Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the girl with microscope eyes (or, how to improve fine motor skills)

it has been three weeks since emmi's first fledgling steps, and since then she is now officially walking around everywhere. it's great news, but the bad news is that she is now walking around everywhere. she is like a visa card in reverse: she's everywhere you don't want her to be. ergo, the gates are installed and the fences are up blocking off the tv. our living room now resembles guantanamo effin' bay, but with toys.

she also has picked up (no pun intended) a habit of finding and zooming in on the tiniest imperceptible piece of fuzz on the carpet. i look over to her, and she bends down, reaches out with thumb and forefinger, all dainty-like, and seemingly picks up nothing. yet the next thing i know is there is a thread the size of a nose hair in her hand. i grab it, put it in my pocket, and go about my business. until, that is, the next piece of fuzz makes it into her hand. i swear i don't know how she sees these in the carpet, unless we have given birth to a baby terminator who thinks that carpet fuzz is sarah connor.

and now that she is walking, she is also testing her boundaries. she understands 'no', but that sometimes doesn't stop her. i don't blame her - she is a kid, and god knows my dad is looking down and smiling, because i have found myself saying the same thing i heard as kid: 'don't touch things you're not supposed to touch...'

i have also been trying to perfect 'the look': you know, that look that a parent can give that will scare the bejeezus out of a child enough to freeze them in their tracks. i've tried it on her, but i probably look pretty dumb. i imagine i look something like the rock:

if this is true, she will probably be laughing too hard to continue the offending behavior. not quite the effect i was going for, but i guess if it works it works.

Friday, December 17, 2010

caldo verde (or, how to bridge the past and the future)

emmi had soup for lunch the other day. it was an ordinary day, and it wasn't the first time she's had soup, but it was significant. the soup she had was caldo verde, a portuguese soup made from collard greens. again, not out of the ordinary, i have been eating it all my life. but this batch was different.

as i've said before, my dad died the same week we found out kathy was pregnant, so she will never ever get to meet her grandfather. he loved cooking, and as kathy can tell you, i've picked up a lot of his mannerisms in the kitchen. as a function of having a wife, three kids, a mother-in-law, and whomever of our friends who happened to be over for dinner that night, he was fond of making huge batches of stuff and freezing them: chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. and caldo verde. a few months ago, i had found a batch in the freezer that he made before he died and had given to me. the night before, we decided to have it for dinner, i knew what it was and what it represented, but it didn't occur to me until the next day when i said i'd give some to emmi for lunch that it really hit me: here she is, eating something made for her by her grandfather. i'm not really too big on the sentimental stuff, but this kinda just felt like a big deal to me. it was something of my dad's that he created that i can share with her. it kinda makes me feel like he is a part of her life, even though he isn't here.

emmi ate it and loved it. and so did i.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

mommy bias (or, how to flip the script)

i'm a few months into my new job as professional daddy, and i have a little bit of a bone to pick with the established order of things. i understand that i am in the minority when it comes to the primary weekday caregiver, but is it really that out of the ordinary that i get puzzled looks while at the store with emmi in a stroller? are other guys so inept that total strangers feel the need to impart unsolicited advice to me? it kinda gets on my nerves that the mom is always the one who controls everything and can make everything work when it comes to kids. it's as if i am some sort of societal anomaly.

even most of the advertising is geared towards the mom. 'choosy moms choose jif.' what about dad? well, either he doesn't give a crap about peanut butter, or he's a peter pan man. enfamil formula is 'trusted by moms and pediatricians.' dad, however, is apparently skeptical. robitussin is 'recommended by dr. mom' because dr. dad is out on the golf course. kix cereal is 'kid tested, mother approved.' meanwhile, dad's choice, the sugar honey sweetieos, sit unopened in the cupboard. why is it automatically assumed that mom unilaterally makes all of the household decisions? and if this is the case, how on earth does the dad claim the title, 'head of the household'? for the most part, dad is like the queen of effin' england - leader of the empire, but having no real power.

sometimes guys are to blame for this reduced stature. nothing pisses me off more than a guy who passes responsibilities off to the mom. 'i'm the man, it's not my job.' it is neanderthals like that that is making my life more difficult. something i've learned in my year of being a dad is that in parenting, there is no such thing as 'her job' and 'his job.' any and everything that mom can do, dad should be able to do just as well, with the exception of those things that are anatomically impossible. i will never claim to be a hell of a breastfeeder.

i'll admit, i used to play the clueless dopey dad while in public, cause it got a few laughs. i stopped that though because it played into a stereotype i wanted no part of. i am still by no means perfect, but i'd like to think i'm always improving.

and for the record, skippy is my peanut butter of choice.

Friday, December 3, 2010

birth day (or, how to never forget)

as of 10:53 pm tonight, emmi has been on this side of the world for a whole year now. it still amazes me how much i remember from that day. as we know, i am more than a little scatterbrained, and i'm usually hazy on details not 10 minutes after the fact. the roller coaster actually started the night before around 1am when kathy said something i will never forget: 'ok. either i just peed myself, or my water broke...'

the contractions started around 2am, and me being the nerd i am, has to punch the 'start/stop' button on the handydandy contraction timing iphone app. folks, when apple says 'there's an app for that', they really effin' mean it. but i digress.

our first step is to labor a few hours at home, then go to the doctor's office. the act of walking into the office from the car was a 10 minute process. walk a few steps, contraction, breathe, massage, breathe....aaaand we're clear! once there, the doctor takes one looks and says, 'oh yeah, we're having a baby today.' ok, on to the hospital!

upon arriving at the maternity floor, we discovered that all the rooms were full, and that we would have to wait until a room opened up. this is where i learned the most valuable lesson of having a child: no matter how well and thoroughly you plan, something will always throw it off in some way. we had an entire plan of playing relaxing music, kathy quietly meditating, possibly even laboring in the shower to ease the pains. instead, for the first few hours, poor kathy is laying in a bed in the c-section recovery area, complete with a fresh-out-of-surgery mommy (as well as all the things that go with post-c-section), nurses constantly walking in and out, and a husband with a gallon-sized red bull in his hand constantly asking 'are you ok?'

finally a room opens up, so they roll kathy into her new private room. it's been close to 12 hours of labor, and by this time, she is getting tired and she decides to get an epidural, not so much to ease the pain of the delivery, really just to take the edge off so she can rest. it is this time that i go to get the most non-offensive smelling lunch i can find.

after a few more hours, it's time to push!!! and push!! and push! and push. and. push. my beautiful wife pushed for 3. effin. hours. there was a point the doctors and nurses left and i was the only one in there with her! after the threat of a c-section, to which kathy replied 'i have not been here pushing for 3 hours to have a c-section!', finally a little 6 lb. 13 oz. peanut made her debut.

we did not know she was a her. we didn't find out in advance if the baby was going to be a boy or girl. there are so few true happy surprises in life, and we took this chance to do it the old fashioned way - we'll know when it gets here.

only problem was, now that she was here, we still didn't know. the doctor, forgetting we didn't know in advance, turned to start cleaning up, and as it is laying on kathy's belly, the umbilical cord was covering up the telltale parts. and i was not about to go lifting it up like a kid peeking under the covers. kathy asked, 'what is it?' i said, 'i don't know!' i turned to the doctor, and he was almost out in the hallway! i had to chase him and get him back to lift up the cord to see what was (or as it turned out, wasn't) there. as i turned and got close to kathy and excitedly said to her, 'it's a girl! it's a girl!' she looked up and said, 'what??' her pregnancy hunch was that it was going to be a boy. i honestly had no clue; as long as it came out with 10 fingers, 10 toes, 2 arms, 2 legs and 1 head, i was happy. they cleaned her off, i cut the umbilical cord, (it feels very similar to cutting raw calamari) and then there she was, emmi delfina.

as i held emmi in my arms for the first time, i couldn't help but be amazed how alert she was. her eyes darted back, forth, up, down, and all around as if to say, 'hoooly crap where the hell am i? that was really freakin' trippy...'

a whole year later, it is still exciting, and scary as hell, to say the phrase, 'i have a daughter.' as she gets older, i'm looking forward to doing lots of things with her, but i'm not rushing. she took long enough to come out, i may as well follow her example and take my time and just enjoy being with her.

happy birthday beautiful baby. daddy loves you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

two small steps, one giant leap (or, how to beam with pride)

it wasn't much, but it was a lot.

emmi took her first unassisted steps tonight, in full view of me, kathy, and her godparents who happened to be on a video chat at the time. for a few weeks she's been doing a tippytoe-goosestep looking walk when holding someone's hands, and even more recently taking steps with holding just one hand, as well as cruising around any and every piece of furniture in the living room that will support her, and some that won't support her; in those cases she usually ends up on her butt with a 'wtf??' face. she has even been standing up on her own, and when she does, you can see that she is trying to figure out what should happen next.

but tonight was different. in what could be described as looking like a drunken stumble, emmi took two unassisted steps from her stand up piano to the sofa. not really believing what we just saw, we guided her back and she did it again! she knew she had done something great, because she was as excited as a squirrel in a room full of acorns.

we were excited, too. how could you not be? here's this little peanut, two days away from her first birthday, having this seminal moment in which she begins to truly take control of her own destiny. we take for granted our ability to walk, but for emmi (and all babies) it is literally a leap of faith.

well, tonight those first two steps were her leap. and nothing is gonna stop her now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i'm not a man, i'm a dad (or, how to know your role)

i was walking through home depot the other day shopping for stuff to strip wallpaper with when i realized that i know eff-all about tools. like, absolutely no knowledge whatsoever. if you asked me what orbital sanders are, i'd probably say kentucky fried chickens in space. i don't know a sawhorse from a seahorse. i know more about bacon bits than i do drill bits. i'm not sure why it happened that way; it just did.

now that i've converted to full-time stay at home dad, i find myself doing and liking things that would make any ├╝bermensch flush with testosterone-fueled rage. last week, i seriously considered dvr'ing icarly because after the 62nd time i watched the commercial, i felt compelled to find out what happens. i've also grown quite fond of spongebob squarepants. how can you not? he lives in an effin' pineapple after all!

see what i mean? at my age i should be interested in politics and home improvements and stuff. instead, i'm more concerned about what phineas and ferb are up to. this will get worse as emmi gets older, too. and she will also like girl stuff too, an area in which i also have very little to no expertise in, save for 2 years of stocking the barbie aisle working at a toy store while in college.

truth be told, i am perfectly ok with all this. i stopped worrying about trying to be a 'cool dad' a while ago because i've come to the realization that it is not me who will judge whether i am or not. emmi will. and she's the only judge whose opinion matters.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the sippycup (or, how to provide a terrible example)

so along with grown up food, we've been trying to introduce emmi to that grand chalice of toddlerhood, the sippycup. so far we've only managed to get juice on places of the house mr. clean himself would overlook. it's a slow process: give it to her, she puts it up to her mouth for 4 seconds, shakes it up, sloshing juice around and all over the place. despite the claim that the cup is 'leak-proof', it is apparently not emmi-proof.

so the other day i'm trying to re-re-re-re-re-introduce the sippycup to her. she does the 4 seconds to the mouth, tires of the thing, and tosses it away. i say to myself 'maybe i need to show her how it works!' so as i take the thing, put it up to my mouth, and start to sip, some juice does come out, and right down the wrong pipe. i spit out what's left in my mouth and start coughing, flailing all over the dining room like i'd just inhaled a habanero pepper. as soon as i get myself composed and under control, i look over at emmi. with a big smile on her face, she laughs and does a 'fake cough'. 11 months old and she has already learned how to mock me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the wiggle worm (or, how to say 'no' 37 times in 10 seconds)

i don't know when exactly this happened, but my nearly 10 month old daughter can now physically overpower me. i know i am not the most athletic of specimens, but i would have thought i could outmuscle a baby. yeah, well...

first off, she head butts like she's the effin' junk yard dog. one second she's sitting nicely in your lap, then *wigglewiggleconk!!* she has almost broken mine and kathy's nose. it has gotten to the point that i flinch when she moves at all.

she also moves around very easily as well, which makes diaper changing and loading into the car seat a challenge. it used to be easy when she couldn't flip onto her belly, now she twists and turns like a frickin' gymnast. the only chance you have to get the diaper on and her pants back in place is whatever the closest distraction you can find. otherwise, she does her best mary lou retton impersonation and you are left with a baby on her belly, a diaper half attached to her ass, and a knotted pair of pants in your hand. when you finally get one leg in, she kicks out of that leg just as you've struggled to get the other leg in. (repeat this process about 4 times) then there is the onesie. there is nothing more deflating than finally getting her pants on and then realizing you forgot to button up the damn onesie. now you are hoping you can lower the pants down just enough that she can't kick a leg off before you can snap the effin' thing under her butt.

wanna go for a drive? hope you got an extra 15 minutes so that you can tire her out enough to strap her into the carseat. she will twist, turn, stand up, stretch out, wiggle, flail, and kick until you manage to get her finally buckled in. and the strength and speed with which she does this would make houdini jealous. every now and then she will cooperate, but some days there are so many limbs flailing that you'd think you were trying to strap in a greased up epileptic squid.

so yes, she's gotten to the point that i've seen a lot of kids go through, what i call the 'wiggle worm' stage. i know she can do things that i would get a hernia if i were to try, but at least i know i can beat her at arm wrestling. i'm pretty sure anyway.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

level up! (or, how to know when it's time)

well, i'm a month in to my daddy leave. it's been an adjustment for me. i used to concern myself with beer bottles, then wine bottles. now? baby bottles. however, i have tamed those twin evil monsters in the basement: the washer and dryer. i haven't ruined any clothes or flooded the basement (again) either, yet.

emmi is growing pretty quickly. or so it seems. just last week she was at the point in which we have to get her the bigger diapers. diapers go by weight, and there is really only one way to find out when it is time to switch, and it is not pretty. let's just call it, 'her butt runneth over.'

she's also moving around really well now too. when she first started to crawl, it was very slow and deliberate. now, i pull an effin' hamstring trying to catch up with her. she can pull herself up very easily as well. she's trying to balance herself and let go, and when she does she looks up at me with an expression that can only be described as half pride and half fear. it is this moment that i realize that she puts her full, complete trust in me. I had a similar experience with her as a newborn when we gave her her first bath. she had no idea how to react, and as kathy was washing her, she looked up at me with a look as if to say 'you got me daddy??' then as i smiled, held her hand and comforted her, she seemed to relax and let kathy clean her up. it's these moments that both make me proud, and scare the ever loving shit out of me. how do you balance letting her learn on her own, including falling and getting up and trying again, without making her think you aren't going to help? it's a balance; comfort her when she falls, but make sure she doesn't really get hurt.

i have a feeling that this is going to be a recurring theme.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3rd gear (or, how to cram a month of progress into two weeks)

ok, now we're moving! no really, emmi has figured out the whole crawling thing. she was stuck in neutral for a bit, just kinda on all fours rocking back and forth, like she wanted to go, but couldn't figure out the mechanism of moving. then she hit reverse, and was going places, only she was getting there backwards. then, finally, on vacation she took her first bold crawls forward. it seems to me that her whole idea of crawling is to get to a place where she can stand, because inevitably she leads herself to something she can use to her her push herself up. that, or she will go straight for whatever it is in the room you don't want her to go near. trash bin, bookshelf, coffee table, if you don't want her near it, that's exactly where she'll be.

it must be a great feeling though. i mean, for months she has probably thought: 'i'd sure love to touch all this stuff all around me, and hell, now i can!' (ok maybe not exactly, but you get the idea.) i almost feel bad when i have to point her away from something, (for safety, you know; not because she's managed to pull every dvd off the shelf.)

this newfound power of hers coincides with my taking 12 weeks off from work to play househusband/mr. mom. it has only been a few days so far, and (not that i would have before) but any douchenozzle dad that has to ask 'what have you been doing all day?' to a mom with an infant, that mom should have the right to kick him in the nuts repeatedly. when someone said motherhood is a full time job, they lied. it's a 24 hour, always on call, holy-shit-where-is-my-caffeine-iv type job. at least at a full time job you get an hour for lunch.

i don't mind being the househusband. i welcome it, in fact. i don't want to be one of these aforementioned douchenozzles that don't want to be involved because 'it's mom's job.' i hear that at the gymboreee class from the moms a lot: 'oh he doesn't wanna go because he feels out of place' or 'it's not his thing.' well shit! anything that has to do with emmi is gonna be 'my thing!' i hope she likes the stuff i like - i'd sure love to see her strike out all the boys in little league, but if not and she wants to take ballet, i'll cram my ass into a leotard and tutu to help her practice!

so look out world. i have a daughter that is on the move, and i am now a blood-oath made member of the stroller mafia. and i think i'd look great in a tutu.

photo caption fun (or, how to cure writer's block)

i know, i haven't posted anything in a while, it's been a busy couple of weeks, which i'll get into later. in the meantime, i saw this picture in kathy's camera and thought it would be amusing to put corny captions to it.

'you want me on that wall. you need me on that wall!'

'mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall!'

'we don't need no education...'

Monday, August 2, 2010

in diapers (or, how to tempt fate)

so i've talked a little about diapers in other posts, but it's the kinda subject that needs a little bit more elaboration. the diaper change can put a person in a most precarious position, because in those few seconds, you are vulnerable to attack. i have never gotten mad at emmi, because i know she can't control it (yet). but i have been the victim of an undiapered sneak attack on more than a few occasions. a pee attack from a girl is not the same as a boy. instead of resembling an out of control hose, sometimes it can be a little dribble, other times it flows like a venetian fountain. i used to think of mcdonald's when i heard the phrase 'golden arches'. not anymore. the mess is usually confined to the space directly under her also, and usually is followed by an entire outfit change. and changing the clothes of a wet, agitated baby that is laying in a puddle and kicking like effin' bruce lee is not easy.

then there is number two. we have talked about the road tar stage, and the mustard butt stage, but since going to solid food, we are now at full on crap. there's a scene in 'three men & a baby' in which steve guttenberg (remember him? whatever happened to him anyway?) says, 'how can something so little make so much of something so disgusting?' we're at that point. there haven't been any sneak attacks at this stage yet, but if there's too much, the diaper might lose the battle. it is really not fun, because it usually ends with emmi going right into the bath tub, a pile of poopy pants making it's way to the floor, and mommy and daddy scrambling as if we were in pearl harbor in 1941. it's not that common though, because when we see emmi making a face that looks like she's trying to bend a spoon with her mind, we know something is on it's way out.

i'm not the swiftest and the most graceful with regards to diaper changing, but i will admit, i got cocky (no pun intended). i went so far as to change her in her crib at night. the first few times went off without a hitch. as long as i have everything ready, swoop the old one out and the new one in, there won't be any problem.


the sneak attack comes swiftly and silently, like a yellow ninja in the night.

i have since learned my lesson. use the change table, no matter what.

Friday, July 23, 2010

music for the miss (or, how to ruin classics)

one thing i'd really like to pass down to emmi is a love of music. music is a big part of my life, and i hope it becomes a big part of her's as well. i think it's working, because lately emmi's baby talk has taken on a singsong kind of sound. i'm hoping i can steer her in a similar direction as kathy and me, but i'm pretty much preparing for her to be into whatever the boy-band-hannah montana-bieber flavor of the month is when she gets old enough to care. this hasn't stopped me from trying though. i found the rockabye baby series, which is lullaby versions of everything from nine inch nails to queen to guns n' roses. (if you have a baby and have not heard these yet, stop reading now, go to itunes and listen to them. you'll thank me later). i've also sung to her, everything from erasure to black sabbath. i always wondered why i can remember lyrics from a song i once heard in 1987 - this is why. i have become a human baby jukebox.

sometimes i even make up my own lyrics. some are pretty simple: for instance, i seriously think she's going to grow up thinking the ramones sang 'emmi is a punk rocker.' some are a little more elaborate. and with apologies to judas priest, gary numan, talking heads, and the beatles (sorta) here are some of her favorites:

'poopin' after midnight!
cryin' til the dawn!
screamin' til the morning,
then I'm gone!'

'here in my carseat, i feel safest of all, i can lock all my doors, it's the only way to live, in carseats!'

'psycho baby!
qu'est que c'est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better crawl crawl crawl crawl crawl crawl crawl away!'

'there was a band who had a drummer and ringo was his name-o. r-i-n-g-o…'

eat your heart out, weird al.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the ball popper (or, how to eliminate fringe career choices)

so kathy found this video on youtube and became enamored with this toy:

the first thing i thought of is that it reminded me of a pick 4 lottery ball machine. in my head, i flash forward and think emmi will have a career as the girl who reads the winning numbers (it's sorta show business right? how did yolanda vega get that job anyway?) needless to say, we went out and got the playskool busy ball popper.

well, as you can see, we not only managed to traumatize emmi, we successfully ensured she will cower in fear at 9pm every night during the lottery drawing. a career in calling bingo is probably out of the question as well.

p.s. the ball popper is now in the closet until further notice.

Friday, June 25, 2010

my first father's day (or, how to not repeat past mistakes)

so it was inevitable that father's day would roll around. i have found that father's day does not get nearly enough attention in society that mother's day gets. this is not at all to discount what moms do - it just seems to me that, for the most part, father's day is not that big a deal to a lot of people. i mean, look at the stereotypical gifts: on mother's day, moms get flowers, candy, dinner, etc. all kinds of cool stuff. what do dads get? a tie, or a tool of some sort. chill out, mom, relax! but dad, you go get dressed for work or fix something! just seems a little uneven.

so father's day is different things to different people. for myself, i want to hang out with my wife and my daughter. (actually liking spending time with your family?? what an effin' concept!) i don't wanna be one of these sullen douches who wants to spend the time alone watching the game in his man-cave (a phrase that, might i add, sounds vaguely homosexual.)

so yeah, i wanna spend time with my girls. some people look at me like i have 3 heads when i say i still get along great with my wife. my usual response is, 'it's not my fault that your marriage sucks.' that usually seems to shut the dopes up for a while.

father's day also makes me think about my relationship with my dad. most people don't know this, but we found out my wife was pregnant the same week my dad died last year. you have no idea how much it fucks with your head to lose your dad and find out you're going to be a dad a few days later. my dad and i didn't have a whole lot in common when i was growing up. for a long time i resented the fact that he was such a hardass. it took me until the time emmi was born to finally understand that fathers do what need to be done, even if it means playing the bad cop to my mom's good cop. there may be times when i will have to be the same type of hardass when emmi gets older. i just don't want her resenting me like i did with my dad. i guess that's the part i'll have to figure out.

p.s. for for my father's day gift, my wife set up a surprise photo shoot for me and emmi, and this was the shot we got. she looks great, it's too bad the shot was ruined by putting me in it ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

thinking too far ahead (or, how to guarantee compliance when the time comes)

emmi is not even crawling yet, but i have already given much thought to the fact that she is a girl. as i have experienced, having a baby girl is a wonderful thing. but having a baby girl also means that in the not too distant future i will have a teenage girl. and along with teenage girls there is the certainty of teenage boys.

i know my kind, and i am seriously distrustful of them. the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) piece of advice i got about girls vs. boys is: when you have a boy, you only have to worry about one penis. when you have a girl, you have to worry about all of them. and yes, i may be getting a bit too far ahead of myself, but i have already become the overprotective dad.

i already have the lecture planned. it goes a little something like this:

emmi, i'm going to let you in on a secret: boys are stupid. they do not know their ass from their elbow, and when it comes to girls they are especially mentally challenged. it’s nothing you did, and it's not your fault, but unfortunately you have to deal with it. however, if you go into it knowing they are dumb as bricks, you will a. not waste as much time on any one particular dope, and 2. not get your feelings hurt when they act like morons. and they will act like morons.

as for compliance, i have that planned out too! i don’t believe in overt threats. however, like grand moff tarkin in star wars, i believe in fear. i also believe in psychological warfare. i have quite a few large kitchen knives. and on date night, when he comes to pick her up, they will need sharpening. another night, perhaps i’ll be quartering a chicken for dinner using a very large cleaver. maybe her uncle, the licensed texas gun owner, will be over cleaning his 9 millimeter. whichever method, the message should be understood, even if she is dating the densest meathead she can find.

have i over thought all this? i’m sure i have. but in my estimation, it’s never too early to prepare. and to start sharpening the knives.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

operation doll delivery (or, how to surprise mommy when she least expects it)

anyone who knows me knows that i am seriously forgetful. i'd forget to bring my head to work if it wasn't attached to my neck. it's not done on purpose, it just happens that i have a spaghetti strainer for a brain. so since kathy had some stuff to do in the morning, she and i were going to meet at gymboree (yes, we take emmi to gymboree. it's damn fun, ok?) and then she was to go with emmi to her mom's house up in poughkeepsie for a few days, a girls only trip where any boys within range would have rocks thrown at them. so, it fell to me to make sure i had everything she needed. i double checked and triple checked. bottles, food, jacket, blanket, binkie. i got this!


three little words turned my pride into sheer disgust: 'where's sarah jessica?' like an idiot, i had left her favorite doll on the bed while putting her in the car seat. crap crap crap crap crap!

now i feel about as small as the midgets on that 'little people big world' show. i was so proud, so happy i'd finally remembered everything!

so we go our separate ways, her to her mom's and me to work. but i have to make up for this. so i decided that instead of sitting at home with my thumb up my ass, after work, i'll stop home, pick up sarah jessica, and drive the 3 hours in traffic to poughkeepsie to make sure emmi has her doll to go to bed with, and then drive back home again after. the look on my wife's face as i got to the door clearly gave the impression she thought i was nuts, but at least i felt better that she'd have her doll tonight. and that was the important thing.

some people might think that 5 hours of driving might be too much for a doll, but for me, it was worth the peace of mind. and i didn't even have any rocks thrown at me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

the first six months (or, how to go from 0 to 1000 mph )

this week emmi is exactly six months old. when i think back to the days before she was born, i had this feeling of 'we're almost through this...' boy is that the wrong way to think. for a guy, the pregnancy is the easy part: be nice, get stuff for her, rub her feet, and don't do anything to piss her off that much. once the baby is born, after the initial excitement, you realize that this little creature has to literally learn everything, and it starts to sink in that this is really only the beginning. this prehistoric protector archetype starts to kick in, and all of a sudden you think you have to be some weird combination of superman, jesus, the dalai lama, and groucho marx. but there really is nothing that can prepare you for fatherhood. everything is learning on the fly, and even the best advice you may get from others may not work. i've found the best thing to do is do it your way while limiting your major mistakes.

that all being said, i do wish someone could have told me about a few things.

for instance, i wish someone would have told me that newborns, for the first 2 days or so, shit something akin to road tar. i could re-patch the driveway with the thick black sticky shit that was coming out of my daughter. another thing that would have been useful: after this road tar stage, someone could have told me that a babies' poop is rather explosive. i swear i almost hit the roof when an explosion the size of an m80 came out of her butt while changing her diaper. in fact, if it hadn't have just happened to me, i would have been quite impressed.

another thing that you learn: babies are easily amused. this is a really good thing. sometimes all it takes is a goofy face and the baby is amused for a while. forget toys, grab that burp cloth next to the bottle and play with that!

i wish someone would have told me that baby fingernails grow back really effin' fast. if i clip her nails on sunday, she's got a fully grown cocaine pinky nail again on tuesday. and clipping newborn nails is one of the most nervewracking undertakings you can try. one wrong move and you can seemingly chop off a fingertip. no pressure there at all.

so the most important lesson i've learned so far? it's a constant learning process. you learn a lot of stuff through good old trial and error. that and take a nap when you can.

happy 6 months, beautiful baby!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

an incomplete list of nicknames (or, how to give your child an identity crisis)

i hardly refer to anyone by their real name. i have pet names, nicknames, or other terms of endearment for almost everyone. (for those i don't have any, i probably don't care about you that much, but i digress...) so it stands to reason that emmi will have more than a few nicknames given to her. some are cute, some are weird, some are just because, some defy explanation. i wonder if she will grow up not knowing which end is up because i'm calling her a different thing every time. with that said, here are a list of nicknames she has been given at one time or another.

smiley mcsmilerson
stinky mcstinkface
the child
princess cutietoes
scream queen

some of these have a story: mustardbutt, for instance, is due to a three month old's poop looking like a bottle of french's exploded. some, like milkbreath, are pretty self explanatory. others are just my overactive imagination putting words together. i'm sure this list will expand as the years go by, but if i go on the last 6 months, i'll be shocked if she answers to emmi at all...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the booger (or, how to not rip your child's nose off her face.)

i am 33 years old, but for better or worse, i am still a child. so when i see something funny i immediately revert back to a 6 year old and giggle like a hyena. however, things are slowly changing. so when i noticed my daughter had a little booger hanging off her nose, i chuckled. that was until i tried to remove it. removing a booger from a 5 month old nose is like trying to pick up one grain of rice with the world's biggest set of chopsticks.

first, i tried to use my finger. yes, i tried to pick my daughter's nose. no luck. then a burp cloth, and she didn't take too kindly to that. at this point she gets a little fussy and starts to breathe a little quicker. now the booger is mocking me, popping in and out of her nostril like the world's smallest whack-a-mole. i tried to time my wipe so that i can get this little nugget into the burp cloth on the exhale while it's sticking out. keep in mind she is now wiggling around and i'm trying to keep her from falling while trying to time my strike. again, nothing. now i'm getting annoyed. how in the hell do you do this? i think about using tweezers, but at the rate she is wiggling now i'd probably unintentionally pierce her nose. i try the grown up way, taking the burp cloth, putting it to her nose, tissue-style, pinch a little bit, still trying to keep her still because at this point one wrong move will seemingly pull her nose off her face like mr. potato head. after about 4 wipes, success! i have defeated the booger! back to normal, life is good.

then i tell my wife about it. her response? 'why didn't you use the aspirator?' 'the whaterator?' she shows me this little tool that looks like a tiny curved turkey baster. she demonstrates how to use it on a second booger that had since grown back in my daughter's nose. 15 seconds later, pop! no more booger. there really is a tool for absolutely everything, even for picking a nose.

so what has this taught us? you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your child's nose without a turkey baster.

Friday, May 7, 2010

her first mother's day (or, how to not screw up an important day)

this is her first official mother's day. yes, she got a few cards last year while pregnant, but that doesn't really count until the child is actually here. i can't help but feel like mother's day is similar to valentine's day. by this i mean that you can give her the world on that day, but it doesn't mean anything if she's treated like shit the other 364 days. but that's not the point.

my wife does everything. no seriously, i mean everything. all i need to do is mow the lawn, pick up my socks, and kill a rogue insect every now and then. without her i wouldn't know my name from my ass. so if i can take a day to do something extra special for her, i sure as shit better do so. 'something special' doesn't necessarily mean elaborate - i'm not into pomp, and luckily neither is she. but there are plenty of things you can do. i'd tell you now what we're doing, but it's a surprise. ask me next week...

happy mother's day to all you mommys out there. enjoy your day, because you deserve it. don't go too far though, just in case daddy messes something up.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a silly idea (or, what to do during nap time.)

i am a first time parent. i have a 5 month old daughter, the first grandchild, the first great-grandchild, the first girl in my family since jehovah knows when. a first time parent needs to learn a lot real fast, and this test doesn't grade on a curve. you either fuck up or you don't. it isn't the type of job you can get away with doing a halfass job either.

anyone without kids who tries to give you parenting advice is full of shit. they've never been drooled, vomited, shit, or peed upon at 3am. they've never had to assemble a car seat. i don't care how often their nieces and nephews come over, it isn't the same.

that being said, i don't know what the hell i'm doing. there are times when i just look at her while she's screaming and say 'what did i do to break her and how the hell am i gonna fix her?' sometimes you come up with the silliest shit you can think of, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds, you think it's the best idea ever.

writing this is one of those silly ideas. this is a place for me to rant, rave, brag, bitch, complain, praise, expose problems, and offer solutions, however dumb they may be. basically, i'll describe what it's like to be a daddy. i hope you enjoy it, but if something i write here offends you, too bad. if any of this becomes helpful to you, great. if not, you at least know that i've been pooped on in the middle of the night, and that will at least give you an interesting visual.