Friday, September 18, 2009

Desperate househusband

It's been four hours, and I miss my little girl.

Yesterday, I got a call from work--a colleague needed assistance on an urgent project--that led me to check my work email. When I did, I saw an email that needed immediate attention, so I have been temporarily sucked back in.

So it was that this morning, after dropping 3B off at preschool, I went to work, by which I mean that I went down the street to Starbucks.

I've been here four hours now, which has been productive time, in part because I'm working frantically since somewhere in my lizard brain I feel like if I work faster, I'll get to see Mama and baby girl sooner. But the reality is that now there's no time to go home before I pick up 3B, so it will be some time yet before I see them.

It makes me wonder how soon Obama can get us to that socialist utopia in which none of us have to work, and can spend all day playing with our children.

I'm fairly sure that I inherited my outlook from Dad--about spending all day playing with my kids, not about socialism--who loved his time with us. And he had a lot of time with us, since he got up--switched on like a light bulb is how Mom put it--at 6 a.m. every morning.

Apparently that's something that 3B has inherited from Dad, since he was up at 6 a.m. this morning. I went in and tried to get him to snuggle back down, but 3B sat bolt upright in bed. I asked if he'd had a bad dream or needed anything. He said, "No. I don't want to be asleep."

What's a dad to do?

Head out to the living room and turn on the TV, that's what. For the record, it was an episode of Curious George and one of Sesame Street, plus one reading of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. By the end of those, we were both awake, fed and mostly dressed without even a meltdown.

But of course there was a meltdown--complete with screaming and banging right outside of the door to our room, where Mama was trying to sleep with baby girl. If you think that didn't set me off, you've clearly confused me with another dad...perhaps one without a gene for red hair.

After a time out for 3B and me, we were back on track and out the door on time for school, which is the first time I've managed that, so I suppose it's a good thing he was up at 6. Sort of.

Then it was back to work for me...sort of. One of the parts of the day that I'll miss after I go back to work for real will be the opportunity to be a mom. After I dropped off 3B, I sat in the lobby with a couple of other moms chatting about kids, their behavior, and life in general. I could talk with parents about kids all day. It's got to be my favorite topic.

Mom did say I'd make a good house husband.

Speaking of which, my meter has expired and it's time to get back to leave, get back to school, and get back to my family.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ballad of a thin dad

The older I get, the less I know.

Recently, some things have happened. Not necessarily in the order I describe them. Also, some things that have happened recently are not included in this list. Their omission is not the fault of those things, nor does it imply anything about the quality of those things; rather, it's a reflection of my memory, or lack thereof.

One week before his baby sister was born, 3B got his first two freckles--one on his arm and one on his leg. Since then, I think I've seen a cluster of very light freckles on the back of one of his hands. As a fish-belly-whiteskinned blondie myself, all I can say is welcome to that, 3B.

One week after she was born, 3B's little sister rolled over from her front to her back. She's supposed to do this at about 4-6 months. Yes, I'm proud and all, but really? Can we not get a break around here? For, like, 5 minutes?

Grammy left Tuesday morning and is already sorely missed. She did so much with so little effort, it's still hard to comprehend. If you can spare a thought for the kids during this month that she's gone, consider helping them return to the level of care she provided by sending some freshly cooked meals, clean clothes and exciting books to read. If you're close enough, you could even stop by to play fun games, have a sleepover with 3B and snuggle with him in the morning, and keep Mama and I updated on what's happening in the world outside this condo.

3B comes home every day with a report on his day at preschool. On today's, in the Notes section, was this: Such nice manners! Yes, I'm proud, but where did those manners go tonight when, after rejecting his nap, he hit and spit at me?

Baby girl had her two-week appointment today, and passed all of her tests with flying colors: her umbilical cord fell off a few days ago and she's half a pound heavier than she was at birth, which is half a pound more than they are looking for, so she's not having any trouble nursing. She does have an umbilical hernia and a likely blocked tear duct, both of which should clear up soon. To celebrate, we gave her her second bath in the sink (as opposed to a sponge bath over the sink). To celebrate, she crapped in the bathwater in the sink.

3B found the keyboard today that we were going to give him as a new-big-brother gift, but then stalled on and were going to give him for Christmakwanzukkah. "What in the world is this," he asked when he found it. Then, as he set it down in the living room to open it, he said, "Wowie zowie!" I do love this kid. And the concert at the dinner table made it all worthwhile.

[Update: How is it that 3B came out this morning and after walking out of the room last night while I was demoing all the sounds of the keyboard for him, sat down and went through them one by one: 1 is music box, 2 is mandolin (but I call it banjo), 3 is organ, 4 is piano, and so forth? Also, how is it that last night, when the demo tunes were playing, he started humming along with the Ode to Joy immediately? Is Beethoven part of our collective unconscious?]

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sleeping on a sack of bricks

How is it with two? I can't really tell you until Tuesday.

That's when Grammy leaves us--and yes, the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes begins as she drives off--and we're on our own for a month or so until she returns again for another prolonged stay.

That leaves us with even numbers: two parents and two kids. That, of course, means that Mama and I are outflanked. I'm sure that we can manage the changing, clothing, feeding and playing with them, but I'm not so sure that we can manage those tasks for ourselves at the same time.

These last few days have given some hints of what we may be in for. On Friday morning, 3B was up well before dawn with a stuffy nose and a wicked cough that was making him cry. Grammy, who's sleeping in his room, did her best to comfort him. After I finally rose to consciousness, I brought him out to lay on the couch and watch the Curious George movie to get his mind off his cough. By that time, he was already too tired from the crying and the coughing for me to think about taking him to school, plus the other parents wouldn't have been too happy to have him snotting and coughing on their kids every few seconds.

It was a hard start to a day that began with a steady rain falling from cold, leaden skies. As the day went on, however, the skies cleared up and 3B got more energy. Enough energy that he rejected his nap, which wasn't the best idea he's had. To burn off some of his so-tired-I'm-wound-like-a-clock energy, I took him down the road to Green Spring Gardens, where we had a nice little tea party in the children's garden.

Tea Party at Green Spring Gardens

3B was so tired that he fell asleep on the way to GSG, but that didn't keep us from having fun there, riding on the pavé and playing prisoner because, well, if you don't have your guitar, how else do you pay homage to the Man in Black?

Playing "prisoner" and feeling the part

After we got home, Auntie Farmer came by to visit the kids and talk to us while she did. You parents know how it're there to open the door and serve drinks for guests who come to visit your children. Seriously, however, we had a fun visit with her, hearing about her garden, soon-to-arrive pool and what life is like on the outside. (I also have pictures of FF holding baby girl, which I'll have to post real soon now.)

After FF's brief visit, our neighbor came by, bearing a cute pink outfit for baby girl. Our neighbor has an 8-month old girl and a husband who works 14 hours a day, 6 days a week as a restaurant manager, but she has no car, so she's always looking for someone to talk to, especially about kids. By the time she left, it was 9:30 and time for...dinner? 3B had already eaten and was in bed, but the rest of us... Even though we were past hunger, we ordered pizza.

By the time I had almost finished by last piece of pizza, the fatigue had caught up with 3B and his cough had once again woken him up and was making him cry. His glands were swollen, his breathing was raspy and he was having a hard time swallowing anything. I curled up with him on his bed while Mama got him a popsicle and some Motrin to ease the pain in his throat. He fell asleep eating the popsicle, and I fell asleep soon after that, although I didn't sleep nearly as well as he did.

Back when we first had Barky, I used to think that it would be cozy to curl up with him. Then I learned that in his sleep he kicked like a mule, ran like a horse and bayed like a, well, hound.

Not to compare my boy to a dog, but last night reminded me of that lesson. While 3B looks cute when sleeping, don't let that fool you. Being in bed next to him was like sleeping next to Bruce Lee while he was choreographing the fight sequences for Enter the Dragon. So, I rolled off the bed onto the futon on the floor, which was about as comfortable as sleeping on a sack of bricks.

I felt even worse in the morning after we got up--3B was, of course, almost fully recovered and full of energy after 12 hours of sound sleep--and found that Grammy had slept on the couch rather than coming in and risking disturbing us.

Today was better all around, although I again had to lay down with 3B to enforce his nap. He was a little wound up from a visit this morning from The Good Doctor and his family. Their oldest daughter had fun with 3B, running up and down the hall, jumping on the futon and making other loud banging and clunking noises in his room that were best not investigated.

He and I both had to get up from that before we wanted to so we could make it to the Arts Festival in Olde Towne--hey, that's how the city refers to least it's not Ye Olde Towne--down by the river and catch the swing band that was playing. We were groggy, but we managed to make it and do a lot of dancing before Grammy and Mama made it in Grammy's car.

They had to wait at home for baby girl, who woke up hungry on the way out the door. She ended up eating twice and pooping three times before they could leave.

So, when you ask about how it is with two, consider that without Grammy's car here, we would have had to wait through the cluster feeding and cluster pooping before going anywhere, which means we would have missed the band entirely. As it was, we missed dinner entirely. Again.

We made up for it, however, by returning to our hunter-gatherer roots and digging up a nutritious snack. On the way back to the cars we did lose one thing--our car. While I roamed the streets like Caine from Kung Fu looking for his half brother (who, in our case, happened to be a Honda Accord), Mama sat down on the curb and nursed baby girl who was hungry again. By the time I found car, baby girl was full and so was her diaper. Grammy changed her on the front seat while Mama put away her boobs and I whisked 3B off to an early 9:30 bedtime.

Bad parents, no biscuit.

If we're this bad with help from Grammy, a parent who actually knows what she's doing, I can only imagine that it will be but a few days after she leaves before we're shooting off flares from the balcony.

Did I mention that we have to fly to a wedding in two weeks?

Pray for us.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't you forget about me

Today was the second first day of school for 3B. His first first day was last year and involved anxiety and tears from his parents and him. This year involved more props than a convention of jugglers and magicians and some screaming. Seriously, what you can't see in this video is that I was carrying his laptop, headphones, Eeyore, a lovie, and his school bag with his lunch, spare set of clothes, diapers, wipes, and so forth. Oh, and a pink pick in my back pocket.

The screaming you can see and hear.

And no, he's not going to a music school. The guitar is like his pinkie finger--he's not always using it, but it's always with him.

His class is smaller this year--nine kids rather than the 14 or so last year. That's almost enough for each one of them to be a brain and an athlete and a basket case and a princess and a criminal.

And he's still got one teacher and one aide, so the odds of the adults making it out alive are much, what I meant to say was that the student-teacher ratio is better. A few of the kids were in his class last year, which is good news, especially for us parents, who have a harder time meeting new people than our three year olds do. Of course, it will take a few weeks to figure out how this year will go, but the pink sand table in the room was a good omen.

Speaking of pink makes me think of our little pink bundle, 3B's baby sister. (Yes, she needs some sort of online handle like her big brother has, but I'm still waiting for my moniker muse to stop by for a visit.) We've gotten some questions about how it is with two versus with one, and while it's only been a week, and it keeps changing, minute to minute, here are my thoughts right now.

It's much easier the second time around because you realize that the child will likely survive all your attempts at parenting, allowing you to relax and...hey, if I'm here on the couch, watching Top Chef, who's got the baby? Oh, thank goodness for Grammy.

There's much less bullshit the second time around. You know what's important and what to ignore. The best two hours we had was when we sent our girl to the nursery right after she ate and told our nurse that we were resting. For all I know, the nurse put caution tape and landmines on our door because nobody, and I mean nobody, came into our room until we called her to tell her we were awake again two hours later. When has that ever happened to you in a hospital?

I'm sure the thought of that freaks out all of you baby wearing bonding begins at conception types, but really? C'mon now...when I was born I'm sure Mom followed standard practice at the time, which means that I lived in the nursery and only visited her for nursing, during which time she was encouraged not to make skin-to-skin contact with me, so as not to infect me with her pestilence. No, I'm not kidding; I have the proof. And, despite all of that, I somehow still managed to bond with Mom, so I'm thinking two hours in the nursery is no big deal, especially because baby girl was already eating like a champ.

It's totally different the second time around. This is the hardest part to wrap your mind around until you get to this point and it's just the way that it is. Being relaxed and focused allows you to see how unique your kids are from the outset. For us, 3B had a hard time figuring out nursing, but his sister latched on right away; 3B had a hard time sleeping initially, but his sister already goes for four hours at a stretch; 3B peed on us a few times, which his sister has attempted in vain to replicate, but more than made up for her inability by projectile pooping on me two days ago.

Many, if not all, of these changes are due in part to changes in Mama and myself. It's not just our more mellow mindset, but also our tactics. We kept trying to put 3B into a bassinet before giving up and, in desperation, cosleeping. With his sister, we started off cosleeping.

Then again, it's only been a week, so what do I know? But, for those of you asking, those are my thoughts so far. And now, on with the movie...our life on this second first day of school...

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Is it still Sunday?

No, but you can watch this video and pretend it is. Or, you can be like us and pretend that every day is Sunday since we don't know which day of the week it is anymore.

We did manage to get 3B to his first day of school today...somehow...and he had a great time in his new class. There was painting, playing on the playground and singing. What more could a boy want?

OK, music, but he'll get that on Friday.

And don't worry, this isn't the director's cut like the last video; this one will fit right into your attention span.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

For family only

I suppose that all of you other blog voyeurs might watch this too, but really, it's something like eight minutes long, which is something like seven and a half minutes longer than most of our attention spans--I know of whence I speak, being a blog voyeur myself.

Besides, it's nothing a voyeur would be interested in--just an unvarnished look at our lives on a Sunday before we had 3B's baby sister, without a soundtrack or titles or credits.

Nothing but a morning talk about baseball, a trip to the playground to climb ropes and slides, snack time on the water, fishing and splashing, some reading, a hot slide guitar session and, of course, story and bed time.

See, now you know everything that happens, so what's the need to watch it? Nothing to see here, move right along. There's plenty of the internet wave left to surf beyond this.

Unless, of course, you just can't stand not knowing. Unless of course, you just can't stand missing anything. Unless, of course, you're wondering what really happens...wondering if I'm really telling the truth.

See, I wouldn't lie to you. You really should trust me. Besides, there's going to be another lazy Sunday video to watch tomorrow--this one with both kids in it.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Blair Witch Project, part 2

This is 3B's first film. What can I say? The kid's got skills.

He's a shoo-in to direct the next in the Blair Witch Project series.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Our 3 year old, the Marlboro man

This morning we had baby girl's first check up, which she passed with flying colors. It was funny the difference between 3B's and his sister's. At his first appointment, we came armed with questions and took notes. At this one, we all just tried to get out alive.

Honestly, 3B was a rock star throughout. Of course, it's his doctor's office too, so he was familiar with it and loved playing in the waiting room. He was fascinated by his sister's check up, although he was skeptical when the nurse practitioner checked her eyes.

The worst part was when they offered us all flu shots, which we were glad to get--except 3B, who doesn't like surprises. There was crying and gnashing of teeth, although we didn't quite get to the rending of garments. And we bought him off with some gummy worms afterward, hoping he would associate the flu shot with the treat following.

Yeah, right.

Next time we'll give him more warning, and maybe even take notes or something. But even the nurse practitioner was laid back. Her counsel was: You're second-time parents. You'll know if something's wrong. If it is, call us. I was just glad she didn't refer us to child protective services after 3B's waiting room soliloquy.

He was listing things he is and things he likes and ended on a crescendo, fixing a pen cap between his lips, "I like to smoke pipes!"

Thank you, Curious George.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

One cute baby, two yawns, lots of hiccups

This is from her first day. Fortunately, we've been sleeping enough today that we haven't had much of a chance to take pictures or record video.

Last night, we finally sent baby girl to the nursery after her 9 p.m. feeding, then when she came back, she ate and then slept in our room for another three hours or so.

We all were awake through the morning, during which time they had to take another blood sample to check her for infection since Mama was positive for Group B Strep. They had tested baby girl last night, and her white blood cell count was a few points above normal (normal is 9-30, she was 30.something), so they rechecked her this morning. This morning's test came back within the normal range, so we're free to go home this afternoon.

As I type this, Mama's signing the discharge papers, so all that's left is to wait for baby girl to wake up so we can feed her and take her home.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

She's here!

The Bradsteins are pleased to announce that 3B's baby sister was born this morning at 3:50 a.m. She weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces and was 21 inches long.

Mama's contractions started at about 5 p.m. yesterday, and we came to the hospital at about 10:30 p.m. We might not have come so early, but with Mama being positive for Group B Strep, we wanted to ensure that we got two doses of antibiotics into Mama before baby girl arrived. We just barely managed to do that because we had to wait four hours between doses.

For the record, hypnobirthing was fine for awhile, and then the epidural was fine for the duration. As for after birth, being under the french fry lights was OK, but laying on Mama's belly or being swaddled in someone's arms is much better.

Whose idea was this?

Her eyes are blue, like her brother's were, but his changed to a handsome brown, so who knows what hers will be. Her hair appears to be blond. Or brown. Depends on the light and who's looking. Her eyebrows and eyelashes are certainly light blond, however.


Her tiny feet are cute. So are her tiny hands, which came equipped with long fingernails, which she's already used to scratch herself several times.

Sleeping on Grammy's lap

So far she loves to sleep in her Grammy's lap--or just about anywhere--and eat, which is exactly as it should be. She's nursed a few times for quite awhile with a strong latch from the get go, which is nice for Mama and Papa. One less thing to worry about.

First walk with big brother

She also loves her big brother, who loves her right back. He wasn't too sure about holding her or kissing her, but he did love taking her for a walk. It's also pretty cool that when he comes to visit her, he gets to go into the special secret room to get juice for Mama and himself.

More later, after we all get caught up on, you know, in 12 years or so.

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"May your heart always be joyful...

...may your song always be sung,

May all your dreams be realized

may you stay forever young."
--Bob Dylan

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