Friday, January 29, 2010

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Trying to keep a house clean and picked up with two children living in it is like trying to build the Bilbao Guggenheim with marbles and sand.
We've fallen into something of a pattern with Jewel. I suppose that some parents have a plan or follow some sort of a system, but that's just not us, so we wait for the pattern to reveal itself to us.

Why not? A day after it does, it changes anyway.

For the last few days, however, that hasn't been the case. Sort of. Our little Jewel wakes up at 5, and I get up with her while Mama catches what little uninterrupted sleep she can during the day. This also happens to be Mama's only me time.

I take Jewel out to the living room and move her from blankets on the floor to a Bumbo on the dining room table to a bouncy seat to an exersaucer to a swing to my arms and back to the blankets. While she's amusing herself in all of those locations, I'm making coffee, an omelet, toast, and lunch for myself. If I'm good, I'll empty the dishwasher.

But I'm not often good.

Of course, along the way, I'm taking time out to talk to Jewel, hold her, read her stories and try to make her laugh. By the time her brother gets up, at about 7:30, Jewel is done with me, done with her toys, done with the blankets, Bumbo, bouncy seat, et al. and is ready to go back to bed. However, in another half an hour we know that she'll wake up, starving.

In addition, at this time, I'm switching from making breakfast mode to getting out the door mode, leaving Mama with one waking boy and one sleepy, hungry baby...and one Papa pulling on tights. Her dilemma is how to give them both what they need at the same time, which requires being in two places at the same time doing two different things.

My dilemma is that if I leave before 3B gets up, I can simply walk out the door and get home an hour earlier. If I'm still here when he wakes up, which is almost always the case, it takes another hour for me to get out the door because I'm helping Mama manage the two kids. I'd like to get home an hour earlier, since the end of the day is often more challenging than the beginning, but I also don't want to leave Mama outnumbered by the kids...and, of course, I don't want to leave the kids.

So, I usually get out the door after 3B is up and eating breakfast and while Jewel is on her way back down. She'll stay down for about 45 minutes on Tuesday or Thursday and about an hour and a half on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when her babysitter, O, is here. Why does Jewel sleep more for O? To taunt us.

Why is O here? So Mama can work after dropping off 3B at school. But whether it's Mama or O, Jewel takes a morning nap, then is awake until her afternoon nap. Of course, she usually is ready for her afternoon nap around the same time her brother is going into quiet time, which has replaced his nap.

He spends about an hour in his room pursuing quiet activities. Or performing the drum solo from YYZ. You know, whatever works for him. If Mama's lucky, she'll have Jewel down for her nap by the time 3B is done with quiet time and ready to wake her up with his afternoon activities. Or, perhaps, he'll camp out in front of the TV, although we've started to firmly enforce a one hour TV time limit, so that's not as likely.

Around this time, I'm wrapping up work, forgetting to anticipate that one person who comes by as I'm packing up and needs to talk about a project for half an hour, or that one seemingly innocent email that's really a stealth bomb with a payload of urgent work. Eventually, however, I disentangle myself from that right around the time that Mama is starting to unravel a bit under the constant tugging pressure in opposite directions from Jewel and her brother.

I get home in time for the end of 3B's dinner. He eats, if we're lucky, or wanders around the living room if it's a typical night, while I change from my bike clothes into play clothes. Then, Mama and I tag team dinner--one of us eats while the other wrangles 3B and somehow keeps Jewel awake and content.

Then we divide and conquer, one of us retiring to our room to bounce Jewel on the yoga ball for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 days or however long it takes to get her to sleep, while the other puts 3B into bed, reads him three stories, locates his extra, super duper, double duper, extra, extra, extra soft lovie, gets him a sippy cup, brushes his teeth, snuggles with him for a minute, kisses him five times, walks out, remembers to go back in and turn off his Christmas lights, and so on.

Then we collapse. Jewel sleeps in bed with us, and often Mama lays down with her while she goes to sleep and then drifts off herself. I tend to stay up way too late after that, watching whichever Bourne movie is on that night, tweeting mindlessly, writing blog posts, wondering why I'm up, and running the dishwasher if I'm good.

But I'm not often good.

Eventually, I make my way to bed where Mama is feeding Jewel throughout the night as I slumber unaware next to them. Until 5 a.m., when I take Jewel out to the living room and move her from blankets on the floor to a Bumbo on the dining room table to a bouncy seat to an exersaucer to a swing to my arms and back to the blankets. While she's amusing herself in all of those locations, I'm making coffee, an omelet, toast, and lunch for myself. If I'm good, I'll empty the dishwasher.

But I'm not often good.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Forget politics and remember us

My brother forwarded this to me, and I was going to post a link to the Livestrong site, but it doesn't include this full message, which I think bears repeating.

For anyone whose life has been touched by cancer--or any other significant disease or condition--Ruben's story is heartbreaking. In fact, it should be heartbreaking to anyone.

Please pass this message along.

--Papa B

Forget politics and remember us.


Ruben hasn’t given up on his fight.

Tell Congress not to walk away from health care reform.

Dear LIVESTRONG Supporter,

Last night, President Obama stood before the nation and delivered his State of the Union address. We were delighted to see him deliver a clear message to Congress saying, "I will not walk away from these Americans and neither should the people in this chamber...Let's get it done.”

Despite those strong words, the reality is that we are in serious danger of losing a once-in-a-generation chance to achieve real health care reform. The situation couldn’t be more urgent, and we need your help to send a strong message to Congress: Do not give up on health care reform. Will you join us and send your elected officials a clear message to keep up the fight?

You could not write fiction more dramatic than what we have seen over the last week. On January 18, one state elected a Senator and we are being told that may reset the entire healthcare reform effort. We must be clear in saying to our elected officials: You must not give up. We are counting on you.

Just the other day I heard a story about a man named Ruben, who has been fighting cancer off and on for 11 years. This year, he lost his job. His cancer, which had been stable, became active again and he has had to go back on treatment. His doctor prescribed two new chemotherapy drugs to combat the cancer. But last week, Ruben had to tell his pharmacist, “No, don’t fill that prescription. I can’t afford it.”

Unfortunately, Ruben is not alone. We all hear these stories far too often or have our own version to share. That is why it is more important than ever that we send a strong message to Washington: Forget politics and remember Ruben.

It only takes a moment to share this message with your elected officials, to tell them, as the President said last night: "Don't walk away. Not now. Finish the job for the American people."

As someone who has been touched by cancer, you know firsthand how critical it is to have dependable, quality health care. It can be the difference between life and death. Let’s not let this once-in-a-generation opportunity pass us by.


Doug Ulman and the LIVESTRONG Action Team

P.S. Please forward this message on to your friends and family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My new rubber

Last Thursday I picked up my new rubber, and when I got home, I unrolled them and put them on right away--yes, that's right, I bought two. I had to replace the two that I'd been using for the past couple of years. The old ones finally got too thin, full of holes and unreliable.

The new ones have been a great ride. I filled them up to their maximum hardness and they're still comfortable after an hour of riding. There's nothing like new rubber to put a spring back in my stroke. The only other thing that has such an immediate effect is lubing my chain.

...oh, I'm talking about my new bike tires. What were you thinking about?

It was to find replacement tires since I like to run 1 1/4" wide tires on my 26" mountain bike wheels. Most mountain bike tires are between 1 1/2" and 2 1/2", but I don't need all that extra width for the road riding I do.

If I was on dirt at all, or if I was riding on snow as I used to do when commuting in Colorado, then the extra width would help keep me from sinking in and keep me more stable on the bike. But, here in Northern Virginia, where I'm mostly dodging potholes, old hubcaps and swerving cars, the skinny tires are faster, thanks to lower rotational weight.

I also don't need a knobby tread because I don't need my tires to dig into dirt to get traction. I actually get better traction from a tire that's more slick, because a low profile or slick tread puts more rubber on the road. And when that rubber is new, fresh from the factory, it rolls even better, making my commute easier.

These particular tires seem more vertically compliant than my old (cheaper) ones, which is a fancy way of saying that they're more squishy. But, the nice thing is that they're fast and squishy, which means pedaling is easy and so is the ride. Other tires I've had have been fast or squishy, but not both at the same time, making for a rougher ride for me, since I wasn't willing to push harder, even if it meant a softer ride.

And, at the same time, these have a puncture resistant belt under the tread, which is a necessity for me. I've found that without that, the glass, tacks and other debris in the road causes more flats than I'd ever want to fix. OK, one flat is more than I'd ever want to fix, but getting two or more in one commute is absurd, so that puncture resistant belt is a requirement for me.

I've only been on these for a little over 50 miles, but they seem good so far. Next time around, I'd like to try a similar size from my favorite tire manufacturer.

Until then, I'll continue riding this new rubber until it wears out.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two and a half great miracles happened here (and no, I'm not talking about the double ear infection)

Yesterday, while Mama lounged around in her silk pajamas, nibbling on bon bons, I took 3B to the doctor to have them confirm what we already knew was pink eye and prescribe him drops for it.

When 3B got up--at 5 a.m. for, like, the 237th day in a row--it looked like he'd rubbed it too much. About five minutes later, it was swollen. About five minutes after that, I wiped some gunk out of it. While I was putting down the tissue from that, I watched more green pus shoot out of the corner of his eye.

Happy weekend, everyone. Wash your hands.

By the time Mama got up and the doctor's office was open, 3B looked like he'd done 12 rounds of rope-a-dope with Mike Tyson--except his ears were intact. The waiting room looked about like you'd expect on a Saturday during cold and flu season. I did my best to keep 3B from rubbing his eye directly on anything, and we got out of there with the prescription we came for. The doctor said that his ears were full of fluid, but not infected, so if he complained of pain in them to call right away.

I should have known something was up when, while we were waiting at CVS, 3B only wanted one of the chocolate gold coins I bought to bribe him with. Then, as we were walking out, he said, "This is good."

"What's good, buddy?"

"We're going home."

There's a first time for everything, I thought. Little did I know what that truly meant until this morning.

3B was again up at 5, and not looking too hot. He made it through the morning OK, although giving him his second round of eye drops took about three years off of my life. And Mama's. We finally convinced him to use the Aunt CaliforniaGirl method, putting the drop in the corner of his closed eyes, letting them roll in as he opens his eyes. That was much better than the previous night's dose, during which 3B's caterwauling was loud enough that a police helicopter circled overhead for the duration.

Then began the miracles: first, I went to put Jewel down for her nap...or rather to enforce her nap, since Mama had put her down about five minutes earlier. After about 10 minutes of soothing her, I decided to lie down with her in bed...which, of course, means that I took a nap too, for about an hour and a half. When we got up, the house was eerily quiet. I figured that Mama and 3B were playing down on the street and was ready to go down and meet them, but there was Mama sitting at the dining room table, working on her computer.

"Where's 3B?"

"He has a double ear infection. He said his ears hurt, turned pasty white, then said he wanted to go lay down and take a nap."

"I'm sorry, whose son said he wanted to take a nap?"

See, there is a first time for everything. Unfortunately.

3B slept for about two hours, then woke up and acted for the rest of the day as if he'd never had either pink eye or his ear infections. While I was glad that he rebounded so fast, I have to admit that I was secretly hoping that he'd want to take another nap later in the day, so that perhaps I could catch another one. Yeah, fat chance, Papa.

And he was acting like that even before his first dose of antibiotics, which went much more smoothly than the eye drops. Much. First, the antibiotics are pink...and here's my suggestion to big pharma: make it possible for pharmacists to dye kids' prescriptions any color so that kids can get their drugs in their favorite color.

And big pharma, you don't have to thank me, let's just split the profits from this 60/40. Forty percent will be enough for you, right?

So, as 3B is sucking back his first dose of antibiotics, he pulls away, looks at Mama and solemnly intones, "I love antibiotics."

Don't we all, dude. Don't we all. Hell, pink antibiotics might qualify as another half a miracle.

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Our pig died this morning

You know, our pig...our iPig:

This is really going to cut into our living room concert series. KISS, Van Halen, Rush, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Neil Young just aren't the same without a subwoofer...even if it is a pork belly subwoofer.

Perhaps we shouldn't have trusted an animal without much personality.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

My blog is too dangerous for Google

Recently, on a whim, I thought that I'd add Google ads back onto my blog. I had run them previously, mostly as a test for a previous employer, but Google ads ended up paying out about a penny every other year, so I took them off my site when I joined the BlogHer ad network, mostly to reduce the clutter on my pages.

But also because the BlogHer ads are a much better deal. Not only does the BlogHer ad network provide a much better return, it supports women who blog. I'm all about that, especially since some of my favorite bloggers are women.

Turns out that after I turned my back on them, Google decided that I was a danger to their advertisers, and now refuses to provide ads for me to run on my blog, per this email:

After thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into
consideration, we've re-confirmed that your account poses a significant
risk to our advertisers.
WTF, Google?

I've got six loyal readers. Even if all of them boycotted one of your advertisers, nobody would notice. Hell, all of them could storm the corporate headquarters of one of your advertisers and nobody would notice. Shit, while storming their way into the building, they could all fit in one minivan and, once inside, they could even share the elevator to the CEO's office with several security guards--who might want to watch out for a sudden diaper change outside of a restroom, or other dangerous parenting activities.

My response:
After thoroughly reviewing your response and taking your feedback into
consideration, I've re-confirmed that you can kiss my sweet white suburban dad's ass.

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Boring! Boots in bed and baby blues

3B has a new trick every day. Last week, one of them was the apathetic shoulder shrug that means something between "I don't know" and "I don't care." You know the one--it's the one you gave your parents when you were a world-weary teenager...

What do you want for breakfast?
Are you going to school today?
Would you like to have your own house where your friends could come live with you and party all the time?
One of his new tricks this week was to declare that anything unpalatable is "BORING!"
Do you want some breakfast?
Are you going to have fun at school today?
Do you want to get all hopped up on sugar cereals then go run around the soft playplace with all your friends until you pass out from exhaustion and a sugar crash?
My reaction?


Later this week, he wanted to go to bed with his boots on. Here's hoping he's not following in the footsteps of Governor Long.

And, of course, he continues his fascination with KISS. When I was changing out of my bike commute clothes and was down to my black bike tights and he jumped up and declared with great joy, "Daddy, you're KISS!"

Uh, sure. Minus the flashpots, the platform shoes, the guitar, the tongue and the kabuki makeup.

Never you mind about that last one, though. The next day, while Mama was putting Jewel down for her nap, 3B took care of that:

Rock and...wait just a minute here

As for Jewel, she kept on keepin' on, doing what she does best...batting her baby blues and stuffing everything she can get her hands on into her drooly maw:

Behind blue eyes

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Friday, January 22, 2010

You had me at "has went up"

Recently the spam coming into my blog pseudonym account has increased dramatically. It appears that someone scraped the email info from my blog and sent it out to a list or several lists.

At first, the spam was actually fairly accurate in its targeting--requesting reviews for products dads might use, promotions for events families might be interested in, and so forth--but now they're drifting further afield.

Today's best was from a pay-as-you-go cellphone company that's trying to scare me into buying their know, for my'll see why I'm such an editorial snot if you read to the end:

The newest data from The Kaiser Family Report on media usage in 8-18 year olds [OK, I'm too lazy to hyphenate this correctly every time, but this should be 8-18-year-olds] shows a blaring 27 % ["Blaring"? When did percentages start blaring? Horns blare. Sirens blare. Percentages don't blare. They can be astonishing, perplexing and even incredible, but they don't blare. Also, don't put a space between the number and the percent symbol. Hell, while you're at it, you should spell out "percent."] increase in cell phone usage since 2004, an average of over two and a half hours spent on their cell phone [Per day? Per week? Per fortnight? During their entire lifetime? This is a meaningless number unless it's attached to a time span.], and a direct relationship to increased use and poor academic performance. [Poor academic performance? Really? Like on basic topics like reading, writing and grammar?]

The report stated that this trend is unaffected by children’s age, race, or socioeconomic class. Other findings:

  • Cell phone ownership in 8-18 year olds has went up to 66% in 2009 from just 39% in 2004 ["Has went up"? So, this was written by one of those 8-18-year-olds, then? Really, I should have stopped reading here, but the compulsive side of me made me finish at least the list. I've always hated that compulsive side, and here's another reason why.]
  • Over the last five years overall media usage has increased 17%-26% in 8-18 year olds [While we're here...what does this mean? It went up from 17 percent to 26 percent? Or, the rate of increase varies depending on the age bracket within that range? How does this relate to media usage in other age ranges during the same period. Media usage?
What do you mean by "media"? Or "usage"? If you use them like I do, how does television viewing time relate to cell phone use? Or perhaps preteens and teens are reading the newspaper more...and shouldn't we encourage that?]
Oh, by the way...No, I don't want your cell phone for my three-year-old.
[And another thing...

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dreams of Van Halen, Heidi Klum and clean diapers

Ani sang that "every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right." My addendum to that is that any spheroid object is a deadly projectile if a three year old is holding it.

Last night, 3B dreamed of Van Halen, Mama dreamed that she was in Project Runway and talked to Heidi Klum, who told her about the outfit she designed, "It's over the top...and I love it!" Mama was both a designer and model--of course she was. She's an overachiever even in her dreams. Me, I had no dreams.

Jewel might have finally slept long enough to dream last night. She went from midnight to 5 a.m. between feedings. There was one other night that she went as long, but she was assisted by me rocking her in the glider for a few hours while watching bad late night t.v. ...or is that redundant?

Generally she has one good period of sleep every night. Unfortunately, it's usually right after she first goes down for the night, from about 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. or so, which is when we're awake, scrambling to get things done around the house and prepare for tomorrow. What we should do is sleep during that time, then be awake during the next few hours when her sleep is more fitful. But, we all know that, like President Bartlet, naps make me groggy and cranky--unfortunately, the similarities end there--so I'd wake up pissed off with a head full of tar, which isn't the best feeling when dealing with a baby who won't quite sleep.

Instead, we've settled on me going to bed earlyish, so I can get up at 5 a.m. which is Jewel's typical wakeup time. Mama comes to bed later, is wakened for a few feedings in the night, and then sleeps until 6 a.m., when I have to start getting ready for work. Usually 3B isn't up until 7:30 or so.

This morning, however, I saw light shining into our room from his when I rolled out of bed at 5. Sure enough, his door was open and his lights were on. He was sitting amidst his toys and said, "Daddy, I'm not tired."

Really? I couldn't tell.

Except he was tired. After getting him some breakfast and putting on Sesame Street for him--actually, he requested Curious George, but Sesame Street was just coming on and he got into it, which is a first--I sat next to him with Jewel. It was pretty clear that someone on that couch had crapped their pants.

It's sobering to realize that I could discern by the smell that it was my son, not my daughter. That's something they don't teach you in college. So I asked if he was a poopster, finally connecting that when he poops, he wakes up and can't get back to sleep. He said no a few times until I insisted on checking. I went to check by hooking my fingers over the back of his diaper to pull it out...and why haven't I learned in three years not to hook my fingers over the center of his diaper in the back?

When I was done changing him, and cleaning under my fingernails, I picked up Jewel from her crib and...Bingo! Two for two. She was more obvious about it, having crapped through her pajamas and her Woombie. Good times.

By the time Mama got up, however, I had both the kids in clean diapers and new outfits. That's progress. 3B had also eaten breakfast and helped make coffee for Mama. I had her breakfast ready as well. Then again, he had already watched his daily allotment of t.v. and all three of us were ready for a nap, and only Jewel was going to get one.

I'm just hoping that does nap today, unlike most days, and that when I come through the door, he doesn't try to drill a rubber ball through my forehead like he did the other night when I was late home and he was overextended and fractious.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

$100 worth of choking hazards

If you're ever wondering if it's a good idea to purchase $100 worth of beads, sparklies and plastic jewels for your three-year-old to use as play food while he pretends to cook soups with innumerable ingredients, the answer is no--it is not a good idea.

I've been asked what I'm doing posting updates in the wee hours of the morn. I wish I could say that I'm doing it after returning home from a great show or party or both, but the reality is that Twitter doesn't pass updates through until it's good and ready. Combine that with my AT&T phone, which only sends MMS when it's good and ready--sometimes days after I send them--and you end up with updates in the middle of the night. I'd get more worked up about it, but the universe is moving toward a state of entropy anyway, so why fight it.
This also explains the state of our living room.

I have one question for three year olds: Why?

Last week, or the week before that--the one filled with sleepless if that narrows it down...3B was playing dress up at school and married his best friend. I don't know what his best friend was wearing, but apparently, 3B was resplendent in his pink dress. Not a traditional color, I know, but he's a modern kid.

I have one thing to say to three year olds: Stop it. Now.

3B's been trying to figure out death these last few weeks. I'd love to help him with that, but shit, I've been trying to figure that out since Dad died when I was 16. Then again, 3B's still young enough to be able to comprehend the truth without being distracted by all the clutter he'll collect as he goes through life. But still it's sad to watch him ponder what would happen if Mama died--he doesn't seem as concerned about my passing--or really start to understand what happened to Barky. If only I could find a way to guide him to the truth so he could grok it.

Speaking of grokking, that's all his sister does these days: grok by eating. Everything must succumb to gumming by the ravenous baby! It's perhaps indicative of our general level of planning that we spaced our kids out so that just as he's able to have toys with tiny disconnected parts, we're raising a baby who's quickly learning to hoover up any minute loose choking hazard she finds.

OK, one more thing for three year olds...a question: 90 percent of the time you're what makes life worth living, the other 10 percent of the time...well...have you ever considered putting out a little more effort to move that number up to 95 percent?

So, now that we've got a little hoover around, how does that $100 worth of beads, sparklies and plastic jewels look? Like nothing but five pounds of irresistible choking hazards. You wouldn't be far off if you said we'd had moments of buyer's remorse.

But then, we watch him play with them, and how happy they make him, and how they will entertain him for an hour or more, and they seem miraculous.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mmm...a big helping of crow for me!

Mom's greatest parenting advice to me came in a story she told on herself that began with this lesson

As a parent, I ate every word I had said about parenting before I became one.
She would then recount how she swore that she'd never use a pacifier...until she had to...or that she'd never use a child leash...until she had to...and so forth. She never did discuss what she had to do with me that she swore against--maybe tolerating my earrings, long before everybody started filling their faces with enough metal to extend wait times at airports by hours.

Wow, by writing that, I officially designated myself as a crotchety old man.

As for me, I couldn't really imagine how I could spend all day in my pajamas...until it happened. You know, it's supposed to be that we get up, enjoy a nutritious breakfast around the table while chatting, then get ready and head to the park to play catch and fly a kite. After that, we come home for a lovely lunch, followed perhaps by a nap for the kids while Mama and Papa do some chores around the house. The evening is filled with a lovely dinner, followed by a fun-filled bath time, a few stories and then, once the kids are in bed, a pleasant evening of relaxing pursuits for Mama and Papa.


So, I'm off to bed in the very same pajamas that I wore last night, this morning, through noon, this afternoon, and this evening. And it is in this state that I offer a mea culpa for anything I may have said previously about parenting, especially about parenting two children, especially about toddlers who won't nap and babies who won't sleep. Not only am I truly sorry for saying them, I'm hoping it gives me a rat's chance of unjinxing myself.

While I'm at it, I'd like to point out, before you do, that yes, this is another case when Mom was right.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Would you like to go inside your body?

What you don't know about us Bradsteins can't hurt you, but given my dearth of posts of late, it could probably fill a large room. To help clear that room out, here are some of those things you couldn't know about us because we've never told you, in whatever random order they pop into my beleaguered brain...

On Thursday I came home to an odd question from 3B. They never cease to amaze me, from the first one that I clearly remember, months ago when we were driving around and he said, as clear as a bell, "Daddy, how do power lines work?" Of course, I did the only thing I could to explain: gave him a kite and a key and sent him out in a lightning storm to play Ben Franklin.

Thursday's question came with a wish too, and was a bit more abstract: Daddy, do you wish you could go inside your own body? I wish I could go inside my own body.

Turns out he'd been watching a Curious George episode that's a ripoff of Fantastic Voyage. As a huge fan of the original as a kid, I have to admit that I sat through the whole CG episode too. It was not bad, actually, for the audience it's aimed at, although I could do without the germ character that's a ripoff of the Mucinex dancing ball of lung butter. Just because you can animate it, doesn't mean you should.

Tonight, after reading stories and brushing teeth, I was leaving 3B's room when he asked me to come back and snuggle with him. I agreed to snuggle for five minutes, because we've learned that if we don't set a time limit, it becomes playtime and before long it becomes a midnight bedtime, which is good for nobody. We lay in the dark for awhile, me rubbing his back, him rubbing my beard, and both of us looking up at his new glow in the dark stars and moon on his ceiling, then I told him that I was leaving in two minutes. After a little while, I told him I was leaving in one minute. 3B then said, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5. You've been here for four minutes because four plus one is five."

Well, goddamn, little man. Right you are. And from what branch of the family tree did you get that math gene, because it sure didn't come from the acorn you sprouted from.

Along with his mad math skillz, and a pile or two of gifts, plus a shiny pink bike, 3B got something else for Christmakwanzukkah: his L's and R's. I've worked with him a little at home on "la la la la la," but nothing too serious. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, and at the time he didn't quite have the coordination for it. But a little bit of time, and a little bit of time spent with Grammy, the speech therapist, over Christmas, made all the difference. We're a little sad that we'll never hear "Yucky Yindy" again, but fortunately, we like "Lucky Lindy" too.

His pronunciation still isn't perfect, leading to conversations like this...

3B: My teeth are [undecipherable] my skauauauaurrr
Me: What?
3B: My teeth are [undecipherable] my skauauauaurrr
Me: Your teeth are what?
3B: Like my brain, my teeth are [undecipherable] my skauauauaurrr (points to his head)
Me: Oh, like your brain, your teeth are in your skull...yes, yes they are.

As for our little Jewel, she's not speaking in words yet, although she's got plenty to say, whenever she takes her hands out of her mouth, that is. No idea what she's talking about, but perhaps she's recounting how she found her hands during Thanksgiving week and her feet during Christmas week.

Or perhaps she's debating the flavors of her two hands. While the right seems more dexterous, the left is getting gnawed on with equal frequency. Both are doing what appears to be a satisfactory job pushing everything within reach into her gaping maw as well. Perhaps this is because she seems to be in the process of cutting teeth. We might be a bit premature, but all the signs are there: the drooling, the inexplicable crankiness and the relief we all feel from a dab of Orajel on her gums. Plus, we can feel her gums getting harder and pointier.

I'm sure that if they could talk, Mama's breasts would have something to say about this development.

Perhaps that's why she's still not such a good sleeper--as the refluxiness faded, the teething started. Whatever it is, she's a wakeful baby, which is Mama's nice way of saying that she doesn't let us sleep much. To be fair, she has gone 3-4 hours at a stretch in the night, even while traveling, but that doesn't compare with her peers' 6-hour stints.

I don't recall how her brother was at this age, but I do recall him as a champion sleeper, which he still is. Perhaps that's just the later months and sleep deprivation prevented me from consolidating any memories when he was younger.

Regardless of how little sleep she gets at one time, she is never cranky about it. She really has one of the most laid back personalities I know of. I guess that's her daddy's California roots shining through. She loves to watch us and laugh at us and with us...and we love to do the same to her.

And she must be getting enough sleep because she's damn well growing enough. Just this week, she transitioned into the 12-month clothing size--at all of 4 months of age. And when I was zipping her into her brother's pajamas--his 12 month old size pajamas--I had to stretch the fabric to close the zipper around her thigh. Not saying that she's fat...just that if she ever wants to be a cyclist, she's got the build for it. Yeesh.

What's funny about this is that it means she transitioned overnight from girl to boy. Until now, she's fit into all of the generous hand-me-downs we got from friends who had girls just before her. Now, however, Jewel has outgrown all of her older friends, and so, since we hadn't had to buy any girl clothes, she's clad entirely in hand-me-downs from her brother. In case you're wondering, yes, she's as adorable as a boy as she is as a girl.

And not at all concerned about gender issues either, thank you very much. Perhaps that's just because she's not old enough to go inside her own body.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Jan. 1: Boxing Day

After going three rounds with Mama in Wii boxing, I've decided that if I want to avoid heart failure, I'd better stick to the long distance biking.

Before you get all up in my grill about beating up girls, I'll remind you that Mama's a second-degree black belt...OK, so it's in Tae Kwon Do, not boxing, but they still punch more in TKD than I do on my bike. Furthermore, she picked a boy as her Mii for the match, so I wasn't even virtually beating up on a girl.

Also, she hit me first.

Did so. Did so. Did so.

So there.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, about how out of shape I am for my upcoming ride. I helped my cause by kicking off the new year with a knee injury. I'm hoping it goes away soon, but last night, as I was bouncing and swaying and shushing our little Jewel to sleep, I strained my knee. Something about the combined vertical, lateral, high repetition, high frequency motion while carrying a medicine ball didn't agree with my 41-year-old knee. Imagine that.

OK, she's a lot cuter than a medicine ball, but Jewel is also probably heavier than one too, so it's a fair comparison for these purposes.

Somehow, when I was a teenager, I didn't imagine the day that 15 minutes of bobbing and weaving would cause me to pull up lame. Then again, neither did I imagine the day when I'd go three rounds with my wife, laughing all the way, before finally knocking her out then giving her a kiss and having her challenge me to a rematch.

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