read them to her, but she kept ending up going to sleep on me.

Around Christmas last year, however, she somehow found the time to get started again. Ever since she got back on that crack, I've had plenty of me time around the house, during which I've been catching up on fun back projects like clearing out file archives so I don't have to pole vault into bed, picking up toys, and wall mounting our new flat screen TV.

I've also found some time for some projects that really are fun, like piecing together some of our back catalog of video clips. As I've been working on that--and you'll see the director's cut edition of the results of those labors later this week--I've tried to keep up on some of the more recent footage I've shot, like this little bit about our trip to the historic and impressive National Building Museum...

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

If your child loves your friends...

...and one of your friends is an excellent photographer, as one of ours is, you might end up with a photo like this after a dinner with them...

Oh, c'mon, click through to see the full-size version. It's worth it.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

3B flies in his helicopter

Santastein did extensive Christmakwanzukkah shopping at Amazon this year and found many great gifts for 3B.

Perhaps none were more exciting than this helicopter, which 3B flies in through our house. (Like his oldest cousin, 3B already had the goggles to go with this gift.)

You can see the body of the helicopter a little more clearly here...

If you believe it bears a striking resemblance to his tractor, you'd be right. It's sort of the James Bond car/boat/helicopter/tractor Swiss Army knife of vehicles.

Even better, its power source is very green. Vegetarian, in fact.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

2008 Theme - Because I'm too old to have to remember anything

You’ll never get mixed up if you simply tell the truth. Then you don’t have to remember what you have said, and you never forget what you have said.
In trying to determine my theme for 2008, I considered many options:
  • Think different.
  • The audacity of poop.
  • Think outside the bun.
  • What. Ever.
I finally settled on something a little more boring and difficult:
Although I'm the worst judge of my own behavior, I feel that I'm mostly honest in word, but I don't feel that my deeds are always so honest, by which I mean that I don't always act in a manner that's true to my own beliefs. Like most parents, I can see these discrepancies crop up in my child--his quick frustration, his stubbornness, and his desire for an Aston Martin, despite his not making nearly enough money to afford one.

In the upcoming year, I'd like to bring my actions into closer alignment with what I hold to be my character. Part of the reason for this is certainly to be a better role model for 3B. To borrow a phrase, I'd like to be the change in this world that I want him to see. But part of it is for me--I'd like to stop working against myself by doing things like having a hissy fit if so much as a mote of cigarette smoke gets near 3B, but painting our walls with high-VOC paint.

Specifically, I'm going to work to make my actions
  • healthy
  • compassionate
  • fearless
  • fun
I'm not completely sure how this theme will manifest itself, but to remind myself of my pledge, and as a physical manifestation of my ability to keep a promise to myself, I'm stealing an idea from Manic Mommies' life coach: I'm going to clear off my bedside table and keep it clear for the remainder of the year.

If I cared enough to figure it out, I'd set up a webcam so you could watch my bedside table year round to check out how honest I was. But also, in keeping with this honesty theme, I'm honestly pretty sure nobody but me really cares enough to watch my bedside table for a year. But, if you do, here's a photo of it that you can stare at for the next 365 days.

Other than drinking only organic gin, distilled by well-compensated employees who receive excellent benefits, without regard for the state of my liver, and with a smile on my face--what are your ideas for how my honesty theme should manifest itself?

Oh, and if anyone knows what that key goes to, please let me know.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

High Resolutions

"One: Consider the probable reality that all time is simultaneous."
--Single Gun Theory

When I was maybe 17, I rang in the new year at a friend's house. He was a year or two older than us, and his mom was at the party, roughly supervising, so we were feeling all mature and worldly. Despite our wisdom past our years, we did run out of wine for the wine coolers--hey, what can I say? it was the 80's--which led me to replace it with another cold alcoholic beverage: vodka.

Those drinks led me under the kitchen table, where I have a vague memory of my friend Mary lifting up my head and putting a bowl under it. There was also the horking in my best friend's car and the 24-hour dry heaves on his bathroom floor all through January 1. He finally took me home, propped me up by the front door, rang the bell, and backed away, not really wanting to see Mom's reaction.

Mom wasn't angry at him, however, just at me. She was smart like that. And I can see now why she was angry. However, at the time I was a teenager, so after I recovered from the alcohol poisoning, I was more embarrassed than scared that I'd almost fatally poisoned myself. It helps that everyone reminded me of it for weeks afterward with questions like, "Papa Bradstein? I heard you were dead."

That year, my one new year's resolution was to quit drinking. And that is the only year that I successfully kept my resolution...up until that 4th of July softball party on the Stanford golf course, when we ended up on the observatory roof, passing a bottle of tequila around. I will say that not only did we all make it safely off the golf course before the sprinklers came on, but we also all made it safely home that night without any barfing.

But I digress again...the point is that after learning that not even near-death experiences can motivate me to keep my resolutions, I gave up on them. Resolutions, that is, not near-death experiences, although I am trying to cut back on those too. This year, however, Mama has decided that rather than making a resolution, she's going to have a theme for the upcoming year: balance.

I love that theme, and not just because balance is a good way to keep the olives from flipping out of the glass onto the floor, where Barky will lick them, then gag and cough all over them, forcing me back to the fridge to get more.
"Four: All limitations are self-imposed."

And if I pick a theme, I can also toss out my draft list of resolutions:
  1. Stop writing self-incriminating blog posts.
  2. Stop talking about poop.
  3. To thine own self be true, starting with keeping all of Bacchus's new year's promises, several of SpainDad's, and one of Vampdaddy's (see #7, because #1 isn't going to happen).
  4. Get a new chain for my steel steed and reaquaint myself with the Novocaine Effect, the Frozen Glove Mucus Effect, and the Genital Numbness Ambiguity Effect.
  5. Send out our holiday cards before we have to print a Valentine's Day message on them.
What about you, my six faithful readers? Any resolutions? Any that you've already broken? Any themes? Anyone resolved not to make any resolutions? Any good ideas for a theme for my year--just kidding, of course; I did pick one.

Monday: my theme. (15 bonus Bradstein points if you guess it before I post it.)

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gay fire cat plays hockey

Ever since I outed Pickles, I've been following his career, in part because I feel responsible for it--and because he's responsible for some of the traffic to my blog.

My outing of Pickles is the number three result on Google searches for "pickles the fire cat," and any time I check what search terms people are using to find this blog, some variation of "pickles the fire cat" is near the top of the list.

I guess it's no surprise that Pickles has taken advantage of this new found fame to restart his career. This cat of many hats is still wearing a helmet, but this time he's wearing a hockey helmet, playing for my own local team.

Now, I've really got to make it to a game this season.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hump Day Quickies

$5,000 for two smoking Tatas from India
What the--? Someone figured out how to outsource boob jobs? No, a Tata is an Indian car, you pervert. And they're going to be selling them for $2,500. For that price, you get a deathtrap that will warm the globe faster than it will get you to your destination, but they're so cheap that you can buy them in pairs, and leave the first one on the side of the road when it falls apart and switch to the second one. No word on whether or not they come with the standard Yugo accessory set: two wire coat hangers--one for the antenna and one to hold the muffler on. That might be the deluxe model.

375,000 square foot apartment, entirely furnished by IKEA for rent--FREE!
I'd rather do what I do for a living than be a ticket taker, even for the Colbert Report, but then again, there are perks to a more fluid lifestyle, like getting to live in an IKEA for a week for free. OK, one small downside--all the appliances are fake. But, as 3B found out this weekend, the upside to that is that those are computers any toddler can bang on play with as long as he likes. The toddler downside, however, is that the shower doesn't work...

My name is IKEA, and I come from a long line of chefs
I believe that I may have finally recovered from this weekend, which started at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning, when 3B stood up in his crib and started calling out for Hot for Teacher.

Dude, you're killing me.

No, he doesn't stand up, wave his lighter in the air, and yell, "Hot for Teacher! Play Hot for Teacher! We want Hot for Teacher! Eddieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" He does stand up and chant, "Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum." Rather than take this as a commentary on our intelligence, we've learned to interpret this as a call for drums, thanks in part to 3B's flailing hand gestures toward the computer, from whence said drums come.

But, dude, at 5:30 on Saturday morning? Van Halen? Are you kidding?

See, we were planning on you sleeping in, as you've been doing, until 7:30 or so, and having a leisurely day. Sunday was going to be our early and busy day, when we planned to snatch you up as soon as you awoke, feed you, coffee ourselves, walk you and Barky, and get to IKEA as soon as they opened to get you a little table to color, eat, and play at.

Fortunately for your future art career, we were smart enough to nap while you did on Saturday, so we could still take you to that playplace known as IKEA, which you ruled like the king you are:

Shopping at IKEA

Seriously, this would make bathtime so much easier--no more bending over and no more protests when we dry your hair--we could just lay out out on the drying rack with the bottles and nipples:

Shopping at IKEA

And seriously, mornings would be much easier if Sarah would just agree to an arranged marriage with Claudia, who could serenade 3B with all the drums he wants early in the morning while Mama and Papa sleep.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

May all your dreams be realized

Y'all gave wonderful feedback to Samantha about sleeping and feeding and diaper changes and waking up and aaaaaagh! what the hell are we doing?!...and I never responded, even though I had plenty to say...of course.

Seriously, though, many of you brought up points that I'd forgotten about or skipped over. So, quickly, some things I forgot to say...

Never change a diaper unless there's poop in it. Never. I cannot stress this enough.

Christy talked about cosleeping, which we also did. (Speaking of sleep, go over to Christy's blog to share a little love with her. She's just had her 2nd baby, and sleep isn't coming easily, when it comes at all.) We started off trying to have 3B stay in his bassinet all night. Then, we would start him there, but have him fall asleep next to Mama after one of his feedings in the night, and then we just had him start off the night in bed with us. Actually, he would often start in our bed without us.

We would lace up 3B's swaddle tighter than a football is stitched, move all the blankets and pillows into another zip code, then Mama would nurse him and leave him there, monitor beside him. We would check on him every 10 minutes or so, even though we practically had the monitor embedded in our ears, nervous that he would roll over. The truth was, he couldn't roll over and wasn't inclined to roll over for quite some time. Doing this allowed us some freedom to pursue activities other than nursing, changing diapers, or doing laundry. Activities like eating.

When we went in to sleep next to him, I was initially quite nervous about rolling onto him. It turns out that I was so nervous about it that the only problem I had was getting enough sleep. I would curl myself around on the edge of the bed in a crescent, wide around 3B, so that even if I did roll over, I still wouldn't be near him--a king bed helps with this maneuver. But I was never deep enough in sleep that I didn't know when I was moving. Often, I would twitch or shift a foot and bolt wide awake, thinking, "Ohmigod, a dingo ate my baby" only to realize that he was still two feet away from me.

However, only you know how you sleep, and what your comfort level is, so you'll have to decide for yourself about cosleeping. For us, however, it was one of the best ways for Mama to get sleep. She sleeps so lightly, and is so in tune with 3B, that she was never scared about rolling on top of him, and not having to get 3B back into his bassinet made it that much easier for Mama and 3B to get back to sleep.

However, as Lainey-Painey points out, there are many tragic cosleeping accidents every year, although from what I gather, many of them involve alcohol or drugs. On the flip side, there are also many cultures in which cosleeping is the norm.

As for Henitsirk's question about intimate relations between parents who cosleep--by the time we were rested enough to remember the activities that got us into this situation in the first place, we'd moved 3B into his crib in his room. We were like Sister #1 in moving 3B into his own room pretty quickly, which worked out well for everyone, although it took installing a video monitor for Mama to be completely comfortable with it. In fact, the video monitor turned out to often be better than having him in the bassinet or bed next to us, since we could see more clearly why he was crying, and we were more likely to give him a chance to sort things out and get back to sleep on his own.

As for what Kangamoo (Sister #2) wrote...yes, you have to do what works for you and your baby. Speaking of which, oddly enough, Mama's first nephew also slept in a drawer at first, just as my first nephew did. They both made it out of their drawers--Mama's nephew is a thriving preteen, and mine just survived his 21st birthday. I also think that we're lucky with 3B like Kangamoo was with her #2. We once told another parent that 3B's bedtime routine is a bath, some books, a bottle, toothbrushing, and then we lay him down.

They stared at us blankly and then asked, "What do you do then?"

"What do you mean?"

"After you lay him down for the first time--what do you do then?"

"We enjoy our evening while he sleeps. Why?"

Fortunately for us, they were too tired to strangle us.

Then again, they say each one is different, so the next one might be colicky, as Mama was. And if you're wondering what I was like as a baby, and before you ask my sisters, Mom noted that I was perfectly happy in my playpen most of the day when I was 16 months old. I can't say quite the same about Mama, who was once found on top of the stove at 2 a.m. Still, I try not to laugh when Mama complains about her little spiderman, even if I know that's not coming from my side of the double helix.

And the truth is that 3B has been different at every stage of his life, and even as quickly as from one day to the next, so I second what both my sisters, and others, said--flexibility is the only routine that will succeed regularly.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Stock up for global warming

When we were at Grammy's for Christmas, we did a little bit of shopping, including a visit to the local hardware store, where Mama's mom picked up a sled for Aunt D. While we were there, I noticed this:

Plastic Snow

Which seemed like an odd product to stock when the world outside looked like this:


Then again, it's never to early to stock up for global warming.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Christmas comes but once, twice, three times a year

When we got home, 3B got a small, but delightful, second Christmas, courtesy of his Aunt Sister #1 and my unwillingness to haul his mulching mower to Grammy's farm. (Since then, Mama has showed 3B how to fill his mower's gas tank with a sippy cup. So now, in addition to mulching all of our carpets with his mower, he periodically stands over it, cup in hand, saying, "Glug, glug, glug.")

Thanks to Aunt Sister #2 and my Aunt S., cousin J., and cousin E. (who designed my Christmas banner--keep refreshing the page, it'll come around) and 3B's lackadaisical attitude about tearing paper off of gifts, 3B got a third Christmas last night. It was a Christmas full of packing peanuts, great books, packing peanuts, all the Christmas videos a boy could want, and packing peanuts. Peanuts! Peanuts! Peanuts! Peanuts!

Christmas time!

Did I mention that the boy liked the packing peanuts?

Smiles, everyone!

I tried to get him to say "ghost poop," but he shot me one of those "I know you're messing with me, old man" looks and went on about his business. The way he spread those things around, I'm going to call him Little Johnny Peanutseed.

Now that Christmas is winding down, do you think we should send out our holiday cards? Or those final gifts we haven't sent yet? It's still Christmas-ish time, isn't it?

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